Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gladiator belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and Ridley Scott.

"She's killed another one," said Pankratios.

The cup shattered when it struck the floor, wine slopping everywhere.

"Three," shouted Proximo, "that's three she's...!"

Pankratios waited. Proximo threw his stool into a wall and shattered the pitcher the wine had come in before he got control of himself.

"Three," he gasped, when he'd regained his breath. "Three grown men, killed by a..." He hesitated. "How did this one die?"

"Broken neck."

"She broke his...? The idiot left her hands free?"

"No." Proximo turned to Pankratios, expression disbelieving. "I chained her wrists myself."

They stood without speech for a while, in the hot, stale air. From outside, they could hear the roaring of the lions the beast-tamers were working with in the square.

"She broke the chain," finished Proximo, sitting heavily down on the ledge of the opening in the wall. "Again."

Pankratios did not move. "Again."

Proximo grumbled as he put his hand on the table, over a clay tablet to which he had been adding numbers. The room reeked of wine and dredges now, a heady, cloying smell of fermentation. "That Egyptian. He wouldn't tell me where he got her. I should have known something was wrong when he sold her so cheap."

Pankratios said nothing. He remembered the slaver, remembered the terror in the man's eyes while he watched his own guards haul out the covered box he'd claimed they kept the girl in. They'd sneered at the Egyptian then, calling him a neutered priest so unused to women that he put them in cages as if they were lions.

"Nothing for it, then," sighed Proximo. "Still, I'll get some use out of her."

Pankratios would have scowled, but a slave did not scowl, not in front of his master.

"Put her in with the gladiators," said Proximo.