Rating: M (not entirely sure, but to be safe)
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or situations. Events of Barca's pre-gladiator life came from the video comic "The Beast of Carthage" (which can be found under the video section for Spartacus: Blood and Sand in IMDb).
Summery: After death, Barca watches over Pietros.
Warning: Deals with events on the show, which include rape and suicide.
Born in a line of great warriors, Barca grew up under the pressure of a demanding father, a demanding people. Being a killer was not his way. Upon coming of age, his father demanded an oath of a warrior, an oath to become an enemy of Rome, but Barca refused. Angry, his father took the warriors and left for battle.
It was then that the Romans came, murdering many, including his mother. Barca could do nothing. His father returned too late, and upon finding the body of his wife, he disowned his only son. From then on, Barca trained, and when it was time, he gathered an army to fight Rome. They left a path of blood. Barca was victorious!
That changed the day the Romans sent an army. Outnumbered, Barca refused to be taken without a fight, but in the end, he was helpless. His men had fallen. The Romans had won. Once a free man, he was now a slave.
He and many of his people were taken to the arena. They would fight each other, and the last man would live. Barca didn't know all of them, but they had made a silent agreement. There was no choice. This was not personal. One of them would survive.
Fight by fight, Barca was the victor. Many were weak. They had never belonged in an arena. Some were strong. Finally, it was time for his last battle. Much to his surprise, it was his father. His father didn't soften his blows, and Barca expected nothing less. The fight was long and hard, but in the end, Barca gave the final blow.
"Barca, you are my son."
"And I have lived the oath, Father."
His father fell.
The crowd cheered, and Barca was soon bought into the ludus of Batiatus. He was worked and tested, as though the fights meant nothing, but he conquered every trouble, and he passed the final test to join a brotherhood of gladiators. He was a mere slave no longer!
If only he could never be helpless again.
He found love in the form of a fellow gladiator, Auctus, only to watch him killed in the games. It should have come to no surprise. Was that not going to be his own end? His troubled heart found peace in knowing that Auctus died with honor, and in time, he met Pietros. Barca didn't know what it was about him. Auctus had not been unlike himself. Strong. Hard. Aggressive. An equal. Pietros was...not. He was a low leveled slave. He was gentle and kind. He was weak.
Yet Barca loved him.
Pietros brought out his gentle side. Everywhere else, Barca was the man everyone expected him to be. He was strong. He fought and killed on command, both in and outside of the arena. His master controlled his hands, but Pietros had his heart.
. . . .
A day he came to regret was the day he went with Batiatus on a mission of revenge. Slaves had been sent to kill Batiatus, and he had figured out the source. As commanded, Barca followed. As commanded, Barca killed an entire family. When all was said and done, Barca returned home to Pietros, believing the matter was finished...but the boy found blood on his clothes. Barca was honest at first, but how could he tell his love that he had killed a young boy? He wouldn't be able to face him again. He lied to spare him the truth, though whether it was for his sake or Pietros', Barca would never really know.
Unfortunately, that lie came back to him. Someone had listened in on them that night, and word had gotten back to Batiatus. At the time, Barca didn't know how or why... He had thought he was going to talk to Batiatus about buying freedom for him and Pietros. Suddenly he was being questioned on whether or not that boy lived. Barca knew the truth, but he never felt so much panic as when he realized that Batiatus didn't believe him. Instinct kicked in, but he was outnumbered again. His body screamed as he fell for a last time.
After the darkness, Barca found himself on the ground. Bloody water flowed around him, and he saw his body being taken away. He turned over to see Auctus looking at him, and his first wonderment was how he was going to explain why he hadn't died in the arena.
Auctus smiled. "Barca."
The second was how he was going to explain that he loved Pietros more. "Auctus."
"You forget that you were not my first love," Auctus said.
Barca frowned. "You know my thoughts?"
"You also seem to have forgotten our days together. We once knew each other quite well."
"Apologies." With an offered hand, Barca got to his feet. He glanced down, feeling strange that he was dry, despite that he had just been laying in water. He quickly put that out of his mind as he took notice of those rushing around him. Leaving the small pool, he watched as evidence of his murder was cleaned. Doors opened to reveal Batiatus' latest company.
"Their news comes too late," Auctus informed.
Barca didn't know the meaning until he heard it for himself. Rumors of the boy having been found were lies. Barca's loyalty was proven too late. Had they come moments before... The thought made him ache, and Barca left those who could no longer see him. He went outside to find Pietros dancing in celebration of a freedom that would never come. How Barca wished to explain the truth. There was nothing he could do, but he couldn't pull away.
The celebration ended too shortly, and Barca followed as Pietros sought to find him.
"What good will this do?" Auctus asked as he followed Barca. "You know what lies he will hear."
"I would never leave him," Barca replied firmly.
"You already have."
Barca stopped shortly and turned to face him, angry, because he felt Auctus spoke the truth. "Then I shall follow him until he is free."
"You mean until he is dead, for that is the only freedom he will ever obtain." Auctus gestured as Pietros spoke to Ashur. "He hears it now."
Barca turned to see as his love was told that he had bought his freedom and abandoned him. His instinct was to grab the liar, but he went through him. He turned to Pietros. "I did not abandon you! I am here!" She sighed as he knew he was wrong. He had been foolish to trust Ashur.
"Ashur placed rumor in Batiatus' hands," Auctus explained, confirming Barca's beliefs. "Batiatus sent for Pietros to hear confirmation."
"Pietros is loyal to me. His words would merely match what he believed Batiatus wish to hear."
"Pity our former master will never know." Auctus smiled.
As Pietros left, Barca began to follow. He stopped and turned to Auctus when his first lover stayed put.
"You do not need me to follow Pietros around," Auctus explained. "Should you seek my help, I will return."
Knowing where Pietros was going, Barca return to Auctus. He reached the caress the side of his face. In life, he had been jealous that Auctus had loved before him. A gladiator that Barca had briefly met. In death, there was no jealousy. Barca loved Auctus, but he loved Pietros more. There was no need to explain it. A moment's touch, and Barca left to find Pietros. He found the boy crying in his room. Barca tried to wipe the tears away, but it didn't take long to realize he presence wasn't felt. Instead, he was forced to be content with simply sitting with him.
. . . .
News of his Barca's new "freedom" spread through the ludus. Barca paid little attention to anything else now. Once his duties were done, Pietros went into his room to cry, unaware that Barca still followed.
"Someday, when your mind is clear, you will realize I did not abandon you," Barca said as he sat by him. He took comfort in having his hands near, though he ached to touch. "When pain is no longer fresh." Surely within, Pietros knew the truth. Barca had to believe that.
Pietros looked up as the door opened. Gnaeus entered, holding an expression that he would not have dared to if Barca were still around. Sadness turned to anger and fear as Pietros knew there was nothing he could do. He didn't fight back. That would have only furthered the pain anyway. He was never a fighter. Before being sold to this ludus, he had been lucky. Then he had Barca to protect him. Now he had no one, and he could only grit and try to make the least amount of noise as possible. Maybe if he didn't scream loudly, Gnaeus would quickly grow bored with him.
Barca ached for the helpless feeling of his own impending death. He grew more angry, making several aggravating attempts to pull Gnaeus off. "If I were alive, you would have no weapon to harm him!" He shook his head, thinking of the time they had fought in the arena, the same day Auctus had died. "I should have killed you. Why were you spared?" If only he had known. Thumb up or thumb down. It wouldn't have mattered. If he had known this, Gnaeus would have been killed. No. Gnaeus did not have honor to die in the arena. Barca would have killed him in the ludus. If he had died, who cared? He had done whatever was asked of him, and he still was killed for being a traitor.
Pietros ran out of tears, and he became completely quiet. Whether or it was that or the time, his abuser finally got up and left without a word. He curled into himself, trying to ignore the ache. Sleep eluded him, and the tiny bit he found was plagued with nightmares. He often woke up, expecting to find Gnaeus over him again. When he could finally move, he forgot about sleep. His duties would be starting soon. Before they did, he left to clean blood and cover tender bruises.
Barca didn't follow. He remained where he had stayed all night, sitting in a corner, staring at the bed. The events of the night before played out as though it was still happening. They broke only when Barca became aware that Auctus was there. "That's why you wanted me to leave."
"In this place, we both know he would not be alone for long."
Barca shot him a look. "Leave me." He had always been the dominant one in his relationships.
"Do you truly want to follow him around and watch?"
Auctus sighed. "He has changed you."
"You do not think I would have done the same for you?"
"If I were as soft as him, you would not have loved me." He tilted his head slightly. "It is not easy for me to leave you to suffer. At least, seek my company."
"I cannot seek comfort while Pietros has none." He watched Auctus' eyes flicker downward before he left to go find Pietros again.
. . . .
In the days that followed, there was nothing Barca could do but watch and curse. His gladiator brothers seemed oblivious to the true nature of Gnaeus' actions. Surprising, two of the newest, Spartacus and Varro, seemed the most aware, and Barca gave quiet gratitude as the former gave Pietros orders as a way of getting him away from Gnaeus.
One morning, after Gnaeus had gone, Pietros seemed strangely calm. From his corner, Barca watched as his love worked on rope. He often spoke to him, though Pietros was never aware, but for the moment, the Gladiator was quiet as a loop was formed. The rope was tied, and Barca felt a mix of emotions. Though born a slave, Pietros had never considered this option before. His joy and light had disappeared with Barca's death. Perhaps this was for the best. Unless Gnaeus died soon in the arena, there'd be nothing left of the Pietros that Barca loved. Still... Barca hadn't wanted it to end this way. He'd be content follow Pietros around for years, so long as Pietros was happy.
"I have failed us both," Barca said as Pietros opened the bird cages. The birds they had both cared for didn't move, and Pietros didn't make movement to scare them off. It probably wouldn't have worked anyway. They had stopped fearing humans long ago.
As Pietros climbed to position, Barca moved closer. The boy closed his eyes and whispered for Barca. Since Barca had gone, it was the first time Pietros spoke of him without venom.
"I never left."
Pietros jumped. The jolt alarmed the birds, and it was only then that they realized they were free. Though he wanted death, his body struggled. For several minutes, Pietros remained in a half conscious state, body twitching. He finally lost conscious, and Barca felt the life drain away. Soon, the real Pietros was on the floor, under what was now a hanging shell. He looked as dazed as Barca had felt after death. He startled when Barca reached for him.
"Barca?" His expression turned to realization, then guilt for ever believing he had been left behind.
Barca kissed him before taking him into his arms. It had been so long, and now he could finally touch him, could finally hold him. He felt his form press against him, shuddering of the last days of pain. Before Pietros was calm, Spartacus and Varro rushed in with worry. Barca wondered the reason until he saw the birds were making their way out.
"He has freed himself." The two men gave a few seconds of respect before leaving as quickly as they had come.
Barca looked down to Pietros. Already, he saw a spark of the boy he knew returning. There was no need for words. The two had often enjoyed each other's company in silence, and Barca planned to do that now. If only it wasn't interrupted by Auctus. This wasn't the time, and with a simple look, Barca conveyed his feelings about that.
"My intent is not interruption," Auctus informed. "I believe Gnaeus is not long for this world."
Barca stood with Pietros. "How?"
Auctus grabbed Barca's arm, and soon all three of them were at the bottom of a cliff they all knew very well. He smirked at Barca's surprise. "If not for spending your days following him around, you would know something of our world." He looked up to the falling man. "Spartacus was...angry."
Pietros looked up to see his abuser falling towards them. Gnaeus even seemed afraid, though not of death itself, but the manner of which he was about to die. There had been no choice in the matter, no honor. He looked to Barca, somehow knowing, that he had at least gone down fighting. Gnaeus had nothing, and his body was soon crushed upon impact.
"Time to leave," Auctus announced.
"What of Gnaeus?" Barca asked, eager at the idea of avenging Pietros.
"You were only allowed to stay for Pietros. You have him now."
Barca kept a look on Gnaeus. After what he had done, could he just walk away? Had they all been alive, Barca would not have even considered it. He had once crushed the balls of a new recruit who had simply made Pietros feel uncomfortable, promising that the rest would follow if he so much as gave the boy a wrong look.
Pietros took his arm, urging him to leave. He had a faint realization that wherever they were all going, he'd never have to see Gnaeus again. He had never been one for revenge. "We are free." He smiled as he felt Barca's hands take a protective hold on him. "He is not."
Barca held him for a moment before giving a nod for Auctus to lead them the way. Somehow, he knew Pietros was right.