Fandom: The Eagle, movieverse
Rating: M for Man Smut
Pairing: Marcus/Esca (who else?)
Marcus sat beneath a tree near the heart of his property. He leaned back against the bark, feeling it rub against his skin through the thin fabric of his tunic. It was just past noon and he was slicing up the last of his lunch, an apple, with a small dagger. Leaving the slices balanced on the blade, he brought them to his mouth and slid each piece off with his teeth, a habit he'd picked up from his father as a child.
As Marcus ate, he stared down at the sprawling acres of his land. He sat at the top of small rise, giving him a view for miles. To the north were nearly endless fields of wheat that bowed and churned in the wind as a turbulent, golden ocean. In the west were his pastures. Marcus kept a few cows and pigs for the sake of slaughter in the winter months, but most of the pastures were dotted with horses. There were enough of them that they thundered through the grassy hills in a herd, one of Esca's carefully chosen stallions at the head of the group.
It had been nearly a year since he had returned the gold standard of the ninth to the Roman people and his government's gratitude had been overwhelming. First, they offered him a position as centurion of the newly recreated ninth legion, but despite his powerful desire to return to the life of a soldier, his crippling leg wound prevented his attempts to do so. Since his adventures above Hadrian's Wall, it had been particularly temperamental. It ached before it rained and sometimes the muscles clamped down so tightly that he'd have to spend the next hour rubbing them loose.
When Rome could not grant him a new position in their ranks, they asked what else would suffice as a reward for his bravery. The land he was gazing upon was only the tip of a long stream of gifts from, not just Rome's government, but all of the people who heard of his trials. They came from the far reaches of England to see him and hear the tale from his lips. Marcus humored many, but became weary quickly as guest after guest refused to acknowledge Esca's brave deeds as well.
Marcus paused with a piece of apple halfway to his mouth as his friend came to mind. His dark eyes strayed away from the vivid display of horseflesh pounding through the fields to a small training circle much closer to his resting place. Esca had a sleek, black yearling inside the fenced in area and was coaxing it around the fence line with quiet words in Gaelic and the light touch of a willow branch.
Without Esca, Marcus never would have made it back with the eagle. Without him, Marcus never would have made it back alive. Those who came to hear the tale of the eagle didn't understand what kind of bond could be formed between master and slave, even if the slave had been freed. They weren't there. They couldn't understand the depth of loyalty Marcus had found in Esca. To them, he was still just a barbarian.
Even now, when Esca could have returned to the Highlands, or carved out his place in Roman England, he stayed with Marcus. Though it was a surprise to Marcus, it pleased him that the tribesman wanted to remain by his side. He'd told Esca that he would not blame him if he decided to leave, but Esca had only stared in response, something like amusement dancing in his stormy, blue eyes.
So they had come to this farm together, torn between Marcus's decision to grow crops like his father and Esca's suggestions about breeding horses. Marcus finally settled on splitting his land up for both, giving Esca a hefty allowance to buy his first few yearlings. As much as it annoyed Marcus to admit, the horses brought in better money than his wheat did. A good sum of the money went right back into the farm, but Marcus was keeping careful count of what came in and all the gains were split between the two of them. When he'd handed Esca his half in the first month of real profit, the Celt had been startled and perhaps a bit confused, but Marcus assured him that the land belonged to both of them, as did the profits.
Feeling the cool juice from the apple run down his arm, Marcus lifted the knife to his lips and ate the neglected slice off of it. He didn't pay much mind to the next cut, pressing the blade into the fruit by feel alone as he watched Esca work with the young mare.
Marcus admired Esca's tone arms, watching the play of muscle while Esca wound the horse's lead rope around his hand and urged the animal forward with the narrow branch. The sunlight caught on the swirling designs on Esca's bicep, the ink a stark contrast to his otherwise pale skin. More than once, Marcus had wanted to follow the design with his fingertips. Sometimes the urge was so great that his hands seemed to itch with need.
As if the Brigante could feel his eyes, Esca lifted his head and met Marcus's gaze. A half smile curved the edges of Esca's mouth, just enough to give away his amusement. Marcus could feel the quip coming even before Esca could voice it.
"Are you going to sit up there all day while I work?" the Briton shouted in accented Latin.
Marcus chuckled and ate the last of his apple, responding, "Perhaps you should consider leaving your work and having some lunch before I finish everything off."
It had taken months to get Esca to speak openly. He was a man of few words and fewer expressions, something Marcus understood and respected. As they became more comfortable with their new roles as friends, Esca learned that he did not have to hold his tongue around Marcus the way he used to. It wasn't long before Marcus began to expect Esca's dry, biting wit and often looked to him when a situation seemed particularly apt for commentary.
Esca tossed the branch to the edge of the arena and lifted the two slats that made up the gate to let the yearling loose. She darted around Esca, her high spirits showing as she kicked up her back hooves and shook out her mane while she ran. She held her tail up as she trotted, the silky black strands flowing like a banner behind her.
As Marcus watched the yearling return to the herd, it occurred to him that Esca had much in common with his horses. Though he could be coaxed into acting civilly, he was not tame. His trust could be earned, but he would never be broken to the will of another. Even as a slave, Esca had proven that beyond any doubt.
Esca crested the rise at a walk, "You'd better have left me one of those apples."
Even as Marcus reached into the basket he'd brought from the house, he jested, "It is far too late for those, but I think I've got some old goat cheese that doesn't smell too badly yet."
"Liar," Esca scowled, dropping onto the grass next to Marcus.
Marcus handed the last apple over; offering Esca his knife even though he knew Esca had one of his own. Taking both the fruit and the blade, Esca cut the apple in half and held the bigger half out to Marcus. The Roman shook his head and, with a shrug, Esca started eating. While Esca stared out at the pastures, Marcus studied Esca. His eyes roamed over the Briton's longish hair, down to his stern brow and high cheekbones. Without realizing it, Marcus let his gaze linger on Esca's mouth as the Celt licked juice off of his bottom lip.
Swallowing, Marcus forced his eyes back to the fields of wheat. Though it wasn't something he'd ever brought up with Esca, Marcus tended to prefer the beds of men to that of women. It was very common for Roman soldiers to seek the company of other soldiers. For some, it was to tide over their sexual appetites until they were back with their mistresses and wives, but for others the companionship of men extended beyond their time in the military.
In Rome, younger men were often encouraged to find an older man to share a bed with, someone they could learn from throughout the relationship. A bond between men was considered deeper, stronger than that between a man and a woman.
Outside of Rome's great empire, being taken by a man was not viewed the same way. Marcus knew that some tribes would complete their victories over others by raping the enemy combatants. It was a degrading act designed to strip both pride and the will to fight. While Marcus wanted to run his hands along Esca's tattooed body as he slipped inside the smaller man, he had enough sense to keep those urges to himself.
"How's your leg today?"
It took Marcus a moment to shake off his thoughts and compose himself before he could even turn to face Esca. He must've looked puzzled, because the Briton asked again.
"Your leg?" Esca pressed, motioning at Marcus's bad thigh. "Are you up for a bit of sparring?"
As the topic was breeched, Marcus rubbed at the muscles subconsciously. There was a slight stiffness from being on it all morning, but no pain to speak of. Marcus hesitated to tell Esca as much. He enjoyed sparring, but they usually ended up grappling by the time they were done and Marcus had to exercise a massive amount of discipline to keep his desires under control. He wasn't so sure he was capable of it today.
Quirking his head slightly to the side, Esca searched his face, his brow furrowing. "You should've told me it was getting bad," he scolded, reaching to work the knots out like he used to do when he was still Marcus's body slave.
Marcus caught his hands. "It's not bad," he said quickly, wanting Esca's hands on him even less than he wanted to spar. When he really was in pain, Esca's touch wasn't arousing, it was necessary. But when he wasn't feeling the ache of his old injury, the rough massage Esca normally gave him would be an exercise in self-control.
Esca sat back, his narrow features darkening slightly. Shifting his weight, Marcus turned away from the searching stare and released his hold on Esca's wrists. He tried to keep his expression neutral, knowing that any wince or grimace would give Esca more to draw on. Despite his attempts to keep calm, he could hear his heart hammering in his ears. Marcus never suffered from nerves before a fight, but they were making a mess of him now. At least the sweat gathering at his brow could be explained away by the fall heat.
Marcus couldn't hide much from his companion. Even as a slave, Esca had been very perceptive to Marcus's thoughts and emotions, but his ability to sense the Roman's dishonesty had increased greatly since they'd been working the farm together. There was only one thing Marcus would ever lie to him about, and Esca was starting to pick up on it. It left Marcus feeling unsettled and uncomfortable. He was afraid that when Esca found out, it would be the one thing that would drive him away.
Breaking his intense scrutiny, Esca plucked what was left of a loaf of bread out of the basket and tore a small chuck off. Bits of crust fell onto the ground and the tan leather of Esca's breeches, which he brushed away absently. Marcus slowly allowed himself to relax. Either he'd managed to fool Esca into thinking that nothing was wrong, or the Celt had chosen not to argue with him. The latter was more likely.
After he'd eaten most of the bread, Esca tossed out a comment that made Marcus flush with embarrassment, "You don't need to hide behind that wound. If you're so afraid you'll lose, you should just say so."
Marcus glared at him, mouth open and moving even though he was too offended to find words. Esca's barely contained smirk was only making things worse.
"I am not hiding behind it," Marcus nearly snarled. "And I would not lose to you."
Esca's smirk grew. He cast a sidelong glance at Marcus, mirth glinting in his eyes as he said, "Ah, but we've never gotten far enough along to find that out for sure. The last time we grappled, you complained about your leg and we had to stop."
Marcus snapped his mouth shut when he realized it was hanging open. He had cut things short last time, but it had very little to do with his leg and more to do with the fact that first time he'd managed to pin Esca, something deeply savage had woken up inside of him. It had screamed with a primal voice that he should make Esca HIS in a manner that had nothing to do with slavery or servitude. The only way Marcus could keep from breaking to his feral side was to remove himself from the situation as quickly as possible.
Marcus dredged his mind for a proper answer for Esca, settling on, "And it stormed that evening, remember? You know my leg is always bad when the weather changes."
Esca made a sound in his throat that might have been a scoff, "And the time before, when we were in a dry spell? Just admit that you're afraid I'll win and let's be done with it."
Even knowing that Esca was baiting him, Marcus couldn't let the man continue to question his honor. Faster than most people would be able to react, Marcus lunged at Esca, but the Celt was ready for it. They tumbled through the long grass that grew outside of the tree's shade, rolling over and over each other as they struggled.
Esca laughed as he fended Marcus off. The genuine smile that spread on the Briton's normally stoic features made Marcus forget any anger that he might have had over Esca's comments. A smug smirk managed to twist up Marcus's mouth as he pinned Esca's shoulders to the ground.
Before he could consider celebrating his victory, the Celt pushed his forearm into the inside of Marcus's elbow and threw his weight into Marcus's chest. The dark-haired Roman tumbled back into the soft grass, Esca coming down on top of him before he could recover. Vaguely, Marcus considered the idea that he hadn't given the Briton's strength enough credit. Small though he was, Esca had too much fire in him to let Marcus win so easily.
Marcus hooked an arm around Esca's narrow shoulders and twisted so he could roll over on him as Esca fell. For a brief second, Marcus's hands scrabbled blindly for a hold until he found one of Esca's arms. He grabbed hold of it and pushed it down into the bent grass.
They stopped for breath and Marcus marveled at the intensity of the blue in Esca's eyes when the sunlight caught them. Any amusement Esca had was gone now, replaced by something that Marcus couldn't interpret. The Celt's expression was intense, his gaze focused so tightly on Marcus's own that the Roman swore he was using some kind of arcane magic to view his soul.
Warmth bloomed and spread from Marcus's abdomen. His eyes hooded as the primal voice he was becoming too familiar with began to whisper in the back of his mind. Fear rose with his need, fear of revealing his true nature to Esca.
He lifted his weight off Esca's chest and got to his knees, a barely thought out lie coming to his lips, "I- I forgot I have to go into town for… for…"
Esca didn't seem to be listening. He took advantage of Marcus's retreat, hooking his leg behind both of the Roman's and shoving him off balance. An involuntary grunt was pushed from Marcus as Esca fell on him. The surprise of it gave Esca the chance to grab both of Marcus's wrists and pin them above his head. He pressed his weight on Marcus, the length of his body stretching out on the Roman's well-muscled torso.
One of Esca's legs was still threaded around Marcus's bad leg, his hips titled heavily against the left side of Marcus's pelvis. Their chests were pressed so tightly that Marcus experienced each of Esca's breaths as though he'd made it himself. His body was reacting to Esca's, fire racing underneath his skin and his cock hardening quickly. There would be no way to explain that to the Celt since Marcus knew Esca could feel his erection growing. Marcus squeezed his eyes shut, the heat of his shame nearly overwhelming his lust.
Esca growled softly against his ear, and Marcus's eyes snapped back open. His lips parted with a silent moan as Esca tilted his hips, alerting Marcus to the fact that the Celt was just as aroused as he was. Esca's hard flesh rubbed firmly against Marcus's thigh and the last shred of Marcus's control was swept away.
Marcus met Esca's untamed gaze and saw the challenge there. He couldn't have the Briton without earning the right to take him. Using the messy tangle Esca had left their legs in, Marcus shifted Esca's thighs apart with his knees and thrust his hips up against the smaller man.
"I'll have you," the Roman exhaled, not sure whether it was a promise, or acceptance, or a challenge of his own.
Esca shuddered at the words. His eyes fell almost shut and a half moan, half growl rumbled deep in his chest. With a heave, Marcus threw him back and they continued to roll and struggle through the grasses. Their battle for dominance was not unlike the play from before, but the laughter was replaced with panted moans and Marcus's mumbling and swearing.
Hands skidded along sweat-slicked bodies, pushing up tunics and ripping at breeches fastenings. Fabric tore as they frantically pulled at their clothing. Neither man stayed above the other for long. Dirt and grass clung to the bare skin they managed to reveal, but they didn't notice.
Marcus wound his fingers tightly in Esca's sandy hair, holding him down as he came over top of the man's pale frame. Bracing himself for Esca's attempts to regain control, Marcus knew he'd finally gained the upper hand. For a few moments, Esca bucked and fought beneath him, but his movements slowed as his eyes found Marcus's face. Without any warning, Esca's struggling morphed into a rolling, grinding, maddening dance that brought every bit of his naked flesh in contact with Marcus's.
Their arousals clashed in an uncoordinated rhythm as Marcus tried to thrust against Esca while the Celt continued to writhe beneath him. A frustrated groan passed through Marcus's mouth as he grabbed Esca's hips to still them. As Marcus took control, Esca slid his arms underneath Marcus's and yanked the Roman down by his shoulders. He bit whatever flesh he could reach, scraping both tongue and teeth across the muscle joining Marcus's neck and shoulder. Involuntarily, Marcus released his hold on Esca's hair, giving the Celt more freedom to torment him.
"Esca," Marcus murmured, his voice ragged with his need to be sheathed in the smaller man's heat. He wanted permission, wanted to hear Esca tell him that it was all right. Even with as active as Esca had been in their exchange, Marcus had to know that his consent was undeniable. He continued to grind their erections together, but turned his mouth against the Celt's ear, calling again, "Esca."
When Esca dropped away from mouthing his clavicle, Marcus wasn't so sure that he was going to get a direct answer. Esca was wild with need, his eyes so feral that Marcus swore he could see the Celt's savage homeland staring out at him. It was like being back in those uncharted hills and glens. Marcus could almost feel the chilled bite of the air.
Brow furrowed, Marcus studied Esca while he slipped two fingers between his lips and slicked them with spit. The Briton watched his motion intently, almost hungrily. As Marcus slid his hand down between their bodies, Esca let his thighs open wider and hooked his legs up high around Marcus's hips. Marcus stilled his thrusts long enough to find the tight ring of muscles that guarded Esca's entrance. He ran his index finger around the pucker, but didn't push it inside. Esca's entire body trembled at his touch.
"Will you let me take you?" Marcus asked even though Esca's body had said enough.
Esca's head dropped back, his feral eyes rolling shut as he started speaking. Instead of Latin, the melodic tones of Gaelic streamed from him, punctuated only by his gasps for air. From the handful of terms Marcus had picked up over the last few seasons, he managed to translate enough to be satisfied with the response.
Marcus caught Esca's babbling mouth with his own, silencing him with his tongue as he pushed both fingers into Esca at once. The Briton's body arched at the intrusion, but he didn't try to pull away. Interior walls clamped down on Marcus's fingers, tightening as he tried to work them open.
Pulling away, Marcus frowned at Esca's pained expression. The harder he worked to get Esca prepared, the tenser the Celt became. Words flowed into Marcus's mind, words he'd heard Esca use time and again to calm frightened horses. Placing a gentle kiss on the other man's neck, Marcus whispered to him in broken, but well-meaning Gaelic.
Coming from Marcus, the phrases were not nearly as beautiful or smooth. His tongue was not accustomed to forming the rounded syllables and he stumbled over the words he couldn't remember clearly. Even so, Esca began to relax underneath him. One by one, the interior muscles relented to Marcus's stretching. When Esca's groans held no pain, Marcus withdrew his hand.
Marcus squeezed his cock firmly with a shuddering moan and gathered the precome on his fingers, using it to slick the length. He was so close to release that he didn't let his hand linger too long. Carefully, Marcus lined the head up against Esca's stretched hole and pushed forward. Esca's grip tightened on Marcus's shoulders to the point that it would bruise, his nails breaking the first few layers of skin. Despite Marcus's careful preparation, Esca tensed around him, resisting the invasion.
Mumbling softly in his fractured Gaelic, Marcus ran a soothing hand over Esca's side. Slowly, Esca's resistance crumbled and Marcus slid deeper. They shared a moan as Marcus pushed the rest of the way in. He didn't wait, pulling out immediately and thrusting back in with a quick snap of his hips. Esca's back curved and his mouth fell open, though he could find no sound to make. Marcus stilled, afraid he'd hurt him, but Esca pushed back against him.
"Tuilleadh…" Esca groaned the word, one that wasn't familiar to Marcus. He followed it up with, "Please, Marcus."
The raw need in his voice spurred Marcus forward. He started a quick, nearly savage pace at Esca's urging. Their frantic movements found a similar rhythm and the pleasure soared as Esca rolled his hips into Marcus's thrusts. Neither man could utter a sensible syllable, reduced by their lust to growls and whimpers. It was a language that needed no translation.
Heat burned Marcus's insides, enough of it that he felt as though he'd swallowed burning embers from the fireplace. Sweat stood out on his olive-hued skin, lubricating his slide against Esca's flesh as he pounded into the willing Celt. He felt his release coming within reach, but he wanted Esca to climax first.
Marcus opened his eyes in time to see a drop of sweat roll off his lashes and splash onto Esca's upturned face. With his expression tense with pleasure, Esca was beautiful. The hard lines that were reminders of the Briton's unpleasant history were gone, replaced by a kind of unadulterated bliss that Marcus decided he wanted to see as often as he could.
Marcus pushed the damp bangs off of Esca's forehead, kissing his brow, then his cheek, and finally his mouth. Esca's lips parted at the press of his tongue and Marcus swept in to take his spoils. Strangely, Esca allowed him to dominate the kiss, though he actively curled his tongue against the Roman's. Submissiveness of any kind from Esca was as foreign to Marcus as the land beyond the reaches of Rome's empire.
Working his other hand down between their bodies, Marcus closed his fingers around Esca's straining erection. The seal of their mouths broke as Esca let out a hoarse cry. Marcus smiled against the Celt's throat and squeezed his cock firmly, sliding his fist along the length. As Esca's orgasm descended on him, he stretched out underneath Marcus, his muscles cording and twitching from the force of it. His body closed around Marcus's cock, constricting to the point that Marcus couldn't hold back.
Marcus grabbed Esca's hips with both hands and slammed in as deep as he could get before spilling himself. His release pulsed through him with such intensity that his entire world narrowed to sensation of Esca's body surrounding him, to the scorching heat of his orgasm, to the feel of Esca's seed splashing across his stomach and chest. His world became Esca.
When the pleasure started its slow crawl back into the hidden recesses, Marcus collapsed with his companion. His muscular frame shuddered in the aftermath as he struggled to regain his breath. A dull throb radiated from his bad leg. It had probably started hurting some time during their coupling, but Marcus hadn't noticed. Now, it was already promising to ache him the rest of the day and into the night. He wasn't too worried because he was certain he could get Esca to help him work through the pain.
The Celt's legs untangled from around Marcus's hips and fell to either side of him. Since Esca wasn't complaining about Marcus resting on him, Marcus wasn't inclined to move. He did shift to the side enough that his spent cock slid free of Esca. Marcus lifted his head and pressed his nose into the Celt's damp hair, inhaling the lingering scent of their intercourse.
Esca lightly trailed his hands down Marcus's back and said, "By the way, 'capall' means 'mare'." There was amusement in his voice.
Marcus couldn't stop his smile, "It seemed apt. You were letting me-"
"Don't say it. I'm not a mare, no matter whether you ride me or not."
Marcus laughed and traced the dark lines of Esca's tattoo with the pad of his thumb. "No, you're no mare," he agreed softly. "You're not tamable like they are."
For a time, there was no noise but the sound of the wind moving through the grass and the leaves of the tree. Far off in the fields, the stallion whinnied.
"If you're going to want to speak Gaelic, you're going to have to let me teach you."
"I butchered it, didn't I?"
"Like the first cow of winter."
Marcus cringed at the comparison even though there was no malice in Esca's words. Esca turned his head so he could meet Marcus's eyes. Their noses touched and Esca's lips brushed against his as Esca spoke.
"But I think you're the first Roman I've met who's tried it."
Nibbling enticingly at Esca's lower lip, Marcus asked, "So I didn't offend you?"
Esca surged forward to press their mouths together in a fierce kiss and that was answer enough.
Not sure why this had such a long build up, other than I wanted to establish the setting and that required a bit of explanation. I don't know. Watched The Eagle again the other day and this rabid smut bunny wouldn't leave me alone. It's fairly generic, but I enjoyed it and I hope you did too.