By: Mei Mei (2005)
AN: Yes, Titus Pullo and Lucius Veronus are characters from the new HBO series, ROME. I wrote this after seeing only one or two episodes and falling completely in love with Titus Pullo. However, HBO did not make them up either, and they are based off of real soldiers in Caesar's army. This story is non-canon to the TV show of ROME and is not fan fiction of that show.
Chapter One - The Pride & Glory of Caius Aurelius
Caius Aurelius praised the gods for his good fortune, for he currently found himself in the courts of Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. Rome had suffered heavily in the past year and the heir of Julius Caesar had wasted neither time nor effort securing his rights. The feast now celebrated his adoption and his power, but Rome also knew it dared those present to question his legitimacy. However, the current state of Rome's politics was not troubling Caius Aurelius in his current state. The aroma of fine wines and tasty meats wafted through the heady night air, and he smiled perhaps a little too drunkenly as he saw two of his children approaching.
His son, Marcus Aurelius, was himself commander of the Eleventh Legion and happy it made Caius indeed, for Marcus Aurelius was in Octavian's good graces and friendly with Marcus Antonius, as well. Beside Marcus Aurelius stood his young daughter, Aurelia, only seventeen years of age and yet already so elegant and beautiful. He would be lucky to marry her to many men, yet he had refused all offers for her hand. He was wise, wealthy and his family was of good standing in Rome and, perhaps, Caius was also proud, for when it came to his daughter, no man had yet been good enough. Why, he was Caius Aurelius, merchant of Italy and much of Rome, and his father was Tiberius Aurelius Cicero, a senator. No, he thought, there have not been any men worthy of my daughter's hand, yet.
"Father, dear," Aurelia smiled up at him, blue eyes smiling at him, "Tell me, do you remember Pullo Maximus?" Caius laughed deeply and wrapped an arm around each child, more for support than affection.
"Child, you know Gnaeus and I shared a very deep friendship in our younger years. What are you playing at, girl, that you bother your dear, old father with such questions?" His tone suggested annoyance, but his eyes twinkled merrily down at his daughter and he wrapped his fingers in the ebony curls falling around her small shoulders, pulling her closer affectionately.
"You know I mean no mischief by asking you such things - but much time has passed since we saw our dear relation last. However, age or no, that man-" Aurelia extended a slender arm towards a crowd of soldiers, "looks remarkably like our old friend and I was thinking him his son. He does look the proper age, does he not?"
"My dear girl!" Caius exclaimed, swaying slightly in his excitement. Gnaeus Pullo Maximus had indeed been a close friend to their family before his death nearly a decade prior. "He does indeed look like my old friend," he continued, squinting to see the man better in his inebriated state. "Marcus Aurelius, who is that soldier? Serves he with you?"
"His name is Titus Pullo and yes, he is in my command, along with his companions there, Lucius Veronus and Leonius Cornelius- good soldiers, strong and loyal. However, I know not if he is related to Pullo Maximus. Though his nomen gentile is Pullo as well, he has never spoken of any relations in my company." Marcus Aurelius's gaze then traveled from his father to the soldiers, then back to his little sister. He smiled sardonically. So, that answered the reasoning behind Aurelia's varied questions throughout the night. Marcus Aurelia's had indeed thought it odd that Aurelia suddenly was so preoccupied with a man who had died well before her sixth birthday. Aurelia was never one to hide her intentions and he predicted his father's next words before they left his mouth, as well as the look of pleasure he knew would soon follow on Aurelia's face. Oh, the things she gets herself into, he thought. So, she wanted to meet Pullo - well, she was quite beautiful and he was sure Pullo would waste no time in introducing himself.
"Well, let's not be timid, young ones, Caius Aurelius intends to know just whether of not this is the son of Gnaeus - and if so, a celebration it will be indeed! We shall have a feast in honor of his father and our rekindled connection through his son." Caius marched forward, arm still around Aurelia, swaying slightly to the left as he went. Marcus Aurelius laughed at Aurelia's pleased smile and followed them through the throng.
"I tell you, Veronus, I am not the soldier you met all those years ago. I am a changed man!" Pullo grinned down, wrapping one arm around his friend, gesturing boldly with his other, spilling a bit of wine on his chest as he motioned to himself. Admittedly, he was quite drunk. "I have gained responsibility and honor - why, I dare say even virtue!" Veronus snorted loudly, wine coming up through his nose as he pulled away from Pullo, guffawing loudly.
"You mean you visit cleaner brothels!" Veronus cried, and even Leonius Cornelius laughed in chorus at Pullo's indignant look.
"You mock me, friend. I am a changed man, believe it or no. My days of whoring are over." Veronus's normal stoic nature was lost somewhere in his consumption of drink, and he grinned sarcastically at his friend.
"I think, Pullo, that you are insane - that the plate in your cranium has finally poisoned your mind and you have succumbed to madness." Pullo pulled away from Veronus, his arm dropping limply at his side as he stared out over the crowd. Veronus and Leonius frowned, afraid that perhaps all their years of berating Pullo on his miscreant ways had finally defeated their large friend.
"Caesar is blessed with the gods indeed and Venus herself has come to celebrate his latest triumph!" Veronus frowned and followed what he realized to be Pullo's fixated gaze rather than defeated, blank stare. He noted their legion commander, Marcus Aurelius, walking their way, following an older man and a young girl. He assumed this girl to be the point with which Pullo seemed so utterly transfixed and grinned. Titus Pullo had changed, indeed.
"Marcus Aurelius, pleasure as always, sir," Leonius greeted, saluting his commander, Veronus and Pullo following his lead. "How fair you, sir, at Caesar's great feast?"
"I am well, Leonius, many thanks. Allow me to introduce my father, Caius Aurelius." All three soldiers bowed, though Pullo seemed to bow a little deeper and smile a little broader than his companions, his eyes darting ever so often to Aurelia.
"Father, may I introduce three of my legion's finest- Lucius Veronus, Leonius Cornelius and Titus Pullo." Caius nodded quickly and smiled broadly, wasting no time in the pursuit of his purpose.
"Titus Pullo, I ask you, would you be of any relation to Gnaeus Pullo Maximus?" At mention of the name, Pullo's smile seemed to flicker, but he cleared his throat and nodded as he respectfully replied.
"Yes, sir, he was my father." Caius clapped Marcus Aurelius on the back in triumph.
"Wonderful, wonderful! Oh my boy! Now, I doubt you remember me. That is all understandable, however - you were quite young last your father and I were in each others presence- but Gnaeus was my dear and most true friend and we often feasted in each other's homes and shared in each others triumphs! The gods bless him, your father. A good man he was, rest his soul." Pullo nodded, his smile now fully departed.
"Yes, sir, my mother always spoke your praise before her death." Caius frowned in turn.
"It was indeed a tragedy to hear of your mother's passing. She was a virtuous woman, a sturdy wife and loving mother," Caius's voice faded wistfully, but he no sooner spoke than shook his head and smiled once more. "But none of this - your parents would not want us here so mournful at such a time as this! Here, here - Aurelia, fetch us some wine and be quick! A toast to rekindled relations! A toast to Caesar!" Aurelia pouted prettily at her father, but bowed her head and turned dutifully to do as her father asked.
She should have known better, to think Marcus Aurelius would introduce her. If she knew her brother at all she would say he had avoided her introduction purposely, just to cause her rise. What a foul and loathsome creature, that brother of hers, but albeit, she grinned. Her brother did love his tricks and games - she'd only have to think of a fitting one to play him in return. She stopped her gait, though, and stood frowning. Where was that blasted Mettia to fetch some wine? No doubt it she had found her lover and secluded to some corner of Caesar's gardens, for she had no doubt that Augustus Mettulus's pageboy was here with his master as well.
The thought of the old merchant gave Aurelia pause, and she scanned the throng for her father's business partner. Spying him amidst a few other elders, she walked forward, stopping to smile prettily once she reached them.
"Why if it isn't Caius Aurelius's own beauty, young Aurelia. My dear child, give your uncle Mettulus a kiss!" The round, silver haired man reached for her then, pulling her onto his lap. She smiled, kissing him soundly on the cheek.
"Oh uncle, how you compliment me!" She grinned at his loud guffaw, and smiled at his companions. "Gentlemen, do not let my uncle charm you so, he is a feisty old man and always up to his tricks! He means to even ensnare me here with his flattery, though I do say it seems to have worked." She caught her 'uncle' winking to her ever so slightly from the corner of her eye.
"Now child, what is it you need of old uncle?" He patted her bottom fondly and she in turn smiled at him, though her stomach turned inside.
"My father wishes to make toast with his companions and sent me to fetch some wine, but I cannot find our servant girl anywhere and I was hoping, sweet uncle," she petted his cheek and smiled demurely, "since I know Mettia is fond of your page boy, that you could perhaps send the boy to find her." Mettulus laughed and called for her wife's chambermaid, who stood dutifully not five feet away.
"Costa, fetch Honorus and bid him and Mettia take Caius Aurelius some wine for toasting. He stands yonder, with young master Marcus Aurelius. Be quick girl." The servant girl disappeared quickly, but Aurelia seemed more focused on her 'uncle's' roaming hands. "Now, child, stay here with your uncle a bit longer, you make such lovely company."
Aurelia tried not to grimace as she felt her uncle's hands dig into her bottom. She giggled prettily at his companions, and then scanned the throng quickly for some means of escape. Mettulus wasted no time in his drunken state, however, and she gasped lightly when she felt his hand slide between her thighs, thin linen the only thing separating skin from skin. He continued to talk to his comrades, only subtly moving his hand further up her thigh ever so often. She whimpered in disgust when she felt his fingers brush her, and bit her lips in silence once she realized it only encouraged him further. She looked down, to the side, anywhere but at the men surrounding her.
"My mistress, your father has been calling for you!" she heard a voice exclaim and upon seeing Titus Pullo before her, she smiled brilliantly. She turned, kissing Mettulus on the cheek.
"Forgive me, uncle, I believe father is making his toast now. Please excuse me." She stood quickly and linked arms with Titus Pullo. Mettulus glared at the young man, then chuckled quickly.
"Be sure to come visit soon, Aurelia." She nodded politely and encouraged Titus Pullo quickly forward and away from Mettulus.
"Thank you kindly, soldier, I knew not how to take my leave without causing discord." He was tremendously taller than her own short stature, she noted as she gazed up at him. Pullo smiled.
"Your father made toast long ago, but we wondered, when the wine arrived without it's mistress, to where you had disappeared," Pullo smiled in a cordial manner, but his words seemed tight as he continued, "I see now where." Aurelia frowned; did he think her and Mettulus lovers?
"Mettulus thinks it seductive to caress me while I call him uncle. I do not."
"Your lover is not considerate to your needs." Pullo's pace had slowed to a stop and Aurelia stepped forward, caught off guard. She turned to face him and frowned.
"Mettulus is not my lover, nor will he ever be." She slid her hand slowly up the arm that had just been linked with hers. She gazed up at him, blue eyes shining. "I promise you that, Titus Pullo." His eyes met hers slowly and he returned her gesture.
"Will I find myself at the hand of some angry lover if I kiss you now?" Aurelia smiled prettily, and, taking his face between her hands, pulled his head down to meet her own. Pullo wasted no time pulling the small girl behind a pillar to their left.
"Aurelia." Pullo pulled back first, confused. However, at the sight of his legion captain not ten feet away, Pullo quickly disengaged himself from Aurelia, his hand moving towards his sword in defensive reflex. Aurelia, for her part, should have looked thoroughly chastised, but only glared in contempt.
"Yes, brother?" Pullo, unsure whether or not he should be relieved it was only Aurelia's brother and not a jealous lover, said nothing and stood dutifully in attention.
"Father has beckoned me send you home now, it is late." Aurelia sighed. She wanted to kick and scream at the sudden unfairness her father had yet again caused. She knew that it would do no good, for she had tried it once before, and instead she just sighed further and frowned.
"Five minutes, Marcus Aurelius." Her voice held little room for question, but her eyes pleaded silently.
"Aurelia-" Marcus Aurelius stepped forward warningly and Aurelia's innocent doe-eyed stare quickly vanished.
"Five minutes, I beg of you, brother." She nearly spat the words as she lowered herself from the small alcove bench onto which Pullo, for all his brutish form, had so deftly maneuvered her. Kissing between them had proven awkward, for she was barely eye level to his chest when next to his towering form.
"I will turn my back and I will stand outside this archway, but I go no further. " Marcus Aurelius looked from his sister to his soldier and tried his best to maintain his stoic appearance. His father did keep a very tight reign on Aurelia and it always amused her brother how much she tried to fight it. "Five minutes, Aurelia."
Aurelia sighed. She glanced for the first time at the large man breathing heavily beside her. He was red and overtly embarrassed, which none could blame him, his legion captain had caught him, openly fondling said captain's young, unmarried sister.
"I'm a dead man."
"You are not a dead man."
"Marcus Aurelius is my superior! I have offended him greatly."
Aurelia, now standing on the ground, lifted herself as far as she could on her toes and stretching her neck, just barely pressed her lips to his. At first he stood stiffly, unmoving and she huffed slightly, her body stretching beyond its means. But slowly, he relented, bowing his frame to meet hers.
"You are not a dead man," she murmured when they separated, "rather, my father keeps a tight reign on my virginity." Pullo groaned heavily, his lips and warm breath sliding over her forehead as she dropped to the balls of her feet. "Does that displease you, soldier?" He wrapped his arms tightly about her, lifting her body and her face closer to his once more.
"It makes it harder to keep my wits about you, my Lady." Aurelia smiled prettily, proud of her effect on Pullo. Though she would have much rather stayed with Pullo all evening, knowing at least he felt the same was a small comfort.
"I must go, soldier, but most assuredly I will see you again. My father will not forget your meeting." Pullo grinned slowly.
"I had forgotten your father plans to celebrate our meeting. I will look forward to it, most expectantly." He kissed Aurelia quickly, not willing to face the wrath or younger or elder Aurelius. He left her then, saluting Marucs Aurelius politely as he passed through the door of the alcove.