disclaimer: I do not own these historical figures.
warnings: Slash, graphic sexual content (later on).
author notes: It's been a long while since I studied these two brilliant men so I do apologise if I get a few facts wrong...in general I believe I am correct but please point out any errors so I may change them. Well I don't expect many readers but I hope those of you who do read enjoy it.
The title will make sense later.
historical background knowledge:
When I first wrote this I expected those who read it to have a basic knowledge of the history, though I'd like to think it isn't absolutely necessary. As a brief overview; Marcus Tullius Cicero was joint Consul with Antonius Hybrida in 63 BC. Many people were dissatisfied with the poverty and homelessness affecting ex-soldiers and Rome in general. Catilina, an ambitious but debt-ridden Senator, took it upon himself to lead a revolution against Rome with the intent of killing various members of the senate, burning parts of Rome and cancelling all debts. Cicero had been informed about this but few in the senate actually believed it and, because Catilina and he were known to be rivals, most Senators believed he was just being petty and targetting his enemy for no other reason than that he disliked Catilina. Protesting his innocence Catilina offered himself into voluntary house arrest and asked several Senators - including Cicero - to keep him under arrest in their houses. It is from this point that I begin my story - but whilst historically Cicero said no, in my fic he has already said yes.
The Story of Set and Horus; Chapter One; Religion
As the doors closed behind them Cicero shivered, suddenly wishing to be anywhere but there. Now even his own house, his refuge, his sanctuary, tasted sour to him. Tiro, his favourite servant, hovered nearby with sharp eyes and the famous orator felt somewhat comforted by this; Tiro mightn't be the strongest of men, but at least Cicero was not alone with Catilina. For even though the Senator had ostentatiously left his dagger outside the house, the Consul was not convinced that it was his only weapon.
'Pretty,' the senator next to him remarked as he looked around slowly. 'I'd heard you had an eye for houses. Never thought I'd get to judge that for myself though.' Perhaps this was sarcasm, for Cicero's house was only a small one on the Esquiline hill, but the patrician's tone was deceptively genuine.
'Tiro,' Cicero called the servant over with a constrained voice, ignoring the faux-pleasantness of his prisoner. 'Make sure this man is unarmed.'
'Oh Marcus you wrong me!' Catilina protested, palms facing upwards in front of him innocently as Tiro obediently, albeit a little reluctantly, began to pat the bunches of toga covering the supposed-revolutionist's lithe body. Cicero opened his mouth to reply but shut it again. That, he decided irritably, was not even worth a response. Though Catilina's tone had been light, however, his eyes were cold as they bored into Cicero's over Tiro's searching hands, and the younger of the two men found that he couldn't keep the gaze.
'He's unarmed, master,' Tiro confirmed a couple of minutes later, retreating to stand several paces away from the black haired, voluntary prisoner. Catilina didn't even spare him a glance as he dropped his hands back to his sides, eyes still fixed on Cicero, and the orator took a deep breath and tried to think. After the Senatus Consultum Ultimum had been decreed he had employed a personal body guard and armed men to surround his house. Without thinking, he had left them outside as usual - but now he reconsidered and, strolling back to the door, opened them a crack and ordered two of the men inside.
'Watch this man and don't let him leave the house,' Cicero commanded without looking at Catilina, fingernails digging into his right palm to keep himself calm. He was sorely regretting his decision to accept Catilina into his house but, he reminded himself, it was a necessary precaution to stop the revolutionist from succeeding in his plans. He only wished that the impeccable, patrician born senator would wipe that smug smile off of his charming face. It was unnerving. 'Tiro, prepare a room for our…guest. And make sure he's well looked after. I shall be in my study if you need me.'
And with that Cicero swiftly left, unable to stand any longer in the same room as that proud, febrile man who had haunted his nightmares and fearful, waking thoughts for far too long now. His skin still prickled even when he had sat himself down behind his desk and poured himself some wine, and his hand shook as he tried to drink it.
'This is stupid,' he groaned to himself quietly. 'Pull yourself together you coward. It was your choice to bring him here, he's in your custody, under your control. Why should you be scared of him?'
'Marcus.' The harsh feminine voice from the doorway made him start. Terentia pulled up a chair and sat down uninvited, but Cicero had no strength to tell her to leave him alone. 'What are you doing, bringing a man like that into this house? Isn't it enough for you to cower every time you walk out the door? Now you want to shake and whimper in your own home too?'
This was what he needed, Cicero realised; someone else to tell him that he was being stupid, someone he couldn't stand being told that by. This way he would have to defend himself and, perhaps, he would come to believe his defence. He drew himself up importantly, though it didn't make him any taller than Terentia who was not the delicate creature he had always envisioned marrying when he was younger. Then he cleared his throat and eyed her gravely.
'I know what I'm doing Terentia. Lucius Sergius Catilina is unarmed and guarded and poses no threat to us here. Nor, now, does he pose any threat outside of this house. With him under house arrest he will not be able to meet with his conspirators or join in meetings of the senate. He will lose track of the political sphere and become frustrated. And if - when - he attempts to flaunt his captivity, I shall have basis for convincing those still unconvinced of his treachery.'
'This is a voluntary house arrest proposed by him,' Terentia said slowly, meaningfully. 'If you think he hasn't already considered these things and planned for them then you are more fool than I ever imagined was possible. Even from you.'
Cicero bristled. 'Enough. I'm no fool to one who understands the situation. He may have suggested this arrest but I believe that he was in jest, carried away with himself and his words, and he certainly didn't expect me to accept. Do you think I would have said yes otherwise?'
'I do not think anything of you anymore,' Terentia replied stonily, stubbornly convinced that she was right and her husband was wrong. Standing stiffly, she exited the study and Cicero stared after her with helpless anger inside of him, though he knew not whether it was directed at Terentia or Catilina. Or even himself. With a wince at the bitter taste of the watered wine Cicero drained the cup and reached out a surprisingly steady hand to pour himself a refill.
Cena was an awkward affair, with Terentia cold and detached and Tullia, Cicero's teenage daughter, curious but silenced by the atmosphere. She had to content herself by stealing furtive glances at their guest who, in stark contrast to the tenseness of everyone around him, appeared to be completely at ease. Tullia, sixteen years of age, had been married just that year and would ordinarily be living with her husband - but she was still not entirely over the shock of leaving the family home and every now and then Piso would allow her to spend a few days with her parents; such as now.
Terentia excused herself early to tend to the youngest of the family, two-year-old Marcus, who didn't eat with them, and Cicero told Tullia to be gone as well, put out by the interest she was showing in the charming man who shared his couch. With a final glance Tullia stood and left but not before, Cicero saw in outrage, Catilina had winked at her; a lazy, suggestive wink that had every one of the orator's hairs standing on edge.
As the food disappeared and the wine was brought out Cicero became acutely aware that he was being scrutinised, and it took all of his self-control not to snap so tense was he. Instead he turned his head and glared at the man reclining beside him, looking at him for the first time since the cena had started. Delighted at this acknowledgement Catilina grinned.
'You have a beautiful daughter.'
Cicero suppressed a growl, but his words were terse as he bit them out. 'You think so?'
'You don't?' Catilina feigned surprise and took a glass of wine from the slave-girl.
Taking a long draught of the wine Cicero briefly closed his eyes and prayed for composure. His wit returned a little. 'Unlike some people I don't ogle my own daughter.'
Catilina laughed, apparently unoffended, and gave Cicero an appraising look over the rim of his cup. Cicero stared at a point over the other man's shoulder, uncomfortable with the gaze. His only saving grace, as far as he was concerned, was that he wasn't scared; but that might have had something to do with the two guards standing nearby…or possibly the wine. Flicking his eyes over to Catilina's again Cicero saw that he was still being examined and an imperceptible shiver ran down his spine.
'Do you need anything?' He forced himself to ask, if just to cut through the unbearable silence.
'Conversation would be nice,' Catilina replied, tilting his head slightly as his eyes glittered out a challenge. 'You are, after all, famous for your words.'
Cicero had not expected this but he could hardly back out now and it was not a wholly unreasonable request. 'Very well. What would you like to discuss?'
'Religion.' The word was not rushed but, equally, there had been no hesitation or pause for thought. Cicero eyed his nemesis warily.
'Yes? And which god do you favour?' Unable to stop himself Cicero added, a little spitefully, 'Strife?'
A small smile curled Catilina's lips. 'I don't favour any gods.'
'No? Is that because no god favours you?'
The smile did not waver. 'Please drop that tone with me, Marcus Tullius. I worship no gods because there are no gods to worship.'
With a concerted effort Cicero forced his voice to be calm and conversational, though his words were no more pleasant. 'Of course. When every other type of depravity cloaks your life why not add impiety?' He held out his cup to be refilled and met the sapphire orbs of his companion as if he was of equal birth.
'Why would you want to believe in gods who are just as petty as mortals?' Catilina wondered, ignoring the slight.
'I couldn't possibly believe in something that did not have faults.'
'Because you are mortal,' Catilina agreed, 'and know that it is impossible for a mortal to be flawless. But gods are not mortals. Why shouldn't they be perfect?'
Cicero frowned as if he could taste the words and they were sour. 'Don't try to corrupt me. I believe in the gods because that is what my father believed and his father before him and so on. The gods are ageless and have been worshipped since the start of time. Does that add nothing to their cause?'
'That is the argument of a stubborn man unable to see beyond his own line of vision,' Catilina retorted scornfully. 'You remind me of Pentheus with all your short-sightedness - and look at what happened to him.'
'Is that a threat?' Cicero asked bluntly and Catilina blinked at him before throwing his head back and laughing loudly. The new-man shifted awkwardly at this reaction, glancing briefly at the two guards standing nearby. Perhaps he had been trying to read too much into the words.
'Oh dear,' Catilina gasped, catching his breath. 'I didn't realise you were so on edge. Jumping at that!' He chuckled, shook his head; 'Like a frightened mouse.'
'A mouse?' Cicero was obviously offended. Catilina sobered a little, though his eyes still danced amusement.
'No,' he decided, looking at Cicero thoughtfully. 'A mouse is too quiet an animal to compare you to.'
'Thank you,' the host bit, hoping to end the conversation there, but Catilina ignored him.
'A grasshopper is a better allusion,' he announced, nodding his head and obviously pleased at himself for having made the link. 'The little blighters can jump ridiculously high and make an awful racket.'
Cicero rose from the couch rather stonily as his companion chuckled at his own joke. Handing his half-empty cup of wine to the waiting slave-girl he cleared his throat and stared down at Catilina with as much dignity as he could manage. The playful blue eyes of his now-silent companion gazed up at him expectantly.
'Good night, Senator. I hope you sleep well.'
Catilina smirked back. 'And you, Consul, and you.'
So that's the end of the first chapter!
Please review and thanks for reading,