Pairings: 1x2x1, 3x4x3, 5xS
Warnings: yaoi, au (roman empire), violence, angst, sap, annoying Relena, Duo in a dress (very VERY briefly), ex-Gladiator Trowa, scummyTrieze, out-of-control OOC Zechs, mild Duo Trauma, liberties with Heero's character (he might be ooc, but I like
him so I'm keeping him), historical INaccuracy, excessive footnotes, Quatre and Heero are brothers (all will be
explained!), more liberties with age and build (no 98 lb. 15-year-olds in this fic), eventual citrus.
Historical notes: I wrote this while working on a paper for my archaeology course, and then I DID Roman archaeology,
and I've been to Rome so some of this stuff in here is accurate, but some is still made up. I will try to point
out which is which, This thing has more footnotes than my paper! I got an A on the paper, btw.
Summary: Set among the sex and politics of the Roman Empire. Heero Yuy, a Captain in the Roman Legion, acquires Sylvan bandit/mercenary Duo in an unusual manner. How will Duo cope with being a slave and moving to the biggest city in the world? Off the battlefield, Heero is a discontented aristocrat with mysterious origins. Duo shines with talents no one expected, and falls for the
Captain with no heart to give him. In short, an epic romp through ancient Rome with the cast of Gundam Wing.
To prepare Duo to serve at Quatre's party, Heero had him serve lunch the next day.
"The key is to learn to read the guests needs," Heero began his instruction. "The two important things: don't spill anything and don't speak unless spoken to. You are to be invisible until needed."
Duo made a face and Heero could tell he didn't like this already. Duo was not the kind of person who easily made himself invisible. However, Duo concentrated on the job as Heero coached him through lunch. Heero was very demanding, barking orders at him to be attentive, not let a glass go empty, not wait to be asked, quickly remove any used dishes. Duo didn't spill anything or break anything, and he refrained from speaking.
Heero was hard on him but really, he had done a great job. Heero was convinced he was going to be very good at this. When he had finished lunch and Duo had cleared all the dishes, he invited Duo to sit across from him at the small round table.
"Well done," Heero said, "I was challenging you on purpose. My brother's party tonight is actually very informal, and he would never be this demanding. I wanted to see how well you could do under pressure. I am hoping for you to help at my father's parties too, which are very formal and arduous."
Duo rested his elbows on the table and his chin in his hands. Heero could tell he did not like the whole ‘seen and not heard' part of it.
"Listen," Heero said, leaning forward, "if you do this good of a job, Quatre will probably pay you. You can either keep it, or give it to me to start buying your freedom. Do what you like. I haven't decided yet how much you are worth, but you started payments with the jewelry I gave to my niece. I will keep accurate books for you. You can ask to see them any time."
Duo looked a little happier, but he was disheartened again by the fact that he would have to buy his own freedom. Heero noticed this. He wondered if he should say anything. He felt like a hypocrite for keeping slaves even though he thought it was wrong. Slavery was just a fact of life in Roman society. Religion and imprinting were used to make even the slaves believe they were innately inferior. That's why it was so difficult for formerly free people like Duo to adjust. Fate was the only thing that separated the free from the slaves. Duo wasn't inferior, he was just caught on the wrong side of a war.
Heero cleared his throat and went over the guest list. "I believe he has invited just close friends. Trowa of course, Wu Fei, perhaps Zechs, and the Manguanac brothers. They are a lively bunch, buddies of Quatre's from school."
"Why aren't you going?" Duo piped up.
"I have some reports to finish and other work to catch up on," Heero replied. Duo gave him a ‘doubt it' look but kept quiet.
"Am I supposed to wear this?" Duo asked, referring to his skimpy belt and skirt combo. He was still a little uncomfortable being half naked all the time. And the hair. Not his favorite.
"Yes," Heero answered simply, as if he couldn't figure out why Duo was asking. He was still deluding himself that he had Duo dressed that way to make sure he wasn't mistaken for a girl.
That evening, Duo was to report to Quatre's head slave, Lucius, who was in the kitchen preparing. He was a middle-aged man with the kind disposition of his master.
"You look nervous!" he noted.
"Heero's been preparing me all afternoon. I don't wanna mess this up!" Duo fretted as he piled plates on a tray.
Lucius laughed. "If Master Heero's been preparing you, then take my word for it, you are over-prepared for one of Master Quatre's small parties! If you have any questions, let me know. If you're not sure about something or don't know what to do, let me handle it. You're gonna do just fine."
Lucius showed the guests in and got them seated. Duo watched while he served the first round of drinks and appetizers. The group talked politics for a while and Duo emerged to top off the glasses. Quatre thanked him and Trowa nodded at him, but otherwise, he was generally ignored.
After a few more drinks, when the group bored of politics, one of the Maguanacs good-naturedly chided Quatre that he hadn't invited any entertainment girls to sing or play music. The others laughed and said they also wished they had entertainment.
"Wait a minute," Quatre piped up, feeling the alcohol just a bit. "Duo!" he called.
"Yes, Sir?" Duo asked as he filled Zechs' glass.
"You lived with women for a few years didn't you?" Quatre asked.
"Yes, Sir." Duo answered tentatively. A few of the men laughed. "Hey, don't laugh, Hercules did it, and so did Achilles!" Duo reminded them. They raised their eyebrows and chuckled in agreement.
"Duo, do you know how to sing or play any musical instruments?" Quatre asked.
"Heero!" Quatre called as he rushed through the garden where Heero was having customary solitary breakfast. Heero looked up surprised.
"Good morning, Quatre," he said, "what brings you here?"
"To bring you this for Duo!" Quatre handed him a heavy bag of coins. Heero was shocked by the amount.
"He must have done well," Heero reasoned.
"Oh, Heero, he was terrific! You should have told us! He was so funny and - Wait a minute," Quatre read his brother's confusion. "Did you not know that Duo can sing and dance?"
"He can what?" Heero asked, thinking he had misheard.
"He can sing, dance, and play several instruments! He lived with women, remember?" Quatre reminded him excitedly. "He was such a riot, Heero! He sang, played, and told stories all night! I can't remember the last time I laughed so much! Some of his stories - even Trowa was laughing!"
Heero didn't know what to say. Duo had gone against everything he had told him, and everyone loved it. "I'll make sure he gets this," Heero assured Quatre as the blonde youth excused himself to attend to business.
Heero summoned Duo. "This is for you from Quatre," he nodded to the heavy bag of coins when Duo appeared from the kitchen.
"Really?" Duo asked in disbelief.
"Yes. Why didn't you tell me you could entertain like that?" Heero questioned him.
"Uh, it never came up, I guess," Duo replied with a shrug.
Heero didn't tell him this, but unfortunately, this would drive his worth up.
"That's all for me?" Duo asked, still in shock.
"It's yours, take it," Heero said.
Duo opened the sack and dug his fingers around inside with glee. He'd never had so much money. He counted out a few coins and handed the bag back to Heero. "For the Freedom Fund," he grinned. "How much more do I have to earn?"
"I haven't decided yet." Heero said. Duo didn't look pleased by that. "I - Can I hear you?" Heero asked suddenly.
"Huh?" Duo looked at him.
"I want to hear you sing." Heero said more authoritatively, "to help me determine the amount."
"Now? Uh, ok. What do you want to hear?" Duo asked.
"Anything." Heero shrugged.
"Oh-kaaaaay..." Duo thought, "How about a song about breakfast!" Heero nodded.
Heero listened to Duo sing a humorous, innuendo-filled little limerick about breakfast with one's beloved. He had a smooth, lyrical baritone and was very expressive as he sang.
"And you dance and play instruments as well?" Heero asked when Duo had finished. Duo nodded vigorously. Heero wasn't going to tell Duo this, but these talents were going to drive his worth up significantly.
Zechs visited Heero later in the afternoon, also extolling Duo's talents.
"Duo entertained us last night," Zechs told him. "Heero, he is incredibly talented!"
Heero knew his friend very well. "No, Zechs," he said dryly.
"He's engaging and witty -"
"No, Zechs," Heero repeated himself.
" - and smart and amiable - "
"No, Zechs," Heero said again.
" - and he has the body of Apollo!"
"You wouldn't want to.... sell him to me would you?" Zechs implored.
"No. He's not for sale. Besides, I thought you and Lucrezia were going to start a family. You don't need a slave like him around." Heero reminded his friend. He knew his friend had a thing for beautiful young men. In fact, when they first met, he had come on to Heero. Zechs' invitations were always so subtle and understated that it had taken Heero, in his typical oblivion to human emotion, a few weeks to realize his new acquaintance wanted more than friendship. When Heero finally figured it out, he was surprised but respectfully turned Zechs down. The friendship that had grown between them since was strong and deep-rooted.
But he wasn't selling Duo.
"I see..." Zechs relented, giving Heero a dubious look.
"Hey! It's not like that - " Heero realized what his friend was inferring.
"Finally keeping one for yourself, eh old friend?! I was right to give the trouble maker to you!" Zechs teased him. He was only kidding, he could tell nothing was really going on. The Winners did not take advantage of slaves. But it would be nice to see his comrade take romantic or sexual interest in someone. Duo was very appealing in many ways, surely even Heero Yuy had to have noticed.
Yup, both of the mentioned macho mythological war heroes lived as women. Achilles did it ‘cause his mom made him! It was prophesized that he would die in the next battle, so she made him hide. Hercules did it either as one of his Labors, or as punishment for something. He pretended to be a handmaiden for some amount of time. That's kind of where I got the idea for Duo's predicament.
The Winner Philosophy on slave holding - impossible. I made it up. Romans would never have treated their slaves so well, it was looked-down upon. I don't get the feeling that the Romans treated slaves as badly as early Americans treated their African slaves, but Romans really did believe that that they were superior to slaves. Some owners were nice, it was also looked-down upon to be cruel to slaves, but slaves were really there to serve the master how ever they wished.