Cogita Ante Salis.
Look before you leap.
Crossover: BtVS Season four with Season two ‘ROME’.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar; Written in glorious English-English. Roman and English idioms are used throughout this fic.
Timeline: For BtVS, Season Four episode; 4:9, ‘Something Blue’. Spoilers for Episodes 2:9 and 2:10 of ‘ROME’. Book Two of the Back in the SPQR series.
Words: Ten Chapters.
Warnings: First chapters include scenes of gang rape. There after strong language and violence.
Summary: Willow accidentally transports herself back to Egypt at the time of Anthony and Cleopatra. Can she survive long enough to carve out a new life for herself? Book Two of the 'Back in the SPQR' series of stories.
A/N2: This is not an essay on the late Roman Republic; the timeline is taken very much from the TV series. I’ve also altered Roman society a bit here and there to make the plotline fit. This is a fanfic story not an academic work.
Cogita Ante Salis.
For a midweek evening The Bronze was really buzzing; a band played and the dance floor was filled with happy young people working off the frustrations of the day by dancing ‘til they dropped. At a table a little distance from the dance floor Anya, Xander and Buffy sat gossiping and sharing a friendly non-alcoholic drink.
“Geez, you mean Oz just sent for his stuff and didn't even call her?” Xander shook his head sadly, “that’s pretty harsh.”
“I only wish I had my powers back,” sipping her drink Anya glanced at her boyfriend, “I'd liquefy his entrails for her.”
“That's sweet.” Xander smiled at Anya indulgently before looking over to the dance floor, “god, poor Will. No wonder she's…” Xander’s eyes grew wider seeing Willow on the dance floor, “…having a wonderful time.”
The three friends turned to watch as Willow danced happily about the floor with another young woman.
“Wow,” Buffy gave a low whistle, “way to re-bound.”
“I believe that's the dance of a brave little toaster,” announced Xander proudly.
Seeing her friends Willow exchanged a few words with the girl she’d been dancing with before going over to join her ‘best-buds’; she smiled happily as she approached.
“Hey, guys!” if Willow had grinned any harder her head would have split in two, “C'mon! This music's great!” Willow performed a little jig as if to prove her point.
“It's nice to see you brought your boogie shoes tonight, Will,” Xander cast Anya and Buffy a worried look.
“Yeah,” gasped Willow giddily, “I-I know I've been sort of a party-poop lately, so I said to myself, ‘Self!’ I said, ‘It's time to shake and shimmy it off’.”
“Sounds like a good policy,” Buffy’s words belied her true feelings; she’d never seen her friend act like this before.
“Yeah! And it works, too. You know, I figure, in the grand scheme of things, we're all just…” Willow bent to pick up her jacket from where it was lying under the table, a beer bottle slipped from her pocket and rolled across the floor spilling beer as it went.
“Drunk..?” Buffy asked frowning; Willow laughed and picked up the bottle.
“Drunk?” swaying slightly Willow held on tightly to the beer bottle, “I mean, that's such a-a strong word…kind of a guttural Anglo-Saxon word…drunk.”
“Will,” sighed Xander sadly, “not loving the drowning of the sorrows.”
“Not drowning…wading. A-a-and…see?” Willow pointed at the bottle, “Light beer. No big.”
“No big?” A hint of disbelief crept into Buffy’s voice, “Anyone remember when Buffy had the fun beer-fest and went one-million years B.C.?”
“Sadly without the fuzzy bikini…” Xander sighed wistfully.
“Off topic, Xander.” Anya gave her boyfriend a warning look.
“Right, topic now,” Xander walked around the table to where Willow swayed gently in the breeze, “Will, how about you give me that beer?”
“No!” Willow held the bottle out of Xander’s reach, “Why should I? I've got pain, here…”she thumped her chest over her heart, “big-time legitimate pain.”
Reaching for the bottle Xander explained that they all had ‘pain’.
“Oh, like what?” Willow retreated unsteadily from Xander’s grasp, “‘Oh, poor me…I live in a basement.’ Yeah, that's dire.”
Offended Xander shook his head and went back to the table where he sat down next to Anya who she put a supportive hand on his shoulder. Buffy, however, jumped down from her seat and grabbed Willow firmly by the arm; she wrenched the bottle from the red-head’s hand.
“Okay, you know what?” Buffy was starting to get annoyed now, “That's it…I'm taking you home.”
“No,” Willow tried to break Buffy’s grip but failed, “I don't want to.”
“Well, you'll thank me when you still have a friend in the morning.”
All of a sudden Willow gave up the struggle; she looked miserably around the table at her friends. “I just can't stand feeling this way; I want it to be over.”
“It will,” Buffy placed her arm around Willow’s shoulder, “I promise, but it's gonna take time.”
“Well, that's not good enough,” still more than a little drunk Willow allowed herself to be guided towards the door.
“I know…it's just how it is…you have to go through the pain,” Buffy waved goodnight to Xander and Anya as she and Willow headed out onto the street.
“Well, isn't there some way I can just make it go away?” Willow asked plaintively, “Just ‘cause I say so? Can't I just make it go ‘poof'?”
Closing the door behind her as quietly as she could Willow ran stealthily along the corridor to the women’s washroom. Not bothering to switch on the light she hurriedly searched through her hastily collected paraphernalia. Taking a marker pen she quickly drew a circle on the floor and then placed a dozen red candles around herself as she sat in the centre of the circle. Next she placed an incense censer, and a bowl on the floor in front of where she sat. Sitting cross-legged in the centre of the circle she held a goblet of wine in one hand and her spell book in the other. After reading the instructions she placed three small bowls containing herbs next to the other objects. Finally she settled herself to begin the spell.
“Harken all ye elements,” Willow read aloud from her spell book by the light of the candles, “I summon thee now.” She dripped some wine into the empty bowl before adding some of the herbs. “Control the outside, control within. Land and sea, fire and wind. Out of my passions, a web be spun. From this eve forth, let my will be done. So mote it be!”
Pouring the rest of the wine into the bowl a flicker of electricity connected her to the candles. The flames suddenly flared high to illuminate the room. Just for a moment Willow looked fearfully about thinking that she may have gone too far with this spell, but slowly the candles subsided and eventually went out leaving her in total darkness. Deciding to try out the spell straight away, Willow thought for a moment about what she wanted.
“It is my will,” Willow intoned, “that all my heartache would go away and I have a better life...so mote it be!”
After saying the spell nothing appeared to have changed, Willow still felt the great yawning chasm in her chest left there by Oz's departure. Feeling slightly relieved that the spell hadn't worked she climbed to her feet and felt gritty sand between her toes.
“That’s odd,” she whispered as a light came on behind her; turning she saw the sun rise over the desert.
“Please buy me, please buy me.” Willow whispered her mantra as her prospective owner walked around her slowly.
Standing with her head bowed looking at the sandy ground of the slave market; she knew better than to look a customer in the eye. Her arms hung limply by her sides as she trembled in her ragged, dirty cotton dress; she knew what would happen to her if she wasn’t sold today, Akakios the Greek would sell her to a brothel. The customer, a tall Egyptian man in his early forties, poked her in the ribs and squeezed her breast painfully, she knew better than to resist or even complain, Willow had always been quick to learn her lessons.
“She’s a bit skinny,” the Egyptian spoke in heavily accented Greek.
“She’ll soon fatten up after a week or two,” Akakios reassured him.
Muttering about the expense of feeding slaves the Egyptian pulled Willow’s head back and forced her mouth open
“Good teeth,” he let her go and let her go back to studying the ground, “I don’t know.” He said more to himself than Akakios, “She’s very pale and her hair’s the wrong colour…it’s not coloured is it?”
“I know she doesn’t look like much now, y’honour,” Akakios cast Willow a baleful glance and she began to tremble all the more, “but clean her up and she’ll provide you with years of useful service…and consider the novelty value sir. I mean there can’t be that many red haired slave girls in Egypt now…can there?”
“Weeeell,” for a moment hope grew in Willow’s heart as the Egyptian considered his position, but then all her expectations were dashed, “no…no, you can’t tempt me, Akakios, now if she was straw haired I might have reconsidered.”
“Bleedin’ right you should,” the guard opened the cage and pushed her inside, “anyway their loss is my gain…on y’back,” he ordered.
Obediently Willow lay down on her back and opened her legs, it was better if she didn’t resist. The guard knelt down between her legs and pulled aside her rags before massaging his penis to full stiffness. Willow whimpered a little as the guard lay down on top of her body and thrust himself roughly into her; this time he was mercifully quick and he didn’t hit her. The guard grunted as he came; then, having finished with her he stood up and rearranged his tunic before locking the cage door behind him.
The first time Willow had been gang raped, not long after she had been picked up by the slave train, they’d beaten her for fighting back. They'd beaten her again, when she tried to resist the second time they raped her after she’d tried to run away; she didn’t need to be beaten after that, she had learnt her lesson.
“You’re an odd one you are,” the guard looked down at her, Willow tried to wrap her rags around herself as she curled up in a ball in the corner of the cage, “mad or not it’s the brothel for you tomorrow.”
He put a bucket of water next to the cage where she could reach it, after all there was no reason for him to be cruel, the poor mad woman needed to drink just like everyone else. The guard turned and whistled happily as he walked away, it would soon be dark and he could go down to the wine shop for a jar or two. Who knows, he thought, maybe he’d screw ‘old Red’ one last time when he got back…just for old times sake. He laughed at the idea and hurried to collect his pay for the day.
Having completed her spell Willow found herself, dressed only in her pyjamas, surrounded by sand and stunted bushes. As the sun rose over the horizon she realised that she was in deep trouble. Not only had the spell gone horrendously wrong she was also standing in an area of semi-desert that stretched as far as the eye could see. After panicking and crying and beating herself up for being stupid and incompetent she calmed down a little. Realising that standing there telling herself how stupid she was wasn’t actually helping, she pulled herself together and taking her bearings from where the sun had risen she started to walk north.
North had seemed like as logical direction to go as any other; Willow knew she should walk with the sun on her right in the morning and on her left in the afternoon. Of course that assumed she was in the northern hemisphere, and on Earth. As the hours went by the sun beat down on her and she realised that water was soon going to be a problem. Walking onward, Willow looked in vain for any sign of life but there was none. As the sun set Willow stumbled to a halt in the lee of a large boulder, she fell onto the sand and pulled the inadequate protection of her pyjama jacket around her shoulders, before falling into a fitful and dream haunted sleep.
“Hey!” shouting feebly she lurched forward pushing herself into a shambling run; “Hey!” she cried hoarsely, “Wait up!”
Hope blossomed like a perfect flower in her heart when she realised that the group of people and animals had stopped.
“Thank-you…thank-you!” she gasped almost crying with relief; she saw a figure on a horse turn and ride towards her.
The rider approached her at a fast trot, his horse’s hooves kicking up the sand as he drew level with her.
“Water!” she begged sinking to her knees in a mixture of relief and exhaustion, “I gotta have water.”
The rider looked at Willow closely for a few seconds before leaning down from his horse; taking hold of the back of her pj's he heaved her up and across his saddle. Finding herself so roughly handled Willow cried out in alarm as the rider turned his horse to rejoin the little convoy.
“Hey do you mind?” Willow croaked as she bounced up and down on the saddle expecting to throw-up at any moment.
It only took a couple of minutes before Willow found herself unceremoniously dumped on the ground next to a small cart. The rider said something in a guttural language that she didn’t recognise to one of his fellows. This man jumped from his horse grabbed Willow under the arms and lifted her, none too gently, into the back of the cart.
“Hey careful where you put your hands,” Willow tried to push away the man’s hands that had somehow found their way under her jacket; the man laughed coarsely and cuffed her on the side of the head.
“Oww!” Willow squeaked, “Hey! What was that for?”
Again the man laughed before forcing the end of a damp animal skin into her mouth and squeezing. Spluttering and coughing Willow felt the water spill over her chest, realising what was happening she sucked greedily on the water skin only to have it pulled from her grasp after she had only taken a couple of mouthfuls.
“You shut up, lay there,” the man with the water skin said in thickly accented English, “get more later,” he laughed nastily and remounted his horse.
Trying to puzzle out what was going on, Willow attempted to engage the horsemen in conversation. They either didn’t understand her or were ignoring her, they did however chatter animatedly amongst themselves casting Willow lascivious glances as they did so. Starting to feel uncomfortable with the looks the horsemen were giving her, she began to wonder if these men were really her saviours.
By the time the sun had touched the horizon the convoy had stopped and made camp. The unarmed people had to do all the work and Willow was set to collecting firewood by the English speaking horseman. A couple of the older women started to mix what looked like oatmeal and water in a big cauldron and set it over the fire, they stirred it as it bubbled and Willow realised just how hungry she was, she’d not eaten for two days now.
Lining up with the other people she got to the fire were each person was given a wooden bowl of porridge but no spoon to eat it with. Uncertainly Willow looked around to see what everyone else was doing. Taking her cue from the people around her she started to eat using her fingers. When the meal was over the bowls were taken away and everyone was given a rough blanket…except her. Standing next to the fire Willow looked with uncertain eyes at the men who sat on the ground looking up at her.
“Hey,” Willow stammered, “I-I really appreciate you guys helping out.” She smiled nervously looking from one grinning face to another, “Now if you could just get me to the American embassy I’m sure someone there would reward you…honestly…mucho Dinah-ro.”
One of the men, he appeared to be the leader, stood up and took a couple of steps towards her, he stopped and laughed as she screamed in surprise and jumped away from him.
“Come on guys,” Willow slowly backed away from the group by the fire, turning her head she called over her shoulder to the people apparently sleeping under their blankets. “Hey! I could do with some help here.”
The leader laughed and said something to his friends which they all thought was incredibly funny as they broke into gales of laughter and slapped their knees at the humour of the situation. Distracted Willow didn’t see the leader guy move; he grabbed hold of her wrists and dragged her back towards the fire. Willow screamed and tried to twist herself free but it was like trying to break free of a vice.
“Hey! NO!” Willow beat her fists against the man’s arms as he started to tug off her pyjama trousers, “what y’think y’doin’?”
Not even Willow was that naïve; she knew precisely what they were going to do; she fought back as they laughed at her struggles. Eventually the Leader had had enough of her ineffectual efforts; he stopped laughing and shouted at her angrily. Not understanding Willow continued to fight as he pulled and ripped her clothes from her body; finally he hit her hard on the side of the head.
The stars spun in the heavens and Willow thought she was going to throw-up, she cried out in fear and pain as the leader entered her roughly, he hit her again and Willow drifted off into some semi-conscious hell where each of the guards and the carters took her one after the other. After they’d all taken their turn someone threw her a blanket and let her crawl off and cry herself to sleep.
The sun was a hand’s width above the horizon when one of the horsemen caught up with her, this time he didn’t haul her up onto his horse. This time he herded her back to the convoy; toying with her as he used his horse to block her every attempt at escape. Willow hoped he might fall off his horse he was laughing so hard, but, he stayed firmly in the saddle. Exhausted she staggered back to the wagons. This time instead of letting her drink they tied her to the wheel of the cart and beat her with a cane. All the time the guard who spoke English telling her this is what she could expect if she fought them or tried to escape again.
Reasoning that they must get to a town soon, Willow told herself nowhere on earth was that isolated that a town wasn’t near by. Once they got to a town she felt sure that she’d be able to escape and lose herself in the crowds and then notify the authorities and get herself handed over to the American embassy and eventually get sent home. Everyone must be frantic not knowing where she was, she was sure Buffy, Giles and Xander would be doing everything they could to find her. All she had to do was to hang on and not get herself killed…she’d get home eventually.
They’d been walking for about ten days when Willow caught a glimpse of a town from the crest of the ridge they were marching over. Below them lay green fields dotted with small white houses that seemed to shine in the sunlight. To the north she could see a great expanse of intensely blue water; the sea maybe? There were even sailing boats bobbing about and going to and fro. In spite of herself Willow was fascinated by the sights that met her eyes as they started down the long, gentle, slope towards the fields and houses.
As they reached the first field the caravan came to a halt and the guards got down from their horses. They took long lengths of rope from sacks in the back of one of the carts and tied them around each of the prisoner’s necks and then connected each prisoner to the rope around the neck of the prisoner in front until they formed a human daisy chain; obviously the guards where worried that someone might run off into the fields. It wasn’t until this point that Willow truly realised the fate that had befallen her. Right up until they’d tied her to the woman in front of her she had imagined that she would find a way out of her present dilemma. Now as the guard tied the rope her heart sank and despair filled her mind.
They walked on and Willow began to recognise things, but her mind rebelled from what her eyes were telling her. The way the villagers, who paused in their work to look at them, were dressed was familiar from childhood history lessons. It was only when she saw the perfectly painted ancient Egyptian temple on the banks of a small river did she allow herself to accept she’d never be going home.
Realising she’d screwed up big time with the spell, until now she’d at least thought she was somewhere on her own world and more importantly in her own time. It was only when she realised she’d somehow transported herself into the past that her last tenuous grip on reality slipped away and the mind numbing terror took over and she started to tremble uncontrollably.
“Well enough friend Akakios,” the desert brigand laughed and returned the Greek’s hug slapping him on the back, “still robbing people blind I see.” Kushjo held Akakios at arms length and admired the Greek’s new clothes.
“What have you got for me this time?” Breaking free of the brigand’s grasp Akakios walked towards the line of slaves who stood at the side of the road, “Another collection of broken down cripples and fat, poxed up whores?”
“You wound me!” Kushjo laughed again clutching at his heart in mock pain, “nothing but the best for my old friend Akakios.” He led the Greek over to the line of prisoners, “there’s some good field hands and house slaves here.” He pointed out several of the slaves, “and one or two of the girls…clean them up a little and they’ll fetch a pretty drachma or ten.”
“Alright,” Akakios seemed satisfied as he studied the slaves, “assuming they’re not all poxed, I’ll give you the usual for them; how many’s that? Twenty?”
“Ha,” barked Kushjo, “you forgotten how to count? Thirty-three and that one.”
He pointed at the cowed red head at the end of the line.
“Merciful Zeus!” Akakios walked over to inspect the girl, “Where did you find her?”
“She was wandering in the desert,” Kushjo pushed the girl out of line so Akakios could inspect her more easily, “We just picked her up for free…you can have her for two thirds the normal price.”
Akakios checked the girl’s teeth, eyes, and hands, she didn’t appear to be diseased even if she was in a daze; he’d seen that reaction more than once. No doubt she’d soon snap out of it and accept her new situation in life.
“She speaks Greek,” interjected Kushjo.
“She does?” Akakios glanced back at the brigand, “what’s your name girl?” He asked in his native tongue, she didn’t reply but she did look at him when he spoke so maybe the old thief was telling truth. “You had to beat her then and I see she’s been knocked about a bit.”
“She complained when we fucked her,” Kushjo smiled at the memory, “and she tried to run off. But after a couple of beatings she’s been as quiet as a lamb.”
“Alright I’ll give you a third.”
“WHAT!?!?” Cried the brigand as the girl cowered away from the two men, “How am I to pay my men and keep their respect if you cheat me so? Three fifths?”
“Half!” came Akakios’ counter offer.
“Done!” the two men shook hands on the deal.
“If you can deliver them to my compound as usual, I’ll have your money waiting for you,” Akakios signalled to one of his own men as he spoke to the bandit chief.
An Egyptian guard jumped down from his horse and took a small pot of paint and a brush from his saddle bag. He moved along the line of slaves and marked their right hands with a large red ‘A’. For the first time in her life Willow had been sold, and for a knock down price too!