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A Kind Of Nothing

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He has dreamed of this a hundred times -- has had Caius Martius gasping under him, cruelly tight and opened to all his uses, crying his name or too winded from their exertions for speech. He has held him down -- cursing him, or laughing, well-matched and willing -- and made such headway on him as to have him moaning, plucked from him his satisfaction until at the last moment he should wake and find himself uselessly spent, frustrated in even the imagination of such a conquest, alone in a hard cold bed. The dreams haven't stopped even with his wife at his side; she must know by now - if she'd once shied away from the violence of his dreams, now she fears their ardor. Sometimes he's persevered and played the scene out to its end after waking, lying in the dark with eyes shut and a nerveless hand clasping his cock; the result has been the same, another poured-out mess and a dull ache that lingers until morning. Some dozen times he's dreamed that it's Caius who penetrates him, having more than won the privilege, and it's been so vivid and so strange that it's woken him from his sleep then and there. But more often than that he has imagined leaving bruises on the backs of his strong thighs, tracking with his fingernails against the fine hairs of his legs and making him shiver. He has imagined him savaged, bloody, aching, welcome and willing for more.

Finding him reluctant is a disappointment for which Tullus hadn't prepared. He asks and knows his answer from his face.

The scene he's imagined innumerable times is all skewed, twisted at wrong angles and played in the wrong key. He'd never even hoped to have him as an equal, a companion. Caius Martius, the man in person, is proud even in supplication, and so much more than his most feverish imaginings. He lacks none of the strengths which become a soldier, his virtues speak even better for him as an ally than an opponent, he is more terrible and beautiful than in all their past clinches. He's proud, he's chaste as an icicle, he balks. Caius Martius will not lie under him, unless it be to be trod beneath his heel.

It's the jolt of hearing the words that staggers him, and lets Aufidius quickly gain the advantage, throwing him over. He has him, caught by a handful of cloth at his throat; now he has his full attention. The movements of his eyes are minimal, giving away nothing of his next move, but -- perhaps Aufidius is flattering himself to think he's considering the proposition, weighing how well it would suit him.

He shakes his head stiffly. Rust sweat runs from his hairline, down past his temple into his beard.

"I will not. However it may be among the Volsces, I cannot do it."

His thighs tense, and he makes to push him away, one last jostle; Aufidius feels something in himself turn sour and cold and he presents again the glacial face a leader ought to have, pressing him down tighter -- too forcefully for sport. Under such handing he can feel the bones of his ribs shifting.

"What you will not do willingly matters little to me."

Caius lifts up his chin boldly; a trace of fear shines in his eyes, and Aufidius doesn't know what to make of it. "You would force me, here? Without a fight?" he says, pain-breathless.

"Not without a fight, Martius, no. But I'll have you, and you'll be grateful."

He releases him to at arm's length, unentangling his legs and making the motion of his breaking away as clear as possible, impossible to misinterpret; Martius sinks back in the dirt, still warily, taking shallow breaths. His fingers probe at cicatrices, still only half knitted up; Caius Martius says nothing but his eyelashes quiver.

"In my condition I couldn't bear it. I'm not made to be loved, I'll begrudge you nothing, but if you have any regard for fresh wounds got in your service, let it be like -- two fellows, not superior and inferior."

He's pleading now, an attitude which doesn't suit him, and whatever his reasons it summons up a tide of desire. They're both warm from struggling and this compromise is worth nearly as much as submission.

Aufidius presses his mouth to his corded throat and tastes salt, lets his hand trail from the planes of his chest down to his tensed belly. Coolness is difficult to maintain, so close in the face of him; he feels his own firmness wavering and is almost sickened.

"Let it be so, then," he says as casually as he can. "I'd be a most ungracious companion, otherwise."

Aufidius slinks down, gentle, friendly, and Martius draws in close again; his warmth returns, however guiltily. The shape of his cock is clear through soldier's clothes, and it stirs against the heel of his hand. Martius can bear the most invasive handling without complaint, if he doesn't perceive his dignity to be slighted, but he trembles when he's kissed.