Actions

Work Header

Change of Heart

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show.
A/N: Welcome to my first multi-chapter story! As noted above, many scenes will be familiar to you because I borrowed them from the show as well as some dialogue. I wanted to embellish some of the details and elaborate on more things between the characters. Take note that things will happen differently or with different characters. I will enjoy any and all feedback, especially on any action or smut scenes! I've never written either before and would like all the advice I can get so I can improve. Thank you for your time and hope you enjoy!
######################################################################
PROLOGUE: First Impressions

Lucretia is frantic as she moves about the room, cursing herself silently for not rising when expected of her. She strips of her night clothing while Melitta runs a soaked cloth across her face, then down her arms and taps her shoulder letting her know to raise her arms. She rubs underneath her arms and under her breasts. Lucretia grabs a brush and begins to run it through her long brown hair while Melitta cleans between her legs. 

"Fuck me...” she says as the brush is caught in a snag. Melitta sighs and sets the bowl of water and cloth down and grabs the brush from her hands.

"Let me do this, Domina." she says as she continues running the brush through Lucretia's hair, removing all traces of sleep from her curly locks. "Which dress do you desire to wear today?"

"I wish to wear the blue one." Lucretia points as Melitta continues to calm her with her brushing. "That vile man loathes me enough as is and yet I add oil to the fire...”

Melitta pauses for a moment before speaking. "If I may speak mind, Domina?" she asks, setting the brush down to begin styling Lucretia's hair. Lucretia pats her gently on the hand.

"It is only I here with you, Melitta. Speak what plagues you."

"Master Batiatus may rule over house but he is a fool to not see your worth... One can only be cornered for so long before striking with vengeance," she says, slightly afraid she has spoken too much. Lucretia thinks of the plan she has already set in motion against her father-in-law and gives pause before replying.

"Yes. Truth spills from your lips and is much appreciated. Gratitude for your praise," she smiles at her trusted body slave. She then frowns as her thoughts become more troublesome. "He bares weight on Quintus's shoulders and mind with decision to remove me from home or not, even more so due to my inability to produce a child. He wishes Gaia's belongings removed from our home. He wants no trace of her left behind and I will not have her erased from memory." She thinks of her closest friend and her blue eyes fill with tears that she cannot keep at bay.

Melitta is finished with her hair and she stands so she can be dressed for the day. She steps into the dress as Melitta pulls it up her body and rests the straps on her shoulders. Naevia is across the room straightening the linens on the bed as she tries not to listen to the conversation playing out before her.

"We will tell them belongings have been removed even in absence of the deed. Naevia will attest if questioned." Melitta says as she comes to stand in front of her and dries her tears with a cloth. Lucretia squeezes her shoulder in affection.

"Gratitude." She sniffs.

The two slaves finish preparing her for the morning, adorning her with jewelry and scented oils. Lucretia smooths her hands over her gown and takes a deep breath to steel her nerves. "Come," she says as she walks out of the room and travels to the balcony that overlooks the training grounds, joining her husband and father-in-law. The smell of sweat and dust hangs heavily in the air. "Apologies for the hour of my rising. Sleep came with difficulty last night." she explains.

"Your absence was not noticed," Titus says with contempt. Lucretia grits her teeth and forces a smile to her face.

"Yet the apology still stands," she said.

"A noble gesture that is much appreciated," Quintus said, giving her encouragement.

This doesn't placate Titus as he turns and says, "The mulsum more so." It takes all her power not to roll her eyes.

"Let me fill your cup," she says as she moves to pour him a cup of wine. Oenomaus calls the next match.

"Duratius! Crixus! Take position!" he commands. Crixus breathes deeply as he is equipped with a practice sword and shield. As he walks to take his position, he looks to the balcony and catches the eye of the younger Batiatus, hoping to impress. He also takes in the sight of the beautiful wife at his side. He gets into stance as he awaits the command to start. "Begin!" Oenomaus yells.

He feints forward as he watches his opponent. Duratius also feints forward and Crixus lunges towards him, bringing his blade down in a fast swipe and hits Duratius's sword with his shield. He immediately ducks beneath the sword swiping above his head and tries to land a blow on his opponent, but Duratius rolls out of the way. Crixus charges forward again, raining fierce blows upon Duratius and manages to land a hard kick to his leg that causes him to fall. Lucretia has taken a mild interest in the Gaul as she watches him fight. "Gaia favored him from first sight," she speaks softly. Naevia steps onto the balcony and brings news of an unwanted arrival to the villa in the form of Tullius. She is instantly enraged. "What is that man doing in our house?" she questions.

"My house," Titus states matter of factly. "He comes in response to invitation," he says as he takes leave.

She looks to Quintus and sees his barely controlled rage as obscenities begin to fall from his lips. "You do nothing to stop him! Save lay blame where none should rest!" she states.

"I'm a fool in such regard. Allowing frustration to strip sense from tongue," he tries to explain.

She regards him coolly. "And spilling truth as consequence," she says referring to his words from the previous night.

"I would not hurt you!" he exclaims truthfully. She says nothing as she turns her attention back to the fight below. Duratius is swinging his hammer with all his might against Crixus, who in turn is successfully blocking every blow with his shield. Crixus swings his sword down against the hammer and swipes it towards Duratius's head, which misses as he ducks.

"You desire a son of your own," she says softly. "To carry your name and make you proud. I would do anything to give you such a treasure."

Quintus glances at her as he speaks. "I must give him my answer tomorrow. It is too late for such dreams," he says quietly. Lucretia feels her panic begin to rise as she looks back down to the fight just in time to see Crixus throw Duratius over his shoulder and onto the ground, pointing the sword at his throat. The men cheer as he raises his arms in victory and turns to the balcony with his sword raised in honor. Lucretia looks at Crixus and knows what she must do.

"It is never too late when will is set to purpose!" she says desperately.

Later that night after Quintus and Titus leave the villa, Lucretia decides to go through with her idea and sends Melitta to fetch the Gaul from the ludus. She starts pacing nervously in the room, wringing her hands together. I don't know if I can do this....lowering myself to fuck a filthy slave, she thinks to herself. She lets out a sigh and mutters to herself, "Remove thoughts from mind...the purpose is clear. No more, no less than what needs to be done."

Melitta and the guard that escorted her soon return with Crixus in tow. He looks around the room as Lucretia finally stops her pacing and looks at him. He walks across the room to stand before her. "Leave us." Lucretia speaks to Melitta. Melitta gives her a questioning gaze and Lucretia tilts her head almost shamefully, revealing what she intends to do. Melitta nods as she turns and exits the room and closes the doors behind her, the guard following. Left alone, they don't speak as they take each other in.

She finally breaks the silence. "You are a Gaul, are you not?"

"Yes, Domina." he answers.

"Many believe the seed of a Gaul to rival Jupiter himself. Tell me, how many sons sprang from your father's cock?" she asks as she circles him like a piece of meat.

"Five, Domina," he responds.

"And from his father before him?"

"The same," he says as she stops directly in front of him.

"Your subligaria. Remove it,” she demands. He does as he is told and drops the cloth to the ground, presenting himself. Lucretia takes quick notice of his size and averts her gaze. "You are never to speak of this. Do you understand?” she said, the insinuating threat lingering in the air.

"Yes, Domina."

She pauses for a brief moment to collect herself. "Well, I will not look upon you. The sight turns stomach," she says with disgust and turns around and bends over the bed. She pulls her gown up and the pit in her stomach grows as she is disgusted with herself for becoming wet at the sight of his large cock. "Enter me. And do not cease until you have spilled seed," she commands.

Crixus swallows back his pride as he is feeling shameful because he is being used like this, yet he cannot help the hardening of his cock at the sight of her presenting herself to him. He slowly strokes himself as he walks to her and grabs her hips while he pushes slowly into her. He groans at the feeling of her tight walls surrounding him as it's been too long since he has held a woman. He keeps a steady pace, fully pulling out and slamming back into her. Lucretia is torn about what to feel as she doesn't know if she wants to cry out in the pleasure that she feels or cry in shame because of her treachery and humiliation. She bites her lip to keep the moans at bay. He speeds up his thrusts, making her unintentionally gasp loudly. Something deep within him wants to hear more sounds coming from her, wants to hear her scream in pleasure. He begins to pound into her harder and more harshly, making her cry out with every thrust of his hips.

"Ohhhhh!!" she moans loudly as she clenches around him, climaxing.

He thrusts a few more times before he cums, spilling his seed inside of her. They both take a moment to catch their breath and Lucretia hastily steps away from him and pulls her dress back down. She picks up his subligaria and throws it at him, which he promptly puts back on. She grits her teeth as she is trying to keep her composure.

"Get out," she says harshly. He bows his head.

"Yes, Domina," he says, and slowly starts walking out of the room. He grows nervous at the thought that she could change her mind and say that he forced himself upon her. He would be castrated and crucified. He pushes the doors open and sees Melitta standing by the doorway, her eyes glued to the floor. He doesn't look at her as she leads him back to the ludus.

As soon as the doors close, Lucretia sits on the bed and begins to weep silently. She is overcome with emotions. Shame, being one of them, because she has to resort to fucking a slave in order to keep her place beside her husband, lust and disbelief that the Gaul slave brought her such pleasures, and violent rage directed towards her father-in-law because he is the reason she has to do any of this in the first place. Her racing thoughts come to an end as she composes herself and speaks aloud.

"When mind is set to purpose, anything is within reach," she sniffs. She stands and begins walking out of the room and goes to prepare her father-in-law's honeyed wine.

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show

A/N: Here it is! Chapter one is all set and ready to go. I'm trying not to rely too heavily on scenes from the show but I feel as though they are very important to how these characters developed. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this chapter!

################################################################################################################################

CHAPTER ONE: TWISTED WEB

FIVE YEARS LATER......

A lot can change when given to time, Lucretia reflects as she lounges in a chair in a guest room. Gannicus lost position of Champion to Crixus and was sold to Tullius. Her plan for vengeance was achieved but at a cost. While Quintus was away, she came clean to Titus about what she had been doing to him for years, poisoning his cherished honeyed wine. She had just given him a cup with a lethal dosage within it and he choked to death on his own blood before her very eyes. She couldn't have been happier.

The happiness was short lived, as she strolled from his chamber and saw Gannicus carrying Melitta's lifeless body. Shock coursed through her veins as she raced to them and asked what happened. Gannicus told her it was the wine Melitta drank and that's when she realized the consequences of her actions. A life for a life. She lost someone she respected that night. She made sure the secret stayed buried, not even Quintus knows what happened that night. Gaia's death was also avenged due to her adding the poison to the wine Tullius brought as a gift. Quintus, Oenomaus, and Gannicus saw to it that he would never draw breath again.

She and Quintus had a higher status and had more wealth, but not nearly as much as they desired. They've put so much work into the gladiators and it still isn't enough. People of higher status still look down upon them like they were covered in shit. She sighs as she shifts to get more comfortable, while glancing at the guard that is standing at the door. Sometimes I wish they would just piss off, she muses to herself, knowing that can never be. Quintus wouldn't allow that as he assures that it’s for her safety. He left the villa to travel to town so he could wage coin in hopes of gaining more, something she doesn’t exactly agree with. Quintus allows her tongue to move freely but even she realizes there are limits when voicing her thoughts.

Her thoughts then turn to the Champion of Capua; Crixus. His victories have continued to give them a steady flow of coin and he has proven himself worthy of that title. Even though she has continued to lie with Crixus, she still has not bared a child. My womb must be cursed, she thinks sadly to herself.

She banishes all thoughts from her head as the doors to the guest room opened, revealing Naevia and Crixus being escorted by a guard. She walks to them and stands directly in front of Crixus. She lets her eyes travel over him, taking in his short brown hair and strong jaw. His well-defined chest glistens in the sunlight streaming in from the window and his muscles ripple with every slight movement he makes. She nods to Naevia and the guards. "Leave. Naevia, see to it that a bath is prepared for when I am finished."

"Yes, Domina,” she says and follows the guards out of the room.

The doors are barely closed before Crixus seizes her wrists and pins her roughly into the wall, kissing her passionately. He holds her wrists with one hand while the other pulls down the front of her dress exposing her round breasts for his enjoyment. He gropes a breast in his hand, gently caressing it as he breaks the kiss and moves his lips to her neck. Lucretia tilts her head slightly to give him better access and closes her eyes with a sigh of pleasure, relishing the feeling of his lips upon her neck. "I've missed you," she says with a smile.

"I've missed you too," he says between kisses on her neck. He removes his hand from her breast and brings it up to cup her cheek. “It’s been at least a moon since we last met. It drives me mad when I can't see your bright smile or feel your flesh upon mine," he confesses as he looks into her cool, blue eyes.

"I'm sorry we've had to wait so long. Quintus has to be occupied elsewhere in order for us to meet. Now, we must make up for the time lost,” she says fervently as she captures his lips fiercely, lightly biting his bottom lip. He responds by lifting her up into his arms and she squeals in delight at being carried. He walks over to the bed and lays her down, covering her body with his own. "I'll see to it that time is not wasted," he says as he presses his lips to hers in a bruising kiss.

She and Crixus have been romantically involved for three years now. What started out as a means to an end, ended up as something more. Somewhere along the way, they began to have feelings for one another. It's been an ongoing struggle with her heart for she still loves Quintus and yet she loves Crixus. They keep up the appearance that they forged all those years ago: he is just a slave that she is using. Not many know of their dealings, just a few guards, Naevia, and unfortunately Barca, for he figured it out. However, none know about their feelings for one another. They don't know that sometimes they just sit and talk, holding each other. They don't know about the fast beating of the heart when one is near the other or the passion that engulfs them when they join together. It's their little secret.

The following day finds Lucretia and Quintus sitting in the balcony of the arena with the senator, Solonius, and Glaber and his wife, Illithya, to watch the games. They watch as Solonius' men crush each Thracian captive, one by one. At last, the last man walks into the arena, facing the gladiator awaiting him, with determination. Suddenly, the gates open and reveal three more gladiators walking into the arena to take position. The crowd immediately begins to boo, showing their disagreement at the odds. Glaber assures the senator that the Thracian has served a huge dishonor to Rome by causing a large desertion and the senator allows the fight to continue. Lucretia looks on as the Thracian is losing the battle. The gladiators have managed to get him to the ground and greatly wound him. She turns her head, disinterested now that the fight is over. She begins to ask Quintus a question when, suddenly, the Thracian rises from the ground like a raging bull and strikes the gladiator completely through to the hilt of his sword. The crowd is sent into a frenzy at the bloodshed as he takes down each gladiator. By the end of the carnage, they demand that he live. Glaber wants him dead and the senator doesn't believe it to be a sound idea. Just as the argument was growing in volume, Quintus speaks up and offers to buy the man, much to her surprise.

Glaber and the senator agree to this proposal, believing the man would not last long at the house of Batiatus. "What name does the man carry?" the senator asks.

"I never cared to ask," Glaber responds coldly. Quintus has just the right name for him.

"Spartacus." The senator announces that he will be granted life and the crowd begins to chant his name.

Later that night, Lucretia is standing near a bone-dry empty pool and looks up to the opening above it, praying for rain. "The pool is dry," she states as Quintus walks past her.

"Yes. We need rain."

"Money would also see it filled."

"We need that too," Quintus replies. Lucretia is beginning to become irritated.

"How fares your new pet?"

"He breathes," came the short reply. She cannot keep the irritation from lacing her words.

"His cost was enough for us to fill our pool for a month. You paid beyond the asking!” she fumes.

"I paid his worth, Lucretia." They walk into the bedroom and the slaves begin preparing them for bed. He shows a letter from Glaber, announcing his visitation to the villa in two days. Both grow excited from the thought of securing his patronage due to Quintus taking care of his problem in the form of Spartacus.

Quintus completes his undress and Lucretia notes, as she lounges on the bed, his growing erection. "Hmm. Desires well nudged," she says in a pleased tone.

"There's yet more stroking needed," he says as he begins to rub his hardening cock. Lucretia gives the slave nearby a look and she drops to her knees and begins servicing him. Naevia begins stroking her, prepping her for her husband. They begin to fantasize about what their lives will be like should they succeed in their plan. Lucretia pushes Naevia's hand away and stands and walks to Quintus, backing him against the wall as their tongues meet and fight for dominance. He spins her around, changing their positions. He fondles her breast as he kisses her neck while she moves against him, panting in delight. He kisses her deeply and pushes her leg up as he says, "May the Gods bless us with good fortune..." and swiftly enters her as she gasps in pleasure....

Desires sated, they dine on cheese and what little wine they have left. Lucretia only has one glass and leaves the rest to Quintus, who has worked up a thirst. They lie down and Quintus has passed out as soon as his head rest against the pillow. She waits for but a moment before slipping out of bed and walking out of the room, Naevia follows behind. She doesn't acknowledge the two guards by the doors as she turns to Naevia and whispers, "Fetch Crixus for me. Bring him to guest room as before."

"Yes, Domina." Naevia bows and turns to make her way to the ludus. Lucretia lets out a breath before continuing to the guest bedroom, one of the guards following behind. She moves to the window and looks to the stars as she awaits Crixus's arrival. Crixus was not expecting to see her so soon and was delighted when Naevia came for him in the ludus.

He steps into the room as Naevia closes the doors behind him. Lucretia turns from the window, facing him with a smile upon her lips as he walks to her and envelopes her within his arms. "Do not take words as complaint, but how did you manage to meet? Dominus is still present, is he not?" Lucretia lays her head against his chest and sighs deeply.

“Quintus filled his belly with wine. Sleep found him very quickly. I just wanted to set eyes upon you for I seek an ear to give voice to frustrations," she says as she pulls away from his embrace. As she turns, he notices the light scratches on her back and narrows his eyes, jealousy consuming him. She looks to him and notices where his gaze has fallen.

"Crixus..."she says as she turns back to him and wraps her arms around his neck and attempts to catch his eyes. He avoids her gaze and stares at the floor. “Look at me," she softly says and he does as requested with a sigh. "I thought you used to this by now.” She says quietly. “I'm his wife and have duties to fulfill."

He takes a deep breath and releases it before speaking. "I am. Just... Just the mere thought of anyone else touching you, even him, makes my blood boil like lava. I cannot remove thought from head." Lucretia begins to lightly stroke his face.

"I wish it didn't have to be this way, Crixus." He nods at her words and mentions that she wanted to unleash frustrations. She begins speaking as she releases him and paces the floor. "I still cannot fathom why Quintus bought that worthless, Thracian bastard!" she says furiously. “No water in the pool for a moon and this is what he does?" she shakes her head in disbelief. "Quintus calmed rage enough to tell me Glaber will visit in two days’ time. He wishes for us to gain favor with the man and I agree with him."

"Maybe the Thracian will prove himself worthy and begin to earn coin for the House of Batiatus," he suggests as he grabs her hand to stop her pacing.

"He brings nothing but sorrow. I can feel it deep within chest." He pulls her in for an intimate embrace and holds her tightly.

“You worry for nothing, Lucretia. The dog begins training tomorrow and Oenomaus will teach him to bend to the will of our Dominus and Domina." He leans down to press his lips against hers in a sweet kiss.

“Perhaps you’re right.” She says as she pulls her lips away and grabs his hand. “I must return to bed. I will see you soon,” she says while giving his hand a gentle squeeze. He squeezes back and releases her hand as he begins to exit the room, looking over his shoulder and throwing her a smile before opening the doors and sees Naevia waiting to escort him back to the ludus. Lucretia sends a silent prayer to the Gods, hoping that Spartacus will bring them great fortune and not misery as her gut feels. Prayer complete, she walks out of the room and makes her way back to her bedroom hoping she manages to find rest.

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show.

A/N: Hello, and welcome back to Change Of Heart! The deeper we get into the story, the more things start to change, save for some important moments. I hope you will stick with me for the ride! Read on!

#############################################################################################################################

CHAPTER TWO: SECRET RENDEZVOUS

The next morning, all the men are busy with training and the sun shines harshly down upon them as they practice. Oenomaus gets their attention with a sudden crack of his whip. “Get into your appropriate groups!” he yells. The men split into two groups: The gladiators line up beneath the balcony and the recruits line up across the middle of the grounds. Oenomaus addresses the recruits. "Attend your master!” he commands as Quintus and Lucretia step onto the balcony. Quintus speaks to the recruits and welcomes them to prove themselves that they are worthy of the gladiator title. Should they not be, they will die where they stand or in the mines. Oenomaus would like to show a demonstration and looks to Quintus for approval. He nods his head, giving permission. "Crixus! Practice swords." Pietros quickly fetches the swords and hands one to Crixus the other to Oenomaus. Crixus grips the wooden sword tightly, relishing the adrenaline that starts to course through his veins.

"Prove us wrong, Spartacus." Oenomaus says as he throws the sword at his feet. Spartacus kicks the sword away with his foot and stands in defiance. Oenomaus taunts him, calling him a coward, as Pietros hands him a real sword and hurls it at his feet, the sharp blade piercing the hard ground. Still, Spartacus refuses to pick up the sword and Oenomaus turns to face the balcony. He lets Quintus know that there is nothing he can do to train Spartacus and he should just be sent to the mines.

Spartacus inhales deeply before grabbing the sword and tumbles to try to attack Oenomaus while his back is turned. Crixus had been watching every move Spartacus made and knew what he was going to do. He charges him from the side, blocking the hit with his sword and kicks him to the sand. Spartacus doesn't have time to pick himself up before Crixus advances on him, violently swinging his sword. Spartacus is deflecting all the blows until he leaves an opening and Crixus knocks him to the ground with a hit to the chest. All the men begin laughing at the poor display of the Thracian.

Lucretia watches the demonstration with amusement. She watches as Spartacus attempts to lunge at Crixus only to have him deflect the oncoming blow and make one of his own to Spartacus's back that sends him to his knees. Crixus turns to the balcony to seek out Lucretia's eyes and found she was already looking for his. She looks radiant he thinks, taking note of how the green dress plays off of her smooth, pale skin and how her fire red hair stands out even more. She smirks at him as he opens his arms in show of victory. Spartacus begins to rise and charges Crixus from behind, hoping to catch him off guard. Crixus turns and lands a hit to his stomach and throws him to the ground like waste. Lucretia watches his muscles ripple with every movement and longs to run her hand across the muscular flesh. She feels herself become flushed with arousal, the dampness between her legs making her squirm. Oh, how I love to watch him. She thinks lustfully. She must meet with him tonight.

The Thracian fights like a woman Crixus laughs to himself and walks towards the recruits. Everything happens as if in slow motion; Spartacus hurls his sword at Crixus and he turns around in time to knock the sword from its path and straight into the neck of one of the recruits. His neck is deeply slashed and he bleeds profusely as he falls to the ground. The gladiators immediately roar with laughter at the turn of events. Spartacus is in disbelief that he just caused a man's death and doesn't move as Crixus charges at him and grabs him around the neck and pushes him to the ground, sitting on top of his chest with the practice sword to his throat.

Spartacus refuses to surrender and Oenomaus gives order to bash his head in. With great pleasure Crixus thinks as he prepares to deliver a mighty blow to his opponent’s head. "Crixus!" his Dominus's voice thunders out. He halts his movement and looks to the balcony and his master shakes his head at him saying no. "Yes, Dominus." he says as he obeys and moves away from Spartacus.

Lucretia can do nothing but watch in disbelief and says, "He tries to kill your best man, and yet you let him live?" Quintus claims that he spares his life because Glaber will arrive tomorrow, and he may need Spartacus to secure their patronage. He gives her a quick kiss on the lips and takes his leave. As he walks away, she turns back to look below and sees Crixus watching her. She smirks as they watch each other, conveying a silent message to one another. Meet with me tonight? Crixus says with his gaze. I look forward to it. She responds back as she lifts a brow and saunters off, Crixus watching the sway of her hips until he can no longer see her.

Lucretia walks back inside the villa and cannot shake off her arousal. I cannot take this any longer "Go and fetch the bowl of water from this morning so I can freshen up." she orders Naevia.

"Yes, Domina." she says as she walks away. Lucretia watches her for a moment making sure she was out of sight and then quickly marches to the room where all the clean linens are kept. She steps into the room and closes the door behind her, leaning heavily against it.  

She runs her hand across her breasts and starts cupping them through her dress. She lifts her dress up enough for her to get her hand beneath the layers and rubs her hand against her cunt. She can feel the moisture soaking through her loincloth and pushes it to the side and inserts two fingers inside of her heat. She moans and squeezes her breasts as she begins a rapid pace with her fingers. She throws her head back, gasping in pleasure, against the door and let her imagination take over. She imagines what Crixus will do to her tonight.

Will he be gentle or will he be rough? Will he fuck her until she screams to the heavens? She imagines his muscles flexing as he moves inside of her. She begins to pant as she moves her fingers faster, curling them upward until she finds her spot. Within moments she groans in pleasure as she climaxes. She stands there for a moment attempting to compose herself and pulls her fingers from within herself. She grabs a cloth nearby and wipes her hand with it, tossing it to the floor when she is finished. She smoothed her dress out and takes one final breath as she opens the door and steps out of the room and starts casually walking to her bedroom.

"Domina! I have been searching for you." Naevia exclaims as she walks up to Lucretia, worry written on her face. "Apologies for not being in position. I--" Lucretia cuts her off with a hand placed on her shoulder and gives it a squeeze.

"Do not fret, Naevia. For it was I that left you. I wished for a moment to myself." she explains gently. Naevia takes note of her Domina's flushed chest and cheeks and knows what she was up to. She gives her a small smile. "I have everything ready for us to freshen you up, Domina."

"Wonderful." she says as they walk into the bedroom.

Hours later, when night has fallen, Lucretia sits up in bed. She looks over to Quintus, who is slightly snoring, sleep weighing heavily on him due to wine, yet again. Her lips quirk upwards and she shakes her head as she affectionately runs her hand lightly over his head. She slips out of bed and wakes Naevia who is asleep nearby. They walk quietly out of the room, closing the doors behind them as they do. She nods at the two guards standing by the doors and turns to them and instructs that they do not follow this time. "But our orders---" one tries to object. She turns a steely gaze upon him and harshly whispers, "I have given you new order and you will do exactly as instructed or I will remove you from position, understood?"

"Yes, ma'am." they both say in unison.

"Good." she says and turns to walk to her destination. "Naevia, bring him to the recesses by the north wall."

"Yes, Domina." she hurries off to do as told. Lucretia continues walking until she comes to a very dark corner near two columns. Upon first sight, it looks just how it is--a dark corner of a wall. However, when you walk towards it, you can see light coming from deep within the recesses. It leads to a private, spacious area with a small opening in the roof; allowing moonlight to stream through so one is not blinded by the darkness. There is enough furniture to provide basic comfort—a simple couch adorned with plush pillows sitting against the wall, an intricately carved chair and a small table set near the middle of the room and a few long forgotten statues placed in the corners of the room. She strolls forward until she reaches the area, the moonlight flooding the room with a soft light. She sits down in the chair and looks up through the hole at the shining stars of the night.

Crixus and Barca are speaking outside of Barca’s cell. “That Thracian fuck tried to kill me. I pray that I can sever his head from shoulders one day." He says angrily. Barca agrees and leans against his cell door.

“That day may come yet when the recruits are tested on skill to prove worthy of the mark of Batiatus. He lacks discipline and honor. He will fail.” Crixus looks around Barca and sees Pietros in deep sleep on the bed.

“I see your boy is exhausted.” He states with a chuckle.

Barca laughs along with him, “I saw to it that he was satisfied.” Their conversation is interrupted as a guard appears and tells Crixus he is being summoned. Crixus fakes a sigh of contempt and Barca claps a hand on his shoulder. “Looks like it’s your turn to satisfy.” He grins in humor. Crixus shrugs his hand off of his shoulder. “Cocksucker.” He says as he follows the guard from the cells, Barca’s laughter following him.

Naevia stands by the bars awaiting his arrival and ponders the situation as she waits. I feel sorry for him being used in this way. Not many slaves can handle it. She thinks about her lost friend, Diona, at that moment. Thank the Gods that Domina chose me to be her personal body slave. I never want to end up like Diona… her thoughts trail off as Crixus and the guard appears and he steps through the door once opened by the guard. He follows her as she moves up the stairs, neither speaking to one another as their thoughts are occupied. They move deeper within the villa until they come upon a darkened corner. His brows furrow in confusion as he asks, “Why did we stop here?”

“Follow me, please.” Naevia said as she begins walking forwards into the darkness. He can soon see light off in the distance. They go about twenty more paces before arriving at an opening, the area bathed in moonlight. He sees Lucretia staring up at the night sky and his breath hitches at the sight of her. The moonlight is shining down on her, creating an ethereal glow; her high cheekbones highlighted in the light, her red hair cascading in waves down her back. As they walk further into the room, they catch her attention and she rises from the chair and walks towards them and stands before Crixus.

Lucretia knows that what she is about to do is extremely risky, but she wants to be completely alone with him tonight. No one standing outside of the room or around the corner, no one waiting on her to return. Just them. “Leave us, Naevia. Do not worry about me. You are to go back to the room and rest.” she says sternly.

Naevia blinks back her confusion. “Y-Yes, Domina.” She stammers as she exits the room.  

They wait until they are completely alone before they move towards each other. Crixus smiles as he wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her close, nuzzling his face into her hair. He holds her for a moment before pulling back and runs his fingers through her hair.

"What are you thinking? You haven't stopped smiling." she asks as she plays with the hair at the nape of his neck. He continues to stroke her hair as he speaks.

“I’m thinking of your eternal beauty. You rival Venus herself."

She smiles softly, her expressive blue eyes lighting up at the compliment. "You flatter."

"It is true. Never would I have thought we would be here considering many moons ago we could not bare the sight of one another."

"I know." she agrees. "We have grown in ways we could have never foreseen." Crixus joins their hands together and slowly starts swaying their bodies, side to side, to imaginary music. They share a smile as he lifts their joined hands in the air and twirls her around playfully. He then dips her and brings her back to him and she giggles. He grabs both of her hands and starts spinning them in a circle, going faster and faster. She laughs with abandon and he laughs along with her. Her laugh is music to his ears as she rarely laughs. He slows down and pulls her flush against him as she still giggles and looks up at him, her brilliant, blue eyes shining with pure delight. Their laughter quiets down as they stare into each other’s eyes, their hearts thundering within their chests.

Their faces are so close that their breath mingles as one, inching closer until their lips slowly touch in a gentle kiss. Crixus brings his hand up to cup the back of her head and deepens the kiss, sliding his tongue into her mouth. Both start breathing heavily and Crixus backs her up until she is pushed against the wall, his mouth never leaving hers. He can feel her hardened nipples against his chest through her thin night garment. He slides his hand up to cup one of her breasts and massages the delicate flesh. She sighs softly into his mouth and he dips his head to begin placing soft kisses along her shoulder. He kisses up her neck, and whispers hotly into her ear, "Seeing you in that green dress..." he pauses as he nips at her earlobe and she shudders in his embrace. “Made my cock rise in desire."

He pulls the front of her garment down, exposing her breasts and bends his head to catch a hardened nipple in his mouth while he massages the other. She rakes her nails across his back and with her voice dripping with desire she speaks, "Watching you toss that filthy Thracian around like he was a mere doll made me soaked with wetness." She pants, "I had to pleasure myself to seek relief." Crixus parts her legs with his thigh and trails his hand down until he feels her moist mound and groans at how wet she is. He rubs his fingers over her and then he pulls his hand away teasingly. She whimpers at the loss of contact and follows his hand with her hips. He suddenly shoves a finger into her slick passage and she moans at the contact. “Did it feel like this?” he whispers hotly as he starts curling his finger inside of her. She shakes her head no and hisses into his shoulder as he pushes another finger into her and he swallows her groan with a smoldering kiss.

Her hands work quickly as she pushes his subligaria down to the floor. He lifts her up and she wraps her long legs around his waist. He briefly removes his fingers so he could carry her to the couch. As soon as her back hit the couch, he pulls her garment down the rest of her body and tosses it to the floor. He quickly slides his fingers back into her and begins kissing her neck. He starts to move his fingers at a faster pace, enjoying the sounds emitting from her.

"Ohhh, Crixus." she moans, her body on fire at his touch. "Please!" she pleads for more.

"Please what?" he asks, enjoying her pleading for pleasure. She grinds herself into his hand.

“You know very well what!” she croaks out. He braces himself with one hand as he hovers above her.

“Say it.”

"Please give me your cock. I want you inside of me NOW!" she demands. He immediately removes his fingers and shoves himself roughly inside of her. They both close their eyes and groan loudly at finally being connected. He moves at an agonizing, slow pace and peppers her neck with kisses. He claims her lips in a short kiss before he breaks away.  

"Look at me." he demands quietly. She opens her eyes to stare into his deep pools of brown. "You are crafted by the Gods themselves." He says as he slides slowly in and out of her as she moans quietly.

"I love you, Crixus.” she says breathily.

"I love you too, Lucretia." He thrusts more powerfully, pulling all the way out and plunging back in as deep as he could, every thrust sending waves of pleasure throughout her body. He grunts as he picks up the pace and quiets her moans with a searing kiss. He releases her lips with a hiss as he feels her nails scratch down his back. He starts relentlessly pounding hard into her and her cries are getting louder.

"Oh FUCK! Fuck me!" she cries out in ecstasy as she climaxes.

"Fuck yes!" he groans as he quickens his thrusts even more, rapidly slamming into her as he begins to reach his peak.

"Oh yes! Yessss!" she whimpers as she feels herself beginning to orgasm again, her walls contracting around him. "Ohhhh!" she exclaims. He thrusts a few more times and with a guttural moan, spills his seed deep inside of her. They lean their foreheads together, slick with sweat, panting sharply as they try to catch their breath. "That was much appreciated" she pants out and kisses him deeply. He breaks the kiss as he moves to lie behind her, melding his body with hers as he wraps an arm around her. He rests his hand on her flat stomach and traces his fingers lightly against it.

“We rarely get to lie like this. I enjoy it.” He says softly.

“I wanted us to be alone tonight, so I made it so.” She says with a smile and lays her hand on top of his. They say nothing as they lie there for a moment, relishing the feeling of being wrapped around each other. Crixus breaks the silence, “I meant what I said, Lucretia." he mumbles as he sits his chin on top of her head. “I do love you. I would shout it to the Gods if I didn't have to hold tongue." She sighs deeply and holds his hand tighter.

"I wish you could. Then, we would not have to hide amongst shadows like thieves in the night." He kisses the top of her head.

"You could never leave your husband..." Her eyes began to water.

"If I could leave, I would!" she says as a tear runs down her cheek. He lifts his hand and gently wipes it away with the pad of his thumb.

"Even if it meant losing wealth and station?" he asks. She turns her head to look him in the eyes.

"Yes! You forget that I had no station to begin with, Crixus!" she exclaims. “I cannot leave unless Quintus demands it so.”

"I'd rather have you like this than never at all. My heart breaks within chest at the thought" He places a kiss on her forehead lovingly. She sighs heavily and turns her body to face him.

"I wish we didn’t have to part, but I must go now." she says sadly as she sits up on the couch. “This makes it harder so.” She bends down to pick up her garment and steps into it, pulling it up her body. She walks a few steps and retrieves his subligaria and hands it to him. He quickly redresses and grabs her hand and pulls it to his lips, pressing a gentle kiss upon her knuckles.

"Until next time, my love." He says. A small smile plays upon her lips as she squeezes his hand and walks away. Crixus makes his way out of the recesses and meets with the guard waiting by the stairs to the ludus. Lucretia slowly makes her way back to the room, and startles slightly as she sees Naevia waiting outside the door with the guards.

"Apologies, Domina. Rest would not find me while you were...uhhh” she slightly stumbles on her words, "taking a walk. I wished to make you proper for bed."

Lucretia nods. "Gratitude." She says before they walk into the bedroom.

 

“Will it ever fucking rain? I grow tired of not having a proper bath.” Lucretia says disdainfully as Naevia washes under her arms the following morning. Naevia moves to wash between her legs.

“Perhaps the Gods are angry with us, Domina.” She suggests as she finishes cleaning Lucretia. She reaches for her dress and holds it out so she can step into it.

“Well, let us pray they forgive us soon.” She replies as she steps into the dress and Naevia pulls it up her body. They finish the morning routine before exiting the room. Lucretia decides to sit by the empty pool and the slaves move to accommodate her. Two slaves are fanning her with giant leaves and Naevia is massaging her feet and calves. She rests her cheek on her hand and is deep in thought. I miss Crixus already, I’m a lovesick fool. I still love Quintus or at least I think I do. He treats me fairly well, all things considered. She sighs heavily. Would I leave him if given the chance? This thought gives her pause as she realizes the answer is much more complicated than she thought. Shit. I told Crixus I would leave if I could, but I’m scared...they would kill us both should we get caught. Naevia interrupts her thoughts asking if she would like her to use some of the scented oil on her legs. “No, I think I’ll do without for now.” Naevia continues to massage her leg and her mind turns to the initiation tonight. She hopes they can secure the better fighters and is giddy with excitement at seeing Crixus in action. She prays he challenges the Thracian and ends his existence as it should have already been. She smirks devilishly at the thought.

Moments later, she walks into the bedroom and finds Quintus in the middle of getting a midday wash up. “Are you prepared for tonight? We shall see who is worthy of my mark.” He says as she sits on the bed and moves to lie on her side, Naevia sitting beside her.

“Yes, we shall see who will fail and who will begin their rise to glory.” she says as she watches the slave sponge his shoulders. She notices that his length is beginning to harden. A grin spreads across her face as an idea forms in her mind. “Have the girl’s ass a bit and I’ll watch.” He smiles at her, loving the idea.

“I’ll give pleasure to your eyes.” He says and turns the girl around and bends her over a chair. He spits in his hand and rubs it against himself, his eyes never leaving Lucretia as he slides into the slave. He begins to thrust into her roughly and Lucretia laughs as she watches.

Nightfall arrives and it is time for the initiation for the recruits to begin. If they fight well, they will earn the mark of Batiatus. If they should fail, death will be the only company. The fighting will take place on an elevated platform. Lucretia is lounging on a chair watching the fights and Quintus is standing, overlooking the ludus, attentively watching the fights. Several men pass the test and earn their mark, while others fail and are killed on the spot. Barca is up against Marcus and the recruit boldly charges at him but Barca slices the back of his neck open and he falls dead to the ground below. Crixus finds this hilarious and begins laughing as do the other gladiators.

"Well, that was disappointing." Lucretia muses, clearly bored with the way the fights are going.

"Not every venture ends in climax." her husband responds.

I beg to differ she thinks to herself. She opens her mouth and responds before she thinks, "A fact known well to every woman." Naevia stifles a smile at this and Lucretia glances up at Quintus, wondering if he had heard her.

All goes quiet in the ludus as Oenomaus shouts at Crixus for a challenge against Spartacus. Crixus smirks as he has been waiting for this moment. "One final lesson before I send you to the afterlife." he taunts as he is equipped with a sword and shield. Lucretia has regained interest and sets her full attention on Crixus.

"BEGIN!" Oenomaus shouts. Crixus immediately crouches into a defensive position when he takes notice that Spartacus is not moving. He is just fucking standing there. He is pissing himself. For fuck's sake, he sheds tears like a woman. "TEARS? The rabbit is fixed to piss himself!" he taunts and everyone begins to laugh. Lucretia chuckles to herself. Crixus grows tired of waiting and launches his attack on Spartacus. Lucretia perks up and rises in her chair to gain a better view. Their blows are laced with deadly intent and Crixus knocks the sword from Spartacus's hand. He now only has a shield to defend himself. Crixus begins raining blows upon his opponent, trying to find a weakness. Spartacus leaves an opening and Crixus takes opportunity to swipe widely and cuts Spartacus's arm and delivers several punches to his face. Spartacus is immediately knocked down to the platform and Crixus pushes his shield to Spartacus's throat.

Crixus can taste the victory in the air and turns towards the balcony, waiting for approval to finish the job. Dominus nods his approval and he couldn't be more pleased. He turns back to strike when Spartacus pulled a piece of cloth beneath his feet that causes him to lose balance and fall over the edge of the platform. As soon as she saw his feet in the air, Lucretia shoots up from her chair and rushes to the railing of the balcony. She feels completely helpless as she watches Crixus plummet to the unforgiving ground below. He lands and the fall immediately takes his breath away. Spartacus jumps down from the platform and walks over to Crixus, who is still struggling to regain his breath. He looks down upon him and says, "The lesson is well learned." and draws back his arm for the killing blow. Lucretia was about to protest when Quintus yells out.

"Spartacus! Cease!" Everyone looks on to see what he will do. Given his penchant for disobeying, Lucretia is sick to her stomach seeing Crixus being held with a sword to his throat. Spartacus has yet to move a muscle. "You have passed the test!" Quintus exclaims and he and the Thracian share a look and Spartacus slowly lowers his arm.

"Dominus." He steps away from Crixus and Barca and another gladiator step in to help Crixus to his feet. Spartacus watches as they half drag him away and he turns his head to the balcony where he finds Lucretia staring daggers at him before furiously walking away.

Much later in the night sees Lucretia and Naevia walking down to the medical room of the ludus. Lucretia told Quintus that she wanted to go for a walk to clear her mind before bed. She peeks around the corner and sees the medicus inside the room, wrapping a bandage tightly around Crixus's chest who is sitting on the edge of the table. Naevia steps inside and lets the medicus know that Dominus is requesting fresh medicinal herbs from the garden. He sighs. "Come along then." he points to Crixus "I am not finished with you yet." and disappears around the opposite corner of where Lucretia was standing.

She turns the corner and walks into the room as Crixus looks up and is surprised to see that it is her entering. She hurriedly walks to him and throws her arms around his neck as he wraps his around her waist and lays his head on her chest. "I'm so glad you are okay." she breathes with relief.

"I'm not going anywhere. It'll take more than that Thracian bitch to get rid of me." he replies. "Just some bruised ribs that is all." Lucretia huffs as she sits down next to him.

“Anything of interest happen today?” she asks. He tells her about his morning and adds, "Ashur is trying to play to Spartacus's wishes and desires and I'm not sure to what end. The piss ant is up to something” He reaches between them and laces their fingers together.

She scoffs. "I had the duty of entertaining Illithya, Glaber's whore wife. I had to kiss that fucking woman's ass at every turn, while she mocks my hospitality and my home." She fumes. "I felt so humiliated. Then she has the audacity to press her lips against mine! The day has made me grow weary and I’m glad it has passed." she says as she lays her head on his shoulder. They sit in contented silence for a moment. He kisses the top of her head.

"You should rest so mind will be at ease. May sleep be peaceful for you." he says as he kisses her softly. She grinned at him as she stands and squeezes his hand.  

"For you as well." she says.

He smiles at her and replies, "With thoughts of you, sleep is always peaceful." She smiles and lets go of his hand slowly as she steps backwards.

"Goodnight, Crixus." she says as she reaches the doorway.

"Goodnight, Lucretia."

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show.

############################################################################

CHAPTER THREE: PRIMUS

The men are sparring together in the warm sun, practicing for the Vulcanalia . Every man tries to earn a higher position in the games, for no one wants to be part of the lower matches. Lucretia lounges on the balcony as a merchant presents jewelry to her and Naevia tries it on to help her make a decision.  The piece she currently wears is delicate and subtle in taste. Lucretia finds it beautiful but it does not suit her purpose. “Too common.” She dismisses. “Show me something of note.”  While the merchant searches for something to show, Naevia feels eyes upon her from below. She turns her head and finds one of the gladiators staring up at her. He has short dark hair and light stubble across his face; his muscles are very pronounced and shine with sweat in the sun.

She turns her attention back to the merchant as he produces a gorgeous emerald piece. He says the gems were imported from Scythia and places the necklace around Naevia’s neck. Lucretia’s interest has peaked and she slowly sits up from her lounging position. She moves the straps of Naevia’s dress and bares her breasts out in the open. The merchant says the price is thirty denarii. “Twenty-five.” She bargains.

“Twenty-nine.” He counters.

“Twenty-eight and I’ll resist pitching you off the balcony.” She says menacingly. His faces pales slightly as he swallows hard and nods his head.

“Twenty-eight denarii then.” She is pleased that she got him to go down on his price. She notices Naevia’s deep blush at being exposed and makes her way to stand next to her at the railing of the balcony.

She watches Crixus as he practices, noting that he is aware of her presence because he begins to swing at his opponent more fiercely than before. “Do not be ashamed, Naevia.” She speaks as she continues to watch him. “That piece is beautiful on you as it will be on me.” She then notices one of the gladiators transfixed on Naevia. “It would seem that you have an admirer.” Naevia looks to the sands and once again sees the same man as before staring at her. “Come along then.” Lucretia says as she turns and begins walking back into the villa. Naevia quickly pulls the straps of her dress back up and hurries to catch up with her. “I need to get prepared for my meeting. I need to be as fresh as possible, so make sure to fetch a bowl of fresh water.” She tells Naevia as they walk.

“Yes, Domina.”

The gladiators continue their training throughout the day and, once again, Spartacus has a lesson to learn. Crixus remarks, “The sand smells like Thrace. Perhaps I should shit to complete the aroma.” The men start roaring with laughter at this and he and Spartacus stare intently at each other. Before the other man can say anything, a guard appears and tells Crixus he is being summoned. He manages not to smile, even though he is ecstatic to see his love, for it has been many days since he has been able to hold her within his arms. He follows the guard to the door and sees Naevia waiting for him and follows behind her as she leads him up the stairs.

He walks into Lucretia’s room as Naevia closes the doors behind him. He looks around and Lucretia is nowhere to be found.  “What took you so long?” her questioning voice cuts into his thoughts.

“Apologies. I did not want to arouse the suspicions of my men as to my purpose.”  Lucretia smiles slyly from her hidden position.

“And what might that be, oh Champion of Capua?”

Crixus smiles humorously. So that is the game we are to play today. “Whatever Domina desires.” Lucretia grins, glad that he caught on to what she wanted, and steps from behind a pillar in the room.  She is dressed in an ornate, red robe; opened enough to show a generous portion of her breasts along with her newly acquired necklace. His mouth begins to water and his cock hardening every second that passes just from the sight of her.

“I bought this necklace for the reception….do you think it’s too much?” she asks as she pulls her hair back, fingers playing with the necklace.

“My blood rises. “He answers honestly and keeps his gaze on the floor. “To give the necklace credit would be false, Domina.”  She smiles as she slinks towards him.

“What quickens your pulse?” she asks as she lightly trails a hand over her breast as she continues towards him. His pulse is quickening the closer she gets.

“The touch of your lips..your breasts and all the pleasures below.” He says as she finally stands before him. She puts her hand beneath his chin and lifts his head up until their eyes meet and grins mischievously. She places her hand on his chest and runs her hand slowly down his taut muscles until she is groping his rock hard length.  She looks into his eyes with unmasked desire.

“I need your cock inside of me.” She bluntly states. “And I need it in me NOW.” She demands as she pulls him roughly to her and they stumbled backwards to the bed. He grabs her face roughly and shoves his tongue into her mouth in a passionate kiss. He grinds himself against her and she moans into his mouth as they continue to battle with their tongues.

He pulls away. “Apologies. It’s been too long since I’ve felt you in my arms.” He kisses her hard and breaks away again, looking down at her; her red hair is fanned out wildly on the pillow and her lips are plump from his kisses. “I have to have you.” He says as he pushes her robe fully open and takes an erect nipple into his mouth while he gropes the other breast.  Lucretia groans as she feels his tongue swivel around the hard bud. He doesn’t stay on her breasts for long, as he licks his way down her body. He gets down on his knees as he nips at her inner thighs; breathing in the smell of her, her natural musk and scented oils mixing together beautifully. He can see that she is dripping with want and runs a finger down her wet folds as she sucks in a breath.  

She gasps loudly as he roughly pulls her to the edge of the bed and lifts her long legs to rest upon his shoulders. He bends his head down and runs his tongue against her wet center. She shivers and moans with delight and props herself up on elbows to watch his ministrations. He laps at her enthusiastically and groans against her as he makes eye contact with her while she plays with her breasts, her hooded gaze watching him intently as soft moans continue to fall from her parted lips. He flicks his tongue against her clit while pushing two fingers into her. She moans loudly as she arches her back and begins moving against him, craving more. His fingers work up to a furious pace, shoving in and out of her passage as he continues to lap and suck at her clit. Her hand works its way into his hair and grips it hard within her fist as she shoves his face harder into her heat. She is panting wildly, the pleasure humming throughout her body.

He groans against her and shoves another finger into her. She throws her head back and bites down on her lip to try to drown out her cries of pleasure.  “Don’t fucking stop, Crixus!” she cries out. “Ohhh!”  His fingers do not stop their relentless pace and she is becoming undone. She can feel her walls closing around his fingers as she explodes in her climax. “OHHHHHHH!!!” she moans loudly. He lifts his head and crawls back up her body, his fingers still inside of her. Still trying to catch her breath she says, “Well, that was new.”

He chuckles. “It was my pleasure, Domina.” She smirks at him and pulls his head down to meet her lips. She can taste herself on his lips and it is extremely arousing. His fingers begin slowly moving again and he groans against her lips. “Jupiter’s cock…”

“Enough about his cock. Free yours to be deep inside of my cunt.” She demands. He quickly rips off his subligaria and roughly turns her over onto her stomach and pulls her up onto her hands and knees. Her perfect ass is presented to him and he rubs a hand against a smooth, pale cheek and massages the tantalizing flesh. He strokes himself with one hand while he smacks her ass with the other. She cries out at the sensation of the sting and pleasure. He smacks the other cheek and she cries out again. “Remember not to leave marks, Crixus.” She pants out.

“Yes, Domina.” He says as he swiftly enters her from behind and covers her mouth with his hand as she cried out loudly. He slides all the way out and slams himself into her again, her muffled moans against his hand spurring him on. He sets a relentless pace, slamming in and out of her. He gets a fistful of her hair and pulls her up against him while still moving furiously inside of her, never removing his hand from her mouth. “Mmmmmmm!” comes her muffled groan of pleasure as she climaxes again, her walls clamping down on him. He can feel his release is near and continues his fast pace as she continues to whimper against his hand.  Two more violent thrusts of his hips see him undone and his seed explodes into her as he groans loudly against her ear.

He immediately removes his hand from her mouth and tries to catch his breath. He removes himself from within her and they both flop onto their backs on the bed. Her chest is heaving heavily as she smiles broadly. They turn their heads to look at each other and laugh quietly. “Gods…”

She props herself up on her elbow and looks down at him. “You are just full of surprises on this day.” She says. “Most men don’t enjoy licking cunt.”

“As you know, I’m not like most men.” He grins and she laughs lightly while he gently cups her cheek.

“Indeed. Forged by Jupiter himself.” She says as he rubs the pad of his thumb against her cheek. She smiles and bends down and captures his lips with hers in a soft kiss.

“I love you, Lucretia.” He smiles up at her.

“I love you too.” She sits up fully and sighs while lacing her fingers with his. “I wish you could stay.” She says with a pout.

“I would make it so if it were within my power, my love.” He says and raises their joined hands to kiss her knuckles. He bends down to retrieve his subligaria and she releases his hand as she stands and wraps her robe back around herself.  “Oenomaus is preparing to read the pairings of the Vulcanalia.” He says as he finishes dressing.

She loops her arms around his neck. “You needn’t worry. We already know you will fight in the Primus.”

“Worried, I am not. For I love proving myself worthy of your affections with every fight.” She cups his cheek affectionately. 

She sighs heavily, “Naevia should be outside to escort you back.” She removes her arms and turns to walk away. He smirks mischievously and smacks her ass. “Ooo!” she squeals.

“Already miss you, love.” He says and shoots her a devilish smile as he begins to leave the room. She shakes her head in amusement as she watches him walk away.

The next morning as the men train, Naevia is standing on the balcony, watching them. She notices the gladiator that was staring at her the previous day is doing it again. Her eyes rake over his muscled body and she wonders what it would feel like to run her hands over his well-sculpted chest. She blushes at her thoughts and quickly looks away, only to see Crixus staring up at the balcony seemingly searching for something…or someone. She wonders who he could be looking for and then it dawns on her: Domina? Why would he be looking for her? Down below, Ashur notices where Crixus has his gaze and sees Naevia standing on the balcony. “Ashur!” Crixus calls to get his attention. “There is something I want you to get for me.”

“Whatever your needs, Ashur provides.” He responds. I hate asking this cock swallower for anything… Crixus thinks to himself.

“Follow me, away from prying ears...” Crixus says as he leads Ashur away to somewhere more private.

That night, the reception is well underway and the gladiators are gawked at and touched by drooling women and men alike. Crixus stands tall as a man places a wager for him in the games. Quintus calls upon Ashur to complete the transaction. The three men walk away and Crixus continues to stand in his position as his eyes scan the room. He spots Lucretia walking into the room, arm in arm, with Illithya. The Gods have surely stolen breath from chest he thinks as he takes in her deep red dress that pushes against her breasts in the most tantalizing way. The necklace she showed him earlier now rests upon her delicate neck and he notes her new hair color. Blonde never looked so good. By the Gods she is stunning. His eyes follow every move she makes.

Lucretia is trying to hold her tongue as Illithya, once again, looks down upon her. She noticed Lucretia’s new necklace and just had to make a remark about how it isn’t in season anymore. “I hear it’s coming back around.” Lucretia says. Quintus then begins his speech and presents the men and offers them up as “stock”. Crixus and Lucretia finally lock eyes and he subtly scans her body appreciatively before looking away. She smiles to herself and a slight blush forms on her cheeks.

Ashur limps over to Crixus and says, “A moment alone…a rarity for a man with such an adoring public, huh?” he chuckles, thinking himself clever. Crixus just stares daggers at him and says nothing. Ashur clears his throat. “To business then. A difficult task on such short notice.” He says and pulls out a pouch and Crixus furrows his brow and looks around to make sure no one noticed the exchange. He takes it and shoves it into his subligaria and says nothing. Ashur is still standing there, not moving, until Crixus turns his gaze upon him again. Ashur smiles and turns away. “Cock fucker.” He mumbles under his breath.

Crixus flexes his muscles a bit more as he notices Lucretia and Illithya approaching. “Your Gaul is of a fine cut, is he not?” Illithya remarks in amazement. He definitely is…and he is completely mine. Lucretia thinks as she rakes her eyes over him, making sure he knows she appreciates the view. He makes sure to keep his gaze fixed straight ahead, not looking either woman in the eye. They have to be extremely careful in public.

“None finer in all the Republic.” Lucretia responds proudly.

“Such a man…” Illithya states as she begins to reach out to touch his chest. He stands still as stone. Lucretia’s eyes widen in fury at Illithya, wishing she could say something to make her back off. Illithya retracts her hand before she can touch him and takes a deep breath as she says, “I tremble to see him again at the arena...” and turns and walks away.

Lucretia lingers for a moment, her jaw clenching. “As do we all.” She says as she looks to him before walking away. He lets go of a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. That woman is a fucking menace he thinks of Illithya as he is left standing there. Naevia looks at him as she passes by, following Lucretia. She watched their exchange with curious eyes, noticing how Lucretia bristled when Illithya was near Crixus. How curious she thinks. Lucretia and Illithya continue to walk until they come across Spartacus and Illithya immediately halts their movement.  “The Thracian yet lives….” She says.

“For now.” Lucretia replies as she pulls Illithya away. Illithya grows restless and announces that she will be taking her leave due to her boredom. Lucretia entices her with something of a more private and physical nature and commands Varro to follow them. They arrive to a room full of people and she orders Varro to fuck a slave in front of the others.

“Yes, Domina.” He says as he sets forth to fulfill her request. As he begins thrusting into the woman, Lucretia gauges Illithya’s reaction.  The blonde has her mouth open in awe and want. She asks Lucretia if she can touch him and she nods her head in approval. Illithya glides her hand over Varro’s chest, marveling at his stamina.  Lucretia is pleased with herself as she has found a weakness in the blonde. She wants to fuck the gladiators. How unbecoming of the Senators daughter Lucretia laughs to herself.

The men are standing in a line as Quintus is getting ready to announce who will be fighting in the Primus.  Crixus is announced as a participant when suddenly he is charged at and knocked down by Spartacus. Caught off guard, he is punched several times in the face. Lucretia gasps in shock as she looks on with growing rage. This is fucking embarrassing! She thinks to herself as she looks around the room at all of the shocked faces of the crowd. Oenomaus attempts to break up the fight and exclaims, “Spartacus!“as the fight continues.

“No! Let them fight!” Illithya shouts, enjoying the display of animalistic behavior.  Lucretia frowns at her. Crixus flips Spartacus over his shoulder after elbowing him in the stomach and nearly loses the pouch he procured earlier. He quickly picks it up and puts it back in its place.

“Quintus! Do something!” Lucretia shouts as the men continue their assault on one another.

ENOUGH!” Quintus bellows. Some of the other gladiators step in and hold the men back from each other.

“I will take your fucking heart!” Crixus yells as he struggles against the two men holding him back.

“Come and take it, coward!” Spartacus yells back. Quintus looks around the room and notices the shock in the room from the guests and decides to use it in his favor.

“Ha! See their hatred, burning beyond control!” He says as enthusiastically. “This was merely a taste! Tomorrow they will settle this grudge in the arena!” he shouts as he stands between them.  The people cheer loudly and Illithya is beaming at the idea. Quintus is smiling, enjoying the crowds’ interest until he sees Lucretia’s displeased face and his smile falls.

Later in the evening, as she says goodbye to the last guest with a smile, Lucretia’s cheeks immediately heat with anger and she storms away from Quintus and walks quickly in the direction of their bedroom, Naevia following. He sighs in exasperation. “Lucretia!” he says as he hurries after her. She ignores him and walks faster and swings the doors open as she enters the room. Naevia immediately begins helping her remove her jewelry. Lucretia removes her earrings as Quintus walks through the doors.

“The reception nearly ruined and what is his punishment? The fucking Primus!” she exclaims angrily.

“You heard the crowd. I made the best of a situation.” He says calmly.

She turns to face him. “The Thracian has yet to stand a single match as a gladiator. Why leap him ahead of all others to face Crixus?” she asks, disbelief written across her face.

“Because of what he possesses. The public’s interest. “

“They stroke a rabid dog. He’s unpredictable, he has no regard for rules or for honor.” She spat. She adds before she can stop herself, “If something should happen to Crixus...”

Quintus frowns for a moment before he scoffs. “He poses no threat to Crixus! He is but a novelty to be used and discarded after a purpose!” Lucretia is mentally slapping herself for slipping up and hopes Quintus didn’t detect the tone of worry and care that laced her words.  “Fucking Gods’ cock!” Quintus exclaims. “Is there no wine left?”

Lucretia turns to Naevia. “Well, what are you standing there for? Go get some fucking wine!” she orders as she pulls off her wig, short brown hairs escaping the covering on her head. Naevia hurries down to the ludus where the wine is stored just outside of the bars and picks up an amphora of wine. There are no guards present as it is time for the position change. As she turns to walk away, a hand reaches through the bars and grabs her shoulder and she drops the wine as a startled gasp escapes her lips.  She turns to face the culprit and sees that it’s the gladiator that has been staring at her.

“Apologies” he says looking down at the mess created. “I was passing by and noticed you standing there. I did not mean to startle.” She bends down and begins to clean the mess. He bends down as well and says, “I’ve noticed you on the balcony watching us train. Do the games interest you?”

She huffs. “No, they do not.”

He chuckles at her response. “I believe you give false answer. I’ve seen the look upon your face, Naevia.”

She looks up sharply at his face. “How do you know my name?”

He smiles. “I took note of your exquisite beauty and made purpose to know your name. I am Tyronius.” He says as he sticks his hand through the bars. She shyly gives it a small shake.

“It is nice to meet you at last, Tyronius. I have felt your gaze upon me many times.” She says with a small smile.

“I feel no shame for it.” Her smile falls as she realizes how much trouble she will be in. As nice as Lucretia can be, she can also be very unforgiving with her punishments, she begins to panic.

“If Domina finds out I have dropped the last of the wine—“

“Hand me the pieces and I’ll see them over the cliff.” Tyronius cuts her off and holds his hand through the bars. She looks at him, unsure of what she should do. She nods to herself and starts handing him the broken pieces. Their hands touch and she looks at them before standing to leave. “Wait!” Tyronius exclaims as he also stands. “When can I see you again?” he asks. She cannot believe she is actually contemplating this.

“I do not know, for I cannot leave Domina’s side without her permission.” He nods his head in understanding.

“We will find a way. Until next time.” He grips her hand and then takes his leave. Naevia stands there in silent wonder and smiles to herself before turning and walks up the stairs.

The next day sees to the start of the Vulcanalia and the gladiators have already begun their fighting. Spectators are cheering wildly at the show of violence.  Lucretia and Quintus sit among revered guests such as the magistrate, with the best view of the arena. Lucretia sits upon the ledge of the balcony and faces Illithya as they speak. Illithya complains about the heat and lack of rain while Lucretia moves to sit next to her and offers her water or wine. “Ugh.” Illithya groans. “The thought churns stomach. However, your company last night yet astounds the senses.” She says intriguingly.

“Too much?” Lucretia asks, raising a brow.

“Of wine, definitely. Of other interests…I think the surface barely scratched.” Illithya says cheekily and they laugh together. Quintus grasps Lucretia’s hand as the Primus is set to begin. He gives her hand a quick kiss and she smiles up at him.

“Here we go then.” He says giving her hand a squeeze. He moves to the ledge of the balcony and announces Spartacus and Crixus to enter the arena. Crixus quickly dons his helmet and prepares himself for battle. “For honor…and for Lucretia.” He mumbles to himself as he steps out into the arena, the cheers exploding forth from the crowd. He roars and brandishes his sword towards the sky as Quintus introduces him as the Champion of Capua. The crowd is chanting his name and Illithya looks down to him with lust and Lucretia looks down at him with pride.

“Finally! Crixus!” Illithya says. Lucretia’s smile fades at Illithya’s clear lust for Crixus. How I long to remove that look from her face! Lucretia rages internally. “Look how his form catches the sun!” Illithya exclaims. Crixus continues to entice the crowd with his cheers for Capua. Before Quintus can complete his speech, Spartacus roars as he charges at Crixus. Crixus successfully blocks the assault by crouching down with his shield and immediately swipes his blade as he rises.

“You had not yet finished the oration and yet the Thracian attacks?!” Lucretia seethes.

“Was that not supposed to happen?” Illithya asks innocently.

“No, it was not!” the magistrate says, anger lacing his tone.

“How exciting!” Illithya says giddily. Spartacus continues to attack Crixus, blow after blow being blocked by the more skilled Gaul. Crixus laughs mirthlessly and thinks to himself, the dumb shit will tire quickly at this rate and give the opening I desire. He deflects another hit from the Thracian. Spartacus keeps pushing Crixus further and further back with his blows, yet none land successfully. Suddenly, Crixus pushes forward and charges Spartacus, causing him to lose balance and fall to the sand. He quickly gets back on his feet and barrels towards Crixus swinging his sword wildly, trying to find an opening to land a hit. Crixus keeps his shield raised to deflect the blows and laughs again, enjoying the rage he can feel coming from his opponent. He manages to spin around and strikes Spartacus hard in the back with his shield. The hit knocks him to the ground and the crowd cheers. Spartacus is having difficulty getting to his feet, the hit knocked the breathe from him.

Crixus, not feeling threatened, removes his helmet and turns to face the balcony. He seeks Lucretia’s eyes and finds them already searching for his. Her lips quirk upwards and he smirks as he turns away to face the crowd. The crowd is mad with praise and cheer, women flashing their breasts and men pumping their fists into the air. He laughs as he spins around to take in the crowd and savor his victory. “Capua!! Shall I begin?!” he shouts. The crowd is sent into a frenzy as they cheer him on. He gazes once more at the balcony before donning his helmet, watching as Spartacus finally rises from the sand. Crixus charges and lands a heavy blow to Spartacus’s helmet, relentless in his attack. He is barely managing to block the attacks. Crixus quickly swipes his blade across Spartacus’s leg, spraying blood as Spartacus falls to the ground. He quickly tries to land another blow to the man while he is on the ground but Spartacus blocks it and rolls out of the way to his feet and immediately raises his shield to bloke a sword strike from the Gaul. Crixus knocks him down again and lands a powerful kick against his head. He roars to the crowd and they shout their praise.

Lucretia watches with a smile on her face at his soon to be victory. Spartacus tries to stand and Crixus strikes with his sword so hard that it knocks his helmet off as he is sent sprawling backwards. He drops both sword and shield. Crixus walks to him and drops his shield, knowing he has no use for it now. He grabs Spartacus by the hair and lifts him into a kneeling position. He happily puts his blade to his throat and says, “Now you die, Thracian.” He looks to the balcony and awaits instruction. As the crowd begins to chant, “Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!” demanding blood. Spartacus swallows his pride and slowly lifts two fingers into the air, showing Quintus that he surrenders. Quintus grows excited and stands to address the crowd.

“Spartacus fought well! Let him live to fight another day!” The crowd immediately begins to boo, obviously displeased. Lucretia glares unhappily at her husband. This was their chance to be rid of the Thracian. Crixus cannot believe that Spartacus has yet again escaped death. He removes the blade from his throat and shoves him to the ground. The decision has not only turned the crowd but has also angered the magistrate and Illithya as well.

Back at the villa, Lucretia paces angrily as the slaves start undressing Quintus for bed. Naevia stands to the side, watching Lucretia and waiting until she is called to assist. Quintus cannot take her pacing any longer. “Lucretia, you should ready for bed and stop pacing.” She halts her steps and looks at him.

“Quintus, why did you spare his life? We could have been rid of him once and for all!” she says angrily.

He sighs. “I’m not yet finished with him. I can earn more coin out of him.”

“How?! Your decision has lost us the favor of the crowd and magistrate…and that stupid, blonde bitch is probably spreading it around like disease!” she exclaims.

“Hold your tongue!” he suddenly demands sternly. She looks at him with wide eyes as he rarely commands her. “I tire of this conversation and wish to let it rest. Now, prepare yourself for bed so we can let sleep claim us.”

She huffs and crosses her arms as she says, “I wish to go for a stroll before bed to relieve mind of troubling thoughts.” And turns without saying another word and starts making her way towards the doors, Naevia trailing silently behind her.

“Lucretia!” Quintus calls after her and she ignores him. “Damned woman…” he mutters to himself. As soon as they step out of the doors, Lucretia turns to Naevia and looks at her with a silent demand. “Bedroom.” She mouths to Naevia. She bows her head and sets out to fetch Crixus.  Lucretia walks hurriedly to the guest room and swings the doors open as she enters the room.

Crixus had only been to sleep for a few winks before he is woken by a guard saying he is being summoned. He sits up and yawns tiredly and gets to his feet, shuffling behind the guard. Lucretia stands at the window; breathing in the fresh air it provides trying to calm her nerves.  She releases a deep breath and turns around at the same time Crixus and Naevia enter the room. Naevia bows her head and exits the room, closing the doors behind her. She has her own meeting to attend with Tyronius.

Crixus blinks the sleep from his eyes and smiles tiredly at her. Her stomach fills with flutters when he smiles at her and she walks to him and he envelops her in a warm embrace. She sighs contentedly as she rests her head on his chest. They stand like that for a moment, holding tightly to one another. Lucretia lifts her head to look him in the eyes. “Apologies if I woke you. I needed to see you.” She apologizes.

“Are you alright?” he asks as he runs a hand tenderly through her hair. She nods her head.

“Yes. Seeing you brings me peace and removes troubled thoughts from mind.”

“What troubles you?” he asks. She sighs and grabs his hand and leads him to the bed, where they sit on the edge. She leans her head on his shoulder as she begins to talk.

“Everything.  The Thracian attacking you last night at the reception was mortifying! Quintus said he didn’t have a choice but to pit him against you in the Primus. Then he lets the bastard live when he should have been slaughtered where he kneeled!” she says angrily.

“The crowd wasn’t happy with that decision.” Crixus says.

“I know! It also angered the magistrate and that cunt, Illithya. What was he thinking?! We can’t afford to lose favor with anyone right now! I feel like everything I’ve worked so hard for is beginning to crumble.” She sighs and adds quietly. “He shouted at me. He has never done that in all the years I’ve known him. He must feel guilt because he knows this is wrong! I stormed out of the room and ignored when he called to me.”

Crixus chuckled lightly and kissed the top of her head affectionately. “That’s part of the reason why I love you, you know? Your fiery and defiant spirit brings me joy. You’re not like the other women.” She smiles into his shoulder.

“It will bring me trouble one day.” She says.

“If it does, you will be able to handle it. You never back down from a challenge.” She lifts her head and smiles at him. He bends his head slightly and touches his lips to hers in a gentle kiss. She breaks the kiss and moves to kneel behind him on the bed. She begins massaging his tense shoulders.

He groans heavily. “Mmmmm, by the Gods that feels good.” He says and closes his eyes, relaxing under her touch.

“I know you are tired from your fight.” She says as she continues her ministrations. She rests her head on his shoulder and whispers in his ear. “You bring me such pride, Crixus. I love watching you fight and seeing the joy on your face as you conquer all those who challenge you.”

He leans his head against hers and smiles. “I love you, Lucretia.” She moves her arms to wrap around him from behind, her hands resting on his chest.

“I love you too. More so each day that passes.” They savor one another’s touch, soaking up each minute they have with each other. Crixus lets out a sigh after a while.

“I must take my leave unless you wish for sleep to claim me here.”

“If only it could.” She says as they both stand from the bed. They walk to the doors and he faces her and cups her face between his hands and places a lingering kiss on her lips. She smiles softly up at him. “May you rest well, my love.” He gently runs the pads of his thumbs across her cheeks and gives her one more quick kiss. They step away from one another and Lucretia opens the doors and Naevia is waiting for them. She has a glow about her and a small smile on her face. Lucretia raises a brow at her, wondering what that is about. Naevia blushes and walks away, leading Crixus back to the ludus. Lucretia watches them until she can no longer see them and stands alone for a moment, collecting herself before she makes her way back to her bedroom.

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show.

##################################################################################

CHAPTER FOUR: SECRETS REVEALED

SEVERAL DAYS LATER….

Lucretia is lounging in a chair while Naevia massages her legs and feet. She decides to ask Naevia about something that has been on her mind for days.

“So, the night I met with Crixus, you came back positively glowing. What was that about?” she whispers with a raised brow. Naevia’s hands stop their movements at the question, worry beginning to fill her mind. Lucretia notices the worry on her face. “Come, Naevia. You can tell me. You won’t be punished unless it is well deserved.” Naevia resumes the massage and swallows hard.

“The gladiator that stares at me when we are on the balcony…” she trails off.

“What of him?” Lucretia says as she takes a sip of wine.

“I have met with him, Domina. I enjoy conversation with him.” Naevia says quietly.

“So, you fancy this gladiator?”

Naevia’s eyes light up. “Oh yes, Domina! His name is Tyronius. He is such a great man, on and off the sands.”

Lucretia chuckles. “Well, I assume you meet with him on the nights I meet with Crixus. I approve as long as, for now, those are the only times you meet and talking is all you do. After all, it is my decision to whom I give your maidenhood to.”

“Yes, Domina. Of course.” Naevia replies with a small smile on her face. She has conflicting thoughts about the matter. On one hand she can see Tyronius often enough, but the other is because she is a slave, she has no say in the matter. Domina can choose not to let her see him and give her to someone else.

Lucretia taps her fingers together as she thinks. Should I tell her? It’s so hard not having anyone to talk to. I would have told Melitta…At this thought she feels a slight pang in her chest. If Melitta wasn’t a slave, she knows they would have been very good friends. She at least trusted and cared for her deeply and thought Melitta felt the same. She sighs as she makes her decision.

“Naevia….there is something I need to tell you.” Naevia doesn’t stop massaging and keeps her face neutral.

“Yes, Domina?”

Lucretia looks at Naevia, watching her hands move against her skin. “Well, when I meet with Crixus…” she whispers. Naevia stops her massage and looks up at Lucretia, feeling like she is able to at this moment.

Suddenly, her mouth feels dry and her hands feel sweaty. “I-I---well, we….” She stutters nervously. For fucks sake! Why can’t I just say it? Just tell her! She takes a deep breath and motions for Naevia to come closer. She does as requested and Lucretia bends down until her lips are nearly touching Naevia’s ear. “We are in love and have been together for quite some time.” She whispers into her ear, feeling a weight lifted from her chest. Naevia gasps and looks to her with wide eyes. “You cannot say anything, Naevia. Not to another slave, Tyronius, absolutely no one. Even if your Dominus asks, you must deny any knowledge.” She whispers fiercely and grabs Naevia’s arm tightly. “Do you understand me?” she says and squeezes her arm harder.

Naevia shakes her head quickly. “Yes, Domina. I understand. I would never say anything.” Lucretia still has not released her arm. She is frightened by the look on her Domina’s face. “You can trust me, Domina. I would never betray your confidence.” Lucretia looks at her for a few more moments before releasing a breath and letting go of her arm. Naevia rubs her arm and looks to the floor. Lucretia reaches out and tilts her chin until Naevia is looking at her.

“I did not mean to harm you. I’m just scared. The both of us will die if anyone were to find out and we have held this secret for so long. It feels nice to be able to tell someone.” She says with a slight smile on her face. Naevia hesitantly puts her hand over Lucretia’s and breathes a sigh of relief when she doesn’t pull away or reprimand her.

“I’m glad you told me, Domina. I only wish to please you and hold your trust.” The women share a smile and Lucretia sits back in the chair as Naevia returns to massaging her legs.

“Use some of the scented oil.” Lucretia says.

Naevia nods. “Yes, Domina.” She reaches for the bottle and notices that there will not be any left should she use it now. “Umm…this is all that is left, Domina.” Lucretia huffs.

“Well, we should save it then.” Naevia nods and sets the bottle down and moves to Lucretia’s legs again.

Quintus strolls up to them, in high spirits. He puts his hands on Lucretia’s shoulders and begins rubbing them. She shoots him a small smile and takes another sip of wine. “I have secured another way for us to earn coin, one that is steady and will soon provide us a proper bath.” Her eyes light up at this, her excitement boiling over due to not having an actual bath in a few moons.

“Just where will this steady flow of coin be coming from?” she asks with a smile as she plays with her fingernails. She feels his hands stiffen on her shoulders and she turns to look at his face. “Quintus?”

He sighs. “The Pits.” Lucretia’s face immediately flushes red with anger.

“The Pits?!” she exclaims and stands abruptly from her chair and storms off. The Pits are where the lowest of the low go. Slaves fight like wild dogs and people wager coin on who should live or die. Men and women alike act like animals, relishing in the spilled blood of those who perish in the fights.

“Lucretia!” She doesn’t stop as she subconsciously makes her way to the balcony.

“Crixus remains the single draw of the ludus. Of the new recruits, Varro is the only man of promise.” Quintus says as he catches up to her. “Spartacus and Kerza prove worthless in the arena, so, I fight them both tonight where they may yet fill our purse.”

“Quintus, The Pits stain the soul and threaten the body. Dispatching the Thracian brings me relief. You descending into The Pits does not.” She admonishes as she steps out onto the balcony. She immediately spots Crixus below and watches him practice.

“I’ll have Barca with me for protection.” He assures her.

“Well, you should return unscathed then.” She replies.

Quintus begins to watch Crixus practice and has a thought. “See to it that Crixus have the company of a woman tonight. It should give him motivation.”

My moistened thighs are definitely motivating she thinks smugly to herself. “I will see him well satisfied.” She says and Quintus nods his head and tells her he will be back sometime in the night. She hears him order the guards to fetch Barca and Ashur from the ludus to accompany him. She turns back to continue watching the practice only to find Crixus looking at her. She makes sure no one is watching as she sends him a small smile and mouths the word, “Tonight”.  He nods his head and smiles back as she turns to walk back into the villa.

Nightfall has arrived and Naevia is helping Lucretia get dressed after washing up for her meeting with Crixus. They walk out the room and barely nod to the guards outside the door. “Bring him to the corridor with the statues. The one no one ever uses.” Lucretia says.

Naevia bows her head. “Yes, Domina.” She begins to walk away when Lucretia asks her to wait.

“Enjoy your time with Tyronius tonight.” Naevia gives a small smile.

“Gratitude, Domina. I hope you enjoy as well.” She says and begins walking towards the stairs. She arrives at the bars and tells the guard that Domina is summoning Crixus. Moments later, he appears and now that she is aware of their secret, she can see right through his façade. They begin walking up the stairs and Naevia decides to break the silence. “It’s a beautiful night.” Her voice slightly startles him.

“Indeed it is.” They lapse into silence again.  She decides to just come out and say it.

“I know about you and Domina.” Crixus immediately halts his steps.

“I do not doubt that you do, seeing as how you are the one to escort me.”

“She told me, Crixus. It’s okay.” She says and smiles at him. His visibly relaxes at the news.

“Please. You cannot tell anyone.”

“Your secret is safe with me. She may be my Domina but I would never wish her harm. She has kept me safe and I would return the favor.”

Crixus nods his head. “Gratitude.” They walk until they arrive just outside of the corridor.

“I shall take my leave.” Naevia turns and walks away, going back to the ludus. She arrives back at the bars and tells the guards to summon Tyronius. She can’t keep the smile off of her face at the thought of him. He is suddenly before her with a large smile on his face. The guard opens the door and he sweeps her up into his arms in a warm embrace. “It is so nice to see you, Tyronius!”

“The same to you, Naevia.” He leads her to their spot underneath the stairs. They picked this spot so if someone should come down, they won’t be seen. They sit on the floor and she leans her back against his chest.

“I have wonderful news. Domina says she will allow us to continue to see one another.”

“You told her? Why?”

“I can only speak from my experience, but she isn’t as bad as everyone believes. Yes, her anger can be swift and punishment harsh but keep her happy and you shall never see that side of her. It also helps to hold her trust.” She explains. Tyronius chuckles disbelievingly.

“If you say so. Enough about her, I have something for you.”

She smiles brightly. “What is it?” She didn’t notice that he had one of his hands behind his back. He moves his hand and reveals a simple bracelet of emeralds and gold. Her hand goes to her mouth in surprise. “It is beautiful!” she says.

“Don’t you want to put it on?” he says with a slightly confused look on his face.

She nods enthusiastically. “More than anything. I can’t without Domina’s permission and she would notice if I wore it.” She takes the delicate bracelet in her hand. “Since she knows of us, I will ask her permission. I love it. Gratitude for thinking of me.”

“You’re all I think about, Naevia. You consume mind like fire.” He reaches his hand out and cups her cheek gently. She closes her eyes and leans into his touch. Tyronius begins to slowly lean in towards her lips and she decides to meet him halfway. Their lips touch in a sweet kiss that promises so much more to come.

Crixus takes a pouch from his subligaria and begins to slowly walk into the corridor, studying the statues as he walks. He comes across Lucretia standing beside a statue. She is dressed in a red robe and her blonde hair is flowing freely down her back.

She turns towards him with an alluring smile on her face. “Did you know that the sound of your very footsteps moisten my thighs?”

Crixus smiles back. “Is that so? Well, I would have them dripping even more.”

 Lucretia starts slinking towards him when she notices his hands are behind his back. “What are you clutching?” she asks in amusement.

“Ah, but it is a surprise.” He says as he starts walking towards her. “Close your eyes.” She grins as she closes her eyes and she can feel when he is directly in front of her. She can hear him moving something around and as she is just about to ask what it is, he whispers, “Open your eyes.” Lucretia slowly opens her eyes to find a beautiful necklace in his hands. It’s made of many opals trimmed with gold on a delicate chain. Her hands cover her mouth in surprise. She beams at him with joy as she says, “Oh, Crixus….it’s beautiful!” She turns around and moves her hair to the side as she says, “Put it on.” He moves behind her and snaps the necklace around her neck. He wraps his arms around her so that her back is leaning against his chest.

“Does it please you?” He asks as he presses a kiss to her hair.

“Yes, thank you.” She replies and turns her head to give him a quick kiss on the lips. “I shall never remove it.”

“Won’t that arouse the suspicion of Dominus? He will think you spent unnecessary coin on it.”

Lucretia shrugs. “I’ll tell him it was my mother’s. What could he say about that?” She turns in his arms and wraps hers around his neck. “How should I thank you for such a wonderful gift?”

“I can think of many ways...” Crixus says as he begins kissing her neck.

“Mmmmm…that feels nice” she moans softly. She tilts his head up to meet hers in a fierce kiss and pushes him back into a wall. She slides her hand down until she is groping his hard erection in her hands. She pushes the cloth to the floor, never releasing his lips and starts moving her hand up and down. He groans into her mouth and starts palming one of her breasts. She breaks the kiss and kisses his neck softly and trails her lips to his chest. She kisses her way down his toned chest as she moves to kneel on the ground.

She looks up, her blue eyes full of lust, and catches his gaze as she moves her hand to the base of his shaft. Her eyes do not waver from his as she slowly envelopes him into her mouth, going as far down as she can. He groans loudly as soon as he feels her take him into her wet mouth. She begins to set a groove and enthusiastically bobs her head up and down the length of him. He closes his eyes at the intense feeling of pleasure and begins running his fingers through her hair. She is enjoying the groans of pleasure he is making and can feel how wet she is becoming at the thought that she is the one causing his groans of delight. She reaches down and begins to rub her clit and moans in pleasure against him.

“Fuck!” he exclaims as he tilts his head back in pleasure. I cannot wait any longer; I must have her he thinks as he quickly pulls her off the floor and lifts her up. Her legs instantly wrap around him and he presses her against the wall. He starts kissing her neck and licks his way to her ear as he places his hands between their bodies and runs a finger against her wet heat; she whimpers at his touch. “Did giving me pleasure please you? You’re wet to the touch.” He breathes warmly into her ear. She shivers with desire.

“Yes!” she breathes out as he teases her with his finger. She squirms against him and exclaims, “Crixus, I cannot wait! I need you within me!” He obliges and plunges himself deep into her. They both moan loudly at the contact. He begins a steady pace of thrusts, enjoying the cries escaping from her lips at every movement of his hips.

“On-on the fl-floor.” She pants. He moves away from the wall and sits them down on the floor and lies back until his bare back hits the floor. His hands move to hold her hips as Lucretia begins to ride him. He helps guide her hips up and down on top of him and starts to thrust upwards as hard as he could. Lucretia gasps sharply when she felt him lift her and slam her back down onto his hard length. “Unnnhhh!” She matches him, thrust for thrust, and loud moans continue to fall from her parted lips. Fuck, that feels good. I’ve never felt this with Quintus.

She is a vision from the Gods Crixus thinks as he watches her as she continues to ride him; her breasts bouncing with every thrust, her eyes closed and her head thrown back in pure ecstasy . Her cries are getting louder and he knows she is close. A few more thrusts and her walls tighten around him causing him to orgasm with a groan.  She collapses on top of him, panting wildly and places a kiss to his chest. He wraps his arms around her and plants a kiss to her temple. “I was not expecting that. That was a great way to thank me.” He chuckles and she can feel it rumble through his chest.

“It was my pleasure.” She smiles. She lays there listening to his heartbeat, beating wildly within his chest, until it returns to normal. She climbs off of him and holds a hand out for him to grasp and pull himself up. He dresses and she pulls her robe around herself and runs her fingers through her hair. “Crixus, what can you tell me about Tyronius, when his off the sands?”

His brows furrow, “Tyronius? He’s an honorable man. Why do you ask?”

“Naevia has taken to him and I wanted to be sure he was worth our time and not some worthless piss ant.” She says as she walks to him and puts her arms around his waist and lays her head on his shoulder. He returns the embrace and sighs.

“Naevia tells me she knows of our secret.” he says.

“Yes. I know I can trust her and I grew tired of not having someone to talk to.” He ponders this for a moment.

“Would you be opposed to me telling Barca?” She lifts her head to look him in the eyes.

“Are you sure his tongue would not be loose?”

Crixus nods his head. “Barca would not tell a soul. It is my business and he respects that.”

“I trust your judgment.” She smiles at him. She notices movement from the corner of her eye and turns her head to see Naevia at the entrance of the corridor. “Your escort awaits, my love. Until next time…” she kisses him gently.

“I count the minutes until I can hold you again.” He smiles and walks towards Naevia.

“I’ll be in the bedroom, Naevia.”

“Yes, Domina.” She and Crixus exit the corridor and Lucretia walks to her bedroom. She stretches out on the bed and awaits Naevia’s return. When Naevia finally walks in the door, Lucretia sits up and looks at her as she moves to stand in front of the bed. She takes note of her plump lips and knows hers must look the same.

“Tell me. Did you have a nice meeting with Tyronius?” she says as she taps her finger against her lips.

“Yes, Domina. I enjoyed it very much.” She says as she plays with her hands and a blush arises on her cheeks.

“Why do you act nervous?” Lucretia says as she scrutinizes her.

“Well…..I was given a gift tonight.” Lucretia lifts a brow. “One that I explained I cannot fully accept without your permission, of course, Domina.” She adds.

“I see. What is it?” Naevia brings the bracelet from inside her dress and holds it out for Lucretia to inspect. Lucretia takes the bracelet and chuckles at the thought that she and Naevia both received gifts on this night.  “It is very beautiful. You may wear it.” She says and hands the bracelet back to Naevia.

Naevia’s eyes light up. “You mean it, Domina?” she then slightly frowns. “Oh…but won’t Dominus be angry?” She knows of their money problems and is worried the jewelry will cause an argument.

“I’ll tell him the same thing I will about my own gift.” Lucretia says as she plays with her necklace. Naevia beams with happiness and puts the bracelet on her wrist.

“Thank you, Domina! Oh, this means so much to me!”

Lucretia smiles at her. “You see to your duties well. I see no reason to not reward you. Now, help me dress for bed.”

Later on that night, Lucretia lays in bed reflecting on all the changes in her life. I find myself changing in the most unexpected ways…it’s all Crixus’s influence. I rather like who I’m becoming. The problem being is that who I am becoming doesn’t fit with who Quintus is…and I don’t know what to feel about that. She sighs heavily and turns onto her side. Do I love him? Yes. Am I still in love with him? Her thoughts are interrupted when Quintus strolls into the room, finished with his dealings in The Pits. “Do you plan to return to The Pits?” she asks.

“They fill our hands with coin—with yet more to be mined.” He says as he sits on the bed. She looks at him incredulously.

“And what when the shaft caves in on you? What then?” She decides to press on his fears. “You know the law. Without an heir, I’d be forced to marry another. Is that what you want? Someone else’s hands upon me?” They already are her inner voice chimes.

“I want everything!” he exclaims. She says nothing as she sits up in bed to sit beside him. “When Spartacus ends, so does my time in The Pits. Till then, his victories swell our purse.” He turns his head to face her and takes notice of the necklace around her neck. He palms the necklace and then tosses it back onto her neck. “Which you deflate with new purchases!” he exclaims as he reclines back onto the bed.

“What? This? Its rediscovery today pleased me. It was my mother’s, lost amongst her things.” She lies. “Perhaps we should return the emerald necklace I bought. It was excessive and if the coin will help speed you from The Pits---“

“Keep them both.” He says as he sits up. “I will not have my wife return jewelry. It’s embarrassing. Come, let us lie down.” He says and pulls her to him as they lie back. Lucretia’s mind is racing as she lies within his arms. At least he believed my lie. I feel so out of place next to him. I want Crixus….

The next day, Lucretia decides to go to the market to sell the emerald necklace. They need the coin and the necklace is of no value to her, unlike the one that rests on her neck. She and Naevia seek out the merchant she purchased the necklace from. She spots him nearby and walks in his direction when she sees a beggar on the corner. She turns to Naevia and holds out her hand and Naevia places a few denarii in her hand. She places the coin into the offering dish and continues on her way. “Good sir!” she says as she walks up.

“Ah, the wife of Batiatus. What can I do for you today, madam?” She produces the necklace and gives it to him.

“I seek to sell this back to you. It’s the piece I bought for the reception we held.”

“Yes, I remember.” He replies. He also remembers her threat. He holds the necklace up, thinking of what he should offer to her, if he should even make her an offer considering how she treated him. Lucretia sits impatiently, fanning herself to keep cool.

“Would you have me bake in the sun or offer a price?” she finally says.

“Fourteen denarii.” He offers. She can’t believe what she just heard.

“Fourteen? That’s half of what I paid for it not long ago.”

“Used gems fail to command full value.” He says snidely. She is about to respond when Solonius suddenly appears.

“Oh, in the business of jewelry, perhaps.” He says as he approaches. For fucks sake. Could this not be humiliating enough? Returning jewelry for coin and this fuck has to stumble upon me doing so? She thinks to herself. “A beautiful piece.” He says as he inspects the necklace. “Allow me to buy from you. At full price.”

“You have a woman in mind who might favor it, Solonius?”

“Indeed. She stands before me.” He says as he moves to stand behind her. “A vision. Take it. And keep your emeralds. The thought of them against your skin warms mine.” Her skin crawls with the insinuation.

“Perhaps you mistake the heat of the sun.” she turns back to the merchant. “I’ll have your offer.”

Solonius smiles at her refusal. “Pride. Always part of your considerable attraction.”

“A trait which yet endures me to my husband.” I’ll say anything to make him take his leave.

“How is he fairing these days? Beloved Ovidius mentioned something about his men fighting in The Pits.”

Lucretia is silent for a moment, processing the fact that people know of her husband’s dealings in The Pits. “It’s a temporary measure.” She says.

“Oh, to be sure.” Solonius says disbelievingly. “I pray fortune swiftly returns to his favor, so we may battle once again in the arena. With honor.” He sneers as he walks away.

“Fourteen denarii.” The merchant says as he holds the bag of coin in the air. Lucretia snatches it from his hand.

“May the Gods shrivel your cock.”

Back at the ludus, the men are on break from training. Crixus and Barca stand together making conversation about Spartacus. They notice Pietros approaching Spartacus and giving him food and water. “Pietros!” Barca calls out. “Get away from him!” Pietros does as he is told and walks away, shooting a look at Barca as he passes them.

“Your boy fancy the Thracian, does he?” Crixus says with a smirk.

Barca laughs, “My cock keeps him well filled.” Crixus laughs at his reply and soon they hear another laugh join with theirs. Their laughter stops as Ashur approaches.

“The Beast of Carthage! I’ve always wondered how you acquired that name.”

“If you have words of purpose, speak them.” Crixus says impatiently.

“I was merely curious, Crixus. The gift I procured for you, did it satisfy its intent?” Crixus’s jaw clenches with barely controlled rage.

“Gift?” Barca questions.

“Yeah. An opal necklace of the finest—“He is cut off as Crixus violently grabs him and pulls him close.

“Your tongue rattles too freely in your mouth! Secure it or it will join that useless leg of yours!” Crixus harshly whispers the threat in his ear and pushes him to the ground.

“Apologies. The question was born of goodwill, I assure you.”

“Well, you can stick your goodwill in your ass.” Crixus says as he kicks him in the leg as he passes. Fucking Syrian cunt.

“What necklace does the shit speak of?” Barca asks. Crixus sighs and decides now is the best time to tell him.

“Come. Let us have words away from prying ears and loose tongues.” He says and leads them away from the others. Barca follows him with a look of worry upon his face. When they are far enough away, he turns to Barca. “I did purchase a necklace from that shit.”

“I gathered as much. For who?”

Just say it. “It was for Lucretia.” Barca’s brows furrow in confusion before understanding dawns on him.

“You mad fuck! Do you wish for your cock to be removed from your balls?!” Barca whispers furiously.

“Calm yourself. No one will find out as long as you keep your tongue from speaking it.”

“You can’t keep it from everyone, Crixus!”

“We’ve kept it a secret for three summers and have yet to be caught.”

“Dominus will have you both killed should he find out. Is she worth it?” Barca asks.

“She is worth the world and much more. I would give my life for hers in an instant.” Crixus says with a small smile. “Wouldn’t you do the same for Pietros?”

Barca sighs. “I would do anything for him.” He says seriously. “Since you’ve shared your secret it’s only right for me to return the gesture.” Crixus folds his arms and raises an eyebrow. “I seek to purchase freedom for myself and Pietros.”

“Wow. I never would have thought you to seek freedom. You revel in the glory of the arena.”

“A fact well known amongst many but I wish for more. More than this ludus can offer. Tell me, if given the chance, you would not seek your own freedom?”

Crixus looks down at the sand and ponders this for a moment. “I would…but not without her by my side.”

“You know that could never be.”

“Then I guess it is my fate to remain a gladiator.” Crixus says sternly. They are interrupted by Quintus as he orders Barca to prepare Spartacus for the games that night.

“Yes, Dominus!” Barca replies. “Duty calls.” He says to Crixus and walks away.

Later, Quintus and Ashur are in his office counting the coin Spartacus earned in The Pits. “Spartacus handsomely returns.”

“Will the sum balance our debts?” Quintus inquires. Ashur continues to count the coin.

“The scales are well nudged---but balanced? No.” he replies honestly.

Quintus sighs in frustration. “Pay out the most egregious but leave Ovidius with empty fucking hands.”

“Ovidius?” Lucretia questions as she steps into the room, Naevia trailing behind her. The men did not notice her presence, or the pouch she held within her hands. They look up from counting as she speaks. “The Magistrate’s cousin?” Ashur then notices the necklace upon her neck and everything clicks together in his mind. He says nothing as he continues to count.

“You should be in bed. The hour is late.” He responds.

“And our debts to follow.” She says as she moves further into the room. “If money is owed to Ovidius—“

He cuts her off with agitation. “Then it will be paid, in due course. The man offered me insult and I won’t reward it with swift coin.”

“Is that wise?” she says, her voice filled with worry. “If he complains to the Magistrate, I worry—“

He cuts her off again. “I am the paterfamilias, the worry is mine alone!” irritation lacing his voice.

She stares at him coolly. “Is that how you woke this morning? Alone? Was I not by your side?” she says as she throws the coin pouch onto the desk and storms out of the room.

“Lucretia!” he calls out and picks up the pouch, realizing it was filled with coin. “How did you come to possess these coins?! Lucretia!” he yells after her as he stands and walks to catch up with her. She ignores him for a moment before answering.

“From the merchant, if you must know. In exchange for the emerald necklace.”

“I commanded you to do no such thing!” he says angrily. She turns towards him sharply.

“Commanded?! You mistake me for a slave.” She says disdainfully as she stalks away from him. He follows and tries to touch her shoulder and she shakes it from his grasp.

“You know my intentions better.” He says as he grabs her elbow to stop her from walking away.

“Do I? I’m beginning to know them less and less.” She says doubtfully and pulls away from him and continues towards the bedroom. Quintus stands there with his fists clenched, seething in anger. “FUCK!” he shouts.

The next night, an incident occurs while Spartacus was fighting in The Pits. Two men made an attempt on Quintus’s life. Barca killed the one who attacked first and the second man blindsided Quintus and sliced his stomach as he fell to the ground. Spartacus quickly kills his opponent and then hurls his weapon at the man who attacked Quintus and killed him instantly. The crowd cheers at the violence and Quintus shares a look with Spartacus. Ashur and Barca drag the bodies of the men outside while Quintus paces and ponders who would try to kill him. He’s panicking not only due to the attack but because he just wagered a lot of coin against Spartacus in the fight; he was supposed to die per their deal.

Ashur rolls one of the men over and notices the mark on his back. “Their flesh carries a brand, Dominus.”

“Of what origin?” he demands as he holds his hand to his wound.

“Unfamiliar, but certainly the mark of a slave.”

“Slaves? They send common fucking slaves to kill Batiatus?!” he roars with rage as he kicks the dead slave repeatedly. “FUCK!” he yells as he feels a sharp pain coming from his wound. “Discover their master.” He grunts in pain. “I wish to have words with him. Get rid of this trash.” He spits on one of the bodies and limps away.

Quintus cleaned up his wound and put a loose dressing on it and limps his way to the bedroom where he finds Lucretia saying a prayer. He sits on the bed and watches her complete her prayer. “Juno’s lips, Juno’s heart, Juno’s belly...” she finishes, lighting a candle. She turns to face him as he shifts on the bed and winces in pain. “Let me look at that.” She says as she kneels on the ground and begins to undress the wound. “Who did this so we can respond with death?”

“The agents have already been dispatched to the Underworld. The hand behind them yet to be revealed.”

“I warned you of the dangers of The Pits.”

“I had thought to erase all our debts through them after tonight. Spartacus offered terms to see it so.” She pauses and removes her hands from the bandage.

“What terms?” she questions.

“His willing death to wager upon. Locating his wife the crux of the bargain.”

She breathes a sigh of relief. “The Thracian is dead?”

“No, he yet lives.” Her face falls. “And the wager is lost.”

“How much?” she whispers.

“A substantial sum.”

“We don’t have it!” Lucretia cries out, panic rising to the surface. “That Thracian—“she spat. “He brings nothing but shame on our house!”

“Were it not for him, you would be a widow.” He says trying to calm her down. “He saved my life in The Pits this night.”

“A place you would never have been if it weren’t for him! He is cursed; he is cursed by the Gods. I would see his life ended as it should have been when he stepped into the arena, doomed for execution! Every day that the Thracian yet lives I fear that his curse will become our own.” She says vehemently.

“I agree with you. That said he saved my life, Lucretia. I’m reinstating him as a gladiator.” He says as he slowly stands and redresses the wound with a wince. “I’ll go tell him the news.” He makes his way out of the room, leaving her kneeling on the floor.

She pulls herself up onto the bed and sits in shock for a moment. “What a fucking mess…” she whispers to herself.

The sun has raised high in the sky and Quintus is anxiously waiting in his office for Ashur and Bara’s return. Footsteps approach and he stands from is chair as guards escort Ashur and Barca into the room. They have been searching for answers since before the sun rose this morning. “Ah! So, who is the sneaky fuck with the slaves? I trust you have answer.”

Ashur steps forward. “Yes, Dominus. The slaves were tracked to a man by the name of Remus.” Quintus nods his head.

“Bring him around. I’d like to have conversation.”

“Yes, Dominus.” They both answer. They turn to leave but stop as Quintus speaks.

“Barca, you can continue on for a moment. Prepare anything you need to bring our friend in for a chat in the tunnels. Ashur, stay behind.”

“Yes, Dominus.” Barca says and exits the room with the guards. Quintus claps Ashur on the shoulder.

“That thing is removed from your leg soon, yes?” he inquires.

“Yes, Dominus. Very soon. In which, can I make a request?

“Go on.”

“After it is removed, I wish to return to the sands as a gladiator. I want to honor this house in the best way I know. I long for the arena.” He pleads with hope in his eyes.

“Ah, but that is what I wished to speak to you about. I don’t want you to fight anymore.”

Ashur visibly deflates. “But Dominus—that is the best way to honor you! I relish the fight.”

“I know you do. It is not the only way to honor me. No, you have too much cunning for the sands. I want you to remain by my side as trusted ear. You have not yet earned a permanent residence inside the villa, but there is room for growth. You may, however, come and go as you please and no longer need an escort to do so.” Ashur is still slightly distraught by the news that he would not be returning to gladiator status but he is happy with his new position. He gives thought to what this could mean and starts planning out some ideas.

“Thank you, Dominus. It is an honor.” He says with a slight bow of his head. Quintus smiles and pats him on the shoulder.

“Think nothing of it. You show great loyalty and I will have that loyalty rewarded. Now, go meet with Barca and locate that piece of shit Remus.”

“Yes, Dominus.” Ashur says and exits the room. Quintus takes a deep breath and runs his hand over his head.

“I will have my revenge.” He says with a laugh and sets out to find Lucretia before the Magistrate arrives.

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show.

##################################################################################

CHAPTER FIVE: EVERYTHING CHANGES

Magistrate Calavius has arrived to the villa to select men for his upcoming games and Quintus and Lucretia are in high spirits. She has decided to keep the events of last night out of mind in favor of hopes that this means all is forgiven from the Primus in the eyes of the Magistrate.  Quintus goes to greet him, only to see that Solonius has followed and he cannot keep the frown from his face. The men begin walking, making their way to the balcony.

“Good Solonius has been kind enough to lend a hand in organizing the games to appease the Gods’ appetites. The city has suffered from the drought long enough.” Calavius says.  They step onto the balcony and observe the men training below.

Lucretia ducks around the nearby corner to listen in on their conversation, Naevia standing beside her.  “If you must appease the Gods, you need to have one on the sands.” Quintus says as he gestures to Crixus. “Crixus, the Champion of Capua will willingly fight anyone that Solonius has to offer.” Lucretia grins with pride as she hears this, knowing Crixus will revel in the news that he will be part of the most important game to date.

Calavius nods his approval. “Excellent. It will truly be a contest between legends!” he says as he takes a seat. Quintus looks to him with confusion.

“Legends?”

“Oh? Did I fail to mention? Solonius has secured Theokoles for the Primus in the games.”

Lucretia gasps. “Theokoles?” she whispers, stunned by the revelation. Her face full of fear, she looks to Naevia who also has a shocked expression on her face.

“I feel the Gods will be displeased. The match is unbalanced. Only one man has ever stood against Theokoles and lived.” Quintus says, attempting to control the tone of his voice.

“What if Crixus was joined by your man, Spartacus? His death was fated in execution, yet he refuse to own it.” Solonius says with a smug smile.

“Your debts are well known, Batiatus. Even if you lose the men, the purse is enough to hold off your creditors for a moment.” Calavius says. Quintus purses his lips in frustration at the mention of his money troubles.

“I will set my men to the task.” He walks to the railing of the balcony and speaks to the men. “My titans! Pause and hear the glorious news!” he demands and the men halt their training and give him their full attention. “Magistrate Titus Calavius has invited our best men to fight in his Primus! Crixus. Step forward.” Crixus steps forward with pride written across his face. “Spartacus, step forward.”

The Thracian? What fucking right does he have to fight alongside me in the games? Crixus thinks with contempt.

“You have been chosen to fight as one against Theokoles, The Shadow of Death.” Crixus and Spartacus share a look of worry at the announcement.

Later in the evening, Oenomaus seeks conversation with Quintus regarding the games. “You send them to certain death.” He says as he walks with Quintus and Lucretia. “Let me fight in their stead.”

“That’s an excellent suggestion.” Lucretia agrees.

“I owe Theokoles a debt of pain.”

“You were not requested. Look, no one has forgotten how bravely you fought against Theokoles, old friend." Quintus says as they come to a stop.

“Yet without victory.” Oenomaus replies.

Quintus sighs. “You stand the only man to face him in the arena and live. That in itself is a victory.” He notices Ashur and Barca have returned and wait for him in the hall.  “Set your purpose to the task of training Crixus and Spartacus for the match.”

“I fear no amount of training will save them from the Shadow’s grasp.” Oenomaus responds honestly. Lucretia lets out a small gasp at this and looks to Quintus, pleading with her eyes for him to change his mind. He briefly looks at her before he responds.

“Then prepare them for a glorious death.” Lucretia’s face falls at this and Oenomaus says nothing as he turns and walks away.

“Quintus, maybe you should reconsider sending Crixus...“she says shakily.

“The Magistrate wishes for Crixus to fight and the decision is final. Do not fret, my love. If he falls, we will have enough coin to survive and to train another to take his place.” Ashur and Barca have approached and he is anxious to speak with them about Remus. “I must take my leave. I won’t be back until much later.” He says and kisses her on the cheek and walks off with the two gladiators.

Lucretia is barely keeping her tears at bay as she stands there staring off into the distance. Naevia is silent as she watches her Domina struggle with her emotions. She reaches out a hand and places it on Lucretia’s shoulder, attempting to comfort her. “Domina…”

“Go and fetch Crixus water. It will help with his training.” She says, her voice slightly faltering. She and Naevia share a look of understanding and Naevia nods her head.

“Yes, Domina.”

“I will be where I normally take my walks.” Naevia nods and quickly walks out of the room. Lucretia stands there for a moment before slowly walking off towards the back of the villa where the garden is located. It is secluded and a very cherished place to her. Tears are blurring her vision the closer she gets to the garden and her face begins to crumble as she can no longer hold back her emotions. She leans against a wall and begins to cry, realization taking control of her. I could lose him. The risk is too high, no matter how great a fighter he is. I can’t bear the thought… she sadly thinks as tears stream down her cheeks. She lets out a deep sigh as she pushes herself off the wall and steps out into the garden. She starts making her way through the maze of bushes and many flowers until she makes it to her destination. In the middle of the maze, there sits a small clearing with a concrete bench and several rosebushes. She sniffs as she looks to the bench and then the ground, making her decision to sit on the ground. To hell with propriety she thinks as she plops to the ground and stretches her legs out in front of her.

She leans her head back to rest on the bench as she looks up to the heavens, tears still rolling down her face. She thinks of her fallen friend, wishing for guidance. “Oh Gaia…What am I to do? My heart shatters at the thought of losing him.” She says aloud as she plays with her necklace that Crixus gave her.

Crixus walks up to the bars and sees Naevia standing there with a water skin in her hand.  “It’s water from Domina.  She said it will help with your training.” She says as she hands the skin through the bars to him.  He drinks thirstily from it and quickly swallows the cool water down.

“Gratitude.” He says and she nods in return. “How does she fare?” he asks, knowing that she isn’t happy about his involvement in the games.  Naevia sighs.

“She is very distraught. She doesn’t want you to fight…she feels it is too dangerous.”

“I know…but the honor is too great. To refuse would be an insult…”

“I realize this. Perhaps you should still consider her feelings on the matter. They matter, do they not?” she questions.

“Of course they do!” he answers hotly. “Never doubt that they do.” He then whispers to her, “Maybe if I were to earn enough coin, I could purchase my freedom and we could leave…” Naevia nods in understanding.

“Rest then. To regain your strength and to think about what you should do.” She walks back up the stairs and he begins walking back to his cell, taking a gulp of water on the way. Upon his entrance, he sees Spartacus waiting for him and he is instantly enraged.  Spartacus jumps onto his feet.

“I seek no quarrel!” he exclaims.

“Your presence here states otherwise.” He says menacingly as he stalks into the room moving closer to Spartacus.

“If we are to defeat Theokoles...”

“We?! There is no such thing in the arena.” Crixus sates angrily. Spartacus looks at him in disbelief.

“You believe you can slay the giant? Alone?” Crixus walks forward until he is standing directly in front of him.

“As I always stand.”

“This time you do not.” Spartacus retorts. Crixus will not back down.

“When Theokoles falls, the glory will be mine.”

“And if we do not come to common ground, the death shared will be ours.” Spartacus replies and walks out of the room. Crixus watches him leave and sits on his bed. He leans against the wall as he thinks about Lucretia. I hate that I am hurting her…but my decision is for us... I could be a free man and we can somehow leave this place together.

Naevia walks to the garden and finds Lucretia sitting on the ground staring up at the stars. She doesn’t acknowledge Naevia’s arrival and Naevia clears her throat. Lucretia startles slightly and turns her head to look at Naevia. “Domina…perhaps we should get you into some clean clothing and prepare for bed?” she suggests. Lucretia holds her hand up in silent demand and Naevia grasps her hand and pulls her to her feet. Lucretia is silent as they make their way back into the villa and walk to the bedroom to prepare for bed.

Morning arises and Barca and Ashur are getting ready to leave the villa for the day in search of Remus. They watch as Crixus and Spartacus begin stretching to prepare for their training. “Ohh. As if they stand a chance against Theokoles.”

Barca rolls his eyes at him. “Perhaps the Gods will favor them.”

“Yes and perhaps I should sprout wings and flutter off. The odds lay a thousand to one against them.” Ashur wagers as he turns to Barca.

“No man has ever won a wager against Crixus.” He says disdainfully. “I would lay coin towards their victory.” He says, supporting his friend.

“A fool’s wager.” Ashur scoffs. “Happily received.” The guard opens the gates for them as they exit the ludus.

Lucretia walks silently alongside Quintus and decides to let him know that she has a guest arriving soon. I cannot believe that I am doing this…inviting that bitch into my home on my own accord. I’m desperate to get Crixus out of this fucking game. I must. “Quintus, Illithya shall be arriving soon.” She blurts out.

“Illithya?”

“She comes at my invitation.”

“Now is not the time to be entertaining that spoiled little bitch.” Quintus chides. Lucretia throws her hands in the air in frustration.

“Her father Albinius holds the Magistrate’s ear. If he were to place a word in it, then Crixus may be replaced in the primus.” She explains.

“He could place a thousand and to no result.” Quintus says, irritation lacing his voice.

Lucretia glares at him coldly. “Solonius maneuvered you.”

“With the aide of the Magistrate! Refuse and we would quickly find ourselves excluded from the arena all together. Is that what you want?”

I don’t care! She screams in her head. She decides to try a different angle of persuasion. “Of course it isn’t! But what if Crixus falls? Who will be our champion? Who will the crowds clamor to see from the house of Batiatus? Not Spartacus, that thing from the pits!” she says heatedly. Their argument is interrupted as the doors open and Illithya walks in, her slaves trailing behind her.

“Your guest arrives. Do not broach the subject with her.” Quintus orders and misses the dirty look Lucretia shoots him. Lucretia and Illithya greet one another with a hug. “I have business to attend to. I leave you in loving hands.” Quintus says as he strolls out of the room. As soon as he is out of earshot, Illithya turns to Lucretia.

“Is it true, then?”

“What?” Lucretia asks.

“Crixus and Spartacus face the Shadow of Death?” she says as she holds Lucretia’s hand.  Lucretia looks at their joined hands with a brief frown.

“They do.” She says unhappily. Illithya completely misses the tone of her voice and laughs. Lucretia looks bewildered at her.

“Blood will surely flow on that day. I long to see it pour from the Thracian.” She says cruelly as they step out onto the balcony to watch Crixus and Spartacus train with Oenomaus. Lucretia decides to lounge as she watches while Illithya preferred to get as close as possible and stands against the railing. Training is not going so well. Oenomaus knocks the men to the ground over and over again; neither is able to land a direct hit upon the swift man. Lucretia sees Spartacus try to help Crixus up from the sand and he shoves him away. She knows they must work together this time, regardless of feelings, in order to stay alive.

Why is he being such a stubborn fool? Can’t he understand that they must work together? She thinks to herself.

“How Crixus moves.” Illithya suddenly speaks. “The way his muscles catch the sun….truly the Champion of Capua.” Lucretia frowns and she and Naevia share a look.

“None his equal.” She responds truthfully.

“I crave a closer look. Can we go down among them?” Illithya asks as she moves to sit beside Lucretia, causing her to sit up on the chair.

“That isn’t allowed.”

Illithya smirks and asks, “A private viewing, then? In the villa? I would pay for it, of course.” Naevia glances at the pair and notices how tense Lucretia is.

“A favor amongst friends.” Lucretia lies with a smile. Illithya giggles with glee and grabs her hand.

“You must let me return it, then. I’ve given thought to your problem and have discovered solution.”

“Problem?” Lucretia asks with confusion.

“Children.” Illithya says smiling. “There’s a priestess of Juno who is blessed with gifts of fertility. Will you let me arrange it for you?” Lucretia knows she should take the offer as to not offend but she doesn’t want Illithya concerning herself with her private affairs.

She smiles and pats Illithya’s hand. “Gratitude for the offer, my dear friend. I mean no offense but I’m afraid I must decline.”

Illithya’s face falls with a frown. “Oh?”

“I have already sought out the help of a priestess.” She lies.

Illithya nods. “Very well. Should you ever change your mind, I will gladly do this favor for you.” She squeezes Lucretia’s hand before standing to return to the railing of the balcony, missing the roll of her eyes.

Nightfall soon arrives and Lucretia and Illithya are lounging in one of the rooms of the villa, waiting for Crixus and Spartacus to arrive. They are indulging in wine and fruit.

“I must ask, Lucretia. Have you ever gotten thoughts of fucking one of the slaves?” Illithya asks as she takes a sip of wine.

Lucretia was taking a sip of her own when asked the question and starts to splutter. “Heavens no! What would make you ask such a question?”

Illithya giggles. “I don’t mean to offend. You have such enticing men here at your disposal; one can’t help but wonder if you indulge from time to time.”

Lucretia scoffs. “I am married. I need only one man to fulfill my desires.” She says as she thinks of Crixus.

Illithya barks out a laugh. “I’m married too but variety every now and again does wonders for the mind and heart.” Their conversation is interrupted as Crixus and Spartacus enter the room and stand before the two women. The room is completely silent as the women take in the men before them. Illithya glares menacingly at Spartacus while Lucretia shoots Crixus an apologetic look.

“Do you know who I am, Thracian?” Illithya spat as she breaks the silence. Spartacus doesn’t respond to her question.

“Speak.” Lucretia demands.  He turns his head and looks to Illithya.

“I have seen you with Legatus Glaber.” He responds, saying the name with distaste.

She smirks at him. “I am his wife.” He says nothing as he continues to look at her. “He is regrettably abroad and will not be able to witness your death against Theokoles.” She says as she stands, a little unsteadily, and walks towards him.  She stands close to him and whispers in his ear, “I shall whisper of it to him, replaying the moment when we are entwined in bed” He doesn’t stop making eye contact with her, noticing how full of hatred her eyes are. Quintus walks into the room and raises a brow. Lucretia looks away worriedly, wondering if he will say something about them having a viewing with the men. Luckily for her, he doesn’t mention it when he speaks.

“Apologies. I require the Thracian for a moment.” Quintus says, pointing to Spartacus.

“I’m done with him anyways.” Illithya says haughtily as she walks back to the chair and sits down.

“My office.” Quintus demands with a snap of his fingers. Spartacus nods to him and is escorted from the room by a guard. “The Champion of Capua.  A rare honor to receive a private audience.”

An honor reserved just for me.  Lucretia thinks to herself.

“One I am most appreciative of. Although, he does seem a touch overdressed for the occasion” Illithya states as she stares at Crixus hungrily. Lucretia’s face immediately falls.

“Your subligaria. Remove it.” Quintus demands.  Crixus freezes for only a moment and sees Lucretia look away in anger, shaking her head. He slowly starts to remove the cloth until it hits the floor. Illithya lets out a small giggle, disbelief at his size written on her face. Lucretia briefly glares at her before turning her head again.

“Your champion is bold to his purpose.” Illithya states as her eyes travel up and down his body.

“I take my leave.” Quintus says and walks out of the room.

Tension fills the air, lust emitting from Illithya while anger seeps from Lucretia. Illithya slowly stands as her eyes keep drifting down to his cock and then back to his face and saunters over to him. She stands next to him and runs her hand down his arm and his eyes flicker between her and Lucretia. Lucretia clenches her teeth to stop herself from saying something she would regret. “I’m sorry.” She mouths to him apologetically.

Illithya begins to circle him, slowly running her hands across his body as she moves. “His flesh is hard….like marble.” She states, marveling at his muscles as she continues to touch him. Naevia looks at Lucretia and sees that her mask of indifference is beginning to crack.

I refuse to let this go on any longer! How dare that stupid little bitch think she can touch what is mine!  “We’d best not keep him.” Lucretia says as she sits up on the chair. “His training resumes at first light.”

“Do you think he will survive against the shadow?” Illithya asks.

He has to she thinks to herself. She pauses for a moment before she answers. “Only the Gods know.”

Illithya trails her hand over his shoulder. “It would be a pity to see such a man marred.” Her hand starts slowly caressing his chest.

Now or never. “Perhaps there is a way to see such a tragedy averted.” Lucretia suggests. Crixus quickly looks to her and subtly shakes his head. She ignores him and continues. “If your father were to speak to the Magistrate perhaps…”

“To what end?” Illithya inquires.

“To seeing Crixus replaced in the games.” Crixus clenches his jaw in irritation, Illithya’s caresses not helping his mood.

“Is that what you want?” she asks him. “Do you fear entering the arena with Theokoles?”  A brief silence fills the room. Lucretia hopes that he will remove himself from the games now that he has a chance.

“I long for it.” He states and drops his gaze to the floor as soon as he sees Lucretia’s face fall, hope draining from her eyes.

Illithya smiles at him. “As I long to see it.”

Meanwhile, Quintus is finally about to get the answer as to who sent the slaves to attack him. He and Barca take turns beating Remus in the face. Quintus loses control for a moment and bashes him in the head repeatedly with his goblet until he is barely conscious.

“Who did you fucking sell the slaves to?” Quintus rages.  

“Ov-Ovidius…” Remus chokes out painfully.

Quintus bends down to hear him better. “What?!” he snarls.

“Ovidius…sold to…Ovidius.” Remus says as blood pours from his mouth.

“Now, was that so fucking hard?!” he yells.

“Ovidius’s cousin is the Magistrate…” Ashur warns.

Quintus scoffs. “He could be cousin to Jupiter himself, I don’t give a shit!” he exclaims as he pulls a knife out. “I will have satisfaction!” He plunges the knife deep within Remus’s chest and twists it for good measure. He stands straight and looks to Ashur and Barca. “Clean this fucking mess up.” He sniffs as he walks away.

A few days later, the sun is beginning to set and Lucretia, Quintus, and Naevia stand on the balcony watching Crixus and Spartacus fail miserably in their training the day before the games. Oenomaus tires of his lessons falling on deaf ears. He shows them his scars from his fight with Theokoles and tells them how Theokoles fights.

“Press…and defend. Distract…and strike! You must do these things together. Fight as one! Or die as two.” Oenomaus advises. He picks up his practice swords and faces both men. “Now, show me the way to honor.” Both men charge at him and training resumes.

Lucretia shakes her head. “The games tomorrow and yet he presses them.” she says as she follows Crixus’s every move. Her eyes have not left him; her mind is racing with every possible outcome of this fight.

“To their benefit…..I have business in town.” Quintus says. “It’ll take me late into the night.” He lays his hand on top of hers. She doesn’t take notice for her eyes are still glued to the gladiator below.  He starts to pull away and looks to her for acknowledgement. “Lucretia.” He calls to her firmly.

“Hmm?” she says, finally tearing her eyes away from Crixus and looks at Quintus.

“Business.”

“Yeah, business. I heard you.” She says softly. She turns back to watch Crixus, sadness filling her eyes.

Quintus hesitates. “If you would prefer I delay…”

Lucretia turns to him, masking her emotions and gives him a small smile. “No. I have diversion.”

“If you’re sure…?” he asks and she nods to him. “I shall see you later then, my love.” He says as he takes her in his arms and kisses her gently. He releases her and walks away and she turns back and continues to watch Crixus with sad eyes.

Quintus watches from the shadows as Ovidius walks into the dark room complaining of the torches not being lit. His face falls into despair as he sees his wife’s cold and bloodied body lying on the ground, their slaves also dead around her. He rushes over to her and falls to his knees beside her, gently cupping her face. He feels like he is being watched and looks up to find Quintus holding his young son against him. He slowly stands up and looks to him in horror.

“I owe you a debt, Ovidius.” Quintus says calmly. “I’ve come to repay.”

“I hired those men…but to another’s purpose.” Ovidius confesses. This gives Quintus pause.

“Whose?” he asks. Ovidius doesn’t answer and the men stare at each other in silence, tension mounting in the room. He reaches out and pulls the child by the hair until his head is tilted back. “Whose?” he repeats. “Speak the name and I swear to the Gods I will not kill you.”

Ovidius struggles with himself for a moment before revealing the name. “Solonius.” He sighs. “He paid the balance of your debt to me in exchange for arranging your death.” He reveals.

“Gratitude for your honesty.”

Ovidius breathes a sigh of relief. “You’re not going to kill me, then?”

“No.” Quintus states evenly. “My slave is going to kill you.” At that moment Barca seizes Ovidius in his arms and shoves a knife through his neck before he can make a sound. He releases him and he falls to the ground; the boy running to his fallen father, trying to wake him. Quintus gets to his feet and walks to Barca and looks around the room distastefully. “Burn this place to the fucking ground. But first….take care of the child.” He says as he exits the room. Barca swallows deeply and takes a small breath, preparing himself, as he reaches for the child.

Crixus and Spartacus are alone and are sitting in silence until Spartacus breaks it, asking why he embraces being a slave.

“Glory. There is no greater thing than standing victorious in the arena.”

Spartacus stares at him intently. “Is there no purpose behind the blood?” Crixus turns his head and looks at him as he speaks. “No dream beyond the cheering crowd? Is there nothing else you fight for?” His thoughts immediately turn to Lucretia but before he could give an answer, a guard appears and tells him that he has been summoned. He follows the guard until he leads him to Naevia and he trails behind her as they walk in silence.

“You’re still going to fight, aren’t you? “She asks.

He sighs. “I must. If there is any chance at all of getting out of here, this is it.”

She suddenly stops and turns to face him. “But at what cost? Her happiness? There are always other ways, you just have to wait for the opportunity to present itself. This is not the way.”

He grows irritated. “How long would I have to wait for that opportunity? Hmm? Days, moons..what?”

Naevia huffs in annoyance. “So, what? You’d rather take a larger chance at dying than to just wait? I’m beginning to wonder how much you truly do care.” She says and turns to resume walking. Crixus grabs her wrist and spins her back around to face him.

“I LOVE HER!” he says loudly. “I would move the very stars for her should she desire it so. I’m doing this for us and I’m sorry if neither you nor she can see it that way.” Naevia shakes her hand from his grasp and continues to walk until they reach the bedroom. He steps inside and she shuts the door behind him. He looks around the room and spots Lucretia sitting near the window, gazing out into the dark sky.

He sighs and begins stepping forward. “Lucretia---“

“Don’t.” she cuts him off and he halts his steps. “Do I mean so little to you, that you would risk your life for a stupid game?”

“Why would you ask such a thing? You mean everything to me!” he exclaims passionately.

She takes a shaky breath, attempting to hold back tears. “Then, why do this?” He says nothing and she turns to face him, her eyes shining with tears. “Why?!” she demands.

“So I can have enough coin to buy my freedom and we can find a way to leave together!” he exclaims. “I just want to be with you, Lucretia. Without sneaking around and worrying about what we say and do in front of others.” She stares at him with wide eyes as he continues. “Free to express our love. We wouldn’t have to wait days to see each other…it pains me deeply when I cannot hold you in my arms and be by your side. I love you, Lucretia. Forgive me, my love. I have to do this.” He pleads. A tear escapes her eye and her lip quivers. He rushes across the room and kneels to the ground and gathers her into his arms and she returns the embrace. “Do not cry, my love.” He says and strokes her hair as she buries her face into his neck and tries to regain control of herself.

He gently rocks her and places tender kisses on her temple as he rubs her back. She sniffs and pulls back to look him in the eyes and he gently wipes away her tears. “I’m so in love with you, Crixus. I couldn’t bear to live without you.” She says and touches her forehead with his. “My heart is completely yours. I realized that I love you more than Quintus the moment I thought about the possibility of losing you.” Crixus cups her cheek and presses his lips to hers in a loving kiss.

“I promise I will never leave you.” He says as he looks into her sad, blue eyes.

She sniffs and nods her head. “Can you just hold me for a while?”

“I would love nothing more.” He says as he stands to his feet, gently pulling her with him. He leads them over to the bed and she lies down and he crawls in beside her. She nestles into his side and tucks her head beneath his chin and he wraps his arms around her and sighs in content.

She fits perfectly. He thinks to himself.

Naevia sighs as she cuddles further into Tyronius’s side. She wanted to see him and knew that Domina was going to be a while this night.

“What troubles you?” he asks as he peers down at her.

“It’s nothing, my love.”

“Surely, something is bothering you. Tell me.” He says, running his hand down her arm.

“I’m just worried about the games tomorrow. Crixus is a friend and I worry for his life.”

Tyronius chuckles. “If anyone were to beat the Shadow of Death, it would be Crixus. Worry not, my love. He and Spartacus will succeed and the Gods will be pleased once again and bless us with much needed rain.”

Naevia thinks for a moment before asking, “Tyronius, if you had the chance to fight in the games and earn coin to purchase our freedom, would you do it?”

He looks at her incredulously. “Of course I would! We would be free people to do as we pleased.”

“Even if I wished for you not to fight?” she asks, looking into his eyes.

“Even so, unfortunately. I would not ever wish to hurt you but it would be to our benefit should I succeed. Why do you ask?” he asks.

“No reason. Just a thought I had.” She sighs heavily as she knows it’s time she escorted Crixus back. “I must take my leave, my love.” He stands and helps her to her feet.

“I hope to see you again soon. “He says and kisses her soundly on the lips. 

She pulls away with a smile. “As do I. Goodnight, Tyronius.” She says as she begins walking away.

“Goodnight, Naevia.” He says with a smile.

Lucretia is nearly asleep when she hears the bedroom door open. It’s only Naevia and she knows she has come to escort him back. “Forgive me, Domina. The hour grows late and we don’t know when Dominus will return.” She nods her head and stands to her feet, Crixus moving to stand beside her. She says nothing as they both walk across the room and stop in front of Naevia and look at each other.

“Crixus…I still don’t want you to fight. Please don’t do this! We can find another way for us to be together.” She pleads. He grabs both of her hands within his own and kisses the back of one.

“Apologies for upsetting you….everything will be alright, Lucretia. I have to do this.” He says quietly and she nods her head and quickly presses her lips to his, a single tear rolling down her cheek. He pulls her to him tightly and whispers in her ear. “I love you, Lucretia. Never, ever forget or doubt that.”

“I love you so much.” She responds quietly. She clings to him tighter; not wanting to let him go for this could be the last time she holds him. They stand there for a moment, clutching each other dearly, neither one wanting to let go. She finally does and she backs away and turns away from him. Crixus looks at her once more before following Naevia out of the room. Lucretia’s face immediately crumbles the moment the door shuts and she wraps her arms around herself as her body shakes with her sobs. She slowly makes her way back to the bed and collapses upon it, sobbing into the pillow to quiet her cries.

Moments later, Naevia returns to find her in this state. She immediately rushes to her side. “Domina….” She says in sympathy. Lucretia reaches out and gently grasps her hand, letting her know that it was okay to comfort her. She gently lifts Lucretia’s head, placing it in her lap as she sits. Lucretia continues to sob, taking deep shuddering breathes as she tries and fails to get herself under control. Naevia begins to stoke her hair and shushing her, hoping to bring some comfort.

“It will be alright. You’ll see.” She says as she continues with her comforting movements and Lucretia’s sobs slowly stop as she begins to calm down. Lucretia sniffs as she breathes out. She spoke so quietly that Naevia almost didn’t hear her.

“I’m scared….”

Naevia nods her understanding. “I know you are, Domina. You must continue to have faith in the Gods. You’ve never wavered before, you shouldn’t stop now.” She says gently.

Lucretia nods. “Gratitude, Naevia. I needed to hear that.”

“I’m glad I could comfort you with my words, Domina. Now, would you like to get ready for bed?”

Lucretia sniffs and nods her head. “I would like that very much.”

The following day sees Lucretia and Quintus attending the games, seated with Calavius and his family along with Illithya. Calavius briefly steps away as a messenger seeks his ear. Lucretia is a bundle of nerves and is sick to her stomach as she watches the last matches of the game before Crixus faces Theokoles.Calavius’s son is riddled with excitement at the games. He loves watching the fights and studies how the men attack and defend. Calavius returns to his seat with a troubled look on his face.

“What is it, Calavius?” his wife asks with worry.

“My cousin, dear Ovidius, was murdered in his home.” Everyone around gasps in shock at the unfortunate news.

“What of his son?” she asks sadly. “He was so young!”

Calavius sighs. “Their villa was burnt, only a few bodies yet recovered. I fear the boy is amongst the ruins.”

“A tragedy. One must wonder what might prompt such an act.” Quintus says and turns to look Solonius in the eye conveying his message. Lucretia knows now that Quintus arranged that terrible tragedy and is mortified.

A child?! He murdered a child! Maybe dealings such as this one are the very reason we cannot have children..We are being punished for misdeeds. I cannot forgive him this… She is in complete disbelief.

Down below on the sands, Crixus and Spartacus stand waiting as they listen to the Magistrate address the crowd. Crixus sees Lucretia glance down at him and he gives her a small reassuring smile. “Your woman…is she the reason you refuse to die?” Crixus asks Spartacus.

“She is.” Spartacus replies.

Crixus just smiles as he takes one last look at Lucretia. “Then, perhaps, there is something beyond glory.” He says before donning his helmet.  Spartacus gives him a questioning look, wondering what woman he speaks of as he too puts on his helmet.

“Behold! Spartacus! Thraex!” Calavius says as he introduces them, Spartacus walks to the sands. The crowd immediately boos their displeasure apparent. “Joined in battle by the Undefeated Gaul! The Champion of Capua! Behold, Crixus!” Crixus walks onto the sands and the crowd cheers madly at the sight of him. He thrusts his sword into the air and the crowd begins chanting his name wildly.

“Capua!! Shall we begin?!” he yells to the crowd. The crowd is ready for the fight to begin and their brothers are watching them intently, anxiously awaiting the fight to begin. The crowd quiets as the Magistrate begins his introduction for Theokoles.

“Behold! Theokoles! The Shadow of Death!” Murmurs can be heard throughout the crowd, everyone trying to catch the first glimpse of the monstrous man. Emerging from the bowls of the arena is a giant of a man. He stands at least six feet tall and his body bursting with muscles. His blonde hair clashing with his extremely pale skin, littered with scars from his victories battles. Eyes as red as fire scan the crowd curiously as the sky begins to suddenly darken. He walks to the middle of the arena and looks around before raising his arms and letting out a roar. The crowd immediately begins to cheer with excitement.

“Begin!” the Magistrate orders. The animal of a man roars and immediately charges at the two gladiators. Crixus aims his sword strikes at the man’s chest, managing to cut him across the shoulder while Spartacus deflects a blow with his shield and spins around and swipes at the giant’s legs, slicing his thigh. Theokoles begins swinging wildly at the men, making them go on the defense and raise their shields. Lucretia grips the arms of her chair tightly as she watches intently, her eyes never leaving Crixus.

Spartacus takes a swing then falls back, letting Crixus take a swing before they trade places again. Theokoles is preoccupied and swipes at Spartacus and Crixus takes advantage of the moment and runs forward, slicing him across the gut. He tries again to land a hit on Spartacus but he raises his shield and blocks the blow before landing a mighty kick to the giant that sends him stumbling backwards. He takes a jab at Crixus and gets the sword knocked out of his hand, disarming him.  The crowd jumps to their feet, cheering loudly in excitement. The men attack as one, both slicing the giant on either side of his chest, the move finally sending him to the ground. The crowd instantly quiets as no one has ever done this before.

Theokoles lays unmoving, everyone sitting in stunned silence. Crixus and Spartacus look at one another, not believing that this just happened. Lucretia doesn’t move as she looks on with disbelief. Something isn’t right…

“Yes! Yes!” Quintus shouts and laughs victory within his clutches. Both men remove their helmets and begin laughing in disbelief that they have just defeated a legend. The crowd begins cheering as they walk into the middle of the arena, helmets held high in victory. Crixus immediately seeks out Lucretia in the balcony.

I live.. his eyes say and she can’t help but smile at him. Their fellow gladiators are cheering wildly from the bars and want to congratulate them on their victory, all except Oenomaus who is watching the giant man intently. “Yeah! Capua!” Crixus shouts as the crowd suddenly goes deathly quiet. Their brothers also stop cheering and Lucretia’s heart plummets to her stomach, fear consuming her.

TURN AROUND! She wants to scream. Please turn around!

Solonius looks on with glee as Quintus glares at him. Crixus and Spartacus glance at one another before slowly turning around to find Theokoles standing there, a sword in each hand, glaring at them. “Capua! Shall I begin?!” he yells to the crowd as thunder roars through the skies. They don’t have time to put their helmets back on as he comes barreling towards them.

They are both on defense, once again, as the giant rains heavy blows upon them, clashing against their shields. Suddenly, Crixus pushes Spartacus out of the way. “Get out of the way!” he yells. He and the giant clash their swords together in a display of furious swipes before Theokoles delivers a hard kick, knocking him right into Spartacus and they crash to the ground. “Give ground or I will kill you myself!” Crixus warns as he shoves Spartacus again as he stands.

What is he doing?! Use the Thracian to your benefit, Crixus!  Lucretia screams internally.

Crixus rushes at Theokoles and swipes his sword and immediately raises his shield to defend against an oncoming blow. They repeat these movements until Crixus accidently leaves an opening and Theokoles slashes him across the arm and he screams in pain. Lucretia gasps loudly and sits up further in her seat. Illithya smiles with delight at the action packed fight. Theokoles swipes Crixus’s feet from beneath him, sending him sprawling to the ground. Spartacus immediately charges in, aiming a mighty blow to the giant’s chest which he blocks with his swords. Theokoles raises his sword, prepared to strike and Spartacus raises his shield to block the hit and is sent to the ground with the force of the blow. Spartacus barely manages to roll out of the way when Theokoles stabs at him, his swords getting stuck into the ground. He uses this to his advantage and rolls back over and hits the giant in the face with the hilt of his sword, blood spraying from his mouth.

Theokoles slowly turns to look at Spartacus and roars in rage as he flips him into the air as if he were a child and the wind is knocked from his lungs. Crixus tries to use the distraction to his advantage and charges at Theokoles, blocking all of the hits from the man until he leaves an opening and Crixus pierces his sword through his abdomen, going straight through his back. He pushes it in all the way to the hilt, bringing his face closer to the beast of a man. He barely grunts in pain as his red eyes stare into Crixus’s eyes with deadly intent. They both begin screaming at each other and suddenly Theokoles head-butts him in the face, sending him stumbling backwards. The giant reaches and pulls the sword from his gut, not even wincing in pain and begin attacking Crixus, who is still stunned from the head-butt.

He manages to block the first blow and weakly raises his shield to block the second when Theokoles slices him deeply from his belly up his chest. Lucretia’s eyes grow wide in pure fear and her lip begins to tremble. Crixus slowly turns to look at her, blood oozing from his mouth and Theokoles lands a mighty blow that cuts deeply into his back. He cries out in pain and falls to his knees. It’s all Lucretia can do not to scream and she grips the chair so tightly, her knuckles turn white. Naevia wishes to comfort her but knows she cannot in the presence of others. Crixus is stunned as he kneels and he slowly lifts his head and meets Lucretia’s tear filled eyes.

I’m sorry, Lucretia…his gaze says.

Don’t you dare die on me, Crixus! Please! She returns with her own gaze, refusing to let her tears fall. She cannot come undone in front of everyone. He gives her a weak smile as Theokoles is about to end his life. Spartacus manages to get to his feet and calls out to the giant.

“Theokoles!” he shouts, gaining the man’s attention and he stops mid-swing to look at Spartacus. Crixus crumbles to the ground, his shield the only thing keeping him upright. Spartacus gives a mighty yell as he charges and uses Crixus’s shield to propel himself high into the air and begins savagely attacking Theokoles. Crixus falls to the ground in a heap, blood pouring from his wounds. He presses his hand against his stomach wound, feeling a small amount of his insides spilling from the wound and screams in pain. Lucretia isn’t watching anything but him, her heart trying to remove itself from her chest.

Spartacus is completely on defense at this point, not being able to move his shield as blows are rained upon him heavily. The sun peaks through the clouds and shines upon Crixus’s helmet and he manages to roll over, blood sputtering from his mouth and he reaches out and grabs it. He rolls back over and uses it to momentarily blind Theokoles. Spartacus tumbles and grabs a forgotten sword on the ground and quickly gets back to his feet. He knocks the sword from the giant’s hand and quickly slices the front of his legs, sending him to his knees. Then, he stabs him through the gut, the blade sticking out through his back. He savagely plunges the sword into his neck three times, each blow harder than the last. He still won’t die and Spartacus removes both swords from his body and crosses them at his neck.

The crowd is chanting loudly with glee, “Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!” He does not hesitate as he separates Theokoles’s head from his body in a mighty roar, spraying blood across himself and the sands. The crowd cheers in delight and Quintus is ecstatic. “Yes!” He yells.  

Crixus can feel the life draining from his body as the crowds cheers become a dull roar in his ears. Lucretia looks down at him in horror and Naevia looks as well as worry fills her heart at how this will affect her Domina. The skies grow darker as a loud rumble sounds through the skies and a hush befalls the crowd as everyone in the arena turns their heads to the sky. A few drops of water fall from the sky before a downpour begins. The crowd and his fellow gladiators are in awe; Spartacus brought the rains! Everyone laughs happily as the rain washes over them. Illithya smiles as she holds her arms out and lets the rain wash down them and Quintus sticks his head into the rain, laughing in joy. Crixus is barely clinging to life and memories flash before his eyes; the first time he and Lucretia actually had a real conversation, the first time she smiled at him, the first time they kissed, the first time they made love, her loving blue eyes, the way her face lights up when she smiles. Two men begin dragging him across the sand to place him on a shield in order to carry him and the last thing through his mind before the darkness claims him is the angelic sound of Lucretia’s laughter. Lucretia slowly walks over to the balcony and watches as the men drag Crixus away. She lets the rain wash over her numb body and allows the tears to spill from her eyes, mixing in with the rain.

The crowd begins chanting Spartacus’s name.

“Spartacus! Spartacus! Spartacus! Spartacus!”

Chapter Text

 

CHANGE OF HEART

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show.

CHAPTER SIX: FIGHTING FOR LIFE

A few hours later, Lucretia stands with Quintus on the balcony as he addresses the gladiators below, rain pouring down on them.  She is barely keeping it together; thoughts of Crixus are flooding her mind.

Gods, I just want to see him! Does he yet live or has he parted from this world? No….no, I would feel it if he were no longer alive She thinks to herself, tuning out everything around her.

“……So stand proud before the Bringer of Rain! The Slayer of the Shadow of Death! The new Champion of Capua, Spartacus!” Quintus says proudly as Lucretia zones back in to what he is saying. She frowns at Spartacus’s new title and watches him as he steps onto the balcony to the cheers of the men below.  The men begin chanting his name.

“Spartacus! Spartacus! Spartacus! Spartacus!”

Meanwhile, in the medicus’s room, Crixus is barely clinging to life. Blood flows onto the floor from his wounds and his breath is shallow. He comes to for a moment, flashes of the fight running through his mind.  The look upon Lucretia’s face as he was about to die enters his mind and his heart plummets into his stomach. The medicus suddenly places a hot iron on one of his wounds to seal it and he screams in agony, the rain drowning out his screams.

Quintus, Lucretia, and Spartacus are now inside the villa and Quintus cannot contain his excitement. “This is only the beginning!” he says as he grabs a cup of wine. “I will build an empire of blood upon your name!”

Lucretia rolls her eyes and says disdainfully, “He did not stand against Theokoles on his own.” She says as she looks at Naevia.  Spartacus looks at her and can’t help but wonder why she is bringing Crixus up. Quintus rubs her shoulder.

“Crixus is not forgotten. He will always have position.” He says as he turns to face Spartacus. “If he survives.” He states with a mocking tone.  Lucretia shoots him a disgusted look, which he doesn’t see, but Spartacus does and furrows his brows in confusion.  Lucretia notices Spartacus watching her and realizes he must have seen her face. Quintus continues praising Spartacus and begins talking about his future plans with him.

I could give a shit. Gods, will they both just piss off already so I can go to Crixus. I cannot wait much longer! Listening to him ramble on about that filthy Thracian is beginning to sour my stomach. He praises him so….one would think he would gladly bend over to see his cock in ass!  She fumes silently.

“I have found your wife, Spartacus. We will bring her to you as soon as possible...” Quintus says. She looks to him with confusion on her face.

Wife?! What is he talking about?

“You have my gratitude, Dominus.” Spartacus says, hope filling his eyes.

Quintus nods at him. “You are dismissed.” And motions for the guards to escort him back to the ludus. Lucretia is fuming. She tires of the growing secrets between she and Quintus.  Quintus turns to look at her and can see she is visibly upset.  “Now, Lucretia….”

“Secrets upon secrets.” She spat as she moves closer to him. “You have been searching for his wife and are bringing her here?!”

“The news of her discovery only just reached me.”

She scoffs. “ Yeah? And what of Ovidius and his family? Why did you keep plans of their slaughter from me? All just to clear a few debts!”

“It had nothing to do with debts, except one of blood! His hand was the one behind attempt on my life in the pits.”

“Ovidius?” she questions in disbelief.

“Indeed. Moved to purpose by Solonius. I keep these things from you not out of secrecy but from love. I would not have you stained by such things.”

“But you killed an innocent child, Quintus!”

His face grows red with anger. “What would you have me do, huh? Let the child live so he can point his finger in my direction as the one responsible for the death of his mother and father?!” he shouts.

“Of course not! You could have planned better so that wouldn’t have happened! An innocent boy is dead! I can’t help but to think that these…these…repulsive misdeeds of yours are why I cannot have a child! We are being punished because of you!” she yells before she can stop herself. She knows she has gone too far as they stand there breathing heavily looking at one another in silence. She begins to walk away when Quintus’s arm shoots out and grabs her upper arm in a steel grip. She tries to pull away only for him to grip her arm harder and she winces in pain.

“You dare speak to me that way?” he growls. She just stares at him defiantly and says nothing. “What has gotten into you, Lucretia?  You’ve been acting differently for half a moon and I grow tired of dealing with it.”

She manages to break his firm grasp and snatches her arm away. “I have nothing to say. I wish to be alone.” She says as she storms out of the room, Naevia trailing silently behind her. Naevia flinches as she hears the sound of glass shattering against the wall.

Barca is on his way to visit Crixus when he notices Ashur walking past the hall. “Ashur!” he calls out as he makes his way around the corner.

“Barca! I was just coming to have words with you!” Ashur says as he turns to face him.

“Keep them for I would have coin instead.”

Ashur swallows nervously. “Your wager in the favor of the unexpected outcome, the size of the odds…it’s not a simple matter to cover a win of such margins.” Barca grabs him by the throat and shoves him roughly against the bars of a cell.

“ I give no shit for margins.” He says as he squeezes his throat harder. “Beg, steal, or kill to cover what is owed or you will have two worthless legs and nothing in between to prop yourself up!” he says with a shove as he releases his throat, Ashur coughing as he gasps for air. Barca spits on Ashur’s foot as he stalks off and misses the glare Ashur shoots at him.

Barca slowly walks into the medicus’s room and frowns as he looks upon his injured friend.  Crixus lies deathly still; the only sign of life is the barely noticeable rise and fall of his chest. His wounds and the surrounding areas have been cleaned but his face is still caked with dried blood. He walks until he is standing next to Crixus and notices a cloth and bowl of water next to him. He inspects it to make sure the water and cloth are clean before he dips the cloth in and wrings the excess water out. He starts cleaning his friend’s face as his brow furrows with worry.

“If only you were to wake to tell me to fuck off from tending to your face...” Barca chuckles as he continues to clean Crixus’s face until all blood is removed.

“What the fuck are you doing in here?” the medicus says as he steps into the room.

“I only wish to see how he fares.”

The medicus scoffs. “He needs as much rest as possible. Even then, he may not pull through. I have a few herbs I need to procure from the garden. Don’t you fucking wake him.” He says as he points his finger at Barca. He walks out of the room as Barca lets out a sigh.

“I need you to wake soon dear friend. I placed a bet with that cocksucker Ashur and I have secured enough coin for my and Pietro’s freedom. I wish to speak with you before we leave so you’ll know where to find us.”

Lucretia and Naevia walk briskly down the hallway, taking turns here and there. She suddenly comes to a halt and pulls Naevia beside her as she hides around a corner, watching as the medicus walks by. She lets out a breath and looks at Naevia. “You can visit Tyronius.” She says.

“But Domina, don’t you need me to keep watch for you, should the medicus return?” Naevia says with a frown. Lucretia shakes her head.

“I’ll be fine, Naevia. Go have a nice visit. I’ll see you back at the bedroom.”

“Yes, Domina.” Naevia says as she walks away. Lucretia walks a little more down the hallway before stopping outside of the medicus’s room. Tears prickle her eyes as she takes a deep breath, preparing herself for the state Crixus will be in. She turns the corner and freezes when she sees Barca. He looks up when he hears footsteps and sees her standing in the doorway. He slowly stands from his friend’s side and makes his way to her and bows his head respectfully.

“Domina.” He says as he walks past her. Lucretia stands there for a moment before turning her gaze on Crixus, a gasp escaping her lips. Blood still covers the floor from where his wounds seeped and his normally tan skin is extremely pale. She begins walking towards him, her steps staggering as she takes in his wounds. Her hand covers her mouth in shock as she gets a closer look at the wound across his stomach and chest.

“Oh, Crixus….” She says sadly as she begins to weep. She runs her hand through his short hair as she looks down at him, a couple of her tears falling onto his cheek. She uses her other hand and gently wipes them away. “You can’t leave me, Crixus.” She says shakily. “You can’t.  I love you so much. You have to fight. Come back to me.” She leans down and presses her lips to his pale, cracked ones and prays with all that she has that he will kiss her back. She releases his lips to place a kiss on his cheek as tears still trail down her cheeks. “I will visit when I can, my love. Just know that my mind is constantly filled with thoughts of you.” She says as she straightens back up and cups his cheek. “I love you…” she whispers before she starts to back away and exits the room. She covers her mouth to muffle the sob that escapes it as she moves down the hallway and fails to notice someone lurking in the shadows, watching her as she passes by.

She makes her way back to the bedroom only to find Naevia waiting for her outside the door.

“Domina, I hope you don’t mind but I prepared a bath for you. I thought you would like it….”

Lucretia gives her a watery smile. “Gratitude. I would like one very much.” Naevia smiles back and leads her to the washroom. It’s just the two of them, as Naevia sent away the other slaves that helped her fetch the water. Naevia helps Lucretia undress before helping her into the large bath and begins undressing herself to get in with her. She slips in beside Lucretia and grabs a sponge and goes to rub it against her arms when she notices the heavy bruising on her upper arms.

“Domina….your arms.”

Lucretia looks down and sees the bruises. “Oh.” She sighs. “Quintus grabbed me roughly earlier, as you saw. Nothing to worry about.” She stares numbly ahead and doesn’t hear Naevia call to her.

“Domina…” Naevia says again and touches Lucretia’s shoulder.

“Hmmm?”

“I need you to stand so I can wash your legs and privates.” Lucretia nods and slowly stands, water dripping down her body. Naevia quickly finishes washing her and taps her hand to let her know she can sit back down.  “Domina…would you like to talk about it? You seem like you have a lot on your mind.” She offers.

A single tear makes its way down Lucretia’s pale cheek. “I’m terrified, Naevia.” She whispers softly. “What if he doesn’t make it? I can’t live without him nor do I want to.” She adds as sobs begin to rack her body.

“You mustn’t think like that. Don’t lose hope now, Domina. He needs you to stay positive.”

Lucretia wipes her tears away as she sniffs. “You’re right. I just let my emotions get the better of me. Now, let’s ready for bed. My skin is pruning.” She says as she stands up and Naevia helps her out of the bath.

 

A few days later, Quintus is going to the market to meet with the Magistrate and he brings Spartacus, Oenomaus, and a completely healed Ashur along with him. They meet and see that he brought his son with him, as he insisted upon meeting Spartacus. They end up agreeing to the Magistrate and his son accompanying them back to the villa so the boy can get a private training lesson from Spartacus.

Meanwhile, Lucretia and Naevia are checking in on Crixus. He state has not changed other than his body twitching periodically due to fighting a fever.  Lucretia hovers over him and watches as the medicus applies some type of healing paste on one of his wounds.

“Should his eyes not be open?” she asks curiously, wanting badly to touch his face to comfort him.

“Calm is needed to heal the wound.” The medicus explains. “I keep him at rest with herb.”

Her face fills with worry. “He will recover?”

The medicus sighs. “I’ve done what I can. It rests in the hands of the Gods.” Lucretia’s face falls at this news and she violently grabs the medicus’s head, shoving her nails into his scalp.

“No!” she snarls. “His life now rests in your hands! I will see them parted from your fucking body if he dies!” she says menacingly as she shoves his head away and storms out of the room. Naevia hurries after her.

“Apologies, Domina, but do you think that was wise?” Lucretia stops in her tracks and turns to glare at Naevia. “Wh-wh-what I mean is that you showed great emotion in front of the medicus. It could rouse suspicion. I did not mean to question you, Domina.” Naevia says as she bows her head and looks at the floor.

Lucretia’s face softens and she sighs deeply. “I don’t know how much longer I can stand this, Naevia. Seeing him like this….my mind has lost all reasoning. He can’t die…” she whispers as a tear rolls down her cheek.

 

Back at the market, Spartacus wishes to throw a party for the gladiators. Quintus approves of the idea and hands Ashur a bag filled with denarii. “See that it is done.”

Ashur smiles at him. “Dominus.” He says with a bow of his head he walks away seeking out the man for the job. “Ah! Marcellus! Just the man I was looking for.” Marcellus turns to look at him and his face fills with contempt.

“Come with more threats, then?”

Ashur chuckles. “No.” He places the denarii in his hand. “Coin. To the purpose of wine and whores for my master’s men.” He leans in closer and whispers. “And a large matter of debt to the gladiator Barca that I would ask assistance with. “ Both men smirk at each other.

 

Lucretia and Quintus sit with Magistrate Calavius to watch his son, Numerius, train with Spartacus later that evening. Calavius apologizes for being late due to traveling to Ovidius’s villa.

“How did you fare?” Quintus inquires.

“As expected when walking on dead relatives.”

“Such a tragedy.”

“Yes. Let us change the subject to more uplifting matters. My son’s fifteenth birthday approaches and my ears are assaulted with request for a pair of gladiators to show demonstration at his party. I had thought to engage Solonius’s men but his wares have fallen out of fashion since your victory over Theokoles.”

Quintus smiles proudly. “Your son has a taste for what is in favor. Come, let us negotiate a price.” The men stand as a messenger walks into the room.

“Apologies, Dominus.  I bring word of great importance to Magistrate Calavius.” The messenger says as he hands a scroll to the Magistrate.

“Ovidius’s boy yet lives!” he proclaims with joy. Internally, Lucretia is ecstatic that the boy is alive but she is also very terrified because this could fall back on them.

“This is fantastic! How can it be?” she asks.

“He was discovered north of Capua, wandering the road! The details are not yet clear. Numerius, come!” Calavius says as he calls for his son. And they take their leave.

As soon as they are out of sight, Quintus storms from the room towards his office. Lucretia follows behind him silently. He swipes everything from the table to the floor in a violent rage and Lucretia jumps at the display of violence from him.

“I thought you said your slave killed the boy?” she says with an accusatory tone.

“He did!” Quintus shouts.

“Your eyes held his death?” Ashur takes this moment to stand outside the door and listen in on their argument.

“…no. I left the deed in Barca’s hands.”

“And our lives as well! What are we going to do, Quintus? Your vengeance is going to cost us our lives!” she yells. Ashur smirks in amusement, enjoying the wedge he has created.

“Don’t you dare--!” Quintus begins but is interrupted as Ashur enters the room.

“Pardon the intrusion.” Ashur says as he walks up to them.

“What the fuck is he doing here? And without an escort?” Lucretia says angrily as she stares coldly at Ashur.

“Calm yourself, Lucretia!” Quintus says through clenched teeth. “He is allowed to walk amongst the villa as he chooses.”

She scoffs. “Really? When were you going to tell me that piece of information?”

Quintus opens his mouth to retort but is interrupted by Ashur.

“Provision for the celebration arrive.” He says with a smile.

“We are betrayed by The Beast of fucking Carthage and you bray about wine and whores!?” Quintus says.

Ashur acts confused. “Barca?”

“Yeah.”

“The man has always been loyal.”

“The son of Ovidius lives.” Quintus informs.

“I cannot believe Barca would betray you.” Ashur says disbelievingly. “And yet….” He trails off.

Lucretia walks towards him. “If you have knowledge, bring it to light.” She demands.

“Barca placed a wager against Theokoles, winning sizeable coin. I overheard him whisper to Pietros intentions to buy their freedom with it.” He reveals.

Quintus is stunned. “Barca has never mentioned desire to leave these walls. Gather proper guard and return with Barca. I would hear truth spilled from his mouth.” He demands Ashur.

“When a man is pressed, lies flow with greater ease. Perhaps we should ask Pietros first…”

Quintus sighs. “Very well. Send the boy here and I will seek the truth from him.”

“Dominus.” Ashur nods as he turns and exits the room, a smile upon his face. Lucretia stands quietly, knowing that if it is true, Crixus is about to lose a dear friend.

 

The men are celebrating wildly down below in the ludus. Wine pours freely and generously and women are receiving and giving pleasure at every turn you look. Pietros and Barca are loving every minute of the celebration. Barca showers them both in a cup of wine, drinking from the air as Pietros straddles his lap.

Pietros giggles. “You drown me!”

Barca laughs. “In more than just wine!” Pietros grabs his face and kisses him passionately. “I love you.” Barca says between kisses.

“I love you too.” Pietros whispers back and leans in to kiss him again when they are interrupted by a guard.

“Pietros! You have been summoned.” 

Quintus waits for him and pours them both a glass of wine and takes a sip as Pietros does the same. “How fares Barca?” he asks.

“In fine spirits as are all the men.”

“Is your confidence to be trusted?”

“Yes, of course Dominus. “ Pietros assures.

“Several days ago, I was forced to take retribution against Ovidius. He had made attempt on my life in the Pits. Now rumors abounds that more than Ovidius gave up their lives. His entire family, slain! There was even a child. The boy troubles me….if Barca exceeded my orders and laid hand to such an act…”

“No! He didn’t kill the boy.” Pietros says, happy to let Dominus know Barca did not disobey him.

“Perhaps you only tell me what I wish to hear.” Quintus accuses.

“No, no, no. He told me so himself.  He swore he’d never harm a child.”

Quintus nods his head in thought. “Thank you for your honesty, Pietros.”

“Dominus.” He says with a smile as the guards escort him back to the celebration. Ashur walks up as they leave.

“The true nature of the man is revealed. I would not have thought it of him.” Ashur says with false disappointment.

“Let Barca hoist his cup a while. When his wits are damp with wine then I will see him rewarded for his loyalty.” He says as he hands Ashur the empty cups of wine. “You’re a good man, Ashur. Trusted man. How would you like to reside inside the villa in your new role as an advisor of sorts? You’ll be given new clothes to wear and you will still tend to my financial matters but I would hear your opinion spill from your lips on pressing matters.”

Ashur is taken aback by the amount of luck he has. “I-I would be honored, Dominus. Truly.”

Quintus claps him on the back with a smile. “Welcome to the villa.” He says as he walks off.

“Dominus.” Ashur replies and smiles at his good fortune.

A while later, Ashur slinks into the celebration, giddiness riddling his body at the thought of what is to come. He spots Barca and Pietros in a passionate embrace and makes his way over to them. He clears his throat to gain their attention.

“A word, if I may.”

“Fuck your words unless coupled with coin.” Barca says angrily.

“The very matter I came to discuss. I’ve secured a sizeable loan from Marcellus to cover your winnings….”

“Give it here.” Barca demands.

“Marcellus will bring it when he collects his whores in the morning.” Ashur responds. “Batiatus knows of your desire for freedom and makes noise for discussing terms. I can offer to negotiate a better price from Batiatus for your release. Half the difference to be subtracted from my debt to you.” He offers, hoping Barca will take the offer. “Batiatus is in agreeable spirits. If we move with haste…” he adds.

“Go!” Pietros says encouragingly.

“Let’s go and call him Dominus for the final time.” Barca says firmly. Ashur grins in response and the men walk away. Pietros smiles in happiness at the thought they are finally going to be free.

Ashur leads him to an area where Quintus awaits and Barca looks around nervously.

“I hear whispers that you seek freedom.” Quintus says from the shadows.

“Ashur represents me in the discussion.” Barca states.

“Discussion? There’s none to be had in the matter. The bond between master and slave has already been dissolved…” Quintus says as he steps closer to Barca. “…the moment you disobeyed me.”

“Disobeyed?” Barca says in confusion.

“The son of Ovidius lives.” Quintus says with clenched teeth. Barca turns his head slightly and looks at Ashur who says nothing and he lets out a nervous laugh.

“Impossible.”

“Yeah? The Magistrate rides to retrieve him. Yet breathing, small fingers trembling to reveal the beast that took away his family.”

“This cannot be!” Barca insists urgently. “My hands upon his throat, I felt the life flee from his body!” Ashur briefly becomes worried, thinking that Quintus may believe Barca.

“Your lover spoke otherwise.”

“Pietros?”

“Yes….you told him the boy lives. Did you not?” Quintus accuses.

“I did.” Barca admits. “But only to calm him. If he knew the child’s blood stains my hands…”

Quintus takes this into consideration. “So, you lied to him?” Ashur decides to interfere, given his new station.

“Or he lies to you now!” he interjects. Barca looks at him sharply and then notices the guards surrounding them, dread filling his body.

“Either way, we’ve a serious issue of trust.” Quintus says as he turns away.

Barca looks around quickly and his body tenses in preparedness for a fight. “Dominus! Let me expl…” he is cut off by Ashur stabbing him in the back with a knife and screams out in pain. Barca grabs him by the neck and throws him into Quintus. A guard moves forward and manages to slice Barca’s upper arm before Barca punches him in the face and kicks him into another approaching guard.

“Well, stop him!” Quintus yells. Barca turns and begins to flee, crossing the pool on his way, and comes to a stop as four guards surround him. He kicks a chair into one of the guards and grabs another by his throat and shoves him away while taking his sword. He stabs a guard through the face and as he is about to turn to fight off another, he is sliced across his back. He turns to fight with the assailant, but is cut in his arm by another guard and the guard fighting him quickly slices his leg, bringing him down to the ground. He tries to pick himself up but is stabbed completely through his back with a sword and he screams in agony and is stabbed again through his stomach. His screams go unheard due to the heavy rainfall and loudness of the celebration below. Quintus looks on with no remorse in his eyes.

Ashur’s heart is beating with adrenaline at the sight of the fight, wishing he could be the one to end Barca’s life. Barca is stabbed again and wails in pain and Lucretia, Naevia, and another slave girl rush out into the open to see what is going on. They gasp in shock at the scene in front of them.  A guard hits Barca across the head and sends him sprawling to the floor as another stabs completely through him to the floor below.  Still clinging to life, Barca slowly makes his way to the pool in the center of the room, still trying to escape. Quintus follows him into the pool, knife in hand as he slowly comes to stand next to Barca. He pulls Barca into a kneeling position by his hair and says, “Now, you’re free!” as he slices Barca’s neck like he was nothing more than an animal. Blood sprays from the wound and Barca collapses in the pool, unmoving. Ashur can barely conceal his delight at the sight of Barca dead. He no longer owes any coin he thinks to himself with a small chuckle. Barca’s blood quickly fills the pool and Naevia begins to cry as Lucretia is frozen in shock.  She quickly pulls herself together and turns to face Naevia, grabbing her by the shoulders. 

“You cannot say anything about this, Naevia. He purchased his freedom and was escorted out of the villa.” Lucretia whispers, panic lacing her voice. Naevia doesn’t answer as she is still staring at the pool where Barca lies, the water turned red from the violent attack. Lucretia grips her arms more tightly and slightly shakes her. “Do you understand?” she says sternly as Naevia finally looks at her, her eyes wide in fear.

“Y-ye-yes, Domina.” Naevia replies shakily.

All of a sudden, there is a hard pounding on the door, a guard demanding the door to be opened.  Barca’s lifeless body is being dragged away but there is no time to clean up the evidence of the attack.

“Make way for the Magistrate!”

“Fuck!” Quintus yells.

“Draw the curtains! Hurry!” Lucretia demands the slaves while Quintus makes his own demands. She notices one slave standing uselessly, staring at all of the blood and she reaches over and slaps her across the face. “Move!” she demands and the girl holds her cheek and bows her head.

“Y-yes, Domina.” She says and quickly helps the others with the curtains. 

Calavius walks in as Quintus is running a cloth of his blood stained hands.

“Magistrate, you call upon me at unexpected hour.”

“Drawn by matters that won’t wait until dawn.” Calavius responds as he takes notice of Quintus’s bloodied hands. “What new offense is this?” he asks with mild disgust.

“Ohh, nothing. Just a disobedient slave. Freshly corrected.” Quintus responds.

“I have just returned from the promised reunion with Ovidius’s son and would have words with a man seen in your house.” Both Lucretia and Quintus fill with dread. Calavius continues, “The messenger. The child was not seen on any road…returning to the city, we had news his body was discovered among the ashes of my cousin’s villa.”

A pit falls deep within Lucretia’s stomach at the horror she just witnessed and it was all for nothing.  “The messenger lied?” she said in disbelief. She and Quintus share a look.

“Every effort will be exhausted until the villain is discovered. “ Quintus reassures.

Calavius nods his approval. “Very well. See to it that he is punished severely when found.” He says and turns to his guards. “Let us go, I’m sure Batiatus has certain matters he needs to attend to.” The men follow him out of the doors and Quintus’s guards close the doors behind them.

Quintus stands there silently, fists clutched at his sides. “Fuck!” he suddenly screams out.

“Quintus, you’ve made a horrible mistake...” Lucretia says shakily.

“Don’t you think I know that?!” he shouts at her.

She grows angrier at the volume of his voice. “Did you even give him a chance to explain himself?!”

“Of course I did! His and Pietros stories did not align together!” he says as he rubs a hand down his face. “For fucks sake, get this shit cleaned up!” he orders the slaves.

“Dominus.” They all reply as they get back to work.

“I don’t want to hear another word of this, Lucretia. A mistake was made and no one can know what happened, save for the people in this room.” He says pointing a finger at her. “It’s done.” He walks away before she can retort as she stands there fuming, watching the slaves clean Barca’s blood off the floor.

 

The following morning, Quintus prepares for the arrival of Spartacus’s wife. Lucretia is not happy about it all.

“Quintus, this will only serve as a reminder for his previous life and he will return to the animal he was. Why can’t you see that?”

“I gave him my word, Lucretia. My word that I would see him reunited with his wife.” Quintus replies with a mischievous gleam in his eye. Lucretia looks questioningly at him as he turns away to walk to the ludus below. The gates open as the carriage that carries Spartacus’s wife, Sura, arrives. Quintus walks to the carriage to greet the driver and converses with the man. Spartacus begins walking towards them when he notices the driver is bleeding and breathing painfully.

“They came out of nowhere…on the road. They attacked…they attacked on the road.” He breathes out. 

Anxiety immediately courses through Spartacus’s veins at the news and he quickly walks to the back of the carriage, fearing what he may see. He opens the door and Sura spills out from the back, fatally wounded. Blood covers almost every inch of her skin and Spartacus is speechless as he pulls her out of the carriage and cradles her in his arms. Naevia gasps in shock and Lucretia is speechless.  She looks on as Sura dies in Spartacus’s arms and he begins to weep over her lifeless body. She is disgusted with herself for part of her genuinely feels sorry for him and yet the other part, the part she desperately wants to get away from, enjoys seeing him so broken.

Quintus pats Spartacus on the shoulder as he walks by and stands next to Lucretia for a moment. He looks on at the grieving man and smirks.

“My word is kept. They’re reunited.” He says smugly before walking away. Lucretia stares after him in shock and horror.

He is becoming a monster before my very eyes…..if he is a monster; does that make me one as well? She thinks as she turns back to watch as some of the men being walking towards Spartacus to help with his wife.

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART  

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show. 

################################################################################# 

CHAPTER SEVEN: BACK TO THE LIVING  

They hold a funeral for Sura later that night. Lucretia and Quintus look on from the balcony as Spartacus carries Sura to the pyre. Lucretia is dressed in all black and she can't help but to think that there is a possibility that she could be wearing the very same clothing soon if Crixus doesn't pull through. Her thoughts are somber as Spartacus lights the pyre, sending his wife to the afterlife.  

Later, Lucretia walks towards Quintus's office, holding a burning candle to light her way. She stands outside the entrance and overhears the conversation Quintus has with the carriage driver. Quintus pays the man for his part in Sura's death. He passes Lucretia on his way out of the office and she makes her presence known.  

"So great an expense to have her delivered all but dead." She states as she steps into the room. Quintus looks up at her. "You could have easily told Spartacus that she perished abroad." 

"He wouldn't have believed her to be gone unless his own eyes told him it was so. It was the only course." Quintus says in reply.  

"One of which you could have told me you were undertaking." 

Quintus sighs in frustration. "Can we not do this now, Lucretia? The day has made me weary and I would not have argument make it worse." Lucretia opens her mouth to retort before she closes it and nods her head.  

Quintus briefly smiles at her. "Good. We should ready ourselves for bed." He says as he grabs her hand and leads her out of the office. 

Oenomaus walk to the medicus's room to check in on Crixus. He takes note of his injuries and sees that his recovery will take time. He exits the room and starts his walk back towards his cell when Pietros walks up to him. 

"A word, Doctore."  

"Pietros." 

Pietros sighs unhappily. "The birds, left in Barca's cell...what should I do with them?" 

"Whatever you wish." He replies.  

"He said we would release them once we gained our freedom."  

Oenomaus is caught off guard by this piece of information. "He intended yours as well?" 

Pietros nods., tears welling up in his eyes. "That was his purpose in speaking with our Dominus. Ashur said the price was too steep for us both.  

"Ashur?" Oenomaus says with confusion.  

"He helped negotiate the sum. Would it be ok if I kept the birds?" 

"It would not cause notice."  

"Thank you, Doctore." Pietros says before turning away to go to retrieve the birds. He grabs them and carries them to his cell and takes one out of its cage and sits on his bed. He begins to cry as he softly strokes the bird's feathers. Suddenly, his cell door swings open and Gnaeus walks in with a smirk on his face. Pietros knows what is about to happen to him and is helpless to stop it. He does nothing as Gnaeus closes the door behind him and starts walking towards him, his eyes swimming with lust.  

Morning arrives, and Lucretia is walking with Quintus through the villa as he oversees the repairs they are they are having made to the villa.   

"Ahh, it won't be long before our house is finally livable again. We are going to aim for the heavens! The Palace of Batiatus!" He says excitedly. Lucretia is lost in her thoughts about Crixus as Quintus continues to ramble on. "Where dignitaries kneel to suck the cock of my good fortune!" He laughs and looks at Lucretia, noticing the far away look on her face and realizes that she didn't hear a word he said. He frowns as he stops walking and touches her arm to get her attention.  

"Are you alright? You haven't been very talkative this morning." He asks, his brows furrowed in concern.  

Lucretia manages a small smile. "I'm fine, Quintus. Just a little tired is all." Her smiles falls when she sees Naevia and the medicus walking towards them, dread beginning to consume her as her heart starts beating rapidly. "Crixus?" She questions.  

"Yes. He is awake." The medicus informs. It takes all of her self control not to immediately run to the medicus's room at the news.  

"That is wonderful news. Shall we go see how he fares, Quintus?" She says calmly as she looks at Quintus.  

"Let us go." Quintus says and waves his hand to signal the medicus to lead the way. Naevia falls behind the group to follow behind Lucretia. Lucretia is a bundle of nerves as they get closer to the medicus's room.  She has been praying to the Gods every night since Crixus got hurt and it looks like they were answered.  They turn the corner and enter the room and she has to stop herself from crying out with joy at finally seeing him awake. He is struggling to sit up and the medicus tells him to lie down. 

"Best heed the advice." Quintus advises as he looks over his injuries, calculating if he would still be able to fight for him. Lucretia also looks over his injuries, noticing how pale he is; his lips have no color to them.  

"When will I fight again?" Crixus croaks out. 

"When will I fight again, he says. Worry of nothing but recovery. The crowd will once again cheer the name Crixus." Quintus says and snaps his fingers at the medicus. "A word." As soon as the men leave the room, Lucretia quickly grabs his hand and squeezes it tightly as she leans down and presses her lips to his. A tear falls down her pale cheek and lands on his as she pulls back slightly so she can look into his eyes and she lets out a shaky breath as she smiles at him.  

He smiles weakly back at her. "You are a sight for sore eyes." 

She chuckles as she presses a kiss to his knuckles. "As are you. Even though I haven't been able to be at your side, I want you to know I thought of you constantly." She can hear the conversation of the men nearing completion and whispers, " I will send Naevia often to attend your needs." She quickly wipes the tears from her face and takes a deep breath. "Rest now and worry for nothing." She quickly releases his hand and steps away from him just as the medicus walks back into the room. Quintus pokes his head through the door and tilts his head, signaling her to follow.  She gives one last look at Crixus before following Quintus from the room. Naevia lingers for a moment, throwing him a small smile.  

"Gratitude." Crixus says to her just before she leaves.  

Several days have passed, and Crixus is still bedridden. He lies awake this night, many thoughts plaguing his mind, Lucretia among them. He is worried about what will happen if he can no longer fight.  His thoughts are interrupted as Oenomaus walks into the room. 

"Crixus..you live! My prayers, answered." He says happily.  

"I would have more prayers to return me to the sands to be by the men." Crixus says with a chuckle.  

"I thought as much. Ease your mind, Crixus. For you will soon be back to the sands and join your brothers." Oenomaus replies.  

Crixus's smile falters. "Brothers? Brothers yet none have come to see me. Not even Barca...." He says with disappointment.  He notices the look on Oenomaus's face and begins to worry. "Has he fallen in the arena?" 

Oenomaus sighs. " Far the opposite. He has purchased his freedom." 

Crixus sighs heavily. "So, he actually did it then?"  

"You knew of this?" Oenomaus asks with surprise.  

He nods weakly. " I didn't know if he would go through with it. What is Barca if not a gladiator? The giant fuck tending goats and picking vegetables with Pietros his ever doting wife?" He says chuckling.  

"He left the boy." Oenomaus informs him.  

Crixus immediately stops laughing, a pit of dread forming in his stomach. "He sooner part with his cock!" 

"The news found me surprised also." Oenomaus agrees.  

Crixus starts shaking his head. "Something happened." 

Oenomaus sighs. "Crixus, you can't go making accusation--" 

Crixus interrupts him. " He would never leave him here! What of the birds? Did he take them?" He inquires as he struggles to sit up. 

"….they were left behind as well." 

Crixus scoffs. "That should be all you need to see that something is amiss!" He says as he continues to struggle. Oenomaus pushes him back down. 

"Rest your mind. We will get to the bottom of this, but privately. For now, worry about recovering. I will soon see you with a sword in your hand." Oenomaus says with a small smile.  

Crixus nods his agreement and Oenomaus walks out of the room. He exhales roughly as he rubs a hand down his face. " I have awoken to a world of shit..." He mumbles to himself.  

Morning comes and Lucretia unfortunately has to entertain Illithya much to her vexation. Naevia finishes helping her get ready for the day with the finishing touches to her blonde wig. She straightens out the blue dress she decided to wear and sighs in annoyance. "Shall we go grace the Cunt of Rome with our presence?" Naevia giggles and follows Lucretia out of the bedroom just as the doors to the villa open and Illithya walks in, her slaves following behind her.  

"Lucretia, dear! It's been far too long." She says and walks to Lucretia and throws her arms around her. Lucretia's eyes widen in surprise as she makes a face at Naevia over Illithya's shoulder, causing Naevia to have to refrain from giggling. Lucretia smiles and Illithya pulls back and holds her by the shoulders. "We have so much catching up to do."  

Lucretia feigns excitement. "Indeed we do! Let us sit and enjoy wine." She says as they move to share a large lounge chair, each sitting on the opposite end. Naevia hands them both a cup of wine and places bowls of fruit on the tables next to the chair. Illithya takes a long drink from her cup. 

"Rome is positively aflutter with news of Theokoles' defeat. No one could believe such a thing was possible, especially at the hands of a Thracian." She says as she pops a grape into her mouth. "How fares Crixus?" She suddenly asks.  

Lucretia stops mid bite from her food. "Crixus?" 

"His injuries suffered against Theokoles. Is he expected to live?" 

She sets her jaw as she replies, "His strength returns." 

"Joyous news!" Illithya exclaims. "It would be a great tragedy to see such a man pass from this world, would it not?" 

"It would." Lucretia agrees. 

"Pity he will not take the sands in good Mercato's games. I long to see his sword thrust home." She says longingly. Lucretia says nothing as she takes a drink of wine and shares a look with Naevia.  

Spartacus and Varro are eating breakfast down in the ludus and Varro notices something strange. "It would seem Pietros has lost control of his flock." He says with a frown. Spartacus turns his head, puzzled that Pietros would let the birds roam like this. He and Varro decide to go check on him. They walk down the hall towards Pietros's cell and call out to him. 

"Pietros?" Spartacus calls out. They arrive at his cell and Spartacus is filled with sadness and rage at what they find. Pietros limp body hanging from a bar on the ceiling, a rope tied around his neck.  

"The boy has freed himself." Varro says sadly. Spartacus marches out of the room, his purpose set in his mind and fury leading him back to the grounds where the men are training. He immediately spots Gnaeus. Gnaeus has just kicked his opponent to the ground. 

"Gnaeus!" Spartacus shouts to get his attention and immediately charges at him, knocking him to the ground. He punches him repeatedly in the face, anger fueling the power behind his blows.  

"Enough!" Oenomaus shouts, distracting Spartacus enough to where Gnaeus punches him hard in the face and rolls away from him. Both men stand to their feet and glare at one another, trying to catch their breath. Spartacus can taste the blood pooling in his mouth from his split lip and blood drips from Gnaeus's broken nose. " What is the meaning of this foolishness?!" 

Spartacus spits out a mouthful of blood. "Pietros." he says, breathing heavily. "The boy took his own life." Oenomaus grows solemn at this news and says nothing as Spartacus begins to walk past Gnaeus.  

Gnaeus begins chuckling. " He will be missed..." Spartacus stops in his tracks. "Especially his lips around my cock." Gnaeus says with a cruel smirk.  Spartacus sees nothing but red as he turns and grabs Gnaeus by the throat and shoves him over the side of the cliff. The men stand in shock as Gnaeus's screams pierce the air until a loud splat sounds and everything goes quiet.  

Crixus is attempting to nap when he hears a commotion outside the medicus's room. He sits up slightly to see what is going on as guards bring a body into the room and lays them on the other table. As soon as they part, Crixus's heart feels like it dropped to his stomach. It's Pietros.  

What the fuck is going on? Barca is gone and Pietros ends his life. I have to find out what happened to Barca... Crixus thinks to himself. Spartacus walks into the room, escorted by a guard, to get the cut on his head patched up. He and Crixus watch one another as he walks to the table and sits down on the edge.  

Crixus notices Spartacus's battered face and scoffs. "Have you been making friends again?" 

"Gnaeus. A disagreement." He responds while the medicus begins tending to the wound. 

"And you emerged the battered cunt. Did his tiny net prove too fierce an opponent?"  

"Ask the man himself. If you can scrape enough of him off the cliff for reply. " 

Crixus is stunned. "Gnaeus is dead? What reason did you have to take his life?" 

"My reasoning lies forever silent." Spartacus says as he turns to look at Pietros.  

"What did he do?" Crixus asks.  

"He beat and raped the boy ever since Barca left." Silence stretches between them as Crixus turns to his thoughts.  

I may not personally like the man, but he has my respect. At least  Pietros  had someone to defend him...  

The day of the games have arrived and Quintus walks into the bedroom to fetch Lucretia so they can leave but he sees that she isn't properly dressed. "Lucretia, what are you doing? We must leave so we can make it to the arena before the games start." 

"Apologies, Quintus. I'm not feeling very well and I don't think I can accompany you today." 

Quintus sighs. "You do remember that Illithya will be there, right? What am I to do about that?" 

"You can make sure she is still properly entertained. After all, we still need to keep favor with her. Send my apologies to her for my absence." 

Quintus frowns. "Very well." He says as he walks to her and bends down to place a kiss on her forehead. "May you feel better soon, my love. Rest now." He instructs as he caresses her cheek. She gives him a small smile as she places her hand on top of his and squeezes it gently. He smiles at her before exiting the room and Lucretia waits to make sure he is gone before turning to Naevia with a smile on her face.  

"I can't believe that worked!" She exclaims. Naevia just smiles at her. Lucretia sighs happily. "I'm going to go visit Crixus for a while." She says as she stands. 

"What do you want me to do, Domina?" Naevia asks unsure. "All the men and medicus have gone to the games  so I cannot visit with Tyronius."   

Lucretia studies her for a moment before speaking. "Why don't you relax a little?" 

Naevia is thrown off guard by the suggestion. She lets out a nervous chuckle. "Um, any thoughts on how I should?" 

"You can draw a bath and soak for a while. Lounge around or nap for a while. I think you have earned it." 

"I don't know what to say, Domina....much gratitude is given for your generosity." Naevia smiles and Lucretia smiles back. 

"The only thing I ask is that you do not get caught by anyone with higher standing and you warn me of Quintus's return." 

"Yes, Domina." 

"Enjoy your relaxation." Lucretia says as she walks off. 

Crixus is in a sullen mood, upset that he isn't taking part in the games.  He can't wait until he can get on his feet again. His thoughts are interrupted when he hears footsteps coming down the hall and turns his head towards the door. The door slowly creaks open and Lucretia walks in and gently closes the door behind her. His mood instantly lightens at the sight of her and he smiles. 

"Shouldn't you be at the games?" He asks as she walks towards him with a grin. 

"I should, but I felt ill and just could not bear to go." She says as she comes to a stop beside him.  

"Here, I'll move over some and you can lie here with me." 

"No, we shouldn't do that! There is barely enough room as is. I don't want to hurt you." 

"I can handle it. Just lie down." 

"Fine." She relents as he moves over and she scoots in beside him. She takes care not to lay completely against him for fear of disturbing his wounds. They say nothing as they gaze into each other's eyes; each lost in their own thoughts.  

Should I ask what happened to Barca? Of course I should ....well , maybe I shouldn't. I don't want to upset her. I just need to know what happened to my friend...  

I should tell him what happened to Barca. I'm scared of how he will react ....I  don't want him to hate me.   

Crixus sighs deeply. "Lucretia....would happened to Barca?" He fills her stiffen in his arms. Tension fills the air as she remains silent. He is about to ask her again when she suddenly speaks; her voice barely above a whisper. 

"Quintus thought.....he thought Barca had betrayed him." Dread begins to settle in the pit of his stomach.  

"Barca would never do that." 

"Quintus discovered that after it was too late...." She says as tears begin to fill her eyes. 

"What did he do?" Crixus asks. She is silent once more. "What did he do to him, Lucretia?" 

Her face crumbles as she starts to cry. " I don't want you to hate me." 

"Just tell me!" He says, desperate for an answer.   

"He had the guards attack him...he fought well, until he was stabbed by one of the guards. They just...just kept stabbing him." She says shakily. "He...he um..managed to crawl away before Quintus followed after him. He....he slit his throat." Crixus is stunned into silence. "I've never seen so much blood..." She sniffs as more tears fall down her cheeks. "Please don't hate me. I didn't know of his plan, I promise!" She begs, looking into his eyes.  

He kisses the top of her head. "I could never hate you." He whispers as sadness grips his heart. " I knew something happened the moment I found out Pietros was still here." 

"I wish it never happened...he did not deserve that fate." 

"You're right...." Crixus says as his mind and heart grow darker towards his Dominus. "He didn't." They don't say anything the rest of the time they are together. Lucretia dozes off in his arms and he lies awake, thoughts running through his mind of what he learned.  

I cannot fucking believe this ....Barca  did nothing to deserve this. He was nothing but loyal to that bastard. He will get what is coming to him one day...I swear to the Gods that he will.

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART  

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show. 

################################################################################# 

CHAPTER EIGHT: PROVE YOUR WORTH  (PART ONE)  

Lucretia absentmindedly drums her fingers on the side of her chair as she watches the game down below. She wishes she were with Crixus instead of the arena, watching Spartacus fight yet again. It has been three weeks since she last saw Crixus and from Naevia's word, he has grown strong enough to move around on his own. She sighs as she glances at the people around her, getting lost in her thoughts.  

I wonder what Crixus is doing? I miss him so much.... Her thoughts trail off as she sees Solonius and Illithya whispering to each other; Illithya laughing at something he said. She frowns and rolls her eyes. 

Do the Gods truly hate me? I have to deal with her mindless chatter and his disgusting gaze upon my body she thinks as she catches him trailing his eyes over her and she glares at him. Quintus jumps from his seat in excitement as Spartacus cuts off the arms of his opponent. The crowd cheers madly at his victory.  

"It's a marvel Solonius has any men left." Quintus says laughing. 

"Must the Thracian appear in every primus?" Illithya huffs. 

"They have no one else of note." Solonius sneers as he stands. 

"Crixus will return to glory presently." Lucretia insists. 

Solonius rolls his eyes. "As you say." He says as he exits the balcony. Illithya stands to take her leave as well. 

"A welcome addition. I grow tired of this Thracian and his victories." She snidely remarks as she turns to leave.  

"I purchase a fresh batch of slaves at the auction tomorrow, to be trained as gladiators." Quintus says and Illithya stops in her tracks. "We would be honored if you would grace us at the unveiling."  

Illithya gives Quintus her full attention. "What sort of beasts shall you procure?" She asks with interest.  

Quintus smiles at her. "Only the most ferocious, to be displayed for your pleasure." 

Iliithya claps her hands together with joy. "Wonderful!" She says with a lust filled smile.  

 

Quintus is away at the auction while Lucretia stays behind at the villa. She plays with a tendril of her hair as she paces with excitement in her bedroom. She is finally able to see Crixus for the first time in weeks. She straightens out the black dress she is wearing, the sheer material revealing her smooth, pale skin in various areas. She stops in front of a mirror and fluffs her hair and runs her hand over her opal necklace. She pauses when she hears the door close gently and her heartrate accelerates as she slowly turns around to see Crixus standing in the room with a smile on his face. Her face lights up with a large smile as she runs to him. 

"Crixus!" She exclaims as she wraps around him in a fierce embrace, nearly bowling him over in her excitement and he grunts in pain. She quickly releases him. "Apologies!" Crixus holds his side as he chuckles.  

"I've missed you too, my love. My wounds have not yet fully healed. Apologies for not being able to withstand your embrace."  

"Shhh" she says as she places a finger against his lips. "You will recover and all will be as it was." He kisses her finger and gently pulls her to him and slowly wraps his arms around her, her head resting beneath his chin as he holds her.  

"Oh, how I've missed you, Lucretia." He breathes into her hair, taking in her scent.  

She sighs deeply in content. "All of my thoughts have been consumed by you, Crixus."  

"The thought of you got me through each day." He responds as he pulls back and runs his hand through her curly red hair. "I favor this style on you." He says with a smile.  

"Really?" She smiles back. "I thought I would try something new."  

"It suites you." He compliments as he moves to cup her cheek and slowly leans in to press his lips gently against hers. He deepens the kiss and she moves her arms to wrap around his neck as their embrace grows more passionate. He pulls away after a moment. "Mustn't get too carried away." He says with a chuckle.  

She can feel his hardened cock against her leg and she giggles. "I can't wait for you to finish recovering." She says as she lightly strokes his erection.  

He groans in pleasure. "You tease!" He laughs. 

She laughs along with him as she backs away to let him compose himself. "Quintus shall be gone for a while longer at the auction. Care to lie down?" She offers.  

"I'd love nothing more than to hold you." She grabs his hand and leads him to the bed and they arrange themselves so they are facing one another, his arms wrapped around her and their foreheads touching.  As he looks into her crystal, blue eyes he can tell that she has something on her mind. He waits a moment to see if she will speak, but she doesn't say anything as she continues to look at him. "What is it, Lucretia?" 

"It's nothing." She says as she looks away.  

"Speak your mind. You know you can tell me anything." She sighs before she looks at him again. 

"You didn't say much after I told you about Barca...."  

"What can I say about it?" He says as he turns his head away. 

"Anything you wish..." She whispers as she cups his cheek and turns his head back to face her.  

"My thoughts grow dark, Lucretia....thoughts I cannot give voice to." 

"Yes, you can." She says as she rubs her thumb across his cheek.  

"He should pay for what he did. Barca did not deserve the death given to him...and all for a lie." She is silent as he continues. " What if a lie is whispered into his ear about me? What then? Shall he dispose of me the same way, like I am nothing?" 

"No!" She whispers fiercely. "I would never allow it!" 

"Lucretia, we both know that if he wanted it done, so it shall be." 

"I would find a way. Even if it meant exposing us, I would never let you die, Crixus. Not unless I were to follow you in death." He grabs her hand and places a kiss to it. 

"I love you." She smiles softly at him. 

"I love you too. You know, we haven't really talked about you nearly losing your life." 

"I know." He replies. 

"I really thought I was going to lose you......the moment that beast struck you in the back." She chokes out as her eyes fill with tears. "You looked up to me.... and I felt like you were saying goodbye." She whispers as a tear falls down her cheek. He gently wipes it away and kisses her cheek. 

"I was...I wanted the last thing I saw to be your eyes." He says as he blinks rapidly to rid himself of tears. "I just knew I was going to die..my life flashed before my eyes and all I could think about was you. The last thing I can remember in the arena was the sound of your sweet laughter....it is one of my favorite sounds." He wraps his arms around her as she tucks her head underneath his chin and he holds her tightly to him.  

"I'm tired." She says sleepily.  

"Then rest your eyes." He replies with his eyes closed.  

A while later, Naevia gently raps on the door and doesn't get a response. She quietly opens the door to see them sleeping in a tight embrace and she hates to wake them. She walks over to the bed and places a hand on Lucretia's shoulder and slightly shakes her. 

"Domina..." She whispers. Lucretia still does not stir from sleep. She shakes her a bit harder. "Domina wake up." Lucretia's eyes slowly open as she blinks the sleep from her eyes. She turns her head and gives Naevia a questioning look. "Forgive me for waking you, but Dominus has just returned from the market." 

Lucretia's eyes grow wide. "Shit!" She says as she quickly sits up, jostling Crixus awake. He blinks his eyes open sleepily. "Crixus, get up! Quintus is back!" 

"Fuck!" He exclaims as he gets up as quickly as he can. Lucretia stands from the bed and he grabs her face and kisses her passionately.  

She pulls away and says breathily "I will see you as soon as I am able. Make sure to get more rest." She pulls his head back down to meet her lips; lips parting to give access to her mouth.  

"I love you." He says as he pulls his head away and leans his forehead against hers.  

"You must go, Crixus! Quickly!" She exclaims as neither of them make a move to release one another.  

"I'll see you soon." He says as he finally releases her and he and Naevia quickly exit the room. Lucretia looks around for a moment before she decides what she wants to wear and prepares herself without Naevia for Illithya's arrival.  

Lucretia and Quintus stand together by the entrance of the villa, awaiting Illithya's arrival. "How did you fare at the auction?" She asks.  

Quintus merely smirks. "You shall see." He says as the doors to the villa swing open. Lucretia shoots him a questioning glance as Illithya strides into the villa.  

"Fetch me some water." She instructs her slave and turns to Lucretia. " Lucretia!" She says happily as she opens her arms and pulls her into an embrace. "I'm rather excited about what beasts Quintus secured in auction. "she says as she releases Lucretia from her embrace. She takes the cup of water from her slave as they hand it to her.  

"Shall we see to the new men?" Lucretia asks and Illithya nods excitedly as the three of them walk out to the balcony. The gladiators line up beneath the balcony while the recruits enter through the gate, the gladiators shouting obscenities at them as they pass. Lucretia frowns as she counts how many men walk through the gates. 

Six?! He bought six men? Just how much coin did he spend at the auction? Lucretia seethes as the recruits line up to face the balcony. Quintus addresses them, letting them know that they could become more than just a common slave but they have to prove their worth. He finishes and Oenomaus begins speaking to them.  

Quintus walks over to Illithya and Lucretia. "What do you make of the new men?" He asks Illithya. 

"They are spectacles." She says with barely contained excitement. "I find myself growing quite fond of this sordid business of gladiators."   

"Perhaps you should consider purchasing one of your own." Lucretia suggests. You'll have your very own gladiator to fuck and maybe you'll leave Crixus alone she thinks to herself.  

"I could never!" Illithya laughs. "Could I?" She asks as she looks at Quintus.  

"Choose a recruit and he is yours for a fee. Just to cover his upkeep and training." Quintus replies.  

Illithya giggles in merriment. "Who should I choose?" She asks as she glances over her options.  

"May I offer a suggestion to aid your dilemma?" Quintus offers to her and she nods her acceptance. "Doctore!" Quintus shouts, getting Oenomaus's attention. "Our honored guest would like to access the recruits' virtues." All the gladiators begin laughing and the recruits are confused.  

Oenomaus cracks his whip and they become silent. "Remove your cloths!" He orders the recruits. They look unsure but do as they are told, each cloth dropping to the sand, one by one. The gladiators start laughing again as the men stand completely bare. Illithya gasps as she sees all they have to offer. Her gaze falls upon one man in particular, who is very large in size. 

"The one on the left..." She says as she chooses him. Quintus nods his approval. 

"Segovax, a Gaul. He is a fine specimen."  

Illithya beams in happiness. "We must celebrate!" She says to Lucretia as she throws her arms around her in a celebratory embrace. Lucretia keeps her arms at her sides but smiles when Illithya pulls back to look at her before she scampers off inside the villa to get wine.  

Lucretia moves to follow after her but Quintus holds her back and pulls her to him to give her a swift kiss on the lips. "You are brilliant to suggest the purchase of a slave." She just smiles at him as she walks away to join Illithya inside the villa.  

 She and Illithya decide to get massages while they drink wine to celebrate Illithya's purchase. "A slave of my very own! Mined from the same lands as Crixus!" Illithya gushes. Lucretia frowns as she hears his name escape her lips, yet again. She cannot help the anger that festers inside of her anytime she hears it. "The envy of my friends shall spread like locusts! Their hearts devoured."  

Lucretia takes a sip of wine. "Who would you torture so?" She inquires.  

Illithya smirks. "Caecila, Aemilia, Licinia." 

"Licinia? The cousin of Marcus Crassus?" Lucretia asks. 

"The wealthiest man in Rome, according to him at least. Licinia in particular enjoys the games. More so the beasts who battle within them" 

"You must make invitation for a private introduction to your man Segovax here at the villa." Lucretia suggests.  

Illithya scoffs. "Um, these are proper Roman women. They only mingle with families of equal standing."  

Lucretia fumes internally at the quick dismissal. "Perhaps it's for the best then." She says trying not to sound irritated. "Seeing your man will only elevate their envy." She says as she slyly looks at Illithya.  

Illithya looks back at her as a smirk slowly stretches across her face. "I will arrange it then! I will even help you with your hair! We have to make you look suitable for such elevated company." Lucretia stares blankly at her. I could care less what people think of me, you vapid bitch. She hides her frown with her cup as she takes a sip of wine. 

After Illithya leaves, Lucretia looks for Quintus and finds him, along with Ashur, in his office counting coin and updating records. They are talking amongst themselves and don't notice her standing there.  

"You know that the amount of coin spent on the new recruits far outweigh their value?" Ashur suddenly says. "Oenomaus was correct in his observation." 

"That may be, but I would spend any amount of coin to humiliate that shitbag, Solonius." 

Ashur looks up and makes eye contact with her. Quintus still doesn't notice her. "But one hundred denarii?" He says and Lucretia instantly flushes with anger, red blossoming her pale skin. Ashur sweeps his eyes hungrily over her body and she recoils at his gaze. 

"Worth every coin." Quintus replies. She decides to make her presence known. 

"Was it?" She says as she fully steps into the room. Quintus gives Ashur a dismissing glance with a nod of his head.  

Ashur smirks. "Dominus." He says as he happily walks out of the room.  

"It was. I would see that he never buy another slave again. He deserves worse for his attempt on my life." 

"You spent one hundred denarii on men who aren't even worth half of that! Yet, I get shit on about buying jewelry." 

"That was before we had enough coin to afford it, Lucretia!" He says with irritation.  

"So, now we can just blow through coin as if we have an endless supply?" She retorts. 

"What I do with coin is none of your concern!" He responds. "Now, enough of this. I need to see to the records." He huffs with impatience. Lucretia clenches her jaw and says nothing as she turns and marches out of the room.  

Crixus paces angrily in the medicus's room, while Oenomaus waits patiently for his outburst to be over. "I'm telling you, I am ready to return to the sands!" Crixus insists.  

"And I have told you that you are not ready. The medicus has not yet cleared you for that level of activity." 

"If you would just let me prove myself---" he counters. 

Oenomaus interrupts him. "I'm not doubting your abilities, Crixus. What if you were to tear your wounds back open? Your recovery would take even longer. All I'm asking is that you be patient." 

Crixus sighs in defeat. "Fine. I will do as you say...for now."  

Oenoamus smiles briefly at him. "Gratitude. The men should be finished with their break, I need to see to their training." He says as he exits the room, leaving an irritated Crixus behind.  

Quintus and Ashur are walking amongst the villa and Quintus pulls out the list the medicus gave him of the herbs he will need to aid Crixus in his recovery. He hands the list to Ashur and he quickly scans it, noting there are several high priced items on the list. "Substantial list requiring a substantial amount of coin." He says.  

"Too many days have passed without progress. I would see the highest quality purchased." Quintus responds as they continue to walk. A thought crosses Ashur's mind.  

"When Doctore suffered wounds from Theokoles, did they require equal time in healing?" He asks. 

"Considerably less." Quintus responds. 

"There might be a blessing hidden among such a curse. Talk about Crixus's recovery has not left the walls...yet." 

Quintus ponders this for a moment. "Your meaning?" 

"Sell him. Inquiries for his purchase can be made in a delicate fashion. My visit to the market could serve dual purposes." They stop near where Lucretia and Naevia stand; they are looking at different fabrics and Lucretia is trying to decide on which she would like for her next dress. They stop as they hear the conversation of the men.  

Ashur can feel that Quintus is not really taken with the idea of selling Crixus and pushes for him to accept the idea. " Yesterday, I witnessed the hatred Crixus cultivates towards Spartacus grow beyond measure." He lies. The women look to each other with worry. Ashur continues, "If in his mad passion, Crixus were to make attempt on Spartacus's life.." 

 

Quintus nods his head in thought. "Word of Crixus's stunted recovery must not spread. I only wish to discover his current value." 

Lucretia's heart stutters in her chest, fear gripping her heart like a vice. "You would sell Crixus?" She interrupts. Quintus nods his head at Ashur to dismiss him and he leaves with a bow of his head.  

"I would explore all avenues of reason." He responds as starts to walk away. 

Lucretia follows after him. "Which has flown if you consider such a thing!" He spins around to face her. "Crixus will fight again!" She urgently insists.  

"But will he ever be the man he was?" He asks with a mocking tone and she feels as though she has been slapped in the face.  

"Well, if you would give him time to heal, Quintus, he will be!" She says in exasperation. 

"If he doesn't appear as a God to the crowds, as we have presented him as such, he loses his worth." 

"Then, we will find worth in another role! He could work beside you." 

Quintus barks out a laugh. "Crixus has no head for numbers! The sword is his only purpose!" 

Lucretia starts losing her grip on her anger. "That Syrian fuck was also once on the sands and yet here he is beside you! Which, I have to ask, why is he dressed as he is? Those are not the clothes of a slave."  

"Ashur is different, Lucretia! He has helped keep track of our numbers and records for years. I have granted him the role of an advisor of sorts...he now has a place inside the villa." Quintus informs.  

Lucretia's mouth falls open in disbelief. "Have you lost your mind?!" She shrieks. "Why would you allow him this? What has he done to earn such a right?" 

Quintus is beginning to turn red in anger. "He has done far more than you know! You know, I''m beginning to tire of you constantly questioning the decisions I make for this house. I would advise you to heed the warning.." He says angrily and turns to walk away from the conversation.  

"Crixus is part of the family, Quintus!" She shouts after him and he stops in his tracks. He turns around and marches towards her. 

"He is a fucking slave!" He shouts in her face. "This house, this family, is a business, Lucretia! As much regret results from selling a gladiator like Crixus, when the time arrives and it fucking will for them all, it's a necessity that must be swallowed!" Lucretia stands there with her mouth slightly agape and her eyes are wide, as a single tear travels down her cheek. Quintus sighs heavily as he reaches out and pulls her into an embrace. " I do not mean to yell at you, my love. You must not get attached to the slaves for this very reason. They are replaceable." He says as he pulls away and strokes her cheek lovingly, while she feels anything but love. She sniffs as he places a tender kiss on her forehead before walking away.  

Naevia, who has heard everything, slowly walks up to Lucretia, her face filled with worry.  

"Naevia." Lucretia says quietly. 

"Yes, Domina?"  

"Please warn him for me." She requests before walking away, making her way to the bedroom to be alone with her thoughts. Naevia quickly travels down to the grounds of the ludus and sees Crixus standing by himself through the bars, watching the men train.  

"Crixus!" She whispers loudly. He turns and sees her standing at the bars and he quickly turns back, making sure no one notices them. 

"What are you doing?!" He whispers back earnestly. "Doctore's gaze misses nothing!" He warns and wonders why she is here in the middle of the day.  

"A risk made necessary by unfortunate events!" His mind immediately turns to Lucretia, fearing something is wrong. He quickly walks over to Naevia. 

"Has something happened to Lucretia?" 

"She is fine." Naevia reassures. "She wanted me to tell you that Dominus considers selling you to another master." 

Crixus looks confused. "You have to be mistaken." 

Naevia shakes her head solemnly. "Ashur has gone to the market to purchase herb and to question any interests towards you. We believe this is his doing for he now has station with the Dominus."  

Crixus laughs bitterly. " I wondered where that shit went off to." He sighs heavily. "The glory I have earned this ludus and this is my fucking reward!" He spat.  

"You have to prove to him that your time has not passed!" Naevia encourages him. "I must go now, but you must act swiftly!" She warns as she turns to flee back through the ludus to the villa to go find Lucretia.  

He has lost belief in me...I will change his thoughts and prove I am still able to fight! Crixus thinks as he turns to strut out onto the sands while the men train.  

To be continued......

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART  

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show. 

################################################################################# 

CHAPTER EIGHT: PROVE YOUR WORTH (PART TWO )  

 

Lucretia has composed herself before finding Naevia and they walk together to join Quintus on the balcony as he watches the men train. She sees Crixus walking out onto the sand, his face hard with determination. Crixus walks up to Spartacus and Segovax as they train, his eyes are glinting with a desire to fight.  

Spartacus sighs heavily as he continues to block hits from Segovax. "You are not ready for training." 

Crixus scoffs. "You doubt that I am fully healed? Cause I will show you otherwise." He challenges.  

Spartacus gives him a long look before nodding his head. "Doctore! Crixus offers demonstration to the benefit of the recruits. Shall I indulge?" Oenomaus looks up to the balcony for approval. 

"He believes himself ready?" Quintus says in disbelief.  

"As do I." Lucretia says proudly as Quintus nods his approval. She watches with pride and hope, knowing that Crixus will do his best to prove his worth to Quintus despite his injuries.  

"Segovax, your sword and shield." Oenomaus says as Segovax hands them over to Crixus. "Attend!" He shouts as he cracks his whip and the men begin to clear out and move to the sidelines to give them proper room for a fight.  

Crixus charges Spartacus like a bull and almost landed a heavy blow to his shoulder but Spartacus blocked the hit with his shield.  Crixus takes another swing and Spartacus ducks to avoid taking the hit and continues to block every swing Crixus throws at him. Crixus suddenly swings his shield to hit him in the face and he bends back to avoid it, leaving an opening enough for Crixus to land a punch to his stomach.  

Spartacus recovers quickly and takes a fast swipe at Crixus, who ducks down to avoid being hit. As he ducks, Spartacus is able to sweep his feet from beneath him and he falls hard onto his back. Spartacus slaps him hard on the stomach, directly on his wound, with the back of his sword and he instantly feels a searing pain shot throughout his abdomen and groans in pain. 

C'mon! Get up, Crixus! Get up! Lucretia shouts in her mind as she watches the fight intently.   

Crixus breathes out heavily as he slowly stands to his feet; sweat is profusely dripping down his face at the intense pain he is in and he tries with all his might to brush it off. He takes a deep breath before charging at Spartacus again, swinging his sword with all his might, training to land a blow just once. Spartacus has deflected all of his attempts with his shield. Crixus strikes forward and Spartacus manages to dodge to the side to avoid the blow and immediately elbows Crixus in the face, sending him sprawling to the sand. Some of the recruits chuckle at Crixus, thinking him weak.  

Crixus is only down for a moment before he gets back up on his feet. He briefly glances to the balcony and sees Lucretia looking down on him with pride shining in her eyes. He sucks in a deep breath as he draws his strength from her. 

 Ignore the fucking pain! Succeed for her! He shouts in his mind. 

Spartacus noticed Crixus's brief flicker to the balcony as he begins running towards him. Crixus aims for Spartacus's face and he manages to dodge a few swings. Finally, he manages to hit him in the face while swinging his sword and landing a hit to his stomach at the same time. Spartacus quickly turns the tables in his favor when he grabs Crixus by the arm and hits him in the face twice with the hilt of his sword. He draws back and hits Crixus a third time and it instantly blurs his vision.  

Crixus stumbles backwards but does not fall to the sands. His vision is swimming and he shakes his head to clear it. It clears just in time for him to see Spartacus charging towards him and he side steps out of the way and swings his shield roughly into the side of Spartacus's head; sending him to the ground with a heavy thud. Crixus quickly points his sword at Spartacus's throat and sniffs slightly as blood drips from his nose. Lucretia cannot help the large smile that beams across her face at his success, not caring at all who may take notice.  

"Spartacus! Resume training!" Quintus shouts. 

"Yes, Dominus!" Spartacus replies as he slowly gets back to his feet and nods respectfully at Crixus, who returns the nod. Quintus says nothing as he turns and walks away, much weighing on his mind if he should still sell Crixus or not? After all, he just proved that he can still hold his own in a fight, despite his injuries. Crixus wipes his nose as spits on the ground, trying to get the taste of blood out of his mouth. He looks up to the balcony to a sight that lifts his heart; Lucretia is looking down at him smiling widely. He smiles back and even notices that Naevia smiling at him too and he slightly nods his head in her direction before walking off to the medicus's room.  

 

"You dumb fuck!" The medicus scolds as he inspects Crixus's wounds. Crixus winces as the medicus pokes at one of the wounds and notices Spartacus walking into the room. "You could have reopened these wounds! I told you that you were not fit to train or fight yet!" He slaps some salve on one of the wounds and Crixus lets out a small hiss of discomfort as he does so. 

"Obviously, I was ready enough. I proved I can still fight." The medicus scoffs as he stands and sees Spartacus sitting on the other table. 

"What the fuck do you want?" He says impatiently. Spartacus turns his head to show him the seeping wound in the side of his head. "Neither of you fucking move, I'll return in a moment." He says as he speedily walks out of the room to get more herbs to crush for medicine.  

Once he is gone, Spartacus decides to speak. "You took a great risk deciding to fight." 

Crixus looks back at Spartacus. "One that had to be taken. Looks like the Gods were on my side."  

Spartacus nods in agreement." Indeed, they were. I nearly bested you." Silence fills the rooms as both men grow quiet. A thought enters Spartacus's mind and he voices it, "Is it the love of a woman that made you decide to fight before you were ready?" 

Crixus instantly stiffens and worry floods his body. "I know not of what you speak of. I did this for myself." 

Spartacus chuckles. "You cannot fool me. I see the way you look at her and she at you." 

Fuck! Crixus begins to panic. "I don't know who you are talking about..." 

"The slave girl that stands at Domina's side."  

Thank the Gods Crixus thinks as he nearly sighs in relief. He decides to play along. "How did you know?" He asks.  

"I didn't. Until just now." Both men chuckle as they fall back into silence awaiting the return of the medicus.  

 

Later that evening, Lucretia has just finished giving a tour of the villa to Illithya and her friends when they have settled down on several chairs to dine and grapes and drink wine. The women are chatting mindlessly as Lucretia starts to tune them out and turns towards her own thoughts. She holds a piece of her blonde hair between her fingers as she frowns disdainfully at it before releasing it. 

How I rather liked this color at first but now.... She thinks as she glances at Illithya, who is giggling madly at something Caecila said. By the Gods, these women are fucking horrid! I can hardly stand to be around them. She smiles along with the women to make it seem as though she is paying attention. 

"Lucretia!" Licinia calls out and Lucretia's brow raises in answer. " How do you live among such beasts?" She asks and all the women giggle.  

Lucretia smiles. "My husband sees them well tamed."  

"I pray not fully." Licinia replies with a devilish smirk. She and Lucretia share a chuckle while she gets chastised by Aemilia.  

"Would you not prefer to live in the city surrounded by real people?"Caecilia asks as Naevia moves to refill her cup of wine. Lucretia briefly makes eye contact with her and instantly feels a slight tug of her heart for the slave.  

She pauses a moment before answering, grabbing a strawberry as she speaks. "I find that we are perfectly located. I need only to step out onto my balcony and all of Capua kneels at my feet." She states as she takes a bite of the fruit.  

"Well stated." Licinia agrees and takes a sip of wine. 

"You're not bored? Up here all alone? Nothing but beasts and slaves.." Aemilia asks.  

Lucretia finishes chewing her piece of fruit, swallowing and clears her throat before speaking. " I assure you, I stay quite occupied. Each day brings new opportunity." She takes a quick sip of wine. " Yesterday, in fact, six new recruits began their training. One of whom fights under Illithya's patronage." She mentions casually as she grabs another strawberry.  

The women all gasp in surprise. "Illithya!" Illithya giggles madly. 

"Clauduis gave you approval?" Licinia asks with wide eyes. 

"He does not know." Illithya replies with a smirk and all of them laugh. 

"He will kill you when he finds out!" Caecilia exclaims.  

"And I will kill the first one who tells, Caecilia!" Illithya says in warning.  

Licinia begins twisting a strand of hair around her finger, her lips pursed in thought. "Hmm...a gladiator of you own? May we see him?" She asks excitedly.  

"He's not yet a gladiator. He must first pass the final test before he earns the Mark of Batiatus." Lucretia informs. Licinia's smile droops into a frown. 

"Oh. So, he is just a slave, then?" Caecilia states with disdain.  

"I would see a real gladiator!" Aemilia says excitedly.  

"Yes!" Licinia readily agrees as she takes a drink. "I know....a champion! Bring Spartacus!" She demands. 

Caecilia gasps. "Oh, yes! You must!" She says lustfully.  

Lucretia ponders on if she should decline their request but decides against it. "Very well." She says with a sigh and sends a guard for him. Illithya frowns at her and she shrugs her shoulders. Licinia is beaming from ear to ear with sheer excitement at the prospect of seeing Spartacus up close. The women continue to gossip until the guard returns with Spartacus following behind. He walks until he is standing in the center of the room and all the women, except for Lucretia and Illithya, walk closer to him. Licinia marvels at him with her mouth slightly agape. She begins running her hands slowly up and down his chest.  

"He stands as Mars, ready for war." She says dreamily. "Is there truth to the legends that gladiators share the blood of the Gods?" She inquires. She doesn't wait for an answer. "Are you a blessing, Spartacus?" She asks. 

"To some." He replies. "To others, a curse." He says and looks straight at Illithya and her friends turn to look at her. Illithya smirks at him. 

"Cherished for being a gladiator and despised for being a slave." She says nastily.  

Licinia giggles. "He is not a common slave. I can feel it radiating from his flesh...I have heard tale of a gladiator's blood possessing restorative powers." 

"A few drops of blood in wine is said to make a man hard for days!" Aemilia says lustfully as she gazes at Spartacus.  

"Such are the legends!" Lucretia says with a laugh.  

Licinia purses her lips in thought. "Hmm...well I should test it for myself, if I could?" She asks as she turns to Lucretia for permission. 

Lucretia gives her a small smile. "Certainly. I will send a messenger with a vial." 

"I would have it now." Licinia demands and the room goes silent as the women turn to Lucretia to see her reaction.  

Lucretia raises an eyebrow and holds her tongue for a moment. She lets out a small sigh. "Very well."  

"May I have the honor?" Illithya interrupts as she grabs a knife from the table and begins walking towards Spartacus and Licinia. Tension fills the air and Lucretia swallows thickly, knowing this is a terrible idea. Licinia hands Illithya a vial and she accepts it as she stares at Spartacus. She holds the blade up to his chest and it takes everything not to plunge it deep within his heart. Instead, she presses it hard, maybe harder than necessary, into his skin and holds the vial beneath the cut to catch the blood that falls.  

"Spartacus will die soon.." She says casually as she watches the vial fill with his blood. "To the roar of the crowd." She says as she looks him in the eye.  

"I do not believe he will ever fall in the arena." Licinia gushes. "He is a God among men!" 

Illithya snaps her head towards Licinia. "He is nothing but a Thracian dog!" She snarls. "His treachery dishonored Rome!" 

"It is your husband who bears the dishonor." Spartacus coldly states.  

Oh fuck.  Lucretia thinks to herself. "Guards!"she calls out.  

Spartacus continues as he looks Illithya in the eye. "He abandoned defenseless women and children. Left them to be raped and murdered!" He spat as the guards seize his arms.  

"Get him out of here!" Lucretia orders and they haul him out of the room. Stunned silence fills the room until Caecilia breaks it. 

"What a bold tongue!" She exclaims.  

"Apologies." Lucretia replies, not really feeling sorry at all for she actually agrees with the Thracian for once.  

Suddenly, Illithya turns on Lucretia and cries out, "If he were my slave, I would have him crucified!" Her friends start giggling at her antics and she looks at them in confusion.  

"For what?" Licinia asks. "Speaking the truth? We have all heard the rumors about your husband." Lucretia looks down to hide her grin and Illithya looks at Licinia in shock and rage. Licinia sighs. "The hour grows late and I am expected." She grabs the vial of blood from Illithya's hands.  

Caecilia says to Lucretia as she walks past her, "Gratitude for a most wonderful evening!" 

"One of which begs a repeat soon." Licinia agrees and leans towards Lucretia and places a kiss on her cheek. She doesn't say a word to Illithya as she joins Aemilia and Caecilia and they break out into giggles and begin exiting the villa. Lucretia looks at Illithya and can see her body quivering in rage.  

"Illithya---" 

"May I have words with Segovax before I take my leave?" Illithya asks. 

"Certainly." Lucretia responds as she turns to fetch a guard. She looks at Naevia, who is standing near the corner of the room, and smiles at her; she is happy with the outcome of the night. 

 

Illithya has left for the night and Lucretia and Quintus settle down for dinner. They are nearly finished with the course when Lucretia decides to approach the subject of selling Crixus.  

"Have you any offers on Crixus?" She inquires; her eyes downcast at her plate of food as she moves it about her plate. 

Quintus nods as he finishes chewing his bite of food. "Some....but I declined."  

Lucretia perks up at the news and looks up at Quintus. "His victory earlier changed your mind?" 

"Indeed. I can tell he still needs to recover more but he proved that he can still fight, even through injury. He can begin training earlier than expected and that is good enough for me." She smiles at that and Quintus takes notice. "Should I question why his staying makes you so happy?" 

Lucretia shakes her head. "No. As I told you before, I think of many of the slaves as family. Especially the ones who have been with us for so long, regardless if you agree or not." He takes her hand in his and kisses the back of it.  

"You have a great heart, Lucretia. It's no wonder I was taken with you from the moment I saw you." He smiles at her and she smiles back. He leans in and kisses her deeply, his hand coming to cup the back of her head. He pulls back and looks at her with lust filled eyes. "Why don't we celebrate your success with Illithya's friends?"  

"Alright." She agrees and stands with him and joins their hands together as they walk back to their bedroom.  

He's getting suspicious...I need to make myself more available lest his suspicions become worse.  she thinks as she smiles at him as they walk.  

 

The following afternoon, Lucretia sits on her bed and twirls a tendril of blonde hair around her finger. Quintus has gone to the market to handle some business and she doesn't know how long he will be gone. She begins to think about yesterday's events as her thoughts consume her. 

I bet Illithya is seething that those bitchy friends of hers favored my company and embarrassed her. She laughs lightly to herself. I cannot wait to tell Crixus that Quintus won't be selling him! He will be so thrilled. She is smiling widely before she starts thinking of Quintus and her smile falls. I feel like I betrayed Crixus...I know that I did what I had to in order to erase any suspicion Quintus may have had but it doesn't lessen my guilt. Should I tell him about it?  

Her thoughts are interrupted as the subject of them walks into the room; Naevia closing the doors behind him and she rushes off with a smile to visit with Tyronius. Lucretia's mood instantly lifts at the sight of him and she quickly stands as he walks towards her. Both are grinning like mad as he embraces her tightly. He releases her and takes a small step back to admire her beauty and runs his hand lightly over her breast. A jolt of electricity shoots through her body at his light touch and she shivers in delight. 

"You look stunning." He complements as his eyes travel over her body, appreciating the skin tight, sheer blue dress she is wearing. Her face flushes at his gaze and she smiles sweetly at him. 

"I have the most exciting news." 

"And that is?" 

Her smile widens. "Quintus changed his mind. He isn't going to sell you!" It takes him a moment to process what she was saying before his eyes widen and he lets out a laugh. He picks her up and spins her around while she squeals in glee.  

"Crixus! Put me down!" She laughs. "You'll hurt yourself!" He does as requested and immediately crushes his lips against hers enthusiastically. She responds in kind and wraps her arms around his neck as the kiss becomes more heated. A pool of desire settles deep within her stomach and she feels her thighs become wet as she presses herself harder against him. Crixus releases her lips and begins kissing and licking her neck and she lets out a small moan as she tilts her head back to give him more access.  

It suddenly occurs to her that things are getting a little out of hand and she steps back from his embrace. "As much as I am enjoying this, you haven't properly healed." She says slightly out of breath. 

"I think I can handle this considering I just did some training yesterday." He replies with a smirk.  

"My point exactly! That was already too much activity!" She counters as turns away from him and crosses her arms. He moves to stand directly behind her and gently moves her hair to the side and begins placing soft kisses along her neck. She sighs deeply and relaxes against him. He runs his tongue up her neck and places a kiss beneath her earlobe before slowly pulling it into his mouth. He feels her shiver within his grasp and her soft moan spurs him into action.  

He roughly turns her around to face him and crushes his lips against hers in a fiery kiss that she hungrily returns. He pushes his tongue into her mouth; their tongues battling for dominance. He abruptly pushes her onto the bed and she gasps with surprise. He quickly removes his subligaria and covers her body with his own as he kisses her passionately. His hand travels over her body and reaches between them to rub his hand against her and he groans at how wet she is.  

She arches into his touch; a silent plea for more. He slowly inserts a finger inside of her, enjoying her gasp of pleasure as she breaks their lips apart. He starts moving his finger at a quicker pace and another soon joins it. He cannot wait any longer and he quickly raises her legs to wrap around his lower back and pushes her dress aside as he roughly pushes himself into her. They both moan loudly at the contact and neither moves a muscle.  

Deep pools of brown meet electric blue as he pulls nearly all the way out before slamming himself back her; Lucretia moaning sharply at every pump of his hips. His pace begins to quicken as he grabs her ankle and raises her leg higher into the air, letting her ankle rest on his shoulder. Her cries of pleasure ring throughout the room and are growing louder the harder he thrusts. He swiftly captures her lips to stifle her cries. 

Lucretia fervently kisses him back; muffled moans still escaping from her mouth. Crixus grabs her other leg and lifts it to rest upon his other shoulder and she feels like she is coming undone as she feels him plunging deeper within her. She breaks away from the kiss with a loud moan.  She can feel the pleasure coiling tightly in her stomach and her breathing becomes erratic as her pleasure peaks; her walls tighten around him as she climaxes with a shout. He pumps into her a few more times before he reaches his climax and spills his seed within her with a guttural groan.  

He flops onto his back beside her as they try to catch their breath. Lucretia smiles in content. "I dreamed of the day we would be joined together again." She turns her head towards him. "You didn't disappoint."  

He chuckles as he leans over and gives her a peck on the lips. "Glad to be at your service." 

She laughs. "How do you feel?" She asks motioning to his wounds. 

"Honestly, they don't hurt much. Uncomfortable, yes but no immense pain. I told you that I could handle it." He teases. 

"That you did. " she agrees as she moves to lay her head on his chest and his arm wraps around her. "Quintus should be gone for a while longer. Care to give another lesson in endurance?" She asks impishly.   

He pretends to think about it for a moment. "My pleasure!" He exclaims as he rolls back on top of her and she giggles in excitement. 

 

Crixus is walking back to the ludus later that evening with a smile on his face; thinking about the time he got to spend with Lucretia. They spent the majority of the day together and he couldn't be happier. He walks towards the wash room, intending on washing up before it is time for the recruits to try to earn their mark. He rounds the corner and witnesses Segovax attempting to kill Spartacus by pulling a rope tightly against his neck. He immediately runs in and tackles him to the floor, allowing Spartacus his release as he begins coughing and gulping in as much air as he can.  

Crixus pushes Segovax violently into the wall and punches him multiple times in the face. Segovax manages to dodge the next punch and punches Crixus directly on his stomach wound, making him groan in pain. He doubles over, clutching his stomach, and Segovax lands a punch to his face. Segovax picks up a discarded shaving blade from the ground and cuts Crixus's arm. He moves to stab Crixus and he grabs him by the wrist and holds him back. Both men are struggling to get the upper hand. Crixus suddenly snaps Segovax's arm, a loud crunch sounding in the room, and slams his head into the side of the bathing pool. Blood spurts out from his mouth as he crumples to the ground in an unconscious heap.  

Crixus falls to the floor, clutching his wound and gasping in pain. Spartacus is still trying to catch his breath as he asks, "You would kill a fellow Gaul to save a man you hate?" 

Crixus breathes out painfully. "I saved a brother who bears the mark of a gladiator. You've earned a glorious death and I would not see you killed by someone other than a gladiator." He says as he stands to his feet and reaches a hand out to Spartacus to help him to his feet. Spartacus accepts the offer and pulls himself up.  

"Gratitude." He breathes out.  Crixus just nods in his direction as he begins to walk out of the room. He stops at the doorway and turns his head to look at Spartacus.  

"It pains me to say it, but you have also gained my respect." He pauses for a moment. "Tell anyone and I'll rip your cock off." He threatens as he walks away making his way to the medicus to get his wound looked at. Spartacus chuckles and looks back at Segovax, still unconscious on the floor. 

"You have gained mine as well." He says aloud as he exits the room to go notify a guard of what happened.  

 

"I leave these walls for a fucking moment and a recruit tries to kill Spartacus?!" Quintus bellows in rage.  Lucretia, Ashur, and Naevia stand quietly while Quintus paces in anger. "Illithya's own fucking man!" 

"He would have succeeded had it not been for Crixus." Lucretia says calmly.  

"Fuck!" He shouts and rubs his head in irritation. The sudden click of heels gains all of their attention and they turn as Illithya rounds the corner. "Ughhh! The snake arrives, walking as if human!" He says in disgust as he throws an arm around Ashur's neck and they walk away, speaking in low voices.  

"I pray I have not missed the test?" Illithya says excitedly as she grabs Lucretia's hand.  

"Delayed, due to most unfortunate events." She replies as she slowly slips her hand from Illithya's grasp and turns to Quintus as he walks towards them.  

"Oh?" Illithya questions.  

"Spartacus was attacked unawares in the baths." He informs her.  

"Attacked?" She asks, her face filled with confusion.  

"By your recruit, Segovax." Lucretia says. 

"How unfortunate." Illithya replies. 

"For your man, yes." Quintus responds.  

"He had to be punished." Lucretia agrees. A scream can be heard coming from outside and they all travel out to the balcony. Down below, all the gladiators and recruits watch in silence as Segovax screams in agony from the nails being pounded into his hands as he is nailed to a cross; a pool of blood surrounds him.  Illithya scans her eyes across the men when she notices Spartacus among them and frowns.  

"Spartacus yet lives?" She regards coolly.  

"Yet." Quintus responds.  

Lucretia looks sharply at Illithya, feeling like she is hiding something. "Your man would not speak as to his reason, even when parted from his cock." She says. The guards lift the cross up, putting Segovax on display for all to see; blood pours from the empty space where his cock was once placed. "He gave you no sign of cause when you met last night, did he?" She questions. 

"No!" Illithya insists. "It is a mystery." They all walk back inside the villa and Ashur excuses himself from their company. "If you would pardon my abruptness, I am feeling ill and will take my leave." Illithya says as she makes the decision to leave.  

"We understand." Lucretia says and Quintus gives a quick nod to Illithya. She nods back and snaps her fingers at her slaves and they trail behind her as she exits the room and the villa.  

"Ahhh! What a long fucking day! Let's go to bed, my love, and pray sleeps finds us on this troubling night." Quintus says as he places his hands on her hips.  

"You go ahead. I wish to stay awake longer. I may go enjoy solitude in the gardens, rid my mind of this troubling evening." 

"That garden is your favorite place in the entire villa, isn't it?" 

She laughs. "Indeed, it is. It's my favorite of the gifts you have given me over the years. It brings me much peace."  

He kisses the back of her hand. "I wouldn't have it any other way." He leans forward and kisses her on the lips. "Enjoy your solitude." She squeezes his hand before he releases hers and walks away. She waits until she is sure he is completely gone before turning to Naevia and sighs. 

"Today has been a whirl of emotions, has it not?" 

"Yes it has, Domina. From excitement to tragedy....one must wonder why Segovax attacked Spartacus?" 

"I have thoughts on the matter."  

"Oh?" 

"I believe a certain blonde may have had something to do with it. Nothing can be proven, of course, but I have no doubts regarding the matter." Lucretia says with conviction.  

"I'm inclined to agree, Domina." Lucretia decides to change the subject. 

"Would you fetch Crixus for me once they are finished outside? I believe it is late enough that he won't need to be escorted." 

Naevia nods her head. "Of course, Domina. May I visit with Tyronius, then?" 

"Of course." Lucretia says with a smile. 

Naevia smiles back. "Gratitude." 

"Tell Crixus to meet me in the garden." 

"Yes, Domina." Naevia says as she turns to walk away but Lucretia reaches out and tugs on her elbow. "Domina?" 

"I give him my blessing." Lucretia says seriously. 

Naevia is confused. "I-I don't understand your meaning, Domina." 

Lucretia chuckles. "I'm giving you my blessing to be with Tyronius, should you desire to lay with him." Naevia's eyes grow wide and she gasps in surprise. She looks like she wants to hug Lucretia but thinks better of it at the last moment. 

"Gratitude, Domina! Oh, I don't know what to say!"  

Lucretia reaches out and places her hand on Naevia's shoulder. "Just enjoy it. Remember what I told you, it may hurt at first but I promise it gets better." Naevia grins in excitement as she turns and walks swiftly towards the stairs.  

Lucretia sighs as she begins walking through the villa, making her way to the garden. She gets lost in her thoughts as she travels the hallways.  

I have not felt this light...this happy in such a long time. Other than the attempt on Spartacus, today was marvelous.  I'm glad my blessing made Naevia happy, she deserves it she thinks as she enters the hallway with the entrance leading out into the garden. 

She looked like she wanted to hug me...I wish she would relax more. I'll just have to try harder and prove that she can trust me. She is my friend. Her thoughts as interrupted as she suddenly whips around and starts trying to see in the darkness. She thought she heard something behind her. She stands completely still and the only thing she can hear is her heartbeat. She brushes it off and continues down the hallway, exiting the villa and entering the garden. She travels through the maze until she reaches the center; her favorite spot with the bench.  

She smiles to herself as she thinks of the last time she was here and how distraught she was. Now, that memory can be replaced with a happier one. She walks to the bench and decides to sit on the ground again. She plops down and is glad she decided to wear this dress because it isn't as constricting as the others. She stretches her legs out in front of her and looks up to the sky.  

I haven't star gazed since Gaia and I were children she thinks to herself as the idea floods her mind. She smiles again as she reclines back on the ground and stares at the sky in wonder. She absentmindedly begins playing with her necklace, her fingers ghosting over the opals.  

Naevia has waited at the bottom of the stairs for what feels like forever. Finally, the guard appears with Crixus in tow and she frowns a little when she realizes that Tyronius is not with them.  

Crixus notices and says, "He will come soon. A few men are still moving about and he wanted to wait." 

She smiles. "Okay. Domina awaits for your arrival." He nods and begins ascending the stairs while Naevia continues to wait for Tyronius. Crixus makes his way through the empty villa to the garden. He loves the garden as much as Lucretia does. He finds it relaxing and he also sees what joy it brings her and nothing makes him happier. He reaches the entryway to the garden and walks through the maze to the center of the garden. There, he finds Lucretia laying on the ground looking up at the stars, playing with the necklace he bought her.  

She is so beautiful he thinks to himself as he watches her for a moment. "Laying on the ground...not something a proper woman should do." He teases as he walks over to her.  

She turns her head towards him and laughs. "When have I ever been proper?" She asks as he lays down beside her. She snuggles into his side and returns her gaze to the sky.  

"You know, it brings me much happiness when I see you wear that necklace." 

She turns to face him. "I told you I would never take it off. I like to think of it as your claim to me." 

"Oh, so you're my slave, then?" He asks with a laugh and she smacked his shoulder. 

"You are terrible." 

"Yet, you love me anyways." He said as he leans down and kisses her gently.  

"I do. Forever." She responds, rubbing her nose against his. "I truly believe that Gods made it to where we will never be apart. You nearly died and then nearly sold and yet here we are. Together." 

"I have to agree with you." He replies and they both look to the sky again, enjoying the tranquility of the garden.  

Around an hour later, Crixus can feel the events of the day catching up with him; he is exhausted. He groans as he stretches and Lucretia glances at him. 

"Tired?" She asks. 

"Very. It's been an eventful day." 

"Well, go rest." She says and sits up. "I'm sure you are exhausted."  

"What about you?" He asks as he also sits up and stifles a yawn.  

"I think I will stay out a while longer. Looking at the stars brings fond memories of Gaia and I when we were children." He nods his head in understanding and leans towards her and kisses her softly.  

She breaks the kiss. "Goodnight, Crixus." 

He smiles as he stands. "Goodnight, Lucretia. I hope to see you soon." 

"You will." She grins and he grins back as he begins walking away. She watches him until she can't see him anymore and lays back on the ground.  

 

Tyronius and Naevia are sitting in their nook under the stairs, sharing whispered conversation.  

"Wait, you think Segovax's Domina ordered him to attack Spartacus?" He questions. 

"Yes. Don't you find it odd that she had a meeting with him the night before all of this happened?" 

"You drive an excellent point. "The stairs creak, signaling that someone is coming down into the ludus. "Shh!" Tyronius says as he and Naevia hold their breath. Their breaths are released upon realizing it is just Crixus returning from meeting with Lucretia. They watch him as he closes the bars behind him and walks away. He turns back to Naevia to find her gazing at him intently. "What is it?" 

She blushes. "Well....I wondered if you....if you would want to make love tonight?" 

Tyronius swallows hard. "You know I would want nothing more. However, I do favor my cock and shall not see it parted from my body for defiling the Domina's favorite." 

"She gave me her blessing." 

"Sh-she did?"  

Naevia nods her head. "She did. I do not wish to wait any longer." She then gets a look of worry on her face. 

"What?" 

"Domina said that it may hurt?" She  asks. 

"She isn't wrong. I promise to be as gentle as I can and will stop if you only ask." Naevia nods her acceptance and slowly stands to her feet. She unties her dress and lets it slowly fall to the floor as she bares herself to him. He takes in her round breasts and curve of her hips and his eyes fall further down below and he becomes hard at the sight of her. "Wow....you are beautiful, Naevia." He compliments and she blushes.  

He gets to his feet and slowly removes his subligaria and lets it pool at his feet. Her eyes widen as she looks at his hard member. "You have nothing to worry about. I promise you will get past the pain and will feel nothing but pleasure." He says as he stands in front of her. She runs her hand against his cheek as she stands on her tiptoes to place her lips against his. 

Lucretia sighs as she finally gets to her feet and stretches. She takes one last look around the garden before she walks through the maze to get back to the villa. She walks through the entryway and makes her way down the hall, her footsteps lightly echoing in the quiet hall. She halts her steps as she thought she heard a scuffling noise.  She raises an eyebrow in irritation and huffs and she continues down the hall. She is just about to pass the corner when suddenly a hand clamps down on her mouth, her muffled scream of surprise suppressed and she is slammed against the stone wall; her head bounces off the wall and her back is to her assailant. She can't turn her head to see who it is because her head is being held tightly against the wall. She can feel a trickle of blood run down her face from a cut on her forehead. She tries screaming but to no avail because the hand is still held tightly over her mouth.  

Tyronius gently lowers Naevia to the floor as they continue to kiss and lightly palms one of her breasts and she softly moans into his mouth. Using the same hand, he slowly trails his hand down and starts rubbing it against her, already feeling the evidence of her arousal. He breaks away from the kiss and  moves his head to capture a nipple in his mouth; Naevia moans at the feeling of his mouth on her breast. He slowly inserts a finger into her heat and begins moving his finger and she continues to moan in pleasure.  

Suddenly, Lucretia is roughly turned around, the hand never leaving her mouth, and her eyes widen in fear and shock when she sees Ashur smirking cruelly at her. "Good evening, Lucretia. Coming back from a nice stroll in the gardens or a nice fuck with Crixus?" She frantically shakes her head. He laughs. "Don't bother lying. I've known for quite sometime. Oh? Why haven't I made Dominus aware of your betrayal? Hmm..." He says as he pretends to ponder why. He snaps his fingers. "Oh, I remember! Because you have something that I want." He leans in closer to her ear. "I want you." He breathes as he runs his hand over her breasts. She squirms in his grasp and tries to wrench herself away from him. 

Tyronius brings his head back up to capture her lips with his and speeds up the movement of his finger. "Tyronius..." Naevia breathes out as she releases his lips. He removes his finger and positions himself at her entrance. He looks at her and she nods at him, letting him know she is ready. He gingerly pushes himself inside of her, only a little at a time until he hits her barrier. He quickly kisses her passionately as he thrusts the rest of the way inside of her, her shocked cry of pain being muffled by his mouth. He kisses her tears away and waits patiently for her to be ready to continue.  

"You bite me or make a noise and I will throw you off the fucking cliff. You tripped. Noone else is around to say otherwise." Ashur threatens. Tears begin pooling in her eyes and she tries to hold them back. "Oh and do not doubt for a second that Dominus isn't aware of your activities. He isn't stupid. How did you betray him then, you ask? Let's see....I know your little secret. It's more than just a nice fuck isn't it?" A tear makes its way down her cheek as she sniffs and he chuckles. "How does Ashur know this?" He traces her necklace with delight written on his face. "I procured this necklace for the dumb fuck. Ha Ha! Look whose neck it turns up on and it hasn't left your neck since." 

Lucretia's blood runs cold as he speaks. He cruelly tears the necklace from her neck and throws it to the ground and roughly pulls down the front of her dress, exposing her breasts to him. He violently massages one breast as tears begin running down her face. He releases her mouth, knowing she won't be stupid enough to make any loud noises. He grips both of her wrists in one hand and shoves them above her head while his other hand tears her dress and slips between her legs, his fingers moving against her. 

"Aww, you aren’t excited to see me?" He mocks as he continues to rub against her.  

"Please don't!" She whispers out fearfully. 

"Why don't we fix that?" He says as he spits into his hand and spreads it over her, laughing at her attempts to stop him as she struggles against him. 

"Stop! Please don't do this to me!" She cries out louder than she intended. He abruptly turns her around and slams her face into the wall and she grunts out in pain.  

"What did I say about making noise?" He reminds her. "Shut your fucking mouth." He threatens. He then spits in his hand again to lubricate himself., rubbing his hand down his shaft. "Now, it's Ashur's turn to get a taste." 

After a moment of waiting, Naevia has grown accustomed to the feel of him inside of her and nods her head. He slowly slides out, then back in and she gasps in pleasure. He sets a slow pace, as he enjoys every sound she makes. She reaches up and pulls his head down to hers, crashing their lips together as he begins to quicken his pace. He can feel his orgasm approaching and wants Naevia to experience one before he does. He reaches between them and begins rubbing her clit as he continues to move in and out of her. Naevia's eyes widen in pleasure at the new intense feeling. Her moans start growing louder and louder and she starts to quiver and her muscles tense as she climaxes. Tyronius follows right behind her with a loud moan as he finishes inside of her.  

"Ashur, no! Plea--" her pleas are silenced as he once again covers her mouth with his hand as he releases her wrists. He violent shoves himself into her and she screams against his hand as he groans at the feeling. He lets go of her mouth and viciously grips her hips as he begins to savagely pound into her, pressing her head harder against the stone wall. Tears are streaming down her face as she tries with all of her might not to cry out in pain; the wall has rubbed the skin off of her bottom lip. Her head is yanked back as he grabs a handful of her hair and continues his relentless pace. He gives three more brutal thrusts before groaning loudly as he spills his seed deep within her, leaning his head against her shoulder as he catches his breath. He releases her and she crumples to the ground, shaking terribly. 

Naevia and Tyronius both redress themselves and Naevia smooths out her dress as she grins. "I cannot believe that we finally got to consummate our relationship" she states happily. 

"I'm glad that we did though. How are you feeling?" He asked in concern. 

"I feel wonderful! I'm sore but I know it will pass. I hate to leave but I must get back to Domina." She says with a pout. Tyronius pulls her into an embrace and gives her a sweet kiss. 

"I love you, Naevia." 

"I love you too, Tyronius. I promise I will see you soon." She says as she backs out of his embrace. She turns around and starts making her way back upstairs feeling as if she is floating.  

Ashur rights himself and makes sure his clothes are in place before bending down to reach out beside her. She flinches at his movement and he grins maliciously and picks up her necklace from the ground. "I think I'll keep this. As a reminder to you that Ashur owns you now." He laughs. "You see, you can't tell anyone about this because your secret little relationship will come to light and Dominus will find out. I don't think you want that. I look forward to meeting with you again. Until next time." He says with a smirk and bends down to his knees to press a kiss to her cheek and she flinches away. He laughs at her as he stands to his feet and walks away, whistling a jovial tune. Lucretia just stares off into the darkness of the hallway, wishing the darkness would just swallow her whole as she begins to sob uncontrollably.  

 

Naevia quietly opens the door to Lucretia and Quintus's room and notices that Lucretia is still not in bed. 

That is strange she thinks to herself and closes the door and looks around before setting off for the baths. Maybe she decided to take a bath on her own? She thinks hopefully. She frowns when she enters the bathroom and Lucretia is still nowhere to be found. Naevia begins to worry because Lucretia is normally back in her room by now. Maybe she is still in the garden? Naevia begins walking towards the garden area. As she nears the hallway, she can faintly hear someone crying. Her brows furrow in worry as she grows nearer and her heart plummets as she recognizes the cry. She breaks into a run towards the sound and is in complete shock at what she sees. Lucretia is completely disheveled; she is dirty and her dress is ripped, she is bleeding from her forehead and lip and her hair is a complete mess. 

"By the Gods!" She exclaims and quickly bends down to her knees and reaches for Lucretia. 

"Don't touch me!" Lucretia yelps, tears still rolling down her face. Naevia retracts her hand and tries to calm her down. 

"Okay, okay. I will not touch you. Apologies, Domina." She says as she slightly bows her head. Lucretia looks up at her when she speaks and then throws her arms around Naevia and sobs into her neck.  

"Naevia! I-I-I....he-he...." She splutters. "Oh Gods!" She exclaims as she sobs harder. Naevia sits down with her back against the wall and moves Lucretia's head to rest in her lap. 

"Shhh...it's okay. It's okay." She gently runs her fingers through her hair in an attempt to calm her. 

"Shhh...you're okay."Naevia says soothingly. Lucretia's sobs begin to subside until all you can her is her quiet sniffles. All is silent as Naevia continues to rub her head.  

"Lucretia." She suddenly speaks as she sniffs. 

"Pardon?" Naevia asks with confusion.  

"Please....please call me Lucretia." She croaks out. "I care for you far too much to allow you to continue calling me Domina.  

"Okay...Lucretia." Naevia says with a small smile. "I care too." She adds before bending down and placing a kiss upon Lucretia's forehead before resuming her ministrations from before. 

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART  

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show. 

################################################################################# 

CHAPTER NINE:   TAKING BACK CONTROL

One month later......  

Lucretia stares listlessly across the room as she lies in bed; her hands folded beneath her head she lies on her side.  She hasn't had the willpower to do much in the past moon and Quintus finally says something.  

"Lucretia, you haven't stepped foot outside the villa in a moon. How long do you plan to keep this up?" She says nothing and shrugs her shoulders and he sighs in displeasure at her lack of response.  

"I just haven't felt well, Quintus." 

"Should I send for the medicus?" 

"No. It's nothing to fuss over.  I'll be fine. Besides, I do have something planned for today." She informs him. 

"I'm glad to hear it. It's not proper for a woman to lie in bed all day." He says and exits the room, passing Naevia on his way out. She sets down a fresh bowl of warm water and walks to Lucretia and gently sits her up in bed. She looks a mess; her hair is in disarray and she still has on makeup from the previous day and it is beginning to smudge. Naevia dips a sponge into the water and begins to wipe off the makeup, uncovering a recent split lip. She sighs heavily as she continues to wipe the makeup off. 

"This makes the fourth time, Lucretia....." She trails off.  

"I know." Lucretia says quietly.  

"….maybe it is best if we tell Crixus?" Naevia suggests. 

"No! He cannot know Naevia!" Naevia finishes wiping Lucretia's face and removes her wig and head covering and begins brushing her hair.  

"Well, maybe he can---" 

Lucretia cuts her off. "What? What can he do? Ashur has higher position than he and all it will do is result in him being removed from the ludus. 

"What about visiting with him? Surely that will lift your spirits?" 

Tears well up in Lucretia's eyes. " I will not have him look upon me. I'm no longer beautiful...." 

Naevia sets the brush down and gently cups Lucretia's face. "Yes, you are!" She says with strong conviction. "You are beautiful and strong! What happened to you will never change that. Do not let him win, Lucretia. Do not let him take away what makes you most happy." She finishes and places a gentle kiss on her forehead and picks the brush up to resume brushing her hair. She finishes and puts the covering back on Lucretia's head, making sure to tuck any stray hairs beneath the covering. She picks up the blonde wig and starts arranging it on Lucretia's head. Lucretia frowns disdainfully, the wig reminding her of that dreadful night that changed her life.  

Naevia notices her reaction and sighs. " I know you do not wish to wear it, but you have an important meeting today with Licinia.  She arrives soon." She says as she begins to style her hair.  

" I know. I just wish I did not have to bear this lifestyle any longer. I just want it all to end......I think about leaving often." Naevia is silent as she continues to work on her hair. Lucretia sighs, "Naevia....if I were to ever leave these walls, you know I would take you with me. I could never leave you behind." 

Naevia smiles. "How can you be so sure? Surely, if you were to somehow leave, Dominus would not let you part the villa with me." 

"Maybe not but there are many ways to ensure that you would leave with me. I would come and steal you away in the night." They both share a laugh. 

"It is good to see you smile and laugh again, Lucretia. I've missed seeing joy on your face." 

Lucretia grows quiet. "I miss feeling joy." She finally replies.  

 

The men are hard at training, sweat rolling off their backs making them glisten in the sun. Crixus has been allowed to have some light training, but nothing too rigorous until his stitches are removed. After Spartacus finishes sparring with Varro, he and Crixus pair up. He manages to best Spartacus the first time, but during their second round he keeps dropping his shield when he shouldn't and that allows Spartacus opening to strike every time. His thoughts are consumed with Lucretia and it is causing him to let his guard down. Spartacus swipes his feet from beneath him and he falls to the ground. 

Spartacus huffs in annoyance at Crixus. "You keep letting your guard down." He informs as he reaches down a hand to help pull Crixus up. He grabs the offered hand and pulls himself to his feet. "What distracts you?" 

Crixus shakes his head. "It's nothing." 

"Is it the woman who holds your heart?" 

"I do not wish to talk about it." 

Spartacus holds his hands up in a placating gesture. "That's fair. You need to remove her from mind before your brain is removed from your head." He says as he strikes out and they resume training.  

 

Lucretia walks unhappily behind Licinia as the woman browses elegant masks, presented by the slaves, trying to decide which she likes.  She is there to make an arrangement to bed one of the gladiators.  

"These are exquisite." Licinia marvels as she continues to browse.  

"Yes. They've been in the family for generations" Lucretia replies, attempting to hide her disinterest.  

"So....this sort of arrangement happens often?" 

Lucretia scoffs.  "No, but when such a request is made, one must be prepared to offer only the finest quality." 

"The House of Batiatus does not fall short in that regard." Licinia compliments. "I think this one." She chooses as she stops in front of a nude slave.  

"A fine choice." Lucretia says as she removes the mask from the slave and hands it to Licinia. She walks away as the woman admired the mask. Licinia catches up with her and they walk in silence for a moment.  

"Have you decided?" Lucretia asks, curious as to who the proper woman would want to bed.  

"There is only one man I would invite such peril to know. I will have Spartacus." 

Lucretia stops walking and raises her eyebrow. "Spartacus?" Licinia nods her head excitedly. "Only the Champion for the best, of course." She smiles and begins walking again. They sit down and begin talking about the arrangement; Naevia stands against the wall as do Licinia's slaves. Lucretia fidgets with her hands, noticing how clammy they are. 

Licinia bites her lip in unease. "I worry that word would make way to my husband." 

"The Gods themselves would have to whisper in his ear. We are very careful when handling delicate matters such as this, but you must also do your part." Lucretia informs.  

"Which is?" 

"You must tell no one. You have to arrive at the appointed time, unencumbered." 

Licinia stares at her in slight shock. "Uh...arrive absent slaves or attendants?" She asks unsure of the notion. 

Lucretia nods her head. "Yes. They are loyal to their master, are they not?" Licinia nods her head in response. "We need to avoid complications for you and for this ludus." Suddenly, the doors are thrown open and Illithya, along with her slaves, stride into the room and she wears a look of surprise on her face as she nears them. 

"Illithya!" Licinia says in greeting. 

"Oh! Apologies. Am I early?" Illithya asks as she turns to Lucretia.  

What the hell is she talking about? Lucretia blinks away her confusion. "For what purpose?" 

"You invited me to midday meal." She says giving Lucretia a look. 

Great. Now, I have to play along with her lies.   

"Did you?" Licinia asks, her eyes flashing at Lucretia. This was supposed to be a private meeting.  

"Y-yes! For tomorrow!" Lucretia stutters. 

"Oh, was it?" Illithya asks, her voice rising in pitch. " I pray I have not interrupted important proceeds." She says as she sits next to Licinia.  

"Oh, no. On the contrary. We were only just speaking about you and your gladiator." Illithya shoots a look at Lucretia. " What was his name?" She asks as she smirks.  

"Segovax." Illithya says. 

"Yes, Segovax. Pity. Perhaps you should buy several next time until you get the hang of it." The two women stare each other down and Lucretia says nothing as the tension mounts in the room. Licinia sighs dramatically. " Forgive my haste, but my husband expects me." She picks up her mask and moves towards Lucretia, bending down to kiss her cheek. It takes Lucretia all she has not to flinch as the woman's lips touch her cheek; she is still as a statue. " I look forward to our next encounter." Licinia says and begins to exit the room.  

"I look forward to meeting with you again. Until next time." Ashur's smirking face and cruel voice flash through her mind. Her eyes grow wide with fear and her hands clench into tight fists. Naevia sees her panic and it hurts her not to be able to comfort her friend. Illithya doesn't notice what is happening as her sharp stare follows Licinia across the room. Naevia does the best she can and quickly fetches a cup of water for Lucretia, who gratefully accepts the cup and grips it tightly as she swiftly gulps down the cool water.  

Illithya turns her gaze back to Lucretia as she is lowering her cup and takes in her flushed face. "Are you alright?" She asks with mild concern. 

Lucretia nods her head. "I'm fine. Just a little warm is all." She answers as she clears her throat.  

"Hm." Illithya stands and walks out of the room. "Am I to be invited?" She asks with her back to Lucretia. 

"Invited to what?" 

"To the masquerade. You think I did not notice the mask she was attempting to conceal?" 

"You're mistaken. There is no masquerade. She merely wanted to borrow the mask." 

Illithya chuckles knowingly. "To avoid certain complications?" Lucretia's face remains impassive. "A wealthy woman pf status visiting a ludus. If I did not know better, I would suspect intent to fuck one of your gladiators." 

"Illithya!" Lucretia chastises.  

Illithya yelps with glee. "Oh! She is, isn't she?" She says excitedly. "Oh, that little whore! How positively depraved!" 

Shit, shit, SHIT. She cannot find out! She is one of the biggest gossips in all of Rome!  

"I promised discretion. You must not breathe a word of this to anyone." Lucretia pleads.  

" I would never think it. You have been a most valued friend." Illithya responds as she links her arm with Lucretia's. "This will be our little secret." She says as they walk out of the room. 

After Illithya departs, Lucretia rushes back to the bedroom, her hands shaking violently. Naevia rushes in behind her and quickly closes the doors. She stares at Naevia, her bottom lip slightly quivering, and Naevia crosses the room and envelopes her into a comforting hug. She cries softly into Naevia's neck, hating herself for becoming so weak.  

"Shhh..." Naevia soothes as she rubs her back. "You did so well out there. I know it was difficult but progress never comes easy. Neither took notice of your struggle."  

"I've become th-this weak and feeble person...a sh-shadow of myself and I hate it. I hate myself. I-I feel t-trapped." Lucretia says as her voice trembles.  

"We cannot let him do this again." 

Lucretia pulls back from Naevia."If I stop, he will inform Quintus of everything and I cannot allow that!" 

"You must do something, Lucretia! You cannot just let him continue to do this to you. It isn't right!" Lucretia looks at her, looking completely defeated and Naevia reaches back out to pull her into the hug. 

I know,  Naevia ..... what do I do? I've never felt so helpless...  

 

Crixus winces as the medicus removes a stitch. The stitches are to finally be removed today. "So I can begin harder training tomorrow, then?" 

"Yes. Do keep watch over the wounds. Should you feel any discomfort, come to me immediately." The medicus instructs and Crixus nods his agreement.  

"Ah! Crixus!" Crixus looks up at the sudden entrance of the voice only to frown when he sees that it is Ashur. "Risen from the dead. Too bad I cannot join you on the sands in training." 

Crixus scoffs. "You? Returning to the sands as gladiator?" 

"I yet bear the mark." Ashur says as he outstretched his arm, presenting the mark of Batiatus. He sighs as he plops down beside Crixus. "Fortunate for you, Dominus requires my services elsewhere." 

Crixus laughs dismissively. "How could we forget? You would suck his cock if he asked it of you, just to gain position." Ashur glares at him and he glares back. "Make no mistake, I give no shit what position or station you are in now. I do not answer to you." The medicus moves to Ashur and begins tending to a small cut on his cheek. Crixus looks on curiously. "Running your mouth again?" He asks as he motions at the wound. 

Ashur grins wickedly. "You give me shit about position, yet the perks are very good to me. Surprisingly, a slave wanted to put up a fight when given order to service me, but she received a lesson in obedience." He chuckles as he relishes the thought that Crixus has no idea who he speaks of. His eyes close as he thinks about that night. 

"Remove your dress." He demands. She doesn't move or speak and stares at the ground. "NOW!" He shouts and she  flinches . She takes a deep breath before slowly raising her gaze until she meets his eyes. He can see the fear reflected in them but there is also a tiny speck of defiance that still lurks.   

"I will not." She says.   

He laughs at her. "Oh, you won't? We will see about that." He says as he moves towards her and grabs her by the hip when she  tries to back away. He begins pulling the straps of her dress down and she fights against him.  

"Stop it, Ashur! Don't!" She cries out, pushing his hands away. He manages to tear one strap of the dress and he chuckles.  

"I said, stop!" She yells and swings her hand as hard as she could and slaps him. His head turns with the hit and they both stand in shock at what just happened. He feels a slight trickle down his cheek and raises his hand and wipes away blood.  

Lucretia is trembling in fear as she takes a small step backwards. All he feels is rage and the next thing he knows, he backhands her hard against her mouth and she falls to the ground. The ring on his hand glistens with her blood; it cut her lip when he struck her. She cowers in fear as he bends down and then he roughly shoves her onto her stomach and pushes her dress up.  

Desire floods his veins as he thinks about Lucretia. He should demand her attentions again soon. His thoughts are cut off as the medicus finishes tending to his cut.  

Crixus stretches as he stands. " I find it pathetic that you have to order a slave to fuck you. Probably the last thing the poor girl wants to do is fuck a Syrian cunt like you." He sneers as he stalks out of the room.  

Ashur laughs to himself. "Oh, you have no idea." 

 

As night falls, the men are in the dining area filling their bellies after a hard day of training. Spartacus sits with Varro while Crixus sits with Tyronius. Both men seemed occupied while their friends study them in silence. 

"What plagues your mind?" Varro asks.  

"Do you really want to know?" 

"Sure. What is bothering the mighty Champion of Capua?" Varro laughs as he takes a bite of bread.  

"Speak to no one of this." Spartacus demands.  

"Like you really have to tell me that." Varro replies as he rolls his eyes impatiently. 

Spartacus sighs. "A certain...demand from Dominus gives me troubled thought. He wants me to lie with a woman." 

Varro lifts a brow. "And? What is the problem with that?" 

"I'm offered up like some whore is bothersome in itself. The heart of the concern isn't the act itself but with who." 

"Who is it?" Varro asks as he takes another bite of bread.  

Spartacus glances around before he whispers, "Her name is Licinia, the cousin of Marcus Crassus." 

Varro nearly chokes on his food as his eyes widen in surprise. He quickly takes a gulp of water to wash his food down and clears his throat. "Licinia! Her cousin is the richest man in Rome!" 

"I'm quite aware of that." 

"Well? Are you getting coin for your service?" Varro laughs as Spartacus hits his arm.  

Tyronius can't take the silence any longer. "Something troubling you?" 

"Hmm?" 

Tyronius huffs. "You've hardly touched your portion and you've been staring out into the night. Something is clearly troubling you." 

"What do you make of Spartacus?" 

Tyronius looks confused. "Spartacus? What does he have to do with it?" 

"Your opinion?" 

"I think he is trustworthy. He is a man of his word. I think you two just got off on the wrong foot.  

Crixus takes a bite of bread. "I think you are right. I didn't give him much chance in the beginning." 

"Do my ears deceive me? Are you admitting you are wrong?"  

"Oh piss off." Crixus responds and they both laugh.  

"I'm taking my leave. I need rest." 

"Alright then. I'm eating what's left of your portion!" Varro calls out as Spartacus exits the room. He runs a hand over his face as he draws nearer to his quarters.  He enters the room and notices there is a naked woman on his bed. 

"You have wandered into the wrong cell."  

"Are you not Spartacus?" She asks. "I'm Mira. I have been sent to please you." She says as she lightly tosses her hair over her shoulder.  

"To what end?" 

"Is your pleasure not an end to itself?" 

He grows frustrated. "I do not care for games." He warns as he draws closer. "Give your true purpose." Mira says nothing and he loses his patience and roughly grabs her off the bed and slightly shakes her by the shoulders. "Find your tongue!" He demands. 

"Dominus and Domina fear that you have been too long without a woman. That you will be unable to withhold your seed long enough to please the Roman woman." 

He releases her shoulders. "The notion offends me as does your presence." He picks her clothes up from the bed and hands them to her. She cautiously takes the clothes from his hand. 

"You do not desire me?" 

"I only desire sleep and the absence of dreams." He replies dismissively. She turns without a word and exits his cell. Mira re-dresses and walks out of the ludus; a guard locking the bars behind her as he turns and follows her up the stairs. 

 Naevia pops out from beneath the stairs from her secret spot and runs to the bars. Tyronius soon rounds the corner and they kiss passionately through the bars. He breaks the kiss and cups her cheek with his palm.  

"It's been a moon since I saw you last. I thought you said you would make sure to visit more?" She grabs his hand and places a kiss to his palm before lacing their fingers together through the bars.  

"Apologies. I have been busy attending Domina."  

Tyronius scoffs. " I truly believe that between the two of us, you have it worse. You have to deal with that wretched woman every day." Naevia frowns and snatches her hand away. And backs away from the bars. "What?" 

"You know nothing of her!" 

"Why are you being so defensive?" 

"Because she is my friend!" She blurts out and her eyes go wide as she realized what she just said. 

"What?" 

Naevia sighs and decides to tell the truth.  "I have been friends with her for quite some time now. She isn't as harsh as she pretends to be. Why do you think it is easy for me to come and go as I please?" 

"Apologies for upsetting you. It was not my intent." Tyronius says as he reaches for her hand. She walks back up to the bars and laces their fingers together. 

"I know. I must get back to her. I've been gone long enough." She leans forward and meets his lips in a quick kiss. "I love you." 

Tyronius smiles at her. "I love you too." 

 

The next morning, Crixus is excited to be officially returning to the sands for training. He is welcomed back by his brothers except for some of the newest members. Inside the villa, Lucretia is wringing her hands nervously at the thought of walking onto the balcony. Naevia gently coaxes her and nudges her to go out and face seeing Crixus for the first time. She smooths out imaginary wrinkles in her green dress and feels like she will flee at any given moment. She  steels herself before taking the first step onto the balcony. As she approaches the railing, she immediately spots Crixus crossing the sands to stand next to Oenomaus. Her heart pounds erratically within her chest as she stares at him.  

Crixus feels a change in the air; he can feel her presence. He turns and locks eyes with her, all breath leaving his body as he takes in her appearance. Both Spartacus and Tyronius notice Crixus staring up at the balcony and each have their thoughts about it.  

"Apologies. What did you say?" Crixus asks Oenomaus once he realizes that he was speaking to him and turns away from the balcony.  

Quintus joins Lucretia and Naevia on the balcony and looks at Crixus down below. "Praise the Gods for his return." 

"May they guide him to more victories." Lucretia says quietly.  

Quintus outstretches his hand and rubs her back tenderly. "How do you fare? Any better from previous days?" 

Lucretia nods. "Much better. I was just ill for a spell. Nothing to worry about." Suddenly, the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end and she feels someone's gaze on her. She instantly knows who it is. She tenses as Ashur approaches the balcony, letting his hand graze her ass as he passes by to stand next to Quintus.  She grips the railing tightly; her pale knuckles turning even whiter with the force of her grip.   

"Dominus." Ashur says in greeting as he stops next to him.  

Quintus nods. "Ashur." They continue to look over the men as they train and Ashur spots Crixus. 

"I see Crixus is back in action." Ashur comments.  

"That he is. We shall see a flow of substantial coin coming in soon, yeah?" 

"Indeed." 

Naevia is worried about Lucretia as she sees her discomfort rise. She looks up and makes eye contact with Ashur and glares at him. Lucretia cannot take it any longer and decides she will take her leave. 

"Well, I shall leave you to assess the men's progress, Quintus. The fabric merchant will be arriving soon and I need to have more dresses made." She says as she turns towards Quintus. 

"I'm sure you will look lovely in any fabric." Quintus compliments as he gives her a kiss on the cheek. She gives him a small smile as she exits the balcony, Naevia following behind her. 

Oenomaus has paired Crixus with Tyronius for a sparring match and Crixus feels his blood boil with excitement. He glances at the balcony to get a view of Lucretia only to find her absent. He is saddened, but only for a moment as he takes a deep breath and smirks as he grabs a practice sword, chuckling with Tyronius as they began to circle one another.  

 

The sounds of retching echo against the stone walls of the bathroom as Naevia holds Lucretia's hair back as she heaves into the toilet. Lucretia leans away from the toilet when she is finished; her forehead damp with sweat.  

"Lucretia..."Naevia says to get her attention. She looks up to meet Naevia's eyes. 

"Yes?" 

"I just wanted to let you know that I informed Tyronius of our friendship. I told him nothing else. It just slipped out..." 

"It's okay. I thought you already told him.." She says as she holds a hand out, silently asking for Naevia's help. Naevia grasps her hand and pulls her to her feet. Lucretia begins pulling at the ties and straps of her dress; her hands shaking as she does so.  

"I-I can still feel his hands u-upon me...even when I close my eyes." Her voice trembles. Naevia looks at her with sad eyes and touches her shoulder as she leaves the room to get a few slaves to fetch warm water to add to the bath. She returns to the room to see Lucretia still struggling to remove her clothing.  

"Here, let me help." She says as she places her hands on Lucretia's to stop her from pulling at her clothes. The slaves begin filing into the room and pouring large vases of hot water into the half full tub, warming the cooled water instantly. Naevia has helped Lucretia out of her dress and now helps her lower into the tub. She sheds her clothing before getting in beside her. Naevia grabs a sponge and begins to run it along Lucretia's neck. The ends of Lucretia's hair get wet, turning it a darker red. She moves her hair to one side as Naevia continues to softly run the sponge against her skin. She relaxes for the first time that day, thankful for the friend at her side.  

"Do you think Crixus did well today in his training?" She asks quietly.  

Naevia smiles softly. "I believe so. I will ask Tyronius next I see him." 

Lucretia begins picking at her fingers. "He's anxious to regain his place...I just don't want him to overreach or hide any pain while he is still recovering. You know how stubborn he is."  

"Indeed, I do." Naevia agrees with a chuckle. 

Lucretia gives a small smile back. " I find that the opposite sex has no sense whatever when it comes to their limits. They must be constantly watched least they harm themselves in the simple act of being men." A few slaves walk into the room to add more water to the bath. 

"I'm inclined to agree once more." Naevia whispers as a slave girl finishes pouring more water and stands to exit. Lucretia notices that it is the girl that she and Quintus sent to Spartacus the night before.  

"Wait!" Lucretia demands and the girl halts her steps, tensing at the sound of Lucretia's voice. She slowly turns around to face her. 

"Yes, Domina?" 

"How did you fare with Spartacus last night?" Mira is silent. "How many times did he have you?" Lucretia asks and again Mira is silent. "Hmm?" Lucretia's brows raise in question when she still does not receive a response. Her patience has flown and she grows tired of the girl's lack of response. "Speak!" She demands. 

"He would not have me." Mira answers quietly, fearful of Lucretia's reaction. Lucretia is silent as she ponders Mira's response, brows raised in disbelief. 

"He would not?" 

"No, Domina." 

"And yet you wait until now to tell me?" She asks angrily.  

Tears form in Mira's eyes. "I was afraid you would be displeased." Lucretia sizes her up for a moment, remaining silent as she does so. Mira becomes more frightened as the seconds pass and Lucretia still has not said anything.  

Lucretia finally speaks, "Return to his cell tonight and I expect his cock in you. Or you will find a sword in its place." She threatens.  

A tear slips down Mira's cheek. "Yes, Domina." 

"Now, get out." Lucretia demands and Mira bows her head and exits the room. Lucretia resumes picking at her nails, unaware that Naevia is studying her. 

"Lucretia?" 

"Hmm?" 

"Don't you think you were a little harsh on the girl? That was a bit much coming from you..." 

"Just because I no longer treat you that way does not mean I have to extend the kindness to the others." Lucretia angrily states. She continues to pick at her nails until she can still feel Naevia staring at her and she stops and looks up at Naevia, staring back until she sighs. "Fine...you are right. I'm taking frustration out on her. It is easier to lash out as I did before. That said, Quintus demands it, so it must be done. I'm afraid she doesn't have a choice in the matter." She grabs a nearby sponge and hands it to Naevia as she grabs the one from Naevia's hands. She begins washing herself as Naevia does the same, both women bathing in silence.  

"Naevia?" 

"Yes?" 

"I think I would finally like to see Crixus." 

Naevia smiles at her. "I think that is a wonderful idea. It is a step in the right direction. I know how much you have missed him." 

"I really have." Lucretia says with a smile as both women finish bathing.  

 

Outside on the training grounds, Crixus has been paired with Duro, one of the German brothers. Duro charges at him and Crixus immediately spots an opening and punches him in the stomach and slaps him hard on the back with the practice sword. Duro charges at him again, bringing his sword down quickly and Crixus deflects the blow with his sword and begins savagely attacking him. Crixus punches him in the face and turns sideways to throw an elbow into his nose before kicking him in the chest. Duro falls to the ground in a heap, breathing heavily as he tries to catch his breath.  

"This isn't the arena!" Duro yells. 

"The world is my arena, pup!" Crixus responds. Duro throws his shield at Crixus, who avoids the hit by ducking, and Duro charges for Crixus, intending to fight with his fists. Crixus picks him up and slams him on the ground. Suddenly, Duro's brother Agron rushes up to Crixus and slams his fist into his face.  Crixus quickly regains the upper hand as he punches Agron repeatedly and dodges every punch Agron throws. Crixus throws a punch that connects with the side of Agrons's head, sending him to the ground. He begins getting to his feet when Oenomaus storms over and stands between them.  

"Stand down!" Oenomaus demands. Both men are glaring at each other as they pant, attempting to regain their breath.  "Agron! Duro! Enough. Half rations for the rest of the week and test my patience again and I'll see you both to the mines!" The brothers walk off grumbling to themselves. Crixus walks to get some water from the barrel where Spartacus and Varro stand as Varro rushes past him to catch up with Ashur before he and Quintus depart for the market. He takes a gulp of water from the ladle as he glares at Ashur from across the sand.  

"Many men do not like him very much." Spartacus comments. 

"Because he is a poor excuse for a gladiator. He has no honor." 

"I have to agree. By the way, I see that your absence has not diminished your skill. Well done." 

"Gratitude. I---" Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a guard.  

"Crixus. You have been summoned." His heart soars at the thought of finally being near Lucretia again and he keeps his face neutral as he nods and follows the guard. He didn't realize that he left his eyes unguarded and Spartacus noticed the way they lit up. He takes a drink of water as he ponders all the the behavior he has witnessed from Crixus.  

 

Crixus tries not to rush past the guard in his haste to get to Lucretia as he slowly follows behind him. Meanwhile, Lucretia paces nervously in her room; her black dress flowing behind her as she walks and her red hair swinging with every turn she makes.  

"You have to relax, Lucretia." Naevia says as she watches her pace. Lucretia blows out a breath and shakes out her hands.  

"I cannot help it, Naevia. It feels like an eternity since I last saw him and I'm scared he will see right through me. He will kill Ashur if he finds out." She walks to the mirror to check out her appearance one more time, making sure the makeup covers any markings on her face. She gasps as she realizes that she can still see the cut on her lip and she starts to panic. Naevia notices her panic and quickly moves to cover it up with more lipstick, just managing to apply it as Crixus walks into the room. They both stare at one another as Naevia quietly slips from the room. Neither makes a move as they take each other in; their hearts thundering in their chests.  

Lucretia finds that her palms are sweaty as she clenches her hands, waiting for Crixus to make the first move. He slowly moves towards her and she feels like her heart will beat out of her chest. He embraces her intensely and she tenses at first before reminding herself that it is just Crixus. He would never hurt her. She relaxes at this thought and wraps her arms around his waist and inhales deeply. Her eyes fill with unshed tears as they continue to hold one another. Crixus pulls back enough to look at her, noticing the tears in her eyes.  

"Why are you crying?" He asks softly. 

"I've just missed you so much..." She whispers. 

"I've missed you too..." He replies and slowly lowers his lips to hers. She is slightly surprised at herself when she doesn't tense or flinch away from his affections and she is filled with confidence at this discovery as she kisses him back excitedly. He suddenly pulls back and his brows are furrowed with worry. He lightly traces her bottom lip with his thumb and Lucretia feels her stomach drop. 

I could slap myself for being so careless ....of  course he would notice if we kissed!  

She swallows nervously as he studies her lip. "How did you acquire this?" He asks, his voice full of concern. 

"I tripped." She quickly lies. "I stepped in a hole in the garden and I bit my lip when I fell."She can tell that he doesn't quite believe her.  

He traces the cut once more with his thumb. "Be more careful next time." She nearly sighs in relief that he is not questioning her more. She grabs his hand and leads him to the bed where they both sit, lacing their fingers together. 

"How are you feeling? I know today was your first day of training since you sustained your injuries." Lucretia asks.  

He smiles at her. "I'm not in any pain and I feel that I did well today. I feel fantastic, especially considering today was the first day I even got a glimpse of you for the first time in a moon, let alone feel you within my arms." He kisses the side of her head. "Where have you been hiding?" 

"I've been very ill and mostly rested in bed." She answers. 

"Is everything alright?" He asks, concern lacing his voice. 

"Yes, there is no need to worry." 

"If you say so. I've just noticed that you aren't wearing your necklace." 

"Yes, I had to have it cleaned. It started to lose a little of its shine." She lies, sadness gripping her heart because she knows what really happened to it. 

"Alright." He says as he moves onto the bed to lie on his side and pulls her down in front of him so he can wrap his arm around her, his hand resting on her stomach. 

She sighs in content before she huffs in irritation. "I nearly forgot that Illithya said she would be arriving today." 

"That woman is nothing but a snake." 

"Believe me, I'm aware of that." They both lapse into silence, each pondering their love for one another. Lucretia places her hand on top of his and brings it to her face where she kisses the back of his hand. "You are mine, Crixus...and mine alone." She says as she snuggles her face into his hand.  

He leans down and places a kiss on her cheek. "And you are mine, Lucretia...forever." 

 

"I really cannot believe the difference! When I first arrived at your home, I felt great sorrow for the woman forced to live in such conditions." Illithya states as she admires the newest piece of art in the villa, running her hands over the details of the sculpture. "Now, look at you!" 

Lucretia rolls her eyes while her back is turned, irritated by Illithya's observations.  

Can she not for one second keep her thoughts to herself? I wish she would just get on with the reason why she is here instead of making me suffer in her presence.  Lucretia twirls a tendril of hair around her finger and frowns as she looks at the blonde color.  

How I loathe this fucking thing. I wish I could be rid of it once and for all...  

Naevia made sure to make her hair dazzle; she weaved a piece of gold jewlery through her hair to match the gold within her blue dress. 

"You have many new friends as of late." Illithya notes. "You and Licinia seem close to one another." 

Jealous bitch. Lucretia thinks as she says nothing in response. She begins to walk past Illithya. "Would you care for some wine or---" 

Illithya reaches out and softly grabs her elbow. "Wine will not still my thoughts." Lucretia lifts a brow in question. "I have to admit that I cannot play indifference to what you revealed about Licinia." 

"I revealed nothing. You jumped to conclusions." Lucretia states. 

"And landed on proper footing. Ever since, I cannot think of nothing else."Illithya admits. 

"With respect, Licinia's passions are her own concern." 

Illithya smirks deviously. "My mind falls not to Licinia. It is filled with baser thoughts. The vision of brutish hands upon me. I know I shouldn't have such thoughts..." 

Hmm...I wonder if I should make this little arrangement  happen ? Quintus would be pleased that yet another noble woman would seek out his gladiators and fill his  purse..  

"Shall I make the arrangement?" Lucretia offers.  

Illithya turns away from her smiling widely at what she is about to do, the excitement of it all a rush to her. "Yes!" She exclaims. 

"You will not be disappointed." Lucretia assures as she walks and stands next to Illithya. "May I suggest Varro?" 

"Varro? Uh, far too common." Illithya declines. "The man must equal the risk." A sinking feeling settles in Lucretia's stomach; she knows where this is leading.  

Lucretia promises to make the arrangements for Illithya and watches as she exits the villa. As soon as she is gone, she storms off in a fit of rage towards the balcony and rips the blonde wig off of her head. Naevia chases after her in worry and watches as she runs to the side that faces the cliff and tosses it over the edge. She then turns and marches past Naevia, back to her bedroom. Naevia waits a moment before following her and hears something shatter and Lucretia yelling. "Get the fuck out!" She turns the corner and is nearly knocked over by two slaves fleeing out of the room. She watches silently as Lucretia overturns furniture and throws items across the room.  

Lucretia picks up a vase and hurls it into the wall, shattering it into pieces; the colored sand within it staining the wall red. She breathes heavily as she picks up another vase and shrieks as she throws it against the wall. Suddenly, Quintus storms into the room. 

"My ears suggest a tempest but my eyes reveal a wife gone fucking mad!" He yells as Lucretia pauses her movements to throw a hand mirror at the wall.  

"Yes! Well, look to Illithya for the cause!" She exclaims as she slams the mirror to the ground. Quintus reigns in his anger and blows out a breath.  

"What new slights have prompted this costly eruption?" 

"Her cunt overflows at the thought of Licinia bedding a gladiator!" She spat as Quintus plops down on the bed, taking in the damages she has caused. "She demands equal treatment, so she set her lust on Crixus!"  

"And her choice drives you into a rage?!" He questions as his voice rises in anger. 

Still shaking with rage, Lucretia tries to blame her anger on something else. "It is not her choice. It is her manner that offends!" She says as she begins to pace. " Honey drips from her tongue to conceal the bite of piss that she showers upon us!" She says angrily as she balls her hands into fists and hits the side of her legs in her rage. Angry tears roll down her face as Quintus watches her.  

"The acrid taste is well familiar, but we must learn to swallow it along with our pride until we have secured her husband's patronage!" He yells as he comes to stand behind her. She feels as though she is hyperventilating and takes deep breaths.  

She spins around to face him. "What need we have of Glaber? Licinia delivers us Marcus Crassus." 

"Crassus' wealth is undeniable, yet he but holds the rank of senator. Glaber outweighs with that of Legatus." She stares at him in disbelief. "The favor of both coin and title would speed our ambitions." 

"Your ambitions, Quintus!" She exclaims angrily. "I for one do not require more for my desires to be sated!" 

Quintus throws his hands in the air in frustration. "What?! You no longer desire to see our rise among proper Romans and our purse rise along with it?" 

"To rise, you would have me kneel!" She accuses vehemently.  

"One day we will give Illithya a lesson in manners. But for now, necessity dictates we give her Crixus and you will give him to her." He pulls her roughly by the neck and crushes his lips against hers and releases her with a small shove. "Now, calm yourself before I do it for you." He warns and leaves the room. "Clean this fucking mess up." He orders the slaves standing outside of the room and they rush in and start cleaning up the mess. 

Lucretia makes eye contact with Naevia, who has been silent through the entire exchange, and feels the anger dissipate from her body.   

Naevia walks over to her. "Domina, why don't we draw you a bath? It may help relax you." Lucretia just nods her head and lets Naevia lead her out of the bedroom and into the bathroom. Lucretia sits numbly as Naevia slowly and gently takes the covering off of her head, revealing shoulder length wavy, dark brown hair. She pulls Lucretia to her feet and helps her undress. The other slaves are coming in and out of the room as they fill the tub with hot water. Once they are finished, Naevia also undresses then leads Lucretia to the bath and eases her into the water. She slides in beside her and they sit in silence until Lucretia begins to cry. Naevia brings Lucretia's head down to her shoulder and rubs her arm soothingly.  

"I lost control of myself..." Lucretia sniffs. 

"A lot has happened in a moon, Lucretia. It was only a matter of time before your emotions would overtake you. 

"That horrible bitch demanding Crixus sent me over the edge of reason..." Lucretia lifts her head to look into Naevia's eyes. " I will not let her have him, Naevia. Whatever it takes, she will not know his touch." She promises and Naevia sees the fire return to her eyes for the first time since she was attacked.  

 

Lucretia is pleased with herself as she stands and waits for Spartacus to arrive. Naevia stands to the side and shakes her head. She tried to talk Lucretia out of doing it, but she just doesn't care anymore. Lucretia chose not to wear a wig and instead wears her hair naturally, the waves falling softly to her shoulders. Many women may no longer wish to associate with her because her hair will be considered barbaric and uncivilized.  

She laughs to herself as Spartacus steps into the room and she waves the guards off. Spartacus scrutinizes her, taking in her change of appearance.  

"What are you staring at?" 

He snaps out of it and responds, "Nothing, Domina. I just noticed you look different..." Lucretia says nothing as she motions for him to follow her. 

"You will be bedding a proper Roman woman. One far above your station." She informs him. "Even mine for that matter..."she mumbles to herself but Spartacus still heard her. Naevia trails behind them as they walk. "Do not offend her." 

"Yes, Domina." They stop in front of several slaves, most of which are nude.  

"They will prepare you for the festivities. Wait until summoned." He nods his head and walks towards the other slaves as Lucretia stands there smiling to herself.  

Spartacus' entire body is painted to look as though he is a golden God and a mask is placed over his face. He is lead to a room with a curtain and he stands there waiting for something to happen and flexes his fingers by his sides. Suddenly, the curtain parts and he can see the mystery woman across the room. She lounges on a couch and also wears a mask. Her long blonde hair flows down just above her perky breasts and she slowly stands from the couch. She slinks across the room towards him, careful not to trip over the step that leads into his area.  

She comes to a stop in front of him and her nipples are hard in arousal. She studies him for a moment before she seizes him against her and he rolls them to the bed. He has no doubt of her arousal and swiftly enters her and she gasps with pleasure. He roughly pounds into her as she moans loudly and then suddenly he is on his back and she is riding him wildly. Her nails scratch down his chest and he reaches up to cup her breasts and she throws her head back in pleasure. Spartacus continues to let her have control for a moment and then flips her onto her stomach and begins thrusting into her madly from behind; their skin clapping together at the force of contact.  

Lucretia stands in the room next door with Naevia, listening as the sounds of pleasure increase from the other room.  She is absolutely delighted and laughs to herself and looks at Naevia in amusement. Naevia can't help but laugh a little with her. 

"You are rubbing off on me, Lucretia." 

"Am I?" She says as she raises a brow. 

"I should not find humor in this but I can admit it is well deserved." A woman walks into the room and Lucretia cracks another smile as she takes the next step in her plan. She walks to the room where Spartacus is and throws open the curtain and feigns shock at the sight. Spartacus and the woman stop their motions as Lucretia stands there slack-jawed and another woman, dressed identical to the other, steps into view.  

Lucretia places her hand to her chest. "Apologies, Licinia. We appear to have arrived before Illithya is finished with Spartacus." The woman quickly turns to Spartacus and he snatches off her mask to reveal the mortified face of Illithya. She rips off his as well and they stare at each other in shock and confusion, which quickly gives way to rage as Spartacus yells and wraps his hands around her neck and squeezes tightly.  

"Guards!" Lucretia yells and they come running as Illithya struggles to breathe. They pull him off of her and she immediately begins coughing, trying to suck in as much air as she can to fill her lungs. Spartacus continues to struggle against the guards as he tries to reach her. One guard hits him over the head, instantly making him go limp as they drag him out of the room. Lucretia turns back to look at Illithya as Illithya turns to Licinia as she removes her mask.  

" Oh..would this not set every tongue in Rome wagging." She says as she begins to laugh. Illithya, horrified, turns to Lucretia who has a neutral look on her face. "The wife of Legatus Claudius Glaber fucking Spartacus, the man that nearly ruined him!" She exclaims joyously.  

"It is a scandal, is it not?" Lucretia says cruelly. Illithya feels panic spread throughout her body.  

"The most splendid I ever heard!" Licinia replies as uncontrollable laughter spills from her lips. 

"Stop laughing." Illithya demands quietly. "Stop laughing." Licinia ignores her demands and laughs harder at her embarrassment. Lucretia even cracks a small smile. "STOP LAUGHING!!" Illithya screams as she suddenly leaps from the bed, grabbing Licinia by the neck and hurls her to the floor, her face hitting the step. She begins to violently smash Licinia's head into the step repeatedly. "Stop laughing!" She screams as Lucretia and Naevia look on in horror. 

"Illithya!" Lucretia screams out but Illithya ignores her and continues her assault; bits of skull and brain splattering against the floor. She finally stops and releases Licinia and she falls to the ground in a bloody heap. Blood overflows the step, pouring onto the floor like rain and Illithya looks in horror at what she had just done. She holds her blood covered hands up and stares at them. Lucretia runs around the bed and stands next to Illithya, shock coursing through her veins.  

Well, I certainly was not expecting this to be the outcome of tonight's events. Quintus is going to be mad with rage ..... fuck.  

 

A few hours later, Licinia has been disposed of and the evidence from the attack has been erased. Quintus is pacing furiously in front of Lucretia while she stands silently watching him.  

"What were you thinking?!" He demands lividly.  

"She slights me at every turn. I wished only to teach her a lesson."  

"By pairing her with Spartacus?!" 

"If my husband will not defend my honor, I am forced to do it myself!" He accuses angrily. Quintus stares at her for a moment before he lashes out and strikes the wall beside her head she cries out in fear.  

Did he mean to strike me? He has never been this angry before...  

"Honor?" He says as he leans in closer to her face and she turns it away from him. "Is that why the cousin to Marcus Crassus lies dead in my fucking house?!" 

"It was not my intent!" She says as she begins to regain control of herself.  

"Your intent matters for nothing!" He spat before turning away from her. "Oh fuck!" He exclaims as he punches a nearby column. "We are undone!" 

"No...Licinia came alone. She told no one of her purpose." 

Quintus ponders this for a moment. "No one?" 

Lucretia nods her head. "Not even her slaves. There is nothing to connect her with our house!" She says as she steps closer to him. 

He begins to calm down. "What of Illithya?" He questions. 

"Oh, I'll take care of her." She answers with a smirk. She turns to walk away and he grabs her by the elbow.  

"How come you aren't wearing your hair properly?" 

"I only just removed the wig before you arrived. The blood needs to be washed from it." She lies easily as he releases her.  

They both walk a little further into the bathroom to see Illithya staring off while sitting in the bathtub. Lucretia walks in while Quintus hovers at the doorway for a moment before walking off to see Spartacus. Illithya slowly stands up and exits the bathtub and makes her way over to a chair and says nothing while Lucretia watches her silently. After a moment, she finally speaks. 

"I-I did not mean..." She says as she begins to sob. Lucretia moves next to her and rubs her shoulder and back.  

"No. Of course you didn't." Lucretia responds as if she were speaking to a child.  

Illithya sniffs. "The way sh-she laughed at me.." She pauses for a moment as if she were remembering something. "You said I was to lie with Crixus." She turns to look at Lucretia, betrayal shining in her eyes. "Why did you give me Spartacus? Why would you do such a thing?" Lucretia says nothing as she stares at Illithya with cold, unfeeling eyes and Illithya breaks down and falls against her as her sobbing resumes. Lucretia holds her to her chest and rocks her. "Shhh..." 

"My husband will see me dead for this. You have killed me!" She whispers fearfully.  

Lucretia tips Illithya's head up to meet her eyes. "No. I've brought us closer...just as you always seemed to have desired. No one will ever know what happened here tonight. Licinia's body will never be found. You are protected." 

"No..."Illithya whispers. "They will know. They will see the deed in my eyes." 

"Then you will stay here with me until your eyes are clear." Illithya seems to relax at this. "Although, this is all for Quintus and not me." She tenses at the cold tone of Lucretia's voice. Lucretia bends down until she is staring directly into Illithya's frightened eyes. "Make no mistake, I give no shit about you, Illithya." She whispers cruelly.  

Illithya begins to cry again. "B-but I thought--" 

Lucretia chuckles. "You thought wrong. You really think I desired your friendship after the way you have treated me? I am nothing but improper shit in your eyes. Someone to use to sate your needs when you should desire something." She smiles even though her tone is cruel as she wipes the tears from Illithya's cheeks. She sighs. "Well, I shouldn't have to tell you that the winds have changed in my favor. Now, it is I who controls you." She says as she taps Illithya on the nose.  

"Whatever my desires or Quintus desires, you shall fulfill them and should you not..well." Lucretia shrugs. "Your husband and all of Rome will find out about your betrayal and your little incident with Licinia. Do you understand?" She asks and Illithya nods fearfully, truly realizing how much she underestimated Lucretia and the level of her cruelty.  Lucretia smiles at her and leans down and kisses her on the lips. She pulls back from the kiss and smiles down at her. "Then this is our little secret." 

 

A couple of days later, Naevia is finishing helping Lucretia with her jewelry when Quintus walks in the bedroom. "Lucretia! Tell me you are ready to depa--" he trails off as he takes in her appearance. "What is the meaning of this?" 

"Of what?" She asks innocently.  

"You know what." He grinds out. " I cannot have you walking in public like this! I thought you said not wearing your hair properly was a temporary measure as you waited for your wig to be cleaned?" 

"I may have exaggerated that a little. I find that I like my hair this way." 

"Well, I don't and I won't be seen with you. Fix your hair." 

"Then I guess I just won't be seen, Quintus." She says stubbornly. "Ever." 

He groans in aggravation. "Damn you. We don't have time for this! You know this isn't going to go over well with the Magistrate, so you better amp up your charm." He storms out of the room and Lucretia chuckles to herself as she runs her hand through her hair. 

"Lucretia, if I may ask, what do you intend to do? This will surely push you out of whatever social circles you have become a part of." Naevia asks. Lucretia takes Naevia's hand in hers. 

"Naevia, too much has happened in recent times to worry about others. I will not have people dictate my life, not anymore. After everything that happened with....with Ashur, I have decided to take back control of my life." 

Naevia squeezes her hand and smiles. "I'll be here no matter what you decide." 

Lucretia smiles. " I wouldn't have it any other way. Now, to appease Quintus, I should wear the veil used to block the sun. No one will really scrutinize what lies beneath the veil." 

 

The men are training hard into the evening when the gates open and reveal Spartacus and Varro returning from their success in the arena. The men halt their sparring and begin cheering madly at their arrival. They receive several pats on the back and handshakes as they make their way through the ludus. Spartacus walks past Crixus and he feels a hard pat on his back. He stops and turns his head to look at Crixus, who is smirking at him. Spartacus nods his head at him with a slight smile as he and Varro continue to walk inside towards the dining area.  

 

Lucretia has just arrived back from the games with Quintus and Naevia. She let Naevia go have a moment alone with Tyronius should he be able to slip away and Quintus walks towards his office to meet with Ashur to count his coin from the victory. She smells an incense burning and walks towards the smell. She quickly draws back a curtain to a room and finds Illithya sitting in a chair staring at the wall across the room.  

"Your absence was noticed." She says in annoyance.  

"Absence?" 

"From the games. You were supposed to join us." Lucretia reminds her. 

"I could not face prying eyes. One look into mine and they would have full knowledge." Illithya begins to tear up. "Licinia's blood...her skull steeped between my fingers--" 

"Jupiter's cock! Would you come to grips?" Lucretia shouts, making Illithya jump in fright.  She sits beside her and Illithya looks away. " Licinia's murder has been concealed. There is no reason for you to continue to wallow in fear."  

"What would you have me do?"Illithya asks as her voice shakes. Lucretia roughly grabs her chin, turning her face towards her.  

"Appear yourself! The Magistrate is holding his son's upcoming birthday celebration in our home and it provides the perfect opportunity for you. I will be present to steady your resolve." She says as she releases her chin. 

"You will guide me through this?" Illithya asks disbelievingly.  

Lucretia smirks devilishly at her. "As a trusted friend." She says emphasizing the word as if it were true. " In return, I require favor. We would swell the ranks of the celebration with these noble citizens." She says as she takes Illithya's hand and plops a list that Quintus wrote in her palm. "I am certain they would accept invitation from the daughter of Senator Albinius.  

Illithya frowns at her and Lucretia laughs. "Gather yourself."she says as she grabs hold of Illithya's chin again and jerks her face close to hers. "See it done." She demands and releases her hold on her as she stands and exits the room.  

 

Down below, most of the men have gathered in the bathroom to clean themselves after a hard day of training. Spartacus has finished and see the Crixus has too as he watches him exit the room. Varro has just stepped into the pool of water and Spartacus decides to seek out Crixus. He quickly catches up with him in the hall. 

"Crixus!" Spartacus calls out and Crixus stops walking and turns around. 

"Spartacus." He says in greeting.  

"I've noticed where your eyes have been travelling to." Spartacus states, getting right to the point. 

"I'm not sure if I understand your meaning?" Crixus questions in confusion.  

"The woman that holds your heart." 

"Yes, we've had conversation of this before.." 

"No, I was wrong in my assumptions and now I---" their conversation is interrupted as a guard approaches. 

"Spartacus, Crixus. You have been summoned." They look at each other and follow the guard. 

 

"We are to fight each other?" Spartacus asks with slight confusion after Quintus tells them the reason they have been summoned.  

"Yes. The Magistrates's son, Numerius, has chosen. He insisted on drinking in the spectacle of present glories pitted against the past." Quintus tell them as he turns around to face them.  

"And his thirst shall be satisfied, Dominus." Crixus replies. 

"Keep to mind this is exhibition. Blood may be spilled but only for show. Serious punishment will be dealt out to the man who causes them. Spartacus nods his understanding. 

"We shall serve you with honor, Dominus." He and Crixus grasp each other's forearm in respect as brothers.  

Quintus is pleased. "I expect no less. Return to quarters." He orders. Both men nod and make their way out of his office but he reaches out a hand as Spartacus passes. "Spartacus remain." Spartacus halts his steps and turns to face him. "What make you of Crixus? Numerius insisted upon him yet with his wounds barely sealed..." 

"He believes himself ready." 

"To a fault." 

"To which I am inclined to agree with him." 

Quintus's brows shoot up in surprise. "You really believe him to be ready?" 

Spartacus nods. "With all due respect, Dominus, you have not been present in recent days to observe training. He has done very well and shows no pain nor discomfort at his swift movements." 

Quintus nods. "Then make it a great show, yeah?" 

 

Lucretia is removing her jewelry while Quintus prepares for bed.  

"You trust Illithya not to come unhinged in front of the Magistrate?" He asks. 

"I shall keep watchful eyes upon her." 

"More watchful than the last, I pray." 

Lucretia huffs in annoyance. "Everything worked to our advantage. Illithya is in our debt and through collection we gained access to the most noble of families." 

"She attends to the list?" Quintus asks with surprise.  

"She will draw all to the Magistrate's celebration." Naevia quickly fills a cup of wine and hands it to Quintus as he approaches.  

"After the match between Spartacus and Crixus has ignited his son, I will broach the Magistrate on subject of political office." He says as he quickly drains the cup of wine. He tosses the empty cup to a nearby slave. "To behold Solonius' face when he sees me consort with the highest echelon of Capua..." He says as he moves to briefly hover over Lucretia before rolling to his side, positioning himself behind her.  She frowns and tenses briefly before quickly removing the frown from her face and responds to him. 

"Solonius? Well, how would he witness such a thing?" She questions. 

"By invitation. I desire his eyes upon me when I am anointed by the Magistrate." Lucretia moves to lay on her back, subtlety moving away from him. "I want him to see that as my fortune rises, his plummet." He finishes and rests his hand on her hip. 

She looks at him for a moment before speaking. "You taunt an injured snake. One that may yet turn and strike." 

"Ease your mind. The serpent's head will be struck from its body in due course." He flops onto his back and chuckles. "And Solonius will never see it coming!" 

 

The next day, Quintus is away making preparations with the Magistrate for his event and the men are once again training heavily. Crixus is paired with Duro and the latter of the pair has improved since the last they sparred. Ashur sulks in the shadows and watches Crixus intently. He is a little on edge because he hasn't been able to bother Lucretia since that blonde slag came to the villa. He walks off after a moment of watching Crixus.  

Spartacus and Varro are paired together and begin sparring. "So, you and Crixus battling as entertainment, eh?" Varro asks as he continuously swings at Spartacus, who blocks every hit. "Something the boy will never forget." 

"It is only exhibition." Spartacus replies as he begins to thrust his sword at Varro and Varro raises his sword to clash with his at every swing. "Dominus gave strict instruction to avoid grievous injury."  

Lucretia and Naevia walk out onto the balcony to watch the men practice. Lucretia watches Crixus and Naevia watches Tyronius. Crixus has moved to the practice post and is swinging his sword furiously into the wood when he feels eyes upon him. He turns to face the balcony and he swears all breath has flown from his body. There stands Lucretia in a light green dress with red trimming and her chocolate brown hair sits on her shoulder in waves.   

She stands as if she herself is a Goddess among men. She has never looked so beautiful.  he thinks to himself. They share a secret smile before he breaks his stare, making sure no one noticed and resumes his training. Tyronius notices the women standing on the balcony and catches Naevia's eye. She gives him a little wave and smile and he smiles back and nods his head in her direction. 

"Your Gaul is restored." Lucretia startles at the sudden sound of Illithya's voice as she joins them on the balcony. She ignores her and continues to watch Crixus. " The Magistrate's celebration tomorrow will swell with the names you provided me." 

Lucretia takes her eyes off Crixus to look at Naevia. "Very good." She notices Illithya's gaze swoop over her appearance. "Is there something you would like to say?" 

Illithya's eyes hardened for just a moment. "As you know, these are respected nobles attending the celebration and I was simply curious about your recent change of appearance." She finishes with a little smirk looking at Lucretia's hair. Lucretia laughs at her and her smirk falls. Crixus hears her laughter ring out over the training grounds and he takes a quick glance at her and it brings a smile to his face.  

Lucretia places a hand over her heart. " Oh, dear. As I've said before, I give no shit what anyone thinks of me. Quintus cares and wants to rise to the top and I shall see it done." 

Illithya scoffs. "Surely, you realize that with you going out into public like this, it will hurt any chance he has to rise?" She says as she looks out to the sands.  

"Things change, Illithya. All it takes is time." Lucretia says looking to Illithya and notices her intense stare at Spartacus and Varro, intent swimming in her eyes. 

Must keep a watchful eye upon her  she thinks to herself as she turns back to  watc h   Crixus  

 

The day of the celebration has arrived and Lucretia cannot wait for the day to be over with. Quintus rose earlier than she did to prepare himself for the day and to see to all of the details of the celebration. She has just slipped into a stunning blue gown that is trimmed with maroon and glistens when she moves. Naevia arrives with fresh fruit for breakfast and sighs in exasperation when she sees Lucretia. She sets the bowl of fruit down on a table and walks over to her and places her hands on Lucretia's shoulders and gently pushes her down onto a stool so she can fix her hair. 

"You should have let me help prepare you for the day, Lucretia." 

"I can dress myself, Naevia." She responds with a roll of her eyes. "Besides, you are assisting with my hair and you can also see to my jewelry." 

"What if Dominus saw you getting ready by yourself?" 

"He is too busy seeing to the details of the celebration." They lapse into silence as Naevia brushes her hair and then smiles to herself.  

Lucretia notices and smiles back. "What? What are you smiling at?" 

"I've just noticed that some of your fire has returned of late and I'm glad for it. You seem more like yourself." 

"Not dealing with Ashur has given me some of my strength back and I don’t think it will fade again. A part of me will always be damaged for what he has done to me but with you and Crixus by my side, it is something I find I can bear." 

Naevia smiles at her as she continues to style her hair. She weaves her hair into a loose bun, her natural waves adding an elegant look and she pins it in place with gold hairpins. She knows Lucretia does not desire a complicated style so she stops there with her styling. She wraps a thin gold band around the top of her head and wraps it around the bun, draping it over the bun and lets it hang over one side to let the tassel hang freely. She helps Lucretia slide her arm into a gold arm bracelet that wraps around her upper arm. Lucretia grabs a few gold bracelets and slides them onto her wrists. She rubs her bare neck and a look of sadness crosses her face and Naevia notices.  

"Would you like to wear something in its place?" 

"N-no." She whispers softly. "I'd rather go without." She stands from the stool and walks over to the bowl of fruit and picks up a strawberry. She has just taken a bite when Quintus walks into the room. 

He sighs heavily. "I guess your hair will do. You need to use your magnificent charm tonight to make up for it. You know how important this is, Lucretia." 

"I do." She agrees as she takes another bite of strawberry.  

"Then why do you continue to go out into public like this?" 

She quickly swallows her food. "Because it should not matter what my hair looks like, Quintus." 

"It shouldn't, but it does and you know that." He says as he stands in front of her and places his hands on her hips. "Your stubbornness drives me mad yet it is one of the reasons I love you." 

She laughs lightly. "And I you." He gives her a small kiss before reaching around her to steal a grape from the bowl and pops it into his mouth. "You do look ravishing, Lucretia." 

"Gratitude." 

"The Magistrate and his family should be arriving any moment now. Shall we?" He says and Lucretia loops her arm with his and they exit the bedroom. 

 

"Magistrate Calavius!" Quintus greets with open arms. "The House of Batiatus welcomes you on this glorious day! A young boy enters my doors but leaves a man!" Calavius's wife, Domitia, walks to Lucretia and greets her with a small kiss to her cheek.  

"Lucretia! I see that you wear a new hairstyle. I think you are simply radiant." she compliments. 

"Gratitude! I did not know you appreciated such a simple look." 

Domitia scoffs. "It isn't as if you are walking around with no hair!" Lucretia looks over to Quintus to see him watching their exchange, She mouths I told you to him and he grins at her.  

Calavius moves closer to Quintus and whispers in his ear. "I would never let my wife into public looking like that. Have you not put your foot down?" 

"I let her think she can do as she pleases for now. I will soon have conversation with her." Calavius nods his approval as he steps away and changes the subject back to the celebration.  

"Gratitude for your hospitality. We are in your debt." 

"As we all are." A voice chimes in, the click of heels following it. 

"Illithya!" Domitia exclaims excitedly as she moves to kiss her on the cheek in greeting. " I'd begun to fear for your health!" 

"A momentary lapse. I've been tended to with the most compassionate care within these walls." She replies and looks to Lucretia. 

"Where are the gladiators?" Numerius asks excitedly.  

"Guards! Escort young Numerius to the training grounds. Right this way." Quintus orders s the guards escort Numerius out of the room.  

"Have you ever witnessed a view from their balcony?" Illithya asks. "It simply overwhelms the senses." 

"Come! Let us gaze upon Capua's perfection." Lucretia says as the women link arms and walk towards the balcony. The two men are left alone and Calavius gets a curious look upon his face.  

"Illithya resides with you?" 

"For a moment. A valued friend." Quintus responds as Mira supplies them with wine filled cups.  

"With connection to the senate in both husband and father. Valued indeed." Calavius agrees. 

"One must choose one's company with exceeding care." Quintus says. 

"Or be dragged down by them." Calavius says.  

 

The celebration is well underway; women are dancing sensually and the noble people of Rome are filled with food and wine as conversations fills the room. The gladiators are lined up against the wall waiting for Crixus and Spartacus to step in as entertainment. Caecilia and Aemilia spot Illithya from across the room and rush towards her. 

"Illithya!" They both call out and she turns towards them with a smile and giggles as they each hug her and kiss her cheek. 

"You two seem rather excited about something. What gossip do you seek to spread?" 

"Licinia has completely vanished!" Aemilia says in disbelief. Illithya feels her heart begin to race. " She slipped away in the night, absent slaves and not seen since."  

"Her husband is mad with worry!" Caecilia adds. Lucretia moves in as she hears their topic of conversation. 

"A proper woman should never travel without escort." She says feigning shock at the news and looking at Illithya as she wonders where she has been. She has been looking for her for quite some time. 

"Her good cousin, good Crassus, has offered substantial reward for her discovery." Caecilia informs the women. " Larger still towards punishment if harm has been done." 

"But who would wish such a thing upon a relation of Crassus?" Lucretia asks. "Why, that would be madness!" 

Illithya, who has been quiet through the conversation speaks up. "It is revelation what we are capable of when pushed to the brink." 

"Or pulled." Lucretia says and all three women look at her curiously. " Well, there can only be one cause to slip out in the night absent slaves or husbands." Lucretia says scandalously as she takes a sip of wine. All but Illithya perk up at the anticipation of the gossip. 

"She is married to a fat little man, who sprouts hair as if beast." Aemilia says and all but Illithya giggle. 

"Who could blame her?" Lucretia says as the women continue to laugh. She looks at Illithya and notices her staring at the floor with a look of horror upon her face. Just as she was about to intervene, a much unwanted voice cuts through their conversation. 

"I fear Rome must be absent her beauty..for tonight, the jewels of the Republic stand glittering before me in Capua." Solonius says as he slithers next to Lucretia. As she was about to respond, Quintus unknowingly comes to her rescue and begins speaking to Solonius and she motions to the women to follow her away from the men. Caecilia and Aemilia are still giggling at the gossip that was interrupted.  

Later, Quintus begins his speech to honor Numerius in celebration. "Tonight, the House of Batiatus is humbled to help celebrate a most glorious occasion! The son of Magistrate Calavius casts off the robes of a boy and becomes a proper Roman man!" He says and everyone claps for the young boy as he steps forward. "Yet, before he dons the Toga Virilis, let us honor him with sport and blood! A contest between present and the past!" Illithya smirks to herself as her plan is about to come to fruition. "Spartacus, Champion of Capua! Step forward! Crixus, former Champion! Step forward!" Quintus demands and the room claps for both gladiators. Oenomaus steps to the men.  

"Honor the boy. Honor the ludus." He says with pride as he hands them their weapons.  Illithya frowns as she realizes the boy didn't do as she said. Maybe he will still heed her other suggestion and this makes it even better.  

"Come Numerius! These men, these titans of the arena, await your command!" Quintus says and stands next to the boy.  

"Let us give them a show." Spartacus says to Crixus as they separate to opposite ends of the room. Numerius raises his arm and pauses for a moment before bringing it down.  

"Begin!" He commands and they start their battle.  Spartacus swings first and Crixus blocks the move with his shield and steps away as Spartacus swings again with his other sword. Crixus strikes out and Spartacus ducks under his blade and blocks the oncoming blow with his sword.  Crixus swings from above his head and brings the sword down just as Spartacus rolls out of the way and the crowd gasps at the move and both men smile; enjoying their sparring match.  Spartacus swings both swords at Crixus, who backs away and dodges under a blade as Spartacus swings again; he leaves an opening for Crixus to land a hit and he lightly slices his side.  

Crixus looks at the blood on his sword and Spartacus shakes his head in amusement as he inspects his wound. The crowd is pleased with the fight so far and claps at the show of blood. Crixus charges at Spartacus and every hit is blocked and he goes in for another swipe with his sword when Spartacus spins from his attack and brings the hilt of his sword down upon the back of his head.  He grabs the back of his head and winces and Spartacus chuckles.  Spartacus gets in a fighting stance as Crixus swings his shield at his head. He ducks and as he rises, he punches Crixus in the face and it knocks him to the floor. 

"Yes!" Numerius shouts in excitement. 

Crixus is not able to get to his feet right away and Spartacus advances towards him, swiftly alternating his swords as he swings. Crixus blocks all of the hits with his shield and rolls out of Spartacus' path as he quickly gets to his feet.  They both deliver a few more hits, each blow blocked by the other, and Crixus tries to punch Spartacus in the face. Spartacus grabs his shield and throws it across the room and he tries to hit Spartacus with his sword. Spartacus uses both of his swords to deflect the blow and uses them to rip the sword from Crixus' hands and throws it over his shoulder. He punches Crixus in the face and grabs him by the neck and pushes him down to his knees. He holds the sword to Crixus' neck and looks to Numerius for instruction since he is considered the editor for the night.  He and Crixus planned for him to be the victor for the boy since he favors Spartacus.  The crowd begins to clap and cheer at the show they put on and Crixus shakes his head in amusement as he raises two fingers in surrender and can feel Spartacus shake as he chuckles.  

"Spartacus! Still Champion of Capua! And Crixus, the mighty Former Champion! Come Numerious. Pass judgement on our fallen warrior! Numerius smiles as he raises his hand and waits a moment before making his decision. He turns his hand as he gives a thumbs down.  The crowd begins murmuring as they wonder what will be done. Spartacus and Crixus look to each other in confusion. 

"I thought this was just an exhibition?" Crixus whispers worriedly.  

"It is!" Spartacus whispers back and looks to Quintus for an answer.  

A cold pit of dread fills Lucretia's stomach as she gasps. Illithya smirks cruelly from her position as well as Ashur, who finds their predicament hilarious. Lucretia sees Illithya's reaction and instantly burns with rage. She looks at Numerius then back to Illithya as everything falls into place in her mind. 

So that is where she disappeared to earlier ....planting  idea's in the boy's head.   

Quintus scratches the side of his mouth. "Apologies, Magistrate. It was agreed this was an exhibition only. Not a fight to the death."  

There is a long pause before Calavius answers. "If it were me, I would just receive coin in place of the man's life but I am a man who honors his agreements. He will not be killed." 

"But Father---" Numerius protests.  

"Move along , Numerius." Numerius closes his mouth and nods as he walks away towards his friends. They are amazed he got a fight in his honor and this lifts his spirits. Illithya is silently fuming as her plan falls apart.  Spartacus helps Crixus to his feet and the two are escorted by the guards to the medicus and the other gladiators are sent back to their quarters.  

The celebration is winding down and Calavius and Quintus are walking together. " I am forever indebted to your hospitality, Batiatus." Calavius says.  

"Think nothing of it. A favor for a dear friend." Quintus responds. Calavius looks around and spots his son across the room talking animatedly with his friends.  

"He calls for blood without question! Such boldness will one day lead him to the senate!" Calavius states proudly.  

"The noblest of ambitions. I myself have designs towards political office." He mentions.  

"Is that so?" 

"Well, not the senate. Not so soon., but something local.  I would speak to you of support, perhaps tomorrow." Quintus suggests.  

"I leave for the coast on business." Calavius informs. 

"Well, when you return then." Quintus replies insistently.  

Calavius chuckles. "Politics is too dull for a man of your persuasion! You would ache for the sights and sounds of the arena." 

"A sacrifice I would gladly make in the service to Rome." 

Calavius gives him a look before speaking. "Batiatus, you are a fine lanista. Perhaps the finest in all the Republic.  But politics...it requires a different sort." 

"Citizens of status, with the proper heritage." Solonius says as he cuts into the conversation.  

"Just so." Calavius agrees. "Relish what you know best.  Leave politics for the men with breeding for it." Quintus clenches his jaw and says nothing. " Come, good Solonius! We have not had occasion to speak this evening." Calavius says as he and Solonius walk away. Quintus bores holes into the backs of their heads as Lucretia walks up to him.  

"The Magistrate's response?" She asks in regards to him having a place in politics.  

"To be answered in blood." Quintus responds angrily before walking off. Lucretia stares after him, hoping that she misunderstood what he was saying.  

 

In the medicus' room, Spartacus and Crixus sit on the table getting treated as Varro and Tyronius enter the room.  

"You two put on one hell of a show. " Varro said.  

"Yes, but what of that decision in the end? I thought this was for exhibition?" Tyronius asks.  

"That little shit nearly had me killed!" Crixus says, still in disbelief.  

"I would not have done so if the decision were to stick." Spartacus stated. 

"You would if the Dominus ordered it so." Varro replies.  

"He speaks the truth. You would not have had a choice." Crixus says. 

Spartacus grunts as the medicus finishes with the stitches in his side. "There is always a choice."  

"So, you would be an idiot and fall with him?" Tyronius asks.  

"My hero." Crixus says with a chuckle and Spartacus punches his arm as all the men laugh. 

"We are all brothers, are we not?" Spartacus asks and Crixus nods his head.  

"That we are." He agrees. 

Varro shakes his head in amusement. "Never would I have thought I would see the day that you two fucks would get along."  

"Respect is always the first step" Tyronius says and they all nod in agreement.  

"Well, sleep calls my name. Glad you two aren't fucking dead." Varro says  as he stretches and exits the room. 

"Mine as well. Good battle, you two." Tyronius says as he follows after Varro.  

Once they leave, the mediucs finishes tending their wounds and sends them on their way. They walk silently through the hall and Crixus decides to voice his thoughts. 

"I wonder what made the boy do such a thing? He knew this was not a fight to the death." Criuxs says. 

Spartacus is silent before he replies. " I think I know why."  

"What are your thoughts?" 

"I believe that Glaber's whore wife had something to do with it. The look upon her face as she thought you were going to die..." 

"Why would she want me dead?" 

"I'm not certain about you. I believe she also wants to see me dead, more than usual. That is a tale for another day." 

"One I hope to hear soon." Crixus replies and they lapse into silence as they continue to walk towards their quarters. Crixus arrives at his quarters and nods at Spartacus as he opens the door and steps inside. He walks to the bed and flops down sighing heavily. 

I am intrigued as to what Spartacus thinks about all of this. Hopefully thought will spill from his tongue soon. I hope Lucretia is okay after witnessing me nearly face death once more .....

Chapter Text

CHANGE OF HEART   

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within the story; they all belong to the creative minds of Renaissance Pictures and Starz. I did borrow dialogue and scenes from the show.  

########################################################################################################################

CHAPTER TEN:  LOSING IT ALL  

 

Illithya smiles and closes her eyes as she sinks further into the water, enjoying a warm bath before her husband's guards arrive to escort her back to Rome. Happiness radiates from her at the thought of leaving the villa and being far away from Lucretia. A contented sigh escapes from her lips as she slowly opens her eyes and looks at the slave next to her.  

"Help me out of the tub." She demands and the slave bows her head and steps out first then turns and grabs Illithya's hand and pulls her out of the water. Water drips down her body and hits the stone floor as she stands there waiting for the slave to start drying her off.  

"Thought you could leave without saying goodbye?" Illithya gasps at the sudden intrusion of the voice and turns around to find Lucretia standing across the room with an unreadable expression on her face. Lucretia walks slowly towards Illithya until she is standing directly in front of her. "Get out." Lucretia orders the slaves in the room and they all hurry out of the room.  

Illithya finally finds her voice. "O-of course not. I was simply washing up before I depart." Lucretia fixes her with a piercing gaze and says nothing. Suddenly, she lashes out and strikes Illithya hard on the face. Illithya cries out at the impact as she falls to the floor holding her hand to her cheek. Lucretia doesn't hesitate as she swiftly bends down and drags Illithya up by her neck and slams her against the wall.  

"Did you think I would not notice?" She snarls as her hand tightens around Illithya's neck. Illithya tries to speak but only a strangled noise escapes her lips as she struggles to breathe. "Nevermind that you put my home at risk because of your lack of control, but you tried to have Crixus and Spartacus killed!" She releases her hold on her neck and Illithya begins coughing harshly, desperately sucking in air as she falls to the floor. "You will do as I say or the consequences will be dire. You will secure patronage from your husband." She threatens before turning and marching out of the room, leaving a naked Illithya on the floor.  

 

After Illithya departs, Lucretia goes in search of Quintus and finds him pacing angrily in his office and pauses in the doorway and watches him for a moment.  

"Calavius shits upon my ambitions and mocks me in my own house! Fuck!" He swears angrily. 

"Quintus?" She says as she steps into the room to interrupt his raving.  

Quintus turns to look at her. "He will pay for his insolence." 

"He is a Magistrate!" She exclaims with wide eyes. "To move against him..." 

"He is but a man! And all men fall beneath the heel of their hubris." 

She can't believe he is actually considering harming Calavius. "Quintus...." 

"Turn thoughts toward other matters." He demands. "What of Illithya? Does she move to secure her husband's patronage?" 

She nods. "She has departed for Rome to meet Glaber."  

Quintus sighs with relief. "Welcome news. The support of a Legatus should be more than enough to gain political office. I only regret Calavius will not live to see the "unworthy" name of Batiatus so elevated." 

"The very thought of discovery turns the stomach." She says as she begins to pale. Quintus steps closer to her. 

"Make it a thing of iron and see it settled." He suggests and walks away. She watches his retreating form as her nausea continues to grow.  

 

After training with Crixus to prepare for the games the next morning, Spartacus calls it a night and decides to go to his quarters. He hears laughter as he walks past a room and suddenly stops in his tracks. He backs up a few steps to look inside and his eyes narrow at what he sees. Laying on a bed, lies the man that brought Sura to the village. He is surrounded by several topless slave girls and Mira is among them. He saw a flash of the skin on the man's belly and his eyes widen as he is sure of what he saw or rather didn't see. He locks eyes with Mira and nods his head towards his room and she nods in return. A while later, he is lounging on his bed when his door creaks open and Mira steps inside. Her cheeks are aflame with shame as she keeps her head lowered and she waits for him to speak.  

"Why do you not set your gaze upon me?" He asked. 

"Because I am ashamed that you saw me like that." 

"While I did not enjoy seeing you with that man, I am glad that you were there. He was the one who arrived with Sura and claimed they were attacked while on the road." Spartacus informs her and he takes a breath as he continues. "I am not sure of what I saw but he says he was greatly wounded while fighting off the attackers. If you lay with him again, can you look for any sign of a wound upon his belly?" Mira nods her head but remains silent. Spartacus slowly stand and walks towards her and stops directly in front of her. He reaches out and gently grasps her by the chin and lifts her face to meet his. 

"You have my gratitude." He says as he looks deeply into her eyes and he leans forward and places a kiss on her forehead. 

"Anytime." She replies softly as she gives him a small smile.  

 

Lucretia and Quintus sit with the Magistrate's family and the host of the games, Pompii, the following day. Spartacus is set to fight against Pompii's men in the games. Calavius is mysteriously absent and Lucretia looks at Quintus suspiciously. He was gone for a long while the previous day and she believes it had something to do with his plans for Calavius. She feels another wave of nausea come over her and takes a deep breath to try to rid herself of it. She has been feeling under the weather all morning and wonders if it was something she ate. Pompii grows agitated at waiting for Calavius to show up. 

"I cannot wait any longer. We must continue on without the presence of good Magistrate Calavius." 

Domita sighs. "Very well. Quintus, will you do the honors?" Quintus nods and smiles as he stands and begins addressing the crowd. Lucretia takes a sip of wine as she listens to Quintus introduce Spartacus to the roar of the crowd. Once he finishes the introductions, he gives the command to begin fighting and she stands to clap for him when, suddenly, she grows light headed and falls back to her chair.  

"Lucretia!" Domita gasps in concern. Naevia bends down next to her with a cup of water and removes the cup of wine from her hand. "Are you alright?" Quintus bends down on the other side of her and cups her cheek, 

"I-I'm fine." She stammers out as her vision still blurs. Pompii just takes in the scene with mild concern before turning his attention back to the men fighting.  

"I want you to go back to the villa and rest." 

"I'm fine, Quintus. Truly." She protests.  

"Lucretia, you are clearly under the weather. I will join you at the villa later." He responds as he caresses her cheek with his thumb. Lucretia nods her head and relents as Naevia helps her to her feet and leads her away from the balcony.  

 

After the fight is over, Spartacus returns to the ludus and is making his way to the medicus room to have some wounds tended to. He encounters Mira on his way there. 

"Spartacus!" He walks towards her and places his hand upon her shoulders, rubbing his thumbs across them. 

"Mira." He responds in greeting. "Did you see it? Did you see any proof of a wound?" 

She shakes her head sadly. "I did not." Spartacus removes his hands from her shoulders and begins walking again. "Wait!" She exclaims as she reaches out and grabs him by the wrist. "Aulus is in the room. He had to receive treatment for a wound on his neck." Spartacus says nothing as he pulls her along with him to the medicus room. They arrive at the entryway for the medicus room and the man is laying on a table sleeping peacefully. 

"Wait out in the hall and warn me if anyone approaches." Spartacus says as he turns to look at Mira.  

"Alright..." She agrees, sounding unsure as she turns and walks back into the hall.  Spartacus turns and walks further into the room and stops next to the sleeping man and studies him. He grows tired of watching him and he reaches out and slowly lifts his shirt, just to make sure. His blood runs cold when he sees there isn’t a mark upon the man's skin.  

Aulus stirs from his sleep. "What are you doing?!" He demands angrily. Spartacus moves quickly and pins his forearm across his neck.  

"Tell me what happened! Tell me!" He shouts.  

"Take your hands off me!" Aulus chokes out and Spartacus presses harder.  

"My wife, Sura! The slave you were transporting from Neapolis. Tell me what happened to her!"  

"We...we were attacked on the road. They tried to get to her but---" 

Spartacus cuts him off. "Where is your wound?! Where is the wound you earned while trying to save my wife?" 

"G-g-gu-guard!" Aulus attempts to call out in the hopes that someone would hear him.  Spartacus puts him in a chokehold and squeezes his neck tightly.  

"Tell me! Tell me!" 

"I only did....as commanded." He gasps out. 

"Who spoke the words that took her life? Who?!" 

"B-b-Ba..."  

Spartacus squeezes harder and can hear Aulus struggling to breathe. "Who?!" 

"Ba-Batiatus." He manages to choke out. Spartacus is consumed with rage and squeezes so tight that he crushes his windpipe. He begins to choke on his own blood as a strangled gurgle forces its way past his bloodied lips. Spartacus is breathing heavily as he tried to reign in his rage. He arranges Aulus to make it seem like he passed away in his sleep.  

The morning arrives quickly and Spartacus is up as early as possible to begin his training. His mind is consumed with thoughts of revenge and how he will achieve it. With every strike against the training post he imagines cutting into Quintus. He desperately wants to end his life and begins striking faster, a yell piercing the air with every hit.  

"Spartacus!" He hears his name fall from Quintus' lips and he stops his training and slowly looks to the balcony. 

 

Over the course of the next few days, many things were brought to discovery.  Quintus went through with his plans to murder Calavius, ordering Ashur to do so, and the rest fell into place. They successfully deceived Solonius and led him to Calavius's body and they framed him for the murder.  The day has arrived for his execution and Quintus couldn't be happier. He and Lucretia sit on the balcony along with a grieving Domita and Numerius as they watch the fight below. Crixus is making quick work of his opponent and the crowd roars with his name. Quintus knows the time draws nearer and excuses himself. Lucretia watches as he passes by and knows he must be going to taunt Solonius. Crixus cuts the arm of his opponent off and the man falls to the ground in agony.  

"Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!" The crowd begins to chant. With a mighty roar, Crixus plunges his sword into the man's chest and the crowd cheers loudly. He rips his helmet off and yells in victory and turns towards the balcony. 

"For you!" He shouts as he holds his helmet out towards the balcony. Lucretia's heart skips a beat at his proclamation and she shakes it off as she turns to Domita. 

"Crixus honors the memory of your husband." 

"As do we all." Quintus says as he returns and places his hand on Lucretia's shoulder. "We should put these dark times behind us...and with Solonius's blood, amend our grief." He says as he moves and places his hands on Numerius's shoulders.  

"Citizens of Capua!" Quintus loudly speaks. "May I have your attention, please?" The crowd falls silent as they listen to Quintus address the murder of the Magistrate. "We will now begin! Enter Solonius, enemy of the good people!" He shouts and the crowd jeers loudly.  A part of Lucretia is delighted at the thought of Solonius' death and it shows on her face as a smirk graces her lips. Naevia is horrified at the thought of an innocent man being killed, even one as slimy as Solonius. She looks down at Lucretia and her brows furrow as she notices the look on her face. She glances around to make sure no one is watching them and nudges Lucretia with her elbow.  

Lucretia looks up at her sharply. "What?" She mouths and Naevia cuts her eyes to the middle of the arena where Solonius now stands. She understands what Naevia is trying to convey to her and she is instantly filled with disgust at herself for showing joy at an innocent man's slaughter.  

"And who should balance the scales? And who should return order to our city?" Quintus yells to the crowd and they begin to chant Spartacus' name as Quintus raises his arms into the air. "The Bringer of Rain! Spartacus!" He introduces as Spartacus walks out into the arena. Every step he takes is laced with intent, Quintus' betrayal still weighing heavily on his mind, and he stops in front of Solonius.  

Solonius sneers at him. "You survived your execution, Thracian. Upon these very sands....maybe Solonius will fare just as well." 

"I would not expect it." Spartacus answers honestly. Solonius raises his shield in front of him in defense, preparing for Spartacus to attack.  

"Begin!" Quintus orders and Solonius begins swinging like a mad man. 

"Fight me, dammit!" He yells as Spartacus deflects all of his attacks.  

"Why does Spartacus not strike in return?" Numerius asks Quintus, confusion written on his face.  Lucretia watches Spartacus and wonders the same thing. 

Something is weighing heavily on his mind. He has been acting strangely the past few days she thinks to herself.  

Quintus smiles at Numerius. "He but extends the moment." He explains with a gesture of his hand. "To the favor of the crowd. The villain's blood will flow soon enough." 

Domita turns to Lucretia. "Your husband has been a gift from the Gods." She says and Lucretia feels sick to her stomach. 

If you only knew that he is the very reason for your husband's demise she thinks to herself and wills her face to remain neutral.  

"Numerius would be lost without his support." Domita adds with a small smile. 

"He gains great comfort in the act." Lucretia lies as she places her hand on Domita's shoulder.  

"The comfort is ours." Domita responds. "He will make a fine father when the day comes." Lucretia immediately becomes uncomfortable with the subject and tries to draw attention to something else. 

"Look! Spartacus draws blood!" She says as she points down to the sands. Domita turns back to watch and Lucretia breathes a sigh of relief. She doesn't want to think about having children with Quintus. The thought of it now makes her ill. Spartacus did indeed draw blood—the cut on Solonius's cheek standing out on his pale skin. It doesn't stop Solonius for long as he begins to lash out again, every swing becoming more and more desperate. Spartacus dodges every swing Solonius makes and makes a strike of his own that cuts Solonius across his other cheek. Both of his swords are now stained with the other man's blood. Both men pause and stare at each other—Spartacus calm and collected while Solonius tries to catch his breath.  

"You are not absent skill." Spartacus notes. 

"Nor desire to live." Solonius responds. Spartacus swings one sword at Solonius, followed quickly by the other as the man holds up his shield to deflect the hard hits. Spartacus drops to his knees and slices Solonius on the thigh and he hisses in pain. As he quickly gets to his feet he swings his sword upward and cuts Solonius across his belly. The crowd cheers madly and are on the edge of their seats, waiting for the moment Spartacus puts an end to Solonius.  

Quintus smiles smugly and turns to Numerius. "You see? Solonius comes to his end." 

"And who would not wish it?" A voice suddenly says and all eyes fall onto Illithya as she steps onto the balcony. Lucretia looks up at her with a neutral expression but her eyes are like steel. "The streets of Rome are wet with tears of your loss." Illithya continues as she sits next to Lucretia.  

"We have not received word from you, Illithya." Lucretia says in a pleasant tone. Illithya turns to face her and she can see a trace amount of fear in her eyes. "Did you speak to your husband?" She asks and Illithya doesn't speak and she has to take a deep breath to control her temper.  "About patronage for the House of Batiatus?" 

"At length." Illithya replies as she turns to watch the fight. "He comes to Capua a day hence, to discuss the matter personally." 

Spartacus slices Solonius twice more across his belly before spinning and bringing a blade down, swiping across his chest. Solonius falls to his knees as he cries out and his intestines try to spill out of the wound. Blood drips profusely from his wounds as he looks up at Spartacus.  

"The roar of the crowd...there is no sound more glorious." He says with a cough and blood seeps from his mouth.  

Spartacus nods his head in agreement. "The last you shall hear."  

Solonius accepts defeat with a solemn nod. "You take the wrong life. Your master Batiatus is the villain." He informs Spartacus as his vision begins to blur. 

Spartacus lowers a blade to Solonius's neck. "And shall join you presently." Solonius smiles at this and begins to laugh as the crowd chants for his death. He is still laughing as he spreads his arms open, welcoming death, knowing that Quintus will also die at the hands of his slave. Spartacus pulls the sword back and swings mightily and severs Solonius's head from his body; Blood sprays against his chest and onto the sand. Numerius stands and walks to the edge of the balcony as Spartacus spears Solonius's head onto the end of his sword and holds it up for all to see as blood drips down his arm. He turns his gaze upon Quintus and stares intently at him. Quintus stares back and wonders if he is reading too much into the look.  

Quintus stays behind to see the Magistrate's family off and to finish conducting some business. Naevia is helping Lucretia get ready for her visit with Crixus. Lucretia sighs as Naevia brushes her hair and her mind begins to race. 

I can't wait to see  Crixus . I've missed him greatly...I think I want to try to be more intimate with him. After all, he would never hurt me.  

She picks at her tight, black dress nervously as Naevia finishes with her hair. Naevia becomes worried at the sight of her flushed cheeks. 

"Are you feeling well, Lucretia? You look a little pale and your cheeks are flushed." She asks with concern. 

Lucretia glances up at her. "I haven't been feeling well, especially today. More than likely something I ate." She dismisses.  

Naevia places her hand on Lucretia's forehead and frowns. "You're not hot to the touch. Are you sure you are fine?" 

Lucretia brushes Naevia's hands from her face. "Yes, I'm sure." 

Naevia looks at her disbelievingly. "Well, I will make sure I am nearby should you need me." 

"Nonsense, Naevia. I will be fine. Go spend time with Tyronius." 

"I'm sure you will be but it will give me peace of mind to know that you are alright." 

Lucretia sighs heavily as she relents. "Okay, Naevia. If it will calm your mind, then do as you wish." She says and Naevia smiles at her.  

"I shall return with Crixus." Naevia says before leaving the room. Lucretia slowly stands from the chair and looks around the room as she smooths the wrinkles from her dress and waits for Crixus to arrive. She doesn't have to wait long before Naevia enters the room with Crixus behind her.  

"Remember, I will be nearby should you need me." Naevia reminds her with a smile. 

Lucretia smiles back at her. "Thank you, Naevia." Naevia leaves the room to give them privacy and Lucretia plays with her fingers nervously as she faces Crixus. He crosses the room to her and wraps his arms around her in a warm embrace and she sighs into his neck. 

"What was that about?" He asks as he rests his chin on top of her head.  

"Oh, nothing. I haven't been feeling well lately and Naevia is just being over protective." He pulls back and runs his hand through her hair, admiring its length.  

"So, this is what your hair looks like?" 

"Do you like it?" She asks. 

"Yes, I do. Very much...I've always wondered what your hair looked like." 

"Well, now you know." She says with a chuckle. He smiles at her and slowly leans forward and presses his lips to hers for a sweet kiss. Lucretia cups his face and deepens the kiss as he pulls her tight against his body. As their kiss becomes more passionate, Crixus moves his hand up her body and cups a breast in his hand. Lucretia suddenly freezes and lets out a small gasp.  

Crixus immediately moves his hands to her face, gently cupping her cheeks. "What? What is it? Did I hurt you?" He asks with growing concern. 

Her eyes are wide and reveal her fear. "Something is wrong..."she breathes and she cries out as another wave of pain overtakes her body.  She falls back onto the bed as Crixus calls her name. 

"Lucretia!" He yells as he rushes to her side. 

"N-n-Naevia!" She yells out in panic.  Crixus is just about to go search for her when she suddenly burst through the door and rushes over to Lucretia. She runs a hand through Lucretia's hair as sweat begins to build on her forehead. 

"I knew something was wrong. I could feel it." Naevia says and looks over to Crixus, who is holding Lucretia's hand. Fear is written on his face as he watches her helplessly. "Crixus." Naevia calls to get his attention and he looks at her. "You must go back to the ludus. No one can know you were here. I promise I will let you know her condition once I am able." He slowly nods his head at her and presses a kiss to Lucretia's knuckles. He smooths her hair back as her blue eyes lock onto his.  

"I love you, Lucretia." He says and bends down and kisses her gently on the lips. He pulls back as he continues to stroke her hair.  

"I l-love you t-too." She replies shakily.  

"Everything will be fine." He reassures her as he gives her hand a final squeeze. He slowly lets go of her hand and Naevia walks him to the door. "You will tell me what is going on as soon as you find out?" He asks, his voice tinged with desperation.  

Naevia nods. "I will." Crixus accepts this with a nod and makes his way towards the ludus. Naevia spots another slave and waves them over. "Please fetch the medicus immediately. Something is wrong with Domina." The girl nods her head and quickly sets out for the ludus. Naevia then finds a nearby guard to seek assistance. "Sir! Please we have to locate Dominus and inform him of Domina's condition. Something is wrong and I've sent for the medicus." 

The guard nods. "We will send a messenger right away. Stay with her." He orders as Naevia goes back to the bedroom to sit with Lucretia until help comes.  

 

Quintus rushes back to the villa as soon as he receives word about Lucretia. He reaches their bedroom and throws open the door and startles everyone inside. Lucretia lies on the bed with Naevia sitting near her. The medicus and a woman are applying cool cloths to her neck and forehead while several slaves move throughout the room.  

"What is going on?" He asks. 

"I am with child, Quintus." Lucretia states.  

Quintus is speechless and wears a look of disbelief on his face. "A-a child? I'm going to be a father?!" He exclaims when he finally finds his voice. A wide grin spreads across his face as he lets out a whoop of joy. "We must celebrate! Everyone in the house gets wine tonight, haha!" Naevia stands and leads the other slaves out of the room to begin fetching the wine. Lucretia watches him express his joy and her heart is torn on what to feel. This is what she has always wanted and yet she feels sadness. The midwife said she was a little over two moons along. 

I know Quintus can't be the father. I don't know if this baby is Crixus's or....or Ashur's. A tear slides down her cheek as Quintus sits beside her. He grabs her hand and strokes his thumb across her knuckles. 

"I'm finally getting an heir. All thanks to you." He says and kisses the back of her hand. All she can do is give him a small smile in return.  

 

Naevia and the other slaves are downstairs in the ludus gathering wine to bring upstairs while she waits for Crixus to appear at the bars. She sent a guard to fetch him under the guise that she had a message from Dominus. Crixus appears at the bars and she hands her vase of wine to another girl and makes her way over to him. He tries to keep calm as they get as close to one another as possible. 

"How is she? Is she okay?" He whispered worriedly.  

Naevia nods and smiles at him. "She is fine. Everything is fine." 

"Why are you smiling?" He asks in confusion, continuing with their hushed tones. 

"Because she is with child." 

A myriad of emotions play across his face; shock, hope, pride, love and happiness. "I'm going to be a father?" He asks with a smile on his face. Naevia knows she can't tell him about Ashur so she nods at him. "Wow..." 

"I will let her know of your reaction. I must return upstairs.' Naevia says as she backs away from the bars and walks away and back up the stairs.  

 

Crixus turns away from the bars and makes his way back towards his quarters with a smile on his face.  

"Crixus!" He hears as he passes by Tyronius' quarters and he backs up. 

"Yes?" 

"What's with the goofy smile on your face? I don't think I have ever seen you as happy as you are now." Crixus lets out a small sigh as he walks into Tyronius' room and leans against the wall. 

"I must tell you something, Tyronius. You cannot speak a word of this to anyone." He says seriously. 

"I'm listening."  

"I'm in love with someone. She has been sent to me by Venus herself—she is beautiful and caring. She is the most amazing woman I have ever met." Crixus says with a smile.  

Tyronius thinks about his own love, Naevia, and also smiles. "Do I know this incredible woman you speak so highly of?" He asks.  

"You do. And that is why you cannot breathe a word of this." 

"Well, who is it?" Tyronius asks, his curiosity rising.  

"Lucretia." Crixus says as he gauges Tyronius's reaction.  

"Lucretia? Lucretia as in Dominus's wife?" Tyronius asks in shock. Crixus nods his head. "You are fucking mad. This is a dangerous game you play, my friend." 

"Well, I suppose it is about to get more dangerous because I am to be a father." 

"Even though I still think you've lost your mind, congratulations friend." Tyronius says and stands and clasps arms with Crixus. 

 

Later, as Quintus walks around the villa he comes across Ashur getting fitted for new robes.  

"Robes fit for a man of breeding and intelligence! You wear them well!" Quintus compliments as he steps into the room. Ashur just chuckles in response. "Today beheld the end of Solonius. A welcome spectacle, given purchase by your loyalty and cunning. I also found out I am to be a father. A glorious day indeed." He says as he pours two cups of wine and hands one to Ashur. Ashur perks up at the news about the baby. "Name any slave and the joys of her wet body are yours." Ashur thinks for only a moment and a grin stretches across his face at the idea that just formed.  

"Well, I confess to certain...longings." He says and takes a sip of wine. 

Quintus laughs. "Give name to your desire and see it fulfilled." 

 

Spartacus sits in his quarters, his mind swirling with thoughts of revenge when the door opens and interrupts his thoughts. Mira quietly steps inside and he watches her silently as she closes the door behind her and shuffles inside.  

"Apologies. My presence was commanded." She says quietly. 

"By Batiatus?" He asks. 

"His words set me to purpose but they were gladly received." She says as she smiles shyly at him. Spartacus sighs as he thinks about the way he has treated her. 

"Apologies for my treatment of you as of late. My mind weighs heavy with thoughts of my wife and other troubling thoughts." Mira walks over to him and sits next to him on the bed. 

"Then break open head and share them." He nods his head at her as silence stretches between them as he gathers his thoughts.  

Can I trust her?  he wonders to himself. She did help me kill a man... 

 The silence lingers for so long that Mira begins to think that Spartacus does not want to voice his thoughts to her. 

"I fear Batiatus suspects my hand in Aulus's death." Spartacus's voice suddenly breaks the silence.  

"He appears absent the weight of pressing concern." Mira points out. 

"Then why does he not grant me audience?!" Spartacus says, running a hand over his head in frustration. Mira stares at him for a moment, studying him, before she voices her question. 

"What secrets did Aulus reveal in dying breath that has inflamed you?" Spartacus doesn't answer her as he stares at the wall across the room. She reaches out and places her hand over his to reassure him. He sighs as he flips his hand over and laces their fingers together and turns to face her.  

"That his hand robbed Sura of life. By command of Batiatus." He reveals as he looks into her eyes. Mira's eyes widen in shock at his confession. 

"Why would he do that? Go through the trouble of finding her to have her slain?" Spartacus doesn't say anything as he looks away from her and it finally dawns on her what has been on his mind as of late. "You plan vengeance!" He glances at her before turning his gaze back across the room. Mira releases his hand and moves to stand in front of him. "You cannot do this, Spartacus!" 

"I will see the light fade from his eyes." Spartacus vows. 

"At the expense of my life?!" She nearly shouts.  

"You will not be harmed!"  

Mira laughs humorlessly, "You don't know Roman law!" Spartacus looks at her with confusion and shakes his head. "If one slave spills the blood of his master...all are put to death." 

Spartacus nods his head at this information. "Each to his own fate and I to mine." Mira looks at him as tears begin to fill her eyes and she turns to walk away when his hand shoots out and pulls her back down to the bed. "That does not mean you. I will protect you as much as I can." He promises. A tear slips down her cheek and he pulls her against his side, her head resting against his shoulder, and sighs. "Do not shed tears." 

She sniffles. "This is just madness, Spartacus!"  

"You can keep this to yourself or loosen your tongue to an eager ear and see it stopped." 

She turns her head up to look at him. "I would never betray you. I know your heart is filled with love for Sura but maybe someday there will be room for me. Until then, I pledge my loyalty to you as a friend, never foe." Spartacus stares at her with an unreadable expression before he places a kiss on her forehead. She gives him a small smile and removes his arm from around her shoulders and stands up. "I will not keep you any longer. I will take my leave. Goodnight, Spartacus." He watches her walk out of the room and thinks about what she said about Roman law.  

"I've got to get more gladiators on my side. I do not wish to see any of them nor any other slaves slaughtered for my vengeance." He says to himself.  

 

"I don't know, Naevia. I'm nervous about this child...what if it is Ashur's?" Lucretia asks worriedly. She lays in bed and Naevia sits next to her to keep a watchful eye to make sure nothing else happens.  Naevia reaches out and grabs her hand. 

"You will be a wonderful mother, Lucretia. Even if he is the father. Just keep thinking to yourself that this is Crixus's child." Naevia encourages with a smile. Suddenly, they can hear approaching footsteps and Naevia quickly releases Lucretia's hand and stands next to the bed. Quintus enters the room and looks at both of the women before he turns to Naevia. 

"I require a service of you." Lucretia sits up in bed nervously.  

He has never asked anything of her before. What could he possibly need from her? She wonders to herself.  

"I need you to see to Ashur's needs and sate his desires." He commands. Naevia is immediately flooded with fear while Lucretia feels her heart skip a beat as fear grips her heart. Naevia locks eyes with her and she can see the fear reflected in them as tears begin to form. " Go to his room." Quintus demands. "Now." Naevia takes a step forward but is stopped by Lucretia's hand grabbing her own.  

"No!" Lucretia exclaims as she quickly stands from the bed and stand protectively next to Naevia. Quintus looks at her as though she has lost her mind. "What is the meaning of this?" She questions.  

"Ashur has shown incredible loyalty and deserves a reward. He desire's Naevia's touch and I will see it done." 

"She is mine! I decide who she will lie with!" Lucretia responds furiously.  

Quintus stalks closer to her. "I have final word. She will lie with him whether you like it or not." 

Lucretia fixes him with a cold stare. "I will not let it happen." She says, standing her ground. He comes to a direct stop in front of her. His face is red and she can see him trembling with rage.  

"Is that so?" He violently grabs her arms and she gasps in shock. "Have you lost your fucking mind?!" He shouts furiously as he shakes her. "You will not speak to me in such a way!" He turns his angry eyes upon Naevia. "Go before I send you to the fucking mines." He threatens.  

Tears stream down Naevia's face as she nods her head. "Yes, Dominus." She releases Lucretia's hand and begins to walk away.  

"Wait! Naevia, don't go!" Lucretia says as she struggles against Quintus's tight grip. "Let go of me, Quintus!" He tightens his hold on her and she lets out a whimper of pain.  

"Not another fucking word, Lucretia!" She opens her mouth to respond but Naevia cuts her off. 

"Domina!" She calls out before she reaches the door. "It's okay." A tear slips down Lucretia's cheek as she looks at Naevia with wide eyes. Naevia takes a deep breath. "I was given order and I must do as commanded. Everything will be fine." Lucretia stops struggling as she realizes that Naevia wants her to back down before she gets hurt. Naevia turns and walks out of the room and Lucretia stares after her before Quintus breaks through her thoughts. 

"You know, a thought only now occurred to me." He says and she looks at him. "You give me shit about keeping secrets from you and yet you have secrets of your own." Lucretia wrenches herself from his grip and rubs her arms, knowing that they will bruise.  

"I don't know what you speak of." She replies bitterly.  

Quintus laughs. "Come now, Lucretia. I know that you treat Naevia like a friend. She is far too much relaxed around you." 

"What of it? There is nothing wrong with that." She says haughtily.  

Quintus just shakes his head. "Oh, that isn't your only secret, darling." He says with a smirk. "You must think me a fool." Lucretia goes to speak and he holds up a hand to stop her. "I expect your meetings with Crixus to end now that you are with child." He demands and her blood runs cold.  

She looks at him with fear. " Q-Quintus---" 

"Do not fucking speak!" He orders harshly. "That you would think me a fool is insult enough. I have always known, Lucretia." Her lip begins to tremble as she tries to keep her tears from falling. "I turned my eye away only because it made you happy and caused me no thought and I understood your purpose. Those days have ended. Set your attentions towards our child." Hot tears roll down her face as she looks away from him. "Do not see them stray...or I will see you punished severely." He warns as he marches out of the room. Lucretia sits on the bed as her face crumbles and she begins to sob.  

 

Naevia walks to Ashur's room as slowly as she can so she can prepare herself for what is about to come. She arrives at his door and pushes it open and sees him sitting on the bed waiting for her. He stares at her with unmasked desire. 

"My heart quickens at such a vision."  he says as his eyes scan up and down her body. Naevia looks away and wrings her hands nervously. 

"Please, set mind to ease." He says and beckons her to come forward and she steps further into the room. He stands from his position on the bed and slowly moves towards her and starts circling around her. "I have always admired you, you know? I could never act on my desires because of your position but now that I have position of my own..." He trails off as he stops behind her. "Well, I get what I want." He places his hand on her hip and she stiffens beneath his touch. He chuckles at this and slowly moves his hand up to touch her breast but she jerks away from him.  

"Ahh! So, you will be like your Domina!" He says amused. "Full of fight and spirit. I see that she has regained some of it back. Maybe another lesson is needed." 

"The sight of you makes me ill!" She says, her voice full of loathing. 

He laughs at her. "I'm sure it does. It does not matter. You were given order and you must attend to it." Tears prick the corners of her eyes as he draws closer to her. He places both of his hands on her shoulders and slides down the straps of her dress and watches it fall to the ground. 

 

Lucretia sighs as she walks around the villa while she waits for Naevia. She had to shove the thought of barging into the room and retrieving her. She absentmindedly rubs her stomach as she walks to the balcony for some fresh air.  

The midwife says I am a little over two moons along....I can't believe it she thinks to herself as she steps out onto the balcony, the moon shining bright in the sky and she looks up to the stars. A light breeze blows gently through her hair as she leans against the railing.  

"She has been gone for far too long.." Lucretia says to herself as she thinks about Naevia. She decides she is going to go retrieve her from that bastard's room.  She turns and walks back into the villa, her strides full of purpose, and she begins walking towards Ashur's bedroom. She turns the corner and movement across the villa catches her eye. She squints as she tries to make out the figure and gasps as she realizes it is Naevia. "Naevia!" She calls out as she rushes towards her. Naevia reaches out for her and Lucretia pulls her into a tight embrace and Naevia begins to cry against her neck. Tears slip down Lucretia's cheeks as she gently strokes Naevia's hair.  

"Oh, Naevia. I did not wish for this to happen. I tried---" 

"I know." Naevia cuts her off with a whisper. "I know you tried and you have my gratitude for it. I couldn't let you get hurt because of me." She raises her head to look at Lucretia and Lucretia can see the bruise already forming on her friend's cheek.  

"Let's get you cleaned up." Lucretia says as she runs her hand down Naevia's hair. She grabs Naevia's hand and they begin to walk when Lucretia notices her limp and wince with every step they take. They stop walking as she turns to look at Naevia. "Naevia, where else are you hurt?" Naevia immediately looks away, shame written across her face.  

"H-he-he...ummm. He decided that he wanted to have me in a different way..." She stammers. Lucretia's eyes widen as she realizes what Naevia is referring to. She doesn't say anything as she puts her arm around Naevia's shoulders as they resume their walk towards the bathroom.  

 

Spartacus is early to rise and is eager to begin his training. Oenomaus approves and watches him practice as the sun begins to rise. He strikes the wooden post with deadly precision, striking harder with each memory that surges through his mind of Sura. Crixus walks and stands next to Oenomaus and joins him in watching Spartacus train.  

"He moves with intent. This troubles me." Oenomaus voices out loud.  

"Probably nothing to worry about." Crixus replies and begins walking towards Spartacus. Oenomaus shakes his head as he turns to walk back into the ludus to start waking up the others. Spartacus lands a final heavy blow to the post before he decides to take a break. His chest heaves heavily as he tries to regain his breath and he looks at Crixus as he approaches him.  

"You rise early this morning." Crixus notes and Spartacus doesn't respond. "Oenomaus grows concerned at your behavior as of late. I told him there is nothing to worry about." Spartacus continues to remain silent as he begins to stretch his arms. "There is nothing to worry about....right?" 

Spartacus stops stretching and looks at him. "Maybe for you there is." He responds cryptically.  

Crixus stares at him questioningly. "Your meaning?" 

"Aren't you worried someone may discover your affair with Dominus's wife?" 

Crixus tenses instantly at the statement. "I don't know wh----" 

"Don't bother denying it." Spartacus interrupts him. "I've watched you both."  

Crixus swallows hard. "How long have you known?" 

"Long enough." Spartacus replies as he studies Crixus. "What do you see in her? She condones such evil things." 

"She does not!' Crixus says passionately. "Yes, she herself has done things she is not proud of but she does not condone the things her vile husband has done. She is changing. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and she makes me laugh....she has this caring nature about her that she only shows to those she loves." 

Spartacus nods. "You love her?" 

"With every fiber of my being." 

Spartacus is about to respond when they are interrupted by a guard. 

"Spartacus! You have been summoned." Crixus watches Spartacus walk off with the guard before he lashes out at the practice post and begins training. Crixus finishes his training and walks back into the ludus towards his quarters. 

"Crixus!" Someone calls out his name. He turns to find Ashur in his presence and sighs heavily. "Glorious day, isn't it?" 

"What the fuck do you want?" He asks impatiently. 

"Oh, nothing. I was just down here attending business for Dominus...as his right hand man." He replies smugly, reminding Crixus of his position.  

"Ah, the one he wipes his ass with." Crixus quips.  

"Haha, now that is the humor I will miss now that I am no longer a gladiator." He says as he turns to walk away. 

"Must I remind you again? You were never a gladiator." Ashur stops walking and smirks as he thinks about the best perk of his job: Lucretia. He turns back to face Crixus. 

"Yes. Once your blade found itself in my leg, I was no more. Know this, Crixus." He says as he steps closer to him. "Everything I am now and everything I possess, I owe to you." He says and turns and walks away with a smirk on his face, leaving a very confused Crixus behind. 

What could he possibly mean by that? Crixus thinks to himself as he shrugs and continues on his way to his quarters.  

 

Inside the villa, last minute preparations are being seen to for Glaber's arrival. Lucretia is just a tad paler than normal due to her morning sickness and lack of sleep from attending to Naevia to previous night. Naevia wouldn't let her help in any way when preparing for the morning. She wears a simple green dress with her hair down in soft waves. She and Naevia stand with Quintus as they wait for Glaber's arrival. Lucretia rests a hand on her stomach and gently rubs it with a small smile on her face. Quintus glances over at her and notices that she stands as far as she can from him without being completely obvious. She still hasn't spoken to him and didn't sleep with him last night and he grows irritated at the thought. 

"Still not speaking to me?" He asks. She doesn't say a word and looks down at her hand as her jaw clenches. Before Quintus could speak more, Ashur walks up and stands a little behind Quintus. Naevia tenses at his arrival and Lucretia moves protectively in front of her when she notices and Ashur smirks at this.  

"Ashur." Quintus nods in greeting and Ashur returns the gesture.  

"Dominus. It's a great day. Definitely one to remember." He says as he looks directly at Lucretia and Naevia. Naevia looks away, unable to withstand his gaze while Lucretia stares back, challenging him. He becomes angry at her defiance after having worked so hard to smother the fire inside of her. Suddenly, the doors to the villa open and Illithya glides inside with her slaves following behind her.  

"Where is Glaber?" Quintus asks as he realizes he is not with her.  

"Apologies. My husband is delayed." She replies as she waves her slaves off to the side. 

"You gave your word." Quintus says with clenched teeth. Illithya smiles. 

"Which I intend to keep. He yet intends a proper visit but requests that you give him greeting upon entering the city." 

Quintus nods. "A great honor. When does he arrive?" 

Illithya smirks. "Now." Lucretia glares at her and Quintus takes a breathe to control his anger as he turns to Ashur. 

"We must hurry." He says as the two men rush from the room leaving the women behind.  

"Let us walk to the balcony to feast. We can also discuss your issue with timing." Lucretia says as she turns to walk away. 

"Oh, I would love nothing more but I must return to the villa to gather my belongings." 

Lucretia turns to face her, an eyebrow raised in curiosity. "Oh?" 

"I'm moving back to Rome!" Illithya says excitedly.  

"How unfortunate." Lucretia replies without a tone of care in her voice. Illithya's smile falters a little at this as she begins to speak. 

"Yes. My husband insists that I stay by his side while he campaigns." A wave of nausea begins to take hold of Lucretia and she fights to control it. "Are you feeling ill?" Illithya asks. "The blood drains from your cheeks." 

Lucretia breathes in through her nose and smiles. "I am fine. I guess you want to start packing. Wouldn't want to keep your husband waiting." 

Illithya smiles. "I shall take my leave." She says and motions for her slaves to follow her as she exits the villa. Lucretia waits until she is sure Illithya is gone before she sprints out of the room and goes toward the bathroom, her hand shooting up to her mouth as she runs. Naevia is right behind her and Lucretia barely makes it to the toilet before immediately dropping to her knees and throwing up the remainder of her stomach contents. Naevia holds her hair back while she heaves and rubs her back soothingly. Lucretia coughs as she leans away from the toilet and looks up at Naevia with watery eyes.  

"I think I'll go get some fresh air in the garden." She says as she sniffs. "Can you fetch something from the medicus to settle my stomach?" 

Naevia nods. "Yes. I will bring it to you in the garden." She responds as she helps Lucretia stand and leaves the room afterwards.  Lucretia walks out of the bathroom and goes towards the garden. She nears the hallway where that dreadful night happened and her heart begins to pound. She stops in the middle of the hallway as she begins to shake. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breathe before she takes a step forward to begin walking again.  

"You're glowing." A voice suddenly sounds and stops her in her tracks. Fear paralyzes her as she hears footsteps approaching behind her. Ashur stops directly behind her, his body pressed against her. He lifts his hand and runs it through her hair, making her shudder in revulsion. He reaches around and lays a hand against her stomach and a tear runs down her face.  

"Hmm.." He hums in approval. "Knowing that you carry my child within you--" She jerks out of his grasp. 

"This is not your child!" She exclaims vehemently.  

He smiles at her. "You aren't certain of that, are you?" 

"I would know if it were your child inside of me. I would feel nothing but pure evil within myself." She spat as she attempted to march past him. His hand shoots out and grabs her arm roughly.  

"We aren't finished here!" He says angrily. 

"Let go of me!" She exclaims as she struggles to pull away. 

"Lucretia!" Quintus calls out for her and Ashur immediately releases her.  

"You've forgotten your place." Ashur sneers. "I think I need to remind you again." 

"Go to hell." She responds. 

"Lucretia!" Quintus calls again and Lucretia smirks at Ashur as she turns away from him and walks towards the sound of Quintus's voice.  

"Apologies." She says as he comes into view. "I was just making my way to the garden for some fresh air." She notices his distraught expression. "What's wrong?" 

"That shit fuck beckons me to the city, only to spurn me like a thin waisted whore!" He says in rage. "Once again, the Gods spread cheeks to ram cock in fucking ass!" 

"Quintus--" she tries to interrupt. 

"You need to have fucking words with Illithya!" He orders as he points at her.  

"I will see it done." She replies as she decides not to argue with him. Naevia appears and walks towards her. 

"Domina, medicus says to drink this and it will take away the nausea." She says as she hands Lucretia a cup. Lucretia glances down at the cup and her stomach churns at the dark green liquid inside.  

"Gratitude." She says and takes a drink and gags at the bitter taste.  

"Is something wrong?" Quintus asks with worry on his face.  

"I continue to get ill in the morning. I sent Naevia to retrieve something from the medicus to help relieve the nausea." She responds and downs the contents of the cup in one drink and shudders as the thick liquid goes down her throat.  

Quintus nods his head. "You should rest and prepare for Glaber's arrival....whenever that will be." Lucretia nods and hands the cup back to Naevia and they make their way towards the bedroom. 

 

Spartacus and Varro sit together for dinner and he is silent as he contemplates how he can take revenge against the House of Batiatus. Varro watches him closely and can see the wheels turning in his mind. 

"Out with it." He says as he takes a bite of bread.  

Spartacus glances at him. "What?" Varro finishes chewing the bread and clears his throat. 

"Clearly, you have something troubling you. Give voice to your thoughts." 

"You're going to think me mad." 

Varro scoffs. "I already think that. That bad, huh?" 

Spartacus sighs heavily and leans towards Varro and beckons him closer. "I recently discovered a betrayal of Batiatus and I will see him dead for it." He whispers. Varro's eyes widen as he opens his mouth to speak. "Listen to me. He ordered Sura killed! For what reason, I do not know but none of that matters to me. All that matters is that I watch the life drain from his eyes at my hand." 

Varro blows out a breath. "You do know about Roman law, right?" 

"Yes, Mira has already informed me. That is why I need to get as many men on my side as possible. Together, we can bring down the House of Batiatus." 

"You're a mad fuck." Varro replies as he looks Spartacus in the eyes and a grin spreads across his face. "I guess that makes me one too. I stand with you, brother." Spartacus grins back and they clasp arms.  

 

The next day, many slaves are milling about as Quintus gives Glaber a tour of the newly renovated villa. Lucretia and Illithya follow behind them while Naevia and Illithya's slaves follow at a respectful distance.  

"This is a vast improvement, Batiatus. However, I ask why do you continue to so brazenly ask for my support?" Glaber asks bluntly. 

"Ambitions." Quintus answers honestly. "And mine stretch far beyond the sands of the arena." He says as they all sit down and begin to snack on the fruit their slaves have brought them.  

"How far beyond?" Glaber asks.  

"To the doors of political office. In a minor capacity, of course." 

"What advantage would I gain by association with a lanista?" Glaber gets straight to the point.  

Quintus pops a grape into his mouth and chuckles. "My gladiators ignite the passion of the crowd. Their deafening cheers would soon transform into demands for Claudius Glaber and his desired position of Praetor." He says and takes a sip of wine. Glaber seems to take this into consideration as he takes a drink of wine.  

"They do favor Batiatus's men like no others." Illithya speaks up. "Especially Spartacus." She adds with a devious smile. Lucretia glares at her, knowing exactly what she is trying to do. 

"The Thracian..." Glaber says. "And what does it say that your finest gladiator was my worst soldier?" 

"That I am the greatest lanista in all the republic." Quintus says as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "For I have taken a wild beast and forged him into a God." 

"It's a bold claim. I would see your words made flesh." 

Quintus nods his approval. "Easily done." 

"Summon the Thracian to the villa, along with the rest of your men." Glaber orders. 

"All of them?" Quintus asks in confusion. 

"All of them." 

 

All of the men are summoned to the villa and stand together, their hands chained, as they wait to see why they are needed.  

"What the fuck is going on?" Tyronius whispers to Crixus. 

"I don't know." He whispers back. Suddenly, Quintus and Glaber enter the room and the women follow behind them. They stand off to the side as Glaber moves down the line of men, observing them as he moves. Crixus makes brief eye contact with Lucretia and she looks down at the ground to hide her growing smile. Glaber stops in front of Spartacus and the two men stare coldly at one another.  

"The Champion of Capua." Glaber says disdainfully. "Sad day when an honored city elevates a cur to such a position." Spartacus remains silent and this surprises Glaber. "I see you have taught the animal not to speak out of turn. I would have demonstration of other tricks the Thracian has learned." He says as he turns and walks across the room to take a seat. Quintus nods to his guards to unchain Spartacus and moves to sit beside Glaber. 

"Which of my men would you have oppose him?" Quintus asks. Illithya moves to stand next to her husband and Lucretia a little away from them, close by to Naevia.  

"None." Glaber says with a smirk. "Formation!" He orders his men and they move to form a line opposite of Spartacus. Everyone looks around in confusion, not sure what is happening. Spartacus looks at Quintus and he nods for him to move forward. Oenomaus hands him two practice swords and he steps forward.  

"Spartacus wields practice swords. I fear he is at a disadvantage." Quintus says with mild irritation.  

"I but give him a chance to prove his legend." Glaber says smugly. "Iovus!" He calls out and the soldier draws his sword and steps to the middle of the room across from Spartacus. Oenomaus looks sharply at Quintus, wondering if he is going to let this happen. "Begin!" Glaber orders. Iovus swings hard at Spartacus and catches him by surprise as he raises he sword and parries Iovus. Spartacus swings his other sword but misses when Iovus punches him in the face and he stumbles backwards. Iovus thinks he has the upper hand and swings his sword again and Spartacus ducks below it and punches him in the stomach and he bends over, clutching his stomach. Spartacus then smashes the handle of his practice sword into the side of his head, sending Iovus crashing to the floor. Spartacus hasn't even broken a sweat yet and this angers Glaber as he motions for two more of his guards to come forward. 

One guard immediately begins attacking Spartacus while the other moves behind him. Spartacus notices this and waits for the second guard to get closer before punching him in the face and moving away from the first guard. Both men come after him at the same time and he uses both swords to fend them off. He kicks one guard in the chest, sending him flying backwards to the ground and moves quickly onto the other. The guard manages to slice his arm and he doesn't react as he punches the man three times in the face and finishes by throwing him into the other guard who was attempting to stand up. The guard quickly shoves the unconscious man off of him and stands to face Spartacus. He charges with a roar towards him and as soon as he is close enough, Spartacus swings his fist into the man's nose, breaking it, and headbutts him, immediately knocking the guard unconscious.   

Ashur enters the room and stands off to the side to watch the remainder of the fight. Spartacus stands prepared as the final three guards approach him and he tries to catch his breath. One guard rushes towards him and raises his sword above his head but then quickly swings it downward, cutting Spartacus on his thigh. Before he could move against the guard, another approached him from behind and punched him in his side, knocking the wind from him. The third knees him in the face as he falls to the ground. Illithya giggles with glee as Spartacus finally falls. Lucretia glares at her and looks back at Spartacus with some concern for if he will make it through this.  

Just as a guard approaches him, Spartacus uses his legs to swipe the guard's legs from beneath him. He quickly gets to his feet and kicks the guard in the head and brings the handle of his sword down on the man's face. He maneuvers out of the way when another guard tries to attack him from the side and he elbows the man in the face and puts him in a chokehold. Spartacus can sense the third guard attempting to sneak up behind him and turns just in time for the man to thrust his sword forward. It goes straight through the guard and Spartacus drops his now lifeless body and immediately goes after the final guard, who is now without a weapon. The guard tries to take a swing at him and misses, giving Spartacus the chance to put him in a headlock. He squeezes tighter and tighter until the man falls to his knees and tries desperately to break free of his hold. He continues to tighten his hold around the man's neck and stares directly at Glaber as he does so. Finally, the guard goes limp and Spartacus lets his body crash to the floor as he stands there in victory, his chest heaving with deep breathes.  

Quintus stands with a smile on his face. "Behold. The legend is proved." He says smugly. Glaber and Illithya both stand as Glaber turns to Quintus. 

"Very well. I will award patronage under one condition." He says. 

"Name it and see it done." Quintus replies. Glaber turns his icy stare onto Spartacus. 

"Spartacus must kneel to me." All eyes turn to Spartacus to see what he will do. Quintus motions for him to do it and he struggles with himself to do as he is told. No one makes a sound as Spartacus stands as still as a statue. Finally, he has made his decision.  

"Legatus." He says as he swallows his pride and gets on his knees and bows his head. Glaber is extremely pleased at this and savors the moment and Illithya is also enjoying the moment. Ashur watches this in amusement when an idea strikes him. He looks over at Crixus and stares until Crixus makes eye contact with him and he smirks as he moves to stand directly behind Lucretia. Crixus watches him, wondering what he is playing at, as his blood starts to boil at his proximity to her. Lucretia's body instantly tenses and her eyes widen with fear as she thinks back on Ashur's threats. Ashur grabs a piece of her hair and lifts it to his nose and inhales as he shoots a devious grin at Crixus. Lucretia's eyes lock with his and he can see the deep sadness and raw fear in her eyes. Suddenly, everything clicks in his mind of what Ashur's meaning was in their earlier conversation as well as Lucretia's strange behavior as of late and her odd injuries. Rage consumes him and he doesn't think as he runs across the room with a roar and tackles Ashur to the ground. Illithya yelps and Lucretia gasps loudly, her hand flying to her mouth in shock. 

"Crixus!" Quintus yells. 

"You fucking cunt!" Crixus yells as slams his chained hands into Ashur's face repeatedly. 

"Crixus, no!" Lucretia cries out as he continues to assault Ashur. Oenomaus and Spartacus rush over and pull him off of Ashur and struggle to keep their hold on the enraged Gaul as he continues to fight against them desperately trying to reach Ashur.  

"I will fucking kill you!" He shouts as he tries to lunge at him.  

"Calm yourself!" Spartacus yells. Does he even realize what he has done? Spartacus thinks to himself. Illithya glances at Lucretia and sees the look on her face and looks back and forth between her and Crixus as a smirk slowly spreads across her lips.  

"Slaves running wild! This is what you would have me give name towards?" Glaber says enraged.  

"What seizes your fucking wits?" Quintus shouts at Crixus. "Speak!" Ashur stands unsteadily and holds a hand to his broken, bleeding nose.  

"I yet but stand near Domina and Crixus goes mad!" Ashur exclaims. Crixus is still shouting and struggling against Oenomaus and Spartacus as all eyes turn to him. Lucretia is petrified as tears stream down her face. "It's as if he believes she belongs to him." Ashur accuses. 

"He would not dare think such a thing!" Quintus bellows.  

"Oh, but he would!" Ashur says as he smirks, blood dripping into his mouth. "Especially when she gives herself freely to him..heart and body." Everyone's eyes move to Lucretia and Illithya gasps in shock. "Apologies for the public spectacle, Dominus but you were going to find out eventually." 

Glaber finally finds his voice. "You obviously have no control over your men, let alone your fucking wife! Slaves out of control and your wife gives herself to one." 

"Just hear---" Quintus tries to say but Glaber interrupts him. 

"I will not support such things! We are leaving!" 

"Just listen to me! I think you will find that I am open to suggestions on how you want things done around here. Just say the word and it shall be done." Quintus begs. Glaber looks around in disgust. 

"I doubt that you will change my mind but I will hear you out in the morning. I tire of being around such filth." He sneers. "Come along, Illithya!" He instructs as he exits the room and his men follow, save for the one lying dead on the floor. Illithya smirks at Lucretia as she walks by and her slaves follow her from the room. Nothing but silence follows their departure, everyone in complete shock at the turn of events. Crixus has finally stopped struggling as the realization of what he has just done sets in. Ashur pulls Lucretia's broken necklace from his pocket.  

"I found this in the garden after they met one night." He says as he gives the necklace to Quintus. "Crixus asked me to procure this for him some time ago. I did not know it was intended for her."  

Quintus clenches his jaw as he tries to control the rage swirling inside him. "You said this belonged to your mother and you have the nerve to display this around your neck in front of me? Displaying your loyalty to another?" Lucretia doesn't respond as tears continue to roll down her face. "Nothing to say for yourself?" He hands the necklace back to Ashur. "Ashur, see this disposed of and see yourself off to the medicus." Ashur winks at Crixus with a smile before leaving the room. "Oenomaus, take the men out to the training grounds." He demands. 

"Yes, Dominus. Out to the sands, now!" Oenomaus demands as he releases Crixus as does Spartacus. Spartacus gives Crixus a look of pity before joining the other men as they shuffle out of the room.  

"What the fuck just happened in there?" Varro asks as they walk. Spartacus just shakes his head and remains silent.  

"Guards, take Crixus outside and ready him for lashing." Quintus demands as the guards seize Crixus by the arms.  

"What?! Quintus, no!" Lucretia cries out, finally breaking her silence.  

"Hold your fucking tongue!" He yells at her.  

"Crixus!" She calls out as he is dragged out of the room and she tries to go after him. Quintus intercepts her and slaps her hard in the face, sending her falling to the floor and her hand goes to her cheek. 

"You whore!" He exclaims as he grabs Lucretia by her hair and yanks her head up to face him and she cries out. "How long? How long have you betrayed me? I turn head from you lying with him in hopes you could produce an heir and yet this is what you have been doing the entire fucking time? Having a secret relationship?" He spat as he yanks her head back even further causing her to sob harder. Naevia stands in shock as tears roll down her face as she knows she can do nothing to help. "Did you even really love me? Or did you see me as a way of getting you out of the pathetic, meaningless life you lived?" 

"I did love you, Quintus." She croaks out. "Very much. You have gone mad with power and you are no longer the man I fell in love with." He slaps her again and she grunts out in pain as blood begins to trickle out of her nose. 

"You are lucky you are with child right now. His punishment tonight is only the beginning for him and as for you, yours truly starts the moment you give birth to my heir." He threatens. "Now, let us go see to your lover's punishment." He says as he drags her up by her arms. "Clean this fucking mess up." He orders Naevia and all the slaves present.  

 

All of the gladiators are lined up by the wall behind Crixus as he is brought to his knees and his arms are tied high in the air around two training blocks. Spartacus, Varro, and Tyronius stand together and Varro leans towards the two men and begins to whisper. 

"This is seriously fucked. I can't believe he has been fucking Domina, let alone be in love with her." He notices their lack of reaction. "You two knew about it, didn't you?" 

"Not until recently." Tyronius whispers back. 

"I figured it out a while ago." Spartacus admitted.  

"Things are about to change for the worst around here." Varro notes and looks back at Crixus and sees Oenomaus is now standing behind him with a whip in his hand.. 

"Spartacus, you remember what you approached me with a few days ago?" Tyronius asks and Spartacus nods. "Count me on your side." 

"Silence!" Oenomus demands as he can hear talking behind him. He watches the guards line up beneath the balcony. Suddenly, the guards part to reveal Quintus roughly pulling Lucretia along with him.  

"Crixus!" She cries out when she sees him and tries to go to him only to be pulled back to Quintus. Crixus looks up at her and struggles against his binds when he notices her disheveled appearance and the injuries to her face.  

"No one is above retribution for offenses committed against the House of Batiatus!" Quintus proclaims as he addresses the men. "No gladiator. No Champion. No wife." He says as he looks coldly at Lucretia. "Even the men that guard you, should they be guilty of deceit or incompetence. The fault lies within my own breast, with heart grown too large. This cannot stand. Legatus Claudius Glaber will be our honored patron." He says as he thinks about his plan to win Glaber's patronage. "He has opened my eyes to the error of my generosity. One that demands correction." He finishes and gives a nod to Oenomaus. Oenomaus nods back and bends slightly towards Crixus. 

"Embrace the pain. It is the only way." He advises him as he straightens back up and walks further behind him. Crixus tenses his back, preparing himself for the first lash. He lifts his head to look at Lucretia and his heart breaks at the look on her face; defeat, heartache, and helplessness. Oenomaus swings his arm back and then surges the whip forward as it connects with Crixus's back with a sickening crack. Crixus screams out in pain as he feels his skin tear open. Lucretia jumps at his scream and turns her head away as she clenches her eyes shut.  

Quintus grabs her face and turns it roughly to face Crixus. "Oh, no, no, no. You will watch all of this. That's our purpose in being down here so you can see up close the consequences of what you have done. This is happening all because of you." Oenomaus cracks the whip against Crixus's back again and he cries out. Lucretia cries harder at seeing his pain...all because of her. Another strike. Her face hurts from where Quintus is holding her forcefully making her watch this torture.  

Spartacus makes up his mind that he will ask Crixus to stand with him against the House of Batiatus in vengeance. Vengeance for his wife and Lucretia and all those done wrong by this wicked man. Tyronius flinches at the sound of another strike as he gazes at his friend in pity. Crixus pants heavily in pain as he tries to catch his breath between strikes. He cries out again as the whip connects with his skin again, his voice becoming hoarse with his screams. Oenomaus strikes again and again and Spartacus, Tyronius, and Varro all look away for they can watch this torture no longer. All that can be heard are the cracks of the whip as the strikes continue to connect with Crixus's skin and the sound of his screams piercing the air.  

"I meant what I said, Lucretia. Once you have this baby, you will regret your actions dearly." Quintus promises followed by the sounds of two more strikes. "From now on, you will do as I say. No excuses, no questions, and without hesitation." CRACK! Another strike finally sees Crixus go limp and his screams are starting to quiet. "You will not go anywhere in the villa without a guard attending you." CRACK! "Do you understand?" Lucretia says nothing as she can only look on in horror at Crixus. CRACK! "I said do you understand me?!" Quintus says as he grips her face harder and she cries out in pain. 

"Yes! Yes, I understand!" She cries out. CRACK! CRACK! 

"Enough!" Quintus orders and Oenomaus stops.  

"Get back to your quarters!" Oenomaus orders the men and they slowly walk back towards their quarters.  

"Say your goodbyes!" Quintus says as he roughly releases Lucretia and stalks off. Lucretia runs forward and immediately drops to her knees in front of Crixus. 

"Crixus!" She cries out and begins sobbing as she holds his face and brings it down to her shoulder. "Oh, Crixus..." He begins coming to and realizes Lucretia is cradling him to her and he openly weeps from his pain and the pain of losing her.  

Crixus raises his head. "I have destroyed us!" He croaks out as Lucretia cups his face. She leans forward and places a sweet kiss against his lips.  

"We yet live." She responds with a small smile. 

"What will happen now?" He asks. 

"I do not know." She replies sadly. 

"You are hurt." He says as he studies the bruising and cuts on her face. "He hurt you? Is the baby---?" 

"The baby is fine, Crixus. I will be fine." She says and leans her forehead against his. 

"I promise I will get us out of here! I promise, Lucretia!" He promises. She just nods as she gently strokes his hair. Oenomaus steps over to them and looks at them sadly. 

"I must escort you back to the villa." He says gently to Lucretia and she nods her head. She leans into Crixus and kisses him passionately before she pulls back and rests her forehead back against his.  

"I love you, Lucretia." 

She begins crying again. "I love you too, Crixus." She replies as she cups his face and presses a lingering kiss to his forehead and stands. She slowly pulls her hands from his face as Oenomaus begins leading her away. As they walk, Lucretia suddenly stops and turns to face him.  

"Domina?" He questions. 

"There is something I must tell you. Something I know you and Crixus have spoken of." 

"Yes?" 

Lucretia takes a deep breath. "Barca was never freed." 

Oenomaus looks at her in confusion. "I don't think I understand." 

"He never made it to the gates, Oenomaus." She replies."Quintus took his life. I just wanted you to know the truth, should anything happen to us." Oenomaus doesn't know what to say as he stands in complete shock at what he just heard. Lucretia looks at him with sympathy before she turns and begins walking again and he silently follows after her.  

Spartacus, Varro, and Tyronius are sitting against the bars when Agron and Duro are pushed into the cell by the men Glaber left behind. 

"Fuck ass, you Roman cock!" Duro yells at the guard that shoved him and his is punched in the face by another guard and is pushed to the ground.  

"Shut your fucking mouth!" The guard warns as he walks away and Spartacus looks over at the brothers. 

"I would caution softer words." He advises.  

Agron sighs heavily. "The shit keeps rising in this fucking hole." 

"Perhaps it best not to be present when it fills the mouth." Spartacus suggests. 

Agron turns to look at Spartacus. "What do you speak of?" 

"I speak of nothing." 

Duro turns towards him. "Nothing sounds much like escape. How would nothing find its way past Batiatus and all his fucking Romans?" Spartacus glances over at Varro and Tyronius who both nod their heads at him. 

"There is but one path." He says as he turns to look at the brothers. "We kill them all."