It was rare that Caius Martius spent his birth day in Rome. More often he was fighting here or there- and if he was honest, he preferred to spend that day like any other, among his men and the blood of their enemies. He had little patience for his mother's social engagements, the parties and gatherings she insisted on throwing ‘in his honor.’ But there was another, sweeter reason to go to Rome, one that had him pushing his horse just that bit faster…
“No, no, that platter is not right- oh, for Jupiter’s sake, pay attention !”
Virgilia rubbed her temples, hovering in the doorway and watching the poor servant cower in the face of Volumnia’s frustration. She had said her piece a week ago, when Caius’ messenger had arrived, bringing the happy news that the man would be home soon. She had said that Caius would not want any of this- not the figs, not the honey, not the senators and their wives. And as usual, Volumnia had ignored her completely, lighting up at the thought of the people's praise for Caius played out in a lavish party.
The latest messenger Caius had sent, arriving this morning at their door, said that the regiment would arrive at midday.
“Perfect!” Volumnia exclaimed, ecstatic. “The party is set for this evening, then!”
“But, Mother, that will not even give him time to bathe before-”
“My lady, the General is wounded,” the messenger tried to remind the matriarch. “A sword to his arm-”
“Yes, yes.” She waved her hand in dismissal. “Even better! Let them see him, with brave wounds earned for Rome, let them all see him in his glory!”
Virgilia could not stop it. Her mother-in-law was a force of nature. She could only work on the edges, ensuring Caius’ favorite treats were present, that there would be wine in his cup, and that he would see his son before the “festivities” began. She smiled. Her solemn, blond boy, just turned three. Perhaps they could make another, before Caius left again…
A gangly youth tumbled into the courtyard, all long legs and skinny arms. “He’s at the gates!” he panted. “Caius Martius is at the gates, my ladies!”
Time seemed to move in a confusing haze after that, each minute lingering too long, but somehow it all went too fast and then he was there, striding up their street. Hair dark with sweat, even in the chill air, face smudged with dirt. Virgilia’s gaze roamed over him. His left forearm was bandaged, there was a cut above his right eye, and she thought he might be favoring his left leg just a hint.
He always looked so tall when she first saw him, always sent a small trill of fear through her- the same one she had felt when they had just met, when she had no idea what to say to the hard, towering soldier before her. She didn’t think it would ever go away and she cherished it.
Caius hugged his mother first, telling her some of his battle, little facts that she could brag about. Volumnia was glowing by the time Caius turned away, surely already imagining telling her friends about her son’s victory.
“Wife.” His voice was rough, hoarse from shouting in battle. The hard lines of his face had softened from when he first arrived, his eyes searching hers for any distress, just as she had taken stock of his injuries.
He held out his arm, and she fell against his chest, hands roaming his back. She clung to him, tears wetting his neck. Here, he was here , solid, real, warm. He smelled of leather and dusty roads, sun and horse. Her fingers curled against his hard breastplate, silently cursing the material separating his skin from hers.
“Welcome home,” she whispered into his mouth as he stole a kiss, his lips giving and asking comfort against hers. “Later… just a bit longer and then... us…”
She brought him sweet treats during the party, made sure his cup was always full of wine. She tried to rescue him when he was cornered by a senator, lest he say something too raw, too honest. She saw the fatigue around his eyes, saw the thin line of his mouth, the clench of his jaw. She saw the deadly stillness of him, the way he held himself so tightly he was liable to shatter. She touched him often, a hand on his neck, on his thigh, on his fingers, and saw the way he relaxed for that moment of contact.
Volumnia presented him with a new sword, which he took with a self-conscious smile, kissing her cheek and offering awkward, public thanks. Volumnia urged Virgilia to give Caius his gift and so she handed him the new gloves she’d had made for him. She stroked his cheek when he kissed her, promising him in a quiet voice that it was not all she had for him.
Finally, finally, the last drunken fool had stumbled out of their door. A brief goodnight to the household, and they were finally, finally alone in their own bedroom.
“Come here, husband.” Virgilia took him by the hands, pulling him to the center of the room. “Let me help you.”
She untied his boots, pulled them off, cast them aside. Chestplate, bracers, shirt- all landed in a pile. Her hands were deft, quick, stripping him with loving efficiency. He breathed a sigh as the last piece of clothing dropped to the floor, his shoulders and spine releasing their hard posture.
“How bad is your arm?”
He grimaced. “More blood than wound, truly. It has been stitched, it itches, but does not hinder me.”
Dipping a cloth into a basin of warm water on the floor, she wiped his face, smiling at him as she stroked away the grime. She was careful of the cut on his forehead, rougher on the skin of his neck and ears. He stood stock still, except his eyes, which followed her as she bent to wet the cloth again or focusing on her lips when she stood. His mouth hung open, his breath strained and longing.
Shoulders, arms, each long finger. Down his muscled chest and she laid a kiss over his heart. Followed the light trail of hair down his torso, the hitch of his stomach at her touch, the rising of his cock between his legs as she cleaned.
Dip, stroke, smooth, soothe. Dip, stroke, smooth, soothe. Over and over, until his skin was free of dirt and his tense stillness had eased. She looked up, still kneeling from washing his feet.
He smiled down at her, his eyes sparkling with tears as he offered his hands. “I've missed you.”
She took them and rose into his arms, wrapping her own around his neck. “My husband,” she murmured, pressing into his strong body.
“Pretty wife,” he said back, dipping his head to find her mouth.
The kisses were deep, sweeping, needing . Her fingers tangled in his hair, the strands soft and silky. His hands roamed her body, fumbling blindly at her clothes until a seam gave way with a rasp. He broke away from her lips to nip at her exposed shoulder.
“Don’t ruin my dress, love, wait, just wait a moment-” She shimmied away from his grasp with difficulty, reaching for her belt with a wink.
“I’ve waited months for you.” He looked like he wanted to devour her, his eyes blazing. They traveled up and down her body as she bared herself to him. “So many nights, alone, wanting…”
She ushered him to the bed with a laugh and a shiver of longing. “Is your hand not good enough anymore, my lord?” She leaned over, pushing him prone. “I know it’s good enough for me,” she purred, lifting and placing a kiss on one slim-fingered hand.
He groaned, reaching to cup her breast, to circle her nipple. “Is that what you’d like tonight? My hand?”
“Oh no, my lord. I have other ideas… Lay back, now, relax... Let me help you.”
He propped his head up with a pillow as she slid down the bed. She wrapped her fingers around his cock, already so hard and straining. A soft lick to the leaking tip, the sound of his breath leaving him in a rush, the salty taste of him, the ache starting between her own legs.
“Virgilia… gods, your mouth…”
She was in no hurry; she knew what he needed after such a long time away. Slow licks, gentle, shallow sucking, a warm hand on his balls. The occasional scrape of teeth on his hip, firm lovebites on the tender skin. His thighs were stiff, clenched hard, a tremble starting in them as she worked. She cooed and whispered sweet nothings against him as she traced each vein, until his muscles were slack under her touch.
She crawled up his body, abandoning his cock standing straight, glistening in the candlelight. She paused to let his lips grope at her aching nipples, purring in satisfaction when he gripped her ass. She smiled down at him, running her hands through his hair, smoothing her thumbs over his forehead until he closed his eyes and pressed his cheek into her palm. His breathing was slow and even, his heartbeat strong under her, even as he groaned at the throbbing demand of his cock.
“My lord, so courageous, so handsome.” Her voice was low, husky, pulling his attention back to her face. His eyes were dark and hazy, the tight and pinched look finally faded from his brow. “It’s so hard to be without you, night after night… missing your body warming mine, missing your voice, missing your breath in my ear as we sleep…” She shifted, pulling his arms up. “Missing your mouth on me, missing your cock in me…”
He wet his lips with a quick flicker of his tongue. “Sweet wife, please. Let me taste you, I've nearly forgotten…”
Her knees settled on either side of his head, braiding her fingers through his as she pinned his hands to the bed. “Make me come on your tongue, my lord, make me cry your name...”
He knew what she wanted as much as she did him. Broad, sweeping laps, hot and wet against her own soaked folds. Delicate tracing of each petal. He moaned into her, gripping her hands in entreaty. She pressed down, rocking against his chin, gasping at the bump of his nose against her clit. He was ravenous, his mouth searching out every bit of sensitive skin, drinking down every drop of fluid, his hungry growls muffled by her body. She felt the burn of his stubble on her thighs, tightened them around his ears to feel it fiercer.
“Caius, oh gods, Caius, make me come in your mouth, make me come-” She squeezed her eyes shut, his lips sucking on her clit with single-minded purpose. Her legs trembled, her hips undulating as she rode his face in her own secret rhythm.
Her rutting became mindless instinct, a shudder wracking her body, his name formed in keening gasps. She was everything and nothing in that moment, until she slumped, spent, clinging to his hands.
Powerful muscles surged and Caius rolled her under him, his neglected cock like hot steel on her leg. “By the gods, I've missed the feel of you dripping down my cheeks,” he said, burying his face between her breasts.
She ran her hands through his hair again, tugging at an errant curl. “Caius. Take me, please, now. I need to feel you…”
He needed no further urging, taking only a few rolls of his hips to slick himself up in her folds before piercing her with a heart-wrenching groan. She arched, gasping with no sound, clutching his shoulders at the familiar but too-rare sensation of being stretched, being invaded, being filled. Her own fingers were never enough, not like this- this feeling of intrusive unity, of simultaneous joy.
“Sweet wife, beautiful Virgilia,” he whispered into her mouth before he kissed her, tasting of her body and dark red wine. “My anchor.”
She moved under him, meeting each slow thrust, letting the tension build and then ebb to build again between them. “Precious Caius… ever my love…”
“So hot, so wet-” He shook in her arms, grunting when he seated himself as deep as he could go. “Too good-”
She ran her fingers down his cheek, down the taut tendons in his neck. “It's all right, love. Come for me, come inside me…” One hand, she left on his throat, the other she slipped between them, pressing down on her clit with a moan, biting her lip and tilting her head to invite his mouth on her skin.
A handful more anguished thrusts and Caius cried out, his teeth gritted against the noise, his eyes screwed shut. Virgilia rolled against him as he shuddered, until she was falling as well, her eyes open to memorize his tortured, ecstatic face.
He collapsed, his weight crushing her into the mattress. She stroked his sweaty back, murmured soft things in his ear that she doubted he could hear over the saw of his breath. She said them anyway.
Turning to her eventually, raw emotion writ large on his face, he said, “You are so beautiful.”
“I am glad to have you home, my lord.” She brought his lips to hers, kissing him long and sweet. “Another year gone. Regrets?”
“Only the time I have spent away from you.”
“You'll like this, then.” Squirming out from under him, she reached under the bed to pull up a canvas bag. “For my lord's birthday.”
Caius propped himself up on an elbow, holding the bag. “Is this how you end me? You steal my essence and leave me weak, then hand me a snake in a bag?” he teased. “So eager to be a widow…”
Virgilia smacked his shoulder- he didn't even wince. “If this is how you accept gifts, maybe next year, I will be.”
Laughing, he tugged her down for a kiss. “Let's see, then.” He reached inside and pulled out a length of purple-blue fabric. “Love, this is from your dress-”
She hummed happily that he remembered, but it had been an incredible night,why wouldn't he? “Well, what was left of it. For your neck, it always gets so irritated by your breastplate.”
“Aren't you the clever wife…”
Another kiss, a tweak of her nipple, his hand between her legs. He laid her back, stroking, licking, stoking her into blazing fire. She cried his name again, and again, her victorious soldier, her glorious lover…