Written for: Griffndor.
(if this is not to your liking, just say so, and I’ll try again - no harm, no foul)
Prompt: Pullo/Vorenus, Methos. No death fic, non-con, pwp, crack, polyamory. I like established relationship, slice of everyday life type stories. Humor is good as long as it's not crackish. It doesn't need to be explicit to make me happy, PG-13 and R ratings are fine.
Summary: Vorenus and Pullo on the day that Herod and Methos come for a visit.
Disclaimer: I own none of the canon or historical characters. And yes, Herod really did do this.
Rating: Mature/pg13 for language and visual images.
“Your daughters remind me of my sister, Lucius Vorenus - straight-backed with the inquisitive air of a scholar. Very nice.”
“Thank you, Caesar,” Vorenus said to the compliment that had been paid once the girls had been led away by a deeply-freckled maid, a recent purchase from the end of the Civil War.
The freckled maid had been purchased so the three Vorenas would have a suitably feminine role model, as well as to problem solve when the middle daughter only wanted to wear green, and to teach the girls how to tend to infants.
And if Octavian wanted her during his stay, that was not something one could refuse the Emperor.
As the bones and shells of the first course were taken away by the servants, Vorenus recalled saying to his chef that, ‘The Emperor Octavian has chosen us as his hosts. You will prepare your finest courses’ before leaving the chef and cooking servants in the kitchen. Vorenus would have instructed the maid to tell that to the chef, but she had been preparing the Vorenas to be presentable when brought before Octavian.
They were midway through the second course of dormice, eels, and sparrows, when a messenger arrived at the door to this room, and whispered something to one of Octavian’s nearest bodyguards. That bodyguard swiftly moved to relay it to his Emperor.
Octavian brushed him away, and stood. Addressing Vorenus and Pullo, “A ship has docked just now, with the Idumean Jew Herod on board. I would have you both with me, as you were in the War.”
“When do we leave?” Pullo asked.
“Of course,” Vorenus obeyed, knowing the servants would clean up the leftovers, storing what had gone uneaten. Knowing the maid would take the girls back to their room.
‘I don’t like this,’ Pullo had said when, arriving in the dockside village, Octavian had taken over a suitable residence, and had one of good splendor be made ready for Pullo and Vorenus. ‘We should be at the dock, ready to jump aboard that ship and knock the wind from the traitor’s sails.’
Vorenus had shook his head and reminded Pullo that Octavian had a plan. ‘I know you mean well and are only trying to help, but in this instance…’ to which Pullo had nodded.
A message had come to Vorenus late in the evening, a written note full of proper writing and evidence of high education.
So Vorenus came as alone as the note had requested, to this empty warehouse strategically situated between the taken houses and the docked ship. He hadn’t reached his stature in the Roman military by ignoring all the squeeze points and places where an ambush could and couldn’t feasibly be carried out inside this place; training could be set only so far aside before it began following you and tugging at your arm.
“Welcome,” Vorenus was told by a stranger stepping halfway from the shadows across the large and empty storage room. The man’s accent was hard to pin down - fluid, even amorphous; even traders retained their natal speech to one extent or another.
“Well met,” Vorenus replied, stepping into the same amount of light as the other man. Equal footing. “So you’re the one who wanted to make introductions before our lords meet tomorrow,” Vorenus said.
“I am,” Methos said. I know you didn’t come here alone, and as long as the appearance is kept up, I don’t really care how many men you have lurking in the shadows ready to pin me to the ground with pillum. “I like knowing who I’m dealing with. See your face, hear your voice.”
“Well now you have.”
And now you can never hide from me, no matter how long you live. “But that doesn’t answer why you agreed to meet me here.”
“That’s also true,” Vorenus said, and asked, “And who might you be?”
“In Rome, my name is dead,” Methos said.
“I see. So you’re traveling under an assumed name, are you?”
“You could say that.”
“I have, and I’ve asked it.”
“Very well,” Methos said. “At present, I am Jacob Ha-Set Ha-Methos ben-Adam.”
“An inventive name,” Vorenus said, knowing enough of the region of and surrounding Judea to know the origin of those names: Jacob, a patrician. Set, lord of wild animals and wild lands. Methos could easily be a corruption or a dialect of Methen, the serpent who guarded Ra from Apothis. Adam, supposedly the first man.
“I do try.”
“And what is your business in Rome, Jacob whose prior name is dead?” Vorenus asked.
“Accompanying advisor, as it happens,” Methos said.
“And who have you been advising?”
“Herod, whom your people appointed to rule Judea.”
“Mark Antony did that,” Vorenus said. And if your friend Herod is fool enough to sail into Rome after being friend and ally to Antony for so long, then be aware you won’t be alive much longer if your survival is tied to his - and no god will save you.
“So he did,” Methos agreed. “I never said it was a wise move. But it should prove interesting.”
“Is that so?”
“Interesting in what way?”
“When I was his tutor, I ensured that he was good at games of skill and strategy.”
Vorenus gave a semi-impressed wave of one hand. “I have heard of your Herod’s skill at chasing Parthians away, when he has Roman soldiers on his side,” making sure to add that last half-sentence qualifier.
He knew the importance of politics long before I first arrived, but I impressed upon him how politics could be a fine stiletto as easily as it could be a cudgel. “Which is part of why I am sure his actions here will impress, even if it does prove to be his final performance,” Methos said.
“May as well grab a bite to eat then,” Pullo said, stepping in on a third side.
Damn it, Titus, Vorenus thought. You still have trouble with ‘keep unseen’.
“And what oven would cook food for us at this hour?” Methos asked.
“We’ve got one. Captive audience, you’d say. Think they’ve got a lamb ready for killing about now - that is what you lot eat, isn’t it?”
“My current hosts and my prior ones did, yes,” Methos said. “But I’ve learned to eat nearly anything.” Before I joined the Horsemen, I dined on human flesh from time to time. Funeral custom or not.
“Definitely got something for you then.”
“Very gracious of you,” Methos said.
“Nonsense,” Vorenus said, “we don’t get many guests who aren’t either old army buddies or businessmen attempting to fleece us.”
“You’re forgetting the men who come by to try marrying off their daughters to us,” Pullo said.
Or their sons to my daughters. “Marriage has been a form of politics since before the days of Sulla,” Vorenus said.
“True,” Methos agreed.
“We don’t need politics,” Pullo said to Vorenus. “We’re chums of Octavian himself.”
“Which only makes us more desirable as potential husbands,” Vorenus said “Though on the subject of your longtime friend, have you ever actually read anything he has written.”
“I should go,” Methos siad.
“No, stay,” Vorenus told Methos. “This is an old banter between Titus and myself.”
The next day, Pullo and Vorenus dressed as requested, in their full battle regalia, displaying every one of their accomplishments and victories - certain that Jacob Methos would be doing likewise. And certain that Octavian would most assuredly leave no question as to his victory ending the Civil War.
They had no idea what Herod’s plan or clothing would be.
They gathered in the residence Octavian had taken for his own during this stay. He will have the advantage of terrain, Pullo and Vorenus both knew. The place will be familiar to him, unfamiliar to Methos and Herod, making them less likely to pull any stunts or assassinations.
Vorenus and Pullo took their places beside and slightly behind where Octavian sat upon a suitable chair in the room. And waited for the others to arrive.
...…which they did shortly.
Methos followed Herod to the room where sits General Octavian nephew of Gaius Julius Caesar. While Methos would rather have stayed back in Judea - it hadn’t yet been a full generation’s time since he had last been here - but Herod was good with convincing arguments. Kronos would enjoy it: I taught the boy too well.
Everyone present, even Octavian, even his guards whose number included Titus Pullo, expected Herod to say (at the least) ‘I made a fatal mistake by supporting your late enemy Mark Antony.’ Maybe Herod would even fall on his own dagger.
Nobody expected what Herod did do:
He said, “I was unwavering in my loyalty to General Antony. He had my support at all times, even when others fled, abandoning him.” Then Herod took off his crown and placed it on the table between himself and Octavian. “Now, I will be equally faithful to you.”
Pullo wasn’t sure what Herod’s game was, aside from maybe possibly one last snubbing of Octavian via the reminder of Herod being a staunch Antony loyalist. Guy’s gonna choke on his balls, that’s certain, Pullo thought.
What Methos thought of Herod’s action, was, A bold move.
Octavian rose, and picked up Herod’s crown.
Dash it to the ground and step upon it? Vorenus wondered.
Octavian placed the crown back upon Herod’s head.
Herod, once more King of the Jews, bowed to Octavian of the Julii, Emperor of Rome.
Well that’s something, thought Pullo, Methos, and Vorenus.