Summary: Syphax stands guard for MC (Flavia) during his least favorite part of his job.
Syphax stood in the shadows of the hallway of Cassius’s home, watching silently as the senator escorted Flavia towards the room at the end. The bedroom. This was always the hardest part of his job, but he knew the score. Flavia was a courtesan; it was her job to entertain patrons. Syphax also understood and supported her desire for revenge and to reunite with her family and he would do anything to help her. Unfortunately, sometimes that meant standing guard as she seduced her patrons.
He always hoped she’d glance towards him before going into the bedroom, but she never did, which relieved him. The contradiction wasn’t lost on Syphax, but he knew it was part of the role she played, that they all played in Rome. However, part of him wished that just once, her eyes would meet his, a momentary reminder that she was his. But she wasn’t, not really. Syphax believed Flavia when she said she loved him, but she couldn’t really belong to him, not in Rome.
The bedroom door closed and Syphax quietly headed down the hallway to take his post nearer to the door. He was doing his duty, staying close so as to hear Flavia’s shouts if anything went wrong, but in doing so, he was often privy to other sounds he didn’t want to hear.
Syphax stood quietly by the door, his back ramrod straight. He couldn’t hear much at the moment, only the murmurs of conversation and the occasional flutter of Flavia’s laugh. What had Cassius said to make her laugh? Did she actually find him amusing or was this all part of the act? Stop, Syphax thought, trying to get his mind under control. There is no sense in committing yourself to further torture.
After a while, the conversation faded. Syphax closed his eyes–he knew what would come next.
The other side of the door was silent for a time, but then he began to hear familiar noises. He wished he could block them out, but it was his duty to stand by. And so he did, remembering the conversation they’d had after the first such visit.
“This is not easy for me either,” Flavia said gently as her hand touched his cheek. Syphax leaned into her caress for a moment before taking her hand in his and kissing her palm.
“I know,” he said.
“And given the choice,” Flavia continued, “I would devote myself only to you.”
She stepped closer, pressing herself to him as she tilted her face up towards his. Syphax gazed down at his golden haired goddess and marveled yet again at her beauty. When first he had seen his maenad enter the scholae, he was certain he had never seen and would never again see a creature as beautiful as she. But with each passing day, Flavia grew more and more beautiful in his eyes through her warmth, her kindness, and her love. He brushed the hair back from her face and lowered his lips to hers. Her kiss was honest and he could taste the truth of her words against his tongue.
This is what Syphax remembers as he listens to Flavia’s pleasured moans through the door of Cassius’s bedroom. He is confident in her love, but that doesn’t make it easy to listen to the attentions men lavish on her. Syphax shakes his head, forcing his thoughts away. He and Flavia both had their roles to play in order to survive. But someday, he hoped, they could do more than simply survive and actually begin to live again. Together.
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