Fandom: Rome (the series)
Word count: 2000
Disclaimer: Not mine. Also, not really theirs, but... more not mine than not theirs.
A/N: Unbeta'd, so please feel free to point and laugh at all mistakes! Or, y'know, tell me so I can fix them.
Summary: "We'll talk strategy," he tells the messenger. "Let him learn a thing or two about how we'll make his uncle's murderers die screaming."
Antony thinks he know how to handle Octavian, who was once just a boy and is now just a man. He's used to handling men, browbeating them until they give him exactly what he wants, and he doesn't really see any reason why Octavian should be any different.
That's not to say that he thinks taking control after Brutus and Cassius are defeated will be easy. On the contrary, he anticipates a challenge. Antony likes a challenge, thrives on it, and he doesn't want an easy victory. But there's a wide spectrum between easy and difficult, and Octavian is barely past his first growth of beard. He's a cunning little shit, Antony can freely admit, but Antony is not about to be defeated by someone whose mother he's fucking.
Atia would have him take Octavian under his wing, Antony knows. Antony isn't sure it's a good idea, but it's certainly not a bad one – friends close, enemies closer, and all that – so he arranges a meeting, just the two of them, three nights before they are due to catch up to Brutus's army. "We'll talk strategy," he tells the messenger. "Let him learn a thing or two about how we'll make his uncle's murderers die screaming."
It's not particularly surprising, but Octavian is annoyingly punctual. Just after the second hour he steps into the tent, looking even younger by flickering torchlight. "Strategy, then," he says, sitting down across from Antony.
"You won't have wine?" Antony says. "Abstaining from that as well, are you?"
"Not really," Octavian says, picking up a goblet and touching it to his lips. He does not drink.
"Can't imagine you drunk." Antony snorts. "Next you'll tell me you've had every one of the Vestals."
"To think the messenger said you wanted to discuss strategy with me," Octavian says coolly, again raising the wine to his lips without drinking. "I don't know what he was thinking. Perhaps I was drunk at the time and imagined it entirely."
"Jupiter's nuts, boy, you're like a dog with a bone. Tell me, then, what they taught you of battle in that school in Illyria." Antony downs his own wine, then snatches up Octavian's. It's still full, and he downs that as well just to see the look on the lad's face. Impassive, still, and as Octavian opens his mouth and starts in on battle formations and where best to position archers, Antony wonders just what it would take to shake the runt out of his calm.
Not so much a runt, though, he corrects himself. Octavian was a gangly boy, to be sure, wearing his toga praetexta like a sack that not even his seriousness could make dignified. But Illyria was good for him – and Mutina, where Octavian and his pet equestrians managed to end up the only living victors. So he must have trained a little, at least, enough to broaden his chest and fill out his arms.
More than that, though, Antony sees intensity, and a great unshakable sense of purpose that he had only ever seen in Caesar. It should be ridiculous, in someone just turned twenty-one, and Antony envies it a little. Mostly, he wants to damage Octavian's calm. It bothers him, though he can't say why, and it's all he can do not to reach over the table and slap him across the face.
"…And, as Thucydides pointed out, a good light infantry is superior in this particular type of topography than any kind of heavy infantry, particularly when combined with cavalry. After all, cavalry won Darius's empire for Alexander." Octavian is still staring straight ahead, reciting as if what he was saying was embroidered on the tent flap.
"Would you stop that?" Antony says, standing. "You're giving me a headache. A good general can't lead with a headache, that's the first lesson."
"Or a hangover," Octavian says, smirking, and finally, Antony thinks, finally he's getting somewhere.
"Did you say something, boy?" Antony asks. "All I heard was a whine, like a gnat in my ear."
"Perhaps you should wash," Octavian says. "Then perhaps you wouldn't have to worry about gnats."
"Not being afraid to get a little dirty is what makes a real soldier. You'll need to learn that if you're to become a general of the Republic. I doubt it will happen, but who knows – you may prove me wrong yet." He steps around the table, moving in closer. Octavian is still sitting, looking up at him like he's nothing. Dis's cunt, it makes him angry. "I can help you learn that particular lesson right now."
"What, proving you wrong? I've done that before, when I beat you at Mutina. Come to think of it, I don't really think I need to be taking lectures from a man whose army I sent fleeing into the hills of Cisalpine Gaul." Octavian's mouth twists, like he can't quite bring himself to smile at the thought of Romans fighting Romans.
Antony steps forward again. He's at Octavian's side now, and the lad is having to tilt his head all the way back to look him in the eye. He should be intimidated at Antony's size, Antony's strength; all he does is give a half-smile and wait for Antony to say something.
"I think we both know that it wasn't you who won that battle," Antony says. "If it were so, you wouldn't be here. You need me, you cold little bastard, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let you imply otherwise."
"I need your legions, yes," Octavian says, "but Lepidus would do just as well, I think, were you to fall in battle."
"Don't be stupid," Antony snaps. "Lepidus isn't half the general I am."
"Indeed not. He's twice the man you are, at the very least. You're a petty, vindictive sot with no self-control and a tendency towards cowardice. I'm surprised you made it this far without either your cock rotting off or someone stabbing you in the back."
And somewhere in the part of Antony's mind that isn't red with anger at the words "cowardice" and "sot" and "stabbing you in the back," he registers Octavian's sharp intake of breath that indicates that he realizes, too late, that he has crossed a line.
He hauls Octavian up by the arm and whips out a dagger from a sheath at his back with his free hand. "I have been accused of many things, boy," he says softly, "but no one calls me a coward to my face."
"To your back, then," and Octavian is clearly still not shaken enough to shut his mouth.
So Antony pushes it even more. He drops Octavian's arm and takes him by the balls, pressing the dagger into the soft flesh just enough so Octavian will be able to feel the cold metal, and then he speaks slowly. "This is not a game. And even if it is, you're not going to win." He moves the dagger away a fraction, just enough that Octavian can stop holding his breath. "You talk to me like that again, boy, and I will make sure the only way you can get an heir is the same way your uncle did."
That's when he feels it, brushing against his arm, and it makes him grin in a way many, many women around Rome and the provinces are very familiar with. "Octavian, you horny little goat, I had no idea." He's still got a knife to the lad's balls, so Octavian can't exactly jerk away, but it's rather obvious he wants to, which makes Antony grin even wider. He keeps the knife in one hand, but moves the other up, dragging the palm along the shaft of Octavian's cock and up to push back the foreskin. Octavian's mouth twitches, and Antony considers it a victory.
"It's just a reflex, you know," Octavian says, and his voice comes out like he's speaking through water. "I can't help it."
"So a cock like a satyr is a reaction to having a knife held to your balls? Not the reaction I'd have, but you always were an odd one." Antony moves the knife to the crease of Octavian's thigh, and Octavian gives a little gasp – so Antony can't help but speed up, wanting desperately to get him off if only so that Antony can see his face when he comes.
"You're not going fast enough," Octavian bites out, speaking right into Antony's ear. Antony wishes fleetingly that he'd use his mouth for something other than talking, but he's relatively certain that isn't going to happen. "Tighten your grip – I won't break."
"Shut up, you bossy little cunt," Antony says, but complies. "Done this a lot, then, have you?"
"And you haven't?" Octavian asks, panting slightly on the vowels. "Either that, or you're just a – aah – a very slow – oh, faster – slow learner."
"You really never shut up, do you?" Antony asks, but the question is pretty much rhetorical at this point, because Octavian just bit down hard on his ear, and it makes him want to shove the lad down to the floor and jerk himself off onto Octavian's red tunica, just so when he gets back to his tent his pet equestrians will know exactly what he's been doing.
Octavian must be a mind reader as well as a cunning little bastard, because one of his hands comes up under Antony's tunic and finds his cock, hard as Priapus and just as desperate. "Apparently I'm going to have to show you how it's done," Octavian says, and drags his teeth down Antony's neck, biting down at the crease of his shoulder as his hand begins to stroke, and by Hercules the lad knows what he's doing with a cock in his hand.
"That's it," he mutters as Octavian's thumb brushes the head of his cock, spreading precome around and scraping over the slit with just enough nail. "Fuck."
And then he drops the knife.
Octavian hits him full across the face, a closed-fist punch that shouldn’t pack the power it does from so close, but snaps his head back because he wasn't even close to braced for it. The lad still has his hand on Antony's cock, though, and Antony grabs him by the hair and pulls him down to grind their lips together, fighting with tongues and teeth and breath instead of fists. Octavian is jerking him quickly now, roughly, like he wants it to hurt, but his cheek is bleeding in what he thinks must be the shape of Octavian's signet and his mouth tastes like sweat and mint and water, all Octavian, and all he can do is cant his hips up, try to match Octavian's rhythm, and do his damnedest not to come first.
In the end, he's got fifteen-odd years of experience in delaying his release for reasons including pure spite, and Octavian is gasping into his mouth and spurting across his hand and arm and his own tunica a full twenty seconds before Antony follows him, coming so hard he thinks he hears Venus applauding somewhere. Or laughing, perhaps.
Octavian releases him like Antony has just defecated on his hand instead of come on it, and cleans himself off carefully with an edge of Antony's discarded cloak. "I'll tell my friends that you're confident the battle will proceed favorably," he says conversationally, as if they'd been drinking honey-water and playing dice. "I expect that in the future you'll refrain from implying I need your help with any sort of strategy." He looks up, eyes fierce. "We will not speak of this again."
"Of course not," Antony mutters. "That would be imprudent."
Octavian gives a sharp nod and walks out of the tent. Antony watches him go and then slumps into the chair, snagging the cloak from the floor and wiping himself off with it. Doing his best to stop thinking, he yells for a slave to bring him some more wine, and fervently hopes that the battle comes soon.