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Vivaine's Vagaries

My mind is a very strange place to live sometimes

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Victory Road - Original, Steampunk, Alternate History
Genre: Original, Steampunk, Alternate History (Greco-Roman), M/M
Word Count: 1115 words
Rating: PG for mild cursing
Notes: Via Vittoria = Victory Road
For the history mavens: The Via della Vittoria was built during WWII by Italian troops. My version is a Roman period road that follows the same path.
Originally posted for cinnatart's birthday on her ~ X♥X OPEN FANDOM & OPEN PAIRING KISS MEME X♥X ~
Summary: A soldier returns home from abroad.

Victory Road

Davi paused on the road at the crest of the hill and wiped a runnel of sweat from his neck. A cooling breeze kissed his face in the shade of the thick trees and his horse blew a heavy breath, as glad for the rest as he. Down in the valley golden wheat swayed in the same breeze. The mechanical harvesters chuffed steam and smoke as they sliced through the stalks, leaving neatly cut swathes of grain behind them for the sheavers and gleaners to gather. The harvest looked like a good one this year; the merchants on the road behind him would be pleased.

Home. Two years, four months and eighteen days he’d spent riding with the legions, but he was finally home. Their campaign had been a successful one - a few skirmishes with the desert tribes but mostly just showing the flag along the coastal road. The southern coast of the Middle Sea had been part of the massive Macedonian Empire since the age of Alexander Magnus; the Via Vittoria from the Suez to the western ocean was as peaceful as the waters of the Aegean. And the imperial legions kept it that way.

“Almost there old boy.” he sighed and kneed his horse forward.

A shout went up as he neared the workers in the fields. Several of the men came running, pikes in hand, but their leader stumbled to a stop on the road ahead of Davi.

“It’s Lord Davrin!” he cried “Lord Davrin’s come home!”

The news was shouted across the fields and several of the steam harvesters shrilled a welcome with their whistles. The people stopped their work to cheer and wave him on toward the keep, some falling in beside him on the way. Davi found himself waving back, clasping their upraised hands and calling to familiar faces in the crowd. His chest ached at their warm welcome. These were his people. His and Alaric’s.

Entering the forecourt of the villa at the head of the laughing procession he saw his tall husband standing on the steps patting a gasping boy on the back. As if the tumult behind him had not been enough fanfare, word of his return had evidently run before him on swift, young feet. He caught Alaric’s grey gaze and felt his throat close. Why had he ever left this place?

Davi dismounted and held the stirrup strap for a moment, letting his legs adjust to carrying his weight again. He watched as Alaric came down the stairs toward him and he saw that welcoming smile melt into concern.

“Davi? You‘re early, love. We didn‘t expect you for weeks yet.”

“I’m home.” Davi smiled, proud that his voice only wavered slightly.

“Yes!” Alaric shouted, grabbing Davi into a bear hug and swinging him around in a circle, “By the gods, I can see that.” He set Davi back on his feet and stared into his eyes in wonder. “You’re home.” he whispered.

“Kiss him!” someone shouted and the giddy crowd took up the chant. “Kiss him! Kiss him!”

Alaric cupped his cheek in one large hand. “May I?” he asked.

“I’ll step on your foot if you don’t.” Davi grinned.

The kiss was warm, and soft, and tender, and everything Davi had missed about his beloved. He snuck his tongue out to lick at those dear lips and Alaric growled softly. The kiss firmed, deepened and became something more. It was no longer just a kiss, it was raw emotion given flesh. It was a claiming, each of the other, a reaffirmation of the vows of loyalty and love they had sworn before the gods. Davi ached with long suppressed desire as the kiss lingered into tenderness again. The crowd shouted and cheered, their roar of approval ringing from the encircling walls.

Crushed in those strong arms Davi felt his tears finally fall. His husband, his philoi, his beloved. This was where he belonged. This was his home.

A trumpet shrilled in the distance and Davi muttered in denial. He didn’t need to heed trumpet calls here.

Again the trumpet sounded, louder and nearer. The crowd murmured and shifted restlessly.

A third trumpet call and Alaric shook him by the shoulders. “Gods and godlings, Davrin, wake up.” he growled in a voice that was not his own.

Davi sat straight up on his cot, still clutching the wadded bedding in his arms. Hrothgern, his second-in-command stood next to the cot shaking his head in resignation.

“Some day, Tribune, I’m not going to be here to wake you up and they’ll strike the tent down around your head.” His duty to his young officer completed, the aging cavalryman turned and stumped from the tent.

A dream. Just another damned dream. Davi flopped back on his cot and scrubbed his damp, scratchy face with his hands. Curse this gods-forgotten, heat-blighted, sun-blasted, dust-befouled land and every flea-ridden dog of a soldier in it, he hated dreaming.

The creak of wagon wheels announced the arrival of the quartermaster’s team, ready to break camp and load their wagons. Their noisy argument with Hrothgern over which tents to load first promised to give him at least enough time to pull himself together and dress.

He knuckled the sleep from his eyes and contemplated the sweaty state of his tunic. No help for it - he’d have to face the laundress again soon. He used the basin of warm water (always warm, there was no such thing as cool, refreshing water on this campaign) to wash his face of the crusted salt and grit then quickly dressed. When the ‘emperor’ called the legions marched, and where the legions marched the cavalry - and its officers - must ride. One of these days he was going to stuff that blasted horn down someone’s throat.

As he stepped out into the already blistering Egyptian sun, he measured the distance he had left to go. Eighty-four miles along the Via Vittoria to Alexandria and the ships that would take them north to Byzantium. Eastward again across the length of the Black Sea, then some 200 miles on horseback into the mountains. He made a vow to himself - he would count every mile as a personal victory.

He was going home to Alaric.