Secret Slasha — The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha — The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

Rich Men Know Better
By Lee Greene
For A Secret Slasha Dropout

He braced his foot against the brick wall and came into a harsh collapse. He was too tall for catacombs of Pompeii's brothels, but no one ever complained about having to bend him over.

Most of the men would finish, scratch their chests, yawn, and duck out as fast as they came. The librarian had a different alchemy: bronze coins became silver for a good story of hearth and home beyond the northern borders.

When he came to Pompeii, he could've become a free laborer and worn down more than his knees before he made a third of what he brought in at the Lupanar. He could've been a rich man's concubine and never seen the light of day. He wasn't rich or free by his father's standards, but that was why there was a continent between them. It was bittersweet to force his thoughts back to Britannia, but the librarian would stroke his hair and press hard-earned coin into his hand for more.

The librarian may have been disappointed to learn the blue men were merely men, but he'd stay for hours listening to the tales of Borvo and Aveta, Verbeia and Epona. The whore thought him merely an eccentric until his confession: his discovery of giants in the hills.

No one could account for the rumbling underfoot or why the water smelled of sulfur; strong men went up to work on the aquaducts and came back spooked. The librarian worked for Pliny: he'd gone through every document in the senator's stacks, every useless detail. The librarian made him swear not to tell a soul; he acquiesced to those pleading eyes with cock on his mouth. There was always the potential for profit in promises.

Rich men know better than to reveal their secrets to their whores.

The librarian was not a rich man.


"I found her," he exclaimed. "I've been auguring for months now and I finally found her. I want you to teach her everything you know."

He pushed a dazed child forward, at first look a boy. "She's Germanic," he explained. "You know how they are." The whore nodded. She looked terrified and malnourished. Her long blonde hair was surely now atop one of Rome's balding dowagers, trailing past her pearls into the depths her decollatage.

"Tell her how to know when a horned man is Cernunnos. Tell her how to capture the stag will vomit coins into her hands. Tell her the real names of the gods, the true names that Caesar never heard. Tell her everything she needs to know. Because she will save us. She is strong, fast, and heals to the cut like it never happened. It is written on the entrails of every dove in Rome. Do you understand? I have found her, and I need your help before we are to go to the hills. I know it seems impossible, but she is portended to defeat the creatures in the darkness. The giants may be more powerful than man, but they are not more powerful than the Fates. There is hope."


They did not declare a civilized war.

The giants looked down from Mount Vesuvius to see the Romans worshipping their god of fire. The next day, they sent up their own behemoth column of smoke. A battle cry. A mockery.

For a month, the whore had humored the librarian; when the conversation turned to giants, he feigned shivers of fright (as desired as any shiver of pleasure. And as lucrative). When he looked to the hills, he realized every word from the librarian's mouth was true. The ground quaked under their heavy feet as they had amassed their legions; then those monsters sounded their horns and soft rocks rained down. Surely, this was merely an overture to a magnitude of horrors never seen in any mortal war.

He had gathered up his valuables -- his mother's ring, his savings, a small box of figs -- but he took one look at the throngs in the street and couldn't take another step. The city thrashed; what Roman ever imagined himself a refugee? It was madness: the librarian and the girl would be killed. Then the people by the sea would be killed, the people in the roads would be killed, and he himself would be killed.

But just maybe that sweet, daft man was right, maybe that nymph would fight back the giants. Maybe they would come back, maybe the women would stop wailing, maybe the city would stop burning. He closed his eyes and sent up a silent prayer that librarian would come back to him and pay off that last goodbye kiss he hadn't paid for. He closed his eyes and dreamed of raising up a new home made of the bones of slain giants.