(extract from The Pompeiian Horse)
Six young men came into The Zoo’s courtyard completely naked. They had hair on all the right places, so Horse was sure they were of age, just looked young. Scando was a rat, but not a pervert. Besides, if he got caught with underage whores, he could lose his business. The “larges” were equally nude, and Ox and Tiger were already semi-hard. Horse shook his head.
Scando stood with two baskets in the middle of the space, one in each hand. “All right, my ‘smalls,’ pick a ribbon to see which of the ‘larges’ will be your tutor.” They guys moved forward and started to choose ribbons, all of different colors. Once they finished, Scando put that basket on the floor. “Until your tutors give you a name, we’ll call you by the color you’ve chosen and you need to wear them around your head. If I catch you without your ribbons you’ll be punished. Understand?”
The six “smalls” nodded in agreement and tied the ribbons over their foreheads. The darker of the two dark-skinned boys (he had gotten the pink ribbon) seemed to want to ask something, but one look from Scando appropriately discouraged him.
“Come on and get your boys, my brutes.” Scando pushed the remaining basket forward, a nasty grin on his face.
Lion elbowed his way to get a ribbon first. “Pink,” he said, arching an eyebrow and looking at his charge. “Kind of skinny but nice, plump lips. You’ll do fine.”
Pink smiled a bit too eagerly.
“He’s not for your pleasure but to train him.” Scando waggled a finger at Lion. “Don’t abuse this opportunity.”
Rhino was the next. “Brown!” He waved his ribbon. The other dark-skinned kid was his charge.
Tiger got green. Elephant got black. Ox got red. That left Horse with the blue ribbon. His charge was the only one with truly long hair, and he appeared to be the shiest of the lot. Each charge moved toward their tutors. Blue gave Horse a little smile, his eyes downcast.
“Hello. I’m Horse.”
“I know,” whispered Blue, his voice breaking.
“Now,” Scando called their attention, “we’re gonna do mouth skills first. Here, in the courtyard, all together because the weather is nice and sometimes a customer might want to have more than one of you with him. So, you need to be used to doing things in front of others.” He looked at each pair. “I don’t let customers share one ‘small,’ so no group will gang up on any of you individually.”
“Lucky them. Tiger doesn’t have that same fortune,” hissed Ox.
“Shut it. It’s not my fault those morons wanted to recreate the siege of Emerita Augusta,” growled Tiger under his breath.
Still,” Scando continued, “there could be group gatherings, so you need to be ready for that. Whores can’t be shy.” He gave a pointed look at Blue.
Blue swallowed audibly, his auburn hair sparkled red as he nodded. Horse wanted to punch Scando for singling the kid out on his first day. It wasn’t fair.
One of the house slaves distributed cushions; others brought six high backed chairs. The ‘larges’ sat, their charges kneeling at their feet.
“All of you had done things with men before or you wouldn’t be here otherwise. Harden those cocks and let’s see those mouths working.”
Blue, coincidently, happened to have blue eyes, although a lot lighter than the ribbon around his head. He looked at Horse from lowered lashes, his eyes shining as if he was about to cry. “I am so honored to be at your feet.”
“What? Why?” Horse leaned forward. “You don’t have to say things like that. I’m not a customer. I’m not even comfortable doing this, but, for the time being, it’s our lot in life.”
“It’s not flattery. You’re a hero of this city. What you did for that widow and her family after you were free is something the people of Pompeii could never forget.”
“Gods, kid, don’t say such things. There’s nothing heroic in what I did. It was just the right thing to do at the moment.”
“No other person would have forgone the freedom they’ve just earned to save a low family from slavery. What you did was so selfless, poets will sing your praises long after this city is forgotten.” Blue put his hand on Horse’s cock. “Apollo has granted me a wish. Let me show you the appreciation I feel in my heart for your sacrifice.”
Horse trembled as the hand caressed his cock. The previous words should have drowned all desire, but it was the touch of a man, yes young, but a man nonetheless. He closed his eyes and allowed the sensations to envelop him as the hand pumped his hardness. Soon a tongue left a wet trail over his shaft.
“Pink! You don’t have to be so enthusiastic. You look like you’re enjoying yourself too much!” Scando yelled, breaking part of the spell and making Horse open his eyes.
What he found in front of him (the hollow cheeks, the adoring sky-blue eyes) was disturbing.
And this was just the beginning of the training.
Blue was the only Pompeii native of the six “smalls,” but as the days progressed he saw admiration in the eyes of four boys. Pink, on the other hand, scowled every time their eyes met.
“Tiger, what is the name you’re giving to your ‘small’?” asked Scando once the training had been completed.
“Squirrel,” Tiger said, winking at his charge, who made a funny gesture, pulling his hands to his mouth in the guise of his namesake as if gnawing on something.
The group laughed, even Scando. Squirrel could pass for Blue’s brother, although he had shorter hair and his muscles were all veiny and developed. The only thing marking him as a youngling was his boyish face.
“Dormouse,” Rhino exclaimed, grabbed his “small” and lifted him by the armpits like someone showing a prize. The boy, formally known as Brown, took a bow with a flourish as he was settled back on the floor. What Horse had mistaken for naturally dark skin was the result of many months working at a farm from where he’d escaped with only a very deep tan as reward from the experience.
“Elephant?” asked Scando.
“Have you seen these fair eyes and black hair? Since he can’t be a panther, I name him Cat!” Elephant took the kid by the shoulders with his long arm and smashed him to his side, shaking him jovially.
Cat licked the back of his hand and swept it over his hair as any domesticated feline would and sexily said, “Meow.”
Laughter was riotous this time. Even the slaves, watching the quasi-ceremony, cackled.
“What name do you give Red, my Ox?”
“Well, after much deliberation, seeing his physical qualities and sneaky behavior. You know, that red hair and those big ears,” Ox made a dramatic pause, undisturbed by the groans of the other “larges”, “I’ve only seen an animal like that back in Africa—.”
“Gods! Give up already!” Tiger shouted. “There’re not red animals! Are you crazy?”
“As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted.”
“This is not one of your stories,” Scando offered menacingly. “We don’t have all day either.”
“All right, All right. I name him Fox. It’s Fox.” Ox waved his hands in exasperation. “You know Fox rhymes with Ox.”
Scando arched an eyebrow. “I can change that name if I feel he’s gonna be attached to you.”
“Oh, please, master, I really like it,” Fox said calmly. “I’m not attached to Ox here,” he punched the big Numidian’s shoulder, “and I learned my lessons very well. I’ll be a good asset.”
“Fine,” Scando conceded. “You stay Fox, but you better behave. I’ve noticed you’re truly sneaky.”
“Thank you, master.” Fox’s smile was so big it brightened his entire face. The kid was clearly up to something.
Horse chuckled inwardly. Blue, who barely reached Horse’s shoulder, seemed to hear him, and their eyes met. He gave Horse one of those shy smiles.
“Lion what about you?”
“This one is good with his mouth and seems unable to keep it shut, so Parrot it is.”
“True,” said Ox. “Once those African birds have learned to speak you can’t make them shut it.”
Parrot only smirked as if he knew something the other people in the courtyard didn’t. Horse didn’t want to be biased just because the kid had been trained by Lion, his enemy, but there was something darkly odd about him.
All “smalls” seemed to know their names beforehand, but Horse had chosen to keep his decision from Blue until this moment. He wanted to surprise him.
“Well, Horse is your turn. What’s it gonna be?”
Horse looked around the courtyard, and then beaming, settled his eyes on his charge. “Lamb.”
Lamb stared at Horse frozen for several heartbeats. Suddenly, he sprang and wrapped his limbs around Horse, squeezing him and murmuring, “Thank you.”
Surprised by the action, Horse locked eyes with Scando, expecting a discouraging scowl (or worse). But even more unexpected than Lamb’s reaction was Scando’s almost approving grin.