Stained by Holde_Maid
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Author's Notes:
As always, neither the Highlander: The Series universe nor its characters belong to me. Just borrowing them for a bit of fun. Also, my husband provided some of the historical detail. Any errors and omissions, however, are entirely mine.

This was written for Amand_r's Highlander Holiday Shortcuts at lj and is dedicated to lj-user idontlikegravy

A blue-eyed little boy stood on the street, leaning against the wall of his parents' fullonica, a clothes-washing shop. His name was Sextus. He was too young to go to school, and at the moment his parents had no errands for him. So he was simply leaning against the white-washed brick wall, enjoying the warmth from the sun above and the wall behind him. And he was watching the bucket his father placed in front of the shop every day.

Not just the bucket, of course - buckets holding some human urine are not exactly entertaining. Mostly he was watching those men who ambled by and urinated into the bucket. It was funny to watch relief spread across their features. And it was fun to try and spot who'd want to take a leak next.

Right now Sextus thought he had spotted the next candidate alright. A tall eques had stopped a stone-throw away. He was now eyeing the bucket. Surely he knew that the urine was used for cleaning the likes of the white toga he was clad in, although of course few boasted the narrow purple stripe along the rim like his. So, since he could hardly be pondering the use of the bucket, the only explanation for his thoughtful look, the boy deemed, had to be need.

The long nose, typically Roman in shape and prominence, twitched, then the tall eques began to move. He accelerated his stride and headed straight for the bucket, the boy felt. Yep, this was going to be the next contributor!

He had almost reached the bucket when something in the noise filling the street diverted his attention. His head turned suddenly to look back over one shoulder, just as he was reaching the bucket.

Little Sextus let out a warning shout, but it was too late. The tall man stumbled over the bucket, fell into urine-stained dirt and cobblestone. While he got up and curses flowed over his lips, Sextus shot into the shop to fetch his father. He would know what to do.

Seconds later, a short, sinewy Roman came out of the shop and apologised profusely to the eques and offered to wash his stained toga. The offer was rejected, "No, I don't have time to waste, and I do not have a spare toga with me, but thank you all the same."

Somehow coins had found their ways into his hand and now wandered into the fuller's palm. Sextus heard their clinking with relief - it meant fetching his father had been a good choice. Tips for adults were usually much better than those given to children.

* * * * *

The fair-sized town-house did not hold more people than usual, but with all this bustling and hurrying to achieve perfection at the last moment Diligenta, the head maid, felt as though the number of slaves had doubled. Major domus Gallicanus' voice was heard more often, as were steps on other floors and in adjoining rooms. The slaves had been sold along with the house, so making the best of impressions on their new master was imperative.

"Do you know what he looks like?" Serena asked now, as they put the finishing touches on the last room and smoothed the freshly washed linen on the bed a last time.

"No, I have no idea," Diligenta shook her head. She opened the door and ushered Serena out with a curt gesture. "I don't even think he has been here yet. Gallicanus claims he has only just arrived in Rome."

"Quick now, our new master is about to enter!" The call came from Felix, the doorman, and caused a dozen feet to rush to the atrium. There, the slaves stood in a row, as Gallicanus had instructed them. Everything was perfect now. Hopefully.

The first thing Diligenta noticed about the tall man entering the house was his status, of course. His toga bore a narrow purple stripe along the rim. An eques.

The second detail she saw, however, was less to her liking. The toga was stained and dirty. Clearly the new master had fallen in the street or when travelling.

Gallicanus bowed respectfully to the man, mentioned his current name and expressed his hope that he might continue to serve as major domus. Then he introduced the other slaves by name and function one after the other.

For the moment the new master did not seem to object to the names their previous owner had given them. When he got to Diligenta, he even repeated her name with a grin. "You will certainly get a chance to show your diligence in my service." His eyes indicated the toga, then he moved on.

* * * * *

Methos was quite happy with his first appearance in his new house. The slaves were already considering him clumsy, if not worse. In the weeks to come he would give them further proof of clumsiness, until the image of him slipping on stairs or dropping things was firmly planted in their minds. Nothing was further removed from his previous persona. And right now, that seemed like a very good idea...