Longinus grinned at Titus childishly, "You should be so bloody lucky." Longinus knew whilst he preferred the fairer sex, an attractive man was just as welcome in his bed. Nonetheless, even the vague idea of Titus being that man made bile rise uncomfortably in his throat. Gods, not if his friend was the last man on earth would he...he shook his head to rid the thought from his mind and concentrated on the much cheerier conversation around discipling slaves.
He arched a brow as Marcus spoke, watching the man intently. His comments did sound as outlandish as he feared, but there was still something unnerving about the statuesque slaves that littered his shop.
"Of course I do," He picked up a grape and tossed it in his mouth from the side. His eyes briefly flitted over the female one who stood stock still, as if this conversation was happening out of earshot. "A couple to the mines, a few branded and sold if they ran, and the lash very rarely but," He shrugged, "I'm probably too easy on them. Some of the things I let them get away with..." He grinned and tossed in another grape. Pointing an accusatory finger at Titus he rolled his eyes, "This one probably thinks I'm too soft on them."
Longinus listened with well measured patience, honed through years of tedious negotiations with savages. Rage was not uncommon when it came to young Lucius, and whilst he tolerated it in the field or Britannia, if he was still the man's commander he would have clapped him straight around the head at the thought he'd unleash it in Rome. The idiot. His face displayed uncharacteristic neutrality though as he listened. A cousin? Well...that was unfortunate. But then with how vast some Roman families were now, not altogether unexpected.
He didn't say anything until the youneger man had finished, and instead rested his jaw on his fist, eyeing him coolly. He had a level head on his shoulders, and was already thinking about practical arrangements to make this better. In the short term, however, he sighed exasperated - finally breaking the silence - and added; "You petty, vindictive idiot." He shook his head and let a whistle of air past his teeth as he exhaled.
Clapping his hands together as if to rouse some life into the dank cell he eyed his comrade. "Why did you not come to me? You know we could have financed the best, money-grabbing lawyer or pay off a few of the idiots to get your claim." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "And what next?" He would offer all the help he could, even if his friend was not as remorseful as he had hoped he would be, but he needed to ask for it.
Longinus walked through the streets - excited for the days prospects. His mother had decided the games were not to her tastes, and Cassia - if it was possible - was even worse company when it came to Gladiatorial combat. She'd wince and screw her face up at even the faintest sight of blood, in a way he resolutely did not understand. At least his friend Titus could be relied upon to enjoy the bloodsport, however, and he whistled to himself in good humour as he strode the long way round to his domus.
It was as he did so that he crossed paths with a fey little thing that he recognised from previous visits. The blonde was British, he'd deduced that from her accent the few times they had spoken previously and she had the height and build of one of those little dolls his daughter adored. Titus, ever uninspired with names for his slaves, had obviously decided on Nymphias.
Arching a brow to her he inclined his head but something about her ashen face and resolute desire to stay seated confused him, and he arched a brow. "No, no I'm going inside to see him. We're going to the Games." He grinned boyishly and looked her over. "Are you ill?" It wasn't his place, but if she dropped dead down the street from Titus' domus and he hadn't asked her, he'd kick himself afterwards.
I am so, so sorry Beauty! I swore I had replied to this...I'm an idiot, forgive me!
Longinus only chuckled at his slave and with a mischievous grin, surveyed him; "Why? Did you find them particularly erotic? Should I be boasting about them?" He smirked and then broke into a garrulous laugh, moving to slap his slave on the back in a good-natured way with his good arm. Moving to the desk he took up post behind it and, managing to stifle a yawn, started rummaging through various scrolls and papayri and tablets, looking for the lists he needed.
Whilst he was working, however, he couldn't keep Attis from his eye line as he dutifully cleaned down his equipment. With a softer smile he glanced over his form before saying, quietly; "Thank you - for looking after me." It didn't need to be said, he was a slave, that was his job - that's why the family had bought him. But he wanted to say it. There were few people that aligned to Longinus' particular brand of energy and erratic behaviour and he seemed to have found a kindred spirit with Attis. Or at least one that could suffer him. "I think we're going to have some fun, you know." He added with a wider grin and then stuck his head back down, looking intently at the lists.
Maybe this posting wouldn't be quite so tedious as he first imagined?
Longinus couldn't help but grin roguishly at the view; both feminine and horticultural as they moved through to the garden.
Cassia stared wide eyed up at the woman, removing the nail she had been nibbling nervously from her mouth as she quickly looked to Metella, her British minder for support. When Metella only cast an arched eyebrow down, the little girl looked to her father for reassurance. Longinus just stared back at her with a puzzled sort of frown that was reserved for slaves, usually, who couldn't follow his instructions. Sestia's two sons stood to the side, the younger blushing but looking down meekly. Cassia, noticing that she was not about to get any sort of help stuttered quietly; "I...I was looking at the plants w-with G-gaius and it tipped over." She hurriedly looked away and Longinus arched a brow at her nurse, "Metella?" The woman sighed and shrugged her shoulders; "It's true, although I did tell young domina to be careful and was told to be quiet." The irritation oozing off of her was palpable, as was Cassia's shame. The elder son, Gallus, stood silent and broody - as if irritated by this childishness.
Longinus turned to Sestia and with a sigh, lightly brushed a hand over her arm in a way a familiar female friend might. He didn't think about how it looked. "Cassia Antonilla you will apologise to Sestia, and I expect you to clean this up." The little girl looked flabbergasted. That was what slaves were for, in her mind. She looked at her father with a frown of petulance but then relented and mumbled a; "I'm sorry Sestia." Very quietly.
Longinus turned to his host with a look of apology on his features, "It'll teach her that things she breaks don't magically disappear because one is wealthy." He indicated with a brief nod to Attis, Brysias and Metella as if they were nothing more than signs of wealth. Whilst he made use of his own slaves, he was not above mucking in himself. Life in the military - at least before he'd had the sense to bring his body slaves on campaign with him after his promotion to legatus - meant he knew how to sew rips in tunics, cook on an open flame and clean his own equipment. Not that he had the mind to make Cassia do anything of the sort, but it would be a good lesson to her that she was not above clearing up mess. Which she seemed to be understating as with hesitant fingers she picked up shards of smashed pottery.
Speaking in a hushed tone, out of the earshot of the children and hopefully the slaves he arched a playful brow at her; "I insist you come to my domus soon so I can pay you back for the smashed pot." He grinned. And hopefully, if he could drag his mother to the baths with Cassia, they might actually get to have an uninterrupted conversation. His grin broadened and he looked away. Yes, Lucius, that's all you want isn't it...a conversation...
If Titus was embarrassed, even through his drunken stupor, Longinus was moreso. He stared, eyes wide and mouth ajar at his friends eldest daughter and then promptly cracked his head back to the mosaic, trying to hide from her. Oh Gods, why did it have to be that song? He immediately reached out his good hand to punch Titus in the arm at the joke, the sound emanating even through his laughter.
"Sh...Shut up y-you idiot." Cracking his eyes he glanced up to the retreating form of Sulpicia and yelled after her, "S-sulpicia I-I I'm sorry! Y-your father is a-a drunken f-fool!" But by the time he had finished she had already departed from view with a dismissive wave of her hand. As if that wasn't news to her.
Leaning his head back he yawned, the silence in the house now making him drowsy - along with the pleasant warmth of the hypocaust fuelled underfloor heating. "C-chuck us a blanket will you?" He mumbled to his friend. The energy he'd have to expend to crawl to a spare bedroom and get himself to sleep in a bed, in his drunken mind, was completely not worth it when there was a perfectly serviceable floor to sleep on right here. If only the room would just stop spinning...just for a moment...
Charis only nodded meekly with a muted; "Yes, domine." and without another glance to the two men, departed for the garden where she promptly sat down on a bench, out of sight. This Titus Sulpicius Rufus was not what she had expected, but then she didn't know if that was good or bad. She put her head in her hands, musing over how to use this information and how to broach this very delicate situation with Tertius. He'd never paid any interest in her origins, she doubted he'd be thrilled with the idea of a sister in Rome (had she even mentioned she had siblings?) but something needed to be done.
Meanwhile, Longinus smiled politely and added reading and writing to the list of things that young women enjoyed - alongside poetry, theatre and flowers. Those ideas had come from friends spouses, although he couldn't say he enjoyed them much himself. Still, being good with children was a positive and he nodded with a smile. "I have a daughter - Cassia, she's..." He winced, Gods how old was she...he had to count backwards, "Eight. Nearly nine."
Poor little Cassia. Thank the Gods he had Metella to govern her. The British slave was a bit cold to him, but doted on his daughter in a way he never could. It was the closest she'd come to having a mother for the foreseeable future, he thought to himself with a little sigh. But deciding there were other topics to discuss which didn't exclude Titus, he arched a brow between the men and sipped at his wine. "Tell me, you're a Praetor aren't you?" He offered a good natured grin. Better to be honest, he thought, he wasn't a man who was any good at schemes or intrigue or hiding the truth, "How are you finding it? With elections coming up and finding myself at a loose end...the thought of the magistracy has crossed my mind." And Titus', he knew, but if the man wanted to press on it he should have asked himself!
Longinus only shrugged dispassionately and held out a couple of scrolls to Attis. He trusted the man with his life, certainly he trusted him to read through a list of names. Besides, both he and Aulus' slave had heard all the details now and it would be quicker to set them to the task than rope in his Tribune and get him up to speed. Taking the scroll from Titus with an arched brow but silently and glanced over it. "That's him." He agreed with a nod and reaching across the table he took a reed and dipping it into loose ink made an 'x' next to his name. When done, and as the others glanced over their lists he took a wax tablet and etched down the details of the scheme and what they knew so far so he wouldn't forget. His memory was not what it used to be.
"I'll send men to apprehend him, Tabnit and Appius once we've found this Gaius." He glanced up to survey the tent although his face was void of his characteristic smile. "Better to do it in one fell swoop than risk doing it one by one." And then he could well take out his frustration of this scenario on said men. Much as he might wish to wipe the smug smile from Titus' face to make himself feel better, it would serve him better to use his authority to punish those who had actually made a mockery of his leadership.
Throwing down the stylus and placing down the tablet with a clatter he sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Picking up the scroll he was reading he tried to concentrate but struggled, feeling irritation and shame bite at him like a yapping dog. "Any other Gaii?" He asked Aulus and set down his own parchment again.
Longinus took up Titus' post and lent languidly against the doorframe to the shop, absently running a hand over his freshly shaved jaw.
He really had minor interest as it was in the intricacies of shaving and grooming when it was himself undergoing it, let alone when it came to Titus' own shave. Instead, he let his eyes wander around the shop dispassionately, noting the neatness and order - nothing was out of place and aside the noise from the street it was eerily quiet. He thought to himself that he'd never quite been somewhere like this before. His eyes fell on the young woman who stood stock still, hands clasped around the wine pitcher and eyes glassy. He'd never quite seen a slave like that either, truth be told. Perhaps it was that he cut his own an odd amount of slack, but even Titus' had some colour and personality underneath their quiet mutterings of 'yes, domine'. And he knew his friend rules his domus with a tighter fist than his own.
With interest, he indicated with a jerk of his freshly cropped head to the two silent slaves in the shop. "How do you get them so...quiet?" He frowned. He felt more at ease asking personal questions now he was safely out of the reach of the razor and by the door. The same, of course, couldn't quite be said for his friend who was at the mercy of the knife. "I've never seen such...well behaved slaves. Have you, Titus?"
Longinus always seemed to have a natural buoyancy and energy about him, even in generally dire circumstances - of which this was one. Still, he chuckled and offered an incline of his head to the compliment. But it seemed the brief moment of levity was not to last and as he dropped his arms from his friend and pseudo-protege, he sighed heavily. Shaking his head, he eyed him with an arched brow.
"Not all the details. That you set a fire in your own bloody house and now even the most avaricious of landlords wouldn't be able to rent it out for all its worth." He also knew that it probably had something to do with the confusing cousin who had laid claim to said land, but that didn't excuse his actions nor did it really explain it.
With a jerk of his head to Vitus his secretary promptly left thereby leaving the two men alone. Longinus moved to sit on the rotting wooden bench that must double as a bed in this room and gestured for his companion to sit on the upturned bucket whose proper use he didn't want to think about. Shaking his head and running a hand through his hair he sighed and glanced at the younger man. "What on earth possessed you Lucius?" Of course his Tribune had his offer of help, unquestionably, but he wanted the truth first. He didn't know how seriously the younger man was taking this and much like their shared time in the military, Longinus still wasn't a man to let his juniors get away with mistakes without realising their gravity.