Januarius grinned, amused by the mental image himself. Amused, again, by the man’s obvious pride in his station with Factonis Album. They all had their pride, didn’t they? They clung to it stubbornly, too, even with the indignity of being owned by another man. Jan wasn’t exactly prone to self-examination, but he’d picked up a few things about his fellow slaves since his exile from his father’s domus. Wryly, he supposed most of them applied to himself, as well.
Ah! He heard that grunt, quiet though it was. He’d found the problem. Jan dug into the man’s shoulder, working at that stubborn knot.
“A few times,” Jan allowed, glancing up from the man’s back. “I like them more than the games.”
Whenever a ticket to those games came his way he did his best to give it away or sell it, actually. Watching men hack away at each other, and at animals Jan would have been happy just to watch, was faintly nauseating. The chariot races themselves were a little too violent for him, truth be told. When accidents happened they were gruesome. Not that Jan would admit his distaste to anyone outside of the privacy of his own head.
“You must be very good,” Jan went on, “To work for Factonis Album. Let me know if I’m too rough. They say a vigorous man needs a vigorous massage, you know…”
Januarius managed, by dint of great effort, to keep from rolling eyes. The man now seated on his couch seemed positively reluctant. Bizarre, really. If anything, Jan’s troublesome clients usually went quite the other way, thinking that Jan’s clever, skilful hands offered more than a simple massage. A slave’s obligation to his master, of course, but insisting on such wasn’t generally the done thing in a polite, civilised place like this. Not when Jan had much more useful talents, and when there were many others available for that sort of thing.
Not that Jan would have to worry about such a demand from this man even if he weren’t half-cringing on the couch as though about to be tormented. This man, whoever he was, was no master.
“Ferox?” Jan asked, with some interest. Fearsome name. He oiled his hands and set to work without delay, fanning his fingers out and brushing the oil into the man’s shoulders. Muscles knotted, a strain—hm. Nothing he couldn’t handle. “I suppose you don’t train ladies’ horses, then.”
Ferox would be a soldier’s horse, or a patrician with certain Ideas about his own virility (and, Jan would wager, a small dick). Or maybe a charioteer’s horse?
Horses. Ah. Januarius was familiar with horses—was a skilled rider, actually, though he hadn’t been able to practice regularly in years now. He’d probably sit a horse like a sack of fucking parsnips nowadays, wouldn’t he. He’d probably be riding a horse shaped like a sack of fucking parsnips, too, for that matter. The fine riding horses of his father’s stables were far beyond him now.
Well, at least he didn’t have to shovel their shit. Januarius had been spared that particular fate.
“Horses?” Jan asked, beckoning the man towards the low couch where he did his work. “Sit. Is it a strain, or do you feel tight all over?”
Jan raised his eyebrows and his hands, expectant. He’d find out what the trouble was no matter what the man said, but right now he would wager it was simple soreness and tightness in the muscles rather than a more serious injury. Back injuries were generally obvious. Men walked with tender, mincing steps, their faces pale and the awkwardness in their gait easily spotted by a practiced eye.
Oil of mastic, thought Jan, for muscle aches. Oil of peach for the man’s skin—everyone deserved a bit of pampering, even if the scarred and sun-freckled man before him was clearly a lost cause. Oil of spikenard towards the end, for calming effect and pleasant aroma. This would be a simple task.
There were a great many things about working at the Thermae Mercuari that Januarius had come to love. Take the clientele, for instance. They were, well. Common, not to put too fine a point on it. Not much like the old masters who had wanted Januarius standing at their sides for endless, dreary hours, ready to hop forward and pour a new cup of wine whenever the level in the old had sunk to a perilously low level.
And those masters hadn’t been bad, not at all. It had simply been boring. Jan’s talents were wasted. They were wasted here, too, no doubt, but at least Jan was able to do something a little more interesting than standing about like a living statue with his fucking wine. Any idiot in Rome was capable of that. Even the barbarians, recently captured and capable of no more than a few words of Latin, could pour the fucking wine. Here in the baths Jan was nearly a proper physician.
Or a proper whore, depending on who was looking for his services. Jan tended to disabuse that set of customers of the notion as soon as he could.
The scruffy-looking man approaching him now might belong to either of the two camps. Hard to say, really, just as his rank was difficult to gauge; he was sun-worn and scarred, a man who had seen a hard life, but not necessarily a slave. A soldier, perhaps, or even a bloody charioteer. A patrician fond of the countryside who’d taken an unfortunate fucking tumble from his horse on one of his sprawling estates. Jan didn’t know. Jan wouldn’t guess, not yet, and he wouldn’t bridle unless (until!) the man made an arse of himself.
“Ave,” Jan said, smoothly, smiling as the stranger approached the couch and set of oils. “You wanted a massage? Is there anything troubling you?”
An old injury, if Jan were forced to wager, though it could just as easily be some strain acquired in the man’s line of work. Something outdoorsy, Jan thought. The stranger was clean and well-scrubbed by this point in his procession through the baths, but that air of scruff and hard work was ground-in.
31 | 13th Jan 44CE | Slave | Masseuse | (Mostly) Homosexual | Original | Rodrigo Guirao Diaz
Januarius is, frankly, a bit of a snot. He knows his place, but due to his upbringing as a pampered not-quite-son in his father's household, Jan does consider himself miles above most of his fellow slaves. Particularly those recently captured. Some of them don't even speak Latin. How barbaric! While Jan has no real expectation of ever again finding himself in the same cushy situation he was raised in, he knows his worth and is confident and fairly assertive (or, at least, as assertive as he can safely be).
Jan is well-spoken and well-mannered enough to fit in well in an upper-class Roman household. In the past, he used this to his advantage when it came to, well, selling himself. With no current household and most of his interaction being with less polished clients at the Thermae Mercuari, Jan is beginning to enjoy the freedom to act just a bit less polished himself. He can be a little mouthy, a little temperamental, and he's finding that he likes that... even if he doesn't have many luxuries for himself or a pleasant, comfortable domus to live in.
Despite that faint air of snobbery Jan generally doesn't have issues making friends. He's kind and earnest and genuinely interested in people. He's bright, even if he has little common sense, and always eager to throw himself into the next adventure.
Owing to good nutrition and (or so he claims) good breeding, Januarius is a handsome man. He's fairly tall for a Roman, though not toweringly so, and likes to keep himself fit. Januarius likes to keep his hair styled and his face closely shaven, too. He's more than a little vain, actually, and it's probably for the best that he lacks the means and the station to truly be insufferable about it. Though his hair is dark and his skin has a faint olive cast—unremarkable in Rome, in other words—Jan's eyes are an attractive dark hazel colour. When possible he prefers to wear colourful clothes (particularly in shades of green and blue, as he believes they bring out the green in his eyes).
Father: Titus Caelius Vitalis
Siblings: Several half-siblings
Extended family: None
The son of a wealthy patrician and his favourite slave, Januarius was raised in a life of relative luxury. His father was invested in the boy and kind enough to treat Aurora's son to tutors and more of an education than most slaves received. Januarius studied with a physician and intended to become a physician himself—with a manumission from his father to celebrate—when Titus Caelius Vitalis met an unfortunately early end thanks to a sudden bout of illness.
The household was divided up amongst Vitalis's childless wife and his siblings. None of them wanted any truck with Vitalis's illegitimate children, though, and so Januarius was sent on to a series of households and a run of poor luck.
Januarius never ended up with a particularly cruel dominus or domina, but neither did he find a permanent place to settle. He was educated and handsome and well-spoken, but he thought a little too highly of himself and was too reckless and high-spirited to fit in well as a placid tutor or household steward. Similarly, though Januarius was fit, bold, and often argumentative, he wasn't a seasoned warrior and sending him to labour seemed a waste. So, on he went, passing through a small handful of domūs before ending up in the Thermae Mercuari.
The chance to practice his skills as a masseuse was a welcome one. Januarius understands that he likely won't finish his training and work as a proper physician, but he is pleased to have the chance to do something useful at last. Something better than standing blankly at a new master's table, ready to pour the wine. He's also pleased to have the chance to speak his mind a little more often, working as he does with lower-class people than before. It's a little taste of freedom, really, and for now Januarius is happy to enjoy it. He'd like to finish his studies and become a proper physician one day, if he can find his way to a domus willing to allow it, but his current situation is mostly agreeable.