Marcellus supposed he was technically a Roman, though the citizenship of a freedman was shaky at best in his opinion. He was only allowed to be free because someone had recognized his talent for the races and let him be free to pursue that career. He was totally at Spurius's whim and he sometimes resented that, making him question whether he really counted as a Roman. Romans were free. Marcellus could never truly be free of his sponsor. Cynane accepted his apology and then conceded that she maybe could enjoy the races. He brightened up at that. "Excellent. I can get you in for free if you ever want to come by yourself." As a charioteer, he did have a certain pull with admissions to let people in for free.
Cynane went on to describe the things she liked, ending it by remarking that she wasn't Roman with a proud little smile, which Marcellus answered with his own grin. "That is clear, you certainly don't seem like those other women." He meant it as a compliment, not that she would accept it anyway. "My mother was Germanic, I think. But she never really acted like a German. She acted like a Roman." Or like a slave.
As she stopped, he leaned over to catch his breath, his hands on his knees. After a brief moment, he straightened up and looked at her, grinning sheepishly at her flat tone. "Sorry. I get so caught up in the races, I forget that not everyone loves them like I do. So I'm sorry. Really." He listened to her speak again and he nodded, scrubbing his hand on the back of his head. "Yeah, I get it. You don't have to like the races."
Marcellus was born in Rome and raised among horses, so naturally he enjoyed the heart-racing, blood-rushing excitement of the races, both as a spectator and as a competitor. But what did Britons like? How did they spend their free time? Surely, they had horses. "Well, what do you like?" He paused again, sizing her up and psyching himself up for his next statement. "Maybe you should give the races another chance - maybe you should come sometime without your mistress. I think you'd like it if you just gave it another chance."
Marcellus chuckled low in his throat, ready for the challenge of catching her. This woman made him excited as few others did, because she had a good sense of fun like he did. Roman women, especially high-class women like Aurelia, were often sticks in the mud or coquettes, and he didn't always want to pursue a woman (metaphorically speaking.) But pursuing Aurelia on foot showed him her gaiety and spontaneity. So as she stated that the games could begin and then dashed away, he let her get a small head-start before he began, as he knew he was probably much faster than her.
She turned a corner in front of him as he pursued her and as he turned the same corner, he saw the elderly slave and a small part of him was sorry for almost crashing into him. But the games continued and she led him into the gardens, and he promptly forgot his remorse. He was gaining steadily on her as she turned toward him, and after a second, he had cornered her against a hedge, his body quite close to hers. He smirked at her through his heavy breathing. "Oh, the loser always wants a rematch," he teased, his eyes stealing a glance at her tempting lips. "But I won fair and square and I intend to collect my reward." Then, he boldly leaned down and pressed his lips against hers.
Marcellus's eyebrows raised as Cynane spoke furiously, telling him he knew nothing about her. Well, yes that was true - they had just met! But it seemed she had misunderstood him; what he had said had been in good fun and he certainly didn't mean she was heartless because she didn't like the races. He watched her in confusion as she stood and stormed out of the tavern, sitting still for a moment as a few of his friends who were sitting nearby punched his arm, teasing him that women ran away from him. He rolled his eyes and scoffed, then stood, throwing a couple coins onto the table and jogging after the woman.
At the door of the tavern, he looked around for the woman, trying to see what direction she had gone, and he caught a glimpse of her back. After a second he caught up to her. "Wait a second! Wait!" He got in front of her, hoping to stop her walking so he could explain himself. "You misunderstood me. I was joking, of course you're not heartless." But now he wasn't really convinced that she had a huge heart, anyway, seeing as she had stormed off after a simple misunderstanding.
Marcellus gave her an exaggerated shocked look. "The races are only the most exciting sporting event in the world! The athleticism of the horses, the danger, how can you not love it?" Those were the reasons Marcellus loved it anyway. He always felt his blood rushing in the most exciting way before, during, and after a race. He wondered if that's what a gladiator felt like when he was in a fight. "You don't have a heart if you don't enjoy the races." He was really impassioned now; questioning the races was a good way to get his blood boiling. But he wasn't really mad now, just passionate about the races.
Marcellus listened as she explained she didn't see a lot of action, but that she was always ready. "Well, I'm sure your mistress appreciates you. You seem like a capable warrior, from what I can see." It was genuine.
Marcellus nodded as she explained that her son wanted the life of a charioteer. It was a pretty desirable life, little responsibility except for showing up for training and taking care of your horses. And all the pomp that came with it, the drinks people gave you for free, the women that threw themselves at you, the boasting and bragging. It was an enjoyable life, to be sure. Why shouldn't the boy experience it? He could run away when he got older, live his true dreams. It wasn't his place to put the idea in the boy's head anyway, so he would just show him the stables and let him figure it out for himself.
That look in Aurelia's eyes always went straight to him and he gave a smirk as she reminded him of his place. He didn't mind his position in life - it just meant people didn't expect much decorum from him. And he knew Aurelia hoped he didn't have any decorum, least of all tonight. He shivered in anticipation as her foot inched up his thigh. She was a woman who knew what she wanted. She then said he would have to entice her. No problems there, he loved a cheeky game.
He watched as she dragged herself against the wall toward the door, still leaning against the wall where she left him. "Oh, I can be quick," he said with an ironic grin. A quickie was just what the doctor ordered, anyway. Then she asked if he could catch her and his grin turned into a smirk again. "You won't even know what hit you," he said, tensing in preparation for a run. He was used to making his team run, but he could be fleet as well.
This one had a temper on her. Marcellus didn't mind that - he found it refreshing. And her comment about bets was amusing; couldn't she just enjoy the athleticism of both the charioteers and the horses? That's what he liked, anyway. He even enjoyed the horseback races he engaged in sometimes, particularly because of the closeness between himself and his mount. "Ah, that's not a positive attitude to have! You can like races and not bet on them!"
Then she said she didn't know him well enough to tell him who she worked for and he shrugged. "Suit yourself. It doesn't much matter to me. Do you see a lot of action, being a bodyguard?" He was still genuinely curious - he wasn't much of a fighter, except for brawls he sometimes got into when deep in his cup. But she seemed like a stoic fighter type all the way through, which was fascinating.
Marcellus was in no danger of getting his head stuck in the clouds - he was shooting for the moon, after all! He did have a tendency to get a big head, though, so Cynane was wise not to compliment him. She spoke again, saying that she had just watched him race, which made him grin. "Oh, you did? What did you think?" He wasn't really fishing for a compliment (but it wouldn't go unappreciated!) He had outdone himself today, along with the rest of his team, of course. He was proud of them all.
Cynane then explained that she was a bodyguard, which raised his eyebrows. "Ah, so that's why you're wearing... that," he said, glancing at her clothes. It was curious to see a woman wearing such clothes, but if she was a bodyguard, it made sense. "Who do you guard? Anyone I might know?"
"Oh, you mean you don't want to quote poetry to compliment me?" he replied, pretending to pout, but then resolving into a flirtatious grin. "I figured my form was handsome enough for a few lines." Her next comment perplexed him a little, so he decided to ignore it. He wasn't known for being a big reader; though he knew how, he was never seen opening a scroll to read anything. Horses, drinking, fights, and women were plenty to keep him occupied. As he undressed, he watched her as he eyed him, so he paused with just his subligaculum on, spreading his arms wide so she got a good picture. "Pleased you invited me?" he laughed. Without more teasing, he pulled the new tunica over his head, adjusting it appropriately so it suited him.
She spoke some more, talking about her everyday activities, including being a terrible mother. Marcellus was blessed to have not sired any children - none that he knew of, anyway. "Oh, hoping he'll enter my line of work, are you? Or trying to gain points with him by using me?" His tone was light; he clearly didn't mind being recognized as the talent he was. Moving closer to her, he leaned against the wall next to her, quite close. "Anything for you, Aurelia. Your son will have the finest tour of the stables available. For a price, of course." He expected this night would be quite a lot of fun, much like all the other nights he spent with her in his company. "And you know you don't have to try hard to get under my tunica." Over the rim of his goblet, his eyes were full of mischief.
It was one night when Marcellus hadn't been out late. The rumbling woke a normally light-sleeping Marcellus, who barely registered what was happening. But his senses awoke and he looked around in confusion. "Well, shit," he said, grumbling to himself. It could never be a quiet night. At a steady trot, he made his way to the courtyard, from which he could hear the stirrings and noises made by distressed horses. Looking around a little more, he saw the various staff members, as well as his fellow charioteers, who began following Marcus's orders to bring the horses out of the stable. That was a good point! The roof wouldn't necessarily hold, even though he hoped it had been built well enough to withstand the earthquake!
Moving quicker now, though not quick enough to lose his balance, the young man hurried into the stables, opening the first stable he got to that wasn't already attended. It was one of his favorite horses, Aethon, who was a firebrand at the best of times. But Marcellus spoke to the nervous stallion, calming him before he could pull a kerchief over his eyes, shielding him from the dust and the sights of the stable which were sure to cause the horse to bolt. This was going to be a difficult night.
@Liv @Chevi @Sharpie @Jane @Beauty