Why on Earth Alexius should have better places for his attention than with someone like Felix, was beyond him. After all, Felix was quite good looking and so far very easy to get along with and spend time with. So what’s not to like? Plus, of course, Alexius wasn’t exactly picky and he did not care much if his companion and the target for his attention was slave or free. All he cared about was whether they showed the same interest in him, as he did in them.
He didn’t know though, if Felix just didn’t get it or was toying with him, when he didn’t really respond to Alexius’ quite obvious suggestions. So he wondered if Felix, being a body slave to his master and all, never pleased him. Meaning using his hands for that, of course, since they were talking about hands.
But Felix didn’t answer that. Instead he firmly told Alexius to not ask such a question. Alexius arched a brow, a little surprised at the sudden change in Felix. Of course, a man born and raised and still living as a slave, in the same house, would be terribly loyal to his master. Too loyal, if you asked Alexius. The gods knew he'd never been that loyal, but he was also born free and lived spent all his slave-years yearning for freedom again. But he didn’t mean anything bad with the question. He thought they were having a good talk that could lead to more. Or he hoped.
“I didn’t mean to offend you.” Alexius then said, “Apologies if I did.” He added, watching Felix carefully, hoping he had not turned the handsome man away from him now.
Think that Felix didn’t really consider or know what he could do besides being a house and body slave in the domus where he grew up. Maybe it was normal that people born as slaves didn’t think about such things. Felix had never known another life – he didn’t know what freedom was and he didn’t know that you could make your own decisions, instead of always following orders. Alexius kind of wanted to show him that life… give him a taste of it, somehow. And now that they were discussing what Felix could do and Alexius then mentioned how he bet Felix could do amazing things with his hands, his own mind definitely went south. It had been on the way there for a while, but now… it was something else.
Felix however, he just looked at his hands and then back at Alexius with a tilted head, wondering what it was Alexius thought he could do. Alexius let out another amused laugh at the man, Felix was so serious. He really needed to learn how to let it all go, at least for a little while.
“I bet you know, if you think about it.” He then said, the smile still present on his face. They had been discussing which trade Felix could be good at and what Alexius had in mind was certainly not a trade he thought Felix should have, if he was freed, but… oh it was impossible to stop this line of thought now… “Your master… never asked you to massage him? Or to please him… in bed?” After all, it was commonly known that it happened, although it wasn’t something you talked about. According to the Romans, a man should not yearn to be taken by another, but rather take another man. That’s why slaves were so convenient. But Felix didn’t seem to hate his master, so maybe, if what Alexius suggested had happened, it wasn’t so bad and then Felix wouldn’t be offended.
Alexius enjoyed her newfound attention and interest in him. At first she had seemed a little bit cautious and all that, but when he told her he’d been a gladiator, it seemed all that changed! How could he not enjoy spending time with her now – now that she seemed more keen on spending her time with him? Alexius liked women (and men) a lot and he like pleasure a lot too, but he wasn’t and had never been the type who’d force himself on them. Equal attention was the best. He continued sipping his drink while she tasted his name on her tongue, then agreeing how time went fast and adding a little bit of her own story there. Fourteen years ago she was a little girl? Was she that young? Not that she appeared old at all, but she didn’t appear as if she was 20 years old either.
“You may yet catch me fighting.” Alexius said with a grin then, “I’m not known to turn the other way if I get the chance to do the opposite.” He added, he enjoyed fights a lot and if there was a brawl and he was present, well he might as well participate. And single-handedly he’d help out those in need if there was a fight or some other injustice in the streets at night and there was no time to wait for the urban cohorts.
The lovely young lady wanted to know more now and she had questions… several of them. Alexius was luckily more than happy to answer her.
“My ludus was here in Rome, yes. I spent many years here… but no, I’m no longer a lanista. It only lasted a few years. Imagine being a slave and gladiator and among friends and companions one day… and the next you’re their overseer, deciding who goes into the arena tomorrow to live or die. It didn’t work very well for me.” Alexius explained, “It would seem Fortuna did not mean for me to sit behind a desk. I was meant to fight...” He said, “… fight and have fun and drink with good people. Like you.” Alexius smiled at her, “What is your name, by the way?”
Felix really did not talk much, did he? But on the other hand, he seemed perfectly happy with just listening to Alexius talk - he did not interrupt and he did not try to argue about anything or discuss anything. Alexius wondered if that was just Felix' nature, or if it was something that had been knocked into him over many years, because he was a slave and had to act that way. It was impossible to tell and not something he would ask about. Instead he had just explained how he came to do what he did and why he was good at it. Then he wondered what Felix would be good at and suggested he could work with his hands.
"Yes, like a craftsman, perhaps. There are smiths, weavers, wood-workers, barbers and so on." Alexius said and then he could not help himself, he looked towards Felix' hands and then gave the fine looking man a slightly playful smile, "You do seem to have good and strong hands, Felix. I bet you can do amazing things with those." Maybe it was too much, but why not?
Alexius had almost told Felix all about how he could not really settle down, not for one lover and not for a wife and not for a job... he seemed destined to look for his place in the world, maybe until he died. But that would be stupid to tell such a good looking man the first time he met him. Alexius certainly would not mind if Felix would show any interest beyond companionship tonight. But the conversation moved on and Alexius continued to wonder what Felix could do, if he did not consider himself a fighter or a scholar. Maybe he was good at working with his hands? They looked like good, strong hands...
But Felix said he wasn't sure and didn't know how to find out what he was good at.
"Sometimes it's just the thing you feel most satisfied doing... I worked with horses before I became a gladiator. I guess that's why they picked me, because I was good with beasts?" He let out a little laugh, "And I did always want to fight, since I was a kid. I just never imagined I'd fight for other people's pleasure, but that's how it went..." He trailed off, trying to remind himself that he should also include Felix more here, so... "Maybe you're good at working with your hands?"
Alexius really would be a fool to leave a good service as the one he had right now - but what choice did he have, if Oriana married some wealthy bastard who'd take her nights away from Alexius? Was he just to stay in celibacy and away from pleasure, because she too would be jealous if he slept around. Yet if she married, she would be doing the same with her husband and it wouldn't be fair to Alexius. He could not stay with her, once she married, even if she didn't want him to leave. And what if her husband found out about their affair? It would end badly, somehow, he just knew it. No matter what they did, someone would end up with hurt emotions. He tried to explain how he could not stay with Oriana forever, but he didn't know what else to do - because fighting was all he knew, by now. At least he had come to terms with that.
Felix said he had not considered what to do, should he be freed. He would stay with his dominus and spoke of how he was no fighter and also no scholar. He then mentioned getting married and how he didn't think it seemed as if married people settled down. Alexius laughed.
"I certainly didn't! But I may be a bad example, it seems I'm unable to settle down at all." He said and looked at Felix, "If you're no fighter and also no scholar... what would you say you are, then?" Felix had said he was a body slave to his master, so maybe that's all he knew. He was a pleaser, maybe... someone good at helping others. He had certainly also helped out when Alexius was hurt. That wasn't the worst trait for a handsome man as Felix, he thought to himself with a little smile.
Felix didn’t seem to be the type who was nosy at all. Either his dominus had trained this house-born slave a little too well, or it was simply not in his nature. Alexius could appreciate it, although honestly he did not really mind telling stories. More and more, it seemed to be something he actually enjoyed doing. Felix mentioned how anyone better pay good money for Alexius being their bodyguard and he let out a little laugh.
“Oh she’s paying very well, my current employer.” Both coin and a room and a bed… and her bed, of course. Yes, she paid him very well, but he still knew it wasn’t going to last. One of them would hurt the other at some point. Either she would marry and he’d be jealous at someone else sharing her bed or he would fall from grace and be too tempted by someone. He thought he could easily be tempted by Felix, he was a very nice companion to have and handsome too. And nice to talk to, even! Now he wondered if Alexius had considered a different occupation.
“Not really different…” He began, because he would definitely still be in the same business of being someone who fought or protected people, “… but I will have to find something else at some point. I can’t stay where I am now, forever. All I really know is how to fight though… so I guess that’s what I’ll be doing, no matter what I do.” Alexius said and looked at Felix, “Have you ever considered what you’ll do, if you’re freed?”
If Felix would ask Alexius, he'd tell Felix he was a Roman. To him, it mattered where you were born and he was born in Germania and for some reason couldn't shake it off. Maybe it was his height or the color of his eyes, but there was no mistake, people just knew. Felix however, if he was born and raised in Rome, then this was where he was from. But Felix didn't ask and Alexius commented on how he thought the other would do well in the arena - even if it wasn't a life you should wish for, if you'd been so lucky to avoid it. Alexius had not and now those were his days of glory, but for everyone else, he wouldn't wish it upon them.
He also asked about Felix' situation then, since he seemed to have it pretty good and he had indeed been born and raised in the same household he still lived in. Now he was body slave to his owner and had travelled a lot, but recently came back to Rome.
"It changes and yet remains the same, that's how I see it. You've done your bit of travelling too though. I did it too, after we came back to Rome and my wife and I parted ways. I've been working as a bodyguard and the like for different people. Now I'm here, but there's no knowing how long it will last this time." Not with Oriana being who she were, a beautiful young woman looking for a husband to rise to higher ranks in society. And she should have that. A freedman was not enough for her, he knew that. She wouldn't be able to continue her luxurious life. It was only a matter of time before he would need to move on again.
He noted how Felix listened silently to Alexius telling his story and he only seemed thoughtful afterwards. Alexius added that he’d gone to Germania but came back again, and Felix seemed surprised that he did. Well he supposed he could have started his own life in Germania, but his wife was a true Roman lady and would never have settled down well up there. Besides, he was considered Roman too, by those who lived there. It wasn’t for him anymore, apparently.
“I did. I had a Roman name and a Roman wife and the village I was born in was long gone. It’s odd, isn’t it? Here in Rome, many still consider me a former Germanian slave … but in Germania, I was too Roman. It’s not easy.” He added with a little sigh. The wine seemed to be working strangely tonight, with a companion simply willing to listen to Alexius’ sob-story.
He asked in return if Felix had always been slave, and it would seem so. He was a verna. Alexius nodded and Felix continued talking about it being a good household and he would not have been a good gladiator.
“You don’t think so? With the proper training, I think you could.” Alexius said cheerfully, he definitely had the physique for it, he thought, “Not that it is a life you should wish for, when you have a good household and a good dominus. That’s way better. Have you always been with your current dominus then?” He wondered curiously. Felix really did seem to be one of the luckier slaves. And why shouldn’t he be, with that name?
Felix seemed to like his dominus, speaking of him in very nice terms and he seemed genuine. Calling his owner a good, noble and fair man. Alexius simply nodded, although a bit surprised. Felix got lucky then, Alexius thought to himself. Not all owners would be described by their slaves in such warm terms! His first owner had been sort of in between, but then he died and Alexius was separated from his sister and ended up another place. And then he became a gladiator. But although he lived among Romans now and considered this city his home and had a Roman name, he would never be like them. He had never owned a slave and didn't want to.
Felix interrupted his thoughts, wondering how he left the ludus back in the day, "Well I was freed, as I told you... and they made me lanista of the same ludus afterwards. But it wasn't right for me. I didn't like the paperwork or suddenly having to order my former friends around and decide who should fight for their lives and all that. It wasn't for me. So I was allowed to leave, by my former dominus. I had a wife, then. Together we went to Germania, where I was born, but... it wasn't home anymore. So I came back." It wasn't the most amusing story ever, but it was true. He still recalled the travel to Germania, long and hard, and then getting around on the other side of the border, without the luxury of Roman roads and having a Roman name there. And the village that was gone. The landscape was beautiful though, familiar and lovely, but the place and the people... it hadn't been the same. It had not been what he had hoped for.
"Have you always been a slave?" Alexius then wondered about Felix.