They shook hands and he noticed how Appius did not pull away from the handshake right away, but of course, he did take his hand back eventually. Alexius naturally wondered why that was, but perhaps Appius here was still just in awe and Alexius got to be the hero of his past, despite that Appius now knew what happened to him later on. Appius then said he hoped they would meet again and wanted Alexius to remember what he said about employment. Of course, he'd not forget that, but right now he was still quite comfortable with Oriana. He didn't know what Appius preferred in his bed, but Alexius knew he was very content with protecting Oriana... and spending the nights in her bed.
"I will not forget, Dominus." Alexius replied and the younger Appius also smiled and waved at him, but then decided to shake Alexius' hand too. He shook the young man's hand and smiled.
"It was good meeting you too." Alexius said and then he gave them both a nod, before he climbed away from the steps overlooking the small training arena of the ludus to return to his mistress and the life he lived at the moment with her.
It was quite interesting for a man like Alexius to meet a man who appeared to be a Senator, and who was willing to sit down and simply talk to him. And he had been happy to listen to Alexius’ story, even if it was probably not quite what he had imagined. The Senator promised that Alexius had not ruined any future games for him and the said that he was welcome to come to the man’s place if he ever needed a place to stay or even work. Well that was kind!
Finally the Senator introduced himself as Appius Cornelius Scipio and he thought the name was familiar, but there were so many Senators and he wasn’t in that class and usually never met with them, so there was no way he could keep up with them all. but he could shake the hand of this one and he did, as a hand was offered.
“Thank you very much, Dominus Scipio. I will not forget your words or this meeting.” Even if it wasn’t planned, it had brightened his day a bit and he would not forget it. He then glanced up at the sky and the sun and thought it might be time for him to return to his mistress, “I think I must get going now. But perhaps we will meet again.”
It was a surprise to him, that Oriana had reacted the way she did, after he told her he was fond of her. Alexius didn’t know if it was love, but he was very attracted to her and it was turning into more than just sexual desire. Why else would he have felt so strange earlier, when he thought Oriana had slept with that whore at the Domus Venus? He had been a little bit jealous, hadn’t he, even if he knew he had no right to be. Or at least that’s what he thought back then… and now, everything was different, because he liked her and she liked him. What a mess!
She laughed at his words, when he commented on how this was already stupid, but he’d try his best anyway to not make her do more stupid things. And when she wanted to drink more, he would toast with her and drank to their strange affair, despite how foolish it seemed, that they would keep it on. Oriana drank her wine and agreed on the toast and hoped they’d not forget this tomorrow. Alexius knew he wouldn’t and hoped she wouldn’t either, even if that might be easier in the long run… for her at least.
“Celebrate even. If you think that’s what we should do, that’s what we will do.” Alexius said and drank more of his wine. He didn’t know what would happen once the wine was gone; if they’d pick up another one or if he would pick up her and carry her to bed. And it didn’t matter. As long as he could be near her, that was what he wanted and needed… right?
Alexius couldn’t help but worry more about her than his own place in society and what would happen to him. He was still just a freed slave, now living the life of a bodyguard to a wealthy and beautiful woman. Alexius was low in the society already and he’d lived his life and before he came to work here, he was honestly not too pleased with life. It almost bored him and he felt he didn’t belong anywhere. Alexius had even considered returning to the life of a gladiator until it killed him… but man did the tables turn tonight!
Oriana wasn’t too worried though, about her reputation, which surprised him. She didn’t seem like a woman who usually cared a great deal about others or their feelings, she cared about herself and her own position and reputation. But apparently not anymore. She joked about how she could let her secrets spread in the gossip, if she fell from grace, but Alexius didn’t want her to. It wasn’t that he’d lost all his good self-confidence, but Oriana did deserve more than a freed slave. That’s what she had been yearning towards all these last months when he knew her, after all.
He told her to not be too worried about him, because he’d stay alive. Oriana still wished for him to be careful though, or else she might do stupid things, “I can handle myself. But if you say it like that… then I better be careful, because I don’t want you to do stupid things. Not that you’re not there already.” He said with a grin, referring to their affair, which was certainly stupid in its own way, but they just couldn’t help it. She was so steadfast and such a strong young woman and he was more physical and spontaneous and they seemed to work well together like that.
Oriana then mused about finishing the wine and he nodded, “That sounds like a plan… it’s been one long evening.” He said and filled more wine into his own cup and held it up against hers then with a smile, as a toast, “To us then. Even if it seems we don’t know what in the names of the gods we’re doing.”
Alexius had no reason to lie and he was not the kind of man who did. He hadn’t even been lying to his previous wife, when he was being unfaithful to her… he had simply just not really considered that what he did would hurt her, until well… he did realize it and it was too late to save the marriage. Well that, and the fact that she’d been pregnant but lost the child, which also made them feel estranged to each other. Now that was far away in his past though and his present was Oriana, employer and mistress and lover all at the same time. A beautiful woman he couldn’t help but admire a little more than he should. And now he thought of it, he hadn’t slept with a great many others since they began their affair. He had plenty right here, now. But how that would turn out if she got a husband, only time would tell.
She said she would marry him, despite how he had nothing to offer him. That surprised him. She was really something else, as he’d told her so often before. And even now she said things he didn’t expect. But none of them knew what to do about the fact that they cared for each other… and they didn’t know how to move on, so Alexius decided to not worry about the future right now, but focus on the present. Oriana returned his fond kiss and agreed, but also state they had to be more careful. And then she was worried about what would happen to him.
“You are full of surprises tonight.” He said with a grin, “Because I would be more worried about your reputation. I know it’s important to you.” It had always seemed to be very important to her, after all, “You shouldn’t worry about me. I’ve tried a bit of this and that… I’ll stay alive.” After all this time, he still lived, after all. Alexius had for a while lost faith in life and when he came to Oriana, he really didn’t feel he could settle down anywhere. Now things had changed once more though. How strange it may seem, she had given him a little bit of hope tonight. Hope for what though, that was unclear. But it was there.
He was a fool for admiring her so much, wasn’t he? But he had done so from their first meeting – he’d thought her very stunning and attractive and then there was that first time where they shared a bath and ended up in the bed… and now months had gone by and although she back then had said it was just a one-time thing, it certainly developed into much more than that. He’d come to be a little more fond of her, than a bodyguard should be of his mistress and employer, but he could right now not imagine just quitting the job and leaving her behind. He would stay here, for as long as she wanted him to, even if he had no hopes of marrying her. Besides, who was he to think that he could marry and stay true to one woman? He tried and failed before, after all.
She let him pull her closer and she touched his hand, saying she didn’t want him to leave, even if she married and had children with someone else. That would feel a little bit… odd. To see her with a husband and deceive said husband because she was fond of her bodyguard. And he’d be in on the deception. Maybe the husband would discover and it would be a scandal. And Alexius would have to watch her be affectionate with another man… he didn’t know if he could, but right now, it wasn’t an issue he had to think about.
“As I said, I will stay for as long as you want me to.” Alexius replied to her, while she set down her cup and confessed she never felt like this with anyone. And then she apparently thought that if her father died before she married, they could… he gave her a little smile, “You would really want to marry me? When I have nothing to offer you?” He didn't even have a home of his own. He lived here. For some reason he just couldn’t see her live with less than what she had now. She liked the luxurious life and she had ambitions to rise in the hierarchy of Rome… marrying Alexius would send her the other way. Gods, he should never have mentioned it, things were way too complicated suddenly.
“I think… that for now, things are as they are. And we can’t change anything.” Alexius said, “I tried living in the past and hoping for better future, but now I think that living and breathing right now is what matters.” There was no point in worrying about the future, they could do that later, “For now…” He leaned down towards her, kissing her… an action that almost always made him want more, but he tried to ignore it, for her sake. When he pulled away, he met her eyes, “… let’s just enjoy each other, while we can.”
Things were not all that different in the plebian world, compared to this, and Alexius knew this. But he was no real plebian, he was a freed slave and he had no wife. He could do as he pleased and sleep with whomever he pleased – in fact that’s why he had no wife anymore, because he had felt he wasn’t fair to her back then. Apparently he had an unstoppable desire for pleasure and fun and being unfaithful to his wife hadn’t seemed right. Perhaps other men wouldn’t care, but Alexius cared enough to not want to hurt her further. Now he was free, although there had only been one woman he’d shared pleasure and spent the majority of his time with, the past few months. And she sat right here, looking as beautiful and inviting as ever.
She commented that she’d made the mistake of trusting her last husband and she knew better now… that most men were not very trustworthy. Alexius liked to think he wasn’t like most men though and he wanted her to know that she could trust him – which she did, but he didn’t want her to doubt him. And then he said the thing that had often crossed his mind lately and maybe especially tonight… that he was very fond of her.
She lowered her cup too then, looking at him and then she sighed and he thought she might tell him he had gone too far… but instead she admitted she too was fond of him, more than she should be. Well fuck.
“I… don’t know.” Alexius said, because he hadn’t dared to think this through, “I have no hopes of your father agreeing to marry you off to a freed slave. I know you deserve something more superior to that.” At least he was realistic, that had to count for something, right? But those same words would reveal to her that the thought had crossed his mind. Yet she would be marrying down in the hierarchy if that happened and there was no way she’d do that. She was too smart for that. He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her closer to him, “I guess I’ll just have to keep my word to you… keep you safe and close to me, for as long as you’ll want me to.”
It was just all the emotions they’d gone through tonight, talking, wasn’t it? He’d keep on telling himself that later, but right now he enjoyed just spending time with a beautiful woman who had the body of a goddess… and lips like one too. At least if you’d ever want Alexius’ opinion on her. He watched her take a drink and after he’d complimented her, she blushed and laughed, suggesting he was just trying to charm her into bed once more. He laughed back, “I’ll be happy to let you think that.” He said with another playful wink and then she thanked his compliments and said she appreciated him and mentioned again how he could have left at any time… but she trusted him a lot.
“As long as you’ll promise me not to trust any other man like that. Because most men are not that trustworthy. But you probably already knew this.” He said, taking another drink, but he could take a drink… it took more than one or two cups to get drunk with his size, “I’m honored that you trust me. And I want you to know I’ll keep my word to you. I…” He trailed off, he’d almost just said something you didn’t say to your employer. Although his employer was also his lover... Alexius lowered his cup, looking at the beautiful woman by his side, “I’d lie if I said I wasn’t fond of you.” Gods what was he getting into? He, a former gladiator, a freed slave, becoming a little bit too fond of his mistress. Maybe he should consult Gaia, maybe she’d know what he should do. Hopefully Oriana wouldn’t fire him tomorrow for being so frank with her.
It felt nice, walking with Oriana in his arms, while she rested against his chest with her arm around his neck. She was warm and lovely and not all that heavy to a man like Alexius. He thought it almost sweet that she seemed to almost fall asleep in his arms. They might just have had a fight, but she was also so comfortable with him and trusted him so much, that she’d let him have her in a dark alley and then she would relax in his arms. Had any woman ever put this much trust in him before? It was kind of a pity he couldn’t marry her, but he was a former slave and she a lovely and wealthy woman. He was her guard and her lover and that’s all he’d ever be to her. Such a pity, he thought to himself as he walked – they did make a fine couple.
Once they reached the house, he let her down from his arms and Oriana hurried to find the wine and two cups. They went to the triclinium after that and then Oriana even poured the wine for both of them. She didn’t wait for him to do it. He sat down next to her, while she toasted to him and he gave her a smile and tasted the wine too, “Then most bodyguards are fools.” Alexius replied to her with a grin, “You’re a lovely woman, Oriana. You’re beautiful and you’re not humble and inferior. I like that… in case you didn’t realize it yet.” He added with a wink. Alexius would of course enjoy almost any beautiful woman who’d also want to be with him, but he always had a thing for strong and independent women. Not that he didn’t like that he could also protect a woman, he enjoyed that part too, but she had to have some spirit in her. And Oriana had all of that.
Alexius chuckled when Aeneas commented on the tiny swords the Romans made. This was true! But at least as a gladiator, you had better and larger weapons at your disposal. And Alexius’ mistress would hand him any weapon he asked for, since she didn’t know much about fighting but wanted Alexius to look as impressive as he was.
He went quiet though, as Gaia told her story and Alexius listened with interest. He knew she’d been a slave but he didn’t know her entire story and it kind of made him admire her more. She was a freed slave too, after all, and she too had climbed society from being a lowly slave to now being a free woman with her own household and a good life. And she was still beautiful. Alexius smiled when she revealed how the betrothals never became more than that and he was honestly happy about that… since that meant she wasn’t bound to any man and could have whomever she wanted. Like Alexius, for example.
Aeneas commented on her story then and said that the ludus medicus was also from Greece. Next Gaia suddenly invited them out for a drink, since they were all foreigners to Rome and Aeneas would of course be happy to come.
“I’m sure Gaia can convince the doctore to allow you a break.” Alexius said with a grin, “I wouldn’t mind a drink. I never do and especially not in such good company.” They had lifted his spirits today and he was happy he met Gaia and perhaps made a friend among gladiators once more.