Alexius wasn't trying to speak ill of gladiatrices, when he mentioned they didn't risk death as often. They were lucky, he thought. They only had to fight and entertain. They didn't walk into the arena and risked not walking out again, not every time anyway. Thessala however mentioned how accidents happened, as if she did kill someone and he wondered if she enjoyed that part. It hadn't been something he loved - killing other slaves - but it was a necessery evil, if he wanted to live, sometimes someone had to die. Those were the terms. Alexius had had to fight hard and well to live, so that he could see his freedom... and he did.
She'd asked where he was from and he easily explained it, how he ended up here, since he was from Germania. And then they were at the tavern and his next thoughts went to wine and some seats. Thessala commented on them being barbarians both of them and he chuckled and reached for the two simple cups that had been set on the table too and poured wine for them both. He didn't need a woman pouring for him.
"Rome is... Rome." He just said then, "I don't know if I'd call it amazing... but it definitely could be worse too." Alexius said and picked up his cup, watching her, "Do you hope for freedom someday? What would you do with it, if you were free?" He then wondered. He couldn't see Thessala open a tavern like Bellona, but she might find work as a bodyguard like he'd done it. His former lover Achillia, whom he was with at the ludus, also came to work for one of the imperials as bodyguard. So maybe that was for Thessala too?
He chuckled at her words concerning being addicted to winning, "Oh yes... much worse things, when the opposite of winning is injury or death." Alexius said, "Although as far as I know, gladiatrices don't risk the latter as often as the men." He added. Back when he was a gladiator, the women were mostly there to entertain and put on a show, before the male gladiators came into the arena. And as far as he knew today, it was the same. But boy did some of them know to put on a show! Thessala was definitely one of the best. He smiled, thinking about how lucky it was that she liked him; he could call her his friend!
After she had shared a bit of her story, Alexius chose to tell her a bit about how his life had been like and why he ended up as a gladiator. And she thought it made sense to live in the present, rather than the past... and even the future. For a gladiator, the present would always matter most. If you died tomorrow, there would be no future anyway. Thessala said she once had siblings too, but she was sold by her own parents. Alexius knew it happened, but thought about how awful that must be.
"Drinks before heavy talks are always good." He agreed, "I was born in Germania... a roaming tribe attacked our village and those who didn't die were taken and sold as slaves to the Romans. So that's how I ended up here." Alexius looked up as they were coming to the tavern, "But drinks... let's get some." It would seem that this meeting was more than just a sparring session and drinks for fun. But that was alright too. Talking and sharing experiences was what you had friends for. He led the way into the tavern and found a place for them to sit. He didn't see the barkeep, Bellona, anywhere, not yet. But he waved at one of the girls, who went to fetch a jar of wine without even asking. They knew him here.
Alexius had been looking forwards to the games. He knew he shouldn't, because he used to be down there. They were slaves, they had no choice in the fighting and if they lived or died... that was up to the crowd and the Emperor, if he was present of course. Alexius wasn't sure of that. Luckily, he had survived in the past - he had made it his goal to always survive so he could gain his freedom. He had considered fighting too, but his devotion made him turn the idea down. So here he sat, on the stands, among so many others, hoping that someone would come to join him. He had told Oriana he was going and that he hoped she would come and join him - he would like to share this part of himself with her, his gladiator past and the history he had with this place. But he didn't know if she would come. He doubted Charis would! She had not seemed to think the games would be much fun at all and she was still against many Roman things. Still he knew plenty of people in Rome, so it would be odd if he didn't meet at least someone he knew.
And there would be someone down there on the sands... and he smiled when the names of the first contestants were called out. Thessala! Yes! He looked forwards to seeing her fight, she was one of his favorites before, but now that he had met her and made her his friend... it would be even more enjoyable to see her. And she did not disappoint. Alexius whistled and called out her name when she walked in, she was so gorgeous. He doubted she would see him though; there were so many people here!
Suddenly there were people walking among the seats with food and drinks and Alexius raised a hand at the man, "I'd like something to drink, what do you offer?"
Maybe he did have a thing for gladiatrices - or maybe he just had a thing for women who were strong, both inside and when it came to physical strength too. How could he not admire them, trying to make their way and a name for themselves in a man's world? Many women in Rome were so inferior, and it wasn't that he disliked those either, but he liked them for other reasons. Women that were strong... they were his equals. And he did like that.
Thessala smirked when he explained about Bacchus' Cup and then he made sure Thessala knew she could act freely around him. And wondered of course how she became so good at fighting. She said she wasn't sure, she just liked it and had a talent. And then she explained about how she'd killed a thief as a house slave... and now she liked fighting. Alexius nodded at her words.
"There is something about the audience... and their cheer. When you're a slave, that's important... to know you're actually interesting and being noticed. And then when you fight... it becomes kind of addictive, doesn't it?" Alexius said, "Before I was sold to the ludus, I worked with horses in the stables. Apparently being able to control horses made me strong enough, so when my old master died, I was sold to the ludus. I had a sister, but she was sold to someone else." His sister went elsewhere and he didn't know where. After all these years, he still had not forgotten her, although the hope of seeing her again had more or less vanished... "Anyway... that is all such a long time ago now. I try to live in the present, the best I can. If that makes sense."
Charis' words made him feel a little better, when she smiled and said it was not important to her whether he could read and write. Alexius knew now that they did have their own letters and writing in Germania, but it was different from what the Romans had. And he had never been very good at any of it. He suggested though that she could read for him and she laughed and suggested it should be something chaste and something her owner would approve of. Alexius arched a brow, feeling bad that she was so afraid of her master that she would have to read something he would approve of. And something dry and dull... sounded well... dull?
"Careful I don't rest my head in your lap while you read then, or I might fall asleep there." Alexius said with a small smile, that was the best he could come up with. He watched her then as she set down the cup and winced... maybe she had enough wine now? Charis suggested she should get going and stood. Alexius hurried to his feet too, to lend an arm to her. He could feel the wine too, but it wasn't that bad - even if he did lose count of the amount of cups he drank.
"Are you sure it's wise that you leave on your own?" He said. Maybe he forgot to consider she could not take as much wine as he could, because of her size and she probably rarely got drunk in the first place, "Should I follow you home?" Honestly it did not sit well with him that she wandered off on her own into Rome in a drunken state. Something or someone could happen to her. Maybe he would keep an eye on her, just in case, because he had a feeling she'd deny the idea of him taking her home.
Women were indeed mysterious creatures to Alexius - at least some of them were and a lot of what they did on their own, that was definitely mysterious. If he knew what women talked about when they were on their own... but he didn't. And Charis had asked him what to do in her free time and he honestly didn't know besides the ideas he had... which she didn't want to do. Although honestly, fighting or watching others fight and having sex were some of the best things you could do. That, and have a drink with a friend, which they did now.
Charis didn't seem to think he should ask his mistress what women did, because it would be too fancy for a slave. He arched a brow with a small smile, "I wouldn't be too sure of that. She enjoys me, after all." He added with a wink, desire and pleasure should know no limits, at least not if you asked him. Sadly, too many people would disagree with that.
Alexius had however also mentioned a next time, and just had to ask, just to be sure... if he would really see her again. Charis blushed ever so sweetly before she grinned and said that of course there would be a next time. Then she suddenly also had an idea of her own and spoke of reading and going to a library or the market and find something she could read. Well that... was different! Not that Alexius had anything against her learning to read or write, it just wasn't the first thing he would consider... plus, it had never been one of his best skills. But Charis seemed so hopeful and raised her cup and he would like to see her again, so he raised his cup too.
"It's a deal then." He promised with a smile, which however faded a little bit when he lowered his cup after drinking. It was a little bit embarrassing, he felt, that he didn't know how to read or write very well. Even Charis could learn, but it just never interested him much, "Not that I am very good at reading... I only learned it a bit when I was freed, because I was promoted to lanista for my ludus... a lanista is the man who runs the ludus with the gladiators, does the purchasing and look after them." Alexius added, in case she didn't know the word, "But I never learned reading and writing well. Just enough. Maybe if we find something... you'll read for me?"
Even though he explained why he liked seeing gladiator games, Charis still did not seem to really understand. It just held a lot of memories for him, memories of a time where he seemed to matter to someone. Now he did again, but for how long? Oriana had promised him that even if she married, she would not stop caring for him and she would not want to let him go, but was that really up to her to decide? What if she married a man who was good at spying secrets and would see right through her... and Alexius? What would he be then?
Charis said she understood, but he doubted she meant it. Then she went on to say her brother was in a ludus and spoke of how he was like and what she thought he'd end up at here in Rome. Alexius nodded, "I go to the ludii sometimes, to watch them train... and I know a few people there. I could ask around? What was his name again?" Alexius wondered, it would not surprise him if he found out he'd already seen the man train, but just didn't know who it was. There were many gladiators in Rome, after all. And he didn't know half of them by name anymore. Alexius watched Charis when she took a deep sip of wine and he suggested they'd go and see Thessala fight, together. Alexius thought it was an amazing idea!
But she didn't want to do that. She winced and wondered if there was anything fun in Rome besides having sex and fighting. Alexius let out a laugh, "I bet there is, but those are just my favorite activities." He said, "For women... I don't know so much about that. I don't really know what women do, when they're not with their men." As much as he loved women, there was still a bit of mystery around them even now, "If you want, I can try and ask my mistress and tell you next time..." He trailed off, looking at her over the edge of his cup, "... if there's going to be a next time? If we're going to be friends..."
He saw how she wrinkled her nose when he mentioned that he watched gladiator fights and of course she wondered why, "Yes... I do. Before I got my current job, I even considered returning there myself. I was famous, when I was a gladiator. I both hated and loved it back then, but it made me who I am." Alexius explained, "Plus... I don't think most people appreciate the amount of training and hard work that lies behind the fights. I don't admire the Romans for making slaves fight slaves, but I admire the gladiators for their skills and abilities." And their looks, of course, but that was another story entirely and that would not help her in understanding. He hoped she would, though.
Alexius had then asked what she would do, besides seeing him of course, and she slapped his shoulder playfully and laughed. She had the sweetest laugh. He bet her owner did not appreciate that enough. Charis then said she had no idea of what to do and only knew a few places.
"The temples are fine, but yes... kind of boring. Nothing exiting happens there. Really it is on the streets and in the taverns and the arena where things happen. Maybe I should take you to see a gladiator fight someday. Oh!" He smiled broadly, having an idea, "We should go and see Thessala fight, together! She is a real sorcerer in the arena. And the female gladiators usually do not kill each other." Alexius was still smiling, that was the best idea he had and he would be curious to see Thessala and Charis together. Of course they would go and see Thessala alone afterwards.
Lexus certainly did not hate his father for not being there, he just... hoped he would meet him one day and he was curious to see, if his father was like his mother described him. It had been 14 years since she last saw him though, so much could change. He had not expected to meet his father for the first time here at Oriana's house, that was not at all what he had imagined. And he had not imagined this tall, broad-shouldered guy who would comment on his youth for working here. He didn't know what to say, feeling a bit uncertain, so he had looked at Oriana. He didn't know her well either, but he felt he knew her better. Maybe he even trusted her. Oriana apologized for not telling him before and then spoke of wine and olives and cheese.
"Alright." Lexus said, still a bit speechless over the news. Alexius was nothing but a cheerful smile.
"I never imagined it would be you who would introduce us. But why not?" He said happily to her, he could just kiss her! But that would not be right here and probably not in front of the boy either. The boy, his son! Gods! He wanted to embrace him, but young Lexus seemed a bit startled to be honest, so he would just have to try and behave so far, "A talk sounds good." Alexius said and looked at the young man again. "I never knew I would meet you. I knew about you, of course, but... when I was freed, there was no trace of where your mother had gone to. At least now we're together, right?" He said with a smile to Lexus.
"We are." Lexus replied, he was usually all words, but now he didn't know what to say, "Sorry, I'm just a bit... surprised. I hoped to find you here in Rome. I guess I didn't really know who to look for though. You work here... live here?" Lexus wondered and Alexius nodded, looking at Oriana.
"Yes, I work and live here. I'm her bodyguard and I really enjoy it here. But I think she knows." Alexius said and gave Oriana a wink with his eye. How could he not be happy? Gods he'd make sure Oriana knew just how happy he was, later tonight. He would show her just how much he appreciated this. How could he not adore a woman like her?
He chuckled when she said she would protect him, "I'm sure you will. If anyone should threaten me, it is good to have you by my side. I do not doubt that." He said and honestly, it was probably true. What a team they would make, should they come across some brawl tonight... he smiled by the thought, it had been a while since he'd been in a proper fight. Not since that night Oriana had planned that fake attack on them, and he killed those two thugs. He was certain it would be no less than awesome if he fought with Thessala by his side.
So far, she was definitely by his side and they walked together through the streets of Rome, while discussing where to go.
"Bacchus' Cup is great. I've been coming there for years, do you know it is run by a former gladiatrix? Bellona... quite a woman. And she knows how to run a bar too." He said with a fond smile. Well women who dared to make a name for themselves, just fascinated him, what could he say? The list grew longer by the day!
"But we can go anywhere you'd like. I may have paid for this, but as far as I know, you're free with me as long as you return to the ludus in one piece." Alexius added with a smile to the stunning and interesting woman by his side, "How did you become so good at fighting anyway?" He could not remember if he asked before and then it never hurt to ask again. A good story was always worth something.