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  1. Early March, 77AD Alexius had long since caught his breath after the night they caught Marcus Barbatius. He’d learned that was the name and that they had been right about their assumptions. The man was a barber. And now, he was behind bars and that made Alexius feel a little bit better about many things. For example, he helped catch the guy! And he wanted to tell it to people, but wasn’t quite sure if he could or should. And after he’d had a good sleep, he knew whom he really wanted to tell it to. Calpurnia. Only problem was… how? It really was an issue. That they’d caught the killer had at least distracted his mind a little, but now that it was all over and to be dealt with by other people, his mind had wandered back to a beautiful blonde woman with legs for days and the most contagious laugh. He couldn’t help but smile when she laughed. And even when he thought about it. He’d tried telling himself to get over her, he’d even gone out to find himself another distraction, but even after that, she was still on his mind. He wanted her again, he needed to be with her again. Fuck! So he was off to find the only person he felt he could talk to about this, someone he could even trust. Someone he thought of as a friend by now, someone who also cared too much for someone he was not supposed to care for at all. Lucius loved Ovinia, Alexius was quite sure of that. Even more after he saw them together at the library, how they would act around one another, how Lucius would look at her and how she was all flushed after they had been alone. How did Lucius deal with it? What thoughts did he have? And how on Earth did you live with the fact that you cared for a woman you weren't supposed to have? Sure, Alexius had slept with Patrician women before, and it had never been an issue before, but he’d done more than just sleep around with Calpurnia. It felt like more. It was more. At first he went to the castra where the vigiles had their headquarters, but they told him Lucius wasn’t there. He’d gained some injury (Ovinia cut him, duh!) and was to be found in his family home, which was on the Esquiline. Great, Alexius walked back again. Eventually he managed to track down the household of one Gaius Manius Victorius, Pater Familias to the family Lucius had been adopted into, when he left his Patrician rank behind to become a vigile. Alexius was allowed inside after stating his purpose – here to see his friend Lucius – and a slave led him through the lovely looking house to wherever Lucius was residing at the moment. @Chevi
  2. February 77 AD, the Gardens of Maecenas It had been Lucius' idea to come to the Gardens of Maecenas, for some reason of his own, and Gaius had agreed, it was neutral enough territory after the various conversations and disagreements they'd had over the last few months, culminating in Lucius' finally leaving the household to pursue his crazy idea of joining the vigiles. Apart from that, Gaius wasn't entirely sure why he was walking in the Gardens of Maecenas in February; the last time he'd visited one of Rome's public gardens in the winter, the girl had finally decided to call it off. Not that it had ever really been 'on', so to speak, but he hadn't pursued the matter and her father had been willing to let it drop even if he had the right to carry on making arrangements for the marriage. Gaius was rather glad he hadn't; he would rather not marry Ovinia if marrying him would make her unhappy. And there was the complication of his brother - the two of them knew each other somehow, that had been glaringly clear from the way they'd interacted at that dinner, although he hadn't been able to get anything out of Lucius about how, and of course it wasn't something he could have asked Ovinia. "So, how are you finding life with the vigiles?" he finally asked, pulling his cloak a little tighter around his shoulders; he had elected not to wear his senatorial tunic and toga for this informal outing, but was comfortably clothed in a dark green woollen tunic with a warm cloak over his pallium. @Chevi @Atrice
  3. September 76 AD It was still pleasant out, though a little brisker than the height of summer, but warm enough that the gardens could still be enjoyed in the evening, the spaces set aside for the party warmed by strategically placed braziers and lit by taller torches. They gave a flickering light, sometimes gentle and sometimes casting odd shadows, but adding a playful and at the same time primal air to the event. Invitees had never-the-less been encouraged to bring a warm cloak, toga or palla, just in case. But it was meant to be a relaxed evening, not a stuffy, formal event. In his ponderings over the illnesses of Caesar's past, Tiberius had developed a hypothesis that one potential cause could be stress, and so this evening was meant to be something of a stress relief, a fun and fanciful time with friends, particularly for Titus. He'd invited their siblings and cousins, along with their peers. None of the older generation, whom he'd been accustomed to thinking of as the 'adults', because suddenly he and his were adults. There would be other, formal events for all generations in the near future, he was certain. Food had been organised, not a multi-course, reclined cena but rather platters of tasty, nibbly delicacies, carried by slaves or placed on strategic stone tables. Other slaves carried pitchers of wine, ranging from the vinyards along the Tiber through to Greek vintages, and elegant glass cups were available to drink from. Tiberius had asked Marcus Junius Silanus to organise entertainment, and already a flautist was playing a merry tune by one brazier, whilst nearby a juggler tossed coloured leather balls in increasingly complex patterns whilst balancing another on their nose. The layout of the gardens meant that there were several spaces, corners for conversation or the central area for lively conviviality. Here and there Praetorian Guards were unobtrusive in the shadows, keeping an eye on their Imperial charges, whilst more screened entrants at the gates. Once inside, the gardens seemed almost magical. (OOC: Open to: Characters under 30, of Imperial or Patrician class, as guests Slaves of guests Hired entertainers.)
  4. November, 76AD Vibia yawned and then stretched - elongating every muscle of her body with a satisfied 'mhmm' sound before collapsing back into the den of silks and sheets that made up her bed. Or...it used to make up her bed, in neat and orderly fashion but she and Lucius had left it in a heap that strew not only the surface but the floor...along with the chiton she'd been wearing, and his own clothes. Now safely ensconced within the sheets, fire in the corner of the room burning and incense sticks fragrancing the space, she felt utterly content. Well...content besides one particular bone she had to pick with the young man next to her. Propping her jaw in her palm she shifted onto her side and peered down at him. "You're telling me that this is not worth staying a patrician for?" The smile tugged on her lips and she arched a brow, amused. "I have equite friends," A polite euphemism for clients, "Too you know. Just not bankrupt ones. You stay rich and this doesn't have to be goodbye." He hadn't told her his plans, they hadn't exactly had time before they got...down to things, but the news had reached her fairly quickly after it became public. He was one of her favourites; young, attractive, good in bed and fun which was a bonus very few in her profession got to enjoy. It was a loss to her - and not just financial, although she wasn't foolish as to get sentimental or anything about it. "I trust you've paid for a full afternoon though, if you're set on this path. Make it a proper farewell." TAG: @Chevi
  5. June 76 The gardens of private houses being relatively common areas for householders' friends to wander around in, somehow Attis was not surprised when his master's friend's brother came out into the sunshine after his conversation with Attis' master. He had enough warning to be able to take a firm grip on Rugam's collar and plant his feet; the dog was friendly and enthusiastic, and probably going to be the size of a horse when it stopped growing, juding by the size of its paws. He wondered if it would fill its skin out as it grew, or if the skin grew with it so it would end up just as wrinkly as ever. Like someone wearing a badly-arranged toga. "I hope you don't mind dogs, sir," he called, trying to give fair warning (as if Rugam's barking hadn't been enough warning). "He's friendly." He'd shut him away if he needed to, he didn't really know the man to know whether he ought to allow the dog to say hello, or not. (He tended to reserve the dog's most enthusiastic greetings for people he wasn't overly fond of, if he had some warning - the other day with Tranquillus had been more or less a fluke.) @Chevi
  6. June, 76AD Longinus hurried back - ducking and weaving through the crowds as he made his way back to the domus. The afternoon was hot - too hot - and he couldn't wait to decant the toga that he had haphazardly thrown over his shoulder. He hated senate meetings, for the most part, and today's had only intensified that. Why his colleagues needed to drone on for literally hours about grain allotments was absolutely beyond him, but he made a mental note to develop a fever before the next one, if the same Senators intended to orate. He'd been surprised that Gaius had sent word that he wanted him to talk some sense into his brother. He was quite sure that if you asked any of his closest friends, they absolutely would not use the word 'sensible' to describe peace-time Longinus. Military Longinus - who had his men's lives in his hands - maybe, but not Longinus in Rome. Still - at the very least, after this afternoon Gaius owed him, and favours from friends was always a benefit. Besides, maybe this fellow Lucius was good company? He liked the man's brother, and had his own wayward streak after all, so maybe they'd get on? Then again, maybe that was a naive hope. What was also probably not going to help matters was that he was late. Never one to keep to time, he'd dawdled after the meeting, catching up with friends and such before he'd made his way into the sunshine of the bright June day to to find his secretary, Vitus, glowering. Even now as they hurried home, Vitus bore a look of thunder; "I'm not that late, stop it." Vitus merely shrugged and muttered; "It's still impolite." loud enough for Longinus to hear. As they drew to his domus, finally, he hurried through into the atrium and didn't even pause to think about it - unwilling the folds of his striped toga with a haste as he queried; "Is he here yet? Or late too?" TAG: @Chevi
  7. August, 76AD Mercifully - and Marcianus thanked all of the Gods - the insula looked like it would hold. The fire was confined to the upper stories which meant the foundations - decrepit and decaying though they were - should hold. That fact, however, did not help those people - his sort of people - trapped on the upper floor, just above the fire line. As always in these situations a crowd had gathered outside the building, the richer (although this was the subura, so how rich could they be?) dwellers in the building had evacuating and barked orders at the freedmen Vigiles that were trying to salvage the building, whilst on-lookers from the nearby poppina's and taverna's came out, drinks in their hands and grins on their faces as if they were viewing some twisted form of entertainment as the poorer citizens of the block lost everything in a cloud of ash and smoke. The muscles in his jaw worked as he watched them, tensing and flexing with hard eyes and a grim look on his ash smeared face. His hair - usually an unusual blonde - was almost black with smoke and dust and rivulets of sweat streaked down his face and neck. He'd been forced outside by his centurion, a humourless, useless man in his fifties who took as much pleasure in helping people as he did in socialising, which was to say, none at all. He'd had to have been yanked out by the back of his tunic and forcibly moved down the stairs, even as residents streamed past them. He'd been in the building too long - apparently - and the cough that rattled his lungs was testament to that, but as he eyed the building - the smoke billowing upwards into the night sky, he knew he couldn't sit idly by. The old and frail, the young and poor were still up there on the floors immediately above and below the fire, trying to find their way down in the smoke. He swallowed and felt as if his teeth might splinter from the set of his jaw. Pushing himself up nimbly, he ducked down behind the crowd to avoid the glances of his superiors. His eyes caught Gaius' - a friend and a follower to the hilt - who judging by his grim expression and itching fingers, wanted back in as much as Marcianus himself. He jerked his head towards the south stairs and then the fire hooks which had been deposited there by the last of their century to leave the building for rest. He knew his friends, colleagues were in there still and surely the Centurion wouldn't notice his absence? He moved to reach Gaius and slip unseen back into the building but before he did, his shoulder collided with anothers and he glanced up - his face painting a picture of displeasure. "Go and gawk somewhere else, it isn't safe here." The building might not come down onto the crowd, but the people jumping from it might. TAG: @Chevi
  8. July, 76 AD Marcus rolled his eyes at yet another posh son of a Senator, with his nose up in the sky, talking about that and hither as if he had any say in anything, with his old man still alive. Marcus was free as a bird, at least. His brother, his Pater Familias, was nowhere near Rome. He wasn't even sure where he was. His mother’s husband of course, he did what he could to keep Marcus afloat and out of trouble, but honestly… the man was not here and Marcus could do as he pleased. Which was not listen to nonsense about future escapades in faraway countries. The guy didn’t even know if he’d get there yet! He slipped away from the group of young men chatting and found his own bodyslave lingering near one of the entrances to the peristyle. This was a party or ‘social gathering’ for young men of high quality, to meet and interact and maybe form friendships and alliances to last until they one day would become important men. So boring! Marcus didn't need parties like these. He didn't know why the old man at home thought he did. There weren't even any girls present! “Silvanus… I’m bored. Why don’t you fetch me a jar of wine?” He told his slave and Silvanus arched a brow, “It is not our home, Domine. I can’t just…” He tried to argue, but Marcus rolled his eyes for who-knows-which-time this evening, “You can, because I told you so. And if they say you can’t, tell them that I sent you and if they don’t do as I tell them, I’ll tell our host what awful slaves he has. And what they did to me through you.” Marcus said and Silvanus could not see how he could argue himself out of that. So off he went towards the kitchens to find the wine. Meanwhile Marcus slipped over to a slave standing around with a plate of finger foods. The sticky, but delicious honeyed dates! Marcus picked a few off the tray and ate them, they were the ones with black pepper inside, his favorites! Expensive too! When he was done, he licked his fingers, one by one, until Silvanus showed up with the desired jar of wine, “Great, you got it! Thanks!” Marcus carried it off towards a corner of the atrium, where he could sit down and drink it on his own. Or so he thought. @Chevi
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