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Fate brings people together


Atrice
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It was fine, that the political climate in Rome was peaceful at the moment. There had been no assassination of the Caesar yet, there was not a lot of trouble on the surface. Tertius had an idea that some might be brewing underneath the surface, but it was always like that, right? Yet he had not been approached to take a side – unless of course you considered Octavius Flavius Alexander to be trying to win Tertius over to his side of things, when he had desired a meeting with Tertius. And that might very well be the reason, but Tertius didn’t feel he’d taken a side… if there even was a side to take. He simply didn’t know.

 So there were other things to do and while his favorite slave Hector was the perfect slave and at the moment, his only lover in bed, he quite felt like needed more than that. Hector gave him all the affection he could want, but he was still aware that Hector was a slave and he gave it because he was meant to do that. It wasn’t genuine, was it? Perhaps it would be nice to remarry, after all, just to have someone to talk to that wasn’t a slave or his daughter. Tertius might have stayed too neutral, he thought, because he did not really have any close friends.

 Maybe it was about time to change that. One good place to meet other people was at one of the public baths – after all, public baths were more than just baths. There were gardens to walk in, rooms to sit and talk in and of course both warm and cold baths and everything else you’d ever need when you wanted to relax and treat yourself.  

Tertius had taken his time in the actual bath, and now he had gotten dressed again and was taking a walk in the garden belonging to the bathhouse he was visiting. There were plenty of people around, as always. Even some exercising, running and all that, you’d think they were in Greece! Tertius found a marble bench to sit down upon to admire the exercising young men. Fine specimens, he thought to himself. But he would have to pull himself together to approach someone – you didn’t make friends with anyone just by sitting around, did you?

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Gaius often came to these baths, enjoying the dichotomy between the baths and the garden and exercise area. It felt good to stretch his body, perhaps spar with other young men around there, and clean himself off afterward. It was a welcome respite from his long, arduous hours at the palace, and he especially enjoyed the chance to spar, reminding him of his many days on the Britannia front. He was sparring now, with some other young man whose name he didn't know with wooden practice swords. He was a decent enough fighter but he wasn't able to match up with the experienced legionnaire. Gaius quickly ended the bout and wiped his forehead of sweat, noticing an older man whose gaze was trained on some of the exercising men. 

@Atrice

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It was nice that you could just come here, enjoy the baths and walking in the garden. It was also nice that you could exercise, run and do it by yourself or find someone else willing to exercise with you. Just like those younger men over there, sparring with wooden practice swords – kind of like gladiators, but then these were clearly not gladiators. Some were quite young, probably in their twenties. Tertius could have bene one of those years ago too, that’s of course if he hadn’t been in Northern Gaul and then at home, helping his sickly father out at home, after his brothers died. Well one brother died and the other was presumed dead a few years.

 But he didn’t come here to think about Secundus – he’d rather not at all think about his brother Secundus, no he’d rather watch the young men who were sparring. One of the young men then ended with his partner and seemed finished and looked in his direction. Was he interested in making a new friend or acquaintance, Tertius thought to himself. And here you couldn’t know which rank the young men were, because of course they’d not be fully dressed when they exercised at least. It didn’t matter though.

 Tertius thought about what to do and then decided he might benefit from exercising too – then of course he’d need to go and bathe again afterwards, but since he had nothing better to do today, why not? He stood and approached the handsome younger man, “Greetings… what fine skills you have.” He started with a compliment, which was always a good start, “I was wondering if you are planning to spar more today, or are you finished?”

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Gaius had gotten a drink of water when he heard a strange voice complimenting him. He turned to see the man that he had noticed a moment ago and he nodded his head deferentially, recognizing the compliment. "Thank you," he replied. Then the man asked if he was planning to keep sparring and he paused a moment. He had been planning to continue but he hadn't found any other worthy opponents. "Willing to challenge me?" He said with a smirk, perhaps a bit too confident in his own skills. 

 

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The younger man nodded his head to recognize Tertius' kind compliment and then Tertius had wondered whether the other was finished exercising or not. If he wasn't, then Tertius might have a round with him. If he was done, well, maybe someone else wasn't. But the younger man asked if Tertius would challenge him, and to this Tertius couldn't help but smile. 

"Well I have already bathed, but who's to say twice isn't healthy too? And it would be good for me." Tertius replied and went to a nearby bench to remove his toga - underneath it he wore a tunica that ended just above his knees, so that would be fine for sparring. Then he turned to the other again, watching him while he went to pick up one of the wooden swords, "Forgive me though, if it is too easy... it has been a while." He said with a lighthearted smile, "I'm Tertius, by the way." He felt it was right to at least introduce himself to the man he was going to fight. 

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Gaius smiled, amused at this older man. "I suppose two baths in one day can't hurt." He observed the older man removing his toga, the symbol of his class. Now that the two were unmarked by class, Gaius contemplated that they were almost like equals in the context, class having nothing to do with skill with a sword. Gaius picked up two swords and tossed the other to the man, who introduced himself as Tertius. "Gaius. Pleasure to meet you," he said with a nod. Then, he sank into a ready position, sword up and watching his opponent with experienced, battle-trained eyes. 

@Atrice

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The younger man, perhaps ten years younger than Tertius, he judged, agreed that two baths in one day wouldn’t hurt. And then Tertius had removed his toga, to fight better. Of course it also meant that the symbol of his class was gone, but in a public bath, he never felt it was all that important anyway. Inside the actual bath house, most people were naked or close to naked. They were as naked as when they were born… you could not tell high from low. And out here, now that line had been blurred too.

 He caught the sword tossed to him, and tossed it from hand to hand a few times, trying its weight. It wasn’t often he held a wooden sword in his hand – he was no gladiator, after all… “Pleasure to meet you too, Gaius.” Tertius replied and watched the other man take a position to begin. Tertius did the same and wondered for a moment who should begin, but then he decided it would be him. He swung the wooden sword upwards to then move it downwards to Gaius’ chest and neck and was already excited to see how the younger man would fight.

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Gaius was unclothed from the waist up, the well-defined muscles of a trained man clearly marked on him. He grinned as Tertius grabbed the sword from the air as he tossed it, appreciating the brevity of the conversation as the fight began. Gaius stepped to the side as the first blow was aimed and then parried the second, going in for a jab to the chest.

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Gaius was a very handsome younger man – not in his twenties, Tertius thought, but still younger than he and his muscles and the lines of his body were most definitely more defined than Tertius’. There was quite a lot to admire, since Gaius didn’t wear a tunica as Tertius did. The other man grinned and managed to avoid Tertius’ first attack; then answered that with a jab towards Tertius’ chest. In the beginning, it went just fine, although Tertius could definitely feel he was not in as good a shape as he had once been. Once he was warm though, it went better.

 Time went on and the sun moved a little across the sky, until Tertius was growing tired and Gaius had it easier and easier with him. Tertius had won a few rounds, but when Gaius ended with landing his wooden sword against Tertius’ throat, he smiled, “Alright…” He said and met Gaius’ eyes, “I think that’s enough.” His hair was all wet and his face slightly red, as it tended to be when he was very focused and tense. Once Gaius had lowered his sword, Tertius stepped away and moved his arms a bit, stretched his back.

 “You’re good.” He then said, watching Gaius. Definitely a strong man and with such abilities, he had to use them somewhere, right? Although Tertius didn’t know where, “Whoever has the honor of your skills, must appreciate you. At least I hope they do.”

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Tertius wasn't attracted to the same sex but he could definitely appreciate a competent sparring partner. His bouts with Tertius lasted much longer than his bouts with his last partner and Gaius wasn't the clear winner each time. Tertius held his own and this made Gaius give the man his respect. Finally, though, their sparring came to an end with Gaius landing his sword on Tertius's throat. He let up when Tertius relented and smiled at his partner.  "Thank you. You're not half bad yourself."

Gaius wiped his brow of sweat and tossed the wooden sword aside in favor of a sip of water. "I hope they appreciate me. I was in Britannia for several years but I'm a praetorian now." 

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He might feel this in his muscles later or tomorrow, but it didn't matter. It felt nice to fight a little bit for fun and he did try his best to stay in a good physical shape - he knew it was important as you grew older. His own father had been sickly for years and that probably had to do with over-eating and definitely not enough movement. Tertius was going to be better than that. And it went well with Gaius here, right until he began to grow a little tired and asked to stop the fight. Gaius smiled at Tertius' compliment, and returned it to him, "Thank you, Gaius." He replied and watched Gaius get rid of the sword and get himself a drink. Good idea, he thought... Tertius followed.

"It does sound like they do, if you made it from Britannia to become a praetorian!" Tertius said with a smile, "I never made it that far... Northern Gaul here, for a few years, before I had to return to Rome to take care of my father and family. What was it like in Britannia?" He then wondered - it couldn't hurt asking questions, right? Everyone who'd served in the military had their stories and many had bad stories. Some worse than others, sure, but it was common in Rome.

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Gaius fully expected to be sore in the morning; Tertius had held his own in their fight and Gaius had had to fight hard to win the bouts he did. He remembered his father sparring with some of the other men at the bathhouse when he was younger, maintaining his physical wellbeing. He briefly wondered if the man still did, though he doubted it; he was getting older, though he was still in relatively good health. 

Tertius complimented him again and he smiled. "I appreciate it. I was a centurion for a few months before I returned to Rome." He took another sip of water and dropped the dipper back in the water, cupping his hand and wiping the moisture on the back of his neck for a cooling effect. "Britannia? Oh, not terrible, but I got in a few good scrapes. Nearly died a couple times, but they couldn't keep me down. We mostly just kept the peace, quelled uprisings."

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It was nice to see Gaius smile by the compliments, although besides that, the young man did not appear interested… not in anything but combat and conversation anyway. But Tertius listened anyway while the youth explained how he’d been a centurion before returning to Rome. Tertius watched him sip the water and drip water onto his neck… and then he spoke of Britannia.

 “That’s what you do when you’re sent to the borders, I suppose. Keep peace, quell uprisings.” Tertius said, “It was more or less the same when I served in the North. Not that I was ever in real danger, I think.” Unlike his brother Secundus, who somehow managed to get himself kidnapped by the Germans and thought dead for years. Before he suddenly returned, and still more than ten years later, his brother had not spoken of what happened. It wasn’t likely to happen. Not that it mattered that much anymore, Tertius barely saw his brother now.

 “Would you like to revisit the baths? I could use a proper one again, I think. This wasn’t planned… although it was nice.” Tertius added with a smile and picked up his toga.

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