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He had once more found a temporary job as a servant for yet another wealthy family in Rome. Lexus and his mother weren’t exactly wealthy, after all, and although his mother was far from some old woman, she also wasn’t young anymore. And Lexus he was growing and he had taken small jobs since they came to Rome, to help out his mother. Tonight was yet another night like that. He didn’t always enjoy the jobs, because sometimes the guests at the parties would end up drunk and wanted to bed anything that walked past them.

Lexus remained inexperienced in that department though, although he supposed he should soon change that. He was very curious, after all, and especially after knowing Phaedo in the Domus Venus, he knew a thing or two… even if he hadn’t tried it for himself. He didn’t want any old drunk men at parties though, so he tried to avoid them the best he could. Tonight wasn’t so bad so far, there were women here too and the men didn’t stray too much if their wives were here.

While a couple of slaves danced in the peristyle, he stopped to watch them for a moment, while he stood with a tray of dried peaches. It reminded him of how he met the kind Gaia, who apparently knew his father… and he and his mother also went to visit her and her daughter in their fancy villa, but his mother decided that they didn’t really need it. They had their home in Rome and she had many people depending on her washing and mending their clothes. And Lexus, well he could serve people’s drinks and food so far.

After he’d been watching the interesting dancers a few moments, he thought he better move on and see if any of the guests would like a dried peach. He took a step backwards, but instead of meeting thin air there, his back collided with a warm body behind him and he gasped and stumbled and then the tray and the peaches were on the ground… that was bad! And who did he walk into? Lexus turned to face a beautiful looking younger woman there. She was clearly not quite as young as Lexus, but also no matron, he thought to himself... “Apologies, Domina, I forgot to look where I was going.” He said, “If I hadn’t dropped the tray, I’d have offered you some peaches. I can get some for you though, if you’d like? Once I've removed these, of course. As an apology? If you'd like?” When Lexus was clumsy, he tended to try to talk it away, apparently.

@Sydney

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The parties Oriana attended were something she both enjoyed and despised. On one hand, she loved the wine and networking she could do with the people of higher social classes. On the other hand, everything was so fake. The smiles, the pleasantries, the friendships. Oriana has no friends and didn’t really desire to have any. Most women of status were so concerned with having children and being a housewife. Oriana couldn’t care less. 

The party was fun, though. Her father told her that she might have a potential suitor earlier that evening, so she couldn’t get that off of her mind. She didn’t know what to think of it. Oriana drank a fair amount of wine to cope with the conversation, and at the party, she was a little buzzed. 

She was talking to a woman who just had her first child. She went on and on about how amazing children are, and Oriana wished she could sleep instead. Out of nowhere, someone bumped into her and she immediately turned around. A slave boy? “Excuse me!” She said, more loudly than she expected. It wasn’t often that Oriana had slaves bumping into her and dropping things. 

She looked at him and there was something...familiar about him. She couldn’t put her finger on it. Maybe he was a bastard of a senator? She really couldn’t tell. Oriana sighed. “Your apology is accepted.” She crossed her arms, puzzled. It was definitely bothering her.

“Yes, I’d like a peach please.” Oriana nodded. “And your name?” She asked, her eyebrow raised. If he was the son of a senator, it might be useful to know his name. 

@Atrice

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Lexus was no slave, but a free Roman, although only a plebian and not one with a lot of coin in his purse. So he took these jobs, they didn’t pay a lot, but they also weren’t very difficult and he learned a lot by doing the jobs. He helped his mother and he got to see other and more influential people of Rome interact and then he’d know the people of Rome better in general. It was always fascinating to watch the dancers and entertainers at parties though, yet he should move on. And he did. And then he didn’t.

He’d walked right into a quite beautiful woman, who exclaimed loudly when he walked into her, although it was a mistake and he even dropped the tray of dried peaches! Lexus apologized to her, talking like a waterfall while she watched him and then she sighed and accepted his apology.

“Thank you, beautiful Domina, thank you for accepting the apology.” He said with a small smile to her, and then she took his offer on having a peach, although she would also have his name.

“I’m Lexus… Lexus Naevius Gineverus, Domina.” Lexus said and then got down on his knees next to her to pick up the peaches and put them back on the tray, although he doubted they could be offered now. He’d have to go and get new ones without dust and dirt on them. And then offer a handful to her as part of his apology.

@Sydney

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Oriana was mistaken. He wasn't a slave boy, but someone with an actual name. She was so use to slaves pouring the wine and handing out food that she wasn't expecting someone else. But that name...Lexus. Was that a common name? She'd only heard it once before, when Alexius said that he could be called that. She thought it was Greek. Hm. Her face was surprised when he said his full name. He bent down to pick up the peaches, it was her fault after all. Her curiosity got to the better of her. 

"Lexus, is that a common name?" She said with an eyebrow raised. Oriana really was just curious. She hadn't met many Greeks in Rome. Oriana wasn't common either, at all, but her mother wanted a unique name for her. 

"If you have a full name, why are you doing what's normally considered a slave's job?" She asked.  Maybe it was a rude question, but it was something she wanted to know. "Here, I will walk with you to get peaches. But you need to be careful next time, a lot of the Senators and their wives would be...less forgiving." Her tone was serious, because if it was someone else in this establishment, they'd make a huge deal. 

@Atrice

 

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He wondered, while he picked up the dried peaches from the ground, why she wanted his name. Did she want to tell the master of the house here, that he’d walked into her and dropped the food and he should not hire such a clumsy servant again… he hoped not, this master paid him well. She didn’t say anything about that though, but she stayed put and wondered if his name was common and why he did a slave’s job. He stood when he’d filled the tray with peaches again, although these might all be thrown out. He didn’t know what they usually did in this household.

“Not common, as far as I know, Domina. I’ve never met anyone with that name. But my mother named me after my father.” Lexus explained and moved on to answer her next question, “And I need the coin they pay for these jobs… so I earn a little when I can, to help out my mother.” He explained to her. Lexus was already taller than her when he stood, but that didn’t matter to him. His mother was short too and he was used to being tall. His mother said he got the height after his father.

The lady walked with them then, to get peaches and told him to be more careful. Lexus nodded, “I know. Sometimes I forget to look where I’m going. Again, I am very sorry for walking into you. Will you tell the master of this house?” He glanced up at her, hoping she’d say no that, but you never knew. He did really need to learn how to be less clumsy and more graceful.

@Sydney

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His answer was interesting. He had never met anyone named what he was, and yet, his father was named Lexus. She almost wanted to laugh. It couldn't be Alexius, right? There had to be other people in the whole city of Rome named Lexus. And if he had a wife and child that she didn't know about...She quickly shook that thought off. Though the two had the same features, it had to just be a coincidence. 

"If you don't mind me asking, what is your father's name? I just know someone with a similar name and he might find it amusing if I told him this story." Maybe she was prying too much. Well, she was definitely prying too much, especially for a kid. But she couldn't help but be curious. "And if you need coin, I always need someone to tend to my garden. Most of the slaves I have aren't very good with manual labor. I would pay you well." It was true. She usually had a man named Culinus tend to her garden but he was a little too old to be working out there. 

She shrugged when he asked his next question. "That depends how good the peaches are," she said, looking serious at first and then smirking. She was kidding; she wasn't going to tell the master of the house. There would be nothing to gain from that. If he was a slave, she most definitely would tell on him. But this kid was just trying to make money. 

@Atrice

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It was incredible, really, that he never knew his father but knew so much about him. His mother wanted him to know, for her own reasons. She wanted him to know his father had been a good man, that she hadn’t been upset over being pregnant with Lexus and now she spoke of his father when she mentioned how she didn’t want her son to turn out. She made sure he learned his manners, because he was not a slave or a gladiator. And she didn't want her son to turn into a womanizer like his father and he shouldn’t be so focused on violence as his father had been. Of course he was focused on that for a reason, because he was a gladiator, but she didn’t want her son to turn out that way. So Lexus knew a good many things about his father.

The wealthy lady wondered what his father’s name was and said she knew someone with a similar name. Lexus looked up at her, hadn’t he just told her his mother named him after his father?

“His name is… or was… Lexus. I never met him. Mother says she heard he’s a freedman, so he could have a different name now.” He said, giving her a second look. If she knew someone with a similar name… although his father must be older than this lovely lady here, because he was about the age of Lexus’ mother. So maybe it wasn’t him, and she just said a similar name, not the same.

Then she said he could come and tend to her garden, if he needed coin. She said her slaves weren’t good at it and she would pay him well. Lexus smiled at her, “I never worked in a garden before, but I’ll be happy to try, for you. You’re very kind.” He said, at least he had his manners, his mother made sure of that. The lady said she didn’t know yet if she’d tell the master of the house here about the incident with the peaches, but when he looked at her, she was smirking, as if she was just joking. Lexus couldn’t help it though, he continued with a smile to her, “For you, Domina, I’ll dip the peaches in honey, if that would make it better.”

@Sydney

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This boy seemed like a good kid. He might have thought it strange that a random lady was asking about his absent father, but it was just too true to be a coincidence. A freedman, a child and father with the same uncommon name, and the boy even looked like Alexius. She didn't mean for the boy to be overwhelmed, and though he didn't seem to be, she was asking him too many questions about his absent father. Would it hurt to ask Alexius when she got home? If Lexus never met his father, than Alexius might have never met his son. Maybe she was interfering too much; it might have just been better to leave it be. 

Oriana smiled when he said that she was very kind. She didn't hear that phrase often. He then said that he'd dip her peach in honey. "I think that would be pretty fantastic, if you don't mind." She wondered what it would have been like to have her own children. This boy was only a few years younger than her, but if she did have a child, she would want him or her to be as good as Lexus. She didn't know much about him, but he seemed kind despite being a little clumsy.

"I apologize, I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Oriana Laecania. I live at my father's estate. So if you do end up working in my garden, you can tell her exactly where you're going to be. Mother's worrying is the last thing anyone needs." She laughed a little. She hated her mother, but she knew many children growing up who were afraid of disappointing their mothers by being late to dinner. 

@Atrice

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He’d heard his father was freed, so he might have a different name now. Although now he thought of it, he didn’t even know if his father was alive anymore. His mother hadn’t seen him since before Lexus was born and she only said she heard of him. She hadn’t seen him. Well he hoped the man still lived, because it would be odd to consider him dead. If it wasn’t for him, Lexus wouldn’t be here, after all. And he did his best to enjoy whatever life gave to him. Not unlike from the way his father lived his life, but Lexus didn’t know that.

It was certainly easy to enjoy life with such a beautiful woman as this one… even if she was a few years older than he, she seemed very nice, even though they met by accident, almost literally, because Lexus couldn’t get over his own clumsiness. When he complimented her by saying he’d dip peaches in honey for her, she liked the idea and he chuckled, “I’ll see if it can be done then, Domina.” He said, looking at her with a smile.

Then she introduced herself to him, with a quite interesting name he’d not soon forget. She explained it to him, so that he could tell his mother, so she wouldn’t need to worry.

“She worries way too much.” He said and rolled his eyes, but didn’t seem too upset. Lexus liked his mother, she was all he had… then he continued talking, because Oriana seemed nice and he probably trusted people a little too easily, “You know, she worries I’ll become like my father. Apparently he had a bit of a temper and liked fighting. It’s probably true, because she met him when he was a gladiator. But mother does not want me to fight at all. She wants me to be safe, always. So working in a garden might be good. That’s definitely not dangerous, right?”

@Sydney

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Oriana saw an innocence in the boy that reminded her of herself at that age. Though she wanted to be an adult and be mature, she most certainly wasn’t. She even married at 16, wanting nothing more than to be respected in the eyes of adults. She wished she could redo it all. In a way, she wondered if Lexus was in the same position. He was working, and he had probably been doing so his whole life. Having a childhood didn’t seem common for many in Rome no matter what the class each person was in. 

He said that he hoped he could dip the peaches in honey. Oriana nodded and smiled. If it wasn’t possible, it was not a big deal. Peaches just sounded fantastic, with or without honey. 

He said that his mother worries too much. “She worries because she cares.” Oriana didn’t really know if she was right because her mother never worried about her nor did her mother care. But it was a phrase she heard before.

When Lexus started speaking about his father again, it confirmed that it was impossible for his father to be anyone else but Alexius. Everything lined up perfectly—his name, him being a gladiator, being a freedman—and she wondered if Alexius knew he existed. When she got home, she might speak with him about it. Oriana thought that maybe he’d like to know. She wouldn’t say anything to Lexus though without speaking to Alexius. 

“Gardens don’t tend to be dangerous, unless you prick your hand on a thorn. I tried picking one when I was a child and ended up bleeding a little on my finger. But it goes away, so it shouldn’t be too dangerous. Not any more dangerous than running into strangers, if I’m honest.” 

@Atrice

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Oriana said his mother worried because she cared and he nodded, “I know. It’s just that… I’m not a child anymore. And I think she worries even more because I’m all she’s got.” Truthfully he wanted to do so much more than what she allowed him to do. Now she couldn’t watch him always, so she didn’t know what he did at a party like this, but on the other hand… he did like his mother and she’d raised him well enough, so he knew to not do something she told him not to. He kept his promises. Even if he did sometimes get in trouble, but it was never his fault.

And he knew his mother didn’t want him to turn out like his father. It wasn’t that she said his father had been a bad person, he just had certain traits she didn’t think were so favorable… and she didn’t want her son to be like that. It kind of made sense, but as he just said, he was no child.

Oriana said gardens weren’t dangerous, unless you pricked you hand… and she tried that once, but it would go away again. He smiled at her words about running into strangers.

“And it’s not always dangerous to run into strangers. We were strangers before we met. Now we aren’t.” He said with a cheerful wink and looked at her with a smile. She might be older than he, but she was definitely also very beautiful. Lexus was still more or less innocent when it came to women (and men, for that matter), but he was definitely curious. And it never hurt to look at people. Anyway, what were they talking about? Right, possible work… “Where in Rome do you live? If I should come by some day, to hear more about the job in your garden.”

@Sydney

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Oriana listened to Lexus, saying that he was all his mother had. Despite spending a lot of time with Alexius, she never knew much about his past. She never pried either, because everybody had secrets in their past that they wanted to be left alone. The kid, or young adult, was so kind. She would think Alexius wouldn’t just leave a child if he knew Lexus existed. He even said he was all his mother had, which Oriana understood. When there’s only one person someone cares for, they don’t want to let go. It seemed to be that way with Lexus and his mother. 

“You have a good point,” she said smiling when he spoke about them no longer being strangers. Bumping into someone accidentally rarely ended in something good, but Lexus was lucky. 

He asked where she lived, which she totally forgot to tell him. That might have been important if he was possibly going to work in the garden. “My father’s villa is in the Domi Aventini. If you just ask where Ordovian Laecani’s home is, someone should easily point it out to you. You can come by any time during the day, I should be home. If I’m not, one of my slaves will attend to you.” She smiled, wondering if he would actually take her up on the offer. If he didn’t, she still had slaves working out there. If he did, it might be a little interesting though considering his father is her bodyguard and, well, someone she spent a lot of time with.

@Atrice

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She’d said gardens weren’t more dangerous than running into strangers could be – and well, this current encounter didn’t seem dangerous at all. Oriana was a beautiful and kind woman and Lexus did his best to keep her entertained and talk to her, while they walked to the kitchens of this domus to pick up new dried peaches for her. On the way he now also wondered where she lived and Oriana told it to him. He nodded.

“I’m sure I can find time for it.” He said and slowed his walking, “So here’s the kitchens, I’ll go find the peaches for you.” Lexus said and before she could stop him, he’d bounced into the kitchens to find the sack of dried peaches that he got the first tray from. Soon he’d done the refill and stopped for a moment to wonder where they kept the honey. There seemed to be no kitchen slaves present though, and he had no idea, this wasn’t his home, after all…

He returned to the entrance to the kitchens, “Here’s your peaches… I couldn’t find the honey, sorry. That must be for another time.” Lexus smiled, hoping she’d be pleased anyway.

@Sydney

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Oriana knew that if Lexus had run into a senator or a more uptight woman, he might have been thrown out and shamed, maybe even hit. She wasn't sure why, but lately she had been a lot kinder than she was in her past. She was often rude, heartless, and all business. But there was something that she had that she didn't have before--someone who cared about her. Maybe she became soft-hearted, something she would've been afraid of four years ago. Lexus was lucky, not only was she kinder, but she also knew his (possible) father. It was a strange coincidence; maybe the Gods were trying to tell her something, despite her not really worshipping any diety. 

"Thank you, Lexus," she said as he walked into the kitchens. She wondered if any of the Senators would look at her strange for speaking to a plebian. It wasn't the worst thing, but it usually wasn't something she was supposed to do. Her real father was a plebian after all, though nobody at the party needed to know that. 

Lexus came out with the peaches, but said he couldn't find any honey. "It's quite alright, peaches are already sweet enough. I appreciate you looking though," she said with a smile and grabbed a peach. "I do have to get back to this party, but I am looking to hear from you. If your mother needs to speak with me just to make sure everything is okay, that is not a problem for me. And if you simply don't have time to work in the garden, that isn't a problem either." She took a bite of the peach. It was sweet and tasty. "I'll see you later, Lexus. Try not to bump into anyone else, okay?" 

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