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October, 74 AD

Lexus had promised to come and see the kind Oriana Laecania about a job in her garden. He still hadn’t forgotten how she’d been the night they met, at that party. He’d been so clumsy – again – and was lucky that he’d been clumsy with someone as nice as she. They’d also spoken about his father, he couldn’t remember how that conversation started, but she had seemed very curious. It didn’t matter though; what mattered was that he promised to come and see her and so he would.

It was an early morning he left the home he shared with his mother to go to Oriana’s house. He came to the right part of Rome and did as she told him – he asked for directions and soon he found himself standing outside of the Domus that belonged to Oriana and her father. Or maybe it was the other way around. It didn’t matter. Lexus had all day; tonight he was going to serve at a fancy party nearby, so this was perfect. And if he got this job, perhaps he wouldn’t have to serve at parties anymore and get those gazes he didn’t want from older men.

He knocked on the door and ran a hand through his hair, although it was probably as tousled as always. A slave came to open and he stated his business and hoped to see the young lady of the house. The slave led him inside and towards an office, where he was instructed he could wait. The home seemed very quiet and he was curious about seeing the garden and finding out how he could work there… and if it was even something he could do. But he’d love having such a nice mistress to work for, he thought to himself.

He spent the time waiting with looking at all the finery in the room, until finally there were footsteps approaching and he turned towards the entrance to the room to see her.

@Sydney

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The night before, Oriana had gone to a party and stayed up quite late. She drank a lot, snacked, and conversed with many of Rome's most notible figures. She ended up going home drunk and passing out in her bed. She didn't think she had anything going on the next day, so she didn't plan on getting up early. A slave came into her room and tried waking her up several times before they were successful. "You wake me, why?" She said, half-asleep and louder than she intended. The slave said that she had a young man waiting in her office. A young man? She wasn't exactly sure who it was, but it could be a number of people. Groggy, she got out of bed. She realized she was still wearing her silk tunic from the night before, knowing she had to get changed and brush up.

She got ready and felt bad that the young man was waiting longer than he should have. She got changed into a long, casual tunic and pinned her hair up. She figured once the man was gone, she would take a bath to get the smell of wine out of her skin. She went downstairs into her office, where she saw Lexus. A smile popped up on her face. Oriana certainly wasn't expecting him, though she was glad to see him. She wondered if Alexius was sleeping or out for the moment, but they'd meet eventually if he was to work at her villa.

"Lexus, I'm so glad you stopped by! I'm sorry to have made you wait," she said, motioning him to sit on the chair. She grabbed a jug of wine and two glasses, pouring a cup for him and a cup for her. "Are you still looking to work in my garden? That would be wonderful and I'd pay you well for it." 

@Atrice

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It had been a little bit of time since that party where he met her, but how could he forget about such a beautiful and nice lady as Oriana? It was kind of amazing that she might not even be ten years older than he, yet she’d come so far and went to fancy parties, while Lexus was nothing but an ordinary plebian boy, trying to make his way in life together with his mother. Now he sat waiting in the fancy tablinium of the domus and it didn’t matter to him that he had to wait. It wasn’t like he sent word that he’d come or anything, but he hoped it would be alright.

Finally she approached and when he saw her, he smiled. Sure she was not as fancily dressed as at that party, nor was her hair or jewels as fine, but it didn’t matter. She still looked stunning – and so way out of his league! She seemed pleased to see him, luckily, but apologized for letting him wait.

“Don’t be, I should probably have sent word. I’m glad you have the time though.” Lexus said politely and sat down as he was invited to do so. Oriana poured them wine and handed him one and wondered if he’d still work in her garden.

“Yes, that’s what I came about. I think such a job would be good for me and I need to learn something else than just being a servant.” He explained, “It’s a very fine home you have, I’ve only been to such places as a servant. Not like this. I guess the home matches the hostess.” He said with another smile to her. Well there was of course that Saturnalia he spent with Phaedo, where they met those girls and apparently one was a Senator’s daughter and they had to help her home when she passed out… he’d been in a fancy domus that night. But that wasn’t the same at all, it had been dark and they’d been drunk. This wasn’t the same at all.

@Sydney

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Oriana always enjoyed when she had company. It was something to do other than plan parties, write contracts, and order slaves around to do things. Even if the person was rude or boring, it was still interaction she often craved for. But Lexus was a kind, hard-working kid and she really did enjoy having his company. 

She smiled when he said that the home matched the hostess. With Oriana’s father sick, she has tried her best to keep the home looking the best that it can. She didn’t do a whole lot, but she made sure her slaves were organized with the work and hoped her villa wouldn’t crumble to pieces. “Thank you Lexus, I appreciate your kind words.” She smiled at the boy and took a sip of wine.

“I’d probably have you work three days during the week in my garden, if that’s okay. I have a slave, Maxius, who can show you how to cut and tend in the garden. It’s hard, physical work and it might be tough at times, I won’t lie. But I’d make sure you’re plenty hydrated and feed you two meals a day.” 

@Atrice

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He loved seeing her smile when he complimented both her home and her in the same sentence. Lexus did like it when he was able to make such a beautiful lady smile, but didn’t know if she found him as charming as he thought of her. She thanked him for his kind words and he smiled, “Well they’re true.” He said and then went quiet again, while Oriana explained how he’d work and how one of her slaves would show him how to tend to the garden.

She said it was hard work, but that she would make sure he was fed and had plenty to drink too.

“I’m sure I can manage. Mother says it might be good for me with hard work. My hands are too soft, apparently.” He said with a roll of his eyes, “I don’t know what the problem is, it’s not like I’m some old and weathered dude yet. It takes time.” He added with a smile but then went quiet, maybe he was talking too much again, he sometimes said more than he ought to. And his mother was probably right and he did need the hard work… and not just because of his soft hands, but also to grow stronger. If his father had been a gladiator, he must have been strong. Lexus hoped he would be that too.

@Sydney

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Gods, had Oriana changed. Before her sudden change of heart, she wouldn’t be caught dead talking to a plebeian, freedman, or slave if it wasn’t to order them around. Ever since her late husband passed, she became soft-hearted. She felt for people, and she especially felt for this hard-working kid trying to help his mother. 

She laughed when Lexus said that he wasn’t old and weathered. “No you’re not old yet, but soft hands are something that girls your age long for, trust me. Hopefully this work won’t ruin them,” Oriana smiled. She then got out a small bag and put coin in it. 

“Here’s an advance, just don’t run off without working. I can have Maxius show you around in the garden, if you please? I don’t know much about the work in there but he is quite knowledgeable.” She held out the small bag of coin for him to take. “What’s mine is yours, Lexus. If you ever need help with anything or need to talk to someone, I’ll be there. I was a teenager once, it’s hard to find people you can trust to talk to.” Gods, when did she get so generous?

@Atrice

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She laughed in her own, contagious way, when he told her his hands were too soft and he couldn’t help it that he wasn’t old and weathered. Then she said that girls at his age longed for soft hands and she hoped the work would not ruin them, “Good thing I’m not a girl then.” He said with a cheerful grin.

Then Oriana had suddenly handed him a small bag of coins and said he shouldn’t run off without working and that he’d be showed around in the garden. Lexus took it quietly, she really was nice. Then she said that what’s hers was his too and he could always find help or someone to talk to in her. Lexus gave her a genuine smile, “Thanks. I don’t know how it is I run into such nice people all the time. People keep talking about how Rome is such a dangerous place… but I don’t experience that.” He said, still smiling at her.

“Will you also come and show me the garden? And the rest of your house. I’ve been working in such houses before, but I never had the time to just… admire them.” He then said, hoping he wasn’t asking too much, but it sounded like Oriana really just wanted to be nice to him. And hopefully the slave Maxius would be good too... "Who else lives here? You, your father, Maxius... and more slaves, I imagine?" He wondered out loud. Slaves were just a necessary evil in the world, he knew that. He didn't like slavery, because his parents had been slaves, but he'd also learned that Rome and the empire wouldn't have been so grand without slaves. No matter how wrong it was to own other people, they were still needed.

@Sydney

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Oriana laughed when he said that he was glad he wasn’t a girl. When Oriana was his age, she always wanted a man with soft hands. That was why she didn’t want to ruin his hands with too much hard work; maybe a girl would one day appreciate them, like his mother said. 

He took the bag of coin and spoke about Rome being dangerous. She shrugged. “You have to try to look for the good in Rome. There sometimes doesn’t seem like a lot of it, but sometimes you get lucky.” She said nodding, drinking her wine. “There are bad places and people in Rome, and you will probably experience them one day, but hopefully they aren’t as bad as you think.” 

Lexus asked if she could go with him and take him around the house and garden. Oriana was hungover and wanted to just sit for a while, but she couldn’t say no. “Yes, of course. I want you to feel as comfortable as possible here.” She’d walk him around but she knew next to nothing about garden work. 

“Yes, we have more slaves. A couple work in the kitchen, one helps my father, some work around the house and around the grounds, like Maxius. My bodyguard also has his own room here,” Oriana said casually. She didn’t even think about Lexus and Alexius’ connection when they should’ve been the first thing that came to her mind. It was probably a combination of just waking up and being hungover with a headache, but she tried to not let it show. “If you want, I can show you around and we can meet up with Maxius in a little bit.” 

@Atrice

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He listened quietly while she said it was good to try and look for the good in Rome, and that you could be lucky and find it. Lexus nodded. He knew there were bad places and people here, but he just happened to mostly meet the kind and friendly ones. He couldn’t help but also think about Lucius, whom he met just the day before. Oh he knew Oriana! He almost forgot that. But it didn’t seem right to mention him just now.

“You’re probably right… but so far, the people I met, they haven’t been bad at all. Just look at you, for example.” He said with a smile to her and then he had suggested she came to show him the house and she agreed, said she wanted him to feel as comfortable as he could. He also asked who lived here and Oriana explained it and then seemed to want to show him around.

“I’d love to have you show me around.” Lexus said and tasted a bit more of his wine, “What will you show me first? Probably the garden…?” He suggested and stood, ready to get going so that he could see where he would work and what he’d do. Lexus didn’t know she was hungover and not feeling so well – all he saw was this beautiful lady who had a job for him and showed him such kindness, even here in her home. And what this place was! It sounded like they had quite a few slaves and she even had a bodyguard living here. Maybe one day, he’d earn so much. And this was a good start, he thought.

@Sydney

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Alexius had been sleeping in today. Oriana had gone to a party last night and for some reason he didn’t know or understand, she hadn’t wanted her bodyguard to join her. Of course, he couldn’t join the party the same way she could, but he could still be present and watch over her. Make sure nothing happened to her. But she hadn’t wanted him to join, so Alexius did a similar thing to what she did… he just went out for a night on the town, with plenty of drink. Now he was waking up, it was well up in the morning and the sun had long since risen.

He lay a little bit in the silence of his own chamber. Oriana hadn’t come to his room after she came home last night, maybe she’d been too drunk to want anything but sleep too. Alexius thought over how that night in the town went… he recalled he’d flirted with a few pretty ladies and possibly also a guy. But he hadn’t slept with them, had he? Not that he remembered. He tried hard to stay true to Oriana, because she wanted him to and he didn’t want to hurt her. The more he thought about her though, the more he thought he should go and find her. Maybe she was also sleeping in and she’d love being woken with a kiss and maybe a little bit of calm morning pleasure…

Alexius put on his short breeches and the tunica and left his chamber to walk the short way to hers… but she wasn’t there. Apparently she was already up. One of the female slaves was busy making the bed and Alexius gave her a smile, “Do you happen to know where our mistress is?” Alexius asked her and she smiled back, “Some young man came to see her… I don’t know what for. He was very young though, so you have nothing to worry about from him… I think. He was handsome for his age though…” The slave said with a grin and a wink, knowing his line of thought and he nodded and thanked her and went to look for Oriana and her young visitor, while wondering who that might be.

@Sydney

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Oriana nodded towards Lexus when he asked if they should go to the garden first. She smiled. “Good idea. You probably want to see where your working first.” She grabbed her cup of wine—the perfect cure for a hangover—and stood up out of her seat. She felt a little dizzy for a second, but she gained her balance and started walking. “You can follow me. I can answer any questions you may have,” she said, taking a sip of her wine. 

Oriana started walking towards the garden, but she heard footsteps that didn’t sound like a slave. They had work to do anyways, so who was it? She looked and saw Alexius, who was up just as early too. “Alexius,” she called out to him, making sure he heard. “I have a guest coming to work for me.” She nodded her head towards Lexus.

And then it dawned on her. 

Well, it wasn’t the most official meeting for a father and son who had really never met, but it would have to do. Her face turned red. “He’ll be working in the garden” was all she could manage to say, not even knowing why or how she forgot this important information. 

@Atrice

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Oriana agreed to show him the garden first and with a smile, she stood and grabbed her cup of wine to bring with her. Lexus waited politely for her, although he noticed she seemed a bit unsteady. Should he offer her his arm to hold? But she wasn’t some old lady, she might be offended. He decided against it and she bid him to follow her. Lexus nodded at her words, “I’ll probably have a lot of questions.” He said with a grin.

Not far from the office, they met a rather tall and broad man. Oriana stopped and spoke his name. Alexius. So that was her bodyguard… she told her bodyguard about Lexus, although maybe he wasn’t important enough for her to mention his name. Although he wasn’t a slave. Lexus stood silently just half a step behind her, as she didn’t seem to move after they met Alexius. And the bodyguard in turn seemed to look Lexus over.

@Sydney

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Alexius easily found Oriana, who had apparently just left the tablinium with her guest. A young man indeed and also handsome, as the slave described to him. Still growing, Alexius noted, he thought the boy might be taller. He had brown, tousled hair and friendly eyes. There was something oddly familiar about him. Oriana introduced the boy as a guest to work for her in the garden.

For some reason she also blushed… Alexius wondered if he was here for more than just the garden, although, wasn’t he rather young, even for Oriana? Besides, she had Alexius, so… no, that part didn’t make sense at all. He shook his head, the thoughts were ridiculous! 

“Very well… to help out Maxius? That’s nice; I think he’ll appreciate that.” Alexius said and looked the boy over again, “Isn’t he rather… young though, for someone to do garden work?” He’d wanted to say the boy looked a little bit weak maybe, there was not a lot of muscle on him and he wasn’t even very tanned, so could he even work outside for a whole day? Alexius wasn't sure he was too impressed by her latest employee.

@Sydney

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Oriana looked at the two men. Did...neither of them put two and two together? Even Alexius, of whom she spoke about Lexus? She didn’t want this to be awkward, but it was about to be. Oriana smiled at Alexius, almost a forced smile that might give Lexus away. 

“Yes, this boy is working in the garden. He’s old enough, I would think.” She said nodding to Lexus. “This is Lexus, the young man I was telling you about. The one I met at the party?” She just outright said it, not knowing if Alexius would get it. She didn’t mean to set anyone up, it just happened to be this way. 

Seeing the two of them in front of her, she could see so much in Alexius. The eyes, the hair, the facial structure—maybe Alexius didn’t even think about it. Oriana thought they were similar in appearances, but they couldn’t be any more different.

“You two will probably be seeing a lot of each other, I assume.” 

@Atrice

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Lexus and Alexius in one post...

For a moment there, he had forgotten completely about the conversation he and Oriana had a little while ago, about their relationship. And they had talked about so many things that evening and then they’d shared a bit of fun together, and they had been a bit drunk… but now that Oriana told Alexius the boy’s name and reminded him she’d already told about the boy, Alexius’ eyes widened. This… this was Lexus? Lexus Minor? Gods!

Meanwhile Lexus didn’t know what to think of the older bodyguard. He said Lexus was young to work in the garden, but Oriana defended him before he could speak up, saying he was old enough and apparently she already told her bodyguard Alexius about him. He saw Alexius’ reaction then, he looked surprised and almost shocked at the same time. Oriana said they’d be seeing each other a lot, but Lexus didn’t know what she meant. That’s because he would be working here, he assumed. Nothing more.

“Lexus…” Alexius said and nodded with a broad smile. There was no mistake here, it had to be his son! The eyes, the hair, the dimples they always told him about… even the way he held himself and the fact that Alexius had already judged the boy would grow to be even taller. And his name was Lexus. How many Lexus’ were there in Rome? He never met anyone else before.

“Yes?” Lexus said, after the bodyguard had said his name, what was going on here? “Is there something… wrong?” He wondered, feeling a bit awkward and shy.

“Nothing’s wrong, nothing is wrong at all.” Alexius said with a grin, “Oriana, really… I think you’re right. Lexus… is your mother’s name Ginevera?” He asked and Lexus nodded slowly, “Then it is you. Gods, Lexus! I’m your… I mean… you must be… my son!”

Lexus blinked, when Alexius said that. His son? That meant… that meant Alexius here was his father? Actually his father? Well how else would a stranger know his mother’s name and his name was indeed a version of Lexus! His father! Really, here? Lexus opened his mouth, but didn’t know what to say or do. He looked at Oriana, as if wanting her to confirm this or at least guide him. So far, he knew her better than this man here, who suddenly claimed to be his father.

@Sydney

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Oriana wasn’t sure if she should intervene. When she spoke with Lexus at the party, he didn’t seem to hate his father for not being in his life. If he resented Alexius, she probably would have never sent him to work for her in the first place. She watched the exchange; it seemed to be certain beyond a doubt that the two were father and son. When Lexus confirmed who his mother was, the whole exchange seemed joyful.

When Lexus looked up at her, she nodded towards him. “I wasn’t sure until now. Sorry for not telling you, Lexus. I didn’t want to get your hopes up just in case he wasn’t your…” father. That was all she had to say, but her voice trailed off. This was a time for them. 

“You two probably have a lot of catching up to do,” she said with a smile. “Why don’t we talk over wine, olives, and cheese?” Oriana said, looking towards one of her slaves and nodding to them, knowing that they overheard what she was saying. She turned towards the smaller of the Lexus'. “I can show you the garden another day. This is more important, I promise you.”

@Atrice

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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?

@Sydney

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