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April, 75AD - early evening after Bagging Bunnies

Longinus drummed his fingers against the desk, completely unbothered by the mounds of paperwork that cluttered it. Vitus had tried to appease his mood by only delegating easier, more interesting, tasks for his attention today but he still found he had absolutely no motivation. He had half a mind to take a walk, and just perhaps his feet would land him outside the door of one Sestia Vaticana, but he knew it was not worth it. Her sons would be home by this time, and he'd just end up more frustrated for lack of an honest conversation, let alone anything more, by the time he left. So instead, he sat and waited, surely Attis and Metella couldn't be home much later than this? 

It was as if on cue that one of the Dacian's he'd employed timidly ducked their head into the tablinum and informed him that both were home. Inclining his head he only asserted; "I want to see them both, in here. Now." And the little Dacian squirrelled away to procure his body slave and the nurse. He sighed and ran his hand over his jaw. The day had started with so much promise and yet by mid-morning his mood had completely soured, thanks entirely to the foolishness of his own body slave. 

He trusted Attis more than most of his friends, he certainly trusted the younger man with his life. He indulged the odd witticism or eye roll here, a barbed comment there, and only asked that he be broadly respectful - or at least not cross that very clear line between being amusing and overtly disrespectful. And yet he'd done it, quite clearly, that morning. Longinus felt himself bristle; he'd given Attis more than anybody; his own room, relative freedom to do what he pleased with his time when Longinus didn't require him, decent money and the opportunity to have a woman and it seemed to count for absolutely nothing. If Attis couldn't find the line between humour and disrespect, then Longinus would have to show him that line. 

As he heard footsteps he sprang to his feet and moved round so he was leaning against the edge of the table in front of it. As he saw Metella he smiled, genuinely, and arched a brow; "Good day?" He made no move to acknowledge Attis at all. He wanted to see if the man would realise, and own up to his mistakes before Longinus was forced to point them out.

 

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Attis swallowed at the summons, which was followed by the Dacian's own addition of, "Dominus has been in a mood all day."

He could imagine the reason for that, of course. He had severely overstepped this morning, and knew it. Flippancy was one thing, of course, but even Longinus would hardly overlook how badly Attis had messed up.

He removed the (wilted) flower wreath he was still wearing, passing it to the other slave and ran his fingers through his hair in a futile attempt to neaten it up, pulled his tunic straight and presented himself at the master's study.

Longinus managed a smile for Metella (which was something) though Attis sensed the danger in the air, intangibly. Perhaps it was Longinus' position in front of the table, leaning against it? Nothing he could put into so many words, but something.

He swallowed. His master was ignoring him, which had to be deliberate, to throw Attis off-balance, and it was working, damn him.

"I... I was insolent, this morning, Domine," he managed, with no trace of his usual sarcastic humour. "I am sorry. I hope -" he bit his tongue and stopped. What he hoped was irrelevant, of course.

 

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They had had a fairly good day. Attis had earned her approval through hard work in bunny-catching, and by wearing his wreath of flowers proudly. Metella enjoyed Floralia, enjoyed the flowers and the bunnies and being out on her own, having a good time with Attis.

But all of that wilted, much like the flowers, the moment they walked back into the house, and they were summoned.

"Uh-oh..." Metella glanced at Attis, handing off their bag of bunnies to a house slave. They both walked into the tablinum at once. Longinus had been a mood, and it was easy to guess why. Metella did not want to make it any worse by making him wait. She stood at Attis' side, waiting to see just exactly how angry their dominus was about his body slave's cheekiness.

"Good day?"

"Yes, dominus." Metella nodded sheepishly. They did have a good day, but that was not really the point.

@Sara @Sharpie

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Longinus offered a rueful smile at Metella and was about to speak when Attis chipped in with his apology. Longinus dragged his gaze back to his bodyslave and felt the faintest twinge of guilt for what he was about to do, but he pushed it down. Attis needed to learn; if this behaviour went unchecked forever then who knew where it would lead? It was bad enough to be humiliated by a slave in front of Vitus, what would it be like if Attis - unpunished - decided to flip him the bird and mock him in front of a citizen? No matter how much affection he had for the man, nor how much he genuinely enjoyed his company, the risk was too great to let it go. 

With a sigh, he held up a hand to signal for quiet when Attis had conveniently finished his apology. He glanced back at Metella, "I know how much you enjoy festivals, so I'm sorry that Attis has ruined your day with his idiocy and spite, but I wanted you to be here for this as well." It didn't concern Metella directly - at least not the main portion of Attis' punishment, but it would have a tangential impact on her life and she needed to hear it. 

 He made no move to step forward but his voice grew more authoritative, assertive. Attis would recognise it from back in their heydays in Britannia. "I have given all of my slaves opportunities most masters would not. I put up with, enjoy perhaps, the amusing comments, the idleness I see sometimes. I gave you your own room," He directed this solely at Attis now, "Free run of the city when I don't need you, the ability to delve into whatever..." He gestured between the pair of them, "Your odd sort of relationship is. I even today gave you both the opportunity to go off and catch rabbits for a festival nobody really cares about. My friends judge me for it, think I'm too soft I suspect." He shook his head and sighed, running a hand through his hair that desperately needed a cut, "And how do you repay that? You swear at me in front of my secretary, mock me and then saunter out of my house without a care in the world." His fingers tightened on the edge of his desk. If there was one thing Attis should have learnt about him by now, it was that he was not a man that took defeat or humiliation well. 

"I should have you flogged until you can't walk." He wouldn't though, he had something else in mind but he'd get to that later, "Do you have anything else to say? Or anything you wish to say to Metella by way of an apology for ruining her evening as well as my own?" 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Chevi

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"I'm sorry for being a complete idiot," Attis said. "There was no reason for it, I've got no excuse. I... messed up." He had seen Longinus furious before, this was not new to him. What was new was having that directed at him, rather than merely being in the room when someone else was getting the dressing-down. He had to bite his tongue to restrain the usual flippancy that wanted to come out; that would not help matters at all. It was just his nerves, and he knew it. And what else could he say in his defence?

Nothing, that was what.

He wouldn't have been at all surprised if Longinus had dragged him out and flogged him half to death.

 

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"I know how much you enjoy festivals, so I'm sorry that Attis has ruined your day with his idiocy and spite, but I wanted you to be here for this as well."

Metella would have felt relief that she was not in trouble, had Attis not been in serious trouble. She teased him a lot, but this time he had gone too far, and she felt a pang of worry about what was going to happen next. Longinus was lenient, but there was nothing Roman masters hated more than spoiled slaves. And there were traditions for punishment they were expected to keep.

Metella took off her flower crown and held it in her hand. Some petals stuck to her hair.

"I have given all of my slaves opportunities most masters would not. I put up with, enjoy perhaps, the amusing comments, the idleness I see sometimes. I gave you your own room... Free run of the city when I don't need you, the ability to delve into whatever... Your odd sort of relationship is. I even today gave you both the opportunity to go off and catch rabbits for a festival nobody really cares about. My friends judge me for it, think I'm too soft I suspect."

This was definitely not the time to point out that Attis and her did not have a relationship, really. It would have been awful to try to save her own skin when it was Attis who was in trouble to begin with. So Metella just hung her head and listened obediently to their master's angry words. She wished he had come to Floralia. Maybe he would have been in a better mood.

"And how do you repay that? You swear at me in front of my secretary, mock me and then saunter out of my house without a care in the world. I should have you flogged until you can't walk."

Metella winced, glancing at Attis. Longinus had every right to do so. Maybe he would. The thought made her stomach drop.

"Do you have anything else to say? Or anything you wish to say to Metella by way of an apology for ruining her evening as well as my own?" 

Metella looked up, first at Longinus, and then at Attis. She really did not expect an apology, but she did not dare resist. She knew Longinus was using her to make Attis feel worse about his choices. That was also his right.

"I'm sorry for being a complete idiot. There was no reason for it, I've got no excuse. I... messed up." 

It was not really meant for her; this apology was for the dominus. She just hoped it would be enough to avoid the flogging. 

@Sara @Sharpie

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Longinus listened to his apology with a minute tightening of his jaw. He felt that odd little tinge of guilt in the pit of stomach; a sign, perhaps, that he was closer to Attis than was natural or appropriate for a slave and his master. Yet to back down now would be foolishness, and all things considered Attis was getting off lightly. He could be walking around (limping, more like) with a back torn up from a whip, so if anything, Longinus was being merciful. 

"You did mess up." He summarised with a sigh and a shake of his head. His anger had dissipated into a simmer, but it was still there, lurking just beneath the surface. Right then, he thought, let's get on with it. 

"You are to go back to your room and pack your things." He paused to gauge Attis' reaction and then flicked over to look at Metella and then back again to Attis, drawing out the silence purposefully. Make him think he was being sold. "I don't want you in this house until you've learnt some respect, and you see just how good you have it here. I've made provision with my colleague Senator Titus Sulpicius Rufus; you are to go to his domus immediately, where you will be employed as a general house slave. Vitus will take over your duties here1." He knew his long suffering secretary was anything but delighted by the prospect. "You will be subject to whatever punishments or conditions he sees fit for a slave, and should you shirk your duties or...mess up again I can assure you Titus take a much firmer line than I do. Also, Attis," He now glanced back at Metella, "You are forbidden from seeing anybody from this house - including Metella." He exhaled a breath sharply and then sighed, "You will stay at Senator Rufus' domus until I'm convinced you have learnt from your mistakes. It could be two weeks, two months, two years." He shrugged, "Or if push comes to shove I could sell you permanently." 

He glanced between the pair of them. "Do you both understand?" He wasn't expecting any questions, but he suspected there would be some nonetheless.

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Chevi

1 this was agreed between Liv and myself!

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Oh, shit. Shit. Shit.

There was nothing to say in response to that. His master was perfectly within his rights to sell him if he chose, even if he hadn't gone and screwed up as thoroughly s he had. He was just surprised that he hadn't managed to get into this sort of trouble earlier.

He managed to breathe again when his master continued speaking. It wasn't the market, after all, but a loan for however long Longinus deemed suitable, to someone that Attis was at least familiar with - his master's friend Titus Sulpicius Rufus.

He only had himself to blame for being such a monumental idiot, there was no need for Metella or Vitus to have to suffer because he'd messed up. Anyway, Metella had made it clear she was only with him for fun, so why should she mind? She'd have better luck with Vitus, or the house slave with the tuneless whistling or... anyone else at all.

"Yes, Domine, I understand. I am sorry."

Too late for that, of course. He couldn't help momentarily picturing his master in Ixion's place in the Underworld, or perhaps Sisyphus' or Tantalus'.  Bastard.

 

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"You are to go back to your room and pack your things."

Metella paled. Was dominus really selling Attis? To whom? She glanced at him again, seeing he paled too. As much as she only kept Attis around for fun, she found that she really, really hated the idea of him being sold as punishment for doing something stupid. Not that she had anything she could do about it.

"I don't want you in this house until you've learnt some respect, and you see just how good you have it here. I've made provision with my colleague Senator Titus Sulpicius Rufus; you are to go to his domus immediately, where you will be employed as a general house slave."

Metella let out the breath she had been holding. Attis was not being sold. Yet. He was being punished, by being sent to a much more unforgiving master, apparently. But not for good. She just hoped Attis could get his shit together and act responsibly long enough to be forgiven. He'd have to bite his tongue, or the other dominus would have him whipped, for sure. Oh, Attis. That was not going to be easy. 

"Also, Attis, You are forbidden from seeing anybody from this house - including Metella. You will stay at Senator Rufus' domus until I'm convinced you have learnt from your mistakes. It could be two weeks, two months, two years. Or if push comes to shove I could sell you permanently. Do you both understand?"

Once again, Longinus was playing her against Attis. Or rather, the absence of her. They were forbidden from meeting again until Attis' punishment was done. It was a sort of punishment for her as well. She could go without the occasional sex, but she was losing a friend, and she did not like that one bit.

But once again, there was nothing to do but nod.

"Understood, domine."

"Yes, Domine, I understand. I am sorry."

She could tell Attis was upset. And probably secretly angry. But at least he was not dumb enough to talk back. She wanted to go help him pack his things at least, but they had to wait to be dismissed.

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Longinus saw the tensing of Attis' body and Metella's inhale of breath at his deliberate pause and felt vindicated. Good. This incident did not mean his generally (very) relaxed attitude to enslavement would be changed, he still enjoyed the fruits of the freedom he offered his people, but there was a fine line which had been crossed and now would not be again. 

As the both nodded their assent, he only said; "Good. Celsus will take you over." As a final, vaguely cruel nail in the coffin he had given the great hulking man leave to go and see his previous Dacian friends in Titus' house after dropping off Attis. There was the added benefit, of course, that the giant of a Dacian would also act as insurance should Attis try and do anything foolish like run. Although he was supremely confident that would not be the case; his bodyslave was clever, he'd realise the fate that awaited him should he try. 

He waved a hand to dismiss them and then resumed his seat at his desk, fingers tapping on the edge. This was, really, the best of both worlds he thought as the two slaves departed; he had no stomach for beating his closest slave (amusing, really, for a man so comfortable in theatres of war), but he didn't doubt Titus would should he need to. He'd given his friend leave - in the particularly rant and expletive ridden note - to treat Attis as if he were his own; including any methods of punishment he saw fit. He only asked that his bodyslave returned (whenever that was to be) still able to function to some degree. But he wouldn't dwell on that; if Attis got his head down and actually learnt some manners then he'd sail through unscathed, he was sure of it. He hoped so. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Chevi

Longinus - out! Feel free to carry on the thread without me!

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Attis went to 'his' room (what a bloody joke that was!) and began to shove things into a bag, careful to stash the purse with his peculium in first, wrapped in a tunic to muffle it and disguise its shape.

"You can feel free to tell me I'm a gods-damned idiot and you never want to see me again," he said bitterly as a shadow (presumably Metella's) loomed in the doorway. "I'm sorry I've ruined your day for you."

He had nothing else to say and few enough things to pack, but needed a moment to work the worst of his anger at himself out, and landed a couple of hard thumps on the shapeless lump of a pillow that hadn't done anyone any harm.

 

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They were dismissed. Attis went to his room (as Longinus pointed out, he had the luxury of his own room) to pack his things before he'd be taken over to the other household. Metella followed him, stopping in the doorway as he started rummaging around. Now that they were out of the dominus' sight, it was clear that he was upset.

"You can feel free to tell me I'm a gods-damned idiot and you never want to see me again. I'm sorry I've ruined your day for you."

"Well, you are a gods-damned idiot, but that's not exactly news to anyone." Metella noted. Just because Attis was being punished for his stupid mouth now didn't mean she had to lie about it. "And it was a pretty good day, except for this last part." She walked over to him, picking some flower petals out of his hair. "You know you'll have to bite your tongue over there, right? It would be a pity if you got whipped."

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"I guess I'll ask the house steward to put me somewhere out of the way where he won't see. Hard to get in trouble if the master never even sees you, after all," Attis said. "I wish he had bloody whipped me though - you and Vitus shouldn't have to suffer just because I'm a bloody idiot." He managed a lopsided smile that probably looked more like a grimace. "You and Vitus should hook up, maybe. He's a stuffy old whats-it, maybe you could make him lighten up a bit?"

 

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In a way, Metella was going to miss Attis. He was one of the slaves in the household she got along with, in one way or another, and he was entertaining when he wanted to be. She was not looking forward to being stuck in the house without him for company. 

"I guess I'll ask the house steward to put me somewhere out of the way where he won't see. Hard to get in trouble if the master never even sees you, after all,"

"Solid plan" Metella nodded. It was probably not going to work; Longinus sent Attis to the other household so that the other dominus could keep an eye on him and teach him a lesson about obedience. It was not likely he would just let Attis hide and weather the storm. But he probably knew that.

"I wish he had bloody whipped me though - you and Vitus shouldn't have to suffer just because I'm a bloody idiot... You and Vitus should hook up, maybe. He's a stuffy old whats-it, maybe you could make him lighten up a bit?"

"Alright, let's get some things straight" Metella raised a finger at him "One, I hook up with whomever I want to hook up with, and I'm not taking suggestions from you. Second, I'm not suffering. Sure, it's nice to have you around, but I'll still be here when you come back. So you should worry less about my pussy being unattended and more about getting back here when your penance is over."

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"Well, maybe you'll want to hook up with Vitus. Gods know he needs someone to help him get over that reserve of his, and I'm not going to be around to do it." He managed a smile, though it wasn't much like his usual grin. "Besides, he's not bad in bed, once he gets used to the idea that sex is fun."

"Glad you're not suffering, anyway. You might spare a thought for me on occasion while you're having fun with whoever you want to hook up with." Maybe she'd prefer Celsus, though gods knew what he had to offer anyone. He was good-natured enough, though, Attis allowed.

"I am sorry I've buggered up your evening though, Metella, truly," he said, and pulled the strap of his bag over his head. "I suppose I ought to go and find Celsus and get going before it gets too dark to see anything out there." He hesitated and then stepped closer to Metella, pressing his lips to hers in an apologetic kiss, the last they'd share for who knew how long.

 

@Chevi

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"Well, maybe you'll want to hook up with Vitus. Gods know he needs someone to help him get over that reserve of his, and I'm not going to be around to do it. Besides, he's not bad in bed, once he gets used to the idea that sex is fun."

Metella arched an eyebrow at Attis. She had not had an intimate encounter with Vitus before (or anyone else in the household for that matter, contrary to popular belief), but Attis apparently had, and had no problem talking about it. Sex was fun, she had to give him that, although she had not considered the possibility of doing it with Vitus before. 

"Glad you're not suffering, anyway. You might spare a thought for me on occasion while you're having fun with whoever you want to hook up with." 

"I'll picture your face as you are being quiet and obedient" Metella grinned. Attis finished packing his things and looked a little lost for a moment; there was nothing else left to do but say goodbye. Which was awkward.

"I am sorry I've buggered up your evening though, Metella, truly... I suppose I ought to go and find Celsus and get going before it gets too dark to see anything out there." 

"Take care, Attis." Metella's smile softened a little as he came over to kiss her. She kissed him back, making it a good one; it was the least she could do before he went off to take his punishment. She kissed him deeply for a while before she stepped back. "Try not to do anything stupid."

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