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Posted (edited)

Early May, 75 AD

Ah, time for a bath. Silvanus was with him, of course, but he might get left behind to watch the clothes… Marcus didn’t want anything stolen from his things and he knew the bath slaves could be quite good at picking stuff up. It was nice to be in the city, but it wasn’t like he never came here. He didn’t mind the travel between the villa and Rome, because he loved being in Rome, despite all the filth and dirt in the streets. At least the houses where he came were nice and he really did enjoy the baths.

Silvanus carefully helped him undress and was instructed to never take his eyes off Marcus clothes, when Marcus finally wrapped a piece of cloth around his waist and entered the actual thermae. He moved straight into the tepidarium, the hot sweating room, where he found himself a seat by a wall on a marble bench. The hot and humid air was thick in the room and he could see other men sitting here and there, but he couldn’t make out who they were.

Then a tall and darkhaired figure appeared from the mist and sat down near Marcus, on the same bench as he. He paid him little mind at first, but thought he looked familiar out of the corner of his eye. And when he turned his head, who was it… none other than Lucius Cassius Longinus? The man who brought him to Rome, although he barely remembered much from it, since he was nothing but a small child. Of course he had seen the man since then, but they didn’t spend a lot of time together. He’d know him anywhere though and now he’d seen him, it would be rude to not speak to him.

“Greetings, Senator.” Marcus said politely, as he’d learned, while brushing some of his blonde locks away from his forehead. He could be quite different with his friends but as far as he knew, Longinus was a respected Senator and if he wanted to get his own hopes up about reaching so far, he should remember his manners… even in the thermae, “What a coincidence to find you here.”

@Sara

((does the dating of the thread work for you?))

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Longinus rolled his neck and heard the satisfying click which was met with glances of disgust from his fellow thermae-goers. He cared not one iota. The past few weeks, months perhaps, had been intense to say the least and whilst usually a man that scoffed at idleness, today nothing sounded better than to just simply escape the pressures of his mind and upcoming nuptials and step away into the anonymity of the baths. 

Having already exercised until his chest burned, and taken his leisurely time in the various pools of the complex, Longinus wrapped a towel around his waist and arose from the mist and the steam. He yawned as he sat down, shaking out his dripping wet hair (far too long to be properly Roman, of course) and ran a hand over his short beard. He pondered, for a moment, as to whether to engage the use of the barbers provided at the complex but his train of thought was interrupted by a voice to his right and he arched a brow, snapping his head around to find a blonde youth sat a few paces away. "Salve." He retorted, trying to place the face. 

He did not expect to be recognised here, bare chested and clad only in a towel. He was not a great or famous Senator by any stretch of the imagination, and curiosity got the better of him as he tried to place the lad. His features were familiar, so familiar and it occurred to him after another pregnant pause. "Marcus?" He beamed, his boyish, beaming grin and thrust out his hand for a proper greeting. "Gods it's been months!" Years, more likely and he clapped the lad on the back harder than he meant to, with an open palm, the noise reverberating around the complex. 

"Last I heard you were at Flavia Juliana's," He shook his head in surprise at seeing him here, "What brings you to the city?" 

 

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The ladies must be all over him, Marcus thought to himself, as he stole glances at the other man’s almost naked body. He hadn’t really seen that before. Longinus was a good looking man and he hoped he’d be the same once he reached Longinus’ age. He barely knew how old the man was, but definitely at least ten years older than he, probably more, considering Longinus had been an adult while Marcus was still a small child. It was all so strange. And today he barely knew the man, but here he was and he actually greeted Marcus back, although he didn’t seem to recognize him right away.

When he said a name though and said it had been months – at least, Marcus thought - Marcus nodded with a smile, “Marcus Junius Silanus, the very same.” He said and was surprised to be clapped on the back so hard that there was an echo in the room. Everyone must have heard that. He blushed a little bit, but hopefully it wouldn’t be seen, it was already hot and humid in here, after all.

Then Longinus went on about Juliana and wondered what brought him here, “I tend to go back and forth between the villa and Rome. What brings me to the city…” He trailed off but then he grinned, “Entertainment, I guess.” Marcus said and winked at the other man, sure he’d understand, "Isn't that what Rome is for anyway?" Among other things, he knew that, but entertainment for the wealthy and noble was a huge part of why Rome functioned as a city. Even Marcus knew that. He was young, but he wasn't (always) stupid.

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Longinus grinned, amused, at his answer and arched a brow. He remembered being - Gods how old must Marcus be now? - sixteen, seventeen. In his mind he still was sixteen or seventeen, which made the slowing down of his body even more depressing. It had started already - the ache in his neck when he woke up sleeping in a funny position, the hangovers that only grew worse. He was yet to see any grey hairs but knew they had to be lurking somewhere. He was only fortunate that he possessed such an abundance of energy most days that he was almost never not exercising, and his body showed it.

"Ah yes," He scoffed, amused, "Who needs Rome for the senate or the Forum or the Augustus when it has such unrivalled...entertainment." He laughed now, a grin stretching across his face. 

He sighed and smoothed back his wet mop of hair from his face, "Ah well, enjoy it whilst you can. You'll be in a military camp soon enough and there's not a great deal of entertainment there, I'm sure I don't have to tell you." The camp followers were a motly lot. Sometimes you lucked out and had a pretty farmers daughter trying her luck, most of the time though you were left with bitter angry Britons (in his case) thoroughly middle-aged and scowling the whole act through. The thought occurred to him though, and he arched a brow at the younger man; "Unless you've started up the cursus honorum already and are on leave?" 

 

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The older man grinned at him and commented on how Rome was also the Senate and the Forum and the Augustus and Marcus nodded, “But all those… they work hard to be able to end the end provide entertainment. Entertainment in Rome and expansion of the Empire. Unless I got it wrong, but you tell me.” Longinus was, after all, the more experienced here. And as bratty as he could be, he knew to respect his elders, Juliana taught him that much at least. And he would respect his elders, at least those who deserved it and he was certain Longinus could be counted among those.

Longinus told him to enjoy the entertainment while he could and spoke of how little entertainment there was in a military camp. Yes, he must know a great deal about that. Maybe Marcus should ask more into that, once it seemed right. For now though, the other asked if Marcus had started up the cursus honorum.

“I’ve not started that… I’m not 18 until next spring.” He said with a little smile. So he had plenty of time to enjoy Rome until then, “Then I will join the vigintiviri and I guess the rest is kind of laid out. Did you join the vigintivri too? Which board? Did you learn much?” Now he was suddenly curious, there was so much he didn’t know and Longinus could be a fountain of knowledge when it came to these matters. He didn’t really have anyone else to talk to about these matters. Juliana’s husband was far away and he didn’t know him well and there weren’t any other grown men he felt close with. Not that he felt very close with Longinus either, but at least this one knew him as a kid… and that had to count for something.

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Posted (edited)

It was refreshing, Longinus thought, to speak to a man so unburdened by the stresses of adult life. Young Marcus didn't have to worry about clients or slaves, money or women - besides, he supposed, those there for said entertainment. He remembered being such himself, although he could hardly consider himself jaded now, not like Titus Sulpicius Rufus at any rate, who Longinus wouldn't be surprised came out of his mother sucking a salt block.

He chuckled at the questions and shook his head, "Never did. I took up a position as a Tribune under your father when I was eighteen, so...skipped the queue a bit as it were." He smiled. His father had pulled strings, he knew that, but with a son as energetic and bent on pleasure-seeking as Longinus had been, a shake-up in the form of being dumped in the wilds of Britannia was the perfect cure. Not that it really was a skip in the queue, as far as he was aware the vigintiviri wasn't a requisite anymore but what did he know? It had been years since he thought about those tentative first steps on the ladder of offices. 

He clicked his fingers at a slave, passing, and was promptly brought a cup of water which he downed with gusto. The heat in thermae could be oppressive, was it any wonder they had such a quick turnover of slaves? "And how's the family? I hear Lucius is off in Parthia is it? Or Greece?" He'd always been closer to Lucius than Marcus, by simple virtue of the fact that Lucius had served as his legate a handful of years ago - and after all that mess with his domus and the legal wrangling Longinus had assisted on. 

 

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Marcus was definitely unburdened by the stresses of adult life. He knew that he would get there someday… and he knew that he would make it big, someday. He had the determination and he wanted to rise high. But right now, he was young and free and wanted to enjoy life as much as he possibly could. Sometimes that meant drinking your brains out. Sometimes it meant soaking in the thermae and apparently meeting old… acquaintances?

He asked Longinus curiously about his career path and apparently he did not start the way Marcus had planned. He became a tribune under Marcus’ own father. He knew that, but he never thought much about it and hearing his father mentioned was kind of sudden. He never really knew the man, but knew he’d been very important and held a lot of power. That’s what Marcus wanted too… to honor his father and his family, eventually. He nodded a bit quietly to Longinus’ explanation and seemed to wake from the sudden thoughtful mood, when Longinus picked up a drink for himself.

“Last thing I heard… he was in Greece. I haven’t seen him in months; I’ve barely heard from him. I don’t know what he does.” Marcus said, maybe a little bit bitter, because he never fully understood what went wrong with their family home and Lucius losing their fortune. Maybe his brother thought him too young to know the full truth; maybe he was ashamed. No matter what though, all Marcus knew was that something went terribly wrong because of Lucius' mess, Marcus was now  unofficially homeless and simply staying with Juliana and at the palace because he could. If he didn't have them, he might be forced to begin his military career now, because where else would he go?

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Longinus, despite being an only child, had learned enough about sibling squabbling through his friends and cousins to know it when he saw it. He merely smiled politely and swept that topic under the rug for another time, he was in no mood to sour this chat with Marcus, nor was he in any mood to pry. Lucius wrote to him occasionally, for advice and general conversation but he hadn't seen the man since his departure for Greece. He wondered if he should swing back via Greece on his way home from Africa Proconsularis next month and see his old mentee. Still, that was a thought for another time and he turned his attention back to Marcus.

"Ah well," He grinned, "Who needs brothers? I'm an only child and have done alright." He chuckled. That wasn't to say he missed having siblings, of course, and he fancied he might quite like a younger and older brother, but supposed he'd found both in his friends. 

Feeling the familiar ache in his neck again he rolled it to the side until it did that familiar click. Satisfied, he sighed in contentment. "How long are you in the city for?" He asked, intrigued, before adding; "We could get a drink, if you're done sweating your bollocks off in here?" He liked Marcus' brother immensely but he realised he hadn't really gotten to know the younger Silanus. Maybe it was time to change that?

 

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Marcus had actually looked up to his brother Lucius most of his life. Lucius had, after all, in a young age dealt with the man who killed their father and Lucius was always his great big brother, who knew how to do things. But after the whole ordeal with their family home, things had changed and then he had barely seen his brother since then. His sister was also still around, of course, but she kept more to herself and he had always been closer with Lucius in the past. But not anymore. Marcus was free to do as he pleased.

Longinus didn’t comment on Marcus not really knowing where his brother was and what he was doing, instead he said he’d been fine as an only child.

“You’re absolutely right. And I’m also doing fine so far without him.” Marcus replied and then Longinus wondered how long he was in Rome for and invited him for a drink. Marcus gave him a surprised look, well that was a sudden change of plans for the day… but why not?

“I’m here for as long as I please.” There were no one to tell him otherwise, after all, “I only just arrived here, so I do need a swim and a massage, but after that… I should be free for a drink.” He said with a smile, happy to be invited out for a drink, because he could always use one of those. A drink and some fun, which Longinus hopefully knew how to have.

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Longinus chuckled - the impetuousness of youth! If there were two things Longinus loathed it was entitlement (outside of the natural Roman entitlement of course), and arrogance. This one seemed to have inherited it where his brother had not - but trying to steer his judgement aside, he decided to give the lad the benefit of the doubt. He owed good old Decimus that. And besides, he still remembered holding the youth's hand and carrying him on his back to amuse him when Longinus was only twenty-one and the youth next to him couldn't have been more than five. 

Inclining his head, he gestured at the pools, "I've got a friend in the palaestra I need to catch up with, come find me there when you're done?" He smirked to himself - he hadn't a friend out in the gymnasia but couldn't think of much worse than soaking like a prune in a hot bath on a day like this - better to go and enjoy the fresh air. He stood and inclined his head again before leaving another hard slap on his back, as the boy's father once did to him all the way back in Britannia. He grinned to himself as he walked out to re-dress in a fairly average and unimpressive tunic and pallium that had mercifully not been stolen. 

He bided his time, waiting for Marcus to finish up, by simply sitting in the shade of the colonnade, mulling over his own thoughts about his upcoming wedding and snorting in amusement and derision at the fools that couldn't run or throw a discus for their lives. He assumed the overweight fools were desperately trying to hone their bodies for younger wives and the idea made him chuckle even more. He glanced across as a figure cast shadow over him and smiled when he saw Marcus. "Thoroughly relaxed now, young Marcus?" 

 

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Marcus should of course just have abandoned his plans for the thermae and instantly jumped at the opportunity for a drink with Longinus. But he did really just arrive to the thermae and he did need a swim. Look at Longinus’ body! If he wanted such a body at Longinus’ age, he knew he had to keep working for it, so he did. Longinus excused himself though, saying he had to talk to another friend, but Marcus could come and find him. Marcus nodded with a smile, “I’ll find you.” He promised and then Longinus left and Marcus moved on in the thermae.

When he was all done and well-massaged, he returned to Silvanus in the apodyterium and got dressed again. Silvanus combed his hair and Marcus shook his head to make the blonde locks land in a perfectly half-messy style. He exited the area wearing a red tunica and a green pallium with yellow decorations at the edges. He found Longinus in the colonnade and the older man smiled up at him. He had such a bright smile. He’d always remember that about Longinus.

“Yes, relaxed and feeling great. And I’ll feel even better with a drink in my hand. Where are we going?” He assumed Longinus knew a good place, since he was the one inviting Marcus for a drink.

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Longinus chuckled at his eagerness and ducked his head as he stood up; "Oh I know a place, don't you worry." He grinned and led the way out of the thermae. Vitus, is his (temporary) body slave trailed behind like a lost puppy - glancing sideways to Marcus' own slave. 

The streets were full at this time of day and Longinus had to deftly side step passing litters and giggling ladies who glanced between the pair. Marcus was most certainly not short of attention and the thought made him grin in an amused, fatherly sort of way. Walking through the back streets, he glanced across at his companion with an arched brow; "I'm surprised you haven't got great gaggle of friends fawning over you." He smiled with amusement as he talked; "Young lad like you - good family name, staying at Flavia's villa...you'd have thought you'd have a boatload of friends queuing up to attend the thermae or take you out for a drink - instead you're stuck with me." He shook his head, in a self-deprecating manner. 

The route to his most secret location wasn't far but it was winding; a criss-cross through the back streets. When he finally stopped he was standing outside an unassuming door just off the main drag of the Aventine. Smiling mischievously at Marcus he arched a brow and knocked. The red door swung open and a thoroughly dispassionate man greeted the pair; the smell of incense and wine filling out into the street. "Yes?" The man inquired and looked the man over. Longinus only leant in and whispered the necessary words into the man's ear. Satisfied, the towering giant stood aside and swept his arm to indicate they could enter. "Gentleman." He inclined his head as Longinus slipped passed and into the building. 

It was a warren of corridors until they crossed through the doorway of the main room. Slaves were finely dressed but the girls that littered the place most certainly weren't. The smell of alcohol hung heavy in the air and mingled with the dulcet music that drifted from a cithara player. The place was richly adorned with red walls and bright yellow mosaic's littering the floor. It was a secret bar, members-only  that cost him an arm and a leg to join and be privy  to - but it was worth it for newcomers into the Roman social scene like Marcus. 

"This'll do, you reckon?" 

 

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He was curious about what kind of a place Longinus knew that he didn’t. Marcus might just be 17 years old, but he was also definitely 17 years old and without his brother to look after him and Juliana busy with her smaller children, Marcus loved going out when he was in Rome… which was one of the main reasons why he went to Rome. All the entertainment indeed, and today was apparently no different when it came to that. First the baths and now a drink! He followed Longinus into the busy streets of Rome, smiling at the ladies and girls who looked at them. Well they must be quite a pair, handsome both of them… and one of them young and one more mature, so there was something for everyone. Marcus enjoyed it.

Meanwhile Longinus talked about how Marcus ought to have a bunch of friends with him and following him everywhere. He gave Longinus a smile, “So far it’s not too bad being stuck with you.” He said with a grin, “And I do have some good friends, but with them it’s more… in the evenings we spend time together. Parties and such, you know.” He added with a wink, sure that Longinus did know all about what young men did when they went out together in Rome. They continued to turn down more streets and then away from the main streets of Rome until they reached a door that did not look impressive. Oh Marcus was definitely curious now!

He looked surprised when the door was opened by a huge man, who seemed like the type who’d not think twice about beating you up if you lacked good excuses to be there. But Longinus knew him and then the man stepped aside and Marcus quietly and curiously followed Longinus inside. The smells were already quite interesting and familiar, but he had never been here before. It wasn’t too bad at all to be stuck with Longinus it seemed! And when they reached the final room, his eyes and senses were suddenly busy with watching and listening to everything. Gods this place was amazing! His eyes easily fell on some of the girls that were barely dressed and he couldn’t help but smile.

“It… it is… unexpected but not bad at all!” He said with a grin to his companion, clearly very excited, “I didn’t know there were such places in Rome! Damn…” Marcus continued while a barely dressed girl walked past him close enough for him to smell her perfume and her hand trailed over his arm before she disappeared somewhere behind him. Alluring! Tempting!

“Are we just here to get a drink… or…?” He looked up at Longinus, wondering what his thoughts and plans were with bringing Marcus in here. If he was left here alone, he could easily find something to do, he was sure of it. But he was here with Longinus.

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Longinus chuckled at Marcus' grin and widened eyes. He'd join the place, imaginatively named the occulta jucunda after his return from Britannia in 72. It provided a haven away from the arguments with his wife, and was always an impressive spectacle for clients he needed to treat, or for friends lost and and bored with the poppina's of the city. "It costs an arm and a leg," He explained as Marcus was suitably distracted by a beautiful woman gliding past him, "And you have to be referred by a present member but it's worth it." 

Marcus' next question had Longinus laughing out loud and he shook his head, "Just a drink, young Marcus. It's not a brothel." He indicated to a few of the women sat lounging around with clients as they drew up to a table, "Half of them aren't working girls and those that are..." are well out of your price range young man, "Will take you for every last bit of gold you're worth, as far as I'm aware." Of course - if asked - all of the girls would simply say they were waitresses given that this place was most certainly not licensed as a brothel. 

He ordered wine and took a seat, glancing around. There was the usual mix of senators he vaguely recognised from the Curia, equites he recognised from various of his friends patronages and a whole other eclectic group of people; gang members probably, or artiste's. He smirked and took a sip of the excruciatingly expensive wine. Gods he hoped Marcus' father wasn't cursing him from the afterlife for bringing his son somewhere like this. "Where do you stay then," He took a sip and set down the cup, "when you're in the city? Or do I dare not ask?" He chuckled.

 

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Longinus chuckled at Marcus’ surprise at this place, but it was clearly a good surprise. He loved it already; the secrecy, the look of the place, the fact that Longinus knew it and the girls scattered in the room. How could he not enjoy the look of that? Longinus explained it was expensive to come here and you had to be referred by a present member. Well Marcus was referred now by a present member, but… he had little wealth, thanks to his brother. Not that it was something he bragged about or talked about at all. It was embarrassing and he came from a good family. It was shameful that he now had to live off Juliana’s wealth and that of her new family. But just because of that, didn’t mean he didn’t enjoy the life he did live at the moment. He did. And he did all he could to make the most of it.

Of course he wondered what they were here for, with the girls around and especially when one of them brushed very close past him, but Longinus said it was not a brothel. No? Could have fooled Marcus! The older man explained how half of the girls weren’t whores and the other half expensive. And well, he had little coin of his own. But if they were not working girls, what were they then? Noble ladies undressed? He smiled by the thought, it was so forbidden that he was almost itching to find out about this.

“I see. Well… I better not be too tempted then, since I’m not worth that much gold after all.” He said and followed Longinus when the other took a seat. Wine appeared in front of them and Marcus picked up his too, while Longinus asked where he was staying.

“It depends… sometimes I go with Juliana and her new family and then we stay at their domus in the city. Sometimes I stay at the palace, like now.” He said with a smile, pretending to not be sad about not having his own place. But one day he would have. He would get it all back, somehow, regain his wealth and marry someone good and have good looking slaves. That was in the future though and he sipped his own wine – which wasn’t bad at all – and looked at Longinus, “Why do you ask?” Maybe it was a good thing to know Longinus better, he thought. This trip today certainly wasn’t off.

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Longinus grinned, but regretted mentioning the cost of joining and the expense of the women. He knew Marcus' brother well - very well - Lucius had been his Tribune for a number of years, and he equally knew all about the details of what had happened with the family domus and finances. Hell, he'd been the one to visit Lucius in the tullianum after all. If they did have a magical pot of gold buried somewhere, he very much doubted it would be to spend on pricey whores and elite members only clubs. 

He smiled and said nothing though, until asked. "Ah, call it brotherly concern," He chuckled, "I'm sure your brother," Or father"Would kill me if I didn't ask and check you're not spending your nights in the city at the Venus or in the bed of some married matron." He grinned and shook his head. He'd done plenty of utterly foolish things when he was a younger man; his twenty year old illegitimate son Pelias was an obvious example of that, but he'd slowly screwed his head on and matured. He doubted his friends would see it that way, but had they known Longinus in his teenage  years they would have been shocked at his growth. 

"You've never been tempted to go a bit further afield though?" He asked as he sipped his wine, "Doesn't Tuscus' daughter live with Flavia? Ca...Caecina?" He knew the name, she had been on Titus' eligible ladies list, "You could always try and wrangle a trip to Britannia, or go to Greece to see Lucius. You'll not have the time to do it when you're older unless you're posted somewhere lovely and exotic." 

 

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He was somehow sure that Longinus knew all about what happened with his brother, when he burnt the house down and lost everything… or at least most of it. Longinus didn’t talk more about it and suddenly Marcus wondered why he was so quiet when it came to talking about Lucius and what happened there. Maybe he should ask him properly sometime. Maybe Longinus would tell him more than Lucius had. Right now however, they were in this very interesting club and although the other had made sure to let Marcus know he couldn’t afford the girls here, it didn’t cost anything to look at them.

Longinus had then asked where Marcus stayed in Rome, and he explained it and wondered why Longinus would ask. His companion called it brotherly concern and said he ought to check that Marcus was spending his nights well enough. He stared into his cup of wine for a moment when Longinus mentioned the Domus Venus – he had been there and done that, it was where one of his friends took him to make sure Marcus was introduced properly to women. But best not tell Longinus that, then!  

“I spend my nights however I please… and really it’s more Juliana who would be concerned, I think.” He added with a grin, knowing that Juliana would not like Marcus coming here either. But Marcus liked it. A lot. Longinus then suggested Marcus ought to travel somewhere and for some reason he mentioned Caecina, before saying that he could also go to Britannia or Greece.

“Caecina Tusca is like a sister to me.” He said, because that was a fact. He enjoyed her company very much and she enjoyed his too, but really… she was like a sister to him, or so he told himself, not knowing his perception of her might change very soon, “I suppose you’re right, that I ought to travel now. But then I’d have to leave Rome. And this place. I’d be very sad to leave it all behind.” Marcus said, gesturing to the place they sat at. Besides, he didn’t have a lot of coin, so how would he travel? Rome was fine. Gods those girls were good looking. He sipped his wine again.

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He grinned, "Ah yes...I'm sure she'd be delighted to know the sort of establishment I've brought you to." He chuckled and ran a hand along his jaw, "But...better not mention it just in case." He'd liked Juliana when he'd known her in Britannia, they had been of similar age which seemed ludicrous at the time because he had always seen her as so much more mature and worthy of respect. He supposed that came with the fact she was married to a man like Decimus. Such respect endured even now, after it had been years since he'd spoken to her properly, and that respect equally gave him the fear. He could just imagine her face knowing he'd brought her step-son here!

Longinus arched a brow at his reticence, so very different to his own youth. He'd enjoyed the parties and the girls (and men) as much as any teenager but he'd also been itching for escape. Maybe it had been different for him; he'd been an only child and thus his parents had been supremely overbearing, which was very much the opposite of poor Marcus. 

"There's plenty of places like this in the nicer provinces," He said with a grin, "Greece, Aegyptus, Africa Proconsularis...plenty of good looking girls and fun to be had." But also new places to explore, new friends to be forged and new glory to be found - at least when he was older. Longinus was not an exceptionally well-travelled man, not compared to some of his friends (he half suspected Aulus was trying to tick every province of the empire off on a map), but he'd been through enough of it on his land-routes to Britannia when the seas had forced them to decamp. Plus, there had been the trips to Hispania and Greece when he was a teenager with his family. 

He sipped his wine and ordered another round in for them both. "Go on then," He said with a grin, "Indulge me. What do you love so much about this city?" He still missed Britannia, which he knew was a cause for curiosity amongst his family and friends. He'd never much felt at home in cities; the crowds did his head in, and the constant smells and people weren't much better.

 

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Marcus chuckled at Longinus’ comments about Juliana, “Just in case.” He said with a wink, he’d most definitely not mention this to her. But it was really nice, to just run into Longinus like that and then the older man showed him this place. Marcus would not forget about it anytime soon and he’d have to find a way to come back here. Looking around, he saw people he thought he’d seen at other social events, Senators and the like and it would be good to get to know them in a more casual manner. After all, he had plans for his life, no matter how his brother had tried to ruin it lately. Marcus would rebuild, once he got the opportunity.

Longinus advised that Marcus should travel while he still had the time and was young, but then he would be forced to leave Rome and he didn’t really want to. Longinus however said there were places like this elsewhere, in provinces like Greece and Aegyptus. He had been in Africa before, he vaguely remembered it, but he did have memories. He had more memories of Africa than Britannia, which he left while he was still very young. Africa was… sand and dark-skinned children to play with and sweet foods, like dates. And camels! He smiled by the memory.

“I’m sure the whole world has plenty of fun.” He said with a smile to Longinus, who then wanted to know why Marcus loved Rome… “Well… there’s so much going on here, all the time. Day and night. You’re never bored in Rome and if you are, all you have to do is seek out the fun. Plus this is the center of power in the Empire. And one day… I’m going that way. I want to be someone, you know. Not just a back-bencher in the Senate, I want more than that.” He explained, sounding quite passionate about that project, “How is it like, in the Senate? Do you stand up and speak?”

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Longinus grinned at the optimism in the boy's words. He was more than positive he'd eventually find that real life - as a fully fledged man on the cursus honurum was filled with drudgery and disappointment, even for an optimist like Longinus. But he wasn't about to shatter the facade and explain that right now. He did have to chuckle at the 'back-bencher' bit though, given that was exactly what he was. 

"Sometimes," He admitted with a shrug, "But not hugely often. My expertise is warfare which, of course, we're not too focused on right now." There were minor skirmishes across the empire and of course legions were scattered all over the shot, but it wasn't like it used to be and there was no great offensive or invasion to plan which is where Longinus came into his own. "And I'm not one for mindless great speeches about the value of tax reform." He rolled his eyes, as if finding even the memory of the latest senate meeting beyond dull. "Besides," He went on, "Factionalism is a ball ache." His ties to the Defensores had been strong in his youth, but years away from the empire's edges had made him turn inward to look at the problems at home - not that he completely aligned with the Publici or Moderati either. 

His passion was evident though, and intriguing. "Where do you see yourself in the future then?" He asked, genuinely interested, "Consul? Proconsul?" 

 

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Marcus had his whole life ahead of him and while his brother had ruined something, he was determined to make his late father and family proud and rise to glory once more, somehow. He didn’t quite know how it would happen, but he knew that he would begin the cursus honorum next year and then he would learn and climb. Next year. Not right now. Still though, he was curious and Longinus here could maybe be helpful towards his goals.

So he asked Longinus about the Senate and he said he rarely stood up and spoke and warfare wasn’t the most important thing now… and that’s what he knew about. Marcus nodded. Then Longinus mentioned the factions in the Senate. Marcus knew about them, but he didn’t know yet what he thought about them. He knew his father had almost definitely a defender and there was some logic to that… building the Roman Empire and making it grander than it already was. On the other hand, those who stood for the people of Rome were interesting too and he did have an interest in making life good for everyone here. Marcus was young, but not stupid. And he had ambitions.

“I can imagine it is.” Marcus simply replied and continued sipping his drink, until Longinus wondered what he wanted in the future.

“Consul would be interesting, but I can also imagine it is quite the burden. I think though… that somehow, that is the right direction, at least. I know the princes quite well. And I hope to remain friends with them when we grow older.” So that he could become someone important. Of course they were not just friends because of that, but because he liked them. Together, they could achieve great things in the future.

“How about you then? Do you plan on staying in Rome?” He had to admit be barely knew anything about Longinus. He didn’t even know if the man had a wife or a mistress or what.

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Longinus was impressed. The lad had evidently done work to cultivate a relationship with the Imperials - something Longinus, himself, had not done. Whilst his closest friends seemed to have an innate ability to get on Quintus' good side whether through service or their offered allegiance his duties in Britannia had meant he was largely removed from that circle. Of course he wasn't out in the cold; he'd been reappointed by Caesar as legate twice (the first after he'd unofficially been in the post after poor Marcus' father's death) and the second when he chose to seek out another opportunity. Nonetheless, he couldn't say he knew the man well, nor his family. 

He nodded; "It's a good idea to," He agreed, "You never know what'll happen or whether a good word from one of 'em will lead to glory." He hated the fact that the world seemed to work purely because of who one was friends with rather than any actual skill (he'd had his fair share of important, but absolutely useless Tribunes as a testament to that) but he sighed, it was just the way things were. 

At the question he grinned; "I think so, for the time being." He sipped his wine, "I was in Britannia for thirteen? Fourteen years maybe, all in." Gods it was a lifetime"So I could do with shaking the chill from my bones. I'm looking to run for a Praetorship as it goes," Not that administration was his forte, but needs must to get him to a position where he could take up a Propraetorship, "And I'm getting married beginning of next month." His grin widened at the thought. "June the 1st, you free? The more the merrier!" 

 

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Well Marcus did try his very best to make the most out of life and especially his youth. He knew how older Senators were often like and he knew he had to enjoy life while he could. But when he was not out partying or spending time with various flings and having fun, he did his best to pay attention whenever he had lessons in something and he did want to learn about all sorts of important, political matters. His father had been a great man and Marcus wanted to honor him, even though he barely knew the man. And the best way to honor your father in Rome, that was to gain wealth and glory, right? So he was glad that he made friends with the Imperial children at such a young age and hoped the relationship with them would last.

Longinus thought that was a good idea, because that could indeed be the path to glory. Marcus smiled when Longinus said that, “I hope so.” He replied cheerfully and downed the rest of his cup of wine. Think that it emptied so fast! Not that he hadn’t done that before.

Next he wondered if Longinus planned on staying in Rome and the older man spoke about how long he’d been in Britannia for and that he might stay here and become a Praetor. Marcus nodded, he might go that way too, he thought he might be a good judge someday. He was used to being out and about in Rome and listening to gossip and he liked making decisions. Then Longinus sprung something completely different on him – he was getting married!

“You’re getting married again? Wow! I mean… congratulations!” Marcus said with a smile, now he needed a refill of his wine so they could toast, “Is it someone I’d know? Of course I’ll come, if you invite me. We go way back, after all.” He said with a grin to Longinus. Of course he would come to a wedding and especially Longinus’ and especially if there was a party afterwards. Plus it would be a great opportunity to meet other important people in Rome.

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Longinus beamed a grin and rubbed a hand awkwardly on the back of his neck. People were going to find out at some point, it might as well be today. Even if the whole thing seemed as surprising to him as it did to young Marcus. 

"I am, I am, 1st of June." He repeated and then his grin settled into a gentle smile. "Sestia Vaticana, she's the daughter of the Proconsul of Africa." He nodded. He didn't particularly enjoy talking about the woman he was about to dedicate his life to in terms of her breeding credentials, but that was largely all anybody understood in Rome. He added, for his own conscience; "She's the perfect woman, I'm lucky." Beauty, wits, charm and charisma. What more did one need in a partner? Probably the agreement of her father, you idiot. 

He chuckled at the lads enthusiasm and sipped his wine, "Of course - the more the merrier, I'll get Vitus to send an invite to Flavia's place. It'll be smaller than my first wedding though, mind." That had been a claustrophobic affair and one he was intent not to repeat. Now he was older and out of the shadow of his parents, as was Sestia, he was determined this should be a day he would enjoy - not just his mother. He added, upon thinking about it; "Here's a top tip for you though Marcus, don't get married young." He finished his drink.

 

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Marcus caught the eyes of someone who seemed to be a servant or slave of this place and pointed at his empty cup – and they went off, hopefully to find more wine for Marcus. Meanwhile, Longinus seemed oddly awkward for an adult marrying someone. That surprised him a bit. The older man rubbed the back of his neck and grinned, before explaining the date and whom he was marrying. Marcus didn’t know the name, but if she was perfect to Longinus, well that was good enough then, wasn’t it?

“It sounds like it. I don’t know her though. But I suspect I will.” He said with a grin to Marcus, while the servant returned to refill Marcus’ cup. And Longinus wanted him to come and promised he would send an invitation. Longinus’ first wedding? He barely remembered that, he must have been very young when that happened. Longinus then said Marcus should not marry young and Marcus chuckled at that comment.

“I don’t plan to. I need to do a few things first, I think. Like actually have a home for my family to live in… and money.” He added with a little laugh, he did need both of those things. It always came back to that, didn’t it? That he had no home or real wealth of his own at the moment, “But you have all that, so you can do whatever you please. Is she beautiful? She must be, to have made an impression on a man like you.” There was a playful glimpse in his eyes while he took a sip of the wine he just got.

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