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Longinus finally plucked up a morsel of bread and began eating, although he was sorely tempted not to - just to watch his friend wither away from hunger. As their conversation lightened he couldn't even be bothered to feign interest and instead kept his eyes on the bread which he turned in his fingers between bites. 

"Cynane." He commented blandly, "The one with three cocks. She was one of mine." He threw down the bread, not hungry but waved an absent hand at Titus that he should continue eating if he so chose, "I saw her not too long ago actually, fuming she was, I thought she'd run me through with her gladius." He smirked a bit at the memory but couldn't muster up much more than that. He felt oddly...hollow now the anger of seeing Titus began to dissipate. It felt as if there was a hole in his chest and it ached. But men, certainly not of their station, didn't discuss such things and he'd already embarrassed himself enough this evening. 

He tried to stir conversation although it came out fairly dispassionate; "Don't you usually go down to Napoli at this time of year? I thought you'd already be down there, sunning yourself on a beach and throwing up over the side of a yacht." He smirked. The day he found out about Titus' proclivity for seasickness, it had been an excellent day. Off the top of his head he couldn't remember who told him. Aulus, maybe? Or the man himself, in one of their happier, more drunken times? He sipped his wine.

 

TAG: @Liv @Sharpie

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He could sense Titus' dislike of the silence and it made him smile a little more. That Attis was silent was disconcerting, but then he supposed he never really paid attention to his body slave when in

Attis closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. Sulpicius Rufus was concerned for his friend, and rightly so. Attis was likewise concerned for his master. He had never known Cassius Longinus

"An excellent choice," Titus agreed, inwardly thanking whatever deity had inspired Longinus to make it. Few things sounded as unappetising at that moment than ending up covered in a layer of sweat mix

Attis had a look about him as though he wanted to say something but was trying hard not to. And it didn't seem like it was only about the less-than-impressive food. "Is there anything of interest I might have forgotten to mention, Attis?" Titus raised an eyebrow in seemingly polite inquiry, feeling quite certain that there was more juicy gossip to be shared. Slaves had access to a wealth of information that many owners did not even suspect existed.

Finally given permission, he dug in with cautious gusto, dipping a piece of bread into the brownish porridge and giving it a discreet sniff before shoving it into his mouth. Cabbage, broad beans and other mysterious ingredients: uninspired, but fully edible. As he chewed Titus listened to Longinus' short and not at all funny story about the famed gladiatrix, disappointed at its lack of a climax. "Did you two part on bad terms? And more importantly, does she have three cocks or not?" Probably not, but still worth checking - although Longinus' short-lived smirk did not promise further entertainment.

"In a few days. I like to give Quintus and Cornelia some time to themselves first." Not that he had ever felt like he and his were imposing on his brother and sister-in-law, but a decent guest should know not to wear out their welcome. And there was also the matter of Nymphias and her slave sister at praetor Varus' house, which Titus had been procrastinating on but really should do something about. "Somebody's got to help Neptune feed all his fish when the sea's so big," Titus stated mirthlessly between bites, avoiding eye contact on purpose. He was not proud of it, but just this once, he would let Longinus have a laugh at his expense, if that was what it took to cheer his friend up a little.

That, however, did not necessarily mean Titus wanted to linger on the subject; taking a long sip of his wine to wash down the meal, he changed topic to a more agreeable one. "What do you do in the summer? Don't like Naples or Baiae?"

@Sharpie @Sara

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"I don't think so, sir," Attis replied levelly to Sulpicius Rufus' question. He'd never cared about slaves' gossip before in Attis' hearing and Attis had no intention of enlightening either citizen to some of the things he'd seen. Like how the two of them and Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus, the senator with the impossibly long name, liked to jerk one another off. Anyway, why in the world should either of them want to hear slaves' gossip - Attis was not the sort to indulge in it and they both ought to know that.

Indulging in gossip was one thing, and sharing it with people of the class being mocked was another entirely. Attis had seen some amazing graffiti, including a couple of very racy portraits of some high-ranking people doing unmentionable things, but it was more than Attis' skin was worth to divulge any of it - share gossip with your master and he'll be forever wondering what you're sharing about him to someone else, after all.

He assumed the look of a slave who knew when to be deaf to anything but a direct question addressed to him by name, because surely they'd want to have a proper conversation without a slave's commentary - or maybe they didn't, maybe they wanted the slave's interjections to stop them from trying to tear one another's throats out, or attempting to drink one another under the table. Attis wasn't going to interfere in anything other than an all-out brawl (and then only if looked like Longinus might come of worst); they needed something to clear the air and even the bath hadn't seemed to have helped much.

 

@Sara @Liv

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Longinus snorted at the 'give them time to themselves first'. He only arched a brow. He had heard plenty about the particular...appetites of Titus' brother and his wife. Which amused him, in happier days, no end given his friend was perhaps the most celibate and grumpy man he'd met in his life.

He shrugged his shoulders at the question. "Naples, there's a villa I rent...or used to. When Antonia was alive. She liked to nag me that our family villa was too far away from civility, as if Formiae is in the back of beyond." He snorted and shook his head fondly at the memory. He hadn't thought of her in a little while and the memory of that particular argument felt like a twist of his already knotted gut. He shrugged his shoulders, "I had planned to be in Greece with my new bride on a tour of the sites, but...that doesn't look like it's happening anymore, does it?" He scoffed in his morose sort of way and took another long sip of his wine. In truth, maybe he'd still go? Perhaps it'd be good to get away a little, get some space, some perspective? Maybe it was the wine, loosening his tongue and flipped around to glance at Attis with a sardonic smile before glancing back at Titus. "Maybe I'll just take Attis. Do a Romantic tour for the two of us instead." 

 

TAG: @Liv @Sharpie

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The one time it would have been desirable for Attis to run his tongue, the slave stayed silent as tomb. Of course. Titus rolled his eyes and ate on, noticing belatedly how hungry the trip had made him despite the bland fare. Good thing he hadn't indulged in too much drinking before the meal, as one of them at least needed to keep his wits about him. Drinking on a full stomach was more pleasant anyway.

The little snort went unresponded to, since Longinus wisely chose not to follow it up with some idiotic comment insulting Titus' family honour and thus saved himself from a bowlful of stew to the face. As if dozens of others in their circles did not do the same or worst! He wiped his mouth and took a sip of wine, listening to his friend's recollections. It was unexpected that the late Antonia should be brought up, yet also not; over the last weeks Longinus had probably been doing a lot of reminiscing and cursing his luck - one wife dead, another as good as that and across the sea... The next one would probably end up killed in a freak accident or something like that. Titus refrained from commenting on the deceased, instead voicing his opinion on location. "It's certainly quieter and less crowded here," he conceded, though the sea views could hardly compare: it was like likening a cat to a lion.

"I don't see why not. You can always trade him for a newer Greek model if you come across a good one," Titus teased lightly, casting Attis a quick, mocking glance. He could have also noted the slave's unlikelihood to run away or get pregnant, but it felt like too much too soon. The rest of Longinus' musings, on the other hand, were a deal more serious, and Titus put down his piece of bread. "Is that what you're thinking of doing? Getting away? As in... a new posting?"

@Sharpie @Sara

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"A tour of Greece sounds nice, domine," Attis said, though it would probably be a tour of Greek drinking dens rather than the various tourist sites if his master didn't snap out of this morose mood.

And Sulpicius Rufus was needling him again. It was pretty pathetic, really, that the man felt so insecure that he had to jab at a slave just to make himself feel like a real man. 

It didn't help that what he said was perfectly true: Cassius Longinus was absolutely within his rights to sell Attis for any reason - or no reason at all. And after Attis' time away, he'd know that he could get on perfectly well without his body slave.

Which meant that Attis would have to prove all over again that he'd be worth keeping, as if he were brand new to the household.

Thank Jupiter for the change of subject, and screw the pair of them, lounging on their couches like... like... Attis couldn't come up with an apt simile and went for wine jug, neatly elbowing the other serving slave out of the way so he could top the men's cups up.

 

@Sara @Liv

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Longinus smirked at Attis' approval. Maybe it would do him good to get out of Italia for a little while? It hadn't felt like home, not properly, not since he had been coming and going so frequently for the last fifteen years. "You should ask Vitus to pull together an itinerary when we get back to Rome, I'm pretty sure he visited with my father." And may have even been of Greek extraction himself, Longinus had never bothered to ask. 

He ignored the man refilling his cup and flicked his eyes up at Titus' stuttered question, watching as the man put down his food - suddenly full of gravitas. He merely shrugged limply after another heartbeat of silence, "I've been considering it." Not seriously, of course, but he had - in his darker moods - just wished to write to Caesar and ask for a posting somewhere far, far away. His daughter would undoubtedly be upset but given his absence thus far in her life, he was more than sure she'd get over it. Plenty of girls didn't have fathers at all - and he'd send letters. "Judea, maybe. I've heard things are going a bit far south. Or one of the border provinces, maybe." He shrugged again and sipped his wine morosely. He didn't consider how the news must sound to Attis, knowing that he'd be going with wherever Longinus chose to go, with absolutely no choice in the matter. "At this rate I'll not be a Praetor until I'm fifty, and why waste my youth doing paperwork and not in war, which I am actually good at." He narrowed his eyes again on Titus, sounding bitter and sarcastic, "Why? You'll miss me?" 

 

TAG: @Liv @Sharpie

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It was nice of Attis to refill their cups, if nothing else. Maybe he was secretly looking forward to that tour; the gods knew what awaited if the slave got to exercise that unruly tongue of his with some bona fide Greek philosophers. But that would be something for his master to worry about, not Titus. What he could worry about was how sincere Longinus really was in his musings. Titus didn't doubt there was sincere desire for it at the bottom of things, but he couldn't help but wonder how many of those thoughts had been borne out of the recent happenings. Out of sight, out of mind - and Judaea was a good deal farther from Carthage than Rome.

"At the risk of shocking you, Longinus, I will," he replied unabashedly. Good friends were not easy to make, let alone keep. Good friends he could tease mercilessly and discuss just about anything (well, almost) with were even rarer. Titus raised his cup in a toast. "Here's to the man who got me a decent gardener and broke his fingers trying to fight me." The mirth in his tone was obvious, but there was genuine appreciation in it too. "While I'm of the opinion that moping here for a month won't help your case for the praetorship, I understand your yearning for more action." By Mars, how he understood it! But wants and needs did not always overlap, and a man governed by his wants was no different from an animal.

He sipped at his wine, pondering the merits of the eastern provinces. "There's never any shortage of trouble in Judea, that's for sure. As if their tribal issues weren't enough, rumour has it that weird cult is still on the rise," he muttered between sips before putting on his best smirk . "It's also hot and dry. Are you sure you're ready for that after half a lifetime in Britannia?"

@Sharpie @Sara

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