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Mid-July, 75 AD

It had been a few weeks since the earthquake that shattered Rome, although he had heard that other parts of the nearby country had been hit far worse than the city. Still there was rubble here and there and some buildings, that had been too old or too badly built, had crumbled. Luckily not the little insula he shared with his son! Lexus had been fine the day after, it seemed, although a bit shaken. Alexius hadn’t even been at home when it hit, he’d been at the ludus with an arm wrapped around the divine body that was Annis. As soon as he was able, he’d returned to his son and they had talked things through and went out to help where they could in the city.

Now that was a few weeks ago though and people had worked together to rebuild what was broken. Life went on in Rome, as it always had and always would in this eternal city. And he had returned to the ludus more than once to help out there too. Not today though; instead he went to visit one of his most familiar thermae, the one that was near the ludus and in the same region. The bath too had suffered some damage, but most of it was working once more and he thanked the gods for that.

He hadn’t thought much about what happened here so many weeks ago, when he met the handsome young Florus. They hadn’t met here, actually, but he had smiled at Florus for the first time and then caught him to share a drink. Sadly, after Alexius had dared to touch Florus’ hand, the youth more or less bolted out. He wasn’t very experienced and even still a virgin. Pity with that, Alexius would have loved to teach him a thing or two about pleasure. Luckily, there were plenty of fish in the water in Rome and Alexius wasn’t bored or unsatisfied.

Now he was back at the thermae, going through the less damaged baths and finished with a nice massage. After this he returned to the changing room and put his tunica back on – in the summer there was no reason to wear breeches, it was far too hot in Rome this time of the year. As he strapped the leather belt around his waist, another person entered the changing room from the baths and Alexius looked up at him briefly… and then looked again at the very handsome and very naked youth over there. What a sight to behold!

“Florus!” He exclaimed with a grin, recalling how they’d talked about drinking together again sometime, “How good to see you again.”

@Ejder

Edited by Atrice
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The baths were one of the few good things about Rome. Bathing in the river back in Britannia had been great, but the thermae here... It took bathing to another dimension. It wasn't the best for cooling off after a difficult day -nothing would beat the river then- but he'd never really felt cleaner than after a visit here. And, deny it though he might want, the view was sometimes very good. There'd been no gladiators in today, and also no Tranquillus, but it hadn't been a wasted visit. He'd gotten his weekly massage, and was now clean as a whistle.

He made his way to the changing rooms, less self-conscious about walking around naked when there weren't gladiators or a certain body slave to see him. He was still stark naked when someone called up to him. Startled, he looked up.

'A-Alexius,' Florus stammered, suddenly very busy with tying his towel around his waist. And also suddenly rather red. 'I, yes, very glad to see you.'

 

@Atrice

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Some of the other baths had been damaged a lot more than this, Alexius thought to himself. At least this was already functioning, the same could not be said for all of the others. He’d been at the ludus when the earthquake hit, but that was a few weeks ago now and luckily, the Romans were great at working together to rebuild. Many had tried this before or something like it at least. They knew what to do. And they had slaves to help them do the hardest work. Of course it wasn’t good with the slaves, but Rome would not function without them. Still Alexius was glad to be free.

Yet today he saw someone not free, but someone he’d befriended anyway. It was funny, how he still seemed to befriend slaves more often than free Romans, despite that it was now so many years ago he was freed. But he was still not considered a proper Roman by the Romans and he got along better with the foreign slaves. Like lovely Florus here, for example, stunning in all his naked glory. He hadn’t seen Alexius, it seemed and was startled when Alexius called his name.

The youth stammered and quickly tried to tie a towel around his waist, but he seemed almost flustered. Alexius couldn’t help himself, “Do you need help with that my friend?” He asked with a grin, he’d already dressed after all and the sight was amusing. If Florus was trying to cover himself now, what was the point? Alexius had already seen him… and everyone were naked in the baths. Everyone could see everything. So why cover now?

@Ejder

 

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Florus looked at Alexius in shock. 'I... no!' What kind of offer was that? He regretted tying the towel around his waist, now, because he was going to have to undo it all over again to tie his subligaculum. This was stupid. Sighing in frustration, he walked towards the bench he had left his clothes on, and took the towel off again, doing his best to pretend Alexius was not there. It worked for a moment, enough time for him to tie the loincloth. Grabbing his tunic, he put that on, too.

Now that this was done, he felt more on equal footing to talk to Alexius. It wasn't really fair, was it, when one of them was dressed, and the other stood nude under the first one's gaze? Even dressed, though, he felt naked while Alexius was looking at him. It was a very unsettling feeling. Florus was able to tell, now, why the presence of the other man made him flustered. It wasn't, as he'd initially thought, the steam in the baths, or the vapours of the wine. It was all rather much more simple than that. He now knew the effect attractive men had on him.

Cheeks still rosy, he was able to meet the other man's gaze. 'How have you been, Alexius?' He remembered the man's offer for more wine at an ulterior moment, but felt it rude to ask to be invited for drinks. Still, though, he wouldn't decline.

 

@Atrice

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Florus was so sweet, with how he so easly blushed and was surprised over simple words. Alexius had just been making fun with him and it was amusing to hear and see his reaction, when Alexius suggested helping out with the towel. He let out a little laugh at Florus' reaction and then gave the other some space. Florus finished up quickly then and only approached him after. Honestly Alexius did not see the problem in talking to someone naked, while the other wasn't. This was Rome and being naked was no big deal here. But then of course, Florus wasn't from here, originally. He didn't grow up with nudity being a normal and common especially at the baths.

At last though, he had put on his tunica and he looked up at Alexius with rosy cheeks, wondering how Alexius had been.

"I've been fine... bit busy lately, I've helped a lot with the clearing of roads and paths." Alexius explained. When you lived in Rome, you helped out. And while clearing roads and paths wasn't his usual job, he had the strength  to do it and why not? He lived here too, after all.

"What about you?" 

@Ejder

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Florus nodded. Talk about the earthquake was normal enough that his complexion returned to normal. Everyone had been affected by the earthquake. He knew his household had been relatively lucky. They deplored no deaths, apart from those of some trees, and nothing was too broken down that it couldn't be rebuilt. He'd been very busy in his gardens, and hadn't had time to worry about much else. This outing to the baths was the first in a long time, it felt.

'I've been busy clearing out my gardens. We lost the pomegranate tree, and two hydrangeas,' he scowled. Of course that might not interest Alexius, but that was Florus' universe, and it was his entire life. 'Things are slowly getting back to normal. You weren't injured, were you?' Florus eyed the man from head to toe, slowly, under the pretense of checking if he'd been wounded. Of course, though, he acknowledged he was also checking the view. Alexius was certainly good-looking. Gladiators...

 

@Atrice

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Florus seemed to relax a bit more as they talked about the aftermath of the earthquake and he said he’d been busy in his gardens. They had lost some trees, which he seemed quite upset about, but of course, he was a gardener… if Alexius had lost some of his work due to the earthquake, he might be upset too. Luckily though, he had actually just gotten more work, it was just different from what he usually had. Florus then said how things were getting back to normal and hoped Alexius was not injured. And then he looked Alexius over… checking for injuries or checking him out?

“I wasn’t injured, no… but I was at the ludus when it happened. Not everyone were as lucky. Some of the slaves were in locked cells…” He trailed off, he hadn’t really known them in person, but he wished he could have done more. Fucking Romans, locking people up… he knew it wasn’t a new habit, but these past few months had been really bad regarding all that. See, that was the kind of stuff that could get him riled up. His fists curled for a moment in anger, but he forced himself to relax. It wasn’t Florus he was angry with and he didn’t want to scare him.

“Do you want to go out for a drink with me… again?” He asked then, without hesitation, to think about something else. Wine would surely make him relax, right?

@Ejder

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'Oh,' Florus simply replied, his mouth a perfect circle. It felt trivial and insensitive, now, to be upset about his trees, when some people had lost their lives in the earthquake. Alexius hadn't said anything at all to make him feel bad, but still he felt like a selfish child for a second. His trees were important to him, of course, they were the only thing in his life. But at least he still had his life... It revolted him, that some slaves had been burried alived underneath the rubble and had lost their lives. They'd not been able to escape, because they'd been locked in their cells. Other slaves, he knew, might have been in chains. Briefly he thought about the potential death toll, and it made him both dizzy and angry. And to think he was in distress because of his trees! He ought to be thankful he had his life. Yes. He was.

'Bless the gods that you were in luck that night,' Florus finally replied. He was glad that the other man had survived. Glad that none of the people he knew had perished. Small comfort, but still. Alexius looked angry, and he wondered why, though not for long. If he used to be a slave, he was bound to be angry at the senseless loss of life that was entirely the Romans' fault.

Any offer that Alexius made him was bound to make the young gardener at least slightly pink, but he was still glad for it. Anyway, it wasn't as though Alexius was looking at him in the same way, right? It was perfectly innocent on his part. Right? He was allowed to go drink with an attractive man, fully conscious of his attractiveness, wasn't he? Attis had said it was alright. And he'd said it was normal for him to like Tranquillus. So it was alright also to go for a drink with a good-looking man, even if he had no further plans with him, surely?

'I'd like that,' Florus replied. He still didn't have any money, though. Hopefully it wouldn't anger Alexius.

 

@Atrice

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Together with two women he admired, Annis and Thessala, he’d worked hard to free the slaves from the locked up cells in the ludus. But the earthquake hit some places harder than others and some buildings were just too dangerous for such things. Not all the slaves in the locked cells had died, but they hadn’t survived either. Alexius felt bad for them. He hated the Romans for locking them up like that, even though he had of course tried the same, back when he was a gladiator. He remembered the first time he met Gaia, when he stood chained up in a room and she came in with her peaches… nothing had changed since then, it seemed. And that angered him.

Florus was happy that Alexius was lucky to survive and wasn’t injured and he nodded, “Yes… I were in luck. Fortuna be blessed.” He added, glancing quickly upwards, as if she was looking down upon him… his favorite Roman goddess, the one who controlled luck and fortune. Ever on his side, or so it would seem.

He tried to distract himself from the sudden flow of anger though, by asking Florus out for drinks. Or a drink, but he expected drinks, or at least he hoped so. Hopefully Florus wouldn’t dart out like last time. And Florus accepted!

“Good… that’s good. Same place as last time, or should we explore a different tavern?” He asked with a smile, not considering money just yet. He just wanted a drink so he could relax and Florus was not bad or ugly company at all, quite the opposite in fact. He gestured for Florus to come with him, wondering if he should ask why Florus excused himself so suddenly last time… or should he leave it? Perhaps the youth would explain himself if Alexius pretended like nothing.

@Ejder

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Posted (edited)

Florus decided to stop looking at Alexius. The other man was probably going to notice it at some point, and he was likely to ask questions. And sure, Attis had said that men could like other men, which the gardener now knew to be true, but he knew it couldn't possibly be all men. And besides, he didn't like Alexius like that. He didn't know Alexius at all. All he knew was that he was a free man, a former gladiator, and a man who was embarrassingly good-looking in the baths. And in general. He really did have to stop staring.

'I don't mind, but I have to let you know that I still don't have any money on me. Apologies,' he said sheepishly.

 

@Atrice

Edited by Ejder
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It was hard to not notice Florus staring at him all the time, he thought, while they left the thermae to find their tavern from last time. Florus once more said he had no money to pay with and Alexius clapped his back, "It's on me, again, then. Not that it matters, I'd probably have that jar of wine with or without you. So nothing's lost." He added with a smile to the youth. They came out onto the busier street once more and walked a bit in silence, while Alexius considered how to approach the subejct of Florus being quite busy with checking him out, even after he left so suddenly last time. Perhaps he should not just pretend like nothing. Florus seemed a bit shy and maybe he'd not say anything unless asked. So he just should.

"You left me rather suddenly there, last time... do you mind if I ask why?" He said, looking at Florus, appearing a little bit worried. Maybe he'd been too hard on the youth, been a little bit too forwards, but who in their right minds would want to keep their hands off such a good looking young man, who gave them such attention and blushed at your words? Alexius certainly couldnt't! He hoped Florus wouldn't dart away now he asked about it.

@Ejder

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Florus gave a nervous little laugh when Alexius clapped him on the back and told him not to worry. Alexius was nice, but wasn't it rude to just use a friend to acquire drinks? It felt dishonest somehow. Still, though, the former gladiator was playing it off in good humour, so surely it was alright of Florus to accept? He wasn't coming off as someone who was disappointed in the gardener's inability to pay, so it must be fine. 'If you're sure,' he said.

Alexius' next question had Florus looking at his feet instead of at the other man. 'I... apologies. I suddenly remembered that I was needed at the villa,' Florus lied, a fact that was made obvious by his beet red cheeks. 'Apologies. It was rude behaviour.'

 

@Atrice

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Alexius did not feel used - he liked Florus and why should he not share his drink with someone he liked? Especially someone as easy on the eyes as Florus, and so sweet too, he was like honey. Alexius had not forgotten how often Florus blushed last time, nor their conversation about his rudis or what they were discussing at that point. Maybe it was not the rudis? The image of Florus holding it and feeling it was certainly not forgotten either! Florus accepted that Alexius would pay for the drinks and Alexius nodded, "I am sure." He just confirmed and after walking a little bit more, he dared to ask why Florus had left so suddenly last time. Florus looked at his feet, like some poor little dog that got scolded and that was not his intention! 

"Hey..." Alexius said, now feeling bad that he even asked and he had to mend this. He stopped walking, putting a gently hand on Florus' shoulder to stop him too, "You don't have to act like that with me. I'm not your Dominus and I won't flog you for leaving me like that." He said with a little smile, hoping to cheer up Florus once more, "And I accept your apology. I was just a bit surprised, that's all, because we were having such a good time." Alexius added and then gestured that they could walk again, "Maybe we can make up for the sudden stop now. How about that?" He didn't want Florus to think ill of him, just because he had asked why Florus left. He hoped that would not be the case.

@Ejder

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Florus didn't know whether Alexius' hand on his shoulder was comforting or disconcerting. A bit of both, maybe. Certainly it did nothing to alleviate his redness. At least the former gladiator had bought his lie about needing to bolt. In truth, Florus had become entirely too flustered to continue interacting with the other man, and he'd needed to dash before he did something stupid. His body had certainly betrayed him that day. As it tended to do when Tranquillus was around and within touching distance. By the gods, how had he not figured all of this out ages ago? He definetely wasn't the smartest man.

'We did have a good time,' Florus confirmed. Especially since Alexius hadn't at all noticed how incredibly awkward the gardener was being. And hopefully he wouldn't notice this time either, though frankly the gawking, whether conscious or unconscious, might end up giving him away. But Alexius probably hadn't been told that men like Florus existed, so it was alright, he just needed to be discrete. 'I think I might acquire a taste for wine,' he said, falling into step with Alexius.

 

@Atrice

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Alexius was trying to comfort the young man and slave, he didn't want to make him feel bad. In fact, all Alexius wanted was to feel good and make others feel the same. That went for lovely Florus here too. Maybe Florus didn't speak the entire truth, but it didn't matter. Alexius wasn't about to hold a grudge towards someone so attractive and instead, they were moving on, as Florus agreed they had been having a good time last time. Alexius nodded with a smile, glad to have that confirmed and saw the tavern up in front of them. Florus said he could acquire a taste for wine.

"It's easy to acquire a taste for wine. I did, a long time ago." He said with a chuckle and b for Florus to enter the place first, before he'd follow. Florus had nice legs too, he thought. They looked strong. If he was not a gardener, he would have made a fine gladiator. But maybe that was for the best, he could not imagine Florus killing someone and didn't like the thought of anyone killing Florus! 

Alexius spied a free table, "So... what shall our topic of conversation be today? I have not forgotten how you admired my rudis." He said with a wink to the youth as he sat down, waiting for someone to come over with a jar of wine.

@Ejder

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'I don't have much occasion to drink,' Florus said. There was wine that the slaves drank, of course, but he tended to keep to water. Working in the heat, it just seemed wiser. He drank as much water as he could, because it was easy to feel faint under the harsh Roman sun. Even in Britannia, they'd drank a lot of water while they were working in the fields. Heat stroke was a very real thing, and with the weather here being so much worse than back home, he was not going to tempt the Fates.

They sat at a table, and the young gardener looked around, so as to be sure no one was listening in. No one seemed to be. 'Don't tell anyone, but I think I am making some sort of wine in the shed at the villa,' he said. 'I stored some old plums in a barrel of water, and I think they fermented...' It was only half accidental. He was more or less aware of how alcohol was made, and he'd mostly just been curious. It wasn't as though those plums were good enough for the Roman, anyway.

A very slight pink coloured Florus' cheeks at the mention of the other man's rudis. He remembered it too, and more than anything else, he remembered how it had troubled him, and how much he had been thinking of, well, something very different while handling it. Pressing his lips together, he looked down at the table. 'I'm afraid I don't make for a great conversationalist.'

 

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Florus said he did not have much occasion to drink usually and Alexius thought that was a pity. One should always have occasions to drink. The gods knew that Alexius found plenty! And here was another! They entered the tavern and sat down. Florus looked around as if he had something to hide, then told Alexius a secret… about making his own wine out of old plums. Alexius let out a little laugh, “Really?” He grinned, “I didn’t take you for the type to do such a thing. Careful you don’t get sick, I hear homemade stuff can do that to you.” Alexius added. The people who made the wine and ale and so on in large amounts, they knew what they were doing. They knew the process. And he wouldn’t want Florus to get sick.

Alexius had then wondered what else to talk about and mentioned his rudis and almost as expected, Florus blushed deeply and stared at the table, thinking he was not a great conversationalist.

“Don’t think like that. You did well last time. All you need is some of that.” His favorite barmaid was coming their way with two cups and a jar of wine. Alexius gave her a smile and she looked the pair over.

“Haven’t I seen you with him before?” She asked and Alexius nodded with a smile, “You have. But he had to go last time… hopefully this time he’ll stay longer. Can you stay longer, Florus?” The girl shook her head in an good-natured manner and left them alone once more.

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Posted (edited)

Florus nodded in agreement. He wasn't sure that he intended to drink the hooch at all. Alone? What good would that do? Drinking with someone else was out of the question, because what if he admitted to anyone else within the household that he had done such a thing? For starters, he didn't know any of them enough to drink with them. Well, there was Tranquillus, of course, but the gardener suspected he wasn't the type to indulge in such a thing. And then, there was also the fact he was certain this wasn't a thing the Roman would encourage if he came to know about it. It was a dumb thing to have done, really, when he knew the possible consequences, but it was done, and all that remained was to decide whether he wanted to drink it or not.

The barmaid had poured them a cup of wine each, and Florus nodded at her gratefully. 'Is it really me who is talking when I drink, or is it the wine?' He wondered. The wine had given him some rather interesting ideas, the other time. Or maybe it had been that the ideas were dormant within him, and the drink was simply waking them up?

'I will stay with you,' Florus said seriously, rubbing a spot on the surface of the table with his index finger. He looked up at Alexius, and held up his cup. It was customary for people to toast each other, but he didn't know what to toast to. As usual, he would let this other man take the lead. He wasn't versed in social niceties, so it was better that way.

 

@Atrice

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Florus had claimed he was not great with conversations, but Alexius thought he did well last time and firmly believed it was just a matter of drinking some wine first. Florus wondered if it was the wine or himself talking, when he drank and Alexius let out a little laugh, “I think it’s you. People tend to be more honest and open after they had a drink or two.” Alexius replied to the youth, he really still was fresh and sweet. Think that someone could be like that, even after spending several years in this city.

The barmaid recognized Florus and that he’d been here with Alexius before and Alexius wondered if Florus would stay longer. Florus promised to stay and Alexius smiled, happy to hear that. Then Florus held his cup, as if he wanted to drink, but didn’t. He seemed a bit uncertain, poor thing. He really needed that drink though.

“A toast then… to wine and what it makes us do.” He said with a grin and raised his cup too, smiling at Florus, before he downed a gulp of his own cup of wine. When he set it down again, he looked at the youth, “So, what have you been doing since last time? Busy cleaning up the house after the earthquake I imagine?”

@Ejder

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The corners of Florus' mouth curled upwards ever so slightly as Alexius said he wasn't too terrible at conversation. Now, did the gardener believe him? Maybe not, but all the same, it was nice to hear. He had spent most of his life trying to avoid interaction with people, so social skills weren't bound to just jump on him, just like that, at random. Maybe it was because he was so bad that Tranquillus couldn't ever see him. 'I will take a drink or two, then.' Or maybe more. However more it took to make things fun with Alexius. Not that he wasn't a pleasant man, but Florus' shyness in front of the attractive man did sort of get in the way.

Pursing his lips, he nodded to the toast, then drank a sip. Hopefully the wine didn't make him do too many foolish things. Not in front of Alexius.

'I've swept, once, but I'm a gardener, so I haven't done any household chores. There is enough to do in the gardens without needing to pile on more.' Briefly an image flashed before his eyes, of Alexius helping to clear out rubble. How was the other man dressed when he did that? Probably not the same way as in his mental image, which was to say, not at all. Pink lingered on Florus' cheeks. 'And yourself?' He downed his entire cup of wine in a gulp, hoping it would act quicker to make him less shy. 'Your tunic must get really dirty from all the dust,' he commented.

Wait, what?

 

@Atrice

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All Fancy Florus needed was a bit of wine, then he would be just fine at conversations, because honestly, he seemed a little bit nervous still. And Alexius didn’t want him to bolt out like last time – there were a lot of other things he’d like with Florus though. And seeing him smile was nice. Florus said he’d take a drink or two and Alexius nodded with a grin and had raised his cup to toast to wine and what it made you do. It made you do a whole lot of interesting things.

 Afterwards, he asked what Florus had been doing and he said he’d not been doing household chores, because there was enough to do in the gardens, “I can easily imagine that.” Alexius simply said, sipping his wine and Florus seemed distant for a moment and then, without Alexius even opening his mouth, Florus was blushing. What went on in that sweet mind of his? Wouldn’t he just love to know? Florus asked what Alexius had been doing and said his tunic must get dirty from working in the dust.

 “Oh it does. Everything does… that’s just another good reason to visit the baths so often.” Alexius said with a smile and thought that Florus must be needing baths too, with his job. Well he had been at the baths today and what a handsome body he has… “Working outside in the summer heat of Rome must get you all sweaty too, I can imagine.”

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Florus contemplated his empty cup, somewhat surprised to find that draining it all meant there was nothing in it. He was still thirsty. Did the effects of wine increase, the more one drank? Maybe the first cup had an effect, and then it meant you were immune for the other cups. That would be good. Then again, in his village, a lot of men got drunk on ale and mead, and that took several cups. Most likely wine behaved the same. But he wasn't in the habit of drinking, so nothing would happen to him. Probably.

'I like the baths,' Florus admitted. They were possibly the only good thing the Romans had come up with. 'Getting clean is a nice feeling.' He peered inside his cup once more. Nope, still empty. Why did that surprise him? Was he allowed to pour himself some more, or would that be considered rude? He ought to wait for Alexius to decide. He was the one who was paying, after all.

'I get sweaty every day,' the gardener said. 'And dirty. I can't make it to the baths everyday, though, so I just scrub myself down.' He could picture Alexius scrubbing himself down, too. Way too easily. Wine really was an odd beverage. 'I fill an amphora with water in the morning and then I wash myself at night. Sometimes you really have to rub to get the dirt and sweat out.' He contemplated his fingernails, which had probably never been entirely clean in his entire life. No amount of scrubbing and rubbing changed that.

 

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You were definitely not immune to wine after your first cup – Alexius knew all about that. And while it took a lot to make a big man like him drunk (perhaps also because he did enjoy his drink often) other people who weren’t as experienced drinkers might get drunk sooner. Alexius had actually barely finished his first drink and had not yet seen that Florus had already finished his – usually he got there first!

 Florus said he liked the baths and liked getting clean. Alexius smiled, “That is a nice feeling, isn’t it? I like it too. And it’s also always a good chance to spot someone interesting while there.” He added with a wink to the younger man, whom he now noticed was looking into his cup. Alexius reached for the jar of wine on the table and instantly refilled it, as Florus didn’t seem ready to leave at all yet. Besides, he wouldn’t mind Florus getting a bit drunk. Not too much, just enough to be more approachable. He wouldn’t want Florus to forget about him, if they did anything.

 But they were discussing baths and how dirty you’d get in your work and Florus said he got sweaty every day and sometimes had to scrub and wash himself at night. Alexius downed his own cup and refilled it, thinking about the image of a naked Florus pouring an amphora of water over his body in the evening. Perhaps he should just be more straightforward with the youth? He knew of course already that Florus was quite inexperienced, but still… on the other hand, he didn’t want to scare Florus off. Ah, he had an idea, “Once we’re done with this…” He gestured to the jar, “We could go down to the river for a dip. If you’d like.”

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'It is,' Florus replied. There really was nothing quite like feeling clean. And the massages, too. There wasn't really anything quite like it in Britannia. To soothe an aching back, the remedy seemed to be having someone kneed their fists in your back. It really was nowhere near as gentle or as efficient as here in Rome. That was at least an area where they knew what they were doing. 'I go for the baths and the massages,' he said. Not the other thing. But if he did happen to see people worth a glance, he wasn't going to complain. Why did gladiators need to be so... there, and so naked? It was so terribly distracting.

Alexius had an idea, though, for after their jar of wine. They'd both only come out of the baths, so it was a bit odd to want to go back in the water so soon, but it sounded like fun, and fun wasn't really something the young gardener afforded himself. He wanted more wine down himself, though. Now that his cup had been refilled, he took a sip. He could get used to this, he thought.

'Sure. That would be refreshing.' Would they undress for it, he wondered. The other man had already been dressed as Florus had wandered in, and he reasoned that he might not be disappointed to see more of the former gladiator again. 'But in the meantime, I'm not opposed to more wine.' Especially not when wine made things less awkward, and made him less shy.

 

@Atrice

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Florus agreed that it was nice to go to the baths and get clean and scrubbed well, but when Alexius suggested going to spot someone interesting, the younger man claimed he just went for baths and massages. Alexius looked at him over the edge of his cup, “Sure you do. It’s not like I’ve seen you looking at anyone and not my way either.” He added with a small smile. That’s kind of how they got into contact the first time, Florus had looked his way and admired his naked body and Alexius could not just let such a fine looking young man get away with that, without knowing more.

 He suggested then, that they went to the river together, for a little dip in the water, once they were done with the wine. Florus took a sip of his wine and said it would be refreshing, but first he wanted more wine.

 “Of course… just drink. And then we will go and get… refreshed, after. Who empties this round first?” He then wondered, challenging Florus to drink and Alexius raised his cup, “Shall we see? Bottoms up!” He smiled and brought the cup to his lips to down the rest in one gulp. Not that he wanted Florus to get drunk so he could just take advantage of the youth! It just tended to make things easier and he thought it seemed like Florus was very curious, but didn't dare make a first move. So Alexius would have to help.

@Ejder

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