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1st July 75AD

Didia thanked every single God in the sky this morning that there hadn't been more damage. Rumours floated through the streets that insulae all over the city had collapsed or had been part demolished by the earthquake that had caused the family to cower under the small table they used for meals. That was not to say the block was fine; great cracks spread across its exterior, paint and plaster and a thin veil of dust covered every inch of its surface and those on the lower levels had to now endure the nerve wracking creaks and groans as the building protested at still standing. 

Up on the fourth floor, things were in better shape thanks in part to Didia's fastidiousness. Since they were so high up there had been no time to take shelter outside, and it had meant that when the shaking finally subsided she could set out immediately to setting the world to rights and making their cramped little home hospitable again. It was now late morning and having dusted, swept and rearranged within the home itself - she now stood on the landing shared with neighbours, dusting a great swathe of broken plaster and detritus into neat little piles to be tossed off the balcony at a later date, city rules be damned - she wasn't going to lug it down four flights of stairs.

She knew most people in the building by virtue of having lived here for well over half her life, but occasionally new faces joined the rabble of freedmen and plebs, and her next door neighbour was one of them. She'd met the boy that morning - nervous and flustered after the earthquake as she gingerly inquired after his welfare, but had yet to meet the man she said was his father. Fate, therefore, was fortuitous this morning as a man - a good head and a half taller than her pushed down the corridor coming straight towards the door she was presently sweeping outside of. She blinked up with an arched brow, but a warm smile on her lips. So this was her neighbour.

"I'm glad you're safe," She commented lightly and cast her eyes back down as she resumed her sweeping, "Your son was worried about you. Alexius, I presume?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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He had finally made it home to the building, where he and Lexus shared a small insula together. There were three rooms, if you could even call them that – but at least they had their own place to sleep, so Lexus wouldn’t be too annoyed if Alexius brought home a guest… although now that he lived so close with his son, he tried to not bring too many home and not every night. Instead he’d spent time with any lovers elsewhere, which wasn’t too hard a thing to do. Like last night, when he had been with Annis and then the earthquake happened. After it was all over and he’d helped the best he could at the ludus and there was little more to do, he finally excused himself to go home and check on Lexus.

It was easier said than done though, to get home through Rome on a day like this. And then at the market he’d run into that noble lady he met before and forgot he needed to go home for a moment there. But now he was here! He didn’t know the other people in the building so well yet, but was glad to see that it still stood, despite the great cracks in the exterior of the building. He hoped it was safe to go inside, but people came and left, so it seemed fine. In he went and up the stairs; they lived near the top of the building, since the lower floors were reserved for people who could pay, and with good reason. When fires or earthquakes hit, you wanted to get out of the building fast. And the poorer you were, the less good a spot you got for such occasions.  

Finally he reached the right floor and approached his own insula, where a younger woman stood, sweeping the floor. He’d seen her before, she lived just on the other side of their corridor on the same floor, but he hadn’t had the chance to meet her yet. And what a pity that was, because look at her! The gods must have blessed him for living to see another day and then placing such a lovely woman just outside his door. And now she spoke to him and of course mentioned his son.

“Yes… Lucius Antonius Alexius, but Alexius is just fine.” Alexius confirmed, both surprised and unsurprised that she knew his name. Of course she knew, either because Lexus had told her or because of gossip, “I’m worried about him too! You seem to have done well though, this morning.” She seemed well in general and he mentally kicked himself for having such thoughts on a day like today. It was hard not to, though.

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"Alexius, then." She arched a brow up at him but her smile was soft. No need to chide him for leaving his son unattended whilst he was gods knew where. It wasn't her place to ask, and in any case she suspected young Lexus might have a few choice words for him, himself. She returned his gaze with her own hazel eyes and added; "Didia Nonia. Didia, to my friends." Which you are not, sir, but no need not to be neighbourly.

"He's fine, a little shaken but fine, don't worry - he's inside." She gestured her head back to his door. At his compliment she blinked and glanced around at the corridor - half finished. She doubted any of the layabouts on the floors above or below would care a great deal to sweep out the communal areas, but dust and detritus only attracted injury and illness and the building was grim enough as it was - it didn't need her apathy to add to it. Instead, she mumbled with a smile; "It's nothing. I'm just pleased it's still standing. We had a bad one here about ten years ago and part of the floor above caved in." She winced at the memory but brushed it off with a breezy shrug, "So a little dust is fine by comparison." 

She set the broom down against his door and narrowed her eyes. She had six piles so far but  to sweep the entire length would mean a good few more to come. A distraction, just for a few moments, would be welcome. "You haven't lived here long, have you?" She glanced him up and down, "My mother keeps track of the coming and going of new neighbours," She leaned in with a conspiratorial grin, "If you want to avoid awful wine and long winded tales of Hispania, I would keep your head down and avoid her." 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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He felt the guilt nag, because she’d been here and talked to his son and he had been elsewhere. Perhaps he should try and spend evenings and nights at home more often. Or perhaps he should take Lexus with him, it was about time he learned about Rome by night anyway – it could be tempting and lovely and it could be dangerous. But you had to learn. Right now though, he was home and the woman introduced herself as Didia and he nodded, “Good to meet you, Didia Nonia.” He replied with a smile to her, and she explained how his son was shaken, but otherwise fine. Alexius would go to him in juuust a moment. Didia required more attention.

She told him about their building and how there had been a bad earthquake ten years ago, which was worse than the current one, “Did you? That sounds bad. I don’t think I was in Rome ten years ago… maybe I was in Gaul…” He said thoughtfully, but after his divorce from Ariella, the years kind of blended together, until last year when he got the job at Oriana’s and then met his son. And now he was all Lexus had and what a horrible father he was, for leaving his son home alone when an earthquake shattered the eternal city! And he honestly wasn’t sure if he’d been here last time, although he did not recall it, so maybe he wasn’t.

In front of him, Didia set down the broom in front of his door, as if to block his entrance and then she looked him over – with admiration or wonder? – and spoke of her mother.

“We just moved in not very long ago. I’ll try to avoid her, I hope she doesn’t keep track at all hours.” He said with a grin, “I tend to come and go at odd hours… as you can see.” He added with another charming smile at her, but her words made him curious to know more about her. Besides, it never hurt to show some interest in a woman and her life. Some women hated it when men just wanted to talk about themselves, “You’re from Hispania then?”

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"Gaul?" Her interest was piqued. She hadn't seen any of the empire outside of Hispania. They'd taken a boat directly from the port at Hispalis to Ostia, her father had thought it cheaper - despite the twenty-five days of travel and sea sickness which she still remembered to this day, some fifteen years later. 

This man was intriguing, and whilst she should have been working (even if nobody else was!) to tidy the place, she indulged her curiosity but said nothing  until he asked her a question. She nodded with a little smile and arched a brow; "Yes, the accent didn't give it away?" It was really imperceivable now, given she'd been here seventeen years and brought up in Romanised Hispania with all the Latin a girl could wish for. She continued, proudly; "We moved when I was a girl, Pater said it was more profitable to do business here -we run a grocers stall at the market." A profitable one at that, although she didn't doubt that some would sniff at the meagre take home pay that they earned. 

She picked up the broom again and resumed her sweeping as they spoke, not giving him the satisfaction of seeing her curiosity as her eyes were trained on the task in hand; "And what sort of job, might I ask, keeps you away at all hours?" She cast an amused glance up at him, "Perhaps a brothel patron or hired help? Or a professional party planner for all the rich sorts?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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He nodded, “Yes, Gaul… I think. It’s a long time ago.” He definitely hadn’t been in Rome. Then Didia had spoken of her own mother and tales of Hispania and that naturally made him curious about her story too, so he asked into that. She smiled with an arched brow and he smiled back, “I suppose, now you mention it.” He replied to the question about the accent, and then she explained further. So they ran a grocer’s stall. Maybe he’d been there and seen her. He wondered if they sold peaches.

“That sounds nice.” He said and would have asked more, but then she picked up her broom again and he wondered if that was that and she would just return to work. That was short… but then she suddenly asked what sort of job he had and suggested he was a brothel patron or party planner. Alexius let out a little laugh, “I wish I had the patience for such a job! But no… and I don’t visit the brothels either.” Why should he, when he could get all the pleasure he wanted, for free? Alexius couldn’t recall that he even once in his life paid for it. And he wouldn’t support that sort of thing either, he felt sorry for those slaves.

“Hired help is perhaps more the right way to put it. I don’t have anything entirely steady at the moment, but find work as a bodyguard and sparring partner for the wealthy at the moment.” He explained to her, “So let me know if your stall ever needs more protection… maybe you’re selling a bunch of very rare peaches or something and don’t want them stolen.” He added with a little laugh, she was sweet to talk to. Perhaps he should help sweep the hall here, but maybe after he spoke to Lexus.

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Didia smiled to herself as she swept. She suspected all men said as much; oh no, no brothels for me! I'm not that sort of man! Hilarious, really. She knew that it was a done thing, her eldest brother often boasted of his conquests and her ex-husband had frequented one or two and come back reeking of mens sweat and perfume. It didn't bother her much though, she didn't doubt that the girls and men of the brothels worked hard for their coin, and it wasn't like most of them really had a say in their profession. 

She cast her bright hazel eyes up at him as he spoke of his job, leaning to rest her forearm and then her chin on the handle. She chuckled, a warm grin on her face and shook her head; "I shall bare that in mind should we  have any particularly rowdy customers, but unless there's a riot for tomatoes, I suspect we'll be safe." She shook her head, amused, and added as an afterthought; "And if your work isn't so steady at the moment I'd be cautious about using the front entrance if you're renting your rooms off of Spurius Fimus," She loathed the man but had to be quietly impressed by his business acumen as a landlord, "The girl that was in your place before you - he threw her out for one months missed rent." She realised she wasn't explaining it clearly and blinked, "He hangs around with his heavies at the Popina opposite the main entrance; if you're going to be late on the rent...you're better off slipping out the back." Call it a neighbourly tip.

Chin still resting on her forearm, which in turn was resting on the end of the broom she arched a brow and inquisitively asked; "Might I ask what qualifies you, Alexius, to be such a proficient sparring partner for the wealthy?" An ex-soldier, perhaps? 

 

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Alexius didn’t visit brothels because he was not that sort of man. He didn’t visit brothels because he didn’t have to and he never had to. Not as a gladiator and not as a free man either. He saw that she smiled at his words, but said nothing and he explained what he did for a living. Didia promised to remember it, but she believed they would be safe, “I hope so. It would be a pity if any harm should come to you.” Alexius said with a grin and then she told him about their landlord and what happened to the previous person living in their insula.

“I won’t be late on the rent… I don’t have a steady job, but I make enough; I’m well-known. And Lexus works too.” Alexius added. Lexus still worked in Oriana’s garden, even if they didn’t live there. His son wanted to find a true trade though and it didn’t sound like he wanted to be a gardener forever. Lexus seemed very thoughtful and said he wished he knew more about religion and philosophy – things Alexius knew next to nothing about. But who could teach him? While he was thinking though, Didia suddenly stopped sweeping the floor and wondered why he would be a good sparring partner for the wealthy. Alexius looked at her. Well she asked. And he wasn’t known for being embarrassed about his past and he wasn’t now either.

“I was a gladiator once, many years ago… surviving long enough to earn one of these.” He gestured to the rudis, always placed in its own good leather sheath by his belt, “And it’s what I’m good at… fighting, using weapons. I like it too.” He added with a smile, “So that’s what I do.”

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Well known? Consider her interest piqued. As he explained she smiled broadly, a grin that stretched across her face and lit up her eyes. Imagine that! A gladiator living amongst them! This might have been the most exciting thing to happen in their building since that time a prostitute moved in and started sleeping with a man from every floor. Two of them, of course, didn't realise she was a prostitute and were just flattered at the attention. 

"You have my awe, Alexius." She said with a laugh but wrinkled her nose, "I'm not one for the games really," the cheap seats were so far back it was as if one was watching ants fighting - hardly worth the expense or the effort to get up there, plus the bloodshed turned her stomach, "But I know a hero when I see one. I imagine not many men earn that," She gestured to his rudis. She glanced behind herself at her door as she heard noise. "My brother, Appius, he adores the games - I'm sure he'd love to meet you and I'd invite you inside for a drink but you'll never be able to leave for the questions and the chatter." Living in a three room apartment with four adults and two toddlers was trying at the best of times - let alone when one had company. 

"You must think a woman who sells fruits terribly dull by comparison to some of the neighbours you must have had in your life, hmm?" 

 

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He couldn’t exactly brag about being young – it was far more than ten years ago since he was freed, after all. The fact that he had been a gladiator, it was just a part of his past. Yet it seemed sometimes like it was only yesterday he lived such a different life… it was years he’d never forget and they seemed to be very much a part of his present life too. Didia smiled broadly at his explanation and then said he had her awe, although she was really not one for games. She then spoke of knowing heroes and gestured to his rudis and he clapped it with his hand, happy to have it as he had for so many years. Worn as it was now, it was still his to keep.

“I’d love to meet your brother sometime. Not that you don’t seem to be good company.” He said with a smile, “I don’t think anyone ever titled me a hero though. You think it’s heroic… surviving because otherwise you’ll die for the sake of entertainment?” He hadn’t meant it to sound so harsh, but while he had enjoyed fighting and the roar of the crowd after a victory… and he enjoyed earning his freedom – he still did not think it really honorable to kill others because you were forced to, not in a battle, but for mere entertainment. Not that he blamed the gladiators though. And he still liked seeing them fight, it was a kind of escape for him. But he blamed the people that made the gladiators do it.

Didia thought he must think her terribly dull and he smiled once more, “Why should you be dull? Everyone has their own story. I don’t think you dull so far.” Alexius had friends from high to low in the Roman society and Didia seemed nice enough so far. Not to mention very pretty.

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Didia considered the question with a little frown; "I think it's heroic not to give up." She concluded with a little nod of her head, "I suppose if I were ever in that position," Gods forbid it! "I would simply give up? Top myself or just...not bother. I think to persevere, even when you don't wish to or have no choice is." She probably wasn't explaining it right, she'd never been a good orator but to her it was clear; those slaves that actually persevered and survived, even thrived - they had her admiration. She couldn't imagine what it was like to lose, or never have one's liberty and those that were denied it earned her respect.

"Well I'm flattered," She said with a little grin. He was probably just being nice. She was the first to admit her life of work and family time was anything but fascinating. "But I don't believe you. Unless in your last insula you lived next door to some old crone who had even less of a life than me, perhaps?" 

 

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Alexius wasn’t sure that he thought it heroic to be a gladiator – he had been forced to either kill or be killed. Live or die, those were his choices and of course he chose life, because else he would never again taste freedom and have any chance at finding his sister. Not that he’d found her anyway, but the fading hope was still there. And it had been greater back then. But that didn’t mean he thought himself a hero. Didia thought otherwise though, she called him heroic for not giving up and said she would have given up.

 “You would have given up… when faced with the choice between living or dying?” He said, looking at her curiously. Of course it was more than that; you had to hurt or even kill your opponent in order to survive, but still. Alexius had looked at it in a very simple way. And he chose life.

 When she thought herself dull company though, he also disagreed. He didn’t find her dull so far and actually, besides how easy she was on the eyes, it seemed to be interesting to talk to her too. She grinned and said she was flattered, but she didn’t believe him.

 “My last home was that of an Equite household, where I served as bodyguard. It can’t compare to this.” Not when it came to the looks of the place and not when it came to his partner in bed either. Back then it had been steady. Now… it wasn’t even close to that. But that wasn’t what they were discussing, “And believe me or not, I find you interesting so far. You have a mind of your own and you dare speak it. Not all women in this city are like that.” And Alexius tended to be even more attracted to those who were like that. Of course he was attracted to a lot of people, but independent women tended to be those he admired more and returned to. Achillia had been like that and Gaia wasn’t passive either. Oriana was the same, and Annis. Maybe he did have a type after all.

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Didia looked embarrassed for a brief moment (she hadn't expected him to be quite so blunt about it!) but then shrugged; "Either that or I would be killed in the first fight I had. Look at me," She scoffed with a goodnatured grin, "I'm hardly going to me much cop compared with the Amazons they have in the arena." 

An equite household? Her interest was piqued but she supposed it made sense, if he was a bodyguard or trainer or whatever he suggested he was. Still - to live somewhere so fancy was intriguing. "Was it very fabulous there?" She asked, amused. She considered that something must have gone wrong for him to now be slumming it somewhere like here, but chose not to pry. She was friendly and neighbourly and enjoyed the gossip of the insulae but knew where boundaries should lay. 

"Don't let my pater or any of the others hear you say that!" She said with amusement and resumed her sweeping, "He'll never find me another husband if everybody thinks I'm a strong willed woman." She tutted but meant it in jest. In truth, she could take or leave getting married again anytime soon. She supposed her father must have felt the same as he hadn't made any enquiries as far as she was aware. Then again, the situation had changed somewhat since the last time she got married; he now needed more help with the business and with Lucius off...doing what he did, Publius slacking and Suetonia in her contented little bubble with her husband it fell to herself and Appius to pick up the slack. Which, of course, meant that to marry her off meant losing support he desperately needed. 

She was about to re-cover the topic and enquire as to whether that was a mistress of his household, a wife, but decided against it. Judging from his fairly indiscrete looks at her (she was not that oblivious) there either was a woman which he didn't care to mention, or there wasn't and it was none of her business.

 

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Alexius looked her over – this time to judge what kind of a fighter she might be – and judged that her small stature might be a good feature and she might have a lot of stamina. She didn’t think she had it in her though, but he just smiled, “Believe me, when faced with such choices, you’re often capable of a lot more than you think.” He just said and then he’d explained more about his latest home. She thought it sounded very good and asked if it was very fabulous.

 He let out a little laugh, “I suppose it was. I don’t care so much about the place though… I mean, I enjoy a nice bed and a warm meal and a clean floor and all that, but for me it’s more the people that are around me, that matter.” Alexius said then, almost thoughtfully. He never gave that much thought before. Oriana’s home had indeed been nice, but it hadn’t been the most important thing. It was more that he had the good job and the steady pay and then of course a place in her bed and by her side, whenever she needed him.

 When he said he didn’t find her dull though, for having a mind of her own, she seemed amused and said she might never find a husband for such reasons. He arched a brow, “So you’re not married?” It both surprised and didn’t surprise him. Obviously no husband had managed to subdue her, although she said `another husband`, which had to mean she had been married before. But she wasn’t right now. Now that was interesting news… “Are you in the market for someone new though, or is it just your pater that thinks you should be?” He then wondered curiously, not that he would offer himself for marriage to someone he barely knew (again), but no matter what, knowing that she had no man to warm her bed when she was so attractive… well, that was not a bad development, he thought.

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Didia chuckled and nodded; "A man of simple pleasures, I admire that." She supposed it must have been bloody odd though; to go from slave to staying in one of the big houses to living somewhere like here. She was very much content with her little corner of the world in the insulae, never holding dreams for much more. A big house was surely just a pain to keep clean?

But his intrigue didn't go unnoticed and she retorted, amused; "Not much of a marriage it'd be if I still live with my parents and siblings, hm?" She laughed and shook her head as she swept, "No. I'm not, I was but sadly it didn't last." It wasn't that sad - her ex-husband was fine but no great love. Not that she necessarily thought such things existed. The upper classes didn't marry for love because they needed alliances, and the lower classes didn't because it didn't make good business sense. Everybody lost! 

"And why do you ask?" She grinned and leant her chin on her broom, peering up at him. "Are you offering?" Her wry little smirk widened into a grin and she called out - loud enough for some of her neighbours to hear; "I can't believe I'm going to marry again! You charmer you! Of course I accept your proposal!" She heard a door open so somebody could listen in. She couldn't contain herself though and let out a loud laugh, nudging him with the broom; "A word of advice - never say such a thing to a woman, you might meet one stupider than me who actually thinks you're proposing." 

 

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He smiled, yes he might be a man of simple pleasures… as long as there were pleasures, he was happy, so he did not demand much. And his own room and bed and a warm meal every day and a lovely woman who wanted to sleep with him every night… well, who could demand more? Alexius did not. Yet now he had his own home together with his son and he did not know yet if he would get to bed the lovely woman next door here. One could always hope though, especially considering her lack of husband.

Alexius asked more into that, and said it wouldn’t be much of a marriage since she still lived with her own family – well technically, her husband could have lived with them, but he knew it was often the other way around. When a woman married, she’d move in with her husband and his family. Didia said she had been married, but it didn’t last. Alexius nodded, “Sorry to hear that – but not all marriages are meant to be.” He knew all about that. He had cared about Ariella and she had been lovely but… there were so many other people that were the same. And he didn’t want to keep on betraying her, she was too good for that.

Then Didia suddenly took the conversation to another level, wondering if he was offering marriage and Alexius gave her a surprised look, “I was just…” He began, before she suddenly called out about going to marry again and accepting his proposal, but out loud, clearly making fun of it. That surprised him a bit. Why would she do that? It was an honest and curious question, that’s all! Then she said to never say such a thing to a woman or she would think he was proposing.

“To be honest, I never gained such a reaction before.” He said with a small smile, she was not the first woman he ever asked about having a husband, “And I don’t have a wife either, but it is hard to find the right one. A steady partner would be nice… but… anyway, it’s not like I’m missing out on anything.” He added, his grin widening again.  He almost wanted to tell Didia that, well, he was just next door, if she needed a bit of pleasure. Could he marry someone like Didia though? She seemed nice enough and she was definitely attractive, but would they get along if married? And would she accept his sleeping around? Alexius kind of did want to marry again, but it had to be the right one and if he could not find that… he would be fine too. But it would be nice with a steady partner too, someone to come home to and talk to.

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Didia grinned a wicked smile that lit up her face. Look at him! So embarrassed! She let out a genuine laugh and nudged him again with her broom, "I was only teasing..." She countered with good nature. "But use it as a warning, neighbour, there's plenty of girls here that would murder a woman in her sleep for a husband with his own rooms and prospects." She was not one of them, finding no sense in the lusty aspirations of girls her class. "I know a man over in the insulae next to Caius' bread shop that winked at a girl in a bar, next day he woke up to her on his doorstep with all her belongings packed and her Papa ready to do the wedding rights." She chuckled. The poor man had been too bemused and struck dumb to argue. They'd been married six years this month, come to think of it. 

She made no comment on his desire, or lack thereof, of a wife. She supposed he didn't really need one - he already had a son and a wife would just be another person to feed and clothe and keep a roof over. She did, however, quirk an eyebrow and endeavoured to keep a watchful eye. She had plenty of neighbours in her years here who were fans of the bawdy dancing girls and barmaids and it almost always ended badly. Thrown clothes, furniture, a couple of black eyes or split lips. She liked Alexius, he seemed sweet enough, but she ran a tight ship here and if he was going to bring trouble to their communal doors by stringing along a series of girls she'd have no qualms about reporting him to the landlord or the watch for breaching the very tenuous peace here. All of this went unspoken, of course.

She resumed her sweeping as he stood there, and thought better of retreating back inside. It was good to be neighbourly. "You can always knock and one of us will be home should you need anything now you're here." There were four adults and two toddlers crammed in, somebody would always answer the door. But a thought struck her as she eyed him and she arched a brow curiously; "May I ask how much you charge? For your services..." She smiled wryly before adding, "Services as a bodyguard, I should say." 

 

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Look at her grin when she caught him off guard like that. She sure had a mood, this one, but Alexius wasn’t quite sure if he understood it. No matter though, she was still nice and easy on the eyes. Now she nudged him, said she was teasing and then went on about how girls around here were desperate for a husband and she told him a story about a guy who got married in a rather strange way.

“I’m sure any father would want a man for their daughter, who earns more than I do. I’ll keep it in mind though.” He said, not that he thought it was about to happen. Alexius slept around, sure, but he rarely got any serious marriage offers. And he didn’t go around offering either. He had considered it with Oriana, but knew her father would never have allowed his Equite daughter to marry a mere Freedman. And she’d really been the only one recently. From time to time, he had toyed with the idea of suggesting to marry Gaia, who was a freedwoman too, but he wasn’t sure. If he should marry someone though, she would be a good choice. Oh the orgies they’d hold! He smiled at the thought and Didia went back to sweeping the floor and said he could always come knocking if he needed anything.

“Likewise… if you need a break.” He said with a grin to her, and then she suddenly eyed him and wondered how much he charged for his services… as bodyguard. Well he wasn’t a prostitute.

“It depends on how much you can pay. I don’t really have a set price, it depends on a lot of things. It rally is more about the specific job and the danger of it. How much of a chance there is I’ll get hurt or worse, and all that. I need to look out for my son too, after all.” If he died, Lexus wouldn’t have anyone. Alexius would have to ensure his son’s safety and well-being if anything should happen to him. But few jobs came with any real danger, at least to him. He was quite skilled, after all.

“Why do you ask?”

@Sara

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Didia nibbled her lip with narrowed eyes, taking in what he was saying. "Of course, of course." She said when he mentioned his son and pondered for a moment in silence, stopping her sweeping as she thought. "Hmm?" She asked with an arched brow and then shook her head. She considered how much she could say and glanced over her shoulder to her door, making sure none of her family were listening in. 

Content that they were alone she winced and stepped a touch closer. "My brother...my eldest one can sometimes come here. He," She sighed and leaned her chin on her broom, dejected, "He works for a gang I think, or if he doesn't he wants to. He's always hassling us for money and likes to tear the bloody place apart. Last time I came home the stuffing of our couch was ripped out and the money my mother hid was gone." She sighed and lifted her chin, peering those big brown eyes at him. "I just...we don't have anybody to ask to help when he comes when we're here. I wouldn't ask you to hurt him or anything," He was still her brother after all, "But..." She grinned a little at him, "A little bit of intimidation wouldn't hurt." 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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It might be interesting working for her – although he did wonder what kind of a job she could have for him? Didia seemed like a very nice woman and he was certain she didn’t cause any trouble and needed a hand with anything. On the other hand, someone might try to get their hands on her and she wouldn’t want them and that might be bad. But becoming her everyday-bodyguard would be too expensive for a plebian, he thought. So what did she have in mind?

She seemed to have drifted off for a few moments there, thinking, when he asked into it and she stepped closer and spoke about one of her brothers who was working for a gang and came looking for money. It almost seemed as if she was afraid of her brother. Alexius felt sorry for her, think to actually have your siblings and see them and then they weren’t all that after all. He hoped he might be better with his sister, if he ever met her. Chances were small now though. So small.

Didia wouldn’t want him to hurt her brother, but wanted Alexius to intimidate him, “I’m sure I can do that.” Alexius replied with a smile, looking at her pretty brown eyes, “And I live close by, at least, so you can come find me quickly. However…” Alexius trailed off, because she mentioned the thing with not hurting her brother, “What if he attacks me… I’ll have to defend myself. Is he big? Do you know if he can fight or wears weapons?” You weren’t really allowed to wear weapons in Rome, but especially the gangs didn’t care and they were good at hiding them. Alexius couldn’t promise he wouldn’t hurt someone who attacked him. He got riled up when that happened.

@Sara

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Didia smiled a wide grin when he agreed and felt a bit of relief wash over her. Lucius' antics had been worse as of late, knowing her brother he had lost some money or bet on the wrong horse or something equally idiotic. It filled her with dread whenever she opened their door and found him lounging on her bed or with his dirty sandals up on the small couches in their main room. 

His concern was admirable, sweet almost and she waved a hand; "Oh no if he attacks you, by all means batter him as much as you need to knock some sense in him." She chuckled, although felt guilt settle in the pit of her stomach like a stone. She sized Alexius up at his question and slowly shook her head, a little smile playing on her full lips; "No, no he's not big. Not compared to you. And if he can fight, he learned it after he left here but he shouldn't be a much for an ex-Gladiator like you." She sounded as if she was joking but meant it sincerely. 

"Thank you though," She offered with a gentle smile, "I really do appreciate it...families are always a bit of a nightmare, eh?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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She grinned widely and prettily, when he said he’d help her out. He might even have done it anyway, without charge, because they were neighbors and she was friendly. Alexius was not really the kind of guy who’d say no to a good fight and he did enjoy helping others. He could be very protective, when he had to be. He had questions though, because she had said she didn’t want him to hurt her brother – but if he attacked Alexius, she allowed him to knock sense into him.

He nodded quietly while she looked him over and said he wasn’t bigger than Alexius and probably couldn’t fight as well as Alexius either, “I’m sure it won’t be a problem, no matter. I have fought guys bigger than me before anyway, so it would not have changed anything. And I’m still here.” He added with a grin, before she thanked him and then spoke of families being a nightmare.

“Don’t think about it. It will be an honor working for you, Didia.” He said with a smile to her, “Families… I suppose they can be. To be honest, I’m not so experienced with having my own yet. I’m happy to have Lexus though…” He said, leaning against the wall next to the door. They didn’t always agree, but at least he had his son. He had some kind of a family. When he was married, they never had a child. And in his eyes, a family consisted of parents, siblings, children… it was more than a married couple. So when you thought of it like that, he hadn’t had a family since he was a child. It was a bit sad, but he rarely thought much about it.

@Sara

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"An honour?" She laughed and shook her head. It wouldn't be so much an honour when her fool of a brother charged at him, high on whatever opiates were the craze in the Aventine and with a knife in his palm. Still, she didn't need to remind him of that. He'd accepted her offer, and that was good enough for her. 

She nodded and smiled a little, inclining her head to his door; "And speaking of your son - he's been waiting for you a little while, I don't wish to keep you." Bless him, Lexus was sweet but evidently anxious over his missing, errant father. Didia was just pleased the man had returned in one piece (and what a piece he was!- she mused silently to herself with a wry smile).

She resumed her sweeping, pushing detritus into neat little piles for her collection later as she spoke; "And don't forget, if you need anything just knock. But as I said - best off doing it at night when my mother is cooking lest you'll never escape her stories and her awful wine." When Suetonia was distracted she was more likely to ask Appius or Didia herself to answer the door, and she didn't wish to subject her new neighbour to the trials of her family just yet. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

I think we're nearly wrapped? 

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Clearly Didia did not agree that it should be an honour working for her, but he smiled none the less, “Of course. It’s always an honour to assist a lovely woman.” Alexius replied to her, charmingly as he always tried to be, and then she mentioned he should get back to his son. Right… he almost forgot about the earthquake for a few moments, thanks to Didia. Maybe he needed it. The morning at the ludus had not been amusing, there had been injured and dead and he’d done what he could for his friends there. It didn’t bring back the unfairly killed though.

“Right… I’m sure he’s anxious.” At least Didia had calmed him though and Alexius too, letting him know she’d been there when he had been unable to. Then Didia went back to sweeping the floor and told him to come knocking if he needed anything.

Alexius offered her a last smile, “Likewise, my possible future employer… if you need anything, my door will be open to you.” He said and with that, he turned to open the door to his own place to find Lexus inside. The boy was indeed quite worried about his father, but they talked it through and Alexius was sure things would be fine again, eventually. They always were.

@Sara

the end?

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