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Immediately after One Night In Rome [M-V]

Didia stumbled up the stairs, breathless from her run all the way here and from the anxiety that just wouldn't settle. What if he'd followed her here? She hadn't stopped to look back once she was free of his grip and had just bolted as fast she could back home. Oh Gods above, what if he'd followed her? She couldn't go home, not in this state, not like this - with blood dripping down her neck from the first wound and staining her tunica from the second. She hurriedly climbed the final set of stairs, up past her own landing, to Theo's. She sometimes called on him at this hour - it was evening but she saw light from under his door and she steeled herself to knock. She felt panic rising again and glanced behind her as she desperately tried to smooth away her tears and right herself. It was to little avail though and realising she couldn't delay any longer, she knocked. 

She must have looked a state; eyes wide with panic and tears, hair askew, a nice bruise and scratches blossoming on her shoulder blade from the force of his foot and the wall and the small cuts from the knife. She had no sense of how deep they were but they stung. The one on her neck throbbed now and the other, just above the band of her strophium was still dribbling blood - she could feel it - although she dared not look lest she be ill again. She knocked again, heart rate rising and thrumming in her blood. "Theo?" She called out, her voice hoarse, "Theo please answer the door!" 

 

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Theo had fallen asleep at his desk earlier in the evening. He'd spent another long day at the ludus, tending to wounds and caring for patients who were still carrying the marks of the earthquake. On his way home he picked up some scrolls on various medical topics, trying to find some wisdom in them about helping broken bones and torn muscles heal properly, and regain their range of movement. Some of the galdiators' lives depended on that. He barely had a few bites for dinner, and then kept reading until he somehow drifted off to sleep, forehead resting on his arms.

The second knock jolted him out of his daze.

"Theo? Theo please answer the door!" 

Didia. Something in the tone of her voice made Theo's stomach drop, and he scrambled to his feet and opened the door. The sight matched the voice. There was blood, disheveled hair, and... blood.

"Didia? What happened to you?" he asked, ushering her inside. Had she been attacked? "Who did this?"

@Sara

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Relief washed through her and she managed a wan smile at the sight of Theo, sleep still in his eyes and sticking his hair up at odd angles. "Nobody," She swallowed obviously somebody, "Just some fucking creep." She let herself be ushered inside and tried valiantly to keep her eyes off the blood. She felt her stomach turn. 

"I can't go downstairs like this." Uninvited she went to sit over at his desk and pour a cup of something she hoped was wine into his cup and took a sip. Now the door was firmly shut she felt herself relax a bit but it only made the trembling of her fingers and her body all the more pronounced. "I fucking hate blood, I can't look at it." She considered glancing down but screwed up her eyes before she could. "Please help, I can't clear it up on my own, I'll be sick again." She didn't really know the first things about wounds, not properly, and had no idea whether one or both of the cuts would require any sort of actual medical intervention. Her back, she was sure, would be fine - she'd just have to throw on a palla to cover it, but the sticky trails of blood on her chest were a slightly different story.

 

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"Nobody. Just some fucking creep." 

It obviously had been somebody. She had bruises and cuts, from what Theo could tell, and she looked upset, almost in shock. The medicus stared at her in growing horror. Had she been... someone just attacked her? Where? How? Why?

"I can't go downstairs like this."

Didia took a seat and a drink, but Theo's eyes were already looking for clues about her state. She was trembling and pale, but had not lost enough blood to be truly dangerous. Theo was also vaguely aware that being locked in a room with a woman who was hurt and bleeding was probably not the very best idea. It was a very vague feeling, though, quickly overwritten by his training, and his empathy for her pain.

"I fucking hate blood, I can't look at it. Please help, I can't clear it up on my own, I'll be sick again." 

"Alright." Theo finally sprung into action, crossing the small room to where he kept a pitcher of water and a bowl. He washed his hands in the bowl, then tossed the dirty water out the window and set the bowl by her on the table, sweeping the scrolls aside. "If you are going to be sick, use this." He brought over another lantern from his bedside and lit that too, for more light. "I am going to take a look at your wounds. You might..." he cleared his throat, gesturing at her dress "... you might have to move that out of the way."

@Sara

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Didia nodded mutely and glanced at the bowl, sipping her wine. She blinked up at him as he moved closer and cleared his throat. She frowned, and then glanced down at herself (regretting it immediately as she felt a woozy flush come over her again and she spilled some of her wine). She set down the cup on the table and hurriedly slipped down the shoulder of her tunica to reveal the wound, carefully tucking it under her arm to preserve her modesty. 

"I fucking hate blood," She swallowed and tried t o look anywhere but down at her neck or her chest. She kept herself occupied by glancing around his room. When she spoke, her voice was wavering and she trembled but was trying to hold herself together. "Yo-you've decorated in here with your clutter," She managed a wan smile and shifted in the seat, trying to ignore the stinging sensation, "It looks better but I'll come b-by tomorrow to help you clear it all up, you'll trip over your own m-mess if you're not careful and then you'll hit your head and what good is a dumb medicus?" She was rambling but trying desperately to not look at the blood or think about the pain as he examined the neat cut of the knife.

 

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Didia was shaking badly enough to spill some of her wine. Theo pulled up the other chair and moved the lanterns to see better. He could see a cut on her throat and another over the edge of the dress she'd just pulled down.

"I fucking hate blood,"

She must have been in shock, to be cursing like that. Theo did not fault her. She was usually cheerful and friendly, but being attacked like this, and being disturbed by the sight of blood would have been enough to throw anyone off their usual demeanor. Theo dipped a clean cloth into the pitcher, and started dabbing at the cuts.

"Yo-you've decorated in here with your clutter... It looks better but I'll come b-by tomorrow to help you clear it all up, you'll trip over your own m-mess if you're not careful and then you'll hit your head and what good is a dumb medicus?"

"Cleaning up my room should not be your highest priority" Theo smiled softly, turning her chin with one hand to see the cut better. "It looks like this one in not deep, skin on the neck just tends to bleed heavily" he added. Blood was already drying around the cut; she was not in immediate danger of bleeding out. He dabbed at the skin carefully. "Have you hit your head?... Or did... your attacker hit your head? Do you feel dizzy?" he inquired, pausing the work with the cloth to look at her head, searching for telltale bruises or blood.

@Sara

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Didia managed a hoarse chuckle and looked up at him with eyes full of anxiety that she was trying to mask. "You're my highest priority, without me you'd f-fall apart Theo, Gods." She winced a little as he turned her chin and the wound stung at the tension in her neck. Good. Not so deep, no stitches. She swallowed and shook her head, "No, no my head is fine. Promise." She ducked her head to look at him with a look he must have seen a thousand times over as a medicus; abject concern. Usually, she suspected, it was with people much more severely injured but Didia had never been hurt, not like this before, and it was terrifying. 

"This one," She moved her fingers to the neat cut above her breast (carefully shielded), still dribbling blood, "Hurts more than my neck. And my bloody back." She shifted her position and it throbbed on cue. She just had to be thankful he wasn't wearing hobnail boots when he stood on her, that would have been worse. "Thank you." She looked up at him, genuine thanks in her hazel eyes. "I'll pay you, obviously. I have coins, he didn't take any, didn't even rob me." She shook her head, as if it were unbelievable. 

 

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"You're my highest priority, without me you'd f-fall apart Theo, Gods."

Theo gave her a small smile as she examined her injuries. She kept talking; some patients felt it reassuring to make small talk that distracted them from their pain and their concerns. But even so, he could she the look in her eyes. She had been through something bad, and Theo felt a surge of worry for his friend. Who would do something like this to her?...

"No, no my head is fine. Promise." 

He checked her head anyway, moving the lantern to see her eyes. Her pupils were wide with shock, but her head was not bruised or bleeding. That was good, at least.

"This one. Hurts more than my neck. And my bloody back."

The other wound, on her chest, was still bleeding. Theo dabbed at it with a clean cloth, trying to take a better look. "This one I'll need to stitch" he said with a frown. She shifted and winced, and he moved over to take a look at her back too, pressing the cloth to her chest to keep the bleeding in check.

"Thank you. I'll pay you, obviously. I have coins, he didn't take any, didn't even rob me."

"Oh, shush" he huffed, going to grab his tools from his back "You have paid me in advance in honey cakes." He really didn't care about the payment. But he did care why she had not been robbed. He returned to take a seat by her, readying his tools to stitch her wound. "Didia?..." he paused "Did they hurt you in any other way?"

@Sara

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"Stitch?" She glanced it him, warily. That sounded...painful. She was a roman woman, and one who had a family (albeit not her own children) to take care of so she'd done enough sewing in her years to last her a lifetime. That also meant she'd stuck her finger by accident plenty, and it stung every time. Voluntarily going through that made bile rise in her throat and she swallowed it down in a big gulp. 

She chattered aimlessly as he glanced at her back and sorted his various implements, determinedly keeping her eyes away from the bloodied cloth on her chest. "You like honey cakes more than any man I've ever met, more than my nephew who is practically made of the stuff," She managed a wan smile, but it didn't quite reach her eyes as usual. And what remnants of it were quickly wiped away by his next question. Her cheeks flushed a little and she shook her head fervently, "No, no, nothing like that. I thought he might..." She frowned and swallowed, "What kind of man has a woman against a wall and doesn't even try? Just...cuts her?" She wrinkled her nose and stifled a gag, "A fucking creep, that's who." She clenched the fabric of her tunica in her fingers; rhythmically scrunching it and releasing it as she talked and tried to ignore the stinging. 

"He told me if I said anything he'd do it again, worse." She glanced at him, worried. 

 

TAG: @Chevi

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"Stitch?" 

"I'm afraid so" Theo nodded with an apologetic glance. Didia sounded scared, and also nauseous. If she couldn't handle blood very well, stitching was going to be even worse. She tried to put on a brave face and chat about honey cakes, and Theo felt bad for having to inflict more pain on her. She didn't deserve this. She didn't deserve any of what they had done to her.

"No, no, nothing like that. I thought he might... What kind of man has a woman against a wall and doesn't even try? Just...cuts her? A fucking creep, that's who." 

Theo sighed. At least... well, that was something. But really, it made the whole thing worse, in a way. She had not been robbed, or raped. What did that man want? Just to... hurt her? That was disgusting.

"He told me if I said anything he'd do it again, worse." 

"He knows who you are?" Theo ventured, arranging the things he'd need for stitching her wound. He tried to do it in a way that she was not looking directly at all the tools. He refilled the cup with unwatered wine, and pressed it into her hand, covering her hand with his own. "Didia, look at me. We won't let him hurt you. Not me, not Alexius, not your family. You'll be okay. But first, I need to take care of your wounds. Drink."

While she did, Theo dipped a clean cloth into an ointment he used to clean wounds, and dabbed it over the cut, hoping to wipe the dirt away, and soften her skin a little before stitching. "Alright, I will do this as fast as I can. You should... probably close your eyes, and hold on to something."

@Sara

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"No...no he doesn't even know my name." She shook her head and nervously nibbled at her lip. At the sensation of his hand on hers, she flinched a little but then relaxed as she glanced up at his face. So kind, so sweet. How could men be so different; from some sick freak in a back alley in Rome to a medicus who was obsessed with honey cakes and was trying his hardest (she could tell) to settle her. "But...if I report it, and he finds out...I'm not hard to find, not many women in Rome are so visible every day in the markets." She bit her lip again and sighed. At least she had friends to help; Alexius and Manius to fend off the bastard, and Theo to sort herself out afterwards. 

She did as she was bidden and sipped deeply from the cup of unwatered wine, feeling her throat burn. She merely nodded mutely at his instruction and with one hands still clasping the cup, she reached out to grip onto the small table at her side with the other. Her eyes fluttered shut and then, as if to block out any semblance of light, she screwed her face up and braced herself. 

"My parents can't know," She swallowed as she waited for him to start, trying to distract herself, "D...do you have a cloak I can borrow? To cover the blood stains on the tunica?" She cracked an eye to peer at him, and seeing that he had threaded the needle, whimpered and screwed her eyes back shut. As she felt his fingers on her skin she flinched again, and then as he started stitching, she couldn't help it and blurted out; "Dis! You bastard!" And instinct took over and she kicked him in the shin.

 

TAG: @Chevi

Edited by Sara
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"No...no he doesn't even know my name. But...if I report it, and he finds out...I'm not hard to find, not many women in Rome are so visible every day in the markets."

Theo frowned, trying to focus on doing what he knew how to do: sticking her wound. The rest would have to come later. Alexius was probably a lot better qualified than him for keeping anyone safe. He could tell Didia was scared of the man, and with good reason. Maybe Alexius could do more than just keep her safe...

"My parents can't know. D...do you have a cloak I can borrow? To cover the blood stains on the tunica?"

"And a borrowed cloak would not be suspicious?" Theo pointed out, waiting for her to drink and then brace herself. She looked miserable, poor thing. Theo placed one hand on her chest to hold pressure, and made a stitch, as fast as he could. Pain like that was usually less bad when done quickly.

"Dis! You bastard!"

"Ow!" Theo jumped, getting kicked straight in the shin. He'd managed to pull the thread through at least, but he clearly had not expected to get kicked in the process. He shifted, but there was really no good way to sit out of reach while also stitching someone's chest. "I know I know it hurts, I'm sorry... Two more."

@Sara

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Didia winced as he jumped back, "Sorry! Sorry, sorry, sorry..." She muttered with a sheepish glance at him. She was stronger than this, surely?! She felt somewhat pathetic; firstly even being foolish enough for the wound to happen in the first place, and now not even being able to stand three stitches! Get it together Didia! 

She steeled herself again by taking a deep sip of the wine and felt colour come to her pale cheeks, drained of most of their colour by shock and pain. She took another hearty sip as she shuffled on the seat, allowing him access to the wound again. "Do you usually get assaulted at the ludus when you're trying to help?" She asked sheepishly before taking another sip and choking a little on the bitter taste of the unwatered wine, "No...I suppose they're much more sensible and brave than me." She swallowed and screwed her eyes shut again. 

"Go on then," She urged him, "And ignore my very unladylike language..." 

 

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Theo was used to some of his patients not taking the stitiching well. Or other, even less pleasant procedures. He did not want to restrain Didia unless he really had to (and she agreed, obviously), but the wound did need to be closed before she would lose even more blood, or get infected. He shifted, giving her time to calm down and drink more wine.

"Sorry! Sorry, sorry, sorry... Do you usually get assaulted at the ludus when you're trying to help? No...I suppose they're much more sensible and brave than me." 

Theo snorted at the assumption. "I have been punched more times than I can count. Comes with the job. Then again, my patients are usually restrained when I do this." He did not want to do that to her. She was not a fighter, and she didn't know what it was going to be like, and being bound would have scared her even more, given what she had just been through. And she was a strong woman. Despite what she thought of herself. 

"Go on then. And ignore my very unladylike language..." 

"Ignored" Theo nodded with an amused smile. He'd heard a lot worse than that. Once she'd braced herself, he made another quick stitch, then a third one. The wound would heal well, if she didn't tear it. Theo dabbed the blood away with the clean cloth, and allowed her time to finish the wine. 

@Sara

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The stream of swear words that came out of her mouth would have shocked a sailor. One didn't grow up in the back streets of Rome without learning some very colourful cursing. She felt nausea bubble in her stomach and burn her throat but she managed to swallow it down, and as he pulled back, she cracked an eye open. "Finished?" 

As he dabbed the blood away, she cautioned a quick glance down and was relieved to see the bloody mess reduced to a neat little line with three stitches poking out of her skin. She could handle its slightly gruesome sight better than if it was bleeding, and she opened her other eye, relief flooding her features. But she was a stubborn woman and without his prompting, she dug into the coin purse at her hip and produced a few coins. "What's your going rate?" She arched a brow, insistently. 

But as she held them out for him, she forgot that the arm of her tunica was still down and it fell, revealing her strophium. For any other woman, such immodesty would make her screech but Didia just laughed a broad, echoing laugh and grinned, hurriedly shrugging the strap up to conceal her modesty. "Payment and a free show, aren't you lucky?" 

 

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Didia did some very inspired swearing while Theo did the two stitches as fast as he could, and tied the knots. It was impressive, for a young woman like her to swear like that. It was still better than her fainting of throwing up, for sure.

"Finished?" 

"Well, sort of. I still have to bandage you and clean the other wounds..." he noted, but she was already digging into her purse, even thought he'd told her not to.

"What's your going rate?" 

"I told you I don't..." Theo insisted, but before he could finish the sentence, the strap of her dress slid all the way down, revealing her undergarment. Theo blushed, averting his eyes. As a medicus, he was not very shy, but he was keenly aware that he was alone with a young woman, even if in a medical capacity. If anyone happened to stop by, they would definitely get the wrong idea.

"Payment and a free show, aren't you lucky?" 

"I'm not asking for either" he hurried to say, and then realized that might have come off wrong. "I mean, it's not... uh. Not that... You don't need to pay me. I am just glad you are... alright, all things considered. But I should... really finish up the bandages before you leave."

@Sara

 

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Didia chuckled at his blushing and his insistence. It was sweet. And cheered her up no end. He had a soothing presence, which she hadn't quite noticed before which she supposed came in handy when one was a medicus. "Noted." She said with an arched brow at his statement that he didn't ask to see her undressed, a teasing look on her face. 

She finished the cup of wine, feeling herself become a little...fuzzy as she drained the dregs. That was some strong, foul wine. "No...no bandages, my parents would see. I can hide a little cut and some stitches under my tunica, not bandages." She arched a brow at him but then her features softened. "Thank you Theo...I don't know what I would have done had the Gods not deigned that you live above me." She chuckled and then placed the coins down on the table. "But I'm not taking no for an answer." Nor was that the end of the matter. She was already thinking of exactly what she could do to say thank you, and it involved a basket, honey cakes and a trip to the Ludus. 

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Theo knew his face was red, and he felt stupid because of it. He'd treated women before many times, and it was not professional of a medicus to behave like an unmarried maiden. And yet, Didia was a friend, and she did not ask for any of this; not to be hurt, and definitely not to be exposed in front of him.

"No...no bandages, my parents would see. I can hide a little cut and some stitches under my tunica, not bandages."

Theo sighed, but accepted her decision with a not. "At least let me give you a salve to put on it. To help the healing and keep the infection away." he dug into one of his boxes for a small vial. "And you will have to keep the wounds clean. Come back if anything feels wrong... in fact, come back anyway tomorrow so I can check."

"Thank you Theo...I don't know what I would have done had the Gods not deigned that you live above me. But I'm not taking no for an answer." 

Theo sighed, leaving the coins on the table. He knew she would feel offended if he didn't accept.

"Take care, Didia. And... don't worry too much. Everyone in this insula will keep you safe."

@Sara

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