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"I could see about finding somewhere that's nice and cosy and too small for anything bigger than oh, about four people to get drunk in, domine," Attis offered, privately wondering whether Longinus even knew that many people out here to invite to anything. Anyway, who said anything about 'we'? Hosting a party was left to the free people, which Attis wasn't, and Longinus knew enough about social gatherings to be aware of that.

It was flattering, though, in its own way, that his master didn't always equate him with the furniture.

"You haven't come out with a retinue, they're hardly likely to be impressed with just me," he added. He could see about hiring slaves, too - they'd need at least a cook, unless his master planned on eating out every single day. It'd give him someone to boss around, too, and he was somewhat cheered by the prospect. Though, knowing his master, they would eat out every day and Attis was all the household Longinus wanted to have around him.

"Some sort of unmarried men's get-together, perhaps, domine?" he said in reply to his master's question. There had to be some half-decent wine to be found around here, anyway.

 

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Longinus grinned, "You impress everybody, you're the famous Attis." Scorned by other slaves for the freedoms he was afforded by his lenient and irreverent master, and the recipient of confused glances by said masters friends. Ah well, Longinus didn't care. Attis was infinitely better company than his previous body slave, and what was the point in having some meek, dull yes-man? If Longinus wanted that, he'd just buy a table or a chest for his clothes. 

"And you don't think that sounds...sad?" He scoffed. All the unmarried men he knew out here were in their fifties or sixties and widowers. Hardly the recipe for a fun night. "It's a short step from 'unmarried mens get-together' to starting an 'I hate women' club," he chuckled and shooed the owner away as he delivered some bread and other assorted snacks which he hadn't requested. He gestured for Attis to eat as he picked at a crust of bread, "No, it needs to be a proper party - women and everything. But I do need a more fun story as to why I was left at the altar." He shrugged, and felt bitterness descend again but tried to shake it off.

 

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"How many of your friends out here even know you were supposed to be getting married again, domine?" Attis enquired, speaking more gently than he was accustomed to, but seeing the warning signs of the return of his master's recent bitterness and anger. "You probably don't even need an excuse at all."

He'd run interference for his master if he needed to, of course - though that would be  a sight easier to do if he had Felix and Tranquillus to help out, but of course they were back in Rome with their own masters. He couldn't help wondering if Tranquillus had managed to lose his virginity to Florus yet, or if that particular activity was going to see them both combust from sheer embarrassment.

He helped himself to some bread and olives once given permission, although it didn't look as if Longinus was going to do much more than nibble at anything.

"If the women get too nosy, you're still in mourning for my mistress," he suggested. Calling her by her name when Longinus was in this mood would be to skirt indiscretion too closely, even for Attis. Even if the people around them couldn't speak Latin - and there was no guarantee of that in this city, not when Latin was the language of business anywhere west of here.

"You don't have to have any sort of party at all," he added, dipping a piece of bread into the olive oil thoughtfully provided along with everything else on the table.

 

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Longinus arched a brow at his body slave, and murmured; "I'm still mourning for Antonia, but was happily planning a wedding a few months ago?" He shrugged, "But it's passable I suppose. We could't agree the dowry, and I thought the match unsuitable as I wasn't finished grieving." Maybe he wasn't? What had happened with Sestia had been so quick, he'd been swept up in a way that felt familiar and comfortable (he hated indecision), but perhaps he had been pushing back the grief of losing his wife and trying to cover it with the liaison? He couldn't be sure he loved his late wife, but her presence had been familiar and easy - even in their frequent, heated arguments.

Attis could be very sage when it suited him, Longinus mused. 

He managed a chuckle at his slave's last statement though and quirked up an eyebrow; "Ah to be a slave and not have to worry about social niceties." Not that Longinus himself was famed for adhering to them, but that was besides the point. "I can't not invite them over if I'm here; they were friends of my Fathers, and connections we need to maintain now the familia is dwindling." Not for the first time he loathed the fact that he had, had to shoulder the burden of paterfamilias of the gens in his twenties. Even in is thirties he often felt it was a calling too high for himself. "But we can do something small." He nodded sagely, "And I'll try and convince them to invite their children so there's at least some young people there." 

 

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"I don't know, domine, I'm just trying to help," Attis said, and couldn't help rolling his eyes. "Being a slave isn't exactly a bundle of laughs, you know." He shrugged; Longinus was a good master, on the whole. He'd never punished Attis just because he wanted to and the one time he had punished him, he'd just sent his slave to his friend's house. Even Sulpicius Rufus wasn't bad, although he and Attis would never be exactly friends.

"I'd suggest inviting them for dinner, but I can't cook. Do you want me to see about hiring a couple of slaves for the time we're here, domine?"

 

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"You can cook better than I can." He snorted in amusement. That fateful Saturnalia feast after Antonia died where he had cooked and given half the household food poisoning came to mind. But he wasn't too blame! Nobody had told him chicken shouldn't be pink! 

Nonetheless he nodded, and briefly studied Attis. "A cook, and a couple to help you tidy so you can enjoy your time here, at least a little." Longinus knew he was demanding of his men and his slaves; his personality meant that there was always something to do. He also knew that Attis' time with Titus was hardly going to have been a relaxing break away from his usual domus. The man deserved a little rest; no point working a slave to misery, they'd only work worse for it. 

"But not too cheap, or expensive!" He wagged a finger in his slaves direction.

 

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"Pardon me for saying so, but that's not saying very much," Attis said, wincing at the memory of that Saturnalia.

A couple of decent middle-of-the-road slaves, then. It would be nice to have some time to enjoy himself while they were here; he hadn't expected that he'd be allowed much time to himself, though he'd hoped he might have an afternoon or two.

"I'll see what I can get," he said, ignoring the wagging finger in favour of tearing off another piece of bread. He pushed the rest of the loaf across to his master.

"I don't know how you're not hungry after the ride up from Piraeus, domine," he said neutrally. He'd suspect that the heat was getting to him except Longinus had gone round the twist years ago. Not that he was ever going to say that; even Longinus wouldn't stand for it and would probably whip the flesh from Attis' back personally.

"Do you want me to start looking for somewhere to stay this afternoon?" Or would they find a room somewhere and set up lodgings tomorrow?

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He shrugged and pushed the loaf back towards Attis. "You know I don't need much." He did, but he ate in the evenings - when all of his energy was suitably burned off and he suddenly became ravenous. But even those bouts of startling hunger had waned in the months since Sestia's disappearance. He had been just as active as always with his swims and runs and such, but had little to no appetite. It showed on him, and the thought made him swallow and reluctantly tear off a corner of the bread. She'd had his mind, he'd be damned if she took his physical health as well.

"You might as well," He commented as he swallowed the bread and took a sip of wine to wash it down. "I'll go for a wander," And my wander, he meant he'd walkk around aimlessly until he found something that piqued his interest. "No point staying in a taverna where we'll end up bitten to death by fleas when you could source us a villa fit for an Emperor so easily." He chuckled as he leant back in his chair. "It almost makes me think I should come with you so I can see the art of the deal." 

 

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"The secret is, domine, not to let people think that your master's too rich," Attis replied, tearing off another chunk of bread. "I mean, you want to be rich enough that we don't end up in a hovel, but you're definitely not a senator or anything like one, at least not to the landlord."

He wasn't sure where they'd meet back up but figured that once he'd got the place (wherever it was) the forum - agora - would be a good place to hang around, at least to start with.

"Or you could come with me," he added thoughtfully, speaking around the mouthful before swallowing. It'd keep his master out of trouble and they'd both be able to keep track of one another, though Attis found that he was looking forward to having an hour or two to himself during their stay here. He mentally ran down the list of requirements - somewhere with its own equipped kitchen, room for two or three other slaves, that wasn't so huge they'd rattle around like a pair of dice in a gambler's dice-cup... Having Longinus come along might cramp his style but it'd be better than letting his master find another popina and crawl into an amphora or two of wine.

Not that he seemed particularly apt to do that right now - he seemed to be in a better mood than he had for at least the last few weeks.

 

@Sara

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Longinus chuckled into his wine. "You sound like you've done this before," He said with a quirked brow, "Which other Senator have you been working for on the sly?" He studied his slave for a moment before shaking his head. He was more than positive any other master would have rebuked a slave for stating things in such a way; 'you could come with me' - as if where Attis went or what he did wasn't dictated by Longinus himself. For all his faults, however, Longinus merely found it amusing more than anything. 

"No, no, you do your thing." He waved a hand at his slave. "We'll go to their Forum, and I'll meet you back there...at some point. We can leave our bags here I'm sure." The man behind the counter seemed willing to bend over backwards for them judging by the way he hovered just out of reach. "Unless you'd like to carry them round all day, of course." He grinned in challenge. He might have been lenient and willing to pitch in, but even he had his limits and he was not going to lug around his bag with him all day unless absolutely forced to...

 

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"Me, domine? The only other Senator I've been unfortunate enough to work for recently is the one you know about." But he had spoken to Tranquillus about things other than his infatuation with Florus, and received some advice of his own, that backed up some of his own experiences with Longinus - not that Longinus would likely recall that Attis had negotiated lodgings before. Just not a nice house for as long as his master was going to spend in Greece.

There was nothing of any real value in Attis' belongings - he kept his valuables on him and his most precious possessions he'd entrusted to Metella. He still had misgivings about leaving the rest of his things anywhere, even if they were technically Longinus' belongings. He would only be encumbered by the bags if he insisted on taking them with them - he was pretty sure Longinus would ensure that Attis got both if Attis refused to leave them here.

"Yes, domine," he said. He'd have to figure out which was the best area of the city and see if he could find somewhere suitable. Jupiter knew how long any of that would take, especially with a language barrier to deal with, too. "Anywhere in particular in their Forum?" he asked, thinking that it was probably at least as crowded as the Forum Romanum back home.

 

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Longinus rolled his eyes, "I don't know - I've never been to their bloody Forum. How am I supposed to know where to meet?" He arched a brow. For a man Longinus rated as fairly intelligent, Attis certainly sometimes had his dunce moments. He rolled his eyes and threw a few coins on the table from a pouch at his waist and then stood. He wasn't somebody that enjoyed sitting still for long. Attis, after so many years in his service was probably acutely aware of that, and maybe sensed that his dominus was getting restless. 

The owner flustered over with a surprised look on his face and Longinus waved him off, "It was fine, we just have other places to be." The man looked a little crestfallen as Longinus heaved his own bag over his shoulder and without another sip of wine or a bite of bread, strode from the establishment leaving the man blinking behind him. His eyes took a moment to adjust to the sunlight and he stumbled a little before moving to stand in the path of a merchant of some description. He asked, in Greek, 'which way to the Forum' and received a blank response (and a muttered insult about Romans) before the man reluctantly explained the route. 

With a  grin, Longinus glanced over his shoulder - expecting Attis to be there. "And we're off." He exclaimed with a  smile.

 

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Attis didn't know why he'd thought Longinus might have been here before, but there they were, he hadn't. And after suggesting they might leave their baggage here, Longinus had picked his bag up and left some coins on the table to cover their food and drink before heading back out into the sunlight again. Attis hastily shouldered his own bag and followed - not a moment too soon, as he intercepted the glance Longinus threw over his shoulder.

At least that was a smile on his master's face, where there hadn't been a smile in far too long.

"It seems so, Domine," he said, settling his own bag more comfortably on his shoulder as he prepared to follow his master to the central area of this ancient city. He could only hope that it would be easier to find his way around Athens that it was to find his way around Rome, once he was cut loose to find them somewhere to stay.

 

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"You could sound more excited, you're on holiday!" Well. He was still working, but Longinus wasn't known to drive his slaves too hard and he was sure Attis would find himself with an afternoon or two free to explore and enjoy the city on his own terms. 

Longinus set off at what was a casual pace for him, but given his longer legs, Attis might have had to hurry to keep up. The streets were busy with the same sought of smells and sights and sounds as Rome and Longinus had to weave his frame through the crowds as they walked. His energy was up though, after weeks of being so morose it was good to have a bit of lightness seeping back in again. He walked in silence, but his shoulders were pulled back and a gentle, easy smile was on his lips. He wasn't the shell he'd been when his body slave was returned to him at Formiae. 

It took a good few minutes until they came down the side of the Aeropagus' hill and into the Agora. It was bustling with life (Longinus' sense of time had been warped by the journey but he supposed it was only midday!) and busy. He blinked and then glanced behind him at Attis. "You don't need to worry about me, there's plenty to keep me entertained." He jerked his head at the Temple of Ares, which he was obviously going to visit. "I'll meet you there in an hour or so, so I can see what your negotiating skills have landed us?" In terms of both slaves and accommodation. 

 

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"Yay, I'm on holiday." Attis's voice was flat, but there was a grin on his face, should his master turn to look. Longinus was on holiday, Attis was a slave and unlikely to get much of a holiday at all, though he might get an entire afternoon off if Longinus was feeling particularly generous, or lethargic.

An hour? Finding a decent place to hole up for their stay, plus a couple of slaves, was going to take more than an hour - Attis didn't think that hours here were much different in length to hours in Rome, but he could stretch a point. And at least they had a meeting place now.

"I'll see what I can do, Domine," he said cheerfully and went to see what he could do.

What he could do, in the end, took half as long again as he'd been given, but secured a nice house with a garden, a half-decent kitchen that was supplied with its own pots and pans, with a fountain a mere few yards up the street. The slaves included an older woman that the hiring agent said was a decent cook (though Attis hadn't taken him at his word but had asked the other slaves; hiring agents couldn't ever be trusted!), a man for the heavy lifting and general work and a teenage boy for other housework and running errands.

Attis had moved them into the house and gone to find his master but not before ducking his head in the aforementioned fountain.

 

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Longinus hadn't noticed Attis was late. He begrudgingly admitted that perhaps Athens wasn't quite so bad as he had set foot inside the Temple of Ares. A local had elucidated  that it was one of many temples that had been remade since Rome had taken Greece, with a slightly morose tone in his voice. Longinus didn't understand why - it was an impressive building, even if it was crammed with stallholders and those seeking to rob tourists blind, and contended himself that the Romans (as always) had made it better rather than worse. He had given an offering, and spent a long time (for him) crafting a prayer of sorts which focused primarily on Ares giving him a reason to leave Rome. Surely they were due a war? And surely he could try and blag a way into leading a legion in said war? He'd leave it in Ares' capable hands. 

He'd taken his leisure on the temple steps after his musing, simply enjoying the sunshine for a moment or few until Attis appeared in his field of vision and he jumped to his feet with surprising grace. "Took you long enough." He commented brandy, echoing his friend Titus' morose tone, before grinning and arching a brow. "What are we looking at then?" He made his way down the steps to join Attis, heaving his bag on his shoulder. "Some grand palace? Forty beautiful Greek slaves to cater to my every whim?" 

 

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"There you are, master!" From the way his master sprang to his feet, it seemed that his good mood hadn't deserted him quite yet, which was a good thing. "I'm good but I leave miracle-working to the gods, I'm only a lowly slave, and it would have been a hovel if I hadn't taken as long over it as I did. Palaces are in short supply around here - something to do with being a democracy, I think. But it should suit you, and I left it stuffed to the rafters with beautiful Greeks of all descriptions, one for every night of your stay, and two for the Kalends."

He held his hand out, expecting to be dumped with the bag Longinus was still carrying. If he'd known that all it would take to restore his master's good humour would have been a fall from a horse, he would have done it months ago.

 

@Sara

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---

It had been three days since they'd arrived in Greece and Longinus was settling in better than expected. The house was nice, surprisingly so (Attis really was worth his weight in gold) and the slaves were well trained and largely unobtrusive. It did, for a moment, make him question why he put so much stock in Germanian, Dacian and British slves when Greeks were obviously so superior. Probably the prohibitive cost, really. Even the richest men in Rome didn't stock their houses with purebred Greek slaves lest they wish to go bankrupt. 

He'd taken in the sights and found a gymnasia that suited him. He'd even found a pretty young Greek woman who, at this very moment, was re-dressing herself and ducking out of the house via the slave's entrance as he took his leisure in the gardens. The sun was warm this morning, but not unbearably so given it was only a little after sunrise and he was utterly content. He had no plans until the evening, when some of his fathers friends were due to arrive for a reminisce. Not that he could really partake, given he was a good twenty years younger than them all and hadn't any of the complaints of later middle-age. 

He saw a shadow to his right and peered with squinted eyes. "Spying, Attis?" 

 

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Attis scrambled to his feet at the sound of his master's voice. He was habitually an early riser (something about being a slave to a military officer, probably!) and had come out to enjoy the early morning before everyone was awake, though there were clattering sounds coming from the direction of the kitchen.

"No, domine - should I? I mean, I can if you want me to!"

He didn't think his master had any plans for today, not until later, and the young woman he'd found was already making her exit. She surely didn't have to, not so early - Longinus could probably spend another hour or so with her without the world falling apart. 

"Did you want me for something, domine?"

 

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Longinus chortled. "Not unless you want to make a name for yourself as a creep that peeps at people sleeping, no, I don't want you to spy." He moved his legs to rest on a table (that was probably too expensive to be used as a footstool) and stifled a yawn. He was a naturally very early riser, requiring little to no sleep before he was ready for his day. His mother had always chided him that one day he'd crash and burn, but he'd gone thirty-six years like this thus far with limited ill effects. 

"Am I not allowed to ask for conversation?" He quirked his eyebrow with a smug grin, "Have you other, more important things to be doing?"

He liked Attis, he was good company in every respect although the two of them rarely talked as friends (quite rightly), he was in a relaxed mood this morning and decided to humour him. "Did I ever confirm what days you could have off, by the way?" 

 

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Attis dropped into a squat by Longinus' feet. "Of course you're allowed to ask for a conversation, domine," he said. "Or anything else at all, for that matter." He didn't need Attis to tell him that, they were both products of the same society, though at vastly different ends of the social spectrum. Longinus was entitled to make any use of Attis that he wished, from mere conversation to slaking his needs in bed. 

"And no, you didn't, domine," he added in response to the next question. Days off had been mentioned, but Attis knew better than to push and hadn't raised the topic again. He was still a little wary after the past several weeks of dealing with Longinus' sadness and uncertain temper. 

 

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Longinus quirked a brow. “Was that a veiled suggestion that you’re annoyed about Lutatia in there taking your place?” He jerked his head in the direction of his bedroom where the young woman who he had left sleeping, had already left. “She’s sweet, I’m sure if you spoke to her you’d get over your petty jealously.” He grinned, jesting. He’d met the twenty-something in one of the many bars in Athens, and spirited her away for an evening. They’d made tentative plans to see one another again, but he was utterly unawares that she’d already left without a goodbye.

He gestured that Attis could take a seat on the bench.

“Oh. I could have sworn I did.” He frowned and shook his head, “Well, how about tomorrow? I’ll need you today for the prep for our guests, but tomorrow you can enjoy Athens and all it’s delights solo. I won’t expect you back until the morning.”

 

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Attis was not slow in taking the offered seat, aware that it was very few slaves who could ever claim to be privileged enough to be allowed to seat themselves on the same level as their masters. 

"I've got Metella back home, domine, she's all the girl I need." She'd probably rip his balls off and feed them to him if she learned he'd been spreading his favours around in Greece while she was stuck back in Italia. "And no, it wasn't. I mean, we both know you can, and we both like it well enough, but if you want a girl, who am I to argue about it?"

A day and night to himself in Athens... Well, he might find himself a cute young man to spend the night with, and then again, he might be back here before sunset. "Thank you, domine."

He didn't think there was much left to organise, though there was probably a whole lot of furniture to rearrange and his master's nerves to soothe - not that Lucius Cassius Longinus was exactly a nervy type of person, even when it came to hosting a dinner party. 

 

@Sara

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"Ah yes, the lovely Metella." He grinned. "Both of you are as bad as one another." He chuckled and arched his brows, "I hold her partly responsible for the outburst that got you shipped off to Titus' - you trying to impress her, act the big man." He was only joking really. Metella was a good woman, and the perfect encapsulation of a fiery Brit. He was surprised she'd suited slavery so well, really, all things considered.

"And no need to be jealous," He shrugged, "Variety is the spice of life." And Attis knew full well that Longinus enjoyed him, "And she was nice enough in a...Greek sort of way. Besides, the alternative if I want a woman is to go to a brothel which...eh," He shrugged, "Or find a slavegirl. And much as I do like the charming Metella," He grinned, "I think she'd eat me alive." That was the nicest way of putting it that he had absolutely zero attraction to the redhead. Undeniably she was attractive but Longinus had seen her grow up and there was something inherently...creepy about it. Besides, he was sure that was reciprocated and whilst there was absolutely no need to feel bad about a slave not enjoying sex, it didn't really...get him going if that was the case. 

"You could try and sound more enthused." He arched a brow, but wasn't chastising his slave, only jesting, "What are you going to do with your day off?" 

 

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"Hey! I'm at least twice as bad as Metella is, domine," Attis protested. "And it wasn't her fault. I wasn't awake and Vitus was trying to get you to sign something - probably something important, too. Like a request for a shipment of papyrus from Egypt for all the paperwork he needs, or something." He shrugged. "I don't think Titus Sulpicius Rufus likes me."

Though he'd been nice enough to let Attis have a day off, which he'd spent with a paintbrush and paint, leaving messages around in various areas of Rome that he knew Metella frequented. If she couldn't read them, other people in the household could and would have let her know Attis was all right.

"You want me to sound enthusiastic about Metella eating you alive, domine?" he said, putting on a puzzled tone. "If you insist... though I don't think she's as much of a savage as that. Cassia might appreciate it, though she'd probably prefer it if we sacrificed a gladiator or two." He shrugged. "I don't know. I've only just been given a day off and I've never been to Greece." Neither master nor slave were particularly big on the cultural sights. Anyway, Attis would see everything his master did, and would rather not do all the same stuff on his own that he was bound to do following his master around the city.

 

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