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"You don't think I could beat a gladiator?" He arched a brow, amused and quizzical at the same time. He prided himself on his athleticism, but he supposed that he'd never really considered that when the chips were down, would he be any good squaring off against men who spent their lives in the arena. Well that was a depressing thought. "Or did you mean we should just host a tournament just for Cassia?" Maybe then his daughter might show him some other emotion than thinly veiled caution and resentment. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. 

"Gods your enthusiasm Attis..." He snorted, "When you're a freeman, don't ever go into the tourism industry. You'll get tourists turning up expecting a tour of Rome, meeting you with all your wit and misery and they'll be jumping off the Tarp by the end of the afternoon." He glanced at his body slave with curiosity. He supposed he never really considered that being a slave meant being unsure of what to do with free time when it was presented. Longinus himself was busy - either in his career in the military, or just as citizen with clients and family matters (and thinly disguised business ventures with plebs and freedmen running the show). But that didn't prevent him from having hobbies; exercise and fitness, music and more recently - reading. It was a habit he'd picked up to seem more cultured to Sestia, and had managed to stick with it. 

"You don't...have any hobbies you want to do whilst you're here...?" Probably a stupid question.

 

TAG: @Sharpie

Psst - Longinus' daughter is Cassia, Tertius' is Antonia!

 

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Attis looked confused. "You mentioned that Metella would eat you alive, I said that she wasn't so much of a savage but Cassia might appreciate it, except she'd probably prefer a gladiator to you... I think someone got confused somewhere, domine."

Longinus had got confused, but it was more politic for Attis to take the blame. Wasn't that what slaves were there for, after all?

"I think you could probably beat a gladiator. They're trained to make it showy, the legions train you to make it quick and effective."

They'd never find out, though - even Longinus wouldn't risk attracting that sort of infamia!

"I could give a properly informed tour of Rome, domine, but this isn't Rome." He let out a silent sigh. "I don't have any hobbies, never mind any I want to do here."

Sleeping would be a good one, though, if it wouldn't lead to a lot of shouting and wearing about lazy incorrigible good-for-nothing slaves. Two out of three, Attis would allow, but he was damned if he'd let anyone attach the label 'lazy' to him with any truth.

"And no, I don't want to make a tour of the brothels, either, domine," he added, squashing that idea before his master could voice it.

 

@Sara

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He glanced across at his slave. He supposed he'd never considered that slaves spent their whole lives in an endless cycle of sleep - eat - work with no capacity to do anything else. Longinus himself wasn't known for the hobbies of the elite; he found it difficult to concentrate on reading and the like, but he did have a passion for fitness and exerting himself which he liked to indulge every day. He narrowed his eyes at Attis. "Then you better find a hobby or two, I'll not stand an uncultured slave." He gave a smug, triumphant grin in his body slaves direction. 

That smug grin morphed into a wry smile and a snicker at Attis' remarks about brothels and his brows rose up on his forehead. "Who said anything about brothels, Attis?" He smirked, "You've got a filthy mind Attis, that's your problem. Obviously you've picked up this disgusting attitude from Titus Sulpicius Rufus' home and I shall write to him immediately and alert him to his corrupting influence, and the fact that his domus is a den of depravity. Or maybe I'll just graffiti it when I'm back." 

He ran his hand through his hair to push it out of his forehead, "Unless you want to go all out and don my clothes. See what the finer ladies and gents of Greece get up to in their brothels." 

 

TAG: @Sharpie

 

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Well, if Longinus wanted to trade Attis in for a more cultured model, he was in the perfect place to do it - all the best educated and most cultured slaves came from Greece.

"I'll spend my day off wandering around the forum gawping at temples, then, domine. I might get a bit of culture then," he said,very carefully not pointing out what he'd just been thinking about. 

"I just said I wasn't going to go and waste my time and money in a brothel. Who knows what I'd catch there, after all." If he hadn't mentioned brothels, it was ten to one that his master would have. Attis had just got there first.

"I couldn't fake my way as a patrician anywhere, anyway," he added. "They'd start rattling things off in Greek expecting all that culture you want me to have, and I can barely say I'm looking for a wine shop."

 

@Sara

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"Yeah." Longinus wrinkled his nose, "Knowing the sorts of places you'd end up," or could afford, "Your cock will rot off within a week. Probably best to steer clear and start chatting up the local girls for some entertainment instead." As Longinus himself had done with his overnight visitor. Though he suspected he was probably a better catch than poor Attis...what with you know, being rich and free and the like. 

He grinned and nudged his slave with a sandalled foot, "I'd teach you if you want? It's not that hard," And he'd only end up teaching Attis some swear words or horribly offensive phrases to use and embarrass himself. "Easier than Brittonic was. And more useful too - I haven't used the latter at all since I left, besides to chat to your beloved Metella when she's being gloomy and won't tell me why." 

 

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"Let me guess...  that was while I was away enjoying your friend's hospitality, domine?" And if Longinus couldn't have guessed why Metella was gloomy at that point, he was more dense than Attis thought. 

"Swearing in Greek, how very cultured. I just need to remember to swear to Zeus not Jupiter when I stub my toe, or weep to Aphrodite rather than Venus when I get snubbed by the girl next door." Attis knew his master too well. "Asking for a cup of wine at a popina would be my preferred language lesson, but as it please my master."

 

@Sara

 

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Longinus arched a brow and retorted with a stony expression, the smile wiped from his face; "No. I had rather enough to be dealing with whilst you were away, so didn't have the time to enquire about my slaves moods." The muscles in his jaw worked as he tried to stop himself from snapping any worse. He oftentimes found it difficult to control his moods - but that, in the past, had never been much of a problem because he was rarely miserable or irate. But that was no longer the case, not since what had happened

Exhaling sharply  through his nose, he waved a hand to try and brush over Attis' misspeak; "But no, maybe you should brittonic rather than Greek, to impress her." He smirked. "But if you do want to learn how to ask for wine in a popina it's Thélo...na...gamíso...ti...mitéra...sou.1" He said slowly, spelling out each word very carefully. He hid his smirk in his cup. That'd teach Attis for souring his mood.

 

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1 "I want to fuck your mother" in modern Greek (according to Google Translate).

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Jupiter's cock! Attis had screwed up by just simply mentioning that period of time, and screwed up badly, judging by the  suddenly stony expression on his master's face.

Never mind that his master was the one to bring the topic of Metella's moods up in the first place. Attis was the slave, Attis had screwed up. Quod erat demonstrandum, legatus1.

"Thelo na gamiso ti mitera sou," he parroted obediently. It probably meant something like "I like screwing boys", or worse, but he'd play along for now, if it'd improve his master's temper.

If anything could improve his master's temper. At least Longinus wasn't the sort to lash out physically at his slaves - one small mercy, for which Attis was grateful.

"Apologies, domine," he said, firmly resolving never to mention that particular period again even jokingly. Not if he wanted to come out of this with his skin intact - Titus Sulpicius Rufus being a very long way away from where they both were, Longinus probably would resort to the lash if he needed to punish Attis while they were out here.

 

@Sara

 

1. "Which was to be proved, legate."

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Attis looked stupidly mortified. Good. Longinus didn't take pleasure in getting irate, or snapping at his long-serving companion, but his tempers and irritability had become worse as of late. Both because of Sestia and, he suspected, from idleness.

It had been a couple of years now since he had returned from Britannia and he was itching for something else to do. He didn't suffer boredom well, and after the failed his engagement, the vague hope he had for a Praetorship had diminished. What was the point? He'd be terrible at it - or at least, not very good if not terrible, and he wouldn't enjoy it. He also now didn't have the Pronconsul of Africa to vouch for him as a son-in-law, in fact, he suspected Caesar might get a very strongly worded letter from him should he attempt to run. He exhaled sharply through his nose. 

"Don't worry about it." He mumbled, irritated and waved a hand to try and brush off his annoyance. He flicked his eyes across to his body slave and studied him for a moment and then dove head first into a conversation he really shouldn't be even thinking of; "Have you heard about the trouble in Judea?" He queried. He'd only heard rumours himself, but rumours led to fractiousness and could escalate at any given moment. "I've been thinking of asking the Emperor for another commission." 

 

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Attis blinked at the sudden change of topic. "Judea? No."

Judea was at least warmer than Britannia, and its inhabitants just as irritated at Roman presence there.

"Is it true they only have one god? Poor things."

Longinus would doubtless enlighten him as to what sort of trouble was going on out there, and whether the Emperor would or would not send him out to help quell it. "Um. Don't you need to have been a Praetor to get a governorship somewhere, though, domine?"

Attis was not entirely clear on the whole cursus honorum and what it entailed, and what positions elsewhere depended on political posts in Rome and everything else that went along with it, but he thought there was some sort of limitation or something. Although if the Emperor liked you, perhaps it didn't matter so much. Whether Quintus Caesar liked Lucius Cassius Longinus enough to offer him that sort of post remained to be seen.

 

@Sara

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Posted prematurely!
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"Yep, just the one. So bloody boring. And how do they get anything done?" The entire Roman pantheon didn't look down on every single person but there were enough of them to grant favour to certain endeavours of certain people. One God, dealing with everything, must have been unimaginably busy. 

Attis, as always, had a way of cheering him up. Even if the reason he laughed was slightly sad. "No, you dolt. I meant as a legate, again." If a praetorship was out of his reach, then a propraetorship most certainly was. Let alone anything more important than that. "Plenty of men get stuck on he curses honorum at one rung or another, and if I get stuck here then..." He shrugged and sipped his wine, despondency setting in again, "So be it I suppose. It beats sitting at Rome, listening to my mother and seeing clients. That gets old, very very fast." 

 

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Attis scuffed the dirt in front of him with the toe of his sandal. "You don't have to get stuck at legate though, do you? I mean..."

His master was good at the legate thing, and soldiering made him happy, but if he wanted more than that, surely he could get it? He had friends who could put in a good word for him with the Emperor, and surely the Emperor himself wanted good people to be praetors and consuls and aediles and everything else.

This second sort of sadness seemed somehow more profound than before, and Attis was at a loss as to what he could do to help. Being only a slave and all, probably nothing of any substance.

 

@Sara

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"Do you think I'd be any good as a Praetor though?" He scoffed and shook his head with an easy smile. "And you can be honest." He cautioned as well. He didn't have Attis around as a simple yes man, his body slave was more valuable than that and despite no formal schooling, was remarkably bright. 

"And what are my chances? I have friends who'd put in a good word, but those friends also have ambitions. Look at Titus," He corrected himself, "Sulpicius Rufus. His brothers been a consul, he has the very image of the perfect family which always goes down well, he's friends with all the same people I am and he's well..." Longinus shrugged, "Probably brighter than me. He'd do a better job, and that's a fact, isn't it. I have no interest in losing a race and being forever known as; 'Lucius the loser' or some other inane nickname." He chuckled.

 

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"I don't see why not," Attis replied. "What is it about being a legate that you like so much, anyway? I mean, Britannia is just cold, grey and wet so it can't be that." 

He thought his master could be good at being a Praetor, but if he didn't want to, that was different. 

"Would you really be happy at being only a legate for years, domine?" He thought his master was perfectly clever enough to do whatever he wanted, and thought that if he went on as he seemed to be going to, he'd get to a point in the future where he might wish he'd sought a Praetorship now.

 

@Sara

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"Because I'm good at it." He shrugged and then continued, elaborating, "And I'm not good at plenty of other things so when I found something I both could excel in, and actually enjoyed..." He shrugged, "And I think it's the responsibility and the risk. You meet a lot of men, my last Tribune was a good example, who have studied all the wars that have ever been fought and meticulously planned raids and attacks based off of history - they had no sense, no feel for the war on the day or what the changing weather would do, or the risks or benefits of trying something new..." He sighed, he was rambling, "But I enjoy it, love it. I can make a decision and if it pays off, we could shut down a whole half of their army in a morning. And the fame and the spoils don't hurt either." He chuckled.

He had an intuition for soldiering, if truth be told - a natural skill that he'd honed, of course, but one that that didn't apply to doing magistracy as a Praetor. Attis raised a good question though and he bit the inside of his cheek as he thought of his answer. "I think I would. I'd love it. If it was just me but..." He swallowed, "I promised I'd be there more for Cassia now she's getting older. I was gone for years of her life and..." He groaned and sunk down lower in his chair, "The Cassi-Longinii are a small bunch and if I don't have a son it gets a whole lot smaller. So I need to consider my next move on that at some point. And fucking off to Judea isn't particularly conducive to having a son, I suppose." 

 

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Attis got up and went to stand behind his master to give his shoulders and neck a massage - or as much of one as he could. 

"I know I don't know everything about it all," he said after a moment. "But you could adopt, and pass it on that way, couldn't you? It's been done before." 

He thought it had, anyway, there were all sorts of stories and things about people adopting, or being adopted, into other families and for all sorts of reasons. 

It would mean he wouldn't have to think about marrying again, too. Attis didn't think his master could deal with that subject with any equanimity right now, not after the mess with Sestia. Or whatever her name was.

 

@Sara

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"I could." He shrugged, "Know any men wanting to give up their sons?" He arched a brow, a sardonic look crossing his face.  Attis' sarcasm was evidently catching. 

"But it wouldn't be the same, would it?" He sighed and sunk lower in his seat, "I know, I know," He waved a pre-emptive hand, "That I've been a terrible father to Cassia. I abandoned her, and her mother because I couldn't hack it at home and found it mind-numbing, but it's a source of pride - having children, having sons particularly. You wouldn't necessarily understand." And he didn't mean that cruelly, just as a fact. Any children Attis had now would legally be slaves and so it was no wonder he'd be reticent. Any sons Longinus had would inherit a fortune and a name that stretched back hundreds of years. "Men have sons, they've always been desperate for them and always will be. I guess I'm no different." He shrugged. 

It was just a shame that there was such a shortage of appropriate women for him, and any that were appropriate, he just couldn't face. Not so soon after...everything.

 

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"You know more history than I do, domine," Attis said, finding a particularly tight spot in his master's neck. "It'd be a surer way of doing than finding a woman and hoping she'll have a son who'll survive to grow up."

But what did he know? He had no intention of fathering any children yet, on Metella or anyone else - the only women he had any chance of actually sleeping with were slaves and that meant their children would be slaves too. He didn't particularly want that.

"Maybe you've been away too long if you can't think of anyone who'd give a younger son a chance to be adopted into the Cassii-Longini. Or can't come up with the name of any women you might want to marry, who's not going to do some moonlight flit." He worked at the knot. "I thought you'd come here to have a break from thinking about all that, though?"

 

@Sara

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He chuckled. Attis certainly had a way with words, and he was right - as he often was. Although Longinus begrudged admitting it. "I did come here for a break from all that, but it's hard not to dwell. I know as soon as I get back I'll had etc start thinking about it, so I'd rather go into it with a plan." 

He shrugged his shoulders as Attis worked on them and stifled a yawn behind a clenched fist. "I'm not giving up on meeting the right woman," He continued, "But it has to be the right woman and done the right way. I'm not having another failed marriage or engagement on my name." He sighed, "But I suppose you're right. I can speak to some of my equite clients - maybe raise one of their boys up. And if I have a natural son, then great, the adopted one gets bumped down the pecking order a bit." He said, not considering how that would hurt said hypothetical adopted son. 

"But we'll see. Life would be a lot easier if you could get pregnant and I could free your kid." 

 

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"If you're that desperate, you could do that if Metella gets pregnant?" he suggested lightly. "Otherwise, we're back to thinking who has a suitable daughter of marriageable age - or who will be of marriageable age soon. And it couldn't hurt to think of someone you could adopt. Just in case you need some sort of backup plan."

But they didn't have to think of things like that right now. 

"Suppose none of the gods round here are worth bothering, to ask for their help?" he added, shifting his attention to his master's other side.

 

@Sara

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Longinus spluttered and coughed at Attis' suggestion. "Are you suggesting you get her pregnant and I adopt your spawn, or you want me to bed her?" He twisted his body to glance over his shoulder and up at his body slave, "Because if it's the former, I don't need an acid tongued son thank you very much and if it's the latter, no thank you." He chuckled. 

"We found her - or my men did - when she was twelve, hiding in the wilds of Britannia. She's grown up in my household so to think of her in that way..." He wrinkled his nose. Longinus was far from a prude, but there was something inherently iffy about considering somebody like Metella as a bedmate when he'd known her as a girl. "And for a similar reason, better to be looking for a bride in her twenties. A divorcee, perhaps, for a bit of a scandalous flair." He chuckled. He had absolutely no interest whatsoever over having a teenager as a wife. It just felt...odd. 

He shrugged into Attis' hands, "Maybe. They must have a temple to Eros somewhere. You can go as well, ask for the lovely Metella to finally give into your nags of marriage." 

 

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"Acid tongued?" Attis couldn't help it if his eyebrows tried to meet his hairline, and at least his master wasn't looking at him at the moment. "I might be gifted in sarcasm, but I wouldn't dare try anything more than that, and I'd hope any son of mine had the same good sense. And if not Metella, then you could try one of your friends' slavegirls, or even a pleb - you don't have to marry someone of your own class, do you? If the girl's a citizen."

Half the Senate were plebeians, Attis was sure of it. There weren't enough of the old patrician families left in Rome to fill a soldier's tent.

He wasn't about to say as much, but he could see the humour in his situation with Metella. Most girls would be the ones trying to persuade the man into marriage, and here he was with the complete opposite issue. The gods must surely be laughing at him for it.

 

@Sara

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Longinus chortled. "Have you met my friends slavegirls?" He queried, "Between Aulus' stony faced lot and Titus' Dacian's, I'd rather take my chances with the girls at the Elysium." Which was to say, he'd rather stick pins in his eyes. He sometimes frequented the Venus, but it was a rare occurrence and the calibre of men and women that they employed was a different league. Who knew what terrible diseases beset the staff at the cheap Elysium? He hoped never to find out.

"And a pleb, maybe but..." He shrugged, "I'm sure my long-deceased ancestors would have something to say about it. The family name just rests on cousin Lepidus and I, and not sure I want to bother the ghosts of the dead and have them haunt my domus because I wasn't charismatic enough to land a patrician's daughter." He chuckled. How nice it must be, to be a slave and not have to worry about the politics and drama of finding a spouse and siring an heir. 

"Titus sent me a list you know, of future spouses. Maybe I need to revisit it." He shrugged.

 

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"I didn't mean the Dacians." Attis rather thought his master would like to keep his manhood intact and he wouldn't bet on Longinus managing that if he put it anywhere near the ice queen Sulpicius Rufus had among his house slaves. He was also positive his master's long-dead ancestors would have rather more to say if the line died out completely than if Longinus did what he could to ensure he had a son.

"I don't suppose you remember who was on this list, domine," he added, moving down his master's back. Massaging was so much easier in the baths, when his master wasn't dressed and when Attis had oil to hand.

 

@Sara

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"A slew of beauties." He commented with a grin and leant forward a little so Attis could reach further down his back. "Aulus' sister, newly released from her Vestal duties featured, although I'm not convinced. Besides, if the aim is to have a son then her and the other - Quinctilia Varia - probably aren't ideal. Not that I'd say as much to Aulus or Quinctilia's brothers, mind." He was fairly sure the usually reserved Aulus might actually animate should he disrespect his sister. 

"Then a couple out of my reach, Claudia Caesaris and Caecina Tusca, and besides being out of my league, both are young enough to be my daughter which..." He wrinkled his nose, enough said. 

"The rest are fine - a couple of equite girls and Quinctilia's daughter. Titus and I went to see Tertius Quinctilius Varus about the latter, actually, but then well..." Then Sestia had come along. 

 

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