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August, 75 AD - the evening of Tricky Timing

Alexius was ready. He’d not been working much today… well not officially anyway. He did not bring home any extra coin for him and Lexus. Instead he’d lurked around the marketplace to keep an eye out for Didia, as well as having asked people about barbers and other people who’d carry around knives and flasks with scented oils. A slave from one of the brothels said there were girls at their brothel who were scared of this one patron, who always wanted to see blood before he took in their bodies to get release. But when Alexius asked the name of the brothel, they didn’t want to talk. As if they were scared. It wasn’t at all easy, this mystery!

In the evening he had a simple meal he brought back home to the insula and he told Lexus this morning he might not be home until it was dark out. Lexus wasn’t home yet while Alexius sat at his table, downing a bit of wine – a quite common thing for him to do – while he waited for Didia to show up. He was already dressed for the occasion, because when was he not? Short breeches and a thigh-long tunica and a belt that could easily be removed, so you could move easier. He wore his good boot-like sandals and had, just in case, also hidden a blade down a special sheath in said boot. Just in case.

At last there was a knock on the door in the otherwise silent flat and Alexius jumped up to answer it, expecting to find Didia outside, also ready to learn a bit about self-defense in Rome.

@Sara

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Didia waved a hand as her mother arched a brow; "And what exactly is Alexius going to be teaching you?" Didia scoffed, rolling her eyes, "To read - I've already told you." Her mothers gaze didn't waver, "And you need to be taught why, exactly? I never learnt, neither did your sister." Didia shrugged and wrapped a cloak around her shoulders, "Because sometimes Mama, people want to better themselves - and the library is apparently beautiful." She leant down to leave a kiss on her mothers cheek and then moved to leave. 

But unfortunately, her mother didn't let up and she stood with her daughter. Didia blinked as her mother swept passed her to the door, swinging it open and heading straight for Alexius' door. Shit! Didia followed hot on her heels and as her mother knocked on Alexius' door, she winced and sent a silent prayer up to the Gods that he'd a) be dressed, and b) could understand her miming. 

As the door swung open, Alexius would see a small, angry, middle-aged Hispanian woman and Didia stood behind her. Didia held up her hands and mimed reading a scrolll - out of her mothers sight. "So. Alexius. What exactly do you require my daughter for, this late in the evening?" Didia continued her mime and looked at him pleadingly. Oh please Gods, let him get it. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Alexius was at least dressed tonight – better than he’d been this morning, when he only had time to toss a tunica over his head before opening the door. This time he knew Didia was coming and he would teach her a little bit about how to defend herself against insane strangers in the night. That would cut her. Just for fun. And not do anything else. It was a mad world where there were people like that, wasn’t it?

When it finally knocked on the door he jumped up to open the door, expecting to find Didia there. And he did. Only she wasn’t alone. He’d seen the older woman before, he knew it was her mother, he could even see the resemblance... but Didia had cleverly advised him a while ago that he tried to avoid the woman and so he had. Yet there she stood, with Didia just behind her, making strange gestures while the older woman asked what Alexius required her daughter for.

Fuck. Well, it wasn’t that, even though he would mind that for a split-second. She’d barely have to ask. Right… what was Didia trying to signal to him? She was… writing on her hand? Why was she doing that? It was natural that Didia’s mother would prefer that her daughter did not sleep around with Alexius, which was apparently what she assumed (because who would not assume that?) - but he also couldn’t tell her the truth, because women were usually not taught about defending themselves too well. They were supposed to be submissive. He could not guess what Didia tried to do though, write a message or something? No... but he had to think fast, he could not spend too long wondering. So he would just have to enchant Didia's mother, wouldn’t he? 

Alexius offered the woman a charming and welcoming grin, dimples and all, “Greetings, lovely lady. I do not believe we’ve been introduced, although you seem to know my name? What did your sweet Didia tell you about me?”

@Sara

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Didia felt a little bit of her die inside as Alexius gave her a blank stare before turning the charm on max and looking at her mother and she had to immediately stop her miming as her mother glanced at her daughter with an arched brow before turning back to Alexius. She bit her lip hard to stop herself from groaning as her mother giggled a girlish laugh and grinned. Alexius had managed to work his charm on her mother! Of course! She wanted a to find a hole to die in. 

"Well, my daughter tells me you're to teach her to read?" Didia nodded enthusiastically and shot Alexius a look, "He is Mama, I told you. We're going to one of the big libraries in the city." Suetonia scoffed and glanced back at Alexius, "Oh Didia please, I'm sure our lovely neighbour has more important things to do than teach you to read?" She grinned again at their neighbour and Didia rose a hand to her forehead, as she felt a headache brewing. Gods she just wanted the ground to swallow her up.

She looked pleadingly at Alexius and then her gaze changed to very firmly imply; 'Can we please move this along?'

 

TAG: @Atrice

Edited by Sara
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Well he couldn’t just guess what Didia was trying to tell him, could he? She was acting as if she was trying to write or draw on her hand, but he honestly didn’t know what it meant. That he should have sent her a message or she should send him one? But he could barely write. And what should it be about? And what did it have to do with her mother being here? No, he didn’t understand anything, but it was obvious that Didia’s mother should not know what Alexius wanted with her daughter, so he’d have to find a way out. Alexius chose to charm her.

And it bloody worked! The older woman giggled in a girlish way, as if no guy had ever charmed her or treated her properly before. Actually it was kind of sweet. Alexius had given her the charming grin to, well, charm her, but now it stayed on because she was being so sweet. The mother said Didia had said he would teach her how to read and Didia nodded and agreed. So that’s what she tried to tell him with her body language! Well she’d have to work on that too! The two women spoke briefly and Didia’s mother grinned again, while Didia rose a hand to her forehead.

“In fact, I don’t think I do, right now. Since that was our plan.” Alexius said with a smile, “I promise you I will be nothing but good to her and treat her right – and teach her what she wants to know. Didia deserves nothing less.” Alexius promised her mother, while Didia mostly seemed to want to get on her way. Alexius glanced over his shoulder towards the window in the main room of the flat and then back at the mother.

“We really need to get going, before it gets too dark. But don’t worry, I’ll keep your lovely daughter safe and bring her back home in one piece.” Although maybe a bit bruised, depending on how rough the training would be. But it wasn’t wrong that he would teach Didia what she wanted to know and he’d keep her safe.

@Sara

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Suetonia tutted and then glanced back to her exasperated daughter and then back to Alexius. She seemed to mull it over for a moment before sighing and nodding, putting on a flattering smile. "As long as you're sure, that would be very kind and I'm sure Didia is most grateful." Her mother inclined her head at Alexius, "And you'll stop by so we can say thank you?" She smiled longingly at Alexius for a touch longer before turning back to Didia. For all her restraint earlier, she scoffed at her mother now. "I'll be sure to tell Pater all about your new friendship later Mama?" Her mother flushed and leant to kiss her daughters cheek, whispering "Don't you dare. Be good."  Before virtually skipping back to their own apartment. 

Didia groaned loudly as her mothers door finally shut and then quickly reached out to swipe out at Alexius, whispering; "How on earth did you not get that I was miming reading?!" She scoffed, but she was grinning - despite feeling as if she was dying of embarrassment. "Come on, come on, let's go before she gets suspicious." She was dressed in the most free-moving tunica which was a long red one with a thin linen belt she could remove so as to not constrict her movements, with a cloak thrown on top. Her little knife was tucked in a pouch at her waist and she couldn't see his but presumed he was prepared. She also had a couple of coins for his trouble and time, but she'd save them until the end so he couldn't refuse her. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Alexius could be quite the charmer if he wanted to be and needed to be – and with Didia’s mother, it seemed to be required. She seemed very nice, he thought and the way she responded to his smile and words just told him that her husband ought to care better for her. Women deserved that men treated them well – because too many men did not treat women well enough, after all. He’d seen that often enough. The older woman seemed pleased that he had promised he’d keep Didia safe and treat her right. Then she asked Alexius to stop by so they could say thank you to him and he grinned, “If you insist, there’s little I can do to resist, is there? Of course I’ll stop by if you want that.” He promised her, anything to please her so she’d not think the wrong thing. Then Didia intervened.

“Men and women can be friends, Didia. There’s no harm in that.” Alexius just said while Didia’s mother moved back to their apartment. Charis had taught him about how men should be able to be friends with women without expecting or hoping for more. No matter how hard that could be. But he tried his best. Even with Didia too! And well, a man was always allowed to hope anyway, right? 

When the door had closed behind Didia’s mother, Didia scoffed at him, “Oh, so that’s what you were doing.” He said with a chuckle, “Well, what I did worked anyway, right? So…” He said with a wink and Didia wanted to get going.

“Of course. Let’s get going.” Alexius led the way down the stairs. The sun was still up, it wasn’t that late yet. He thought he’d take her to a nearby garden, one of the minor ones. Sometimes less honest people hung out there after nightfall, but it wasn’t night yet, so it should be fine. And no matter what, Alexius would be there. He looked at Didia, thinking about this morning and the reason why they were here. And he was actually genuinely concerned for Didia. Poor thing.

“How’s your day been? Did you get any chance to rest?”

@Sara

Edited by Atrice
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"Yes that was what I was bloody doing!" She managed through a chuckle and a dramatic roll of her eyes. "And yes, it might have worked for now - but be careful what you wish for...she might have had four children but she's still got it," She smiled at her neighbour as they made their way down the stairs, "The next thing you know you'll open your door to her stark naked and you'll have nobody but yourself to blame." She didn't blame her mother, of course. Alexius was deeply charming and it had been years since her father had paid any real attention in years. 

She shrugged her cloak tighter around herself as they stepped out into the street. It wasn't even close to winter yet, but as the nights drew in the chill got to her. She sighed at his question and tipped her face up to his to glance at him as she answered. 

"A little. I explained to my family that it was woman's things," She waved a hand, "And my father didn't really ask any questions...but I do feel tired." She'd tossed and turned all night and had to stifle a yawn as they walked. "I just keep thinking how lucky I was...and what an idiot I was, of course." She sighed as they weaved through the jostling crowds of plebs, freedmen and slaves on their way home after work. Trying to divert the conversation she looked up at him again, "Where are we going anyway?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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She rolled her eyes when he confessed he’d been unable to tell what she tried to mime to him. He laughed with her… and anyway, the issue with her mother was solved anyway, thanks to his own charming smile that he knew he had. Of course, if her mother had been a different sort, it might not have worked, but she clearly longed for attention and Alexius was happy to give it, especially since it got both him and Didia out of trouble. Didia warned him to be careful about what he wished for and he chuckled.

“If you say so.” Alexius just said, all while thinking that opening his door to a stark naked woman standing outside might not be the worst thing in the world. Not even if the woman was older than he, because that had not always stopped him before anyway. Experienced women were interesting too. He’d rather have Didia, of course, but she didn’t seem to desire such attentions from him and right now, he didn’t think it would be  a good idea to flirt too much. Not after what she’d just gone through.

They stepped out into the street and Didia held her cloak tighter around her – and Alexius wondered if she had any chance to rest. She sighed and said she’d done a little and she felt tired too. Alexius sighed too, feeling sorry for her, while she called herself both lucky and an idiot.

“Don’t think about all that now. It won’t do you any good.” Alexius advised her. Bad experiences you’d had were to be learned from and used, not just remembered for the good (or bad) of making yourself feel worse. You’d never get anywhere if you thought like that. Didia wondered where they were going.

“There’s a small park not so far from here… you’ve lived here a while, maybe you know it?” Alexius turned down another street in the right direction and with a smile he added, “We should be able to be more or less alone there.”

@Sara

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