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Two freedmen walk into a bar


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31st August 75 after 

Teutus hadn't been able to face staying to see any more after Tertius had picked Charis' baby up and given him a name, and a legitimacy that Teutus would never have. 

He had wandered Rome for a while before finding himself outside a popina on the Via Lata. He had enough money on him for a drink or several. He wasn't about to drink himself senseless, but he definitely didn't want to stay sober. He could face up to his future later on, but right now he was hurting too badly. 

"I'll take a jug, thanks," he said to the proprietor, and sighed,shifting up a bit so as to make room for someone else to order as well.

 

@Atrice

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For Alexius, this was a day like most others. And some days he worked, some he did not - he had yet to find himself a steady job after the job as Oriana's bodyguard. Hopefully there would soon be some Senator or his beautiful wife who'd need protection from someone experienced and skilled like Alexius. Until then, he took the work he could get. And today was a day without any work. So after he'd sent Lexus off to his job, Alexius slept a little longer and then made his way out to find something to do. Maybe meet someone who had work for him on the way... but although he met people he knew, he didn't get any work. And so he eventually ended up at the Popina Via Lata and decided it was about time he had a meal and a drink.

He entered the place, still looking neat as it was early in the day and he winked at one of his favorite barmaids and made his way to the counter, "I'd like a meal... and a drink. You know what I like." Alexius said with a smile to the barkeep and looked at a young man next to him. Sort of skinny with dark hair and sad eyes. And he'd heard him just before he arrived at the counter, the other man ordered a whole jug of wine. For his size! He'd be drunk in no time, and so early in the day? Alexius felt he ought to say something to him, he already felt sorry for him and he didn't even know him! 

"That's a lot of wine to drink so early in the day." Alexius commented to the stranger by his side, while they both waited for their orders.

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"I wasn't planning on drinking it in one go," Teutus said, pouring himself the first cup of (hopefully) several. "There isn't enough wine in Rome, but a jugful will do for now." The other man was taller and better built than Teutus, though that wasn't too hard.

He'd ordered food as well as a drink, which was probably a good idea, if Teutus were in the mood for good ideas, which he wasn't. Not ideas that would keep him sober longer than he wanted to be, anyway. Not that he was planning on getting so stupidly drunk he couldn't walk.

 

@Atrice

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The dark-haired and skinny looking stranger said he didn't plan on drinking all of the wine in one go. Alexius doubted he'd take breaks though, but of course, he didn't know the stranger yet. By the sound of it though, he planned on getting very drunk. He said there was not enough wine in Rome and Alexius wondered what the poor guy had gone through, to want to drink more wine than all of Rome contained.

"There is a lot of wine in Rome though. A lot of good places to get it." Alexius replied with a little smile, while the barkeep showed up, first with a bowl of today's stew for Alexius and then with the wine they both ordered. A mug for Alexius and a jug for the other guy. He glanced around the popina and while there were always people here, he didn't see anyone he knew besides those who worked here.

"Do you want company?" He asked the stranger then, because, why not?

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He didn't, particularly, mostly because he didn't want to pull the other man's mood down and was feeling far too morose about everything for his own mood to be improved much just by talking with a stranger.

He shrugged. "I don't have any objections," he said. "Though you probably have better places to be than hanging around with someone in this sort of mood."

He poured his first cup of wine. The other man had done the sensible thing and bought one cup and some food. Teutus was absolutely done with being sensible, at least for now. He'd been sensible all his life and just look where it had got him!

 

@Atrice

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The stranger said he would not object to it, if Alexius would keep him company - but then said Alexius had better places to be than here. Alexius just smiled, "Actually I don't, not today anyway. Come, let's find a table." Alexius said and looked around. The place wasn't packed yet and he took a seat near the doorway. Honestly one of his preferred seats, because if there was trouble inside or outside, he could easily reach the door. And he placed himself so he could see who came and went. Alexius liked that. He waited for his new companion to follow, hoping he would.

"I'm Alexius by the way, and you... or am I to call you moody stranger all day?" He added with a grin. Of course he wanted to know what was wrong with this young man here, but he would not ask into it straight away. That wouldn't be very sensible or natural or kind at all, really. They had only just met and the other guy didn't know Alexius - and wasn't in a cheerful mood. Alexius wouldn't risk anything.

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The other man - Alexius' - seemed friendly enough, even jovial. His joke made Teutus smile momentarily, as it was no doubt intended to. He supposed he did seem moody to the other man. He certainly felt moody, one reason he'd left the house, where his father was celebrating the birth of a son he could declare free right from the beginning without all the difficulties he faced when it came to Teutus himself. As if Teutus had chosen any of that at all, as if he wanted to be difficult, or to cause difficulties.

"Teutus," he offered, without expanding on it and giving the three names he was entitled to as a freedman. He'd been simply 'Teutus' his whole life, why change that now, especially as it seemed not to make one iota of difference one way or the other whether he was free or not. He paused even as the other man sat down in what seemed to be a customary seat for him. "I don't see why you'd want to sit with me, though. I'm not likely to be the most cheerful of drinking companions."

 

@Atrice

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It was shortlived, the smile, but Alexius saw it. And that pleased him, that he'd managed to make this otherwise moody and gloomy young man smile. So there was still hope. And Alexius definitely did not mind meeting new people and making new friends, no matter who they were or what they came from. Your background didn't matter that much to Alexius - it was more how you acted and how you behaved, that mattered. And often also how you looked, of course. Teutus, as the younger man said his name was, definitely didn't look too bad at all. A bit on the slim side, but that didn't make him unattractive. People were different. Alexius didn't mind that. Again, it wasn't what mattered the most in the long run.

"Teutus, nice to meet you, no matter your mood." Alexius said as they sat down near the door - Alexius with his bowl of stew and his mug of wine and Teutus with his cup and his jug. Teutus then again didn't seem to know why Alexius wanted his company.

"Well... maybe you're not cheerful, but you're still company. And I did see you smile just before, so the battle is not over yet." Alexius grinned, but then let it fade, "The day has barely begun, after all. Besides, I like meeting new people and I've not seen you around here before, I think." Alexius said and tasted his wine briefly and then looked at Teutus again, "Why are you getting drunk anyway? If you want to tell me... of course."

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"It's a long story. Or maybe it is isn't," Teutus said cryptically, and drank half of his first cupful of wine. "The long and the short of it is, I was born a slave, promised my freedom for years, finally got it, promised that I'd be made my father's heir - only he's a senator so it's not that easy. And he goes and gets another slave girl pregnant and she has a son. Who was declared freeborn this morning." He finished the cup and poured another.

"If you want to find a happier person to talk with, I'm sorry I bothered you." Though it was Alexius who'd done the bothering, really. There was nothing anyone could do about it at all,and despite his promises to his father, Teutus felt like just finding work elsewhere not bothering to even return home tonight. Let Tertius be on the receiving end of a broken promise for once. See how he liked it!

 

@Atrice

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Alexius would not force sad Teutus here to share his story, if he didn’t want to, but he kind of had the feeling that Teutus did want to talk about it. He just had no one to talk to… well until now. And Alexius could be many things. He liked to make others feel comfortable in his presence. So if it was someone listening to your story you wanted, that’s what he would be. Teutus chose to share his story then, after a good gulp of wine. Alexius had no idea Teutus was talking about a slave girl he knew, but he knew it sounded a bit depressing to Teutus. If not a lot.

 “Life isn’t always fair, is it?” Alexius said with a sigh to Teutus, ignoring the younger man’s suggestion about finding someone else. Alexius did not give up so easily and besides, he didn’t think it would be healthy for Teutus to drink so much alone. He could get in trouble. Besides, Teutus was not bothering him at all. Alexius approached the other, after all. 

 “And free life isn’t always what you imagine it would be, either. I know about that, I’m a freedman too. All my years as a slave… I longed for freedom. And when I finally gained it, it did not turn out the way I had hoped. Not that I want to be a slave again, but… anyway… I try to get the best out of it. There’s little else to do, right?” He didn’t know if such words would cheer up Teutus, but maybe it would be a comfort to know he wasn’t entirely alone.

@Sharpie

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"Well, I never expected it to keep on being as unfair as this," Teutus muttered, and sighed. He would eventually get used to it, and would start to plan his new future, but right now he didn't want to, he didn't want to do anything other than mope (or grieve, or sulk about) the future he'd been supposed to have, the one that had been promised to him for his entire life. He scowled at the wine in his cup as if it was Tertius' smug face.

He tried to ignore the sense of curiosity provoked by the other man's words, but couldn't - which had probably been the whole reason he'd said what he had.

"What future had you hoped for?" he asked, before drinking his second cup somewhat slower than his first one.

 

@Atrice

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Poor Teutus, life sure had dealt him the wrong hand. Maybe he needed to do like Alexius and put his life in the hands of Fortuna. You were there anyway, so you better just submit to the powerful and lovely lady anyway. And let her guide you instead of pull you down. Alexius had done that and it worked for him. He felt sorry for Teutus though, who thought life had been very unfair to him. Life wasn't always what you expected. And still, you had to do something with the path you'd been dealt. Alexius tried his best to enjoy it, no matter what. 

He tried to explain to Teutus that he, as a freedman, also got a different life than what he imagined as a slave, but he tried to get the best out of it anyway. He hadn't meant to share his life story, in fact he felt he was quite good for leaving out so many details for once. But then Teutus asked what he had hoped for.

"I had hoped to return to the lands where I was born. And I did, actually. Germania." Alexius added, just so Teutus knew what it meant, "That's where the real trouble began... here in Rome, I'm just a freedman, a former slave born in a foreign land. In Germania, I'm too much of a Roman to be welcomed into their lands. And I couldn't find anyone who might have known me or my family. I wasn't one of them anymore. So I came back to Rome." He explained. He had moved on though. He had jobs and he had his lovers and his son. And he had wine... Alexius tasted his, then looked at Teutus again, "Do you have any plans for you life now then... that it didn't turn out as you'd hoped?" 

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"That's rough," Teutus said, and poured some of his wine into Alexius' cup. He shrugged. "I've been my master's - my father's - secretary, but I don't really want to stay in the same house as his new son. Not now. I was thinking of setting up an import business, maybe. Bringing wine and olive oil into Italia from Hispania - though gods know we've got enough wine of our own. What about you, though? What do you do to keep yourself busy?"

Teutus wanted somewhere he could use the skills he had, but he knew that most secretaries were slaves; it was very rare to find a free or freed man acting as someone's personal secretary. And of course a political career was utterly barred to hi, but not to his free half-brother... He poured a third cup of wine at the thought.

 

@Atrice

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He felt bad for Teutus, it sounded like he’d gone through Hades in his life and it apparently didn’t end today. Maybe it would continue for him… so Alexius could definitely understand the drinking, but at the same time he was also glad he chose to take Teutus under his wing today, so at least the younger man would be safe while drunk. Alexius shared his story, or part of it, since Teutus asked and Teutus said it sounded rough too. Then refilled Alexius’ wine. He explained he didn’t want to stay in his father’s house and he considered setting up a business.

 “That sounds like it could be a very good trade, Teutus. Wine and olive oil are two things that Rome will always need.” Alexius said with a smile, “At the moment, I take the jobs I can get. I work as a bodyguard or guard, mostly… I’d like  a more steady job, you know, just one employer instead of changing them constantly.” He said and became thoughtful for a moment, then gave Teutus a look, “You know, if you do set up a business and need a hand with protecting the goods or something… let me know.” It might be interesting to help set up business with someone. And Teutus here sounded like someone who’d know how to do it. Alexius would be happy to help, for a price, of course.

@Sharpie

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Teutus paused and looked at his drinking partner. He looked capable, and might be the sort of person to know people who could be useful. 

"I don't think talking about it when I'm drunk is a good idea," he said. "Maybe when I'm sober. Where can I find you?"

They'd need to hire a ship and crew to begin with, and some warehouse space here or in Ostia... It was very definitely a possible venture, though. He thought obscurely that his father should be proud of him, and took another mouthful of wine at the thought that followed, that he should be but probably wasn't. Otherwise why would he have left Teutus as a slave for so long?

 

@Atrice

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Alexius was really just looking for a job and if Teutus here knew things about money and words and business, Alexius knew things about fists and swords - and talking to people too, honestly. They might be a good team - they were already drinking partners, after all! He took a drink while Teutus gave him a look and Alexius couldn't help but grin by the way Teutus looked at him. Then the other stated he should not talk about it while he was drunk, so he suggested he could talk to Alexius when he was sober. 

"Of course! I live in an insula on the Esquiliae. Just find the area and ask for Alexius, then you'll be guided." Alexius knew a lot of people around there, after all. And even those who didn't know him in person often knew who he was, or so he'd learned more than once. He knew people talked. He knew there was gossip. And so what? He'd been used to that since he became a gladiator, that people talked about him. He didn't care that much.

"So, would you rather talk about your situation and mine... or something else? What do you like to do, when you're not being your father's secretary?" Perhaps it was best for Teutus if they changed the subject. Maybe at some point, Alexius would be able to lure another smile out from the other man.

@Sharpie

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Well, that was handy. The insulae on the Esquiline were a stone's throw from his father's house on the same hill. Very handy. 

"I don't suppose you know the house of Tertius Quinctilius Varus?" he asked. It would make it easier to meet up if Alexius came to the house, rather than Teutus wandering all over the hill trying to find the one room in the one insula that housed Alexius.

"I read, I go to the baths. I don't really do an awful lot," Teutus confessed. "I don't generally spend my time in questionable popinae getting drunk, if you were worried about that. Today was a special occasion "

Special for Tertius and Charis, not at all special for Teutus. He'd probably have to apologise to his father for his abrupt departure and doubted Tertius would ever really understand why it had hurt. He had another mouthful of wine at prospect of that apology.

 

@Atrice

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Teutus asked if Alexius knew the house of a Tertius Quinctilius Varus and he thought it over. He'd heard the name before, but he didn't know the man or the household or the house for that matter, "I don't know it, but I'm sure it won't be hard to find... if you'd want me to find you instead." Alexius replied with a smile to his drinking partner or companion... or new friend? Or future business partner? It was impossible to tell what the future held and Alexius was used to that now. Fortuna turned the arrow and he'd follow in whichever direction it landed. 

He'd asked Teutus what he liked to do and the other said he didn't do a lot, he just read and went to the baths. He didn't go out drinking, usually, but today was different.

"Very special indeed, for you at least. Hmm..." He thought about what he could suggest Teutus should do with his time, "You don't see gladiator games or races then? Some are also very fond of the Greek theatres. The baths are nice, of course... I could spend all day there." In fact he had, on a few occasions, when something nice happened there and sometimes it did! He smiled by the thought and downed some more wine, "Do you want to come with me to the arena and see if anything's showing today, once the jar is empty?" 

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"It'd be easier for you to find one house, and me, than for me to find you in all the insulae on the Esquiline," Teutus pointed out, sure of his logic, though his words were a little slurred by now. "What do you mean, special for me? I just saw my father choose some other slave's baby over me. That's hardly special."

He shook his head. "Never had the time before, don't really see the appeal now, though my father likes the gladiators." Which was one reason for Teutus not to, though he wasn't about to say that. He should probably try to like some of the things his father did - but what was the point, especially now? He'd probably prefer to bring his other son up to like that sort of thing, sponsor games or races or whatever. He'd never really cared to teach Teutus any of that - he'd even seemed embarrassed by Teutus' lack of skill at swimming, though whose fault was it that Teutus had not had much time to learn?

He considered. He'd never really had a friend to share any of his life with. He might enjoy things more if he had someone to share them with. Wasn't that how friendships worked?

"I think I'd like that. Though I've got nothing to share with you in return. Except maybe if you like reading?"

 

@Atrice

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Alexius chuckled when Teutus pointed out, that he did not think it would be easy to find Alexius in all of the insulae, “Easier than you think to find me though, I’m well known.” He said with a wink. He ignored Teutus little comment about the day being special or not, it did not really seem to brighten Teutus’ mood a lot and that’s what Alexius wanted.

 Instead he began wondering what else to do and since Teutus just enjoyed the baths and didn’t do much else. So Alexius came with suggestions and wondered if Teutus ever went to see any gladiator games. But Teutus didn’t. Alexisu downed a bit more of his drink and gave Teutus a look, “Maybe watching them with a former gladiator will change your perspective.” Alexius said with a small smile and Teutus agreed to come see a game with Alexius. Then he said he had nothing to share in return.

 “I don’t remember asking for anything in return. Not everything’s about giving and taking. I’m happy to share.” He always was, wasn’t he? Share anything… but he smiled at Teutus talking about reading, “I don’t read a lot. I’m not very good at reading… I only began learning it when I was freed, and…” He sighed, this was one of the few things he was not proud of. His inability to read. He could write his name and he knew a little, but it wasn’t his greatest interest and it was hard, “It’s… difficult. There are so many things I’m better at.”

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"You might not have asked, but that's what friends do, and I don't want you to think I'm some selfish... bastard who wouldn't return the favour," Teutus pointed out. 

"We'll have to talk about this going into business thing when I'm sober again," he added. "It'll be good to have a partner from the beginning - and I won't make you do any reading or writing if you don't want. I'm my father's secretary. At least, I used to be, so I'm used to doing all sorts of reading and writing stuff."

And Alexius seemed to be a good sort of man, who'd easily earn his fair share of whatever profits they made. If any.

 

@Atrice

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That was nice - they only just met, but Teutus seemed to already want to consider Alexius among his friends. He said he wanted to do something for Alexius, share with him, even though Alexius did not ask for it. Just because that's what friends did. It was very nice, actually, but it would be up to Teutus. Alexius smiled at Teutus' friendly speech, "So far I've no reason to consider you a selfish bastard." He said and downed a bit of wine while he realized something... "... and you're sharing wine, that's a beginning, right?"

Teutus then said he also wanted to talk more about them starting a business together and he promised to not make Alexius read or write anything, "If you're used to it, I imagine you're good at it. Actually..." He chuckled, "No offense, but I think that maybe you're as good at fighting as I am at reading and writing. We might support each other nicely like that." He said, hoping Teutus didn't take any offense, but he honestly did not look much like a fighter at all - he was very slim and didn't look overly muscular at all. Alexius honestly didn't hate the idea of being the muscle in some kind of business, as long as someone else would take the part that required paperwork and thinking.

@Sharpie

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"Probably," Teutus allowed, pouring himself another cupful of wine, most of which ended up in the cup although some of it didn't. "Secret'ries don't fight much. I could stab someone with my stylus if I needed to, I s'pose."

He had less wine left than he'd planned because he hadn't planned on sharing it. Oh well, it was still enough to get pleasantly buzzed, if not fall-down drunk. He hoped he might go a bit beyond just buzzed, though.

"You got brains, though," he added. Just because a man was mostly muscle didn't mean he couldn't think, and Teutus did want someone else to bounce ideas off. Not that he couldn't give orders but it would be nice to have someone point out weaknesses, or come up with things Teutus hadn't thought of.

 

@Atrice

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He was almost surprised that Teutus was not offended, when Alexius pointed out he didn't think Teutus would fight very well. Most men would give him a cold shoulder for claiming they weren't fighters, although he'd prove many of them wrong if they fought with him. Alexius had great confidence in his own skills at beating others in fights. Even if you were a good fighter... Alexius was better in many cases. Or at least he liked to think so. Maybe not against another gladiator, but most ordinary men weren't a match for him at all. It was nice then, that Teutus didn't hate him for it. 

"Let me do the fighting, I think. Sounds safer than you attempting to stab anyone, if needed." Alexius said with a grin. He'd of course be happy to teach Teutus, but not in his current state. Teutus already seemed somewhat drunk, the way he spoke gave it away. Alexius was larger and much more used to drinking a lot. He barely felt drunk, he only had two cups so far! He downed a bit more and Teutus said he had brains. Alexius let out a little laugh.

"Thanks for the confidence." He said, "Maybe I do... but ask any Roman noble and I'm useless with anything else but my body." Not that he felt too bad about that, because it wasn't really wrong to say that. He was very good at using his body. He could fight and he could please with it. But he could not read or write and he wasn't very good at numbers and math either. His own son was better than he at that. He emptied his cup on that thought.

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"I am sick to death of Roman nobles," Teutus said. One in particular, of course, who seemed to want now what he had never really been interested in before. Too bad; he'd forfeited his chance and Teutus was quite content to live his own life without seeing any member of that entire household ever again, except perhaps for Antonia. 

Teutus would be quite happy to take his sister and go and set up home somewhere,just the two of them, but he couldn't take her away from her father and her future as a member of Rome's elite. 

She might eventually stop asking about him and forget him, if he moved out and broke contact now. And damn the promise he'd made his father, too.

Perhaps a convenient storm could come up and news of his death at sea could be taken to Tertius while Teutus himself went to Hispania and started all over again with a different name?

He finished his current cup of wine, rather more tempted by the thought than he wanted Alexius to know. 

Morose. That's what he was feeling. And the sort of pain that he could imagine feeling if someone stabbed him through the heart with a dagger and kept twisting the blade.

"Don't really plan on talking to any of them, ever again, if I can help,"he added, lifting the jug again. It was surprisingly light and only produced half a cup this time.

Story of Teutus' life!

 

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