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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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