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September 76CE

It made a convenient excuse to leave the palace and Palatine Hill. An Imperial could spend almost all of their time there if they so desired, but Tiberius did not. He wanted to see Rome - and the Empire - talk to people, and keep an eye and an ear on the happenings beyond the Hill. It was part of what made good governance of course, but it was also his interest. It was also a good place to catch up with friends, in a less formal setting.

Leaning back against the beautifully glazed tiles and relaxing into the hot water, Tiberius glanced across at his long time friend and often younger partner in crime to himself and Titus as they were growing up. Now, all of a sudden, they were grown, or close to. Not boys but men, with their own responsibilities. Quintus' abdication had made that all the more apparent. But Tiberius hadn't asked Marcus to meet him to dwell in seriousness.

"How have you been, Marcus?" He asked out of genuine interest. "What's new?" Marcus had this bright and garrulous nature about him that was immensely cheering and made him very easy to be around. It was something that Tiberius appreciated.

@Atrice

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It was always a joy to spend time with his friends since childhood - and Tiberius was definitely one of those, since they were almost the same age and caused mayhem at the Imperial palace together years ago. Who knew, maybe they'd cause mayhem together elsewhere in the Empire later in their lives? For now though, they were just two young men, enjoying some time together for once. He hoped that Tiberius would join the vigintiviri together with him, or perhaps he had already joined? Honestly, Marcus wasn't up to date with that yet, but he could be, since today, they were hanging out together! And coming to the baths was always a pleasure, what with the lovely slaves they had here and of course, Marcus brought his own. Silvanus however had been placed out in the apodyterium to watch over Marcus' clothes, so none of those thieving capsarii would steal his things. So he was just here with Tiberius.

"I've been as good as anytime, I guess." Marcus replied with a grin, "Not that I'm doing much at the moment, other than what I usually do... but that honestly isn't so bad anyway." Which was having fun, going to parties and social events, drinking, flirting with girls and sometimes even more... "What about you, have you been doing anything interesting lately? Oh, and do you know how our new and glorious Caesar is doing?" It was so weird to think about Titus as the Caesar! But, it had been done and he was at least glad they'd been childhood friends. He hoped that would mean something in the future, so that he could have that glorious career he was hoping for.

@Sarah

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For a moment it was good to simply relax and forget. But it was only ever a moment. Tiberius had that kind of mind, always busy, niggling at problems or concerns. He wouldn't say so because his friend wouldn't want him to trouble over him, he knew, but even Marcus featured there occasionally. The Junii Silani were an old and influential family, so much so that Marcus's older cousin and adoptive sister had married a Caesar, Tiberius's half brother Junus. He'd never admitted it, but younger a Tiberius had a crush on the then widowed Junia. The erstwhile Augusta had seemed so mature, regal and self-assured, and he'd harboured a teenage fantasy that he might marry Junia one day.

Those flights of fantasy seemed a world away now. Suddenly his adoptive brother was Caesar, and they were young men with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Lucius had been a close ally of the family, but had had his own problems with distant relatives and the family property. Rumour held that he'd even set the property alight out of spite, though Tiberius wasn't sure whether or not to believe it. But it worried him, like the first few bouncing pebbles that signalled an avalanche, he feared that it could be signs of a house on the downward slide. He hoped he was wrong, but was determined that if it did, Marcus would be shielded from it. Particularly because Tiberius felt that he could be a great help in keeping Titus from going the way that so many Caesars seemed to.

"I'm well enough, just busy with my duties." Tiberius replied with a faint smile. Two years older than Marcus, he was already amongst the Vigintiviri, and assumed that once he turned twenty in November he would be up for a role as a military tribune. That was what was expected of him, though he hoped he would also get a term in the legal side of things. But before then he and Marcus would serve together. But his attention was caught by the thought of what Marcus usually did, and by Titus.

His smile faded. "Titus is well too, but even busier, of course. And I worry." He admitted quietly, as he would do to very few. "I fear he might work himself too hard." They'd lost too many Caesars to mysterious illness. It could be slow poison, but Tiberius was working on a theory that it was the rigors of leading the Empire that could be the cause. "In fact, I was hoping that you might help me organise a distraction." He revealed, a smirk tugging at one corner of his mouth. "You always did know how to hold the best parties."

@Atrice

Edited by Sarah
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Marcus was determined to make sure that the Junii Silanii were not on the way out of ranks, but preferably on the way higher up in the hierarchy. He had his friendship with Tiberius and Titus and others at the palace to thank for that. His brother had done reckless things in anger more than once, made himself famous for it, but sadly also at the same time made sure Marcus had little wealth to call his own. Marcus would do better. He had to. He had dreams and hopes and they all had to do with staying connected to the current Caesar. And maybe the next. You never knew. There seemed to be a curse connected to that position, so he’d like to not rise that high.

 But how was Tiberius doing? Now that they had some time to spend with each other for once. Tiberius explained he’d been busy with duties and so had Titus. He worried for him, “You must promise to let me know if any of you need help. I’m here.” Sure, responisiblity was not always amusing, but he’d have to live with it if he wanted his aspirations to come true. One could always party in between duties, right? As Tiberius now suggested. He couldn’t help but smile when Tiberius wanted Marcus’ help in organizing a party.

 “You flatter me.” He said with a grin, “But I will be more than happy to help you organize a party… at the palace? I’m sure everyone would flock there like birds.” He said cheerfully, he did like to do such things, “And with such a party… how about only people in our generation would be invited. No older Senators. After all, we’re next, right? Why should we not connect?” He’d been to more than one dreadful party with young people he didn’t know, but he would love to host his own event, with people he knew. Maybe an invite to a party at the palace would even impress a lady like Ovinia? One could only hope!

@Sarah

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“You must promise to let me know if any of you need help. I’m here.”

Marcus's words brought a genuine smile to Tiberius's face, and he reached out and gripped the younger man's forearm for a moment, meeting his gaze seriously. "Thank you my friend, I will." He assured him, appreciating the offer more than he could say. One thing that he had learned from watching Caesar Quintus, an excellent role model as well as a good father, was that no man was an island. Even Caesar needed his friends and supporters, needed to delegate to those worthy of responsibility, needed to share the load. It was an example that Tiberius intended to follow, even if right now that delegation was party planning. He knew who had the most skills in that area, and it wasn't him.

His smile broadened to a grin as Marcus voiced his thoughts, clearly already planning ahead. "You read my mind." He replied. "There will be formal events for the relevant Senators, Patricians and their families; I want this to be informal and fun." Just the young ones, for a change. Those who were stepping, sometimes blinking, into the light of adult responsibility. "I'll invite our cousins and friends, and anyone else who seems like a good fit. But I'd like you to organise the entertainment if you would. I wouldn't know where to start."

As for where, Tiberius already had ideas. "I was thinking in the Hortulus. It's still pleasant out, and it's an informal space. We can set out a pile of braziers and have the slaves carry platters of food and wine. A few musicians or a fire eater could be amusing. What do you think?" He asked, since clearly Marcus was the authority on what made a good party in his mind. Having said that, Tiberius already had a reputation for being somewhat reserved and a bit propper, and would probably balk if Marcus suggested hiring from the Domus Venus.

Still, it would be fun, he was determined. And it would be a chance for all of them, and Titus especially, to let their hair down. He'd have to go through the rolls, see who else he should invite. Maybe that young woman he'd bumped into - literally - at the Temple of Minverva. Who else? "Let me know of anyone you think we should invite, too." He'd vet the final list, but Marcus might well know some promising young Patricians that Tiberius did not.

@Atrice

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He was happy to see the smile on Tiberius’ face, when Marcus promised he’d be of assistance if Tiberius should ever need it. Or even Titus! He’d be more than happy to be there for his childhood friends, they ran around the great halls of the palace ten years ago… already back then as if they owned the place. And now some of them quite literally did that! Marcus would be there, definitely!

 And he would be here right now, as Tiberius asked for his assistance regarding the idea of a party. And there was nothing Marcus enjoyed more than a good party with young and likeminded people, so of course he’d help out here! He already had ideas and Tiberius agreed with it all. that it should be informal and all. He said he’d invite cousins and friends and anyone who should be there. Marcus grinned when Tiberius spoke of entertaining, oh he’d love to organize that! But before he could speak, Tiberius continued with what he wanted to happen.

 “Yes, we need musicians and… dancers, I think, they’re always popular. Someone to entertain us.” He smirked, he had some ideas, especially after he participated in that special night hosted by the Domus Venus earlier the same summer. It had been very interesting, both regarding connections and what went on, “Just leave it to me, I have some ideas. I promise you won’t be disappointed.” He promised and moved a bit around in the water, enjoying the feeling of the warmth wrapping around his body. Maybe a massage would be nice today?

 “I think I have some ideas. I met Lucius Vipsanius Roscius earlier this summer, I think he’d enjoy it. And he needs this sort of thing. Oh and Ovinia Camilla. I want to send the invitation to her.” So that she could see that he really did aspire to rise higher and he already had very influential friends. It wasn’t a joke when he told her that whole story.

@Sarah

Edited by Atrice
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Tiberius gave Marcus a smile that was equal parts knowing and amused. He could see that his friend already had plans in mind. "I'll leave it with you then." He said with a languid wave of his hand, jokingly emulating some of the stuffier Patricians. Inwardly he was very glad that Marcus was not only willing to handle the details but seemed positively delighted. It would be fun, of that he was certain.

Swirling some of the hot water about as the patch he was sitting in had cooled slightly, Tiberius listened with interest to the people who Marcus suggested. "That's Gaius Vipsanius Roscius's younger brother, isn't it?" He'd been educated specifically in politics, part of which included memorising most of the political families. It might have been tedious had Tiberius not had a natural interest in other people. And he'd heard that Lucius was the same. "I'd like to meet him, I've heard he's an interesting fellow." Specifically that he shared some of Tiberius's inclinations towards listening to the plebians.

"Ooh-ho! Why Gaius Ovinius Camillus's daughter specifically?" He asked, an amused smirk toying at his lips. It might be nothing, but that didn't mean that he couldn't rib Marcus about a possible crush. They'd been teasing each other for years. "I haven't met her yet, so we shall. But we should invite her brother Tertius as well." Lest there be concern for the young lady's welfare.

Of course, such things go both ways, and Tiberius trusted Marcus closely, enough that he could reveal his own interests occasionally. "Tell me, do you know of Horatia Sosia?" He asked, on the theory that Marcus tended to be more the social butterfly than himself, and was more likely to have met her. "Daughter of Gaius Horatius Justinius. I bumped into her at the Temple of Minerva. Literally." He added dryly. "I'm thinking of inviting her."

(OOC: I started the party thread, if you'd like to describe the entertainment.)

@Atrice

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Marcus let out a little laugh at the wave Tiberus gave, trying to mimic the older generation. It would be a joy once Titus had proper power and then with people like Tiberius and Marcus around him. Not all those stuffy and grumpy older men, who often seemed to daydream that life would be as in the old days instead of seizing the moment and the day.

 They discussed whom to invite and Marcus had a few names for the list. He nodded at Tiberius’ comment about Lucius, “Yes, he has an older brother called Gaius, I think he’s a proper Senator and all that? Lucius is very interesting though. Different from his brother, although I’ve not met him. But I know Lucius is fun at a party.” Since that’s how he met him, after all. He was curious to hear if the date Marcus set up for Lucius went well, he hoped he did, since they bet on it. And Marcus wanted to win the bet.

 But then there was Ovinia Camilla on his mind too and now Tiberius got curious, “I suppose we can. She’s just… I met her and it was hard to get to her, you know? Although I tried my best. I think she wasn’t sure if I was all words and no action or what. Now I can prove her wrong.” He explained. It annoyed him that she hadn’t fallen for his charms as easily as others, but it was also a challenge and he did like that. It was sweet that Tiberius was worried for her. Ovinia had been fending for herself just fine the day they met. 

Tiberius also had someone to invite, also a girl and now it was Marcus’ turn to get curious, “Oh you should invite her! I haven’t met her, don’t even think I’ve heard about her? Is she cute?” He’d try to not flirt with her if Tiberius liked her, you didn’t do that to your friends, after all.

@Sarah

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One of the many things Tiberius had learned from Quintus was that you had to both delegate, and then trust. Otherwise you spent all your time micro managing and you couldn't run an empire like that. Assume that those closest to you knew your preferences, the importance of responsibility, and where to draw the line, and trust them to do that. Until they proved unworthy of that trust, then don't delegate to them again. It was important for Titus and himself to gather their own inner circle, as well as relying on their father's. So Tiberius trusted Marcus to organise entertainment that would be both fun and appropriate.

Gaius Vipsanius Roscius was a Senator, Marcus was right. That was how Tiberius knew of the Gens. But he knew nothing of the younger brother save for a very vague reputation for lacking an interest in politics. "Gaius is a political creature, from what I've seen at the Senate. That's all I know really." He hadn't particularly drawn attention to himself. "I've heard that the younger brother isn't." Which was no crime. Not everyone could be a politician, though that ambition was generally expected of their class. "If Lucius is fun, then we must invite him." He assured Marcus.

His guess as to Ovinia's family was on the sestercius, but it hadn't been hard given her name. Marcus's obvious lack of enthusiasm for inviting her brother as well was almost comical. "I think that we should." He insisted, smirking. Else her father might not let Ovinia attend. Boring, but someone had to be the voice of reason. Clearly Marcus wanted to get to know the young woman, and Tiberius didn't want to prevent that, but they did not need loose talk. "Sorry to spoil your fun, but I'm sure we can distract Tertius long enough for you two to have a conversation."

A thoughtful nod was the answer to Marcus' enthusiastic suggestion that Tiberius invite Sosia. He'd already decided that he would. "She'd very pretty." He admitted, hoping that the heat from the baths hid the slight flush of his cheeks. Tiberius wasn't very experienced with women, having lived a fairly closeted life.  "She seems quite innocent, even naive. Her father is one of those who moved their family to their estates during the purges, and as far as I can tell she's grown up in the country." And was now here in Rome, which was probably a shock. A small smile appeared as he thought of their meeting.

@Atrice

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With Tiberius’ rank, he probably knew a lot more about Senators than Marcus did. He’d not come that far in his life yet, but he was just on the brink of getting there. And with Tiberius’ friendship and help, he would rise. He told Marcus about Lucius and Lucius’ brother Gaius, although he didn’t know much. But Tiberius knew… about as much as Marcus, it would seem. Marcus nodded, “He is fun. Very nice and fun. And no, he’s not in the Senate.” But that didn’t make Lucius bad in his eyes, just different and interesting and he might still be someone who’d be something. Lucius wasn’t old and ugly yet, after all. Maybe at the party he could find out how the date with Pinaria went.

 And just as that thought concerned a woman, so did the conversation. Tiberius was curious about Ovinia and Marcus told him about her. Oh sweet Tiberius, despite his rank and all that, he wasn’t very good at taking advantage of it, was he? He could have the world at his feet, if he wanted it to be there. He could just have what he wanted. And yet he talked about Marcus having a simple conversation with Ovinia. Of course he was more or less certain he’d not get under her skirts, but you never knew, right? And as long as you had hope, you had something. He just smiled at Tiberius’ words and wanted to know about this Horatia Sosia, that Tiberius would invite!

 He said she was indeed pretty and Marcus noticed how the other flushed a bit as he spoke of her. He called her innocent and said she’d grown up in the country, “Well you must give her a chance to get to know Rome then. Maybe you should show her around. And her being innocent… it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, you know.” Marcus winked, although Tiberius was probably way too nice to try anything with her. He didn’t go out as much as Marcus did, didn’t spend so much time flirting. But maybe that would change now that he had his eyes on someone?

@Sarah

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Marcus was right that Tiberius wasn't the most worldly individual when it came to the opposite sex, and wasn't the type to take advantage of his rank in that arena. Perhaps because of his nature or perhaps because he'd had a relatively closeted youth, he didn't automatically assume the kind of things that Marcus was already thinking of. Perhaps that would change, in time or with the right woman, or perhaps he'd always be the straight-laced, slightly boring serious one. Maybe he needed Marcus as much as his friend needed him.

The younger man's suggestion that Sosia's apparent innocence might not be a bad thing brought a flush to Tiberius's cheeks again, though he hoped it wasn't obvious. He'd only just met the young woman after all. But regardless it wasn't necessarily her innocence that would concern him. One reason he wasn't avidly using his rank to pursue the ladies was because he didn't yet know what he was missing.

But he did admit to himself that Sosia appealed to him. "That's a good idea. The Gods know there's lots to see in Rome." He tended to take it for granted, growing up there, but it was true. Rome was the centre of the Empire more than politically and geographically. "Where would you take a young woman new to Rome?" He asked, wondering whether Marcus had any insight.

Then he sighed slightly and looked away. "I confess, I'm a bit at a loss with what to say to her, or your Ovinia." He admitted quietly. "I don't exactly spend a lot of time around ladies who aren't family." There were some down sides to being an Imperial, though if he'd really wanted it to be otherwise he could likely have arranged that. But Tiberius was always the quiet, studious sort.

@Atrice

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Caecina’s former bodyguard had called Marcus a spoiled brat, although it was certainly not his place to tell Marcus such things. The man had been a mere freedman! And Marcus was of a quite different rank. But in the end, the bodyguard was probably right. He didn’t know if he was spoiled though, he just knew to take something when he wanted it. Gods knew that no one had ever really given him anything. His father died when he was young, his older sister had experienced the public murder of her husband and his brother… well he was off too. He had his mother at least. And his friends. Like Tiberius. Everything else he had to do on his own.

 Tiberius had to fend for himself too, kind of, but he was different than Marcus. A different upbringing and a different life, since he grew up in the palace with a famous father. And yet he blushed when he spoke of this sweet and innocent Sosia. Marcus pointed out that it did not have to be a bad thing, that she was so innocent, and Tiberius had blushed at that. It was very sweet. Maybe this party would be good for Tiberius too! Marcus suggested that Tiberius should show Sosia around in Rome and he liked the idea, although he wondered where to take her. And the he admitted his lack of experience.

 “Depends on what she likes. Some girls like the markets, there’s always something going on there. Or some of the gardens… Sullust or the Porticus Liviae. But you said you met her at a temple? So she’s religious. You could show her some more temples too.” Marcus suggested, “And don’t be afraid to speak to her. Just make sure she knows you’re there for her, while you’re together. And make her laugh. They like guys that are entertaining.” Looks and appearance was one thing, but if you bored the lady, she’d be gone in no time. He knew that much.  

@Sarah

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Perhaps because Tiberius had most things handed to him on a plate - the murder of his family notwithstanding - he hadn't learned to reach out and take what he could, when he could. It was somewhat ironic that he was groomed to be decisive and inspirational in the political arena, but he could be somewhat awkward in the personal one. Formal dinners and religious ceremonies were second nature; social events with his friends somewhat less so.

The older youth grinned. "I knew I hung around with you for a reason!" He declared, as though he might have forgotten why. "All brilliant ideas, thank you. I imagine she might like the gardens; she had flowers in her hair." Yes, he'd noticed that detail. "And the temples; they are impressive." And the architecture of Rome was magnificent. Yes, she might well enjoy that. Make sure that she knows you're there for her. That was good advice; goodness knew Tiberius had a tendency to get lost in thought, focusing on the big concerns. But then hadn't he been trying to get Titus to take breaks from exactly that? Sosia would be a very pleasant thing to focus on, and forget such concerns.

At the same time, his conversation with Aulus played in his mind, where the Consul had mentioned the benefits of a shrewd and savvy wife. Sosia didn't strike him as a political creature; then again, one didn't decide to marry a girl straight after meeting her. Right? But he needed to get better at talking to young women, and perhaps sweet Sosia would be the perfect person to practice with. Both unassuming, a simple friendship would hurt neither of them, and might benefit both.

Likely Quintus would have an opinion on whom he should court, when the time was right. But Quintus wasn't here.

He'd practiced and been tutored in the political arena, addressed the Senate several times, but compared to Marcus he felt he was rather lacking in the social field. That wouldn't do. But Tiberius had always been of the opinion that wisdom and learnings could come from many sources. "Hey Marcus, next time you go to a party, do you think I might come with you?" He asked. it was probably a bit rude to invite himself along, but perhaps there was a little of that Imperial assumption at work. But one good turn always deserved another. "And you know, when you come to serve as a military tribune, my uncle Octavius would probably take you on." If Tiberius asked him. Octavius Flavius Alexander, former Consul, brother of Caesar, builder of massive libraries and aqueducts and all round nice guy. Besides, Octavius would surely remember Marcus, even if only as one of the many kids running around the Palace.

Suddenly they weren't kids any more.

@Atrice

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Marcus chuckled when Tiberius grinned, glad that he could offer his old friend some joy and even advice. It was incredible that he was the younger of the two, yet giving advice, but he really didn’t mind. He just hoped it would work for Tiberius. In his experience, girls were different and didn’t always like the same things. But they gave so much fun and pleasure, if you could figure them out. And Marcus liked that.

 “Well I’m glad you like my ideas.” Marcus just said with a wide smile, when Tiberius had finished talking, “I think you should take her to some of the gardens. And see if she’s impressed by stuff like that. I bet she just wants to spend time with you though.” He added with a wink to his friend. Tiberius wanted to come to a party with Marcus sometime and he nodded at that.

 “Of course you can, the more the merrier! I’ll send word when that is. Probably… soon. I do like parties.” Oh it would be something to go to a party and be accompanied by Tiberius! How good it was that they came here today. Of course he was fond of his old friend, he liked spending time with him and talking with him, but it would seem they’d drifted apart and now they were mending that. Making up for that. And while Tiberius was a good friend, he was also a very useful friend, considering his rank and family and all that. Marcus would be loyal to him for sure.

 And suddenly Tiberius proved once more how good he was… suggesting his own uncle to take him in, once the time came for Marcus to serve as a military tribune, “That would be awesome, Tiberius! If you think he’ll have me. I promise I’ll be hard working, when the time comes. First I need to get started though. Isn’t it irritating sometimes, that things have to take time? That we can’t just… do it all, right now?” He asked thoughtfully, but quickly his mind moved to the next thing, “Maybe we should do something. If you feel like leaving this bath, we could move on to the laconicum*? Or should we get finished, maybe go out for a drink?”

@Sarah

*The laconicum was the dry sweating room of the Roman thermae, contiguous to the caldarium or hot room. 

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Perhaps Tiberius was a late bloomer, or perhaps he'd always been kept busy with other things, in that he was really only starting to think about girls now. Well, apart from his youthful crush on Marcus's sister, his brother's widow. But that didn't count. And it didn't mean that he wasn't willing to learn. I bet she just wants to spend time with you though. It was a lovely thought.

And then Marcus agreed to take Tiberius along to the next party he attended, or held. He was a good friend, and the young Imperial valued him for that. Anything he organised would always have a semi-formal air, being coloured Imperial. The thought of going to something far more casual, where he could meet more of their peers and be at home amongst them, was a good one. And Marcus would be there as well. "Thank you, I'll look forward to it."

"I think he will." Tiberius assured Marcus on the subject of Octavius. Besides, he had a couple of years to butter his uncle up. He laughed when Marcus expressed his impatience. "Oh-ho! Want to be Consul right now, eh?" He teased, whilst imagining that, in some ways, Marcus probably did. At least to not have to wait for his term. Tiberius understood the importance of experience and maturity, but he decided not to lecture his friend. He was pretty sure Marcus knew it too, he just didn't like it.

But his friend made a good point. "You're right, we've been in here too long." He agreed, inspecting his wrinkled fingers. "It's so good to catch up, I lost track of time." He considered the suggestion. In theory they should probably sweat and scrape, but he felt suddenly restless. "Lets go get a drink. And some food." He decided, clambering out of the pool. "Anywhere you'd recommend?" The baths would have a spot selling snacks but he felt like something more interesting.

@Atrice

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It was good to hang out like this and it would seem like they really needed to catch up! So many things had already been discussed and they day was just starting. It would be interesting to take Tiberius to a party, see how he’d react. There was quite the difference between social events at the palace and then more casual events and parties like the ones Marcus liked. It was more loose, less controlled, less guarded. More fun! Yes, it should be really interesting. There was a question on the tip of his tongue, but he’d wait for the right moment before he asked Tiberius about it.

 The future was even discussed too, the topic of being a military tribune and all. But Marcus complained, why did everything have to take so long? The course of honor was a long course, there were so many steps and Marcus knew he was young. He had a long way to go before he’d be anything of importance. Yet he had to prove his worth now, if he wanted to go somewhere… and he did. Needed to lift up the family name again. It was on him, now. It was some responsibility and not one he thought about daily, but it was always there.

 “Maybe not Consul, not yet… besides, those we have are good. I met Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus not too long ago, he was very nice and friendly. And clever too, I think.” That’s what he should strive towards, wasn’t it? Although right now, he could not see himself have so many duties in Rome. He’d rather also have fun. Have fun and rise at the same time, couldn’t you do that? You could always do something. Marcus suggested leaving the warm pool they were in and Tiberius agreed and wanted food.

 “A drink and something to eat it is!” Marcus said, following Tiberius out of the pool and reaching for the nearest towel, “Hmm… there’s an emporium not too far from here, where we can find something. It's by the river? If you know that place? Else I’ll show you.” He promised and proceeded to dry himself before they’d go out to find their clothes and personal slaves waiting for them there. Marcus always made sure Silvanus stayed in the apodyterium, watching over his clothes. He didn’t want any thermae slaves stealing anything from him.

@Sarah

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Tiberius looked forward to the prospect of a more relaxed, less formal event. Quintus might not approve, but Quintus wasn't in Rome, and Tiberius had to make his own decisions sometimes. Besides, socialising was an important part of networking. If he thought of it like that it almost sounded like a good idea.

"Maybe Consul one day then." Tiberius grinned, still teasing gently. And who knew? Maybe Marcus would. There were many years before either would be eligible, and someone had to be. It might as well be a personable young man with close ties to the Imperial family. Ah, but Marcus had spoken with the current Consul. "I spoke with Calpurnius Praetextatus not long ago as well." He revealed. "He is very clever. Well worth learning from. A good ally and a very poor enemy, I would imagine." Fortunately Aulus was a strong ally of the Imperial family. Tiberius thought again to their conversation and, since they'd been talking about Ovinia and Sosia, to his advice on women. He'd cautioned Tiberius against hurrying into marriage, and it had only occured to the prince afterwards that Aulus had a daughter who would be of marriageable age around the time that Tiberius would normally be expected to look for a wife. The Consul was very clever indeed.

As the pair climbed out of the bath they were met with towels and dried themselves off. "I think I know the one you mean. It should be nice and cool by the river." Though not high summer, the year hadn't really turned cold yet. In the apodyterium their slaves met them with their clothes. Tiberius's body slave served as his capsarius and helped his master dress. Once the imperial toga was arranged, he was ready to leave.

"So you're entering the vigintiviri and planning parties." He summarised. "What else, my friend? Anything long term, other than Consul?" What other plans or wants did Marcus have in his life? Tiberius was enjoying the opportunity to catch up and wanted to know all he'd missed.

@Atrice

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Of course Tiberius had met Aulus too, although on a more formal occasion, Marcus assumed. Tiberius hadn’t been at that Domus Venus hosted event, after all. And he was an Imperial with far less experience than Marcus, it seemed. Well he might have to help change that a little bit, if he could. They seemed to agree on the topic of Aulus though, “Yes, I think so too. We better appreciate him for now, then. In case we need him once we’re his age.” After all, older advisers were always useful. And there were different types of them. He could not imagine Longinus as a Consul, but he knew other things, like interesting places to go out and such. Everyone had their purpose. Marcus had his too.

 Soon they were leaving the bath to dry themselves and get dressed. Tiberius said he knew which emporium Marcus talked about and Marcus agreed, it would be a nice place to go. Silence fell between them as they got dressed, each with their body slave to help them. Marcus was finished first, but waited politely for his friend. Tiberius would know if he had other plans for the future then and Marcus chuckled.

 “Not really. Not anything else but glory.” He said with a grin, but tried to turn serious again, “I’ll follow the course and hopefully honor my father and the gods by doing so. What about you? What are your plans?” He wondered as they left the thermae, followed by their house slaves. He didn’t know if Tiberius arrived by foot or if he came in a litter, but he supposed he’d find out soon how they would get to the market by the river.

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"We need him now." Tiberius opined as they dressed. "As we need all those who were our father's allies." But he was thinking on the kind of scale that Caesar operated. Then he smiled. "But yes, value him as a personal political resource. His quality is rare." And he meant it. Aulus seemed genuine and dedicated, with little in the way of ulterior motives. Whether that meant that he had few, or hid them well, Tiberius had not yet decided.

Dried and dressed, the pair departed. There was a Praetorian guard waiting outside with another slave, who fell into discrete step behind them, but it was otherwise obvious that Tiberius had come on foot. The young Imperial nodded to the pair but otherwise ignored them, focusing on his conversation with his friend as the two wove their way through the city from the baths.

"I'm sure you will." And hopefully Marcus would gain the honour and reputation that his older, adoptive brother seemed to have lost. But it was notable that he apparently hadn't thought farther than that. Mind you, they were both young and Marcus younger, but in that moment Tiberius wondered whether he thought too much. "I will continue to follow the course, and support Titus Augustus of course." He began, as though that was in any doubt. "But I have been thinking that I should begin to organise my own household. Claim whatever there is of my inheritance from my parents," by which he meant his biological parents, "and secure myself and my sister. We can't live in the palace family rooms forever."

It was past time Claudia was wed, and he felt that he should make something of himself other than just Caesar's brother. Like his uncles had. Octavius and Jullus had their own households, their own projects. He wanted that too.

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Yes, of course they needed to appreciate and remain friendly with people like Aulus at the moment too, and not just for the future, but for now. They were the ones who knew how things were done – Aulus could surely teach Tiberius and Marcus a few things about life. Marcus could admire that. Just like he admired Longinus, who seemed much more carefree and it was just the life he hoped to live someday. Maybe with a bit more glory to it. Longinus seemed settled where he was, without a need to climb further, and Marcus would have that. He already did.

 But he simply nodded at Tiberius clever words about Aulus and soon they departed the baths to find a meal together. Tiberius’ guard waited outside and soon they walked down the street, followed by the guard, their personal slaves and another slave that had accompanied Tiberius there. Quite the little tail they had, he thought with a smile. And noticed a girl he knew as they walked out, she was on her way in. He gave her a wink, but they kept on walking.

 They continued to talk about their plans for the future, and Tiberius would of course also follow the course and support Titus. Then he moved on to speak about having his own household for himself and his sister.

 “Have you discussed these ideas with her? She seems pretty settled in the palace. But I imagine she should marry soon. Is that responsibility on you?” He then wondered. It must be. Tiberius could already be the Pater Familias of his own household! He continued to think about the idea of having your own place.

 “Having your own household must be nice. I could have one too. If it wasn’t for my brother.” He sighed, “I live with my mother still, and her husband, but I would love to have my own place too. Or just live with Lucius. But we don’t have the means for that right now and he’s not in Rome. Maybe I should help you with yours. If you would dare to let me.” He added with a small smile, that was the least he could do, right?

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Marcus knew the Imperials well, having grown up with them, and Tiberius grinned and chuckled when he asked if he'd discussed his ideas with his sister yet. "No, I haven't braved that conversation yet." He admitted. Claudia was known for being a formidable individual in her own right. "The first person to speak to will be Quintus. I must write to him." As his adoptive father, Quintus Augustus had managed his upbringing, and still had great authority over his life. "Claudia need not come if she does not will it." He saw no need to have a fight over that.

Whose responsibility it was to find Claudia a husband was a good question. "We're both nearly twenty summers. Quintus only adopted me; and I'm Claudia's closest male relative. But if father had someone in mind for her, I would likely defer to his wisdom." And frankly it would be a problem out of his hair. Claudia was probably more likely to listen to him than to her brother anyway. Clearly she wasn't keen for marriage, else she would likely have raised the subject herself.

"I think it would be." He agreed on the subject of a household of his own. "It was different when Quintus was Caesar; I guess we still felt like children, learning from him. Now I feel like I'm taking up space I don't need to be. Does that make sense?" He couldn't live in the palace forever, and all of his uncles had their own households. He thought that having a household of his own would allow him to have a more independent life, both personally and politically, whilst always being his brother's staunchest supporter, of course.

He imagined that Marcus might desire similar freedom, given the actions of his older brother. How much would that mean to him? He gave his friend a conspiritorial smile. "I'd like that." He admitted. "If it comes to that. But it would be good to have our freedom." Roman culture was such that young people seemed to be acknowledged by degrees. You weren't even worthy of a name until you'd survived your first eight or nine days, because so many didn't. You gradually learned and grew, and were finally acknowledged as a person in potentia with your toga virilis. You weren't really considered adult until you'd seen at least twenty years, and not as a political entity until you were thirty. Suddenly Tiberius was trying to negotiate that transition into adulthood without his father figure.

He'd write to Quintus. And he'd talk to his uncles.

@Atrice

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Marcus gave Tiberius a look, when he admitted he’d not spoken to Claudia about marriage yet. He hadn’t dared? Well she was an independent girl, always had been. Very thoughtful and considerate. Like Tiberius. They were nothing like Marcus, the twins, but they were his friends none the less and he’d be there for them. Tiberius mused about speaking to Quintus about it. He was Claudia’s closest male relative, as Quintus had not also adopted Claudia – Marcus could not understand why, it would make sense if he did – but that meant it was kind of up in the air who decided what she did.

 “I’m sure he’ll have something clever to say on the matter, no matter what.” Marcus commented, before they turned to the subject of having your own household. Tiberius would have one and Marcus naturally offered helping him out. He had no means to buy a proper domus for himself, but he’d earn his way there eventually. He would not dare to rely on Lucius for that. If Lucius had thought twice, he might have realized that while he ruined everything for their relative by burning down their property… he also ruined it for Marcus. It was hard to forgive that, especially when he used to look up to Lucius so much. And then everything took a wrong turn.

 “It makes sense. I feel much the same.” But he couldn’t do much about it, the taking up space he didn’t need to be taking. So he was happy to hear that Tiberius would let him help with his, should it be needed. Maybe he could hang out there instead of at his mother’s husband or at the palace.

 “Having a bit of freedom would be very good. But until then, let’s take what we can. Starting with that awesome party we’re going to have.” He said with a grin to his friend, looking forwards to see what such a special party would bring to them both, and everyone else. The future could still be bright, they just had to start building it.

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"I'm sure he will." Quintus was intelligent, and canny, and had brought Rome out of one of her most turbulent times. Tiberius had nothing but respect for his adoptive father. Not having him here in Rome did make the young man feel rather alone at times, without his most constant role model, but he still had his uncles. It had been going to happen, it was only a question of when. He'd hoped it wouldn't be quite so soon.

Marcus was Tiberius's friend, and on one level they were just two boys on the verge of manhood, hanging out together and enjoying each other's company. On another level they represented two very distinguished families, one fallen on hard times, and Tiberius couldn't help but be aware that if he could help Marcus up out of his currently reduced situation, he would have a loyal supporter for life, which could be very important politically. Part of him hated that he could think so coldly, objectively, about his friend, whilst part of him was aware that Marcus would only thank him for it if he could do just that.

And he knew that he would, if he could. Marcus's family had a long history; his sister had been Augusta, however briefly. Lucius... well, any family could have a loose stallion, but Lucius had brought their fortunes low, so that Marcus could not even afford to move out of his step mother's house. That would have to change, and Tiberius thought he already had an idea.

First things first. "I shall write to Quintus, and let you know what he says." He promised. If the Gods were kind, he would see sense in allowing Tiberius this much more freedom. But Marcus was right, no point in chewing on it further when they could not progress the matter themselves. Better to look to what they could progress. "I'd like to invite any Senatores of our age, and their sisters. We should know our peers. I'll also invite all the young Imperials." Who were their political peers, and included some who were not immediate family. "You remember Claudia Corinthia, don't you?" He asked, glancing at Marcus.

Young, beautiful, Imperial and rich Claudia Corinthia.

@Atrice

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The river came into sight as they walked and talked. It was really nice, just spending time with Tiberius, talking about this and that, everything and nothing. Ladies, parties, their current lives and their future. And the fact that Tiberius wanted to get his own household. Marcus wished he could do the same, but for the time being, he could not. He could only support Tiberius, which was something that came natural to him, since they’d known each other for a long time.

 Tiberius mentioned he’d write to Quintus to hear what he had to say on the matter of Tiberius moving to his own place and Marcus nodded, that made sense. He could ask his mother’s husband of course, but although the man tried, he never really felt like a proper father to Marcus. He never really had one father figure to look up, someone who would guide him and who had been there all the time. The closest to that was Longinus. Maybe he should see him soon; maybe he’d have some advice for a young man like Marcus? 

They returned to the topic of the party again and Tiberius explained whom he’d like to invite. Marcus nodded, “That sounds good… it’ll be an interesting party.” Marcus promised with an amused smile and then Tiberius mentioned Claudia Corinthia.

 “She’s not exactly forgettable.” He said with a grin, she was a few years older than Marcus, she was beautiful but also quite the little minx. Someone he’d like to spy on as a young boy, she had a gorgeous body back then, probably even more mature now. Marcus wondered how much she’d done, she was not married yet, as far as he knew. But he did like experienced women. Her mother had been a slave, who was freed and then married a former Caesar. It was an interesting family to be sure! “Will you invite her too? Is she even in Rome at the moment?”

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It would be an interesting party, hopefully. And there would be plenty of more formal opportunities to socialise with their peers, but Tiberius had the second aim of helping Titus relax and remember to have a little fun. His cousin had always been the more outgoing, fun-loving of the two, and he worried that being thrust into the role of Caesar might dampen Titus's spirit to the point where he too suffered some mysterious ailment, as others of their families had in the role.

It was Tiberius's turn to grin when Marcus pointed out that Claudia Corinthia wasn't exactly forgettable. He wasn't wrong. And yes, she was a strong personality, but she wasn't alone in that amongst the Imperial women. It had been a while since he'd been close to his cousin; her unusual family situation made her a bit of an outsider at times, though really that benefited no one. Perhaps he should visit her.

"I did say 'all the young Imperials'." He replied impishly. "I can't guarantee she'll attend - you're right, but I hope she will. She is part of the family." Which meant she was kin and important, and also that she had the potential to make powerful ties through marriage, or cause problems. Again Tiberius harboured that dual train of thought, viewing Corinthia as both dear cousin and political tool. "I'll send a slave to her house, see if she is in Rome at the moment." Somehow though he couldn't imagine Corinthia retiring quietly to an estate; she had the kind of strong, vivacious personality that throve in the city.

Neither of them were really old enough to be looking seriously for a wife, but Tiberius couldn't help but think that a marriage to a rich young lady might just give Marcus the boost and freedom he needed.

"What would you look for in a lady, if you were looking for a wife?" He asked, curious.

@Atrice

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