Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Early August, 76 AD

 Well lately had been eventful! It wasn’t like he was bored at all with the job he had with Teutus, the warehouse gave him plenty to do. And then he happened upon Ovinia, such a beautiful young woman in need of a proper guard, and he’d escorted her home. And now her father would pay him to escort her out from time to time too. But he liked not being bored and he liked meeting interesting, intelligent people. And who wouldn’t like to spend some time in the company of a lady like Ovinia, even if he should not think further than to actually guarding her. Not with his entire body. Only if he needed to.

 Gods, what a night it had been! He stretched in his bed. The company he had for the night had already left, he probably had to go to work, and Alexius was alone. Lexus usually also left early for his job and he had it all to himself. He wandered out to splash a bit of cold water in his face and emptied a cup of wine that stood on the table, although it had turned sour over the night. Oh well, a bit of wine was better than nothing, best not to let it go to waste, right?

 But he was hungry and had little to eat with the wine, so what to do about that? He tossed a tunica over his head and left the small insula. He didn’t feel like going down to the street just yet, so knocking on some door to ask if they’d share some morning bread with him was the next best thing. And he had many friends in the house now. First he considered Didia, but decided she too would be busy working now. Maybe Teutus was at home?

 He ran both hands through his hair to try and set it, although it probably didn’t work, and then he went knocking on Teutus’ door. He had a larger insula than Alexius had, and he knew Teutus bought some slaves recently… maybe it would be one of them, answering the door?  

@Sarah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was Teutus's coenaculum within the insula building, but the three rooms felt like a palace now that they actually belonged to them. Well, as much as rented space did. But they didn't belong to a master of theirs. They were free. She was still getting used to the idea, testing this new freedom a little each day, then returning to what she knew. Right now she was clearing up from the household's ientaculum, the early morning meal, with Prosperpine's assistance. Teutus had insisted that she had to have her own body slave, though Varinia felt she barely knew what to do with the young woman. But being here meant that she wasn't elsewhere, and she didn't mind the help or the company, and quietly enjoyed the fancy hair styles.

All seemed peaceful, until there was a knocking at the door. Varinia jumped, momentarily on edge because there was no door slave nor master to defer to. No, this was hers and Teutus's space, which meant that she had to take responsibility for the door.

Straightening up, she adjusted her pale blue stola over her tunica - she'd only let Teutus buy her one new set, insisting that she'd weave more when she'd spun enough wool - and turned to open the door.

The man on the other side was unfamiliar to her; tall, muscular and with a foreign look about him not unlike her own. With all the practiced hauture of a slave of Patricians, which she didn't actually feel, she met his gaze squarely. "Can I help you?"

@Atrice

Edited by Sarah
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius waited patiently, he was used to Teutus opening the door, but the younger man was constantly busy with his business and it might be one the recently bought slaves, who opened the door. No matter, surely Teutus was at home at this hour? What hour was it? Was it actually early? Or maybe it wasn’t, since he woke up alone in the bed and Lexus was already gone. Oh well, he’d get on with the day soon enough. As soon as he had a bit to eat and a bit more to drink. And maybe stopped by a thermae too.

 It took a short while before the door was opened, but then it was, by none other than a most gorgeous woman with dark hair and friendly, grey eyes. She even wore a blue stola. Who was this? Not that her age mattered at all, but she looked a bit old to be a wife to Teutus, didn’t she? But she certainly wasn’t a slave either.

 Meanwhile, she seemed to look him over too and finally broke the silence by speaking. Right, he had come here for… something! To eat, something to eat! That was the purpose!

 He met her eyes as she looked up at him, “I hope so?” He suggested with a charming grin, “I actually hoped to find Teutus here, but I don’t know if he’s at home?” Alexius tried to look past her for a moment, as if he thought Teutus would pop up, but of course he didn’t and he returned his gaze to the lady, “I’m Alexius, by the way. I’m both his friend and employee.” Just so she knew who he was, in case she was suspicious by him showing up here. He cursed the fact that he just tossed yesterday’s tunica over the head, instead of putting on something proper before he came here.

@Sarah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Varinia felt oddly naked, taking responsibility for her own - well, her son's - door, but she hid it well. Slaves were accustomed to hiding their feelings. But the fact was that she didn't know this man, who he was or what his intentions might be, His initial response was perplexing, but the man soon explained himself, and recognition dawned. "Teutus did mention you, Alexius." She said, studying his face to commit it to memory. "I'm Varinia; Teutus's mother."

"He left for the warehouse early, he has a shipment coming in." Was it wise to let him know that there was no man in the house? Too late now. "I imagine you'll find him there, and he might be expecting you." Since her son apparently employed this man.

He hadn't really gone into specifics as to what he employed Alexius for, but Varinia felt no particular need to know every detail of her son's business. He'd clearly done well enough for himself already, which made a mother proud.  Maybe this man was a guard? He looked like a fighter, like a gladiator or similar really, right down to the scars and heavy musculature. It occurred to her that if he tried to force his way in, there was nothing that she could do about it.

But surely if this man was her son's friend and employee, she could trust him. She knew it was the newness of her status that was, at times, making her a little paranoid. She kept telling herself that she would grow accustomed to it in time. She had to be able to trust people, or she'd go mad, so she resolved to give the benefit of the doubt.

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius judged that he would have known, if the woman was a wife to Teutus. Surely Teutus would have told him such a thing! And she was a little old anyway, for Teutus at least. Unless Teutus was into that sort of thing and didn’t believe that attractiveness had a certain age – which was what Alexius felt. It didn’t have an age. You could be younger than him or older, but as long as Alexius thought someone were attractive, well… that’s what he’d think. And he could care less about what society thought of such relations. He didn’t belong to anyone. But no… she probably wasn’t his wife. And she stated as much, when she finally spoke.

 Teutus´… mother?!

 That might complicate things. Not that it had to! But well, he just met her, so he didn’t even need to think that far yet. What a fine looking mother though. But before he could say more, she began talking about where Teutus might be. She must have been a slave once, he thought, since he knew Teutus was a freedman and born a slave. But she was here and not dressed like a slave. She must be free. How good for both them.

 “Oh… it’s not early anymore?” He said with a grin, scratching the back of his head, “I think I may have… overslept a little? It got late. But no matter, I’ll get there. I just came knocking because I hoped Teutus might have a bit of bread or something to share, as all I have at home is wine.” He explained and his face lit up in a smile again, “And then I met you! I see where he inherited his good looks from.” Alexius would be the last person to not share such an important fact with someone!

@Sarah

  • Haha 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh… it’s not early anymore?

Perhaps it was deliberate, but as Alexius spoke he went from possible threat to friend of her son to slightly bumbling charmer. It was a big shift. Which would prove closest to the truth would remain to be seen, but whilst Varinia might have only had one child, she had a maternal streak a mile wide. Teutus had only managed to pry Amandus from her by promising to look after him.

She laughed, flushing a slight pink at his words, unaccustomed to such compliments, even if they were just because he was looking for food. Suddenly it didn't matter that he was obviously closer to her age, he was a friend of her son and thus another young man in need of mothering. "Of course. Come in Alexius, I'll get you some bread." She held the door open so that he could enter, leaving it that way as she turned to cut another piece from the loaf she'd bought for the household early that morning. Spreading a little oil on it, she set it on a plate and put it on the low table, so that Alexius could sit down. He'd said he had wine at home, so she brought him some water.

Nearby Prosperpine - younger and not obviously related - was sorting some clothes.

@Atrice

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

She laughed at his compliments and even blushed a bit, which was sweet. It made her look younger. Not that she looked very old, to be honest, but she had to be, if she was Teutus’ mother. Not much older than Alexius though, or so he thought? He knew Teutus had been the first-born son to his father, long before he married, so it made sense the mother had been young too. A slave, taken advantage of. He knew the story. But it didn’t make her less attractive in his eyes.

 Finally, the lovely Varinia allowed him inside for a bit of bread. She held the door so that he could enter, and he did. She was fairly tall for a woman, wasn’t she? She’d have made a good gladiatrix. Or warrior. He could admire that too. And yet she seemed friendly, there was something soft about her. Maybe because she was a mother? Not that that made her less attractive either. Nothing so far did, actually.

 “Thank you, Varinia, you’re very kind.” He said as he entered the home, it wasn’t the first time he’d been here. She hurried to find some bread, but it was only after she returned and put it on the table, that he actually sat down. He took a bite, still grateful to know Teutus and know that he had access to good quality olive oil… among other things. He glanced at the younger woman present, but she didn’t speak up. Looked sweet though. But Varinia had his attention.

 “It feels kind of wrong, it’s not my home… but won’t you sit down too? There’s no need to stand and wait.” He said with a smile, “Oh, unless of course I interrupted you! You don’t need to entertain me or anything.” Alexius said with a grin. She treated her guest well. There was honestly nothing to dislike about her so far.

@Sarah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Varinia had no illusions about her age; she'd spent the best years of her life serving Tertius's family. And she'd given Tertius everything she had, not that she'd really had a great deal of choice in the matter. But it was what it was. Now, suddenly, she had a new life and new hope, and she was becoming accustomed to it, still learning exactly what that meant. It didn't yet mean that she'd given any thought to her relative attractiveness to men. If she had thought about it, she would have acknowledged that she needed to resolve things with Tertius, before she thought about even the possible idea of looking for a husband. A little part of the young girl she had been still hoped he might want her, and needed an answer. The more mature woman was pretty sure she knew what the answer would be, but sometimes one had to walk the path, even if one knew the destination.

But freedom meant a great many things, and part of the duties of one who ran a household was to entertain the guests and friends of the master of the house. Sure they didn't usually drop in unannounced, but it was a chance for her to get to know Teutus's friend and business associate.

It was good olive oil, she'd bought it a few days ago. Varinia had no need of gross indulgences, but she could appreciate the joy in a few items of quality, like the gleaming bronze fibulae that pinned her clothes. They'd been a gift from her son and she treasured them, and in turn did what she could to ensure that their household ran smoothly and pleasantly. That included buying good bread and oil.

She and Proserpine had just been finishing cleaning up from the morning whirlwind that was the boys getting ready for work - even old Olipor was lumped under 'the boys' in her head - and about to head out, but there was no rush. Her body slave could finish up she decided, and accepted Lucius's invitation to join him with a smile. It was too easy to stand and wait, a lifetime's habit as a slave. But now she was the lady of the house.

"You're not interrupting." She assured him politely, even though it was a lie. Was a welcome interruption really an interruption? "Teutus told me that you work with him." She revealed. "Do you mind if I ask you what you do?"

She was curious. Her impressions of Alexius before and after he spoke were quite different, and that intrigued her. He seemed rough and a bit unruly, yet friendly and polite. And surely it would help her to help Teutus if she understood those whom he worked with?

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius did sometimes drop in unannounced, because usually people he did it with, knew him and then didn’t have a problem with it. And at least in certain parts of this insula, they knew each other very well. Didia usually didn’t mind Alexius dropping by either, and there was Aia and Decimus, but he was careful to not drop in unannounced there. They seemed so in love, so he didn’t want to interrupt them when they had time for each other.

 But Teutus usually didn’t seem to mind and Varinia here was very kind so far too. Kind and pretty. Not unlike her son. She was well-dressed too, he did noticed the fibulae she wore, although such things mattered little to him. Clothes didn’t always tell you what kind of a person you spoke to. You needed to get to know them. It was the person wearing the clothes and the jewels, who mattered. And often it also mattered what was underneath clothes. Alexius knew no such thing as impure thoughts. It was all the same to him.

 She sat down when he invited her to, although it was not his home. Although he supposed she was used to serving men and standing when they sat. Well now it was different. She told him he did not interrupt her and then of course she wanted to know what he did for Teutus.

 “I work as the head guard of his warehouse. He told me about his ideas a long time ago, when we first met. And I told him I’d come work for him, should he need it. He’s got the brains. I’ve got the muscle to match.” He said with a smile, but then realized what he just said to Teutus’ mother, “Not that Teutus isn’t a very fine and fit man.” He then added, “Because he is. How can you not admire a man like him, with hopes and dreams? I’m glad he gets to do what he wants to do.” And then he finished, tearing a piece of the bread to have another bite. Teutus’ warehouse wasn’t his only job though, as he even now had been unable to turn down another job offer to guard Ovinia from time to time.

@Sarah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The large and somewhat intimidating man worked as the head guard at Teutus's warehouse. That made perfect sense. He looked like a guard, or like the kind of man you'd want as your guard. Strong, capable, and just slightly scary. But Teutus obviously trusted him if he employed him, and so far Alexius had done nothing more intimidating than admit that he was out of food and ask for something to eat. Which just showed that, despite one's instincts, one shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.

He’s got the brains. I’ve got the muscle to match.... Not that Teutus isn’t a very fine and fit man.

Varinia laughed, amused. "We all have our strengths and weaknesses, Alexius." She assured him. "Recognising what they are is in itself a piece of wisdom. Working with those who complement us is another." She might have been a slave but she'd been a slave to patricians, and she had ears. She'd listened with interest when they'd talked. Much of the complex politics she hadn't understood, but she'd taken some of the more sensible advice on board. Plus she'd had her own time to think about how life worked.

And how did it work for this man, who remembered to buy wine and not food? "I'm glad you're working with Teutus, it sounds like the business is doing well." She wasn't involved in the workings of it and didn't want to be. "He is getting to follow his dreams, and do what he wants to do." Some of them anyway. Others he couldn't control, and that was life for all of them. At least he was grasping the opportunities and dreams that he could follow. Including hers.

"And what about you, Alexius?" She asked, curious. "What do you want to do?" Surely even men who worked as hired muscle had aspirations. Didn't everyone?

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius should definitely not be judged by his appearance. He might look like a bit of a brute sometimes, but then he’d smile and some ladies had said that smile could light up the world. And if he cared for someone, they knew it. And he cared for a lot of people, to be honest. Called many his friends and they knew they could confide in him. He’d listen and let them borrow his shoulder or more, should they need that. Even Teutus knew, considering that’s literally how they met.

 Varinia laughed sweetly at his words and he smiled, enjoying her laughter. She spoke of strengths and weaknesses and how it was wisdom knowing what they were in yourself. He nodded, “Are you saying I’m wise, sweet Varinia? Thank you.” He asked with a little smile, he hadn’t heard many people say that to him. They had many things to compliment him for, but his wisdom was never one of them. Until now, it would seem. So she was very sweet to him. Seeing that there was more to him than the eye could see. The lovely lady went on, seeming glad too that Teutus did what he wanted to do. Alexius nodded, they could both agree on that. And then she suddenly asked him what he wanted to do. She was full of surprises, was she not?

 He drank a little of his water while thinking… what did he want to do? He tried to not think too much about it, because that sometimes got his mind into dark places and he didn’t like going there. But she asked and it would be impolite to not answer her… “For work, I suppose I’m doing it now. I do what I do best. I protect.” He finally said and then it just came, before he thought about what he said. Because that’s why he didn’t believe he was a very good thinker… he usually said what was on his mind, before considering the words first, “Someday I’d like to settle down with someone who will take me for what I am, and not expect me to be anything but that. But such people are hard to find. Impossible, it seems. But, I’m pleased enough with my life as it is. I shouldn’t complain. It’s much better than what it could be.” He said. Saying such words also convinced himself it really was a good life he had. And it was! How could he ask for anything but what he had, by now?

@Sarah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Wiser than many I've met." She confirmed cheerfully, not quite certain how she felt about being called 'sweet', but she let it go for now. Some men were terribly charming, and some simply thought they were. She wasn't certain whether she wanted to be charmed yet, or ever. She had unfinished business to attend to. But Alexius was proving surprisingly pleasant company, for all her initial impression. Certainly she wouldn't object if her son had his friend around more often.

His initial declaration that he was already doing what he wanted to do for work was pleasing, in a way. Small, simple satisfactions were often the best, and the easiest to come by, and she was pleased for him. Then suddenly more words flowed forth, as though by asking her question she'd tapped a barrel of wine, and nothing would stop the flow. She'd never viewed herself as the type that others confided in, but that was what Alexius did now.

On the surface his wish was simple and honest enough; to find someone to 'settle down' with, who appreciated him for who he was. But then he said that such people were hard to find, almost impossible, and it gave Varinia pause. What was it about the man that others apparently found so hard to accept? Or was he simply looking in the wrong places?

She tipped her head to the side, studying him with interest. "And what are you, Alexius?" She asked, gentle curiosity in her tone.

@Atrice

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apparently now he was a wise man. That was a first, he'd never heard anyone name him wise before. Many other things, but not that. So it was kind of her to call him that and in turn, how could he not deem her sweet? Because she was. Very beautiful and very sweet, to him. That she was also Teutus' mother was an issue he had to work with, but that didn't take anything from her, honestly. She was the way she was. Sweet, beautiful, friendly, open-minded it seemed. And curious about him and his life.

So when she asked what he wanted to do with his life, he explained that he was doing it. Work-wise anyway. When it came to his personal life, he had wishes for more and he didn't know why he told her, but she asked and it did not feel wrong to tell her this. That he hoped to find someone who could accept him for what he was and not try to change him. Because he wasn't going to, at least he had come to terms with that. Varinia listened quietly to his little speech, and then he drank a sip of his water.

And then he almost spat it out again, when she asked what he was. Right, she didn't know him. How to tell her this without her getting the wrong idea about him? People usually didn't ask him! They knew! Or they'd find out and they'd like finding out too. 

"It's hard to explain without being judged. Not that you appear judgmental or anything. More the opposite." Alexius said with a smile to her, "I... have a certain reputation...  and it's not wrong either. I like people. All kinds. And I like making them feel good. Very good." He added with a wink, hopefully she understood the meaning, "I don't seem able to stop? It's who I am." He shrugged. So that's what it was like. If he ever found anyone he'd like to settle down with, they'd have to accept that part of him and not expect him to change. Because he was not going to, at least he didn't think so. He tried for Oriana, when they were together. But even then, he failed. Even though he might have loved her, he was even unable to stay true to her. He'd come to terms with it himself, at least.

@Sarah

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The man continued to be a puzzle. Simple yet complex, straightforward in some ways, almost coy in others. Effortlessly complimenting, yet slow to take a compliment from her. And then he spoke of wanting to settle down with a partner, but wanting acceptance for what he was, which was apparently impossible to find. Not that he was a guard, surely. Nor even that he was the kind of man who forgot to buy food; the Gods knew there were enough men who couldn't organise a drink in a Taberna, and would starve without a wife or mother. Though apparently Alexius could at least organise a drink.

It had to be something else, something less savoury. He didn't seem the type to be a money lender, but he might be an enforcer for one who was. Stories circulated about what happened to those who could not pay their debts. He didn't strike her as organised enough to be a brothel owner, but he might be a pimp or a guard for one. He wouldn't be the first. She could ponder forever, or she could just ask.

Perhaps it was her time as a slave, speaking quickly and only when spoken to, and mostly spoken to in clear orders, or perhaps it was simply her nature, but Varinia was learning that she wasn't the sort to mince words. So, as gently as she could, she asked him. And, somewhat surprisingly, she got a fairly straight answer. True, it wasn't until the wink that what he was getting at became clear, but when it did she understood. Her instinctive response was to judge, according to the expectations of society, but she stamped on that firmly in her mind, having already resolved not to. Here was a man - her initial thought was 'a young man' but no, he was about her age - who'd opened up to her, she would treat him with the respect she would hope for.

And some might say that, according to the proclivities of many Roman men, he was living the dream. But most Roman women would view him rather differently. Declaring that he was what some might disparagingly term a 'man-whore' was both bold and vulnerable, but above all it was honest. And again she was struck by his simple wisdom; he held no illusions about himself. "Again, you show the wisdom of self-honesty." She said in warm, gentle tones. "It's more than many can do, to view themselves so clearly." And that she could appreciate. It was the kind of view she tried to cultivate in herself.

"It's true that society holds certain views, but at the same time all too often what is preached at the front door is not what is practiced at the back." Often people did what they thought they could get away with. At least he was honest about it. "You're probably living as many men would like to. But fewer women." And there was the complication that he had already encountered.

"Tell me, what would you think of a woman who likes making all kinds of people... feel good? As you do?" She asked, after a moment's thought.

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was very rare that people actually asked the questions Varinia asked, and he really saw no reason to lie to her. He knew who and what he was and he was fine with it, except for the part where it was hard to find someone to settle down with. But he liked other people and sex so much, that it was really just a part of him. Why hide it? Why not speak to a woman who actually seemed interested in him. It was only when a silence fell briefly, that he wondered again just how interested in him Varinia might be. Although it would be awkward, considering that Alexius also slept with her son… what a strange family it would be. He should not go there. But she was beautiful. And very likable.

 He took another bite of bread to occupy his mind with something else. And she said again that he was wise and honest and more than what most could do. Alexius couldn’t help but smile, how could he not admire Teutus’ mother? She was a remarkable woman, obviously! And she didn’t even blush at his admission, although he had not stated directly what he did and what his reputation was, but she had clearly guessed it through his words, as he assumed she would. A woman who did not blush at such topics. Remarkable indeed!

 She then spoke of the views society held, and how things were different under the surface of what was seen and talked about. She said many men would like to live as he did, but not so many women.

 “I know one who does… she’s one of a kind.” Alexius said. He had more than once considered to ask Gaia if she would marry him, he had known her for so long and they were on the same page. What a life they could share! But he wasn’t sure she wanted a new husband at all. And he hadn’t answered Varinia’s question, not really…

 “I don’t know what I’d think, to be honest. It would depend, I think, on what she’d think of me. I cared for a woman, not so long ago… but she had issues with the way I live. She had this idea, that she could marry another man of a proper rank and still keep me. But at the same time, she didn’t like the idea of me sleeping around.” One of several reasons why it didn’t work out in the end, “I think it would be easier, if we were on the same side. Love and pleasure can be the same thing, but isn’t always. And as long as you understand that…” Alexius trailed off, not sure if he got his meaning through at all and he looked up at her with a grin, “I’m sorry, I’m a fool with words. I’m better at showing than telling.”

@Sarah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was rare to have this kind of conversation with someone; especially with a stranger. It had been rare for Varinia to have any kind of meaningful conversation with anyone other than a fellow slave for most of her life. Conversations with her masters and their families had been blunt and to the point. Perhaps that was some of what now made her blunt and to the point, if nicer about it. But the opportunity to have these more meaningful conversations was something of a revelation; and she was enjoying it.

I know one who does… she’s one of a kind.

Varinia imagined that she would be, though perhaps not as rare as he thought. There might well be other women who would like such a lifestyle, but Roman society was hardly supportive of such. Alexius tried to explain the struggles he had faced, detailing a previous arrangement that had failed. She supposed, given that societal expectations were of hetersexual couples with the man possibly having some slave dalliance on the side, that he was walking uncharted territory. And the problem there was that you had to make all your own mistakes.

I’m sorry, I’m a fool with words. I’m better at showing than telling.

Did he... just proposition her? She wasn't sure. The way he suddenly looked at her and grinned. He was handsome enough in his own way, but though she was deliberately trying not to be judgemental, she wasn't certain herself what she thought of his lifestyle. Even as she looked at him, the image of Tertius as she remembered him floated in her minds eye; she had unfinished business, before she considered anyone else.

"You're not a fool Alexius, I think you've explained the problem quite clearly." She assured him. "This one lady you know who shares your preferences sounds like she might be ideal." If she was interested in a stronger relationship with him. "But I think you should consider that Roman society doesn't support women to 'sleep around', for want of a better way of putting it. We are financially beholden to our menfolk, who generally expect fidelity." Which meant that in order to have a home and a comfortable life, women had to live as they were expected to. "I guess what I'm saying is that there might be more women out there who would like to live as you do, if they could. And if you could provide the financial security they need through marriage, then one might be very happy with that arrangement." And the sudden freedom it would entail.

"But Alexius, make sure she'd be happy with it, before you make anything permanent. Or you'll end up in the same situation as last time." Where she'd wanted the financial security of her higher class husband.

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius didn’t consider Varinia a stranger. He knew her name, he sat in her home and he knew her son quite well too. They were almost family. Almost. Not quite. You didn’t sleep around with your family, not like that anyway. Unless you had a relationship with them. But he didn’t. Teutus was his employer and Varinia here was his mother.

 He tried to explain his situation to her, but didn’t feel he came across with it, with the meaning of it. So he grinned and excused himself for being such a fool with words. Alexius was a man of action, usually. He liked doing things. Rather than talking about them. And the look Varinia gave him made him think that he was absolutely right about what he just said. That he was a fool with words. But then she said he was not and spoke about how women were not allowed to sleep around, the way men seemed to do it. 

Alexius sipped his water and let out a little sigh, when she spoke of being able to support a wife financially, so they might live together the way he wanted to. He couldn’t do that. He just had enough for himself and Lexus and that was probably only because Lexus worked too. Maybe it was soon time to encourage his son to go and find his own life… but he didn’t wish to throw him out either. These things weren’t easy. Varinia said then he had to also make sure the woman was happy with the arrangement, and he nodded.

 “Yes, that does seem to be the issue. To find someone who will be happy with such a relationship. And I guess, until I find such a person… my life is what it is.” He said and broke off a bit more bread to dip in the olive oil. He wasn’t unhappy with his life. He was just reaching a point in his life, where he’d like to try and relax more and settle down with someone.

 But, that was his life. And it really wasn’t fair to just keep on talking about himself. He knew that women didn’t always like men, who did nothing but talk about themselves. They needed as much attention as men did. And they deserved it too. So Alexius looked at her again, “Enough about me though. What about you, Varinia? Are you pleased with your life as it is, now?”

@Sarah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On impulse she reached out an squeezed the big man's hand gently. "I'm sorry Alexius. I wish I had an easier answer for you." She said with genuine sympathy. Whilst she didn't think she was one to enjoy the same lifestyle, she never liked to see someone sad, and had a mother's urge to fix things. But then if there was an easier answer he'd no doubt have found it by now. At least he was honest about it, rather than marrying a woman and then sleeping around.

As for her life? "I can honestly say that I'm very pleased." She said, with a genuine smile. "For the first time since I was a girl, I'm free. I have my beloved son back, and we're living in our own home." She gestured around her, as though the three room insula was a grand domus. Perhaps the secret to happiness was not having what you wanted, but wanting what you had. "It's more than I've had for most of my life." She paused as it occured to her that he might not have all the story. "I assume you know I was a slave." It was obvious to her, but perhaps not to everyone else. But she wasn't shy about it, just very, very glad that it was over.

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

She was sweet, for seeming to care for him, even though she just met him. It was rare Alexius had such deep conversations with a woman he just met... it was rare there was much conversation at all, in fact. And he could easily picture himself with Varinia, not doing a whole lot of talking either, but it wouldn't be silent in the room. But they were having a conversation. So he should not picture that. And she was Teutus' mother. Was that off? That he thought of her that way, when he also invited her son to his bed once? Teutus had needed it though. The distraction and the feeling of someone taking good care of him, that day. And it had not been bad. It was a pity Varinia didn't appear all that charmed by him, even if she seemed to like talking to him.

He tried to turn the conversation to her then, thinking it wasn't fair to her that they only spoke of him and his life and his issues. Varinia said she was pleased with her life, since she was free now and she even had her son back and they had their own home. Alexius couldn't help but smile at the way she gestured around her, she did seem truly pleased with it. And he could imagine why she would be. She had everything she could dream of here, didn't she? Or almost, anyway.

"I know, I think Teutus told me once. Or maybe Charis did... she's a slave to Teutus' father, in his house. She knows the whole story too, I guess." He said, sending Charis a brief thought. It had been a while since he last saw her. So much had happened since. He hoped she was fine, her and her son. 

"I'm happy for you, that you've got all that you have now. It must have been a relief, to see Teutus again. And you get along fine, it seems?" Alexius was still trying to work out how to get along perfectly with his son, but they were just so different. Lexus was his son mostly by name, by blood and by his appearance. Inside, they were different.

@Sarah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

He seemed like a nice enough fellow, a bit disorganised and idealistic but earnest and without any intent to harm. She could appreciate that. And she had a feeling that, should she want it, there was an offer there. But Varinia didn't honestly know what she wanted, yet. She had unfinished business, and until she had resolved where she stood with Tertius, she knew she couldn't think of another man. She hoped to at least build a cooperative friendship, but until she'd had from him that there was no chance of more, the young woman inside her who was still a dreamer wouldn't let her look elsewhere. But she had plans to resolve that, one way or another.

Would she want a life like Alexius though? She wasn't sure. She'd never been the type to share her bed with someone she'd just met; once she'd the Quintillius Varus household she'd had a brief relationship with a fellow slave, but it was after they'd served together for over a year and built up a friendship. Really, if it was anyone it would likely be one person, whom she knew well. Perhaps if she came to know Alexius better, but she'd still have to decide how she felt about his own preferences. Until Tertius was resolved it would be no one. 

Meanwhile she had many aspects of her life to explore, including her son's friends. Apparently he knew Charis as well; Tertius's slave and mother of his child. They moved in a small world. "I assume that she does. Teutus told me about her." She said evenly. Was she upset about the woman who had replaced her? She could have been, but what was the point? It achieved nothing, and she had so much now to be happy about.

She smiled when Alexius said he was happy for her. "It was a relief, and we do, which is also a relief." She admitted. "We've both changed in the last eight years, but not too much." Which had been a wonderful discovery. She'd feared that he might not want his mother fussing around or running his household, but he seemed to really appreciate her presence, and that was all that she asked.

"You know Charis then." She said. "Do you know Tertius's household at all?" She asked, interested. "At some point I need to speak with him, just so we both know where things stand in our little extended family." And it was a conversation she was both anticipating and dreading.

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius could not live his life hoping that any lovely woman or man wanted to bed him – he knew he’d find company and he couldn’t think about it all the time anyway. Varinia deserved his attention, for all that she had given him so far, so he kindly asked into how she was doing with her new and free life and how she was with Teutus. Varinia said that Teutus had told her about Charis too and Alexius nodded, that made sense. He knew that Charis and Teutus had once been friends. Maybe they still were? And they knew each other well enough, at least. Enough for it being weird, when Teutus knocked on Alexius’ door and found Charis there…

 He really ought to see her soon… but Varinia continued telling about what a relief it was to be with Teutus again and getting along with him. Alexius smiled at her words, “I’m very happy for you… and for Teutus.” He said to her, because he really was. Seeing his friends doing well made him happy too. Varinia then asked into Charis and also Tertius’ household. She said she wanted to speak with him.

 “I have never been inside, to be honest. But I know Teutus and I know Charis.” They had a history… and that was saying it mildly… “From what I gather, it’s a rather… complicated family or household? I mean, Teutus isn’t very happy about his father. And his father now has a new son with Charis. The first time I met Teutus, he was drinking because he’d just witnessed his father recognizing his new son as his own, which I know never happened with Teutus. It must have been rough.” He said, “I think you need to be careful, if you go and speak to Tertius. Not that I ever met him, but it does not seem like he makes life easy for anyone who know him well.”

@Sarah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was interesting that this man knew both Teutus and Charis. How had he come to know a slave in Tertius's household, since he didn't apparently know Tertius? But Teutus had said that he was friends with Charis, so perhaps that was the connection. It was a complicated web that they all wove and Varinia was still feeling her way along it, one careful step at a time.

Still, her heart ached for her boy when Alexius explained how he'd met Teutus. "I know it was hard for him." Because Teutus had told her. It had been hard for her too, when Tertius had rejected the son she had given him. "Tertius couldn't recognise Teutus when he was born; it would have had to have been his father Publius, who was still alive then." She explained. "Publius was not happy when Tertius got me pregnant, and he still had two sons, I assume he felt he had no need of a slave's bastard as a grandson." Those were the facts of the matter, which didn't make the pain that Teutus felt any less. "I was devastated, but I've come to terms with it." It wasn't like she had any choice. Now she had to help her son come to terms with it. Of course, if Varinia'd had her preference, Teutus would have been born free to another man in a village in Gaul, and neither of them would ever have known what it was to be a slave.

She smiled slightly as Alexius warned her about the complexities that Tertius seemed to create in people's lives. "I willl be careful." She assured him, touched that he cared enough to warn her. "I know Tertius, like few others know him. But I know he will have changed." How much remained to be seen. She shrugged slightly. "We shall see." And really that was all that could be said.

"Can I get you anything else to eat, Alexius?"

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius had known Charis for much longer than he’d known Teutus. He’d known about Teutus for a long time, but when he finally met the younger man, he was unaware that it was the Teutus that Charis told him about. He took way too long putting two and two together – it wasn’t until that awkward Saturnalia morning, when Teutus came knocking at his door and Charis was there… that he understood. He felt he should have. He still felt it was his mistake that he did not guess.

 But the conversation was not about all that. Instead he told what he knew of Teutus and Teutus’ father and Charis of course, and the new son. Although he had yet to encounter the small boy, but with Charis as his mother, he would have to turn out good looking, Alexius deemed. As long as his father didn’t ruin the boy. Varinia explained that she knew how hard it must have been for Teutus with a  new brother and she explained more about their backstory then. How Tertius’ father had been unhappy with her pregnant and Teutus was just a bastard. Fucking Romans.

 “It must have been hard. I can’t imagine what it must have been like. And you were quite young too, I imagine?” Teutus was in his prime years at the moment, after all. Varinia must have been younger than Charis, when she became a mother. Fucking Ro… she promised to be careful with Tertius, but also said she knew him well.

 “I guess you must know him well. Since… you have known him for so long.” Alexius said and downed the last of the water she brought him, after she asked if she could get anything else for him, “No, I think I’m good. And I guess I should be going.” He said and stood, “Apologies for the intrusion, but it has been interesting to meet you. If you ever need help with something, or anything else, I’m not far away.” Alexius then promised her.

@Sarah

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"It was hard." She agreed simply, then she shrugged. "But dwelling on the past gets me nowhere. My present is much brighter." She said, then nodded slightly in answer to his next question. "I was young, though no younger than many Roman women." After all, the Romans considered a woman marriageable once she'd had her first blood. So some had children as young as she did. So now she had a son who was a man grown, and she might yet be young enough to have another child, though the chances were low. As that thought flicked through her mind she felt a small pang; perhaps she should consider whether that might be something she wanted enough to have a man in her life again.

I guess you must know him well. Since… you have known him for so long.

"I did." She agreed. "But we've both changed since then. Grown up, for a start." Again that little shrug. "We'll just have to see." There was only one way to find out what kind of man Tertius was now, and that was to speak to him. And she would. It was a meeting she was both anticipating and dreading, because what she remembered and what she heard about him were very different; and the outcome could be just about anything.

Then Alexius said he should be going. "Don't apologise, I enjoyed talking to you." She said honestly. "Thank you." She replied. It was good to know that there was someone else that Teutus knew and she could rely upon, in the insula. "Feel free to drop in again, if you're hungry or just want to chat."  But Teutus was probably waiting for Alexius down at the warehouse. "And here." She turned away for a moment, then turned back and pressed two pears into his hands. "Give one to Teutus for me." The other, of course, was for Alexius.

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...