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Early January, 77 AD

Alexius had gone out for another night on the town. He’d been very thoughtful lately, especially after Ovinia had been attacked. There was so much he did and so much he could do… and so many things he couldn't do and didn't do. He wasn't getting any younger and still, he was just yet another freedman in Rome, sometimes struggling to find his place here. He had plenty of friends and probably even more lovers to spend time with, and he had Lexus too, but there was still something missing. Something he could often drown with wine and forget in the arms of someone else, and yet his mind wandered. Back to the time when he was married. He’d tried to count the years, he’d done it a few times to be sure and it would seem that it was about 13 years since he divorced Ariella Alexia. He’d not had a very long and steady relationship since. A few had lasted more than just one night, but those could be counted on one hand alone.

At the end this evening, he decided it wouldn’t do him any good to sit alone with these thoughts, so out he went. It didn’t take him long to find a popina. And before he knew it, an attractive woman was sitting in his lap, picking up wine to serve to Alexius’ lips. They were both having a good time. She was lovely. That’s right until a man entered the popina. Not that that was out of the ordinary. But after looking around, he was heading straight towards Alexius and his companion. He looked a bit familiar? Alexius thought the man was coming for him. But then he slapped his companion. Smack, it said, and everyone at the popina stared at them. Alexius as startled as everyone else.

“What the fuck are you doing Artia?!” He growled and Alexius gave them both a surprised look, but the man just looked at him, actually offering Alexius a smile. He was familiar! He’d slept with that guy too, once upon! Artia slipped off his lap, “Marcus, I can explain…” She said. Marcus was his name! And Marcus looked at Alexius again, unsure of what to say to him, “What?” Alexius asked, “I didn’t know she was yours! Or… did you want to join?” He attempted with a small smile, but Artia now gave Marcus a look.

“You know him too? Seriously, Marcus?” She snapped at her husband and then looked at Alexius, “Everyone just wants you, don’t they?” And then she slipped off his lap, whispering on the way, “Another time maybe…” Then she took her husband’s hand and dragged him away from the popina. They had some talking to do, clearly. Especially if they both slept around. With the same people, apparently! Leaving Alexius alone again, looking maybe more than a bit surprised.

“Well, that was dramatic!” Alexius then said with a chuckle, suddenly thinking that maybe it wasn’t that bad to not have a wife. But everyone at the popina was looking at him and he realized that perhaps this put him in a different light than usual. A bit embarrassing, actually. Well, fuck them all then. But not here. With a sigh, he downed the rest of the cup of the wine and stood to leave. Half-drunk already and the night had just begun.

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Contrary to Alexius’s complicated history of love affairs, Jannus’s life is far, far simpler. Other than the occasional dalliance here or there, he hasn’t found much time for anything remotely romantic. Even when the young woman he had been looking longingly at for days reciprocated his advances a few years ago with his second master, Jannus couldn’t find it in him to continue what they had between them. At the time, he told himself it was because he was merely a lowly slave, and one with barely the teachings of a proper Roman. Pursuing such a thing would be improper of him.

Yet the years have eroded his preconceived notions of what counts as right and wrong, civilized and uncivilized. Sometimes, he’ll speak with others about politics (what little he knows of it, at least), and sometimes, he’ll attend his master’s reading sessions and pick up what he can. Jannus’s letters aren’t half bad, though he’s a long way from becoming a writer or poet. He remains thankful for his current master for indulging him in such matters.

Today’s missive was a lengthy one, requiring him to walk very far east and then back. It was not difficult, for he knows Rome’s layout like the back of his hand, but it was time consuming. A series of unfortunate obstacles delayed him along the way; an overturned cart, a grifter trying to scam him, and others. Perhaps it is the way of Rome, he reckons, that its chaos is like a leopard, wild and unpredictable yet calculated in its movements. From the shadows the chaos watches, waiting for an unsuspecting person (or someone having too much of a good day) and then pouncing with its claws of discord. 

Maybe he should be a poet. Where did that come from, Jannus, he asks himself. He knows well enough how to mind himself. On the way to a popina to get some food from a long day out, Jannus spots his reflection in a puddle. There it is, the murky blue eyes and barbarian’s frame that distinguish him from a proper Roman. He desperately wants to change it, but what would he do if the unthinkable happened and he really was freed? He’d be nothing more than a bird locked in a cage that has forgotten to fly. 

The din of the popina is loud, even from here, and its cacophony brings Jannus some comfort. In places where the noise is so loud one can’t hear their own thoughts (improper, so improper), and the collective heartbeats of the merrymakers are like a drum (not that sound, no!), his mental war is silenced. 

Typically, a leopard or one of the other beasts he’s heard about in the Colosseum will lick its wounds after a good fight, assuming it hasn’t been killed. In Jannus’s case, however, his bad luck culminates once more when he walks into the popina to catch the tail end of an argument. The atmosphere in the popina becomes static, the subject of the crowd’s silence being a tall, somewhat rugged man. He has blue eyes; a barbarian, like him. Against his inner inhibitions, Jannus lets out a quiet sigh of relief. 

@Atrice

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Alexius had just stood to leave, for some reason not caring for everyone's eyes upon him in this popina tonight. He could go and have his drink elsewhere and find fun elsewhere. He didn't need these people, especially after that dramatic little spectacle between the lovely Artia and her equally lovely husband, Marcus. How was he to know the man had been married? And it wasn't like she told Alexius either, that she had a husband. It was rare these things happened, usually his flings and eventually desires went just smoothly and he ended up having a very good night. But they did happen, from time to time, these things. And he'd rather not have them happen - he'd rather forget about it, move on and drink some more. So that was the plan.

But as he was about to leave, of course someone was just entering the place. A younger man with a rather handsome, masculine face and light eyes. Now that was not unordinary in Rome, but what was, was that the man was staring right at him and let out a small sigh of relief. As if he was happy to see Alexius. He looked around, people were slowly returning to their own conversations, probably gossip about Alexius. Nothing he wasn't used to. But this man was looking at him. Did he know him? Alexius did not think he looked familiar, and yet... he did, didn't he? He'd seen him with Teutus. He was one of Teutus' newer slaves, was he not? They just hadn't been properly introduced! Well, that made it so much easier to approach him. Even if Alexius could not recall the name yet! 

So he naturally approached the other, giving him a smile, "Greetings... were you looking for me?" Maybe he was, maybe Teutus sent for him or something. There could be problems at the warehouse, or maybe it had to do with the insane attacker that roamed the streets of Rome?

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Jannus has heard many things about Alexius, most of them having to do with his admittedly impressive record at bedding other people, male and female. That must be a complicated life, he thinks to himself. On one hand, you are satiated in that...area, and can hold it over someone's head if they say anything wrong about you. On the other, what makes one different from a common street whore? After a certain threshold, you lose that power. And socializing with a man known for this really wasn't in Jannus's top ten list of things to do before returning to his dominus's house for the evening. However, he's been having questions about himself for a while. His dreams of his early life have been returning recently. He knows it was the mercy of Rome that gave him the chance to rise above the uncivilized people of his homeland, yet he continues to not be treated as one. This has led to a path of almost blasphemous thoughts it ashamed him to think about. 

In order to find some true answers to his past (could it have been not that bad if he wasn't rescued by a legionary?), he seeks out someone whose background was similar to his. Someone who looked like him, murky blue eyes included. Jannus forces himself to forget about rumors and focus on the man himself. Everybody else in the popina seems to have forgotten about the argument as quickly as it started, and few else care enough to watch. He takes his chances and smiles back, taking care not to show as many teeth as he usually does. This is not a slaver he is talking to but a freedman. 

"Not looking, exactly. But I have been wanting to talk with you for a while, regardless." He looks around and decides to order a glass of wine for himself. 

@Atrice

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Alexius didn't care all that much about what people said about him. He knew how he liked his life, and even though he would eventually like to settle down... and that was an urge that came more often than not these days... there was still nothing like a good amount of wine and good company in his bed. Then he'd at least not consider that his life could be different. He was, after all, just a freedman in Rome and didn't have much of a say in anything anyway. And finding the right person to settle down with was hard, if not to say near impossible. So he was fine. He knew the gossip and he ignored it. 

So it didn't matter to him what the young man, watching him, knew or didn't know about him. He just recognized him as one of Teutus' new slaves and approached him, naturally thinking he had some sort of message from Teutus. But he didn't. He said he wasn't looking for Alexius, but he had wanted to talk to him.

"Really? Well, here's your chance." Alexius said and glanced around. People had indeed returned to their own conversations again, "Come... there's a seat right here. And I'm sorry, I don't recall if we were ever properly introduced. I'm Alexius, as you probably know. Lucius Antonius Alexius, but, Alexius is fine. You?" 

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Jannus, to be honest, is woefully over his head in the manners of life. He’d spent so much time under the tutelage of his first master trying to learn right from wrong, and yet more time under his second master trying to scrape by without getting beaten. Now, under his third master, he finally has breathing room to decide who he wants to be and what he wants to do. He hopes very dearly that he’ll gain his freedom one day, but the question of where he will stay and how he will support himself without a dominus to dictate his actions is a huge one, almost dizzying in its prospects. 

Having time to himself also means he’s been wondering more and more about where his original family were and what they used to do. He pursues the story of his roots in secret; nobody important to him must know. It’s why he deigned to enter this popina and speak with Alexius, borderline shamefaced. Hesitantly, Jannus sits next to the older man.

“It’s nice to meet you, Alexius. I’m Jannus.” He recites the name that’s been ingrained in him from the moment he was taken. Normally, the syllables comfort him. They reaffirm his place in Rome, not as a citizen but as part of it nonetheless. Now, they stick out in bold contrast to his very being.

“I’ve been-,” he clears his throat, “I’ve been curious lately about who I actually am. I know there are people in Rome who look like us, and I want to know more about what life is like outside.”

@Atrice

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Alexius was always more than ready to make a new friend, and Jannus seemed friendly enough so far. A bit on the quiet side, he thought, a bit inferior, but not unkind. Then again, why would he be, if he really wanted to talk to Alexius? And he was a slave, which was probably reason for his behavior and the way he held himself. Alexius sighed inwardly, but he didn't hold himself back. He had friends from all layers of society and held a certain place for slaves, since he was one once too. He invited Jannus to sit with him and then the other said he'd been curious about who he was, because he was clearly not Roman-born, even Alexius could tell. 

"Life on the outside of Rome? Or just life outside of the Roman life?" Alexius asked, "I've lived here most of my life... but I can try my best. I did return home when I was freed, but had to come back here." Because there was nothing for him in Germania, no matter how much he'd desired it. He'd become too Roman for his own people... and no one knew him anyway. It was too late to come back, so here he was... "Tell me what exactly you want to know?" He said to his new acquaintance and briefly caught the gaze of one of the barmaids he knew, who understood his signal and soon came with more drinks for them. She gave Jannus a look and then Alexius, while considering the scene just before. But Alexius had no thoughts of doing anything with Jannus yet, even if he was a good looking young man. She could think what she wanted to think. Alexius was just being friendly.

@Insignia

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He and his reticence have a complicated relationship. It's easy to stay quiet and to be seen, not heard, when out and about in the vicinity of people much greater than him. This obviously includes his master, for who else has power so direct? Back when he was even younger and more foolish, he separated himself from the other slaves, for he believed his first master thought of him not as a slave, but as a true son. As someone higher than common slave stock. Of course, it was all a mistake, thinking he could trust anybody that close. Being sent to the auction block a month after the first master's death splashed his face with cold reality. Slowly, he has learned his proper place. He will not allow himself to be so proud in the future. Which is why he's here, asking Alexius of all people about his heritage. What a funny show. Point and laugh.

"Anything. Life outside Rome, life in the far north." The words spill from his lips with wild abandon. He needs to know, very badly, if he'd make it. If running with the wolves, or whatever his blood family did for a living, offered a better existence. Today has been terrible. Even if playing pretend by imagining a hypothetical life outside slavery serves as a waste of time, he feels an uncontrollable urge to indulge it. Tunnel vision closes out everything in the periphery. He pays no mind to the barmaid. This is more important. A small bit of spark returns to his eyes. "As much as you'll offer."

@Atrice

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Jannus was curious about life outside of Rome and in the far North and he was interested it anything Alexius would tell him. Alexius pushed a cup of wine towards him where they sat, he was always happy to tell a tale or two and he had experienced quite a lot in his life, hadn't he? And he didn't mind people asking him.

"Life in the far North, or at least as far as I went... is very different from here. I was born in Germania and my tribe was the Chatti, I know that much. But a roaming tribe burnt our village when I was a kid and took me and my sister for slaves to be sold here... so that's why I'm here." Alexius explained and sipped his wine, "When I was freed, I always wanted to return home. I got married and with my wife, I went to Germania to track down my childhood home. It was very different up there. The houses aren't like those in Rome. They're not made from stone, but from mud and clay and tree. It's much colder too. And not quite as luxurious as here. You may not think it is, here, but... it really is. Their slaves sleep in with the animals, in the stables of the houses. But the free people, they really are free. Life seems simpler there. Here it gets so complicated sometimes... if you know what I mean." He said with a grin, his life was complicated sometimes, that was for sure, "Is that what you wanted to hear? I guess not. But I don't want to lie to you about how it is." 

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His long fingers close around the cup. Jannus takes a sip, embracing the way the cheap wine overtakes his sense of taste. If he is to embark further on this journey of somewhat futile self discovery, he'll need liquid courage to do the heavy lifting.

As he listens to Alexius's stories, his manner becomes more relaxed, almost vulnerable in its presentation. He has heard of snow before, from another who grew up in such a place. How did it feel to be blanketed by unimaginable cold, a sea of white? What was it like to speak a different language, one with harsher sounds? A series of especially burning questions almost escape him: what did it feel like to be free? To have time on your own, not dedicated to serving others? To have your own property where you could put your feet up at the end of the day and know that all of it is irrevocably yours, not objects easily taken away by the cruel decisions of a master? What would it be like to own a person? That question doesn't sit well with him, but the wine does. It's perfectly watered. Jannus drinks more.

"Thank you. I've been wanting a candid opinion for so long." Yet he still has more to ask. "What did you do when you were home?" And, in a quieter voice, an ashamed confession: "I wish I knew more. A cavalryman found me when I was small, watching a battle."

@Atrice

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Despite the somewhat depressing story about what Germania was like, Jannus thanked him for sharing the knowledge and what he thought of the place. Then the other asked what he did when he was there, saying he did want to know more. Apparently he'd been taken as a kid too. Fucking Romans or whoever caught children to sell as slaves. It shouldn't be so. He drank a bit more wine on that note, before answering Jannus' words.

"I'm sorry you were taken so young too. I don't think it's fair." Alexius said, "Yet here we are, in Rome both of us, like so many others. I didn't do much, when I went back to Germania. I travelled around, trying to figure out where my village was. I remember they burnt it down. But no one knew it and no one knew me, it's so long ago. Luckily they were hospitable enough to allow us to sleep in their homes." He explained. He carefully left out the part where the Chatti people he met thought he'd become too Roman to settle down with them. They were friendly towards the Romans, but they were still proud people. And Alexius more or less grew up in Rome and now had a Roman name and worshipped Roman gods. He wasn't like the people he was born to.

But enough about that... "Do you know where you were born? Germania, like me?" Alexius wondered, he really couldn't tell just by looking at Jannus. All he could say was that the slave was definitely not born in Rome to Roman parents.

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Depressing? Of course. Jannus didn't expect the harsh land up north to be anything close to paradise. But maybe, he thinks, it would be more comfortable if he was surrounded by others who looked like him. There was always a silent comradery he seemed to share upon looking at them, knowing that they, too, had gone through the same problems as he had and would likely continue to until the end of their lives. His would, of course. He cannot imagine ever being sent free. Another swig of wine. The soldier shouldn't have taken him.

"It was an act of mercy, I thought. My first master was kind." Ah, always the dog slaving away for table scraps. Jannus doesn't know what happened to the rest of his family. It was good he didn't. "What did you do to deal with the cold?" Jannus's own blood runs hot, and so Alexius's must as well, but that surely couldn't be enough in a place as frigid as the north. In Germania. 

"I was told I was born further north. From Britannia, most likely." That was what his first master has said, repeated that it was a good thing he was taken to Rome. Otherwise, who would keep the old man company while his sons were away? A bitter laugh escapes him. "I thought it would be different."

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Jannus said he'd thought it was an act of mercy before, that he was taken when he was a kid and his first master had been kind. But surely Teutus was too? Since he'd been a slave. Alexius had before voiced how odd he thought it was, that a freedman would buy slaves of his own. Alexius owned no slaves. He didn't think he could own another human being, in his head it was wrong, even if Rome wouldn't exist without the slaves. But... maybe that would have been better for so many things. Teutus did what he did though and he did it well. Alexius didn't hate him for owning slaves. He chose to hold his tongue, he didn't wish to fall out with his friend and employer, after all. So instead he focused on Jannus' kind of sweet question about the cold up North.

"Put on more clothes? They wear a lot of wool, thick wool. And hides from game too. But the winter is cold up there. It snowed. I remember that from when I was a kid, that it was fun. But the grown-ups hated it. I see why." He said with a grin, "Because it's so cold and dark when it's there." He added. Snow made it all difficult. And when it melted, there was mud and slush all over the place. Jannus explained he was probably from Britannia and thought it would be different.

Alexius tilted his head, "What did you think would be different? Life up there? I don't know what Britannia is like. But from what I've heard, it's much the same. More wet though, I think?" 

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He still misses his first master, enough so that he continues to defend him. Chances are he'd probably mention something about it even if he were dying. On the topic of his current dominus, Jannus remains ambivalent. On one hand, he's not yelled at. He does his job, and he gets far more freedom than he's expected. At the same time, his master hasn't shown him much of anything positive either. Jannus supposes no news is good news, and that he's delivering messages and whatnot well enough. The adjustment period is still ongoing. It's only been a few weeks since he was sold, separating him from the purgatory of the dealer. The wine flows easily, he notes. 

"Wool will get wet," he mutters. "Not very convenient up there when it snows." For a brief moment, he seems enchanted by Alexius's descriptions of the Germanic winter. To have snow everywhere, cold and wet, yet to have a warm place waiting at the end of the day with food on the fire...No, it's too much. "Did you play in the snow when you were up there?" Jannus leans his head against his hand. The popina's starting to waver a little. Interesting.

"It's an island, yes? Must be all sorts of boats and whatnot up there." That's how he was taken to the mainland. And was terribly seasick for the short voyage. "If they...if they go any further, it'll be all ice."

@Atrice

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Jannus didn't seem to like the idea of wet wool and Alexius smiled, "But it stays warm, even when wet. And they had these coats. Leather that were rubbed with fat, so they could stand being wet." Alexius said, he really didn't mind the wool and they wore it in Rome too. It was just thinner fabrics here, not thick like up there in Germania, where they really had to be able to walk in snow without freezing too much. Jannus wondered if Alexius played in the snow... "Not really, but I saw the children do it." He said. Strangely it was a bit of a painful memory he had there, that he recalled playing in the snow as a child with his sister. And his sister he hadn't seen since they were sold to each their household.

The conversation turned to Jannus' original home, which was Britannia. Again Alexius had to grin and took a sip of the wine, "I think it's a very big island. At least that's what I've heard. Larger than Italia." Alexius said, "And yes... I did hear about lands further North too. Where it's a lot of snow and ice. Imagine living there. I do like the warmth we have in Rome." Alexius said and emptied his wine and looked at Jannus, "Do you want more to drink? I think I do." It was nice to meet someone new to just talk and drink with. Maybe that's just what he needed after all the recent events of his life and the events of his life in general, that had been on his mind earlier. He waved for the barmaid to come over and refill their cups without waiting for Jannus to answer him.

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Waterproofed coats? He believed that was only for legionaries heading to the north. Everyone in Germania, then, is worthy of such clothing (probably because they'd freeze if they didn't have it). Jannus's own blood runs hot, and he rarely needs to wear anything other than a cloak on top of his usual tunic during the winter. A leftover from his barba-Britannic blood. Right now, he'd rather be too cold than too warm. It's always possible to layer on clothing when the nights are too frigid, removing layers not so much on hot summer days unless he wants to lose what little decency he has left. The weather outside Italia sounds perfect. In another life, maybe he was a warrior, one of those fierce ones that could give a legionary a lot of trouble. No, that's not right. 

Jannus remains quiet for the most part, and he suspects the wine might be making him tired, but he continues to listen to what Alexius says. The other man is happy, at least, and can take his life for what it is. He hopes some of that attitude will rub off on him (excluding, he's aware, the circuit of people in Alexius's bed). To be honest, he's convinced Alexius has far better luck, what with not catching anything from the numerous amount of people he'd bedded. His thoughts turn away from that, for he must at least keep his thoughts respectful for the man who is helping him reconnect. "I'd like to visit some day," he admits. "Even if my family's no longer there." A plant often dies when separated from its roots unless it manages to grow some of its own. On the topic of wine, Jannus takes a small sip. However, he's aware that he can't drink much more. Being hungover would not be pleasant.

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When Alexius was a child, he'd dreamed of becoming a warrior. He recalled pieces of the stories he heard as a child, stories of the past, where his people - together with other tribes - defeated the Romans and sent them running, those that didn't die. Alexius had wanted to become a warrior back then. Little had he known back then, that he would be a warrior, just not in the way he'd hoped. Instead of fighting the Romans, he had fought to entertain the Romans and now he worked for them, guarding their things. As angry as he'd been as a young man and gladiator, it was a contrast to his current life, where he'd more or less accepted that this was where his home and his life was. Even if he missed someone steady to see when he came home from work. He wanted to settle down properly. But finding the perfect partner seemed impossible. So he continued with nights like these. Would he end up with someone to share his bed tonight? Jannus seemed nice enough, and he sure was nice looking, but didn't strike him as someone charmed by Alexius like that. He was more a friendly sort than anything else.

Jannus said he'd like to and visit countries in the North some day, even if his family was no longer there.

"You should. Also just for your own sake. So you know where you came from." Alexius said and then looked up as his favorite barmaid appeared with more wine. Jannus hadn't answered his question about more wine, but who wouldn't want more wine? Alexius gestured that she could refill both of their cups, or rather, fill Alexius' and just top Jannus' cup up, because he had not quite finished his. Alexius took another drink. He was used to it, he didn't feel drunk yet.

"So... the North is one thing. This is where we are now. What do you think of your current master, Teutus?" Alexius was curious to hear that, because the way he met Teutus and the odd relationship they had... well... it was kind of strange. Especially after he found out that Teutus and Charis knew each other, which he figured out way too late. But they still got along, at least.

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He thinks he might have had a sister. Or a brother. Maybe both. It didn't matter anymore, they were long gone, either killed or sent all over the Empire like he was. Even if he did somehow manage to meet them, would they really be family? It wasn't as though they'd have anything in common to talk about other than their servitude. Did they have his brown hair or blue eyes, his pale skin? If some of them lived yet, would they still remember him? Should they know about their little brother, what would he be to them? Family? A friend? A distant fever dream? Questions like these make his mind terribly loud. Oh, if only he could stop looking at everyone's faces for a while.

As for love, Jannus isn't looking for that. Alexius seems to him more like a brother than anything romantic. Sure, Jannus finds himself becoming intrigued and perhaps attached to someone he's recently met since his...transfer, but he knows it won't work. The reason for his being resold was related to a romance turned bad. Better to let these matters hurt, then fade. "I'll do that. Not sure where I'd start, but it's worth thinking about."

Jannus remains woefully oblivious to the strange manner of affairs happening between Alexius and, well, everyone else. He swirls the wine in his cup a little, takes a long look at it. Sips. "He's alright. Doesn't say anything bad, doesn't say anything good. Leagues better than my previous master." Other than overhearing the exchanges between mother and son in the morning, and a few things about business, Jannus doesn't really know what to think. His dominus is slow to trust, he's noticed, but so is he. 

@Atrice

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Alexius' relationships or whatever you'd call one-night-stands were not always romantic. They were just what he needed. And while he was with anyone he was with, he cared for them. He loved showering them with attention and pleasure and had a feeling that's why his name was all over the walls of Rome. But he didn't pay them too much attention. Gossip was of no use to him at all. Friends and acquaintances were, however, and he had them all over Rome, from all layers of society. He hoped he could call Jannus a friend too. But he was curious about the other and decided to find out if Jannus liked his new master.

He sipped his wine and said Teutus was alright, apparently rather... neutral, kind of? But better than what Jannus came from.

"I think he should be one of the best Romans to belong to. Since he was a slave too. He's the nice sort of Roman." Alexius said, "I didn't know him when I was a slave because... well, that's many years ago now. But I know his father is quite different from Teutus and I'm very certain Teutus does not want to resemble his father at all." Not that Alexius ever met the infamous Tertius, but he also thought it was best not to. Since he knew how Tertius had treated sweet Charis, how could he not want to beat up that man at first sight? So... better keep a distance. 

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Jannus should surely let go of his fantastical ideas about romance. Even after the situation with a girl about his age that was enjoyable yet brought troubles of its own, he still remains idealistic about what to expect in a relationship. Somebody who's not a quick lay but sends signs of caring. Flowers, right? That was what he found last time. It's so much effort to find someone compatible, someone he could picture himself spending at least a few years with, and so he cannot flood more than one person with the same amount of love and attention. There is one person he'd like very much to get to know better, but their situations are too different. 

Funny how he knows more about his master's family from Alexius than the dominus himself. 

"I figured he was a freedman. But I know little about his family, other than his mother." She was kind yet determined. In a way, he gravitated towards her due to having no mother of his own. He hoped his dominus didn't mind. This being said, Jannus doesn't really know what his dominus thinks about a lot of things. "It feels weird, having time of my own. Knowing that I won't get reprimanded all the time." He remains painfully oblivious to the grease fire that is his master's family relations. 

@Atrice

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Jannus had not even been told, it seemed, that Teutus was actually a freedman - he said he figured it was so. So he figured it out. Surprising that Jannus' master had not told this right away, since as a slave, it was nice to know what you were dealing with. And surely Teutus would know what that was like... Jannus continued to say he didn't know much else than Teutus' mother and revealed that it felt strange, having time of his own.

"But it's nice, right? I'm sure that as long as you do your duties with Teutus, you'll get such time." He said with a smile, "I met Teutus' mother too, she's very... lovely." Which was an understatement, but he didn't want to say too much, in case Jannus went to tell her gossip. Alexius didn't want the lovely woman to get the wrong idea of him, after all, even if she already knew plenty about him. The first time he met her, he practically told her the whole truth about himself. Apparently that's what she did. She just seemed so nice, so kind, so trustworthy. How could he not want to tell her the truth? 

"Is there more you wish to know about his family? I only know what I know through Teutus of course, and then a slave from his father's household who is dear to me... but I know more than you, it seems." He only wished to help Jannus, he seemed like a very nice young man and he deserved the best, just like everyone else. Not that he wanted to talk about Teutus behind his back, but surely, as long as they weren't bad things... then again, he didn't really have any bad things to tell, did he? Not about Teutus anyway.

@Insignia

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A given in life is that whoever owns him will not be forthcoming about every bit of their lives. Teutus still keeps a lot of secrets from him. No blatant fraud or lying, of course, merely a lack of information. Jannus can't help but feel as though the man has a lot going on behind the scenes that he chooses to keep everyone else from knowing about. Except for Alexius, perhaps. He's seen the man working at the warehouse before on the occasions he accompanied Teutus, and it seemed that the two had a good lot of shared experiences. Jannus has gotten better as reading between the lines from when he was a foolish child, and what he doesn't know about the business, Olipor usually tells him. The bottom line is that he doesn't see it as necessary to know everything about a person in order to deem them good or bad. And yet here he is, in a popina during the late hours asking his master's employee questions about his own past.

"The biggest problem, going forward, is that I'll have to find ways to spend the free time I have." The insulae he resides in, while very cozy and well-organized, gets crowded easily. He finds he needs to get fresh air for at least a few hours a day, or else he feels cooped up. And right now his master's been fairly relaxed when it comes to Jannus acting as a body slave, but the latter knows quite well that it will soon become another responsibility of his. "I can't believe I'm in a household where that's my biggest worry," he adds with a wry smile. He should stop here, slice the thread of conversation before it becomes anything more. But Alexius has a way of piquing his curiosity.

"A slave from his father's household?" He's no stranger to the concept, having seen a few instances throughout his life. The whole thing leaks secrets. No use asking stupid questions when he can stay silent and let Alexius do the rest of the talking.

@Atrice

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Posted (edited)

Alexius smiled when Jannus mentioned his biggest problem was finding ways to spend his free time. And that was a surprise to him, to have such worries. Alexius sipped his wine again and set it down, "If you're very bored, I live just upstairs in the same building. If I'm not working, you're welcome to drop by." Alexius offered, because really that would not be an issue. His door was open to many people, high and low in Rome, since he had many friends and many of those with benefits too. Jannus was more than welcome too. He considered asking Jannus to join him for a trip to the arena, but maybe another time. He didn't even know if Jannus would like such things.

Then he'd asked if Jannus wanted to know more about Teutus and his family and mentioned what he did know. Jannus looked at him with interest, wondering about the slave Alexius knew in Tertius' household.

"Yes... Charis. She and Teutus know each other well too. But I think they've grown apart, I think it is especially after she gave Teutus' father a new son. Who has been freed already and is being raised as his father's actual son and heir. But Charis is sweet, very sweet." More than sweet, really... "She's from Britannia, just like you. But she was enslaved just a few years ago." There were many slaves from Britannia in Rome and he seemed to encounter those more often than those from Germania.

@Insignia

Edited by Atrice
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Typically, he spends whatever time he has exploring the city (even though he plain well knows almost all of it) or sitting on the roof of the insulae watching the people below him. The hobby is satisfying, but he really needs to do something more productive with his time. He may look like an outsider, but he's far from one and he needs to prove it by getting involved with what Rome has to offer. Besides, he almost dislodged a roof tile and he's not in the mood for killing anyone or for looking like a weird sort of vulture from his usual observation spot. "I may take you up on that offer. Thanks." Alexius isn't a bad guy to have around. If Jannus gets mugged, he'll have someone to look out for him.

The story about Charis and Teutus's father is quite awful, he admits. It is completely legal in Rome to do such a thing, to leave one son in the dust while appointing the baby of a young woman (who he's certain didn't have complete agency in the situation) the heir of all property. Jannus is glad, in a morbid sort of way, that he's foreign-born. Otherwise, he can't imagine how to live as a slave in the same house as his own parents, knowing that he was entirely their flesh and blood and yet being treated like some sort of monster to be kept in the shadows. Even worse, having his mother be a slave. Better to be uprooted by himself. 

"That's terrible." It slips out before he can stop it. Curse the wine. "He...seems to be taking it well, all things considered."

@Atrice

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Briefly he wondered what his son would say to another casual visitor to Alexius' home, but at least Jannus he had not slept with. Yet? He didn't even know though, if Jannus would be into men or if he'd be into Alexius. So far they just seemed to get along and he was happy to gain a new friend. And he would not try to charm someone who did not seem interested in him like that. Of course sometimes, he had to break that rule, but that was most often to try and get out of trouble and that was different. Jannus didn't cause him any harm or trouble. So he just smiled when the other said he might take Alexius' offer on coming by, "Feel free to do so." He said with a smile and then he'd told Jannus a bit about Charis and how she fit into Teutus' story.

Jannus thought the whole story was terrible and thought Teutus took it well, "He does, at least now. Moving away from that house has done him good." Alexius said, "And he's bright and smart too. He considers things. That's good." Alexius said, "I'm sure you'll be fine, serving Teutus. Once you've gotten used to all the free time." He added with a chuckle and downed more wine. Damn, almost empty again! 

@Insignia

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