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February 77 AD, the Gardens of Maecenas

 

It had been Lucius' idea to come to the Gardens of Maecenas, for some reason of his own, and Gaius had agreed, it was neutral enough territory after the various conversations and disagreements they'd had over the last few months, culminating in Lucius' finally leaving the household to pursue his crazy idea of joining the vigiles.

Apart from that, Gaius wasn't entirely sure why he was walking in the Gardens of Maecenas in February; the last time he'd visited one of Rome's public gardens in the winter, the girl had finally decided to call it off. Not that it had ever really been 'on', so to speak, but he hadn't pursued the matter and her father had been willing to let it drop even if he had the right to carry on making arrangements for the marriage.

Gaius was rather glad he hadn't; he would rather not marry Ovinia if marrying him would make her unhappy. And there was the complication of his brother - the two of them knew each other somehow, that had been glaringly clear from the way they'd interacted at that dinner, although he hadn't been able to get anything out of Lucius about how, and of course it wasn't something he could have asked Ovinia.

"So, how are you finding life with the vigiles?" he finally asked, pulling his cloak a little tighter around his shoulders; he had elected not to wear his senatorial tunic and toga for this informal outing, but was comfortably clothed in a dark green woollen tunic with a warm cloak over his pallium.

 

@Chevi @Atrice

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Lucius had not been avoiding his brother in the past few weeks since Saturnalia, exactly... he just suddenly had a lot to do elsewhere. He was still working his way through the ranks of the vigiles, and he was hunting for the barber on the side. And yes, he was not sure how to face his brother yet; they had scarcely talked since he'd move out to the barracks, and basically not at all, face to face, since... Ovinia. Technically, the whole Saturnalia thing happened after she had broken off the would-be engagement, but it somehow did not make Lucius feel any less guilty.

But he did miss his brother. And he wanted to meet him on neutral ground, rather than at home. So, here they were, in the Gardens of Maecenas, taking a walk. Lucius was not even sure where he was going with this, but it was good to see Gaius again.

"So, how are you finding life with the vigiles?" 

"It's... quite busy" he admitted, pulling his cloak over his uniform. He would be on patrol later. "Still getting used to the work load. But it's also exciting sometimes. I even learned how to punch people." He grinned. "Not quite the frontier, but there's never a dull moment. How is life in the senate?"

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It was not yet so warm in Rome, but spring was slowly approaching and if the sun was shining, you could feel the warmth on your skin. Pinaria knew she needed that and she knew she needed to socialize more. She hadn't done it so much since her attack; she wanted the scars to heal properly and she honestly didn't like to go anywhere if she didn't bring a guard with her. She and Lucia had fallen a bit apart since the incident, because Lucia had left her alone when she needed her servant and friend the most. It was hard to forgive such a thing. Still, today she was accompanied by her servant as always, and a guard trailing behind them, but far enough for it to feel private to Pinaria. She didn't want him looming over her right behind her. But he was there. 

The gardens were lovely and she enjoyed seeing the little green sprouts and early flowers blooming. There were other people here too and she could not help but smile, when she saw a familiar face coming towards her from the other direction. Lucius had not been a proper match for her to marry, but she could consider him a friendly acquaintance and he did introduce her to another interesting man recently too. She noticed however that Lucius was not alone. Still, it would be rude to ignore him and why would she? He was different and interesting and she had no ill feelings towards him.

So she offered him a smile when they were close enough and spoke in a friendly tone, "Lucius, what a pleasant surprise." More than last time, at least, when his reason for coming to see her had been quite serious. She glanced at the other man, older than Lucius, but there was a resemblance. Perhaps this was the brother he'd mentioned when they first met? 

@Sharpie@Chevi

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"Life in the Senate is much as it ever was," Gaius said, giving his brother a keen look. Variety, that was what Lucius had always craved, and it seemed that he was getting it. He'd have had that in the legions too, of course, but somehow he thought that Lucius felt the monotony outweighed it - after all Gaius had thrived in the legions, and he wasn't known for appreciating or responding to variety and challenges. At least, Lucius had never seen that side of him.

Forget two peas in a pod, they were more like two sides of the same coin, related but opposite.

And there was someone coming towards them, a woman, whose slaves were trailing her at a discreet distance. She was dressed suitably for the weather, in clothing whose colours gave away the cost of the dyes and fabrics, and his eyes widened as she addressed Lucius.

Another one of his brother's friends, perhaps?

 

@Chevi @Atrice

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Lucius could imagine few things more boring that being in the senate, but his brother seemed to be content with his job. It didn't make for great conversation, though. Luckily, as they walked along, a familiar figure made an appearance, in the company of a servant and a guard. Lucius' face lit up with a smile as they noticed each other, and the lady walked over to join them with a friendly greeting.

"Lucius, what a pleasant surprise."

"Pinaria Gaia. Always a pleasure." Always meaning, once when they had been set up by Silanus, and once when he'd visited her in the company of Alexius to talk about her attacker. No wonder she had a guard following her around. Still, Lucius Liked Pinaria, and she was always pleasant company. Gaius, on the other hand, looked very surprised.

"Gaius, this is Pinaria Gaia. Silanus introduced us. Pinaria, this is my brother, Gaius Vipsanius Roscius."

@Atrice @Sharpie

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It almost amused her, when she greeted Lucius, because the other man's eyes widened the way they did. She understood soon after she met Lucius, that he had friends among both high and low in Rome, so why should it be a surprise, that she greeted him? But that's how it was and Lucius greeted her back with a handsome smile. It was a pity that he'd never be considered a match for her, but such was life sometimes. 

He soon introduced her to his brother, as she had assumed he was. She offered him a smile and a dip of her head too.

"Gaius, a pleasure to meet you. Lucius did mention he had a brother... and that you're a Senator, is that right?" She added, briefly hoping that he was as friendly as Lucius. If that was the case, there was something to begin with here.

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"The pleasure is all mine, Pinaria," Gaius replied with a smile. "I am - I can't help wondering what my brother might have said about me." He glanced at Lucius. His brother was no longer his responsibility, but that didn't mean that Gaius wouldn't be affected by his brother's words and actions, whether directly or not. Or personally or professionally.

"I am running for Aedile this year," he added, trying to place her. "I hope your family is well - and I am sorry for your husband's death," he added as it came to him; she was the widow of Gaius Gratius Varro, who had died suddenly two or three years ago. He thought it had been some sort of accident, but was not going to be crass enough to ask.

 

@Chevi @Atrice

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"The pleasure is all mine, Pinaria. I am - I can't help wondering what my brother might have said about me." 

Lucius held up his hands in defence.

"I told her you are much more motivated for the cursus than I am" he grinned "And that you support my idiotic life choices despite your better judgment.

Lucius loved his brother, despite their considerable differences. And he really hoped Pinaria would like him too. It seemed that Gaius recognized Pinaria, at least by name. There were not that many senatorial widows her age, probably.

"I am running for Aedile this year... I hope your family is well - and I am sorry for your husband's death," 

Gaius, always the considerate one. He nodded in agreement. "How is your son doing?"

@Sharpie @Atrice

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She chuckled when Gaius feared what Lucius would have said about him... but Lucius answered before Pinaria had a chance to do so. And her smile lingered as Lucius finished, glad to see that the brothers still cared for each other, despite their different outlooks on life and what it should be all about. Lucius seemed to thrive with what he was doing now. Even if he was also investigating gruesome actions in Rome. 

Gaius then said he was running for Aedile and apologized for her husband's death. How kind of him. And it seemed he was following the Course of Honor that Lucius had chosen not to follow. They were so different.

"So am I. Thank you." She said with a dip of her head to Gaius' kind words, "My son is doing so well... he will be six years old this year. It's odd how time flies by." She smiled, "And the rest of my family is also doing well." Pinaria then added, since Gaius had asked about that, "Why don't we walk a bit together? Unless I was interrupting your conversation?" 

@Sharpie @Chevi

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"Well, let's face it, Lucius - it's hardly difficult to be more motivated than you when it comes to the cursus," Gaius rejoined, with a smile and a slight roll of his eyes, before turning to address the lady. "And of course you may join us - you're not interrupting anything except a bit of teasing."

Pinaria Gaia, widowed with a six-year-old son, and evidently already acquainted with Lucius. He wondered if she was familiar with his brother's more outrageous feats and actions. If she kept up with the gossip, it was more than likely that she was. It was Lucius' own choice and he was going to be doing it under an equite name, so it was hardly going to reflect on the Vipsanii-Roscii.

Well, not for much longer, anyway.

 

@Chevi @Atrice

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"Well, let's face it, Lucius - it's hardly difficult to be more motivated than you when it comes to the cursus,"

Lucius placed a hand on his chest in mock pain. What Gaius said was completely true, so he settled for being silently dramatic about it.

"My son is doing so well... he will be six years old this year. It's odd how time flies by. And the rest of my family is also doing well."

It was strange to think that Pinaria was the mother of a six-year-old. Lucius had no doubt she would be a good mother, she had the demeanor of one, but he was curious to see them together.

"Why don't we walk a bit together? Unless I was interrupting your conversation?" 

"And of course you may join us - you're not interrupting anything except a bit of teasing."

"Yes, please, join us" Lucius nodded with a genuine smile. "Gaius is planning on running for aedile, so I was going to tease him about that."

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She smiled, seeing and listening to the interaction between the brothers. It would seem that despite their differences, they got along and they cared for each other. She was happy to see that. Happy to see, that some things could turn out well, even if they didn't seem as if they would. She'd responded to their comments on her family, how her son and the rest of her family was doing. Then she suggested they walked together and Gaius was quick to say she could, that they were just teasing each other.

Lucius agreed and explained his teasing - which might be more of the same, just for fun. 

"Oh? But Aediles are quite respectable and maintain important work here in Rome. Why would you tease him about that?" She asked, but her tone was friendly. Then she looked at Gaius, giving him a smile too, "I wish you good luck with your plan - you were Quaestor before, then?" Pinaria said with a smile. Lucius had been right about his brother in many ways, she thought. He was following the path laid out for him, as a Patrician. Which was good and respectable. And safe. As the mother to a young son, she could only say she enjoyed safety. But Lucius seemed content too, with what he did. So all was well, in her eyes.

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"He would tease me because that is what brothers do," Gaius pointed out, somewhat dryly. "And Lucius isn't known for passing up the opportunity to tease anyone, if he can help."

He wondered which of them would have the last laugh once Lucius' adoption was finalised.

"I was Quaestor in 70," he said, not surprised she seemed not to know that - it was seven years ago, quaestor was the very lowest of rungs on the cursus honorum, and she was a woman and a relatively young one at that - she had probably been far more concerned with her pregnancy than with remembering all the various names of junior officials, after all.

 

@Chevi @Atrice

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"Oh? But Aediles are quite respectable and maintain important work here in Rome. Why would you tease him about that?" 

"He would tease me because that is what brothers do. And Lucius isn't known for passing up the opportunity to tease anyone, if he can help."

Oh, these two were very alike. Lucius looked between Pinaria and Gaius, a realization beginning to dawn in the back of his mind. Gaius was obviously miffed at his teasing - or teasing of the teasing. Honestly, he was going to make jokes about what his brother would do to prove himself to the people of Rome, but that was kind of spoiled now.

"I wish you good luck with your plan - you were Quaestor before, then?" 

"I was Quaestor in 70," 

"And he did a marvelous job" Lucius nodded in all seriousness. "Alas, I am afraid, I have to run. I promised the centurion I'd run an errand. Gaius, I trust you not to bore the lady to tears. Pinaria Gaia, it has been lovely to see you again. My brother is a much better conversationalis than I am. I promise." He smiled brightly, backing out of the conversation. The two of them could handle the rest.

@Atrice @Sharpie

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She chuckled, listening to the brothers chatting as they did. Despite their obvious differences, now both in rank and in personality, they seemed to get along and to genuinely like each other. It was such a pity for Lucius that the life he longed for, wasn't possible when he belonged to a Patrician family. But as long as he was happy, right? And he still stayed in touch with his brother, which was nice. 

Pinaria was interested in getting to know Gaius too though, so she asked more into his story and he explained he'd been Quaestor before. Lucius said he'd done a great job at that, but then suddenly excused himself and left them alone. Pinaria arched a brow, that was kind of sudden.

"You're not that bad, Lucius. Until next time." She bid the brother she knew already, with a smile, and looked at Gaius then, when Lucius had left. 

"Well, then it's just us." She said to Gaius. Them and her servant and her guard, and any that Gaius might have trailing along with him. But they didn't really count... "Do you have any plans or hopes for what you want to do, if you're chosen as an aedile?" 

@Sharpie ( @Chevi )

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Oh, and just like that Lucius decided he had better things to do with his time! His brother was an ass - and that was putting it mildly. Gaius had been very neatly out-manoeuvred and left alone with a very pretty woman who was, by all accounts, widowed and not remarried. Well, alone with her slaves and his own body-slave Cassander - which was alone for all intents and purposes, of course.

Tact was not one of Lucius' strong points!

"He's not that bad? He's worse," Gaius muttered and tried to rally himself. "If? No, not really - aediles don't generally have grand civic projects, though there's no reason they couldn't. They're the ones responsible for the upkeep of the temples, and for organising the games and entertainments. I suppose that might be civic enough for plenty of people?"

 

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Pinaria gave him a look, when he muttered something about Lucius being a worse conversationalist than he was, but she didn't say anything. It was probably just a brotherly thing and she was sure Gaius didn't really mean it. Besides, he didn't know much about how Pinaria and Lucius knew each other, and what went on the few times they met... and it was best to keep it that way. But she'd asked him a question and listened as he came with a proper and good response.

"Hopefully it is." She said to him, "So you'll be organizing games and entertainments. What kind of entertainment do you prefer then, here in Rome? The people of Rome seem to enjoy a bit of everything. But what about you?" What he enjoyed seeing and doing might tell a lot about a man. 

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"I think the people of Rome very much like the racing, with gladiator fights a very close second," Gaius said thoughtfully. "They both have their place, though of the two I would rather watch the races. There's a great deal to be said about the theatre, too, although everything there is far more contrived than other forms of entertainment." There were also private poetry readings and various things of that sort, which he went to mostly for the networking and to stay in contact with other people.

"I would guess that your son would like the excitement of the circus too, but what about you?" He thought she seemed a refined type, she might like those poetry readings and things more than the public shows of the circus and amphitheatre.

 

@Atrice

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Pinaria smiled at his answer. Because she had been asking him a quite simple question - what kind of entertainment did he enjoy? Yet Gaius instantly began speaking of what the people liked, and how both games and races had their place. It was only after that he said he preferred races, then proceeding to mention the theatre. A real politician, she thought to herself. He spoke well for himself though, as if he knew just what to say. He might be going somewhere. And perhaps more so than her late husband. She merely nodded at his words, until he asked into what her son liked.

"I think he would like anything fast paced at the moment. But he is still quite young." She said, "I did bring him to the races once, he did enjoy that. I don't know what I like though... I think I may prefer quieter tasks more. Like enjoying gardens as these. Or visiting the temples, or reading. And spending time with my son, of course." Pinaria added and wondered if now was the right time to drop a very interesting question to Gaius... interesting to her, at least... "Have you any heirs on the way yet, Gaius? Lucius has not told me that much." A not-so-subtle way of asking if he was married or not... but she had to let him know that he'd caught her interest. Now it would be interesting to see if she'd catch his too.

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"Boys do like the excitement of things like the races," Gaius said with a smile, remembering what he was like when he was younger. "And then they grow up to find that actually, gardens and reading and things have value, too." He let out a breath and shook his head. "No. My heir has decided that he would rather follow a career in the vigiles than in the senate, and has sought adoption into an equite family so that he can do so - you must have heard the gossip about it?"

She must have at least heard some of the rumours, anyway.

Let it not be said that Lucius Vipsanius Roscius did not have the courage of his convictions, anyway.

 

@Atrice

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Pinaria smiled at his words about boys liking the races, but then they grew up. She could barely imagine her young son as a grown man, he was so sweet now, so full of life. But one day he'd be a grown Patrician, he might go to battle and war, he might sit in the Senate. Making important decisions. Time flew by too fast. 

"Don't remind me." She replied softly, but with a smile, she was not scolding him. And Gaius told her how his heir wanted to follow a career with the vigiles and had sought for adoption into another family. So his sole heir was Lucius and that heir was now... no longer an heir, she imagined. So he had no wife and no son. Pinaria didn't reveal any of her thoughts though, but just nodded at his explanation.

"I heard the gossip. And he revealed to me himself, that he'd joined the vigiles... but it is a while ago now." She added, not wanting to dive into further details on how Lucius revealed that to her or why. She didn't know if Gaius knew anything about the whole ordeal with the strange man who attacked women in Rome... and she wasn't feeling into spreading the stories any further now, so she better just move on... "Does that leave you alone in your domus then? Or do you have other siblings? I mostly have sisters, but they are all married. So Gaius and I just have my brother at home." 

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"Lucius has always been... Well, I never thought he was an idiot. But this time he wouldn't let go of the idea, and," Gaius shrugged. "I think if our father had still been alive, he might have given up on it, but it can't be easy when your head of the family is your elder brother. We're not very far apart in age, after all."

He should probably have held out for longer, but Lucius had a way of charming everyone around him, even elder brothers who were prone to irascibility over things like their younger brothers running someone's olive-oil stand for an afternoon.

"We have a sister, who comes between us in age, but she's married now and has her own children to look after. She doesn't need to be running after her idiot brothers all the time." He adjusted the brooch clasping his pallium at the shoulder. "I suppose your brother can't possibly be as idiotic as mine."

 

@Atrice

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It sounded to her like Gaius had tried to talk Lucius out of his ideas, but Lucius would not let it all go and had not given up. And now he was where he was, and that was that. Pinaria nodded at his words, watching him. She thought it brave, that Gaius had given into Lucius' dreams and let him be what he wanted to be. It could not be easy, as he said, when he was the head of the family... to allow such a thing to happen. He was a good brother, she thought. One you could admire. She hoped Lucius knew that. 

Gaius explained that they also had a sister, but she was married and had children of her own. Pinaria smiled when Gaius then mentioned her own brother.

She chuckled, "He is not, but he is my brother... and siblings will always be idiotic sometimes." She said, "And yet we care for them, don't we? They know us like no one else and we know them. With that said though... I do sometimes miss having my own house and my own family to care for." She could hardly speak more plainly. And she did miss it and she knew that's what her brother would prefer too. That she remarried, but finding the right man was not so easy. She thought she could learn to live with Gaius. He was likable and friendly... and not bad looking either, she noted. Maybe it was worth mentioning this meeting to her brother.

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This was only their first meeting and yet it seemed to be going far more promisingly than - no, that wasn't true. Every meeting with Ovinia Camilla had been promising enough until that final one in the Gardens of Sallust. Perhaps the Gardens of Meacenas would bear better fruit?

"I'm sure it can't be easy, to go from your own home back to living in your father's house. Or your brother's," he said, commiserating although he could hardly understand that from his own experience - he'd gone from his father's house to the Legions to being the head of his family.

"How has your son found it?" Maybe there were cousins of his own age, and maybe there weren't. Six-year-olds could adapt easily to changes in circumstances, he thought - as if he knew anything about children of any age at all!

 

@Atrice

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Gaius was kind, seeming to feel sympathy for her, after having her own home and then returning to her family home. She nodded, it had not been easy at all, but she tried to just roll with whatever life offered her and make the best of it. She couldn't do much else, could she? This was her lot in life, after all. Being a woman. Gaius then asked into how her son was with the changes.

"He was just three years old, when his father died... at first he wondered where his father had gone, but he also thought it a nice adventure to go and live somewhere else." She explained, "He enjoys spending time with his uncle now, my brother. He doesn't remember his real father much anymore." Pinaria said, "I think he'd easily adapt, should I remarry." She then added and glanced to the sky, then to her servant Lucia, following them. Lucia understood why Pinaria looked at her, and nodded. It might be time for them to return home soon.

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