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Fates and Grapes


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Late February 77AD

Ione sat at the corner table, nursing her solitary cup of wine and occasionally dragging the loop of her gaudy, shoddy toga back up her thin arm. It was designed to be proactive given only whores and Senators wore it. And Senators most definitely didn't wear the short, shabby yellow ensemble she was wrapped in. Despite the outfit and the attempt at a beaming smile, few people paid her much attention. She had come here with a group of five others from the brothel - it was one of their rituals to fish for new clients and slowly but surely they had all peeled off with catches, leaving Ione alone. She felt nerves well and roll in her stomach. The new dominus would undoubtedly mark it against her if she was unable to procure even a drunken lout for the Elysium and so she flashed her smile and fluttered her eyelashes and hoped somebody would pay her the slightest bit of attention. 

A shadow crossed by her field of vision and she hopefully angled her body, grinning a seductive smile - only for it to fall immediately when's he recognised the lech of a proprietor idle next to her table. She could stand him when she was with the others but solo he gave her a shudder. There was a reason she never chose this place. "You're finished. Out." He jerked his thumb at the door and Ione blinked, glancing down. She still had a few mouthfuls of wine to finish. The man only let them fish when he was making coin too which was fair but an irritant. She couldn't afford another cup of wine. "I'll go once I've finished." she said, trying to sound confident. He snorted. "Drink up then." Ione held her ground and pulled back her shoulders. It was almost comical - watching the slip of a girl trying to act tough. "Buy another drink or get out." The man wasn't backing down and so Ione tried a trick she'd seen Eris successfully master a few days before; she called out in a light, melodic voice - her Greek accent catching on the Latin words; "Which gentleman would like to buy a lady a drink?" 

 

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Gaius had finished off work for the evening, and was left to his own devices. There was a lot and yet, not a lot, for an old centurion of the legions to do around. However, there was always one past-time that never tired; drinking and eating. He had been offered a job at the Elysium, a job which paid coin and would allow him to live a good enough life surrounded by enough activity to last one a lifetime and had retired to finding a place to drink away from soon-to-be familiar faces.

He had been sat by his own lonesome, drinking and making sure none would join him. It was the peace and quiet that he wished to have, though a commotion coming from a nearby table had attracted his attention. Eyes raised to the proprietor lingering next to a table, ordering for them to leave if they did not buy another drink. She looked vaguely familiar in the haze of his brain already succumbing to the grape as he thudded a closed fist against the table. "Aye." Loud enough for them to hear but not obnoxious enough to give reason for the man to throw him out as well. "I'll buy you a drink, m'lady."

There would be a scraping of wood against the floor as he pulled himself to his full height and walked over to the table, facing the proprietor with a smirk, clapping him around the shoulder before his gaze went to the woman sat at the table. "Certainly would have bought you one before if I had spotted you earlier." He winked.

@Sara

 

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A dreadful silence, lasting all of a heartbeat and Ione genuinely thought there was not one man in the whole room who would countenance helping, even with the promise of sex that clung to her. Then a thump and a booming voice and she whipped her head around as a man pulled himself to standing. The grin, relaxed and relieved, that stretched across her face was genuine and the owner, mumbling, merely shot them both a warning look. "Pay up front, when the boy gets your wine." And then he moved off, clearly trying to shake off the clap to the back. 

Ione's soft smile was soon replaced by one she'd been practicing as she tried her very best to look charmed and flattered and alluring. "I'm grateful all the same," she grinned, "A big, strong man like you coming to my aid. It's like the ending to some poem!" She realised only after she said it that big, strong men probably didn't like poetry and she hadn't read any anyway. Why was she so useless at this? She tried to correct and lounged back against the wall, moving her foot to nudge a chair out next to her, the motion revealing the skin of her thigh in what she hoped was an alluring way. "Won't my saviour join me for a few moments? And I must have your name, so I know who to thank properly." 

 

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Usually a good clap on the back and some firm affirmation of his action did the trick well. Gaius had found that it was a repellent combined with his height. He nodded, seemingly pleased with himself as the owner seemed to mumble off about something when they had decided that he had enough. He watched for a few moments as the owner went over to tend to a couple of other patrons, distracted by them.

"Hope the poem does not end so soon, I've just bought a drink for you." He could not help but respond in jest. Gaius was familiar with poems, to an extent. One of his men had liked to think himself a poet more than a soldier; got out of the Legions once his time had finished. The memory had brought him to wonder how Julius had been since he had been carted off the battlefield with a head wound. Maybe it was time to seek out old friends. The chair had been nudged out, Gaius raised a brow as she revealed the skin of her thigh, offering her to spend some time with her at the table. And perhaps a little more. "It's Gaius Maxentius."

Now that he was closer to the woman, he could see her better now. The face did look familiar, but placing her was still proving difficult. Damn the Gods, he wanted a chance to be alone away from the work which he did for the night.

Only one night.

"And yours?"

@Sara

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"It can run as long as you like." She said with a girlish giggle and flashed a grin as he took the seat. His face looked familiar, vaguely, but she couldn't place it. The name, likewise, didn't ring any bells. She repeated it though, her grin retreating to her more natural soft smile; "Gaius Maxentius, my saviour." 

Tossing her hair over her shoulder, she tilted her head to the side. "Ione." The name was unlikely to be familiar to strangers - unlike some of the other girls at The Elysium, nobody scrawled her name on the walls of Rome, and nobody shouted her name longingly in the street after a few too many wines. She could see the man better now, the curve of his jaw and the set of his brow and it was looking more and more familiar. She ventured a guess with her soft smile still on her lips; "I think we might have already been acquainted sir...have you ever been to heaven at The Elysium?" 

 

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"It is good to meet you, Ione." Gaius dipped his head, a sign of respect for the woman as they shared the table. He'd allow the name to settle in the back of his mind, concreted there for the next time they ran into one another. She was a young slip of a woman, whilst she had natural beauty, it would be the fact that she had come around to realising that their paths might have crossed before.

The Elysium.

Of course.

Gaius gave a wry smile, as a man delivered the drink on the table where he paid up front as agreed, watching as he left the two of them alone for the evening. He chuckled, though more at the fact that it was just his luck he ran into a woman from his new work. "I have," Gaius replied, reaching out for one of the drink to take a sip from. "Recently hired, however. You'd forgive me for not recognising you right away."

@Sara

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"Of course, of course." She grinned, trying to place his own face. Had she had him before? Possibly. After a while the big beefy manly types like him all tended to sort of...blur into one. She tried to dredge through her thoughts but found it discomfiting and painful and so stopped herself. Better that she didn't think of it, better that she just treated this man like a potential client...or employer.

"What will you do at our place?" She sipped her drink gratefully and then realised what an idiot she sounded. "I...I mean obviously a man like you won't be working like us," She flushed, "You...perhaps you're a guard?" She asked, not quite able to keep the hope out of her voice. The men the previous dominus had, and Titus had retained thus far were an awful lot - just as likely to beat the girls as the clients themselves. "It's a pleasure to meet you," She flattered and smiled softly at him, "Perhaps we could become...better acquainted?" She needed a new client (although her employer probably wasn't the right sort...), and in any case the flirtation sounded forced and awkward coming from her. Why was she so terrible at this?!

 

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Gaius nodded. "Aye, a new guard. So I would think our paths would be crossing frequently." He gave her an easy smile, trying to make the conversation last for as long as she wished to remain at the establishment drinking. He knew perhaps the Dominus would have had some choice words but, he could argue that he was simply doing his newfound duty in protecting the girl from those who wished to harm her.

Of course, the girl's offer to become better acquainted had his smile widen and his brow perk, as much as Gaius had attempted to conceal it otherwise. He took a sip. "What are you thinking?" Certainly curious to see if his interpretation of the evening would become much aligned with Ione's.

@Sara

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She smiled broadly, looking genuinely pleased that this man would be working for her dominus. He was willing to engage a  girl like her in conversation, which was a damn sight better than the men that had occupied his post before him. She sipped her drink, minuscule amounts to make sure it lasted and studied him with those big doe eyes of hers. 

"I..." She hesitated, awkward. Most of the girls would have jumped already, lounging themselves on their prospective clients, giggling and whispering all sorts of sordid fancies into their ears. Ione was an awkward sort of girl though, utterly unsuited to the life she now led. She hesitated for another moment before she managed to drag her wits together. She reached out a small hand across the table, moving to stroke his; "You know where I work..." She offered in her accented Latin, "And you know that we make dreams come true. Take you to Elysium..." Gods above the spiel sounded even more forced than it usually did, "I'd be happy to show you, if you want some pleasure in your evenings...you're my saviour, after all." 

 

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