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April, 77 AD

It had been a good, long while since that dinner with Wulfric, Teutus, Charis and Tertius of course. A good, long time. Since then, he’d met Varinia again. And it wasn’t like he never heard from Teutus or that they never met, but Varinia had taken upon her the task of bringing messages to Tertius’ household and she was always welcome. It was less and less awkward with her there, even after Charis had been freed and made his wife. Of course he would always wonder, what if he did catch up with her again, properly… but it wouldn’t be right to Charis, he would not treat her like that. Even if he was sometimes unsure whether she actually treated him with respect or if it was all still just pretense. She did visit Teutus and got herself a dinner invitation, with Peregrinus, before she’d said it to Tertius. But he’d never know her mind. He’d never know.

 But what he would know, at least now, was how his son’s business was coming along. He heard a bit about it now and again, both from Varinia and then when Teutus sometimes did decide to see his father, although he never spent much time in the domus anymore. But now was the time. Tertius had decided he wanted to see the warehouse for himself and see what Teutus was importing and what he would sell.

 And he decided to do it unannounced, to surprise Teutus with the visit. Hopefully it would be a good surprise. He’d made sure to bring an amphora of his best wine to greet his son with. And then off he was, with a litter of course, all the way to the warehouse near the river. He could smell it before he saw it but decided to not be annoyed by it.  

 At last the litter came to a stop and Tertius stepped out, before the thing was lowered to the ground. The slaves and the guards would wait outside and meanwhile Tertius approached the crude looking beast of a guard by the door to the warehouse. He looked somewhat familiar? But Tertius couldn’t place him in this setting.

 “Greetings… I am here to see Teutus.” He said with a friendly smile to the guard, who looked him over while gathering his hands on his back, standing more straight as he did, “Of course you are.” The guard said, but didn’t move and seemed to take a few moments finding the next words, “Does he know you’re coming?” He then asked and Tertius arched a brow, “He does not. I meant for this to be a surprise.” Tertius said, still trying to sound friendly, “Do you even know who I am?” He continued and the guard inhaled a breath and nodded, “You’re his father. Tertius. Well, see if you can find him.” The guard finally said and stepped aside. Tertius wasn’t sure he liked the way the man spoke to him or even looked at him. But Tertius walked past him inside to find his son.

@Sharpie

Edited by Atrice
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Teutus really would have to train his people better; it was almost as if they didn't want to let potential customers anywhere near the goods they might like to buy.

Except Teutus recognised this potential customer as soon as his attention was directed towards him. He hadn't expected that his father would deign to visit this quarter of the city, not the working areas right by the river.

He straightened. "You should be able to work the rest out by yourself," he told his slave before turning to Tertius, resplendent as ever in a spotless white toga, the broad purple stripe proclaiming his status to all and sundry - as if the litter hadn't done that already.

"Father! I wasn't expecting you - will you come into the office?" He indicated a nearby door, which led into a neat tidy office, with scroll cubbies alond one wall, a desk and two chairs, one obviously for Teutus and the other set for his customers.

What was Tertius doing here, and was it bad news for Teutus, or not?

 

@Atrice

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The river really was smelly in this area of Rome, or at least Tertius thought so. Or maybe it was just the working areas and the people living here in general. It wasn't nice and clean like in the Forum or at the hill where he lived. But this was a warehouse, it wasn't a domus and it was his sons. He had said to Teutus he was proud of what he'd done and how far he'd come, but he wanted to see it for himself too. The warehouse itself was impressive, it wasn't among the smallest, certainly! And after the rough guard allowed him inside (think, to consider denying a Praetor entrance!) Tertius could relax more. 

People were busy in here and while the slaves sent him glances because of his toga, they didn't approach him. It didn't take him long to notice Teutus talking to a slave and soon he was approaching Tertius with a greeting.

"I know you weren't. I wanted to see this for myself... as it is, on an ordinary day. I hope it's not too inconvenient." Tertius replied with a smile, "Lead the way." He then added, followed just by Hector, who carried the wine Tertius had brought with him to Teutus.

@Sharpie

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"Oh, no, no, not inconvenient at all." Which it wasn't, but even if it was, Teutus was prepared to make time for his father. At least, on a purely practical level; he was more cautious when it came to his personal life. The warehouse was open to customers, usually by appointment, so it wasn't at all unusual to have people come by like this.

He preferred to make appointments so that he could avoid having Senatorial types wandering around getting in the way of people trying to bring in new stock, but the office was at the landward end of the warehouse and ships were unloaded at the other end, where there was another door that opened onto the warehouse's private wharf. And the next shipment was due the next day anyway.

"Do have a seat," he said and glanced up at Hector, whose expression was inscrutable, before looking back at his father. "Would you like some refreshments?"

The thousand aurei question was, what on earth had brought his father here? He couldn't quite imagine Tertius bestirring himself to visit a warehouse just for the sake of it - though maybe he did just want to see what Teutus spent his days doing. He took a quiet breath, recalling his mother's words. "I guess... we've both wanted to see things in him that might not have been there....Stop worrying about him and live your life, be the best you can be. Maybe one day he'll see it, or understand, or find the right words."

This was.. it wasn't neutral territory, but it wasn't Tertius' territory, either. Teutus would take what he could get, and right now, he was going to try to give his father the benefit of the doubt, if he could.

 

@Atrice

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Tertius was glad to hear it wasn't inconvenient that he decided to come by like this. But he didn't want Teutus to make everything prim and proper for Tertius' visit, he wanted to see the warehouse as it was when it was an ordinary day, with everyone working and doing their thing, including his son. And he'd seemed busy enough when Tertius came, so that was a good thing to see. Although it was also good he made some time for Tertius.

He followed his son into the office, where he was offered a seat and took it, "Thank you." Tertius replied and glanced up at Hector after Teutus had offered refreshments, "I brought you a little gift, some of the best wine we have. Falernian, of course. You don't have to share it with me, you can save it for yourself and Varinia." Tertius added with a smile, while Hector presented the amphora of wine to Teutus. He hoped Teutus would appreciate it, but then briefly wondered if he traded wine too. Then he probably already had access to fine wines. Oh well, maybe Teutus would tell him himself.

@Sharpie

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"Thank you," Teutus said, surprised and (were the truth known) touched.  He wondered momentarily if the gift was an attempt to buy his favour again, but dismissed the thought. Tertius didn't need to offer gifts of wine or cash to win Teutus over - but if it made him feel better, who was Teutus to refuse it? He wondered, suddenly, if Tertius offered tangible things because he didn't quite know how to offer the more intangible things.

"I do have wines, you know," he added, a little more hesitantly in case Tertius thought he was being ungrateful or something, and hastened to add, "But none of them from my father. I appreciate the gift."

If it was Tertius' attempt to rebuild what had become a very shaky bridge between them, Teutus wasn't about to refuse it. He would just have to try to accept his father for who he was and not who Teutus wanted him to be.

A slave came in then, with bread and grapes and a jug of wine, which he poured for Teutus and his guest before stepping back out of the way.

"It's Rhenish - not as fine as Falernian, but I hope you find it acceptable nonetheless," Teutus said, picking up his own cup. "I'll be very happy to show you around, if you're sure you want to see it all?"

 

@Atrice

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Teutus took the wine as offered and thanked Tertius, which was nice to hear. Then he had to add that he did have wine. That did rub him a little wrong, but he tried to move past it, because Teutus did. Tertius didn't doubt that Teutus did have wine. But he wanted to bring something and Falernian wasn't just wine. At least his son said he appreciated it.

"I'm glad, I picked it especially for you." Tertius promised his son and soon after, a slave entered with wine, bread and grapes. Tertius took the offered cup while Teutus explained what they were drinking. Tertius nodded, "Of course." He replied and went on after the offer of being shown around, "That's what I came for, really. I want to see what you've built here. What you've done and what you do." Tertius continued and smiled, "Your little empire." 

@Sharpie

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"Thank you," he said again, more touched, and took a grape from the plate, feeling odd at being the one to initiate things. Previously, he had been the one to follow his father's lead but here, he was the host and Tertius the guest. "I'll be happy to show you around - and answer any questions you have."

This business was the one thing in his life that he could rightfully be proud of, and he hadn't expected to have the chance to show it to his father. He wanted Tertius to be proud of him and maybe just seeing it would help.

"I try to keep from having everything come from the same sources all at once, just in case of any storms or anything - there isn't any point in risking everything in a few ships sailing from Egypt, say, or Syria, when I can spread the risk and lose less if anything were to happen," he said, growing somewhat animated. He would begin the tour once they'd finished their wine and whatever snacks they wanted.

 

@Atrice

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Tertius might be here in his white robes, but he wasn't here to take charge or anything. As he so nicely put it just before, this was Teutus' little empire. And Tertius was just visiting. He watched his son eat a grape, thanking him and then explaining a bit more about his trade. So smart, clever, Tertius thought to himself. To make sure not everything came from the same sources, in case of loss. This should have happened years ago, he realized. Teutus was good at what he did. And it was Tertius' fault he hadn't done anything about it all until now. Tertius' fault that he hadn't put that mind of his to good use. 

He sipped his wine, "It sounds like your little empire is going to grow, then. If you continue like that." Tertius said, "I'm quite sure not every trader thinks like you do." He added, pleased to also see how thrilled Teutus was when he spoke of what he did. It had been the same that night, after the dinner... but he grew more curious, "And the income so far, how's that going? Are you gaining good profit?"

@Sharpie

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He couldn't help watching his father, his gaze continuously flicking back to his face. He didn't want Tertius to feel he was staring at him or anything, but he did want to know what his father thought. He seemed impressed, possibly by what Teutus had managed in a short  time - although he hadn't seen much yet - but there was an underlying sadness or something. Well, that was unexpected.

He wondered why, what might have caused Tertius to feel sad about him. Maybe about the distance that there was between them - maybe not, though, that seemed too much like wishful thinking on Teutus' part.

"It's good, it's doing well. I'm thinking of maybe finding my own house soon - I don't need anything like the size of yours, not just for me and Mama - but somewhere." He met his father's eyes. "Rome isn't that big, not really, but I'd like to be near yours."

Mostly for the sake of Antonia, but he couldn't quite bring himself to want to live right across the city, despite all the wishful thinking he'd done about wanting to get away from his father.

"If you see anything you like, or that you think Antonia would like, you're welcome to it," he said, and wondered if he would regret the offer. He liked to be generous to those around him, and had not really had the chance to do that for Tertius, although he'd bought Antonia various gifts, mostly small treats, over the years. She might prefer something a bit more grown up, more lasting, than almond pastries these days. "How is Antonia - I haven't seen her in a while."

 

@Atr

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Tertius did notice how his son kept trying to tear his gaze away from him, yet it kept coming back. Was Teutus nervous? That hadn't been the point of Tertius coming here! He was simply curious and wanted to see for himself what his son was doing, with his own eyes. Maybe it would make Teutus feel better about him... or maybe not, perhaps it was too late, if his son still felt nervous around his father. But Tertius said nothing, tasted the simple food and drank the wine and listened to Teutus explain that making an income was going well too. He thought of finding a house for himself and his mother, perhaps near Tertius' house. 

"That would not be too bad. Let me know if you need help finding one, I'm sure I can pull strings. If you want me to." Teutus had been very insistent on finding his own place to stay and starting his own business here, so maybe he didn't want Tertius to pull strings. But he could and the offer was there. There had to be some perks to being a praetor of Rome for so many years. 

Teutus then said Tertius could have anything for himself or for Antonia. Funny that he didn't mention Charis, Tertius thought to himself. He didn't know why, but he'd always felt maybe a little bit off with those two. He even once had Hector try and spy on them, but Hector didn't learn much back then. Maybe it was just because Teutus was younger. And Charis was sweet and beautiful. But she was his wife now. Tertius smiled though, at Teutus' offer and then Teutus had asked about Antonia, "She's doing well enough... growing up. It's good she has Charis now, I think. She's needed someone to guide her." And he had, until now, failed to find a new wife and someone to guide his daughter. But now he had one... "She asks for you though. Maybe you could show her this place too? If you watch out for her here, of course. Your guards seem rather... rough." And of course Teutus would look after his sister, but... just in case. 

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Posted (edited)

"I..." He was about to outright refuse his father's help, yet again, but something stopped him. He would not be an ungrateful son. If his father really didn't know any other way to show affection, it would be horrible of Teutus to refuse the affection he did show, and he had promised his mother he would try better, try to meet his father halfway.

"I would appreciate that," he said, instead. Homes on the Esquiline weren't necessarily easy to come by, after all, and he'd already hurt his father once by moving out into an insula. Three rooms had felt palatial to him when he'd moved in, but now that his household had expanded to six people, three rooms was a little cramped. "I don't need anything huge, it's just mother and me, and four slaves. Not a Senatorial household."

He would keep the place private, too, as far as he could. Family and friends, but he would conduct business elsewhere - he had his office at the warehouse for things like that, after all, and didn't need to advertise where he lived.

He didn't know why he was surprised to hear that Antonia missed him. "I would like to show her - and she's a senator's daughter and my sister, of course I will make sure my guards don't treat her badly."

He'd have words with them - and would keep her away from them anyway. And maybe they could go out and explore Rome as they had used to do when he was still her tutor, before he'd been freed.

He glanced at his father's wine cup. "If you've finished your wine, would you like to see around, yourself?"

 

@Atrice

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Tertius looked at his son, when Teutus opened his mouth to speak, but then shut it again. What had he wanted to say? Perhaps he did not want Tertius' help. He'd refused it before, so why not now? And he just wanted to help his son out, help him create the best life possible. After so many years of being such a terrible father, he was trying to do something good. It wasn't that he didn't know other ways to show affection to his son, but he wasn't sure if Teutus wanted anything else or anything at all. He was kind enough to invite Tertius into his warehouse though, so that was perhaps something. Unless he was doing it only because it would be rude to refuse his father. Why was it always so difficult? 

Finally Teutus said he'd appreciate Tertius' help in finding a new home and continued about how it didn't have to be huge. Tertius nodded, "Of course... I'll see what I can do and send a messenger. There should be some good, vacant houses." Or else, there might be future vacant houses on the hill. Tertius was a Praetor. He could make things happen - although most of the time, he was perfectly just and definitely not among the most corrupt Senators of Rome.

Then Teutus had asked about Antonia and Tertius spoke of her growing up, now with Charis to guide her... but she did miss Teutus, he knew that. Despite their differences in class, Teutus had always been a good big brother to his sister and she'd always admired him. Even when he was a slave. That had not changed, her admiration of her brother. Teutus would like to show her the warehouse and promised the guards would not treat her badly. Then offered to show Tertius around.

"I know you know how to take good care of her. Just remember, she's not a small child anymore." She was slowly growing into a woman, charming and beautiful... but that was that... "I'd like to see the place. Maybe you need to lead the way though, it's your place." Tertius downed the rest of the wine and shifted to stand again.

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He missed Antonia; he'd missed a lot of her life over the last two years. It would be nice to show her what he was doing now, and to hear what she was doing. He couldn't help wondering if they would end up floundering a bit, though, because he'd been a slave and her tutor for most of her life. How would they get along now that she was so very nearly an adult and he was free?

One thing was certain, he loved her deeply and always had done, despite their very different lives. They would always be brother and sister, however that worked out.

Right now, though, he had his father here, and he found that he wanted to show off - not in a boastful sort of way but in the way any son wanted to show his father, to demonstrate why his father could be proud.

"It can be a bit awkward not to just deal in one thing, sometimes," he said, leading the way back out into the warehouse itself. "But it's better to have a variety, and not to have everything come in from the same place at the same time."

He didn't deal in foodstuff with the exception of some spices at certain times. Some goods took up more space than others and he left the bulky things to others. He wouldn't trade in slaves or livestock, either, leaving that to people who had the space and security for that.

"I still have olive oil, but that's kept at the smaller warehouse," he added. This was the second warehouse he'd rented, once he'd begun to diversify. His initial experiments in trade had been in olive oil and he had only rented this warehouse once he was sure he could make a proper go of the business.

"Right now, we have wool from Spain, cotton and linen from Egypt - mostly unspun, though there are bolts of cloth ready to be sewn into clothing," he said, indicating various sacks. "I've got lead from Britannia, and some silver - not too much of that because I don't have contracts with any of the mine owners there, not yet."

 

@Atrice

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Tertius followed his son, while Teutus explained how he liked having a variety in what he sold and that not everything came from the same place. Tertius nodded, it sounded like Teutus really considered everything he did. Nothing was a coincidence in this place. He really was his father's son, wasn't he? Tertius smiled, although a part of him still wasn't sure if Teutus would even like anyone saying that he resembled Tertius. After what he said after that dinner last year. The smile faded, but luckily he was still following Teutus around, so hopefully the other didn't see. It didn't seem so, he kept talking. He had olive oil too, and many other things.

"It sounds like you do have a great variety of things you deal with." Tertius said, looking over the sacks in yet another corner of the warehouse, "I never attempted to be a merchant, it's a wonder you're able to set up all these deals! I never considered it, but it can't be easy. With things coming from so far away... there must be a lot of steps between the goods and you." Tertius said and grew thoughtful, "You need to be careful that people won't try and cheat you. Not that I think you aren't careful, just... it could happen." Tertius said, sure that Teutus had considered that, but the place was thriving, so nothing seemed to be out of order.

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"It's not much different from the work you do as a Praetor, when it comes to arranging things and dealing with people, although the end result is visible because I'm dealing with actual goods," Teutus said, though he didn't think Tertius would really appreciate the comparison. "I've got a good agent to act for me in sourcing things - and I know how to get good prices for them, thanks to listening to you in the courts." That was true enough; Teutus had accompanied his father in his role as secretary and paid attention to what was going on, even though nobody paid attention to the slave with the writing tablet and stylus.

"I'm fairly sure people do think they're cheating me, but if they aren't asking for the prices they could, that isn't my problem, and there's a profit to be made anyway." He considered for a moment, before indicating some bolts of cloth stacked on shelves to one side. "Have you ever come across merino wool, from Hispania?"

 

@Atrice

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Tertius let out a little laugh when Teutus compared being a tradesman to being a Praetor. Not because it was an odd comparison, but because Teutus pointed out that the end result of his dealings were visible. Tertius' however, weren't always so visible. In fact sometimes it felt like it didn't matter, because people still committed crimes and sometimes he met the same people more than once. And people still had issues with neighbors. There were a lot of annoying little things about it. But he liked his position in the city and the coin and the power that came with it. Yet he never held any desire to be a Consul. Being a Praetor was good enough.

He listened as his son explained about his agent and how he knew how to get good prices, thanks to Tertius. He gave his son a smile, "I'm glad you learned something - and that you're putting it to good use." He added and then he'd worried people might try and cheat Teutus, but Teutus assured him that he would be fine. Then they were approaching some shelves with cloth and Teutus mentioned it was from Hispania.

"I believe I have, but I don't know if I ever had any. It is valuable, I presume?" He asked with interest. Maybe he should buy some for Charis... or Antonia.

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"As far as cloth is valuable, yes - it's far finer and much smoother to the touch than wool from anywhere else. I'm no mercer to deal exclusively in cloth, but this, and silk..." He reached to the bolt, pulling the cloth from where it was draped over the top of the roll so that his father could see the drape and feel the quality of the fabric. "I get it spun and woven, like this, but I've sold it unspun as well, for women who like to spin and weave their own cloth."

His father would prefer fabric already woven, which meant that his slaves would only need to cut and sew it into clothing rather than having the whole process done at home - there was nobody at home to oversee the spinning and weaving, after all. Antonia would have to be taught that, and soon, by a family friend or someone. Teutus didn't think that Charis would be able to teach her that.

He straightened his pallium, taking a moment to think. "I would be pleased to make you a gift of some, if you would like it," he said, somehow not surprised in the least at the lump in his throat. It would make a fine new Senatorial tunic for Tertius - and if not for him, Antonia might like a new winter dress.

 

@Atrice

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Tertius ran his hand over the fabric Teutus showed him and wrapped a few fingers around it to feel how thick and soft it was. He could feel what Teutus was telling him about it, it was soft and fine indeed. Apparently Teutus sold both the woven fabric and unspun bits of wool too. Tertius nodded, "It is a very good quality. It's easy to tell when you touch it." He said with a smile and then Teutus offered to simply gift Tertius some of it. He looked up at his son, surprised about the offer.

"If you insist. But I would prefer paying. I don't wish for you to lose profit because of me." Tertius said, "Antonia might enjoy a new dress in this. In a color that suits her. Green." He suggested, green went well with her red hair, "Perhaps one for Charis as well. Lighter colors go well with her." He could of course also have his own tunic, but he had his daughter and his wife and he felt like spoiling them, when he had the chance to do so.

"Is there anything else you'd like to show me?" Tertius then wondered, this was Teutus' place and he was the guide. He thought about something briefly then, thought to mention it, "Do you have any furs?"

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"Of course," Teutus said, pulling his wax tablet from where it hung at his belt as it always had so that he could make a note on it. "Light blue for Charis, maybe?" She would look good in light blue, a shade to match her eyes and contrast with her hair.

He had promised his mother that he would try to find some sort of middle ground with his father; she had pointed out that maybe he didn't know how to be what Teutus wanted, and that Teutus should try to accept him the way he was. And if Tertius only knew how to show his affection in offering material things, then perhaps he would be able to understand and accept that from Teutus?

"I would like to make you a gift of something, Father," he said. "I couldn't have started this if you hadn't given me the means to, and a gift isn't going to bankrupt me."

It did feel very much the sort of thing Tertius might have done for any of his clients, but Teutus would just have to accept his father the way he was, not try to make him fit some idea of what he ought to be, because that way was just making things between them worse. If Tertius could give gifts to show his affection, why couldn't he accept them when someone else wanted to show him the same thing?

"Furs - I believe so. Are you after anything in particular?"

 

@Atrice

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Tertius nodded, light blue for Charis was a very good idea. The first proper Roman chiton he gave her was light blue too and it had looked beautiful on her. That was a long time ago though. Now he would give her one again, but the fabric would be more valuable this time. As it was with all things she was given now.

Teutus then said he'd like to gift Tertius something - it seemed to be as a way to thank Tertius for giving Teutus the means to starting his business. 

"That's very kind of you, Teutus." Tertius said and paused briefly, before he continued, "I'm only glad that I could aid you and I would do it again. You're my son. If you ever need help, financially or otherwise, you can come to me." It wasn't like there was much else he could do, but he had his wealth and his influence and Teutus as his son should know, that he could make use of that too, should he want to. Tertius hadn't been able to find a loophole to deem Teutus his proper heir, after all. He knew Teutus was disappointed. So he would have to do anything else he could, to make amends. 

Teutus then said they did have furs, "Not anything in particular. But a cloak lined with fur might be nice for the winter." He wasn't getting any younger, after all.

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