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March, 77 AD

 Fuck.

 Why could he not just have fallen in love with some plebian girl or even a freedwoman, just as he was a freedman? But no, it had to be a Patrician woman. And even a Patrician woman, whose brother had been Consul not long ago and whom herself had been a Vestal Virgin until not so long ago. First she’d stopped being a Vestal. And the virgin thing, well Alexius had everything to do with that ending for her too. And what a night it had been. Just one night! But he wanted more and that meeting in the library was almost more than he could stand.

 Alexius found himself working more. Spending more hours by the warehouse, so that hopefully once he did go home, he’d be tired enough to just sleep. Instead of spending less hours, so that he could go out and find someone to share his bed with. Not that he hadn’t also done that. But it just wasn’t the same anymore. He kept wishing it was her. Gods, he’d put her on a pedestal, had he not? And now all he wanted was her. So he’d stopped trying to make other people distract him, because it didn’t work. Was it fair that he was sharing pleasure with a woman and then closing his eyes, seeing Calpurnia’s face instead of the one he was with? No, it wasn’t fair to anyone. So he had to stop. Yet he could not have the woman he wanted the most. And it wasn't like his longing for pleasure died out. But he didn't want anyone but her, not really. It was all more fucked up than anything he’d ever tried before.

 Lexus had also noticed the change. He’d commented on how quiet the flat had become. Not that he thought it was bad. But he said he worried for Alexius. Who just rolled his eyes and would down some more wine, because what else could he do? He didn’t want his son to worry.

 Another night on the town it is. He couldn’t work late every night. Alexius found one of his favorite taverns and downed some wine. Then some more. He ended up being very drunk. At some point late at night, he’d begin walking home. Now he did feel tired. He sat down on some steps in front of a temple to rest. And apparently, he fell asleep there. Right until the sun rose on the sky and people began roaming at the Forum again. Right until someone would see him there and decide to try and wake him up. 

(( OPEN TO ANYONE ))

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Ovinia was a busy woman. She purposefully kept herself thus so she didn't have to dwell on other things going on in her life. That also meant she was up and out of the domus most days at dawn - unless she was required to greet her fathers clients - so she could fill her mornings with banal activities that suitably distracted her from the fact the man that had taken so much from her was currently in the tullianum...and the other cause of her scattered wits was firmly out of her reach somewhere else in the city. She sighed and tried to brush off the thoughts as well as she could as she strode through the forum, trailed by her bodyslave Lucia and a miserable guard that had temporarily replaced the one she had found unsuitable, until a more permanent solution could be found. She still hated to be out in the city alone, but she was trying her best to regain a bit of normalcy. She just needed to push through her 'silly fears' as her father had put it with his usual lack of patience. 

This morning she was on her way to the Temple of Vesta, one of her usual haunts and was currently striding across an already filling up Forum when she noticed a curious sight slumped on the steps. She blinked as her guard tried to hurry her along and up into the temple as she tried to reconcile what she was seeing. "Alexius?" She called out with a frown. He was asleep. Odd. She felt of a wave of something wash over her...she hadn't seen him in a few weeks, not since the night in the insula and shame that she hadn't checked in, and the desire to flee now rather than face dredging up memories of what had happened made her deeply uncomfortable. She sighed and tried to grip the fear that he was injured and wounded as she drew closer. She could smell the wine on him and let out a relieved breath. Not injured then, just deeply in his cups. She arched a brow and despite the protestations of her guard, moved a sandalled foot to kick him in the thigh to try and rouse him. "Is this how you worship our beloved Vesta, Alexius? You're so pious you sleep on her steps?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Most nights, he did make it home before he slept, but apparently last night was not most nights. It had been a while since he least spent time with Calpurnia and every day that went by without her held little meaning. So it was better to just go out and get drunk and try and forget it all, distract himself with other people, although nowadays, even that wasn't as easy as it used to be. So when he did go out to get drunk and didn't have to get up to work the next day, well then he could end up drinking a whole lot of wine. Alexius usually drank a lot, so it took even more to actually get him drunk. Well it worked. And now he was asleep on the steps to some temple, he hadn't even noticed which one when he sat down here last night. Now he wasn't sitting though, he was stretched on one of the lower steps, it wasn't very comfortable, but he'd been tired.

He didn't hear her call his name the first time, but then he felt a kick to his thigh and a familiar voice reaching his ears. 

Ovinia? 

Oh fuck!

He sat up almost instantly. His body was hurting in strange ways, probably thanks to the hard stone steps he slept upon. But he looked up at Ovinia, also feeling a bit confused and a bit embarrassed, "This is Vesta's temple?" He said, glancing up at it. Of course it was Vesta's temple he'd sat down by. Of course it was here he fell asleep. As if it was some harsh reminder from the gods, perhaps Vesta herself, that he'd dishonored her and apparently continued to do so.

He cursed himself under his breath and then went on, "I'm sorry you had to find me like this... I guess I was very tired when I sat down to rest last night."

@Sara 

 

 

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Ovinia grinned that wide, magnetic grin and even managed a genuine laugh at his surprise as he bolted to sit upright. He seemed out of sorts - probably to be expected given he had just been roused by sleep when it was barely past dawn...on the steps to a temple he'd evidently been sleeping at since last night. With a sigh, she rolled her eyes and made a shooing motion for her slaves to back away before spinning and moving to sit down on the steps next to him. She could see Lucia glance around but fortunately, this early, there were few people of importance here in the Forum - it was mainly just slaves hurrying about. Ovinia glanced sideways at him, smoothing the expensive fabric of her chiton over her knees. 

"You must have been exhausted." She chuckled and considered him. Her slaves were close by but just out of earshot. "I...I'm sorry I've not called for you since we last spoke." she winced. That night had been one she wanted to forget. "Now I feel especially bad...look at you..." She sighed and arched a brow at him; "What's happened to you, Alexius my saviour?" she nudged him, trying to joke and jest and lighten whatever mood had gotten him into this state in this place.

 

TAG: @Atrice

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She grinned at him when he sat up, and who could blame her? Alexius, of all people, was sleeping on the steps of a temple. And not just any temple. It had to be Vesta, right? The gods won this round, clearly! Not that it was a competition. Even though it would appear he was losing it. Ovinia shooed her slaves away and he didn't look up to Lucia this time, but instead at Ovinia, who sat down next to him. Thank the gods there weren't many people around right now. Would she even have approached him, if this had been a few hours later? She joked about how exhausted he must be, and then apologized for not reaching out to him since last time. Last time? Oh, right, the night they caught her attacker! That seemed so long ago now, so much had happened since, and yet... nothing really did happen, did it? But Ovinia felt bad and wondered what happened to him.

"I'm not much of a savior right now, am I?" Alexius said and sighed, running both hands through his hair. He was exhausted. For so many reasons and they didn't all have to do with the wine last night, "Don't worry about not calling for me. I've been busy. And I just... needed a drink. Many drinks. Too many, for once, it seems."

@Sara

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Ovinia sighed and watched him closely, worry clear on her features. She smoothed her chiton to iron out wrinkles from where she sat and nudged him gently. "You'll always be my saviour. Twice now, actually. First when I first met you and then...the last  time I saw you." She smiled, more softly  this time with a little chuckle. "Lucius Antonius Alexius, my hero." 

But her jokes clearly weren't warming him and she frowned, sighing again. She was so used to seeing Alexius full of humour and easy grins, and easier charms. It was often grating when she, herself was in a poor mood but now...to see him so clearly down and out was...well, it was worrying to say the least. "Busy?" She arched a brow, "At work? And..." She glanced up - there still weren't many people around, "May I ask why you needed to get quite so drunk that you've passed out on our beloved Vesta's steps?" She sighed and offered him a little smile.

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Ovinia was being way too nice, Alexius thought to himself. She wasn't always so down-to-Earth and ready to talk, most often she was this lovely Patrician girl, whom he could speak truthfully to (and he did it whether she wanted him to or not) who cared for someone she could not have. He already spoke to Lucius about it and they ended up with absolutely no conclusion to their misery. Instead they ended up drinking wine. Just like he did last night. And here was Ovinia, comforting him with gentle nudges and smiles and calling him her hero despite his current state.

"You're being too kind, Ovinia. But yes, I guess I did save you twice." He said, a little smile creeping in now, before it faded again, as she asked into his reasons for being busy at working and needing so many drinks that he passed out here. Alexius glanced up at the temple behind him.

"I don't really feel this is the right place to talk about it." He said. He didn't want to anger the goddess even more! He'd done plenty already. So instead of digging into his own problems, better to just pretend like nothing. It's not like Ovinia needed his problems on top of her own anyway... "Are you here for Vesta?" 

@Sara

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"You did, and you know I'm forever in your debt for it." She arched a brow. Which was partly the reason she'd sat down and engaged him in conversation. The Ovinia of a year ago, prim and proper and far too important to talk to a pleb or a freedman...but the last year had changed her. Opened her eyes, in more ways than one. Besides, Alexius was a good man - for all his flaws, he was kind hearted and warm and deserving of companionship. Especially, so it seemed, right now.

He was not convinced though and she frowned, noting the way he glanced up the steps behind them towards the temple. "We've spoken about most things in public," She chuckled - he'd educated her about pleasure in the arena, after all. "What is it?" But then he posed her a question and she nodded with a small smile. "I try and come most weeks, do you not remember how many temples I dragged you to the day we went to the library?" She chuckled, "I have plenty of pastimes but paying my respects is one of my favourites. And I thought I'd ask her for some guidance, perhaps." 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Alexius gave her a smile when she said she was in his debt for what he'd done for her, "Don't think about that. I'm only doing what anyone should do, when a lovely young lady is in trouble." He said to her, but she wanted to know more about why he had been out drinking and he couldn't really tell her, could he? Well he told Lucius, but Lucius was a guy and they had a few things in common besides that. Ovinia... was more delicate and he feared he'd tell her too much if he did tell her anything, and then she would guess it all and then there would be the scandal. And Alexius would end up in the arena with no weapons against a couple of lions or tigers and that would be the end of his story. Or maybe they'd crucify him and let him die a slow death for what he'd done. No matter what, he was sure the outcome of his love for Calpurnia made public would end with his death. And he wasn't ready for that, not yet. Fuck it all.

Ovinia kept asking, but he tried to distract her about why she was here. And she smiled and explained it all, how she had plenty of pastimes but she enjoyed paying her respects at the temples. He sighed.

"Do they ever answer and give you the guidance you need? I mostly worship Fortuna. I don't think I've ever been inside this temple." Alexius said. He never had a reason to. Vesta represented the hearth, the home, the family and it wasn't until Lexus came along that he had any of that. Instead he had Fortuna. Maybe he had done it too much, been to good to her... so that she'd been too good to him in the past and now the wheel had turned and he felt abandoned by his favorite goddess.

@Sara

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She sighed and moved an arm to rest on her knees, her jaw falling into her palm as she studied him. "Sometimes?" She offered, although she was sure that was not particularly reassuring. "I come here to find solace, and to speak to some of the vestals. They give good advice," Her smile was soft and she shrugged a little, "Even on practical matters, not related to the Goddess' wisdom." 

She mainly came to the Temple of Vesta to offer thanks for the continued prosperity of her family...and to seek wisdom and comfort on the thought that one day, very soon, she would be starting her own. And she prayed for prosperity for that hypothetical future. But she knew Alexius favoured Fortuna...although judging by his appearance and fairly sullen mood, evidently Fortuna didn't favour him today. "Why don't you come in with me?" She asked with an arched brow; "Neither of us are allowed in the sanctum," For obvious reasons, "But the atrium is beautiful and we can seek solace there?" She arched a brow; "It's also somewhat more private, if you wish to talk."

 

TAG: @Atrice

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It would be nice to hear if the gods or goddesses that Ovinia favored, actually listened to her and answered. She said they sometimes did, but she'd also sighed. Ovinia explained how she found solace in this temple and spoke to the Vestals. Alexius had a strange kind of fear for the place now. It didn't feel right to enter the temple, to even be sitting here, when he'd bedded a former Vestal, such an important person in Rome. And he still desired her. Longed for her. Wanted her. So much. It wasn't right, was it? He said nothing more, until Ovinia suggested he came inside with her.

"I'm not quite sure it would be right. I don't feel Vesta would... welcome me into her temple. I'm not exactly known to honor her virtues." Alexius said, glancing up at the round building once more, "I fear I'd only gain her anger." And he might have done that already.

@Sara

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Something seemed wrong. Deeply wrong and she frowned. She knew Alexius was loose with his morals - and she had learned and tried very hard not to judge him for it, but to actually anger the Goddess? That suggested something more serious, at least to her. 

She sighed and studied the crumpled, dishevelled man next to her - he seemed a world away from the confident, charming, easygoing Alexius she had come to enjoy the company of. With another little huff she pushed herself to stand and then glanced down at him with an arched brow. "Come with me." She gestured and stepped down one step. "I'm not leaving you here to wallow in whatever the matter is. It's a pleasant walk from the Forum down to Tiber Island and I need to stretch my legs. I've been cramped in the domus too long." she arched a brow, as if suggesting she wasn't going to take no for an answer, and then added more quietly; "And it's quieter down there. If you would like to talk." 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Alexius thought he was giving very good excuses for not entering the temple. Without telling the actual reason. But Ovinia sighed and then pushed herself to stand in front of him. Looking at him, telling him to come. Alexius looked at her, a bit surprised. Hadn't she been on the way inside? Was she going to take him anyway? No, she spoke of the Tiber Island and not leaving him here to wallow. Was it that obvious? Couldn't he just be hungover, or something? But he wasn't. Or he was, probably, but that wasn't everything. Now that he was not drunk anymore and had found himself on the steps to Vesta's temple, he knew the goddess must be mocking him. And he knew why. Because he was a fool for falling in love with a woman he shouldn't have. 

Ovinia didn't sound like someone you should say no to right now. And then again, when had Alexius ever said no to a woman? He didn't say that. But he hadn't said yes to as many as usual lately. It just didn't feel right.

"Alright." Alexius said and pushed himself to stand, "Could we stop by a fountain by the way? I need a bit of cold water I think." He said with a grin, his head did hurt a bit now that he was standing and he was definitely thirsty.

"Why the Tiber Island?" He then asked. There was just that temple there, for medicine and healing. Unless she planned on taking him towards Fortuan's temple instead, that was by the Tiber too. There was no knowing what Ovinia wanted this morning, it seemed.

@Sara

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She chuckled and rolled her eyes, hopping down the steps. "Yes, you can dunk your head in it to clear it out of whatever is bothering you." She rolled her eyes and started the slow walk down towards the Tiber. It wasn't a short walk but she could do with the fresh air, and it was good...almost like exposure therapy, to be out in public after so many months locked in doors of her own volition. She eyed him carefully though, determined and stubborn that she'd get to the bottom of whatever had caused this episode for her friend. 

His question made her smile and she shrugged; "The river doesn't seem as polluted down there, and I like the water. And the Temple on the island, I go to visit for my mother." She frowned, "I...I'm not sure I've mentioned it. She has quite poor health." Which was an understatement and a half. She cracked him a small grin as well; "And sometimes the very handsome young noble men take swims down there as well. So the view isn't half bad." Chuckling and making herself blush at the thought she paused by a fountain - her slaves a few paces behind and in front respectively. "So may I ask what you were celebrating...or commiserating last night?"

 

TAG: @Atrice

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