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Learning the Hard Way (M - V)


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Late May, 77AD 
set a few weeks after Mysterious Girl


It would be a lie to say that Marcus wasn’t nervous. He was. For some reason – and he had an idea why – he had been invited to the home of Praetor Tertius Quinctilius Varus. There wasn’t any statement in the letter about why Praetor Varus would meet him, just that he was expected to show up at the appointed time and date. It didn’t say much. But he knew the name. That freedwoman Charis had mentioned him. And what had she told her husband? Pretense husband… fuck… but he couldn’t say no to such an important man, so there he was, approaching the right domus, with Silvanus following. Once they’d knocked on the door, it was opened and a guard let him in. The guard said the slave would have to wait outside for Marcus. Once the door closed behind him… he was on his own.

 He was shown into the tablinum of the very fine looking house, where Tertius was seated behind a marvelous desk. The house showed off the status and wealth of the man living there, but other than that, it appeared almost empty. Like the other inhabitants of the house weren’t here. It was quiet. Eerie, even. Marcus had a very bad feeling about it all. But Marcus followed the slave in and the slave announced Marcus’ arrival. Tertius put down his work and looked up, but didn’t stand.

 “Marcus Junius Silanus… it is good to finally meet you. Your father was a highly esteemed man. Proconsul of Rome, even. Do you hope to rise as high as he?” Tertius asked, without even inviting Marcus to sit down.

 “I hope to honor his name.” Marcus said, feeling oddly uneasy even though it was just the two of them in the room. Tertius’ body slave waiting nearby didn’t count. Marcus was usually never nervous, not this much. Not even with Aulus. But this was different. He didn’t know Tertius, but he’d met his pretense wife…

 “Do you now? And how do you intend to do that?” Tertius asked, folding his hands in front of him on the desk, his blue eyes never leaving Marcus’ face. Fuck.

 “I have begun my course of honor and will continue to follow it. And… I have friends in high places. I’m sure I’ll do well.” Marcus replied and now he could not postpone it any longer. This meeting was too strange, “Excuse me if I ask, but… why exactly did you ask me to come here?” He dared and Tertius inhaled a breath.

 “Oh, I just wanted to meet you. I understand you met my wife, so wanted to find out what you’re like. Especially since I doubt you’ll honor your father’s name much by insulting a Praetor and his wife the way you did. What was it you basically compared her to? A whore?” Tertius asked and now he stood, walking around the table. He wasn’t as tall as Marcus. But he had a certain presence and Marcus felt his back straighten. Fuck! She told him!

 “I didn’t mean it like that. I was only joking… I apologize if she believed otherwise…” Marcus tried but Tertius shook his head.

 “She did believe otherwise and she did not think you were joking. Your father was a fine man… but this apple fell far from the tree.” Tertius said and looked past Marcus, “Hector…” He said and the body slave left. It didn’t take long before this Hector returned, followed by four rough looking men. And then, before Marcus knew it, two had grabbed him by the arms, one stood behind Marcus and the fourth came to the front. Marcus squirmed and cursed, but they had a strong and tight hold on him and the man behind him stood ready too. Tertius looked up at the guard who had come to his side, and gave him a nod. A moment later, Marcus received a fist to his jaw. He groaned and tasted blood in his mouth. However, before he could regain his senses, came a hard punch in his stomach region. He doubled over, or would have done so, but the men holding him made sure he remained standing. 

“Please…” Marcus managed and Tertius smirked, seeming pleased with the reaction. Marcus couldn’t believe this was happening! His father was Decimus Junius Silanus! His friend, whom he lived with and who was his brother in all other senses but blood, was Tiberius Claudius Sabucius! Yet here Marcus was, in a Praetor’s house, getting beaten!

 “Please what? Stop? I'm afraid that's not an option. Unless... that is you saying you´re sorry for how you treated her?” Tertius asked and before Marcus could answer, another punch to his face. It hurt. So much pain. He felt a stinging pain and something wet. He was bleeding. He’d cracked an eyebrow. He heard Tertius’ voice again, “Are you sorry?”

 “Yes, please… just… stop.” Marcus said, he felt sick, this was not what he expected now or ever expected, really. But it didn’t stop. There were a few more punches. His ribs hurt too. He could feel the blood from the crack in his eyebrow, running over his eye and cheeks. Through his other eye, he saw Tertius come closer. The older man caught Marcus’ chin hard between his fingers and made him look at Tertius.

 “Then apologize. I need to hear it.” He insisted firmly and Marcus inhaled a breath, he felt he was shivering and shaking. He felt warm and cold at the same time.

 “I… I’m sorry… please, stop? I mean it. I’m sorry.” Marcus stuttered and Tertius finally nodded.

 “Good. I hope this is a lesson you won’t forget.” Tertius said and let go of Marcus chin again, “Enough then. I trust you won’t tell how this all happened.” He gestured to Marcus’ rather ruined good looks right now. And then Tertius looked at his henchmen, “Toss him out in the alley. Be quick about it.” And that was it. Tertius had done his duty and defended his wife’s honor and the young brat had been dealt with. And Tertius was quite sure Marcus would not forget this lesson anytime soon. He better remember. For his own sake. 


Not long after, Marcus was tossed out in the alley behind the domus, through the slave door. He curled up on the ground where he landed. It hurt so much, everywhere. His jaw, his ribs, his one eye that he couldn’t open, his stomach… he coughed and wondered if Charis knew what just happened, he hadn’t seen her. Tertius didn’t make Marcus apologize to her. Gods, how could he go home to Tiberius now? How to explain this? Tertius clearly didn’t want Marcus to tell who hurt him and why. Gods, what would his brother think? For once it was a good thing he was so far away.

After a little while he got on his feet and, still bleeding from the crack in his eyebrow and with visible bruises on his face, he stumbled through Rome and towards the villa in the gardens of Sullust. His own slave Silvanus did notice Marcus, but Marcus had forgotten all about Silvanus and didn’t pay him any attention. Without words, the slave caught up and ducked under Marcus’ arm so that he could help his master walking. Then it might seem like he’d just been in a fight, but the slave suspected that wasn’t the case. Marcus had been fine when he walked into the house. And then he came from the wrong exit. 

Together they returned to the villa and Marcus’ rooms. Silvanus got strict orders to not tell Tiberius what just happened or where they went. In fact, Marcus preferred that Silvanus said that Marcus was occupied and didn’t have time to talk. The slave fetched water and cloth to clean his master, who also refused to see a medicus. Silvanus was instead told to attempt to sew the cracked eyebrow. It worked, but it didn’t look perfect.

 Then Marcus asked Silvanus to fetch wine for him and after that, he went to bed with the wine jar close. He hid under the covers of the bed. He definitely had no time to talk. He had time to sleep, to drink and to think. And as long as he had the bruises, he’d have to attempt avoiding Tiberius.

Edited by Atrice
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