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The Past and the Present {OPEN}
February, 63 AD

It was a strange feeling to be back in Rome again. He hadn’t been here in more than a year now and a lot seemed to have happened since! Germania had been a different experience. The journey was long, longer than he recalled it had been, but this time of course he was travelling on his own and not with his sister and other slaves and captives. This time he had hoped to return for good, despite missing his sister still. He made it to the last Roman outpost and then to the other side of the Rhine, assuming it would be perfectly fine, since he was born in Germania. 

And he did manage to rediscover the Chatti tribe, but it was not as expected. He presented himself and they didn’t like his Roman name. And he could not recall the name his parents gave him. He had been Lexus most of his life, after all! He tried to settle down in a village, and despite that they thought he could be useful to them in the battles against the Romans, that did not feel right either. He had a Roman name, he was a freedman – a Roman citizen. And working against Rome now felt odd, despite how he so often had spoken up against Rome in the past. But not anymore. And he could not find out where his old village had been, nor anyone who knew or remembered him. It had been so long, almost 20 years since that time… 

In the end, he had travelled back to warm and familiar Rome once more. The ludus had a new lanista however and new gladiators were rising. He had heard about freedmen and free Romans who turned gladiators for the sake of fame and fortune, and while that was tempting… he wanted to try and make it on his own first. He wanted a real job and he wanted a life without feeling like a slave. 

He had gotten himself a room in a taverna so far, until he knew how to get an insula or another kind of home for himself. He needed coin though and he was no gambler. He had to find work. But what could he do? All he knew was fighting… he had fought as a gladiator and as a lanista, he had managed to do the job, but it hadn’t been what he wanted, truly. He missed fighting! So, since that’s what he knew, he had to find himself a job as a guard or bodyguard or something like it. 

And that’s part of the reason why he was at the arena today; to look at important people and meet people and find out if anyone needed a man like him. And he could look at the gladiators and think about the past. Nostalgia… he knew what that was now. And with nostalgia lurking within him, he took a seat among the ordinary people of Rome to watch a fight just with them, for the first time ever.
Aeliana was at this same arena for the first time as a slave. The slaver had brought her along with him and it felt really odd. The iron collar about her throat and it was embarrassing as well for some of the free knew her. They of course had heard the gossip about her father unable to pay his taxes and they talked of how he had sold his daughter as if she were property. Aeliana was a dutiful daughter and so she had put up no fight. The slaver said he wanted her to realize she was no longer free and see how her former acquaintances would treat her now. Most just stared and none greeted her. She avoided their gazes when it was possible. Soon, very soon she would be sold. That scared her to death. But she remembered her brothers parting words. That this was a new start. She would no longer be under her fathers thumb nor his cruelty. That it was possible that even in chains she might find happiness.

Where her hair normally would have been up in curls and with fancy golden combs as a free, now it merely tumbled over her shoulder and hung freely down her back nearly to her waist. She tried to concentrate on the fighting though honestly it really bothered her. Always had. While others cheered in the death of gladiators it made her sad. She had been taught the basics of healing by her mother. She wanted to see to peoples hurts not see them killed. As yet another gladiator fell in the arena the crowd would go wild while Aeliana just watched on in horror her face pale at seeing all the blood. She knew she was an odd bird or so her father had told her often.

She had been so lost in her thoughts she had not realized that a strange man had stepped up to the slaver at her side and they were exchanging greetings and shaking hands. "Pardon, who is this lovely one. I have none seen her like before. Have you been hiding new stock?" Aeliana was lifted to her feet by way of her elbow and then this man thought to lay hands upon her.

He cupped her chin then with force turned her face one way and then the other. Combed his finger through her hair and then boldly traced his hand down her side flowing over her curves. She took a step back from him and muttered one word that displeased him greatly. "No," it had been little more than a whisper but still it had reached his ears. His eyes had narrowed upon the girl then a glance to the Slaver.

"Apologies, she was friend until a few days ago and has not realized her place as of yet."

This strange male took hold of her chin once more this time his fingers pressed harshly against her flesh hard enough that it would likely leave bruises. "Such a pretty little thing. Sadly I don't have time to break this one in, but get in touch with me when you have."

The slaver gave a chuckle. "I'm afraid she would have been sold by that. The sale is tomorrow."

After that she had finally been allowed to take her seat once more upon the bench. Her hands clasped in her lap nervously as she listened to their friendly banter talking of this and that. Aeliana was people watching since she had nothing else to occupy and mind and she wanted her mind off her troubles. That's when she spotted a male. A handsome one. He had the look of a soldier or a gladiator. He appeared fit and strong and overly tall. From what she could see at this distance he was quite handsome. Had he known she was starring she wouldn't be doing such. She'd be looking away. That was just the way she was. A terrible shyness and that was the way she had always been.
He had never sat up here on some of the cheapest seats in the arena. Either he’d been down there on the sands, fighting and killing to survive or he had been seated far closer to the actual arena, watching the gladiators from his own ludus fight. But not now. He was no gladiator and he was no lanista. He was nothing but a freedman without a job. And so he sat here, watching the gladiators and the people around him, quietly thinking about what to do next.

Alexius didn’t cheer yet, when the gladiators fell, because he knew what it was like to be down there. But he watched with interest, because he knew the right and the wrong moves and he could easily guess who would be injured and fall next. Perhaps he should cast himself into the gambling business, because he would be good at guessing who’d win and lose. But no… that was not his lot. He would not bet on gladiators. It didn’t feel right.

Meanwhile, a slaver and his slave had taken a seat not far away and of course he easily spied the beautiful young slave over there. But she was not his and he did not approach slaves. All he knew was that he would never own one again. It wasn’t right. So many things were not right in Rome, to be honest! And in the world, for that matter. Not even Germania had been right…

He heard the slaver talk not far away and apparently, a potential buyer for the slavegirl had showed up. He arched a brow when the slavegirl took a step away while she was being touched, but he could not make out the words. She had to be a new slave, he thought. Else she would not have backed away from the touch; she’d know better. It almost surprised him that she wasn’t hit for her bad behavior, but she just sat down and apparently… suddenly looked his way. Oh she was a very beautiful girl, this one! What a pity she was a slave. Alexius sent her a smile and a wink when she noticed that he had noticed her. Suddenly the arena and the gladiators were less interesting.
She was trying to take her mind off her troubles when she spotted that handsome man once more. He had the look of a gladiator but he sat among the free. When his head suddenly looked in her direction and their eyes met. He sent her a sexy smile and a wink. No man had ever winked at her before. What if he had winked at someone behind her? Her heart hammering away and all the while casually glancing over her shoulder. Just several men feeling the benches. She glanced forward once more to find him still starring. Her cheeks now flushed the color of a rose. A small trembling smile shyly and then she ducked her head downwards not able to meet his gaze again and not knowing how to flirt. All of those thoughts soon were lost as harsh hands grasped her forarms squeezed hard enough to leave bruises.

"I would slap your lovely face but I don't wish to foil your beauty at the sale. You need to be clean, well mannered, obedient and  obey my every command if you wish to live. Do you understand me?" Just to press the matter more firmly upon her. He gave her a good shake. Jerking her neck back and forwards until her teeth rattled and hurt in the process when he finally released her she was to the point of tears. Just to think days before she had been free and look at her now.

When she had settled down she dared to look up and see if that man was still looking her way and she had no idea what she would do if he was.
The young slave looked over her shoulder as if she was uncertain that he had winked and smiled at her. But when she returned her gaze to him, she would indeed find him still watching her and this caused her to blush and smiled shortly. But it was very short, since she then looked away, probably trying to remember her place as a slave. He wondered why she was a slave… if she was new, this meant she had been free recently and this often meant something bad had happened to her family.

And as if that was not bad enough, her owner suddenly grasped her and yelled at her and began to shake her. Lexus’ gaze hardened; what was this, treating her like that in an open place at the arena? With so many people watching too. Sure, she was just a slave, but they were all here to watch the gladiators fight, not to watch a slaver and his slave in seats. And people were watching. And Lexus hated seeing a pretty girl treated like that.

He stood and made his way towards the exit, making sure he would come across the slaver. Once he was close enough, he ducked close to the slaver, “Perhaps you should tame your slaves elsewhere but here.” He suggested and gave the girl a quick look, worried, but then he moved on his way. Hopefully the slaver would take the bait and leave… and Lexus waited for him in the corridor down the stairs and away from the seats and the actual arena. Gods he hated it when Romans mistreated their slaves. After all this time and now as a freedman, this still sat too deeply within him.

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