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26 December 2008 @ 01:31 am
Oscenus and Antinous: Impudence and Old Age  
Who: Oscenus and Antinous
Where: Aelianus household (Rome)
When: A while ago (when Antinous took his trip to Rome)

Antinous is restless, though the bed he's been given is soft and the room is comfortably warm. The sun set long ago, but Antinous still hasn't slept. He's anxious about tomorrow and unhappy with the fact that Hadrian isn't with him. He's laying in bed, curled on his side, eyes only half-closed as he resists the urge to toss and turn dramatically.

Oscenus has lived in this house long enough to be able to walk the halls blind – he knows every stone and every crevice beneath his feet and the wall, which he’s gently running a hand along as he walks. True, he does know his way around without a light, but it would be an odd thing, for a slave to be walking around in the dark, and his legs aren’t nearly as reliable as the floor of the house. He could fall. He has before.

So now, as he goes, he’s little more than a light that can be seen from down the hallway, growing steadily larger at an even, easy pace. He’d been instructed to check up on the Emperor’s guest by his master. As a gesture of goodwill more than anything, because of course the house is safe enough that it shouldn’t have mattered.

He approaches the guards, although one could suppose that all they can see is a bobbing lantern – one of them calls out: “Who’s there?”

“Diogenes,” the slave snaps, in a tone far more irritated than his station should have allowed, before raising the light up to his face so the guards can have a better look. “No honest men here, I suppose.” He clears his throat, allowing the words to sink in. He really isn’t one to suffer fools lightly, and his composure is once again collected and calm when he next speaks. “I’ve been told to see to our guest. Is he asleep? Is he comfortable? Has he any complaints?

Antinous pushes up onto his elbows, squinting in the doorway, watching the exchange. As he most certainly isn't asleep, he decides to speak for himself. "I think I heard one of them snoring," he announces, teasing - he knows very well the penalty for a guard to sleep on duty.

Oscenus, if he were the sort to jump when startled, might have. But he isn’t, and he has enough self control to be able to just let the light shudder slightly at Antinous’s words. He lowers the lamp slightly and inclines his head, enough to get a look at the guest. “Pardon me, Dominus,” he says, in a voice more suited to a servant than that he’d used when talking to the guards. “I hope that lax guards are the worst of your troubles, as it’s one that can be easily seen to. Is there anything else you need? Are you happy with your room?”

"It's nice," Antinous says, shrugging his shoulders, sitting up to get a better look at Oscenus and the guards. "Who are you?" Antinous is more curious about that than he is worried about his accommodations, but rather than just asking the slave's name he asks a much broader question.

“Oscenus,” a slight bow of his head. “Valet to the master of the house.” Well, alright, so that isn’t strictly true, but it is close enough and a lot easier than explaining his exact duties. “I hope I’m not disturbing you.”

"No, you're entertaining me really," Antinous says, with his usual bratty air. He smiles sweetly though, and it almost makes up for his tone. "So you were sent to check on me? What would happen if I were like, dead? Who do you think would get in the most trouble?"

Oscenus smiles obligingly. Yes sir, ha ha, very amusing. “I was. And the guards posted to watch, I’d imagine. Although I do hope Dominus is not considering committing suicide here.” A wry, slightly more sincere smile, although it’s rather hard to see in the dim light. “My master would be quite offended. He’s usually quite interested in hospitality, and we did try to make sure your stay would not be that miserable.”

Antinous laughs, a bit of a giggle, and then shakes his head. "No, it's really very nice. I was a slave too, you know, before all of this. I'm not very picky. Hadrian insisted I stay here, but I would have been just fine staying with my friend," Antinous says, speaking the Emperor's name without a wince, clearly in the habit of using it as if he shares the man's status.

Even if Aninous didn’t wince, the slave is perfectly able to do it for him. No matter how close this boy was with the Emperor, calling him by his proper name is an impudence that… well, frankly made him twitch. “You are blessed, then, to be freed. May the rest of your days be as equally fortunate. And to be so well in the Emperor’s favor – one must suppose that they are."

Antinous smirks a little, glancing around and then shrugging his shoulders as if it doesn't faze him in the slightest. "I'm here to make up with my friend, actually, who is still a slave. He works at a brothel here in Rome. We argued and I made him leave the Villa. At least I hope we'll make up."

“He must be quite a friend, to have come here for.” And a slave, no less. Although Oscenus has enough tact not to mention that of course. “I hope the argument was nothing too severe.”

Antinous scoffs a little, leaning back on his elbows once more, legs folded in front of him under the blankets. "Oh, he did something... very bad. But I forgive him. Stupid, how you always end up forgiving people you love, even when they've been really annoying."

“In my experience, it is all one can do, sometimes. Perhaps that is the difference between those one loves and those one doesn’t – your own capacity to forgive them for their faults, however severe they may be?”

"Yeah, because... if I didn't like him so much, I'd totally have had him fed to lions," Antinous says seriously. No one tries to take Hadrian from him - Antinous can't think of a more severe sin in the whole entire world. "Hadrian probably would have if I didn't stop him."

Well. There’s one more note not to become too familiar with this one. Although at least that made a bit more sense. “Well. He is the Emperor. I did not think anyone could stop him.” So now Oscenus is quite sure this is all bluster, but who is he to call Antinous on it?

Antinous smiles a little smugly, shaking his head. "He likes me very much," he says, almost a purr. Clearly this fact pleases him extremely, and he's all too aware of the power that comes with it.

“So it appears, Dominus.” Likes or tolerates, Oscenus is beginning to wonder. Whether this is because Antinous is such an especially amazing person that he attracted the attentions of Emperors, or whether the Emperor himself is just so generous a man to humble himself enough to like him, Oscenus doesn’t know. He supposes it doesn’t matter, really.

"So why are you awake?" Antinous suddenly asks. "It's late now. Aren't you tired? Did your master wake you to come check on me? You should have told him to fuck off."

“It was no trouble. I don’t usually go to sleep early, anyway. Much too much work to be seen to.” He flinches at the suggestion, and sighs. “I wouldn’t do that. It’s hardly fitting, and I’m much too old for mouthing off at my age. Some of us can’t afford to be quite so spirited, although, and I hope you’ll pardon me, your old masters must have been quite merciful to have let you.”

Antinous smirks a bit rakishly, looking quite mischievous with such a smile on his face. He can shift quickly, it's clear - from angelic to wicked in the blink of an eye. "Not all of them, but it never stopped me." He drops back onto the bed dramatically after that, flinging an arm over his head with an impatient little sigh. "Anyway, you're not supposed to be doing work at night! Night is the time to have fun, you should be having fun."

“Well, your masters must have been merciful nonetheless, as I’ve known plenty who have been crippled or killed for less.” Another smile, this time humorless. “Forgive me. I was born a slave. Nights have always meant work. And even if I wasn’t, I don’t think I’d want to spend my nights having fun. Not anymore, I’m afraid.”

Antinous laughs and pushes up once more, his curls all a mess now as he looks Oscenus over. "Come on, you're not dead yet! What do you mean, not anymore?" Antinous is sure it's horrible being old, but he thinks if he's ever unfortunate enough to live to see a gray hair on his head, he'd still be unstoppable.

"Years ago, if you'd asked me, I may have said yes, but I wouldn't now. One reaches a point when they start realizing that nights are intended for sleep." He shrugs, the lantern giving a slight shutter in his hands. "And anyway, I have responsibilities to attend to here, and I can't afford to put what I want before them. It wouldn't be right."

"Well if you were going to have fun, what would you do? What do you like?" Antinous asks, lifting his brows. He thinks it's terrible that Oscenus works at night rather than relaxing and enjoying himself, and all of Antinous' attention is focused on this atrocity now.

“Right now? Go to bed early.” Yet another symptom of old age, alas. “I like reading.” And yes, he may be saying that with the slightest hint of pride. But within the bounds of propriety, naturally. “Natural philosophy mostly, at the moment. But I can also wait, and know that that’s secondary to more important things.”

Antinous looks thoughtful, sitting up again, sliding his fingers through his blonde curls. "Well next time you're with your master at the Villa, we'll have a surprise for you." Antinous knows he could just request it of Hadrian, and the man would see to it that it happens - he'll tell Hadrian to command Oscenus be given a break, and have the expansive library at the Villa opened to him. "But for now, you finish your work and go to bed. You deserve the rest, I'm sure."

“Soon. I think I can stay on my feet a while yet.” Oscenus gives a short bow. “If that will be all.”

Antinous nods, though he doesn't feel any sleepier now and is sure he won't get any rest himself. "Goodnight, Oscenus. Thanks for occupying me," Antinous grins, before he finally lays back again as if he might actually sleep, even if he knows he won't.

"Of course. Goodnight, Dominus." He takes his leave, making sure before departing to exchange a few quiet if forceful words with the guards outside, who stand up straighter and more alert in the wake of the slave.