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30 December 2008 @ 11:32 pm
Cicero, Antinous, Malakye & Hadrian: A Party Crashed  
Who: Cicero, Antinous, Malakye, and Hadrian
Where: The ambulatory, soldier's barracks
When: A few days after the last scene


Antinous ruffles his fingers through his hair, frowning at an ornate glass cup on display at one vendor's stand. His pout deepens, and he turns to Cicero, looking very worried. "What do you get the emperor for Saturnalia? This is impossible, he owns everything!"

Cicero looks on rather calmly, glancing over the vendors and their displays with a faint, wry smile on his lips. "I'm sure whatever you get him, he'll adore it," he murmurs dryly, and the sad thing about that is it's probably really, really true.

"Maybe, but only because he likes me. I wish I could get him something he really loves..." Antinous shakes his head, looking around a little desperately, seeing nothing worthy of giving to Hadrian. "Come on, you must have some ideas. You're the smart one!"

Cicero's look deadpans, his arms folding patiently over his stomach. "Prostitutes only know one gift to give," he says bluntly.

"Yeah well, I've already given him that," Antinous grumbles, leaning back against one of the columns surrounding the ambulatory. "I'm insane, Cissy. I'm insane. I'm trying to please the emperor! It's impossible."

Cicero sighs heavily, moving to stand beside Antinous. "I don't think it really takes much effort from you to please him," he says, looking a little pitying at his friend. It's almost sad how much this means to him.

Antinous sighs heavily, practically a whimper, and then shakes his head. "This is too hard. I need a drink." Without any other warning, he grabs hold of Cicero's arm and starts to haul him off, knowing very well the best place to get a strong drink is the solder's barracks.

Cicero nearly stumbles on his feet, struggling to keep up with Antinous for a moment before he straightens, scurrying forward to match the boy's pace. "Don't you want to clear your mind?" he asks, arching a brow.

"Yes. By getting so drunk I forget I have a mind," Antinous says decisively, storming across the villa like a man on a mission. "I'm driving myself crazy worrying about Saturnalia, I can't stand it anymore!"

"Oh," quips Cicero in dry humor. "You too?" He's the one that had to listen to Antinous fret over two different glass bowls for the last hour or so, after all. "I hope you don't expect me to clean you up," he murmurs.

"I can't pick gifts, but I can hold a drink," Antinous snaps, bratty and defensive. "You'll be the one who needs cleaning up if you try keeping up with me."

Cicero shakes his head. "I don't drink heavily," he says, decisive. He tends to water down his wines when he drinks with his patrons, preferring to keep his wits about him, just in case.

"You will tonight," Antinous assures him, snickering a little. "You're with me. I won't let you get away with any less than a 'so drunk you need to hold on to the floor to keep from falling off the earth' level of inebriation."

Cicero's starting to get that feeling again, whenever Antinous comes up with his 'great plans,' like a drop of cold water travelling down his spine. "I'm failing to see how this is a good idea, Annie..."

"It'll be fun," Antinous says, failing to see how it could go wrong. "It's the soldiers, we'll just be with the soldiers. I mean, they're soldiers, it's not like they'd do anything that could piss off the emperor."

Cicero suddenly stops dead in his tracks, his hard gaze falling on the blonde. "Seriously, Annie? Seriously?" He started to shake his arm around, looking exasperated. "Remember those three men from before? Remember? Well soldiers are just like them. But ten times worse."

"Worse?!" Antinous repeats, scoffing and turning to face Cicero, not releasing him still. "They're soldiers! They follow orders! I'm pretty sure those orders include not touching the emperor's... whatever I am."

Cicero makes a loud, derisive sound, almost like a bird squawking. "It's a bad idea, we should just turn around, have some wine in my room and just forget about it."

"Ugh, that's not a party," Antinous whines, pulling hard on Cicero's arm, trying to get him to keep walking. "Don't you want to party? The soldiers are handsome, it'll be fun."

"This is going to end so badly," Cicero murmured ominously, but he's already letting himself get dragged along, knowing he can't really fight Antinous without the boy throwing a fit.

Antinous doesn't see what could possibly go wrong, so he doesn't turn around, doesn't even consider changing his plans. He leads Cicero to the soldier's barracks, where celebrations have already started, if the few men passed out in the long hall leading into the building are any indication. "Seriously, relax," Antinous says, squeezing Cicero's arm encouragingly. "Hot soldiers. Wine. Me. This will be fun."

Exactly, Cicero wants to say, but he just shakes his head, letting himself get pulled towards his doom. "We're not staying long," he thinks to clarify.

Antinous ignores him, leading Cicero to the large common room of the barracks, where soldiers lounge and drink, some of them already passed out. Antinous looks to one nearby, smiling a little sweetly at the man. "Could we get some wine?" he requests, and the soldier - as well as a few others - rush to accommodate the boys.

Cicero tugs his arm out of Antinous' grasps, folding his arms over his stomach instead. He looks around the room, nose wrinkling a bit. He's reminded all too much of the bigger 'parties' some of his clients would throw. When a soldier comes to give him a cup of wine, though, he smiles sweetly, thanking him under his breath.

Antinous does the same, smiling with feigned shyness at the man as he takes the cup. He drinks from it immediately, eager for the buzz that it will bring. He looks over to Cicero, lifting his brows. "Anyone you like?"

Cicero throws Antinous a sharp glance, stern. "Anyone you like?" he counters, though he realizes a second later what a stupid question that is.

Antinous rolls his eyes, taking another gulp of wine. "There is, but he's not here. You need to have a little fun." He looks over the crowd, seeing plenty of men that are very handsome, though he isn't sure many of them are good enough for Cicero.

Cicero doesn't respond, rolling his own eyes as he takes a sip of his wine. He turns from Antinous, eyes mildly looking through the room, mostly for something to do. He watches most of the soldiers in various stages of intoxication, his look flattening as he surveys each one. His eyes land on one not too far away, but certainly separated from the rest, his hand noticeably free of drink.

The boy - certainly a boy, as he's not quite a man yet, no matter how strong his body looks - has warm tanned skin and a curl to his dark hair. He sits in his soldier's tunic, which is cleaner than the other men's, even if it is just as worn. His skin is clean as well, clearly different from the other soldiers in that he bothers with his hygiene at all. He's frowning at a pair of men nearby him, who are arguing loudly and belligerently, shoving at each other.

Cicero makes a faint sound in the back of his throat, mildly impressed. He turns back to Antinous, gently knocking elbows with him. "There's always the black sheep," he murmurs, gesturing vaguely towards the other.

Antinous turns to look towards the boy, lifting his brows a little. Handsome, for sure, though Antinous imagines he'd be tough to crack. He's not even drunk, after all. "He's cute," Antinous agrees. "But not drunk. They're so easy when they're drunk."

Cicero rolls his eyes, downing the last of his wine - his only wine for the night, he vows - and hands the cup off to a soldier passing by. "I'm not here for that," he reminds Antinous.

"I don't mean easy that way," Antinous sighs, rolling his eyes. "I mean you know what they want. A sober man is so complicated. Makes me nervous."

"In terms of what they want?" asks Cicero, scoffing a bit. "There's no difference." He throws another idle look towards the soldier, mildly critical. "The only variable's how they try and get it."

Antinous looks to the solider as well, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully. "Let's go talk to him," he announces, and not a moment later he's grabbing Cicero by the arm, hauling him towards the soldier. The boy is handsome and seems well-behaved, and Antinous can't help but think it would be great fun to get him to behave badly.

Cicero makes a brief, grunting sound as he's dragged away again, nose wrinkling in protest. He can hear the other soldiers speak up, complaining as the draw away. He supposes that's one good thing about this, just as he and Antinous come to a stop.

The boy looks to them, brow furrowing slightly, clearly confused by their appearance. Antinous takes up a seat beside him, smiling and tipping his head a little. "Hi," he practically purrs. "Who are you?"

"Um," is the soldier's response, along with a bit of a blank stare. He looks between Antinous and Cicero, too surprised to speak for a moment, before he finally recovers and says, "Oh... Milites gregarius."

Antinous rolls his eyes, thinking the boy is absolutely hopeless. "Your name, not your rank."

"Oh," the soldier says again, clearly growing more flustered. "Malakye."

Cicero opts to remain standing, arms loosely folded over his stomach. A corner of his lips quirk up at the soldier's obvious unease, and he can't help but shake his head a bit-- yet another to fall into Antinous' trap. The poor soul.

"I'm Peitho," Antinous informs Malakye, not missing a beat. "And this is Eros," he adds, nodding towards Cicero. He gives the false names on a whim, thinking it rather funny to liken himself and Cicero to those particular gods.

"Hi," Malakye says, looking to Cicero and smiling a little shyly.

Cicero returns the faint smile, caught just a little bit off guard with the other boy's smile. Small and shy and sincere, unlike anything he'd find on any other soldier. "Why aren't you joining in the festivities, Malakye?" he asks, inclining his head towards the two men chortling over another round of drinks.

Malakye shakes his head, glancing at the men and then back at Cicero. "I don't drink," he shrugs, a simple answer. "But I'm here. That's kind of like participating, right?"

Cicero looks to Antinous, then back to Malakye. "Kind of," he concedes. "You didn't really look like you were enjoying yourself, though."

"Yeah, well... I don't really like the way people act when they drink, either," Malakye admits, casting a bit of a glance at Antinous, who is on his second cup of wine and already has red cheeks and stained lips.

Cicero's lips quirk up into a wry smirk. "He's always like that," he says, before giving Antinous a playful air-kiss.

Antinous snickers and rolls his eyes, standing up, getting the feeling that Cicero and Malakye could have a much better conversation with him gone. He leans in, kissing Cicero's cheek, patting his shoulder at the same time. "I'm going to get more wine. You stay here, okay?"

Cicero frowns instantly, turning to look at Antinous. "Don't go too far," he warns, sharp eyes flicking around the room. If these soldiers get out of hand and Antinous harmed in any way, he just knows the Emperor will have him crucified for it.

Antinous nods, squeezing Cicero's shoulder to reassure him, lifting his brows significantly before he heads off, disappearing into the crowd. Malakye watches it, frowning a little, and then looks to Cicero. "I hope I didn't insult him," he says, looking guilty.

Cicero looks back to Malakye, his brows lifted in surprise again. Then he's shaking his head, moving to take up the seat Antinous left behind, turning so he can watch the other boy move about. "Trust me, if you insulted him, you'd never hear the end of it."

Malakye smirks faintly at that, imagining Cicero likely knows from experience. "You two seem close, but I've never seen you around. New at the Villa? What brings you here?"

"Visitor's permit," answers Cicero with a wry smile. He keeps his eyes on Antinous for a few more moments, then looks back to Malakye. "I think he's trying to test out how long he can keep me here until the Emperor decides to kick me out."

Malakye lifts his brows a bit, surprised by that last statement. "The Emperor is wise, he has good judgement. I don't think he'd kick you out. You're brighter than the other boys here, I can tell."

Cicero shakes his head, though he smiles a bit with the compliment. "That's where you're wrong," he says. "I doubt any of the other boys come close to the amount of stupidity I posses."

Malakye makes a face, clearly not agreeing with Cicero at all. "I've spoken to a few of them, and trust me... it's like trying to have a conversation with a ball of yarn. Sometimes pretty yarn, sure, but still... I don't care how pretty someone is, if you can't talk to them, they aren't worth it."

Cicero smiles faintly, leaning back a bit, relaxing. "What do you try to talk to them about?" he wonders.

Malakye shrugs, pursing his lips as he considers it. "I had a conversation with a boy once about gold. I wanted to discuss the fact that it's the weakest metal and yet for some reason the most valuable, he just wanted to know what he had to do to get some."

Cicero bursts out laugh, a hand to his stomach. He looks to Malakye, almost sympathetic. "Oh, Malakye, I think I might actually know him," he says, giggling still. "I think I might know several of him, really."

"Yeah, well... that's what you get with the pretty ones," Malakye says, rolling his eyes. He panics the next moment, looking to Cicero almost fearfully. "Not that you're not pretty. You - you're even prettier than them, and... and smart too, because you're... you're different. But most... most boys. Most boys just have air in their heads, I mean."

Cicero smiles pleasantly at Malakye, charmed by the boy's compliments and sincerity behind them. He reaches out, gently patting the soldier's hand with him. "I'm just a very good actor, Malakye," he says, then throws in a wink too, feeling a lot better than he had when walking in.

Malakye snickers, not buying that at all. He lifts his brows, meeting Cicero's eyes, studying them. "I'm sure you are. But you're not stupid, either." His gaze shifts, looking out towards Antinous, who is pouring wine into a man's mouth and laughing, flirting with the soldiers playing a game of dice at a table. "He's a little stupid."

Cicero looks over to Antinous, following Malakye's gaze. A part of him can't help but agree, but another part feels mildly insulted. Antinous, after all, is still his best friend. "He just likes to have fun," he defends stiffly.

"There are other ways to have fun," Malakye points out, looking back to Cicero. "I'm having fun right now, just talking to you."

Very vaguely, Cicero remembers another man, another talk, but those same words, soft and charming and dangerous. Cicero smiles sweetly, and with that gesture, a barrier is put up. "It must not take much to please you, then."

Malakye laughs faintly, oblivious to Cicero's sudden defenses. "I guess not. I'm simple, my mom always tells me I'm simple. Maybe I'm not that smart myself. Hit on the head too many times or something."

Cicero shakes his head. "You're smart," he says certainly. "You choose to keep a level head, even when your peers choose otherwise. At the same time, you don't fully separate yourself from them, because you are still, after all, bonded to them. You're very smart."

"Well then... clearly we simply can't agree. We'll just have to admire each other's intelligence, while being entirely convinced of our own failings," Malakye says, stifling a smirk. "Sound fair enough?"

Cicero's lips quirk into a faint smile. "Too fair," he returns, sliding a glance towards Malakye. "I'm even more suspicious now."

"Suspicious of what?" Malakye laughs, surprised, lifting his dark brows. "Do I seem like I'm up to something, Eros?" No one is ever suspicious of him - even when they should be. Malakye has a sweet, innocent sort of look about him, despite his obvious strength.

Cicero only shakes his head. "It's in my nature," he insists, which is the truth, really. He's always suspicious, even when there's no real reason to be. It's his default reaction, though lately it's been failing him. "I would think it'd be yours too," he adds. "Aren't soldiers being safe and guarded?"

Malakye shrugs a little, leaning back to avoid a stumbling soldier who nearly topples into him. "I'm guarded, but I'm not suspicious," he decides. He keeps to himself, but he generally doesn't think the worst of people.

Cicero shakes his head again, but he keeps quiet. He doesn't actually know if he should be jealous of Malakye or pity him. Perhaps a little of both. He sighs when the group of soldiers Antinous has situated himself with suddenly erupt into laughter, and he sits up a litlte further, narrowing his eyes at them.

Antinous is sitting on the edge of the table, his feet resting on one soldier's thigh as he leans over the table, reaching for the dice. He's clearly got their attention, and he's clearly relishing it. Malakye looks to him as well, making a bit of a face. "You and your friend are very different."

Cicero starts a bit, looking to Malakye in surprise. It's not the first time he's heard similar words, but it's certainly one of the first times he's ever heard it said as if it were a good thing. Cicero looks to Antinous again, and he nods, ruefully. "He gets what he wants," he agrees.

Malakye shrugs, looking over to Cicero thoughtfully. "Well, what do you want?" he asks curiously, wondering what it is that Cicero wants and isn't getting.

"I don't know," Cicero answers, just like he had when Gaius had asked him, only this time he's lying. He's figured out what he's wanted since then, but he realizes it's a lot easier to handle pretending he doesn't know what he wants than actually admitting he does, and knowing he'll never get it. He looks to Malakye, lashes lowering, an old trick he always uses on his clients whenever he wants to the men to talk instead. "What do you want?"

Malakye shrugs a little, slightly bashful about his response to that question. "Nothing huge. I don't want glory or immortality or any of that. Just... I want to help my family and..." Please God, of course, but he can't say that to this stranger. "Just stuff like that."

Cicero's expression softens a bit. He'd been both expecting that and wary about being wrong. "Is that why you became a soldier?"

Malakye shakes his head, reaching up to ruffle his fingers through his curls. "I wanted to go fight in Judea, because that's where I was born and... my people are suffering there. The Jews. I wanted to help, but... they wouldn't let me go there to fight. I guess because I'm Jewish."

"And you got stuck here instead," says Cicero, glancing around the common room, before giving Malakye another side-long glance. "That must make you bitter."

"No, it doesn't make me bitter, really," Malakye says, scrunching up his face a little as he considers it. "There's work to do here in Rome too, people suffering. I shouldn't care about the people in Judea exclusively, just because I have an emotional connection to them. Everyone needs help."

Cicero glances away, mildly disappointed. He'd been hoping Malakye is bitter, that this boy has some sort of flaw, if only to make himself feel a little better. He lifts a shoulder in a delicate shrug. "That's one way to see it, I suppose."

"That's the way I have to see it. I don't want to be bitter, especially not towards the Emperor I fight for. And I'm certainly not bitter towards him. I believe in him. And he's truly been compassionate towards the Jews," Malakye says, clearly strongly standing behind Hadrian. "I'm glad to fight for him."

Cicero nods towards Antinous. "What of his new favorite?" he asks, half curious, but half desperate to find something wrong with this boy. "What do you think about that?"

Malakye glances towards Antinous, who is pink-cheeked and drunk, kissing the dice in a soldier's hand before he throws them. "Hm. The boy... doesn't seem very bright, but to be friends with you he must have a good heart. I don't think you'd be friends with someone cruel. And he is beautiful, so I guess he must serve his... function."

Cicero makes a faint sound at that, though he isn't sure if he agrees or if he's insulted for Antinous. Still, he doesn't clarify, thinking it unwise to tell a soldier of the Emperor's army that the Emperor may very likely be in love with a page. "You're kind," comments Cicero, though it's hard to tell if he means it as a good or bad thing.

Just then there's a hush that falls over most of the room, most of the heads lounging around turned towards the entryway. There, Hadrian stands, seeming to appear out of nowhere, with an expression on his face that clearly says he isn't pleased.

Malakye looks towards Hadrian, sitting up straighter the moment he realizes the Emperor is in the room. He jumps to his feet just a second later, and the other soldiers follow suit, hurrying to stand at attention. Antinous is slow to catch on - drunk as he is, he's too focused on pouting over the fact that the soldier's attention is suddenly no longer on him. He realizes exactly who their attention has turned to a moment later, and his stomach drops as he quickly scrambles off the table.

Hadrian's eyes meet Antinous' for a few moments, quietly furious, before he looks around the room some more and finds Cicero, who's one of the last few to stand. He glares at the boy, the set in his jaw obviously indicating he blames him for this mess, and then he finally speaks, surveying the rest of the room. "Clean yourselves up," he says, hardly above a mutter, but his disgust is evident. He waits another moment before turning, quickly heading out.

Cicero glances to Malakye, then Antinous.

Antinous bites his lip, frowning, oblivious to Cicero now that Hadrian is angry with him. He hurries after the man, ignoring the protest of the solider he'd been flirting with especially. He catches up with the emperor, reaching for his arm, curling his fingers around it and holding on.

Hadrian jerks his arm out of Antinous' grasp a second later, turning hard eyes towards the boy, though he doesn't slow down his pace. "Don't touch me."

The wind is knocked out of Antinous by those words, his lips parting in surprise, look injured. He stumbles in his steps, but he hurries to keep up with Hadrian, afraid to be separated from him now. "I was just playing," he says quietly, beseechingly. "It was nothing."

Hadrian makes a short, derisive sound in the back of his throat, turning away from Antinous to glare at his path instead. "It's always nothing, isn't it?" he mutters harshly, before he gives his head a quick, rough shake. "I'll hear no more of it."

Antinous' heart is pounding, and he feels absolutely panicked. He's used to Hadrian listening to him, paying attention to him, and this dismissal absolutely terrifies him. "What do you want to hear?" he whispers, practically whimpering.

"The truth!" Hadrian suddenly shouts, whirling on Antinous, forcing the boy to skid to a stop lest he collide with the man. Hadrian's hands are clenched into fits at his sides; he's practically seething before he forces himself to take a deep, calming breath. He shakes his head. "I'm starting to doubt if you've even given me that much."

Antinous flinches when Hadrian shouts, throat getting tight, panic and hurt overwhelming him. He shakes his head a little, swallowing thickly, and he takes the smallest step towards Hadrian. "Please can we go somewhere and talk?" he says quietly. "Privately."

Hadrian falters for a moment, eyes looking over the sincerity and desperation in Antinous' expression. But then he's shaking his head, stepping away. He knows if he lets Antinous, the boy will only ensnare him again, and he'd fall victim to it as easily as he had before. "I've seen and heard enough," he says, straightening. "You lie to me, then make a fool out of me in front of my soldiers. I thought I knew you, Antinous, but apparently I was wrong. I don't know what drives you to be this cruel, but there is no room for a person like you in my bed, or my life. Good-bye." Then Hadrian turns, walking quickly away, not even letting himself turn around again lest he crumble once more.

Antinous covers his mouth with his hand to stifle the sound that comes out of him, a pathetic whimper, a devastated sound. He shakes his head, walking behind Hadrian, trailing after him despite the glares he's getting from the soldiers flanking Hadrian. "Where will I go?" he asks shakily, choked by his tears. "You're all I have."

"Perhaps you should have thought about that before you decided I wasn't enough," answers Hadrian stiffly, still refusing to look at the boy. "It's not my concern any longer where you end up," he says, somehow managing to sound fairly convincing.

Antinous stops walking finally, sure Hadrian would never say those words if there were any hope he could forgive him. Hadrian must hate him, if he can be so unaffected by the thought of Antinous going elsewhere, and possibly being with other men. "I'm so sorry," he whispers, but he knows he never should have done it in the first place. Hadrian trusted him, let him in close and never denied him a thing, and all Antinous has done from the beginning is prove how unworthy he is of that trust and love. He turns away, heading numbly towards the barracks to find Cicero.

Cicero is waiting outside it, standing restlessly with his arms crossed. He hurries toward Antinous when he sees the blonde approach, but he slows down upon seeing the expression on his face. "Oh Annie..."

Antinous shakes his head, reaching for Cicero, fingers clinging to the boy's toga. "I'm so stupid," he whispers brokenly. "I'm so stupid."

Cicero steps up instantly, wrapping his arms around Antinous, holding him close. "It'll be okay," he says, though even he can't forget how furious Hadrian had looked. "He forgave you once before, Annie, he can do it again."

"He told me to leave," Antinous whispers, curling against Cicero, clinging to him. "He said goodbye, he said... he didn't care what happened to me, he would never say that if he could forgive me, he would never... He wouldn't want someone else to... He doesn't even want me anymore..."

"He's just angry," Cicero offers, though he's fumbling. "He'll cool down a bit, then he'll realize how much he misses you." Cicero can't help but appreciate the irony of the situation: just a week or so ago, he'd been desperate to try and convince Antinous otherwise. Now he's here, insisting they'll get through it.

Antinous shakes his head a little, not sure he believes it. He wonders if someone will come and tell them to leave, or if they could just hide out in Cicero's room at the Villa forever. He drags in a shuddering breath, sounding like a hysterical child. "What should we do?"

"Lay low," says Cicero after a moment. "Keep quiet, and out of everyone's way. Wait it out until this whole thing blows over," he advises, though he's almsot positive, too, that it's only a matter of time till they're told to leave, if Hadrian really does intend to stay angry.

Antinous nods, and he lifts his face, meeting Cicero's eyes. "I need to change," he whispers. "I need to change. I can't be like this anymore. I want to be a good partner for him. If he ever... I know he won't, but if he would... I want to be good, I need to change."

Cicero smiles faintly at Antinous, encouraging. He reaches up, gently tweaking the boy's ear. "We'll do our best," he says, though he has his doubts. What would a prostitute and a page really know about being a good partner for the Emperor?

Antinous nods, and he wraps his arms around Cicero's shoulders, leaning on him. "If they make me leave... I'm not going back to the paedagogium. I'm going back to Rome with you." He doesn't say that he intends to go to the brothel, but it's implied.

Cicero shakes his head instantly, reaching up to grip Antinous' arms. "Annie, you have a chance to avoid that. Don't be foolish."

Antinous shakes his head, laughing a little bitterly. "It doesn't fucking matter if I don't have him. It doesn't matter. I love him. I don't care where I am if I'm not with him."

Cicero purses his lips together, clearly still disapproving. "You say that now, because you're upset," he insists. "But you won't be saying that later, when you have to cater to how many different men in one night, as sick and disgusting as the rest."

Antinous scoffs softly, shaking his head. "What do you think I did at the paedagogium?" he says darkly. "At least at the brothel they wouldn't be getting me for free."

"No, but they because they pay, they have more license to get away with things," Cicero returns, narrowing his eyes at Antinous. "What do you think will happen once you get older in there, and your customers don't return? At least at the paedagogium, you can be an apprentice. You can get somewhere."

"I don't care," Antinous says again, shaking his head. "I don't care. I won't get older, anyway. I won't ever grow up. I'm done when I turn nineteen. I'm just done. I don't have anything but my youth and my body, you know that. I'm stupid."

Cicero shakes his head fiercely. "You are stupid, if that's all you think you have! You're smart, Antinous, I know you are. You just need to focus on other things. You can have something else, you're just too lazy to try."

Antinous looks away from Cicero, tears darting fast down his cheeks. "I'm drunk and... and shit is really bad right now, I just.. let's go to your room. Let's just go to your room, okay?" Antinous isn't in the mood to argue with Cicero, who is all he has now.

Cicero lets out a short breath, shoulders sagging. "Okay," he says. He slides an arm around Antinous' waist, letting the boy lean on him as he takes them back to his room. "I'm sorry, Annie," he says, shrugging a bit. "For what it's worth."

Antinous shakes his head, keeping close to Cicero as they walk. "You warned me. You said it was a bad idea. It's my fault, it's totally my stupid fault."

"Shhh," Cicero says gently, lips twisting. "Just sleep it off, okay? You might feel a little better in the morning, when your head's all cleared up. We'll talk about plans of action then, okay?"

Antinous nods, squeezing his arms around Cicero a bit. "Thank you," he murmurs, grateful for Cicero, who has always been his friend, even when Antinous makes ridiculously stupid mistakes like this. "Thank you, Cissy."

Cicero shakes his head, tightening his own arm around Antinous. "It's the least I could do." He's made his own stupid mistakes, after all.

Antinous shakes his head, sure his mistakes are much larger now. What could be worse than losing Hadrian forever, and over something so stupid? Antinous has never hated himself more, and he doesn't think it will ever get better.