Breaking the Paradigm | Chapter 2 | The Reunion
The Reunion

Breaking the Paradigm

Chapter 2

The Reunion

Chapter 2

The Reunion

I already told you that Fia and I have been friends for a long time, but I didn't tell you that after the swimsuit confusion, our relationship went to a new level. We also went to college together and during our time there, we lived unapologetically, breaking rules and maxing out on life, with zero chill for norms or limits. About a year before the graduation, Fia told me that she was going to start working in government agency. She had a very specific and absolutely logical plan. Fia was determined to clear the Fabia gens name and wash away the 150-year-old shameful stain on the family's reputation, due to the actions of Emperor Titus Fabius Cruentus. According to Fia, only the Consul of the Republic can repair the damage done by the Emperor. Accordingly, Fia was obliged to become the Consul of the Republic, but not just any Consul, but the most respected, most valued and most revered Consul in the history of the Republic. In our country, the only opportunity to ascend to the position of Consul of the Republic is a career in government service. You must know Fia, if she has made up her mind nothing, absolutely nothing can stop her. I was prepared for just about anything—except for what actually happened next. A week before graduation, Fia informed me that she had accepted a job offer from the Security Prefecture and would join them after completing the required training courses. This decision was entirely logical; after all, moving from the position of Security Prefect to becoming the Consul of the Republic is just a step away. But Fia and the Security Prefecture? That's another story. But Fia joining the Security Prefecture? That seemed as mismatched as oil and water to me. The unpleasant surprises didn't stop there—in fact, they were downright catastrophic. You know the seven vows civil servants take, right? The ones they pretty much ignore, especially when it comes to poverty and celibacy. Fia was dead set on honoring every vow she took, especially those two. Given that, it was painfully clear our paths would never cross again. Fia forbade me from making any form of contact with her, abruptly severing a relationship that had spanned the entirety of ore twenty-two years on this Earth—our childhood friendship, our youthful love, the shared passions and crazy adventures. Just like that, an era came to an end.

And now we can return to my desk and to the chair occupied by a stranger. Yes, it was Fia. Despite my surprise and, to put it mildly, the strangeness of the situation, I was infinitely glad to see her.

“Wow, Fia?! how are you my love” I asked Fia in a slightly surprised tone, deliberately carelessly lowering the backside to the my large wooden desk. Right in front of Fia's face.

"Prefect's Assistant Valeria Fabia Severina! First and foremost," Fia corrected me sternly, "or you may address me as 'Your Honor' if you want it shorter."

"Your Honor, Fia!" I couldn't help but smile. "It's been five years. You must have missed me terribly, considering the unconventional and intriguing manner of this reunion. If you missed me that much, you could have invited me to your quarters."

"Enough with the clowning, Mr. Cornelius. I cannot fathom how you can maintain such lightheartedness when the weight of impending danger hangs over you," Fia retorted, her voice tinged with exasperation.

"Fia, Fia, Fia," I said, momentarily sensing that the once cheerful and spontaneous girl had been irretrievably lost, transformed into this dull, incomprehensible being. Fia seemed to understand my sentiment, and a familiar spark ignited in her eyes. I, too, regained my composure and continued, "I thought you knew me well enough not to even entertain the idea of witnessing my despair. At the very least, you should have known that no deprivation, public opinion, or Cardinal could compel me to forsake what I deem right."

"Why are you acting like you're eighteen years old?" Fia asked, her voice tinged with exasperation. "Don't you realize that we have grown up and fun is no longer ours? Our careers and the well-being of those around us all depend on our sanity. We lost the right to feel the moment we graduated from college. Don't you understand this simple truth?"

"My strong, beautiful, kind, and lovely girl," I said, taking Fia's hand in mine. "I think you forgot the most important thing. We always knew what was ahead of us, we always knew what the situation was, but we were never going to get used to it. I can't believe that my beautiful, funny Fia has disappeared somewhere and has been replaced by this gray assistant prefect."

"My dear, naive Ace," Fia said warmly, placing her hand on my knee. My hope that the vibrant girl was still concealed beneath her gray facade grew stronger. Fia looked into my eyes and continued, "Unfortunately, your true nature is known to many. You remain unchanged and uninterested in changing. You persist in defying convention with your uniqueness. Can't you, as an ordinary, normal cleric, at least show a little prudence? What's with those well-toned abs of yours? It raises eyebrows among the Republican establishment, you know."

"I don't know. But you used to be quite fond of my abs and other... ahem, 'attributes'," I replied mischievously, raising an eyebrow.

"Ace!" Fia exclaimed in annoyance, slamming her hand forceful on the table. "Can't you gravity of this Situation? Don't you realize you can be so Reckless with his holiness's Only daughter?

"I'm madly in love with Clio. You Know, sometimes ahe reminds me of you, which makes me adore her even more."

"Ace! A complaint! The Cardinal didn't believe your promise! His Eminence didn't believe a word you said, and he is absolutely convinced that..."

"I never doubted the cardinal's sanity. I was certain he would play it safe and come to you," I pondered for a moment, deliberating whether to disclose my decision to Fia or not.

"Wow, Fia?! How are you?" This was precisely why I adored this girl, apart from her exceptional beauty and stunning physique. Clio reacted to this rather peculiar situation with the same unruffled demeanor as me, using virtually the same words.

"You truly are both mad," Fia exclaimed, her voice filled with despair.

It turned out that a cheerful girl was still hiding under the black mask, ready to enjoy the moment.

For a few seconds, complete silence enveloped us. Two entirely unclothed individuals and one fully clothed assistant prefect locked gazes. The situation bordered on the absurd, and the three of us, as if by unspoken agreement, burst into a fit of hysterical laughter. I returned to the bed, draping my arm around Clio, and Fia, her laughter echoing through the room, moved closer to us. It turned out that the vivacious girl was still hiding under the mask of gray, ready to embrace the moment.

"Now, what were you saying about the daughter of His Holiness?" Clio inquired.

"As I already told you, both of you are complete psychopaths. Your father is well aware of your actions, and after Cardinal's complaint, he will exert his full power to destroy Ace. And you... I don't know. Perhaps he will confine you somewhere, maybe in a neighboring cell with mine."

"Ace will prevail, I am certain," Claudia said with such conviction that I couldn't help but embrace her.

"I am certain too," Fia affirmed, joining our embrace.

It was evident that the three of us would face numerous trials ahead, but this moment of unity was worth any trouble we might encounter. It was then that I realized the righteousness of my choices. I realized that this decision wasn't made on that dark, sultry, and rainy night alone. It was a decision made long ago when I chose not to conform like everyone else, not to become a civil servant like my ancestors, and most importantly, not to give up on the girl I loved. And now, I had resolved to challenge one of the fundamental pillars of our state and challenge our religious teachings.

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