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Weathering the storm


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April 75 CE (Same day as Next steps)

After the talk with Aulus and Horatia, Felix felt the tension of the day's events wash over him like chilling rain. Now that Callista and him had done what immediately needed to be done - told their masters - there was nothing left to do but wait for the fallout, and the next steps to take when Aulus decided on them. The rest of the day went by quietly, under the concerned glances of their fellow slaves.

Felix went about his usual tasks. He would have felt worse if he sat around idly. He needed to think, to fully understand how close he had been to dying, or being tortured. How close Callista had been to the same. Felix felt bitter about what happened, alternating between worry, relief, and boiling anger. He hoped things would end well. In this case, "well" would involve that man named Titus disappearing for good.

Towards the evening, Felix finished up his tasks, and went to the kitchen for a tray of food. He got enough for Callista; she'd fainted when they got home, and was probably still quite shaken. Felix wanted to check on her before turning in for the night. Walking over to the room she stayed in he stopped in the doorway, calling out.

"Callista? Are you awake?"

@Laria

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After the whole ordeal Callista had spent the remainder of her day busying herself with work to keep herself from dwelling on all the events that had happened that day. Even after being dismissed for the day she had gone to the kitchen to help wash dishes. She needed the distractions, because while everything was happening she had felt an overwhelming amount of fear, but now that she had time to process everything, all she could feel was white hot anger. 

As she tried to fall asleep she wished for just a bit of privacy, some of the braver girls in her room had tried to ask what had happened, she brushed them off and when they realized that she was not in the mood to talk they left her alone, but Callista could still feel their eyes on her making it nearly impossible for her to sleep. 

"Callista? Are you awake?" 

She sat up and her head turned towards the doorway while every other pair of eyes in the room turned towards her, earning those in her immediate line of vision a rather uncharacteristic glare. She recognized the voice as Felix and stood up without saying a word to meet him. If it had been anyone else she would have pretended to be sleeping, but Felix was perhaps the only other person who could possibly understand what she was going through. "Hi" she said greeting him. She she the tray of food in his hands and as if on cue her stomach rumbled and she realized that she had completely forgotten to eat. Ignoring her stomach's grumbling, she asked "how have you been?" knowing perfectly well that it couldn't have be any better than she was.

@Chevi  

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Callista walked to the doorway to answer his call. Over her shoulder Felix could see the other girls who shared the room, looking at the two of them curiously. They didn't know what had happened earlier in the day, but they knew Callista was upset for some reason, and Felix could only imagine what they must have been thinking about his involvement in the whole thing.

"Hi. how have you been?"

"It's been a long day" Felix admitted with a sigh "I wanted to come and see if you are feeling better. I brought some food if you feel like eating... maybe we can sit in the garden, if you'd like fresh air?"

@Laria

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"It's been a long day"

She nodded in understanding, she knew exactly what he meant. 

"I wanted to come and see if you are feeling better. I brought some food if you feel like eating... maybe we can sit in the garden, if you'd like fresh air?"

"Thank you, that sounds wonderful" she said, she looked over her shoulder to see that they were still being watched. She quickly started walking to the garden with him, eager to get away from all those prying eyes. As they walked she said "thank you" again. While she didn't specifically for what, she meant for the food, company, and excuse to leave her room. She didn't say anything more after that, what could she say? Even now she was still seeing red, and she didn't want to chase away Felix, not after everything they had gone through. 

@Chevi

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"Thank you, that sounds wonderful"

Felix carried the tray as they headed to the garden, finding a bench they could sit on and share their dinner in relative privacy. They were within earshot in case either of their masters called, but Felix doubted Aulus or Horatia would make them do any more work tonight. He placed the tray of food between them on the bench.

"We don't have to talk if you don't want to." he noted, looking at her "They probably asked you enough times for today, I guss?" he added, nodding towards the room she'd come from, referring to the girls she shared it with. Even if they meant the best, questions about one's wellbeing could get annoying after a while. Especially when she was not allowed to talk about what happened. 

@Laria

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Callista walked with Felix to the garden and sat down on the bench. They didn't bring a candle or lamp of any sort but the moon light made it bright enough for them to see. She took a piece if bread and looked up at the moon as he started talking.

"We don't have to talk if you don't want to... They probably asked you enough times for today, I guess?"

She looked over at him and said "they may have asked me but I haven't been able to talk about it, truthfully I'd like to talk, but if you don't want to..." she trailed off at the end, not exactly knowing what she wanted to say. She turned away from him, took a bite of her bread and looked up at the sky again. 

Her anger that she had carried with her all day was beginning to subside and she now felt nothing, while sitting here she was completely numb. "Why did this have to happen?" she asked but not to anyone in particular, Feix was the only on there but she didn't face him as she said it, instead she continued looking upward so it could have been a prayer. 

@Chevi 

 

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Felix broke off a piece of bread too. He had not realized before how hungry he was from the day's events; food had been the last thing on his mind. There was enough moonlight in the garden not to need a lamp. He could see Callista's face as she looked up.

"they may have asked me but I haven't been able to talk about it, truthfully I'd like to talk, but if you don't want to..."

Felix was not known for being talkative. They'd had conversations with Callista before, mostly the time they went out shopping for books together. But talking about... the day's events, and the feelings they brought with that, that was uncharted territory. Still, Felix was willing to try if she wanted to.

"Why did this have to happen?"

"To us?" Felix sighed, looking at her "I don't think there is a reason... we were just the easiest path for him to get to the domina."

@Laria

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"To us?... I don't think there is a reason... we were just the easiest path for him to get to the domina."

She looked back at him and held his case before looking down at her lap. She sighed, continuing to look down and said "not just that... it's just... not exactly the best lot in life to get, is it." She didn't specify what but it was clear that she meant their both being enslaved. "Live isn't fair, I know that" she continued, this time looking forward rather than down, "but this shouldn't be our fight, and yet it is. And the worst part is that whatever happens I will feel responsible, even though I never choose this and whatever reason that man is so furious never had anything to do with me." 

Her eyes had started watering as she spoke and she furiously started wiping at them, she had done enough crying for one day. 

@Chevi

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"not just that... it's just... not exactly the best lot in life to get, is it."

Callista had not been born enslaved, as far as Felix knew. She had been a free woman once, even if only in her childhood, and then was sold into slavery somehow, and now she belonged to Horatia's household. Felix never quite understood what slaves felt when they were not vernae, like him. But he knew that it was something many of them struggled with. Even he struggled with it sometimes, although in a different way.

"Live isn't fair, I know that... but this shouldn't be our fight, and yet it is. And the worst part is that whatever happens I will feel responsible, even though I never choose this and whatever reason that man is so furious never had anything to do with me." 

Felix sighed. None of the things she said were wrong. She had said yes to the man's threats and promised to help him, and even if she never actually did, it was going to haunt her for a while. 

Feix moved the tray to his other side to sit next to her. This time, he did not venture to touch her. He'd comforted her just when they got out of the Castra, but that had been a moment of high emotions, and he was not going to try and do the same inside the household. Not without her allowing. Especially not now. So he just sat next to her, tilting his head to look at her.

"You didn't do anything wrong." he said quietly "And you are right, this should not be your fight. Or mine. But he made it ours when he threatened us."

@Laria

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She felt him move next to her and unconsciously stiffened, as much as she liked him she was feeling so many conflicting emotions that her natural reaction was to put her guard up. She finally relaxed when he started speaking,

"You didn't do anything wrong... And you are right, this should not be your fight. Or mine. But he made it ours when he threatened us."

She looked back at him and nodded slowly. She was feeling very conflicted by Felix's presence, the more emotional part of her was glad he was there and wanted him to hold her, while her more logical side was terrified about where this could lead.  Unsure of what to say she finally settled on, "thank you," She smiled at him, it was laced with sadness but it was a smile none the less, "it was nice to be able to talk about this."

@Chevi

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Callista tensed up as he set closer, and Felix made sure to keep his distance. It seemed like at least it helped that she could put words to what she was feeling.

"thank you... it was nice to be able to talk about this."

"Any time" Felix smiled back. He reached for the tray and balanced it on his knees so she could continue eating her dinner, and he took another bite of bread, allowing silence to stretch on as they ate. 

"You are very clever" Felix noted, looking up at her after a while "I think that also makes you strong. I am glad you did what you did. It would have been a lot worse otherwise."

@Laria

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"Any time" 

She smiled in a more content manner back at him, just having someone to talk to was brightening her mood considerably. After he moved the tray onto his knees she finished her slice of bread and took another. 

"You are very clever... I think that also makes you strong. I am glad you did what you did. It would have been a lot worse otherwise."

She stopped eating and laughed a humour-less laugh. She shook her head and said "I'm not clever or strong, I'm incredibly selfish and weak. When I agreed to help him I wasn't thinking of anything but my own self preservation. I betrayed everyone, including you and somehow still had the audacity to expect immediate forgiveness." She shook her head again and said "I'm a horrible person Felix, I know that I wouldn't be talking to me, let alone comforting me if I were in your situation" 

@Chevi

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Callista laughed a bitter laugh that surprised Felix. She was not usually this open about her feelings, but the bitterness sounded shockingly genuine.

"I'm not clever or strong, I'm incredibly selfish and weak. When I agreed to help him I wasn't thinking of anything but my own self preservation. I betrayed everyone, including you and somehow still had the audacity to expect immediate forgiveness."

There it was. She was not shaken by the threats or the whole ordeal of the day, but rather, about how she'd reacted to it, and what she had done. It must have hurt her, the betrayal, even though she did not go through with it. Felix knew the feeling. When Titus showed him that he had Callista, he felt the same panic to say whatever to get out of the Castra alive. With her.

"I'm a horrible person Felix, I know that I wouldn't be talking to me, let alone comforting me if I were in your situation" 

"You are not a horrible person." he said quietly. He understood where she was coming from. He understood that betraying the family, even if she never did any harm with it, was a deep wound to someone who cared about others. But he couldn't bring himself to think of her as a bad person. "And I betrayed you too. That man told me he had you, and I... didn't tell him what he wanted to hear. He could have hurt you for that. If you didn't protect yourself, you would have been hurt, and it would have been my fault."

@Laria

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She felt like crying again, but she held back her tears, she knew that if she started she would never be able to stop. It scared her how quickly she had broken, for more than two decades she had been with this family but all it took was a a couple threats and she agreed to betray them. 

"You are not a horrible person" 

She smiled sadly at him, it was kind of him to say so but she sure did feel like one. 

"And I betrayed you too. That man told me he had you, and I... didn't tell him what he wanted to hear. He could have hurt you for that. If you didn't protect yourself, you would have been hurt, and it would have been my fault."

She looked shocked, she turned to face him and looked him straight in the eye. "The only person to blame is that praetorian, nothing that happened or could have happened was your fault.  You didn't betray me when you choose to withhold information, you protected everyone including me by doing so. Please don't blame yourself for any of this, none of it was your fault." 

@Chevi

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Callista looked angry, and then she looked shocked at his confession. Felix surprised himself too, admitting that he might have been wrong in this decision. He made the choice a slave should also make, placing his master's interests above another slave's. But that other slave was also Callista, who could have been hurt, or worse, because he chose to stay loyal. It felt less easy, making that decision when it was her who got hurt by it.

"Well, none of it was your fault either." he pointed out mildly, looking at her. If she was going to absolve him of the blame, she could not put it on herself either. "Seems unfair, doesn't it?... Feels like out of two wrong choices, each of us made one.

@Laria

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"Well, none of it was your fault either"

She smiled at him and said "thanks," she still felt as if whatever came next would be but it was still nice that he didn't seem to think so. 

"Seems unfair, doesn't it?... Feels like out of two wrong choices, each of us made one." 

"I don't think there ever was a right choice, no matter what either of us chose we risked hurting someone. It seems ironic how we both wanted to keep everyone safe, and yet we choose to do so in completley different ways."

They really were different kinds of people she was beginning to realize, while she acted on pure instinct and emotion he made the logical decision even under such pressure. She understood that she would never truly know what he had gone through in the Castra and vice versa, but if it was anything like her experience than she knew he was much more resilient than her. 

@Chevi

 

Edited by Laria
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"thanks,"

Felix could only hope he said the right thing sometimes. He was not well versed in comforting people, although he liked to observe others in his quiet way. Aulus usually needed other forms of comfort, and Callista was still mostly a mystery. But at least she seemed to be less upset now.

"I don't think there ever was a right choice, no matter what either of us chose we risked hurting someone. It seems ironic how we both wanted to keep everyone safe, and yet we choose to do so in completley different ways."

"I think he made it so that there was no right choice. People like him do that when they have power in their hands." he frowned. The wrong kind of people. The kind that did not deserve power to begin with. "He made a play about offering me freedom for treason. I think he made a mistake there."

@Laria

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"I think he made it so that there was no right choice. People like him do that when they have power in their hands."

She nodded in agreement, it certainly seemed like it to her. She noticed his frown and assumed there was something more he wanted to say but couldn't, she knew the feeling well. 

 "He made a play about offering me freedom for treason. I think he made a mistake there."

"He offered me the same" she said, she didn't add that it didn't seem like a mistake to her. She had been free in her youth, and while she never wanted to betray the family it was smart of him to try and sway her with the promise of freedom. 

@Chevi

so sorry that took as long as it did 

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"He offered me the same" 

"I know." Felix nodded. Of course he couldn't know for sure, but it was the only thing that made sense, for the man to try the same tactics on all the slaves until they worked on one of them. Callista must have told him she wanted it, that was how she got away without being hurt. Felix tilted his head, looking at her again. It really was not her fault. Any of it.

"Is that what you want? To get your freedom one day?"

@Laria

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"Is that what you want? To get your freedom one day?"

She sat there stunned, surprised by his forwardness. After a short by long enough to be awkward pause she answered him, "not like this, but yes." She had grown up free, it wasn't until her teenage years that she became enslaved so naturally she would want her freedom back. "Would you want it one day?" she asked, it made sense for her to want to have her freedom back but Felix had been born enslaved, she didn't know what he would want.

@Chevi

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There was a long pause, long enough for Felix to sense that Callista was hesitant about her answer. Not like she didn't know what she want - but she was probably considering how much she should say. He understood that. It was always a dangerous conversation.

"not like this, but yes." she finally admitted. Felix nodded. He knew she had been free when she was a child. It was not surprising she wanted that back.

"Would you want it one day?" 

Not it was his turn to pause.

"Maybe?... Yes, I think. It's just... I am not sure what I would do." he shrugged. Stay in Aulus' service anyway? Likely. "Sometimes... I feel like I don't really have anything else I would be good at."

@Laria

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He paused before answering just as she did, and she almost laughed at the absurdity. She had hesitated not because she didn't know what she wanted but because she didn't want to say the wrong thing, she suspected for Felix it was the opposite. 

"Maybe?... Yes, I think. It's just... I am not sure what I would do... Sometimes... I feel like I don't really have anything else I would be good at."

She sat and thought for a moment before answering, "well, what do you enjoy?" If he couldn't think of something he was good at surely he could think of something he liked to do, a he would most likely be good at whatever he liked. 

@Chevi

 

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"well, what do you enjoy?"

Felix wondered about that. In fact, he had been wondering about it for a while now. He didn't expect to get his freedom any time soon, and certainly was not planning what he'd do after, but the thought had been there, and the answer was, he really had no idea. He was not learned or scholarly enough to be a scribe or any sort, and while he had practical knowledge and a decent grasp on numbers, he'd need to learn a lot to be useful in that capacity.

"I... think I'd want to do something with my hands" he said finally, looking down at his hands "You know... make things? It's... not very impressive." he added with a small smile "What would you do?

@Laria

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"I... think I'd want to do something with my hands... You know... make things? It's... not very impressive."

"Making thinks can be impressive, it all depends on what you make" she countered, "What would you make?"

"What would you do?" 

Well, she would be making things herself, just in a very different way that definitely did not need the use of her hands. "I don't know what I'd do career wise, but I do know that I would want to start a family." She blushed slightly when admitting this, there was nothing wrong with her wanting a family but she hardly admitted it to anyone.

@Chevi

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"Making thinks can be impressive, it all depends on what you make. What would you make?"

"I'm not sure" Felix admitted with a sheepish smile and a shrug. It just felt like making things with his hands... something that carpenters and bakers and other people did day after day, was something that made for a good life. He was not sure how that could be explained in words, though. So he asked Callista instead.

"I don't know what I'd do career wise, but I do know that I would want to start a family."

Felix nodded. A family was nice. It was good to have one, even when someone had precious little else in their life. "You'd make a good mother."

@Laria

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