The Freshman Ch. 38bycaligula97236©
Chapter 38 – Epilogue
Cassie Schmidt never returned to the United States. In fact, for the rest of her life, she never left the Republic of Danubia. It was in the Danubian Republic where she would build her life, raise her family, and over time repair the damage to her soul.
Cassie spent her first year in Danube City living with her brother in Spokesman Alexi Havlakt's house. She learned Danubian as she struggled to finish her diploma. She went to a Danubian high school, because there was no such thing in Danubia as home schooling. She spent her senior year at school slowly shedding her broken American identity and assuming a Danubian one. She came to speak Danubian quite well, better even than her brother. She soon made friends with several Danubian girls, whose personalities and interests were totally different from the group with whom she had been in the U.S. She wore a school uniform that she considered nerdy, but being in a school full of uniformed students helped keep her mind off fashions that might have reminded her of life in the U.S.
Cassie had very little in Upper Danubia in terms of material possessions. She had two suitcases of clothing and memorabilia, and a computer lent to her by the Danubian government. Over time she accumulated textbooks from her school and pictures of her new group of Danubian friends. She had a modest room in the Havlakts' house to herself. When she celebrated her 18th birthday Jason bought her a Danubian bicycle.
The months passed and the first winter came and went. Cassie did not have a single flashback during that entire time. Slowly her confidence came back as she found her place in school and worked out a new relationship with her brother. She came to deeply respect him, and from that respect came admiration. In the U.S. she had never been proud of having him as her brother, but in the Danubian Republic her attitude changed completely. At his very young age he already had accomplished great things in life. She knew that within a few years he would return to the United States and make a real contribution, perhaps even more significant than the one he already had made in Danube City.
During the vacation after she graduated from high school, Cassie Schmidt went with her classmates on a summer work project in the forest reserve overlooking the Rika Chorna Reservoir. The students linked up with a group of students from Rika Chorna and spent the entire summer working and camping together. They maintained service roads and fire breaks, conducted wildlife surveys, and learned about forest management. Cassie felt real satisfaction as she worked to preserve the same forests her father's company had been hoping to clear-cut. She enjoyed the woods, cooking out in the open, getting dirty, skinny dipping with her friends in the cold mountain streams, and looking out over the landscape of seemingly endless rolling green hills and mountains. She loved the villages at the foot of the mountains and the quiet life of the area. When she left at the end of the summer to return to Danube City, she did so with great reluctance. The forest seemed to call her back.
Just before she was scheduled to start university classes in Danube City, Cassie changed the direction of her life and answered that call. Instead of attending the National University in Danube City, she left her brother and the Havlakts to study forestry at the Natural Resources Institute in Rika Chorna. Within two years she was working as an Apprentice for the Danubian Ministry of Natural Resources. Four years after she first settled in Danubia, she was formally sworn in as a forest ranger at age 22. She became a valuable employee for the Ministry because she was the only forest ranger in the area that spoke English. As the years went by Ranger Cassie Schmidt guided countless groups of foreign tourists through the forested mountains overlooking the Rika Chorna Reservoir. She wrote several essays for travel guides and magazine publishers about the Danubian mountains. Later she would marry one of her co-workers and raise a family in the village that served her ranger station. She was content to stay there, at work along the trails with her husband or in the village with her in-laws and kids. She rarely went into Rika Chorna, and was lucky to make it to Danube City even once a year. However, in her world she became well liked and found her Path in Life.
The arrival of Cecilia's little nephew prompted big changes in several people's lives. At first it seemed that where he would be staying would present a dilemma, because Victor Dukov did not have any extra rooms in his house. The child spent several nights sleeping with Cecilia in her room, but no one considered that a permanent solution. He simply had to have his own room.
Apprentice Kimberly Lee-Dolkivna resolved Cecilia's dilemma the week after she and Pedro got back from the U.S. Kim decided that Pedro's presence in Victor Dukov's house was the sign that she needed to grant her client Tiffany Walker permission to get married to Officer Vladik Dukov. Vladik and Tiffany would take up their residence at his father's former house, which in turn would free her room at his uncle's place for Pedro. Thus, not only was Pedro's situation resolved, but also Tiffany's.
Pedro's presence in Danube City gave Prime Minister Vladim Dukov an opportunity to quietly taunt the U.S. Ambassador. Pedro was a U.S. citizen and thus, reasoned the Prime Minister, had the right to attend the exclusive English-speaking school where most of the foreign embassies were sending their children. In fact, if the English school did not welcome Pedro with open arms, the Danubian government would close it and require all diplomats to send their children to Danubian public schools and take their classes in Danubian.
At first the Ambassador balked, given that Pedro was the nephew of a woman who had so badly disrupted the operations of Mega-Town Associates in Eastern Europe. Now here was this kid, straight out of one of the worst housing projects in the U.S., being thrust right into the elite preserve of the diplomats' children. However, in the end he had to relent, under pressure from not only the host government, but also from other embassies that had children attending the school. Within a month of arriving in Danube City, Pedro began attending pre-school with an international mix of English-speaking kids. Two school security guards, who were members of the Danubian Secret Police, watched the preschool to make sure he was treated with respect at all times. Whatever objections parents at the U.S. Embassy might have had to Pedro, those opinions they had to keep to themselves. Dukov made it clear that any disrespect whatsoever to Pedro would result in the immediate closing of the school.
Over the next couple of years Pedro grew very quickly, going through several school uniforms even before making it to the first grade. He already knew how to read and do simple math by the time he was six and was beginning to play soccer. Whatever trauma he might have suffered during Cecilia's two years of being absent seemed not to affect him as he grew up in a quiet and normal environment. He made friends with the children of several diplomats and became popular among his peers. The only detail about Pedro's development that bothered Cecilia was that over time he completely forgot how to speak Spanish. However, she was consoled by the fact his English would be nothing like hers. By the time he returned to the U.S. Pedro spoke with an educated accent, the result of several years of elite schooling.
Jason became a serious cross-country runner during the time he lived in Danube City. He ran various marathons and always finished among the lead runners in any 10-K races. A couple of races he actually won, including a long distance run around the Rika Chorna Reservoir. As was customary in the Danubian Republic, Jason and his fellow runners always competed naked, except for their shoes and socks. Jason thus was living his dream, sprinting across the open countryside with his body completely uninhibited by clothing.
In the mornings he usually went jogging around the National University, and only during the coldest days did he wear anything. It took a while for Cassie to get used to the sight of her brother dashing out the front door and running down the street with nothing on, but this was Danubia, and things here were done differently than they were done in the U.S.
Upon attending his sister's graduation from high school and watching her depart for her summer work project, Jason decided to return to the Temple of the Ancients and request permission to resume performing public penance. Jason's motivations were complicated and even he could not articulate why he wanted to return to wearing a collar. However, it was obvious to the English-speaking priestess that Jason's Path in Life, as long as he was living in the Danubian Republic, was to perform penance. For the second time in less than a year Jason watched the Temple fire consume his clothing and left the building with his body completely uncovered and a collar around his neck.
Jason's decision to return to a life of public penance was his own and had nothing to do with the fantasy that Cecilia had for him the year before. In fact, because Jason's public penance was something that he alone had decided on performing; Cecilia understood that part of his life was not something she had any control over. Jason had taken the collar because he felt that it was necessary to come to terms with his own place in the world. By the second summer Cecilia knew enough of Danubian culture to understand that it would be inappropriate to ask her boyfriend any questions about what he was doing or how long he planned to stay collared. Jason never volunteered any information, but secretly he had taken an oath to keep his collar and remain undressed as long as he remained in the Danubian Republic. He packed his clothing into his suitcase, knowing that it would be several years before he would allow himself to wear any of it.
With that Jason returned to the Socrates Club, inviting Cecilia as his guest. The couple became regular customers and always sat with Tiffany and Vladik, listening to the latest musical endeavors of "Socrates' Mistresses". The heart of the Danubian musical scene became a regular part of Cecilia's life, because of her boyfriend's membership in the club.
In the fall, still completely naked except for the Temple collar, Jason continued his studies at the National University and within three years had his Danubian undergraduate degree. Through a special agreement with his university in Chicago his classes were recognized in the U.S. and applied to a degree there as well. Burnside wrote him to tell him that he would have to take one final semester of classes to get his diploma in the U.S., but that simply was because the university required any graduating student to attend the final semester on campus. The same rule would apply to Cecilia, but more than anything else in both their cases it was a formality.
Cecilia Sanchez became the assistant program director for the exchange program between her university in the U.S. and the National University in Danube City. A year after she first set foot in the country she was at the airport to greet 30 students flying in from Chicago. Her old bossy demeanor from her days as an R.A. returned in force as she strutted in front of the bewildered group with her clipboard. Cecilia would be an important part of the lives of a total of four groups of exchange students: an ever-present mentor, translator, advisor, and intermediary for students adjusting to life in a place very different from what they were accustomed to.
A total of five years went by before Jason, Cecilia, and Pedro finally returned to the United States. They hated leaving their placid home in Danube City, but they knew that ultimately the Path of their Lives had to be pursued in the U.S. They were driven to work and contribute, and the contributions they could have made to the Republic of Danubia were finished. Yes, they could have stayed, but to stay would mean they had no further ambitions in life.
The three young people that stepped off the plane were very different from the ones who had fled the U.S. five years before. They had accomplished great things in their lives and had the confidence in themselves to continue their studies in Chicago. Pedro now was nine years old and ready to enter the fourth grade, while Jason and Cecilia would start immediately with graduate-level classes. As for getting married, that would happen, but not until they both had their Master's Degrees.
Upon returning to Chicago, they realized many things had changed. Jim Halsey was the Chairman of the Economics Department and soon would become the dean of the entire School of Arts and Sciences. Ruth Burnside was in Washington investigating stock fraud cases and battling with several powerful companies, including Mega-Town Associates. The former professor had become a major headache for numerous CEO's and their friends in Congress, which was fortunate for Jason and Cecilia. The entire episode of the Danubian coup was long forgotten and no one in the company even noticed that they were back in the U.S. The corporate battle now had to be waged against Dr. "Ruthless" Burnside, not against two university students.
Suzanne Foster's life also had changed completely during Cecilia's absence. The young photographer was quite famous after having published several books. She had quickly risen to the top of Chicago's cultural life as one of the city's most daring and well-liked artistic photographers. It turned out Suzanne no longer was single, because she had recently married a local lawyer who was quite a bit older than she was. Cecilia found that detail quite interesting, because she had foreseen that Suzanne never would have a decent relationship with anyone in the Art Department. It turned out Suzanne had figured out that reality for herself and ended up with someone totally different from any of the young drifters she had dated when Cecilia knew her.
There was another change, this one in Carterville, Wisconsin. Jason and Cecilia attended an important wedding that just a few weeks after returning to the U.S. Jason's grandmother finally was getting married to her long-time friend after years of dating him. Cecilia was invited to be the maid of honor, a clear sign to everyone how much the older woman liked her grandson's girlfriend. Cecilia was indeed honored by her role in the wedding. It truly mattered that the one person in Jason's family who Cecilia respected had such a high opinion of her.
After the fall semester started Jason went over to the Tri-Alpha house to see if Ken was still around. Sure enough, he still was there, now a graduate student and the chapter Pledge Master. It turned out he still was going out with Lisa, although they had a very strange arrangement that hardly could be considered normal. Seeing Ken and being in the Tri-Alpha house reminded Jason of the famous nude 10-K race that was held towards the end of September each year.
"So, are you guys still doing the run?"
"Oh yeah, in fact it looks like this year we're going to have our biggest turnout yet. We might be getting as many as 400 runners."
"And you're still giving out that $ 1,000 prize?"
"Yeah, but since you left our pledges have always gotten it. You know that it's our tradition not to lose. And with me running the show, they haven't."
Jason smiled. The pledges always get the prize. Well, it looked like it was up to him to break Tri-Alpha tradition a second time.
"Well, you just give me a sign-up sheet, because I'm gonna need that $ 1,000 for textbooks. It'd be a shame to waste that money on something stupid like a party for your pledges."
"OK, you're on. I'll get you a form. But I still don't think we'll lose, because I've been making sure everyone is ready for the run. And anyhow, you're not 18 anymore."
Jason smiled again. Poor Ken, dumb as ever, so it seemed. During his absence Jason had become a seasoned marathon runner and had every intention of completely humiliating his friend's pledges. Oh yeah, instead of a party, this year those young guys will be getting some quality time with the paddle. I'll give 'em a lesson about running...
A week later, Jason went with Cecilia, Lisa, and several members from her sorority to the campus football stadium. Among them was a thin, shy, dark haired woman who had won the women's trophy for the past five years. Lisa introduced her as Kathleen and mentioned that she would be competing for her sixth trophy.
Both Cecilia and Lisa had their cameras ready, knowing that, in spite of Ken's assurances to the contrary, Jason was sure to win the men's portion of the race. They wanted to document the moment he crossed the finish line and get pictures of him with his second trophy. Once the women found their seats, Jason and Kathleen pulled off their sweats and stuffed them into backpacks. Lisa and Cecilia accompanied their naked companions to the field and posed for a couple of pictures. The two women then returned to their seats, leaving their friends to stretch and get ready for the run.
Jason and Kathleen joined the mass of bare bodies clustered on the track and calmly set out with the others once the starter pistol went off. The two seasoned runners paced themselves and began passing burned-out competitors who had started out too fast. Jason then sprinted ahead of Kathleen, passed a couple more male runners, and spent the final two miles of the route in the lead. Less than an hour after leaving the stadium he was the first runner back in, nearly fifty yards ahead of his closest competitor. This year there was no contest. From its beginning to the end, the race belonged to Jason Schmidt. He crossed the finish line and hugged Cecilia. A few moments later Kathleen crossed the finish line and got a big hug from Lisa. For the sixth year in a row she would claim the women's trophy for the Four-Beta Sorority.
Once the other runners passed the finish line Jason took his trophy and posed for pictures. His triumphant return to the Tri-Alpha race would revive his role as a spokesman for college naturism and his notoriety among young nudists throughout the U.S. Over the next year he would give several interviews and numerous speeches around the country as he pursued his cause and fulfilled his Path in Life.
Lisa, meanwhile, approached Ken to let him know that he was due for an extra special punishment that night. How dare he embarrass her like that, failing to have one of his runners win the race for his fraternity. Of course, upon hearing her words Ken's penis stiffened under his pants. Yes, he was indeed a bad boy and there was only one way to handle a bad boy. He had failed, and only Lisa knew how to remedy that, with plenty of painful imagination.
Once the excitement from the race ended and Jason had given his last interview and posed for his final picture, he got dressed and cleaned up, and then invited Cecilia out to dinner. They returned to her apartment to take advantage of the fact that Pedro was spending the night at a friend's place. They hugged each other for a few minutes, and then Cecilia proceeded to undress Jason. Once his clothes were off he undressed her and they hugged again, enjoying the feeling of each other's bodies without the barrier of clothing.
A lot had changed in the lives of the young couple and many more changes were on the way. However, there were a few important things between them that had not changed at all. As she embraced him, Cecilia began patting Jason's bottom, letting him know that in a moment he needed to go over her lap. She gave him one last kiss, but then sat down on the sofa and reached up to take his hand. She gave him a loving look with her dark eyes and her usual sarcastic smile. As always, his penis stiffened with anticipation of what was coming. Dutifully he settled comfortably over her thighs and surrendered his bottom to the woman he loved.