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Honest Obligation

Posted on 18 Sep 2022 @ 11:14pm by Ensign Leonie Tate

Episode: E1: A Historic Voyage
Location: Burnet's Corner/Groton, Connecticutt
Timeline: Date 2025-05-02 at 1000

The restaurant was a study in old-school elegance and Barry, dressed in suit that fell just shy of a designer label, seemed at home there. Leonie wondered, as she entered and spoke to the host, how he found these places, but he always did. No matter where she was, he tracked her down and summoned her to one of these meetings. Not that he was actually doing the summoning, of course. He worked for her parents, the A-Lister power couple, Truman Tate and Andromeda Chase, and when he suggested a meeting, it was understood that the summons came from them.

And because this happened with irritating frequency, Leonie always kept a couple of suitable outfits in her closet. Designer labels from head to toe, tailored for her lean frame, and chosen specifically so that she wouldn't stand out. Business boring she called it. Blending in, looking well-dressed but a tad boring, was a good tactic for someone forced to learn the ways of the chameleon. As a child, there had always been a camera trained on her just as there had always been articles that dissected what she wore, how she walked, what she did. She loathed them one and all.

Of course, reporters and paparazzi rarely followed Barry and he employed drivers who were good at losing tails which meant that these meetings were largely uneventful. Except, of course, when her parents were entertaining the public with one of their all-too-public feuds. Her mother, who supported causes based on their hashtag, lived for the spotlight (any spotlight) and her father, well, he gave as good as he got. When they were fighting, the paparazzi turned into sharks. Titanic clashes followed by fairytale reunions. Everyone loved it. Well, almost everyone.

Barry had left her name with the host, and she was escorted to his table. She slid into the seat opposite him and set her purse down on one of the empty chairs. She didn't smile but then neither did Barry. This was business and because her parents were the biggest clients his firm handled, had in fact made him millions over the years, Barry handled it all personally. For him, it was what he did to keep his clients happy; for her, he was the most consistent source of contact she had with her parents. And for both of them, there was a mutual understanding that him not knowing would be bad for both of them.

The waitress showed up with two cups of coffee. Cappuccino for her, espresso for him. Barry was good with things like that. He remembered favorite drinks and meal preferences. His clients found that sort of thing flattering; Leonie thought it a bit 'stalkerish'.

"Everything on track," he asked, studying her over the tops of his wire-rimmed reading glasses. "I need to finalize details on the apartment."

"My assignment has changed," Leonie answered. She lifted the cup to her lips, blowing softly across the surface, and took a sip and then another. Childish really, to keep him waiting, but she had long ago mastered the art of little victories. She waited until she had set the cup down to continue. "Naval Station Kitsap in Bangor," she said quietly and, seeing his pen pause over the small tablet on which he kept notes, added helpfully, "that's in Washington ... state."

"We'll start looking for something suitable," Barry said as he continued to write. He pursed his lips, his pen hovering over the page. "I assume the conditions haven't changed?"

"No," Leonie answered. She kept her hands folded in her lap, out of sight of the patrons in the restaurant, out of Barry's line of sight, so that no one there could see the tightness of her grip. "They have not. I have deferred regarding security on the off-chance my parents might stop by for a visit but no more than two bedrooms."

"Emille ..."

Leonie's eyes narrowed. Andromeda and Truman (mostly Andromeda) had fought with her, in a series of long-distance calls, that had become increasingly more dramatic and lengthier, until Leonie had strategically caved ... with provisions. "Also as agreed. He knows my preferences and if it's not something I like, you'll find it all sitting out at the curb." The looming specter of her first year out of the Academy hovered unspoken in the air between them for a moment before Barry reluctantly nodded.

"Your mother also wishes to hire a cleaning service since its possible she might want to use the place even when you aren't there," Barry said.

This, at least, Leonie understood. The spotlight, media attention, could be brutal and having a place to retire to, one that wasn't so well known, was useful. Having her mother (and her retinue) camped out in her home was something to be endured rather than enjoyed but mercifully, the visits seldom lasted long. It was only after the final kiss good-bye and the rush of last-minute details, after the door closed and quiet returned to her home, that she felt she could breathe again.

Leonie liked being on her own. As shocking as it had been for her parents, it had been doubly so for those that had expected her to follow in her parents' footsteps. Her years at Tabor had given her insight into her own nature. While the other students cried and called home, missing family and friends, she had felt ... liberated. And it was there that she started learning and growing as an individual. It was there that she had met her paternal grandfather and the combination, well, it had changed her life. By the time she graduated, Leonie understood that she was someone who wanted to do things that mattered without having the press report on every minor detail of her person and her life.

"One thing missing, one word about my house or my life in any media outlet," Leonie said at once, "or I have to move because those jackals found me again, and the deal is off. Permanently."

"Your mother won't like that," Barry said with a tired sigh. "This is the only arrangement that provides you both with time together ..."

Leonie chuckled, a dry, cynical laugh that contained no mirth but a wealth of disappointments and empty promises, as she picked up her coffee cup. She took several long sips while she waited for him to finish his notetaking and look up again.

"There are services that will guarantee their employees. We'll find someone trustworthy."

"Good. I'll call you when I get to Kitsap and you can give me the details then," Leonie said. "I've got things to do today, Barry, so if there's nothing else?"

"That's it. Well, and this." He pulled a letter out of his inner jacket pocket and passed it across the table. Lavender with her name written in a flashy scrawl across the outside.

"Thank you," Leonie said. She took the letter, folded it in half, and tucked it into her purse. Barry was already scrolling through his phone, readying to make a call, as she rose from her seat. She didn't bother with good-bye. To Barry, she was an obligation discharged and she was fine with that. It was honest at least. She walked out of the restaurant without a backward glance and breathed a sigh of relief once she was back out on the street.

The Arizona couldn't arrive soon enough to suit her.

 

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