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Getting To Know Your Shipmates

Posted on 25 Apr 2022 @ 1:15am by Lieutenant Ronnie Broward & Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kemo Paahao & Kaitlin Broward

Episode: Our Path
Location: The Bangor Plaza Ballroom
Timeline: January 4, 2025, 2000 hrs

Ronnie retook his seat once the captain had excused himself to continue mingling with the rest of the crew. He took a sip of his drink as he looked over at Kaitlin talking with Kemo's wife. He smiled as he watched her talking before she looked back at him with a wink. "I really hope that whatever she has been telling you while I was gone was not too extreme," he said with a sarcastic roll of his eyes.

Kaitlin grinned broadly, eyes sparkling. "Oh, we were just comparing notes on how we met each of you," she said with a grin. "You know... how it is that each of us ended up agreeing to the Navy thing." She winked again. She'd known since the beginning what she was signing up for, but there were times where she liked to joke that he had blinded her with his sexy smile and hard abs.

Kemo shifted each of the three year twins taking up residence on one of his knees, bouncing them slightly to keep their concentration on him while their balance. Both Makaio and Natty had the idea that if their attention diverted too far away, the horsey would take off. Makaio's brown eyes locked on Ronnie for a few seconds and the Warrant Officer shifted the leg under his son. The tow headed boy giggled and clutched for his father's wrist. Kemo was also holding each child by the front of their matching bib overalls.

"I'm just making sure Tricia keeps the real wild parts out of it," Kemo stated. "Otherwise, I'm just minding my zoo." He crossed his eyes then at Nattie and she laughed.

Tricia sipped at the umbrella drink she had in hand and watched her bouncing babies (hopefully) getting tired out by their father's attention. "Oh, we haven't gotten to the good parts of Gibraltar yet," she smiled as her eyes tracked back to Kaitlin's. Horse boy over there tried about three pickup lines before I'd even dance with him. Tried to convince me his nickname was The Rock. I thought he was trying to pretend to be Dwayne Johnson, the actor. He claimed he was the famous tourist attraction and if I felt like climbing, it was his duty to comply."

Kaitlin's laugh was all surprise, eyes widening as she looked to Ronnie. "I don't think you ever tried anything quite so... direct... with me. Too much of a Texas gentleman, this one," she said nodding her head toward her husband though her eyes gleamed with adoration. "Not that he hasn't tried some pretty cheesy lines since."

"I figure I could save the cheesy lines until I had her trapped in marriage. Now she is stuck and has to endure all the missed opportunities I'm making up for now," Ronnie replied before looking back at his wife with a goofy grin. "Trust me, my father gave me all of his material to reuse," he said before looking over at Kemo and mock sizing him up, "And The Rock seems to be a good comparison. How is that cheesy?"

Kaitlin fixed him with a look, eyebrows raised. "I don't know that it was the name that was cheesy so much as the suggestion she climb him. Though... I can think of more than one occasion where you have suggested something similar." Her grin broadened and she winked at him. The appetites of folks in the military who spent large swathes of time away from their significant others wasn't exactly a secret.

Kemo grinned and said, "Seeing the girl of your dreams in a semi-exotic port of call with about eighteen hours left on leave suggests you be bold," the Warrant said, giving Tricia a wink. "She was there on a Spring Break run through the Med. I knew if I didn't make an impression, there was no way I'd stick out enough to get her number. Much less hope she'd pick up the next time the New Hampshire made port."

Tricia eyed her husband, asking "What phone calls?" Then smiled at Kaitlin and Ronnie. "When I was back in my routine, flowers started showing up at my dorm room every week or ten days. And post cards from different locations. Signed Kemo the Rock. Horrible attempt at a nick name but I did remember him. The phone calls started happening about six months later, though the flowers tapered off."

"That," Kemo replied in his own defense, "Is because I was an E5 getting ready for a shore tour. They stare pretty hard at your financials when they're doing security clearances.

"Anyway," Tricia said, giving her hair a toss. "We met again, face to face at my graduation. He just showed up. In his dress uniform. I'll say this for him. He knows how to make an impression. He was being reassigned to Great Lakes, he tells me and said now would be the best first chance for him to meet my parents. My mother loved him. My dad thought he was a bit creepy."

Kaitlin giggled. "My mother implied that Ronnie and I were getting busy in his truck the first time he met my parents. My dad is Army so the real test was his handshake. He passed, but that might have been the single most mortifying conversation I had ever had with my mother." She looked back at Ronnie again, expression soft and nostalgic. "Gosh, we were babies then."

She turned back to Tricia. "That's a pretty amazing story to be able to share with your littles someday," she said. "The tale of how their father suavely swept you off your feet." She grinned. "You can start with the climbing comment just to gross them out when they're old enough to understand."

"I would just like to point out for the record that Kaitlin here was the one who made that first move at her parents," Ronnie said looking back over at her and winking. He then turned back to Tricia and Kemo, "We first met being late to the same class together, and being the gentleman I am, I gave up my seat in the lecture hall for her. I never would've guessed that would lead us to now, but I like to think that the choice of restaurant I picked one our first date sealed the deal." He laughed as he felt Kaitlin playfully slap his arm as he retold the story.

"Nothing wrong," Tricia replied to Kaitlin, "With taking a new model for a test drive. My grandmother always told me it was better to make sure that part of a relationship met expectations before you go to all the trouble of housebreaking them." As she said the last, she turned her gaze speculatively. Then she grinned and looked back at Ronnie appraisingly as she commented to Kaitlin, "Seems you got lucky and he was house broken already. Nice that you two could spend those years together too."

Kemo continued to multi-task, distracting the twins and glanced at the chair next to his and his eldest daughters coloring, before he turned back and asked, "How do you two handle picking restaurants? In my single years, I wouldn't have dreamed one of the most difficult things would be deciding where to eat, when we go out."

Ronnie looked over at Kaitlin with an amused expression as he waited to see her response to Tricia. He always enjoyed seeing her show him off to others, but he knew that she would be treading carefully. Looking back over to Kemo, he gave him a slight smile, "Well, so far all she's never complained with my suggestions. That just means we go to a lot of steakhouses."

Kaitlin's cheeks flushed slightly at Tricia's comment, but she was grinning as they did. "There was plenty of test driving," she commented, eyes gleaming with trouble as she eyed Ronnie, "just not on that particular occasion." She shook her head. "His mama gets all the credit for handing him over house broken. Lovely woman. Her boys would do just about anything she asked of them and rightly so."

Smiling, Tricia replied. "It's amazing either of us are as well adjusted as we are. For me it was mainly all girls boarding schools and an all woman's college. I'll admit when I went on that year abroad was on a bit of tear. Kemo was at the orphanarium as he calls it for most of his adolescence through high school. I think we were both lucky in finding people that would ground us. And, even though we're so different in our upbringing, we tend to balance each other there. Especially in raising the clones." She giggled a bit and shook her head, "Kemo's started building Storm Trooper armor for Lizzy now."

Glancing toward her eldest, who was concentrating on her drawing, she leaned close and said quietly. "He's got it all bundled up and pieces will ship every few weeks and months while he's gone. The bigger pieces arriving for her birthday. Not sure if she's as into as he is....."

Kemo caught his son looking at him, a big laugh lighting up Mataio's face as he said, "Poop poop, daddy."

Sighing in mock exasperation, he carefully stood and handed off Natty to Tricia. "Matty ," he told Tricia in a mock stuffy english voice, "Has expressed a desire to visit the water closet, mad'am." Setting the boy on his feet, he picked up a bag and the two set off, with Kemo asking, "Ok. Is this one going to frighten me again?"

"Noooo," Mataio told him, "But maybe."

Ronnie watched Kemo head off towards the restrooms with his son before looking back to Tricia, "You'll have to tell us your secret on how you handle your young ones. Kaitlin and I hope to have some of our own someday, but we are waiting for the right time." He looked over to his wife and smiled remembering the conversations they had had before about this very subject.

"They pretty much teach you," Tricia admitted. "The first one the most, of course. And that''s the one you stew over the most. My grandmother's a godsend with Kemo being at sea now, and I'm really glad he was on shore duty when Lizzy was born and could be around. As to minding the herd with him gone...that's hard. Especially with them being little and me being in DC. Biggest suggestion I can hand down is don't wait. We did for a couple of years and now I want another."

Lizzy's head came up at that and she said, "More mama?"

"Yes, but it's only a little dream, Lizzy," Tricia said. "Don't scare your father by telling him."

"Okay. But I think we need to vote on something like that," Lizzy responded, going back to her coloring.

"Okay," Tricia parroted, chuckling. "I'll send the suggestion to committee."

Glancing back at Kaitlin, she shrugged and a wicked smile touched her lips. "The committee has been working at that, actually. I probably should mention it to Kemo at some point."

Ronnie watched the exchange between Tricia and Lizzy before glancing over at Kaitlin with a wink. "Looks like you both have done a fine job," he said looking over at Kaitlin, "I have plenty of dad jokes that I just keep adding to."

Kaitlin's eyes had widened at Tricia's comment regarding the committee and a quick surprised chuckle escaped her. She glanced back to Ronnie, catching his wink just in time.

"Oh lord, don't let him get started. He'll go all night if you let him," she said rolling her eyes in an exaggerated fashion though they were clearly amused. She looked him over, nibbling her lip for a second.

Tricia's glinted in mischief as she cast a glance towards Ronnie, then looked back at Kaitlin. "All night, you say? You go girl!" she said with a wicked tinge in her voice.

Kaitlin had the wherewithal to meet Tricia's mischief with suggestively popped eyebrows though her cheeks flushed pink all the same. "I mean, they do keep 'em in shape in the Navy... might as well benefit..." She said, glancing sidelong at Tricia before giving Ronnie and exaggerated and appreciative once over.

Tricia gave Ronnie an appraising look herself and then giggled and sipped at her drink. "And when you can catch them in their Dress sailor suits..."She let that hang for a few ticks, then changed the subject. "So Kaitlin, what keeps you busy when Ronnie isn't chasing you around?"

Kaitlin had groaned in appreciative agreement at Tricia's comment about the dress uniforms. Now, though, her demeanor changed slightly to something a little more business like. "Before we moved here I was working for a land management company focused on renewable natural resources and ensuring that environmental requirements were being met for properties purchased for development." She shrugged slightly then. "Still figuring out what I'll be doing here. I've had a couple promising leads, but nothing final yet."

Nodding, Tricia fended off fingers from Natalie and tried setting her down on the floor with one of her toys, replied "Work life is hard...I'm grateful the State Department has offices everywhere. It hasn't been too hard to get placed near Kemo, most of th time. This time however, we ended up across the country. Luckily, there have been enough TDY's and schools where we both could travel back and forth and see each other every couple of months. And we have family out there so....we....I'm hoping his next shore deployment will be at the Naval Yard or maybe Annapolis, if he gets his teaching certificates finished.."

Ronnie had tried not to blush between Kaitlin and Tricia as he sipped his drink and kept glancing around, hoping to be saved by the return of Kemo. At the talk about work life he looked up at Tricia before looking back over at Kaitlin, "I keep suggesting she should look into the National Park Service, Olympic National Forrest being so close and all, but she has this thing about the hats they wear," he said bringing up the conversation they had had previously. Kaitlin had been adamant that she would not be caught dead in a "Smokey the Bear" hat.

Kaitlin shot him a mirthful warning look before turning back to Tricia. "I haven't ruled it out yet, but it's not exactly the same work," she clarified before turning back to Tricia's explanation about her own work. "I can't imagine needing to be separated like you two are right now. If you ever need an sympathetic ear..." She pulled out her phone thumbing open the contacts to enter a new one, "... give me a call?"

Tricia withdrew her own phone, captured photos of both Kaitlin and Ronnie and then entered in the contact information and smiled at Kaitlin. "The separations are hard," Tricia said as she glanced at the two of them again and smiled, "You two will find your way. It's different for all of us. The one thing we have in common," she went on as her eyes met Kaitlin's again. "Is the experience. So you don't hesitate to call me if you need to talk."

Kemo came back, holding Mataeo above his head, the little boy holding his arms out, laughing as he air-planed his way back.

 

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