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Old Friend, New Friend

Posted on Thu Mar 8th, 2018 @ 8:16pm by Lieutenant Elodie Raintree

Mission: When Iconians Deserve to Die
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, Earth
Timeline: Current

They were lingering over the remains of breakfast. For Elle, that meant toast spread with mascarpone and topped with sliced strawberries, while for her long-time friend, Siobhan Reardan, that meant a two-egg omelet with broccoli and sharp cheddar, toast slathered in butter and bacon. To accommodate Siobhan's need to introduce her to new experiences, Elle had agreed to try bacon which meant that one piece, with just the tiniest bit eaten, now balanced precariously on the edge of her plate. A piece of crust formed a fence separating what Siobhan had called 'actual bacon' from the rest of her meal and it was to that makeshift barricade that Siobhan directed an amused look.

"That bad," she asked as she leaned back in her seat to accommodate Mama Cass, Siobhan's aging cat.

Elle offered an apologetic shrug. "Its just easier when such things are replicated. The idea that the .. pig? ... gave up its life so that I could eat? Call it the curse of empathy. I know what pain feels like," she said and her voice dropped, roughened, as she continued, "what death feels like."

Siobhan nodded and leaned forward to pluck the offending strip off of her friend's plate. "Sorry," she said. It wasn't perfunctory either. Elle could feel the compassion and regret pouring off of her friend. "I should have thought."

"Of course not," Elle said. "You were trying to do something nice ... if it helps any, the strawberries are wonderful."

Siobhan brightened considerably as Mama Cass bumped her head against Siobhan's unoccupied hands. Using her fingernails to stroke the top of the cat's head, Siobhan asked, "So ... what about Lionheart? Have you given the idea any thought?"

Elle, who sat cross-legged on the chair and still wore the loose-fitting drawstring pants and camisole top she had slept in, reached for her tea cup, drawing it in. She was huddled within the folds of an old afghan Siobhan kept on her sofa, savoring the warmth as she sipped on her tea, studying Siobhan over its rim while she considered her answer.

Siobhan held up a finger and said, "Wait. Where is Lionheart now?"

As if in answer to her question, A tiny black cat peeked out of the folds of the afghan and then settled back into Elle's lap with a contented purr.

"I know Lionheart is not the stuff that heroes are made from," Siobhan said, chuckling slightly because they both knew what a complete coward he was, "but you're the first person he's taken to since he was born and I can't keep him. I have an engineer friend who will make him the perfect hideout, with enough tech to protect him from anything ... literally anything."

Elle set her teacup down and slipped her hand into the folds of the blanket to stroke the top of Lionheart's head. He was entirely black, not a bit of white anywhere, which made him unusual as far as cats were concerned. It is true, she mused, that we have a connection. More often than not, I wake up with him sleep against my neck. "Anything," she asked. "Service on a ship can be ... difficult."

"Anything. Jack may be ambivalent when it comes to anything other than the ship he's on but he does love a challenge," Siobhan said. She broke off a tiny bit of bacon and fed it to Mama Cass as she continued. "He's got a medallion for his collar that will make sure he can be found. And his bed, completely covered of course because you know how Lionheart is if he can't hide at the first sign of strangers, has all the tech installed to protect Lionheart should the ship come under attack. Jack said it can even function as a miniature escape pod if need be. He'd be safe ... I made sure of that."

"Alright," Elle said after a moment. She could hear Lionheart's purrs, feel his contentment, and found herself smiling. "Alright. I'll take him."

"Excellent. Jack promised that as soon as the ship reaches Starbase 12, he'll get the last part he needs and send it all along. You should it have in plenty of time."

Elle didn't have to be Betazoid to read the smug look that crossed her friend's face. Sioban, already dressed for work, with riotous strawberry blonde curls that refused to be tamed, were a complete opposite to her own impossibly straight black hair. In some ways, they were complete opposites but they'd been friends since the Academy and somehow, they got along.

" Now, about that dinner tomorrow night ..." Siobhan leaned forward, her voice taking on a wheedling singsong tone as she added, "there will be dancing ..."

Elle sighed dramatically as she picked up her teacup. It was, as Siobhan had pointed out more than once and Elias before her, one of her tells. She thought of it more as a non-verbal signal that she needed a moment. Dinner and dancing did sound good. "Alright," Elle said, "but I draw the line at you picking out my clothes."

Siobhan laughed. "That's my girl," she said as she leaned over, setting Mama Cass on her feet, then stood up. "Though that black dress ..."

Elle threw her napkin at Siobhan who laughed and caught it deftly in one hand. "Gotta go or I'll be late for my shift." In a whirlwind of last minute activity, Siobhan made her departure and, mercifully, left Elle alone to finish her tea in peace. She pulled back a fold of the blanket and looked down at the sleeping kitten. "Well Lionheart," she said softly. "Its you and me now. You okay with that."

Lionheart stretched slightly and rolled over, exposing his belly, paws curled hear his head, and meowed softly.

Elle chuckled and stroked him, gently, as she whispered, "Ill take that as a yes. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get ready." She picked up Lionheart and rubbed his favorite spot along the jawline then set him down on the chair amid the folds of the afghan. The seminar was on Brainwashing Techniques in a Custodial Setting and focused not on incarceration but on familial custody battles with an emphasis on xenological and cultural issues. From a clinical perspective, she had seen in her practice how parents sought sometimes to brainwash a child or children to support their own position and in so doing, weaken the bond with the other parent. She was looking forward to gaining new insights and techniques she could use in treatment.

Humming softly to herself, she made her way back to the guest bedroom; Lionheart jumped down from his spot on the chair and followed, black tail sticking up straight in the air as he went. In the three weeks she'd been staying with Siobhan, this had become the pattern. She was his person. As long as a stranger didn't show up, he would be there.


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