It's the morning of the 22nd. Leah, as usual, is up bright and early for her daily exercises. It's a routine she never breaks. Even during her time on Omega, Leah made sure to maintain her routine. Discipline was the foundation of her biotic training and not something she takes lightly. She would normally be doing this outside under the canopy at her makeshift gym, but it'll still be some months before the weather permits it. So for now, the
#Leah'sHouse – September 9, 2017
living room has become her gym. Dressed in a white t-shirt, a pair of blue shorts and matching long, warm socks, she's sprawled out on a mat doing her stretches.
Tara comes in from the kitchen, carrying a tray of breakfast. It has been common for her to continue this habit after coming to live in the house, aside from when Francois has beaten her to it. Her choice is far less sweet, however - sandwiches with greens and spacecow cheese, and glasses of lemon water. She sets the tray down on the coffee table, and then looks over at Leah, studying her routine curiously. She takes one of the
sandwiches and moves over to sit down on the floor near the mat, continuing to observe as she briefly struggles to take a bite of the chewy bread.
Leah climbs to her feet, offering Tara a quick smile before stepping into her next pose. She bends at the waist, reaching all the way down to effortlessly touch the floor with the palms of her hands. She holds her pose for a number of seconds, taking long, deep breaths and exhaling. When she unfolds, she blows at a loose strand of hair hanging in her face. She gives a quick glance towards the kitchen and listens to the silence to
ensure her father hasn't yet woken up. His sleeping, unlike Leah's, is quite sporadic. He operates on a timer decided by the shows aired that day. Today, it seems, there's nothing on TV that warrants him getting out of bed yet. "Hey." she greets as she steps away from the mat and takes a seat at the edge of the couch. "Feeling up for a chat?" she asks before tentatively adding, "...Umm... About what we were talking about last
Tara stands back up, following Leah back to the couch. She places her half-eaten sandwich back on the tray and turns her attention fully to her, waiting silently.
Leah shrugs her shoulders, clearly not too comfortable about having to breach the subject at all. But it has to be done. "House Bar'adon." she begins, making sure to keep her voice low. It's not like her father hasn't accepted she lives a dangerous life, but it's just become second nature for her to try and shield him as best as she can from the details of that life. She rests her hands in her lap as she studies Tara. "What can
Tara lowers her gaze as she considers her answer. When she does speak it is clear from her tone she is not entirely comfortable. "Bar'adon is a powerful house. They own many factories and plantations. They have high standing."
Leah gives a deep frown upon hearing this. "And who is Fasha...?" she asks, her tone apologetic for even mentioning the name, as if worried it may cause further discomfort for Tara. "...I saw the name on the bounty." she explains.
Tara tenses up subtly, her gaze remaining low. She offers no immediate response, wringing her hands in her lap as a troubled expression comes over her. The silence continues as she stares distantly down.
Leah leans forward and reaches out, placing a hand over Tara's and giving them a pat. "It's okay. Take your time. I know this can't be easy for you but-..." her shoulders rise and fall in a subtle shrug as she sucks in a deep breath, "...Fasha can't hurt you, Tara. Not anymore. Not ever again, okay? I won't let that happen. But anything useful you can tell me about Fasha and House Bar'adon is one step closer to making sure they
Tara 's gaze trails from Leah's hand, up her arm to her face, and stares at her with a held-back dread shining through in her eyes. Eventually she nods faintly, looking down once more. "He... did not want me sold." she says, her voice little more than a whisper. "But... he was heir, not Lord. It... was not his choice. Now... you have killed my master. His... father."
Leah gives a slow nod, patting Tara's hand one last time before bringing her hand to rest in her own lap once more. "The asshole back on Omega." she says before adding: "Grothesh." another name she committed to memory from the documentation. "So the-... Lord of House Bar'adon conducts business personally...?" she asks, "Is that normal?"
Leah gives a few silent nods, lowering her gaze to the floor. "It's going to make things difficult if I don't have a way to get Fasha out here. I was hoping I could just contact him for a meeting... I guess that's not likely if they're as powerful as you say they are, huh?" she asks with another sigh. It's more of a note to herself than a question that demands answering. She runs her fingers through her hair, brushing a loose
Leah strand back behind her ear before forcing a small smile back into place for Tara's sake as she looks back to the young girl. "Just means we have to approach this from another angle." She leans forward once more, resting her forearms on her knees, "What about Fasha's home? Trying to get him to come to me might be out of the picture, but maybe I can go to him."
Tara 's frown only deepens as she listens to Leah. She doesn't say anything, but it's obvious that a multitude of thoughts are swirling in her head.
Leah remains patient, no intention of forcing information from Tara. However long it takes, it takes. "Whatever you think might be helpful, Tara. The more intel we have, the more options we have."
Tara shakes her head faintly. "I... don't know the way." she says, clearly not pleased to fail Leah judging by her uncomfortable expression.
Leah tries not to let her frustration show through. It's not directed at Tara anyway. Just the situation. "That's okay, sweetie." she assures, "Just whatever you can remember. Do they have a lot of guards...? Are their guards armed...? Security...?" she begins to list, hoping to trigger something- anything- that might help jog something useful. "How does he live? Any sort of routine? Daily activities?"
Tara furrows her eyebrows, an uneasy look on her face. She silently pulls her legs into the couch, giving a shake of her head before her face is buried against her knees. She's soon completely curled up, hugging her own legs. It's unusual for her to shut down in a such a way rather than doing whatever she can to obey.
Leah drops her line of questioning instantly and scoots closer to Tara, putting an arm around her. "It's okay, sweetheart." she says, her smile fading away entirely. She tilts her head to the side, pressing it against Tara's in an attempt at calming her. Seeing Tara's reaction pushes her through a range of emotions. Sad that Tara has had such a life. Frustrated that she can't just kick in the door to House Bar'adon right this
Leah moment and put an end to their entire operation. But more than anything, angry. But her anger only further cements the fact that she's not going to stop until she has forcefully taken Tara's life back from these monsters. "I can't even imagine what they've put you through..." she says softly, "But I'm always here if you need to talk, Tara."
Tara doesn't answer, remaining curled up into a small, scar-covered ball in the couch. There are no tears, just silence, and eventually her tense muscles relax, and she allows herself to lean just slightly against Leah.
Leah brings her other hand across herself to rest on Tara's arm that's nearest to her as she holds her in a sidehug. She fights her instincts to keep talking, as she tends to do in response to- well, anything. This isn't a conversation she can force. And, despite her urge to drag Tara's former captives from their homes and execute them right in the street, any progress that is going to happen needs to happen at Tara's pace. So she
Tara remains like this, leaning against Leah in silence, her face hidden, for several minutes. Not a word or noise escapes her, until she rather speaks, abruptly and barely audibly, her face only slightly lifted from her knees. "He... would come." she says, with no explanation offered.
Leah keeps her silence as Tara speaks. Her only response is the deep breath she draws in through her nose. She gives Tara another squeeze for support, well aware that this isn't going anywhere good. But the last thing Tara needs is someone else silencing her. So regardless of how sure Leah is that she doesn't want to know where this is going, she's committed to being a shoulder for Tara to lean on. No matter what that entails.
Tara keeps her head just off her legs, staring at the details of the folds in the fabric of her pants that have formed at her bent knees. She doesn't continue immediately, but as it becomes clear that Leah is saying nothing she summons the strength to speak again. "He... favored me." The words are softly spoken, but there is a quiet quiver to her voice, a faint shadow of the disgust hides away deep in her mind, that she does not
Leah bites down hard so hard that there's an audible noise and tears begin to run down her cheeks without warning. It's not hard to decipher the implications given the context. Her nostrils flare as she sucks in another deep breath and, for just a mere moment, a slight blue glow envelopes her. It's brief. Over in the blink of an eye. But to someone who has devoted their entire life to an almost monk-like level of discipline as
Leah Leah has, the unintentional outburst is more than enough to scare her. "He will not get away with what he has done to you, Tara." she says, her own voice barely more than a whisper. Despite the volume, however, her words are harsh. Uncharacteristically so. Spoken through clenched teeth. "I promise you."
Tara flinches slightly at the brief sensation of static between them as Leah's biotics flare up, but it's a short-lived reaction. She's far to deep in her own head to really notice. She has nothing to say in response to Leah's words. It's hard to tell if she even heard them. She allows her face to rest again against her knees, staring at the small openings amid the folds of her pants where the room beyond can be seen, little more
Leah brings her own legs onto the couch, huddling up against Tara and wrapping her up in a complete hug as the tears continue to run down her cheeks. She stares at a small spot on the coffee table, slightly faded from cups being places without coasters, with her head rested against Tara's. For once, silence is all she can manage.
Tara has nothing to say in response to Leah's words of muted anger. There is no sign of such emotion in her own face as she lifts her head, allowing her legs shift sideways, folding them next to herself and leaning more heavily against Leah, cuddling up against her as she searches for what little sense of safety there exists for her to find.
Leah seems content to just remain right where she is and, for a number of minutes, continues to simply silently exist at Tara's side. But if there's one thing Leah is good at, it's pushing forward. Eventually she loosens her grip on Tara and wipes at her own eyes with the back of her hand. "This will all be over soon, Tara." she says softly. She's doing her best to put as positive of a spin on the situation as she can, but she's
struggling."Okay? And then there will be nobody to come for you." She reaches over, gently brushing a thumb across the markings on Tara's head. "And then we get rid of these. Because they have no place here anymore. Okay?"
Tara closes her eyes as the silence continues, finding comfort in listening to Leah's breathing. When she finally hears her speak her eyes open with a few slow blinks, her attention turning back to the here and now. Her face twitches slightly as Leah's thumb runs across the scar-tissue of her forehead markings. She offers a small but sincere nod. "Okay." she says, sounding almost more like an exhale than a spoken word.
Leah forces a small smile and gently run her thumb over the markings a few more times, silently wishing that was enough to wipe it all away. Unfortunately nothing is so easy. This is something she's going to have to fight for. But it's a cause worth fighting for. She traces the scar tissue with the tip of her thumb one last time and brings her hand back to her side. "Okay." she repeats with a single, stern nod.