Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 46
Leonard swallowed his mouthful of gojai and took a prolonged sip from his own mug, as much to give himself time to consider his answer as to draw strength from the rejuvenating brew. The flavors refreshed his tongue and his spirit, but it was no help in supplying words or the thoughts to form them.
If someone had asked him that question last night or before he’d come to Krosis, he would have had a more ready answer. Leonard would never have claimed to have become Wilhelmina’s confidant in the short time they’d known each other, but he had expected, and believed, there to be a certain level of trust and understanding between them; but the room that doubt had made for itself in Leonard’s chest seemed to expand as it had furnished him with its reasons.
Then there was all that Leonard had learned about his father over the past day or so, and the gaping chasm between it and what he’d believed to know and be true about him. He wasn’t sure how well he knew anyone anymore.
He mentally shook himself from doubts and redirected his attention to what he could do, be more discerning. His wonder had made him more willing to believe the first person to sound like they had answers. Now that he knew that there was even more to this picture than previously thought, he could adjust accordingly. Or at least do his best to.
Finally Leonard lowered the mug from his lips and swallowed, hoping that the right words would come to him.
“Well, that’s a difficult question to answer,” Leonard replied, slowly tasting the words along with the tea.
“How do you mean?” Osric asked. He replaced his own tea on the tray and let his palms rest on his thighs, an amused tilt to his mouth, but interest evident in the in crinkle around his eyes, the shadow of a narrowed brow.
“Well, for one thing, who is to say how well I thought I knew Wilhelmina corresponded with how well she believed I knew her. Or if what I considered to be knowing someone well corresponded with what you considered to be knowing someone well. Perspective and all.” Leonard knew he was being evasive, possibly even difficult. He couldn’t entirely explain why, but he wanted to see how Osric would react.
Osric’s smile was more like a grimace as he said, “You’re either dodging the question or stalling. In either case, I’d like to know why.”
“You might say some of both and a little of neither. But I think an equally important question would be, how well would you say you know your sister? Perhaps just as importantly, though, is, what is it you want from me?” Leonard channeled all of his energy into holding Osric’s stare, refusing to blink or look away, waiting for the other man to speak first.
At long last, Osric’s stoic face cracked into the boyish grin Leonard had grown familiar with earlier. Then Osric smacked his knee and laughed. “Straight to the heart of the matter. I like that, Leonard. I appreciate a straightforward man.” Osric’s tone was conspiratorial and he leaned in closer to Leonard as he spoke.
“I’ll be honest, Leonard, I wish I knew my sisters better. I know them only enough to imagine the things they’re capable of, but their motives are another story. Even though Etta has spent more time on Krosis, I didn’t get to know her much. She spent her time mostly on Krosis at another base and”-
“Wait…” Leonard held up his hands, flailing them in the air to stave off the words he wouldn’t catch after hearing the words ‘another base.’ He thought fleetingly of Jerra’s note. He licked his lips with a suddenly-too-dry tongue as he processed this surprising information.
“You mean, you know that Etta has another base on Krosis? Do you know where it is? Is she there right now?” Leonard was unable to control his questions, so they fired from his mouth at will until he needed to pause for breath, and Osric could respond.
“Woah, woah, there, slow down,” Osric held up his own hands, moving them in a slow downward motion, the internationally recognized signal for ‘calm down’ or ‘easy there.’ Leonard clutched at his cup of tea and busied himself with another sip, his eyes searching Osric’s face as he waited for him to continue.
Play stay tuned for Part 48!