Lesly swirled the glass in her hand.
Why did she stay with them that night so long ago? They were all so different, no one would be concerned or shocked if she had just left then and cut ties. But she didn’t.
And she’s not entirely sure why.
Barry walked into the bar surrounded by noise. People wearing finer linen cheering as a projector displayed their favorite sports team winning.
Some rowdy patrons who look like they could barely afford to be there. Dora Peeps and large party of other security officers talking and laughing and drinking.
He made eye contact with her and they exchanged a brief smile.
He looked across the room, spotting various couples, here on possible dates and romantic excursions to distract themselves from their lives.
And then he saw the hunched, broad shoulders of a somewhat slothful woman.
Her shoulders perked up, as a smile smoothly slides across her face. She turned her body around only to find herself in the arms of Barry.
Reciprocating the hug, in a low tone of voice, that was just barely audible in the hurricane of voices and movement and music, she whispered “Congratulations, Barry,” in his ear.
Her voice, so silky and dark. Barry had to gather himself quickly after her praise had sent shivers up his spine.
Hearing any warm words coming from his long-time best friend filled him with a fire that he couldn’t control. He was ready to take on the world. No matter the danger, he was willing to face it.
No matter the cost, he was willing to pay it. No matter the hours and hours of work, or the mind-numbingly long meetings with higher-ups, he could do it all with a goddamn smile on his face.
As long as he could come back to her. The thought of her could make him fly. His best friend. His one and only, truest, best friend.
Lesly broke away from the hug first.
“So how’s everything been?” Barry asked.
“Y’know …it’s been alright”. Lesly took a small sip of her drink, calculating the number of sips she had left before inebriation.
“…It’s been awhile …since we’ve had a chance to just sit and talk like this”.
Barry chuckled. “Yeah, it’s been too long”. For what seemed like months, Barry was tasked to a case that put him into overtime daily. His days at their office began dwindling over time.
When he used to be there from dawn until dusk, became every other day, then once a week. At least now he’d be in there every day again. His case was resolved and he was promoted for it.
Now he’d oversee all the cases within the southwest part of the factory and university districts.
Everybody knew Barry had potential, but not even Lesly, to her dismay, thought he’d be moving up the ladder this fast.
There was a long pause of silence, as they tried to think of something to say to the other. Lesly wasn’t great with words, not like Barry. Barry always knew what to say at the right moment.
He could make even the most boring ungainly cynics like her smile. Barry’s eagerness and optimism is what kept her out of trouble when they were younger.
His desire to always do the right thing, even when it made no sense to anyone around him.
His belief in things he had just read about in class, not because he knew they were right, but because he knew it was right for others. He didn’t simply want to elevate himself.
He wanted to elevate others. He wanted everyone around him to be happy. That was why Lesly joined the ICCD. Because Barry believed in the world, and she believed in Barry.
She’d follow him anywhere.
Lesly is the first to break the silent starting. She reached in her silver clutch purse, and pulled out a book. A romance novel she had found in an old bookstore while she was on patrol.
It looked cheap and heavily used. But when she handed it Barry, it turned to gold in his hands.
“Congratulations on the promotion,” Lesly said with a soft, honest smile that Barry had grown to love.
Barry’s smile was enough to resolve any of Lesly’s doubts about the gift. Without him even saying anything, she knew that she had done right by him.
Just as he does every day, whenever he calls her, their small conversations before he gets dragged off, and little gifts he leaves her. A cup of coffee, a bag of candy.
It was never anything big, but it was always huge for Lesly, who felt she had so little.
“Thanks, Lesly,” Barry beamed with his big toothy Cheshire smile. Lesly couldn’t help but chuckle a little at how happy her gift made him.
While Lesly and Barry shared their gratitude, Lesly made brief eye contact with Dora Peeps, who was now making her way through the now crowded bar. Lesly’s smile turned into a smirk.
“Looks like someone else wants to congratulate you,” she said, motioning to Dora. Barry looked down and sighed.
“Join us,” he said, breaking away from his moment of thought. “It’ll be fine. Everybody’s too drunk to bother you.” He was grasping at straws at this point.
Trying to think of other way to convince Lesly that she’ll have fun in a crowd of people who’ll ignore her at best, and start throwing insults or things at her at worst.
He knew she didn’t want to go, but he wanted her to come. He wanted her to be with him that night. “If anyone tries anything with you, you know I’ll-“
Dora Peeps, in her tight red dress, wrapped her arms around Barry’s chest. Her golden hair hung off her shoulders, pressed between Barry’s back and her chest.
Her make-up, her clothes, her body, her soft siren voice as she said Barry’s name. She was a sight to behold. Lesly was starting to visibly withdraw from the setting.
Dora Peeps, one of the most accomplished, and beautiful, officers in this part of the city. She held the favor of many city managers and higher-ups, and she made sure everyone knew it.
She made special effort to rub her status in Lesly’s face every chance she got. They never cared for each other. It’s only gotten worse in recent years. But Lesly never paid her much attention.
Because she knew that’s what she really wanted.
“Barry, come join us. We’re about give you a toast,” she said, coiling her tongue with every word.
Her hands slithered down to Barry’s necktie, and she tugged on it, pulling him away from Lesly. Barry got up from his seat and followed, looking back at Lesly for confirmation.
She lifted her drink to him and smiled. He turned back, and like most things she did, he knew that it was half-hearted.
Dora dropped Barry off in the center of a large circle of people, sitting, lounging, standing, waiting for his arrival.
She grabbed a drink off a table and circled back to the center by Barry. She tapped her glass a couple times to gather everyone’s eyes. Lesly watched from a distance.
“Well the star has finally arrived,” Dora said, getting the attention of everyone at the bar by this point. Now Lesly was annoyed.
“Now, I’ve known Barry for a long time…”
'Known ‘of’ Barry. She only started really talking to him in the last couple of months'
“…but I knew, that he’d be going places.”
'Oh god. She’s turning his promotion into a platform for her.' Lesly pinched the bridge of her nose. All she had to do was stick it out for a few more minutes and she could leave.
She gave Barry his gift, talked to him for a bit, and when she toasts to him, she could run out and continue drinking at home.
It was hard enough to hear her inane ramblings about herself in the office, but to hear her talk about Barry in a way that connects his accomplishments to her?
Dora’s droning went on and on, only interrupted by the laughter of the crowd, until it finally started to wrap up. Just say it already.
“So on behalf of everyone at the office. I’d like to congratulate the new lead supervisor of the Second District Southwest Icarus City Control Department. Barry Foreman.
We’re all proud of you, and we’re here to support you.” Dora pulled Barry into her side, as she and the rest of the bar cried out: To Barry! The music started picking up again.
'Finally,' Lesly swirled the last bit of her drink in her glass and raised it up with the rest of people. She was tired and upset now.
She wanted to tell everyone that what they’re doing is bullshit. She wanted to tell everyone that Dora was bullshit.
She wanted to scream in their faces that this was all so ridiculous that they would even let Dora’s idiotic speech go on for so long, especially since it was mainly about her.
She wanted to tell off Dora the most, for taking the time to celebrate her friend’s accomplishments and defile it with her dribble. She was sick of these people. She was sick of the office.
She wanted smash it all. But she was too tired. And all that came out was a muttered “Cheers,” as she downed the last bit of her drink.