It was unnerving to have heard the biggest news story from her own reporter - not as the one reporting the news - but as the one who was part of the news.
Ben’s reputation within Global Media Services was that he was taciturn, possibly inhuman with how little he cared for his stories - save one - and that was a very special one she now realized, and quick witted.
But now, there was another side to Ben Dahan that Fiona saw with new eyes. He was a man in a deep relationship that would completely change his life. Fiona thought that he might be strong enough to last through the circus that was to befall him before she remembered one lone detail from Ben late last year.
He’s the best sex of my life.
It was a crack in his armour, she was sure, but there were other ways to have her intuition confirmed.
She saw that Ben was talking to Roberto, probably for that informal chat that would turn into a larger story about Ben.
Ben. The Prince Regent’s boyfriend.
She still reeled at the discovery.
“Was there anything else that Ben said you could use?” she asked Roberto once he emailed his copy and walked in to talk a bit.
“No, you know him. Pretty no-nonsense.”
“Except that he’s been dating the Prince Regent and we were unaware.”
“I sort of knew. He had some dog hair on his pants one day. Maybe that line at Christmas, too.”
So she had missed something else. Fuck.
“You were talking for a while,” she tried again.
“Just to get the right tone. You know this isn’t my normal beat.” Roberto had a look down where it seemed like nothing would phase him in his situation. He might actually be a friend to Ben in all this. Perhaps she needed to do the same.
“And neither was Kenya and look where that got Ben.”
“Touche,” he said, “but I think that was a different situation than this. I did my best. Run it or don’t. It’s your call, boss.” Roberto turned and left her office, leaving Fiona to look at his copy and think about what she knew and what she did not know about Ben.
Over the weekend, Fiona looked at most of the coverage about the Prince Regent and Ben. Ben, well, he was the non-issue, but Fiona knew enough about the industry to know that soon enough someone would dig around Global Media, asking for Ben’s personnel file and trying to find out something about the man who might as well have been a real enigma for all the world knew.
Basically, that’s what Ben was.
Fiona arrived to the office at 5:30 Monday morning to a sea of paparazzis. Security gave her a look, as if she were the root cause but all she said was, “We’ll see how he does before we make any decisions.”
She had no faith that Ben could survive this level of insanity surrounding him.
Ben’s job - it turned out - could not survive the media attention he was getting. One day was all it took before his email was overloading the servers. It also turned out his calls to sources ended with more attempts to dig information about him than in the source talking about any article.
It was rather pointless for her purposes, but it did mean that Ben’s focus was about to change for her purpose.
As soon as Fiona switched Ben to fact checking for the foreseeable future, she focused on all of the new stories that had crept up about him in the week.
He was now semi-nude on all the tabloids and someone had talked about his life in Australia if that photo was anything.
She had more details, and she would not see her reporter plastered about for the world to see like that.
It just rubbed her the wrong way that the story was passing all of Global Media by.
It started slow, and it started small. It was just The Sun because she had known their editor for years.
Worrying was never her modus operandi, but she knew someone who worked there and who was just as callous as she was when it came to news.
Why not just spread some truth in between all the lies about Ben’s life? He was, she knew, more than just the man who the Prince Regent slept with. He was a respected journalist whose job was now a wreck because he let his personal life get in the way.
He had to have fallen for The Prince Regent in Kenya, and that meant that he had been a nearly worthless reporter ever since. Fiona valued and expected her staff to be focused on one thing and one thing only: the story.
Now Ben was the story. That was the whole problem.
Continuing to leak information about Ben’s life at Global Media became second nature, because he was ineffective, even if he attempted to follow all of her suggestions.
His piece from the movie junket was piss poor, but as soon as she saw the video footage, she knew he did his best.
It was just that his best was not good enough.
Fiona kept her thoughts on his work to herself, because Ben was dealing with more than enough shit without her ragging on his work, but it was clear that the office had now grown tired of all that extra work it took to get into the office and all the ways that Ben’s relationship had altered the whole office.
She was just about to say something when Ben walked in.
“There’s a leak,” he said, which she knew but feigned ignorance. She knew Ben was dogged, but given everything else, she only said the simplest answer to get him to leave.
If Ben had caught on to what was happening, how long until someone else put together the same pieces?
Her bosses had no clue that she had provided personal information about Ben to the tabloids.
Would they fire her, she thought, before she stalled it and focused on the tasks at hand.
She did her job and that would surely allow them to overlook her indiscretions.
As soon as Ben stormed back into the office, she knew it was over.
“You’re the leak!” he said, rage barely contained even though the office could easily see what was going on.
“Think of it from my perspective,” she said, even though she knew it was useless.
“You talked to me. You asked the right questions. You said I could share, and then you turned it around on me.”
“How would you feel if the biggest news story was under your nose and you didn’t know?” She stayed in her chair, but she felt the need to yell at him grow the more indignant he became.
“We all have secrets, Fiona, you most of all. I doubt your bosses know you sold me out.”
They had no idea, and if Ben figured that out, then she truly had lost him.
“I’m gone. Officially I’m going on leave for three months, and then I’ll resign. Deviate from that and I’ll out you for the scum you are. I won’t hold back.”
“And to what end? I protected you from having more stories about your parents all over. I only gave them just enough to stop the sleezy stories.”
“Who are you to say that any of those stories weren’t sleezy. My life should be private. Just because I’m dating the Prince Regent doesn’t mean that you should sell the little privacy we have.”
“His life has never been private,” she said, knowing just how much traffic stories about the British Royal Family drew.
“And so this is no different that that? You took what should have been a story about a gay member of the royal family and spun it into a farce.”
“The whole family is a farce.”
“And now I’m part of that. Well thank you. For showing me that my faith in you extends no farther than I can piss.”
He stormed out, but went to his cubicle and quietly talked to Roberto. No doubt spinning this to his benefit.
So be it. Fiona’s morals were fluid and this was no different.
Aside from the side eye Roberto gave her each day, the office returned to what it had been before Ben came out as The Prince Regent’s boyfriend. The paparazzi stopped showing up, the office was less a nexus of chaos and more slightly controlled chaos.
But, she still kept an eye on the press about Ben and the Prince Regent.
It took three weeks of Ben not coming into work for the stories to Ben being a leech and a layabout.
Fiona doubted very much that they were true, but when he no longer looked as if he earned a living, it was vicious.
She allowed herself one moment each day to revel in Ben’s plight before she was forced to focus on those around her that actually covered the news rather than making it.
“What the fucking fuck did you do?” Roger yelled into the phone. It had taken him long enough to call and ask after Ben.
“I didn’t do anything. Ben’s on a leave of absence, as he adjusts to life with The Prince Royal.”
“That’s the most specious lie I’ve ever heard, and I’ve spun my fair share.”
“Roger, Ben isn’t your reporter anymore.”
“But I bloody well sent him to you. I know what you do and I know he’d never give up the job unless something happened.”
“And you have no proof of anything so I suggest you stop worrying about someone else’s house and keeps yours in order.”
Until it was announced that the Regency was ending, Fiona had done her best to forget all about Ben. It was fairly easy since the only person who would have talked about him was Roberto and he gave her as much of a wide birth and tight lips as possible.
But he still talked to everyone else, which is how she heard that Roberto had been invited to Clarence House.
It irked her just a bit to know that Roberto has access that she lacked, but she also realized in the months since Ben had left that she was too pragmatic for feelings.
They complicated her job, clouding a story with bias. She would rather just have facts, even if they were obtained through questionable means.
It was too bad that Ben had never properly understood those sociopaths he wrote about or Machiavelli. It might have kept him working at Global Media if he had.
It had run in the office on Friday night, even though Fiona was sitting in her colorful apartment trying to ignore the unfolding story of Ben and the Prince of Wales’ relationship.
Ben looked almost comfortable with the dog and pony show, as if he were on his way to being The Royal Favorite for the foreseeable future.
His public opinion turned after the news of Princess Amelia was announced, and for what was a first - as far as she followed - he was a positive influence in the Royal Family.
How could Ben, the taciturn and sullen reporter, actually affect change in a family that dug their heels in the ground for at least the last century.
Ben’s book was also looming on the horizon, she knew because there were myriad press releases from Global Media’s higher ups, praising their former employee.
It was carefully ignored that Ben no longer worked for GMS, but it was an elephant in the room. To her.
No one at GMS in London asked to speak to Ben about The Corporation, and she rather liked it that way. The less she had to see and or hear from him, the better.
Roberto walked into her office as the Wedding was closer to commencing. “You know he’s forgiven you,” he said.
She laughed a little. “I doubt that.”
“Oh, you’d be surprised. Ben’s changed since he left. The Prince of Wales has mellowed him.”
She paused at the idea of Ben being less focused than he had been. If he could be less angry at the world at large.
“I still don’t feel comfortable watching,” was what she said instead of actually replying to Roberto’s statement.
“Well, at least come get a glass of champagne and look at Amelia’s dress. I’m sure it’s rather puffed up. Plus, the hats.”
Fiona did enjoy laughing at fascinators and laughing at how muted all the color palettes were. “Fine. But just for a bit. We have work to do.”
“Right,” Roberto said as he walked out of the office.
Fiona followed behind just two seconds after. She was sure that Ben - and by extension the whole Royal Family - would abhor her watching. But she was a citizen of the United Kingdom like most everyone else here and so she would revel in a bit of pomp and circumstance.
Even if she was sure Ben’s ire later would be well documented to the office later.
Years had past and Fiona had nearly forgotten the time when Benjamin Dahan worked for Global Media Services.
Today, however, she could not forget him. It had been a topic of conversation in the office for weeks now, though it was on a less grandiose scale than the one only eighteen months prior.
Roberto was absent today, no doubt taking part in the ceremony.
She would envy him if she thought that anything having to do with The Royal Family was her end all and be all, but she was never such a person.
Fiona only wanted to create order in her office, and to insure that the news went out as it needed to.
It was only too bad that Benjamin Dahan came into her office and put her ordered world on its tilt.
Now she would officially be done with him in the office. Turnover was high, and save for Roberto, no one remembered that the soon to be Duke of Exeter worked as an economic reporter in this office.
Global Media Services would no doubt try to shoehorn a bit about that into some article written about the civil ceremony later today, but she would be firm that no one from London did such a thing.
She had a job to do and she would do it. Damn whoever got in her way.
Crushed dreams went rather well with the colorful dresses and necklaces, just small shards that reflected light rather than shown on their own.