“I didn’t kidnap you,” Fiearius corrected her instantly, now finding more interest in the wall than in her again. “You just happened to be on my ship when I decided it was leaving. Not my fault you weren’t paying enough attention to get off before that happened.” He turned his head slightly to face her, his eyes narrowed. “And yet you think you’re entitled? That’s cute. How ‘bout we scratch that and you just go ahead and tell me what kind of doctor my brother dragged onto my ship? Off a merchant vessel, he said? What were you doing on Vescent?”
“Research,” replied Leta at once. Technically, it was not a lie. She’d just also been living on Vescent while she’d done this research.
Trying to ignore just how tense she was feeling, she gathered a cloth in her hand and poured salve solution into it. It was a basic easy routine, but inwardly, her mind was racing. This was a game, she realized. She had to be careful.
“I’m not sad to leave,” she continued, relieved to hear her voice was more relaxed. “The feds are a bit — uptight there.” As she leaned in to swab the wound, her eyes flashed toward his tattoo, the primary symbol of those feds. “No offense.”
Fiearius’ eyes followed her own to the marking on his arm where they rested in thought. “None taken. Your little ship must not get around much though,” he commented briskly. “That ain’t exclusive to Vescent.”
“I know.” Carefully, she placed the cloth back in the cart at her side. “Vescent. Acendia. The Society’s spreading through Ellegy.” Her voice might have been wistful, were it not for the bitter smile at her lips. She stared down at the rusty tools in the tray, ready and waiting to be picked up and used.
But first, she could stand it no longer. Casting her eyes to him, she held his gaze. “But you have the mark. Are you with them or not?”
Fiearius’ eyes narrowed even more and settled upon her face as though reading it for something hidden. “They just sent six fighter birds after me and more to come, isn’t it obvious?” he pointed out, raising an eyebrow brow at her.“No. Not anymore.”
Leta blinked her eyes slowly, now a perfectly captive audience. “Why?” she asked at length, a tug of desperation in her voice. “What’d you do?”
There was a long passage of silence as Fiearius just glared at her curiously. A passage so long, it seemed he might never answer at all. Even when he did, in fact, he did not. “You here to fix my arm or interrogate me, kiddo?” he asked harshly, deepening his glare, which Leta ignored.
“The Society’s no friend of mine either,” she continued, trying and failing to contain the lift in her voice. She knew it was important to not be too eager, but it was no easy feat. “To say the least. And people don’t just ‘quit’, or leave. Those people end up in bodybags. Not captaining spaceships.”
“Well,” the captain replied cheerfully, despite the look of apathy engraved in his features, “Maybe I’m just special.”
Leta was not deterred by his lack of enthusiasm. “Special enough to evade them. Some people — ” she hesitated then, choosing her words carefully as her expression tinged with sadness, “aren’t quite as lucky. So how?”
“Do I have to say it again?” he growled, jabbing his finger towards the still unattended wound. “I need this thing to stop being a problem by the time we land in two days. I’ve got a job to do. People to feed. Ship to run. So let’s hurry it up, shall we?”
This time, silence fell between them, sharper now. He’d given her more questions than answers. Her curiosity was burning.
But, with an intake of breath, she told herself to wait. For now. She’d waited three months for answers, she could wait a bit longer. After a long, stiff pause, she reached toward the cart and slowly withdrew another vial and, this time, a syringe.
“Well it’s not doable in two days,” she told him flatly. “Try weeks. You need antibiotics. Long-term treatment.”
“I don’t have weeks,” Fiearius replied grimly. “I don’t care what you have to do to make it work. Give me all the antibiotics you want, cut me open, slice me up, whatever, I just can’t show up with my arm falling off. Two days.” He glared at the purple and green infected mess of his shoulder. “Figure it out.”
“I am. This is preliminary work,” she deadpanned, adjusting the needle carefully before half-glancing back at him. “Unless you’re planning to drop me at this next stop.”
A small chuckle rippled out of his throat. “I don’t think you’re gonna wanna be at this next stop,” he remarked, visibly amused at his unexplained joke. “I ain’t gonna keep ya if you’re so damn desperate to leave though.” He glanced back at her, knowingly. “I ain’t gonna stop ya from stayin’ either. Do what ever ya damn please. I leave it to your wise doctorly discretion.”