“But he wrote you,” said Cyrus. “From…wherever he’s being held? How do you know for sure it’s really from him though?” he added, sounding hesitant it seemed to even speak the words.
Leta was not offended. But, for the first time, she did falter. Here we go, she thought uneasily. But what did she have to lose at this point? For seconds longer, she kept her eyes on Cyrus before, finally, reaching to the side and grasping the long sleeve of her blouse. She pulled back on the fabric, pulling the tattoo on her forearm into view.
Immediately, Cyrus’ eyes widened as he took it in, that all-too-familiar sight of the black angles of the Society Librera. The same mark his brother wore.
The silence dragged on and on, quite painfully so, until he muttered, “Oh,” blankly. “Well.” His face compressed into a concerned frown and he nodded ever so slowly. “You should probably just…keep that to yourself.” He passed her a sheepish and apologetic smile. “Whether you’re with them still or not, it doesn’t make too much of a difference, really. Best to just not let that out around here. We’ve yet to run into anyone with that mark that my brother left breathing.” He grimaced at his own words. “He has…trust issues. What is he always says? If he were still working for them, he’d be lying about it too.”
“I’m not with them,” she said quickly, tugging down on her sleeve once more and attempting to absorb what Cyrus had said invisibly and quickly. “I worked in a medical research division for a year, then I met Ren. But I don’t anymore. Obviously. I’m not anymore. I got lucky. Because of my dad,” she admitted, uneasy once more. “He’s one of their latchkeys. He’s a speech writer. He’s worked for the Society my whole life. Political advising, mostly. Never important enough to make a difference, but he knows enough. He’s the one who told me. I guess the guilt got to him, because a few weeks after the funeral, he told me what I already knew. That he was alive.”
Because these were words Leta had spoken before, because it was a story that she knew every detail of, it was easy to swallow the lump in her throat. It was easy to keep her gaze evenly on Cyrus, even when he looked surprised.
“But now it’s your turn,” she said quietly. This was the part Leta was eager for. She sat up straighter. “Your brother. Your brother hates the Society too. Why?”
Instantly, Cyrus’ expression of intent listening blanched with discomfort. The crease in his forehead and the nervous tapping of his fingers against the edge of his seat said it all. It was a question he did not want to answer. Or perhaps, she thought, he just didn’t know how. He’d warned her that Fiearius would go so far as to kill her if she mentioned the Society. Did the same rule apply to his own brother? Or was Cyrus not hesitating out of mistrust of his sibling, but rather mistrust of her?
“It’s a long story,” he began lamely, finishing the statement with a tired sigh and casting her another apologetic smirk. “Not really my story to tell, either. There’s a lot of reasons for him to hate them. Well, you’ve seen the mark.” He tapped his own upper arm knowingly. “And you saw the nice welcome we got back there,” he added grimly, jabbing his thumb back over his shoulder as though towards Vescent.” His shoulders lifted in a shrug and his voice faded off again so that she thought he was just going to leave it at that. The same, vague answer the captain himself had given her. The non-answer. Cyrus, however, wasn’t done.
“My brother joined the Society back on Satieri when he was young. Fourteen, fifteen, I don’t know,” he explained dutifully, still frowning seriously at the ground. “I don’t know what kind of work you do for them when you’re that age. Delivering messages or making coffee runs, no clue. What I do know is that he eventually ended up with Internal Affairs.” His voice softened considerably as he added, “I do know what they do. I just don’t like to think about it.”
Internal Affairs. Internal Affairs? The name stirred something in Leta’s mind — something vaguely uneasy — but nothing immediate came to her. Before she could add that to her dozens of burning questions, Cyrus continued.