He fell into an uncomfortable silence for a long few seconds as he frowned at the coffee mug in his hands. Finally, he perked up and added much more lightly, “Also, Corra would want me to tell you to stay away from Maya because she is, quote unquote, an awful bitch.” He smiled innocently and shrugged. “They don’t get along. She’s the one over by the kitchen door with the curly black hair,” he added, gesturing toward the woman who was in deep conversation with a younger boy beside her.
“Oh and the one she’s talking to?” he went on. “The blonde kid? That’s Nikkolai. You’ll meet him. I can guarantee you will meet him.” Not so subtly, Cyrus rolled his eyes. “He’s alright though. And the other one? Javier, I think. I don’t really know him. But they’re the more long-term of the deckhands. They’ve been here long enough to kind of know what they’re doing so if you need anything, any one of them’s a good bet to ask.”
“The one over by the door,” he continued, a little more flippantly as he gestured toward a short, stocky man, cheerfully drinking from a murky bottle of whiskey, “That’s Rhys. Another one of Fiear’s guns. Nice guy, but medically, you might want to watch for liver problems. The older couple at the table to his right, Palia and Alastair Dmitri. Paying passengers. Across from them, Arlo Harvey. Another passenger. Then over to the left that’s Bartley and Feydran and Tihla and, you know what? You’ll probably meet them all eventually and I don’t expect you to remember all this so never mind.” He turned back to her suddenly and smiled. “Most of this lot are pretty friendly. Unless they’re handing you an orange drink,” he reminded again, the smile dropping off his face rather warningly.
Personally, Leta wasn’t sure whether to laugh or not, though the impulse was there. They were a motley crew, this bunch. Before she could ask more about them, however, they were interrupted.
“Cyrus?” demanded a sudden, too-eager female voice. “Who — who is this?”
The scratchy voice belonged to an older woman, seventy years old at least, who arrived to the table with a mixing bowl in hand and serving spoon in another. She must have been the ship’s cook, Leta thought, judging by the burns and stains in her clothing.
In this moment, she did not seem interested in serving the rest of the oatmeal in her bowl. She was frozen, her widened, round eyes set much too expectantly on Leta. “You’re the doctor then?” she asked, and then her smile faded toward a look of, all things, disappointment. “Just — just the doctor?” Her eyes darted between Leta and Cyrus, as if measuring the amount of sitting distance between them and finding it quite unsatisfactory. And that was when Leta understood.
“I’m afraid so,” she admitted, actually laughing outloud — for the first time in days. “Just the doctor.” Not Cyrus’ girlfriend, she added silently in her head. At her side, Cyrus released a small groan and put his clasped index finger and thumb to his forehead.
“And this,” he muttered, “is Amora. Our professional chef and hobbyist busybody.” He glanced at her, both unamused and affectionate.
“Well, it’s wonderful to have you, dear,” gushed Amora, apparently pleased once more. “With how much trouble this crew gets into — I can’t imagine how they even — bloody messes all the time — well, I’m sure you’ll have your hands full. Coffee?”
As Leta reached to accept the steaming mug of coffee from the woman (who now seemed to be sizing her up, Leta noticed), she became distracted. Near the door was, suddenly, shouting. An angry voice. And it was growing closer. It was a woman’s voice, and not just any woman — this was someone she knew. It was Corra, she realized, looking toward the door curiously, and she wasn’t alone.
Corra, in all of her fury, was marching into the room and saying, “Don’t you walk away from me when I’m talking to you,” to the back of the captain who seemed to be doing just that.
Fiearius seemed completely oblivious to the small furious girl tailing behind him as he strode confidently into the room and scanned for something, or someone, in particular. Leta watched with interest as the man suddenly smirked widely and, only narrowly escaping Corra’s grasp as she tried to seize his arm, came straight towards the table at which Leta was seated.
But Leta was not who he was aiming for. His attention was on Amora, who ignored him. But the look in his eyes suggested he simply could not help himself.
“Good morning, my sweet,” he murmured flirtatiously as he reached them and immediately slipped an arm around the woman’s large waist. Leta watched, silently amazed, as Amora scoffed a disgusted breath and elbowed him off.
But Fiearius wasn’t done. He swiped the serving spoon from her hand, dug it into oatmeal from the bowl and brought it to his mouth. His eyes squinted thoughtfully. “Needs salt,” he expressed finally with a grimace and then leaned in to plant a quick kiss on her forehead. “Next time,” he suggested as he released her from his grip and spun around to presumably stalk off somewhere else.
By then, his pursuer had caught up with him. Corra halted in front of the captain, arms crossed over her chest as she blocked his path. Leta could not imagine what was unfolding with this scene: Corra, furious; Fiearius, calm and darkly bemused as they eyed each other.
“Corra, we talked about this,” Fiearius said to her with a sigh. His shoulders dropped the defensive stance and he sighed again. “We had a deal.”
“The deal was that I can’t stop you,” Corra snapped back instantly, nullifying his effect of speaking quietly with her own impassioned gusto. “The deal was not that I can’t give you shit about it.”
By now, Leta wasn’t the only person paying attention to this scene. The din of conversation was fading as crew members threw awkward, too-casual glances toward the captain. Sensing the mounting tension, Leta looked over to Cyrus for immediate explanation. “Cy, wh–”
Cyrus, however, took one look at his brother and then quickly turned his attention downward. He seemed to be watching the surface of his coffee instead.
Meanwhile, Fiearius rolled his eyes and grumbled, “Maybe we should change the terms then,” before he turned from her, reverting back to his previous tactic of simply walking away as he headed for the kitchen. It hadn’t worked the first time, though. And it didn’t work the second time, either.