“Come on, let her do her thing,” he said casually, pushing himself from the wall and weaving his way back to the center of the room. “How’d you like to operate on someone with a gun to ya? Ain’t that enough stress on its own?” He raised his brow at the man and then lowered them both in challenge. “It’s not about her. It’s about us. You want collateral? Fine.” Carefully, but not without a shove of force, he put his hand over Saviano’s gun and moved it to not point at Leta, but to point at himself. “She kills him, you can shoot me. Deal?”
A much-too-agreeable sense of excitement rose in Saviano’s face. “How noble of you,” he remarked grandly, sounding truly glad now to hold his gun to Fiearius’ chest instead. His head tilted toward Leta as he added softly, “Good of you to protect your merchandise.”
Fiearius smirked and replied sarcastically, “Nah, I’m just jealous. Can’t have my employees getting all the attention now, can I?”
Merchandise? With a rather angry jerk, Leta suddenly seized the broken medical cart and drew it closer to herself, though her gaze was halted sternly on the two men against the wall. Breathing was coming easier to her now that she wasn’t the direct target of a bullet — she’d have to thank the captain for those heroics later, she thought, in a moment of hysterical amusement — though the sight of Fiearius with a gun to his chest wasn’t doing much to ease her riddled nerves.
If Fiearius was killed, she realized, she’d have to find her way out the door herself. It was not a possibility she could fully wrap her head around, him falling to the floor at her feet. Though, apparently, it did not seem like a scenario he found very likely. Or maybe he thought it was entirely likely, and he was more insane than she’d even thought. She wondered, then, exactly how many lives were at stake here.
She silenced that thought in her mind as quickly as it arrived. Ignoring the icy sweat that touched the back of her neck, then, she got to work.
Mercifully, the rest of the scene began to fall away. For several long minutes, it was only her and the set of small, rusted knives she found in the med cart, which she held up to the light of the window for a moment before turning down to her patient. She stood over him and set her forearms at an an angle over his abdomen, her fingers working the knives quickly at first, then with painstaking patience. She paused only to brush her arm over her forehead, swiping away matted hair, before continuing the surgery.
“You know,” Saviano said thoughtfully, breaking the silence that had spread over the room as Leta worked, “when we hadn’t heard from you in awhile, Soliveré, I was certain you’d been killed. But I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.”
“If anyone should be killed,” Leta muttered suddenly, stepping back from the bed, “it should be the surgeons you have onboard. They stitched him up before closing his portal and hepatic veins; he’s been bleeding internally for three days.” Heaving a steadying sigh of exhaustion and relief, Leta replaced the knives back onto the tray. She began to unsnap her crimson-stained gloves from her hands, speaking on measuredly. “His circulation’s plateaued now, vitals are stable.”
Half-turning to face the two men once more, she glimpsed Saviano’s gun still pointed at Fiearius, and she inwardly willed it away. “It’s done,” she clarified decisively. “He needs your strongest painkillers and a week of bedrest and recovery. But it’s done, he’ll make it.”
Both men turned to look at her. Saviano eyed her skeptically. Fiearius looked simply smug. “Absurd, you said?” he repeated to Saviano. “I may be a thief, but I make good on my deals.”
“That you do,” came the sudden voice of Goddorra near the doorway. Leta saw Saviano discreetly lower his gun to his side as his boss entered the room.
Goddorra watched Roman in the bed. His eyes moved past Leta without acknowledgement, and Leta remembered what Saviano had called her: merchandise.
After surveying the bed, Goddorra looked back to Fiearius, as if he’d been the one to do the surgery. “I’m impressed.”
“Fantastic,” Fiearius said heartedly, turning to face him again as if greeting an old friend at a dinner party. Then his expression fell and he said seriously, “10k please.”
“But as you say,” Goddora went on slowly, putting a finger under his chin in thought, “You are a thief.”
There was something taunting his tone, Leta thought, that made her believe this deal was not over. She felt herself tense. Fiearius must have sensed it too as his eyes narrowed.
“And guess who I ran into?” Goddora continued, as if this were all just so amusing. His expression was of supreme satisfaction as he stepped aside, allowing another man to join the room.
The newest arrival, a short, round man with slicked-back hair and a layer of greasy shine on his pink skin, pushed past Goddora eagerly. In his hand was what appeared to be nothing more than a common kitchen knife, but he was brandishing it with a wide impish grin that implied the intentions of it were not quite so common. Leta had no idea who, exactly, this man was. He didn’t look like a physical threat. But that didn’t matter, it was already obvious what was happening.
The deal was going south.
Just as her eyes flashed to Fiearius, Leta felt it at her side: first, she thought it was Saviano’s hand, grazing her hip, and she jerked away with her hand raised and ready to strike him. But it was somehow even worse than that. It wasn’t his hand. The barrel of Saviano’s gun came to rest, gently but decisively, against her back.
She was trapped. Stuck. And forced to watch the scene in the doorway.
Fiearius simply let out a small sigh, the smile back on his face, though perhaps a little tiredly so.
“Torian,” he stated plainly to the newest arrival. “Well. Shit.”
“What’s wrong, Soliveré?” the little man called Torian asked with a simpering voice that matched his face. “Didn’t think you’d be seeing me again so soon, did you? But did you really believe you could just waltz off with my property and I wouldn’t follow?”
“It’s nothing personal, Fiearius,” Solon assured as Torian slowly moved towards Fiearius with a sharp hunger looming in his eyes. “See, you want me to give you 10k for your product, but Paolos here is going to give me 15 to get it back.” He tilted his head and smiled wider, clearly quite pleased with himself. “And kill you. It’s just business. I’m sure you understand.”
Fiearius just smiled calmly at Solon. “Sure I do,” he said simply before turning his sights onto Torian who was now threateningly making motions with the knife around his neck. Fiearius did not look impressed. “What’s this? You making dinner or something? You know, I can only eat things with low sodium so best make sure you prepare for that,” he deadpanned.
“You know, I’m actually glad that things worked out this way,” Solon remarked thoughtfully, ignoring Fiearius’ comments as he too stepped further into the room at a slow pace, crossing his arms over his chest.
“That so?” Fiearius asked, mildly curious as he kept his eyes locked skeptically on Torian and his weapon.
At her back, Leta felt Saviano shift: he was standing close to her, too close, but his gun moved. Now he pointed it at Fiearius, cornering him. Three against one, Leta couldn’t help but think.
“It’s fitting, don’t you think?” Goddora continued. “That you should meet your end here, of all places. Here, where you found your beginning years ago. I still recall the first time you barged your way into my office.”
“It’s a memory that I, too, cherish daily,” Fiearius muttered.
Disregarding his comment, Solon continued coldly, “Just another dumb upstart trying to get his foot in the door. I honestly didn’t think you’d last another month with the way you’d been running things.” He paused and glanced down at Torian. “The people you’d been messing with. Promising jobs you couldn’t pull. Making deals you couldn’t afford.” A humorless chuckle trickled from his throat. “Why did you make such a fuss of buying that girl anyway? Just to get on my good side? I’ve always wondered. Was she worth the debt?”
At the very mention of Corra, Fiearius’ careless expression tinged slightly. By the twitch in his arm, for a moment Leta thought he might finally reach for the gun at his hip. But just as quickly as the anger had come, it left and he replied with a shrug, “What can I say? I like short people.” A vaguely crazed smile found its way down to Torian as he added, “They make me feel superior.”
Torian growled viciously and the knife he’d just been playing with lunged forward, the cold metal meeting Fiearius’ throat with just enough force to draw a thin line of blood. The grip on Saviano’s gun tensed. The beginnings of an angry yell formulated in Torian’s mouth and the muscles of his arm readied themselves to finish this until Goddora stepped forward and laid a hand on his shoulder. Paolos Torian looked up at him, enraged, but didn’t argue the unspoken order.