Aghast, Leta wheeled around in alarm, staring at the man she’d worked to save, now lifeless in the shambles of his disassembled bed. The ease in which Fiearius had done the deed paralyzed Leta in place for several seconds, all the breath knocked out of her lungs. It might have been Roman’s innocence in this moment, his unknowingness of what was happening around him. It might have been because he’d been her patient (against her will, it was true, but still her patient). Whatever it was, the gunfire shocked her in place, as though she’d been shot herself.
By the time she’d turned around, Fiearius was lowering himself from the window.
Feeling nauseated, Leta leaned herself toward the window and watched as the rope of sheets went taut along the windowsill. Below, along the edge of the building, Fiearius was suspended in midair, his feet against the building as he eased down toward the ground.
The rope did not reach the ground, however: there was at least fifteen feet of space between Fiearius and the matress. After hanging off the last stretch of the rope for a moment, he let go and fell.
Amazingly, Fiearius somehow managed to land on the mattress with a roll and almost instantly he jumped back on his feet and called up to Leta.
“Come on, kiddo, no time like the present!”
For a moment, Leta could not decide what to do — shouting “fuck you” came nastily to mind — but as it turned out, she did not have much of a decision in the matter. Behind her, the doors flung open in an explosion of shouting and gunfire.
The panicky need to go, do, leave, act shot through her and before she could talk herself out of it, Leta holstered her gun, braced her hands at the windowsill and ventured, quickly and carefully, down the rope of sheets.
Grimacing, she lowered herself down the wall, pausing only slightly once she’d reached the end — true to his word, Fiearius stood there on ground to catch her — and, holding her breath, she released her grip.
In her falling motion toward him, Leta’s hands wrapped around Fiearius’ shoulders, her knees caved, but, thank the gods, her feet touched mercifully solid ground of the street with only a slight stumble between them. She staggered slightly against Fiearius, but she pulled herself tall to her feet, and shouted at once into his face.
“What was that for?” she demanded. “Why’d you kill Roman?! He wasn’t involved — he didn’t do anything –”
“Roman Lilliander? Didn’t do anything?” he repeated incredulously, cutting her a nasty glare. “That’s hilarious. Do you want me to tell you what he’s done? Because I don’t think you really wanna hear it — “
Turning his back on her, he started down the street the way they came. Leta’s feet pounded on the dirt beside him, and it was then she noticed something odd: looking down, she realized her palms were soaking wet and sticky. Blood. It wasn’t her blood. So that meant —
Her eyes went to Fiearius. His wounded shoulder, the same injury she’d been brought aboard to heal, was broken open and leaking crimson heavily down his arm. Of course it was. He’d fallen fifteen feet …
He did not seem to notice the injury, at least not consciously. As his eyes darted around the city and he searched for the clearest path for them to escape, the pain was settling in now. Even as he hastened forward, his expression was growing clouded, his eyes narrowing in something like confusion as he looked around over Leta’s head, curious, dazed.
Which was fucking fantastic, Leta thought, that her guide out of this city was starting to lose it. And unless she was very much mistaken, there were zinging shots of gunfire beginning to follow them.
Throwing a panicked look over her shoulder, Leta summoned her resolve, seized Fiearius by the elbow (he had halted in the middle of the sidewalk and looked up at a building) and dragged him into a narrow alley.
“Fiearius, “ she barked, resisting the urge to slap his face to get him to listen. “They’re following us. Can you get us back to the ship?”
“Following us?” he repeated, a little absently. He seemed determined to focus on her face, but his eyes were glassy. “Following us. Yeah.” Then he paused, and jabbed a thumb toward the sounds of gunfire behind them. “Oh no. These guys aren’t what I’m worried about. It’s the other ones that are gonna be a problem.”
Afraid of what that even meant, Leta squinted at him. “What other ones?”
But he simply continued his pacing. “This way, there’s a…there’s a bridge…” he mumbled, glancing blankly toward the open street. Meanwhile, he was shaking his injured, blood-soaked arm, as if to fling a fly off of it. “There’s the way..around…” His voice trailed off, until suddenly he seized his shoulder violently and shouted “Fuck!” into the din of the alley.
Then, just when Leta’s eyes went wide, he took a deep breath. “No no, it’s fine,” he went on, unaware of Leta’s alarm, as he walked in a small circle. “It’s gonna be fine. It’s totally fine. All fine. I’m fine.” He halted in place, looked at Leta, and insisted, “I’m fine.”
“Oh, boy,” Leta breathed sharply, a faint lift to her brow. Her widened eyes flew to the blood soaking cleanly on his shoulder, and she could imagine few things worse for the injury than the landing he’d just made. She’d seen this many times before in her emergency room, the mild hysteria that accompanied mind-numbing pain, and now with the gunfire at their back —
“It’s that way!”
His voice broke over the alley proudly. Leta thought he sounded downright crazed, but he beamed at her with confidence. “That’s it. The way around the back. Got it.” He nodded at her, then quickly turned down another street and ran off, shouting, “Follow me! Stay close!” over his shoulder.
As they dodged through the city, Leta had to wonder what kind of hell Fiearius had in store for them next, or if he even knew where they were going. But to her surprise and relief, his manic, scattered sprint along streets and down alleyways did lead them back where they started: the ship docks.