“Helped you out today?” she repeated at last, and though she hadn’t intended for it, her voice was rising. “I — ‘helped’ you? I didn’t sweep your fucking floors. I shot someone for you, if you remember — ”
“Yes, you shot someone for me,” Fiearius admitted, his tone biting, impatient. “But I’m pretty sure shooting one person, wow, well done, congratulations, doesn’t exactly deserve me taking my whole ship into a goddamn death trap for your lost love. Do you know anything about Society prisons? They’re ships. Huge, impenetrable ships. And you didn’t exactly paint yourself as this stupid, but apparently it needs to be pointed out to you that this thing on my arm?” He jabbed a finger to the Society librera inked on his shoulder. “Means that if I go anywhere near one of those, there won’t be any of our ship left to even land on their ship.”
Society prisons were only on ships? Leta blinked her eyes at this news. Well, he was already helpful, though it was completely unintentional. And while he was the one who was slumped immobile in the chair, even though he’d ripped his arm open after jumping out a window, he stared at her like she was an idiot.
“But let’s just say we can,” he went nastily, as if humoring a child. Leta’s eyes narrowed to slits. “Somehow. By method of…well, miracle I guess. We land on this ship. Then what? The guards are gonna just let us waltz on in and find this guy? Hell, they’ll even give us directions. I’m sure that’ll work out.”
Almost at once, Leta recovered her wit. “We had a deal,” she muttered. “I help you, you help me, and I did what you asked. And I never said it’d be an easy job — are you a criminal or not?”
“Oh that’s real nice,” he snapped. “I’m a criminal so surely I’ll just jump at the chance to do something violent and dangerous. You know me. Anything for the opportunity to get shot in the head. But oh, of course, before I die, I’ll shoot someone for you too. Just to make sure it’s even.”
Now he was simply taunting her. Just like she’d been taunted on Vescent. Anger burned straight to her fingertips. Somehow, it was even horrible to hear it from him — didn’t he subscribe to the impossible? He was a fucking pirate.
But this was pointless, this wouldn’t bring Ren back. Cyrus had been wrong. Or he’d lied to her. Fiearius didn’t take risks against the Society: he feared and ran from them like everyone else.
“Look,” she said angrily, “I know it seems impossible — ”
“Then why expect me to do it?” he barked. “I don’t even know you. Why should I put my life and my ship on the line for you? Why would you even think you can ask for that?”
“Because I have to try everything!” she yelled, surprising even herself. Her hands were shaking; she dug them into her armrests. “I have to try. Everything. I won’t leave him there. He did nothing wrong — you really think I wouldn’t do whatever it took to free him? To keep him from dying in prison?”
The room went silent. Fiearius didn’t answer. He merely stared at her unblinkingly, frowning, but apparently devoid of a response.
She wasn’t going to amuse this bastard a second longer: she’d just have to find some other way. Shakily she pushed herself up to her feet and tried to steel her trembling legs to make it the door (he could suffer here without painkillers for all she cared), but just when she made it to the door, he spoke again.
There was something odd in his voice: he’d gone strangely quiet. The anger was gone. Leta halted on the threshold.
“Come back.” He nodded to her chair. “Sit down.”
Leta didn’t move. At least not until he rolled his eyes to the window, and then admitted with a sigh, “I didn’t say I wouldn’t help you.”
At that, shock passed through her. He didn’t — what? She felt her legs step back into the cabin and drop onto the edge of her chair across from him.
Was he fucking with her? Sarcastically, he said, “Look, I know that I’m amazing, and that whole thing back on Kadolyne just exploded your confidence in me and I’m glad you can recognize greatness when you see it, but…” Just as Leta rolled her eyes and considered marching out once more, he went more seriously, a line forming in his brow. “What you’re asking? It’s not a small thing. Y’know, we’ve got problems of our own. We’re out of cash, nearly outta fuel, we just imploded the infrastructure of our biggest market. I can’t just go around making huge promises to people who helped me once or twice. But…” He raised a brow at her. “I’ll think about it.”
Leta searched his face for signs of deceit. He met her gaze resolutely, but she sure as hell did not want to put her faith and trust in this person. Or in any person. If it were somehow possible, she’d break Ren out single-handedly. But the painful truth of it was, she needed to do something she’d never been good at in her entire life: ask for help.
Quietly, she asked, “So what’s that mean, exactly?”
“What does it mean?” he repeated, sounding more like his irritated self. “It means I’ll think about it, that’s what it means. And maybe if a number of things align, we can work something out.” His mouth twitched in irritation. “But no guarantees. Takin’ down a prison ship is one thing, but I ain’t lookin’ to get killed over your boyfriend.”
“Whatever.” He glanced toward the window, then back to her sharply. “Now I’m so glad we had this wonderful little talk about your blissful romance with whoever the hell he is. Real fascinating stuff, honestly.” He smiled humorlessly. “But how ‘bout you give me those pain meds and leave me alone?”