Chapter 18: Encounters Pt. 3

Now, Fiearius furrowed his brow, surveying her. “What?” he asked blankly, and Leta wasn’t sure if he hadn’t heard, or just didn’t care.

“Someone who knows you!” she went on impatiently. “He cornered me in the marketplace — he had the librera on his arm — ”

“No, no, I heard you,” Fiearius snapped, swinging his feet off the console and leaning forward in his chair. “Librera, whatever, forget that. Did he have the ti’ata?” At Leta’s confused stare, he hurried on, “The ti’ata. The–ugh–these.” He pointed at the thick black rings circled around his upper arm.

“Wh — I think so, yes, he did,” said Leta quickly. “And he — ”

“Dark skin, black hair, massive?”

“Yes, who is he? He knew everything — ”

But Fiearius ignored her and sunk back into his chair. His eyes widened and the color drained from his face. He seemed to entirely forget that she was there, instead choosing to stare at the wall in shock.

“Fiear?” she said tentatively. “He knew that I’m a doctor on your ship  — ”

But suddenly, Fiearius looked at her in a way he never had before. He jumped to his feet, came closer and demanded in a low voice, “What did he do to you? Are you alright?”

Leta, momentarily startled by the concern blazing through his eyes, managed to answer, “He didn’t hurt me, if that’s what you mean. Actually, he said, ‘I’m not here for you.” What the hell does that mean? Who is this guy?”

Leta watched, dumbfounded, as Fiearius turned away from her, put his forehead in hand and started pacing through the cabin, muttering what sounded like sharp Ridellian curses under his breath.  His usual confidence and bravado was gone. He looked lost, his eyes darting around in confusion. She’d never seen him so distraught, not even when they’d been cornered by three gunmen.

“Who is he?” she said worriedly. “How does he know who I am? Did — did you work with him in the Society? Is that how you know him?”

Fiearius paused halfway across the room and looked back at her emptily. “Dez was my partner,” he said in a hollow voice. “Partner turned…I don’t know, hunter?” Turning away, he took another few steps forward and muttered, “Roh’sien tehima, how the hell did he catch up?”

“Partner? Sounds like things ended really well then,” said Leta sarcastically, crossing her arms. “What, now he wants you dead or something?”

Glancing back over his shoulder, Fiearius grumbled, “Not exactly. Returned, more like it.”

“Okay, well, that doesn’t explain why he knows everything about me. He asked if I was making a ‘fair trade’ about joining the ship —  ” Suddenly, the words clicked together in her mind, and she breathed in shock, “Wait. If he knows all that, he must know about Ren.”

The captain was not looking at her, but over her shoulder. “We need to get out of here,” he muttered, more to himself. “We need to–” His eyes went down to the bridge console he’d been using when she came in and stayed there. “Shit, the job.” He cringed and his fists clenched. “Dov’ha kar’iat, Desophyles.”

For the first time, Fiearius was reminding her strongly of his younger brother, in all of his worry. “Listen,” she said, stepping closer to him. “He said he wanted to ‘see where this goes’ — that means Ren, doesn’t it? He wants to see what happens about going after Ren? What if he knows about him, like where he is?”

But Fiearius only muttered in distraction, “Just get it done, quick, and we’ll leave. Mattei fi tolési nai’e. Just one night. It’ll be fine. It’ll be fine. It’ll be–”

“Fiearius!”

Her voice filled the cabin. She knew this was the wrong way to handle his panic attack, but bedside manner had never been her strength. “Fiearius, calm down, tell me who he is! Tell me why he knows about Ren!”

For the first time, he looked at her and seemed surprised to find her there. After a moment, his expression contorted into anger and he growled, “I don’t know! I don’t know and I don’t care! There’s a way bigger issue here than your damn boyfriend, don’t you get that?!”

Shocked, Leta stared at him, before anger suddenly burst through her at the injustice of it all.  “Excuse me? I’d like to know why this friend of yours was stalking me!”

“Friend?!” Fiearius repeated incredulously. “He’s not my friend. He wants to drag me back to Satieri and throw me to the wolves, I don’t see where you’re getting ‘friend’ from that.”

Why?” said Leta without a beat of hesitation. “Why does he want that?”

For a moment, Leta thought he might actually respond honestly. In the heat of his anger, he was poised to answer, but at the last second, he caught himself. “It doesn’t matter why!”

“What?! It matters to me if this guy knows about Ren and is following everything I do!”

Again, Fiearius opened his mouth, as if considering a real explanation. But then, with a dirty glare and infuriating tilt of his head, all he said was, “You know what? I have more important things to worry about right now,” and stormed past  into the hallway, leaving Leta alone in the bridge.

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