It was Finn, pushing himself forward to the edge of the crowd, out of breath, a gun in his hand. He was not alone. Corra and Cyrus hurried forward, just a few minutes too late. Both of them stared, thunderstruck, at the body of Ludo. And then at the man who killed him.
Corra’s hands flew over her mouth. “Oh god,” she muttered between her fingers. To Leta, she assured, “We came as soon as we heard but–” Her eyes traveled back to Fiearius. “Oh god…”
At her side, Cyrus looked ready to throw up.
It was indeed a sick sight. Fiearius stood over the dead body, his face dark, his skin covered in blood, looking every inch the assassin the Society had crafted him to be. He didn’t seem to recognize his brother’s presence, nor his friends’, nor anyone’s. For a man surrounded by people, he had never quite looked so alone.
Suddenly, with more strength than before, Leta moved forward decisively and cut through the crowd, ghost-like, entranced, but with a strange bout of resolution.
She stepped over Ludo’s body as easily as though it was a fallen chair, and then, her hand closed Fiearius’ forearm, her other hand on his shoulder.
“Come on, ” she breathed (she could feel his warm seeping blood on her fingers). “Back to the ship, come on.”
Finally, Fiearius drew his eyes from the crumbled shape of Ludo and met Leta’s stare as though he didn’t recognize her. His eyes were dazed and for a moment, it seemed he didn’t know where he was. Slowly, realization dawned over his features. He looked down at the gun in his hand, as though surprised to find it there, and back to the corpse, finding that too unfamiliar.
And when his gaze came back to Leta there was something there she had never seen in him before. Fiearius, so typically cocky and arrogant and full of swagger, looked–he couldn’t have been–frightened?
To her relief, he did not fight her when she tugged gently on his arm to lead him away. The gun slipped from his fingers, thudding to the ground. His eyes were on his feet as she guided him toward the door, her hand circled around his forearm. Cyrus, Corra and Finn simply stared at them, dumbfounded.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
It wasn’t enough for Leta to lead Fiearius out of the bar. With her hand tightened around his wrist, she led him all the way through the city, back to the docks, toward the Dionysian. She guided him up the ship’s ramp, passing through the cargo bay, the crew deck, the emptied corridors, until they reached the bridge.
The bridge, where he belonged, lest he had forgotten. It was for her sake as much as it was his: it was only when Fiearius moved forward and slowly dropped into his captain’s chair that she managed to take a breath.
And that was all she wanted. Him, here. Alive. Ludo’s death was a justified one in her eyes, but gods, she’d almost lost Fiearius for it. And it showed. Crimson streaked down his arms and coated his hair; his face was a mess of forming bruises; he looked exhausted enough to sink to the floor as he stared hollowly at the dashboard, eerily silent.
Words sat readily on her tongue. She wanted to rage at him for not knowing earlier what kind of monster Ludo was. She wanted to tell him he was an absolute maniac for going after ten men in a crowded bar, for nearly getting himself killed, for scaring her to death.
But even as she tried to summon the anger, it never reached the surface. She rested her eyes on the back of his head for a long moment, noting the blood soaking the nape of his neck.
“Let me just … get her off the ground before someone gets gutsy,” he muttered at last, feigning his best tone of normalcy as he flipped a switch on the console. “Then I’m thinking I might need a bandage or two if you don’t mind.”
Softening, Leta only nodded, not that he could see it. Just when she turned to slip out to go ready the infirmary, he unexpectedly spoke again.
“And thank you. For everything.” His voice was soft, hoarse and utterly burdened with defeat. His words shocked her, and locked her in place, halfway in, halfway out of the cabin.
“And I’m sorry,” he added, even quieter. “For everything.”
All at once, sorrow stirred in her chest. Ludo was gone, but the suffering he caused wasn’t over; this was no victory. And now, she was quietly and tensely aware that she had just witnessed Fiearius at his absolute worst.
Shamefully, she could’ve sworn she felt her throat swell closed of its own accord, but only for a moment. In lieu of a response (no words seemed right, really), she lowered her hand to the slope of his shoulder and stayed there, for a few moments more.