“Get what?” said Leta, wishing privately that he would look away. “Just guess.”
Fiearius shook his head. “No, not that. I don’t get why you’ll tell me about your sexual history with professors — “
“I didn’t say that was true.”
“– and about your fall from grace … and about your parents.” He was still regarding her as if to work out some puzzle written all over her face. “Why didn’t you tell me you were sick?”
So they had arrived here then. Suddenly, unease fell over Leta and she toyed absently with an edge of the blanket. “I told you why,” she said softly, an honest admittance. “I wanted to take care of it. And I didn’t want you to feel responsible for it.”
But Fiearius shook his head. “I don’t buy that,” he said bluntly. “You don’t seem to mind me feeling responsible for anything else. So why this? Why didn’t you come to me with this?”
“Denial, probably. Admitting I was sick to you meant admitting it to myself.”
He didn’t seem satisfied with her answer.
“Don’t you trust me?”
Fiearius had a powerful stare. In this moment, his eyes reflected the light from the window overhead. Determined not to look away, Leta decided to merely confess.
“You know that I do.”
“So why didn’t you say anything?” he said bluntly. “You know, you must have known, that I could help.”
“You’re ridiculously confusing, you know that?” she told him suddenly, her voice steeped in something close to wonder. “You seem to hate it when I come to you to talk to you, but you hate it just as much when I want to take care of something myself. So which is it? Since I apparently have years of my life left now,” she continued, “I should figure this out, yeah? And — come on, Fiear,” she added suddenly, a sigh in her voice. “It wasn’t a matter of not trusting you with this. I already trust you with everything that’s important to me.” Namely, Ren, but it seemed unnecessary to bring her fiance into this specifically. Especially when she added, “Obviously, if I willingly told anyone, it would’ve been you.”
Fiearius fell thoughtfully silent, watching her with that same discerning stare that made her spine tense under the weight of it. Finally, his voice cut through the space between them. “Yeah, alright,” he muttered, relenting. “I guess…I’m no stranger to keeping secrets either.”
“Next time, though,” he went on firmly, pointing his finger at her. “You fuckin’ tell me if you’re dying alright? I don’t need to hear it from some shitty Paravian cop.” A worried smirk pulled at the corner of his mouth. “Just glad you pulled outta this one unscathed.”
“Not quite unscathed,” she corrected, suddenly pulling the edge of her pantleg up. The scar that ran up her calf was eight inches long and thick as a pencil. “See? I’ll be cut up like you soon enough.”
Before she could conceal the mark once more, she was given reason to pause: Fiearius, his eyes downcast, reached out his hand and began to curiously draw his calloused fingers up the marred lines of the flesh toward her knee, tracing slowly the scar with his fingertips, as if examining it.
“I like it,” he told her, his voice gone rather soft. “It suits you.” He ran his finger back down the line slowly. “All that perfect sheltered paleness…and one streak of darkness.”
A shiver rolled down Leta’s spine as Fiearius’ fingertips stopped near her knee again, freezing her in place and making goosebumps rise on her skin. She wasn’t sure if she could speak if she wanted to.
It’d certainly been a long time since she was touched like that.
Dismissively as she could manage, she said at last, “I don’t think I like it much.”
But it wasn’t even convincing to her own ears. When she flicked her eyes up to his face, her gaze went immediately to his own scars — the one that jut through his brow, the other that cut down his jawline. And he was watching her, too, a burn behind his eyes.
Truly, Leta wasn’t sure what she should have been feeling just then. Anticipation was coursing through her like an electric current. It was either panic or longing.
But she did not pull away.
Evidently, this was all the permission Fiearius needed — not that he ever asked for permission with anything — to lean in and lift his hand, gently grasping the side of her face. His thumb swiped strands of her hair past her cheek, the briefest pause, before he leaned in, closing the distance between them to capture her lips with his.
Feeble protests in the back of her mind swept away, and she was instantly shocked by the warmth and force behind his hungry kiss.
And for that, after her second of paralysis, she began to relax against his lips. The tension slowly uncoiled from her frame as she sighed shakily, relaxing against his hold on her, allowing herself to fall into the kiss in earnest. Below them, her fingers unhooked from the liquor bottle, letting it drop to the floor at her feet, before her forearm swept around his neck. Here, her fingers slipped through the back of his hair, knotting themselves there as she pressed herself closer.
His hand gripped the small of her back, so without breaking their kiss and without relinquishing her hold, she slowly leaned back so her shoulders and back found the bed instead.
His fingers were in her hair, his breath near her ear, his mouth lowered to her neck. But then all at once, Leta could not be beholden anymore. Behind her closed eyes, her vision flashed stark grey. The color of Vescentian’s flag, the darkened shiny marble of the buildings, all the structures that surrounded Ren’s stone casket.
The memory caused a scorching crease of pain to sear jaggedly down her spine, the slightest flinch in her face when she felt Fiearius’ mouth slope down her collarbone. The intensity of both pleasure and pain roused her into sobriety as she suddenly went rigid, sucking in a pained, hiss of a breath.
“Fiear,” she breathed, tilting her head slightly to the side, while her eyes flitted rapidly at the ceiling over his shoulder. “Fiearius. We can’t do this.”
Fiearius’ voice was a warm, hoarse breath on her neck. “Yes we can.”
He pushed himself up on his palms, concern in his eyes. “What’s wrong?”
What had she done, what had she almost done? The warmth in the room was gone. She was cold and now, panic gripped her.
Leta sat up and put her feet to the floor, adjusting the collar of her shirt hurriedly. “We can’t do this, you know we can’t.”
Fiearius sat up in the bed, watching her as she edged to the door. “I don’t understand,” he said at last, bitterness in his voice. “Isn’t this what you wanted?”
“That — ” Her voice faltered. “That doesn’t matter. What I want doesn’t matter.” Was he really going to make her say it? “I’m engaged, Fiearius.”
“Enga — “ He cut himself off, clasping his eyes shut and pressing his palm against his forehead. “Listen, your fiance, he’s–I can’t–” But whatever Fiearius was going to say about Ren, she never found out. Fiearius dropped his hand and looked over at her earnestly, even pleadingly.
“I’m sorry,” he said at once. “I shouldn’t have–I really shouldn’t have done that. But listen. Can we talk? Not here, maybe. The bridge or–”
“I think we’ve talked enough for tonight.”
Her words hung in the air, heavy with guilt. Leta knew if she looked back at him, she might not leave his room at all — so without glancing over her shoulder, she pulled open the hatch and slipped into the hallway, marching back to her own room alone.