Chapter 46: Cheap Gin and Low-Grade Explosives


It was hours past midnight when Leta, feeling too restless for sleep, found herself in a silent, ghostly part of the Dionysian she had never before ventured to: the observation deck. Commercial vessels boasted observation decks as grand wide rooms of glass with comfortable seating, perfect for sightseeing. But on the Dionysian, it was a merely a short dark hallway with a broad window.

Still — the view was beautiful. Leta sat on the metal floor, mesmerized by the sparkling jagged skyline beneath the tremendous bowl of the night sky. No wonder the deckhands always came down here to fool around or make out or whatever they did (she’d once seen Niki dragging Javier this direction).

She scolded herself for not visiting here sooner, even if she had good reason. In the past month, only the infirmary had been her sanctuary. When you were dying, exploring the Dionysian’s decks wasn’t much of a priority …

As if on cue, the diagnostic device sitting on the floor near her feet gave a sudden, friendly ding: blood test results. At last. She’d been waiting on these. Leta snatched up the small square panel at once, her eyes flying over the numbers and data until her throat burned with relief and shock.

Recovery, she thought, swiping her eyes with the corner of her sleeve. Exhaling and smiling shakily, Leta slid the device back into her pocket, satisfied she wouldn’t have to look at it very often anymore.

Rather than retire to her quarters for the night, Leta found herself pushing to her feet and hurrying upstairs to the command deck until she paused outside a familiar rusty hatch of a door. She knew it was stupid to wake Fiearius, but she couldn’t help it — she had to tell someone her news. Her mind was buzzing. And he had been invested in this, too.

As she stepped up the ladder, knocked once on the door and then opened the hatch to unapologetically slip through, it occurred to her that she’d never been inside Fiearius’ room before. Standing there in the darkness, it was difficult to see much, but already she saw the captain’s quarters were easily three times the size of other rooms.

It was also a mess. Of course. Nothing about Fiearius was neat and orderly.

Stepping over a pile of dirty, blood-stained clothes, Leta glanced curiously over a shelf of what looked like souvenirs and postcards from all over the span. An array of assault rifles leaned against one wall beneath it — he had his own weapons locker up here, it seemed. There was even, amusingly enough, a few cook books scattered across the floor.

Looking up, she realized with a start that she’d approached Fiearius’ large square bed. For a moment — a moment no one could see, thank the gods — her gaze softened at the sight of the man sprawled on his stomach in the middle of the mattress, asleep on his arm. The bare slope of his back was rising and falling slowly in the sliver of light from the picture window in the ceiling. Certainly, this was the quietest she’d ever seen him.

Then, with an abrupt snap back to her usual manner, she kicked the side of his bed.

“Hey. Hey, Fiear. Wake up.”

He mumbled something into his pillow, but didn’t move. Leta tried again, more loudly. “Fiear!” She yanked on the edge of the blanket. “Fiearius. Wake up.”

This time, he stirred, blinking his eyes slowly. Then, in a flash, he bolted upright and his hand shot to the side to retrieve something — a gun, Leta realized a moment too late — off the nightstand.

Before Leta could even finish her yelp of alarm, he locked eyes with her, awoke fully and dropped the gun in his lap.

What?” he moaned,  pulling a hand down his face. “What do you want?”

“Do you always sleep with a gun next to your bed?” Leta cried, her heart still pounding. “Is that thing loaded –? You could’ve just killed — ! I, fuck, never mind. Suppose I should know better than to wake up a pirate … “ Catching her heaving breath, Leta steadied herself. He was staring hard at her, so she hurried on, “Right, well. I just thought you’d like to know … that my fever broke a few hours ago. I’m in recovery.” Her hands wrung together, suddenly feeling like she might explode with the news. “The treatment is working.”

She wasn’t sure what kind of response she was expecting — this was the best news of her life, after all — but Fiearius barely reacted.

“Great,” he grunted and seized the edge of the sheet, getting comfortable again.

“So I’m not dying now.” Leta watched as he laid down and settled back in the bed. “Probably.”

“Well I should hope not.”

Leta rolled her eyes. She should have expected this.

“So thanks. For the help. I can really sense your relief,” she muttered, turning around to leave the room. But she only made it a few steps before she slowed, curiosity halting her in place.

“Why did Dez give you the medicine anyway?” she asked, pausing a few feet from the bed now. “You didn’t even give him anything in turn. What did he mean, ‘other arrangements?’”

Fiearius went very still in the bed. Silence enveloped the room. But just when Leta was wondering if he’d already fallen back asleep, Fiearius suddenly pushed the sheet aside and stared at the ceiling.

“I don’t know,” he grumbled at last rolling over to face away from her. “Whatever. You got the shit you needed. Doesn’t matter.”

“Doesn’t it matter? You were panicked earlier.”

He turned his head a few degrees back towards her, his eyes narrowed in annoyance. Gradually though, his face softened and he let out a hefty sigh. To her surprise, he pushed himself up onto his elbows. “It doesn’t mean anything good.” He dug his fingers through his hair and didn’t look at all as appeased as his tone implied. “He wouldn’t give up an opportunity to drag me back to Satieri unless he’s playing a longer game…”

“Well, you got away once again.”

“Yeah. And we got the stuff,” A frown darkened his face, but then he seemed to brush it off and he looked up at her.  “Which you said worked out then, huh?” he asked. “The medicine?”

She sighed. “Seems I live to fight another day.”

“Good.” Genuine relief touched his voice. “At least there’s that…” He fell silent for an uneasy pause and again Leta debated whether or not she should leave, but then, he spoke again.

“Well great,” he declared abruptly. “Now I’m too worried Dez is gonna be back to murder me any second in my sleep,” he remarked matter-of-factly and then looked up at her. “And you’re not dying anymore.” Without explanation, he shifted over to the side of the bed and reached his hand down underneath it. He rustled in whatever mess lay there for a moment before he pulled out a bottle that he held aloft. “So how about an insomniac celebratory drink? On me.”

Leta watched in amazement as he uncorked the bottle and tilted it toward his mouth, wincing as he drank. “You keep liquor beneath your bed?” she demanded. “I thought I was the only one. Didn’t you reprimand me for keeping alcohol in the infirmary?”

Fiearius raised a brow at her and waved the bottle in the air. “So that’s a yes.”

Leta rolled her eyes to the side, but agreeably seized the bottle.

“So,” said Fiearius briskly, apparently wide-awake now. He leaned back on one hand and got comfortable. “Know any drinking games?”

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