The infirmary lay still and quiet that afternoon, entirely empty save for the one person who had taken up near-permanent residence in the bed. Fiearius slouched back against the pillows, his eyes closed. He was somewhere between awake and dreaming, though he hadn’t felt rested in over a month …
Then, through the fog of his sleep, he heard distant voices near the doorway. Probably it was Leta, another visit from his ever-diligent doctor. In a hoarse voice, he muttered, “Please, for the love of the gods, not another walking lesson,” and gingerly opened his eyes.
But it wasn’t Leta at the foot of his bed. It was Cyrus, looking apologetic, and at his side — of all people — stood Dez.
“What the hell is he doing here?” said Fiearius at once, snapping awake. Leta had told him Dez was locked in the brig, where he should have stayed. Until he rotted. But for some reason, here he was: Dez stood there patiently, silent and hollow as a statue.
“He’s been demanding I let him see you since we left Satieri,” said Cyrus bitterly, casting Dez a look of disgust. “He won’t tell us why. He’ll only talk to you. I didn’t want to. But…now that you’re cognizant, I figured you could make your own choice on that.”
Exhausted and weak as he was from hours of unsettled sleep, Fiearius suddenly felt rage building in his chest. Dez’s cold stare, his expressionless eyes, the way he just stood there over him as though he’d been invited. It made his fists clench around around his sheets in anger.
“Get out,” he growled.
Dez barely blinked. “Fiearius.” His voice was sharp and cold. “Listen to me. I can help your recovery.”
Fiearius could feel his calm slipping from him. “Get. Out.”
“You heard him,” Cyrus snapped, taking Dez’s arm to steer him toward the door, but still Dez stood like a boulder.
“This is vitally important. I can help.”
“I don’t want your fucking help,” Fiearius snapped. “I don’t need your fucking help.”
“You do,” Dez corrected coldly, a faint lift to his brow. “You certainly do. Because they’re not getting any better are they? The hallucinations.”
Even Cyrus paused, letting his arm fall as he glanced between Fiearius and Dez curiously.
“Let me guess,” Dez went on lightly. “You can’t focus. You get lost. You forget yourself and where you are. I know the symptoms. And I know how to fix it.”
A beat of uncomfortable silence passed. But then Fiearius laughed.
“But you can’t just tell Cy how to fix? You can’t tell the doctor? You can only tell me, for some reason. Yeah, okay, that’s not suspicious at all.”
“I don’t trust them,” Dez said simply.
“Well I don’t fucking trust you. So that’s that.” He nodded toward the door, and Cyrus made to pull Dez away again, but Dez shook him off in one motion, entirely unphased.
“You can’t blame me for what happened to you,” he said, his voice calm as water. “You walked onto the Baltimore, Fiearius. I don’t know what you expected. If anything, you should be thanking me for saving you from your suicidal idiocy.”
“Oh yeah, thanks,” Fiearius snapped. “Thanks for crippling me and submitting me to crazy juice and 48 hours of ‘people you may or may not have killed’ mix tapes. I’m so grateful.”
Dez dulled his stare, as if he were humoring a child. “I also killed the man who was going to kill you. And I saved your brother. And the girl.”
Fiearius shook his head, a bitter grin on his face. “That doesn’t even make us close to even.”
“Oh? Pulling you and your crew out of certain death situations is nothing, hm?”
“No.” The smirk dropped off his face. “You can never. Never. Make up for what you did.”
Dez exhaled tightly through his nose.
“I know what you think I did,” he said after a moment’s thoughtful pause. “But it isn’t true. I didn’t kill Aela.”
Suddenly, Fiearius felt his stomach drop in shock. No one said his wife’s name aloud. Cyrus knew it and asked about her on a few occasions. Oddly enough, Leta knew of her too; they’d talked about her once.
But no one else. No one else was permitted to. All at once, anger roiled through him and he almost had enough energy to leap out of bed. “You — you have the gall to deny it to my face?”
In the corner of his eye, he could see Cyrus reeling, distress and confusion on his face. “Fiear, I thought–you said Aela–what are you talking about?”
“You remember that night in the warehouse, don’t you? Don’t you Dez?” Fiearius was talking madly now, his heart racing. “Seemed like just a regular job, didn’t it? I got the message, same as always. Except you weren’t on it. And it wasn’t a job.” He raised his brows. “It was an execution.”
“But here’s the thing,” he went on hoarsely, talking over Dez. “The thing that just didn’t quite make sense. The thing that kept me up at night for months after the fact. There were four people in that warehouse. Four people with two guns. Four people. Two guns. Three gunshots.” He tilted his head and made the shape of a pistol with his hand. “I shot the Verdant.” He mimicked it with his hand. “The Verdant–” he words choked in his throat, “shot my son.” His eyes narrowed on Dez. “And you. You shot my wife.”
Dez’s stare was empty. “No. I didn’t. I wasn’t even there.”
“Bullshit,” Fiearius spat. “You were there. You were the only one who knew where I was.”
“Was I?” he mused. “What about the agent who sent you the message? The director who gave that agent the go-ahead? The Council themselves? I wasn’t the only one and it wasn’t me.” When Fiearius did nothing but glare at him, he went on, “Why would I kill Aela? True, we never got along, but I wouldn’t murder her. We had our issues, but I never wanted her dead. So no. I didn’t kill your wife.”
“I don’t believe you,” Fiearius growled.
Dez released a sigh, as if this were all a big misunderstanding. “I don’t need you to believe me, Fiearius. All that–it’s in the past. What we need to talk about is the present. About you getting better.”
Fiearius scoffed and threw his head back against the pillows. “Why do you even give a shit?”
“Because I need you alive and well if we’re going to take on the Council.”
At that, Fiearius could only stare. He couldn’t believe his ears. His jaw unhinged and he let out a crazed laugh.
“Take on the Council? What the fuck are you talking about?” He shook his head. “And I thought I’d lost it. Get the fuck out of here, Dez. Now.”
As Cyrus warily moved to push him again, Dez’s glare deepened and he suddenly seized the edge of the bed. “Aren’t you tired of hobbling back and forth down here? Of losing yourself in memories that aren’t even yours? You won’t get better on your own, Fiearius. You can’t.”
“Fine, go on then,” Fiearius grunted. “Enlighten me. What is this wonderful miracle cure of yours? What is it you think I need to make all of this just…magically go away?”
Dez’s eyes flicked to Cyrus, as if willing him out of the room. Then he looked back to Fiearius.
Now, Fiearius was truly certain this was all a joke. Flush — the amphetamine the Society had all their Internal Affairs agents addicted to? Those small innocuous pills that swept away all feelings of doubt, pain, fear, remorse — and turned a person into a merciless machine.
Cyrus knitted his brow in confusion. “Flush?” he repeated blankly, and of course he had no idea what it was — why would he? Cyrus had been off living a normal life at a 9-5 job when Fiearius was tied up in that drug.
“I’ve seen it work, Fiearius,” Dez went on, ignoring Cyrus. “A small dosage will stop your hallucinations. And you know it will get you back on your feet.”
Fiearius couldn’t contain his deranged laughter. “What the hell are you talking about? That shit is poison.”
Fiearius hadn’t touched Flush in nearly ten years, but he remembered the effects vividly: it was a high like no other. Pure adrenaline, a rush of blind, painless euphoria; you were invincible and you would do whatever crazed stunt was asked of you, you would pull any trigger of any gun that was put in your hands. And you would do it happily.
Just as vividly, Fiearius remembered what Flush did over time. No person could handle long-term dosage. The withdrawal would kill you if the seizures didn’t first. Flush was no cure: it was a slow suicide.
And like hell Fiearius would accept more Society puppetry. He shook his head, gritting his teeth, laughing and angered all at once. “Oh you piece of shit. You ia’ne ti ordien a’la…”
“You need to focus, it will help you focus,” Dez cut in sharply. “This won’t stop on its own, Fiearius. You need something to combat it. Flush is your only option. I have enough for the next month and I know where to get more.”
“I don’t fucking need it,” he spat. “Do you not remember the utter hell I went through to get off of it? And you fucking dare bring it up to me?! I will never — “
“It will keep you from a life wasting away in this infirmary,” said Dez, and that was when Fiearius decided he wouldn’t take any more.
“Get the fuck out,” he growled. “Get the fuck out of here, Dez.”
Cyrus looked shell-shocked by the conversation. At last, Dez took a calm step backwards.
“Fine,” he replied, turning towards the door. “But when you change your mind, you know where to find me.”
“I won’t,” Fiearius growled. “I won’t change my mind.”
Breathing hard, he watched as Cyrus escorted Dez back to the hallway. But then Cyrus came to an awkward halt in the doorway, looking thunderstruck.
“Are you…okay?” he asked quietly, eyes wide behind his glasses. “And what the hell is Flush?”
But Fiearius couldn’t even bring himself to explain. He only shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, Cy…Just…take him back to the brig and tell Corra she can shoot him if she wants.” He leaned back against his pillows, suddenly as exhausted as if he’d just run twenty miles. “If I never have to look at him again, it’ll be too fucking soon.”
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