Before he could talk himself out of it, he said, “Actually. There’s something else. Something he said. That was…weird.”
“You should sit down,” he heard himself mumble. He put his hand on the curve of her shoulder and joined her on the edge of the bed.
“I don’t really know what this means,” he went on, trying to meet her gaze, which was boring straight into his face. “And I don’t know if it’s true, but I think you should hear it. Despite your father thinking otherwise.” His inhaled a deep breath. “He said he would never work for the Society again. Not after what they’ve threatened to do to you. And…what they did to your mother.”
Silence descended between them. Then Leta gave a horrible, sharp laugh. “What? My mom?”
“That’s…what he said, yeah,” he went on quietly. “I don’t — “
“He said something happened to my mom?” Her voice gave one definite shake. “But that’s not true. It was an accident, that’s how she died.”
“I–I’m not a hundred percent sure of anything, alright? All I know is that he said… “
Leta’s eyes were round and hollow. “That the Society killed her.”
Fiearius shut his mouth tightly. He didn’t have an answer to give.
Then Leta jumped to her feet. “And my dad never told me?” she breathed, her voice panicky as she wrung her hands together. “I can’t believe he — “
“I’m sure he was just trying to protect you.”
Leta spun around, throwing him an ice-cold glare that cut straight through his chest. “Don’t. Don’t defend him. Don’t — “
“I’m not,” he vowed quietly. “Trust me on that. I’m not.”
Leta shoved the heels of her hands into her eyes. “Fiear. This can’t be true. She took the wrong meds is all. There was an autopsy … “
At a Society hospital, Fiearius guessed silently.
Leta seemed to be thinking along the same lines. In a trembling voice, she spit out, “I don’t believe it, I can’t believe this,” and turned back to him, full of questioning.
“Did they really kill her?”
Fiearius stood slowly up to his feet and hazarded a step closer to her, his hand slipping to hold her waist. He could feel her shaking.
“I don’t know,” he said softly. “But if you want … we can find out.”
– – – – – — – – – – — – – – – –
The capital city of Archeti was just as miserable as Corra remembered. Sagging houses, overgrown brown lawns, and sticky humidity thickening the air. Corra walked alongside Finn, kicking aside gravel as they passed rows of rotting porches. Home sweet home, Finn had said cheerfully when they’d arrived.
They’d landed this morning to meet with Callahan. The meeting had gone about as well as she could have hoped for.
She knew Callahan thought nothing of her. Callahan thought Finn owned her. So while they had discussed their next job, Corra had refused to break eye contact, refused to let him think he (or Finn) had power over her. As often as Callahan’s words still burned in the back of her mind, she was determined now. She would prove him wrong.
In spite of it all, Callahan had been quick to reward the Beacon’s captains and offer them another job. A local one this time. Word had gotten out that a nearby Genisian gang lord had acquired a few Satieran frigates. And that Corra and Finn were acquainted with her.
“I want one of those ships,” Callahan had said, leaning back in his barstool. “Do you know how hard it is to get your hands on one of those?” He cast a bemused glance at Corra and she stared back solemnly. Little did he know that she had actually been involved in Quin getting her hands on those.
“I want one,” he said again. “And I’m willing to pay well.”
“Alright, sure,” Finn had said, relaxed and casual as always. “But why ya want us involved? Quin lives on the other side of the city. Why not go straight to her?”
“Unfortunately Ms. Utada and I don’t exactly see eye to eye,” Callahan mused, lifting his drink to his lips and looking up toward the ceiling. “She’s refused to meet with me. But you,” he looked back to Finn and Corra, “have some friends in common, do you not? Go to her. Convince her to make the trade with me. Do whatever it takes. And there’ll be more of that,” he gestured to the case of credits he’d just handed them for the last job, “headed your way.”
That was something that the Beacon couldn’t afford to say no to. So as low of a job as it was, they had accepted and now they were crossing town to pay a visit to Quinida Utada. Not that Corra minded. She’d always rather liked the woman, powerful and intimidating as she was. She had no idea if Quin felt the same.
“Y’think she’s gonna agree to this?” she asked Finn skeptically as she turned the corner, directing them toward Quin’s crumbling apartment building. “If she really doesn’t like Callahan that much? It’s not like we have that much sway with her. She may not even remember us.”
“Who could forget this face?” Finn scoffed, to which Corra snorted.
“A powerful Genisian gang lord, that’s who.”
“Yeah, but who your friends are say a lot about you. Utada trusts Fiear, Fiear trusts us. She’ll agree to hand over the ship.”
Corra had to shake her head in disbelief. “Who knew putting up with Fiearius for four years would be an asset to offer?”
“Hey.” Finn arched his eyebrows at her. His look was warm and inviting. “That’s not the only asset you have to offer.”
Corra couldn’t help it: she whacked him on the arm, but she laughed, too. Leave it to Finn to bring that up in such an elegant way. In fact, they hadn’t mentioned their tryst at all since that night. After it happened, Finn had gathered his clothes, kissed her on the cheek and left. He hadn’t even stayed the night. Exactly how she preferred it.
“I thought we agreed we aren’t bringing that up again,” she pointed out.
“You said I can’t bring it up in front of other people.”
“Right.” Corra slowed to a halt outside of Quin’s building. “And particularly not clients.”
“Good,” she decided promptly. She straightened herself up with importance. “Let’s at least try to be professional here.”
For one full second, they managed composure. Then they caught eyes and they snorted laughter. Professional. Right.
Minutes later, they crested the stair to the top floor of Quin’s building. As they passed through the door, two broad-shouldered men were leaving with their eyes down. Both of them were nursing bloody noses.
Corra exchanged a look of mild alarm with Finn. Well, hopefully Quin would feel more generous toward them …
Inside, Quin was lounging on her sofa, drinking from a clear martini glass and looking disinterested. Nearby, Aeneas — her assistant — was wiping the blood off his hands. Corra knocked on the door. When neither of them looked up, Corra ventured, “Um–Ms. Utada? Is–is this a bad time?”
Quin lifted her eyes slowly. For one horrible moment, she gazed at them with absolutely no recognition in her face. Aeneas lowered the cloth from his hands and eyed them readily.
But finally — thank god —
“Oh I know you,” said Quin, standing and walking towards them. A smile was coming to her face. Despite being no taller than Corra, her presence was nearly toppling. Aeneas relaxed in the background. “You’re one of Soliveré’s, aren’t you? He back here already?”