“It had to be me, Cy. No one else could’ve made it to Vescent undetected.” Addy hesistated. Then she said, “And besides, all of you are so brave. Leta and Fiearius, standing up for what they believe in. Corra, running her own ship. Seeing them …” A smile wavered past her face. “I guess I wanted to be brave, too. Sometimes it feels like — like I’ve always taken the safe route.”
“Safe route?” Cyrus repeated. “Addy, you fled Satieri, that’s hardly a safe route.”
“I didn’t have a choice in that. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay on Satieri and go to school and work on ships. When my dad told me I had to go, I screamed at him, Cy because it wasn’t what I wanted. I was horribly selfish. I still am.”
“Well, yeah,” Cyrus muttered, unsure. “But still–”
“And maybe you are too,” Addy went on, ignoring him. “Maybe you’ve done some selfish things, we all have. What happened on Vescent, that was bad, but you didn’t just do it for you, you did it for us. For me and for Leta. And you want to talk about selfless acts? Didn’t you go to Satieri to save your brother when he was captured? How is that any different?”
“It’s totally different,” he argued. “I wasn’t alone, for starters. And I–I was afraid of what would happen to me without him.”
Addy scoffed. “That’s not true. I know that’s not true.” She cupped his cheeks in her hands. “Cyrus, you are brave and courageous and caring and I’ve seen firsthand what you’ll do for those you love. You’ve made some hard choices, we all have. But you are not selfish. And you are not rude. And that Delia woman can shove it.”
Cyrus could do nothing but stare at her in wonder and disbelief. No one had ever told him anything quite like that before. But as passionate and convicted as she sounded, the first thing he was able to utter was, “Okay, but–”
Addy groaned, dropping her hands from his face and slumping her head in defeat.
“No, listen, it’s not that,” Cyrus tried to argue, but she no longer seemed to be listening.
Instead, she was getting out of bed. He sat up too, watching as Addy moved her feet to the floor and stood up, planting her hands on her hips, as he went on, “Addy, look. Those things I did, the good things, they were just–”
Cyrus blinked as Addy abruptly grabbed the bottom hem of her tank top and started to lift it over her head, revealing the bare skin of her stomach and chest. “–well they were–” And then, she tossed the piece of clothing aside. “– they were — “
Cyrus forgot his words entirely as his mouth dropped open. He sat on the edge of her bed, drinking in the sight of her fair naked skin as he choked, “What are you–?”
“Oh, now I have your attention,” she said, smirking with the corner of her mouth. “Cyrus. Listen to me. You are a good person. A kind person. A brave person. Okay?”
Cyrus’ eyes flicked up to her face, with some difficulty. “But–”
“Okay?” she stressed again, and this time he mustered a small, weak nod.
“Good.” Addy grinned. Then she leaned down, placed her palms on his shoulders and kissed him so heatedly that Cyrus forgot that he’d been upset at all. Or that being upset was ever a possibility. What could he ever be upset about, really, when Addy was here, nearly naked, kissing him and now lowering to sit on his lap?
“Wait,” he muttered, but without much conviction. “I thought we were taking it slow?”
“We were,” Addy said softly, hooking her fingers around the collar of his shirt. “But then you nearly got yourself killed. And now I want to take it a little faster.”
Cyrus couldn’t agree more. He didn’t argue. Instead, he pressed his lips to hers, put his hands on her hips and drew her gently to his lap.
In the darkness of Fiearius’ bedroom, Leta stared at the ceiling, wide-awake and alert as if it were the middle of the day. She felt like crawling the walls, but she took to staring at them instead, as Fiearius slept with his arm thrown over her hip. She could feel the slow inhale and exhale of his breath as she twisted her legs around the sheets. She turned to her side, then to her other side, then to her back …
But sleep would not claim her. She couldn’t even keep her eyes closed. Just when she was considering getting up entirely, Fiearius spoke against her neck.
“You alright?” he muttered. His voice was muffled, but he sounded awake. He’d woken her up like this a thousand times before (usually for one reason in particular … ) but this time, he seemed to understand. “Can’t sleep?”
“I don’t know why,” she admitted, pinching the bridge of her nose with two fingers. “I should be exhausted.”
But she could not stop her mind from reeling. Images of Vescent kept flashing past her eyes. Fiearius must have sensed her unease, because he sat up on his elbows.
“Well,” he sighed, “we could go for a walk if you’d like? Always helps me. Fresh air does a person good. Or I can make you something to eat? How about a mind-numbing game? Alternatively,” he grinned in the darkness, “plenty of physical activity we could do right here.” He patted the bed with his hand. “Take your pick.”
Leta rolled onto her back and pulled the corners of her lips into a faint, agreeable smirk. The truth was — and she had no desire to share this with Fiearius — that she was a little weary of what would happen if they became intimate already. After what had happened on the dock of the Dionysian when they’d been reunited (she’d actually physically pushed him away, how was that possible?), she was worried being too close would trigger — well, whatever that incident had been. She truly had no idea. And it was only part of the reason why she could not find sleep.
Her smirk thinned from her face, but not out of any sort of displeasure. “Actually – a walk would be nice,” she answered, hoping those words were true, as she sat up and slid her legs toward the edge of the bed. Maybe it would help stem some of her roiling energy. Maybe it would quiet her mind.
She hoped so, at least, as they descended the Dionysian’s open ramp together ten minutes later. Outside, the evening air was pleasantly chilly, and the city lay in silence at this hour of the night.
They began to half-walk, half-wander through the empty cobblestone streets and admire the tall darkened buildings, hand-in-hand. Comfortable silence hung between them, until Leta said, “Maybe — I’m just not used to being back on the Dionysian yet.” It was the first words either of them had spoken in several minutes. “Maybe that’s why I can’t sleep. I mean, I was sharing a bed with your brother before, after all.”
“Don’t remind me,” Fiearius snorted.
Leta gave his hand a small, playful swing, trying to brighten her own spirits. “So, are you going to tell me everything I missed while I was gone on my vacation?”
“Vacation?” Fiearius repeated. “Is that what we’re calling it now?”
“I’m trying to keep things light.”
He shrugged his acceptance. “Not sure I really want to say what you missed. Hardly my proudest moments…Though I will tell you that you missed out on Corra nearly shooting me in the head when she found out Addy was gone.”
“Corra — she — what?” Leta sputtered. “Was she trying to miss?”
“That, or her accuracy’s going bad.” He grimaced. “Hoping it’s the former…” A concerned frown came over him, but he shrugged it off and squeezed her hand tighter. “Anyway, I’m just glad you’re back. Both of you. All three of you.”
They slowed to a stop, pausing on the edge of a dock that overlooked water. The wind picked up, tossing Leta’s hair over her face as she stared at the lapping waves.
“It doesn’t — really feel like I’m back,” she said at last. “It feels like when I wake up tomorrow, I’ll still be trapped in Delia’s apartment.”
She could feel him watching her.
“Vescent is nothing like it was, Fiear,” she went on, turning towards him. “It didn’t feel like home at all. And I saw them execute someone in the street.”
She spoke rather plainly — after all, this was Fiearius, who had seen his fair share of horror and bloodshed. If anyone could handle this mental image, it was him. It was part of why she felt so comfortable with him in the past few hours. That familiar magnetic draw pulled her in, and when he wasn’t at her side, she found herself missing his company, seeking him out.
She could not say the same for the rest of the crew. Amora, Rhys, Finn, even Corra — Leta found every single person to be jarring, noisy. She felt too jumpy and unnerved to spend more than five minutes with anyone but Fiearius, who seemed to understand that she had been favoring the quiet.
“You’ll feel back to normal soon enough,” he answered easily. “Give it time. The dust will settle.”
Leta rubbed her palms together, a gesture of nerves. Her eyes grew distant as she added, “I don’t know what they did to me, Fiear, but it’s making me feel crazy. Like what I did when I saw you the first time — ” She flashed him a look of apology. “Gods, I’m sorry.”
“Hey, s’okay,” he said at once, taking her hands in his and pulling her closer. “It’s just a reaction, I know that. It’s just hard to tell reality from fiction with that shit…I get it. Trust me, I get it…”
Abruptly, the line of Fiearius’ sight shifted; he was staring at something over her head.
“You know what might help you?” he asked suddenly. “A change of scenery. No cramped ship hallways, no cluttered quarters, someplace actually clean. Something entirely different than what you’re used to. Y’think?”
Leta followed his line of vision and realized he was looking at a tall illuminated building, glowing invitingly. The sign boasted it as a beachfront resort.
“Wait — really? You’re saying we should get a hotel room?” said Leta wondrously. She was certain no one on the Dionysian stayed in hotels. Or even motels. The crew was more likely to pass out on the street curb.
“And how, exactly, do you expect to pay for it?” she demanded. “Or did you pick up an extra job while I was on that vacation?”
“I have my ways. How about it?”
She had to admit there was something terribly tempting about the idea. In a clean hotel room, Vescent wouldn’t exist. There’d be no reminders of the Society.
And so, after stalling on the street for a moment, Leta shrugged one shoulder and turned for the building.
“If this is just an act to seduce me … ” she trailed off warningly.
“Me? Try to seduce you? What in the span are you on about?” He slipped his arm around her waist. “Unless you’d like me to, in which case, yes.”
In the lobby of the hotel, Leta could not contain her amazement as she watched Fiearius speak with the clerk behind the desk. Fiearius scanned a CID, the man handed him a set of keys, and suddenly Leta found herself walking with him down a long, lushly carpeted hallway.
She could not imagine how Fiearius was paying to stay even one night in a place so elegant. But then, when they reached the elevator, the clerk called out, “Have a good night, Mr. Riley,” to which Leta blinked.
“What did he just say?” she hissed as the elevator doors dinged open. “Did he just call you Riley? As in Finnegan Riley? Did you — did you steal Finn’s bank account?”
Fiearius’ grin was wider than the Dionysian. “You must be hearing things, I’ve no idea what you mean.”
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