“Look, I’m quite versed on how dumb it was, alright? Hindsight’s 20/20,” he said, fighting to keep himself from snapping. “And I wanted to tell you! I almost did, just–”
“Just, I knew you’d react like this!” he finished with a yell that surprised them all.
He knew he’d said the wrong thing when Leta’s eyes flashed and then, abruptly, she turned around and stalked down the hallway.
“Where are you going?” he called, growling his frustration. He did not hesitate in following after her, his footsteps pounding down the hallway, but she didn’t look back. “I didn’t want to upset you! It was my problem to fix, not yours!”
“And are you fixing it? Are you?” She shot him an icy glare. “How well is that working out for you?”
“Well, it’s–” He stammered and then frowned. “Fine. It’s not. I couldn’t do it. I failed. Is that what you want to hear? I screwed up. But I’m fixing it now, and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. It was a mistake, but I’m trying to make it right. Please believe me, I didn’t mean to lie to you.”
When she only scoffed in disbelief, he reached for her arm, but she yanked it away. Groaning, he stopped and barked, “Would you fucking stop and just talk to me?!”
When she stopped abruptly and regarded him closely in icy silence, he thought he might’ve won a piece of her back. At the very least, her expression was less hardened. Softer. Sadder. He could still fix this, he thought, his heart hammering against his ribcage.
But then she asked, “Who else knows?”
It was, quite possibly, one of the worst questions she could’ve asked. His heart sank.
“Dez knows, of course,” he said, his voice heavy. “And Daelen found out just a few days back. I talked to Cyrus about it ten minutes ago.” He took a deep breath. “And I told Finn.”
Leta blinked slowly. He knew she was experiencing another wave of shock. “You told Finn and not me,” she said at last, voice shaking. “You’ve been putting your trust in Dez, Daelen, Finn, and not me?”
“No, of course I trust you, you know that I do, but–” Fiearius shook his head. “There are some things I can’t trust you with.”
“Excuse me?” she flared. “What the hell does that mean?”
It meant he’d made a mistake. A big one. He knew he should have backpedaled. He should have apologized and made an excuse and pretend he hadn’t meant it. But as he stood there, watching her slip from his grasp with each passing second, he felt cornered and he started to feel not sorry but panicked and — worse — angry. So he did the opposite.
“You know what it means,” he snapped, throwing a hand in the air in frustration. “Because you’ve always been like this! I have to walk on fucking eggshells around you because gods forbid I do one thing that doesn’t fit into your perfect narrow vision of what’s ‘good’ and ‘right.’ Of course I can’t tell you some things.”
“Narrow vision of — wait, are you trying to argue that lying was the right thing to do?”
“No! No, not–That’s not what I’m talking about!”
“Then what are you talking about? How I don’t like it when you murder people for a quick credit? Or steal from innocent people? Or how I pushed you toward doing something good instead of selling guns to low-lifes?”
“See, this is exactly what I’m–Look, my number one priority is keeping my crew alive and my ship in the air and I have always done whatever it takes to make that happen. And then you show up with your moral high ground–”
“Moral high ground?! Are you–”
“–and I have to compromise everything just to make you happy. I used to think that being around you would make me a better person. The kind of person that you would approve of. But you know what I think now? It’s just made me better at pretending to be.”
“Apparently,” she breathed, her eyes narrowed to slits. “Certainly had me fooled for long enough.”
Fiearius almost laughed. Almost. “I was never good enough for you, was I? What was this? Just a ‘fuck you’ to your ex? To your father? Or was I a failed fixer-upper experiment? Why the fuck are you even with me?”
Leta fixed him with one long, hard glare, then turned away. When she started storming off, he could not say he was surprised.
“Shit,” he muttered as the full error of his actions became more clear. Foolish as it was, he started following after her again. Her feet pounded down the stairs, all the way through the cargo bay and down the ramp. For a moment he had no idea where she could be headed, but then he realized, she was headed toward safety: the Beacon.
“Leta!” he called, just as she stalked up the Beacon’s ramp. “Leta, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean–Please, listen to me — ” he begged, but all she said was, her voice ice cold, “Leave me alone, Fiearius.”
Clenching his jaw, Fiearius paused only for a moment before starting after her. He did not make it far. Just when he headed toward a set of metal stairs, Corra cut in front of him, her hands on his hips.
“I think she said to leave her alone,” Corra snapped. Fiearius groaned. Just what he needed. A best friend intervention.
“Out of the way Corra,” he grumbled, attempting to edge around her, but suddenly he heard a familiar metallic clunk. A gun was staring him in the face, locked in Corra’s hand. Fiearius staggered a few steps back. “What’re you–”
“She said to leave her alone,” Corra growled again. “Maybe you should do that.”
Stunned, Fiearius looked from her face to the gun and back again. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Get off my ship,” she barked.
“Corra I–I just need to talk to her,” he tried to reason.
“Well clearly she doesn’t want to talk to you.”
“You don’t even know what the hell is going on!”
“I don’t care. She said to go, you go. Seems pretty simple to me.” Corra tilted her head and lifted her brows, patiently waiting for him to move. He didn’t. He wouldn’t. This was stupid. He just needed to talk to her, he could fix this if Corra would just get out of his way.
But she didn’t seem likely to. “Get. Off. Of my ship, Fiearius,” Corra snapped, speaking slowly like he was a child. “Just turn right around and go.” When he didn’t budge, she rolled her eyes. “Don’t make me shoot you again, Fiear, you know I will.”
Getting shot hardly seemed like the largest of his worries right now. “I’m not leaving,” he informed her.
Corra sighed. “Fine. We’ll do this the hard way.” She cocked her gun and pointed it at his shoulder. “Where do you want it? I’m thinkin’ arm area so you can still walk out of here, but it’s up to you.”
The voice came from behind them. It was Cyrus, marching up the Beacon’s ramp. He was coming to Fiearius’ aid, but he could not have looked less pleased about it. “Please don’t, he’s already fucked up enough as it is without a bullet in him,” he muttered, refusing to even glance at his brother.
Corra cast Cyrus a wary look. “Do I need to kick you out too or…?”
“Nope, as usual, I am an innocent bystander in my brother’s mess,” Cyrus answered. “Where did she go?”
Corra nodded her head in the direction Leta had fled and Cyrus headed off again. For the first time, Fiearius felt a small glimmer of hope. “Talk some sense into her, Cy,” he called after him, pleading in his voice. “Please.”
But Cyrus did not look back as he disappeared down the hallway.
– – – – – –