Despite himself, Cyrus was just intrigued enough not to look away as Leta smiled at him kindly, touched his elbow once and walked away towards the crew quarters. Fiearius watched her leave, running his other hand through his hair — a gesture of unease, Cyrus was sure. Then Fiearius turned towards the kitchen.
Out of instinct, Cyrus was prepared to duck back inside to pretend he was still washing dishes, but Addy did just the opposite. She stepped out into the dining room and put her hands on her hips. Fiearius froze and regarded her suspiciously, likely bracing himself for whatever she was about to accuse him of.
“So you two back together finally?” she asked cheerfully, which made Fiearius laugh, but after a too-long pause.
“What? No. No of course not. The hell would you think that for?”
“Really?” Cyrus couldn’t help but ask. “Really?”
Delayed as it may have been, Fiearius’ typical attitude kicked in. He rolled his eyes dramatically and remarked, “You two don’t have anything better to do than eavesdrop on me? How about you, I don’t know, take care of your daughter maybe?”
“She’s in bed,” Addy answered simply. “Did you sleep together again?”
Cyrus did a double take. “Again?”
Fiearius just glared at her. “No. Just–How is this any of your business?”
“Because you’re family and I care about your emotional well-being?” She nodded towards the crew quarters. “And Leta’s.”
“Our emotional well-beings are fine.” Fiearius forced an unpleasant smile. “Can we not please?”
“You can’t ignore this forever, you know,” said Addy wisely. “Is she staying on the ship? Because that’s really going to–”
“Here’s an idea,” Fiearius said suddenly, stalking forward and pushing past them into the kitchen. He opened the fridge, peered inside and then pulled out the leftovers Addy had just put there. “Let’s talk about something else,” he suggested cheerfully, pulling a fork from the drawer. “Like where the hell I’m dropping you lot off.”
Happy for the change of subject himself, Cyrus answered, “Home?”
Addy cast him a bit of a scolding glance, but she released a sigh as Fiearius walked between them again and back into the mess hall with his food.
“I was actually thinking we should stop by Azbel to visit Eriaas while we’re in the neighborhood,” she said.
Now it was Cyrus’ turn to groan. He sat down at the table beside his sibling and grumbled, “I can’t stand that guy.”
“I know, but he’s been a useful investor for New Genisi so far and we’ll need his support in the next phase,” Addy explained, dropping into a chair too. “And you know as well as I it takes an actual visit to lock things in with him.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Cyrus agreed, feeling pretty grim about the idea. “What about Kalli though?”
“I’m sure she can behave herself for one meeting, then we’ll catch a ship back to Archeti right after,” Addy said absently. To Fiearius, she asked, “How far is Azbel from where we’re at?”
“I can have you there by tomorrow afternoon,” he promised with a shrug, mouth half full. “It’s close to where we’re dropping off Ren anyway.”
“Perfect,” Cyrus muttered, the opposite of enthralled. But Addy was right, of course, as always, so he couldn’t exactly argue. Instead, he glanced over at his brother. “And you’re…headed to where?”
Fiearius’ jaw tightened and he tilted his head. He didn’t answer and Cyrus got the hint. “Can’t tell, got it.”
“Sorry, Cy, it’s just better if you don’t know,” Fiearius explained.
“I get it. Don’t want to get in the way of your assassin-ing.” He waved his hand vaguely in the air while Fiearius regarded him with a bit of a guarded frown. Cyrus looked over at him, feeling a spike of irritation he couldn’t quite explain. The very thought of Fiearius’ colorful employment history had always set him a bit on edge, but it was something more than that which lead him to say, “I thought you were done doing that, by the way.”
By the look on Fiearius’ face, he had at least partially been expecting this. “We’re really gonna go through this again?” he asked, a touch impatient.
Truth be told, it was a conversation they’d had a number of times before over a span of many years. When they’d fled Satieri nearly a decade ago, Cyrus had been appalled to learn what his older brother had been up to in his absence: killing people. Professionally. And while Fiearius had initially agreed and promised to give it up, it always seemed to go back to that. There was always an excuse. They needed money, it was a good connection, no one would miss them, and now this.
Still, Cyrus should have dropped the matter. Of all of Fiearius’ excuses to murder, this was probably the best he’d had to date. But for some reason, he couldn’t stop himself. “I just thought you were tired of people ordering you around to do their dirty work.”
Fiearius’ eyes narrowed and Cyrus felt Addy tense at his side.
“Alright,” Fiearius said shortly, standing up from the table. “We’re not doing this.”
“But you are doing it,” Cyrus countered without skipping a beat. “You’re doing all of it. Carthis tells you to run, you run, they tell you to jump, you jump, they tell you to assassinate high-level government officials?”
“Carthis didn’t tell me to–” Fiearius began, his fist noticeably clenching at his side. “This was my plan. My decision.”
“Was it?” Cyrus asked, feeling bitterness rise. “Was any of this your plan? Really?”
“The hell are you saying?” Fiearius demanded.
“I’m saying we’re five years into a war that’s starting to look a little pointless, don’t you think?”
Fiearius barked his usual dog-like laugh. “Pointless? Pointless?!”
“Cyrus — “ said Addy quietly, but Cyrus continued on, “Yeah, pointless. What good has come of all this? Honestly?”
“We’ve chased the Society out of 50% of their strongholds,” Fiearius growled. “We’ve liberated a handful of planets from their grip. We’ve freed countless people–”
“And then what? Put them directly under Carthis’ thumb?” Cyrus pointed out with a grim laugh. “For the gods’ sakes, Fiear, you were just on Vescent. You saw what I saw. And you really believe what’s happening is right?”
“No!” Fiearius snapped, “Of course I fucking don’t, but I’d take Carthis over the Society any day.”
“Of course.” Cyrus rolled his eyes. “Because Carthis at least gives you the illusion that you’re more than just a tool to them.”
Fiearius opened his mouth, a bitter argument already on his lips, but he hesitated.
“Face it,” Cyrus went on, unafraid. “You’ve spent all this time fighting the Society for them and when it’s all over? If it’s ever over?” He lifted his hands in defeat. “The Span’s just got a new overlord to deal with and is practically no better off than it was before.”
He expected Fiearius to argue. Or perhaps hit him. But his brother’s jaw was clenched shut. His eyes were fixed on Cyrus, ablaze with fury, but he made no motion to act or speak.
Feeling a little hesitant himself now, Cyrus continued, “You’re never gonna be done fighting this, y’know. And–”