That, she understood. “You – what? You talked to her?”
“She said I was ‘morally flexible’ enough and–” He rubbed the heels of his palms in his eyes. “Something about Aela? All these things and–” He let out a sharp growl. “Gods, I should have just shot her the moment I saw her…”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I don’t know,” he groaned. “I just–I guess I just wanted to hear it. Whatever it was. I was — gods –” His fingers curled into a fist against his temple. “Curious. Stupidly, foolishly curious. And now — now, there’s all this–” He spread his hands and clenched them on either side of his head. “Stuff. That I can’t stop thinking about.”
The sight of Fiearius in distress was one Leta could rarely take. Perhaps it was his usual air of confidence and bravado that made the alternative all the more upsetting, but regardless, she felt a powerful urge to fix it.
Taking both his wrists in her grip again, she leaned forward to force him to meet her eyes. “Fiear, you must know she just said all those things for this exact reason. She was trying to get into your head.”
“And she succeeded,” he growled.
“Because you’re letting her. All of that — it’s in the past. It’s inconsequential. It can only affect you if you allow it to.”
Fiearius met her stare reluctantly, but she could feel the tension start to relax from his wrists. His features began to soften. And then another voice joined them in the bridge.
“Dr. Adler is right.” It was Dez, hovering in the doorway of the bridge. Without thinking, Leta let go of Fiearius’ hands and tightened her shoulders, though she couldn’t exactly say why. Instinct, perhaps.
“Palano was known for mindgames, Fiearius,” Dez went on. “She may have known her days were numbered, but of course she’d go down swinging in her own manner. You shouldn’t heed a word of it.”
Fiearius frowned up at him, all easiness gone. “Except it could be true,” he growled under his breath.
“And what difference would that make?” Dez asked.
Leta saw it coming as soon as the question was out in the open. “What difference?” Fiearius demanded, rising to his feet. “If Denarian’s murderer is still out there? Makes a huge fucking difference to me.”
“Fiearius, the man was following orders. If things had gone as intended, Denarian would have lived. It was an accident, not murder.”
Leta’s mouth fell open half an inch, but it was nothing in comparison to Fiearius’ reaction. True, she could think of perhaps nothing worse that Dez could have said to a renewed grieving father, but that didn’t make Fiearius’ wide-eyed look of horror and pure rage any less startling.
Whether he realized his mistake or not, Leta wasn’t sure, but Dez quickly added, “We have a larger mission at stake. If we follow our current path you’ll get your revenge regardless.”
The rage was still there, burning under Fiearius’ skin, Leta could see, but there was something else masking it, if only for a moment. Something that looked a lot like suspicion. “What didn’t Aela tell me?” he asked, seemingly out of nowhere.
Desophyles, however, did not appear surprised. “Aela worked for Information, Fiearius. She was a professional liar. I suspect there’s a lot she didn’t tell you.” When Fiearius’s glare only deepened, he added, “And given our relationship, I’m not sure why you’d think there’s more that she’d tell me.”
Fiearius hardly looked appeased, but as he glared at Dez across the room, a suspicion of her own rose in Leta’s mind. Something about Fiearius’ story from earlier came back to her and she asked, “Dez, what happened to Ophelia? Back in the bunker?”
All eyes in the room swung over to her. Fiearius’ anger subsided a little as he muttered, “Yeah. What did happen to her? Is she–” His voice trailed off, but the sideways motion he made with his finger said what he meant just as clearly.
“Ah, no,” Dez answered after a moment. “She got away.”
“And she let you get away?” Fiearius asked at once. “She seemed pretty set on ending you.”
Desophyles just shrugged. “If I could explain Varisian’s actions as of late, I would.”
“But–you know her, don’t you?” Leta said, voice full of challenge. “Fiear told me you took her with you after Fall’s End. For a few months, wasn’t it?” The notion had concerned Leta more than once, although Fiearius had assured her each time it shouldn’t have. For her own sanity, she had chosen to believe him. “Surely you must have garnered something about her from then?”
“At least an idea of why she’s gone off her rocker,” Fiearius agreed.
“In those three months, I talked. And she ignored,” Dez answered. “I know as little about her, her intentions and her sanity as you.”
Leta tried to catch Fiearius’ eye, but he was focused on his fist hanging loosely at his side. Finally, Dez broke the silence. “Now if you don’t mind, Fiearius, I wouldn’t mind returning to my ship. I have people to get back to. As, I’m sure, do you.”
“Right,” was Fiearius’ instant response as he fell back into the pilot’s chair and spun around to face the controls. “I’ll have ya back by noon.”
Leta watched as Dez left the room and listened as his footsteps petered off down the hall. Beside her, Fiearius hit commands on his console until the engine below their feet rumbled to life. They were already a few hundred meters into the sky before Leta broke the silence.
“I don’t trust him, Fiear.”
Fiearius glanced over at her, a tired smirk pulling over his rugged face. “And I don’t trust what you did to my ship.”
It wasn’t the answer she wanted, but Leta couldn’t help but snort a laugh. She reached across the gap between them and whacked him affectionately on the arm before settling back into the chair for the flight.
The Dionysian had been docked to the CORS for a few hours now. Leta had only visited the station sporadically while living on Vescent, but usually for the express purpose of meetings and conferences and long-winded discussions that kept her busy from the moment she arrived to the moment she left. Today, however, she was free to move about as she pleased while Fiearius was off attending whatever business he needed to attend to.
She’d started by calling Gates for an update regarding the clinic and Vescent in general. Then, she took advantage of the CORS’ expansive dining hall. And afterwards, she’d spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with the station’s medical team whom she hadn’t seen in quite some time. Finally, now that the day was drawing to a close, she had settled down on the cargo bay’s upper catwalk to read a book in peace.