Chapter 26: Public Property Pt. 2

Cyrus looked up and nearly jumped when he found Addy suddenly right in front of him, leaning forward on the desk. She had a mischievous smirk on her face. “Just saw you reading so intently over here, thought I might come over and see what was so fascinating.”

Cyrus blinked back at her, unsure if there was something he was missing. “You know what it is, you picked it out for me to go through. And it’s not fascinating. It’s really dull.”

Addy rolled her eyes. Okay he was definitely missing something.

“Just thought I might come over and see what a handsome stranger like you found so fascinating,” she said with more force.

“Ooooh.” Cyrus pointed at her, nodding in understanding. “Got it.” As Addy narrowed her eyes at him impatiently, he cleared his throat and matched her lean on the desk. His lowered his voice an octave or so when he answered, “I’m afraid that’s top secret, miss.”

Addy barely held back a snort of laughter. “You do your top secret research in a public library?”

Cyrus glared at her briefly, but pulled himself back into character and leaned back in his chair casually. “Gotta do what ya gotta do, miss.”

“That so?” she mused, walking slowly around the desk, letting her fingertips drag across the surface as she made her way to his side. She kept her head held high as though admiring the library’s massive overhead windows, but he caught her sneaking a glance at the notebook still laid out in front of him. Dramatically, he snapped it shut and pushed it aside and she let out a ‘hmph’ of indignation.

“Top secret,” Cyrus said again, importantly.

“Right.” She was eying the book again, held beneath his palm. “But it is public property. So surely you wouldn’t…mind…” Cyrus watched her closely, ready to defend the useless book against this imaginary threat. He could see Addy’s fingers twitching in preparation. He pushed the book further out of her reach. “If I read this.”

In a flash, she seized a completely different book from his pile and fled with it.

“Hey!” Cyrus called after her, forgetting for just a moment to keep quiet as he stumbled out of his chair and chased after her all the way into the nearest row of shelves where she was frantically pretending to read what he recognized as a scientific journal dealing with a study of local metal foundries. It was enough to make even the most enthusiastic metal researcher fall asleep. But of course, it was top secret.

He seized her wrist and pulled her towards him, wrenching the book out of her hand, a scolding already on his tongue, but she got there first.

“I knew it!” she exclaimed in an excited whisper, seizing his wrist as well and pulling him even closer. “You’re researching the Transmitter, aren’t you?”

Cyrus gasped and put a hand over her mouth. “Hush, someone might hear.” He glanced over both his shoulders at the empty row of books and then looked back at Addy, his glare narrowed in on her. “How do you know about that?”

“It just so happens,” Addy began, delicately unraveling herself from their tangle of limbs from the succession of dramatic poses, “that I,” — she took two steps away from him and then snapped her head back his way — “am researching it too.”

“No,” Cyrus gasped, stepping after her as she started to walk away. “That’s too big a coincidence.” He grabbed her wrist again and pulled her back towards him. “Who sent you?”

She refused to look back at him, choosing to admire the ceiling insistently. “I can’t say.”

Cyrus growled and gripped her a little tighter. “It doesn’t matter. You know too much. I can’t let you leave here.”

Now, she turned to him with overwrought shock and dismay, sliding her arm out of his grip. “And what do you intend to do with me then?”

Cyrus hadn’t actually thought that far through the story in advance, but he steeled himself and said in utmost seriousness, “Whatever I have to do to keep this intel safe, miss. It’s too important.”

Addy regarded him with suspicion and then skepticism and then, finally, a smile. “I have a proposition for you, my good sir.” She pointed her finger at his face and started to circle around him. The finger trailed across his shoulder and along his back. “Spare my life and I’ll tell you everything I know about the Transmitter.”

“And if you know nothing?”

“Then you can kill me.” She stopped behind him and slid her hands onto his shoulders. Leaning forward, she whispered in his ear, “But I don’t think you’ll need to.”

Cyrus scoffed and shook his head. “Or I can just take care of you and go back to my reading.”

She continued her circle and this time stopped in front of him. “You could do that.”

“But?”

She pressed her palm to his chest and leaned in close. “But then you’ll never find the Transmitter,” and even closer, “Agent Soliveré.”

A third voice suddenly joined the conversation. “Excuse me?”

Cyrus immediately swallowed the line he had on deck (‘how do you know my name?!’) and jumped backwards at the interruption. Addy, also, stumbled a few steps backwards, straight out of their little movie fantasy. She straightened her hair with her hand and was bright red when she faced the man who had spoken up at the end of the aisle. Cyrus knew he was too red to even look at him…

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop,” the man said, his footsteps coming closer. Cyrus carefully glanced over at him. An ordinary looking guy, holding a stack of books. A local, probably works here, by the looks of it. Probably wondering what these off-worlders were doing acting out noir scenes in his library.

“Oh no, that’s okay,” Addy said hurriedly, shaking her head and holding out her hand. “We were just–eh–” She glanced at Cyrus, hoping he might jump in with an explanation. He did not. “No worries,” she settled on at last.

“It’s just, I heard you guys mention the Transmitter,” said the man and suddenly Cyrus didn’t feel embarrassed so much as incredibly worried. There was one thing Corra had made very clear to him, if nothing else. No one was to know what it was they were looking for. Why, she didn’t say. But the ‘no one’ part. That, he’d understood.

“Is that what you two had all those books out for?” the man asked and Cyrus noticed Addy also had gone suspiciously pale.

“Wha–no, I don’t know what–no, that’s not,” she stumbled but the man laughed heartily.

“Hey, it’s okay, you’re not in trouble.” He smiled. “We get tourists and legend-seekers snooping around every so often. Used to it by now. No big deal.”

Cyrus tried to say, “Okay,” but what came out was more like a high-pitched, nervous sigh.

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