“Have a good trip.” Fiearius waved him off, yawning.
Cyrus frowned and gestured towards the outside world. “Come on.”
Fiearius blinked back at him. “What?”
There wasn’t time for this. “Come. On,” he said again, gesturing more dramatically.
But Fiearius didn’t budge. “Why?”
“Just come with me, please,” Cyrus snapped before marching back into the living room, grabbing his brother’s arm and yanking it towards the exit.
“Where the hell am I going?” Fiearius wanted to know, only just letting Cyrus pull him along out of the door.
Cyrus didn’t answer as he turned around to make sure the apartment was sealed and locked. Satisfied it’d be safe in their absence, he spun around and came face to face with Fiearius glowering at him. Unphased, he looked the man up and down, his clothes wrinkled from sleeping in them, his hair pointed in all directions and an unflattering gauntness to his features.
“I wish you’d taken a shower or something…” Cyrus muttered in distaste and Fiearius’ glare only deepened. But there wasn’t time. “Come on, let’s go.”
It was still early enough in the day that the PIT trains were empty. Most of Paradiex was enjoying a sleepy Sunday morning as Cyrus and Fiearius rode the R line train east, seated across the empty cabin from one another. Fiearius looked like he was having a sleepy Sunday morning of his own, yawning every few minutes and his eyes continuously drifting closed despite the constant rattle of the train.
He had stopped asking where they were going a few stops back, apparently accepting the fact that Cyrus was not going to tell him. Which was for the best because if he had continued and Cyrus had become annoyed enough, he probably would have.
At last, the train rumbled to a stop at a station Cyrus knew all too well. “This is it,” he said, grabbing the railing to pull himself up and hitting the button to open the doors. Fiearius stretched his arms over his head and sauntered after him, stepping out of the train onto the platform and squinting into the sunlight.
It took him a second, but he recognized it soon enough.
“You’re taking me to your work?” Fiearius asked, looking up at the Atelier Industries sign adorning the massive shipbuilding dock in front of them.
“Sort of,” Cyrus answered, not stopping as he walked straight from the platform and down towards the main gates. “C’mon, hurry up.”
It was a short walk from the PIT station to the entrance and Addy was there to meet them, Kalli glued to her leg. “Did you find it?” she asked as soon as she saw the two of them approaching. Cyrus held up the tablet and her face lit up. Until she was close enough to grab it from his hand and examine it. “This is the wrong one.”
Addy waved him off. “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’ll do.”
They fell into step together. “Sorry, it was the only one I could find.”
She regarded him skeptically. “I told you, it’s on the kitchen table.”
“This is the one from under Kalli’s bed.”
“Can’t we just keep them all in one place?”
Behind them, Fiearius coughed. “Morning, Adds.”
She glanced back and smiled. “Oh morning, Fiear.” He received a distracted wave before she returned her full attention to Cyrus. “This one can still link up to the auxilliary core, right?”
“I think so…”
As they walked through the complex and out into the main docking area, they passed every ship Atelier currently had in production. Huge ships of all shapes and sizes and at all levels of completion. Cyrus was intimately familiar with the progress of each and every one, but there was one in particular that he’d been involved in more than the rest. While he and Addy continued to work on city reparations and vessel contracts under Atelier Industries’ name, they had simultaneously pushed this ship through as quickly and efficiently as they could and in only six months, a record, Cyrus was sure, it had come to fruition.
It was that very vessel that they headed towards now, parked between two huge freighters that dwarfed the little cargo ship. If someone wasn’t looking for it, they probably wouldn’t have noticed it was there at all.
“So I checked the nav system, it’s still getting that little glitch when I try to reroute, I think it’s a code error–” Addy said.
“Oh, that was on purpose,” Cyrus told her. “Leave that there.”
Addy groaned. “I told you to make a list of all your ‘intentional imperfections’ so I could stop trying to fix them.”
“I did!” Cyrus defended, “I mean…I may have forgotten to add that one, but–”
“P’ahti!” Kalli suddenly called and Cyrus felt a tiny hand tug the bottom of his shirt. When he glanced down at her, she was pointing back towards the main walkway, towards, Cyrus realized, where Fiearius had stopped following them.
He was standing some hundred feet back, his expression empty as he stared at the ship in front of them. Cyrus, feeling rather proud of himself, smirked. “Hey!” he called and waved his brother forward. “C’mon.”
Fiearius at first didn’t seem to hear him. He just continued to stare, stunned, at the ship until finally Cyrus saw him breathe, “What the fuck….”
Addy nudged Cyrus’ arm and muttered through a forced grin, “Not exactly the enthusiastic response we were hoping for…”
“Give him a minute,” Cyrus mumbled as he watched Kalli run to her uncle and seize his hand. Stunned as he may have been, even Fiearius didn’t resist when she pulled him onward after her parents. As he rejoined the group, doubled over by the tiny girl’s grasp, his eyes never left the ship and he never stopped looking like he was being harassed by a ghost.
Which, in some sense, he was. Before them, was the spitting image of the Dionysian. From the top of its dented hull to the base of its crooked ramp, it looked exactly as it had the day it had departed for the very last time.
Cyrus had poured practically all of his free time into making it as perfect (or, as Addy pointed out, imperfect) as he could. Given the results, he was pretty impressed with himself. He could only hope ‘impressed’ was also an accurate description of whatever was going on inside Fiearius’ head as they approached the ramp.
“In retrospect, maybe we should have thought the presentation method through a bit more,” Cyrus whispered to Addy and she hissed an uncomfortable sigh.
“I told you I didn’t think it was a good idea–”
“Well she rushed us, we didn’t have time, what were we supposed to do–”
“Not spring potentially traumatic memories on people maybe–”
“It’s not,” said Fiearius suddenly from behind them, finally released from Kalli’s hold and gazing up at the hull above them. “It’s not my ship…It can’t be.”
Cyrus and Addy shared a look and Cyrus coughed. “It’s not,” he confirmed. “Not exactly. We found the wreckage and salvaged what we could from it. Mostly interior subsections were intact, some of the outer hull. The rest we had to piece together. Got a new engine, cannibalized some other cargo ships, retrofitted new plates and –” He gestured to the ship. “Here we are. The Dionysian Mark II.”
Ever so slowly, Fiearius edged around them and took a few steps up the ramp towards the cargo bay. Even now, Cyrus wasn’t sure what to make of him as he let his fingers trail down one of the support beams. But finally, after such a long period of confusion, Cyrus saw his face start to light up and a breathless laugh tumbled out of his throat. “I can’t believe you rebuilt my ship…”
“Well. It’s not your ship,” Addy pointed out and Fiearius shrugged her off.
“Okay, but basically.”
“I think what she means isn’t just that though,” Cyrus felt the need to explain and Fiearius looked back at him, already frowning. “This was not a cheap undertaking. The parts from the original Dionysian might have been yours, but the re-fitting pretty much nixed the value of them. And then there was the new parts, the junked ships, the manufacturing. And all the time of all the people who worked on it. It was really expensive actually. We couldn’t just pay for it ourselves…”
The frown deepened. “What exactly are you saying?”
Addy grimaced. “We had to get an investor…”
Fiearius’ jaw dropped. “You sold my ship?!”
“That’s just it, it’s not your ship anymore,” Cyrus told him. “The investor commissioned it, paid for it, it’s legally theirs.”
“You’re fucking kidding me.” Fiearius shook his head in disbelief. “You can’t just — why would you even show it to me then?!”
“Who is this person?” Fiearius snapped, holding onto one of the ramp’s beams defensively. “What kind of ‘investor’ would spend their money on fixing someone else’s ship?”
“The Dionysian’s model has been pretty popular since way back when the war first started,” Addy reasoned with a shrug. “Resale value skyrocketed.”
The logic didn’t sit well with Fiearius. “But the Dionysian itself?” he demanded. “What the fuck?!”
Addy’s brows creased at once and she gestured at Kalli who had her hand clamped over her mouth. “Language please.”
Fiearius let out a groan. “Why?”
Cyrus cast Addy a sideways glance. “Maybe they wanted to own a piece of history?”
Addy grinned playfully. “Or maybe they’re a fan of your work.”
“Well I don’t care who they are, they can’t have her,” Fiearius decided firmly. “I’ll buy her back.”
Finally, Cyrus could no longer hold it in. He started to chuckle and no amount of covering his face was able to hide it. “I doubt you could afford it,” he sputtered as Addy grabbed his arm in attempt to calm him, but ended up joining in.
Fiearius, meanwhile, stared at the two of them laughing in disbelief. It was hard not to feel bad at the look of absolute hurt on his face for dangling a gem in front of him only to take it away, and surely Cyrus would owe him an apology later, but for now —
“You can’t afford it,” said Leta, descending the ramp behind Fiearius. She was dressed all in black, her hair tied up in a knotted braid behind her head and a wry smirk danced across her face. “And she’s not for sale even if you could.”
Cyrus watched in amusement as Fiearius went from shocked to confused to understanding and at last, he let out an irritated laugh. “It’s you,” he stated. “You’re the investor.”
“Sure am,” cooed Leta cheerfully, leaning against the opposite support beam. “What do you think of my ship? Real beauty, huh?”
Fiearius ran his hand through his hair. “Yeah, she certainly is…” He took a step towards her and tilted his head. “Thought you had to go back to Vescent this morning.”
“Oh, I do,” Leta confirmed and lifted her hand towards the ship. “It’ll be her maiden voyage. But we’re already behind schedule because someone is out here on my ramp causing a fuss.”
Fiearius nodded in somber understanding. “Might want to blame those two for that.” He gestured towards Cyrus and Addy, who put her hand over her chest and feigned offense.
“Well. Let’s stop wasting time, shall we?” Leta suggested before throwing her hand towards the cargo bay. “Coming aboard, or no?”
For a moment, Cyrus saw Fiearius’ confidence flicker. The flirty, smug attitude faded and internally, Cyrus felt a moment of panic. This whole plan, the entire project, six months of work and his brother could let it fall apart just like that. But he wouldn’t, right? He couldn’t.
But his tone didn’t sound promising when he looked away and muttered, “Leta–”
“That’s Captain Adler,” Leta corrected at once, seemingly unphased by his negativity.
Fiearius snorted a laugh. “Oh, Captain Adler, is it? So, what, you need a first mate?”
“Oh, no.” She looked surprised. “I already have one of those.”
Fiearius tilted his head. “Pilot, then?”
“Got one of those too.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Gunhand?”
She lifted her finger thoughtfully. “Hopefully won’t need one of those much, but definitely covered if we do.” She smiled mischievously. “Hearsay tells me you’re a pretty good cook though.”
Fiearius released a barking laugh and shook his head until Leta stepped forward and took his hands in hers. “This is the Dionysian Mark II,” she said as he grew quiet. “She’s not the original. She never could be and she won’t try to be. But she’s something new. I don’t know where she’ll take us or where we’ll end up, but I, for one, am willing to take the risk. Hell, I need it. And Fiear — I love you. I still love you. It’s a problem, apparently, I can’t stop.” Her hands gripped his tighter. “And I couldn’t imagine going out into the Span without you. I don’t think we’re made for planet life, you and I. Not anymore. I want to sail the stars again and I want you with me.”
They stood staring at one another for a long moment until at last Leta said, “So! I–” One hand rose to her chest dramatically, “–Captain Leta Ella Adler. Would like to formally invite you, Fiearius Soliveré, to join me and my crew on whatever adventure or danger or horrible peril awaits us.” She smiled hopefully. “What do ya say?”
Fiearius looked down at their hands and opened his mouth. Then he closed it again. Cyrus felt his breath halt in his chest and Addy’s grip around his shoulder tightened in anticipation. Even Leta, through her confident captain-ly smile, showed nervousness around the edges.
And then finally, Fiearius took a deep breath. “For you, Captain?” He lowered himself to one knee. “For you, I would sail to the very end of the Span.” Bowing his head, he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it and even as in-character as she was, Leta’s cheeks flushed pink.
But only for a moment.
Then, completely unabashedly, she yanked him up to his feet, seized the sides of his startled face and kissed him so forcefully that he stumbled backwards a step before they settled into a warm embrace.
“Aww,” Cyrus heard Addy coo from beside him. “I knew they’d get a happy ending.”
Cyrus snorted indignantly. “Ending?” He cast her a skeptical glance. “Adds, it’s the beginning. Tell me that again when they’re arguing over breakfast tomorrow morning…”
She scowled and elbowed him in the ribs as Leta finally released Fiearius from the kiss and declared loudly, “Alright, my faithful crew, let’s get moving.”
Taking Kalli’s hand, Cyrus started up the ramp as Leta ran off into the ship. He passed Fiearius who still looked a little stunned and seemed even more so to see his brother and sister-in-law climbing into the cargo bay.
“Wait, you’re coming too?” he asked, chasing after them.
“We’re stop number two,” Addy explained.
“We’re still taking a honeymoon, you know,” Cyrus informed him. “And you’re still babysitting the tornado.” He waved Kalli’s hand and she giggled. “The location’s just changed a little.”
“Besides, someone’s gotta monitor the first voyage.” Addy squeezed her husband’s shoulder and took a turn for the engine room.
“Don’t worry, you’ll have help,” called a voice from up above on the catwalk. Both brothers looked up to see Corra hanging over the edge. “With Kalli, I mean. Not the engine, good luck with that.”
“First mate?” Fiearius guessed as they climbed the stairs to join her.
“I can’t believe you thought she’d choose you over me,” Corra laughed, shaking her head. “Besides. I’m the one with all the work for us. You like freeing allies, don’t you? Brings back good memories, right?”
“Oh, the best,” Fiearius agreed, rolling his eyes at her. “What about your other crew?”
“The Orion? I sent them on a mission out in the far reaches of Paravien space,” Corra answered carelessly as she lead them up towards the command deck. “We’ll be joining them in a few days.” She spun around and walked backwards through the hatch to the bridge. “That’s stop number three.”
In the bridge, Finn sat in the pilot’s seat, fiddling with the control panel as Leta stood over him. When he noticed they had company, he glanced back and glared. “I can’t believe you intentionally broke this thing.”
“It’s not broken, it’s character,” Cyrus argued flippantly, leading Kalli to the co-pilot’s seat.
“It’s broken,” Finn said again. “This isn’t in my contract.”
“You don’t have a contract,” Leta pointed out.
“Well I should,” he muttered under his breath.
Leta hit the COMM button. It sizzled in that ever so familiar tone. “We all set down there, Addy?”
“Sure are!” came Addy’s distorted voice. “Firing her up now.”
Standing up straight, Leta put her hands on her hips and looked around at her crew. For a brief moment, she locked eyes with Fiearius who, leaning against the back wall, smiled at her knowingly and nodded towards the bay window. She glanced at Corra, huddled behind Finn’s shoulder, a grin spread across her face. And then she looked down at Cyrus, seated in the co-pilot’s chair with Kalli bouncing excitedly in his lap.
He felt her hand on his shoulder. “We did it,” she said.
Cyrus smirked back at her. “Barely. But…we did it.”
“Alright, Dionysian,” Leta called to the bridge and Finn hit the command to start up the take-off sequence. Beneath their feet, the ship started to rattle. The vibrations shook the walls and filled the air with a cacophony of metal against metal. All eyes turned to Leta and she heaved a deep breath.