“That was always your problem, you know,” Solon pointed out to their captive, his tone now impossibly icy. “You always thought you were better than everyone else. Better than all those that came before you. Better than those that built this business with our own hands. You somehow think that you’re entitled to come in here and pretend you’re in charge. That you surpass us in every way. But you’re wrong.”
Here, Solon took one final step towards him, meeting his eyes squarely. “You’re nothing but a tool. Someone desperate and stupid enough to do the dirty grunt work that the rest of us are unfit for. You’re nothing but a convenience. A convenience that, yes, I will miss having access to. But there’ll be another. There’s always another. Better, even. You’ve gotten too comfortable. Too unpredictable. You’re a loose cannon and an unnecessary problem that it’s time to eradicate.” His thin lips twisted into an amused smile. “You were never one of us.”
As Solon, mighty pleased with himself, turned from Fiearius and began to walk away, Fiearius did nothing. He was completely still. Too still. Even as Torian continued to apply pressure to that blade at his throat, he didn’t budge.
“I’m going to enjoy cutting that stupid smirk off your face,” Torian was saying as the tension in the room continued to rise and still, the man in the center of it didn’t move. Solon, nearly to the door, apparently wanting no part in this himself, raised his hand slightly in indication of his approval. Torian grinned. “Any last words, Soliveré?”
Fiearius’ eyes hadn’t left Goddora’s back until that moment when he looked down at his executioner and smiled.
“Not for you,” he replied calmly, and in a moment almost between blinks, he ducked himself out of the direct line of fire of Saviano’s pistol. Before either man could redirect, with as much force as he could muster, Fiearius delivered his fist into Saviano’s face hard enough to knock him out of the picture and long enough for him to draw his own gun from its holster and shoot Torian point-blank in the head.
The movement happened in a flash. Saviano’s gun went skidding out of his hand, across the floor, while he bent to his knees, his hand clutching his face. Leta made to step backwards from the scene. But it was the sharp, decisive bang of the gunshot that rooted her in place.
She thought she felt herself flinch, but she did not move. It was only her insides that clenched. The rest of her was paralyzed, her eyes wide and round, as she watched the figure of Torian slump to the floor at Fiearius’ feet.
“You’re an idiot. You deserved that,” Fiearius told the body as it began to shed a pool of red in a halo. “And you.”
His attention turned suddenly on Solon, who was staring at the dead body in absolute shock. His eyes lifted to meet Fiearius’, horrified, and before the man could move or shout for help, he was suddenly shoved against the door with the barrel of a gun to his head.
“You’re right,” Fiearius growled harshly. The mirth was gone from his features, replaced with something Leta had never seen. It was fury. Madness. He pushed his gun against Solon’s temple, seizing his collar and pulling him closer. “I’m not one of you. But you know what gets me? You know exactly what I am. You know exactly what I’m capable of. And yet you still thought you could betray me. And for what?” He threw his head back in the direction of Torian. “This guy? You betrayed me for this guy. Really.” Fiearius grinned. “You’re a moron.”
Even as she backed up against the wall, Leta saw the utter despair in Goddora’s eyes. The man stared up at Fiearius, stunned into silence, his eyes wide and his mouth slightly open, unable to form the words to reply. “It wasn’t personal, I told you.” His voice was cracking, sputtering like a child. “I’m sorry. I am. It doesn’t have to be like this though. We can sort it out.”
“Wasn’t personal?” Fiearius repeated, sounding astounded. “That’s your defense? After you presume yourself worthy enough to stand there and chew me out for being a ‘tool’ and a ‘loose cannon’ and an ‘unnecessary problem’? You have the gall to tell me ‘it wasn’t personal’?” His anger gave way to a manic grin. “I take it back. You’re not just a moron. You’re a funny moron.”
“I’ll get you the 10k,” Goddora said suddenly, desperately. “Or fifteen. Twenty if you like. I didn’t mean it. I was caught up in Paolos’ frustration. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. You’re a valuable partner to me. We need you. We can work it out.”
“And worst of all? You’re a fucking coward,” Fiearius breathed in disbelief, shaking his head slowly.
“Fiearius, please,” Solon begged, giving him a forced kind smile. “It’s all just a big misunderstanding.”
Suddenly, Fiearius seized the man’s shirt even tighter as he spat bitterly, “I remember the first time I barged into your office too. You know what sticks out to me? How much of a fucking asshole I thought you were. And you know what?” His eyes widened. “That never faded. You are a fucking asshole. A sick, fucking asshole. But I overlooked it. All this time, I thought the pros of a partnership with you outweighed the cons. There was really no reason to give you what you truly deserved.” Fiearius’ glare sharpened and he gritted his teeth as he growled, “You shouldn’t have given me a reason.”
Goddora was shaking, sputtering out breathlessly. Leta could bear the scene no longer, but as she pressed her back against the far wall, she could not tear her eyes away. It was then that she noticed the movement.
In the corner, Saviano was rising to his feet, recovering himself and reclaiming his lost weapon from the floor. In one motion he seized it, stood up, and swung his arm to point the gun at the back of Fiearius’ head.
A yell of warning started to erupt from Leta’s throat, but it never arrived. Instead, the quiet voice in the back of her head reminded her of something: she, too, had a weapon to use in this fight. She also had a gun at her hip, and her hand jumped down to seize it.