Author: Caelum Lex PM
When Leta Adler, a well-bred young Vescentian doctor, gets plucked off of her home planet by a rickety pirate spaceship, she thinks it's finally the chance she's been waiting for. Captained by a dangerous criminal on the run and crewed by a set of misfits from across the galaxy, the Dionysian could become more of a home than she'd ever imagined.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 34 - Words: 130,143 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 05-24-13 - Published: 09-27-12 - id: 3061524
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The Crystal Lounge was sleek, clean, and crowded. Music poured from the speakers, and the room was dark, with black walls and violet lights. Leta wasn't particularly enthralled with the decor, however. She was much more captivated with her third whiskey sour and the flowing conversation. The more she drew from the former, the more she drove the latter.
"So that's why I went into emergency medicine," she explained to Cyrus, the words spilling from her lips with an unsteady lilt. He listened closely, his glassy eyes reflecting the neon lights overhead as he took another long drink, the ice clinking merrily in his glass. Inwardly, she couldn't recall how they'd gotten on this personal topic. Actually, it was becoming blurry how they ended up here at all.
As it turned out, Tarin offered more than a bustling marketplace. By night, the city boasted a row of bars, clubs, and restaurants, an array of colorful nightlife that Corra insisted they explore. After the encounter with Dez, Fiearius had gone off to complete his mysterious job and informed the crew that no one was to leave the ship for the remainder of their stay - an order everyone but Corra and Leta took seriously.
"I don't think this is such a good idea - " Cyrus had said worriedly when Corra, quite literally, dragged him up the stairs from the engine room. "He's dangerous. And if he's still out there...If Fiear says we should stay here, we should stay here."
Fortunately, under Corra's pleading influence, it didn't take much convincing for Cyrus to join them that night. Leta was glad for it: if they did run into Dez again, the more company, the better. Unnerved as she was about the encounter that afternoon, it was hard to feel nervous when Corra took her by the hand and pulled her to the colorful, crowded strip of nightlife. It certainly wasn't her usual scene, but lately, nothing was. She didn't really have a 'usual' scene anymore.
Besides, after their conversation in the bridge, she had no issue with disregarding Fiearius' order entirely: he gave her the unmistakable urge to drink.
She wasn't the only one a few drinks deep. After insisting they all take a round of whiskey shots, Corra hugged them both and then disappeared to the dance floor. Cyrus sat with Leta at the bar, two emptied glasses in front of him. They'd talked more tonight than she had in her entire time aboard.
"Because of my mom," Leta went on, trailing her finger around the rim of her glass. "She did medical research, before she died. Except, not exactly like her, because I nearly failed out of med school. I was always on review. I wasn't focused enough. No professor wanted me around. Except when they needed help on the surgical table. That, I can do, I topped the class in fieldwork. It makes sense to me. It's also where the blood and the action is," she mused, then glancing at him pointedly. "As you well know by now."
Cyrus laughed, but rather sadly. The grin on his face shrank into thought. "I was never like that in school," he mused. "I studied my ass off. All the time. Went to every class. And all the office hours. And then I went home and I studied. And built things. And sometimes I ate. Food." He pursed his lips together as though this was a very pressing matter. "But one time, I set the building on fire. And I got in trouble. Which was the only time I got in trouble. Ever. Except the time in high school when I reprogrammed the doors to have AI and they stopped letting in people who weren't wearing the right shoes." He frowned again. "I don't know how that happened. I never gave them any protocol about footwear."
Leta, midway through her drink, snorted into her glass. "If that's all you got in trouble for in high school, your parents must have been proud," she said, tilting more alcohol into her mouth. Lowering her glass, she noticed Cyrus' eyes had wandered past her shoulder. Following his gaze, she realized he was watching Corra move on the dance floor.
"Hey, you should go dance with her," said Leta easily. "I'm fine right here."
Cyrus looked at her as if she'd suggested he run naked through the club. "What? I don't want to-I mean, I can't-I don't-"
"Okay, okay, you don't dance," Leta said, laughing. "I don't usually either until I've had about four more of these, or Ren's talked me into it… " She polished off the last of her drink and then added suddenly, "So can I ask you something? What's going on between you and Corra anyway?"
The question had barely left Leta's lips when Cyrus said, "Nothing," and stared at the rim of his glass like he'd never seen something so captivating in his life. "There's nothing going on. Why would you think something's going on?"
Leta fixed him with a stare of disbelief. "Because," she guessed good-naturedly, "I'm not blind? Come on, you can tell me."
To his credit, Cyrus made a valiant attempt to look innocent and confused, but finally, his expression dissolved. "Nothing," he said again, more defeatedly this time. "Really." A sigh of exasperation came over him, and he dropped his forehead in his hand. "Nothing. She doesn't-I'm not the kind of-She's not interested."
Leta, who had expected the conversation to take a happier turn than this, was taken aback."Really? So you've - ?" She frowned, recognizing the signs of a defeated man. "I'm sorry. You two seem so close, that's all."
"We are," he insisted, lifting his head again. "Close, I mean. We're close, but, you know. Friend close. Not..." His voice trailed off as his hands made some unintelligible motion towards and away from one another. "Not other close."
It'd been months since she'd felt a flicker of pity for another person's relationship status. Watching Cyrus now, she willed away the sadness in his face. "If it's any consolation," she said, squeezing his shoulder, "my 'future husband' is in jail indefinitely. So. Cheers." She clinked her glass against his with a sarcastic smirk.
Cyrus smirked back, though his was dimmed in uncertainty. "I guess things could be worse," he muttered unsurely. But then, after taking another drink, he seemed struck by a newfound sense of purpose. "So what's this future husband of yours like anyway? Besides the...you know...stuck in jail thing."
Leta couldn't remember the last time she had to indirectly introduce Ren to anybody. After a moment, she selected the first adjective that came to mind, which just happened to be, "Handsome. Really handsome. And intelligent - too intelligent for his own good. Affectionate. Really funny when he gets on a roll. Ambitious. He was in law school for a year before dropping out because he wanted to help people in a different way. So he became an activist - a professional bleeding-heart essentially. As you can imagine, I was the one who supported us financially. But, hey," she added, forcing a smile, "maybe you'll get to meet him someday."
Cyrus' smiled as his mouth opened to answer, but it was Corra's voice that reached Leta's ears.
"Meet who?" she asked breathlessly as she hurled herself at the bar from the dance floor. Cyrus went rather quiet suddenly, his eyes wide.
"Another round of shots please!" Corra called to the bartender, waving her hand at him excitedly, before rounding back on Leta. "Ren?" she guessed cheerfully. "Oh I better meet this guy. Can't just tell me how great he is and never introduce me. Might start to think you're making him up." She elbowed her playfully as the bartender returned with three glasses.
Corra didn't hesitate to dole them out between the three. "Cheer up you two," she demanded, raising her glass and shooting it back. Patting them both on the shoulder, she pointed out, "Who knows when we'll next get the chance to do this?"
Apparently distracted by a change in music, Corra's attention snapped back to the dance floor and her feet followed after. As she hurried back off into the crowd though, she paused momentarily to call back, "Oh right, I know when. Leta's fancy wedding! Which I will be invited to!" She pointed at Leta in accusation before melting back into the dancing crowd.
"If she thinks I'm still having a fancy wedding after all this, she really is crazy," said Leta, laughing affectionately, but it was a second later that she realized Cyrus was not paying her an ounce of attention. His unfocused eyes were set over her head again.
"She's so beautiful," he muttered, his voice barely audible over the roar of the music.
Surprised, but immediately recovering, Leta agreed fervently, "Yeah, she is."
"And so...happy," he went on, ignoring her. "Like she just loves living. Even after all she's been through and where she ended up and all that's happened. I mean...Goddora just died." He looked over at Leta with the utmost drunken seriousness. "Like...just now. And she wasn't there to do it. And all those allies...those people we left there. It's killing her inside, it has to be. But you can't tell. She's still smiling and dancing and trying to cheer us up. She's incredible. I can't even-she's just incredible."
"She is," Leta agreed, feeling amused, but agreeable all the same. "She's the one who made me go out this afternoon to cheer me up. And tonight too. I think we could all do with a little more of - whatever she's got," she sighed. But then, she couldn't resist adding, glancing over at him knowingly, "You've got it seriously bad for her, Cyrus. What're you going to do about it?"
If Cyrus had been in despair before, it was nothing compared to now. His whole expression sank. "What can I do?" he said pleadingly. "It's not like I can change anything. She doesn't want...well I don't know what she wants, but I know it's not me." He placed his empty glass back on the bar and, without a shred of hesitation, downed his fresh shot in one quick swallow.
Leta watched, amazed, as Cyrus barely winced at the intake of alcohol. "You've talked to her about it then?"
"Yeah," Cyrus sighed and clarified, "Sort of. There was...I mean...We had a thing. Once. A long time ago."
"A thing? So you - what, slept together?" said Leta bluntly, and the beat of silence on Cyrus' end told her that was an affirmative. She could not decide if she felt surprised by this, and after a moment she decided she did not. It did mean, however, she had a whole plethora of questions for Corra.
For now, she wondered, "Was that awkward? Back at the trauma ward, I think I was the only one on staff who didn't sleep around. Long hours and close quarters did a lot for people."
Cyrus hesitated, wincing. "Awkward? Yeah. It was awkward, but-I don't know...It was nothing. I guess. I mean, I thought maybe it was something. I thought maybe we could make it something anyway. I even took her out to dinner afterwards." He rolled his eyes at his own stupidity before they sunk to the floor. "But she didn't want something. It was pretty final," he concluded at last. "She's not interested."
For a moment, Leta could think of nothing to say, except, "We'll have another round," to the bartender with urgency in her tone. To Cyrus, she said, "And you're sure?"
"Well I don't see exactly what would have changed," he muttered sadly. "She wasn't interested then, I don't know why she would be now." The bartender brought the next round of drinks and without even looking up, Cyrus suddenly had the glass in his hand and half the liquid down his throat. "No different than anyone else I guess," he mumbled. "No girl in their right mind would be interested in me, would they?" Without waiting for an answer, he grunted his disapproval and grumbled, "Oh no, they much prefer cocky jerks with a propensity for nearly getting everyone killed. That makes so much sense."
Realizing what he said on a slight, alcohol-induced delay, Leta's drink halted midway between the bar and her mouth. "You mean your brother?" she demanded, not bothering to hide the disgust in her voice. "You think Corra has a thing for your brother? That's - well, that's really - " she struggled for a moment, before relenting with a small smirk. "Complicated. Cy, seriously? No way, she's too smart for that. And if so, she has very, uh interesting taste in men …"
"I don't know," he muttered. "I don't know what Corra wants. My brother, maybe, maybe not. I don't know. But if she did? Weird and crazy and stupid as that is, she wouldn't be the first."
Leta wasn't sure she wanted to imagine Fiearius and plethora of women at his disposal. "Is Fiearius even capable of feelings?"
"Fiearius? Feelings." He snorted. "Not likely. Since we left Satieri, I've never seen him with the same girl twice. I don't think 'feelings' are even a factor." He shook his head disapprovingly before adding, frowning thoughtfully, "Though I guess he was with Aela for six years or something ridiculous. So I guess it's possible. But unlikely."
"Hang on, you lost me," said Leta, blinking her eyes. Now that her own drink was finished, Leta reached over for Cyrus', only to find his disappointingly empty as well. "Who's Aela?"
"But then again," Cyrus rambled on thoughtfully, as though he hadn't even heard her, "it didn't take very long after we left for him to get back on the horse. Doesn't that seem kind of wrong to you? Your wife and kid die - " Abruptly, Leta stopped fishing in the glass. " - and you're already chasing girls in bars a month or whatever later? Okay maybe it was a few months, but still. Isn't that kinda heartless? It is. I rest my case. He has no feelings."
For a moment, it was as if everything in the club went still. Whatever she'd been expecting - more troubled love-life rambling from Cyrus, probably - it wasn't this. "Wife and kid?" she repeated at last. "Fiearius was married? With a kid? What - happened?"
"Doesn't make any sense, that's all, it-" Cyrus was mumbling to himself, staring distantly across the bar, until he finally realized Leta was still sitting across from him. Finally, he stuttered, "I didn't-what are you-I didn't say that."
"Yes you did, you just did," said Leta. She lowered her drink to the bar, no longer feeling amused at all. "You said Fiearius had a wife and child. They died?"
"No," Cyrus replied instantly, feigning innocence, which wasn't an act he could pull off well even when he was sober. When Leta's eyes narrowed, he sunk on his stool and put his head in his hands. "You can't tell him I said that," he pleaded.
"I-fine," said Leta dismissively. "But I can't believe this. He had a family? I can't imagine…" Picturing Fiearius as a husband - a father - made her feel uneasy in a way she couldn't express. It certainly tainted the image she had of him: a cocky, selfish asshole who dragged her into his messes and gave her nothing in return. But a father? Fiearius, the same person who slaughtered Goddorra and nearly gotten his brother killed on Archeti - once had a family?
"How'd they die?" she asked quietly.
Cyrus blinked his eyes slowly, as if Leta was barely in focus. "How did they-" he began. "I don't know. They just...they died. They were dead before I knew they existed. Got shot I think. I don't know by who. Or why. Or anything really." It didn't exactly sound like an honest response, but Leta didn't press it. After all, this was Cyrus' sister-in-law and niece or nephew.
"That's terrible. That must be why he left Satieri then," she said wondrously. "Or part of why. And explains why he's so … "
"Look," Cyrus interrupted, fixing her with a drunken, worried stare. "You really can't tell anyone about this. Not even Corra."
"I - alright, I won't," said Leta, tearing her eyes away from him. "I'll keep it to myself. I guess. But why's he keep it such a secret?"
Cyrus hesitated, finding something fascinating about the way his fingers looked knotted together in his lap. "If the wrong people find out what happened..." he muttered at last, but before he could finish the thought, he was cut off suddenly by a tiny, but powerful burst of energy barreling into him.
"Alright, I've had it," Corra scolded, steadying herself on Cyrus' shoulders and barely talking over her laugh. "If you guys are just gonna sit here looking miserable, we're going somewhere else. You coulda just told me you were bored, y'know."
"Oh - that's alright," said Leta quickly. Her lips twitched toward a wry smile. "Cyrus was keeping me entertained. What now then? Because I could use another strong drink."
A rather worrisome grin twisted its way onto Corra's face. "Oh, I have an idea."
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This street of Tarin lay in an odd, ghostly silence, save for a drip-drip from the gutters and his own footsteps on the cobblestone. As he wove through the maze of empty markets, his senses strangely attuned, Fiearius couldn't help but imagine the figure of Desophyles in every shadow he passed - leaning against every building, or perhaps observing from a high window - waiting for his moment to strike.
But it didn't worry him. It should have worried him, but just for the moment he was immune. He was almost tempted to call out Dez's name and he genuinely expected him to answer. He would see the massive shape of his once friend step into the street and raise a gun to his head and-
But every time his imagination got that far, the gun was suddenly in his own hand and it was not his face he saw gazing into the nozzle. It was the pleading, tear-filled stare of a woman he'd never met about to die.
A shiver ran down his spine, although the evening was a warm one. It didn't used to affect him like this. It wasn't the same anymore. Maybe he really was getting too old for this kind of job.
He was just shaking off the thought when he heard the commotion a few streets over. So he wasn't the only one out in the streets at this hour after all. A bubbly, long laugh cut through the night and he froze. He'd recognize that laugh anywhere: Corra.
The bizarre, complacent state snapped away. Quickly he veered down an alley and made for the source of the noise. Of course she'd disobey his orders and leave the ship. He'd expected that. But to be raising a racket in the middle of town at this hour? She was just asking to get kidnapped or ransomed or worse. Had that girl no sense whatsoever?
As he rounded the corner into the town square which was practically ringing with laughter now, he quickly found she was not alone and realized he should have expected that too. In the center of the square, at the base of the tremendous, circular fountain lounged not just Corra, but his brother and the doctor with her. Wasted. All of them.
Taken by frustration, Fiearius marched across the square towards them, his brow creased in anger. "You do realize," he snapped when he was close enough, "that I can hear your sorry asses three streets over."
Cyrus was the first to notice him. He sat on the ground, slumped against the fountain. He picked up his head and gasped, shocked to be caught, the same guilt in his eyes he'd had when he'd stolen and wrecked Fiearius' favorite toy spaceship when he was a child. It was Corra who spoke first, quite excitedly at that.
"Cap'n!" said Corra, swinging Leta's legs off her lap and jumping to feet. "You made it!" she cried happily. Below her, laying horizontal and sprawled over the edge of the fountain, Leta raised her head and grimaced at him, clapping a hand over her eyes.
"Good to see you too," Fiearius muttered to her, before turning back to Corra, the obvious ringleader of all this. "I suppose I don't need to point out that this is basically exactly what I asked you lot not to do."
Corra stuck out her tongue with a mighty 'pfft' and clapped her hands on her hips in defiance. Sounding accusing, she started, "Well I suppose I won't point out that you don't follow the orders that are given in the … pointing to you...usually," and then she trailed off, quite lamely.
"She's right," Cyrus added seriously, coming to her defense at once. "You don't always do the pointing."
As dangerous and stupid as it was for them to be out here, acting like this, especially after the day's events, Fiearius was finding it difficult to be angry with a group of people too drunk to put together coherent sentences. Nothing he said would sink in anyway, and clearly, Dez, for whatever reason, wasn't interested in rounding up Fiearius' intoxicated crew. Too predictable of a move, perhaps?
They deserved a good lecture, of course, but right now, it would have been a waste of effort. "Alright, enough with the pointing," he grumbled. "Up. All of you. Back to the ship." He jutted his thumb over his shoulder.
The three of them groaned, like he'd just told them recess was cancelled.
Nonetheless, Corra lowered herself down from the wall. She let her whole torso hang despairingly as she dragged her feet a few steps forward. "Why you gotta ruin all things?" she sighed, but before she could get her answer, her foot caught on the edge of a stone and she fell forward, straight into Fiearius, who caught the woman who was hardly tall enough to reach his shoulder. Inwardly, he sighed: the stories of daring spaceship captains he'd heard as a kid had always left out the part about babysitting.
As he righted Corra to her feet, Leta was helping Cyrus, swinging his arm over her shoulders amid painful groans and laughter. At once, Leta staggered under his weight, but not without yelling, at the top of her voice,"We're fine! I'm - we're completely fine, it's fine," she added, her voice trailing off uncertainly as she hooked her hand around Cyrus' wrist.
In a sloppy sort of caravan, they started off toward the ship docks. They'd only made it a few feet when Leta arrived at Fiearius' side and suddenly brandished something in his face with her free hand: it was an emptied liquor bottle. In a sly, proud voice, she informed him, "I stole this."
Blinking in surprise, Fiearius first regarded the bottle, and then the girl attached to it. His annoyance slowly waning into amusement, he was unable to resist a smirk. "That's good stuff. Well done. Looks like we might make a criminal of ya yet."
She snorted a derisive laugh, while swinging the bottle happily in a circle. "Yeah, that would be a great use of my education. Although I am pretty damn good. I nicked it from behind the bar at this swanky club while Corra distracted the server, and we drank it all together right out here," she finished with satisfaction, examining the bottle fondly as if she'd found a new friend.
Fiearius couldn't help but snort a laugh. Apparently the uptight doctor did, infact, know how to have a good time. He peered around her to Cyrus. "I think I like her better like this."
At once, Corra flared up at his other side. "Leta's awesome, you leave her alone! She stole us drinks and she does surgery and she is the best." Her words slurred, but they were still enough to make Leta suddenly beam drunkenly with pride. Then, Fiearius felt a mild pressure in his ribs that he could only assume was Corra's attempt to attack him. He feigned a grimace of pain on her behalf.
Finally, it was with one last drunken stumble that they made it up the ramp into the open cargo bay. The rest of the ship lay in sleepy silence, although probably not for much longer if Corra and Leta kept shouting at one another about how cute that bartender had been or whatever they were saying. It was difficult to discern amongst the giggles.
Finally Corra pried herself away from his arm and started to wind dizzily over to the stairs. "I bid thee a good night, mine cap'n," she declared with dramatic flair. "Mine friends." She giggled. "Shall we be off?"
"Just one second," Leta called back, and to Fiearius' surprise, she slipped away from Cyrus and caught his forearm in her hand, pulling him back towards the open door. As Cyrus wandered off after Corra, Fiearius watched with interest as Leta set down her prized bottle carefully near her feet, then stood up with sudden authority, staring at him avidly in the semi-darkness.
"I need to talk to you," she said. Her voice wavered, but her eyes shone with seriousness. "About things."
Curiously, Fiearius surveyed her through narrowed eyes: she was swaying slightly on her feet, her cheeks were flushed pink and she seemed to struggle to hold her gaze on him. He raised an eyebrow. "Think now's really the best time, kiddo?"
Surprisingly, it was with a clear, cold voice that she said, "Please, don't call me that. I'm not a child. I've never felt less like a child in my life, actually."
Unable to decide if he was annoyed or impressed with her sudden bout of lucidness, he only smirked. "Still look like one, though."
"You - you're seriously insulting my appearance now," she said blandly. "That's where we're at with each other? I really don't think you want to play that game with me, captain," she laughed, but it was a maddened one. There was a definite strain of hysteria in her voice he hadn't really heard before, and he had to admit he was intrigued to see where this was going, at least for the moment. "But, guess I should expect that from you by now, right?" she rambled, "Even if you really have - "
But whatever it was about him, he never found out. She cut herself off, suddenly looking up at him with an odd look of loss in her eyes. As quickly as the look appeared, she went on, with an abrupt snap back to her usual manner, "Nothing. Fuck it. Let's just get this over with." Suddenly, she pointed at him accusingly, rather like a lawyer might confront a witness. "You need to tell me if I'm wasting my time on your ship. Because I deserve to know that. You've been avoiding answering me all week. So are you going to help me with Ren or not?" she demanded. "Because otherwise, I need to be left at the next stop."
Fiearius couldn't decide how he wanted to answer her. Then, he realized he wasn't interested in this drunken conversation after all.
"It's late," he said shortly, starting to step around her. "You're drunk. Go to bed."
Unfortunately, he only made it a half-step to the side before Leta was in front of him again, blocking his path with a fire in her eyes. "No, you don't get to tell me what to do. I'm not part of your crew."
Pausing, Fiearius squinted innocently at her. "Have you told Corra that? 'Cause I believe she thinks differently," he said, starting to veer around her other side. But she was in front of him at once, making them do some sort of zig-zag around one another. Now she looked as if she'd been slapped in the face.
"Oh leave her out of this," she snapped. "Corra knows why I'm here, she wants to help me. And you've made it pretty clear you won't, so I am wasting my time, aren't I? Just tell me so I can finally leave and plan my next move."
Fiearius observed her in a dull, sarcastic admiration. The scrawny young woman stood blocking his way to the stairs with the confidence of a warrior. "Gods," he couldn't help but grumble good naturedly, "you're pushy, ain't ya?"
"Terribly," she admitted. "But what do you - "
This was definitely not when he wanted to talk about this. Not here, not now and definitely not to this belligerent woman who looked like she was either about to slap him in the face or sink to his feet and pass out. "You're not. Just go to bed. We can talk about this later," he finished gruffly, and he was about to elbow her out of the way when she elbowed him first.
"I'm not?" she repeated heatedly. "I'm not what?" Apparently, she was sharp even in her drunken state.
But that wasn't enough to keep him from rolling his eyes. "Wasting your time. You're not wasting your time." Though you are wasting mine, he thought bitterly, thinking fondly of his bed waiting for him on the command deck. But now, as she continued to stare up at him intensely, he could only think of one way to end this conversation.
"Look," he growled finally, clasping a hand in his hair and stepping back from the stairs. "I may be a dirty rotten criminal, but I'm a man of my word. If I tell you I'm gonna do something, you gotta trust me to do it. But since apparently you don't … " He dropped his hand to the side in defeat.
"Your boyfriend's on the Baltimore," he stated shortly, causing her to blink in surprise. "Cy got me the coordinates, I did a bit of digging in Society records and that's what came up. The Baltimore. One of the better prison ships in the fleet. I don't know where on the Baltimore or how to get on it or how to get someone else off of it yet, but it's a start. It's a start," he paused for dramatic effect, "that I will think about. As I told you. Multiple times. Thinking about it." He tapped his temple with two fingers. "Okay? Satisfied?"
It was clear this woman was hanging on his every word, absorbing what he said with a shocked look on her face. It was actually difficult to witness: for the first time, hope glinted in her eyes.
"He's on the Baltimore?" she said at last, one hand clasping nervously her mouth. "We know where he is?" A shaky sort of exhale escaped her, and for the first time since he'd known her, she looked stricken and somehow much more human than usual.
"So that's - so that's where we have to go then," she whispered, her eyes growing distant, until she spared him a look of apology. "Sorry I just attacked you," she added quietly. "But it's just - "
"It's fine," he interrupted before she could finish the thought. He eyed her warily in silence. It was hard to fault the girl, really, no matter how annoying she was. When it came down to it...
"It's fine," he said calmly. "If I were in your position, I'd do the same."