A Question of Trust
He came in smelling of alcohol and sex.
It had been two weeks since their talk on the roof and Ciaran had been out every night on his own when not ordered on a mission. All in black with his devil may care smile. His first night back Arik had taken his arm and checked the skin on the inside of the limb, seeing if he’d fallen back to the needle. He hadn’t.
“Do you think I’m that weak, Arik?” Ciaran had said.
Arik had let him go without saying anything. What Ciaran chose to do with his spare time was his own business. So long as it didn’t interrupt a mission he didn’t care. But as it was, his nighttime wanderings were going to be cut short. Looking up from his paper he studied the redhead dispassionately. Ciaran didn’t look too drunk so--
“Just spit it out, Arik,” Ciaran said as he threw his jacket over a chair. “I’m remarkably sober right now.”
Arik rolled his eyes and set his paper down as he got to his feet. “Your ‘hobbies’ are dragging you down, Ciaran.”
“Do you dislike it that much?”
“I don’t like or dislike anything, Ciaran. I do what I am told.”
“Yes and you’re so good at following orders. Just like a dog. Sometimes, Arik, I wonder if you have a backbone at all.”
With that said Ciaran left the living room, heading for his room down the hall. The door clicked shut sharply and Arik sighed and went after him. He needed to get this sorted out of their teamwork would suffer. Dealing with Ciaran was like Russian Roulette. You didn’t know which mood would pop up to smack you in the face.
“You’re fooling no one with your act.” He called after Ciaran who was just at the end of the hallway, watching the world go.
“Act? What would you know of an ‘act’, old man?”
The Uswian stared right through him. “Act, Ciaran. As in the front you put out.”
Ciaran threw back his head and laughed. “Arik, I don’t have an act. This is who I am.”
“Pity you can’t change.”
“Into what? You?” The smile turned into a smirk and Ciaran leaned in closer. “Don’t you like me, Arik? We’re teammates now. We should trust each other.”
Arik glared at him. “I trust no one--”
”Least of all me,” Ciaran finished for him as he tilted his head slightly, his voice dropping to a husky whisper. “Perhaps you do have intelligence inside your mind after all.”
His lips brushed over Arik’s almost thoughtfully and then he was pulling back before Arik could register what he had done and retaliate. Arik blinked in confusion as Ciaran left.
”Perhaps you will survive.”
Then he was gone and Arik was left alone in the study with the taste of Ciaran on his lips that refused to go away.
Of the two of them, Ciaran refused the leash of control and managed to continue doing what he did best--annoy people before fucking with them. Ciaran was a wild card that could not be contained and could not be influenced. The single most important rule of the street had stayed with Ciaran throughout his life and would most likely never, ever fade.
Submit to no one.
It was something Arik didn’t understand but accepted.
“Don’t you ever go outside, pretty boy?” Ciaran drawled from the doorway to the workroom.
Arik stiffened at the word ‘pretty boy.’ He was everything else than that at his age, and Ciaran was causing grey hairs even to him. “What do you want?” Arik snapped, fingers pausing over the keys.
Ciaran leaned against the door and eyed Arik’s form in front of the computer. “You,” Ciaran told him with a smile finally.
Arik’s lips thinned to a slash and he turned his attention back to the flickering computer screen. “Go away, Ciaran. I don’t need you here.”
To his surprise Ciaran listened, but it made Arik’s focus shatter into pieces. He could never be sure of the Qolian mind. It was a mind that he had for years tried to understand, but nothing could be concluded. Perhaps it was his lack of contact with the council, which made him the weaker one here.
Ciaran pulled out a cigarette and hunted for his lighter but couldn’t find it in his pockets. Frowning he double-checked but still couldn’t locate it. “Fuck,” he hissed.
“Looking for this?” a calm voice asked.
He turned to find Arik standing behind him in the hallway holding up his lighter. “Going through my things again?” Ciaran asked as he stepped closer.
“You left it on the table.”
“And you brought it to me. How kind of you.”
“Don’t mock me, Ciaran,” Arik ordered in a cool voice.
Ciaran grinned naughtily at him. “And what will happen if I continue to mock you, hm, Arik?”
“That’s never been an issue. You mock everyone.”
“Then don’t take it so personally.”
Arik tossed him the lighter and he caught them deftly. “Are you going to trick here?” Arik asked bluntly.
“It’s none of your business.”
“I’m making it my business, Ciaran. I’ve been put in charge and I don’t want you endangering this mission.”
Ciaran lit his cigarette and arched an eyebrow. “So the dog finally shows its teeth. I was beginning to wonder if you were all bark and no bite.”
“What does it matter how I live? You don’t own me, Arik, no one does. Not even your Council. I chose to go with you that day. I could have stayed and died on the street, but it would have still been my choice. You can control everyone else in the city, but you can’t control me, Arik, unless I let you. And you haven’t earned that right. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”
Ciaran turned on his heel and headed on down the hall. “Be careful of how you choose, Ciaran,” Arik called out. “They don’t take kindly to traitors.”
The Qolian flipped him off. “Worry about your own life, Arik, and I’ll worry about mine,” he said.
Arik watched as he disappeared into a room and sighed. “You’re taking steps to your death, Ciaran,” he muttered as he turned around and headed to his room.
The tension between them was growing.
“But aren’t we all?”