"Are you finished, then?"
Cyrus was standing outside the interrogation room, waiting for Dawn as she emerged alonethe guards inside were poised only to take Lucas back to the prison. Dawn hadn't come by herselfJupiter had led her here, for Cyrus would never allow her to meander the halls of the Galactic base unaccompanied. He had his own troupe of grunts trailing him, their eyes wide with curiosity as Dawn exited. She was a bit of an oddity to them, a young woman her age so favored by their omnipotent boss. Of course, it was no secret as to what her purpose was, but she still incited a form of wary interest among the other members. Their nosiness made Dawn feel ill.
She didn't make eye contact with Cyrus, but she could feel his cold gaze upon her, boring holes of ice into her, as if marking her under his tenure. Feeling queasy, she pulled at the hem of her too-short skirt once more, something she'd been doing a lot recently. That old habit came back only in days of severe anxiety.
"Yes," she murmured, keeping her head low. She knew that her best bet was to act obedient. Cyrus was easily the most controlling, selfish man she'd ever met, and she understood that pretending to bow to him was the only way to appease such a jealous spirit. Submission was the key to her survival. She clenched her fists, her meeting with Lucas flashing by in her mind. The gentle manner in which he'd touched her, stared so adoringly at her, and his soothing tone upset her. Lucas was still the same happy-go-lucky boy he'd been since they were children, although his physical growth was evident.
He knew nothingand she hoped that it would stay that way.
She was doing this for him, after all.
Cyrus nodded. "Good. Let's get going." He indicated to his guards that they were leaving and shot a sharp glare at Dawn, the strength of which made her heartbeat hurdle. Cyrus gestured to his side, ordering her over to him. Dawn sprung forward and met his request immediately, trying her hardest to ignore the sizzling tension that crackled in the air between them. Why was he so angry? What had she done this time? As much as she didn't want to admit it, she was scared of Cyrus. He was so incredibly difficult to read that every errant glance frightened her.
A sudden spark of nausea made her body lurch. Did he hear us in there? Cyrus said that the walls of the interrogation rooms were soundproofed, but had he been lying? Had he been looking in the window? Her back had been to the doorbut Lucas faced it, and he made no motion that there was a spectator. But Lucas had a one-track mind. There was a possibility that he hadn't even been paying attention to whomever was outside looking in.
Dawn shook the thought away. It wasn't of her concern now. If Cyrus was embittered, he'd bring it up later when they were
alone. "Are we going back to your office?" Dawn asked quietly.
"No," Cyrus said. "You've had quite a bit going on today. I think it's sufficient that you rest. I'm going to walk you back to your room."
Flinching, Dawn sensed the irony in Cyrus's voice. That morning, Cyrus had taken her not once, but twice on top of his desk, deadpanning that it was "payment" for her reunion with Lucas that afternoon. By the end of the second round, Dawn felt used, sweaty, and exhausted, but Cyrus had given her time to recoup before allowing her to get dressed and see her friend. Indeed, she was tired, and her sleepiness was only amplified by her guilt from leaving Lucas so early. She only partially departed the interrogation room and his smiling, relieved face because of the five-minute time limitthe other half of her was overwhelmed by remorse that Lucas saw her in such a dirty, slutty state. He'd complimented her clothes, but he was unaware of the circumstances that gave her such nice things. In short, he was still Lucas, even over a month after their devastating capture and thwarting.
But she was not the Dawn that he had grown up with. She was a new Dawna more mature, serious, and passive.
And she was ashamed to be that Dawn.
"Let's go," Cyrus snapped, a bit rougher.
They went. Dawn still didn't meet his eyes.
When they arrived at Dawn's room, Jupiter stood beside the door and slipped her prisoner a very covert but comforting, motherly smile. Dawn's heart warmed right away. Ever since her stroke of kindness in the shower room after Cyrus had her for the first time, Jupiter and Dawn were becoming increasingly relaxed in each other's presence. Although there were a few days afterward of awkwardness, they thawed gradually to each other. Dawn was now unafraid to tell Jupiter her fears or worries, and Jupiter always listened with a open earand not the annoyed one she'd had in the beginning. Jupiter was the only member of Team Galacticother than her boss, of coursethat knew every detail about what went on behind Cyrus's closed office doors with Dawn, and she was not disturbed or bothered by it. She welcomed Dawn almost as a daughter, or a younger sister.
Dawn wished that Jupiter had been the one to pick her up rather than Cyrus, for the pair had walked in utter silence with the guards tailing and gossiping in a muted whisper. Cyrus's hands had stayed folded behind his back and Dawn's silky black curls making a curtain around her face to hide it from the dangerous man. There'd been nearly a foot of space between them, and neither were particularly eager to bridge that. Cyrus said nothing about Lucas, and Dawn didn't bring anything up about him. Instead, there had been silence.
And that was just fine with Dawn. Cyrus was only entitled to have his way with her. He wasn't deserving of her words.
"How was the meeting?" Jupiter asked Dawn.
"Fine," Dawn said. "He smells a bit odd, kind of musky." She frowned, loosening up greatly and almost forgetting that Cyrus was still beside her. "And his voice was a little raspy, too. I think he's taking up smoking." Not that Dawn condemned him for thatLucas probably did so just to fit in. Smoking was a gross addiction to her, but she loved Lucas and was eager to dismiss it involving him. He was much more muscular and twice as handsome nowand Dawn admitted, for just a moment in that interrogation room, she saw Lucas not as a childhood friend, but a very erotic man.
But she'd just let herself slip. She'd never felt that way about him beforenever had a twinge of sexual fire in her heart for that boy. Dawn attributed that brief attraction to Lucas as a byproduct of Cyrus's ugly idea of sex. A lump slithered down her throat. Good Arceus, she hoped that Cyrus hadn't noticed that about her.
"Captives often take up that habit," Cyrus said absently, "as a way to establish themselves in the prison hierarchy."
His gravelly voice made Dawn shiver and bite her lip. She hated him. Why was his speaking? Didn't he know that the sound of him made her want to scream?
"It is a common thing," Jupiter agreed. "Come, Dawn. It's getting late. Your dinner will be here soon, then I'll take you to wash your clothes and have a shower." The Commander looked over to her leader. "Unless you need her for something else?"
Dawn went rigid. Please say no.
As if reading her mind, Cyrus shook his head, and Dawn's shoulders slumped in respite. "No, I have nothing else for her today," he said. "She's all yours." He placed a hand on Dawn's back and gave her a small shove, urging her forward. Dawn scampered over to Jupiter, her stress releasing itself with each step.
Or, at least until Cyrus spoke again. "But I'll need her in my office tomorrow morning when she finishes her breakfast. I want to talk to her about today's meeting with the boy."
Dawn trembled. Sure, talk. She knew what he wanted, and even now, after so many days of this, it still angered her deeply.
"Of course, Cyrus," Jupiter said.
The Galactic leader inhaled loudly and nodded to his Commander before shifting his dark, even gaze to Dawn. A creeping emotion that made her want to shrink back into Jupiter like a meek child overcame her. "Sleep well, girl," he said. For only a second, he seemed to hesitate, as if he were going to say something more, but he grumbled inwardly and turned around, strolling away with a confident but plainly troubled gait.
Cyrus had never once been troubled in all the weeks that Dawn had known him.
Dawn barely heard Jupiter try and start a conversation, for now, she was lost in thought.
What is the matter with him?