Chapter Two

Dealings Between Brothers

Durian had been walking the perimeter. Usually that was Limry's job, but given who they were visiting, he'd even more then happy to volunteer. As it was, he hadn't seen Joe in twelve years. He would have been more then happy to let that number continue to go up to lucky number thirteen and beyond, but Joe had to make things difficult. He liked to think he was so much better then them because the family hadn't cast him out. Durian was convinced it was only a matter of time before Joe joined him in his disowned state. Just because he wasn't publicly acknowledged as a criminal didn't mean that he wouldn't be found out eventually.

One day Joresh would run out of people to betray.

Stepping into the shop behind his brother, it wasn't hard to see what was going on. His idiot sibling was causing trouble again. The only unknown factor was the girl standing between Limry and the captain. She was pretty despite the grease and rust staining her features. He'd have to keep her away from the other two. They liked collecting pretty things.

"Hello little brother. Did you miss me?"

His brother's reaction to hearing his voice was well-worth having to deal with the piece of dushon. His brother's skin shifted to a sickly shade of blue, the flowing movement of his tentacles stopped turning stiff and jerky. Joresh turned and stared, eyes wide, the pupil eating up all of the iris as he just stared at the brother his family hated so much.

Joresh's lips peeled back in a snarl of disgust, black over sharpened white teeth except for a garish silver fang that sat on the right side of his mouth. "You dare show your face to me?" he hissed voice full of self-righteous rage.

Durian's smile refused to fade. It wasn't often he got to be the reason for someone's outrage or fear. The fact that it was his own Blood just made it all that much sweeter. "Tell me Joresh, what are you going to do? Really. This is good money and I've no doubt you need it." Or at the very least, he would want it. He'd always been a greedy bastard. And in this case, it would work in their favor.

"Double charge. Half now. In silvers. You don't get credit, don't even ask."

"Fine," the Captain said with an easy shrug. "Durian, will you stay with your brother, the girl and myself while Limry goes and gets the silver for dear little Joresh." It was an order wrapped in a sweetly worded request and he and Limry both knew it. One did not argue with the Captain, no matter how kind he might sound. Only a fool did that.

"How will your Limry know how much to bring? Joe never gives a price until after an estimate's been done."

The girl's voice was surprising. Actually, Durian was more surprised by the fact that she could speak at all. The voice that came from her was soft and light, but not high or ragged as he might have expected. It was almost... endearing. And damn but if she didn't have a point.

Durian's eyes flicked to his Captain again, seeing the smirk curling the other man's lips. "What do you say Joresh?" The Captain was practically purring now, wicked delight shining in his dark eyes. He was enjoying Joresh's discomfort and the control that he held in this situation far too much. "Why don't we all take a little trip?"

His younger brother snorted and shook his head. "Not all. The girl stays," Joresh ordered.

Durian could see the hope starting to light the girl's face. He wanted to say something, but the Captain beat him to it. "Now Joresh, don't be silly. We're not going to let you leave the girl behind to get the authorities for you. Now be a good lad and come along." He could almost hear his brother grinding his teeth. The hope flickered from the girl's face only to be replaced by a look of something like defeat or helplessness. Had she hoped to get help for Joresh or had she hoped that perhaps he cared, even just a little. He could have saved her from that hope and would have given the chance.

"Just close down the shop and come along Joresh," he ordered his brother, shaking his head. "The Captain doesn't like you as it is. Don't tempt him." He wished he could not care, but they needed their ship repaired and despite everything, Joresh was still his brother. That accident of birth could never be changed.

"Limry love, why don't you run on ahead and get everything ready for us. Durian and I will bring along our guests."

The shapeshifter actually pouted. Durian knew why. She was eyeing the girl. How Shelish put up with her wife was beyond him. Luckily enough, the scout didn't argue with their Captain, but left instead, tossing her long dark hair over her shoulder as she flounced off into the night. She was also the most intelligent and dangerous creature he'd ever encountered. Or, least one of them.

"Durian, if you'd be so kind," the Captain drew his attention with a tone that was almost sweet. From the look on Joresh's face, that sweetness had not gone unnoticed. His brother's features were twisted with disgust. The Captain saw it and his own smile was twisted with his sick glee. "Why don't you escort your brother's little pet here and I'll take care of our good Joresh."

He hesitated a moment before half-bowing to his Captain and stepping away from Joresh. He'd only taken two steps when he saw the Captain's eyes darken. He started to duck low, spinning around, his tentacles lashing out, but it was already too late. Something hard slammed against his temple. If he hadn't reacted when he did, it would have hit his throat and with that force...

There was no doubt, his brother had just tried to kill him.