Home > Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1)(11)

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1)(11)
Author: James S.A. Corey

The father shrugged, but he smiled.

“Kids?” he asked.

“No,” Miller said. “But I’ve a got a divorce about that old.”

They chuckled together as if it was funny. In his imagination, Candace crossed her arms and looked away. The soft oil-and-ozone-scented breeze announced the tube’s arrival. Miller let father and child go first, then chose a different compartment.

The tube cars were round, built to fit into the evacuated passages. There were no windows. The only view would have been stone humming by three centimeters from the car. Instead, broad screens advertised entertainment feeds or commented on inner planet political scandals or offered the chance to gamble away a week’s pay at casinos so wonderful that your life would seem richer for the experience. Miller let the bright, empty colors dance and ignored their content. Mentally, he was holding up his problem, turning it one way and then the other, not even looking for an answer.

It was a simple mental exercise. Look at the facts without judgment: Havelock was an Earther. Havelock was in a portside bar again and looking for a fight. Havelock was his partner. Statement after statement, fact after fact, facet after facet. He didn’t try to put them in order or make some kind of narrative out of them; that would all come later. Now it was enough to wash the day’s cases out of his head and get ready for the immediate situation. By the time the tube reached his station, he felt centered. Like he was walking on his whole foot, was how he’d described it, back when he had anyone to describe it to.

The Blue Frog was crowded, the barn-heat of bodies adding to the fake-Mumbai temperature and artificial air pollution. Lights glittered and flashed in seizure-inducing display. Tables curved and undulated, the backlight making them seem darker than merely black. Music moved through the air with a physical presence, each beat a little concussion. Hasini, standing in a clot of steroid-enhanced bouncers and underdressed serving girls, caught Miller’s eyes and nodded toward the back. Miller didn’t acknowledge anything; he just turned and made his way through the crowd.

Port bars were always volatile. Miller was careful not to bump into anyone if he could help it. When he had to choose, he’d run into Belters before inner planet types, women before men. His face was a constant mild apology.

Havelock was sitting alone, with one thick hand wrapping a fluted glass. When Miller sat down beside him, Havelock turned toward him, ready to take offense, nostrils flared and eyes wide. Then the surprise registered. Then something like sullen shame.

“Miller,” he said. In the tunnels outside, he would have been shouting. Here, it was barely enough to carry as far as Miller’s chair. “What’re you doing here?”

“Nothing much to do at the hole,” Miller said. “Thought I’d come pick a fight.”

“Good night for it,” Havelock said.

It was true. Even in the bars that catered to inner planet types, the mix was rarely better than one Earther or Martian in ten. Squinting out at the crowd, Miller saw that the short, stocky men and women were nearer a third.

“Ship come in?” he asked.


“EMCN?” he asked. The Earth-Mars Coalition Navy often passed through Ceres on its way to Saturn, Jupiter, and the stations of the Belt, but Miller hadn’t been paying enough attention to the relative position of the planets to know where the orbits all stood. Havelock shook his head.

“Corporate security rotating out of Eros,” he said. “Protogen, I think.” A serving girl appeared at Miller’s side, tattoos gliding over her skin, her teeth glowing in the black light. Miller took the drink she offered him, though he hadn’t ordered. Soda water.

“You know,” Miller said, leaning close enough to Havelock that even his normal conversational voice would reach the man, “it doesn’t matter how many of their asses you kick. Shaddid’s still not going to like you.”

Havelock snapped to stare at Miller, the anger in his eyes barely covering the shame and hurt.

“It’s true,” Miller said.

Havelock rose lurching to his feet and headed for the door. He was trying to stomp, but in the Ceres spin gravity and his inebriated state, he misjudged. It looked like he was hopping. Miller, glass in hand, slid through the crowd in Havelock’s wake, calming with a smile and a shrug the affronted faces that his partner left behind him.

The common tunnels down near the port had a layer of grime and grease to them that air scrubbers and astringent cleaners could never quite master. Havelock walked out, shoulders hunched, mouth tight, rage radiating from him like heat. But the doors of the Blue Frog closed behind them, the seal cutting off the music like someone hitting mute. The worst of the danger had passed.

“I’m not drunk,” Havelock said, his voice too loud.

“Didn’t say you were.”

“And you,” Havelock said, turning and stabbing an accusing finger at Miller’s chest. “You are not my nanny.”

“Also true.”

They walked together for maybe a quarter of a kilometer. The bright LED signs beckoned. Brothels and shooting galleries, coffee bars and poetry clubs, casinos and show fights. The air smelled like piss and old food. Havelock began to slow, his shoulders coming down from around his ears.

“I worked homicide in Terrytown,” Havelock said. “I did three years vice at L-5. Do you have any idea what that was like? They were shipping kids out of there, and I’m one of three guys that stopped it. I’m a good cop.”

“Yes, you are.”

“I’m damn good.”

“You are.”

They walked past a noodle bar. A coffin hotel. A public terminal, its displays running a free newsfeed: COMMUNICATION PROBLEMS PLAGUE PHOEBE SCIENCE STATION. NEW ANDREAS K GAME NETS 6 BILLION DOLLARS IN 4 HOURS. NO DEAL IN MARS, BELT TITANIUM CONTRACT. The screens glowed in Havelock’s eyes, but he was staring past them.

“I’m a damn good cop,” he said again. Then, a moment later: “So what the hell?”

“It’s not about you,” Miller said. “People look at you, they don’t see Dmitri Havelock, good cop. They see Earth.”

“That’s crap. I was eight years in the orbitals and on Mars before I ever shipped out here. I worked on Earth maybe six months total.”

“Earth. Mars. They’re not that different,” Miller said.

“Try telling that to a Martian,” Havelock said with a bitter laugh. “They’ll kick your ass for you.”

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