Note: A couple of people have asked, having read "An Unusual Interest" and then its sequel, "A Smile That Spells Trouble", and have openly wondered, "Exactly what did Father Tres DO that got Sister Johanna that mad at Father William?" After much pondering on my part, I finally figured it out. I spare myself no embarrassment, because the universe never does.
The Worst Sense of Timing
Father Tres made his way through the crowd of people who were mingling at the Vatican diplomatic reception. He recognized several of the higher-ranking members of the Vatican hierarchy, along with quite a few of his fellow AX members. Unlike most of his colleagues, Tres was not one of the ones who had to worry about how he behaved at this sort of reception, as opposed to Father Abel, for example, who was garnering some strange looks from a few people nearby as he continued to heap sugar into his tea.
A sudden laugh, feminine yet rich, caught his hearing, and Tres turned to see the person he was looking for standing just behind Father Abel. Moving through the maze of tables and chairs, he approached Sister Johanna, who was openly laughing at something that Father Leon had said, because the priest was grinning widely as well.
"Sister Johanna Sinclair."
At the sound of his voice, the nun turned around, and Tres' sharp eyes noted the slight flush on her cheeks and the faintly raspy quality of her voice, indicating the likelihood that since speaking to her earlier, she had consumed at least one or two more glasses of wine.
"Father Tres," she said with a smile. "What can I do for you?"
"Careful, Johanna," Leon warned her, a teasing grin on his face. "A man could take that the wrong way."
"Bah, this is Father Tres," Johanna said, waving one hand in dismissal. "I'm as safe as houses with him."
Which was why of every single person in the room, she was the most startled when Tres moved to her side, took a firm hold of her wrist, pulled her to him, and kissed her full on the mouth. She was so shocked that for just a second, she was frozen in place, then she finally managed to come to her senses enough to pull free.
"What on earth are you DOING?!" she hissed, her hazel eyes huge in her face. Absolutely mortified, she realized that everyone in the room was staring at the two of them with expressions ranging from disapproval to disbelief. Father Leon's mouth was actually hanging open, while Father Abel had inadvertently dumped his cup of tea in his lap.
Tres, however, answered her at his usual volume, and his voice carried clearly in the silence.
"Nine minutes and forty-eight seconds ago, you expressed a curiosity about my physical construction and ability."
The slight flush on her cheeks became more pronounced as Father Leon closed his mouth and gave Johanna an arch look.
"Oh, really?" He and Father Abel exchanged knowing glances, and Johanna's blush deepened even further.
"It was nothing," she said hastily, frantically gesturing to Tres behind her back. Tres wasn't certain what she was trying to convey, however, so he went on.
"Linguistic and voice analysis of your inquiry, as well as your elevated pheremone level, indicates that-"
Again Johanna tried to cut him off. "Father Tres, I really don't think-"
The cyborg, however, was frowning in confusion. After seeking clarification from Father Wordsworth earlier, and receiving confirmation of Sister Johanna Sinclair's intentions, he was now uncertain as to why her physical desires had abruptly changed.
"If your interest was in sexual relations, I wish to know why you did not simply ask."
The silence around them became almost deafening as all eyes went from Tres to Johanna and back. Tres' hearing caught a few shocked whispers and a faint giggle (the latter which he recognized as Sister Esther Blanchett), but he waited patiently in front of Sister Johanna for an answer to his question.
It took a full three minutes by Tres' calculations before Johanna seemed to be able to speak.
"Father Tres, I really don't think that this is either the time or place to be discussing this."
Tres nodded in confirmation.
"Positive. As stated earlier, etiquette demands that we remain at this function until its conclusion. However, after its completion, I shall accompany you 'somewhere quiet' where you may conduct your physical analysis."
He was pleased to have resolved this matter with relatively little difficulty. However, he then had to deal with a new immediate problem...
... more specifically, the fact that Sister Johanna Sinclair had just let out a scream of frustration and then slapped him full force across the face.