"So, don't you like me better than Baylock?" Shaeido said. It wasn't a question.
Adrian internally smirked. He did prefer Shaeido over Mrs. Baylock, thought he liked both of them, but he decided to tease Shaeido a little.
"Well," he began, drawing out the word. "I don't know. You're more familiar, but she does seem more experienced than you are, and just a little bit smarter, too."
Shaeido scowled. "Don't get mouthy with me, kid."
"I'm just expressing my opinion," Adrian said, letting the impish smirk show on his face. "And I can see her in person more, too."
That was a true benefit of having more protectors, Adrian thought: being able to actually see them and interact with them. As close as he and Shaeido were, he barely ever saw him in the real world. Usually, they only saw each other and spoke when Shaeido contacted Adrian in his dreams and that wasn't all that often, either. He didn't like to admit it, but it made him a little upset.
Shaeido's expression softened, knowing Adrian didn't like the fact that they didn't see one another that much. "Hey, I wish I could see more of you too, kid. I kind of like you, you know. But I've got things to do, places to be, people to stalk."
"What do you mean?" Adrian asked. He knew Shaeido well, but what he did exactly, outside of mentoring him, was a mystery to Adrian.
"Well, since you asked," Shaeido began, with a grim smile. "See, there's this priest. He's called Father Brennan. And he's a traitor to our kind."
"Traitor?" Adrian was confused. Priests were humans, and didn't "their kind" mean satanic creatures like Shaeido and Mrs. Baylock, both demons, and he and Damien, the children of the Devil?
"Ah," Shaeido said, picking up on Adrian's confusion. "Let me explain. Brennan used to be a follower of Satan, but he feared divine punishment for his sins when he died, and so left our ways and became a priest."
"I see. So why is he so special that you're hunting him down?"
"You catch on quick, kid," Shaeido remarked. "He might not be so bad if he only converted and performed normal priestly duties, but he's doing things that have made him a threat, and we can't let it go unpunished."
"What has he been doing?" Adrian asked, and then thought the words over for another moment. "Wait. He's become a threat? Do you mean…he's trying to go after Damien and me?"
"You got it. Clever boy. What Brennan's doing is trying to warn Thorn of who his children truly are. He's tried to tell him that you both must be dealt with or more people besides Hallie -"
"Holly," Adrian automatically corrected, internally bristling at what this man was doing to them, and the fact that he had been referred to as Thorn's child.
"Yeah, her…Anyway, what he tried to say was that the two of you would cause more deaths than hers. He tried to tell Thorn where you really came from – "
"Wait. You keep saying, 'tried to.' Did he not get the words out completely?"
"No. And Thorn, like any reasonable person, didn't believe what he had been able to say, and had Brennan escorted out of his building. It's kind of like in a horror movie," he added. "Skeptics never believe the truth until too late, and by then, it's well, too late." Shaeido shrugged his shoulders in an 'Oh, well, too bad' gesture and smiled. "It's a safe bet Thorn won't realize the exact kind of trouble he's in until he's in too deep and drowning, and then…" Shaeido made a cutting motion across his throat with his index finger to indicate death.
Adrian said, "Is there any way I could know just what he said? I'd like to know exactly what he told Thorn."
"And what would you do with that?" Shaeido asked. Adrian knew he expected a certain right answer before he told Adrian anything, but was confident that his was the right answer.
"I want to know how much Thorn knows, and how much knowledge he might be able to gain from it. I also want to know what he thinks about what Brennan is trying to tell him, if any effect has been made."
"In short, you plan to use Brennan's meeting with Thorn to your advantage."
"Right. So do I pass?"
Shaeido gave a short laugh, and then nodded. "All right, kid, have a look."
His bright honeydew eyes locked onto Adrian's dark black ones, and appeared to flash once.
Adrian saw a spark of white, and then he saw what could only be Thorn's office. He was not 'there,' rather, he was seeing the events like a movie that took up all of his vision. Adrian took in the scene before him. Thorn sat at his desk, with two men standing before it. They had clearly been in the middle of conversation when Thorn's intercom buzzed. "Yes?" Thorn answered it.
"There's a Father Brennan here to see you," a businesslike female voice said.
"Who?" asked Thorn.
"A priest named Father Brennan from Rome. He says it's a matter of urgent personal business."
Rome, thought Adrian. Isn't that where Damien and I were both born?
"Never heard of him," Thorn said, a light note of puzzlement in his voice.
"He says he just needs a minute. Something about a hospital."
Our births, Adrian realized. That's what Brennan tried to tell him. He still detested the man, but part of him was eager to hear whatever Brennan could get out, to see if he could unravel by himself the secret of who had brought him into the world.
"Donation time?" one of the men in front of Thorn suggested, and they both smiled as though the idea were funny.
Thorn, however, did not, and said, "All right, send him in."
"Didn't know you were such a soft touch," the same man said, and he turned and left the room. The second man paused in his departure.
"On that trip to Saudi Arabia," he said, "why isn't it the right time?"
Saudi Arabia? Adrian thought, confused at first, then he remembered Thorn talking about taking a business trip there, and that it could be quite profitable for Thorn Industries. Did he decide not to go?
"Oh, it's personal, Tom, I just…don't feel like leaving home right now."
Ah. So he skips a chance to strike it rich in Saudi Arabia in favor of time at home? Adrian thought, wondering about the reason behind Thorn's decision. Somehow I don't think that's all.
Both men had left the room, making way for Thorn's new guest. Adrian eyed the large silver crucifix hanging on a chain from his neck, standing out against his dark suit, and identified him as Father Brennan.
"Yes, Father?" Thorn asked conversationally.
"We haven't much time," Brennan said, in a quiet, cryptic voice. "You must listen to what I have to say.
Clearly, he's not the kind for pleasantries, Adrian thought.
"All right, what is it?" asked Thorn, keeping the same light, friendly tone, but Adrian could sense slight unease behind it.
"You must accept Christ as your savior. You must accept him now."
Thorn definitely looked uneasy now, and confused. "Forgive me, Father, but didn't I understand that you have a matter of some urgent personal business?"
But Brennan offered no direct explanation, yet. "You must take Communion," he went on. "Drink the blood of Christ, and eat His flesh."
What? Adrian thought, wrinkling his nose. Now I'm even gladder I'm not Catholic, Christian, or anything of that nature. It sounds revolting.
"For only if He is within you can you defeat the sons of the Devil!" Brennan declared.
"I see," Thorn muttered, and Adrian knew he had no idea what Brennan was going on about.
"They've killed once! They'll kill again!" Brennan said, his voice rising, and becoming more urgent. "They'll kill until everything that's yours is theirs!"
Technically, it was Shaeido and that dog that killed Holly…not me or Damien. Adrian mentally contradicted. But then again, I may have to do some killing later on…Brennan has a point.
"Father, would you please – " Thorn started to say something, but Brennan cut him off.
"Only through Christ can you fight them!" he said, stepping closer to Thorn's desk. Then his voice lowered again, entreating Thorn to listen to him. "Accept the Lord Jesus. Drink his blood."
Thorn apparently didn't think it was worth dealing with this priest any more, and reached for the buzzer to call somebody.
"I've locked the door, Mr. Thorn," Brennan said.
"Yes?" the female voice answered Thorn's call.
"Would you send for a security guard, please?" he said calmly.
Brennan knew his time to speak was short, and his voice betrayed his desperation. "I beg you, Mr. Thorn, listen to what I have to say."
The buzzer went off, and the female voice answered Thorn in a slightly worried voice, "Ambassador Thorn?"
"I was at the hospital, Mr. Thorn, the night your son was born!" Brennan said.
That grabbed Adrian's attention. He listened now with rapt attention.
"Which of my sons are you referring to?" Thorn asked coolly.
"The younger boy. I witnessed the birth."
Adrian's heart fell at the knowledge that Brennan wasn't saying anything about his mother, but he perked up again when he remembered that finding out about Damien's mother was almost just as good. Almost.
The buzzer went off again. "Sir?"
"I beg you…" Brennan said again. The buzzer went off insistently.
"All right," Thorn muttered to the intercom. "Stand by." Then he addressed Brennan. "What do you want?"
"To save you, Mr. Thorn, so Christ will forgive me."
Adrian remembered what Shaeido had told him: that Brennan had once followed Satan, but had converted to faith in God. He thinks that if he can save Thorn's life by helping to kill Damien, he will receive retribution for his sins? Well, I can't let him succeed, no matter how desperate he is.
"What do you know about my sons?" Thorn demanded. He looked both apprehensive of and interested in Brennan's words, and Adrian knew that he too wondered about the birth parents of his children.
"And what is that?" asked Thorn, with strained calmness in his voice.
"The younger one. I saw its mother."
Adrian's heart leapt at the words, but his lip curled in contempt when Brennan referred to Damien as 'it.'
"You saw my wife," Thorn said. Adrian didn't know what he was trying to do by attempting to keep their adoptions hidden, but he knew one thing: His lie wasn't fooling any of them.
"I saw its mother," Brennan repeated, more forcefully.
"You're referring to my wife." Thorn's voice had grown more aggressive as well.
"Its mother, Mr. Thorn!"
Thorn stood up angrily. "If this is blackmail, then come out and say it! What is it that you're trying to say?"
"Its mother was a jack – "
Brennan's shout was cut off by the security guard kicking down the door, after his repeated knocks had gone unanswered. "Everything all right, sir?" he inquired.
"You sounded strange," said his secretary, who had followed behind the guard. Adrian realized it was probably her voice on the intercom. "The door was locked."
"I want this gentleman escorted out of here," Thorn ordered, looking at Brennan.
The guard obeyed immediately. "Okay, let's go." He took Brennan by the upper arm and started to half-lead, half-pull him out of the room. Brennan did not resist, but turned back to Thorn once. "Accept Christ," he said simply. "Each day. Drink His blood." Then he allowed the guard to take him out of the office.
The secretary stayed behind a moment, looking worriedly at Thorn. He nodded for her to go, and she left, closing the door behind her. Thorn was left alone in the room with a somber, contemplative expression on his face, and then Adrian's vision swept away into a whirlwind of color.
In a few seconds, he found himself back in the gray misty world of his dream, and Shaeido stood before him. "So, what did we learn from that?" he said, and then went on before Adrian could open his mouth to answer. "That Christians are vampires." He guffawed at his own joke, which he had probably told a thousand times before, but Adrian wasn't satisfied.
Tactical information was useful to an extent, but now that the vision was done, Adrian was frustrated that he hadn't gotten the answers he had been looking for. "Don't joke with me, Shaeido," he said. Shaeido's grin faltered, but he didn't seem too affected.
"I did learn a lot from that," Adrian went on, staring at Shaeido and focusing his gaze on the dark pupils of his light green, honeydew eyes, "but not enough. I want to learn one more thing from you, too."
Shaeido's jaw set. He knew what was coming, and he prepared himself for a fight. Adrian was ready to give one.
"Tell me who our mothers were. Damien's. And mine."
Aaagh. Was that a bad cliffhanger? I think it was. Bleh. Anyway, R&R, please!
Adrian: Hey, R&R means READ and review in fanfic-speak, doesn't it? Then why are you putting it at the end of a chapter, if they've already read it?
Kaen: …Shut up, Adrian.
Adrian: But it doesn't make sense to put it in an author's note at the END!
Kaen: Look, buddy, who's the Authoress here?
Adrian: Uh, you?
Kaen: So who's got the power?
Adrian: That would be…me.
Kaen: Let me rephrase that: I'm the Authoress and I'll put whatever the hell I want in my damn author's notes, which I will put wherever the hell I want! Capiche?
Adrian: Sì, ho capito, ho capito! Hai il potere. Il che significa che anche il potere di darmi un cucciolo. Mi piacciono i cuccioli. Damien mi ricorda un cucciolo. Oppure cuccioli mi ricordano Damien? Non mi interessa, voglio solo un cucciolo. Posso avere un cucciolo, Kaen?
Kaen: Wh-what? How are you speaking Italian?
Adrian: Because I'm cool like that. And because I was born in Italy. Ehi, la nota di questo autore sta diventando veramente lungo. È possibile scrivere le note dell'autore davvero lunga. Avete notato che, Kaen? Si può solo andare avanti e avanti e avanti e avanti e avanti e avanti e avanti e avanti e avanti e avanti e avanti –
Kaen: Okay, let's cut him off here before he gives me a migraine. Jikai made, dear readers! See, I can be multilingual too, Adrian…