Here is the fic, a sequel to First Impressions
Disclaimer: Don’t own DMC. If I did, Eva would be the unlockable in 3, like Sparda in 1 and Trish in 2.
Well, my original Eva back-story was that she was captured for use as a human sacrifice, her family getting killed in the process, and she was rescued by a Hunter who averted the ceremony and placed her with a foster family. She was originally English. She was originally supposed to be more trigger-happy, ala Mary Arkham.
Guns are very persuasive. The thing about Eva is that she really does write herself. My original conception of her was that she did world-saveage and had a magic-using partner to compensate for not having the strength Dante does, to fight devils solo. However, she turned down the whole partner thing and insisted on a huge aversion to world-savage. She knows when she’s not in her league. Don’t talk to her about Mary: she is firmly of the opinion that only she is allowed to shoot her family.
Frankly, I can’t see Eva and Sparda as love at first sight. They’re both pretty much people, especially him in canon, who have by now placed the subject of marriage in the not for me category: he’s a devil among humans who he has very little in common with…
I see them as getting closer until at one point while they’re going about their businesses they keep thinking about each other until they suddenly realize, “I’m in love with him/her. Wait, WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?!”
Both Sparda’s and Dante’s guns are dedicated For Tony Redgrave: here Tony is the traditional name for the eldest son. There’s the Tony who showed Sparda how to forge Lux and Umbra, Tony Sr. from First Impressions who trained Eva, Tony Jr. who trained Dante and is in Where You Are as just Tony Redgrave and is the old guy with the cig in the artbook, and ‘Tonto,’ who is the Tony of Dante’s generation and the one who was almost Dante’s partner along with Aisha, because an old guy wouldn’t have lasted 5 seconds.
This is in the same version of DMC as my other stories, taking place a while after First Impressions. Read that first.
And, as I said in my livejournal, I’m still not up to the level I want to be at when I’m working on DYDOM and so on. I’m definitely going to finish up those fics, so please bear with me until then: I’m very sorry to all my Yu-gi-oh readers. And I’m not going to do multi-chapter DMC fics because I don’t want to do to the DMC fandom what I’m doing to my other poor readers.
This fic plays around a lot with the various meanings and permutations of the word courtesy. And date.
Morgan is ‘of the sea,’ George is ‘farmer,’ Sarah is ‘princess,’ Dolores is ‘Lady of sorrows,’ Toby is ‘The Lord is good,’ Gabriel ‘Hero of God,’
Earl is derived from a word for elf.
There is, IRL, a bank in Germany named Sparda.
Oh, and this is The Four Seasons Restaurant, not hotel. Founded 1959.
The meeting was over. The rulers of the financial world got up from around the circular table and engaged in small talk about the various presidential appointments: which would get past the Senate.
George Morgan noticed one of the foreigners heading for the door. Who was it? Oh yes. Sir Lucian. One of the Swiss banks, the ‘Sparda’ one… Odd get-up. Really, some of the Europeans just hadn’t grasped that the days of the nobleman were over. Velvet and brocade yet. Far too old-fashioned. Even a monocle. Pity, he seemed like a sharp type otherwise. Had only spoken up twice, but both times it was to say something that everyone had to pause a second to think about. Had a reputation as a sleeping giant: played ball unless someone contravened his principles: very good at handling governments: essential with Europe still recovering…
He smoothed his silk shirt and adjusted his designer glasses, and moved over to intercept him. The fellow noticed his approach and turned to greet him.
“Mr. Morgan.” von Schwärzung bowed to him. No reason to take those titles seriously. It wasn’t like they meant anything nowadays. The fellow hadn’t insisted on them. “My condolences on the death of your wife.”
How had he…? The question must have shown on his face, for the fellow continued, “She had some overseas accounts with us, so we received the death notice. I made sure personally that they were transferred to your control to be held in trust for your children, as per her instructions. The paperwork was completed on the second.”
Children… “My wife and I have… had only one child. But thank you very much for the help: what with all the new financial rigamarole, having to cross the Ts and dot the Is, it was very kind of you.”
“No trouble at all.” He bowed in that ostentatiously old-fashioned way, heels clicking. Almost a military bearing. But real sympathy, underneath the composed shell. “But I thought you had had three? I’ve received three invitations from you, several years ago, although I was unable to attend, Switzerland being isolated by the war…”
“Our daughters… there was a tragedy several years ago, and our eldest, Sarah died. Dolores never recovered… we still have our son, Toby, however. He’s a great, great comfort to us.”
“I’m terribly sorry to bring it up. You have my deepest respect, for holding up so well under the circumstances.” He bowed again, this time with an element of true deference instead of mere formality. “It’s always difficult to lose people.” His eyes were sympathetic.
Of course… Switzerland had been neutral, but even so they’d been surrounded by the war… the Swiss were fellow mongrels, weren’t they? French and German and a bit of Italian… Lucian was… mid-fifties, wasn’t he? It was hard to tell, but he was sure he remembered, you had to respect your fellows enough to keep track of who they were. Predators in this business. Both world wars… what an era they lived in. No wonder the bright kids were all going insane with all their drugs and so on…
“Here,” Morgan said, “Do you want to go out for a drink right now?”
“I’m sorry,” and he truly was sorry, Morgan could tell. The guy was really winning him over, it was rare that people were this nice and meant it. “But I have a previous engagement at… oh my. I’d better hurry, it’s almost 4. But I should be free tomorrow…?”
“I’m going to have to make arrangements tomorrow.” Morgan sighed.
“One moment…” Lucian looked in his pockets. “Ah. Here’s my card, it has where I’m staying while I’m in New York, feel free to call at any time, and I’d be honored to be invited to the funeral. If I can be of any assistance whatsoever, don’t hesitate to call.” He bowed again, trying not to glance at the door. “I’m dreadfully sorry, but…”
“Go ahead. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me when you’re in such a hurry.”
“Oh, I’ll be fine. I detest being late, so I always schedule more than enough time for situations like these… it’s just in the restaurant downstairs.” Lucian shrugged it off.
“Oh? Then might I accompany you?” This formal stuff was contagious.
A slight smile. “I’m terribly sorry, but it’s with a young lady, and it would be rather awkward…”
Morgan laughed. So the guy was human after all.
“So, you’re just looking me up for no real reason?”
That same little one-second laugh. “Does anyone ever do anything for no reason whatsoever? I wanted to talk to you again for several, Ms. Tod.”
“Call me Eva. If you managed to track me down, you at least know that much.” She looked around. The Four Seasons Restaurant. Hadn’t been here in…
Classy place, but he was paying for it. Was it usually open for tea? She sipped her water.
He laughed again. She raised her eyebrow. “Huh?”
“That was rather clever of you. When we met before?” He prompted.
She snorted. “You figured it out?”
“Well, going from quite reasonable distrust to acquiescence so quickly… it was rather obvious, actually. Not that you’re a bad actor, but, well, I do have a lot of experience at reading people.” He shrugged.
“Well, you’d pretty well demonstrated there wasn’t anything I could do to stop you doing anything you felt like doing, so I figured…” She shrugged back, smiling.
“You figured that you’d give me the opportunity to poison you if I wanted to take you out quietly: if you stayed alive and in control of yourself, you would be able to quit worrying quite so much?”
“I still don’t trust you trust you, though.” She smiled. It was nice not to be underestimated for once, although she’d hoped that perhaps he would be convinced she had just given up on thinking for the day… but hadn’t really expected it.
“Quite reasonable. And it was very well done, Ms. Williams.” He bowed his head in acknowledgement.
The waiter appeared silently, but they both were well aware of their surroundings. Sparda inclined his head, indicating she could order first. The chair legs and the tables hid his shadow, but she knew what was there. “Coffee.” She said abruptly to the waiter. This place… being around someone seemingly so naturally courteous, and not the piss-someone-off and die courtesy of the mob, but then the old nobility had had power as well, hadn’t they?
It was taking an effort not to fall into old habits.
“And could I have Earl Grey tea, perhaps?” Sparda smiled at the waiter. Well done. Very well done. Made him forget her rudeness instead of calling attention to it by comparison.
Well, like he’d said. He’d had a lot of practice. She had to be careful.
“Doesn’t it,” She waved her hand, “get kind of old, being so… isn’t it a strain?”
“Well,” he (it?) said, steepeling his hands, “I’m rather used to it. Warrior cultures and cultures in which it’s hard to get away from people often have to develop elaborate rituals to avoid giving offence as a practical matter: we are no different. Look at England and Japan for instance.”
“Islands… so it’s hard to avoid people, getting in each other’s space? But I thought he…” She stopped herself. “Where you’re from was… rather large?”
He nodded. “One can create as large a domain as one likes: the issue is more one of time than space. It’s a wise thing to avoid making enemies whom one is going to have to deal with for a long time, Ms. Williams.”
Her eyes narrowed. “I told you to call me Eva. So you did do background research on me? Tony seemed rather friendly with you…”
He shook his head. “I once had occasion to be of some assistance to one of his ancestors: as the boy had no where else to go I had him placed afterwards with a foster family on one of my estates. He later prevailed on me to teach him to be a hunter by stating he would do so one day even without my instruction… I’ve kept up with them since, but most hunters are much less… by acting as trainers and weapons makers the Redgraves save many lives. If they were known to be allied to me, it would cripple them. So I seek their aid as little as possible. Asking them to turn over information on a hunter…” He shrugged.
“So how did you know?”
“Well, I do try to keep track of where there are competent hunters… I don’t require money for my work, and it would be ill of me to deny them opportunities to use their skills and support themselves… I feel that humanity should be capable of defending itself, and hindering the development of its ability to do so would serve it ill, don’t you agree?”
“That’s very kind of you, Sp… what should I call you? I can’t call you that in public.”
“I go by Ritter Lucian Thaddeus von Schwärzung. You may call me anything you like, Ms. Williams.”
“Ritter means knight, right? You said estates just now, and you mentioned you had a bunch of titles that time? How’d you get them?”
“Well, a lot of them are just formalities, given for services to various crowns of the saving their kingdoms variety: a few came with lands attached. It would have caused them to be offended and worried if I had turned them down, and once I had them…” He shrugged. “I had to play the part, to look after the people.”
“Apparently you’ve done rather well for yourself.” She prodded.
“Rent money does rather seem to accumulate over time when one doesn’t do much but reinvest it in the farmers. I gave some of it to Johann… a member of another one of the families I seem to have accumulated, to found a bank to give out affordable loans and invest money for people in 1672… he named it Sparda, which is rather embarrassing, but it’s managed to acquire a bit of a reputation, so it wouldn’t be prudent to change the name…” He shrugged sheepishly.
“I suppose if you’re around for long enough… how old are you?”
“Well, I’ve spent coming up on 1973 years on earth, and what I think works out to around 6000 in what you call hell: we’re not very precise about timekeeping, as it is possible to make time run at different speeds in different domains.”
“What do you call it?” She asked.
He laughed. “Curious, aren’t we?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Most demons don’t talk, and I’ve never been around one who wasn’t trying to kill me.”
“Know thy enemy? Indeed. Well…” He stopped as the waiter came within earshot.
“Here you go, Sir, Madam.” He filled the fine china cups already on the table with hot water and coffee respectively, then left the teapot and carafe along with several tea bags, cream, sugar and lemon slices.
“Thank you.” Spa… von shwars… Lucian said, bowing his head just slightly enough to indicate gratitude without it being awkward for a ‘servant.’
“You’re welcome.” The waiter bowed and left.
Lucian put the tea bag in to steep. “It’s rather hard to translate between our ‘languages’…” He could put quotes around something.
The waiter had come back with a tray of biscuits, cakes, those ridiculous sandwiches… “Compliments of the house, Sir.” He said, putting plates in front of them.
“Very kind of you. Please, give the manager my thanks. However…” He shrugged apologetically.
The waiter looked at her and back to Lucian. “Yes, sir. Have a pleasant time.” He bowed and left.
She looked around. There was no one else there, she’d been aware for a while. Dinner for those who patronized this place didn’t start until 8 at the earliest… Lucian could have this place be open just for them to have tea? What message was he sending with that? She sipped her coffee.
Lucian selected a modest amount of the dainties. He liked chocolate?
Well… power, certainly. Wealth and influence. He was in New York negotiating something financial… Really, this thing was so ceremonial. So ostentatiously civilized. He knew how to read people, he knew the she would be able to interpret all the little things he was doing…
“Your father is holding up rather well, I think you’ll be pleased to know.” He said quietly, stirring two sugars into a cup of rather dark tea.
She took another sip of the coffee. The éclairs looked good…
“Soft shadow… enfolding dark… warm stability… cool slumber… this place still seems harsh and glaring, sometimes. So chaotic, so changing, one year’s modernity another’s ancient history. A line, but not a straight and narrow one, heading this direction then another, chasing its tail or going in a seemingly new direction altogether. None of the cycles, traditions overthrown… you have so little time. You are so rarely remembered. To have what you have cut shor…”
“Pass me the cream.”
He handed it over. She stirred half of it in, and topped off the cup.
“You feel alike.”
“We’re nothing alike. Pass the sugar.”
It was in her hand as soon as the word left her lips. “He did love her, you know.”
“It was a marriage of convenience.” One scoop with the little silver spoon.
“Why else look so long to find her?” Not falling for it. Another scoop, and stir.
“They didn’t find her.” Making a little ringing noise.
“They found the others, the hunters he hired. He brought home her shell to be honored.”
The coffee was occasionally coming over the rim of the cup. “He didn’t let me look.”
“It was too late the day she disappeared.” He sighed.
“Because she got engaged to Gabriel. Because she wasn’t a virgin. Three of them, tossed to rot in the forest.”
She said quietly. “Did you do it. Did you organize that cult.”
She finally met his gaze. “Then don’t you dare say you’re sorry. It’s meaningless.”
“It’s never meaningless.” He drank some of the tea. “I’m sorry. I sorrow. Thank you. I am thankful to you. Goodbye. God be with you. Language is so imprecise, compared to thought. They say it’s the thought that counts, and for my kind it is, but how can anything matter if it is not known?”
“God?” She laughed.
“If ‘devils’ exist…” He shrugged.
“I hope God doesn’t exist. Because if he does, I’d have to kill him.” She was quiet now. The mini-cheesecakes were good.
“Ultimate truth… do you know, quite often,” he made the point with his teacup, “the only way to tell the truth is to lie?”
“How so?” She had a pretty good idea.
“This form I take, these mannerisms… my kind take whatever form is suitable for the circumstances. You are born in bodies that have nothing to do with your selves. To express yourselves, you must hide the reality of your body with clothing and makeup, among other things. You develop little artificial rituals to tell each other, yes, I am one of you, I am not the other, I am not the enemy, when you are all people, and you are all individuals. So, to express the truth about myself, I must wear a mask, I must speak a foreign language, I must use as set of mannerisms not native to my species, to express the truth: that I am well disposed towards you.”
“You know, these dried fruit things are good.”
“Have you tried the fudge? Apparently it’s good with coffee.”
“When did you get here?”
“It works out to January 7th, the year 5 BC.”
“To New York.”
“Last month. Why?”
“Ah, now you’re asking questions. It must be quite rare for you to not know something.”
“There are a lot of things I don’t know. I wanted to meet with you to find some of them out, but you’ve been quite good at deflecting the discussion.”
“Ask away then. I want to pay for this somehow.” She said with her mouth slightly full.
“You don’t want to be beholden to me?”
“I hate being beholden to people, but this won’t balance the scales any.”
He cocked his head. His eyes… she wondered if it was deliberate. Hellspawn’s eyes were ornamental, they didn’t use light to see, she’d found out when she tried to toss paint on them in one of her first fights. Before she’d tracked down Redgrave. The payment had been dated April second. The rescued sacrifices had arrived the day before. She’d been so certain her sister… she was a fool.
Either she’d been misreading him, and how could she know she was? Everything he did was artificial.
But the root of artifice is art, and an artist always ends up putting in more than they know.
Was no one ever grateful to him? Well, the Redgraves, but he was right. They did have to hide it. If there were families he protected, who grew up knowing him, were they the only ones he could show a lie one shade closer to the truth?
To watch people grow old and die, always moving so people wouldn’t be able to notice you never died, living in exile away from everyone who knew you, everyone who was capable of knowing you…
“It’s quite all right.” He smiled wryly, trying to cover up that slight tinge of sadness in his eyes.
“So, what do you want to know?”
He laughed. “Everything. But on a practical level… I’m trying to gather information about the recent level of demonic activity, there are a couple things that don’t seem quite right: the Redgraves and others I know haven’t noticed anything, but I think perhaps they, mostly being coordinators, and having seen the records, have access to a little too much information. I wanted to see what feel someone who knew only the basics, an ‘average foot soldier,’ if you will, was getting, and since you’re well above average and willing to talk to me…” He shrugged.
“How recent?” She asked.
“I’m not quite sure. I first got a feeling something was slightly off while I was in Africa a few months ago…”
Really. This was rather jarring. Here she was, talking. She never talked to anyone. And he was um-huming and nodding and asking little questions that either made her notice something she would never have thought to notice or were obviously enough wrong that they made her organize her thoughts about what was right.
Here she was talking with a devil. The enemies of humanity. The beings her sister hadn’t made the cut to be food too. He’d saved the world. He could have sold us out at any time. He still could. It could all be some maniacal plan. It’s not paranoia… but was this one out to get her?
It was… interesting, to ‘talk shop.’ Demon hunters tended to get defensive of their ‘territories,’ fanatical about working out their own personal vengeances, resentful of anyone who told them they couldn’t save them all…
She knew she couldn’t. They did too. But at least she could admit to herself that she was just a woman with a few tricks, a few spells, a few blue orbs. Fight off a horde? Yeah. Right.
She tried to avoid, tried to nip in the bud, the high-profile stuff. Yet, it’d come close a few times.
And she knew she was good. Of course, all fighter pilots said they were the best too. If you weren’t the best, you died. And a lot of them did. Because they were stronger, faster, even smarter in a limited way, even the cannon fodder.
It just… good triumphed a little too often, she knew, for what she knew. Barring divine intervention… perhaps it was devilish.
Perhaps it was this… man, in front of her, with the preoccupied, eccentric, old-fashioned air of quiet competence and authority.
Not hiding the fact the he could probably kill you in several thousand ways in a second, but making it so that it was dismissed before it was even thought. Not hiding his nature, his shadowed past that followed him everywhere, just showing you, telling you, in a hundred little ways, in every aspect of his crafted self, that it wasn’t important to you, because you had nothing to fear.
Power shown not by feverish following of the moment, but in security: an immovable object, not an unstoppable force.
A seal, a shield, the legend said he had created with his sword.
A devil fighting to protect the peace of humanity.
Really. Truth was stranger than fiction. Speaking of which…
“So, what did you think of the movie they did of the legend?”