Robin returned to the kitchen, where Jana had placed a saucer of cream for the cat on the floor. The silver-gray feline sprinted forward from her place at Robin’s side to intercept the treat, her tail twitching from side to side as she drank.
The young witch approached her grandmother, who saw the downcast green eyes hidden by long wisps of chestnut-blonde hair. “Robin?” Jana asked, concerned.
“We’re to leave for Siena now,” she answered, folding her hands in front of her. She hid her eyes from Jana, who had detected a note of sorrow in her voice.
The grandmother’s eyes softened. Too soon they have found each other...before both of them know the truth. They hide too much.
“How do you plan to get there?” Jana asked her. It seemed a reasonable question; Amon had not even mentioned calling a taxi.
Robin shook her head slowly, from side to side. “Non lo so.”
Jana’s heart ached as she gazed upon the girl, sensing her inner turmoil. She devised a new course of action to distract Robin from her introspection.
“So...what should we name this gatta we have here?” she asked, eyeing the cat, putting her hands on her hips authoritatively as if in mock annoyance. “Pelosa intrusa?”
The name made the corners of Robin’s mouth turn upwards. “Non,” she answered. She looked at the cat’s sleek silver fur, her feline grace, her wise green eyes. “Something nicer.”
Jana held her chin, thinking, glancing up at Robin as she did. “What about....’Bast’?”
“Bast?” Robin repeated, looking up at her grandmother in confusion. “ Che cos'è quello?” “Bast was an Egyptian goddess,” Jana explained, reaching down to touch the silver fur again, and the cat responded affectionately in kind. “She was a beautiful but fierce goddess, protector and avenger of the Sun god Ra. She had the body of a woman, but the head of a cat.” She looked up at Robin, who seemed fascinated by the explanation. “She is also the guardian of pregnant mothers and children...she is invoked upon hopes of fertility.”
“Is?” Robin asked. “Do people still worship such an ancient goddess?”
Jana laughed. “Of course they do, bambina...the Etruscans, and later Greeks and Romans kept her image alive, in different forms. To this day, there are people who pay her homage.” Her smile was one of knowing. “The myth says that she was created from the fire of the eyes of Ra, as a creature of vengeance...” she said slowly, “...to punish Man for his sins.”
Robin’s eyes widened. “Punish...?” she asked, startled. That didn’t sound like such a nice myth, after all.
But then again...have you been doing any differently with Witches? her conscience nagged, being their final judge and jury?
“But she did more than punish. She was also peaceful, a protector of the righteous,” Jana asserted, petting the cat once more. “Ah...in any case...’Bast’ makes a good name for her.” The cat seemed to purr in affirmative response.
Amon appeared in the doorway. He was dressed in a long, light tan-colored jacket, with a dark shirt underneath; different than his usual black trench coat. Robin looked at him curiously, wondering when he had obtained the jacket. Perhaps he had purchased it before they had left for Italy.
He looked at Robin, realizing she was still dressed in her usual attire. “We should leave soon,” he stated abruptly.
“Should I...” she began hesitantly, looking down at her bibbed dress, “...change my clothes also?”
Amon paused, before fishing in the pocket of his jacket for something. “It would be advisable to wear something different, not clerical. Put these on,” he said, handing her a pair of dark sunglasses. “And wear your hair down,” he said, almost as an afterthought, glancing at her chestnut-blonde locks. “Your hairstyle is your trademark.”
“Si,” she answered softly, and Jana spoke up from behind her.
“I have something you can wear instead of your dress...come with me to the bedroom, I help you find it.” She hurried out of the room, Robin following close behind.
In Robin’s bedroom, Jana went straight to the closet, fishing out a garment covered by clear plastic wrapping, as though it had been professionally cleaned. “This should fit you nicely,” she said, holding it up to her granddaughter’s chest, smiling gently.
Robin looked at the item Jana held in front of her. It looked to be a sleeveless ivory-colored cashmere knit top, with a scooped neckline, and matching cashmere shawl. It suddenly dawned on her whose clothing this was.
She shook her head slowly, her green eyes pained. “Nonna...non posso...”
“Nonsense, bambina. She would want you to wear it, were she alive today,” Jana asserted. She looked from her granddaughter to the outfit and back again. “You are a bit skinnier than she was at this age...but it will fit you. Try it on.” She went back to the closet, leaving Robin holding the wrapped clothing, and fished out another item, this time a long black skirt. “This too,” she insisted. “Maria had shorter skirts than yours in her wardrobe...but I don’t think you want to try too much too soon,” she said, glancing back at her granddaughter again with a wink.
Robin looked down at herself. This would be interesting.
Moments later, Robin emerged from her bedroom, followed by Jana.
As she stepped into the foyer facing the kitchen, she saw Amon turn and look at her, his dark eyes betraying a momentary shift, his jaw tightening as it had before. It was hard for her to discern exactly what the look was---it had disappeared before she could completely register it. She knew she looked different, with her ginger hair down around her bare shoulders, and the flowing black skirt, long but more slimming than her bibbed pilgrim’s dress; she supposed the look she had nearly missed was that of his shock at seeing her in different attire than he was accustomed to.
Undetected by her, he clenched both fists at his sides, his knuckles nearly cracking.
He nodded tightly. “Ikimashou.”
Jana waved at them from the foyer as they departed. “Fare attenzione,” she called out after them, closing the door gently.
They headed out onto the main road, towards the entrance of the via de Mezzo, where the dirt road that led out of Sovana started. Robin walked quickly to keep pace with her partner.
“Are we going to walk?” she asked, unbelievingly. It seemed beyond the realm of possibility; but they had still not yet procured a ride. Her brows peaked in consternation as she realized she was still wearing her delicate ankle boots, not suited for hiking.
Amon shook his head. “Non,” he responded, and she inwardly relaxed at his choice of language. “I had seen vehicles, cars and trucks, driving by on the main road when we were out in the village the other day...I thought perhaps one of them might be going into town.” He glanced over at her. “We could hitch-hike.”
She nodded. It would probably attract less attention that way, at least in Siena.
As they neared the end of the road, they did in fact see delivery trucks, small pickups with empty flatbeds, driving by. It looked as though they had been transporting goods into or out of Sovana earlier in the day. Amon flagged one down, and it stopped before them alongside of the road.
Amon leaned towards the passenger window, which was down. “Scusi,” he said, suddenly realizing he was still not fluent enough in Italian yet. “Ah...Siena...” He struggled for words, and Robin came to stand beside him with the intention of helping him.
The truck driver’s eyes lit up with recognition when he saw her. “Ah, signorina,” he called out, and Amon started, looking at Robin in surprise. “Voi aver bisogno di giro?” the driver asked.
“Si, a Siena, per favore,” she answered, vaguely recognizing the man from her earlier episode in the village. “Ti andare in città?”
“Si, si...avanti!” He urged them to get into the back of his truck, and Robin thanked him, smiling, as she turned to Amon, who shrugged. They headed to the flatbed portion of the truck, Amon climbing on easily through the back. He turned to help Robin up, grasping her forearms to steady her as she climbed on, aware that she was merely a featherweight. They went to sit close to the cab, where it was surprisingly clean, and settled themselves in for the ride.
Amon turned to her as the truck started, lurching away from the side of the road. “How did that man recognize you?” he asked in a confidential tone, as the man’s driver-side window was down.
Robin feigned what she hoped looked like innocence, with a delicate shrug of her shoulders. “Perhaps he has a good memory,” she said softly, as they headed onto the main road leading into town.
The road was dirt and gravel, for the first half hour, making for a very choppy ride. Robin and Amon, seated behind the cab, swayed gently with the passage of the truck over uneven ground. The sky was still bright, the afternoon sun high above them.
She turned to look at her companion as they rode along, the sun glinting on his calm face, the wind gently teasing his raven-black hair. Wisps of it caught on his lips, and Robin found herself transfixed by the sight, unable to tear her eyes away.
He was beautiful, she thought...even in his taciturn moods.
It was something she had always realized about Amon, even in the beginning, as they had prowled the streets of Japan together in the name of witch hunting. She recalled the childlike crush she had felt when she’d first laid eyes on him, despite his chilly demeanor. Ironic, she thought, having been brought up in a convent to come out into the real world and immediately fixate on such a person. She felt a slight hint of embarrassment at her whimsical thoughts.
When he finally made eye contact, she averted her eyes hurriedly.
Amon paused before he spoke, watching her, much as she had recently done to him. “I sent an email today to Nagira,” he told her, matter-of-factly. He found that he wasn’t prepared for her response, even though he had known how fond of his half-brother Robin had become.
Her eyes lit up. “Nagira!” she said, her voice animated, but still only decibels above a whisper. “Did he respond? What did he say?”
Her partner shook his head hurriedly to deflect the onslaught of her questions. “I haven’t received a response yet.”
Robin’s enthusiasm waned. “Vedo.”
He felt compelled to continue, as to not disappoint her. “I did not tell him where we were...only that we were in Europe and that we were safe.”
“I guess that’s best.” She didn’t seem to convey the sentiments through her voice. “Amon...”
“Si?” he replied softly. It surprised her how accommodating he was towards using her native language.
“Do you think we’ll see them again? Nagira and Miho and Michael, and---”
“You shouldn’t concern yourself with that now,” he reprimanded, but his words belied a hint of compassion. “It has not yet been a week since we’ve left. If we see them again, it will not be anytime soon.”
She knew this; but still the yearning teenager inside of her drew her on to curiosity. “You must miss them even more than I do, because you have worked with them, and known them, for longer.”
He shrugged, looking out at the hillsides.
Robin paused before saying her next words, knowing he would not react well to them. She had come to expect this of him, in the short time that they had been thrown together by circumstance. Nevertheless, she found that she could not resist asking.
He turned to look at her, meeting her eyes for a long cold moment, before turning away again.
She sensed the emotional roadblock moving into place; the fortification of the walls he had constructed to keep her out, and away from his secrets.
Let me in, she wanted to whisper to him. As much as a part of her feared the symbolism of what her recent dreams involving him had entailed, she still believed in his self-sworn duty to protect her. Amon would never harm her. She was not afraid of what she would find out about him...inexplicably, his reticence only served to bind her more strongly to him.
She recalled what Jana had said to her of the incident in the village, upon her return to the house: Be honest with him. Tell him what happened there. He will understand.
But don’t keep things from him. Don’t hide from him.
...If only he would do the same, Robin thought to herself.
Siena was a small but thriving city. The architecture still had an old-world feel to it, but the buildings were in better shape than the mottled stone villas in Sovana, and modern stores and shopping areas shared the landscape with picturesque and gothic historical landmarks.
The driver shouted to them in Italian from his driver’s side window, and Robin nodded and answered him in affirmation.
She turned to Amon. “There is a square, a center of the neighborhoods, called il Campo...he will drop us off there.”
“Does it have stores where we can buy electronic supplies?” he asked pointedly.
She nodded. “Stores, cafes, restaurants, art exhibits...”
“We are not here to sight-see, Robin.” His voice was firm.
Robin pursed her lips, but did not press the issue further.
The truck stopped at a busy midtown section, and Amon and Robin exited from the truck. Amon jumped over the side, his coat and hair fluttering in a flourished leap; but Robin gathered her dark skirts and slid daintily from the back of the flatbed.
They approached the driver’s side window. “Molto grazie,” Robin gushed, and her partner nodded to the driver.
“Non c'è problema,” he called back. “A domani!” He waved and drove off, leaving them in the center of the busy square.
Amon donned his black sunglasses, and remembering hers, Robin followed suit. They walked forward, into the multitude of townspeople.
The first stop along the street was at a drugstore, where Amon immediately began sifting through the aisles of displayed batteries. Keeping one eye on Robin, he browsed through the racks, clearing entire hanging displays and dropping the items into a hand-held shopping basket.
Robin pushed her sunglasses up onto her head, her long ginger mane pushed back behind her ears, as she gazed interestedly at postcards, depicting pictures of landmarks in Siena. Of several she looked at, one caught her eye instantly....it was a beautiful gothic white cathedral. The design looked to be more than six or seven hundred years old, at least...Robin turned the postcard over, curiously, and spied the cathedral’s building date. 1229.
She held the postcard up to the drugstore cashier, who had been eyeing her since she and Amon had entered the store and parted ways. “Scusi...quanto costa?” she asked softly.
The store manager’s beady eyes roved languidly over her chestnut hair, then to her face, then down her neck and over her bare white shoulders. “Trenta centesimos,” he answered slowly.
She did not notice the wolfish look crossing his dark features. She approached the cash register, still gazing at the picture of the cathedral. Something intangible and elusive nagged at her thoughts. “Dove sono questa cattedrale?” she asked him.
He smiled toothily. “Non è latano,” he replied easily, leaning over the counter to get a better look, his eyes traveling hungrily over her form. “Perché non mi e tu---”
Amon slammed the shopping basket, stocked full of batteries, down onto the counter in front of the cashier...harder than necessary.
The store manager’s countenance became slightly anxious as he was faced with a pair of narrowed dark gray eyes, like cold steel. He realized then that the dark-haired man in the trench coat had seen him covet the young girl, who was presumably with him.
“We are finished here,” Amon said to Robin, his eyes never leaving the cashier’s.
“But, Amon,” Robin was saying softly, as they made their way through the square, “I feel as though that place is familiar to me. I would like to see it.”
“You do not even know where it is,” he rationalized, carrying the bag full of batteries under his arm. He had decided they would catch a taxi back to Sovana, since it was not likely they would encounter anyone in the city headed back that way. He had no intention of loitering about Siena to look at architecture.
Robin stopped walking as she stared out into the distance, far ahead of her. “But...I do.”
Amon stopped in his tracks and turned around to face her. The look in her eyes startled him. “Doushita?” he asked, softly.
She pointed in the direction ahead of them. “It’s this way.” She began to walk, her gait even and calm, and it was apparent he had no choice but to follow.
Three blocks away, hidden by the tall structure of il Campo, was the white cathedral. The outside of it was gorgeous, with statues and mosaics in gold and marble. Robin approached it, her steps quickening, but Amon reached out to restrain her arm.
“Robin,” he warned. “You don’t know who could be in there. The Church is the sanctuary of SOLOMON....it’s unwise to risk yourself.”
“Then come with me,” she asked, turning her green eyes on him, pleading.
He hesitated, for a long moment, before bowing his dark head and following in her steps. They entered the dark lobby of the cathedral.
In the darkened interior, lit with flickering candles, they could make out scenes, biblical and mythological, depicted on the walls and on the marble floors. They walked silently in among the wooden pews, empty save for a few devoted followers, their heads bowed as they sat deep in prayer.
Amon stopped as Robin continued on, towards the pulpit. She looked back at him briefly, and saw his nod, indicating where he would wait while she took her time as needed.
She approached the pulpit slowly, and as she did she could see the beautiful embellishments carved into the wood---pictures depicting the life of Jesus Christ. She knelt before it, making the sign of the cross, and folding her hands underneath her chin, bowed to pray.
Amon looked discreetly over at each worshipper sitting in the pews, from where he stood near the back of the cathedral. He eyed them carefully, watching for any sudden moves, lest they be SOLOMON agents waiting for the chance to assassinate her out in the open. The mere fact that she was vulnerable like this made him uneasy.
Robin breathed deeply and slowly, and let her thoughts come to her mind, relaxed. Come, Holy Spirit...fill my heart. I give You my will...I seek not consolations from You, I desire only to serve and love You. Give me guidance.
Something glinted through an open window at the far end of the room, facing an expanse of green outside. Despite the fact that her eyes were nearly closed, it was almost blinding. She looked up from where she knelt by the altar.
Outside, in back of the cathedral, there was what looked to be a small statue, some sort of monument of dedication. A silver cross was glinting in the rays of sunlight, creating the gleam that had roused her from her meditation.
Robin stood, slowly, infinitely curious. She went towards the door at the end of the worship area, past the pulpit.
Amon saw her moving out of the corner of his eye---he’d been watching the bystanders in the pews. He began to follow her, mentally cursing her curiosity.
She found the door adjacent to the open window to be unlocked, and upon passing through it, found herself outside in what appeared to be a garden of sorts, bare of any other statues or artifacts other than the one that had attracted her attention. It sat in a humble corner of the garden, partially shaded by the cathedral’s massive tower. Robin approached the silver cross, and bent down next to it to look at the inscription.
Amon had caught up to her. “Oi....Robin!” he hissed lowly, in a scolding tone. “Don’t run off when I’m not---” He looked at her face as she gazed at the inscription, his words trailing off. “Doushita?”
She looked up at him, her emerald eyes wide with confusion and what he thought to be a hint of sorrow. A chill traveled up his spine with lightning quickness as he realized he knew what she was about to say.
“Amon,” she said slowly, “I have seen this inscription before.”
“How is that possible?” Amon was asking as they were clear of the cathedral, headed back to the street near il Campo to procure a taxi ride. “You have never been to this region of Italy before.”
“I don’t know,” she responded softly, pulling the cashmere shawl higher around her shoulders. It was only late afternoon, approaching dusk, but already the air was beginning to be cooler. She absently wished she had worn her long-sleeved smock, which would have provided her with more warmth.
Amon momentarily looked as though he was conflicted, his dark brow furrowed in thought. Wordlessly, he shrugged off his trench coat, and draped it over her shoulders, securing it with his hands so it would not fall off.
Robin looked up at him, surprised, with quiet gratitude shining in her eyes.
They hailed a taxi soon after.
Dusk fell across the land of Siena as they traveled out by taxi, the sun settling gently over rolling hills blanketed by emerald-green vineyards.
Amon broke the silence between them. “You still believe in God,” he observed quietly. His voice had a curious tone.
Robin was not entirely surprised by the comment; even so, it was unlike him to take any sort of interest in her spirituality. It had never been talked about between them.
“Si,” she responded, her voice soft, as she watched the shadows beginning to form across the open valley. The driver had turned his headlights on.
“How.” Robin turned to look at him, questioning. He continued. “How can you believe in Him...knowing what you are? Knowing that His followers have cursed your existence?”
“He has not cursed my existence.” Her voice was calm, serene.
“How do you know that?” he persisted. It was almost as though her tranquility vexed him, somehow.
She felt the sting underlying his words, and she looked at him, her expression wondering. “You said yourself that God does not abandon anyone.” She held his eyes in the growing darkness of the taxi. “Do you not believe your own words?”
“I am asking you why you believe it.”
Robin looked away again, out the window into the darkness. She could not explain to him the reason, when she was not sure why she herself believed. “I do not want to answer.”
“Why?” The edge in his voice was unmistakable. It was his thinly veiled threatening tone. “Is there something else that you are hiding from me, as always, Robin?” Inwardly, he grimaced---he could not understand why these words were coming from his mouth.
She turned to face him again, and this time he could see the undisguised hurt evident in her eyes, and in the play of her face.
“I have kept nothing from you,” she whispered, anguished, as she held his gaze. “I have told you everything you wished to know until now. It is you, Amon,” she said, her voice unwavering, “who has kept everything from me.”
His eyes narrowed. “Nani?!” he whispered fiercely.
“You won’t talk about Touko...even though I know for a fact that you were very close to her.” Robin continued to hold his gaze, even as she saw his dark eyes widening, partly in fury, partly in fear. “You won’t tell me about how you came to work for Zaizen, a man who hates Witches so deeply that he decided they weren’t even fit to exist as Hunters. You won’t answer my questions about your family...you won’t even talk about what happened in Factory, or how we escaped...to this day I don’t remember how---”
“Nomide!” he hissed, and he was suddenly silent, staring out the opposite window.
Robin knew she had angered him. She bowed her head and said nothing else, for the duration of the taxi ride.
When they arrived in Sovana, they exited the taxi without speaking, and walked back to Jana’s home, maintaining an uncomfortable distance from one another.
Robin looked at his retreating form ahead of her, his stride quick, his posture rigid. She could smell his scent on the jacket that he had given her, still around her shoulders as she followed behind him towards the house.
He did not look back.
Jana looked confused as the two returned, their faces dark and drawn, from their trip into the city. Amon came into the house and went directly into his bedroom, closing the door. Robin entered through the front door moments later, her hands laced together and her head bowed, his jacket still over her shoulders.
Jana sighed. Poco gli Dei... she had hoped the trip would have brought them closer, been productive....instead it seemed as though the two of them were driving each other away.
She led Robin gently into the house, where she proceeded to her own bedroom, as Jana closed the door and looked on sadly after her.
Upon entrance into her room, she lay down on the bed face-first, burying her face in her arms...which were soon wet with her silent tears.
Why am I crying?
It must have been hours later, she realized, when she awoke. The moon, on its last night of fullness, hung with a golden hue low in the dark sky.
Robin wiped the moisture from her face, sitting up. She should have helped Jana to prepare dinner...surely it was too late now. She didn’t hear any noise in the house...was everyone asleep?
She opened her door to the hallway to see Amon’s door ajar. Curiosity got the better of her, and she went to look into his room. He was nowhere in sight.
She went into the kitchen, still clutching the shawl around her shoulders at the chill in the house. This evening had been colder than the others...strange for spring, heading into summer.
Jana was up, reading by candlelight. She looked up as Robin entered the room, and her eyes softened. “Bambina... I had thought you were asleep for the night.”
“Scusi...” Robin whispered softly. “I did not mean to oversleep and miss helping you with dinner.”
Jana shook her head gently. “I did not make it. There is plenty of cheese, and bread, and wine...enough to make an old woman like me full.” She bestowed a soft smile on her granddaughter, and then her eyes beckoned to the dark hallway. “He did not eat, either.”
“Dove lui?” Robin asked, hopefully.
Jana’s smile stayed fast on her lips. She sees that it’s not too late. “He went out to the ocean...not far from here. Is maybe five-ten minute walk.” She feigned surprise as Robin’s eyes widened, and she turned on her heel to leave.
“Bambina...take a jacket...it’s very cold....” she called after her, and upon hearing the door open and close, smiled again, looking down at her book.
It was dark as she half-walked, half-ran along the dirt and gravel path that led to the coast; but the swollen moon in the sky lit everything with its light, as though it were a beacon, guiding her to him.
Amon. She hurried, running through fields of grass, hoping that he was just beyond the trees that lined the water. She could hear the swelling and ebbing of the tide as she drew nearer, the pull of the water at the edge of land. She shivered briefly in the cold, although she was wearing her trench coat that she had grabbed on her way out...Amon was without. He was probably freezing in the cold night air.
She ran ahead, past the trees, until she was in plain view overlooking the water. Several feet below, waves broke themselves upon rocks embedded in the shore.
She sensed him before she saw him, and turned.
He was looking at her, not even bothering to disguise the shock from his expression. “Robin,” he whispered, unbelieving. How had she found him?
She started to run towards him, but stopped when she drew near, allowing him his space.
“How did you know I was here?” he asked, his features stern, but still with the glimmer of disbelief that had appeared at seeing her before him.
Robin panted from her exertion. “Jana told me.”
“Jana?” he asked, frowning. “But I didn’t---”
“Amon, I have my answer to your question,” she breathed, stepping closer towards him.
Although he did not now want to hear the answer to the question that had sparked their argument, he waited.
“I did not realize the answer until just now,” she said, still out of breath, her eyes shining at him in the moonlight. “I realized it as I ran here.
“I believe that God has not abandoned me---that He will not abandon me,” she said, moving closer to him step by step, “because of you.”
He stood motionless, as though he felt rooted to the earth. Her words were tearing at his wall, his fortress of self-preservation, and he felt it begin to crumble like soft limestone all around him.
“Because,” she continued, in her gentle tone, “if just one human being, a person like you, Amon, can believe in me, a Witch...if you can have enough faith in me not to abandon me, as you were told to do, as you had so many opportunities to do...” She paused as her breath wavered.
“Then I know that God can have that faith in me as well.”
She watched as rampant emotions flitted across his face, partially hidden, but enough light by the moon for her to see it. They gazed at one another, as though finally seeing each other up close after having stared across an endless abyss.
Finally, after long moments, both of them shivering in the night air, Amon spoke.
“I was seven years old,” he said softly, looking into her eyes, “when my mother was taken from me.”
Robin’s eyes widened.
“She was a Witch.” Only his eyes betrayed his grief as he spoke. “She had awakened as a Witch to be with my father, and she turned her powers on the SOLOMON agents who had come to our home...but in the end I became the property of STN-J, regardless of her actions.”
He bowed his head. “She was all that I had...and when I saw the tremendous power that she had gained, saw what she did to the people who had threatened our home...I realized I could no longer reach her. She had changed; she had become someone I didn’t recognize.”
Robin spoke up, despite her incredulity. “She was trying to protect you---”
“I was afraid,” he said, even softer, “afraid that she had become corrupted by her own powers. And I was angry at her---I still am---for displaying that power....for making me afraid.”
Robin nodded slowly. She finally understood. “So you went to work for Zaizen as a Witch Hunter.”
“The son went to work for the organization that had murdered his parents,” he said, bitterly.
Robin gasped. Both of his parents had been Witches? Suddenly something clicked, something that had been nagging at the recesses of her mind ever since she had started at STN-J.
“Amon,” she spoke, realization dawning in her eyes, “Juliano knew of your background.”
Surprised didn’t begin to describe Amon’s expression. “Nani?!” Why would anyone other than Zaizen and STN-J know about his heritage?
She nodded. “When I was assigned as STN-J’s replacement so many months ago, he told me to observe you, to see if your Craft had awoken yet.” She recalled the email she had sent surreptitiously to Juliano after having met Amon for the first time...As expected, the Seed of Craft lies dormant within this blood. Futility... She, in her earlier naiveté, had assumed all Witch Hunters possessed powers of the Craft....but were not Witches themselves.
“He had been monitoring you---perhaps through Zaizen, because they knew each other---and was anticipating that you would display powers of the Craft, even though he was doubtful. I was told to observe you closely and report back to him whether or not you displayed such powers.” Something else was unsettling...the idea that Juliano had at one time been a cohort of Zaizen’s....
“Robin, I was given access to everything at SOLOMON and STN-J,” Amon reasoned. “I was given free reign as a Hunter, was given the blueprint of every facility under SOLOMON operation...” He paused. “That was how I knew how to escape from Factory.”
“There was an underground tunnel, much like the layout at STN-J,” he explained quickly. He decided to skip the details of his wound and his mysterious thirty-foot jump. “What I’m saying is, Robin....if they knew I was going to become a Witch, and display powers of the Craft...why did they grant me so much access to everything?”
She shivered again in the cold air. “I don’t know...” Both of them seemed overwhelmed by the evidence that had just been presented to them. It was a lot to grasp....
“But, Amon,” she reasoned, “Toudou said in his research that because of a genetic mutation from a Witch thousands of years ago, that Witches could not pass their genes directly on to their children anymore.” She looked at him questioningly. “If that were true, you would never become a Witch, even if both of your parents were Witches. So why would they look for a sign of your Craft?”
“If what Toudou said was true,” he argued, “that would also negate Maria’s existence.”
“So, then, what is the truth?” Robin whispered.
They were both silent for a long moment, realizing that they had more to find out than they had ever thought possible. It seemed as though the puzzle was larger, more encompassing, than either of them had thought.
Robin shivered again in the cold air. “Amon,” she said softly, breathing his name again. He had never before realized how she said it...speaking his name as though it were a gentle caress.
“We should go back...you haven’t eaten yet, and there is fruit, and cheese, and...wine...”
Definitely going to skip the wine, his conscience dictated.
She extended her bare hand, reaching out to him, beckoning him as he stood on the cliff overlooking the rocks and the waves.
“Amon, I won’t keep anything from you, ever again.” She looked steadily into his eyes with that unwavering, unfaltering green gaze. “I promise.”
He looked down at her hand, soft and inviting, and accepting. So accepting.
She had instantly accepted the fact that he had Witches’ blood....
Did some hidden part of her already know?
He decided that enough questions had been asked this night. He stepped forward, and took her hand in his own.
“Neither will I.” He told himself he would tell her, about the wound and the jump...when he was ready to.
Gently she led him by the hand, back to the home that was her grandmother’s hearth.
As he lay in bed, beneath covers, he let his mind drift over the facts, again and again.
It didn’t make sense. Juliano knew...they had anticipated his Seed awakening. All along, it was what he had feared, the emergence of his own powers...but according to Toudou, it was an impossibility.
A rumbled purr interrupted his thoughts. The female cat, whom Jana had named Bast, had jumped onto his bed. She approached his form and sat on her haunches near him, blinking at him slowly. He could see her eyes gleaming at him in the dark.
Cautiously he held his hand out to her...and she jumped, meeting him halfway, to connect with it. He felt his hand glide over her smooth head, past her velvet ears, and down her soft neck.
Still stroking her fur gently, he closed his eyes as the cat curled up next to him, lulled by the gentle sounds coming from her throat. His last thought was that of tired amazement...that sleep didn’t elude him after all on this night.
Bloodline....The Witches’ Gospel....A Healing Touch. Chapter 6.
Whew! This seemed to take forever, but I enjoyed writing it. I just love trying to characterize Amon; he’s a walking contradiction throughout the entire series, and I’m trying to keep true to that...i.e., he believes he should be able to look upon Robin when she’s sleeping, naked and vulnerable---but when they’re out in public and she shows too much shoulder, and someone else notices, he gets concerned. ^^ *snickers*
Thanks for reading, and hopefully I’ll have Chapter 6 up soon!
Non lo so: I don’t know
Pelosa intrusa: Furry interloper
Che cos'è quello: What is that?
non posso: I cannot
Ikimashou: [Japanese] Let’s go
Fare attenzione: Be careful
Voi aver bisogno di giro?: Do you need a ride?
Ti andare in città?: Are you going to the city?
Non c'è problema: No problem
A domani: See you tomorrow
Quanto costa: How much for this?
Trenta centesimos: thirty cents
Dove sono questa cattedrale?: Where is this cathedral?
Non è latano: Not far
Perché non mi e tu: why don’t you and I...
Doushita: [Japanese] what is it?
In affetuoso memoria di Aradia: In loving memory of Aradia
Nani: [Japanese] what
Nomide: [Japanese] that’s more than enough
Poco gli Dei: by the Gods
Dove lui: where is he