"Yes, you are a Saint...
"...but you are a witch, and that makes you dangerous."
Selena stared wide-eyed at Aquinas. She? A...witch? Hadn't she spent the last seven years under his tutelage as a Hunter?
How could she not know? Then again, how had those she had hunted known when they were a witch? She certainly had no clue. Daemons were a different story entirely - but a witch? Her brain just couldn't seem to wrap around the idea. "Surely...the Church will show mercy..."
Aquinas scoffed. His arms crossed over his chest and his head turned, gaze askance. "You'd think so, wouldn't you? But no. It's simply a bulletin going around the Church, demanding your capture."
His dark eyes narrowed. Lips pursed, breathing slowly, steadily through his nose, Aquinas languorously drew his icy glare to her face. The effect was enough to make Selena take a step back. "An Inquisition."
The back of her throat felt hollow yet chalky. Despite her halting posture, Selena shot back, "For what?! There's nothing wrong with my mettle or merit! I've proved myself again and again!"
"That has nothing to do with it, Selena, and you know that," he returned mildly. His ever-lasting patience reigned supreme again with that careful whisper. "Despite the fealty I swore to them, the Church also keeps me close to the vest. I am no better than a tethered cur."
Sweaty strands of her feathery black hair clung to her face, circling about the high cheekbones and around her lavender eyes. "How did--"
"Your response to magic." This time, he met her gaze fully. A long moment passed before he wet his lips, preparing to speak again. "I noticed it long before any of the Fathers or Sisters did. Long before even Archbishop Clandine realized."
Selena's eyebrows knit upward in surprise. "...Why didn't you say something sooner then?"
With a slow issue of breath, Aquinas leaned against the cold stone of the abandoned chapel. His leather trench coat fanned out a bit as he slid down, down, down - so agonizingly slow -, down to rest against the equally frigid floor. His knees bent upward, akimbo, while he set his elbows onto them and pressed his forehead into calloused skin of his palms.
More moments passed by, counted off by rain.
It pelted against the grimy glass of long-forgotten saints - their memories running, it seemed, as distant light eclipsed both rain and colored shards. Prayers in diminutive voice and unintelligible verse.
Useless to anyone but those who had the right and knowledge to understand.
Selena breathed. Soft, and with closed eyes.
A sense of reverence for an unchangeable turn in fate filled her.
Life had never been kind to her; cruel, really. Never had she suspected something like this would arise. Her mother had been Aria Saint, the best Hunter the Church had ever employed. Her skills as a Shadeseeker were legendary.
The meek water hymn chimed, running over the jagged glass and streaming along the wall in thin rivulets. It pooled along dip between the broken marble and wall, filling any cracks it could - little by slow, little by slow. It broke the yawning still first.
Her eyes had opened and her voice had crossed over her lips before Selena even realized she had spoken. "Why didn't you say something sooner?" Much harsher in tone despite its quietness, her peering returned to her mentor's down-turned face; the demand hang on the alabastrine incarnation of her breath. "Tell me, Aquinas."
His fingers twitched somewhat. He pressed the flame-roughened tips together until his knuckles turned white. Suddenly, a bloody fire raged in the open circle between his palms. The orb licked about his hands yet he stared down into it without fear. His face blanked.
"It was never a coincidence that I became your mentor, Selena." His own dark locks curled around the rim of his ears. Sweat pearled on his face. Selena said nothing; she stared. "The Church had suspected your mother of the same treason...and punished her for a transgression she hadn't realized she'd committed."
Wind passed through the window. With it came the fine droplets of icy rain that rushed along Aquinas's side and hit Selena full-on. But the force itself was slight.
With shaky hands, she crossed her arms over the thin camisole. Her fingers brushed over the bandage on her left arm. Rough cotton just below the smooth silk tied there. A black ribbon knotted in memoriam of her mother - "May we never forget," Father D'Amour had whispered on the night of her wake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me...
Selena found herself whispering those words to herself before quirking a wry smile and shaking her head. "...and does the Church plan to lead me also like a lamb to the slaughter?"
"Then why tell me now? For fair sport?" Selena uncrossed her arms; her hands slid slowly over her taut belly towards the twin holsters slung on either side of her hips. The pads of her fingers touched the grips - "The Prayer of Saint Michael the Archangel" beneath her left and "Ave Maria" with her right - but she stopped when Aquinas spoke again.
"No. Because I will not abandon you now. I am just as much a pariah as you. I only played a smoke and mirrors game with them... I am a daemon. To them, no matter my good works, I will be damned to perdition." Aquinas peered up at her. The flaming sphere flickered its radiance from beneath his countenance. "And I have already broken a cardinal rule with the Church."
Selena blinked owlishly yet with a practiced steadiness. Her hands stayed on her guns. She didn't draw. "What rule would that be?"
Aquinas quirked a half-smile. "I'm a daemon who loves a witch."