The candles fluttered faintly, blossoming in luminescence with the gentle breeze from the window. They were an indulgence in nostalgia, one that he allowed himself frequently, as was the mid-nineteenth century copy of the volume laying open on the desk in the glow of the computer, which displayed a corresponding scan of the original ancient text.
Despite the time and efficiency constraints his office demanded, he was still a sensualist, preferring the subtle smell of wax and wick and the touch of the page to the professed convenience of vernacular technology.
He could hear the chanting of the monks and novitiates, late as usual, he
noted, in completion of their evening devotionals, gently echoing up the hallway of the priory and the after curfew conclusion of a game of pick-up by the residents of the Mission, along with all the normal nocturnal sounds of the streets and neighborhoods outside the courtyard walls.
He knew the perpetrator of the knock as much by its timing as by the timbre of hand on wood, confident and firm and at the end of the Mission's day.
"Enter," he said.
It was Francisco as expected.
He came in and stood awaiting, with the respect due his senior and elder, the motion to sit and proceed with the nightly report.
Sebastian motioned for him to sit and turned his attentions briefly to the computer and text on his desk advancing the pages on both before addressing
"She has arrived." The elder said. It was not a question, merely a statement of fact requiring little confirmation.
Cisco long ago ceased wondering if Sebastian possessed vestiges of his own gift, reasoning that he had no more or less than any other of his years and experience.
"Yes," he replied, "...as you said she would."
"Not as I have said," Sebastian countered with mild chastisement in his tone, "...as these say." He gestured to the tomes displayed on the desk. Francisco handed him the clipboard that listed all the pertinent facts and statistics, detailing the Mission’s day: beds filled, expected to be filled, meals served, issues pending, staff on duty, etc. Sebastian glanced at it and laid it on the desk. "And..." was all he said.
Francisco looked at him with feigned confusion as he unceremoniously plopped into the chair.
"They haven't killed each other yet, if that's what you mean," Cisco answered.
Sebastian chuckled lightly, "…you knew the day would come when The Slayer would show up on our doorstep for one reason or another; it was inevitable."
"I knew, maybe not for the same reasons you did, but I knew she’d come. What I don't know is under what circumstances she will be leaving."
"You weren't able to read her," Sebastian asked with some concern. He felt it crucial to their success that they have at least some understanding of what was going on in the minds of the major participants.
"I haven't met her yet, haven‘t even seen her. Duncan has been keeping me informed of their…"
"Do I need to add the units on eavesdropping and gossiping to the daily studies again," Sebastian asked.
"No, no, it's not an issue that needs addr..." Cisco began, "… you are joking...aren't you?"
Sebastian raised an eyebrow then turning somber he spoke, "...you will meet her; examine her to ensure her intentions, in all the areas we discussed, are suited to our needs."
"I will… as the opportunity arises."
"Soon," he asked. It was more of an order than a question.
"Tomorrow actually, I’m curious to see what she's like."
"She seems very much as he said." Sebastian continued, "…I could see them from the window," he added in response to Francisco's unvoiced query of how he knew.
"Eavesdropping," Cisco asked rhetorically. "Then you know their…reunion, wasn't completely without incident."
"To be expected, given what he has told us of their history."
"That's what bothers me."
Sebastian looked puzzled at Cisco's last words.
"Their history," he began to clarify, "…it wasn't exactly stellar."
"Such things never are. You know that."
"There just seem to be too many…variables."
Sebastian's tone turned a little more serious, "whether he goes with her, or he goes after her, it does not matter, just that he goes."
"I know, but," Cisco sighed, "…can't I hope that this proceeds as amicably as possible, for Spike's sake, at least?"
"The fates don't care if it is amicable, does not their ‘history’ prove that already," the elder priest added, knowing it to be true even though it would not ease the younger's concerns.
"Either way it will cause them both pain," Cisco said.
"Pain is part of the vampire's nature, and it is said, a Slayer's strength is forged of pain.” The elder priest inhaled sharply before he began again. “I am fond of him as well," Sebastian reassured, "…but you have read them all…" he gestured toward the books that littered his desk and the rest of the study, "… nearly as much as I have. Do not interfere, Cisco," he added gravely, "… allow the fates to run their course."
"I will," he said. Cisco had personal experience with challenging the fates, he knew the consequences well. "It's just…things seem to be falling…too…neatly into place."
"Did you doubt that they would," he asked knowing the answer was yes. "You are forever the skeptic. The prophecies are in convergence and right on schedule"
"We will be visiting the Watcher, then?"
"Yes, we leave after vespers Sunday. Is that sufficient time?"
Cisco nodded as he rose, he stopped at the door and turned for permission to exit.
"You may proceed."
"Thank you, Father."
Cisco closed the door as he exited the study.
"You were listening," Sebastian asked as soon as he was certain Francisco was well out of hearing range.
"It is all as it should be," came the answer from outside the open window.
The wake of wings guttered out the candles leaving Sebastian in the dim computer glow.