Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Eneny Of My Enemy Is My... Date?

Hell, Adrian decided, lived up to its well-deserved reputation.

Granted, it wasn't eternal fires, brimstone, a looming Devil and little winged demons armed with pitchforks prodding him, but considering that there was probably hundred upon thousands of demons, living nightmares, eldritch monsters, murderers, rapists, killers, all manners of sorcerers, a few fallen gods and lots of lawyers, there were a lot of interesting and colorful characters to meet, all of them on the dark side of the rainbow.
Sadly, the group Adrian was currently with was not filled with any new faces. He knew them all.

He had put them all here, after all. And considering how long-lived the Librarian was and how many few million grunts and whatnot he had cut down and how many villainous schemes and power ploys and 'end of the universe' scenarios he had foiled during his career, Adrian would have been surprised if he hadn't run into any he knew.

It was a small comfort, since everyone in the group was very much looking like they all wanted to kill him. Again.

Oddly enough, Adrian was currently seated in a chair behind the defendant's table of the courtroom, shackled by his ankles and his wrists cuffed together. Behind him, the courtroom seats were full people he had killed-soldiers dressed in futuristic armor, swordsmen, assassins, monsters, a few fallen angels and in far back of the room, he thought he could make out the form of a giant spider. All of them were silent, but either sneered at him or smirked darkly at him.

Across the way, the prosecuting attorney was shuffling through a stack of papers in his briefcase. He looked human, with neatly cropped brown hair, spectacles and wearing a fancy black suit and tie. Adrian knew him as Monty Marlain, a lawyer who had made it big by making deals with demons to win every case he ever took and often sealed his demonic bargains with witnesses who could ruin his cases. Not a big threat in and of himself, but Monty had been working to summon one of the big boys of Hell, Asmodeus and Adrian put him down before the demon could be freed.

The jury was, unsurprisingly, also comprised of people whom he had killed and were now shooting him death glares. Unlike the crowd behind him, who were the rank and file of most villain's armies, Adrian knew the twelve jurors personally, all of them having been a Big Bad in their own right. A black-winged archangel named Yydal, who had tried to summon raw incarnations of the Multiverse power in order to conquer it. A massive, hulking dark-skinned man with burning red eyes and dressed in cameo named Patriarch, a gun runner who had actually be one of the beings employed by the Powers That Be, but a few steps lower than a Counter Guardians. A soccer-ball sphere of light that was Eragis the Devourer, who made it a habit to eat immortal and divine beings so he could then consume their universes unchallenged. And several more big names and monsters whom had required a Counter Guardian's touch.

But it was the judge who held Adrian's attention. He was tall and lean, with pale skin and dressed in an ornate black robe with the collar flipped up. Gold rings decorated each of his fingers and his narrow, hawkish face was completely blade. He smiled as Adrian caught his eye and pressed his fingers together as he looked down up the silver-haired man. "It's been a long time, hasn't it, Adrian?"

"Valentine Temnas…" Adrian smirked back. "Necromancer extraordinaire who nearly succeeded in becoming an actual god. You were my first assignment as a Counter Guardian. A shame that Hell hasn't improved your looks. Or turned you into a wasted pitiful shell. To be honest, that girly scream of 'No' you gave when I threw you into that black hole was rather amusing…"

Valentine didn't appear bothered by Adrian's jib, though he did frown a little. "Oh, Hell did try and break me, Adrian. It tried very hard. Years and years of torture that I can't even possibly begin to surmise. But my will is strong… it kept me sane, in control of my mind. That…and my hatred for you." He grinned again. "And it looks my - excuse me, our - patience has been rewarded."

"Well, kudos to you for keeping what little sanity you had to begin with while in eternal damnation and torment." Adrian rolled his eyes. "Not that any of you were sane to begin with."

"We're quite sane, Adrian. I did tell you our hatred for you is strong-strong enough to keep our minds from slipping into madness." Valentine waved a hand, encompassing all of the courtroom and its occupants. "All of us, you killed and sent us here. We banded together for survival and swore eternal vengeance on you." He leered at Adrian. "And believe me when I say eternity gives you a long, long time to plan many, many interesting ways of extracting revenge on someone."

One of Adrian's kitty ears twitched in annoyance. "All of you together for all that time and the best you could come up with is a trial? Seriously? What are you going to do, give me the death penalty? In case you hadn't noticed, I'm just as dead as you are!" The ear twitched again.

"We know, but your death-besides delivering you into our hands-has left us with a unique opportunity, my dear boy." The bald man replied, the corner of his lips twitching into a smirk. "You have a chance at being resurrected. So anyone of us, if we get rid of you like you are now in Hell, one of us may have a chance of getting resurrected ourselves."

Violet eyes narrowed slightly. "And how do you do that? Even if you get rid of me like this, you'll be able to have one of you summoned in my place? Any ritual used to summon me would only target me."

"It's really quite simple-we'll kill you and eat you like you are now. You see, all you are right now is your spirit. And one can become stronger in hell by eating their competitors. So one of us eats you, becomes infused with your unique spirit signature and viola-it's back to the world of the living." Valentine said, as if explaining the process to a very small child.

"Uh… huh…" He quirked an eyebrow questioningly. "So, disregarding the fact that any attempt by any of you to eat me will result in me ripping off your heads and seeing if I can't kill you twice over, how does this little trial factor into things?"

"Why, my dear Librarian." Valentine gave him a big toothy grin. "It's only proper, don't you think, since it was your judgments of us that prompted you to kill us and send us here. And as the saying goes, 'Even the damned deserve their testament.'"

"And I don't get a lawyer because…?"

"We couldn't find anyone who was unbiased enough to provide you with an adequate defense. So you're representing yourself."

"Okay - I move to dismiss the case against me as there is no way in this Hell that I am going to get twelve jurors who would be unbiased and thus this whole façade of a trial violates my right to a fair trial by my peers-which I doubt I will find in this place, either."

"You're right-we're all your betters here. And the move to dismiss is denied." Valentine banged his gavel. "Anything else?"

A sigh escaped Adrian's lips. "Let it formally be known that I strongly disagree with the fact that any of you consider yourself my better, since, you know, I killed each and every one of you. I also strongly object to the fact that this trial is even happening." He leaned back his chair as best his could. "Now let's hurry up and get this over with - I want to see if I can't find the chief executive of 4Kids down here and have some words with him about what he did to my anime."

Valentine banged his gravel again. "Alright then, court is now in session. The United Alliance of Evil V. Adrian the Librarian. Bailiff, read the charges against the defendant."

A red-skinned demon in a pinstripe suit stepped forwards and pulled out a manila folder. Putting on a pair of spectacles made out of fire, he flipped it open and began to read. "Defendant is charged with 4231 counts of murder in the first degree and countless counts in murder-second degree, Treason, Conspiracy to overthrow a legal government, conspiracy to commit murder, Grant Theft Auto, Genocide, Regicide, Plotting to destroy government property, resisting arrest, Kidnapping in the first-degree, Unlawful use of a bladed weapon-"

"Hold on just a minute!" Adrian interrupted, shooting a glare at Valentine. "What kinds of charges are these? I'm not warlord or wannabe god like you bastards. These charges should be filed against you, not me."

"Oh really?" Valentine smirked as the court chuckled at Adrian's words. "I do suppose you deserve to know why we're charging you like we are. Let's see…" He held up a hand and then lifted a finger. "First, you can claim that we were warmongers and mass murderers, but you did the same thing against our soldiers and minions and slaves. They were only doing their jobs and going about their lives and in our rush to get to us, you killed very, very many of them."

"Second," Another finger rose. "Many of us ruled empires, kingdoms and what-have-you, which were the accepted and lawfully established governments of their words. Yet you oftentimes invaded them without provocation, an act of war and many a time tried to incite rebellion against said lawful government, smuggling arms, provisions and more illegal items into said government's domain."

"Third," A third finger rose. "You stole government secrets-plans, weapons, devices, vehicles and more, hacked into and diverted money that belonged to our loyal citizen's accounts into your own, money that had legally earned by their respective government's laws. You also impersonated several high-ranking officials on various worlds, often times by assassinating them first. You also committed terroristic acts against several governments, including bombings and poisonings."

"Fourth," A fourth finger joined the other three. "You endangered the lives millions upon millions of innocent sentients with your actions by destabilizing the lawful governments of their worlds, destroying shipyards, space stations and more and leaving them vulnerable and without the support of a government.

"And lastly," Valentine held up all five fingers. "You arrogantly proclaimed your authority over us and our worlds and the so-called sovereignty of the Powers That Be, a governing body that none of us here recognize as such. Yet, you still removed lawful governments from power or destabilized them or killed their leaders and by doing so, subjugated our peoples to the so-called Powers That Be whims and authority and obviously, as this was done against their will, this is slavery."

Adrian remained silent, his eyes still on Valentine. "…"

"So you see, Adrian that these charges very much apply to you. You claim that we are the ones who should be charged and yet, we have been already by you and the Powers That Be. You created charges and crimes that we committed through a governing body that none recognized as having an authority over us. You call us evil and murderers and warlords and more, but it's obvious that you have yet to realize that you are using the very same tactics that you accuse us of using. If you claim we are evil that are just as evil as all the people here." The bald man smirked and crossed his hands in front of him as the courtroom cheered at the judge's declaration. "So…what do you have to say to that, Librarian?"

There was a long silence and Adrian just kept his eyes on Valentine as the cheers died down. Several minutes passed and occasionally one of the villains would shift uncomfortably or glance away from Adrian, who hadn't even batted an eye.

Finally, he spoke. "Any action or word can be considered 'good' or 'evil' depending on the viewpoint. A surfer is attacked by a shark and he tries to beat the shark off, thinking the shark is evil for trying to eat him. Yet the shark tells him to stop fighting and let him enjoy his meal and continue to live. So I'm not going to sit and argue semantics and viewpoints and perceptions with you. In the end, those things are left to the individual."

"However," H\his eyes hardened slightly. "To find the answers to such questions as what is right and what is wrong, there must be life that exists to determine them and find those answers. It is for that reason and that reason only, that I did what I did. My duty is to the whole and to that end, I committed the acts I felt were necessary to preserve the whole of life and thus, the future. You can judge me and taunt me all you want, but all of you know in your hearts your actions were not of benefit to the majority and only beneficial to the few at extreme expense to the majority. For costing the unborn innocents their future, you committed the ultimate crime in denying life itself of existence. And if my orders had not been to kill you all…" His eyes darkened and his voice became low, quiet… dangerous. "I would have made you all scream till doomsday. And reveled in it."

A chill silence hung over the courtroom and everyone present felt a shiver travel down their spines as they remembered what made Adrian so dangerous. Adrian didn't get mad  -he got even tenfold over.

"Ummm… Monty, why don't you call your first witness?" Valentine said after a moment and the lawyer got up, shuffling his papers and adjusting his collar.

"I call Tim Quasar to the stand."

A thin man with spiky blue horns instead of hair, razor-sharp teeth and one hand replaced with what looked like a buzz-saw detached himself from the crowd and entered the witness box. He glanced around, blinking confusion slightly. "Aren't ya gonna swear me in?"

Valentine rolled his eyes. "This is Hell; there isn't a Bible to be found here! And if we did try to swear you in, you'd probably explode for swearing to God or something. But we trust Tim; we know you'll tell the truth."

"Thank you, your honor."

"Now, Mr. Quasar." Monty adjusted his glasses. "You said in your report that defendant committed several crimes against you."

"Yes, sir."

"Could you list them for the court, please?"

"That man killed my lover, my pet lizard, destroyed my home and killed me." Tim looked about ready to cry. "Lizzie was the best pet ever…."

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me…" A few anger tics popped into existence on Adrian's forehead. "Your 'pet lizard' was an eight-mile long Star Dragon was eating planet's moons because it could! Your home was a super-weapon capable of causing a star to go supernova! And your lover was a demonic space goddess who wanted to eat the souls of everyone in existence!"

"She was still a good lover and you killed her!"

"The hell she was your lover! She had two sets of teeth and one of them would have made that act a one-time only deal, because by the time you got done, you'd be singing soprano!"

Tim growled and his buzz-saw whirred to life. "You still killed me!"

"Me! You're the one who blew out the view port to try and suck me into deep space and forgot to bolt down the command chair to the deck! It's not my fault you're an idiot!"

"Grrrrr! I'll kill you! Then I'll bring ya back and kill you again! Kill you dead!"

"I'm already dead, nitwit! The only way could kill me more is if you started singing your horrible version of 'Without You' again!"

"Hey! I got a great singing voice! My lover said so!"

"Your lover could plug her own ears when you sang!'

"You shut your mouth or I'll gut you!"

Adrian rolled his eyes. "Your mother!"

Tim blinked. "Huh… what about my mother?"

(Well that was a bust…) Adrian sighed to himself. (I was hoping to goad him into attacking me so I could get these handcuffs off. Better start thinking of plan B…)

"Enough!" Valentine banged his gavel. "Order in my courtroom! Adrian, another outburst and we'll eat you!"

"You're going to do it, anyway." Adrian reminded him.

"Nnnnnnn…" The bald man rested his head in a hand. "Tim, don't' overreact so much and just give your testimony so we can convict him!"

"I am afraid you won't be convicting anyone today." A feminine voice spoke up from the rear of the courtroom and everyone turned their heads to see as the sound of heel-wearing feet thudded against the courtroom's wood floor.

Adrian's eyes widened at the woman he saw walking up the center aisle. She was dressed in a forest green skirt and suit and her auburn hair trailed after her as she walked. The tightness of her clothes showed she had curves aplenty and violet eyes were cool and calm. "No way…"

Willowe Foxblade gave Adrian a smile as she walked past him and up to the judge's bench, fishing a piece of paper out her briefcase and holding up. "Willowe Foxblade. Lawyer for the defense. And this is a motion to dismiss the case and let my client go free."

"Pfft." Valentine ignored the piece of paper and shot her a look. "Go away, Foxblade. He may have killed you too, but we've been waiting a lot longer to get a piece him. So you're gonna have to wait."

"Oh, no I'm not. " Willowe waggled the paper at him. "This is straight from Purgatory. You are dropping this case."

Valentine grabbed the piece of paper and looked at it before holding it at arm's length and squinting. "This writing is so bad it's nothing but scribbles. I can't read a word of it. And there's no Purgatory seal on it."

"Oh, there is. Let me point it out." The woman took the piece of paper back, set her briefcase down…then grabbed Valentine by the collar, hauled out of his seat and pinned him to the floor. Grabbing his arm, she wrenched it painfully behind his back and held the form in front him. "Do you see it now?"

"No, you stupid bitch, I don't!" Then Valentine howled in pain as Willowe pulled his arm back harder, nearly ripping it out of its socket. "I see it, I see it!"

"Good." Releasing him, she grabbed her briefcase and returned the paper to it before snapping it shut and walking over to Adrian. "You ready to go?"

"What about…" Then Adrian heard a clacking noise and felt cuffs fall over. Rubbing his sore wrists, he gave the woman who had killed him a look. "And why the heck should I go with you? In case you haven't noticed, we're both dead and you're the one who killed me!"

"Well, yeah…" Willowe gestured around to the courtroom and leaned close to him to whisper. "But you can stay in the company of all these people who have been hundreds of hundreds years learning how to make dead people scream forever and have spent every waking minute in Hell waiting for a chance to get revenge on you…"


"Or, you can come with me, as I'm going to take you Purgatory and then explain some things to you that you're gonna need to know if you get resurrected so you beat Runoa."

Adrian glanced around at the courtroom. Since he was dead, he obviously had no sword and he couldn't feel the little hum that was the reminder of his magical power as a Librarian and Counter Guardian. "You know what, I never like disappointing a pretty lady, so why don't I escort you out of here?"

"You are a smart man." Willowe grabbed his arm and dragged Adrian down the aisle, ignoring any of the bad guys who shot glares and nasty looks at her and only paused to cuff one on the side of the head when he tried to play grab-ass. "Come on, this way."

Adrian blinked as she pulled him through the door. "How are we supposed to get out of Hell, anyway…" Then he broke off as the moment they stepped through the door, they were standing a vast expanse of… black. "Huh…" A glance behind him revealed that door was gone. "That was rather anti-climatic…"

"Yeah, well, did you really think that even I could win a trial when everyone in that room hates you?" Willowe told him and then held up a hand as he opened his mouth. "I'll answer your questions in a bit. But first I need to get changed. You go wait over there."

"Over where? We're standing in nothingness…" Adrian blinked as he turned around and saw what looked like a table and two chairs. "Hmmm… that's convenient."

Striding over the table, he frowned slightly at what he saw. It was covered in a white, linen tablecloth and there was a vase of red roses in the center, a pair of candles on either side of it that flickered a bit despite the fact there was no wind. The place settings had fancy blue plates and the silverware looked like real silver, though Adrian wasn't quite sure as they were wrapped up in a napkin. "This looks like…"

"A dinner date."

"HOLY HELL!" Adrian yowled and leapt three feet in the air, his tail sticking straight out and the fur standing on end. Landing a tense crouch, he growled and whirled, pointing his finger at Willowe, who was giggling at him. "Don't do that-" His voice vanished on him.

"What do you think?" Willowe smiled at him, still snickering slightly. She was dressed in sky-blue strapless dress that revealed her unblemished skin and that was edged with black and revealed a fair amount of her cleavage and her hair was brushed to a shine and done neatly in curls on her bangs while a pair of sapphire earrings dangled from her lobes. "Do I look good?"

"Uh… ummm. yeah…" Despite himself, Adrian felting himself blushing and attempted to chalk it up his embarrassment at her sneaking up on him. "How did you get changed so fast?"

"When you're dead, you find a lot of things are easier." Willowe's smile turned sweet. "You don't look so bad yourself, Adrian."

"What…?" The silver-haired man glanced down at himself and found he was dressed in a white trenchcoat with gold detailing along the edges and a ruffled black silk shirt and silk pants. A pair of ruby cufflinks glinted on his wrist and judging from the feeling he got from his tail, it had been brushed to silky-softness. A quick pat of his hair and ears revealed the same thing to them. He fixed Willowe with a look. "This is your doing, I presume?"

"Yes. When I died, I didn't go straight to anywhere. I was offered a choice - reveal you some information and get one thing I wanted and then go to Purgatory or go to hell for my crimes. It wasn't a hard choice to make."

"So you choose a dinner date? With me? Why?"

"Because you're cute, Librarian. Strong, smart, powerful, clever and such a nice sexy voice. All qualities I find attractive. Plus, you are probably the only person who would have a date with me and actually be nice about it and enjoy it." Willowe walked over to the table and stood expectantly by the chair.

"And why's that?" Adrian followed over and pulled out her chair for her, partly because it was just in his nature and partly because playing along couldn't hurt and might net him some more information.

"Well, you forgave me before you died, if you recall." The auburn-haired woman scooted closer to the table as Adrian sat down across from her, moving the roses out of the way so they could see one another.

"I did." He replied calmly and as he sat down, a basket of rolls and some tabs of butter appeared on the table. Grabbing a roll, he pulled it apart and then reached for his knife and a butter tab.

"Why?" Willowe asked softly, reaching for a glass of water that magically appeared as she reached for it. "I invaded your Library, attacked your friends, threatened the Multiverse and you knew that I was going to kill you… how could you forgive me of all that?"

Adrian took a bit of his roll and chewed slowly so he could find the right words. Failing to locate them, he decided to just be honest and swallowed. "I forgave you… because… if I were in the same situation, I'd have probably done the same thing you did. And I've come very close doing it, too…" He managed a small smile. "And besides, it was one hell of fight. After something like that, it's hard to be angry at people."

To his surprise, Willowe chuckled as she prepared her own roll. "Getting so happy because of a fight…that's just like you…" Taking a dainty bite, she chewed and swallowed. "Well..I know this does not mean much now nor does it fix things… but… I'm sorry… and thank you for forgiving me."

"You're welcome." Adrian took a drink of water. "Now, can you tell me how I ended up in Hell? Last I checked, I was one of the good guys and you were the bad person."

"It's because you have no soul currently, dear. I destroyed your body and then your Reality Marble, which is your soul, so your soul didn't know where to go. You can't get into Heaven or Purgatory without a soul and so you bounced around for a while and then ended up in Brimstone Town." She took another bite. "You're here now because the people upstairs finally got their asses in gear when they realized what happened."

"But it worked out for the best, didn't it?" The kitty-eared man smirked. "Because my soul didn't know where to go, it remained on the Mortal Plane. And because I'm guessing the Library is restoring my body, all the others have to do is find my soul and reunite with my body to bring me back to life."

"You are smart." Willowe told him honestly, smiling a bit.

"When you live alone in the Library, there's not a whole lot to do besides read." Adrian leaned back in his chair and smirked, finding he was enjoying their little date. "And don't underestimate a man who has a few hundred years to prepare for things. I have tricks I probably don't even remember creating anymore."

"That doesn't surprise me in the least…you were always like that, forgetting where you set your coins down a second after you did or losing your medallion… I always thought that you'd lose yourself if gravity didn't keep you pinned to the ground." The auburn-haired woman chuckled and smiled happily, as if remembering a very fond memory.

"You keep talking as if you know me and know me well…" Adrian frowned at her as the rolls disappeared and a bowl of soup appeared in front of him while a salad did the same for Willowe. "But you and I never met much before we died. The fighting in the Library was the longest interaction we had."

He narrowed his eyes. "When you died, you got some memories, didn't you? From a past life?"

"Yes…" The woman replied slowly, grinding some pepper over her salad before reaching for a container of Dorothy-Lynch dressing. "I… it was disorienting at first… I couldn't tell who I was or who's life I was living… but eventually, it straightened itself out… and I learned a lot of things that I never thought were possible." She drizzled the dressing atop her salad before taking a bite.

"Like you and I knowing each other well in past lives…" Adrian took a sip of his soup and found it was a very delicious potato soup. "When was that? And what else did you learn? It must have been something that would help me defeat Runoa if the Powers gave you this chance."

Willowe gave him a look as she took another bite of her salad. "Adrian, I'd tell you everything if I could, but you know better than I that it just doesn't work that way. There are some things that you have to learn on your own."

He sighed and had some more soup. "I figured as much. Never hurts to ask, though." Stirring his entrée with his spoon to aerate it, he kept going. "Can you at least tell me what in my past I need to look up? I've lived a long time and my memory isn't exactly perfect."

"You need to look into the past before you became a Counter Guardian."

"That time?" The violet-eyed man frowned again."But I know what happened…I was a hero and I made a deal with the Powers to save a group of people I couldn't save on my own..and one of those people ended up betraying me…"

"That's Archer's story, not yours, Adrian." Her violet eyes stared at him. "Most Counter Guardians share a similar background, it's true, but you know deep in your heart that it never really rang true…"

"No, that's not the case." He said firmly. " I may not remember everything about the past few centuries, but I do know what happened before I became a Counter Guardian!"

"Do you, now?" Willowe finished off her salad and returned her fork to her plate before looking him the eye. "Me tu swori ty'dala, yinki y yankia."

"What?" Adrian's brow furrowed in a frown. "'I am your blade sister, now and forever' But how could you know that…that language is just something Chrys and I made up…" Then he jerked straight and his eyes widened as a barrage of sounds and images hit, too fast to make distinctions except for battle cries and swords flashing against one another and what might have been a long, pained scream.

Then he was over and he collapsed back against the chair, panting like he just run a mile. "What…how did…what did you…" He caught himself and forced himself to relax, his breathing evening out. "Those were memories..but why couldn't I see them? And if you got memories of the same thing when you died, why didn't I?"

His eyes widened. "I wouldn't get them back… if there weren't any memories to get back… all I have are traces of what's left in my head…"

"That's correct." Willowe explained as Adrian ate some more of his soup to steady himself. "You didn't get those memories back because they weren't there to get back. Someone removed them from you after you became a Counter Guardian for some reason and sealed them somewhere." She shook her head at the questioning looking in his eyes. "No, I don't know why there were removed. My memories stop some time before that, so I don't know where they are, either. The only clue I can give you is that your memories lie in the same past does."

"Okay, I can get that…" Adrian watched as their entrees disappeared to be replaced by steak and their water replaced by wine glasses. "But why do I need these memories to defeat Runoa? What do they hold?"

"I don't know that…" Willowe cut off a piece of her steak and popped it in her mouth, moaning slightly. "Oh, this is so good…" Swallowing, she continued. "All I know is that memories hold the key to you getting all your power back. Not your Librarian or Counter Guardian powers, your powers- the powers you had before you become a Guardian."

"So they'll make me stronger…" Adrian mused as he started in on his steak. "But I guess its how I use them or what I learn that may make a difference in beating Runoa."

"That's about the gist of it." Willowe replied, taking a sip of her wine.

For several long minutes, there were no sounds save for the two of them eating and drinking. It was an odd silence, at the same tense and yet companionable. Adrian didn't know what Willowe felt like, but he was eating dinner with the woman who had killed him and yet, he found he didn't really mind it.

It kinda creeped him out.

He was nearly finished with his rather delicious steak and glass of wine when Willowe spoke up. "Tell me about Palm Tree."

"Uh, yeah, sure." Finishing another bite, he thought for a moment. "Well, she's Hati's ward now, her name is Emily Smith. she's really inclined towards technology-probably going to be quite the inventor some day. She's struck a good relationship with Phoenixia… and oh yeah." He flushed in the cheeks slightly. "She's a real good artist… day of your attack, she drew this really nice, but really racy picture of Tash on my office wall."

"I know. I saw it. It was very impressive." A smile graced Willowe's lips."It sounds like she's growing up in a good family, now… after everything, that's all I wanted… for her to grow up and be happy and not wind up like some kind of monster… like me…"

"Hey." Her auburn curls bounced as she looked up at him and to her surprise, he was smiling. "You did the best you could, Willowe and a lot of other people in your situation wouldn't have done near as well as you did. You sacrificed everything so that Emily would have a chance at a life that so few get. There's a lot of love in that. And despite what you may think, I know in my heart that Emily loves you just as much."

"Heh." Willowe smiled faintly. "You were always like that… always supporting and encouraging and ready to dash at a moment's notice to help us… even in the darkest moments, you made it seem like the sun was shining…"

"Uhhh, thank you…" Adrian felt himself blushing slightly and glanced down at his empty plate in an attempt to hide. "While we're on the subject, will you tell me what I was like in the past? I want to know…" Then he frowned as the plates vanished to be replaced by bowls that contained a single scoop of plain vanilla ice cream. "This is dessert? Who picked the menu?"

"Me." Willowe grabbed her spoon and started in on her ice cream. "Girl needs to watch her figure."

"But we're dead!"

"Are you saying that I can eat as much as I want because I'm dead and fat?"

"What! No! Where would you get an idea like that!"

"You're complaining that the portions are small."

"I'm a growing man!"

"You're dead, remember? You aren't growing."

"Neither are you! So portion sizes shouldn't matter!"

"I'm a woman. Things matter at whatever moment I decide they matter."

"But… I… you… the… why…" Adrian spluttered for a moment and sighed, also digging into his ice cream. "Will you please answer my question?"

"Okay…" Licking her spoon clean, she looked thoughtful for a moment and then smiled. "You were a lot like you are now… Reckless. Dashing. Elegant in combat. Never saying die. Passionate about fighting and being a hero." A wicked grin crossed her face. "And you were so good in bed... I wonder if that's carried over to today…"

Adrian's face burned bright red and he spluttered again. "You have to be joking!"

"Maybe, maybe not… you'll have to get your memories back to find out." Willowe snickered at his discomfort. "No matter how much time passes, you'll always be so easy to tease…"

"Oh, hush, you!" The Librarian felt his face burn as he finished his ice cream and then watched as the bowls disappeared, followed by roses and candles and then table itself. "Guess that means dinner is over…"

"Yes…" She dabbed at her lips with her napkin as they both were forced stand due to the chairs fading away and then she flicked her napkin away, which faded into the darkness. "I was kinda hoping for some after dinner mints… I didn't want it to end…"

"Honestly?" Adrian smiled a bit. "Me neither. You're a good dinner companion when you're not trying to kill me." He grinned as her cheeks pinked. "Yes, score one for me!"

"Yeah, one compared to the ten or so I have on you." But she was smiling a bit and stepped closer to him. "Hold one, you've got some ice cream on the corner of your mouth…"

"Oh, I do? Which side is it-" Then Adrian no longer had to worry about the ice cream on his face as Willowe pressed her lips firmly to his own and wrapped her arms around his waist to hold him tight to her body, pressing against him so tight it was like she was trying to fuse them together.

After a breathless, eternal minute, they pulled about, the Librarian flushing like crazy as Willowe just stepped back and smiled at him, her own cheeks faintly pink. 'I'm sorry… I just… look, it's hard to explain, but I just needed to do that.."

"Yeah, I get yeah…" Adrian's hand brushed his cheek slightly. "Willowe… that was good, great even, but there as a lot of sadness in that kiss, too… why?"

She glanced to the side. "Your memories will return your full power and your past to you, Adrian and perhaps will even give you an edge against Runoa somehow. But it's all or nothing with memories..and I know that there are going to be some you will not like and some that will be downright horrible…" She looked at him, a semi-desperate look in her eyes. "So if I can stave off some of that… give you some good memories to counteract them…"

"It's okay…" He grabbed her shoulders and smiled comfortingly."I understand. I don't know what we were like in the past, but I can't change it… so no matter what I see when I get my memories back, it won't change my opinion of you… you'll still be the same tragic big sister bitch of a Sue who killed me."

"Thank you… and speaking of bitchy…" Willowe stepped close, one hand grabbing his chin and the other grabbing between his legs. "You are going to take good care of my sister, Adrian the Librarian, or so help me god, I will claw my way back from wherever I end up, track you down and rip these off with my bare hands! Are we clear?"

"V-very…" Adrian nodded furiously, already a shade whiter at the mere thought of it. "Crystal c-clear."

"Good!" Releasing him, she patted him on the cheek. "In a bit, a door is going to show up. Go through it to take to the place where you can wait till you're resurrected-if it happens." With that, she moved past him and started to walk away.

She had only gotten a half-dozen steps when Adrian's voice stopped, though he hadn't turned around. "Hey. Where are you going to go from here?"

"I'll probably just go back into the creative ether, like all finished or discarded ideas do…who knows. I could really wind up anywhere." She didn't bother to turn around, either.

"Well…" Adrian readjusted his coat. "If you get reincarnated, come look me up. I may have a job for you."

"I'd like that…" Willowe smiled. "Good-bye, Adrian. Tell Hati hello from me and tell Tash I'm sorry…"

He gave her a thumbs-up. "They probably already know, but I'll tell them anyway."

"Thank you." Then she continued to walk away and then she was just gone a few steps later, dissolving into sparkles of light.

Adrian blinked a large white door materialized in front of him. "Well, this is easy." He grabbed the handle, opened it and stepped inside.

The room was pure white, as were the chairs, though both were just enough off white that it wasn't incredibly blinding. There were no doors or windows or even a visible light source, though he could still see. No one else was in the room.

He figured the door he had come through was already gone and glanced around. "This is gonna be boring if they expect me to wait in this place…" Then he blinked as he saw of splash of black color. Another blink got rid of the headache and blurry vision caused by it and realized that it was stack of books on the table that reached his chin. "Ahhh, reading material. This should last me about two hours."

Slipping into a chair, he grabbed the top pick and got read to open the cover… then frowned when he saw the title. Setting it aside, he grabbed the next book… then set it aside and grabbed the next one… only to set it aside.

Desperately, he dug through the entire stack of books and moaned he realized they were all from the same series. "Why the heck would Purgatory's waiting room be stacked with Twilight books!"

He stared at the stack of books, wondering if he'd something horrible to deserve this. Not only was he not much a fan of the series in general, but he'd already read them and he hated reading something he'd read before.

Finally, he grabbed the nearest book….


Ten minutes later…

A snow-white kitten poked it's head up from a fort compiled of the books, standing on its legs and glancing this way and that like a prarie dog. "Super-Kitty observes his surroundings carefully, as a mysterious enemy as disabled the power to his Bookcase of Solitude. It must be the dreaded zombie killer snowman, seeking to draw our hero into their territory where the snow will help them hide. But Super-Kitty has eyes of awesomeness and with a battle cry, he pounces on the nearest zombie killer snowman…."

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