Consciousness came back to him in increments. He was warm, he wasn't too sore, and he was comfortable where he was laying… Oh yeah, he'd spent the last night with Phoenixia for some comfort after that battle with Silver. He had had no idea whatsoever that that Stu would be so strong. For once he had underestimated his opponent.
"Morning, handsome." A voice came from above him.
"Mn… mornin'…" Hands came down onto tense muscles and worked into them. "Phoenixia, you keep doing that and you'll put me back to sleep."
"Well, you need it. You're always tense after a battle and this is one of the few ways to get you to relax."
A thump and a yell came from the hallway outside Adrian's room. Footsteps ran past, screaming bloody murder, "I'll get you for that comment, Blake!"
"And oh yeah, the other thing." Phoenixia snickered. "The British Society Agents are up, along with a few American ones. Thought you should know." She sighed, putting a hand to her cheek in thought. "You lost a bit more of your mind by letting them in, didn't you?"
"Yeah. But the Library was too quiet for too long. Much too quiet…" Adrian tensed up again, to which Phoenixia growled at and worked at his shoulders that much more enthusiastically.
"How long do you think you'll let them stay?"
Adrian paused for a moment to ponder it. "I really don't know. They're…refreshing. And entertaining. Can't forget that. I mean what kind of person, in the middle of a mission, will drop everything and glomp a character, forgetting everything and everyone around them, including the target Sue? I'm not sure if I should be completely exasperated with them or laugh until I drop with them around. I like the change."
He snuggled into the sheets as Phoenixia giggled and worked her way down his back, and then back up his spine, soothing the muscles, getting them to release their knots and relax.
Adrian 'hmm'ed and pushed his face into the pillow, like he was going to go back to sleep.
"Adrian, no, you can't go back to sleep. Stay in here too long and people will think something happened to you."
"Meeeh. Something did happen to me." His face was almost completely in the pillow, so it came out muffled.
Phoenixia narrowed her eyes, lifted one eyebrow wryly, smirked, and jabbed a finger into his side. He twitched, grumbled a bit, and stilled, ignoring the first offensive in Phoenixia's tickle war.
"Oh, you're not getting off that easily. You need to get up."
"Meeeeeeeh. Don' wanna." Other than the fact that Adrian was smiling, Phoenixia would have believed him. As it was, she wasn't stopping any time soon.
"Ah-huh. C'mon, mister 'Master of the Library,'" He voice was teasing, taunting, daring him to come after her. "Show me what you've got." And she attacked him on the back of his knees, his one weak spot. The Librarian immediately broke into shakes, trying his hardest to not break out into laughter.
"Oh, so you want to play it that way, huh?" Now wide-awake, Adrian leapt up from off the bed and counter-attacked, fingers dancing over Phoenixia's sides, just under her ribs.
She fell into giggles, curled around her middle, and smacked ineffectually at Adrian's tickling fingers. "All right! I give. For now."
Adrian smiled and stretched, no longer wanting to sleep and feeling good about the day so far.
"Ah! I guess the Society is good for you!" Phoenixia smiled warmly. "Had I tried that after a battle before they got here, you would have just ignored me and gone right back to sleep."
"Hrn. You're right."
Adrian paused, violet sword in hand, and reached out with his senses. The hard-light holograms were hard to sense in the training room, but they displaced air. A whisper here… a ghost of a breeze there… Adrian disappeared into a flurry of motion, striking at the opponent behind him before leaping up out of the strike range of the others in front of him.
He shot back down like a meteor and the other targets quickly fell under his sword. Adrian sighed, and watched the holographic training ground, a run-down part of a city; vanish in a fall of motes of light.
"Aww… but that was too easy! Phoenixia, next level please!"
"No," She appeared next to him, arms crossed in a disapproving glare. She was wearing a near exact copy of what Adrian was; a burgundy trench coat with red-gold embroidery at the edges, dark trousers, a forest green shirt and black boots. "Valerie said you have to take it easy, otherwise she would come down on you with all the healer-y wrath she could muster. You're still healing."
Adrian looked at her with a slightly petulant glare, and gave in, his shoulders slumped. "I hate it when you're right."
"Of course I'm right." Phoenixia smiled. "I'm a sentient computer program. I'm always right."
"Where did you get that ego?"
Phoenixia smirked. "From you, dearling."
Adrian rolled his eyes. "Of course." He sighed, and transformed Hoshikuzu back into its much smaller pendant form. "I have to admit, having a healer around is nice. And Valerie isn't even typical of a healer."
"You're telling me? I've seen the talks you've had with her."
"I haven't had any philosophical debates like that in two-hundred years! I mean, it's not like I can get the meaning of life, the universe, and everything from your local Joe-shmoe!"
Phoenixia laughed softly. "I see. Anyone else come to mind?"
"A couple." Adrian went into a couple of light stretches, favoring his injuries. "Michael is one. The man's a fighter through and through, and it shows. Introducing one's self as 'The Gary-Stu Gutter' pretty much says 'I have a sword, I know how to use it, and I like doing it, too.'" He laughed.
"So. Michael. And?" Phoenixia prompted.
"Aster." Adrian's head tilted in thought. "She…" He paused, thinking. "She reminds me of me, so long ago before I learned a hero isn't always welcomed with open arms."
Both paused as they knew exactly what Adrian meant.
Adrian smiled again as a happier thought occurred to him. "Tash." He let out a long, low whistle. "Those fire abilities of hers certainly fit her. It's almost scary. I don't think I want to get on her bad side. And if anyone can take on all the Sues in the Multiverse, it's her."
Phoenixia shrugged. "Weeeell, if you did, I guess all you'd have to do is give her some chocolate and she'd be happy again."
"True." Adrian laughed.
"Phoenixia, I need you to do me a favor." Adrian said to the air in front of him as he shelved some new books the Library had recently acquired.
"Sure. What?" She appeared next to him and picked up a book to put away herself.
"Keep an eye on the Society. What they do on their computers, who they talk to and such. As much as I've trusted them to let them into the Library on a permanent basis, I can't trust them so far as to leave them alone." He sighed. "I hate doing this, but it needs to be done. The Society…" He shook his head. "They've stepped into something far larger than they can imagine. There are worse things than Sues out there and they might piss the wrong people off…"
Adrian stopped, suddenly, and sucked in a breath. His face went whiter than a sheet and he shivered.
"Adrian?" Phoenixia put her hand on his shoulder, ready to rush him off to the medical ward.
"I'm fine, I'm fine." He brushed her hand off and rubbed at his arms. "You know how people say that they just felt like someone walked over their grave?"
Phoenixia nodded. "Yeah."
"That was ten times worse." He breathed in again, deeply, to dispel the last of the crawling feeling going down his spine. "I think… I think something's coming. And it's big, and it has to do with me. That's the only way I could've felt it in advance."
"Do you want me to make preparations?"
"No." Adrian shook his head. "I think it'll be a while before anything happens. We just need to keep an eye out."
"And Phoenixia?" The hologram turned back to look. "Keep yourself out of sight when you spy on everyone, ok? Can't let them know about out ace in the hole just yet."
She rolled her eyes. "What, do you think I'm new at this? Of course."
Omake scene: Because I can.
Adrian and Phoenixia sat behind a counter as Rhia looked at them, gobsmacked.
"You want to learn how to cook."
Adrian nodded. "Yep."
Phoenixia shrugged. "Yeah. I mean, I could just look it up, but there's no fun in that. So we'd thought we'd come in here and ask you for a couple lessons."
"Oooookaaaay." Rhia thought about it for a second, and shrugged. "Sure. You got a few minutes now?"
"Right." The self-appointed (and frankly nobody argued with it unless they wanted to eat nothing but oatmeal for a week) Society chef started shuffling through her supplies. "You know, cooking is a lot like chemistry. Mix one part A with two parts B and you get the result, the same result, every time. I, however, got kicked out of my chem. club in high school." She turned to give them a wicked grin over her shoulder, bags of something in her arms.
Adrian had a feeling he'd regret asking the next question. "Why?"
"Ooooh," Rhia shrugged, and grabbed a small bottle of something off a shelf. "I had habit of blowing things up. I mean, fire plus chemical A equals a very nice boom. And I do like explosions. And fire. Ever put a grape in a microwave? It lights on fire. And those peep marshmallows? Stick two full of toothpicks and place them about an inch apart in the microwave. They'll expand until the toothpicks pierce each other. Then they explode into warm marshmallow goodness." Rhia had a look of absolute delight on her face.
Adrian and Phoenixia wondered what exactly they had just gotten themselves into.