Ernesto hung up his office phone, and stared at it for a few moments. He usually wasn’t summoned to the Papal Office, unless the sneaky bastard was up to something.
If Pius wanted to talk to him, he usually raided the Vatican Security Offices.
If there was a problem with his Holiness, the guards would alert him.
So for him to get an actually phone call, requesting him come up to see the Pope, was suspicious at best.
He tucked his gun into his back holster, made sure the knife was secured in his boot, and grabbed the secondary knife, inserting it in the sleeve under his coat. He couldn’t wear his hidden blade in his normal suits, so he had a leather sleeve designed to fit against his inner arm.
Stalking out of his office, he took note that the other officers were working normally, no one was giving him any side looks or trying to act casual. Suspicion deepened as he made his way up the flights of stairs, then towards the Papal Office.
He gave the two Swiss Guards a nod, and entered.
He was half way to his Holiness desk when he saw the second guest. One he knew, as he was part of his own Clan, a recent addition that had come from the now infamous ‘Colosseum Incident’.
“Ernesto!” Pius stood giving him a bright smile.
“Come sit down.” He gestured towards the seat across from the longhaired, reporter.
“What is it that you need of me?” He wasn’t surprised Giovanni’s formality kicked in. Ever since, he came to terms with how connected he was to his Past Lives, there were times they popped into his normal life.
“Sit…” Pius gestured again.
Ernesto just stared at him.
“I’m actually here to conduct an interview.” The guest smiled at him, trying to calm the Inspector. “Don’t worry it’s not for outside consumption, more for the Clans. Imenand figured that since the Clan Leaders were ignoring their Facebook accounts, and most Vampires want nothing to do with Social Media, that there should be some type of media to get information about fellow Vampires.”
He could get away with Assassinating Imenand – Ezio would do it for him. Hector would make a great Leader, after all he did defend Troy to his dying breath.
“And what does that have to do with me?” Ernesto asked in a tone that conveyed annoyance and agitation.
“Well there’s been a few small interviews of late. Jack Reacher, you may not have heard of him, he’s a newer Hunter up in Tallikut. Also Eowyn and Dean Winchester did short interviews.” The reporter gave him a smile, the one that Ernesto didn’t trust from any member of that particular family.
“This is for the Vampire Gazette?” He snarked as he turned around to head for the door, only to stop short when he saw Chartrand and Oliveira blocking it. “I can take both of you.”
They pointed up.
Ernesto sighed, and looked to see his kid perched on one of the chandeliers. “Traitor.”
“Was he there the whole time?” Pius stared up at the young man, with wide eyes.
“I’m not getting out of this am I?” Ernesto ran his hand over this face. “Where’s Kiernan?”
“If smart, hiding.” Chartrand muttered, only to shut his mouth when his boss glared at him.
“He’s doing some research for me.” Pius again motioned towards the seat.
“You distracted him, while I’m being interrogated.” Ernesto settled down in the chair, and faced the reporter. He rested his right leg on the opposite knee, letting his pants shift to show his knife holster.
One of the reporter’s eyebrows went up, but he just pulled out his recorder and notebook.
“No.” Ernesto gave him a look. “I’ll do this interview only because His Holiness would annoy me until I do…”
He gave the Pope a look.
“Okay yes, yes I would.”
He focused back on the reporter. “You’re a reporter and a Vampire do this old school and write fast.”
The other man nodded, turning the recorder off and slipping it into his pocket. He didn’t even try to be sneaky he knew who he was dealing with. “I have a set of questions from variety of Clan Members…”
“Are you stating that people sent in questions?” Ernesto sighed, he had a feeling he was going to be caught between being horrified and perturbed.
“Yes.” He nodded, and pulled up a few sheets of paper, pulling a groan from his interviewee. “Let’s start with some of the easier ones.”
“Please, the quickest we can get this over with the sooner I can get back to doing my job.”
“Ernesto by nice.”
He glared at the Pope. “You said I had to be nice to the my guards, not reporters. Matter of fact I recall many times you had no problem me pushing a few into the rose bushes.”
“Well that was different.” Pius smiled at the reporter. “Do go on.”
“What is your favorite place in Rome?” He asked, smirking slightly.
Chartrand and Olivia snickered.
“I’m answering the questions honestly.” Ernesto chuckled slightly. “Keirnan’s rooms are quiet which lets me have some peace. In the city itself, I would say the Vatican, but I may be biases.”
“Let’s go for some of the safe ones.” The reporter chuckled, writing down the full exchange. “Favorite book? Movie? Song? Poet? Artist? ”
Ernesto sighed. “Book, The Count of Monte Cristo.” Which just made him snicker, his girl was sneaky and vengeful, he was very proud of that. “Least favorite is those crap books written by Langdon … all of them.”
Which got a snort from Chartrand.
“Movie, well I’m going to be that guy, I loved Star Wars, who didn’t want to be Han Solo. For song, I’ve always preferred the Opera, and I’m not a fan of poetry. Favorite Artist, Raphael, but don’t tell him.” He waved his hand at the reporter. “Is these the get to know you questions, to lead me into a false sense of security.”
“Of course.” He chuckled wickedly. “And for the next set. Favorite Food? Desert? Non-Coffee Drink? Non-Italian Food?”
He was about ready to open his mouth to say Keirnan was his favorite food and desert, when he felt the Pope’s glare, so he went with the non-porn answer. “There’s no such thing as non-Italian food, or a non-coffee drink. I like my momma’s lasagna, and one of my favorite treats is crema al cioccolato.”
“Besides chasing down the Pope and taking out idiots?”
“Speaking of if you could, would you drive a Formula One race car?” He was curious, since he had met Lealta’s racing team a few months back.
“I have, and it was the awesomest thing ever.” Ernesto grinned like a kid. “It was a birthday gift from his Holiness and my Mate. They introduced me to Dino and Hunt, who let me take the car around the track.”
“They tried to recruit him, stated he was a natural.” Pius added to the conversation, smiling at the memory of that day. How carefree and happy Ernesto had been, not worrying about threats, shadows, or assassins. For those few moments he got to be a kid.
“I would’ve been a good driver, I’m Italian it’s in my blood!” He teased the Pope.
“So if you didn’t become Vatican Police, you would’ve gone for Race Car Driver?” He chuckled at their antics.
“There was no other option to me than being Vatican Police.” Ernesto answered honestly. “I could not see myself doing anything else.”
“Is that what you wanted to be when you grew up?”
“Police officer, yes. After my father. I did my two years in the military, then joined the Vatican Police, it was a calling, much like the Swiss Guards.” He knew there was no life for him, but the Vatican. Ernesto didn’t want to think about, what would’ve happened That Night, if he hadn’t been here.
“This isn’t an easy job.” The reporter glanced behind the Inspector to see Chartrand and Oliveira the two he knew the Inspector trusted the most. All three were serious about their duty, and held the security of the Vatican in their hands. “And no one could really doubt your dedication and loyalty.”
“Oh they’ve tried.”
“Yes, there are times I’m embarrassed by my fellow journalist, looking to sell papers by sensationalism, and not for reporting the truth.” He sat back in his seat, taking his own calm breathes, trying to not remember his own issues. “Let’s move on. You’re very dedicated to the job, and it has been rumored that you’ve had to be dragged out kicking and screaming to take vacation time.”
The snort and laughter from behind him, had Ernesto turning in his chair and glaring at his subordinates. “It is not easy to take a vacation, there is a lot to oversea at the Vatican.”
“You recently were dragged kicking and screaming to Disneyland?” He held up the picture of Ernesto guarding Mickey Mouse. “Or where you being recruited?”
He rolled his eyes, that picture never goes away. It doesn’t help that Lucretia has it up in the clan photos, and even Leonardo and Robert have a copy on their mantel. He had glared at his Mate, when he found a copy on his desk.
“I did enjoy my trip out to Disneyland, it was fun and relaxing.” He admitted, smiling softly. He enjoyed his time with Kiernan, it was nice not being the Inspector and Priest.
“Have you gone to any of the other parks? Or would you got back?” He set the photo on the Pope’s desk.
Ernesto watched as Pius took the image, and set it on the bookcase behind him. “You to?”
“It’s one of my favorites.” Pius smiled at him. “Plus it watches over my Pope Mobile.” He set the small toy next to the photo.
“What does your daughters think of the photo?”
He sighed. “Both of them have a copy, and my oldest teases me merciless.”
“Besides Disneyland, where else would you want to go? Maybe take Kiernan? Sail around the world. Or is there a favorite place you’ve already been? Least favorite spot?”
“Ireland.” He smiled softly, thinking about to the nights of the two of them. “Kiernan’s Irish so it’s nice to see him in his native culture, even more to see him in his kilt.” He waggled his eyebrows, making even the Pope snort. “I’ve been all over, traveling with the Pope, and I have to say I’m not found of Egypt or the desert.” Ernesto paused, tilting his head slightly. “Sailing, is not really something that appeals to me.”
“Place you really want to visit?” He was curious know that the Pope has traveled the world, and usually Ernesto was with him.
“Australia, sounds interesting.”
“You mentioned Kiernan’s kilt, any other favorite outfit?”
Ernesto chuckled low. “I’m so going to confession for this one, his Cassock.”
“What?” He laughed lightly at the scandalous expression on His Holiness face. “He looks very nice in it.”
“It’s a kink.” The reporter pointed out, pretty sure he was going to end up in Confession and he wasn’t even Catholic.
“Just ask Nico.” Ernesto smiled brightly. “And that Pirate Mate of his.” He heard the small growl from the roof, he shifted just enough to get him in his eye line. “Hush boy, do not make me call your Mate.”
“Speaking of Mates.” The reporter moved quickly along, cutting off any argument that may start. “What is the one thing about your Mate that frustrates you?”
“It’s something between us, and we deal with it. I irritate him as much as he does me, at times.”
“From that, what’s the most romantic thing you’ve done for Kiernan?”
He bowed his head for a moment, a soft smile on his face. “Gave him complete control.”
Everyone in that room, knew what that meant for both Vampires.
The reporter coughed slightly. “Is there any friendships you have that Kiernan doesn’t like? Or the opposite ones he encourages.”
“Cougar.” His body shifted only slightly, and Pius swore he giggled. “I’m not allowed to be with him alone, and neither with Nico especially if he’s tired. Though he trusts me, it’s the them he has issues with.”
“And the ones he encourages?”
“The Pope, though he’s not sure who has the best or worst influence – Me on His Holiness or the other way around.”
Pius grinned as he reached out and patted Ernesto’s arm. “You have and will always be a blessing in my life.”
“As you are in mine.” He smiled in return. “I just wish you would stay out of trouble!”
“Well we all know about his sneakiness.” The reporter laughed at the Pope’s shocked expression. “So where has been the weirdest place you found him?”
“The cheese shop, five blocks from here.” He gave his friend a look. “The homeless shelters, the orphanages, hospitals, all these are normal, that one was odd.”
“I like cheese.”
“Chartrand could get you cheese.” Ernesto pointed out.
“But it’s only five blocks, and a nice walk, the doctor said I should get more exercise.” Pius argued.
“Not without at least two bodyguards.”
“I’m guessing that is the weirdest thing you’ve caught him doing?” The reporter glanced at the Pope.
“We don’t talk about that.”
The reporter looked between them, and then moved on. “Ever thought of locking him and Nick up in the same room…”
“Fuck No!” He ignored Pius’ gasp. “No, hell no, hells to the no. No just no. Did I mention no? They would partner up, sneak out together, and make my life a living hell. No. No. No.”
“I’ve heard you kid there has helped him sneak out a few times.”
Ernesto sent his boy a filthy glare. “Yeah, he learned not to do that.”
“We’re not getting that story are we?” The reporter asked, with a grin.
“No.” Came from the ceiling.
“So the question everyone wants to know.” He leaned forward slightly. “How many Vampires has Pius met?”
Pius beamed. “I recently had a nice conversation with a Captain Jack Sparrow. Mr. Lincoln also stopped by, we were able to talk for hours. Then there was the nice Inspector Javert and his Mate. I would really like to do a world tour, and visit all the Clans.”
Ernesto stared at him in horror not even wanting to think of that logistic nightmare. He caught the pale faces of his two subordinates, and knew they were thinking the same thing.
“What Clan would you like to visit?” He asked Ernesto.
“I admit… ” He pointed at Pius. “This isn’t permission for you to plan any trips. I would like to visit a few of them.”
“Is there any particular Vampire you want to meet the most? Or do I need to find Dilios’ book of Vampires for you to look through?”
“There’s a book?” Pius asked, giddy with the anticipation.
“You will now have to die.” Ernesto gave the reporter a glare.
“Who is this Dilios?” The Pope demanded.
“The one who knows the whos who of Vampires.” The reporter scooted back slightly away from the Inspector.
“He’s from the same family line as Faramir.” Ernesto sighed in resignation. He didn’t know how, but somehow Pius would get the Vampire into his office.
“I’ll make a note we should invite him for tea.” Pius grabbed his Starkphone and put a note to talk to Faramir, and get the young man to the Vatican.
“You will pay for that.”
The reporter shrugged. “So any Vampire you wanted to meet?”
“Those I’ve needed to meet I have.” He answered the best way he knew how.
“Any one in particular you dread to meet because of their reputation?” The reporter moved on with the interview.
“I’ve met the MacManus’ there’s nothing I can’t deal with, after them.”
He had a point.
The reporter paused for a few moments, which meant the next set of questions were going to suck. “Go on just ask them.”
“Do you regret That Night?” He asked taking a deep breath. “I mean have you ever thought of what would’ve happened if Nico wasn’t there.”
“I would’ve died.” He answered simply. “I have hope that Langdon still would have found the canister and the Vatican would’ve been saved. But I would not have survived it. So do I regret That Night? Regret my Turning. No. I came to terms with that a while back. This is my duty, my calling, it is my life.”
“Any regrets at all?”
“Many, but known that I will speak of.”
“From everything that had happened, did you develop any phobias, or had any before?” He moved the conversation in another direction.
“I am not good with buildings on fire,” he admitted. “And as much as it pains me, I still have difficulties going into the Santa Maria della Vittoria, even after all these years.”
Ernesto startled it was an odd one in the middle of a set of serious questions. But then he knew he was dealing with a damn good reporter, not Louis Lane. “Idiots who tried to raid the Vatican and hurt the Pope.”
“We know you’re good at your job, and your self control is legendary, so what is your most embarrassing moment?” He hoped the easier question would calm the Inspector back down, especially as he knew his last set of questions were going to be difficult.
He just looked over at Pius, who blushed.
Pius crossed himself.
“Moving on.” The reporter was curious, but knew not to push. “Favorite time of day and why?”
“Early morning, looking out over the city, that is mainly due to the influence of Giovanni, as it was when he was at the most peace.” Ernesto glanced back to Ezio, feeling the small smile and warm gaze.
“Speaking of Giovanni.”
Ernesto gave him a look, sighed, and then waved his hand for him to continue.
“Most know of Sofya, Giovanni, and Inéz … any others?” He scooted back in his chair, at the intense glare.
“There are more, but we are not to be discussed.” Ernesto shut that thread of questioning down.
“Which one has had the most influence?” He pushed, like all good reporters.
Ernesto chuckled low, his gaze intense. “We all have our influences.”
“Giovanni has his son, is it odd for you to also have your daughter returned in John Rhys?” He watched as a softer expression came over Ernesto’s face.
“My girl is a fighter, and annoys her father like she should.” Ernesto blinked a few times, then glanced at Pius. “It’s amazing how many ties we have to Rhys.”
The reporter turned towards the Pope, who gave him that careful blank stare. The one he knew he wasn’t getting anything out of him. He focused back on Ernesto. “Bruce made any movies yet?”
“Not yet!” He laughed. “Though Dastan has a few things coming after selling ideas to the that gaming company.”
“Okay last two questions, one odd and one serious.” He shifted in his seat and took a few deep breaths. “What are your plans when you retire?”
“I’m not retiring.”
“I mean after …”
“He means after I’ve gone home to the Lord.” Pius helped the reporter out. “It might be a bit obvious if you start guarding the next Man in White.”
“My duty will always keep me near the Vatican, but in between times I’ll be by my Mate’s side. What God wants to do with us, His will be done.” He answered to the best of his ability, not wanting to even think about burring Pius or what life would be like after he was gone.
“Would you travel to other planets if you could?”
“I already have.” The answer startled everyone in the room. Ernesto stood towering over the reporter. “And I think that will be all.”
The reporter stood and held out his hand. “Thank You.”
“You’re welcome, Cal.” He took his hand and gave it a firm shake. Cal McAffrey had survived an ordeal that many would have perished from, Ernesto blamed and credited his famous Meridii genes. “How is Eomer?”
“Fine. He’s up in Geneva it’s time for Roc’s check up.”
“And the goat?”
Cal frowned. “We don’t talk about the goat.”
Ernesto laughed patting him on the shoulder. “So who’s the next victim?”