Agnus Dei


amato_icon.gif lucrezia_icon.gif

Scene Title Agnus Dei
Synopsis Lucrezia reveals her arrival to Amato, and he in turn reveals his recent gleanings in addition to a bit more.
Date Janurary 5, 2009

The Church of St. Andrew, Manhattan

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis, miserere nobis.

While the Church of St. Andrew's is far less ornate as the Cathedral of St. John, it is still a place of worship. It also experiences less non-congregant traffic due to it being less of a tourist attraction. It is late, but not so late for Amato not to be found sitting near the back of the balcony's collection of pews, his head bowed over the book of Proverbs.

Miserere nobis. Miserere, miserere, miserere nobis.

His wool coat is draped over the back of the pew at his side, leaving the thin Italian is his dark suit, complimented with a red tie. Amato is, for all appearances, engrossed in his reading, despite the fact that in the main sanctuary below, a choir practices, filling the relatively small space with angel-like song.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis, miserere nobis.

A slow and steady staccato accompaniment soon begins to tap against the ears of what faithful few parishioners there are to be found haphazardly scattered amoungst the pews…

Click. Click. Click.

The noise is not loud enough to turn heads or cause the choir of cherubim to pause in their practice, though one boy falters audibly at a rest, perhaps provoked into distraction by something he catches out of the corner of his eye.

Meanwhile, in the balcony, a small spider suddenly scuttles along the spine of the well-worn, wooden seat directly in front of the fair-haired man, though it disappears into the dim shadows beneath the lip without anything longer than a moment's pause.

The choir sings in Latin, plaintive, sorrowful, and respectful. As much the language of his birth as any other, Amato cannot help but breathe in time with the phrasing, the words and their meaning echoing in his head.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis, miserere nobis.

L'agnello del dio, che toglie i peccati del mondo, ha misericordia su noi.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.

Amato does not see the spider, but the steady black type on the page of the book cradled in his thin-fingered hands are equally out of focus.

The steady sound fades out in time only to fade in again with an echo that suggests whatever it is is drawing ever closer.

Click. Click. Click.

At last, the noise reaches the balcony and the nature of it becomes all too apparent; it's the sound of high heels keeping an even gait. Closer. Closer now. Any moment now… a pause.

A woman's whispered voice suddenly manifests so close to Amato's left ear that he can actually feel the heat of her breath on the back of his neck, «…did you miss me?»

Had it not been for the few insects that Amato has observed with a more careful, and in a way, hopeful, eye, he would be more startled by the sudden, silky-smooth voice in his ear. As it is, the once would-be priest actually smiles somewhat. "«I would have missed you,»" he replies in kind, using their native tongue, "«had you really been gone. Though I am somewhat grieved you have come so near. You rarely bring good tidings.»"

There is a small yet audible measure of affection in Amato's voice, but it could easily be chalked up to his not having seen the owner of this particular voice for such a long time. Still, his eyes remain fixed on the Bible's open pages in his hands. "«Have you just arrived?»"

In lieu of a more forthright and definitive 'yes', the reply that Amato receives comes instead as a musically measured hum. An 'mmhmm' that draws her lips together next to his earlobe. Two tightly-gloved hands come to rest on either side of the pew that supports the man's shoulders and there's a subtle creak as she shifts her weight forward in order to surreptitiously steal a look down at the Bible ever-clutched in Amato's grip. Proverbs? She knows Proverbs. "«For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead…»" She is, after all, one of those terrible, strange women that the Bible warns good men like Amato against.

After only a pair of breaths in pause, she once again murmurs so near to the fair-haired man's ear, "«You know why I'm here.»"

Amato's eyes close when Lucrezia repositions herself behind him, but he does his best not to move otherwise. She may be wearing gloves, but far be it from the sort of woman the Good Book warns against to find other places with which to torment men like Amato. "<I can imagine,"» he replies, but is quick to add, "«And even if I couldn't, I could easily point in the direction of a reason. But it is not my word you take as an order, nor my will you do.»"

"«All you have to do,»" she croons. "«…is ask.»"

It's a good thing these two are alone on the balcony, else the scene unfolding before unwitting righteous eyes might look particularly damning — a black-clad woman bending to whisper sinister in the ear of a God-handed man at prayer — as the Devil has no shame.

"«I'll have confession to make soon, sacerdote, when you can find the time to hear it.»" She pauses once more, lifting her lips away from the lobe she's all but nibbling on as the choir embarks upon another hymn; she resumes her clandestine conversation only after the angels find their voices again. «But, first, there is something I have to do…» Which means it's something sinful, if it's to be accomplished before confession, no doubt. Go ahead. Let imagination run wild and quake (or quiver) in anticipation.

Amato pulls his head away at that confession in and of itself, finally turning his head to look at Lucrezia, his expression interested yet afraid at the same time. "«It would be best for us to to speak elsewhere, then,»" he says after a moment of studying her. "«There is perhaps more…pressing work for you to do. I cannot say, but I do trust your judgment regarding these…issues.»"

Distraction accomplished. Lucrezia, hell on wheels in a black dress, quietly congratulates herself at successfully getting a rise out of Amato, even if it wasn't exclusively owed to her wicked ways. One eyebrow arches inquisitively as she wonders, "«Where did you have in mind?»"

There is really no reason that Amato should assume that his own apartment is not wired to high heaven for Ethan Holden's listening pleasure, and even though she may no longer be with the Vanguard, the skies are still filled with potential spies for Mu-…Eileen's ears. What is a safe place to speak?

After a moment of thought, Amato closes his Bible and shifts further away from Lucrezia in order to stand. He tucks the book under one arm and then drapes his coat over it before he reaches for the woman's gloved hand.

"«Come with me.»"

Wordlessly, he leads her to a chapel off of the main sanctuary, where the only other presence is that of the Eucharist. Once safely installed, Amato releases Lucrezia's hand and pulls on his coat, slipping his Bible into its breast pocket, like a shield specially designed for his heart. "«I assume you know much, so I will spare you details unless you request them. I have reason to believe that this Gabriel Gray in whom our Master has invested his future has alternative goals, which he wishes to accomplish with his little harlot.»"

Verily, the dark Italian woman allows the fair Italian man to tote her around by leather-gloved hand until they are safely within whatever sort of sanctuary he so chooses to provide. Her relocation comes with the same cacophonous herald as her arrival, only this time the beat it kept double-time.

Click click. Click click. Click click.

When, at last, she is brought before the Lord's table, Lucrezia lays her bedroom eyes on Amato and moves in to close quarters in order to confirm with an notable absence of her previous playfulness, "«I have seen a great many things.»" It's then that it becomes apparent that she's looking him over much more predatorily; there's something about the votive light that illuminates her eyes more menacing. She is not, however, threatening him. He's known her long enough to recognize the subtle difference between gravity and closeted maliciousness. "«Help me understand.»"

There is so much. It would be easier of Amato's gift worked two ways, affording him the option of simply sharing the images he has seen with others. With a sigh, Amato paces away from Lucrezia to sink into a seat far from the chapel's treasured altar. "«She has sunk her claws into Ethan's tender flesh,»" he muses cryptically, "«Gabriel knew Munin - Eileen -»" and there is a sharp pause when the stalwart celibate mentions the young woman's name. Amato recovers after a moment, as if only halting to clear his throat.

"«And now she has turned from us…or was perhaps driven away. She was in his care the last I spoke to her. Then she was kidnapped, and he went missing - no one ever gave me full details as to how such a think occurred. And now that whore has been apparently put in charge of the third phase. It seems odd to trust someone so new with something so important, but even I do not know what poison they have been pouring into Kazimir's ear.»"

As ever, where Amato goes, Lucrezia eventually follows but not is not the time to plague the man with games that violate his personal space. This is business… and business requires cold and calculating distance in order to be discussed objectively. She takes up a post in opposition to her spiritual counterweight in order to keep both him and the door in sight simultaneously. The one word of his litany that she chooses to repeat is: "«Apparently.»"

Perhaps a change of perspective is in order? Lucrezia tilts her temple ever so slightly to the side as she casually observes, "<You know, I don't think I like this look on you… jealousy. Of all the sins you have to choose from, it's by far the least flattering…»" She then inclines her chin and looks at Amato through her long lashes and asks, "«Do you doubt him, Thomas?»"

Rage at her own doubt in him flares up in Amato, and in a moment he is on his feet, his face pink with it. "«I doubt those he draws closer to him by the hour, Miz Bennati,»" he growls in a low voice, kept only so as to keep their visit to the chapel one that need not be interrupted by any passerby.

"«I have served him for half my life,»" he adds, calming considerably, like a fire moments after a newly thrown log throws up sparks, "«As I have served God for all of it.»" Turning his head away from Lucrezia, Amato sinks into the pew once again. "«But we are not angels as I once thought, my nigra anga. We are mere mortal men, and so just as corruptible as those we toil to save.»"

"«Then… have faith,»" she softly pleads in subtle but genuine earnest. It's time to close the distance between them again and Lucrezia has no qualms in falling on her knees if that's what it might take in order to convince Amato of her sincerity… and possibly give the illusion to passersby that the man is conversing aloud with Christ or the Holy Spirit or some other absent entity. Gloved hands gently grip his well-dressed but slightly knobby knees as she very pointedly looks up at him and reveals in a delicate voice, "«We are being ever-tested. You know that. We must prove our worth to him. If they fall — if she falls — you must not tumble after them blindly. I cannot lose you to this vanity. Not now.»" However, in her suggestive devotion, she makes deadly certain that there comes no skin-to-skin contact between them. For both their sakes.

Amato opens his eyes to the sight of Lucrezia at his feet in supplication, but he looks down at her not as a king, but a tired servant on a pleading lady. A smile teases one corner of his lips for a moment, and he lifts a hand as if to stroke her sleek black hair, though his pale palm remains safely distant.

"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear." Amato's recitation of scripture has lost none of the fervor Lucrezia may remember, but while his conviction is as steadied by the words as ever, his voice is soft, as if whispering words to a loved one. "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

That smile grows until it fills Amato's face, making his pale eyes twinkle. "«I think perhaps you have come to give me just that.»"

January 5th: A Meeting in the Dark
January 5th: The Whetting Stone
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