Recipient: Josh (youngest_one)
Request: Enrique as a priest.
Disclaimer: They belong to Marvel, Gaiman, et cetera.
Notes: This kind of went off on a tangent from the original request, and I didn't have time to write a second story that followed the request precisely, for which I apologise. I am more than happy to write a short story that's closer to the request, if the recipient wants. ;)
If anyone spots any mistakes or inaccuracies, please feel free to point them out, so I can correct them.
'Ah, Enrique. You never write, you never visit.'
There had been no sound of footsteps upon the stairs, and there are two years and over a thousand miles between their previous meeting and the present. Yet, while Enrique may not have expected this particular visitation, he is unsurprised. Carlos is predictable in his unpredictability, meticulous in the plotting of that which appears to be spontaneous. There are no coincidences when Carlos Javier is involved.
Enrique makes a great show of studying the manuscript before him, as if it is of the greatest interest, and the intruder at the door a mere gnat. He addresses the manuscript with disdain.
'There is a very good reason for that. I had rather hoped you would have taken the hint, after all these years.'
He can muster only the most perfunctory venom; after a few moments, he turns in his chair to face the doorway. A lean figure leans against the doorframe, a knowing smile upon his face.
'Did you travel all this way, just to stand out there all evening?'
Carlos enters, stride athletic and face full of mischief... and hairline receding. Enrique refrains from letting the smirk touch his own expression, for such a display would ill befit a priest.
He stands to offer Carlos his chair, but Carlos seems content to seat himself upon the floor. Enrique joins him, the stone hard and cold beneath him. Despite Carlos's maddening insistence upon the equality of the Witchbreed and the mondani, Enrique is able to at least admit that he should not place himself above Carlos. The man is his equal, and also his superior in a few ways he would rather not acknowledge.
Carlos waves off offers of hospitality, another old ritual between them. Words are the sustenance he always craves, willing to devour hours of discussion in search of a morsel of hope. He pushes the doctrine of change more upon Enrique than any other, Enrique knows. Each rejection on Enrique's part merely makes him more determined, as the ever-grander chases across Europe demonstrate.
It is... flattering, if somewhat irritating. Perhaps after this, he shall travel to the Orient, and test the limits of Carlos's not-inconsiderable resources.
Carlos is focused on something in the corner. Enrique follows his line of sight, and spots the telltale glint of his helmet, sitting under his desk. He reaches back to pluck it from its resting-place, and examines it. The last crimson rays of sunlight dance like fire upon its surface.
'I see you still do not trust me fully, old friend.' The tone is jovial, free of accusation; if it sounds as if there is something sadder lying beneath, it can surely be explained by travel-weariness.
Enrique matches his joviality, still watching the play of light and shadow. 'If there is one part of my old life I shall never cast off, it is this. You always were too meddlesome for your own good. Or that of anyone else, for that matter.'
'Come now, Enrique. I've told you before: I use my gifts neither directly nor indirectly to seek you out, but rather rely on other, more mundane skills I am constantly developing. One's wits are a tool best sharpened through regular use.' He smiles ruefully. 'Why else do you think it took me so long to find you? Although, I must admit that I was... distracted... in Scotland for some time.'
'You argue my side for me, Carlos. Why do things as the mondani do, when you possess such gifts as to make their way obsolete? You could have found me within weeks, if even that.'
'And you would not be speaking to me with such goodwill if I had.' He frowns. 'There is more to life than just the end point. What use reaching the destination, if you learn nothing from the journey itself?'
'What use taking the time to enjoy the journey if the destination no longer exists by the time one reaches it? Surely you are not arguing that the end result is less important than the path taken?'
'I am saying that the two are intertwined. God designs the paths as He desires them to be; He does not make short-cuts. Joining the priesthood does not necessarily mean that one does not still have many things to learn.' His eyes narrow. 'You would do well to remember this.'
Enrique arches one eyebrow. Carlos has baited him in such a fashion on countless previous occasions; the two of them know better than anyone the best ways to frustrate one another. He should know by now to ignore Carlos when he's like this – and when is he not? – but hot rage spikes through his chest, and the best he can manage is outward calm.
'Are you suggesting that my years spent studying – my lifetime devoted to self-betterment and the betterment of others – are less educational than your jaunts across the countryside? My dear Carlos, I do believe you are making even less sense than usual.'
'If I felt you actually believed in what you were doing, then you would at least have a valid argument to make. I know you, Enrique. I know that you do not follow the Church's doctrine blindly. Rather, you question everything, allowing room for interpretation and change. I cannot help but believe that you're fashioning your priesthood as a device, to be used for ends God would not condone.'
Carlos leans forward earnestly, a spark in his eyes, and it could be ten years ago. 'I have heard you speak. You know as well as I that you are a gifted orator, able to make layman and noble alike tremble in fear or anger. You could say that the sky is falling, and people would run home to hide beneath their tables. Why use such a gift in the service of those who would see us destroyed?'
Somehow, he keeps his words mild. 'You don't know that.'
'I do not need to be able to hear others' thoughts to know that were we to be discovered, we would not survive the week.'
'Carlos, my friend, they would never be able to hold us.'
The corner of his mouth twitches in repressed laughter. 'That is true. But it's not the point.'
'But it is enough, for the moment.' He stretches and stands up; Carlos eyes him quizzically, but follows suit.
'It is long past time for supper.' He raises his eyes Heavenwards, letting out a long-suffering sigh. 'You may continue to harass me while we eat, if you so wish.'
Carlos smiles. 'There is nothing I would prefer more.'
Enrique leans against the desk. 'If there is nothing else I can say for your visits – and I cannot – it is that your company is anything but dull. Infuriating, perhaps, and certainly not educational or enlightening in the slightest, but never dull.'
'High praise, indeed.'
Enrique hides the helmet back in the dusty recesses beneath his desk, and the two of them leave together.