Tages stepped back from the bulletin board, proudly looking at the print outs of his latest bird flock - all two minutes of it. 60 photos. He then let his eyes gloss over the images, letting his mind plot out the roughest patterns and their meanings in the birds’ flight path.
He then swore swore very, very loudly.
There was a wolf sitting in Lovino’s study. An honest to God wolf, with brown and white fur, an actual tail, and piercing grey eyes that were probably staring into Lovino’s soul.
What he wanted to do was scream for Vash to come in and shoot the thing, or at least be able to let someone know there was a fucking wolf in the Vatican.
What he did instead was slam the door behind him, stare for another moment, and then turn to the wolf, asking, “What the fuck are you doing here?!”
He couldn’t say he was expecting an answer.
“Volume, pup,” the wolf said to him. The wolf was speaking in Latin. It was a wolf and it was in his office and it was speaking in Latin.
“How did you even get in--” Lovino splutted, “What are you--- who--- the fuck?”
The wolf gave him a very, very pained look. “Sit and I will explain.”
He didn’t move. The wolf followed it’s own command and sat down on it’s haunches, looking up at Lovino with what Lovino imagined was an annoyed expression. “I come on official business from an association who has long called this society an ally.”
“Oh, great,” Lovino said flatly, “Apparently we’re friends with all of nature. What’s wrong, you here to tell me some obscure ass forest is about to be destroyed?”
“The monsters of Greek and Roman mythology are returning home to roost, which is to say returning to Europe in great number,” the wolf said. “Lupa, Camp Jupiter. Now, sit down and pay attention, boy.”
“....” Lovino replied, walking over to sink down in his office chair. The deep red leather had long been molded to his form, and he had a feeling he was going to need all the comfort he could get.
“Thank you,” Lupa said, walking over to sit next to the chair. Lovino swiveled towards her and looked down, his face scowling.
“I thought all this shit got handled through Heracles, and even then it was rare since you people take care of your own shit and mostly coordinate with the North American branch.”
“Yes and no,” Lupa replied, her tail curling around her haunches. “Hearcles would be your Camp Half Blood contact. I represent the opposite side of the same coin. Moreover, this seemed too heavy a matter to defer to an underling.”
Lovino rolled his eyes. “What’s the difference between them and you?”
“Half Blood is the Greek gods. I represent the Roman pantheon.” Lupa gave a similar eyeroll. “And yes, the distinction is important.”
“That part I can believe,” Lovino replied. He knew enough of the Roman Empire’s religious mindset before Christianity and he was half tempted to say so, until he reminded himself that wolves posses very sharp teeth. “Now tell me why you’re bucking the system and coming to me rather than to the Americans.”
“You really don’t listen, do you, pup?”
“Assume I was shitting myself from there being a fucking wolf in my office.”
“Who would appreciate some respect, not only as an elder, but as a founding member of this society.”
Lovino laughed. “Okay, now I know I’m dreaming. What’s next, you’re gonna say you’re the wolf who found Romulus and Rem--”
The stare, which most likely would have been translated as ‘bitch, please,’ Lovino recieved finally shut him up. Lupa gave a smile full of teeth, then continued.
“To answer your questions then. I came here and not to your North American headquarters because the situation, which I’ve told you in brief, requires your attention as head of this entire organization. Moreover, I chose not to use proxies - either Heracles or Hunter Brown - because it was the respectful thing to do when delivering such news.”
“Daughter of Baachus,” Lupa said, which made a frightening amount of sense to Lovino. “As to the news I came here to deliver, please pay attention this time. There's been a migration of Roman creatures back to the cities of Italy and the Greek creatures back to their place of origin - they've almost abandoned America entirely and our trainees cannot be expected to travel to Europe due to young age.” She paused. “And the fact you would have millions of euros worth of damage to priceless monuments, which I don’t think you wish to deal with.”
“Not at all,” Lovino said faintly. “Why here though? There’s no way America’s waning that fast, and if they were to move, then China seems the most obvious up and coming powerhouse.”
“Two reasons,” Lupa replied. “One - the gods are fickle. Two - I don’t know, otherwise I would have told you the reasons.”
“You could’ve sent that via mail,” Lovino snapped. “Instead of giving me a heart attack!”
“Let me finish!” Lupa snapped back, growl rising at the back of her throat. “There are means of forecasting how fast this return will happen, which gives you time to prepare and train your hunters accordingly. These things always have a pattern.”
“Yeah with what?” Lovino said, laying on the sarcasm. “Sybline books? Oracles? You want me to go and dig up some of our witchcraft trial records and try out their methods?”
“All you need to do is visit California with me, bird watch with a mad man for a few hours and then wait for him to do an analysis,” the wolf said, as if this was all perfectly normal. “Or you can wait and be blind sided by creatures your organization hasn’t had to deal with since Queen Victoria ruled England.”
“And why me?”
“Because you lead this organization. Because you’re curious. Because it’s in your blood,” Lupa sighed, exasperated.
“Nn,” Lovino muttered. “That blood’s been thinning.”
For a moment, Lupa almost opened her mouth to offer commentary on the disadvantages of the priesthood, but then closed it.
“Where in California?” Lovino asked. “And when?”
“San Fransisco, and ideally tomorrow.”
“And a wolf gets an air plane how?”
“A wolf travels by other means.”
Lovino rubbed at the bridge of his nose. He was insane for considering this. A talking wolf who claimed to help found the Hunters was in his office trying to convince him to go to San Fransico, California, in order to perform pagan rites and divine the future. The number of protocols that probably broke would get him tried for witchcraft. “Is there honestly no other way? Nobody else we can send? I'm sure Ida or Heracles or somebody will be happy to go to the States.”
“It is sensitive subject matter,” Lupa said. “Do you trust them? Moreover,” and this was said with a maternal tone, the one that Lovino’s mother tended to use when she had wanted Lovino or Feliciano to do something that was the right, but hard, thing, “This is your responsibility as the head of this organization, and to hand it off to others shrinks that responsibility.”
“Fine, I'll go!” Lovino groaned, throwing his hands up in the air. “Vash is going to have a heart attack.”
“He’ll appreciate the reprieve, I’m sure.” Lupa let her tail wag very slightly. “Be ready to go at sunrise.”
“Uh-huh,” Lovino muttered, his eyes glazing over, not noticing the wolf leaving the room.
The sound of gun shots snapped him back into reality.
Ah yes, Lovino thought to himself, Vash would be very, very confused as to a wolf walking out of his office.
Lovino stood up slowly and walked over to the door, opening it. He wasn’t surprised to see Vash with guns drawn, staring down the wolf and demanding to know why he shouldn’t shoot. He also wasn’t surprised, from what he was able to process about Lupa, that her response had somehow managed too include, “...here acting in an official capacity and to do so would not only violate hospitality but bring my own organization down on your head. Three, your Vargas gentleman would not be capable of completing the trip...”
Vash didn’t lower the guns. “The Cardinal is accompanying you... where, exactly?”
“California,” Lovino and Lupa said in unison. It was only at hearing the cardinal’s voice that Vash lowered his weapon, and even then he did so with great hesitation.
“No,” Vash said simply. “He doesn’t leave here, ever.”
“Well yes, that’s the point,” the wolf replied, not bothering to stand down.
“He's got much too much work to do - the trip to this California will take weeks!” Vash protested.
“Yeah, talk about me like I’m not here,” Lovino interupted, looking disapprovingly at Vash. “Zwingli. Trust the magic, talking, pagan wolf.”
“....” Vash said.
“Well,” Lupa said, turning to Lovino. “Let’s get you packed.”