The Adversary stared at the Messiah, frowning. The Messiah stared right back, also frowning.
"You're not what I was expecting," Adam said, at last, feeling that a Messiah ought to be wearing a white bathrobe, or have a halo, or somehow demonstrate his difference from ordinary humans (perhaps funny-colored eyes?). A Messiah most assuredly should not have looked like any other teenaged boy.
"Funny, I could say the same about you," the Messiah said, and grinned. He stuck out his hand. "The name's Setsuna."
"Adam." He took the proffered hand and shook it. "Nice to meet you."
"Yeah, nice to meet you, too, I guess." Setsuna looked thoughtful. "...Wanna go get a burger?"
"Will it have fish in it?" Adam asked, suspiciously. He'd heard things about Japanese cuisine.
Setsuna chuckled. "No, no fish."
"Well, that's all right, then," Adam decided.
"Great. Hold on a minute, willya? I'll be right back." Setsuna headed over to the two girls and the guy with the really neat tattoo, who had been watching them from a distance. The guy was giving Adam some funny looks, but the girls waved Setsuna off after he spoke to them. The guy just looked more puzzled than before.
Setsuna jogged back over. "All right, just wanted to let my girlfriend know I was going," he said. "Let's go."
"You mean you never noticed that Mad Hatter was in Japan, too?" Aziraphale demanded. "Or Michael? Or Raphael? Or Lucifer?"
"Oh, come off it," Crowley grumbled, trudging along after the angel. "I was hiding, remember?" He gestured at his host's body. "Jirou's pretty oblivious, okay?" He stopped short. "Wait a minute. Lucifer? I thought he'd disappeared."
Aziraphale stopped too, and grumbled something under his breath. "Honestly, do you even try to keep up with current events?"
"Hiding," Crowley reminded him. "A person can miss an awful lot of gossip that way." They began walking again. "So... Lucifer?"
"Emerged about the same time as the Messiah," Aziraphale said, briefly.
"And who's the Messiah?" Crowley prompted, when irritation seemed to have gotten the better of Aziraphale.
"The reincarnation of Alexiel," Aziraphale said. "You really are out of the loop these days."
"It happens when you get into the napping thing," Crowley admitted. "So... how did you manage to lose the Antichrist?"
"He's gotten adventurous," Aziraphale explained, with a sigh. "I try to keep an eye on what he's doing, but..." He shrugged. "He's getting good. And without someone to help..."
"Look, you deal with Hastur for me, and I'll come back," Crowley said. "That's easy enough, right?"
"So easy that you'd rather hide in a teenager than do it yourself?" Aziraphale inquired. "Never mind, we're here."
"Fudoumine?" Crowley asked. "Why here?"
Aziraphale shrugged. "Michael will know where to find the Messiah."
Crowley paled. "Michael? ...Aziraphale, he kills demons, you know."
Aziraphale smiled. "Then it's just as well that you've had so much practice pretending to be human, isn't it?"
It was, Michael decided, shaping up to be a really weird afternoon. First Setsuna and that kid--who looked familiar, even if he couldn't quite place the face--and now this.
"Lord Michael." Aziraphale was bowing, and the demon lurking behind him pretending to be one of Hyoutei's elitist bastards was trying to bow and be inconspicuous all at the same time. It was pretty funny, actually.
"Yeah?" Michael had to admit, he was damn curious about what was going on. Last he'd heard, this guy'd helped stop Armageddon, which wouldn't normally qualify him for an entry in Michael's good book (He'd had his sword all sharp and ready to go, and they called the whole thing off? Bastards.), but it did qualify him for entry under the "Interesting People Whose Asses I Might Need To Kick" heading. "Whaddya want?"
"I was hoping you could tell me where I might find the Messiah," Aziraphale said, speaking in an undertone after a quick look over at Ann, who was watching the proceedings with avid curiosity.
"Who, Setsuna? He left here a while ago with some kid," Michael said.
The demon's head came up. "Oh, fuck," he said, obviously forgetting that he was pretending to be inconspicuous. Michael gave him a look, and the demon gulped. "Um. Hello?" he said, with a little wave. "You're looking well, Michael-sama."
"So much for that," Aziraphale muttered. "The, uh, child the Messiah was with--"
"Who is he?" Michael asked, but if this was Aziraphale and his pet demon, then there was really only one answer. "No way. No fucking way."
"He is," Crowley sighed.
Michael growled. "That bastard Setsuna never said a word."
"So," Setsuna said, halfway through his hamburger. "What brings you to Tokyo?"
"Godzilla," Adam said promptly.
"...okay." Setsuna waited.
"Well, mostly Godzilla," Adam said, thoughtful. "It was a really neat movie."
"It's not bad," Setsuna allowed, and waited some more.
"I thought I'd come over and see if I could find Godzilla for myself."
Setsuna raised an eyebrow. "Uh-huh."
"Well, it could happen," Adam said, his tone indicating that he'd seen stranger things happen before.
"I suppose it could," Setsuna conceded. "This is Tokyo."
"Exactly." Adam grinned. "And then, since I was over here anyway, I thought we should meet."
"And here we are," Setsuna finished, and waited.
Adam held out for most of the rest of another hamburger before caving. "Actually," he said, fidgeting with the wrapper, "I was wondering..."
"Yes?" Setsuna asked.
"Um." Adam looked distinctly embarrassed. "D'you, uh, know much about... girls?"
Setsuna grinned and sat back. "Well," he said, "I might know something."
"Well, they don't seem to be fighting," Crowley reported, ducking back into the alley where Aziraphale was waiting. "If anything, they're bonding."
"Bonding," Aziraphale repeated.
Crowley shrugged. "I call them like I see them."
Aziraphale snorted, and shook his head. "The Messiah and the Adversary, bonding over hamburgers. Perhaps this isn't going to be a complete disaster after all--"
And then Lucifer showed up.
"So I shouldn't be trying to impress her." Adam said.
"Nope." Setsuna shrugged. "I find that it usually doesn't work, and ends up making you look stupid, too."
"And I should be myself."
"Yup," Setsuna nodded.
"But still be nice and pay attention to her," Adam finished, wondering how he was supposed to be himself and be nice, both.
"Sounds like you've got the idea," Setsuna said.
Adam mulled it over. "Well, I can give it a shot," he said, still harboring some doubts, although not trying to impress Pepper--who could do a better "I've seen it all, and it all bores me" than anyone he'd ever seen--sounded like it would make his life infinitely easier. "Thanks."
"No problem--oh, crap." Setsuna dropped the french fry he'd been about to bite into. "What's he doing here?"
Adam sat up as the sense of that presence washed over him. "Oh, God," he said.
Setsuna's grin was crooked. "Not exactly," he said, "and I wouldn't make that comparison to his face, if I were you." He slid out of the booth. "C'mon, let's go see what he wants."
Aziraphale was doing his best to merge with the wall at his back, since an out-and-out retreat would have involved stepping past Lucifer, and he wasn't crazy.
Beside him, Crowley exhaled softly. "It's true. He really is back."
"You didn't believe me?" Aziraphale snapped, all-too-conscious that the odds were not the least bit in his favor, and wishing Michael had decided to come along after all.
"And what have we here?" Lucifer asked, sweeping an amused gaze over them.
"My lord." Crowley bowed, deeply. It had been a good run, at least, Aziraphale decided.
"Crowley." Lucifer inclined his head slightly. "I trust there's a reason for you to be possessing that human?"
"Professional friction between Hastur and me, my lord," Crowley said, and there was nothing but respect in his tone. Even if he hadn't fallen so much as sauntered downwards, this was an alarming development.
"Well, looks like quite a meeting to be having out here by the dumpsters," someone said cheerfully. "Didn't expect to see you again so soon, Lucifer."
Lucifer shrugged. "I merely thought that it was high time I met my son," he said, mildly.
Jirou was having the most fascinating day he'd had since, well, ever, and he hadn't even played any tennis yet. He'd had no idea Crowley-san knew such interesting people, and that he'd get to meet them (albeit only as a spectator).
"Your son?" the new guy said, sounding surprised. He turned to the boy who was lurking behind him. "You never mentioned that."
"You never asked," the other boy retorted. He looked at Lucifer. "So, you're him, huh?"
"I am," Lucifer said. "What's your name, boy?"
"Adam," he said, and Jirou had the oddest feeling that the boy was assessing Lucifer, and not the other way around. "And you're not my father."
Since he was essentially doomed anyway, even with the Messiah standing right there (and the Messiah had helped kill God anyway, so his allegiances were questionable, and Alexiel had a history with Lucifer), Aziraphale spoke up. "What I believe Adam is trying to say," he said, meekly, "is that his father is the one he grew up with, not the one biology assigned him."
"Exactly," Adam said, crossing his arms and sounding satisfied. "That's what I meant, only with smaller words. So I guess you came up here for nothing."
"Hardly," Lucifer said, after barely sparing a glance for Aziraphale. "If I am given to understand the events of Armageddon correctly, you are a formidable young man."
Adam blinked. "What, you didn't know what happened?"
"Of course he didn't," the Messiah said, ruffling Adam's hair. "He was kinda lock--"
"I was indisposed," Lucifer interrupted, firmly.
The Messiah grinned. "Whatever you wanna call it, he wasn't around. My guess is that the old bastard rigged it."
"Possibly," Lucifer agreed. "Beelzebub is more malleable than he thinks."
Adam looked to Aziraphale. "Who are they talking about?"
"God," Aziraphale said.
"Old Ineffable Himself?" Crowley said. "So he does have a hand in all this?"
"Had," Lucifer corrected him, absently. "He's dead now."
"And good riddance, too," the Messiah muttered. Aziraphale winced a little. Definitely no help from that quarter.
"And I missed it?" Crowley sounded outraged.
"What rock have you been hiding under?" the Messiah asked.
"A pretty big one, I'd say," Crowley said, "if I missed a deicide."
"And at no small cost to your responsibilities in hell," Lucifer added, "or have you forgotten that the rank of duke carries duties?"
"Yes, lord. Um. I mean, no. Um--I didn't kill Ligur for his job." Crowley waved his hands. "Mostly I was just trying to survive."
"Indeed, and stopping Armageddon while you were at it, and consorting with an angel." Aziraphale gulped as Lucifer made a complicated gesture, but there was just a soft pop, and then some swearing, as Jirou and Crowley's bodies tried to occupy the same space and failed miserably.
Jirou scrambled to his feet. "That was so awesome!" he enthused, and if Aziraphale hadn't reached out and held the boy back, he might have actually managed to seize Lucifer's hand. "What else can you--"
Aziraphale eased the boy to the ground as he fell asleep mid-sentence (with only a bare hint of Aziraphale's encouragement), and the Messiah laughed at Lucifer's face. "He's excitable, isn't he?" he noted.
"Very," Crowley grunted, climbing to his feet and manifesting a suit. "You should see him when he's playing Atobe." He bowed to Lucifer again. "Thank you, my lord, for the new body," he sighed. "I'll return to Hell immediately to see to my duties."
"Don't," Lucifer said. "You're being reassigned."
"I am?" Crowley looked at him blankly.
"Yes. You will be serving as bodyguard to my--to Adam," Lucifer said. "Do try not to lose him again."
Adam protested. "I don't need a bodyguard!"
"Of course you do," the Messiah said. "You've already got one." He nodded at Aziraphale.
"What, really?" Crowley turned to look at Aziraphale.
"Not officially. Officially, I'm watching him," Aziraphale admitted, shifting under the weight of Lucifer's gaze. "But unofficially... I'm watching over him."
"And I'm certain Crowley will be a great deal of help to you," Lucifer said.
"I don't want bodyguards!"
"Tough," Crowley said, sidling around Lucifer and snapping a pair of sunglasses into existence. He perched them on his nose. "Because there is no way I'm disobeying a direct order from him."
"This isn't fair," Adam grumbled, leveling a glare at them all. He looked at the Messiah. "Do you have a bodyguard?" he demanded.
"Nope, but then, I'm in control of my own powers," the Messiah said cheerfully, "and that tends to deter most would-be assassins."
"Besides, life doesn't tend to be fair, or so I've noticed," Aziraphale murmured, deciding that perhaps he was going to live after all. He placed his hands on his hips. "And do you have any idea how worried I was when you disappeared?"
"Had things to do," Adam mumbled. He waved a hand. "People to see."
"And it never occurred to you that it might be dangerous to traipse across the globe to meet the Messiah, who by definition has every right to try to kill you on sight?" Crowley asked. Adam shook his head, sullenly. "Damn. You don't need bodyguards. You need babysitters."
Aziraphale stared as Lucifer began to chuckle, and even the Messiah looked impressed. "I've chosen well, I think," Lucifer murmured, finally.
"They'll do," the Messiah agreed, and then he checked his watch. "Crap, it's getting late. I've got to get going. Nice meeting you, Adam."
"Yeah, you too," Adam said.
The Messiah looked at Lucifer. "Will we be seeing you at Nationals?" he asked.
"I wouldn't dream of missing it," Lucifer said.
"Thought so," the Messiah said. "Remember what I told you, Adam. See you around." He waved and headed off.
"Should the Messiah be giving advice to the Antichrist?" Crowley asked Aziraphale.
"Are you going to be the one to stop him," Aziraphale asked.
"Then the Messiah can give the Antichrist all the advice he wants," Aziraphale said. "It's up to Adam whether he takes it."
"Gentlemen," Lucifer said, politely. "If I may have a word with Adam?"
Adam glared. "Don't wanna talk to you," he grumbled.
"You don't have a choice," Crowley said, as Aziraphale woke Jirou up and dragged him out of the alley. "We'll just be out there," he said, and followed Aziraphale.
"So... you must be Aziraphale," Jirou said, apparently perfectly at ease with his narcoleptic fit.
"Yes," Aziraphale said.
"So you're an angel like Kantoku?" Jirou pursued.
"I should hope," Aziraphale said, slowly, "that I'm not very much like Sakaki at all."
"Fair enough," Jirou said. He looked back into the alley. "So that's really the devil?"
"And the Antichrist," Crowley said, helpfully.
"He's really cool," Jirou said, eyes shining.
"A lot of people think so," Aziraphale grumbled.
"A lot of people are right," Crowley said sharply.
"Hmph." Aziraphale shut up.
Adam crossed his arms and sulked against an alley wall. "Well?"
At least, Lucifer decided, he could be grateful that he'd had experience dealing with prickly teenagers. "Why not destroy the world?" he asked.
"Because I like it," Adam said, with an eye roll for emphasis.
"And why not rule it for yourself?"
Adam frowned. "Too much work, for one thing." He shrugged. "Sure, I could rule it myself and fix everything, but then people would be coming to me all the time and asking me to fix stuff for them. It's better that they learn to fix things themselves."
Lucifer nodded. "Very good," he said.
Adam rolled his eyes. "My turn for a question," he said. "Are you really my father?"
"That's what they tell me," Lucifer said, frowning. "I wasn't exactly consulted beforehand."
Adam's eyebrows went up. "Then how...?" He flushed.
"Demon magic and a laboratory, I believe." Lucifer looked him in the eye. "It was a shock to return home to find I'd been gifted a son in my absence."
Adam frowned. "Then who was it who nearly showed up back then?"
"One of the higher-ranking demon lords," Lucifer said. He examined his nails. "He has since been relieved of his duties."
"Good," Adam said. He made a face. "You aren't really going to make me put up with them, are you?" he said, jerking his head in Crowley and Aziraphale's direction.
"So... I guess this means you're leaving, huh?" Jirou asked, when it seemed like neither Crowley-san nor Aziraphale-san was going to speak.
"Yeah. Duty calls, and all that." Crowley-san waved a hand. "Kid belongs in England."
"That means you'll miss Nationals, though!" Jirou protested, horrified.
"Uh... yeah, I guess I will," Crowley-san said, looking uncomfortable. "Hyoutei's sure to win, though," he added.
"But don't the other schools have angels? Or demons?" Jirou asked.
Crowley-san blinked. "Oh, no," he said, firmly. "No chance. Your coach does not want my help, trust me... though he might not turn down Aziraphale."
"Absolutely not," Aziraphale-san said, and sniffed. "I can't work with him."
Jirou didn't really see a problem, but since one apparently existed, he went back to a less touchy subject. "You really think we'll be okay on our own?"
Crowley-san grinned. "You'll be fine. There's more to Hyoutei than meets the eye. Promise."
"I still wish you were going to be there for Nationals," Jirou said, a trifle wistfully.
Crowley-san coughed. "Well, um. Oh, looks like they're done," he said, quickly, as Adam-kun slouched out of the alley, followed by the devil.
"Gracefully done," Aziraphale-san murmured.
"Oh, shut up."
"Gentlemen," the devil said, "I believe I'll leave things in your--" and Jirou wasn't sure, but he thought he heard an infinitesimal pause there "--capable hands."
"Yes, lord," Crowley said, and bowed.
"Still don't think this is fair," Adam-kun muttered.
"Duly noted," the devil said, sounding the faintest bit exasperated, and vanished.
"Cooooooooool," Jirou sighed.
The boy spent the entire trip back to Hyoutei expounding upon the wonders of tennis to the Adversary, and if Aziraphale wasn't mistaken, there were a lot of tennis courts pending in his near future--assuming, of course, that Adam didn't just bounce on to a new interest once they were safely home again. Judging from the way Adam was hanging onto every word Jirou had to say (currently, something about a player who could make the tennis ball roll along the net, which surely wasn't possible, right?) though, it looked like tennis could hold his attention for at least a week.
At least tennis was wholesome.
"Looks like we're even returning him before the end of practice," Crowley said, with some satisfaction, as they strolled into sight of Hyoutei's tennis courts. "So, is it as much fun for you as it is for me to see Sakaki this baffled?"
"Well..." Aziraphale paused, "one does wonder how he managed to last so long without being demoted."
Crowley snickered, and waved to Hyoutei's coach. "See, here he is, safe and sound! World didn't need saving after all!"
"For a change," Aziraphale added, under his breath. "Adam! Time to go."
Adam-kun made a face at Aziraphale-san. "This completely sucks," he complained to Jirou.
"It does," Jirou sympathized. "You really have to talk them into letting you come back for Nationals. I mean, if the devil is going to show up, you should too, right?"
Adam-kun considered it. "Practically a family obligation, when you look at it that way," he said. He grinned.
He rolled his eyes. "I'll see what I can do," he said, with a grin. "Nice meeting you, Jirou."
"You too. See you around." Jirou waved him off, and turned to find his teammates eyeing him curiously. "So, did I miss anything while I was gone?"