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You Could Be What I Need

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When Sister Imperator appointed you as her new assistant you nearly guffawed in the middle of her office before laying eyes on her stone face. She raised an eyebrow at your disbelieving expression, leaning forward slightly to rest her folded hands on her desk, “Do you believe I’m pulling one over on you, sister?”
You swallowed, throat suddenly dry at her gaze before shaking your head, “no sister, but I...I must admit I'm confused as to why you’ve chosen me out of all my fellow siblings.”
Sister Imperator smiled softly at you then, sensing your self doubt from a mile away, “you’re a lot more capable than you realize, dear one. You’ve helped the clergy many a time since arriving here and have kept things organized around these parts better than anyone else when called upon to do so. Do you not believe yourself able?”
You twisted your habit between your fingers, “no, Sister, but I’ve only been a member of the church for just over two years now. I would have assumed more time and experience would have been required for such a position. I'm only 23 after all.” Surely there were other more capable siblings who could handle this, right?

It was Sister Imperator’s turn to scoff, “pish posh, you’re acting as though we’ve made you the new pope,” she waved her hand off in dismissal, “when you’re ready you’re ready, Lucifer knows. You’re an obedient and kind member of the church, to your fellow siblings of sin, to your elders, and most importantly to our current Papa. We’ve taken note and believe you can handle this new task of being my right hand so to speak.”
Something in you swelled with pride at her words as you nodded in acceptance. You paused momentarily, mulling over everything Sister Imperator had just delivered, “we, Sister?”
“Papa Nihil and I came to a mutual decision on this. We both like to keep a close eye on the Siblings of Sin and Papa especially believes you will be good at taking care of things around here when Cardinal Copia replaces the Third in a few months.”
You felt the color drain from your face, no doubt as white as the veil on your head. While the Third was an overall nice man, he had a temper and could be very stubborn; you weren’t necessarily excited at being somewhat of a babysitter to the man after he was demoted. The thought was enough to send a tremor up your spine. Sister Imperator took notice of the cogs turning away in your skull.
“My child, I would not be giving you this job if you truly were not ready to handle it. We might praise Satan but we aren’t evil.” She gave a small smirk and then stood up, “Right, well I think that should do it for today. Please return to my office tomorrow morning after breakfast and we will start your training. I will also have your new uniform prepared.”
“New uniform?”
SIster Imperator nodded, “oh yes. From now on you’ll be wearing pants to work.”
-
After scuttling back to the abbey the rest of the evening went by quickly, though you couldn’t shake the nervous haze that hung in the air around you. While you were probably making a big deal out of nothing, being Imperator’s new, and frankly only, assistant wasn’t something to stick your nose up at. You wanted to take this seriously. You knew the Emeritus brothers had their own quirks, the Third certainly being no exception, and though you’d only briefly interacted with the current leader since joining the church the man was intimidating in his own right. He was eccentric and it worried you but that was a thought for a later date; right now your only job was to take on what Sister Imperator gave you. She wouldn’t throw you to the belly of the beast just yet and for that you were thankful.
Your self made reassurance didn’t help much in the way of sleeping easier that night.

-
Staring at your reflection in the floor length mirror you stifled a laugh; you looked like the spitting image of Sister Imperator, albeit with darker and longer hair, bangs threatening to cover your eyes if they got much longer. You made a mental note to trim them later before pulling the rest of your hair up in a ponytail. You couldn’t help but notice how nicely the black suit hugged your curves, much better than that awful habit ever could, though you acknowledged that was the point of the plain garment no matter how odd it might be for a Satanic church to require them. After all it's not like sex was frowned upon.
Fixing your grucifix over your head a knock on the door pulled your attention away from your reflection and you straightened your blazer before answering. Sister Imperator gave you a once over with an approving nod, “very professional. How do you feel?”
You shrugged, “Nervous...but also comfortable. I will admit, Sister, I do not miss the veil at all.” You laughed softly and smoothed a hand over the top of your head. Your senior hummed in agreement.
“Yes those things can get quite annoying. I’m sure your fellow sisters will be quite jealous. Anyway come along, bring your phone, your pager, and your planner with you.”
Sister Imperator beckoned you from the dorm you had been changing in and you followed suit down the long hallway towards the door of the abbey.
“First I’ll be showing you your new room.”
You nearly tripped over the stone floor, “new room, sister?”
She nodded and continued, “yes. Originally we were going to let you stay in your dorm with your fellow sisters but Papa Nihil and I decided that having you closer to my office as well as the Cardinal would be a better option.”
Maybe you really underestimated this new promotion you were given. You figured it would be more of a receptionist type gig. Guess you were wrong.

“Thank you, Sister.” You replied and she hummed as you finally exited the abbey and made way for the main church.
“Don’t thank me just yet. Things are about to get very busy around here. The Cardinal will be arriving in a few days and it is our job to get him settled in and to take care of all the formalities and such. Fortunately he won’t be taking over for a while so tensions shouldn’t be too high. Satan knows how horrible it was when Third took over for his brother.”
Ah yes, Papa Emeritus II. You’d never met the man but your fellow sisters had told you stories of how scary he could be. He also didn’t take too kindly to being replaced as leader of the band and carried an ominous energy around with him during his time as the church’s leader. He had since been transferred to another parish.

Once you and Sister Imperator had made your way to the end of another long hallway inside the church itself you went for the stairs before a hand on your shoulder steered you away.
“We get to take the elevator.” Sister Imperator winked at you and pressed a button for the third floor. You’d never get over just how massive the church really was as you stood inside with her.
“You are allowed to take the elevator to complete your tasks. It’s a lot quicker than running up and down four flights of stairs, no?”
“Yes, Sister, thank you very much.” So this position had some perks after all.

You couldn’t recall ever being on third or fourth floor of the church. You’d assumed it was off limits and had no reason to ever visit the area. Everything you had ever needed access to was in the abbey or on the main floor of the church, if it could even be called such at this point; it almost seemed to be getting bigger the longer you and Sister Imperator walked around.
Said woman turned to you as you walked down the hall, a look of awe plastered across your face. “Are you surprised?”
Looking at her you nodded, “Yes, Sister, the church is much larger than I had originally thought. I guess being mainly in the dorms and main chapel obscured my perception.”
“Yes it’s quite massive, and that’s not including the crypt. I don’t recommend going down by yourself, there are quite a few twists and turns. Though Papa Nihil spends most of his time in his office down there so you’d never be truly lost.” Sister Imperator mused and you raised your eyebrow at the man having an office in the basement of the church before she stopped in front of a door.
“Here we are, your new room.” She unlocked the door and ushered you in, flicking on the lightswitch in the process.

It was much larger than the dorm you shared with your fellow sisters, adorned with black features and a deep green carpet. Electric sconces were placed on each wall, a candelabra next to a small desk on one side. In the center was a coffee table with chairs and on the other side was a large bed and a dresser near one of the windows; a second window was at the other end of the room. And tucked in beside that was an armoire with a tv.
To the right was a closet and a private bathroom. You nearly cried.
“Oh Sister, I think this might be too much, I’m only an assistant afterall.” You stood in the middle of the room and she joined you, placing her hands on your shoulders.
“You are not just an assistant, you are now a part of the backbone of this church. Things around here are about to get much harder and you will be apart of the reason everything stays afloat. Papa Nihil and I as well as the Lord below are giving you a lot of responsibility. You will not let us down.” Her gaze peered through your very soul and you all but gulped before she relaxed and pulled away.
“Now I know you didn’t have too many personal items or clothes with you but they were moved here this morning by one of your siblings. Everything should be in order.”
You nodded, “Thank you, Sister.”
She offered you the key and you took it, tucking it into the pocket of your blazer before she clapped her hands together. “Now. We need to get you acquainted with Papa III. Have you interacted with him much?”
“No not really,” you shook your head, “Mainly during services and church meetings. I doubt he even knows my name.” You muttered, a slight smirk threatening to break on your lips. Sister Imperator turned towards the door with you following hot on her heels. “Well you’re certainly going to be familiar with him from here on out. I must warn you, he can be very rude when he’s hungover.”
You let out a deep breath you didn’t realize you were holding in, “Wonderful.”

 

The Emeritus men had all been situated on the fourth floor, though at the moment it was only the Third, Nihil, and soon to be Cardinal Copia. You’d learned that you shared a floor with Sister Imperator as well as the nameless ghouls.
“They can be noisy but as you know they’re all very friendly, for the most part." The matriarch sighed as you approached what must have been the singer’s door. It was large and ornately carved in dark wood, a gold knocker in the center at eye level. It looked more like the main entrance to a lavish house than to a bedroom, but that was the Third for you. Sister Imperator knocked a few times and called out but received no answer, a loud slam like a table being thrown over reverberated through the door. The two of you glanced at each other and she knocked again, “Terzo,” she rumbled, “I am here with our new assistant. There is much to be discussed, do not keep us waiting.”

Minutes went by and Imperator was growing impatient, clearly tired of Papa’s delay as she placed her hands on her hips. “Papa we’re coming in, I hope you’re decent.”
Surprisingly the door was unlocked, more surprisingly was the view of the Third’s buck naked ass positively driving into one of your fellow sisters from across the room as the two of you stepped in.
“Sweet merciful Lord.” You covered your eyes with your planner, moving to turn around and exit the room but Sister Imperator stopped you with a grip on your arm. Loud moans and cries that you were surprised you couldn’t hear from outside permeated the room, skin slapping on skin making you wince in embarrassment as Papa didn’t stop. Imperator was unimpressed, a stern unwavering expression on her face as she watched the pair before you. On the bed your fellow sister looked slightly embarrassed but was clearly too blissed out to properly care. Papa’s thrusts stuttered as he turned around as best he could to glare at the two of you, muttering a litany of curses in Italian.
“We’ll give you ten minutes, Terzo, try to finish up quickly,” Imperator boomed over the noise, ushering you towards the door which you all but bolted for. It was slammed closed behind you and you flattened yourself against the adjacent wall. You felt your face burn while your mentor stood across from you looking positively tired of Papa’s shit.
“That happens sometimes,” she muttered.
“Thanks for the heads up, Sister.” You rubbed your hands down the front of you blazer, flattening out the nonexistent wrinkles.

The hallway was deathly silent when the door finally opened and your fellow sister scampered out, eyes on the floor and her veil in her hands. Imperator didn’t bat an eyelash, motioning for you to follow her into the room once again.

Papa was in the attached bathroom, the faucet running with a loud hiss of water. You took a moment to appreciate the man's bedroom; it was adorned much like yours but much bigger, deep purple and gold fabrics decorated the four poster canopy bed, the plush carpet black with gold trimmings. Gold sconces glowed on every wall, black out curtains absorbing most of the natural light. The water turning off drew your attention away from the tapestries and suddenly the smell of sex hung heavier in the air. Papa walked out in a black and purple robe, running a hand through his hair before looking from Sister Imperator to you.
“Ladies.”
“Papa.” Imperator offered a slight if not clipped nod.
The Third walked closer, his lithe form seemingly drifting over the carpet. “And who might this be?” he looked at you and you tried your best to keep a neutral expression but it was hard when rivulets of water rolled down his exposed chest.
“This is Sister [y/n], she is my new assistant.”
“Papa.” You nodded. He eyed you, an indecipherable look on his face.
“She will be here when you need her, but do not abuse that access, she will be busy with the Cardinal once he arrives.”
Papa visibly bristled, opting to move towards a small bar on the side of the room. He poured himself some red wine before apologizing. “I was not expecting anyone this afternoon.”
Imperator huffed, “Regardless you have duties to attend to, Papa, you must be prepared at all times.”
He sloshed the liquid around in his glass before replying, “Is a man not allowed to enjoy the company of a woman every once in a while?” he was staring at you when he said it and you raised a brow as if to challenge him.
“Yes but we don’t want this to be a regular occurrence for Sister [y/n] here. I may be used to your shenanigans but she is not.”
“She’s always free to join in.”
“Papa!” Imperator walked closer, seemingly berating the man but all you could hear was the blood pounding in your ears as you willed the blush to stay off your face, brow remaining raised as the Third continued to stare at you with a smirk.
“Oh come now, cara mia, I was joking!” he finally looked from you to Sister Imperator, a smile on his mouth before she reminded him of the meetings he had to attend that week. The smile soon left much to your amusement.

 

III was a lot... friendlier than you expected. Sure he was a ham on stage but in private he was quite amusing as well; a personable man you would admit.
The three of you went over his itinerary for the upcoming weeks and you scribbled down the dates and times and any other notes you saw fit in your planner. Many a time did the man’s eyes drift to you but you never responded, opting to focus on Sister Imperator instead. She once again reminded him that you weren’t his personal slave and had other work to be done but would see to it he attended his meetings, even if it meant dragging him out by his ear. You visibly paled at that, knowing full well you didn't have the guts at this moment in time. Maybe in a few months.

 

When all was said and done you found yourself back inside Imperator’s office, learning of the many forms of paperwork you were expected to take care of as well as how she kept said office organized.
“Currently I take care of the band’s duties and funds and so on, so you don’t have to worry about all that.”
You exhaled in relief.
“Though one day you’ll most likely take over that department. For now your main concerns will be keeping things moving and attending to Cardinal Copia. He will be arriving earlier than expected.”
You stopped writing in your planner, “How much earlier, sister?”
Imperator rubbed at her temples, “Tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

Cardinal Copia was shorter than you thought he’d be, red cassock nearly dragging on the ground behind him as he walked alongside Sister Imperator with you tagging along behind them. You studied his profile each time he turned his head to speak to Imperator, taking in the details of his hair, his nose, his jaw, the faint dusting of freckles across his cheeks. Cardinal Copia was handsome in his own right, sporting a pair of panda eyes and a thin pencil mustache. He had the same bright white eye as the Emeritus brothers and while you were highly doubtful it was a coincidence such thoughts would have to stay buried deep in your mind. The three of you found your way to Sister Imperator's office before she had you show the Cardinal up to his room.

He was an awkward fellow, barely saying a word during the ride in the elevator. Out of the corner of your eye you could see the wrinkles in his forehead creasing with thought.

"I don't bite, Cardinal." You offered and the man stiffened before relaxing.
"Yes..I would hope not. My apologies for being so quiet. I will admit I'm quite nervous."
You offered a knowing smile as the elevator dinged and the doors opened, "it's alright, I was nervous as well when I first arrived at the church. Hell, sometimes I still get nervous."
The Cardinal didn't say anything but there was a newly appreciative aura around him as you guided him to his room.

"This is it," you said as you unlocked the door and lead him inside.
It was very similar to the Third's although not quite as flashy. Instead of purple everything was a deep burgundy with accents of gold and bright red. The poster bed didn't have a canopy but was accompanied by many pillows. You offered the man the key. "I hope you find the room to your liking."
The Cardinal nodded and offered a nervous smile, "have you any word on my rats?"

Ah yes, Sister Imperator had mentioned something about Copia having pet rats. Apparently they were on route to the church.

"Yes they should be arriving tomorrow, Cardinal, we will have them brought to your room immediately."
So he was slightly awkward and liked rats. You'd dealt with worse.
"Thank you, sister." He paused to look around the room, moving farther in; you remained near the door.
"Dinner is usually served at 6 but someone will be sure to bring yours to your room tonight. Sister Imperator figured it best to keep you away from the Siblings of Sin until tomorrow after your introduction ceremony from the Papas." You ran a line through that bullet point in your planner. When you looked up the Cardinal was staring at you, blushing softly when you locked eyes.
"T-thank you, sister. That’s quite merciful of her."
"It's no problem." You offered another smile. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"
He shook his head and wrung his hands, leather gloves creaking quietly.
"Well if you think of anything you have my pager. My room is on the third floor, please don't hesitate to find me. Though I will most likely be at Sister Imperator's side or with the Third."
The Cardinal nodded before opening his mouth and closing it. You turned your head slightly in question.
"Where is the Third's room if I may ask?"
"Just down the hall from yours, Cardinal. Although I don't recommend interrupting him too often. He's quite the busy man." You smirked, shaking your head before the Cardinal took notice. "His office is in the main chapel near yours which should be ready by tomorrow."
Copia nodded once more before embarrassment took over his features, "thank you, sister...um..." He'd forgotten your name already.
"[y/n]," you offered.
"Sister [y/n]."

-
Sister Imperator was pleased with your natural ability and friendliness towards the Cardinal and while she wasn't there to see your interaction in his room, she had a hunch he'd take a liking to you rather quickly. It seemed that once your initial self doubt had disappeared you were like a completely different person. Confidence looked and felt good on you and you couldn't help but smile triumphantly as you walked up to your room after dinner that night. Checking your phone you waited in the elevator, the heavy metal doors closing before someone had them opening up once more. A nameless ghoul stood before you, clicking the button for floor three and the doors finally closed. He was tall and slightly menacing but made no move to say anything, only nodding at you in acknowledgement when he took his place beside you. You decided to break the silence after taking note of the alchemical symbol on the pocket of his dress shirt.
"You're Aether right? I don't believe we've formally met before." You introduced yourself and offered your hand which he took, silver ring cool against your skin.
"Hello."
You offered a smile and looked up at him, face reflecting back at you in his mask, "it's nice to meet you."
He tipped his head in thanks, "You as well." Aether released your hand and you turned back to the doors which had opened to reveal the third floor. The two of you stepped out and started to walk to your respective rooms when Aether paused, "I hope to see you around."
Brows raised you blushed lightly. "I'm sure you will. We share a floor now. I'm Sister Imperator's new assistant."
The ghoul nodded, smiling though you couldn't see it, "be seeing you." He waved before disappearing into his room.

When you turned around to unlock your door Papa Emeritus was leaning against it and you nearly jumped out of your skin. "Lucifer in Hell." You brought a hand up to your chest. Papa chuckled.
"I didn't mean to scare you, mia amata," he offered.
"It's alright, Papa," you held your planner against your front, "what can I do for you?"
He pursed his black and white lips, glancing up to where Aether had disappeared and then back to you, "I wanted to apologize for yesterday. That was an inappropriate introduction on my part."
You made to unlock your door when he stepped aside, glancing at him before opening it, "apology accepted. Would you like to come in?"
The Third almost seemed surprised at the offer and while you just wanted to sit down and listen to some music you didn't want to be rude, especially to the leader of the church. He motioned for you to enter first and he shut the door behind him with a soft click once you turned the lights on.

Since making yourself at home the night before you had switched around some of the furniture, opting to place the two armchairs around the coffee table near the one window. Your desk was on one side of the door with the dresser on the other. Your little armoire stayed near your bed and somehow Papa took note of all this.
"I see you've moved some things around."
You paused your movements of setting your phone and planner down on the desk near your door, turning back with an embarrassed look on your face. "Was I...am I not allowed to do that?"
Papa raised his brows as if just as surprised as you and shook his hands, "no no, sister, you are, I was just making an observation. You're allowed to make adjustments; you live here after all."
Your shoulders relaxed and you ran a hand over your hair, "oh good, for a second you had me worried there, Papa," You laughed nervously and offered for him to sit in one of the armchairs. "I'm sorry I don't have tea or something to offer you. I don't even have glasses for tap water just yet." You sat opposite of him and fiddled with the grucifix around your neck, staring out the window at the setting sun.
The Third watched you, taking in your features before you locked eyes.
"I don't believe we've ever really spoken since the night of your confirmation, sister."
You offered a small smile and tapped a finger to your chin in thought, "no I don't believe we have either. Although there are so many faces around here it's easy to forget who's who I suppose..." you trailed off and pursed your lips. It had been two years after all and the amount of newly joined Siblings was stifling since the band had taken off.
"I don't think I would forget your face."
Your eyes widened slightly and Papa leaned back in his seat, folding his hands over his lap, "so tell me, are you enjoying your new position as Sister Imperator's assistant?"
"Well it's only been about a day so I don't know if I can give you an accurate response yet, Papa, but so far it's been nice." You laughed a genuine laugh, a sound you hadn't made in quite a while. The singer couldn't help but smile to himself. "I'll ask you in a week then."
You gestured your hand toward nothing in particular, "by all means."

The two of you sat in a comfortable silence which you would admit was a nice change of pace; even when you roomed with your sisters in the abbey it was never as quiet as you normally preferred. However you could feel III staring at you, eyes wandering over your face as if trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle. You tried your best not to take notice but it was becoming difficult.
"Do I have something on my face, Papa?"
The man nearly jumped at your words, running a gloved hand over his mouth, "no sister, not at all, forgive me for staring."
You chuckled, "it's alright."
"I was just committing it to memory."
Part of you wanted to comment on it being a silly gesture, that you would be seeing each other a lot in the future, but you only hummed even as your heart hammered away in your chest.
As you watched the blowing trees outside you leaned your face in your palm, eyes slowly but surely beginning to droop shut. III continued to trail his eyes over your face
"I'm going to go, cara, I hope you don't mind. I can tell you're getting tired."
"Ah," you scratched the back of your neck awkwardly, "I’m sorry, Papa, I didn't realize I was dozing."
"It's no problem, sorella, thank you for inviting me in."

You walked with him to the door and he stepped out, turning around to face you with a casual stance.
"My door is always open if you'd like to talk, or if you’re feeling lonely."
Even in your drowsy state you couldn't help the shock that crossed your face. "Papa, did you just make a pass at me?"
The man's confident demeanor from the day before had returned, overtaking the gentle aura he'd had while in your room. "Yes, I made one at you yesterday as well."
So this was how it was going to be. Insufferable.
Part of you wanted to laugh while the other wanted to roll your eyes into the back of your skull. What you did was somewhere in between. "Thank you for the offer, Papa, but anything other than a discussion would no doubt be inappropriate."
The Third smirked, turning on his heel to leave. He held a hand up in a dismissive manner, "suit yourself, mia cara. See you tomorrow."
"Yeah...see you." It was said quietly as you watched the man enter the stairwell instead of the elevator before retiring to your room and more importantly, your bed.

The next morning you discovered four black mugs along with a small coffee maker in a box outside your door.

 

-
The main chapel was massive to say the least, not quite as large as most of the churches in Europe but certainly close.
It was a grand room with high ceilings, towering black marble columns and carvings surrounded and adorned the walls of the room, offering a beautiful contrast to the peppered gray stone. Colorful stained glass windows told the story of Lucifer’s fall from grace and ascendance to be the savior of you and your fellow believers. The pews and lectern were black wood with gold trimmings, matching the altar and the rest of the furniture within and around the sanctuary. Everything sparkled in the light of the Sun, even the black tile floor shone like it was freshly polished only minutes before everyone entered. When you had initially arrived at the church you were surprised it wasn’t shrouded in complete darkness with upside down crosses at every turn. Turns out only the outside was dark and the inside had grucifixes acting as the main decoration instead.

It was certainly a gothic site to be held, the red light of the chandeliers doing nothing to support it being any less so but it was beautiful. Over the years you’d found yourself sitting in the pews purely to enjoy the quiet and appreciate the craftsmanship of it all. The whole thing had III’s fingerprints all over it.

Cardinal Copia sat to the left on the stage, fidgeting nervously as Papa III and then Papa Nihil said some words about everyone welcoming the new Cardinal into the church as warmly as possible. You were sitting in a pew next to Sister Imperator near the front of the room in an area reserved for officials and other important people of the church. You scanned around as best you could, eyes landing on the Third and then flickering towards Copia as he took his place in front of the black lectern when Papa Nihil had stopped speaking. He glanced around the room at the Siblings and Ghouls, eyes landing on you for a moment. You offered a small smile and he started to speak.
"Brothers and Sisters of Sin, thank you for welcoming me with open arms into your church. I look forward to serving with you all."
The Cardinal said something else but it was in one ear and out the other when you once again glanced at Papa III but this time he was already staring at you with a small smirk. Your brows furrowed and your face burned under his gaze. You willed your eyes back to Copia. So this is what you had to look forward to.

"I trust you received your gift this morning."
The voice made you spin around, eyes landing on the Third's purple and black robes before moving up to his painted face. There was a glint in his eye that you’d have missed if you blinked.
For a moment you were confused before it dawned on you that he was talking about the coffee maker. "Oh! Yes I did, thank you very much, Papa. I would have spoken to you sooner but I’ve been with Sister Imperator." You offered an apologetic smile and gripped your planner a little tighter.
"Ah, it's no big deal, tesoro, as long as you got it, that's what matters."
You nodded in agreement, "yes Papa, thanks again."

The two of you stood quietly, the Third not making a move to leave your side.
You glanced around the room before pursing your lips and raising your brows. "That was quite a nice speech you gave about the Cardinal. I'm sure he feels more comfortable being here already."
Papa III pressed his lips together in a line, the creak of his leather gloves reaching your ears as he tightened and released his fists. "Thank you, sister."
Maybe you shouldn't have said anything but the Third's presence was becoming overbearing and some of the remaining siblings of sin were beginning to stare.
"Uh, anyway, Papa," you offered, "please stop by my room any time and I'll make you a cup of tea. Gotta break in that new coffee maker sometime!"
The man visibly brightened at your invitation and offered his thanks before he smiled and turned away, walking back towards Papa Nihil. You exhaled a sigh of relief; was he like this with everyone or were you just unlucky?

Out of the corner of your eye you saw Copia speaking to Sister Imperator no doubt about his rats. Or perhaps she was just welcoming him in officially. All you knew was that you didn't feel like interrupting their conversation.
Deciding to wait you sat back down in the pew before a black figure entered your field of vision, taking a seat beside you. Aether turned towards you, offering what you could make out as a smile through his mask with the cut out, blue eyes crinkling at the edges.
"Hello, sister."
You couldn't help but smile back, twisting your body to face the ghoul better, "hi Aether, how are you?"

Said ghoul leaned against the pew, resting his arm along the back of it behind you. "I'm doing great, and yourself?"
"I'm fine," you laughed softly, “Just taking in my surroundings I suppose.”
Aether’s smile never left as he hummed in acknowledgment

The two of you watched each other for a moment, taking the time to study his mask without being too obvious. You wondered what was under it, no doubt just a normal man you supposed, or perhaps something more demonic. Anything was possible in the Church of Ghost.
You opened your mouth to say something, anything, but Sister Imperator caught your eye. She was done talking to the Cardinal and was making her way back towards you. You couldn't help but sigh.
"Excuse me, Aether, but Sister is coming back to no doubt whisk me away." You stood up and the ghoul followed.
"No problem, sister, we can continue our conversation another time." He bowed his head slightly and made his way towards the chapel exit.

Imperator raised a knowing brow, "getting to know the ghouls I see."
"Oh just Aether so far, sister, I don't think I've ever really talked to any of them before." You couldn't help but muse to yourself, eyes trailing to watch the man finally leave the room. Imperator said nothing.
"Yes...anyway, I need you to go over the Cardinal's meetings scheduled for the week with him. He's also going to be taking over the Latin class and will need to be shown the library."
You quickly jotted everything down in your planner, clicking your pen when you finished. "Anything else?"
"Yes, Papa III had me send up a coffee maker to your room, better see to it you invite him for a cup."
A flush crept over your face to your ears, "I'll be honest, sister, I didn't even ask for it but I appreciate the gesture nonetheless. I'll be sure to host him soon."
Sister Imperator smiled before leaving you to attend to Copia.
-
"This one's name is Reagan, after the Exorcist." The red clad Cardinal held one of his three rats close to his chest, encouraging you to pet the small black animal. He sniffed your hand with a tickle of little whiskers and you smiled softly.
"He's quite adorable, sir."
Said man looked quite proud, putting his pet back in his cage with his brother and sister.

When you'd entered the Cardinal's room to go over his schedule you were greeted by the man and a white rat, Rosie, perched on his shoulder. To say you were amused would be an understatement. The rodent, who you had learned was named after Rosemary’s Baby, sat the whole time you briefed him, sniffing around the man's ears and hair and earning absentminded scratches from Copia as the two of you spoke. So he had rats instead of a cat; it was endearing in a way. Fitting for a cardinal of a Satanic church; odd and unusual was the norm around here. He'd also tried to introduce you to the gray rat Reginald but he was being a bit antisocial to quote the cardinal.

"I wonder if I'd be allowed to keep a cat up here..." You thought aloud. Copia blushed faintly but didn't respond, moving to put Rosie back in her cage with Raegan and Reginald.
He clapped his hands together softly, "off to the library then?"
"Yes. I apologize, it's closer to the nave so it's a bit of a walk. I don't know why Sister didn't just have me show you when we were down there this morning." You shrugged, "oh well. Please follow me, Cardinal."

You had barely made it to the elevator before movement caught your eye; Papa III was walking down the hallway towards the two of you. Copia looked slightly nervous, the color draining from his already pale face.
“Are you alright?” you gently brushed the man’s arm and he all but flinched.
“Uh..” his multicolored eyes flickered away and back to you.
You could feel the anxiety rolling off of him in waves as the Third gradually got closer. This wouldn’t do, not for the future frontman of Ghost.
“Hey, Cardinal,” you stepped within his line of vision, blocking his view of the oncoming Papa as best you could, “I can't possibly know what’s going through your mind right now considering the position you’re in but our Papa is a nice guy. There’s no use in being scared of him. He can sense fear.” it was said softly with a gentle bump to his shoulder, “plus I’m right here...just try to muster up some courage. He’s a lot less scary than he looks. And remember, you’re here for a reason; we all are.”

You didn’t really know if that’s what Copia needed to hear at the moment but it was too late now; as soon as you stepped back the singer stepped forward.
“Good evening, sister [y/n]. Cardinal.” he nodded briefly towards both of you in greeting.
“Papa.” Copia and you said in unison, quickly glancing at each other before looking back at the head ghoul.
“Might I ask where the two of you are going?”
Straightening up you smiled, “I was just escorting the Cardinal to the library; Sister Imperator’s orders.”
III hummed in response.
Copia piped in, “would you care to join us, Papa?”
Both you and the Third were equally surprised though his painted face made it less obvious. Nonetheless the three of you entered into the elevator.

 

The two men had fallen into step with each other a few feet behind you, making idle chit chat that wasn’t as painfully awkward as you’d expected; it mainly concerned how the Cardinal was enjoying the church so far...after only a couple days of being there. Maybe you didn’t give the Cardinal enough credit. He seemed to be able to turn on the confidence when needed.

You could feel Papa’s eyes burning into the back of your skull as you approached the library, silently thanking any and all gods for the reprieve when you stepped aside to hold the door open for the two officials.
The church’s library was quite large, old and new texts alike lined the wall to wall shelves, categories for teaching as well as entertainment stocked from ceiling to floor.
“Our Latin section should be just over here,” you motioned for the Cardinal to follow you to a section towards the back. He cast you a thankful smile that you returned. “Take your time, Cardinal.”
“Thank you, sister.”

Once you’d backed out of the section you moved towards the music, rows and rows upon cds, vinyl, you name it, categorized by genre and then alphabetically.
“Sometimes I forget all this is down here. I’m so used to just using my phone.” You said to no one in particular. The Third stepped forward, standing next to you as you picked up a random record.
“Yes, while the church still has rules we wanted to remain modern. This isn’t a prison despite the formalities and uniforms. Which I’m aware can get old. I personally was in favor of a lot less clothing being required...”
You offered the man a knowing smirk, murmuring a soft affirmation while browsing the various genres. The church really did feel more like a sleep away school than anything else. While you had daily work to do and mandatory classes to attend when first joining, you were encouraged to express yourself. Almost nothing was frowned upon besides violence, disobedience and disrespect, but even the latter two were usually let off with a warning. You could even leave the church when you wanted so long as you had permission though you never really had anywhere to go except the occasional concert.
“I guess you’ve gotta maintain little aspects of tradition somehow, Papa.” you muttered as you rifled through the doom metal section, fingers stopping on Meliora for a long moment.
“Do you...do you listen to Ghost often?” Papa asked you. He sounded unsure of himself but you tried not to dwell on it.
“I used to a lot. Now that I'm apart of the church I find it a little awkward but He Is always finds a way into my daily queue.”
When you turned towards the singer you were met with wide eyes.
“Are you a bigger fan of the band or of our message?” Papa questioned further.
“Both I suppose. When I found Ghost, Meliora specifically, I was at a low point in my life where I felt like nothing I did made a difference. Sure my parents cared but I had no real friends, I was on a career path I felt disconnected from... the church helped me feel more accepted. It gave me a greater purpose. I finally believe in myself even when I have moments of self doubt. I don’t think I would have made the effort to seek out a church so far from home if I wasn’t genuinely affected on some level.”
You didn’t mean to unload on the man but he asked and truth be told you didn’t really have anyone else to tell. Plus he had said his door was always open to you; there just wasn’t a physical one in your current sights.

“I think music in general just helps me feel more connected with myself and my feelings. I will admit, Papa, if the church was as stifling as a normal religion I probably wouldn’t be here.” You couldn’t help but sigh to yourself, glancing over to see if Copia was finished or not. He looked content so you made no move to collect him. The Third on the other hand was processing everything you’d just told him.
“I don’t believe I’ve had anyone be that open and candid with me in a long time, mia fiore.”
The blush on your face returned, “Sorry, I guess?”
“No no, it is a welcomed change. I don’t man the confessional very often.” Papa laughed, the sound rich as it flowed through the paper filled room. You decided you quite liked the sound.

The Third started to walk towards another section of literature, motioning for you to follow him. He had found his way towards the romance category and you resisted the urge to roll your eyes.
“Do you think you’ll ever leave the church, sister? Maybe return to a normal life with a more...socially acceptable job?”
You pressed your lips together and scratched the back of your neck, “I’m not sure. Perhaps one day but for now I have no intention to. Although I’m not afraid to leave if the church’s doctrine changes any time soon.”
Papa looked from the adult novel in his hands to you, raising a thick eyebrow at your words.
“I probably shouldn’t have said that, Papa. I apol-”
He shook his hands to interrupt you, the book flopping around in his grip, “No no...we all believe in what we believe. No one can force you to stay for a reason you don’t agree with. This isn’t a cult...well maybe it is. Only of a sexual nature, though.” Papa snickered to himself and you nearly snorted. You picked up a novel with a vampire necking a scantily clad woman on the front.

The room grew silent, save for the turning of pages and clicking of shoes on the tile as Papa walked alongside the shelves. His vestments brushed against the wood when he moved.
“May I ask what you do believe in, sister?”
Without looking up from the first chapter of the vampire book you answered the man. “I believe in you.”
Papa was glad you couldn’t see the way his entire face lit up like a christmas tree.

Chapter Text

After a successful three weeks of maintaining your status as Sister Imperator’s trusty assistant, you were really starting to get the hang of things, not to mention you'd found a friend in the nameless ghouls, particularly Aether. He'd been great company to you while you ran errands around the church, offering to spend time with you and to talk when you were free. On top of that it seemed as though almost everyone in the church knew who you were and really respected you as a higher ranking member of the clergy. Nothing could bring you down. At least that's what you thought.
After those three weeks you’d finally experienced your first setback; a fever.

While you were mad and confused as to where or from whom you’d picked it up, part of you was glad you’d caught it now and not later. There was still quite a bit of time before shit was really going to hit the fan within the church’s ranks. A few days off to recover wasn’t much to worry about; if anything you were more worried about using up the church’s entire stock of tissues.

Thankfully the cogs in the machine kept turning. The church was even more organized than before if possible. Cardinal Copia had started adjusting quite comfortably and quickly as the new Latin teacher and even Papa III had been better about attending meetings and filling out the paperwork he despised; you felt like you were making a tangible difference in so little time and the thought brought a smile to your warm face.

Unable to focus on the book in your hand you dogeared the page and plopped it on the bed next to you, sitting in silence before running a hand through your hair. You felt strong enough to take a shower so that’s what you decided to do.

Hot water hit your back with a pleasant hiss, engulfing your senses as you hung your head back to start massaging shampoo through your scalp. While rinsing the suds your mind wandered to the things you were supposed to do that week; multiple meetings about the band for Papa, a few here and there for Copia, paperwork for new Siblings of Sin that had recently arrived. All of it was a distant thought when you started washing your body, the grime and sweat from your fever swirling down the drain. Your brain felt less foggy, the steam hanging around the room helping to unclog your sinuses. Sickness be damned, right now you felt good. Good enough to finally trim your bangs when you stepped out of the shower.

Making your way to your desk to grab your scissors, there was a knock on the door and you prayed whoever it was wouldn’t be offended by you answering in fluffy robe and very little else. You highly doubted that would be the case if it was Papa.
You shook your head and tied the garment up tighter, stepping into a clean pair of underwear before walking to the door. When you pulled it open you were surprised to see none other than Copia. He was in a black cassock and mitre today, wringing out his leather clad hands as he looked down the hallway and then to your tired face. The man blushed when he realized you were only in a robe, coughing into his fist before speaking.
“Hello, sister, is this a bad time?”
Shaking your head you raised your brows and weakly leaned against the doorframe, “No, what’s up Cardinal, can I help you with something?” the dizziness of your fever was starting to return. What wonderful timing.
“I just wanted to check in with you, to make sure you were alright. I was told you were quite sick.” Copia managed a small smile, his cheeks still a rosy pink. You couldn't help but smile back Aether had stopped by the day before to check on you but you hadn't expected anyone of higher rank to be bothered. You didn't think anyone would have been bothered if you were honest.
“Well thank you, Cardinal, I’m doing okay all things considered,” you scrunched your face up, massaging your temples softly, “sorry sir, do you mind if we take this conversation inside? I’m starting to feel a bit dizzy.”

His eyes widened at you retreating back into the comfort of your room without a reply, leaving him standing at the door. The Cardinal hesitantly stepped in, closing it behind him and watched as you sat down on the edge of your bed, gripping the edge of the mattress for support.
"Sister are you sure you're alright? Would you like me to call for a nurse?"
You shook your head gently, smiling softly when Copia was back in your field of vision, "no that's alright, it'll pass. It was much worse yesterday." Yesterday had been hell. You couldn't so much as leave your bed to grab a glass of water, let alone think about getting up to shower or even eat; you were too achy and lightheaded not to mention you had the chills for most of the day. You thought the worst of it had passed when you woke up and felt slightly more like a functioning human again. Time would only tell.

Cardinal Copia remained standing a few feet from you, clearly trying not to be rude by staying as far away as possible like he probably wanted to.
A small frown settled on your lips, "I apologize for inviting you into the den of disease, Cardinal, you don't have to stay."
The man waved his hand, "ah it’s no trouble, better to risk getting sick to make sure you're okay than to leave you suffering alone."
"That's very sweet of you."
He once again blushed, eyes flickering all over the room to escape your flushed gaze.

"Most likely I'm just gonna be here sleeping off this fever for the next few days. So if you'd like to pop in once in a while to make sure I haven't died I would appreciate it." Your melancholic joke had you laughing, choking on a cough in the process. "This is what I get for trying to be funny."
Copia couldn't help but chuckle, moving to pour you some water from the pitcher near your coffee maker. You accepted the glass with a scratchy thanks.
"I'll have someone send up some soup for you, yeah?" He placed a gentle hand on your head, "just try to get some rest, I'll check on you tomorrow if you'd like."
"Yes that would be nice, Cardinal. Thank you for stopping by in the first place."
Your gripped your glass a little tighter when you felt him lay a kiss to your damp hair, moving away quickly. Once he reached the door he turned with a smile.
"Feel better, sister."
All you could do was smile in return, cheeks heating up from more than just the fever.

-
Copia checked in on you for another 3 days, though the day after he’d first visited you were nearly comatose and barely acknowledged him. Luckily he was an understanding man.
Sister Imperator had also come to see you, telling you to take another couple of days just to be sure you wouldn't pass out while running an errand or escorting a new sibling through the church. How messy that would have been to find Imperator’s new mouse laid out on the floor. But you couldn't complain; a normal job never would have been so gracious about your health.

You were finishing up the last of your soup at your small table when there was a gentle knock on your door, so quiet you almost didn't hear it.
"Come in," you called, running your napkin over your mouth.
When the door opened Papa III poked his head in, catching sight of you huddled in the corner and shutting the door behind him. You were suddenly glad you were already showered for the day.
"Papa! What a pleasant surprise."
The singer looked slightly skeptical at your greeting, no doubt trying to sniff out the underlying sarcasm he’d grown familiar with over the past few weeks. Truth be told you were happy to see him.
"What's wrong, Papa?"
He pulled the second chair closer to your side before sitting down, crossing a leg over the other under his papal robes.
"Nothing, mia cara, I just came to check and see how our little helper was doing. I was made aware by Sister Imperator that you had a bad fever."
The back of your neck grew hot. "Oh. Thank you. I'm much better than I was at the beginning of the week. My fever's actually been gone for a couple days now," you ran a hand through your hair, "I would have returned to my duties but Sister Imperator insisted I take a couple extra days just to be sure. She probably just didn't wanna hear me coughing and sneezing all over the place."
The Third couldn't help but laugh, "perhaps she just cares about your well being."
Tapping a finger to your chin you shrugged. "One can hope. But I wouldn't blame her. I sound like a dog barking when I cough."

Papa sat quietly for a moment, pondering his next thought. "I wanted to apologize for not coming to check in on you sooner, sister."
Man everyone at this church really cared about your health, huh.

You brushed it off, pulling gently at the t-shirt you wore, "that's okay, Papa, I didn't really expect you to with your busy schedule and all. Besides Cardinal Copia's been stopping by for a few minutes each day just to make sure I'm not dead." You couldn't help but chuckle to yourself though the Third seemed less than amused when his replacement's name was mentioned.
"In any case, sister, I wanted to make sure you were alright." Papa was staring at you, watching as you took a sip of water and raised your brows.
"I appreciate your care for my well being, Papa," when his gaze finally wavered to the carpet you sucked in a breath, "would you like some tea or coffee?"
The Third was silent before looking up with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, "no, ghuleh, I'm going to pass on your offer, I have to go speak with Papa Nihil about a few things." He was halfway out the room when you finally stood up.
"Thank you, Papa."
He only nodded before taking his leave.
Outside your door Papa cursed to himself, making his way back up to his own room.

 

-
When you finished the last of the paperwork for some newly confirmed siblings of sin, a happy sigh left your lips. It felt nice to be back to work and out of your room. All that remained of your sickness was a faint tickle in your throat and the occasional runny nose.

Leaning back in your chair you smiled to yourself; you had caught up to nearly all the work Sister Imperator had given you. All that was left was for you to deliver a set of forms to Papa Nihil down in his office. Though you weren't too familiar with the catacombs of the church just yet it didn't stop you from making your way down the hallway to the elevator with a newfound confidence.
Upon waiting for the doors to open you looked down at your shoes, tapping your toe on the tile floor when a pair of white spats entered your field of vision. When you looked up Aether was staring at you.
"What’s up, sister?"
You couldn't help but smile, turning to face him when the elevator dinged and opened. "I had to go deliver this envelope to Papa Nihil, would you care to join me? I'm still not super familiar with downstairs." You put your arm in the way of the doors so they wouldn't close just yet.
Aether smiled back, "for you? Of course." He offered for you to step into the small space before him, hitting the B1 button as he moved beside you. When the doors closed Aether began speaking.
"So how are you feeling? I heard both Emeritus and the Cardinal were checking in on you all week."
You couldn't see it but you could tell the ghoul was wiggling his eyebrows. You scoffed and elbowed him lightly in the ribs before answering.
"I'm much better, got tissues just in case though. And Papa only visited once. Copia stopped by for a few minutes everyday though…" absentmindedly you twirled the grucifix you wore. Aether laughed, "you got it bad, huh."
"No no no don't even go there," you shook your head and gripped the envelope in your other hand a little tighter, "they're my superiors. I just appreciate them actually giving a shit. Most leaders and bosses could care less."

The elevator let out a beep, opening its metal doors to reveal the hallway of the mausoleum lit by fluorescent lights.
A hum left the nameless ghoul's lips as the two of you started walking, "well they both must really like you. Sister Imperator is usually the one to check up on important people around here and even then it's not everyday. Emeritus never does it."
Something faint bubbled within you, of what you couldn’t be sure. "They're probably just being nice since I'm their new assistant.
"Yeah maybe," Aether scratched the back of his neck, "or maybe it's 'cause they both have a crush on you."
You took to shoving the man playfully, Aether feigning hurt when he bumped the wall.
"I'm just saying, [y/n], you're awfully special."
You couldn't help but snort at that as you walked, "special my ass."
"Your ass is pretty special too. Hey-!"
A quiet smack echoed throughout the hallway of your hand connecting with the back of Aether's head below his mask.
The guitarist laughed at your flustered face, "okay I'll stop, just don't beat me up anymore."

Sister Imperator was right about the basement; there were quite a few hallways and although it was decently lit everything looked the same. On the bright side Aether had no problem guiding you to Nihil's office.
"Thanks for coming down with me. I don't think I would have gotten lost but you never know. With my luck a demon or something would be lurking around down here." You sighed dramatically before you felt a hand creep up your back.
"Who’s to say the demon's not already beside you." Aether said into your ear before you had time to process that he'd moved so close. He tickled the back of your neck with his cold fingers and you recoiled, casting him a disappointed look.
"I hate you," it was said with a smile. You sniffled a bit.
"Sister, you know you're not supposed to lie."
A loud crash resounded down the hallway, causing the two of you to look at each other before quickly scampering to see what it was.

"I hope Papa Nihil didn't fall or something…" you wondered out loud. When said man's office came into view a loud voice could be heard cursing in Italian a mile a minute.
Aether growled softly in his throat, "that's III." He placed a hand at the middle of your back as you approached.

Nihil's office door was open, the old man sitting at his desk watching Emeritus pace back and forth, having a lengthy discussion in the language you weren't all too familiar with. Curse the church for only requiring Latin and not Italian.
He was loud and very obviously angry, throwing his gloved hands around as his suit flapped behind him. When his hand fist hit the desk is when Aether interrupted. You took note of the chair flipped over in the corner.
"Excuse me, Papa, but there's someone here to see you." The ghoul stepped aside to reveal you to the two men, Nihil's expression immediately softening.
"Sister [y/n], come in come in, it's so good to see you."
Aether's hand remained at your back as you stepped in and up to the old man's large desk, blocking you slightly from the Third's line of sight. He cast the man a nod of acknowledgement, receiving none in return. His hand then returned to his side.
"Papa Nihil. Papa Emeritus." You nodded briefly at both, "Sister Imperator wanted me to bring this to you. I believe it concerns the band." You placed the packet on Nihil's desk in front of him and smiled softly.
Papa Nihil reached for the large envelope, "Oh thank you for bringing it to me, sister. And Aether thank you for escorting her. Did Imperator have you bring the young lady down here?"
Aether shook his head softly, "no, Papa, I just happened to run into sister [y/n] at the elevator."
You smiled up at the guitarist, catching the way Emeritus seemed to step forward from behind the desk.
"Ah, good good. We don't need you wandering around lost down here, do we." Nihil smiled as he emptied the packet onto the surface in front of him. "Now if the two of you don't mind, my son and I have some things to discuss."
"Of course, Papa Nihil." You bowed your head, turning around to leave with the ghoul who brought his hand up to your back again to guide you out the door. A pair of footsteps caught your attention before you were whipped around and the Third was staring at you with his multicolored eyes.
"Sister-"
"Terzo." Nihil boomed. Emeritus furrowed his brows at you, expression softening when he saw you glance down in surprise at the hand on your shoulder. When he released you, Aether swiftly moved the two of you into the hallway, pulling the door shut behind him. The muffled voice of Nihil calling his son an idiot made you shake your head.

When the elevator was in sight Aether exhaled.
"What the hell was that about?" You asked. He shook his head in response.
"Emeritus isn't happy about being replaced by Copia. We probably shouldn't have interrupted them. That was my mistake."
Linking your arm through his you waited for the elevator to open, "well what was...that other thing about?"
Aether tried not to snicker but failed, looking down at your confused and flushed face. "I'm gonna assume he was jealous. I probably shouldn't have touched you in his presence."
You scoffed as you stepped into the metal room, "jealous of what? How childish. I'm not his property."
"No, and I don't condone his attitude but you're a beautiful woman that’s managed to evade his advances, [y/n]. Didn't you say he's hit on you twice now?"
You smirked, "something like that."
"Papa's probably just frustrated that you haven't begged for him to fuck you yet on top of everything else he’s been struggling to handle. The fact that you’ve stayed under his radar for the past couple years is impressive."
"Yet?!” the exasperation in your voice echoed through the hall, “Satan almighty! You have some nerve.” You slapped the ghoul's chest gently with your agenda. He only laughed at your exclamation.
The thought that III would actually be that jealous over whom you spent your time almost made you laugh out loud. Out of all the people who could possibly be vying for your attention, Papa Emeritus the Third was the least likely in your mind. He could have anyone he wanted; there were sisters around the church that were clearly more than willing to help him work out his frustration however he saw fit.

Glancing down at where you had your arm in Aether's you smirked, "how do you think he’d react if he saw us right now?"
Aether shrugged, "hard to say. It's not a good idea to poke the bear but...he'd probably be livid."
The two of you burst into a fit of laughter as the elevator took you upstairs.
-
On the way back to Imperator’s office the guitarist squeezed your arm softly.
"Would you like to come hang out while I practice? I can show you the rehearsal room. Maybe the rest of the ghouls and I can give you a private show later."
You placed a finger to your lips. "Sure I'd love that. Just let me check if Sister needs me to do anything else." You smiled and left the ghoul waiting outside said woman's door.

"Ah, sister [y/n], you delivered the packet successfully I presume?" Sister Imperator was sitting at her desk, typing away on her work computer.
You nodded your head, "yes Sister. Papa Nihil was about to start reading it when I left." Imperator folded her hands on her desk and offered a smile.
"Good good. Since you're done with that you may retire early tonight. Tomorrow after breakfast you'll need to go down and see if Papa is finished with the paperwork, then bring it back to me."
"Yes, Sister, will do. I'll see you in the morning then." You started to walk back towards the door to her office, seeing Aether turn his head when he noticed you through the frosted window.
"One more thing, sister [y/n]."
Sister Imperator waited until you had turned and stepped back up to her desk. "The Third is undoubtedly going to be in a foul mood within the upcoming weeks. We've finally begun the process of Cardinal Copia becoming the new leader. Please do not take to heart anything rude he might say to you. I know it's easier said than done but believe me when I say he respects you."
Your eyes grew wide and you blinked a few times before responding, "I will try to keep that in mind, sister. Though I will admit I already had a taste of his temper earlier when bringing the packet down." You couldn't help but sigh.
Sister Imperator furrowed her brow, "what happened?"
"He was in there arguing with Papa Nihil in Italian about, I'm assuming, the whole situation. He looked about ready to burst when I brought the forms in."
Imperator hummed, lips creased together in a line, "then it's already begun,” she let out a sigh, “well, child, take it in stride. That's what I've done throughout the years dealing with the Emeritus brothers but do not hesitate to tell me if he really upsets you." Imperator nodded at her words before wishing you a goodnight.
When you exited the room you pulled the door shut behind you. Aether was leaning against the wall twisting one of his rings.
"You good to go, sister?"
"You know it."

The band room was a decent size, large enough to hold all the band member's instruments and allow them to practice at the same time. Soundproofing foam panels lined the walls from floor to ceiling. To the front right there was closet for amps and other various equipment.
You decided to sit at the piano and listen as Aether ran through multiple songs, specifically requesting for him to play Zombie Queen. He switched to an acoustic guitar before he sat back down to start strumming the tune.
"Is this your favorite song of ours?" The ghoul watched as you slowly swayed side to side.
"One of my favorites. When that groovy beat kicks in I go nuts."
Aether laughed, a hearty sound that resounded through the room, "what other songs do you like?"
"Hmm...I mean I enjoy all the popular ones of course. But I really like Satan Prayer, Spirit, Idolatrine, If You Have Ghosts…" you pursed your lips in thought as Aether raised a brow at you, "you know the one’s a cover."
“Yes yes I know, you guys did it justice though.”
"Well thank you," he paused and smirked to himself, "Emeritus always tends to forget the lyrics to If You Have Ghosts."
"I know. To this day I can’t sing that song without saying ‘bangs’ instead of ‘fangs’. And don't get me started on that damn kazoo of his." You started giggling, leaning back on the piano to steady yourself. Absentmindedly Aether began to play Cirice.

"What do you think about him? And I mean genuinely think about III."
"I, uh," You stuttered; it was hard to say.
While you had been in the church for two and a half years now you'd only really known the man for a short while. He was insufferable and stubborn at times but also a genuinely entertaining and kind hearted man. You just worried about how he might change for the worse within the near future.
"I dunno. I've only interacted closely with him for about a month now and even then I'm not his personal assistant so I don't see him everyday. He seems like a genuine man and leader. I can see why the fans adore him, why the church follows him. He's an amazing performer, a total ham on stage,” a smile crept over your mouth, “...but I feel like I haven't gotten a good read on him just yet. My main concern is what this forced retirement will do to him. There's talk amongst the Siblings that he might turn into Emeritus the second." You shook your head and sighed, “I’m not sure what kind of temper he’ll end up developing. He seems angry about the whole thing already and it makes me nervous.”
The ghoul made a sound of agreement. "Yeah I agree, I'm also worried about him. We all are," Aether had stopped strumming his guitar and opted to look at you, "it's a shame he has to step down. The rest of the ghouls and I really enjoy writing and making music with him."
"Why does it have to be so soon? Only one album and an ep? Seems like a waste of the man's time and talent."
Aether hummed, "all of us were hoping that with the success of Meliora, Papa Nihil and the clergy would postpone his succession. Cirice won a fucking grammy for Satan's sake, we haven’t had that kind of recognition before, yaknow." He sounded exasperated, clearly having had this discussion many times before but to no avail. "Unfortunately it's tradition no matter who we try to convince. There's really not much any of us can do at this point. It's Emeritus' duty to the church to step down and lead the Siblings. It's what his brothers did before him and all that."

The room was silent, the two of you mulling over your conversation as Aether plucked a few random notes.
"Guess we'll just have to wait and see. Do you have faith in Copia to be a good frontman?"
Aether nodded, "yes. He's finally started to rehearse with us on and off. I don't doubt he can do the job, though I'm not sure how the fans will take it. Third is definitely their favorite by far."
"I think the Cardinal will really come alive on stage granted I'm not so sure he'll have the same energy as Papa. He’s one of a kind." You scratched your chin and looked up to see Aether casting a knowing smirk in your direction. "Don't even say anything, ghoul."
The guitarist burst into laughter, clutching his instrument as you shook your head with a smile. "I’m only teasing, [y/n]. But I agree. There's a certain je ne sais quoi about Papa's stage persona."
"Those are big words for you."
Aether flipped you off and you snickered as the door opened. None other than III stepped in, looking from you to the ghoul. "Having fun are we?"
You stood up, half expecting to be asked to leave. "Please excuse us, Papa, I asked to sit in on Aether's practice." You cast your friend a look, prepared to take the brunt of whatever the singer might have to say; better you than a member of the band that brought so much success to the church.
"I see. Sister may I please have a word with you?" Papa stood a little straighter, hands moving to rest at his front. Aether rose from his seat, setting his guitar in its stand before taking his leave, wishing you well on his way out.
"What's up, Papa?"

He hesitated for a moment, running a hand through his black hair. "I wanted to apologize to you for earlier in Nihil's office. You weren't meant to overhear that exchange. My temper was out of control, sister."
You had to control yourself from snorting. Your own father had a worse temper and you had dealt with that for 22 years; at least Emeritus had a real reason to be angry.
"I also, uh, I didn't mean to.." He was unsure of how to phrase it, tapping his fingers together in thought, "grab you. Lay a hand on you. Oh both of those sound so violent. I don't know what came over me, sister, I'm not entirely sure why I even stopped you in the first place." He sighed and awaited your response.
You shook your head. Though you didn’t want to excuse the outburst you really didn’t feel like arguing, and Third most likely wouldn’t leave you alone until you forgave him, "it's fine, Papa, I understand. We shouldn't have interrupted your talk with your father anyway. That or we could have knocked first..."
Shrugging at the missed opportunity you picked up your discarded planner from the bench. "You just startled me was all. But that's okay, it was just a misunderstanding." A small smile graced your lips before Emeritus opened his mouth again to say something. You urged him on with your eyes and a beat of silence set in.
"Nevermind, sister, it wasn't all that important. I will see you at Sunday's sermon." The Third excused himself and wished you a goodnight, leaving you standing alone in the middle of the band room.

Chapter Text

This time when you went down to Papa Nihil's office you did it alone, singing quietly as you walked the path to the patriarch's door. It was more straightforward than you realized and the fear of getting lost was now a distant memory in the back of your mind. If anything getting lost down in the underbelly of the church might be peaceful.
You were nearly at Nihil's door when a black spot entered your peripherals, moving quickly down an adjacent hallway. You would have ignored it if not for the loud slam that resounded throughout the mausoleum mere seconds after the shadow passed. Well, maybe not so peaceful after all.

"What is it with all the crashing going on down here.." You muttered to yourself, following the sound. The scene you discovered nearly made you turn around and go back the way you came; Cardinal Copia was sitting on a large tricycle, fixing his biretta after seemingly running into the corner of the wall.
Tilting your head in confusion you scrunched your face up and decided to retreat before he could notice you standing there. At least that was your plan before you backed right into another person's chest. Papa Nihil let out an 'oof' and you whipped around to help stabilize the man before he could fall.
"Oh Papa, I'm so sorry! I wasn't watching where I was going."
The sound of your voice, loud and surprised, made Copia jump up from his tricycle. “Sister!”
Glancing at him with a confused and guilty expression you offered a nod in greeting, “Cardinal Copia.” You turned your attention back to Nihil who was downright disappointed at just what the hell was going on in his church.
“Papa Nihil are you alright?”
He looked down at your concerned face and offered a sincere smile, “I’m fine, child, although I’ll admit I’m quite confused about what’s going on here.” His voice became stern as he stared at the Cardinal.
“Uh, I um-”
Nihil let out a scoff and waved his hand dismissively, “Nevermind that. Sister [y/n] I assume you came down here for yesterday’s paperwork?”
“Ah, yes I did, Papa, Sister Imperator wanted me to fetch it as soon as you’d finished going over it.”
Nihil gestured for you to follow him to his office. Out of the corner of your eye you could see Copia’s face positively on fire as he was left standing in the hallway.

“Honestly I don’t know what goes through that boy’s head sometimes, he isn’t ready to assume control…” Nihil reached his desk before continuing, pulling out the manilla envelope as he sighed, “Anyway. Here you are, sister. Everything should be in order.”
You gingerly took the packet from him and smiled, “Thank you, Papa, I’m sure Sister Imperator will be pleased.”
Nihil sighed happily, a dreamy grin on his face when he replied, “I’m sure she will.”
There was a beat of silence and your eyes flicked from him to the door and back. “I’m going to take my leave then, Papa, unless there’s anything else?”
The old pope blinked, ending his trance to look at you. “No, sister, that will be all. Thank you for coming down here to retrieve those forms.”
“Just doing my duty, sir.”

When you started for the elevator you noticed a slight bulge at the bottom of the envelope, opening it to reveal a plethora of Werther’s hard caramels.
You furrowed your brow as you reached a hand in to grab a couple, “this place is so fucking weird sometimes.” The exclamation didn’t deter you from unwrapping one and popping it into your mouth.

You’d barely hit the button for the ground level of the church when the sound of running footsteps reached your ears. Part of you didn’t want to look and see who it was but Copia was at your side before the thought had any real time to process.
“Sister [y/n]!”
You gripped the envelope and your planner in front of you, “Cardinal.”
He hesitated nervously before asking how you were on such a fine afternoon.
“I’m okay, sir. How are you? It sounded like you slammed into the wall awfully hard back there. I know a bike handlebar to the gut can be quite painful.”
The man’s cheeks grew red once again, eyes widening beneath all the black makeup, “Oh, yes, uh, I’m fine. I’m fine,” his leather gloves creaked as he wrung his hands together and sighed, “you must think me awfully strange, sister.”
Your lips pursed in thought, free hand gesturing what you felt, “well I certainly have some questions but I’ve learned not to judge what a person does in their spare time.” Your tone was of a joking manner but Copia’s face grew impossibly redder.
“I like to ride around down here when I’m stressed, it helps me focus. I don’t usually slam into things though..”
You tried to suppress an amused smile. “Did something distract you?”
Copia looked sheepish when he responded. “Actually you did, sister. I saw you walking towards Papa’s office and I must have lost control.”

The admission had you raising an accusatory eyebrow before smirking, prompting you to tease the already flustered man.
“I apologize for any injuries I may have caused you.”
Copia shook his head quickly, “N-no, no sister, it wasn’t your fault, I-”
“Cardinal, I’m joking,” You chuckled and leaned forward, softly tapping his shoulder with your fist, “You need to lighten up.” It was said with a smile that Copia slowly started to return.
“Ah...yes. So I’ve been told. I will keep that in mind, sister.”
“Good. Now I need to get this paperwork back to Sister Imperator. I’ll see you around, Cardinal.” You tapped the button for the ground floor once again, stepping inside the elevator when the doors opened. “Oh and Copia, sir.” He looked at you quizzically before you were tossing a candy at him. “Catch.” The Cardinal looked startled but caught the small treat regardless, managing a small wave before the doors closed you off from his view. You immediately let out an exhale of breath; what an interesting church you called your home.

 

By the time you had dinner and finally retired to your room on that eventful Saturday night you were ready to crawl into bed and never come out. While the day hadn't necessarily been any busier than usual, you felt drained and in need of a good night’s sleep.

After washing your face and changing into some oversized sweats with a t-shirt there was a knock on the door. You'd be lying if you said you didn’t grumble to yourself about who the fuck needed your attention now when you just wanted to sleep. When you whipped the door open Aether was leaning against the frame and you couldn't help but sigh in relief. "It's only you."
Aether pouted, rolling up his sleeves, "were you hoping for someone else, sister?
"Hell no." You stepped aside to allow the ghoul entrance, closing the door behind you.
He stood in the middle of the room and watched you. "About to go to bed?"
"Eh yeah, I'm whooped from today," you scratched the back of your neck. “Had some eventful things happen earlier.”
Aether flushed in embarrassment though you couldn't see it. "My bad, I didn't mean to stop you."
Shaking your head you moved to pull down the covers, tucking yourself in as if waiting for a bedtime story from the ghoul. "You're fine. I was gonna read for a bit anyway. It'll be nice to have someone to talk to instead." You patted the spot next to you and Aether raised a brow, eye lifting under his mask where you could see it. "What?"
"So bold of you, sister."
"Oh pfft. Are you gonna come sit up here or not."

Aether took off his shoes to be polite and shimmied into the spot beside you, leaning on his side against the pillows. He rested his face in his hand.
"That mask must get hot, doesn't it?"
The ghoul nodded in affirmation, watching as you made yourself more comfortable under the blankets.
"It does but I've learned to deal with it. Part of my vows of joining the band and what not." He tapped one of his silver horns. You reached up to run your knuckles over the cool metal.
"Can you-"
"I can take it off to sleep, yes."
You smiled and gently plonked the mask where your knuckles still rested, dropping your hand back onto the bed with a soft thump. "Well that's good. How many people know what you look like?"
"The rest of the ghouls, the Papas, Sister Imperator...and Copia soon."
You shifted in your spot and tried to stifle a yawn only to make it worse. “So the important people,” there was a moment of silence before you continued. "Are you allowed to take the mask off in front of anyone else?"
Aether fiddled with one of his rings, sitting up a little straighter. "I'm not supposed to. But they can't really stop us from doing what we want behind closed doors. Why, do you wanna see what this handsome stud looks like underneath all this metal?"
The ghoul wiggled his brows and you couldn't suppress the grin from spreading across your face, "maybe one day. I'm not really in the mood to get either of us fired if someone finds out.." You stretched and Aether watched the way your closed eyes fluttered at the tension being released.
"That's very considerate of you," he slid down to make himself more comfortable and you inadvertently curled closer into his warmth, breathing in the woodsy scent of his fading cologne.
"I know."
Aether didn't have the heart to move when he felt your breathing slow down as you fell asleep against him.

-
When you woke up the next morning you were surprised to find Aether still lying next to you looking more than uncomfortable. He was leaning with his mask against the headboard and you quickly moved to allow him room to adjust.
"Oh...good morning." Aether raised his arms in a stretch, "I wasn't gonna stay but you had me pinned."
You couldn't fight the blush that bloomed in your cheeks, "sorry, I haven't been that tired in a while." You decided to get up, running a hand through your hair and Aether set to putting his shoes back on. When he walked around the bed to where you stood you smiled up at him. "I should thank you though, you make an excellent body pillow."
The ghoul laughed, wrapping an arm around you as you walked him to your door. "Well that's good. We need our trusty assistant well rested."
"Oh definitely." You pulled the door open, stepping out into the hallway. You peaked around before looking back at your companion.
"I'll see you at the sermon later, yeah?"
You nodded, "of course. Wouldn't miss it for the world."
The two of you stood outside your door before Aether pulled you in for a hug, one that you eagerly returned, clinging to the back of his dress shirt.
"Sorry, I miss real human contact sometimes," you said muffled into the ghoul's chest.
"Me too, don't worry." He rocked the two of you back and forth and you couldn't stifle the laugh that escaped. When Aether finally released you he ruffled the top of your head. "I'll see you later, sister."

You watched him walk back to his own room, tucking your hair behind your ears as you turned. Movement caught your eye and when you looked up Papa III was standing at the end of the hallway in a rigid position as if being caught committing a crime. You didn't even get to call out a good morning before he was retreating back the way he came.
-

The evening sermon was different that night; it was the first given by Cardinal Copia.

The entire chapel was alight with chatter from the Siblings of Sin, all talks of praise and questions of how he might goof up. You tried not to think about it as you sat down next to Sister Imperator in your designated section. There were quite a few black eyes floating around within the Siblings, no doubt copying the new Cardinal's signature look. You yourself had tried to dress up a bit more, opting for some more jewelry and a red lip to accompany your usual makeup, even throwing on some more eyeliner just for shits. You had to admit you looked good, even deciding to wear the septum ring you hadn't touched in years.

As you sat at the pew your eyes wandered to where the ghouls usually gathered, gaze trailing from Dewdrop to Mountain to Aether who offered you a small salute. Before you could return it the lights dimmed and Papa Nihil walked out on stage with III and Copia following close behind. The Siblings of Sin gave a thunderous applause and the young antipope bowed low though his mitre didn't fall. When he took to the lectern the audience quieted down.
"Ghouls. Ghulehs…" he murmured into the mic, "our usual sermon tonight will be given by our very own Cardinal Copia. I hope you're all eager to hear what he has prepared. Please join me in prayer."
Before bowing your head you snuck a glance at Emeritus who was looking out over the crowded chapel, arms raised as if to welcome everyone in. "...siamo con clavi, siamo con dio, siamo con il nostro dio scuro.." His voice resounded through the chapel, you and everyone else repeating his words until the end. When you looked up the Third met your gaze before turning around to take his seat at the side of the stage near Nihil. When Copia stood at the lectern you forced yourself to watch him though you could feel Papa's eyes seering into the side of your face as you sat and listened. It was going to be a long 45 minutes.
-
"What a wonderful message, Cardinal." Sister Imperator pat the man on the shoulder who bowed his head appreciatively.
"Thank you, sister, the first of many I hope." Copia wrung his hands together, a nervous trait you'd come to recognize over the last few weeks. A faint blush appeared at the tips of his ears.
"I haven't felt that engrossed in a service in a while," you leaned in close and covered the side of your mouth with your hand, "don't tell the Papas I said that though."
The cardinal's blush quickly spread to his cheeks and you couldn't help but giggle at the man's embarrassed expression.
"Your secret's safe with me, sister." Copia uncharacteristically winked, smiling wide when a grin spread across your face.
Sister Imperator glanced between the two of you before standing up a little straighter, "yes well, I have some matters to attend to with Papa Nihil. Sister your work for tonight is done, feel free to enjoy the rest of the evening."
"Oh, thank you Sister Imperator." You offered her a smile that she softly returned.
"Please excuse me." She gave a nod to you and the Cardinal and made her way over to Nihil who brightened up the moment he saw her.

"I hope you're feeling more confident after that message. Seriously, sir, it was great."
He smiled, breathing a sigh of relief, "I will admit now that it's over I feel much better. I've always felt best when on stage.."
You nodded in agreement, "I can tell. You were very lively."
"Thank you, sister."
"Anytime." You folded your hands in front of you. Suddenly you were all the more aware of the many sets of eyes on you and the Cardinal, Siblings of Sin waiting for the moment you'd leave the man alone to descend.
"Cardinal," you leaned in again and he gave a questioning hum, "the moment I leave you're going to receive a lot more attention from my peers. Are you okay with that?"
Copia quickly glanced around, eyes slightly panicked when he realized how many people were waiting to get the chance to talk to him. He couldn't stifle the deep sigh that left his lips.
"Not particularly, but I suppose I can't avoid them forever."
You watched the color steadily drain from his face. "I can stay close if you'd like, pull you out if it gets too hectic." When Copia nodded in thanks you squeezed his arm gently. "I'll just be over there talking to Aether. I've got you covered, friend."
Eyes wide, a faint blush returned the color to his cheeks. "Thank you, sister."

The moment you moved it was like moths to a flame, Sisters of Sin especially eager to speak to the new and mysterious man immediately took your place. You shook your head with a quiet chuckle as you walked towards Aether at the opposite side of the room. He was leaning against one of the columns, perking up when you reached him.
"Evening, sister."
"Evening." You smiled, watching the ghoul fiddle with a cufflink on his suit jacket.
"I like your lipstick, it's a nice shade on you." Aether gestured vaguely to your mouth, watching your face flush a soft shade of pink at the compliment.
"Thank you, I figured I'd try to spruce myself up for tonight at least a little."
"You should wear it more often." The ghoul leaned forward to nudge you a bit.
"I will, Aether, just for you."
He smiled, looking past you at Copia who looked frightened at all the new attention. "Is the Cardinal gonna be okay by himself with...them?"
You looked back over your shoulder, "I hope so. I offered to rescue him if need be. But I think he'll be fine."
"That's all good. All we need is for our new singer to get mauled to death before officially joining the band."
"Not on my watch." When you moved to stand next to Aether you noticed Papa III standing near the door of his office, seemingly watching over Copia as well.
He had an indecipherable look on his painted face, standing still as a few Sisters of Sin approached him to socialize.

"Papa Emeritus must really be deep in thought over there," you directed Aether's eyes to the man with a gesture of your chin, "those sisters are practically begging for his attention and he's barely acknowledged him.
"Hmm, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say he's jealous of the Cardinal for stealing his thunder." As if on cue a loud chirp of laughter echoed throughout the room, Copia looking absolutely spooked by the women around him. You and Aether burst into a fit of giggles, drawing black eyes to where you stood.
"I guess he isn't used to competition, huh, so much jealousy from such a powerful man.." You wrung your hands together and looked back over, catching the Third's eye when you did. You gave a small smile that he ignored. "I hope his ego isn't too damaged or the atmosphere around here is going to get very interesting."
Aether was slightly taken aback by your attitude, "wow, sister, I see the timid side of you has officially disappeared."
You shrugged and glanced up at him, "I think I'm finally starting to get used to how everyone functions around here. Also Sister Imperator's bite is starting to rub off on me."
The ghoul beside you hummed, "I like it. And I can think of someone else who would like to rub off on you."
You whipped around so fast Aether thought your head might spin off, your face dawning a somewhat crazy eyed expression when you looked at him. "Aether, will all do respect, please shut up." It was said with a smile that your friend wholeheartedly returned.

The two of you remained side by side against the pillar, watching the remaining siblings of sin talk to both Papa and Copia. The rest of the ghouls had already left to enjoy the evening outside; you encouraged Aether to go with them but he chose to stay in the chapel.
"You know, you're probably one of the only siblings that I've known to turn Emeritus down. Honestly I think it's gonna start getting to him one of these days."
You tightened your ponytail a bit, "I would say I highly doubt that but you're probably right." You thought back to the sister you and Imperator had...stumbled upon within Papa's chambers.
"Is he not your type?" Aether asked. There was a genuine curiosity behind his words.
"Is a satanic antipope who always has on a skull painted mask really anyone's type?"
Aether gestured to the sisters Papa was finally starting to warm up to. You raised your brow.
"Part of that has to be hero worship. Who wouldn't want the opportunity to sleep with the frontman of a successful band and church that actively encourages giving each other orgasms."
"You."
Taking a moment to mull over your words you hesitated before responding. "The Third is...an attractive man... But I'd like to keep a level of professionalism with this position I'm in. If other sisters and brothers wanna put their ankles behind their head for Papa that's fine with me, but I'm not going there," your heart seemed to stutter a bit before you swallowed and continued, "And call me old fashioned but I like a monogamous relationship. I don't really know if that's his style."
It took everything in Aether not to burst out laughing, opting to cover his mouth with his hand. "That's one way to put it."
"I'm sure Papa's, uh, great in that department," you muttered, "but I have a feeling I'm going to be babysitting him within the next few months. Sleeping with him would be like adding fuel to the fire."
Aether hummed, "or maybe it would lessen the blow and he'd be in the palm of your hand."
You were staring at the Third when you finally responded. "That's not something I think I'm willing to try and find out."

Chapter Text

Over a week had passed since the Cardinal's sermon had left an eager taste in everyone's mouth of what else the man had to offer. The sermon was also the last time you’d seen Papa III.
At first you thought nothing of it; he was a busy man under newfound stress and you'd been attending Copia more than anyone else, helping Sister Imperator organize and schedule a photoshoot of him alongside the ghouls; you were in and out of their offices most days while Papa was cooped up in his. You also blamed the weather, the temperature having finally dropped to be more seasonable for the month of September. Soon it would be October and you couldn't wait, the excitement of fall and winter buzzing under your skin. But with the excitement came dread; the Third's reign as frontman of Ghost was officially set to end at the end of the month and the entire church was on edge thinking about it. You were starting to worry about the singer more and more as the days went by.

An uncomfortable atmosphere dwelled within the walls of the building you called home as you walked from Sister Imperator's office to the Third's. You knocked twice upon arriving but received no answer, though faint shuffling could be heard from within the room.
"Papa Emeritus, it's sister [y/n]," you called out, "I'm here to go over the new schedule with you."

The scrape of a chair against the floor could be heard and you stepped back, clutching your planner and pen a little tighter before the door finally opened. The Third looked at you, a blank expression on his face as he stepped back and allowed you inside. He gestured for you to sit when he returned to his desk. Papers were strewn out over the wooden surface as well as on the floor. You tried not to dwell on it and opened your agenda.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, Papa, but Sister Imperator wanted me to go over this with you right away."
He only hummed in response, focusing on a large paragraph on the page in front of him.
"Yes, uh..Sister has made a new schedule for when you and your father will be preaching starting the first Sunday of October," Papa bristled but you continued, "Papa Nihil will be taking morning mass on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You will be preaching nights on those same days. Cardinal Copia will be giving a sermon on Tuesday nights. It has yet to be determined who will be leading the meetings on Holidays though I suppose it will cycle between the three of you."
When you looked up Emeritus had his elbows on the desk and was holding his head in his hands.
"I wrote all this down on paper for you," you quickly pulled out the folded sheet from the back of your planner, sliding it onto the small pile in front of him.

There was no reply and against your better judgement you tried to get his attention instead of leaving the office. "Papa, are you alright?"
The man in question gave a dark chuckle before slamming a gloved hand down on the papers. "Am I alright? Che domanda stupida. No I am not fucking alright. My band, my livelihood, is being taken away from me and I am being forced to assume leadership of this church until I die because of some asinine tradition that was started by who the hell knows within my cursed family." He looked up at you out of breath, an anger in his eyes you'd never seen before. You steeled yourself as best you could against his multicolored gaze.
"And on top of that I'm being hounded every which way by the Siblings, Sister Imperator, my father, by you. It seems like everyone demands a piece of me and nothing I do to bring this parish any glory is recognized. I have done more for this church than either of my brothers before me and I'm being forced to give it up to a shy old man who cares more about his rats than he does the music."
You could feel the blood starting to boil beneath your skin at the disdain he had for Copia, not moving a muscle as Papa ran a hand over his hair and sat back in his chair.
"I suppose that will be all, sister, or do you need something else from me just like you needed something from my guitarist all those nights ago."
Your face remained expressionless, eyebrow raising tight in question, "Excuse me?"

The antipope didn't reply right away, eyes growing wide with the realization of what he'd just said. "Sister, I, I didn't-"
You held up your hand to interrupt him, Papa effectively clamping his mouth shut. Under his mask his entire face flamed pink at your gaze.
"Papa I would appreciate it if you kept my personal business out of this. I'm sorry you're going through a lot right now and I'd be happy to sit down and listen to your problems but I won't be your punching bag just because I'm here and an easy target." You tried to remain calm, knowing it was a low blow due to stress on his part but you couldn’t help the slight tinge of venom that colored your words. He only watched as you stood, agenda in one hand, the other smoothing out your blazer.
"And for the record, Aether and I are only friends. Though I don't believe it's any of your business who I choose to have sex with or not. Have a good day, Papa."
You slammed the door shut a little harder than necessary on your way out, leaving the antipope dumbstruck in his office as his heart hammered away against his ribs.

 

Sister Imperator's office was warm when you stepped inside, a stark contrast to the draftiness of the church hallway. It only added to the heat within your cheeks.
She didn't look up when you entered, scribbling away on a stack of papers, hunched over in the same spot you left her in barely twenty minutes prior. You plopped down in the chair in front of her desk.
"How did III receive the new schedule?"
Opening your planner to look over the rest of the week's outline you pursed your lips, "he made no comment, really, just had a minor blow up about the entire situation. I doubt Papa really cares about who delivers what sermon on which day right now, sister." You furrowed your brows, a forlorn look gracing your features when Imperator set her pen down.
"I know he isn't happy, but it is tradition. It is his duty. Cardinal Copia will be a perfect fit for Ghost."

While you didn't doubt Copia would be an excellent frontman, it was hard to see Emeritus lose something he so enjoyed. You'd be lying if you said you weren't upset over the change; he was your Papa, the reason you sought the place out at all. Despite your feelings you made no comment.
"There are going to be a handful of shows in two weeks time, the final signifying Papa's last performance. You will be there to make sure all goes as planned and that he behaves accordingly."
"Yes, sister." You could only imagine the mood the singer would be in until then. And perhaps after.

A shiver ran up your spine at the image of Papa's blazing eyes. Personal assistant or not, it was daunting dealing with a man who'd made an indirect deal with the devil. Sister Imperator cleared her throat. You hadn't realized you were spacing and offered a shy apology.
"All is well” she took a breath before continuing, "it's nearly 6 o'clock. You may finish early tonight and go get some supper."
Nodding your head you rose up from the chair, "thank you, sister, I will see you tomorrow then."
She only hummed as you left and started for the large dining hall.

It was a short walk to the opposite end of the building, past the main chapel and library and down a hallway parallel to the abbey outside. Many sisters were out enjoying the change in weather and you were hoping you could grab some food and find a secluded spot in a far corner of the room with little crowding. The library door opening and nearly knocking you backwards interrupted your train of thought and you found yourself stumbling amidst a cry of I'm so sorry'.
Cardinal Copia stood in front of you, frazzled and apologetic in his black cassock, a set of thick books tucked under one of his arms. "Sister [y/n] are you alright?"
Smoothing your palms over your thighs you nodded at the man who quickly reached his free hand out as support. "I'm fine, Cardinal, I probably shouldn't have been walking so close to the door. I had the same thing happen to me in high school once." The memory brought a chuckle from you and Copia looked thoroughly confused but didn't comment. Best he didn't seeing as he slammed into a wall while riding a tricycle a mere 7 days ago.
"In any case I apologize, sister, I should have been more careful." The Cardinal adjusted his biretta, a sheepish smile on his face.
"Trust me, it's okay," you paused before adding, "would you like to join me for dinner, Cardinal?"

Perhaps one day Copia would stop being so surprised but today was not that day. "Oh! Um, sure, sister, yes. I need to put these books in my office first though."
"I'll walk with you then. If that's alright."
"Yes, that's perfectly alright, sister!" He nearly jumped with the exclamation, ears turning a deep scarlet. You offered to carry some of said books and all but grabbed them from his hands when he tried to shrug you off.

A calm silence settled over the two of you on the short trip back to the Cardinal's office, the distant echo of footsteps of fellow Siblings of Sin reminding you of the life inside the church. When you finally reached the man's office he held the door open for you and you entered the modestly sized space. Unlike his bedroom it was painted a soft grey, electric sconces on each wall, a large black wooden desk and bookshelf taking up most of the room much like Papa III's. Copia's curtains were drawn and the atmosphere was so peaceful you almost didn't want to return to the dining hall.
The black clad cardinal watched you place the book's down, eyes trailing over the familiar paintings decorating the walls near the lights, fingers gliding over the backs of the chairs as you walked to the window and turned back to the man. "You've been here a little while now, Cardinal, I think it’s time you have a mural painted. It would look nice."
"Of myself? Hardly." He gave a quiet laugh, bright eyes swimming amidst a sea of black liner, "and having a self portrait in my own office is a little too narcissistic for my taste."
You couldn't help but shrug before walking back over to where he stood near the desk. "We'll just have to hang it in the main hall on the way to the chapel then. It'll accompany the ones of the Papas before you. Maybe it'll be even bigger than the Third's."
"Oh don't say that, sister, I'd never hear the end of it."
The two of you laughed before you offered your arm, "shall we, Cardinal? I'm realizing now just how hungry I am."
An air of hesitancy settled over Copia at first but he soon looped his arm through yours, resting his opposite palm on your forearm in a very priest-like manner as the two of you left the room. You could feel the watchful eyes when you passed by the abbey.

 

Dinner with Copia was filled with refreshing conversation and wholehearted laughs. While the man had his quirks he was attentive and gave wonderful insight, listening to your minor complaints and worries that you'd only ever burdened Aether with hearing. It was easy to talk to him, although he wouldn't divulge much information about himself in return. He did share that he'd grown to love rats due to their resilience.
"I'd argue them being the cockroaches of rodents." He explained, "they brought on the desolation of nearly 200 million people from the fleas they carried. Incredible isn't it? Well, perhaps not incredible that so many people died… They're also very cute. And friendly. Rats are quite misunderstood creatures in my humble opinion."
"You should write a song about them on the next album." You pointed your fork at the Cardinal who gave a thoughtful hum.
"I think I will, sister."
You hid your smile behind your napkin, dabbing your mouth as you did; you should have tried to socialize with the Cardinal sooner.
"Can I just say you're a very nice man, Cardinal Copia, I strongly believe you'll win the hearts of many Ghost fans and Siblings of Sin alike."
The pasta he was eating nearly fell from his mouth, a surprised expression plastered on his face. You laughed before you could stop yourself.
"Oh...well thank you very much, sister, that means a lot coming from you."
A soft blush spread across your cheeks, "any time, Cardinal."

The sound of shoes clicking against the tile floor drew your attention from the smiling man, turning your head to see a slightly disheveled sister making her way towards your small table in the corner. Upon closer inspection her hair was poking out of her veil, the minimal makeup on her face smeared and broken apart around the mouth and eyes. If you didn't know better you'd have asked if she was crying.
"Sister [y/n]?" She asked you.
"Yes?"
"Papa Emeritus asked me to come find you. He'd like you to stop by his office as soon as possible."
Oh. Well she had in fact been crying then.
A blush erupted over her cheeks and exposed ears the longer you stared at her.
"Thank you for telling me, sister, did he happen to say why?"
When she shook her head you hummed.
"Alright, I'll make sure to go see him. Thank you again."
Your fellow sister nodded before scampering off towards the exist, fixing her hair as she did.

Copia had grown quiet, awkwardness back in full force the moment the girl had approached the table. He only moved when you clicked your tongue in minor annoyance.
"Does that man have no shame. At least let her clean up first."
Copia raised his brows at you, cheeks flushing a soft pink, "yes...do you know what Emeritus might want, sister?"
"Probably to can my ass." You sat back in your chair and crossed your arms over your chest.
"Why do you say that?" The Cardinal sounded alarmed, leaning forward against the table. You couldn't help but smile.
"I don't think he'd actually fire me, that's Sister Imperator's job anyway," you twisted a lock of hair from your ponytail between your fingers, "of what I'm sure will be the first of many temper tantrums on the Third's behalf resulted in a mild insult so I talked back a bit. I think Sister's “take no shit” attitude has really had an affect on me." It was said with a chuckle but Copia pressed his lips together.
"What did Papa say to you?"
"He insinuated Aether and I are sleeping together and that I was in his office to get the same treatment. I guess it could have been a lot worse though."
"How rude!" Copia exclaimed, "and from a man who actively tells his fans to have sex with each other after shows. Hypocritical!"
You giggled at his offended expression, "tell me about it. It's fine though, I'm a big girl; I know he didn't necessarily mean it. He did see Aether leaving my room one morning," you spoke with your hands for emphasis, "this whole situation has everyone acting more on edge than I've ever seen in my time here. Granted I'm sure it was just as bad as when Papa took over for his brother all those years ago and his brother before him."
The Cardinal's brows furrowed, a deep line settling in his forehead, "if I may sister, Emeritus sounds very jealous of those you spend your time with though I doubt he will ever admit it." The statement was tight-lipped as if he was nervous to hear your reaction.
"Funny, Aether said the same thing, granted the one time it was because of you."
"Me?" There was enough disbelief in Copia's voice you almost laughed.
"Yes, from the attention you were getting after your sermon. Papa's just not used to having competition. He's a nice man but being humble certainly isn't his strong suit."

The Cardinal's face paled slightly as he sat up straighter in his seat while you continued.
"It's not like he has to fight for anyone's attention. He's certainly the favorite among the fans right now and with good reason. I'd like to think it's just the frustration and anger that's getting to him, though I don’t want to make a habit of excusing every tantrum he decides to throw." You mused, fingers drumming against the tabletop. "No one likes being replaced."
"That they don't," Copia offered, "sister...I hope you don't think I wanted this situation to happen the way it has. If anything I feel just as awful about taking away something that means so much to someone else. But to go against Sister Imperator might be worse than going against Satan himself."
Without thinking you reached across the table, covering one of the Cardinal's hands with your own. The leather of his glove was cool against your fingertips and you smiled at him.
"You don't need to tell me, Cardinal, I know you're only following orders. I know you're not doing it with malicious intent." Surprisingly he didn't move to withdraw his hand.
He gave you a thankful smile before sighing gently. "That's good to hear. I often find myself questioning if I can do this or not. Granted I know failure isn't an option."
"Hmm no it isn't. Everything will work out though. Papa might just be bitter for a while." It was said with a fondness on your part. Copia watched your face soften.
"Do you care about him, sister?"
You smirked to yourself, "If anything I care about our sanities...but yes, I do. He's my Papa after all. He's been very kind to me these past couple months...yaknow, minus this morning." Absentmindedly your fingers traced over the grucifix sigil on the man's glove, "Although I know it's his job to be nice and listen to all the clergy members’ problems. I’m not a fool."

Your companion stared at your hand on his before speaking, "..sister, I may not have a ton of experience with people...but I can spot a jealous man when I see one. Granted I haven't really been watching Papa interact with you but you know what I mean," Copia chuckled before rewetting his suddenly dry lips, "from what I can gather I'd say he’d like to spend more time with you."
Disbelief briefly flashed across your face at the suggestion. "His idea of spending time together is legs up, though, and I'm far too busy for that at the moment." The idea of Papa wanting more from you than just an assistant or possible sex was laughable in your mind.
Surprise and slight embarrassment settled over Copia's face, "you have a point, sister. Though at the very least I believe he would like to apologize to you tonight."
You couldn’t help but chuckle to yourself. "At this point I might argue that he apologizes more than he actually talks to me."
Copia placed his free hand over the one you had still covering his. "I could be wrong about everything I’ve just said, sister, it’s been known to happen. But men like Emeritus aren't always confident when it comes to getting the attention of women they value on a personal level. They tend to revert back to immaturity. Very frustrating, I know, but I believe he means well."
You met his eyes with a laugh and a shake of the head, "With all due respect, Cardinal, men are stupid."
It was his turn to laugh, patting the top of your hand gently, "that they are, sister, that they are."

Chapter Text

After your talk with Copia you felt lighter, a weight lifted off your shoulders you hadn't realized you'd been carrying. If he was right then perhaps spending more time with Papa would lesson the blow of him being replaced; it might do you both some good, granted the thought of taking the brunt of his anger on occasion didn’t exactly excite you. It came with the job you supposed; Sister Imperator had warned you after all.
You couldn’t take everything he said to heart but it would be a lie to say the comment about Aether didn’t sting.

Your feet tapped against the stone floor as you approached the papal office for the second time that day, a nervous energy buzzing under your skin. You took a breath before knocking, barely putting your hand down when the door was being opened to the Third standing in his more casual suit attire. His hair was slightly askew, one of probably many angry looking bruises manifesting near the collar of his shirt. Had this been any other time you would have teased him.
"Please come in."

You waited until you heard the door close before speaking, turning your head slightly to watch the singer’s movements.
"I would have come sooner but I was having dinner."
Emeritus smiled almost shyly.
"That's alright, sorella, there was no rush." He smoothed his hair back as he sat behind his desk. You folded your hands in your lap.
"The sister you sent for me said you needed to talk so um...shoot, Papa."
"Yes, well," he paused, gloves hands settling flat on the wooden surface. His fingers began to drum against the wood in an uncharacteristically nervous fashion, "I wanted to start out by apologizing for earlier this afternoon. Which I believe makes this the fourth time since you became Sister Imperator's assistant." He sighed before lifting his hands back up. "Even if she did indeed warn you about my temper I did not mean to take my frustration out on you. I hope you can forgive me, sister."
Pondering for a moment you pursed your lips, letting the antipope squirm in his seat; you could think of a million different ways to say that it wasn't a big deal and that you knew it would most likely happen again but you weren't going to turn down yet another apology from the head honcho himself. You were starting to feel special in a twisted sort of way.
"Well, Papa, I appreciate you being able to own up to your mistakes, it's a quality not everyone has these days."
III muttered a quiet thanks, eyes meeting yours before he ran a hand over his mouth, black and white lips parting and closing. “I...would like to take you up on your offer of...discussing my problems.”
He was quiet, unsure of himself as he watched for your reaction. When your brows raised in mild confusion he continued.
“While you might have been offering rhetorically, sister, I believe you might be one of the only members of this church that would care to listen to me complain once in a while. Your other sisters have, shall we say...less complicated matters on their minds.” Papa shook his head, trying and failing to hide the smug look on his face, “in any case...what I’m trying to get at is that I would enjoy the opportunity to have a more candid conversation with you every now and again. Like that day in the library.” He gestured with his gloved hands at nothing in particular.

Leaning back in your chair you crossed one leg over the other; no confession to any possible jealousy but you’d take what you could get. It’s not like you expected him to own up to such a thing anyway. You breathed deeply before answering.
“Well I mean I’m not going to refuse you, Papa, if you’d really like that.”
“I would!” It was rushed on his part, too eager but you made no comment, still denying the fact that the leader of the church apparently wanted to be your friend. It seemed Copia was right afterall.

III tried to remain casual, “I believe it could be a mutually beneficial arrangement. It’s nice to have someone to talk to about your problems once in a while, no?”
The antipope was right granted you had both Aether and Copia for that when they were available to you, work environment or not. Still you nodded in agreement.
“Yes, Papa, it would be nice.” You mustered up the most genuine smile you could. Emeritus matched it, nodding to himself before folding his hands back on his desk.
“Good good, I’m glad we’re on the same page, mia cara.”

Silence settled over the office, neither one of you making a move to continue or cut short your conversation. Papa was staring, watching as you shifted to lean more casually on the arm rest of the chair. Maybe you should have said something, but then again it was his idea.
As if reading your mind Papa started to speak.

"So, sister, how was your day today?"
You shrugged and rubbed your jaw, "it was okay. Busy. But overall it was fine."
Papa nodded, a small smile on his face, "that's good to hear, how was dinner?"
"Uh..it was good. I actually ran into the Cardinal on the way to the hall so he ate with me which was nice."
The antipope only hummed, leaning back a bit in his seat, posture stiff when you spoke again.
"What about you, Papa, how was your day?"
"Oh, just busy as well. Stressful. The usual, sister."
The antipope went silent again, looking from you to the wall behind your head to the desk. You couldn’t help but sigh; one day you’d be able to bring up the Cardinal without him being a source of sensitivity but today was not that day.

"Papa, if I may...I know this whole situation um...sucks, for lack of a better term,” you gestured with your hands,” but Cardinal Copia is a nice man. He thinks very highly of you and under different circumstances I think the two of you would get along well. I've seen you do it before."
The Third's shoulders sagged, fingers drumming along the desk as he thought of a response. "I know, cara, you're probably right."
"I know it's difficult. I don't expect you to act like he's your best friend, but I don't think it's worth being so uncomfortable around him. You tense up the moment someone even mentions the poor guy."
"Do I? I hadn’t realized. How unprofessional." Papa sighed and rubbed one of his temples. You couldn't help but chuckle which made him glance at you.
"No one faults you, Papa, trust me," you leaned forward to set your hands on his desk, debating on saying what you wanted to next. "Truth be told I myself am sad to see you step down."
For a moment Papa looked as if someone had slapped him across the face, the color of disbelief glowing in his eyes. Why were the men around here so surprised all the time.
"Y-you are?" He cleared his throat quickly.
"Of course I am. I've told you before, Meliora is important to me. It'll be hard to hear someone else sing your words."
The tips of Papa's ears turned red, blush no doubt spreading to the rest of his face. He tried to smooth a hand through his hair nonchalant.
"Well thank you, sister, that...means a lot coming from you"
You could only smile as the antipope ran a hand over his mouth, trying to ignore the way your heart swelled with warmth.

 

-
"So I heard you made a new best friend. Were you ever gonna tell me?" Aether poked your side as you walked with him around the library. Sister Imperator had asked you to bring her a few different texts from an authorized section, jingling the key in your face before you took it. On your way there Aether spotted you, throwing an arm around your shoulders when the coast was clear of two toned eyes.
You couldn't stop him from following you inside the gated area; whether he was technically allowed in or not you weren't so sure.

"Never. I was just gonna let you find out and be heartbroken without so much as a word." You closed the gate behind you with a chuckle.
Aether was clearly pouting under his mask, arms folded across his chest as he watched you scan one of the aisles. He leaned against the bars and tilted his head.
"How inconsiderate, sister, I'm offended."
You smirked at him before grabbing one of the books you needed, noting briefly the age on the spine. "I don't think anyone could ever replace you, Aether. I'd miss your stomping too much."
"Hmm you got that right," he pushed off the gate and walked to where you stood, "seriously though, how's it going being Papa's new pal? Have you noticed an improvement with his attitude at all?"

You moved deeper into the section, mulling over your words as you went. Aether followed, the sound of his shoes tapping on the floor almost deafening within the quiet library. Though you’d only seen him twice since the first day in his office and you weren’t sure how often the antipope would seek you out, it had been nice to talk to him in a more candid fashion.

"First and foremost I'm not a therapist. And the fact that the church doesn't have one is ludicrous to me. Optional confession isn’t enough…" You shook your head and reached for another smaller book, "but the past few days have been nice. Honestly Papa really just needed a friend that he wasn't fucking in his spare time, yaknow? If I can do at least that for him then I've done my job."
Aether's eyes widened momentarily before you continued.
"I am worried about down the line though. He might decide to completely shut me out when Copia assumes control and then there’ll be no living with him," you sighed and ruffled your bangs a bit, "but for now it's been good. Who knew putting him in check would be so beneficial." You chuckled to yourself and grabbed the last of the texts Sister Imperator needed.
The guitarist smirked, "Papa likes women who can take charge. I think he has an authority kink."
You grimaced but couldn't stop the blush from tinting your cheeks, "I hate you."
"I know." Aether slung an arm around your shoulders again once you left and relocked the gated area, walking out of the library with your books in tow.

"Our final shows are already here. Time flies when you're having fun." Aether murmured. You only hummed, a forlorn look on your face as you got closer to your mentor's office.
"Will you be at any of them?"
"Yeah, the very last show I will. Sister Imperator's having me go to make sure everything goes as planned. Whatever the hell that means," you shook your head and sighed, "I wouldn't miss it though. The pocket camera I brought with me when I joined the church has a fat memory card so I'm gonna record everything."
Aether chuckled and squeezed you against him before releasing you when the office was only mere footsteps away.
"Good. Maybe Emeritus can watch it when he's feeling down in the future." He offered a small smile that you reciprocated. "Try not to focus on my butt too much."
You scoffed, hoisting the books up in your arms, "wouldn't dream of it. I'll be sure to get your stomps though. Save those for a rainy day."
"What a strange woman you are." It was said in amusement and you winked at the ghoul as he held the office door open for you.

Chapter Text

The butterflies in your gut seemed to be in overdrive, the hum of nervous excited energy swirling throughout your entire body as you stood at the side of the large stage, watching crew members set up and tune instruments with a mic check here and there. The audience was buzzing, people filing into their seats and the pit, girls and guys alike pressed up against the barrier at the very front near the security guards to get a good view of the band. You couldn't help but smile, knowing one lucky person would be Ciriced by III tonight for the last time.
As quickly as it appeared it left and you gripped the grucifix around your neck, backing up until you were behind the curtain and out of the forming crowd’s view.

Taking a breath you walked to where Papa's dressing room was located, backstage pass flopping against the front of your open blazer. You decided to wear one of your Ghost tees under it instead of your normal dress shirt.
Your hand settled on the fanny pack you wore with your phone and camera inside, pager hooked to your belt on the opposite hip; it looked ridiculous but then again people outside the venue had been wearing full papal regalia. You knocked on Papa's door before hearing a soft 'come in.'

The Third was near the small couch against the wall, stretching his legs and shaking out his hands. He smiled brightly when you made eye contact before shutting the door.
"Sister, what can I do for you?"
You walked closer and he stopped his stretching, smoothing his hair back into place with a gloved hand.
"Just wanted to see how you were doing. Wish you luck out there and all that. I know tonight means a lot to you, Papa."
His eyes visibly dimmed but he kept his smile nonetheless, "grazie, mia cara. Now I know the show will go well."
You couldn't stop the blush from creeping over your face, looking around for a moment to distract yourself. When you opened your mouth to speak Papa beat you to it.
"I'm glad you're here, tesoro." There was sadness coating his words and he stepped until he was directly in front of you, fingers flexing before he held his hands behind his back.
"I wouldn't miss it for the world, Papa." You gave his bicep a gentle squeeze, fingers lingering over the defined muscle hidden by his coat. Papa's breath hitched ever so slightly.

The two of you stared at each other before your hand finally fell away. The Third leaned forward and you clapped.
"Now. I told Aether I was gonna film the whole set so be sure to put on a good show for me." It was said teasingly but a look of seriousness overcame the singer.
"Anything for you, sister," he smirked before adding, "make sure to get my good side."
"All your sides are good sides, sir, surely you know that by now."
Moving towards the door you lingered before twisting the knob, looking back at the man standing where you left him. There was an indecipherable look on his face but he seemed happy nonetheless.
"Good luck, Papa." You smiled once more before leaving to find your place at the side of the stage again.

-
If being in the crowd was loud then being on the stage was deafening. The fact that the band could hear what they were doing past the sound of each other's playing was impressive, ear pieces or not.
Your camera was perched on a stack of metal shelves beside you and you were sure the footage would have the most blown out audio imaginable but it didn't matter; Con Clavi Con Dio was being played and you were too busy chanting the lyrics to give a damn about your video sounding like it was being recorded with a toaster.

You made sure to actually pick up the device when Cirice was played, zooming in on the girl Papa chose to exalt during the chorus. Her mixed expression of wonder and utter surprise coaxed a laugh from deep within you, grin spreading from ear to ear as your eyes followed Papa moving around the stage. It was magical to say the least, one of the best rituals you'd been to thus far. Electricity seemed to course throughout the venue as the crowd sang along and cheered to their heart's content.
You got a perfect shot of Aether stomping and glancing in your direction before softly setting the camera back down to enjoy yourself alongside everyone once more.

 

At the point in the show where the ghouls would slow down for Jigolo Har Meddigo and Papa would usually talk about bending everyone over in the crowd, the singer stood still, hand perched on his hip as he looked over the audience.
"So...this is the part of the show where I tell you how this next song is all about fucking," the crowd cheered and Papa chuckled against the mic before continuing, "but before I do that, I would like to say something to all of you."

He shifted his weight from foot to foot, heart leaping in your throat as you watched.
"I would like to thank you all for the support you've given the band and myself all these years, especially with Meliora. If I could thank you all individually I would but unfortunately that would take a bit too much time," he chuckled again, "Nothing makes me happier than standing on this stage to sing for you night after night, so thank you. Grazie." Papa bowed slightly and the crowd cheered, screams of love seeming to come from the rafters when he straightened and blew a kiss into the air. You swallowed the lump that had formed in your throat, wiping absentmindedly at your eye. The Third turned around, glancing over to you before looking at the ghouls.
"And to my ghouls, meravigliosi bastardi, thank you all as well. Now!" He spun back around to face the crowd, "this next song...is about fucking. And if I could I would line you all up and do each and every one of you.."
The audience went wild while you stood in the corner, tears flowing freely down your cheeks without any sign of stopping.
-

Monstrance Clock was Ghost's closing song for the night with Papa taking the time to introduce the fan favorite track, the ghouls strumming away as they patiently waited to begin.
“Coincidentally, this song is about happy endings
Specifically, how to achieve one female happy ending
Most likely, overcomplicated, however ritualistic way
But, before we let you go
Will you sing loud and clear
A song to celebrate the female orgasm!
In the name of Satan,”
he smirked as the crowd once again went wild before starting to sing.

You had since calmed down, using your phone to check the damage done by your mascara but it wasn't worth fussing over this far into the evening. Rituals were a powerful experience, so what if you cried. You were sure one of the burly men at the barrier had during He Is.
It was when Papa was holding a note at the end of the second chorus, before Cirrus could play her short synth solo, that two large men in black suits moved past you and onto the stage. They headed straight for Papa, taking him by surprise as they grabbed his arms, dragging his protesting form off the other side of the stage. The ghouls had stopped playing, looking at each other before another figure entered seemingly from nowhere. Papa Nihil moved slowly, cane in tow with an escort at his side; when he approached the mic stand you furrowed your brows.
"The party is over. The middle ages have begun."
So this is what Sister Imperator had meant.

Shock settled over your face, confusion following before you cut the recording on your camera, shoved it back into your pack and hauled ass to Papa's dressing room, flinging the door open when you got there.
He was standing in the middle of the room, hair askew and suit rumpled, a bewildered and angry look on his painted face.
"Papa," you all but shouted. You couldn't hear yourself, suddenly aware of your dry throat and ringing ears. You were walking towards him before he even acknowledged you, "Papa are you okay."
The Third was uncharacteristically panicked, barely making eye contact before your warm hands were on the sides of his face, forcing him to look at you. "Papa was that planned?" You already knew the answer.
He was silent for a moment before shaking his head as best he could, "no, tesoro, I...no one told me I would be dragged off the fucking stage." He was hurt, eyes almost misty from the sense of betrayal. Papa no doubt felt humiliated by the exit he was forced to give the audience and it made your heart ache.
"I didn't know that was going to happen, Papa, I don't think the ghouls did either." You pressed your lips together in a line, hands finally moving let go of his face but Papa took hold of your wrists, gentle grasp hot under his gloves as he kept your soft palms against his cheeks. Your heart fluttered and thumped away in your chest as he searched your face. Oh no.
"Sister...were you crying?" He asked and you shook your head.
"That’s not important, we need to get you back to the church. Sister Imperator's going to hear about this."
"Yes it's important, mia cara. You're important." It was Papa's turn to hold your face, your hands dropping when the fabric of his gloves made contact with your skin. A shiver rippled over your spine when his thumb brushed your cheek. It was in that moment, standing in the dressing room with Emeritus staring at you with the utmost concern in his mismatched eyes that you knew you were in trouble.

Chapter Text

Sister Imperator was calm, surprisingly understanding at the anger burning behind your eyes when you'd confronted her about Papa's abduction on stage the night before.
"Sister with all due respect you could have at least told me, he was so surprised afterwards that I thought he might cry. He feels like he let the fans down."
While you weren't positive she meant it, your mentor offered an apology on her and Nihil's behalf.
"Theatrics are usually the Third's strong suit, we thought nothing of the added drama. It was our mistake." She eyed you before a knowing smirk, miniscule but still a smirk nonetheless, graced her mouth. "It's nice to know you care so much about your Papa, sister."
All you could muster was a 'yes sister' before leaving her office, brows creased, lip between teeth. You exhaled a curse and made your way up to Papa's room.

He let you in with a noncommittal hum you almost didn’t hear, heavy door left unlocked when you opened and closed it behind you. Emeritus was sitting on the small couch near the window, leaning against the armrest with his chin in his palm. He was wearing another casual suit you'd never seen before, deep purple with black and silver trimmings that sparkled in the sunlight.

You made your way over, opting to sit in one of the smaller armchairs across from him.
"How are you feeling, Papa?"
He didn't answer, taking a moment longer to watch Siblings of Sin pass by down below. The wind outside blew the changing orange leaves up against the window pane, sun casting gold over the Third's features. He let out a sigh before facing you.
"I am okay, mia cara."
You offered a sad smile before looking at the carpet, eyes tracing the patterns of filigree weaved throughout the fabric.
"I'm sorry about yesterday, Papa. I was under the impression the show would go about as normal."
"Why are you apologizing, sister? It's not like you knew." Papa's head tilted a bit, brow raising in question.
You shrugged, "No but if I did, I could have at least warned you. You looked so scared backstage I thought you might have gotten hurt or something. Maybe I just overreacted." A sad laugh escaped your lips and Emeritus scoffed before getting up, coming over to kneel down in front of your chair. It made your eyebrows raise.
"Thank you for being so concerned, cara, but what's done is done," he sighed softly, eyes lingering on your hands settled on your lap, "I understand why they did it. I cannot be replaced without at least some drama." III wiggled his brows.
"You have a point, Papa. The Cardinal has some large shoes to fill."

He returned your smile, looking at you for a long moment before standing and offering a hand. "Care for a stroll through the grounds?"
Hesitantly you nodded and took his hand, being escorted out of the room with the singer at your side.

It was still warm outside, the breeze erupting goosebumps under your blazer. The sun was still high, rays making the turning trees almost neon as you and the Third walked down the path towards the courtyard. He was quiet, clearly enjoying the fresh air and you wondered why he didn't make more time for himself to enjoy the little things such as this.
"We'll have to start coming out here more often. I love the fall." He suggested, seemingly reading your mind. You only nodded, a blush forming at the inclusion.
"Yes, Papa."
He briefly turned to look at you, mouth opening to say something before turning back.

The courtyard was one of the best things the church had to offer in your opinion. It was calm and filled to the brim with flowers; white and red rose bushes surrounded a set of benches, a grandiose black fountain in the very middle. There were various trellis' with vining clematis trained up the sides. It was fragrant and beautiful and the only thing that surprised you was the lack of black flowers throughout the whole area.

Emeritus sat on one of the benches, patting the spot next to him. When you joined he slipped his arm across the back of the seat, staring out at the surrounding architecture of the cloister.
"Are you going to tell me why you were crying at the show last night, sister?"
Your face flamed, eyes and ears suddenly attuned to the flow of trickling water from the fountain. Perhaps if you ignored him long enough he'd assume you didn't hear him
"[Y/n], please."

You sighed internally. Out of the corner of your eye you saw the Third shift to face you. You folded your hands in your lap suddenly feeling self conscious. Out with it then you supposed.
"I care about you, Papa. It was hard to watch you thank the audience last night knowing it would be the last time…. God that makes it sound like you died."
Emeritus was silent, brows slowly raising at your confession of sorts. You shivered against the breeze and watched the Sun turn the roses golden as it slowly began to set. The shuffling of fabric drew your attention away from your surroundings, a pair of arms gathering you against a warm chest. Papa was hugging you as best he could at the uncomfortable angle. One of his hands cradled the back of your head under your ponytail.
There was a distinct smell of citrus and rum to the singer as you breathed in his scent, arms coming up to reciprocate the embrace. Your stomach fluttered when his hand gently stroked your neck.
"Thank you, mia fiore."
You said nothing, moving to tuck your face against his shoulder, squeezing him tightly for a moment.

Surely Emeritus could hear if not feel your heart hammering away in your chest, feel the goosebumps forming beneath the glove where his hand still lay on your skin. You could always blame the weather if he asked.
It was much darker out when he began to withdraw, the solar powered street lamps that lined the courtyard casting a subtle glow against his suit. When you finally looked up at him his black and white lips were pressed together before parting, and as he slowly leaned in you couldn't find it in you to stop him.

A cacophony of laughter and feet hitting the stone path made you jump, sliding away from Emeritus to peer out at the edge of the courtyard where a group of sisters were joking and making their way inside.
"God," you ran a hand over your face, gripping your forehead for a moment. Papa remained in place, slightly hunched over with his hand gripping the back of the bench.
Reluctantly he moved away from you, uttering a soft "I think it's best we go inside."
Disappointment tainted his words but you didn’t comment, only managing a nod as you watched him stand.
You moved to join him and he smiled though it didn't reach his eyes.

The Third walked with you up to your room and out of polite habit you offered for him to come inside. Papa refused.
"I have some paperwork I need to look at tonight and it's getting late, you should get some rest, sister."
You hummed, nodding at the man who made no move to leave once you unlocked and opened your bedroom door. When you turned back to him he stepped forward and hesitantly placed a hand on your shoulder, touch featherlight when he leaned in to kiss your forehead.
Eyes wide you willed the butterflies in your stomach to calm down, gaining composure when he pulled away and smiled softly.
"Good night, mia cuore."

When you finally stepped inside your room and shut the door you banged your head against it gently. What the hell were you getting yourself into?

Chapter Text

Aether watched as you dozed, eyes opening and closing as you sat in one of his chairs. Your head lulled, planner slowly starting to slide off your lap.
The past week had been exhausting. Now that Copia was officially the singer of Ghost, you and Imperator had been arranging shoots and paperwork in order to announce it to the public. On top of that you'd been keeping track of the Papas' sermons, even keeping an eye on the Ghouls during band practice to see how they worked with Copia.
Maybe it shouldn't have been so tiring but on top of your many tasks you'd been having restless sleeps, nightmares of glowing mismatched eyes swallowed by red waking you up at 3 am most nights. You needed a hot bath and some damn melatonin.

When your planner hit the floor you jolted awake, a nervous sweat beading over your skin. Aether looked at you in concern.
"[Y/n] if you want to take a nap by all means, I'll wake you up in a couple hours." He offered, keeping his hand in his book as a placeholder. Aether was sitting at his desk reading the vampire novel you'd finished a few weeks ago; it was cheesy and cringey but the ghoul couldn't put it down.
You stretched, cracking your back as you did.
"I shouldn't, I haven't finished all my tasks for the day," as you said this your eyes trailed to his bed at the other end of his room, the pillows almost calling your name.
"But you need to. You're gonna hurt your neck falling asleep in that chair and you'll be sorry."
Nearly without protest you got up when Aether insisted again, practically throwing yourself onto the plush comforter.
"Okay, dad, wake me in an hour," you murmured into the fabric, curling in on yourself as you did.
Aether chuckled quietly, opening his book back up to where he left off, "an hour it is."

The forest was quiet, the chirping of birds and crickets within the brush mixing with the crunching of leaves as you walked the overgrown path. Sun shining, the trees were golden red and when you looked up a frigid breeze caressed your cheeks, goosebumps spreading over your skin as you kept walking. The closer you got to the edge of the path the further it seemed to span. A shuffle of branches made you jump, turning to see the foliage freshly shaken. When you turned back a set of figures were standing at the end of the path, the light of the sun fading to gray when they approached.

“Sister…” it was said in unison, an eerie echo of voices flowed through the trees and the birds had stopped their singing. The sky was dull, leaves swirling up off the ground around your feet.
“Sister why are you trying to take him from us?”
You shook your head, lips chapped as you took a deep breath of cold air, “What are you talking about?” You called out. The figures didn’t respond, only moving closer, seemingly gliding over the path right to you. You could see now that they were fellow Sisters of Sin, faces warped and gaunt like corpses.
“Why don’t you share him with us, sister? We could have so much fun.”
You found your mouth speaking without permission, words bubbling up from your throat as you stepped back. “What if...what if I don’t want to share him.”
The sky went black, the forest turning to a vacuum as all sound disappeared. The girls in front of you tilted their heads, pained expressions washing over their faces before each took turns screaming, high pitched wails shattering your eardrums.
You woke with a shout in Aether’s bed.

Heart beating a mile a minute you sat up and ran a hand through your hair, sweat sliding down the back of your scalp. “What the fuck!”
Aether moved to sit next to you on the bed, concerned eyes searching your pale face.
“What's wrong?”
You couldn’t stop the grimace from forming on your lips, eyebrows scrunched together as you looked at where the ghoul sat. “Fucking stupid nightmare straight out of The Conjuring or some shit. If this is what I get for being a member of a Satanic church I want out.”
Aether tried not to laugh at your frustration, placing a hand on your shoulder. He gripped you gently, rubbing his thumb over the muscle before moving to the back of your neck, warm palm flush against your sweaty skin. “What happened?”
You swallowed and cleared your throat. “Some random sisters in the forest turned evil and were screaming at me. This is what I get for almost kissing Emeritus. Fucking jealous bitches, I can’t handle the guilt.”
“What?” Aether almost yelled in your face and you blinked, raising your eyebrows to match his questioning look. “When did this happen?” He retracted his hand from your neck.

You scratched your temple, turning away before answering, “Oh uh, last week, the day after the ritual. Did I not tell you? I must have forgotten to mention it...”
Aether shook his silver head, extending his hands in question, "[y/n] that's a pretty big thing to forget to mention" he couldn't help but laugh in disbelief and your cheeks burned all the way to the tips of your ears.
"Listen it's been a busy week okay and it didn't happen so I guess I didn't want to make a big deal of it."
Aether sighed, patting your knee before asking how it happened which you begrudgingly explained. Part of you didn't want to acknowledge it; it would only make the feelings you were starting to experience all the more real, all the more unprofessional. All the more complicated.

"So much for not sleeping with the boss." Your ghoul friend teased, snickering when you slapped his arm with a pillow.
"Don't get ahead of yourself, your brain will start to hurt."
His eyes softened, "it's okay to develop feelings you know, it's not like Emeritus has been all too careful to hide his."
You nearly snorted, "being jealous because I won't have sex with him is different than having romantic feelings for me. How do I know this isn't a ploy just to get into my pants after all, hmm?"
The guitarist shrugged, "Papa might be a ladies man but he respects them. His efforts when seducing a woman are a lot different than the way he's been acting towards you. But you're right. Guess we'll just have to wait and see."
"Don't get your hopes up. For all I know I didn't stop him because I was lonely. And besides, there are so many beautiful sisters around here, he could have anyone he wants. He's probably upstairs with one as we speak." The disbelief in your voice was strong, coloring your words as they left your lips. Your shoulders sagged at the admission.
"Maybe," Aether hummed, "but there's only one of you."

You only sighed, slumping back against the pillows, pulling your friend down with you.

-

 

You didn't see Papa for days after you confessed to Aether though you saw the litany of sisters scurrying from his room each time you went to speak with or collect the Cardinal. It was uncomfortable to say the least, which made you upset with yourself.
Emeritus could sleep with whomever he wanted and it didn't matter how you felt; the fact that you felt anything about it was annoying. It triggered a feeling of inadequacy from deep within you, one that you hadn't felt before when interacting with III. You really knew you were in trouble now.

As you exited the elevator to bring a package to Copia, you couldn't stop the twisting feeling in your gut. You stopped mid stride and took a deep breath.
"Get a fucking hold of yourself," you muttered, "stop overanalyzing something that didn't even happen. Don't waste your breath."
When you were mere steps from Copia's room a door at the end of the hall opened, another Sister of Sin making her exit though less disheveled than the others. Perhaps she wasn't in such a hurry to leave. You shook your head and tried not to stare, watching as Papa bid her farewell with a small smile. She didn't acknowledge you when she marched past, your eyes following as she went down the stairwell. When you turned back Papa was looking at you, and you looked up and away to stop the eye roll looming on the horizon.

"Sister!"
His voice echoed through the hall and you nodded briefly in response.
"Papa."
He was walking towards you before you could knock on Copia's door and you tried to ignore the way his dress shirt was unbuttoned at the top, eyes trailing anywhere but on the sliver of pale flesh. Papa began to fix his cuffs, and offered a shy smile, "how are you today?"
"I'm okay, Papa." You settled your planner on top of the package in one hand, tucking a strand of stray hair behind your ear with the other. Papa followed the movement before his eyes settled back on your face.
"I wanted to talk to you about the night in the garden. I um…" he paused and you took the time to knock on the Cardinal's door. When you looked back at him he was searching for the right words.
"I do apologize if I crossed a line, sister."
You only shrugged; your subconscious pulled your hair to tell him he crossed nothing but that you'd like him too.
"Nothing happened, Papa, it's fine."
The antipope ran a hand over his mouth, "yes but [y/n] I'd like for something to happen."
Though your heart skipped a beat you willed it to calm down, logic trying to take over for just a moment, "Papa...there are many sisters here that would love to fulfill that kind of thing for you."
Emeritus was visibly frustrated though more at himself than at you for not understanding.
"No, mia cara, not like that."
The two of you could only stare at each other, unable to continue as Copia's door opened, revealing a happy and somewhat confused cardinal standing in the threshold.
"Sister!...Papa."
You pried your eyes away from the Third's black and white face, smiling warmly at Copia. "Afternoon Cardinal, I have a package for you. I believe it's your new suit." You held up the ribbon-wrapped box, shaking it gently in an enticing manner.
"Oh! Wonderful, Sister had mentioned something about new performance wear. Do come in." He stepped aside and you gave Emeritus a nod and brief apology.
"It's okay, sister...I will see you later." He bid the Cardinal farewell before walking back towards his room. When you stepped past Copia he watched with a lifted brow.

Setting the box down on the man's desk you untied the ribbon and removed the lid, offering for Copia to come look. His gloved hands ran over the embellishment of the silver grucifix on the chest, moving to hold the garment up against the light. It was a black suit with coattails, buttons running down the chest with a higher neckline. With that came a pair of pants and a black priest's shirt.
"Sister Imperator would like for you to try it on and let me know how everything fits, sir, if you don't mind."
You didn't miss the slight flush of his cheeks as he gripped the suit a little tighter, setting it back down in the box. "Yes...I can do that...dare I ask why Papa was with you at the door?"
"Oh, nothing, he just happened to see me when my fellow sister was leaving his room." You sneered inwardly and Copia bit his bottom lip. Perhaps he'd try to talk to you about it later.

When he'd scuttled off to his bathroom to change you sat in one of the armchairs. Your planner sat open in your lap for a long moment, mind wandering back to Emeritus and you willed yourself to check off your most recent task instead.
The door to the bathroom clicked open, Copia poking his head out before hesitantly moving to stand in the center of the room. As you looked up your agenda nearly fell to the floor; you knew the Cardinal was fit but the suit and pants left very little to the imagination.
A 'wow' left your lips before you could stop it and you coughed, trying to keep from staring. The frontman blushed again, a deeper pink this time as he looked down and fiddled with one of his gloves.
"It's...very well made."
"Yes. Is it uncomfortable at all?"
He shook his head, "no actually, it feels quite nice, sister." Copia looked down at himself once again and you could feel the confidence rolling off of him in waves. You smiled, moving to help adjust his collar that had flipped up around his face, smoothing your hands down the fabric to his shoulders.
"I'm sure this will be a lot more comfortable to perform in. And I know the fans will love it." You couldn't help but wink and surprisingly Copia smirked.
"Let's hope you're right sister, I believe I'll need all the help I can get taking over after Emeritus." He smoothed a hand over his exposed hair, mousy brown locks slicked back in an appealing manner. The Cardinal looked fucking good and you could only imagine the jealousy the Third would be exuding upon the new singer's debut. You could also imagine the newfound thirst on your fellow siblings part. The thought made you chuckle to yourself, rubbing a finger against your temple. At Copia's somewhat confused expression you moved to take out your phone.
"May I? Sister Imperator will want to see."
"Ah, yes of course."

Copia stood back, striking a pose as you took a few photos and showed the man who could only raise his brows.
"Oh...I didn't realize." His eyes were trained on his front, tight pants anything but modest in showing off his downstairs department. But when he looked at you there wasn't a hint of self doubt in his eyes, multicolored gaze lit with surprise and a newfound fire. Your brows only raised as you pocketed your phone.
You swallowed. "I wouldn't necessarily...wear this around the church," hand gesturing nonchalantly, "Or do. Depends on the attention you want, I guess."
Copia looked rather embarrassed in seconds flat.
"Sister, I would think by now you'd know I'm not like that-"
"Cardinal. I'm joking." It was said on a laugh that had the singer relaxing, "but hey, almost nothing's off limits here. Why not indulge once in a while."

The singer began fiddling with his gloves again when you made your way towards the door. "I should let Sister Imperator know everything fits well. Do you need anything before I go, Cardinal?"
He shook his head, hand over his mouth in thought before he walked closer to you. A leather glove enclosed your wrist before the other moved to join it. Copia smiled something genuine.
"Thank you, sister."
Your free hand covered his and squeezed gently, "you're welcome." You returned the grin before he let you go.
-

Sister Imperator was beyond thrilled to see Copia's new digs on and in tip top shape, as she'd put it. He looked perfect, like the true singer of Ghost and while you muttered an agreement a pang of guilt shot through your chest.

Chapter Text

"Oh god...Lucifer.."
It was moaned out into your palm, propped up on your elbows as you watched the man kneeling on the floor between your legs at the end of the bed. He hooked one over his shoulder, hand coming up to grip your thigh while he worked, sideburns tickling your sensitive skin.
Half lidded eyes fluttered shut as he licked a stripe up your slit, thoroughly enjoying lavishing your cunt with his tongue. He let out a pleased groan that sent a shiver up your spine, back arching off the bed as your eyes closed. His free hand pushed your other thigh farther apart, exposing your wet folds to the cool air of the room and his warm breath.
"Copia, please.." You whimpered, hands reaching down to grasp at his hair. Soft between your fingers you pulled, earning another groan from your superior. When you opened your eyes a figure was standing at the side of the room, leaning against the wall with their arms folded over their chest.

"Mia cara...how beautiful you look in utter bliss thanks to our dear Cardinal here. You didn't tell me you wanted him so badly…" the Third walked forward, a smug look on his painted face. You could only moan in response feeling Copia run his tongue over your clit, working the nub between his plump lips.
Papa reached the side of the bed, looking down at you before sinking to a crouch. A gloved hand snaked its way to your exposed belly, trailing up to cup one of your breasts. "What I wouldn’t give to have you come undone from my own doing, dolcezza, to ravish you with my tongue, my cock...." He purred, multicolored orbs holding your gaze as he moved to kneel on the bed.

Papa pinched your nipple, eliciting a whine from you that had Copia speeding up his movements, working with fervor to bring you to completion. It had you shaking, looking down to see the man lost in the act of bringing you such pleasure. Emeritus smirked, hand moving from your breast to your jaw to tilt your face towards him. He licked his black and white lips.
"Sorella, mia bella sorella, are you going to cum? Cum for the Cardinal? Cum for me?"
You could only nod your head, whimpering out a litany of 'yes' before Papa leaned in to kiss you. He'd barely had a chance to lick his way into your mouth when Copia added a finger and you saw stars, pulling away to cry out against the man's lips who ate up your moans with a wicked smile.

 

You woke with a start, eyes wide and chest heaving for breath. Your hand shot up to cover your mouth, fingers shaky against your lips from the intensity of your orgasm. Papa's glowing eyes were seared into your vision, the man's smirk all you could see when you closed your eyes and covered your face with both hands. "Fuck!"

 

A cold shower had you sitting on the floor of the tub, water running down your back as you mulled over your guilt and confusion with your arms crossed over your knees. Did you feel something for the Cardinal now as well? Was it because of those damn dress pants? It had been a while since you took care of your needs, you tried to reason with yourself.
Thinking back on your dream you could only focus on Papa speaking to you, Copia's ministrations but a whisper compared to the intensity of the antipope's gaze, how his warm lips felt against your own, how you wanted his hands on you again regardless of what gloves he was or wasn't wearing. Arousal stirred in your belly and you groaned in frustration.
You tried to chalk it up to only being lust for a man so eager to please a woman, still not quite ready to let your heart take full control over your head with such an unpredictable situation. An occasional wet dream you could handle, giving your heart away to the leader of a satanic church with a penchant for beautiful women you couldn't. Though no matter how hard you tried you couldn't deny that what you felt for the youngest Emeritus brother was no longer just simple care and concern for your leader. It frightened you and that was enough to make you bury your head against your knees.

 

Though you weren't done sorting paperwork regarding the transfer of multiple siblings, somehow you found yourself spending the afternoon watching the ghouls practice with Copia at the head. In hindsight Imperator most likely would have asked you to sit in on the session anyway, so you made yourself comfortable in a chair against the far wall and watched them get to it. When there was a break Aether walked over to talk to you.
"With all due respect, sister, you look like you're dying."
Despite the...decent night's sleep you'd gotten, the dark circles under your eyes suggested otherwise, angry and purple against your skin. Apparently color correcting hadn't helped in the slightest and you shot the guitarist an unimpressed look. "Thank you, Aether, I was going for the corpse look today."
He chuckled and pulled up a seat beside you, "another bad dream?"
A faint blush colored your face. "You could say that." It was said with a smirk, eyes trailing over the band members to stop on Copia's sculpted ass against your better judgement. Aether looked from you to the singer, a smug look in his eyes as he turned his head to face you fully.
"No...really?"
You shrugged and scratched your back of your neck.
"The Cardinal?"
You nodded before sighing, "Papa as well."
Aether nearly wheezed with laugher, drawing the attention of Cirrus and Swiss. You gripped your forehead as if you had a migraine, free hand tapping your pen against your planner.
"Sorry sorry, it's just so ironic coming from you," he said softly. You only hummed, voice barely above a whisper when you spoke. “Lusting after the leaders of the church, what a proper sinner you are.”
You only frowned, looking at the gray colored carpet. "I'm just confused now. I don't think I'm interested in Copia as anything romantic but Papa on the other hand...sweet Lucifer I've really done it now."
"Hey nothing's even happened yet. And anyway I keep telling you Emeritus is in love with you."
"You've never said in love."
Aether fiddled with his sleeves, pushing them up to his elbows as he spoke, "no but I think it's pretty obvious at this point."
Shaking your head you sighed and leaned back in your chair, "nothing's ever obvious. Everything needs to be said and even then sometimes it's hard to understand."
The ghoul stood, "you have a point," he looked to the band before looking back at you, "want us to play anything specific? Jigolo Har Megiddo perhaps?"
You sneered, exhaling a deep breath before replying, "you're the bane of my existence, Aether. But yes."
Aether clapped, gently squeezing your shoulder before walking back to the band.

 

Copia was like a different person while performing, harnessing more of the energy he'd had when trying on his suit than the normal nervous vibe he tended to give off. Arguably he could give Papa III a run for his money, sexual prowess somewhat refined but still intact as he swiveled his hips to the beat of the song. A few times his eyes trailed to you as if gauging a future crowd's reaction through how you responded, how you watched him. Had this been a real ritual you would have felt less embarrassed for staring.
It was a refreshing thought though, knowing he'd have little to no problem filling the previous singer's metaphorical shoes. And if he made a habit of wearing his new suit you were sure the fans would love him immediately.
Out of the corner of your eye you saw movement through the glass of the practice room's door, a head of black hair swept back by a white glove. Papa III stepped in, eyes trailing from you to the band and back. Your neck began to burn.
You offered a small smile in return when he shut the door, hands behind his back as he strolled in. The Third was in his casual get up today and you wondered if he'd ever wear his papal robes ever again at this rate.

The ghouls stuttered, halting their rehearsal for a moment to regard the former frontman. Copia looked about ready to bolt.
"Please, friends, carry on, I only came to see how everything was going."
After a moment of hesitation the band continued, opting to play Satan Prayer amongst themselves. The Third sat down next to you and watched. He crossed one leg over the other and leaned back.
"They're quite good with the Cardinal, wouldn't you say so, mia cara?"
You offered him a quick glance, "yes Papa they've really managed to find their groove together." The observation had you smiling softly. Papa made a noise of approval.
"Good good…" he shifted in his seat to face you, "that's some suit Copia has on." Jealousy tinged the man's words and the urge to smirk was high.
"Hm yes it's very nice." The back of your neck grew impossibly warmer, moving to the tips of your ears.

The Third didn't say anything for a long moment, legs adjusting as he fidgeted in his seat.
"Sir, are you alright?"
He opened his mouth to say something but closed it, exhaling a sharp breath through his nose. "Sister may we talk privately?"
You nodded and stood, letting Papa lead the way and you gave a small wave to the ghouls on your way out. Once the two of you were in the hallway you stretched, arms above your head, back cracking as you moved.
"I'm getting old, Papa." You muttered and the man scoffed.
"Tesoro don't say that. If you're old then I'm ancient." He chuckled despite himself as he walked, pausing for a moment before entering the nave when the two of you stood in front of its entrance.

You set your planner down to the side and watched the former singer move slowly down the pews, hands behind his back as he looked up and around at the ornately decorated chapel. His eyes seemed to stop on one of the many stained glass windows.
“This church was so drab when my brothers were in charge. We moved in, set up the necessities, and did nothing else. I wanted to make this place beautiful, sorella, a lavish place for worship. Perhaps even a wedding here and there...”
Standing near the first row of pews you smiled softly at the man praising his vision, humming as you trailed your eyes over the chandelier overhead. “You certainly did, Papa. Most churches in the US are pretty insignificant in comparison..”
III spun around on his heel, eyes meeting yours when you looked forward again. He began walking towards you, closing the distance quickly as you heart threatened to beat out your chest.
“Mia cara…[y/n], I really need to talk to you,” III reached for your hands but loud footsteps against the tile drew your attention away. The singer tried to keep your eyes on him but failed when you turned your head.
“There you are, sister, I’ve been trying to page you for the past twenty minutes.” Sister Imperator sounded more exasperated than anything else.
III sneered inwardly. “Dannazione.” He stepped back and kept his hands at his sides.

Walking up to where you and Papa stood, Imperator eyed the man curiously before turning her attention to you.
“I’m sorry, Sister, I must have had it switched off. It won’t happen again.”
Imperator only lifted a brow, “Yes...there is some important paperwork I need you to take care of. Come along.” She barely even waited for you to acknowledge her before your elder was making her way back out the chapel hall. You watched her for a moment before collecting your agenda and turning back to III.
“I-”
“It’s okay, sister, better to do what she asks. I can wait.” He mustered up an understanding smile before sending you off after the matriarch.