There was no way that he did not know what was going on. One of Lucian's "contacts" has been out of touch for a few years.
The short version is that there's no way he didn't know about it. Figure it out before the end and you get an evil cookie, courtesy of Chaos Baked Goods. Try the muffins. Or else.
He was late.
The man leaned back in his chair, figuring he had about two minutes before the waitress came by and asked --again-- if he was ready to order. The city was enjoying fine weather for once, and all the outdoor tables were packed.
Tardiness wasn't unusual, but there was only so much waiting he could do. The last time the two of them had spoken, both their lives had been more than a little hectic. The man was leading a war, after all. Or at least he had been, last time...
He sighed, pushing his glasses back. Putting a life back together was hard work. He'd forgotten how nice it could be to take a minute and watch the faces moving by on the sidewalk. People didn't think they moved fast, but they did. People wearing anonymity like armor...
Armor could get so heavy.
He knew something was wrong from the instant he heard the chair shift on the concrete. A thin, scruffy-looking man slid into the seat across from him.
He looked up. The other man looked back at him. He noticed the scuff marks on his jacket. The smart money said he'd stolen it off some tourist. He felt a familiar disquiet that he always got around criminals.
Still, that was no reason to be impolite. He held out a hand, which the other man eyed nervously before shaking, "Hello," he said.
From his skin on outward the illusion was perfect. Lycans. If any of the other patrons, the passers-by, would think to question anything, it would be why a neat, clean-cut fellow in his suit was sharing lunch with a guy who looked like he shaved with a busted-open soda can.
"Hi," came the answer. The lycan cleared his throat and sat down. He fingered the tablecloth as if he didn't know what to do with it. "Anyway, when I heard you were back in town I figured I should let you know what's been going on. I know that Lucian always tried to--"
"Ah, forgive me for interrupting, but I was expecting to meet with Lucian."
The lycan met his eyes. His mouth opened and closed twice while his fingers flexed emptily on the tabletop. "Lucian ain't coming," he said at last. "I realize you been gone for a while now, but Lucian's--" Tough as he looked, the lycan's throat was shaking.
He'd gotten pretty good at reading people for his dayjob, and this guy was in bold print. Lucian had been all smooth tones and practiced manners, an unctuous contrast to the reality of what he could do. When Lucian hadn't been able to come himself, he'd sent Singe.
This guy did not know how to be a diplomat. So why was he there?
He looked down for a second and dropped his voice low, really low. "Dead?" he asked.
He took a breath -- the gesture was comforting. "When the two of us last spoke," he explained, "Lucian mentioned a plan. An end to your ...conflict."
The lycan nodded again. "It was a real good plan," he said. "But it went screwy. Only me and one other guy made it back to the others. Look," the lycan pushed one finger against the salt, as if trying to remember what it was for, "we're all glad you never butted in."
He would have smiled. "Lucian used to call it 'non-interference.' He understood that things would never truly be resolved if I stepped in." He'd been a very wise person in many ways. Known the meaning of restraint...
"Yeah he said stuff like that." The guy actually smiled. "He would probably want me to thank you."
"It was a hard decision," he answered. "A lot of innocent people could have gotten hurt."
"Yeah," the man suddenly turned shifty-eyed. "Yeah, they could have."
It didn't take X-ray vision to see what was going on in this man's head. Collateral damage. He kept his smile even and made a mental note to find out the whole story ...when time permitted.
He was silent for a moment. "Thank you for keeping me up to speed. I'll be talking with the elders as well."
"Not unless you got a damn good psychic." The lycan almost smiled. "Elders's dead too." The he really smiled. He looked up, voice turning firm again. "Gave as good as we got for once."
He could have talked about futility, revenge, peace. None of it would have sunk in. Lucian had taken the time to think through the ethics of his actions. He hadn't always stopped, but he'd taken the time. This man just wanted to live.
"Viktor, Amelia both dead too," the lycan went on. "And the council."
He started at that. The council had kept the vampires in line, like Lucian had kept the lycans in line, kept them from using their strength against humans, encouraged them to fight their hunger.
Chaos among immortals. It wasn't a good thought.
"A couple days later," the lycan went on, "we found out that somebody set the Budapest house on fire. The old coven... They haven't come looking for us since." He looked up. "And that probably means they're all dead."
"And the new world coven?"
The lycan shrugged. "Believe it or not, they've left us alone. Of course, they might think we're all dead. We never were as good at hiding as they were."
"I can imagine."
"Anyway, my brother and me went back to base camp. Most of us are up in Montana these past few years, keeping herds."
"Oh. That's what we used to call it, back in the day. I guess now they'd say we're in the cattle business." The kid actually smiled. "If you get enough of those things, no one notices the ones that don't end up at auction. So far our biggest problem is convincing the IRS that we didn't sell them off the books."
"Really?" He laughed. "Some things don't change."
The lycan shook his head in agreement. "After all the shit that went down when Lucian died, I gotta say I like living out away from it all."
He nodded. "I've felt the same way." He allowed his smile to fade, wondering if this was the future Lucian had wanted for his kind.
Whatever else the lycans were, they didn't deserve to be wiped from the face of the earth. They were alive. That was what Lucian had wanted. They weren't a danger to others. That was what he wanted.
"I gotta go," the lycan said suddenly. "I just thought you oughta know what was up."
"Thank you," he said again. "And good luck."
"Yeah, you too," answered the lycan as he stood up.
"I mean..." the lycan said awkwardly. "I've been reading the /papers/. You feeling okay?"
He smiled. "Yes. Full recovery."
"Good to know," the lycan said. He stepped out onto the sidewalk. Five seconds later, he'd flowed away.
The waitress walked up, notepad in hand. "Ready to order, Mr. Kent?"
"No, sorry," he answered. "I've got to go."
The aforementioned Mr. Kent is the disputed property of D.C. comics and of his inventors J. Siegel and J. Shuster, though I must thank Singer, Routh and company for this most recent portrayal.