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[Graded]Think of the Children!; Hayden/Ruslan
Topic Started: May 4 2017, 06:04 AM (356 Views)
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^ Mood.

Out of all the places for an alleged missing persons request to have pointed to, it had to be Sampaguitown.

Wearily did a single soldier step onto a deserted platform, clad in the resplendent greatcoat and kepi that denoted his occupation. The journey from Chrysanthemum had been long and arduous; from line to line had the soldier found himself transferred innumerable times, within cramped and improperly conditioned coaches along the way to the backwater town that was Sampaguitown. Early in the morning had he arose to report for duty; as the crack of dawn permeated the skies above the Military Capital of Fiore had the soldier found himself dispatched in accordance with yet another assignment, revolving around a rather peculiar task: The rescue of a quartet of missing children, two girls and two boys.

Perusing the contents of the paper did the soldier continue to glean what little information could be had on the assignment. A distressed mother had received word that her children had mysteriously disappeared one day in the middle of a trip to visit their grandparents; so was it that she had contacted the authorities as a result. Yet, there were unfortunately a variety of issues that had far overshadowed the poor soul's plight during what was a most unfortunate moment in time; The Boscan War had not ended yet, and still the vast majority of knights that were not deployed to maintain order in the more troublesome of cities had found themselves engaging in battle within that foreign land, dying by the droves on foreign soil. So too was this augmented by the recent developments that had also occurred within Fiore; Acacia had undergone a drastic uprising, whereas Trillium and Dandelion were fast having their own issues with rising crime rates and organized crime. Thus was it, that the Knights of Fiore had little to spare on this issue. Save, a private and a squire.

Continuing downward did Ruslan continue to read the objectives and information stated within the letter, ever punctual in its brevity. The piece of parchment had little else besides the objective that they had been assigned, alongside some minor notes; apart from such, it had little other use other than to identify that the bearer was indeed someone who had taken up the assignment, perhaps of use for identification in the unforeseeable future.

Rendezvous at train station at 1500 Hours. Establish contact with the witness at 245 Meadow Way.

And thus, sitting on a heavily weathered wooden bench did the soldier wait, biding his time for his partner to arrive. A squire, a troublemaker, by the name of Hayden Irons. He was a good lad at heart, of that Ruslan knew. Yet, there were still a great many things about him that needed to be straightened up and ironed out, from that cocksure personality of his, to that predilection for disobeying certain orders in favor of marching to the beat of his own drum. Orders were worth their weight in gold in a military institution; following them, a requisite for any burgeoning knight. Hayden was an independent young man, a maverick; that in turn could probably pose an issue in certain instances. Hopefully however, a case such as this would allow him the opportunity to mature.

Taking a gulp of water from his canteen did the private continue to sit, passing the time by gleaning what he could of his surroundings. It was a lovely place, Sampaguitown. A quaint little town, nary as crowded as Mizhou or Crocus, nor as crime-infested as Dandelion or Trillium. It was a town that possessed about itself a characteristic sense of tranquility, one that stood in stark contrast with a great many cities and towns present within the Fioran Kingdom. The verdant vegetation, the sparsely distributed, traditionally designed houses, the clear skies, it was all so refreshing for the knight to witness. Nary was there the usual hustle-and-bustle that accompanied most burgeoning cities and towns that he had been in, nor was there any trace of pollution that at times hung low and thick like fog within some of the places that he had been at. Sampaguitown was the perfect blend between nature and town, a pseudo-village most akin to the one where he had spent his childhood and early adolescence growing up in. Already could the soldier almost picture it: Retiring from the Knights one day with a handsome pension, purchasing a house and shacking up together with Kanna. It was a dream that was ultimately more than likely out of his reach, yet the notion of such a prospect was something that proved most entertaining to the private as he continued to pass the time.

"The Blue Line from Hargeon Town to Sampaguitown will be arriving at 3:20pm~"

"Seems like he's going to be late," murmured the soldier with a hint of irritability.
Edited by ajimeister, May 4 2017, 07:08 AM.
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Yeah, so, this is gonna sound super rude, um,” Hayden said, trying to remember the girl’s name that lay in his bed.


The hell? Dorothy? Why’d I pick up a girl with such a shit name? What’s her story? Is she like, searching for Oz? Huehuehue… I’m fucking hilarious.Yeah, sorry, Dorothy, but like, you don’t have to go home or anything, but I’mma need you to get outta here. I’m late for work so, c’mon, get your shit and go.” The girl just looked at him, blinking in genuine surprise, and started grabbing her stuff from the side of the bed while Hayden was taking a whore’s bath in the process. He glanced at the time – 14:37 – and began throwing dirty towels at Dorothy, “Get out, woman! Rusty’s Jimmies are gonna be rustled, now go!” Rushing the half-naked woman from his bedroom while shoving a shirt into his pants, Hayden shoved her in the back as he ruffled his hair in attempt to get it to sit correctly on his head and practically threw her out of his apartment with no shoes, no pants, and hardly any dignity.

“See you later?” she yelled as he dashed in the opposite direction.

Nope, better luck next time on your chances of winnin’ Jeopardy with Alec Trebek!” he waved and scurried through town to get to the train station which just so happened to be leaving the station just as he boarded, “Alright, alright, alright. I’ll only be a few minutes late.

35 minutes later…

"The Blue Line from Hargeon Town to Sampaguitown will be arriving at 3:20pm~"

Yet Hayden slept with no reason to wake. With an arm propped against some old woman that was minding her own business and knitting, he drooled mindlessly against the bared forearm that was up on the woman’s shoulder, dreaming of Neko and his harem of catgirls. It wasn’t until the train came to a complete stop did she slid against him, causing him to sit straight up and suck up the saliva coming from his mouth as he realized that he was where he needed to be. Standing as quickly as he could, he felt the pain of his hangover hit him and goddamn, the sun was so bright when he stepped out of the train’s carriage, nearly tripping over the curb. “No, not today Satan, I ain’t got time for all this,” he mumbled, searching through his bag to find a pair of sunglasses which helped immensely in the blinding sunlight.

Hayden wasn’t a drinker and normally, he didn’t poison his body with the substance but last night, he drank for reasons unknown to even himself. Maybe he just wanted to relax, maybe he was depressed, maybe, just maybe, he needed to get laid and being drunk was the only thing that got him what he wanted. Regardless, his mind was still on a particular lady so, he wasn’t exactly going to mentally cheat on her so drinking helped ebb his urges to be within the company of a woman during the night hours. Yeah, that’s how he’d justify it. Either way, he was hungover and smelt like a brewery because he was still in the clothes from last night and as he looked around for Ruslan – oh Rusty, the bastard with a stick so far up his ass that he could probably taste wood chips every time he opened his mouth – was nowhere to be found.

Well, shit, this isn’t gonna be fun,” he groaned, scratching an itch on his throat from under his black t-shirt because his shirt was on backwards and the tag was irritating his skin.

45 minutes later…

Finally, there he was - the prude, the man of the hour, the Rusty Cumbuckets, the ‘O Captain, My Captain’, the fucking Ruslan Gudleifr in the flesh, the beaver’s woodchuck, and seriously, the list goes on but we’re going to stop there. Hayden didn’t realize that he’d been literally walking around in circles, somehow managing to miss Ruslan at every turn, but probably, he just wasn’t paying any attention and more worried about the constant ringing in his ears. Would someone answer that goddamn phone?!?!? Slipping between random people, he walked straight up to Ruslan and slammed his hand into the boss-man’s back between his shoulder blades, chuckling while doing so.

Rustyyyyyy, my main man, where ya been? I’ve been here for like, hours, lookin’ for ya,” he lied straight to his superior but didn’t care, hoping he’d be let off the hook for being late, “So, let’s get somethin’ to eat, I’m dyin’ here. Somethin’ greasy and… water. So much fuckin’ water, man, like, I could drain a small creek right ‘bout now. Ughhhh.

Hayden was pretty sure that Ruslan would notice his disheveled appearance and could probably smell the alcohol that was coming through his pores so, if asked, he’d not even bother lying about drinking the night before. However, he was going to lie about being late, that much was a given, and he completely didn’t even think about the mission they were supposed to be on. That’s why he was here, right? Wasn’t it? Hell, even Hayden didn’t know why he was here, just that he needed to be in this picturesque town that didn’t even have WIFI, like, who doesn’t have such things? Sheesh. This was a place where old people retired with their girlfriends or wives, or something, as if Ruslan could get anyone to pull that stick out of his ass. The thought humored Hayden to no end and he giggled to himself while thinking about a girl that could make him a man.
Edited by kanna, May 5 2017, 04:18 AM.
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A single glance and a sniff was all that the private needed to know, as utterly disappointed, amber eyes fell upon the piss-poor excuse for a squire that was Mister Irons.

An unkempt appearance, ever telegraphed staggering, alongside that disgusting stench that the private had known all to well. It was evident that the squire had, much to his chagrin, shirked once more his duties, rather, what little professionalism that Ruslan expected for him to carry out as a knight–to–be. To have had the audacity to not only be late, but to arrive unkempt, utterly sullied, and clearly less than fit for the assignment at hand, truly vexed the private so. An assignment was something to be executed with efficiency and solemnity, an objective to be fulfilled as effectively as possible. A drunkard on duty was bad enough for a task such as this; were it that this squire had been sent to fight on the front lines, the private could not fathom just how much of a liability the incompetent bastard would be. At that, did the man's heart sink internally, finding himself utterly let down by what little he had been able to assume of the squire under his wing.

"From this bench, I've been watching you flounder around in circles like a decapitated chicken for the past forty-five minutes, Squire Irons," snarked the soldier in response to his statement. Waiting for hours? Complete and utter bullshit, just as the only train within the station arrived did the private witness the man emerge from one of the coaches, in stark comparison to the other passengers–merely a scant few–that alighted onto the platform. So was it that as he got off did the fellow begin to traverse the entirety of the platform–much to the amusement and subsequent annoyance of the knight–passing him by multiple times without so much as a glance. Perhaps it had been that his noggin had been staved in far too much from the alcohol? He certainly reeked like it. Or perhaps it had been that he had neglected to pay attention in the first place? For forty-five minutes did Ruslan continue to watch him, all the while with ever increasing irritation upon his visage. Yet, just as he had been tempted to let the farce end did the fellow finally spot him, the problem kid of the Academy that, in a mere matter of minutes, gave the poor man a migraine.

"It was amusing for the first ten minutes. Then it just got old."

With a heavy sigh did Ruslan stand, before handing the squire his canteen and a manila folder, a dossier. The poor fellow was probably dehydrated after all, and hydration was important, especially on such a warm day. Having Irons collapse on him would be most unbecoming, undesirable after all. Although...were it that he was inclined to shirk his duties while still up...perhaps he was better off passed out on the ground instead.

"There's a Kenny's close by the station; we meet with our contact over there," stated the soldier more solemnly, gesturing toward the folder. The dossier that the private had distributed to his colleague contained the bare necessities and information concerning the assignment that they were to proceed with, alongside what little could be gleaned of the contact that they were to meet up with: An old man by the name of Bys H. Shonen.

"And do straighten yourself up, please."
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"From this bench, I've been watching you flounder around in circles like a decapitated chicken for the past forty-five minutes, Squire Irons."


"It was amusing for the first ten minutes. Then it just got old."

You’re old.

Hayden narrowed his eyes from behind his sunglasses, pursing his lips in complete annoyance of Ruslan’s general piss-poor attitude and lack of ability to understand that he was nursing the hell out of a hangover. What really bothered him was Ruslan’s calling him Squire Irons like he was some kind of kid that didn’t have a clue what he was doing. In truth, he really didn’t, but still, he could at least call him by his name instead of being a pretentious prick – matter of fact, apparently Ruslan took his Viagra today ‘cause he was especially being a raging dick towards the poor boy who couldn’t rightfully handle his liquor. However, all that changed when Ruslan handed him a canteen full of water, to which Hayden snatched and chugged as if he had been without hydration in twelve years. Draining the canteen of its contents, the Irons’ boy wiped his mouth with the material of his jacket and handed it back to Ruslan without much consideration for emptying his supply. In exchange, Hayden was handed a folder that he skimmed over while Ruslan jacked his jaws.

"There's a Kenny's close by the station; we meet with our contact over there."

Hayden’s belly groaned and gurgled, “Ahhh, son, that’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout. And I thought it was called Denny’s… Eh, whatever. Kenny’s, Denny’s, Benny’s, Jenny’s… I should probably give Jenny a call, she was pretty hot, man.

With the gesture towards the folder, Hayden read what little he could without going cross-eyed and dyslexic all at the same time and only found one thing worth even reading: Bys H. Shonen. A wide smile slipped over his mouth and just as Ruslan mentioned him straightening himself out, Hayden croaked with a wild laughter.

This shit ain’t serious, is it?” he chuckled loudly, pointing at the name of their client in the folder, “Do you realize… This is comedy gold. Like, Bish, I might be. Speakin’ of which, Rusty, you should totally change your name to Bys H. Gudleifr, totally fitting for ya.” He chuckled a bit more and closed the folder in Ruslan’s face, swaying his hair in the process, and held it for his boss to take but once he did, he’d turn around to head in the direction of Jenny’s – he meant, Kenny’s. Whatever.

On the way there, Hayden kept his hands behind his head, lazily strolling with Ruslan probably following behind to make sure he didn’t do anything stupid, but honestly, he was just hungry and super crabby. He didn’t want to be fucked with right now and wanted to eat in peace with nobody bothering him. Hell, he really didn’t even want to be bothered with meeting their client and why in the hell did they even have a client to begin with? Their pay was shit in comparison to the Mages’ pay so, like, were they getting paid by the hour or by commission for completion or just doing this because they were quote/unquote the good guys? Wondering about all this and Jenny, Hayden’s golden eyes caught the sign for Kenny’s and he got straight up giddy with the prospects of chowing down on anything and everything he could.

Ayyyy, Rusty, I’m on a seafood diet today, buddy. I see food, and I’ll eat that food. Huehuehue,” he giggled and rushed through the double doors to be greeted by a little lady with pink hair and bright blue eyes. Immediately removing his sunglasses, he smiled at her with his infamous smirk, “Need a table for one adult, one bitch, and the small one with me needs a kid’s menu. Swear, he’s only mentally eight, does that count?” The woman, aptly named Ruth, was hardly impressed and simply nodded her head, beckoning them to follow as she sat them in a booth far away from any patrons in order to probably forget they existed. Hayden caught this, knowing fully well what she was doing, but shrugged. His charms weren’t working on a working girl, apparently. Pointing for Ruslan to get inside the booth, Hayden shook his head, “Kids need to be inside, Rusty, and I ain’t sittin’ next to no bitch so, get in there, deep in there, boy.” Giggling at his own improper joke, Hayden sat down and looked over the menu, finding exactly what he wanted to eat, and while they were waiting, he looked to Ruslan while propping his arm onto the seat behind him, giving the impression that they might be a couple.

So, Rusty, pretty sure you’ve still got your v-card, I could totes hook you up with Jenny. She’s got this ass for days and man, ‘dem tiddies are what’s up. Mmhmm, she owes me a favor, ya feel me?
Edited by kanna, May 7 2017, 08:53 PM.
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"We're in a family restaurant, Hayden; there's children about," murmured the soldier off-handedly in response to his companion's statements. Seated at a single booth among many within the casual restaurant did Ruslan listen somewhat to Hayden's incessant poking of his superior, only to find himself somewhat less-than-enthused by the squire's bashing of himself, alongside the jokes that he had to offer. Granted, perhaps this was just his reaction to being on duty; already could the knight recount another soldier whom had been much similar to this when the 7th had been stationed in Oak Town, overseeing the defensive battlements overlooking Castle Oswald the night before the banners of war had been unfurled. He was a talker, a real chit-chatter, a man who too had spoke of numerous accounts of his exploits, of his disdain for Lord Commander Gallagher, of that plain girl that he had waiting on him back home. There were times where he had come across as annoying, yet ultimately it was because he was anxious and unblooded that he spoke so much. Perhaps this too, was the reason why Hayden had acted as he did. And so was the soldier slow to reprimand him further.

"I'd rather not take that offer, thank you," replied the man as he perused through the menu. Promiscuity was something that the soldier felt ill at ease with; Hayden's prowess under the bedsheets and his numerous flings even more so. The sigil of chastity that he had held onto ever zealously for the longest while was only claimable by one person, and certainly not some broad or wench that he had nary a clue about. Thus was it so, that the soldier opted to decline the squire's remarks, be it a jest or an earnest statement. Instead, he looked toward the menu for solace, from both the Casanova wannabe man-child and the bitter memories that came from the jittery private whom he resembled at times.

"Let's see here...the Salmon Doria seems good. Oho!? But the Omelet Rice is also a tantalizing option..."

Raising a hand to signal the waiter did the famished knight proceed to order a meal to satiate his stomach, before pointing to a variety of the contents on the menu that piqued his interest greatly. Salmon Doria...nay, the Hamburg Steak...a couple waffles, maybe a milkshake. And all for the price of 1450 Jewels too; that in itself was a steal. Truly, far better than the prices for the food at the refectories present in Academy. Already, was he salivating.

Just as the two finished ordering however, did a single man approach, a wizened old man with an ever peculiar gait, brandishing a quartet of documents alongside a cane. Bys H. Shonen, or so it seemed the man was. As he arrived, did the Seveni raise his hand, bidding the contact come and sit. And thus did he do so, sitting down opposite the two with dossiers in hand.

"A pleasure to meet you two young laddies. I am Bys H. Shonen, but you may call me Bys."

The knight extended his hand, in a cordial attempt at exchanging pleasantries. So too as he did so, did he temporarily glance over at his charge. Straighten up was written across his visage.

"Private Gudleifr, likewise, it's a pleasure. This is my charge, Mister Irons."

Perusing through the information within the document did the knight listen intently for what Mister Shonen had to say, as he, with an ever quavering voice. The loss of the children had taken a grievous toll on the old man, and nowhere was this more evident than the grief in his visage that made it plain that he worried for their safety. This much was normal indeed; after all, the poor souls had been gone for ever the longest time–two weeks. Arlan Almighty knew what happened to them.

"Last I remembered, the four of them said they wanted to go play behind the school," wept Bys as he shed a tear.

"Cabbages always did love that place so very much," said he wistfully. "Peas though, she was different. Always hung around with the wrong crowd, a fellow by the name of Manson. Real suspicious fellow, him."

"That could be some place to start," noted the private to both his colleague and Bys.

"Thank you for your time. Anything else you want to say, Irons?"
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"I'd rather not take that offer, thank you."

Actually surprised, but not really because Ruslan seemed to be a guy that would be as nervous as a cat covering up shit in the presence of a woman, but at the same time, it surprised Hayden that he didn’t completely squash the idea entirely. He was just being polite, right? Nodding to himself and throwing both hands up to signify his retraction of the statement, the Irons boy researched the menu again while thinking of how he could hook Jenny and Ruslan up without consent from his superior. Just, like, have Jenny meet us somewhere, completely coincidental, totally. I’mma get Rusty laid, awwh yissss. A smile curled over his lips at the internal composition of his poorly thought-out plan as his golden eyes skimmed over the menu, making sure he wasn’t missing something he’d like while Ruslan stated aloud of his indecision between salmon or rice. But shocking, the man didn’t order either, finally deciding upon beef, waffles, and… a milkshake? Knitting his eyebrows together and blinking in confusion at Ruslan’s order, he wondered if Ruslan was really a Rachel and pregnant with that particular list of foodstuffs he wanted. When it was his turn, he aptly handed the menu over, inhaled a deep breath, then released a torrent of word vomit.

Yeah, errr, I’d like three poached eggs, a side of string beans, three cups of black CAFFENAITED coffee, an order of potatoes, and a steak, cooked medium-rare. That’s all, thanks.

Before anything could be further discussed between the partnering Knights, an old man of lithe stature with a grimace overwhelming his wrinkled features approached them to which Ruslan slapped the reigns of this potentially crucial conversation form Hayden and beckoned the man to sit with his cane propping against the booth’s slick cushion. He listened to Bys speak, tell his name while shaking hands with Ruslan, and Hayden caught the expressive shift on Ruslan’s face for him to be on good behavior. Ohohohoho. Little did Ruslan know though, Hayden could act like a professional when necessary and what better time to prove his abilities than the present, ne? Casually nodding towards his superior, the Squire stretched out his hand for Bys to shake when Ruslan introduced him as his charge which made every single hair on the back of his neck stand to attention.

Quickly, he corrected him with a gentle cough, “Knight-Aspirant Irons, Mr. Shonen. We’re more than happy to assist.

Hayden released the shake after finishing his statement, smiling sheepishly at his slick words, and removed a pair of solid black reading glasses from one of his jacket’s inner pockets. Slipping them onto his face, he waited for Ruslan to hand over the documents and listened while reading over what was known of the children that had went astray. That was, until he heard the names. Cabbages… Peas… and a fuckin’ Manson? What the hell are they doin’? Makin’ a soup? I’mma die if the other two are Carrots and Sausage. Swear it, don’t let it happen, man. Huehuehue. His thought process was interrupted by Ruslan’s commentary and Hayden gazed over his glasses, appearing to actually give a shit when in truth, he gave absolutely no shits about the soup situation transpiring before his eyes.

"Thank you for your time. Anything else you want to say, Irons?"

Nodding, Hayden leaned back in his seat, removed his glasses (which were totally just clear lenses, by the way) which he placed on the documents, and folded his hands in his lap, looking all smug with a serious expression strewn across his tanned visage.

Actually, CO Gudleifr, I do have a few questions for Mr. Shonen.

Mentally giggling to himself, Hayden laughed at the thought of actually meaning what he said to both Ruslan and Bys, yet his features never betrayed him in this solitary moment of serious trolling.

This may seem irrelevant, but I must ask,” he began, shifting his shoulders in response to his shirt still being improperly worn, “The Manson fellow you’re tellin’ us about. Have you spoken to him? Has he seen Peas or Cabbages recently? What kind of soup do you like? Is Manson considered a bad influence? Is it possible for them to have just become lost? We need to establish what kind of soup you like, that’s a prioritized question, answer me, damnit. More importantly, we just need to have a better understandin’ of what’s happenin’ around here. Have any other children went missing? If so, have they been located? You see, there is a lot of information we need, like your soup preference, but also if there is a bigger picture to be seen. And what of the other two children… Their names escape me, one moment….

Holding up a finger, Hayden replaced his faux glasses and searched through the documentation, attempting to find the names of the other missing children. In the meantime, whilst he scanned over the paperwork, he sniffed, “If any other inquiries, CO Gudleifr, please don’t let me stop you from asking.

The bullshit with this one is real.
Edited by kanna, May 11 2017, 03:51 AM.
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The sudden change in demeanor that Hayden displayed when talking with Mister Shonen indeed came as a marked surprise to the knight, as the charge that he had been ever worried about introduced himself with the brevity and professionalism befitting a man of his caliber. It was a welcome change from his relative behavior from before, and one that the soldier regarded with a slight smile. At least he had his act together when it came to the assignment; that much was good. Thus was it so that the soldier let the squire continue onward with his questioning of the man; clearly the man seemed well adapted to glean what he could from the conversation, a learning experience that the private too could supplement if need be.

Clearing his throat did the old man scratch his head ever so slightly, before proceeding to elucidate the squire upon what he had to say upon the situation.

"I haven't spoken with this Manson fellow, but he seems a real piece of work. Dresses up weird, carries around this guitar with him. A bad influence on any of my kids in my opinion, though Peas says he's just edgy, whatever that means. Though, if we're being completely honest, I haven't heard things about any other people disappearing, apart from those four. Oh, those poor little souls. Cabbages. Peas. Lettuce. William."

Again did Bys begin to break once more, a tear ever visible upon his visage. The four missing children had been one of the few cases of crime that had been reported thus far to the Knights, something that was understandably quite a dilemma. For these loved ones to have been lost, to be missing or worse yet, potentially no longer alive, was something that was indeed worrying, and for that did the private sympathize with the old man's plight. Nary but a scant few clues had been provided thus far; merely that the four children had wanted to play behind the school, that they were no longer there, and that a man named Manson seemed terribly suspicious, suspected of having been involved. There were a myriad of questions that continued to circulate within the private's mind, but from what Hayden had been able to glean, the old man knew only this much.

Furrowing his brow did the knight lean forward ever so slightly, before looking at Bys with concerned amber eyes.

"Mister Shonen, if I may, might you know where we could come into contact with this Manson that you speak of? Or rather, where this school within the town is?"

"Manson lives at the house at the top of the northern hillside, all by himself," stated the old man. "The school, on the other hand, is located not too far from the train station; it's two blocks to the north from here, close to the local Dawson."

At that did the knight nod in understanding, before shaking Bys's hand once more. That much was good enough to go off of; combined with what they had gleaned from what Hayden had successfully managed to obtain from the old man, chances were likely that at the very least the duo could start searching for what information they could gather of the children's whereabouts, and with luck retrieve them. With a cordial smile did the private thank Bys, while nodding to Hayden, appreciative of the professionalism that he had displayed throughout the conversation.

"Y-you knights'll bring them back safe though, right!? Right?"

As platters of food and skillets of meat began to arrive, so did the private's smile vanish momentarily, with a trace of uncertainty in its wake. It was a somber expression that had been present upon his face for ever the short while; one that neither guaranteed nor denied the man's plea. It was simultaneously an earnest expression, one of candor, that belied a sense of solemnity that was all too fitting with the particulars of the situation: Missing people, a potential kidnapping, with possible suspects.

"We'll do our best," said he simply.

Bys's eyes began to pool once more, as he wiped them with a handkerchief.

"Thank you...thank you.."

In silence did the three of them continue to sit, dispelled only by the arrival of the food that had begun to arrive for both the private and the squire. At that, did the knight gesture at a single menu that remained on the table, inviting for the old man to eat alongside them. But at that did he shake his head, before standing up.

"I shall...take my leave now. Once again...thank you, sirs."

And thus did he hobble out, just as the last platter of food had arrived.
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ಠ╭╮ಠ - Hayden’s inner expression during the explanation of Manson.

So, lemme get this straight… You don’t like this kid because he dresses weird, has a guitar, and is just generally different? Umm, that’s fucked, just sayin’. Bitter ol’ bastard - screw you, man. Don’t be judgin’ or hatin’ on the youngsters, that’s downright rude as hell. Though his thoughts were more judgmental than his client’s obvious disdain for the friendship between his children and Manson, Hayden’s own visage still held the potency of professionalism and genuine concern. He found the names of Lettuce and William further in the folder just as Bys had recited them as if such names were normal yet he had a problem with an abnormal kid named Manson playing with vegetables. Shameful, indeed. Internally, he rolled his eyes, exasperated with the whole situation that Ruslan had wide-ass openly shoved them into, and looked up from the paperwork to see Bys beginning to cry. The grief was evident and Hayden’s own love for children made him soften up a bit more, desiring nothing more than bring those kids home, but before he could say or do anything further, Ruslan spoke up to inquire more pertinent information.

"Mister Shonen, if I may, might you know where we could come into contact with this Manson that you speak of? Or rather, where this school within the town is?"

Listening to the response from their respective client, Hayden removed his faux glasses, slipping them back into the pocket of his jacket, and closed the folder before placing it between himself and Ruslan in the booth in efforts to clear the table. They finally had a place to start – Manson’s house located at the top of some random hillside like they had any idea where that even was but they’d manage somehow; of that, Hayden was entirely sure. While Ruslan was more the A-type personality, a person who relied on realism and factual evidence, Hayden was a B-type personality, a person that liked theory and creativity, a real-life MacGyver. The two could potentially work well together if Ruslan would allow Hayden to take charge, but everyone, including Bys, knew that it wasn’t going to happen like that, not in a million years. Alas, Hayden didn’t care about who was boss, who was captain, who was anything – his priority was completely fixated on finding the children and bringing them home. Well, that and the wonderful display of food that was being placed before him. Right now, that was the real MVP.

"Y-you knights'll bring them back safe though, right!? Right?"

"We'll do our best."

Ruslan’s statement lit a rage inside Hayden as he turned to narrow his eyes at his partner and silently, his golden hues violently reassured Ruslan that they would find them and bring them back safe… or else. The very few passions the Squire had were guarded for the most part but children, the pure of heart and innocent of this world, were among the top of his passions and he’d stop at nothing to ensure their safety – a partial heroism of his own. Though he didn’t contradict nor undermine his superior’s retort, Hayden seethed with anger as his attention went back to the steak and coffee. Suddenly, he’d lost his appetite, no longer wanting to eat, but the passing moment fled just as Bys took his leave and thanked the two for their offering of help. He waited until the client was finally gone, completely out of earshot, and abruptly slammed his fist on the table.

Whatchu mean, Rusty?!” Hayden growled and altered his voice to mimic Ruslan’s in a weak, effeminate tone to mock him, “We’ll do our best.

These are children, man, not criminals or random assholes, but kids. They ain’t done anythin’ wrong, just kids, and you’re all ‘yeah, yeah, we’ll try’. There ain’t gonna be a tryin’, Rusty. We’re gonna find ‘em and bring them back safe, or die tryin’ to do it.

The calmness and professionalism previously displayed was completely gone and Hayden gave absolutely no shits about who was listening or whether or not Ruslan had anything to say. His mind had been made up and allowing those children, the soup veggies and William, to be stranded and lost in the world, made a fire ignite in his belly. He genuinely cared about them, as if they were his own, and swiftly drank one cup of coffee while shoving bits of food into his mouth at the same time. In a hurry, Hayden choked on a string bean and clutched his chest, over-selling the idea of his untimely death, and absent-mindedly slapped Ruslan in the back of the head.

…the Heimlich! Gimme… the… Heimlich!

Truth be told, the Irons’ boy wasn’t choking anymore but just testing the waters with Ruslan’s orientation. His scattered mindset went from one thing to another and the thought of Jenny’s dismissal made him think that perhaps Ruslan wasn’t into girls. Either way, he didn’t judge, but wanted to know more about his fellow Knight and perhaps, this was one of several ways to go about finding out. Knowledge is power, afterall.

"Dun... dun let me... die, Rusty! Cough, gaggle, cough!"
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^ Mood.

As Hayden found himself thoroughly incensed by Ruslan's remarks did the private turn to him with an expression equal parts consternation and worry. Finding and bringing these children back was something that the soldier yearned to accomplish with all of his heart, something that he too silently burned with resolve to proceed through. Yet, at the same time were there a variety of potential issues to be considered. What if, Arlan forbid, the children had perished or were never to see the light of day again? How would he be able to face Mister Shonen in the eye once more, to shatter what little hope remained within the old man's soul by elevating his spirits only to douse them in the cold hard truth of a harsh reality? Already, the knight could recount when he and Cotter had first deployed together on that very campaign, to fight the Boscans at Kaspar Pass.

He could envision the Cotters in front of him as he ate: The warm face of Mr. Cotter when they promised to return alive. The tears evident on Mrs. Cotter's visage when that covenant was broken, only a few weeks later. It was a horrible feeling, having to relive through such familiar moments. Having to bear the burden of the death of others' loved ones, of having to see their relatives and companions break down and cry and bellow at the heavens in anguish. It wasn't easy for him to have to go through that, yet also wasn't easy for him to tell Mr. Shonen that they would simply try. Then again, it was still better than getting his hopes up; a statement subject to interpretation.

"You think this is fuckin' easy for me, Irons!? Well it's not," roared Ruslan in response to his charge. Slamming his fork onto the table, the knight continued to glare at Hayden, before returning to his meal. It was after all, better to stuff himself with food rather than dwelling on it.

"It's not..."

In silence did the soldier continue to eat once more, focusing instead on his already mostly finished meal as Hayden began to gorge himself also on his meal. The pancakes had already been devoured; the Hamburg steak no more. Merely naught but tomatoes and a half-empty milkshake was all that was left for him to finish. But as the Seveni prepared to finish his lunch did Hayden clutch his chest, before slapping the private upside the noggin.

“…the Heimlich! Gimme… the… Heimlich!”

"Shit, Hayden, hang on!"

Almost immediately did the private move deftly behind the squire, before exerting pressure upon the diaphragm of his comrade. Compress the lungs, expel the object. It was a maneuver that the soldier had partaken in as part of his basic training, rudimentary first aid and procedures. In that moment, was the Seveni thankful that he had stuck with that training course; in a situation where his companion seemed likely to fall victim to the food that he had swallowed, nay, inhaled with all due speed was that knowledge invaluable.

"You're going to be fine, lad. You're going to be fine."

Waving to a nearby server did Ruslan make several gestures with his hand, before lifting it up to his mouth in a facsimile of one drinking. They needed water. And thus did the server comply, hurrying back with a glass and a pitcher.

"Drink up. And eat more slowly. My word."

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Complete Trash

"Shit, Hayden, hang on!"

Hayden’s eyes widened as his body was abruptly shifted, sliding against the slick polyester of the booth’s seat, and the next he knew, Ruslan’s arms were wrapped around his chest. Wait, what’re you doin’? Don’t.. you’re gonna… break my ribs! But before he could object to the sudden impact of Ruslan’s fists into his chest, almost feeling as if his knuckles were crunching into the cavity itself, Hayden wheezed at the pressure on his lungs and coughed in objection, unable to speak or anything. Once Ruslan released him, he scrambled to pull himself from his superior’s grasp, finally realizing that the little shit was actually pretty strong, and scooted to the very edge of the booth to keep a good arm’s length between them. Staring at Ruslan with a terrified visage, he listened to his diagnosis – You’ll be fine. Yeah, well, that had already been established since he wasn’t really choking but almost suffocated due to Ruslan’s overly zealous attitude towards heroism. By god, that was his shtick, not Rusty’s.

Lifting up his shirt, the Squire managed to see the outline of an oncoming bruise marking the center of his chest and narrowed his eyes at the server who’d brought water. He shoved his shirt back down, turned his gaze towards Ruslan, and further squinted his golden orbes.

"Drink up. And eat more slowly. My word."

You almost killed me,” Hayden whipped back, maneuvering himself to grab the glass of water while absently pushing away the food, “Yeah, so, I’m gonna hit the head. I’ll be back in a few.

Chugging down the water, the aspiring Knight got out of the booth while rubbing his chest and placing the glass next to the pitcher and sauntered off to find the bathroom. On the way there, he spotted Ruth, the mean ol’ greeter that seated them, but she caught his line of sight and quickly turned the other way, obviously not wanting to interact with him again. That’s right, walk the other way, meanie. He smirked to himself as he went into the bathroom where he did his business, washed his hands, and generally bullshitted around for a few minutes; primarily looking at himself in the mirror. Shameless bastard. After all was said and done, he stepped out of the bathroom, shifted his eyes from side to side in search of Ruslan, and when he didn’t see him wandering around, he made a straight line for the exit. He giggled to himself as he Mission Impossible’d his way out of Kenny’s and waited at the opposite side of the entrance for Ruslan, propping one foot on the building while slipping his sunglasses back over his bloodshot eyes.

Once again, I’m waitin’ on Rusty,” he sighed, glancing at his wrist that held no watch.

In retrospect, Hayden realized that his Dine-N-Dash wasn’t the right thing to do, felt immediately guilty, and talked himself into going back in to pay for his meal, and probably Ruslan’s since it was at his request to eat anyways. He scratched his head as he went back inside, found their server, then promptly paid for both his meal and Ruslan’s, almost fifteen minutes after he’d left the table which essentially abandoned Ruslan. He made sure to leave a hefty tip, leaving himself pretty broke, but eh, it was just money, he could always make more, and went back to the table where Ruslan should be waiting for his return. A little guilt resonated through him, forcing him to inherently lie straight to his superior, “Sorry for takin’ so long. My stomach’s upset or somethin’. I don’t even know, man.

Rubbing his belly as he waved a free hand for the Knight to follow, Hayden turned around, sunglasses still over his eyes, and headed for the exit.

I’ve already paid, let’s go find them kids.
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