What a day it was. One stupid event after another on this dreary-ass morning, like a miserable cavalcade of idiocy.
Not only was Aedus mostly blind and unable to focus his vision with Extrasensory, but now he was outnumbered by four little brats, one of whom was the perpetrator of this unnecessary, preventable crime. It was a miracle he had been able to detect their faint signals through whatever mental concentration he could muster; though now, his good fortune had swiftly faded.
If only he hadn’t gotten that cold; if he’d been able to use his (fairly meager) psychic powers to detect that Nuzleaf among his doppelgangers; Aedus would have halted him, preventing his chances of earning a Star Coin from getting jeopardized. Granted, he was paid moderately well working as a tour guide, but still; screwing up a chance to prove himself to the elite? The vanguard of the Hunters’ Guild?
No. That could not happen.
“Alright, you little punks,” the furious Vulpix said as he took a step toward them as a wave of searing flames churned within his jaws; even if he was blind, he could still feel their tiny signals around him, and that was all he needed. “I have just about had it with all this nonsense. Give up your buddy, and I’ll forget I saw you.”
“You and what army, bud?” the Bulbasaur shouted. His voice was dweeby, so it was hard to take him seriously.
“You think you can take us all by yourself?” the Pikachu chimed in; he was only eleven, judging from the sound of his cracked voice. He was just hitting puberty.
“Yeah, who do you think you are?” yelled the Chimchar; he sounded the most high-pitched and childish. These kids were angry; irritated thanks to their unfulfilled bellies. They were ready for a fight. The flames on Aedus’s tails intensified as he felt their signals get closer…
Aedus stayed on-guard; the other three kids stayed where they were. Jeoffrey, the Nuzleaf, stepped forward to defend himself and his friends.
“Just please leave us alone, mister,” the Nuzleaf said, doing his best to remain confident. His voice wasn’t as wimpy anymore. “All we want is to eat before the blizzard comes in. Just please, leave us alone. We don’t wanna fight you.”
“Yeah, maybe you should’ve thought of that before robbing us.” Aedus didn’t hesitate to throw the Nuzleaf’s crime back in his face. “You’ve got a lot of nerve stealing from the Hunter’s Guild, buddy.”
“You don’t get it, do you?”
“No, I don’t. Care to tell me why, before I kick your ass?”
Jeoffrey sighed, tilting his head down and closing his eyes. This next part was painful for him to tell; still…
“We got kicked out.” That caught Aedus’s attention; his rage calmed slightly.
“Come again?” The fox’s flames died down a bit, but still remained lit.
“We used to live in an orphanage until they took it away. They said they wouldn't let us live there anymore. There were ten of us, trying to survive."
“…Were?” Aedus asked warily.
“One of us just…stopped moving.” Grief took hold, and he wailed his little heart out. Aedus looked away; not only were these kids orphans, but one of their friends was dead? This was way too much for any of them.
He thought of how Bernard might defuse situations like this, and gulped. He never bothered to come with him to help out any of the kids; looking back on it now, he regretted that.
Still, he had to try.
“Look, kid, I’m sorry you lost your friend; I really am.” He stepped forward cautiously. “But, you know, it's not entirely the end of the world. You guys have made it this far because you didn't give up on each other.”
“…” Jeoffrey sniffled; he stood there as tears and snot poured out like waterfalls. “…You’re just saying that cause you feel sorry for me.”
“No way; I’m serious!” Aedus cracked a huge grin. “You're strong because you rely on each other to survive; you're alive because you trust in your friends, and that the trust in you!” Jeoffrey looked up at him; the Bulbasaur, Pikachu and Chimchar all looked amazed.
“Y-you think so?”
“Yeah!” Aedus patted his shoulder. “Your friends should be proud to have a guy like you looking out for them!” Said friends all smiled, walking over to Aedus; Jeoffrey threw himself at the fox, wrapping his arms tightly him.
“Th-thank you so much, m-mister!”
“Uh, aheh…. Okay kid, uh, you’re welcome.” Jeoffrey pulled away, a little embarrassed about what he did; his friends all laughed, teasing him for it. They all laughed; they were just glad things didn’t get any worse. Their joy simmered down; the little Nuzleaf crossed his arms.
“Wow, Bernard was right about you, Aedus,” he said, smirking.
“About what?” So Bernard's been blabbing about me; guess I shoulda seen that coming.
“You really are a big softy.”
“Ah, wh-wha??” He crossed his arms, pointing his nose toward the sky; they all just laughed at him, enjoying how embarrassed their former pursuer was. “N-no I’m n-not!! I-it’s m-my duty to help the poor is all! I-it’s all for a good cause!”
“Suuuuuuuuuuuure it is!” chimed the Chimchar. The Bulbasaur and the Pikachu just giggled themselves silly watching this scene take place.
"Aww, big brother Aedus is so cute when he's embarrassed!" the Pikachu said, laughing.
“Sh-shut up!!” Their mirthful laughter kept echoing as Aedus felt beaten by his overwhelming embarrassment.
The day was done, and the two Hunters found themselves in Teresa’s office in the Explorer’s Guild headquarters. The room was littered with paperwork; it was obvious she’d been pretty busy dealing with written applications and completed errands, and it showed on her face, too. Seeing the two return to report on a job well-done was both heartening, yet stressful at the same time.
“Thank you both on a job well-done; your work, uh, was incredibly invaluable today!” she said as she handed them their Star Coin via her Vine Whip; Aedus took it with a grin plastered on his face.
“Ah, it was no biggie!” the fox said, beaming with pride. “All in a day’s work, right, Bernard?”
“Yes, quite,” the old turtle replied, clearing his throat. “We’ve had no complications in dealing with this errand in any way. None whatsoever.” Something caught his attention, then; from the window right behind Teresa sprouted a tiny little face peeking out from the bottom. It was Jeoffrey, breathing on the glass, writing a little message in the fog: “Thanks for the food, Uncle Bernard!”
“Hm??” From where she was sitting, she couldn’t really see the writing. After a few seconds, Teresa turned to look at the two Hunters, who just stood there, waiting.
“Erm, Bernard, we’d better get back home—“ He nudged the turtle with his elbow. “--there’s a dish you’ve been meaning to teach me, right?”
“Wha-- Oh, ahm, yes! Yes, indeed! I’ve been trying to help Aedus cook for a while, now! He’s still rough around the edges, but he’s learning, certainly! Yes, he’s learning, alright.. We shall see you later, ma’am!” The two hastily absconded, leaving a confused Teresa to wonder what was going on.
“Now what in the world…?”