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Bunch of Bad Apples

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Click clack click clack

 

Scrr--- Riiiiiiiing

 

Click clack click clack

 

The echo of the typewriter could be heard echoing in the empty little rustic lounge, the smell of wood filling the nose, and the faint taste of tea still on the tongue. Gloved hands skillfully typed on the typewriter, typing to a rhythm to the song playing on the record player, the gramophone echoing the song into the room, and there near the counter of the room sat a man typing away.

Papers scattered on the table with ink letters still drying, freshly pressed, but even so the man continued to write. Write and write.

His eyes narrowed as he finished the final line and there on the fresh page of paper was a name. 

 

‘Byleth’.

 

That was his name. A name he once threw away but picked it up again after the ninth cycle of living. It was strange though to see that name on the paper after going through a cycle of names:

 

Benjamin, Bileth, Beleth, Bele, Beleto, Bell.

All unpleasantly familiar names to his first name.

Then again, another name that lingered on his history was Jeralt and another time he was called Sothis.

 

Oh dear, he thought as Byleth poured himself another cup of tea, he was already letting his mind wander off again. Perhaps it was due to his old age Byleth would wander off again. Sipping at the warm cup of tea, Byleth could taste the faint hint of berry as the flavor lingered on his tongue and he let out a small sigh. As he finished his cup of tea, Byleth set down the cup and began to gather the papers on his table with the rumble of the rain echoing outside. 

 

“Perhaps today isn’t a good day to write.”

 

Byleth took out a silver pocket watch and clicked it open, with the two black hands of the clock moving slowly. It was just about time he would need to open the little lounge he called ‘home’ for the customers to enter, and not to mention Byleth would rather not have another argument with that person again over him not being productive. 

He rose up from his seat and put away his typewriter, and quickly began to move around the lounge preparing himself before he looked out the window.

 

It was already starting to rain?

 

Perhaps if he was lucky he wouldn’t be getting any customers any time soon. Or so he would if it wasn’t for the fact Byleth could hear shuffling from outside and already he could tell who it was. Oh dear. He would need to put out a rug for customers today wouldn’t he? 

Byleth calmly began to clean up one table in the corner and double checked the plug ports. Despite how unfamiliar he was with modern technology, he had a duty to make sure his customers didn’t set his home on fire after all.

He straightened up and moved to the counter and began to boil water, as the doors slammed open and a ragged girl with bags in her arms stood there panting heavily. “Another day of deadlines Miss Berndetta?”

 

Panting heavily, the girl wheezed out but looked to Byleth with a small squeak,

“Oh yes!... Could I get a table of three? My umm.. Friends are gonna come help me today!... I hope you don’t mind owner.”

She walked over to sit at the table Byleth had prepared and quickly began to set up a tablet, as well as a few books to the side.

 

“Of course not.” Without missing a beat, Byleth made his way over the moment the girl had finished her organization and set down a mug of warm berry blend tea with a nod. The girl often had a habit of drowning herself into work right away so a durable mug was perfect for her at the moment. “Please enjoy.”

 

“Ahhhh your tea really is so soothing!” She quickly took the mug and held it for a few moments to bask in the warmth before sipping at it slowly. The flavor of the tea was soothed her body down to the core and chased away the chills from the rain, as Berndetta curled up in her seat in delight. “So warm.”

 

It was then the door burst open as two other men opened the door and Byleth bowed once to them before moving to the counter. For now he had two more cups of tea to make.

“Sorry! Ignatz and I got caught up in the train,” A man with soft grey hair spoke up and quickly made his way over while setting down the blue notebook that had the name ‘Ashe’ crudely written on the front cover.

Ignatz followed after and set up a tablet on the table as well, with him sighing, “Yeah it was pretty bad since people were trying to get away from the rain. But today let’s finish the fan book Bernadetta, plus this edition really is interesting though!”

 

Ashe nodded in agreement as he opened his notebook but he was grinning all the same at the mention of the story this time around, “Yeah! I was pretty much on the edge of my seat though at the parts you wrote up! Now let’s finish this up today so we can turn it in the publisher on time..

“Thank you two so much… ahh I’m sorry I didn’t finish…” She sighed meekly before Byleth slowly walked over to set down two mugs of tea, one mint and lavender before he looked to the group. These two would need some tea after all. “Oh! Thank you Owner!” “Mmm.. the mint always smells amazing..!”

 

To think the three of them simply met over ‘online’ and met as complete strangers here in this lounge quite a while ago. And now they were already working on books together, in a way Byleth felt a bit touched to see such a sight as Ashe and Ignatz sipped at the warm tea. “One of these days, perhaps you can let me one of your works,” Byleth hummed in thought before Ignatz raised an eyebrow.

 

“Maybe if you let us read one of your works too. You’re always writing in your spare time don’t you? Though.. Why a typewriter in today's times? I thought you would use a laptop if you want to publish it.” Ignatz had never seen Byleth really use many electronic appliances after all but it did add to the mystery that the owner of the lounge had. Rather maybe too MUCH mystery given how little Byleth talked about himself.

“... how would I be able to translate from the language to the current time though,” Byleth’s muttered under his breath as he began to think about the methods he could take to show his writing before he shook his head. “Maybe when I have the time. It’s not a language many can read.” Rather living beings couldn’t read the words he wrote so easily but he would keep that to himself for now. There was no use in scaring off the others at this time.

 

A rainy day meant not many would visit at least not in the manner Byleth expected. He glanced to the group working at the table and smiled as he looked to his pocket watch. Now…

 

Tick tock, tock tock.

 

The door opened up slowly as a woman with striking blond hair walked in armor, passing by the group quietly without catching their attention and moved to sit at the counter. It was already such a strange sight to any bystander and yet the group didn’t even notice. She didn’t speak a single word as Byleth set down a cup of liecster cortania and put a finger to his lips in a shushing manner, wanting the group at the table to have their peace. The women instead glanced over to the group working before tearing her attention away to whisper to Byleth,

 

“Well. I’m only here for your tea. I’ll be out shortly as long nothing happens.”

 

Byleth nodded once. That was all he needed the other to know given how usually the woman in front of him would be chatting away with him normally. Speaking of normal, Byleth watched as the door slowly began to open and close with customers filling in the seats one by one. Yet not a single foot step could be heard as many ignored the group at the table and took their own seats somewhere else. Byleth didn't hesitate however and began to serve the customers tea one bye one. Though one man in black at in the corner kept a harp eye stared at the group in the corner of the counter as Byleth set down a cup of coffee in front of him.

 

“Really. Are you still letting them in and yet they haven’t noticed us at all?”

 

Byleth was quiet at those words as he polished cups while customers finished their tea and left money on the table. He would go pick up the money later but for now Byleth glanced over to the man in the corner. “Our kind are quite quiet. Besides I do not hear complaints from you when that one person is here Hubert. Your lady also quite likes watching over ‘their’ kind too after all.” All he heard in response was a harsh tsk, not exactly fond of the answer Byleth gave him and instead sighed in defeat. There was no way he could convince the owner after all.

 

“... Well I suppose you do have your way of finding your own means this method as well. My lady also requests you visit her some time. She’s quite fond of the nights you come over. Even though it’s something I suggest against.”

 

“How honest.” Byleth set down a polished cup in the drawer and watched as Hubert rose from his seat, bowing once while leaving quietly with money on the table. So it was only the purpose of that message then. Byleth continued to work on polishing the cups before he looked to the woman in armor rising up as well as she left with a single nod. How nice, so they were leaving without much fuss this time hm? Perhaps seeing the frenzied work at the table scared them off.

 

Tick tock. Tick rock.

 

It had been an hour since Ignatz had started working when he looked up to see the lounge still empty and yet Byleth was currently washing dishes at the sink. Huh? When were there any customers? Ignatz looked around to see that the lounge looked mainly untouched and not a single trace that people were there.

Honestly the times Ignatz came here to work with his friends, he never really saw manu customers and even now he was wondering where were the majority of Byleth's customers. No matter what day they would drop by or even on weekends, there really was nobody here.

 

“Is something the matter?”

 

Ignatz jumped in his seat which caught the attention of Ashe and Bernadetta as they looked over to Byleth as well. Finding himself put on the spot did Ignatz managed to squeak out, “Oh uh I was just wondering where’s your customers. I do see some but it really seems like it’s mostly I really do like this place so I’m a little.. Worried. Is business okay?” 

“Mmm.. he does have a point,” Ashe nodded as he had some experience working in cafes and with his background being from a family that used to run a restaurant, “Owner do you need help getting customers? I know a few people who would love this place. I mean it’s rather relaxing to be in and your tea’s amazing.” If this place shut down then he wouldn't be able to enjoy such a peaceful place.

Though it was strange that the owner never really cooked either. It would definitely be more popular if there was food to enjoy with the tea but not once did he ever see Byleth ever go use the kitchen to cook. How strange.

“Ehhh but the mystery behind it is a bit romantic too! There’s some people though!... I think. But… owner if you also need help I can ask around too,” Bernadetta smiled meekly to Byleth. “You’ve always been a big help to us so..”

 

Byleth shook his head at that and instead continued to polish his tea set, “No it’s quite alright. You three should finish up hm?” After all, it wasn’t a big issue for him to not have customers right now and it wasn't like he had much interest in cooking. Though he would have to take that into consideration as Byleth looked outside while lost in his thoughts. “I do have the night portion to open the lounge too after all so if the day isn’t good, the night will cover for it.”

Leaving the three in their confusion did Byleth return back to his work and began to hum a low tune to the song playing on the recorder player. It was a nice day after all. By the time the three of them had finished though, Byleth soon was left alone again with an energetic promise from the three they would return another day that wasn’t impending deadline and he couldn't help but feel a bit amused.

 

How innocent.

 

Byleth picked up the three mugs the others had left behind to wash up in the sink and flipped the open sign on the door to be closed. They would open later tonight anyways and more importantly, he could focus on his real job. When he did open the door again to grab the small sign next to the door that said ‘Ashen Lounge’ he heard a low groan from the alleyway next door.

 

Oh dear.

 

Byleth let out a sigh before taking the white umbrella in the can next to the door, popping it open and held it in his black gloved hand. A striking contrast to his outfit, all in black, as if to blend in with the night and opened his mouth to see white puffs of his breath linger in the cold rainy air. 

 

Cold.

 

He began to walk out to the rain and towards where the sound was coming from. The source of the garbage gathering against his building from god knows where, but he didn’t find garbage however. Instead he found a young man with locks of golden hair and one eye bleeding, clad in black and blue and a crumbled up photo in hand.

What did surprise him was how creatures hovered over him with heavy breaths and crazed red eyes bulging to dart around to the young man and Byleth. They were aware of him and worse of all they seemed to have formed. Byleth let out a small hum in appreciation that something was different than the usual issues he dealt with. 

Though there was quite a bit he had to say of white hands grasping at the other’s legs.

 

Byleth began to approach the strange sight and he closed the white umbrella, easily jamming the umbrella into the eyeball of the black creature hovering over the boy and twisting it to throw the creature into the pile of monsters. He took a deep breath before slowly Byleth breathed out a word that twisted and turned in the air, turning into a quiet shrill of power. Sheer power that pushed the creatures away into a frenzied fear as they scattered along the muddied brick wall and into the dark night.

 

“....”

 

Slowly he looked to the young man in the trash and he took out his pocket watch to check the time. It was already opening time and he couldn't exactly stand out in the rain with this person here in the trash like this.

 

“I suppose I can count him as my first customer of the night.”

 


 

 

 

At the door where the sign that once said the Ashen Lounge, slowly began to shift into a different scramble of words and slowly began to form into the words:

 

Divine Room,

 

The shop of dreams and wishes, accepting all and any form of payment