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Bunch of Bad Apples

Chapter Text

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

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Darkness.

 

That was all that he could see. Ah how cold it was and yet there wasn’t a time he didn’t know this feeling with all the despair and hate drowning him each moment he lived.

After all, this world seemed so barren to his eyes and so cruel. 

 

Just him in this rotten world. The world simply revolved in his darkened universe of blood and horror haunting at him at every corner where all he could see was ghosts that clung to him.

 

Whispering, pleading, begging

Clawing, shrilling, 

And slowly tearing his soul apart little by little.

It was even worse because only him alone would be able to hear such horrors and nobody else.

 

Ah.. how tired he was. Was he actually dreaming for once without those accursed whispers in his ears? Perhaps the rain was already dragging him to his death? He had been fighting such things almost his whole life but he was so tired. Far too tired with fighting for his life and trying hard to survive for the sake of people he once knew, that Dimitri felt the pain slowly seep into the depths of his body.

 

It was then he felt a hand on his cheek and yet in that dark world he saw green eyes stared down at his own. Who? The eyes were strangely comforting and yet he couldn't tell who it was as Dimitri closed his eyes once more. It was just an empty dream again after all. There was no need for such comforting dreams after all, he lost the right to such warmth when Dimitri survived when the people he loved died. He couldn’t feel anything in this depth of the darkness and yet the warmth was still there in front of him.

 

 Almost lulling him to a gentle sleep in this dark world of his.

 


 

 

Click clack click clack

 

Scrr--- Diiiiiiiing

 

The sound of the bell was enough for his eyes to snap open, as the young man sat up and gripping on his chest while panting heavily. What was that bell? A type writer? He looked over around the room in panic before seeing a man sitting at a table near the couch the young man was sleep on, and he took in the man's appearance. Teal hair and purple eyes that stared down at the typewriter. That motion was enough to pull Byleth’s attention and looked towards the young man resting on his plush couch with a raise of an eyebrow. Oh his customer woke up? How strange, normally when he enjoyed his meals nobody was aware of such things.

 

Well..

 

Byleth rose up from his seat before he headed over and looked to the young man to look over his state. He wasn't as pale anymore which was a goo sign to him as Byleth nodded, “You’re awake. Good. I was wondering if I need to start shaking you awake. I took the liberty to change your clothes and clean you up. Free service.” Though the man's size had made it difficult for Byleth to clean up with the fact the man weighed quite a bit despite the malnourished state the other was in.

 

Those words startled the other on the couch however before he began to search for something, and saw the crumpled photo smoothed out next to him. Of course Byleth did that much for him, he thought, seeing how the customer looked slightly relieved seeing his items was safe. Byleth took out a clipboard with a notebook attached and a pen in hand, notes already written down that detailed the other's situation so far.

 

“Now is there anything you need to know-”

“... my eye..!?” 

 

Goodness was he still not aware? Actually why was this person still interrupting him before Byleth could explain exactly what had happened? Byleth’s eyes glanced up look at exactly the cause of the other's panic: mismatching eyes, one of a pristine blue and another a silver eye. Really, Byleth sighed as he spoke up in order to explain, “Yes yes I took the liberty to patching up your eye. Now shush. I need to go through the motions first-”

It was then Byleth felt himself slammed against the wall and the other man’s hands balled up into his clothes, lifting him up against the wooden walls of the lounge. He almost dangled above the floor a few inches but Byleth could only stare at the other with a nonchalant stare. Oh dear did he startle him? Right perhaps names were in order.

 

“Dimitri correct? I looked into your items and saw your id card. Now Dimitri please calm down. You were rather beaten up from the ghoul you were dealing with.”



Those words backfired as Dimitri lifted Byleth higher in the air with his arms positioned to almost choke Byleth on his grip and all Byleth could manage to do was stare again with a bit of annoyance bubbling on the surface.

Perhaps it was best to treat this man like a rabid dog. Goodness.

 

“How do you know what the hell that thing is? Give me the answers damn it! And my eye..! That… thing stabbed it!”

Dimitri shook in his spot while Byleth lifted his two hands to clap with a monotone voice, “Oh wow so you are more capable than I thought. Amazing. Amazing. Such a wonder.”

And Dimitri added that more pressure on the man with a growl on his mouth. All right perhaps being a little sassy wasn't the best choice here, Byleth concluded, as he continued to stare at Dimitri and watched as the young man managed to choke out.

 

“Just.. what the hell do you know!?”

 

Byleth sighed despite the pressure and lifted his hand out out to Dimitri’s silver eye, thumb holding on to his middle finger before letting go in a powerful flick. The flick was powerful enough to send Dimitri tumbling to the couch and Byleth adjusted his clothes without missing a beat. He really shouldn't have been grabbing at people like that. Honestly who caught this boy manners?

“If you would let me explain. I can answer all your questions you may have.” He brushed off the dust as Dimitri held on to his eye with an annoyed growl. Really what a child! At least to Byleth’s eyes he was as he moved to sit across Dimitri who gave him a glare with his blue eye and hand covering his other eye. Good at least that little flick got the boy to behave a little.

Now was a good time to explain as Byleth held on to his notebook and began to write.

 

“To explain. Ghouls are beings filled with malicious feelings. Hate, revenge, despise. All sorts of nasty little things. However they normally seem to eat other non material things such as memories or even emotions off their host. Have you seen someone you know transform into a completely different person without any reasons?”

“... yes.”

 

Ah ha! Now they were getting somewhere. Byleth nodded as he began to tap his pen and pointed it at Dimitri’s hand covering the boy's newly found silver eye.

“Now to explain that little thing. Your eye was completely dug open but luckily for you I had a spare eyeball to use to fix that up. You may have some side effects though. Something along the lines of… seeing the supernatural more clearly than ever.”



“WHAT!?”

 

Dimitri jolted up but winced as he held his eye once more, falling back to his seat in pain from being flicked earlier. Still that news left Dimitri unnerved while Byleth began to twirl his pen without a care in the world to the boy's internal demise.

“Now now. You were already very close to the supernatural. When I found you there were hands grabbing on to you. But they left earlier very easily.”

Perhaps it was because of him, he could conclude but Byleth kept that to himself as he looked to Dimitri’s confused expression.

 

Oh so he didn’t know?

 

“Have you had horrible dreams? They are the cause of it, they cling to the living as a ‘memory’, but also bring with them blessings… or curses.”

Byleth knew very well how they often ruined the living world but yet humans kept them around the same. It was as if they wished to be with the living no matter what form it took, as long they held regrets they would always linger forever more but truthfully?

 He couldn’t comprehend such a troublesome thing.

 

“... why did you help me?” Dimitri’s voice was quiet as Byleth looked to the young man, before holding up a crudely drawn flyer with childish doodles on it.

 


 

 

 

Welcome to the Divine Room!

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

Please come drop by for free fish! :)))

Or Tea!!!

 


 

It was some of his prized works of art after all and Flyan seemed to like it! The flyer would be enough information and it was pleasant to look at, that Byleth had faith it would catch the interest of customers.

 

“I happen to run this business outside of my lounge during the day time. And you happened to be outside the moment I opened shop! Of course I don’t mind if you wish to hire me for my services. So please let me know of your dreams and hopes Dimitri-”

 

“I don’t have any.”

 

It was as if it followed it’s owner’s mood as the record player scratched in response as Byleth stared at Dimitri with a dumb founded stare. Wait. What? “Not one? Any? What about the truth of whatever caused your worries?”

“I rather do that on my own, keep your neck out of my business.” Dimitri growled in annoyance while Byleth twitched. Was Dimitri that undesirable of a human being or was he just stubborn? How frustrating. Any humans had their own wishes and Byleth's business relied on such human desires to keep functioning. 

Even so Byleth sighed and shook his head. He couldn't pressure Dimitri but there was ONE thing he could to bait the other.

 

“Now now there should be something? I could take out your little ghouls so easily.”

“You know how to deal with them?!”

 

Oh? How unexpected so rather than wish for Byleth to get rid of his issues, he wanted to learn how to fight off ghouls on his own? Byleth looked over to Dimitri as he looked at him head to toe. So this boy wanted to know how to deal with the supernatural for his own goals in the end. Hmm, for a human it was impossible but if it was someone that had already the capabilities to see the supernatural?

 

It was a completely different song all together.

 

“... Payment. I need payment from you. Of course though I don’t need actual money I have no use from it.” Byleth looked at Dimitri from head to toe again before snapping his fingers. Now there was one solution to his other issue with the lounge during the day time. “I do need help with the lounge and shop. You will learn from watching me so you will help me out with the second job I do.” 

It wasn't such a bad deal no?

Byleth watched carefully as Dimitri grew quiet at those words and almost pondering on the choice he had offered Dimitri for his 'payment'.

 

“... That’s it?” 

“That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less.”

 

The silence slowly dragged on from the both of them and Dimitri was glancing around in thought once more. Was the other considering the offer?

Byleth watched carefully before slowly he got up from his feet and moved to the kitchen. For now… he needed to calm the other boy down as Dimitri was still thinking. It would be much easier to deal with him when the other was calmer though what would be a good tea? Chamomile? Perhaps that would be good. Byleth moved to start brewing the tea and going through the motions of making the tea as he looked to Dimitri still quiet on the couch.

After some moments of brewing the tea and pouring the tea in a teacup did Byleth set down the tea in front of Dimitri. The scent of the tea lingered in the room and the steam tickled at Dimitri's nose as he stared withdead eyes before calmly talking it and took a single sip. However, what happened next was Dimitri began to sip at the tea even more reverently with his eyes widen and he muttered softly,

 

“I can taste..”

 

Taste?



Byleth blinked as he went over and looked over Dimitri trying to blow on the tea to cool it down faster. What a drastic reaction from his tea... Could this boy not taste before? Was it because of the barrier he set up in this house to ward off spirits of ill will? Fascinating.. So the barrier was strong enough against those ghosts that clung on to Dimitri? But how? He didn't put anything in particular in the barrier Byleth made. But even with those thoughts all Byleth did was watch Dimitri finish the tea before curling up in a ball on the couch.

 

What kind of past did Dimitri have?

 

Still… since he would have a sort of apprentice from now on did Byleth walk upstairs and adjusted his black leather gloves. There was still that spare room next door to his room after all. Though it certainly did need quite a cleaning after using that room for strange. For now he all he could do was clean the room to a livable state.

It was after some time of cleaning did Byleth set down clean clothes for Dimitri and as well as other necessities on the bed, did he return downstairs to see Dimitri still curled up on the couch. Hmm.. perhaps he needed to be a bit more gentle with his treatment with this boy. Such a sensitive soul.

“I prepared a room for you upstairs, it will be a room with a blue ribbon tied on the knob. It is yours to use freely I’ve also left a spare key for you and your uniform to wear. I’ll close up shop a bit early but… is there anything you wish to eat?”

Dimitri quietly gathered his things near him as he slowly made his way towards the stairs, but he stopped to mutter softly, “... I don’t trust you right now but this is better than anything I’ve done for myself. So I’ll say this at least. Thank you.” 

 

Oh.

Well, he really did have his cute side then!

 

Byleth raised an eyebrow before he waved a hand, “Again. What would you like to eat? I can prepare it for you.” Food would do wonders on the other at the moment given how malnourished Dmitri looked.

 

“.... Gratin is fine.”

 

With that said Dimitri had went upstairs to the room and Byleth sighed. Gratin huh? Did he have ingredients for cooking decent meals still? Perhaps he would need to do some special deliveries first.

 


 

 

In Dimitri’s personal room, the young man was laying in the bed with the pajamas that the stranger had given him and sighed. Clean clothes after so long was such a strange thing as he looked to his normal clothes folded up nearly on top of the drawer and his other items like his wallet. Byleth really did clean him up completely and even this room was nicer than the places Dimitri was used to sleeping at, save for his friends' places when things got too much.

It was too much to just accept all of it however, and even more so from some stranger who picked him up from the garbage dump. For now he would learn as fast as he could then return to finding out the truth of his family’s murder and leave quietly without bothering Ethylene. He looked to the crumpled photo of his that had him with his family happily smiling in front of an amusement park yet a corner stained with blood.

Dimitri couldn't help but sigh and balled up a bit more on the cleaned bed and held the photo close to him.

He couldn’t trust that person or anyone, not even himself in this shit world. Nobody was safe in Dimitri's eyes and not to mention how could he trust anyone after that day? After all he always lived this way ever since the horrific murder of his parents when he was ten, the only way Dimitri had survived was because of a bus delay.

He couldn't forget that sight of foul spinney creatures that bent and broken around him, whispering and shrilling or words of madness in his ear when Dimitri found the bodies of his parents. Were they spirits of his parents? Or rather the grudges in a cruel form that was bent on haunting him? He didn't know but Dimitri wanted someone to help him, save him from this hell Dimitri had found himself in.

 

Yet nobody could see him in his day to life, even when Dimitri had decided to bare it with a forced smile.

 

Not even when his friends were just chatting or eating lunch, he would see those strange beings lean over and breathing over them. It was sickening to see the heavy hot breathing creatures on them end the only way he could keep them off his friends were making roughly made charms. Any day they could be taken away too from him cruelly like his family.

 

He didn’t want anymore taken from him so Dimitri had decided to throw everything away to find out exactly what caused that brutal murder and the reason why he saw such things. 

 

But even the effort to warding them off was starting to ruin Dimitri’s life, with one creature somehow replacing his adoptive uncle and caretaker. No rather they were following THEIR desires from the way their eyes seem to turn into vicious demons when it came to his inheritance to his family’s wealth. The attempted murders and the way his own family wished nothing more for that delicious wealth his family left for him, all for themselves.

 

It was horrible.

 

He had no home to truly run away to, not even Rodriguez could help him less the court system wasn't twisted to Cordelia's favor due to her hand in the judicial system. Even living with his supposed guardian made him terrified all the same with Dimitri trying to avoid all contact with Cordelia or his uncle, with nothing more for Dimitri's mental torment chasing him all the same in the form of those mosnters. All Dimitri could do was hide away in libraries or run to friends houses occasionally, running away each night to the point he had to drop out of college.

For Dimitri it seemed easier to vanish off the map from everyone while keeping track of what the rest of his family was doing: which mostly fell under trying to find Dimitri to make Dimitri fork over his supposed wealth. All he wanted was to know the truth and  nothing else that Dimitri found he was far more focused on those goals of finding out who killed his family. 

 

But it was then one creature attempted to attack him and all he earned was a ripped off eyeball by that creature shrilling and laughing at him. Laughing, mocking, tasting that eyeball that was once Dimitri's before Dimitri had ran off in the dark of that night and trying to handle the pain itself.

Hospitals were out of the question for him, they gathered far more there and almost preying on those ill. If he stepped in there in this state then it would simply be be walking to a den of beasts, as those creatures ate off those weaker than them and Dimitri had though he would simply fade away into the darkness.

Yet when he came to there was someone who was far stronger than those ghosts and demons that haunted his life, offering him a new chance to learn how to combat his evils. Even now it seemed too good to be true but here he was in a warm bed, with a flicker of hope.

 

Dimitri sighed as he rolled over in his side and looked to the door. Who was that stranger anyways? He knew Dimitri’s name but it wasn’t fair he didn’t get to know the other man’s. Especially if he was supposedly going to work the other for a while.

It was then the door opened and Byleth stepped in with his clothes in a mess, and a gratin in his gloved hands. What in the world? Dimitri sat up to see Byleth was covered in all sort of smoke and food stains on his clothes, until he saw Byleth set down the gratin on the desk. Did something happened while he was resting!? Was it a ghoul!?

 

“I had to ask someone to send me some food but I didn’t think her heating methods were so horrid. So I had to make another from scratch. You should eat up and recover your energy Dimitri.”

 

Oh. Oh it was just Byleth cooking? Byleth lifted the gratin with a puff in his chest, almost PROUD of his work, but Dimitri wasn't too sure if it was any good either from the smell. Still, Dimitri slowly made his way out of bed and walked over to see the perfectly made gratin, save for some charred bits as he glanced to Byleth. He even made him dinner the way he asked? Why go so far? And even now there was one glaring issue.

 

“.... I never got your name.”

 

Byleth blinked. Ah right that was an issue the needed to solve. He certainly couldn't be unnamed in front of Dimitri, especially since he would be teaching the other from now on. He nodded once before he bowed once to Dimitri in a formal manner, a silly sight in his horrid appearance, as Byleth spoke up, 

 

“I am the owner of the Ashen Lounge and Divine Room. Byleth. I do not bare a last name but you may call me either way. I also may respond to the following: Benjamin, Bileth, Beleth, Bele, Beleto, or bell-”

 

Which one is it!? Don’t make it so complicated Byleth!

 


 

 

Dimitri had found out later, once Byleth left, that while having taste was both a miraculous thing that nearly made him cry it certainly made him almost cry for a different reason when half way through the gratin he chewed on a crunchy celery in the gratin that tasted like sandpaper.

 

Perhaps not having taste was a blessing..

 

Chapter Text

A polished cup was the image of perfection in Byleth’s eyes. With the right shine and the perfect brew of tea, it made the tea almost like a perfect scene for a painting in his eyes.

That was how his mornings went and after the rain cleared up and with the sky a stunning mix of scarlet and gold to greet him, Byleth could easily call it a perfect morning as he took the cup of his special apple tea and sipped at it. Sweet yet with a faint tartness that seemed to tickle at his tongue.

At least until he heard loud thumps upstairs and a muffled swears upstairs that Byleth set down his cup of tea. Goodness his little apprentice was such a handful already this morning? Though he really should start on making breakfast soon for Dimitri since Byleth had already gotten his fill of food already from finishing leftovers Flynn gave to him last night.

 

Not that it was easy to ever stomach her food even for someone like him.

 

He got up from his chair to leave his tea be and made the stride to the kitchen, where Byleth had set down fresh ingredients he bought at the morning farmers market two streets down Main street and hummed in thought. What did growing boys like to eat anyways? Perhaps something hearty given Dimitri was slowly recovering after feeling sick at the gratin he asked Flynn to send to him.

 

Was her cooking truly that vile to human beings? He always thought Seteth was joking the whole time but to think he got to see the effects in full effect, it was quite a wonder to see. Given Flayn’s cooking was well received by supernatural beings, Byleth thought it would be a treat for Dimitri who seemed to have the abilities to see the supernatural but only to throw up at the taste.

 

For now Byleth grabbed a pan and turned on the stove, calmly taking out a butter knife from the draw to get a knob of butter and letting it sit in the slowly heating pan. Perhaps simple was best. Eggs and bacon would do the job for now as Byleth watched the butter melt away to the sound of thumps upstairs and Dimitri swearing still.

 

Goodness.

 

Byleth sighed as he grabbed two slabs of bacon and tossed it into the pan as it landed with a loud sizzle that was pleasant to the ears. Before Byleth could enjoy the atmosphere of this fine morning did he hear Dimitri swearing once more and the sound of things being shifted up stairs. Really he just wanted to enjoy his time this morning. 

 

Without any hesitation, Byleth cracked opened four eggs on to the large pan and slowly turned the knob to lower the heat. With no threat of food overcooking, Byleth made his way to his music player and grabbed one record in the record CD shelves before putting the cd on the gramophone. He gently placed the small needle on the cd and turned it on, as slow jazz music began to fill the room and drowning out the noise upstairs.

 

He didn’t particularly care why Dimiri was so noisy this morning but at least Byleth wanted to make breakfast in peace, a thought that was on Byleth’s mind while he returned to the kitchen to check on the food. The eggs were slowly becoming a pristine white and yellow with the bacon slowly becoming crisp, the sound of the sizzle of the pan soothing away Byleth’s earlier annoyance.

 

While he never needed to eat human food, the way food was cooked for humans was enjoyable for Byleth and frankly humans couldn’t appreciate these simple little things in life. Much like Dimitri who seemed too focused on whatever goal he had, and that thought made Byleth sighed. Humans sure had far too many issues on their hands sometimes.

 

Turning down the heat once the eggs and bacon were cooked, Byleth easily tossed in two slices of white bread in the hand held toaster and cheese sandwiched between them. Byleth closed the contraption and held it over the flame of the gas stove, his foot tapping along with the smooth jazz. A slow morning was truly the peak of bliss-

 

“You… have.. Way too much crap in that room!” 

 

Cutting into the peaceful atmosphere did Byleth look up and glanced towards Dimitri who looked about tired, shirt sleeves rolled up with a frown on his face. So Dimitri was cleaning up his own room? Really it wasn’t that many things as Byleth simply shrugged.

 

“Just a few things I received from payment before. I suppose you moved everything to the hallway.”

“A giant suit of armor was sitting in that closet in that room.” Which was strange to see when Dimitri wanted to put away some of his things and he frowned, “And some other boxes where making me cough so I moved that stuff there, the amount of things you have in there are ridiculously heavy.” 

 

Dimitri sighed before moving to sit down on the counter table. and looked to Byleth’s hands moving the sandwich presser over the flame. But what caught his attention was the scent of cheese. Now that he could taste again food seemed rather appealing to Dimitri, especially since it had been so long since he could taste one of his former favorite meals. He really was slowly being won over by his stomach to behave a little, but he still kept his wits.

 

After that dish he had last night there was no way this could turn out that well!

 

Though if Byleth knew any better, he swore he could see a bit of drool running down Dimitri’s mouth as Byleth opened the sandwich presser and tossed the stuffed cheese sandwich on a plate. The eggs and bacon followed along and Byleth set the food on the counter in front of Dimitri.

 

Dimitri gulped before he reached out for the sandwich and took a bite into the hot sandwich, jolting at it near seared his tongue. Yet the taste of savory cheese filled his mouth and he swallowed slowly.

 

This taste…!

 

How long had it been since he could enjoy this warm sensation of cheese and the richness of the flavor in his mouth?

 

At that realization did Dimitri began to eat ravenously into his meal by putting the egg and bacon into the sandwich, all with a frennzy. Dimitri could almost feel relief and delight bubble in him when he saw Byleth walked over and stand behind him.

As the young man attempted to glance back, he felt Byleth’s gloved hand grip on his head and force Dimitri to turn around towards the food with a huff.

 

“Stay still while you eat,” Byleth dug into his vest pocket and took out a silver comb as well as a black scrunchie with a tense stare. “Your hair is a mess and I will not have my employee looking like a slob.”

“I’m fine. I don’t need your help,” Dimitri began until Byleth began to comb at Dimitri’s hair and almost purposely tugged hard at the tangles.

 

“OWOWOWOW! STOP THAT!”

 

Dimitri’s voice bombed but Byleth still kept grooming him with the silver comb, black scrunchie pinched between his lips.

It was a few painful moments until Byleth finally finished his work, with a majority of Dimitri’s hair tied back in a half ponytail and Dimitri growling from the pain of Byleth’s grooming.

 

“Did you REALLY have to do that!? That hurt…. Tsk…” 

 

Still despite Dimtiri was grumbling at him did Byleth shift his body over and took the time to examine Dimitri’s looks.With the grooming he looked presentable but the mannerism while eating was far too much for Byleth to handle as he stared at Dimitri’s yolk stained fingers holding on to the half eaten sandwich.

 

“.. what?” 

 

Dimitri raised an eyebrow he licked at his fingers before seeing Byleth simply stare right at him back. Honestly what did this man want from him? Dimitri was about to finish his meal before Byleth sighed. 

 

“I was simply thinking you certainly do not act twenty three.” He sighed once more before Dimitri huffed and finished his meal, popping the sandwich in his mouth and took the plate to the sink. It wasn’t like Dimitri wanted to act this way either and began to clean the dish and the pan sitting in the sink, yet Byleth blinked rapidly.

 

He didn’t have to clean it.

 

Yet there Dimitri was cleaning it with mutter grumbles that Byleth was left staring. Huh. So he wasn't fully void of manners. Yet he couldn’t help but reach out, petting Dimitri’s head with a mannerism of praising a child.

 

“Good boy. I didn’t even have to ask you to clean up.”

 

After all that kind of behavior deserves all the praise and Byleth had seen Seteth praise Flayn this way before.

What Byleth didn’t expect though was Dimitri staring at him with wide eyes and slowly his face grew red by the second, quickly smacking away with a growl. “Don’t do that. I’m just doing my part since I’m staying here until I learn your methods that’s all.”

 

Really…

 

Byleth moved his hand away at that but he did take some amusement in Dimitri’s behavior. What a dishonest boy but at the same time he wasn’t a bad person either, even last night when he saw the hands clinging on to Dimitri it was how Byleth knew this person didn’t seem all that bad despite the anger.

 

“You’re quite a magnet for the supernatural since you’re that kind of person.”

 

After all spirits clung on to those truly good willed and wanting to bask in their warmth, especially since their souls were easier to take over. And yet this person in front of them seemed to have lived with the burdens all his life without hesitation, a thought that lingered on his mind as Byleth moved to grab his typewriter from the drawer.

 

“Now, I’ll be busy writing for the most part but after washing the dishes, be sure to get changed into your uniform and come downstairs,” Byleth opened his pocket watch and glanced at the black hands on his pocket watch ticking away, it would be time for them to open up the lounge after all.  

 

Dimitri stared at the other man with a dumbfounded stare before his face slowly crumpled up into an annoyed frown. Yet he couldn’t exactly protest against Byleth and instead focused on cleaning the dishes in front of him.

 


 

By the time Dimitri finished cleaning the dishes and made his way back to his room, he saw a neatly folded waiter uniform on the top of his bed.

 

Ugh.

 

Right he had to help out. Not that he was planning to do anything in particular but it would be best to just follow the directions for now. With that in mind Dimitri slowly shrugged off his clothes and began to get changed into the uniform.

 

He barely put it on with a lack of interest in fully dressing up, and Dimitri looked at himself in the mirror tucked in the corner of his room. The dress shirt was tucked into his pants yet the top had a few buttons undone, as well as the vest was left on, and the tie was loose on him. Perhaps too casual but it was comfortable enough for Dimitri.

 

"... this should do."

 

Dimitri slowly began to walk downstairs to hear rapid mechanical tapping and a ring that followed after.

 

Click clack click clack

 

Scrr--- Diiiiiiiing

 

That sound, he heard it before last night too but Dimitri didn't know what it was. He walked down the last step to see Byleth there on a table and tapping away at an old black type writer laced with gold markings. Next to him was a slowly growing pile of papers as Byleth typed away without a peep.

 

What in the world was he writing?

 

Dimitri went over to pick up one page to read over it but what was confusing was how the letters blurred together. No rather.. they were flickering and twisting together while Dimitri squinted his eyes to make sense of the sentence. What kind of writing was this?

 

"Put that down I'm in the middle of something."

 

Byleth spoke up first while he continued to type rapidly with a gusto and if Dimitri squinted, he could see a small furrow on the eyebrows.

Really this man was going to ignore the fact that they still had work?

 

"Hmp. And you're wasting your time with that. I thought you were going to do actual work," Dimitri scoffed before seeing the silver pocket watch set to the side of the typewriter, and Byleth typing away with his gloves on still.

 

It was until Byleth looked up at Dimitri and looked at him from head to toe.

 

"I never said we have to work in the daytime right now. Normally I open on when I get a new shipment of tea." Byleth still continued to stare before slowly letting out a heavy sigh, laced with disappointment. "Here I thought they wouldn't suit you at all."

 

This damn man… Dimitri felt annoyance at the way Byleth seemed so unsurprised but then again, this person really didn't seem to show much emotion. Really what kind of person was Byleth…?

 

Before Dimitrj could say anything else, the door swung open and he noticed that there were two bells in there: one gold and silver, details of flowers on them. But what was strange was only the silver bell rung.

 

Byleth got up from his seat at that instant and slowly made his way to the guest at the door, bowing to the guest at the door. "Welcome to the Divine room."

 

On the other hand, Dimitri didn't make an attempt to move but stared down at the guest instead. Exactly what caused Byleth to change his tune like that? He glanced to the typewriter on the table and noticed the mess Byleth had left earlier papers all over the table.

 

Ugh… Dimitri had to help out didn't he?

 


 

 

Dimitri had went ahead to busy himself with cleaning up the mess of papers, while Byleth had escorted the guest to the counter where he was brewing a cup of tea and setting down a plate of cookies for the guest.

 

As Dimitri busied himself, he glanced to the guest in the middle of cleaning and took in the other's appearance.

 

A quiet looking young man but Dimitri could tell from those tense eyes that he wasn't exactly a naive person either. Especially how scars lined up on the boy's face and the bandages around his hand had stains Dimitri was sure was from blood.

 

It was then the faint smell of tea lingered in the air, one Dimitri could pinpoint as woody and yet had a faint spice to his nose that tickled the senses. 

 

"Pine needles and spice," Byleth spoke up before he set down a small case of sugar and milk for the other, "Is there a reason why the maiden's messenger has come by to visit me? I thought I told her I will never have the answer she wishes for. Cyril. Ah unless it's for something else?"

 

Cyril put down a cube of sugar in the tea and a small swirl of milk, stirring it with his spoon. "Yeah. It's for an incident. Some spirits are having a fight again. Really I don't get why they make a fuss… Though. Who's that brat behind you?"

 

Dimitir almost crushed the tea cup he was putting away with anger pulsing in his veins. Brat?! From a kid saying otherwise?! 

 

"Ah he's an assistant starting today. Though fights… I see. Well I suppose it's one of those silly games."

Byleth didn't pay Dimitri's anger any mind while taking out his pocket watch, the sound of it slowly clicking away and he nodded. "We can head out then. The payment this time… I will take what the spirits are fighting over. Without hesitation."

 

"Ah.. yes. Then she asked me to give this to you then," Cyril put down a slip of paper on the counter and slowly got up, nodding once. "Then I'll go then. Bye owner. Your tea was tasty as always. No wonder every spirit likes it."

 

Those words made Dimitri tense up. No wonder every spirit liked it? His eyes trailed over to Byleth who simply waved Cyril off and took the slip of paper.

 

"What is it? Staring at someone as if they murdered someone." Byleth's voice was monotone as he walked over and set the slip of paper on a large mirror, watching it carefully.

 

Yet on the reflection he could clearly see Dimitri's dark expression transforming into something Byleth wondered if it was disgust.

 

"What exactly did he mean by spirits like the taste of tea. They're not supposed to be able to eat anything but the souls of others," Dinitrit spat out. So what in the world was in that tea spirits could eat?

 

Byleth simply shrugged without a care in his expression and slowly began to walk towards the coat rack behind Dimitri, tossing on a black trench coat with golden buttons on  it. "I happen to be capable of making food items spirits and humans can enjoy. It is why you can taste as well."

 

So.. Byleth was why? Dimitri couldn't exactly process that kind of concept in his mind. He was sure the lack of taste was simply from the trauma but to think there was more to it, it was unfathomable.

 

In the midst of his thoughts Dimitri hadn't noticed he was standing in front of the mirror when he saw Byleth stand behind him with a briefcase in hand. 

 

Before Byleth lifted his leg and promptly kicked Dimitri towards the mirror with a sigh.

 

"It's time to work your due pay."

 

Those were the last words Dimitri heard as at that point Dimitri saw nothing but the pitch black darkness.

 

Exactly what in the world did he get himself into?

 

Chapter Text

The pain throbbed in his body as slowly Dimitri rolled over to his side as he felt the cold slowly seep into his core. A chill was enough for Dimitri to get up slowly but when he opened his eyes, he found that half of his vision was gone once more. 

 

What..? 

 

He blinked slowly with his left eye at realizing that his right side was gone, as a shaky hand reached up to touch a leather eye patch covering his right eye. Was his right eye from the fall? Before Dimitri could pull the eyepatch away did a hand reach out, slapping his hand attempting to take off before Dimitri could hear a tired sigh next to him.

 

“Don’t touch it. You’re not half blind but we need to cover your human eye for a little.” 

 

Looming over him was Byleth in his black trench coat and briefcase in his leather gloved hand, yet Dimitri noted that Byleth’s purple eyes had shifted into a light mint color but when Byleth’s eyes darted around he could see a faint purple glow in those iris. Just what in the world was this man..?

He rose to his feet and Dimitri brushed off any dust on him, all the while taking his environment around him as Dimitri could see the fog surrounding them both. It wasn’t hard to breathe in this environment but what caught his eye was stars flickering around amongst the wisps of fog around them. Dimitri glanced down to see the ground he was laying on before wasn’t any sort of floor but rather a large reflective ground that showed both men’s reflections, almost as if the ground was a mirror or a lake.

Byleth shifted his body in place while Dimitri took the time to absorb the new atmosphere keeping his attention to the sky above the fog and stars, to where a bloody red moon loomed over both of them. As if greeting the new guests in this strange world.

 

“What kind of place is this..?”

 

Dimitri finally managed to breath out while Byleth reached out to take a hold of Dimitri’s hand, guiding it to hold on to Byleth’s arm despite how Dimitri’s face scrunched up in embarrassment and began to walk deeper into the depths of this world. Each step they took rippled along the reflective floor as if they walked on water but Dimitri felt his ground firmly on the ground, a sight that left Dimitri speechless at the lack of physics.

“Don’t stray too far from me,” Byleth commented as he kept Dimitri’s hand on his arm while the two of them walked through the fog, “There’s a reason why that eyepatch is covering your human eye, but if you must know.” His footsteps slowed down as they approached a large silver colored gate and Byleth slowly motioned Dimitri’s attention to the gate.

Dimitri’s eyes trailed over to the silvery gate before seeing faint apprehensions float out and in, almost like the main street where people rushed to transit in the morning but what was different was different creatures of sorts began to mingle in.  One of a large beast yet holding on to a rather tattered book of poetry, another of a being with white wings on their back, and then there was someone half man but beast as their hind legs.

 

What in the world..?

 

He was left mostly speechless even as Byleth began to pull him inside and towards the silvery gate, until Dimitri found his voice again, “Wait are you telling me it isn’t the human world?!” Was it that mirror? And that paper that Byleth attached on it..!

“Yes. I’m sure you’ve heard of Alice in the Looking Glass correct? It’s similar to that concept.” Byleth began while keeping Dimitri to his side and continued his lecture, “I created an entry with permission from our client for us to enter this world where the dead and living mingle. Well not exactly dead technically speaking but it’s not where normal humans can live unless through certain circumstances.”

Wait so not even humans could live down here? Dimitri found himself frowning, “Why not? I bet some scum would just run here to hide.”

Perhaps it was a hint to the killer of his family but upon saying those words did Byleth shake his head in disagreement, expression never changing. 

 

“It’d be impossible for a human to be here unless, again circumstances. The last human who was welcome here has become something beyond human. You could say she is one of many who judges who gets to hell or heaven.”

What?

 

“... Heaven or Hell? Is it really that safe to let someone who was formally human to judge such a huge decision on the rest of mankind after her?” 

Dimitri couldn’t fathom such a power and responsibility, while Byleth shrugged, “She’s fairly logical and reasonable. I heard the argument was a human can understand the sins of others because they are flawed themselves. Well not that I can completely agree with it myself.”

He took out a golden coin to flip it in the air several times as the ring of the coin echoing in the vast space, before Byleth calmly caught it with one hand as Byleth held up the coin between his thumb and index finger. 

 

“You see it’s not only two sides of the coin. There is a fine line between them isn’t it? I believe humanity lies between them both.”

 

Dimitri’s silver eye narrowed at those words. Exactly where was Byleth going with this? Then again the short time he had known the other man only proved to Dimitri that this person had a different view of the world compared to Dimitri. But it was exactly why this person somehow had more power to deal with the supernatural that haunted his life.

For now he sighed as Dimitri crossed his arms and stared down at Byleth who was now staring at the strange mixed crowd of human and inhuman beings. “Don’t we have a job to do? I don’t need the lectures-” 

It was then Byleth flicked the golden coin once more as the sound lingered in the air. 

 


 

Ding. 

 


 

Instead of catching it, it landed on the ground before suddenly in a burst of distorted colors that blinded Dimitri’s eyes as Byleth began to pull Dimitri over to the crowd of people, but Dimitri soon heard the click of his own shoes on to brick pavement. 

 

Upon opening his eye was Dimitri greeted by the sight of the crowd busting through the streets but what was strange was the colors of the world were almost psychedelic in sense as Dimitri looked up to see buildings distorted as well as the green sky that seemed warped. Just what in the world..? Actually what was strange to Dimitri was that this city and this street, he recognized it from the little sign that read ‘Divine Room’ written on the chalkboard and the little beaten down red roof over the door. The only difference was the silvery gate was across the street from the building with the people coming in and out.

 

Was this the city they lived in?

 

“This is a reflection of our city. Though I suppose in human terms it is the ‘after life’ in a sense.” Byleth adjusted his coat before he opened his suitcase and put on a black hat on top with pink ribbon around it. 

 

“Now. I believe our case isn’t too far from here. Dimitri. Be sure to watch carefully and learn. After all that is my payment to you for your services. You may not be able to use any sort of powers but I will teach you how to outwit those beyond your time, understood?”

 

Outwit..

 

Dimitri’s hands balled up at those words. Right he had to learn exactly how to outfit the ghouls of his own life but still this kind of world was alongside the one he knew? 

 

‘The world is large Dimitri, don’t assume that things will be as you know it.’ 

 

Rodriguez used to tell him. He really was right. Who would ever think this kind of fantastical world existed?

 

“Now now,” Byleth pulled away from Dimitri at that moment as his gloved hand dug into the suitcase once more and without hesitating, took out a black umbrella to hold up as rain began to fall from the sky. Yet what was strange was that there were no sign of clouds as Byleth held it up. “Shall we go?”

With an annoyed frown, Dimitri reached out to take the umbrella from Byleth instead to hold it between them both due to the fact that Dimitri was taller than Byleth by a good head but he looked away upon seeing the way Byleth stared at him. It was just easier this way. 

“Thank you.” Byleth began to walk along the brick sidewalk as Dimitri followed along Byleth’s footsteps like a shadow and black umbrella in hand. It would feel like a normal day out in the rain had it not been for the crowd of inhuman and humans mingling together without a care, which honestly put Dimitri on edge.

 

Really what kind of place was this to have such strange sights?

 


 

“Is it always this busy on this street?” 

Dimitri’s eye darted around their surroundings while the two continued to walk and turned the corner along a bustling flower store as Byleth nodded. 

“It gets like this around this time. Think of it this way, when the humans sleep is when the otherworldly beings come to life but today is rather busy. I suppose that is due to the little problem we have to fix.”

 

Problem?

 

Dimitri rose one eyebrow as they continued to walk down before making a rough turn at an alleyway and suddenly a blast of wind knocked out the umbrella in Dimitri’s hand, the pressure enough to make Dimitri’s eye snap close in response. When he opened his eye Dimitri almost felt his heart stop upon the sigh: a bleeding creature loomed over them both and it’s mouth hanging open with hot breath tickling his skin.

 

A monster.

 

Yet Byleth didn’t say a single word as he pulled Dimitri close by the waist with his arm and pressed his hip against Dimitri’s, before he leapt up to grab at the umbrella floating down in the air. 

“I suppose it’s rather hungry,” Byleth hummed in thought while looking at the creature below them, “It must have smelled a hint of you Dimitri, those kind of creatures are rather fond of feasting on humans, especially wandering ones.”

Dimitri felt his world spin at Byleth’s sudden agile movements and saw the creature shrill at him, until Byleth swung the umbrella that was still covered in raindrops as the drops of rain suddenly formed into glass shards.

The shock barely sunk in when Dimitri watched as Byleth landed them both right behind the creature shrilling in pain, before Byleth simply handed the umbrella back to Dimitri and motioned his head to the beast screaming. 

 

“Don’t pay attention to the beast and how I handled it for now. I’ll teach you in the future but I suppose it’s easier to say that ‘thoughts’ have power here as long you can ‘reason’ them out,” Byleth raised a hand behind Dimitri’s back to push the other along the path with a sigh, “We’re almost there.”

 

Yet despite Byleth wanting to progress, Dimitri was still trying to process exactly what had happened the past twenty minutes or so of Byleth’s attack. So the other had reasoned that the rain on the umbrella could turn into glass shards? There was too much he wanted to point out that Dimitri could almost feel the headache forming, “This world is a mess and nothing makes sense.”

“Nor does the human world. I suppose we share that sentiment do we?” Byleth stood in front of another alleyway where yells could be heard and he adjusted his black leather gloves once more. “I’ll properly train you but today is your first day. For now, you will simply watch understood?”

 

Watch… huh?

 

Dimitri pursed his lips as Byleth ventured deeper into the alleyway and slowly he began to follow after. This world, despite how ridiculous it was, had offered far more answers than Dimitri spent his whole life searching for and there was no way he’d give that up /now/.

 


 

The alley way they went through had slowly began to twist with step as the walls around them seemed to distort each each step they took, and Dimitri was sure he was seeing eyes form at cracks in the walls. It was as if it were gazing at everything and trying to study the sudden intruders in it’s space, before they found themselves in a small complex of sorts with people wearing different masks gathered around a circle around someone.

 

“Whos is it!?”

 

“Nobody should be allowed in this space!”

 

“Hey that guy doesn’t smell like spirit.”

 

“Ah but the guy behind him does.. How.. .delicious..” 

 

“And he smells different from this little brat.”

 

 

Dimitri felt his body paralyze at those words and yet Byleth stepped forward once more, swirling his umbrella close with the heels of his shoes clicking at each step. “I have permission from the administrator of this land to intervene, under the article 940 and under the orders to investigate the ruckus.” 

What? Dimitri’s head jerked over to Byleth. When in the world was this person a detective? Actually all they were told was to simply stop the fight and solve the issue, not to investigate. Yet the masked being shuffled around in place before one spoke up, “There’s no issue at all! This is OUR territory and you should know the law. Any human that gets sent down here or strays away is our property.”

 

Human?

 

Byleth slowly approached the crowd as slowly the two group of masked people parted to show a young girl in a suit, and holding on to her bag of items in hand. Streams of tears ran down her cheeks and green eyes stared up at both Byleth and Dimitri with fear in her eyes. Yet there was something about the girl that seemed familiar to Dimitri, far too familiar as he glanced to the girl and saw a small wooden doll charm in her hand.

The doll charm looked cared for and strangely it was glowing a white light from it with a warmth around the girl that reminded Dimitri of sunlight.

 

“.... I see. So this is the issue.” 

 

Byleth had been staring at the girl before glancing to Dimitri, nudging him forward towards the girl and mouthed to him silently, ‘Get her to talk, I’ll handle this’ It was then he approached the masked men and bowed, “I understand that you have not been able to approach her due to the blessing on her. However that doesn't mean you have full property of her to devour. So let us play a game,” He opened his suitcase as a table fell out of the suitcase and two chairs.

 

It was then Dimtiri saw white and black bits fall out as well, tumbling perfectly on the table as Dimitri recognized the checkerboard pattern on the table as chess but that surprised him was how calmly Byleth sit down.

 

“How about it?”

 

What..?

 

Dimitri looked over to the girl before approaching her as the masked men began to crowd Byleth with demands of their own, as one spoke up, “Then if we beat you you’ll give us the girl!” Yet Byleth stayed quiet while glancing to Dimitri once and turned his attention back to the masked men. 

 

“Hey. You.”

 

He loomed over the girl on the ground sniffling as she gripped on the wooden doll, before shutting her eyes tightly and muttered to herself with her body shaking, “Dad… Mom... Mercedes..” At those words Dimitri felt his heart soften even just a bit and he took a deep breath. This girl had a family and yet she was in this kind of place. He knelt down next to her and reached out once, putting a hand on her shoulder as comfort even if the girl jolted at the human touch.

 

“... Listen to me. We’ll get you home okay? So tell me how did you get here?”  

 

The girl sniffed once before slowly she began to wipe her eyes of the tears as she spoke softly, “I was walking home from college. I had a fight with my dad about a case he was obsessing over since he wasn’t listening to me. But when I ran off to try to meet with a friend, I saw my surroundings were different. By the time I realized it I was here and those people were surrounding me, yet they couldn’t touch me.”

She held up the wooden doll charm in her hand that glowed and slowly tears formed again, “This was made by my dad… when they tried to touch me it started glowing brightly like this and … they never could touch me. I also couldn’t leave this place because every time I tried to run, the walls close in on me..”

 

Then this girl was trapped here.

 

Dimitri pursed his lips at those words before he nodded once, “... All right. I’ll get you out somehow. The man playing chess will also help. We were told there was an issue. So we’ll get you out.” Yet before he could continue he heard loud yells of defeat as Byleth stared at the masked man across from him. 

 

“Check mate.”

 

He rose up at the last defeat and began to walk towards Dimitri with a sigh, “I suppose that’s enough of killing time. I see you’ve calmed her down yes?” Byleth knelt down in front of the girl before he offered a hand to her and Dimitri could see the masked men shaking in their spot, before they had turned to attempt to attack with a demonic shrills,

 

“SHE’S OURS!!!”

 

Snap

 

Suddenly in a flash of vibrant colors the walls began to shift into colors that reminded Dimitri of kaleidoscopes, and a glass wall formed that separated the group from the masked men. Muffled yells could be heard as Byleth continued to offer his hand to the girl and he spoke carefully. 

“I do not have any reason to give you priority to save you miss.” Yet before Dimtiri could voice his protest at such cold words did Byleth reach his hand out to the girl, “However, as the owner of the Divine Room, I take payment in any form. So I ask you this young miss, do you wish for me to save you? If so please give me your charm as payment.”

 

Payment…

 

Dimitri looked over to Byleth once before looking right to the girl who was left in awe of the other man, before slowly she took a deep breath and nodded once, “... I accept this payment. So.. please.. Let me go home to my family and loved ones…!” She reached out to put the wooden doll in Byleth’s awaiting gloved hand and slowly Byleth’s fingers curled around the doll charm.

 

“The payment has been made,” Byleth slowly stood on his feet while helping the girl up and gently pushed her to Dimitri with a nod, “We will be leaving then briefly. It’s a shame though,” He looked back at the masked men banging on the glass wall Byleth had created before the man lifted his umbrella, “I was hoping one of you would beat me in chess. I was told I was terrible at that game so I wanted to know what defeat in chess was like.”

 

Click

 

With his umbrella open did Byleth flick a coin up into the air and slowly it fell to the ground, as Byleth mouthed, “But I bid you adieu, for eternity.”

 

Ding.

 

The world at that second became a vivid mix of colors and Dimitri could only hold the girl close to him, with his eye darting over to the masked men. Sounds of demonic screams could be heard as Dimtiri watched them scatter into colors of red, greens, blues, yellows, and all sorts of other colors he couldn’t tell. The atmosphere twisted and turned as Dimitri felt his stomach slowly hurl from the rapid changes around them, yet the one constant thing other than the warmth of the girl in his arms was Byleth in front of him.

 

Only that the other’s hair and eyes were a haunting green that Dimitri remembered in that dream.

 

It was then his vision went dark once more with the sound of water around him.

 


 

“Dimitri.”

 

A voice lulled him out of his daze as Dimitri felt his mind slowly becoming clear by the second and suddenly he looked down to see the girl wasn’t in his arms anymore. Instead she was in Byleth’s arms, as they stood outside of the building the lounge was in and this time Dimitri could see the surroundings around them had gone back to normal. With all the colors that Dimitri was used to seeing and the emptiness of the street.

“.. we’re back..”

 

Dimitri’s voice barely came out as Byleth sighed and shifted the girl’s weight in his arms, “Open the door would you? I will contact her family and see if they are still around.” As Dimitri opened the door did Byleth set down the girl on the plush couch and Byleth began to dig around in the girls’ belongings, taking out her wallet with a low hum as he found the id card.

“She’s rather lucky. Any longer and it would have been enough time to be twenty years.” 

 

Twenty..?

 

Dimitri ripped off the eyepatch on his face before he made his way over and grabbed the id card out of Byleth’s hands, before slowly realization hit him. This girl..

 

Annette Fantine Dominic

 

She was the daughter of the detective that had helped supported him during the time Dimtiri’s parents were left for dead. He knew he had a daughter younger than him but at the most she was only a year younger than him, yet what was strange was the fact she looked closer to his age now.

 

How?

 

Byleth gently pulled the blanket over the girl’s form as he spoke up, “Time is different in the other world. There isn’t any real known effects but for her it must have aged her a little bit. The charm in her hand was preventing any real drastic changes. Sometimes the human can become young as a baby or worse aged to elderly. The only real way to avoid this kind of fate is to have a bit of spiritual sense, which what you have through your eye.”

 

Just…

 

What in the world?

 

Dimitri moved to sit down in the chair as his mind slowly was processing everything that had happened at once. Yet he saw Byleth had also been holding on to the wooden charm and almost staring at it longingly. Which was honestly a strange look to see Byleth staring at it like that. 

“Why did you ask for that as payment? I doubt that has any use for you since you don’t need protection in the other world.”

 

Silence soon followed before Byleth blinked once then twice as he gently held it close to his chest for a few moments, and held it there for some moments. It wasn’t after ten minutes did Byleth soon put it on the shelf without another world. “It’s an item with a blessing of a father’s love for his child but it didn’t move my heart at all. Oh well. Dimitri you can go rest tonight. You had a hectic first day after all.”

 

Move his heart?

 

Dimitri wasn’t too sure what to make of it but pushed it aside to head upstairs instead, yet all he could think was those haunting words of Byleth’s of his heart. Why was Byleth concern about a ‘heart’ in the first place? Perhaps it would be one of the mysteries he would find out during his time with that man, but for now it could await for another day.

 


 

Click clack click clack

 

 

 

Scrr--- Riiiiiiiing

 

 

 

Click clack click clack

 

Pausing his typing midway, Byleth looked to the sheets of papers gather on the table and traced his fingers along the inked letters. He had already called the girl’s parents and they had come to pick her up already, yet there was something that had been on his mind. The girl’s father had thanked him constantly over and over, yet something in Byleth’s mind stirred once more as he turned his attention to the typewriter.

 

Æýöóë¾²ÿë²ñúûþö²åóá²ðýàü²óüö²ëýç²úóä÷²âóáá÷ö²óåóë¼²Û²âþóü²ýü²àóûáûüõ²úûÿ²æú÷²ð÷áæ²Û²ñóü²ðçæ²ú÷µá²óþà÷óöë²áæàóüõ÷¼²Ú÷²öý÷áüµæ²÷ä÷ü²ñàë²ýçæ²ûü²âóûü²ýà²þóçõú²åûæú²øýë¾²óüö²æú÷²öýñæýà²áóûö²úûá²ú÷óàæ²öý÷áüµæ²ð÷óæ²óæ²óþþ¼²Ûæµá²÷ä÷ü²áæàóüõ÷²æúóæ²áýÿ÷æûÿ÷á²ú÷²øçáæ²áæóà÷á²ýçæ²ûüæý²æú÷²óû༲۲åýüö÷à²åúóæ²ú÷²á÷÷á¼

 

On the type writer there laid text corrupted but Byleth could only feel a tad of frustration. Exactly why did the text for anything he wrote ended up like this? For now he slowly got up and began to put away the papers, heading up the stairs to retire for the night.

 

Tick Tock

Tick Tock

 

Slowly after sometime, Dimitri had went downstairs as he rubbed at his blue eye but mostly because after today everything seemed too bright for him. Perhaps it was an after effect of his time in the other world? He didn’t think too hard on it when he saw the typewriter Byleth always typed on was left untouched, as Dimitri’s silver eye glanced over to the text.

 

Most likely the text was left muddied wasn’t it-

But the moment he looked to it, Dimitri slowly began to approach it and his hand still covering his normal eye as he muttered to himself, “I… can read it..?” Slowly he began to read to himself in a hushed voice,

 

“Today, my child was born and you have passed away. I plan on raising him the best I can but he's already strange. He doesn't even cry out in pain or laugh with joy, and the doctor said his heart doesn't beat at all. It's even strange that sometimes he just stares out into the air. I wonder what he sees…”

 

Was this…

 

Byleth’s writing…?

 

Chapter Text

Click clack click clack

 

Scrr--- Riiiiiiiing

 

Click clack click clack

 

The sound of the typewriter filled the room as Byleth typed on the typewriter with black gloved hands moving quickly along the keys but Dimitri watched in the corner in the room, with a cup of brewed instant coffee in hand to himself. Since that night, Dimitri had kept an eye on how Byleth wrote and watching each key that entered with a click. After all with the text that Byleth had been writing, he couldn’t help but be curious about exactly what made the man write with dedication every free moment the other man had.

 

For now Dimitri kept the knowledge to himself that he knew how to read a little of Byleth’s writing as Byleth continued to type with his chest puffed up. 

 

Last night it had been strange that he wrote something that he couldn’t write but today he could read every letter on the page, even if normal living beings couldn’t. After all it would be a shame if the writer couldn’t read every letter right?

 

He continued to type rapidly with a focus in his eyes and sipping on his cup of tea as the morning was slow in the Ashen Lounge, but Dimitri was simply staring daggers at Byleth. Really the boy was still in a terrible mood the past few days due to the slow days, but was it so bad to have calm days like this?

 

Even so he couldn’t have Dimitri be grouchy.



“Dimitri. Is there an issue you have?”

 

“I wouldn’t even know where to start,” Dimitri directed his arm over towards the empty lounge with his eyes narrowed, “There’s been no customers for the past few days. I’m restless. And I can’t even go outside because I don’t know how to handle those ghouls yet so I’m stuck here. Weren’t you supposed to teach me Byleth?”

 

Ah ha, Byleth rubbed his chin. Ah to be young and restless, he wouldn’t know such a thing as Byleth picked up his porcelain tea cup lined with violets and sipped at it in thought. “I suppose that would bother you wouldn’t it? I forget many things but I suppose it would be best to entertain you hm?”

 

Entertain?

 

Dimitri’s eyes narrow at those words. Was this guy just messing with him? He didn’t need to be entertained but he needed to get progress in finding his family’s murderer, as well the reason why the ghouls hated him so. Amidst in his thoughts, Byleth had gotten up and approached Dimitri with his black trench coat in hand as well as a notebook.

 

“Then shall we go out? Shop with me then. We will need to stock up ingredients since someone,” Byleth’s eyes glanced over to Dimitri as he gave out a monotoned sigh, “Seems to inhale most of the food I stocked up for this week, what a beast.”

 

“THAT WAS ALL YOU!” 

 

Dimitri had jolted from his seat in protest yet his cheeks were flushed rest at the rightful accusations. Sure ever since he found his newly found taste again from being in this building he may have nibbled on random things occasionally to savor the flavors that Dimitri missed out for ten years or so, but he wasn’t like Byleth! The other man seemed to keep cooking large meals for both of them yet most of the time the plates would be licked clean, all because Byleth just wouldn’t STOP eating.

 

“Tsk tsk. I am your employer. For now we have quite a bit of the pay from the last job and our last customer has given me quite a treat,” He held up two paper slips with discounts on a cake shop and patterned with cats on it, as Byleth nodded, “Discounts on a popular cat cafe along main street.”

 

“I refuse to step into that store over my dead body.”

 

Dimitri’s response was immediate but he found himself staring at the ground. After all, he didn’t want to see the face of the daughter of the detective who had been researching on his family’s murder for so long. The person was kind but the same time Dimitri couldn’t come to terms with the fact he didn’t even recognize Annette off the bat. The detective often told him about her every time they met and yet Dimitri’s mind had been already crumbling from the haunting hell he saw.

 

He didn’t want her to know too deeply about the child who perhaps ruined her family life, even if Annette seemed so thankful.

 

“... A shame. But we’re going no matter what,” Byleth held up one photograph hidden in the notebook of a grey cat and a black spot over it’s left eye, a sparkle in the man’s eye, “I wish to see this cat!”  

 

“How in the world did you even get that photo!? Rather when in the world did you suddenly become friendly with the customer so fast!? You don’t even own a cellphone!” Byleth simply stared before covering his mouth despite his lips wouldn’t curl at all, as he spoke up, “I am well versed in dealing with having loyal return customers. The Ashen Lounge may not have many customers, I am exceptional as a host and I know all the-”

 

Before Byleth could continue though Dimitri’s face scrunched up and instead grabbed the man by the shirt collar, dragging him out the door of the store. He made sure to flip the wooden sign on the glass door from open to close all the while as Byleth continued on, “Social structure is important as the owner and I make sure that the tea is steeped thoroughly and…”

 

If he knew so much about social capabilities, Dimitri thought to himself, then why didn’t he just learn to shut up sometimes?

 

Some genius this man was.

 


 

“Oh ho, so this is the cat cafe I’ve heard from Ashe.”

 

Both of them stood in front of the cat cafe with well polished windows and printed cat paws on the glass windows, and Dimitri could see cats already perfectly curled up near the window on cat towers with content expressions all around. So they were in the middle of their nap huh? Still Dimitri made a face at the fact he was about to step into such a flowery and, dare he say it, adorable shop.

 

Byleth, on the other hand, looked rather.. Excited as far as Dimitri could tell with the way Byleth opened his notebook that had photos pasted on there and notes written down on the bottom of the page, yet for some reason Dimitri couldn’t read those notes again. Even worse than Byleth’s typing huh?

 

“Annette was kind enough to mail me some photos of the cats last she called me from the hospital but to think even Ashe knew of the cat cafe.”

 

Byleth was aware Ashe worked a part time job at a cafe called Gaspard’s Paws given the way the man eagerly talked about the cats he took care off on off times, but to think he was lucky enough to get discount tickets for the cafe it was truly a blessing.

 

‘I really want to drop by again to properly thank you! But… I have some discounts for a cat cafe one of my friend’s friends works at. It’s a bit close to the expiration date but I suppose that’s a given since I was gone for a while, so use them Owner! And take photos!’ Annette had eagerly told Byleth to take photos but the main issue was one thing only.

 

He had no capabilities with technology.

 

Byleth had managed to live his life with his typewriter and also the old rotary dial phone, but he couldn’t exactly take the camera he would use given how long it would take to develop photos. So he had one plan, he looked right to Dimitri and grabbed on to his wrist with a puff in his chest. “You will take photos then. You understand how to use an intelligent-phone correct? And a camera apple.”

 

“.... You mean a smartphone and camera app.” Dimitri scratched the back of his head in annoyance. He was well aware of how out of date Byleth’s home was save for the few electrical plugs around, given Dimitri struggled trying to find a place to charge his own phone that contained important details about the murder he was researching into. Was that why he was brought here for? “.. fine… Not like I can do anything-”



Only for Dimitri to find Byleth already tugging him inside and ignoring any voice of protests from Dimitri, with a skip in his step. To think a man who could destroy ghouls and venture out in the chaotic world of the other world: was a man who enjoyed cats and couldn’t use a smartphone, Dimitri mused to himself as he sighed.

 

He was really at this person’s mercy.

 


 

Merrroooww

 

A fluffy ash colored cat greeted both of them upon entering with a soft merow and a low rumble could be heard as the cat purred while stretching over on the wooden counter over papers that had promotions all over the place. The cafe itself wasn’t too large either with tables to one side of the cafe and a glass door separating the cats from the cafe part of the establishment.

 

Despite the cat sleeping on the counter, it was fairly clean, as one young man who was cleaning up the tables looked up with his hair pushed back by a fuzzy blue cat handband and a blue apron. 

 

Byleth raised his hand at him as he spoke up, “Ashe.”

 

Ashe blinked for a few moments at Byleth until his eyes widen from the realization that Byleth was right there in front of him, “Owner!? Ah no, I meant Byleth! Goodness me, welcome! I didn’t think you would be dropping by here Byleth!” He put the rag from cleaning the table into his apron pocket as he quickly made his way over with a friendly smile, “I’ve invited you a few times but I didn’t think you’d have time actually!”

 

“A customer gave me some coupons and I remembered that you worked here,” Byleth flashed the two tickets to Ashe with a small spark in his eye and handed it to Ashe as he pointed over to Dimitri, “We’ll both be going in together.”

 

Upon meeting eye contact, Ashe stared at Dimitri for sometime with his eyebrows furrowed in thought but he shook his head after some moments. “Sorry I was just wondering if I’ve seen you before but hello! I’m Ashe it’s a pleasure to meet you, you are,” he offered a hand to shake as Dimitri stared at the offered hand and slowly he reached out to shake it once with no interest. “Dimitri. I’m… this guy’s part timer. I guess.”

 

It was safer to say it that way.

 

“Oh! Then I might be seeing you around then! I sometimes drop by to help my friend but I really do like Byleth’s tea so I guess I’m a regular,” Ashe chuckled for some time before he pocketed the two tickets and gestured to the door, “But for now please come in! It’s on me today Byleth. You always give me such amazing tea at such a good price so I’d like to make up for it.”

 

“... Thank you. I do want to pay my due though,” Byleth walked over to the glass door as he stared at the cats lounging around, “If it means it’s helping these little ones.”

 

“Haha I’m sure they’ll be happy to know that,” Ashe opened the door for Byleth to enter and Dimitri simply followed after Byleth like a quiet shadow, yet his eyes kept on Byleth. Behind the group, the cat that was on the counter hopped off to brush past Byleth and Dimitri’s legs while padding off to crawl under the couch. Byleth had immediately looked over to the fluffy cat and followed after to pet the cats on top of the couch first though.

 

Huh. He really liked cats, Dimitri found himself staring at exactly how excited Byleth seemed despite that expressionless face but he couldn’t help wonder why didn’t this person show expressions that easily still. Not like it mattered too much, Dimitri could already read a little bit of how the other felt after all.

 

Byleth wasn’t a dishonest person after all.

 


 

What he didn’t expect to see though was Byleth attempting to pet more cats until halfway they started to avoid Byleth’s touch with a low merow. The man had attempted to reach over to pet more only for the cat to stretch away from even a slight graze from the man, meowing loudly at Byleth. “....” Byleth attempted one more time until each of the cats began to walk off away from Byleth and instead wandered over to Dimitri sitting in the corner.

 

Merowww~

 

One blond tabby bounced off from the ground and settled right on to Dimitri’s thighs, slowly massaging it’s paws on the man’s lap before slowly curling up right on top of his lap with a low purr in its voice. 

 

“Ah.”

 

Byleth was staring at the sight before slowly going over with a hint of a sulk on his face. “How come they’re avoiding me though,” He wanted to reach out to pet the tabby yet Dimitri had stood still with his eyes glancing down at the cat on his lap. During the time Dimitri and Byleth were spending time with the cats Ashe had returned with a tray of two cups of warm tea for the both of them.

 

“Here you go Byleth! It may not be as good as your tea but I hope you two enjoy your time here,” He smiled as Ashe reached down to scratch the back of one the cat’s ears, “Now be good okay? I’ll fetch everyone their foods.”

 

Ashe stole a glance towards Dimitri once more before leaving though and he was left in his own thoughts. Yet Dimitri tensed up at the man leaving them alone with the cats with a small frown. If that person seemed to know him it would most likely be during the times of peace he abandoned for the truth, and Dimitri didn’t want to think too much on those days.

 

Peace was useless to him after all.

 

An insistent paw began to bat at Dimitri’s cheek from his lap as if to chase such thoughts away before he looked down to see wide brown eyes stared up at him, and the cat meowed sweetly to him. A temptation but Dimitri sighed instead, turning his attention away from the cat and towards Byleth who was now staring at the cat in the other corner of the room, tucked in all the way in the shadows.

 

Actually..

 

Dimitri looked to the other cats sunbathing and enjoying the warmth of anything available, yet they avoided Byleth like the plague yet that one cat in the shadows seemed to melt into the darkness of the drawer it was hiding.

 

“... I’ve never seen that kind of breed of cat,” Dimitri found himself muttering but he wasn’t sure either why that cat seemed to disturb him, until Byleth got up slowly from kneeling near the tabby cat and went towards the cat in the shadows. Without hesitation Byleth reached out and scooped up the cat without much fuss as Byleth set the strange cat on his shoulders, scratching the back of the cat’s ears.

 

The cat was rather fluffy and gray in color, yet there was just something about that face that was disturbing to Dimitri. The wrinkles along the eyes, scrunched up nose, and the jaw seemed off.

 

Much like a human's face.

 

Actually.

 

Oh god.

 

Was that a human's face.

 

Before Dimitri could raise his voice, he saw Ashe hadn't paid much attention to the cat on Byleth's head and was calmly sweeping the cafe part.

 

If Ashe couldn't see it then that only left one assumption.

 

".. Byleth. That's… not a real cat is it."

 

Byleth was still scratching the cat on his head before he plucked it off his head, holding it still in his arms. 

 

"... I thought cats had funny faces like this in the first place."

 

Dimitri held back every urge to smack his own face at that respond with irritation and he could already feel a migraine as a cat meowed at his feet. 

 

Of course it wouldn't be ever simple with Byleth would it?

 

Chapter Text

"My back hurts, put some more oomph into it youngster."

 

Crackcrackcrack

 

"Mmm right there.. Ah no to the left, and the right, Mmmm there we go but put more oomph into it."

 

Why in the world was he giving a little freaky beast a back massage? 

Putting pressure on massaging the strange beast in front of him, Dimitri wasn't too sure exactly what was going on that led up to this situation. They were here originally to check out the cafe for Byleth's request but now here he was, massaging this weird cat. 

 

Byleth?

 

Oh that bastard sold off his services to do this with the authority of being Dimitri's employer, which Dimitri wanted call out, all for the sake of the cat having a strange rule over the cats in the cafe. In other words, Dimitri was less important than a bunch of cats that cuddled up against Byleth and purring up to him.

Damn that bastard.

 

Crackcrackcrack

 

"Mm this feels good. Haven't had anyone see me in quite some time so I couldn't get a good massage. It's been aching lately." The cat being near purred on his lap as it cracked open a single blue eye and gazed upon Byleth.

"But my. I never thought I would be able to meet the 'Ashen Master' before in my existence. Owner of the Divine Room and one of the many who look after the borders of the other world. You're quite famous." His lips curl up at each word and Dimitri found his hands freezing from the expression.

 

This beast was threatening them.

 

There was just something about that smile that left chills down Dimitri's spine and his stomach curled, until Byleth looked up with a raised eyebrow.

"Well. I'm aware of my fame but… I don't think you should be scaring my employee. Not when you seem to treasure this place here," And suddenly Dimitri looked down to see the cat worm right out of his arms, as the cat leap out and near the window.

Byleth continued to rub a thumb over a nearby cat's paw pads gently while he continued, "But the owner is a regular of mine. So I bring no harm of any sort, I simply wish to bask in this natural cuteness."

 

The strange cat was tense but slowly it began to release tension as it sighed, "Fine. I suppose it would be foolish and bring Ashe more trouble." The cat looked over to where Ashe was still cleaning before he let out a loud purr. "Well. He seems to enjoy your tea so it's fine."

Dimitri looked back as well to where Ashe was then right back at the strange cat's expression. Despite how creepy it was initially that there was almost a human face on a cat Dimitri could see the small curl of a smile on it. Certainly this cat was simply trying to protect this place and looking after Ashe, which honestly didn't bother Dimitri at all.

 

Even spirits had something dear to them like himself.

 

"Now, I suppose it would be rude to not introduce myself to Ashe's guest. Especially ones who can see me even the little human over there," The cat shifted its body to give a curtsy of sorts to the both of them, "Lonato is my name. I'm what you call a werecat in human folklore, so those cats and I get along rather well."

"Why," Dimitri opened his mouth to begin as he found himself hesitating upon seeing both Byleth and Lonato turning their attention to him, "Why stay here? Ashe can't even see you? You know him but he won't see you."

 

It was different from Dimitri who lived his life ignoring spirits but this spirit didn't seem to wish Ashe harm, rather he seemed protective of him.

 

The werecat slumped over a nearby chair and his tail swaying as he yawned, "It doesn't matter. In truth boy, when I woke up I found myself here in this place about four years ago, I saw him and I felt I had to protect him no matter what. But .. seeing him smile always brings me great you you know."

 

The ends of his mouth curled up in amusement at his own words, "Why I wonder if human parents felt this way, but I stay because I care."

 

He stayed because he cared..? Dimitri couldn't fathom such words from a spirit as his eyes glanced down to his feet. Normally when he used to walk around, Dimitri would see ghastly hands grip on to his ankle and whispers of regrets in his ear. It was a sight that haunted him for years after the traumatic sight that was his family's gorey murder at such a young age. Always, always, always, they were there around him with no hope in being free of the whispers of the dead.

 

Yet around Byleth those went away as if they never existed, as if he could finally breathe.

 

"I see," Byleth set down the cats on the ground one by one, as he opened his silver pocket and glanced to where the hands  of the pocket watch were. "Thank you for your time Lonato. Perhaps we will drop by again."

"We are!?" Dimitri jolted up from his seat yet Byleth grabbed on to Dimitri's arm and looked back at Lonato relaxing under the sun as the werecat yawned. The sun felt nice after all. Lonato's tail flickered back and forth, "Then until next time, Master of the Divine room and the little apprentice. Perhaps the next time do bring this old man a snack." His lips curled up to a smile before turning his gaze out the window with a low meow to his voice.

 

As the both of them began to leave the lounge where the cats lived Dimitri glanced back one more time and for one moment,

 

He swore he saw not the strange cat but a grown man, sitting at the window still surrounded by cats curled up at his feet.

As if he was human.

 


 

 

"How did you think of it?"

Ashe was beaming at them both once they had stepped out, with Byleth looking at Ashe and gave him a firm thumbs up with sparkles in his eyes that Dimitri never seen before. Wow. He really liked cats huh?

 

"It was excellent."

 

Ashe blinked rapidly seeing the expression still was unchanging yet Dimitro sighed. Was it that hard to read that guy's expressions? "Byleth's happy. Actually this is the first time I've seen this him this happy."

Those words made both Ashe and Byleth stare at Dimitri at once, with Ashe blinked rapidly and trying to process what Dimitri said. "... Yeah he really is happy," yet a grin slowly grew on Ashe's face, "But huh. I never thought.. Huh."

 

What.

 

What did that expression mean?

 

"Anyways," He immediately ignored Dimitri's confusion and opened the door for the both of them, "Feel free to stop by again! I'll be happy to give you a discount for the next time too!"

Dimitri didn't hesitate to get out of the cafe quickly without greeting Ashe, Byleth though was still frozen in his spot and he cupped his own cheek for a moment.

 

He looked happy?

 

What part?

 

Those thoughts lingered on his mind as Byleth followed Dimitri out of the cafe and he glanced to the reflective of the windows on the cafe, finding no change in his stoic expression.

Of course he truly was delighted at the cats but Byleth didn't see anything different on his face he blinked slowly. Did Dimitri just tell from his own behavior that he was happy? Without any need of expression on his face? 

Deep down Byleth felt a small stir in his core as he followed after Dimitri’s footsteps on their way back to the lounge.

 

Why did it feel he knew someone before who said the same thing so long ago?

 


 

“Is it really okay to leave that werecat there?”

 

Dimitri had asked Byleth the first thing the moment they returned to the lounge while Byleth was busying himself with brewing hot water for another cup of tea of chamomile for him and Dimitri. After all he was concerned with the fact living and the dead shouldn’t mix at all, as far as Dimitri knew and yet Byleth was so calm about it the entire time.

“I didn’t see any problem with it as far as I saw. Rather it’s a blessed zone now with his presence so Ashe shouldn’t attract any vicious little ghouls like you normally see,” His gloved hands didn’t stop moving as he set down a bag of spoonful in a glass teapot, “Normally unless you are determined in your goal, one can not create a barrier like that normally especially when that werecat seemed to be born rather recently.”

 

Recently? 

 

Dimitri looked up at that, “What do you mean recently? He seemed like a rather old spirit though.” Yet he found himself frozen upon seeing Byleth’s eyes seemingly stare down at him for once.

“No. He’s much younger and more naive than the ones I know. A fledgeling spirit.” 

 

The loud whistle of the kettle echoed in the room as Byleth silently turned off the gas stove with a click and took the metal kettle to pour the boiling water into the glass teapot. Tea leaves danced along in the water as Byleth began, “My hypothesis is simple,” he hummed in thought and set down the kettle on the table.

 

“He must have been of old age when he died as a human. Five, no, six years ago perhaps he still retained the face of who he looked like as a human yet took partially in the form of a cat for some reason. Perhaps.. Ashe could be the reason..” Byleth took out a pocket watch to count to himself the time for the tea leaves to steep, ”Normally for human beings when they die, they cling on to something the most important to them in some way or some form.”

 

He closed the pocket watch with a click that rang in the room.

 

“For there is a purpose for their fleeting life even if it means they will fade with existence. Something that is more important than passing on into the next life and being reborn in peace, that they allowed their own forms to be twisted by the corruption of the living.”

 

More important than finding peace..

 

Dimitri felt his heart squeeze at those words and his hand gripped on to his own pants. More important than the sanity of their minds? Even if it meant they forgot exactly what they were wanting to protect and cherish? He couldn’t fathom such a thing.

 

The sound of the tea being poured into the cup cut off those things as Byleth reached out and set down the cup of tea to him.

 

“But in the end the one thing I’ve learned in my years of work is this, when it’s when their purpose is fulfilled is when they can truly move on. I suppose.. They wish to see the future of those they left behind,” Byleth looked over towards the typewriter when his words trailed off before he muttered.

 

“It’s a selfish wish.”

 

Byleth?

 

He wasn’t sure how to make of Byleth’s gaze in front of him yet Dimitri wanted to do something, especially as he could see a hint of Byleth’s eyes narrow just a tad. Was he upset? No.. sad? He wasn’t too sure what to say and instead Dimitri sipped at his tea, “... So you’ll just leave it alone for now?” In a way Dimitri could understand then if Byleth wanted to respect that werecat's wishes. Especially if Byleth himself said Ashe wouldn't be at harm either.

“I suppose so,” Byleth took his own cup in hand and began to sip at it while he continued, “Besides, I’m sure we’ll be busy some time thought. It’s a full moon soon after all and certainly a night where we’ll be busy. After all the full moon excited the spirits because it is the height of  the cycle of the moon when the living and dead blend.”

 

Ugh.

 

Dimitri felt himself wince at those words. He was fully aware of that time of the month were usually the most hellish of his month but now he could stay here in safety.

 

“Oh by the way. We will not be staying here for that day.”



PPFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!

 

Having spat out his tea did Dimitri look to Byleth with a scowl and slammed his hand on the counter. “What do you mean by that!? I thought this place was safe!?” No ghouls or the such tried to attack them in this place yet Byleth just said this place was safe weeks ago.

“During most of the month yes. But even I have limits on the night of the full moon. Don’t fret though there is always two places I go depending on the month when its the full moon. If we stay here it will become a ghoul buffet of fighting,” Byleth raised an eyebrow yet he set down his tea.

“Don’t worry. I’m friends with both of the owners of the facilities we will be living in. Remember the person I mention is one who rules over the decision of life and dead? We will be staying with her, isn’t that great Dimitri? You get to see live scenes of the famous depiction of the judge from hell.”

 

This little-

 

Dimitri twitched.

 

“That doesn’t make me happy at all. And? Who the heck is this judge from hell we’re gonna be cooped up with for life,” He sipped at his tea once more as Byleth finished his cup of tea and he continued on while he recalled her full name and title.

 

Yes.

 

The title he knew of her was called this:

 

Edelgard von Hresvelg, the underworldly Crimson Emperor 

Chapter Text

The full moon has come along suddenly before Dimitri had time to process it.

 

Especially in a time where the ghouls and otherworldly would be in full power, he couldn't see himself safe in the other world where those king reigned. Yet it was much better to stick around Byleth without much protest given Dimitri was tired of struggling to survive on the day of the full moon.

Last month all he did was hide into churches or shrines, then running off the next day with no sleep from the scratches and shrills of beasts all around. Even now Dimitri felt shivers down his spine at one memory.

The sight of people collapsing on the ground and ghouls leaning over and their strange limbs wrapped around the bodies, as if to drain them of life themselves and loud slurps of flesh echoed in his head.

 

Dimitri's was fed up with being so scared for his life.

 

So he decided to not question Byleth even now, as Byleth seemed to pack away not a day worth of things but seemingly a whole month's worth of items into that endless black suitcase of his.

Rather.. how could this man fit so many things in there? A magic suitcase that could fit whole typewriter in there as well as stacks of clothes and tea. 

 

"Now," Byleth shut the black leather suitcase with a click of the buckle and adjusted his black tie, did he snapped his black gloved hands and suddenly clicks echoed around the lounge, locks going off immediately.

 

It was at the moment when the last lock at the front door clicked to close up a loud slam could be heard at the window of the door.

Dimitri looked over to see a ragged woman with wrinkles all over shrill loudly through the stained glass door window. 

Another being joined to scream, but this time it was a being with multiple of eyeballs that pressed against the glass window as it giggled from seeing the tormented expression forming on the boy's face. 

 

 

Then another.

 

"YOUR SOULS GIVE US YOUR SOULS!"

 

"YOUNG SWEET SWEET FLESH OF LIFE..!"

 

And another.

 

"LET ME LIVE LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN!..."

 

"AhHhhhHHhHHHH!!!"

 

And then another.

 

"GRANT MY WISH GRANT MY WISH LET ME SUCK ON YOUR BEAUTIFUL BONES..!"

 

"IF I EAT YOU THEN I WILL BECOME GOD..!"

 

All until each window of the lounge was surrounded by ghouls trying to claw in and shrilling at the both of them, that Dimitri felt his knees go weak. When.. was there so many..? Rather, there was no way to get out..! Panic sank into his mind and he was ready to grab the nearby broom to defend himself, yet Byleth stared all the same as if it was another rainy day and sighed with his unchanging expression.

 

"This is why I leave to the other world. The psychopaths in the other world only think about going to the world of the living and attack this shop. Even though there's no way for them to get in here, but it quite troubles me since I can't have customers or fetch food for the whole day."

 

He took out a gold coin from the pocket of his vest and Byleth flicked the coin into the air with a flick from his thumb, the coin rising high into the sky. 

 

Dingggg..

 

Suddenly Dimitri saw the surroundings around then turn from the lounge into that same strange sight of the otherworld.

A wide field of nothingness yet on the ground a white moon was reflected below them, as if it was a giant puddle and ripples on the ground from rain of sort. Even though there was no rain above them.

 

"The ripples are what cause the strangeness of what you saw earlier," Byleth began as he began to walk along the reflection of the mirror with both of Dimitri's and Byleth's footsteps leaving ripples of their own, "You're aware of how time moves slower here correct? This phenomenon will stop within a month of our stay here when the guardians rein back the ghouls so we can return."

 

"That's why you packed so much…" Dimitri had slowly began to calm down and he took a deep breath to relax his nerves from earlier, yet he found himself growling, "And? Where are we gonna stay for that time?"

 

Byleth waved his hand in a dismissive manner to the obvious tension from Dimitri. "Patience patience. We will be there when that man bothers to finally pick us up." 

 

"My? I would appreciate some acknowledgement to my presence and gratitude then," A voice spoke from the shadow under their feet, as slowly the combined shadow below them stretched out and a man with hair dark as the nothingness around then emerged.

The stranger bowed in front of Byleth as he spoke, "It is a pleasure to host you again, Owner of the Divine Room and his little assistant. Your Excellency's been awaiting your arrival," yet Dimitri felt a shiver down his spine at each word that seemed to hint at another meaning.

 

Were they truly not hostile…?

 

"Ah don't mind this slithering man," Byleth waved his hand upon seeing Dimitri's face wrinkle up, "This is Hubert. Edelgard's right hand man and also the pseudo Butler with a tongue of a snake."

Dimitri could already see Hubert's eyebrow twitch immediately at those words before Hubert's visible eye narrow at Byleth. "Yes… if it had not been for the fact her Excellency is quite fond of you I would simply cut your tongue for all your years of insolence."

Yet Byleth simply stared for quite some time before covering his as he spoke with a monotone voice, "My how terrible. Goodness I'm scared such a possibility."

 

Dimitri could already hear Hubert's teeth grind just a little bit from where he was before Byleth continued on, "As a friendly olive branch by the way. The boy you're fond of? He is aware he should not stop by on the day of the full moon. So you don't have to be too hostile now."

 

Boy?

 

Dimitri wasn't too sure who Byleth was referring to but upon that information, Hubert looked away without a world and instead raised his hand as a large black gate raised from the shadows. That erringly looked like a guillotine that Dimitri could even see a faint wispy shadow above the gate that looked the blade.

 

This wasn't a deathtrap was it?

 

"Now, go on Dimitri. It won't hurt us in fact I think you might like the place we'll be at for a month," With a long stride and suitcase in hand, Byleth stepped in first through the gate and Dimitri followed after into the gate.

A loud sound of metal falling snapped Dimitri out of it and before he knew it, he saw that they were in front of a large manor pitch black with red flags flying around.

What was more was the white blue sky they were in had dragons and black pegasus flying around freely without a care in the world. It reminded Dimitri of Ingrid's childhood storybooks of kings and queens he read with the others on his happier times.

 

"... Now enough gaping stupidly like fish there. Your Excellency is waiting for you two. This way," Hubert gestured his arm towards inside the manor.

 

So, it was time to meet this judge of destiny huh? Dimitri took a deep breath. He wasn't to let himself he afraid..!

As the group went inside the manor did a small girl with brown pigtails stare from the window and hand pressed against the glass window.

 

"... Hmm… How interesting.."

 


 

What kind of place was this?

 

Medieval armor around with weapons hanging around and portraits of people running around in the pictures without worry. What kind of place was this? But what did catch Dimitri's eye was there was one large portrait but it was empty, as if to tuck it away.

 

Why leave an empty portrait?

 

How strange.

 

The walked along the vast manor through the hallways and they soon stopped in front of one door of large mahogany doors, lined with gold decorations and design. 

It looked rather empty at first but upon the moment Hubert lifted his hand, the doors swung open and Dimitri's eyes widen at the sight in front of him.

In the center of the room there was a woman wearing a bright red armor, but he could see golden horns growing from her head. A demon? Rather what surprised him was when he saw the black tail peeking from the dress, swaying side to side.

She was in the middle of talking to someone until the group entered the room, and she raised her hand to dismiss her conversation partner to make a beeline towards Byleth.

 

"Teacher. It's good to see you again after quite some time. I see you will be staying here during the time of the full moon again?"

 

Teacher?

 

Dimitri glanced over once but he kept his attention on the woman before he felt a sharp kick from Hubert on his ankle.

 

"Know your place. This is Lady Edelgard. Her Excellency, I will not have you of all people to show her disrespect."

 

That slimy bastard..

 

Why the hell would he show respect to someone he just met?! 

 

Before an argument could break out, Edelgard raised a hand to Dimitri her lips curled up in a smile. Yet the smile didn't seem to reach her eyes rather Dimitri almost felt a chill. No… she was analyzing him.

 

"It's fine Hubert. I'm rather interested in teacher's new apprentice even after so many years I begged you to let me be your own apprentice," Edel chuckled softly, "My look at me sounding like a jealous woman who feels like her beloved was stolen."

 

Was she hitting on Byleth..?! Dimitri snapped his head over to the usually calm Byleth stare at Edelgard with a tilt of a head. "You call me teacher all because I taught you to not die. Besides.. Beloved? I do not recall such a thing."

 

He bowed however to the woman in front of him and Dimitri turned his gaze away at that. A long nap sounded good about now, but honestly, Dimitri would rather just hole up in his room and sleep away the month.

 

"Now enough of silly things. I have prepared the outside home for you two already. I will send someone to you when meals are ready or if anything comes up," The woman began to walk towards the door and the black cape flapping along the breeze.

 

Almost like an iron maiden in paintings of war Dimitri once saw with his family long ago.

 

Just like that only Byleth and Dimitri were left alone in that vast throne room as Byleth pocketed his hand into his vest, pulling out a silver key with an emerald embedded in the center of the key. “Now, shall we go to our lodgings? Let’s consider this a vacation after all. What do they call them in the world of the living, a honeymoon?---”

“THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT A HONEYMOON,” Dimitri found his voice near breaking new octaves he never thought possible but at the same time he almost felt his heart squeeze in betrayal to his denial. It was just because this person was strange.

 

Yes.

 

Because Byleth was so strange unlike ghouls or human beings. It wasn’t feelings. It was simply because this person was making him strange.

 

After all. 

 

He wasn’t allowed to be happy not when Dimitri’s own family was dead.

 


 

“This.. is far from modest.”

 

A luxurious house with everything they could ever possibly need and even modern technology could be seen around the house with a TV on the wall, or even the latest phone next to a rotary dial phone. Actually it was rather strange there was also a mix of other things such as statues of dogs or cats around the place too. Was this some weird method of courting in Edelgard’s eyes?

 

“Nonsense. I asked them to have some modern technology for you to use. It is a stay for both of us. I suppose Hubert had to ask the boy he’s fond of for advice,” Byleth moved to sit down on the couch to slowly unpack everything from that endless suitcase of his, “Or I suppose it’s an excuse to talk to the apple of his eye.”

 

Apple?

 

Dimitri glanced around before plopping down to sit on a plush chair in the corner and held on to his own bag of things that simply contained the necessaries. “Why would he need to ask another spirit for advice?”

“Ah you misunderstand. Hubert is fond of one customer in the lounge actually. The boy hasn’t dropped by for a few months due to his studies in university. He’s the rare kind of human who is spiritually aware of the dead but has no idea of it.”

 

Wait.

 

What?

 

“You mean.. They /talk/? On a daily basis?!” Dimitri couldn’t imagine that kind of person who perhaps lived the same life as him but still manage to live a normal life that let him go to school normally. Especially when Dimitri could barely handle living as a functional member of society with his innate ability.

Byleth waved his hand, “There is some special circumstances for both Edelgard and Hubert actually. But yes. The boy in question is quite the tea fanatic so I enjoy having conversations about tea he’s even gifted me quite a collection of amazing tea with berries or the such-”

 

That was Dimitri’s cue to leave.

 

He got up from his spot as Byleth continued to ramble on about tea and made a beeline right to the nearest bed room, slamming the door closed the moment Dimitri reached it. In the safety of the room did Dimitri let out a sigh and tossed his things right next to the bed, letting himself fall on the soft mattress. 

At the moment he honestly couldn’t care if this room was his own or not, but right now Dimitri just wanted to sleep away his fatigue.

 

Ah how tired he was.

So, so tired.

 

So.

 

Tired.

 

Letting the darkness take over his vision, Dimitri found himself already drifting to sleep but the last thing he could hear as sleep took over his mind was a soft giggle of a girl.

Along the smell of sweet flowers and the scent of the earth.

 


 

“Hey! Hey!”

 

Ahh he was already so tired he just wanted to sleep away the day. Today the sun was so warm and comfortable, it was already enough to soothe his mind away. At least until he felt a harsh kick to his side as a girl yelled up in response, “Wake up!”

 

“OW!”

 

Quickly sitting up from his spot did Dimitri glare at the culprit in question before noticing the girl in front of him wearing a red dress and her hair tied in two pigtails. Though what did catch his attention were those vivid purple eyes. Where did he see them before?

 

“Really I want to go play together, so let’s go!”

 

Play?

 

He wasn't a kid anymore, why would he ever want to go play with this kids in the first place but even as he thought of that his head began to pulse with a severe headache. Dimitri held his head but he did notice one thing was off: why did he feel so small? No rather.. He looked down at his clothes to see he wore clothes different from what Dimitri remembered wearing: floral looking royal blue clothes. And his hair was much longer-

 

Until he saw his hands.

 

Small tiny hands unblemished with no signs of scars from Dimitri’s rough housing and Dimitri reached out to touch his hair, with his mind slowly turning into a frenzy. This wasn't right at all. Nothing was right about the situation. 

 

Why was he a child again?!