It was a casual look at the calendar that planted the idea in her head. They hadn't celebrated such a holiday in years, no...not since the Great War had ended, not since their parents had both been lost in that catastrophic mayhem. It was very painful to think about, and so they had stopped thinking about it. Mostly. Except when something reminded them of it.
But this year...this year was a little different, wasn't it?
"We should do something for him."
"Do something for...the Boss?"
"Who else would I be talking about?" Droite looked at her sister. "He's taken us in, and he's taught us lots of stuff...isn't that what-"
"No no, it's a good idea. I'd like to get him something."
The two girls were some of the newest members of the guild known as Leviathan's Claw, having been there for little over six months. It wasn't always easy, but they did like it. Most of all, they were happy to be of service to the guild whose leader had done so much for them.
Prior to joining, they'd been living at Nor House Orphanage - a home that was unique because unlike many other establishments of its kind, Nor House was actually a decent place to be. The headmistress (Ms. Ferris) was a kind woman, and while they certainly didn't live like nobles, there was always food on the table and a warm bed to sleep in. Of course, without the aid of their benefactor, they would have been in far worse a position. He was decidedly odd in some respects (particularly in his manner of speech), but he was a kind man, and had never asked for a thing in return.
This little detail hadn't mattered to Gauche and Droite, however. Though Yeager never said how much money he donated - or even that he'd done anything at all, besides the occasional toys or treat of sorts - Ms. Ferris spoke of him often enough that most of the children at least knew about his aid. And Gauche and Droite had decided that they wanted to give something back. When they found out he was the leader of a guild (Ms. Ferris had not advertised this), well, there simply wasn't a question what they would do. Maybe they could give back to the orphanage that way, too.
He had not been fond of the idea. No, his guild was not a place for twin nine-year-old girls. His guild was not a place for nine-year-olds or girls in general (there were mostly males in Leviathan's Claw and just because he had some manners that didn't mean many of his men did. Sailor talk and drunken idiocy were rampant). But wait a few years, and he might reconsider.
But the girls were persistent. So, some eight months ago, after one of his visits, they'd attempted to follow him (this was after being denied several times, of course). They didn't get further than the town entrance when he'd caught them and returned them to the House, but that was only one setback. They kept trying, and at last they'd managed to dog him more than halfway back to The Manor of the Wicked.
(Really, shouldn't the name of the compound alone have been enough to scare them away?)
In any case, following the funky guildleader all the way to Dahngrest was quite a feat for two nine-year-old girls. They'd proven their tenacity sure enough, and they obviously weren't going to give up any time soon.
So he gave in.
That had been six months ago, and despite some difficulties, the girls had adapted to their new lives rather well. They didn't go out on missions by themselves yet (they were much too young), but instead accompanied Yeager whenever he had guild business, in this way learning how the guilds were run. Yeager was also instructing them in the art of battle; such knowledge was an essential to anyone on Terca Lumereis, but most especially in guild life where there was little-to-no help from the Empire, and one needed to be self-sufficient. The training wasn't easy, but their leader was patient.
For his part, Yeager had grown quite fond the twins and took care to watch over them. He had always been fond of children - if only fate had not stepped in and taken away his dear Casey - and the girls rarely gave him cause for complaint. He enjoyed having them around.
"Okay, so, help me out here! What should we get him?" Droite looked at her sister.
"...You haven't thought of anything?"
"Well, a few things, but..."
Gauche sighed. "What about a new cravat?"
"He has like, twenty. I thought maybe a new sharpening stone, but he has two."
"He gets his all custom-made from the cobbler's guild."
"A new shirt?"
"He just bought some." Gauche sighed again. Men were so hard to buy for! Fortunately, Yeager had to go into Dahngrest soon, so they would be able to look at the shops then. The hard part would be getting the gift in secret.
"Well, it's worth a shot," Gauche said. "We'd have had to go into the city to get it, anyway."
Dahngrest was a full day's walk from the Manor, so any excursion to the city meant an overnight stay. The girls didn't mind, though; they liked the trip.
The three reached the city shortly before 5 'o clock (they had left before dawn) and headed straight to the Sagitarrius for dinner. Then they went toward the market and shops.
"How are we supposed to go look for a present for him if he's around?"
"Gauche? Droite? Is somesing wrong?"
Gauche elbowed her sister. "Nothing at all!" she smiled.
"If you are sure..." If the man had had eyebrows, one would have been raised in confusion. "Was zhere someplace you wanted to see?"
"The...dress shop. May we?" Gauche asked.
"I don't zee why not."
"Why the dress shop?!" Droite hastily whispered.
"It sells men's stuff, too."
"Is everysing alright? My, but you two are acting strangely, today!" Yeager was frowning down at them - not angry, but concerned.
"We're just...excited, that's all," Droite finally said (this was not a lie).
"Dahngrest is always so lively," Gauche added. Yeager heartily agreed with that, then turned and continued toward the shop, girls in tow. Their answer was plausible enough.
The dress shop was deeper into the city, past the eastern pub, up on the northeast side of town. The owner greeted them merrily as they walked in.
"How nice of you to come!" he exclaimed. As Mr. Rodney sidled up to talk Yeager's ear off, the girls ducked away into the store.
"That old blabbermouth's timing was perfect!" Droite cheerfully noted. "He's totally got Boss distracted!"
They proceeded to look through the entirety of the men's department, trying to pick something. Ties were no good - he only ever wore cravats - and tailcoats were waaaay too expensive for two ten-year-old girls. Besides, the coats (like his shoes) were custom-made. And while both girls agreed that Yeager wouldn't look half-bad in a hat, they got the distinct feeling that he didn't like them. Droite suggested looking at the shirts anyway - perhaps they would find something - but by that time, Yeager had had enough of the chatty storekeeper and was very ready to leave.
"Come on, girls, let's be going, now..."
"Girls, do hurry along, please." Yeager didn't want to wait for Mr. Rodney to find another topic to yammer on about. By the Entelexeia, that guy really couldn't shut up. As they exited the shop, Yeager asked the girls to remind him to never, never go in that store again (at least not if Mr. Rodney was minding it).
"Zat horrid yittle man never stops wis' his talking! Yak yak yak!" Yeager half-exploded. "Didn't you find anysing?"
Gauche shook her head, but Droite was distracted by something in the window.
"What is zat...?" In the window was an neck-piece ornament of sorts: it was oval-shaped, with what looked to be a small white motif on red and black background, silver edging, and a silver-melded decoration along the top. It was very nice, but what originally caught Droite's eye was that it was attached to a cravat, as part of a more formal ensemble. Still, it'd look quite good with their boss's usual attire.
"Ah, yes, indeed," Yeager was nodding, "but it is almost dark; you can come back tomorrow if you wish, ja? For now, we should get back to ze Inn."
"What did you see in there?" Gauche whispered softly.
"It's something to go with his cravat. I think we have our gift!" she grinned.
Yeager was awake and gone early the next morning; he had a meeting with the Union that day (guildleaders only, and thus the reason for the trip), but he left the girls some gald and a note, saying they could go around the city as long as they were careful and stayed away from the shadier parts of town, and that he'd be back sometime after lunch.
Droite and Gauche were pleased.
Yeager ended up returning to the Inn mid-afternoon. It was too late to start back to the Manor, so they would spend another night in Dahngrest and leave the next morning, instead. As always, they left before the sun rose, assuring they'd arrive home in the early evening.
They had only been home for a few hours - Yeager was in his room, Gauche and Droite were getting ready to put the dinner dishes away - when the girls decided that they couldn't wait any longer (they'd decided to give him the present after dinner. Well, that was done!).
Mr. Rodney, for all his talkative, annoying ways, was really a good storekeeper and had put the cravat ornament in a fancy little white box, with a fancy blue bow on top; it looked festive. Gauche hid the box behind her back while Droite knocked on his door.
"Ja, who is it?" came the muffled reply. At the cheerful, "It's us, Boss!", they were immediately granted entry.
"My girls, is zhere somesing you needed?" he asked as they walked in. He was sitting at his desk, tailcoat hanging off one side of the chair. Gauche pulled the present out; she and Droite handed it to him.
He blinked, then looked back at them, confusion on his face. "What is zis?"
"It's for you!"
"Open it!" Even the normally staid Gauche was smiling brightly. How could one deny to acquiesce? And he was growing very curious himself.
"It is..." He lifted the small object out of the box.
"It's to go on your cravat," Gauche said.
"That's what we were going to the shop for," Droite added. "We wanted to get you something!"
Yeager smiled as he studied the little piece; it really was rather handsome, a worthy addition to the wardrobe. The girls had done very well in picking it out. But what really touched him was that they'd picked out anything at all. They didn't have to. "My girls...Thank you."
"We're just glad you like it," Gauche said.
"Yeah, it was hard to pick out!" Droite declared, and Yeager chuckled.
"Ja, I would suppose zis would be so," he nodded (he knew it couldn't have been easy!). At this, he got up and wrapped an arm about each girl, drawing them close in a hug. "Thank you," he said again, smiling back at each of them. "Zis means a lot. I shall treasure it." The girls returned the embrace, smiling.
The hour was late now; the twins had been put to bed much earlier. The cravat - complete with its new adornment, for the girls wanted to see how it looked - had been laid on his desk for now.
Yeager yawned then; yes, he ought to be getting to bed as well. The day had been long and the trip had been tiring. He stood, moving to pick up the neck accessory. As he did so, his eyes fell upon the calandar.
Remday, 37th of the Second Month of Ifrit.