Crane had been out on a mission and then driven insane by Cora's incessant need to break every rule they had in place, sneaking out and keeping him both frustrated and on his toes. Needing a break he knocked on a familiar door in the Ailward Mansion and heard two familiar barks and couldn't help but chuckle, "Hey you two it's just me." He said softly listening to the barking calm and there was a bit of a whimper from one, he assumed that it was Nala since she seemed to enjoy spending time with him. 

"Hey Sapphire, you want to go grab some ice cream or something? I need out of this place and some down time before I lose my mind." Plus he could use a bit of a pick me up from Miss Positive since Sapphire was one of the most optimistic people that he knew.

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As she was already dressed in her relaxing pajama's, Sapphire turned  her head to the pups as she smiled. Hearing the dogs bark before hearing the familiar voice. She got up and headed to the door as she opened it with a smile. "Sure I would love to plus I have been in here for too long." She said as she could see that Akira and Nala trying to nudge their way out to see Crane. "Girls go." She siad as she smiled, "Give me a minute and I will be ready." She said as she smiled and closed the door so she could change into something more suitable instead of being in her pajamas. 

After a few minutes, Sapphire came out in a shirt and shorts as Spring was already starting to show. "Ok I am ready." She said as she closed the door behind her with her phone and wallet in her pocket. "So ice cream and a walk to talk about things?" she asked as she smiled. 

Crane was glad that Sapphire had agreed but it would have been weird if she had told him no but he was sure strangers things had happened. "Alright awesome, I'll see you in a few." He said as Akira and Nala came out to greet him and he couldn't help but chuckle and pet them both, scratching them under the chin and behind the ears. Nala stood up on her back legs with her front paws on his legs. "Alright, alright, come on." He said leaning down and lifting her up holding her to rest against his chest with her head on his shoulder. "Better?" He asked as Nala gave him some little pug like happy noises as he rubbed her back while leaning down to continue to pet Akira as well not wanting to leave her out.

"Do you want to take the girls?" He asked giving her a smile as she came out ready to go, "I know a little place that allows dogs." His phone was in his back left pocket and his wallet in his right back pocket attached with a chain to hold it in place in a very 90s fashion but it was just the way he was. "Ice cream, a walk and a talk sounds like a plan to me though." He didn't necessarily have to talk but he did just want to get out of here for a bit because there was lot of pressure in being a personal guard to an aspect.

Sapphire smiled as she looked at the pups. "Sure we can bring the pups, I am just alittle worried what people might think with Akira though. She has gotten bigger since and she is looking more wolf than dog." She said worriedly but she shook it off. "To heck with it, I have trained Akira since she was a pup so lets take them." Sapphire said as she grabbed the leashes for the pups and linked them onto their collars before closing her door. "So lets get going." She said as she let Crane take Nala as Nala liked Crane. As they pair walked out with the dogs, Akira stayed by Sapphire's side as they walked like a well trained guard dog. Nala on the other hand walked beside Crane and kept looking up at him. "My girls love you, you know that." She said as she chuckled as she walked. 

The phoenix looked at him as she smiled softly. "So what is going on in your life?" She asked as she smirked at him as they walked. "I know you didnt really want to talk, but still its better to talk about things. Plus I am still trying to read people more though their body language." She siad as she looked at him. 

Crane could understand Sapphire’s worry, it wasn’t every day that most saw a wolf being walked but Akira was still a dog and she shouldn’t be left out just because of her breed. Beside most didn’t know it but Sapphire and Crane were both fully capable of handling Akira should anything happen. “You can more thank handle your girls whether other people realize it or not. Besides if others had a say poor Akira would always be left at home and that’s not kind.” Crane had the tendency to like animals more than people anyway and they should have a day out too. Most would laugh at Crane with a little pug but the size of a dog didn’t measure his masculinity and Nala could be a fierce little girl. “The feeling is mutual to be honest, both Akira and Nala are great.” Both well trained and social.

Even though he didn’t really want to talk, Sapphire was hard not to talk to. With her silence was strange and conversation was easy. “Cora’s a handful and being her personal guard isn’t always the easiest but that was my choice.” An accidental choice to be sure but still a choice. “Then I try t be close with all the guards but one’s been one of my best friends since she came to the Isle of Skye and she’s just kind of cut me off.” Which he truly hated since he wasn’t that close to a lot of people. Nala moved to bump against his leg as in support as he smile down at her, “Thanks girl.”

Sapphire smiled as she nodded, listening about how Akira was a trained dog. As the pair and the pups walked, Sapphire smiled at Nala for a moment as she let out a small chuckle before listening to Crane talk about things. "Well I could understand being a personal guard now. Well not as much as I should. I was just recently told that I am going to be the personal guard to Aurantia. I have met her only once and she is a sweet heart." Sapphire said as she looked at Crane before listening more about Crane's best friend. "W-Why is she doing that?" She asked as she started to frown. As they walked, Sapphire could see that Nala was trying to be supportive to Crane and it caused her to smile at her for a moment before going back to Crane. "Maybe she is trying to take her Guard duties more seriously? Or maybe she is hiding something from you." Sapphire said as she looked at Crane. 

It was sad for Sapphire to see someone alittle down because of someone. Yes, Sapphire hasnt met all the guards but she has been trying to be friendly to all the ones she knows and is hopeing to be friends with all the guards but also taking her Guard duties seriously since she is now a private guard to a Aspect and ontop of being a gaming company owner which wasnt hard for her. "When was the last time you talked to her?" She asked as she looked at him.

Crane’s brow rose since he knew Tia, just Cora didn’t think she needed a personal guard. Unlike Cora, he knew Tia wouldn’t make Sapphire feel unwanted. “I’d ask to switch but I’ll eventually learn how to train a dragon.” The dhampir jested glad that Sapphire got the better end of the Aspect deal. “Tia’s great, can’t blame her for spending more time away from the manor than the rest.” Everyone knew that the Aspect of Elements had somewhere else to run to and someone else to watch out for her, at least that was the rumor. “She doesn’t handle loss well, I guess she figures that if she leaves me at arms length it won’t hurt as much if something happens to me. We both lost a lot on the Isle of Skye and I ended up pulling her from the Isle so I didn’t loss her too. I know she’s grateful but at the same time I wonder if she resents me a bit with thinking she could have helped more people.” There was nothing to prove or disprove that but he was worried about it even if he never really said it. “With Bex it’s hard to tell, if you haven’t met her yet you will one day. She’s pretty closed off just because of how he life has been, we’re pretty similar in that way.” Though with Sapphire it was hard to be closed off or keep her at a distance since she was just so positive that she lite up the world.

Crane enjoyed the time he was able to spend with Sapphire and the girls, which is why he sought her out today. There wasn’t much that could put Crane in a good mood and there were fewer people that he genuinely enjoyed being around but Sapphire was just one of those magnetic and positive forces. Which was really what he needed right now. Leaning down a little he scratched Nala behind the ear. “Probably about a month ago, maybe more. I’ve tried to reach out but she’s shot me down.” And right now he needed a friend while trying to deal with Cora and the weird tension of the city. The ice cream shop was only a few month blocks down which wasn’t bad and for the first time in a long time he wasn’t too concerned about reaching his destination.

Sapphire listened to him and smiled alittle. Hearing more about Tia made Sapphire feel alittle better as she nodded and then chuckled when he wanted to switch. "Well Sorry I dont think we can switch." She siad as she listened. When he started talking about Bex, Sapphire looked at him and listened as she wanted to understand. As he explained about how Bex was closed off, Sapphire nodded as she looked at him and continued to walk as she stopped. "Maybe something in her is causing her to keep people from getting close to her." She said as she watched Crane scratch Nala behind the  ear and made her smile. She was glad that she had at least two friends in the Guard since she hated to be alone unless she was hurting which many people never really saw her hurt because she was always good at hiding it when she was sad.

As the Ice cream shop was getting closer, Sapphire nodded. "I have met Cora once and she might be just afraid to get close to people because she knows that people who get closer to her will be gone or disappear from her life. I know that she didnt want to get close to me after I helped her with her injury but she was warming up to me. It just takes time for people who have had people disappear or are gone from their lives to get close to people who they know that they will outlive them. " Sapphire said as she looked at Crane as Akira walked beside Sapphire as she talked and walked. "Heck, I was the same at first but I am different from the others. I know I can outlive certain people but still I am able to die. Anyways, Just give both girls time to come around you. The more you let them warm up to you, the more they will trust you and open up more." Sapphire said to him.

Crane nodded as Sapphire spoke, she always made a lot of sense and seemed to have the innate ability to take a negative and turn it into a positive. “I think I know why she is that way, especially now. Though I can’t tell if she’s mad at me for saving her night or just afraid to let me back in.” And they had known each other since Crane was younger so it was hitting him harder than he would ever admit.

Getting Cora to warm up to him was like trying to give a stray cat a flea bath, it was a lot of effort and not exactly appreciated even if it was helpful in the end. Though he was doing his best and trying his best because he gave his all to everything that he did even if it was like beating his head against a brick wall. “It imagine it can’t be easy for people who are constantly going through Guards and have likely actually cared about some of them in the past. The Aspects didn’t exactly get a choice in what they became but we as Guards did pick this life.” Crane knew he was young compared to mean but older than a few but he had trained with Aurelia who was one of the best Guards and her family ties ran deep in the Ailward faction which had helped him a lot.

Reaching the door he opened it for Sapphire before setting in himself giving a wave to the man behind the counter who seemed delighted to see customers. “Hmmm, what to get what to get? Seems a much lighter choice than the rest of the ones in my life.” He teased while looking over all the different flavors and mix-ins.

Sapphire listened to him as he talked about Cora. The phoenix continued to glance at him as he spoke. "I agree it cant be easy going through guards and cared for them in the past." Sapphire said as she looked at him. "Well we do choose this life for us and sadly the Aspects just cant choose who they want to be but they can choose how to live their lives." Sapphire said softly as she walked into the ice cream parlor and smiled softly as she waved at the guy behind the counter too. Sapphire remembered that she would train with Dominic when she first started being in the guard. Memories flooded her mind as she smiled alittle, being spaced out thinking about her past. 

When Crane spoke, Sapphire pulled herself out of her trace and smiled at him as she chuckled. "Well I plan to get the moose tracks since it has peanut butter cups in the ice cream." She said as she looked at the flavors before looking at him. "I will say that picking a flavor is much easier than figuring out someone. I have been figuring out more about my friends so I can help them when I can." She said softly as she ordered her ice cream on a cone as she paid for hers. Sapphire then looked at Crane. "Crane, going back to Cora. I know it would be hard to get close to her since she has lost many people in her life but you should reassure her that you wont go anywhere. Yes there will be some times that you might get badly hurt but you are a strong guy, you will be able to live for a long time for her." Sapphire said to him with a smile as she licked her cone. 

A whimper came from Akira as Sapphire chuckled and pet her as she smiled. "Dont worry girls, I will get you a treat." She said as she looked for something that is dog friendly as she ordered the girls a small cup of ice cream for the each of them. After paying for them, Sapphire smiled at Crane as she waited for him to order so the girls could enjoy their ice cream. 

Some of the Aspects were very open and friendly but Cora wasn’t one of them, sure it made things a bit harder but at the same time he didn’t like when things were easy, it worried him. “All we can do is be there for the Aspects no matter what. I can’t imagine being killed in such a way and then brought back how they were. And then having to watch and those you know and start to care about move on in life or die.” He shook his head with a sigh feeling sadness beginning to creepy in but he tried to push it away. Emotions could give your strength or make you weak and he hated feeling the negative emotions because they could overwhelm him at times.

“Mmmh, peanut butter cups.” He found himself saying without even meaning to since well who didn’t love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter? “Figuring out other people or even my own life tends to be something difficult for sure.” Turning towards the man working he gave him a grin, “Can I get a waffle bowl with a scoop of Moose Track and a scoop of Rocky Road?” At a nodded he waited for it to be scooped before moving to pay, tossing some cash into the tip jar. “Can I get a bowl for water?” He asked motioning to the girls before they filled a bowl of water and handed it to him as he thanked them before turning back to Sapphire. “I’m trying, a Guard and Aspect have to have trust but building trust isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. Especially when you accidentally volunteer to be her Guard.” He said with a bit of a laugh as they moved to find a place to sit down.

Opening the back door by pushing his back against the bar he held it open for Sapphire so they could get to the fenced in outside area for people and dogs. “We didn’t forget about you two.” He said with a chuckle before heading over to a table and sitting down, placing his ice cream down on the table and the bowl of water on the ground for the girls. “How are things going with you in the Guard and work world? Finish anything recently?” He asked remembering that he worked on games which he still found interesting and pretty cool.

Sapphire smiled as she walked out the back and sat down as she let the girls off there leash since the back was fenced in.  She looked at Crane, "I agree that building trust is hard. I had to do that with many people and I am still building trust with Tia even though she is trusting me better than I thought. As for Cora, I was there when she needed help so I helped her. Cora managed to trust me enough to help her with her injuries and she started to open up alittle bit when we sat and talked as she was warming up. But I can see how you are upset that she isnt trusting you much. I would be upset if she didnt trust me if I was her personal Guard. But like I said trust has to be earned and not forced onto someone." Sapphire said as she sat down and put the small scoops of ice cream in plastic cups down for them too. 

The phoenix smiled softly as she watched her pups eat their scoops as she turned to Crane. " Well me and Tia are doing great since she is helping me get a horse or two. As for the gaming company, I have been working on mostly some zombie games and I managed to get one finished but it isnt out yet." Sapphire said as she smiled at Crane as she took a bite of her ice cream. "What about you? How are things with you? Like what have you been up to besides Cora." Sapphire said as she smiled softly. As the two talked, Sapphire would glance down at the girls who laid down besides them. The phoenix chuckled as her pug, Nala, laid over by Crane's foot. "Well I see who you like more." She said joking to Nala who barked at her. 

After sitting down he stuck his spoon into his ice cream and scooped out a good amount before sliding it into his mouth as he listened to Sapphire talk. He was sure that she was right, after all Cora seemed to currently view him as a bit of a slacker which was actually far from true. From the age of twelve forward, the Guard was all he had really known, he literally lived for them having stopped his aging which was a dhampir trait. “Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. It would just be easier if she didn’t view me as the enemy trying to ruin her way of life. I’m not trying to do that, I want to have her back and make sure that she’s safe even if we bicker more than siblings.” Which was a pretty accurate assessment of their Guard and Aspect relationship. “Might be easier to try to force her to trust me that to earn it, I might end up like Hercules with those impossible tasks or whatever it was.” He said as he pulled on very old memories of a Greek story Rei once told him when he was a kid.

A dark brow rose as he listened to Sapphire, “Horses huh? You going to keep them at the manor or at Tia’s place with her Valkyr fellow?” Maybe he shouldn’t call Tia’s boyfriend a fellow, from what he heard the guy was pretty nice but Crane figured that he had to be if he was able to talk Tia into moving in. “Like Resident Evil and Left for Dead type zombie games?” He wasn’t the biggest gamer but he had seen those in the manor rec room and watched some people play them. Crane wasn’t much for the shoot them up, killer type games, but then again he wasn’t much into any games. Well maybe Little Big Planet since that was just cute, wholesome and fun. “Other than Cora I’ve been working on a few cars in the garage and tending to some of the herbs I planted in the garden. Just a weird mix of working with machinery and the land but I like to work with my hands so it all works out.” He tried to have a real job but being Cora’s guard took up too much time so he had to let that idea go. Feeling a weight on his foot he looked down at the pug while chuckling, “She knows good people and she only likes me more right now because she doesn’t see me all the time. We both know she loves you the most. Huh girl?” He asked her and she barked as if in agreement.


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