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"Thank you so much for filling in," Ruth said. Ruth a sixty-year-old woman with enough spunk to take down a nation, needed a hip replacement. Clara knowing Ruth from the library had quickly become friends over a series of days; with news of the surgery, Ruth had been unsure of who was going to fill in for her at the animal shelter mainly catering to dogs at the moment, but as Clara usually did, she couldn't help but say that she would do it.
That was then, this was now, it was four in the morning and Clara hadn't even had the chance to make herself a tea before she even left the door of her house. What Clara hadn't realized when she signed up for helping her friend and the shelter was that she would be filling in for Ruth's ungodly morning shift. A little too late she had found out, but being the positive person Clara was, she decided to make the best of it.
"Of course, Ruth, no problem really," she said, the white lie passing through her lips with ease.
"You really are a sweetheart," the older woman replied, grabbing her purse off the counter and making her way over to the door. "Thanks again,"
"Bye," but the reply never hit the older woman's ears for she was already out the door.
"Alrighty best get started then," Clara said to herself.
The clock said nine o'clock, her eyes told her it was nap time. The coffee, a beverage Clara hardly drank, sat in her hands, half gone, it was going to be a brutal these next six to eight weeks. Clara had gone through everything that needed to be done, feed the animals, clean there cages, etc. etc. from the list, already knowing how to do everything with the training session she went through last week, the list was a crutch, one she planned on keeping for the time she was here, the only problem was she hadn't planned on doing everything by herself, the morning shift was shared between to volunteers and whoever that person was, they were extremely late. This shift lasted between four am to twelve pm, so the volunteer missing still had some time to get here.
When he first came to Evermore, which was over a month ago, the first thing he did was try to understand how many factions the eternal city housed and their rules. Of course, the first one had to be the Valkyr faction; led by someone very familiar to him, Gideon Ashworth. It seems that even the city attracted people like Gideon and Cecilia. He has yet to meet the Valkyrie and would love to be granted an audience with him, though the same couldn't be said regarding the other one. Don't get him wrong, they had no rivalry or the likes but he would rather stir clear from the Italian who received plenty of complaints because of him. You really don't want to stir up more problems than needed, right? Especially considering how new he is to the eternal city. He's never stayed at one place too long.
Much like his usual nomadic patterns, Adriel only stayed in one city for a span of 6 months or less before he tried to move to another. It does interfere with his work line, but thankfully, he had a way to make them understand. Fortunately for the Valkyr, his work allows him to travel a lot, especially when the company he works in had branches all over the country and others alike. He did try to get to know every single species in the city, of course. It was needed if he's going to find a way to navigate himself around. Did he memorize them all once he found out? Well, not fully, but he did have a book tucked away for his referential purposes. You can't remember everything, after all. He decided to also take up a few things he knows could get his mind of the work. Don't get him wrong, he loves his work, it paid the bills and he had fun doing them, aside from the whole lecture he had to go through every time because they wanted the plans to be absolutely perfect. But there were always flaws in the human system.
He noticed the clock ticking down and finally realized he was supposed to be at the volunteer center today, he promised that he would come and help Ruth. Before long, Adriel scrambled on his feet and rushed over to his destination. He totally forgot about today because he had been too busy thinking about the Celestials Wayfinder and his plans to present at work next Monday. By the time he got there, he was breathing heavily and tried to conserve his air before knocking against the front door,and stepping inside. The sounds of the bells ringing grom the door made him feel guiltier. "I'm sorry for being late… I totally forgot it was today and my alarms didn't work. I swear I wasn't sleeping, I was just buried in work- that's all... " he noticed halfway that he was babbling and bit his lip to refrain himself from saying more. "W-what should I start with?" It is his first time, after all. After he got a wind of the volunteering pamphlet last month, he was thinking of applying. Now here he is.
With the jiggle of the door, the dogs in the shelter began to bark, a common thing amongst dogs she acknowledged. Clara looked up from the front desk chair, her head always seemed to be in a book these days, oh who was she kidding, most days. Her eyes found there way at the volunteer. A man looked to be in his early twenties, but his eyes told her he had seen many hardships, his wavy blonde hair, looked slightly untidy and she couldn't tell if it was because he had forgotten to brush it or he had run his fingers through it one too many times.
The moment the man entered the shelter he began to speak, a bit of a rambler but Clara could relate. "I believe you, it's no problem really, I completely understand, though work does sound like a better reason for your being late, my reason is I'm usually stuck in a book," she lifted up and gestured and the fairy tale book that was held in her hands.
"I've finished most of the early chores, I've been here since four, so I've had the time, but the dogs need a walk, so I'll talk half, and you can take the other and we'll walk together, this place doesn't open till nine-thirty so we still have some time,"
Even though Clara was new, Clara could tell that the man was definitely just beginning as well. The two of them got all the dogs on their leashes, it takes more time then she had expected, and then they were both out the door.
The park was mainly empty, besides the two poodles who were playing with a ball of the other side of the doggy park. Clara had tied her hair up, and as the wind blew she was glad she did. "I'm Clara by the way," she said unleashing the collars of one of seven dogs of her leashed. "I'm filling in for Ruth,"
He was quick to make his way to the volunteer center he was put in and when his eyes found its way to the blonde standing behind the counter with a book in her hand. She looks as if she's been volunteering here all her life with how familiar she looks wirh the place. Who knows? Maybe she has. He didn't exactly know a lot of people here In Evermore, much less the people here in their neighborhood. "Well, being stuck with a book doesn't sound like a disadvantage or something bad. I can name plenty of things that wouldn't be half as beneficial as reading a book for being the reason for inexcusable tardiness… I've seen plenty of them." It ranged a lot, since he mainly works in an office as a financial manager, Adriel saw people coming in and out of the HR with a solemn look on their faces, most of the time because they were reprimanded for their work ethics and their tardiness. It was even a streak, at some point.
"I'm sorry for rambling earlier… it's a habit" A bad one, apparently, if he keeps doing it before the other could even have the chance to say a word. He listened to every word of instruction that comes out from her and nodded in agreement, clearly understanding what she was trying to tell him, it was an easy thing to do. The Valkyr had the leashes ready in his hand by then, there weren't that many dogs but even so, he was capable of handling the amount. He's always been a dog person. They were magnificent creatures. Before long, they were already walking the dogs to the park nearby, he was busy petting one of the golden retrievers when she introduced herself, "I'm Adriel. It's nice to meet you, Clara" he gave her a small smile as he too, unlocked the leash off their collars, "Have you been volunteering for long? Or is it also your first time?"
Clara unleashed the remaining dogs, and they were off, running around in all different directions, the squirrels didn't seem to stand a chance if a heard of the dogs came after them. She straightened from her squat position and extended her hand like her father had taught her so long ago. "Pleased to meet you, Adriel,"
One of the dogs, a shepadoodle, a cross between a german shepherd and a poodle came over with a stick, her collar had Misty as her name. A name the shelter had given her because she hadn't been named when they found her, or at least that's what Ruth said when they had gone over the dogs the other day, Ruth had given her a story for each of the dogs, most of the stories to sad to even listen too, it was a good reason to compel a person to adopt. " I've been volunteering all my life, but I just started volunteering here today, Ruth is getting a hip replacement, and I offered her that I would fill in," she replied. "And you?"
Misty barked as if being forgotten about and ignored weren't on her list of priorities today, the stick, she had brought over now stood at her feet.
"You had mentioned you were late for work, what exactly do you do, may I ask?" She picked up the stick and threw it, she had known when she signed up for the shelter throwing sticks would be on the list of things to do, she had looked forward to it.
His eyes held a certain sense of fascination the moment they unleashed all the dogs to the park, each and every single one seemed to know what they were targeting, especially those who couldn’t help but to hop over to the poor squirrels that were now trying their very best to steer clear of the bigger dogs’ way. Probably wise of them to do so if they didn’t wish to be a victim to their vicious paws. Once he had introduced himself, she too did the same, with her hand outstretched to which he accepted and shook gently with a smile, Please, the pleasure is all mine, Clara. It’s always nice to meet a new face and be acquainted with them” As it was his custom long ago, a habit that he managed to hold onto until today, Adriel had bowed his head as a sign of acknowledgement. It was always nice to be polite and curt, right?
“Ah, you’ve been volunteering your entire life… I see. Well, as you can see, this is my very first time doing things like this. It’s unnerving so to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect at all because I’m new to everything.” He had centuries of knowledge when it comes to a lot of other things but volunteering wasn’t exactly a concept back then, you don’t volunteer, you just do, or have someone do it for you. It was always one way or the other. Never in between, which tells a lot on how far civilization in mankind has gone through. At times, it was fascinating but others, the blond couldn’t help but to express his disappointment too. When a sheepadoodle barked for their attention, his gaze found her and a smile was etched on his lips as he crouched down to pet it gently, he had dogs back then too, one was even Ophelia’s.
When she asked what kind of occupation he worked, he cleared his throat a few times before grinning sheepishly, “I work as a financial manager for one of the companies here in Evermore. Not necessarily under them but their contract so it makes me an essential worker, I guess? I provide financial reports and plans for them every month and term. Advise them to make good investments here and there, all the normal things. It’s a bit of office work if I don’t scour new fields to help myself. I am thinking of branching out for a new business though, just not sure when I will have the time to do so. You? Are you working anywhere?”
The way he acted made Clara perceive as him as a bit older then he looked the curt head bow had given that away, it was something she had seen in the old English victorian movies and was getting used to seeing it done by a specific group of people.
Misty came back over, her tail wagging with absolute delight as if all the fun in the world was captured but this dog right at this very moment. She looked up at him and smiled. His hand petting Misty with love and care, the kind you got from having your own dog. "You're doing quite well, it's simple really, like any job, it takes some patience, and a little love, well, in this case, it wouldn't hurt to bring a little extra love into it, the dogs need it, but you're doing great so far, have you ever thought about volunteering before?"
"Impressive, what made you become a financial manager?" she asked. Misty dropped the stick from her mouth and begun to walk away as if trying to stay, You should have thrown it already, She complied, throwing the stick and standing back up once again. "I'm a librarian at Evermore's Public Library, I put away books, help decide new ones to put on the shelves, and old ones that need to be replaced, I also help plan events for the Libray such as different themed parties, the summer reading programs for kids, adult book clubs in all different forms." she replied to his question.
Though he has lived every single day of his life, Adriel never once strayed away from his roots, he was brought up to be a mannerful boy and that’s exactly how he would portray himself in front of everyone. May it be a curt bow or even a polite smile, he wanted to make sure he had his own tradition to stick by, The last thing he wanted to do was forget the things he has learned all these years. He spared her a small smile, as if he appreciated her words of kindness, “I can’t say that I have, no. Not really. I only stumbled upon the whole volunteering part today because of the flyer that this kid handed out last week. She didn’t seem older than 10 but she tugged me along and kept talking about how volunteering makes the heart softer. I can’t say no to a girl that old, can I?”
It would’ve been too upsetting if he did and honestly, Adriel knew he wasn’t looking forward to breaking another person’s heart, even if he was able to decline it. “I thought, why not? And though it hasn’t been long, I am starting to see the appeal in volunteering today” he nodded his head towards Misty while scratching the back of her ear fondly, “Wished I had the time to a dog of my own too but I don’t think I’m ready for that kind of commitment yet, not when I’m always holed up in my office.” His work demanded him to do a lot of things, unfortunately. “What about you? Do you have a pet of your own?”
When asked what prompted him to be a financial manager, he shrugged casually, “I like calculating things, probabilities and possibilities alike. It’s a risky gesture to be doing, especially when you probably have the decision of every investor on your hand while you advise them to do their ‘best’ move, but it’s fun. If I see a small business who looked as if they had potential to thrive in the future, I advise the investors. Maybe I can help those who just needed a push, you know?” It does put a pressure on him when a certain executive asked him to calculate the possibilities of acquiring the other smaller companies for subsidiaries though. But that’s another case. “A librarian, don’t you get bored being holed up in such a large space?” It was pure curiosity, of course.
She released a small chuckle at his answer, "Everbody gets roped into volunteering differently, let it be because they want to brag to there friends, or they want to help people, or in your case being guilted to do it by a ten-year-old, but it doesn't matter what made you start, it's that you did start, and you're here, making a difference." She spoke from the heart, helping people had always been a sort of second nature for Clara and volunteering seemed like a natural step in that direction for her life.
"I'm sad to hear that, you seem like such a loveable pet owner," she said watching as Adriel scratched behind the ears of Misty. "If you really do want a dog, I suggest you make time, I've seen in my life how sudden things can change, you don't want to wake up one day and regret it," with her parents dying at such a young age Clara had learned the best things in life involved taking chances and learning to open up to change, things happened so quickly with her parents Clara learned to make the best out of life. "I was thinking about getting a dog soon, but I just haven't connected with the one yet, you know what I mean? It's a bit confusing, but so far, I haven't met the right dog, even though they're all so cute," At the end of her sentence Clara directed it at the dog near her feet that had walked up to her moments before.
Clara listened intently about his work. "You sound very passionate, had you always wanted to be a financial manager or did you just stumble upon it?" she asked. Numbers and calculations weren't for her, never were, never will be. "No, it's always been...me, roaming amongst books and helping people find the right one, never seemed boring, it seemed like the perfect choice for me, it's quiet and simple," she replied to his question.
She sounded like she was giving a small speech from the way she talked about volunteering. Adriel wasn't used to socializing when he didn't have to, surprisingly even after all these years of roaming the earth, the Valkyr still kept a safe distance between himself and others. Getting too attached was not something he could afford, it was unfortunate but that was his way of life. Clara is a nice girl, when he entered the shop earlier, he could sense her warmth and she did not disappoint him when she chatted happily. He was a stranger yet she treated him like a friend. It felt nice. "It gets better when you make it a habit, I imagine. Start by once or twice, and you end up wanting to do more of it. That's going to lead to a healthy chain of reaction" you do a good deed today, and the person would do the same to another. A cycle continues.
The thought of having a dog was tempting to him, he wasn't going to lie. But the commitment to get one, now that was something he had to reevaluate again and again. Did he have time to take care of them? And most importantly, did he have enough time for them? He wasn't sure. So when she gave him a few suggestions on getting one if he truly wished to get it, Adriel found himself mulling over the decision as he paid attention to her words. It's a bit ironic to talk about how fast time passes by with him, as someone who has lived a lifetime. But she wasn't wrong, there's only so much time they could afford to waste. "Live while you're young, right?" It feels weird to say that but it works. He reminded himself that not everyone is an immortal. Even so, nobody is truly expendable. "Do you have any particular breed you prefer or like? Surely you must have one or two… or more. There are so many breeds around" all were cute and endearing in their own ways too.
When asked if his current occupation was something he always envisioned for himself or not, Adriel cleared his throat absentmindedly and chuckled softly, "Not exactly how I would put it. I never thought I would grow up to be a financial manager. But I like planning and predicting things. It gives you such thrill when your predictions and calculations are on point. It will end up being a valuable skill if you're gonna play in stock markets too." It can be quite stressful when the pressure sets in but overall, his experience was good. "Everyone must've had their own ambition when they were little, no? What was yours?"
"A very healthy habit indeed," she smiled warmly at him, over the years Clara had felt the calling to volunteering like no other but what she had come to learn it wasn't just helping people that had drawn her in, it was this, meeting new people and helping them to open up to a whole different world. The world they lived could be harsh and cruel and getting to see the softer side of humanity and all the beautiful things it could open up to was the most worthwhile experience, one but have to open their eyes.
Her eyes watched as him as he looked off in deep thought and when he asked her a question she felt it being a bit of a subject change, she didn't push though, instead, she smiled happily and listed them. "I always wanted an Australian Shepard or a sheepdog, maybe a Cocker Spaniel, when I was real little I wanted a poodle but that was in my phase of wanting to be French, I would wear a little buret, and these my little pony heeled shoes and go around speaking in a french accent, seems kind of embarrassing now," she looked off reminiscing.
He always wondered if he could be doing more volunteering if only he had the free time it required. "I would love to volunteer a lot more if the time allows me" more often than most one should be the one making their time because that was possible since the schedule won't clear it on itself. So when he was finally given the chance to do it, Adriel was quick to check it off his list. At least do it once in his long… very long life. He's been alive for 1200 years already and that's honestly a long time. Yet he couldn't remember the last time he wasn't working. Old habits, he was guessing. He didn't come from a good background after all. The entire place he went to was just exuding positivity, the sight of the dogs barking at one another was also very refreshing for the Valkyr who knew he might never get a similar chance like that again. It made him want to get a dog of his own, if anything.
He had asked her what kind of dog she would get ig she was given the chance, perhaps to make sure they could converse longer and take it as a bit of an ice breaker while they watch the dogs have fun on their own. The last thing he wanted to do was make it awkward more than it already was. Perhaps, he wanted to get her opinion for when he would get one too. "Phase of wanting to be French? What was that all about?" He raised his eyebrows in amusement upon hearing her response to that, "Sounds like that would be a good story to tell" he pointed out wryly. "And you didn't think French people would have other dogs that are not just poodles?" He teased. "I'm just asking because after seeing the dogs, I'm reminded of how much I used to want a dog. I just didn't have the time to… think about it. Do you think you have any suggestions?"
Clara nodded understanding about free time, she wondered how she did it sometimes, but then again it seemed to be all about juggling, finding a balance between work and relaxation. Her eyes drifted over to the dogs, she always enjoyed animals, and watching them run around and be free, she noticed some of the bigger dogs looked like they had started playing a game, their tails wagging as some of the other dogs chased them, barks coming from all directions.
She laughed, "Well, it's a strange story really, but there used to be this book I would read and I can't remember the title but it was about this little girl who was really fancy and elegant, and she just so happened to think French was the most romantic thing on this planet, and I guess I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be fancy and elegant too, " she replied. "And as an adult, I assume french people have more than just poodles over there, but when you're a child all you see are the things people have shown you, from books or movies, What about you, and childhood embarrassing stories?" they had just met but Clara had never really minded sharing stories with people, it was after all how you got to know somebody. "Well, since you lead a busier life I would suggest a dog that's low maintenance, like a french bulldog or a Boston terrier, I know those are both little dogs but I love seeing men with the tiniest of doggies, I think it's the cutest, but if you want a bigger dog maybe Bullmastiff or a Manchester terrier," she loved talking about dogs, or animals in general, she considered it a topic most people could talk about, keeping it casual while also having fun.