Nova and the boys burst through the doors, arguing as loudly as ever. The trivial squabble ends as they disperse in separate directions. The small redhead makes her way over to Aiden, observing his relaxed posture... until she sits on him anyway.
"How's it going Casanova?" she asks, plopping down on his stomach. Hand fluttering dramatically to her chest she continues playfully,"I see you managed to not do anything stupid while I was away."
"Well I was in constant distress as my princess was away for sooo long." Aiden retorted comically. "Anyways, I am taking you to a special place." Aiden looked into her eyes. "And I'm pretty sure you are going to love it. So once you're ready we'll get on the train for it."
"Really?" Nova asks, a little excited and a little surprised. She jumps up, towing Aiden up with her then stopping to comment, "You know, one of these days you're just going to melt into that couch and no one will ever be able to pull you out. I have to drop off some stuff at my house quick but otherwise I'm ready. Do I get to know this special place or is it a surprise?"
"Well its a surprise of course! And we can stop by your house on the way to the station." Aiden then grabbed Nova by the hand and they walked out the door together.
-------At Nova's house-------
A streak of dark fur blurs towards Nova and she opens her arms, allowing her oversized dog to climb into her arms. After a few licks he jumps down and races for Aiden. Nova slips downstairs to unload a variety of objects from her storage, mostly armors and weaponry not necessary anymore. After quickly changing she rushes upstairs to see both her parents have came to greet the new face. Kaden hangs back as Nova makes introductions.
"Mom and Dad, this is Aiden. Aiden, these are my parents. They're a bit weird, but pretty cool. Just don't tell them I said that," she stage whispers.
Aiden struggled to play with Tiny and introduce himself before finally getting the beast off of himself. Aiden smiled and outstretched his hand. "Good Afternoon, it's nice to finally meet you. Mr. Akira your work is amazing, the armors and weapons that you are able to make fascinate me. And Mrs. Akira I've heard that you can perform healing miracles. I'll have to stop by sometime if I ever end up seriously injured." Aiden then looked around the house. "Hmm. I also feel a strong magical presence, Kaden wouldn't happen to be around would he?" Aiden asked the Akiras.
Kaden snorts, "Strong? That would be Nova. Flattered that you thought of me though."
"Oh Kaden, play nice, would you? Lets hope you are never injured to the point where you require my talents," Madeline replies as her husband places an arm around her. Before Mr. Akira can speak up to harass Aiden a bit, Mrs. Akira holds up a hand and ushers the two mages out the door. "Go have fun, no need to hang rough us old bags. And take care of our little girl for us!"
Nova, embarrassed by the statement, pushes Aiden the rest of the way out the door.
"Haha your mother is pretty funny. We should probably catch the next train." Aiden and Nova then walked to the train station and boarded one.
Aiden smiled to himself as he sat next to Nova. "This is like the time we went on that one siren job together. And look at us now." The two conversed on the train the whole ride over laughing and napping until they finally reached their stop. They got off of the train and it seemed like they had stepped off into the middle of nowhere with nothing but a train station.
"Aiden... where on earth are we? This reminds me of the beginning of a horror movie or an old Western," she notes with a smile. "I like the latter comparison better."
Aiden didn't say a word to respond but instead pulled a whistle type instrument from one of his pockets. He blew into it but no noise came out. "Just wait one second. I promise you'll love our destination." A minute went by without anything happening when all of sudden Fidelma appeared out of nowhere besides Aiden. "Hey girl, how are you doing? We need to get to---" Aiden whispered the rest into Fidelma's ear and then hopped on. Aiden motioned for Nova to get on.
Slightly giddy, Nova mounts the beautiful beast as well. It's different than riding atop Tiny who's broader and focused more on size and strength. Fidelma feels like lean, taunt muscle built for speed and precision movements. She lets out a little 'woah'.
"And here we, go." With that Fidelma shot off with Aiden holding on tight to her fur and Nova holding on tight to Aiden's waist. Fidelma zoomed across the desert landscape for about a mile until some green grass patches started to show up more and more often. Grass appeared more frequently until the three were riding across a vibrant green prairie. They rode across it with nothing in sight taking it all in when suddenly a bright red barn appeared. Fidelma raced towards it eventually stopping right next to the side of it. Aiden and Nova then dismounted Fidelma and walked around the side of the barn.
There appeared a nice quaint looking house that had been nicely kept. Aiden walked to the front door and knocked on it. Out popped out a young woman who was dressed like she had walked out of book about a small house on a grass field. "Why hello there!" She said with a certain draw in her voice. "Are you here to see the attraction?"
"Yes ma'am I'll take two tickets." Aiden said and then handed her payment.
"Alright its right around back. Its open until ten o'clock and you have free access to the entire thing. Enjoy!" And with that the woman closed the door.
"What is this? I've never been here before?" Nova asks, waiting for him to spill his secret. She felt really excited but felt overlying confusion. There were a few suspicions rolling through her mind, none that felt very concrete though. She patiently waited for Aiden to tell her something, lead her somewhere, or just clear up this confusion.
Aiden, now very excited to show Nova, takes her by the hand and follows a small path that leads to a rather large decorated wall at the back. Aiden stands by the door, "Alright, are you ready? We have 9 hours to handle as many things as we can." And with that Aiden pushed the large door with his back. "Welcome to The Kingdom of Beasts."
As the couple walked through the door thousands of different noises could be heard. The plains had turned into a sort of sanctuary with different sized enclosures spanning out for miles. A variety multicolored birds flew overhead. The climate was rather humid in that spot but it seemed that seasons were occurring in different enclosures. Aiden took Nova to the closest one, "Look." in the enclosure was a pack of lions all sleeping together.
As soon as the surprise was revealed Nova thought she might cry. She absolutely adored animals and downright loved this. She looked at Aiden to try and convey her utter love for what he's done for her. As he leads her to the lion's enclosure, Nova almost squeaks because they're right there in front of her.
"They're-they're," she stutters, trying to supply herself with a weird but falling. Instead she ends up gesture wildly until giving up and hugging her partner. Her arms wrap around his torso and squeeze with affection and gratitude. "Thank you so much!"
Aiden hugged back and then told her, "Haha, hey thats not all. My parents know the owners." Aiden let loose of Nova and picked her up in his arms. He then jumped the railing and went into the enclosure. "Would you like to go meet the kitty cats?" He then started gently laughing.
Nova nods with a grin, slipping over the railing as well. She approaches them with Aiden slowly but still fascinated. A random question pops into her head and blurts through her mouth a millisecond later.
"Do they have names?" she asks.
"I have no idea, but why don't we give them names." Aiden took Nova up to the nearest lioness that was sleeping. He then started to pet the lioness and she calmly woke up and looked at the couple, "This is, Jenifur." Aiden chuckled to himself. "Alright Nova, you're turn."
Nova looks at the male of the pride with a calculating gaze. Tapping her chin, she thinks of something suitable. She grins and decides, "Clawde."
The lion perks his ears, responding to the silly name. He lifted up and padded over to Nova, nudging her knees. She lands on the ground with an 'oof' and he lays across her legs as if to say,"Payback, tiny human, for that foolish name."
"I can't pawsibly move him now!" she giggles.
Aiden helped Nova up. "Come on meow, we have the whole place to ourselves! Who knows what kind of animals they have here. After all it is the largest animal sanctuary in Fiore." Aiden continued to pet the lions and rub all of the cats bellies before asking Nova, "So what animal next?"
"Could we hoof it to some horses," she asks. The pun was intended but she was still serious. She had never really been up close to a horse surprisingly and the beasts fascinated her. The closest she had ever been was petting a miniature pony at a zoo with her biological parents but that was nothing compared to the wild grandeur of a full sized horse.
"Of course." The two then left the lion enclosure and walked a bit towards the horse enclosure. They finally arrived and looked in to see a wide assortment of all different types of horses on a wide pasteur. Aiden once again hopped into the enclosure and helped Nova get in. "Watch this." He said. Aiden then put two fingers into his mouth and blew into them making a loud whistling noise. A grey horse with white spots came trotting up to the two of them. The horse was quite large and already had a brown leather saddle atop its back. "Nova, meet Greystone. He's actually our family's horse. I used to ride him all of the time. Greystone, meet Nova. She's very important to me so be nice to her alright?" The horse then whinnied and reared its head up and down as to say "yes" to Aiden. Aiden then fed the horse some straw that was lying on the ground.
Nova gave Aiden a skeptical look, quirking her eyebrow as she asked,"You actually know how to ride?" She had no room to talk, never having learned herself, but it was just such a random fact that she couldn't help but be curious. Though curiosity killed the cat, it was satisfaction that brought it back so she let her curiosity reign. Nova didn't have much of a filter to begin with anyways.
Aiden laughed, "How do you think I know how to ride on Fidelma so well?" Aiden paused for a bit. "There are a lot of things that you don't know about me yet Nova." He looked at her now. "But Im hoping that I can trust you fully and with time, tell you every little secret that I know." The date took a very serious tone rather suddenly for some reason. "But were here right now." Aiden leaned closer to Nova. "So lets..." Aiden got even closer to Nova's face. "get you up on that horse."
A variety of emotions splayed across Nova's face as she went from touched to flushed to totally baffled. At his final suggestion she had to take a second, blinking in surprise but stuttering out,"I-me? No, no. Not that Greystone isn't lovely-he's magnificent- but I just... it's just... he's twice my size!" She finally gets out, turning away with a red face. She wasn't scared, moreso she just didn't want to utterly embarrass herself.
"He isn't twice your size. Come on." Aiden then picked up Nova and sort of threw her on top of Greystone with her on the saddle. "He's more like four times your size." Aiden then handed Nova the reins. "I'll be right next to you and make sure nothing bad happens to you." Aiden smiled at her. "When you're ready just click with you mouth and put your heels into his side with a small amount of force. You'll do fine."
"Okay," Nova says, agreeing to Aiden's crazy idea. "I trust you."
She takes a deep breath and follows his instructions, feeling the horse begin moving at the prompt. If Fidelma had been weird, this was absolutely crazy. The dog felt more like the horse than the tiger so this was easier. Power and strength with speed underlying. It took her breath away and a blissful smile stretched over her features as she looks around for Aiden, coming out of her thoughts.
Aiden then came up on a separate horse and rode side by side with Nova. "You're doing great! How about we kick things up a notch?" Aiden then clicked his heels into the side of his horse and the horse then started off on a trot. Aiden looked back at Nova. "Come on! Just bounce with the horse!"
Copying his movements, Nova ended up doing exactly what he said, bouncing along like a rag doll until she could pick up the horse's gait. This was new territory to her but she loved it. She loved spending time with Aiden, something that hadn't really happened outside the guild since their first mission together. When she actually managed to catch up to him (though their pace was pretty slow still), Nova took the opportunity to just enjoy this together.
The two continued to trot along the grassy enclosure for quite a while until they were both sore. Aiden helped Nova off of Greystone and they walked out together. They roamed around the "zoo", seeing many different types of animals and interacting with them all until sunset, and then exited. Aiden brought Nova around to where he parked Fidelma. He grabbed a basket off of her and then continued to walk out to the open grassland with Nova's hand in his. Aiden picked a spot that was perfect for watching the sun fall behind the hills and painted the sky. He grabbed a plaid blanket from the basket and spread it. Aiden then set up dinner for the two with wide assortment of foods and drinks.
Nova sat down next to him, bliss still radiating off her and as she looked at Aiden, she can't help but smile. She probably looks like a dork but she doesn't care. She links her hand with his as she says,"Thank you. For all of this. I haven't gotten such a wonderful surprise like this in all my life."
Aiden looked into Nova's eyes, "Thank you for giving me a chance. I'm glad that I could make you happy." he said with a soft smile. After the sun had set, food had been eaten, and stars had been gazed at, it was about time to wrap up the date and head back to the guild. Aiden and Nova cleaned up their picnic spot and hopped back atop Fidelma who had been quietly observing throughout the night. The stars and moon were bright enough to lead the way back to the train station. Once they arrived, Aiden sent Fidelma away and they hopped aboard. After a long but great night, the two had eventually made their way back. Both stood at the entrance to their guild. Before Aiden was to head back to his place he outstretched his arms and gave Nova a warm hug. He knew that it was to soon to try anything to risky. "I discovered tonight that I really enjoy your company when we aren't fighting each other. Again, thank you for tonight. You get to plan the next date." Aiden said playfully.
The short girl wrapped her arms around her partner and grinned herself as she replied, "Hmm that means I get to surprise you and put you through the agony of waiting. I don't know how I'm going to create a more fantastic surprise, but I'll figure something out. And Aiden, I really enjoy the not fighting too." Nova drew back and gave him a light peck on the cheek before they parted. She waited until she had gone around the corner to let out a happy squeal. Being an adult didn't mean she was completely mature.