A Spot Of Happiness Part 1
IC date: Spring 5
OOC date: March 26
Location: Main Street/Beach
PCs: Blackbird, Rusty-Gears, Sadaka
NPCs: Tarnish
GM: Gamble

Springtime is such a wonderful time of year! When the world warms up, weather goes from cold and icky to wet and windy, with a healthy bit of sun here and there. Great weather for doing just about anything one couldn't exactly do while cooped up inside during the colder months! Like run a fruit stand. Or any number of the outdoorsey-type booths that typically line Main Street. So much shopping available for the happy(?) residents of the Harbor to enjoy this lovely spring day.

And what better way to enjoy the day than… whatever it is Blackbird has planned? The poor guy's been down lately, but in a fit of inspiration and drive, he's dragged Rusty and Sadaka out into the market for shopping. Shopping of a mysterious nature, in fact! He hasn't been forthright about his plans; only that he /has/ some. And they don't know what they are yet.

"Okay… we should pick up some… /stuff/." This is his codeword. It has been his codeword for /everything/ stuffed into his saddlebags right now. He looks pretty pleased though, as he approaches a vegetable stand, looking comically furtive.

Said fruit vendor looks especially chipper today. A silvery coated pony wearing a fiddler's cap and a long, blonde handlebar moustache! Selling melons of various types and sizes. Melons are awesome. They don't blow away in the random winds.

"Hi! What can I do ya for? Got lots of good melons today! How 'bout a watermelon?" the salespony gruffs to the approaching family, holding up a watermelon the size of a small foal.

Rusty-Gears chuckls faintly, trotting along after him. She has no clue what's going on! But at least Blackbird seems to be in a good mood. Enjoy it while you can! "More stuff, huh? How much 'stuff' are we going for, here? I shoulda brought a bigger bag."

Sadaka trails along after them, looking curious herself. She's been a bit down recently, herself. Or, at least, reclusive. Well, rather, she's been hanging out with ghosts a lot. That can't be proper. "What /are/ we getting, Papa?" she finally asks, tilting her head. And then blinks up at the watermelon. That is a /lot/ of watermelon. That is, in fact, a Sadaka-sized watermelon! Wow. Who could eat all of that?

Fruit! That's totally what he's going for. All the fruit. "Not much more, I promise," Blackbird says to Rusty with a slight smile. As he approaches the stand, he eyes that watermelon up and down. "Wow, that /is/ a lot of melon there. Think we could get … half of that maybe?" he hazards.

"Half?" the fruitkeeper says, his voice carrying incredulous tones. "/Half/? Of this big, beautiful melon? Of this juicy…" the watermelon is set down, rolled from one end of the stand 's counter to the other. Which admittedly doesn't even take one full rotation. "…scrumptuous…" The melon is plucked up and balanced upon one hoof! That's one strong shopkeeper. "…absolutely divine melon!?" Oh look, it's ended up perched on the shopkeeper's head. Poor hat. "This melon would make angels weep in longing for the smallest nibble! How could I dare to cut it in half and keep you from enjoying the whole thing! No, no, no."

The melon is lifted off the shopkeep's head, and placed upon the counter. "I won't cut the melon in half. I will, however, give it to you for half price. That's essentially the same thing, no?"

Belatedly, Blackbird also lifts Sadaka up and drops her on his back, giving her an affectionate nuzzle. "Food, pumpkin!" he grins.

Sadaka blinks, tilting her head and settling back on her haunches - after returning the nuzzle, of course. "…I don't think that's how numbers work," she whispers to Blackbird. But then again, math is not her best subject! So maybe she's just missing something.

Rusty blinks. "…Well, it certainly… does look like a nice melon," she agrees. Maybe not /that/ nice, but hey. She looks over at Blackbird. "I dunno, you're the one who knows what we're doing with the 'stuff'!" They'd need to throw a party to get enough ponies to eat all that melon, though. Or just have melon salads for a week straight!

Blackbird snickers at Sadaka's comment and gives her a little nuzzle again. "You might be right," he whispers back. He then regards the seller, rubbing his chin. "While I do easily agree with you that this melon is /truly/ a sight to behold, what a shame it would be to waste it on so small a family!" he comments. "After all, that's the kind of melon that should feed a feast, not a picn…" Er. "Pic…turesque … No, I've got nothing." Derp.

The fumbling of a line makes the shopkeeper grin. "Fine, fine! A quarter of the price, and no lower! Besides, you never know. Company has a way of finding those with food to feed it." The melon is rolled to the edge of the countertop, the shopkeep's eyes practically twinkling.

Rusty-Gears blinks and perks her ears, casting Blackbird a sideways glance and grinning. Ah-ha! Well that makes sense. She doesn't comment, but looks a mix of amused and pleased at this revelation. Yay! Picnic~ That's a nice fun family activity, to be certain.

Sadaka, however, seems to miss the slip. She's watching the watermelon! That's an energetic melon. It moves around a lot. She stretches her clockwork wings, giving one a little flutter. It's kind of hard /not/ to imagine rolling that watermelon down a hill. Something that big is sure to roll /really well/. But then you can't eat it, so that would be kind of tragic.

"Tempting, tempting," muses Blackbird, biting his lip. "What do you think, Rusty? Maybe we can just… invite the whole square or something. I mean, it /is/ a very nice melon." He scoops his green mane away from his face, looking quite thoughtful. "You want some watermelon, Stripey Butt?" he asks of Sadaka.

The suspense! The tension! The shopkeeper watches the nice family discuss the prospect of what to do with a WonderMelon of this size. One ear begins to twitch. "…What if I throw in a cantalope?" he offers.

Rusty shrugs slightly. "That could work I suppose. We could find /something/ to do with leftovers." She rubs her chin with one hoof. He /really/ wants to sell them this melon. Wow.

Sadaka blinks, snapping herself out of thoughts of watermelon-racing and back into thoughts of watermelon-/eating/, which is surely a much tastier use for watermelon, if less amusingly smashy. "Okay!" she agrees cheerily, "Melon's good. An' there hasn't been any all winter."

Blackbird squints at the shopkeep. "Your solution to 'that's too much melon' is 'here, have more melon'?" he comments in vague amusement. "That's a strange outlook, my friend. But you're lucky my darling daughter wants some! Because now…" He fishes his nose into the pouch slung around his neck, coming out with some bits. "…we'll be taking the melon! Just the big melon, though; I don't think we need a canteloupe."

"As you wish!" the excited shopkeep says, professionally making the offered bits disappear, and the melon appear inside a neat cloth carrying bag. What else would you transport melon of this magnitude with? The counter is now cleared, and the shopkeep waves a hoof amiably. "Please enjoy your melon! If you do, tell others where you got it!" Grin. "Come again soon!"

Rusty-Gears moves to heft the bag, nodding a bit in thanks. This had better be a very good melon, because they have lots of it! It looks good, though. So there's that! "Well that's got us covered on the melon department for a while, I'd say!"

Blackbird opens his mouth to say something, glances back at Sadaka, and closes it. Nevermind. AHEM. "Indeed!" he says instead, as they depart the stall. Calling back over his shoulder, he says to the keep, "We'll be sure to spread the word!"

Of course, now there's the matter of picking a spot for the picnic! Hmm… "So, what would you two lovely ladies say to setting up near the beach?" he inquires.

"Good with me," Rusty states with a nod, glancing sideways to Sadaka. "The usual spot, of course." Nowhere too near the water~ Sadaka nods to this. Water's fine! As long as it stays over there. WAAAAAY over there.

"Alright." Pressing a little kiss to Rusty's cheek, Blackbird trots toward the beach, though he pauses to give her a fretful look. "Want me to take the watermelon?" he asks, and he's been kinda like this for a while now: trying to be the good guy, trying to help a little overly much. It's a little smothering. He even very nearly did one of Sadaka's homework projects all on his own in the spirit of helping. Nerp.

Rusty-Gears blinks and chuckles faintly, rolling her eyes. "I've got it. It's fine. You're already carrying everything else," she points out, trotting along after him. "I can handle a little melon. …Or a not so little one," she amends after a beat. For this is truly a sizeable watermelon.

Along the boardwalk, towards the beach, sits another stand. A silvery-coated pony with a shawl and a big pair of sunglasses sits nestled behind it, a great array of blankets, hats, shade items, and other such picnic-ish objects on display. How convenient!

"Oh hello there!" the shopmare calls out to the trotting family. "You bunch look like you're going somewhere nice! Maybe you could use a blanket to keep the sand out of your hooves? Or some sunglasses? Perhaps a few bowls for that lovely looking watermelon you've got there?"

"Are you sure?" Blackbird trots after her. "Okay, if you're sure… But if you need help! I can help." He smiles hopefully, and starts toward the boardwalk— only to be stopped again. He blinks in confusion, clearly brought briefly out of his element, and then approaches. "Uh— oh, that might be good. We didn't bring bowls." He manages to look somewhat abashed, but he glances back at his girls. "You guys want anything besides bowls?"

"They're very fine bowls, I assures you." the salesmare notes, fishing a stack out from behind the counter. "Come with lids and everything! For storage purposes, you know. Spill-resistant lids, too." All grins, the salesmare is, propping her head up with a hoof. "Oh you folks look like such a /nice/ family…"

Rusty-Gears blinks and glances over at the shopkeep, tilting her head. Was this stand always here? It's… awfully convenient. "Oh, er… hm. Well… bowls are useful. Maybe a blanket, if we don't have one… did we bring one?"

Sadaka peers at the silvery pony, laying one ear back. …Huh. …Is she the same color… nope, thought gone. The little zebra sprawls out on Blackbird's back, beaming at the idea that they're a nice family, because yes, her Papa is the nicest Papa, indeed!

"Well thank you, miss," Blackbird replies with a little smile. He also is sort of squinting at the shopkeep, a small bemused smile on his face. "Er…A blanket and three bowls then, please. Rusty, you don't happen to have a knife or a sawblade or something on you, do you? To cut it?"

"Well isn't she the most /darling/ little girl!" the shopkeep states, offering Sadaka a wave, as though it were totally matter-of-fact. It very well might be! "I must say I've never seen a flying zebra before. Let alone one with such interesting /wings/. You must be one proud papa."

More items appear on the countertop as they're named, up to and including a basket to carry them in and a knife fit for watermelon cutting! "We're even having a picnic special. All this, for the price of the basket! We call it our 'Brown Basket Special'. Not very creative, I know, but it's accurate!"

Rusty-Gears grins, albeit a bit sheepishly. "Oh, I'm sure I've got something that'll do the trick. But, uh, the knife /might/ be a bit… neater." You ever tried to cut a watermelon with a circle sawblade? Aside from the risk of, y'know, chopping off a hoof, it's not exactly the cleanest method!

Sadaka blinks and glances up between Blackbird's ears. "Picnic special? Is it picnic season or something?" Do picnics /have/ a season? That seems an oddly convenient special!

Blackbird is just getting more and more proud by the second. Pride in himself? Nah. But he has /oodles/ of pride for his little girl. "Yeah, she's the gem of my eye," he confesses with a happy smile. "And crackerjack at flying, too. It's even her talent!" Proud parent, yep. He beams at Rusty, apparently oblivious to all the things piling up on the counter.

"That's so sweet…" the shopmare notes with her most professional grin. "Well here you go, sugar, and do take good care of them. A good family is hard to come by these days." The items are heaped into the basket, which is placed on Blackbird's back while he's not paying much attention! "Off you go! Enjoy your time on the beach, dearies!"

The little zebra is pretty quickly distracted from her question as she is praised, puffing up a bit herself and giving her wings a little flutter. She has a /talent/. And a cutie mark to prove it! That is still novel and exciting. Whee~

Rusty blinks and nods to the shopmare. "Well, thank you. Er, you have a good day!" …Did they say they were going to the beach? Hm. Well, she supposes, it must be obvious from the direction they're going. Sure. That will work.

Oof! Blackbird blinks as he's suddenly burdened with Stuff! "Hold up— how much for this all?" he asks, at least not so forgetful as to forego that. Blink blink blink.

But there is no longer a shopkeep to ask this question to. There is, instead, a sign that says 'out to lunch'.

Blink blink blink. "…I… Should I leave this here?" he asks Rusty weakly, staring at the basket.

Rusty-Gears rubs the back of her head. "Uh… huh. No, I… I guess we can take it. She set it all up for us. …We'll come by when we're done and see what we owe her, I guess?" she suggests with a shrug.

"Okay…" Blackbird blinks one last time and starts to turn, heading for the beach instead. "…Is it just me, or was there something weird about that keep?"

Rusty-Gears nods slowly. "I was kind of thinking that, too. Kinda… conveniently there? Plus, I mean, who runs off right after making a sale? That was a pretty sudden lunch break." She gives a small chuckle. "I guess we just get some… eccentric ponies around here."

Within a half an hour, there's a blanket laid out, a watermelon set in the center, and various other foodstuffs arranged around it. (Like cake! YUM.) And one very pensive stallion, who at present, has sort of zoned out, knife in his mouth, as he stares at the watermelon under his hooves. That's not creepy at all, Blackbird.

Rusty-Gears glances up from straightening the blanket, grinning faintly over at him. "I know it's a bit of an imposing watermelon, Blackbird, but I'm pretty sure if you just, y'know, stab it, the rest'll be pretty simple," she states teasingly. Because not much is creepy to a girl who finds a sawblade and a stick of dynamite to be good things to keep in her purse.

Blackbird doesn't respond at first, but after a moment he blinks. "Huh?" he asks around the knife. "What? No! I won't— oh. The melon. Right! Yeah." He shakes his head a little and braces his hooves, ready to jam the blade down into the fruit. RAAAAHHHHH >pthut<. The knife only goes a little way in. Melon rinds are tough!

Rusty-Gears gives an amused giggle. "Okay, maybe not." She moves to stand beside him and join in the watermelon contemplating. Maybe the sawblade /is/ the way to go.

Sadaka, meanwhile, doesn't seem too concerned by how they're going to get into the watermelon - though she /did/ spend a few minutes eyeing that cake. YUM indeed! No, she's more concerned with how to get a sandcastle to actually, you know… stay together, without having to go fetch a bucket of water to force it to comply. It's… not working too well. She's kinda just got a little pile of dry sand so far. But not for lack of effort!

"Rrr…" Blackbird works the knife back and forth a bit, trying a bit harder. "…Why wavn't I born a unehcrn," he mutters around the handle. But after a bit, he slows down, fur prickling on the back of his neck, and eyes sliding to one side. He doesn't say anything though — surely it's just paranoia. Surely it's nothing. Nope, everything is fine.

There aren't a whole lot of other ponies around this particular picnic spot. What could possibly be sparking paranoia?

Maybe it's a familiar whistle in the air. The whistle of a flying object.

A potentially dangerous flying object. Sharp enough to cut the air!

Whatever the sound is, Rusty seems to catch it after a moment, one ear twitching as she snaps her head up to look around alertly.

Blackbird too jerks his head up, ears twitching. And in an instant he wheels about and rears, flinging a forehoof and knocking the object out of the air. It twirls away, thudding into Sadaka's sand 'castle' — it happens to be a throwing knife.

Now Blackbird is tense, as he glares around, heart thudding as he tries to identify the source. "Show yourself," he snaps.

Sadaka squeaks and jumps back from the now-impaled 'castle', wings flared. /That's/ not gonna make it stick together any better! She blinks and looks around, ears flattening.

Rusty, too, has taken on a rather tense posture, ears back and hooves apart, looking ready to dart any which way in an instant. Where did that come from? She peers about, eyes narrowed, looking for anypony suspicious.

The owner of the throwing knife does indeed show themselves when bidden by the tense stallion. From behind a nearby tree, no less! A silver-coated pony with a few mottled spots of grey here and there, leaning on the feminine side, canters out towards the family trio. She wears a bandana of green, and probably looks all sorts of familiar to the family stallion.

"Nice to see being a dad hasn't dulled your reflexes any." the pony states when she's within nominal talking distance.

Blackbird's glance flicks to the mare, and then… The world sort of spins, as his stomach drops out and his head sort of reels. Outwardly, he just stares, however, his hooves steady. Locked, even. He swallows, opens his mouth…fails to make a sound. And finally, "Tarnish." Conflicted? Very. His expression seems to be caught between horror, panic, and joy.

Rusty-Gears frowns, whipping her head around to stare at the approaching pony and still looking ready to pounce. Until she speaks. She frowns deeper and tilts an ear, looking back and forth between the stranger and Blackbird. "Who are you? What do you want? …You know her?" she asides to Blackbird, eyebrow raised, as her mind catches up with that apparent point.

"Hasn't killed your memory yet either. That's good!" the pony identified as Tarnish follows up with, amiably trotting up to the edge of the blanket and setting her flank down. "Oh he knows me." Tarnish states, casting Rusty an appraising look. "I might even go as far as to say he's been expecting me." Her head turns towards Blackbird's stunned expression. "So you gonna introduce us or what?"

Blackbird is still frozen, watching her just waltz up and sit. His mouth twitches. His muzzle wrinkles. And finally, stiffly, he turns and sits down. "I had a feeling it might've been you," he mutters. "Rusty, this is…Tarnish, my…business partner from… way back when." He glances into her face, trying his darnedest to give her a Significant Look. And then a glance at Sadaka. She's okay, right?

Sadaka is indeed okay, if confused. She's sniffed at the knife, trying to figure out how to remove it from her sandpile without touching it, because she's not supposed to touch sharp things like that without a grown-up. This conundrum proves a bit too puzzling, and she abandons the pile to trot over towards the blanket and blink over at the new pony. "…Hey, you're the lady who sold us the bowls!" she exclaims after a moment's appraisal. "You forgot your bits."

Rusty blinks and nods slowly, a look of understanding crossing her features. She doesn't look… /entirely/ pleased with this idea, but keeps quiet for now, though she does take a small side-step closer to the zebra filly. While nodding to Tarnish, because manners. Sort of. "Hello."

"I sure am!" Tarnish says, favoring Sadaka with a grin. "I'm also the stallion that sold you that melon." she(he?) states after, gesturing to the half-cut beast. Then up at Blackbird! "I've been watching you all day, being all adorably domestic." A hoof paws gently at the sand. "Speaking of the melon… Mind cutting us up a bit? I hate talking on an empty stomach."

Wordlessly, Blackbird picks up the knife again, going back to sawing at it. Man, the mood at this picnic just took a nosedive. It takes a good minute or so but the melon is finally cut into somewhat equal pieces, one doled out to each pony. Of course, Blackbird's not really eating, so much as holding. "So. What brings you here to the Harbor? Turning over a new leaf?" He's cautious here, but there's a small note of hope.

Rusty-Gears takes her slice wordlessly, still eyeing Tarnish uncertainly. Call her crazy, but she finds it difficult to relax around a pony whose idea of a friendly hello is a flung knife! Sadaka seems somewhat oblivious to the tension, though, snagging her slice and munching on it happily. Omnomnom melon yay.

Tarnish happily accepts her slice of melon, scootching so she can sit on the blanket proper. Never pleasant to comb sand all out of your tail, don't you know. She then favors Blackbird with a sweet smile, "I suppose you could say that." she says, taking a few bites. "I got out of the old company. Didn't have much of a choice after what you did." She doesn't have a single note of remorse about saying so. "Sorta took a nice long vacation after that. Some time to think, and figure things out. Kinda like what you did here, right?" She leans to grin at Rusty. "Only without the family-building."

That at least seems to put Blackbird a little more at ease. "Yeah?" he asks. "Good. For a few moments I thought you were here to drag me back, hah hah hah." He laughs uncertainly and looks down into his slice of melon. "How's life on the other side been treating you?"
Rusty-Gears blinks and raises an eyebrow over at Tarnish, but holds her ground, clearing her throat a bit. Yes. Family-building. Who invited you?

Naturally Tarnish joins in the laugh, hers much more genuine. "Oh no no no! I'd never drag you back to /them/. All the dirty secrets that came out after your departure caused quite a mess." Her eyes twinkle, if briefly, "It was fun~ But when it was all over, I had nothing to do." She makes a face, "I've come to the conclusion that normal life is bo-ring."

"Well, good. They…deserved a mess." Blackbird swallows and glances toward Sadaka and Rusty, before looking at Tarnish more fully. "I think you'd find that life in the harbor is hardly boring," he comments. "There's a natural disaster every other week."

"Or a fire," Rusty puts in, prompting Sadaka to add rather sadly, "The schoolhouse burned down." Now she has one less place to read at, and that is /tragic/.

Tarnish happily noms upon a piece of fruit, 'mmm-mmm!', and gulps before glancing between Blackbird, Sadka, and Rusty again. "Hmm. That /does/ sound exciting, but I really just don't think I'm the type to settle down. I have a new plan! Gonna start up my /own/ company! One that only takes jobs worth taking on! Fight the good fight that nobody else will for the good of all ponykind!" Her eyes are twinkling again. "Kill all the bad guys! Doesn't that sound fun?" Another big smile. "Of course when I came up with this plan, I thought of /you/ right away. I mean you've already dispatched one of the biggest bads I knew! Not to mention /years/ of history together…"

Blackbird blinks, opening his mouth a little to respond but finding nothing coming out. "…I'm not so sure about the… killing part," he says uncertainly, trying not to glance at his little girl present. "Maybe talking things out would be a better option. Or dealing with the police. Needless violence is just…" … exactly what he resorted to with Mad-Mare? Shhhh. He trails off and looks down, mouth tightening a little. "I'm gonna have to pass."

Tarnish doesn't even lose her smile. "Since when are you afraid of a little strong language?" She sits up, "I meant what I said. There are entities out there that need to be more than 'taken out'. Or else they come back like some awful cancer again, and again, and again." She studies her plate of melon. "…Which admittedly isn't that bad for business, but the point is to actually make a /difference/, not money!" She lifts her head, smile and all, "Surely now that you have things you want to protect, you can see value in those of us willing to go the extra mile to make sure they /stay/ protected?"

Rusty-Gears blinks and freezes, glaring over at Tarnish. She looks about ready to retort, but Blackbird beats her to it, which is probably a good thing all-told. She looks a bit proud of him, though, as he turns the offer down. See? He's got some sense in his head.

Sadaka blinks, looking between Tarnish and Blackbird. She looks a bit confused. A lot of this talk goes right over her head! Though it reminds her, unpleasantly, of the sort of things her Mama and Daddy talked about when they thought she was sleeping. "…Papa Blackbird's already /got/ a job," she speaks up in a quiet moment. "He's our teacher at school."

Things that need protecting? Blackbird visibly winces, and looks down. Since when has he managed to protect anything anyways? Things keep /happening/. He tries, and he tries, and he fails every time. Sadaka gets hurt, Rusty gets neglected. His students are better off without him. Maybe it IS time for more drastic measures. But — no. He left that life. He left it on purpose. Right?

When Sadaka speaks, he grimaces. The school that burnt down. When he forced a firepony to save his life, because he was an idiot.

An idiot who couldn't save anyone. Maybe… maybe it's time to act. Instead of /re/act.

Almost too quietly to hear, he murmurs, "I'll…think about it."

"Oh sweetie." Tarnish says when Sadaka speaks up, "I'm not taking him away or anything! He can still do his job here. I'd just…borrow him from time to time when someone really /really/ bad needs taught a harsh lesson." The twinkle in her eyes only seems to get bigger when Blackbird gives his almost-silent reply. "That's all I ask. Think about it. You know just as well as I do what ponies in our position are capable of /stopping/. We have the skills to do what others…" and her gaze shifts towards Rusty. "…can't."

Oh look, her melon's gone! Tarnish puts her bowl down and gets up from the blanket, offering a smile and bow to the very confused family. "I'll check back in a couple days. I know it's a big thing to think about, what with having escaped it to play daddy and all that, but I'm sure you'll come to the right choice." She turns to walk away, pausing to turn her head, "Y'know, for all the other 'daddies' out there. Seeya Birdie!"

With that, she trots off, right on down the boardwalk!

Rusty-Gears blinks and lays her ears back, frowning faintly at the implication. She didn't miss that! Not at all. But she holds her tongue, and just glares, and then totally maturely makes a face at the retreating pony's back, because nya. Then she glances over to Blackbird. "Well, that got rid of her. Geez, some ponies. I guess we'll want to keep an eye out for a while, huh? …You okay?"

Blackbird stays tight-lipped as she goes, not really offering a farewell or anything. Instead, he just stares hard at the sand. He could make a difference. A real difference. He could.

After all, nopony can /really/ change. He can't outrun his past forever, and who he is… Well. Apparently, it's not a mild, bumbly school teacher. Not if he's seriously considering this.

"…Huh? Oh. Yeah. I'm fine," he says, distracted. "I need— I need to go take a walk. I'm sorry, Rust." And just like that, he stands, walking away. At least it's not in the direction Tarnish went!

Rusty-Gears blinks and looks after him, frowning faintly and glancing down. Well… that could've gone better. Could've gone /worse/, but… she sighs, plunking her rump down next to the very confused zebra filly and moving to cut another slice of watermelon. "Don't worry, kiddo. He'll be back soon."