It was almost too easy of a target. He was an older man, maybe mid-forties and with the hot summer sun beating everyone down he seemed slower than usual. A jolly old man he was, laughing and making conversation with customers across his stand, which radiated the smell of freshly baked goods and pastries. He'd send families off with a loaf of bread and a light-hearted, "Good morrow!" in exchange for a penny, nothing less nothing more.
"Definitely too easy." A young peasant boy with warm brown clothing muttered grumpily under his breath. He had messy dark brown hair, which matched his richly colored eye. His other eye being bandaged up. He decided the lack of excitement was a small price to pay for a meal when you had not a penny in your pocket to speak of.
Thievery is an art. Finesse and passion lay beneath every movement, every footstep or breath one takes. There is an opportune moment in every scenario, much like an animal on the prowl. One must be alert and composed at all times, for when a wolf misses that tiny moment in time; he goes hungry at the end of the day. The thrill of snatching that moment up in your talons is more rewarding than the prize itself.
Collecting his payment in his hands happily, the baker turns his back to the stand to pile it on the rest of his earnings, which rest in a small wooden box. This is it, his great, gaping window of opportunity. So glaring, a child could notice it. Recognising such a moment is not always as easy however, people don't seem to realise the amount of thought and effort that goes into such a delicate art.
Within seconds the boy strikes, and like a bird of prey, he is gone as quickly as he came with his reward in a tight grasp. Or so he thought anyway.
"Hey!" the baker called reaching out and latching onto the boys thick collar. "And where do you think you're going now, boy?" His arms weren't as stubby and weak as they looked that's for sure. He hoisted the young man up and sat him down behind his stand. Wiping the sweat off his forehead, he turned the boy to face him, who seemed more intent on keeping his gaze on the ground.
"You've got to be kidding me." He surrendered the bread, dropping it back down on the table in defeat.
"No, sir" Said the baker, rather disappointed. "You're staying right here until I decide what to do with you." Figuring not much good would come of running now, he stayed.
The rest of the day was uneventful, several hours passed and he wondered if the elder man even remembered he was sitting there. Even he couldn't remember why he was sitting here, the day was long and hot and he definitely did not want to spend it in the musty shade of the man's stall with the intoxicating smell of dough and sugar. Yet he remained compliant, which in hindsight did him no favors. He knew at about five o' clock his older brother would stop by the stand to buy a loaf of bread for tonight's dinner and he'd get a good talking to then. However he supposed another scolding was a lot better than the alternative of being punished by the city guards.
"Sit up, boy" The man chuckled patting the boy's back, " Your grouchy face is scaring my customers away!"
He did as he was told but the sneer on his face remained, if not intensified.
"Oh, don't be like that, son" He rubbed his forehead awhile before adding, "Why don't you help me sell the rest of these loaves? If you do I'll reward you!" His voice was rather sing-song considering he was talking to the boy who tried to steal from him just a few hours ago. It was hard to refuse such an offer from the cheery man; something about him just seemed so genuine and kind. So the boy agreed to help him with maintenance around the stand, why he agreed was beyond him honestly, but he was not his usual self today.
The sun inevitably began to pool into the horizon, showering the sky in rich reds and purples. His brother would be here any moment as the clock struck closer and closer to five. The boy figured his brother would never believe him if he said he had offered to help the baker of his own free will, even if the elder vouched for him. So he simply accepted his unfortunate fate as he saw his sibling approaching the stand from the busy street.
"Daimon?" The tanned man inquired. He was dressed in a vibrant white hooded cape with red stitching, which Daimon recalled being quite expensive. The man had messy dreads falling out of his hood and shrouding his face. "… Daimon, what on God's earth are you doing here?"
The boy hung his head in defeat, "I got caught." he murmured.
"You're joking!" His sibling exclaimed, "You told me you'd stop this nonsense." He growled under his breath, beckoning for Daimon to come to his side. He began to pull his wallet out, but the baker held out a loaf of bread and a small leather bag full of pocket change.
"Take it, sir," The baker explained, "You're friend here was very helpful to me today, it's on the house." Dumbstruck at first the hooded man just stood there, but eventually he awkwardly accepted, taking the baker's gift and handing the leather bag to his brother.
"Thank you" he said, "You're too kind, honestly." With that he rested his hand on the back of his younger brother's neck firmly and began walking back to their home. He had disappointment written all over his face, his brow furrowed and lips curved downward into a sneer. They walked in a tense silence; everyone else just seemed to be a blur, like it was just the two of them on an empty road.
"You told me you'd stop, Daimon." Daimon looked up to meet the man's eyes but his brother's steel eyes were set on the rue in front of them, his grasp just as firm as before.
"Bad habit," He spat, returning his gaze to the ground. "I don't see the big deal, Adrian." He added, " We used to do it all the damn time."
This earned his brother's attention, "Don't pull that shit with me, Daimon." His eyes pierced into his sibling's skull, "You and I both know that is absolutely no reason to continue stealing. For Christ's sake, we have money now! We don't have to act like bloody scavengers anymore." He paused for a moment, "That baker is a nice man, you're damn lucky he hasn't reported you yet."
The silence returned after the sudden outburst, and remained until they arrived at their home. Above the door apothecary was painted in large, capital letters. Inside the small building there were shelves stuffed with a variety of herbs and spices all stored in tall jars. A desk sat towards the back where the goods were traded. Most of the building smelled of musty lavender from the incense on the corner of the desk. Behind the desk a curtain hung above a doorway leading to their actual living quarters.
The two entered in an awkward silence, Daimon following gently in his brother's shadow. As they passed through the curtain, Adrian pulled down his hood feeling the cool air on his head. After tidying up the room a little and emptying his bag on the table, he made his way to his long awaited bed. The medicine man patted the spot beside him. Daimon took the hint and sat, instantly being pulled into a bear hug.
"Oh, baby brother, what am I going to do with you."