St. Emilia's Orphanage

It was a slightly chill day that saw Griffin's motorbike pulling into the orphanage parking lot, wind rustling the trees in a deciduous symphony. Immediately establishing his character, rather than shiver or rub his arms, the big fellow raised his head to the sky, took a deep breath of clean, crisp air, and sighed with the bone-deep satisfaction of a man happy with his lot in life. "Scorch, I ever tell you how much I love my life?" he asked rhetorically, watching the clouds drift lazily by.

"Not since last Friday, no," came the sardonic reply from the PET on the man's belt; ScorchMan was well-used to his Operator's moods on Saturdays. If he was being honest with himself, he probably enjoyed this part of their weekly schedule just as much as his Operator; he could think of far worse things to do on a day off than spend time brightening up some kids' days...especially the residents of this modest orphanage. Relatively well-provided for or not, healthy or not, there was little happiness to be found in a house for parent-less children. He silently thanked his luck for his goof of an Operator, and then piped in, "Will you just be standing outside for the rest of the day, or are you waiting for something?"

Taking the drollness in stride, Griffin dismounted his bike and strolled up the front steps. Pushing the door open, he was greeted by two children playing in the entrance hall, doing their best to look happy. The feeling turned genuine when the kids spotted him; like an alarm, one of them cried out, "Mister Griffin!" and suddenly he was swimming in joyful children, every one of them jockeying for attention, for their favourite playmate. ScorchMan observed it all from his PET, unable to 'see' much more than a massed collection of knee-to-waist-high heat sources, but he heard the excitement Griffin unconsciously leaked into his audience easily enough. And when one little voice asked, "Where's ScorchMan, where's ScorchMan?" he was ready to pop up on-cue, appearing in hologram-form on Griffin's shoulder.

Eventually, the welcoming proceeded into Griffin getting pulled by his belt loops and shirt hem ("Alas!" he gasps, bugging his eyes out in affected shock, "I have been taken prisoner!") into the main common room. , the kind old lady that ran the orphanage, sat in a rocking chair with all the dignity and demeanor of a beloved queen, the children around her reading or colouring her loyal subjects. Upon noticing the arrival, the quieter children all got up to greet Griffin.

All except one, that is. A single young girl of perhaps seven or eight, sitting in a corner away from the other children, doing her best to hide her face with her novel. And yet, it was her that Griffin walked towards, kneeling down and ruffling her short hair. A toy-like squeak escaped the girl as she flinched under the paw-like hand, burn-scarred eyes meeting warm chocolate-brown ones. "Hey there, kiddo." There were many children living in the orphanage, but only the quiet little girl named Saki got called 'kiddo' by Griffin.

Her face finally bloomed into a smile as she replied, "G-good afternoon, Mister Griffin." The man grinned in response and ruffled her hair again, making her scrunch her nose as she tried to stifle a giggle. Eventually, the crowd of kids reeled him back in again, and he retreated back with an apologetic wave, but from the point she picked her book back up on, her eyes kept flitting back over to the crowd as though wanting to join in.

Meanwhile, Griffin let himself be seated down on the Big Chair, assuming his throne of honour as he was crowded similar to Arisu beside him. Clapping his hands together, he drummed up his audience. "So, what shall we do today?" he asked at-large.

There was an outpouring of suggestions ("Hide-and-seek!" "Tag!" "Tell us a story about fire-fighting!") before one anonymous voice finally called out, "Virus-busting!" That silenced the crowd for a brief moment, until everyone started clamouring for the very same. ScorchMan shrugged idly from his vantage point on Griffin's shoulder as he felt his Operator turn to face him.

"The majority does rule; where are we going today?" he asked, chest-ports venting a small tuft of flame.

Griffin pondered for a moment, before deciding, "We're setting you up in ACDC Net; best to just start things off slow. That good with you?" At ScorchMan's nod, he had a child switch on the boxy old TV sitting before them. "Alright, here we go! Jack-in, ScorchMan; execute!" he recited to great fanfare, and beamed his Navi into the Net.
"Sorry, everyone, but duty calls! We've gotta go bust some fires in the real world now!" Griffin explained to the orphans, who all looked exceptionally distraught at losing their favourite playmate. "We'll be back soon, and ScorchMan will be even stronger next time you see him! Sound good?" He got more than a few sets of puppy-dog eyes, but forced himself to persevere through, and get up off the (really quite comfortable) armchair.

"We'll be back soon, everyone. Arisu, kids, take care 'til then," ScorchMan chimed in, appearing in holographic form on Griffin's shoulder. Goodbyes made by and large, the man strode out of the room to an outpouring of 'Good luck!'s and 'Tell us more stories next time!'s.

A large pair of eyes, marred with burn scars but nonetheless quite pretty, stared at Griffin's back as he left, but their owner did not say a word. Yet Saki still shuffled over to the window to watch Griffin mount his motorcycle, kicking the engine to life with a brassy roar, and blasting out of the parking lot. She stayed watching that window until he turned a corner and vanished from view...and there she sat, just watching and waiting.