Beowulf looked down, adjusting his clothing. He had always felt horribly uncomfortable in the damn things and today was no different. Well, it was a little different. He was wearing a full suit today, more than even his father usually wore. Even at 16, the suit was perfectly tailored and not a piece of it was missing. He was even wearing shoes! Shoes!! He tugged at his tie and sighed, looking over at the young woman who was walking beside him. He dropped his hand from the silk noose around his neck, reaching out to take her hand instead. He gave it a squeeze and smiled at her. She had been by his side for the past ten years. She was a part of his life. No, she was his life. Just as his father taught and protected him, he taught and protected Manya. Because of his parents, and because of his tutor, he could read. He could kind of write. And so could she. At least enough to get by, and that was all they needed. The Depression hadn't bothered them much. It did mean the candy store wasn't doing as much business, but it wasn't the way his parents made the most of their money anyway. Most of the money came from his father's employer, and the business his father did at night. His father lived a double life. On one hand he worked for Aurora Tarquinius. On the other hand, he worked for her husband, Anthony. On both hands, he killed people for a living. On both hands, he killed criminals for a living. It didn't matter to Beowulf, or to his mother. Or to Manya, as far as Beowulf knew. He reached up to adjust his hat, then reached over to playfully tap Manya's hat, pushing it down over her eyes. "Nervous, Manya?" he asked. His sentences were still typically short, but he could speak in full sentences now. They may not be the most intellectual conversations, but he could hold his own out in the world. He and his father (who's speech had also gotten better, it was his throat that was the problem) were very proud of him. Ahead of them was L'Alba Rossa, hidden beneath the bar the organization owned and ran. Aurora was sitting at her desk with a cigarette, leaning back in her chair, watching the door. She sighed. "What do you think about this, Cesare?" she asked almost lazily, turning her eyes towards her cousin. They were waiting for the two youngsters who came highly recommended by Grendel himself. But they were so young...not that she really cared about their well-being, more their effectiveness in their jobs.