“You’re welcome,” Victor says, patting her on the back. “I love you too, little sister.”
He couldn’t let her do that alone. He hates the idea of a child being abandoned, suffering alone (especially after the situation at Houndsditch). And she reminds him both of Alice (what with her parents dying in a fire, and her falling into the hands of a complete monster), and of himself a bit (the shyness, the stuttering). He wants to make life better for her in some small way. To bring a light into her life. To give her a friend that isn’t four-footed and furry. That’s the sort of person he is.
He pulls out his handkerchief and starts wiping away her tears. “It’ll be all right,” he assures her. He’ll be right by your side through it all.
Alia managed another smile, letting him do as he liked. She reached over and grabbed Jaguar again, holding him close. She stood after a moment, hesitating.
"L-let’s go, o-okay..?"
She wanted to get this done as soon as possible. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see them, it’s just that she didn’t want face them. She wouldn’t want them to see her this way; Broken and crying. But, hopefully, having Victor with her would help, at least. She couldn’t do this alone, she’d tried. She couldn’t even will herself to leave her corner, let alone try and go to the cemetery. She might actually see them this year.
Victor’s jaw drops. “They — oh, Alia…” He had no idea. Her parents had died on her birthday?! How could the world be so cruel? (He asks that question a lot, he thinks. But living in the East End, being engaged to Alice, and being a ‘big brother’ to Alia seems to bring up lots of stuff that require the question to be asked.)
He pulls her into a hug as she cries. “Shhh,” he says, gently patting her hair. “It’s all right. I know it hurts.” He nods against the top of her head. “I’ll come with you. You shouldn’t have to go through that alone.”
Alia sobbed into his shoulder, holding onto him tightly. She was greatly relieved, at least, to hear he’d join her in visiting her parents. She nuzzled against him fondly, forcing a smile for him.
"Th-thank you, so-so much, Big Brother…" she whispered, kissing his cheek, hugging him again.
She didn’t know why he tried so hard to keep her safe, to keep her happy. She never would’ve thought that she could mean so much to another, or the other way around. She was happy for it, though. She liked having someone to lean on and help her when there was nowhere else to turn, help lead her out from the dark when she most needed it.
Victor starts to offer to help her with the hook, but then she gets it on her own. He smiles at her and nods. “I’m sure you will. It looks very nice on you.” He giggles as she promises to deal with the cupcakes. “Oh yes, I’m sure you’ll take good care of all cupcakes,” he jokes.
He frowns a little as she starts mentioning her parents again. He’s always wanted to know a little more about them, but he’s not the type to push. He again puts a hand on her shoulder, trying to show her it’s okay if she wants to talk about them, or not talk about them.
He frowns deeper. “Well, of course,” he says, lightly squeezing her shoulder. He’s a little worried, though — why does she suddenly look like she’s about to cry. “What is it?”
Alia put her hand on his, squeezing tightly as she tried to keep herself under control.
"M-Mommy and-and Daddy… th-they died t-tonight…" she choked out, "I— I w-want to ‘s-see’ them a-again, but…"
The tears finally spilled over, the young girl hiding herself behind her hands as she began crying again.
"I c-can’t do-do it, n-not alone, I c-can’t see th-them..! I don’t w-wanna see th-their names on-on a stone, I w-want to see them a-alive! B-but… I w-want to see th-them in any-any way I c-can, so… p-please, will y-you come with-with me, t-too see them..?"
Hey, Victor’s happy to help. He wants his friends and loved ones to be happy — and what better occasion than a birthday?
Victor laughs as she goes through her routine. “I was happy to get you one,” he tells her. Money can be tight for him at times, but he always can find a pound or two to spend on his friends. (Maybe he has a special ‘birthday fund?’)
Inside the box is a small necklace — nothing special, just a silver chain with a little heart charm. Something nice and simple. He hugs her back, quietly relieved that it’s a hit. He always tends to get a little nervous when he buys gifts. Worried people won’t like them. “You’re welcome. Happy birthday.”
Oh yes, she loves it. She let him go after a few more moments of snuggling, looking it over again, still smiling. She pushed her hair back to clip it on around her neck, struggling for a moment with the hook, but she managed. She giggled, gently touching the charm.
"I promise to take good care of it," She said, looking up again, "And… I also promise to deal with the cupcakes."
She took another, biting into it, then giggled.
"Once, me and M-Mommy…"
She stopped again, tensing. She loved the memories, and wanted to tell him of the sweet life she had while it lasted, but…
"B-Big Brother, I…" she whispered shakily, closing her eyes as she began trembling, fighting back the tears, "I… n-need to-to ask you a-a favor, p-please…"
Shigure kneeled down and kissed Alia on the forehead, jovially wishing her a happy birthday. “Happy birthday, my little sunshine! Here… I got you a present!” The dog handed over the wrapped rectangle box which contained cat toys, tools, and yarn.
Alia giggled, then blushed as he said that. She was interested in the present, but… She hugged him tightly, nuzzling against him fondly.
"Remembering was good enough," She whispered, "Thank you, Daddy. I love you…"
She let go and smiled at him brightly. She took the box now, interested about what was inside. She shook it, trying to guess what it was. Ooh, there were lots of things in this.
Shigure waited outside of Alia’s door with a box. Enclosed in the box was a bunch of Kyo’s cat toys for his daughter’s cats among other items.
Knock knock, knock knock. “Alia sweetie! Wake up!”
Alia woke to the knocking with a faint moan, rubbing the sleep from her eyes as she sat up. She was usually pretty good at getting up when told, even though she could sleep for two days solid if you let her.
"H-huh? I’m up, I-I’m up!" she yawned, walking over to the door tiredly.
She stretched for a moment, still dressed in her pajamas, but not caring for it too much. She opened the door, looking up at her father.
Victor’s smile freezes a bit as she says that and stops. Ah yes, her parents. He imagines they must be kind of a painful memory on this day. (Though he doesn’t know how much.) He reaches out and gently pats her shoulder. Just a moment of comfort before they leave that behind.
He chuckles and picks it up, presenting it to her. “Here you are.” Nope, he’s not going to tell you what’s in it — you have to open it and find out for yourself.
Alia smiled a bit at the comfort, at least. It was still hard to cope with, but he kept distracting her and making her smile and laugh, so it hurt less. It made her feel like she was having a real birthday for once.
The teen (she still couldn’t believe she was a teenager now…) eagerly took the present, looking like a child on Christmas morning. She certainly felt like it. She didn’t go clawing at it, though. She shook it for a moment, trying to guess what it was. She tore back the paper, then closed her eyes and opened it. She wanted to know so badly what it was, but she didn’t at the same time. She couldn’t help but to giggle, hiding herself behind her hands.
"It’s so weird getting a gift..!" she said, giddy.
She finally opened her eyes again, stopping for a moment. She took it out, looking it over, then looked over at him. She smiled lovingly, then hugged him tightly, resting her head on his shoulder.
Victor chuckles as he watches her “feed” Jaguar. “I used to have tea parties for my toys,” he comments, finding a comfortable place to sit. “Usually beside my old bedroom mirror. I — ah — sometimes acted as if my reflection was a living person,” he explains, fiddling with his tie. “Didn’t h-have many playmates.”
He jumps back a little as she gets him with the icing, then laughs as well. “Silly girl,” he teases, wiping it off and licking it off his fingers. Mm, that’s good.
Alia laughed a bit, though it wasn’t mocking, of course.
"I r-remember having parties with my-my p-parents…"
She stopped, then shook her head.
"N-Never mind. Thank you, Big Brother."
… Okay, childish greed took over now. She glanced over at the other present, blushing a bit. She still didn’t want to be mean and ask for it, but dang it, it was in a box and for her and she didn’t know what it was…
Victor blinks, astonished. “You’ve never had a cupcake before?” He shakes his head. Poor, deprived child! “It’s basically a smaller version of a cake — you do know what cake is, right?” He’s not sure he can explain every pastry to her. “It’s — it’s sweet. Try it.”
He grins as her face lights up. “See? I told you it was good. Chocolate and vanilla — I thought that would be a good combination.” He gently pokes Jaguar in the stomach. “Don’t forget to give him some,” he teases.
Alia giggled, lighting the icing off her lips. She laughed again, then pretended to feed her little tiger. The thought for a moment as she bit into it, then dipped her fingers in the icing. She made a motion to lick it off, then lashed out and spread it over his cheek and nose. She laughed, grinning mischievously.
Yes, him and his sweets. He’s a bit spoiled in that regard — fortunately, he also likes spoiling others.
He grins. “Well, happy birthday to him too! You’ll have to share your cupcake.” He opens the box so he can show her — it’s a chocolate cupcake, with vanilla frosting. Nice and simple.
“I love you too, little sister,” he says, patting her head. “You’re very welcome.” He couldn’t let the day pass without some sort of celebration.
Alia tilted her head slightly.
"What… is it?"
She’s never actually had sweets much, especially not cake. Not that she remembered, anyway. (She actually got a ton of cupcakes for one birthday— Ran around the house covered in icing, trying to escape her father from being cleaned.) They looked good, though, certainly smelled good. She picked on up, looking it over. She took a bite out of it, lighting up at the sweet taste.
Victor puts the boxes down in a safe spot and hugs her back. “I know, but I don’t like anyone going without at least some cake on their birthday,” he replies. He feels that is a necessary component to birthdays, cake.
He laughs and pats Jaguar on the head. “I’m glad. Is it your birthday too, Jaguar?” he asks the toy.
Alia giggled a bit again, poking his shoulder gently. Him and his sweets.
"He’s seven!" she chirped happily, hugging it tightly.
She didn’t want to be greedy and ask for her presents; She didn’t even want them so much. Just him being thoughtful enough to get her something was nice.
"I love you, Big Brother." She muttered, "Thank you so much."
He buys it, probably because he’s such a worrywart himself sometimes. “Oh — well, winter won’t be here for a while yet,” he says, smiling again. “I don’t think you need to worry too much right now. And as it is…”
He reveals his hands, showing they’re carrying two boxes. One’s clearly a bakery box — Alia can probably smell the cupcake inside. The other is a small wrapped present. “Happy birthday, Alia.”
Alia blushed a little, then smiled warmly. She stood and hugged him tightly, snuggling against him.
"Remembering w-was good enough…" she whispered, kissing his cheek.
She held up Jaguar, now, nudging it’s muzzle against his cheek too.
Victor doesn’t remember the exact details of how he found out today was Alia’s birthday, but he knows that it is today. Which is why he’s paying a special visit to the den today. He knocks on the wall before poking his head around the corner. “Hello, Alia,” he says with a smile —
Only for it to turn into a frown as he sees her sad expression. “Oh — what’s wrong?” he asks, stepping into full view, hands held behind his back.
Alia looked up when she heard Victors voice, then ask her what was wrong. She shook her head, smiling and waving it off.
"I-it’s nothing, I was-was just th-thinking," she lied, though it seemed it came out more easy to believe than usual, "Worried a-about winter; T-time goes b-by fast, and-and I don’t w-want anyone sick…"
She tilted her head slightly in curiosity at noticing his hands behind his back.
Alia sat in her soft place, nuzzling her tiger quietly. Well, it was her birthday again… She’d have to visit her parents tomorrow, but she could never do it. Would this year be any different? She sighed and buried her face into her knees, trying to resist from crying. This was suppose to be a happy day, but… Her parents…
"W-we’ll be o-okay together, h-huh, Jaguar?" she whispered, "W-we’ll make it th-through tomorrow…"
Dez should have suspected something was wrong when the child tightened her grip, but Dez shrugged it off as fear for her pet. She glanced around the den, even though she couldn’t see a thing. “I.. Where is it?” She questioned with a frown. She wished that she could at least see, she felt she’d be able to be a better help that way.
"Oh, it actually appears one of the dogs got him out. Tasty treat, huh~?"
A growl accompanied her words, along with the crunching of bones and the sound of tearing flesh. Eyes began shining through the dark, of brawny and skinny cats, or young and warrior typed canines, who all seemed to be moving closer. Alia turned on an old oil lamp, vaguely illuminating the den enough to show the pair were surrounded by wild, hostile and very hungry animals.
"Now that that’s out of the way, how about we get to know each other?"
“Oh hell no,” Marty says in response to her whole ‘maybe I should have stayed’ spiel. “You did the right thing in getting out of there, believe me. You probably would have ended up dead if you’d stayed.”
Doc nods, sighing. “Trust me, we can understand self defense. Marty and I are from the American West — California. We’ve seen situations where the only way to get out was by shooting whoever was threatening you. It’s horrible that you’ve been forced into that mindset — that sort of life — so young.”
Victor hesitates a moment, then, slowly, approaches her and lays a hand on her shoulder. Normally he would consider this too forward for someone they’ve only just met, but…he wants to comfort her, somehow. “Is it at all possible to take your cats and move?” he asks quietly. “There’s plenty of room here in Secundus for you, I’m sure. Less crime, and anyone like t-that would probably be torn to bits by someone or their monster before they could—” He stops, unable to say it.
"I— I just can’t believe w-what I’m d-doing s-sometimes…" Alia whimpered, "I u-use to-to be so q-quiet and timid an-and scared, and I-I’d apologize for e-everything and he-he made me scared, made-made me think everything w-was so bad, I j-just… I-I..!"
Victor’s touch brought her back to Earth again, and she quickly looked up, her old fright in her eyes. His soft tone helped to calm her down again, and she looked down, trying to think.
"I c-could bring-bring them," She answered shakily, "But I-I don’t know h-how I’d ever get m-money, or metal, o-or food…"
She shook her head, trembling slightly, unable to face the young man trying to comfort her.
"I’d s-stay if-if I c-could…" she whispered, "But I-I don’t know i-if I ever c-could…"
The boys look a little dubious, Marty in particular. “I don’t think he was that good if he ended up doing what he did to you,” he says. “That’s just — wow. I can see why he needs friends on the force. Even if the East End of London is kind of a shithole, I don’t think they could ignore that for too long.”
“That is horrific,” Victor whispers, feeling sick to his stomach. “I don’t — how could anyone—”
“Not everyone has a decent moral compass,” Doc says, sounding rather tired. “That’s the only way I can explain it.” He frowns at her expression, and her grip on her weapon. “You might want to calm down a little, before you do something you’ll regret,” he says. “Anger and Creativity don’t mix well, let me tell you.”
Alia winced at Doc’s voice, trying to shake off her thoughts.
"I—I know," she muttered, "I just—…"
She didn’t know what to do about it sometimes.
"Sometimes I wonder if I should have just gone along with his plans and stayed obedient, instead of struggling to get the money for my next meal. I just wonder if it’s worth it anymore…"
She looked at her rough reflection on the silver metal of her gun, sighing.
"I don’t want to… I don’t want to kill or hurt people, but I don’t want to die either…" She whispered, then gritted her teeth, "But the one time I tried to be nice to that bastard, he game me this." She indicated her eye, hissing quietly, "I have to do everything myself or I end up getting raped. Go to the police? Go to the hospital? Nope, can’t trust anyone. You’re either a murderer, and rapist, a drug dealer or forced to be a prostitute."
She hid herself behind her hands, shaking her head as her shoulders raised, as though wishing she could just disappear somehow.
"I just want things to get better again, but I don’t know what to do anymore..!"
“I can try,” Victor says, though his smile indicates he’s teasing. “It’s not really all that bad, I suppose. But you’ve got to be a certain type of person to enjoy living there.” And he’s not that certain type of person.
Ooooh, okay, things are starting to make a little more sense. Doc’s face darkens. “So that’s why you’re so reluctant to go to an orphanage or foster home? I can’t say I blame you,” he says, sickened. “How did he even get custody of you in the first place?”
“Probably pretended to be normal,” Marty says, looking just as disgusted and angry. “That really sucks that you had to go through all of that. I’m sorry.”
“Me too,” Victor says, horrified. “My God, how can… It’s just n-not right! People like t-that shouldn’t be allowed to roam the streets! How can any policeman h-help him?!”
“They’re not all as good as the ones we have in this city,” Doc says, sighing.
"He really was nice to me, but only for a month. I can tell he was a good guy for a long time, one of those guys you were an idiot and got yourself into trouble with. Something happened, one night… I don’t know, but there was arguing, then there was shouting, then he was in my room and dragged me into the fight…"
She shivered a bit. She couldn’t help but to have been scared when it happened. Her new parents fighting, with her in the middle of it, then they started yelling at her. She never understood what happened.
"After that, they ignored me, then he started beating me, then decided that the basement would make for a great room for me. I vaguely remember somehow being abused by ten people at once, with him snickering at me as he watched. Telling me I liked it…”
Her grip on the weapon was dangerously close to breaking it, gritting her teeth. She took a deep breath in a desperate attempt to calm herself. Going on a rampage wouldn’t solve anything right now; She’d save it for when she was in the same city as him. Then, she’d take her gun…
Creativity sparked bright in her as she mentally began building up a weapon to kill him with. Him and all his friends and all the other murderers in that god-forsaken city. Even if it meant killing every last person there— She wouldn’t be surprised if she was the only sane one there… Then again, was she sane? She was planning on a mass-murder herself, thinking she was the one who was right. She grinned. Heh, how funny, the way things turn out…
It wasn’t, at least for Victor. Being dragged God knows how many miles underneath a flying steam train is not pleasant. But the end result was worth it.
“I know, but — well, as the only person from that p-place in the room, I feel compelled to,” Victor admits with a shrug. “It’s a rather prejudiced and boring t-town, I’m sorry to say.”
There’s a moment where everyone goes a little stiff as she extracts the gun — even if she has no intentions of using it, it’s still a bit disconcerting to see. Especially after some of the stuff she’s mentioned. Speaking of which… “Is — is he the cannibal guy?” Marty has to ask. “Because, uh, you can’t really bring something like that up and then not explain.” Seriously.
"It’s just a place no one here seems to like being in is all. You can’t apologize to the world for it existing." She said, offering a smile.
Alia sighed. Story time again, it seemed.
"I wish." she snarled, "Drew doesn’t make as much noise. He has friends in the police department, so he can’t be arrested. He has a friend in the hospital, where he gets his drugs. And guess what? I’m his kid."
She nudged the knife a little, as though hoping the man himself would somehow feel it.
"Saw my parents’ corpses the night they died in that fire, starved and locked myself up in my room for a year in the orphanage, then four years of abuse on every level. I got away the night he tried to bring me to the black market to sell me off for someone else to rape me. No, I didn’t like that too much. I’d rather sit, wet in the snow, in an alley and starve to death then go along with his plans to make himself rich. Sell me, steal me. Back and forth, for money and pleasure."
Suddenly, she didn’t hate her weapons so much. She picked up her knife and put it away, then her gun. She clutched it, glaring at the thing, as though mad none of it’s bullets had yet to kill her enemy.
Victor notes the look. “They were testing their new hover conversion system, and they chose Burtonsville to fly to.”
“Farthest away place Doc found on the map,” Marty explains, starting on his sandwich. “Greyest place in the world.”
“Yes, well, I was being chased by some bullies, and we all happened upon the train. They forced me to go inside, and I knocked out a rope ladder on my way out. Then, when Doc and Marty came back, I tried to sneak around the train without them noticing me, and got my f-foot caught in the ladder dangling out the door. And before I could free myself…” He shakes his head. “It — wasn’t a f-fun trip to the city, but I’m glad it happened nonetheless.”
Victor looks surprised. “You’ve visited?” He would have never guessed. He nods sadly at her story. “That does sound about right, unfortunately. Burtonsville is very proud of its — normality, I suppose. It’s very anti-Touched. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
The rest of her little story, however… All three men stop eating and stare at her. Did she really just say what they thought she said? Marty looks at his sandwich, then puts it down. Unsurprisingly, he’s not that hungry anymore.
Alia giggled at Marty’s comment, listening to the rest of their story. It didn’t sound like an enjoyable trip, but at least things worked out in the end.
"Yeah. Didn’t like it there at all." She sighed, "Don’t apologize, though! You couldn’t have done anything about it. At least someone was happy to help, though."
She sighed and shook her head, getting out an apple from her bag.
"I’m gonna get out of that town somehow." She muttered, biting into her own lunch, "Even if it’s the last thing I do. I’ll leave with all my friends, and we’ll find a whole new place to call home. Somewhere I can throw out my gun."
She pulled out the item in question, sighing again and putting it down to show she wouldn’t use it at all.
"I hate the damn thing. But without it, I wouldn’t be standing here." She threw down her knife as well. "Along with this thing. Got this off of Drew— I guess you could call him almost like my ‘evil villain’ or something."
She felt her heart ache as the child started to cry. “I..” Biting down on her bottom lip, she nodded her head slowly. “Please.. Take me to where the kitten is. I’ll try and help your kitten. No need to cry.. Please..”
She couldn’t take the sight of the crying child anymore, she would probably start crying herself if it continued. She truly hoped that she would be able to help out and free the feline.
Alia soon calmed at hearing her say she’d come, resisting the urge to grin. Hook and reel.
"Th-thank you miss," She whispered, giving a weak smile and taking her hand gently, "H-he’s over here, c-come on..!"
She led her through the alleys, to her den. They were pitch black, though she had no problem in seeing. Her grip slowly got tighter, until they were in the den finally.
Dez glanced at the young girl and widened her grey eyes. She noticed that the young girl looked upset and frowned deeply. Whenever anyone was upset it instantly gave her the urge to take care of them. “What is it?” Dez asked with a concerned expression. She bent down to the child’s level and looked at her. “What’s going on? How can I help?”
This would be all too easy…
"M-my kitten, it-it got s-stuck under a big t-trash can th-thing, and I-I can’t g-get him out…" She whimpered, beginning to cry, "I d-don’t wanna leave h-him alone, and-and I wanna g-go home, cause t-the dark is s-so scary! P-please, h-help me, m-miss!"
Tears always reeled them in like bee to honey. There was no way this lady could refuse now.
With how quiet and lonely things have been lately, Dez was certainly going out of her way to find something dumb and reckless to do. Usually, of course, that started out wandering the city streets in the middle of the night.
She wasn’t even sure when the last time she had slept or done much of anything to take care of herself. Things were becoming too much for her.
It’s quiet even here.. I thought the city was supposed to be bustling with life.. why is it even lonely now?
The reason of this quietness walked along the roofs, staring down at Dez. Now, who was this, out in her territory during her time? She’d made it very clear that nighttime was her time, so who was stupid enough to dare go out now? She jumped down into an alley somewhere ahead of Dez and waited for the young woman to pass by. When she did, she walked out and put on the ‘timid’ act.
"H-hello..?" she asked shakily, gently tugging on her sleeve to get her attention, "C-can you help me, p-please..? I r-really need h-help, it-it’s an e-emergency..!"
“I have no idea, but it’s a hell of a thing,” Marty says with a grin, unwrapping another sandwich. “And this one’s mine — last one should be yours, Doc.”
“You sound like Victor,” Marty notes. “Would you believe that, even after being dragged her under our train, he wanted to stay?”
“That wasn’t your fault — I’d found their train in the woods, and I somehow got myself attached to it r-right before they took off to come home,” Victor explains. “They were very kind to me once they discovered me. That’s what helped convince me to stay — seeing that Touched and Igors r-really were just regular people.” He smiles at his friends. “And I’m very glad I did. I f-feel I belong here more than I ever did back in Burtonsville.”
“Interesting,” Doc says, rubbing his chin. “The cats sound like a slightly-Fabricated colony to me — ones that were altered either on purpose or by accident, and had that passed down. Do you know if your mother or father could speak to animals as well?”
Alia looked over at Victor questioningly at that. How the hell did that happen? She couldn’t help but to giggle a bit at his story.
"Well then," She said, trying to hold back more laughter, "Seems like everyone’s at least come to terms at that matter. Goodness…"
She looked over at him again, looking him over.
"Yoju? In Burtonsville?" she said in an unbelieving tone, "There’s WAY too much creativity in your head for that. I’ve been there once when I was trying to move out of the city for a safer place. There were, apparently, a lot of people there who didn’t like the fact I was touched. One kid, some bully who thought he was all big and bad— Well, he certainly was bigger than me— Even tried to show me up about my cats."
She sighed and crossed her arms.
"I knew trying to make myself look even worse wouldn’t do any good for the rest of us, so I just left. They don’t need any more reasons to believe we aren’t as good as we are. No one there was about to do anything that matches the one guy that rapes people, kills them and then eats them, so I just let them be." She sighed, then snarled, "Otherwise, I woulda killed them. People who get on my nerves quickly regret it. Put someone in the hospital once, sadly. Should have killed the bastard; Now he’s off in some other town killing people…"
“In the making? He is one, pretty much,” Marty says, pulling out sandwiches.
“It’s just a hobby,” Victor says, smiling a little shyly. “I’ve just always loved butterflies and other insects. They’re fascinating little creatures.”
“We’ve got a Big Ben too,” Marty says, checking a sandwich. “Think this one’s yours, Victor… Except that the clock’s a cuckoo clock, so it’s Cuckoo Ben instead. Don’t have a Thames, though — least, none that I’ve ever seen.”
“Secundus is short for London Secundus,” Victor explains, picking up his food. “Apparently the founding mad scientist wanted to make a copy of London to trick people. When that didn’t work, he turned it into a town for Touched.”
“Did you teach them English? Or did they pick it up themselves?” Doc asks, curious. The latter suggests to him she’s stumbled upon a den of feral Fabricated cats. That ‘high crime rate’ makes him frown a little, though. “Sounds to me like you live somewhere in the East End, then. I’ve heard that’s the rougher half of London.”
“Mother always refused to go anywhere near it, so I think that’s right,” Victor says, frowning himself.
"A what?” Alia broke out in laughter at the thought. ”Who the hell decided to do THAT?!”
She eventually broke from her giggle fit, panting slightly as she tried to catch her breath, a bit of laughter still escaping through.
"This is just the best place on this entire plant. I don’t ever want to leave."
Sadly, though, she couldn’t stay here. She had the kits to watch back at home, and there was nowhere she knew that was at least decently safe to stay and make home for the cats with.
"They learned it themselves." She answered, "The parents knew a little, and taught the kits, who learned a little more while walking around the city. Knowledge kept being passed down and corrected, until there was a little community or felines who knew English and what we do and why we do it. I…"
She rubbed the back of her neck, a little nervous.
"I was apparently born knowing feline. I can hear cats like I hear all of you. I can’t start meowing and knowing what I’m saying, though. I never understood why…"
Victor stops and blushes a bit. Whoops. Going on his equivalent of a rant. “Ah, y-yes,” he says, rubbing the back of his head. “I do.”
“He spends all his free time there,” Marty says, gently nudging him. “If you want to visit and think you need a tour guide, he’s your man. He probably knows the park better than Lewis at this point.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that…”
The boys frown a bit as she bites her lip, but decide it’s not worth pushing the issue. They’re not here to bully the customers, after all. “Just so you know,” Marty nods, going back to get the lunch bag.
“Where are you from, if you don’t mind me asking?” Doc says, a little curious. “You implied before that you didn’t live in Secundus.” He would have thought for sure she was a native, what with her modifications.
"Entomologist in the making?" Alia joked lightly, "If you start catching butterflies, you better bring some over for me to see too. Haven’t seen one since… I dunno."
There’s still a lot of things she’s never seen of. Somethings most kids have heard of she hasn’t yet. She was trying to save up some spare money to do something nice for herself, but it usually always went to food anyway. She’d rather eat than draw one of her cats. She had to think about that question Doc had asked, humming a bit.
She didn’t actually know. She chuckled a bit, shrugging.
"I don’t know. It’s somewhere in London, I know that. I also know that, if you’re on the right buildings, you can see Big Ben at least. I’ve also walked along the side of the Thames as well. That was a nice day, until someone tried to steal off of me. Sucks for him I didn’t have any money left; I had a half eaten apple."
She snickered at the memory. She’d asked the guy if he wanted that instead; He got so angry he actually did take it, then thew it out somewhere. That was a great day.
"I live in the alleys, in the cats’ den. Ask the right cat about it, and they’ll take you. All the ones there know English, so talking to them shouldn’t be too hard. They’re great conversationalists. Keep up-to-date on the place for me. Saved a lot of people because of it. I live in the town with the highest crime rate, to the point I had to, well, do something I shouldn’t know about just yet, let’s say, when I went to report something to the police. Every man for his self. If you don’t have at least a knife, you’re dead."
“Oh, it’s beautiful,” Victor says. “Multicolored trees, every kind of flower you can think of — and a lot you can’t — oh, and the insect population is amazing! Rocking-horseflies, bread-and-butterflies, snapdragonflies and fire-dragonflies — the latter is designed to look something like an actual dragon — mechanical ladybugs, Army ants that actually have armies—” Sorry, he’s had a squee moment. Entomology nerd.
The boys look at each other for a moment. “Well — if you ever need at least a quick meal, you can always visit the Baudelaire Orphanage for Unfortunate Children,” Marty suggests. “They’re always happy to help children down on their luck.”
“Oh yes — if you do decide to give foster homes a chance, you want to have them help you,” Doc agrees. “They have very strict standards for all potential guardians. They don’t want any of their children going to anyone neglectful or malicious.” Mostly because they themselves had to deal with too much of that in their youth.
Alia couldn’t help but to laugh as he began going on about the park.
"Seems like you really enjoy it there." she said with a grin.
It really did sound amazing though. The ideas sounded like something from an over-active child’s mind brought to life. Something of a place that someone would dream about. She silently swore that she’d see it before leaving, even if it’s the last thing she’d do here.
She bit her lower lip nervously. She believed them about it, but she was still nervous at the thought of going somewhere like that. She believed he was a nice person and, at first, he really was. He trier to get her to open up, got her nice things, accepted her eating habits and left her alone when she needed to. But just as she was, something happened, and…
She shook her head, as though trying to shake away the bitter memories.
“Me too,” Doc says. “I don’t think you need any further classification than that. Unless you like the term bio-mechanics. I think that’s what they call what you do.” He nods at the hands, and at her mechanical eye.
“Lewis Carroll,” Victor explains. “He’s a good friend of ours — works mainly in biology. He runs Wonderland Park.” He smiles as he says the words. “It’s an incredible place. He’s created so many amazing plants and animals…”
“Yeah, it’s fantastic,” Marty agrees. “Really lives up to the name.”
Right — Victor does want to do something, but he’s feeling a tad overwhelmed right at the moment. He’ll decide on it later.
Victor laughs as well. “P-probably,” he admits. “I’ve never tried that medium — it’s always been ink and paper, or oil and canvas, for me.”
Alia looked down at her hand, wiggling her fingers. Interesting. She looked up again as Victor began explaining, listening closely. She smiled at their descriptions, finding herself wanting to be able to visit.
"I’ll have to see it later, then." she said, "Sounds like a great place to be."
She just shrugged a bit.
"I don’t think I’d ever be able to afford art supplies and food. Essentials first, indulgence later." She sighed, "I make do with all my pointy rocks though. It’s good enough until I can brave going back to a foster home…"
She shook her head. She might have gotten over her timid and fearful stage after she went Creative, but she still had that main fear. She didn’t want to risk going through all of that again, even though she was sure she could, when desperate enough, hurt someone with her hands. Tinker with them enough and she could make them damn well dangerous as well. But she didn’t want to try anything just yet.
“Probably because I’m not a biologist,” Doc admits. “I try to keep up-to-date on all the various branches of science, but I’m best with physics and mechanical creations. We do know a good biologist, though — Lewis Carroll! I’m sure if you’d like to go that route, he’d be happy to help you,” he adds to Victor.
“I d-don’t want to be a bother—”
“Letting him ramble on about something he loves doing? You really think he’d consider that a bother?” Marty points out.
Victor has to concede the point. “I — I don’t know what I want to do right now. Just — something. Something amazing.”
“Think it over for a while, then,” Doc says. “Nobody’s trying to pressure you into anything.”
Victor nods understandingly. “I do drawings of them all the time. But I agree, there’s always something about the real, living thing that will trump ink and paper. Though if you try very hard, you can usually capture at least a little of that essence.”
"I think I do mechanics and biology? I’m not sure is working on the cats and myself and knowing what everything is counts, but…"
Alia never really cared for putting things into classes like that. It was ‘Derp I made this and put it here!’ and that was good enough for her.
"Lewis?" she repeated curiously.
She had a vague sense that it wasn’t just a random person wandering around in town. She’d heard of him a few times, but didn’t really pay much attention. She giggled a bit at Marty’s words. Yeah, it’d be great to see him do something he wanted to create, but forcing him to do it was just cruel.
She nodded in agreement, sighing a bit and giving a small shrug.
"Drew them for a month and I couldn’t get it right. Then again, it was rock on concrete…" She muttered, the stopped a moment, "I just now realized that could be a factor in it."
She laughed a bit. Well, not everyone had the memory of an elephant.
You’d be surprised at how many customers apparently didn’t learn that. They do a closing clean up of the shop every day to put things back on shelves, or restore them to their proper places. Someone like Alia is much appreciated.
“Yeah,” Marty agrees. “If you want to give it a whirl, you should. No need to be all shy about it.”
“I know, but…” His eyes flick to Doc. “It’ll never—”
“None of that,” Doc says, guessing at Victor’s thoughts and frowning. “I believe you’re perfectly capable of building a mechanical butterfly if you want. You’ve show some aptitude for it — especially with the small parts you’d need.” He pats him on the back. “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”
Victor smiles at him, feeling better. Why did he let himself get all worried about that anyway? He should have known his friends would support him. “Thanks.”
“Oh, I know,” Victor says enthusiastically. “I love studying them. All the different colors and patterns…the way they move, the way they fly… They’re simply amazing. I’ve loved them ever since I was a child.” Despite his mother’s protests that it was “girly” to like butterflies.
"Why are the lot of us thinking just mechanical," Alia said with a grin, "Put your mind to it and you can do anything, you said; Study in enough and he can make his own species! People have made their own dogs, after all. Insects can’t be too hard. Cross-breeding. Biology. Chemical stuff I don’t get."
She understood most things except chemicals. She couldn’t do that.
"It’s like highschool; You start out with a bunch of different stuff, then stick with what you like!"
That’s about as bad as saying that only boys can have short hair.
"They’re fun to draw to," she said with a smile, "But I could never get it right. There’s just something about butterflies that seems impossible to put on paper; There’s always something missing…"
"I guess the real thing will always be the best thing."
Marty notices the jump. “Sorry,” he says, going to put the bag on the counter. “Didn’t mean to scare ya.”
“That’s Marty,” Doc says in explanation. “My other assistant.”
“Ahh, I see.” That actually helps them not worry, Alia — shows you really do know what you can and can’t afford. And they’re quite happy to see you’re willing to clean up your own mess — though Victor lends a hand anyway. He can’t help being helpful like that.
“Really?” Victor peers closely at her drawings. “You know, I’ve — I’ve b-been sort of wanting to make one myself…”
“Really?” Doc says, surprised.
Victor blushes, looking away. “Well — you, Richard, and Lewis always m-make such amazing things, and I — I sort of — w-wanted to do that myself,” he says, playing with his tie. He looks back at the drawing. “That’s a very nice design — I wouldn’t have thought you could combine the things like that.”
“If it’s a butterfly, I know one guy who wouldn’t get bored with it,” Marty comments, looking just as surprised as Doc. “Victor here loves ‘em — though hey, you should have told us you wanted to try your hand at building before. Not like we can’t help.”
Victor blushes harder. “I know, I was just —” He shrugs. Shy? Worried they’d say he couldn’t do it? Something like that.
"Ooh yes." She laughed.
Alia waved it away, smiling. Well, of course she does. Living months in the alleys did that to a person. For the cleaning up, though— That’s just good manners and, well, common sense. You took it down, you put it back. It’s not a hard concept to understand, really.
She smiled at that, nodding.
"Doesn’t hurt to try, right?" she said.
She thinks it’s a great idea to get someone else into inventing. When you’re surrounded by Touched, it’s sort of hard not to get drawn in, really. She giggled a bit at Marty’s words.
"You’re never old enough to chase butterflies," She said with a firm now, crossing her arms, "Because butterflies are awesome! Never understood how nature managed to create such a delicate, beautiful insect. Guess we can thank the world for them, huh?"
Alia was never one to judge people. Well, not new or nice people. If she knows your mean and if she hates you, she will turn you into a quivering ball of self hatred and depression. She’s actually done it once. Kid committed suicide a week later. She doesn’t know that, though, and she didn’t like doing it. She was just mad… No judging!
They’ll try not to worry as openly now that she’s said all that. They know it’s never a good idea to tick off a Touched — you never know what might happen.
Victor and Doc watch her work, with both interest and vague amusement. Doc laughs too when she finally sort of snaps out of it. “You know, that happens a lot with me too,” he comments. “I have an idea, and suddenly it’s five hours later and I’ve got a half-completed machine in front of me.”
“Or sometimes you just end up passed out in front of whatever it was you were inventing, and I’ve got to save your notes from getting drooled on,” a new voice says. Marty has joined the group, carrying some bags. “I got lunch!”
“Put it on the counter, Marty, we’ll be with you in a moment,” Doc says, glancing behind him. “Did you want to buy any of this?” he adds, turning back to Alia. “Or were they convenient stand-ins?”
"When you have an idea but you just can’t get it right," Alia agreed with a giggle.
She looked up at the sudden voice, jumping a bit. She soon calmed at the sight of the teen, letting out a breath. she was never good with sudden noises. Especially when she doesn’t know where it came from; Then she just gets scared.
"Oh no, I definitely know I can’t afford this," She said quickly, "Just plans for when I get home again. I’m sure James will let me loot around some more if I let him play with Toxic some more; He loves ever last whisker on that cat."
She put the pieces back from where she got them so they didn’t have to clean up her mess, then showed them what she intended to make.
"See? Butterfly!" she gigged, "Shouldn’t be too hard; Getting the dynamic to fly was tricky to figure out, but I think I’ve got it."
She put her pencil and book back in her bag, shrugging a bit.
"Just one of those silly little toy you play with for five minutes, then get bored of."
Doc frowns. “I don’t think so — then again, if they’re coming from the future back… Most people can’t get past the power issue, you see. Every previous design seems to require all the energy in the universe, no matter how small or large the jump.”
“Can we please stop talking about destroying the universe with time travel?” Victor asks, pulling at his tie a little. “It’s a l-little distressing.”
“All right, all right,” Doc says, raising a hand in defeat. “You are a most self-sufficient twelve-year-old.” He couldn’t help but worry about you a little, though. After all, you’re twelve. Think of it as fatherly instincts.
Doc and Victor follow her over, curious as to what she’s got going on. “Idea?” Doc says, watching her fiddling with the things.
“I don’t know how you could ever combine that and that,” Victor confesses, pointing out the items in question.
Alia rolled her eyes again. Fine, worry.
"Yeah yeah." She muttered, smiling at them for a moment anyway.
She knew they were good people, and they meant well, but sometimes it annoyed her when people did worry. It made her feel— Belittled? Underestimated? She didn’t know. She just didn’t like the feeling, and tried not to act on it. No use in throwing a temper-tantrum; It won’t get you anything but trouble.
She nodded vaguely, scribbling down notes and a few sketches. She looked up at the parts, then down at her work, saying,
"I’m not entirely sure yet either."
She grinned at him playfully, continuing her plans. She fetched a few more parts she figured would help, putting some back, going back and forth. By the time she seemed to be satisfied, the parts were laid out before her, waiting to be connected. Her plans were a bit messy and scattered, crossed out lines and drawings on it; Three pages worth of it.
She looked over her book, then at the part, which were more than she started out with, then laughed.
“Well, small timeline changes are to be expected — you unfortunately can’t avoid those,” Doc admits. “I’m talking about the big things, that might break cause and effect. Those are the ones you definitely want to avoid.”
He shrugs back. “I know it’s a dangerous invention, but — time travel has been a dream of mine for ages. I just want to see how history works.”
“And hopefully not blow it up,” Victor says, trying to make a joke. He doesn’t quite succeed.
Doc pats his back. “I promise you, I will do everything in my power to avoid breaking time. I live in this timestream too.”
Doc and Victor share another look. “Well, if you’re sure,” Doc says, a little reluctantly. “If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to drop by again.” He waves a hand. “As you can see, we’ve got plenty of spare parts.”
Alia thought for a moment.
"Maybe there’s already time travelers, but we just don’t know it." She mused.
That would be interesting. She rolled her eyes at them, shaking her head a bit.
"I’ve got money to buy me food, I know some cats that live here who’ll be glad to give me a place to camp out in and, now, two working hands! So don’t give me any of those looks." She said said, sticking her tongue out at them.
She did look around at the parts for a moment, though. A few ideas came to mind, mixing a few things together, how it’d work, what it could do. She went over to a few shelves, picking out a few things. She tilted her head slightly, trying to resist the urge to make something out of them. She’d put them back, yes, but… She hadn’t made anything for two whole days! Alright, that sounds pretty bad, but she was young and busting with ideas more than an adult would.
"If we arrange that and that, maybe I could at least write out the plans and scrape the stuff together from the junk yard when I get back…" she murmured, setting them down somewhere and taking out a notepad and a pencil, "It just might work, if we could just…"
Victor chuckles at that metaphor. “That would be the best life, I think,” he comments. At least, it would be for him. Terrible sweet tooth and absolutely loves dogs.
Doc grins. Don’t be sorry, Alia, he loves rambling on about this! “Oh yes! That’s the fascinating thing about time travel — how you have to learn to perceive past, present, and future all as one. As for paradoxes, I’ve been plotting out ways to try and avoid those. After all, a severe one might actually be capable of destroying the entire universe.”
“Well, that’s the worst-cast scenario — the damage would most likely be limited to merely our own galaxy.” Doc pauses and looks at Victor’s pale face. “…But it’s highly unlikely even that would happen because I don’t intend on causing any paradoxes,” he adds in a rush.
Doc takes the money, feeling awkward again. “You’re sure it won’t set you back too much?” he has to ask. “I don’t want you to have to go without just because you wanted to give a tip.”
"Well, if you’re going through time, of course they’re going to be paradoxes, even small ones. But yeah, doing something like saving a famous figure from death or something would totally change what we might know right now. Maybe it’ll be better, maybe it’ll be worse."
Alia shrugged. Time has always been something cool to think about, but she would never try to study into it. She believed that time was not to be messed with, even if it’s just to do something as simple as watch a game you might’ve missed. Anything could go wrong.
"It’s certainly something interesting I like to think about, but I think I’ll stick with making my little metal toys." She said with a smile.
She waved it off, smiling again.
"I’ll be fine. I’ll be able to get everything I need still. Worse comes to worst, I’ll just leave back home earlier than I intended. You don’t have to worry about me at all."
He’s rather less glad to hear that she’s apparently wandering the alleys on her own. “Oh, I see. I’m very sorry for your loss.”
“So am I,” Victor says sympathetically. “That must have been terrible.” He almost wants to give her a hug, but considering he barely knows this girl…
Doc nods. “That’s good, at least. I know going Creative has opened up a whole new world for me. Never done anything like that —” he indicates her eyes and hands “— but still. My main interest is in the realm of time travel.” He grins. “I’m almost there — I just have to figure out how to properly lick the power problem. 1.21 gigawatts is a bit hard to produce, I’m afraid.”
Victor and Doc grin to see the hand moving properly, then share an awkward look as she talks about payment. On the one hand, they feel rather weird about taking money from a girl who just admitted she lives in an alleyway. On the other, they don’t want to possibly insult her by telling her it’s free. Touched can be iffy when insulted. “How about we call it even at a couple of shillings,” Doc says, figuring that’s a fair minimum. “Could even be a shilling and a half, it wasn’t that difficult a repair…”
"Bad stuff happens," Alia said, "Not everyone’s life has been ice cream and puppies, but there’s always the ups, right?"
That’s always how it works. Try to focus on the good, but don’t ignore the bad. Try to come in terms with everything, and it doesn’t always seem so bad. She brightened up at the mention of Doc’s project, becoming extremely interested in the new topic.
"Time travel? That’s amazing! Don’t you have that problem of paradoxes, though? Then again, I guess time doesn’t always have to happen in a straight line when it comes to traveling like that. Someone could be planting a garden while at the same time picking the grapes they’d grown years ago. That’s an interesting thought, everything happening all at once. Imagine coming to accept and understand that?"
Oops, she’s rambling about a project that isn’t even hers. She blushed a little at realizing that, rubbing the back of her neck nervously.
She counted up the amount, then put the rest back, handing him the money, with a little more in it as well.
"You can split extra," She said with a smile, "For being so kind. Plus, I’m sure someone else would have done a bigger job and made a huge fuss just for a bigger payment. Some people just can’t be trusted… Thank you again."
“That I do remember — I was in university at the time, and my classmates had just laughed at me again after something I created for my science class failed to work.” He smiles a little. “One of the top reasons for going Creative is the ‘laughter of fools,’ after all…”
“I’ll try to be quick,” Victor promises. He doesn’t like causing anyone pain.
Doc and Victor are rather shocked and horrified by the story. “Great Scott,” Doc breathes. “Yes — yes, a severe shock like that would do it… I d-do hope your cats were all right.” He can’t help but add, “Where were your parents? Were they—” He can’t bring himself to say it.
Victor stares at her metal hand for a moment, unmoving. He can’t imagine doing what she did — cutting off your own hands and replacing them with metal… It sends a shiver up his spine. Sorry, Alia — he’s just very protective of his hands. “I’m v-very sorry you had to g-go Creative that way,” he whispers, making himself get back to work. After another minute, he’s managed to remove the obstruction from the joint. He carefully extracts the screwdriver, making sure everything is properly in place. “Try it now.”
"Yes, they’re all right now! Running around and playing. Some of the rouge cats even joined us after I helped them. I can’t stand to see anything get hurt or die…"
Alia stiffened at the mention of her parents, looking down again sadly.
"My parents… died in a fire, when I was six. I live in the alleys, you see. The cats treat me as an equal there, and it really does feel like home."
She smiled a bit, waving it off.
"It’s alright, really. I’m really glad I did go Creative, though. I can help my friends, now, and without being Touched, I wouldn’t have been able to make this."
She gestured to her mechanical eye as she spoke. She took her hand back as he said it was done, looking it over. she wiggled her fingers, delighted to see it moving again. She balled it up into a fist, moved each one on their own, stretched them out. Yup, it was working!
"Thank you!" she said happily, then reached into her pocket, "Um, how much for the repair? I’m pretty sure I have enough, but…"
She took out her money and shifted it around in the small cloth bag she had. She needed to pay for this, then she’d need a few apples to continue her wandering, then she’d search the alleys with a few feline friends she knew here for more money for the trip back… So much to do.
Kyoya heard the stuttering in her voice and suddenly understood what was going on. “I feel that you and Tamaki have a story to tell me, but I don’t think I want to hear it until you can tell me without it bringing up terrible memories,” said Kyoya pushing up his glasses. “Tamaki is defiantly a person that brings out the best of people.”
Alia nodded obediently, looking down again.
"T-Tamaki would b-be better at-at telling…" she admitted quietly.
She nodded a bit, smiling again. He really did, and he might not even have noticed.
"I… I’m s-soryy, if I’m a b-bother to you…" she muttered, tugging at the hem of her shirt nervously, "I just… I w-was kinda l-lost, I-I guess…"