"Wait a minute. Mana, didn't we use to know someone named Allen?" Blinking a little as he looked to his brother, the other holding the now named baby boy in one arm while trying to fix a bottle with the other it seemed. He watched Mana freeze in place for a moment, the eldest of the room occupants closing the tin holding what he guessed was the mix for the formula. He'd learn what it was eventually.
"I don't know what you're going on about Nea. I mean we've probably run into quite a few people who go by Allen, it's not exactly a rare name." Blinking, he tried to think back on where and who used the name. That's when he remembered, the large ball of white fur from long before, back when both he and Mana were still in grade school, long before when they still lived with their mother.
"Mana… did you really just name Allen, the baby you just picked up from a cardboard box in an alley an hour ago, after the dog we had back in grade school?" Watching his older brother flinch, he couldn't stop himself from sighing. Maybe he shouldn't have asked, the memory was terrible for Mana.
"It was the only name I could think of, and it fits him. I know its been a long time, but it's stuck in my memory. This just felt right, I don't know why." Giving his twin a smile, he set the puppy on the floor before pacing over, pulling Mana into a hug. He remembers the same event as Mana, but he was thankfully not affected as badly. It was after their twelfth birthday, and the two of them were out walking dog Allen. Apparently the driver hadn't seen them, and it didn't help that he didn't have his lights on. If the hound hadn't noticed the vehicle and thrown Mana back by his sleeve he doesn't believe that he would've lasted much longer, especially with their family situation being what it used to be.
"You're going to make fun of me, aren't you. I don't want to hear it." Pulling back a little to clearly see Mana's face, he moved both his hands up to hold his brother's face, having to stand on his toes for a moment in order to successfully press a kiss to the top of Mana's head.
"I'm not going to laugh, why would you think so low of me? Part of me thinks that doggy Al knew what was going on, that if he didn't save you, you wouldn't have been able to save this Allen tonight. And that's honestly really cool in my opinion." Watching Mana's expression change as he spoke, he gladly matched his twin's smile. "Let's get to bed Mana, try to get a good rest before tomorrow comes. Merry Christmas, Mana."
"Oh look at you Nea! You're so cute in this picture!" Hearing his half sister's cooing from the other side of the room, he slowed his playing to a stop, the notes drifting to silence under his fingers. Turning to face where the young teen stood by the fireplace, he could see that her attention was fiercely focused on a photograph that sat on the ledge.
Standing from the bench, he took quick steps over to where his youngest sister stood, glancing over the mantle that usually only held fake flowers in vases and a few pictures of family, finally finding the photograph that the girl was talking about. He very vaguely remembered when it had been taken, he hadn't even noticed that Mana had captured the scene. Picking up the frame, he glanced over the image of himself, his nephew, and Timcanpy asleep on the couch. It had to have been the second day they had Allen, the date being close to six months ago now.
"You didn't even know it was there, did you Nea. How long ago was it taken, Allen looks smaller than he does in the other pictures." Glancing up from the picture to the girl who stood beside him still looking at the image in his hand, he couldn't stop his smile, resting his arm on the girl's head, effectively messing her already disheveled hair up even more.
"I didn't even know it existed, Road, Mana never showed me it before he put it here. I barely remember how we ended up like that, but it was the second night we had Allen and I was taking care of him while Mana got some sleep. It was almost, what, six months ago now? He's grown so much since then. He was practically skin and bones when we found him in that alley." Laughing a little at how she tried to fix her hair and shove his arm off, he set the picture frame back in its place on the mantle, watching the fourteen year old get lost in thought for another moment.
"They're supposed to be back soon, right? I can't wait to meet Allen finally." Watching the girl bounce a little in her flats, he rolled his eyes as he moved back over to the piano.
"Mana sent me a message that they're on their way back now, though Allen might be asleep when they get here." Watching his sister nod before he turned back to the keys, he heard her sit back down on the couch that sat against the wall of the room. Thankfully for Road, Allen was awake when he got back from the doctors office, and he enjoyed seeing the girl play with her little nephew. He sure needed to step up his game if he wanted to be the best uncle.
"Yikes kiddo, that's got to be a big ouchie." Glancing over his brother's shoulder as the elder changed the bandages over Allen's eyebrow, he almost couldn't watch as some of the scabbing was pulled up by the edges of the bandage tape. Hearing his brother start laughing a little, he glanced back over to the other two for only a moment to see that Mana was laughing at him.
"Anything looks like it hurts to you, Nea. Honestly, Allen is being so much braver than you've ever been, and there's a twenty year gap between you two. Now hold still for another moment, Allen, I need to grab another piece of gauze. Don't scratch your forehead again or you'll make it bleed again. I don't think you want to see your uncle faint again." Pouting at his brother's words toward him, he crossed his arms as he watched the other man leave the room to find the rest of the aid kit. Glancing back to his nephew, he grabbed the boy's wrist quickly, pulling it away from the dark red and broken up scab above the boy's left eye.
"Hey, you heard your dad. If you keep trying to scratch it it'll bleed again. If it bleeds then it's not going to get better and it'll scar up and be there the rest of your life." Watching one silver eye look up at him, the other closed so the injury could be repatched, his eyebrows knit together as he watched blood bead up at where the boy had managed to rub against.
"But it itchy uncle Nee." Sighing as he heard his white haired nephew whine, he pinched the bridge of his nose, grabbing the wet cloth that Mana had left on the counter to wipe off the boy's hand and dab lightly at the newer wound.
"I know it itches Allen, but that's just because your body is trying to put itself back together. A scab is like the body's bandage, it holds and protects what got hurt so it can get better. It's not normally there so it gets uncomfortable and we tend to rub and scratch what's uncomfortable, but if we do that it'll take longer to get better and we end up with marks in the place where the hurt was. Those are called scars, and there are lots of people who have them. It's like the line that's over your eye that you've had since you were a little baby." He barely noticed how Mana had come back, taking the gauze that was set on the counter and being careful as he taped it in place so he wouldn't tape over the scab or his nephew's hair.
"Do yoo have scar Nee?" Nodding a little, he lightly traced two of his fingers over his outer thigh, practically able to see the white-pink line through the fabric of his pants.
"Yeah I have one, it's older than you are and there's a dumb reason behind it but I have one. You can't see it because it's right here on my leg, but it's there. It hurt and itched a lot when I first got it, but now it's not too bad, maybe a little itchy." Pointing along the line he knew was there, he felt the air being knocked out of his lungs as Allen practically threw himself at him, wrapping his mismatched arms around his neck to hug him.
"Lov yoo Nee." Smiling as he held the boy against his chest, he rubbed his nephew's back.
"I love you too Allen."
"Mana, please. I told the truth! Doesn't that count for something?" Holding his hands up as he backed away from his twin brother who held the electric razor, he nearly felt his heart stop as his back hit the wall. He could see his nephew standing by his piano, dressed in his pajamas and holding his blanket in one arm, watching Mana chase after him with the wireless hair cutting machine.
"The truth doesn't help the fact that you didn't stop him from continuing, let alone be the voice of reason against taking a three year old to a bar and letting him play poker. You could've at least waited till he was fourteen!" Backing himself further against the wall, he glanced over to where Cross and Tyki sat tied in kitchen chairs, both already missing half of their hair to the shears his brother held. Hearing the crinkling of the tarp that was laid out on the floor being shifted, he felt as his right leg was grabbed before the toddler ran to his other side.
"I told you, I only meant for him to watch originally. Have you seen his puppy dog eyes, Mana? I couldn't say no even if I tried." He honestly didn't regret much of what had happened, only that he didn't mention it all to Mana when he first found the toddler in his place.
"Mana, he kicked our asses in poker, in public, at three years old. Honestly you should be proud of the kid, he learned how to win after watching Nea lose a dozen times." Oh Tyki, you just had to phrase it like that. Allen please, please don't repeat that…
"Mana? Why mad at dem? Am in trouble too?" Hearing the soft voice, he watched as Tyki flinched in the chair, realizing that he said that with the child in the room. He relaxed a little as he watched his brother try getting eye to eye with the cowering child, stiffening back up as Allen squeezed his leg tighter. At least it wasn't his right leg.
"No I'm not mad at you, Allen, and you're not in trouble." He could see his brother was having a hard time trying to explain what was wrong with how they were found earlier. Barely glancing down as he heard Allen stomp his feet, he tried not to laugh at how defiant the toddler was. They definitely got the terrible twos late.
"Then why cut Nee hair? Why Iki hair?" Alright, this wasn't going to end if it wasn't explained. Grabbing the little arms that were around his leg, he moved to sit on the tarp while he held the boy in his lap. He slipped out of his vest and button up that Allen had returned to him briefly and tossed the articles across the room so hair wouldn't get caught in it.
"Because we didn't mention that we were taking you anywhere and it's usually not safe to bring little kids into those kinds of places. We were really lucky that everyone was a good sport when we were playing or something could have happened. Don't worry kiddo, your dad has done this to all of us before to some degree, I remember when he tied Tyki to the roof for smoking inside the house." Hearing his nephew start laughing, he felt the razor against the back of his head, able to feel as his brother shaved half of his head.
"Mana, can you just finish chopping off my hair? It'll be easier to explain to Sheril and I did just cuss in front of the kid." He had to keep still so Mana didn't shave his eyebrow off by accident again, but he really wanted to laugh.
"Wouldn't it be easier to just say I was getting back at you for taking Allen into a bar?"
"Do you really want to deal with Sheril? I was just going to say it was a bet." Full on laughing, he could barely see as some of his hair landed on Allen when his head went forward. It also looked like Mana cut a little too much off. Oh well, it was going to happen anyway. Helping pick all of his dark hair off the boy, he felt as Mana cut the last of it off before doing the same to Tyki.
"Do you want me to shave the rest off Marian?" Holding his sleepy nephew against his chest as he watched Mana ask the redhead the question, he watched as Tyki was untied.
"Nope, I'd like to keep my hair. I'm going to head home, I'll come by again eventually." Watching as the undoubtedly drunk man walked out the door once untied, he shook his head as he watched Mana start cleaning up, telling Tyki to take the tarp outside so the birds can have the hair.