Author's Note: Oh hay, I live! Woo! Just a silly little one shot piece I did for Baccano!, about the two silliest characters. Baccano!, and the many, many characters involved do not belong to me, and I make no money off of this.
Though if you want to join the fandom, I would not be at all sad.
Most people ignored the boy who wandered around town. He wasn't quite right in the head, and didn't always make much sense. Either he was speaking in a grandiose manner that left most people confused, or he rambled about complete nonsense. Those who had known the boy's parents sighed and said it was only to be expected.
His father had owned a small farm, but spent more time making his own hooch out in the barn than actually tending to the chores. The boy had done most of the work around the farm until his parents passed away; he was enormously strong for a boy his age and amiable enough. He didn't mind the work. His mother had always been a little funny and sometimes told strange stories, but most people laid that up to the fact that she was Irish and ignored it.
Some blamed the boy's strangeness on his parents, others blamed it on the nasty case of lead poisoning he'd suffered as a child. Either way, he was strange and only his size saved him from the local bullies. At least, it did until it became common knowledge that he wouldn't fight back. One of the few religious ideas that his mother had gotten to stick was that hurting people was a sin, and he took that literally, even in the case of self-defense. But he didn't seem to mind very much, just getting up and acting like nothing had happened when his assailants were pulled off. It became just one more reason to try to ignore the boy.
The girl lived in the same town, and was also considered a little soft in the head. Her grandfather didn't see much point in formal schooling, and the local teachers had given her up as a lost cause some time ago. She wasn't stupid, but she had trouble concentrating on any one thing for more than a few minutes, forgot things easily, and was abnormally excitable. Just about everyone was of the opinion that though she was a sweet girl, it just wasn't worth the frustration of dealing with her.
Her mother had died when she was a baby, and she had lived with her grandfather ever since her father had gone off to France to fight in the Great War. He was a crotchety old man who had little in common with his young granddaughter. Mostly, she was left to her own devices. She was a very social creature, but her excitability meant that there few who would keep her company.
The boy had noticed the girl around town but had never approached her because he was usually caught up in his distorted reality and didn't want to bother people who didn't understand him. The girl had noticed the boy around town but had never approached *him* because every time she meant to, she was either distracted by something else and forgot until much later or was too hyper to try to make a friend. It probably would have gone on like that for the rest of their lives if it hadn't been for the letter from Ypres.
The girl had meant to hide from everyone, so that they wouldn't see her crying and worry about her. There was a tiny alley cutting through town that hardly anyone ventured into, and it was a perfect place to sit and cry, at least until she forgot what was upsetting her. She didn't know that the boy liked the same alley because it was quiet and he could sit and marvel at the things he saw. She didn't realize he was there until he suddenly squatted down in front of her, looking distressed. "You shouldn't cry," he said awkwardly. "It doesn't fit."
She sniffled and looked puzzled. The statement had been so unexpected that it distracted her. "What do you mean?" she asked quietly.
He waved his hands uncertainly as he tried to explain what he meant. "Someone being sad doesn't fit. The world is so beautiful, and there are no monsters here. So you shouldn't cry."
She blinked at him, her problem forgotten for the moment. "Monsters? Are there really such things?"
He nodded emphatically. "Yes. Monsters like to hide in cupboards and jump on people." He sounded completely sure of himself.
Anyone else would have quickly found an excuse to be somewhere else, but the girl just looked at him in awe. "Really? How do you know when a cupboard has a monster in it?"
"That's easy, you listen very carefully. If you hear singing, you know it's a monster." The boy sat down next to her, and she happily moved over to make more room for him. The letter she had been crying over lay forgotten in her lap.
"Monsters sing?" Her big brown eyes widened in amazement. "I never knew that."
The boy nodded. "They sing very quietly so that they don't get caught. When someone opens the cupboard, they jump out and grab on to them. That's what makes people sad."
"Oooooh..." The girl was astonished. He was so smart! Then she happened to glance at the letter, and it reminded her all over again. She screwed her face up unhappily, but didn't start crying again. "I think a monster got my daddy, and that's why he can't come home any more."
He took the letter and quickly read through it. "Nonsense. A monster didn't get him, it says so right here. I'm sure this means that he found Shangri-La."
Again his odd train of thought distracted her. "Shangri-La? What is that?"
"It's a magic place very far away where everyone is happy and you can eat toffee for every meal if you want to. It's very hard to find, and if you leave you can't ever find your way back. So you see, since he found Shangri-La, he doesn't want to lose it."
She smiled timidly. "You mean, he's not coming home again because if he leaves Shangri-La, he can't ever go back?"
The boy nodded, grinning. "It's just as you say. And he sent you that letter so that you know where to go when you grow up." He nodded, satisfied with that explanation, and folded the letter back up. Then he handed it back to the girl.
"Oooooh... I'm glad I met you, you're so smart! I never would have figured that out." The girl clapped her hands happily. "I thought it was something bad. Thank you for telling me about Shangri-La."
The boy puffed out his chest proudly. "I'm glad to help. And don't worry about not figuring it out. Since Shangri-La is so secret, the message is very hard to understand properly."
She nodded. "That explains it." Then she glanced at him sideways shyly. "When I grow up and go to Shangri-La to see Daddy, will you come with me?"
He almost fell off his seat. "You want me to come to Shangri-La with you?" He was astonished. No one thought he was good for much, but she wanted him to do something that important?
She nodded decisively. "Yes. You're my very first friend and I would be lonely without you." She gave him a blinding smile. "I'm Miria Harvent."
He matched her smile. "And I would be lonely if I stayed here without you. I'm Isaac Dian."
Miria clapped her hands again. "We're meant to be best friends, I just know it!" Something occurred to her. "Oh! We should tell Grandpapa about Shangri-La so that he doesn't think a monster got Daddy! Come on!" She grabbed Isaac's hand and ran towards her house, laughing and pulling him along. When they got there, he stood awkwardly in the front hall while she found her grandfather and dragged him out of the kitchen to meet her new friend. "And Isaac said that Daddy found Shangri-La, and that's why he isn't coming home again. So when we grow up, we're going to go find it too and I wanted you to know so that you don't think there was a monster," she said rapidly.
Her grandfather looked at the big, awkward boy who most people said was at least a little funny. "I want to see the letter." Miria handed it over happily, chattering about Shangri-La and how smart Isaac was and could he please stay for supper? Her grandfather read the letter silently, then raised an eyebrow at Isaac. "Miria, you go wash up for supper now." She nodded, hugged both him and Isaac hard enough that lesser folk would have been left with bruises, then darted upstairs. For a moment, everything was quiet. Then Miria's grandfather fixed Isaac with a hard stare. "Why you filling my girl's head with such silliness, boy?"
Isaac just looked confused. "Silliness? I don't understand, Miria's grandpa."
Her grandfather shook the letter. "This Shangri-La business. You may be half-way out into the great wide nowhere, but I know you ain't as much a fool as you act. So why you telling her this ridiculous tale about Shangri-La?"
"Because it makes her happy," came the somewhat bewildered reply.
Isaac took to sleeping on Miria's front porch so that they'd be close even at night, and finally her grandfather relented and let Isaac have the spare room next to Miria's bedroom. The two of them were inseparable after that, and they soon stopped being "that Dian boy, the one who's not right in the head" and "that half-witted Harvent girl." Rather, they became "those two odd ones," which suited them fine. One was never seen without the other, and they became a common sight. Most of the townsfolk held that like was calling to like, and that they had been made for each other. They were more right than they realized.
Something peculiar happened between the two of them. Miria's constant presence kept Isaac mostly anchored in the real world, and he stopped getting so confused as to what was actual and what was something he'd read in one of his books or a particular fancy of his. At the same time, Isaac's wonderful stories could hold Miria's focus and helped her concentrate on other things, and she stopped forgetting things as much.
They also picked up each other's quirks: Isaac developed the same sort of energy as Miria had, while she copied his joy at living. They both took hold of the same cheerful, out-going, friendly personality. After a year or two, they even began to act exactly the same way and say the same things at the same time. It was like they'd rehearsed every move that they made, but near as any one could tell, they just did it naturally.
Miria's grandfather caught pneumonia one winter when they were mostly grown, and the doctor didn't hold out much hope of recovery. He was used to family members, particularly affectionate granddaughters, having hysterics when he explained situations like that, and was thus very confused when Isaac and Miria just grinned at him.
"Miria's grandpa is going to go to the moon," Isaac explained happily.
"To the moon!" Miria echoed. "He'll like it on the moon."
The doctor just blinked at them. "The... moon?"
Isaac nodded like it should be obvious. "Good people go to heaven, right, Miria~?"
Miria agreed. "Good people do go to heaven, Isaac~."
"And heaven is in the sky, right, Miria~?"
"Heaven is most definitely in the sky, Isaac~."
"And the moon is the prettiest thing in the sky, right, Miria~?"
"The very prettiest thing in the sky, Isaac~."
"Miria's grandpa is good, so he is going to heaven, and heaven is on the moon, right, Miria~?"
She clapped her hands. "Ah, you're so smart, Isaac~!" She turned to the doctor. "So why should we be sad? I wish I could go to the moon too."
Isaac bowed gallantly. "Someday, I'll take you to the moon, Miria~!"
"You would do that for me, Isaac~?" She was ecstatic, and took his hand. No one was sure who'd taught either of them how to dance, but they tended to do so at odd times, and they did it now. The doctor discovered he really had to be elsewhere and left as soon as he could.
Miria's grandfather, meanwhile, had heard the whole exchange from his bedroom, and shook his head. "Boy, you come here."
Isaac obediently stuck his head in the room, followed almost immediately by Miria. "Yes, Miria's grandpa?"
"Did you need something, Grandpapa?"
The old man rolled his eyes. "Miria, you go start making supper, the boy'll be down to help you in a minute. I need to talk to him."
The girl pouted, but did as she was told. "Don't leave me alone too long, Isaac~. I'll get lonely."
"I won't, Miria~. I'll talk very fast."
"You'll do no such thing," her grandfather snapped as soon as Miria was safely down the stairs. "I guess you know that it ain't gonna be too much longer before the two of you are alone in the world."
Isaac nodded politely. "You're going to the moon."
After a few years of experience with Isaac, Miria's grandfather knew when it was better just to ignore some of the things he said. "I won't lie, many's the time I thought about getting that lovely nitwit safely married off to some prosperous fellow. But she'd be miserable if I made her split up from you, and you treat her right, so I'll let things be. I ain't got much to leave Miria, but I figure you'll be all right. You got a strong back and you ain't scared of work."
"Why would anyone be scared of that?" Isaac wondered. "It's the leprechauns you have to watch out for."
Again the old man ignored the comment. "I don't know as you'll be welcome in this town once I go. I know how you two are gonna act when I do and that most people won't understand. I ain't gonna tell you where to go, it's high time you made your own decisions. But you promise me one thing, Isaac Dian."
Isaac straightened up and focused all his attention on Miria's grandfather. Promises were important, you couldn't break a promise. There was a kind of magic involved. And he couldn't deny Miria's grandpa anything, because he was Miria's grandpa. "Yes, sir?"
"First time you ever called me that," the old man muttered. Then he met Isaac's gaze. "You promise me that you're gonna take care of my little Miria."
Isaac just looked at the old man like he was insane. "Of course I will," he said, wondering why he'd bothered to say something so completely obvious.
Miria's grandfather passed away a few days after that conversation. At the funeral, neither Isaac nor Miria could understand why everyone seemed sad, and tried to explain about the moon, but they gave up when it became clear that they were the only ones who understood how it worked.
Miria inherited the house, but less than a week later, the local banker offered her what seemed like a lot of money for it, and she decided to ask Isaac for his advice. "Isaac, the man at the bank wants to give me a lot of money for Grandpapa's house," she said, showing him the amount.
"That is a lot of money, Miria~."
"But he says if he gives me that much money for Grandpapa's house, you and I will have to leave, Isaac~."
"But then we won't have a place to live, Miria~."
"I know. But that is a lot of money, Isaac~. What should I do?"
He examined the paper thoughtfully for a moment. "If we don't have a place to live, then there's nothing to stop us from traveling the world, Miria~."
"You mean we could go anywhere we wanted without having to worry about being home in time for supper, Isaac~?"
"It's just as you say, Miria~! We can have adventures! We can go anywhere we want! We can even go to Seattle, Miria~!"
"But doesn't it take a lot of money to travel the world, and even more to go to Seattle, Isaac~?"
"The man from the bank wants to give us a lot of money, Miria~!"
Mira signed the paper the banker had given her, convinced. "He does want to give us a lot of money. But do we do if it's not enough, Isaac~?"
Isaac stopped and thought for a moment. "I know! We will become thieves, Miria~!"
Her eyes widened at the thought of becoming something so glamorous. "But isn't stealing bad, Isaac~?"
"It could be, a little," he admitted. "But every adventurer has to steal something, it's in the rules. And we don't want to do something that important only halfway, do we, Miria~?"
"No, we don't want to only do it halfway if it's in the rules, Isaac~." She clapped her hands, glad that Isaac was around to ease her doubts. "What else is in the rules, Isaac~?"
"Well, we'll have to get disguises. You can't be a thief without a disguise, Miria~!"
"That's true, you have to have a disguise, Isaac~." She nodded solemnly, and the two of them stayed up late talking about their future careers and disguises and the things they would see as they traveled the world.
They only had a few belongings that they wanted to take with them, and the day after Miria had sold the house, they waltzed out of town and into the world to start their adventure.
And thus started the story of the strangest pair of robbers ever to grace the streets of the earth. Isaac's view of reality was still and would always be slightly off, but not so much he couldn't get along, and Miria was perfectly content to live in his world even if everyone else said it wasn't really real. His mildly skewed world-view insulated and protected them both from the much harsher reality that the rest of the world lived in. It was probably the only thing that let them keep their innocence intact and go on thinking the world was a wonderful place. They would even manage to convince other, much more cynical people of the same thing as time went on.