Everything was white.
SF-A2 miki had never encountered the color white very often. The first time she had discovered the color white was when she became an astronaut. The men there were all dressed in white, and had told her that the color white was what most stars were. If somebody saw them wearing white, they would instantly know they were of the stars. She knew this herself; her older brother had told her. She just never thought she'd ever see a person of the stars in her lifetime—let alone become one.
Being a person of the stars was pretty good. miki had always looked at the good in things, and never the bad. When you looked at the bad in things, nothing good would ever come to you, because you would never see them. However, if you looked at the good in things, bad things would still happen to you, but you would never be bothered by them. It was hard, being an optimist. That was what Len called her—an optimist. When she asked him what the word meant, she learned it basically meant 'someone who thinks positively'. She didn't know what 'positively' meant either. So she asked him.
Conversations with Len could be like that sometimes; he'd call her something or tell her about something, and she would have no idea what he was talking about. He'd have to explain things to her often, but only once. Once she learned it, she would soak it up and remember it for years to come. Like how she remembered being told by her brother that people that wore white were people of the stars, and how her mother had once bestowed (she learned that word from Len; it meant 'entrusted') upon her the 'woman of the family' badge. This was now sitting on her chest, in all of its star-shaped glory.
Of course, now she wanted to give it back. After all, she couldn't be the woman of the family if she was all the way here. On Earth. Not her planet, whose name, to the chagrin (dislike) of her friends, she never revealed (told). She had been specifically told by the leader of the white-people that she should never reveal the name of her planet to any creature, big or small. Doing so would lead to the government (she didn't know what that word meant—she should ask Len) leading an attack or expedition to her planet and poking her open. She didn't like the sound of being poked open. It made her sick.
She just stood there and stares at the white all around her. It was pretty, she knew that. She could tell it was cold, but she didn't mind. Her markings on her arm protected her from natural elements, as was its job. Len had told her that it was probably an effect of 'evolution'—the changing of a creature's shape or form (weren't those the same thing?) to better fit the 'environment'. Environment was what was around her. miki thought about this, but only for a moment. She changed in shape, yes, but how was it that the rest of her family—and others outside her family—had the exact same markings? If she was the creature that changed, then why were there so many others that had the same thing? It made her shoulders hurt.
miki lifted up her arm and pressed the star on her chest. It didn't take long for her fuzz on her shoulders and ears merge together and turn into a hat. After being on Earth, she became especially thankful for this ability her woman-of-the-family-badge had. Other Vocaloids and Humans had to go inside, grab things from rooms, put them on, and then go out. Only to have to take them all off again after being outside for a while. Well, in the snow at least. When it was hot outside they had to take off some of their clothes to go outside, and usually decided to put clothes on when they got inside, because it was a lot colder in there. miki wondered for a moment how they could keep it cold inside but warm outside, but she stopped—she already knew the answer. She could just ask Len. He always knew the answer to her questions, even if he did make his mouth pull down sometimes. miki had tried time and again to pull her mouth down like he did, but all she could manage was pulling it up. She got close one time when she pulled her chin up and kept the edges of her mouth down, but that didn't really seem right.
Maybe she could practice here! No one was around right now—it was 5:30 in the morning when she went out—and she probably wouldn't get the chance to practice it without anyone thinking she was sick or something. So she tried to pull her face down, starting with the bottom of her cheeks and puckering her lower lip. She felt around her face to see if she was pulling her face down like Len. Nope, it was just a thin line. Maybe if she opened her mouth it would work better? No, that wasn't the way Len did it. If she was going to do it, she would have to do it like Len did. Maybe she would do better if she knew what it was cal—
One of the doors opened. miki turned her head fast, trying to pinpoint which Vocaloid House opened. She was pretty thankful for the big space the Vocaloid Maker People had for them to live in. Some were bigger than others, but they were all very cozy and very nice to stay in. Some of the Vocaloids had to move into other houses to stay in, since the people of other Houses sometimes kicked them out. The only two she had known to have been kicked out were Sonika and Luka, though it was Sonika who had to move into her own house to live in—there were a lot of empty houses in this little village. Luka lived inside the Internet House, where Gakupo and Gumi lived. Luka used to live in the Crypton House, which so far was the biggest House in the Japloid section. It housed five of the most famous Japloids—Meiko, the mother, Kaito, the father, Miku, the 'Mary-Sue' (She had asked Len what that was, but he was insulted that she had spoken of his 'older sister' like that, and then stormed off. She had come to assume it meant something along the lines of 'older sister').
Then there were Rin and Len, the twins. miki had never seen twins before, so she spent the most time with them—even though she sang more songs with Gumi, Luka, and Miku. Gumi was nice—though sometimes she didn't know if she was awake or asleep. A lot of times, she would just stare off into space and pull her face upwards a lot. miki had tried that as well, and found it much easier to do—she had mastered it almost immediately. Luka, however, pulled her face downwards more often than upwards, and encouraged miki to learn how to pull her face downwards like that. Though Luka didn't seem to like her very much… she didn't know why, she just didn't.
Miku liked her though… maybe. Miku seemed to be very different each time she met her—sometimes she was mean, sometimes she was sweet, sometimes she acted a lot like Gumi, and even other times she acted 'cryptically'. Luka had told her the word, but didn't teach her what it meant. But she had kept it in her brain since she heard it (yesterday), and had planned on asking Len what it meant the next time she saw him. Which happened to be right now.
Miki was on the other side of the street, the one that was currently sparsely filled with houses—the only one that had residents inside it were her house (though it was empty at the moment, since she was outside) and the Boarding House. That was where Kiyoteru and Yuki lived, who by the way were her first and best friends she had ever made on Earth. On the other side of the street were the Crypton House and the Internet House, the only houses that were filled. The Internet house was kinda 'traditional', as Gakupo put it. She didn't know what that word meant either, but she knew the house had a lot of sliding doors and paper walls, which she didn't understand.
Then there was the Crypton house, which currently had someone coming out of it. For a second she didn't know who it was, but then she noticed his yellow ponytail, and knew exactly who he was. Len. He had a bright red-and-yellow jacket on and a brown fuzzy cap on his head, kinda like the one she was wearing; only it wasn't square. She wore longer pants than usual, but still had his white headphones. When she first saw them she immediately thought he was a person of the stars too, but knew he wasn't. He was from Earth. Here on Earth, the color white meant something completely different.
He stood at the porch for a moment, making sure about something at the door. She didn't know, she was too far away. But not too far—he was only about two houses to her left, and on the other side of the road, so she could see him pretty well. When he turned around, she saw that a lot of his face had turned red. She didn't know how that happened—wasn't his skin supposed to turn white in the cold, like hers did? But she didn't care at the moment.
"Len!" She called out. He turned over to her, and she lifted her arm up and moved her hand a bit. She had learned quite a while ago that this meant 'come' for people who spoke Japanese, and Japloids. When she was trying to get someone who spoke English or an Engloid, she took a clue from Sonika and waved her arm 'frantically'(Len told her that it meant 'really fast), jumping up and down a little bit. It was definitely going to get someone to come over, though sometimes they asked her what she was doing. But she didn't need to do that with Len—she just lifted her arm, and he practically jumped off his porch and ran over to her.
"miki! What are you doing out here?"
"What does 'cryptically' mean?"
"What. Does. cryp-ti-ca-lly. Mean?"
Len stopped for a moment, staring up at her. Miki was amazed by how short humans and Vocaloids were. Even Big Al, who was the tallest Vocaloid by far, was still a few inches shorter than she was. This was very strange for her, since she was used to being one of the shortest in her family. Len was only about half her size, and Rin was shorter than Len by a bit as well. Len always complained that he was short for his age, and miki sometimes worried that he wouldn't talk to her because she was taller than he was. But that wasn't really the case—when it came to them and their 'relationship' (the interaction between two or more people), height didn't mean anything.
"Cryptically means secret or hidden in some way."
"Ohh. So that's what Luka meant…"
"She was the one who taught me the word."
"Why'd she use it?"
miki hesitated. Len had already exploded on her once for calling Miku a 'Mary-Sue', how would he react when he learned that Luka had called her 'cryptically'?
"Promise me you won't get mad?"
"What? Why? Who did she say it about? Rin? Gakupo? Me!?"
"You're getting mad…!"
"Mad!? OF COURSE I'M GETTING MAD! I mean—how can Luka go around and avidly insult people like that!?"
"Cryptically is an insult?"
Len stopped. He had been stomping around and waving his arms around a little, which was a very different thing from what she had grown used to—she had seen Japloids move very little, the major movement happening more with Engloids. If the way the two called for each other was so different was any indication, the Engloids and Japloids were different as night and day when it came to movement. miki was somewhere in the middle. Len stood up straight and looked at her with a strange look on his face.
"Where did you learn that word?"
"Who was she describing?"
"You're going to get mad."
Len took in a very deep breath, something that he didn't need, but did so anyway. It was probably a way to calm himself down, though she didn't know how that worked. When she wanted to calm down, she just stared at something.
"I won't get mad." Len kinda hissed. miki was getting kind of scared, and had to stop really soon. She had learned time and again that if she became scared, whatever she was scared of was more likely to attack, to make itself feel stronger that it actually was. Because it was scared too. All those times spent hunting with her older brother had taught her that, when she was scared of something, all she had to do was stare at its face and take in all of its details, trying to find out what it was feeling. So she did.
Len had his eyebrows pointing down a bit, but not too much. His face was solid, and his eyes were a little squinted, enough to make him look serious. His mouth as pointing downwards a little too. Just like she had seen him and others do so much. Why couldn't she do something like that? Was that some sort of special thing the humans could do and she couldn't? Was it some kind of secret message that they could send to other humans? Why could the other Vocaloids do it, but not her? She wanted to do it too! She was a Vocaloid!
She quickly decided that staring at a human face did not calm her down.
"How do you do that?"
"How do you pull your mouth down like that?" Len's face softened a bit, but he raised his eyebrows a bit more and widened his eyes, his lower face loosened up a bit. He blinked a few times, and then shifted his weight a little bit to get a little closer to her.
"You mean… frown?"
"Is that what you call it?"
"Then yes. How do you frown?" Len blinked again, and relaxed his shoulders a little. He seemed completely perplexed (another word she learned from him) at her question, though this was probably the first time. Usually if he asked 'what' it was because he didn't hear her correctly and wanted to make sure he was answering her question properly. Usually he just answered her and looked at her, lifting his mouth up like Gumi and Miku and all of the others. miki felt like doing that right now, though she couldn't explain why. For some reason, looking at Len made her want to smile…
"Well, it's kinda… hard to explain. Besides, you probably wouldn't want to frown very much. It's not like you."
"Why?" miki was sincerely curious this time. Frowning wouldn't suit her? What did that mean? Was it something out of character for her? Len seemed embarrassed, and started rubbing the back of his neck and staring downward, obviously uncomfortable in this situation. Or was he just thinking, trying to find the best way to explain it? miki never knew when it came to Len—he was just one big ball of new-ness to her. She had never encountered anything with Len at any point before. She certainly never got worse when she stared at something other than Len. She always felt better when she stared at something, especially something she liked. She liked Len. So why did she get angry instead of happy?
"Well, when a human frowns, it means that they're angry, or sad, or something along those lines. But… well…" miki did not respond, waiting for him to finish his sentence. A lot of people never really listened to him—they just went and made him into things instead of actually asking him whether he actually wanted to do it or not. If someone wanted to make him 'shota', he was 'shota', even after he explicitly (forward and directly) stated that he was not. miki tried to be the opposite—she wanted to be on Len's good side. He needed a few friends that accepted him for who he was, and not for what they wanted him to be. Once again, miki felt like lifting her mouth up the way Gumi and Miku always did.
"See! That's the thing!"
"You fit a smile better than a frown, miki." Len lifted his own mouth up, a lot. It was very wide, almost splitting his lower face from his upper. miki was at a loss as to the size of it—not even Gumi split her face like that! miki wasn't sure why his was so wide, but for some reason it made her feel… good. Happy. She liked being happy. And for once… miki actually figured out what a 'smile' was without having to ask a question.
She smiled back her own, equally wide smile.