*So, for those who have read my handful of stories, whether DGM-related or not, you know that I don't like to write AU's (others are really good at it but it's not my personal preference). I like to keep my fics within the same realm/time/space so that it tries to fit in with what's currently going on as much as possible, even if it's just a little window of time in between scenes from the manga or anime. But, I saw this fan art of chibi-Allen and chibi-Lenalee sitting together and it made me think of this little story. This doesn't happen in the actual DGM universe so please excuse the events that I'm going to make happen but I will try to keep it as faithful to the characters as possible. If you want to see the artwork that made take yet another detour from "Revelations," (yeah, it's the artist's fault! Lol) it's at:
Of course, replace the (dot) with actual dots. FF is such a Nazi about direct links!
Requisite Disclaimer: Allen Walker, Lenalee Lee, and all characters in the DGM Universe do not belong to me. I am merely borrowing them for a while to suit my purpose. If it wasn't clear before, I will reiterate that this is an Allen Walker X Lenalee Lee story.
Astley's Amphitheatre – Lambeth, London England – 10 years ago
"Where are we going, mother?"
"You'll soon see."
"But I want to know now…"
"Lenalee, your brother did a lot of planning for this all by himself so he could surprise you for your birthday so don't spoil it for him either. You'll be delighted, I promise!"
Taking his nose out of the scientific theory course book he had been reading during the carriage ride, he looked up just in time to see her pout. Komui smiled at his little sister. She certainly had the patience of a newly turned 6 year old, that was certain, but it wasn't every day that he and his sister were able to follow his parents on one of their business trips to England and celebrate her birthday as well. He wanted the occasion to be something she'd always remember.
He reached across and ruffled her hair, which was done up in pigtails.
"Nii-san! It's gonna get messy!" Lenalee exclaimed.
"Nothing could make you any less pretty than you already are, Lenalee-chan," he beamed.
Lenalee blushed and looked down. She was never quite sure how to take compliments, especially from him. Her brother saw pretty girls at his University all the time. She saw so many of them herself whenever her parents took her to visit him at school but he always told Lenalee that no one could compare to her. She often wondered if her brother should start wearing glasses like some of his friends did.
"Well, here we are, sweet girl! Happy birthday!" announced her mother, excitedly.
"Happy birthday, Lenalee-chan," said Komui, gently smiling, hoping for the best.
Lenalee looked outside the carriage window as it slowed down and was amazed at what filled her eyes and nose and ears. She had never seen so many bright colors mixing and matching in one place. Everywhere she looked were people dressed in outlandish and funny costumes, colored flags were being flown high, horses with beautiful decorations on their headdress and saddles were being escorted to a large building, and everywhere she looked were treats and toys! She could smell sweet, sugary things and hear different music being played.
"What is this place?" Lenalee asked slowly, in awe, as her eyes became the size of dish plates.
"It's the circus, Lenalee-chan," answered Komui, "I thought you'd like to see it while we're here in London. It's different from our Chinese acrobats so maybe you can compare them and tell me which you like better?"
"Nii-san, this is so great! Thank you!" she shouted as she threw herself into his arms.
Komui held her warmly. Since he had gone to University, he didn't see her nearly as much as he wanted to. He came home whenever possible during holidays or long breaks. But it still wasn't enough. Coming from an affluent family, he was able to request some time away from his classes as long as he studied during his travels and was back in time for testing. Having excelled in school since the day he enrolled in kindergarten, no one doubted Komui's abilities. So, when it came time for Lenalee's 6th birthday, he made sure to have at least a month to travel with her and his parents to London where his father had many partners in a thriving silk fabric trade.
Playfully giving one of her pigtails a tug to signal it was time to go, he held her hand and walked out of the carriage together with their mother who led the way.
"You did a sweet thing, my son," she said as she turned to him, gently cupping his face with both hands. "Your sister couldn't be happier."
"That's all I could ask for," he replied genuinely.
"What are thooooose?" interrupted Lenalee, gesturing to the pastry stand a few yards away.
"Ah, I believe those are custards and cakes. Do you want to try it?" asked Komui.
"All right, I am going back to your father's office," said their mother. "The meeting should be starting in an hour or so and I must be there to make sure the ledgers are drawn up correctly. Your father can sell stripes to a tiger but he cannot keep books for the life of him. Let's see, It's one o'clock now. I'll be back at six o'clock, is that enough time?"
"Yes, mother, byeeeeee!" was all Lenalee could say as she practically dragged her brother toward the pastry stand. Komui smiled and bowed to his mother before turning his full attention to Lenalee.
She fondly looked after her two children as Komui pointed to a dark brown confection that seemed like it was coated in some kind of frosting. She had tasted chocolate before but the flavor didn't sit well with her. Maybe Lenalee would like it more. As she watched her take in a bite, her mother turned and stepped back into the carriage with the help of the footman as the coachman readied the horses for departure. The last thing she heard before she sped away was the sound of Lenalee's high voice crying, "I want more, please!" She smiled and set her mind to the business ahead of her.
After only two hours, Komui was exhausted. Little did he know how curious his sister was as she asked about every little thing she espied. Whether it was the show horses, the clowns, the acrobats, the magicians, the balloons, the different foods, Lenalee had fifty questions about each of them. He chalked it up to inquisitiveness and thirst for knowledge that obviously ran in the family.
"Can we sit down for a little bit, Lenalee-chan? Your brother is tired from you being on his shoulders."
"But then I'm too small to see everything, nii-san."
"I know and I'm sorry but maybe if we rest just a little bit, you can get back up again, yes? I'm much older than you so I wear out more easily," explained Komui as he found the nearest bench to sit on.
"I'm sorry, nii-san. I don't want to make you work so hard."
Komui was always amazed by his little sister's thoughtfulness. She had all the traits that a princess should have. After all, she was certainly treated like one. But she also showed a great sense of consideration for others and was uncannily able to sympathize with those around her more than any child should. He knew that was one of the reasons why he wanted to always protect her; because someday, she would start to feel others' hurt as if they were her own and there would be no end to it then.
"Can I have six-pence?"
Komui was ever proud of his little sister, already well-traveled enough to convert the different currencies in her head. "What do you need?"
Komui handed her the coins and she ran off to the nearest beverage stand. It was a drizzly day in London, as it usually was anytime he visited here. But February was always chilly and wet. Still, there were many spectators and visitors to the amphitheatre this day. Phillip Astley ran one of the first and largest circuses in the greater London area so Komui made sure to choose this one. Performers and vendors from all over the country came to show their talents and their wares here.
"Here you go, nii-san!" said Lenalee as she held out a cup of steaming dark liquid.
"Coffee! How did you know, Lenalee-chan?"
"That's all you had when I visited you at school last time. You must like it a lot."
Komui kissed the top of Lenalee's head which caused her to blush furiously, her red cheeks and nose in stark contrast to the white stole and jacket she wore to keep out the cold.
"This is perfect, thank you."
Lenalee patiently waited for Komui to regain his energy but he seemed to be lounging and enjoying his coffee too much. She looked at the little house next to where they were sitting.
"Nii-san! Can I go in here while you rest? It says they do magic and juggling and tell funny stories inside! You can come get me when you're ready!"
Komui looked at the fun house. There was only one entrance and exit so he felt confident she'd not be able to go anywhere else without him seeing her.
"All right Lenalee-chan, I'll be right here so don't go anywhere until I come get you or just come out if you're done."
She smiled and stepped into the house. There was a small stage and chairs that sat 30 people inside. The show was already going on so she found a seat in the very front and watched the big clown juggle 3 colorful balls, then 4 balls, then 5 balls. She applauded each time a ball was added. What intrigued her was that the balls were coming from somewhere off stage from the side but she couldn't see anything behind the curtains covering the wings. Then a large bouncy ball that was half the size of the man came slowly rolling out; he sat atop it at first while juggling and then managed to bounce himself up to a standing position as he still kept the balls in the air. Lenalee burst out in applause. But her curiosity got the better of her and she left her seat to round the side of the stage.
She heard shuffling and boxes being opened and closed and when she finally got to the very side of the stage she lifted up the curtain flap quickly and sneaked inside before anyone could see where she had gone. When she turned, she was met with a pair of unblinking wide, grey eyes.
"Um…hello…" Lenalee said, tentatively, as she waved.
"Hello…" came the reply from the small brown-haired boy wearing a checkered coat. He had stopped mid-action at the intrusion.
"Sorry, I don't mean to bother you. I wanted to see where the things were coming from."
"Oh…yeah, I just help sometimes with the shows…" he stammered, as he scratched the back of his head.
"You work at the circus? How fun!" Lenalee exclaimed.
"Shhhh," the boy hushed.
"Oh, sorry…." said Lenalee immediately.
The boy began to throw other items such as a hat and cane and rings to the performer like clockwork, as if he could do it in his sleep. Lenalee thought he was about her age and yet he got to be outside of the house and work in an amazing place like this. She wanted to ask him a million things, if only he stopped for a minute.
There was applause from the small audience and then the performer began to play-act a story and everyone hushed to listen and watch. Lenalee was only interested in talking to the boy in front of her.
"Have you done this for a long time?"
"A few months," he replied sitting down during the lull in the show.
Lenalee sat down on top of a closed trunk next to him.
"Can you do those things, too?"
"A little, Mana is teaching me every day."
The boy pointed at the man onstage. He had so much make-up on she couldn't really tell what he actually looked like.
"Wow. Are you going to do this too when you get bigger?"
"I don't know. I just see what happens today and then the next day and the next day."
Lenalee thought about his words. Her days were planned months in advance by her parents so she couldn't fathom how this boy lived not knowing what tomorrow would bring. But there was also a certain sense of fun about it, too.
"Where are you from? I don't think I've seen anyone like you here before," inquired the boy before Lenalee could get in another question.
"I'm just here with my brother. We are visiting from China. Do you know where that is?"
"I think it's very far away."
Lenalee nodded. "It took us so many days to get here. But I'm glad. It's my birthday today and this was my present."
"Oh…happy birthday," said the boy, with a sad expression.
"When is your birthday?"
"I…it…just passed – on Christmas."
"Your birthday is on Christmas? Awww…I hope you still get presents for both," said Lenalee, smiling.
"Y-yeah…" he replied, looking down at his crossed legs.
"What happened to your hand?"
"Your hand, it's wrapped up. Did you hurt it?"
"Oh, yeah, just a little accident. It happens around here all the time. It's nothing."
The boy looked up to see if the girl was buying it but what he saw was a curious expression on her face. She looked so very sad but he didn't know why. Then she made as if to reach out for the very hand he wanted to hide.
"No!" he said more abruptly than he wanted, pulling away from her.
"Lenalee recoiled, almost as if she herself wasn't sure what was happening.
"No, it's nothing, you didn't do anything wrong. It still kind of hurts so I didn't want anything to happen to it, you know?" he quickly explained, hoping he didn't hurt her feelings.
There was another burst of applause from the audience and the boy got up on cue.
"I have to go now. The show is over but I have to help clean up the stage."
He didn't know why but he wanted her to not look sad anymore. He wanted her to smile and be happy as she was only moments before.
"Hey, happy birthday," he said softly, and he reached into the cuff of his covered left sleeve and pulled out a small bouquet of fake flowers. He learned that trick just a few days ago and he was glad that he kept them there if not for this very purpose of cheering her up.
Lenalee looked up and saw the flowers appear out of nowhere. She instantly lit up and her eyes widened. And her smile returned. The boy felt relieved.
"Thank you! That's so great! You're going to be even better than him someday!" she exclaimed, referring to the man taking a bow onstage. She graciously accepted the flowers from the boy and tried to smell them before realizing they weren't real. She smiled anyway.
"They don't smell like flowers but you do so that's okay, right?" he chuckled.
Lenalee thought about the plum blossom soap her mother had bought for her to use at home.
Well, it was nice meeting you," Allen began, feeling a bit reluctant to let go of her happy disposition on such a dreary day.
"You, too! Oh! When you're done cleaning up, do you want to come play with me and my brother? I don't think we have to leave for a couple of hours still."
"There's one more show for the day but…okay! I can come after the show and maybe walk around with you. I can show you all the secrets of the circus, too."
That made Lenalee's eyes shine and her smile broaden. "This is the best birthday, ever!"
The boy felt happier than he had in a long time. "There's a little park jut behind this building. It's called Brockwell Park. I can give you real flowers from the garden there if you'd like but you can't tell anybody."
"There's a big fountain on the edge of the park closest to the circus grounds. I can meet you there in an hour. Is that okay?"
"Yes…I will see you then!"
"Okay, miss…oh…I don't know your name," the boy chuckled. "My name is Allen," he continued as he offered his right hand.
"Oh! Where are my manners? My parents would be so mad that I didn't introduce myself!"
Lenalee began to formally bow, as all of her people did in greeting, repeating the lessons she had learned ever since she recalled having memories. "It is an honor. My name is…"
"Lenalee! Where are you?" came a loud shout from the front of the house.
Lenalee abruptly stood back up mid-bow and looked around the curtain.
"Lenalee! What are you doing back there? All the people already came out and when you didn't follow I came in and you weren't anywhere to be seen!"
"I'm sorry, nii-san! I was just looking at the props from the show," she said quickly.
"Well, come on, I'm ready for the next onslaught of questions on our tour," he said, his breathing becoming more even. He extended his hand for her to come and take it.
Lenalee quickly turned back behind the curtain, flustered.
"I'll see you at the fountain in the park, Allen…um…" she trailed off. "How old are you?"
"I am 5 years old. Why?"
"I'll see you at the fountain in the park, Allen-kun," she said brightly and gave him another full smile.
"Okay…" said Allen, smiling back. He couldn't remember the last time he smiled so much. It felt nice.
Lenalee leapt from the side of the stage and ran towards her brother, who swept her up in to his arms, as she giggled. She saw the tall man who had performed the show watching her leave and he smiled at her. She waved back.
"What are those, Lenalee-chan?" Komui asked when he saw the flowers in her hand.
"A boy who works here gave them to me for my birthday. Aren't they nice?" she answered as they walked outside. For a second, Lenalee saw her brother's expression change into something so frightening that she almost didn't recognize him as her brother anymore but it disappeared before she could blink.
"Yes, how very nice," replied Komui, in a strained voice. He had not anticipated for this to start so soon.
"Oh and the boy said he will meet us in an hour and will show us all the secrets of the circus since he works here. Won't that be great? Can we, please, please, please?"
When she strung the "pleases" together like that, he could hardly deny her. She knew that, of course. He supposed it was better that if some boy was going to hang around his little sister, he should be right there along with them.
"Of course, of course! That sounds like fun! Where do we find him later?" he asked, not letting the annoyance reach his voice.
"He said we should meet him in an hour at the fountain at the edge of Brockwell Park, near the garden," she recited. "It's right over there, he said," as she pointed to the nicely landscaped gardens over beyond the fun house.
"Your remembered all that, eh, Lenalee-chan?"
"Yes, I was listening to him, just like mother and father taught me to pay attention to the words people said," she replied, proudly.
"Well then, I guess we'll meet him over there at…" Komui said, reaching for his pocket watch, "five o'clock. But we still have some time before then so let's go see if there's a cute toy you want your brother to win for you."
Komui lifted Lenalee up onto his shoulders and headed for the games tent where he would try his luck at winning her a prize.
By the time five o'clock rolled around, Lenalee was holding a stuffed doll under each arm and Komui was holding a third. He beamed triumphantly at his success. It certainly cost him quite a bit with as many attempts as he needed but that didn't matter. What mattered was that his little sister was going home with prizes he won for her.
"Is it almost time to go to the park, nii-san?"
"Yes, we have a few minutes but there's nothing wrong with being a little early."
They headed out to the main thoroughfare and made their way towards the park; Lenalee still astride Komui's shoulders and laughing at the funny animal noises he made as he bounced her.
As they neared the garden and the fountain, a man suddenly grabbed Komui by the arm, swinging him around so hard that Lenalee lost her grip on one of her dolls. Before she could protest, Komui rounded on the man who grabbed him. But she recognized him, too.
"Shen! What is the matter with you? I almost dropped Lenalee-chan!" he screeched at the footman.
"Sir, I have been looking for you for some time. You must hurry back with us in the carriage!"
"But we were to be picked up at six o'clock. Is something the matter?" he finally said as his voice dropped into a lower, serious octave. Lenalee was still mourning her dropped doll.
"Yes, something terrible has happened with your parents. You MUST come immediately! I will tell you everything in the carriage! Please, sir!"
Komui took off after Shen immediately, needing no further explanation for him to move. He hauled Lenalee off of his shoulders and carried her in his arms all the way back to where the carriage had originally dropped them off earlier in the day.
"Nii-san…where are we going…we have to meet Allen-kun at the fountain. I promised him…"
"We can't right now, Lenalee…please trust me, this is more important!" he said sternly.
As young as Lenalee was, she recognized that there was a time to argue and a time to listen. This was a time to listen. She could tell in her brother's voice that he would broker no deal and his face looked more serious than she had ever seen it. He had even dropped the –chan endearment off of her name. As she watched the garden and the fountain get farther and farther away behind them, she saw her doll lying face down on the ground where they had just stood. But she could only think of one thing.
I'm sorry, Allen-kun. I guess I can't play with you today.
They hurriedly boarded the carriage and listened as Shen recounted what had happened just a short while ago back in London. Lenalee didn't fully understand what was happening but her brother began to cry and so she did also. Something about the neighborhood where her parents were being attacked by…okumas, akumas? She had never heard that word before and didn't know what it meant.
Komui grabbed her hands and looked at her with such pain in his eyes it made her heart ache.
"Lenalee…we won't be able to see mother and father anymore…"
"I don't understand, nii-san. We just saw mother a few hours ago and father this morning before he left for work."
"I know, sweet girl. But they were…something happened to them. They're gone…"
Lenalee felt dizzy. She listened to what her brother was saying as she always tried to carefully listen to anyone who spoke to her. But he wasn't making sense. They were just jumbled words that didn't belong together. Mother, father, gone, won't see them, something happened…
She wanted to scream but she began to shake her head furiously instead. Already dizzied, she only made herself even more light-headed. The last thing she remembered was darkness overcoming her like a shroud, tiny twinkling starbursts in her field of black, and falling into her brothers arms.
The boy waited at the fountain until sundown but she never came. The only thing that met him there was a dirtied rag-doll lying face-down on the ground. It had been trampled and muddied but it was still in decent condition. When he picked it up, he caught a familiar flowery scent coming from the doll's garments. It was what made him keep it.
TO BE CONTINUED in PART 2
A/N – Astley's Amphitheatre was an actual circus that did exist (I think still does) and so does Brockwell Park, which are both in Lambeth, London UK. I had to fudge some things to make it work in the time period but for the most part, I based it on actual historical places. I think this story will be no longer than a 3-parter. Please review if you can.