The Mistress

March 18th 1888

For the most of Len's side of the week, his take on life was pretty obsolete compared to the days prior. What was he again before he suddenly — so suddenly even he didn't expect it — became an errand boy of Rin Langley?

Oh yes, he was the world's most elusive thief who's looking for a job. He applied as Rin's personal bandit. Or something like that. His vocation had since been shrunken to a mere lord's daughter's servant. To think that he — Len, the master of the streets, the king of thieves who was so exceptional in the norm he even put Aladdin to shame — would eventually be put on a hiatus of stealing.

How . . . nice.


He lost track of days as moons waned and suns rose, and he had only been nothing short of surprised when he learned from one of Rin's maids that it had already been a week since he'd checked the calendar and had taken Rin home, the latter being sick from staying up so late in the night. It wasn't much of a celebration — it never was — but he'd just been glad he had the chance to take the week off after the whole fiasco, after all the murder cases, after all the death scenes, and the blood — ugh. His joy had only been short-lived, however, for it had been distinguished like a fire put out from a flame in the form of Rin's coughing fit, which drew him from getting out of her doors and immediately rushing to her aid. And then that became a trip to the town to fetch her medicine, and then that delay became his "let's play doctor!" moment, until he had surrendered his break to take care of his ill Mistress. All-in-all it was a very busy week for Len.

Nice, right?

Len had to confess to none but himself though, that he'd much rather be in that cosy mansion than in the streets bed-less — until he waited for the right moment to steal a couch or a bed from a nearby house — and homeless like an emancipated hobo. Scary how his options both had a downside — the one he chose being taking care of a more-finicky-than-usual Rin — but, well — can someone just shoot him? Now?

It'd be such a waste of face — especially one such beautiful as his, which probably'd take another millennium to serendipitously make a baby with that devilish appearance again — if you could, but really. He'd most likely choose to die this moment. It'd be equally okay if Rin would for him —

"Len! I'm done reading this one!"

Ah, speak of the devil.

He wasn't one to complain — yet there's always a 'but' behind all this, and that's how Len was unexpectedly afraid for her.

It wasn't exactly 'caring' for her in some terms, but it's close enough. He fretted for her well-being, what would happen to her, what could possibly do this to her.

He knew she liked reading — it's the only thing she ever admits not getting bored of — but not completely enjoying either — honestly, that woman . . . — so he randomly loaded a few piles of books from the library to get her something to keep her awake. Why'd he want her awake? To make sure she isn't dead, of course. However, so far, after going through seven of the stacked-up piles, tossing some books into the far corner of the room and snatching one of the fresher ones, she claimed to have already read most of them, and that they were so tedious to read over again.

This girl was so unpredictable. Len tried to keep track of the times of the day when she'd throw one of her arbitrary mood swings and sought to several things to calm her down and, as of now, he found out that the only way yet to soothe her was a dessert of oranges.

He sighed. "It's a classic tale, Milady. You should reconsider."

Undeniably Rin should. Could you believe how much time Len's spent sweating in the hot library trying to find books without stuff he thought Rin didn't value as proper for herself?

Rin pouted. She looked up and down from Len's face and to the book that lay on her lap. She was sitting leisurely on her mattress, the bed posts supporting the large roof of her extraordinary bed. For the most of her sick days, she hasn't left the bed unless she needed to go to the bathroom or demand the nosy servants out of the room, flustered because Len was spoon-feeding her and she had nothing else to do but open her mouth stubbornly, which was indeed a most pathetic position to find the one you're working for in. Her limbs were still throbbing from so much dancing, something she's so not used to doing yet something she's also done all night the week before, and it left her powerless and weak and just plain — Len couldn't put his finger on it — vulnerable.

It sounded . . . weird, in a way, to put it like that. Rin being vulnerable. Yes, it had a ring to it, and it's very easy to imagine, what with her minuteness and all, yet bizarre at the same time. Almost like picturing a baby swearing.

The corners of her mouth drawn from biting her lip, Rin said instead, facing Len directly now, looking as though she's firm of her statement, "One of those Grimm Brothers fairy tales would fare well."

Grimm Brothers?

Len raised his eyebrows. "But they're morbid."

Exactly, whispered a nagging thought in Len's mind that he believed shouldn't even belong there. Isn't Rin just the type of person to read that?

Rin dismissed any of Len's doubts with a hand gesture. "Better than any of these that I'd read."

A few weeks ago we observed a young clumsy man stagger in awe and incredulity at the odd and fickle behaviour of this girl before him now — they had had their misunderstandings and their first impressions, and Len had never once been wrong about someone before: His suspicions of Rin proved to be true when he spent some time with her, however so short. It wouldn't need someone forever — especially not Len — to extract the potential out of someone. He'd maintained quite a low profile on the streets — and no one even knew him by face, or if they did they usually mistake him for a flower boy — he never understood why — or forgot about him just as easily — his presence and existence were not acknowledged, and him not being in bad terms — not exactly good enough terms — with his Mistress didn't do much in helping it. He'd been better off this way.

Now he's just "adapted" to living a life indebted to this young girl. And every — if any he'd encountered once or twice so long as he kept a record — mannerisms or bearings Rin had wanted him to understand in her bizarre depths, he did his best to get used to.

He'd know what's different with her face. If something was out of place there, he'd know because every expression she makes is implanted in his mind. Her face wasn't anything to forget.

Rin's face was full of pretence and could already manipulate you: Obviously the owner of that appearance had mastered all of its advantages and may have not disregarded the downsides of it, but had warped its weaknesses into reliance. Her pale face was using such expressions that resemble an irritated detective's who's trying to solve a mystery. Maybe that's what she really was underneath, too, maybe it wasn't: Len believed the latter.

She didn't put in too much exertion in showing miens that could qualify for expression, but when she did, it never ceased to amaze Len. He'd see so much passion in those starkly lifeless eyes — a gaze so intense it could burn its way all over your body and just combust into firework — he'd sense the pain that skimmed the edge of her voice and the fear that clutched at her when she tries to feign nonchalance. . . He'd see everything this tough loutish façade was hiding.

The best question Len could ever pose was why.

In a more humourless topic — without any of them weird puns or references — Rin was just as human as the rest of them. She was — surprisingly — capable of humane emotions. And she showed — countless times — all the time — how a great actress she was covering it all up, and for a reason Len knew not. In fact, perhaps she didn't know why either.

Not yet.

Or she already did know, but she just couldn't stop doing this out of too much . . . tension? Pressure?

. . . Or maybe she just cared too much.

Len clicked his tongue to remove himself from these weird insights of his. Immediately his eyes swivelled from book to book, all of which were now lying open on the floor — Rin having thrown them carelessly and deliberately to make Len take care of all that — how considerably rude of her — as he read the title pages: Festival of the Asylum, Cruel Clocks, Black Mourning Dress, Euthanasia, Snow White and Blossom Red, Reincarnation — andcouldn't help but ask himself how on earth he didn't notice how much controversial books were here before.

Rin must have noticed the perplexed look Len had pulled as he tried to discern what the books could have been about or how they were even published in the first place: His eyebrows met, and it looked as though he was irritated to not understand.

With something practically almost not unlike pity, Rin told Len, "101 Poems for Children."

Probably to save his future attempts — which would've been hilarious — or just her time.

Quickly, he dropped to his knees and looked for the book. The books were so many that the stacks had were just above his eye-level if he kneeled down, and that was a problem: They were left in the old section of the library, the part where Rin only seldom went to, so they were sort of dingy and dusty.

His fingers felt their way to find what he assumed to be an old, tattered hardback hardly as big as most of the books there. Len was smart enough to guess that a Nursery Rhymes book would be just like that.

It took him twenty minutes or so — he lost count — not like he really paid attention to the time — to finally locate the book he was looking for, after crouching down on the floor to peer what's underneath the bed, climbing up the cabinets to see what's sitting over it, coughing himself mad from all the dust particles, getting Rin back to bed when she stood up to see what took him so long, deciding to give up and restacking the books back to find that "101 Poems for Children" was just lying on Rin's bedside table and it merely 'slipped her mind' to tell him she laid it there an hour ago before inspecting what it really was.

The "101 Poems for Children" book had indeed been old, but it wasn't as small as Len thought it to be: On the contrary, it was rather large. Of course, children couldn't read small letters, so they naturally printed books for them with big letters for them to read easily. He was so certain that had he made the slightest effort of ripping it apart, it would have in the blink of an eye. Well, he had a hunch it would just about crumble, anyway. When he opened the book, the pages felt thinner than all the few books Len has ever touched, as though it had been worn down flatter and flatter since it had first been read to this little blonde girl that Len imagined to be Rin.

Len looked at Rin in disbelief as she ran a finger down on the page of the Contents.

"Do you actually plan on reading all that?" He remembered her bored reactions when she was given all those other books girls her age thought were 'fun,' and now he's looking at the same girl, who's raising her eyebrows in amusement, possibly at how silly the rhymes may have been or how she recalled having laughed at them or mispronounced the words that weren't so difficult now as it had been before. She's interested, in something Len least thought — a Nursery Rhyme book would never cross his mind, had it not been enunciated by her, and if it did he wouldn't ever consider it as Rin's "happy factor" — to satisfy Rin's sky-high standards.

"As a matter of fact, no."

It was a rhetorical question, truthfully, and had Rin answered differently, Len wouldn't have been so surprised. And then she shoved the book into his hands as she adjusted herself in her position comfortably, her head sinking in her pillow.

"You read it to me."

For three full seconds Len didn't reply, nor did any sound come registered to his brain, which was functioning slowly because of the delay in the form of still analysing what Rin just told him.

"I've a massive headache, and if you don't do as I say —"

Oh, of course. A headache.

Len probably hadn't any other options, so he plopped down on the bed next to her, making himself comfortable as he stretched his feet and arms, even managing to yawn. Huh — it was so soft he felt like he'd be drowning in the vintage cotton any time. No wonder Rin didn't want to leave this bed. He leaned his back against the bed post and leafed through the book he laid on his lap, its paper smelling not unlike riverbank musk.

Nerves of impulsive rumination made him freeze in his tracks.

Suddenly, his mind reeled.

"Th-the 'Masked Pierrot?'" Len read the title aloud in disbelief. It sounded so vaguely familiar he couldn't point out where he'd heard it before: Suppose he didn't say it out loud, he wouldn't have had this odd sensation of recalling.

In contrast with the undistinguishable perceptions that were triggered by the same name of the children's poem, an even weirder and more unusual expression streaked across Rin's face for but a second's notice. No, even less than a second's notice: Knowing Rin, she'd immediately dismiss her expressive almost-human thoughts and discipline whatever emotion's left of her that refuse to be eliminated by her pride of giving out apathetic reactions.

Something almost like meaningful fondness swept past her face, and, in Len's own opinion, it looked like it deserved to stay there for longer than just half a second. It's way better than having a lame look of distantness.

The page looked almost damp, being so used, and it looked like it was bookmarked or folded as many times as possible to make it look so cut off from all the rest, as though to make sure that it's the first page you'd read once you open the old book. Like it was a favourite.

The poem was so short and childish that you could just listen to it in your head and imagine a melodic voice singing to its happy bubbly tune.

What do your eyes tell you?

Lies, or what they think is true?

Hope, I do, that 'tis all sown!

A mere fabrication you wove that's forbidden to be known

Len stared at the poem, in a daze. Surely no child wouldn't not be discouraged for lying? This was very dissolute for a book written for children. And in rhymes, too. It wasn't that hard to imagine a child, frolicking one day, singing this poem in such a tune that would embolden every other child to do the same, and, the next day, they'd start lying to their parents, asking for lollipops and the like, after they'd discern what the song truly meant.

He could venture no further in wondering how Rin suggested this. From the looks of things, it seemed like this had truly been her absolute favourite. The apple of her eye — a light in the darkness. Or, in Rin's case, a shadow in the light.

It was still bothering Len how Rin wanted him to read this to her in her ill state. Would a short ode of lying help her go through this? Really?

He fidgeted, carefully choosing the right words for this. What should he say? There'd be no doubt Rin'd rant about his 'low standards' and his 'propensity of nonchalantly slighting aestheticism' if he'd ask about this. But he supposed keeping this pathetic job was 'low' a 'standard' enough.

"Mind if I ask why you like this so much?"

Rin was playing with her hair; Len knew better than to assume she wasn't listening and was just taunting him. "I don't think it'd be any of your business if you would."

That's what he's trying to do, Rin.

Again, Len was scrambling for select words. "Wouldn't hurt to ask, though."

Almost instantaneously, too much so that Len thought she'd answered right before he uttered the last syllable, Rin turned her eyes to land on him. "Would to answer."

Like there was anything wrong with —

What was that? "Huh?"

Was it just Len's jumpy imagination — which was running more wildly nowadays — or did Rin just imply that she honestly didn't want to talk about this subject? She admitted a certain emotion she felt about this would she ever talk of it. Of course, it's somehow related to something — it's got to be a big issue. Rin's got nothing to hide, for her integrity always showed no shame in anything, so she needn't stash any secrets. Yet should he ask right away, Rin would definitely have him clobbered just by reading his mind. (Yes, he discovered that when he lied that he hadn't been to her room.)

It seemed as though — as usual as his reaction was predictable — Rin had already thought this through: She had this in mind already. Was she just leaving him besotted, needing information she withheld, or did she actually trust him enough to talk about stuff? As in really talk about stuff, not just boring other peoples' lives.

Or, if it was really possible, she slipped up? It didn't solve why Rin wanted that though.

"Meredith . . . she used to read this to me every night to put me to sleep." It wasn't exactly answering Len's question, the latter not being anything at all except an expression of puzzlement. She wasn't answering anything. Just . . . talking. Telling Len a would-be story if she'd just continue. There was a tone of unrecognisable — not the awful kind; the unfamiliar sort — honey-like nostalgia in her voice, a sap merely dripping from the pot. For the first time in Len's knowing her, she'd actually used such mellifluous inflection that seemed like the voice was almost scratching the surface of being rusty at it, but was just as melodic as it used to sound. From talking like an impassive capricious old duchess to a dreamy child caught in her recollections, Rin sure handled acting different selves well. "I — back then, I didn't depict what this really meant. I just liked how she'd sung this to me."

So it had been true. . . How Meredith was indeed Rin's staunchest servant — with a bond close enough to call 'friendship.'

When Len didn't say anything, Rin went on, "I never really cared for what this meant. In a child's eyes, they'd be willing to believe anything within the boundaries of whatever dwell their imagination limited by how their understanding supplies."

That's pretty deep. And, mentally, Len whistled, impressed by Rin's choice of words. Whatever resentment she had been feeling at the moment wasn't caught by Len, who at the moment sat in awe at the transformation afore him. He didn't want to say anything to ruin such an achievement with brittle foundation. What could slip from his tongue might cause Rin to never consider not suspecting him again — which didn't stray far off from her almost trusting him.

Not even waiting for Len's mouth to slacken his lips, she continued, "I am a Langley — no matter how many times I would change my name, I began a Langley, and will end a Langley."

"What's . . ." There was something funny about Rin's statement. It sounded a little too off-topic to just be said carelessly — especially by someone like Rin — and too mysteriously misplaced for her not to be willing to lead him on. Rin knew whenever Len could understand something, and she took this knowledge to her advantage to spare her whatever dignity she had left — she knew he's too smart to drop the subject. ". . . Wouldn't it be prudent anymore to ask why you changed your name?"

It looked as though Rin was grimacing, carrying another emotion that was strange and misdirected on her usually stoic face. They were so close to each other; Len could feel her body warmth that seemed vaguely odd to him. It was just his nebulous misunderstanding to assume she's always so cold to even let out sweat or body heat. Now . . . the unfamiliar warmth she was giving off felt nurturing and hospitable. ". . . Kagamine. It's actually 'Kuh-guh-mee-neh.' Kagamine's Japanese, and it's a combination of 'mirror' and 'sound.'"

Len wasn't following. It made sense, yet it didn't answer his question. Seeing the blank look on Len's face, Rin added, "It's my mother's last name."

Len stopped fiddling with the page of the nursery rhyme book — the thought of Rin having a mother made his imagination run wild: An image of a cute little blonde in a frilly dress sitting on a small chair with an older, beautiful woman braiding her hair behind her surfaced in Len's mind, and it didn't sort of fit with the lonesome girl he was sitting on the bed next to. And why would she want to keep . . . ?

Having been on the streets long enough to be more than just a pair of eyes in the shadows, he also developed the keen stealth of eavesdropping. He had gathered all he could about Rin before she employed him — and sometimes she had just cropped up in rumours far too often to be someone to be easily forgotten — and he had learnt more of her past than of his own.

Rin's mother had left her and her father. The reasons were unknown — and that's what Rin's most likely on about. Most likely she did know, but the chances of her not knowing weren't exactly little, either. Rin's mother could've been Japanese, or her blood ran that way: If she was, then Rin had entirely taken after her father. There was no apparent sign of Asian-ness Rin displayed, nor did she look like one. Based on the rumours, where Len got this from, her mother was lovely and lean and exotic, with her dark long hair trailing after her while she had still walked on Baskerville's streets — she had lived there, they said. Hers was a beauty that was her own, and an elegance only she could pull off the way she did in her own way with nobody possibly able to attain such grace. A maiden like her couldn't possibly escape the searching eyes of any man, even one of authority.

It was love at first sight. Or something like that. Damsel Kagamine had Lord Langley wrapped around her finger. Not long after their rushed marriage, they had a gorgeous baby girl with a striking resemblance to her father: Not a single hair that had been passed on by her mother.

And she just left — a good few years after Rin was born.

"I see" was his intelligent reply.

For what else could be said? He knew nothing of this, despite wanting to know everything. Before he could even utter another word, possibly a chain that would connect a sentence that could've helped Rin, the latter shut the book and stalely pointed at the door.

"I'm parched. . ."

Rin looked . . . battered.

He needn't push her any further: She'd tell him when she's ready. He stood up and laid the book next to her on the table, leaving through the door without another word.

. . . She was waiting to be listened to. That's all she wanted.

Nobody would want to be judged; she didn't mind being judged, though. But she didn't like it the slightest. You couldn't just expect for a flower to blossom with doing nothing. You have to nurture it, make it feel home, deserved to be grown. If you keep poking at it, it'd just curl itself up and await its rotting death, drifting in its realm of loneliness and selfish desires. That's exactly what Rin was. Waiting. Yearning. Patient. Hopeful — however not the slightest sign of it could be seen illuminating her entire features, which would have made her become so noticeable. She was thinking that she would fit better in the normalcy of feeling something.

As he stepped to make a turn to the hallway, he only remembered the first lines of the poem, his mind having oddly stored it in his memory.

What do your eyes tell you?

Lies, or what they think is true?

There was almost a mysterious air about that. It shouldn't even be there, right?

Without warning, blinding light glistened in the back of his eyes, and he toppled forward.

"Is he hurt?"

Searing hot pain spread throughout his throbbing head — they all dissolved into small sparks that flashed on and off — pictures and fragments of things he didn't think existed in his head leaked from the back of his mind. His eyes and ears stung with pain — imaginary, illusory pain — his mind was tricking him — it was dragging him back to the past — suddenly his nerves were wreaking senses that didn't belong there — the immediacy of being plunged into the deep cool waters of your memory was scalding, but freezing at the same time —

He didn't know what to do — he wanted to squeeze his eyes shut — trepidation — that wasn't there before — anxiety — fear — he's feeling all of them at once, casting aside his confusion of it all — he was lost in the realm of his memories — he was being sucked into the void of eternal agonising pain again — his vision was blurring, then sharpening —

It was so vivid. It was almost within reach —

He lost it.

Everything was so sensual now — his eyes flitted everywhere on the page — he wasn't even aware of his actions — and then — just then — it happened again — it's like swirling into a whirlpool of burning ice — or freezing fire — either of the two — he was supposed to be tired — he was supposed to be in Rin's bed — he's supposed to do it — there it was right in front of him!

A twinge of hesitation — he flinched — someone shouted — he didn't think it was himself until he closed his mouth —

Pain — he's supposed to feel pain —

Blood — there's supposed to be blood —

If only he hadn't — but he did — what had he done? — what else was there to do?

"I — I can't see anything!"

"Dammit, boy — just do it now!"

Unprecedented was his persona — neither he himself could fathom the immeasurably caliginous secrets he concealed in the deepest pits of himself.

He didn't know he was dangerous.

"Who you are is deadly."

Spasms of fear and distortion quaked everywhere in his veins, coursing along with the fast rush of his blood that sent shock waves over his body. Clouds were blinding his vision from the inside — his limbs were twitching uncontrollably as he was plunged yet again afresh to a new recollection.

He didn't want to be dragged in again — no — it was scary — even the blackness of his eyelids couldn't stop him from lessenning the effect this had on him — he'd hear them — it was too late —

— Len's eyes fluttered open.

ME: Sebby's got a cool past. . . Q_Q So why not Len? LOL, everyone deserves a horrible backstory. C'mon, it spices up everything! Sorry for updating so late. I know, I know. No Rin/Len here yet =_= It would probably (you're gonna get put off with this one, I think) take them SOME time to develop. Rin being tsun-tsun and all. Small hints are being dropped, yet I'm focusing a little bit on what happened to Len before /shot If you want some RinxLen, I've got some fanfics up (NOTGIVINGUPONTHISONE!)

AnnMeli: Like I mentioned, it'd PROBABLY take me some time to think of something (ahem) appropriate for them. It's kinda hard to find a NORMAL RinxLen song where neither one of them dies or (cough) where they DON'T end up doing the naughty. There's gonna be none of that happening here (I think) But they're getting there, don't worry!

Lolly101: Ciel's kinda like that, right? Sigh. I really should stop alternating the Vocaloids' characters, shouldn't I? =o Hehe, bit too sad, but at least Len's there for her now!

I wanna thank AnnMeli and Lolly101 for reviewing! They'z get'z free lollipops and marshmallows! XD Next chapter: Rinniekinns is sick, like in this chapter. WHAT'S LEN GONNA DO? Suggestionz? Thanks!