March 16th 1888
Len's morning was . . . awkward. Yeah, of course: What'd you expect? Yesterday he was just at the alley on his bed getting up from another night of cramp-filled noises with rain dripping from the roof of the house nearby. Now he was inside a house of someone who was close to a noble.
He couldn't imagine a more surprising morning. He got up from 'his' bed and clumsily stood straight: What happened when he blacked out yesterday? He reckoned Rin got there in time to get his arse from the scene and save everyone and solved the case, but he can't help but shake the feeling that something was missing. A loose end to this long thread of a murder.
His senses told him that he was somewhere in Rin's mansion: Although he'd gotten up last night, he didn't have enough time to see the room clearly enough to know what made it up, so he took his time surveying the room. He guessed Rin gave him a thumbs-up for his 'good work' yesterday, because this room was big; even bigger than the room she took him to the other day. In comparison, this room is gigantic. He only slept at the bed next to the door, but he didn't look that well enough to see that the 'wall' he'd thought he'd seen last night was actually a divider, a huge white one. He could just easily push it aside to reveal the other 9/10 of the room, but he didn't think he's supposed to do that yet, so he'll leave that for himself discover later. There was a bookshelf just in front of the foot of the bed, and the space between it and the bed was just enough for three carriages to pass through. The bookshelf seemed to have quite a lot of books; maybe Rin specifically put them all there — alphabetically — thinking Len would like them, but he didn't think she'd be as nice as that. Just as he assumed, there really was a chandelier above him; it was hung on the ceiling. However, it looked like it was swaying so much Len thought there was an earthquake.
Len's theory was put to the test when he heard what seemed to be the noise of a stampede from outside the door. He glanced at the door, wondering whether or not he should make a run for it before the stampede gets there or stay inside. What he saw was the doorknob shaking like ballistic, and the door was rattling unpleasantly.
"Everybody, this way! This way! Mistress Rin has a visitor! We must see!"
Len, quite curious as to who this visitor was, carefully pressed his right ear to the door and listened: Was that a stampede of Rin's maids and butlers?
Heavy footsteps raced down the hall, and the heiress of the house's servants of Langley — now Kagamine — were squeezing down the mansion just to listen to the Lady's conversation with her new visitor; this was the second one this week, and they're all excited because, the connection between the visits was that they're all boys around her age. And nothing would be better in a nanny's or babysitter's life than to hear the latest gossip of the one they're serving; 'sides, Rin's almost coming of age, so it's natural for her to find a boyfriend, what with hormones raging around wild. Although that wasn't quite the case: Meredith deduced that Rin would know better than to just invite a guest. She was, to say the least, boorish, and was completely antisocial. She doesn't even talk to her servants unless she needed something. Sometimes Melissa wondered whether she really was the only one in the household of servants who was educated well, she thought as Guinevere pushed some people out of the suffocating crowd down the long winding treads of the golden staircase.
"Get off, you idiots, this is the Lady's closest servant —"
"Second-closest," Meredith said sharply, half-gasping when one of the butlers from behind pushed around.
"Yeah, whatever — I just want these jerks to move out OF THE WAY!" Guinevere shouted. A few of the Lady's servants looked her way in disgust and held their noses high, whereas the others just completely ignored her.
Meredith sighed; she wasn't used to being tossed around in the crowd like this, but she had to know what Rin was up to: Lately, she's been doing these things that were far rasher than the stuff she'd done before. It was really worrying; however, she doubted Rin was the type to go chase after men, or takes pleasure in being chased. She deduced that the guest's visit was of business, even though the boy was barely an adult, being only a few years older than Rin herself. He was rather . . . good-looking, as they say. Perhaps the types who were sleek and smooth in talking to women, and — Meredith was probably making a mistake in judging so much, but she can't help but feel overprotective on Rin, who was still the optimistic, scatter-brained girl she used to know — looked really poor for Rin's tastes. Not that Meredith wasn't poor herself, except that she knows who Rin likes and what kind of boy she's most likely into.
Guinevere grunted and gave up to the mercy of the stampede of servants, occasionally bumping into one person or two. She was one of the maids who served Rin when she was younger, so she naturally witnessed Rin's childhood demeanour. She was this hard-headed, spunky maid. Many have been questionable about her green locks, but she just flipped her hair and says that she liked the 'style,' and that it naturally runs in her family. Her full name was Guinevere Minnie Mechteld, but she however preferred it to be abbreviated as 'Gumi,' because it sounded so much 'cooler' and less hard to pronounce. She didn't want anyone calling her the wrong name at all. She was by far the youngest recruit of maids ever, because she was found as a young orphan in the streets by Oliver Langley, and they decided to adopt her as a maid of the house to take care of their daughter. She was only a little older than Rin herself, so she can relate a lot. Except, in terms of experience and educated brains, Rin was that much more mature and had long surpassed the greenette, who used to be in the same level as her.
Finally, they made it to the last tier, and every single servant spread throughout the floor, hiding behind various furniture, just to listen to the Lady's and Hayes's conversation at the Living Room.
Meanwhile, we go back to the youthful peasant, Len, who's found himself vaguely apprehensive about the idea of being in another person's house, specifically, a rich person's house. Even more than that, his rich employer's house that he just snuck into over less than a week ago to ask for a job.
He had a queer hunch that Rin was by now awake, and he comprehended this newfound fear more than anything he's ever been frightened at before. Maybe it was because he didn't want to disappoint anyone? Something inside Len kept reminding him the realisation he was scared to soon forget: He was running out of time. He only had a few months' time, too.
And all he was doing was playing the Lady's pet. However, the streets and the occasional filching taught him that patience was a key factor to getting what you want. It was essential to look like a masochist and risk his life for this girl . . . for now. Then he can get his hands on his goal. It was all for a good cause. . . He was helping the Lady after all, right? No harm in that. She's nothing but his mistress. He just has to play puppet for a few months until he finishes what he's sworn to do for the meantime.
Len's thoughts swirled in his mind as he stood up from the floor, leaning against the door. Was he seriously starting to doubt his abilities now? Sure, his funny, stupid side was getting dominant over his usually devilish and sneaky one, but he was starting to delve into the deeper parts of his torn heart, wear his memories and past struck him most. He supposed there was no way to yarn his heart back together, although he wanted to at least make the person pay for what they did to him. Even though his brain had been far too young to recognise the face then, and he was far too old to remember any details now, he thought as much as his imagination could supply about the face of the dreaded monster. . .
Wondering whether it was the effect of the morning sickness he usually gets at sunbreak or it was the new unaccustomed habitat, Len succumbed to think more positively this day. He'd just recovered from the past case, right? The sooner he gets down, the sooner he'll find out what the hell happened yesterday. . . He crossed his fingers that it won't be so upsetting. The memory of the girl's sunken, mad face haunted Len to no end; to imagine such a face merry and full of unquestionable and innocent gaiety would be like trying to imagine the queen of England young. He wondered what became of the girl. And . . . the madman who was supposedly the girl's father's best friend . . . he lunged at Len, and Len was certain he heard a violent spill of blood. But since his memory was a bit fuzzy, he questioned himself whether or not he heard someone scream his name at all.
Was it Rin who screamed his name? Yes, it was. He put two in two together and theorised that she came to his rescue around the same time the madman knocked him out. He will never underestimate that girl again.
. . . And he's been alone up there how long?
He'd better get down or he'd crack.
"You called for me, Rinny?"
Hayes earned a gigantic swat from the Lady as she pursed her lips. "Shut up, Hayes! I called you for a reason."
Connor never felt like a star more than he did now: Even though Rinny dragged him to the most secluded room in the first floor of the mansion — which caused an even more scandalous uproar among the legion of servants — he was still certain there were a few irises peeking through the keyhole . . . Or in this case, the windows: The curtains were still up, of course, and Rin was having a hard time getting them down — mostly because she was too cough — short — cough to pull them down. The scene would have been outrageously hilarious had Rin not been looking at him with that face.
Ugh. Her Medusa mode always gets to Connor.
"I brought the files you asked for, anyway," he said, sitting down the nearest couch. He set aside his bag and put the files on the coffee table. "They're ancient. I mean, who still reads that piece of crap?"
"I do, and I appreciate your help." Rin strode over and snatched the papers from the table, then walked to the window, where the harsh bright light was to read the papers a little more thoroughly.
Connor wasn't really used to anything silk, so adjusting to his position on the couch took him a while. "We've just had word about the dead man. Apparently, he was Mortimer Snow. I think the reason he's always late in coming home is because he knew someone was stalking him."
Normally, Rin will take a few seconds to reply, but she did almost automatically, despite reading files. "It says here that the madman who apparently killed him was Maddox Weild, his best friend."
"Former, apparently," muttered Connor, sinking in his seat. "I can't believe that he'd just kill his best friend like that. Even criminals have friends, right?"
Which was probably the most childish thing Rin had ever heard from a fifteen-year-old like him — and we have to admit, Connor's the most immature boy we ever know, so he says a motherload of childish things — and the vaguest wonderment, too: When she came and think about it, most criminals have back-ups, other members of the gang, and the occasional 'sidekick.' But in Snow's and Weild's case, it seemed like their relationship was far too questionable. Then again, Weild is a madman. . . Out of love, too. Rin snorted.
"I can't believe this man. Sacrificing everything, even his sanity, for a married woman whom he knows will never love him back," she scoffed, rolling her eyes at the paper. She hated the very existence of ignorance: Who was this man to think, anyway, to kill the woman's husband, who in fact was also his best friend? There are a million other people exactly just like him; Rin wanted to avoid the very mention of that topic. She's regarded it as an issue and made herself hold a grudge against it.
"I guess love made him blind enough to see the sense in things. . ."
Rin wheeled around to find Connor biting his lip and staring at the carpet silently. She glanced at the paper first, then back at him. "You've got to be joking, right? Love made him go insane."
Hayes shrugged and looked at her thoughtfully, "Everyone's a sucker for love. It's not something you can control. Once you feel something, it's loose! That's life!"
Rin could have sworn her left eyebrow twitched. "F-fine. Whatever. I'll leave you to thinking that. It's utter rubbish: You'll have to learn how to grow up sometime."
Not bothering to hide a chuckle, Connor wiped the tears from his eyes. "I think you've been focusing too much on growing up that you did forget to."
That didn't make any sense. But that's the way Rin liked Hayes's statements; straightforward and nonsensical.
"Oh, come on, Rinny," implored Connor, sounding close to frustrated. "Don't you ever smile? Or, like, giggle or something?"
"I think you know me well enough that I don't do any of those things," murmured Rin, recalling that she did laugh hard at the rat's — Len's — dramatic entrance, even though she hadn't ever laughed since. She was scared that Len was starting to rub in on her, and that her conscience would try and beseech her to actually smile sometime. Connor sighed and grinned at her like an idiot.
"That's what I like about you, Rinny!"
Suddenly, strong and bulky arms — not to mention unsanitary — arms wrapped themselves around Rin's waist, and she squeaked (although she thought she heard a few giggles coming from the window — cough — the nosy servants — cough.) Connor's chin was rested on top of her head, and her face was squished against his chest: He smelled badly of streets and . . . cinnamon.
"G-get off me!" Rin squeaked helplessly. "I swear to God I'll sue you!"
"A little hug won't hurt anyone, right?" Connor started to snuggle; his cheeks were now rubbing against her hair — which was by now totally messed up — and Rin literally could feel him sneer.
"St-stop it, you filthy —"
And, beyond all of their limits of expectations at the moment, the door was suddenly opened, the creaking making them turn to it slowly, synchronising with the door's movement, until their eyes set upon the surprised young blonde standing beneath the threshold. His eyes showed the faintest trace of vague and, which looked unbeknownst to him, ire that concealed a clandestine possessiveness. For the swiftest moment, Rin thought she saw the corners of Len's mouth twitch abnormally in a sort of indignance.
Len had finally found the door that led to the Living Room — the one he and Rin had a meeting in the last time — and had opened the door to find himself in the utmost bewilderment at the scene before him; something unfamiliar boiled inside him and he thought a little of his dignity burned in dissatisfaction. He didn't know from what, but he'd never felt this before: His brand-new greed for something. . . What was this? He felt a little regret in this, as well. . . Len should've worn more presentable attire — maybe his pyjamas weren't enough for Rin. But who was this boy, who had been in fact no one in splendour, and who was just in the same situation as Len was in, judging by his clothes, who was now embracing the young girl Len was supposed to be with right now? (The statement being innocent, no malicious romance included.)
Shuffling his feet almost in haste, Len stood up straight, ignoring the wrath that was starting to build up inside him. "Good morning, Lady Rin."
The Lady didn't expect such a formal greeting — from Len, at least — so much that she spluttered — it was that or Hayes's grip on her just tightened — "G-good morning, Len." And followed by, "Get off me you pest!" when Hayes started to caress her back with his hands: She gave an effortful push so that he would back off her. Said boy smirked, smoothing his tousled hair.
Connor chuckled, and he walked over to Len, extending a friendly hand, which Len was having a cold apprehension on whether to slap that hand away or to shake it. He took his time thinking about how on earth Rin had let this young man touch her; Len was now absentmindedly staring at Hayes's free hand, which was waiting for his to shake it. Finally, Len came to his senses, and immediately shook Hayes's hand — but his eyebrow twitched, and his gaze was now turned to Hayes's pair of eyes: He deliberately didn't make any effort on fighting back his dreadful, menacing scrutiny, and it was his very intention to do something like intimidate Hayes. However, an almost bored, jaded look was shot back at him.
"Connor Hayes," said the young boy informally, a smirk playing upon his lips. "I'm sure we'll get along just fine. Nice to meet you."
"Pleased," Len shot back, trying to keep a cool, calm facade. Emphasis on trying. "Len. I am sure you're very well informed that I am under the management of Lady Rin here?"
"Ah, as a matter of fact, I am. She spoke of your going in the window." Hayes truly was an irritable young man. "Isn't that a grand entrance?"
"Yeah, well, better than nothing," snapped Len, irritated. He was losing his patience. Then he turned to Rin's back, who was priming herself up again in front of the mirror across the room. "You called me, Ri — Milady?"
Rin turned around, and she had that almost fake, happy smile — which was more of a straight line of a pair of lips, but it was good enough as a smile in Rin's standards — when she replied plainly, "Hayes here will explain to you the case. I'm too tired to tell you everything."
Len could have sworn he would have gagged when he saw that uncharacteristic grin Connor was giving him. So he was here to talk to Len, right? Not Rin. . . Somehow, there was a light feeling that lifted Len up in the inside. But his opinion of him won't ever change. "What do you wanna know about the case?"
When Len came to think about it, since the case was already over and done with, why should he still meddle with it? Maybe it was still his sense of curiosity that invaded his mind. Either way, he managed, "W-well, firstly, I want to know who was killed."
Rin came down and sat on the couch; Len and Connor made a quick movement and sat down beside her on both her sides. The Lady, who was so oblivious, replied almost immediately to Len's question, "It was Mortimer Snow. . . He's a gardener down Whitehall."
"Crazy ol' bleeder, I tell you," muttered Connor, stretching his arms. "Charges too much for a dandelion."
"Shut up, Hayes," Rin snapped, sighing. "Apparently, he and Wield used to be friends. They went down the same path in life, but they viewed the environment differently; Snow had his own opinion, and Wield of course had his perspective on things, too. They only realised their dissimilarities when a woman waltzed in their lives, and changed their friendship forever."
Len adjusted himself in his seat. "They realised that the differences they had, the bond that glues them together, were also the catalysts that broke them apart?"
Allowing society to influence him.
"Sorta," said Rin, waving her hand loftily. Then she picked up the papers. ". . . According to the report, Snow even got the girl: Because of that, his best friend deserted them to find another woman. Except, he didn't, and couldn't.
"Snow was the good man in their friendship. But he hid a secret that no one would have ever thought someone like him would keep."
Connor supplied, "He's an abortioner."
"Abortionist," Rin corrected, her nerve showing. Len's eyes widened.
"They exercise that principle?"
Rin gulped. "Yeah, apparently. As I was saying, he might have been a bit . . . reckless, I guess. When he found out that his wife was pregnant with his child, he tried to 'fix' things. . . So when the child was born — the poor baby had been conceived in their own house — he took her to the prostitutes' place so that they would take care of the baby for him. . . In fact, he didn't even let his poor wife leave the house when the bulge in her stomach started to grow; she was like a prisoner in their house for months. . . Snow was selfish, no matter how far his life was from delinquency or other crimes at their time; he was still a horrible father. A dirty little liar who's fit for being a sucking scum."
"I think he's afraid that the child would ruin their name or something," Connor noted, "Some nutter he is."
"Wait — wait," Len said, slightly confused. "How's he an abortionist? He didn't exactly kill his child, remember?"
Rin went silent for a second, and then she revealed the other papers. "Take a look at these."
Len looked at what Rin was hiding: They were newspapers with sepia-toned pictures of crying women and a headline reading, 'DISAPPEARING BABIES.'
Len put on a sceptical look. Who wanted to snatch babies?
Connor sneered and answered his unspoken question almost too smugly, "Yeah, I know what you're thinking, Ben."
"It's Len, you dolt," snapped Rin suddenly.
Hayes waved an airy hand. "Same thing. Where was I? I know what you're thinking. Apparently, kidnapping babies is an excellent way to make money."
Something struck Len so suddenly he almost fell out of his seat. His world had suddenly made a somersault, and he was getting quite dizzy. There was a keyword in what Hayes said that made him react like that. . . Len's vision had momentarily turned monochrome, and his heart had started to jump in and out of his ribcage, like it was calling out to a long lost memory Len had forgotten, or had been afraid to remember. Ripples of rage and anger exploded inside him suddenly, but he was confused why — he couldn't remember anything at all. There was a clenching feeling inside him, and he had to bawl his fists just to balance the pain. This didn't go unnoticed by Rin (as usual.)
"You need to pull yourself together, Len," she said dismissively. Which wasn't much of any help, but Len could suffice with that. "Even though Snow was completely a kind man, his conscience defies his sanity. . . And as soon as he was interrogated by the dealers, he began to question himself. He filled his own head with lies just so he can see reality trouble-free, like he twisted his own beliefs to convince himself. . ."
"Ah, I see," Len piped up. "I guess it goes to show that the way you grew up won't exactly lead you to the same path. But how'd he wander off to evil?"
There was a piece of parchment that landed on Len's lap; almost instinctively, the first thing Len did was read the words.
There have been mysterious groups lurking in the city; we suspect it's the Indians. They have meddled long enough with the authority, despite their piece of land in the city: Squatters and informal settlers, they were. But there is one particular group of Indians that we've heard quite a lot about recently, and it's always bad news: The Felons.
". . ." Len didn't say anything.
"It's a big word for them at the time," explained Rin, feeling a bit awkward. "When they emigrated from India, they only learned to adapt to English."
The Felons is a group of drug dealers that have been smuggling illegal pills. Also, they are rumoured to be working with a local gardener in London, who claimed to have been in no part of their hooliganisms.
At this, Len's eyes grew wide: He looked at Rin and Hayes (who was pissing him off somehow.) "Wasn't Snow a gardener himself?"
"Just read the rest," said Hayes abruptly, cutting off Rin's statement.
Len's left eyebrow twitched involuntarily as he shuffled the papers.
We have caught them making bargains with local citizens, and we finally had them arrested. As it turns out, they were all married; no children from any of them, though. The money they make from their smuggling was all given to the women.
". . . Indians sure respect women," Len noted. "I can piece two-and-two together now."
Hayes's eyes went wide as saucers, which were quite in contrast with Rin's, which she squinted. "Go on. Try."
There was something about Rin that made Len think that she didn't completely think he was a genius, which he was. "I assume Snow was married at that time. He made a good deal with the Felons, the Indian gang group, to kidnap their own wives' babies . . . and Snow's job was to kill them."
Hayes made an odd face that made him look a bit weird, and Rin frowned. "You're getting warm."
Len, smirking, continued, "Indians are very respectful to women. . . And I think abortion's allowed in their country. . . Because they can't afford a house alone, they surely can't handle raising a family with their wives. So they paid someone to kill their own babies, for fear of disappointing their wives? Okay, okay, I'll continue: The Felons also most likely made a bargain with the crazy killer, too — Wield, was it? — and that's how Wield got hold of those weird drugs. . . But I can't think of a reason why Snow sold his baby to the prostitutes' place. . ."
"The answer's just around the corner," whispered Rin, her expression darkening.
Len racked his brains. . . "Wield was beginning to stalk him, huh?"
Hayes shook his head and sighed. "Poor old git never stopped loving his best friend's wife. . . And poor Snow was going to the brink of madness himself; the pressure of a sin such as killing an innocent, untainted baby drove him to the point of cracking. He feared that Wield would come and kill the baby he and his wife had with their love."
". . . So he stumbled upon the Prostitutes Place." Len breathed. . . ". . . That baby . . . was she the one. . . ?"
Rin gulped, "Yes. She's Carollyne Snow. . . The girl who was with you and Wield yesterday. . ."
"Wield told me she was just someone he knew knows. . . And he must've done a lot of stalking."
"He knew that there was nothing that would hurt Snow more than for his own daughter to get rid of him," muttered Rin carelessly, looking out the window. . . "But Carollyne carried the gun. He fought Snow himself with brute force. . ."
Len was quiet for a while, and he tried to solve the puzzle pieces one by one.
"That's all, really," Rin said, arranging the papers. There was a loud, yet distant noise of hard metal hitting against metal, and it echoed in the halls; Len absentmindedly counted the number of bongs: Eleven.
"Well, it looks like it's already time for lunch!" cried out Hayes. There was something inside Len that snapped when Rin said, "Let's all just eat together, okay. Don't get anything more than the leftovers, though, Connor."
"Yeah! I'd want some croissant!"
And with that, the said peasant opened the doors and raced to the dining room, leaving the two blondes alone.
There was a deafening silence that sandwiched Len's breathing, and he was almost too confused to think. Everything was over, right? He looked at Rin, who was priming her hair again. "Is Wield in jail now?"
Rin patted the dirt she thought was on her dress and she replied, "Yes."
"But where's his daughter, Carollyne?" asked Len, biting his lower lip. Rin was already opening the doors when she said, exasperated, "Just give it up, Len. The case is done. It's over, Len."
Yet before she quite left, she thought about answering his question, "She's in the asylum."
ME: WHY IS IT THAT WHENEVER I UPDATE, THE CHAPTER ALWAYS ENDS UP SO RUSHED? D: I'm so sorry for the long wait. I was too busy writing Rin's Fanfiction. And I did a lot of RESEARCH on this. Oh, and if you didn't already notice, Guinevere Minnie Mechteld is Gumi, in case you were too lazy to read the paragraph -_-
Cookie Addiction: Yes, yes he is XD I try :) Thanks for reviewing! I apologise for the long wait, truly. Please accept this pass for a cookie shop near you!
Hazel Holly: Now he does :D Thanks! I apologise for the long wait! Please accept this pass for a cookie shop near you!
I apologise Q_Q Might give me some time to update again. Please tell me what song you want the next chapter to be based off next :D SPREAD THE MISTRESS PLEASE!