Diamonds in the Rough takes place in an alternate universe of the Vocaloid community. However, I do not own the character and am making no profit off them. This is simply for entertainment purposes only.
Allen didn't know where to look. He didn't even know where to start. His sister, his step-mother and a girl that may or may not have been entering his midnight dreams were all standing in the same room.
"What is she doing here?" Riley asked in a cold voice. Her eyes were on Annabelle.
"Hello, dear," Annabelle greeted, looking a little nervous, "How have you been?"
Riley's eyes flickered, her face tight. She turned sideways to look at the blonde girl at the counter who was still texting. Who looked up at Riley.
"What did I do?"
"You didn't say that this woman," Riley pointed at Annabelle, "was going to be here."
Counter-girl rolled her eyes, " 's not my problem. Get over yourself."
"Umm," Allen interrupted, "could someone please explain to me just what exactly is going on here?"
Everyone stared at him as if they'd forgotten he was even there. Counter girl shot a look at Riley as if saying to cool it. Riley folded her arms and sighed, obviously annoyed.
A comforting hand was on his shoulder, "It's alright, Allen," Ms White assured him, "Everything will be explained to you in a moment." She moved her arm in a wide gesture around the length of the room.
"This is the loids' secret base. And these people are the other loids."
"Technically only three of you are loids, and the third person isn't even here," counter-girl reminded Ms White.
She nodded. "The rest are loids-in-training— including you, Allen, if you accept."
Allen's breath caught in his throat. "Are you serious?!" he choked.
"I wouldn't joke about something like this. You were chosen for a reason."
"We all have some connection to Leon and Lola Lloyd, or the first Engloids as other people know them," a brunette girl spoke up. She had been one of the people who came out of the room with Riley. "That's why Sweet, Clare, Nerissa and Miriam picked us."
"Who are those people?" Allen was now rubbing his temples.
"Even though I'm not officially a loid yet, I'm known as Sweet Ann, dear," Annabelle explained, beaming at him.
"I wonder why?" counter girl remarked, sarcastically.
"And my loid alias is Haku," Ms White said pointing to herself, "although I'm known as Clare White to most people."
"Uh huh…" Allen didn't know what else to say.
"Little miss sunshine over here is Nerissa," Riley said, steering the attention to counter-girl.
Allen's eyes searched the room for the people who were left, "So who is Miriam?" His eyes fell on the bouncy girl with strange wine-coloured hair.
"Oh no, I'm not Miriam!" she exclaimed, waving her hands in front of her face. "My name is Chartette but that's like, so old fashioned so people call me Teto, which is also my alias!"
"I see. But I'm still confused. What do you mean by 'loid-in-training'?"
"After Leon and Lola were gone and people began to lose interest, a woman named Miriam tried to resurrect the loid community and continue the legacy."
"And this is it?" Allen felt like he was starting to get it…
"This is it. For the longest time, we didn't have enough people to start a new loid group."
Riley, Michaela and the two other kids looked proud.
"That is," Ms White continued, "until now. Miriam managed to find Kyle and Meckenzie pretty quickly."
"Meckenzie?" Nerissa snickered, her eyebrows raised, "your name is actually Meckenzie?"
Meckenzie scowled at her. "Shut it, blondie; it was either that, or Germaine," she snapped.
The boy (whom Allen presumed was Kyle) giggled. Allen saw Meckenzie punch him in the arm.
"So then Nerissa and I found Michaela and finally you and your sister Riley."
Michaela smiled bashfully at Allen, "I didn't realise it was you that was going to be a part of the loid group when we met. If I'd known I would've said something!"
"Yeah and maybe someone else should've said something too," Riley growled, still looking upset. Annabelle's grin wavered. Teto put a hand on her arm in support.
Both were silent.
"So what now?" Meckenzie cut in to the awkward silence, "where exactly do we go from here?"
"Good question. It seems Miriam can't be with us today so I guess Teto, Nerissa and I will have to take responsibility," said Ms White. "You all know the story about Leon and Lola and what a shame it was that the town forgot them so soon after they passed—as if they had never existed. Well now is the time to stand up and get people to remember the Lloyds and what they stood for."
"And how do we do that?" Kyle asked.
Ms White and Teto exchanged glances. "You sing. All of you will sing. You will be the new loids and will perform to the people of this town and make them remember how things used to be."
She had a glint in her eye and her words sent chills down Allen's spine. He felt goose-bumps on his arms.
"But I can't even sing!" Just the thought of it made Allen's knees knock together.
"Yes you can, Allen," Ms White said smoothly, "You can. I saw you today in the courtyard. You have the stuff, trust me."
"What were you doing in the courtyard?" Riley asked, looking suspicious.
Allen chose to ignore her.
"Listen, Allen," Ms White went on, "I won't force you to do something you don't want to do. That's the last thing I want. But you have a major opportunity here. You can be that someone you want to I've always tried to tell you and the other students—strive to be the best you can be."
Allen's mouth was dry. He swallowed, but didn't say anything. Ms White gave him a look that meant she understood.
"And what about the rest of you then?" Teto piped up, the tiny woman turning to Michaela and Riley. "Kyle and Meckenzie have already joined so what about you?"
"I'll join!" Michaela said instantly, "It sounds like heaps of fun!"
Annabelle (or Sweet Ann, Allen wasn't sure what to call her) looked pleased.
"And what about you Riley?" Annabelle asked, carefully choosing her words.
Riley didn't look at her.
"I'll join," she mumbled, "but I'm not joining for you. I'm doing this for myself." And with that, she hopped off the counter-top.
Annabelle appeared to be having mixed feelings—happy that Riley had joined and sad because she still wasn't talking to her.
"Alright!" Teto cried, so excited that her ringlets did a dance on her shoulders, "we have our teams!"
"Speaking of teams," Meckenzie said, "Miriam told me that there were going to be two groups of loids: child and adult."
"That's right!" confirmed Teto, looking positively ecstatic, "Miriam, Sweet, Clare and I decided that Miriam would be hosting the adult group and Clare and Nerissa would be hosting the child group. I will shift between groups."
"So what are the groups?" Kyle asked.
"Sweet will be going into the adult group while every other loid-in-training we have at the moment will be put in the child group, including you and Meckenzie."
"What?!" Meckenzie shouted, slamming her fist down on the counter-top hard enough to make everyone in the room jump. "You said Kyle and I would be in the adult group! You can't change that!"
"W-well, uh…" Teto didn't seem up to solving conflicts so Annabelle took over.
"That was originally the plan, dear, when you and Kyle signed up. But now that we have more people around your age it would make sense for you to stay in the child group as neither of you are eighteen yet. The adult group will be reserved for people out of school."
"You're leaving us with these….these kids?" Meckenzie hissed through her teeth.
"We're not kids!" Riley argued, "Allen and I are fourteen, nearly fifteen."
"And I'm sixteen," Michaela put in.
"Calm down, will you?" Kyle went up to Meckenzie and gently laid a hand on her back, "Teto and the others aren't insulting you. Besides we can sort of be the top-dogs of the kiddie group and boss them around or whatever." He smiled encouragingly at her.
"Over my dead body," Riley said under her breath.
Meckenzie shrugged him off, chewing at a bit of her lip.
"Fine," she said eventually, "I'll be in the child group." She directed her next words at Nerissa and Ms White, "But if you try to degrade me by treating me like a kid then I'm leaving. Am I clear?"
"Crystal. So are we good now?" Nerissa sounded bored, "any more dramatic temper tantrums we need to get off our chests?"
Riley and Meckenzie blushed, eyes to the floor.
"No? Good," Nerissa thrust her phone in Allen's direction, "when you make up your mind about joining the loids, let us know alright?"
"R-right…." He felt very uncomfortable under Nerissa's glare, "gotcha."
Ms White and Annabelle simultaneously ruffled his hair.
Allen lay awake in his bed, constantly tossing and turning, unable to rest. Holding his weight on his elbow, he glanced at his alarm clock to see the time. The green digital numbers said it was one in the morning. Allen groaned and fell back onto his bed groaning.
He was never going to get to sleep. Not after what he had just heard that day. There was a nervous pit in his stomach and his palms were sweaty. Images of being on stage in front of people and singing….just made him want to throw up.
He couldn't do something like that. He couldn't even sing.
So why hadn't he said no straight out when he had the chance?
Was he missing something here?
Allen dragged his fingers through his hair, as he always did when nervous. His sheets were all twisted from his wriggling and Allen tossed them off, sitting up. On his bedside table was the mural photo that Ms White had given him. He picked it up.
He had looked at this picture countless times since he got it. It soothed his tangled thoughts for a moment. Lying back on his bed again, Allen examined the picture, imagining how it must have felt to be a part of making something so beautiful. There was an ache in Allen's heart, a desperate longing to be there with these colourful people. His life was grey and dull and he couldn't think of when it hadn't been.
Like a spell, Allen felt his eyelids grow heavy and he was lulled into sleep, the picture still in his hand.
"….but they had strayed too far into Alice's Wonderland. They were never woken up from their terrifying dream. Forever they would wander in this twisted fairytale,"Allen's dad read before closing the book up. Allen and Riley were wriggling on the spot, engrossed in their bedtime story.
"I don't understand why you read them that morbid book," Allen's mother said, shaking her head, disapprovingly, "It'll give the kids nightmares."
"Of course it won't!" Allen's dad claimed, and turned to his children, "will it, kids?"
"No!" Allen and Riley chorused, excited and clapping their hands.
Riley continued, "I like it! With the queen who became like a zombie―"
"Well I like the warrior!" Allen cut her off, "Slashing everybody with her sword!"
Allen's mother looked at their father, "you see what you've done? They'll never get to bed now."
"Hey, Mum, Mum!" Riley tugged on her mother's hand, staring up at her pleadingly. "Can we sing the story for you?"
"Sing?" Their mother looked bewildered and checked to see if her husband had anything to do with it. He just grinned, mischievously. "I suppose so…."
"Yay!" Riley cheered, dashing back to her brother and wrapping a red blanket from off her bed around her shoulders like a cape.
"I'll be the first Alice," Riley declared and Allen knew there was no point in arguing with her; she always got her way. He nodded.
Riley grinned and found the eyes of her captive audience.
"Alice Human Sacrifice!" she roared, announcing the title.
Allen's mother once again glanced at his father.
"You could have just bought the Lewis Caroll children's novel, but no you had to get the gory, gothic nursery book!" she whispered fiercely.
"But they wouldn't have enjoyed the nice version nearly as much, now would they?" he countered, and she shut up.
"Dad, can you read the beginning for us?" Riley asked.
Their father paused, but decided to ignore his wife's raised eyebrow.
"Of course, Riley," he said, opening the book once again as his happy children beamed at him. Their mother plopped down on Riley's bed, folding her arms with a sigh.
Allen and Riley's father read:
"Somewhere, there was a tiny dream. Such a tiny dream it was,
No one knew who had dreamt it. The tiny dream began to think.
'I don't want to disappear this way.
How can I make people dream of me?'
The tiny dream thought and thought, and then came up with an idea.
'I'll make humans get lost in me, and let them create the world',"
Allen watched as his bold twin struck a heroic pose and began to sing.
"The first Alice was a wrathful woman of the Spade, and righteously she held a sharpened sword within her hand," Riley gestured, swinging her fist above her head as a phantom sword and she continued.
"Never hesitating to slay all within her way, creating paths of blood that followed her through Wonderland," she boomed, stabbing one of her many plush toys in its furry little heart.
"Deep into the darkened forest, Alice walked the line. Captured and imprisoned as an embodiment of sin. If it were not for the murderous wake left behind, no one would have suspected she had ever been." Riley crept under her bed, disappearing into the shadows.
Allen jumped up, ready to sing his bit. He wasn't quite as overbearing as his sister but still he tried his best to put on a good show for his parents.
"The second Alice was a fragile man of the Diamond," he began with an attempt at a low voice that made his hidden twin giggle, "the broken echo of the lies within demented words."
"He sang his twisted melodies to all in Wonderland; creating the image of the sick and the disturbed,"
Allen went on, as Riley crept out from under the bed and stood behind him.
"Deadly yet so beautiful, a voice just like a rose was shot by a madman who silenced him to death."
Riley clasped her hands into a gun shape and pretended to cock it, shooting invisible bullets into her brother like she was in a western movie, while muttering 'Pew! Pew! Pew!'
Allen clutched his chest and collapsed dramatically onto the carpet, lifting his head slightly as he sang his final bit:
"Single rose bloomed in his place, with no music composed with a twisted grin this dying man lay breathing his last breath." Allen pulled a bug-eyed expression, his eyes crossed, his tongue stuck out, completing his theatrical performance.
Not wanting to be outdone by her brother, Riley hopped up again to sing the next verse:
"The third Alice was an innocent girl of Club," sang Riley, holding the end of her nightie out like a tutu as she delicately pointed her toes, "An enchanting, graceful figure in the world of Wonderland."
Getting thoroughly into the role, Riley reached out for her sparkly princess tiara and placed it on her head.
"She charmed the people in the land to every beck and call," she pointed to her crown, "a peculiar country answering to each command. Consumed by paranoia of her own impending death."
Riley held her arms up in front of her, looking like a zombie in pyjamas. "Soon the queen succumbed to a dark and nightmarish dream. Disguised in kindness, loathing fate, she secured her regime," Riley finished.
Now Allen was the one to join his twin. They held hands and sang their favourite part of the song together:
"And as this passed, two children walked in the woods, partaking in tea underneath the trees, they'd never part." Riley and Allen slung an arm around each other and mimed drinking tea, their pinkies in the air.
"They found an invitation to the queen….," both paused, and their parents leant forward waiting for them to go on.
"IT WAS THE ACE OF HEARTS!" they shouted, throwing their hands up and shaking them as if they'd won a million dollars. Allen held down the urge to laugh at how much fun he was having.
"The fourth Alice was a duo of curiosity, both were lost and could not find the boat where they began." Allen and Riley peered around the room, ducking high and low, pretending to search.
"So they ran through countless open doors so recklessly."
Without saying a word, Riley sprang up onto her bed, making it bounce so hard that her mother almost toppled over. Allen followed his twin on their new stage.
"A brother and a sister running wild in Wonderland."
Riley wrapped her arms around her mother's neck. Allen mirrored her on the other side.
"A stubborn older sister." Riley sang.
"A witty younger brother." Allen sang.
They let go and catapulted off the bed, sticking their landing at their dad's feet.
"But they had strayed too far into Alice's Wonderland. They were never woken up from their terrifying dream. Forever they would wander in this twisted fairytale!"
They bowed, ending their show. Their father clapped wildly, full of pride. The mother reluctantly clapped too, still uncomfortable with what her children were reading.
Riley and Allen each received a hug from their parents and were tucked into bed.
"That was outstanding, my little performers," their father told them as he kissed their foreheads. "You're going to become stars when you'll older."
"Will we, daddy?" Riley gushed, her face lighting up like a Christmas tree.
"I'm sure you will," he said, moving over to Allen's bed nearby.
"Do you think I can become a star too, Dad?" Allen asked timidly.
His dad ruffled his hair, making the boy smile. "Definitely, kiddo. You've got the stuff." Allen's dad bent down to kiss him again and joined his wife at the doorway. Allen watched as she stiffened when his father approached her.
"Good night, children," she said to them, worn out from her lively evening. She didn't look at her husband.
"Good night, Mummy!" the twins called.
"Sleep tight, kids."
Then it faded to black.
Whoa, Allen thought as he opened his eyes, it had been a while since he'd had that dream.
His clock beeped, signalling that it was now seven am.
Wide awake, he got out of bed and stood in the middle of his room, mulling it over. It had been a memory from when he was a kid. He still remembered his dad reading the book to him and Riley numerous times.
But he had forgotten that he had performed for his mother and father. And the feelings it gave him.
Trying to remember stuff from when he still had both parents was hard. Everything was hazy and blurred and it was difficult from him to recall when his mother had been happy.
One thing was certain. After their mother left, Riley and Allen never sang again.
And Allen found he missed it.
Allen realised he was still holding onto Ms White's photo. Once again, he saw the faces of Leon and Lola standing proudly in front of their work. He only had to look at them for a moment before he made his decision.
Picking up a pair of jeans and a shirt off the floor, he changed quickly and raced to the bathroom, pushing past his sleepy sister. He didn't bother to do anything about his hair and cleaned his teeth in record time. His sister was now banging on the door, grouchy with Allen for mowing her over like a bulldozer. He ignored her.
Running down the stairs, he met Annabelle in the kitchen, still in her dressing gown, with curlers in her hair.
"Allen?" she said, blinking sleep out of her eyes, "what are you doing up so early?"
He didn't answer her. Snatching up his shoes and his bag, he opened the front door wide and with a frenzied wave at his baffled step-mother, dashed out of the house. He made a bee-line for his bus-stop at the end of the road for school, slinging on his backpack as he ran.
When he got there, an old man was sitting inside the bus shelter, casually reading the morning newspaper. Allen screeched to a halt, wheezing, and struggled to catch his breath. Resting his hands on his knees, he felt a stitch forming in his side. The man looked bemused at the ruckus Allen was making so early in the morning.
Scanning the road for oncoming buses, it came to Allen that it was way too early for the school bus to show up as it didn't come till seven thirty. Allen couldn't wait that long; he had to get to Ms White.
Sucking in a deep breath, Allen took off again, making the long journey to his school on foot.
He arrived with a leaden feeling in his legs, blistered feet and his lungs on fire. The (fortunately few) early students stared at him as he limped to Ms White's classroom, feeling the bruises from where he'd slipped over a couple of times thanks to the morning dew. It was early for her too, but he knew he'd find her there.
Eventually he arrived at Ms White's classroom just as she was unpacking her satchel. He had to lean his body on the door for support.
"M-miss," he said, his voice raspy and shallow, "M-m-miss…"
"Allen? What on earth? What happened to you?" she asked, concerned as always.
"I-I'll join…" Allen could hardly speak, he was panting so hard.
"Pardon?" Ms White questioned politely.
"I'll join the loid group…."
Then he crashed onto the classroom floor, exhausted.