Author's Note: Day Five is here, folks! The prompt is "Youthfulness" from "Primrose". The following story is more like a drabble compared to the ones I've posted for PokerPair Week so far, since the idea itself was originally intended for DGM Plot Bunny Round-Up. But once I saw the prompts for Day Five… I just couldn't help myself!
The title is a Portuguese verb. It means "to grow up". How thematic!
Warnings: PokerPair; Fem!Allen; Set during the Searching for Allen Walker arc; Canon Divergence (I think? Neither Johnny nor Kanda are here, so it could fit); Not compliant with canon; Age-regression; Established relationship (happened in the backstory); Borrowing Victorian morality and exaggerating it for plot purposes; Probable OOC-ness; Maybe crack?
Disclaimer: D. Gray – Man is owned by Katsura Hoshino.
- xXx -
"Are we there, yet?"
Ellen sighed at hearing that now familiar question. Her lips had to be stopped from twitching into a smile as she looked at the person walking by her side. Timcanpy, on the other hand, had no problem with fully displaying a wide toothy grin from his position on top of her head.
"It's going to be another hour or so before we arrive at the next town," the former exorcist gently stated. Then she noticed the subtly decreasing walking speed of her new companion. "Would you like me to-?"
The sixteen-year old raised an eyebrow at the immediate answer. "You didn't let me finish my sentence."
"That's because I know what you're going to say: the same question you've been asking since the beginning of the day."
"Well, I certainly have a reason for that," she huffed as she looked down at him. "You're getting tired, which means I need to carry you until we reach the next town."
"You? Carry me? Why, such a bold offer! But ultimately an unnecessary one, given who I am," he chuckled.
Ellen put the hand not gripping her suitcase on her hip as she dryly stated, "Well, what you are now is a child, Mikk."
The seven-year old scowled in response. "… Low blow, Shoujo," he groused after directing a glare to his de-aged body, currently clothed in a shirt, knee pants and suspenders they had gotten from a charity organization.
The white-haired girl shrugged her shoulders, then laid her suitcase on the ground to serve as a temporary seat. "It's the truth, or close to it. You might be a Noah, but whatever Jasdero and Devit had hit you with greatly limits your abilities at this time. Not to mention making you vastly younger."
Tyki viciously kicked a stray rock on the dirt road beneath their feet, sending it flying straight into a far-off bush. "When I get my hands on those two, I'll…" he hissed before descending into a string of muttered curses that should not be leaving the lips of someone who appeared his current age.
"Come now, no need to raise your blood pressure," Ellen sighed. She patted the space next to her on the suitcase as she continued, "If you won't let me carry you, then at least take a seat for ten minutes. Tim will keep tract of the time."
The now seven-year old tried not to immediately give in. But the fatigue he was trying not to physically express, combined with his natural affinity for idleness, won in the end. After releasing a sigh of resignation, he walked over and started snuggling into the teenager's right side. A contented huff left his lips as her hand soothingly stroked his hair.
However, a mulish frown grew once he tried to wrap his arm around her waist and came up short. "Why did they have to steal that potion from Mightra, anyway? Bullets are what they normally use to fight with," he said out loud, trying to figure out the reason for the twins' latest folly.
The white-haired girl let out a soft hum and relocated her fingertips to his temple for a massage. "I can't say, seeing as you know them a great deal more than I do."
She did privately speculate, of course, but those thoughts fell into one of two categories: 'they're too reckless to care about the consequences' or 'they're too stupid to realize them'. And ultimately, the inner working of their minds wasn't her main concern.
No, what truly baffled and preoccupied her mind regarding this situation was the intentions of one Noah: Wisely.
About five days ago, Ellen was shocked to find him and a three-year old Tyki in the room she had rented for that day. She was even more flabbergasted when the white-haired Noah revealed that they weren't there to bring her to the Earl, but instead have the sixteen-year old look after the child.
'Everyone else is too busy with the war,' Wisely said while lazily reclined on her bed. 'And you're free right now. Why not do something useful with your time?'
She had been thoroughly confused by the request, not to mention quite insulted by its delivery. Why did he think it a good idea to leave Tyki with her? There were so many reasons not to: she had Innocence, which could still harm him; she was being hunted by the Black Order, her former home; she was attracting Akuma left and right due to the Fourteenth trying to awaken; the Fourteenth, himself; she lacked the necessary resources to look after a child; she didn't know how to look after a child, despite Wisely's (and society's, sadly) assumptions it would come naturally to her because she was a girl… the list went on and on!
But no matter what she said – or screamed – the white-haired Noah refused to see reason and disappeared without so much as a 'by your leave', leaving behind a furious Ellen and mortified Tyki. So they had no choice but to get through this mess together.
'Well, at least he grows one year for every day that passes,' she sighed to herself, watching Timcanpy fly overhead in an ambling pattern. 'That's cutting down the number of… awkward bathing moments to a minimum. Of course, the downside to that is he constantly needs new clothing. Not to mention we can't stay in a crowded inn or hotel overnight; otherwise people will get suspicious once a child seems to suddenly age…'
Tyki noticed the prolonged pause her fingers were taking and looked up. He saw the far-off look in Ellen's eyes and tilted his head in confusion. "Hey, are you okay, Shoujo?"
The white-haired girl rapidly blink as she broke from her thoughts. "Oh, sorry about that," she sent an apologetic smile at him. "I was just thinking about the pros and cons of you growing up so fast."
"What cons? The sooner I reach my actual age, the better," he snorted, pressing his cheek against her rib cage. "I'm craving tobacco like you wouldn't believe, Shoujo. Especially since you won't-"
"Let you ruin your health and waste coin on cigarettes?" Ellen archly interrupted as she frowned at him. "Tyki, the only way for me to safely earn money is through my performances, so we can't afford spending it on items we don't need. And seeing as you can no longer choose not to deal with tobacco's nastier side effects… well, it would be irresponsible for me to buy it for you at your current age."
Tyki grit his teeth at her logic, but couldn't refute it. So the faux-child settled on squeezing her middle with both arms and hiding his sulky expression into the fabric of her coat.
Seeing that he was still upset, the former exorcist's eyes softened and she returned to carding her fingers through his dark locks. "Hey," she gently said, managing to get a blue orb peeking out to look at her, "don't forget that the effects of the potion are slowly wearing off. It might take near a fortnight, but you'll eventually be able to smoke again. Just be patient and that day will come."
A huff of dry amusement emanated from the Noah and his uncovered eye sparked with a slightly sardonic light. "Patience has never been my strong suit, Shoujo," he warned.
"Then take the time to learn," the white-haired girl teased as she bent down to lay a kiss upon the top of his head. She giggled at the endearing blush dusted on his ears before Timcanpy landed on her left shoulder and gently tugged on a lock of now shoulder-length hair.
"Oh? Are our ten minutes over already, Tim?" she asked while looking at the golden golem, who gave a soft growl of confirmation. "Alright, let's go."
Then, before Tyki could remove his arms and get off the suitcase, Ellen wrapped her arms around his seven-year old body, stood straight up, and started walking down the road again after readjusting her hold on him.
The Noah released a yelp at the sudden movement. He pushed his arms against the former exorcist's shoulders to shoot her an incredulous stare. "Shoujo, what are you doing!?"
"Since I know ten minutes isn't enough rest for your body, carrying you," she nonchalantly answered, eyes focused straight ahead. "Otherwise you would have tried to continue walking, if only to protect your pride, and end up even more exhausted by the time we reach town."
"What about the suitcase? You're just going to leave it in the middle of nowhere?" he asked in an attempt to get her to put him down.
"Oh, don't be ridiculous. Tim is handling it."
The faux-child blinked in confusion at her statement before he detected movement from the corner of his eye. Turning his head to see what was happening, his jaw dropped as he was confronted with the sight of Timcanpy – who was the size of a large grapefruit – easily carrying the very heavy suitcase… with just his tail.
"How in the world can he handle that?" Tyki wondered as the golem matched Ellen's walking speed.
"It's just how Master Cross designed him," she replied and lightly pressed her right hand against his back to get the small Noah to rest against her shoulder. His bewilderment was great enough that he did so without further complaint. Then she looked at her companion from the corner of her eye and continued, "And he's not the only one who can handle extra weight. After all, I've already carried you ever since Wisely dropped you off."
The faux-child growled and clenched his hands into fists, wishing that he could use his power to jump out of her arms. Unfortunately, that was just not an option. The most that happened was his skin turning gray, eyes becoming gold, and a small crown of stigmata appearing over his brow. "That was because my body was too… small to walk properly. I'm now able to travel farther distances on my own, Shoujo. So put me down."
Ellen stopped in the middle of the road and fully looked at him, surprised by not just his altered appearance, but how frustrated Tyki's voice had sounded. It was certainly a far cry from his usual demeanor during those brief, secret encounters they had before she left the Order. And while he hadn't been one hundred percent happy with what's happened, these past ten minutes have seen his mood approaching new levels of irateness.
'But wait,' the teenager's eyes grew wide with sudden realization, 'now that I think about it; hasn't he been acting oddly since we left the previous town? Where-'
"Tyki… being carried isn't the only thing upsetting you today, is it?"
That question caused him to twitch in response. She didn't push him further, instead rubbing his back as she waited for his answer.
Finally, Tyki relaxed his hands and sighed. "No…" he grumbled against her shoulder.
"Does it have anything to do with what those women said in the last town?" Ellen asked with concern.
Her hunch was confirmed by his answering nod, and she let herself drift back to the moment in question.
Earlier that day, they had passed through a moderately sized town with a proportionally large square. The white-haired girl had quickly capitalized on that feature, performing her acrobatics and tricks while the faux-child gathered money from the crowd (whether legitimately via their collection bowl, or illegitimately via pick-pocketing). Then, after the show was over and Ellen had changed back into her street clothes, he whimsically decided to tease her about her skin-tight costume and kiss her cheek while she was distracted. The act and her subsequent spluttering caught the attention of two elderly, and openly opinionated, women.
"Good Lord, Bethel! Did you see that? Honestly, what is the world coming to when young people do… that in public?"
"Now, Agnes, you're overreacting. That's not a young man kissing his sweetheart; just a brother showing affection for his sister."
The white-haired girl, thoroughly mortified, quickly gathered up their possessions and they left the square immediately, then exited the town after grabbing some cheap food for the journey. She had noticed that Tyki remained quiet long after the women's comments, but quickly assumed that he hadn't cared about what they said and moved on to contemplating other, more important matters.
But now she understood that that hadn't been the case at all. That misunderstanding of his kiss had struck a raw nerve; one that had been recently and repeatedly battered by how strangers treated him like a child despite his true age. How longtime habits were now denied until he could at least pass for a teenager. How his body was, in a strange and frustrating way, not truly his.
'And here I am, rubbing salt in the wound,' Ellen bit her bottom lip as guilt started to well up. 'I didn't mean to insult him with continuing the carrying. He really was tired! But still…'
"I'm sorry, Tyki," she whispered in an apologetic tone, leaning her head to gently bump his.
The Noah blinked and tried to look back at her, but their positions prevented him from doing so. "For what, Shoujo?" he asked with bemusement.
"For thoughtlessly treating you like a child, just now," the former exorcist confessed, causing her companion's eyes to widen. "I didn't intended to do it, it's just… I knew the ten-minute rest wasn't enough for you, but I also knew you were stubborn enough to continue walking. So I decided it would be best if I… took it out of your hands. I-I didn't consider how you felt at all…"
Tyki brought his arms around her neck for a hug. "Don't apologize, Shoujo," he comforted the somber girl. "I know you were only trying to help. That's not what I'm truly mad at." His diminished black side, which had switched with his white side while she was talking, once again flared up as he growled, "No, I'm just- I'm sick of this body. I haven't been able to smoke or drink. Neither of us can play cards because I'm a probable hostage for anyone we beat. It's harder to tell Akuma to stay away from us. But what I truly abhor… is that I can't kiss you like I want to. That the most physically intimate gesture we can do so far is hug, which other people find cute because I'm a child in their eyes. In the eyes of the world… And yes, it's wearing off day by day and I should be able to bear it until puberty-"
"But I can't. Not when you're right here, yet rendered untouchable in the sense I so badly want to indulge in."
Ellen felt her face heat up in embarrassment at his last statement, but her heart ached at his angry yet weary tone. Then she got his attention by murmuring into his hair, "You're not the only one who misses it, Tyki. After you and Road broke me out of the Black Order's dungeons, a month went by without me being able to meet you anywhere that wasn't my dreams. And when we finally have reunited, it's been under… less than ideal circumstances."
"But you know what? Despite you not having your adult body, the fact that you're here at all brings me the most joy. If I have to wait a while for us to fully kiss, I'll gladly do it so long as we're together," she smiled before pressing a kiss against dark locks.
Warm and intense emotions triggered by her loving words engulfed the faux-child's body, and for a while he could do nothing else but cling to her as he waited for them to become glowing embers rather than raging wildfires. "Wow, Shoujo," he softly laughed, body settled into his white side once again, "Two comforting sessions in the span of about ten minutes. Either I've become too childish, or you have grown up since that day."
"You're not childish; just under stress. And as for me growing up… I still have a ways to go. However, I do want to thank you for having a hand in it."
"You're welcome, Shoujo," the Noah smirked, then noticed Timcanpy still hovering with the suitcase a few feet away. "And on that note, we should probably get going if we want to get to the next town before sunset."
"Ah, you're right. Sorry, Tim," the white-haired girl apologized to her golem, before looking at the seven-year old in her arms and asking, "Do you still want to walk, Tyki? If so, I won't stop you this time."
He let out a yawn and replied, "Actually, you can keep carrying me for a while. I think I need a nap."
"I see," Ellen hummed, feeling quite amused. "Feel free to take it, then."
"Right. Wake me up in thirty minutes, Shoujo."
"Alright, Tyki. Sweet dreams."
The Noah mumbled in reply before sleep claimed him, leaving the only sounds further produced by him to be that of his breathing.
The former exorcist smiled and shook her head before carefully readjusting her grip. After she turned her head to nod at Timcanpy, signaling that it was time to move on, the strange trio resumed their journey with no true final destination.
But for those like Ellen and Tyki, it wasn't where they were going that really mattered.
It was who they were with.
- xXx -
Huh, this is the first story I've done without cultural notes at the bottom. Well, I could always elaborate on Victorian morality here… but I think that topic is so familiar to other people and has so many books on it that my talking about it here would be unnecessary.
Instead, let me give you an example of one book that touches on Victorian morality, but is also very entertaining to read – Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners. The author, Therese Oneill, has gathered the most absurd advice actual Victorian "experts" (i.e. anyone – especially men – who got access to a printing press, from my general impression) gave real, living women regarding how to live their lives (which included smothering amounts of shame) into one place. Granted, this is not an accurate reflection of how most women in the 19th century lived their lives. But if you want to read the wackiest beliefs regarding women of this era, as well as being delivered in a whimsically satirical tone, this is your book. I'm certainly enjoying my copy!
Thanks for reading this story! Please leave a review or a PM if you have anything to say! Bye! Tchau!