Vanya knocked on her brothers door with a strong fist. Three quick knocks. Their secret code.
Well, the kid's code, anyway. It changed almost weekly if their father ever noticed--he was too smart not to catch on--but it still meant something for them. Even Diego and Vanya, who were about as different as day and night. Diego opened the door very slowly, poking his head round the corner.
"Teach me how to shave."
Diego blinked, perplexed. "To shave?"
"Yeah. Teach me how to shave. I saw your razor left in the sink," explained Vanya, managing to hide her own proud smile. It hadn't been easy to deduct, and Allison would just make fun of her for not starting to shave earlier. It was a little strange that Diego, a boy, shaved his legs, but she wasn't about to point that tidbit out. Diego parried with haste: "How d'you know it's mine?"
It was definitely his. When Father had finally allowed him to join an after-school sport in town, he chose track and field. With his reputation, discus throw was out of the question, as was long jump, but short distance called to him just as much as the others spurned him. His teammates had taken to shaving their legs to 'maximise speed,' the removal of hair somehow proving legs more aerodynamic. After many, many Band-Aids and cans of shaving cream, Diego followed suit.
Vanya shrugged her shoulders. "Grace."
Diego scowled. Mom could be a snitch.
A few minutes later he and his sister had congregated in the smallest bathroom--one on the uppermost floor, far away from the others. The counter lay decked out in matching red towels while colorful cans of scented shaving cream sat by. Diego hopped up to sit on the counter and Vanya did the same.
Both sort-of teens wore their uniforms shorts, long legs exposed from mid thigh down. As instructed, Vanya set to lathering the stuff on her legs, and Diego filled one sink with steaming water.
"Okay," began Diego once all was done, "So, basically, you just take the razor and kinda pull it up your leg."
"Up? Don't you go down?"
"No." Diego rolled his eyes, as if she should've known. "Always shave against the grain." He demonstrated by snatching the razor and drawing a clean swath along her shin. Vanya nodded understanding and began on her own when Diego returned the device.
She worked slow, and Diego was painfully aware of it. He warned her of knicks and scratches but this was extraordinarily studious, like she was teaching herself with each stroke. Soon enough, her left leg had been mostly cleared of hair, lines of frothy cream the only evidence. Vanya beamed, felt along her leg after toweling off with one hand.
"Smooth," giggled the girl. Diego sniggered, shook his head. "Yeah. Smooth. Next leg up, c'mon."
Right leg took less time, but it meant more cuts. Vanya tried to pilot the moving blade around her knee, slipped, blood mixed with cream. The girl winced, brown eyes misting. It was little more than a paper cut. A painful paper cut.
Pulled from a bored lull, Diego tutted, like this were the biggest inconvenience he would ever face. Now he had to teach her how not to mess up the knees. She knew how to clean the cut, a fact which she made clear through hasty bandaging and confident glares, but acquiesced so Diego could shave the round of that knee for her. He worked in utter silence the same way as he watched. Vanya tried to follow suit, failed.
"... Thanks for this."
The Hispanic boy glanced up. Vanya's brow knit together in something like concern, but her features were too cloudy to decipher; whether she was embarrassed, thankful, guilty, whatever, he had trouble noting it. Diego grumbled under his breath. Tapped the razor into the water to clear it. "Someone had to," was all he begrudged his adoptive sister. Vanya's eyes bore holes in the top of his head as he finished her leg. She knew he didn't do it out of obligation. Diego knew she knew. But he didn't want to be labeled a sissy should Luther or Klaus discover.
Boys had a weird way with their emotions. Vanya sensed it much as Allison did. Neither of them, though, knew the ins and outs of their complexities which seemed to talk itself in circles--their solutions to strong emotions baffled her at best and downright alarmed her at worst. Outward gratitude would be lost on Diego. Whispering, Vanya rephrased her thanks in a way Diego would better accept: "I won't tell anyone."
Diego took his time answering. Vanya dried off, he leaned back on the sweet marble counter, damp from their adventure in basic body maintenance. Vanya acted like she had just seen a unicorn when she felt her newly smooth, strawberry scented legs, so pleased Diego found himself giggling with her. She caught him with an upward glance, still grinning.
"Shut up," Diego scoffed before she could take a crack at him. Vanya put her hands up, 'I'm innocent,' righted herself. After scoping out the hall, deeming it safe, they retreated to their respective rooms.
"Go to bed, you little demon." Diego gave Vanya a sharp push towards her room when she stopped by his. Vanya stumbled over her own feet on the way back, giddy, learned, contented with the moments of interaction she got. It was short and certainly not so sweet, but it was the times her siblings were not training that helped her connect to them the best. Even Diego couldn't hide the note of mirth, of affection, in his voice as he insulted her, then slunk back into his room, smiling wistfully.
Vanya got some of her best sleep that night.