When did the night time start?
Why did the evening fall apart?
The afternoon just broke its heart –
Where did the morning go?
--Robin Laing

I don't like this, said Snake. I don't. It's not fair to Dragon.

We can't do anything else, Dog answered.

I know, I know. Snake sighed. He never would. It still isn't fair, though.

I never said it was, Dog murmured, sitting down. I don't like it either. The best I can do is try to distract Dragon. It's sad, how he never smiles any more.

Dragon was always serious, Snake said.

Not like this. He watches the snow, and I don't think he cries anymore, either. Dragon is frozen. I miss him.

Snake sat down on the porch beside Dog. Do you remember, he said, the time I tried to dye Dragon's hair? He was so angry. But he laughed afterwards, too. Now he would just turn away.

Dragon would never have looked good with silver hair, Dog said, smiling sadly. Not everyone can pull it off, Snake.

Dragon can do anything, Snake cried. Except…except…

Try to be happy, Dog finished. He misses her. He doesn't want to keep doing. Moving on hurts.

Dragon's strong, said Snake. He could do it.

Maybe…Dog looked away.

Just then, Rat, Cat, and Riceball came home. They stopped, seeing Snake there.

Hello, Rat said, coldly. Cat bristled. Riceball smiled.

Little brother! Snake exclaimed, standing up.

Rat swallowed hard. Nii-san, he said. Riceball looked encouraging.

Snake beamed. Today, he cried, today we will spend time together! I will show you, little brother, the true strength of brotherly love! We will-

Be quiet, said Rat, walking into the house. We won't.

Snake looked sad for a moment, then smiled brilliantly, hurting but perfectly disguised. Do not fear! One day you shall understand!

Cat brushed past, and Riceball nodded politely before going in.

I'm sorry, said Dog. He's like that.

I know. Snake sat again, and sighed. I know.

It was that evening when Dog called Dragon. Hello, he said. Don't you want to come with me?

What are you talking about? asked Dragon.

The lake house! Dog cried. That is what I speak of, my dear Dragon.

We'll see, Dragon answered. I may be too busy.

You're always busy, Dragon.

Dragon laughed, sad. Maybe, he said. Maybe.

I do not own the characters or setting - it's set in before/in the beginning of Volume Five. How on earth did Shigure convince Hatori to come, anyway? Please review,even if you find it odd and pointless.