The next few weeks were busy. It was agreed that the First Room, while important, was not a suitable place to live. So, after 9 and 5 did some scouting, the group relocated to a clock tower, abandoned and miraculously in very good shape. Long hours were spent carving and walling off rooms, workshops, storage and more. 2 focused a great deal of energy on wiring up electricity and collecting medical supplies should they be needed. 7 took the time to scout safe routes between the tower and both the First Room and the Library. Who knew, after all, when some information or supply would be needed from one or the other.
Once the watchtower was completed, 5 took to spending a great deal of time up there, and it was there 7 found him as the sun began its lazy crawl down the sky toward the horizon. "Hey," she murmured, drawing his attention toward her. "Mind if I join you?"
It was a conversation 5 had been trying to avoid. He had wanted to talk to her... to tell her he was happy for her and 9. He just hadn't been able to find the words. Now... now he had no choice. "Uh... sure. Sure, 7, that's... that's fine." Smiling, he scooted to the side, giving her room to sit before he settled beside her, close enough that their shoulders touched. "Something on your mind?"
"I've been meaning to talk to you," 7 murmured gently. "It just got so busy, what with getting settled here in the clock tower and all the scouting and building..." She gave him a long look. "5? You look like you're about ready to burst."
5 tensed, then drew himself up with a deep, nervous sigh. "7, I..." He steeled himself. "7, I saw you and 9, that night we were working on rebuilding 8." Her expression shifted to surprise, and he quickly put his hands up. "I... I'm not upset. Really! I understand. I was dead, and besides, 9 is good for you. He's brave and clever and... well, he's honestly everything I'm not." He did not catch the odd smile that drifted onto her face, words flowing from him as if a flood-wall had come crumbling down. "I just want you to know that I'm happy for you and I support you both and I am not at all jeal-MMPH."
He remembered seeing it in a book once; humans would touch their mouths together to show affection. They called it "kissing." It was a nice sensation, but he certainly had not counted on the burst of joy it sent through him, clear through his soul. He was dumbstruck when 7 sat back from him and smiled. "3 and 4 suggested that from a book." When 5 gave a sheepish smile, she sighed and smiled right back. "5... what you saw... I was telling 9 that he's a dear friend. I care about him, yes, but it's nothing like how I care about you. So... stop worrying, okay? I'm not going anywhere. I choose you."
Happiness swelled up in 5's chest and he couldn't resist pulling 7 into a tight embrace, overjoyed when she reciprocated. Maybe things really were looking up.
It was a few days later that 1 informed the others 6 had become very troubled, muttering and pacing in his alcove all night the previous evening. Lately he had drawn anything his heart desired, but no one could mistake the sudden onset of more visions, which were immediately a cause for concern.
Days passed, and 6 drew. The visions were strange and disjointed. He drew horrific mechanical beasts, roaming among trees newly taking root, lifting the body of the Machine, prowling in darkness and light. Faces, familiar and unknown, and numbers written on and on and on. It seemed as though he couldn't stop drawing, even when exhaustion made him whimper and slump.
Any attempt to pull him away or get him to rest was met with panic and frantic cries that "more would come" and "more would die." For days, 6 went on like this, until one day almost a week later when they found him laying quietly on the floor, paper scattered all around him and floor a mess of ink. He was deeply in his rest cycle and didn't so much as flinch when 9 gently moved him to his bed.
"What on Earth could all of this mean?" 2 was murmuring from nearby, carefully collecting loose drawings from the floor as 9 approached him. "Is he resting now?"
9 nodded slowly. "He is. I don't think I've ever seen anyone sleep so deeply. What was he drawing...?"
Frowning, 2 gave his head a shake. "Faces. Machines. Flowers, trees... he even wrote numbers, all kinds, on and on nigh endlessly. It isn't like he can really tell us, either. He's plagued by the future, but so childlike that he can't decipher what he sees." A sigh escaped him and he shook his head. "Even if he could... the very nature of what he is may prevent him from giving us a straight answer."
Slowly, 9 looked around. There was no denying that something big was coming. Not with as much as the disturbed prophet had drawn. "I believe you. I just wish this didn't send such a chill down my back. We'll just have to be ready, for whatever lies ahead."
A few days later, when 6 awoke, it was as if the odd cascade of visions had never struck him. He returned to drawing peacefully, smiling brightly at anyone who came to visit him. At least... until 5 appeared.
The artist stared at him quietly, and then muttered something lowly to himself, pulling out a fresh sheet of paper as he began to draw. 5 winced inwardly. Considering the horrific nature of 6's last vision, being the instigator of another was cause for concern."
It was the expression 6 wore when he rushed over to 6 with the finished drawing, holding it out with a brilliant, almost innocent smile, that threw him off-guard. "For you, 5!" he insisted, trying to push the paper into his hands. "For you!"
5 blinked, finally accepting the paper, turning it to view the drawing under 6's expectant gaze. The ink portrayed two figures facing each other, arms outstretched. The one to the left appeared to be wearing something... a bird skull? 7? His lens drifted to the figure on the right. One eye, and the other scribbled out to indicate it was not there. It was him. 6 drew him and 7? He gave the artist a puzzled look, but 6 just nodded toward the paper again. Obediently, 5 looked back.
How he had missed the third scratchy figure was simple. It was small, curled between he and 7's outstretched arms as if they were reaching to hold it. Bewildered, he looked back to 6. "6... what...?"
But 6 only smiled. "For you, 5," he repeated. "For the future."
With those words, he wandered off to some other project, leaving 5 to stand confused, looking back to the unusual drawing. What vision had 6 seen to prompt such an odd drawing?
For the future...?
What had he meant by that?