This short piece of story is somewhere between chapter 164 and the end of chapter 165. I'm no native speaker and this is my first fanfiction in English – so I'm still learning, like how to put words into the right order or punctuation.

Thanks to Dark Ice Dragon there shouldn't be any mistakes. If somebody does find a mistake it's totally my fault! Thanks again for your hard work!

Seira was cooking, Takeo and Tao were on some errands, Rai was sipping on his ever present tea and Frankenstein disappeared into his laboratory doing … whatever. That was something Regis rather didn't want to know.

That only left M-21. But where was that guy? 'No, he wasn't worried about how M-21 was feeling so shortly after Rael had hurt him that badly. It was his obligation as a Noblesse to make sure he was okay.

He cocked his head to look into the hallway and strained his ears if he could hear something indicating where the physically older male was.

"Balcony," said a soft voice and Regis' head snapped back to Rai who was still drinking tea on the couch. His cheeks flushed a little, as he spluttered his thanks and left the living room after a short bow to the other Noblesse.

On the balcony

Rai had been right. 'In the evening air, M-21 stood on the balcony, looking over the garden and the adjoining streets. He had a distant and pensive expression on his face, but then, he seldom smiled or seemed cheery. Smirks didn't count, because they were sinister most of the times. M-21 turned around to look his way as Regis went out onto the balcony. There was a moment of silence before Regis realised that he hadn't thought about a reason to intrude his privacy. So he said the first thing on his mind, a bad habit he yet had to unlearn.

"What are you doing?"

"Trying to figure out how much older you are than me," was the short but impudent answer. It was like a switch had been hit over and a smirk appeared on Regis' face. That was exactly the distraction he had been searching for on his manhunt for M-21.

"Can't you do some easy math? But that would figure … you don't have to use your brain much for your job," he started their oh so well-known bickering. He had waited for an opportunity to start it. It was a kind of paradox, but he always felt calm and a certain camaraderie towards M-21 after their fights. Even if he had been really angry before and they had both shouted, they still were on good terms afterwards.

"At least I'm not the one sitting in class every day. I don't need something like that, contrary to some kid I know," was the quick answer as M-21 joined the game that only the two of them knew. He didn't seem to be as eager as any other day, but Regis blamed the recently healed injury for that. So the words and insults were tossed between them, like they always were, getting more heated with every offence.

"I'm older than you!"

"But you didn't have you coming of age ceremony … so you're a kid."

"Perhaps, but I don't need a calculator to substrate two easy numbers."

Regis' mind raced, trying to figure out the next words M-21 would throw his way, in order to prepare a good comeback. Even so he was really pissed, heated with anger built up during their bickering, he enjoyed their conversation in the same moment. He always had the feeling that M-21 felt the same, due to small smirks and amused looks during their fights. But now he wasn't so sure about that any more.

Instead of making a sly comment on his previous words, M-21 remained silent and turned the other way to look into the garden once again. But he wasn't fast enough to hide the sad look in his eyes.

Where did that come from? Regis was bewildered. Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to call somebody stupid for not being able to do math when he had never went to school.

"I apologize. It wasn't my intention to hurt you … and I don't think, that you are that dumb," said Regis. Perhaps it wasn't most eloquent way to comfort somebody, but nobody could say that he didn't try his best.

"That's not it. I … I couldn't calculate how much older you are than me, because I don't know how old exactly I am," came the silent and slightly late respond to Regis' apology.

He lifted his eyebrows in confusion. "But how …"

"I'm a failed experiment, so there was no need to allocate information for me that wasn't essential for my assignments," was M-21's bitter remark. The hurt look didn't leave his eyes; even so he coerced a fake smile onto his face.

"I think, I am something between 25 and 35 years old. But it's rather hard to say, because the experiments could have changed how I age." M-21's voice was low. He didn't look back to Regis; instead he stared down into the garden, but Regis assumed that he didn't see the plants and trees but laboratories under blinding lights.

Regis left his place by the door and stepped next to the physically older male. He casually leaned his arms on the railing; even so, his chest felt disturbingly heavy at the sight of M-21's hunched figure.

"I'm really sorry that I brought this issue into our conversation," begun Regis in a slow and considerate way, testing every word in his head, before speaking it out loud. "No, let me finish what I have on my mind. Please," he held a hand into the air, to stop M-21 from speaking.

"Why don't you just take the middle of the possible ages until you know your real birthday? And for the date to celebrate your 30s … why not choose mine? I will become 200 and you 30 … it kind of matches, don't you think?" Regis held his breath, as he observed the profile of the other male. He had spoken what was on his mind anxious to find something to cheer M-21 up, but now he wasn't too sure on how he would react.

The ghost of a smile tugged on M-21's lips. For a few seconds he closed his eyes, before he once again looked to Regis. This time, the smile on his face was a genuine one which reached his eyes - though they were still clouded with the dark memories.

"Yeah, I think I would like that." Regis straightened his back, proud that he actual accomplished in cheering M-21 up. But he got suspicious as the smile of the other male changed into a smirk. And M-21 was really back to his old self as he teased: "And how exactly do you plan to get 200 candles on your birthday cake?"

I know: there is no way that a noblesse would make a birthday party with an enhanced human … but I liked the idea nonetheless.