A little boy sat quietly on the edge of a white plastic chair, his pale emerald hair tied neatly in a pony tail trailing down the length of his back. He stared dispassionately at the various dolls and puzzles that had been placed in front of him on the large wooden table to gauge his responses and reactions to the items with emotionless grey eyes. The focus shifted to the one-way mirror with a blossoming of a hateful look that one would not normally find on any child that had lived a normal life. He stared intently as though hoping that his anger would burn through the glass and grant him freedom.
"I want to come out now." He said with no real emotion in his voice despite the vivid expression he adorned. Sitting in this room doing absolutely nothing had tired him more than anything else he had ever done before. He longed to leave the room; the entire building if possible. They told him that it was not possible. Not until they could tell society that he was fit to be merged into it. He stared at the mirror for a few more seconds until he realized that he was not going to be let out of the room yet and returned his gaze to the assortment of toys.
On the other side of the mirror, a young woman chewed nervously on the eraser of the long pencil in her hand as she stared at the little boy who had shut himself away in the deepest part of his mind where all the horrors he had witnessed could not touch him. For the past few days, she had tried to encourage him to show some signs of typical child behavior only to have it quashed under his uncharacteristically stoic behavior. She feared that he may never have a chance to leave this place if she could not get him to have some kind of breakthrough.
Intent on trying to see into the youth's soul; leaning so far onto the glass she risked falling through it, the young woman jumped at the soft sound of the door opening behind her. The fluttering of her heart calmed as she turned to see her good friend and colleague hesitantly enter with an equally hesitant expression on her face. A thick, vanilla-colored folder was being worried in her hands and the other woman shot it a distasteful glance before turning back to the person.
"They are pressing me too hard for any conclusive evidence to the boy's condition, Fennel." The woman said with a sigh as she slouched into an uncomfortable folding chair and peered at the child once again through the glass. Fennel took a few steps into the small observing room and closed the door behind her. "I know, Juniper." Fennel said quietly, moving through the last bit of space that separated them and rested a soothing hand on Juniper's shoulder. "Nobody blames you…or even him for that matter." Juniper sighed softly at the words as she watched the little boy tilt his head in an avian fashion while he studied a stuffed bear.
"Of course they wouldn't. Not to my face anyway." Juniper paused with another heavy sigh and looked away from the boy to stare into the crystal blue eyes of Fennel. Some mixture of resentment and defeat swirled in Juniper's eyes, but she quickly blinked it back and continued. "I know they all think I'm too soft for this job…to involved with the children that go through these doors, but just walling myself off from them for the sake of my paycheck seems even more cruel than the things that bring them here in the first place." Fennel sat across from Juniper and said nothing, only giving her friend a gentle and reassuring smile. When Juniper's father, Cedric, had been the head administrator here at Unova Children's Mental Hospital, he had had the same thinking process.
"You have to come up with something though…PSTD could be just enough for them to make some kind of decision." At Fennel's words, a spark of the passion Juniper had for this job flared to life and she shot her friend a hard glare that made Fennel eat her words.
"That is 'Surface Diagnostics' if I ever heard it." Juniper snapped, but calmed when she realized that Fennel was only trying to help. "Besides, I doubt even that would fly in light of his situation." She shuddered at the very thought of the things the boy had gone through and peeked back at him. Her heart went out to him more than she had ever let it go out to a child before and she cursed the chain of events that had lead him to this point.
"Even so, we just determine if they can function outside in normal society. Maybe that's the hardest part of this job, never really getting the chance to find out of our recommendations were the right ones or not." Juniper hated Fennel's logic, but couldn't deny it and stood with a heavy sigh beginning to escape from her lungs. The boy had spent more than enough time in the room and she figured that she would learn nothing more from him being in there another moment longer.
"I'll put it off for one more day, if I can. I want to be able to help him, but if I can't, then maybe no one can." Juniper let the ultimatum hang in the air before she stepped out of the room and turned a few corners to enter the room the boy was in. He still sat in the chair and turned with a methodical slowness when she entered.
"I do not like it here." The boy said as he stood and walked toward her. He didn't run to her and cry about that fact, nor did he yell and begin to throw a fit about it. She wished that he would let some kind of emotion show as she took his hand and led him out of the room to the small cafeteria where all the Temporary Ward Children ate.
"I know, sweetie." Juniper clenched his tiny hand and tried to think about something else. She blinked back into reality when a tiny brown blur rushed past them, squealing in unrestrained joy. The brown thing, a young girl possibly a few years younger than the boy, halted and turned to peek at them. He seemed to notice, but made no move to acknowledge the little brunette's existence. She stepped closer as though afraid and excited at the same time.
"Are you visiting someone, too?" The little girl asked when she finally stood in front of them. The boy blinked at the girl, curious at her behavior.
"I am not visiting anyone." He said calmly and the girl seemed to be crushed under the news. Juniper watched as the boy seemed conflicted on what to do about the girl's expression. It was a flicker of emotion that she had not seen in his three days here and she found herself holding her breath for what he would do.
"Sorry." The little girl breathed softly as she lowered her head and thought to move away. The boy could not understand the shimmering need to try and comfort her, and stood there for a little longer as he tried to decide just what to do about it.
"Are you visiting someone here?" He asked shyly, forgetting that Juniper still stood there beside him. He might not have liked the idea of her seeing him reaching out to someone else, but the girl seemed to blot out the adult's presence in his current thought stream.
"Yeah." Her voice was still soft, but her blue eyes twinkled with the ghost of the joy she had had earlier when he spoke to her. He shifted uneasily and felt a pinkish color spatter his cheeks. It was unfamiliar and he didn't understand it, but something about the confusion seemed right.
"You…could you visit me, too?" He said it in an even softer voice as though fearing rejection right before he had even finished his words, but the girl smiled at him and folded her fingers together.
"If I do, that makes us friends." She paused as though the idea of having another friend was the most amazing thing in the world, even if he was going to be staying here in a place that her mother said was usually a bad thing. "I am Touko." She leaned in closer to hear his name and waited. When he said nothing, she asked him directly and the boy hesitated for a moment.
"I am N." Touko grinned even wider but before she could really say anything, she heard her mother yelling for her as she stomped toward the two children and the currently forgotten Juniper. Touko looked at her mother as she came closer and then back to N one last time before she stepped away from him a few steps.
"Bye N." Touko said shyly before she rushed back to her mother, apologizing the whole time she approached. N narrowed his eyes at the two as the mother scolded Touko for just running off like that and remembered that Juniper still had a hold of his hand. He looked up at her startled face and blinked, once more emotionless.
"Juniper, what did Touko mean when she said that we were friends?" N asked, easily slipping back into his emotionless mask almost as soon as he was sure that they were alone again. Juniper stared at the boy and thought on it for a moment.
"Friends are people who look out for each other. They are there for you in the best of times and even more so in the worst of times. Friends don't see all the things you can't do and are glad for the things you can do. Having a friend is a very good thing." Juniper smiled as she said this, but the frown that formed on N's face killed it almost as soon as it formed.
"I do not think that I need one of those, Juniper." N sounded serious about it before he turned to glance down the hallway where Touko had just left
. . .
"Have you reached a decision regarding the patient, N Harmonia?" Juniper stood rigid in the light being cast on her as she presented her findings on the young boy. She had not found out enough about the boy to reach a decision regarding anything having to do with him, but she was certain enough to be able to reply.
"I have." She felt the words settle in the pit of her stomach. She suddenly felt like she was on trial, waiting to hear the verdict that would let her live or kill her. She shouldn't feel like this, though. It was N that was truly on trial here, but he could not stand in for himself and maybe she was just feeling all of the feelings that he refused to show.
"You have determined that the boy is not fit for interactions in daily life and have recommended that he remain here until such a day when he can be released?" The voice seemed to thunder in her ears, but she tried not to think on it. This was for N…for him to be able to face the demons that she was certain he was only keeping at bay because he had shut everything else out.
"I have." The proceedings continued for another half hour before she could finally leave. Her heart felt heavy, like it had been dipped in lead and tied to her feet. She heaved a sigh and walked out into the light of the sun that seemed too harsh and real to be the thing that she was sure all of the children dreamed of being able to run and play under.
'I'm sorry, N…I'm so sorry.'
AN/ The first chapter in my more disturbing plot line. I made exactly what was wrong with N very vague for now, but let it be 100% clear that no 'bad touches' were involved or ever will be involved...that's just plain sick. Other than that, hope you enjoy.