N picked at his food, scooting it around as though the motion would make the food go away without his actually having to stomach it. It also helped keep him distracted from the other children around him who were either too loud or too sedated to make him feel at ease. He didn't actually have to be here in this room filled with hyperactivity and daily routines that barely went noticed by everyone else…but he did. He was here for one reason and he managed to pop one overcooked mini corndog into his mouth and chew before scanning the masses of other children.

'His hair is too light…not him either…why does everyone have brown eyes?' N counted out all the things that eliminated the other boys here as he scanned them until he caught sight of the one he had been looking for. He tried to nibble on just one more corndog, but just couldn't manage and decided that he could use it as a means to get the other boy to talk. He has seen more than a few of them devour their food like they never planned on getting another meal and figured that he'd probably be about the same. He grabbed his food tray and moved toward the boy, who seemed to be aware of N's approach and blinked with slightly slowed sapphire eyes. Eyes that weren't as bright, but enough to further N's thoughts.

"You are Touko's brother, right?" The boy's face crinkled as he tried to catch a thought that was just within grasp but fluttering to erratically to be firmly gripped. Finally, the boy smiled a little and nodded.

"I have a sister named Touko. She visits me all the time." N made no comment, but could see why he was here and tried not to pay attention to how much effort the boy seemed to take to do anything.

"You should tell me about her…Touko." He waited patiently, allowing his mind to relax and sort out various ideas into order while the other boy worked on forming just a single sentence.

"Touko is my sister. She looks like me. Mommy says we are the same except I am a boy and she is a girl...and our names. I am Touya. She is Touko. What is your name?" N placed his hands in his lap and wiggled his fingers under the table in sheer annoyance. This was taking too long and was far more tedious than he thought it should have been.

"I am N." Touya took a sip from the tiny milk carton and seemed to be thinking while he did so.

"N…N is a letter, not a name." N scooted the tray in front of Touya's and shook his head once. He stood and stretched the tension out of his tiny body before focusing attention on him again.

"You can have them…I have no appetite." N stepped away as he listened to Touya attempt to repeat the word, finding it harder than it was worth, but did realize that the food was his now and started to munch on it with no more thought.

He had learned nothing more about Touko and that made him mad, but he refused to let it show as Juniper appeared to see how he had enjoyed eating with the other children. It was just another routine that annoyed him; even more so because it was as though Juniper had taken it upon herself to crack the safe that contained his mind when he knew that anyone else would have been easier to fool into letting him get out of here sooner.

"So, how did you like having your lunch with the other children?" N took her hand as was expected and allowed her to lead him to the next room of the series of rooms in the schedule of his day. N took one last look at Touya before shaking his head once and continuing beside the woman.

"It was not helpful, Juniper."

"And why was that?" N scowled up at her as they walked but said nothing more on the matter as he counted the steps it took to be herded to the next room. Juniper could have…should have tried to prod harder for some kind of answer to his antisocial behavior, but their interactions seemed to have become some kind of waiting game in which N never gave her an answer if she was direct about it. She had to wait for the snippets of information he decided to pass on or let slip without realizing it.

"Touko did not come today, right?" Juniper caught the confliction in his voice and cast a glance at her watch as though the time would hold some kind of importance to that answer. He seemed too concerned about whether or not she appeared and sometimes she wondered if it would remain a good idea to let the girl come to visit him.

"I don't know, N." Little grumbles of general annoyance at her lack of knowledge passed his lips to accompany the scowl that was forming on his face and Juniper wondered what made Touko so special to N.

. . .

"Mama, I was good today, right?" Touko's mother heaved the softest of sighs at her daughter's voice. She knew that Touko was gauging for a reaction to make sure that the next question would be easier to ask if she thought she had been good enough to get that "special treat". Touko had been good, and maybe it was because Touya was still here recovering, but she did not like the idea of her constantly interacting with that N child. As a mother, she didn't need to know any kind of detail about what happened, only that something had and his behavior set off red flags. In truth, she had expected the boy to be overly mean or distant to Touko on that first visit, thus killing any future encounters, but N had taken to her about as well as she had to him.

"I suppose you have." A glimmer of unease rushed through Touko's face. That kind of answer meant that while Touko had been good, her mother was less than thrilled with the idea of visiting N. There was an extended pause in which Touko's mother watched her little girl fidget far too much against her mother's frame, uneasy and excited for a solid answer.

"So…can I go see N?" Touko's big blue eyes blinked up at her mother, an ocular beg that brought out a soft sigh from her mother as she finally relented.

"Okay." Touko beamed and jumped up a few times, resisting the urge to rush off just to be sure nothing would be changed. "But please don't take forever for a visit again." Her daughter nodded and before she could say anything more, Touko was racing down the halls in a brown haired blur.

. . .

"She's a pretty girl, isn't she?" N flinched at the smooth and deceptively cool voice and tried to pretend he hadn't heard anything.

"Do you think she'll save you?" The ghost of a hand settled on his shoulder; an invisible weight that he wanted to escape from. But he was bound to the voice and he knew escape was useless.

"Perhaps I should break her like the others." N's eyes widened, the familiar jolt of fear rushing through his spine.

"Perhaps you could help me this time."

"No!" N yelled, finally turning around only to see the usual bed and ghastly colors of the walls and floor. He felt his heart racing, beating like a frantic bird in his ribcage as he attempted to calm himself. This place was horrible, but it was safe. Juniper had said so and even though he disregarded most of the things she said, he held onto that one belief. And he wasn't here…or there. He was dead and in the ground and cold and probably being eaten by worms and other things that burrowed in the dirt.

"N?" N turned rapidly and stared at a shy Touko standing just outside the room with her hands behind her back and her head turned slightly down. He just stared at her, not daring to let any emotion appear on his face.

"What?" Touko attempted a soft smile and began to sway from side to side as she shifted uneasily on her feet. Her carefree display of her emotions annoyed him and yet he wished he was able to be as open and free as her.

"I wanted to visit. Can I visit?" N simply nodded. Shock bloomed on his face when she rushed toward him, a big grin on her face. Her arms extended as she came closer but just as she reached him, she froze and let her arms fall back to her side. Embarrassment brightened her face red and N gave her a quizzical expression.

"What…were you going to do?" Touko blinked.

"I was going to give you a hug." N's head tilted to the side in an avian gesture of confusion.

"A hug?"

"Yes." She could tell that N didn't understand and found it odd, but she didn't question why. "I wrap my arms around you and squeeze a little and you do the same thing to me. It's something that friends do. Mama says its so you can share your feelings without having to say anything."

"Why would you do that? If you just tell me how you feel then I don't have to guess." Touko frowned at his blunt reply.

"Maybe I should just hug you. You'd understand then." N stared at her with a challenging glare. He wasn't sure if he liked the idea of being caged in someone's arms, trapped against their form with no real escape. She stared back at him as though weighing the pros and cons concerning a hug and she took one more tentative step toward him before lightly wrapping his arms around him and pressing him against her.

She was warm…or was the gentle heat those feelings she was talking about? He could feel some kind of calm protection weaving through her friendly warmth surrounding him. She was happy and she wanted him to be happy. He winced for the briefest moment. He didn't deserve the kind of feelings she was trying to give to him and when she finally broke contact, he resisted the urge to tell her to go away.

"See?" N nodded just before Touko froze and turned her head to peek at the time on the clock. She then rose her finger to count out the minutes and after coming up with the answer, all the happiness vanished from her face.

"I promised Mama I wouldn't take forever." Touko looked torn and N's suddenly possessive expression didn't make things any easier. In the end, she scooted toward the door, hesitating as she looked at N.

"I'll come back." N nodded, blinking at her with his usual unreadable expression.

"You can hug me again…when you come back." Touko grinned and decided that it would be okay and scurried to Touya's room.

"You are letting her fill you with false hope my boy." N growled and tried to grasp at the fading feelings Touko had left with him, to cling onto something he was beginning to feel he needed.


AN/ Heh heh, it only too about a year to update this XD I loved writing Touya for some reason...more than I probably should have. Other than that, Enjoy!