[9]

9 looked back at 3 and 4 who trailed behind him and 7, their eyes flashing as they conversed with one-another. 7 swore she could understand what they said, and it was quite simple really, but he wasn't sure he believed her. He could tell just by how they held themselves however that they were unhappy, perhaps worried. The same could be said for him, however.

"9?"

He looked back at 7, realizing that he had also slowed down, leaving only her at the front. He quickened his steps to regain his position beside her. "Sorry. I was just thinking."

7 grinned. "Worrying, more like."

They shared a laugh, but 9 sighed afterwards, and 7 took his hand. "What is it?"

He shrugged, but as she lead him to a spot he sat with her. They set in silence for a while, the twins noticing and simply resting themselves a small distance away and talking themselves.

9 finally spoke, "When was the last time 5 came out with us?"

7 glanced at him surprised. "Wh…?"

"Just…answer the question." 9 requested quietly.

7 stared at the ground, thinking.

After a couple minutes 9 sighed. "He hasn't come out with us since we got here, 7. Not once."

7 shook her head. "He's been working…" She answered lamely.

9 turned to look at her. "7, he hasn't been himself at all, and we haven't even noticed until now! When was the last time you even had a conversation with him? All he does is work. It wasn't that way before."

7 shook her head again, and met his gaze. "He's probably fine 9; you're just worrying too much. Why don't we wait up for him again tomorrow, ask him to come with us. If he won't come, then you can start worrying."

9 nodded agreeably, though he was slightly frustrated at her dismissive attitude. She could be right, however. They had a peaceful life now, why shouldn't 5 be okay?

Either way, he missed spending time with 5. Perhaps they could turn back for the day, take a break from exploration. They didn't have to go out every day after all. He looked over at where 3 and 4 sat, not looking around like usual. They wouldn't mind, he figured. "7, why don't we go back for the day? The twins don't seem to be enjoying themselves very much today, no point in wasting our energy…"

He could tell that 7 saw right through him, but never-the-less, she nodded and he was satisfied. "3, 4, lets head back in, spend a day inside."

They both looked up brightly, nodding their agreement, and walked beside 7 and 9 the whole way back. We were all quiet. When they got back to the house, it was quiet as well. It was mid-day. He figured that 5 would have been working now, but perhaps he had decided to take a break now that he had finished such a big project just yesterday.

Of course he wouldn't be surprised if he had already found a new project to occupy himself. "5? We're back!"

There was no response. 9 started up the ladder; the first place he could imagine him being at was the tower. Sure enough, 5 was sitting hunched over something. He reached out to put a hand on his shoulder. "5?"

5 jumped, his hands flying up and dropping a wrench on his leg. "OW!"

9 jumped back in surprise, before reaching to help 5 onto his feet. "Are you okay?"

5 recovered his breath and rubbed his leg gingerly. "You shouldn't sneak up on me like that."

"Sorry.." 9 mumbled sheepishly. Then he noticed that the burlap on his friend's leg was loose. "5, did something happen to your leg?"

5 followed 9's gaze to his leg and sat again, quickly refastening it. "Oh, no, it's nothing. Well aside from dropping the wrench on it." He stood again looked at his feet awkwardly. "Uhm, well what are you back so early for?"

9 shrugged. "We had enough for the day. It was getting boring."

5 raised one brow, looking at 9 again. "Oh really? What about the twins?"

"Well, I think they were worried about you." 9 said slowly.

5 Looked surprised, and stood up straight. "Worried? Why should they be worried? There's nothing wrong."

He seemed defensive to 9, and he backed off immediately. "Of course not. I...I don't know. They don't see you much anymore."

"Well…well I have work to do!" 5 said, gesturing to his supplies on the floor. "I can't be expected to do everything."

The harshness in his voice caught 9 off guard. Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea. "Okay…I guess I'll just leave you to that then."

As 9 left the room he didn't notice 5 take a step after him, wishing to apologize, before changing his mind and watching him leave.

[7]

7 looked up as 9 entered the room, looking disappointed. "Is he coming?"

9 shrugged, and sat with a sigh. "I didn't ask him."

"What? Why not?"

9 shook his head. "He said he was just busy. You were probably right, he has work to do."

7 hesitated, and after some thought she stood. "I'll talk to him." As she started up the ladder 9 followed for a few steps.

"I thought you weren't worried about it."

She looked back at 9. "I said that we would ask him." Without another word she climbed to the top.

7 regretted the impression she had given 9 earlier that day. She was ashamed that she hadn't noticed the problem, so she had defensively said it was no big deal. Now that she thought of it, 5 had seemed off for a while, but she hadn't noticed, or even paid any attention to him aside from when he finished a project he had to show to them.

5 was looking through his tool bag when she approached, and he looked up as she walked within his view. "Oh, 7. Did you need something?"

7 shook her head. "How about you? Missing something?" She gestured to the supplies on the floor around him, and he looked slightly embarrassed, quickly pulling the stuff in closer to him as if to make the pile look smaller.

"Uh, I was just…organizing." He shrugged and started putting things back.

7 let out a brief laugh. "5, you're already more organized than me. You don't need to clean up for me."

5 copied her laugh, still not quite relaxed. "Yeah…well actually, I was wondering if I could ask you and the others to watch for something next time you go out. Nothing too complicated, just a metal rod of sorts, maybe an inch and a quarter long…"

7 backed up in mock horror. "Whoa there 5! You don't expect me to remember that do you?"

5 looked rather put off, but shook his head. "No, it's fine. I can figure something else out."

"Or here's an idea; why don't you come with us tomorrow?" 5 went silent, and 7 took that as an invitation to continue. "You'd know best what you're looking for. I'd probably bring you something made of aluminum."

He didn't respond. 7 got a sly smirk on her face as an idea hit her. "You know, unless you're just scared."

5's eyes widened, and he shook his head. "I'm not scared, why would I be scared? I guess I could come I mean, I was going to do some things here but if you need me too I suppose it shouldn't be a problem…"

7 smiled widely. "Great! It's settled then. Be ready by daylight tomorrow." She walked to the ladder and started down, but before losing view of him she said to 5, "Are you coming?"

Guilt rushed through 7 once more when she saw the surprise in his eye at the question, but she pushed it down as he smiled and nodded, going to retrieve his tool bag first which he strapped over his shoulder. They both came downstairs where the others were excited to hear the news.

7 noticed how 5 seemed to walk with overly cautious steps, but she didn't ask him why. She'd gotten enough from him for the day.