A/N: So, this is my new story! It takes place after Seven Days, but I hope I could keep things pretty clear. It's from ∞'s point of view (for more info on her, read Seven Days) and I think the entire story will be, but I'm not sure yet. And don't expect all the chapters to be this long. There was just a lot of explaining to do. All right, here we go.

Disclaimer! I do not own 9 or any of it's content.


Deception

Sunlight glinted through the window, shining directly onto my face. I cracked open my optics, and slowly raised a hand to block the sun's glare. I sat up and stretched, pushing the sheets down to the foot of my bed. I slid out of bed, and breathed in the fresh morning air. Another dawn, another day.

I looked around my room. Everything was the same as I'd left it last night. The flowers were still arranged in the vase, my paintings were still laid out to dry, and sunlight was streaming in through the pale blue window.

There was a note waiting on my chest of drawers, but I ignored it. Every day, it was the same thing. 'Don't leave without an escort.' Boring, smoring.

I inspected my reflection in my full-length mirror for a moment. I flattened the fabric of my right leg out a bit and dragged a brush through my hair. I wrapped my little red ribbon around my neck like a scarf, and turned away from the mirror.

Once I was sure I looked presentable, I ran over and flung the window open, sticking my head out of it.

My scarf blew out the window a bit, catching the wind. I leaned out, loving the feel of the fresh morning air on my fabric. I waved as a huge dragonfly zoomed past. "Good morning, Mrs. Deetle," I cheerfully greeted.

The world was humming with life today, bees buzzing from flower to flower, butterflies lazily meandering along on the breeze, even the occasional songbird flitting through the trees.

I scanned the courtyard for my family, and when none of them were in sight, I slipped out the window. I leapt down onto the roof overhanging our porch, then to the ground. My parents didn't like me jumping out the window to get out of the house, but if was faster than taking the stairs.

"Oh, Weredy," I called, stepping slowly and gracefully forward. "You can never hide… from ME!" As I said me, I overturned a rock, revealing the small red newt underneath. I knelt down and rubbed her head. She never seemed to mind the feel of my coppery hands, unlike so many of the other critters.

"Do you know where Mum is?" I asked.

Weredy nodded her flat little head and began scampering off along the now plant-infested road towards the Library.

Of course, I knew the way to the Library by heart. I'd been venturing from my house to it and back ever since I could walk. I probably could've guessed Mum would've been there, but it was still early for me. I glanced at the sun. Maybe about nine thirty-ish.

I continued on after Weredy. Even though she was a newt, and I was a stitchling, we were best friends. Of course, the twins were my best friends, too, but Weredy was always there for me.

I continued to walk down the street, enjoying the sounds of nature. With all the happiness, it was hard to believe it had only been winter a week ago. I sang a little nine-note melody, which the songbirds repeated. I sang it again, and it echoed back to me again. I sang it again, but halfway through the fourth note, I felt it descending.

I felt myself falling, falling down a never-ending tunnel. And then, he was there. Wherever I looked, he was there.

That cackling monster, with the eye like a fireball, fallen down from the sky. He beaconed me, urging me forward. He needed my soul, and I would give it to him, since he was like me. Lost, and hurt, and lonely, and had already taken my friends and family and then, he would come down on me, but I would be stuck with the soul, half in, half out, writhing in agony on the ground, my limbs spasming out of my control. The pain seared and ripped me open, tearing out my insides, taking away who I was.

And then, it was over. I was lying on the ground, covered in dirt, Weredy bending over me, looking as concerned as a newt can. She cautiously brought a webbed foot onto my chest, almost as if to say, 'You gave me quite the scare. I thought it was very bad this time.'

"It's all right, Weredy," I assured her. "I usually get my spasms around now. I'm used to it, too."

She didn't seem convinced, but continued to walk alongside me. It wasn't hard for me to keep in step with her. Even though she was slow, I was slower, always stopping to look at the littlest things.

I picked a handful of those little yellow flowers with the rounded petals. The twins called them 'buttercups' but that seemed so… unceremonious. I always thought of them as the skirts of ball gowns, like the ones Dad had showed me when I was a little girl. So, I'd always called them Dancing Ladies.

Anyway, regardless of the name, I picked a handful, and mixed in a few blades of sweet grass for it's fragrance. Mum loved it when I brought her fresh plants, and I loved making her happy.

When we reached the Library, Weredy hesitated. The last time she'd came in, she'd almost dried out.

"C'mon, girl," I assured her. "There's a fountain in by the globe where you could swim around for a while, while I'm with Mum and Dad. Plus, if you need me, I'll be right next door."

Weredy nodded a bit, and entered with me. "Mum," I called. "Where are you?"

Weredy split off from me as I reached the globe and waddled down into the fountain. Mum rushed out of the Globe when she heard my voice.

"∞? What are you doing here? Didn't you get my note?"

"What note?" I asked innocently, pretending to have no idea what she was talking about.

"It said to stay at the house until your father was around to pick you up! I don't feel safe letting you out there on your own with your condition," Mum stressed the word condition.

"So what? I have nightmare-type visions. I know how to get here, Mum. And I have Weredy to watch out for me."

She sighed, stroking my hair. "I know, I know… I just worry about you. I love you so much, dear. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if you got hurt."

"I won't," I told her. I brought out the bundle of flowers and grass. "I picked these for you."

Mum took them from me and inhaled deeply. "Beautiful," she stated. "Just like you."

I chuckled a bit. "Thanks, Mum. It's really nice out today. Are you going to do some painting?"

"Oh, definitely. It's just so nice to feel the sun after such a long, cold winter."

I waited patiently as she collected her painting supplies. The twins ran up and greeted me.

Hey, ∞! 4 happily exclaimed. How're you today?

"Pretty good," I replied. "I had a spasm already, but it was a pretty short one. Mum and I are heading out to do some painting. You guys coming?"

3 rolled his eyes. Of course.

They ran off to collect their supplies, which was mainly their matching coil notebooks that Dad made for them.

It was funny; I could just barely remember a time when they'd towered over me. Now, I was just about the same height as them, and even a little taller. Mum and Dad had upgraded me whenever my soul outgrew my body, or I felt too mature for it, so I'd grown in my own way over the years.

Mum came out of the globe, pulling along a canvas, paintbrushes, and her set of oil paints. I ran over and grabbed a few of the tubes of paint, eager to help.

"Don't work too hard, sweetie," Mum warned.

I rolled my eyes. "I'm not a little weak bed-ridden child anymore, Mum. I'm practically an adult!"

"I just can't believe my little baby's already so grown up," she sighed deeply.

"Don't worry, Mum, I'll always be your little stitchling at heart."

She hugged me for a moment, before changing the subject. "Where in the Scientist's name is your father? I haven't seen him all morning."

I shrugged. "Me neither. You know him. Always off exploring, doing his thing. I'm sure he'll be back soon."

The twins suddenly rushed out of the globe, notebooks clutched against their chests, sunhats balanced precariously on their heads.

"I don't know why you guys wear those silly hats," I giggled. "They make you look so crazy! No offense."

Ever wonder why our fabric colors are so bright after all these years?
3 asked.

The sun bleaches you, hon,
4 smiled. I mean, just look at you! Do you even remember when your body was magenta? I mean, it's so pale now!

"I don't mind," I shrugged again. "I love spending time outdoors. I'll be more likely to figure out my purpose if I'm out doing things!"

What if your purpose is something inside?
4 suggested. I mean, I love teaching. And that's an inside thing.

"I just… just feel like there must be something out there for me!" I exclaimed. "I haven't really found anything I'm really good at yet."

"Your father didn't think he could do anything," Mum told me. "But in the end, he saved us all."

"Well, I haven't really saved anyone," I pointed out. "Plus, I don't want my purpose to be the same as Dad's. I need my own, special mark to leave on this world."

"Well, I'm sure you'll find it when you're ready," Mum told me. "Don't rush to grow up, honey. I never had the chance to be a child, but you should savor it."

"I don't want to spend my whole life a child, Mum," I told her. "I'm turning six this summer. Six years, and I'm only a teenager! Dad's sixth birthday was just last fall, but he's been an adult since he was born!"

"Yes, that's how we were made. You, on the other hand, got to be a child. Humans were considered children until they were eighteen. Don't worry, dear, you're still learning."

Jeez, Mum always ranted on about not rushing my growing up. I didn't really care though; she was right. "Let's just head out and paint," I suggested.

Outside, everything was as beautiful as it had been when I was on my way over to the Library. Mum set up her usual painting spot on top of a hill that overlooked Riverstone Fields. Really, they were just a series of meadows with the most beautiful foliage in all of our city with a river flowing through the center of them all, but (as usual) I gave them a name.

Huge metal towers stuck out from the long grass, and Mum had once told me of a time when the humans thrived here. I've always wanted to meet a human. They seem so cool! They were always inventing, always learning. And there were so many! I wished they were still around. I was sure I'd be great friends with them.

I don't know why I was so interested. Maybe it was because I have a human soul. Well, two pieces of the same soul spilt into nine parts, then melded back together. My Mum and my Dad gave me a bit of each of their souls. Mum explained the whole principle to me a little while back. It touched me to think that my parents were willing to give up a piece of who they were to create me.

And they also told me about my grandfather, the Scientist, who'd given his soul to my Mum and my Dad, and the twins, and all the others.

Yes, I know about Dad's "big mistake". Mum told me about it just after my teen upgrade. When I was littler, I didn't really know what it meant to be dead. I had a friend, a butterfly that always came to visit me that I named Darlene. She was my first animal friend.

When she died, I went and found her body. At the time, I was very young, just after my first child upgrade. I asked Mum why she wouldn't wake up, and she told me that Darlene was gone, moved onto another place. I didn't really understand at the time, but I get it a bit more now.

Mum set up her canvas, and began to paint. I sprawled out in the grass and stared up at the sky. It seemed so endless, going on forever, tantalizing me, since I was stuck here on earth.

I loved the stars. It was an odd thought, and I know that, but I loving imagining at night that there's life out there somewhere. The twins have told me time and time again, it's preposterous, but I don't care. I know that not all the stars are actually stars. There are planets, too, other planets just like earth, maybe even with other stitchpunks looking up at the sky, wondering if life was out there.

There was one planet, one that looked actually red in the sky. The twins told me it was called Mars, but that name is so boring. I call it Karomia. I don't really know where it came from, it just popped into my head.

A huge bee flew by, buzzing directly over me. I didn't really care about bees. Even though they sting sometimes, I've never been stung. I think all of nature likes me.

Mum was now partway through the first stages of her painting. She didn't remove her eyes from her work, but she called to me, "I think your father's down by the playground. Could you go check?"

I nodded, eager to get back on the move. Before Mum could assign me an escort, I rushed off. I wasn't in the mood for being trailed by a twin today.

As I passed by the Library, Weredy came out and greeted me again. We walked in step, back towards my house, but we went a bit farther.

The playground. Oh, the playground. Dad had made it for me just after I was born. I had grown up on it. There was a tube slide (made from a bit of metal pipe) and a swing set with little blocks of wood hanging from strings. I'd always loved the swings. They made me feel as if I were flying. There were lots of other little things, just doohickeys that Dad thought I'd have fun with.

There was a whale that he'd carved out of wood and mounted on a spring that I would rock back and forth on. I loved that whale, and I named her Bianca. She was still my favorite edition (next to the swings) at the playground, even though I was a bit too big to ride on her.

What I never understood about the swings was why Dad made two. I was the only one who ever went on them, since the twins were too afraid they'd fall off and Mum and Dad did their own thing.

When I was younger, just after Darlene had died, I had an imaginary friend. I called her Bryn, and she was always there for me. She used to sit on the other swing, but she would never swing on it. Just sit. As I got older, I found I had less need for imaginary friends, since I had all of nature at my fingertips.

As the playground came into view, I instantly spotted Dad. He was facing away from me, head bowed in deep concentration. Over the years, his number 9 had only faded a bit, but it was still clearly legible.

I felt terrible breaking the silence, but I walked up to him. "Hey, Dad," I greeted, sitting down on the swing. Every time, I always took the left swing. I don't know why, I'm right handed, but I just preferred the left one. Weredy climbed onto the other swing, holding on so she didn't slide off.

"Hi, baby," he said, turning around and walking over to me. He looked tired (as usual) but smiled when he saw me. "Let me guess. 7 sent you here?"

I smiled and nodded. Another odd thing, Dad always called Mum by her number, but with Mum, Dad was always just 'dad' or 'your father'. I didn't mind either, really. It was just odd how they sort of had their own different things.

"She's probably worried sick," he sighed and leaned against the frame of the swings. "Years ago, before you were born, or before 7 and I ever thought we'd ever have a child, she'd be the opposite of that. She used to be so flighty, always independent, off on her own, just being 7. But, she changed."

"Is there any reason you're here?" I asked, changing the subject. Usually, Dad came here when he had to think, or felt extra guilty.

"Not really," he rubbed the frame of the swings. "I couldn't sleep last night, and I kept thinking about how if 5 was here, how different things would be. You'd call him "Uncle 5" and he'd help me build stuff, and we'd laugh over lame imitations of 1, and just do stuff together."

"I know you really miss him," I placed a hand on my Dad's shoulder. "I do, too. You can't forget, I have your soul. You have so much guilt in you, Dad, a lot of that got passed down to me. I remember the others a bit, like a dream, but the one thing I really feel is your pain."

"Hon, I know you have those… those fits, and you say they come with visions?"

"Yeah, like nightmares when you're awake. Accept, they hurt me. That's why I twitch."

And of course, Dad asked me the question. "Can you tell me what they're about?"

"I would," I assured him. "It just… hurts too much to. I'm sorry, Dad."

"6 used to have visions, I think," Dad stated. "He never told anyone about them, either. I don't think he really understood them. But, he knew what was going to happen in the future. He helped me, he told me, he led me down the right path. And now, they're free."

"Dad, no matter how many times you say that, it's not gonna be true. You have to stop feeling so guilty and release them from your mind, as well. They're probably upset, knowing you blame yourself even though it wasn't your fault."

"Hey," he cut in, his voice sharpening for a moment. "Don't change the subject." He only ever used that tone when I was right, but he didn't want to admit it. "6 used to draw what he saw in his visions, and it helped us figure out what the Talisman was. If you think it'll help, you should draw what you see."

"But I see so much!" I exclaimed. "What if someone told you to illustrate one of your nightmares in two minutes?" I knew how complex his nightmares were, and we shared that overly-creative mind. "Multiply the difficulty of that by about fifteen, and that's approximately how hard it would be for me to sum up one spaz attack."

"Angel, they're not spaz attacks," Dad denied.

I raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me, I think having a fit on the ground, convulsed in pain can be called a spaz attack."

He sighed. "You've got 7's attitude in you, girl. I love you both so much."

I plucked Weredy off the swing and patted it, offering for him to sit down. When he did, I asked, "Could you tell me again about how you met Mum?"

He sat back and began, "Well, as you know, it all started in the Factory. 5 and I had ventured in there to save 2, but it hadn't worked so well. We were cornered by the Cat Beast, no way to escape, when we heard a sound.

"We looked over to see a ninja, with a bird-skull head. She leapt over and sliced the Cat Beast's head right off, and saved us all. When she leapt off we were all frozen, afraid that we would be her next victims. However, when she lifted her helmet, we all knew she had no intentions of hurting us.

"2 and 5 recognized her, but it was my first time ever seeing her. I didn't really know what to say; she was so beautiful.

"Some time during the battle, her shield had flown off and nearly hit me in the head, and it was lying right there on the ground. I brought it over to her and told her, "You dropped this." It was sort of a stupid thing to say, it was pretty obvious, but I was just at a loss for words. She put it on, and said to me, "Where have you been hiding?" I was going to respond, but she moved away before I could get a word in. However, I knew that this wouldn't be the last time I spoke with her…"

I loved Dad's stories, but I knew them off by heart. I'd heard this one a million times, but I still listened to him. Weredy was beginning to struggle in my grasp, so I let her go.

Once Dad's tale was over, I reminded him, "Mum sent me to fetch you ages ago. She probably thinks we're both dead by now, or something."

9 chuckled. "Just like her. We should go, then. Are you gonna get your newt?"

I shrugged. "Weredy can come if she wants to, or she can stay. It's up to her."

Dad and I walked back towards Riverstone Fields. He continued to speak of many interesting things, just little things that usually wouldn't cross my mind. He pointed out shapes in the clouds, and showed me a ladybug with no spots, and picked a handful of flowers called violets for Mum.

Of course, once the hill came into view, Mum was pacing, and the twins were still lying on their backs, faces hidden under the brims of their hats. When Mum caught sight of Dad and me, she sprinted up. Without even stopping, she engulfed us both in a hug.

She released Dad and focused her motherly attention on me. "Oh, darling, are you hurt? You had another fit, didn't you? We should get you back inside…"

"Mum, I'm fine," I assured her. "Dad and I were just talking."

She shot him an angry glare. He smiled sheepishly, leaned in and pressed his lips to hers. Her glare faded, and she wrapped her arms around his neck again. The best thing about my parents was that they never fought for very long.

4, who had suddenly taken an interest in Mum's painting, looked over at me. Fin, did you see this? she called. It's amazing!

I walked over to see the canvas. What had been blank half an hour ago was now covered with beautiful blues and greens. I saw a waterfall, with stones beneath it, and green shrubbery all around. The water had taken a form, though. It looked like a stitchpunk, forming a tall and slender body, blending into the rest of the water at the top and bottom. She was toying with a strand of her long, watery hair, and looking very contemplative.

"It's beautiful, Mum," I told her, sensing her presence hovering over my shoulder again.

"It could be better," she dismissed. "The face doesn't look quite right, and the water doesn't look real enough."

"Are you crazy? It's perfect just the way it is."

Mum looked at the painting again. "Well, I guess you're right. It'll have to do for now. I'm heading in to cool down for a bit. You guys wanna come?"

The twins eagerly nodded, but Dad and I exchanged glances before he said, "Actually, hon, I think ∞ and I are gonna stay out for a bit more."

"Don't get heatstroke, or anything," Mum warned. "I don't want to find anyone unconscious today, all right?"

"We'll be fine, Mum," I insisted.

She didn't seem convinced, but packed up her painting supplies and headed back to the Library.

Dad and I walked off, down along Freeman's Lane. There was a path made out of flat stones that we walked down. I skipped over every crack, trying my best not to trip. I spread my arms and balanced on one foot for a moment, before stumbling forward and giggling. Dad smiled a bit at me. I could be so ditzy and random when I was in a good mood.

"Is there any reason you wanted us to come out here?" I asked after a little while of walking.

"… Kind of," he replied. "7 and I were discussing how much time you spend out here with the animals, and we were wondering… if you ever feel lonely?"

"Lonely?" I repeated. "I have all the world to be my friend! There's Weredy, and Bianca, and Mrs. Deetle, but she's sort of stuck up. She doesn't even wave back these days…"

"I mean, do you ever wish you had more stitchpunk friends?"

"I have the twins," I told him. "That's all I need, right?"

"I suppose," he stated. "Would you ever… what would you think if 7 and I decided to have another child? Don't think it's 'cause you're not good enough, we'd just love for you to have a sibling, if you'd like."

"Another friend…" I whispered. I'd spent my entire life with only four others of my kind. Mum, Dad and the twins. Now, he was saying they might have another baby? It was huge, but I didn't know. I would love to have another 'punk friend, but having it be my little sibling?

"Uh… I don't ever feel like I need a sibling," I slowly said.

"Oh, well, that's ok dear; I just wanted to see…" he interrupted. "Forget I ever said anything."

I was going to say that if he and Mum really wanted another baby, they could go right ahead, but he didn't seem to want to talk on the subject anymore.

We'd reached the end of Freeman's Lane and turned off onto the Cobblecode Loop. It would lead us right back to our house.

"Dad, what was it like building our house?" I asked.

"Well, with you toddling around, 7 and I knew that we couldn't stay living on the shelf we had over in the Library. You'd always find a way to get out of that crib, and you'd be getting into all kinds of trouble. So, 7 and I decided to build a house.

"We found a bunch of wood that used to be a picket fence, and started to make it into a two-story building. You know what happened. We have the front room, and then the office, with that table we made. The stairs were sort of hard, since it took a lot of patience to cut them all the same distance apart.

"Upstairs, there's your room, and 7 and mine, and the spare room where the twins sometimes stay. We made all the furniture ourselves, and it just feels so amazing to look at it all and think, 'we did this'."

He wrapped an arm around my shoulders as our little home came into view. "And, we've been living here since."

Just as I was about to open my mouth to compliment his design, a shrill shriek broke out through the day. The usual hum of nature silenced. The birds stopped singing, the bees all froze, and everything seemed to go still. I knew that sound better than anything.

I turned my gaze skyward and caught the silhouette of the one thing that threatened our existence. Jastreb, I called him. But everyone else just called him The Hawk.

"Get down," Dad hissed, gently shoving me down behind the curling edge of a metal sheet. I hid in the shade, which was scarce since the sun was so high. Jastreb let out another cry and circled around, still looking for prey.

I felt my mechanical heart pounding against my chest, making so much noise I was sure he'd hear it. Usually, he picked off small rodents, but a stitchpunk would be a great snack, too. All right, he probably wouldn't eat us since all the fabric, but we'd be easily mistaken for a small animal from the air. And we all knew he had that lethal way of picking animals up so that the instant he grabs them, they're dead.

Dad pressed my head to his chest, trying to cover my faded magenta body with his plain burlap one. All the rapid breathing brought me very close to another fit, but I managed to push the disgusting darkness away so I could focus on not being Hawk-meat.

I held my breath and scrunched my eyes shut. I wished for it to be over, for Jastreb to head off and find something else to scare off. I felt something small and light touch my leg. I brushed it off, but it returned.

I cracked open my eyes just enough to see the huge black spider with two of its eight legs resting on my left one. It blinked at me with it's six eyes, and raised one of its legs in greeting. I couldn't conceal it anymore.

I let out an ear-piercing scream, possible even to compare to Jastreb's. I hate, hate, hate, hate spiders. They're so freakin' gross! And one was on my leg!

Dad slapped a hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. He kicked the spider away, and I stopped screaming, but it was no use. Jastreb already knew where we were, and there was no escaping him now.

I heard two great flaps followed by the heaving thump of Jastreb landing. I curled into an even tighter ball, and clenched my eyes shut. Dad pressed me closer to his chest, but we both knew that any moment now, Jastreb would pry the metal away and kill us both.

I was sure we were dead meat, when I heard a cry from farther away. It sounded just like Jastreb, but louder and meaner.

I risked opening my eyes enough to see the huge bird look up at the sky. The shadow of another flying creature was visible on the ground, and I tried to catch sight of it, but it was too close to the sun.

All of a sudden, something whizzed out of the layer of the clouds. It shot down, speeding like a rocket, but popped open it's wings and avoided hitting into the ground. It swooped over and lashed out at Jastreb. Seeing the two big birds side by side, I could see that this new one was much bigger than Jastreb, and with a white head and tail. I decided to call her Orel, and she was the only one who I'd ever seen stand up to Jastreb. It was amazing!

The smaller bird began to withdraw, flying off with an odd tilt to one wing. Orel caught a small rabbit, then flew off in the opposite direction of Jastreb.

Dad finally opened his eyes. "Ok, let's get inside before he comes back. That hawk is dedicated. He'll do anything for food."

He ushered me back towards our house, eyes still searching the skies for either of the birds. "That was so cool!" I exclaimed. "Did you see how Orel just swiped right down at Jastreb? He didn't even stand a chance!"

"Listen, honey," Dad turned around so he was looking me straight in the eye. "I just want to get you to safety. We'll talk about those birds later. Let's go."

I let myself be pushed back into the house. I didn't feel like talking anymore. I walked silently up to my room and shut the door. Not slammed it, just shut it gently. I heard Dad calling my name, but I ignored him. I wanted to be alone. I shut the window, blocking out the sounds of nature, and pulled the blind.

Flicking the light switch on the wall, my room was illuminated by a dim pink glow, coming from a string of Christmas lights hung along one wall of my room.

I felt another convulsion coming on. All the excitement from the bird's battle had triggered it, I think. I took the time now to move all breakable things out of the way.

I lay down on my bed, and surrounded myself with pillows. I took a deep breath and let the darkness descend down on me.

He was there again, a streak of red in a world of black. He moved fluidly through the air, like water or smoke. He immersed me in two smoky arms, causing my soul to shudder and leap into my throat. He stroked my cheek, almost as if he were urging my soul out of my mouth.

He brought his lips to my ear, and whispered, "With me…" The blackness began to swirl with colors and cackling, and hideously twisted faces, and an endless pit, an abyss from which no one could escape, not even me…

I took a deep breath and sat up. It felt as if I were surfacing from underwater. I struggled for breath, and clutched at my chest. All the pillows had been thrown around, and the sheets lay in a tangled mess at the foot of my bed.

Dad was knocking on the door. "Hey, angel, is something wrong?"

I ran over and opened the door. "No. Nothing. I'm fine."

He saw through my charade. "You had another vision didn't you?"

I hung my head a bit. "Yeah."

"Sweetie, you can tell 7 and me about these things," Dad wrapped me in a hug. "We're your parents."

I managed a small smile. "I know."

He clarified, "From now on, you'll tell 7 and me when you have a vision?"

I looked truthfully up at him. "Yes, Dad."

He smiled again. "That's my girl. Now, let's go find 7. I'm sure she's worried sick over us—again!"

I couldn't help but giggle. Dad was probably my best friend (that wasn't the twins or Weredy) and he always knew how to make me smile, even if I was on the verge of tears. Mum must've been very lucky when she met him.

We walked along the road in silence for a while. Weredy had taken her place trotting along beside me again, and did a pretty good job keeping in step with me, even though I was walking faster than usual to keep up with Dad.

"Hey, Dad," I called, running a bit to catch up with him. "Do you ever wonder if there's other stitchpunks out there?"

"Well, as you know, 7 and the twins and I were all made by the Scientist," he stated, continuing to walk. "But as far as we know, he only created the nine of us."

"But what if he had colleagues?" I suggested. "They could make their own 'punks, too! Right, Dad?"

"I suppose," he pondered what I'd said for a moment. "It would be interesting to meet others. I don't know, honey. There could be."

"I wonder if there's anyone out there like me…" I looked up at the sky. Two songbirds trailed around each other, singing variations of my nine-note melody. "Someone who loves nature, and wonders about things, and maybe even has visions, or else can accept me, visions or not."

"I'm sure there's someone out there for you, bud," he leaned over and kissed my forehead. "But it almost sounds like you're looking for love."

"Not love," I stated, "Just a friend."

He smiled approvingly. "That's my girl. You don't want to have to grow up fast, like me. Less than half an hour after I awoke, I was—"

"Attacked by a Cat Beast," I replied. "I know. And you've taught me to live as a child, still. I don't really need to grow up just yet, do I, Dad?"

"That's up to you. If you want us to treat you like an adult, just say so. But, if you're still enjoying the life of a child, you can stay for as long as you want."

My favorite thing about my Dad was all the freedom he gave me. "What if I did find another stitchpunk, someone like me, someone that I really loved?"

"Well, for you to love him, he'd have to be a very special someone," Dad jokingly stated. He knew I loved everything, from the smallest twig to the tallest tree (which wasn't very tall yet, only a few feet) and everything in between.

However, I meant a different kind of love. Like the one he and Mum shared. The kind of love I read about in the twins' books. The kind of love where my heart would leap in my throat, and I'd be lost in his eyes, and we had no need for words, since our love was so strong…

"Hey, is everything alright?" Dad clarified.

I shook my head to clear my thoughts. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Just lost in thought, I guess."

Dad sighed. "Well, we should probably be getting home pretty soon. 7's gonna kill us when we get there."

I shrugged. "Only a little bit."

As we walked on, Dad looked at me funny. "How can she only kill us a little bit?"

I rolled my eyes. "She's Mum! Do you even have to ask?"


A/N: Lots of talking in this chapter. LOTS. Anyway, leave a review if you think I should continue. And this is going somewhere, it's not just a summary of ∞ growing up. Ok, I think that's all. Thanks!