Oz stumbled down the sidewalk trying to get from his house to the hospital as fast as possible. One hand was pressed over his left cheek in an attempt to stop its bleeding, the blood slowly seeping between his fingers, and the other hand was pressed to his stomach as he tried to force back his nausea. He had a relatively high pain tolerance but the gash in his cheek was deep and it hurt like hell. His father, Zai, had been in a particularly bad mood this morning.

If his goal had been hurting Oz as much as possible with what was at hand he had succeeded – passed with flying colors, even, since Oz would have never predicted that the antique vase that had been decorating their dinner table, filled with withering flowers, for as long as Oz could remember, would meet its end smashed against his head.

Zai, in a sudden fit of rage, had lifted it from its where it'd sat, never moved, never so much as touched – revealing a ring of water damaged wood – and swung, fast and hard, at Oz's face, catching his cheek and jaw, just barely missing his eye. While that had been entirely unexpected, what he could have easily predicted was the aftermath; Zai, forcing him to pick up the shattered pieces of vase that hadn't ended up lodged in his cheek. Now, fifteen minutes later, his cheek and jaw throbbed and he was feeling light-headed from blood loss.

Nevertheless, Oz wasn't one to complain, not much anyway – not aloud. He hadn't uttered a single word of protest as he'd gone sprawling onto the floor or as cuts had formed on his unprotected fingers and drops of blood had fallen from his cheek to stain the wood of the dining room floor.

He supposed anyone else might think that he had plenty of reasons to scream out an endless stream of complaints but the fact of the matter was that he had, at a very young age, come to accept that this was his life whenever his father was home, rather than away on business, and he really didn't see any point in being bothered by things both deserved and unstoppable.

A block from his home Oz had to come to a stop; he lived rather close to the hospital but it was still three blocks away. He felt a flash of panic, wondering if he'd be able to make the rest of the trip. His light-headedness had gotten worse. The street was swimming before his eyes and he felt as though he might throw up. Trying to calm himself and steady his vision he started taking deep breaths, his eyes closed against the moving scenery. He needed to regain control of his body. However, within seconds his stopping he was slammed into, sent careening backwards for the second time that day, the back of his head hitting the concrete of the sidewalk with a dull, painful thud.

"Oh. Oh, ow. Okay, that hurt," The boy who had crashed into Oz muttered. Oz opened his eyes a crack, tears were welling in them and his mouth was twisted up into a grimace. He watched as the boy repositioned himself, pushing himself up and sitting, straddling one of Oz's legs, a hand raised so he could press its palm to his forehead. Oz scrubbed at his eyes with the back of his unbloodied hand, rubbing away his tears so he could see properly and, dropping it to his side, he raised himself onto his elbows. Before him was a boy with wavy, black hair, pale skin, and eyes to color of gold. Familiar eyes. Where had he…

"Shit!" Oz exclaimed. He knew those eyes, he would discreetly stare at them for an entire class period, fascinated by their color, on the days that he attended school.

"Oz?" The boy – Gilbert – tilted his head to the side, his eyes widening in alarm as he noticed how bloody, and still bleeding, Oz was. "Holy- What happened!?" Oz cringed. He'd hoped that somehow Gilbert wouldn't recognize him.

"What do you mean 'what happened'? You ran into me."

"That's not what I'm talking about. You look awful!"

"Thanks. That's exactly what I wanted to hear."

Gilbert flushed, instantly becoming flustered. "I didn't mean it that way. Usually you're very- not that you're not now- I just- Well- Do you need to go to the hospital?" By the time he finished his eyes were squeezed shut and his face was beet red. Oz reached up and patted Gilbert on the cheek, suppressing a smile. It would only make his wound hurt and bleed worse and he didn't want to give the poor guy a heart attack.

"You're really cute, you know that?" The boy's eyes shot open, large and confused, as he processed what Oz had said. It was then that he noticed the position they were in and he quickly pushed himself off, reaching down to help Oz up once he was standing.

"Anyway, I think you should go to the hospital. Do you… want me to go with you?" Oz placed his hand, now sticky with blood that had begun to dry, back over his cheek and shook his head.

"I'm fine. I can get there by myself." He thought. He hoped. "Oh, um. Gilbert? When you get to school – I'm assuming that's where you were off to in such a hurry – would you mind not telling anyone about this? I promise I'll explain it to you tomorrow, just keep it to yourself, alright?"

Gilbert's eyebrows furrowed at the odd request but with no real reason to refuse him, he replied, "Yeah, sure. I won't tell. So, I, uh, guess I'll see you tomorrow then."


"Gil? Gil!" Gilbert felt something whack the back of his head and spun around in his chair to glare at Sharon and her fan.

"What was that for?" he asked, rubbing the spot she'd hit.

"It was to get your attention since, for whatever reason, you've decided to stop responding to your name," Sharon said slowly, letting every ounce of her poise and elegance seep into her words as she daintily set the fan onto her desk. If you didn't know her you'd never guess how violent she could be.

"Sorry, I was-"

"In your own world? Gil, you shouldn't be zoning out in class. You're lucky the teacher didn't call on you." Sharon crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair somehow maintaining her prefect posture. Break materialized behind her, placing his hands, that must have been hiding somewhere in his long sleeves, on her shoulders.

"Tsk tsk, dear Gilbert. First you arrive late and then you don't even bother to pay attention. That's quite unlike you," Break said. Sharon glanced up at him, studied him, adjusted his bangs. "Would you care to explain yourself?"

"I got held up this morning. It was nothing special," Gil muttered, avoiding eye-contact.

"So you say."

"It's break time, then?" Gil asked, attempting to change the subject. This was one of the few classes with a teacher that allowed a brief, ten-minute break and the fact that it was math – with its headache-inducing number and equations, practically unbearable without that short respite – made Oscar almost everyone's favorite teacher. Sharon nodded.

"We were waiting for you but I got a bit impatient," she said.

Gil laughed. "Yeah, just a bit," he said, teasing her. Her eyes narrowed and one of her hands twitched towards the fan.

Gil jumped up and took a few steps back, just in case she decided to make good on that unspoken threat, and bumped into someone. He heard the crash and flutter of books and papers falling to the ground and, ignoring Break who was laughing at him, he turned around to apologize.

What's wrong with me today? Gil thought, irritated with himself. First Oz and now-

He paused when he saw the irritated boy behind him. It was…Oz?

"You're helping me pick this up," he said, pointing at his scattered belongings. One of his earrings glittered, drawing Gil's attention.

No. Not Oz. Oz didn't wear earrings.

"Geez Jack, what happened?" a brunette Gil recognized as Alice, asked.

"He happened," Jack said, gesturing towards Gil.

"I'm sorry. I should have been watching where I was going," Gil mumbled.

"It's fine as long as you help me pick it up." Jack knelt on the ground, tugging Gil down with him. "Hey, Alice have you seen my brother around today?" He scooped up a pile of papers and straightened them. Gil grabbed a few books, listening intently. Oz had told him not to tell anyone, but did that include his twin? Alice laughed.

"Are you kidding me? You're the one who lives with him," she said, crossing her arms.

"Yeah, but you know I drop Ada off at school. I leave before he even wakes up. Our dad says that he's a bad influence on her and…" He trailed off and glanced at Gil as if he suddenly remembered that he was still there. "Uh, thanks." Jack took the pile of books form Gil's hands. "You can go now. I've got the rest."

"Oh, okay," Gil said as he stood. It was obvious that Jack was worried about his brother and this only made Gil more concerned for Oz. His skipping classes wasn't anything new, so Jack must suspect that Oz was hurt otherwise he'd have no need to worry. Right? As Gil walked back toward Sharon and Break he wondered, horrified by the very thought, if Oz being hurt was a common occurrence.