Saruhiko moaned as he rose unto the waking world, rolling over onto the dip of Misaki's bed, reaching out with slim fingers for the smaller figure. However he only met cold sheets, and his eyes snapped open out of necessity and panic. He sat up quickly, looking about the small room wildly for his ginger companion, knowing that it was half past nine in the morning and Misaki was always back by then and napping greedily.

"Misaki?!" he cried out, slipping from the two beds and scrambling out into the dark hallway that was never lit. "Misaki?!" his voice carried back to him as an echo, and he rushed down the hall screaming his friend's name. They were both thirteen, growing like weeds, but if he didn't find Misaki soon he was going to break down into tears like a child.

"Saru! Saru wake up I'm right here!"

Misaki shook his friend awake and Saruhiko awoke with a gasping sob. Misaki pulled him close and Saruhiko gladly buried his face in the other's shirt. If the analog on the wall was correct, it was a quarter to noon and he was missing breakfast, but as long as Misaki was here with him he couldn't care less. "Neh Saru, did you have a bad dream?" Misaki asked, petting his head fondly and letting him wrap his arms around his waist. Saruhiko nodded into the lavender smelling shirt that made him dizzy in a bad way, nestling into the warmth of his companion and the security of the knowledge that Misaki was safe and sound.

But not safe, because in this house you were never safe.

"Let's go have an early lunch, okay? We can eat those new tomatoes in the garden, I think they should be ripe by now." Saruhiko nodded again, but didn't let go of his friend. "Let's rest here for a little bit more, please?" Misaki hummed in agreement and held his friend just as tight. They slept until two in the afternoon, their stomachs waking them and forcing to unwind from their pretzel of limbs.

The garden was waiting for them, beneath the eternally stormy skies, the air crisp as a signal of an oncoming rainstorm. Thunder rolled in the distant, so the two companions made quick work of picking fresh red tomatoes from the vines they had planted themselves. "Hey Misaki?" Saruhiko asked, picking another fruit to add to the collection in his arms that he would place in a bowl for the others. Misaki hummed a noise so Saruhiko took that as a cue to continue, the other busy planting new seeds in the damp soil.

"Do you ever have nightmares? It seems I'm the only one who gets them..." Misaki's hands paused in his patting over of soil, carrot seeds neatly placed in holes he'd dug with his finger. The ginger smirked at Saruhiko, but there was a haunting look in his eyes that the raven didn't miss. "Of course I have nightmares, this whole thing is one big nightmare anyway." His words hung in the air and they continued their work of picking and planting silently, all the while the thunder growing ever closer.

Inside they left the bulbous fruit in a clear plastic bowl and scampered into a lone room to eat their meal. Saruhiko grabbed the plates of mozzarella they had left in the fridge and a pair of forks and they were off. They ate caprese salads and scrubbed the grime out of the tiles in one of the bathrooms on the first floor. Afterwards Saruhiko practiced his knife throwing on the second floor, because Misaki would be offended if he damaged the first, while his friend sat on the floor and tried teaching himself how to sew. Their clothes had their fare share of moth eaten holes, and Misaki wanted to give the X Closet a break and fix them up himself.

Saruhiko drew a dart board on the far wall with a green crayon that ended up as nothing but as a useless stub when he was finished. This was a lazy day for them, a lovely Sunday break, and the two spent it in relative silence just enjoying each other's company.

That is of course until they heard a horrible scream from downstairs.

Misaki was out the door first, Saruhiko on his heels, cutlery forgotten in the wall. It was a single short shriek of pain, and deathly silence afterwards. Misaki tripped on the carpeting on the way down the stairs and Saruhiko only just managed to grab him by the arm and steady him. They skidded into the main corridor where the rest of the children had crowded around one of the girls who was curled into a ball on the floor.

They hung back from the crowd, having learned from experience that getting too close could result in a flight from a demon with a knife. But then they saw that it was the demon herself on the floor, clutching her face with a disturbing amount of blood gushing past her fingers. Kisara was all around her, crying hysterically and trying to lift the girl up but Miyuko kicked her away in her deathly silence, her wheezing breaths coming out in harsh pants. Kisara must have been the one who had screamed, Saruhiko realized, with all her hysterics and Miyuko's tough demeanor.

"What the hell happened here?" Misaki breathed, eyes wide and brimming with tears, and Saruhiko restrained himself from yelling at the ginger. How the hell was Misaki feeling bad for the bitch who had tried to kill him so many times, treated him like an object, referred to him as a cum slut?

Ryo stepped back, his face ashen, "Kumo told Miyuko to fix the painting askew in the bathroom, but she forgot and..." Heather and Ai shouldered past him, coming down from the hall with a first aid kit between them, obviously taken from the X Closet. Misaki's fingers founds Saruhiko's and the raven looked at the other in concern. Misaki took a step back, pulling him, "We should go," he whispered.

Saruhiko agreed with him, but the tear tracks on the other boy's face had him worried. "Misaki what happened back there?" he asked when they were 'safe' in their second floor bedroom. Misaki hung in the doorway, hair in his eyes as he stared at his feet, closing the door behind him and pressing back against it.

"Kumo doesn't tolerate disobedience of any kind, so he took his payment. Merna's payment was the skin on her back, Miyuko's seemed to be her right eye." Saruhiko stared at him in bewilderment, though his mind recalled a conversation he'd had with the pixie-cut girl the day after he had arrived.

"Look, I know this is difficult for you with all this stuff being so new and scary...but...I'm really sorry but we have no choice, it's do as we're told or suffer the consequences, I'm the perfect example of that."

"Saruhiko."

Misaki's voice drew him from his thoughts and he looked up at the other boy from where he was perched on the side of the ginger's cot.

"I won't let you spend the rest of your life here, wasting away and losing your mind." His voice was hollow, back to the sad boy he was every morning he came back to Saruhiko. The same boy he had met in the bathroom with those haunted eyes that expressed more emotions than Saruhiko knew the names too.

"I'm going to get us out of here, and if not me than at least you. You of all people do not deserve this joker in your hand."


Sorry it was so short but I'm in a bit of a bind for time and schedules are killing me