Sitting on a book in the underground library, 21 couldn't help but wince as 22 mended his leg, replacing a piece that had come loose, and tying it with the string he, well, "borrowed" from 7's spear, as a precaution.
"Okay!" 22 said, leaning back on his knees. "All fixed up. How's it feel?"
Gingerly, 21 stretched his leg, he felt a small twinge of pain at the knee, where the injury was, but it quickly faded. "I think it'll be alright, thank you, 22."
"No prob." 22 grinned, "23, think you can come stitch his fabric back together?" He turned his head, and his grin almost immediately faded. It was one of those days again.
23 was standing a few feet away, holding her threaded needle loosely, the tip touching the ground as she stared forlornly at the ceiling. 21 had no idea what was wrong with her, but 22 could tell what she was thinking of, the past, 24...
22 frowned, he didn't want to ask her anything when she was like this, but 21 needed his leg stitched up, and she was the best one for the job. "
"Huh?" 23 jumped, startled back to reality. She turned to 22 curiously, but the sadness in her eyes shone clear.
"Um, can you stitch 21 back up, please?"
23 nodded lethargically. She reinforced her grip on her needle and walked over to 21, crouching down and beginning her work slowly and sadly.
Despite her sadness, she worked as diligently as she always dead when stitching. Stitching carefully and evenly, the green thread perfect looking, and tight enough they wouldn't come apart easily.
23 stood up, "Is it okay?" She murmured, barely audible. 21 traced the stitches and nodded, rather confused by 23's sadness. He hadn't 23's sadness this week, mainly because he preferred to work alone, and 23 had no hiding places in his study. Sure, he had seen 23 upset over 24, but he haven't ever seen her when it hit her worst.
"Er, yes. Thank you 23." 21 replied. 23, unsmiling, nodded. And then she turned and walked off to the edge of the table, staring at the wall.
21 quietly turned to 22 and whispered. "Is 23 alright?"
22 sighed, "No, 24's death seems to be hitting her harder this week. She's mostly been hiding, and when we try to talk to her, she just doesn't listen." He gave 21 a look of exasperation. "You know, you could take a break once in a while, then at least you'd relatively know what's going outside your dumb study!"
"Wha-'dumb'!?" 21 began to grow angry. 23 glanced up for a second at the shout, but her eyes fell to the ground, uninterested.
"Yeah, you haven't even tried to come out and pay attention to her! We've tried comforting her, but she doesn't seem to hear. I've tried joking around with her, making myself trip over stuff, telling jokes, nothing!" 22 slumped, "She didn't even smile once."
21 was about to say something else, but he looked at 22's saddened face and forgot the words. He couldn't remember the time he had seen the mechanic look sad. But then it hit him, maybe he's been like this all week, and he didn't even know because he locked himself away.
If he didn't know that, and how 23 was feeling, what else had he missed? What else happened to his
little brother and sister?
Suddenly, he had an idea, a stupid one, a ridiculous one, but it was the only idea that occurred to him. Sighing, 21 turned towards the door, making sure no one was coming. Maybe
just this once
"Say, 22?" 21 murmured. He leaned over to him and began to whisper.
"22!" 7 shouted angrily. "Get out here, right now! And give me back that string!" In her hands, she held the stick of her spear, having discovered to dent marks on it that would've only belonged to 22 and his unique index fingers. She hadn't noticed them at first, but when her spear fell apart the minute she picked it up to sharpen the blade, she immediately knew. She was walking down to the library, holding the stick like a weapon (well, it didn't have the blade), when suddenly she heard a shriek.
Startled, 7 dropped her weapon, but managed to grab it before it clattered on the ground. The shriek came from the library. 7 raced towards the sound as fast as she could, stick at the ready. She raced into the library, scrambled up a pile of books, and climbed onto the table, hiding behind some books, she looked just over the top book
and she couldn't help but start smiling.
The shriek had come from 23, but it was a shriek of surprise as she was picked up by 21 and 22. The three of them were perched on top of each other. 22 was on the bottom, trembling with the weight of his riders, but he was smiling widely, laughing. 21 was on his shoulders, but there was something different about him
then it hit 7, he was wearing a warm smile on his face, and there was something else on that expression. If she could name it, 7 would've have called it
playfulness, all traces of formality were forgotten.
21 held 23 by her ankles. The young girl was perched on his shoulders, sadness gone as she squealed and laughed softly as 22 ran around on the table with his passengers. She waved her arms wildly in the air, giggling joyfully, completely forgetting her sadness as her big brothers played with her.
7 was surprised, but rather touched at this adorable scene. She had seen 22 act mischievous and playful, as well as 23 at times, but 21 being so kind, so playful, acting like a big brother would. Ever since she met him, he's acted professional, reclusive, and at times, little cold, how did this happen, him playing with 22 and 23?
She wouldn't ever guess the truth.
"Why do I have to carry you guys?" 22 whined as his older brother climbed on his shoulders.
"I told you, you have the lowest centre of gravity." 21 replied matter-of-factly.
"Oh come on! That's not fair!"
"How is it not fair? Just calm down, will you? Think of it as comeuppance for pranking me last week." 21 smirked, remembering the little story everyone was calling "The Ink Incident".
22 couldn't help but snicker as he remembered as well. "What? You didn't get hurt, and everybody laughed!"
Come on." 21 sighed, gesturing towards 23, who was still at the edge of the table.
23 stared into the empty space, not even hearing 21 and 22 and she thought of the past. Oh, she remembered the time she and 24 were playing hide and seek. She had hid in an old cookie jar, and when 24 found her, he accidentally fell in it as well, so they spent the next half hour trying to climb out, and when they were finally free, they were both laughing so hard 23 thought her sides would tear.
Suddenly, 23 felt hands wrap around her, then she was being lifted. 23 let out a startled scream, starting to squirm, and quickly a voice, 22's voice, said to her. "Hey, hey! Calm down, sis! It's us!"
23 stopped trying to escape and turned her head, and tried hard to suppress a giggle at the sight of 22 holding her while trying to balance 21 on his shoulders.
"Climb up." 21 said, holding out his hands. Curiously, 23 reached and grabbed his hands. She was passed to 21, who placed her on his shoulders.
"What do you think of the view?" 21 asked, holding onto her ankles, the beginnings of a small smile on his face. 23 gave him a quizzical look, but looked around and gasped. She could see everything from here! She saw every single book around them, every bookshelf, every inch of the table and
did something just shift over there? She could've sworn she saw a stick poking out from behind those books
"Ready, hold on!" 21 said, sounding amused as 22 backed away from the edge of the table, he turned around and began running about. 23 almost immediately forgot about the mysterious movement, feeling real joy coursing through her. The view, the feeling of freedom, it was incredible! Her hands, which had been clasped over 21's, slowly let go and began to lift into the air, waving around through the dusty air as their owner began softly laughing with joy.
All three siblings were laughing, even 21, he was having as much fun as his little siblings. 23 was having a blast, her laughter escalating with her joy, she stretched her hands as far as they could go into the air
when suddenly, she could've sworn she felt something very gentle, and very familiar, playfully poke her shoulder. She gasped, could it be
? She never got to finish the thought.
Suddenly, 22 began to wobble, he was having fun, but now his arms were getting tired, and his older brother and little sister moving around on him didn't really help. "Guys
!" He called out, ready to warn them, but suddenly he began to feel off balance, so he gave a little hop to steady himself.
The two gear wheels on 22's feet popped open the minute he hit the ground again, jerking all three into the air. 22 completely lost his balance, in vain, he flung his arms into the air to steady himself as he fell flat on his back.
"Gaah!" 21 shouted as both he and 23 were thrown into the air. In a panic, he accidentally let go of 23, and both came crashing on 22. 21 landed sprawled on his stomach across 22, and 23 landing on both of them, on her stomach.
22 was moaning from his older brother and little sister on top of him, and 21 wasn't doing much better, but 23 was still in a great mood! Muffling her giggles into her apron-fabric-made arms, she was feeling better than she ever felt all week.
"Hey, guys?" 22 suddenly called. Grinning, 23 looked over 21's shoulder and down at the trapped mechanic.
22 was attempting to make an angry face, but it was pretty obvious he was trying not to grin as he tried to find a way to make 23 laugh even more. "Would you please be so kind as to
GET OFFA' ME!?!"
It worked! 23 tumbled off her brothers, clutching her sides, laughing hysterically. As an added bonus, 22 heard 21 start to laugh as well.
21 climbed off his younger brother, grinning. "Are you alright?"
22 laughed. "Oh I'm good, just a little frame replacement, I'll be fine!" He said cheerfully. All three of them started laughing even harder at that. And 7, still hiding behind the books, grinning wildly, silently crept away to find a replacement string, leaving the three to play.
When things calmed down, and they all sat up, 23 felt something tap her shoulder again, it felt like a wisp of wind tapping her shoulder. His spirit, he was behind her. It was him, she knew it, she'd know that tap anywhere, whether he was alive or not, he was here, with her. Smiling wildly, suddenly leapt forward and hugged her big brothers around their necks. "Thank you so much." She murmured, thanking them not only for playing with her, but for brightening her days and making her smile. For comforting her and never giving up on her. For being the best brothers ever.
She now knew that all three of her brothers were there, and they were all watching over her.