AUTHOR'S RANT

Bear with me as I rant on the movie "9" and the characters in this story. This movie was simply remarkable. The visuals were such an inspiration to aspiring artists like myself; I just had to draw and write as much as possible! I especially liked the pairing of 9 and 7. They balance each other very well. A lot of people say that 7 "wears the pants" in their relationship, but I don't think that's entirely true. Granted, she is the most skilled warrior in the bunch, but she still needed to lean on someone at some point, and she and 9 just work together and stand by each other no matter what happens. I wanted to write a short little story illustrating that.

I love 7's character. She's totally not a stupid Mary-Sue female character like in EVERY stinking movie. There's always that one, smoking hot girl in a group of guys who is the best fighter and a slut. I had to say it. But 7 is so BA that she doesn't even know it. She's just trying to protect everyone she loves, and it is what she was made to do. I adore her.

9 is definitely more reserved than 7, but he is just so sweet and innocent, you have to like him. He's incredibly clever and intelligent, and he uses his gifts to his advantage. I really like how he can still be someone 7 can look up to, but he needs someone too. They're just the best couple, and I had to write a mushy gushy story for them.

7x9 ONESHOT. I do not own any of the characters or settings; they all belong to the incredible Shane Acker.

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There was something in the air, and 7 could feel it weighing heavily upon her shoulders. She could feel it in the atmosphere surrounding her, and she had a feeling it had something to do with the distance between herself and 9 over the past few weeks. She couldn't even explain it – only that it felt tight in her chest whenever she thought about it.

An entire month had passed since the incident concerning the Machine. Almost everyone she had known had lost his life in that immense war battling for life. She had known them all for such a long time (she had lost count) until 9 – the final creation and the one "to save us", as 6 had always said. Now, only the twins, 9, and 7 remained. It was so much quieter without everyone around anymore, and she missed her family dearly (even seeing 1 and 8 would be a sight for sore eyes). However much her chest hurt every time she thought of 6, 2, 5, and the others, that was not what was nagging at the back of her mind this night. Ever since the "night of rain", as the twins had referred to it, 9 would frequently go off to be by himself and would say very little to anyone. He would take frequent "trips" to nowhere, wandering around the wastes with his light staff held at his side. Sometimes he wouldn't return home for days. 7 was getting worried, and never thought she had ever been this anxious about anything – or anyone – before.

It was almost midnight, and the pale rag doll was still awake. She had been aimlessly wandering around the whole library for what seemed like hours. 7 was exhausted from the day. She had taken the twins out to explore the eastern meadow to lighten the mood. There was an entire piece of land absolutely covered in green things poking up from the ground and 3 and 4 were dying to see what it was. They had later explained to 7 that it was called "grass" and it was a good thing that embodied life. Seeing the very small sprouts of this grass poking up from the soil despite the debris gave 7 hope, and she had been looking forward to showing it to 9 all day. Unfortunately he hadn't returned, and since then, 7 had had this anxious feeling inside of her and was constantly wondering when he would be home.

Ambling through the empty library was tranquil and peaceful. It was dark, but the moon allowed just enough silvery light to stream through the large, open windows, casting shadows along the walls. 7 had never had this much time to think before. Usually she would be scouting for beasts and protecting the twins on nights like this. She would have been out defending the world in which they lived to fulfill the purpose her creator assigned her. But the past month had been uneventful, giving 7's mind and feelings time to catch up to her senses. The rag doll sighed and picked up her spear from against the wall and fingered the handle thoughtfully. These notions swarmed around in 7's head, and most of her thoughts were concerned around 9.

The stitchpunk shook her head and leaned the spear back against the wall. She would just have to wait again until 9 returned. She couldn't stand not knowing what kind of mischief he could be getting himself into. A horrible image of 9 lying decapitated on the ground passed through 7's mind for a split second, but she quickly pushed it away.

As she sat there on a pile of books, thinking, a shadow passed her face. 7's head immediately snapped up just in time to see a familiar rag doll amble past the window. 7 jumped to her feet at once and hopped from book to book, climbing the stair-like piles of nonsense up to the desk, where she raced to the open window and stuck her head out. Sure enough, the large, inked "9" was visible on the back of the departing, burlap stitchpunk. 7 stepped out onto the windowsill and silently hopped onto the ground. The male rag doll must have heard the muffled THUD of 7's feet in the dirt, because he spun around brandishing his light staff in both hands as if ready to fend off dragons. When he saw who it was, though, his face relaxed immensely and so did his grip on his staff.

"Oh, 7," he said. "You startled me."

7 gave him a small smile. "Welcome back."

There was an awkward silence. When 7 had pictured this conversation in her head while she was sitting in the moonlit library, 9 had all the answers and so did she. Now though, in reality, it was uneasy. 7 tried again.

"Where've you been?" she asked him. 9's face did not hold his usual smile. On the contrary, he looked as though he wanted to be anywhere but here. He shifted uncomfortably.

"I don't really know," he admitted, looking up at the moon. "Thinking."

7 smiled to herself. They even thought alike. 9, however, did not catch her smile and scratched the back of his head.

"Um…what are you doing up so late, anyway?" he asked, apparently just trying to make conversation. 7 took a step closer, a curious expression on her face.

"I wanted to see if you were okay," she admitted, trying to make him meet her gaze. She knew that 9 was shy, but his behavior tonight was distant. 9 finally looked up and shrugged, in a way that looked hesitant.

"I'm okay," he said. 7 shook her head at him.

"You can save the world, 9," she told him. "But you're a terrible liar."

9's eyes met hers for a split second, and 7 thought she saw a flicker of a smile pass his lips. But even if she had imagined it, it was gone in an instant, leaving the frowning young rag doll back where he started. 7 tried again.

"I'm worried about you," she stated honestly. She gave him a sympathetic look. "I wish you would tell me what's bothering you."

9 shook his head hard this time. "It's nothing you need to worry about," he sighed. "I'm not myself today."

7, being the stubborn person she was, placed both hands on her hips and wasn't keen on moving an inch until he opened up to her. "It is too something I need to worry about," she said firmly. "I don't like this. You run off nearly every day and even when you are around, you barely speak to anyone." She took yet another step closer to him, not exactly sure why she was feeling so angry.

9 shook his head again. "7, please, not now. I'm tired." He turned his back on her and began to walk away. 7 glared at the number nine on his back, but didn't give up. She caught up with his long strides and stepped swiftly in front of him, blocking his path. 9's face gave her a weary glance before he looked away, but he did not make any move to step around her.

"7…" he started, but trailed off. He knew how persistent 7 could be when she wanted something. 7 hardened her gaze.

"You're avoiding us, aren't you?" she accused. "And don't you say I'm overreacting, because I've seen it." It was the truth. Whenever 7 had tried to converse with 9, he would never meet her gaze and mutter something about being busy. 7 felt her chest rising and falling with emotion. She had never felt so anxious about anyone in her life. 9 seemed to become defensive as he tightened his hold on his staff.

"No, I'm not," he said coldly. "Now, please just let me go."

"The twins miss you, 9," she said. "You barely even look at them!"

"7, it's not…"

"I don't usually worry about people like this, you know! I'm not moving until you tell me what the matter is."

9's gaze hardened. "Why would you care?" he asked grimly. 7's mouth gawked open and she struggled for a response.

"How…how could you say such a thing?" she raised her voice and stuttered, appalled. "How could you say that I don't care?"

9 looked directly in her face. "It would be better if you didn't, 7!" his voice grew steadily louder. "The others cared too, but do you see where they ended up?!"

Those words cut the cold air like a knife. The silence hung in the night as the two stitchpunks faced each other off. When 7 finally found her voice, it was rather quiet.

"I miss them, too," she whispered.

But 9 had brushed past her and was walking purposefully in the opposite direction. 7 trailed him from behind and took a firm hold of his arm, not ready to let him get away.

"9, you're being ridiculous!"

"Don't you get it?" 9 stopped in his tracks and turned toward the female stitchpunk, jerking his arm away.

"No, I don't," 7 narrowed her eyes defensively. "Why don't you explain it to me?"

9 suddenly threw down his staff in frustration, making it emit an echoing crash that startled 7 and made her jump.

"Everyone I ever called close to me in that short amount of time was killed, 7!" he shouted. "In those first few days of my life I had people I…I cared about! If I hadn't been so stupid maybe they'd be alive…!"

An anger had risen up in 7's chest. She had the burning desire to yell at him. "It was not your fault!" she shouted. "Don't you dare blame yourself!"

The argument had heated up, and the two stitchpunks found themselves hurling words at each other. 7 had never seen 9 so angry before. He was always so easygoing, but now they both found themselves in the middle of an all-out fight with each other.

"7, stop pretending you understand what it's like…"

"But I do! I do understand! You're not the only one who knew them…"

"But it was my fault, 7! Do you know what that's like…"

"No it wasn't! Why are you saying that?"

"7…"

"…and why won't you talk to us? What, are you just better off without us? Is that it?"

"What?!"

"Is that what this is all about?" 7 was now shouting at full volume. "You're just the big, wonderful savior and too important to worry about…"

"7!" 9 shouted. "I don't want to lose you!"

The silence filled the air and seemed as loud as a piercing gunshot. 7 and 9 both stood motionless, staring each other down. 7's mouth hung partway open in disbelief, wondering if she had heard him correctly. 9's will to shout abruptly vanished, and he backed up against the library wall, burying his face in his hands. It made 7 want to cry – to see someone so strong who had led them out of the war suddenly become so vulnerable. With his hands trembling, the young stitchpunk finally gazed directly into 7's eyes; a look of pure sorrow etched across every inch of his face.

"It's just easier to lose things you're not close to," he admitted quietly, letting his arms hang limp at his sides.

7 was at a loss for words. The silence was almost unbearable. They stood there for a few more minutes, not quite sure what to say or do next. 7 finally made her way closer to him until they were inches apart. Without a word, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and gave him a comforting squeeze. 9 didn't hug her back, but neither did he object. Instead, he laid his head onto her shoulder and that is where they stood for a long time, merely being together in the silence of the night. Finally, 7 pulled away enough to look into 9's face. She placed her hands on his cheeks – he blinked at her touch.

"9," she said soothingly, still sorry for yelling at him. "They all fulfilled the tasks the creator had given them. But there's still work to be done, and we're together now to accomplish this." She smiled slightly. 9 looked up. "We still have a mission…to each other as well."

9 just sighed. "But, 7," he said. "I can't help if something happens to you or…or the twins. I…I'd never forgive myself."

"That's why we stay together. I love you, 9, and there's a reason we're still here."

She gave him a few moments to soak in all she had said before leaning in and giving him a soft kiss. He blinked, surprised, and gave her sort of an embarrassed smile. He finally wrapped his arms around her and squeezed her tightly, letting himself give in to her open arms. 7 had been waiting for him all this time. She thanked the creator for love and someone to share it with. She loved him. There was always a reason. A purpose. Until their mission was accomplished and their work on earth was done, they would always stand by each other, in good times and bad. Life was unpredictable, but they were not in it alone. 9 smiled into 7's shoulder.

"Thank you," he said.