The Anniversary

It was two years since the wall came down. Residents of No. 6 and residents of the West Block had long become used to each other. Thefts and muggings were at a post-wall low, and even the odd street brawler seemed to have lost interest in the fight. Much of this could be attributed to young people like Sion, young residents of both No. 6 and the West Block who wanted a change from everything they had become used to.

They had started groups, given people something to do with their time and their hands, showed them that they weren't so different from each other and what they could do if they actually worked together. And what they could do was amazing.

Sion was blissfully happy. He was back together with his mother, his dream of breaking down the wall had come true, and, most important of all, Nezumi had returned.

Sion was returning from Karan's Bakery to their now joint apartment on the edge of old Lost Town. His arms were full of as much baked goodness Karan could force upon him, although she was sure to tell him that half of it was for Nezumi. She did seem to have a certain fondness for him, Sion thought.

But despite all the bread he carried, Sion also managed to have room for one more item hidden beneath it all…

"I'm home!" Sion yelled juggling with the house key, the door, and piles of baked bread.

Nezumi, seated on a chair in the living room, merely looked up from his book and gave his trademark smirk, "So I see."

"Yeah, great, now why don't you help me with this," Sion huffed.

Nezumi let out a small chuckle before moving – slowly – to do so. "Why do you even have all this?" he questioned after taking more than half of the stash Sion had arrived with.

"Mom wanted to make sure we – meaning you – weren't starving." Both boys moved to store the goods Karan had provided, Nezumi stealing a cherry cupcake out of the pack while doing so.

Five minutes later they finished and Nezumi stole another cherry cupcake as reward. He was savoring the flavor that only Karan could create when he felt eyes on him.

"What are you staring at?"

"Just you."

Nezumi turned to him scowling, "Yeah, I can see that."

"Wait, Nezumi!" Sion shouted before Nezumi had a chance to storm off. "I got you something." He ruffled through his messenger bag before pulling out a small rectangular box wrapped in red and blue paper. He pushed it onto the stunned Nezumi.

"Wh-what…what is this?" Nezumi yelped holding the…thing as far away from him as his arms could reach.

"It's a gift, Nezumi! Just open it."

With a pained expression, Nezumi brought the…gift closer to him and began to open it. He could only gape once the wrapping paper was removed. In his hand was a painting of him and Sion lying on his old bed in the West Block, Sion's head on his chest as he, Nezumi, held a black bound version of Macbeth. The words 'Happy Anniversary' were scrawled across the bottom in sparkling grey ink.

As seconds ticked past, Sion's waiting changed from excited to anxious. He nervously peaked over Nezumi's shoulder at the painting.

"I thought it might remind you of home, look, even Hamlet, Cravat, and Moonlight are listening to you read, just like always, and I made sure to paint the cover exactly like the one you have, and I couldn't forget the bookcase because I know how much you loved it, and…"

Tuning out Sion's prattling, Nezumi did begin to notice how much detail Sion had included. There was even a half-eaten pot of soup on the stove, as they would never allow themselves to eat a whole pot in just one sitting. And the bookshelf was as disorganized as Nezumi liked it, and just the way Sion didn't. It kind of did remind him of home in a way.

"Sion," Nezumi interrupted gruffly. "What 'anniversary'?"

Sion paused, "It's the anniversary of when you saved me, Nezumi."

Nezumi looked from the photo into Sion's earnest face and shook his head. He doesn't even have the decency to be embarrassed.

"Sion, you're a real natural," he said before walking away.

But Sion noticed he didn't return the picture. And that was enough.

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