A/N: Hey 9 fandomers! Sorry if you're one of those people who likes sticking to just one fanfic at a time, but I just really wanted to write this. It may at first seem like pretty meaningless fluff, but I promise it does have a point ;D. Set before 8's awakening.

Chapter one- The evergreen tree

2 sat on the ground and stared at the tree. He watched as its branches stencilled a pattern of sunlight onto the dusty ground of the emptiness. The emptiness. How had a tree so beautiful come to being in such a, well, empty place? That was the question 2 came here every day to search for the answer to it. Obviously, he had to be careful of machines, but he hadn't seen any around here in a while (Maybe they were in the City, killing off the remaining population of humans...) .He would always sit in this same spot and draw and study, and when he wasn't drawing or studying, he would just stare expectantly, as though waiting for something to happen. And he never lost patience, unlike some of the others, who would have turned away from the tree after maybe a week or so at the most.

But he'd never told another stitchpunk about this place. He knew that he trust them, or at least most of them, but 2 felt that this was his tree, almost, and that bringing others to it might disrupt its speciality to him, unless they were very careful not to do so. He would perhaps bring one of them, maybe 5 or 7, when they had grown older and were more experienced in this world.

And there was something strange about this tree that he could never bring himself to discuss. As he'd read somewhere, trees are living things, and like most living things (excluding the stitchpunks) should grow at a steady rate, like humans did. But, the thing was, this one didn't. The trees' trunk never widened, its branches never reached out any further, and its leaves never left it. And it would always remain a glorious deep green. This tree never seemed to alter.

And it's been enormous to begin with, especially to something as small as a stitchpunk. On that first day, when he'd discovered it, 2 had wondered how he'd never noticed the tree before. It seemed to have sprung up out of the middle of nowhere. And how had such a plant even survived in such conditions of this lifeless emptiness?

So may questions, all completely unanswered to 2, even after all this time. He let out a quiet sigh and lay out on the ground, squinting at the branches up above, thinking about nothing in particular.

Suddenly, 2 sat up quickly. He had heard something rustling up in the leafy canopy. No birds, or anything for that matter, were alive anymore. Only the stitchpunks and this tree. And the machines. Those terrible, terrible machines. 2 heard another rustle.' Just the wind,' He thought. 'nothing to worry about.' A third rustle reached his senses. 2 stood up, slowly and quietly so as not to disturb whatever was making this noise, and walked around the roots of the tree, observing it from all angles.

Another rustle came. Where on earth was the source of this sound? Or, possibly, who on earth? 'More questions about this tree,' 2 thought, intrigued. "Um, he-hello there?" He uttered. No reply. "Hello?" 2 repeated. He wasn't exactly nervous, just ... curious.

Then something flickered between the branches of the tree. A moment later, 2 registered another flicker at the top of the tree's trunk. Another further down. 2 gulped. Whatever this was, it was moving very quickly. Could there be another beast out here; one that could climb trees? Then a much more likely and calming thought reached 2's mind. He chuckled.

"Is someone pranking me? Don't worry; I'm not mad with you!" It would be one of the others, just messing about. "Come down; let's go back to the Cathedral now..." He trailed off. Because something was moving around the tree. And it wasn't the twins, or 6, or any of the others who should be back at the Cathedral. This was a new stitchpunk.

And I remember that stitchpunk like the back of my own hand. Kind grin, large optics, short stature. Wearing a pleated white dress and a matching straw hat, she almost shone in the glorious sunlight. And her name. No, I will never in eternity forget her name. Not a number, like many, but a human name I gathered.