4 was not amused.

She crossed her arms with a silent huff of irritation and glared down at her sister 3, who was currently rolling on the floor, trying (and failing) to stifle her rapid clicking and flashing. She was laughing, and at her younger twin no less! How could she?

… That's not to say that somewhere in 4's irritation she knew she'd be doing the exact same, given the circumstances had happened to 3 instead of herself. But that wasn't the point right now!

Ugh, this felt so gross! And it was all around her! She had tried getting out, but only succeeded in allowing her situation to feel even grosser! The little mute doll refused to move her mouth at all for fear of the nastiness seeping in. Yuck! It made her shiver in disgust at the mere thought of it being a possibility. She just felt she should thank Creator for small favors in the small fact this substance was so old that some of it's original properties had melted away with time.

The others were there as well, and their reaction was not too different from 3's own. That earned them a glare as well. Of course at first they were actually rather worried about her being in this predicament, but 3 quickly presented the harmlessness it really was after showing a few clips, one involving the definition and just what exactly the stuff causing her situation was.

9, 5, and 7 were covering their mouths or holding their sides, snickering quietly, though their optics held sympathy for the poor stichpunk. She could tell they didn't mean anything bad by their laughter, it just looked too funny to them. Yet they were also intrigued by it all the while.

Intrigue wove onto 2 and 6's features as well, never having seen this before in any vision or at any point during the human's last days and then some. The elder was chuckling softly with his mouth closed and his fist in front of it to muffle out the low chuckles. 6 was gripping his key loosely and letting out a few timid giggles of his own, finding it funny and yet not wanting to be punished by someone's slight misfortune. 4 made sure not to throw any dirty looks at him, even if they were without any real meaning at all.

1 was just staring, optics slightly narrowed in well hidden curiosity. At first he'd poked around, but when the others started laughing harder he quickly gave off a 'feh' for reputation's sake and stopped. She was sure, though, that she saw a small smirk of good-natured amusement a time or two, but he'd always made sure it disappeared before she could confirm it. He really needed to just admit he'd grown soft since the whole B.R.A.I.N. incident and his, 6, 5, 2, and 8's revival, if only a little. Everyone know he had when he walked up to 9 and 2 and apologized loud and clear for all to hear, so that he could apologize to them as well for being the fool all along.

Speaking of the large doll, 8 was looking at her differently than the rest. He was scratching his head with a single metal finger, right in between the stitching above his left optic. He had a raised stitched brow, seeming to be trying to think of the best way to get her out, yet trying to wonder how the hell she got in this in the first place.

He'd changed as well, being a lot friendlier to those around them as well as becoming one of, if not THE most helpful stitchpunk out of them all. He stated it was his way to make amends, and that he hoped they could forgive him for how he was before 9 came along. He even personally apologized to the youngest for his behavior towards him when they first met. After all, he'd been decent to everyone at first before changing from his magnet addiction, and it was unfair to treat 9 badly. After that, he'd personally walked all the way out to the broken bridge over the ravine, where they worked hours upon hours getting 6 from below, and even longer repairing him, and threw the magnet into the abyss, never to be seen or used again. He'd really turned out sweet, if you asked 4…

"Alright now," 1 interrupted her train of thought, even though his voice was muffled by the pink substance surrounding her and keeping her suspended in the middle of it. His blurry (to her it was) form walked forward and reached out a hand, taking a fistful of the goop before hurriedly shaking it with disgust. WHY he touched it in the first place she would never know.

1 walked over, nonchalantly wiping his goopy hand against 9's arm as he passed. 4 smiled at this, having to choke down giggles in light of keeping her mouth shut when neophyte looked at him in disgust and shook his arm fast with a disgruntled "HEY!" that went ignored. Looking to 3, 1 continued.

"Just how did your younger sibling wind up inside of this… pink 'Jell-O' again?"


"Mmm'kay! That should get ya!" 8 chuckled a bit as he finished scrubbing off the last bit of pink on 4's back. Gently he set her down from where he had her in the air with one arm across her chest, finding it a more comfortable position for him then bending over her for a long time; he didn't want his gears to stiffen in case anyone else needed his help today. 4 just continued staring ahead, giving a small glare to the wall as if it were the reason she was like this.

Yes when everyone went rummaging today, it was at an old one-story house devoid of any human corpses, and they were grateful to still find homes that way. It made them even happier that 1 had allowed this little journey in the first place with little to no fuss, not to mention agreeing to come along at 2's pleading.

But unfortunately for the twins there were hardly any books inside the decrepit abode, showing that whoever once lived there were more media and radio people. The films they had, however, were either worn out from the war's destructive path or the same commentary they already had stored within themselves, so recording any of that was useless. A little downtrodden they decided the next best thing had to be the kitchen. There hadn't been one in the Cathedral and of course there wasn't one in the Library, so technically it was still unexplored territory.

So while the others searched around, the two made quick work of getting up on the kitchen counter. The white tile pattern felt cool beneath their feet as they shuffled around, hoping to find something new. They'd spent an hour climbing around, ducking into damaged drawers, and avoiding broken wood and glass. But even then all that turned up was a portion of a plate that was carefully decorated with scenery of what the Earth once was, and even then dirt from all this time prevented the entire artwork from being seen.

It was then, just as they were going to climb back down and join with the others still roaming about, that 4 had the [i]brilliant[/i] idea that playing a game the humans called tag could cheer them up. So she quickly nudged her sister and ran away, flashing '[i]tag! You're it![/i]' back to her as she went. 3 loved this game, so she knew instantly what was going on and wasted no time in chasing after her younger twin with a wide smile. They went on playing, laughing whenever they were tagged, or even when they weren't, just running around and having a good time. Well, until 3 was in the middle of chasing 4, having been taken by surprise and tagged once again. They weren't watching where they were going on top of the counter, and that forced them to end the game. Why you ask?

Because 4 fell from the counter and into the pink mess that was once what the humans named Jell-O. It was a blessing really, what with Creator only knows how damaged she could've been had the sludge like goop not been there in the first place. Of course after finding out she was ok, 3 cracked up laughing, clicking and flashing her optics furiously as she ran to get the others for help.

Thankfully they'd been lucky enough to find a little (to human standards) supply of water and a fresh toothbrush, barely torn into—meaning whoever was opening it didn't get to finish. It was as clean as any toothbrush was ever going to get. So thanks to her [i]brilliant[/i] idea, 4 got the honor of being stuffed with poofy rags that made her look fat, dunked into a batch of now soapy, pink-colored cold water and scrubbed relentlessly in hopes of getting the disgusting human snack goop off her fabric body.

She was ecstatic… really…

"So ya really ran right offa the counter, jus' ta avoid gettin' tagged?" The guardian laughed at the small glare and light smack 4 applied to his broad shoulder before crossing her arms again.

"Aaww, c'mon. Least I got all the pink offa ya." 8 knelt down, looking at her with a small smile. She felt her face grow warm at seeing that smile and quickly looked down before moving to stare ahead of her; anywhere but at the face warming smile of his.

7 had tried washing her herself, but it was obvious (and frustrating) that 4 DIDN'T want a bath from the very beginning, struggling the whole time. The female warrior loved the twins, but those rare times they refused to cooperate REALLY irritated her; she wound up calling it quits and, with a smirk 4 had felt uneasy about, called loudly for 8. He agreed to help, effortlessly picking up the tiny doll and beginning to scrub her, finding her struggling funny in a good way. She had eventually given up her futile efforts, seeing how they didn't even phase the larger doll, and resigned to being scrubbed clean for the next half hour or so.

4 continued looking ahead, feeling embarrassed and wishing the floor could swallow her like her thoughts were doing. How could she have been so stupid? Running over the edge like that—it's unbelievable! And having 8 of all stitchpunks cleaning her? That fact made her even MORE embarrassed, and what was frustrating was she didn't know WHY it felt more embarrassing that it was 8. She knew that recently she'd felt funny around him in a way she couldn't rightly explain. Her gears seemed to speed up for no reason anytime he paid attention to her and she felt… light when he smiled or chuckled softly, especially at her.

Sighing heavy and quick 4 plopped herself down into the bucket…

…And was quickly reminded of the pink mess in the bucket with her, now soaking into her butt. She rushed to stand back up, flashing a yelp at the unexpected cold spreading through her fabric. She sent water out onto the floor at her quick movements and began to lose her balance at moving so fast.

"Whoa!" 8 immediately held his hands out, easily catching her before she fell flat on her face. He sighed in relief and looked to her. "Ya gotta be caref-Agh!" 8 had begun standing up, 4 still in his arms, when his foot slipped in the water she'd just splashed onto the floor, sending them both to the ground. Without even thinking he'd already made sure to keep her close and safe. The room filled with the loud THUD his body made as it met with the floor.

A moment later rapid clicking and flashing was heard, giving away 4's amusement at the whole thing. She wasn't sure exactly what she was laughing at though; probably 8 failing to follow his own advice, or even failing to give said advice out before falling in the first place. But whatever it was, it was funny. She brought her head up from 8's fabric body and giggled again.

[i]Who's not being careful now?[/i] She opened her optics and froze, realizing something. She was on 8's chest, being held in his protective embrace, and her face was only inches apart from his.

She felt as if her entire system had stopped all at once, either that or they were going so fast it felt like they'd stopped. Her face heated up furiously at their closeness, and her mind was reeling with so many thoughts she thought it would blow from overloading. She kept telling herself to move, say something, DO something—ANYTHING, but her body was deaf to her mind's pleas.

8 wasn't any better off. He'd slowly opened his optics, about to ask her if she was ok when he realized the same things she did. If anything, 8 had never seen 4 look so shocked or awkward before… it was actually kinda cute… especially since somewhere along the line of their tripping her hood had fell back, revealing her entire head. It's honestly the first time 8 had ever seen one of the twins without their hood on… she looked nice, why hide behind the hood?

They kept their optics locked on each other, for how long neither knew. It was only broken when 8 somehow worked up a cough in his voice, clearing his throat and ending the weird silence the room had fallen into.

"Uh… you ok?" 8's question seemed to snap 4 from whatever she was thinking and quickly blink a few times. She smiled a little, nodding to show she was just fine. She clicked a 'Thank You' to him, to which he just shrugged it off with a smile.

"No prob. Wouldn't want ya ta get hurt." He sat up, holding her out by her arms until she was standing before taking his hands away and standing himself. He pat his arms of any imaginary dust, chuckling a bit.

"Well that was fun." He looked to her jokingly and noticed she was shivering a bit. He grew concerned immediately. What could be making her shiver? Did she somehow get hurt? "What's wrong?"

4 looked down, embarrassment coming back full force. How could she tell him that she was cold? Well she could tell him THAT, but how could she tell him she had a cold butt from the water? She unconsciously placed her hands behind her and clasped them together, feeling the need to hide that area in hopes he wouldn't notice. Of course that had the complete opposite effect.

His expression grew curious. What was the matter? Why would she put her hands behind her like that? Was she cold or someth-! And that's when he remembered her little accident that led to 8 falling in the first place. Directly sitting in the water must have soaked into the rags still inside her, making her gears colder than normal.

Understanding, 8 chuckled and knelt down, carefully opening her and taking the rags—meant to protect her gears and wires from the water—out of her. She never looked up from the floor, too embarrassed over this whole thing, and… what she was thinking of doing…

Not noticing her current inner conflictions the guardian finished taking the last rag out, it being the very one soaked in the soapy water. [i]Well at least there ain't no pink.[/i] He forced down a chuckle that threatened to surface and picked up a rather fluffy rag like cloth, taking care in wrapping it around her so she could dry off.

"There. That oughta make ya nice an' warm. Dry too." He chuckled low this time, offering her a kind smile. But he wasn't expecting what had happened next.

Ok. She was going to do it. It was to show her appreciation, and she wanted to show it to him. It would just be a little thing, nothing showy or anything. She'd read it before, in one of the many books her and her older twin read, and… it just seemed right to do.

So when he finished his last sentence, 4 worked up her courage, lifted her head, leaned over…

… and kissed 8 sweetly on the stitching of his left cheek, lingering a bit longer than needed before pulling away.

She had her head ducked down, smiling up at him nervously. 8 just looked at her in complete surprise. He couldn't speak, but… his cheek was tingly now. Warm too… It felt nice.

4 flashed one more 'thank you 8' at him, smiling wide and grabbing onto the cloth around her, and before he could say anything she was quickly making her way to the bucket elevator.

8 raised his hand to his cheek, not wanting to touch it for fear of losing the warmth 4 left there. It felt REAL nice… he hoped this tingly warmth never left and was pleasantly surprised to feel that same warmth beginning to flood his gears. He didn't know how, but 4 made him feel funny… a good funny though.

Realizing she was almost gone 8 spoke out before he could stop himself. "Wait!" The young scholar stopped right in front of the bucket, looking back at him nervously. Did he not like what she did? Was she mistaken in how he would take it?

"Uhhh… umm…" 8 had no idea why he called out her, and now he felt stupid, standing there and rubbing his arm. "You… ya look nice. You should wear your hood down more often." Honestly it was all he could think of to say, but the smile that grew instantly over her face at his compliment made him glad he'd said it. He smiled himself, watching her enter the elevator and take it up to see the others before beginning to clean up the tiny mess around them.

4 couldn't hold in the joy and happiness she felt. Now 4 was sure of it; playing tag WAS a brilliant idea.