VI

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Nico's heart throbbed in anticipation as he and Louis crept through the dark house, sticking to the deepest shadows, stepping carefully on each floorboard, testing for creaks before setting down their full weight. Everything was so still, even the smallest sound seemed amplified ten times over. It was an unbearably slow process, inching their way through the rooms, trying not to be heard. The moon cast a bright beam through the window, catching the boys in its light.  

Nico put a hand on Louis's shoulder, stopping him in his tracks. "Are you sure this is a good idea," he whispered.  

Louis turned to his brother. "This was your idea to begin with," he hissed back, "don't go chicken on me now."

Nico swallowed hard, then nodded. "Okay. Let's do it."

They reached the door and Louis grasped the cold handle and turned it, pushing it open painfully slowly, praying that it wouldn't creak. Thankfully, it opened easily.

Nico released a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding and followed his brother into the dark, chilly outdoors. The street was nearly empty, given the early hour. Louis closed the door softly and they made no delay in getting away from the house. As kind as their foster family had been to them, they didn't want to find out what would happen if they were discovered.

"Which way?" Louis asked as they stepped onto the sidewalk.

Nico opened his map and studied it for a few moments, squinting to see it clearly in the dim streetlight. "We go left here," he finally said, and started walking in that direction without waiting for his brother to move.

Louis jogged to catch up. "You have the money, right?" He shoved his hands into his pockets with an involuntary shiver. He couldn't wait for the sun to come up and provide them some warmth. 

"Yes," Nico replied without looking back or slowing his quick pace, "but that would've been a better question to ask while we were still inside the house."

Louis nodded and they continued on in silence, Nico leading the way, until they came to the bus stop.

"And now we wait," Louis said, taking a seat on the cold bench. It was still early and the bus wouldn't be there for at least another hour. "You should try to get some sleep before the bus gets here."

"But what about you?" Nico sat beside him and pulled his hood up over his head.

"I'll be okay," Louis replied, "I used to go out on Anthony's 'errands' all the time, remember? I sometimes went for days without sleep. I can handle it."

Nico nodded. In truth, he was exhausted. Ever since the events that left them practically orphaned, he hadn't been sleeping well. Getting up at all hours of the morning didn't help much. He bit his lip, hesitant to ask the question that nagged in his mind. "Louis... do you think mom will want us back?"

In all honesty, Louis had been wondering the same thing. "I hope so," he replied. He didn't want to give himself or his brother false hope. But what if she didn't want them back? Or what if they didn't find her? What if she'd moved on with Silas and lived somewhere totally different? The possibilities were endless, and most of them ended with the boys being left on their own. But Louis banished the thoughts from his mind, determined to believe that their mother still loved them and would welcome them back with open arms.

But still... she had abandoned them...

Louis stared into the lightening sky as Nico rested his head on his shoulder. Within a few moments he was breathing deeply, indicating he'd fallen asleep. Now, with no one to talk to, Louis's mind wandered and he began forming a plan, incase they were unable to find their mother. He believed in always being prepared. By the time the suns rays were spreading across the heavens, he had an entire plan formed in his head. And just in time too, because he heard the rumble of the approaching bus and nudged Nico awake. The driver eyed them as they boarded, but said nothing. There was only one other person on the bus, a middle aged man with earbuds stuck in his ears, his head bobbing slightly in time with his music. He ignored the boys entirely, but that was fine with them. The less interaction with other people they had, the better. They would have to answer fewer questions that way, questions that were bound to arise, such as, Why on earth were a fourteen and twelve-year-old traipsing around New York City by themselves?

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