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4 Finds Out His Value

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Elsewhere On Earth....

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Confused, echoing stutters amongst the rocky, uneven cliff-like terrain had long since died down from the moment that Four's crew had arrived.... wherever it was that they happened to end up. What seemed like a week had passed, and the objects had already begun exploring the area... to their best extent. The cliffs that Four's crew now resided in were rocky and uneven. However, the extreme heights weren't all too tough to traverse for lightweight objects like Balloony, Leafy, Bubble, and sometimes even Flower. Even Loser could gracefully float to wherever he wished. For them, all it really took was a minimal gust of wind.

Four was just... Four. He just... got around, in his strange, quirky, signature ways.

Meanwhile, the others were to find a more...creative approach, unless they were content staying in place for god-knows-how-long. Whilst the aforementioned objects had little trouble getting about; objects like Blocky and Gelatin had resorted to more inhumane tactics, such as using Spongy to break their 10-foot fall down onto lower platforms. Typical... The two of them had even bonded over this, becoming... *shudder* friends.

Even with heavy tension and ignorance between two certain contestants still on Four's show, everyone seemed to be making the best out of the situation and creating their own coziness within the limited space they now had.

Even though not one of them knew where they were, what would happen, if they would ever see the others again, for how long... they'd always seemed to be such quirky characters, such optimistic mood makers.

Except for the host himself; Four.

It just didn't seem fair to him. His confusion, worry, his disappointment--it was all just washed away in comparison to everyone else's. Their worries, their voices ironically screamingly louder than his.

Grrr... No one takes me seriously.... the number thought grumpily to himself, standing stupid and idle, like always. He probably didn't seem any different to the contestants than he usually did, blank expression and all. Perhaps that's why they hadn't checked in on him...? No, I'm different.. They barely know anything about me... Ugh! They think I don't have feelings!? He could feel his blood starting to boil--

"Hey Fourrr, why d'you look like that? Bum sha backalacka booshk!"

A playful, boisterous voice erupted loudly from right beside Four, just unexpectedly enough to elicit a startled hop from the number. Turning his gaze to the direction of the noise greeted him with a shiny, translucent green face with only the stupidest-looking, most dumbfounded expression atop it. Well, at least, within his own head, Four would describe it as such.

"Gelatin! What do you want?!" Four huffed, an eyebrow furrowing in frustration. "..and what was that supposed to be?" he added reluctantly, after some consideration of whether it'd be worth asking at all.

"You can't tell? Geez, guess ya aren't that smart... I've been practicing my beatboxing for the B.F.B! It's gonna be absolutely killer," Gelatin rocked back and forth on his heels, hands square on his hips with pride as he boasted. "Anyways, your scrunched up face looked real funny just a second ago, like you were tryna squeeze out a-"

"I don't care! Go away or be quiet!" Four's whizzy voice overrode Gelatin mid-sentence, luckily saving the reader from toilet humour. Unfortunately, Four's pleas failed to stop the green jello from spouting his nonsense.

"So when's the next contest gonna start, Four-y?" he sang, curiously leaning in closer to Four.

Grrrr...

"I'm boooredd...." he continued, sighing obnoxiously loudly.

Rrrrrrrrrgh.......

"Hey, hey! Y'know I've been thinking about what to do with my B.F.B when I win... Okay, what do you think about a more classic approach to beatboxing? Something that would remind ya of the 2010's whole dance hip-hop vibe, like something nostalgic-"

BEEOOOWWWWWW!!

"WAAAHH!" The jelly howled in agony at the infamously-familiar scorching sensation of the Zappies.

"Hey! I heard a zap! What's going on over here?" A deep voice sternly called out, just within Four's earshot. Audible footsteps grew closer, followed by eager, chatty voices muttering amongst themselves incomprehensibly.

Lollipop's shiny head appeared over the cliffside, pulling herself up. Leafy, Loser, Blocky, and... an almost microscopic brown speck were quick to follow. Previously caught up in their own idle conversations, they had all turned, fixated on the bizarre sight standing before their very eyes.

Four stood there with an arm out, expressionless. Gelatin spiralled out of the center of his clammy, blue palm with the signature drum riff playing. Pomf! The recovered gelatine toppled over, falling face-first into what looked like his own burnt remains.

"These are strangely quite soft," Gelatin mumbled, his head inches deep in his own ashes. "Smells kinda weird though.."

Basically, it didn't take a genius to figure out what just happened.

"Seriously, Four?" Blocky groaned, disgruntled. "Why'd you zap him?" His angrily-raised arms dropped back to his perfect, 1:1 square sides. The block proceeded to walk towards Gelatin. "Gah! Stop moving- Stop that!" he yelped. Blocky's desperate attempts to lift up Gelatin proved unsuccessful; the latter continuously whined and thrashed about in place, accidentally smacking Blocky's face in the process.

Taco cringed, her nose scrunching up in both distress and disgust. "That is seriously messed up..." Whilst backing up, the back of her heel had just barely grazed minuscule Woody's face; resulting in a girly, high-pitched shriek escaping his mouth.

"WOAH! Woody, are you okay!?" Leafy jumped forward, gently but hastily picking him up off the ground and cradling him in her arms. "There, there, little Woody.. It's okay..." The emphasized tone of voice made her seem almost sarcastic, but no one could ever really tell.

"Guys, let's all just calm down for a second." Loser wheezed out, effectively silencing the chaos. "There's no need to panic." Surely enough, all non-numerical persons present went dead silent, circling around Loser obediently within seconds. "Taco, apologize to Woody! He had no way of defe-"

"GRAAAHH! Peoples!! Shut up! I'm trying to think!" Four howled, asymmetric fists waving in the air.

Everyone immediately swivelled around, an ominous, synonymous glare at Four shared between them all. Apart from Loser himself, standing in place with a monotonous expression plastered across his face.

"...Did you just... interrupt Loser!?" Blocky and Gelatin snarled in synchrony, stepping outside the cult-like circle, and towards Four.

"Hnnngh!" The integer clenched up his body, visibly exasperated. "Why won't you all listen to me?! I'm your host!"

"Unbelievable," Lollipop exclaimed, drawing a hand back distastefully. "No wonder everyone else ditched you for Two! You're nothing but a brute."

"W-what-!" Four sputtered pitifully, unable to form a comeback in time.

"Really, I think we all expected better from you," she continued, folding her arms in a displeased fashion. "You're lucky we stayed cause we want that BFB." The others nodded solemnly in agreement as Four stood there, utterly dumbfounded.

"What are you on about.." Four muttered, his tone lowered and his eyes squinting.

"Dude! You zapped Gelatin when we first got here!" Blocky lamented.

Beads of sweat started to trickle down Four's head. "That was beca-"

"-And, next thing you know, he's cutting Loser off!" Lollipop chimed in, purposefully speaking over Four's excuses. The lolly gently grasped Loser's palm, enclosing her fingers around his carefully. "Let's go, Loser. Ruby said she'd be teaching the rest of our crew how to play Spongy-Cake just over there!" Lollipop grinned, pointing to one of the other cliff sections farther away. Excluding Spongy, the rest of the contestants seemed to be over there, playing in a group.

As she spoke, Loser's melancholy-tinged monotone expression softened, and he smiled warmly. "Yeah, let's go, everyone! I really wanna play that game with all of you," his shaky voice spoke.

"Yeah!" the contestants exclaimed, cheering as they climbed up and latched onto Loser's back. Slowly, they began floating down with him.

"H-HEY-! Get back here right now! A-And... obey me or else!!" Four roared. "Do not forget!! You are all battling on MY show!" He stood his ground with hands on his hips, stubbornly refusing to follow them.

"Hmmm? Or else what, Four?" Lollipop grumbled, simply rolling her eyes.

"I'll... I'll PUNISH you!" Four alerted the fleeing objects, his teeth clenched as he raised wiggling fingers pointed in their direction. Nngh... If only I could just pull them into the E.X.I.T... the digit reckoned, powerless to eliminate anyone without viewer input.

"So... You'll kill us." Lolly peered over at Four, her head slowly dropping out of view beneath the cliffside as Loser continued drifting down. "Either way, we won't be in your presence, you know," she called out, now completely out of view.

"Well-!" Four raised a finger to refute, only for it to drop back down to his sides as his face fell. Sulking like a baby, his body deflated like an old balloon onto the grass.

"Mnnhh... Mnghhh... Wahh...." Four whined loudly, thrashing about in a similar style to a certain someone earlier.

"Four, you're acting like a toddler. Just grow up already," Gelatin muttered from above, surprisingly still present. Four sat back up eagerly, only to realize the jelly had lagged behind the others to re-collect his own ashes.

"Wh- You don't have the right to say that-!" Four squawked at him.

"I'm five years older than you," Gelatin responded, the mockery evident in his boastful tone.

"Mnnngh....So!?" the number bawled with the little strength he had left, his voice raspier than ever by this point.

"...Whatever. Guess I'll go join the others now." the jelly remarked, disinterested in conversation with Four any longer.

"W-wait-"

"Bye Four-y!" He turned his back to the integer, and hopped off the side of the cliff. A low-pitched "Ow!" echoed up from below, shortly followed by an "Aww, come on, Spongy! It wasn't even from that high this time!"

Ah. So that's where he was, Four realized.

"Mrrrnnghh..." Four pouted, defeatedly toppling back down onto the grass. Looking up, he noted the now pink and purple-dyed sky. It's evening once more... "Everyone left me again..." he wailed, voice shaky.

"Oh, I'm still here, Four!" a lighter voice called out just behind him.

"WAAH!" Four jolted up into a sitting position, whirling around to see what had just made noise.

Leafy sat there, cross-legged. She watched him with a disconcerted smile, but was maintaining eye contact nevertheless.

"Y-you're still here-?" Four sniffed, shuffling his feet together. "Why?" he asked.

"Because I care about you, Four! I think you're an amazing host!" Leafy responded, grinning widely at him. "Um, even if you were mean to Loser..." she added, muttering quietly.

With puppy-dog eyes, Four's mouth quivered, and he silently embraced her in a hug. The leaf eagerly embraced him back.

Four smiled, his head nestled comfortably atop Leafy's shoulder. He actually felt genuinely comforted... that is, until he opened his eyes and caught view of all the other contestants amongst the farthest cliffside.

Especially a particularly luminescent one.

"Oh." He remarked, disillusioned. It seemed the moment of bliss was over just as soon as it began.

"You just didn't want to be near Firey, did you?" he grumbled, quickly letting go of her. Sitting back down, Four averted his eyes and crossed his arms.

"Ahaha, uh-!" Leafy's eyes darted around anxiously. "Y-You see, that is... Well.." Laughing nervously, she scratched at the back of her head awkwardly.

The digit sighed heavily in response, having well gotten the message. "Uuugh....." he moaned out for the umpteenth time. Leafy hopelessly dropped the act, instead giving Four an unknowing, sullen look.

"Rrrghh!!" he fussed, fingers harshly rubbing his temples in a clockwise motion.

"Huh..?" Leafy jumped back a bit in her seating position, startled by the sudden commotion.

"All of you are just so... hnngh... so ignorant!" Four growled. The digit began unconsciously and viciously ripping out fistfuls of grass and weeds beneath his feet and leaving bare patches of dirt behind as a result.

Leafy's eyebrows furrowed, and her expression stiffened. "What?" Her fists felt rigid, clenching her thumbs inside of them. Before Four had a chance to respond, she opened her mouth, teeth gritted.

"Well, if that's how you're gonna talk to me, then this obviously isn't worth my time!" The leaf snapped immediately. "Lollipop was right! You're such an insensitive person! You deserve to be alone!" Familiar, venomous words hurled out from Leafy at an alarming speed as she tirelessly lashed out onto Four.

Leafy eventually turned around, beginning to storm off. But Four didn't plan on letting her get away with this. "Fine! Then just get out! You don't really care! I bet you don't even really care about anyone!" he barked back, causing Leafy to swivel a full 180 degrees back around.

Insults and screams flew back and forth like arrows on a battlefield. The two of them were both stubborn, upset, and refused to back down. It seemed there was something more behind it for them both, something more than just any quarrel--like some deeply-buried, underlying emotion deep down.

"You're the one that doesn't care about anyone! I'm always trying to be nice to everyone. You never do anything good, you just recover dead people that you killed yourself!" Leafy retaliated.

The both of them were shaking vigorously, sweating and dehydrated. "Be quiet! You just don't understand! You don't know what it's like to be left all alone!" The integer cried out. "Do you even know how I feel, especially without X here?"

"Yes...I...do!!" She bellowed. A heavy, aching pain echoed deep within her throat, quaking throughout her shaky being. Huffing heavily, she went dead silent. A chilly breeze drifted by, and Four could heard her silently shivering.

"...Whatever." Thoroughly drained from all his temper tantrums today, Four toppled on his back onto what was left of the grass beneath him. "I'm tired. I don't want to fight anymore. Just leave." He closed his eyes, trying to relax and catch his breath.

He was shortly drawn back to reality by the sound of Leafy inaudibly mumbling, assumingly to herself.

"Um, are you cold or something?" Four asked, still considerably peeved.

"...wasn't me.." was all he could make out from what she was saying.

"What are you going on about now?" he groaned, hesitantly sitting back up to see what was happening.

"It... wasn't my fault! Firey excluded ME from Dream Island!" Leafy choked out painfully, sobbing heavily into her hands. "I know everyone hates me, even if some of them have gotten nicer over time... And now he hates me...! He told me he would stay by my side! That he wanted to!" She wailed, stuttering out her words.

Four stared at her speechlessly, baffled at her upset reaction. "...Why are you doing that?" He inquired.

Leafy blankly stared back at him, equally puzzled. Salty tears continued to trickle down her cheek.

"That crying thing, 'tears'," he specified.

Leafy whipped her head up, directly facing him. "What do you mean why am I crying!?" she shouted, visibly offended. "Why would you ask that!? Do you know basic manners?!"

"I'm not from here, okay?" Four sighed, looking down. Leafy's demeanour softened, her eyes nervously darting from place to place. She wasn't quite sure how to respond.

And then, he opened up.

"No one here knows anything about me, except for X... He's always been by my side for so long, but now he's left me.... Along with everyone else..." Four muttered shamefully. "Even the contestants that I managed to keep won't stay present long enough to talk to me!"

"Huh..." Leafy responded silently. "I see..."

"I also feel that way about, well... Firey, even if I am mad at him," she hesitantly added. "I guess... maybe...we can relate to each other?"

Four didn't respond.

They both stayed silent, awkwardly looking away, then at each other again in a momentous cycle.

"...It's okay to feel upset and lonely when someone leaves you," Leafy spoke, breaking the silence. Four gazed back up at her, though his head was tilted down slightly.

"I spent a long time alone in Yoyleland," she began. "I didn't really have much to do, other than think to myself all the time. While I did feel guilty, I realized it wasn't entirely my fault... I had also been wronged, just like they all said before they found out what I did. I... allowed myself to feel upset."

Looking closely, Four realized that Leafy was shaking as she spoke. He wordlessly pondered what she had said for a few moments, while she anxiously awaited any sign of a response from him.

"Hmm.." Four replied, still thinking. "I guess. But still..."

Leafy looked over at him, confused. "What is it?"

"I took him for granted. Since I helped him find out his value, I thought he would just stay by my side forever without question!" the digit exclaimed, head in his hands.

"I didn't realize how important he was to me, and how I shoulda treated him... Does that make me selfish?" He turned his body towards Leafy, voice weak.

Leafy cringed. Hesitantly, she stumbled over her words, trying to choose them carefully without having to lie or hurt the host.

"Um... Well, I... I can't really say-" She started, only to clumsily trail off after noticing Four's death stare glaring right at her.

Geez... No pressure on me or anything, her thoughts echoed. Briefly recollecting her composure, the leaf took a deep breath and rephrased her thought.

"What I mean to say is, well... maybe...I'm not the one you should be asking that question."

"Huh?" Both perplexed and dissatisfied with his answer, Four's brows furrowed at Leafy suspiciously.

The green girl observed Four in total silence... patiently waiting for him to get the memo.

Her weak smile had given him a response he could interpret clearly at last. Gasping under his breath, he could feel his legs giving way from underneath him.

"I.. I can't a...apo.." Panting thoroughly, Four paused to miserably try and catch his breath. "I can't.. a.. puh...apologize to X!" he insisted, already looking overwhelmingly dizzy.

He's struggling that much to even just say the word 'apologize'? Leafy remarked, concerned. "Uh, wow..." she muttered underneath her breath. "Well... I guess it can be pretty tough to say..."

"I've never said it before!" Four protested.

"Oh," the leaf answered.

"GRRR!!" Four clenched the sides of his head vehemently, groaning in irritation. "How am I gonna fix this?" He slumped over as a dejected frown washed over his face. "Now I'm never gonna get X back.."

"W-wait-! It's gonna be okay, Four..." Leafy reassured him, hesitantly placing a hand atop his shoulder. Thinking swiftly, yet efficiently, a lightbulb went off in her head.

"...If you can't say you're sorry, then how about..." The leaf leaned into the integer's ear, whispering to him. His mood was promptly lifted, a wide smile beginning to bloom on his face.

"I got it! I know just what to usey-use!" Four excitedly hopped up and down, his erratic energy returning.

Leafy drew back, relieved to see that the number seemed to be feeling more confident.

"I gotta find him right now!!" Four chirped, feet tapping up and down. "I'm sure he's still near the restrooms with the other group!" His demeanour had completely changed, almost as if nothing had ever happened.

"Go get em', forty-four!" Leafy grinned hesitantly.

If not for the slightest hint of anguish in her voice, Four would've promptly sped off... But, he turned around to face her once more.

His eyes widening in realization, Four felt his gaze drop to the floor, ashamed.

"Um... Lea.. Leafy... I... I'm...I'm s..." He could already feel himself growing weary. "I-"

Leafy nervously chuckled in response. "Haha... It's okay, Four.. I know you're sorry. I am too." she assured him with a calm smile. "You should get going... It's already quite late." Leafy gestured towards the sky, to which the smooth, orange evening had already long begun it's transformation into a deep, dark canopy of the night.

Taking notice of the blending atmosphere, Four couldn't help but think about how much more fun he'd be having if X were with him. A long, somber sigh snapped him out of his thoughts yet again, as his pupils hastily darted to the origin of the sound.

Her melancholy now much more apparent, Leafy was longingly gazing in the distance, a thousand-yard stare in her eyes. Piercing the darkness of the dusk from afar was a familiar, warm light illuminating the faces of those around him just well enough to discern who was who. The flame seemed more comfortable and social than ever without the leaf hanging around.

Oh... Four figured, his shoulders slumping. He approached the leaf cautiously, trying his best not to startle her.

"You miss him, don't you?" the number proclaimed. Leafy sat still, unresponsive.

"Even though you're agitated, confused, hurt... You miss being friends with him." he continued.

However, Leafy still didn't bother circling around to even face the integer. She maintained her glimpse at the glow afar, making sure to abruptly avert her gaze when his head even so much as vaguely faced in her direction.

Four sighed, his shrill voice unintentionally making him sound less-than-sincere. "Why don't you just.. apuh.. apolo... you know..." he proposed nervously. "Just... talk to him. That's what you told me to do..."

At last, Leafy turned around, huffing heavily. Four could see the bags under her eyes, the prolonged fatigue in her weary expression. Sparing one last side-eyed glance at Firey from afar, his joy around the other contestants was palpable.

"...I think it'll have to wait a bit longer," she concluded, bearing a painfully sad smile. "As much as I wish that weren't the case."

Four didn't seem to understand, but decided that ultimately nothing could be done for the moment. Leafy gently and teasingly shooed him away.

"Now go get that variable, Four-y!" she urged, sparing Four her kindest grin.

The digit grinned back eagerly, this time feeling truthfully comfortable. He zoomed off into the night's horizon, gone in the blink of an eye.

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Elsewhere, On Earth In Goiky....

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ZEEOoooowww!

"Aaaahh!"

An unusually loud, buzzing sound rang in the distance, awakening X from his open-eyed, dissociative slumber. WHAP! His fuzzy body toppled over onto the floor of his restroom-hotel suite.

"Uhh... Umm... What's going on...?" the variable contemplated aloud, trying not to overreact. As expected, no response. No one else was in the room. Regaining what little composure he had, X peeked out of his door and into the hallway.

No one... here? he noted, baffled. X could feel his head starting to spin in confusion. Wahh... I'm dizzy... Everyone in my hallway seems to be asleep, with the doors closed.... What's happening??

X tiptoed down the dimly-lit hallway, his teeny-tiny toes tapping lightly against the tiled floor. Peering into the lobby, he noticed Two standing there idly, like a mannequin. Even so, this was typical number behaviour.

Um... I don't think he did anything... He's been like that since I went to my room... X considered, a finger rested on his chin all detective-like.

"Heya X!" Two's boisterous, accented voice hollered out, effectively startling X out of his own thoughts.

"Waah!" the variable yelped, unaware he had made his presence known.

"Didja need somethin'?" the green number asked, a salesman-like smile on his face.

"Um, no, nothing... Sorry to bother you-!" X mumbled nervously, swiftly turning back around and walking away. He couldn't help but feel slightly... intimidated by this guy. It's only been just over a week since he came here... X regarded.

"Well, if you need anything, you know the number to call!" Two haughtily called out after X, his suave accent echoing down the hallway.

Closing the door gently behind him, X re-entered his room sighing. I guess I'll have to get used to it... He plopped down onto the floor into a sitting position against the wall.

Nngh... I don't know how to talk to people... how am I going to make friends with this guy? The variable whined, perplexed. He's just another super-powerful number that I'm gonna be a sidekick to... X raised his hand up, and looked at his palm.

My value... Nnn... What's my value...? X racked his brains trying to recall, but just couldn't. He slouched into the wall, his body gradually sliding down bit by bit. The variable let his hand fall back to the floor, and closed his eyes, trying to relax.

Even if he was a bit much sometimes... even if he was mean sometimes.. I.. I miss Four. Maybe.. maybe I shouldn't have left him...?

Previously having pushed the thoughts aside, X finally decided to genuinely reconsider his actions.

I.. I didn't know what to do in the moment.. I just felt like it would be better for me to leave.. I didn't know Two would zap them away!

"Waahh.. I'm not good at making decisions... I didn't know what to do," he cried out. The sound was instantly absorbed into nothing by the thick walls of the room. X felt his heart starting to sink with guilt, and he couldn't stop himself from spiralling into self-doubt.

"Grrr....Hrrngh... RAAAAHH!" Suddenly, a muffled voice could be heard just outside X's room, followed by a blunt impact.

Frightened, X's eyes immediately opened, shifting rapidly. "W-who's there?!" he shrieked. Dashing towards the front door, X stared through the peephole to find... yet again, no one there.

"Wh-"

CRASH!

"AAAAH!" The variable screamed, curled up and bracing for impact.

Glass shattered all over the floor, and X swivelled around, realizing that the source of the sound had been from just outside his window. That wasn't the only surprise, however, as he glanced up to see...

"Huff.. Huff.. Haaahhh..." Four was standing there before him, panting heavily and leaning forward on his knees. Countless shards of glass laid beneath his feet. Behind him existed the now-gaping hole in X's poor window.

"Four!?" the variable bleated in disbelief, jumping back in shock.

"X-!" the blue integer exclaimed joyfully after spotting the variable. A toothy, cheek-to-cheek grin spread across his face, and his entire being lit up. Without a second thought, Four leaped onto the yellow variable, effectively tackling him to the ground.

Disconcerted, X froze. This...whatever it was, was the last thing he ever expected to happen.

"W-what are you doing?! Why are you here-!?" X stammered, shaking. He pulled away from Four's grip apprehensively, uncertain and freaked out by the situation presently unfolding. Why is Four here? the variable racked his brains yet again for answer, to no avail. More importantly, did Two seriously not hear that deafening crash?? The lack of footsteps or responding voices from outside in the hall suggested that he had not.

Four leaped up onto his feet, taken aback by X's defensive response. He quickly realized that he hadn't made up with him yet. Embarrassed, Four averted his gaze and backed up. X watched, baffled, as the integer threw his hands behind his back and shuffled about awkwardly.

Neither of them spoke for a good few minutes. All that could be heard was the whistling draft outside. Cold, frosty midnight breezes occasionally drifted into the room through the partially shattered window. Four abashedly kicked at the shards of glass by his feet, with small clink! noises emitting as they collided into other glass shards among the tiles. X finally broke the silence, lifting Four's attention back to him.

"...Why'd you come back here, Four?" X probed, his scrutinizing gaze closely fixed on the number before him.

Four looked as if he was going to say something, but nothing came out.

"What's-"

The blue number abruptly shoved something directly in front of X's face, cutting him off. "Hey!" X complained, wincing from bracing himself. He re-opened his eyes to get a good look of what was being presented to him.

"It's... a basket...?" the yellow variable exclaimed, blinking in disbelief. "From... from the first contest..?" Glancing over at Four suspiciously, X noticed the integer was peeking through the gaps in his fingers at him. After noticing X staring at him, he quickly covered his eyes back up and turned his head down shyly.

Utterly confused, X looked back to the basket to find several emeralds inside. Picking one up and inspecting it yielded that it really was one of the emeralds he'd searched for in another previous contest... like he suspected. With the top emerald still clenched in his soft, small palm, the variable noticed something else nestled between two emeralds underneath the one he'd picked up.

He placed the emerald back down to the side of the pile in the basket, and picked up what turned out to be... a piece of folded up paper. Setting the basket down on the floor next to him, he unfolded the paper and brought it up closer to his face. Something was scrawled on it in crayon, with big blue letters. X squinted his eyes, trying his best to read the poorly-written lettering on the note.

"I... am...um..." he began, pausing suddenly. "...huh?" X brought the paper even closer to his face, trying to decipher the extra shaky lettering of the next word. It seemed to have been attempted several times and scratched out before the final attempt glaring back at him, leaving indecipherable scribbles on the paper.

"I am... sorry...?" he finally managed to read out, his face falling. Oh, no... The variable wistfully looked up from the note to see Four shaking in front of him, deliberately avoiding eye contact.

"Do you... Do you like it...?" Four mumbled nervously, twiddling his pointer fingers together.

With no response from X, the blue integer started to sweat, closing in on himself.

"...Maybe this wasn't a good--oof!"

Four glanced down to see the smaller variable had jumped onto him, clinging tightly.

"Eh-?" Four gulped nervously and hesitantly, his eyes progressively widening. This whole situation; not to mention his reaction to it had all been so out-of-character for him. Feeling strange, his thoughts rushed by in a flurry, and his hands subconsciously found their way onto X's head.

"It's... It's okay, Four.." X wailed loudly, his face buried in 4's chest. "I forgive you... I've missed you..!"

Feeling himself tear up for the first time ever, Four squeezed X tightly. "I.. I missed you too, X... It's great to see you again..." He mumbled, mouth trembling. "I thought you.. never wanted to see me again..."

X pulled back to look up at Four, the both of them on the verge of crying. "That's not true-!" he insisted.

"What do you mean..?" Four peered down at X, puzzled as to what he was saying. "But... you left..."

X frowned, looking away. "I... I've never been good under pressure... I never know what to do..! Y-you told me to just go, so I-"

"No!!" Four asserted, pulling away to grip X by the shoulders. "I wanted you to stay!" he declared, eyes affixed on X. Realizing how aggressively he was acting, Four took a second to relax his tensed muscles and speak more softly. "I really wanted you to stay, X."

X's face fell, his expression deflating. "I don't know.." he fretted, trailing off for a moment before continuing.

"When you were gone, when I hosted B.F.B... the contestants... relied on me," the variable sheepishly told Four. "But I couldn't really do anything... I couldn't bring people back, I messed up reading the votes, I couldn't explain the contest properly... I even failed to eliminate David!" The variable poured his heart out to Four, to which the latter listened carefully. He couldn't help feeling more and more guilty as X continued to vent.

"I thought.. If I could somehow get Two's powers.... maybe I would be more useful to you, and to everyone... I'm just a useless variable, I can't do anything... I don't even know what my value is without extra help!" X hiccuped, sobbing loudly into Four's chest.

"Oh, X..." Four exhaled, grasping the frail, shaky variable tightly as if he were shielding him. "You don't need to have powers to be useful or worthy to me," he hummed softly, caressing the smaller one's head.

"You really think so..?" X asked, voice muffled with his head buried in X's torso. "Even... Even though I can't do the things you or Two can do..?"

"Yes, X," the blue integer answered. "I... I love you the way you are. I love you, X."

X looked up at Four, wiping tears from his eyes. "Oh, you do..?" Sniffling, he couldn't hold back tears from spilling out again. "That's.. so sweet.."

Full-on bawling, X couldn't stop himself from smiling like an idiot. "I love you too, Four!" Squishing the integer tightly yielded a yucky, gooey sound. In response, Four laughed, comically over-stretching his arms around X and nuzzling into him. squeezed the variable even more tightly, giving off a soft, doughy sound. The both of them giggled, rolling around on the floor completely oblivious to the shards of glass.

"Seven..." X mumbled, eyes suddenly growing wide. "That's my value! I know my value, Four!" The variable beamed, remarkably proud of himself. He began prancing up and down energetically, grinning from cheek-to-cheek.

"Yeah," Four replied, happily buzzing. "...I think I know mine, too." He added, gazing affectionately at X.

Chuckling, X gave Four a funny look. "What do you mean?"

"You're my value, X," he answered, smiling at the variable lovingly.

"Pfft, what? Your value's Four, Four!" X reinstated, jokingly. "Did you really forget?"

"No, I haven't forgotten.." The digit insisted. "I mean that I value you, X."

"O-oh..." X replied, a slight blush creeping onto his face. Flustered, he gazed down at his feet.

"X... Will you come back to host B.F.B with me?" Four begged, the pleading tone in his voice evident.

X hesitated for a moment, afraid. He took a deep breath, and bravely directed his gaze back up at Four. "...Okay. I will," he decided shyly. "I.. would love to host B.F.B with you," the variable proclaimed, more sure than he had ever been.

"Then let's get outta here!" Four eagerly jumped onto his feet, lending out his palm to X.

Daintily, X picked up the basket with one hand, extending out his pinky as if delicately holding a cup of tea. Four grasped X's other hand fiercely, yanking him up off the floor.

"Woaah-!"

Without hesitation, Four hoisted X onto his back, greeting him with a yelp from the yellow variable.

"Let's goooo!" he whirred, zipping away at the speed of sound

"Ahahaha-!" X trilled, his high-pitched voice cackling in joy.

Flying off beyond the horizon, the clouds above scattered just as the dawn began breaking. The night's final twinkle from the stars was gentle, almost as if saying 'thank you'.

Yeah... I'll have to tell her that once I get back, Four beamed.

...Thank you for helping me find my value.