A First Borrowing

2. Curiosity – Nate’s first excursion into the human world

AU: ??? (Nathan Sullivan is a borrower in a world in which borrowers are common knowledge)

Twelve years old was rather young for Nathan to learn to borrow, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

He was far from rebellious or daring by nature. Quiet and respectful of the rules, of which there were many. With borrowers being known to humans, it was sort of necessary.

Nate understood that, even though the humans had mostly agreed to leave borrowers alone, that it was still dangerous out in the world. Even so, he argued that it would do no harm for him to get a head start on learning to survive. Evidently that was hard enough to argue with that he got his way in the end.

Truth be told, Nate was dying for a glimpse of the human world. It was all so much bigger than the community he grew up in, in more ways than one. Humans had far more at their fingertips than Nate could ever hope to underground. The most exciting learning experience he had to look forward to was studying a trade. He had a deep hunger in his mind that longed for more to learn.

So one could imagine Nathan’s excitement when the first place his father took him to borrow was full of homework. Spanning several grades, the dining room table was full of the stuff to the point that Nate’s father repeatedly chided him to focus on filling his bag with materials.

Compared to that, the rest of the flat was fairly standard. It was a decent distance from the community so it couldn’t easily be traced if worst came to worst. There wasn’t much to learn about the humans that lived here, but it seemed to Nate that it was mostly kids.

In their last room before they returned, Nate noticed something that his father, knowingly or not, overlooked. It looked like a scrap of loose leaf paper folded two or three times, tucked in the space behind a small bookshelf, with a colorful “Hello!” scrawled on the front in pencil crayon.

Intrigue got the best of him and, checking to see if his father was looking, Nate unfolded the paper. It read, in carefully printed block letters:

My name is Stan. I am ten years old. I don’t know any borowers, I promise I’m nice! Will you be my friend?

“Leave it.”

Nate’s father’s voice melted the endeared smile he didn’t notice was forming. He hurried to fold the note back as it was. His dad gave a gesture for Nate to follow, and he knew they were about to leave.

Before he obeyed, Nathan hesitated. He wasn’t usually impulsive, especially when it came to safety. This kid seemed sweet, though. Perhaps he really was nice.

Nathan wasn’t sure if he’d ever find out, but for now, he surreptitiously took a pencil tip from his bag and scrawled a quick and small “Hi” next to the larger, more colorful greeting.