"What's in the box?"

The banker shifted his grip on the small cardboard box in his lap, turning away from the teenager sitting two seats away. He knew he shouldn't have sat at the back of the bus; next time he would stand. He ignored the freak—all done up in his wannabe-punk/metal/alternative rocker costume— hoping his silence would in turn silence the boy.

The boy worried at his lip ring for a moment, the smooth metal glinting dully in the autumn-tinted daylight. He was a curious person, and could leave no mystery presented to him unsolved. His fingers tapped a rapid staccato on his leather-clad leg for a moment, then he stood up and decisively sat next to the banker, abandoning his black backpack on his previous seat. He raised a finger, the black nail polish chipped, to tap the sleeve of the charcoal-grey suit.

The banker flinched away, "Don't touch me, you fag!"

The boy's eyes widened so dramatically, the eyeliner emphasizing the shock to an almost comical degree, that the banker began to feel guilty.

The boy retreated to his seat, clutching his backpack protectively to himself, his mouth set in an unnaturally straight line. The banker regretted his harsh words. It wasn't that he hated homosexuals—he just didn't want them to touch him, was all. It upset him to see such a young face so closed with suppressed hurt.

"It's a cat."

The boy's eyes flew to the box, where the banker was withdrawing a kitten, very small, very fluffy, and extremely plush. The teenager, slowly and solemnly, unzipped his backpack and brought out his own plush, a puppy with impossibly big eyes and a little ham-pink tongue hanging out.

They spoke simultaneously, "It's my good luck charm."