Full Moon Elementary, West End of London, 12:45 PM

"Is there something wrong with him?"

Several kids watched as Hassen stared at the sky, his hands clasped on a forgotten soccer ball. He had been kicking it against the brick wall of the school, waiting for recess to end. He had spent the first ten minutes sitting in the sandbox, dragging his fingers around and making swirling patterns in the sand. But then the monitor had seen him and thrown him the soccer ball, telling him to get up and do something active. Hassen had rolled his eyes, but had obeyed, stepping to the concrete and kicking the ball as hard as he could. It had slammed against the side of the school, mere inches from a window looking into a busy fifth-grade class. He had spent the next fifteen minutes kicking it against the wall, until finally stopping the ball and bending to pick it up. He held it loosely to his chest as he tilted his head to the sky, watching the clouds pass through its winter-blue shade.

"I don't know," a young girl with pigtails spoke behind her cupped hand. "But he's still weird."

The kids around her nodded, the group keeping as far away from Hassen as it could. They ranged in age from five to seven, the younger half of the school's population.

"Hey, look!" one boy pointed to a girl with dark hair, struggling to push the door open. She wore a pink dress and sandals, her long hair pulled up in a ponytail. She looked to be no older than three.

"What's she doing out here?" the girl with pigtails shook her head. The boy next to her shrugged.

"I don't know, but isn't she always coming out here?"

"Where's she going?"

They looked to see her toddling toward Hassen, who had let the soccer ball drop from his hands. He seemed to be putting more and more force behind each kick, until it eventually bounced from the wall, heading straight for the toddler.

"Hey, watch out!"

Hassen cringed as the ball slammed against the girl's head. She was sobbing before she hit the ground, her hands flying to the wound. For the briefest of seconds, Hassen thought of running, but then his conscience got the best of him, and he instead raced towards the little girl. He knelt in front of her, though she refused to look at him.

"Hey, kid, you okay?"

She ignored him, her tears flowing just as quickly as ever. He waited a brief moment, put his hand her knee. She glared at him, shoving his hand away.

"Leave me 'lone!" her grey eyes were hard as steel, her round face pulled into a mask of anger. "You meanie!"

Hassen shook his head, ignoring her protests as he turned her face to the side, seeing a large bruise forming at her hairline. "I better take you to the nurse."

"No, you mean!" she stood, briefly showing him her pink pull-up, when Hassen grabbed her hand. "Let go!"

"I'm not that big a meanie," he said, getting to his feet. "I hurt you, and now I'm gonna help you."

He brought her to the nurse's office, where he was surprised to see a familiar face.

"Uncle Jess?"

A man with thick blonde hair turned to reveal average features and piercing grey eyes. His lips curled in a small smile.

"What seems to be the problem?" his French accent was apparent. Hassen stared a minute longer, then shook his head.

"Its this girl," he brought the toddler in front of him. "I was kicking a soccer ball at the wall. I missed it when it bounced off and it hit her pretty hard."

Jess lifted a brow, then got up and knelt before the children, taking the girl's face carefully in his hands.

"Well, it looks like a nasty bruise," he gently probed the area, making the girl wince. "But there doesn't seem to be anything else, no swelling…"

"Are you sure?" Hassen sounded worried. "It hit her pretty hard."

Jess chuckled. "Trust me, she's been through worse and gotten away scratch-free, haven't you, Carissa?"

The three-year-old blushed, nodding as she looked to the floor.

"I not like naps," she said quietly. "So I ask to go potty when the teacher turns the lights out."

Hassen looked confused. "Doesn't the teacher ever find out you're gone?"

She shook her head. "No, she sleeps just like we do. I just have to get back before snack time."

Jess laughed, then glanced at the small clock on his desk. "If I let you go now, you should have just enough time to get back."

"I'll take her," Hassen rose from his seat, glancing at Carissa. "I'll make sure she doesn't wander off again."

His uncle nodded, then motioned toward the small refrigerator. "Just remember to come back when you're done."

Hassen nodded, then took Carissa's hand. She didn't fight him this time, going willingly as he brought her back to her classroom. He stood on his toes as he glanced through the small window, seeing the lights were still off inside.

"You're all good," he whispered, and quietly pulled the door open. "But you better hurry."

Carissa nodded, not looking back as she slipped inside. He smiled, but his breath caught in his throat when her scent crossed his nose. It was like a mix of exotic wild flowers and coco, immersing him in a cloud of ecstasy as he walked back through empty hallways. He still looked lost as he slipped back into the nurse's office, just as Jess was preparing the insulin. He looked up to see the dreamy look on his nephew's face, feeling a small tug at the base of his heart. He had seen that look often enough in the pack, but never on someone so young, and he had the feeling it was just the beginning.

"So," he cleared his throat. "She got back in time?"

"Huh? What?" Hassen blinked, shaking his head as he came back to earth. "Oh, uh, yeah. She did."

"Good," Jess nodded, checking the syringe to see it held the right dose. "Now come here, this shouldn't take long."

Jess pulled a blue curtain around as Hassen sat on the bed. He lifted his sweater, revealing a white patch. He pulled back the edge, never flinching as the needle pressed into his flesh. In another minute, Jess replaced the white patch.

"Well, that should keep you for a while."

He got up and went to his desk, opening a drawer and tossing Hassen a small packet of crackers. Hassen tore the plastic with his teeth as he pulled down his shirt.

"Glad that's done," he said quietly. Jess shrugged.

"You're not the only one who has to deal with this, you know," he placed the needle in a red container marked 'Hazardous'. "I see several kids, teachers too, who have to through the same thing every day."

Hassen brushed crumbs from his face. "Really?"

Jess nodded. "Yeah, and trust me, they don't enjoy it anymore than you do."

"But what makes it happen?"

"It just means your body doesn't produce the right amount of sugar, and it needs help keeping the balance."

"Oh, okay."

Hassen slipped off the bed and went to the door, looking back to see Jess bent over a thick book. He'd seen that book plenty of times before, but his uncle never told him, or anybody, what it was about. All he knew was it was in a language no one in his family knew how to speak.

"I'll see you later, Uncle Jess," Hassen said quietly. He stepped into the hall without waiting for a reply. He'd learned long ago that, once Jess had his nose in that book, there was no getting him out of it.