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The ice caves wait

Sheena woke up wearily…sleep had come quickly last night, so quick in fact that one moment her head had touched the pillow and the next she was snoozing away. She had to rub her eyes; they hurt from looking out the frosted window to the bright cheeriness of the morning. The birds were chirping merrily on the bare trees outside and the children slid across the slippery streets of Flanior with their mothers calling out behind them.

She laid her chin in her right palm looking at one particular child with short, pokey crimson hair bounce up and down the icy paths without a care in the world; he couldn't have been older than seven. His mother was behind him, bundled up in numerous tasseled shawls, yelling out various warnings that her child would slip and fall. The boy didn't listen, he continued to run with a silly grin plastered strongly on his plump lips, coming past a sweet shop he tried to pause in front of it but he was to fast to remain in control for too long. He started to wave his arms dramatically, through the window Sheena saw the mother seemed to gasp and rush forward.

Sheena smiled slightly and shook her head, kids these days. She turned around to see if the pink knight was up yet. He was, and for a second she could have sworn he was starring at her but following Zelos' steady watch she noticed he was looking straight out the same window at the same mother and child she was looking at before. His gaze was hard but unreadable and there was even the tiniest trace of a frown…

"Uh…" Sheena cleared her throat after a moment, "Zelos?"

The said man snapped out of it and slowly turned to her as if still in a daze, "Huh?"

Sheena waved briefly, "Nothing, you just looked lost there for a while. Anyways it seems our breakfast has already been served…we should eat. Today is the day after all…"

For a second Zelos' gaze wandered back out the window where the mother had just picked up her violently sobbing son…and then back to her confused face, "…Yeah, sure…"

They had gotten out of bed but Zelos lingered by his pretending to make his bed sheets proper, even though he rarely bothered with it on usual mornings at the doctor's house.

Sheena was a tad worried, for this was not normal behavior from the master of ruining a perfect morning with a lewd remark. She watched him from the table not yet taking her seat. His obvious glances out the window told her his problems lay there.

"You know…" she started, at once mistaking the problem for something else, "If we're careful we won't slip."

Zelos turned to her, "Ah…what?" he had not heard most of the remark.

She sighed and took her seat but still faced him, "Outside Zelos. I know it's really icy out there but naturally if you go sprinting down the road you'll trip."

He was still a bit confused as he left his bed to take the seat opposite her, "Oh. Of course. I'll make sure you don't fall."

"Not me you fool!" Sheena seethed, "I was talking about you. Staring out the window like that, it's apperant you're scared to death of falling. Hmph! Mr. Chosen and his dignity, big deal."

Zelos glowed a dull shade of pink at the mention of his wandering eyes but covered it up with a hasty yawn. Before Sheena had a chance to pick out anything unusual Zelos' complexion was back to looking like smooth china.

Trying to change the direction of the topic he poked at his bowl and said disgustingly, "And what's this revolting goop?"

"Porridge." Sheena answered simply, as she scooped up a good helping of the warm, sticky substance, "Oh don't give me that! It tastes better than it looks."

Zelos turned up his nose defiantly, "There's no way in hell that stuff's going to touch my tummy."

"It's good for you Zelos, it's loaded with nutrients. It'll help heal your ankle." Sheena informed slurping up her spoon with some difficulty.

Zelos winced, "My ankle feels a lot better. I don't need that."

Doctor Anthony chose this moment to walk in on the conversing two, "Yes you do actually. Sheena's right, you need all the strength you can gather. I'm guessing it'll be another full day before I'll let you use your feet to excess."

"What?" the couple asked in unison.

"—Well, naturally you all know oatmeal is good for the body…I mean it even gives you softer ski--"

"No, no. Not that." Zelos sounded slightly annoyed, "Whadya' mean, 'it'll be another full day?'"

Anthony rubbed the sides of his nose, "Mr. Wilder. I know your ankle feels perfectly fine but if you over exert it the ligaments have a chance of tearing again. Surely you don't want that?"

Zelos grunted, "Of course not, I'm no fool--" He glanced briefly at Sheena who was smirking silently, before continuing, "But today was the day we were planning to go down to the ice caves."

"That counts as over-exerting yourself." Anthony nodded, "Rest is the best remedy for you."

Sheena's face fell but she tried not to let that show through her voice, "Listen doctor. I-we need to go down to the ice caves right away, if not…then…we…may not get what I'm looking for." She rushed the last part so feverishly that the doctor barely caught on to it.

"Ah, but certainly you can go with that other group of yours and leave Zelos to rest?" Anthony suggested, "Think of your comrade, doesn't his health come first?"

Sheena's heart sank even lower so that it felt as though it was touching the pit of the stomach…in truth she wanted him to come along not knowing why really. It seemed that his dumb luck was always getting them out of tricky situations when they were alone, stranded somewhere far way. Yet, if he were to get hurt again, it would be her fault…

Thankfully Zelos responded to this, "Leave me? No way, I'm not staying in this dingy little place all by my lonesome. Sheeenaaa! Do something!" he whined childishly.

Sheena thought for a second before answering, "Come on. He'll go on for ages before shutting up." In the background Zelos continue to stretch the syllables of her name, now she dropped her voice to a whisper, "As much as I hate to admit it…Zelos has some skill that will come in handy. I promise I'll watch over him and make sure he doesn't do anything much."

Doctor Anthony pondered on that for a very long time…ten long, dreadful minutes of Zelos whining non-stop before he cleared his throat, "……I'll lose business if anyone hears about this. But fine, go, do as you please. Let me warn you though, if your ankle worsens you'll being paying double."

Zelos grinned, "Thanks a bunch bud!"

Anthony shook his head and turned back to Sheena who was tipping the edge of her bowl into her mouth, "And how about you? Is your fever all gone."

She swallowed hard and wiped her mouth on the back of her hand, "It's gone. That medicine really was something…although it kept me up all night."

"—and me." Zelos interjected in a hurt tone, "You should have heard her Doc…"

Sheena sent him a glare that specifically told him to shut up.

The doctor shook his head, "Are you positive Sheena? As a doctor I'm supposed to cure you, not make it worse."

Sheena smiled in understanding, "No one's going to know about it. And besides, if you wouldn't let me leave, I'd just break down the door."

"Yeah." Zelos commented, "There's no stopping my demonic banshee."

At the word my her heart gave a slight shudder that she could not comprehend, "W-what he said. It's like caging Big Foot, thoroughly impossible."

Anthony gave her a puzzled look before saying, "Do as you must, but take care nonetheless. Now, don't mind me, I have papers to sort out."

Then the doctor moved around the table to a secluded corner of the room where a single desk stood with a mount of papers.

Zelos grinned from ear-to-ear, "Great! I didn't think I could spend one more minute in this place."

Sheena didn't say anything except for a short nod, concentrating on eating her porridge.

"Hey Sheena--"

But Zelos didn't get to finish due to a loud bang and the front door swung open, with Genis and Lloyd toppling right through and landing face first on the mat. Doctor Anthony gave a sudden gasp, Sheena dropped her spoon and Zelos dumped his full bowl straight into Sheena's empty one.

"Genis!" Lloyd yelped bringing out his hands in front of him, "What was that for?"

The young mage pouted and sat stubbornly on the rug, "That's for pushing me down the stairs!"

Lloyd got up and furiously dusted himself and said, "I never pushed you! You tripped over your own two feet!"

"Nuh-ah!" he grumbled, "You pushed me! I know it, I saw you! You and your big white boots!"

Lloyd took a moment to look down at his feet before snapping, "My boots are brown!"

Genis blinked for a few seconds, "…oh…ah…"

Colette hid her feet shamefully although she had no recollection of ever doing anything, "I-im sorry Genis, i-it was probably me…"

The boy softened his glare and stared at Colette's shoes, "Naw…I don't think it was you. I don't remember seeing any blue…just green."

At that moment Nioshe trotted in through the still open door that was slightly off it hinges. He sniffed Raine and Regal and Presea before taking a detour straight for Genis. The giant dog bounded towards Genis, nipping at the boy's shirt pockets trying desperately to rip it apart.

"Uhhwaa! Lloyd get him off me! Get him off me!" Genis screamed panicking at the sight of Noishe's pointed teeth.

Forgetting he was mad at his friend, Lloyd rushed to his side and tackled the Protozan's scruffy neck, "Come on boy! You know Genis, leave him alone 'kay?"

"Ooohhh! Lloyd! Genis!" Colette wrung her hands together in sisterly anguish at the sight of Noishe gone wild.

Raine simply shook her head and with an all-knowing look she too bent down near her brother and said, "Empty your pockets Genis."

"Whaaa--?" he wailed as the dog's big wet nose searched somewhere in his hair.

Sighing deeply Raine reached over him and pulled out two tiny lumps from his side pocket, looking at them she shook her head once more.

Presea who remained placid while all this commotion was going on briefly commented, "It's seemed Noishe was after the mint candies."

"So it seems." Regal chuckled but silenced himself with the look Genis gave him.

The minute Noishe left his side and started pawing open Raine's hand Genis scrambled back up and behind Lloyd.

"Genis." Said Raine sternly, "I thought I had warned you not to take these from the hotel."

"B-but Raine!" Genis cowered more in Lloyd's shadow, "Some lady at the desk just gave it to me."

Raine scowled deeply, "So that's why she charged us ten gald more."

Not used to being blatantly ignored Zelos cleared his throat, "Well that was one hell of a hello my beautiful hunnies."

Colette immediately waved energetically but Raine continued to threaten her brother with sharp glares.

Also ignoring him Sheena greeted them all with another nod, "I see Noishe's feeling better."

Lloyd beamed back at her, "Yeah! He just needed some rest…but now he has a strange craving for anything sweet…"

Raine turned away from Genis and walked up to Sheena holding a brown paper package in one hand, "Here, the penguinist gloves are ready. I suppose you would want them?"

Sheena stood up and met the professor half way, "Yeah…thanks Raine."

Zelos bounced beside the two, "So? When do we leave?"

"As soon as you two change." Raine studied Sheena's pink dress for a moment, "You'll positively freeze in that."

Sheena nodded and glanced around the room until she spotted Doctor Anthony petting Noishe on his gigantic head, "Hey Anthony?" she said, "What happened to our clothes?"

"Oh, yes." He got up and Noishe followed him, "It's in the laundry room, I had the Flanoir cleaning service ladies take care of it. Let me tell you, blood is not the easiest stain to remove."

Sheena smiled in thanks, "Great, I'll be right back."

She left the room full of people and swung open the door of the bathroom. The walked past the small slippery tiles of the cold washroom until she reached another door which led to the room her clothes were in.

The room was tiny and unfinished; the floor was completely covered in dusty cement except for a small patch of cream carpet, which to her great surprise seemed recently steamed. There was a wooden table, the room's only decoration, on top of the carpet. Noticing the basket of familiar clothes sitting on the table she moved forward to get hers.

Sheena turned her head to the side, Zelos hadn't followed her. She cursed him under her breath; she would have to bring his clothes with her. Locking the door she grabbed her purple robes and proceeded to change into them. She expertly tied a tight bow behind her back and scooped up Zelos' clothes.

Before she could leave however Sheena noticed a golden gleam coming from the base of the basket, "What's this?" she asked no one in particular, putting the clothes back on the table as she said this.

She reached inside and pulled out the same golden locket she had accidentally slept on in that miserable cave a couple days ago. Opening it up once more she noticed a tiny detail she had left out before, cradled in Zelos' mother's arms was the infant Zelos himself, bundled in white linen…and on the other side of the heart shaped locket was a mirror…how typical.


Finally done! Anywho, I have nothing much to say except next chapter will be their journey to the ice caves. Can't you just feel the excitement? Bah…don't forget to review.

Thanks to: mercy-angel-09, windwhisprer, I feel pretty!

Oh yeah, all anonymous reviewers, please don't stop reviewing :( I thank you all very, very much to take the time to tell me what you think and it makes me happy to see many reviews. So…the purple button waits. Oh, how it loves being clicked:D