Author's Note: I doubt I have the right… but this one's for Sylvia Viridian. I hope you don't mind a fic dedicated to you Sylvia, if you don't like it say the word and I'll pull it down. Placed after the ficlet, "A blue Feather", it falls in early in my notes for the second book. In game time that would be sometime after Persea and Regal join right before Persea regains her humanity. Some "Sage" spoilers within. For those who didn't know… a Lynx is specie of cat.

Wind passed through the tree branches, made the smallest of them stir…. As for the largest, only the greatest typhoon would make road sized branches stir. Leaning against the window Lloyd stared at the glistening dark brown bark that was wreathed in shivering grey green leaves. It was wrong, living in a tree. Birds lived in trees, squirrels lived in trees, and cats went up trees to get to the squirrels and birds, people had no business in trees. While he wasn't above climbing a tree to get a good view, or just for the heck of it, he had drawn his limit at staying in a tree for a few hours to avoid a Raineing.

Now he was staying in an inn that rested on one of the lower branches of a giant tree…

Too much tree for him, he'd have left, gone off to wander (or just climb down and be on the ground for a little) but…

He couldn't leave, he was the only swordsman.

"'Morning bud!"

Correction, he was the only good swordsman in the group. He didn't trust Regal, Sheena was still hurt from Kr- Derris fa Sith's attack in the Tower, Raine couldn't fight, Genis was emotionally drained, and Persea was way too young to be fighting (and she was a girl, girl's weren't supposed to fight, especially little ones), and Colette…

He closed his eyes, willed himself not to weep. She was weak, sick, the crest he'd given her had brought her back but she was still not well. And he swore, she would never be in danger, he would always be there to protect her! But swords could do nothing against sickness, so he had to sit and wait while Raine patiently nursed Colette back to health.

"Why the glum face?" Zelos companionably draped an arm around the young swordsman's shoulders. "With the ultra gorgeous beauty locked away with the little angel we've got plenty of opportunity for fun… I know a few places to hang out here. Ozette isn't so stuffy like it seems on the surface…"

Clenching his fists, anger, exhaustion, pain, raged in him. Lloyd closed his eyes, shrugged off the Tethe'alla Chosen's arm.

"Zelos… I just wanna be alone for a little, alright?"

"Bud… you sulking here, it ain't gunna do anyone any good, just go out fro a bit, get some fresh air or something, it'll do you good."

Lloyd's left hand spasomed, he felt like he was clenching his hand on ice. Shuddering he let the burden fall, walked of with only a grunt to serve as an answer to Zelos' suggestion. Shocked –normally people were begging for his time, or to "hang" with him- the white clad man ran a hand through his fiery locks.

"What the hell's his problem?"

Since Lloyd wasn't around to answer it Zelos was left to wonder alone. Eventually he shrugged it off, Lloyd's problem, not his problem, and decided to pick up some chow from the kitchen. He paused; a flash of light on the floor caught his attention. A blue feather, about the length of his longest finger, had drifted to the wooden floor. Zelos blinked, knelt, moved to pick it up.

"Ow, shit!"

The innocent looking feather that was a soft sky blue with a thin vein of silver in its heart was by no means innocent. The small cut along his fingers, and the red liquid that dripped from the stiff, razor sharp, outer edges of the feather told him that. Gingerly he reached out, picked up the feather by the silver part that (if Tetheallan's still were to use that bumpkin's form of writing) would have been the section that someone would write with.

"What the hell are you doing in my bud's hand? You ain't no blue bird feather, that's for sure. "

Feathers didn't talk, so he got no answer. Resting between his fingers, it only shone with a silver tinted blue radiance; the light wasn't too dissimilar to star light. On impulse, he pocketed it; he'd give it back to Lloyd when he came back from his sulking fest. Or when Zelos came back form a party, yeah there was no party going on but he –with his glorious ultra intelligent mind that was hidden under a mess of gorgeous fire hued locks- could easily arrange one


Sighing Lloyd walked out of the inn, his swords rattled at his side as he walked along the branch that served as the ground in this place. He walked, passed the shadows of the buildings, the sky was just starting to fill with color, Aska's Crown was banishing the darkness of the sky.

Aska's Crown… he closed his eyes, pain flared in his chest. Despite his best efforts a bit of wetness crept past his eyes, every time he thought, every time he considered anything…

He was reminded of a man who was dead.

A man who was not dead yet might as well have been dead.

Wiping at his eyes the Iselian Swordsman took a deep shuddering breath, he had already cried, had raged, he'd cursed the night sky as if the man who had caused him that pain would hear his curses. He'd worn that part of him out, and now was numb. But being numb meant ice, and now the ice was melting it seemed.

He needed Kratos to be there, to shake him back to reality, to explain what he didn't understand; he needed that other sword to cover his back, that voice to offer advice. He needed, wanted, the man's guidance, and if Kratos were to come to him now, to even say that he couldn't take back everything he'd done but he'd help fix what was broke… Lloyd would of snatched at that chance, that one chance to make everything right again.

But when Kratos came to them, those few fleeting moments he only offered cryptic words, vague advice, those dark eyes were dead, and it was not Kratos who he was seeing. He saw Derris Fa Sith, the Angel of Death, and he'd begun to think that Kratos would never come back...

Until last night, until he'd seen the old Kratos, just for a second, and then he'd understood. The man was two fold, Kratos was two people. The Mercenary, the Angel, two titles, two people, yet they were the same man.

Lloyd sighed, it was to confusing, thinking hurt, remembering hurt, yet if he didn't think, didn't remember…

"Lloyden…" A hand closed over his shoulder. "What is wrong?"

"N... nothing…" Lloyd hiccupped, curled away from the touch and snuggled against his blankets, hid his face by burrowing it into his crossed arms.

"You… have never lied to me before." Kratos' voice was pained, and Lloyd wished he could have sank into the earth, disappeared, anything to avoid that voice and those pain filled eyes that gazed down on him somberly. When he realized nothing was going to happen, and Kratos wasn't going to leave, Lloyd managed to choke out one word, the rest came in a flood and the tears behind his eyes ran down his face in a rain.

"M… mom, I was thinking about her… I..."


"It… hurts…" Lloyd shivered and was startled when he heard the click of two buttons being unfastened. There was a soft sigh, and warmth and a faint smell of steel, oil, leather, and well… Kratos fell about him as the man draped his cape over him.

"Lloyden… I wish I could take away the pain, if I could I would go back and do anything to spare you from this, even if it meant my own death... I can not, for that I am sorry."

He would lose everything, the good, the bad, he would lose everything, and he didn't want to lose anything.

"Remembrance is… difficult." The mercenary murmured. "Yet we never forget, we never forget the fallen, we never forget those who passed before us, but how we remember is defined by who they were to us. True remembrance is not merely a fond moment of reminiscence that we embark upon when we lose those close to us. In order to remember, to do honor, we hold onto everything. Good and bad, we remember and in the end take perhaps a mere fragment of the fallen into us to carry on. When someone dies and we remember we hold onto them for the rest of our days. We live for them, even though they can no longer be with us… Because of that, because we hold onto them, they never die, as we live for them, for their honor, they live through us."

Lloyd found himself sobbing into the Mercenary's arm. Kvar's lies, Kvar's promises, the pain of denying, of trusting his instinct and turning from Kvar to Kratos had cost him. He had remembered her screams, Kvar had magically put them in his mind and every time he slept he had heard them till the hearing had broken him… Rocking him, holding him, the mercenary tried to sooth his pain, never knowing the true depth of it because Lloyd hadn't dared tell him. Lloyd had told Raine and she'd talked of trauma, stress, told him that it would pass, that no one could do something like that with magic… He hadn't dared tell Kratos, Kratos wouldn't have believed him.

"You would have understood." Lloyd closed his eyes, and more tears leaked out.

A small voice, quiet, irrational, whispered that that was why Kratos had left. Because he had known, and he had left, decided to leave, because he knew.

"It's…. not my fault…"

Wasn't it though? For not understanding, for not putting it all together fast enough, wasn't what happened, his fault because he hadn't figured it out and found the answer?

Miserable he sat on the edge of the branch, stared at nothing while the whole of Ozette woke up around him and began their normal routines. He sat on the edge or their lives, not seen, not heard. He was bewildered, wondering what had happened.

But he didn't know, things had spiraled out of control and he just didn't know anymore...

He closed is eyes, wished that he could fade away, just… go away where everything stopped hurting, where he didn't need these answers, back to when remembering didn't hurt. But that time had ended long ago, had ended when he had thoughtlessly looked into the light of the Oracle and said "Cool, look at that guys! Let's go check it out!".


Sniffing the air Genis smiled at the familiar scent of cookies. Once, not too long ago he'd had blinked back tears and wrestled with his sadness for the whole day. But now he smiled, he could think of the better times, think of the long talks, think of how he had helped her, even in the end. He was sad of course, but it was a gentle kind of sadness, not a gapping emptiness that made him want to cry every time he thought of it. The memories that had made him bleed, that had made him hurt, stopped making him bleed and hurt after a while. Time, while not the answer, distanced the pain, allowed him to think it over and some point in the journey he had stopped crying, stopped hurting, or rather stopped hurting as much. He missed her, of course, and he always would, but it was a gentle missing. When he turned to show her, or to explain something to her and she wasn't there and the knowledge came to him that he couldn't walk out of town to find her and explain, he didn't feel like he was dying from the emptiness.

He would wince, the pain in his heart would flare up, and then gently subside and he would sigh at both their losses.

Because even as he had lost her, she had lost him, and everything else...

Picking his way down the stairs he paused, watched Zelos storm out of the inn muttering something about a party...

Figures only Zelos would think now's the time to have a party, he's a wanted criminal, we're traveling with a murderer, Sheena's still weak from Kratos' attack on her from the Tower, and Raine's taking care of Colette who's sick! And he runs off to have a party, what a jack ass!

Shaking his head in disgust Genis waited until the red head was gone, then finished coming down the stairs. The smell of cookies from the nearby bakery was stronger, after the storm was over someone had walked through the rooms, opened up the windows to let the smell of wet wood and greenery in. Seeing a perfect opportunity the baker had started a little earlier then was his norm and so the tempting scent of cookies and pastries wafted in and would probably lure most of the inn's population outside and right to his door. Genis' stomach rumbled and the small half elf had to admit it was a good plan. It might have worked, if the man had not had the worlds best cookie cooker in the whole word under the opposition's roof.

Smirking, the half elf decided that it was time to beat a human at their own game.

"Sticky cookies are the best type, more fun, and part of making a god meal is making it fun." Marble explained while Genis loyally wrote down everything. "You have cooks, serious somber types who obsess over flavor and spices, but food has to be an experience or –no matter how good it tastes- it will be quickly forgotten."

"But I thought sticky cookies weren't cooked enough."

"Normally… but I have a little secret to tell you. You mustn't write it down now, for it wouldn't be a secret for long if anyone else read the book."

Genis set aside his book, looked into those sparkling grey eyes, and swore on Martel to keep the secret. Pleased, Marble had told him and his eyes lit up. It was brilliant, perfect! He smiled and she smiled in response and they talked of cooking and he thought up a few new twists… She had smiled, encouraged him, and he promised up and down to bring her and everyone else in the ranch –minus the Desians- his first batch of "secret" chocolate chip cookies.

Humming he made his way to the kitchen, the cook wasn't up yet, so he made himself at home. He took some flour, some eggs, butter; he even found a sack of chocolate chunks! Happy that he wasn't going to have to improvise, he snatched a chair, dragged it to the magi tech stove and clambered up. He brought up all the ingredients with a perfectly cast wind spell then once everything was in place rubbed his hands, an evil sounding cackle –not at all like Raine's ruin mode, it was a cooking cackle not a crazy "mode" cackle!- came to his lips. Soon the fire… er burner stove thing… was working in full swing and he –wearing some kitchen gloves that the chief had left out- slid the first batch of cookies into the stove. He'd let them cook about half way, fish them out, then put a generous dalop of maple syrup before sliding them back in to finish cooking.


Lloyd sighed, looked up from his "sulking" the only part of him seen by some pass buying costumer was the chestnut hued locks stir as he moved to glare at noise that had interrupted him. He sat between two barrels filled with who knew what on the wooden side of some general goods store. One leg was tucked beneath him (a perfect spot for his bent head) the other leg was sprawled out in front of him. He had been listening to the shop keeper's door open and close so many times he thought he was going insane from listening to that blasted bell. It jingled, and jangled, and rang, and it wasn't annoying so much as another source of pain. Bells, he'd thought he'd grow to hate them after Tylor had died but he hadn't. He still liked the sound even though the noise brought him a little bit of pain every time he heard it. It was a small pain though, a slight pain that once had been large, crippling. Pain took the place of numb then stayed and as more time went on shrank. Keeping busy, not thinking, that had helped for a while. But eventually he had thought about Tylor, and had turned to Kratos about his oldest friend's death when it finally hit him all at once.

Closing his eyes Lloyd could still hear Kratos' advice, could remember the comfort the man had offered… even as he could feel the blade slide into his stomach, could see the distant dead eyes shatter and reveal a mad desperation and a self loathing that knew no bounds.

"Hey, you!"

Lloyd blinked, stared at the fat shop keeper's beefy face that had –somehow- come to loom less then a few feet away from him.

"No loitering!"

"Huh?" He blinked dumbly at the man, not quite understanding what the whole "loitering" thing was.

"Get away from my shop; you're creeping out my customers! Listen to me you sword wearing half-elf poor brat, you get away from my shop or I'll call the constable on your sorry ass!"

Lloyd felt his face scrunch up, and his glare must have been formidable because the man backed off.

"I wasn't hanging around here anyways." Lloyd snarled, pulling himself to his feet, he brushed past the merchant, but paused just for a second. "You know… pissing off someone with a sword's really stupid. Next swordsman loitering at your shop might just decide to cut off parts of you."

Lloyd didn't watch the man scramble back in fear, didn't really care, he just went on his way back to the inn. Ignoring the people around him he only paused when he got to the inn. He sniffed… cookies… who in Luna's name would be making cookies at-? He looked to Aska, gauged His flight, and winced. Well it was two hours shy of noon; anyone could cook cookies now if they wanted to. He pulled open the door, a few people were eating, and he blinked as he saw that the inn's cook was amongst the happy dinners. Walking to the kitchen, deciding that he should do something about the ache in his belly. With one hand he rapped on the counter, the other was clenched around one of the hilts of his swords, his eyes were locked on the strangers, the mess of merchants, travelers, and priests that had flocked to the inn turned restaurant. Any one of them could be with the Renegades, the Desians, or members of Cruxis and…

"Sylvarant to Lloyd, I said; "what do you want to eat"?"

Blinking Lloyd turned at the cook, or rather the cook's white bulbous hat that loomed over the counter.

"Eh, whatever." He reached out, and on whim tapped the hat so that it fell forward into the "cooks" small face.

"Hey!" Genis sputtered, the hat suddenly was surrounded by a mess of spiky silver. "For that, it's tomato soup for you!"

Lloyd only managed a tired laugh and went back to watching everyone in the inn's common room. Raine wasn't here, Colette wasn't, and Sheena wasn't here either. Well Raine never came down, Colette was still to sick –that's why Raine never came down- and Sheena was probably with Raine keeping Colette entertained while making light of her wounded leg. Regal had bluntly told them that he was going to be staying in his room as it would be unwise for him to have been seen, and Persea… well no one knew why she stayed upstairs since she didn't talk to anyone.

"Your soup, Lloyd." Genis tossed a plate up and Lloyd caught it before it landed on the counter and (probably) broke.

"Strangest soup I've ever seen, it even smells like chocolate." Lloyd sniffed at the cookie. "Did you totally ruin a good piece of chocolate by putting it in my soup? You dork, you know tomatoes are evil!"

Then he reached out and swatted at the hat again. Genis' answering wind spell was easily ducked but set his ribbons to flaring out behind him. He was lucky; priest hats, merchant's notes and contracts, and one traveler's tattered cape went flying around the common room.

"Opps…" Genis winced as he realized he might get them chucked out of another inn over this.

Wolfing down the cookie that was stuck to his gloves, he licked his fingers (ignoring lint and the like) and peered over Genis and looked to the stove. There, untouched was a whole plateful of chocolate chip cookies. Hey, if they were going to get kicked out he couldn't stop it from happening, but he could easily save those cookies. Drawing his sword he leaned forward and skewered as many as he could with one thrust of his blade.

"My cookies!" Genis screamed.

"Mumph?" Lloyd looked up from eating the treats off of his blade.

"My cookies!" Genis' voice was going into Ruin Mode shrillness, and the once angry people in the common room were showing enough common sense to get scared.

"Glaph mumph glargle…"

"MY COOKIES!" Genis shrieked, red light wrapped around his frame and starlets of fire whispered around him.

Lloyd hastily swallowed.

"No fire spells, we're in a tree for Shadows sake."

"You… grrr… I'll…"


The purple aura faded as Genis recalled his lightning mana.

"No fair!" Genis wailed. "Those were for me!"

"I left you with twenty, I only took four. And you had some already."

"No I didn't!"

"Crumbs, all around your mouth." Lloyd smirked and Genis grumbled something about how swordsman should stay dumb, things were easier that way.

For the first time that day Lloyd smiled.

"Where'd you learn to cook these anyways?" Lloyd asked.

"Oh… Marble taught me her secret recipe." Genis said with a hint of sadness in his eyes, yet despite -or perhaps to spite that sadness- the sadness he smiled.

When the door opened and closed and the bell above the inn's door rang out Lloyd got to his feet.

"Thanks for the cookies Genis, I'm gunna lie down for a bit."

Genis blinked, stared at him, his eyes sharp, inquisitive.

"Lloyd, what's wron-"

"Nothing, hey, you got a customer."

Then when Genis was looking away Lloyd made a break for it, though why he bothered running he wasn't too sure. Genis knew where his room was, it actually was right next to Raine's, it wasn't like he got all that far by running.

But he ran anyways.


"Damn it, it's not fair!" Lloyd swiped at his eyes, brushed away the tears and then pulled the cookies off of his sword so that he could at least do something besides feel sorry for himself.

Or rather do something while he was feeling sorry for himself.

He set the cookies aside, not at all hungry anymore, and stared numbly at the air in front of him. From below he heard the door open and close, heard that bell... He blinked, stared at the cookies on his bed and then at his black-brown smeared sword.

He heard the bell again, but when the ringing ended he wasn't staring blankly ahead, he was on his feet, up and doing, and he had a lot to do.


"Whine?" Noishe cocked his head to the side as he stared at his master and wondered at the once red clad boy's sanity.

"Trust me Noishy, I know what I'm doing. Now is it tight enough?"

Noishe snaked his head down and gave it an experimental tug, considering how bit the green and silver hued creature was he knocked Lloyd off of his feet. Lloyd laughed, stood, his twin swords clattered against his sides and the rope tail whispered around his feet. Red and black was the color of the tail, he was garbed in his black pants and tunic that Kratos had given him months ago, and wore (instead of the cape) long ribbons of red.

"Kinda tigerish, eh boy?"

Noishe squinted up his face, tilted his head to the side, looked this way and that… then shook his head.

"Spoil sport."


"Well bark back at you." Lloyd shook his head, and the ribbons jingled, as he had tied the bells that hung over the inn's door to the tips of his neck ribbons. A quick trip to a general good store and he'd bought bells and thread and had looped the bells through the thread and had tied those around his boots. "You are not ruining this!"

Picking up a small sack filled with cookies and candy he swung it over his shoulder and jingled out of the stables. Noishe's stare wasn't the only worry filled look he got, but he ignored them all and went to the square whistling a merry tune. Spotting a child in rather tattered looking clothing he walked up to them. Cold, cynical, poverty hardened eyes locked on him but he ignored it, walked up to the child with a smile and opened the sack.

At the wonderful smells within the little boy licked his lips, then stared at him in complete shock as he fished around then offered him one of Genis' special chocolate chip cookies.

Lloyd tried to remember how Tylor had started the game in Iselia, it was so hard to remember, so long ago. It seemed Tylor had always been a "Tiger" and had always been his friend. Unable to recall he decided he'd just have to make his own way.

He bent low, and in a loud whisper told the boy that he could have as many cookies as he wanted, but only if he brought as many of his friends and as many of his friend's friends as he could find. Giving the child an hour and a place Lloyd said there would be a few rules, a game, but win or lose the candy and cookies were theirs.

Smiling the child ran off, calling out, scrambling across the branch road as fast as his feet could carry him.

Lloyd smiled, and jangled off to the town square, bells ringing out a merry tune that for once reflected his lightening heart.


The square was alive with children, laughing, giggling. A red and black blur darted around and the twenty or so children gamely gave chase. Sometimes a sweet would fall from the "Lynx's" bag, others were laid out when the players grew tired and all would rest under the shade of the greenery that serves as a roof for this strangely placed town. He smirked, one spectacular jump had gotten him on a roof, and another had gotten him down from that roof. With only a second to spare he dove inside of an empty barrel while the children looked for him. His tail was a dead give away, as it hung over the side of the barrel, jingling. He made it jingle, gave it a few tugs to offer a hint to his searchers. Closer and closer came the voices, they sneaked, or thought they were sneaking, and just when he was certain they were on top of him he pulled the tail inside. They giggled; snickered, thought they had him.

Little did they know that he had them. The treat bag was low, they were in good humor but tired, he would end this hunt right now…

It was with a twinge that he realized that though he knew they didn't want to stop, he had to stop. It was a cruel world when the treat bags actually had limits to how much they could hold.

The world was cruel in a lot of ways, but in that moment he cursed the limits of his treat bag the loudest.

At the last second he mock growled, made the barrel rock back and forth with his thrashing. The squeaked, clapped, the closest moved away though. And that was the sound he was listening for. Shoving his shoulder against the side he caused the barrel to tip. He spilled out, abandoning the bag. One of them found it, and suddenly "Lloyd the Lynx" became a lot less interesting and the mashed candy and few cookies a lot more.

Chuckling, Lloyd decided it was safe to stop running. His humor so good that he didn't even note one stare that he got from the adults around him as he made his way back to the inn.


"Lloyd, bud!" Zelos swooped into the room like he owned it and blinked as he stared at the younger swordsman who was fighting on his trademark red shirt. "Hey, why don't you unbutton it then put it on then re-button it?"

"Try to count the buttons Zelos." Lloyd challenged, his voice muffled by the red fabric.

"Can't man, too many of them and I'm something of a math genius."

Lloyd rolled his eyes, thought Zelos couldn't see the move.

"What're you here…" Lloyd got his arms through and his head popped out after a few tugs. "…for?"

"Does the great Zelos have to have a reason for hanging with his semi-nude bud?"

Lloyd offered his best death glare and Zelos laughed, it was a nervous laugh though.

"Par-tahy, my young bumpkin, costume party. I'm not letting you sulk all day long in this dusty old room. Come on, I promised I'd teach ya hunny snagging and you're gunna get lessons!"

"Umm…" Lloyd blinked. "Costume party, I don't have…"

"Just pick up a mask, we'll be on the branch with all the music and fun, I'll meet you there!"

Then Zelos ran off to bother Regal by the sounds of it.

"Hmmm costume party…" Lloyd looked down at his red shirt, and then looked at his packs at the black tunic that hung half in half out.


"Bud…" Zelos put a hand over his masked face. "You really let me down; it's an embarrassment to me that I call you my friend."

"What?" Lloyd twirled the tail in his hands, which jingled merrily as –after a quick talk with Corrine before he had left- he had a new set of bells for the party.

"You are jingling Lloyd."

"So?" Lloyd then did a quick dance step that Zelos had shown him earlier, kind of a prowling half step, and he jingled up a storm.

Bells around his boots, bells around his "tail" and bells around his neck –or rather one bell- he wore his black and red "Lynx" costume with obvious pride. Decked out in his glossy pink and white attire, with only a feathered mask over his face, Zelos rolled his eyes and let out a sigh at his friend's poor taste.

"Bud, everyone's staring at you."

"So? You said being looked at was a sign that hunny snagging was working."

"You don't want the guys staring; you want the girls, not the guys!"

"Umm… I'm gunna go get a drink."

"Nothing alcoholic!" Zelos called after him. He couldn't believe that he'd just said that, but then the ultra hot gorgeous hunny had been very firm about what would happen to a part of Zelos that he valued if Lloyd got drunk.

Lloyd's evil smirk made the Chosen's blood go like ice, little jerk would probably get drunk just to get him in trouble…

"Can't believe that I have to baby sit him, he's old enough to take care of himself, but nooo…" Zelos growled, deciding to go over to some secluded corner where he could better scope out the potential dancing partners (mainly the most beautiful hunnies on the floor) before he made any moves. He leaned against a knot on the tree (It was the size of a small boulder) and glass of champagne in one hand looked at the dancers. Low and behold, Lloyd did snag a hunny all on his own. But… man was he going about it all wrong. He was talking to her, just chatting all friendly like. No ass pinching, no hints, no moves, no nothing. They chatted and Lloyd waved her off when she offered to dance.

Then the kid jingled off to the food stand and proceeded to pig out.

"Only one he gets and he turns her down flat. Man, bud, you need a lot of help. To more lessons to come, hopefully they'll sink in…" To his solitary toast he drank deeply, perhaps more deeply then he should of. When he got his nose out of the glass he was startled to find that his solitude wasn't all that solitary. He blinked, stared at the guy who'd dared approach him.

"Hey, all non-hunnies and losers go that a way." Zelos told the masked man. The guy was rather large, but then Zelos had his sword so he wasn't too worried. Wearing a dark blue his mask was of some sort of hunting bird, and that long jagged beak looked evil… "Yo did you hear me, I don't want you near me."

The man's cloak rustled around his ankles, it was a light blue with some fancy silver embroidery running through it. Hell if he wasn't just a –mite- drunk Zelos would have called 'em a bunch of knotted up wings…

"You have something that doesn't belong to you."


"Ust ereile..." The man hissed, and Zelos' hand snapped over the hilt of his blade.

"Look, buddy, I didn't steal anything from anyone and…"

Faster then Zelos could blink hands shot forward, sank into his shoulders, and the cap with a sigh shivered and fell apart… No, it changed, and framed in flared out wings was a man wearing a beaked bird mask.

Zelos dropped his glass, stared in numb horror up into those black eyes ringed with deceptive soft looking blue feathers. Before the Chosen could make a noise he felt a hand go into his pocket then withdrew and he was shoved back.

"Erell-ne mereth, yar'ashi, sith Zelos."

Mind reeling he watched the wings fold to the man's side, weave together and interlock into what appeared to be a cape.

Zelos fumbled with his angelic, he wasn't the best student of the language, but he wasn't a complete dunce either.

"Erell… steal… Mereth… mine…. Yar… back… Ashi… time… Sith… kill…" He chucked in what little he knew about the cryptic manner of angelic, the things said and unsaid and realized what he'd muttered was flawed. "Don't steal what is mine again, or I'll kill you."

He reached, felt at the pocket and then froze as he realized what had been inside.

"That freak nearly scared me shitless for a damned feather?" Zelos shook his head, looked around. His attacker was no where to be seen. "What the hell… and that was damned good wine too." Then he remembered his hand, the small cut, the icy cold. Hell, that bastard deserved that feather and what it did to him.

Figuring that was revenge enough Zelos shrugged off the weird incident and went back to doing what was important.

He looked around the room trying to figure which of the masked hunnies were worth his time.


"Excuse me, Lloyd… Irving?"

Looking up from his third plate of food it was a mess of cooked bird, bread, some odd and end greens and a brownie, the swordsman turned to the raspy voice that had known his name. He blinked, stared at the hawk mask, it was harsh, bestial, and so different from the white smiling -featureless in their sameness- faces that he'd seen all night long.

"Umm yeah… that's me. Who are you to know my… umm you know what, never mind. What's up?"

"You dropped this."

Calloused hands held a small blue feather; it was the color of sky with a falling silver star to serve as its vein. Reaching out he opened his pocket that lay over his heart, felt around, then stared at the feather, at the blue clad man who offered it.

"Th… thanks. It means a lot to me."

Those black eyes looked down at him; the man offered nothing save a brooding stare so Lloyd ignored him and put the feather where it belonged.

"A friend of mine gave it to me… I guess I've been a little out of it to not notice it was gone… is there anything I could do to pay you back, I don't have a lot of Gald but…"

Confident the Seraph feather was secure Lloyd looked up to find that the person he was speaking to was gone. There hadn't been a mark that he'd even been there at all.