I finally have a beta, yay! As a result I will be editing previous chapters, though there will be no major changes. However, any remaining errors are entirely my own.

Paring: Ansem/Xehanort

Rating: M (overall)

Warning: Spoilers for both games, I think. Based loosely on the Ansem reports from both games.

Disclaimer: Not mine

The beginning, Part III

Six months into the experiments and weeks of arguments and Xehanort had finally convinced Ansem they needed more help. Ansem agreed the experiment was growing beyond their capable minds. During a quiet dinner they had discussed the possible candidates.

That was how, Braig, Dilan, Even, Aeleus and Ienzo had joined the team. Ansem upon meeting them had come to the conclusion that they were bright individuals with strong ideas and personalities. They also possessed a hunger for knowledge that almost rivaled that of Xehanort's. With that in mind Ansem decided those five would make great contributions to his experiment.

The first time Ansem had gather the team to explain rules to the new members, Xehanort had seen a side of Ansem he never had before.

With the people of Radiant Garden he was a gentle ruler. He listened and solved their problems with ease and little commotion. The residents of Radiant Garden held such a high respect for Ansem they called him Ansem the Wise.

Ansem waved off the name with all the humility of a saint. Ansem never asked for anything in return which did not stop the residents of Radiant Garden from bestowing him with gifts and most of all their complete trust and respect.

The Ansem Radiant Garden knew was almost the same Ansem Xehanort knew, except with him Ansem was more relaxed. He was willing to show weakness, laughter and all the things Xehanort admired about him. But with his team, he was stern, cold and calculating he made sure the others understood the importance of their experiment and how imperative it was for all of them to keep it a secret.

The cold look Ansem had given Braig, Dilan, Even, Aeleus and Ienzo was enough to make the young men never wish to go against Ansem. It was then Xehanort realized how different Ansem was and he idly wondered how it would feel like to have those cold eyes turned on himself, he shuddered and hoped the day would never come.

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A year into the project and they had developed a nice routine; Ansem had eased up on his new apprentices. The heartless, they had quickly discovered did not like the light much but not just any light, it seemed the heartless absolutely abhorred bright light.

Ansem had theorized the heartless could sense the light the brightness or purity in a person's heart. The more pure a person's heart was the more the heartless wanted to destroy that heart. Ansem had also theorized the heartless were born from the darkness in a person's heart.

Unfortunately theories were all they were. The only real conclusion was what Ansem had already known; the heartless came from the heart, but until they could find a way to test the other theories there was no definite answer to the light versus dark theories. Though thus they only knew the heartless hated the light, but they weren't sure why.

It had taken Ansem sleepless nights next to Xehanort for them to come up with an adequate light frequency that could destroy a heartless. That light however took much power almost as much as it took to light the entirety of Radiant Garden and so far there had been no need to use the light.

They had also discovered the heartless hated light regardless of its potency and would become extremely hostile. Therefore when working with the creatures the lights were dimmed in an attempt to placate the heartless.

The conditions to working with the heartless were delicate. So it was in a dimly lit laboratory where their research took place.

The heartless were as mysterious as they were black. Ansem sometimes felt that he would never truly unlock the mystery behind their existence, but only sometimes. He was not a man to easily give up and he would not rest until he understood the heart and its mysteries.

Xehanort smiled at his teacher who was instructing the other's and turned to his make some notes on his log book. He heard Ansem tell Dilan to set the locks and finish up when there was a commotion. Slowly he turned to see what was happening.

One of the heartless cages was opened; Ansem and his apprentices stood frozen in shock as the small creature slithered about the room. It looked around its antennas twitching almost like a dog twitching its nose smelling. Smelling, searching looking for something its eyes locked on Xehanort.

The heartless stopped all movements for a fraction of a second before it launched itself at its target.

Xehanort watched in fascinated horror as the black creature melded onto the floor and like a black shadow moved beneath his feet. By the time Xehanort realized what was happening it was too late and he could not move.

The heartless rose from the ground and slowly travel up Xehanort's body. Regardless of the clothing he wore Xehanort could still feel the creature against his skin as it moved up his body. Xehanort felt a numbing cold left in the wake of the heartless' touch. And then he felt the creature curl its arm around his neck, coming into direct contact with his skin.

In that moment Xehanort knew what true fear was he felt the heartless sending tendrils into his heart. He felt it gripping his heart caressing his heart slowly, a purring noise escaping it lipless form, clearly enjoying the pleasure of touching a heart.

Xehanort was gripped with fear and he would have screamed except among that fear he could hear the heartless, feel the heartless, feel as it offered power beyond his imagination all in exchange of his heart.

And just as it came it was gone as the laboratory was flooded in light and the heartless and the hold on his heart retreaded. The heartless fell away from his body it have a loud shriek before it exploded into tiny pieces of light.

Ansem's apprentices quickly gather near Xehanort, but not too close. As they stood close to him, they stared as if waiting for him to explode like the heartless had. Xehanort however did not notice, he felt cold so cold.

Slowly seeing his friends shifting nervously out of his peripheral vision, Xehanort lifted his head and saw the curious looks his fellows were giving him. He fought the urge to shake, he would not show weakness.

Ansem broke through the semi circle and stood before Xehanort. Ansem could feel his heart pounding madly in his chest, had he been any slower he would have lost his apprentice.

"Are you alright?" He asked, gently taking Xehanort's face in his hands. Slowly he lifted his face making his apprentice look at him.

The amber eyes that looked back were calm inside however Xehanort shuddered. Unlike himself, Ansem was warm the hands on his face felt soothing and he was positive had the other not been there he could have embraced his teacher regardless of his protest and bask in warmth that seemed to radiate from him. Unfortunately they were not alone.

"I'm fine." The voice that spoke was steady and controlled and in Ansem's eyes Xehanort could see that his teacher was not fooled. Ansem however did not pursue the matter and let his hands rest on Xehanort's shoulders.

"Are you sure?" He asked once more, Xehanort nodded. The others seemed almost disappointed. Xehanort almost scoffed instead he shifted his eyes around and noticed not only had the light destroyed his attacker but the other heartless as well.

"The other heartless, they're gone." He whispered with some regret.

The others looked around taking in the fact but before anyone could say anything Ansem spoke.

"It does not matter." Ansem shook his head and began walking away leading Xehanort from the lab his apprentices following. "We may not know much about the heartless yet, but as far as I can tell they will not cease to exist. There will be more."

Ansem thought about reprimanding Dilan but it had been a mistake and like Xehanort had stated before, mistakes could be fixed; this one would not be repeated again.

"Come now, let us get some rest. We'll worry about heartless tomorrow." With the finality of the statement the matter was closed.

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That night sleep was beyond Xehanort's grasp as was rest, he paced his room. Earlier when the others had left Ansem had questioned him again, perhaps in hopes he would open up when he was away from the scrutiny of his fellow apprentice's, that however had not been the case.

So far in their research Xehanort had been the only one to be touched by a heartless and that made him feel alone. He had wanted to tell Ansem what he had felt, but for some reason he had found himself unable and unwilling to put into words what he had felt.

The feelings the creature had created when it had touched him; touched his heart, there were no words. And so he had once again reassured Ansem of his well being and that had been that.

Xehanort stopped his pacing and stepped out of his room to wonder the vast of halls of the castle. He didn't want to think of the incident of his feelings but he could not escape them it was the only thing on his mind.

The heartless had made him feel fear, dread and helpless. It had made him feel as if he was drowning in a pool of water. He felt as if he was falling so far into the dark but there at the bottom of the endless dark was power, knowledge.

There was an intoxicating lure that had beckoned him inviting him to own such power such knowledge and all he had to do was give up himself. What frightened him the most was the fact he had wanted it; he had wanted the power regardless of the cost. When the heartless had left him he had felt empty, cold and wanton. Why? Why would he want such terrible powers?

Suddenly Ansem's words came back to him.

"What I do believe is that you cannot change who you are regardless of your memory loss. If you, in the past, were a terrible person then you could not, possibly, be the person you are now. Your unconscious psyche would not allow it."

If that was true then what did his feelings say about him? That he had been right all along and he had in fact been a terrible person, is that why now he craved power; wanted it no matter what the cost was to himself?

Xehanort stopped his aimless wondering he felt another shudder wrack his body as he blinked back tears. The door he had stopped before suddenly opened and he was bathed in light, he flinched.

Ansem stood at the threshold of the door looking surprised to find his apprentice at his door. Turning teary eyes to his teacher, Xehanort remembered how warm Ansem had felt how safe he always felt with the man. Without thinking Xehanort stepped in front of Ansem and wrapped his arms around his neck burying his face on the blond man's neck he shivered.

In response Ansem's arms went around Xehanort's waist holding him close. In retrospect he knew he could have sent his apprentice on his way but he could not Xehanort had looked so lost. The feeling of warm soft lips on his neck made Ansem tense.

"Xehanort." At his words Xehanort tightened his hold. He knew Ansem would push him away, but he would not let go, he would not let go of the only person who made him feel warm and safe. Ansem was his champion he would make everything alright, he would keep him sane, he would fix him, he had to.

"Please." It was a broken whisper and Ansem was aware that Xehanort was shaking. "The heartless it," Xehanort shivered again, "I'm so cold."

Ansem knew then without a doubt the encounter with the heartless had affected Xehanort more than he had led on. That thought was however brief as he pulled back and stared at Xehanort. What he saw made his heart feel tight, fear need, lust and love.

Xehanort looked upon his mentor and knew what Ansem was seeing in his face perhaps in another situation he would have respected Ansem's trepidation but not now. Ansem was so warm and Xehanort was afraid he would never feel warm again. Throwing all caution to the wind he closed the small chasm between them and kissed Ansem's lips.

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A/N: Next chapter is a lemon and I'm so sorry to leave it there it just that, though the entire story is finished and betaed, I still need to finish writing the lemon and then I need to send it to my beta so bear with me, please. This also means the part with the lemon will be cut out of the next chapter but I'll post a link on my profile page, to the entry on my LJ, where I'll post the full chapter. Thank you and let me know what you think so far.