Ienzo's Secret

Aeleus and Even noticed almost immediately that Ienzo was acting strangely. The
apprentices were an all round tight group, but generally it was Braig, Dilan and
Xehanort that were considered one group, while Aeleus, Even and Ienzo made up
the other. Although to be fair, the main reason that Ienzo was with the pair was
because they were the ones less likely to accidently kill him.

But it wasn't long before even Ansem noticed that the youngest apprentice was
behaving out of character. The eight year old was remarkably efficient and mature;
always on time, always tidy, always polite. Now the boy was distracted, rarely
turned up when he was meant to and had a shouting match with his beloved
Master through his bedroom door. Apparently, the child was stressed.

"You can't really blame the kid" Braig said lazily, from this position above his four
friends. 5 of the 6 apprentices were gathered under one of the great leafy oaks in
Ansem's garden. The eldest- Braig- had his feet strapped to the lowest branch, so
was hanging- quite happily- upside down, between Aeleus and Dilan. Well his
head was, and his long dark brown hair was trailing on the grass.

"What do you mean?" Xehanort asked, tilting his head so his white hair fell over
one shoulder.

"I mean, you can't blame him for acting how he is" Braig clarified. He appeared to
be enjoying giving the appearance that he knew something the rest of them
didn't. Even wasn't at all impressed.

"As much as I like Ienzo, I honestly don't see how he can be excused from the
appalling behaviour he's been exhibiting" he said flatly, his light brown blue eyes
looking around at his companions.

"Well he's only a kid" Braig replied. "The pressure was going to get to him
eventually"

"I don't think that's it" Aeleus said thoughtfully, twirling a browned oak leaf in his
big, but surprisingly gentle, hands.

The others looked at him. On the occasion that the teen spoke, it was generally
something very insightful.

"He's been coping well enough thus far" Aeleus continued, slightly nervous at
being under his companion's scrutiny. "I personally think he's trying to hide
something"

Dilan was busy scrambling up the trunk of the oak they were sitting under, but
upon reaching Braig's branch he asked;

"Such as?"

"Well I'm not sure. It's probably something he's not supposed to be doing or he'd
at least tell either myself or Even. I'd guess it's something that needs almost
constant attention, which is why he's never where he should be or has appeared
to vanished into thin air. He's worried that he'll get caught doing whatever he's
doing and that's making him tense and irritable"

Aeleus broke off suddenly. The others quickly got over the mild shock at the
second youngest talking so much and looked around for the source of he's sudden
silence.

The topic of the discussion was walking over to them, looking tired and rather
scruffy but bore the expression of someone quite pleased with themselves.

"Hi guys" he greeted, smiling round at them all. They all noted that for some
indiscernible reason, he had a piece of straw caught in his black hair.

"Hey 'Zo" Braig greeted, holding out a hand to Ienzo. The latter slapped a high
five, then sat down next to Aeleus. He of course was as accustomed to Braig's
unusual habit of hanging upside down as the rest of them, as well as Dilan's fairly
new hobby of sitting on the branch. None of them really knew why the pair
preferred to be in the air, above the rest of them, but no one particularly cared.

"How is everyone?" Ienzo asked, absently removing the straw from his hair
attempting to look inconspicuous.

"Well enough" Xehanort responded, swiftly grabbing the straw from the youngers
hands. "What's this?"

Ienzo went faintly pink, but remaining true to character had an answer prepared-

"That would appear to be a straw Xehanort" he replied seriously, his face solemn.
Braig snorted.

Xehanort scowled. "You know perfectly well what I mean"

Ienzo shrugged. "I was in the town and saw Aerith and her brother. They asked if
I'd like to go to the stables and see the Chocobo's. I said I would, and yes I had
permission"

Now while this was perfectly feasible and neither Ienzo's voice nor his face
betrayed any hint of deception, no one believed him. They'd all known Ienzo since
he was brought among them at the age of 4 –well they weren't exactly sure how
old he was, but that's a different story. He'd been with them 4 years- and they all
knew perfectly well how skilled he was at hiding what he wished to be hidden.
Even found himself thinking of how he'd seen his young friend sneaking away in
the direction of Ansem's own stables as Aeleus wondered exactly how Ienzo had
met with the siblings when he had spent most of the day with them- he was on
good terms with Aerith and her brother had requested the presence of the
schemer before him.

Xehanort and Dilan both opened their mouths to press the point, but Ienzo swiftly
changed the subject to something guaranteed to distract at least two of the party.

"So what about today's experiment? 'Measuring the darkness in a human's heart
compared to sub-human and other wise animalistic hearts'" he recited. "What did
you think of Lord Ansem's conclusion?"

Xehanort and Even promptly rattled off their opinions along with references to
various past experiments, statistics and ideas for future tests.

"Dude, why do you guys bother remembering all that stuff? Why don't your little
genius brains just combust?" Braig asked sleepily once they'd finished.

Even gave him a look of disapproval. "It's physically impossible for our minds to
combust Braig. You study Physics, you should know that"

"I do, Even. Your just so much fun to wind up" Braig replied peaceably, but with a
spark of mischief in both his honey brown eyes.

"As much as I'd love to stay and wind Even up further, we really must be going"
Dilan sighed, jumping the two meters from the branch and landing with ease.
Braig dodged the hefty physics book that had just been thrown at him and
reached up to his ankles to untie the contraption attached to them. Swinging
upright with ease, he opted to leave the harness strung from the tree and began
the walk back up to the laboratories were the second experiment of the day
would be commencing. Aeleus picked up the discarded book and walked after
Braig with Dilan and Even. Xehanort looked pointedly at Ienzo who had apparently
been waiting for them all to go before shooting back to whatever he was hiding
from them. The eighteen year old was sharpest when it came to deception- next
to Ienzo of course.

"Heh, bye Xehanort" Ienzo smiled faintly, obediently following after the others,
Xehanort watching him every step of the way.

-----Ienzo's Secret-----

"Oh, that little brat!" Xehanort hissed with frustration.

Ienzo had disappeared in the 6 seconds Xehanort had turned his back to fetch his
lab coat of its hook. Braig snickered as the younger apprentice looked around in
vain.

"You don't honestly expect to stop him from doing exactly what the little twerp
wants do you?" Dilan said in a bored tone from his seat on the edge of his desk.

"Yes" Xehanort replied furiously, stomping over to the door and out into the
corridor.

"Ha, good luck with that" Braig said, chuckling. "We're lucky the kid is nothing like a
normal eight year old. If he was then we would have no castle as he would have
already blown it up 6 times."

"He does what I say" Aeleus and Even responded in sync.

"Only because you tell him to do things he wouldn't mind doing" Dilan said
confidently, throwing his pen at Braig for no reason except to see the brunette fall
of his seat trying to avoid it. Dilan smirked.

"If that child decides to do something I doubt there's a force on this planet that
could stop him"

That was when the white haired apprentice stormed back into the room positively
spitting with rage. His normally snow white hair and lab coat where stained with a
combination of blue and black ink, and his face had the quite depressing
appearance of being marked with black tears.

The other four stared at him blankly for a second before Braig piped up
nonchalantly;

"Did I mention 'Zo rigged his room?"

No one noticed that Ienzo had skulked back into the room until he pointed out a
flaw in Ansem's equations. Ansem was so busy being flustered and slightly
humiliated he didn't notice Xehanorts looks of disgust and loathing that were
directed to the youngest apprentice, nor did he see the various bits of straw that
had managed to find their way back into Ienzo's hair. The others noticed both
things, plus the slight smell of animal that was now following him.

That evening when the apprentices were eating dinner, Even confronted his young
friend about his growing secrecy and apparent lack of hygiene.

Ienzo looked at him blankly for less than a second, and then replied in an
annoyingly unaffected tone- "Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies"

Braig pointed the potato on the end of his fork at the boy. "Dude, don't give us any
of that sh-"

Aeleus smoothly cut across his superiors sentence. "Ienzo, we are merely growing
concerned and would appreciate a straight answer. What are you hiding from us
and why?"

Ienzo glanced up at him and speared a piece of carrot on his knife. "I expect you
would not approve of what I am doing, so I logically conceal it"

"As was suspected. Will you answer the first question?"

Ienzo shook his head promptly.

"Can I kill him please?" Xehanort asked seriously. Ienzo slid off his chair and
grabbed the book he'd been sitting on in one smooth motion. He held it in a way
that promised serious injury to anyone that got within a metre radius of him.

"He's kidding" Braig said absently. Neither Ienzo nor Xehanort looked convinced.
"Ienzo, tell us what you're hiding, or we'll find out some other way" he said,
adopting an uncharacteristically stern tone.

Ienzo let out a soft whine and clutched his book tighter, but shook his head. Even
wondered what the youngster was concealing that would be bad enough to refuse
to tell his friends and only companions.

"Then you need to be reminded of your position, Ienzo"

The 6 looked around to see their Master, Ansem, standing at the door. They all
leapt to their feet and tried to look nonchalant, but respectful.

Ansem was looking intently at his youngest apprentice. "Ienzo, I ask you to tell me
what you are hiding only once"

Ienzo looked at the floor.

"Then you are forbidden from leaving the castle-" Ienzo let out a small gasp. "-and
from reading"

Ienzo went white. Braig choked on the meat he'd managed to slip into his mouth.
Even's eyes widened with astonishment and Aeleus' mouth opened in disbelief.
Dilan wore a suitably shocked expression, but Xehanort looked smugly satisfied.
Apparently he was still sore about the ink incident.

Ansem walked over to where the child stood and with a firm deliberate tug, pulled
the book from his arms. He turned and walked out the room and closed the door
without a backwards glance. No-one was outside to see his sorrowful sigh and
rather depressed stance as he departed for his office. Ansem hated punishing his
beloved apprentices.

Back in the dining room everyone was silent. Even only had time to make a move
towards getting out of his chair, before Ienzo burst into tears and ran out.

--

Everyone was marvelling at how the youngest apprentice was coping with the
Reading Ban (Yes, it warrants capital letters). He hadn't apologised or had a
nervous breakdown. Nor had his behaviour improved; in fact it had worsened. He
was rarely seen outside lab time and when he was it was only for meals- that he
was now skipping- and when he was asleep. This went on for around a week,
before Even found out half of exactly what his young friends had been up to.

The man had been walking through the library, half looking for the Physics book
Braig wanted and half searching for the yet again missing boy. At around the
centre of the library, his wanderings were stopped by a small thump. Worried that
it was one of the more heavy and expensive books, Even looked down the shelves
of books to his right and set off in the direction of the noise. After a little while he
came across the source of the noise. A book was lying almost in the exact centre of
the pathway. It was too far from the shelves to have fallen off, but the amount of
noise it made meant that it must have been dropped from a considerable height.
Swiftly putting his intelligent mind to the fairly trivial task of solving the mystery,
Even looked around immediately noting the ladder propped against one of the
shelves. He walked over to it and, after a seconds hesitation, climbed up it. The top
of the bookshelf was cleaner than was expected- completely lacking dust. The
reason of that was identified immediately. Even's Brown-Blue eyes widened as
they met the shocked and afraid light blue eyes of Ienzo.

Ienzo knew the game was up. He was surrounded with books, one was open on
his lap, it was impossible for the clever man before him not to immediately realise
that he'd been disobeying their master for the entire week.

"Ienzo!"

-----Ienzo's Secret-----

"Owowowowowowwww!" Ienzo whined. Even had him by his ear and was
dragging him along the corridor. The misbehaving child was being taken to Ansem.

"Even, you are hurting me!" the boy whimpered, trying to keep up with his elders
fast pace at the same time as he attempted to dislodge Even's hand.

"What's the twerp done now?"

Dilan and Braig walked up to the pair, both clutching guns. Apparently, Braig had
finally convinced his friend to try his preferred weapon, rather than lances or
spears.

"He's deliberately disobeyed Lord Ansem's orders! I caught him reading in the
library" Even said, practically breathing fire.

"I think I just saw smoke come out of your nostrils, Even" Ienzo said sulkily, folding
his arms. Rather than respond with words, Even twisted his prisoners ear.

"Ow!"

"Are you taking him to Ansem?" Dilan asked, nonchalantly. All three men were
studiously ignoring the 8 year old start having a tantrum. Braig privately thought it
was rather entertaining to watch the usually well behaved kid act like a proper 8
year old for once.

"Of course" Vexen replied. "This sort of behaviour cannot be allow- Argh!"

Ienzo had grabbed his captors other hand and sunk his sharp baby teeth into its
exposed skin. As predicted Even dropped him with his other hand. The 'scheming
brat!', shot off down the corridor, with Even, Braig and Dilan hot on his heels; Even
screeching about germs.

Because running straight into the gardens meant that he'd have to stop and open
the door, Ienzo opted for leading the others on a mad ramble of the Castle's
grounds. This proved a bad idea, as the next corner he turned ended up with him
running straight into Aeleus. A fruitless attempt at trying to dodge round the fifth
apprentice's form resulted in Ienzo caught again, this time by the arm. By the time
Braig, Dilan and Even had caught up the youngest was screaming blue murder.

From his position kneeling on the floor (He couldn't hold the eight year old from his
usual height) Aeleus shot a questioning look at the other three that asked the
obvious question.

"He was reading" Dilan sighed. "He won't go to Ansem" To support this statement,
Ienzo's screaming reached an extremely painful pitch.

"Shh!" Even said crossly, stooping and covering the boys mouth. This only worked
for a few seconds, before the man whipped his hand back crying- "He licked it! Ew!"

"Ew?" Braig snickered, while Aeleus rolled his eyes.

"Ienzo, if you tell us why you were reading and what you are hiding, I won't take
you to Ansem" Aeleus offered.

Braig was further amused by the sight of Ienzo continuing to scream, but also fold
his arms and adopt a serious expression as he thought the proposal over. The
shouting halted abruptly.

"Thank you. Now why where you reading?"

"'Cos if I didn't, I'd die" Ienzo replied in a serious tone. "And I don't want to tell
Ansem about N-" he broke off sharply.

Braig dropped to his knees in front of Ienzo. "'Nih'?"

Ienzo bit his lip. "Fine, we are going to Ansem's" the free shooter said flatly,
standing up again.

"No! Don't tell Master I was bad" Ienzo burst into tears. "I'll show you her if you
don't tell Ansem!"

"Her?"

The four looked at each other. They could always convince Ienzo to tell the
scientist later, or tell Xehanort... It was about then when Ienzo played his trump
card- Puppy Eyes.

"Fine, you promise?" Even asked, inspecting the teeth marks on his left hand.

Ienzo nodded furiously, and Aeleus let him go. Ienzo promptly ran off.

There was a few seconds pause, before all four took up the chase.

"I may let Xehanort kill him" Dilan said conversationally as they followed Ienzo
through the library. The boy hadn't slowed down since Aeleus had let him go. They
weren't entirely sure if Ienzo was leading them to his Secret, or if he was just
running away.

"Where is he anyway?" Braig asked.

"With Ansem at the stables" Even informed him, swerving to avoid a book case.
Ienzo disappeared through a door leading to the courtyard, but a few seconds
later his head re-emerged.

"Hurry up" he called and then disappeared again.

"Brat..." Dilan complained as they filed through the door. From apparently
nowhere, Ienzo grabbed Braig and Aeleus' hand and dragged them off through a
gap between the walls of the main laboratory and the sleeping quarters. They
were immediately met by a huge wooden wall. It was the back of the barn
containing the stables. Ienzo led them across the long wild grass to a very unsafe
looking ladder. Looking up, Braig saw a door leading out into the open air, with
several pieces of straw poking out of the opening. Well, that answered where the
straw had been coming from- Ienzo had been sneaking into the hay loft.
The boy in question was now busy scrambling up the unstable ladder, swinging
wildly. His antics were giving Even and Aeleus heart attacks.

"Ienzo, be careful!" Even called up; it seemed that he had forgiven the eight year
old for biting his hand.

"Don't worry, I've been doing this for weeks" Ienzo replied, pulling his small frame
through the door frame. He had vanished from view, but his voice called back
down. "You can come up now"

All four looked doubtfully at the ladder. "One at a time?" Braig suggested.

"Yeah"

Braig nominated himself to be first, and climbed up with the skill of a monkey. He
hauled his considerably bigger body into Ienzo's secret place and looked around
for Ienzo and his now infamous secret.

Three of the walls were made up of barrels of straw and hay, and a substantial
amount of the flooring. What Ienzo had done with the straw to make space for his
Secret was a total mystery. Braig's eyes found his young friend, and he almost fell
back through the door way -it was fortunate that he didn't because if he had done
so, he would have crushed both Dilan who was on the ladder and Even who was
standing directly beneath him.

Nestled in Ienzo's arms was a...

-----Ienzo's Secret-----

Nestled in Ienzo's arms was a...

Chocobo.

A baby chocobo.

Braig, Dilan, Even and Aeleus were crouching in a wonky semicircle, staring at the
creature in Ienzo's arms. It was, quite frankly, adorable. And this was coming from
a group of men. It had beautiful downy feathers of varying shades of yellow; and all the feathers were so fluffy it looked rather like a sunshine pompom. The
chocobo's black eyes, shone inquisitively out of the sea of feathers and every now
and again it would utter a soft 'Kweh'.

"Well. That explains a lot" Braig grinned, reaching out to pet the bundle of
feathers. "The straw, the animal smell and all that time you disappeared. It must
have been tricky to look after it all by yourself.

The chocobo let out a little kweh that sounded very similar to a purr as its head
was stroked gently.

"It's a she" Ienzo informed Braig happily, squeezing the chocobo happily. "Lumaria
told me"

"Aerith's brother?" Aeleus said thoughtfully. "Yes, he'd be able to get you a
chocobo, if any one could"

"What's her name?" Even asked, looking torn between wanting to stroke the
creature and his belief that all animals were dirty and flea ridden.

"Nicole" Ienzo replied earnestly, holding her out towards the scientist. "You can
touch her, Even"

Looking at the chocobo doubtfully, Even cautiously extended a hand, and carefully
placed it on the birds head. "She's very soft" he said absently, stroking her in a
more confident way. In a swift movement, Ienzo had placed her in Even's arms and
retreated back so Nicole couldn't be returned. Unperturbed, Nicole snuggled up
against the shocked scientists chest and buried her head under his chin.

"Nyeh! Ienzo take it back" Even said frantically, uncertain as to how he could force
the bird off him without harming it.

"Aw, but she likes you!" Braig teased, swinging both hands behind his head,
grinning happily. "And you look so cute"

Even shot his friend a death glare, and debated on throwing the bundle of yellow
feathers at him. He decided not to, and resorted to attempting to coax the bird off
him.

Dilan sniggered and then turned to Ienzo. "So how've you been feeding it?"

"Lumaria gives me things. Like food, and the brushes you need and stuff"

"Where'd you put all the straw that was here?"

"I pushed it all off the edge of this platform. It landed in the empty stall. I did it at
night when no-one was awake and Lumaria-"

"-Helped you" Braig nodded. "I think we need to speak to that kid"

"Ienzo, did it not scare you? You fear the dark, why go through the effort of
sneaking out, only to spend your time in the darkness pushing hay bales around?"
Even asked, giving up on trying to remove the chocobo who had taken a liking to
him and was now just stroking it absently.

Ienzo shivered a little, presumably because of unpleasant memories, but
shrugged with a small smile.

"The darkness is scary, but if you keep hold of your light, you'll be okay. I was
making sure I could look after the light, and the darkness and I think it's the same
thing. So it wasn't as scary"

There was a pause, and Braig wondered for a moment if that was one of those
things that Ienzo said that they really should remember, but then Dilan spoke
again.

"So. What are we going to do now?"

"Nicole!" Ienzo called worriedly, and the chocobo immediately sprung from Even's
arms and into Ienzo's.

"You let me struggle with-" Even began crossly, but Braig smoothly cut across him.

"Good question. Any answers?"

"Yeah" Ienzo said, frowning at them. "Let me keep looking after her"

"'Zo , dude, it's not that simple"

"It is" Ienzo said matter-of-factly. "I've been doing it for ages, I can do it till she's
big enough for Lumaria to look after her again. She's too little for Aerith's stables
and the others pick on her. If I give her back when she's bigger then it's not
bird-napping either"

Cue another silence. "Bird-napping" Dilan said flatly.

"...It's not bird-napping if I give her back. Lumaria says-"

"Aerith doesn't know you have Nicole does she?" Aeleus asked, as he, Dilan, Braig
and Even mentally cursed the 11 year old Lumaria.

"No, but she wont mind. She knows it's because Nicole's too little"

Braig mimed shooting himself. Ienzo scowled.

"Ienzo, you can't just steal chocobo's" Even berated, yanking at his hair. "If Master
Ansem finds out-"

"Technically Lumaria stole her" Ienzo said stubbornly, walking backwards, away
from Even, was his pet in his arms.

"That's not the point! You have to give her back Ienzo, as soon as is physically
possible"

"No, I do not" Ienzo scowled.

"Yes, you do" Even retorted.

"I'm not going to let her get bullied by things bigger than she is. Even, she could
die!" Ienzo shot back.

"Ienzo, Aerith would never let her die-"

"Aerith isn't always there! She only works there sometimes and Nicole will have to
be there forever!" Ienzo was holding the bird in his arms much too tight. Nicole
was trying to escape his grip, but he didn't seem to notice. The boy was still
backing away. He was about to hit the hay and straw bales that were acting as
one of the walls. All five of them expected him to walk back into the makeshift wall
and come to a halt, but the structure of it was weaker than expected and as Ienzo
retreated into it, it broke apart.

"Ienzo!"

The boy let out a surprised shout and tried to grab something to stop his descent.
But his arms were still holding Nicole and both of them fell backwards and
disappeared in a cloud of straw and dust.

------Ienzo's Secret-----

Even, Braig, Dilan and Aeleus shot forward in a blur of panicked movement. A series of painful thuds resounded throughout the stable punctuated with a loud
crack, before all sound stopped. Braig leapt straight down the gap,
without waiting to gauge the distance or find out where Ienzo had fallen. It was a
miracle that he didn't land right on top of the boy, or his chocobo. Thanking any
deity listening that he hadn't broken his legs, Braig crouched down next to Ienzo
and tried to identify the damage.

Ienzo was whimpering like an injured dog, trying to pull himself into a sitting
position, but was restrained by his right arm that was lying at a crooked angle. He
was covered in small scratches, all over any exposed skin and a purple bruise was
appearing over his right eye. Nuzzling gently into the side of his face was the
apparently unharmed Nicole.

Dilan dropped down- with considerably more grace and calculation- next to the pair
and frowned. Kneeling down beside Ienzo, he gently took hold of his right arm and
tried to straighten it. The result was a muffled scream, as the boy clamped his
mouth shut in an effort not to appear injured or weak. He already hated the idea
of receiving pity from anyone, even at the age of eight.

"His arms broken" Dilan diagnosed calling back up to the anxious faces of Aeleus
and Even. Neither had jumped down, primarily because of lack of space and likely
hood of landing on someone already down there, but also because both harboured
a fear of heights- Aeleus in particular preferred keeping his feet on the ground.

Ienzo's arms was swelling and turning an ugly shade of purplish-blue. With Braig's
help he had finally managed to sit up, and was looking around frantically for Nicole
who'd vanished.

"Where's Nicole?" he asked, ignoring Even's instructions on what to do with his
arm. "Where's Nicole gone?"

"Honestly kiddo, the bird is not of top concern list right now" Braig replied, trying to
'elevate his arm above heart level, to reduce the swelling' without hurting him.

"Yes, we are slightly more worried about you at the moment, we'll discuss the
chocobo-"

"-Now" Braig, Ienzo and Dilan looked up from the broken arm, as Even and Aeleus
looked diagonally down. Ansem looked back at them, arms folded and with a calm
expression that contrasted with every other aspect of his body. Behind him stood
Xehanort, who was holding the infant chocobo in the same manner as someone
with very little experience with babies. I.e- he was holding the poor creature
upside down (which could be excused as it was rather hard to tell which end was
which as it was all feathers) and at arm's length, looking at it with mild disgust.

"You have approximately 30 seconds to explain this, Braig" Ansem said flatly, his
eyes boring holes in his eldest apprentice.

"Heh, well you see Ansem-"

"It's my fault, sir" Ienzo cut cross, managing to force himself to his feet totally
disregarding the pain his arm would be causing him. "I've been looking after Nicole,
that's her name, for weeks. That's why I was always disappearing; I was coming
to look after her" He looked at the hay covered floor.

"So what did you do when I forbade you from leaving?" Ansem asked, eyes
narrowed as he already knew what the answer must be.

"Well, I came on coming, sir. But strictly speaking you told me I wasn't allowed to
leave the castle and your stables are a part of it"

The apprentices wondered if Ansem was going to bring up the reading ban, and if
so, what Ienzo was going to answer with. As it happened Ansem did not, but went
on to something that was probably going to cause the youngest apprentice just as
much as hassle.

Ansem scowled slightly as he realised that Ienzo was right, but that wasn't the point. He decided to press a slightly more urgent sunject, however.

"So where exactly did you get this creature?" Ansem asked, taking Nicole from
Xehanort and holding it in a considerably safer manner.

"The stables in Radiant Garden. The one where Aerith works" Ienzo replied after a
pause.

"Did you retrieve it on your own?"

"Yes" Ienzo replied defiantly, looking up at Ansem directly for the first time.

"No one has been providing you with food for it, or helping you care for it?" the
way the Lord asked, it was like he knew...

"No" Ienzo answered, making a mental note to warn his partner in crime of this at
his first chance.

"Hmm. Well, I advise that you recruit the help of Aerith to help look after, did you
say it's name was Nicole? Or Lumaria, he would be able to assist you" Ansem, said
thoughtfully, his lips twitching up into a smile.

"You mean, I can keep her?!" Ienzo asked, disbelieving.

"Oh yes. I always had a soft spot for Chocobo's" Ansem smiled, depositing Nicole
into Ienzo's working arm. "Even?"

"Yes, sir?" Even called down, his hair swinging madly over the edge.

"Please see to Ienzo's arm, it is quite a setback to have him without the use of his
writing hand" Ansem instructed. He reached down and gave the chocobo a brief
pet and then swept out of the stables.

"I can't believe you got out of that"

"Dude, score!"

Xehanort and Braig cried out at the same time, Braig offering a hand in high five.
Ienzo used his left hand to slap it. Next moment, he had been smacked on the
back of the head.

"Even!"

"You ever pull a stunt like that again young man, and I will see to it that you are
kept on a leash until you're 60" Even said wryly. "Can you move your fingers?"

Ienzo tried, but all that happened was he let out a yelp. "You've broken your arm,
come on. To the medical room"

Ienzo allowed himself to be pulled off, and Aeleus decided not to point out that the
boy was still clutching Nicole as Ienzo looked far too amused by the situation to
bother.

"I thought he was going to say; 'To the Lab!'" Dilan said conversationally, looking
around the stables.

"Or; 'To the batmobile'!" Braig added cheerfully.

"I wouldn't have put it past him to say both" Aeleus commented, with a rare smirk.

Braig and Dilan laughed, then the latter asked, looking around the mess of hay,
straw and broken wood; "So who's going to clean this up?"

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Years later, when a man the same as Ienzo but different was choosing the name of his weapon, his thoughts turned to half forgotten memories of his first, and only, pet; the one he had left behind when he fell prey to the darkness.

His name had been changed, but it was a tribute to Ienzo as it was the made up of the same letters with an 'X' added. In what was possibly the last nostalgic and sentimental thing Zexion ever did, he created a name from the anagram of Nicole combined with the letter 'X' to create;

Lexicon

Authors Note-

Please be aware that this was originally posted on deviantART in five chapters....

Apart from that, not much to say except PLEASE review!