Ienzo never talked to anyone, and rarely anyone would talk to him. Well, except for Lea—who babbled off to anyone who would listen—and Even, though Even was usually just asking Ienzo to get him something he needed for his latest experiment.
The young boy jumped slightly at the sudden voice, but turned his head to face the source. A young girl, even younger than himself, with shoulder length red hair smiled at him warmly and handed him a rosy flower. It had been a tradition between the two for almost a year now; Kairi would pick a flower she thought was the prettiest of that day's batch, and she'd give it to Ienzo. To them both, it was their way of expressing their friendship, even though it was mostly one-sided. Ienzo always accepted the flower, for he didn't want to upset the girl, but he would never give her anything in return. Not even a smile, or any other form of acknowledgment besides a blink. But Kairi did not seem to mind; she would just smile, and if Ienzo was sitting on a bench or on the fountain's side, she'd sit next to him. Either way, they'd always end up in a one-sided conversation.
"How are you this morning?" Kairi asked cheerfully, like she always did.
Ienzo just twiddled the flower stem in between his fingers.
"I'm having a wonderful day.," she continued, blissfully unaware of her companion's silence. Kairi gasped and jumped up. "Oh!" And I almost forgot!" She ran off a little before turning around to shout, "Stay right there! I'll be right back! Okay?" And then she continued on her way.
Ienzo examined his flower of the day more closely. Today's flower was a rose-pink orchard, one of Kairi's favorite flowers. He remembered her saying once how she loved the smell of orchards better than roses. Ienzo wanted to ask why she'd relate orchards to roses, but he didn't say anything. Like always.
Sometimes Ienzo wondered why he never spoke. He remembered the harsh memory that made him vow he'd never speak out again....but sometimes we was afraid his voice was no longer there.Some people have asked him if he was a mute, others asked Master Ansem if he was just going through a phase. But the answer they received was either a blank stare from Ienzo, or an, "I really don't know," from everyone else...
Kairi was back shortly after she left; maybe a mere five minutes passed by. Ienzo had moved, but only a little. Previously he was sitting on a bench, observing the fountain and later Kairi's flower, but when Kairi got back he was sitting on the fountain's ledge. She held he hands behind her back, a devious smile on her innocent face.
Ienzo just gave her his trademark blank stare.
"Ta da~!" the young girl sang, holding out two ice cream bars. "Sea salt ice cream!"
Ienzo cocked his head slightly.
Kairi giggled and handed him one of the bars. "It's really good!" She assured, "Don't worry, you'll love it!" Her smile grew warm again.
Ienzo looked from Kairi, to the ice cream bar....to back at Kairi. Ice cream bar. Kairi. Ice cream bar.
He gulped on the inside before taking a deep breath and, under Kairi's cheerful eyes, took a bite of the sea salt ice cream. At first, a salty taste pestered his tongue, but it was soon replaced with a sweet flavor. Salty...but sweet...
Ienzo took another bite—for experimental purposes only, he told himself. He got the same results. A salty tinge washed over with a sweet taste. How peculiar...
Involuntarily, Ienzo had taken another bite. Kairi smiled again—Ienzo wondered if her cheeks ever grew sore with all the smiling—and sat down next to him on the fountain ledge, swinging her legs as she, too, ate her ice cream whiling humming a blissful tune.
"Did you like it?" Kairi asked after both ice cream bars were bare sticks. She looked up at Ienzo with her two big, blue eyes, being all cute and innocent...it almost made Ienzo smile.
Ienzo nodded slightly and slid off the ledge to stand firmly on the ground. He reached out his hand to the young redhead, who accepted it and hopped down. This was part of their little tradition. After the day was nearly gone, they'd walk back to the Castle together. Sometimes they'd hold hands, sometimes they wouldn't.
Today was one of those days where they walked home hand in hand. Kairi skipped along, humming her little tune again, while Ienzo just guided the way, one hand holding the girl's hand, the other hand gently holding the flower's stem.
They walked along. A specific conversation made it's way back into Ienzo's mind, making him slow his pace as he thought over the plan he had ease dropped on. Kairi looked up at him, her smile faded by now into a calm and relaxed posture.
"Is something wrong?" she asked, more curiously than concerned.
Ienzo shook his head slightly, but of course there was something wrong. He glanced down at the little girl holding his hand. If the proposed plan succeeded...Ienzo wondered what his days would be like without Kairi. Without his daily flower, or an occasional "secret surprise," or even just walking home. Just thinking about it made him sad.
Ienzo made a "hmph" noise, which was him trying to conceal his small laugh of realization. Kairi just looked at him, confusion clear in her eyes, a smile forming on her small lips. Ienzo never made a sound. And that made her happy.
Maybe their friendship wasn't one-sided at all.