Title: What's This?
Author: Trilies
Genre: Friendship, fluff, a bit of humor, and Even's bitching. Wait, that's not a genre?
Word length: 1582
Sypnosis "Snow? You're sure that's what it is?"
Rating: PG, for some playful snowball violence
Yaoi/Yuri/Pairings: Even&Ienzo friendship, Braig&Dilan friendship, and Ansem&Aeleus friendship because they're hilarious in how relaxed they are.
Notes: I love writing the apprentices. I dooo. Also, that title is shamelessly stolen from the Nightmare Before Christmas.


"Even! Even!"

Dreams of constellations and genetic composition are whisked away by that one voice, and even as the brown-haired apprentice's eyelids begin to slowly flutter open, something is launched into his bed. Grunting as something weighs down on his stomach, Even finally manages to open his eyes, only to stare into a pair of large blue ones.

The boy sitting on him is much younger than he is, with messy black hair which falls into his face constantly, and a set of pajamas much too large for him. To be quite honest, Even isn't as fond of the youngest apprentice, not as fond as Aeleus seems; then again, that's only to be expected. Aeleus treats him as if he's long lost family, with all the protective tendencies of a mother bear. Still, there are times when Even can't help but feel a little bit of affection for the boy...

This is not one of those times.

"Ienzo," he grumbles, voice still slurred by the sleep which clings to his brain. "Do you have any inkling of what time it is?"

"Quarter after four in the morning," Ienzo replies almost mechanically. His wide eyed stare is interrupted by a blink before he reaches down for something which Even just notices is hanging from his pajama bottoms by a long, thin chain. Fumbling with a comically large pocketwatch, Ienzo checks the time. "Oh, my mistake, it's sixteen- Wait, no, no!" The pocketwatch drops to the blankets with a soft thump as Ienzo grips his head in frustration, frowning. "That's not important!"

The worry and small amount of panic in his voice wakes Even up even more, and he reaches over to gently touch the younger on the shoulder. "Has something happened? In the labs, perhaps?" Their master, after all, is a very dedicated man. Once a question or an idea gets into his brain, he'll stay up nights in a row in order to achieve a conclusion. It's an admirable trait, and Even can only hope that one day, he'll have that same sort of devotion to his work.

Black hair flies through the air as Ienzo shakes his head. "No, I don't think anyone is hurt or anything, not yet-"

"Yet?" That can't be good.

Pleadingly, Ienzo whispers, "Look outside."

With his stomach sinking, Even pulls himself out from underneath his sheets and blankets, and ends up in a crouch on top of his mattress. Feeling uneasy, he carefully reaches for his curtains, pulls them aside...

At first, he's not sure what exactly he's looking for. Far below him, the courtyards are blanketed in undisturbed white, while more falls lazily from the sky in what seems like buckets. Frowning, Even looks and looks, but there's nothing; no signs of trouble, no signs of anyone this early in the morning. Finally, it suddenly occurs to him that Ienzo has probably never seen snow before. After all, they don't even have a clue of where he's from; Aeleus and himself just found a drowned rat of a boy, lying in the gutters. He could be from anywhere.

Still, it's downright ridiculous.

Rolling his eyes in annoyance, Even turns to Ienzo to scold the boy for getting him worked up for positively nothing. He pauses, however, at seeing Ienzo's actions. He's nervously glancing around, wide eyed and shuddering in a way that seems to have nothing to do with the cold of the castle. The pocketwatch is back in his hands again, serving as some sort of comfort as Ienzo clutches it to his chest. The glances to the snowy world outside are filled with suspicion and fear before Ienzo looks up at Even, seeking some sort of reassurance.

The annoyed glare that was on the teenager's face melts away into a softer expression of worry. "What's wrong?" he murmurs, shifting until he's seated with his legs crossed, indian style. "Haven't you ever seen snow before?"

"Snow?" Ienzo says the word slowly, as if it's some foreign treasure, or maybe a trap. "You're sure that's what it is?"

Oh, for the love of- Rolling his eyes again, this time in exasperation, Even reaches for a yellow ribbon which lies on his nightstand. After quickly tying his hair back in an odd fashion which seems to be made more of the ribbon than the small ponytail which peeks out, he grabs the boy's arm and drags him off the bed. "Come on." Slipping on his slippers, Even pulls him along and out of the room. Ignoring the yelps of protests, he brings Ienzo down the many stairs of the castle, past more than a dozen doors, and doesn't once even pause until he reaches one of the side entrances to the castle. He finally let's go of the boy so that he can fumble with the lock. When he hears a small click, he tugs the door open and gestures to the white wonderland outside. "There. See for yourself." A sudden gust of wind makes him twitch a little, while Ienzo full-out shudders, more from the cold than the odd fear he had shown earlier. Bouncing nervously from foot to foot and rubbing his arms, Ienzo glances up at Even before slowly taking a step outside.

The warm slippers he has on his feet are no match for the amount of snow that has piled up just beyond the front steps, and Ienzo gives a yelp at the freezing feeling which melts past his only defense. Bouncing back up the few steps, he glares at the snowy imprints he's left before edging closer to the railing. As if requiring further proof, he stretches one bare hand out into the snow-filled air...

One little snowflake lands in the middle of his palm, and Ienzo's eyes grow wider as he watches it melt. "See?" Even's voice suddenly says besides him. "Just snow. What did you think it was?"

"Mist and paper," Ienzo whispers in reply, still fascinated as he reaches out for another snowflake. "Monsters hiding." Before Even can ask what he's talking about, Ienzo is looking up at him in question. "Would I be allowed to play in it?"

To see the normally shy yet mature boy ask such a childish question throws Even off balance for a moment. Rubbing the back of his neck, he nods. "Of course you can. Just- hold on!" He grabs Ienzo's arm before he can run off. "Get some boots and a coat on, you little fool."

Even is easily the most serious of his apprentices. One can't really blame him, Ansem supposes. His family puts far too much pressure on him than Ansem can really approve of, and destroys what self-esteem as he manages to build up whenever they can. It's a sad reality, which is why he feels so relieved as he watches Even and Ienzo tumble about in the snow, laughing together. Anyone who still has the ability to laugh has the strength to move beyond their hardships. This is something he's always believed.

As he sets down a platter filled with cups of hot chocolate, he hears snow crunching underneath Even's boots as the older of the two apprentices walks over, leaving Ienzo to create angels in the snow. Even though he has that same serious expression as usual, there's a rare playful spark in his eyes, and his face has become rosy from all the playing he's been doing. "Having fun?" Ansem asks innocently as Even takes a cup.

Taking a deep gulp, Even yelps and quickly sets the hot chocolate down as he rubs his throat, wincing. When he's finally recovered, he just snorts. "Don't be silly, Master Ansem. This is utterly childish, and I am only playing along for Ienzo's-" He suddenly pauses, eyes narrowing as he perks up, apparently hearing something. "...That's Braig and Dilan." His expression grows positively devious as he puts his hands together, fingers tapping against one another in a manner that seems more suitable for a mad scientist villain from some fiction. "I can get back at them for that stunt they pulled on me on Market Day..."

Humming cheerfully to himself, Ansem takes a cup of his own to cradle in his hands as he walks over to one of the pillars at the front of the little porch. Pressing his back to it, he slides down, peering down into his cup. Not a second later, Dilan and Braig walk out, grinning at each other and joking about some thing or another. They pause for a moment, staring at their master. Braig opens his mouth, possiblyto ask what he's doing, when practically an avalanche of snow pours past the pillars and tackles into the two best friends.

"Oh look," Ansem says calmly, smiling into his cup and ignoring Braig and Dilan's yells of outrage as they pull themselves out from the snow. "These have the little marshmellow bits in them." His two apprentices burst past him as he blows into the cup to cool it down. "How delightful," he compliments before taking a sip, ignoring the sounds of battle behind him.

A few minutes later, and Aeleus steps out, hands tucked into his pockets as he watches Ienzo cling to Dilan's back while shoving snow in his hair, and Braig start a futile snowball war against Even. (Futile because Even has quickly grown proficient in ice magic since his apprentinceship has begun. ) Rather casually, he picks up one of the cups, raising an eyebrow. "They have the little marshmellows," he observes, rolling his head to the side slightly and avoiding a rogue snowball with ease. "Great."

Author's Note:

Remember, constructive criticism and reviews are always loved!