A/N: Well folks, I'm busy and bogged down, but certainly not dead!
Anywho, the idea for this fic came to me while watching that one cutscene with Petruccio when he asks Ezio to gather feathers for him, but won't tell him why. This rough idea came to me and I couldn't resist typing it! Truth be told I had it written out for a while, just not fleshed out...until now. I still think it's a bit rough around the edges, but here you go, folks! Enjoy!
Also, this may or may not become a two-shot XD
The Eagle and the Fox
There was once an eagle that lost its wings, and could never again fly. Even so, he longed to return to the skies, flying as majestically as his brothers. The Eagle asked all of the animals in the forest how to get his wings back, but none could help, save only for the clever fox hidden in the deepest den of the woods.
"Gather as many feathers as you can," the fox said, "And I will make you a new set of wings. Then you can fly in the skies with your brothers again."
And so the eagle spent many days and nights searching for feathers in the forest, bringing them to the fox. When finally there were enough feathers, the fox crafted the eagle a set of wings to fly with. In thanks, the eagle shared his prey with the fox, and the two became best friends.
"You won't get away, you little thief! After him!"
"But I didn't steal anything!" Petruccio cried over his shoulder. It was true, he hadn't. This had to be some misunderstanding, it had to be. He hadn't touched a thing!
The clanking of the guards' armor came closer; too close for comfort. Desperate, Petruccio ducked into the crowd, pushing his way through as he sought out a place to hide; running for too long - if at all - was bad for him and he couldn't keep it up. Seconds later he found himself slowing to a stop in an empty, yet tight alleyway. Pausing to catch his breath, he looked to the side just in time to see the guards running right past the tight alley, still calling out for him and searching. When the metallic footsteps finally faded off, the young Auditore let out a breath that he hardly knew he was holding and slid down onto the bench he had stopped in front of.
Why, of all days, was it his birthday that this had to happen? He had simply been accompanying his mother on a small errand when they had been separated in the crowd. He had caught interest in some nearby merchandise when the shouts had come his way, eventually leaving him in this mess: separated from his mother, far from home and with no idea where he was. He sighed, pulling his knees to himself and sulking.
"Who are you hiding from, bambino?"
Petruccio gasped, nearly leaping from his seat when the voice reached his ears. Next to him, sitting on the bench, was a man in a hooded coat. How odd...when he had run into that alley, he hadn't seen that man sitting there at all; otherwise he would have avoided this place as a hiding spot.
...but this man didn't look like he meant him any harm. And oddly enough, Petruccio could have sworn he'd seen him somewhere before.
The man quireked an eyebrow at his silence. Petruccio swallowed, anxious, and finally found his voice. "Those men were chasing me," He replied. "They said I stole something from one of the stands in the market."
The stranger quirked an eyebrow. "Did you?"
Petruccio shook his head eagerly. "No! I was only passing by. They must have mistaken me for someone else; I would never steal from anyone! Madre says it's bad to steal..."
The man averted his gaze to the ground in thought. "I see..." He muttered, looking thoroughly contemplative.
Tilting his head, Petruccio peered closer at the man. "What is it, Signore?"
"Oh, nothing, child." There was a brief pause, and Petruccio could have sworn he had seen his expression shift for a moment. "I was just thinking how horrible it must be to have someone accuse you of theft on your birthday, of all days."
It was hard not to gape in surprise at the stranger, but Petruccio managed somehow, settling for a wide-eyed stare. "How did you know it was my birthday, Signore?" he asked.
The man gave the slightest of shrugs. "A little bird told me," he replied slyly. He shifted a little, facing Petruccio. "And of course, I cannot let someone's special day pass by without giving them a gift, now, can I?" The moment the words finished exiting his mouth, there was a twitch in his hand - he must have missed it - and suddenly there was a long, slender, beautiful feather in his hand.
"A feather?" Petruccio replied, taking the odd gift. "...for me?"
"Si," The hooded man replied, grinning ever-so-slightly. "For you. You see, feathers are considered good luck...especially eagle feathers."
The man nodded. "That's right. They say you gather enough of them, then something good will happen."
"Like what, signore?"
Petruccio's question was met with a knowing chuckle. "Now, that would spoil the surprise, bambino. You'll have to wait and see."
Behind him, the youngest Auditore could hear his elder brother's familiar voice approaching, accompanied only by rapid footsteps. "Ezio?" he replied, a strong feeling of relief swelling in him.
Ezio slowed to a halt, leaning forward and placing his hands on his knees to catch his breath. "I've been looking for you all afternoon," he stated, his tired voice reflecting the truth in his words. "Madre is worried sick about you! Where have you been?" The elder Auditore did a brief double-take at the object in his younger brother's hand. "...and where did you get that feather?"
"I was sitting here," Petruccio calmly replied, gesturing to the bench behind him. "And this man gave it to me."
His brother stared blankly at him. "What man?" He replied. "There's no one here."
Petruccio turned, intent to introduce the stranger to his brother, and gawked at what he saw. Or rather, he gawked at what he didn't see: the hooded man had vanished, just as quickly as he had appeared, and without a single trace of his presence aside. "But...he was here just a second ago..."
Ezio folded his arms, staring at his brother in disapproval. "Don't lie, Petruccio. You found that feather, didn't you?"
"No!" Petruccio replied vehemently, shaking his head. "The man in the hood gave it to me! He was sitting here on the bench just a second ago!"
"You've been out of bed for too long again haven't you," Ezio concluded, rolling his eyes and taking his brother's arm. "Come on. We can't have Mother worrying for too much longer."
With nothing more to add to defend himself, Petruccio simply followed his brother as they exited the alley. Still, as they made their way past the markets and back to the villa, he couldn't help but think back on the stranger's words.
Gather enough of them...and something good will happen...
Petruccio glanced up at his older brother. "Ehi, Ezio...can I ask you a little favor?"