Author: Quillslinger PM
Xigbar's feral, Luxord's inscrutable, Axel's a ratbastard, and Demyx — he's just trying to stay alive. One panic attack at a time. Light Xigbar/Demyx, heavy shenanigans.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor - Demyx & Xigbar - Words: 5,739 - Reviews: 26 - Favs: 79 - Follows: 2 - Published: 08-28-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3753971
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Hot Blooded
Pairings/Characters: Xigbar/Demyx? Sure, let's go with that! With special appearances by Axel, Roxas, and A Respectable British Chap in the role of Luxord.
Disclaimer: Did it for the lulz. Watch out for that second exit, "The Point", it's very easy to miss.
Summary: "Becoming a Nobody must have real tough on you. Not only did you lose your heart, but for some reason the Darkness decided to take away your vagina too."
"I think Xigbar is stalking me," Demyx said worriedly during his (second) coffee run of the day. "I mean, I think the Superior's put a hit out on me and he's sicced Xigbar on the job or something. I've been getting this impending sense of doom all day."
"That's nice," Axel replied, looking thoughtful. How unusual. "Decaf or regular?"
This was not the reassuring answer Demyx had been hoping for. "Did you hear what I said? Xigbar's trying to kill me—I keep seeing him out of the corner of my eye, and then I look again and he's… he's not there anymore! He's obviously trying to get me alone." He paused, peered around the mess for good measure, and added after a moment, "Decaf."
Axel calmly poured him a mugful, and said, "Is there any particular reason you think Xigbar might be out to get you? Be descriptive."
He sounded positively gleeful at the notion. Sometimes, Demyx was vaguely concerned by Axel's unnatural fixation with violence and murderous intents.
"It's nothing, man," he said, not pouting, and took a sip of his coffee. It was atrocious. Why was there never any decent coffee in this place? "I had this stealth mission in the Underworld—again! That's the third time this month, Xemnas knows I'm crap at that skulking around stuff. Anyway, I was just supposed to keep watch, get a feel of the place and not draw attention to myself, that kind of stuff—only, you know how that place is, it's all dark and torch-lit all the time, you can't see your hand ten inches from your face there!"
Axel nodded, and gave a sort of I'm Interested, Tell Me More gesture, hiding his mouth behind the coffee cup.
"Well, I'd been standing in position for like an hour and my feet were falling asleep, so I thought, I'd just stretch my legs a bit," Demyx continued, pulling his best tortured expression in reminiscence of all his sufferings. "Only I couldn't see where the hell I was going, right? So bam! I went and knocked over one of those ugly marble statue things."
Axel raised his eyebrow, clearly relishing the idea of mass mayhem. He had a problem.
"Next thing I knew," Demyx mumbled into his coffee, "that rabid hellhound was on me, everything went crazy, and I—uh," he dropped his voice, "I… panicked a bit."
"You ran?" Axel asked, grinning.
"I engineered a retreat," sniffed Demyx. "It didn't go too smooth, lost a couple of the Dancers, but it's not like there's a major shortage of them in these parts or anything!"
He frowned, and went on morosely, "Xemnas wasn't too happy about it at debriefing yesterday. Said he wasn't pleased with my lack of commitment to the mission. Mentioned something about possible repercussions."
"Ah," Axel said eloquently.
"But it's nothing big, right?" Demyx asked, wild-eyed. "Clearly I'm overthinking this. He wouldn't really have me killed for something unimportant like that, I mean--"
"On the contrary," Axel cut in with a smirk. "I think it was a very serious thing what you did. Our great leader gave you a noble mission, and not only did you fail to achieve the desired results, your callow behavior has yet again cast shame upon us all." His voice gained cadence, and grew more impassioned with each successive word. "Just think where this most esteemed and fearsome Organization of ours would be if in the dawn of its being the founding elders, too, had acted in such a cowardly fashion?"
Demyx opened his mouth to inform Axel that he was full of shit, vile and neverending shit, and was alarmed when nothing came out. He tried again, "…"
"In conclusion," Axel said, with a dark, ominous hush on the last syllable, "Demyx, you chickenshit, why didn't you stand and fight?"
"Because I would have died?" Demyx sputtered, finally freeing his tongue from its catatonia. "Because I, amazingly enough, actually enjoy being more or less not dead? God, why is there not enough sense in this whole entire Organization to fill a pygmy squirrel?"
"Better dying in battle than to get gunned down by Xigbar," Axel pointed out matter-of-factly. "Damn, I wouldn't be you right now for a million munny. Bastard's a good shot—he probably doesn't even need to get close to you. Can probably pepper you off from a mile away."
Very quietly, Demyx felt his soul leave his body.
Meanwhile, Axel polished off his coffee with one huge, grimacing quaff, and said, over-brightly, "Well, it was nice knowing you. I gotta go look for Roxas, give me a shout if you happen to see him." He added, with a leer, "That is, if you're still around that long."
And with that parting shot, he vanished into a darkness portal.
Visions of Xigbar taking him down in a fiery blitz of gunfire haunted Demyx like a bloody, chain-dragging specter all day long and all throughout his training regimen, which had the dire effect of causing him to hit not one, not two, but five wrong notes on the sitar. Surely the apocalypse must be near. At this point, it would be a positive.
As the day progressed, Demyx's increasing paranoia led him to a) come within rupturing distance of developing a very nasty ulcer, b) skulk around the corridors in a manner that would, ironically, do Xemnas proud, and c) jump at the slightest suggestion of movement around every darkened corner. There were many of those in The World That Never Was.
And even as he screamed and flipped into a full somersault, Demyx recalled, belatedly, that Xigbar was a sniper, and therefore had years of experience in the arts of skulking the likes of which Demyx could only dream of. He could just imagine the map of despair that must be his face when the world righted itself again and resolved into the very bemused face of the Freeshooter, his would-be assassin.
"Nice acrobatics," Xigbar was saying uncertainly. "Thinking about leaving us for a stint at the local circus?"
Demyx jumped to his feet and quickly dusted himself off, trying to remain calm and not look like a hunted man. He failed on both counts.
"You alright there, kid? Didn't hurt yourself? You're looking a little green around the gills."
For a moment, Demyx was struck dumb by the older man's exposed canine, which glinted in a thoroughly predatory manner in the artificial light. He finally forced himself to say, "Uh, yeah. Wait. No, really, I'm fine. Just--" he made a hand motion that basically amounted to flapping his fingers around "--did you need—want—were you looking for me earlier?"
For some reason, Xigbar read this as cue to grin triangularly and advance upon him. It was all Demyx could do to resist taking three steps backward—partially because on an intellectual level he knew that was prey mentality, partially because he'd be backing himself into a wall.
Unfortunately, the alternative was to stand stock still as Xigbar slithered over—did he always have a walk like that, all slow and intimidating; the bloodlust must bring it out of you—and regarded him smugly with his one crazy eye. He was also taller than Demyx. Not by much, but in this kind of situation, every inch counted. Talk about insult to injury.
"I heard about your botched mission," Xigbar said offhandedly. "That was too bad, huh?"
Demyx could decode this perfectly well, and heard: the Superior has already alerted my attention to your shocking incompetence, and I'm here to put an end to its travesty.
"And you've been doing so well, too. You've come a long way from getting chased out of the ocean by enraged mermen, haven't you?"
I'm tossing you a bone to lure you into a false sense of security now, but the moment you relax your guards I will strike like a cobra of DEATH, Demyx translated in his head.
"If you need some combat training pointers, I could always use another hand around during target practice," came across as DEATH, DEATH, DEATH, and then all of a sudden Xigbar's hand was on his face, tipping up his chin appraisingly, and he was saying, "How's that sound?" even though Demyx's brain had derailed, train-wrecked and quit translating.
Demyx gurgled. He debated the relative merits of blasting Xigbar in the face with a minor tsunami and making his swift get-away, but something told him preemptive aggression probably wasn't the way to go. He settled for the next best option.
"Uh, I have to go over here now," he said, and, making like a crab, sidled off sideways.
He'd made good headway, he decided, when he had walked at least six yards without experiencing the horrible pain of white hot blades embedding themselves into his flesh. It was at this point that he made the astronomical mistake of looking over his shoulder.
He found Xigbar standing exactly where he'd left him. He had the same evaluating look on his face as he cocked his head to one side and squinted curiously, like he'd found something he liked a lot and couldn't stop staring. Demyx felt a sudden, overwhelming surge of empathy with those automatic moving targets at the end of a shooting gallery.
Their gazes met, and Xigbar winked at him.
Luckily, in Xigbar's case, it meant that he was momentarily blinded, and Demyx took this splitting opportunity to make his escape.
He fell down at least three times in his effort to sprint the length of the castle, throwing occasional glances over his shoulder to make sure he wasn't being pursued, before he remembered, duh, portaling, and took the liberty of delivering himself just outside the easternmost drawing room. Once within, he threw himself bodily against the heavy double doors, and did not breathe easily until they had closed behind him with a resonating thump.
"My good lad, you seem somewhat out of sorts."
Demyx looked up shakily, and found himself under the close scrutiny of a pair of bright aquamarine eyes, offset by pale, finely arched brows. In the warm, rosy light cast from the massive fireplace, they seemed oddly translucent, unreadable.
"Oh, Luxord," he said weakly. "Hey there." Luxord fought with cards and had a thing for piercings. As far as Demyx knew, those were his only defining personality traits.
"Are you quite sure you are alright?" Luxord asked, his left eyebrow climbing to a hitherto unknown state of delicate puzzlement. "You look as if you're about to face a firing squad. Is there some way I may be of service?"
"Not unless you know how to make me bulletproof," Demyx answered with a forlorn laugh. "And even then, I'm pretty sure Xigbar will find some other way to off me, so."
"Ah," said Luxord, in apparent understanding. "An instance of strife among comrades. I will admit a certain amount of ignorance in this matter, for obvious reasons. But it is my earnest hope that you shall be able to achieve a peaceable reconciliation."
"Come again?" Demyx said feebly.
"That is to say, the both of you might consider casting aside your differences and reach a satisfactory compromise," Luxord clarified, eyes almost opaque, and produced his ubiquitous deck. "Cooperation, so to speak. You might liken it to the act of collusion in the game of poker, to which, naturally, those of hot blooded temperaments like yourself are usually so averse."
"My hot blooded what?" echoed Demyx, feeling increasingly lost. He had no idea what Luxord was going on about, but for some reason, his crisp British accent made every word that came out of his mouth irresistibly sensible. The man was inscrutable.
It was times like these that made him feel like he had made a couple of really horrible choices in his life. If only he were more like Luxord—had picked up a sophisticated accent, taken up body-piercing, chosen something subtle like playing cards for a weapon—perhaps he wouldn't be where he was now: on the brink of death.
"Uh, thanks for the advice," Demyx said, voice wavering. "You've got… a way with words. We should totally talk more, man. Shoot the breeze." Assuming that I live to see tomorrow.
Luxord gave him a vague nod and began arranging his cards in an outward fan on top of an end table. Totally inscrutable.
By four in the afternoon—three hours closer to total whacko breakdown—he was completely bushwhacked, and had given in to the temptation of yet another coffee run. At this rate, there was a serious chance he was going to burn a hole through the wall of his stomach by the time the day was through from a combination of stress and bad diet, but living in a state of constant terror was physically draining and he needed the caffeine if he was going to keep it up. Sleep equaled certain death.
He was surprised, upon entering the mess, to find Axel slouching beside the coffeemaker, in much of the same position he had been in that morning. For no reason Demyx was willing to examine at length, his face was twisted in an ugly scowl.
"Hey, it's the dead man walking," Axel crooned, brightening up considerably at the sight of him. Demyx supposed his expression was now approaching the degree of dog-gone that inspired enthusiasm in death row prisoners. They should put him on a poster.
"You're funny," he replied, clutching at a coffee mug like it was his last chance at life. "Really, you should do stand-up. Did you manage to find Roxas?"
Axel's forehead grew stormy again, and he set down his mug with a heavy clank. "No," he said shortly. "No, I didn't." First sign that all was not well in paradise. Demyx could swear the pointy spikes of hair on his head began to singe at the ends.
"I talked to Xigbar," he offered diplomatically, just to clear the air.
Axel, because he delighted in the suffering of others, clearly, latched on to this information like it was a piece of prime rib and he was the red hot sauce that went on top—or some other, less nauseating metaphor. "You talked to him? And yet you're still standing here before me, presumably intact. How is that possible? Does he not want to kill you?"
"Luckily for you, it seems he very much does want to kill me," Demyx said mordantly. "Or at least drive me to total whacko breakdown, whatever comes first."
"Psycho-terrorism," purred Axel—and now the rat-bastard was actually rubbing his hands together. Demyx hated him. "Good taste. Who knew the old pops had it in him."
He made a broad gesture, and flung an arm around Demyx's shoulders dramatically. "The way I see it, he's taunting you, playing this cat and mouse game until the sheer stress wears down all your will to live. It might go on for days and days, but in the end, you will not escape those big, powerful guns," Axel said, with a deep, filthy gasp on the word 'guns'.
Demyx could feel the blood draining from his face, though whether from horror or mortification he did not know.
Axel must have noticed it too, because he shook his head and said in a commiserating tone, "Becoming a Nobody must have been real tough on you. Not only did you lose your heart, but for some reason the Darkness decided to take away your vagina too."
"Oh you can say it, but can you spell it?" snapped Demyx, throwing Axel's arm off and stomping away furiously.
"If you run into Roxas, tell him I'm looking for him," Axel called eagerly after him.
Blind rage, it turned out, was counterproductive, as he hadn't gone two steps beyond the mess hall's entrance when he found himself ramming headfirst into somebody. He made a squawking, dying-duck sound, but what made something inside him wither with a shrilly scream even more was the fact that he couldn't even dredge up the effort to be surprised, because, of course—of course—it was Xigbar standing in front of him, blinking hazily in the light spilling from the doorway.
"I need to go… do that thing," Demyx mumbled, ducking his head, and attempted to slink away unobtrusively.
"Wait," Xigbar said, and grabbed his arm. If he noticed Demyx's arm clenching up in horror, his face didn't show it.
"What?" Demyx asked. His voice had somehow gone hoarse.
Xigbar appeared to purse his lips. "There's something I didn't notice earlier."
The silence in the hallway was farcically thick. If he still had a heart, there'd be some serious pounding in order.
"Your hair looks very pretty today."
By six, he had completely lost it. Nobody else noticed.
In retrospect, he should have seen this coming.
As nice as it was to be included and entrusted with responsibilities, Demyx sometimes seriously questioned the trade offs. It only compounded the fact that perhaps he should have asked a few more questions when the recruiters had first come knocking at his door, before signing up for a life of a) intrigues, b) chaos, c) sunlight-deficiency, and d) any combination of the above. It was just—heartlessness was a lonesome kind of existence; who could blame him for getting slightly overcome when others like him (Humanoid Nobodies! Leading the lesser!) had come bearing promises of a returned heart. If he could go back and do it again, maybe things wouldn't have gone down like that.
For one thing, he certainly would have thought twice before joining an organization with such a high mortality rate. Five members in one fell swoop. Perhaps they had also been done away with. Castle Oblivion evidently had an ominous ring to it. He had never believed Axel's tale of the legendary bloodthirsty Keyblade Wielder anyway.
The most unfair thing of all, Demyx thought with dull despair, was that, aside from various misadventures in the Underworld, he was starting to become really good at his job. He had a good eye for detail, lied like a rug, knew how to blend into his surrounding (provided that giant three-headed dogs weren't part of it), and he'd learned that if he took off his hood and let his face do the rest, scouting for information was easy as pie. It was surprising what some people were willing to divulge to a newcomer in town with friendly baby blues and a first-class smile, especially when he really started to push the wet-around-the-ear factor. So he wasn't keen on Engaging In A Deathmatch With The Really Big Black Dog. That didn't make him any less competent than the rest of them. He blamed the system.
The silence was distracting. With a flick of his fingers, Demyx summoned his sitar, crossed his legs, and hauled the instrument into his lap. His shoddy playing earlier had caused her to believe she wasn't good enough for him anymore; he had to disabuse her of the notion.
He had just strummed out the first three chords of a song soon to be titled Blackcoat Blues when what he had thought to be a solid wall and was leaning up against abruptly slid open, and he found himself on his back, staring up at a pair of sharp, questioning blue eyes.
"Hi, Roxas," Demyx greeted, blinking. "Axel's looking for you."
Roxas's mouth threaded into a thin line. "I know," he said. "Why do you think I'm in here?"
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. It ended when Roxas made a dismissive noise and walked back into what was presumably a hidden room.
"Are you going to come in, or do you plan to lie there all day?"
"Oh, yeah." The moment he moved away from the entrance, the wall silently smoothed back into place, leaving a seamless white expanse. The room he was in was large and high-ceilinged, sparsely furnitured. Beneath the ridiculously elaborate light fixture, only a couple of chairs were scattered here and there to punctuate the emptiness.
"Wow," Demyx said lamely. "Classroom chic."
Roxas didn't deign that with a reply. He was sitting beside the only article of furniture in the place that wasn't a chair: a roll top desk, the handsome surface of which was covered by an improbable number of thick, academic-looking books. Roxas had a similar volume propped up in his lap, and he looked deeply immersed, zen and a million cool miles away from everything around him.
Demyx, expecting to see Property of Zexion engraved somewhere in gold, tilted his head to read the title on the spine. He immediately felt a headache coming on.
"That's some heavy reading you've got there," he said conversationally. "Thinking about going for an overnight degree in the nature of hearts?"
"Small talk's not required," Roxas informed him.
"Sorry," Demyx said, pulling up a chair and throwing himself down into it. "It's been one of those no-sleep, all-chemical kind of days." And at Roxas's mildly quizzical expression, "I'm running on my third cup of coffee."
Roxas gave him a sideways look, shutting his book with a quiet whisper of pages. "Demyx, if you have a problem with Xigbar, the best thing to do is just to bring it up with him."
Demyx didn't even waste time wondering how Roxas had learned about that if he had been holed up in his secret room all day, and instead cast a philosophical look at the ceiling, saying, "Yeah, I figure that's what Luxord was trying to say when he told me to 'achieve a peaceable reconciliation'. It's not as simple as it sounds. Axel giving me crap all the time isn't making it any easier."
"So you'll hide and hope it'll go away?" Roxas said, rather tersely. "How does anyone expect to get any answers if they're not willing to seek them?"
Demyx blinked widely, and stared at Roxas. A faint shadow had appeared in the space between his brows, and his eyes looked angry and voluminous with unsaid things, so Demyx figured this wasn't entirely about him anymore. Roxas was different from the rest of them—he didn't need to witness the Superior's blatant favoritism to know that—and there was a feeling Demyx got around XIII that always made him think he was missing something, not getting the whole picture, like looking at deep water and only seeing blue.
Even now, there was an undercurrent here he didn't quite catch. Whatever was eating at Roxas must be having a hell of a time.
"You're probably right," he appeased. "Still, dude, Xigbar's, like, feral. Who's to say he won't shoot me before I get half a word out of my mouth? He's bent on getting my head mounted on a wall so the light will catch my dead, perfectly groomed hair or something."
"You're not as big a wimp as you like to think, Demyx," Roxas said, not unkindly. "We're all men here." And, at Demyx's beseeching look, smirked and added, "Axel doesn't count."
"You're not half the stick in the mud I thought you were, either," Demyx laughed. "No offense. I mean, I can see why Axel sets a store by you and all."
That was something else he didn't get, the Roxas and Axel thing, but he couldn't help being curious about the complex interplay between them anyway. "He's probably not half as big an asshole to you as he is to rest of us, I'll bet."
For no apparent reason, Roxas gave him a long, contemplating look. Then he opened his book again and, in a dispassionate voice, said, "Have you ever heard of Charlie the Red Dragon?"
Demyx stared at him, convinced his companion had gone momentarily insane. "I'm sorry?"
"He's the mascot of a restaurant called the Oriental Sea Palace," Roxas explained, still glacially calm. "Axel's a big fan of Charlie."
"No," Demyx intoned, nearly biting through his tongue. He had suddenly found his reason to live.
"Yes," said Roxas, eyes on the book. "This one time, he had a photograph taken of the two of them together, and when it was developed, he asked Charlie to sign it and make a personalized inscription. Then he had it blown up and framed."
"That is the best thing I've ever heard in my whole entire life," Demyx choked, fighting tears.
Roxas turned another page, and didn't look up. "Second drawer on the left," he said, without a trace of remorse. "He never locks his door."
"You're a good, good person," Demyx said, patting Roxas's shoulder earnestly, and wandered off in search of a Xerox machine.
By the time he had wall-papered a significant portion of the castle with one hundred true-to-size, high-definition copies of the photograph, Demyx felt distinctly better. To really make it money, he had made sure to underline Axel's name in the curly, remarkably legible inscription—Charlie had impeccable penmanship.
He ended up out on a balcony, half-flopped over the banister and gazing up at the pale heart-shaped moon in the dark sky. Aesthetically speaking, Never Was wasn't so bad, if you liked 'em gothic and moody, or had a little sunshine to contrast against it every now and then. There was a cool wind blowing, and Demyx felt it ruffle his hood and tangling in his hair for a second before a voice behind him said, "Hey," and he ended up in the air for the second time that day.
He spun around, clutching the place on his chest where his heart would have busted out just now had it not been Taken By The Darkness. The force of habit depressed him a little, but it was difficult to indulge in existential ennui when you had Xigbar of Organization XIII bearing down on you. Perhaps his manipulation of space gave him the ability to be everywhere at once.
"Wow, you're highstrung today," Xigbar commented, stepping out onto the balcony. "What were you thinking about?"
"I was thinking about making the water in the bowl explode the next time you have to use the toilet," Demyx confessed, shame-faced.
Xigbar looked a little pole-axed. "Whoa. What have I done to you?"
What haven't you done to me, Demyx thought bitterly. Then he sighed, and making a defeated gesture, took a deep breath and said, "Alright. We both know what this is about, let's cut to the chase. You can go back and tell the Superior that I know I screwed up the mission, and I'm willing to take whatever he has to throw at me—but it's got to be to my face. This whole terror campaign, it's unnecessary. Not to mention totally uncool."
For a moment, there was no sound but the howling wind. Then Xigbar's shoulders started shaking, and he burst out laughing.
"I don't do Xemnas's dirty work, kid," Xigbar said, laughter rumbling under his words. "My duty's to recruit new members, not get rid of them. If it's snuffing out you're worried about, I suggest you keep a closer eye on your good friend Axel."
Demyx had a sudden sinking feeling as he quickly reconsidered those incriminating photos currently plastered all over the castle.
"If you're not helping the Superior punish me," he said slowly, "then why have you been following me around all day?"
"Noticed that, haven't you?" Xigbar asked, amber eye (singular) twinkling in apparent amusement. "Look, I told you before, right? I'm offering you some assistance. If you want, I could help point a few things out so you won't mess up so much anymore."
"Oh. Okay," Demyx said, uncertain. "But—why?"
Really, this very special moment had gotten extremely surreal, and in all honesty he was expecting to hear something like, "I've been watching you, kid. You got a lot of potentials," which was, of course, exactly what Xigbar said next.
"You learn fast," he went on, "and for all the screw-ups, you're actually pretty decent at what you do. I just wanted you to know that you're in the right place here, with the Organization. Don't burn yourself out too soon trying to live up to bogus expectations."
Which was, okay, nothing Demyx himself hadn't realized, but it was admittedly nice to get some acknowledgment from some source that wasn't himself. He tried to give Xigbar a grateful look, and could have sworn that the other man was looking uncomfortable—only the world was not ending so that could not be.
"There's this place I go for training," Xigbar said, sounding distant and nostalgic. "The desert world, you know. A lot of space, and man, you haven't had target practice until you've shot at a troop of baboons—they're vicious things. You should come sometime. See how I work."
Demyx nodded vaguely. He remembered his various trips to Agrabah—for surely, it was Agrabah the other Nobody was referring to—remembered walking through the crowded open-air market, that first time. People shouting at each other, their humanity seething up around him, and it'd gotten claustrophobic for one fleeting moment before he'd caught the lilting tune of a snake-charmer, winding through the narrow spaces, and found himself in the midst of a group of dancing girls, round and soft bodied, sun-colored. Their hips swaying and jingling with gems and beads, strung around their bellies, braceleting their ankles.
He barely registered that Xigbar was still talking.
"Afterward," the older man said, "we could hit the local bar. Kind of an underground place, slightly seedy—like all the best bars are. They've got this kind of red fruit wine that even a lightweight like you can appreciate."
The bar he was talking about, the Golden Oud, was indeed underground and seedy, full of thugs and shifty, guilt-ridden Muslim men hiding from their wives and spiritual leaders. It was famous for the sweet fruit wine that the proprietors sold by the gallon, and was also a riveting bed of local gossips and the perfect place to gather the kind of information no one was supposed to have. Demyx would know—he was a regular, sure-handed enough now to add a pinch of liquid Saffron to his wine before imbibing, Allah willing. Jaya the androgynous bartender, a lip-ringed, ebony-skinned titan from the West, had a habit of brushing his cheek and calling him, "Prettycakes." He also got half-price on all the drinks.
"I think I'd like that," he said, thinking about the Arabian night, sweet and slick overhead, hotter than hot in a lot of good ways.
Xigbar smiled. It wasn't his usual, nasty one, but a more PG-13 version of it, and it seemed to transform his face. In the dark, wavering shadow, his yellow eye was luminous, and his brutal, scarred features appeared blurry and more benign.
The smile took years off his face, and Demyx was reminded, with a sudden jab, that Xigbar—or some other possibility of him—was there at the beginning, when it had all started. It made him wonder what Xigbar had seen, and that seemed to put a different spin on what he had said earlier, about Demyx's place in the Organization and the danger of burning out before the end. It was easy to talk about Kingdom Hearts and make wonderful promises, harder when you were standing on this end of the long vista and couldn't see where the middle-road ended.
Somewhere below them, a splitting cry filled the air—the immiscible anguish of an enraged redhead upon making an unpleasant discovery.
"On second thought," Demyx said, pushing himself off the balcony railing, post-haste. "Why wait till later? It's Thursday night and Jaya's probably giving out discounts on the honeyed mead, we should take advantage of the opportunity." He raised a hand and opened up a darkness portal. "You know, like, immediately."
Xigbar looked impressed. "You know Jaya?"
"I'm a tricky one," Demyx quipped, tapping the side of his head with a smile. He was pleased to see a matching one reappear on Xigbar's face, and counted it as a personal victory, turning and stepping into the undulating shadows.
That was when he felt Xigbar's hand on his ass.
A/N: Give me feedback to sustain my soul while I dive facefirst into first week of school and the next chapter of Canadian Girlfriend Fic -- yes, I am aware that is the only reason y'all keep me around. Also, nice try, KH, but I'm not putting Magic Bullet Shooter in a fic.
Fans of Charlie should go to my livejournal and find the post for this story -- it'll only take a minute and I'll make it worth your while ;)