Epilogue: Because We're Not Yet Dead
As Xaldin lay there, immobile and stunned on the cold floor of who even knew where, shards of glass sticking painfully out of various parts of his backside, he tried to remind himself that days like this had to happen every so often to keep you humble. No matter how powerful and nonexistent you may have thought yourself, there was always some bitch with a keyboard around to subject you to whatever cruel whims destiny may have had in store for you for the amusement of thousands of faceless geeks on the world wide web. Especially when said bitch still had sore memories of being utterly humiliated by the character in question nineteen times in a row when she tried to show off the game play of Kingdom Hearts II to some friends of hers so they could see what a badass true gamer she was. So take that, you sexy, snarky, pseudo-British bastard! HA.
It then occurred to him that he was being crushed into the floor by a smaller someone, someone quite heavy for a waifish fifteen-year-old boy. He realized that he was in a distressing amount of pain for supposedly having shed his mortal coil… whatever happened to the promise of a smooth and painless transition back into the darkness from whence he had come? And hadn't Nomura mentioned something about being reunited with his long lost heart? Somebody was going to be hearing about this… well, Nobody, actually, but the point was—
"Xaldin! Roxas!" Lexaeus's deep voice boomed from somewhere up above them. "Are you all right?"
"That depends on your definition of 'all right'," Xaldin answered back in a strained voice as he opened his eyes. Sure enough, he was flat on his back on the remains of a laboratory table in one of the rear cabins of the GS Existentialist. Roxas was slung out on top of him, eyes open and blinking but looking exceptionally confused. Lexaeus stood over them, towering even as he kneeled with what could be interpreted as concern. Out of the corner of his eyes, Xaldin could see Vexen fuming in the doorway, still in deep mourning for his ruined test tubes and glassware.
"Fair enough," Lexaeus shrugged. "What's your definition?"
"Is my hair still…?"
"No," Lexaeus said with a certain nod. "It's very manly."
"Then I'm all right," Xaldin said hastily.
"Are we…" Roxas murmured hesitantly, "… alive?"
"It would seem so," Xaldin sighed. "Perhaps you would be good enough to get off of me?"
Roxas crawled off and with Lexaeus's help, the two of them stumbled to their feet and tidied themselves up, dusting off their coats and discreetly picking chunks of glass from places best left unmentioned. Aside from the lingering pain of falling out of thin air and slamming into "extremely expensive and difficult to acquire laboratory equipment" (as Vexen kept muttering behind them) they felt quite good for the recently resurrected—the proper color, energy returning as normal, healthily lacking a pulse.
"Well, I do believe an explanation is in order," Vexen snapped as he finally worked out his outrage enough to leave the doorway and properly enter the room.
"I was about to ask you the same thing. What do you want from us?" Xaldin muttered, "I haven't the slightest clue what just happened. How did you escape from Los Machosexos?"
Lexaeus shook his head. "It wasn't much trouble. The BETA went off without a hitch—you and Roxas vanished right along with the rest of the Gutless. The city was empty and desolate as a ghost town."
"Self-cleaning Gutless," Vexen snorted.
"Gutless?" Roxas echoed, sounding completely baffled. "Macho-sexo?"
"We made our way back to the gummi ship and set off for home just as planned. But when we fired up the DEM Engines… you suddenly came falling out of thin air," Lexaeus explained.
"I… see," said Xaldin in the tone of voice of one who didn't see at all. He wandered over to one of the chairs mounted along the walls of the shipboard laboratory and had a seat, thoroughly exhausted. "What about the Tupperware? Did anything happen to it?"
"No. Every, uh… you know is perfectly safe and secure," Lexaeus assured him.
"Tupperware? You know?" Roxas repeated. "Um… what's going on?"
Vexen took in a very deep breath. "To make a long story short, the Organization was attacked by a group of parasites from beyond the dimensions of our universe, transforming most of the members into horrendous creatures, who then kidnapped you. Xaldin, Lexaeus and I came to rescue you but unfortunately you and Xaldin were infected with the parasite that would have led to our joining them—in a last-ditch effort to save the universe, you sacrificed yourselves for the greater good and were annihilated by a powerful super weapon until by some idiotic twist of fate you came tumbling out of a wormhole on board our gummi ship right above a table full of my extremely expensive and difficult to acquire laboratory equipment."
There was a pause. "Oh," Roxas said quietly, and resigned himself to having absolutely no idea what was going on.
"How do you feel?" asked Lexaeus.
"Capital," Xaldin replied. "Well, as capital as a resurrected shell of a human being can possibly feel, in any case."
"Good," the Silent Hero said with a nod. "It's good to have the two of you back."
"It's good to be back," Xaldin sighed. "Even if the messy details explaining it are sketchy at best."
"About that, Xaldin, Roxas…" Vexen cut in. "I wonder if you might allow me to have a little look at you… in the interest of science, of course. Perhaps I can create a few theories about what just happened, if you don't mind me dissecting the probability of your further non-existence."
"I don't really care," Roxas grumbled, crossing his arms. "As long as my non-existence exists there's no point getting all… existential about it."
"Non-existential," Vexen corrected.
There was a pause.
"Oh, whatever. I'm gonna go take a nap," Roxas moaned, heading towards the ship's bunk. "Call me when we're home."
Once Number Thirteen had made his exit, the three elder Nobodies glanced at one another conspiratorially. "Do you think we should tell him the full details?" asked Lexaeus.
"We could always tell him he just had cooties," Vexen suggested with a smirk. "Going any further would probably give him a complex."
"Vexen, we're Nobodies," Xaldin reminded him. "'Complex' is our middle name."
"Didn't it used to be LeComp?" Lexaeus asked.
"You're really stretching, aren't you?" Vexen directed the question past the fourth wall at the exhausted author. And the answer was yes. Yes, she was.
"I-In any case," the perturbed Lexaeus continued, "I'm sure the answer to our little resurrection conundrum lies in some simple examination of the facts."
"You're honestly expecting anything in this story to make actual sense at this point?" Xaldin snorted. "You can experiment all you want to get your academic grins, but if you're expecting a logical explanation to all this nonsense then I've got a beachfront loft in Agrabah you might be interested in."
"Nonsense indeed, Xaldin!" Vexen said. "I'm sure there must be some scientific explanation for this. If we apply Ansem's third theory of the Heartless-"
"First things first. Science can wait," Xaldin announced, cutting him off mid-sentence. "There's something more important to do first."
"And what's that?" Vexen asked peevishly—as if anything could be more important than science.
Xaldin gritted his teeth into a snide grin. He stood up, clenching one black-gloved fist triumphantly.
"Vodka," he said. "Top-shelf. Straight. On the rocks."
Several hours later, the GS Existentialist drifted lazily back through the interstellar keyhole that separated Fandom Hearts from its canon universe counterpart. This left behind the crazy alternate dimension of nightmares and (blah blah blah blah blah) behind for good, leaving our heroes with only a short trip through gummi space and a few paragraphs of weak exposition between them and the rebirth of Organization as we know it.
Xaldin and Lexaeus sat around a tall chalkboard on the shipboard laboratory, watching the third of their number busily scribbling the last bits of a complicated equation. Roxas had retired to the depths of the gummi ship, presumably to use the shipboard computer to post on his Livejournal.
"After very careful observation and experimentation," Vexen announced with a few final chalk strokes on the blackboard, "I have come to the conclusion that there are two possible ways that Roxas and Xaldin were resurrected from certain death, leading to their rather sudden appearance in thin air above my extremely expensive and difficult to acquire laboratory equipment. I will discuss them in order from least likely to most likely, pausing after each to allow for questions."
"Go right ahead, Vexen," Xaldin encouraged, vodka-glass in hand and ready for science. Lexaeus nodded from the chair next to him, a notepad and a pencil sitting on his lap.
"You can all skip this first section if you feel like it," Vexen said with a suspicious glance towards the readers. "Since I doubt any of you are intelligent enough to really follow it anyway. Go get yourself a bowl of Cheetos, or stare at the pretty banner ads for a while. Maybe you'll win a PSP."
With half of the readers now frantically scrolling down the massive blobs of text that took up the next two pages of story, Vexen set into his overcomplicated explanation.
"First off, we will examine theory Number One, which I have entitled the 'Nobody in the Machine Theory'. We must start from the moment at which the BETA device was activated—the moment of Xaldin and Roxas's supposed deaths," Vexen said, circling one portion of the exceptionally long formula he'd scribbled all the way across the board. "When the BETA went off, Xaldin and Roxas's bodies were immediately obliterated into a billion microscopic teeny weeny pieces. Or so we believe. In fact, the moment the BETA went off, for reasons unknown, Xaldin and Roxas's bodies separated instantaneously from the parasites that infected them, and teleported away."
"… what?" Lexaeus murmured.
"Have you ever seen a television cartoon in which a character runs so fast they leave a cloud of smoke behind in the shape of their body?" Vexen asked. "I am proposing a similar event happened here. Xaldin and Roxas's bodies teleported so fast that the parasite was left straggling behind and was therefore entirely wiped out by the BETA."
"That's…" Xaldin hesitated.
"Yes?" Vexen asked.
"Well, to start with," Xaldin continued sourly. "How in the worlds do you propose we teleported?"
"The DEM Engines," Vexen said proudly. "At the very last second, the DEM Engines were activated by the almighty unseen hand of the author, who did not want the story to end on a sour note by killing off one of the heroes and 'the cuddly little teenage wooby boy, awwww'." At this point, he whipped out his chalk again and began adding random numbers and multiplication signs to the equation on the board. "The DEM Engines teleported Xaldin and Roxas's bodies into themselves, keeping them safe from the BETA's power. When Lexaeus and I returned to the ship and activated said DEM Engines, the resulting force caused Xaldin and Roxas to teleport once again—to the space in the air above my extremely expensive and difficult to acquire laboratory equipment. And the rest…" he concluded his formula with a drawing of a smiley face and a conclusive underline, "is history."
He stood waiting for feedback on his great theory and met only the wide-eyed stares of his two compatriots. "Well?"
"That's…" Xaldin murmured.
"… Idiotic!" Xaldin snapped.
"I think what Xaldin means to say, Vexen, is that your theory is a little…" Lexaeus paused for tact. "… well, it is pretty stupid."
"Call it what you will," Vexen huffed, "But it is supported by solid, scientific, documented evidence that I gathered upon examining the inner workings of the DEM Engines, the state of Roxas and Xaldin's bodies, and the timeline of events. Even our initial examinations of the Gutless parasite suggest a very sluggish movement compared to normal atoms…"
"That's completely ridiculous!" Xaldin complained. "You expect me to believe that what Roxas and I experienced was simply a cartoonish bastardization of all physics as we know it, requiring a tremendous suspension of disbelief and perhaps another twelve vodkas' worth of brain function degradation to believe?"
"What's your other theory, Vexen?" asked Lexaeus with a sigh.
Vexen rolled his eyes. "My second theory is called the 'EBA Theory'. It suggests that there is a 'secret government agency' made up of 'agents' who, upon receiving a distress call—"
"The Nobody in the Machine Theory!" Xaldin interrupted frantically. "What a brilliant discovery! What a splash you'll make in the scientific community! Vexen, I believe you're really onto something there!"
"Thank you, Xaldin," Vexen huffed, buffing his fingernails on the collar of his coat.
Lexaeus wisely decided a change of subject was in order. "Well, gentlemen, I'll be excited for things to get back to normal in The World That Never Was, won't you?"
"You have no idea," Xaldin moaned. "I never got to finish that book of blank verse I was reading in chapter one."
"I'll be thrilled to be home," Vexen muttered. "All of this data, all of these samples we've collected from Fandom Hearts…"
"You're going to study them?" asked Lexaeus.
"Heavens no. I'm going to throw them in a file folder and shove it at the very back of my research cabinet where it can rot for the rest of time," Vexen said distastefully. "I won't have this garbage getting in the way of my ordinary experiments."
"I'm looking forward to a tall cup of coffee, personally," Lexaeus chimed in. "Two sugars and lots of milk. Like my soul."
"I am curious, however," Xaldin cut in, "how things went with Axel and Larxene in charge of the others while we were gone."
"I wouldn't be concerned," Vexen said with a slight yawn, wiping the chalk dust off his hands with a small nearby cloth. "Both Axel and Larxene are perfectly responsible, and I place full faith in their leadership abilities. I'm sure they took very good care of affairs while we were away."
"We're gonna stand our ground!" came the demanding cry of a Zexion, suspended in midair from the roof of the Theater of Hollow Melodies. He appeared, for all intents and purposes to be dressed as a sitar.
A chorus of manly voices echoed him. "NA NA NA NA!"
"For freedom… beauty… truth and love!"
"NA NA NA NA!"
At the front of a lavishly decorated stage, Xemnas cradled Saïx—the former in the simple dress of a penniless sitar player and the latter in a bedazzling floor-length white evening gown with rhinestones and sequin-lined sarong.
"One day I'll flyyyy away!" Saïx had a remarkably good singing voice for a berserker-class.
"My giiiiift is my sooong!" Xemnas wasn't too shabby either.
Though the audience of Dusks looked absolutely thrilled, there was a trio of critics in the aisles that didn't seem to be enjoying the show too much.
"And they did this entirely of their own volition," Xaldin asked the play's director with a dead sort of look on his face.
"Of course," Axel said sheepishly, scratching the back of his head.
Vexen looked, for lack of a better word, vexed. "You didn't plant this idea in their heads at all."
"Nope," Axel repeated.
"They just up and decided to make lavish costumes and put on an amateur production of Moulin Rouge while we were away," Lexaeus queried. "Complete with full stage makeup and beautifully painted backdrops and scenery."
"What can I say? We appreciate the arts here in The World That Never Was." Axel beamed and crossed his arms proudly.
"And of course they asked you to film it," Xaldin posed to the one running the camera.
"We believe that even without hearts, there's always a place for culture in our world," Larxene said innocently, "and that culture should be preserved on DVD or high quality VHS."
"Yours today for the low price of 150 munny," Axel cut in.
"Right," Vexen muttered, rolling his eyes.
"In any case, we've returned from the mission successfully. All you knows are present and accounted for, all members of Organization XIII have been recovered and things should finally start settling down," Lexaeus said in an attempt to change the subject.
"Well isn't that special?" Axel replied. "Whoopadee doo."
"Let's get our comrades back to normal now, if you don't mind, Lexaeus," Xaldin told him.
As he pulled the Tupperware out of his coat sleeves and prepared to open it, Larxene suddenly grasped at his arm.
"Wait," she said abruptly. "If you don't mind… they just… they worked so hard on this!"
"Really," Axel whined, "You have no sense of theatrical timing."
"Oh, all right," Lexaeus sighed and crossed his arms, waiting for the finale to be over with.
Roxas stood nearby, watching the spectacle in horror as the climax came soaring to its pinnacle.
"I will love you…"
"I have to admit their casting is rather… what's the word I'm looking for," Vexen murmured.
"Effective?" asked Xaldin.
"Nightmare-inducing," Vexen corrected.
"Yes, I will love you…"
The Ukes lined up across the stage and threw their arms in the air, lifting their voices and singing as loudly as they could. Saïx fell back into Xemnas's arms and was dipped low to the stage.
"All right, here I go," Lexaeus said.
"I will love you! Until my dyyyyy-iiiiing… daaaaaaay!"
With the final note, Lexaeus popped the lid off the Tupperware, releasing a beautiful purple shower of you knows into the air. They soared up above the stage like fireworks just as Demyx pulled a rope to dump a bucketful of sparkling confetti down on the cast. It was a rather spectacular sight—captured forever on film as Larxene hastily snapped a series of pictures.
Then, almost on cue, the you knows tumbled down from the top of the theater and towards the players. Each one collided with a misty blast of testosterone and the shock forced the Nobodies to freeze in place.
There were a few moments of silence.
Exactly 15.13 seconds later, Xemnas dropped Saïx with a tremendous THUMP on the stage floor.
There was a horrified, unison scream.
And then there came an uproarious burst of laughter from Axel and Larxene, quickly drowned out by an extremely loud chorus of Nobody voices, questioning, demanding and trying to reason what in the worlds was going on.
"That…" Vexen murmured.
"Yes, Vexen?" asked Lexaeus.
Had Vexen a heart and were he capable of it, you would have seen him quickly reaching up to wipe away a single tear. "That was beautiful."
The adventure had wound to a close and all that was left was for the long explanations and epic recounting of the events depicted throughout the chapters of this fanfic so far—even though Xaldin, Vexen and Lexaeus were in no mood to recap the trials and tribulations of the terrifying trip.
Fortunately for the three of them, it was Thursday night. Thursday night was traditionally Movie Night in The World That Never Was, and despite the shocking events of the day so far, none of Organization XIII was willing to miss it. It seemed that the vast majority of them would rather have tried to forget the situation they had woken up into, to pretend it was merely a bad dream.
Unfortunately for Organization XIII, the movie for the night was entitled "Axel and Larxene's Funniest Home Videos" and it consisted entirely of videotaped footage and slideshows of what the rest of the group had been up to during the big blank spot in their memories.
The screaming could be heard for miles in Dark City—and if you were really, really listening, as far as Twilight Town.
Having seen quite enough of their comrades in humiliating situations for a good long while, though, Xaldin, Vexen and Lexaeus opted out of movie night and instead decided to throw a celebratory social for just the three of them, in the big cozy armchairs around the fireplace in The Nonentity's Library, enjoying an extra large bottle of fine champagne and light refreshments.
"What does one say at the end of something like this?" pondered Lexaeus. "Something so unbelievable and terrible that the majority of us are going to pretend it never happened?"
"I am reminded of a saying," Xaldin quipped, "That the best part of an adventure is when it is over."
"I hope this will be the beginning of a nice, long vacation for the three of us," Vexen sighed.
"I'm off until the evening of the 21st," Xaldin replied. "Then I've been assigned to go torment some orphans in Agrabah."
"No such luck for me," Lexaeus lamented, "They have me down for a two-week stint in Atlantica next week."
"Oh, that's terrible," Vexen gaped.
"It's not so bad," Lexaeus shrugged, standing up and heading for the nearby table where the refreshments were set. "Once you get used to the terrible controls, anyway."
Xaldin nodded in agreement and sighed. "A Nobody's work is truly never done."
"Cake, Xaldin?" Lexaeus asked.
"And me as well," Vexen called.
Both his comrades turned to him with looks of utter shock on their faces—Lexaeus very nearly dropped the knife. "Really, Vexen?"
"Indeed," said the Chilly Academic, looking smug.
"I thought you didn't get along with the C-word anymore," Xaldin said, impressed.
"Whyever would that be?" Vexen replied. "Remind me once more, gentlemen, what is the number one thing to remember about Nobodies?"
"They have no hearts," Lexaeus answered.
"Yes," Vexen nodded. "And this, gentlemen, is Boston crème cake. Nobody said anything about lacking taste buds."
The sky was dark in The World That Never Was. It was looking to be a peaceful evening.
Or morning. Nobody could ever really tell.
THE SELF-INVOLVED MASTURBATORY AUTHOR'S NOTE
Oh my god I did it I FINISHED AAAAAHH ONCE MORE I'd like to apologize for the long, long wait between the last chapter and this one. The life of a college student is one of hardship and misery.
I can't believe it's over! This has been one hell of a ride, my lovely readers, and what began as a stupid little flamebait parody I started in my free time has turned into the multi-chapter monstrosity that you see before you.
As a matter of fact, this story has taught ME a little something about badfic too. When I was starting off, it was my intention to piss off as many people as I could—but the great feedback I was getting told me a little something about the people reading my fics. You guys aren't stupid. You can spot worthless flamebait when you see it—and I was on the borderline between upsetting people and good-naturedly poking a little fun at them. In the end, I'm really not a trolly sort of person—and because I turned from being mean to being silly, I've had a lot more fun writing this and I think you guys have had more fun reading it as well. It's helped me hone my finely-tuned powers of sarcasm and given me lots of great practice.
Because this is my chapter and I can do what I want with it, I need to thank some people.
GEXT – My beloved beta reader, thank you for looking over all the chapters beforehand and keeping me in line. You even contributed portions of your acerbic wit in where mine was lacking. It wouldn't be the same without your awesome feedback.
DIXA – We've been friends since The Old Times and I continue to be blown away by what an awesome writer and an even more awesome person you are. Thanks for helping me hang in there… and inspiring me to stop procrastinating.
XELZ – I'm never so productive as when I'm plotting with you. Thanks for letting me bounce ideas off of you—I bet they bruised.
LYNX – Thank you for being my cheerleader. It's probably because of your nagging- I mean, ENCOURAGEMENT that I finished this at all. Thank you so much for your awesome comics. Bribery has never been so wonderful.
RII, KIA, RAINA – More people whose brains I picked and whose patience at my self-absorbed fic-related bitching I really appreciate. You guys all kick ass.
Finally, I need to thank each and every one of you who took the time to read my overly-long chapters, my rambling authors notes, the trollish first few chapters. I need to thank all of you who waited the MONTHS AND MONTHS AND MONTHS between updates, and always came back even when I thought I'd lost most of you to my own procrastination. To all of you who left the truly ridiculous number of reviews I've got. To everyone who wrote me emails, drew me fanfic and made me smile every time I opened my inbox. Heck, I want to thank everyone who contributes to fandom in any way—even what we call "badfic". Thanks for being such good sports and finding it in yourselves to have a little laugh.
In the end, that's what I really hope—that TLS made you laugh. With it, at it, at yourselves, whatever. For in the words of Mel Brooks, "Comedy is the number one defense against the universe". I'd like to see the universe try to take us out NOW. HA-HA.
- Gexegee of Organization VI