Disclaimer: Squix and Dizzy Knee own the characters, the worlds, the souls of those unfortunate enough to fall under their spell. Esse owns her partially finished afghan. She'd own a finished afghan if it weren't for Dizzy Knee and Squix. She'd like to own Seifer's belly button — but is willing to admit that's never gonna happen. The Dapper Dans are a force all their own.

Notes: There're prolly countless stories out there exactly like this one already. Truly, I couldn't help myself. A lot can happen during an unrecounted year. And the Organization… well, I've played the game. I wouldn't trust the Organization to pick up my trash… and to stay in the black, it might just come down to that :)

Warnings: Silly fic. Parentheses abuse. Uncontrollable tense shifts over very short chapters. Other than that… Language is a-okay, lyrics are kept to a minimum, fondness for Disneyland is a plus. Please remember, tis all in fun.

Stage I
alms for the poor

They gathered, full conclave filled with dark purpose and darker desire. Here is the Organization in its glory, its strength; pay no attention to the empty seats and the vacancies on the roster, instead focus on the maneuvering for 4th. IV is so much easier to sign on the requisition forms than VIII, or XVII — and it seems like just about anynobody can make it into the Organization nowadays as long as they supply their own stylishly ominous black coat, bolero tie optional since members seldom bother with them for casual dress (though they'd turn you away at the door if you attempted to attend the yearly posh cotillion sans bolero, because the Organization has standards it occasionally lives down to). They sit — bolero-less (besides Luxord, who's into turquoise at the moment, and silver medallions, and a ten gallon hat —which only holds 3 quarts of hard lemonade, more's the pity— that he'd won in one spectacular hand of strip poker, along with alligator-skin boots, fringed chaps, and a silver belt buckle in the shape of an arrow, pointing down). They sit, and they fidget, and they natter quietly, wondering what's delayed their Numero Uno — that wanker — whose tardiness was keeping them from their afternoon soaps.

Ah! They quieted down (besides Luxord, whose ten gallon hat is now down by two quarts and whose singing voice might be pleasant if it weren't slurred beyond all recognition — and Demyx, playing accompaniment courtesy of his sitar; Grim Grinning Ghosts lent an incongruous bounce to the room's dire atmosphere, but Demyx sorely needed the practice, if ever he were to fulfill his un-life-long ambition of joining the Dapper Dans on their bicycle for four) and stilled their fidgeting (never mind the tapping toes, for Demyx and his soggy duplicates had found the beat; ignore Axel and his whoops of, 'Dance water, dance!'; best not to notice the merrily clapping Xaldin, you'd be scarred for life by the fact he's eating Jolly Time Healthy Pop Kettle Corn. Really). He comes. The Head Honcho. Their leader. Their salvation.

Such a pity he slipped in a puddle left by the dozy doeing water forms and fell flat on his face, ruining his dramatic entrance. So unfortunate Xaldin still happened to be clapping. Xemnas lifted his face from the marble floor (yeah, literally, reached up his arm and pulled his head up by his long, pretty pretty hair, 'cause he'd smashed his head into the tile; see, there's the impact crater in the shape of Xemnas' pretty, pretty head) and glared at Xaldin. Pouted his pretty pretty lips into a frown, and said, "That's it, Mister. Get used to being III. Umm, Xigbar, you be II. Un-disclosed and unimportant XVII, you're back to being a Dusk. Get lost. Or get a mop. And a towel…" he commanded, wringing water from his dripping, silvery, oh-so-pretty locks.

XVII huffed, and muttered, "Oh gee!" before leaving the room, his cute mouse-y tail whipping in agitated rodent dismay. How XVII was supposed to successfully spy on the Organization while out mop hunting was a mystery. How the Organization failed to notice his enormous round ears… we'll not speculate on. It'll give us pimples.

Xemnas managed to stand, and drip, and bring down the jovial mood of the conclave. It's what he did best. Second best. He crossed his arms, and glowered, and counted the empty chairs. "Where are they?"

"Whoa! Is that, like, a metaphysical question?" Axel scratched at his chin, then his wrists, and finally his left shin, all the while silently cursing Roxas and his fondness for orange blossom shower gels that persistently left the red haired man with unsightly allergic rashes. "Do we go to the light, or are we bound for eternal darkness? Is there life after death for those who aren't truly alive to begin with? If we walk in twilight and shadow—"

"They're dead," Saïx interrupted. 'Cause that's just the way he is. Fuddy-duddy was magic markered on the door of his Organization locker. He carried a card. But don't bother asking for it; he won't show it, that fuddy-duddy.

"Dead?" Xemnas sat in his chair, and gracefully folded his hands over the suspicious bulge underneath his coat. "All of them?"

"Well, Roxas is off angsting; you know, existential crisis and all, oh woe is him, blah blah whatever," Axel said, feeling vindictive… and very, very itchy, and vaguely citrus-scented. "But Vexen? I can so vouch for. Can't get much deader than that." He smirked, and scratched, and plotted revenge on his roomie.

"We don't leave corpses," Xigbar argued while holding out his eye patch, squinting through both eyes indecisively while wondering if he should just visit the optometrist; a monocle would be so much cooler than his tatty patch — not that he needed either. "I'd say, folks could get a whole lot deader than us. Man, I wish I could rot…"

"When you hear the knell of a requiem bell," Luxord belted heartily, third quart of hard lemonade tucked away behind his shiny silver belt buckle, "weird glows gleam where spirits dwell… C'mon, D-dude, backup!"

Demyx — immune to Xemnas' glare, Saïx's best berserk battle aura, and Xaldin's popcorn encrusted sideburns — merrily joined in the singing, images of a striped blazer, straw boater hat, and his very own set of Deagan Organ Chimes filling his head (with room to spare, but it wouldn't be nice to point that out to the poor lad whose sole ambition is to one day sing Barber Shop professionally to jaded tourists in the coffee shop on Main Street). "Restless bones etherealize, rise as spooks of ev'ry size…"

"Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize! …What?" Axel asked huffily, as assorted looks were cast his way. "It's the chorus. You're supposed to join in on the chorus. That's why there's an us in the word. Duh." He slumped back in his seat, shrugging. "Lighten up. It's not like I busted out with God Rest You Merry Grinning Ghosts."

"Cold dead eyes…" Xemnas whispered fondly before shaking his (wet, dripping, yet still oddly pretty) head. "Which is besides the point," he said, raising his voice till it filled the chamber and sent back echoes that sounded somewhat like a schoolgirl asking for a pony — but sounded much more like Xemnas asking for a pony.

"What color pony… I mean… What is the point?" Saïx rubbed the crossed scars between his eyes, and debated on whether he should once more release his awesome fury… but his blade was heavy and his ears were pointed and he occasionally caught himself wistfully glancing through archery catalogues and Modern Elf magazine. —Which he couldn't even say he was holding for a friend, since Saïx was absolutely friendless. It's the fate of a fuddy-duddy, you know.

"The point is XVII hasn't returned with my towel!" Xemnas shrieked, flinging his fists into the air while staring beseechingly up into the dark sky (since the Nobodies' Business Construction Crew had yet to put a roof on the castle being built, just in case you were wondering why he wasn't beseeching the stucco-covered ceiling or some such). "Erm, wait, no…" Thought rested uneasily upon his pretty pretty face. "My point is," he reached (dramatically) into his coat… and pulled out… (dramatically!) a tin can, decorated with construction paper to resemble a purple bunny. "It's time to pay your dues!"

"Dues?" Demyx strummed a chord — but it was flat and uninspired.

"Dues?" Axel also had pointed ears, but the only magazine he perused regularly was Cook's Illustrated (and we shall gloss over his one attempt at blackened catfish, which consisted of several gleeful 'Burn, baby!' chortles, much smoke, one disgruntled bottom feeder released back into the wild the next day, and Roxas spending the night hiding fearfully in the rafters with his emergency stash of pretzels). "What's this, dues?"

"You're members of the Organization." Rattling the tin can, Xemnas' lips tilted upwards — the closest he could come to a smile (since his pratfall had chipped a bicuspid, and there's been no time to see a dentist, not that there'd be a dentist down in the city; dental professionals seldom leave behind Nobodies, since dental professionals seldom have hearts for the Heartless to steal). "And with membership comes fees. Look around you: Do you think this castle is paying for itself?"

Xaldin picked popcorn skins from his teeth with one of his many lances. "I thought the castle was being built with Dusk slave labor…"

Sighing, Xemnas tried rattling his can louder. "Sure, the labor's free, but what of the materials? The marble? The concrete? The mood lighting?" He pointed to where a vaguely heart-shaped moon-thing should have been looming overhead had the sky not been filled with gloomy drizzle clouds.

"Not the mood lighting," Luxord rasped, tipsily getting to his alligator-shod feet and shuffling across the room. "Gotta have mood lighting." Reaching into his pockets, he pulled out handfuls of Tic-Tacs, playing cards, and bubblegum wrappers along with a stunning pair of soldier earrings, all of which were dropped into the tin can with a jarring clang. "How'm I supposed t' get anyone in the mood, without bloody mood lighting? Am I right, Huggybear?"

"That's Xigbar, you lush," the patched, scarred, striped, newly dubbed II snarled — partly in envy, since all his pockets contained were a spare pair of gloves and some lint, and partly because anything he didn't snarl came out sounding rather valley-ish. And that didn't fit his image, unless he wanted to go with the Huggybear thing. Maybe once he had his monocle… "You can't be serious, Xemnas. We're evil. Evil doesn't worry about paying its bills."

"Hey, hey," Demyx strummed, and thrummed, and got out a good portion of It's a Small World before he remembered he was objecting. "Easy with the labels. Evil, or good? Who knows? Gotta have a heart to be either; haven't you read your Newly Nobody guidebook?" With a final, discordant clash he stood, passing his sitar to a water form summoned from the puddle surrounding Xemnas' boots.

"Where are you off to?" Not that Saïx cared, unless it was to Twilight Town for ice cream. He might have been a card-carrying fuddy-duddy, but he was a fuddy-duddy with dyed blue hair, an interesting tattoo hidden underneath his pink woolen long johns, and a reputation around Miz Maizy's Ice Cream Emporium for being a bit of a sorbet slut.

Demyx waved a careless goodbye. "Gonna start my career as a street performer. How else am I gonna pay my dues?"

"Indeed." Xemnas nodded regally as the jiggling crowd of water forms passed, then fixed his attention on the remaining members. "How are you going to pay? Cashier's check? PayPal? Hmm, Axel?"

"Oh, c'mon!" The red haired man petulantly kicked the chair next to his own, leaving nasty scratches for Roxas to find, and eventually repair with much sandpaper and elbow grease. "We're broke, boss man. If we had anything, and I mean anything going for us, do you really think we'd be hanging out here?" Various nods and mumbles of 'Right on!' and 'Amen to that!' followed; Axel beamed in return (and was thereby forever dubbed the friendly face of the Organization, a much better title than fuddy-duddy or Huggybear, and it almost made being stuck as VIII bearable).

"Well, no, I guess not…" Xemnas moped as the other men deserted him, leaving him alone in the wet, crater-pocked, roofless room. "But where," he whimpered, pulling out the earrings from his bunny-motifed can and trying them on, "am I to get the funds to finance my master plan?" He studied himself in a handheld mirror (which he kept hidden up one of his voluminous sleeves, along with his hair spray and the current issue of Cosmo, because being the pretty one took work, especially when he got his sleeves confused and accidentally tried brushing his hair with his glowy-not-saber swords instead) and pondered the dilemma.

"Umm, excuse me," XVII scampered in, fluffy azure towel in one hand, top-secret structural diagrams in the other, and various key chains strung along his tail. "I couldn't help but overhear your predicament. I know how you can raise munny. Lots and lots of munny!"

I listened to XVII, then began to laugh. Not evilly, and not goodly, but sort of in-betweeny in a bland kind of way, more like a tee-hee-hee instead of a proper ha-ha! The Organization would get its roof, and new leather for gloves worn thin by all the snapping the members did (some to summon Nobodies, and some to summon Heartless, and some for no better reason than they got a kick out of snapping their fingers under other people's noses). Xemnas laughed — and set into motion the first diabolical threads of Operation: Fundraiser.

end Stage I

The Organization: A group of incomplete people wanting to become whole. Common sense would've been a good start. Sadly, that ended up somewhere else whenever a Nobody was created. Newly Nobody speculated it ended up inside little green apples (chapter four: Why am I Trying to Destroy the World?) which only goes to show how lacking common sense was amongst the Nobody population. It did make for record sales of little green apples, though.

advance to Stage II
Riku vs. Roxas vs. Milk vs. Dark

End Notes: Grim Grinning Ghosts — Words by X Atencio. All you'd ever want to know about the Dapper Dans can be found at harmonize dot com slash dapperdans . Give Shelby, Tim, Jim, and Bill your wuv!