"Growing Darkness" and the general concept of "Growing Darkness" is completely copyright Orin Drake 2006. All characters contained within and terms like "Organization XIII" are owned by Square-Enix and Disney. Lucky, lucky bastards.

Background: I was inspired by the drop-dead gorgeous works of RubyD, which you can find if you go to the website in my profile, click on Writing, then Fan Fiction, and find this story, "Growing Darkness". As for this "chapter" itself, it's pretty much just... bits and pieces, before and after the first chapter, filling in the story a little.

Growing Darkness
The In-Betweens
Orin Drake

"Why not?"

"I just... I don't want to be the one to hurt him. That's all. Okay?"

"Memorized." Demyx quietly dared to joke. "But... it still doesn't make sense."

Axel sighed, honestly not knowing why the hell he was going to admit it... "Look. I... Well, I mean... Sora... no, wait. It's like this. See, Riku was... um..."

"I get it." The musician's voice was almost hidden under the lightly plucked strings of his sitar. "Sora loves Riku. You love Roxas. Roxas was part of Sora even if he can't remember." He strummed something dashing and lovely--and a little bit heartbreaking. "It's an old story."

The redhead glared at the other Nobody for quite some time. "I can't love without a heart, idiot."

Demyx shrugged without looking up, tuning a string carefully. "You can't have a best friend without one either, I suspect."

Axel really wanted to grab hold of that instrument and beat the blond with it. Several times. "I didn't ask you. I will never ask you. Got it--"

"Memorized." Spoken again, softly... the lightest edge of a grin playing on his lips.

Roxas had merely walked away after the rest of the Organization started showing up. Fine, sure; he gladly let them deal with the boy who'd challenged him. He--Riku, was that his name?--was good, but no match. Had an odd fixation on the Keyblade...

--No, the youngest Organization member didn't really care to think about it. He just wanted some rest, some silence, some time away. Whatever was happening, he likely didn't wish to be a participant anyway. He'd follow orders, do exactly what he had to do, but he didn't enjoy the kill quite as thoroughly as... almost everyone else.

Settling somewhat comfortably on the familiar rooftop where he could almost believe no one would find him... that was when he'd heard it. The shriek. The scream of such agony and desperation...

He couldn't quite figure out exactly why he felt so sick. Certainly he'd heard it all before... but that time was... different. Something that tore at his--

Heh. Well, that was just... stupid, wasn't it. He didn't have a heart. It was weird how he had to remind himself of that sometimes.

And yet... And yet it was impossible to ignore. Especially because the next sounds were combined of another blood-curdling sound of torment... and then something he was certain had been a hit against one of their own. How he knew that... maybe it was a strange paranoia. Or maybe it was knowing better. Either way... he understood that he could not look. To look was to... lose too much... but to walk away and try to forget would be even worse.

He'd have to play along, he knew that... and he didn't particularly like it very much. If he demonstrated the least hesitation, any resistance at all... He couldn't chance it. Yeah, he was... "difficult". That much had been said, in countless ways, since he'd been found.

Axel just... he didn't want to hurt him, that prone boy there... weak and held back... He was glad for a hood, suddenly. To hide his face was... imperative.

He was already expected to participate. Something safe, then... the mouth. Yes. Fingers in the mouth... Xemnas would like that. It would put him in a better mood, maybe... and not do what everyone knew was coming. They could scent his plan in the air like blood--and that was why they held the boy down. That's why they teased and made him angry, made him squirm... all for Xemnas' pleasure before...

No, not thoughts to dwell on. Not like the teeth suddenly attempting to sink into his fingers. Yeah. He could focus on that for a while. Fake a laugh. Throw out a cocky comment. No one had to suspect a thing. He was just glad Roxas wasn't there to watch.

"You should give him this."

The boy only stared at what he'd been handed--a Hi-Potion? For the enemy who'd challenged him? "Why?"

"You just... should."

"I don't understand..."

Axel only shrugged with a soft grin. No, Roxas didn't understand... and it was better that way.

"No, no. I'm the whipping boy. It's my lot in this non-life."

The fact he was trying so hard to continue to make his voice light, full of humor... like it was no big deal to get his jaw broken by Xemnas... again... Axel felt rage burning like fire at his fingertips. "Dammit, that wasn't--"

"C'mon." Demyx's voice never rose... never became sad or angry. "It's not like I can feel hurt about it."

The look on his face when it had happened, though... Axel remembered. He'd been watching. He turned away, murmuring quietly to himself. "I... really wonder, sometimes."

Now I've opened the floodgates. sigh Ah well. Eventually there might be more. I have... "theories" about Demyx. Little bastard hijacked my brain.

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