The first one to find him is Zexion.
He's been tossed bodily into the world, cold and crazy. He's pretty sure it's insanity because there's no other way he can think of to describe the crushing, consuming, destroying, holy-shit-it-is-everything, blackness that is his memory and his life and his self. He doesn't really have a being and he spends the first couple of months with Zexion trying to relearn.
He's locked away in a dark room all day because Zexion has other things to do and he doesn't. His mind is blank because there's nothing to question and nothing to care about, so he waits and waits and waits and he actually kind of perks up a bit for Zexion because it's actually something that gets him away from the crazy crushing, consuming and the destroying of his mind, which has caved in.
Zexion is all cold planes of a person, like thin ice, he's really that cold. Physically his skin has no warmth and…his eyes don't have any flame either and when they sit close enough together they only get more frigid and his body shakes as he tries to overcome the mad, destroying, blackness that wants to suffocate him and giggle manically as he drowns in a fucking metaphor.
He thinks that Zexion's voice is actually what gets him so hooked because it's like a passion that isn't there. A fake, a substitute that he can scoop out of the air and put into himself and maybe he can stop feeling so empty and maybe he can pretend for a second that his mind isn't completely gone and dead and that he has something to be passionate about.
He tells these things to Zexion, slow, haltingly, and the man just smiles and ruffles his hair like he's a particularly good kitty. That's all he is, a pet, a project, something fun to come home to. Zexion has sympathy for him because he's what he could have been, had he failed to retain his mind in the transition.
Sometimes Zexion tries to help, he talks about what it means to be nobody but there's no context so it makes no sense at all. All he's ever known is nothing and the black, dark thing that was more like death than insanity, but being so wrapped up in death all the time led him there and Zexion thinks that's funny too. Zexion sometimes likes to talk about the way he smells of the death of worlds.
He doesn't think that's funny, so he whines low in his throat, base and primitive because that's where the blank, dark, nothing, oh god, why is he crazy? takes him. Zexion pets his head and he moves in closer like a cat…a frozen cat left out in the snow for too long but there's no warmth to be had and he has a body that remembers warmth and a broken mind that remembers nothing. And one day it's a different kind of petting and his mind is a different kind of blank and the air is a different kind of crisp and cool and it's a whole new kind of dark; wet and musky and warm.
Sex. Zexion tells him the words, every word he can think of; clinical words, dirty words, romantic words. He slams them into him with every snap, jerk, god it hurts, more, oh, please. The unification is new and his body racks up scars, which become memories, which usher away the blank but not the dark. He likes the dark okay, though. He learns that Zexion smells like deceit and his cum tastes like betrayal.
And when Zexion tires of him, he's shattered and broken again because Zexion tells him that it was all lies. He'd better get used to it.
Xemnas is a different kind of cold.
He experiences his first betrayal all over again and feels like a child and an animal. He thinks, to Zexion, he was a pet, and to Xemnas, he is definitely an animal: low and ugly, but perfectly pretty and usable. He's used and used and told about the world that he didn't know existed out there and he spends a day curled up in a corner; bleeding and trying to make his brain stop imploding as it struggles to physically wrap itself around the concept of a universe. Sometimes he can barely get out of the black and the dark and sometimes the crazy tries to creep back in.
Sometimes he screams and Xemnas loves that. Whatever he's doing at the time, he redoubles his efforts, not even realizing that pain doesn't matter. Pain is perfect and simple and logical and his mind doesn't have the chance to tie itself in convenient Boy Scout knots. It just accepts, because it is. It's different from the thoughts of his small, cold place where Zexion used to be and his world used to be but the insanity lingers on those memories…the insanity lingers on his scars and he hates looking at them, but Xemnas loves making him. He likes the screams and tears and shaking and mostly the screams.
There are days when Xemnas tires of him as well, but he doesn't throw him away. Instead there's change. Instead there are more words to link together in a chain. There are more scars and there are more memories. Xemnas brings books and reads them aloud.
"…That is what they say I said when they found me in the blackness after three hours; found me crouching in the blackness over the plump, half-eaten body of Captain Norrys, with my own cat leaping and tearing at my throat…"
Xemnas takes great delight after reading Rats in the Walls to him. Xemnas runs his fingers lightly over his skin and watches the way he twitches and cries and stares back at him with crazed blue eyes. And Xemnas asks softly, gently, cooing, crooning, bringing out the insanity, and wondering if he thought that was true. If he thought he could go back to something so base and Xemnas knows he already has because his mind is a teeter-tottering seesaw.
It's the stories that bring out the violence. His fingernails raking across Xemnas' skin leaving long jagged trails and Xemnas licks the blood from his fingers and then thrashes him harder than he's ever know before and,
"Please…" Words usually escape him but the jolt to his mind as each strike courses through him is a thrill. It makes the fog recede until he almost has an inkling of himself again, refracted in the pieces of an other and a betrayal. Scattered on the shadowy floor in a room that would have been blindingly white if there were any light to be had.
The universe becomes logic, becomes part of the dark with each new terror Xemnas injects into him. Cruelty is Xemnas' lesson and gift, just as treachery was Zexion's. He learns avarice and lusts for the next lesson, the next bright hallucinated flash of white as blood leaves his body and he's left light headed while Xemnas holds him down and fucks him and growls. In his head he still hears Zexion's words that were painstakingly forced into him with every…every…jerk, snap, oh, god, Xemnas. The words come easier and the madness hangs over him like a cloud.
Xemnas tires of him because he's been crazy too long to change. His memories run deep, entangled with the scars of his flesh and there's just no more to teach.
Vexen gives him back his mind.
He's learned and he's no longer an ignorant fetus curled up in a web of devastating darkness, which confuses his mind and makes him insane. He knows of the world he's never been out into. His memories are those of pain. He's been loved, he's been used, he's been taught, and he's been betrayed. He's learning to read people and when his ownership changes hands once more, he expects Vexen to be no different from the others.
Vexen is different though. The others, who had used him and tossed him aside, had wanted his words. They'd wanted his screams. Vexen wants his silence. Vexen wants him to sit on a cold table and pretend to be a corpse, which isn't difficult because all he has to do is look at his body where ice runs through his veins and the scars still mar his cold, pale skin. He does not yet understand the sun. But looking at his flesh brings him back to the dark and the crushing, consuming, nothing, that he fears is death and he would rather be in agony for the rest of his life than ever go back to that level of all-encompassing, terrifying, taking over and destroying-every-last-corner-of-his-mind-w ith, nothingness.
Vexen is a fucking vulture. Vexen lays him dead on the frigid metal table and moves around him, touches him, running ashen fingers over garbage disguised as usable wares. Vulture…vulture…his eyes are like a vulture, dark and endless and looking at them is like going back to that place and his whole body shakes like a fucking delicate little leaf. Vexen loves it, as long as he doesn't make a sound. As long as he keeps lying there bare and accessible.
The first drug makes him sleep. The second makes him sweat. The third makes him shake. The fourth makes him high and that's when Vexen fucks him. His back squeaking on the metal and the syringe and the beakers and the vials go crashing to the tiled floors, which had been white until years of chemical vapors turned them gray. There are lights in the lab and he can see the ceiling for the first time…ever
Vexen hates the violence that Xemnas loved. He returns in kind and takes a handful of hair and warns him with low sibilant words that if he is ever injured again there will be death. That's enough to make him sob, even though he's still hallucinating from the drug and still aching from their rut. Vexen reminds him of the silence he demands.
The fifth drug makes him vomit and as he's leaned over a basin he hears Vexen speaking, explaining the compounds of the drugs.
The sixth drug makes his entire body numb, which is why Vexen's incision into his neck is all the stranger; he feels it and yet doesn't. He recalls Xemnas telling him about nobodies and feelings and he lets out a whimper as he tries to recall the specific words. Vexen utters something and he orders him to pay attention. He's become used to the orders. Orders. Violence. Lies. He needs them and Vexen doesn't give them often enough and yet…after he's been stitched up, Vexen runs loving fingers down the simple black thread, so stark on watery, dead skin. He fucks him then, the sporadic motions ripping them back out.
The drug, whose number he doesn't remember, is the one that makes his lifeless skin break out in a rash and Vexen gives him a coat to cover the blossoming inflammation. It's big and black and has a hood, which he absolutely refuses to pull over his head, because that would destroy him completely. He sits on the edge of the table, swinging his legs and trying not scratch his skin, which is itching and it isn't a bad thing, per say, because it's almost like hurting. And it's kind of like violence when he does let in and scratches until he bleeds. Vexen doesn't bother caring.
He sits and watches, his eyes are as clear as his mind and the only distraction is the itch and when Vexen glances at him, taking down notes about his condition and the side effects of the drugs, he looks back curiously. Vexen smiles and explains.
Vexen never tires of him. Only cures him, fucks him once more, and shoves him out into the world.
Axel takes all the cold and the dark away.
Words are a problem for him. He finds them tedious and supposes it's a reasonable reaction. He was only ever spoken to when he was being taught or questioned about the side effects of the latest antipsychotic. So, Axel and his endlessly running mouth make him uncomfortable. It seems to annoy the others, but annoyance isn't the issue for him. He's overwhelmed by all the sounds and abstracts crashing in on him. They're like the bad dreams Vexen drove away with his fucking happy pills, which sometimes make him hallucinate, or break out in a rash, or any other plethora of wretched side effects. Vexen doesn't fuck him anymore; though, at times, it's plain he wants to.
It's plain Axel wants to and that makes everything worse-better. The scars are no longer memories because Vexen makes him a special drug to make those special crazy memories of death and the need to be bloodied until his veins run dry and…The scars are habits: Lies. Orders. Submission. Sex.
Axel seems stunned when he shows up in his room and strips off the coat and everything beneath it. Axel is stunned but not silent, which, perhaps, is what confuses him the most. He's neither drunk nor high because Vexen won't let him have the hallucinogens any longer. He's no longer a lab rat, but he's still a pet, a slave, an animal, ugly, lowly, but just pretty enough to be used? Why is Axel wasting time? He's there and he knows Axel wants it.
He wonders if the words mean that much, so he tries a few. "You talk too much."
Axel isn't—physically can't—complain and he actually tries not to nail him so hard he bleeds but then all the suppressed violence comes back in a flood.
The next morning Axel is sporting a shiner and his neck is nothing if not a playing field of purpling bite marks. He's got a great long gash in his back, it's wrapped in bandages and they're the best of friends.
Axel is like Xemnas, in the respect that he changes what he's dissatisfied with. Axel tries to change him and every time terrible things are parroted back at him.
"When I speak of poor Norrys they accuse me of a hideous thing, but they must know that I did not do it. They must know it was the rats; the slithering scurrying rats whose scampering will never let me sleep; the daemon rats that race behind the padding in this room and beckon me down to greater horrors than I have ever known; the rats they can never hear; the rats; the rats in the walls."
And when he finishes, all Axel can do is stare and then a great feral smile curves his lips. Axel kisses him with a fiery passion that might have been convincing under other circumstances. Other circumstances, such as, if he couldn't remember the lessons Zexion and Xemnas had left with him about this life.
They have sex in the hallway. Larxene and Demyx watch them for a time, but as they make their way through several rounds, the onlookers finally get bored and leave.
He tells everything to Axel then. Everything he knows, beginning to end, and promises more the next time he runs out of fucking happy pills. He uses more words than he has for the entire length of his death, which lead to his insanity.
Axel fucks him and kisses his cheek and jaw and neck and shoulder. He doesn't bite, even though the violence is what he wants. Every time Axel doesn't bite him, doesn't rend his flesh, and doesn't bleed him out; there's a promise, one without the words that he's honestly come to hate.
I won't tire of you, and I'll fix the damage they've done. Lies.
Riku is who he has sex with.
He's an absolutely poor substitute for everything he wants, needs, remembers, craves. But he's left what he needs behind and now he searches for what he can't remember. But he can't leave behind the sex any more than he can leave behind the pills. They are his scars, his vices, and his sins. Withdrawal would send him into death's waiting arms and he remembers how death feels and he remembers the insanity. He overdoses on the drugs to keep himself straight and spends the day in an alleyway hallucinating about vultures made of fire and ice.
Then Riku finds him and tries to fight him and Riku loses. The boy doesn't expect to be sucked off afterwards or laid and probably didn't want to be, because he's that fucking obsessed with Sora and that was the name he said when he came and that's just fucking fine. Violence. Sex. And God he needs the Orders and the Lies, but they'll just have to wait.
The next time he meets the boy, he's put up in a hotel for the night because he's tired of sleeping out in the goddam rain. He sees Riku lurking out on the balcony and brings the boy in, offers him a drink and halfway through pouring the liquid, throws the cup at Riku's head to finally get the violence. It somehow ends with Riku pinning him down to the bed and growling. With the silver hair he really does remind him just enough of Xemnas.
And he offers to let Riku call him Sora and the kid really looks like he wants to, so he offers again. Riku calls him a slut and it startles a laugh out of him. He hasn't really laughed since Axel and it makes him think of the violence and he really almost knees Riku in the gut.
But then Riku's fucking him and the submission is perfect even if the partner is off. In between gasps he's muttering and Riku catches only bits and pieces of it and it isn't any kind of erotic pillow talk at all. It makes the fevered light in his eyes, the pent up violence, and the scars make that much more sense to Riku.
"…but still I
ran…voices, and yowls, and echoes…insidious scurrying; gently rising,
rising, as a stiff bloated corpse gently rises above an oily river that
flows under endless onyx bridges to a black and putrid sea…"
Riku still comes inside of him though, feeling filthy afterwards. Filthy, like a black and putrid sea and he thinks to himself that he'll never let this happen again, even though he's invited back. Riku never says yes, but he ends up doing it anyway.
He ends up learning secrets about a person who he'd been told wasn't a person at all. He ends up high on drugs that were surreptitiously slipped into his water. They end up fucking in an alleyway and there's blood and he likes it that way, even though, if Riku hadn't been tweaked, he would have been horrified.
Riku learns the terrible words to the terrible story about the rats, which he has memorized. Riku always listens as he mumbles it during sex because it's like the scars and the drugs and the violence and the sex itself, it can't go away. He's a mess and Riku wonders how he was ever a part of Sora. Especially when he stabs Riku in the side with a knife and the kid really is hurt, but even as he tries to get his breath back there's a hand on his cock, dick, penis, shaft, and all the other pretty words Zexion left in his head. But he's lost some to the drugs.
He just murmurs, "Those carrion black pits of sawed, picked bones and opened skulls…nightmare chasms choked with the pithecanthropoid, Celtic, Roman, and English bones of countless unhallowed centuries…What, I thought, of the hapless rats that stumbled into such traps amidst the blackness of their quests in this grisly Tartarus…"
In the end, Riku has a sick fascination with him and doesn't want to let him go. Riku never tires of him, only longs for Sora.
Quotes in Italics are from H.P. Lovecraft's Rats in the Walls