Minor M/M warning. Spoilers for Xemnas. Xaldin and Xemnas. Related to Point.

The day Ansem found him, it had been raining.

Xemnas doesn't remember particularly much about those first months - only vague impressions of warmth and safety and a stern voice echoing in his mind. Before Ansem had appeared, there had only been the cold. It had frozen everything in Xemnas's soul until he had been unable to remember his name, his body, his anything other than the need to lie there and hope distantly for the weather to pass.

But it's hard to keep everything straight. Whenever Xemnas tries to think about the Bastion, he's forced to wade through a middle layer of delusion. How much was ruined by the Darkness, he doesn't know; his memories contain a second assumed name, scribbled signatures with a royal mark stamped beside, declarations that he was the true king of the Bastion. That he was Ansem. That he was Xehanort. That he was the Heart of the World incarnate.

Too far back, and there's utter blankness. As far as his mind is concerned, Xehanort could have been created from the world itself, spat up like a fish or a stray leaf upon the paths of the fountain fields. His name recycles its letters every time he tries to reach for a single train of memory, and if there is one thing that Xemnas knows he can never admit, it's how shaky the foundations of sanity can become.

Xehanort. Ansem. Xemnas.

Sometimes the man he is dreams about falling asleep in the rain: lying down on the slovenly wet gravel, closing his eyes, feeling the water press against his skin and lashes and nose and mouth, offering a slow drowning but never fulfilling the promise.

Supposedly a person could die in an inch of liquid; in his dreams, then, the rain knows its limits, and never, ever crosses them.

When Xaldin finds him, the Superior is covered in darkness.

It had taken most of the day to track down where the man has gone. The Dusks had not seen Xemnas depart the Castle. The Shadows were no help - but they are eternally stubborn, following commands to varying degrees depending on their own communal whim.

Xaldin is not a Heartless; he is a Nobody, and only has as much control over the creatures of Darkness as they allow him.

Which, in the City, is none.

Water drums against taut plastic. The storms in the City like to come down sideways at times - particularly when Xigbar is in the area - but Xaldin has power to spare, and enough control over the winds to keep them from snapping stray gusts underneath his umbrella. He walks the streets in practiced echolocation. The tides of Darkness are a living ocean; even though he is not a creature welcome there, he can navigate the waves safely so long as he remains careful of any undertows.

He's about to turn away from one intersection when an anomaly twinges his senses: a hard knot of current that draws power to crash against it as surely as a gravitational well.

That's all the confirmation he needs to choose the right direction. Members of the Organization cannot hide from each other, not for long; their very natures attract Dusks, and Xaldin has used the same instinct before when tracking down his conspirators. Xemnas is one of the more notorious escapees. He disappears every month - twice sometimes - and usually during foul weather. Unlike the other members, Xemnas insists on getting lost as a form of privacy; Xaldin considers the Superior's habit of self-isolation to be every bit as annoying as Xigbar's target practice in the halls.

When the lancer sees the mass of pulsing shadow on the road, he wonders if he should be even a little surprised.

"I didn't think to find you all the way out here." His words come out in a puff of white breath. The air is cold; clouds have been spitting a never-ending torrent all day. The tip of his nose feels numb.

The figure on the ground stirs, but does not speak.

Xaldin watches the dark mist writhe around Xemnas's prone body, flexing with the slow respiration of a dormant beast. "It was a good ploy, leaving your umbrella behind. I spent all morning searching the Castle. But," he adds, taking another step closer, and then another, "next time, you should leave your jacket too."

Xemnas rolls his head back, squinting against the rain that plunks fat drops into his eyes.

At the sight, Xaldin stops.

The tension is gone from the Superior's face. In its place is a blank unfamiliarity, an unrecognizing stare. It is not a new expression for Xemnas; Xaldin has seen that look on him before, confused and vulnerable, fresh as a newborn at dawn. If he hadn't be there to witness Xemnas's arrival at Radiant Garden, he wouldn't recognize it now.

Xemnas. Xehanort. The lancer's fingers tighten on the handle of the yellow umbrella. For a dizzying instant, he finds himself remembering the old superstitions that the castle maids used to scare them with, back home in the Bastion: never wake a sleepwalker, for if you do, they will die.

Then the moment passes, and it's only Xemnas again, half-devoured by a pool of black ink.

His voice sounds like rust. "I fell asleep."

"That's an understatement." Xaldin grunts as he kneels on the pavement, a sound of dissatisfaction as he observes the tableau. Heartless tendrils start to curl towards him, reaching out from Xemnas's body; with a snort, he flaps his hand towards the shadows until they begin to disperse, abandoning the Superior like a sodden piece of garbage in the street.

What little he can feel of Xemnas's body is cold to the touch - as cold and clammy as a corpse. Unthinkingly, Xaldin leans his head down and exhales a long breath against the other man's skin. Steam curls out of his mouth, trickles of heat manifesting as mist in the chill air. Like trying to warm an ice cube, he thinks, and tries to ignore the metallic aftertaste that shadow has left behind.

Xemnas's neck is slick with rain. He makes a little noise when Xaldin's mouth presses against the beat of his pulse. Black leather creaks. For a time, the world is filled with nothing more than hot and cold and wet, and then - at last - Xaldin can feel the jump of muscle beneath his lips, a spasm that rapidly transforms into a shiver.

Working methodically, Xaldin strips Xemnas of his gloves, checking how the tips of the other man's fingers have gone pale, the nails white in their beds. He rubs them hard. The umbrella is impossible to brace correctly while he's trying to pull a limp body into his arms; the lancer thinks once about summoning power to shield them from the rain, and then discards the idea just as quickly. The last thing he needs is for the Darkness to return.

He chooses to struggle instead with his burdens: an umbrella against one shoulder, Xemnas on the other. Raindrops claim his foot.

Xemnas's jacket is soaked all the way through. There is some residual heat left in the man; a warm patch along the torso, humid with moisture that has seeped past Xemnas's collar. Zipper-teeth snag on Xaldin's sleeve as he slides his bare fingers down Xemnas's ribs, lending his own body temperature to counteract the chill.

Xemnas murmurs something incomprehensible, burrowing his face into the crook of Xaldin's arm.

"Are you awake yet, Xemnas?"


"If I didn't come for you next time," Xaldin finds himself asking, "would you die?"

Xemnas's answer is soft, and completely matter-of-fact. "If I did, I would return from the grave simply to kill you all for your carelessness."

"All who?" The question is routine.


"All who?"

Rain drips off the umbrella in a steady ripple. "All the Organization."

A cough, and Xemnas finally starts to sit up. Some of the color has returned to his skin, borrowed body heat serving to revive the man. He blinks twice while he sways, eyes wandering before they manage to focus on Xaldin's face.

As he does, the illusion returns. Xehanort's naivete flickers behind a Seeker's madness, behind a Superior's tight control. Reality shifts in Xemnas's face as easily as the streetlights changing around them, painting red and yellow and green and neon streaks in the rain.

Xaldin gives the body in his arms a careful shake.

"Come on," he orders simply. "I'll take you back."

The reward is a faintly cross look from the other man, and then Xemnas sneezes.

He sleeps all the way home.