Ah, crackpairings. Where would the world be without them? Actually, don't answer that. I'm not sure I want to know.
So, story behind the story: Kai's Snowfall and I discovered we both like crackpairings, which was so awesome she volunteered to do one for me. I requested Vexen/Marluxia, so she wrote Retaliation. (Uploading strips my links for some reason, or I'd put it here. Anyway, it's in my faves. Go read it!) I offered to do a pairing in return, she requested Marluxia/Saix, and here we are.
I'm sorry, Kai, you wrote a nice little fluffy fic, and I turned your request into an angstfest. I hope you enjoy the angst, at least. I had fun writing it!
Reviews, critique, random babble, and flames are all welcome. Flames will be forwarded to Axel so everyone wins in the end.
Disclaimer: All characters are property of Square Enix and Disney, I just own the plot. Yay!
An individual who, under the influence of the moon, is insane.
Saix would be the first to admit he knew absolutely nothing about emotions and feelings. Marluxia would be the last. However, they both knew a little bit about the wrong way to go about finding emotions.
They had learned, through joint experimentation, that emotions didn't involve skin. Emotions didn't involve hiding from the Superior, finding a dark corner in a disused corridor in the Castle That Never Was, or posting Berserker guards around the corridor's entrance to keep anyone from stumbling upon them.
They had learned that emotions couldn't be found by avoiding locking gazes, unwilling to acknowledge each other's presence after what they had done. They also learned that emotions couldn't be found by finally reluctantly looking into each other's eyes, because all they saw were the whites of their eyes laced with veins from exhaustion, dull irises, and empty black holes in the middle.
Still, they thought they might be on to something. Although they hadn't found emotions yet, they had found a feeling. And that was enough to continue meeting each other.
"What are you doing out here?"
Marluxia turned to glance over his shoulder at Saix. "Enjoying the view, obviously."
"Obvious to anyone who doesn't know us, perhaps," Saix said. He ascended the stairs to the dais Marluxia stood on, Xemnas' usual spot. Above them, a fragmented, ruined moon hung in the sky, but it was filling in every day. It had recently begun to resemble a heart. How fitting. "We won't fall for that act."
"You can't let us pretend, can you?" Marluxia said, scowling. "Fine. I'm experiencing the view, at least."
"And the Superior isn't here?" Saix said, stopping beside Marluxia to gaze up at the moon with him. Kingdom Hearts.
"Apparently not," Marluxia said. "I heard from Larxene that he was in Twilight Town, but I can't imagine why."
"He won't be happy to find out you've been up here without his permission."
"So you're saying he'll be unhappy?"
"Well, he's..." Saix stopped, and scowled. "No, I'm not."
Marluxia smirked, and then let his gaze return to Kingdom Hearts. Saix looked up with him.
He gazed at the moon for a long time, even forgetting Marluxia was beside him. Xemnas' great plan was slowly proceeding, and it was beautiful. Saix could almost physically sense an ache where his heart used to be, but it was eased just a little whenever he could see the moon. The plan was definitely proceeding.
Coming out of his trance, he glanced at Marluxia. Surprisingly, his gaze was hard. The moon cast deep shadows across his face, his thin lips, his narrowed eyes. His arms were crossed tightly. The memory of hate glimmered in his eyes.
"What is it?" Saix asked.
Marluxia's gaze flashed to Saix. "Why do you still believe in that fool?" he snapped.
"Pardon?" Saix said. As if they hadn't had this argument before.
No preamble was needed. "We both know Xemnas will never succeed. What is he planning, collecting countless hearts? We only need one each, don't we? If he was going to give them to us, he wouldn't need thousands."
"That is none of our business," Saix said.
"Yes, it is!" Marluxia exclaimed. "I know how badly you want a heart. The same as me. The same as all of us. I'd think you would take at least a moderate interest in our little recovery effort."
"I do," Saix said. "Which is why I pay attention to Xemnas. You should try it some time."
Marluxia's face twisted as if he were sick. "You disgust me."
"No, I don't."
"Damn you," Marluxia snarled, then his face slackened. This facade took up too much energy to maintain. "No, you don't," he said dully, tiredly.
They regarded each other neutrally, the animosity between them dissolving like mist in the sunlight. There was no reason for members of the Organization to pretend to hate each other if they didn't plan to get anything out of it.
"How long has it been since our last... experiment?" Saix asked, instinctively glancing around the dais for eavesdroppers.
Marluxia dropped his voice as well, even though they both knew no one would hear him. "I don't know. Three, four days?" He smiled humorlessly. "We started out doing this once a month. Don't tell me you enjoy it?"
"We can't. You know that," Saix said. "But it's still a feeling of sorts."
"Indeed." Marluxia opened a door into the darkness. They stepped through together. "And that's the only important part."
Marluxia would pretend to have emotions until his dying breath. It didn't matter whether or not there was anyone around to see him; he did it for himself. No one in the Organization but Saix had spoken to him about this yet, because to some degree the rest of them were the same, and to pretend to be annoyed over his behavior would be woefully hypocritical.
Saix wore no such mask of false emotions, and thus was free to chide Marluxia for his acting. But even he was acting in his own way. He pretended that lacking a heart didn't hurt.
The entire Organization was eternally empty, like they should have died long ago of starvation but hadn't. This craving for a heart, for emotions, always writhed in the back of their minds. No amount of acting could hide this hunger.
Saix and Marluxia were hungrier than anyone else in Organization XIII. Everyone forgot bits and pieces of their old lives when they became Nobodies, some more than others. These two had forgotten what it was like to feel at all. They desired hearts more than the other members did, and thus would go to any lengths to obtain them. Or to replace them.
That was why they had begun what they called their experiments. Despite their differing personalities, loyalties, and masquerades, they were united through desperation. They had found a way to eclipse their hunger completely, if only for a brief moment.
Now, however, they truly needed their experiments. They could put up with the sweat making their fingers sticky, the animal noises they couldn't hold in, the long hair they'd get stuck on their lips when one was pressed close to the other's back. They could endure the filth afterwards, the shadow of shame that crossed their minds when they were around each other, the way they slowly let all their ties to the rest of the Organization come undone. It was all worth that one gleaming moment, when all their thoughts and pains dissolved in a single ray of light. Nothing they wanted was given to them, but all their wants were taken away. That was all they could do, but that was enough.
They needed to be together more and more often, to keep their hunger for real hearts from overwhelming them.
It didn't take long for them to learn that, although Nobodies didn't form emotional attachments, they could still have dependencies of the body and mind. All Saix and Marluxia had done was replace their starvation with an addiction.
Saix had remodeled his room.
The Organization could do anything with their rooms they wanted. Marluxia was the only room other than Saix's own that he'd visited, however. Marluxia had divided his high-ceilinged room into three floors with low ceilings, and turned all three floors into gardens. Saix didn't know where Marluxia slept and wasn't particularly curious.
Now, an entire wall of Saix's room had been replaced by glass, showing Kingdom Hearts in its full glory. Saix was standing at the clear wall, watching the moon, so close his breath misted the glass, when he heard a soft footstep behind him. The Superior?
Saix turned around. "Marluxia. What do you want?"
Marluxia stared up at Kingdom Hearts, eyes wide. "What is that!"
"Even you can't be that stupid," Saix said.
"I meant your wall!" Marluxia said, striding towards it. "You took out the entire wall to stare at the moon?"
"You shouldn't talk. You have an entire floor dedicated to orchids."
"This is ridiculous." Marluxia snarled, crossing his arms. "I came to talk to you about Xemnas, but if you're already this brainwashed I'll never convince you to listen. Nevermind."
"Wait," Saix said, but Marluxia had already turned around and opened a door to darkness. Saix grabbed his shoulder. "Wait!"
Marluxia's back stiffened. Saix realized that they had never touched before when they weren't hiding together, doing an experiment. Here, anyone could enter without notice.
Saix dropped his hand and said, "I'm sorry," because it was the appropriate thing to say.
Marluxia nodded slightly. He let the door dissolve. "Will you actually listen to me this time?"
"Good." Marluxia turned around. "Do you know how Xehanort lost his heart?"
"What?" Xehanort? Saix dimly recalled that was Xemnas' Other. The Organization never spoke of their Others, but Saix did know that I through VI had known each other before they became Nobodies. "No. You do?"
"Exactly." Marluxia's eyes glimmered unpleasantly. "I found out from Vexen. The original members were all scientists, conducting experiments on the heart and Heartless."
"And they lost their hearts through a botched experiment?" Saix asked. "There's nothing unusual in that."
"They did it on purpose!" Marluxia shouted furiously. His words echoed through Saix's room.
Calming himself, Marluxia continued. "Their final experiment on Xehanort was supposed to take his heart from his body. Ienzo encouraged it, but Xehanort volunteered freely. Maybe the others became Nobodies by accident, but he wanted to lose his heart!"
"We all make mistakes," Saix said calmly. "But what does this have to do with—"
"Think about it," Marluxia ordered. "Out of all of us, Xemnas is the only one who almost never says that he wants to be whole again. While we're all thinking about getting our hearts back, all he thinks about is completing Kingdom Hearts. Does it sound to you like he's really going to help us?"
Saix was silent, so Marluxia continued. "Whenever he sends us on a mission we don't want to do, he persuades us by saying it's essential to regaining our hearts. He never explains beyond that, he just expects us to accept that whatever he orders us to do will somehow help ourselves. We're all greedy, and the Superior is no exception. He's using us to satisfy his own greed. He'll never get us our hearts back."
"And you will?" Saix retorted. "If you'd like to explain what your master plan is, go ahead."
Marluxia glared at Saix. "You don't get it. The point is we'll always be stuck like this if we keep following Xemnas. We have to start thinking for ourselves!"
"Quiet," Saix snapped. "If you were anyone else, I'd have reported you to the Superior long ago. Don't make me go anyway."
Marluxia gaped at Saix. Slowly, he closed his mouth. "I... I see. If that's how you fe—I mean, if that's what you think, then I won't bother you. Good bye."
Once again, Marluxia opened a door to darkness.
"Wait," Saix said, more softly. "It's been a few days. Do you want to...?"
"Not right now," Marluxia said. He chuckled dryly. "I'm just not in the mood."
When one formed an addiction, the sensible thing to do would be to break it. A drug, an aphrodisiac, was no replacement for the necessity of food. Marluxia began pushing Saix away, refusing to see him so often. The space between their meetings stretched from a few days to a week, to three weeks, to a month.
However, when they did meet, they wouldn't let go. Once their experiments were finished, they'd cling to each other and sometimes fall asleep in their dark corner. Neither one wanted to come down from their high.
Saix couldn't understand why this was. The only thing he and Marluxia could do was create that brilliant moment when everything disappeared. Reality always came crashing back a second later, and being close to Marluxia did nothing to change that. But he couldn't leave Marluxia's side so soon after they finished. Why?
Marluxia suffered from no such confusion. After all, he was more willing to accept that losing a heart didn't mean losing all passions. Why would the members of Organization XIII want their hearts so badly, if they couldn't feel the want? Still, he couldn't help but wonder what might have happened if his and Saix's Others had met. But that was a distraction, and wouldn't help him regain his heart. That was why he had to push Saix away, at least long enough to regain his – no, their – hearts.
Between the two of them, Marluxia could deal with the separation more easily. He had started it, and he understood the reasons behind both the separation and the addiction, but that didn't mean he liked it. Saix didn't know what was happening, or why it was suddenly so difficult for him to concentrate on anything but Marluxia. He didn't understand. He wouldn't say he was confused. But he did realize that if he had been able to feel, he would have been miserable.
The only thing that could ease his hunger now was the moon. It was a small comfort compared to the pure relief he got from Marluxia.
Saix was certain he was near delirium now. Or wasn't certain. It didn't matter, he mused, staring up at Kingdom Hearts. He could figure that out later.
He'd begun spending hours at a time staring up at the moon. Not in personal worship, the way Xemnas did, but in obsession. Desperation. He wasn't sure what to call it; none of the words described it the way he thought they should, without any emotion. The way a Nobody felt.
Kingdom Hearts did something to replace his heart. As long as he could see the moon, it clouded his mind and filled him with the ghost of emotion, and he could act without thinking. Now, he was practically leaning against his glass wall, eyes locked thoughtlessly on the moon, Kingdom Hearts filling his entire field of vision. It was the only thing he wanted to see.
A hand on his shoulder. "Saix? Are you all right?"
Saix turned dizzily. Perhaps a bit too wildly, he realized, as the person behind him took a step back. Marluxia took the place of Kingdom Hearts, filling his eyes. "Why are you... never mind. I don't care why you're here." He turned halfway, trying to see his glorious Kingdom Hearts again.
"What are you doing?" Marluxia asked, grabbing Saix's shoulder more forcefully to turn him around. Saix found himself facing Marluxia again. Perhaps this wasn't a bad way to be facing.
"Trying to remember," he said. "I can almost feel again. I don't know what it is, but Kingdom Hearts does something... It's almost an emotion, I know it. And you said you doubted Xemnas."
"I still do," Marluxia said sharply. "Any of us can feel 'almost an emotion.' You just don't let yourself most of the time. Whatever that valentine-shaped rock is doing to you is all in your head."
"No, this is different. I know it," Saix said, suddenly grinning crazily. He grabbed Marluxia's upper arms. "Listen! The Superior does know what he's doing, I can feel it! He can help us. If you'd accept that..."
"No, you listen!" Marluxia shoved Saix up against his glass wall. "He can't do anything, don't you get that yet? How long have we been trying to create this grand Kingdom Hearts of his? Listen to me. I have a plan, and it's a hell of a lot more likely to work than Xemnas'! All it will take is the Keyblade Master, Sora. I know you've heard about the strange things that happen around his Nobody. Even Axel says that Roxas gives him weird sensations. A real emotion! If we can control Sora, that's all it will take. Trust me. If you come with me, we can get our hearts back for good!"
"Trust you?" Saix said, curling his nose. "Trust the Nobody who's threatening to undo everything the Superior's done! What kind of a fool do you take me for?"
"No! I'm just altering his plans. He's going to send me to Castle Oblivion, along with several other members, to try to capture Sora. I'm just tweaking the details; Sora will answer to me, not the superior. And he will be used to restore our hearts directly, not to help build Kingdom Hearts. Please, Saix, I want you to come along. I don't trust any of the other members. You know that."
"You're insane," Saix snarled. He tried to push Marluxia back. Marluxia had planted a hand on the glass on each side of Saix, holding him in. His head was light, dizzy; he was still semi-delirious from staring at the moon for so long. "I should report you to the Superior this instant, before you can do something to damage the rest of the Organiza—"
"SHUT UP!" Marluxia smashed his right fist into the glass, breaking the glass into a web-like pattern of cracks. "You don't know what you're talking about! Can't you hear yourself? Saix, listen to reason!"
Saix's mind snapped back into focus. He could see Marluxia sharply in front of him, breathing heavily, teeth bared. His eyes were staring, searching, into Saix's, filled with anxiety. True anxiety, not just an echo. Marluxia was scared for Saix.
"Marluxia," Saix said softly, "I am sorry. That wasn't me. I don't know what I was thinking..."
Did Marluxia sigh? "I know," he said, the corner of his mouth turning upward slightly. "You're usually better at controlling yourself than the rest of us combined."
The smile left Marluxia's face. "My offer stands," he said. "I still want you at Castle Oblivion with me."
Saix looked into Marluxia's eyes. He seemed sincere, but of course he wasn't. He was just good, too good, at faking sincerity, but his eyes gave him away. Saix remembered Marluxia's fear from just a moment before, and wondered how Marluxia would look with true emotions radiating from his eyes. He wondered how he would look when he was happy.
If he had been whole, he would be beautiful.
"No," Saix said. "The Superior knows what he's doing, I'm sure of it. Staying here will help me more than starting all over. I'm sorry."
"I thought so," Marluxia sighed. His eyes dropped, and when they weren't giving him away he was the perfect picture of dejection. So beautiful. "That's fine. I expected you to say that. I'll see you when I return with Sora. Good-bye."
"Good-bye." Saix lifted one gloved hand, without knowing why, to touch Marluxia's face. If they had been whole...
Marluxia's lips pressed against Saix's. He grabbed Saix's shoulders, pulling him closer, parting his lips to deepen the kiss, and Saix wrapped his arms around Marluxia. This was no experiment, not anymore. This wasn't an addiction pulling them together. They couldn't feel anything in an emotional sense, but something remained of their Others to tell them that this was right, that this should have happened in their past lives, and in their next lives it would happen again. They would be just like this, close enough to feel each other's heartbeats.
"A promise," Marluxia finally murmured. "Whichever of us finds a way to restore our hearts first, we tell each other before anyone else."
"Of course," Saix said softly. "It's a promise."
Marluxia reluctantly stepped away from Saix. "I'll be back with Sora and a heart."
"I'll be waiting."
Marluxia's last thought was that he would never see Saix smile.
Saix tried to carry on with his and Marluxia's experiments by himself after Axel had returned to report the fate of Castle Oblivion; no Organization member that entered had survived except Axel himself. The Castle had lived up to its name.
Nothing was the same when Saix was alone. He could go through all the motions, do things exactly the same way: the skin, the sweat, the noises, the filth, the shadow of shame when he passed a mirror. Saix couldn't look himself in the eye anymore. Not only was he never able to reach that moment of nothingness, he was defiling Marluxia's memory. Nothing could replace him.
Not even Kingdom Hearts. It partially filled in the empty place, but it was a tease, sweet candy instead of real food. He and Marluxia had promised each other something real. Now, Xemnas and Kingdom Hearts were all that Saix had left to hold on to.
When Axel betrayed the Organization to pursue Roxas, it was revealed that he was the cause, directly or indirectly, of every death at Castle Oblivion.
Saix couldn't help but wonder if, had he gone in Axel's place, Marluxia would have survived.
Saix had been staring at Kingdom Hearts so long, so hard, that he was barely able to think at all.
The Keyblade Master, keystone to Marluxia's plan, had made it into the World That Never Was. Saix's Berserkers had told him that Axel and Xigbar were already dead. Saix was now waiting for Sora to come challenge him.
Kingdom Hearts was finally, finally complete. Where was Saix's heart? He had to trust Xemnas; he had to believe that if Sora had come just a day later, Xemnas would have been able to give everyone their hearts back. The promise of a heart was the only thing Nobodies lived for.
The promise. Saix's head spun dizzily under the influence of the moon. He and Marluxia had made a promise. They would meet again. They'd promised.
Saix may have been dizzy, but his senses were sharper, his body ready to fight. Kingdom Hearts was filling him with fury. Maybe it could think for itself by now, and it was using Saix to defend itself. Saix didn't care. He could hear someone enter his room and summoned his claymore, ready to kill.
"Kingdom Hearts, lend me some of yourself," Saix hissed, waiting for the approaching footsteps to come into view.
He had promised Marluxia to tell him how to restore his heart.
Marluxia had believed in the afterlife. In a sense, that was what being a Nobody was. He couldn't believe there was nothing after that. When he died, he had held onto this belief with the last of his essence, not allowing himself to consider that he would cease to exist forever. In Marluxia's picture of the afterlife, he had a heart he would never lose.
Saix didn't believe in the afterlife. He had seen no signs that there was anything after death. If the universe had been merciful enough to contain a hereafter, he would have been spared the fate of becoming a Nobody and simply gone on to the end. When he died, he expected to find a void.
He welcomed this fate eagerly. Kingdom Hearts had betrayed him. He never would have received his heart. Now, all he wanted was a gleaming moment, a ray of light to take away everything. All his pain would be erased, his desires swept away. This time, they would never come back.
And he would join Marluxia in everlasting oblivion.