Title: There's Nothing Behind These Dancing Eyes
Author: Britani Gael
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts II
Rating: PG
Summary: One shot. Before he was the ninth member of the Organization, he was just a little punk from Twilight Town.

----

Medy outgrew Twilight Town almost the moment he turned seventeen. It wasn't a gradual thing – there was a day he was perfectly happy with his life. It wasn't like he had it hard. He spent his time cutting class and squirming out of homework, he used those extra hours and minutes skating down alleyways and screwing around on his guitar and talking his brother out of tomorrow's lunch money. His teachers thought he was a delinquent and his parents didn't really have time for him anymore, but at least he was never bored.

And then he woke up the next day and nothing was the same at all.

He felt like he was suffocating. The city was too cramped, he tried to tell himself. The buildings were too small, too close together. Except that wasn't it. He could hitch a ride to hang out on the beach, he could sneak into the woods by the creepy mansion. And even there he could feel the sky closing in on him.

So he didn't do either of those things. Not anymore. Not until yesterday, when the sneaking and the slacking just felt so pointless he couldn't do it for another minute. So he'd come out here to the beach, even if the sky was trying to choke him. He just needed to think.

And that's when he figured out his life was stupid.

"Hey, Medy! Medy."

The voice wasn't shouting, but it was thick with irritation and Medy knew without a doubt that it was his younger brother. That's why he didn't bother turning around. Or answering.

The shuffling footsteps came to a stop directly behind him. "You're in trouble, you know."

Medy took his eyes off the ocean long enough to roll them. "That's news?" Except it was news, to him, so he couldn't help but ask, "How come?"

"Maybe because you didn't come home for a day and a half?"

"Oh."

No answer, so Medy sighed and looked up.

Hayner was doing his best to look stern, which wasn't working. Hayner didn't do stern, any more than he did serious. He seemed to know it, too, because he gave up on it after a few seconds and dropped down to the sand. "Mom thinks you have a girlfriend. I said no way."

"Gee, thanks."

"Dad thinks a girl dumped you, and that's why you're always so depressed now."

Medy gave Hayner a sidelong glance. "And you said?"

"Maybe." He said it with a smirk, so he probably wasn't surprised when he was eating sand a moment later. "Hey," he whined, pushing himself back up and spitting. "You pushed me!"

"Yeah. Maybe."

Hayner narrowed his eyes, probably considering tackling Medy and knocking them both into the surf, but then he relaxed. "How long've you been out here, anyway?"

Medy shrugged.

"It's not any different, you know." He pointed out at the ocean. "It's the same everyday."

That wasn't true. Medy had been out here for hours already, he'd watched the sky change from blue to orange to black and the water change to match. But even if the details changed, Hayner was right. It was the same ocean and it was never, ever going to change.

"Yeah, I know," he said, and shrugged again. "How'd you know I was here, anyway?"

"Didn't. Mom said I had to find you, so..." He sat back comfortably in the sand. "Pence and Olette and me looked just about everywhere. We even went by that weird house before I thought to come here. I didn't think you liked it much here."

"I don't."

Hayner rolled his eyes. "Whatever. You're being weird."

Medy was sick of talking about this. More than sick. So, "What happened to your face?"

"This?" Hayner reached up and gingerly touched his right eye, which was swollen and slightly off color. "Seifer says no one's allowed near the mansion, so he hit me with one of his stupid sticks."

"Seifer says." Seifer was a local kid who thought he could make up any rule he wanted and then carry it out however he felt. Medy had wanted to smack him more than once, but he didn't, because he wasn't a bully. No matter how annoying Seifer could be, he was still only, what, fourteen?

"Actually, he hit me first." Hayner scowled. "And then he said it."

"That wasn't cool."

"When Seifer yells first, I usually duck. But, y'know? That house is really weird."

Medy had stopped caring about the mystery house when he was about nine, and it was apparent that the house was only so mysterious because no one lived there. He was also still annoyed about his brother getting beaten up. "Really," he said, without much interest.

"Yeah. Nobody ever goes in or out, but I know someone's in there."

"Really?" he repeated. "How?"

"Because I saw the lights turn on, that's how. Olette's seen them, too."

"Yeah, and maybe you're both seeing things."

"I don't care if you don't believe me," Hayner snapped, in a tone that clearly said he did. He stood up, and brushed himself off. "I have to go. Are you coming?"

Medy thought about it. "No."

"Mom'll be—"

"I'll be home later. Okay?" he asked. He didn't really mean it like a question.

Hayner scowled and looked down at the ground. "Whatever," he muttered, kicking up a small cloud of sand up as he said it. He stuck his hands and his pockets and started heading back home.

Medy looked at the ocean.

He couldn't figure out a problem unless he knew what it was – and right now, he didn't. All he knew was he wanted out. And he didn't even know what that meant.

He glanced over his shoulder to see if Hayner was really gone. He was. Sighing heavily, Medy covered his face with his hands. And then he looked back at the water.

He definitely wanted out.

He thought about what Hayner had said, about the lights on at the mansion. It was probably wrong, Hayner probably had been just imagining things, if he wasn't outright lying. No one had lived there in near forever, and it wasn't like anyone ever moved into Twilight Town. Or left.

But if someone was living there now, really, maybe they came from somewhere else?

It only took fifteen minutes for him to get back to town, five more to find himself standing in front of the gate of the massive house with every light turned off. Just like it always had been. Hayner was an idiot.

No. He was the idiot.

Medy cupped his hands over his mouth. "Hello?" he shouted. He didn't get an answer, just like he figured. "Hello?"

Stupid, stupid.

He turned to leave, but before he even took a step his eyes fell on a rock, the size of his fist and right in the middle of the path. He bent down and picked it up, and felt the weight of it in his palm. It was heavy.

He stood up slowly. Then he turned around the chucked it.

He wasn't the most athletically gifted, but his aim was alright. More than alright, because the rock sailed clear over the gate the over the yard – before crashing through a window on the top story.

His first thought was to run. But, hey. No one lived there, right?

No one came running, no one shouted. No lights came on. That was as good of proof as any that the house was empty. He'd have something to brag about to Hayner when he got home, definitely. He turned away again.

The gate creaked open behind him.

He jumped at the noise and turned to look, but it was already open before he could see it move. "Hello? HELLO?" He cast a furtive glance behind him. If anyone heard or saw him like they, they'd think he was nuts. Or breaking in.

But even if he hadn't gotten an answer, that gate was basically an invitation, right?

"Anyone there?" He kept talking as he walked up the path. It made him feel better, anyway. "I'm sorry about the window, I only... Hello?"

The yard was neat, except for all the stuff. There was a soccer ball on the lawn Pence had lost here ages ago. The kite was Olette's. Medy was surprised Hayner hadn't gone over the fence for both of them, but his brother was right. This place was weird. Probably better that he didn't.

He wasn't even sure why he was here.

The door was fancy, wide, intimidating. Medy hesitated at the bottom of the steps for a moment, staring. What, was he supposed to knock?

He took the steps two at a time and went straight for the doorknob. It turned in his hand and the door swung in, he stepped in and shut the door behind himself before he could really think about what he was doing. It'd been getting dark outside but it was worse in here. He closed his eyes and it hardly made a difference; he leaned against the door, breathing hard.

Sometimes Medy felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Sometimes he felt a tickling in the back of his brain. He was feeling almost the same thing now, but something was different. It wasn't coming from himself. He was feeling something inside the house, maybe it was the house. It was crazy but he was sure he was right.

He opened his eyes.

He could see a bit better in the dark, now. This was the foyer, and there were doors all around, and stairs, too. The mansion was even bigger on the inside that it looked from outside. He wondered what the trick was. He wondered where to start.

Maybe he should clean up the broken glass?

He walked toward the center of the room. It was creepy. This place was totally creepy. He glanced behind him – and then he nearly passed out. There was something standing only a few feet behind him.

It was a man. Maybe. What he knew for sure was that it was wearing a black shroud – cloak? – that went from the top of its head straight down to the ground. It walked like a man and when it was nearly close enough to touch him it talked like one too. "Ah, poor boy. Are you scared?"

Was he scared?

Hell yes. He wanted nothing more than to take a step back, but he knew that if he tried his legs would shake like a little girl's and he'd fall right on his ass. So he stood his ground as if he was actually brave and stared at the cloak's complete lack of face. "No."

The voice laughed. "Huh. Of course you aren't."

He wasn't taking any more steps, so Medy decided now was as good a time as any to interject. "What is this place? What are you—"

The cloaked man sighed. "Yeah. Gee, I'd love to just tell you everything, but – Hey, look at that!"

Oldest trick in the book, right? But Medy's head jerked anyway and then he spun full around. A cloud of—black... nothing was growing behind him. He stared for a second and then he backpedaled as fast as he could, forgetting all about the man in black. Until he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"That," the voice said in his ear, "scares the crap out of you. Doesn't it?"

Yes. "No."

"I'd tell you not to make me laugh, but—" He chuckled. "—too late for that. Anyway. Listen, kid."

Medy was listening, even as the threads of darkness started worming their way out of the hole.

"See, we've been in this place for, I don't know. A while. We've been here and not once has anyone come knocking on our door."

He pushed Medy forward. Just a step or two.

"And you know why? Of course you do. It's 'cause they're scared of this. They're scared of us."

He pushed again, and this time Medy thought to plant his feet. It didn't work, he just slid a few feet and then he could feel and hear the dark energy just as well as he could see it.

"And also," the man continued. "I don't think anyone else was quite as stupid as you."

And then he shoved Medy into the dark.

"Bye-bye, now."

----

Hayner wasn't surprised when his brother dragged his butt home late that night. He was surprised that Medy snuck into his own house, and didn't talk to anyone, and slept for the next sixteen hours straight. Missing the next day of school, even.

Weirdo.

----

Things had been strange.

Medy hadn't been at school since—since it had happened. He didn't know what had happened. After the black had cleared he found himself standing outside the mansion, outside the gate. He was breathing hard but at least he'd been able to see again. He'd run the whole way home.

And now things were strange.

He hadn't gone to school, because now he knew, he knew school was pointless. He was never going to need it. He didn't know what he was going to need, but not school.

He wandered around Twilight Town in a haze, wandering from place to place and not staying anywhere, and he felt like he was seeing the people here for the first time. Their lives were so pointless, their world so small. He moved between them like a ghost, they didn't notice him, and he'd always been that way.

He didn't know what the darkness had done to him. He didn't know if he liked it.

He could hear the sounds of a fight.

Medy didn't even put it together until he turned the corner, he was nearly on top of it, the kids were right in front of him. Seifer and his gang, same as always, three on one. "Mind your own business," one of the snapped at him. He didn't notice who.

He blinked, and he almost did go away, mind his own business. Same as always.

Except this time it was Hayner they were beating on.

Things had been strange. Things had been… fuzzy. And then he saw his brother's face.

It was like someone flipped a switch.

His hand shot out and caught Seifer by the collar, he dragged the punk away from Hayner, who jumped back with a startled yell. Medy pulled a fist back and all out punched Seifer in the face, hard enough to snap his head back and send him to his knees.

He knew he was a bad person when he saw the blood come pouring out, pattering on the sidewalk like rain. Seifer was so shocked he started bawling on the spot. Rai and Fuu both jumped in front of him, shouting angry words Medy couldn't make out and trying to block him from view. They did a lousy job. Medy could still see him choking on sobs and wiping at his eyes furiously, as the blood coursed down his face.

Hayner stood back, eyes wide. Staring. He looked like he thought Medy had completely lost his mind.

Shit. He had.

He bolted.

He knew where he was headed without much thinking about where he was going. So he almost took a turn he shouldn't and had to stop and think. Maybe Hayner shouted something – no, probably Seifer. He couldn't hear it, anyway. He hunted for the entrance to the woods.

"Medy, wait!"

Despite the five years between them, Hayner was easily the faster runner. He liked to rub it in, repeatedly, what terribly shape Medy was in. Whatever. Medy was surprised Hayner would want to speak to him at all for the rest of his life, much less now. Much less chasing him down for the privilege.

"Medy!"

He kept running until he knew he couldn't get any further, he could hear Hayner coming up almost directly behind him. He turned then, probably too soon, because Hayner ran straight into him and they both tumbled to the ground.

Medy groaned, and tried to get up. Hayner shoved him back to the ground.

"What's wrong with you?" Hayner shouted.

Medy sat up and shoved Hayner right back, nearly knocking him into a tree he pushed so hard. "Get off me, will you?"

He stood up and brushed himself off, and his hands were shaking. Whatever.

"What's wrong with you?" Hayner repeated, pushing himself back up to his feet.

"Nothing is wrong with me," Medy snapped. "Dumbass."

"You're lying!"

Medy hit him.

Not like he'd hit Seifer. He'd probably never hit anyone like that ever again, because he didn't like blood or hurting people either. He just wanted to goof off and get left alone, what was wrong with that? So he smacked Hayner across the face and immediately wished he hadn't.

Hayner touched his face where he'd been hit, and gaped at him.

Medy didn't know, either.

"Stay away from me," Medy said. "And stay away from the house."

"I don't underst—"

"Don't go near that house! Ever. Understand?"

Hayner was looking up at him with wide eyes, like he could just tell his brother was gone and wasn't ever going to come back. "Medy," he said. "Let's just go home now."

"Not now."

"Why?"

"I'll be home later," Medy lied. "Okay?"

Hayner nodded, and he didn't believe him either. Medy could tell by the look in his eyes, blank and depressed and just slightly unforgiving. Hayner took a step back, and then he turned and ran.

Medy watched him bolt, and then he ran, too. He went the other way.

In no time, he was right in front of the house. The gate had been open – they weren't waiting for him, were they? – but the front door wasn't, and he started pounding on it with his fists.

"I don't know what you did to me," he yelled. "But I don't like it!"

The door swung in.

He looked both ways real quickly, and then he stepped inside.

The house was still darker, maybe a bit darker than it'd been yesterday. He almost ran into the wall once, before he remembered where he was going. He retraced his path from the previous day, he found his way back into that room.

First thing he did was march straight to the center, he knocked over a chair with his foot. Why was there furniture here? There wasn't anyone here. And there really wasn't anyone here, he looked around for that same man, but the room was empty. Except for the furniture, and he kicked the chair again.

"What did you do to me?" he shouted.

"What are you doing here, little mouse?"

Medy jerked around, peering into the dark, trying to focus. In the shadows above him he could make out a figure dressed all in black. The same guy from before? Probably.

Medy took a deep breath. "I'm not afraid of it," he shouted up at the figure.

There was a moment of silence. "Oh, I understand. You're the little boy who tried to play in the dark."

"I'm not afraid of it," Medy repeated. He wasn't lying.

"I see," the man said. It wasn't the same one he'd met before – this man had a smooth, quiet voice that made Medy want to shiver. He extended his hand, and then he closed his fingers into a fist.

The threads of darkness started at the ground this time, they wrapped around his feet and crawled up his legs. He wanted to squirm, and he fought the urge to cut and run. It was a reflex that took only a few seconds to die.

"Well, that's curious," the figure said. He lowered his hand but the black kept coming.

Medy felt a peculiar numbness in his legs, now completely swallowed. It wasn't going to be okay, he knew. This was not okay. But, as the darkness closed over his ears, his mouth, his face and his eyes, he thought he could maybe be okay with it.

"I—" Medy started. But he couldn't speak. He couldn't see. He couldn't—think...

"Very curious. You truly aren't afraid of the darkness."

His voice sounded very far away.

"Then drown in it."

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