"Wake up."

Something shattered the nothingness that surrounded the Gambler of Fate. Awareness came back to him, and he opened his eyes to see…nothing. Trapped in a limbo of darkness, no ground below him, no sky above.

"Number X, will you return to life?"

Luxord narrowed his eyes. He didn't recognize that voice, didn't trust it.

"Who are you?" he called out, his voice seeming to die an inch from his lips. The voice chuckled.

"Will you return to life? Will you accept the return of your heart?"

No payoff without showing your cards, Luxord thought. "What's the catch?"

"That is not knowledge you require."

"Bullshit. Stop with the fancy talk and tell me what you want. And how you found me."

The voice fell silent for a few moments. Then the slightly feminine tones returned with, "I suppose we'll have to do this the hard way, then."

Luxord felt a tightening in his chest, and he suddenly couldn't breathe. He gasped and jerked, and then felt a distinct thud. Two close together, pause. Another quick set of two.

A heartbeat.

Then, nothingness seemed to collapse in on him.


Luxord came to slowly, and shifted. The first thing he realized was that he could feel. He could physically feel a bed beneath him, with smooth, silky sheets, and the warm air around his body. Little things he wouldn't have noticed before, unless he had known what nothing felt like.

"Welcome back," a voice said, and this one was familiar. Luxord slowly opened his eyes, blinking in the dim light.

"Zexion?"

The figure sitting by the door nodded. Luxord felt a rush of something- emotion? It was hard to tell. All that he knew was that he felt immensely better, knowing that his old friend was here too. He sat up, feeling lightheaded.

"What happened?"

Zexion slowly stood, setting aside the book he'd been reading. "I don't know much, to tell the truth. Only what's here. I was pulled from the in-between, just like you."

Luxord looked up at the younger-looking Nobody. He hadn't changed a bit. The only thing that was different about the both of them was that they were both missing the Organization robes. "What do you mean, what's here?"

Zexion gestured to the door. "They're all here. Everyone. You were the last to arrive."

"The entire Organization? Even Xemnas?"

"Even Xemnas. Or what's left of him, so to speak."

"And we all have…"

"Hearts, yes."

Luxord swung his feet off the bed. This wasn't what he expected after that final blow, when he was fading, not at all. "Show me, Zexion."

Zexion nodded, reaching out a hand to help Luxord to his feet. Luxord accepted the help and stood, wavering slightly before regaining his balance. It had been a while since he walked.

"This way," Zexion said softly, opening the door to a dimly lit hallway. The walls were made of a light colored stone, and plush carpet ran the length of the hallway, end-to-end. It was like a castle of sorts.

"Any idea where we are?" he asked, and Zexion shook his head.

"None. There are no doors to the outside, and portals don't work in these walls."

"How long have you been here?"

Zexion shrugged. "Two weeks? A month? It's hard to tell. No windows to the outside."

Luxord sighed. This reminded him of a slightly more plush Castle That Never Was." "At least tell me they have a casino," he joked, earning a smirk from Zexion as they turned the corner into a new hallway.

"Oh, I almost forgot," Zexion said, stopping at the junction of the hallways and pulling a small scroll out of his pocket. "The daily schedule."

Luxord frowned, taking the scroll and unrolling it. "The daily schedule?" he repeated, looking at it skeptically. Breakfast, 6am…training 6:30am till noon, lunch at noon… "What the bloody hell is this?"

Zexion stared down the hallway, away from Luxord. "You have to adhere to the schedule or you'll be punished."

Luxord laughed. "Xemnas sure has let his god complex grow, hasn't he then?"

"It's not Luxord's doing. It's the voice you heard, the one that drew you here and gave you your heart."

Luxord growled, rolling the schedule back up. "I won't be catering to the whim and will of a disembodied voice. I didn't listen to Xemnas half the time, and he was standing right there, pontificating to the whole lot of us."

Zexion laughed softly. "Luxord…come with me," he said, taking a left turn down the hallway. Luxord tucked the scroll away, following Zexion down to a door. Through a small window in the door he could see raging flames, and he could feel the heat of the flames even through the thick door.

"Let me guess…Axel," he said with a smirk.

"Demyx."

The smirk disappeared. "What?"

Zexion sighed, leaning against the wall. "He wouldn't adhere to the schedule. He's been in there for probably a week now. Stopped screaming three days ago."

Luxord felt another rush of emotion. This one had him reaching for the door handle, ready to douse that damn fire himself to get the poor kid out of there. Demyx didn't deserve this. But Zexion's hand locked on his wrist, stopping him before he touched the door.

"Don't do it, Luxord. You'll end up like him."

"But-"

"The voice wouldn't kill him. She's brought us here to use us. You'll only get yourself into trouble and not help him a damn bit."

Luxord clenched his fists, staring at the door. "He doesn't deserve this."

"He doesn't. But there's nothing we can do. Come on, I'll take you to the others."

Zexion started walking again. Luxord stared at the door a few moments longer before moving away, feeling as if his newly created heart was now in his feet.

They came to another room not far down the hallway, and from this room came the sound of rushing water. Luxord didn't say a word, only waited for Zexion to say something. Zexion hesitated at the door, then looked up at Luxord.

"Axel. He threw a fit when the voice locked Demyx away, and he's been punished accordingly as well."

"That one I'm not too upset about," Luxord said, crossing his arms. Through the window he could only see falling water. He still felt sorry for the guy, but after all Axel pulled against the Organization, he can't say he doesn't deserve it.

Zexion was about to speak when a clock chimed through the castle. He checked his watch, and his eyes widened. "I have to go. I'll be late for training," he said, starting down the hallway at a faster speed. He called out, "You're exempt from the schedule until 6am tomorrow morning. Don't get into any trouble!"

Luxord snorted, thoughtfully tapping his chin. Trouble? Him? Never.

All he was going to do was look for something to pry open that overheated door to the fire room.