A/N: Wow. It's … Been forever since I last updated this thing. Sorry 'bout that, I sort of … Got caught up in random things going on and stopped writing this (that isn't to say I'm done with it, gods no! I'm updating, aren't I?) Anyway, thank you all for your reviews and your patience! And, again, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to update.

We'll call this a Halloween present, kay?

Warning: The word "fag" will be used in this chapter. I'm sorry. I hate to do it, trust me, I cringe every time I type it. But, Demyx's mother is, unfortunately, the type of woman to use it, and to use it frequently. I'm sorry if it offends anyone, but, if it does, keep in mind that it offends me too, but, I'm trying to be true to the character …

Disclaimer: I don't own KH or any of the characters therein. I do, however, own Zexion's Grandfather and Demyx's mother (in this story, at least). Just, don't sue me, kay guys? (I only have something like $1.40 (less than that now…) to my name, anyway …)

Started on: 9/13/07

Finished on: 10/31/07

Pandora's Box

Chapter Ten: Fleeing the Scene

I stood, staring at my mother, my mouth opening and closing the way a fish's does. Too many emotions attacked my equilibrium, wore away from of my sanity and control. Fear and anger battled each other, both wanting to steer my actions. Anger, the more violent of the two, won; and in an instant my hands had balled into tight fists and furious tears had risen in my eyes.

What she had called Zexion was, so far as I was concerned, unforgivable and unwarranted. She didn't know him. She'd barely even met him. And when she did, she'd liked him. But at that moment, she hated him because she thought he'd corrupted me in some way. She hated him, and I hated her for it.

She must have seen as much in my normally passive eyes because she stepped back and away from me. I knew the momentary hesitation would be just that, brief, but I had every intention of using it to my fullest advantage.

"Why does it matter?" My voice was quiet, infinitely weaker than I wanted it to be.

"It's wrong, Demyx." Her voice trembled, but I had a feeling that it wasn't out of fear.

"Says who? Some invisible guy you have no proof of?"

The sound her hand made on my face echoed in the apartment and in the silence. We stood, a few feet apart still, and stared at each other. She was shocked, her eyes wide, but, I didn't know whether she was surprised that she'd struck me or because I'd said something so openly blasphemous.

After what seemed like an eternity she turned away from me. Her shoulders hitched. "Go to your room Demyx."

I hadn't the heart to disobey her, so I turned and ran to my room. The door slammed behind me, and then I sank down it, to the floor, finally dissolving into tears.

My heart was doing something I didn't understand, at the time. It beat quickly, then slowly, pounded throughout my entire being, and faded away to near nothingness. Pain became my silent companion, coursing its way through my body, adding strength to my tears.

Everything I'd made since meeting Zexion was ruined. My mother would likely go to hell and back to keep us apart, and I was agonizingly aware of the fact. I'd fallen in love with him, with the happiness he brought me, with the smile he lit upon my face.

But it was over. Done. Finished. All save the pain I felt certain would never pass.

Pain though, along with other things, has a funny way of clearing itself out after a while. It seems that, when things seem never ending, the finish line looms just to spite you. And, though the pain didn't leave completely, I was able to move after sobbing against the door for a few moments.

I started pacing the room, completely unsure of what to do. Part of me wanted to pack my guitar, some clothes, and just run away. Go to Zexion, get him, and rush to the sunset with his hand in mine. But I knew that wouldn't work, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to break down and cry again; because it was such a lovely possibility, though thoroughly impossible.

My mother couldn't have known how much she was hurting me. I just can't believe that any loving parent would put their child through that sort of emotional torture. Then again, thousands of "loving" parents have exiled their homosexual children. Because they were …

I ran to the door, wrenched it open, and rushed into the living room. My mother sat on the sofa, clutching a bottle of beer in one hand and staring, with red-veined eyes, at the blank television screen. She didn't look up at me, didn't acknowledge that I was there.

"Mom … I'm not gay." It sounded so pathetic, and it tasted a lie (though at the time I was still warring with myself in regards to my sexuality).

She glanced up at me, and I could see the hope and disbelief beneath the shimmering surface of her eyes. "They saw you with him, Demyx."

I sighed and nodded. "I … Zexion and I are dating ..." her face contorted into something, either rage or pain or embarrassment. "But … That doesn't make me gay."

"What exactly does that make you then? Huh? Half fag?"

I recoiled from the word; I hated the way it sounded, even then, when it had only been turned on me once. When I spoke to her it was quiet, scarcely audible. "Please don't use that word … It--"

"Offends you? Does it, Demyx? Well, you know what offends me? My son, running around with some god damned faggot."

"How can you pretend like you believe in god and all that righteous crap one minute, and then say 'god damned' the next? How can you do that, mom?"

She looked down, straight at the beer bottle she was holding. And, dammit, part of my soul broke then, stripped away. I never got that part of me back, the part that cared about my mother and wanted to make her happy. It left then, and I bid it a silent good riddance.

"Didn't I tell you to go to your room?"

I nodded, but didn't move. Something strange was coursing through me, a new sort of conviction that demanded I stay and argue for myself, for my right to love. Only, it probably wasn't anything as complicated as that, I was still young, it was more likely me being stubborn, and rebellious, but I like to think it was a conviction for what I believed in.

"I'm not going to break up with him."

She stared up at me, mouth slightly open. "You're fourteen years old and you'll do as I tell you."

I shook my head, still unmoving. "No. Not … Not on this …"

The next few minutes passed in a blur of motion. I saw her come across the room for me, she dropped her beer and it spilled everywhere. But then there was pain, her fingers wrapped in my hair and dragging me to my room. The door slammed shut and I tripped when she shoved me.

"You need a change of scenery, Demyx," she said, through the door. "That's what wrong. You just need to be somewhere new for a while. Maybe … Maybe we'll come back later."

I tried to go to the door, but my ankle hurt. I'd managed to twist it when I tripped and I was too much of a baby to ignore the pain long enough to go to the door and pry it open. But, she was confusing me, the things she was saying. I didn't know what they meant, not until she clarified.

"Yes, that's what I'll do. I'll just have to move us." She paused for a moment and I could hear her breathing heavily against the door. "We're going back to France, Demyx."

At first, I don't think what she said registered, because I didn't react for a long moment. I just sat there on the floor, absently massaging my ankle and replaying what she'd said over and over again in my mind. Change of scenery. Moving. France.


It hit me, suddenly, what she was intended to do. Leaving France had always been, she said, the biggest mistake of her life (which meant, didn't it, that the marriage to my father and my birth were mistakes too?). She'd always wanted to go back some day, maybe the news of a possibly gay some was just what she needed to pack up and return.

My ankle was starting to swell, and the more I touched it the more painful it was. That constituted as abuse, I was sure, and, I knew that if I went to someone about it, I could potentially get taken away. My mother was a drunk, but, she very rarely got violent. Only when, as had happened that night, her emotions were pushed too far. Still, I knew there was no way I could go to anyone about it, because, though she had certainly betrayed me, I didn't feel that I could return the favor.

I could, however, lock my door and fight my way out of my window and onto the fire escape. Doing so, however, required the use of both my legs, and the pressure I had to put on my ankle drew tears to my eyes. See, I've never been very good at ignoring or dealing with pain, and my ankle combined to what I was about to tell Zexion had me in silent tears well before I actually got to Zexion's window (which is saying something, because he was only one floor down).

He wasn't in his room, so I knocked on the window. It must have sounded desperate, because when he came into his room his hair was mildly disheveled and he looked, for once, surprised. A smile grew on his face, for an instant, and then he saw me, saw the tears, and all happiness faded from his face.

When he opened the window and offered me his hand, I crumbled. I fell through the window and into his arms, sobbing and wishing everything could go back to the way it had been only hours ago.

He didn't say anything for a long while, just held me and ran his fingers through my hair. That hurt, the gentle motion meant to soothe me, because my mom had left my scalp sore. But I didn't say anything, I liked the feeling, even with the pain, because there was love radiating from the touch, and I wanted to hold onto that for as long as I can.

Finally, however, the silence was broken, as I knew it would be. "Demyx, what happened?" He spoke softly, far gentler than I thought he was capable of, but I was glad for it, though it opened up another well of tears.

"My mom knows Zexion. Someone saw us when we were at Sora's, or at the hospital, or something, I don't know. But, she … She knows. And she's pissed. And, she said we're going to move back to France because she doesn't want me to be around you anymore. She blames you, and I told her not to but she does anyway. And … And …" I broke off into sobs and heavy breathing.

He stared at me for a moment; probably trying to decipher what I'd said (it had all been in one breath and interjected with an uncontrolled sob every few words). "She's moving you to France, because you're dating me?"

I nodded, unable to speak.

"And, she's the reason you're in this state?" His eyes traveled down me, rested on my swollen ankle. "Did she do that too?" The anger that rose in his voice made me shudder, it was terrifying, it all was.

"Y-yes …"

I could see fury working behind his cold eyes, and, for a moment, I was afraid he might release me and go up to my apartment to my mother. It wasn't out of the question, it was certainly in character for him, but the prospect of him confronting my mother about anything made me tremble and made more tears threaten to spill …

He didn't do anything, however, just held me closer, his fingers still working through my hair. "Go to the Child Protection Service. She's abusing you, Demyx."

I shook my head. "I … I can't do that to her. She's … Zexion, she's my mom."

He picked me up and sat me on his bed. Gods, he was so strong, and he was so small too. "I understand that, believe me, I do. But, you can't let her do these things to you."

"You think I want to?" I had to fight to keep my voice down, the ceiling was as thin as the walls and I didn't want my mother to hear me. "You think Iwant to go to France? You think I want to leave you? I … I don't, Zexion. But, what choice do I have?"

"How long will she keep you there?"

I shook my head because the truth was, I didn't know. She could have been lying to me, saying it to scare me away from him. I didn't think so, however; I believed her. There had been something in her eyes, some shining bit of truth that made me think she was serious.

That's why I went to Zexion. Because he had to know how sorry I was, how much I wished things could turn out differently. But, when I got to him, I could only stand there and stare at the floor.

It was Zexion who spoke first. "I can't accept that you're leaving for good." She stood with his arms crossed over his chest in quiet determination. And I knew it wasn't going to be easy to leave him, or, that it was going to be harder to leave him than I thought. He was going to make it harder than I wanted it to be …

"What can we do?"

"Well, if she's serious, we can't avoid you leaving." He was fighting to keep his voice level, I could tell, but what emotion, exactly he was blocking out I wasn't sure. Anger, perhaps, sadness, maybe. "But, Demyx, we do live in the 21st century."

I didn't understand at first, and then it sort of, clicked. Going to France didn't mean I would never be able to speak to him! True, I wouldn't be able to see him, or hold his hand, but, I would still be able to know him! And … Maybe I'd still be able to date him. Long distance relationships are renowned for how difficult they are, but … I thought it would be worth a try.

And then I remembered that I didn't have a computer, that we'd never had one because of money issues. Moving to France wasn't likely to improve our financial situation.

"I don't have a computer …"

His face fell, but only a little and only for a moment before he shook it off. "No matter," he said, almost briskly. "You can take mine," he motioned to the desk in the room, and to the immaculate white laptop sitting there.

I shook my head at once, that thing had to have been worth way more money than I'd ever had. I didn't feel right thinking about taking it, let alone actually doing so. "I can't Zexion …"

"Demyx," his voice was quiet, soft, and he sat beside me, one arm going around my shoulders. "In case you haven't been able to tell, my mother has a lot of money. We're only living in these apartments still because I told her I didn't want to move to the Garden District." He paused for a moment. "We found a house there, you know, one we liked. She almost bought it."

He wasn't saying it to brag, I knew that. He was saying it because he wanted to make me feel comfortable with taking the laptop. But I don't think he realized how much it bothered me. Of course, I knew he wasn't going to let me get away with anything short of taking it.

"The point, Demyx, is that I can get a new computer. But, will your mum get you one?"

I sighed. "It's not likely … But, she wouldn't let me keep yours, either."

"Well, that's why you can't tell her."

I finally looked up at him; the determination in his eyes was comforting. But I wasn't so sure it was logical. Part of me wanted to give up, to just roll over and let my mother have her way. There was a large part of me, however, that didn't want to let go of Zexion. That part was confused by how big a deal my mother was making everything, because I saw no problem in any of it.

"Where am I going to hide it?"

He smiled, a much more mischievous one than I thought he was capable of. "Well, I think I can help you with that."


"If I explain something to you, you have to swear to not say anything about it, because, technically, I'm not allowed to talk about it."

My interest piqued. I'll admit it. Zexion was quite by nature, but he'd never had a problem telling me anything before. And I knew that if it was something that he believed required a promise, it had to be something interesting.

"I swear," I swiped my fingers across my heart in a gesture I wasn't sure he understood.

"My mum used to work for a branch of the British military that is, essentially, like America's CIA. She went undercover in other countries more times than one, and there were times that she needed to hide things while going places." He stood and brushed dirt off his clothes that wasn't there. "I can get you one of her old suitcases, I doubt she'll mind, she likes you."

I blinked. That his mother had done something like that didn't really surprise me. I had thought from the moment I met her, that she had a sort of military strictness to her. It was in the way she carried herself, the way she wore her clothing and hair. Still, it was a shock to hear.

"I don't know when we're actually going to go … But … I'll probably not be at school again …"

Bringing up school made me remember his Grandfather, my English teacher, the man who had convinced me that my writing might go somewhere one day. He'd entered a short story of mine into a literary contest a while back, but the results weren't back. It was looking to me like I'd never know the way the contest turned out.

Oddly enough, that hurt more than anything else going on (probably because Zexion had reminded me that we would still be able to talk).

"Can you do me a favor? I mean … Another favor. Aside from the computer, and the bag …"

"Of course, what is it?"

"Well … You remember that contest your Grandfather entered me into?" He nodded. "Well … I don't think I'm going to be here when the results come back, but I kinda want to know what happens with it. Do you think you could have him tell you what happens and then, maybe you could e-mail it to me?"

He nodded. "If you win, Demyx, there's a lot of money involved. Enough for a plane ticket back here."

The implications of his words took a moment to hit me, but, when they did, I instantly felt tears sting my eyes. It was a national competition amongst, mostly, private school students in higher grades than I, because of that, the prize was a couple thousand dollars (first place, anyway). Winning it would, in fact, give me enough money to buy a plane ticket back. There was nothing I could do with it, however, if my mother wouldn't let me.

"I'll have to wait until I'm 16, though." I said, musing. "But … Zexion, I could get emancipated!"

He smiled. "I'm glad you got the meaning of that."

I was smiling, crying and smiling at the same time. The chances of winning were slim, but, it would be something good. And, so far as I could tell, I hadn't done anything bad to warrant bad karma. In fact, I'd gone through an awful lot in the weeks before the confrontation with my mother.

My writing wasn't very strong, or so I thought. The story I'd submitted hadn't been revised as much as I would have liked, and I was sure there were going to be more original pieces there. But I held onto hope. And, the prizes for second and third place weren't bad, either. Maybe not enough to get me a plane ticket from France, but, maybe if I had a job to implement the winnings …

"I still don't want to go," I whispered, leaning my head against Zexion. I didn't care, in that moment, about any of my denial. The realization that I could loose him, that what we had wasn't necessarily infallible made me shed some of my denial. I loved him; I knew that, because it was the only way to explain the way I'd reacted when my mother had a go at me.

My arms went around his waist, his around my neck. "I want to stay here, with you." I could feel more tears coming, not the happy mixture that had been in my eyes moments previously, but bitter tears coming from somewhere in my soul. I could have held them back, if I'd tried, but I didn't want to. I wanted to cry, because I knew I'd feel better afterwards.

His arms tightened around me as I cried, and the more I could feel him the more I wanted to cry. Because I knew that it could be years before I'd be able to be in his arms again. The comfort I felt around him would be lost to me in France, and maybe that hurt worst of all. The knowledge that I'd not have any hugs, or kisses, or touches.

After a few minutes he started running his fingers through my hair and making soft, comforting noises. It must have hurt him to see me like that, because he was being much gentler than I thought possible. And, I'm not sure why it always surprises me when he's sweet; maybe because he seems so cold to everyone, so distant.

"I'm going to go get you that suitcase," he whispered when my tears slowed to a stop. "And some ice for your ankle."

As he got up I became acutely aware of my ankle. I'd managed, somehow, to block out the dull throbbing there, and the swelling had gotten a little worse. It would hurt for a while, I knew that, and I also knew it might make my mother feel a little bit of guilt for what she'd done and was doing. At that moment, a little bit of guilt didn't feel like it would suffice. I wanted her to know the pain I was feeling, because then she wouldn't continue to inflict it.

Zexion was only out of the room for a few moments. While he was gone I could, mutedly, hear the conversation he had with his mom. They were talking about me, I knew, about why he needed to give me one of her suitcases and his laptop. Her response was quieter than his explanation, but, I felt certain that she didn't mind giving me things, and maybe that she even felt a little bad for me.

When he came back into the room he was carrying a monster of a bag that I wasn't even sure I could carry. And that's when another problem occurred to me.

"Zexion, my mother is going to know that isn't mine …"

"Well, then she'll be wrong, because we're giving it to you, it is yours."

The tiny bit of technicality didn't make me feel any better. "Where am I going to tell her I got it?"

"Birthday present, from Sora and Roxas. They gave it to you when you told them you were going to be moving."

I stared at him for a moment. "Do you plan these things ahead of time?"

He shook his head, sadly. "I'd never be able to, because I hate the idea of you leaving. I'm just good at coming up with things on the spot."

I nodded and stood, carefully avoiding too much pressure on my ankle. "Here," he sat the bag on the ground and handed me an ice pack covered in a thing cloth. "That's for your ankle." He looked down at it for a moment, anger flickering across his face in dark shadows. "If she touches you again, I want you to come back down here to me."

"What if it happens when we leave?"

He was silent for a moment, no longer. "Demyx, you have to convince her that you're straight," I started to protest, but he kept going and paid me no mind. "Do whatever you have to, to give her no reason to hurt you anymore, okay? I can deal with you being in France for a while, but I cannot deal with the knowledge that she's abusing you."

It was odd, hearing the person who had coaxed me out of the bland waters of heterosexuality telling me that I needed to put myself more securely in the closet. What was even more strange was that I didn't want to hide myself. I wasn't ready to say that I was gay, but I was ready to say I wasn't straight and I didn't want to lie to anyone about that.

However, I understood the importance of remaining 'straight' in my mother's eyes. And so I nodded.

He nodded, sadly it seemed, and hugged me. "You should go back to your room, I don't want your mother to realize that you came down here. You'd be in more trouble," his eyes drifted to my ankle for a moment, and I knew he'd never forget or forgive that she'd hurt me.

I didn't want to leave his room anymore than I wanted to leave the country. What I wanted the most in the world, at that moment, was to stay with him until I absolutely had to leave. Of course, at that moment, it was best for me to go, and I knew that.

It was that knowledge that gave me the will to climb out the window, carefully, with the suitcase and laptop, and go back up into my room.

I could hear my mother in the shower, which I took as a good thing because it gave me time to hide the bag in my closet. Once that was done I sat on laid on my bed, and the fact that I might be leaving everything I knew behind sank in. There was nothing I could do, at that time, to stop the tears that came. And Zexion wasn't there to comfort me.

As it turned out, we did go to France. My mother told me, the entire way there, that she was happy to be going back, and that everything in America was bad memories and hardship. She thought France would set us free of something, though of what I'm not sure.

Our family greeted me with warm smiles, but not my mother. They didn't like her before she ran away with my father and had me, and it was apparent their minds hadn't changed. Still, they didn't hold it against her because to do so would be to harm me.

For the sake of time and for the sake of everyone reading this, I'm not going to spend chapters detailing everything that happened in France. To be honest, not anything of consequence happened.

The contest results came in, and Zexion's e-mail was dripping with melancholy when he told me I hadn't won anything. But by that point, I had a job. It didn't pay enough, but over the two years I spent waiting for my 16th birthday, the money accumulated.

My mother found the laptop a couple months shy of my 16th birthday. Luckily, by that time, I'd managed to figure out how to work computers and all the conversations I had logged with Zexion were inaccessible to her, so, she didn't know anything, she just had renewed suspicions as to my sexuality.

The night before I turned 16, I sat down with my mother to tell her that I was leaving France. She ... Took the news a lot better than I thought she would. Her first reaction was to stare at me blankly, and then to inform me that I would never be able to support myself. Once she found out, however, that Zexion would, essentially, be taking care of me, she became furious.

By that time, however, I'd grown. I wasn't the tiny 14 year old she'd been able to lug around so easily. I was nearly 16, and sometime between 14 and 16 I'd added a good few inches to my build. She slapped me, once, twice, and on the third time I caught her hand and held in it front of my face.

She started sobbing then, about how she'd wronged me somewhere by allowing me to grow up gay. It was 'an abomination unto the Lord,' and I was duly noted that if I continued with my 'perverse life style decision' I would burn in Hell for all of eternity.

I'd heard it all before. It didn't scare me anymore. God was dead to me, as he's been since the dawn of time, and the next morning, I was on a plane, bound for America and for Zexion.

A/N:... I'm iffy as to the quality of that time skip. I sincerely hope it doesn't sound stupid. But, honestly, I was getting tired of writing from the point of view of a 14 year old. So much more is open to me now, because, well, he's older. And, remember, Zexion is around 19 now.

Also, I just realized. I don't like this chapter. If you find something fundamentally wrong with it, kindly pretend it doesn't really exist and continue reading with chapter 11 (when it's up). That would be greatly appreciated. (Granted, I don't think I've ever particularly liked a chapter ...)

Oh, if you think the drama is done, you're wrong. Demyx hasn't heard the last of his mother, and he still has the community to contend with.

I hope I see you guys next chapter. And ... I'll try to not take over a month in writing this. (Even though, technically, I started this chapter yesterday ...)