I'd like to give a kind thanks to my three reviewers - TheOptimisticPessimist, The White Raven013, and AllieReade - for being so supportive, when it's obvious I'm still very unsure about my characterization of Zexion. This will only be a few more chapters, and I hope you'll like them. Oh! And to answer your question, yes, there will be yaoi.
Also, I'm a music freak. Can you tell?
Zexion remained in Twilight Town for the rest of the week, and Demyx took to hiding in his room with the notebook propped open against his lap and his fingers working tirelessly.
The rhythms were unknown to him, and difficult to master. More than once he resorted to summoning his sitar away entirely and strangling his pillow, just to get the bottled up rage and frustration out of his hands.
The pieces were old, written long before anything Demyx currently plays, and was completely opposite of his own style. The measures graced gently from soothing ballads to 6/8 time steps of complex eighth notes that took him hours upon hours to master; not to mention that each song is unnamed and parts of the pages were pressed tightly together, so he was never quiet sure where one composition began and another ended. The style was awkward and sketchy, and in sudden bouts of agitation Demyx would wonder why anyone would bother to learn such a mess of ties and staccatos, accidentals and accents. But as the music progressed and he became more comfortable with the rhythms and composition, the notes began to flow easily together, a wave of beauty that was similar to the wave of relief that passed through Demyx when he finally realized he could accomplish this.
He played until his fingertips were thoroughly calloused underneath worn black gloves and his eyes were red from lack of sleep. He rarely left his room, even resorting to sending his Dancers to fetch him food and water from the kitchens that he devoured hungrily, relishing in the brief rest his fingers had while scanning the pages ruthlessly, replaying each of the notes through his mind.
He played until the twenty or so pages were mastered and imprinted into his brain, where he could call on them at will and run them through his head. After all, it wasn't like he had anything better to do.
Zexion came back fourteen days later, appearing quite suddenly in the middle of a routine informational meeting. Demyx had been sitting silently in his chair, bored and alone. Axel, who normally claimed the seat next to him, was off in a world somewhere, scouting the land and relaying accounts back to Xemnas with his Assassins. At least with Axel there, Demyx would have someone to pass the time with, even if all they could manage was a sort of Morse Code tapping-in-rhythm nonsense without being caught. Still, communication was nice.
"You're back rather late, Zexion," Saix questioned, a hint of chastising in his voice. "Was there trouble?"
Zexion, who leant back into his seat and eyed Saix with a loathing glare, responded plainly, "Not much. I had to clean up the mess Larxene left behind, though. A few missing people and the town flies into a panic."
Xemnas' attention was caught, and he turned towards Zexion with an uncommon interest in the subject. "Did you set it in order?"
Zexion nodded. "I had to take care of a few of them personally, but they mainly sorted out the situation themselves and calmed down. They seemed to forget the whole incident within a few days' time, actually."
"Hmm," was all Xemnas responded with, but it was enough to put the room back at ease as The Superior resumed his position with his back to his seat.
Xigbar waved his hand idly, blowing off the topic. "Aah, it's that town. Always been too close to the Twilight for those guys' well being. It's unhealthy. Hey, whose got the next shift, anyway?"
"Me, since Marluxia is still off in that town with Larxene," Luxord answered, raising his hand before letting it fall carelessly to his side.
"What, too much for the girl to handle?" Xaldin laughed, a low bitter sound that was meant to be more sexist than it was humorous.
"Are you kidding?" Xigbar answered, his eyebrows raised and a smirk on his face. "Marluxia went to watch."
The meeting was concluded not long after that, the nine remaining members each vanishing into the darkness to return to whatever business they had been doing prior. Save two.
Demyx remained in his seat, waiting to see if Zexion would do the same. When Number VI showed no signs of departing, Demyx cleared his throat and spoke up from across the room.
"How was your trip?"
Zexion looked up at him - or, at least in his direction - and crossed his arms over his chest.
"Enlightening," he muttered, and Demyx couldn't decided whether it was a bad pun or not, and chose simply to smile.
"Did you understand that music I gave you?"
Demyx nodded eagerly.
"Are you busy?"
"I, um. Well, not really - "
"You either are or you aren't, Demyx."
"Good. I want to see how well you've been doing."
And Zexion vanished in a swirl of black and purple streams that swallowed him whole, leaving nothing in his white throne seat but empty air and Demyx's gaze as he stared absently, wondering if he felt half full or half empty.
"Make yourself comfortable wherever you'd like," Zexion said, giving the room a half-hearted gesture before flopping to the ground against the wall.
Demyx sat against the couch nervously, his sitar in his hands. "What…what are you going to do?"
"Sit here," Zexion replied bluntly, his eyes unreachable through soft layers of hair. Or, at least, Demyx figured it would be soft. Not that it bothered him that he didn't really know, of course. Not knowing never bothered him. It was one of the many difference between him and Zexion.
"Well? Are you going to play?"
"Oh," Demyx jumped slightly. "Yeah. Okay. …Yeah."
He placed his fingers against the strings, trying to summon the confidence that Zexion was able to display so carelessly.
Maybe, he thought, fingers against the neck of his guitar as Zexion watched him carefully. Maybe knowing was a little more than half the battle. A battle Demyx wanted so badly to win.
He played uneasily at first, slipping up a few times and cursing under his breath until Zexion stopped him.
"You're nervous," the boy said calmly, questionably. "Don't be."
Demyx shifted in his position, feeling ever more awkward. "I can't help it. It's just…"
"Do you think I'm better than you?"
Demyx looked up, meeting Zexion's eyes through that curtain of hair. It would have started to irritate him if he wasn't so frightened of meeting Zexion truly face to face. "At playing?"
"There has to be something, Demyx," Zexion answered lightly. "Is it because you think I can outdo you, simply because I rank higher? Because I study? Because I learn?" Zexion turned slightly, fully facing Demyx from across few meters between them. "I'll tell you this: I am not musical in the slightest sense. If you gave me that instrument right now I would stare at you as if you've lost your mind."
Demyx didn't know how to respond, so he nodded his head shyly, waiting.
"You, however, have a talent. I used to hear you when I would stray to the upper levels, and I often wondered what gave you the ability to play so well."
Demyx flushed slightly, wondering if he could ever play again without first scanning the halls and putting in monitors for every corridor. Being watched had never bothered him before, but, with Zexion, there was a feeling in his gut that wasn't simply unease, but more. Zexion, unfazed, stared him down.
"We play to our strengths, Demyx, and in your case, I mean that literally. Embrace what you have. Never be afraid of what you can do."
Demyx cleared his throat, responding with a tight, "Right. Okay," before placing his fingers on the strings once more. This time, they hit correctly.
The music flowed from Demyx like it did when he was alone, empowered with the knowledge that for once, Zexion wasn't in his presence to judge him, but to experience something he could never achieve. And surprisingly enough, it seemed to Demyx that Zexion was okay with that. As long as one of them could do it, they had it covered. As long as they understood, they would learn. Zexion was learning the sounds, the beauty, while Demyx was beginning to understand that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance that he wasn't so useless after all.
He played from memory, sometimes going as far as to improvise the notes that he didn't quite remember by mimicking the stylistic patterns he had come to love and appreciate. His mind drifted out of the room, past the waves of the sea and past the gloom that awaited him every time he stepped outside. Past the darkness and decay, past the ruin and neon lights and fake atmosphere. Past the clouds and the sky and the birds, to somewhere he was always able to find solace. Somewhere he always felt perfect. Somewhere that he always saw perfection.
He saw stars.
But they were lacking lustre and shine, a dim light in the faded hope of a real future. And as Zexion sat there against the wall, hearing tuned in to the sound from Demyx and only the sound, Demyx felt he complimented him mind's eye perfectly. A wreck of mankind, slumped against an artificial wall that was the only thing preventing him from falling backwards into nothingness, a black smear on a bleak horizon.
And as the final notes played, Demyx figured that if he had a heart, this is where it would be breaking.
"When's your next assignment?"
Demyx stopped in the doorway, surprised. He had finished playing over a minute ago, and Zexion had done nothing but sit and stare out of the large window. Taking that as his cue to leave, Demyx reluctantly had gotten up, summoned away his sitar, and taken careful steps over to the exit.
Now however, Zexion was looking directly at him, his arms crossed lazily on his knees, a huddled black shape that Demyx found himself oddly drawn to. Raising his shoulders in a shrug, Demyx bit his lip.
"I don't know. Probably nothing until it's my turn to take over at Twilight Town."
Zexion turned away again, eyes resuming their focus on the view outside of their fortress. "So I can expect you back here again sometime soon?"
Demyx paused, considering the boy in front of him. Was he serious? Was this a test? Some elaborate and embarrassing set up to gauge his reaction and study it? Or… was there actually a possibility that Zexion had enjoyed his company? Demyx seriously doubted it. The music, however. That might be another story.
And then it hit him.
Of course Zexion would want him to come back. He's trying to learn. That was what he felt his purpose was, alongside the Organization's plight for recovering their hearts. He wanted to know everything. All things. Anything he could get.
Perhaps Demyx should have waited to play the entire collection.
"I don't have any more of that music," Demyx responded sadly. "I performed every piece."
Zexion let out something that might have been laughter, but Demyx pushed it aside and replaced it with the obvious scoff, because that's clearly what Zexion was known for.
"You don't have to play anymore if you don't want."
Zexion shot him a look, but Demyx couldn't read it. The hair. It was starting to aggravate him again.
"I said," Zexion repeated, his voice softer but not lacking any of the former intensity, save a slight amount of humour. "You don't have to play if you don't want to."
The musician stood against the doorway, on hand bunched in his cloak and the other hung loosely at his side as he processed this information. "But…why would you give me the music if you didn't want me to - "
"It was the easiest way to avoid reasoning for your return," Zexion interrupted. "Now, are you coming back or not?"
Demyx reached for the door handle, his hand missing it several times before he finally grasped it with aching fingers. He gave Zexion a weary, surprised smile as he opened the door and let himself out into the doorway.
"Yeah. I'll be back."
Zexion smirked. "Great then."
And with a wave of Zexion's hand, the door slammed shut in front of Demyx's face, mere centimetres away from slamming into his body and causing severe injuries and bruising. With a small chuckle, Demyx turned away and began the lonely trek back up towards the higher levels, muttering "Pompous bastard," underneath his breath.
And he could have sworn, as he was ascending the last step, a voice called out from Zexion's room, the serious undertones ruined by the smile that coated the tips of the words.
"Don't call me names, Demyx."