Title: Crow's Nest
Summary: And this, Zexion thought, was precisely why he hated pirates. Unfortunately, he is about to discover that a punch to the gut does not always deter the determined, especially when someone is under the delusion that he might just be in love with you. Demyx x Zexion AU.
Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts is not mine. Like, really.
Notes: The reason for this fic comes out of my current trend of pimping Zexion out to all the other (male) characters. I have about five other fics in-progress, and when I realized that I had ones where I was pairing the guy with Sephiroth and Jack Sparrow but not Demyx, I had to come up with a fic fast for the sake of my sanity.
This is the unfortunate result.
There's been a recent flux of fic with pirates in them, but what can I say? They're fun. To be honest, the reason I'm irked with the idea of writing a pirate AU is actually because I already have one planned for a different fandom, and I rather would like to write that one. Hopefully I will, but for now there is this one.
And a quick thanks to Pinkangelsakura, who listened to me whine about the title long enough to offer up a new one.

chapter 1: zexion

Zexion hated pirates.

This was, in short, a serious issue seeing how he worked in the only bar on Midgar, which itself was a tiny, isolated island that had once been bustling with business thanks to its convenient location. Merchants all over used it as a stopping ground for their goods, but with them had come the pirates. It did not take long for the latter to outnumber the former, and the island had quickly become less popular for legal sellers as the number of looted ships increased. When the navy formally abandoned the island—on the premise that it cost far more to defend the place than it was worth—nobody was particularly surprised. It was instead a verification of what everybody already knew. The island more or less belonged to the pirates, which made it a very bad place to be if you didn't like them.

But then, it wasn't as if Zexion had chosen to land on this particular island. It was hard to choose anything when you were suddenly dumped into the middle of the ocean, with no place to go and only a piece of driftwood to cling to. Considering the circumstances, he knew he was lucky to have even ended up on an island that was actually inhabited, and the fact that said inhabitants were not of the man-eating variety was really just an added bonus.

It was at this point that his luck probably should have run out, but instead of ending up a bum on the streets or in some other comparably distasteful position, he had met Tifa Lockhart. Tifa had been looking for someone to help her out at her bar—her last helper had run off to join some environmental terrorist organization—and ended up with Zexion instead. Despite the fact that he obviously had no knowledge on alcoholic beverages and was even still wet from his long-term ocean dip, Tifa had taken him in with no questions asked.

Most people would have found that odd, but that was simply the type of person Tifa was. When those same most people would not have bothered to give him a second glance, Tifa had taken him in, without any expectation of a return for her generosity. She was, in short, the kind of person people wanted to have as a friend, if not because of the eye candy she so obviously was but because she was sweet, helpful, and knew how to kick a generous amount of ass should the need ever arise. She looked out for him despite the fact that he was a stranger and had no money (unless one counted that piece of driftwood he had), offering him work, a home, and friendship when most everyone else—including himself—would have taken advantage of his situation or simply left him to rot. He should have been grateful, and he probably was. But that didn't change the fact that what he really wanted, what he needed, was to get off and the hell away from Midgar, which was the one thing Tifa could not help him do.

Zexion was not really sure what it was about the island that almost made him want to grit his teeth and hurl himself back into the ocean, sans driftwood. It might have been because of its size, what with the place being so small that everyone knew your name, business, and history. And while most people knew his name and where he worked, the fact that they didn't know where he had come from kept them nipping at his heels, always wanting to know more. He had little interest in telling them and had expressed this quite often, but that did not serve to deter anyone. Instead, he found himself constantly pestered by the other residents to give them more information, fully knowing that the more they demanded, the more tight-lipped he would be.

Oddly enough, pirates tended to ask those kind of questions less often, knowing that their own sordid histories were a private matter unless they chose to reveal it. But that didn't reduce his distaste for the whole lot of them any less. After all, pirates were the other main reason why he wanted to get off Midgar and back to the continent, where he would hopefully never see the ocean or a parrot-bearing moron ever again.

It wasn't really anything personal, for the most part. Pirates were simply an affront to what some would have termed his anal tendencies. But honestly, the last thing he needed after spending an hour mopping the floor to be spick span clean was someone puking on it, and repeatedly too.

"There isn't much you can do about that, I'm afraid," Tifa said one day (he had been glowering at the wall in what was most definitely not an hour-long sulk). "They're pirates, and they keep my business running. I don't like what they do to the place either, but it's a bar and you can't have everything perfect. Besides, pirates or not, everyone acts the same after they've got enough alcohol in them. You've just got to learn how to live with it."

"But that doesn't mean I have to like it," he grumbled, still not sulking in the least.

"Nobody said you have to," she replied, and they left it at that.

It wasn't only the rough and disgusting nature or pirates that got on Zexion's nerves though. There was also the issue that despite having the largest set of breasts Zexion (admittedly limited in his chances for comparable observation, but nevertheless…) had ever seen, Tifa was apparently not enough for those damn pirates. It didn't take long for them to realize—probably before he even did—that Zexion was quite pretty himself considering how he was male. It might have been the alcohol, it might have been desperation, but suddenly gender did not seem to matter as Zexion was suddenly inundated with requests for drinks, one-night stands, bondage games, and romantic journeys to the end of the world, none of which he had the least amount of interest in.

"You can't let them take advantage of you like that," Tifa said to him one day while they were closing up. It had been a particularly rough crowd, translating into a bad night for him as he narrowly escaped being groped and fondled. Luckily alcohol had a tendency of inducing clumsiness, but there had been more close calls than he cared for.

He glared, "Well, what am I supposed to do? Hit back?"

"Why not?" she replied. His scowl had only intensified at her blithe response, so she sighed and elaborated. "Sometimes it's the only way of getting their attention, and sometimes it's just a matter of respect. Most of them will just laugh it off or be too humiliated to do anything else."

"Like burn the entire place down?" he suggested sarcastically.

"It hasn't happened yet and it won't. Practically speaking they can't, seeing how we're the only bar in Midgar."

"There would be others."

Tifa had snorted, "I'd like to see them try. Cloud only makes deliveries for me, and it doesn't matter how much they tried to pay him. We have history together. So unless someone can figure out how to make rum from paopu fruit, this is the only place that is going to be serving the pirates their drink and everyone knows that. Why else do you think nobody has tried to build already? It isn't as if it's that difficult to open a bar here anymore."

Well, he had always assumed that the reason for the lack of competition had more to do with her breasts than it did with the crazy blond who delivered the booze and then spent the rest of his time moaning about some guy named Se-phy-roth, but he chose to keep that thought to himself. It didn't matter how much Tifa liked you; she had a temper and an impressive set of fists, a combination that was deadly to say the least.

Still, he had to admit that she had a point. Even if Tifa was wrong about the alcohol situation, as it seemed to him that if someone was desperate enough they would eventually figure out a way to procure alcohol damn the consequences, at the current moment the Seventh Heaven was the favorite watering hole of the many pirates coming in and out of Midgar. And nobody, no matter how drunk they were, would be stupid enough to risk losing that place, particularly if it would bring down the wrath of the other pirates who would probably become very, very short-tempered if they were deprived their rum.

Anyway, long story short was that Tifa was right. Six punches to the gut and one kick to the family jewels later, word had spread that he was not an easy target for random flirtation. He had to admit that he was somewhat relieved that nobody tried to burn the place down, but even then it was more for Tifa's sake than it was for his own. He still wanted nothing more than to get off Midgar, and more often than not it seemed to him that Seventh Heaven was keeping him tied to the island, rather than offering a way out. And the close proximity to the pirates that his work forced him to be only emphasized the ease with which people came and left the island, an ease that they so took for granted and never realized how much he desired.

Zexion knew that if he really wanted to, he could have hitched a ride from one of the pirates. But he knew that the price of doing so was not something he was willing to pay, and so he never even asked. Instead he watched them come and go, hating each and every one of them for taunting him with his only desire no matter how inadvertent it was.

Yet despite all of these hatreds he felt towards pirates, hatreds that he had articulated over and over and over again to Tifa, the woman could not resist trying to hook him up with one of them. Maybe it was his own fault, having lived with her for three years and therefore allowing her into his life. It was no wonder that she would try to solve his problems as well, although how her theory that his angsting and scowling were a result of not having gotten laid since ending up in Midgar, he had absolutely no idea. Whatever the cause of this particular delusion, it meant hell for him as she tried to find him someone to 'hook up' with. And having discovered that he didn't like women or anyone on the island, that left only pirates.

Pirates.

"They're not all bad," she would say to him as they washed glasses at the end of the night. "What about the young man who came in? You know, the one with the long hair in a braid. He seemed like a nice-"

"No."

"He was quite handsome." As if that made up for everything else.

"He spit when he talked." This was, of course, the least of his concerns, but he had to think of something that did not have to do with the fact that handsome or not, a pirate was still a pirate and therefore hated on principle.

Tifa knew this, but that did not stop her from saying, "You are just going to find a problem with everyone, aren't you?"

He didn't bother to argue with that. Namely because it was true.

"What of the man with the little bone earrings and necklace made of human ears?"

"Now you are just mocking me."

Tifa was not one to be deterred, and he could not exactly stop her in good faith either. So instead he scowled and bore her not so subtle prodding with what he believed to be admirable stoicism, although once or twice he did 'accidentally' drop a glass that he was drying. Tifa took it quite well, especially considering how they always seemed to fly rather than drop, and usually crashed about three inches away from her head.

But just as Tifa took shot glasses being thrown at her head by an ill-tempered assistant, Zexion learned to live with his situation. It wasn't ideal, and he would abandon it at the earliest opportunity possible, but it was a life and it could have been much worse. In several ways it was actually quite comfortable, and he might eventually have been able to quash that desire to escape and learned to be satisfied.

Except then he met Demyx. And things, in an inexplicable, dramatic, horrible, and most of all unwanted sort of way, changed to the point that really, there was just no going back.

Ever.

End notes:

Um, this is seriously my random fic, which means I haven't planned it out at all. And my writing is pretty screwy these days, so I don't know how often I'll be updating. I guess it all depends on how often someone can manage to pry the PS2 controllers out of my hands and force me to write, although at that point it's all dependent on how focused I can get. It's not that I'm a slacker, but… um. Well, we'll see. Hopefully it won't take me too long to update, but I can't promise anything….