Behold the plunnie that would not die. I originally wanted to make this a doujinshi – no worries, that will happen, but I HAD to write it down, first, so the ideas would stop kicking around.
More or less, this was a spinoff from "Nine," because the idea of Demyx being from High School Musical WILL NOT leave me alone.
Head in the Game
The shadowy image of cliques, cheerful friendships and high school musicals vanished with a wave of Xemnas's outstretched hand.
"And because the connection between hearts on this world intrigues me, I shall be sending a team to research and assess the potential of adding it to our… collection," the Organization's Superior concluded, finishing his presentation to the other nobodies in their weekly meeting.
Nine seats lower, Demyx timidly raised his hand, muttering "Uh, Superior…?"
"Yes, Demyx, what is it?" Xemnas asked tersely.
"That world was destroyed two years ago," Demyx replied, scratching his left elbow nervously.
"Like, with heartless?" asked Xigbar, seated only lower than Xemnas and nursing a cup of no-longer-warm coffee. Demyx only nodded.
"How do YOU know, IX?" snapped Vexen, looking up from the notes he had been furiously taking during Xemnas's speech.
Demyx blushed, reluctant to give a reason. "Because… well, that's where HE's from."
The meaning of the emphasis did not escape any of the eleven nobodies assembled in the stark white room. Demyx's other, the whole being he had been born from, was from that world. It did take a moment, though, for everyone to grasp exactly what Demyx had meant.
"Wait," Zexion said, waving a hand in front of his face, as if to gather his thoughts. "You're from that happy-peppy world?" he asked blankly.
"That would explain a lot," Saix said with a derisive snort.
Demyx shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "There's more to it than that, guys," he protested weakly. "The point is that it's GONE. There's nothing of it remaining to study. I doubt there's even enough of it left to slap together a gummi ship."
"You say that as if we've no means of traveling through time," Luxord purred from his seat one head lower than Demyx, shuffling a deck of cards absentmindedly. No one blamed Demyx, of course – Luxord HAD only been with the Organization for less than a year, and the ninth and tenth members had scarcely interacted outside of the meetings, when missions didn't prevent them from coming at all.
"Luxord is right," stated Xemnas. "Travelling backwards two years should not be difficult for him. I shall assign Demyx as team leader, since he should know more about it than any of the rest of us."
Demyx gaped, about to protest the responsibility, but was silenced by a glare from the Superior.
Xemnas surveyed the other members of his organization, assessing who would be best suited for the mission. "Axel," he intoned.
The Flurry of Dancing Flames sat up abruptly with a snort. "I was paying attention, Superior," he mumbled. No one said a word, they all knew Axel had been sleeping under his hood almost the entire meeting.
"As this world seems almost entirely comprised of teenagers, I'm sending you on this mission," Xemnas said with a frown. "I expect you'll stay awake while on duty…?"
"Yes, Superior," Axel grumbled, rubbing an eye, and unhappy with the fact that he'd be masquerading as a teenager – he thought it was obvious he was at least 20.
"Marluxia, you'll be the fifth member of this team," Xemnas said with finality. Marluxia had been with the Organization for only a few weeks, but had already shown remarkable competence and leadership – it was rumored his other had been a general. In reply, Marluxia only nodded slowly, accepting his mission with grace.
"We are dismissed." And with that, the eleven nobodies vanished one by one into dark portals opened up behind them, leaving a vacant white room.
The next day, the four nobodies Xemnas assigned, as well as the Superior himself, met in the Hall of Empty Melodies, a long, white hall decked with balconies and vaulted, gothic ceilings. The half-complete heart-shaped moon of Kingdom Hearts shone down on them from a hole near the ceiling.
Demyx was carrying a bundle, the contents of which he emptied on the floor. Xemnas nodded, acknowledging Demyx's leadership for the duration of the mission.
"Okay guys, ground rules. First, we need disguises. Black coats are gonna stick out like sore thumbs where we're going." He gestured towards the pile in front of him. "Take your pick, my dancers were up all night finding stuff in your sizes that would work." Wordlessly, he stripped his own black coat and gloves off, revealing a white t-shirt with a faded red exclamation point on the front and loose jeans.
The other nobodies quirked their eyebrows, but at an impatient gesture from the Melodious Nocturne, they began to inspect the pile and choose clothes.
Xemnas chose a white shirt and khakis. He presented himself to Demyx, gesturing for approval. Demyx frowned for a bit, then snapped his fingers. A dancer nobody materialized, holding up a black-and-white patterned tie. Xemnas put the tie on, awkwardly at first, until old memories of Xehanort stirred up and he remembered how.
Luxord chose a button-down shirt and dark slacks. He clearly needed no help dressing himself in the particular style.
Axel and Marluxia, however, had difficulty.
"The hell kind of pants are these?" Axel grumbled, holding up a pair of jeans, fumbling with the button on the fly. Marluxia was having similar (if less verbal) trouble. Demyx sighed, and demonstrated how to put jeans on to the two nobodies. It was clear that Axel and Marluxia had originated in worlds where modern clothing hadn't been invented yet.
When they had finished, Axel and Marluxia found themselves in jeans and t-shirts as well. Axel took longer only because Demyx had made Axel change out of the black shirt with "hot bitch" spelled out in glittery rhinestones – Axel had only done it to be difficult, anyway.
When they were finished, Demyx finished explaining the rules. "Second, if you hear music, run in the direction that it gets quieter until you can't hear it."
Axel raised his hand like an impatient school kid. "Yes, Axel?" Demyx groaned, half-impatiently, half-glad that Axel was stalling his return to his home world.
"Why are we running away from music?" Axel asked. "It sounds lame."
"We're running away because we don't want to start singing and dancing against our will, that's why."
The other four nobodies looked horrified. Demyx sighed again, and explained, "Have any of you ever been in a musical number?"
"No," said Xemnas.
"Only in the playhouse, mate," Luxord replied.
"Well, the boys in Agrabah would throw a few together, for kicks, sometimes," Axel answered, rubbing his neck. "What about you, General?" he asked Marluxia.
"When we did have them, they were always rigorously rehearsed and performed for someone of someone of high rank, such as the emperor or your ancestors. To be in one was a matter of great honor, and you did not mess up," came Marluxia's terse response.
"Emperor?" Luxord said, an aside to Demyx. "Flowers is Chinese?" Demyx shrugged.
"And why are these musical numbers of concern, number IX?" asked Xemnas, growing impatient.
"They're entirely spontaneous there. If you're in the radius of the number, you're part of it, whether or not you want to be. It's like being controlled by someone else – all the words, the melody, the dance steps – you know them, perfectly. I've been in more that I ever want to be in again, and I advise that we all run away so we don't look like idiots or let singing and dancing distract us." Demyx stopped to catch his breath.
"Wonder what crawled up his ass," Axel whispered to Marluxia. "He's usually pretty calm and cool – bit of a dork, even."
"Demyx did strike me as the kind who is easily flustered if his image is in jeopardy," Marluxia replied. "He knows we don't view his world favorably, and is concerned we'll think less of him – or that people he knew, old friends, will scorn him. At least, that's what his actions say – I know he can't actually feel such."
Axel quietly appreciated Marluxia's analysis, but reminded the eleventh member, "Having no heart doesn't mean not caring for one's self, you know. We can be nervous, happy, or sad – just not very strongly or for anyone besides ourselves."
"Hey, slowpokes!" Demyx called, half inside a portal. Axel and Marluxia stepped inside, and the five nobodies left the World that Never Was, bound for two years in the past.
They exited in a high school musical.
White and red attacked their eyes from every corner of the large room (a cafeteria, they quickly assessed), which was crowed with teenagers eating lunch. A balcony overlooked the rest of the room, and an angry blonde girl paced back and forth, gesturing at the other students clustered around a table.
Demyx's face turned white. "Leave, NOW," he gasped, flapping a hand at the double door a few steps to their left. The five men rushed out the door, and a few paces down the hall until Axel stopped them.
"Okay, this is nonsense. Why are we running from a bunch of teenagers that didn't even notice us? What are they gonna do, attack us with sandwiches? OH NOES," he said snidely, folding his arms and glaring at Demyx.
Demyx rubbed the bridge of his nose. "What day is it, Luxord?"
"January 8th, exactly two years in the past," the goateed nobody responded in clipped tones.
Demyx swore under his breath. "Any week but this one," he groaned, then turned again to his team to explain. "Right now, it's the first week back from winter vacation. This week, a new girl in the school, Gabriella, turned the school on its ear by auditioning for the school play."
"So?" asked Marluxia, frowning.
"This school is very clique-y. You stick to your group, and you don't go outside it. It was totally unheard of. What made it worse is that the captain of the basketball team auditioned with her. They both broke all the rules and it freaked out the drama club."
"That still does not explain why we left the cafeteria, Demyx," Xemnas said.
"In about 30 seconds, that cafeteria is going to be the nexus of a school-wide show stopper."
Axel and Marluxia turned white as well. "You mean…?" Axel squeaked.
"A what?" asked Luxord.
"Show stoppers are numbers that everyone in a vicinity participates in," explained Marluxia. "And if the rules of this universe apply to us, that means we'd be no exception."
"What makes it worse," groaned Demyx, "is that everyone's singing their hearts out about things they never would have told anyone. Confessing what they really like to do. It gets pretty ugly."
Xemnas perked up at the mention of hearts. "Singing or not, I would like to see."
Demyx looked dismayed. "Superior, you can't be serious…"
A loudly-sung "NO!" reached their ears. Wordlessly, Xemnas strode to the doors of the cafeteria, close enough to observe, but not enough to be swept away by the music.
Inside, students spun, leapt, danced their way through the cafeteria, on top of and around tables. "Fascinating," breathed Xemnas, the scientist in him already devising experiments and studies.
He was joined by the others, Demyx lagging further behind the rest.
Not another peep…
Not another word
Not another sound
The blonde girl on the balcony leaned over the edge and bellowed "Everybody, QUIET!"
The silence that followed was deafening, until a low backbeat picked up.
"Who's that?" asked Luxord, pointing at the blonde girl.
"Sharpay," replied Demyx. "Queen Bee and star of the drama club. She hates not getting her way and felt completely upstaged by Gabriella – she was one of the main people upset by the whole winter musical thing… is one of the main people, I guess, since we're right in the middle of it."
"So then is this Gabriella chick around?" asked Axel, filching a sandwich from a boy who had strayed to close to the door. Demyx pointed to a Latina girl nervously holding a lunch tray.
"And your other?" asked Xemnas.
"Not here yet," Demyx replied, almost growling. "I'll take care of him later."
Before anyone could ask what he meant by that, another loud "NO!" that reverberated through the cafeteria forced them to cover their ears and retreat.
"This world is crazy," Axel concluded.
"Demyx, I have decided what I shall study. You give assignments to the rest," Xemnas said, and then vanished.
"Assignments?" Demyx squeaked, then, resigned to his duty, pointed to Marluxia. "Go observe the garden on the roof. You'll like the flowers, and some interesting stuff will happen there. Take notes, so Xemnas doesn't think you were just fooling around up there."
"Axel, you go observe the drama club – they're in the theater. You'll probably like Sharpay and all her antics."
"Luxord, you watch the Academic Decathalon team. They're smart, so you won't get bored."
"What are you gonna do, Demyx?" Axel asked, curious.
"I'm gonna keep an eye on the basketball team."
And so, the four headed off to observe the various cliques, and watch the show unfold.