Did you ever lose yourself to get what you want?

One of Luxord's favorite details about time was that it was continuous. Unless you were gifted with the power to manipulate it, as he was, it continued to march forward, relentlessly and unchanging. And since he wasn't interfering with the events of this world right now, life for the East High School Wildcats continued on.

His own reports consisted of details regarding the school's Academic team. His reports had been full of praise regarding how they were a group of smart, manipulative little bastards. While his reports did concur with everyone else's regarding the inherently shallow nature of all the inhabitants of the world, he still admired them for their treachery.

He also groaned in disdain when they decided to team up and "do the right thing" or whatever it was they were going to do.

Demyx had become a tad exasperated at Marlxuia, since all the pink-haired Nobody did was investigate the flowers in the green house. He did send one or two reports about "everyone making friends" and blah blah blah, but he, as well as everyone else, seemed rather disinterested in the basketball captain's internal struggles.

As for Axel, his complete amusement at the Drama Club was endless. He reported to Demyx nearly every day how hilarious the petty backbiting was, or how worked up Sharpay and Ms. Darbus got over something as silly as the leads in a school musical. "After all, Demyx," Axel crowed one day, "it would be an utter tragedy if their precious musi-CAHL were ruined!"

Demyx laughed unenthusiastically, and filed away that everything was going as according to Status Quo.

Which, of course, left him with the Basketball Team. There wasn't anything to observe or report, really. He already knew the whole story – Troy would audition for the musical, throwing the school into an uproar. The Basketball team would try and stop him, because of the championship around the corner and because of the inherent un-coolness of the captain of the Basketball Team trying out for the Winter Musical and actually getting a callback. Then the team would realize that they had actually hurt their friend's feelings, so they'd get together with the Academic Team and make the callbacks actually happen, and everything would be hunky-dory, the finale would happen, they'd win the championship, and everyone would go home that day friends and smiles and light and happiness.

Looking back on all of it, he actually felt a bit disgusted.

So, since he knew everything there was to know about THAT side of the story, he spent his days wandering the school. He saw snatches of life inside East High School he hadn't seen the first time. He saw the skater kids trying to talk their friend out of playing the cello – it wasn't COOL, y'know? He saw the goth kids under the bleachers, shirking gym class – and he didn't even remember goth kids existing.

And he saw her.

That one day, as the entire student body was outside getting pumped for the game (he could hear them even now, shouting "Wildcats! In the House!"), she got her own solo.

Now, the only thing more important in the life of a student at East High School than a Show Stopper was a solo. Solos were serious business. Solos meant you were learning something important about yourself, that you were having a massive internal change – that you were growing up. There was usually a large amount of emotion involved, and depending on the role a particular person played in the general story, solos could mean a significant change in the way things were.

The Organization had done a fair job of keeping themselves inconspicuous, so Demyx hid himself under the stairs in order to listen.

I thought you were my fairytale, my dream when I'm not sleeping…

If Demyx still had a heart, he would have cried. She was utterly heartbroken. Of course, he knew it was because the Team and the Decathlon had conspired to back Troy into a corner and say things that he didn't mean about Gabriella. It still didn't change the fact that Troy had said them and hurt her feelings.

And wishes on a star just don't come true…

Had it been two years ago, Demyx would have done everything in his power to rectify the situation. But it was two years too late, so he simply filed away Gabriella's solo as something to report to Xemnas later.

And time marched on. Things resolved themselves, Troy and Gabriella got the leads in the show, EHS won the basketball championship, and everything was happiness, light, friendship and smiles.

Status Quo hadn't been changed.

The following months were uneventful. There was rehersal, there was Sharpay and Gabriella sniping at each other , there was a romance here or there. The only thing of note was the meeting Xemnas called.

"I have determined how we shall end this world," boomed the Superior, his sonorous voice echoing in the empty halls. It was after dark, and the five of them had gathered in the empty gym. "These last weeks, I have been spreading darkness where I can. Doors have been opened already. But I have determined that it is my own heartless that will finally plunge this world into oblivion. When he does such, we shall harness the escaping hearts and channel them towards my own Kingdom Hearts, furthering our goal."

Demyx didn't flinch. He already knew that, too. So he raised his hand. "Superior… I've been wondering."

Four sets of eyes turned toward him, the light from the single security light illuminating their faces and making them look alien and strange. He sighed heavily, then faced them. "If I were to take the heart of my other… would I be whole again?"

"Care to elaborate, Demyx?" Axel asked.

"Well… if I were to take his heart, or even better, ensure that he doesn't go out when this world does, would I be able to get my heart back?"

Xemnas turned to Luxord, wordlessly asking for his opinion on time and the flow of events. Luxord stroked his beard for a moment before speaking. "Now, contrary to popular belief, the butterfly effect is only a myth. You can pretend that you've gone back to change things, when the truth is, you changing things was meant to happen all along."

Demyx blinked.

"Perhaps I should be more clear. It doesn't matter if you kill your other, Dyme, Myde or whatever his name was. You killing your other was meant to happen, so essentially, you would have a hand in your own creation. It would mean you gain a heart, but another Demyx is born, two years in the past, making things cyclical."

"His question, though, was whether or not he could ensure the safety of his somebody and make sure he survives," Marluxia stated calmly.

"No, he couldn't. Because once he proceeds past the point where his heart separates from his body, he would cease to exist as a nobody, and then his other would lose his heart anyway. Even though we can move back, time is linear, and there are some things that can't be changed. How they happen can be changed, but certain events must occur, and nature will do everything in its power to ensure that they do." Luxord smiled ruefully. "Take it from someone who learned the hard way."

Demyx's shoulders sagged. So much for that plan.

Xemnas cleared his throat. "The date that my heartless appears is a few months from current time. In order to not prolong this mission, Luxord, if we could move ahead to late June…"

Luxord nodded, then summoned another portal through time and space. "If you will, gents…"

They tumbled out of the portal at a country club in the desert.

Axel turned to Xemnas. "I thought this took place at a school."

"It's summer vacation, they're all here on their summer jobs. Your buddies Sharpay and Ryan live here," Demyx replied curtly.

"Demyx is right," said Xemnas. "And this is the location my heartless shall unleash darkness, so here we shall finish our mission." He strode off, leaving the four lesser members of the Organization to decide what to do until events happened.

"I'm beginning to suspect our Superior doesn't like getting his hands dirty," sneered Marluxia.

"Think you could do better, mate?" Luxord retorted, ignoring the contemplative look that crossed Marluxia's face.

"Hey," Axel said, pointing off in the distance, "isn't that the basketball captain?"

Sure enough, marching across a golf course in the distance was Troy Bolton. Demyx paled visibly, then whipped around to face his coworkers. "I have something to take care of," he said, then vanished in a portal before the other three could say anything.

They stood around uncomfortably for a moment, until the sky clouded over. "Well, I was gonna suggest we go get a drink and chill by the pool, but looks like our mission takes precedence," Axel stated calmly, summoning his weapons and watching darkness ooze from the horizon.

Meanwhile, Troy Bolton was having an internal crisis. He too had a solo, and as he pranced around the golf course, it was obvious he was trying to decide between being himself and going after the opportunities spread before him.

He paused for a moment, and knelt down beside a water trap. "It's no good at all when you can't recognize your face," he sang towards his own reflection, brain a whirl of emotion, confusion, and broken-heartedness. After all, Gabriella had just broken up with him, and he had no idea why.

And suddenly, his reflection spoke. "It's because you ditched her for Sharpay and basketball scholarships, stupid," it snapped at him as it rose out of the water to solidify and take the form of a young man in a long black coat. The hood obscured his face, but the fact that he was standing on a column of water was enough to intimidate Troy.

He backed away from the edge of the water. "Who are you?" he asked, attempting to sound brave and coming across a bit squeakier than he might have intended.

"Aw, come on, Troy, you don't need to be so hostile," Demyx said, lowering himself to the ground and taking a step toward Troy. "Especially considering that, right now? All your friends are in serious trouble."

Troy's eyes widened, and he took off towards the Country Club at a dead run. Demyx laughed, and then summoned a portal to follow him.

When he arrived at Lava Springs, it was utter chaos. Axel swooped by in a line of fire, setting a wall ablaze and sending a crowd of women in yoga pants directly into horde of heartless ready and waiting. "What took you so long?" Axel shouted above the screams and crashes.

"I told you, I had some business to take care of," Demyx replied sourly as he extinguished the wall and sent a few water clones after a shrieking valet and right into Marluxia's waiting scythe. "Where's Xemnas?"

Axel pointed up to where Luxord and Xemnas were channeling hearts through time into the Organization's own Kingdom Hearts.

Demyx analyzed the scene before him, watching familiar faces contort in terror and pain as their hearts were lost, taking it all in, unafraid and unfeeling – a sharp contrast to the last time he had been here.

A loud, hoarse voice called above all the other screams. "Gabriella!" Troy shouted, looking for her. He rounded a corner, face streaked with soot from whatever fires Axel had started. "Gabriella!" he called again.

Demyx grit his teeth. If the past couldn't be changed, then the only thing he could do was continue the Status Quo. Only this time, he'd be on the other end of the conversation.

"Oh, she's not here," he called, adding a friendly note to his voice as he strolled over to Troy. "See, my friends over there," he nodded toward Axel, Marluxia, Xemnas and Luxord, "they really needed her heart, so they took it."

IN the space of seconds, Troy's face twisted with despair, sorrow, rage and hatred. "You killed her?" he roared, furious. "You killed Gabriella?"

Demyx held up his hands. "Hey, hey, that isn't very nice. I didn't kill her. And technically, she isn't dead. She's just… different. You see those little things over there?" He pointed to a small swarm of Shadow Heartless, who were just now finishing off Chad Danforth. Troy watched his friend vanish into nothing and a pink orb, which drifted up toward Xemnas and Luxord. "Those're called heartless. When a body and a heart are separated, they become a heartless and a nobody. Since we needed your girlfriend's heart, there won't be a heartless. But you may be lucky enough to find her Nobody."

Troy bared his teeth, ready to kill Demyx in a heartbeat. "I don't care who did it, you guys are the ones that started all of this! I will make you pay for it! If I have to spend the rest of my life hunting you down, then I –"

Demyx silenced him by running the end of his sitar through his chest. "There's only one problem with that, Troy Bolton."

As the captain of the East High School Basketball team began to fade, Demyx lowered his hood.

"You can't get revenge on a mirror."

And the last thing Troy Bolton ever saw was the face of his own Nobody, watching as he died without any emotion at all.

After they had returned to the present and finished up mission reports, Demyx found himself perched on the balcony above the Hall of Empty Melodies, plucking mindlessly at his sitar, a bit distracted.

Axel appeared in a portal beside him, and sat down next to him. "I only want to know one thing. How did you get Demyx out of Troy Bolton?"

"Dyme was his mom's maiden name. For some reason, when I woke up in Twilight Town, I didn't want anyone to know who I was. What if they were still out there, and knew that one day I would be responsible for all of their deaths?"

"Dude, we're nobodies. We couldn't care even if we wanted to." Axel replied calmly. He sat up. "Is that Dancer wearing a hat?"

Demyx sighed, and rubbed his temples. "I keep telling him not to." He flagged the Dancer down, and plucked the lime green fedora off of its head. "Since you're so bent on defying orders, go tell your sister to make me and Axel a sandwich, Ryan."

They watched the nobody of Ryan Evans glide away, and then Axel turned to Demyx. "Why did you do it?"

Demyx lowered his head. "Because you can't change the past."

Axel shrugged, then stood. "Works for me," he said, and then vanished again.

Demyx picked up his sitar once more – he had only learned to play it in the last two years, but in this world where backbeats and spontaneous musical numbers were no more, having something that was able to create music was a small comfort. His fingers picked out a familiar tune.

You know the world can see us, in a way that's different from who we are…

He sang softly to himself, and fought back tears as his memories overtook him