"And you thought he would fall for that? Man, that was stupid! You're lucky you weren't rooted to the spot for that!"
Roxas ducked as Axel tried to give him a noogie. "I know, I know! I think I escaped by threatening that Demyx wouldn't water his garden anymore if I got hurt - ack!" he yelped as Axel caught him.
Demyx nodded. "Yeah, I probably wouldn't. I'm not doing it right now because I like him or anything."
"Then why do you do it? He's a pill, we all know that," Axel asked.
"Because I'm the Organization's punching bag, and Roxas will only save me from you?"
Axel turned to look off into the distance. "Demyx, I don't know what you're talking about."
Roxas snorted as he worked free of Axel's grasp. "I still have pictures of what Demyx's face looked like right after you were diagnosed with diabetes."
"Oh, lovely, Zexion's been teaching Roxas how to blackmail. Dems, you and I better watch our backs."
"Heh, I won't have anything to blackmail Demyx with until I get sent on a mission with him."
"Hey, when was the last time I failed a mission? That was New Orleans. And it wasn't my fault that time."
Axel muttered something under his breath. "You know, there's sugar-free ice cream in the kitchen. And, rest assured, Demyx isn't such a saint as all that. I've had my room flooded often enough to know."
"I was sick each time. That or you'd just set something of mine on fire."
Roxas stood up from the couch. "Enough of this - I propose we move this discussion to where the ice cream is!"
"Seconded!" Axel yelled immediately.
"Any objections?" Demyx shook his head emphatically. "Then let's go!"
Conversation came to a halt as the three friends sat around the kitchen table, enjoying their ice cream. Roxas was the first to finish, and sat around thinking while he waited for Axel and Demyx. "Hey, Axel," he asked as soon as the redhead was done with his ice cream, "what's the stupidest thing you've ever done?"
Axel thought long and hard about that. "I can't rightly say, but I know alcohol was involved." Demyx tried to hold back a giggle. "Don't laugh." That made Demyx laugh out loud. "What the hell is with you?"
"Oh, Kingdom Hearts - just tell him!"
Axel rolled his eyes. "Oh, fine - I came to a meeting drunk."
"'Drunk' is a polite way of putting it," Demyx snickered. "You were wasted. Well and truly wasted. So wasted I'm surprised you didn't set your own fumes on fire."
"Shut up. How do you know?"
"I was there, doofus. The Superior had me keeping a special eye on you in case you set yourself or anything else on fire. Which you did, eventually - if I remember right, you set your own pants on fire, and I had to put you out. I don't remember if this was before or after you threw up all over yourself, but I do remember that it was Marluxia's first meeting. I think he was a little traumatized."
If he'd had anything in his mouth, Roxas would have done a spit-take. "Are you serious?!"
"Why do you think I call him 'firecrotch' every so often? It's not just because of his hair color!" Roxas howled with laughter. Axel's face was just as red as his hair by now, and he looked like he wanted to sink into the floor.
"Are you done humiliating me yet?" he muttered.
"Not until you explain how and why exactly you came to be so intoxicated at that meeting."
"I don't fucking remember! Alcohol does that to you, got it memorized?"
"It was 5:00 in the afternoon! I've never seen even Luxord or Xaldin get that drunk that early - there must have been some memorable reason!"
"Maybe there was, but I don't remember what it is, got it memorized?"
Demyx couldn't stop laughing. "Do you really not remember, or are you not willing to admit you remember?"
Roxas couldn't resist. "Got it memorized?" Axel glared daggers at him. That set the blonds off even more.
"So, Demyx...what's the stupidest thing you've ever done?" Roxas asked as soon as he was calm enough to speak coherently.
It was as if someone had flicked a switch. The Melodious Nocturne stopped laughing immediately, and the smile vanished from his face. "You don't want to know," he whispered, then disappeared through a portal.
Roxas looked at Axel in confusion and no little alarm. "What's with him?"
Axel had also gone mysteriously solemn. "You shouldn't have asked him that. But I can explain, if he lets me."
Roxas hung around outside Demyx's room for a good five minutes before Axel opened the door and motioned him in. "He doesn't care if I tell you, but I don't know how many years it's really been - I don't know how our time relates to that world, except it's weird - and he's still pretty broken up about it." Indeed, Demyx was curled up on the bed, facing the wall, with his hearing aids lying on his bedside table. Axel slid a CD out of his pocket and put it in Demyx's CD player, flipping to the exact song he wanted. "Listen to this."
As the first guitar notes played, Roxas recognized the haunting, mournful music immediately - not the song, but the style. "This sounds like something Demyx would play when he's super-angsty." Axel nodded and held a finger to his lips.
"The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call Gitche Gumi. The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead when the skies of November turn gloomy."
"What is -"
"With a load of iron ore 26,000 tons more than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty, that big ship and crew was a bone to be chewed when the gales of November came early."
"This was back when we were Organization Nine."
"The ship was the pride of the American side, coming back from some mill in Wisconsin. As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most, with a crew and a captain well-seasoned. Concluding some terms with a couple steel firms when they left fully loaded for Cleveland, and later that night when the ship's bell rang, could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?"
"Demyx and I had just joined at the same time. I was always the - the star of the two, I guess. The better fighter, at least."
"The wind in the wire made a tattletale sound and a wave broke over the railing, and every man knew, as the captain did too, 'twas the witch of November come stealin'."
"Demyx never wanted to fight."
"The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait as the gales of November came slashin'. When afternoon came, it was freezin' rain in the face of a hurricane west wind."
"But he had to. And he's not very good at it. One day, he had to fight against Saïx, and Saïx didn't just beat him, he completely humiliated him."
"When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck, sayin' 'Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya.' At seven PM, a main hatchway caved in, he said 'Fellas, it's been good to know ya!'"
"Demyx ran away."
"The captain wired in, he had water comin' in, and the big ship and crew was in peril, and later that night, when his lights went out of sight, came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
Roxas didn't want to hear any more - he understood far more than he wanted to. But the song, and Axel, continued.
"I spent ages looking for him, and finally found him sitting on a pebble beach - the shore of Lake Superior - in a freezing storm. He was playing his sitar - playing this exact song. He was seriously busted up over getting his ass kicked like that."
"Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?"
"He didn't know what he'd done."
"The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay if they'd put fifteen more miles behind her."
"None of us knew at the time."
"They might have split up or they might have capsized; they may have broke deep and took water. And all that remains is the faces and the names and the wives and the sons and the daughters."
"You know how water reacts when he's upset if he's not careful. Well...it reacted that night. Badly." Axel sighed.
"Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings in the rooms of her icewater mansion. Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams; the islands and bays are for sportsmen. Farther below, Lake Ontario takes in what Lake Erie can send her, and the iron boats go, as the mariners all know, with the gales of November remembered."
"None of us clued in for a good year or so, until I went back to that world and heard this song. I liked it, but I thought it sounded familiar, so I played it for Demyx. Demyx recognized it instantly. The words weren't his, but the music was, and...there was only one conclusion we could make. I don't think he'll ever forgive himself completely."
"In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed, in the Maritime Sailor's Cathedral. The church bell chimed 'till it rang twenty-nine times - for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald. The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call Gitche Gumi - Superior, they said, never gives up her dead when the gales of November come early!"
"We've all done things like that, or will, but...I gotta say that was worse than most. Twenty-nine men died just because he got upset and went to the wrong place and the wrong time. I guess it would be possible to harden yourself to that, especially for someone without a heart, but frankly, I'd never want to. And Demyx - I don't think he could if he did want to."
Roxas sighed. "If he could, he wouldn't be Demyx." He looked over at the unhappy musician. "But that's such a horrible thing to live with."
Axel shook his head. "Honestly, look at him right now and convince me we can't feel. I don't even know how much of what happened was his fault, if it even was. Apparently the weather in that world is always that hideous around that time of year - you heard, the singer assumed it had been a natural storm, just a little bit out of season. And it might have been partly a natural storm - it might have been entirely natural, and he didn't have anything to do with it. But you'll never convince Demyx. I've tried. To him, if someone heard his music in the storm, that means his music caused the storm."
"How long will it take him to calm down?"
"Probably not long. He's putting up with us being in the same room, still, which is a good sign. If he was really wrecked, he'd have run away." Pause. "'Wrecked' was not a good choice of word there, was it."
"I have to say no, it wasn't."
Axel went over and tapped the musician on the shoulder. It's safe now. Time to wake up.
Demyx sat up slowly and replaced his hearing aids with a look of deep sadness. "So...Roxas...what do you think of the stupidest thing I've ever done?" he asked softly, not making eye contact. "A little worse than showing up drunk to a meeting, wasn't it."
"I think it was a tragic accident," Roxas said carefully.
Demyx sighed sadly. "That's what they tell me."
"In fact, I think the real stupidest thing you've ever done might be letting it eat you for years." And that could be the stupidest thing I've ever said. Get over that?
"They tell me that too." Demyx shook his head. "Sorry. I'm just being a wet blanket over here, aren't I. Give me a few minutes and I'll get over it. You two don't need to put up with me if you don't want to; I don't mind if you leave."
"You're a terrible liar."
"I know." Demyx flopped back on the bed.
"Hey, beating-self-up time is over, okay?" Axel grabbed Demyx's arm and hauled him back to his feet. "Come, Roxas, let us dry out this wet blanket."
"Oof!" Demyx suddenly found himself being group-hugged. He smiled faintly. "You guys."
Axel grinned and rested his chin in Demyx's gelled hair. "Takes one to know one, Demmy dear, which is why we hang out with you."
"Just tell us when you're dry, okay?"
"Dry? I don't wanna be dry! That'd be bad!" Demyx pretended to struggle, but Axel and Roxas just held on tighter.
"Think you'll be okay now?" Axel asked. Demyx nodded. "Think it's safe for us to let you go?" The musician nodded again. "Liar. Rox, don't let him get away!"
Demyx laughed softly. "You guys are nuts."
"Takes one to know one, got it memorized?" Roxas got up on the bed and tried to lean on Axel's head, but he overbalanced, knocking Axel to the floor and Demyx and himself down on top of Axel. "Oww! Geez, Rox, take the bricks out of your pockets!"
"Hey, now your head's in reach - it's revenge time!" While Demyx kept Axel pinned to the floor, shouting and squirming, Roxas gave the redhead a noogie. "Consider that payback!"
Axel finally shoved Demyx off and sat up, rubbing his mussed hair. "So...not such a wet blanket anymore, I take it?"
Demyx was genuinely smiling. "You guys are awesome - hey!"
Axel and Roxas both jumped on him at once. "Takes one to know one!"
"Got it memorized?"
Fin. When you can't forgive yourself, that's what friends are for.
Ernest M. McSorley, captain - John H. McCarthy, mate - James A. Pratt, second mate - Michael E. Armagost, third mate - Thomas Bentsen, oiler - Thomas D. Borneson, maintenance - John D. Simmons, wheelsman - Eugene W. O'Brien, wheelsman - John J. Poviach, wheelsman - Ranson E. Cundy, watchman - William J. Spengler, watchman - Karl A. Peckol, watchman - Mark A. Thomas, deck hand - Paul M. Riippa, deck hand - Bruce L. Hudson, deck hand - David E. Weiss, cadet - Robert C. Rafferty, steward - Allen G. Kalmon, second cook - Frederick J. Beetcher, porter - Nolan F. Church, porter - George J. Holl, chief engineer - Edward F. Bindon, first assistant engineer - Thomas E. Edwards, second assistant engineer - Russell G. Haskell, second assistant engineer - Oliver J. Champeau, third assistant engineer - Blaine H. Wilhelm, oiler - Ralph G. Walton, oiler - Joseph W. Mazes, special maintenance man - Gordon F. MacLellan, wiper
The church bell chimed 'till it rang twenty-nine times - for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald...
- 1 - 1 - / - 1 - 0 - / - 1 - 9 - 7 - 5 -
AN:...Sorry. I couldn't listen to "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" without thinking of Demyx. And clearly, he hadn't been there to save the day, as the day was not saved. So...well...
But Demyx is too nice a guy to have done it on purpose. And he'd be incredibly sorry. D: I hate writing purely depressing stuff, so I had to include fluff at the beginning and the end.
The New Orleans mission is "Whoever Katrina Is". Demyx starts needing hearing aids in "The Day the Music Died". Axel is diagnosed with diabetes in "The Sweetest Things". And apparently the World that Never Was and our world...don't really sync up timewise, so it is possible for Demyx to have been at Whitefish Point in 1975 and New Orleans in 2005 within a five-year timespan, TWTNW time. That or Axel and Demyx have been part of the Organization for upwards of 30 years.
Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts and its associated characters belong to Square Enix and Disney. "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" belongs to Gordon Lightfoot.