Part 28: End of the Beginning

The following morning he was a mess. Pacing back and forth in his room he decided he couldn't think straight in this confined space and left to find a place to clear his head. In the garden he walked the outer wall, his mind racing. Would he come? Would he be happy to see him? It had been easy to forget about it in the company of the others, however he didn't belong here, couldn't be here forever. He...wanted to be by Xemnas' side. It was selfish but he felt like he could try and heal the broken part of the man. He'd known for quite a long time that Xemnas lacked something, something vital that most people had. He wanted to be able to fix that broken part, but how?

"Enjoying a morning stroll?"
He looked up to the sound of the voice.

Up in the string of vines and roses was a bench and Vexen was lying across it reading. He laid the book in his lap. "I heard you walk by the room." He said closing his reading material and smirking. "I'm not sure when he'll show up but try not to run yourself ragged before he arrives. He might get mad if you look like we mistreated you."

Saix's gaze narrowed as he gave the man a worried expression. "How can you be so sure he'll even come here for me? You all keep saying I'm important but I..." He clenched his fists, "I couldn't even stop him from destroying everything. I couldn't help him when he needed me most."

"You lacked the ability to do so, at least to an extent. Now that you're whole you're free to make your own choices, speak your mind, and pick whatever side you want." He grinned. "Knowing that, Xemnas cannot afford to just not show up. He can't assume you'll escape here and go find him. He won't be able to be positive you'll follow him blindly anymore. It scares him." The blond stood and walked around the forest of vines down into the grass. "He doesn't want to lose you so he'll show up, though if my theory is right about his feelings...well, you'll have to find out how deep those feelings go yourself."
The berserker sighed. "'ve changed so much, Vexen. I hardly recognize you." He gave him a thoughtful look. "It's odd but I feel like maybe I can help him if I was given the chance; change and heal him in the same way Marluxia did for you."

The blond grinned. "I'm sure you can, if it's something you really want." He stared at the roses, a warm look in his green eyes. "And if he fights you, push back harder."

"Is that from experience?" The other man asked with a faint grin.

Vexen nodded. "Yes, take it from the stubborn one, he'll thank you for it later."

Saix nodded. "I'll remember that. However, there is still the matter of him actually wanting me to go with him." Sighing again he stared at the sky, watching as it changed from orange to a faint pale blue. "Feeling again, I understand the fear of being left behind. Before I would have followed him regardless, not fearing consequences or rejection, driven by my blinded courage."

"Now's the real test." Vexen said as he turned to go back inside. "I won't give you some bull speech about believing in yourself and all that, but I can tell you that wondering what could have happened is a terrible thing when you can feel regret again. Don't dwell on the past and don't over think your decisions. Sometimes the one you feel first is the right path...or at least the one you really wish to take. Having no emotions didn't hinder us from making mistakes about things, it just made us not care about them."

"So I should just do what I want without a worry for how he may or may not react?" Saix regarded the blond, placing his hands in his pockets.

The blond nodded. "It's your life now, Saix. What you want to do with it is your right and yours alone."

They looked at each other for a moment and finally the blue haired man nodded. "Thanks."

"Anytime. I'm an expert in making mistakes and denying feelings." He smirked and went back inside, seeking a warm bed and the pink haired man curled up in it.

Saix stayed outside, thinking about his talk with Vexen. What he wanted to do, huh? So even if Xemnas changed his mind he'd do as he wished? But what did he want? Sitting down in the grass he watched the sky. If he could chose one thing he wanted it would be to stay with Xemnas, even if he couldn't be as much use as before he'd stand beside him and protect him. That was what he wanted and no one else could change his mind.

Demyx was leaning over the balcony connected to the upstairs lab. Vexen was contacting Sora and the other's about their situation and explained that Xemnas would be arriving today.

"Are you explaining the possibility of our impending doom again?" Xigbar groaned over the blonde's shoulder.

"No, but I will describe yours if you do not stop reading over my shoulder." He shot the man an icy glare.

Xigbar sat up. "Good god, I see someone is as bubbly as ever." He grumbled and walked over to join Demyx. "See anything yet, little dude?" He looped an arm around the blonde's shoulders and kissed his cheek.

"Nope, nothing but grass." He sighed and he rested his chin on his hands. "He has to come, right?" He'd been on edge all night and since he woke up. They all had actually. Saix, although maintaining his composed exterior, looked ready to jump out of his seat at any moment. He'd been pacing but Vexen finally got annoyed with that and ordered the other to sit and read or something. The problem was they all waited to know how their former leader would react. Vexen had no doubt Xemnas would be pleased to see Saix but if he'd keep his word...well that was still debatable.

"I SEE HIM!" Demyx perked up running back into the lab. "He's here! He's here!" He pointed, waving his hand spastically.

Saix jumped up but then began to wither in his seat as the thoughts set in.

Xaldin grabbed him by the shoulder. "Come on." He gave the Berserker a comforting grin.

If the other man could have whimpered he would have, but his throat was so tight, his heart racing so much he could barely make a sound as he was led from the lab. They all went in one group to the man door, Vexen taking the lead and stepping out to wait. They kept themselves in front of Saix, waiting to see how Xemnas would broach the subject. All of them wanted to believe this would fix things, make life safe at last but they could only guess. Xemnas had been something of an anomaly.

Watching the path he saw the familiar light gray hair, dark skin and even that familiar aloof expression. What he didn't expect was the look in his eyes, they seemed on edge as if it took him too much willpower to wait the full two days. Stopping a few feet from them he regarded Vexen. "Well?"

He smirked. "Glad to see you came." Seeing the other, sensing his unease he knew this had to work.

Furrowing his brows he narrowed his gaze. "Well? Where is he?" It was difficult to tell it he was anxious to see the person he desired or if he was afraid that such feelings would really exist when he saw the Luna Diviner.

Vexen nodded and then stepped aside, followed by the others until the suddenly timid Berserker could be seen and his eyes met Xemnas'.

If it wasn't already obvious that they had succeeded it was now. Xemnas' expression immediately softened and he stared wide-eyed at Saix. It seemed as if both wanted to speak but unable to move they just stared. Finally Xaldin gave Saix a tiny shove and the man found his feet, taking slow careful steps towards Xemnas. He couldn't breathe, it felt like everything had simply collapsed around him and all that was left was the person in front of him. He couldn't tell if Xemnas was happy or disappointed to see him and he felt himself shaking a little as he stopped a couple feet from him. "X-xemnas." He said quietly.

It was like the voice melted him and Xemnas made a pained expression, however this one was laced with warmth unlike any other time he expressed it. Reaching out he took Saix's hand. "Let's go, Saix." He said bluntly.

He felt his mouth turn up in a faint smile. "Yes." He nodded slowly.

Though Xemnas didn't move, he just looked at him, his thumb absently running over the other's knuckles. Finally snapping out of his thoughts he looked at Vexen. "Kingdom Hearts is no more."

The blond nodded. "I figured as much. Leon told me it was gone yesterday." He grinned knowingly, everyone else completely shocked that Vexen failed to mention such a thing. He'd known Xemnas already made the conclusion before he came here. He'd been betting everything on Saix being whole.

The darker complected man sighed. "After you left I started thinking and it only made sense the more I put the pieces together." He glanced at Saix. "There are just some things that are not worth risking."

They looked at him, feeling as if something more was blooming in him but he was still trying to figure it out.

Saix was blushing, feeling the squeeze to his hand as Xemnas spoke. His heart finally burst and he lowered his gaze, finding it so silly that he had worried at all.

"We'll be going now, you won't need to worry about us again." Xemnas turned to leave.

"If you feel the need to make yourself known," Marluxia began, "The castle door is always open." He gestured to the structure behind him.

The others nodded in agreement.

For the first time Xemnas smiled without any sort of edge or sadness to it. "I'll consider it." The pair walked back down the path, not looking back, but giving them all a sense of connection. They'd see them again, probably under some false pretense but they'd see them again.

Looking back at Saix Xemnas lowered his voice so only the other man could hear. "Let's go home."

Saix nodded. "But where is that?"

The former Superior shrugged. "Where we want. How about you decide." He looked at him. "This time you can tell me what to do." He seemed lost, "I have no clue."

He felt the warmth in his chest spread. Poor, naive Xemnas, but he was his. He'd do anything to show the other what it was like to love and be with someone. No matter what it was his decision, his choice and he chose Xemnas.

With things getting relatively back to normal and a comforting email from Saix explaining that he and Xemnas were living in Twilight Town, Vexen sat back in his chair and sighed relief. It had been the longest, most excruciatingly painful and amusing chapter in his life so far. Glancing to the side he reached over and ruffled the head of pink hair that was sleeping next to him. Marluxia had spent the whole day with Xigbar moving things into a room for him and Vexen. The blond had come back from town with Xaldin and Luxord to find his new bedroom, complete with bookshelves and a desk with a computer so he could work there as well. He smiled now at the memory, wondering if he should do something special for his lover. Ah, yes, lover. He had gotten very comfortable with using that term for the Graceful Assassin. Though it had been a rough start he internally thanked Marluxia every day for never giving up. If it had been himself he'd of given up with the first strike. Perhaps that endearing and stubborn nature was one of the things he fell in love with.

It had been decided between the two of them that they would remain here. Vexen already had plans for working as an apothecary for financial purposes and selling potions through the duck brothers. That would give him plenty of time for research and also cleaning up any lasting impressions the darkness had on the worlds. Xigbar and Demyx naturally wanted to hang around, finding that they didn't mind doing some fieldwork for Vexen as long as they got to explore. The four of them had managed to build quite a bond over the last few months and weren't ready to just let it go now.

As far as Lexeaus and Zexion went the pair was still deciding, though Vexen knew it was a matter of time before the decision was made. He hadn't expected them to hang around here forever. He could sense the desire for a place of their own, though he knew he'd miss their presence. It was funny to realize how much he cared about all of them. Perhaps facing life and death with them by his side had made him realize their value to him or maybe he was just getting soft. He rubbed his fingers against Marluxia's a little harder, but all out of play, knowing whom to blame for his new soft disposition.

Then there was the troublesome three, Larxene, Luxord and Xaldin. He knew Xaldin was already making plans to leave but as far as what the other two would do was beyond him. He hoped Xaldin simply wouldn't leave too much up to fate when it came to Luxord, watching the two of them sidestep around each other was painful even for him.

He was startled out of his thoughts by a gentle, sleepy groan and the hint of blue eyes under a veil of pink hair glancing at him. "Hi, sleepy head." He smiled at him warmly.

"Mmmm." Marluxia grinned and shifted over to nuzzle next to him. "Such a nice thing to see when I wake up." He murmured. "Your smile."

He chuckled faintly and leaned over to rest his head over Marluxia's. "Of course, it was given to me by you." He whispered. "I'll wear it all the time." He was such a sap, but he couldn't help it.

The comment pleased the other man and he purred a little as he snuggled a little closer. "Let's go take a nap in our room."

He made a pleased sound and leaned up, reaching down to take Marluxia's hand and pull him from the chair.

The pink haired assassin got up slowly and grinned at Vexen, before leaning forward and claiming his mouth. A slow deep kiss passed between them and Vexen had a feeling that they weren't going to make it to the bedroom.

He'd given it a lot of thought, pitched the idea to Vexen and Xigbar first and now he was sure of it. He and Luxord were on their way back from town, making small talk but mainly staying quiet. He'd been too immersed in his thoughts to carry on much of a conversation anyways. Taking a deep breath he looked at the blond. "So I had a question."

Luxord looked at him curiously. In the Brit's mind he was wondering if the moment had finally come. Had Xaldin's patience finally wore down and if so could he answer him? "Yeah?"

The Lancer scratching his head, brushing back some of the front strands from his face as he considered how to proceed from here. "I know that those four are gonna stay at the castle and I have a feeling Zexion and Lexeaus will be taking off soon. It made me wonder about what I wanted to do." He sighed. "We're not trying to find out the meaning to our existence or get back to normal now, so I should start thinking about what I want for my life, you know?"

"Yeah?" He could feel his heart already racing and prepared himself. This was it, he'd have to fess up to it and...well, then what? In a panic he wondered if he should stop the man now, second-guessing his readiness.

"I kinda fell into this whole science thing cause I had no where else to go, but...I want to maybe try to make a decision of my own." Xaldin stared ahead, as if looking at Luxord would steal his nerve.

The Brit just wanted him to hurry the bloody hell up before he lost his nerve to listen.

"I want to leave the castle and get my own place...start a bar and...well," He finally looked at him, "would you be willing to come with me?"

Luxord felt all the air leave him. That was it? That was what he'd gotten so worked up about? He stopped walking, still shocked at the question. Leave here with Xaldin? Live with him? The idea had its appeals and yet he worried it might make things worse, what will all these complex feelings flying around. "Go with you?" he muttered.

Xaldin quickly eased the question over a bit. "I was thinking you'd be willing to help me with it, co owner and all that. It'll be our" He looked nervous as hell and Luxord found himself feeling more for him then he expected. The other man averted his gaze, a faint pink to his cheeks. "I just thought...well we get along so well and you hadn't expressed any plans that you might want to," He looked back at him, a look in his violet eyes that seemed to steal the blonde's breath.

He hadn't meant to but time stopped and he stared at Xaldin for a long time before sighing. "God, this is so bloody ridiculous." He grumbled to himself. He'd stopped time for Xaldin, if only to gather his thoughts. Looking at him he wondered when it had happened and if he'd be able to deal with things once all was said and done. However, for now he figured they could just take it a step at a time. Xaldin obviously cared enough about him to not push things and though he was grateful he almost wished one of them would just say it. Taking a step to him he looked at his face, no, he couldn't say Xaldin was unattractive and with each conversation, day and minute that went by he found that he was falling for that face more and more. "You're going to drive me crazy, Xal." He murmured before leaning forward and pressing his lips to the man. It was much different then he expected and though there was a rush of sensations he felt like he was cheating himself by being the only one aware of it. The Lancer wouldn't know it, but it had been done and as he pulled away he felt his knees wobble just the slightest. It took him several more minutes to gain his composure before starting time again.

Xaldin blinked and looked at Luxord who had moved positions in a matter of a second...well a second for him. "You stopped time, didn't you?" he raised a brow, almost a little put off by his question being dodged.

The blond looked at him, with a roguish grin. "I needed time to think?"

"You couldn't just tell me that?" The dark haired man said, brushing his hair back.

Luxord chuckled. "It's more fun the other way." Sighing he turned and stared at the castle in the distance. "I'll go with you." He finally said. "I think that I'd like to own a bar with you." And maybe with a little more time they might actually be able to deal with what seemed to be happening between them.

Xaldin smiled. "All right." Walking over he held out his hand. "Partners?"

Luxord stared at the hand, feeling like Xaldin was asking him a lot more then he actually was, or maybe it was just him. Reaching out he took the hand and shook it, looking the other in the eye. "Partners."

"You mean you guys are leaving?" Larxene's shoulders sagged at the table. She'd made them lunch and the subject of what everyone was going to do now came up. Not that she wasn't happy for the pair, it seemed like they hadn't said their feelings yet but at this rate it was only a matter of time.

"Yup. We're taking off tomorrow, Xal talked to Cid in Traverse Town and he knows a place we can buy." Luxord glanced at Xaldin, a stronger composure about him even if his heart was pounding. He still thought about his secret kiss and decided he'd keep it to himself. He didn't need the rest of the group causing him any more stress.

"Vexen is loaning me some money till we get on our feet." The larger man took a bite of the sandwich. "What about you, what are you going to do?"

She leaned back and crossed her arms, furrowing her brow. "Well like hell I'm gonna stay in the honeymoon castle. I figured I'd just go see what was out there, maybe sightsee a little. Didn't get to do it much before I was in the Organization or much after I was in it."

Luxord nudged Xaldin's foot under the table. The man looked at him and as if they were both thinking the same thing they turned to her. "Come with us." They both said.

"What?" Her eyes snapped to them, a little surprised and wondering if she'd heard them right.

"Come with us, Larx. We could always use an extra set of hands and that way you can kill some time till you find out what you really want to do." Luxord grinned and leaned on the table.

Xaldin nodded. "Yeah, I'd love it if you'd come. We need a woman's touch for this project anyways."

She looked at them, that confident grin filling her lips. "Oh you guys. How can I resist such an invitation? Of course I'll go with you and help out." She laughed and slammed her hands on the table. "It's decided then. Let's go build us a bar."

The following day Zexion and Lexeaus finally found themselves in Vexen's lab. "So that's what we decided." The smaller man finished.

"Well, that sounds like a decent idea. I'm sure Leon and the other's would appreciate your help." Vexen sat down.

"With any luck in a year's time Radiant Garden will be even better than it was before." Lexeaus smirked. "The university there will help educate everyone about the darkness and the keyblades and perhaps stop others from making the same mistake as ourselves."

The blond nodded. "Yes, we certainly do not want a least in our lifetime." He sighed. "Well I won't lie, I'll be sad to see you go, but I expect you to ask if you need help with anything. I am just as responsible as you two for the mess."

Zexion grinned. "Don't worry, when we need anything you're the first person I'm contacting." The two had decided to go to Radiant Garden and help Leon and the Restoration Committee with restoring the world to its previous glory. On top of that they wanted to turn the castle into a university.

Vexen laughed. "Well, it'll much quieter around here once all your troublemakers have left." He snickered. Xaldin and Luxord were leaving today with Larxene. He had no doubt they'd be fine and even if they weren't they were right in town, so it was a quick walk to go and smack some sense into them. "When will you be leaving?" He finally asked.

"Most likely next week. We want to get everything ready and they're setting up some rooms for us at the castle." Zexion leaned against Lexeaus. "It's odd how we're sitting here planning the future when a year ago we didn't have one."

"We're lucky." Lexeaus said. "We have a second chance."

The blond nodded in concurrence. "So we better not waste it."

The blue haired man grinned. "Finally figured that one out?"

"Shut up." The blond laughed.

"You take care of him, Vexen." Lexeaus said with a grin.

"I had every intention of doing just that." He smirked and leaned back, a warm look in his eyes. "Whatever force threw him into my lap I will not argue with it. I've had enough of losing things I love."

The other two looked at each other, both thinking the exact same thing and with a goodnight they left the lab just as Marluxia was coming in.

The pink haired man looked at Vexen. "Dinner?"

The blond looked at him and patted his lap.

Marluxia sauntered over and straddled him in the chair. "Yes?" He grinned playfully.

Vexen ran his fingers in his hair and grinned. Everyone was finding their own way now, so he needed to start making up for things. He'd start tonight. Leaning forward he smiled as his lips pressed against the other man's. "I love you, Marluxia."


It wasn't the easiest hike but they made it down into the ravine in one piece. "How much further?" He asked the smaller man in front.

Zexion glanced over his shoulder. "Just in the cavern a ways. Leon said they never would have found it if the temperature hadn't been so off. It's really faint too."

Vexen actually had to remove his coat as they entered the cave. Marluxia came in after him gasping a little. "Good god could it be any more sweltering in here?"

"I told you that you didn't need the coats." The blue haired man said.

"Of all the places for him to be." Xigbar laughed. "I wonder why he wasn't sending off any stronger anomalies. Everyone else was pretty obvious." He reached back and took Demyx's hand as the blond stumbled. "Easy, little dude." He grinned and pulled him along.

"That's not the strangest thing." Zexion said. "After Leon found him I came down to check myself and well..." He walked into the cavern and gestured. "There, you see?"

"Oh my god." Vexen quickly ran over to him. Kneeling down he glanced at the body.

Marluxia followed. "What is it?" He knelt next to him. "He looks different than the others." The body wasn't partially transparent as if it was missing something.

"He isn't." Vexen was looking it over, pulling things from his bag and examining. "He's whole."

"I thought so. It seemed odd because no matter what I did I couldn't wake him up." Zexion crossed his arms as he watched Vexen work. "I don't really know what to do about him."

The scarred man walked over and glanced down at the newest Container, or should he say Somebody. "Leave it to Axel to be the odd man out." He laughed.

"I'll say. He's completely fine, he's just asleep." Vexen leaned back on his feet. "I...I have no clue what to do. It's like he's just taking a nap."

The man beside him nodded. "So...what is he waiting for?" Marluxia looked at his significant other and raised a brow.

Vexen gave him a puzzled expression before looking defeated. "I can only wonder, but whatever it is it better be worth it. Who knows how long he's been like this."

"So, are we taking him home?" Xigbar patted the blonde's back as he knelt down as well.

"Well we can't just leave him here." The blond growled. "All right, let's get him out of here. I might be able to figure out more once we get him home." Standing up Xigbar and Marluxia leaned down and lifted Axel's body from the ground, the pink haired man tossing him over his shoulder. "Freakin' figures I get him like this and I can't even smack him around a little." Marluxia grumbled.

Demyx raised a brow. "Why would you wanna do that?"

Both Vexen and Marluxia looked at each other. "Let's just say he has it coming."


Authors Note:

Thank you everyone who has taken the time to read Another Life. This was truly a fun story to work on. I've appreciated all of your comments and hopes for the story and hope I managed to deliver something you could all enjoy. If you are curious there will be a second part to this concerning Axel in the near future but I will not be working on it. A friend of mine is taking over that story (I will be helping of course) If you are curious for updates on it check out my deviant art account (Can be accessed from my author's page) and I'll post a link to her account and DA account when she begins posting.

ON another note Xal and Lux will have their own story following this to finish up their little issues as well as some short snippet of Xem/Sai for all of you who felt cheated at the end. Again thank you so much and I hope you continue to read the other stories.