"And you claim to be...how old?"
Edmy bit his lip nervously, wondering what the point of this thorough physical examination was. "F-fifteen. Uh, sir," he added as an afterthought.
The tall, icy-pale doctor performing the exam almost came close to smiling a bit for the first time. His voice was still as cold and clinical as ever. "Your body mass index is below the third percentile for your age, even accounting for your short stature..." Well, maybe if I got more decent food on a regular basis, I'd be bigger, Edmy thought but didn't say. "Malnourished, it appears." The doctor snorted. "Perhaps Five can make a project out of knocking you into fighting shape." Edmy didn't like the sound of that, and it wasn't close to the first thing he'd heard today that he didn't like the sound of, but the Iceman didn't seem to care. "Other than that, you appear to be more-or-less healthy..." Only more-or-less? "...so you are hereby released, at least from my supervision. Your new uniform is in that chair."
Edmy looked at the folded pants, long coat, and boots in the chair - all of them looked much too big. "Um...where do I go from here? Sir?"
The Iceman shrugged impatiently - even the air around him seemed cold. "Back to your room, I presume. Unless Two has instructed you to go elsewhere after your examination."
Two? Was he supposed to call everyone by number? He knew he'd already been assigned Number Nine, but was he going to have to answer to that for the rest of his life? Well, the guy with the ponytail - the one who'd hauled him in off the streets - had told him to call him Xigbar; maybe the numbers thing was just a formality, because this guy looked like formality defined... "Um...where is my room?"
Iceman actually smiled, but it was as frigid and humorless as a funeral in Siberia. "Third right, second left, down the stairs, turn right, first right, on the left; your number will be on the door. Your room is right next to Eight's...much to your misfortune."
Well, numerically, that made sense, but something about the way he'd said it... "What's he like?"
"He arrived only two weeks ago. His element is fire. As for his personality..." Again, that icy, humorless smile. "No doubt you will be able to form your own conclusions after meeting him." The Iceman made for the door.
"Wait - what's your name? Uh, sir?"
The Iceman turned and glared at him, and Edmy wondered if he'd broken some taboo. "...Vexen. But I expect to be called Four." The door closed before Edmy really had time to process that information.
As he'd expected, the clothing was two sizes too big. He put it on anyway, because he didn't especially want the old clothes he'd been wearing when he got here back for anything but maybe rags. When he checked the mirror, he looked even smaller than he actually was, but that didn't especially bother him - he was more fascinated by his skin. He'd always thought he would look better with either dark hair or light skin, instead of having light hair and dark skin, and now, all of a sudden, his skin tone wasn't all that much darker than Vexen's, certainly much paler than it had been. He had to admit, he wasn't sure it was an improvement. He looked...well, less like himself. He sighed, shook his head, and tried to find his assigned room.
By then, he'd forgotten most of Vexen's directions, and had to keep going back to the examination room to reorient himself before trying again. It was almost an hour before he actually found his room. When he finally found it, he wanted to peel off his oversized boots and voluminous coat and flop on his bed and think about this crazy day and his new life, but first, he listened in at the door next to his for a few minutes - good. The room was apparently unoccupied. The mysterious, potentially dangerous Number Eight, whoever he was - Edmy prayed he wasn't the blue-haired man with glowing eyes - wasn't in. Edmy peeled off his too-large coat and boots and lay down - the bed was soft, not stiff like he'd expected, considering how sparse the rest of the room was. Well, maybe he'd be allowed to decorate. He'd intended to lie back and think about the crazy turn his life had just taken, how instead of freezing to death and going on to another life he'd come back to his own body minus his heart, how this Organization he'd suddenly found himself part of was made up of those who had lost their hearts in similar fashion, whether his yet-unseen neighbor was going to kill him as soon as he got back...but instead, he wound up falling asleep.
He fell off the bed when someone knocked on the door suddenly. "C-come in," he stammered, before realizing that was probably the last thing he wanted them to do.
The door opened to reveal an impossibly tall, rake-thin man whose fiery hair and tattooed face made him look very much like a demon. Vexen had said Eight's element was fire, hadn't he? Fire certainly seemed to fit this guy...he was probably a pyromaniac, emphasis on maniac...he'd probably be a terrible bully...Edmy was no kind of fighter, and he didn't even know what his element was yet...maybe, if he was really lucky, it would be something like water, but with his usual luck he'd come up with something really, really flammable..."I guess you're the new guy...my name's Axel, that's A-X-E-L, got it memorized? How about yourself?"
"Edmy..." He'd learned long ago never to trust friendly overtures, because no one was ever friendly to him unless they wanted to hurt him somehow. At least, from this guy, it was probably just beating and belittling...though he couldn't know for sure until later. Just beating and belittling? He was hoping for that? How pathetic could he get?
Axel shook his head, grinning recklessly. "Won't be for long. Eventually, they'll figure out a new name for you."
"...What?" Edmy felt incredibly stupid all of a sudden, even though he was pretty sure no one had mentioned this part to him earlier.
"They didn't tell you about that part? Jackasses...basically, it's just your old name, with the letters rearranged, and an X thrown in there somewhere." Axel leaned on the doorframe, apparently as relaxed and comfortable as if he was the master of the castle. "Do you know what your element is yet?" Edmy shook his head. "Ah...well, they'll make sure you figure that out soon enough...Are you just not talkative, or are you really shy?"
"...Both." Edmy didn't know what else to say. He wondered briefly - if he'd been born into better circumstances, where he wasn't on the low rung of the social latter all by himself, might he have been more talkative, more confident, a better person overall? Too late...
"Anyone show you around yet? I don't have anything better to do...well, I guess I do, I just don't want to..." Axel took five steps into the room, and Edmy panicked...and something happened. He watched in subsequent horror as Axel wiped water out of his face. "Okay, please don't do that again."
Edmy wanted to hide under the bed, or sink into the floor. "I'm so sorry..." he squeaked.
Axel sighed heavily and muttered to himself; Edmy strained to hear what he was saying. "Do not bite the little kid's head off, he probably got beaten up by his father every day of his life or something, that's why he's scared to let anyone get close to him..."
"I'm not a little kid."
Axel stared at him in amazement, either because he'd actually spoken up without being prompted or because he couldn't believe Edmy wasn't as young as he looked. "You're how old? Eleven? Twelve?"
"Fifteen. And my father never beat me up. I didn't even know him." Edmy huddled into a ball, wondering what Axel was going to think of him now.
"You're...fifteen?!" Axel looked like he could barely believe his ears. "We've gotta get some food in you. Come on." Without giving Edmy a chance to protest, Axel grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet. "First stop on the tour, the kitchen. Ever had sea salt ice cream?"
"...That's a flavor?!"
"I know, it sounds pretty nasty, but it's really good...I only tried it a couple weeks ago and I wouldn't eat anything else if I could..." As Axel led him away, Edmy started to wonder if maybe this wasn't going to be so bad after all.
AN: I felt like doing something more lighthearted. After kicking around a few ideas, this is what I decided on.
Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts, got it memorized?