This took so long, but I am EXTREMELY PROUD of where this whole thing is headed. :D This, folks, takes place through most of KHII. Organization XIII's corruption and crisis from two completely points of view corresponding, of course, to Xigbar and Demyx. Faux-romanticism, politics, power struggle and more.
For Mollie & Roxy & Jotaku because they contribute to my inspiration a whole freakin' lot, though I really don't want Roxy to ever read my stuff. XD
For gothboymylove, fiercesunshine, WayToDawn-- well, all the friends I've made in this fandom. Or, eh, the ones interested in this story. Love you all!
(BUT I LOVE MAH XIGGY THE MOST. HAPPY BELATED AXEL & XIGBAR DAY?)
And Then The Demons Vanished
Part One: The Greatest of Thirteen Evils
Prelude to an End
What sound does a shadow make? Assuming, of course, that it's an individual shadow, separate from the dark mass of an alley, the shade of a building or what-have-you.
The trick's to keep alert. Shadows don't need to hear you comin'. I found this out a life and a half ago: they don't hear; they feel. Secondary effect of being able to melt into surfaces in that two-dimensional way they've got. We never did give it a name.
No need to bother with stealth, really, but I wasn't planning to anyway.
Twenty-six, twenty-seven... twenty-nine shadows. I call 'em moving targets when I don't feel like entertaining myself with the thought that I'm killing things for fun (it's not killing per se, I think I told him that, back in the better days). Moving targets all around; it's a nice sight. It's nicer when they can't feel your footsteps because you're not stepping on anything at all. They're confused. They're defenceless. It's not fun, but it's nice. It'll do.
Let the prey be the prey, right? It's raining anyway – there'll be no smell or left-over smoke when I'm done and, because of the water, they wouldn't hear it coming, if they could.
"Hum while you work," he said to me back then. "Hum while you work." They won't hear a thing. (And if I don't hear the water it's because we'll all sink for good.)
With a demure like nothing in the worlds but itself, the perfectly-white circular room was quiet for a while. Thirteen chairs rose high from the ground, impossible to access by any conventional means, yet on seven of them sat seven dark-cloaked figures. The thirteenth chair, unlike the other unoccupied seats, had not been empty for long.
Higher than any other, Xemnas looked upon the members of Organization XIII; the King of Nothing, watchful and just as demure.
"Roxas has reunited with his Somebody," he stated, voice deep and invariably emotionless.
Five cloaked figures turned in his direction instantly. The remaining one stayed still; his hood was pulled back to reveal spiked red hair and a thin face from which a pair of bright green eyes stood out clearly, contrasted by thin, triangular tattoos.
He already knew. Only he had known the thirteenth member's whereabouts before it had come to this.
"We have confirmed his location," the Superior continued. "For now, we will change our strategy and use this to our advantage; we will let him go and help us to complete Kingdom Hearts. He must serve his purpose and be disposed of as soon as he outlives his usefulness, or make himself useless and be eliminated now."
The members of the organization looked expectantly.
"Number Seven," he called. "You are to remain in the castle. The rest of you, go. Do not reveal yourselves to him until I order so, and do not let your guard down. Number Eight… I hope you understand the weight of your failure to defeat Roxas. We will speak about this shortly. Number Two, you will pursue the bearer of the Keyblade in Hollow Bastion for the purpose of collecting information, nothing else."
VIII remained still and II gave but a quick nod – only I's voice would be heard that day.
With that, five Nobodies disappeared through black-purple portals, leaving vague traces of smoke as proof of their passing through the room in The World That Never Was. There wasn't anything else to do, after all. They could do nothing about their fellow non-being.
As expected, Xigbar was the last one to return to the castle.
But the Nobodies did not await each other, nor did they interact on a daily basis. The castle was rarely full, be it daytime or night-time. The spontaneous schedule of their missions, which had increased in number and relevance since their last meeting, kept them separated. And so, Xigbar was greeted by none as he strode slowly through the hallways, headed for his room.
The castle was big enough to make every position within its walls seem empty at all times, but the organization's Number II expected company soon. The same company as always, the same kid who was pretty much the only one still grinning despite everyone else's lack of joviality. He stopped before rounding a corner, listening to the approaching footsteps with a knowing smile.
He quickly teleported in front of the other Nobody. "'Ey, Dem."
Demyx stepped back, startled, before letting out his breath and pulling back the hood of his cloak to meet the greeting with a smile. "Xiggy!"
He smiled with a kind of pleased exasperation, a common reaction around IX. He's gonna stick to that nickname, isn't he?
"How's everything goin' over here?" Xigbar asked, stopping to ruffle Demyx's hair before walking on with the young IX by his side, as usual.
"Everyone's acting weird, even though the Superior let Axel go," the blond explained, looking slightly absent as he continued. "I guess we didn't really expect that to happen."
"He really doesn't remember a thing," the older Nobody commented thoughtfully – it went unsaid that the conversation wasn't about Axel anymore.
At this, IX nodded and dropped his gaze to his own feet as they both walked down the impossibly long hallways that led to their rooms. Xigbar looked at his companion with a slightly worried, slightly sympathetic expression. The boy was usually the least reserved of the lot of them; when Demyx acted like this, Xigbar knew without a doubt that bad things were happening. Resolute, he stopped in his tracks.
"Ya know…" He started, scratching the back of his head. "I guess s'not so much like that. He still gives me the same look."
Demyx stopped as well and turned back to the scarred male, hopeful and curious. "Do you think he remembers you?"
"Maybe his heart does, a little," Xigbar responded. "Aren't you glad he's got one now?"
"We do too," he reminded, much to Xigbar's humour. Sometimes he'd consider the musician's words – the boy could come up with feasible reasons every now and then and, Braig be damned as he would toss in his proverbial grave, his theories sparked Xigbar's seemingly forgotten scientific interest in ways Demyx probably wasn't aware of.
But not this time.
Xigbar simply chuckled and continued to advance. "You sure of that, kid?"
"Of course!" Demyx nodded energetically, confident as he stepped ahead and faced his companion, walking backwards while he spoke in some sort of sing-song voice. "You know it too, you just don't want the Superior to be mad again."
"Who, me? Scared of Xemnas?" The Gunslinger asked, exaggerating his disbelief with a mock-offended expression and a dramatic gesture towards himself. "As if. Better luck next time."
"If you say so," the Nocturne said, snickering lightly. "Anyway, I was supposed to tell you that we've got another meeting tomorrow morning."
"So soon? Damn," Xigbar cursed. "Gonna have to call it a night about now, eh?"
"But you just got back," Demyx complained, crossing his arms in protest. "And it's been as boring as Twilight Town here."
Willingly disregarding the true meaning of Demyx's words for the time being, Xigbar brought a hand to his chin thoughtfully. "Hey, I like Twilight Town."
This, however, appeared to go right over IX's head. "Me too, but still."
The sniper laughed. "I'm not gonna haul your ass all the way to the meeting room again if you oversleep."
"Fiiiine…" A beaten look and a pause – and then Demyx quickly added, "But that was just once."
"Twice!" Xigbar corrected, humoured.
"Okay, okay, I get it," Demyx chuckled, waving his hand dismissively.
"How's about you get some sleep now and I'll see you in the morning?" He proposed with an amiable smile as they reached the door to the ninth bedroom and he, again, ruffled Demyx's hair. "Gotta make sure you make it in time, ya know?"
"Sure, but who's gonna make sure you get up in time?"
He grinned at the sitarist's victorious little smirk. "Touché, squirt, but I've got a mission with Xaldin and he'll be glad to take out my eye if I'm not up at six sharp."
"Alright," the blond laughed. "Then I'll see you tomorrow. 'Night!"
With a wave, Xigbar turned around and opened a portal a few paces ahead of himself, looking forward to unconsciousness – things would get hectic soon, he suspected, and the amount of work that'd bring was surely not his thing. At least he had the morning to think and smile to himself about; it wasn't about favouritism, dubiously possible to start with. It was about as much of a friendship as he could fathom in his current state, about a bit of obliviousness to what was to come.
Things would indeed get hectic soon. He knew.
Roxas had been the detonator. Only the detonator, only the first step. They were all important pieces now, disposable but important, and Demyx… Demyx was a break and a prospect to smile about. Maybe he didn't need to know what Xigbar knew, maybe the touch of obliviousness would be crucial, eventually. At least it was a good thing that the kid wasn't too deeply involved in the organization's shadiest matters yet. And honestly, he reminded himself, such simple things like listening to him sleep-talking the next morning were just too entertaining to pass up.
Wonder if the kid has it in him to figure things out by himself.
He crossed his arms and turned around to look at the teen following him.
The Nocturne chuckled nervously. "Um, yeah?"
He tried to give Demyx a serious look, but soon failed. "Give it up, kid," he said between laughs. "You'll never get it."
"I was pretty close this time," the younger male retorted, pouting.
The simple things, Xigbar noted, were truly the most entertaining. Things like IX's constant attempts to get his hair-tie. Whatever sort of fixation the boy had on doing something to his hair, the Freeshooter wasn't too keen on finding out.
"Yeah, I s'ppose it's better than getting caught ten feet away," he conceded.
"Okay, I'm really going to bed now," IX smiled contentedly, beaten again. "I need to be in top shape so I can try again, right?"
"Good call. 'Night, Dem."
Nah, he doesn't need to know.
His eye stayed locked onto the musician in a contemplative look that would've been unnerving to the blond had he not known better. The man laughed quietly to himself after a few seconds, and shook his head as he turned away and walked off. Demyx recognized the gesture, that of someone who wanted to say something but decided against it, and although he couldn't assign a meaning to it, it did imply things about Xigbar's mood that Demyx hadn't finished understanding either.
It was a pleasant sign, nonetheless.
And maybe that was where it started.
We're falling, baby. The last man alive went down.
There's only rats and snakes left now.
End Chapter 1
Thank you for reading, and do consider reviewing.
Now, I'd like to ask you to step over to my profile and click the link to my DeviantArt account. I've got a few KH things up there already, and as for writing, there's the updated version of Once Upon An Artist's View, plus a header-ish-thing image. Thanks to those of you who have already been there!