Title: Memory's Pages
Genre: Kingdom Hearts, AU/post-KH:CoM
Main Character: Zexion
Pairings: Zexion/Demyx (Ienzo/Myde), hints of Axel/Roxas (Lae/Raos)
Summary: Some memories are never forgotten. They are inscribed forever into the pages of memory.
Some memories are never forgotten.
Some are inscribed forever on those off-white pages, pages twined with every passing thought of those who hold the pen.
Some are so intrinsic to the inscriber that they themselves become what is written into those many pages.
And then, sometimes, all that is left is the words scattered across those many pages, a literary self left to fend for itself once the true counterpart is gone.
It was stale. The not-air around him, the not-ground on which he suddenly stood, even the not-feelings he carried within himself as he glanced around the impossible place with indefinite eyes.
He could remember the screams.
The awful sounds as the Copy advanced and he attempted to retreat.
The screaming and the horrible pain, he remembered…
So, why was he …here now?
The pale shade of a person frowned and tried to make sense of this impossible condition.
Castle Oblivion was always shifting, moving—dancing. Naminé, being the only Nobody to be born there, had always thought this ceaseless motion was appropriate—comforting even.
But there were no Nobodies here anymore.
Perhaps that is why the Castle took it upon itself to send away the items that did not belong.
A silver chair, which Naminé had always loved to perch upon, appeared in the middle of far away world called Narnia.
A spider, escaped from Vexen's lab, appeared in the middle of a place named New York, nearby an unsuspecting photographer.
A strange round, wheel-like seed, forgotten from Marluxia's garden, appeared in a strange world, next to some odd, elephant-nosed, antelope-like creatures.
A lexicon, bound in shadows and silver, appeared on the grounds of another castle, owned by a Beast who courted the likes of a beautiful woman named Belle.
It was Belle who found the book, her delicate hands—so different, she thought, from the ones which belonged to her Beast—carefully opening the pages to see what this strange new book was.
He felt another mind query into his not-world.
Her faint appearance had startled him rather badly the first time. Her soft doe-like eyes and long chocolate hair, but it was her questions that had startled him the most.
Who are you? She asked without a voice.
For that, he had no answer. I am not a who, but a what. He told her, not-feeling the words push through his lips like text from a pen.
She seemed intrigued by this, What are you then?
Nothing, He answered.
But she would not relent, My name is Belle.
He nodded, and somehow this made sense. I am nothing but Memory. He fingered his pale grey-blue hair.
They communicated for a long time, her ghostly appearance fading sometimes, but always coming back later on.
He didn't have any sense of time, but she told him months had passed.
Do you ever get lonely in here? She asked one time, interrupting their discussion of ethics and Plato's works.
He shifted on the not-couch, an item that had appeared as suddenly as her one day, but had never faded. Do you? He touched his chin thoughtfully.
She shook her head with a sharp ink stroke, I have friends outside here.
Belle crossed her legs, her presence here just as ghostly as ever. For once he wondered if that was because she didn't belong here as he did.
I used to have… to know people Outside. He told her with a soft press of a penpoint. He turned his grey eyes from her kindly brown eyes, studying the minute details of his hand.
He remembered suddenly that he used to be as faded as she. He glanced up with a roughly inked tip, nearly tearing the paper of the not-air. Comparing his hand to hers, he realized that he was subtlety more here than she ever would be.
She was silent for a moment, drawing out the space until she spoke her text quietly, You've never mentioned being Outside here before.
I never thought much about it. He shrugged, suddenly very uncomfortable with where this conversation was going.
Belle leaned forward, pushing at him with the absent tapping of the tip of a pen. How did you get trapped in here, then?
The word trapped rang out in bold across the usually stale not-room. The word made him not-feel defensive and vaguely angry for no reason for which he could remember.
I'm not trapped. He snapped, leaving an ink blot in his haste.
She blinked at him, stunned by his display. Then why not leave?
The words would follow him even as she faded from his sight, pulling at his thoughts and twisting his mind into crumpled scraps of paper.
"Belle," Beast spoke from the doorway, nervous to be apart from her since he had nearly lost her before.
She glanced up from the large book, pen stilled in hand as she smiled lightly at him, her expression caring but slightly strained.
His large, but human eyes—the only truly human thing about him sometimes, she thought—fell to the floor, the next words out of his curved mouth were obviously different than the ones he had originally came to speak. "What are you writing?"
A mysterious smile overcame her lips, "I'm writing to a friend." The look in her eyes shifted and she laid the pen back in its inkwell, "But I'm done now. Is dinner ready?"
He sighed in a huff, relieved but still torn into nerves by her presence, "Yes, let's go on down. Mrs. Potts has something special planned." He tried to smile but it felt strange so he stopped. Belle seemed to see it in his eyes, though, and smiled back.
They met constantly still, although Belle informed him that her visits had been broken by many days and weeks—even years sometimes.
He wondered if the strange look sketched across her ghostly face was anything to go by when he told her he had not noticed the time passing.
She told him of her husband, a prince, and he told her that her life sounded like it belonged in a book.
She gave him an odd look for that comment as well.
I feel old. She sighed once, her ink light as if she wished she would have not written it.
He smiled kindly with soft edges, You'll never be old to me.
Her doe-like eyes laid on him, and suddenly her ghostly form seemed to be so very different then her once joyful, young, and well-inked pen. I know, She told him, And somehow that makes me feel older. A far away look drawn along her pale face.
"What are we going to do with all these books?" A lovely woman asked, her soft hands picking through the once-carefully handled library.
Her sandy-haired counterpart shrugs, he takes more after their father. "It's ours now. No one to tell us differently." He shifted on his feet, his voice angry but his shoulders telling differently.
She wraps her arms around her brother, "She lived a long life." She murmured into his satin shirt. "Now she's back with father. You know how miserable she was without him."
Her only response was the tightening of the arms around her and the soft sob in her hair.
So used he was to Belle's coming and going that he didn't notice at first that this mind was different.
Hello? The voice was softer and lighter then he remembered.
How are you? He responded politely, not glancing up from his seat on the soft couch.
A silent moment, then—Who are you?
He knits pale brows together. I am…? His grey eyes take in the wispy form. She… looks a lot like Belle. Her same soft brown hair, doe-like eyes… but something is different. Who is it that calls me? He answered with a faint question, shifting slightly in his seat.
The answer goes unwritten and she soon fades from his sight.
He frowns softly, as he watches the not-walls wisp a little less..
"What do we do with it?" The small boy wondered at the strange but alluring book in his hands.
"Bury it. Burn it. I don't care. It's evil." Came the answer, muffled behind stacks of other books, ready to be shelved.
The small shopclerk's lips twisted in a horrified way, shocked at this coldness from his employer, a great lover of anything bound in paper and twine.
Yellow eyes glint from behind the towers of beloved text, something almost—animalistic about those eyes, "It has brought nothing but pain and misery to me. Destroy it. It is cursed."
"Cursed sir?" Is the shaky reply.
"It's killed my mother and now my sister. Take it away from me. Destroy it!" He roars, sending his chair skidding across the floor as he stands harshly and clomps away, his sandy hair leaving a trail as it breezes behind him.
The boy draws his brows together, eyeing the book warily. "How could a book kill anyone?" He wonders aloud.
He doesn't have it in him to destroy the text, though, so he shuts it in an old trunk under many quilts.
He sells it, the next day, to an old woman with nack for collecting strange odds and ends. The shopclerk wonders if that will please his master, but decides not to mention it.
The week after next, he buys out a store of lucky charms and hides within the church, refusing to leave.
His employer is dead—surely it will be him next.
He dreams, once, of being in a place that was endlessly safe. He listens to the sound sounds around him and smiles. He is safe and he is loved here.
It is a simple feeling, but a purely content one.
He screams then when that safe place is destroyed, he is ripped from it and thrown carelessly into a world of noise sharp like knives, smells overwhelming like having salt water raked through his lungs, and huge powerful images that are each mixed into the next, making no sense at all, every new color burning into his retinas.
Then warmth surrounds him once more. And he knows—he is loved here too.
As long as he follows the smell of the ocean, he will always be loved. As endlessly as the ocean.
Strolling through the various stores, without a care.
The blond chews on his sucker, even as his mother's rant plays on and on in his head. Nag, nag, nag. He continues to chew, getting all the sharp sugar jammed into his poor, poor teeth.
Then the stick topples from his mouth. Blue-green eyes drawn towards an old, horribly rotten, and beat up trunk.
He thinks he's in love.
He had waited on Belle's return, but instead he received yet another stranger in his midst.
Hello, so… I found this cool book, right— The voice began suddenly and didn't stop its monolog right away. It was like… he was rambling on and on—but to himself and no one else.
Who are you? He interrupted with a cautious query, his piercing grey eyes resting on the slowly forming shape of another person.
Something else began to be said, but was roughly erased before he could see it. He heard a sharp laugh, which made his thoughts scatter. How long had it been since he had heard something?
Shouldn't I be asking you that? The reply was scribbled out in pencil, much sloppier than he had encountered before. The strangeness of the whole thing snapped the slate-haired male from his thoughts.
I asked first. He jotted back, grey eyes unmoving from the wispy form in the corner of the not-room.
Another sharp laugh. So you did, Blue eyes formed out of the not-air. But I'm not in the habit of giving strange books my name.
There was something in the not-air. It… smelled like salt and music sheets. Like tensed strings and afternoons spent strumming them.
Books? He echoed, unsure of how to deal with these strange sensations, I am not a book. The words were inked out without the certainty he had wanted—instead almost a question hung at the end of the statement.
Yeah, you are. Blue eyes, with just a hint of green, ghostly but still there, were draped in dirty blond hair, wispy in shape as the boy's face came into focus.
A spark of some strange… feeling jolted through him, and his usually impassive face twisted into a snarl. Leave. Me. Alone.
There was an odd sensation of pushing the invading mind out and a loud SLAM.
He stood, his pale hands twisted in stale-colored hair, almost confused of what had just happened, the silence echoing through the empty space left behind.
"What the FUCK!" The blond yelped as the book clapped shut, his pencil clattering across the table.
He stared at the black and silver book for a moment. Blue-green eyes studying the strange symbols carved into its binding, the title written in a language he didn't know.
Running a calming hand through his gelled hair, the boy frowned. "A talking book with an attitude problem. Seriously, what the freaking hell."
He sat down on the stale couch, fingering its patterned whirls and words.
It was strange—to have time.
He recalled the many things Belle and he had discussed. He remembered their last conversation.
She had seemed sad, he remembered.
He wondered what she was sad about. Why she wasn't coming anymore—because why else would another person appear then? Perhaps she had given him up to someone else.
Something wet landed on his hand as he rested his head on it.
Touching his face, he realized his eyes were leaking water.
"You've GOT to see this." The blond bounced up to his friend, toting his sky-blue backpack, complete with green and orange plaid patches and doodled music notes all over it.
The identified redhead turned with a raised pierced, auburn brow. "What've you got to show me? I've been waiting for like twenty minutes for you."
The dirty-blond haired boy stuck his bottom lip out in a practiced pout, "I didn't mean to keep you waiting. I got lost on the train." He pointed at the offending transportation with a warmly gloved hand.
The taller boy huffed out a misty white breath in the cold air around them, "I could have picked you up, you know." He absently fixed his wild, fire-like hair back into its tie—literally a checkerboard suit tie was being used to control his insane hair. When his hair was pulled back from his face, one could see the teardrop-like birthmarks under his eyes that he hadn't bothered to cover with makeup that day.
"Isn't that Raos's tie?" The shorter blond muttered crossly—getting only a smirk in response—before bouncing back into his usual cheerful attitude, "Oh yea! I've found something totally awesome to show you. C'mon!" He grabbed his friend's trenchcoat sleeve and yanked the lanky redhead along after him.
"This… ing… to be… SO aweso…." A voice filtered through his mind.
He jerked his head around, looking for a source for the sound but found nothing.
It was, however, quickly followed by a faint… scent of sand, tides, and fingers callused from playing long into the night.
Hello? He called out with careful script.
"See! …told …ou!" The sound seemed to bleed into the not-air around him, without a source, but seemingly like it was still far away. Random noises of clanging ceramic and murmuring chatter filled in the usually bland, off-white not-walls.
Who's there? He scribed a little more irritably, the flicker of anger passing through him before he could control it.
Yo, an even sloppier voice scribbled. Two forms beginning to appear on the other side of the not-room. This one already had piercing green eyes. Those eyes bothered him for some reason…
Hope you don't mind, I brought someone. The person from before grinned widely from his wispy state. He's cool, I promise.
Delightful. He replied with a sarcastic edge to his text. And who are you?
The blond bit his lip for a second, more of his face fading into shape. We'll tell you our names if you tell us yours.
The pale person touched his chin with a small hand, I don't hav… His pen jolted to a stop in the middle of the word, because the statement was somehow… not longer true.
He did have a name.
The taller ghostly boy leaned forward, his hair blowing into shape like a mass of fire. You there little writer?
What? The blond drew back nervously.
My name. The slate-haired person wrote out lightly, his pen barely touching the paper.
He so lost in sudden memories he didn't read anymore of their questions.
He could remember the screams.
The redhead glanced nervously at his friend. The blond hadn't moved after his furious scribbling into the book.
Now the dirty blond just stared at the book, as if waiting for a reply, but he seemed to know nothing more was coming.
"Myde…" The taller boy began.
The slightly older, but shorter boy interrupted, "Where is he?" He asked in a dead voice.
The lanky redhead sighed. "Myde, I don't think that's the best—"
"Where. Is. He." Hard blue-green eyes turned on green—eyes that were usually full of ocean and music, were suddenly hard and cold.
Time continued to pass.
He found himself on the not-floor with wetness down his cheeks.
As he slowly came out of the memories—piercing green eyes, something both shared—he pushed himself up with shaking arms—painfully pale music, played by emotionless fingers, wafting through the blindingly white hallways—and then crashed down into the—curiosity, greed, and a hint of fear as the Door opened wide, and then the Darkness escaped—softly sketched couch.
He curled up tightly like a spiral, stiff and sharp fingers—the constant inhuman way every Nobody moved, like some extra few joints had been put where none had been Before—dug into the gentle skin of his scalp, and eyes held so tensely shut—stiffly gelled blond hair between his leather gloved fingers—as if that thin layer of skin and pale eyelashes could protect him—it was all their fault, as those awful yellow glinting eyes moved forward, clawed hands reaching—from the onslaught of images and sensations.
He could remember the screams.
"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck." The blond chewed on his lip as he all but hurled himself through the crowd as he listened to his phone ring and ring.
"Fuck. C'mon you bloody fucker, Ienzo answer your goddamn cell." He growled, too worried to realize the looks he was getting as he whipped through the people like a fish swimming upstream.
The book, wrapped in shadows and silver, was tucked carefully under his arm; the hand gripping the edge had gone white at the knuckles long ago.
Suddenly the world shunted sideways.
One eye saw the stale not-walls, faded at the edges, of the not-room.
One eye saw a puke-colored tiled floor, the feeling of his own fingers gripping into the skin of his face.
Like being torn into pieces at the same time as being smashed like an ill-fitting puzzle piece into an empty space.
Like a broken work of art, the boy laid out on the cold floor—pale grey-blue hair draped over a face thick with sweat and salty tears. A mockery made of the fact the boy was still wearing the sad green vest that identified him as a worker.
The blond had stilled, his mind needing the time to process the horrific image. Then he jolted forward and to the ground. The book of silvers and greys skidded across the tiles. His haste making him sloppy as his shaking hands lifted the pale boy's head into his lap.
Quivering fingers combed his precious one's washed out hair from his harshly quaking face.
The blond attempted to speak, but all that came out was a damaged sound. He licked his chapped lips and tried again. "Zexion," He crooned in a broken tone. "Zexy, please wake up." He licked his lips again, trying to coax the tension from his voice. "Ienzo please, oh god please, wake up."
—Green eyes, two pairs, watch him like cats watch a trapped mouse. One a Copy, the other a Fake.
"You won't be someone else's copy. You'll be you."
He raised his own soft grey eyes in confusion. Perhaps—if he had been more aware—if he hadn't been so exhausted—if he hadn't trusted that smirk, full of charred forests and embers—if he had thought to guard himself in such a weak state…
"Axel! What are you telling him?!"
"You know, I bet he's as good a place to start as any."
He takes a step back. Surely the Fake is joking. Surely He wouldn't—?
"Have you lost your mind—" Choked off in the middle of a word, he struggles in his weakened state against the hands that tighten around his neck.
He can't breathe. He can't breathe.
"Sorry, Zexy. I won't be saving you."
The burning starts at his neck, from the Copy's fingers, slowly and methodically spreads, overwhelming his mind with agony as each of his cells scream out in revulsion.
The countless millions of screams merge into one horrific sound tearing his throat apart in its haste to escape—
All he could remember were the screams.
It drowned out any other thought—any other distraction—any other feeling.
—All six stood, in varying degrees of anxiety as they all set up their instruments. Braig—he was so calm back then, before he gave up everything to do with science in his own form of useless mourning—flashed him a wide grin as he aimed carefully.
Elaeus shut the door tight, securing it against the outside, as if someone might intrude—this, of course, proved to be our undoing really, for we were all too arrogant in our own right to even think that we might need an escape—and lifted his heavy arm in a thumbs up.
Checking over last minute calculations, Even's brown hair might as well have been going white even then. Dilan laid a hand on the older apprentice's shoulder, earning the tightly braided, redhaired man a sour look, but Even did leave his numbers alone.
Even Xehanort, the ever stoic boy, looked practically giddy.
He smirked to himself, brushing his almost black hair from soft grey eyes, as he pondered again the infinite knowledge they would possess after this.
Master Ansem's warnings were ludicrous and laughable in the face of this.
Really, to think we would have backed down from all we could learn just because our Teacher was scared of the Dark.
It felt good to have rid ourselves of him. Soon we would have all the answers we would ever need.
We all took our spots.
We had checked everything hundreds of times.
Nothing could go wrong.
And then everything did—
All he could remember were the god-so-awful-fucking screams.
—Braig was first, Dark claws raking his copper skin, coloring it deep red.
He didn't even think anyone knew the sounds escaping them; their mouths open in endless noise. They just ran.
They pounded on the door.
Elaeus was dragged away from us. The terror in those amber eyes will never leave. It will stay and haunt the man every time he picks up his hammer and the Darkness that is his element throws itself to his command.
Even and Dilan are beating them back with everything they can. Test tubes shatter across the tiles, the wreckage of their pride, of their arrogance—all their work is useless now.
Xehanort is nowhere to be found.
Then they come for him, as he tears at them with bare hands and teeth. He can think of nothing but the Darkness surrounding him—it is terrifying, he thinks he knows why Ansem feared it so.
The Darkness reaches for him, hungry within its depths. It doesn't stop, it doesn't hesitant. It doesn't even think. It just consumes.
He knows what is coming. He's seen it happen to their test subjects. He's laughed at their faces as they look into the Darkness.
He knows he will never laugh again. He knows—as the Darkness invades every pore of his being, his light, like a dim candle, the Darkness invades it and envelops it, takes it, steals it—he knows that he will never feel again. That he will never see the stars and stare in awe. That he will never feel salty tears crawl down his face. That he will never quake as he does now, in complete and utter horror.
He catches one glimpse—one last glimpse of what will become his obsession in the coming years—and it is… beautiful.
He wonders how anyone can give up anything so goddamn beautiful—and then his world is an endless scream as the Hollowness takes him, body and soul, trying to force him into Nothingness.
It takes him, body and soul, and tears him apart—
They echoed through everything. Endless screams.
But that proved to be too much—the mind can only take so much.
And his broken world went mercifully black.
When he woke, the world was a tender blue-green.
And he knew he would be safe and loved. Endlessly like the ocean.
A/N: You're not really supposed to understand. That's the beauty of it really.