Xigbar can only think of two ways in which a Nobody can go about their villainhood.

They can suppress it, let their good and evil sides battle it out and wreak havoc on their non-emotions. Axel does it. The evil is loosing. Saïx does it. The evil is winning.

Or, like others, they can live it. Larxene and Marluxia, for example, have become much happier since they let go.

There is a third way, Xigbar supposes, one he's been trying to avoid. Nobodies can become consumed by their evil, so much so that they become the very embodiment of it. Xemnas is this embodiment.

But the change isn't the kind one expects. It isn't as if Xemnas has been possessed or lost to some mysterious force. He is still Xehanort, but a stranger, more warped version (who prefers a different name). To Xigbar, its as if the parts of Xehanort he liked have shifted to the other side. Now he's Xemnas, all of Xehanort's ominous Freudian slips and sadistic tendencies brought to the forefront. Now it's all the parts he doesn't like.

But still, consumed is the right word. The evil has shaped him, surrounded him. Xemnas is the perfect villain, every tendency a well known cliche, every rant so smoothly dark that it must have been rehearsed. His personality is so flawless that it seems there is no personality at all. Xigbar finds it impossible to be friends with that.

So he gives up trying, and yet somehow keeps his position in the chair room. Well he isn't surprised. He's a damn good shot. And he's kept secret what matters.

Maybe the Superior sees his coldness as another version of prevailing evil- although most of his villainhood comes from awareness of their situation. Xigbar is surviving. He does what needs to be done. But yes, he thinks, maybe if he actually tried, he could go somewhere with his abilities.

And then he gets assigned to Demyx.

And suddenly, he wonders if he really knows as much as he thinks. The superior's tone is unchanging, but he hears a quickened heart, and half catches a smirk tugging at the man's mouth.

"Our newest member is your responsibility."

"With all due respect, sir, my hands are still pretty full with Axel..."

"I'm sure you'll manage."

And he knew he was not to question it anymore.

He gets Zexion to fill him in.

Apparently Xaldin was on a mission. And Xemnas promised Vexen he didn't have to have anyone because it shut him up. And Lexaeus has his hands full with something... classified.

"What about you?"

Zexion shrugs.

"I'll take the next one if you'd like."

Xigbar grumbles.

The new recruit is waiting in the holding cell, and at once, he can see what Xemnas was smirking about.

The floor is soaked. Xigbar approaches the cell.

"Ah! Don't hurt me!"

The neophyte cowers, and another wave (because that cannot be the first...) surges through the bars.

Xigbar thinks fast, the space around him bends and guides the water elsewhere, around him.

"Wow!" the Nobody gasps, straightening from his place in the corner. "How you learn to do THAT?"

Xigbar smirks a secret smile.

"The hard way, from my other pupil." Before he met Axel, Xigbar hardly ever tied his hair back...

The boy in the cell doesn't understand, and his cause for enthusiasm is lost in his confusion.

"Will you tell me what's going on. And- uh- pupil?"

Xigbar leans against the bars.

"Yeah, kid. You're not alone anymore. You're part of something big. Or at least you will be. For now, you're the student, and I'm the teacher. So I'm gonna let you out now."

The boy seems wrapped up in Xigbar's words. But a second later, he makes eyes contact and says hesitantly "Um... if you think it's safe- I can't control..."

Oh boy. He's going to have the time of his life with this confident go-getter.

The lock picks itself and the door slides over without a touch. The boy winces, but is otherwise still, and Xigbar keeps his guard up and is otherwise quite dry.

"I'm Demyx," he says, and it sounds like it might be the first time either of them hear it out loud.

"Xigbar, Number two in the Organization."

Demyx looks confused.

"I thought I was the third of the-"

"You are," Xigbar grunts. "Now come on, I've got a shitload of work to do..."

He's never seen anything like this kid. Saïx was uncontrollable, Axel was a spastic smart ass, but Demyx... is nothing. He masters his element in record time, only speaks when spoken to, only does what he's told. He is so perfect and obedient that it's as if he has no personality at all.

It baffles him. How talented this kid must be to get things that fast... But so far, Demyx has been too scared to think for himself. And Xigbar gets so fed up with gap between Axel's overkill and Demyx's lack thereof that he finds himself trying to force little bits of emotion out of the boy. He makes Demyx eat lunch with him, makes him train a little harder, keeps him up later to see what he does.

But the Nobody takes it all, and finally Xigbar invites himself into Demyx's room one morning and sits on the desk chair until he wakes up. Maybe he will see a hint of what's under the mask- or if there is a mask at all.

And finally, finally, the Nobody yawns and stretches out, and sits up to begin the day.

Xigbar's jaw drops.

There are no lines, no bed head, no confused look or question as to why the Superior's right hand man is watching him sleep. Only: "Oh hi Xigbar."

Xigbar gives up and makes for the door. He doesn't expect complaint- he never gets it from the kid anyway.

"Uh wait!"

He turns so sharply on his heel that he is almost thrown off balance- almost.

"Yeah?" he manages to say, coolly.

Demyx looks slightly panicked.

"Uh... I won't be long getting ready- then we can go eat breakfast?"

He clamours out of bed, and lo and behold, he is not wearing pyjamas, but his uniform.

He pauses on his way to the bathroom, glancing at Xigbar.

"Please, please sit down? You scare me when you don't move."

And then he moves toward the bathroom where he gasps, "ah! I hate my hair!"

Xigbar sits on the bed.

What. The. F-

"Ew morning breath!"

So there's a person in there after all – a paranoid, laid-back, self-scrutinizing, cute, disciplined, emotionally dependent person.

And that makes no sense... but somehow, it all fits into what has just happened.

Xigbar realizes it's just further proof. Demyx is balanced.

And now he's happy that the kid is something after all- something real.

Demyx comes out looking slightly more refined and says "sorry you had to see that Xigbar. Are we going now?"

Xigbar says nothing and Demyx falters.

"Er- that's okay right? I just thought- it's what we do every morning because Axel always sleeps in and..."

He trails off, eyes shifting and then meeting Xigbar's expectantly. This kid has put up with his shit for days now, and yet somehow it seems like Demyx actually likes him.

Nah... Demyx just wants to do good, so he sleeps in his uniform and follows directions. But when Xigbar really thinks about it, he can't find any reason as to why the boy hadn't even jumped at Xigbar's sudden presence. Maybe the kid knows something he doesn't... something about him...?

Xigbar blinks.

Holy shit.

He likes Demyx.

"I've never seen anything like you kid," he grunts, and that's as close to the truth as he's going to get. "Let's go."

Demyx is the perfect student, and Xigbar is grateful.

He listens, uses the tactics Xigbar recommends- surround the field with your element, never stop moving, be everywhere where the enemy is vulnerable and you're not- almost to a fault.

But Xigbar notices something else. Demyx's not so perfect side is starting to seep out. He's not the ideal neophyte any more, and Xigbar will have to do something about that soon. He likes it, likes seeing the influence both he and Axel have made on the boy, likes watching the blush as Demyx realizes he's said the wrong thing. He likes the confusion and uncertainty- it's a breath of fresh air. He finds it impossible not to be friends with that.

For a little while, Xigbar even forgets that they're supposed to be the villains. Nobodies have their ways of coping with the evils inside them. He knows that much. Axel is getting better at hiding the inner struggle since Roxas showed up. Saïx has found a way to channel his anger. Larxene and Marluxia have a mutiny in the works because evidently being in Organization XIII and messing with a little boy's head is not evil enough for them. Xemnas is unchanging and that makes him weak. He also likes Xigbar but has a sadistic streak. Xigbar knows that much.

What he doesn't much about is the evil inside Demyx. In fact Number IX and evil don't really fit together. He knows he's a Nobody, and a good fighter when he really wants to be. But Demyx challenges Xigbar's idea of Nobodies and of himself. Every since he saw the boy in the holding cell, Xigbar knows he's changed in some way- but maybe not in a way one expects,

Demyx isn't attached to his villainy. It's somewhere away from him, powerless to fully invade. Xigbar imagines it as some sort of tentacled monster, making ill-intended stabs at the Nobody, taking bits of his day, making him laugh at cruel jokes, and squish ants under his thumb.

He catches it from far away, when Demyx forgets about him. But really, when Xigbar is with Demyx, he can't find that boy's evil anywhere. He can't find his own either.

Maybe Demyx doesn't see his coldness. Maybe when he's with Demyx, he's doesn't have to merely survive. Maybe he can almost call it living.

A/N: I really enjoyed writing this. Hopefully it's a good remedy to the Xigbar in Hollow Flowers. Like the majority of the fics I write, I like to walk the line between slash and friendship. All I can say is read between the lines and draw your own conclusion. I think they're great together either way. I tried my best to stick to canon- meaning Demyx and Xigbar's behaviour in the game. Because when everyone who survived Oblivion appears in Hollow Bastion and make fun of Sora, Demyx is one of the people laughing (if you listen, he has the most high pitched voice .), and Xigbar always seemed to have a more down-trodden, wiser side to him.

I also like the idea of the original six taking responsibility for the neophytes- and Xigbar somehow getting Axel and Demyx. It explains the familiarity Saïx has with Xemnas. Xigbar, Axel, and Demyx, to me all have similar fighting styles- when you fight with them, there is a lot of fire/water/bullet-things on the field, almost like they use their element to overwhelm you. The three of them are also very fast.

Xaldin and Luxord also have similar calm, knowing personalities, and I could see Zexion and Lexaeus's 'friendship' translating into one between Marluxia and Larxene. And yes, I'm sure Vexen would have bitched about having to train someone. Lastly, we all know how much interest Xemnas showed in Roxas, and despite how Xigbar views him in this fic, I always figured Xemnas had a twisted paternal side.

And yeah, I think I just made my own AU. Cool. Sorry if you decided to read all that...

Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts I or II. They belong to Squeenix and Disney.