At three o'clock on October the Fourteenth, Roxas found himself born - completely against his will, he might add - into a world that had too damned much dark in it, a world that didn't want him any more than he wanted it. Upon reflection, he realized that he'd probably come into existence scowling, which went a long way towards explaining his disposition ever since.
He knew, somehow - instinctively - that this place had some kind of connection to the very core of his being, that he and the darkness were inseparable, somehow. But that didn't mean he liked it, and Roxas figured out pretty quickly that he could be a master of willful self-deception.
After all, there was something about darkness that made one unable to see; and Roxas thought that, even with no memory of experience to base it on, he might prefer sight, thank you very much.
He was never precisely sure how he managed to force himself out into the world of the living, except that it was distinctly uncomfortable in ways he wasn't quite positive that he wanted to discuss. As for the question of why he'd picked Twilight Town - well, that one was easy enough.
Everywhere else seemed to just radiate this self-righteous group-therapy-session fucking goodness in amounts copious enough that he was sure it burned an imprint on his soul. Not that he had any problem with goodness as a rule, of course, but the particular brand of friendship-touting craziness other worlds just exuded was almost more than he could take.
So Twilight Town, then, was a nice compromise.
When he finally had to leave the place, dragged away by some man in so much black leather he looked like he came from some kinky sex club, he felt a twinge of what might have been regret… or might have been a nervous instinct. But luckily for him, there had never been anyone there to tell him not to walk away with strangers in bondage gear.
That was the way it went with all new members, he found out later - you cornered them in a forest, gave a name away to them like less intellectual perverts might have handed out candy, then promised them more of what they wanted if they followed you back to where you lived and agreed to put on the sex club outfit.
There was, of course, nothing at all out of the ordinary about this.
"He doesn't look like much, does he?" came a drawled snark from across the room, and Roxas scowled even deeper than he had been before.
Out of some deeply rooted sadistic urge, he suspected, Xemnas - that was the name of his new leader, apparently - had decided to put Roxas on display in the Organization's council room , to undergo some kind of interrogation at the hands of the rest of the members. They were all just as bad as their master.
To make it all worse, he had been coerced into the black leather trench coat, same as the rest of them, and that, plus the fact that he was the only one in the room without his hood up, made it very, very awkward to stand in front of a whole group of people who were likely ogling his ass. The outfit made him feel like rape-bait, to be entirely honest, and being looked down upon by a bunch of assholes in pure-white, levitating chairs didn't make things much better.
"The Superior believes he may be worthy," intoned another from the opposite end, voice rumbling and full of silky amusement.
"He looks like a pansy-ass," came another drawled voice - female this time, and more than a little bit creepy. "I could take him, no problem." The blonde could tell who was speaking, this time, because her chair raised itself by at least five feet.
"You think you could take anyone," another responded, amused. "You couldn't take Demyx, if he got it in his little head to kick your ass." This one's chair raised itself, too - it must have been some kind of pathetic power-play, like a giant pissing-game. See how high you can get before you piss off the boss.
"I don't know if this one could,though," interrupted another, clearly referring to the blonde. His voice was deep and promised all kinds of pain, and not in a good sort of way.
Roxas was beginning to lose his patience. There was only so long he could stand there as other people tore into him.
"Will you all shut the hell up?" he finally burst out, anger suddenly negating the awkwardness of having everyone staring directly at him, again, instead of at each other. "I don't even know why it matters who can beat the shit out of who, but if you're really so eager to have a try at me, then get off your fucking high horse and come try it!"
As soon as the words left his mouth, there was a flash - and when it was gone, it left behind two weapons - he knew they were weapons, somehow, in an instinct born of he didn't even know what, though the likelihood of a key being a viable weapon was, logically, negligible. But, it felt right, for that moment, and he fell back into a guarding stance almost instantly.
When he looked back on the moment later, he never could understand why that didn't strike him as the least bit strange. Surely that would have caught any sane person off their guard.
No one else seemed too surprised by it either - instead of gasps of incredulity, there was a long silence after that, and he could just feel Xemnas smiling evilly at him, like that was exactly what he had expected. That fucking pissed him off.
"…So you're that one, are you?" asked one - he couldn't tell who - before a long silence. "What's your name, kid?"
"I'm Roxas," he growled, grip tightening on his keyblades. "I don't know what you mean by 'that one,' but I'm not 'kid' or 'that one' or any other names you decide to come up with," he spat venomously, eyes flashing.
"Whoa, whoa. Take it easy," the same guy responded, putting his hands up in evident surrender. "I didn't mean anything by it."
"Are there… any further objections?" another interrupted, before Roxas could respond. That voice definitely belonged to the Superior.
"Dammit, isn't anybody going to fight me?" he fumed, ignoring his new leader. It wasn't so much that he really wanted to fight as that he wasn't about to let them fucking talk to him like that. God, couldn't they let him blow off a little steam?
"Roxas, number XIII," Xemnas continued, not stopping for said blonde's interjection, "the newest member of the Organization."
There was only silence in response to that - and honestly, he was kind of glad they weren't applauding.
Because then, he might feel kind of bad when he beat the ever-loving shit out of every one of them.
It took only a moment of Roxas's time to curse the gods that were laughing at him - and though the thought had been immensely appealing, somehow it didn't make him feel much better. Proof that the creators of the universe were deaf mutes was not what he needed just then.
What he needed was a ball gag. What he wanted was to beat the annoying little fucker until he could taste his own brain.
"Sorry about that, by the way," the other blonde - Demyx - continued cheerily, evidently not one to let up his verbal assault for even an instant. "The other guys can kind of be assholes. But they'll come around to you eventually - at least, they did for me. It's not so bad."
Roxas's eyebrow twitched - couldn't the other kid see that the last thing he wanted right then was reassurance? He wanted to go stew in his own fury, dammit. Every nice word that came out of the other's mouth was just making him madder, because he wasn't saying anything that Roxas could just fucking blow up at.
"Go bother someone else," he finally muttered with much less vitriol than he was feeling, hoping that the other would get the damn hint.
Demyx shrugged, evidently nonplussed.
"If you want," he replied with a small smile - and it occurred to Roxas that the ease with which he took the other's dismissal said volumes about how many times he'd heard it before. For an instant, he almost felt sorry for the other boy - but not quite, and the feeling passed quickly enough that he wasn't worried.
"Anyway, if you want some company ever, you'll probably find me down in the basement. I might like some company," he stated, voice carefully neutral.
"Yeah," he grunted with an air that was decidedly not amicable before stalking forward in hopes of locating his room. Within an instant, however, Demyx was gone - disappeared into one of those giant black vortexes that Xemnas had summoned during their first meeting.
"Fucking hell," he muttered to himself as he watched the tendrils of black disappear, "can everyone do that but me?"
He jumped more than he would care to admit when another voice suddenly interrupted him - he hadn't even realized that someone was nearby, much less listening. These people were fucking creepy.
"You could do it too, kid. You've just never tried."
Despite the fact that the guy's hood was up, Roxas still recognized him from the council room - his flamboyant gesticulations gave him away better than a face ever would. He had the guy pegged as a flamer from the first, and was never proved wrong.
"I told you, I'm Roxas," he grumbled, scowling like a champion but without the pure fighting anger from earlier. There was only so long a person could keep that up for.
"Roxas, Roxas," he said, putting a hand to his hooded forehead dramatically. "How could I possibly forget." He paused, and Roxas glared. "Anyway, welcome to the team, Roxas. I'm Axel," he said, pulling down his hood with a flourish and a grin that didn't quite reach his eyes. He extended a hand - presumably to shake - but pulled it back with a laugh and a shrug when Roxas didn't move to take it.
The first thing that the blonde noted about this new guy - this Axel - was that he had just proved Roxas wrong on several counts. Firstly, that the redhead's wild gestures were not, in fact, the most noticeable thing about him - that would probably go for the hair. It took over the room, like it owned the fucking place, and he just couldn't stop staring. As for the second point - well, a person could keep up irrational anger for far longer than he had previously thought.
Something about this guys just pissed him the fuck off. He didn't know for sure what it was - maybe it was the facial tattoos, maybe the overconfident stance - but he was doing something that gave off the asshole vibe. This guy thought he was hot shit.
"Why," Roxas began, not allowing himself to be unnerved by the piercing green stare as his gaze locked on Axel's, "are you following me? I thought I'd made it obvious that I don't fucking want to talk to you."
The redhead grinned even wider, crossing his arms and letting out a short laugh.
"Aww, don't be like that. I just thought you might like some company on your first day, is all."
"Like hell that's all," the other spat back. "I'm not some kind of toy for you or anyone else to play with. Not gonna let you prod me around until I do something that amuses you. So fuck off unless your idea of amusement is me kicking your ass, in which case I'm more than willing." He could feel his shoulders tense up with those words, preparing - just in case.
Axel gave a low whistle, and - disappointingly enough - he didn't move, though his smirk grew to epic proportions.
"That sounds like fun… but only if your ass is nicer than it looks from here," he drawled, half-suggestively and half-derisively, giving the boy a slow once-over that made his face heat up annoyingly. "Looks kinda scrawny to me."
Roxas's eyebrow twitched. The black outfit hadn't been his idea.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he growled indignantly, hoping that he didn't. "And anyway, your ass is scrawnier than mine," he added petulantly, though it was true - the redhead looked skinny enough to have just escaped a medieval torture chamber. The thought struck him that the guy might be the sort of person who'd enjoy that - on either end of the whip - and the smaller flushed scarlet, a fact which didn't escape the other man.
"Of course you don't, kid. You will soon." Roxas let the diminutive go for the moment - he had more important things to worry about. His level of indignant shock was rising by the instant, and he found then that his sheer level of astonishment and embarrassment didn't leave much room for the burning anger.
"So, if I offer to take you up on that…" he continued., green eyes flashing with amusement.
"Get the hell away from me! You're a fucking pervert," he informed the other with only a slight overtone of something that was definitely not hysteria.
Axel raised a delicate eyebrow, but his smirk never left.
"Come on, kid. You're with the Organization now, you're going to have to get used to it." He paused, watching Roxas's face go white with evident amusement. "This is downright subtle when you compare it to some of the shit the other members get up to."
The boy's first thought, then, went something like this; Oh god, what have I done? Which was, then, followed closely by I have to get the hell out of here.
"…Subtle?" he posed in disbelief, before taking a deep breath and continuing. "Alright then, great. Where's the exit?" he asked, trying to and mostly succeeding at hiding his wide-eyed nervousness.
Axel raised both his eyebrows now, and Roxas very nearly threw a punch at his smirking face.
"What, you gonna leave us now?"
Roxas looked at the floor as he stomped forward, not really wanting to continue with the conversation any more, but answering because - he wasn't even quite sure why, but he did.
"Yeah. I didn't even want to join in the first place," he shot out breathlessly, flailing verbally - somewhere, he was probably hoping to get lucky and hit some kind of nerve in the other man. Even ruffling his feathers just the tiniest fucking bit would have been acceptable. "I just joined because…" He came back into his senses as soon as he heard himself say that, realizing what he had been about to say.
There was a long silence after that, horrible and awkward, and when Roxas allowed himself a glance over his shoulder he saw that, for the first time, Axel's expression was completely serious.
"You joined because you didn't have anywhere else to go," he said, so matter-of-factly that it stopped the boy for a moment. He turned around, slowly, and he realized that Axel knew, exactly, what he was thinking - every single one of them had probably been in the same situation. In a new world, a new existence, there was nothing else.
"Yeah." That one word said it all.
So Roxas stayed.
Demyx, having a curious talent for these sorts of things, was less than surprised when Axel appeared in his room in the basement less than fifteen minutes after he himself had decided to leave Roxas alone. The redhead looked, interestingly enough, like he'd either just met the love of his life - or like he'd just gotten to kill someone.
It really said something about Axel that both of these things resulted in a similar level of euphoria.
"So," he began, shutting the book he had been reading - Fifteen Ways to Bake Delicious Pastries and Other Fluffy Delights for the Cooking Impaired - before turning his gaze towards Axel. His teammate - not friend, really; not most of the time - looked vaguely dazed, but with a grin on his face that couldn't be denied. "What brings you down here?"
"Shit," he began before Demyx could finish, "that kid's a regular fucking firecracker, isn't he?"
Demyx raised an eyebrow - so, the former.
"You mean Roxas? You two met, then." The keyblade master's nobody was already causing quite the stir: among the members of the Organization, their excitement was attributed to the fact that he would be extremely powerful. Demyx knew better. He always knew better. Honestly, for all of the talk about being emotionless, they all seemed to have distinctly Freudian psychologies.
Zexion hadn't appreciated that statement when Demyx had mentioned it to him a few days before, and had spent all of his time since searching the "Five Lectures on Psychology" for proof otherwise. He hadn't come up with anything yet, to the blonde's eternal amusement and the Cloaked Schemer's horror.
"Fuck yes," Axel responded with a disbelieving laugh, interrupting the other's train of thought. "He was all up in arms, about ready to take me on - all five feet of him against me, and he didn't give a damn."
It occurred to Demyx that the redhead didn't seem nearly so pleased when Larxene did exactly the same thing - but that might not have been the best thing to say under the circumstances. Instead, he laughed, giving Axel a knowing look.
"So, did you just come down here to tell me how amazing he is -" therefore, of course, destroying whatever fear and respect I may have had for you "- or did you want anything in particular?" There was an instant's pause. "Advice, maybe?" At that, the look in Axel's eyes changed - as if he had just, suddenly, realized what he had been doing, how open he had been.
"Oh, fuck you," Axel shot back in a way that was amused, but at the same time, instantly closed the topic of discussion.
The blonde winced internally at that - he had this horrible talent for shoving his foot in his mouth, really - but didn't let it show.
"Oh, come on. Can't you take a joke?" he responded playfully, hoping that he hadn't done too much damage with that.
"'Course I can. But you," the other noted with a faintly ominous air, "are currently in the room I want to use. So get out."
Demyx sighed and stood up from his couch before creating a portal to leave. He knew that arguing with Axel at this point would be fruitless - and one of the downsides of having a peaceful nature was that you got pushed around about all the things that didn't matter.
It was kind of annoying, really.
It was a rather unnerving thing, it occurred to Roxas, to be woken up by the sound of one's door exploding. The shrapnel didn't bother him too much, really, but the sight of a giant fucking sword thing crushing its way across the floor - probably with the intention of maiming him irreversibly - did nothing to improve his mood.
"What the fuck?" were the first words out of his mouth that morning, as they were many other mornings. He would never be disturbed by this fact because he had never woken up any other way.
However, that particular morning left him questioning his sanity.
He dispatched the - the thing, whatever it was, with less trouble than he probably should have, with one keyblade in its gut and one shoved directly upwards through its jaw. And, better yet, when the thing died, it just disappeared: and Roxas had no experience one way or another, but some instinct told him that that was really fucking weird.
Within seconds, a portal burst into existence, followed shortly thereafter by a distinctly bored-looking Organization member - Xigbar, he remembered, because the man was quite distinctive even without the eye patch.
"What's the deal, kid?" he drawled, giving the crushed room a lazy once-over with a half smirk.
"A giant fucking sword just tried to kill me in my sleep," he responded, much more calmly than he felt - just living in this place seemed to be stretching his suspension of disbelief to incomprehensible proportions. And he'd only been there for a day.
"Oh, that again? I'll have a word with Saïx," he responded with no more interest than before.
Roxas took a moment to digest that.
"…You'll have a word with him. Is this…" He didn't really know if he wanted to ask, but he did anyway. "Is this a regular thing?"
"Oh yeah," Xigbar responded with a low chuckle, creating another portal. "He needs t' remember to keep better control of his fuckin' Nobodies, 's all. His excuse'll probably be that he forgot to add you to his 'Ok-list,' or some shit - but honestly, he just likes making the younger members squirm." There was a long pause as the man took a step through, during which the younger could formulate no response.
"Have fun cleaning up, kid," were his last words before the doorway closed behind him.
That wouldn't be the first time Roxas seriously contemplated genocide.
It was on his way to what served as their dining room later that day, when Roxas first started to wonder about what the fuck this whole Nobody thing was about. He had a vague idea, to be sure, but it was more on the details side of things that he was left wanting. Did Nobodies even need to eat? Sleep? Those things that he couldn't seem to recall ever doing but seemed, nonetheless, distinctly important.
Entering the dining hall didn't give him any answers, but he was greeted by a scene interesting enough to take his mind from it entirely. Apparently, since there was only one time in the World that Never Was - and that was precisely whatever time it wasn't - it was never too early to get drunk, and Axel plus a few other members seemed to be taking full advantage of that fact.
The interesting part, however, was that they seemed to be watching intently as Axel lit his shots on fire and downed them, one after another, grin never leaving his face.
That, of course, brought up the question of whether or not Nobodies could get drunk.
Nice party trick, though.
"…Isn't it a little bit early to be getting drunk?" Roxas asked, scowling as always as he interrupted their little game - he hadn't quite recovered from his awakening that morning yet.
"It's never too early to get drunk," responded Axel with far too much cheer, not missing a beat as he turned around to greet their newest member.
"And there's no early to get drunk in," noted another - the blonde, bearded one with a distinctly British accent - with the philosophical air only attainable through copious amounts of rum. "There's only one time in the World that Never Was-"
"-and that's precisely whatever time it isn't," Xigbar finished for him, cryptic and amused despite his apparent sobriety. In fact, all of the ones drinking gave of the impression that they could snap straight back into their normal selves in any given moment.
Roxas gave the three of them an unimpressed look - he was getting better and better at those by the minute, it seemed. Every single person in this place was abso-fucking-lutely certifiable.
That answered the question about whether or not Nobodies could get drunk, though - no, they couldn't. But they seemed to like to pretend.
"You should come join us," Axel informed the younger blonde with amusement as another shot spontaneously began to burn, making deliberate eye contact with the other as the flames slid down his throat.
Something about that made Roxas thoroughly uncomfortable.
"Thanks, but no. Not interested." He didn't trust any of these guys as far as he could throw them, and with his alcohol tolerance what it was - nonexistent - he didn't see any reason to make himself any more vulnerable in front of them. Guys like that would eat him alive - and the worst part of that was that he didn't know if he was being literal or not.
"Pansy," muttered Xigbar as he took a drink, getting started on whittling away his own capacity for intelligent thought.
"Alright, guys, that's enough. Leave the kid alone," came a voice from behind them, and Roxas looked up to see Demyx's smiling countenance, both hands full with plates of food. The older blonde practically shoved a plate into the other's hands, sitting down at the nearest table as he motioned for Roxas to do the same.
"I can take care of myself, thanks," he mumbled ungratefully as he took the other's offer of sustenance and sat down where invited. It appeared to be a plateful of long, white wormlike things covered in what looked like blood and possibly some kind of meat. Demyx appeared to be digging in with gusto - Roxas thought he might be sick.
"Don't be a spoilsport," Axel drawled good-naturedly as he stood up from the table at which he sat, leaving the others with him to their own amusements, and moved over to theirs.
"So how's your first proper day in the castle been?" he asked as soon as he sat down, with more amusement than was perhaps strictly necessary, but not altogether unkindly, either.
Roxas didn't answer at first, giving a nauseous look to his plate, then back up towards Axel, then down again, trying to decide which was the less repulsive sight. He concluded after a moment's deliberation that the redhead did indeed meet those criteria - but only marginally. So, staring at the table was by far the best option.
The blonde's expression didn't change from one of glum annoyance as he - grudgingly - responded.
"I was attacked this morning before breakfast," he informed the furniture tonelessly, rather than his two companions. He was still, after all, doing his best to pretend that there was nothing strange about it.
It wasn't working so far.
Demyx looked up from his meal at Roxas's statement, and the younger blonde deliberately ignored the expression of sympathy on his face - and Axel's choked laughing sound. Before the redhead could say anything, however, his friend interrupted with what was probably intended to be a kindly tone.
"Aww, don't take it so hard, Roxas," the older blonde told him with a pat to the back that was entirely unnecessary. "That's just Saïx playing around 'cause you're new. He's kind of…" He drifted off awkwardly after that, as if expecting Roxas to understand what he was getting at. Needless to say, he didn't.
"What Demyx means to say," number eight cut in smoothly, "is that Saïx is a crazy bastard. Certifiably fucking psychotic."
Roxas gave him a look just then that couldn't decide what, precisely, it was meant to accomplish - a sense of irony didn't translate particularly well into expressions.
"You're all certifiably psychotic," he mumbled under his breath without any real vitriol.
"What was that?" Axel asked with a leonine grin, all teeth and predatory amusement.
"I mean seriously," the blonde continued, knowing full well that the other had heard him, "I come in this morning and you're drinking flaming alcohol that you can't get drunk from in a dining hall that you don't need, talking about things that make absolutely not sense." There was a pause. "And it was on fire," he added again, as if that point hadn't already been made.
"Fire's my element, it can't hurt me," the other responded, evidently under the impression that somehow made it better.
"…And we do to need the dining hall," Demyx added helpfully, apparently unaffected by the accusation of insanity. "Maybe we don't need to eat, but we can - and honestly, there's not much else around this place. We have to do something to enjoy ourselves."
Roxas didn't bring up the fact that, in theory - if he wasn't being lied to - they couldn't technically enjoy anything at all.
"…You're not helping your case, you know." Not hurting it either, maybe, but his verdict still stood.
Axel chuckled at that.
"I know, I know. Wasn't arguing your point." Another pause. "But what he says is true enough, we have shit to do around here most of the time. You'll learn to appreciate food, too." At that, he gave Roxas's plateful a languid poke with his own utensil. "But I guess that's not yet," he mentioned entirely too cheerily, "so you gonna eat that or not?"
The smaller blonde shoved the plate towards the other without a second thought.
"Eat your heart out." He couldn't quite believe that anyone would eat that shit. "Where do you get that crap anyway."
"You mean the pasta?" Demyx asked, confused. "We cook it ourselves if we want to eat, why?"
"…What, you have a kitchen?" Roxas asked in surprise - that just seemed strange. The idea of an organization hell-bent on destroying not just one world but multiple, cooking pasta on Thursday evenings.
"More or less," the other responded, completely oblivious to the oddity of the whole thing. "We have a stove an and oven."
There was a long pause as Roxas digested this.
"…So did the World that Never Was pop into existence with ovens?" His surprise at the prospect was turning, slowly and completely against his will, into something resembling hysterical amusement - and not necessarily the good kind.
Both of his companions appeared to freeze after that - Axel with his fork halfway to his mouth - as they contemplated the situation.
"You know," Demyx began thoughtfully, "I don't know."
"Or did someone go out and buy them?" Roxas was only barely suppressing his laughter under his expression of discontent now. "What about the dishes? Did Xemnas take a little bit of time out of his scheming and stargazing to do a little bit of interior decorating?"
Surprisingly enough, it was Axel who first started to laugh - not just a chuckle, but an honest-to-god laugh of the kind that - judging from the incredulous stares that the rest of the room was giving him just then - were far too rare around that place.
Watching the astonished faces, Roxas couldn't help but crack a smile too.
He fought it, though, dammit.
Thanks for reading? I love you.