Tainted But Beautiful


No use getting overly excited for this update, since it's not another chapter, technically - rather, it's a list of fourteen songs that inspired me throughout this story, and my interpretations of them (at least how they pertain to the situations in Tainted But Beautiful). Some of these interpretations may be far off the mark as to what the songwriter was actually intending, but I don't care since I'm only explaining what inspired me, specifically, while I was writing this story. You can agree or not, or even suggest songs in your own reviews. I'm always searching for new music.

You can think of this as the soundtrack to the story, if you'd like.

1. "Undisclosed Desires"

A song that I feel describes perfectly Demyx's feelings for Zexion, especially near the end of the story. Honestly, I could imagine Demyx singing this (and I almost picked it for the confession scene...but "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" is more of a classic, and it'd raise a lot of questions about the Slayer Society if they play songs from Muse's The Resistance at their formal balls...). I do mean it when I say there isn't a single lyric that doesn't fit. Go listen to the song, because I can't explain it any better than it can. Plus, it's a great song, but that's a given since it's on The Resistance, which is a great album by a great band.

The chorus, in particular, is Demyx's feelings, word for word:

I want to reconcile the violence in your heart
I want to recognize your beauty's not just a mask
I want to exorcise the demons from your past
I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires of your heart

It's like Muse was reading my mind.

2. "Starlight"

This song I see as representing Demyx and Zexion's feelings for each other. It's another Muse song, my favorite in fact. I actually mentioned it in the notes for chapter fifteen, and if I had to get specific I'd have to say that "Starlight" is chapter fifteen's song. Unlike "Undisclosed Desires," I don't see a lyric-to-lyric fit, but the feel of the song - of longing to be by a lost loved one's side again- - fits them perfectly, especially around the period of time when Zexion is searching for the kidnapped Demyx. And the feeling of fighting through untold trials and tribulations (Matt Bellamy actually substitutes "our trials and tribulations" for "our hopes and expectations" at points in the live performances) to finally obtain that moment fits both the story and the song.

Hold you in my arms
I just wanted to hold you in my arms


I'll never let you go
If you promise not to fade away, never fade away

if anything, reflect the raw desire - not in a sexual sense, but wanting to be with someone - that is at the heart of Tainted But Beautiful's Zemyx pairing. A sad irony given the ending.

3. "Can't Take My Eyes Off You"

I don't have to explain this. Just read chapter twenty-six.

4. "Time Won't Let Me Go" (Moon Version)
The Bravery

This I view as Axel's theme - it's got both the longing and melancholy which I think define his character in this story. Longing for a golden past, melancholy because that past never existed and he's aware of it on some level (Whenever I look back on the best days of my life/I think I saw them all on TV). There aren't really any lyrics I can name as being particularly "Axel," it's more the general feeling that the song inspires in me. Of struggling against time, because that's so Axel. I chose the Moon Version not particularly because it fits Axel better, but because I like it better.

5. "When The End"
Itou Kanako & WATANABE

A song that probably not many of you have heard of; it's one of the ending themes to the BL visual novel Lamento: Beyond the Void, which I've never played but I am following the kind, kind soul who's playing through the entire game and subbing it on Youtube. It's a great game, and if I could understand Japanese I'd buy it because what little I understand of the story sounds fascinating. And it's got some amazing music. "When The End" is actually in English, and it's sung very well, with only some minor errors and hardly any accent on the part of the singers. It's a duet, too, which I just love.

"When The End" I see as fitting both of the major relationships in the story-Zemyx and AkuRoku. There's a sort of resignation in the song that the relationship will end tragically (both of them do), but an assurance that the mutual love that was there will live on. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing, as much as I am for tragic endings...so I see "When The End" as the song that Demyx and Roxas, if they could, would want to sing to Zexion and Axel, respectively (or rather, sing with, since it is a duet...). To reassure him that their hardships were not for nothing, that the love they had was real and will continue even beyond death.

In darkness we seek the light
Though it may never be
Someday we might find
The sky we long so much to see


6. "So Cold"
Breaking Benjamin

It seems the majority of these songs follow Demyx's feelings for Zexion, which I think makes sense since Demyx is the singer and I can actually see him singing some of these songs, which makes them feel like they fit better. "So Cold" is special because I see it as applying to the Zemyx relationship after the end, after Zexion so disastrously turned Demyx. It's what Demyx would have said to Zexion, reassured him even, if he could have, I'd like to think. Although Demyx lost his sentience by that point, so not even I would know. Funny, "So Cold" isn't a very reassuring song, but it is desperate, and that's more fitting to end-stage Zemyx than a happy chappy "everything's okay" song would be. Especially when the singer starts singing "It's all right" over and over again, with each one sounding more wildly desperate...brrr. I prefer the acoustic version, it sounds more haunting and I can actually understand the singer in that one.

You're so cold but you feel alive
Lay your hand on me one last time

is Demyx's last wish.

7. "Fighting"

This song's unusual in that I think it fits Zemyx in general, not just Tainted But Beauitful...but Yellowcard is the kind of band Demyx would enjoy, don'cha think? XD (Or at least I think so...) Again there's the theme of struggling against obstacles; in this case, the obstacles are created by the loved one himself. As such, this song probably fits circa the time when Demyx and Zexion were arguing in DiZ's manor. It's a song meant to convince someone who might have failed him several times that he still loves him, in spite of all that.

This is another song I might have used instead of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You."

I've always liked the bridge of the song the most, and it's the verse I've always applied to Zemyx:

Said that I'd fight for the one that I found
I'm gonna stay here while I wait for you to come around
I'll fight, you're a part of me now
And I will never give up, no I'll never give up

8. "The Other Promise"
Yoko Shimomura

What can I say? This is Roxas' song, through and through. There are no words, but I'd say it sounds so very melancholy, it fits with the tragic events of Roxas' life in this story. But if ever someone were to write a Roxas to which this song does not apply, then I'd have to say they are writing Roxas wrong. The boy's story is a tragic one - the whole point behind his character, at least the way I see it, is that everyone's screwed him over. Hell, he was born screwed over. And nothing more than the haunting notes of the full orchestra (I use the Drammatica version, of course) can possibly convey that.

This song is Roxas, and I'm glad I've written a Roxas to which it still applies.

9. "Hysteria"

For a change in pace, let's represent Zexion's feelings for Demyx. Yes, it's another Muse song, so I think by now you'd have figured out my favorite band. Currently, Absolution is my favorite Muse album, so it's a bit of a wonder why there aren't more songs from Absolution on this playlist...especially since I've already written a Zemyx fic to "Sing For Absolution." But anyway, "Hysteria." Not only does it have an insane guitar riff, but the lyrics - speaking of an animalistic desperation - I feel apply to Zexion's feelings for Demyx, his almost obsessive love. He is terrified to lose Demyx and he's very jealous about Demyx too - witness him getting annoyed every time Demyx mentions Axel in a vaguely suspicious way, and their argument in chapter 23, which basically centered around his fear of losing Demyx. And his reason for wanting to give the Gift, so Demyx could stay by his side for eternity - so he could have Demyx for eternity. Which is a very base desire, not intellectual at all...in a way, it represents a complete peeling away of his intellect.

All this I think is depicted perfectly in Hysteria.

And I want you now
I want you now
I'll feel my heart implode
And I'm breaking out
Escaping now
Feeling my faith erode

10. "The Ocean" (Sun Version)
The Bravery

Another song from the Bravery's amazing album "The Sun and the Moon," and one of my favorites. It's a song that I feel fits both of the survivors, Zexion and Axel. A lot of the songs I've listed so far deal with themes of loss, but none as potently as "The Ocean." It's pretty much a tale of a man who's left his lover behind, but can't stop thinking about her (or him, whatever). The lover doesn't have to be dead, but Demyx and Roxas are - and I'm certain that Zexion and Axel, respectively, will never forget them. They will be haunted for the rest of their lives (despite Zexion's exhortation to Axel to move on). And they both feel that they've failed their lovers, something that I think "The Ocean" touches on. The Sun Version fits better because it's slower and more melancholy, and hell, I just like it better (though the Moon Version is pretty neat too).

This is another song in which I feel the bridge is most appropriate, and has some truly beautiful imagery to boot:

The sun and the moon and an ocean of air
So many voices and nothing is there
But the ghost of you asking me why
Why did I leave?

11. "Iris"
Goo Goo Dolls

Most of these songs fit relationships, but I feel that "Iris" fits Zexion specifically. His...image song, if you will. There's a melancholy air, an aura of desperation, and the lyrics are just perfect. You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be and I don't want to go home right now - it's pretty much Zexion's feelings for Demyx's in a nutshell, the way that "Undisclosed Desires" is Demyx's feelings for Zexion. And the fact is that throughout the story, Zexion is the one who wears the most masks, who means the most different things to the most people: to Axel he is a monster, to the members of his coven he is a mindless incubus, to Vexen he's...well, read chapter one of "Pure." But Zexion's deepest wish is that someone sees through all that - even the masks that he himself has put on - and sees the real Zexion. Which Demyx did, however briefly. And Demyx was the only one. This is the message that I feel is that the heart of "Iris," especially the chorus:

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

Which perfectly represents Zexion's feelings throughout Tainted But Beautiful, with "you" being none other than Demyx, of course. Not to mention Zexion has a certain association with irises (the flower) in this story - just look at the epilogue.

12. "Mr. Brightside"
The Killers

This is a more narrow, specific Zemyx song than many of the more general ones listed above. Since it's basically about either a guy who suspects his girlfriend is cheating on him or (if you follow the amazing music video's interpretation) a guy who's in love with a hooker, I feel it fits the Zemyx pairing circa chapter twenty-four. Y'know, after Demyx discovers that Zexion was sleeping with Axel. Not only does the subject matter of the song fit, since Demyx has fallen hopelessly in love with someone who by his very nature can't help but cheat on him, but the outlook - "I'm Mr. Brightside" - fits what he eventually chooses. "Destiny is calling me" - so, since he can't control anything, both his attraction to Zexion and Zexion's behavior, he'll accept it all. Resignedly, but he'll still accept it.

Now I'm falling asleep and she's calling a cab
While he's having a smoke and she's taking a drag
Now they're going to bed and my stomach is sick
And it's all in my head
But she's touching his chest now
He takes off her dress now
Let me go

I guess, if you imagine that Demyx was watching Zexion seduce Axel (well, he was listening).

13. "Time Machine"
The Click Five

The AkuDemy song. I find the development of the AkuDemy storyline in Tainted But Beautiful fascinating, because I absolutely had not intended on it...it just appeared in the first two chapters, and I ran with it (partly encouraged by my sister...), to the point of giving them a full-blown relationship in the past. It worked out well, even though I normally do not ship that pairing. In fact, I find it a major turn-off. But it works for Tainted, somehow, and it makes Demyx and Axel's current relationship all sorts of awkward. Plus, it appeals to my fondness for the "Second Love" trope, because in the end Demyx gets over Axel and throws his feelings firmly behind Zexion. If I were ever to go back and revise the first few chapters (a notion I'm vaguely entertaining), I would definitely ramp up the AkuDemy tension.

Which brings us to "Time Machine," the song that I feel perfectly fits this story's AkuDemy undercurrent because it sounds outwardly jaunty, the way that Demyx tries to act about Axel, but it's really about missed opportunities and lost chances and what could have been, so many regrets. The chorus, both the "I" and the "you" versions, work especially well if you view this song from Demyx's perspective.

14. "Just Like You"
Three Days Grace

It's surprising how few of these songs relate to the Axel/Zexion relationship, because I feel that that's ultimately at the heart of Tainted But Beautiful. Not in a romantic sense, but in the sense that everything in the story connects back to the two of them - the survivors. And AkuZeku is one of my favorite relationships (I'm sure if you did a count, more than 50 percent of what's up on this account ends up being AkuZeku...). The thing is, none of the songs that I usually write AkuZeku to ("What Have You Done" by Within Temptation, "I Hate Everything About You" by Three Days Grace, and so on) work for AkuZeku in this story because there isn't a romantic component. There's a bit of a sexual one, at least at the beginning, but most of their dynamic is pure hatred and mutual rivalry and, at the very end, a little bit of understanding.

I feel that the song that closest encompasses the AkuZeku relationship in this story is "Just Like You," at least from Zexion's perspective. Because when it comes down to it, Axel and Zexion are very similar: they're passionate people, who love passionately, and feel separated from the rest of society (possibly by their immortality). Even early in the story, I touch on the theme of their similarities - witness the "man or monster" discussion/argument in chapter six. But Zexion's adamant that he won't end up as weak as Axel, as much of a failure, which is reflected in "Just Like You."

On my own
'Cause I can't take living with you
I'm alone
So I won't turn out like you want me to

This doesn't really count as a "soundtrack" song, so I won't fit it in here...but in the final chapter, after the last scene (in which Axel discovers the poem on Demyx's gravestone), I imagine the orchestral version of "Hikari" playing and then we roll into credits...well, not credits, exactly. But that song I don't see as fitting the story exactly, just that last scene, possibly due to the ending of Kingdom Hearts II. It is an awesome song, capturing perfectly the emotion of Utada Hikaru's song without any words. And it feels a tad more melancholy than Utada's version, too, which definitely fits Tainted But Beautiful.

And finally, when I reread chapter 30 for the first time, I was listening to "All I Ask Of You" from Phantom of the Opera, and...oh dear. I didn't cry while writing it, but I cried then. Mostly because of how sadly ironic the song is - Anywhere you go let me go too/That's all I ask of you. Which is, frankly, impossible for Zexion and Demyx. So yeah if you want to experience waterworks too, try that song and chapter combination.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure my biases were more than apparent. What's that, four Muse songs and two Bravery songs? What the hell, when I really like a band, I listen to as much of their music as I can.

I think it's ironic, in a stupid way, that there's so much Muse here because Smeyer (sorry, swore I wouldn't mention Twilight again...) claims that Muse is one of her favorite bands and a big inspiration for her saccharine vampirefest, which is nonsense because anything that's inspired by Muse has to be a sci fi epic with a darkly disturbed romance at the center and conspiracies galore. Which...isn't really Tainted, actually. But screw that. At least I have the darkly disturbed romance part (and it's consciously dark, not like Bedward, which just is Unfortunate Implications that Smeyer never thought through).

No more updates in the future. This story is truly done, and I won't go back to it unless I decide to follow through on my urge to edit the earlier chapter. At several different points I had several different sequel plans - the most viable ones would have been either a Reno/Yazoo story (with AkuZeku undertones) that would have taken place five years after the epilogue timeline, or an alternate universe story in which Demyx is a soldier and Zexion an alien from a species that the humans are at war with. Neither will probably get written, unless there's significant interest in one or the other. But as I've said innumerable times, original fiction and my fictionpress, name of Bickazer, hold much more interest in me as of this moment. In fac, I won't write much fanfiction from the future.

I really badly want people to read Broken Memory, a to-be-more-than-100-chapter serial about interdimensional travel and a lot of mindfuckery, with a tragic (het, I warn you) relationship at its heart. Failing that, you might like Prelude to Broken Memory, a 12-chapter prequel setting up the protagonist's history - there's more slash content and romance in general in that story, and it's more character driven. Failing even that, kindly take a look The Books of Corinth, a sci fi story that's overtly slash with some family drama thrown in, and sentient dolls, and mindfuckery. Whatever appeals to you. Just check out my fictionpress and leave a few reviews, yah?

Thank you all. At the risk of sounding cliched, don't think of this as an end but a beginning. This story may be over, my fanfic career might be by all means over, but if you'd like to keep following me then who knows? Maybe you'll enjoy this new venue. ^^ I know I do.