A/N - To those of you who got an update on at a chapter update, that's because I've been proofreading deeper and fixing some kinks and small inconsistencies in the story. There's not much a difference, but my goal is to make this story run as smoothly and logically as possible once I'm done cleaning it up. So when you get updates on this, don't freak out, okay?
"Xigbar Crutch, if I'm not mistaken?"
The character looked up as he was addressed by his entire name, something that didn't often happen with the kind of respect people gave him, and he didn't blame them – who would give respect to a beat up carcass like him? His right eye was adorned with a leather eye patch, his left cheek sliced through nastily by a scar he obtained from a past experience he only enjoyed sharing when under the influence, and his greasy black hair fell heavily behind his head in a long ponytail streaked with a line of white. What unnerved most people about him was his piercing, eagle-like yellow eye.
And to wrap it all up and totally turn off all efforts to respect him, he was a total jackass.
"Yup. That would be me," he directed gruffly with a snide smirk at the man in front of him, Vexen Webb.
Vexen didn't have respect for anyone except himself. The sight of Xigbar Crutch standing a foot away from him, giving off the stench of gunpowder and cigarette smoke, chewing on the end of a toothpick and curling his hands in his lifeless jacket caused the scientist to obviously lift a thin, blonde eyebrow and bulge his emerald green eyes until they nearly fell out of his head.
"Got somethin' to say to me, old man, or you gonna have me standing here all day?"
Vexen snorted in disgust, clamping his clipboard to his chest huffily and spinning around, his equally greasy, long hair moving heavily through his movements.
Xigbar followed the taller man in the lab coat, although he admitted silently to himself that he felt far taller and more important than him despite his higher rank and longevity.
The hall they traveled down was narrow and the ceiling was probably twelve feet above their heads, and they were both sizeable heights. It made Xigbar, a person especially unnerved by limited space, incredibly on edge. What added to the ethereal effect was the total washed out whiteness of it all. Vexen seemed to blend in like a yellow-ended chameleon in his garments of nothing but white, gloves and all.
"Xemnas told me to show you around," Vexen explained to the nervous Xigbar, "and by 'around' he meant the only one we have managed to keep to ourselves."
Xigbar huffed arrogantly as they turned a corner and stopped in front of a large pane of glass, revealing a spacious clean room that was seemingly empty until the piercing eagle eye caught sight of her creamy milk hair, hanging from her drooped head in curtains.
She was…well, beautiful. Xigbar almost felt as if he was in love with the little girl, but heh, he was no pedophile. Well, not that much. The girl looked around six years of age, her body petite and fragile and completely vulnerable under that thin, beige dress of hers that ended dangerously right past the end of her bottom. She sat in a small, plastic periwinkle chair – crafted from PlaySkool, no doubt – staring at her sandaled toes. She was nearly motionless.
"This is Naminé Rose." Vexen uttered, looking upon the young girl with awe-inspiring hope, "She's the daughter of two of our members who were participants in Project 013."
"Huh." Xigbar grunted, transfixed by the girl's mysterious aura, "So what's she in for, huh? What's her issue?"
"She's an amazing artist, Mr. Crutch," Vexen began, referring to his notes etched onto his clipboard, "You give her a box of Crayola crayons and she has that room filled with eye-opening murals from floor to ceiling within days – incredible works of art that would have Michelangelo fuming with envy. They portray people more emotionally than I have ever seen with a mere eight-pack of crayons."
Xigbar huffed haughtily through his nose. "So? The kid's got talent. What's the deal with locking a cutie like her up like this?"
"Naminé Rose has been blind since birth, Mr. Crutch."
The fact hit Xigbar hard, but he hardly wavered. "Heh, so she's got a bit of clairvoyance. Big deal. What's the danger?"
Vexen chuckled through his nose sadistically, "When she asked us for a box of crayons, Mr. Crutch, one of our cohorts happily obliged. Within hours she had pictures of the most miserable looking sequence of events colored over her walls. When said cohort went back to monitor her progress, he displayed the scenes in horror and within minutes, he snuck his way into my lab and shoved as many as my chemicals as he could down his throat."
Xigbar paused, processing the information quickly.
"So anything she draws…happens?"
"No no no…" Vexen corrected, waving a finger in time with his nos, "Anything she draws has happened…in the mind of whoever stumbles upon her drawings, that is. She draws things horrid enough to drive any weak-minded person into suicide. What she does is create fake memories."
"Well, old man…" Xigbar began, "If you know what her drawings look like and that they do this, how come you're still standing and still have all real memories as far as I know?"
Vexen smirked, that same chuckle escaping him as his body shook with small mirth. "We found a loophole. We have cameras that watch her, but the monitors we have are outdated and only show in black and white. Apparently the drawings effects only work if you see them in color."
He flipped through a few sheets of paper on his clipboard, producing a small collection of colorless photographs. Xigbar relieved him of them, sifting through them rather quickly. The images he viewed were quite grotesque even without color. There were several personas that obviously represented parental figures confronting small children violently, and several images where the parents were denoted by hearts of loving nurture, then later had a dull blackness spilling out of their necks or their bodies struggling lamely against gravity as their necks hung from nooses. This "dull blackness", Xigbar decided, was blood – gallons of it.
"You understand what I mean?" Vexen asked, clipping the photos back into his clipboard.
"Yeah…" Xigbar aired.
"Regardless, she's quite obedient," Vexen continued, resuming his study of the seemingly lifeless girl, "Submissive is more the word, but it's far better than a dangerous thing like her objecting to everything we offer her."
Xigbar rubbed the newly growing stubble on his chin, musing. "Sooo…what's the point of showing her to me, old man? You've already got her all caged up – there's no point in me catching her. The boss said something about catching a band of these freaks."
"Ah, well…" Vexen almost hesitated, "I'm just showing you what your up against. Imagine a person of this power, like little Naminé here, but three times her age, disobedient, on the run, and of course, able to see?"
Xigbar quirked an eyebrow, surveying the scientist, "Are you serious? How many?"
"Well, four. We're not counting two – they've diluted their powers greatly by the influence of alcohol and unnatural aging."
"I see…" Xigbar growled, rubbing his chin again, considering his job, "So…you want me to catch them and…kill them?"
"It's preferred you keep them alive. We need to experiment on them to know the extent of their power, and how we can use it…"
"Huh…" He scratched the top of his head like a rather skinny gorilla as the scientist looked at him with hope, "Well…can't you tell me what they look like? Or what they do? Where did you see them last?"
Vexen held up a finger, about to speak, but said finger dropped. "This way," he spoke once again, "Xemnas has the files in his office."
"Look, kid…we'll be okay."
The small blonde felt his side of the bed rise under him as the crimson-head, nearly twice his height, took his seat next to him…perhaps a little too close. He started pulling at the end of his over-sized long sleeves, averting all eye contact with the acidic eyes over those strange diamonds, triangles, upside-down teardrops…whatever the hell they were. He just didn't want to look at them.
"C'mon, Rox…why aren't you talking to me?"
His voice was sultry, laced with the occasional cigarette -- "occasional" meaning it'd been a good six years since the last time he'd been able to afford a cigarette. Roxas half-growled, half-purred in response, turning his head away and crossing his arms.
"You never take situations like this seriously, Axel…" he mumbled, "Even when we're on the run from some freak government agency, you don't take the situation seriously…"
"Of course I do!" Axel chirped, sneaking an arm around the small teen's shoulders, "I'm just more realistic than you, Sunshine. We're okay – really. You think they'd check a run-down, ram-shackled motel like this for two runaway science experiments? Pff…"
"Yes, actually," Roxas turned his head toward those beautiful, malachite eyes for the first time in a while, "It makes perfect sense. We have no money so where the hell are we gonna stay? Some Quality Inn? Tch, of course not. If you ask me, this'll be the first place they check."
"Awwwh, there's nothing to worry about, babe," the older man laughed, stretching out like a cat on the blonde's lap, hanging his long legs over the end of the bed, "If anyone comes after you, I'll burn their ass and you know it."
"Wonderful tactic," Roxas grumbled sardonically, ignoring the child-like eyes staring up at him, "Then everyone in the whole country will know about us and they'll have sleeping darts on us faster than we can say –"
"Neh, they wouldn't affect you with your power…y'think?"
Roxas blinked, stuttering a bit. "They could! All I can do is heal people. Wooooo big deal."
"Yeah," Axel laughed, bringing up a slender finger to poke the tip of the blonde's nose, "but we make one kick ass team, huh?"
"Yeah, yeah…" Roxas murmured, batting the finger away.
They both jumped, Axel sitting bolt upright as something pounded on the door murderously at the same time as a strike of thunder. Roxas scampered into the bathroom instantly, his heart rate up in a trice as he ducked inside the bathtub, pulling the mucky shower curtain around him with shivering hands. Axel watched him all the while as the blonde hid, cringing at a second barrage of fists on the door.
"Open up!" came a rather nasally, distressed voice, "Open up! Please! We're the same as you!"
Axel raised a brow suspiciously, mouthing "the same as you" questioningly as he inched toward the door, drawing his head back from the peephole quickly as they pounded on it again. A shivering dirty blonde was apparent through the grubby glass, crying out "Let us in!" Through the rain and thunder.
Axel put his hand to the knob and turned, pulling open the door. He started when sopping wet arms groped around his neck, soaked locks brushing him under his chin.
"Axyyyy…" the young voice groaned against Axel's chest, "It's been six years and I finally found you…n'oooh…"
"Do you have a tub in here?"
Axel looked up from the boy's sopping wet hair, directing his eyes downward to a much smaller, slate-haired boy. He was only a bit taller than Roxas, his hair plastered over his face as he crossed his arms and shivered.
"Yeah…" Axel told him, blinking unbelievably at the two's sudden appearance. It was all too sudden, "Just tell Roxas to get out of it – he's hiding."
The taller visitor gasped and backed up from Axel. "Roxy's here too? Omigosh, the last time I saw him he was so little!"
"Heh," Axel chuckled as the hyperactive blonde squelched his way to the bathroom, following his smaller counterpart, "He's still pretty little, Dem…"
Roxas heard the commotion and emerged from the bathtub, pulling back the curtains and looking around warily. Demyx caught sight of him and pulled him into a spinning, wet hug, crying, "Roxyyyy! Oh my gosh, you've grown so much!"
"Haah! Get off, you're getting me wet!"
The older blonde frowned and discontinued twirling, setting down the smallest carefully with a weak, "'Kay."
"So are you gonna dry us off, Dem, or are we just doing this the hard way?" asked the misty-voiced teen, combing his fingers through his hair and pushing it out of his right eye.
"I can do it," the blonde said with a beam, "It's not like I'm parting the Red Sea or anything…Axy, Roxy, get in here!"
Roxas didn't feel comfortable with a near to complete stranger calling him "Roxy" – he only let Axel call him that ridiculous nickname. And "Axy"? It didn't suit him. Nevertheless, the two of them stepped their way into the cramped bathroom and watched as Demyx put his fore- and middle finger to his temple, staring unblinkingly into space as he uttered, "Hold still."
His teal eyes were covered in a milky layer of white as all four of them felt the sensation of small beads of rainwater pulling at their clothes, escaping and floating up and over the shower curtain, causing a thousand resonating plinks to echo through the bathroom as the water drops hit the bottom of the tub. Demyx's hair slowly began to fluff and stand up as the water slid off his tufts of hair and made it into the tub in trickles. Axel was baffled at this strange sensation, watching his old friend in such deep concentration. Demyx and concentration? Did not compute. Water particles leaving everyone's body?
That was just fucking cool.
Demyx sighed, removing his fingers from his temple once everyone was sufficiently dry. His eyes were in a haze for half a second before he shook the cloudiness from them and put a rough hand to his other's small back and announced, "You know Zexion, right Axel?"
Axel shrugged, laughing at how the blonde just threw the past occurrence off like it was nothing. "'Course I know him. We lived together, neh?"
"Oooh yeah," Demyx mused, rubbing his chin, "Well, it's been a while and my memories from that far back are kind of hazy, so...say hiiii, Zexy!"
Zexion pouted, rolling his eyes and saying plainly, "Hi."
"So you two…" Roxas began, cocking his head in thought, "You were in Project 013 too?"
Demyx quickly smiled, nodding his head in rapid succession as Zexion put a fist to his lips before looking directly at Roxas and simply bobbing his head.
A/N - Well hi there everyone. This has been an idea floating in my head for a while, mostly inspired by the book by Stephen King – Firestarter. If you haven't read it, do. It's the best book I've ever read.
Basically, this is a sci-fi approach to Kingdom Hearts. It's AU of course, but I've tied everyone's powers and things into the mix as best as I could. Reminds me of X-Men a bit. Don't worry, fangirls, there IS going to be some smut and yaoi things, but that's not really the whole point of the story. I thought I should take a break from writing fluff and sex and homosexuality as the central theme so here you are.
Hope you like so far…I thought it was a neat idea to write about.