AN: My first real foray into Zemyx. The idea for this story came suddenly, as I was researching cyberpunk. I realized that Zexion would make a fine cyberpunk protagonist. Inevitably, the desires of my friend and unnofficial beta reader Niffstral, interceded, and I ended up with a Zemyx, with (I hope) cyberpunk undertones. Most cyberpunk stories do not end happily, but Niffstral's insistence caused me to come up with an ending that I believe to be worthy, and one that hopefully she'll like. Since the story's just begun, however, the ending is still far off. ^^' This chapter is chock-full of interludes. I was determined not to bring Demyx in immediately, so I incorporated some backstory. Oh, and as an engineering major myself, I sort of had to make fun of them. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Owning would require money, which college students learn to do without.
Chapter 1: Rain, Axel, and Roxas
I've always hated the rain.
It's not that I don't like water. Water is fine. Water from the sky, given proper warning, is also fine. But sudden downpours when you've forgotten your umbrella and you're carrying your laptop must be Kingdom Hearts' way of laughing at you. Those puddles that cars kick up are also a reason to hate rain. I won't bore you by recounting the number of books and electronics those cursed puddles have made me replace.
He was like the rain, like the sudden downpour that short-circuited my laptop battery, the rain that destroyed the reference materials for my term paper and forced me to replace the library books that had been among those reference materials. And yet, unlike the rain, I couldn't bring myself to hate him, and curse the fact that he always caught me unprepared. Call me a masochist, but I think I actually enjoyed it.
I was 18, and a 4th year college student when we met. He was 21 and a 3rd year. My major was computer science, his classical guitar. That we met must have been a freak accident. Axel would call it destiny, I suspect, that a child "genius" like me met a slacker like Demyx, and continued to meet with him. Maybe it was just Kingdom Hearts laughing at me again. Maybe Axel was right. But then again, that we met in the first place wasn't exactly an accident.
Ignore me. Ignore me. Ignore me. Ignore me. Zexion intoned silently, willing the passerby to do what they were normally content to do without being asked. It would be just his luck if today of all days, the others decided to take notice of the young college senior. If not for the monitoring of the campus wireless network, Zexion would not have done this in the public eye- in a coffee shop, of all places! Luckily, it was unlikely that a normal person could understand exactly what he was typing, especially at the speed at which his fingers moved. They probably think I'm IMing, Zexion thought disdainfully. What else could an 18-year-old boy possibly be doing on his laptop?
"Up to no good again, I see."
Zexion turned his head slightly in the direction of the voice. When his eyes caught a flash of crimson, he turned back around and resumed typing.
"Axel. I believe I told you not to sneak up on me when I'm working on sensitive projects."
"What, you don't want me knowing that you're attempting to gain access to the control system for the traffic lights?" Axel smirked slightly as Zexion turned back to face him, eyes widening in shock.
"How did you know?"
"Some of us took programming classes too. Also, it seems like something you'd do. Start a panic over a problem that affects a lot of people, without directly hurting anyone," the redhead observed. "Calls would pour into city hall, the police, anyone who might be able to solve the problem. And then the people would realize just how powerless the government really is. Something like that?"
"Exactly that," Zexion admitted. "If only they could see just how weak the government has become, people would do something, wouldn't they?"
Axel sighed patiently. "People are weak, Zex. As long as they can go about their daily lives, most are content to do just that. One little thing isn't going to stand in the way of their routines."
Zexion fell silent and resumed typing, undeterred. Axel sighed again, shaking his mane of fiery locks in resignation. "If you weren't my friend, Zex, I would've left when I found out that you were the hacker "Ienzo". I don't want trouble."
"You don't want trouble with the government that won't let you and Roxas get married, should you ever want to." It wasn't a question.
"That's not the government's fault," Axel muttered, his cheeks red at the mention of the blond music student. "The fault for that lies with stupid, bigoted people, who think that marriage is sacred, and that letting people of the same gender marry would somehow interfere with that sanctity."
The clacking sound produced by Zexion's typing filled the silence between them for a while. Axel busied himself with his phone, likely sending sugary text messages to Roxas, who would likely laugh his ass off after reading them.
"How's Roxas today?" Zexion asked disinterestedly. Axel immediately brightened.
"He doesn't have voice lessons today, so he'll actually be home before sundown today," Axel relayed, bouncing up and down in his chair.
"That doesn't really answer my question," Zexion murmured, smirking slightly. "Is he keeping up with the workload?"
"I know you're trying to make a joke about music students having it easy," Axel observed with a grin, "but I think he has it much harder than I do, and I'm studying engineering."
"Slacker engineering," Zexion retorted.
"Materials Science is not slacker engineering!" Axel protested. "It's just easy for me. And the labs are way more fun. Who would make a career out of making circuits? So boring!"
"There must be something that they enjoy about it," Zexion murmured, his typing slowing considerably. Axel glanced up from his phone, noticing the change.
"Yeah, I just need to compile. Try to stay off the streets tonight, Axel." Zexion advised gravely.
"You don't have to tell me twice," Axel agreed seriously. "People are crazy enough normally. When infrastructure breaks down…"
"It should take a while for them to neutralize my virus. I suspect that in the meantime, the Heartless will multiply."
"Great. Just what we needed. More Heartless." Axel said as he shot the shadow cast by an awning across the street a suspicious glance.
"They are born from the darkness in people's hearts. And their hearts are especially dark nowadays. The Heartless should be all that you have to worry about in terms of safety, though," Zexion admitted.
Axel's brow knitted in confusion, but quickly smoothed out again. "Don't want them figuring out that you live here, so you sent your virus to another city? Then why would the Heartless here increase?"
Zexion paused, turning his eyes to the gathering dark clouds. "Because it looks like it's going to rain today."
Zexion's classmates knew better than to try and involve themselves with him. At age 14, Zexion had entered the university. He quickly developed a reputation for being short, distant, straight-laced, and a genius. Compared to his 18-year-old classmates, who spent their days enjoying their freedom with alcohol, drugs, and sex, Zexion was the picture of good behavior and scholarly accomplishment. When approached by others, he was polite and detached. Forming attachments to others held no interest for him.
In other words, Axel was in for a long, rough ride.
It took several months of poking, prodding, delivering food, and overall cheerful, friendly conduct to win his roommate over. Why exactly he bothered was a mystery, but he did not have long to enjoy his victory. The red head began to notice some things in Zexion that the boy had managed to completely conceal from the world at large. The first was that Zexion hated Ansem the Wise, the sainted leader of their country, and he would not say why. The second was that the periwinkle-haired boy wasn't the type to watch T.V., get angry, or not do anything. He simply wasn't the type to go to a protest, or throw a rock at a cop. No, his methods were both more and less direct.
In this manner, "Ienzo" was born. In hacking circles, he's regarded as a god. To various government agencies, he's the most wanted cyber-terrorist in all of Neo Radiant Garden. His real name, age, and location are all unknown. Exactly what he wants is unknown as well. Even Axel doesn't know, though he's perfectly fine remaining unaware.
There are some who theorize that Ienzo is just some kid with a computer, causing trouble for the sake of causing trouble. Others think that he's a former government employee who learned too much, and now is taking revenge on the system. Some believe that Ienzo is actually an anarchist group, and that the name is an acronym. Many are the groups and individuals who've claimed responsibility for the hacking legend. The real Ienzo laughs every time that one of them ends up in a federal prison, and continues his cyber-attacks. He savors every moment of it.
After all, nothing can last forever.
"Hey Zex," Axel began as he and Zexion made their way to campus. "Now that you're not jailbait and all, what would you think of being set up?"
"Are you asking permission to set me up on a blind date?" Zexion asked cautiously.
"Well, yeah. I know you don't really care about that stuff, but I figure it's something you should at least try once, right?"
"Is that the line that you used on Roxas, after convincing him that you were madly in love with him?" Zexion teased.
"Of course not!" Axel blushed bright red. "It took more than a few lines to convince him to go out with me," he muttered, falling silent. Zexion carefully considered the offer. It could go horribly, and his privacy was paramount to his success. But…
"I don't know…" Zexion began, ready to be interrupted. Axel did not disappoint.
"It could be fun! And Roxas knows someone who could-"
"Oh, so you already have someone in mind, without reference to any hypothetical sexual preference on my part?"
"Well…" Axel trailed off embarrassedly. "Roxas thought this person could add some sunshine to your life."
"And what if I don't like the sun?" Zexion demanded, only half serious.
"Well, you hate rain, so we figured…" Zexion's quiet chuckle calmed Axel's apprehension.
"I suppose I would be willing to meet this person," he admitted.
"Even though he's a guy?"
"If Roxas thinks he could help me, I won't doubt his judgment. Though, I doubt our first encounter will go as well as yours was with Roxas."
Axel and Roxas met at a talent show, when Roxas was finishing freshman orientation. Axel was the third year that volunteered to run the talent show. No one was entirely sure why, as Axel had never previously shown any interest in being helpful. But one first year had caught his attention during the auditions, and he very much wanted to see their talent. He was not disappointed.
Roxas, being a cello/voice double major, had the seemingly uninteresting talent of playing and singing at the same time. Axel, however, was captivated by the part of the performance that Roxas had done in the audition, and so offered to run the talent show so he would have an excuse to talk to the blond first year. Following the performance, Axel professed love to the unsuspecting blond, and was treated to uproarious laughter. Axel, however, was undeterred.
"How can I convince you that I'm sincere?"
"How do you know that your sincerity matters?" Roxas retorted, short of breath from laughing so hard.
"What?" Axel's eyes widened slightly.
"Maybe I'm straight. Maybe I'm even a homophobe. Maybe you're just not my type."
"The first one is possible," Axel admitted. "But the second is right out. Your rainbow bracelet gives you away. As for the third… I've seen you checking me out." Axel proclaimed with decided cockiness. "I'm obviously your type."
"So you've been paying attention."
"I believe that's often considered a symptom of love."
Roxas considered this for a moment. Unless Axel was a total creeper, he didn't have much to lose. But that was a big "unless."
"I'll go out on one date with you," Roxas began, "and at the end of it, I'll decide if you're sincere or not. We'll go from there."
"You still don't believe me?"
"Would you believe me if I came up to you and told you that I'd fallen in love with you after hearing you sing?"
"I'd think you were having me on, since my singing voice isn't… Well, it's not bad, but it's not good either," Axel admitted sheepishly.
"I've been told by every voice teacher I've ever had that I sound like the most generic boy band singer they've ever heard. Based on that, it's hard to believe you. So take what you can get," Roxas added with a slight smile.
"Point taken. Are you free right now?"
"As free as I'll ever be."
"Then let's go paint the town," Axel replied, holding out his arm.
After each of them was on their third bar of sea salt ice cream, Roxas began to loosen up. So far, he liked Axel. Talk with the red head came naturally, even with a mouth full of ice cream, and it was hard not to like someone who was so honest with his feelings.
Roxas had not expected to wake up naked in Axel's bed, however. When Axel had invited him inside for a late night movie to close off their date, Roxas had basically thrown himself at the older man. How could he have been so stupid? Sex on the first date? Roxas had then proceeded to beat his head against the nearest surface, which happened to be Axel's chest.
"Remembered last night, huh?" Axel asked with a chuckle, his green eyes soft. Roxas looked up in a hurry.
"Were you awake the whole time?" he asked cautiously.
"Yep," Axel affirmed. "I was watching you sleep. And then wake up and freak out."
"Why wouldn't I freak out?" Roxas squeaked, his voice not coming out properly. "I woke up naked in the bed of someone that I met yesterday! And I wasn't even drunk last night!"
"Relax, Roxas. Nothing happened," Axel replied soothingly, gently smoothing Roxas' spiky hair.
"You'll understand if I don't believe you, right?"
"Here's what happened," Axel began, sitting up. "To put it bluntly, you forgot to come up for air, and passed out. My roommate thought you might learn a valuable lesson about throwing yourself at people you barely know if you woke up in an unfamiliar place, with less clothing than normal. You're not naked, by the way. I thought you would be more likely to believe me if we left your boxers."
Roxas cautiously lifted the covers and looked underneath. Sure enough, both of them had their underwear on. "This was your roommate's idea?"
"He's only 17, so I hope you can forgive him. Oh, and forgive me, too," Axel added as an afterthought. "I'm not exactly guiltless. I just made sure you kept your underwear."
Roxas stared at the sheets for several minutes, trying to sort out his feelings. All in all, he'd been quite lucky, and knew that he could trust Axel. "I can't believe I passed out because I forgot to breathe," Roxas mumbled.
"I'm glad you did," Axel admitted. "I'm not sure what I would've done if things had gone any farther. I really love you, ya know. Our little date made me even more sure."
"I believe you," Roxas whispered, still staring at the sheets. He slowly looked up, his clear blue eyes eventually meeting Axel's green. "Can I see you again?"
Axel's smile as he wrapped his arms around the little blond would've been enough to brighten anyone's day. "You can see me anytime you want."
When Axel released him, Roxas located his pants and dug something out of the pocket, handing it to Axel. It was a Popsicle stick with the word "WINNER" on it. "Next time, I'll treat you to ice cream."
"Zex, out of curiosity, where exactly did you send your virus?"
"Twilight Town," Zexion replied indifferently.
"What's wrong with Twilight Town?"
"Zex, that's…" Axel struggled to form a coherent sentence. "That's Roxas' hometown."
"So, his family is still there! If something happens to them, it'll be your fault! Sure, Roxas won't know that, but I will."
Zexion's pace slowed as he weighed his options. "I can't send it anywhere else at this point, and it's not like we can warn his family, either."
"Maybe we can," Axel observed.
"Roxas doesn't really keep up with the news, so we could tell him that the government has reason to believe that an act of terrorism will happen in Twilight Town soon, but that people should be safe from it if they stay in their houses. He'll assume that his parents ignore the news just as much as he does, and ask them to watch the news before setting foot outside of their house."
Zexion lifted and eyebrow, utterly unconvinced. "Will that really work?"
"If it doesn't, and something happens, it's on your conscience."
"Can you live with that?" Axel asked in all seriousness.
"I can live with a lot of things."
AN: I wonder if you can tell what exactly my major is from this chapter... Or my favorite pairing. I'm pretty sure that the Akuroku interlude was longer than any of the individual parts. ^^' Next chapter means Demydems! As always, show me your love or hate by reviewing! (That includes you, Niff.)