Without the ability to write during my breaks at work, I have a feeling that my progress on this story might grind to a halt during this semester. This chapter is longer than usual which will hopefully make up for some of the delay.
It was just one of those days. In the old days, back before everything started falling apart, one of those days would be a day when Demyx royally screwed up his mission. He would get yelled at by Saix and, if he was particularly unlucky, lectured by Xemnas. Then, his streak of bad lack would continue so that whoever was cooking that night would burn their food, and to top it off Axel would play some sort of prank on him. But today Demyx had been nearly been killed by Sora and forced to beg for his life, had made a deal with enemies which might get him labeled traitor if he ever managed to make it back to the Organization, proceeded to get attacked by the Beast, and finally watched Xaldin fade to death right in front of him. Nope, this was probably the most terrible day he'd had since he'd become a Nobody. And worst of all, it wasn't even over yet.
Xaldin's death had been more of a shock then Demyx wanted to admit. After he'd gotten over his initial panic at discovering he was in Beast's Castle, Demyx had figured out how to trick Xaldin. He hadn't been lying when he told Sora that Xaldin hadn't wanted to work with him, he had just neglected to mention that in the end he got the lance wielder to agree. Somehow Demyx had figured out how to play both sides. He had convinced Xaldin that he'd pretend to accidentally let Beast know Xaldin was after the rose (after all Xaldin wanted Beast to know he took it- angering Beast was the whole point) while at the same time he used that information as a bribe to convince Sora to sort of trust him again. No matter which side came out on top he'd win. He hadn't ruined his chances of traveling with Sora so he was safe if the keyblade wielder won. And if Xaldin won he'd head back to the Organization talking up as much as he could the role he'd played and claiming it should count as beating Sora. It admittedly was a stretch, but it's not like he could actually beat Roxas' other on his own.
Demyx had watched the fight from the shadows since he had no intention of actually joining in the battle. Secretly he'd been rooting for Xaldin, since the elder Nobody's victory would allow him to come crawling back to the Organization. But, to Demyx's dismay, Sora had won, and not only that, he'd killed Xaldin. The Whirlwind Lancer was one of the tougher Nobodies and now he was gone, with nothing left to show of his existence but a red stone. Demyx had never seen a greater Nobody fade before and it was not something he ever wanted to see again. Certainly he didn't want to witness his own fading. At least Demyx still had Sora's protection, but now he'd gotten a reminder what the innocent looking kid was capable of. Somehow Demyx would have to keep Sora from killing him while at the same time not betraying the Organization. It almost had him rethinking his conclusion that Sora was more merciful than Saix.
The only good thing that had come out of Beast's Castle was this should help him tell Sora apart from Roxas. Because Roxas wouldn't have just killed Xaldin, right? Well, Roxas would certainly have fought Xaldin if he wanted to stop the elder Nobody, but Demyx was pretty sure Roxas would never have gone as far as to kill the other Nobody. In truth, the Melodious Nocturne had never been anywhere near as close to the thirteenth member as Axel had, but he always thought that he and Roxas had gotten along well. He'd liked their youngest member and he liked to think that at the very least Roxas didn't dislike him. Demyx had done a little pretending earlier in the day that it was Roxas he was traveling with, but no more. Sora clearly wasn't the same as their former member and thinking so might prove to be a fatal mistake.
Back to the present where he was traveling on Sora's ship to some unknown but probably hostile world. After all, Sora's allies were the Organization's enemies. Any place Sora was welcome, Demyx wouldn't be. Demyx had known the entire flight that whichever world they were heading toward would be bad for him, but even still he was shocked when he discovered which world it was: Hollow Bastion. He doubted that Sora could have picked a worse place. In addition to almost dying there yesterday, Demyx had done recon there a few times. He'd learned one important piece of information: the members of the Restoration Committee were not the kind of people he wanted to mess with. He would much prefer to stay as far away from them as possible.
As he followed Sora through the streets, staying right on the keyblade wielder's heels, Demyx noticed the looks he was receiving. It seemed the Restoration Committee had warned all of the citizens about the Organization. As they passed the city's market Demyx considered that maybe it was time to get new clothes. He'd been lucky that Xaldin hadn't heard of his change in status but he doubted that would last much longer. Surely by tomorrow, word would have spread throughout the castle that he was blacklisted. As long as he was officially not a member anymore he might as well wear something other than clothes that marked him as the enemy.
"Sora! Hey!" cried a female voice. A petite black haired girl holding a spiked weapon vaulted over a trash can and ran to meet them. Demyx recognized her from his recon. She was a member of the Restoration Committee, Yuffie. Her face had lit up at the sight of Sora, Donald and Goofy but when she saw Demyx she frowned. She poked Sora in the shoulder and whispered something in his ear.
"I know," Sora replied. "It's complicated. This is Demyx. Demyx, Yuffie." He introduced the two like there was nothing weird about having an Organization member following him.
"Hi." Demyx waved figuring she probably wouldn't want to shake his hand. "Uh, nice to meet you," he lied.
"I'm the great ninja Yuffie!" she announced to pointing to her chest proudly. "So don't try anything Organization Boy- I'm watching you." It wasn't exactly what Demyx was expecting to hear, but it could have been a lot worse. He shrugged and gave what he hoped was charming smile.
Yuffie ignored him and turned back to Sora, Donald and Goofy. "You guys planning to stay the night?"
"Yup," Goofy confirmed.
"We found another page," Donald proclaimed.
"I'll visit Pooh in the morning and see if it helps," Sora added.
Demyx didn't have the slightest idea what they were talking about but Yuffie understood. "Great," she said, "good luck."
Demyx let out a gulp as he recognized the building they were heading toward, the headquarters of the Restoration Committee. He really should have seen it coming, but he couldn't do anything about it now. There was no way he was going to leave Sora's side while on such a hostile world, not for a second. He'd just have to hope Sora would keep the Restoration Committee from killing him. Visibly shaking, Demyx followed the keyblade wielder into the house.
Directly across from the front door a man sat behind an impressive looking computer setup with his back to them. When he heard the door slam he turned around. "Hey kid, y-the Organization!" he abruptly cut off his greeting when he noticed Demyx. He hit a button on the computer and stood. He grabbed out a dangerous looking spear that had been propped up nearby. "What are you doing here?" he demanded, leveling his weapon at Demyx.
Now that he was facing forward, Demyx recognized the man as Cid, another member of the Restoration Committee. The Nocturne fought his instinct to step away from the weapon and instead moved forward so he was a step closer to Sora. "I'm following Sora," he explained. "And I'm kinda not in the Organization anymore."
"You quit? Why'd you quit?" Yuffie asked, sounding genuinely curious. She idly spun her weapon in her fingers.
Demyx frowned. He didn't like to think about it. "They gave a me a mission I had to do or I'd get kicked out and I couldn't do it."
Yuffie snorted, "You expect us to believe your nonexistent heart suddenly grew a conscience?"
"No, I tried, really I did, twice even, but I couldn't pull it off."
"So what was this all important mission?" Cid asked.
Demyx didn't really want to say, but Sora was there and he knew the truth so if the Nobody lied Sora would probably call him on it. "Defeat the keyblade wielder," Demyx admitted quietly. Cid let out a breath and Yuffie abruptly caught her weapon mid-spin. "I think they wanted me to prove my worth, but I couldn't do it- I don't have any," he finished glumly.
"Humph, that was a good story. Now what are you really up to?" Cid punctuated his demand by stabbing forward with his weapon. Even though there were still a few feet and Sora between the spear and himself, Demyx danced backward, further away from the pointed weapon. Unfortunately, this took him closer to the door which opened a second later and in strode none other than the leader of the Restoration Committee.
"You," Leon growled out, reminding Demyx of Beast. Quick as a flash the gunblade was off the tall brunet's back and swinging in a downward arc toward the Nobody.
It met with a blue sitar that was hastily summoned to block the blow. Demyx grunted under the strain. He did not need this today, not when he was already so beat up. "Hey man, what gives?" he demanded.
Leon opened his mouth to respond, but he was cut off by a new figure materializing in the room in a poof of blue smoke. "For the hundredth time, no fighting in my house," the old man robed in blue scolded.
"You, outside now," Leon demanded his stormy grey eyes trying to bore a hole into Demyx.
Hiding behind Sora wasn't an option since on the small brunet's other side Cid's spear was still leveled at him. Instead Demyx retreated across the strange house for the far corner roughly diagonal from the door. His stomach wounds were starting to ache horribly but he fought to keep the pain from showing on his face. Holding his sitar was becoming harder so he was forced to dismiss it. "No." Demyx couldn't stop himself from sticking out his tongue announcing, "You can't fight me if I stay inside." He crossed his arms.
Perhaps that wasn't the smartest of things to say. Leon looked like he might be willing to risk Merlin's wrath. The swordsman stalked across the room. He reached for his gunbalde. "Leon! Don't make me turn you into a cat." Merlin threatened.
"Fine," Leon muttered quietly and grabbed the Nobody roughly by the arm.
"Hey, no fair!" Demyx complained as he was dragged toward the door. "Let me go! Sora, stop him!"
"Sora?" The shock froze Leon in place. "Why would you ask Sora for help? Just what are you doing here?"
"Well, if you megave a chance to explain rather than just attacking me outright..." The way Leon squeezed his arm told Demyx how unwelcome his commentary had been. He opened his mouth again to explain then thought better of it, "Ask him," he said, pointing to Sora. "I already explained it to that guy," he indicated Cid, "And he didn't believe me."
Leon frowned and kept a firm, painful grip on Demyx's upper arm. "What is he talking about?" he asked the keyblade wielder. "Is the Nobody with you?" He sounded very doubtful.
Sora looked uncomfortable. "Sort of." He looked to his two companions for help. The duck scowled and Goofy shrugged. The spiky haired boy took a deep breath then tried to explain. "Demyx, uh his name is Demyx- he came up to me earlier today and wanted to fight me. He claimed that he can't go back to the Organization unless he beats me. I don't know if he's telling the truth or this is some kind of plan but I beat him easily. I almost killed him but I couldn't bring myself to finish him off."
Goofy helpfully added.,"Since he doesn't have anywhere to go now, he agreed to stay with us. This way we can keep an eye on him. We don't know what else to do with him, we're hoping the King might know."
"I have a few ideas," Leon suggested darkly.
At the other man's tone Demyx's self preservation instinct kicked in again. Manipulating water was much harder and less powerful without his sitar, but it was still possible. Demyx summoned as much water as he could and aimed it Leon's grip. A concentrated blast of water struck Leon's hand with as much force as the water mage could muster. Stunned, the warrior loosened his grasp. At the same time Demyx drove the elbow of his free arm into Leon's gut and used the man's surprise to yank his arm free. Aware that he was far from out of danger, Demyx moved closer to Sora. "Thanks for helping me out there," he commented sarcastically, "I totally didn't almost get killed by a gunblade or anything."
"We aren't going to help you," the duck shot back.
"But..." Demyx started scrambling with his thoughts, the whole reason he was following his enemies was so they'd protect him. They'd said they'd protect him, right?
Sora looked thoughtful. "You said I'd protect you from the Organization because I have to fight them anyways. But I never said anything about protecting you from people I wouldn't normally fight," he reasoned out.
"You have to face the consequences of your actions." Goofy oh-so-helpfully added.
"That's just uncool!" Demyx exclaimed. He was in real trouble here. Leon was advancing on him again and he was in no shape to fight. "Hey man, take it easy." He took a step back. "I don't want to fight you."
"Tough," was Leon's reply.
Demyx took another step back and hit the wall. "Really, we aren't even enemies. The Organization doesn't want Hollow Bastion, the elders try to avoid this world." This was only sort of true, but he would have to pray Leon bought it. Truthfully, most likely because they were originally from Hollow Bastion the elders were rather wary of it. To Demyx's knowledge, except for recon, the Organization had only gone to the world twice, and both times it was because Sora had gone there.
"The Organization attacked Hollow Bastion yesterday," Leon all but growled at him.
Already backed into a wall Demyx could go no further back. "Not really. It was that witch..." of all the times to forget her name, "...uh, her. She wanted her castle back so she sent the heartless army. We just came to make sure and collect the hearts."
"Your nobody minions attacked."
Demyx gave a sheepish smile. "That wasn't really the Organization. They were mine and they only attacked Sora's group. I was trying to buy a little time."
"Time for what?' Leon demanded sharply.
Demyx rubbed the back of his head. He didn't want to tell this hostile man. Leon wouldn't understand. But Demyx couldn't think of a good lie. "I just wanted more time. I wasn't so sure I could beat R-Sora. I was stalling," he admitted.
Before Leon or any other members of the Restoration Committee could reply the door opened again and a new person came it. "Sorry I'm late, when I got the message I was all the way-oh!" Her speech abruptly cut off as she noticed the scene she'd walked in on. The newcomer was a gentle looking girl in a pink dress. Demyx recognized her, she was a member of the Restoration Committee but not a fighter.
"He's hurt," she announced making her way over to where the Nobody stood against the wall. There was no mistaking her tone, Demyx actually heard compassion in her voice.
Leon placed a protective arm in front of the pink clad girl. "Aerith, stay back. It isn't safe."
She made face at him, jutting out her lower lip. "He's bleeding." At her words Demyx risked a glance down. No wonder he was feeling so weak, the bandages wrapped around his abdomen had changed in color with fresh blood. They were nearly soaked through. At some point during the exchange with Leon his wounds had started bleeding again.
"It's black blood; he's a Nobody," Leon told her.
"I know," Aerith replied, "But that doesn't mean I'm just going to stand here and let him bleed."
Demyx felt himself getting dizzy and braced himself against the wall. He'd been so preoccupied with keeping Leon from killing him that he hadn't noticed how badly he'd started bleeding. In front of him Leon and Aerith were having a staring contest. Sora, Donald and Goofy were watching them with some interest but it didn't appear they had any intention of interfering. "Give it up, Leon," Yuffie called from across the room. "You know Aerith is way more stubborn then you." Her tone was light and there was a hint of joking in her voice. Demyx, whose very life was possibly at stake, didn't think there was anything funny about the situation.
Without a heart, feeling anything, whether they were emotions or merely memories of emotions required conscious effort. Some of the other Organization members had never cared enough to bother putting in the necessary energy, but Demyx had always tried his hardest to feel. But now, he was too drained to bother. He stopped forcing himself to feel and let his Nobody state take over. The day had been so trying, and injured as he was, all of his power was being used to keep himself standing upright. He had nothing left to devote to feeling and truthfully no desire to feel. The end would be so much easier if he couldn't feel any fear or regret. The potion Xigbar had given him had completely worn off and now the pain was getting much worse. He found himself wishing that the pink clad woman would just stand aside and let Leon kill him. He had been crazy to think he could survive without the Organization. Maybe it was for the best. Was a quick death too much to wish for? Would Leon torture him first? He found was losing the energy to care and even his survival instinct was failing him. Demyx wobbled on his feet, no longer caring about what came next.
At last the stalemate ended. "Whatever," Leon grumbled moving away from his quarry.
Aetith moved in on her prize. "Come on," she told him a voice that left no room for arguments, "those bandages need to be changed." Taking Demyx's arm she led him away from the wall. He followed unresisting after her.
Aerith pushed Demyx into a chair. She worked quickly unwrapping his bandages and inspecting what lay beneath. At one point as she fingered a very distinctive gash and frowned to herself. It was clear from the shape that the keyblade had caused it. It looked for a moment like the brunette woman was going to comment on this, though to him or to Sora, Demyx wasn't sure. But instead she pursed her lips and applied a stinging antiseptic the cut.
While Aerith worked, the others had gathered at the opposite end of the small house and were talking in low tones. Demyx could take one guess as to what they were discussing. He ignored them and focused on not crying out when the antiseptic was applied to each and every one of the multiple cuts decorating his body. The healer had started with the his chest but eventually removed his coat and moved on the to fresh claw marks on his shoulder wiping away the blood. Aerith hummed to her herself as she worked and Demyx found that even in his drained state the musician in him appreciated the melody.
"No magic," Leon's voice suddenly rang out, disrupting Aerith's pleasant hum, "no potions either. You can bind his wounds, but let them heal on their own."
Aerith frowned at Leon's harsh words but made no reply. Silence descended on the odd pair as she went back to work. Across the room the discussion finished. The others walked over toward him with Leon and another fighter, Cloud, who must have entered when Demyx wasn't paying attention, at the front. "Demyx," Leon said in a stern voice, "Sora tells me your name is Demyx. He has assured me you're not a threat, but if you take one step out of line or if the Organization so much as threatens Hollow Bastion, you will regret it. Understand?" When Demyx didn't answer Leon repeated more forcefully, "Understand?"
"Yes." The Nobody dared to look Leon in the eyes as he replied.
"Good." The confrontation out of the way, everyone prepared to settle down for the night. Not trusting him in the slightest, the Restoration Committee had decided to take shifts in watching him just in case he had some super evil plan up his sleeve for while everyone was asleep. His plans for the night were actually to get a restful sleep in the hope that his injuries would feel better in the morning, but if the Restoration Committee wanted to spend their night taking turns watching a Nobody sleep, who was he to discourage them. Besides he knew his protests would just fall on deaf ears. As long he lacked a heart he might as well have had "evil guy- do not trust me" stamped on his forehead.
He closed his eyes and relaxed. The picture of Xaldin fading came into his mind unbidden. Eyes shooting open, Demyx took in the sight of Leon, whom had taken first watch, staring him down and made a startled noise. Shifting in an attempt to get comfortable and wincing when he moved his injured stomach, Demyx frowned. "Are you going to spend the whole night staring at me while I sleep? It's creepy."
There was nothing but hostility in Leon's reply. "Don't give me those lies, you can't feel. You don't know what creepy feels like."
Demyx found he didn't have the energy to argue. "Whatever," he replied and set to work carefully shifting and turning till he was lying on his side facing the wall away from Leon. He tried his best to ignore the eyes he could feel burning holes in the back of his head. He concentrated on the feeling of lying on the sand of a warm beach. He relaxed his body and mind thinking only of gentle sea breezes and the sound of waves lapping against the shore. Only when he was fully mentally on the beach did he dare to close his eyes and drift off.
If it seems like Leon gave up too easily, the Restoration Committee isn't done with Demyx yet...