Not So Different – IV & IX

At least it wasn't Heartless elimination again.

It was the only positive thing that Demyx could find about his situation. He had been sent out with Axel the other day, and it had been horrible. The Melodious Nocturne didn't like fighting, preferring to wait until it was the very last option. As it was, Axel was good-natured enough and uncaring of Demyx's opinion enough to do most of the work, leaving Demyx time to jam on his sitar out of the Flurry's view.

Today's mission was to find Vexen. Simple enough. The scientist had been sent to the Land of the Dragons to do some recon, and hadn't returned. It was only one night, but Saïx's orders were to go and see what was keeping the fourth member from returning to the castle. Demyx had actually spent most of the morning lounging around in the mountains, playing his sitar. He had been pleased to discover that snow was just liquid enough to respond to his aquamancy, and had been making snow clones to play with. But now it was time to get serious. Where was Vexen?

The sensation wasn't as clear as it would have been if he was knee-deep in water, but Demyx could still sense the tell-tale signs of another Nobody. It was coming from farther up the mountain, away from anything they needed to be doing reconnaissance on. What in the name of Kingdom Hearts was the scientist doing? Demyx used his ability to manipulate his element to aid in getting up the mountain faster, and his eyes widened in astonishment when he reached a ledge near the top.

A half-constructed palace built entirely of snow was perched on the mountainside. As Demyx stared, he spotted Vexen near one side, raising a wall of snow, his fingers glowing with a faint icy aura as he formed it to the architecture already standing.

"Vexen!" Demyx called, hurrying over. The scientist yelped, and immediately made a show of dusting snow from his coat to cover the fact that the sitarist had startled him.

"What are you doing here, Number IX?" he questioned sharply.

Demyx grinned crookedly. "Saïx sent me to find you when you didn't come back. I can't believe you're building a snow fort!"

"Number IX, I am-"

"That's AWESOME!" Demyx interrupted, and Vexen raised an eyebrow.

"Why is it so unbelievable that I would do such a thing? Architecture is a fascinating pursuit."

"I dunno." Demyx kicked at the snow that buried his boots, shrugging. "You just seem so… stuffy, all the time. All the Elders are like that, except maybe Xigbar. Xemnas is spaced out, Xaldin and Lexaeus don't like to talk, and I'm not even going to go into Zexion…"

"So you believe that in our 'stuffiness' we do nothing simply for the sake of experiencing the memories of enjoyment?" Vexen queried. "You who play your instrument on a near-constant basis are going to criticize me on how I spend my spare time?" He sighed. "Perhaps Zexion is right in terms of camaraderie. It does no good if all of our neophytes think ill of us. If only they showed a little more respect…"

Demyx, recognizing the danger signs of an impending Vexen-rant on respect and rank, hurried to distract the academic. "Can I help with your snow fort?"

"It is a chateau, not a fort." Vexen snapped before he could catch himself. When Demyx grinned hopefully, he sighed. "Can you manipulate the snow?"

The musician nodded eagerly, and Vexen reluctantly agreed to allow him to help. But as it turned out, they made a brilliant team. Vexen could build remarkably sturdy structures of ice and snow, but Demyx had an eye for detail, his artistic nature providing a level of detail that Vexen wouldn't have considered. By the time they were finished, they had spectacular walls complete with battlements, and an inner keep that they could actually go inside. Demyx called up a chair and sofa out of snow, and Vexen sat down in the chair while Demyx flopped into the sofa.

"This was fun!" Demyx chimed happily. There were snowflakes clinging to his hair, but he made no move to brush them away.

Vexen found himself nodding in agreement. "I must admit… this was more enjoyable than I thought it would be."

"And you're pretty cool!" Demyx continued. "I thought you were all cold and stiff and unyielding, like ice… But you're actually fun!" He hesitated, then asked more quietly, "If our elements are so close to the same… Do you think you could help me train, so that I'll be better at missions and stuff?"

Vexen, if he had the necessary emotions, would have considered himself surprised by the request. No one had asked him to help with training in a while. But looking at eager ocean eyes, he really couldn't say no. Not if the Nocturne was so willing to learn. "I will warn you, Number IX, I have no patience for fools and slackers."

"I understand." Demyx wanted to be stronger. He wanted to be able to stand on equal ground with the rest of the Organization, even if he still didn't give one-hundred percent on missions. He might be lazy, but he didn't want to be a weakling.

Vexen gave a single curt nod. "When I am not busy in the labs, I will help you."

"Yay!" Demyx chimed. "So, we tell Saïx that there was an infestation of Heartless we thought we needed to get rid of?"

"Of course..." Vexen paused, turning to look at the door. While neither of them was as sensitive to the presence of others as Zexion, both could tell that someone was coming. They hurried outside, climbing the icy ramp to the battlements and peering over the side.

"Can't believe both of them… missing… Freaking snow…" A cloaked figure with a shock of red hair was trudging through the snow towards the fort. Obviously he was slightly snowblind, because he was only twenty feet from the wall when he seemed to realize it was there. "Holy…! What the heck is this?" His gaze travelled slowly up the wall, coming to rest on the two Organization members standing on the battlement. "They send you two on missions and you're here building snow forts? Wait till Superior and Saïx hear about this!"

"They won't." Vexen said calmly.

Axel snorted. "Yeah, what? An abominable snowman attacked? You got snowed in? I don't think that excuse will fly." He raised a hand, obviously intending to call a portal, but Vexen casually waved a hand and froze his feet to the snow he was standing in. "What are you…?!"

"Demyx." Vexen said simply, holding up a snowball. Demyx grinned, calling up an army of snow clones. Axel's eyes widened in panic, as Vexen, Demyx, and the snow army began to pelt him with icy missiles.


"Ice Cube Heartless?"

"Yes, sir. An infestation of them." Axel said sullenly, soaking wet and shivering. Vexen and Demyx stood behind him, nodding in agreement. Xemnas stared at all three curiously, and turned to Vexen.

"You and Number IX are not injured?"

"Just a little damp. Nothing a cure spell won't fix." Vexen said, smiling. Demyx grinned at his side, and Axel scowled. If they hadn't threatened to turn his bedroom into a skating rink…

Xemnas seemed to accept the tale, striding purposefully away to turn his attention to other things, like pining for Kingdom Hearts. Axel shot a final glower at Vexen, before leaving to take a hot shower and find some dry clothes. He was already plotting to get even. And Vexen turned to Demyx, saying only, "I don't think there's anything pressing waiting in the labs right now. Do you want to train?"

Demyx nodded enthusiastically, and they made their way down to the training areas. Demyx had gained a new opinion and new respect for the elders of the Organization, and Vexen had learned that not all the neophytes were annoying, arrogant, and/or disrespectful. All in all, a good day for the Organization.

It has been snowing on and off for over a week now, and in the process of constructing a snow fort by myself, it occurred to me that things would be a lot easier if I had Vexen and Demyx to help. Thus, this was born. Just something silly that I needed to put down in words. This is meant to be set sometime between when Luxord and Marluxia join the Organization. So there are only ten members so far, and it's a happy-verse where everyone doesn't hate each other. Yay!

(My snow fort is named Castle Oblivion. XD)