Life was so, so very tiring some days. And boy, did missions not help.
Demyx hadn't eaten dinner yet - in fact, he hadn't eaten since breakfast, except for that granola bar he'd forced himself to eat when he got home just because he knew that going without food for too long could trigger a seizure. He'd come back two hours too late for dinner, and he was just too exhausted to try to cook for himself. All he wanted to do - and all he intended to do - was flop into bed and just sleep. His clothes were so dirty - why did those stupid Heartless have to hang around the mud puddles? Especially in them? - that he just had to get out of them first, and he was so tired that undressing seemed like a horrible chore, but it was the last obstacle between him and a nice, long sleep...since that nice, long sleep was the only thing between him and the next 7 AM wakeup call, and by extension, his next mission, and his next day of chasing Heartless through mud puddles instead of doing anything even vaguely pleasant...followed by the next day of chasing Heartless through the mud, and the next day, and the next month, and the next year...
Even when he was feeling his least generous, Demyx had to admit that his overall quality of life had only improved dramatically with the Organization, once you got past the not having a heart thing. But the daily grind could be so, so boring...if it wasn't for frequent days off, sleep would be his only relief from the Heartless-hunting routine. Ah, sleep...first things first, he had to get his filthy uniform off, but then, sleep, glorious sleep...
"Hey, Demyx -"
"Gods damn you to every hell ever invented, Axel! Have you ever heard of knocking?!"
"Jesus fuck, I didn't expect you'd be changing right now!"
"Well, then, next time, knock before you open the damn door!" Yes, this was just the thing Demyx needed to improve his mood. At least Axel had the decency to avert his gaze and look embarrassed, even if doing something sensible like backing out and closing the door behind him never occurred to him. "So what do you want that's too important to knock for?"
"I just wanted to let you know we were going to the Venue tonight," Axel said, looking a little offended, as if Demyx was the one who'd done something wrong.
"Well, you guys have fun, then," Demyx growled, flinging his mud-splattered pants into the laundry basket. "I seriously couldn't be less interested right now."
"Call me a wet blanket all you like. I've spent the entire damn day chasing Heartless through the mud, and I don't feel like staying awake and active any longer than I have to. Besides, there's nothing special about the Venue except the number of nights the police get called in to break up a brawl." To emphasize the point, Demyx, now down to a T-shirt and boxers, crawled into bed and pulled the blankets as far over his head as he could. "Good night. Turn out the lights when you leave."
"...You are Mr. No Fun, got it memorized? You seriously need to get out more."
"You seriously need to get out now. I said good night." Demyx could vaguely hear Axel muttering to himself as he left the room and closed the door behind him, but at least he had the decency to turn out the lights as requested. Groaning slightly to himself, Demyx closed his eyes, willing himself to drift off and forget the day. Normally, he could sleep anywhere, anytime, and boy was he ready to sleep right now.
It didn't happen, unfortunately. Exhausted as he was, all he could do was lie in bed with his eyes closed, cursing consciousness and his own worn-out body and the feeling of being so utterly spent that he was too tired to fall asleep. As if not being able to just go right to sleep wasn't bad enough, Axel's parting words kept rattling around in his head: "You need to get out more." Not like Demyx really agreed with him in general, and he was really in no mood or shape to go out tonight in particular. But he just couldn't get those words out of his head, and the thought that tomorrow and the day after and the next week and the next month would be spent chasing Heartless through the mud just like today, and the knowledge that this was what life was like in the Organization and he wouldn't be getting out of it until he died, got his heart back, or was permanently disabled...
I need to get out. Not that I need to get out more like Axel says...I just need to get out. Just for a while.
Why couldn't he just get to sleep...?
With a faint sigh, Demyx uncovered his face and rolled over so he could look out the window. Like that was going to help; the view was only going to remind him endlessly of his inability to sleep tonight, but it was marginally better than staring at the inside of his eyelids and wishing he could sleep. Seriously, this wasn't funny; he really needed his rest right now. He needed sleep. He didn't want to have to chase Heartless through the mud tomorrow on no sleep. He didn't want to have to chase Heartless through the mud tomorrow, period (or the snow, or the rocks, or the streets, or whatever environment he happened to be in), but no sleep would just make it worse. Closing his eyes again, he tried to focus on how tired he felt and how much he needed to sleep and how nice it would be to just drift off into a dream world where he wouldn't have to chase any damn Heartless through anything. It didn't work this time any more than it had the first time, and after what seemed like half an hour, he gave up and opened his eyes again, staring wearily at the sky outside.
A firefly flickered just outside his window.
...Now this was worth staying up for, even if only by accident. There weren't any fireflies in the World that Never Was; the only native insects (and the term "native" was used very loosely) were flies and cockroaches. That firefly had no business being there, and there it was anyway. Intrigued, Demyx stood up and went over to the window for a better look - yes, that was in fact a firefly; he could see its little insect body now. What in Kingdom Hearts's name could it be doing there? How did it even get to this world? Did he even care that much? It was there, and that was the important part. Demyx rested a hand on the window, completely fascinated, as the firefly lit up again, as if to say "hello".
Another firefly suddenly flew in and landed on Demyx's wrist, blinking at him.
Demyx could not believe his eyes. One firefly, outside, was impossible enough, but a second firefly, inside the castle? He turned around, careful not to move quickly enough to dislodge the firefly, and saw that Axel had left his door open just a crack, and three more fireflies were slipping through it, to hover in midair in front of him. After a moment, the one on his wrist joined them, and they floated closer to the door as if beckoning for him to follow. Demyx couldn't help but follow.
The fireflies led him out of his bedroom and out into the hall, where several more fireflies joined them. Demyx stopped worrying about where they came from, at this point, figuring that it was enough to know that something very strange and potentially awesome was going on right now. He simply followed the winking lights down the hall, down the stairs - how many fireflies were there now? More all the time, was all he knew - and out the front door, still in nothing more than his T-shirt and boxers. The scene outside the castle was absolutely unfamiliar, a landscape of grass and willow trees and a beautiful little pool next to the beaten dirt path that led from the door into a forest of willows, but Demyx was no more fazed or concerned by this than if the doors had opened onto the same old cityscape as ever. The fireflies paused for a moment, hovering over the pond so that their twinkling reflections made them look twice as numerous, then continued on down the path, into the forest. As soon as Demyx stepped into the forest, it seemed to surround him. He almost gasped at the sight - it seemed like every star in the sky had somehow come down to play in the willows, there were so many twinkling fireflies around him. He could have stood and stared at the scene for hours on end, completely dazzled, but the cloud of fireflies he'd followed into the forest was hovering closer to him now, and one even landed on his nose, as if to ask Are you coming? Brought back to reality, or whatever this was, he continued to follow them down the path, still awed by the sparkling forest around him.
The path led to another clearing like the one just outside the castle, mostly filled with a large pool of water that sparkled like the night sky itself, over which towered the biggest willow Demyx had ever seen. The cloud of fireflies he'd been following dissipated into the surrounding forest, as if to indicate he was being left to his own devices now. Demyx was too overwhelmed by the beauty of his surroundings to move for several minutes; all he could do was stare at the twinkling lights in the forest and on the pond and in the sky. Eventually, still hypnotized by the lights, he took a few hesitant steps towards the pond. More fireflies suddenly exploded from the grass under his feet, briefly enveloping him in a cloud of stars.
This is amazing...is this really happening? Especially to little old me? Or is something about to go horribly wrong?
The fireflies swirled around him, in a definite pattern; either they had a sort of group intelligence or they'd choreographed this. Demyx could do nothing but stand and stare at them, utterly dazzled. All of a sudden, one landed on his nose, blinking at him until he went cross-eyed; he couldn't help but giggle, and then laugh out loud. By now, he didn't honestly care if this was some sort of devious trap. This was just too awesome. This was enough to make him grateful that he couldn't sleep. "I should have insomnia more often," he said aloud, and the fireflies did a few collective loops around his head, as if agreeing with him. Then they pulled a few feet away from him and coalesced into the form of a glittering woman with dragonfly wings, who held out a hand to him; even though he knew she was only a cloud of fireflies, Demyx couldn't resist taking it. Somehow, it felt solid to the touch, instead of like a handful of insects, but a second after he made contact, she dissolved into fireflies again, which swirled around him as if trying to dance with him. He laughed out loud again and started dancing, "invisible-partner" style, the way he always prayed no one would catch him dancing like in the castle. But here, no one else was around to laugh at him or call him an idiot. Instead, a thousand - ten thousand - ten million fireflies poured out of the forest and flew out of the grass, filling the open air with twinkling green stars.
Fuck sleep. If I can have this every time I have insomnia, I'd rather stay awake.
Demyx couldn't stop laughing now, or dancing; after all, he always had music to dance to inside him. The fireflies, either sensing his elation or full of their own, swirled around in time, sometimes coalescing into a humanoid figure for a few moments to dance a few actual steps with him, though none so obvious as the dragonfly-woman. One bunch of fireflies flew up into the air and formed itself into a ball - a natural disco ball, Demyx thought, except of course much more awesome. It flashed and sparkled above his head as he danced on, feeling a million worlds away from Heartless and mud puddles and the daily grind. This was almost a life-defining moment. Only once in his life had he ever experienced a high like this, while dancing in the rain, and he'd never expected to capture that feeling again; this not only recaptured it, but transcended it. As the fireflies swirled close around him, as if trying to give him a hug, he felt like he could fly away with them.
All of a sudden, they started to fly away. And he remained firmly grounded.
"Wait, don't - " he protested uselessly as they swirled away into the sky, ten million points of light slowly dwindling into the distance. "You can't just..." But obviously, they could just leave him there, and had. All he could do was stand there helplessly and watch them swirl overhead briefly, as if saying goodbye - how he hated goodbyes all of a sudden - then disappear among the rest of the stars, as the stars blurred and disappeared in his own misty eyes. "If you have to go, take me with you," he whispered, even though he knew he was wasting his breath. Within moments, the fireflies had vanished, leaving him alone in the middle of the clearing, fully aware that something incredibly magical had just happened to him and that he'd be chasing Heartless through the mud tomorrow anyway. Suddenly weighted down with despair, he lay down under the huge willow tree, staring sideways out at the starlit grass and feeling sorry for himself. I can't go back to the daily grind after that, he thought to himself. I just can't. I couldn't stand it.
As if summoned by his depression, a handful of fireflies suddenly appeared out of the forest, clustering in the grass around him and apparently trying to cheer him back up. If he was counting right, there were exactly nine of them. He couldn't help but smile just a little at that. "I'm tempted to keep you in a jar so you can't fly away too, but that seems kind of wrong," he murmured to them, and they flashed at him, as if in agreement. One flew over and landed on his nose, which made him laugh softly.
The ground started to vibrate under his head. Not the ground - his pillow.
"Fuck the world," he growled as he sat up - in his bed, at the castle - and tried to find the button on his alarm clock that would make the stupid pillow stop vibrating. Maybe it was less strident than a normal alarm clock, and would still wake him up even if his hearing aid batteries had burned out overnight or he'd just slept without them, but blessed Gods, it was still obnoxious. Once he'd managed to turn the stupid thing off, he started to get out of bed, but found himself suddenly unable to move. The fireflies...the forest...the dance...fuck the worlds, he must have been dreaming the entire time. The whole incredible experience had never actually happened. The realization was almost enough to make him burst into tears. He managed to keep a grip on himself, but it was still a crushing blow to think that none of it had been real. He should have known the entire time - nothing so wonderful or magical could ever really happen to a Nobody, especially him. He'd spend his life chasing Heartless through the mud, without so much as a real vacation. It beat the hell out of life on the street, but damn, did it leave a lot to be desired too.
Finally dragging himself off the bed, he hauled himself over to the window, to stare out at the cityscape of the World that Never Was and long desperately for the willow forest and the clearing where the fireflies had danced with him. Please take me away from here, someone - anyone, he wished desperately, knowing he was wasting his time.
A firefly flickered just outside his window.
Demyx stopped breathing for several moments, not certain if it was really, honestly there or if he was just hallucinating or wishful-thinking. It flickered again, and he nearly fainted - yes, it was there, it was real, even if the whole dance and everything had been just a dream there was something really magical there, because there was the real firefly. It flew away a moment later, but he didn't care; he'd seen it, he knew he'd really seen it, and that was good enough for him. He could have squealed with joy, except Axel would hear him if he did and he didn't want to explain himself. It would just seem too weird.
Well, that didn't really help me get away from here, though.
He blinked at the thought, then laughed aloud at himself. Well, if he really wanted out of here that bad, why in Kingdom Hearts's name couldn't he do it himself? Off in the distance, a tiny green light flickered, as if the firefly had somehow heard his thoughts and was agreeing with him. Demyx grinned and gave it a cheeky salute, then headed for the shower, thinking of whose arms he'd have to twist and how hard in order to get himself some real vacation time. Even if there weren't any fireflies, he wouldn't have to chase Heartless through the mud for a while.
Outside, the firefly flickered again. It couldn't speak, but if it could, it might have said Mission accomplished. Then again, it was only a figment of a dream, but when your dreams started to burst at the seams, things could happen.
AN: It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep, because my dreams are bursting at the seams...
Also, this is the shortest story I've done in quite a while. Kind of sad. (gets back to work on everything else she has to write)
Kingdom Hearts and all associated characters belong to Square Enix and Disney. "Fireflies" belongs to Owl City.