A/N: The chapter titles and themes are based on songs by the incredibly talented Kanon Wakeshima. They are, of course centered around Vincent and Naminé (a.k.a my favorite crack pairing of all time).
I'm sorry if this came out too long. Once I got going I couldn't stop.
Disclaimer: The words are my own, the characters are not. Do not own; do not want. Too much responsibility. Please don't sue.
Chapter One: Still Doll
The darkened room was filled with a tomblike silence. Beyond its corroding walls and forgotten doorway lurked the fleeting vestiges of another summer's day. Such a place paid no mind to the marks of time, no matter how ruthlessly the years ate at all that surrounded it. In that dank and sullen place time did not exist; only regret remained.
As the walls crumbled away only one thing remained constant: the long and black metal box placed in the very center of the dreary chamber. Perhaps it wasn't so much the box – for that too had begun to reveal its rusting exterior – as what it contained.
The silence was broken by the soft scratches of lead wandering calmly over a fresh blank page. Naminé had taken a brief moment to run her fingers over the smooth and immaculate surface and inhale the fresh scent of paper. Soon the virgin page would be marked and another memory would be remade. The paper in her sketchbook, paper that seemed to never run out, were like blank moments rather than pages. Each one was waiting to be filled.
No matter how strong the memory, how notable it may have been among the rest even though each one was crucial, the small blonde Nobody was never compelled to finish one without a muse on hand. Without true motivation her drawings were useless and thus they lacked the need to be placed among the rest. Artists were driven by such foolish things, so much so they devoted hours, weeks, and months, to search for intangible inspiration. Some lose their muses forever and mourn the loss of the force that gave them a will.
For a very long time she had lost her own. A muse could be anything: envy, sadness, sunlight, or snow. Hers had been a strong determination to right her wrongs. The guilt clouding her mind led her to fill vast amounts of her sketchbook with bittersweet scenes of years past. Sora had been her puppet; she had bent his will so drastically there seemed no chance of repairing it to what it once was. It was that sole fact that drove her to confine herself for days in her room, scribbling incessantly until her sketches no longer resembled her older work that boasted such fine detail. Her muse had begun to depart.
She looked out over the coiled spine of the sketchbook, pale blue eyes scanning the room. The black box lay motionless, and no signs of life emerged. In truth it was a coffin – for only coffins held bodies. But Naminé refused to call it as such. Coffins contained the dead, but what the box contained was alive, no matter how still he laid.
She left it closed today, assured that if he was laying in there so diligently he wished to be left covered. Occasionally she would push the lid aside – just a crack – and steal another glimpse of him.
He was like a doll laying motionless in its case. His jet black hair held a fine sheen even in the dismal and dark room that was his tomb. His face, both smooth and sophisticated, contained a certain androgyny that left her calling him both handsome and beautiful. The man's tall frame was fit snugly into the box. No dust or cobwebs dared to tarnish his pristine state.
Of course that wasn't how she had found him. Naminé had uncovered her 'doll' by mere happenstance. She was in search of a muse at the time. The guilt she had used so freely had waned, leaving only bitterness. She had been misused, toyed with, and thrown aside like a ragdoll. Was it so wrong of her to wish for something to call her own? That something had been Sora's friendship – a contrived farce she felt horrible for forcing upon him. She wasn't her Somebody, the rightful person in his heart; she deserved nothing. Nobodies deserved nothing.
It was then that self-hate withered into self-pity, leaving her a listless shell. Her muse had fled then. And for the longest of times she endured the glare of those blank moments waiting to be filled, the scathing words of DiZ's reprimands, and Riku's indifference. They would never understand. How could Somebodies claim to know so much when they recognized so little?
One day she had decided to wander through the mansion, the derelict edifice used as their lame cover, and came across a door. It was one of many locked and left to obediently hold their contents. That particular door was failing to uphold its duty. The doorknob was slowly wasting away, its golden paint chipping to reveal the dirty metal beneath. She reached out to it and turned it only to have the knob clatter to the floor. After years of upholding its duties it had finally been defeated by the disease of time. She pushed the door aside and listened to its aged hinges wail in agony as the door opened inch by inch. What lay inside was a darkened hallway leading to a stairwell engulfed in a void of blackness.
She ended up there, in the basement not covered in metal panels and running circuits but of dark stones and eerie pathways. It was there that the strange man lay; forgotten by the world and content with that fact.
Another sketch was complete and she could not help but smile softly. They were improving. Axel's hair was no longer a mess of jagged red streaks; Sora no longer looked like a porcupine, they looked right.
She did not know his name - the man in the box - and that may have added to her inspiration. Nameless, like her. Her own name had never been her own – in truth 'Naminé' only meant 'name' so where was the sense of entitlement? It only propelled her feelings of injustice. But the creature in his own prison did have a name; he must have at some point.
He had confined himself there, she knew that was certain. Regret, guilt, despair – all of it poured from the rotting coffin like noxious vapors bent on suffocating those who got near. The box was not locked; no chains were slung over it to contain the man yet he appeared to have been there for years. Still, no rats had come to gnaw at his flesh, no maggots and moths to burrow into such a lovely host. In fact there were no pests to speak of in the room. Spider webs clung to the corners but no sign of the crawling little creatures could be seen. No squeaks from scavenging rats. He was alone – spare his quiet guest dressed in white. No living thing dared to go near him.
He was her muse now. It seemed selfish, she thought quietly. However, her thoughts soon changed. Whatever in the world did she have to call her own? Did she not earn just one small thing to hold dear, even if it were only an unconscious revenant? She found inspiration in his dismay, a drive in his sadness. She absorbed them into herself, molding them until they forced passion into her art and tears in her eyes.
She set her sketchbook and pencil aside on the cold stone floor and rose from her cramped position on the floor. Stretching her thin limbs she stepped cautiously over to the long black box. She was due to leave soon. As much as she preferred to remain in that dark chamber DiZ would want to see her soon and look over her progress. She just wanted to see him one final time before she departed.
Some days he looked so calm, like he had just drifted off to sleep. Other days she had found his head tossed aside with long black streaks of his hair cast over his pale skin and his face contorted in anguish. Sometimes the box would shift from its place as if he had thrashed about inside its confines. Sure enough she would see him exhausted in spite of his perpetual slumber.
One day though she'd found him in tears. Instead of clear salty streams down his cheeks dark red blood ran down his face. A faint coppery scent drifted through the air when she wiped them away with a damp cloth retrieved from upstairs.
Her doll lived and he cried.
The lid gave way with a protesting groan. Today was one of his usual days. She looked down at him through the slightly wide gap she made. She could see him perfectly even through the lack of light. His pallid skin held a faint incandescence all its own. The faded clothing he wore rested perfectly in place as his chest rose and fell between long intervals. A long lock of hair had fallen across his face, dividing it into two halves.
Her fingers twitched. She had only ever touched him once, when his bloody tears had run rampant over his skin. There was something so odd at the thought of simply touching him for something so trivial.
Before she could stop it her hand was already brushing aside the stray lock and brushing across his cheek. Within an instant her hand was seized in a vise so strong it took her breath away. She'd been grabbed before; her wrists cruelly yanked and her hair tightly pulled, but none of her aggressors had ever possessed the strength of the hand completely engulfing her delicate wrist.
Within seconds she was pulled forward, her arm yanked upwards. A flash of gold tore through the air towards her – sharp talons spreading their razor-sharp tips. Her eyes didn't acknowledge the menacing points, only the pair of burning blood red eyes boring into her wide Alice blue orbs. Fury radiated from his glowing eyes; anguish and rage swirling within those dark pools like mad beasts.
She did not scream, only stared calmly with a raised brow at what she saw. She held no fear of her muse.
His eyes changed, all the fury suddenly drained away as pure bewilderment conquered his features. The claws nearing her throat halted, their points grazing the soft flesh briefly before slowly withdrawing. The gloved fist trapping her wrist fell limp, allowing her to pull her aching forearm back.
The deathly silence that usually enveloped the room paled in comparison to the disquiet surging forward from both man and girl. She tilted her head at his sudden change of heart.
They stared at one another, neither offering more than a simple stare. Naminé couldn't help but appraise him like he were a newly found gem. He truly was beautiful; elegant and somehow still perfectly unruly.
He looked away and surveyed his surroundings. Not a trace of the neglected room seemed to surprise him. He sighed.
The voice cutting through the mounting silence was raspy from disuse. It didn't stop the young girl from admiring the sonorous timbre. She had heard his weak order, and opened her mouth to speak.
So many questions littered her mind: Why was he there? How long had he been there? Who was he? What was his name?
His eyes passed over her before looking behind her. The sight of her sketchbook caused his brow to furrow.
Naminé glanced over her shoulder. "Oh!"
Rising from her kneeling position at the coffin's edge she ran to her sketchbook and pencil. Picking them up she held them to her chest.
"I . . . I was drawing."
He narrowed his eyes.
She held out a hand, "Oh no, not you. It's very hard to explain."
When he said nothing and continued to stare she pressed on. As daintily as she could she took a seat in the same spot on the floor against the wall. It was marked by a clear area in the stone among all the dust and grit.
"I sit here sometimes," All the time. "I like being down here."
"I find that difficult to believe," the man said.
Naminé shook her head, "I do really. It's lonely."
The man looked at her skeptically, obviously drawing a contradiction from her words. How could someone enjoy being somewhere so dilapidated and devoid of light? How could someone enjoy being alone?
She smiled a tragic little smile, "That sounds strange doesn't it? Sometimes it wasn't so lonely. I knew you were there, asleep; I could almost feel when you were sad, so I never really felt alone."
"I'm Naminé," she said clutching her sketchbook to her chest.
". . . Vincent."