As the two power-mad competitors jumped on the dance pad, Marluxia glanced over Demyx, a sly smirk on his face. "May I do the honors…?" the Graceful Assassin asked.
"Sure – you're gonna get your butt handed to you no matter WHAT you choose," Demyx scoffed back.
"We'll see about that…" Marluxia grumbled, flipping through songs.
While that was going on, Larxene silently stalked up to Xigbar, and grabbed his hand. He blinked, completely dumbfounded, and turned to her. "What—?"
She put a finger to her lips, shaking her head, and began leading him away. No one seemed to notice their absence…
Except for one particular blonde gambler, that is. Luxord's eyes narrowed into slits as he watched the two stealthily make their escape. Why that little… He huffed angrily, slinking from shadow to shadow, following after them. Where do THEY think they're going?
He crouched down and peeked around a corner to see the two caught up in what seemed to be an important discussion. Xigbar was leaning against a wall, listening to Larxene talk with a somewhat incredulous look on his face. He rarely seemed to interrupt, though when he did, Larxene listened intently. She didn't angrily cut him off or snap at him like one would expect from her.
Though Luxord strained to listen, he couldn't make out a single word either of them said – just low, urgent murmuring. His face flushed with indignant rage. What could they be TALKING about that's so important that they'd have to leave and go by themselves like this? What is she SAYING to him?
Suddenly, Xigbar's face lit up in sudden realization, and Luxord could hear him give a long, "Ohhhhhhhh…!"
"Yeah… See, that's what I was trying to tell you…"
Luxord leaned forward trying to catch more of their secretive conversation, when he heard Marluxia give a loud, "Ah-HAH! This looks like it'll be a good one!"
Larxene looked up. "Ah… Looks like the two boneheads are starting again… C'mon, let's go – we'll talk about this more later."
Luxord pressed his body against the wall, trying not to call attention to himself. Damn that limey bloke…! He couldn't have chosen a worse time to make his bloody decision, could he?
He held his breath as the two passed him; they didn't seem to notice he was there. He sighed in relief, and was about to head off behind them as if nothing had happened, when Larxene called out behind herself, "Yo, LUX! You comin' or what?"
Luxord stared at the blonde, astonished. H…How did she…? Oh, forget it! With an angry grunt, he followed after the two.
Demyx was smirking at Marluxia's choice as if he were an idiot for even considering it. The arrogant look on his face irked the Graceful Assassin to no end. "Butterfly, huh…? You sure about that?"
Marluxia nodded proudly. "One of my favorites. I can beat ANYONE at this song."
"We'll see about that soon enough. But first…" Demyx's eyes glittered malevolently. "Why don't we kick it up a notch…?"
Marly didn't like the sound of that. He narrowed his eyes, peering suspiciously at Demyx. "… What do you mean?"
Demyx smirked again, shrugging nonchalantly. "Well these ARE the finals, after all…" he started. "I think that it's about time we graduated from silly old LIGHT mode, huh?"
Marluxia gasped as he flipped the mode onto standard. "WHAT? Standard – are you craz—"
"OOPS! My foot slipped!" Demyx pressed the "start" button before Marluxia could do anything about it. He was going to play on standard whether he liked it or not.
As the music began, Marluxia's head started to whirl. BLAST! That son-of-a-biscuit-eating BULLDOG! I can't believe that cur would pull such a cheap shot! I'm GOOD in standard mode, but probably NOTHING compared to him! He shot Demyx a nervous glance. What am I gonna do? What am I gonna DO?
He didn't have enough time to think out a plan, because before he knew it, the dancing had begun. SHIZ-NIT!
Xaldin tsk-tsked, jerking his thumb in Marly's direction. "He's sweatin' it already – I can tell."
"Aye," Vexen agreed. "Doesn't look like he's gonna last too long, huh?"
"Not on standard he won't," Zexion grumbled, crossing his arms.
"You can say that again – imagine if it was on hard!" Roxas cried.
"Oh jeez – I'm going into cardiac arrest just thinking about it…" Luxord said with a shudder.
Marluxia gulped slightly, hearing his audience murmuring in slight disapproval. He was so thrown-off, that his foot slipped and it cost him about four "boos". Demyx grinned.
Xigbar threw his hand in the air exasperatedly. "WELP! That's it. Game."
"Yeah – no way Marluxia can come back from a slip up like that," Larxene agreed.
Marluxia's eyes narrowed into slits and his jaw clenched tightly. NO! he thought. I will NOT go down this way! I will NOT! I am the Graceful Assassin for Christ's sake!
He glared over at the Melodious Nocturne who was smirking as if it was already over, and, so overcome with blazing jealousy that he could hardly THINK, did something he thought he'd never do…
Saix gasped. "WHAT THE—?"
"What is he—?"
Demyx yelped and ducked just in time to dodge a fierce spinning kick. It cost him three "boos" and a "good" that Marly easily racked up with all "perfects". His eyes widened as he realized what was going on.
Indignant rage instantly flared up in the blonde, unofficial champion. CHEATING? In MY tournament? Why I oughta—! "O SNAP!"
He had to sacrifice two more "boos" to dodge a carefully aimed sweeping kick. Marluxia was now in the lead.
He growled, trying his best to make up the points, but Marluxia wasn't ABOUT to give up his lead any time soon.
"Can he DO that?" Roxas cried.
Lex shrugged. "I… I can't believe it, but… It looks like Marluxia's actually gonna WIN!"
Demyx's eyes blazed with an insane fury. Oh NO he's not! he thought, glaring in the cocky assassin's direction. Deciding to stoop to the mongrel's level, he pushed Marluxia as hard as he could.
Marluxia screamed, nearly falling off of his DDR pad. It cost him seven "boos". Whether he liked it or not, Demyx was back in the lead!
"AGH! Why you little! UGHN!" Marluxia shoved Demyx back, and continued racking points up.
"HEY!" Demyx screamed. With an enraged grunt, he shoved Marluxia as HARD as he could. This time Marluxia DID fall off the DDR podium.
He barely had enough time to get in two perfects before Marluxia tackled him to the ground, shrieking with rage.
"WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING? GET OFF OF ME!" Demyx shrieked.
"Hell NO, you big CHEATER!"
"I'M the cheater?"
"Sure as fuck am! I never agreed to play that song on standard mode and you freakin' KNOW it!"
"It doesn't MATTER! I'M the unofficial champ so I get to make the rules around here!"
"Well last I checked that wasn't a god-be-damned RULE!"
"Don't you take that tone with me you CRETIN!"
"CRETIN? Why I oughta—"
"GAME OVER!" the game announced suddenly. "Oh well. Practice makes mediocre!"
Demyx stared at the Game Over screen – the first one he'd ever earned. EVER.
"You…! YOU…!" He screamed abruptly, and began slapping Marluxia in a complete frenzy. "LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!"
"ME?" Marluxia shrieked, slapping back. "YOU'RE the idiot who rigged the freakin' game—!"
"HEY! Break it up!" Lex cried, ripping Marluxia off of Demyx's body.
"Yeah, seriously," Xigbar added, helping Demyx up. "It's just a game, after all—"
"Don't TOUCH me…!" Demyx hissed, yanking his arm away.
Marluxia glared at him, patted himself down, and looked up at the score. A giant, wicked grin split his face in two. "Well, well, WELL!" he laughed. "Look who's the new OFFICIAL champ!"
Demyx gasped, whipping around. "WHAT?" he screeched. He stomped his foot. "Oh that does NOT freakin' COUNT! You're DISQUALIFIED for CHEATING!"
"But you can't do that!" Marluxia said with a snicker.
"WHY THE HECK NOT?"
"Because… It's not against the RULES to cheat!"
Demyx stopped for a second. "OF COURSE IT'S AGAINST THE RULES, YOU DOPE!"
Marluxia only jerked his thumb in the direction of the chalkboard. "Coulda fooled me."
Demyx blinked, and scrambled back over to the chalkboard, running his finger over the words as he hastily read over them.
"One: No beginner mode. Two: If someone beats you fair and square, no going berserk, saying they cheated, and cussing the winner, along with the game out with every foul word in the book. Three: … Have… fun." The boy's eyes widened as he trailed off.
Marluxia's smirk grew wider. "I rest my case."
Larxene blinked. "He DOES have a point…" she pointed out.
Demyx looked as if he was going to tear his hair out. "AGHHH…! Okay, FINE!" He snatched up the piece of chalk, and scrawled on the chalkboard, "NO CHEATING."
He underlined it three times and huffed with self-content. "There! DISQUALIFIED!" he screamed, pointing at Marluxia.
"Doesn't count. You wrote it AFTER the match," the Assassin replied with a cocky smile.
"As much as I hate to admit it, I'm with Number XI in this one," Saix said slowly.
Demyx ground his teeth together with enough force to shatter a rock, his face turning a dark scarlet color and his nostrils flaring ever-so-slightly. He looked about ready to EXPLODE!
"… Fine…" he hissed at last. "We'll go against each other again… BUT!" His eyes narrowed on the pink-haired assassin. "I get to pick the song this time! And if I catch you cheating again…" He let the sentence dangle threateningly.
Marluxia only shrugged nonchalantly and motioned dramatically to the DDR dance pads. "After you, soon-to-be-defeated-UNoffical-champion…!~"
Demyx growled and stomped past him. Xigbar slapped his forehead. "Man, I am really not likin' the new, crazy Waterboy, dude…"
"Neither am I," Axel huffed, his pride still maimed from the scathing beating Demyx had dished out before.
"Eh – neutral," Larxene yawned, leaning heavily on Xigbar's shoulder.
Luxord hissed at the very sight.
"I just don't get why Marluxia would go out of his way to make him even crazier…" Lex murmured. "It just doesn't make sense!" He was already plenty revved up about winning…"
"That's what he's counting on," Zexion sighed. "He's hoping Demyx will get so involved with trying to beat him, he'll slip up and eventually fail. Personally, I don't think that's going to happen. Demyx is way too professional… Especially when it comes to this sort of thing…"
"I wouldn't count on that…" Roxas grumbled, watching the steamed Waterboy flip through various songs.
"… Ah-HA! Here we are!" He grinned over at the Assassin. "Aerobic ABCs. And, YES, we ARE doing it on standard mode!"
"Why?" Marluxia asked.
"Be-CAUSE it's a part of the rules!"
"No it isn't."
"YES, it…" Demyx trailed off, then growled. "Hold on…"
As he stomped over to write the newest rule up on the chalkboard, Marluxia sighed and began mentally preparing himself for the challenge – something he hadn't been able to do the time before.
Zexion shook his head in disbelief. "Ooh, this guy is good."
Vexen gasped. "Oh my… Did Zexion just give Number XI a compliment?"
"Surely the sign of the apocalypse…" Lex murmured, managing to keep a completely straight face all the while. "You aren't the Anti-Christ, are you?"
The two did as they were told, grinning all the while.
Marluxia glanced back as Demyx jumped back on his pad, snarling. "…What?"
"I wrote it down."
"Wrote what down?"
Marluxia pulled the most irritatingly blank look possible. "… Rule…?"
Demyx glared holes into the older man. "… Never mind…" he hissed past gritted teeth.
Without another moment of hesitation, the match officially started.
Everyone watched in awe. At first, the song started slowly, but as it went on, the tempo kept on increasing ever-so-slightly. As expected, Marluxia held his own exceptionally. The two almost looked identical, their feet moving in uniform to the words of the song. Both bobbed their heads to the beat, trying to "feel" the rhythm better. Despite Marluxia's lax attitude before, the air was pretty tense. No one smiled or cracked jokes now!
The Organization watched in reverent silence.
Lexaeus raised an eyebrow. "Huh… Marluxia's actually doing pretty well for himself…"
"I agree," Vexen huffed. "Never would have guessed that the pink-haired buffoon would make it so far. But it's only a matter of time before IX, as the kids say, 'lays the smack-down on his whup-ass'."
"Hmmm… I wouldn't go as far as to say that…" Lex murmured. "In fact, I think he might have a pretty good chance of winning—"
"Are you MAD?" Vexen cut in. "I don't think you saw how badly Demyx HUMILIATED me before!"
Lex shot him a side-ways glance. "And I don't think you saw how badly Marluxia beat ME."
Vexen rolled his eyes. "Lexaeus… my old friend… No offence, but even I could beat you… And that's saying a lot."
Lex rolled his eyes with a little huff. "Don't rub it in."
"I'm not. It's just that… well… I know XI is an exceptional player, but… well… Demyx is the Melodious Nocturne. Music is his thing."
"And Marluxia is the Graceful Assassin. C'mon, Vexen – I know you don't care for him—"
"—but at least give him some credit. I think you are forgetting how competitive he can be once he sets his mind to it."
"I am giving him credit," Vexen hissed. "But there is definitely NO way anyone – XI included – could take IX in DDR. There is just no way."
"Mmm-hmm… Well…" Lex turned his attention back to the on-going match.
The tempo of the music was slowly speeding up and the combinations of the moves were steadily getting more and more difficult. Still, the stony-faced competitors showed no sign of weakness and continued flawlessly. It was going to be an extremely close match.
"… Then how about a little bet…?" Lex continued softly.
Luxord perked up a few yards away.
Vexen blinked. "… GAMBLING, Lexaeus? YOU?"
"Just a tiny one… 25 munny that Marluxia will win. If you are really as confident as you'd have me believe, then you have nothing to lose."
Vexen grinned. "Ah, this is such a big mistake , my friend… But no skin off my nose. 25 munny on IX. And don't expect some sort of discount because you're a good acquaintance of mine. No, no – I expect all of it – and in cash."
"But of course."
The two shook hands firmly to seal the deal.
Sure enough, it was only a matter of time before Luxord came moseying on over, his usual charming grin plastered on his face. "Say, lads…" he drawled in his silky-smooth British accent. "If I heard right, it seems you two chaps are havin' some sort of deal, correct…?"
Lex nodded. "Yes, Luxord – we're betting on who will win the match."
"Ah… I see…" Luxord flashed another class-A grin. "How's about I help… uh… make it official? Ya know – cash in the bets and all that rubbish, savvy?"
"I don't know why anyone would bother, anyway," Axel scoffed with his arms crossed. "Demyx is 'bout near unbeatable. Got it memorized?"
"Yeah – especially as crazy as he's been getting," Roxas added.
"So what – do you wish to place a bet as well?" Lex asked calmly.
"Yeah – I guess we do," Axel replied. "Fifty munny that—"
"FIFTY MUNNY?" Luxord squealed. "Oh no, no, no, no, NO, mates! That just won't do! You need to bet at least 500 munny each or it ain't a proper GAMBLE, savvy?"
"Yes, kids, remember – gambling's good for you…!~" Vexen drawled.
"Shut up, ya old geezer – I ain't no kid!" Axel snapped.
"So it's official then? 500 munny each?" Luxord interrupted in hopes of stopping the catfight before it started.
"Sure, man, whatever."
Luxord grinned slyly. "Good… good…"
Roxas raised an eyebrow. "Well, Lux, who do you think is gonna win? Ya know – sine you're runnin' this whole gamblin' charade anyhow…"
Luxord grinned and shrugged. "Well, pretty much the obvious choice would be—"
"I think Marly's gonna win," Larxene cut in.
"Yeah," Xigbar added.
"M-Me, too!" Luxord screamed, blushing furiously. He glanced at Xigbar, and pouted a bit, determined to show his loyalty.
"Alright then! Wait – why?" Vexen asked with a raised eyebrow.
Luxord blinked. "Uh…"
Larxene shrugged. "I know my way around Marluxia better than Emo-Boy knows his way around mascara," she grunted, jerking her thumb in Zexion's direction.
He glared holes into the back of her head.
"Once he gets his mind wrapped around something," she continued, "he won't let go for all the tea in China, and he's HELL-BENT on winning this here tournament."
"Yeah, and I know Demyx, and when he starts getting all psychotic like this – as rare as it is, it can only mean one thing. Big trouble," Xigbar added.
Xaldin sucked his teeth. "Xigbar, you're makin' a big mistake, man. "I thought you were smarter than that! There's no way Mr. Pink-Haired, Fruit-cup Sissy-pants can take the Waterboy in any kinda dance competition."
"Look how well he's doing now!" Lex pointed out again.
"But you're missing the point!" Zexion hissed. "Anyone who would possibly resort to CHEATING is obviously incapable of coming out on top!" His voice came out a bit more forceful than he would have liked, but he was still stinging from that one emo remark Larxene had given before.
"Exactly," Vexen agreed.
Axel grinned. "Ah-HA! Two bookworms on my side? Now I know there's no WAY I can lose this bet!"
Lex rolled his eyes. "Well, Saix, whose side are YOU on?"
Saix, who was staring silently at the match, blinked slowly as a thoughtful expression caressed his face. After a moment, he turned his golden, emotionless eyes to the others. "Usually, I'd go with IX… But even as much as I loathe that pompous, arrogant fool Marluxia… I can never forgive that boy for mortifying me like that…"
Larxene blinked. "But… I was the one who beat—"
"Not that," the Diviner growled.
"Also, if someone beats you fair and square, NO going berserk, saying they cheated, and cussing the winner, along with the game out with every foul word in the book. …Saix…"
The dark frown on his face deepened into a scowl. I can't believe that jackass would single me out like that…!
"… Oh… Well, um…" Luxord blinked, staring at the tightly drawn expression of repressed rage on the other's face. "… Uh… Yeah. So how much are you guys bettin' on this again?"
Saix handed him a huge wad of cash. "10,000 munny on the pink buffoon."
Xaldin's eyes bugged. He let out a low whistle. "So… much… confidence! Alright – I'm in for 50,000!"
"I'm raisin' mine to 100,000!"
Luxord grinned giddily as the munny poured in.
Marluxia and Demyx were in the heat of battle by now – eyes locked on the screen, their minds swirling with the tempo, and their feet going faster than lightning. Neither really heard the shouts and screams and betting going on behind them; their thoughts were both on the utter destruction of their enemy.
With a wide grin finally cracking his face in two, Demyx polished off the song with a dramatic twirl, earning one last 'perfect!' "HA! I win – I didn't miss a single one!" he boasted triumphantly.
"Ooh! That's nice, that's nice, but, uh… Guess what? Neither did I, dumb-fuck!"
Demyx eyed him carefully. "… Not a single one? At all? Including 'almost's and 'good's?"
"Yup. I swear to God, Kingdom Hearts as my witness."
"Then… I guess we're gonna have to go by score…"
Marly shrugged. "M'kay."
There was a tensed silence, though most of the anxiousness was radiating from the gamblers in the back since both players were absolutely certain they'd won.
There was complete silence as the game tallied up the score. Suddenly, Xigbar gasped, along with half of the audience.
Saix blinked. "Well, what do you know…? XI beat him by 4 'perfect's. Unbelievable." A grin almost cracked his face. Almost.
Vexen let out an extremely mature whine. "But… But that's IMPOSSIBLE!"
Luxord cackled giddily. "TIME TO PAY UP, BETCHEZ!"
Axel groaned, fishing around in his pockets for his bank card. "This is SO unfair…" he grumbled as he portalled off.
"Tell me about it…" Roxas sighed, following after him.
Zexion glared at Lex one more time before he left. "H…How could you possibly…?"
Lex simply shrugged and smiled. "I have my hunches…"
Zexion stared at him a while longer, gave him a quick, short nod, and portalled off to pay his dues.
Luxord grinned at Xigbar and Larxene who were slapping each other high-fives and howling with laughter. "Well, how did you know Marly was gonna win, Xiggy?" he asked.
Xigbar shrugged, still grinning up a storm. "Iunno – I just went with what Larxene said!"
Luxord grinned, nodding a bit as he thought back to how much munny he'd scored by this lucky strike. … Alright, this makes us even, he decided in his mind.
And as the now-broke losers hobbled off to pay off their gambling debts, what were the two players doing? Well, Demyx, for one, was staring slack-jawed at the huge TV as if he couldn't believe it. Marluxia crossed his arms, grinned slyly at the younger man.
Something inside Demyx snapped. "No you DIDN'T!" he screamed with enough force to actually make Marly flinch. "I won! ME! You CHEATED!"
"I did not!" Marluxia cried. "Everyone SAW me! I won fair and square this time and you KNOW it!"
"I WON, okay? ME! Me, me, ME! I'm Demyx! The Melodious Nocturne! A freakin' SITAR for Christ's sake! I'm the CHAMP!"
"Not anymore you're not," Marluxia replied with a grin as he sidled off. "DDR has a new, official champion, and that champion is me. Ta-ta!"
"No, no, NO!" Demyx screamed, practically foaming at the mouth. "I WON! Not you! ME! DANGIT!"
He kicked the DDR pad, in rage, pulling at his hair and screaming at the top of his lungs about how he HATED this stupid game, and how he wished the creators would die in a fire, and how much Marluxia was SUCH a cheater and on, and on, and on for… quite some time.
Saix watched the spectacle with an amused twinkle in his eye as Demyx broke the very rule he'd been singled out for!
Ah, karma is a cruel bitch, is she not…?
And this time he DID smile.
And now for a word from our sponsors…
Truth be told, there were supposed to be two other chapters of GaNACO, but I've just about moved on, so I don't expect them to ever be done. Oh well. They would have been pretty funny, too, if I could just get up the inspiration to do them.
Also, as you can see, Luxord is a firm believer in the phrase that "munny heals all wounds". XDDD
Hope you've enjoyed!