Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts, its characters and locations are all property of Square Enix and Disney.
Okay, this is my first Kingdom Hearts fanfic ever. I've been fascinated with the character of Zexion ever since his first appearance and I wanted to see if I could do something with him now that I'm on a KH kick again...and this thing turned up in my head. I hope you enjoy it—please leave a review if you do!
A Fleeting Hope
The World That Never Was. Its very name was a mystery, purposefully chosen to instil feelings of dread, apprehension and fear in whoever heard it. The likelihood of anyone other than the Organization members hearing it, though, was remote. This was their sanctuary, and its location a closely guarded secret.
The Dark City stretched out as far as the eye could see; empty and devoid of life save for the countless Heartless and Nobodies roaming the streets—and those creatures could hardly be called life in the traditional manner. Streetlights shone brightly everywhere, illuminating the roads where no one treaded. It was, in the most literal of terms, an artificial city—built for no other purpose than being there, to give an illusion of a pulsing and busy metropolis so that the Organization members could, if only for a few seconds at a time, convince themselves that their existence was real and worth keeping.
That had been its purpose from the start, though the Organization hardly paid it any attention at all anymore. Many now wondered why it was there, why the Superior maintained its presence when not even he bothered to acknowledge it. Perhaps he had lost control of it. The city grew, of that there was no doubt. New lights appeared on the horizon every "day", as it were, and it showed no signs of stopping.
But its centre, its core remained, as always, around the Castle That Never Was, a grey and white stone construction that clashed wildly with the city's architecture of steel, concrete and glass. Countless towers jutted from the base structure, connected by ramps and skyways that made it look like an external labyrinth. The Nobodies' symbol adorned several of its walls and doors, ensuring that none could wonder who was in control of the castle. The external structure itself was a nightmare for a logical mind to look at it, and its interior was no less difficult to accept, with its countless hallways that went nowhere, stairs that seemed to go up but somehow went down instead and doors that simply hid more sections of wall.
The Superior had also seen fit to ensure that no room in the castle had an uplifting name, his explanation for this being that as Nobodies, they had no need for such things, and that intruders needed to be discouraged. That was why there existed areas such as the Hall of Empty Melodies, Nothing's Call and Naught's Skyway. They did not inspire much confidence in any possible intruders. Not that there would ever be any intruders, of course, for this was the Organization's home.
The members thought of it as that, but all of them knew that any complete being, a Somebody, would find the castle disturbing and difficult to live in. And they liked it that way, for they knew that once their plan had succeeded, they would never need to come back.
It was "night", or what had been designated as night in The World That Never Was, which was always blanketed in perpetual darkness, and most of Organization XIII's members were sleeping in their rooms or out on missions. The castle's corridors were silent and bare, the very definition of empty. Every now and then, a small twang of sitar strings could be heard from a room with a door marked "IX", the sound of the Melodious Nocturne's insomnia.
There was, however, another member that was not currently sleeping in the castle. At Havoc's Divide, a large balcony of sorts that Luxord, the Gambler of Fate, had claimed as his own, a young man was sitting, his legs dangling over the side of the rail-less platform. Far below, there was nothing but sharp cliffs and hard concrete to break his fall if he lost his balance.
The Organization cloak betrayed the young man's affiliation, and the large tome in his hands would have surprised no one. However, the location for his reading was unusual and would have had most of the other members raising their eyebrows in an imitation of confusion, as this particular member usually spent his free time in the castle's considerable library.
Zexion's eyes darted over the letters on the tome's pages. He knew the entire book by heart—he had, after all, written it—but it never hurt to revitalise any knowledge, especially not since the tome—named The Book of Retribution—was also his weapon. With it, he could weave illusions that fooled anyone, even those who knew what kind of fighter the Cloaked Schemer was. He paused at his own thoughts. No, he was not a fighter. Lexaeus was a fighter—brawny, powerful and strong...and yet oddly contemplative and deep thinking. Zexion, however, was not physically strong or skilled with any other weapons than his Lexicon, relying on his intelligence and analytical mind to either have others fight for him or manipulate his enemies to defeat themselves.
A cold wind blew over Havoc's Divide, and the Cloaked Schemer shivered slightly. He appreciated Number I's enthusiasm for discouraging intruders, knowing fully well how catastrophic it would be if their location was discovered, but would it have killed him to raise the temperature around the castle just a little?
Finishing reading the last paragraph and opening the Lexicon on a blank page, he took out a delicate fountain pen and began writing down an incantation for an illusion he had been developing over the past week. It was a particularly complex one, and any interruption would be—
A desperate, howling cry rang through the castle, echoing across the city below. Zexion looked down at the ruined incantation, rolling his eyes. "Thank you, Saïx," he said quietly as he crossed out the carefully drawn symbols. He glanced over to the windows of Addled Impasse—the chambers that the Luna Diviner had chosen as his own—and tried to spot the berserker. Why the blue-haired man chose to expose himself to Kingdom Heart's lunar rays, knowing exactly what they did to him, was a mystery to everyone, even Zexion. He could see how the way the moon drove Saïx half-insane could be useful in battle, but now? Perhaps it was an addiction.
Zexion looked up at the heart-shaped moon, noting that it was far from complete, and that their plans were a long time from succeeding. Somewhere up there, so far away, Zexion's own heart was waiting. Waiting for him to release it and take it back and finally end his existence as a Nobody and return to life as his complete being, his Somebody.
The Cloaked Schemer remembered little of his earlier life, the only detail he was absolutely certain about being his name—Ienzo. He also knew that he had known the complete beings of Xemnas, Vexen, Xaldin, Lexaeus and Xigbar at the time, but who they had been and what their names were...nothing. He had asked Xemnas once, but the Superior had only given him a look of faint interest before saying that such details would be of no consequence until Kingdom Hearts was completed and their hearts would be restored—and therefore best left unknown. He had asked Lexaeus as well, but the Silent Hero had been just as tight-lipped, leaving Zexion to conclude that the others would not be of any assistance either and did not bother asking them.
He sighed and began writing down the incantation anew, counting on Number VII to keep his animalistic side under tight wraps this time. The symbols had to be drawn exactly and without a single flaw, or the spell would not work.
But it did not take long for yet another interruption to find him, and Zexion paused as he heard footsteps approaching from behind. He continued writing down the incantation, wishing that the person would go away. The newcomer's footsteps paused as they most likely spotted Zexion sitting at the edge of the sloping platform.
The wind shifted, and a familiar scent entered Zexion's sensitive nose, and he frowned slightly. This particular member was not known for his nightly contemplations.
"Can I help you, Number XIII?" he asked, finishing his writing and looking at it. It was flawless.
"Sorry, I didn't think there'd be anyone here," Roxas, the Key of Destiny, said.
Such a sentence would usually be accompanied by the speaker leaving, but when Zexion did not hear the youngest Organization member do so, he frowned again and turned his head to look at him, making sure that his steel-blue bangs were as carefully arranged as always. Roxas was looking at it him with curiosity, but said nothing.
"Obviously, I am here," Zexion said, wondering if that would kick-start the conversation and make the keyblade-wielder leave faster.
"I thought you'd be in the library or sleeping or something," the blond said, shifting a little under Zexion's intense gaze.
"I sleep very little," Zexion said, "and I desired a change of scenery."
A one-syllabic answer. How Zexion abhorred such verbal utterances. Or, he thought he abhorred them, since he could not feel it. He thought that he should dislike it, however, and that was enough reason for him to pretend. "Indeed," he said. "Was there anything else, XIII?"
"Not really," Roxas said, looking uncomfortable as he adjusted the zipper of his cloak.
"Very well, then," Zexion said as he turned around and began to look through his illusions again. It never hurt to look for flaws, after all. Two minutes later, at which point Roxas had still not left, Zexion began to wonder just what exactly the boy was waiting for. Was he waiting for an invitation to join Zexion at the edge, or something like that? The Schemer had not been looking for company when he came to this place, but his work for the night was done and he had never really had a proper conversation with the youngest member... He turned to look at Roxas again, and said, "Would you like to sit down?"
Roxas nodded gratefully and seated himself beside Zexion, but keeping a healthy distance between them. They weren't friends, after all, merely colleagues. The keyblade-wielder kept his eyes fixed on the city, but glanced over at Zexion every once in a while, appearing as if a question was on his lips every time.
"I would have thought you would be sleeping at this time of night," said Zexion suddenly, his mouth moving on its own. He hadn't intended to start a conversation now that it was obvious that Roxas wasn't going to leave for a while.
"Can't," Roxas answered. "Axel's on a mission, and I felt...lonely."
Zexion wanted to snort at the very notion of Roxas feeling lonely. But then again, he did seem to have a close relationship with Number VIII, the Flurry of Dancing Flames. Or, as Zexion thought of him, the Whirlwind of Prancing Buffoonery. "That is quite an achievement without a heart," he said instead.
Roxas looked at him. "You don't ever feel lonely?" he asked.
"I don't feel anything," Zexion said patiently. "And neither do you."
"Yes, I do—"
"No, you are merely fooling yourself into thinking you do, just like Number VIII." Zexion shot him a cold look and flipped through some pages of his Lexicon. He had better things to do than to argue with a stubborn child.
Roxas looked ready to shoot him a rebuttal, but he simply sighed and looked back at the city instead. Memory's Skyscraper could easily be seen from here, its massive video screen blank and empty. "I think you're lonely," he finally said. "You never talk to anyone; you're always reading if you're not fighting...do you even have any friends?"
That made Zexion think. He liked his privacy, and conversations that did not concern Kingdom Hearts, logic or scientific matters did not interest him very much...which automatically left out two thirds of the Organization as conversation partners. As for friends...no, he supposed he did not have any. The closest thing to a friend he had was possibly Lexaeus, but that "friendship" was limited to short debates on matters of philosophy and puzzles. Even so...
"No, I suppose I do not have any friends," he finally answered. "Though I do not see why I would need any either."
"Everyone needs friends," Roxas said firmly. "What's the point of existing if you don't have anyone to enjoy it with?"
"I seem to have done quite well so far," Zexion said. "And I am enjoying my existence just fine."
"Enjoying? More like enduring," the blond said.
"We are all simply enduring our existences," the Schemer said. "Even if some of us are fooling each other into thinking we enjoy it. No, we will all be simply enduring it until..." He glanced up at Kingdom Hearts. "Until we reach our goal."
Roxas looked up at the moon. "I hope we reach it soon," he said.
Zexion had a rant prepared for anyone uttering the word "hope" in his presence, with examples and analytical data for proof of just how foolish it was to believe they could feel anything like it along with several cleverly veiled insults, and he was about to embark on it when he happened to look at the boy's eyes—and nearly gasped.
For in those impossibly blue orbs, he saw nothing but hope. Real hope, not a clever or convincing imitation, but the real feeling—something Roxas should have been incapable of.
Zexion's mind immediately began to work over and analyze what he was seeing. Was it the keyblade that somehow let the Nobody feel actual emotions? Did it have something to do with Axel? Did the two actually force their belief in their friendship to such heights that they had somehow defied the need to have a heart in order to feel? A strange sensation filled Zexion's chest as he continued looking at Roxas as the latter stared up at Kingdom Hearts, a small smile gracing his lips. How could a boy, a heartless boy, be so utterly surprising? Zexion suddenly found himself smiling slightly as well, much to his shock. Something was happening...
"What about you?" the blond suddenly asked.
"P-pardon?" Zexion said, quickly trying to recover from the shock.
"Do you hope we reach our goal?"
Zexion cleared his throat. "I am wishing for our operation's speedy completion, yes," he said, avoiding the H-word entirely.
Roxas' smile turned into a triumphant grin. "I nearly got you there, didn't I?" he said. He stood up, still grinning. "Good night, Zexion."
"Good night, Number XIII," the Schemer replied, wondering what had just happened, clutching his Lexicon so tightly that his fingers were starting to hurt. He watched Roxas' retreating back and waited until he was about to step inside the castle again before asking: "Why did you come up here?"
"I told you," Roxas answered, "I couldn't sleep and Axel's away...and I wanted to cheer you up a bit." He smiled at Zexion and disappeared inside, leaving the Cloaked Schemer confused and struggling with the utterly flabbergasting sensation in his chest, which only seemed to grow for every minute that passed.
"Hope...hmph, how foolish," he told himself loudly as he tried to concentrate on his work. He wasn't able to do that for long before he found himself looking up at Kingdom Hearts again. His heart was up there, among millions upon billions of others, and he wanted it back. Feeling hope in the face of such a daunting and monumental task was ridiculous and stupid.
But because of Roxas, he now did.