Author's Note: For the longest time, I've been claiming that Zexion and Demyx are my second favorite pairing, while my ficlist so far contained a grand total of one oneshot featuring them (dated from 2008, no less). Well, no more. This is way overdue. Not to mention I've had this idea brewing for over a year, and I started writing this thing last summer. The epic failing shall hereby cease! XD
Also, A Spot of Bother just had a very merry un-birthday, y'all! 8D (HAHA SHE'S OLDER THAN MEEEE.) XD And since I recently finally got around to devouring her entire KH ficlist and realized that she writes some gorgeous Zemyx (omg omg), this is dedicated to her. My rendition of the pair is far inferior, but will, I hope, at least entertain. :)
So...the names and faces aren't mine, y'all. (Hey lookit that, I remembered a disclaimer-thingy!) 8D
Chapter 1 ~ Baby You Can Drive My Car
If there was one thing more irritating than being stuck in rush-hour traffic after a long day at work – enduring for 45 minutes what should be a 15-minute drive, max – it was probably the assholes who blasted their car stereos in an apparent effort to cause permanent damage to all eardrums within a four-car radius. To Zexion, they were even more infuriating than the people who couldn't drive. Inability to drive was just a combination of stupidity and inattention – most of the time – but deafening the general public was just plain selfish. Adding to the case against such people was the common denominator among all of them – ego. It was almost like a package deal – loud music and an overpriced, souped-up car driven by some young person who sat there like they owned the world and being considerate of other people was completely beneath them.
Today, the sound of a pounding bass approaching through the traffic made Zexion grip the wheel hard. Not that it would help. He had one lane going his direction, and there was one lane going the other direction, and this road got enough traffic for two lanes both ways, easy, but that didn't change the fact that he had nowhere to go to escape the noise. So Zexion resigned himself to his headache getting worse, and waited for the offending car to go away.
The offending car, however, first had to get closer. It turned out to be a car in the other lane, passing him at a crawl, and Zexion had plenty of time to glare in its noisy direction. He had a moment of pause, however, when he noticed that the car was actually…a piece of crap. A beat-up, off-green Volvo. Not the usual "too cool for school" fare. Without a second thought, the bored and irritated man was glancing at the driver, not even curious, but just…out of habit.
Dark, slate-blue eyes just blinked at what Zexion saw. The driver of the noisy car was a young man, and he was not sitting there like he owned the road. In fact, he didn't seem to have the faintest awareness of the road or the other drivers. He was bouncing to the beat…literally. He was damn near dancing in his car! And he was singing along with a huge grin, and it was about that point that Zexion could hear more than just the beat, and the tune was not that of some incoherent rap, but a bizarre techno song about someone named "Cotton-Eye Joe."
As the green Volvo of weirdness crawled up next to Zexion's car, the man couldn't help staring. He tried to do so discreetly, out of the corner of his eye – not that people really noticed other drivers, and not that this guy was likely to notice anything, but it was just…habit. What a strange guy… He seemed to have been unable to choose between two of the most eccentric hairstyles men's fashion had ever condoned, resulting in a mohawk-mullet of sandy blond. He had a lot of metal in his ears. Other than that – and the radiantly happy grin that didn't seem to stop for anything – Zexion could just make out hints of other random accessories, a scruffy-looking t-shirt, and…quite possibly a guitar case in the backseat. And, when the car passed him, his mirrors reflected back a greenish bumper plastered all over with stickers. "Give peace a chance," "Born to ROCK, forced to WORK," "Honk if you're horny," and a rainbow attached to some fluffy, once-white clouds, among a few others Zexion couldn't read in time.
With that, Bizarre Car faded from sight and hearing, leaving Zexion more amazed than headachy, and, truth be told…somewhat entertained. What a weirdo.
It was April. It was sunny and warm and there were people in the world who weren't bothered by traffic jams. Lucky bastards. But Zexion was smiling just a tiny bit as he thought it – infected unawares by a grin too big to be contained on one face – and he didn't even notice the lift in his mood that lingered all the way home.
Later that week, in the midst of another traffic jam on the way home, Zexion's ears perked up at the sound of another noisy car – as, in fact, they had been doing for the past couple days. Dark eyes searched the traffic for off-green. The last few noisemakers hadn't been the green Volvo, but Zexion's eyes were not yet tired of looking, just in case.
This time, it was Bizarre Car. And this time, the song was, of all things… "Sunset Boulevard." Zexion watched with less discretion and even more amazement as Weird Guy, rather than bouncing and dancing in his car, performed the Broadway classic – complete with melodramatic gestures and facial expressions – as if he were projecting to an audience of hundreds. And yet, somehow, in spite of the rather dark lyrics of the song…he never stopped smiling. It was weird…and it was even weirder how the guy made the song work with a mad grin on his face.
The song ended and Zexion suppressed an urge to applaud quietly. Still watching the car creep away, he was able to listen to the beginning of "We Never Said Goodbye" and scan the stickers for the ones he'd missed. There was a red ribbon Zexion hadn't noticed before, and at least three that he assumed were band logos and names, though he didn't recognize any of them, an "I heart my MOM," and a longer one that read, "On the other hand…you have different fingers." The last two in particular made Zexion smile…and think a thought that he basically never thought about anyone.
He began to keep his eyes and ears peeled on the drive home. The time in traffic began to pass much faster in Zexion's mind, even if the clock showed no change. And some days, he arrived home with a disappointed, tired frown creasing his forehead, but more and more often he unlocked his door with a small, secret smile on his lips.
When his neighbor caught him whistling "All By Myself" by Celine Dion – that day's eccentric car performance – and gave him a thoroughly surprised look…Zexion had to stop and take stock of himself. He hadn't realized how much he had begun to look forward to the miserable drive home, and he hadn't noticed how his musical library had been expanding – he often came home and immediately searched the internet for the title and artist attached to some new and unfamiliar lyrics. And he really hadn't noticed at all just how much attention he'd been paying to every nuance of Weird Guy's expressions and singing.
But he had been. It was true. He'd been watching oh so closely as the guy sang "Don't wanna be all by myself anymore" with his undying smile…as if it wasn't a sad song at all. He'd watched closely enough when the guy sang "Paradise City" to have noticed that his lips didn't sync quite perfectly with the lyrics – "Take me down to the Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty." On just the word girls those lips had seemed to say something…else.
Zexion had discovered the musical Rent after hearing more than one teasingly interesting line in the song that turned out to be "Out Tonight." He also discovered a song with a deceptively-innocent title – "Two Shoes" – after hearing a much less innocent line – "My waist it's got a slinky belt with a clip that's quick to open, cause lovin' is the sweetest thing and from my waist it happens." There was no denying that one had led to a curiosity that had led to a quickly-denied fantasy that had led to an undeniable dream that was just…oh dear.
And then his neighbor gave him that surprised look as he unlocked his apartment one day, and Zexion was forced to realize that he wasn't calling Bizarre Car's driver Weird Guy anymore. He was Cutie now, sometimes Smiles, and sometimes he was Hottie.
Whoever he was though, he was always smiling. Zexion had never seen him without a smile. And Zexion had never found a smile nearly as beautiful as he now found this one.
It was June and it was getting hot on the drive home. The road Zexion was stuck on lacked shade, and even his very efficient air conditioner couldn't make up for the scorching sunlight trying to burn his skin to a crisp right there in his car. He had his window cracked open, however, in case Cutie in the Bizarre Car drove by. He would hear him coming first, and Zexion didn't want to miss him.
There was a stretch of the road that was filled with possibilities. It began at the McDonald's and ended at the strip mall – these were the landmarks bordering the section of road where Zexion always spotted Cutie. Today, the McDonald's was still visible in his rear-view when he heard loud music and his eyes widened and strained ahead.
There he was – Cutie. Loud as ever, because all his windows were rolled down. Clearly, his car wasn't equipped with an air conditioner. Cutie was red-faced and pouring sweat, but he was still singing at the top of his lungs like even oppressive, muggy heat made worse by the metal-and-tar surroundings and the utter lack of motion…all amounted to nothing. Not even noticeable. And today he was singing some pop song like thousands of screaming fans were watching him. As he got closer, Zexion listened for the lyrics, a certain little notepad and pen ready at hand for just times like these, when he didn't recognize the song.
"All my life, I've been waiting, pass my time, procrastinating, now…"
He was throwing his head back and belting it out and grinning like he'd sprouted wings and was flying through a clear blue sky, and Zexion was jotting what he could catch while watching, watching with silent adoration that he didn't even realize he was feeling.
"…Countless times I've screamed, oh brother, where are you? I need someone to be…my…loverrrrrr…!"
Lungs expanding with a painfully deep breath, Zexion bit his lip and made a snap decision. They were right at an intersection. The usually-safe driver pulled some very sudden and potentially dangerous moves, including an illegal U-turn, and he was turned around, one-two-three…five cars behind Cutie. A nearby intersection later, two of those cars went right and one went left, leaving him the second car following the Bizarre Car, and back in hearing range. He rolled his window down even further trying to catch the words to the next song.
"…I'm sick of layin down alone with this fever…"
He's dancing again…so cute… The car between them took the next right turn. Zexion thanked the driver silently.
"Wouldja be m-mine, wouldja be m-mine, wouldja be muh-m-i-i-ine?"
Please yes please.
"I wanna get you alone…give you fever…"
Zexion clamped his knees together tight and followed Cutie-no-Hottie almost all the way back to his office.
When the Bizarre Car pulled off the road, Zexion followed, trying to leave a discreet distance. They were in the lot of the Starbucks two blocks from his building, and Zexion watched Hottie park and then pulled into a space on the other side of the lot and just watched. He was now probably qualifying as a stalker, but he didn't care. Hottie left his car, damn near bounced his way into Starbucks, and held the door for an elderly lady who was leaving. Zexion had moved from biting his lip to chewing on his bangs without realizing it – a habit he'd put years into breaking – as he watched the young man…stroll behind the counter into the back room.
Holding his breath, Zexion wondered if it could be true. Could he really be this lucky? To have found out where Hottie worked, and so close to his own office?
When the young man re-emerged with an apron and a headset and took his place behind the counter, Zexion had his too-good-to-be-true answer. And he sat in his car for almost 10 minutes, watching the ever-smiling guy work, and desperately trying to decide if he should go in or not. He didn't drink much coffee, but they had tea, right? And he could read the guy's name tag if he went in…and maybe…maybe talk to him…
I can't. No. I can't just…walk right up to him and… I can't. Zexion pulled out of the parking lot. He hoped no one noticed him or thought his car was being suspicious. He had a suddenly powerful feeling of hovering guilt. He'd never stalked anyone before…
But…if he didn't do this…what could he do? Lean out his window in traffic one day and yell at Hottie, asking him to dinner? Absolutely not. But he had to do something… He had to.