Petals are not the only thing she breaks when she steps into Marluxia's rooms.

Fuzzy stalks snap beneath her heels, wheat bent and shattered at confused angles by creaking leather. A soft hum runs beneath her teeth, the vixen teetering back and forth in an exaggerated display; his coat is sagging, ignoring her to flood about his wrists and sink deep in the burnished black earth. It's startling, to see spring-loaded creeper plants curl around tomato stalks and peonies, artificial cohabitation instilled by XI's flowering magic.

"Why grow them at all," The complaint is founded in a clicking of the tongue and the mimicry of irritation, "when they're just going to die?"

His response is quick and courteous enough to avert insult. "Even a waning flower can be resuscitated, given proper care."

"You're wasting your time. All that lives will one day die."

Marluxia smirks. "I am not in the business of making good time. That's Luxord's department."

There isn't a moment for her to spark. XI is sensitive; she only gets off a single static pulse before his hands are pinning her back, Larxene's bones rattling with fragility as Marluxia cranes her arms away from her body, moving them farther until her chest pops out and a gasp peels over her lips.

"All worlds meet their end. But collectively, the world of worlds is an organism that slays and births new life with each slow, thousand-year breath. All that lives, lives by its lying creed, and as it is never dead it can eternal feed us its very physical lies. With time and its hand, even death may die." His tongue races against her neck, earthy smells lancing through her sides like grounding pillars to a thunderstorm. "Let me show you something eternal."

XI finds his way through the shadows easier than her. He ties himself to threads, snaking viral plants that have rooted themselves in the darkness. Heartless run through the root network like black stroma boiled by hate.

"What is this?" The rage is gone. For a moment Larxene catches some of Xemnas' not-feeling, the kind of passive inquiry where she forgets to remember forgetting the memory of emotion. The nymph wanders between mounds of shaking bark, pawing at the moss on its quarters, lost in the tangle of being no one.

"The end of an era." At his touch the darkness is set loose, Marluxia's eyes lighting up as the winding tree catches the fire of shadows. "And the beginning of forever. This tree has seen the birth of the first world, and the darkness before that; now it will know the darkness after itself."

The assassin could wax poetry to the end of days, and Larxene would make no move to stop him. Watching the beginning end makes each word worth it.

"And whose era will it be?"

His hands arrest her, knitting in with Larxene's bones like feathers to a hawk's skin. Marluxia's lips are ruddy and sour, like a flower that each time she sniffs it she can only smell curdling meat.


She doesn't question him after that day. After that day, there is no room for words in her mouth, not between the lather of sounds she picked out from between the tusks of boars. Marluxia is smart. First he pins her hands back, splaying his fingers between the grooves of her palm and knitting into her like weed tufts.

Larxene does not stop at bruises. Anyone can leave a welt, but she nurtures them; wedges pink splashes between her fingers and blackens the spots, digs in and when her fingers come back, there's skin beneath the nails. Marluxia doesn't flinch, or give up the memories they've swamped themselves in, but wears his scars like splints for a weak stem, drawing out the blows that made them.

And that's why it has to be him over Xemnas. Everyone has a past, but Xemnas doesn't use his an excuse to be something. The Superior has shed his memories, and with them any chance at simulating emotion. Marluxia is close, so deathly close to being a shell like Xemnas, but he doesn't make doorless rooms just to walk in and feel all that Nothing. Marluxia doesn't submit to a king that isn't asking for his oath. He lets nothing rule him, and in consequence rules over Nothing. Number I has his priorities flipped.

There are sounds for every spell, and words for every object. Words and sounds are segregated only by their fair use and application. Vexen taught her that; Vexen teaches them all, circles back to his old lectures each day because it's not like they've ever used magic before. There are objects that make sound, sounds that are words, and above all other precepts: words are power. This is the fuel of magic, the rule even gods must bend to.

So they tangle. XI flattens his knee against her stomach, and squeezes until there isn't air left to scream with. Each night their bruises rise and fade, hopping from one skin to the other and across joints, homeless wounds that rip the sound from their bounds. Sounds are words. Words are power.

And with so many words in the world of worlds, their power is eternal.