A/N - I love thinking up villains' backstories, and this is probably the best one I've thought of yet (and the only one I've actually gotten off my ass and started to write). A couple things before the first chapter:

-One, Naminé's ability to sense others' memories but be unable to influence them if they're not connected to Sora is a headcanon of mine.

-Two, trigger warning for blood, heavily implied child abuse, self-loathing, panic attacks, and situations reminiscent of . It's that kind of story. If there's anything potentially triggering in a chapter, I'll always put a warning in the A/N beforehand.

Now with that done, I hope you enjoy!

~0~

"All things truly wicked start from an innocence."

-Ernest Hemingway

~0~

"...Marluxia?"

"Hm? What is it, Naminé?"

"I...I was just wondering...What was your home world like?"

"My home world?" The small girl had his complete attention now. Marluxia set down the book he was reading and turned to look at her, sitting at the other end of the table and looking very nervous. "Why do you ask?"

"It...It was something Vexen said yesterday, when he and Zexion were testing the limits of my powers over memory," Naminé told him.

Marluxia grimaced. "Again?" he growled. Once more, he had not even been informed of what the other Nobodies were doing with his charge. "How many times must I tell them - you were entrusted to me, not them. They have no right to do anything with you without my permission. I'll have to make sure they remember that, and you would do well to remember that too."

I am the lord of this castle! Does that mean nothing?! he thought indignantly as Naminé quickly assured him that she would. How dare they disobey my orders... Marluxia gave his head a small shake and pushed his frustrations back. "But back to what you had to tell me, little one," he said to Naminé. "What exactly sparked your curiosity?"

"Well, Vexen was seeing if I could sense the memories of anyone not connected to Sora. I can, a little bit, and I saw a little of the world they come from. I asked Vexen about it, and while he was telling me about it, he said that he, Zexion, Lexaeus, and Axel all come from the same world, but you and Larxene come from a different one, and that's why you're so - " Naminé broke off before she repeated Vexen's insults against the Assassin, and looked worried that she almost had.

"I can fill in the rest," Marluxia said with a sardonic grin. He rose from his chair and crossed the room, Naminé cringing a little as he passed her. "Arrogant, crude, irreverent, disrespectful...something along those lines, correct?" Naminé nodded, and he chuckled, staring out the window. "He has some nerve calling us disrespectful. We told Vexen all about our world when he asked, and he has no respect at all for our home, our people, or us. And he wonders why we fail to acknowledge him as superior to us."

"What world do you come from, though?"

"We are from a place called Kizuato," Marluxia told her, "the world of warriors." As he talked about his home world, Naminé noticed a soft and somewhat wistful tone in the older Nobody's voice that she had never heard from him before. "Kizuato is the home of proud, fierce fighters, some of the strongest in any world," he went on. "Our people are raised to fight from childhood, and possess great skills and strength."

"Oh..." said Naminé, inwardly shuddering at the idea of a whole race of people like Marluxia and Larxene. "I don't think I'd want to meet any more of them," she whispered.

Marluxia turned and smirked at her. "Don't worry, Naminé, if you ever did meet them, they'd never harm you. We're powerful, but not a vicious race. Our warriors are meant to always protect and support our world. Most of them are noble and honorable - we're taught that from a young age, as well. You'd only be in trouble if you were to pick a fight with one, and even then they'd probably give an outsider a chance to back out when they realized what they'd gotten into. From what Larxene and I have experienced, most take the opportunity."

"I can see why," Naminé agreed, trying not to let her growing confusion show. Noble, honorable protectors did not belong in any description of Marluxia and Larxene. She couldn't even imagine it. Could they have actually been like that once? But if they had...what had happened to make them turn out like this? It wasn't like she could ask about it without offending Marluxia, though.

"Naminé," he said suddenly, jolting her out of her thoughts. "You said that you discovered that you can sense the memories of others, correct? Does that mean you can look and see into their memories?"

"Y-Yes," she replied, wondering where this was going. "But I can't do anything else with them if the person isn't connected to Sora."

"Well, in that case," Marluxia said, turning away from the window and walking up behind Naminé, making her jump a little when he placed his hands lightly on her shoulders, "Would you be able to sense my memories? Maybe you can take a look at my home yourself?"

"Can I?" Marluxia nodded, and she took a deep breath. "All right...I'll try." She closed her eyes, focusing hard on the older Nobody's mind, and delved into his memories. She was still unfamiliar with her powers, so though she tried she couldn't find anything clear or lasting. Instead, as she sifted through his memories, she only saw quick, blurred shreds of his past, a mix of disorienting images and sounds -

Darkness, hiding in shadows, a small silver blade tearing through flesh like it's paper; the pink-haired woman's scream rings in his ears while every part of him is frozen, he can't make a sound as blood pools under her -

Heat and fire and shadows flying everywhere, the pristine grass and sakura petals being torn apart, how dare they attack this place, hurt his friend, destroy his only solace, he roars with rage and his scythe blades move like blurs as he fights back -

"Today, you are true warriors!" Their instructors are smiling and their eyes shine with pride, and with the feeling of his brand new uniform on his body and his village's crest on his back, his own heart swells with happiness -

Laughter; wild, screaming, and insane...His scythes have been knocked far out of his reach, he wants to fight back (stop it he's not weak he's not useless stop it stop it please) but his shaking body won't obey and all he can do is cower, and then that feral beast is on top of him, white claws tearing into him, oh gods no please please stop it -

His back hits the grass hard and the air is knocked from his lungs, and as he stares up into the bright green eyes of the angry girl pinning him down with her weight on his legs and her hand on his throat, he smirks and gives a weak, breathless laugh -

The man strides placidly down the alley, oblivious to the boy stalking him from the shadows above; he tightens his mask (his stomach churns, his heart twists, but it's this man or him), grips his knives tightly and leaps silently from the roof onto his target, just two quick clean cuts would finish it -

He can't quite believe what he's seeing as his eyes move from teammate to teammate: no one has ever smiled at him like that or treated him as kindly as these four do, and now they want him with them outside of missions? All of them look so happy to have him along - can they be his friends? The blue-haired boy laughs loudly and calls to him, "Lu! You coming, brother?"

Everything seems to stop as soon as the words are out of her mouth, he's numb as he tries to register what his friend just said, and when it finally hits him he lunges at her, grabbing her by the collar, burning with rage, "What do you mean, they're gone?!" -

"You are so weak...So worthless..." It's all darkness, all around him, where is he where is he where is he, where is that voice coming from, he's desperate but can't find him in time, and the long black blade comes flying at him out of nowhere, its wielder grinning delightedly, slashing through him but no way will he scream and give his enemy that satisfaction -

"Naminé!"

Naminé came back to herself with a gasp, eyes wide open and mind reeling from what she'd found deep in Marluxia's memories. What...what had all of that been? she wondered, becoming aware that her breathing had become too hard and fast, and that she was gripping the sketchbook on her lap so tightly her fingertips were hurting.

"Naminé, are you all right?" Marluxia had moved to bend down in front of her, gripping her shoulders and looking at her with an uncharacteristically concerned expression. She couldn't respond, she was too stunned to speak. "Relax," Marluxia instructed. "It's okay, just breathe...Breathe slowly..."

"I...I'm fine," she whispered, getting a hold of herself and - with some effort - returning her breathing and heartbeat to their normal pace.

Marluxia frowned. "I should have expected that you might not be able to handle it. After all, you are still learning to control your abilities...I doubt you can pick and choose which memories to look at just yet." When Naminé shook her head to confirm that, he decided that he would have to try and help her hone her powers himself, as full mastery of it was essential to his plans. This would inevitably involve asking Vexen for his findings so far, but better not to think about such unpleasant business until he had to. "I won't ask what you saw. Though I do hope it at least helped answer your question."

"It did." She hadn't seen much of the world itself, but she now had a clearer idea of where exactly the lord of the castle came from than she had ever wanted. Those awful images, still fresh in her mind, made her feel cold. She gave a small shake of her head to get the thoughts out of it, and tried to focus on the few bright memories she had seen. "Marluxia...There was this one memory..."

"Yes? What was it?"

"That blond girl, the one with the green eyes...Was that Larxene?"

Marluxia smiled, straightening up. "Probably. What was she doing?"

"She looked angry, and she was pinning you down on the ground."

"Yes, that was her, as a young Somebody," he said with a light laugh. "We were both about thirteen. That's actually how we met."

"You tried to talk to her and she knocked you down?"

"It was because of a slight misunderstanding, but yes. It took a while, but I ended up becoming very close to her, and her family and friends. They were happy to let me into the group, if I can call it that."

Naminé looked up at Marluxia and was surprised to see an almost mournful look in his eyes. Was that even possible for a Nobody? she thought. "What about your family?" she asked, and she flinched when Marluxia turned sharply and glared at her.

"What about them?" he snapped, and she cowered at his sudden anger.

"I-It's just...I...I saw a boy with spiky blue hair..." Marluxia's face softened at that, and she continued less fearfully. "He...called you brother?"

"Shirou wasn't my brother," Marluxia said in a low voice, eyes closed. He gripped the edge of the table so tightly his fingers started to tremble. "He was the best friend I could have asked for. I always wished we were brothers..."

"He did seem very nice," Naminé remarked, remembering the boy's friendly grin.

"He was..." There was definite sorrow in Marluxia's voice now. "If it weren't for me...and my father...he'd still be - "

"Why are you talking about your father?" Marluxia was cut off by the rush of a corridor of darkness opening next to them, accompanied by a familiar feminine voice. "I thought we said we weren't going to talk about our families," Larxene said in an accusatory tone, with her eyes narrowed and her hands on her hips.

"I know," Marluxia said placatingly, his voice and posture instantly returning to normal. "Naminé was simply curious about what our home world was like. I didn't think answering her questions would do any harm. I'd simply forgotten we would be switching shifts and you'd be here soon."

"Our home world? Why would she - "

"Vexen sparked her curiosity, and, by the way, we need to talk with him sometime soon. I'll explain when you're done here. I'll see you later." With that, darkness rose from under Marluxia's feet and he disappeared into the corridor, leaving the two female Nobodies alone in the room.

"So...Asking about our home world, hm?" Larxene leaned on the back of Naminé's chair with her elbow, making the younger Nobody cringe back, frightened at the other's proximity to her.

"Y-Yes...Did I do something wrong?"

"Well, no, not really," Larxene admitted. "I'm actually in a pretty good mood right now, so I'll tell you a bit about it if you want."

"Thank you," Naminé said sincerely. "Marluxia didn't get the chance to tell me all that much. Can you tell me what your world was like?"

"What was Kizuato like?" She glanced away from Naminé, apparently getting lost in thought. "Our world was perfect," she said proudly. "Everything about it, perfect."

It was like with Marluxia earlier, Naminé thought. When talking about her home, Larxene sounded quite happy. Not her usual sadistic glee, either, but genuine happiness. To Naminé, it was very strange, and she wasn't sure what to make of it. "Marluxia called it the world of warriors," she said in a small voice.

"That about sums it up," Larxene agreed, nodding. "Our people are stronger than anyone else, in any world. They're what made us strong...You know, sometimes I really wish we could go back."

"You can't go back?" Naminé asked, eyes widening. Would Xemnas not let them go home? No, that couldn't be it, she'd heard from the other Organization members how some of them would use their powers to go to plenty of other worlds after missions were done, since technically there was no rule against it. Wait...then maybe... "Was it consumed by darkness? Is that why you can't -"

"Of course not," said Larxene, and though she was being nicer than usual, an unspoken you idiot lingered on the end of her words. "The warriors would never let the Heartless take our world. That's what they're there for, to protect it."

"Were you and Marluxia warriors?"

"Yeah. Where did you think we learned to fight so well? Our teachers and our par - From when we were kids, we were trained to be able to take down anyone who threatened us or our people. That's how things work on Kizuato."

"But why can't you go back? Did something happen?" she pressed, and for one fraction of a second she saw Larxene's smirk falter and something like pain flash in her eyes. But it was gone so fast Naminé almost thought she'd imagined it.

"It doesn't matter what happened." Larxene's voice was low and her fierce expression made Naminé shrink back again. "It doesn't matter. We will go back."

Was she telling her, Naminé wondered, or trying to convince herself? "And...how will you do that?" she asked in a tiny voice, wary of provoking the older Nobody's anger. There was a heavy silence for a moment, and then the familiar condescending smirk returned to her face and the light and taunting tone to her voice (but both seemed just that little bit off to Naminé).

"That plan happens to be a particularly great stroke of brilliance from Marluxia," she informed Naminé. "Tell you what, little one - I'll let you in on it when you complete your work and both the Organization and the Keyblade wielder belong to us. A bit more incentive to do a good job couldn't hurt, now, could it?"

"O-Of course not," Naminé quickly agreed. With that, Larxene abruptly dropped the subject, becoming more interested in the book Marluxia had left on the table. Picking it up and deciding it would do for entertainment until her shift supervising Naminé was finished, she sprawled out on Naminé's bed, making herself at home, and began to read, quickly becoming absorbed in the book. At first, Naminé intended to draw some more pictures - of Sora, his friends, his home - as she usually spent most of the day. She had just taken a fresh piece of paper when a thought occurred to her.

She had been able to see into Marluxia's past...perhaps she could do the same with Larxene, without the older girl noticing? Despite her nervousness about the whole idea, she was still quite curious about the former lives of the other Nobodies, and was willing to take the risk one more time. She would be much more prepared for anything she'd see this time, Naminé told herself, and she would be trying not to show any reaction to it that would tip Larxene off that someone was digging around in her memories. Yes...This would work. Taking a deep, quiet breath, she reached out with her mind and searched through Larxene's memories. They were clearer this time, but not a lot more, and they still hit her in a fast, violent rush -

His voice is actually shaking now, she's never seen him this angry and she's more scared than ever; he roars at the golden-haired girl, who looks defiant but whose eyes are huge with fright, "How dare you talk to me like that, you little brat!" The knife is a silver blur as he lunges too fast for the girl to dodge, and blood sprays all over the man, the floor, everything. As the girl falls, a scarlet stain spreading on her chest, she can't stay quiet anymore: "Nee-chan!" she shrieks, dashing forward -

Her skin is slick with rain - it's falling so hard the drops hurt - and the wind only freezes her more, all she wants to do is just collapse, but she keeps running as fast as her legs will take her, heedless of the mud and slippery stone under her feet, with the booming thunder and that god-awful shrieking in her head get away get it out get it out -

Flames flicker and dance around them, making everything glow red-gold - the canyon walls, the sand and earth, everyone's skin - but in all that beauty she only cares for one person; they move carefully, gracefully, in perfect sync, and their eyes are locked, blue into green, they never look away as they perform their perfect dance. Good gods, she's never loved him more -

Before now the forest was welcoming and familiar even at night, but this night it was dark, cold, nightmarish...She gripped her kunai tight to stop her hands shaking, and stepped closer to the man beside her, seeking comfort in his nearness and warmth. For a moment, the only sound was their own ragged breathing, the dark forest silent and still...then without warning, the shadows came alive around them, leaping from all directions with claws and fangs and she can't hold back her screams -

She's trembling so much she doesn't think she can stop; she doesn't want to stay in this place, doesn't even want to think about it, and the idea of never being able to escape frightens her so much she can't stand it. She clings tighter to the girl holding her and sobs into her chest. "Shh," the girl coos, cradling her close, "shhh, it's okay. Someday soon, I'll get us out of here forever, I swear I will -"

The breath was knocked out of her and all his weight was on her chest and shoulders, she could barely breathe, let alone struggle under him; she can feel his warm breath on her face, the ends of his long hair tickling her cheeks, and she stares (always too terrified to do anything but stare and whimper and cry) at his widening grin and the wild, excited look in his eyes as he brings the knife over her face. He giggles as he flips the blade open and lowers it toward her -

Strong wind rushed against her, blowing her hair back and chilling her face and torso, but oh gods, she thinks as she soars through the air with a tight grip on the handle of the grappling hook, it's a thrill like she's never imagined. For a moment, she gazes, head over heels in the air and wide-eyed with amazement, up at the clear blue sky and beautiful, beautiful cloud formations, before her body rights itself again. She starts to fall for only a second before firing the hook again and zipping after her teammates -

"I promise you, Renela, I'll always keep you safe." His kind expression, his bright, honest gray eyes, the pure sincerity in his voice, made her feel warm inside, a lovely but largely unfamiliar feeling. He truly cares for her, she realizes, he doesn't pity her. She turns around completely and looks at him with wide, disbelieving eyes. He smiles, and reaches his hand out, waiting for her to take it. "Come on. Let's go home - "

Agonized shrieks and yells, so loud they're splitting her skull, they're in her head and they won't go away, she's on her knees on the ground clutching her head so hard her nails break skin but she can't get them out they won't ever go away, all their death screams reverberating in her mind, why did they die why couldn't she save them why couldn't you save them you useless failure why did you let them die, and her own voice joins the howls of pain and terror and grief, so loud it hurts it won't stop make it stop make it stop make it stop -

A sudden sharp pain in her face broke Naminé out of the flood of memories, and her head snapped up at the sound of an equally sharp voice.

"What's the matter with you?!" Larxene demanded, looking and sounding both angry and thoroughly unnerved. She still had her hand up, ready to backhand Naminé again. "Why the hell were you staring at me like that?"

"Wh-What...?" was all a still-dazed Naminé could get out.

"You were staring at me, with your mouth hanging open and your eyes huge," snarled Larxene. "I yelled your name, I shook you, but you didn't respond at all. What's the matter with you? What were you doing?"

"I..." Larxene's hand twitched menacingly, and Naminé cringed back and tried to make something up quickly. "I'm sorry! I was...I was thinking of something else, and I - I - I just got...lost in thought..."

"So you just zoned out?" The familiar caustic tone was back in her voice, and it was clear Larxene didn't buy it for a second. "I'm going to tell Marluxia about this, you know. If I'm not enough motivation to tell the truth," she warned.

"I am...I-I swear I am!" yelped Naminé, holding trembling arms up in front of her face and shutting her eyes tight. "Please...please don't hurt me..." For the next few long, agonizing moments, she waited for Larxene to strike her again, but the hit never came. She opened her eyes a fraction and saw Larxene lowering her hand. The older girl still glared angrily down at her, but seemed to have decided against hurting her for the time being.

"You're lucky Marluxia told me I can't damage his precious little memory witch," she snarled. "Unless it's completely necessary." Her hand flashed out and grabbed Naminé's chin, forcing the younger Nobody to look her in the eyes. "So you'd better not be trying anything that would make us have to hurt you. Do you get it, Naminé?"

"Y-Y-Yes," she whimpered, shaking in the Nymph's tight hold. If she were gripping Naminé just a bit harder, her jaw would be a large dark bruise by now.

"Good girl," Larxene said mock-sweetly, releasing Naminé's face. "You remember that, now." On hearing Naminé's frantic assurance that of course she would, the older Nobody seemed to be satisfied, and she turned back away from her to go back to her warm spot on the bed. Naminé looked back down at her drawing, picking her crayon up from the floor where she'd dropped it with trembling fingers, and she didn't dare look at Larxene again.

~0~

Marluxia paced like a caged lion back and forth across his and Larxene's room, becoming visibly more agitated with every second as his thoughts raced. How could he have thought letting Naminé dip into his memories was a good idea? Why would he ever do something to dredge up memories of his past? Why had he thought he could handle reliving it, even in such a small way?

Hearing Naminé speak even that little bit about what she had seen in his mind brought it all rushing back, like a hole had been punched in some mental dam. Those claws, that sword, slicing through his flesh and soaking him in his own blood...Marluxia's hand unconsciously moved to his chest, and he lightly ran his fingers over the thick leather covering skin riddled with long, jagged scars. There was hardly any unmarred flesh left on his body, and however he tried to forget, the memories of receiving all those scars were still clear in his mind. He could practically feel the burning agony, even now...

And not just feel them there, but smell the heavy, metallic stench of blood gushing from his wounds, while he couldn't put a scratch on their skin or make those damnable smug grins falter for even half a second while they tore him apart. He could hear them laughing as he screamed for them to stop, just stop, just stop it already! Their mocking voices were ringing in his head, taunting him from beyond the grave...Marluxia clutched his pounding chest, finding it suddenly near impossible to breathe. They were there, he thought, as he felt himself start to sweat, he could sense it all around him. Those bastards...They were still laughing at him! They just couldn't leave him be!

He looked around anxiously, as if it would help him catch his breath again, and when his eyes landed on the large mirror hanging on the closet door, he jumped back and cried out in shock and fright. Instead of his own reflection, it was the man that haunted his nightmares leering at him from within the glass.

Poor little Luraima, he could hear that smooth cold voice purr in his head, still so, so weak. Even after escaping me, you never could change, could you? You just ended up serving under a new master, was all that changed in your life.

"Sh-Shut up..." Marluxia muttered through clenched teeth, shaking with barely suppressed panic and rage.

Look at you. Six years away from me hasn't made any difference...Why does someone like me have to call a pathetic waste like you his son?

"Shut up!" Marluxia roared, lunging at the mirror and slamming his fist into the glass, shattering it completely. The shards cascaded down from the frame, slicing Marluxia's hand, arm, face, and legs as he dropped to his knees, unable to stand anymore. The thick, viscous black gel that substituted for a Nobody's blood oozed from the wounds, dripping onto the floor, but he didn't even notice.

He felt so lightheaded, his stomach churned horribly, and he was suddenly so dizzy he couldn't see straight. What passed for a physical heart in this body was racing furiously, and his chest ached; for a second Marluxia wondered if he was actually having a heart attack. He'd have thought for certain he was if not for the overwhelming wave of terror that gripped him. The memories of the monster he called father...that was more than enough to trigger an attack like this. Shaking uncontrollably, he struggled to breathe correctly - hell, breathe at all - again and failed entirely. And all this time he felt fear so intense that he thought it could kill him easily...

Dear gods, let this end...please...

Just then, he heard the familiar rush of darkness that signaled a corridor opening, someone arriving. "Ugh, so glad to be out of there," Larxene said, waving the book she'd brought back in his general direction but not noticing him yet. "Listen, Naminé started acting weird after you left and I - Marluxia!"

Dropping the book to the floor, Larxene darted across the room to her boyfriend's side. "Marluxia? Lu?" she said, trying to keep her voice calm and soft. She'd dealt with his panic attacks before, and she knew being too loud or aggressive would only make it worse. "Lu? I'm right here, everything's okay. What do you want me to do?"

"G-Get me out of here," he muttered, his eyes wide and frightened. He tried to stand up and stumbled, grabbing Larxene's shoulders for balance. "I...I can't..."

"It's okay, I've got you." Larxene took hold of his arms, helped him get to his feet, and led him out of their bedroom and onto the couch in the living room area. Trembling and breathing erratically, Marluxia held on to his girlfriend like a lifeline. "It's okay, Lu, everything's okay," she cooed, rubbing circles on his shoulders to soothe him. She knew this wouldn't be very long - the really intense attacks like this one usually only lasted a few minutes - but that didn't make either of them feel any better. "You're safe with me, remember? You're completely safe. Just breathe, nice and slow. In...out...in...out..."

They stayed that way for about ten minutes, until Marluxia's trembling subsided and his breathing returned to normal. "Better?" Larxene asked.

"Yes...Yes, I'm fine now," Marluxia muttered. "Per...Perfectly fine." He let go of her and sat up straight. "Now, what were you saying when you came in? Naminé was acting strange?"

"It's nothing," Larxene said, thinking to herself that if Naminé had done anything to trigger this, she would shatter every bone in the little witch's body, orders be damned. "It can wait until tomorrow. It's late, we should get some sleep."

"You're right. This day has been exhausting. We both need to be at our best." Marluxia stood, took a couple steps towards the bedroom, and stopped short. He stared at the room, with the bloodstained carpet and glass shards all over, his eyes widening again.

"We don't have to sleep in there if you don't want to." Larxene quickly got up and closed the bedroom door. She'd clean it up herself tomorrow, no need to make the others suspect something was wrong with Marluxia. "We'll pull out the couch and sleep there tonight, how's that sound?"

"That sounds nice..." He took a deep breath and let out a long sigh. "All right, I'll pull the bed out. I feel like I'm about to collapse."

"Well then," said Larxene as she pulled out spare pillows and a thick blue comforter from the closet, "let's not waste any time. Come here, help me get all this on..."

In a few minutes, the two of them were on the pull-out bed, curled up under the covers. As always, the night was silent, with the only sounds being each other's soft, steady breathing. Marluxia had seemed to have recovered, and had acted like his normal self, albeit more withdrawn. But that was normal for him after having a severe attack, Larxene reminded herself. All the same, she was still worried about him. Asleep, he still looked troubled, and he held on to her tightly, as if she were the only thing keeping his mind intact. She often wondered if her partner's grip on sanity was tenuous enough that that was actually the case, but always dismissed it from her mind soon after. Ever since he was a child, Marluxia had been exceptionally strong-willed, and if he could survive the things he'd gone through, with her help he would certainly survive the aftermath, she reasoned. There was nothing to worry about...nothing...

Even as she tried to reassure herself, Larxene couldn't quite shake the fears out of her head. Sighing softly, she tucked her head under her boyfriend's chin and wrapped her arms around his chest, closing her eyes and gradually falling into a restless sleep.

~0~

"You're going through with it, then? Ha, you're one stupid kid, you know that?"

"...I'm alive, you're not. How stupid can I be, compared to you?"

"Tch. You've got a lot of nerve, you little brat. I'll bet my brother told you you're fucking great, didn't he? Well, my brother's a naive idiot."

"Don't you dare - !"

"Shut up. He thinks everything and everyone's just so special and amazing, except me, of course. But like you said, he's dead - how smart could he have been?"

"That's not what I said! Dad was always better than you! Stronger and smarter and better than you, and you could never take it!"

"You really don't know when to shut your mouth, do you?!"

"G-Get away from me! Aagh - L-Let me go! Let go!"

"Want me to twist it harder, babe? I'll twist it till it snaps again if you don't listen to me. My brother's dead. Him and his bitch wife and his stupid kids. And you know what, baby girl? It's all your fault. Don't you remember? Your precious new family's all dead because of you. Aww, what's the matter, Ren? Nothing to say to that? Nothing you can say, is there - you can't escape it."

"N...No...No, I -"

"Forget what he told you. I'm the only one who'll tell you the truth. You're a worthless wreck. You think you're going to make everything right? All you can do is ruin everything. Think about it, it's all you've ever done. Everyone you know you've hurt somehow. You're just like me, Renela - you know, your real father?"

"I...I'm nothing like you, you bastard! Let go - I'll kill you, Kachigaru!"

"Oh, nice try, bitch, but you won't get away that easy. Seems like you never learned your lesson!"

"Stop it! Get off of me!"

"Mm...Left my mark on you so many times, and you still think you can fight me. Do I have to cut away every bit of unmarked skin to get it through your head that you can't?"

"Not again, no...Please, please, not again..."

"Ha ha, look at you, crying and begging already! Too late, baby girl. Now don't worry - this won't hurt me a bit."

"No, no, no, don't...Don't do it, please..."

"Come on, babe, struggling's never done you any good, and you know by now that begging only gets me more excited. Maybe you want this?"

"I don't! Please, not again, I can't - No, please, stop! NO!"

Her eyes flew open, but she didn't realize she was awake. The shrill, terrified screaming filled her ears and she didn't recognize where she was, everything was dark, and Kachigaru was gone but there was still something tight around her, still holding her down...

And then something else broke through the noise and confusion - a voice, low, firm, and soothing: "Shh, Larxene, shh, calm down. It's just a dream, he's gone, he can't hurt you..."

Marluxia. Those were his arms around her, not restraining her but trying to calm her. It's just Marluxia, she told herself as the screams - they'd been hers, she realized as the muscles in her throat relaxed - faded away and she took in several deep breaths. Just a dream. Just a dream. He's dead. He'll never hurt you again. You're safe. Safe...

But it had all felt so real. It had thrown her back into the time when it had been real. Just to be sure, she ran her fingers lightly over her chest and stomach, moving over the ridges of the many scars slashed through it...The flood of memories Larxene had spent years trying unsuccessfully to repress attacked her mind again, and the all-too-familiar image of Kachigaru's wild, ecstatic grin as he held the knife over her body, ready to slice into her, was still fresh and clear in her mind. It was too much, it was always too damn much!

Hating herself for her weakness, her inability to move on from anything, she buried her face in Marluxia's chest as he ran his fingers gently through her hair. A hot rush of shame washed over her as she realized there were tears stinging her eyes and falling onto the other Nobody's bare torso. Kachigaru's words from her dream echoed tauntingly in her head. He was right about one thing - how pathetic she was, so quickly reduced to crying over what the man did to her. She was a warrior, wasn't she? She should be stronger that this. She should always have been stronger. Their lives would never have turned out like this if she hadn't been so weak...He'd been right again, she had always been too weak.

"I should have killed him," Larxene muttered bitterly into Marluxia's chest, her lip curling into a snarl. "Should have killed him myself."

"He's dead now, that's what matters. He'll never touch you again," he growled, wrapping his arm tighter around her. He started rubbing her back, to comfort her her as she had done for him mere hours before, and his fingers twitched involuntarily when they passed over the scars from her father's knife digging viciously deep into her flesh. Hatred for the man burned in him every time he saw the ruined skin, and he always saw something identical flare in Larxene's eyes when she saw what his father had done to his body. "We'll never have to see them again."

"That's not the point," Larxene pressed, with bitterness in her voice. "I never paid him back for what he did to me. He tortured me for twelve years and got away with it. At least you were able to fight back."

Any other time attention was brought to what Marluxia would no matter what consider his ultimate victory, he would feel a glimmer of pride and a smug smirk would come to his face. But now that his girlfriend was bringing up how she had been denied that satisfaction, he just couldn't think that way. "He didn't get away with it," he tried to console her, "any more than my father did - "

"He's not my father!" Larxene hissed, her head snapping up to reveal a suddenly furious face. "Don't ever say that! That monster's not my real father, I'm nothing like him!"

"Shhh, I never said you were," he whispered placatingly, gently pushing her head back down onto his chest. "I'm sorry if I implied it...We shouldn't be talking about this in the first place." A tired sigh punctuated these last words.

"Yeah," she agreed, feeling more guilty now. Marluxia had just "...Sorry I keep waking you up like this."

"Don't apologize, it's not your fault. It would be like you blaming me for having an attack. It's okay."

"Let's just go back to sleep." Larxene sounded exhausted, and she closed her eyes and tucked her head under Marluxia's chin, wrapping her arms around his torso. "I don't want to think about this any more."

"You're right," Marluxia agreed, lightly kissing the top of her head and laying back against the pillows. "Good night, sweetheart." She flinched under his hands at the last word, and he internally kicked himself. "Sorry. Sorry. Good night."

"G'night," she mumbled wearily. Marluxia let himself relax again, thinking that he could get a little comfort from being held in her arms again and holding her close as well. But as much as the pair tried to get away from their memories, not even sleep allowed escape - the rest of their night saw their minds filled with them. No matter what they told themselves, there was no reprieve from the darkness of their pasts...

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A/N - FINISHED just in time for MarLar day! Reviews, please?

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