Pawns on the Board


Staring out the window at Kingdom Hearts and its pale glow, Xemnas reflected upon the current status of his plans— and the pawns in them. The greatest among them were a select few Organization members who believed they had greater significance on the chessboard. Those who aimed to prove their loyalty in earnest. Zexion, of course, was perhaps even more dedicated to Xemnas than Ienzo had been to Ansem. The thought brought him a biting satisfaction that could be likened to happiness.

Of course, Lord Xemnas knew they had an ability to regain their hearts should one pursue it. By convincing them that this was beyond their grasp without his aid, he controlled all the Organization members. A heart did not need to be complete to be receptive to seeds of doubt or empty convictions. Though they still lacked their final member, the certainty with which those already present held to this falsehood would be the only requirement to convince Number XIII of its veracity as well.

This fact brought Xemnas to consider his most determined pawn of all. Saïx was a relatively unexpected addition to their ranks, as was Axel. Unlike his former companion, Number VII instantly set to proving his worth within the Organization upon becoming a Nobody. Lord Xemnas saw it in his eyes— a resolute conviction so intense that its origins could only have been a memory from his old life. There was no finer motivation for Saïx himself to build his heartless non-existence around, and no better instrument for Xemnas to manipulate him with.

“Lord Xemnas,” the subject of his thoughts interrupted. “I have compiled the mission reports for your review.”

“As expected,” Xemnas responded, turning to face the self-appointed administrator of Organization XIII. It was convenient that he had done so. The members who had an inclination for order and paperwork managed to have even less patience for underachievers such as Demyx and could not be troubled to maintain the digitized filing system Saïx had arranged for their archives. Yet by far, the finest attribute of Number VII was his readiness to understand and excel at any expense.

“Before you begin,” he started, talking decisive steps towards his protégé— or perhaps project was the more suitable term. “I will impart another lesson to you. Though we lack hearts ourselves,” he stated to reinforce the myth, addressing both himself and Saïx in a fluid gesture. “Each of us recalls the memories of possessing one.”

“I understand,” Saïx acknowledged. His intense watchfulness fixated on Xemnas, the golden hue of his eyes and jagged scarring representing all that Saïx was willing to sacrifice for these fragments of knowledge.

“Your aptitude for injuring a heart,” Xemnas began, each word weighted and precise. “Will prove to be invaluable in realizing the future we desire.”

Saïx nodded, his grip tightening on the reports almost imperceptibly. “I would do anything to secure our goals.”

Lord Xemnas knew fully that this was not the whole of the truth. That meant little to him in the strategy for this piece on the board. Saïx’s blindness to his own readability that made his manipulation that much more rewarding. Every Nobody to don the cloak had been instrumental in creating the mental prisons they confined themselves within. Few were so rewarding to lead ever deeper into imprisonment as the Luna Diviner.

“Good,” he answered, pausing. “Bear in mind that you have tremendous power over those with hearts or even those who succumb to illusions of their former heart.” Lord Xemnas recognized a shadow of a smile in Saïx’s expression and continued on. “Pain, doubt, insecurity… Knowing which emotion will lead to which action will be of great use to us. How else would one direct the pawns to precisely where they must go to secure our hearts?” It was but a moment that Saix permitted his gaze to rest on Kingdom Hearts beyond Xemnas, and yet, it betrayed more still of his aspirations. Despite all his pretense in acceptance of the shattered void where his heart once resided, Number VII longed for its return. Truly, he was an ideal pawn that would sacrifice it all for hollow promises in return. “Refining your skill in manipulating hearts… This is the lesson I will impart to you time and again in preparation of what is to come.”

“Yes, Lord Xemnas,” Saix agreed without hesitation.


Lea in KH3 on clocktower

Day 2: Emotions

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Created as part of the 8 Days of Axel Challenge
Day 1 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6| Day 7 | Day 8

Lea spent a ton of his time lost in thought once he was back to being — whole. Recompleted, they called it, but that didn’t feel quite right. There were these gaps in his memories where he knew something was missing. It’d be real nice to know what it was, but ‘course it was never that easy.

Not like he just had to that to think about. There was this icky storm of feelings he’d been without for years and years, and every day brought something new to think about. Kairi talked to him about how they might be able to bring Roxas back, which meant they could do the same for Naminé if any of it even worked. All he could say to her was “I guess so.” Hope was a lot to, well, hope for.

He’d died twice already, and Lea just wanted to set things right this time around. There was some guilt and regret from everything he’d done in the past. Then there was that bit of hope and right on its heels was the fear of being hopeful. All of it worried him on top of the whole mess!

But things had finally turned around once Ventus was back. Lea really started to believe he was actually up to the task this time. Late, sure, but still. Having hope wasn’t as scary for Lea as it’d been in training with Kairi — after all, things were going his way now. Seemed like as good a reason as any to go celebrate another chance.

So that’s how he ended up on the clocktower, three popsicles in hand, watching the sunset and apologizing again. And to someone who wasn’t even there, but whose fault was that? “Well, Roxas. I should’ve been there for you by now. But here we are.”

“Shouldn’t you say goodbye to your real home?” He knew that voice anywhere, but he looked anyway. Saïx. Isa? Lea couldn’t fight the surprised, even hopeful gasp. ‘Course, that kicked up a whole hive of emotions all over again. Dammit, Isa.

“Why…?” There is was again, just when he was starting to get a handle on all these emotions. The hurt that he would come here, now, to do whatever he was scheming — it hurt more than Lea wanted to come to terms with.

But Isa just had a seat, calmly and naturally like this was his living room and not his old spot. He crossed one leg over the other, locking eyes with Lea. “I’m not here to fight. Relax.” Deftly, he snagged an ice cream from Lea, who grumbled as it slipped out of his hand.

“Hey!” He swiped after it, but no luck.

Isa tilted his head one way and the ice cream in the other, studying him with gold eyes Lea wanted to recognize. Or maybe he didn’t. Ugh, this was impossible! “You can’t eat all this. Why did you buy three of them?” Lea sighed, looking down at the ice cream in his hands as Isa continued. “One for Roxas… and two for good luck?”

Lea turned away, hearing the soft, crisp sound of Isa taking a bite into the sea salt ice cream. “I don’t know. Because I felt like it, okay?” More things he just didn’t have answers to. The empty spots in his memories that made him feel like he had to do things that didn’t make a lick of sense. Lea scoffed, turning that frustration on Isa with a frown. And he’s just eating Lea’s ice cream like it’s nothing. “Why are you here?”

“Got it memorized?” He even mimicked the lilt of it a bit. And that made it all worse. “Back when we were still friends, we used to sneak into the castle.”

“Yeah,” he responded, regret bleeding into his voice. ‘Back when we were still friends’, like it was all over now. If this was to answer Lea’s question, this was gonna be a big one. Not something he was sure he’d like.

“And we made a friend there, a girl. We apprenticed to Ansem the Wise to rescue her.” Isa told it like a documentary instead of something he knew already. And Lea wasn’t having any of that either.

“Yeah, and we failed!” He jabbed at Isa with one of the ice creams, snapping, “One day, she was just gone!”

Saix turned to him with a bit of something in his eyes, a feeling Lea couldn’t place. Not yet, anyway, and it was gone just as quick as it came. “You gave up.”

His voice was level, like he had nothing more pressing than a passing comment to share. Lea knew that was all for show, right then and there. Isa was telling him about how he was hurting. Because of Lea. After all this time too… why’d he wait so long to say something? Lea couldn’t look Isa in the eye, so he turned away.

“I did not give up.” A shaky breath escaped him, but he cut that short fast as he could. Had to get a grip on this whole ‘heart’ business somehow. “One day, we’re apprentices. The next, Ansem the Wise has up and vanished. The day after, we’re Nobodies. Day after that, we’re doing icky jobs for Xemnas.” The helplessness of those days rushed back to him, and Lea ended up gesturing emphatically with the ice cream at that point, admitting more than he meant to. “I couldn’t keep up with you!”

Might as well’ve just said what he felt from the start. Knowing what that was, exactly, would really help with that. Isa listened studiously, evenly, unreadable as ever through it all. When he replied, it was calm enough that Lea could actually look at him. Isa’s face was distant, his ice cream half-finished. Looked like Lea wasn’t the only one preoccupied.

“Following Xehanort’s Nobody was the only way to discover what happened to her. She was his lab rat.” Isa didn’t look or sound any different, but something was off. Lea didn’t even have to think about it. That was a nice perk to the new feelings, anyway. Time to change the tone of the conversation.

“So? You found her? I helped you rise up the ranks, so I hope it paid off.” He gestured to Isa with the ice creams, casually and almost playfully this time. Sitting here, talking like this was — kind of comfortable. Familiar. His heart warmed up, the indignant anger swapping out for nostalgia. Man, hearts were a lot. It was like they’d never stopped being friends even if Isa just said it in the past tense. He was here, and not to fight. Could it be…? Nah. Had to be wishful thinking. Probably.

From that look on Isa’s face, a faint glare out at nothing, Lea already had the answer about her. “I’m afraid not. Nary a trace.” Isa looked to Lea and for a moment, he really felt — something. “I started to wonder if we’d imagined her. Maybe she never existed.” His voice took on more emotion, layers where it was usually dry and monotone. Even as a vessel, he just more and more Isa as he sat here and talked. ‘Course he’d force his way through that, just like everything else they went up against. “And then, in time, I awakened to a new purpose.” His face steeled over, serious and driven. “I realized I could be stronger.”

Lea scoffed again. All this for that in the end? He couldn’t keep from talking with his hands, ice cream or not. “Well, then, you blew it! Wise up already and just quit.” He really was grasping at straws here, Lea knew it, but his heart was screaming for Isa to come back home. He was here, not for a fight but for ice cream and a chat, and they were talking in truths for the first time in years. It had to mean something. Just had to.

“Face it,” he started, turning to face Lea. “Roxas is just like our other friend. Gone forever.” Even if his expression showed he didn’t really mean it — he was pushing Lea’s buttons to get a reaction, and of course he knew it — it stung. He was gonna get that reaction, alright. Lea squeezed his eyes shut, turning away, pushing the hurt down. “Gone forever. You need to accept that.”

“You wish!” He lashed out, scowling at Saix. “I’m getting her back. All of ‘em!” Lea pointed with the ice cream at Isa again, who just took another bite casually. “Especially Roxas! I’m even dragging you home!” He hadn’t even thought that part out, no second guesses, just said it and meant it. That finally felt right to him. “Complete.” Isa had finished off his ice cream, leveling that watchful gaze at Lea again as he held the popsicle stick out over the town below.

“The marks under your eyes.” He looked at Lea, almost fondly if his gaze wasn’t so distant. “They’re gone.” He sounded — impressed? Surprised? Concerned? Ah, how the hell was he supposed to know what Isa felt when Lea just figured out what he felt?

His eyes widened and wandered, and Lea felt lost for just a second. He scoffed, trying to keep up the spirit of what he just said. “Yeah. Don’t need ‘em.” Lea put on his best determined look and still somehow felt like he was a child again — this time with his childhood friend just within reach.

Speaking through the small effort of standing up, Isa kept on talking. “Always told you they’d stop you from crying. The upside-down tears.”

The memories of that phrase, raw and packed with baggage, pushed Lea over the edge. How he could cut right to his core like that, dredge up all these feelings when he had his heart locked away, Lea couldn’t even guess. “Would you get lost?” He waved Isa away with the ice cream again, shaking melted drops of blue at their feet. He put on a frown, pointing at Isa with an ice cream one last time. “I’ll clobber ya tomorrow!”

And would you believe it, Isa smiled. Even chuckled. Opening a dark corridor beneath him, he held to that smile and look straight at Lea. “I expect no less.” He closed his eyes, almost content, and was swallowed up in the darkness. Gone like he’d never been there, and yet it felt like he’d never left at all. Lea’s heart was heavy — with hope, with remorse, with longing. Lea let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, looking away from where Isa was just standing.

There it was. Sadness. The hollow spot of a friend you missed like crazy. He sighed again, turning his attention back to the sunset. He couldn’t bring himself to eat the rest of these, not anymore. Isa was right again. He couldn’t eat these all on his own. He needed people to share it with and he knew exactly who his heart wanted.

I’ll miss you

I have never written Saïx before, tbh, and I get the feeling that Demyx and Saïx is an unpopular thematic combo, buuuut…

It’s more about the broship of Axel and Demyx anyway. If nothing else, I had fun. Hope you enjoy it too!

Spoilers below for Chain of Memories and 358/2

His boots brushed the grey-white floor of Saïx’s office while Demyx just… Swung his feet and waited to be yelled at until he died. Again. Maybe he could open a corridor in time to run, but ennnngh… Living up to his title, the Melodious Nocturne hummed an aimless song instead.

[I]He’d just catch me anyway, then he’d be reeeaally mad. Like berserker mad.

“Quiet, Number IX,” Saïx ordered from outta nowhere.

“Eek!” Demyx recoiled, covering his head with arms. One second, two second… Safe yet? He peeked through an opening over his shoulder, that was brave enough. Gold eyes narrowed at him around the big X on Saïx’s face, and… He put his arms down, shrinking in the seat. “Uhh, yeah. Quiet. Got it.”

“Clearly not.”

Saïx glided and kinda stomped to the other side of his desk at the same time (how did he do that?), moonlight from Kingdom Hearts pouring into the giant windows behind him.

Like pretty much everything else in this place, his desk was barren. Well, except for a stack of papers in a filing stand and a couple pens. Next Christmas, Demyx was gonna get him a stress doll. Maybe seven of ’em. For symbolism.

“Heh–” The rest of his laugh died in a fake cough that Saïx bought… Probably ’cause he had something worse to say to Demyx. “Engh.”

“We’ve received a report from Castle Oblivion. You would do well to submit those too,” he warned, looming over the desk. Couldn’t not bring that up, huh? And why didn’t he just sit, this’d be a lot less scary if he just… Didn’t talk?

no, no, that would be waaaay worse

“Umm, okay?” Saïx’s face was a wall, like trying to read blank sheet music. What’d that have to do with Demyx? He was recon, not science or… Whatever they sent Marluxia, Larxene, and Axel there for. Probably fighting, another thing he was so not the right guy for. Still.

“Everyone stationed at the castle has been eliminated.” A stiff smile froze on Demyx’s face and he waited for a breathless beat. Nothing changed. The moon kept on shining and Saïx kept that dead stare. Leaning forward, Demyx kinda felt like he was gonna throw up.

“Wha…” This had to be a bad joke, Saïx would say that just to be mean. No way everyone was gone! “Wait, wait,” Demyx stalled and swatted the air in front of him. Could you get rid of bad thoughts that way? “Everyone’s eli… Gone, so who sent you a report?”

“Number II, not that it’s any concern of yours.”

Now that it wouldn’t make a difference, Saïx sat down. His desk might as well have been a canyon, nothing was reaching Demyx right. “You will need to apply yourself, Number IX.”

He flopped theatrically back into the chair, dropping his arms on the armrests. No hearts, no emotions… Demyx wasn’t supposed to care. Those were the rules.

“We have been reduced to half our numbers,” Saïx droned on with moonlight bearing down on him like a weird kinda spotlight. Demyx got to wondering if Saïx kept notecards too, only hidden under the desk for extra special bad news.

Waaaaiiit… He’d have to feel bad about it to do that. Hmm.

“…and Number VIII isn’t here to protect you from your mistakes.” At some point, he’d stopped listening and from how Saïx was clenching his jaw, Demyx was preeeetty sure that was obvious.

“Mmgh.” Demyx pouted and that just kinda made X-face more annoyed. What was he supposed to do here? He wasn’t the guy with the plan.

And good ol’ Number VII just glared straight on through him, heartless as he claimed they all were. Or maybe he really believed the lie?


“Hey…” Tapping his fingertips together, Demyx wandered into dangerous waters. Metaphorically. “Weren’t you guys friends?”

Aaand there it was.

Demyx gulped and almost stared back down, but that burning glower locked him right in place. W-was he nervous sweating? Ewww…

“Obviously Axel believed you needed that information,” Saïx forced out. Ticking him off this close to the moon, what was Demyx even thinking? Bad bet, don’t go against house, that’s what Luxord would say. “But your focus should be on your work. We don’t have room for slacking off, Number IX. Remember that.”

“Okay, but hey–” Demyx stopped at the soft fwoosh of a dark corridor behind him. “Who’s that?” Just an open corridor sitting between him and the way out. No one else there, so who…? “Oooh.”

“You are dismissed.” Saïx insisted, standing up again. Kinda guessed he was gonna throw Demyx through if he didn’t leave soon and that was a good enough reason to get up too.

“Alright, alright,” he whined and shuffled backwards to the swirling purple-black portal. “But y’know…”

“Dismissed,” he repeated and just a liiiittle bit, Demyx could see his shoulders tense up.

“Got it,” he squeaked and backed through the rest of the way, finding himself alone in the Grey Room. He stood there for a sec, just thinking.

Larxene, Marluxia, Vexen, Zexion, Lexaeus… Axel… All dead. He didn’t even know why. And what’d Saïx tell him personally for? He scratched his head and stared out into the nighttime sky they always had at the Castle.

“Aww man,” he complained to no one. There wasn’t even gonna be a funeral. “I’m really gonna miss you.” No heart, no emotions… Not yet, anyway. Saïx was super lucky.