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01 July 2008 @ 21:01
[KH] Climate change  
Title: Climate change
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Characters: Mainly Vexen, with the rest of the original six popping up in varying places. Although Lexaeus never really appears overtly.
Series: None
Warnings: ...suffering Vexen. Pretty much nothing else.
Misc. Information: This is cygna_hime's very very belated birthday fic. Her request was Woobie Vexen; I hope I've done it justice.

*****

Afterwards, one of the things they all agree on is that it was Xigbar's fault.

How much of it was Xigbar's fault, on the other hand, is a point of contention. Opinions range from Xaldin saying that of course it was Xigbar's fault - this not being particularly unusual - but considering how long they have known one another Vexen should really have put up warning signs if he was working with unusual materials, over Lexaeus pointing out that although it would have been better if Vexen had taken precautions, most of the blame still rests with Xigbar for turning on the sprinklers in the first place, to Vexen's furious assertion that it is a lab ("was", Zexion corrects him) and he should not need to warn people if he is working with particularly volatile chemicals.

(Xigbar, of course, claims that he is completely innocent and that it is entirely Vexen's fault for not informing him ahead of time that on the day in question the lab would contain materials that turn into a high-grade explosive upon contact with water; the others unanimously decide that his opinion does not count due to bias.)

One of the other things they all agree on (this time including Xigbar but excluding Vexen, who however does not disagree but rather makes a sound rather like "mimblewimble" if asked his opinion) is that the explosion was really most impressive.

*****

Life, Vexen soon finds, is sad and empty without the lab.

Well, there is a bit too much poetry and not enough truth to that. Life (insofar as he can be called alive, but after the fifth migraine he preferred leaving the more philosophical questions on their existence to Xemnas) cannot very well be sad, as he is incapable of feeling sad - it might possibly be termed sad by someone with a heart, but as no such person is around to ask and he would need to poll a representative sample in any case to get a meaningful answer to such a subjective question Vexen would rather leave the question unanswered. And empty - well, of course his life, ignoring the philosophical complications, is empty. As a matter of fact, it has been empty ever since the nameless creature that was once Even woke up with a gaping void where his heart should be; presence or absence of a lab really had no detectable influence on the matter.

That said, there is still something... pointless about his existence with no lab, no place to perform his experiments, no access to any materials more potentially dangerous than bleach. The first few days, he had tried to still get useful work done by studying some of the new papers that had appeared in the Library, then by noting down potential experiments to be conducted based on the new data - but he is inclined to experimentation rather than theory, and after twelve pages of notes Lexaeus had gently but firmly asked him to leave the Library because his continually worsening twitch was distracting the others.

Really, Vexen thinks, there must be some meaningful experiments one can conduct using only cleaning fluids.

He winds up wandering through the halls, aimlessly for a while and then, always, returning to the black, smoking hole where the lab used to be without realising where his feet are taking him. Xaldin, who is overseeing the reconstruction, seems understanding but when Vexen stops by for the seventh time before noon he points out that the reconstruction really will not be finished until two weeks from now at the soonest, he is not joking, the speed will not increase if Vexen comes to stare at the Dusks mournfully every ten minutes. (A horrible exaggeration; Vexen is certain that he has only been by every seventeen minutes on average. Sixteen at most.)

The ninth time, Xemnas is there.

Vexen stops abruptly. Try as he might, he cannot think of a reason Xemnas might be here - Xemnas mainly keeps to the area around his rooms these days, coming down sometimes for mealtimes but most often sending a Dusk to collect his portion or skipping them entirely. Vexen cannot bring himself to mind all that much, because it is strangely awkward with Xemnas around; he would blame it on the incongruity between them and the people they remember, but that problem is the same with all the others and this is something unique to Xemnas.

More probably, it is how Xemnas has slowly changed from comrade to leader, how his suggestions have bit by bit taken on the tenor of orders instead. It is something the other five viewed with caution at first, with quiet meetings held when they think Xemnas will not notice where they discussed the worrying developments - but the meetings had grown fewer and fewer and finally stopped entirely, and inaction had been its own form of acquiescence.

And so Xemnas has become the Superior (a joke of Xigbar's that quickly lost its humour) and Vexen cannot help being slightly wary of him these days.

Which still does not explain why he is here.

"Xemnas," Vexen greets him. (He will not use that ridiculous title.) "What brings you here?" He ignores Xaldin's muttered "you're one to ask."

"Lexaeus mentioned that you were, ah, 'moping' around the castle." It is impressive how much incredulity Xemnas manages to fit into one word. "I assured him that such a thing was, of course, impossible given that you are a Nobody and therefore incapable of such, but he still seemed to think I should speak to you."

Vexen finds himself squirming under Xemnas' gaze. (Not that he has been moping; after all, what Xemnas has pointed out is true. His actions have been entirely logical given the circumstances.)

"I do agree with him in that it seems you might benefit from a change of scenery," Xemnas is continuing. "Since you currently have no duties keeping you here, I see no reason not to send you on a mission."

"Of course, Xe-"

Wait.

Mission?

It is Xigbar and Xaldin who get sent on most of the missions. Sometimes Lexaeus (more often Xigbar somehow talks him into taking his mission; on the one hand, Vexen supposes it is good to have someone indisputably competent in the field in place of Xigbar, on the other, it means more time with Xigbar in Vexen's near vicinity), Zexion only if there is something that calls for his specific talents. After one time, never Vexen.

Vexen isn't sure which is more worrisome; Xemnas' sudden impulse to send him on missions (dreary, uncomfortable things and a complete waste of his talents) or his agreeing with Xemnas before even thinking about what the other had suggested.

(Not that it was much of a suggestion.)

Xemnas is looking at him patiently, obviously waiting for him to finish his sentence.

"Of course, Xemnas," he forces out. (Their last meeting had been five months ago and he cannot disagree and how did things ever get to this point anyway?)

"You will be going with Zexion," Xemnas continues. "He has all the necessary information. You will want to meet him to discuss it." He raises an eyebrow. "It would be best if you were to leave as soon as possible; given your current appearance, I am almost inclined to give credence to Lexaeus' view of the matter."

Vexen jerks back as if burned. "I am not moping-" he starts, but Xemnas is already gone.

Really, bad enough that Lexaeus entertained such fantastic notions, now Xemnas was starting as well? Was it possible there was some kind of virus going around which attacked the brain cells?

He would need to perform some tests in the lab-

The lab.

No lab, and a mission to go on - Vexen suddenly has the fleeting urge to strangle Lexaeus.

(And Xigbar, of course, but that urge is common enough that it need not be remarked on.)

Well. Maybe it won't be as bad as he is expecting.

*****

The first thing Vexen notices is the heat.

The second thing Vexen notices is the heat.

The third, for good measure, is also the heat; only when he reaches four does something else break his train of thought. Zexion, in this case, moving to stand in front of him.

"Vexen?"

Vexen takes a deep breath. Then another. Then a third, as he reminds himself that Zexion probably had no more choice in accepting the mission than he did, almost certainly was not to blame for the location and it would therefore be exceptionally unfair to, say, introduce Zexion to the far more pleasant temperature extreme. If anyone, Vexen should be making plans to freeze Xemnas instead.

(His mind slides away from the idea; not in the least surprising but nonetheless disquieting.)

"Vexen?" Zexion's voice is growing sharp - not with concern, as it might have once. Just sharp.

"Just a moment," Vexen says.

"Well, when you are - ready," Zexion is getting disturbingly good at that sarcastic undertone, "you might possibly consider moving out of sight of the natives."

Vexen looks around. His eyes are met by sand, sand, sun, more sand, a stretch of blue water and - a large number of people running around and laughing (the homicidal urge is undoubtedly left over from Even) and not paying them any attention at all.

"They don't seem to mind us," he says acerbically.

"Obviously, given that they cannot actually see us at the moment," Zexion snaps back.

Vexen blinks. Yes, there is the tell-tale shimmer of Zexion's illusions; he is not quite certain how he missed it.

His mind seems to be working far too slowly. It is an unpleasant sensation.

"-pend any more energy than necessary," Zexion is saying.

"Of course," Vexen answers - hopefully correctly; with luck he has not missed anything important. "Ah. Where are we going?"

Zexion sighs.

The heat grows, if anything, worse as they walk towards their destination (Vexen wonders why they did not portal in directly, then wonders why he did not think of this earlier.) By the time they reach the shelter Zexion obviously intends as their base of operations for this mission, Vexen is weighing drowning as a preferable alternative to continuing. The shore is not all that far away...

The shelter, it turns out, is a ramshackle hut just above the cliffs; upon seeing it, Vexen realises why they did not take the dark paths in as it looks as if one opening portal might make it collapse entirely.

"Xigbar said it was sturdier than it looked on the outside," Zexion said doubtfully.

"And you believed him?" Vexen demands.

"Xigbar is generally responsible when it comes to missions."

Vexen would comment more on the inadvisability of listening to Xigbar, believing Xigbar, relying on Xigbar or in fact giving what Xigbar says any kind of attention whatsoever, but upon entering he is forced to admit that by some fluke the other Nobody had in fact been correct; from inside the shelter, things seem positively stable.

And even more furnace-like than before.

"Isn't it rather hot in here?" Vexen asks. (That Xigbar had considered this a suitable base of operations says volumes about his level of intellect.)

Zexion looks at him with the genuinely puzzled expression of someone who has not given the matter a second thought. "Hot? Well..." he seems to pause to think for a few moments. "I suppose it might be slightly warmer than the World that Never Was," Zexion concludes.

Vexen groans.

*****

The mission, Zexion informs him acerbically, is going very badly.

Vexen resists the urge to snap back that he knew that, thank you very much. For one, there is visible annoyance on Zexion's face once the illusion vanishes, and that is rare enough to give him pause. For another, Vexen had strictly speaking not known as he had not been paying very much attention to the mission at all.

Of course, that is hardly his fault; he has been spending his time on equally important things. Namely, the damnable heat which makes it completely impossible to concentrate on the data sets Zexion brings him for analysis anyway, so it is not as if he is wasting time by trying to change the temperature.

Unfortunately, his war against the climate has thus far been unsuccessful - even after he decided effecting a permanent change in overall weather patterns was too large-scale a goal for such a short mission. Even a temporary one he grudgingly gave up on, although with three more weeks he might have managed it. But not even any of the cooling devices he has come up with work - shoddy materials, he is sure. It is as if the heat has declared war on him-

Zexion is still there.

"Why are you still here?" Vexen demands. He has not seen much of Zexion in the past few days; the other Nobody is nearly constantly out wearing some illusion or other, returning only very briefly to drop off more reams of paper covered with numbers.

"You are aware that it isn't just you who will be in trouble if this mission doesn't work out, aren't you?" Zexion says tightly.

"Of c-" Vexen tries to say, but Zexion continues.

"It's not just you who Xemnas will be having a word with about the truly pathetic results we have achieved, or who will probably be on toilet duty for a month as punishment for the greatest failure of a mission since the time Xaldin got captured by cannibals. As I have more than been doing my part, I find this rather unfair, to put it mildly." Zexion is more hissing than speaking now, and Vexen finds himself taken aback.

He has never seen Zexion angry before - well, of course he has never seen Zexion angry as Zexion is incapable of such. But he has also never seen Zexion pretending anger; that the other Nobody is resorting to such things says a lot.

Vexen would try to figure out what exactly it says, but it is really far too hot to think about. (Is the heat actually increasing?)

"I don't care what trauma you suffered through the temporary loss of the lab, you should more than have gotten over it by now," Zexion continues. "This inaction is highly unlike you."

Vexen wants to point out that he has been quite busy trying to deal with the heat, and if Zexion is using some trick to ignore it then Vexen should be the one complaining about deliberate obstruction of the mission. He doesn't; a small warning voice in the back of his mind points out that he is suffering from a critical lack of data regarding Zexion in this state, and further action would be best postponed pending observation.

Besides, the room has started spinning and his remaining energy probably better spent trying not to fall out of his chair.

"It's the heat," he says instead, tersely.

Zexion's expression shifts to puzzlement. (Or rather, both of the Zexions' expressions do; he seems to have multiplied without Vexen noticing.) "Heat? What heat?"

Vexen would like to respond to that with a long and detailed account of precisely how hot it is here, expressing his incredulity as to what on earth Zexion must be doing that he didn't even notice, but the same restrictions as before apply.

Of course, fainting isn't bad as a second choice.

*****

Not that he fainted, Vexen thinks upon waking up. He collapsed. There is a large difference. Fainting implies weakness; he was simply temporarily lacking in energy. It was all due to the heat (and really, how had Zexion done it?)

The heat which has, amazingly, disappeared completely.

He cracks open an eye, and promptly wishes he hadn't; Xigbar's face is not something he ever wanted to see from that close.

"Hey, he's awake!" Or hear from that close, come to think of it.

"What happened?" he asks, shifting as far away from Xigbar as he can.

"You fainted," a new voice says; Zexion is seated in a chair near the foot of the bed, his expression back to its normal state. "Did you forget?"

"I did not faint," Vexen argues, aggrieved. "I was temporarily rendered unconscious due to spontaneous collapse."

"Whiiich means you fainted, right," Xigbar butts in. He is wearing a truly manic smile that Vexen thinks should probably worry him. "Aren't you interested in why?"

"Of course I am, you nitwit," Vexen snaps. (It has been a long few days.)

Xigbar doesn't appear to care. "It turns out," he says animatedly, "that our newfound magic is not, in fact, simply elemental powers but elemental affinities." He waits a moment for it to sink in, and then adds. "Complete with weaknesses."

"And seeing as your element is ice, the climate of that world meant-" Zexion chimes in helpfully.

"I know what it meant, not being stupid." Elemental affinities. Elemental affinities. It is a fascinating discovery. Experiments will have to be devised, conducted, they will need to figure out how this happened, what meaning it has for their interactions with the darkness... just as soon as he goes to his rooms and sleeps for a week. Preferably encased in a block of ice.

When he mentions this, Zexion just raises an eyebrow coolly.

"Unfortunately, at the moment testing this is our highest priority. And," he sounds almost apologetic; Vexen puts it down to an auditory hallucination due to light-headedness, "as far as we can tell, you are the only one with an elemental weakness." He pauses. "It shouldn't be too painful."

Vexen is certain of one thing; this is all, somehow, Xigbar's fault.

*****
 
 
 
fortuna_s on 2nd July 2008 12:51 (UTC)
Awww, my poor Vexen *pets* I think I know a better title for him instead of 'Chilly Academic': 'The Bitch of Irony' XD
He's so neck deep in Irony (even with his impressive height) that I'm surprized we don't get to study him in highschool English classes.
I very much enjoy this fic- you've got their characterization down to a (pardon the term) science. I feel awful for Vexen... loosing his lab and sent on missions? Poor thing XD

I ♥ ur fics. Moar plz?
kazaera on 3rd July 2008 10:05 (UTC)
Eeeh, thank you! And you're completely right; Vexen in this is more Why Does The Universe Hate Me. Not just a mission, but a mission in the tropics.

And thank you so much for the comment about characterisation! ♥ I'm actually not that sure on my characterisation and still haven't properly settled on my interpretation of Zexion so that really made me go eeeeeeh. :D

...there are more fics and one I'm working on in particular, I just hate hate hate posting WiPs out of f-lock so uh it might possibly take a bit? >>
chii_mihara on 2nd July 2008 23:00 (UTC)
This was fantastic! Poor, poor Vexen... XD I also really enjoyed how insightful it was, both into the characters and their circumstances. :D


kazaera on 3rd July 2008 10:06 (UTC)
Thank you! :D I'm glad you liked it and thought it was insightful eeeeeh. And indeed, poor Vexen. Life hates him. XD
shinzuku on 21st August 2008 22:51 (UTC)
I love the interaction in this.

Afterwards, one of the things they all agree on is that it was Xigbar's fault.

One of the other things they all agree on (this time including Xigbar but excluding Vexen, who however does not disagree but rather makes a sound rather like "mimblewimble" if asked his opinion) is that the explosion was really most impressive.


I love how they agree on those kinds of things.

a small warning voice in the back of his mind points out that he is suffering from a critical lack of data regarding Zexion in this state, and further action would be best postponed pending observation.

Scientist thoughts! Squeee. :3

(Anonymous) on 17th January 2011 00:18 (UTC)
provides access
I can see you happen to be an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your facts will likely be quite fascinating for me.. Thanks for all your assist and wishing you all the success.
chordatesrock on 22nd December 2012 22:47 (UTC)
Of course, you're long out of this fandom and probably don't care to hear this, but I like this fic. :) I especially like the parts with Xemnas.