Like Ice

Mar. 5th, 2012 11:00 pm[personal profile] azi posting in [community profile] themutedscarp
azi: Keep Calm and Appeal to a Supervisor. (Default)
Title: Like Ice
Writing Date: 2008.
Rating: Nothing to worry about.
Warnings: None, really.
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Pairing/Characters: Vexen and Saïx
Summary: Saïx could just imagine Vexen in his laboratory, hunched over his desk and cursing under his breath at whatever silly little project he had set his dire lack of heart on.

The glitter was something that Saïx had never been able to grow used to.

Every time he made the journey from his own room to the frosted basement quarters belonging to the more stereotypical of the scientists, he found himself looking around in what could almost be a shadow of wonder at his surroundings.

Frost starred the walls and accentuated the violently straight architecture, all the while giving the illusion of a velvety softness that he knew would be as rough as sandpaper when he touched it with gloved fingers. Although he had performed the same action time and time again whenever he’d passed the most prominent pillar on his route, he was still some distance away from getting accustomed to the crystalline roughness of the icy coating.

As he walked, he struck out an arm to sweep his hand across the pillar’s surface when he came close enough. It was almost rehearsed in its easiness and the paths that his fingers travelled along were shallow grooves that had been traced many times before. As far as he was aware, he was the only one other than his destination’s owner who made the trip down there with any sort of frequency. He suspected that he should perhaps stop visiting quite so often. Such casual visits were completely at odds with his air of businesslike indifference.

It looked most unprofessional.

Such thoughts were not enough to stall his journey and he treaded more carefully as he made his way closer to the door of the laboratory. The floor was covered in a thin, creeping layer of ice and he was hardly going to speed up if it would cost him his dignity. He could think of better things to do than lose his footing to the hazard on the ground and end up landing backside-first on the hard floor. That simply wouldn’t do.

The light down there was minimal. Though the walls themselves seemed to glow with a peculiar phosphorescence –an eerie glow that reflected off the surfaces of millions of multi-faceted ice crystals- it was still closer to the interior of a cave than anything even remotely similar to a normal building. Not that you could call anything within the boundaries of The World That Never Was anywhere near ‘normal’.

Saïx could just imagine Vexen in his laboratory, hunched over his desk and cursing under his breath at whatever silly little project he had set his dire lack of heart on. They were all pointless, as far as he was concerned. Their primary objective was the retrieval of their hearts and although he knew that Vexen had his own interests in mind, he couldn’t help but think that any time spent on frivolous and needless experiments was a waste of their time and resources. It wasn’t as though the man could truly enjoy them anyway. Not like he used to.

Saïx’s arrival at the door was heralded by the crunching of loose ice underfoot. It was white and fluffy and, were it not for it being inside and sitting in small drifts in the corners of the corridor and against the walls, it could be assumed to be snow.

He couldn’t help but find it halfway funny. He had long suspected that the ice and snow stretching from the door and outwards was some feeble attempt by the scholarly old man to somehow get his claws into a little bit of property beyond the reach of his room. He imagined him there, cackling madly to himself and babbling about everything that the cold touches being his.

He made sure to wipe the smirk induced by that thought off his lips before he raised a hand to rap on the door.

He waited patiently for the answer. He wasn’t expecting it to be opened quickly for he knew that Vexen liked to operate on his own sweet time. He assumed that it gave him a small sense of power over the person who had the misfortune of visiting him. Leaving them standing at the door seemed to be part of some strange master plan to make anybody who dared walk into his frozen demesne as cold as he was.

When the door did open, the scientist that Saïx had sought out looked rather irritable. This was nothing unusual; a front of irritation and annoyance was practically Vexen’s default expression. He peered down at his guest through slitted green eyes and with a sneer on his face.

“Back again?” His nasal voice came laden with contempt.

“It would appear so.” Saïx replied, carefully keeping his own face expressionless as he looked up at him.

Vexen stood above Saïx, but managed to seem less than imposing. Tall and almost avian in his thinness, he didn’t quite have the stature to intimidate Number VII. Still, he was as aloof as any nobleman and twice as stuck up as he had any right to be.

“I shall assume that you aren’t pleased to see me.” Saïx could tell that much from his face.

Their meetings were always stiff, even if they were generally not brought about by necessity. It was almost like a game to them. Saïx would make the effort to meet him in his little domain of snow, ice and silent, creeping annoyance and Vexen would happily play the part of a busy man who was being very put out by the intrusion. This time, however, Saïx had his reasons for the visit.

“Am I ever? You come all the way down here to amuse yourself at my expense, what makes you think I would be even near pleased by this, Seven?” He said the words reflexively. He didn’t mind Saïx’s occasional visits; they tended to brighten up his otherwise dull days in the laboratory. He had to keep up appearances nonetheless.

“You raise a fair point. Perhaps I should..?” Saïx swept a hand behind him, pointing his fingers back the way he came. He gave the cavernous hallway behind him a cursory glance. His eyebrows rose almost as imperceptivity as the corners of his lips as he started to turn.

Vexen narrowed one eye and tilted his head back with a superior look on his face. Though his expression did not betray any shadow of annoyance, his fine features did little to hide the slight tensing of jaw muscles that indicated lightly gritted teeth. “You’d come all the way here just to leave? What a waste of time. One would think that the lapdog of the Superior would have better things to do than bother me for a few seconds and then turn around and walk away.”

Saïx trained a fierce look of scorn on the scientist. “That old thing?” His eyes softened somewhat before he spoke again. “I would have thought that somebody so high up on the roster would be a little more interested in the goings on of the Organization.”

Vexen’s lips pulled back over his clenched teeth at the derisiveness in his tone.

Their relationship was a careful balance of tolerance and disagreements. Vexen was far from happy with how Saïx seemed to have been elevated to Second-In-Command and Saïx just about tolerated how he was berated for this fact. It was hardly his fault, after all. Vexen’s superiority complex, however…

“What do you want?” Vexen’s question was a forceful, impatient one.

Saïx shook his head lightly. He would have shrugged if he was the sort of man inclined to that, but as it was, he didn’t. He spread his hands and lazily splayed his leather-coated fingers. “Light conversation?” Saïx’s head tilted slightly as he replied. The smirk he wore to accompany the words showed sharp canine teeth at the corners of those perfect lips.

Vexen huffed and sent a small cloud of steam out into the air.

He didn’t trust Saïx. He was completely aware that his calm and cool exterior was just a lie, a veneer made up to coat his otherwise savage nature. It was only when he saw that look on his face that it became apparent just how much of a wolf in sheep’s clothing he truly was. His mask, though scarred, was near perfect.

“You came here for light conversation?” He didn’t sound like he found the berserker especially convincing.

“Indeed. I come with a message as well, but I doubt you’re interested. It would only raise your blood pressure.” Saïx’s eyes flashed with cruel amusement.

Vexen did not rise to the bait. Instead, he looked at him evenly. “Continue,” he rolled his eyes as he spoke the single word. He gazed off to the side as though staunchly refusing to look at him directly. It was a small revenge for catching his interest.

Saïx took a careful step forward. He didn’t quite relax until he was positive that the slippery floor wouldn’t betray him and he kept his silence until he was sure that the elder man was getting annoyed by his lack of response. The peak of this not-quite-emotion came when Vexen fixed him with his eyes again.

“Xemnas has decided to divide our number between two locations.” Saïx told him, satisfied that his attention was on him completely.

The power struggles between the two were subtle, and yet evident in their own way. Saïx almost enjoyed having Vexen hanging on his every word. If he had the heart to get the most out of that one of life’s little pleasures, he would have made sure to get under Vexen’s skin far more often than he already strived to.

“Yes, and?” Vexen spat out the words as though they left a bad taste in his mouth.

“That’s it.” Saïx revealed those teeth in a smirk once more. “Is your interest piqued? Do you burn with curiosity?” He was mocking him. For somebody with such a convincingly composed false front, he was forever antagonistic.

When he thought about it a while longer, he realised that there was probably nothing in any of the worlds that could make Vexen of all people burn. He was too frigid to ignite anything and his pride wouldn’t allow him to show even the memory of excitement.

Vexen gave Saïx a flat glare.

Saïx looked very nearly entertained that not even his glares could contain the heat of any false-hatred.

“Is that all? You came down here to inform me of one aspect of the Superior’s plans without giving away any useful information? How very typical of you.” He was rankled. As a scientist, there was nothing he hated more than only being given part of the information he required. He had a feeling that Saïx knew of this aspect of his personality very well. Well enough to exploit, at least.

Saïx leant on the door frame. It was casual and completely unlike him to do such a thing, and this fact was not lost on Vexen. He wore a self-satisfied look on his face as testament to annoying the fourth Nobody so easily.

“Stop slouching. My door frame is not a leaning post for stray dogs.” Vexen informed him testily.

“My apologies.” Saïx replied. He didn’t sound sorry in the least. He kept his voice smooth and even and didn’t make any effort to move.

Vexen gritted his teeth and roughly pushed him up and away from his door, dislodging a lot of dusty looking ice in the process. His nonchalance had managed to rob Vexen of his composure. “You’re managing to get on my nerves more than usual today, Saïx.”

If Saïx was able to laugh, he would have done so at Vexen then. He didn’t react very much as he was manhandled out of the doorway and looked down at himself once he was standing on his own again. He frowned and took the opportunity to brush the frost off his coat.

“You really must do something about all of this ice.” He brought a hand up to inspect the surface of his glove. Unsurprisingly, it glistened.

Vexen snorted. It was a short, sharp breath ejected from his nose and it came accompanied by both a cloud of steam and a contemptuous noise. “I will do no such thing. If you come all the way down here, you’ll just have to get used to the environment.”

“Is it necessary to make the entire floor as frigid as you are?” The mote of cruelty hanging in his voice was enough to apply the double entendre.

“What are you implying, Saïx?” Vexen narrowed one eye. He added specific emphasis to his name.

“That you’re cold, Vexen, that’s all.” Saïx replied as though he was stating fact rather than a widely held opinion.

“It’s my elemental power, what do you exp-”

Saïx cut him off. “I wasn’t referring to your element.”

Vexen narrowed his eyes to green slits. He offset his jaw slightly and stared at Saïx with a silent loathing that was almost tangible. His breathing was measured, slow and cross.

Saïx made himself grin. It was a predatory expression and one that Vexen did not like in the least. Saïx knew this and did it to spite him. He decided to up the ante. It was his reason for making the journey down to him and he decided that it was time to annoy him just that little bit more.

He pushed the sleeve of his coat up and hooked his fingers around the freshly exposed hem of the elbow length glove beneath. The tips of his fingers didn’t slip past the greyish decoration on the edge, but it was enough for him to peel it off.

Vexen looked down at him, suspicious of what he was doing. He took a baby step backwards out of caution. He didn’t want to risk getting close to what could be clawed hands, especially not those of a berserker. He considered closing the door on the Seventh Nobody when a flash of white came towards his face. This was knocked aside by a swift blur of black and Vexen stepped back further.

“What is the meaning of..?” He was blustering. He wasn’t sure quite whether to be angry or not. He could see that Saïx was plotting something but, for all his vast knowledge, he couldn’t quite work out what.

Saïx had reached out for his cheek. There had been a brief moment before his hand was batted away where his skin had come into contact with the fringe of Vexen’s ash-blond hair. A few strands had trailed across his fingers as he stepped back, but none had snapped.

“Just as I thought. Cold.” Saïx’s words were bordering on the ‘I told you so’ variety of reply.

Vexen stared at him, brow furrowed and his mouth pressed into a firm line. If it was less collected, he would be grinding his teeth in sheer irritation at Saïx’s behaviour. It was a hard struggle, though. His memories were crying out for him to explode with recalled anger.

“If you don’t want to find yourself frozen to that patch of floor, Saïx, I recommend that you leave immediately.” Vexen’s composure was hanging by a thread.

“Very well.” He sounded resigned. “Before I do take my leave, allow me to-”

Vexen cut across him. “No. I’m allowing you nothing.”

Saïx smirked. “You truly are a frigid old man.”

A short pause of remembered fury and recalled mirth passed between the two before a loud crash filled the entire corridor. Over in one of the corners a sound akin to breaking glass rang through the hollow space as shining spears of ice met the floor and smashed into pieces.

Saïx looked at the slammed door and raised his eyebrows. Hm. Perhaps he should leave it a little longer before visiting him again, after that. He decided that it would prove to be the wiser course of action if he wanted to remain unfrozen.

He shook it off and replaced his glove. He even took the time to make sure it was completely comfortable before he turned carefully on his heel and made his way out of the icy realm of the decidedly frosty scientist.

Several days after the Archadian invasion, a terrible explosion reduced the once proud city of Nabudis to naught but rubble. Though the city fell in the space of a night, the Mist that now swirls where it once stood has transformed the land into a barren waste for eternity. Even now, the cause of this cataclysm is not fully understood.

-Sage Knowledge 03

March 2012

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