R for the mansex even if it's not graphic.Disclaimer:
Disney and Square Enix own it all, though I wouldn't mind “renting” Xehanort for a while. He's just so cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute – even when he's summoning his keyblade and yanking out hearts with it.Summary:
This is an alternate ending to Despair, in which Ansem saves Xehanort as he's falling into the Rising Falls. *waves Angst Mallet in warning*( Part 2 )
For the next four hours, Xehanort barely moved, and at times he was so still that Ansem checked on him to ensure that he was still breathing. Even returned just after one in the afternoon, and a few minutes later, a servant appeared with lunch for the three of them. Again, Xehanort's plate consisted of bland foods, though the syringe filled with pink liquid was there too if he was unable to eat.
"I'll go get him." Even said quietly as he gave Ansem a firm look, as if daring him to refuse, but Ansem simply nodded, realizing that Even needed time to apologize. He did watch though, in case Xehanort reacted badly, as Even quietly walked in and sat on the edge of the bed. He quietly called Xehanort's name and gave him a gentle shake, and Xehanort groaned and blinked his eyes open.
Ansem tuned out their voices, not wanting to listen in on a private conversation, but he still kept an eye on them as Even spoke to Xehanort, and after a few minutes, Xehanort reached out to him. Ansem could see the relief on Even's face as he carefully sat Xehanort up and wrapped his arms around him. Ansem smiled faintly and moved over to his small dining table and took a seat. Not long after, Xehanort came out of the bedroom, leaning heavily on Even. Even walked him onto the chair on Ansem's right and eased him into it before he moved over to sit on Xehanort's right.
Xehanort swallowed heavily as he looked at his plate, and he reached out to push it away, but Ansem stopped him.
"No, Xehanort." he said firmly "You need to eat."
"I'm not hungry." Xehanort said quietly "I think I'll go lie down some more."
"Not until you've eaten something." Even told him "You don't need to skip anymore meals."
"I don't want anything."
"Regardless," Ansem said as he scooted his chair closer to Xehanort's "You have to eat."
"I can't!" Xehanort shook his head as tears appeared in his eyes "I don't want to!"
"Xehanort-" Even began, but Xehanort cut him off.
"Why do you want me to eat anyway?" he demanded "You didn't care before when I didn't eat! You took my chair away from the dining table, and then you told the servants to ignore me! So why do you care if I don't eat!" His voice rose even higher, becoming hysterical. "You knew that I wasn't eating! You knew, and you didn't care, just like you didn't care that Braig was hurting me!" He tried to bolt up from his chair, but his legs buckled, and he crumpled to the floor before anyone could catch him. He was crying as Ansem slid out of his chair to the floor beside him and gathered him into his arms.
"Why didn't you care?" Xehanort sobbed as Even knelt down beside them "Why?"
Ansem looked at Even; what could they say? What excuse could they come up with could possibly justify what they had done? Instead Ansem only held Xehanort close as he cried, and Even gave him a knowing look; they wouldn't be getting Xehanort to eat today.
Once Xehanort had quieted, Ansem carried him back into the bedroom, while Even followed with the syringe. They gave him a tube feeding, tucked him into bed, and sat with him while he fell asleep. They then moved out into the living room and looked at each other.
"The servants ignored him?" Even asked with a pointed look.
Ansem nodded grimly. "It appears that I will be having a word with them later."
"Did you not ever tell him how much power he has in the castle? He could have ordered them to provide him with meals. Does he not know that the only ones who have authority over him are you and me, and that I only have authority in regards to our work?"
"I realized last night that I neglected to tell him many things. I will have to have a long talk with him once he's feeling better."
Even nodded and then excused himself to attend to his duties, while Ansem sat silently beside Xehanort, watching the boy sleep as guilt clawed and tore at his heart.
Even returned, along with Ienzo, at dinner time. Xehanort was already awake, curled up on the couch with Ansem, and he smiled faintly at Ienzo. The four of them, with Even once again helping Xehanort to walk, gathered around the small table, and Ienzo set a small plate of raspberry shortcake – Xehanort's favorite – on the table in front of him. Ansem understood what they were planning immediately, and he thought about protesting. The cake was too rich and too sweet for Xehanort to eat it so soon, but he spotted him licking his lips and realized that it just might work.
"If you want some of this shortcake, Xehanort," Even said as he sat down "then you have to eat at least a fourth of what is on your plate. Do you understand? Even if you can't eat the shortcake now for whatever reason, I'll let you have some later. Can you try doing that for me?"
Xehanort eyed the shortcake in front of him for a long moment, and then he slowly reached for his fork and started eating. The other three at the table watched him, until he realized that they were staring at him. He blushed, looked down at the table, and went to set his fork back down, but Ansem reached out and stopped him.
"Go ahead, Xehanort." he said "You're doing well." He then picked up his own fork, and nodded for the other two to do the same. Xehanort ate slowly, and there were a few times that Ansem feared that he was going to be sick, but he managed to do as Even had asked. However, instead of reaching for the shortcake, he simply put his fork down and looked down at his lap. As promised, Even pushed the shortcake over to him, but Xehanort ignored it.
"I don't want anything else." he said softly as he stared at his lap.
"Are you sure?" Ansem asked him "Don't you want to try at least a bite of the shortcake?"
Xehanort shook his head again, and then he clapped his hand over his mouth and gagged. Ansem leapt up from his chair, pulled Xehanort to his feet and began to rush him into the bathroom, but Xehanort managed to swallow his gag reflex and did not throw up.
"May I go back to bed now, Master Ansem?" he asked weakly.
"You may lay down, but the doctor is coming to check on you soon, so you have to stay awake for a little longer."
"I'm so tired."
"I know, but she'll be here soon, and then you can sleep." He walked him over to the couch and laid him down. "Just relax until she gets here, and then you may go to bed." He pulled an afghan off the back of the couch and covered Xehanort up with it. "I'm going back to the table, so just call me if you need me." Xehanort rubbed his eyes sleepily and nodded, and Ansem returned to the table. Even smiled as he sat down. "What?"
Even nodded towards Xehanort. "Look at him."
Ansem turned back around to see Xehanort curled up under the afghan, sleeping soundly, and he sighed in amused exasperation.
"He must be exhausted." Even said quietly "I wonder how long it's been since he's had a full night's rest?"
"I've no idea."
The three of them finished their meal in silence, and then Even and Ienzo departed for the night. A few minutes later, Sonora arrived, and she carefully checked Xehanort over and was pleased to hear that he had eaten. As soon as she was done, Xehanort nodded off, so Ansem carefully scooped him up and carried him into the bedroom to tuck him in. Xehanort didn't stir as the comforter was pulled up to his chin, and Ansem slipped out into the living room to see the doctor pulling something out of her bag. He frowned when he realized that it was Xehanort's restraints.
"Unless you're going to hold him while he sleeps again," she said before he could open his mouth. "Then you have to restrain him. We don't know if he's still suicidal or not, so they are a necessity for now."
Ansem shook his head. "I don't like it. I don't like tying him down like that, especially not after what happened in the infirmary earlier."
"I understand, but it's better than finding him dead by his own hand in the morning, am I correct?"
He couldn't help the shudder than ran through him then. "That is correct."
"Then he must be restrained when you are not with him."
Ansem sighed in defeat and took the restraints, and then doctor showed herself out. He walked into the bedroom and carefully turned Xehanort onto his back before he connected the thin chains to the bedposts. He then wrapped Xehanort's wrists in the cuffs before he smoothed out the comforter. Xehanort didn't stir, so Ansem kissed him lightly on the forehead and left the room to go sleep in the guest bed.
A frightened wail woke him in the middle of the night, and he sat up in bed and realized immediately that Xehanort was crying. No, not crying, Xehanort was wailing and sobbing, and he could hear the chains on his restraints clinking, like they were being pulled on. Fear constricted his heart – had Braig somehow gotten out of the dungeon? - and he leapt out of bed and ran into the other room.
There he found no sign of Braig, but Xehanort was lying in bed, wailing and struggling against his restraints. Blood was seeping out from under the cuffs, and he had kicked the blankets off as he thrashed about. His eyes were squeezed tightly shut, and tears were pouring down his face.
He rushed over to him and pulled the cuffs open. Xehanort's eyes flew open at the touch, and he reached out to him. Ansem gathered his son into his arms and held him as he cried.
"What is wrong, Xehanort?" he crooned "Why are you crying?" Xehanort only shook his head and cried. "Did you have a nightmare?" Another head shake. "Did are you in pain?" Another shake of the head. "Are you frightened?" This time, Xehanort nodded, and Ansem sighed; he could guess the reason for the fear. "Were you afraid because you were restrained and worried that someone would hurt you again while you were tied down?" Xehanort nodded again. "Oh Xehanort, why didn't you call out for me?" Xehanort didn't answer, and he protested when Ansem went to let go of him. "I need to turn the light on, Xehanort. You've managed to hurt yourself, and I need to check how badly."
Xehanort whimpered, but said nothing as Ansem stood up from the bed and flipped the light on. He then returned to the bed and gently took Xehanort by the hands. The boy's wrists were rubbed raw and covered in tiny spots of blood. Xehanort turned his head away. "Let's get this taken care of, hmmm?" He stood up from the bed and went into the bathroom. He had a few basic first aid supplies in the cabinet, and he gathered some ointment, bandages, and a damp cloth before he returned to Xehanort's side. He carefully cleaned the abrasions, before smearing on the ointment that would soothe the pain and chafing and carefully wrapping his wrists in the bandages. Xehanort was silent during the procedure, and he allowed himself to be laid down and tucked in without a word, but the second Ansem reached for the cuffs again, he scooted away out of reach, dark eyes wide, and shook his head frantically.
Ansem sighed; he could understand why he didn't wish to be tied down again. "Would you like me to stay with you again tonight?" he asked, to which Xehanort nodded eagerly. "Alright then. Scoot over."
Xehanort edged over, and Ansem laid down beside him, and he smiled slightly when Xehanort nestled close to him. "We can't keep doing this, you know. There are enough rumors swirling around about you as it is."
"Don't care." Xehanort mumbled as he closed his eyes. "Not alone anymore."
"That's right. I'm here with you." Ansem pulled the comforter over them and Xehanort nodded sleepily.
"Mmhmm, love you, Master Ansem."
"I love you as well, child. Go back to sleep."
In the morning, Even joined them for breakfast, and he mirrored Ansem's pleased smile when Xehanort ate half of what was on his plate. He also managed a few bites of shortcake.
"I scheduled a meeting with the servants for you." Even said as they ate "They will gather in their dining hall in the servants' wing at two o'clock."
Xehanort dropped his fork and gave Ansem an anxious look.
"It is all right, Xehanort." Ansem said soothingly as he reached out and lightly placed his hand on Xehanort's shoulder. "Even will stay in here with you while I am gone, and I'll come back as soon as I can."
"I want you to stay."
"I have to speak with the servants, Xehanort. I need to address the rumors that they're spinning about you, as well as how they treated you. They should not have ignored you." he added at Xehanort's confused look. "You are the heir of Radiant Garden, second in power to me. When they ignored you, they broke every oath they made to the royal family. I cannot let that slide."
"You didn't tell them to ignore me?"
"No, I did not. They did that on their own, and they will regret it."
Xehanort looked over at Even. "You won't leave me alone?"
"I won't." Even said firmly "I'll stay with you until Master Ansem comes back."
Xehanort looked down at his plate and nodded." Okay." he said in a tiny voice.
"I'll come back as soon as I can, Xehanort." Ansem said gently "I promise."
"May I go lie down now?"
"I'll walk you there." Even said as he stood up and carefully took him by the shoulders. He walked him into the bedroom, and Ansem could hear him getting into bed. He could also hear Even murmuring to him as he tucked him in. Ansem finished his meal and waited for Even to reappear, which he did after a few more minutes.
"Is he asleep?"
Even nodded and sighed heavily. "He is."
"He's just so fragile right now, and it's our fault."
"I wish there was more that I could do to help him."
"We are helping him, Even. I know that it doesn't seem like much, but we are."
Even nodded silently, and Ansem gave him a gentle smile. "Any more news to report?" he asked, changing the subject.
Even nodded again and took a deep, shuddering breath. "Braig's parents arrived earlier and demanded to see you."
Ansem winced; that was a conversation that he was not going to like. "What did they want?"
"It's reached the town that Braig is locked in the dungeon, and they demanded to know why. I held them off for now, stating that you would address the town later, because I wasn't sure what exactly you wanted to say about that situation. I am not looking forward to the explosion with that news is announced. Anyway, they demanded to know if he was going to get a trial or if he was just going to be left to rot without one."
"Oh, he's going to get one, though it will probably be a closed one. I don't think that Xehanort will handle a public trial well at all."
"I believe though, that a public trial is just what we need."
Ansem gave his Senior Apprentice a hard look. "Explain."
"You can address the people, and tell them what happened, but I don't think it will quell the rumors much, if at all. Braig's parents especially, will probably refuse to believe a word you say about him. I think a public trial, in which Braig confesses to everything, is the only way to get people to listen and change their minds about Xehanort."
"Xehanort's not going to like it."
"He may not have a choice. If he wants to wander freely through town again, it will have to happen. How do you expect him to rule once you are gone if everyone thinks him a whore?"
Ansem winced. "That is very true. We can worry about that later though. Xehanort needs time to start healing, and at some point, I'm going to have to get his side of the story from him."
"I recommend doing it as quick as possible. I'm certain that, even now, Braig's parents are ranting to everyone that will listen about their son's imprisonment."
"I will speak to Xehanort about it tonight then. I just hope he trusts me enough to tell me."
"I think he will. I imagine that he's been aching to tell his side for weeks now. Shall I arrange a time for you to address the people?"
"Schedule it for two days from now, in the afternoon. That should give me enough time to talk to Xehanort as well as give him time to regain a little strength."
"Do you intend to have him stand up there with you?"
"I am not sure. On one hand, seeing the state that he's in will do more to convince people than my words ever could, but on the other, I don't want to exhaust him, and the wrong word from someone in the crowd could possibly intensify his suicidal thoughts. While I am speaking, I will announce a trial date for Braig. That should hopefully calm his parents down."
"Alright." Even stood up. "I will return for lunch then?"
"Yes, see you then."
Once Even had shown himself out, Ansem walked quietly into the bedroom. Xehanort was sleeping soundly in the middle of the bed, so Ansem tiptoed over to the dresser and opened the top left drawer. Inside was a small box, which he carefully picked up and opened. Inside was a heavy, finely made signet ring with his family crest on it. It was an heir's ring, worn by the family heir until he or she assumed rulership of the world. Upon doing so, he or she would replace the heir's ring with the more ornate lord's ring. Ansem seldom wore the lord's ring because he found it a nuisance when working in the labs.
He carefully looked the ring over with the crest with the thorn crossed heart in the center, and his and Xehanort's family name – Hart – in the center. At one time the name had been spelled "Heart" but the "e" had been dropped several generations back. The ring was made of platinum with gold accents around the crest, and the light coming through the bedroom door shone off of its highly polished surface.
Why had he never given the ring to Xehanort? Even if Xehanort chose not to wear it, he should have at least had the ring in his possession. He sighed as he returned the ring to its box and slipped it into a pocket. Another item to add to the list of things that he should have done for Xehanort after the adoption.
"I need to start being a real parent to him." he said quietly to himself. "I treated him no different from any other apprentice. That is going to change."
"Master Ansem?" came a sleepy voice from the bed, and he looked over that way to see that Xehanort had raised his head from the pillow and was looking at him. "What's wrong?"
He smiled softly at him and walked up to him. "Nothing's wrong." he assured him as he coaxed him into lying back down. "I was just thinking."
"What were you thinking about?"
"Me? Am I... Are you... angry with me again?"
Ansem knelt down on the floor so he could look Xehanort in the eye. "No, no, I'm not angry. I was just thinking. There were many things that I never told you that I should have, that is all. You've done nothing wrong."
"What kind of things?"
"Go back to sleep. Finish your nap, and when you wake up, I'll explain everything."
Xehanort gave him a confused look. "Okay."
"I love you, Xehanort."
Xehanort's face lit up with a beautiful smile that warmed Ansem's heart to see. "I love you too."
"Get your rest. I'll be nearby if you need me."
Xehanort smiled again and closed his eyes, and Ansem stood and silently slipped out of the room, leaving the boy to his rest.
Xehanort napped for another hour, and once he was awake, he wandered into the living room, wearing a robe over his nightgown, and curled up on the couch next to Ansem.
"Feeling any better?" Ansem asked quietly as he put his right arm around Xehanort's shoulders.
"A little." Xehanort replied with a yawn, and after a moment he asked; "What did you want to tell me?"
"Here sit up." Ansem helped Xehanort sit up on the couch, and then he pulled the ring box out of his pocket. "This is yours. I should have given it to you after I adopted you, and I've no idea why I didn't."
Xehanort looked at the box with a curious expression. "What is it?"
"This," Ansem opened the box and smiled at Xehanort's gasp when he saw the ring. "is the heir's ring. It is worn by the heir to Radiant Garden and has been in our family for hundreds of years."
"The Harts have been ruling Radiant Garden for that long?"
"Yes, we have."
"How could the name have continued for so long? Can women rule?"
"They can. As a matter of fact your great-great-grandmother once sat on the throne, and when she married, her husband took her name instead of her taking his. That is how the name survives."
"You have a ring like this. I've seen you wearing it off and on."
"Yes, that is the lord's ring, and the ruling lord or lady wears it while they hold the throne. Once they step down or pass away, the ring passes to their heir, and the heir's ring passes down to their heir if they have one." He held out the heir's ring for Xehanort to take. "It's yours, Xehanort. Take it. You don't have to wear it if you don't want to for the most part. I find mine to get in the way most of the time, which is why you seldom see me wearing it, but there will be times, say during official functions and such, where you will have to have it on."
Xehanort carefully took the ring box, and he stared at the ring for a long moment. "It's mine?"
"You are my heir, so yes."
He plucked the ring from the box and set the box aside. "Do I have to wear it on a certain finger?"
"Whichever one you prefer except for your left ring finger.'
"Why not that one?"
"Because that is the finger that wedding rings are worn on."
"Oh, Alright then." He then slipped the ring on the ring finger of his right hand and laughed when it rolled over until the crest was facing down.
"I daresay that your hands are smaller than mine." Ansem said with a chuckle. "We can get it sized once you're feeling better."
Xehanort returned the ring to it's box and set it aside. "What else did you want to tell me?" he asked.
"There are many things I should have explained to you after the adoption." Ansem said quietly as Xehanort curled close to him again. "You have a great deal of power here in the castle, Xehanort."
Xehanort jumped and looked up at him. "What do you mean?"
"The only ones with any authority over you are myself and Even, and Even's authority only extends over our work in the lab. When we're not in the labs, you override him."
"Is that why Even never directly tells me to do anything outside of the lab?"
"Yes, he knows that he doesn't have any authority over you. He may ask you to do things, but -"
" - he never directly tells me."
"What does that all mean though?"
Ansem sighed. "Put simply, it means that when you told the servants to bring you meals, they should have done so. When you told Braig to leave you alone, he should have done so. They should have obeyed your orders. Disobeying you is a punishable offense. Attacking you – especially with the intent to do serious physical harm - is punishable by death."
Xehanort looked at him in confusion again. "What do you mean?"
"Xehanort," Ansem sighed heavily. "How many times did you tell Braig to leave you alone? How many times did you tell him not to touch you? How many times did he ignore you?"
Xehanort looked down at his lap. "I.. I don't know." he said in a tiny voice. "I didn't bother to count."
Ansem gently tipped his head up to look him in the eye. "No matter what you told him in the beginning, the instant he touched you after you had told him not to, he was committing rape. That in of itself is a serious crime, but committing it against the heir is even worse. He will have a trial, and if he's found guilty, he will be executed for what he's done to you."
"What! How? Why? I said he could, and I'm just a whore, and -!"
"Xehanort!" Ansem barked, cutting him off in mid sentence. "You are not a whore, and don't let me catch you calling yourself by that derogatory term again!"
Xehanort began to cry, which is precisely what Ansem had been hoping to avoid. "But, even you said I was! And you said I deserved what he did to me!"
Ansem pulled Xehanort closer and held him. "I was wrong, so very wrong. I never should have passed judgment on you without giving your a chance to explain. You are my son, and I should have put you ahead of everyone else, even Braig, and I failed to do that. I failed you, Xehanort. I should have kept you safe, but I didn't. I should have prevented people from saying such hateful things about you, but I didn't, and I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you if I have to."
"Why?" Xehanort asked through his tears.
"I can't answer that." Ansem felt his own eyes burn with tears. "I cannot give the answer you need, because I do not know myself why I acted the way I did. I can offer you no reason or excuse."
"Promise me that you won't hate me anymore."
"I never hated you, Xehanort."
Xehanort looked up at him. "You did!" he wailed. "You wouldn't speak to me unless it was to yell at me! You didn't want to be around me anymore! You didn't care that everyone was ignoring me! You said it was my fault and that I deserved it! Why, damn it, tell me why!"
Stunned by the sudden rant, Ansem said nothing, and Xehanort pulled himself away and turned his head. "You should have let me die." he said in a low tone. "You're only concerned now because I tried to kill myself, aren't you? If I hadn't attempted it, you still would be blaming me and pretending that I don't exist."
Ansem didn't try to refute it; he knew it was true. He reached out to Xehanort, intending to pull him back over, but the boy would have none of it. He stood up on legs that shook a little.
"I'm going back to my own rooms." he said with finality.
Ansem stood up himself. "Absolutely not." he said firmly. "You are not to be left on your own yet."
"I'm not going to kill myself, since we all know how well my last attempt worked."
"I do not care. You are to stay here until I say otherwise."
"Am I your prisoner now?"
"No," Ansem gently grasped Xehanort by the shoulders and turned him around so they were facing each other. "You are my son, and you are not well right now, so you cannot be left alone."
"Then I don't want to be your son!" Xehanort wailed as he shoved him away. "All it's gotten me is hurt!"
Xehanort dropped to the floor as his legs gave up from under him, and Ansem wiped at his own eyes as he knelt down beside him and gathered him into his arms. Xehanort tried half-heartedly to pull away, but Ansem wouldn't loosen his hold.
"It seems that lately all I've been doing is apologizing to you." he said quietly. "I can never make up for how badly I hurt you, Xehanort. All I can do is protect you and care for you while you heal and swear to never abandon you again." He touched his face to the scarf on Xehanort's head. "I love you, Xehanort."
"Do you really? Or are you just saying that to make yourself feel better?"
"I meant every word. I love you, and I'll keep saying it until you believe it." He rocked Xehanort for a few minutes. "Now how about we go back to the couch, hmmm? I'm much too old to be sitting on the floor, and the couch is more comfortable anyway."
Xehanort was quiet as Ansem stood and walked him back to the couch. He sat down and pulled Xehanort down beside him. Xehanort simply curled up next to him and said nothing, and after a few minutes, the boy fell asleep where he was. Ansem simply covered him with the afghan like he had previously and let him sleep.
Even arrived a few hours later, just before one in the afternoon, and he smiled when he saw Xehanort sleeping with his head on Ansem's lap.
"How did everything go?" he whispered as he leaned down to tuck the afghan around Xehanort's shoulders.
Ansem shook his head slightly. "Not well," he began, but a knock on the door interrupted him before he could say more.
Even straightened up. "That's probably lunch. I'll get it." He walked away to answer the door, and a second later a servant pushing a cart came in. She spared a glance at Xehanort, and Ansem glared at her in response, so she hurriedly laid out their meal on the table and departed quickly.
Once she was gone, and the door was closed behind her, Ansem gently shook Xehanort by the shoulder. "Xehanort," he called softly, "Lunch is here."
Xehanort mumbled something and burrowed down further under the afghan. "Not hungry."
"You still need to eat." Even said as he pulled the afghan away.
"Go 'way, Even. I'm tired. Master Ansem said you have to do as I say."
"You're right, he does." Ansem said as he stood up from the couch and pulled Xehanort up with him. "On the other hand, you have to do what I say, and right now I want you to eat something."
"No," Xehanort moaned as he was stood up. "I'm not hungry. Go away!"
"But you were doing so well," Even said as they walked him to the table and sat him down, "You ate earlier."
"I'm not hungry! I want to sleep!"
Ansem put a small portion of food on Xehanort's plate and set it down in front of him. "Just eat what is here, then I'll let you go back to bed while I go speak with the servants."
Xehanort shoved the plate away. "I don't want it!" he snarled. "I want you to leave me alone!"
"Xehanort!" Ansem snapped along with his patience. "What is wrong with you! Cease this tantrum this instant!"
Xehanort flinched away from him and turned to Even. Even sent Ansem a nasty look as he pulled Xehanort out of his chair and into his arms. "It's all right, Xehanort. I'm here." Even looked at him. "Why don't you go in the other room and calm yourself, Master Ansem. I'll handle things in here." It wasn't a request.
Ansem sighed, "Fine," and he walked out of the room and into his private library. As he closed the door behind him, he could hear Xehanort crying softly, and his heart broke.
What have I done?
He spent nearly an hour in his library, and it was the longest hour of his life. He could hear Even murmuring soothingly to Xehanort through the closed door and the sound of footsteps walking across the carpeted floor away from the table and towards the couch. He growled angrily for a second; what was Even doing? Xehanort needed to eat, not sleep, but the sound of Xehanort crying came through the door, and his anger died where it stood.
He paced about the library floor while he listened and thought about what he had done. Yet again, he had snapped at Xehanort at the worst possible time, and there was no way the know the damage he had done to their already damaged relationship.
At least, he told himself, Even was there for Xehanort to turn to for comfort, but it wasn't right.
"It should be me out there with him." he whispered to himself. "I should be the one holding him, instead it's Even doing it because I can't hold my tongue. What is wrong with me?"
When he walked back out into the main room, he found Even seated on the couch, with Xehanort sleeping under the afghan with his head resting on Even's lap. As he walked in, Even looked up from gently running his hand over the scarf on Xehanort's head.
"It's almost time for your meeting with the servants, Master Ansem," he said without preamble "Don't be late."
"Is Xehanort... all right?"
"As well as can be expected for someone in his state that had his head bitten off because he was too tired to feel hungry."
Ansem winced as the barb struck home. "He needs to eat, Even."
"He also needs his rest. I think we need to stop being so rigid about his meal times. Encourage him to eat when he's awake, but don't force him to. Now you need to get going before you're late for the meeting. If he wakes and he's hungry, I'll make sure he eats."
"You're going to be late."
Ansem sighed. "Very well, Even." He looked at Xehanort for a long moment before he walked out of the room, heading towards the servants' dining hall. As he went, he kept thinking of Xehanort, crying in Even's arms instead of his own.
He reached his destination in good time, and the murmuring of nearly a hundred voices reached him through the open doors as he approached. He spent a moment gathering himself before he walked through the doors and into the hall. The servants, along with the members of the castle guard that were lined up along one wall, continued their chatter as he walked in, though some he noted looked a bit nervous.
He walked up to a podium that had been set up for him and raised his hands for silence. The crowd gradually fell silent and looked at him expectantly, and he thought of Xehanort again, sleeping in Even's comforting arms instead of his own.
"How many of you," he began. "ignored Heir Xehanort's orders?"
He swore he heard them all blink in unison in the absolute silence that followed his question, and then they began to shift around uneasily and look at each other.
"How many?" he demanded. "How many of you allowed my son, your future lord, to starve because you couldn't be bothered to bring him meals when he asked you to! Answer me! How many!" There was no answer, only an uneasy muttering from the crowd. "If I have to find out myself, things will be worse. You all know the punishment for causing harm to a member of the royal family. Speak up and be honest with me now, and I will reduce your punishment. If I have to get names from Xehanort, I will double it. Now how many?"
There was more uneasy muttering, and then one woman raised her hand, the one that had brought them lunch earlier actually. "Lord Ansem," she said hesitantly. "I ignored him."
Ansem stared down at her. "Why?"
She looked down at the floor. "Because," she said, "Because he was just a whore -" Here Ansem growled angrily but said nothing "- and Your Lordship was angry with him as well, so..." She trailed off and shrugged.
"How many times did you ignore him?"
"Several, my lord."
"So," Ansem said with deathly calm, "because my son and I were having a disagreement, you thought it perfectly acceptable to force him to go without."
"Yes, my lord." the woman whispered.
Ansem straightened up and gestured to Dilan, and walked over to the woman and dragged her over to one side of the room.
"But my lord!" she protested. "You said you would lessen the punishment if we were honest!"
"And I am," he said "Heir Xehanort nearly died because of your actions, but because you were honest with me, you will spend years in the castle dungeon instead of being executed! Be grateful!" He turned to look at Dilan. "Keep her in here for now, Dilan. I want her and the others to hear everything."
Dilan nodded his head. "Yes, my lord."
Ansem swept his eyes over the crowd again. "Anyone else? Bear in mind, that if I have to get your names from Xehanort, it will be a dungeon stay, followed by an execution, so you will speak up now or regret it for the rest of you very short life!"
Long seconds of silence followed that pronouncement, and just when Ansem felt as though he was going to have to get names from Xehanort, another spoke up.
"I also ignored him, my lord." said one of the cooks. "I also barred him from the kitchen when he came looking for something to eat."
"And your reason for doing so?"
"The same, my lord."
"Because he was a whore and I was angry with him."
"Yes, my lord."
Aeleus grabbed the man by the arms and dragged him over to stand beside the woman. "Anyone else?"
More seconds ticked by, and then hands started going up. Ansem felt his blood pressure climb as he counted them: one, two, three, four, five, six, and on it went. When the hands stopped going up, in all there were twelve more of them, including one that was only a boy of eleven, the son of one of the maids. Ansem gestured the child forward, and learned that he was only doing as his father said. He sent the boy back to his mother and made a note to question his father later. Once the thirteen people were separated from the rest of the group, he moved onto the next topic.
"Two days ago," he began, his voice shaking with anger as he spoke "Heir Xehanort was violently attacked by Apprentice Braig whilst tied down to an infirmary bed. Many of you were witness to it, yet not one of you attempted to aid him. Not one of you tried to stop the attack. Xehanort was crying in pain and begging Braig to stop, but not one of you did anything to help him! Instead you ran off, telling anyone that would listen that Xehanort was whoring himself again! I want to know who saw it!" He looked over at the crowd. "Tell me now!" No one would meet his eyes. "You know who you are. You allowed my son to be raped while he cried for help! I want to know who saw it!" No one would answer him, so he turned to the members of the castle guard, who had come running at the sound of Xehanort's cries."Who did you see leaving that infirmary?"
The guards hesitated for a moment, and then they began to point out people and separate them from the crowd. Those accused began to protest their innocence.
"Enough!" Ansem barked, and the room fell silent. "If you are innocent of what you are accused of, we will find out at your trial! If you are guilty, you will get the punishment you so richly deserve!" He looked at Dilan and his fellow guardsmen. "Get them out of here. Make sure you separate them far enough apart that they can't talk to each other through the cell doors."
He watched as twenty-three people, people that had sworn oaths to protect and serve the royal family, were marched out of the room, and he felt his anger spike to new heights. Once the accused were gone, he turned to face the remaining eighty or so servants standing in front of him.
"Let me make myself very clear here." he said in a voice that made the people closest to him shiver. "The next person I hear spreading a rumor about Heir Xehanort, irregardless of whether it's true or not will deal with me. You have caused serious harm to Xehanort with your words, and it stops now. My son is not a whore, or a slut, or any of those other derogatory terms you were calling him. This is your final warning. If he gives you an order, unless that order would cause harm to himself or others, you are to do as he says. Anyone caught ignoring him again will be immediately dismissed, and you will be lucky to find a job cleaning storm drains in town. Am I in any way not understood?"
There was a general chorus of "No, my lord." and Ansem nodded sharply in satisfaction. "You are dismissed."
Ansem turned and walked quickly out of the room, but he didn't return to his rooms. Seeing the depths of the betrayal running through his own staff had angered him more than he could say, and he didn't dare return to Xehanort in such a state. The child had had enough of his anger. He walked out into the castle gardens and tried to calm himself down. His anger slowly bled away, but in its place rose something else.
He shook his head as tears began to track down his face. "Oh Xehanort, my boy, my baby, I'm so sorry." He wiped at his eyes and practically ran for the nearest door into the castle. He had to see Xehanort. He ran through the halls and up the stairs, not bothering with the lift stops, towards his rooms. He reached them in record time, and he was relieved when he stopped in front of the door to hear Xehanort's voice coming from the other side. He quietly eased the door open and peeked in to see Even seated on the couch, with Xehanort tucked under his arm. Xehanort's back was to the door, so he didn't know Ansem was standing there, but Even's eyes darted over to him for a second before focusing back on Xehanort. On a nearby table was an empty bowl and spoon showing that Xehanort had eaten something.
"I'm so confused, Even." Xehanort whimpered, and Ansem knew immediately from the sound of his voice that he had been crying. "I want him to not hate me anymore, but he's still so angry at me. What if he decides that I'm just a whore after all and says he doesn't want me anymore?"
"I assure you that he's not going to do that, Xehanort." Even replied gently as he wiped Xehanort's tears away with a handkerchief.
"But what if he does?"
"Then I will take care of you."
Even nodded. "I will, but I promise you that Master Ansem is not going to turn on you again."
"I want to believe you. I want him to love me again, but after what he did... I don't know."
"You're angry at him because of how he treated you."
"Yes," Xehanort said in a tiny voice. "He's only sorry because I nearly died. If I hadn't tried to kill myself, he still wouldn't care."
Even didn't try to deny it; he also knew that it was true. "He loves you, Xehanort, and he's so very sorry for what he did."
"He hurt me, Even!" Xehanort began to cry again. "He didn't even believe me about Braig until he caught us in the infirmary! I thought parents were supposed to love their children! Not tell them that everything is their fault!"
Ansem couldn't keep silent any longer. He ran into the room and knelt down in front of Xehanort. "Oh my boy," He carefully scooped Xehanort out of Even's arms and into his own and felt Xehanort's arms come around his neck and hold on. "It's not your fault. You did nothing wrong. I love you, I love you, I love you more than I love life itself, and I am never going to throw you away or say that I don't want you. Do you understand me, child? You are my son, my boy, even though you were not born to me. I chose you, which makes you so special. You are precious to me, and I can never express just how horrible I feel knowing that I made you think that death was better than life."
Xehanort raised his head and looked at him. "Why are you crying?"
"Because you are hurting, because I hurt you and allowed others to do the same. I failed you as a parent, and it is something that I will regret for the rest of my life."
"You really want me?" Xehanort asked through his own tears.
"I do, Xehanort, I do."
Xehanort laid his head down. "I love you too. Promise that you won't hate me anymore?"
"I promise, Xehanort, I promise. I may get angry sometimes, but I'm not angry at you, and I will try my hardest not to take it out on you. I'm sorry that I snapped at your earlier, and I swear that I'll be a real father to you from now on." He held Xehanort tighter. "I love you."
Xehanort didn't reply, he only cried as Ansem held him, and Ansem barely noticed when Even slipped out of the room, leaving the two of them alone. As before after a while he moved them back to the couch, and Xehanort fell asleep in his arms. He draped the afghan over him and watched his precious child sleep as thoughts swirled around in his mind.
He still needed to get Xehanort's side of what happened with Braig from him, but after the way he had been treating the boy recently, he worried that Xehanort wouldn't trust him enough to tell him. And he needed both sides of the story before progressing with a trial for Braig.
Of course, he could toss Braig away and throw away the key easily due to his attack on Xehanort while the latter was in the infirmary. Ansem had heard with his own ears Xehanort's pleas for Braig to stop, as well as Braig's refusal to do so, so that was more than enough to have him executed for harming the heir. But... any trial for harm caused to Xehanort would surely cause their past encounters to be brought up. Braig could simply claim that Xehanort had a rape fetish or something similar and that he always refused when he really didn't mean it. He sighed; he needed the full story, from Xehanort and from Braig.
Xehanort only napped for about fifteen minutes, and when he sat up, rubbing his eyes sleepily, Ansem gave him a moment to get his bearings and wake up, and then he asked the dreaded question.
"Can you tell me what happened exactly between you and Braig?" He asked the question in the gentlest told he could use, but Xehanort still jumped and looked at him like a rabbit in a hunter's sights for a moment. He swallowed heavily and looked down at the couch cushions, trembling. "Xehanort?"
"I don't want you to yell at me again." Xehanort whispered, and Ansem winced as guilt filled his heart. He reached out and tugged Xehanort over to him so he could wrap the boy in his arms.
"I'm not going to yell." he said gently. "I just need to know."
Xehanort laid his head down on Ansem's shoulder and was quiet for a few minutes, and then he began to speak.
"Braig... Braig sometimes acted as though he knew who I was."
"Yes. He called me 'Mr. Master' sometimes, and once he asked me if I was Terra. He didn't say who Terra was though." He closed his eyes and shivered.
Ansem rocked him slightly. "What else did he say?" Dear lords, if Braig knew Xehanort but never told him, then...
"He asked me if the amnesia was a sick joke and said that he had my back. I asked him if he knew me, and he always said no, but I kept asking. I thought that he had to have known who I was since he acted so familiar with me. One day, he lost his temper and hit me. He then said that he would tell me if I paid the price."
"Did he say what the price was?"
"Not right then."
"Then what happened?"
"I nodded in agreement, and he took me down to the lower areas of the castle and into an empty room. He pushed my pants down, shoved me down onto my hands and knees, unsnapped his pants, and knelt behind me. He told me that this was the price and asked if I was prepared to pay it."
Ansem felt a sick feeling coiling in his gut. "Please, Xehanort, please tell me that you didn't say yes."
Xehanort whimpered, though Ansem wasn't sure if it was due to the trauma of the event he was relating of if he felt that Ansem was angry at him for agreeing. "I did." he whispered. "He stuffed a rag in my mouth," A sob slipped out. "grabbed me by the hips, and..." Xehanort began to cry, and Ansem closed his eyes and tightened his arms around the boy. "It hurt so much, but he wouldn't stop."
Ansem took a deep breath to steady himself. "Did you at any time tell him to stop."
"I don't think so. I think I just screamed."
Ansem winced at that. "Did you at any point try to get away?"
"Yes, right after he... entered me. He had me by the hips and wouldn't let go, and he said that it was the price and that there was no backing out now." Xehanort gave into the tears then, and Ansem held him and rocked him and tried not to imagine the scene that had just been described to him. Still though, he was somewhat relieved. Braig's refusal to let Xehanort crawl away even though the boy was screaming in pain changed everything and tilted things in favor of Xehanort.
He waited until Xehanort's sobbing had quieted. "What happened after that? Did he try to help you after he was done?"
"No, he just left me there. I think I managed to clean up and get back to my rooms, but I'm not sure. It's.. hard to think straight when you're in so much pain. It hurt to walk and sit down for a while."
"Yes, I remember that. You walked very slowly for a week or so, and you were very careful about sitting down."
"Yes," Xehanort whimpered, and Ansem felt guilt fill his heart again. He should have known then that something was wrong. He had questioned Xehanort about it, but the questions had always been brushed off. He should have hauled the boy in his office and demanded answers. He should have done something!
Xehanort continued his tale, so Ansem shoved his self incriminating thoughts aside. He would have plenty of time for them later. "A week later, he told me that I had been a master swordsman."
"That was all he said?"
"At the time."
"He approached me again another week after that when I was alone in the lab. He said he wouldn't be so rough and that I might even enjoy it."
"And you agreed."
" I needed to know, Master Ansem! I had to let him do it! I was tired of not knowing who I am!"
Ansem gently tilted Xehanort's head back and wiped his tears away with a handkerchief. "Oh child, why didn't you come to me? I could have talked to Braig about your suspicions and spared you so much pain. Why didn't you trust me?"
Xehanort looked down and said nothing, and Ansem realized immediately what the problem was. Xehanort simply hadn't known any better. With no memories to draw on about how a family should work, it likely never occurred to him to bring Braig's actions to a parent's attention. What's more, he was surrounded by people whose parents were either dead – Ansem himself, Aeleus, and Ienzo – or not trusted and ignored – Even, Dilan, and Braig. Xehanort simply had no idea what to do with the information that he had been given.
"Did he tell you anything after it was done?" he asked.
"He told me that my family was gone."
"What all did he tell you?"
Xehanort laid his head back down. "He said that my homeworld was destroyed, that I had no friends, only enemies that wanted me dead -"
That would explain the severity of Xehanort's injuries upon his rescue, Ansem thought.
"- had an apprentice of my own, but that he... died."
"You had an apprentice? Did he saw for what?"
"No," Xehanort's voice was so soft that Ansem could barely hear him. "He wouldn't tell me how he died or what his name was." There was a sniffle. "He also said that I... that I... was a... murderer, that had killed my own brother in my quest to gain power from some kind of hearts."
"He wasn't clear on that."
"Did he tell you other things?"
"A few more, but then he stopped."
"Did he stop approaching you after that?"
"No, he just stopped telling me things."
"So he quit holding up his end of the agreement?"
Xehanort nodded slightly. "That's when I started trying to refuse him, but he wouldn't listen. He would just... push me down on the nearest piece of furniture and do what he wanted anyway. If I tried to push him off or get away, he punished me by making it hurt worse." Xehanort shivered. "He said I was his to use however he wanted. He didn't care where I was or what I was doing. If he found me alone, he would take me. He also told me that it wouldn't matter if I told anyone; since I had agreed to let him touch me, then I was the one in the wrong and that no one would care."
Ansem blinked his own tears away as Xehanort cried on his shoulder. He should have known. He should have known that something was wrong. He should have realized that Xehanort was being hurt. He should have done something to protect his child.
But wait, he thought, he had realized eventually that something was wrong, and he had asked Xehanort about it.
"When I asked you if everything was alright," he said quietly. "why didn't you tell me then?"
"I almost did," Xehanort sobbed. "but Braig was in the room, and he was glaring at me, and I knew that if I told you, he would hurt me much worse than he ever had before. And then later, he told the others about a woman that had slept around and then cried rape when she was found out."
Ansem felt his heart sink; he had heard about that woman, and he had a feeling where Xehanort was going with it. And he was right.
"Everyone jeered at the story, called her a whore, and said she had gotten what she deserved, and Braig looked at me with a clear warning."
"Which was?" Ansem prompted gently.
"That no one would care if I said anything."
Ansem winced. "What happened after that?"
Xehanort's voice went quiet again. "He came to me that night when I was in my rooms, and he said he had to punish me for nearly telling. That was the night you found us."
"I assume that he kept coming to you after I... " Rejected you, hurt you, said that you deserved it. "refused to listen to you in the infirmary?"
"Yes. Sometimes he would beat me too. He liked using his belt on me. He said it was just to ensure that I never told anyone."
Using violence and threats to coerce his victim into keeping silent was another mark against Braig, Ansem thought as Xehanort closed his eyes, worn out by the tale that he had just told.
"How did we not hear you? Did you cry or scream during any of this?"
Xehanort didn't open his eyes. "He either did it someplace where we were alone, or he gagged me or made me hide my face in a pillow."
Ansem squeezed his eyes shut and held Xehanort tight. He could just imagine Xehanort lying face down on his bed, his face buried in his pillow, his muffled screams sounding in the room as Braig whipped his back bloody with a belt. He realized then the source of the welts and scar tissue that Sonora had found, and he shivered.
Xehanort fell asleep in his arms a few minutes later, and Ansem stayed where he was until dinner time, holding Xehanort while he slept and trying to ignore the images of Xehanort in pain that kept flashing through his mind.
Part 1 -- Part 3
Back to the Main Archive