Zexion takes his class notes in dark blue ink, a particular shade from which he refuses to deviate, even after the stationary store that sold his favourite pens closed down. Now he goes on a three-hour road trip every time he needs a new pen, and he makes Demyx drive.
In these notes, Zexion’s penmanship is elegant, his strokes angled and curved in exactly the correct places, the size and spacing of each letter perfectly consistent. It’s written with mechanical precision, and when Demyx reads it, its music is flawless but cold, with unvarying tempo and volume.
It unnerved Demyx in the beginning. Back then, he didn’t know Zexion very well; he begged a look at the class nerd’s biology notes and at first glance thought he was looking at a printed page typed with the most beautiful custom font he’d ever seen. But no—there was no way this pristine, college-ruled spiral notebook had gone through a printer. And the letters somehow seemed to match the sharp, severe features and slate-coloured hair of their writer.
The perfect script left Demyx feeling haunted all day, and then the next day too, and then the next week. He started asking to see Zexion’s notes in every class they shared, and every time Zexion would frown severely, but pass over the notebook without comment. Demyx’s eyes raked over the graceful words more and more fervently with every passing day, never taking in the meaning behind them.
Finally, feeling like a total creeper, he sidled up to a friend of his in the computer sciences’ department and asked, shifty-eyed, whether or not it was possible to create a custom font out of someone’s handwriting. You know. Just someone. No one in particular.
Xigbar, the friend in question, flashed his most condescending smirk and casually leaned back against the computer lab’s No Smoking sign, pausing to flick a piece of ash in the vague direction of the garbage can as he exhaled in a swirling grey cloud. Demyx winced slightly, then returned to trying to look as adorable as possible.
“I could do it. Wouldn’t be exact, of course—real writing is filled with all sorts of errors and inconsistencies and things. But I could do an, uh, approximation. As long as I have a sample of the handwriting.” He exhaled again, and Demyx fought the urge to sneeze.
“Uh, yeah, right,” said Demyx, smiling as brightly as he could. “I can get that for you. So, uh… What’s your, you know, price?”
Xigbar’s only response was another smirk.
“…Demyx? What are you doing?”
“Why are you wearing a—“
Demyx sighed, readjusted his really heavy sign, and, as he spotted another approaching person rounding the corner of the hallway, began to repeat his assigned jingles.
“We are cool, awesome, brilliant, neat,
Join Computer Club this very week.”
Who even came up with these dumb things? This whole trial wouldn’t be nearly as bad if that douchebag Xigbar would just let Demyx come up with his own jingles. He’d give it a melody, too. Maybe some accompaniment. Ooooh he could play his sitar! Maybe add in some percussion, too. Mmmyeah. Just like that.
Out of the corner of his eye, Demyx saw Xigbar look up from his comfy setup at a desk stacked with fliers and pamplets to scowl. Demyx sighed again, and went on in a resigned tone.
“Wanna have fun out of the cold?
Computer Club is the way to go!”
“Demyx,” said Axel, lounging somewhere nearby, “you do realise that it’s May, don’t you? The computer lab is ten degrees colder than the outside temperature.”
“Shaddup.” He opened his mouth to start another ridiculous jingle, then snapped it shut again when he saw just who it was that was standing in front of Xigbar’s desk, leafing through a pamphlet.
Demyx desperately tried to tug on his costume, hoping to straighten it or do anything to make himself look even vaguely dignified.
He held his frozen pose until Zexion muttered a few short words to Xigbar and walked off, pamphlet in hand. Then, the moment Zexion was out of sight, he launched himself at Xigbar, shaking him wildly, demanding to know why he hadn’t been told that Zexion was in the Computer Club.
Xigbar just stared at him blankly and asked, “Who?”
There were a few seconds of awkward silence before Demyx wordlessly climbed off of Xigbar and began to once again quote his awful jingles.
Stretch the arms up and slowly bring them down, like so. Allow the left hand to swing idly in the space between the tattered backpack and the sleek leather book bag. In position? Good, good. This was a delicate procedure, after all.
Zexion turned away, leaning over to explain something to his other neighbour, and Demyx immediately used the opportunity to slip his fingers into Zexion’s bag. Zexion’s biology notebook was open on the desk in front of him, but he had at least two other classes today, so surely he had another notebook somewhere in—score! Demyx stealthily removed a black notebook--not a spiral like the others, but some kind of composition notebook. Whatever. He slipped it into his own backpack and then returned to staring at his textbook, trying not to panic. Had he been seen? Would Zexion notice it was missing? If so, his new life expectancy wouldn’t outlast the next few minutes.
Deep breaths. If someone had seen, they’d have already made a fuss. If Zexion even noticed it was missing, he’d probably just think he’d forgotten it, and after Demyx photocopied a sample of the notebook and slipped it back into Zexion’s bag during their shared afternoon class, he’d just think that he’d missed it somehow. It’d all be okay. Nothing to panic over.
“How are you doing?” came a quiet voice. Demyx turned toward Zexion, trying not to look like he was hyperventilating. Based on Zexion’s slightly concerned expression, he doubted that he was succeeding.
“Oh, you know,” he choked out. “Pretty normal.”
Zexion raised a single, elegant eyebrow, which Demyx couldn’t help but notice was as perfectly shaped as his letters. “Is that so. Because, generally, by this point in class, you’d have dozed off twice and asked to borrow my notes three times. Forgive me for observing that your current behaviour does not seem to be exactly in tune with your norm.”
Demyx turned bright red and managed a nervous laugh. He was still trying to form some sort of intelligible speech when Zexion took pity on him and began to explain the lesson in full, pointing out applicable sections of the textbook from time to time. Demyx slowly calmed down as he listened. Zexion’s voice was precise and clearly enunciated, reminding Demyx of Zexion’s penmanship, though the former wasn’t nearly so toneless. No, Zexion’s voice was filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, and tinged with amusement whenever some part of the lesson brought to mind one of his dry academic jokes. It was lovely and melodious, and Demyx found himself trying to transcribe it into musical notation.
“Do you understand now?”
Hmmm… Smooth legato, rising and then falling, but ending on an outlying high note.
He blinked, focusing on Zexion’s face. The skin above the sharp nose was wrinkled into a frown, and the corners of his mouth were turned down. Still, the single bright blue eye that was visible around the curtain of hair still looked amused, so Demyx figured that he wasn’t about to die. Nevertheless, he put on his cutest expression.
Zexion’s frown softened slightly, and his lips twitched. Finally, he gave an exaggerated sigh and began to explain again from the beginning—now, he stopped frequently to make sure that Demyx was paying attention. This time, Demyx listened to the words closely, trying to follow along with the topic, but Zexion’s tones still sang in the back of his mind, weaving together a symphony.
At the end of the lesson, Demyx threw all of his supplies into his backpack, desperate to get out of the room before Zexion looked into his book bag and noticed the missing notebook.
He was standing up and shouldering his bag when Zexion looked up hesitantly and said, “I guess I’ll see you in Computer Club, then.”
Demyx, his mind blank with terror—was this some sort of code? Did Zexion know? Crapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrap—only replied with, “What? I’m not in Computer Club,” before dashing out the door.
Demyx stood in the library by the photocopiers, staring down at the black composition notebook in his hands at first in horror, then confusion, and then fascination.
The writing inside bore little resemblance to Zexion’s other notebooks; the penmanship was definitely still Zexion’s, but it revealed a side of him that Demyx had never seen before.
This script did not look as though it had been typewritten. This script was not even legible. The writing was still elegant, still angled and curved in the same manner that he’d long since become accustomed to, but the lettering was compressed here, tall here, stretched there, short there. Here it was written diagonally, here vertically, here upside down. The page was crisscrossed with arrows in every direction, so that Demyx had no clue what line was connected to what, or even where one line ended and another began. This section was underlined, that was circled, that was written in all-caps. Beyond a basic comparability in the shape of the letters, the only similarity between the writing in this notebook and the others was that it was all written in the same shade of blue ink.
It was the most beautiful thing Demyx had ever seen.
He flipped through the book, feeling his knees weaken. Despite the scribbled equations littering the pages, he felt as though he were staring at something immensely private, and at once he resolved to never, ever show this notebook or any section of it to Xigbar. To anyone. He slid to the ground, completely consumed by the script, leaning back against the photocopier and drawing his legs up in front of him, cradling the notebook in his hands as he let his eyes skim over the illegible text.
After a while, he relocated to a table, settling down with the black composition notebook to one side and one of his own music notebooks in front of him, and began to transcribe the music he heard ringing between his ears whenever he looked at the beautiful blue script.
Demyx jumped back, knocking over his chair and falling with it in a loud clunk. Zexion was standing beside the table, just to the right of where the chair had stood just moments before, and was frowning at the two books laid out there.
Demyx groaned, miserable in the fact that he hadn’t thought to grab the other man’s notebook as he’d made his suicidal fall.
“…Isn’t this notebook mine?”
Demyx rolled over and curled up into fetal position, still lying on the upturned chair. He drew his t-shirt up over his face and tried to hide in it.
“What’s this other notebook? What were you doing?”
Just remember, he thought, if you can’t see him, he can’t see you.
Of course Zexion would be immune to these things. He’d probably never played make-believe in his life.
“…was writing music.”
“Using my notebook?” Zexion’s sarcasm was not pleasantly dry the way it usually was. Now it was cold and harsh.
Demyx didn’t like this song.
“’es,” he said.
At that moment, Demyx’s dam, weak and littered with holes and graffiti at the best of times, shattered. His whole story came pouring out in a twisted ramble, and Zexion listened closely until, finally, he interjected with, “You’ve said that my handwriting is beautiful five times now, Demyx. As pleasing as it is to hear that, I’m still not sure why that means that you needed to steal my notebook.”
And so the story continued in an increasingly incomprehensible manner. By the time that Demyx had confessed to loving Zexion’s penmanship another four times, Zexion simply rolled his eyes, ended the rant with an elegant flap of his hand, and gave a long lecture on why it was wrong to take other people’s possessions without expressed permission.
The lecture ended in a nearby ice cream parlor, where Zexion demanded that Demyx sing the melody of his notebook-inspired piece.
As they walked back to campus, Zexion said, very softly, “I made them that way for you.”
Demyx looked up from the cement sidewalk, startled from his internal debate as to whether or not it would be okay to hold Zexion’s hand. This had sort of been a date, right? “What?”
Zexion cleared his throat awkwardly, shoving his hands into his pockets. Damn. “The notebooks. I wrote them that way for you. I’d…hoped that you’d ask to see them, and I wanted them to be perfect. To… impress you.”
“…Oh,” was his only response.
Zexion’s face fell slightly, and he nodded once, as though they’d come to some sort of agreement. Demyx cast his mind back over the past few minutes, trying to figure out what that might have been. Ah!
“Does that,” he asked, face brightening, “mean I get to hold your hand?”