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Rival CEOs

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If there is one thing you dislike more than elongated meetings, it was company parties.

They were a serious hassle. People from the media were everywhere, one had to make themselves unnaturally fancy, stand around and chat with people you sometimes don’t even know, or worse, don’t like at all.

Just like you have to do right now.

You, the CEO of LightLabel, were right next to Xemnas, the CEO of Nothingness, a music label just like yours. The both of you had countless groups, bands and solo-artists under contract, but each of you had one band which outshined all the others in terms of popularity and success. Xemnas’ was called Organization XIII, while yours was called The Witch’s Keyblade Wielders. And because there was an astounding demand for it, your Labels collaborated and just launched an album filled with Songs by both bands created together.

Which is why you’re at this party now, and why you’re standing next to Xemnas.

Even though it was an open secret that the both of you didn’t get along all too well, you still had to be seen together for the public. After all, if the CEOs of the labels wouldn’t even talk with each other, what will it say about your respective label? Giving the image of being non-cooperative or, even worse, being rude was not acceptable for either of you. So, you have to just endure it and have at least one conversation longer than three minutes with Xemnas.

Of course, no one said the both of you had to speak nicely to each other. Reporters and other people from the media knew better than to approach either of you without having an appointment, so you were relatively free to say whatever you want, as long as you kept a friendly face on.

“Seems like someone was stingy again and told it’s artists to go shopping at Hot Topic, hm?” You take a sip from the flute of champagne you’re holding while eyeing several members of Organization XIII, who with their all black clothing and spikes reminded you of your younger sibling when they had their emo phase.

“At least they don’t like a group of goodie-two-shoes.” Xemnas shoots back, taking a sip of his drink as well. “By the way, how are you treating your teenage artists? They seem to work just as much as the adults, even if they are too young yet.”

“Don’t worry your pretty head about that, I take care of them. They get enough breaks, I even force them to take some. Oh, how are you dealing with the criticism that one sub-group reminds many fans of an adult man grooming two teenagers? I hope you didn’t take too much of a hit from that.” Your voice is laced with so much sarcasm you wouldn’t be surprised if it started dripping down on you, but despite your harsh words, you smile up to Xemnas as if you’ve just told him something nice.

Xemnas returns the smile, pretending to accept whatever ‘nice thing’ you just said to him. “I’m not concerned about that. If one has functioning eyes, they can see that there is no such things happening or being portrayed in the music. It will die down soon enough. You, however, should be careful, since in one of your sub-groups two adults seem to be grooming one teenager.” Xemnas gives you a cocky smile, knowing he paid you back the same way you hit him first.

You let out a laugh, pretending as if Xemnas had said something funny just now. “Oh, poor you! Everyone already knows that it’s not a grooming-situation. It’s a mother-friend and father-friend type of situation, and the fans are loving it.

This banter goes on for another minute, and it’s starting to irritate you.

Luckily your phone, hidden within a pocket, starts to vibrate softly, giving you the perfect opportunity to excuse yourself for a few minutes from this party.

You take your glass with you – after all, can’t trust anyone when you’re a CEO – and walk down a few hallways until you are in a small office room where you’ll be able to have a private conversation.

Taking out your phone, you’re surprised to see your parents calling you. It immediately worries you, since you’ve told them you’d be at the launch party tonight. They knew you’re busy, and only would call if something was extremely important.

You answer the call, and the first thing that you can hear is crying. More specifically, your father’s crying. Naturally, you try your best to calm him down by guiding him through a few breathing exercises.

When your father has finally calmed down enough for you to understand what he is saying, he informs you that earlier today, your mother has passed away.

Naturally, it shocked you, so your brain switched to autopilot. You went with your father through the usual questions, asking him whether he needed help to plan the funeral, when the funeral should be, if your siblings already knew, et cetera. After you went through these questions, you answered the call pretty quickly since your control slowly way slipping away from you.

As you’re putting your phone back into your hidden pocket, the first tears start to spill down.

Your mother, your friend, the person who always believed you could take over the world if you wanted to, is now dead.

A soft whimper escapes your lips, and you would’ve sobbed openly if the door behind you hadn’t just opened.

You immediately stiffen up and waited for a few seconds, hoping the person behind you would recognize you and leave again. But instead, they just stood there in the doorframe, apparently waiting for you to say something. So, you clear your throat to smooth your voice out as good as possible.

“Excuse me, but I am not feeling too well at the moment. Please return to the party once again and leave me alone.” You know your words are harsh, but you don’t have the nerve to deal with an employee who is so shocked to see you they just freeze up. A minute alone, and you would collect yourself and get back to the party. Just a minute, and you’d be able to lock these feelings inside you until you could deal with them later that on.

“What information did you receive to make you feel unwell?”

You immediately recognize the voice. Xemnas. Apparently, he had followed you when you left and probably heard you crying from outside the room.

Letting out a sigh, you wipe the tears away from your cheeks, a bit relieved when you don’t see any make-up on your fingers. It was annoying enough you had to wear make-up to look good on the pictures, so you didn’t want to ruin it.

“Leave, Xemnas. I’m not going to repeat myself.” You still keep your back turned towards Xemnas, but your voice sounds a bit softer now, hoping it would be enough to convince him to go back to the party.

Of course, that wasn’t the case. This is Xemnas after all.

“Not until you tell me what troubles you.”

You brush your hair, which had fallen into your face, angrily to the side. If Xemnas wants to be different, then so be it.

“If you won’t leave, I will. Don’t follow me again.”

As you’re stomping past Xemnas, he grabs your arm, stopping you. He doesn’t force you against himself, but he holds on tight enough for you to know you wouldn’t be able to just shake him off.

“Drop down your mask. I made sure security would allow no one to follow us. We are alone.”

As his words and the meaning behind them register in your brain, your shoulders start to drop down and your body slowly relaxes. With a weak shove, you push the door closed behind Xemnas. You can feel his gaze on you, and even though you don’t – can’t – look up, you know he’s worried about you. Years of climbing the ladder have hardened the both of you enough to not cry easily in an unsafe place, so of course he worries.

“My father called me. Earlier today, my mother passed away.” Your voice is quiet, as if saying it loudly would only hurt you more. And maybe it really would. Saying your mother passed away only makes it more real, even if you don’t want it to be.

Xemnas pulled you carefully towards him, and after only a second of resistance, you wrapped your arms around his middle and hugged him, looking for comfort. It only lasts for a second though, as you remember where you are. You can’t get Xemnas’ shirt or suit jacket dirty, it would only start rumors. So, you want to distance yourself again, but Xemnas doesn’t let you.

“Xemnas, my tears will ruin your shirt and your jacket!”

“Hush. I have a spare here. And even if I didn’t, you matter more to me.”

With his reassurance you hide your face in his chest once again, and allow yourself to finally cry. All the missed opportunities – oh goodness, your mother wanted you to come visit them two months ago, and you declined because of work – flash through your mind, tormenting you and making you feel guilty, while all your memories of her unconditional love and encouragement make the tears only fall faster.

Xemnas holds you tight, giving you a sense of safety and grounding you in reality. He sympathizes with you, since he too already lost his mother. The loss of a loving parent, which he knows your mother is – was – is terrible. All he can do at the moment is be there for you and support you in whatever way possible.

After roughly ten minutes, you start to calm down and your tears start to dry out. It takes another five minutes for you to calm down completely, and only then Xemnas dares to release you.

You, groggy and exhausted, try your best to fan cool air towards your eyes to help with the swelling, since you know you both can’t stay missing for any longer. People are most likely already suspicious and starting rumors, which is something you absolutely have no tolerance for right now.

“Thank you, Xemnas.” Your voice is scratchy and weak, but at the very least it’s there. Xemnas gently wipes the tears away from your cheeks, his facial expression soft.

“Of course, my dearest. Everything for you.”

The both of you stand there in silence for a minute, just looking at each other, until you break the silence.

“I’ll need to take two weeks off and travel home to help my father and prepare for the funeral.” You state flatly, but Xemnas knows what you mean with that statement. The both of you just launched something rather grand together, so leaving the company for two weeks is almost impossible as the CEO. Yes, you both had your boards of directors and whatnot, but final decisions were still yours to take. Taking a leave at this moment could lead to chaos, especially since both you and Xemnas knew that some people on Nothingness’ Board of Directors were eager to push LightLabel out of the market.

The only way to avoid something like that would be for Xemnas to take off for two weeks as well.

“I’ll accompany you.” Xemnas states, consciously not phrasing it like an offer or a question, since his mind is already made up about it.

You take a breath to argue with him, but drop it again, since you’re too tried to do so. Besides, Xemnas’ idea isn’t all that bad. You’re sure you will need him during those two weeks.

For the next few minutes, Xemnas and you discuss everything about the trip you’ll take, and eventually agree on giving all of your artists a vacation for the two weeks you’ll be gone. That way, nothing can go all too bad.

After that, you return to the party separately, and stay there for the rest of its duration. Once the both of you are in your respective apartments, Xemnas video-calls you and talks to you until the both of you fall asleep.

Three days later, everything is already set and booked. Even though your board of directors is angry with you for just taking decisions without informing them early enough, they accept your reason and let you off the hook. The artists are informed as well, and while many of them are ecstatic, some are a bit downtrodden since they just got ideas for new songs.

On the day of your departure, you gathered all of the artists down in the lobby to bid them good-bye. You look at each of them and give them a smile. “Now, please enjoy your vacation for the next two weeks, all right? You all worked so incredibly hard these past months and deserve the breather.”

“Of course we will!” Sora, optimistic and energetic as always answers you, and you can’t help but chuckle. You then bid each artist good-bye and left through the grand glass entrance, walking towards the limousine which was waiting for you and Xemnas. Your artists are watching you through the wall high windows.

Seeing as Xemnas isn’t there yet, you lean against the limousine and sigh.

A moment later, Xemnas exits out of the building next to the headquarters of LightLabel, which is the headquarters of Nothingness, and walks up to you, stopping roughly one step away from you.

“There you are. Just like me you couldn’t leave without saying good-bye to them, huh?” You give him a tired smile, which Xemnas returns. The both of you haven’t slept all too great lately, and it’s starting to show. “Indeed. Even though they test my patience more often than not, I have grown fond of them.” “It’s the same for me.” The both of you stay silent for a second, aware artists from both labels are watching the both of you, probably confused. Xemnas watches you carefully, aware that something seems to be on your mind, since you would just get into the limousine otherwise.

“Xemnas?”

“Yes?”

“I’m tired of hiding us anymore, so, may I kiss you even though they all can see us?” You look up to Xemnas, an unsure but lopsided smile on your face. He studies your features carefully, thinking about the consequences your wish might have.

But seeing as he wanted to make your relationship public since almost a month, he wasn’t too against your request.

With a gentle smile, Xemnas said “Yes, dearest, you may.”

You wasted no time and took the closing step towards him, now feeling a bit more energetic. But instead of standing on your toes like you usually need to whenever kissing Xemnas, you grab him by his tie and pull him down low enough so you can wrap your arm around his neck and kiss him.

The kiss is short, but incredibly sweet, like every time when you kiss Xemnas.

As you let go of his tie and smooth it down, you can’t help but laugh. It feels relieving to come clean about your relationship with Xemnas, feels good to not hide it anymore.

Xemnas, feeling the same relief, laughs with you and, after you smoothed his tie down enough, opens the door to the limousine for you. You get inside, and Xemnas follows swiftly.

A moment after that, the both of you are off, heading towards the airport.

 

Bonus: Seeing the last scene in different perspective!

In the Lobby of Nothingness Label Headquarter:

“Yo, why is the LightLabel boss waiting by our boss’ limo?” Xigbar, chewing some gum, asks the question the entire Nothingness label is asking themselves, but he receives no answer to anyone. Not that it would be unusual, since many members of his group - like Vexen and Zexion - just ignore him most of the time. However, most members are too busy observing the both of you and thinking of explanations for themselves. Axel thinks you're just waiting for another limousine to arrive, while Roxas and Xion think you want to talk to Xemnas. Other's explanations range from you wanting to start a fight to you wanting to hijack the limousine.

Then, out of seemingly nowhere, you take a step towards their boss, pull him down on his tie and kiss him in the middle of the street.

The Lobby immediately erupts into chaos as the artists, the secretary, heck, even the receptionist all start to talk loudly, almost screaming.

“Excuse me, what?!”

“Hey, since when where they-“

“XEMNAS AND THE LIGHTLABEL BOSS ARE A THING??”

“What the hell just happened?!”

“Oooh! Our boss is going to get some-“

“Xemnas can kiss someone???”

“Someone can love Xemnas????”

“WHAAAAAAAAAT?!”

It’s safe to say that the two weeks of surprise vacation were spent theorizing and talking about the both of you.

 

In the Lobby of LightLabel Headquarter:

“Maybe they’re waiting for the other limousine to arrive?” Aqua tries to explain more to herself than to anyone else why you’re still standing there instead of just leaving. But when Xemnas approaches you and the both of you talk, she starts to doubt her conclusion. Terra worries that Xemnas might try to start an argument with you, while Riku worries about him trying to hijack your limousine.

As you move towards Xemnas, all of their jaws drop, and when you kiss him, it’s silent enough to hear to hear a pin drop.

Then, a second later, chaos erupts, starting with Sora yelling out “I KNEW IT!”

“Sora, how did you-“

“What in the name of heck-“

“Aww, they’re cute together!”

“When did that happen?!”

“Since when-“

“How did they hide it so well?”

It’s safe to say that the two weeks of their surprise vacation was filled with theorizing and talking about the both of you as well.

 

Eventually, Roxas and Ventus made an enormous group-chat, where everyone shared their theories and just lost their collective minds over their bosses being an item now.

It was quite entertaining, and something everyone kept secret from the both of you.

Even though you personally didn’t care – all you cared about was that you didn’t have to hide anymore.