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Skipping School

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Aimlessly, you walked through the streets of Twilight Town. Most of your friends had moved away when those weird monsters had started showing up. You’d stayed, though. Twilight Town was your home, and the monsters had become fewer recently, anyway, ever since those black-coated people had shown up.

You were lost in thought when a sound caught your attention. Some sort of instrument, but not really similar to one you knew. It sounded like it had strings, but that’s pretty much all you could say. That mystery made you even more curious, so you decided to follow the music.

It led you to the small forest just outside of town. For a moment, you hesitated; if you met a monster somewhere within Twilight Town, you had a good chance someone would hear you yell and be able to help. But outside? Then again, there was obviously someone already there. If the musician hadn’t been attacked yet, you should be safe, too.

The sun was shining through the leaves, and with the music, it seemed almost magical. Looking around, you finally found someone leaning against one of the trees, playing a vaguely guitar-shaped instrument. It was a boy about your age, maybe a bit younger, with blond hair. His eyes were closed, fully focused on the music.

What surprised you most, though, were his clothes. Unless he was just copying their dress style, he was one of the black-coated men you’d seen around town, fighting the monsters. It was the first time you’d seen one of them without their hood, though. He was so young! When you’d seen them, you had imagined seasoned warriors, not… him.

The boy finished his song and opened his eyes. “Huh?” He tilted his head to one side, obviously confused to see someone here. “Who’re you?”

You told him your name and sat down next to him. “I love your music. What kind of instrument is that?”

“Yes! Finally someone understands!” He pumped his fist in the air and grinned. “The others just don’t get it!” He lowered his arm again, as if he was only now remembering you were still sitting next to him. “Oh, and uh, thanks. It’s a sitar.”

“And what’s your name?”

“I’m Demyx. So, what’re you doing here?” Demyx started plucking at his sitar strings again. Not really like he was playing a song, just some sort of background music while you talked.

“I heard you play and got curious”, you answered, shrugging. You looked him over again; he really didn’t look like a fighter. “You’re one of the people who hunt those black monsters, right?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Why do you do it?”

Suddenly, there was silence. You took a moment before understanding that it was because Demyx had stopped playing. Confused, you tilted your head slightly.

“Why…? Well, uh… I… I don’t think I’m supposed to talk about it.” He scratched the back of his neck, while you were even more puzzled than before.

“Oh… Okay then.” As curious as you were, you didn’t want him to feel awkward. So, instead of pushing the question, you just leaned against the tree and closed your eyes; not long after, Demyx started playing again.

Listening to the music, you completely lost track of time. Maybe he was just gifted, or maybe it was because you had never heard that kind of music. There was just something about it, although you couldn’t quite put your finger on it. It was only when Demyx stopped playing that you opened your eyes again.

He sighed. “I guess I gotta go back…” When you looked over to Demyx, he looked utterly defeated: Head hanging low, the sitar lying on the ground next to him, held by only one hand. “If I wait too long, X-face is gonna get so mad…” Looking like the effort took all his strength, he stood up and let his sitar disappear. “I so don’t want to…”

“Why not?”, you asked, getting up as well.

“Huh? Oh, I still have work to do.” Demyx had lifted his head to look at you, but now it was hanging again, his shoulders drooping. The poor boy looked miserable.

You gave him a few sympathetic pats on his back. “Good luck.”

“Haah… Thanks…” And before you could say anything else, he simply disappeared in what looked like a vertical pool of black ink.

You would have loved to ask him about meeting up again sometime, even if it was just listening to him play again. Oh well. People said you always met twice, so who knew, you might cross paths with Demyx again sometime.

For now, though, you went back to the city, looking for a point from which you could look up to the clock tower. You hadn’t been sitting next to Demyx for too long, an hour or two at most. The sun wasn’t setting quite yet, but it wouldn’t take much longer.

With not much else to do, you decided to take a train to the beach. It’d be mostly quiet by now, but you liked just sitting there, listening to the waves as you wrote a letter to your best friend, telling them about the boy you just met.

 

The next few days were rather uneventful. You got a reply from your friend, asking more about Demyx and whether you’d seen him again, but you hadn’t. You had noticed a black-coated figure once or twice, and that figure might have been holding a sitar, but you’d always been too far away to be sure.

Until one day, when you were just about to turn a corner, a familiar face dashed past you. Apparently, he recognized you, too, and dragged you back around the corner with him. “Hide me!”

“Come on!” You grabbed Demyx’s arm and ran. Your heart was racing instantly. There was a small alley only a few meters away. You ducked in it and hid behind a trash can.

Both of you were sitting as still as possible, trying to quiet your breathing. Neither of you said a word, listening for anything following you. What was Demyx hiding from? A monster? Had he been in a fight? Your eyes flicked to him for a moment, but you couldn’t see any wounds. But maybe he had known the monster would’ve been too strong, and decided to retreat immediately.

Then you heard steps, surprisingly human sounding ones. “Demyx! Come back and finish your report!” The voice seemed human, too. Very deep, but human. “And don’t copy mine again!”

Still, when the steps came closer, both you and Demyx held your breaths. Then they stopped, far too close for comfort. Neither of you dared to move a muscle, and you started worrying that you might not be able to stop breathing for long enough.

It felt like an infinity, but finally, the steps picked up again, moving away from you this time. You and Demyx remained tense until they were out of earshot, then burst out laughing.

“You scared me!” Playfully, you pushed Demyx away and got up. “What was that about?”

“Xaldin is scary!”, he defended himself, getting up as well.. “He’s been hounding me about this report for days! Even though I already handed one in…” Now, Demyx crossed his arms and looked to the side. Almost like he was pouting.

Judging by Xaldin’s words, he really had handed in a report… Just not his own. “Sounds like your group of black-coats is like a school”, you said, still grinning. “Yeah yeah, I know, you can’t talk about it, but that’s what it sounds like! So… Wanna skip school with me?”

Demyx’s eyes lit up immediately. “Of course!”

“To the beach, then? If Xaldin’s looking for you here, it’d be best to be somewhere else, right? And it’s pretty close by train.”

“I know a faster way than the train.” Before you could ask what way, Demyx grabbed one of your arms. “Hold on and close your eyes.”

You did as you were told, but not before seeing the same ink-like stuff he’d used before. Whatever it was, it felt strange. First, it was oddly cold, but then… The best comparison you had was taking a cold shower inside of a fire-hot hurricane, but you could feel neither water nor wind.

Then the feeling stopped, replaced by a salty breeze and the sound of waves. Even so, you kept your eyes closed until Demyx let go of your arm. When you opened them again, you could see you really were at the beach.

“That was fast.”

“That’s why we use them.” He shrugged.

“And what are ‘they’?”

Instead of an answer, Demyx looked shocked for a moment, before turning away and pulling his hair. He was mumbling something, but you couldn’t hear him clearly. The few words you did catch sounded like “Oh no” and “What should I say”.

Confused, you tilted your head to the side. “Another secret…? You don’t have to tell me if you aren’t supposed to…” The black-coats seemed stranger by the second. But Demyx looked like he was about to fall to his knees in despair, so you had to curb your curiosity for the moment.

At least your words had a calming effect. Demyx let go of his hair and turned back around, far calmer than you’d have thought, considering the way he’d been acting just moments ago.

“Honestly, I don’t know”, he said, shrugging. “I know we’re not supposed to talk about the Organization, but no one ever told us what exactly that meant.”

As much as you wanted to ask about that organization, you didn’t want him to have another meltdown. Maybe he’d tell you about it someday, when you’d gotten to know each other a bit better. “You’re part of some pretty weird group, Demyx.”

“Yeah, tell me about it.” He rolled his eyes. “Bunch of music heretics.”

“Aw, don’t think about them now, then!”, you said and patted his back. “C’mon, let’s get closer to the water!”

You started walking towards the ocean, and after a moment, Demyx followed. Looking from the waves to your companion and back, you got an idea; so you took your shoes off and walked a few steps further, letting the water wash over your feet.

“Are you going for a swim?” Demyx stayed where it was dry, but he was close enough to almost be touched by water.

You shook your head. “Nah, I don’t have my swimsuit. I just like how it feels.” Once the next wave came, you quickly bent down to splash some water at Demyx. It barely reached him, the few drops not even nearly enough to get him wet, but it was the thought that counted. “And I like that I can do this!”

A smirk appeared on his face. “That calls for revenge!” He raised a hand and, to your surprise, summoned his sitar.

Before you could ask, he played a few notes and some water splashed right in your face. “What the—?!”

Now it was Demyx’s turn to laugh. But you refused to just let him win! The next wave was bigger than the last one, so this time, your splashing actually got him a little bit wet—and distracted him long enough so you could drag him a few steps into the water.

 

Several minutes later, both of you were panting and soaked from head to toe. “Truce!”, you called, “Truce!”

Demyx lowered his sitar. “Giving up?”

“Never!” By now, you were both up to your knees in the ocean, which made splashing him far easier.

“You asked for it! Dance, water, dance!” He played another set of tones, summoning a big wave that knocked you off your feet.

Now that, you couldn’t just accept! Hurriedly, you got back on your feet and tackled Demyx, dragging him down into the water with you.

Both of you surfaced laughing. “Okay, okay, truce!”, Demyx finally agreed, and you walked back to the beach to dry in the evening sun.

 

“Haah, I don’t wanna go back.” Demyx was lying in the sand, hands crossed behind his head.

“I feel ya.” You lay down next to him. “Y’know, apart from the secrecy, your group still sounds like a school.”

“Hm.”

“So, I’m guessing you’ll be in more trouble the longer you stay away.”

Demyx put one of his arms over his eyes. “Ugh, don’t remind me!” Then he relaxed a bit, laying the arm over his stomach. “But it should be fine. They’re used to me hiding for a day by now.”

“The teachers are already used to you being a bad student?”, you asked with a slight giggle and sat back up.

“Yeah, I guess.” He sat up as well and stretched his back. “And once they are, they should be happy if the bad student shows up at all!” He sighed. “But I probably should head back anyway…”

When he made no move to get up, you did. “Come on then, get it over with.” You held out a hand to help him up. “Maybe we can meet up again sometime.”

“Yeah, sounds good.” Instead of taking your hand, Demyx was simply enveloped in the ink-like substance and disappeared.

 

Even after he was gone, you stayed at the beach for a while longer to sort your thoughts. Now you definitely had something new to tell your friend! Although you should probably leave out the part about his secret organization. After all, you didn’t want to get Demyx in trouble by spreading information about it.

But despite all the mysteries, you couldn’t wait for the next time you’d skip school together.