Axel woke up to the sound of horns blaring.

He groaned and pushed himself up to his hands and knees, heard the sound of squealing tires, and looked up just in time to see a car skidding by him within feet of his head. He yelped and shoved himself back away from the car, into a different lane of traffic.

A louder horn went off as he stood up, and he turned to find a very large vehicle barreling down the road toward him. Fear flooded his veins; not the illusion of fear, not a memory, but true fear. He planted his feet and tried to summon his chakrams, fully intent upon destroying the machine before it hit him.

Nothing happened.

He tried again. No chakrams.


Before he could move someone slammed into him, knocking him off the asphalt and onto the grass at the side of the road. He gasped, the air momentarily knocked from his lungs. The warm body pressing down on top of his certainly didn't help the whole 'breathing' thing. He looked down and saw a mess of dirty blonde hair- he'd recognize that half-mohawk just about anywhere, even if he hadn't know the Nobody that well.


It can't be Demyx. Demyx is dead.

but so are you.

Demyx lifted his head, a grimace of pain on his face. "Jesus, Axel, what the hell were you doing in the middle of the road?"


"Nevermind," Demyx said, sitting up in the grass. The blonde was wearing faded blue jeans and a dark blue hooded sweater; it was odd to see, considering Axel had only ever seen him in full Organization garb.

"It's about time you got here," Demyx said, his voice excited as he brushed himself off. "What happened after I died? Did Sora get to Xemnas?"

"Whoa, whoa, wait," Axel said, slowly sitting up. "It's only been a few days!"

Demyx frowned. "No way. It's been a year."

"A year?"

"Yeah, I got dropped here last May. It's April now. Almost a year," Demyx said, nodding furiously. "You're lucky I was out walking Sam. The semi could've flattened you."

"Sam?" Axel repeated, and Demyx gestured behind Axel. Axel looked over his shoulder slowly…and came face-to-snout with a very big, very angry looking Doberman with a leash dangling from its leather collar. The dog curled its lip and snarled, and Axel slowly scooted away.

"He, uh…"

"Oh, he's friendly. Don't worry," Demyx said, standing up and offering Axel a hand to his feet. Axel ignored it, getting to his feet on his own.

"Where are we?" he asked, looking around at the busy highway and the houses and stores lining the road.

"Denver, Colorado. The United States," Demyx explained, and Axel frowned.

"Never heard of it."

"Neither had I. This world is huge."

"Why…why can't I use my powers?"

That question seemed to sober Demyx up a bit. He shrugged, looking down at the ground.

"None of us can, I guess."

"None of us? There are others here?"

Demyx shook his head. "I only know about Larxene for sure. She lives in New York, a long way away from here. She's been here long enough to start up practice as a lawyer."

"And…we have hearts?"

"Sure do. I noticed it too, as soon as I got here."

Axel looked down at the ground, trying to make sense of all this in his head. They all were killed somehow, faded away…and they ended up stripped of their powers and dropped in a strange world.

With hearts.

"Hey, don't think too much," Demyx said, placing a hand on Axel's shoulder. "Come to my place, eat some dinner, get cleaned up…you reek of smoke."

"But this doesn't make any sense."

"Food always helps."

Axel sighed, and then he shrugged. "Sure. I guess."

Demyx grinned, picking up Sam's leash. "Follow me."

Axel didn't really have much choice but to follow. Demyx had been here a whole lot longer than him, he obviously knew where he was going and how this world worked. It was the best choice to stick close to him.

Funny. He'd always thought of the musician as useless, excepting some late night musical entertainment.

"How'd you die?" Demyx asked, falling back into step beside Axel, Sam walking between them.


"Aw, come on, it can't be that embarrassing," Demyx said with a laugh. "Sora got you too, didn't he?"

"I guess you could say that."

"Tough kid."

Axel snorted softly. Not really. Just lucky I decided to lend him a hand. If it weren't for Roxas, he'd be good as dead.

They crested a hill, and Axel was momentarily taken aback by the view. Hundreds of lights littered the valley below, roads criss-crossed in every direction, and over the city was the silhouette of distant mountains. The sun was setting behind the mountains, casting shades of pink and orange in the sky above them.

"Pretty, isn't it?" Demyx asked, noticing the look on Axel's face. "My apartment isn't the nicest around, but the view is unbeatable. C'mon, this way."

Demyx turned into a small complex of buildings, heading between two of them to the mountain side of the complex. He led Axel up a flight of stairs to a door that read 8-B.

"Home sweet home," he said, unlocking the door and pushing it open. Sam rushed inside and straight to the water bowl, and Axel stepped inside hesitantly. Demyx flipped on the light behind him, revealing a small sitting room with a TV, a computer, a couch, and a coffee table. Littered around were folders and magazines, strewn haphazardly on the table and computer desk.

"Sorry that it's a bit of a mess," Demyx said, grabbing a couple folders off the couch and tossing them on the table. "I wasn't expecting a visitor."

Axel didn't answer; he didn't really care. He eyed the fireplace, which was right beside the doorway to a small kitchen.

"Not much more than this," Demyx said with a bashful shrug. "Closet, bathroom, and bedroom are down that hallway."


"You, uh…want something to eat? I don't have anything ready, but I can cook…"

"You cook?"

"Well, I try, anyway."

Axel smirked, starting to step back toward the hallway to the bedroom- but Sam stepped in front of him, raising his hackles and growling. Axel sneered and starting to summon a nice ball of fire to shove down the dog's throat, but once again nothing happened. His powers really were gone.

"You're dead, furball," he hissed at the dog before backing away from the hallway.

"What?" Demyx called out from behind the kitchen counter.

"Nothing," Axel said, walking to the couch and dropping down on it. He wasn't impressed; so far all he'd felt with this heart was fear and now depression. Wasn't having a heart supposed to be a good thing?

"Hey Demyx…what have you been doing since you got here, anyway?"

There was a sizzling sound, and Demyx shrugged, concentrating on whatever food he was cutting up. "Didn't do much of anything the first couple months. Tried to find a way back, you know? But then I figured I'd better just get a job and try to make the best of things."

"A job?"

"Yeah. I, uh…I teach guitar lessons. And I'm…"

"Go on."

"I'm a teacher's aide for the 3rd grade classes at the elementary school down the street."

Axel blinked a few times, then looked up at Demyx in disbelief. "You teach little kids?"

"Well, yeah. It's not a bad gig. And it pays the rent."

Axel picked up one of the folders on the table and opened it up. Inside were papers with barely-legible scrawlings on them, marked with blue pen and each with a sticker at the top.

"You've changed."

Demyx smiled, stepping out from the kitchen and setting a bowl in front of Axel on the table. "A lot of things change in a year. Even without the whole 'new world' thing."

"You've given up."

"I didn't give up. I tried. I spent the first two months trying to get back to help you guys," Demyx explained. "But there's no magic here, Axel. No powers, no teleportation, no doorways to other worlds…this is it. It's like…the dead end of worlds."

"That's impossible. You just didn't try hard enough."

Demyx put his hands on his hips indignantly. "Look, you don't know anything about it. And since ranks are a moot point now, I can tell you to shut up."

Axel's eyes widened, but by the time he'd recovered enough to snap back, Demyx was back in the kitchen. This time he filled a bowl of dog food and set it out for Sam, who seemed to swallow it all in one gulp.

Axel poked at the food in his dish- a reddish brown rice with chunks of meat in it. It looked pretty gross, but he was famished. He took a tentative bite, and was surprised to find that it was actually quite good. Spicy.

"The couch folds out into a bed," Demyx said, returning from the kitchen. "You're welcome to stay until you get on your feet again."


"I'm gonna get some sleep. Have to get up early tomorrow to set up for a convocation. When you want to sleep, just yank the cushions off the couch, move the coffee table, and pull up on the bar inside the couch," Demyx said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Night."

"Goodnight," Axel said softly, watching as Demyx left the room. Sam gave Axel another growl and snort before following Demyx out.

Axel sighed and set the bowl aside. Good food, for sure, but he'd suddenly lost his appetite.

This had all happened too fast. One second he was opening a portal for Sora to give Xemnas a big final 'fuck you', and now he was stripped of everything and relying on the token dumb blonde of the Organization to have a roof to sleep under.

And he wouldn't even see Roxas here. Not even Sora, to give him that feeling that Roxas was near. His best friend had been absorbed right back into his other, as if he'd never existed.

And now here he was. Axel, number VIII, feeling helpless and quite lost for the first time in a long time. Feeling true emotions for the first time since he could remember.

So far, he hated it.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I can press Demyx for more answers, maybe even contact Larxene and ask if she's found anything to get us out. If she'll even talk to me.

With a heavy feeling of dread, Axel managed to get the bed pulled out before collapsing onto it and falling right into sleep.


They're finally reunited.

It's almost time.

The reawakening will have to be completed soon, or this world will fall.