It was utter chaos. Axel had one arm around Demyx's waist, the other hand on the younger man's face, holding him close in a suffocating kiss. Vexen and Larxene were busy tying up the two men who'd attacked, strapping them to chairs with ropes that Larxene had in her apartment; though no one dared ask why Larxene just had lengths of rope lying around. Marluxia had Zexion in his arms, Jacob watching on helplessly as the former Nobody struggled to drag air into his lungs.
"I thought you were dead," Axel whispered breathlessly, finally breaking off the kiss. "They told me you were dead, I should have come back for you, I'm sorry-"
"No. No, it's okay," Demyx insisted with a weak smile. "They weren't wrong. I died. But…"
"Somebody call an ambulance!" Jacob shrieked tearfully, his hands soaked with Zexion's blood, evidence of his efforts to help.
"Hang in there. Hang on, we're going to get help," Marluxia was saying to Zexion, cradling him closer, but moments later Zexion's hand dropped from where it had been fisted in Marluxia's shirt. He went limp, his eyes fluttering shut.
"It's okay," Demyx insisted, pulling away from Axel and almost falling, prompting Axel to grab onto him and refuse to let go. "He's not gone. We can't die."
Everyone's attention was suddenly on Demyx, and Larxene snorted. "What did they do to your head, kid?"
"We can't die," Demyx insisted. "I died, and ended up alive. Give it a few minutes. He'll wake up."
"You'd damn well better be right," Marluxia muttered, still staring down at the torn and bloody body in his arms. Axel couldn't care less at the moment; well, he could, but he had his hands on Demyx. That was all he needed right now, more than he could've hoped for.
"No more dying," he said quite seriously, making Demyx look at him. "No more. I'm getting you a leash."
Demyx smiled. "Sorry. I'll try to avoid a repeat performance."
Axel kissed him again, gentler this time, more aware that Demyx was weakened. He could taste smoke and blood in Demyx's mouth, a harsh reminder of what had almost been the end. He didn't waste any time in picking up the blonde and carrying him to the couch, setting him down on it.
"Zexion?" Marluxia said softly, and everyone looked up to see that Zexion was breathing again with short, harsh breaths. Alive, just like Demyx had said. His eyes slowly opened, and he blinked a few times, dazed.
"What should we do with these two? Shoot 'em again?" Larxene asked, jerking her thumb at the two men tied to chairs. Their wounds had healed, but they weren't yet awake.
"They're Nobodies too? They can't die?" Jacob asked, his eyes wide and red from crying.
"Looks that way," Axel said.
"Why are they here? And what do they want with the kid?" Larxene asked, kicking one of them on the leg. The man stirred and his eyes opened, and Larxene grabbed him by the chin. "What do you want with the keyblade brat, huh?"
The man chuckled. "I'm not going to tell you. The Superior still holds sway in this world, after all."
"The Superior? You work for Xemnas?" Zexion asked, slowly pushing himself up to a sitting position, though Marluxia remained ready to catch him if he fell.
"Wait…"Demyx said, obviously putting the pieces together in his mind. "They work for Xemnas. Xemnas wants the keyblade users to keeping destroying the Heartless, so he can complete Kingdom Hearts…"
Axel's eyes widened in realization. "He gets another keyblade user into that world, it speeds up the process."
"So he sent them to take my son back to that world, to speed up the process of collecting hearts," Vexen growled. "It's just crazy enough to work."
Demyx frowned. "But King Mickey said that if we go back, we die."
"Jacob isn't dead in our world. He wouldn't be affected by being thrown in there," Axel pointed out. "We'd cease to exist there because in that world, we're dead."
The two Nobodies didn't say a word, but Axel knew their story was right. It all made sense; the Superior always had ulterior motives, and it made sense that those in the Organization weren't the only Nobodies in the other world. Using the extras for a task like this was beneficial, of course.
"That clever bastard," Larxene said, staring at the two Nobodies. "So what should we do with them, then? They're like us. They can't die."
"I think I know of a way to dispose of them, Nobodies or not," Vexen said, and then he looked up at Larxene. "Somewhere in your infinite wealth, do you have a boat?"
She snorted and lifted her chin. "Her name is Nobody's Fool, and she's docked at the river right now."
"Call whoever can drive it and tell them to meet us there. And to bring an extra anchor."
An hour and a half later, they were on Larxene's boat with two very angry Nobodies tied to chairs in the main cabin. Marluxia and Zexion were standing at the back of the ship, Larxene, Vexen, and Jacob were all in the main cabin, and Axel found Demyx at the very front, leaning over the railing to see the water parting around the bow.
"I'll bet you feel right at home," Axel said with a smile, joining Demyx at the railing. Demyx grinned at the redhead, then returned his gaze to the lights of the night-lit city reflecting off the river.
"I like boats."
"I've never been on one before. I've seen 'em, though."
"I'll buy you one someday. Or I'll get something to blackmail Larxene with and make her buy you one."
Demyx looked up at Axel again, and then Axel pulled him into a kiss, relieved to just have the privilege of watching him. Seeing Demyx happy was something he appreciated a whole lot more now.
"Listen, Demyx," he started slowly. "I meant to tell you something, before now…I mean, I decided to, and then you…"
Demyx nodded. "What is it?"
Just say it. Who knows if it might be your only chance, Axel thought.
"I wanted to…to thank you, for helping me all this time. Even when I treated you like shit," he said. "I think I'm in love with you."
A blush spread across the musician's cheeks, and his smile widened as he looked down at the deck of the boat. "I already knew I was in love with you."
"I'm not quite done," Axel said, laughing softly. "I'm sorry you had to go through all that alone. I'm sorry for not being there for you when you needed me. And I'm sorry for not saving you."
"Stop apologizing," Demyx said, looking up at Axel. "Just kiss me. That's all you've gotta do."
But the kiss was cut short when they heard a scream from the cabin. They broke apart, and Demyx took off at a run to see what the problem was. Axel followed with a yell at Demyx to stop, but after three steps he met the problem face to face- a Heartless rose out of the boat's deck, right in front of him, blocking his path to Demyx.
The Heartless were attacking again, and with awful timing, too. Axel summoned a chakram with an angry growl, slicing at the creature.
"Axel! Axel, they got loose!"
Axel turned toward the sound of Marluxia's voice and saw one of their captive Nobodies run across the deck, a knife in hand. Things had quickly gone from bad to worse.
Axel spun around, having finished off the Heartless he'd been battling. He looked around the boat, trying to spot that familiar mop of brown hair- there. One of the men had a grip of Jacob's wrist, and Jacob was struggling as the man's other hand opened a white portal.
If Jacob went through that portal, he'd end up in the other world, aiding Xemnas's cause. All hope here would be lost.
Ignoring the danger to himself by going near that portal, Axel sprinted across the boat just as the man gave Jacob a good shove into the portal. Axel grabbed onto Jacob's arm, keeping him from falling completely through.
The pull of the portal was amazingly strong. Portals didn't normally have this kind of pull, but this wasn't a normal portal by any stretch of the imagination. The keyblade shimmered and disappeared from Jacob's hand and he flailed, grabbing onto Axel's arm with both hands. Axel braced himself and pulled, but it was no use. The pull of the portal dragged him forward nearly a foot, and Jacob completely disappeared in the portal, jerking Axel in up to his elbows.
He could already feel his arms fading- after all, once inside the portal, he would cease to exist. It wasn't his world. Jacob wasn't dead to that world, but he was.
Have to hold on.
"Axel!" Jacob yelled desperately. "Axel, don't let go!"
"I won't!" Axel yelled back, attempting to pull again, seeing out of the corner of his eye that Vexen was fighting back the man who'd shoved Jacob in the portal.
Not enough. It wasn't enough. The pull was just too strong, and Axel couldn't keep his footing. His shoes squeaked against the deck of the boat as he was jerked forward again- then, quite suddenly, arms locked around his waist and pulled.
"Don't let go of him. I've got you," Demyx's voice said firmly, and the redhead got his footing again, trying to pull harder. His arms were still in the portal, and it was taking all his strength to keep from fading from existence, influenced by the connection to the other world.
He pulled back, the process made easier by Demyx's help, but he knew it wouldn't be enough. Back up to his elbows in the portal now, but it seemed impossible that they could pull the boy out.
Hands grabbed onto Axel's arm, helping him pull back- Zexion.
"Not lettin' you off the hook that easy," Zexion said, straining to help pull Jacob out. "If you get sucked in there…I won't be able to take blackmail pictures of you and Demyx in maid costumes."
"Nice to know you care," Axel said with a half-laugh. Hands were suddenly on his other arm, pulling, lending even more strength. It was Marluxia.
"Not doin' this for you," Marluxia pointed out, his eyes flashing briefly over Zexion before locking back on Axel. "So don't get any notion that I like you in any way."
"Wouldn't have dared."
Even with four people, it was too strong. Axel was being dragged in, his strength ebbing, and now he was almost completely in the portal. Blinding white light filled his vision, broken by only Jacob struggling to fight the pull.
We're going to lose him. I'm going to fade away.
Suddenly, a shimmer in the light. Color formed behind Jacob, taking the shape of a person, someone short, with blonde hair and a white jacket…
"Roxas?" Axel gasped out as the blonde braced his hands against Jacob's back and began to push.
"You helped Sora, Axel," Roxas said, meeting Axel's gaze and smiling. "I'm returning the favor. Say hi to Demyx for me…and thank you."
A final shove, and the portal snapped closed as Jacob finally made it back out. The five of them collapsed on the deck of the boat in a pile of limbs.
"Ow," Demyx muttered, having ended up on the bottom of the pile-up. Axel sat up, rubbing the back of his head.
"If you boys are done with the child's play, the attack's over, and we have some Nobodies to dispose of," Larxene said, one foot set on the back of a beaten up and tied up Nobody. "And I'm not carrying that anchor by myself. So get to work."
Zexion and Marluxia stood up, Vexen rushed to his son's side, and Demyx moved to his knees, giving Axel an odd look. "Are you okay?"
Axel looked up at Demyx, and then he smiled.
"I'm fine. And by the way…Roxas says hi."
Demyx stood on the roof of Larxene's apartment building, a glass of champagne in his hand as the light breeze ruffled his barely-styled hair. He let out a sigh, staring at the New York City skyline.
The two Nobodies who'd attempted to kidnap Jacob were now resting at the bottom of the river, strapped to an anchor, destined to drown over and over. It wasn't like they could be killed; this fate seemed fitting.
Demyx wasn't sure he was ready to live forever. But it seemed that for his activities as a Nobody, fate had dealt him and Axel the cards of protecting the keyblade wielder. And the one after him. And the one after that one. After all, the Heartless never really went away, especially in a world with so much darkness, and all the keyblade wielders would need guidance.
Demyx didn't have to turn around to know who'd spoken. He nodded, leaning back against the warm body as arms wrapped around his waist.
A chuckle. "You look depressed."
"I'm fine," Demyx said with a smile, setting his champagne on the edge of the roof and turning around in Axel's arms. "You're here. I'm fine."
"You're missing the party."
"Larxene and Marluxia are drunk. Somehow, I don't think I'm missing anything that won't mentally scar me. Even Sora is hiding at this point."
"Good point," Axel said with a laugh. Demyx smiled up at him, rubbing his thumb lightly across one of the tattoos on Axel's face.
"Think you can stand me for all eternity?"
"I could barely stand an hour thinking I'd never have you again," Axel said quietly. "Don't even think forever is enough for me."
Demyx grinned and kissed Axel, quickly deciding that living forever might not be so bad. Heartless or no heartless.
"Hey! Hey, you two! We have your maid outfits here, get your asses back here!" Larxene's drunken voice called out, and Demyx laughed, breaking off the kiss.
"You had to make that deal with her, didn't you?" Axel asked with a sigh.
"It was worth it to use her Jacuzzi."
"Speaking of, she's completely plastered. She won't notice or remember if we disappear for the rest of the evening."
Axel smirked, his eyes lighting up with mischievous energy. "Lead the way."