He lay drowning in the wind with a quietly radical smile raining from his teeth. His clothes stuck to his skin from the moisture in the lakeside air and his heels squished in the sand of the shore. Crying waves trembled across his flesh, slowly, slowly, envious of the great oceans and their endless roll.

The bandages had come off weeks ago and Vexen's newest medicine stampeded through his veins and nerves and coated his tongue with a kind of stomach acid brine. He smacked his lips in disgust, feeling the foul thing grating against the back of his throat.

And then Demyx crawled up from the lack, Phytoplankton caressing his flesh, uneager to let him leave their sacred depths again. He brushed them off with a cruel disregard and then flopped down beside Roxas.

"How do you feel?" he asked. He lay on his stomach and wiggled his toes in the waves.

The wind blew by and Roxas drowned again.

His smile widened and his eyes flew open.

Blinded, he looked at the flickering sunspots that were Demyx's face.

"I can't really feel my legs, and my fingers keep…" he held them up, eclipsing the sun in parallel lines. He clenched them, like a taloned claw descending from the sky… They cracked obscenely. The grating crack of bone against bone against bone.

Demyx laughed a little, glancing over his shoulder as fish flopped up onto the shore, writhing desperately for his love in the poison-shock air.

"And is your back still bleeding?"

Roxas sneered at him, giggling wet and wild and choking. He arched his back and scrabbled his snapping fingers in the sand beneath him.

Once elephant tusk ivory sands were instead like carmine flowers burgeoning in the shade of Roxas's body.

Demyx picked up a little crab that had been kissing his collarbone with its eyes, burning them on the salt of his body. Demyx examined it idly while Roxas bled and fish drowned and helpless, motionless, algae wavered, hungry for his affection.

"I suppose that's what you deserve," he decided at last, kicking his feet like a beautiful child. The lichens hugging the quartz ridge at the other end of the lake moaned for him.

Roxas snarl-laughed in tune with the wind and the dance of the leafless willow branches whipping through the sultry air.

"Yes, I suppose."

Demyx propped his chin in the cup of one hand, still looking for all the world like an innocent boy.

The servants of aqua continued to die in their pursuit and love of him. He barely noticed them as he reached out to stroke Roxas's bleach-bone pale face.

Dead-water eyes darted and growled from within gaunt sockets.

"It's all right," Demyx soothed pleasantly, babbling brook singing across jagged stones. "There's no cure for what you have, but it can be controlled. Vexen's provided a proper diet and the rest of us will help you with your discipline…"

"You're only strong when your enemy is weak, huh, Demyx?"

The lapping lake water went cold and biting. The crabs crawled up the depths at the call. The cattails rustled in the wind and in the wake of jumping frogs. The pond-skaters advanced on spindly arachnid legs.

Demyx's hair drooped over his forehead, moving sporadically with the orders of the breeze. His azure eyes read tsunamis and tidal waves.

Roxas smiled in acknowledgement and in taunt.

Crabs snapped at his ears and frogs spread out in watch across his body, while the insects threatened to invade his mouth or ear canals.

"Since we're stuck together," Demyx muttered by way of thrumming tide. "We should get along. Fighting is no fun."

"I hate you people."

Water creatures knocked sand into his—bluer than the—ocean eyes.

Demyx grinned, benignly. He'd given the kicking frogs the order through a silent saltwater surge of magic through his blood.

"Nobodies don't hate."

Roxas—pretty broken dying chained, Roxas—hissed, spitting and blinking against burning red veined eyes.

"Hate you," he insisted. He bared his teeth to a strider, barring it entrance, while another soldier tickled-stepped into his ear.

"I suppose that's why you tried to leave," Demyx grit, showing his own teeth in a pearl-white snarl.

Roxas cried out in pain as the aquatic snakes came at last and the bugs crawled further inside his head and crabs nipped at every fleshy piece their pincers could reach.

And then Roxas screamed, just so all the others could hear from where they eavesdropped through their own elements.

"Yes, that's why I tried to leave."

Demyx dug through the pockets of his sodden pants.

He found the pills and the syringe.

The needle went in at Roxas's tear duct.

The boy's entire face was contorted with spasms as the Alice blue-bright liquid drained.

His open mouth—gaping with wracking sighs of pain—made pushing the lying-white pill between his tamarisk lips that much easier.

Roxas—pretty broken traitor Roxas—went limp upon the bleeding sands as chains threaded with his veins.

"You won't leave again," Demyx purred, silent siren songs pulling back his faithful warriors.

After surveying the suicidal tribute left upon the shores, Demyx dove back beneath the subtle waves of his lake.

Leaving Roxas to be collected by whoever his next jailor might be.


Standard Disclaimers.