Author's Note: Back to Roxas for a while guys. These chapters are getting longer aren't they?

Warning: Not much I this chapter, but still Aku/Dem and Roxas/Naminé.

Disclaimer: I don't own KH

Thorny Influences

"And stay out!"

Roxas groaned and peeled his face off the wall. Did Marluxia really have to hit him that hard? He was going to be picking petals out his hair for hours.

It wasn't fair! He'd just been trying to make things right. Okay so she'd been kind of upset and he couldn't blame her, but when she'd tripped he couldn't just let her fall could he? Of course not! He'd have really been a bastard if he'd done that. She'd shrieked when she lost her balance, and Marluxia had come running just in time to see…

"Master?"

"I'm fine Trooper," he told his ubiquitous Samurai servant, in the face of all evidence.

The Nobody didn't look convinced.

"Looks bad," it said.

"I've had worse."

"True. Still, concern."

The Samurai, in general, were Nobodies of few words who took their duties seriously. Said duties were slightly different then that of the other higher Nobodies. The Dragoons for example had only to obey Number III. The Samurai were charged with Roxas' well being as well, under threat of Dusk-hood from Xemnas, making them an odd combination of servant and babysitter.

They didn't seem to mind; in fact they had become quite possessive of their little master, to the point on impudence with other Organization members who talked down to Number XIII.

"It's just a few thorns. I'll be fine," Roxas gave his servant a confident smile.

"See Number IV."

"Ugh. Why?"

"Poison."

"Ugh." Drat! The Samurai had a point. It was unlikely. Marluxia wasn't stupid, but when he lost his temper, there was no telling what he'd do.

The Samurai tapped its foot impatiently.

"Alright, alright I'm going," Roxas grumbled and limped through a portal.

888

"Did you really have to hit him that hard Marluxia?" Naminé asked the livid Assassin.

"You should stay away from him, Naminé," he growled.

"But why?"

"Because boys are trouble," he said automatically.

"But, you're a boy Marluxia."

"Teenage boys then."

"Demyx is…"

"Look I know what I'm talking about, alright?" he snapped. "Roxas is trouble. It follows him everywhere."

"I thought that was just Axel."

Marluxia smirked. "Same thing."

"It's just…" she began. Marluxia groaned internally.

"He's the only one like me," Naminé said quietly.

Loneliness, he couldn't do anything about that. He couldn't isolate her again, not as long as the Nocturne was around anyway. And she had been doing much better since she'd started interacting with the others. Especially, he was loath to admit, Roxas. It wasn't too bad if Demyx was around to chaperone, and Roxas's intentions were fairly innocent, at the moment. The trouble was he didn't trust them to stay that way, not at all.

"Why do you think it's so bad for him to come and see me?" she asked dismally.

He knelt down and put a hand on her head. For a moment he looked sad, she thought.

"Because I know what he's after, even if he doesn't," he said. And that tone of voice meant the end of the conversation.

Naminé started at the ground as he left. She'd been so close too! She picked up sketchbook and ducked into a fern filled alcove.

"What was that about?" asked a curious voice. She squeaked and looked up.

"Oh it's just you Repliku. Does Vexen need something?"

"Repliku?" he gave her a horrified stare.

"Yeah I thought it was cute," she said.

Rriku made a face, "I don't know about that," he grimaced. "And no, Vexen doesn't need anything. I just wanted to talk to you again."

"Oh." She smiled it was nice to have someone else to talk to.

"You really like him don't you?"

Naminé looked up and studied his face. As far as she could tell he was merely curious.

"Yes, but I don't get to see him much."

"Because of Marluxia?"

"Yes. He thinks Roxas is a bad influence." She watched as this was filed away. The replica shrugged. There was a snap. Naminé gasped.

"What. The. Hell?"

He turned around and blue-eyed, scythe wielding Death bore down on him.

888

"Ow!"

"Stop squirming."

"I can't help it Zexion. It itches!"

"The ointment's almost ready," said Vexen from the other side of the lab. "So just sit tight."

"I think Marluxia's finally managed to cross breed poison ivy and roses," Roxas complained. Trooper had been right. His leg was really starting to itch.

"What did you do to deserve this?" Zexion asked.

"Um…."

"Naminé?" Zexion ask not so innocently.

"I didn't do anything!"

"I rather doubt that," Vexen said dryly.

Zexion pulled out another thorn. "So what did you do?"

"Ow! We were just talking!"

"Let me guess. The conversation went something like this."

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Roxas didn't understand what he was getting at until he realized Zexion had gone from sitting about a foot away to about half and inch away.

"Back off!" he hissed. The Schemer covered his mouth to hide his smirk. "I imagine you said something quite different to her," he said moving back to his previous position.

"In fact," he gave an audible sniff, "the complete opposite I'd say."

"She tripped okay," he grumbled.

"And the gallant hero caught her, is that it?" Vexen asked walking over with a glass vile in his hand.

"And the dragon thought he saw his precious princess being whisked away?" Zexion added.

Roxas said nothing, but his ears were very red.

"Hmm," Vexen smirked. He set the jar down next to the fresh clothes Trooper had brought. The Samurai was still hovering nearby, as Roxas was being de-thorned.

"Once all the thorns are out put this on. It should clear up that rash in a couple of days. And do be more careful next time."

After Roxas limped away, his faithful servant at his heels, Zexion turned to the Chilly Academic.

"You know Vexen, I've just had a premonition."

"You too then?"

"Yes, I do believe Roxas will be visiting us much more frequently from now on.

888

"Hey Roxas."

A long arm waved at him, as Roxas shut the door to Axel's room. He'd finally managed to shake the Samurai, but only because he was going to see Axel.

The rest of the pyro was hidden by the couch, from the TV came the sounds of laughter and explosions.

"Hey Axel," Roxas moaned. As he rounded the end of the couch he froze. Axel was spooned up against Demyx one arm draped over the slim hips. The Nocturne was asleep.

"Er…"

"It's okay Roxas," Axel sighed and gave Demyx a shake.

"Urrglle?"

"Rise and shine, we gotta make room."

"Five more minutes ma."

Roxas snickered. The look on Axel's face was priceless.

"Wake up!"

"Huh?" Demyx gurgled finally waking up.

"Roxas is here. Move over."

"Okay, okay geeze," the Nocturne groaned and stretched.

"Get you rear in gear dummy!"

"In front of Roxas?"

"…"

Axel punched Demyx on the arm.

"Just kidding," Demyx whimpered and slid off the couch.

"That's a nice way to treat your boyfriend," Roxas sighed and sat down.

"I didn't hit you hard at all!"

"Huh!"

"Oh come'ere."

"You just made me leave!"

"Just come back here."

"You come here!"

"Okay I see how it is." Axel sat down on the floor next to Demyx and wrapped an arm around him. The Nocturne seemed a bit surprised. Roxas was, but at least he had the whole couch to himself now.

"Better?" Axel teased.

Demyx looked ready to jump him for minute, but shot a quick glance at Roxas and only nodded.

"Ah maybe I should just go and feed my koi…"

"That's not gonna work this time!" Axel snapped. "I watched you feed them an hour ago."

"Oh er…I forgot…"

"You don't have to run away whenever I'm around Demyx," Roxas said. "Really it's okay."

Demyx looked up at Roxas, ready to ask how he could outright lie like that and not get struck by lightening. The tension between them was palpable, especially after their little "talk". Instead he stared at the boy mouth open.

"Roxas? Holy cow! What happened to you?"

Axel whipped around finally getting a good look at his friend.

"Good night! What did you do? Eat pavement again?"

"It was Marluxia," Roxas grumbled and kicked his legs up and hogging the couch.

Demyx turned around and inspected the rash winding up Roxas leg.

"Ewww, that looks like that poison briar vine of his."

"That's it. I have to kill him now," Axel growled.

"I hope you do. Aww man this itches!" Roxas hissed twitching.

"Don't scratch it. It makes it worse," Demyx said catching his hand and pulling it away.

"Oh shut up Demyx," Roxas snapped glaring at him. "You don't know how bad it is!"

"Yes I do," he replied hotly. Roxas glared at him for a moment and then looked away. Demyx and Marluxia were always bickering. The Assassin had probably perfected the attack on the Nocturne.

"Vexen makes a really good…"

"Yeah he gave me some." He gave Demyx a weak grin. "I kind wondered how he got it made so fast."

"You should put some on now if it's itching that bad."

"Er…"

"We won't look," Axel said holding up his hand, "Scout's honor."

"Well it on my back too…"

"Oh just strip."

A few minutes later…

"Nuuhh, Axel you hands are too warm it's making it burn worse!"

"Well I can't do anything about it."

"I could do it," Demyx offered in the timid tones of someone who knows he's said things he shouldn't have and doesn't know if he'll be forgiven. "I mean…if you don't mind Roxas."

He would have normally said no, but the itchy burn was driving him nuts.

"Okay, just make it stop."

Cool hands spread the salve across his back. Roxas sighed with relief.

"It sucks doesn't it," Demyx said conversationally.

"Yeah."

"Um… I can't help but notice…"

"What?" Roxas growled, glaring over his shoulder.

"Well why does it look like he was he aiming for, umm…"

"Her sandal caught and she tripped okay!"

"Wha'?"

Axel leaned over the back of the couch leering. "Roxas! You sly little fox, you!"

"Shut up!" the boy yelped, his face turning red.

"Right, right. She just 'tripped' and you just caught her?" Axel's grin was practically splitting his face.

"It wasn't like that!"

"Well if it wasn't like that, then why are getting, to quote Luxord, 'you're knickers in a knot'?" the Flurry quirked an eyebrow.

Demyx looked back and forth between the two.

"Umm…"

"It was nothing, Demyx, okay?" The last thing he needed was for Demyx to go big brother mode on him.

"Alright," he huffed in a tone that suggested that Naminé would be consulted later.

"Hey Axel, I'm gonna go for a swim," he added.

Axel frowned. "Dem…"

"No I really feel like it," he grinned.

"But you weren't feeling so hot before," Axel protested.

"The water'll help," Demyx assured him.

After the Nocturne left, Axel sat back down on the floor. Roxas stared at him for a minute. There was something different.

"What's up with you Axel?" he asked.

"I was about to ask you the same thing," he said give the Key a significant look.

"You mean Demyx?" Roxas sighed. Axel nodded.

"Last night you see, he, um, fed me and then chewed me out. I guess I kinda deserved it but…"

"I get it," Axel sighed. No wonder Demyx had wanted to leave. But Roxas must have really thought he deserved it, to not be angry about it. "But Roxas…"

"I kinda, accidentally stood up Naminé," Roxas said before Axel could jump to a conclusion.

"Oh well that you'll have to deal with yourself," he said turning back to the television.

"And he was kinda upset about the castle…"

"Uh-huh…"

"And the er…kiss…"

Axel smirked. "I don't think you have to worry about that one anymore."

Roxas turned over so that he was closer to Axel. "He's not mad about that anymore?"

"I made it up to him."

888

"Vexen!!!"

The Chilly Academic looked up from his notebook. "Yes Number XI?" he said icily.

"What is the meaning of this?!"

"Owww, Lemme go!!!"

There thud as Marluxia shoved the Riku Replica through the doorway and he tripped over the Nobody's foot.

"You pink bastard!! What'd'ya do that for?!"

"Rriku? What the?"

"Roxas is bad enough and you thought it was a good idea to make a copy of the other one?!" The Assassin was practically breathing fire.

"I didn't do anything!" Rriku insisted.

"Rriku, go help Lexeaus unload lab supplies."

"But…"

"Now."

The replica looked defiant for a moment, but caught Vexen's expression.

"Now what are you going on about Number XI?" Vexen asked once the boy was gone.

"It's all I can do to keep that hormone driven brat away from Naminé, and you just had to go and make another one," he spat.

Oh so that was the problem.

"I sincerely doubt that my Rriku will cause you any trouble in that capacity," Vexen said smoothly.

Marluxia's fingers drummed irritably against his bicep. "And why is that?" he asked radiating skepticism.

"He isn't hormone driven, at least not the way XIII is," the Academic answered.

"Is that good for him?"

"He has what he needs and not a cc more," Vexen said. "I've seen to that."

Marluxia smirked. "I'm sure you have. You would never create something you couldn't control."

Vexen's eyebrow twitched. "Nor would you," not that you can actually create anything he added inside his head. Out loud he said, "In any case, the modification was less a means of control than a means of preserving my sanity."

Vexen returned his attention to his notebook.

Marluxia snorted and strolled to the door, "Well if anything he does jeopardizes my peace of mind, I will hold you responsible."

"Would expect nothing less of you," Vexen answered without looking up.

888

Demyx pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, trying to shut out the brightness of the hallway. He'd told Axel he was fine, stupid migraines making a liar out him, especially after last night.

He wasn't even sure where he was anymore. He'd just gone for a swim, like he did every morning, and then BAM!! The lurking pain had just struck like a hammer. He leaned against the wall heavily; eyes squeezed shut, hands clamped over his mouth trying to contain the nausea.

888

There was a thud against the door. Vexen growled to himself. Would these interruptions never cease?

He threw back the door to see a very green Melodious Nocturne, who staggered a bit in surprise…

…and then threw up.

To be continued….

And thus we have the lead in for 'Cold Comfort' which was written ages ago...I'm so lame