This twisted little tale inspired by reading some of Archy the Cockroach's work, talking between myself and Mousewolf (to whom this is lovingly dedicated [lessthanthree) and a relatively obscure and amazingly written origin piece written by Suzaka called Bitter (http//www. fanfiction. net/s/3455263/1/Bitter and take out the spaces...) that made my day when I first read it.

This one's a little more messed up than usual, so proceed with caution if you can.

Enjoy and tell me what you think or I might just die inside. (lol)

Ohhhh beta'd by the wonderful, illustrious Mousewolf... now go kiss some ass, lovelies! This one's for her. nodnod


He always thought them pretty. Most of all when they were burning.

Today he's content just to torture them.

Saïx is sitting in the long grass quietly while Axel pulls the legs off of grasshoppers. Marluxia pops their heads off with a fingernail, sending gem-green heads and brown blood sailing with a small smile - only when they get in his garden - but Axel always seems to entertain himself by pulling off their strong back legs. He plays with them for a bit, the detached limbs, bending them, running his calluses over the little spurs on the backs, catching them on the ridges… he has more of an art about it. But then he gets bored of the dead part and he plays with the scuttling four-legged worm left over. They're pathetic as they crawl across his stomach, bobbing up and down with his breath.

He pokes at them, laughs when they try to use their hind legs that aren't there any more and roll over on their backs, struggling to find purchase on his smooth, leather-clad belly. He's a lazy killer, on his back with his head lifted, a kitty-cat under a tree with its mouth open. His heart beats faster when he tortures the grasshoppers, his breath hisses through his teeth and his pleasure in the whole process is completely unmistakable. He plays with them until he finally even gets bored with the dumb scared sheep way the little bugs faint and then struggle to roll over. He finally draws one to his lips and there's a soft crunch.

Saïx turns and raises an eyebrow.

"What are you doing?" he finally asks.

"What?" Axel mumbles, letting his head fall back to the earth.

"Did you just eat that thing?"

"Yep. Got a problem with that, Puppy-dog?"

Saïx shakes his head even though his stomach wrenches at the thought. Any other day he would have attacked the redhead for being so insolent, but he figures it's best to leave Axel alone. He's lapsing back into old habits. Old habits can be used to gauge Axel's current level of sanity. This one indicates that he's not feeling all that stable at the moment.

"What?" he groans, brushing the other two off of his stomach impatiently, "Keep lookin' at me like that and I may have to kick your ass, Wolfie."

"Fine, but you're going to teach Naminé bad habits," Saïx sighs, "Are those even edible?"

"Best I've had in years, dog-boy. Nice and sweet like the grass they eat, and you'd better believe it," Axel sing-songs, grin broadening as the Berserker's face drains of what little color it possesses. The redhead snatched up a large insect. "We've got a live one!" he grins, tugging at a long leg. Saïx turns away again.

Naminé watches more in fascination than in horror as he presses it past his lips, the little claws on its feet catching on the thin line of pink skin around his mouth. He snaps his jaws shut like a bear-trap, smiled, satisfied with another crackle of exoskeleton. He smirks broadly again and swallows.

"Just like candy."

"Excuse me," Saïx murmurs softly, rising in his stiff-legged, elegant way and sauntering off down the hill. No doubt he was going to see if he could manage to keep his lunch down in private. Axel snakes his tongue out after the blue-haired male; mumbles, "What a pussy."

"I've only ever seen Demyx scare him off like that," Naminé comments with a small smile. "That's a compliment."

Axel grins his slithy Cheshire-cat grin.

"Oh really? I guess you haven't seen me in action enough. Water-boy can eat his heart out," he commented, rolling onto his side and digging at the black dirt languidly with an index finger. His hand brushes Naminé's, dry and fever-warm. "He thinks he's so special with the whole raw fish thing…"

"What are you, Axel?" Naminé asks quietly, putting aside her sketch book and cupping his chin in a small hand. He head tilts to one side, catlike, birdlike, watching her small movements.

"You're a great little whore," He remarks, not-quiet-under-his-breathe enough that she can hear but Saïx, at least a hundred yards away but with his near-canine ears, can not. "Waiting like that… perfectly patient until teacher goes away. Why do you want to know about that anyway?"

"I was just curious…" Naminé sighs, trying to reclaim her hand. It was caught in an earth-soiled, wire-strong grip and emerald green eyes burned into her own washed-out blue.

His eyes, so similar to the color of those grasshoppers. Leaves and acid and neon chemicals. "Curiousity killed the cat, kitten."

"Sorry. It's fine…" she sighs again, tracing the delicate bones through the thin skin on the top of his hand. She notices the way he's death-gripping her still. "What's wrong?"

There's that bird-cat-something-other head-tilt again. "Demyx - has he…?"

"No," she laughs, "He's so shy."

Axel is mostly silent, but then turns to look up again, a soft smile pulling at his lips. "I thought by now you might have gotten him over it. I guess not though."

Naminé smiles as his other hand runs smoothly up her thigh. He jerks back quite suddenly, though, after a moment or so.

"Axel," Saïx calls, "It's time we left. It's getting dark."

The Berserker strode up in that silent, determined way he always seemed to affect when he wanted something done now.

The smirk returns. "Find me a big fat spider and we can get the hell out of here."

Saïx blanches again.

He laughs. "Just messing with you. C'mon, let's go."

Naminé nods, grabbed her supplies and rose.

She's drawn page after page of Lae today. Even if he was shy to tell her what he'd been before he became a Nobody, she knew already. She just wanted to hear it from him.

"Axel…"

The red head looks up, hot eyes burning on Saix's back to make sure the blue-haired male is far enough ahead that he could speak unheard. He stopped, caught Naminé by the shoulder and pressed his lips close to her ear, cups a hand between their cheeks. His skin burns like a lit paper lantern.

"I was the one hiding under your bed…" he whispers softly, the most endearing tone making the words almost acceptable. It's clearly a quote from somewhere, the end broken off, but Naminé still shudders. His breath is nothing but burning sandalwood and earth, but that's pleasant somehow.

"I thought so…"

"Let's go home," he laughs, "Run, kiddo. I'll catch up later."

Naminé obeyed, but glancing over her shoulder, she sees him bend one more time, snatching a grasshopper from its repose in a single swift movement.

He's always so much more artful about it.