Zexion took a shuddering breath with each shaky step as he desperately tried to make the last few steps to the Castle that Never Was. His whole body ached, coursing with each racing heartbeat a flow of weariness and exhaustion. He could barely open his eyes, and he reached out his arms, trying to keep his balance. Relying on his intuition, he managed to reach the door. As it opened, he felt his legs give way. He felt strong arms receive him just as he collapsed.
"Ve...n..." whimpering, he could barely force the name out.
"Vexen's coming soon, Zex. Roxas is getting him right now, ok? Just let me get you to..."
the voice drifted off, and it took Zexion another two minutes to realise it was Axel, as he was lifted higher draped over his arms, and carried through the Castle.
"But Sir, VI should have been back three days ago, and I need to be on watch for him!"
"IV, The Schemer will survive. He obviously needs the extra training, and you need to give me your report."
Vexens' appearance was haggard, he had been so distraught by Zexion's absence. While his face was currently partly covered by his long blonde hair, it was not enough to hide the sunken, darkened eyes frought with worry.
"No, IV. You-"
Suddenly, the door to Xemnas' study flew open, and a very panicked Roxas ran into the room.
"Sir, sorry but Vexen's back."
"XIII, what is the problem?"
Roxas turned to Vexen.
"He's bad, Vexen. You need to come. Axel's got him now."
Vexen's eyes widened, and he glanced at The Superior for his approval.
"IV, go see to VI. When he is well enough, send him to my office."
Without a word, Roxas seized Vexens' sleeve and pulled him out of the room at a run. As soon as they were out in the hallway, Roxas opened a dark portal and they entered without hesitation.
Axel's head shot up as soon as he heard Roxas enter with Vexen.
"Vex, I got him at the door. I'm not sure what's wrong...he hasn't opened his eyes, even though he's awake..."
Vexen flew across the room to Zexion's side, and placed a hand on his brow.
"I'm here Zex, ok? you're going to be ok but I need you to open your eyes for me."
Zexion squirmed on the matress, his eyes tightly shut.
"Noo...Vex, it hurts..." He whimpered.
"I know, I know, but I need to see your eyes to-"
"IT'S BURNING!" Zexion suddlenly screeched, panting frantically. He shuddered, sweating.
Vexen placed both hands onto his brow, letting some ice flow and gasped as it melted.
"It's burning so much..." Zexion mumbled.
Vexen reached for his hand.
"Axel! I need you to take the heat from him."
"But you control ice-"
"I know, but I need to try to get him to open his eyes."
Zexion was having spasms now, trying to twist out of the way as some dark foe came over him. Roxas pinned his legs down, his face stony with grim concentration.
Vexen, with tears in his eyes that he should see his Zexion like this. He rubbed his thumb between Zexion's eyes, cooling the skin and making it spread all through his head.
Zexion screwed his face up, and Vexen could tell from the sudden inflation of his chest that he had taken a deep breath.
Vexen placed two icy fingertips on either side of Zexion's head.
"All you need to do is open your eyes, Zexy."
When Zexion opened his eyes, a scream lodged in his throat. He couldn't see anything. It was all black. He heard a quiet gasp and scrunched his eyes up again in an effort to mask the abormality. He realised he was gasping for breath, and sweating, overheating despite Vexen's flow of ice sending chills down his body.
"What's wrong?" he shrieked.
When there was no answer, his voice cracked.
"Vexen!" he wailed, "I can't see."
he felt tears fall down his face, and wondered why he hadn't felt them form in his eyes.
"aw, no, Zex...hold on, ok? Axel, Roxas, come here."
The way Vexen sounded scared Zexion. He has never sounded like this before.
"What is it?" He whispered, for once unsure if you really wanted to know.
The rustle of movement stopped. He heard Vexen take a breath.
"Y-you're affected by darkness, Zexion. It's..taking over your body."
Vexen felt like crying. Never had he imagined that Zexion would become so injured, so helpless and vulnerable. The disease could only be cured by light, the amount of which so large that the body is not likely to be able to endure. That is, if the mind survives relatively intact also.
Zexion's mind is the strongest of all in the Organization, but the pain...may well be unbearable.
Zexion knew this. Vexen and he had written a report on the disease when they had first encountered it. The catch was, it had only ever been seen in much lesser forms of Nobodies.
Looking down on Zexion, he looked weak and alone. It was truly horrible to see him like this. Vexen reached and took hold of his hand, and bent to whisper in his ear.
"I do not worry about your mind, but the pain, my Zexion."
Zexions' eyes were burning, and he could feel it spreading slowly but steadily down towards his neck.
"I know. But please...just...stop it hurting."
He felt Vexen squeeze his hand.
"Ok Zex. This will hurt. Axel and Roxas will combine fire with light to melt the darkness from you."
Zexion, his lip already torn and raw, felt a trickle run down his chin.
He knew all too well it would hurt. It was too difficult to hide a sob, and he tried to stop more from racking his body.
Vexen's frosty scent grew stronger, and cold air clew into his ear as he whispered.
"I'm right here. I will be, all the way."
He felt an icy kiss on his forehead.
The light flared.
The brightness did not burn.
Rather than seeing inky blackness, Zexion could see yellowish light.
His eyes were on fire. Waves of anguish forcing the pain into his mind, relentlessly submerging him in white-hot suffering.
He screamed. Screamed as his mind exploded, as his throat was ravaged raw.
He ceased to feel the weighed holding him down, and he felt as if he was floating as his own roars racked his body.
He couldn't feel anything but pain.
He couldn't feel Vexen.
And suddenly, with that realisation, he was terrified.
Fright settled over his mind, and he felt his heart thumping again as adrenaline rushed through him. He felt both empowered and incapacitated, every beat bringing both strength and pain. He felt himself launch upwards, hand clawing the edges of the bed. He was in a fever- sweating again, shaking. He screamed madly at the dark beings taking over his body, shrieked and fought with all his power and might...
Cold air was gently blowing on his brow, his face. Light, gentle hands pushing him down back onto the soft bed, whispering in his ear, cooling his body, calming his mind, taking the pain with the stability of the embrace, easing him into a deep, peaceful sleep.