AN: Why does Demyx have hearing aids? D: Read The Day the Music Died to find out.
"How do you fit headphones over those things?"
Demyx, seated on Roxas's bed with a steady stream of music being pumped into his defective ears, threw a pillow at Axel, narrowly missing the can of cola on the floor next to him. "How do you fit all that food in your skinny frame?"
Axel looked back at him. "I manage!" he said in an affronted tone, then cursed as he realized Roxas had taken advantage of his brief distraction to give his video game character a good thrashing. "That wasn't very nice!"
Roxas shrugged. "Don't pick on Demyx's hearing aids then." He got a whiff of Axel's breath. "And stay away from Luxord's wine; that might help too."
"I don't drink that crap, got it memorized? It tastes like bug spray."
"Must be some delicious bug spray, because it's all over your breath."
Axel made a pungent retort, which earned him another pillow from Demyx. "No hurting pwecious wittle Woxas's virgin ears, okay? Or he'll end up like me! Now wash that wine out of your mouth with soap."
Axel made another pungent retort and took another swig of cola before going back to his game for approximately ten seconds. "Aw, crap...Rox, where's your bathroom? Quick?"
Roxas pointed him in the right direction, and he fled awkwardly. Roxas handed Axel's controller over to Demyx, who'd pulled himself up to where the action was. "Here, you can play for him; he didn't even bother to pause..."
"Well, that was his third can in what, an hour and a half? Not even that long? Hey, what the -?!"
"That was for calling me 'Woxas'."
"You just killed Axel! While he was taking a leak! How mean do you get?!"
At breakfast the next morning, Axel carefully examined the empty platter Lexaeus was holding in front of him. "Um...Lex...it's empty."
"Why is it empty?" The Silent Hero's voice by itself could have chipped stone.
"Um...because someone ate all the pancakes?"
Axel looked down at his plate. "Oh...I guess I did." Lexaeus shook his head in disgust and set the platter down.
Roxas covered his face with his hand. Demyx laughed. "'Oh, I guess I did...' You mean you honestly didn't notice?!"
Axel's face was as red as his hair. "Shut up. I was hungry."
"Hungry, yeah. You ate almost the entire plateful by yourself - Lexaeus and I managed to get one apiece and you just scarfed the rest. Where do you put it, for Kingdom Hearts's sake?"
Roxas shook an empty jug. "Same place he puts the orange juice."
Xigbar grabbed the jug and looked into it. "Dude - you're a stick! Where's it all go?"
Axel muttered something under his breath, then went even redder and excused himself hastily. Demyx watched him leave. "There's your answer."
Axel and Demyx were both sent on short scouting missions that day, while Roxas was left behind at the Castle that Never Was. He'd intended to spend his day off alone kicking around and listening to music, but a hunt for a missing CD led him to Axel's room, and a misdirected sense of duty led him to clean Axel's room.
Wow, there are a ton of food containers and cans and bottles in here...didn't Luxord find a world where you could get munny for handing in empty cans and bottles? I bet Axel's got a small fortune in here...that probably has to do why he spends so much time in the can lately.
Wait a second...
Roxas shook his head, trying to chase off the conclusion he'd just formed. Bulimia's something that goes on with neurotic, looks-obsessed teenage girls, not guys like Axel. That can't possibly be it. He's just been really hungry and thirsty lately, and he's going to the bathroom a lot because of it.
He shook his head again, not convincing himself. I can't ask Axel about it right away. If I'm right, he'll probably deny it; if I'm wrong, I'll look stupid. I'll ask Demyx.
Roxas was roused out of his half-doze by someone shaking him. What are you doing in my room? Demyx signed.
"Demyx - I needed to talk -" Roxas stopped, realizing Demyx wouldn't resort to sign language if he could hear himself, or Roxas, speak. I needed to talk to you when you got back. Did something happen to your hearing aids?
Demyx winced. Yes - they both burned out. I need to see Four about new batteries. And I was done with everything the boss wanted anyway - I just won't be able to fill out all my paperwork there. I'll be back in a few, OK?
Roxas nodded, feeling a little sorry for the musician who had to rely on machines to hear his own music. He'd just remembered where in his own room he'd left the CD he'd been looking for when Demyx returned, shaking his head as if he'd just gone through something deeply disturbing.
"That is so unpleasant...so what did you want to talk about?"
Roxas took a deep breath, wondering how to start without making a fool of himself. "...I'm worried about Axel."
Instead of laughing, rolling his eyes, or any of a million other things Roxas was afraid he'd do, Demyx nodded seriously. "What about Axel?"
He didn't waste much time thinking about what he was saying. "I think he may have bulimia...it's the binge-and-purge disease, isn't it...well, you know Axel's been eating and drinking enough for five people lately - he always eats a lot, but even more now, but he's still losing weight - and he's spending so much time in the bathroom now too..."
Demyx held up his hand. "Ah. That I can deny. I share a bathroom with Axel, and let me tell you, he's in there doing exactly what he says he's doing, not making himself throw up or anything. Trust me. His aim is awful." That shocked a laugh out of Roxas. The Melodious Nocturne became thoughtful. "But...yeah...when you look at them all one by one, you think 'Axel's always hungry, Axel's always been skinny, Axel's been drinking like a fish lately, no wonder he's in the bathroom so much, all no big deal'...but you look at them all at once, and...it does seem weird. Maybe we should ask Vexen about it."
"Axel would kill us. With fire."
Demyx held his hand over his head. A bluish-white light glowed, and his sitar appeared. "Fear not, for I know our dread enemy's one great weakness. Besides, if we don't do anything, that might kill him."
Roxas gulped. "What do you think is the problem?"
Demyx shook his head. "No idea. It might be nothing; there might not be a problem. But there could be a huge problem. That's why I wanted to ask Vexen."
"And the two of you decided Eight's abnormal behavior patterns were cause for medical concern?"
Demyx and Roxas looked at each other - if they hadn't, they wouldn't be here. Instead of voicing that thought, they both nodded to Vexen.
"Have either of you noticed anything else unusual about him - odors on his breath, drowsiness, labored breathing?"
"Well...I did notice yesterday that his breath smelled like wine..." Roxas said. "I assumed he'd been at Ten's stash, but he denied it."
Vexen looked thoughtful. "I have a strong suspicion as to what Eight's condition is...however, I will need to perform certain tests in order to be sure. As soon as Eight returns, he is to be brought to the secondary specimen collection room downstairs."
Why the other room? Roxas mouthed.
Demyx nodded at the shelves full of bottles. He's a fire hazard on legs. I'll bring him. He can't set me on fire very well. Roxas nodded.
Unfortunately, Demyx himself began to nod off while waiting for Axel to return. The first he knew about it was hearing the bathroom door slam.
Crap. He stood up and knocked. "I'll be out in a minute, just be patient," he heard.
"I need to talk to you when you get out," he replied. Axel muttered something behind the door, then came the sound and sense of water rushing through the pipes. The redhead emerged into Demyx's room, instead of his own. He was breathing heavily - wasn't that one of the things Vexen said to watch out for? And - yeah, he definitely smelled like wine. "Axel, are you okay? You seem out of breath."
"Yeah, I'm good. You wanted to talk?"
"Ah, yeah, I just..." Demyx took Axel's arm and led him out of the room, chattering blithely all the while. He didn't really say anything meaningful at all, but he kept Axel so thoroughly distracted that by the time he finally said "Demyx, either get to the point or shut your face!" they were right where Vexen wanted them.
"Here you are. Delivered as promised."
Axel turned and faced him slowly, eyes widening with horror. "Oh, you traitor."
Vexen seized their arms and dragged them both inside before Axel could protest. "Eight - your friends have expressed certain concerns about your health recently -"
"Demyx, you -" The door closed with a rush of cold air.
Knock, knock. "Axel, are you all right?"
No more trips to Twilight Town with Roxas. No more evenings spent eating ice cream on the clock tower.
"Go away, Roxas."
No more snatching and eating the marshmallows Demyx jokingly tried to toast using him as a campfire.
"Seriously, I just want to know if you're okay."
No more sneaking into the kitchen and stealing Zexion's cookies while they were still too hot for anyone else to handle.
"I'm not. Happy now?"
No more burgers. No more french fries. No more sugar.
"No, I'm not happy. Let me in."
Axel raised his head off his pillow to look at the bandage in the crook of his elbow, then looked at his fingers. He shuddered to think of the abuse they would now have to endure - day after day after day. For the rest of his existence.
And if eating a rigidly controlled diet that avoided all his favorite foods wasn't enough - he'd have to give himself injections, day after day after day, for the rest of his existence. He twitched slightly at the memory of the injection Vexen had already given him. He'd have to spend his existence according to a schedule - eat now, check blood sugar now, inject self with insulin now. First, of course, they'd have to figure out what that schedule should be. "They" mostly being Vexen and Zexion, and not Axel himself.
He wanted to cry.
The door creaked open. "Axel, what's wrong?"
Axel glared evilly at Roxas and shoved a pamphlet about type I diabetes at him. It was starting to smoke and curl slightly around the edges. "That is what's wrong." While Roxas read it over, Axel went back to considering the horrible fate Demyx had earned in exchange for ratting him out to Vexen.
"Oh," Roxas finally said in a small voice. "That's - bad."
"Yes, Roxas," Axel replied, biting off every word, "it is pretty bad." He buried his face in his pillow again.
"Is there - anything I can do?"
"Yeah. Make it happen to someone else."
"Get. Lost. I'm not in the mood to chat right now."
Roxas could tell just by listening in at his door that Demyx was pretty tense - instead of the rock music he usually favored, he was indulging in something classical tonight, and not just any classical piece, but Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain". That particular piece tended to creep Roxas out and make him even more tense, but to each his own, especially if that "each" was Demyx.
He knocked, and got a better response than he had from Axel. "Hey, come in. What's up?"
"Axel is what's up..." Roxas muttered.
"Well, what's up with Axel? He's been quiet in there - he didn't kill himself or anything, did he?"
Roxas held out the singed pamphlet. "Apparently, that's what's wrong with him. He was angsting into his pillow last I saw."
Demyx took the pamphlet and read it with wide eyes. "Kingdom Hearts. I don't blame him. Wow - I knew something weird was going on, but I didn't think it was that bad..." He sighed. "I can't believe it. Axel not being able to eat junk food...that's like - like..."
"Like you going deaf."
Demyx looked up. "Roxas, I have hearing aids. What would Axel have? Going by this, I think even if he's on insulin, he'd be taking his existence into his own hands eating whatever he felt like..." He shook his head. "I assume I'm on fire watch tonight."
Roxas nodded reluctantly. "Yeah. Probably a good idea. See you at dinner."
Demyx was a little reluctant to go to dinner. He just knew it would be awkward for Axel, and though he knew why, he wasn't sure he was supposed to. After all, it had been Roxas who told him, not Axel, and he didn't want to cause trouble between two best friends.
He's so angry because this was so sudden, I guess. At least I had warning, he thought to himself.
He didn't have any warning about the hand suddenly reaching out to grab him by the throat.
At dinner, Roxas immediately noted three things. First, Xaldin had deviated from his usual menu, which was made to cater to unfussy males and a woman who ate broken glass (Zexion was fussy; then again, Zexion ate at irregular times and generally took charge of his own food). Instead of something heavy with red meat and shy on vegetable matter, he was offering chicken - not fried, but roasted - with broccoli and brown rice. Marluxia looked like he wanted to throw a fit about the eating of plants, but he'd be lucky not to catch a spear in his open mouth if he did, and he knew it - Xaldin didn't like complainers. Some of the other people at the table looked at Xaldin questioningly, but only Marluxia was reluctant to eat any part of it, and he still attacked the chicken without a hint of complaint.
Second, there was a bandage on Axel's finger. Roxas wanted to ask about that, until he remembered that diabetics were supposed to test their own blood sugar before meals, and bringing it up would probably lead to a spontaneous kitchen fire.
Third, Demyx wasn't there. Now this was worrying.
"Axel, do you know where Demyx is?"
Axel glanced up briefly from peeling the skin off his chicken, not really making eye contact. "Probably in his room taking a nap...he told me he wasn't feeling too great." Roxas nodded doubtfully, not wanting to press the issue, but wondering what Axel wasn't telling him.
After dinner, Roxas went and knocked on Demyx's door, but got no answer, not even music. Just in case, he opened the door to look, and found the room to be empty. He checked the Hall of Empty Melodies, where Demyx sometimes hid out and played if he was feeling angsty, but the Melodious Nocturne wasn't there either.
Where else? If Demyx was seriously ill, he might be in the medical wing, but if he'd gone that far downhill that fast, Vexen probably would have skipped dinner too. He might be in the library - if he wanted to be left alone for some reason, the library was a good place to hide; it wasn't like Zexion would go out of his way to bother him as long as he didn't bother Zexion.
As Roxas pushed open the library doors, he heard voices. He quickly slipped inside, hiding behind a shelf, and listened.
"Nine, may I suggest perhaps fighting back next time?"
"He took me by surprise. I didn't have much of a chance." Demyx's voice was oddly subdued.
"Throwing a punch in return doesn't require a great deal of concentration and forethought."
"I didn't even have that much of a chance."
"It takes a certain amount of time to batter someone's face until their eye bleeds. Surely you had some opportunity to react within that timeframe."
"Zexion, he was punching me in the face the whole time, remember? I might have actually blacked out once or twice, I don't remember."
"Perhaps when he stopped, you might have summoned your weapon and struck back somehow?"
"...Why? He threw me at the wall and walked off. Fight over. I lost. I lost hard. Why keep it going?"
"...Is the concept of revenge so foreign to you as that?...I don't believe this. Your Other must be an absolute saint."
"Pfft. Not likely. And you might remember that my face was bleeding at the time, and I was extremely dizzy. I wasn't thinking 'kill Axel'. I was thinking 'stop bleeding' and 'stop hallway from spinning'. It took me three tries just to stand up."
"Axel did what?!" Roxas couldn't take it anymore. Someone randomly punching Demyx until he bled was bad enough, for all Demyx was one of nature's punching bags, but if that someone was Axel...
Zexion was sitting at a table, with a stack of medical reference books and a notebook he was busily writing in. Demyx was lying on the couch, holding a bag of ice to the left side of his face, though his right cheek was also starting to swell and turn purple. "Roxas? What are you doing here? How long have you been listening?"
"I came in at 'Nine, may I suggest fighting back next time.'"
"So I don't need to explain what ate my face..."
"Axel. I gathered. Just didn't catch why..."
"I didn't either. All I caught was his fist." Demyx shifted the ice pack a little and gingerly touched the bruised flesh underneath. "Kingdom Hearts, that's sore, even with the ice. I'm just glad he didn't break any teeth."
"According to him, you weren't at dinner because you weren't feeling well."
"That is true. I was very dizzy, disoriented, barely conscious, and had blood coming out of my eye. In fact, I'm still not feeling well. I just had my face bashed in by a lunatic for no reason. That's disturbing."
"That is disturbing..." In fact, it made Roxas genuinely nervous. "Maybe I should talk to him."
Zexion looked up briefly. "Wear armor."
Knock knock knock knock knock! "Axel!"
Axel wasn't feeling a bit more sociable than he had before dinner. "Go away, Roxas."
"No." The locked door rattled. "What did you do to Demyx? More importantly, why?"
"I don't feel like talking. Got it memorized? Now go away."
"Axel, open the door or I swear I will take a Keyblade to it." Axel didn't bother to answer.
Oh. He was serious.
Axel unlocked the door to reveal a very unhappy Roxas, Keyblade still in hand, and a rough dent in the wood. "There. The door is open. I opened it. Please don't destroy it. Now go away." He closed the door again.
Whunk! "That wasn't funny, Axel." Whunk! "I need to talk to you."
Axel jerked the door open. "Okay, okay, just don't break my door...any more than you already have..."
"I'm honestly considering breaking your face. What did you do to Demyx?"
There was no good answer. Axel could see that with his eyes closed. "...What do you think I did to Demyx?" he asked, to stall for time.
"I think you punched him in the face until he blacked out and started bleeding, then threw him into a wall and walked off like nothing happened." The Keyblade was starting to make Axel nervous. Two hours ago, he would never have seriously considered that Roxas might attack him. Now, he wasn't nearly as sure as he'd like.
He gulped. "What makes you think I did that?"
"I saw him, you idiot. I talked to him. I asked him what tried to tear his face off, and he said you did." The other Keyblade was out now. Axel backed up a step.
"Roxas, what do you want?!"
Roxas stepped into the room and shut the door behind him. "Either you talk to me or you talk to the Keyblades."
"Right now, yes, I would."
Axel stared at him. "I believe you." He sat down on the bed. "When you put it that way...I'll talk."
"Good." Roxas sat down on a chair facing him and dispelled his Keyblades. "First question: Why'd you try to break Demyx's face?"
Axel rubbed his forehead. He could sense this wouldn't be a very comfortable experience. "I was...angry at him."
"Why?" Barely even a pause. Roxas was steamed.
"For...for ratting me out to Vexen, I guess." It seemed like such a stupid reason trying to explain it to somebody else.
"Ratting you out to Vexen - you mean finding out what was wrong with you? Saving your life?"
"With news like that, forgive me if I don't seem adequately grateful!" Axel snapped. He wondered what in Kingdom Hearts's name Roxas was trying to do, besides make him feel worse. He shouldn't be able to do that!
"Axel...we told Vexen. We being Demyx and I. Are you going to try to break my face now?"
Axel felt about the size of an acorn. "No," he said in an appropriately small voice.
"Then why did you think it was a good idea to break Demyx's?"
"I thought he just did it to be a jackass," Axel mumbled. "I didn't think you were both in on it."
Roxas rolled his eyes. "We were worried about you, Axel!" he said, slurring the x into an s so Axel's name sounded like something completely different. "And apparently with good reason!"
"Oh..." Axel wanted to crawl under the bed and hide. "Sorry."
"Maybe it's your blood sugar being so out of whack that's messing you up." Roxas had calmed down a little.
"I don't know...maybe I just needed to blame somebody. Though you'd think if I was mad at the universe, I could pick a better scapegoat than a deaf musician."
"That is true...so how bad is it going to be, really? I'm here to catch your complaints before they explode all over everyone."
"...You want the ugly details? Fine. First, I won't be able to sleep in anymore, ever..."
"Dude - you okay?"
Normally standing twenty feet over someone's head and talking to them when they had no idea anyone was there was guaranteed to make them jump a yard, especially when the only light in the room was their own candles. Demyx didn't react at all; he just kept playing his sitar and stopping occasionally to write something down. Xigbar frowned. "Come on, dude, I know you can hear me, otherwise you wouldn't be able to play." The Hall of Empty Melodies wasn't exactly designed to dampen sound, either. Each note seemed to resonate endlessly, not to mention what it did to your voice.
And the notes kept playing, and the Melodious Nocturne kept ignoring the Freeshooter.
Xigbar walked down the wall and onto the floor, grumbling all the while. "Dude, what's eating you? You've been camped out here for two hours pretending the rest of us aren't there, so wrapped up in what you're playing you don't hear a word I say, and you don't have your hearing aids in so I just wasted my breath. Wait - how..." He leaned over and snatched Demyx's staff paper. That finally got the musician's attention.
"Give that back. I was on a roll," he said loudly. Xigbar didn't know sign language, so he just gestured at his ears. Demyx got the message and replaced his hearing aids. "Can I have those back now?"
"You've got two questions to answer first, dude. First, what in Kingdom Hearts did you break your face on? Second, how can you play without your hearing aids?"
"The answer to the first question is...the stairs. The answer to the second is - I manage." Demyx grabbed the staff paper before Xigbar could react.
"The stairs." Xigbar sounded doubtful.
"The stairs." Demyx's tone didn't invite argument.
"The stairs wouldn't happen to be six-foot-seven and have bright red hair and pyromaniac tendencies, would they?"
Demyx looked innocent. "You sound suspicious."
"That wasn't quite a denial there, dude. Let me see the other side of your face." Reluctantly, Demyx turned his head so the other side of his face was illuminated by the candles. Xigbar whistled. "Kingdom Hearts. What did 'the stairs' hit you with, dude, a lead pipe?"
Demyx turned back to face into the darkness. "Leave me alone, please."
"Don't have to." Xigbar sat down in front of him. Demyx responded by moving his staff paper out of the older man's reach and removing his hearing aids. "Hey, dude, that's cheating."
"Stick around if you want, but you'll get bored." Demyx went back to composing, as if Xigbar wasn't even there.
"Hey -" Xigbar knew for a fact the young musician could read lips. He grabbed Demyx's chin - gently; he didn't need any more bruises - and turned his face towards him. "Why's it getting to you so bad, dude?"
Demyx jerked away. "I didn't fight back...I didn't even try."
"Dude - put your ears back on so I can talk to you...fine, I guess I'll just talk at you and hope you're watching. But you'd better watch!"
Axel grinned at his female companion and ruffled her strawberry-blonde hair. "Do that thing with the fire again," she whispered.
"Your wish is my command, got it memorized?" He paused. "Just - what thing with the fire? There's a million of 'em."
She giggled. "Whatever you feel like. You know what you can do better than I do."
Axel produced a little flaming heart hovering over his palm. "How do you like that?" he asked, slipping his other arm around her waist.
"It's beautiful!" She leaned her head on his shoulder. "Can you make it any bigger?"
"The work of a mo-"
Something fell on Axel's leg. He was jolted awake to find his video game controller sliding down his leg, Roxas's head on his shoulder, and his arm around Roxas's waist. "Aah!" He jerked his arm back. Roxas immediately woke up.
"Axel - what the..."
"Sorry! Sorry! I was asleep - dreaming - and..."
"And you thought you were getting cozy with a girl, I hope?"
"Yeah...I'm all stiff now...did we fall asleep at the controls or something?" He noticed Roxas was still holding his controller.
"We must have...ow." Roxas stood up stiffly. "Sometime after 1:15, but I don't know if it was before or after 2:00."
Axel glanced at the little digital clock on the windowsill. 7:39.
Good morning, Axel, Number Eight in Organization XIII, Flurry of Dancing Flames, and welcome to your brand new insulin-regulated existence.
He stood up and disappeared into the bathroom with his "supplies", hoping he didn't find Demyx already there.
"Think you'll ever get used to it?" Roxas asked when he emerged.
"It's a little hard getting used to sticking needles in your legs and blades in your fingers on a several-times-daily basis, got it memorized?"
Roxas shook his head. "You're a brave guy. Braver than I am."
Axel scoffed at that, but the hole in his chest felt oddly warmer.
"Huh?" Xigbar woke up, rubbing his eye. "Where am I?"
Demyx smiled lopsidedly. "Still on the floor in the Hall of Empty Melodies, where you fell asleep last night. Apparently my new composition put you to sleep. That or your own lecture about I don't remember what anymore. You started out talking about how I shouldn't let other people decide my attitude and self-worth, but then you kind of wandered off that topic. And I wasn't watching you the whole time."
"Oh...morning, dude. I did about talk my face off, didn't I. Your face does not look any better for lack of sleep. I thought I told you to get some."
"Well, we don't have any dogs and small children around that I can scare, so if we keep the mirrors covered so I don't break them, we should do just fine." Demyx had no idea how bad his face looked, but figured that only being able to see out of one eye was a big hint. He put his hands up to check - the entire left side of his face and a fair portion of the right side was swollen, probably purple, and definitely very tender. "Maybe I'll just hide from the rest of the Organization and put the finishing touches on this while I wait for my face to grow back together."
Xigbar's jaw dropped. "Finishing touches? Dude - you finished it?"
"I...think so...I haven't actually heard it yet."
"You haven't heard it?!" Xigbar gaped in disbelief.
"Nope. I wrote the entire thing without my hearing aids. It worked for Beethoven, so I figured I'd give it a shot."
Xigbar shook his head. "Dude...how?"
Demyx spent a good thirty seconds trying to find the words to explain before accepting defeat. "I...I...uh...If you're not a musician, I don't think I can tell you in a way you'd understand."
Xigbar nodded uncomprehendingly. "All right, dude, why don't we have a listen and then grab some breakfast? That sound good?"
Axel's current schedule wasn't exactly in sync with the Organization's regular dining times, and Roxas loyally chose to eat with Axel instead of the rest of the Organization.
"What am I gonna do about breakfast..." Axel pulled a list of "allowed" foods out of his pocket. "Whole-grain cereals, breads, etcetera...fresh fruits and vegetables...'avoid high-fat foods and red meats to lower your risk of heart disease'...lower my risk of what?"
"I smell a lot of fresh fruit and cereal in your future." Roxas had an apple in hand and was looking for a knife to peel it with.
"Wait - uh - fruit's supposed to be unpeeled." Axel began exploring the cupboards in search of some whole-grain cereal low on refined sugar. "Man, these cupboards are deep..."
Roxas heard the door opening behind him. "Morning, Six...wait, you're not Six, either of you."
"Definitely not, dude..." Xigbar mumbled, still looking thoroughly stunned. Demyx, on the other hand, looked extremely pleased with himself, even though one eye was swollen tight shut and most of his face was turning an ugly purple. His expression changed a little when he saw Axel on his knees, head and shoulders into the cereal cupboard, but not much.
You're not going to, are you? Roxas signed. Demyx just smiled and planted his boot solidly against Axel's vulnerable rear.
Clunk! "OWstupidsonofa-" Axel scrambled out of the cupboard and upright, clutching his head. "Oh...um...hi, Demyx."
"Hi...Axel." Again with switching the x for an s.
"...You look good this morning." Demyx replied with a gesture even someone who knew nothing at all about sign language could understand. Just in case Axel didn't get it, he translated it out loud. Roxas hastily took a large bite of his apple to keep himself from laughing. Demyx was still grinning like a cat with all the cream, and Axel was turning alternately red and white.
He finally sat down, hiding his face in his hands. "The first person to remind me I deserved that dies a painful flaming death, got it memorized? Including you, Rox!"
Demyx patted him on the shoulder and set an apple down in front of him. "Here, here's your daily apple...you weren't supposed to burn it!"
"Your peace offering has been sacrificed to the gods. It seemed appropriate."
Roxas sighed. "Axel, you've got to eat something, or your blood sugar's going to crash."
"Roxas..." Now it was the blond's turn to go red and white. Crap...I didn't tell him I told Demyx. "You were not supposed to mention that."
"Figure all but one of us here already knows, dude. No point in keeping it secret."
Axel stared bleakly at the one-eyed Freeshooter. "You know?"
Xigbar shrugged. "Have to, dude. I'm mostly in charge of assigning missions. Had to take you out of the rotation for a month while Vexy and Zexy figure out what you're gonna do with yourself."
"Vexy and Zexy? They'd have a stroke apiece if they heard that." Axel paused. "Wait - you mean I'm getting an entire month off?"
Xigbar nodded. "The brains of the outfit figure it'll take at least that long to sort out your schedule. Heck, Beethoven here got five weeks when his ears finally died on him."
Axel didn't look as enthusiastic as Roxas would have been. "What am I going to do with myself for a month, besides stick myself full of holes and chart my blood sugar? I can't even exercise strenuously."
Roxas shrugged, but he was grinning. "I don't know, look for ice cream shops that sell sugar-free ice cream?"
Axel stared at him openmouthed, then pulled his "allowed foods" list out of his pocket. "Why didn't I think of that sooner..."
Roxas gave him an invisible thumbs-up. "So...Xigbar, why did you call Demyx Beethoven?"
"He was flattering me," Demyx murmured. He was blushing.
"Oh, that...seriously, dudes, you have to listen what he came up with..."
Fin. The sweetest things in life require no sugar.
AN2: After I finished The Day the Music Died, three different story ideas popped up and started fighting for my attention. Diabetic!Axel is the only one that didn't involve any character death, so I went with it. How would Axel react to devastating personal news? Badly. I had to bring back deaf!Demyx, with hearing aids as promised. Apologies for the length.
Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts and its associated characters belong to Square Enix and Disney. This document is certified to be free of typographical errors by the author.
No, I did not insert myself into Axel's dream. Shame on you if you thought I did.