AN: Very weak stomachs may wish to avoid reading certain sections while eating.

"What's the matter with you?" Axel elbowed Roxas gently. "Normally you're the one kicking my ass, or at least making a good fight of it!"

Roxas sighed listlessly and set his controller down. "I dunno," he mumbled. "Guess I'm just not interested right now."

"Not interested? When are you ever not interested? Besides, this was your idea to begin with!" Axel threw his controller at the screen. "What's the matter with you? Are you sick?"

Roxas shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe I'm just tired."

Axel looked over at him. "Well, you definitely look sick, so there's a hint."

"...I do?"

"Yeah, you're pale as a sheet." Axel put a hand on Roxas's forehead. "Maybe it's just me, but you seem kinda warm, like you got a fever."

Roxas waved his hand away. He was shivering slightly. "It's probably nothing. I'll be fine. I just need some sleep, I think."

Axel shook his head. "I think you're sick."

"Axel -"

"Hey, it's my right and privilege to worry about you, got it memorized?" He hauled Roxas to his feet, checking to see how steady he was. Roxas looked at him like he'd lost his mind. "How are you doing? Lightheaded, dizzy, queasy?"

"I'm tired. I'm just fucking tired."

Axel blinked and shook his head. "Nah-ah. There's something wrong with you. You never swear at me when you're 'just tired'. Now do you want me to escort you back to your room or carry you back to your room?"

"Would you leave me alone!"


Roxas rolled his eyes and sighed. "Fine. You can escort me to my room. Try to carry me and I'll put a Keyblade through your skull."

Axel was in the bathroom testing his blood sugar when the door opened. "Demyx, does a closed door mean nothing to you?" He glared at his neighbor's reflection in the mirror for a moment, and realized Demyx was just as pale as Roxas, or paler. He turned around, setting the monitor down. "You okay?"

Demyx shook his head, leaning on the doorframe. "No. Not even sorta."

"Maybe you should go lie down, instead of bugging me," Axel suggested.

Demyx groaned softly, turning even paler and clutching his stomach. "Ax, I think I...I-I think I'm -"

He didn't get to finish his sentence before what he was afraid of happened. "God! Dammit!" Axel yelled.

Demyx covered his mouth with his hands, looking horrified and ashamed. "Axel, I am so sorry."

Axel looked down at his robe, now liberally splattered with Demyx's dinner. "Think you're gonna be sick? Guess so. Was that all, or -" Demyx suddenly shoved him out of the way, fell to his knees in front of the toilet, and threw up. "Okay, you're sick, got it memorized?"

"Yeah, it's obvious now." Demyx paused to vomit. "Sorry about your robe."

"I needed a new one anyway." Axel edged away as the Nocturne was sick again. "Man, first Roxas, now you..."

"What's wrong with Roxas?" Demyx just barely got the full sentence out before throwing up.

Now Axel was starting to turn green. "Should I just - leave you alone -"

Demyx looked up at Axel. "Yes." He turned back to the toilet. "Please..." He vomited again as Axel beat a hasty retreat.

Axel knocked on Roxas's door. "Hey, Rox...I hate to bug you again, but if you're still awake..."

There was some grumbling, and Roxas opened the door, looking no better than he had earlier. "I thought I was supposed to be getting some rest..."

"I know, and I'm sorry, but I would really love to use your shower."

"...Why, in Kingdom Hearts's name, can't you use your own?"

Axel took a deep breath. "Because my musically-inclined next-door neighbor, with whom I share restroom facilities, is currently singing a love song to the toilet."

Roxas's mind wasn't working as fast as it normally did. "...What?"

Axel sighed. "Demyx is puking like a damn fountain. I got too close at the wrong time, which is why I want a shower."

"Oh." Roxas's expression changed to disgust. "Ew."

"Yeah, I decided it was easier to just torch my old robe than try to get it off."

"I don't blame you." Roxas stepped back, letting Axel through. "In that case, yeah, shower. I'm going back to bed."

Freshly showered and dressed in a new robe, steam still puffing from his hair, Axel listened warily at the bathroom door. As he didn't hear any more sounds of sickness, he stepped in to check on Demyx. The Melodious Nocturne was attempting to clean up the mess he'd made, without much success - he was too weak and shaky to stay on his feet.

Axel took the cleaning supplies from his hands. "Give it up, sicko. Leave it to someone healthier. Done turning yourself inside out yet?"

Demyx sat down on the edge of the bathtub, clutching his stomach, and nodded miserably. "My stomach is killing me."

"I'd say it made a damn good effort. That is one vicious bug you seem to have picked up. Hopefully it's just one of those 24-hour things."

"Is it the same thing Roxas has?"

Axel looked up in confusion, then shook his head. "No, not even kinda. Roxas isn't throwing up; he's just tired and kinda out of it." Demyx was smiling faintly. "What's so funny?"

"I've never seen you willingly clean the bathroom before."

"I'll do anything for a sick friend, got it memorized? Catching spew, though, is a one-time-only thing, I hope."

Demyx turned a little red despite his pallor. "So do I...sorry about that."

"That's the third time you've apologized for it. You're sick, I'll forgive you. If I was mad about it, I'd set you on fire." Axel noticed Demyx was crying silently. "What else is eating you?"

"I just" Demyx murmured. Water ran down his face - not unusual when he was sick and miserable.

Axel took a break from cleaning. "Get your sick ass into bed, you little wet misery. I'll put it there if you need me to." He slung Demyx's arm around his shoulders and helped him stand; Demyx paled slightly, but kept what was left in his stomach down. Axel led him back into his bedroom and made him lie down. "Feel any better horizontal than vertical?" Demyx nodded weakly. "Good." Axel draped a towel over him, turned his stereo on, and moved his trash can over by his bed. "Night. You'd better be better tomorrow."

Axel sighed heavily. Clearly, Demyx was still sick; Axel had walked into his room to check on him that morning and found him throwing up into his trash can. Axel shook his head and waited, trying hard not to listen, until Demyx's stomach quit heaving.

Demyx was absolutely grey by the time he finished. "I'm not better," was all he said.

"No, you're not..." Axel agreed. "Damn...I thought you ran out of guts last night!"

Demyx closed his eyes and whimpered. "I dunno, Ax...I'm sick. I'm really sick. I need help."

Axel pulled Demyx's blankets over him, shaking his head. "Man...yesterday morning you were fine. I'm gonna tell Vexen, and see what he can do, okay?" Demyx nodded miserably. Axel left a washcloth on his forehead to soak before going to check on Roxas.

"Hey, Rox, you awake?"

"Ax-xel?" came the weak response.

That wasn't an encouraging sign. Neither was the fact that Roxas didn't brighten the room when he heard Axel's voice. Axel went for the light switch. Roxas was wrapped in every blanket he owned, which did nothing about the fever chills racking his frame. He had gone from pale to flushed, and his eyes were unnaturally bright. "Kingdom Hearts, Rox - you look awful." Roxas nodded weakly. Axel went and put a hand on his forehead. "Wow - you're burning. And this is me saying that - oh, hell. Not like I wasn't en route to Vexen's lab anyway - might as well report both of you at once."

Roxas turned his head to look up at him. "B-both of us-s?"

"Yeah, Demyx hasn't stopped puking yet." Axel sighed. "This is gonna be a lot of fun, with both of you sick." He went into Roxas's bathroom and prepared a cool, wet washcloth to lay over the Key of Destiny's forehead. "How's that feel? Better?" Roxas nodded. "Good. I'll be back soon." He teleported into Vexen's lab.

"Morning, dude - don't tell me, Demyx is sick too." Axel looked around in surprise. Xigbar smiled mirthlessly. "Seems like every other member has come down with something or other. There's a line to tell the Iceman about it." Vexen was talking to Lexaeus at the moment - doing most of the talking, with the Silent Hero responding in nods, headshakes, and the occasional short sentence.

Axel sighed. "Demyx and Roxas both. Vexen and Zexion are gonna be running their asses off."

Xigbar shook his head. "Guess who Lex is reporting on."

"...Aw, hell. Scratch Zexion, then. Vexen is gonna be running his ass off. What are you here for, if I dare ask?"

"Xaldin woke up with a cough that just won't quit. Driving both of us crazy. How are your fellow juvenile delinquents?"

"Roxas has a nasty fever - even I thought it was high - and chills; he was all wrapped up in blankets when I found him. And Demyx is throwing up nonstop."

"Sounds nasty, dude." Xigbar winced sympathetically. "That can't be fun to share a bathroom with."

Axel shook his head. "Who all is sick, that you know of?"

"Well, Xaldin, Zex, your fellow JDs, and you missed Marly by about two minutes - apparently Luxord can't stop sneezing, and whenever he sneezes, time within ten feet of him jumps backwards a couple seconds." Axel laughed. "Yeah, that sounds funny, but it's not fun. The boss is still functioning, I know, but I dunno about the lady or the loony, and damned if I'll be the one to check on either of them."

Axel thought for a moment. "So that's five out of thirteen non-functional, maybe up to seven if it turns out Larxene and Saïx are both sick, and I don't want to think about if any more of us catch it. Whatever 'it' is."

"Yeah...with so many of us out of commission, we kinda had to delay or scratch every mission on the schedule. Everyone still on their feet's either gonna be helping take care of someone or taking care of the caretakers. Oh, and speak of, dude..."

The door swung open. Larxene looked at them with contempt. "Great," she said in a hoarse, barely audible voice. "I come looking for Vexen and I walk into Clown College by accident."

Axel lightly touched Roxas's face - the only part of him still visible under the mound of blankets. "I wanna move you into my room for a while."

Roxas shuddered with chills. "Why?"

"Because half the Organization is sick, and there's only one Vexen, so some of us healthy people have to take care of you sickos. If you move into my room, it'll be easier for me to take care of you and Demyx at the same time."

Roxas thought about that, and nodded. "I g-guess that mak-kes sense."

Axel smiled. "I kinda thought so too. Can you stand?"

"N-not even g-g-gonna t-try."

"Okay then..." Axel leaned over and picked him up, blankets and all. "Damn, where'd you get the lead blankets?" Roxas squirmed a little with surprise. "Don't do that. You're so well-cushioned I could probably throw you off Memory Skyscraper and you'd be okay, but I really don't wanna drop you even from this height."

"Th-thanks a l-lot." Roxas held as still as he could while Axel teleported them both into his room.

"Hope you're comfortable," Axel said as he set Roxas down on his bed. "If you need more blankets, I'm probably gonna have to hit Demyx up for spares; I only own a couple myself. I don't use 'em much."

Roxas blinked. "W-wait...if I'm g-gonna be in y-your bed...w-where are y-you gonna s-sleep?"

Axel rubbed his forehead. "I kinda figured I'd just roll out a sleeping bag and crash on the floor."

"I knew I'd rub off on you sometime."

Axel looked up in surprise. "Demyx? I thought you were asleep."

Demyx was leaning on the bathroom doorframe, wrapped in a blanket. His face was still grey, but at least he wasn't throwing up at the moment. "I was. Then I woke up. I wanted to see how Roxas was doing."

"M-miserably w-well, thanks. H-how are you?"

"Happier than a clam at high tide as long as there's nothing in my stomach. Though I think not being able to eat is gonna get old."

"Go back to bed, you idiot."

"Fine, fine..." Demyx turned around and stumbled out. "I can tell when I'm not wanted..." Moments later, there was music coming from next door - soft classical music, not loud rock.

Axel smiled slightly. "He'll conk out soon. That stuff's like a lullaby to him."

Roxas nodded. "S-sounds kinda lik-ke a lullab-by to me t-too."

Axel sat down against the wall. "Good. You're both gonna need a lot of rest."

"W-what about y-you?"

"I'm only gonna rest while you two are asleep, I guess..."

When Axel blinked awake the next morning, it took him a few moments to realize he was lying in a sleeping bag on his own floor. It took a few more moments to remember that he was sleeping on the floor because he was letting Roxas use his bed. It was a few moments after that when he realized the floor was wet.

What. An. Idiot. He stood up and draped his sleeping bag over his chair as the damp carpet steamed dry. When he was satisfied that all excess water had been evaporated, he went to give Demyx a talking-to. Noticing the Melodious Nocturne's hearing aids were still on his head as opposed to his bedside table, he flicked the stereo on.

"If you were trying to wake me up, I was already awake," Demyx said softly. He was curled up in a ball, with water running off him in streams.

"Could you quit with the fountain act? I'm sleeping on the floor now; I don't like waking up to find it flooded."

"Sorry." Demyx shivered slightly, and the water dried up.

"So how are you feeling?"

"Shitty in general."

"So scratch you off the breakfast list?" Demyx nodded. "Thought so...I'm gonna get some for myself, but all missions have been canceled because half of us are sick and the other half needs to keep that half alive, so I'm gonna be around for the rest of the day, except meals."

Demyx nodded again and pulled his blankets over his head. "Leave the stereo on. And check your blood sugar."

Vexen was cornering each of the designated "caretakers" individually over breakfast and questioning them about their charges. Axel had just taken a large mouthful of scrambled egg, realizing Lexaeus was actually a better cook than Xaldin, when his turn came around.

"Has Nine's condition improved any?"

Axel swallowed hard. "First, no, second, wait until I don't have my mouth full next time, third, why are you asking about him but not Roxas?"

"Because Nine's illness seemed most likely to resolve quickly by itself. Apparently that was a false hope?"

"He told me this morning that he was still feeling shitty."

Vexen nodded. "And Thirteen?"

"Dunno. He didn't wake up before I left. He didn't look much better, that I noticed."

"I'd like to see him this afternoon, if possible...And you might try giving these to Nine." Vexen handed him a bottle of pills. "It's an anti-nausea medication. Directions are on the label." Axel stashed the pills in his pocket, hastily finished his breakfast, and teleported to Demyx's room, only to find it empty. Even the stereo was off. Now where'd he go?

"Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in to the power of the music that I write - the power of the music of the night." The voice was beautiful. The voice was oddly powerful. The voice had a strange quality that made it resonate in the empty space where a man named Lea used to keep his heart. The voice was recognizably Demyx's.

Axel stuck his head into his own room. "There you are." Demyx was sitting on the floor with his sitar, apparently giving Roxas a private concert. Roxas was still curled up on Axel's bed, with a pair of water cats curled up against his head and chest.

"You alone can make my song take flight - help me make the music of the night." Demyx unsummoned his sitar as Roxas gave him a thumbs-up in lieu of applause. "Hi, Axel."

"That was impressive - did you write that?"

Demyx shook his head. "It was on the 'Phantom of the Opera' soundtrack Larxene gave me for my birthday. I wish I'd been the one to write it, but no."

Axel nodded understandingly. "So, are you two feeling better?"

Roxas shook his head. "Not really. Not so shaky now, though. And I like these cats."

"I'm not either. Just bored and restless."

"Too bad..." Axel pulled the pills out of his pocket. "Roxas, Vexen wants to see you this afternoon, if at all possible. And Demyx, he wants you to try taking these."

Demyx took the bottle, looking skeptical. "I gotta say, I have doubts." He read the label. "Says 'may cause drowsiness'...guess I'd better go lie down after taking them." He went back to his room.

Axel rubbed his forehead. "So, Rox...wanna watch a movie?"

Roxas nodded wearily. "About all I have the energy for. Do you have The Blues Brothers?"

"Somewhere. Let me check my blood sugar and then I'll get it going." After doing so, and following a brief hunt, Axel located the DVD and the DVD player remote, popped the disc into the player, and sat down next to Roxas to watch, dislodging a protesting water cat. The cat eventually climbed up on his shoulders - not a comfortable position, at least for Axel. "Hey - get down from there! Go keep Demyx company if you have nothing better to do!"

Roxas chuckled softly. "It must think you have a fever and is trying to cool you down. That's what Demyx made them for."

"Clever of him..." Axel let the cat be and started the movie. They watched for about half an hour before they heard a soft gagging noise from the next room. Axel sighed heavily, dislodged the water cat, and stood up to check on Demyx. "You okay in there?"

"Tell Vexen that didn't work," Demyx replied shakily. "Pills came back more-or-less intact." The water cat, which had followed Axel into Demyx's room, hopped up onto its master's bed and curled up against his stomach as he lay back down.

"Man. Your guts are out to get you."

"Well, better me than you, I guess. Imagine what not being able to eat would do to your blood sugar. And it's not like I'm gonna become dehydrated."

"...Sounds like Mr. Sunshine is grasping at straws a little to find the bright side."

"Hey, I found it. Did you even look?" Demyx closed his eyes. "Turn the stereo on while you're up; I'm gonna try to sleep. Shut the bathroom door if it disturbs your movie."

Axel sighed and did as instructed. "So, Rox," he said as he returned. "Anything interesting happen during the las- never mind, you're asleep, aren't you." He stared at Roxas for a while, considering, then sat down, leaning against the bed, without disturbing him.

Roxas was still having trouble keeping his eyes open, or even sitting up straight, later that afternoon. He was leaning heavily on Axel, shivering and sweating at the same time, as Vexen listened to him breathing through a stethoscope. The Chilly Academic looked less than pleased with what he was hearing. "You haven't been coughing at all?" he asked. Roxas shook his head. "Difficult to sounds as though there is some pneumonia in the left lung."

Axel and Roxas just looked at each other in silence. "That's not good, is it?" Axel said finally.

"Not good, but not incompatible with survival."


Vexen paused, apparently thinking how to say what he wanted in a way Axel would understand. "It's unlikely to kill him."

"Well, that's good," Roxas muttered weakly.

"Better than 'likely to kill him' or 'guaranteed to kill him', definitely..."

"Hush, Ax."

Vexen cleared his throat. "As Thirteen is young and healthy, for the most part, he is unlikely to suffer any dangerous complications -"

"I'm right here, you can talk to me..."

All that got was a glare. "It will require analysis of the blood sample he provided earlier to determine what course of treatment would be most beneficial."

"Would you speak English?"

"A little less blatant disrespect, Eight?" Axel scowled. "I should have more to tell you by tomorrow morning at the latest. And, Eight -" Vexen handed Axel a bottle of orange liquid. "Tell Nine to try this instead of the pills. You two may go." Axel simply teleported himself and Roxas from where they sat, instead of trying to get Roxas to stand up.

"Back to bed, sicko," Axel murmured, wrapping Roxas in a blanket and helping him under the covers. "Even if Vexen thinks you're probably not gonna die, I'm still gonna exercise my right to worry about you."

Roxas smiled wanly. "Thanks. I owe you one."

Axel shook his head. "No, I've owed you one for a while, remember? I'm just now paying you back."

"Oh yeah...I remember...I think you're supposed to get me some ice cream now."

Axel smiled in disbelief. "You seriously want ice cream right now?"

Roxas shook his head wearily. "Not really...I really wanna sleep."

"All right. Sleep, then. I'll be in the area if you need anything." Axel walked into Demyx's room. "Hey, sicko, you awake, or capable of being awakened?" No answer. Axel flicked the lights on, figuring Demyx had taken his hearing aids out to sleep. Demyx wasn't even in the room.

...Well, now what? Axel ducked back into the bathroom. The shower curtain was closed. Oh, there you are. Since Demyx usually took his hearing aids out to bathe, Axel poked the curtain instead of saying his name. Demyx opened the curtain just wide enough to look through - he had headphones on, so presumably his hearing aids were also on. "You want something?" he asked, sliding the headphones down around his neck with surprisingly dry hands.

"Uh, yeah, Vexen thinks you should try this stuff." Axel handed him the orange bottle.

Demyx read the label carefully. "Huh." He carefully removed his headphones and hearing aids. Just in case this makes me pass out, I don't want anything wrecked, he signed. Then he opened the bottle, poured out a dose into the cap, and poured that into his hand. The bright liquid absorbed directly into his skin. Can't make me sick if I don't have to swallow it. And this makes it work a lot faster. Incredibly fast, it seemed; the Melodious Nocturne's eyelids were already starting to droop.

You look like you're about to fall asleep in there, Axel signed.

I might... Demyx quietly slid underwater. One hand reached back up to close the curtain.

Axel woke up shortly after midnight to discover his floor was wet again, which didn't put him in a good mood. If that ass isn't seriously suffering right now, he will be soon. He went into the now-unoccupied bathroom and walked right into Demyx's closed door.

Ow. He rubbed his injured nose and opened the door. "Would you turn off the damn waterworks? I'm sick and fucking tired of getting my floor flooded, got it memorized?" he hissed angrily, not waiting to find out if Demyx could even hear him or not.

"S-sorry," Demyx choked softly - apparently he'd been wide awake already, and crying, by the sound of his voice.

A small flame appeared in Axel's hand, brightening the room a little. He was a little more sympathetic now - apparently 'that ass' was suffering. "How're you doing? You don't sound too good."

"Not so bad I think I'm gonna die...bad enough I want to." Demyx looked like the picture of misery in the flickering light - even with the fire's glow, his face was an unhealthy shade. He gagged softly and leaned over his trash can, but nothing came up.

"Oh, dry heaves. That's just lovely." Axel's first instinct was to retreat back to his room and close both bathroom doors behind him, but instead he sat on the bed next to Demyx and rubbed his back gently. The sick Nocturne slowly relaxed, and so did his stomach. "Is that better?"

Demyx nodded slowly. "Yeah, that is better. You're good at that."

Axel smiled faintly. "My Other's little brother had a touchy stomach. I guess I remember the technique he used to use to calm him down when he was sick."

"You had a little brother? Or your Other did? What was he like?"

"He was a great kid..." Axel murmured softly, willing to reminisce for once. "Real friendly, always looking on the bright side...but he was a fighter, too, always ready to tear me - well, my Other - a new one whenever he blew up at someone. Which was often."

Demyx looked oddly knowing. "Did he have blond hair and blue eyes?"

"Yeah! He did! How did you know?" Demyx grinned but didn't say. Axel shook his head. "Not gonna tell, are you. Go back to sleep, doofus."

Demyx lay back down and burrowed under the covers. "Night, Ax. Sorry for waking you."

"You're sick, I'll forgive you..." Axel extinguished the fire and returned to his sleeping bag.

Axel slept late the next morning - so late he actually missed breakfast. At least his floor was dry. He sighed and stood up quietly, trying not to wake Roxas. Time to remember how to make toast, I guess. Ironic that Demyx was the only competent cook of the three.

Hearing soft sitar music next door, he went to investigate. Demyx's face was still icy pale and drawn, and he didn't really seem much livelier, but apparently he always felt well enough to play. Axel stopped to listen - it was one of his older compositions, written before he'd lost his hearing. "'re deaf and you have no heart. Those shouldn't count as two strikes against you, they should be two separate outs. But you're still a brilliant musician." Axel shook his head. "Sometimes I envy you."

"Not right now, I bet," Demyx murmured. "I haven't eaten anything in well over 48 hours, and if I had, I'd be too busy hurling to play."

"I take it you're not feeling any better?" Demyx shook his head. "What about that orange goo Vexen gave you?"

"It makes my stomach feel better, but it knocks my head out."

"Well, that's not helpful." Axel thought for a moment. "I slept too late for breakfast, so I'm going to see if I can remember how to scramble an egg and not burn toast. If there's one food you might be able to handle, even if only in a medicated fog, it's probably dry toast. Care to try it?"

Demyx shrugged. "What have I got to lose, except some toast and what little dignity I have left?" He poured a dose of medicine into his hand, absorbing it through his skin.

"How do you do that?"

"It's mostly water, with some...stuff in it...s'easy f'me. And it goes...right ta my head...f'some reason..." Demyx blinked sleepily and set his sitar down. "Wake me up when y'get back."

The kitchen was empty, which was a good thing as far as Axel's dignity was concerned. It took him three tries to produce anything edible for himself, and even then it wasn't very good. I dunno if I wanna try feeding this to Roxas or not. Maybe I'll just find him a couple Pop-Tarts. At least he had his toast technique down. They laughed when I told them I didn't need no stinkin' toaster...or...they would have laughed if they'd heard me.

Eventually, he teleported back to his room with some buttered toast and not-burned eggs for Roxas and a couple slices of dry toast for Demyx. He almost dropped the plates when he realized the bed was empty and Roxas was gone. Okay...don't panic...even though I don't think Roxas was capable of walking and Vexen only said the pneumonia was "unlikely" to kill him...

A water cat ran past him into Demyx's room. Axel followed it, and found Demyx lying in bed, stretched out comfortably, and Roxas lying on top of him, clinging to him as if he was a giant teddy bear. Both of them were fast asleep.

Axel set the plates down and scratched his head. Is this too adorable for words and much too cute to disturb, or such a letdown after getting myself worked up that I wanna kick both their asses? Eventually he settled for giving each of them a poke in the side. "Good morning, and what's going on?"

Roxas blinked in confusion, as if he didn't know where he was or how he got there. Demyx smiled weakly. "He wandered in lookin' f'you, n'crashed on th'nearest soft spot. Me. Din't wanna chase'm away."

"...I did?" Apparently Roxas's mental gears were only just shifting out of "Park".

"Yeah. Y'poked me n'said 'Where's Axel?' I tol' you he'd gone t'get food, n'you just climbed up here n'passed out. Am I comfy?"

Roxas nodded, flushing a little more. "I don't remember that."

"You might wanna get off him, Rox. If he can't even hold down dry toast, you don't wanna be in the line of fire." Roxas slid off of Demyx and onto the floor. "Wanna go back to your own bed - well, my bed - or would you rather eat here?"

"Here's fine with me...but the smell might annoy Demyx's tender stomach." Roxas tried to stand up, without much success. Axel caught him and held him upright, wondering how he could still be shivering a little despite that fever.

"And here I thought being able to rise up and walk meant you were getting better..." Axel helped Roxas back into bed before returning for the plates. Demyx was already going back to sleep. "Wake up and eat your toast, doofus. Don't cram it down too fast."

"See'f I eat a whole slice..." Demyx murmured as he nibbled at it. Axel flicked the stereo on as he went back to Roxas.

"Here, I don't know if this is edible or not, since I had to make it myself. But I could eat it."

"Axel, you'd eat your own pillow if there was butter on it..." Roxas took a bite of the eggs.

"I don't know where pillows are on the glycemic index, so I wouldn't know what sort of insulin bolus to give myself. How is it?"

"You're a lousy cook. Go check your blood sugar, before you forget."

"...Well, thanks for your concern...I guess."

Surprisingly, Demyx managed to eat all the toast, and then fell asleep. It was drawing closer to dinnertime than lunchtime before Axel went to check on him and found him snoozing peacefully, empty plate in hand.

"He's still dead to the world," he reported to Roxas.

The feverish blonde smiled weakly. "Good for him. He's a lot sicker than I am; he needs the rest."

"I dunno if he's sicker than you are; I think he's just as sick, but with something totally different."

"Wouldn't want to trade diseases. Better to be pampered than avoided."

"At least he's able to stand up and walk around and actually do more things than just lie there and occasionally wander into someone else's room to fall asleep on them."

Roxas reached out as though he was trying to shove Axel away, but couldn't reach and apparently couldn't be bothered to move into reach. "Hush, firecrotch."

"Firecrotch?...I thought if there was one person I'd never have to hear that name, don't go to sleep. Don't leave me alone in this dark, cold world with nothing but your unconscious bodies."

"If it's dark and cold, light a fire...'sides, I need rest too." Roxas mumbled drowsily.

"Fire's not very talkative, got it memorized?"

"Me either. I'm tired." Roxas pulled the blankets over his head.

Axel, now effectively alone, sat down and stared at the wall for a while. He stood up and paced for a while. Then he sat down and stared at the wall for a while. There wasn't much else to do, that wouldn't disturb Roxas or Demyx. He could read a book or something, but he'd never been much of a reader. He could leave the room and go somewhere else, but one of them might wake up needing something before he returned.

You two are not being a shitload of fun right now, got it memorized?

Eventually he sprawled out on top of his sleeping bag and slowly dozed off, staring at the ceiling. He was soon jerked awake by a door slamming. Moments later, he heard muffled gagging and retching sounds from behind the bathroom door.

Aw, hell, not right before dinner... Axel teleported into the bathroom to find Demyx sprawled on the floor with his head in the toilet. He sighed. Wonderful timing you have, sicko.

The Flurry of Dancing Flames spent the next few minutes kneeling on the bathroom floor next to the sick, heaving Melodious Nocturne, holding his long, unstyled hair out of his face, rubbing his back, whispering to him like he was a sick child in need of comforting.

Once the spasms finally stopped, Demyx sat up slowly, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. "Thanks for that, though I usually prefer not having anyone around to watch me throw up the last of my dignity. Where'd you get all that? More stuff you used to do for your brother?"

"Never had to hold his hair back, but yeah..." Axel was obscurely embarrassed. "How are you feeling now?"

"Like a jellyfish on dry land." Demyx leaned back and closed his eyes. "A very sick jellyfish." He sighed. "No more toast, I think."

Axel shook his head. "No more food until you want it. Can you walk back to bed or do I have to carry you?"

"To hell with 'bed'...I'm gonna just crash in the bathtub from now on. See if sleeping underwater makes me feel any better."

Axel blinked in surprise, then shrugged. "Suit yourself...I'm gonna go see if you've ruined my appetite or not."

For once, Axel slept the entire night through and woke up in time for breakfast. He reached up and poked Roxas in the side. "Good morning; time for another sick day."

There was no response. Axel sat up and looked over the edge of the bed at him. "...Oh, fuck." Roxas was deathly pale, sweating and shivering, and his fever seemed to have risen three degrees overnight. "Come on, Rox, don't worry me like this, wake up...shit." He pulled the blankets back, and Roxas opened his eyes slightly. They had a strange, glassy look.

"You want somethin', Ax?" he muttered.

Axel just shook his head. "...Damn, you look awful."

Roxas closed his eyes and shivered. "Don't feel too good either."

"Oh, man..." Axel groaned. "I'm gonna go talk to Vexen." Roxas nodded weakly and pulled the blankets back up, but Axel removed them again. "You don't need to be any warmer. You're already hot enough to burn me." Roxas suggested Axel do something anatomically improbable and replaced the blankets.

Axel turned around, a little stunned. "...Okay." He teleported to the kitchen, expecting to find Vexen down there eating breakfast with the other healthy few of the Organization. Instead, he only found three other members in the kitchen: Lexaeus, Xemnas, and Saïx. It didn't take long to figure out which of them was least likely to attack him. "Lexaeus - where is everyone? Where's Vexen?"

"Two is ill. Four is examining him. Eleven..." Lexaeus shrugged.

Eight words - that's pretty good, for him. "Thanks, that's what I wanted to know." Axel grabbed something he could eat standing up and teleported into Vexen's lab. Vexen and Xigbar were both sitting down with their heads in their hands; Xigbar looked lethargic, Vexen, frustrated.

"I told you, dude, I'm fine. I just need sleep."

"Two, I know for a fact you're more intelligent than that...Eight, do you have something important to say or are you here to waste time?"

Axel briefly considered simply flipping the old man off and walking out. Not while Roxas is in trouble... "...Roxas suddenly got a lot worse overnight."

That gave Vexen pause. "...How much worse?"

"I dunno. A lot worse. Sweating, shivering, crazy high fever..."

Vexen didn't waste much time considering. "I'd like to see him immediately."

Axel didn't need telling twice; he immediately teleported back to his room. "Vexen wants to see you, pronto," he informed the barely-conscious Roxas.

"Tell him to come here," Roxas muttered.

"Sorry, I'd rather fight with you than him. You're not such a tough opponent right now."

Roxas squirmed angrily as Axel picked him up, blankets and all, and teleported back to the lab with him. "Put me down, you asshole."

And Axel did put Roxas down, in a chair as opposed to on his feet. "Delivered as requested."

"Thank you, Eight. Take a seat, if you'd prefer to wait." This was one of the very few times in Axel's existence that Vexen had voluntarily treated him anything like civilly, but he didn't feel like stopping to savor it. He was too worried about Roxas.

Xigbar tapped him on the shoulder. "Dude...if he asks where I went, you didn't see me leave, okay?"

"I didn't even know you were here." Xigbar gave him a thumbs-up and vanished.

"Eight, for the love of Kingdom Hearts, go eat something. I have enough to do without having to care for irresponsible diabetics who collapse from low blood glucose."

Biting the antique's head off will not help, Axel reminded himself. Instead, he teleported down to the kitchen and helped himself to whatever was being offered, shoving it down without really tasting it, which earned him a few odd looks from those few who were still coming down for meals. He just glared at them in return. He'd spent all day hovering around Roxas, annoying the daylights out of Vexen with his mere presence, and not learning anything that really reassured him - Roxas had some sort of bacterial infection, but as long as he wasn't coughing, Vexen had no way to know what exactly was causing it without resorting to a lung biopsy, which was an absolute last resort. Instead, Roxas had been given a broad-spectrum antibiotic and moved into the medical wing, where Axel had spent most of his day sitting next to him until Vexen finally chased him out.

As long as Demyx was going to be sleeping in the bathtub, Axel had moved his blood glucose monitor into his own room, and teleported back there after dinner just long enough to check his blood sugar. He noticed the floor was damp - again - but didn't care enough to chew Demyx out at the moment. He just hurried back to the med wing to resume his post at Roxas's bedside.

Roxas's eyes flickered open slightly - he'd been drifting in and out of consciousness most of the day. "Not gonna leave me alone, are ya."

Axel shook his head. "Not for a damn instant, got it memorized?"

"Good...I like havin' you here." Roxas murmured softly, as his eyes closed again.

And you'd better not leave me alone...

Axel had been spending a lot of time staring at walls and ceilings lately. He was content to do that for now, until he eventually fell asleep in his chair.

The next two days were a haze in Axel's mind. He barely left Roxas's room except to eat or sleep, or when Vexen chased him out for a few minutes. Even then, he was only marginally aware of what was going on around him. He barely saw or spoke to Demyx except to scream at him for flooding his room, which sent the musician retreating behind closed doors, and he hardly noticed when Xaldin and Luxord started appearing at meals again and Xigbar disappeared. The only thing that really concerned him was Roxas, who was still wandering in and out of consciousness and barely able to respond even when he was awake. Vexen said he was improving, but Axel, who was keeping as constant a vigil as he was allowed, couldn't really see any evidence...

"Axel...what are you doing still here?"

Axel blinked awake dazedly. "Huh? What are you talking about?"

Roxas's face had more color to it than it had in a while, and he definitely seemed livelier. "You must have fallen asleep in that chair last night."

"...Yeah, I guess I did." Axel stood up, a little stiffly. "You look a lot better - feel better?"

"Better than I did when I woke up yesterday...not exactly great, yet."

"...Yesterday? That was three days ago."

Roxas's jaw dropped. "Three days? Are you serious?"

Axel nodded. "Seriously. Guess it really does get worse before it gets scared the shit out of me."

"Nice to know you care..." Roxas stuck his tongue out playfully. "I'll be fine eventually, I think."

"Good. Now I might be able to sleep a night through." Axel ruffled his hair, and Roxas only made a token effort to dodge.

"How's Demyx?"

Axel shrugged. "I dunno. Haven't heard much from him the past couple days. I guess he's not doing any worse, at least."

"Well, not worse is better than worse, even if it's not as good as about you? Still taking care of yourself?"

"Well, I've been checking my blood sugar when I wake up and go to bed and before and after every meal...though I admit to not eating as many meals as I should."

Roxas laughed. "Now, since when did you need to be reminded to eat?"

"Since you got so sick, silly person."

Roxas rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Who's the silly one?...You probably need some food now...though I think you missed breakfast again."

"Good idea. The Iceman has practically been having to throw me out and order me to eat. I'll be back when I'm done." Axel teleported back to his room to test his blood sugar and found himself standing in two inches of water.

God. Fucking. Dammit.

"Demyx, I am going to fucking KILL YOU!" he roared, as sparks and flames flew out of his hands. He left black marks on each bathroom door as he flung them open.

And stopped.

Kingdom Hearts, he's already dead.

Demyx was lying facedown in his own flooded room, his face and body contorted as if he'd died in agony. It took Axel a long and terrifying minute to remember dead Nobodies don't leave bodies behind. He rolled Demyx onto his back carefully, and the musician's aqua eyes popped open. "Demyx, what happened?! What's going on?!"

Demyx didn't answer. His eyes were huge and glassy with pain, and he was having trouble breathing. "Come on, talk to me! Say something so I know you're still here!"

"...You only had one brother, didn't you," Demyx whispered.

"...The hell?! You're not making sense..." Demyx squeezed his eyes shut and grimaced; a little blood trickled out of his mouth. "What happened?! What's doing this to you?!" Dear, sweet Kingdom Hearts, is he dying in front of me?!

On the verge of panic, and not knowing what else to do, Axel hauled him to his feet, or at least vertical, and portaled into Vexen's lab. The Chilly Academic nearly dropped what he was doing when he saw them. "I don't know what's the matter with him, but - it's - bad!"

Vexen slowly set down the...whatever he was working on. "," he whispered.

That was probably the last thing Axel expected to ever hear him say, barring, perhaps, "I love you, Axel." "...What?"

Vexen went over and tapped the corner of Demyx's jaw, which made that entire half of his face twitch. "Acute electrolyte imbalance, or at least hypocalcemia, though if one's so depleted they're likely all in disarray. I should have seen this coming from day one. And here I was, thinking his inability to become dehydrated meant malnutrition was the greatest concern...damn it. Give him to me." Axel was in too much shock to argue. Vexen disappeared through a dark portal, taking the Melodious Nocturne with him.

Axel stood alone in the middle of the lab, dazed and terrified. Finally, not knowing what else to do, he teleported to Roxas's hospital room. Roxas sat up in alarm when he saw the look on Axel's face. "Axel? What's wrong? What happened?"

Axel slumped into the one chair in the room and buried his face in his hands. "I think Demyx is gonna die."

Roxas's mouth fell open. He shook his head in disbelief. "No...impossible...he was sick, but not...not...he can't be..." It took him four tries to get the word out. "Dying."

"I know..." Axel gulped. "But I went into his room a little while ago and found him on the floor, looking like he was being tortured. At least Vexen seemed to know right away what was wrong with him, maybe he knows what to do about it..."

"He probably does...maybe it just looked a lot worse than it actually is..."

You wouldn't know, Axel wanted to snap. You didn't see him. Instead, he swallowed hard and nodded, hoping Roxas was right.

Time passed. Axel and Roxas talked, trying hard to avoid mentioning Demyx, and giving up and simply talking about him when they realized it would be impossible not to. Axel went to lunch. Roxas took a nap. Axel returned. Roxas woke up. Axel paced the floor. Roxas put up with it. Axel continued to pace. Roxas eventually lost his patience and told him to go for an actual walk before he wore a hole in the floor. Axel walked down to the Proof of Existence. Demyx's Proof was still blue. Axel returned and told Roxas Demyx was still alive, and they both pretended to relax. Axel went to dinner. Roxas stared at the wall. Axel returned. Roxas told him to go find out what was happening with Demyx. Axel started searching the other rooms in the medical wing, wondering whether he'd find Demyx in one of them and if they'd exchange friendly greetings or final goodbyes. In case it was final goodbyes, he intended to stay with him until the end - Demyx didn't deserve anything less. Maybe he could sing to was only right that such a dedicated musician take his final bow surrounded by music, even if he really deserved better than Axel's unaccompanied voice...

He finally found him on the far end of the hall, apparently unconscious. The only sign that Demyx wasn't sleeping naturally was the IV stand and bags and the tubes leading into his arm. When Axel opened the door, he opened his eyes, then began a careful examination of a random spot on the wall - he had been sleeping naturally.

Axel went weak with relief. "Thank whatever - I thought you were dead for sure!"

Demyx still didn't make eye contact. "Guess I'm not," he said thickly, as if he'd bitten through his tongue.

"This is great - when I found you, I thought you were gonna die in front of me!" Demyx shrugged and continued examining the wall. "I'm so glad you're doing better..." Axel realized Demyx was refusing to look at him. "You are better, right?"

"I guess's Roxas?"

"He's doing better too...What's eating you, besides, um, the obvious?"

Demyx sighed. "Axel, I spent the entire night on the floor, pretty much unable to move except for muscle spasms, twitches, and cramps, numb everywhere I wasn't in agony, wondering when I'd finally fade away so the pain would end. It was...a little traumatic, let's put it that way. And it didn't help that I kept wondering when you'd come in and find me and you kept not."

Axel sighed. "I'm sorry. I wasn't in my room last night."

Demyx closed his eyes. "I know. You were looking after Roxas."

"Hey - wait a second." Demyx had been reaching up to remove his hearing aids, which would end the conversation, but he paused, without opening his eyes. "Maybe my Other only had one brother, but I like having two, got it memorized? I wanna keep it that way. And if I wasn't worrying about you, it was because I didn't know, not because I didn't care."

"Really?" Axel nodded. "Well...I'm exhausted, still. Tell Roxas I said hi." Demyx removed his hearing aids - a pretty clear dismissal. As long as his eyes were closed, there wasn't much Axel could do except turn around and go back to Roxas's room.

"So how is he?" Roxas asked anxiously as soon as he returned.

"As far as Demyx goes, he's pissed. But he says hi." Axel sat down and stared at the wall while Roxas stared at him in confusion.

Roxas was allowed to move back to his room the next afternoon, with a week's worth of antibiotics and a prescription for bed rest. "Not like I haven't been getting a ton of that recently," he snorted, but he complied, except when he was pounding Axel into the dust on his PS3. Axel admitted he was glad to have his bed back, but sleeping on the floor hadn't been all that bad.

"What really bugs me feels kinda lonely now," he admitted.

"Hey, throw your own controllers around all you like, but not mine!...You mean you actually preferred sharing a room?"

"I gotta say, it was kinda nice having you two around all the time, even if you were both too sick to do anything. But now you're back in your own room, and Vexen's not letting Demyx out until he can hold something down without medication...I tried talking to him earlier today, but he'd still rather pretend I'm not there." Axel shook his head. He tried to turn back to the game, but his head wasn't in it. "And I think I know how he knew my Other's brother had blond hair and blue eyes."

"Your Other's brother? What are you talking about? What does he have to do with anything? And why does it matter what color hair and eyes he had?"

"Demyx and I started talking about him somehow...and out of nowhere, Demyx asked if he had blond hair and blue eyes. Up until yesterday, I had no idea how the hell he knew that. But I figured it out."

"Since I don't think you'll be happy until I did he know?"

"Because you do." Axel simply dropped his controller, instead of flinging it at the screen.

Roxas snorted. "So does he!"

"I know..." Axel rested his chin on his knees. "But I don't know if he thinks his eyes are blue. I dunno what the hell that was supposed to mean. That made no sense at all."

"Too bad, because I was about to ask what you meant..." Conversation ground to a halt as the two Nobodies pretended to focus on their video game.

Axel glowered at Demyx's closed bathroom door. The constant silence seemed...unnatural, even though the World that Never Was was technically unnatural in its entirety. The hell's the matter with you? Almost everyone else is doing better, except Xigbar, and he was the last to get sick by a few days...even Roxas was allowed out of the med wing yesterday, and I thought he was the worst off... He slid his blood glucose monitor back into the drawer and walked to Roxas's room, hoping for a little cheering up.

The sitar music coming from Roxas's door had a mixed effect. On one hand, it proved Demyx was still alive, on the other hand, it proved he was still mad enough at Axel to avoid his own room.

"What are you doing in here? When did they let you out?"

"Whining to a sympathetic ear. When Vexen decided the little bit of rice I had this morning wasn't coming back up." Demyx kept playing as if Axel wasn't there.

"I wouldn't call it whining..." Roxas said, as he leaned off the bed to listen. "He's hardly said three full sentences less than five minutes apart since he got here. Most of the time, he's just been playing."

"Yeah? That's my way of whining...later, Rox." Demyx disappeared through a portal before Axel had any time to react.

"...He's mad at me."

"No, he's not. This is just going by the music he was playing, but I think he's more hurt and depressed than mad."

"Somedays, I swear, he's crazy as Saïx, just a different sort of crazy." Axel sighed. "Ready to kick my ass again?"

"Anytime." Roxas got another game started and handed Axel his controller. It didn't take long to discover one of them wasn't paying much attention.

"I know I usually beat you at my own games, but put a little effort into it! It's no fun to beat you when you're not trying!"

Axel sighed and set the controller down. "Yeah...I'm kinda elsewhere, I guess. Not really focusing."

Roxas rolled his eyes. "This was your idea to begin with!" He looked more closely at Axel. "Are you sure you're okay? After hanging out with us sickos for an entire week, I wouldn't be surprised if you managed to catch something."

Axel rubbed his forehead - he was developing a headache. "I don't think so. I'm just tired. It's been a hell of a week."

"Well, you look pretty pale."

"...Roxas, if you ever see a redhead with a tan, either the tan or the hair color is fake, got it memorized? Besides, it's not like we get a ton of sunshine around here."

Roxas raised an eyebrow. "That's not what I was talking about."

"Well, whatever you were talking about, I'll catch it after I go take a nap, okay?"

"Guess I can't argue with that..." Roxas shook his head. "See you at dinner, or whenever."

Sometimes, waking up to sitar music was one of the benefits of living next to Demyx. Sometimes, it was a drawback.

Axel went and knocked on Demyx's bathroom door, trying to ignore the waves of nausea creeping up on him. "Could you leave it for a while? I'm trying to sleep."

Demyx opened the door, eyeing him oddly. "You slept through dinner. How tired are you?" Normally, he was pretty agreeable with such requests, if they weren't insulting, but he was still being brusque.

Axel leaned heavily on the doorframe. "Worn down, I guess. It's not like it's been a boring week. You know, when I was going down to see you in the med wing for the first time, I was trying to think of what I wanted to sing to you on your deathbed."

"...Were you seriously?" Demyx almost started to crack a smile.

Axel nodded and swallowed hard as his stomach squirmed. "Yeah...I didn't think it would be right to let you go without one last song."

Demyx actually did smile. "Shouldn't be possible, I know, but I gotta say I'm kinda touched. Wish you'd mentioned that earlier; maybe I wouldn't have spent two days thinking you were an ass. What did you pick?"

Axel took a deep breath - it shouldn't be possible for the bathroom to suddenly get so warm. He was supposed to be immune to it. "I didn't actually have time to decide for sure, since it turned out you weren't actually dying. 'Light of a Fading Star' seems pretty appropriate..." Wonderful - now the world was starting to spin...

"'And the light of a fading star is what you were - is what you are...' - Kingdom Hearts, are you okay? You look awful." Axel didn't even have time to nod before he couldn't fight the nausea anymore and was sick to his stomach. Unfortunately, he was still facing Demyx. Oh, fuck...

Demyx looked down at his ruined robes. "So how's revenge taste on the way back up?"

Axel covered his mouth with his hands. "Shit. I'm sorry."

Demyx, who knew from experience what was coming next, hastily shoved Axel to his knees in front of the toilet. "You just stay there until you're done, okay? I'm gonna get Vexen...why couldn't you have caught what Roxas had..."

AN: This isn't much good and I'm sorry.

MedTech!Author is intruding. Prolonged vomiting, especially without nutrient replacement, will eventually deplete several important nutrients in the bloodstream, including calcium, sodium, potassium, and chloride. Sodium, potassium, and calcium are important in transmitting neural impulses and regulating muscle contractions; the combined effect is that your muscles and nerves will start going haywire - cramps, spasms, twitches, numbness, weakness, paralysis, etcetera, especially if it's a rapid depletion and help isn't forthcoming. Low chloride levels cause metabolic alkalosis, which is a whole other barrel of fun. Fortunately, it's usually not difficult to fix.

I might eventually get around to explaining Axel's backstory, including his little brother. But not now, as it's all sad and tragic and M-rated for violence.

Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts and all its associated characters belong to Square Enix and Disney. "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera probably belongs to Andrew Lloyd Weber. 'Light of a Fading Star' belongs to Flogging Molly.