Demyx was living minute to minute at this point. If he got through this minute, he'd never have to go through it again, and when he got through the next minute, he'd never have to go through that one again, and so on and so forth, as long as he could put up with this unending silence for just one more minute. The only thing he was really looking forward to was his next life - when, hopefully, he'd be able to hear again. He missed music so desperately, and he couldn't even talk to anyone...he couldn't even be sure he made any real sense anymore...

Why had he told Axel he wanted to live? Maybe he didn't want to die, but he definitely wasn't sure he wanted to live. Not like this.

Maybe there was a way around it. If he just tried not to feel this unending grief, ignored the sensation of being utterly empty inside, of being truly nothing, no more real than one of Zexion's illusions... He closed his eyes and tried not to feel anything.

He gasped and opened his eyes. That had been awful - like he'd been on the verge of fading. Not feeling clearly wasn't the answer.

Axel and Roxas were both looking at him with concern - if he thought they'd clung to him like limpets when they still thought he was on drugs, he only got any privacy in the bathroom anymore, and if he stayed in there too long for comfort, they would come in and check on him - that or Axel had been looking for an excuse to spy on him in the shower, one or the other. There wasn't much mystery about where the rope-shaped bruise around his neck had come from, and they were determined to forestall a second attempt - which would actually be a third attempt, but neither of them knew about the razor. They were all gathered in Axel's room, for some reason - Axel was playing video games (by himself, for once), Roxas was reading, and Demyx was just staring into empty space, wishing for a lot of things, including his hearing, something productive to do, that empty feeling to go away, and to stop feeling like he was imposing on the other two 24 hours a day.

(You okay?) Roxas asked. Demyx nodded wearily, then jumped as a portal opened - between Axel and the TV screen, coincidentally. Axel probably cursed loudly and vociferously at Zexion, but Demyx couldn't hear a word of it, or see it, since Axel had his back to him.

(Do calm yourself, Eight. I need Nine for a few hours, assuming he's permitted to venture out of your supervision for that length of time.) Axel said something else that didn't seem to impress Zexion. (Eight, do you have any sense at all?)

(Is having us along for whatever going to hurt anything?) Roxas asked.

Zexion thought about that carefully. (...On reflection, no. It may in fact be of some benefit.)

"What do you want me for?" Demyx asked. It irritated him how Zexion focused all his attention on Axel and Roxas and ignored him entirely, even though he was the one Zexion had been looking for in the first place. It's like I'm too stupid to answer for myself anymore...I'm deaf, not retarded...

(...A new method of communication that may be more beneficial in the long term than relying on normal speech.) Wait, I forgot, Zexion treats everyone like that.

"A...new method of communication?"

Zexion nodded. (One designed by the deaf, for the deaf.)

Oh...that was interesting...really interesting... "Can people who can hear okay use it too?"

Zexion nodded again. (It's simple enough to use...) Demyx's eyes were suddenly drawn to his hands - while he was speaking, he made a series of strange gestures. Demyx found himself almost unconsciously imitating the gestures. Zexion noticed. (Excellent. This may proceed much faster than I originally expected.)

Axel turned around and looked back at him. (Is that what he's talking about? That hand jive he's got going there?)

(This "hand jive", as you so charmingly refer to it, is called sign language, Eight. A purely visual form of communication that doesn't rely on one's ability to hear.)

(Oh...that sounds...) Roxas looked interested. (That sounds really useful.)

Zexion raised an eyebrow. (I take it you're interested in learning as well, Thirteen?) Roxas nodded. (Eight?) After a few moments, Axel nodded as well - Demyx could see, as Zexion could not, Roxas's foot planted between the redhead's shoulderblades. Or maybe Zexion could see it; he smirked faintly. (Very well then...we may as well start with the alphabet...)


AN: Number 41 and final, Teamwork. I will be so damn happy to write something else for a while.

Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts, got it memorized?