Fire can warm. And fire can burn.

Demyx was scrunched up in the darkest possible corner of the Hall of Empty Melodies, trying not to breathe.

Fire can save. And fire can destroy.

Why in Kingdom Hearts's name did Axel come back from failing his mission and then go straight to a bar? Sure, the impulse was understandable, but alcohol only intensified whatever mood he'd been in when he started drinking...most of the time, he did his drinking when he was in a pretty good mood, but tonight he'd been so angry about blowing the mission...and by the time he'd come back...

"Demysh! Where'a fuck a'ya?"

And why, for the love of any gods out there that looked after Nobodies, did this have to happen when Roxas was gone overnight? Roxas was the only person who had a hope of calming Axel down when he was like this...

"Goddamnit, ya li'l bashard...I know ya' 'idin' in 'ere...fuckin''l...coward...hide f'm ya' own fuckin' shadda..."

And why did he always make Demyx his target?

The room suddenly lit up brightly, including Demyx's hiding place. Normally Axel conjured a small flame he could hold in his hand when he needed a light, but this time, he'd set off an explosion and created an inferno right in the middle of the Hall. The Superior would take his ears off for that, but it wasn't going to matter to him right then - he was drunk off his ass and pissed as hell. "Ah...there y'are..."

Demyx felt like he'd been frozen in place as Axel stumbled towards him, totally heedless of the fact that his robe had caught fire. "Tol''l bashard...y'can' 'ide f'm me f'ever..." He grabbed Demyx by the collar and dragged him upright. "Gotcha, fucker," he hissed.

It took Demyx three or four tries to find his voice. "Axel...why...why are you doing this?" he choked.

Axel stared blankly at him for a moment as his robe blazed, as if trying to think of an answer despite the alcohol in his system. Then his face twisted into an almost demonic snarl. "Shut'a fuck up," he growled, and threw Demyx to the floor.

Stars burst in front of his eyes as his head bounced off the marble floor. The impact left him dazed, but not too dazed to curl up into a ball, protecting his head and chest. "Axel...please...don't..." he whimpered, as the redhead's boot thudded into his exposed back.

"Shut'a fuck up, ya li'l bashard!" Axel grabbed Demyx by the throat and punched him in the face. Alcohol or no, his fist hit like a ton of bricks. "Why'a fuck y'try'a hide f'm me?"

Because you're wasted. Because you're pissed. Because whenever you're pissed and get wasted, you try to kill me. Demyx tried his best to escape, but Axel only tightened his grip. "Ax...leggo...I can't breathe..." If there are any gods who look after Nobodies, please, help me...

Axel slammed his head against the wall, then let him drop - something wet trickled down his face that he was pretty sure wasn't water. While Demyx was still trying to recover, he kicked him squarely in the gut, knocking the wind out of him. "Geddup, fucker." Demyx, gasping painfully in an effort to catch his breath, was apparently too slow to obey, so Axel grabbed his arm and jerked him upright, heedless of whether or not he could stay on his feet without help. "I said up!" he roared.

Demyx sobbed helplessly - he couldn't fight back, not against Axel, not when he was this drunk. "Stop - please..."

"Shuddup, ya li'l whiner." Axel jerked sharply on his arm, sending him back to the floor and almost tearing his arm out of its socket. Almost as soon as he hit the floor, Demyx got a boot to the side. "Whatta pieshe'a shit y'are. Ya' fuckin' worthlesh, got it merem- memro- memors- " Frustrated by his inability to get the word out right, Axel just stomped on Demyx's knee. "Y'fuckin' geddit!" he screamed.

"Axel - please - you're hurting me - stop!" Demyx begged him.

"Hurtin' ya? Y'fuckin' d'serve't..." Another quick boot to the side; Demyx cried out involuntarily. "Aw, fuck you..." Axel dragged him half-upright again and belted him across the jaw, sending him sliding backwards across the polished floor. As soon as he stopped sliding, Demyx scrambled to his feet and took off running, ignoring his throbbing knee and the less-than-accurate fireballs being thrown after him by the outraged redhead. He had to escape, and quickly...

He opened a portal to the one safe place he could think of, closing it behind him as he collapsed on the other side. Dazed, battered, and unable to stand any longer, he closed his eyes and let the world fade away around him.

He didn't move again until Roxas shook his shoulder and asked "Demyx, what happened to you? And what are you doing in my room?"

Roxas was having trouble believing his eyes. Coming back to find Demyx apparently sleeping on his floor was strange enough. Finding Demyx lying bleeding and apparently unconscious on his floor was worrying and disturbing. And - once Demyx had come to, he'd tried to pretend that he'd been hurt in some sort of accident, but it was obvious someone had beaten him pretty severely. Once confronted with that knowledge, he tried to avoid identifying his attacker, but - there were blisters over the hand-shaped bruise on his throat. And there was only one person Roxas knew of who could leave blisters from prolonged contact.

How could Axel do something like this?

No wonder Axel hadn't been right there waiting to meet him when he got back. Where was he? What kind of explanation could he possibly have for Demyx's condition?

When lunchtime came, Roxas left the battered Nocturne sleeping in his bed and went down by himself, intending to confront Axel, but the Flurry of Dancing Flames didn't show up. If he was gone on a mission, boy, would he catch it when he got home...

Just in case, he went and knocked on Axel's door before returning to his room. Surprisingly enough, Axel answered, looking anxious, afraid, and pretty hungover. " seen Demyx?"

"Why do you ask?" Roxas answered automatically, in case Axel was looking to cause more damage. "Were you drinking last night?"

Axel nodded, looking even more anxious, and a bit sick. "I haven't seen Demyx all day. He's not in his room, and I don't think he's on a mission. I'm kinda worried somethin' happened to him." His eyes widened with horror as Roxas just stared at him. "Fuck. Something happened, didn't it. Oh, fuck. What the hell did I do to him? I didn't kill him, did I?"

Roxas was tempted to punch him. "How could you not know?"

"I was drunk, got it memorized? Alcohol messes with you like that...fuck, where is he?"

Roxas sighed heavily. "He's in my room."

"Is he okay?" Roxas shook his head. "Oh, fuck..." Axel's face suddenly turned green, and he clapped a hand over his mouth and bolted for the bathroom. Roxas sighed and waited outside the door until he was done.

"Are you okay now?" he asked, rather brusquely, when Axel returned.

"No. I wanna see him. If he'll let me." Axel gave him a desperate look. "Could you go ask if he's willing to let me go see him?"

Roxas nodded wearily and made a portal back to his own room. Demyx was still fast asleep, clinging tightly to the pillow, but he woke up after a few nudges. "Axel wants to know if you're okay with me letting him in."

"It's your room..." Demyx shrugged, but he looked worried. "Is he sober?"

"Yeah. He's worried about you." Demyx sighed and buried his face in the pillow again, murmuring something incomprehensible. "Excuse me?"

Demyx turned his head to the side. His eyes were bright with tears. "I said you might as well let him in."

Roxas opened another portal, one that led to Axel's door. A few seconds later, Axel entered, with his head bowed. "Demyx...are you all right?"

Demyx sat up slowly, never taking his eyes off the redhead. His face was mottled with dark bruises, his knee was swollen under his uniform pants, and he was definitely favoring one arm. And that probably wasn't the full extent of his injuries. "I dunno, I look all right?"

Axel shook his head. "I am so fuckin' sorry." Demyx groaned and buried himself under the covers.

Roxas sensed this was the right time to lead Axel out. "Are you proud of yourself now?" he hissed under his breath when the two of them were in the hallway.

"I dunno, Rox, do I look real proud of myself?" Axel snapped. Then he sighed. "Fuck. Don't ever get really drunk, unless you wanna find out what sort of monster you really are." He slid down to the ground, leaning against the wall. "I don't even get why I did that."

Roxas snorted. "Lucky for you, Demyx will forgive anything eventually."

Axel sighed and closed his eyes. "I know he will. I don't know if he should."

AN: Sometimes, the stories just write themselves. This didn't write itself on a good day.

I've read a lot of stories where quiet, peaceful Demyx suddenly shows a raging, violent streak. I don't think my Demyx could do that. I think if any of the Trio has that sort of dichotomous personality, it's Axel. Compare it to a nice warm campfire you sing songs and toast marshmallows over that suddenly whips up into a forest fire.

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