"What's up, little dude? You look pretty blue."

Roxas very nearly jumped out of his skin. "Xigbar - you startled me -"

Xigbar was smirking at him as he sauntered down the wall towards him. "That was kind of the intended effect. So, what's up? Something on your mind?"

Roxas nodded, feeling it was no use to try to conceal it at this point. "Axel. He's not taking this seriously," he explained, gesturing helplessly. No need to explain what "this" was - by now, it seemed the entire Organization knew that Axel had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and Xigbar had found out almost as soon as Axel himself. "Vexen's been on him about it, and so have I, but it doesn't seem to be getting through - I'm afraid he's gonna have to get into really serious trouble before he starts taking proper care of himself."

"Thinks that just because he's young and physically fit, it means he's immortal, chronic metabolic disorders not withstanding?"

Roxas blinked. "Uh...yeah. That's basically it."

Xigbar nodded understandingly. "Yeah, I used to be like that. Way back when." He gave Roxas a measuring look. "Think a cautionary tale might help get the message across?"

Roxas shrugged listlessly. "Probably not, but there is a slight chance, I guess."

Xigbar chuckled. "Probably an accurate analysis. Okay, I'm gonna show you something none of the other neophytes have ever seen, not even Saix..." Much to Roxas's astonishment, he reached up and removed his eyepatch. Roxas gasped, expecting to see a gruesome empty socket...but to his surprise, there turned out to be another golden eye under the eyepatch. On closer examination, it seemed to be a little more bloodshot than the other, the eyelid drooped a fair bit, and it didn't move and focus along with the other eye - an effect much more creepy to watch than to describe. "It's still there, but it's not doing me any good," Xigbar explained. "Can't see out of it anymore."

Roxas swallowed nervously. "What happened to it?"

"That's the cautionary tale I was telling you about." Xigbar smiled weakly as he replaced the eyepatch. "First, the only person you're ever allowed to breathe a word of this to is Axel, and then only to convince him to take better care of himself, understood? And he's not allowed to breathe a word of it to anyone else. The only reason I'm even telling you is because I think you and Axel need to hear it - I'd prefer it if all the neophytes assumed I lost an eye in hand-to-hand combat with some fearsome beast somewhere. If they all found out the truth - poof, there goes my aura of badassness."

Roxas had to stifle a laugh. "All right. I promise I won't tell anyone but Axel."

"All right..." Xigbar scratched his head, as if wondering where to begin. "So...Axel has high blood sugar. I always had high cholesterol, even when I was a kid. Not entirely my fault - it ran in the family - but, hell, I was young, strong, immortal, and free to eat all the bacon cheeseburgers and fried chicken and sausage pizza with extra cheese I damn well wanted to because I was young, strong, immortal, and therefore didn't have to worry about old people's health problems like high cholesterol until I actually got old, which, of course, was so far away I didn't need to worry about it." Roxas nodded - he wasn't having much trouble picturing Xigbar at about Axel's age, being exactly like he described - very much like Axel, in fact. "Even - Vexen, before he lost his heart - used to get on my ass about it all the time. Kept telling me that between all the garbage I ate on a regular basis and all the stress I put myself through, on the job and off, my heart was a ticking time bomb and I was bound to drop dead of a heart attack before I reached 50. I only shrugged him off when I didn't have the time or inclination to laugh in his face. When we all lost our hearts, I actually rubbed his face in it every opportunity I had - 'never gonna have a heart attack now, am I!'" Xigbar coughed slightly. "Yeah, he didn't appreciate that. But I figured that if there was one benefit to the situation, it was that I was now forever in the clear as far as diet and cholesterol went. Can't have a heart attack without a heart, and all that shit."

Roxas raised an eyebrow, sure this wasn't the end of the story. "So...what happened?"

Xigbar scratched his head, looking embarrassed. "I had a stroke about two months later."

Roxas blinked. "Oh," was all he could say to that startlingly undramatic announcement, and then "Oh," as the seriousness started to sink in. "That's...pretty bad."

Xigbar nodded emphatically. "Bad, yeah, and it coulda been a hell of a lot worse. If I hadn't been talking to Zexion when I keeled over, I coulda died before anyone realized I wasn't just off killing a few hours at the firing range. If I'd been standing on the ceiling - and trust me, I figured out how to do that in about the first day and a half - I coulda broken my neck and died of that instead. I was lucky I managed to get appropriate medical care almost immediately, and even then, I spent a fuckin' year just learning how to walk and talk and feed myself all over again."

Roxas swallowed nervously. "Somehow...I can't really picture that."

Xigbar snorted. "That's because I was damned lucky. The only permanent damage was going blind in one eye. I coulda been permanently paralyzed on one side. I coulda wound up blind in both eyes, or unable to put a whole sentence together - or even two words that both made sense. I coulda been left totally unable to take care of myself at all. I coulda wound up a damn vegetable. It took me five years just to work out the limp, and even if I'd been stuck with it, I still woulda gotten away pretty lightly."

Roxas nodded slowly. "Yeah...I guess."

"And I know having diabetes can increase your chances of cardiovascular problems - even without the 'cardio', you still got the 'vascular' to deal with. So you tell Axel that. You make sure he knows what kind of shit can happen if he doesn't take good care of himself. I found that out a little too late, so now I guess I get to serve as an example to others. Or a warning. One or the other."

"A warning, I guess..." Roxas said, rubbing his forehead uncomfortably as he tried to work out how he was going to tell all this to Axel. "Maybe you'd better tell him this yourself. It might have more impact direct from the source."

Xigbar thought about that, then nodded. "Yeah. I guess you have a point."

They stood there in a vaguely awkward silence for several moments, then Roxas cleared his throat. "You know...something I always wondered about...well, I know about your eye now, but...where'd you get the scar on your face?"

Xigbar grinned and chuckled. "I got that when we - Xaldin and I - were trying to recruit Saix...just our shit luck, it happened to be a full moon in his homeworld..."


AN: I've had this particular conversation kicking around my head, oh, ever since I wrote "The Sweetest Things" (meaning about an age and a half). And I'm only JUST writing it down. Shame.

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