Axel didn't drink all that often. Just when he was out with the guys at a bar, or when he'd had a really bad day - though it seemed he'd been having a lot of bad days lately. And frankly, days didn't come much worse than finding Larxene in bed with Marluxia. Getting kicked out of the bar for threatening the bartender when he got cut off hadn't helped his mood.

And maybe the two events had been three weeks apart, and the later of them had been three weeks ago. That wasn't important; they were still connected.

That bitch. That fucking bitch. Fine, she could have the candy-haired bastard. If she was so fucking stupid as to want him, she fucking deserved him. He didn't want anything to do with her anymore. To hell with her. To hell with both of them.

Why the fuck had she done that? He'd thought they had something...

Dammit, she was doing this to him. Started bitching about how he got drunk every damn night - he didn't. He never drank that fucking much. Well, not normally, but he'd been having a run of bad days. He had reason to drink. The bitch should have been understanding, not - well, bitchy. But she'd dumped him for that - flowery jackass - and now it was all her fault he was drunk.

How often had he been drinking before that? A few times a week - two, three - maybe four - his famous memory was failing him, clouded by whiskey. Well, now it was damn near every night. He hoped that bitch was proud of herself.

It had been six fucking weeks. Why the fuck couldn't he just let it go?

Shit. The bottle was empty.

He dropped it on the floor, kicked it under the bed, and started searching for another one. Fuck it all, he didn't know where he'd stashed the other bottles. He'd had to hide them, to get Roxas to stop bitching at him about it and make him think he'd gotten rid of them, and now he couldn't remember where the fuck he'd put them.

"Axel, what are - oh, no..."

He hit his head on the underside of the desk when he tried to stand up, which only made his mood even worse. He didn't need to look up to know who that was - Demyx, the little chickenshit. What sort of sadistic bastard had put him in the room next to the pathetic wuss? Why the fuck did they even keep the little asshole around? He was so weak, so useless, so...beautiful...

The worthless little coward was actually sweating as Axel grabbed his collar. "Maybe...y'do use."

"Axel, what are you doing?!" Demyx tried to get away, tried to run like the coward he was, but a quick fist to the face made him hold still for a few moments. By the time Axel had his robe unzipped, he was struggling again. Actually getting it off turned into a wrestling match - by the end, Demyx was flat on the floor, minus his robe and the T-shirt that had been under it, and Axel was straddling him. The sheer terror in those sea-blue eyes was like fuel to flame. "Axel! Please! Stop!"

This was even better than Larxene - she was never submissive, had never been afraid of him, never gave him the chance to really dominate like he deserved. He wrapped his hands around the struggling Nocturne's throat, ignoring how he tried to cry out, tried to pry his hands away, and only let go when his eyelids fluttered and drooped. He didn't mean to kill the rat, just get him to quit fighting for a bit. "That shut ya' up, li'l runt?" he cooed. While Demyx was gasping for breath, unable to move, Axel took the opportunity to remove his own clothing. He was down to his boxers when Demyx tried to get up and run away. "Don'...fuckin' that!" Axel shoved him headfirst into the wall, then followed it up with a blow to the jaw. While Demyx reeled, stunned, Axel quickly mashed their lips together. He was already burning with anticipation and desire, for the chance to slide more than his tongue into that slender body, to use the worthless Nocturne as he was meant to be used...and then Demyx bit his tongue. Hard.

Axel yelped and involuntarily pulled away. This time, he found himself being shoved into the wall. "Leave me alone!" Demyx screamed hysterically.

"'l...bashard..." A quick burst of flame flashed across the room; Demyx was too slow to avoid it completely. That ridiculous hairstyle he'd been so fond was ruined, and he was blistered from head to upper chest. While he staggered, Axel grabbed him by the throat again and shoved him up against the wall - with his back to the wall, but he'd turn him around soon enough, once he got those pants off. His hand reached down to investigate - yes, getting Demyx's pants off would be like getting the lid off a treasure chest. And boy, did he want what was inside.

"Axel, what are you doing?" The miserable coward was sobbing now, bawling like a little girl.

Axel tried to lick his ear, but found it covered in molten plastic. Disgusting. "I'm gonna fuck you," he whispered. He licked his burned, blistered cheek instead, ignoring the whimpers of pain, then thrust his hand down the front of Demyx's pants.

Needless to say, he wasn't expecting the fist.

Whatever he'd done this time, Axel had gone too far. Much too far.

Roxas had been awakened at 2:00 in the morning entirely too often recently, as Demyx called on him for shelter from Axel's alternately violent and amorous drunken outbursts. About one time in three, he was called on for care and comfort as well - he'd gained a lot of experience in icing bruises, soothing mild burns, and talking away fears. This time, he'd needed to wake Vexen up; Demyx had come knocking on his door with not just the usual bruises, but a serious burn on one side of his face and across his chest and shoulder. His hearing aid on that side had been melted to his skin, and Vexen had needed to freeze it solid and remove it quickly, or Demyx would have lost his hearing in that ear permanently, in a way that hearing aids couldn't compensate for. The whole time, the abused Nocturne - what Axel was doing to him definitely reeked of systematic abuse - Demyx had been remarkably calm and composed, until they'd returned to Roxas's room. Then he'd collapsed.

"It's okay. You're safe now. He's not getting in here," Roxas whispered into Demyx's intact hearing aid. Demyx had to be a good three or four years his senior, but he was sobbing in the Key of Destiny's arms like a little child, completely helpless. "What'd he do to you this time?"

Demyx could barely get three words out at once. "I...he...he wanted to...he tried to...Ax...why? me..." His voice was weak and strained, and not just from tears - apparently one of Axel's favorite tactics was to go for the throat.

Whatever Axel had done this time, that was enough. He couldn't answer for Demyx, but Roxas was just about done forgiving him. For now, all he could do was wait patiently for Demyx to calm down on his own - nothing and no one was going to comfort him any sooner. "Think you'll be all right?" he asked as Demyx's breathing grew a little less ragged and the tears stopped flowing quite so freely.

"I...I dunno, Rox." Demyx shook his head and shifted himself onto the floor. "I dunno if it's ever gonna be all right again. I mean, I know he was drunk off his ass, but..."

"What did he do?" Roxas asked, not sure he wanted to know the answer. Demyx stared at him for a good five seconds, then mumbled something too soft to hear. "What?"

"He tried to rape me."


Demyx was starting to sob again, upset all over again by being forced to repeat those five words. "He tried to rape me."

So the violent and amorous outbursts had coincided. Roxas had never realized before that the phrase "seeing red" referred to a genuine phenomenon, until his vision was suddenly clouded with scarlet. "...Wait right here. I'm gonna kill him."

Demyx caught his hand as he tried to stand up. "Rox -"

"Did he do it? Just answer honestly, yes or no - did he do it?!"

Demyx shook his head slowly. "No. I knocked him out."

"Oh...that's good..." Maybe he wouldn't kill Axel right away.

Demyx was blinking furiously and holding his forehead. "Rox...I...I think I'm gonna have a seizure..."

Every time it happened, they were grateful he got a little warning before the storm. By the time the convulsions hit, Demyx was lying on his side on Roxas's bed, where he was unlikely to hurt himself or anyone else while his body was no longer under his control. During the "grace period" afterwards, after the shaking had stopped but before Demyx came to, Roxas ducked into the bathroom and knocked on the closed door opposite his own. Luckily Fori was nocturnal by nature. If Axel was still out cold, this would be easy.

...Then again, maybe I am doing this a little too often.

"This", in Axel's case, was "waking up hungover on the floor wearing little besides his own vomit and not remembering how he got there". Kingdom Hearts, that stank. His carpet was an absolute mess. And he still didn't remember where the rest of his stash was, which was too bad, because he could use a "hair of the dog". Standing up slowly, to reduce the strain on his pounding head, he staggered into the bathroom to shower. Once upon a time, Demyx's bathroom door had been left open as often as it was closed, unless the bathroom was occupied. Now, it was always closed, and locked. Demyx never used to lock his door.

Axel sighed heavily as the water washed the filth off his skin - his friend had changed. He used to be so friendly and open - now he seemed to be scared of everything and everyone except Roxas - especially Axel. Hell, half the time he didn't even sleep in his own room, but in Roxas's. What the hell was he so scared of that he didn't feel safe in his own bed anymore? At least not having that stereo on next door was better for his hangover, Axel thought as he toweled himself off. His eye caught the mirror - and he stopped.

I. Look. Fucking. Awful.

It wasn't just the mottled bruises on his face, or the crusted blood from his nose and lip that hadn't been washed off completely, or his red eyes - those could be explained by a barfight and a hangover, respectively. Underneath his recent injuries, he looked like a cancer patient - sallow, emaciated, frail, like he only had six months to live. "What the fuck is wrong with me?"

The door opened suddenly. "You have a shitload of acetaldehyde in your system and virtually no glucose? I hope you didn't get so drunk you forgot where you put your candy supply."

Axel stared blankly at the other reflection in the mirror. "Fori, what the hell are you doing in Demyx's room?"

The demon Nobody smirked, revealing a mouthful of sharp teeth. "He and I have traded rooms temporarily."

Axel turned around and looked at him directly. "...In Kingdom Hearts's name, why?"

"Ask Roxas. It was his idea. This is presuming he'll still talk to you. By the way, drinking like a fish like you do is a great way to make sure your blood glucose is bottomed out all the time." The door shut just as suddenly as it had opened.

"I do not drink like a fish," Axel muttered. Then the rest of what he'd said hit him - first, that he had really low blood glucose and needed some sugar in his system pronto, and second, that Roxas had recommended Demyx stay the hell away from him. Why the fuck would he do something like that?!

As he stumbled back into his room to get dressed and find some of the hard candy he used to bring his blood glucose back up quickly, the first thing he noticed was that the floor was littered with empty bottles.

Demyx only took shelter in Roxas's room when Axel had been drinking heavily. And it had gotten to the point where he'd traded rooms with Foriuxocol - so Demyx would now have the room next to Roxas.

I need a drink.

Something finally clicked. I've just about decided that I'm having and causing all kinds of problems because I've been drinking too much, and my first thought is "I need a drink". I really do have a problem.

The large dining table where the Organization ate their communal meals was big enough for over twenty people, luckily. When it was seating thirteen, that gave Roxas ample opportunity to find a free seat far away from the one he'd been sitting in almost ever since he joined - the one right next to where Axel usually sat. The desperate looks Axel kept giving him across the table were met with furious glares. He tried to distract himself from how bored and lonely he felt by eating and thinking how Axel deserved to suffer for what he'd been doing.

But if anyone asked, he wasn't mad at Axel. And he didn't know where Demyx was - probably sleeping in. Well, he was; after a seizure, his natural inclination was to go right to natural sleep as soon as possible, so Roxas hadn't seen fit to wake him up, as long as he was still breathing all right.

After breakfast, his first priority was to go back and check on him, but Axel kept following him down the hallway, looking like a beaten dog. That didn't improve Roxas's mood any. "Has it occurred to you yet that I'm not exactly happy with you?"

"Yes, it has, and I don't blame you. I'm not entirely thrilled with myself either."

"Then why don't you go console yourself with a bottle or something?" Roxas said, not turning around or even breaking stride. He knew that was exactly what Axel would do, eventually; no matter how much he, Demyx, Larxene, or anyone else had tried to get him to give it up, he just kept drinking. Good luck if he tried to break into Demyx's room now; Fori would drain the blood out of his head until he passed out, then lock him out of the castle.

"Dammit, Roxas, stop walking away! I need help!"

There was something in Axel's voice that forced Roxas to pause and turn around. "...Help with what?" he asked warily.

Axel was staring at his shoes, looking like he wanted to shrivel up and die. "...I have a drinking problem," he finally admitted.

Did you just figure that out?! Roxas wanted to ask but didn't. Instead, he nodded understandingly - biting Axel's head off would be the exact wrong thing to do, now that he'd finally figured out for himself he was drinking too much. "You"

"Not in the hallway." Axel shook his head. "My room's a real shithole...I'd suggest your room, but I bet Demyx is in there and probably doesn't want anything to do with me." Roxas nodded silently. "I mean, why else would you get him and Fori to trade rooms?"

Roxas sighed heavily. It was all true, and thank Kingdom Hearts Axel was finally figuring it out, but he didn't need to hear it from anyone else right now. He had to do the talking now. "How's Twilight Town sound? The clock tower? That's private enough, isn't it?"

Axel nodded. "Yeah. That sounds okay."

"...and I just went, wow, I just realized the booze is causing me all kinds of problems and my first thought is 'I need a drink'." Axel had felt oddly compelled to buy a bottle of diet Coke instead of ice cream, which wasn't comforting - it meant he no longer felt comfortable without a bottle in his hand for long. He kept drinking from it anyway, wishing he had something to mix with it. "Goddamnit...I'm sitting here drinking Coke and I'm wishing it was alcohol. If that's not proof I'm an alcoholic, I dunno what is."

"Maybe." Roxas was obviously going out of his way to be inoffensive as possible. Axel appreciated his intent, but he kind of wished Roxas would come out and call him an idiot, like he knew he wanted to.

"How could I have let that happen? I mean, it's not like I just woke up one day and all of a sudden I could barely stop drinking long enough to complete a mission..." Axel sighed heavily. "Dammit, I know you're thinking it, I wish you would say it...I'm a fucking idiot."

Roxas looked a little stunned. "Okay...sometimes, I think you're the biggest idiot the worlds have ever known."

"That'll do." Axel took another drink of Coke, unable to keep himself from wishing it was whiskey. "Fuck, I could have killed myself in a hurry. Drinking alcohol lowers blood glucose - it's only sheer dumbass luck I didn't just pass out and fade from hypoglycemia, without anyone noticing until it was too late because they just assumed I was passed-out drunk. You'll notice this was never a consideration before now."

Roxas was fighting to hold back his Axel-you-idiot look. "Good thing you had someone looking out for you, then."

"Yeah, and what did I do to deserve it?" Axel finished off the bottle and stared into it bleakly. I need a drink. I should never have another drink in my life. "Fucked if I know - I can't remember. I can barely remember a thing about the last two months, and not a hell of a lot about the previous four."

Roxas snorted as he gnawed aimlessly on his empty ice cream stick. "I guess it wasn't a total surprise when you got drunk on your was more of a surprise when you were falling-down drunk by 1:00."

"I didn't even realize my birthday had come and gone for about a week." Axel sighed. "I'm such an asshole. What the hell did I do the whole day, when I wasn't busy getting crocked?"

"Mostly chased Demyx. Nonviolently."

Axel laughed humorlessly. "Maybe it'd seem funny to someone with a real sick sense of humor - half the time I can't keep my hands off him and half the time I can't keep my fists out of his face. So what'd I do to him last night?"

Roxas looked at him for a long moment before answering. "...Burned most of his hair off and melted one of his hearing aids."

Axel shook his head. "That's not the whole story. What aren't you telling me?"

Roxas froze. Axel held his breath. "Do you really want to know?"

"Yes, I do. I'm not expecting it to be pleasant or anything - hell, if it wasn't that bad, you'd have told me straight off." Roxas still hesitated. "Come on. What the fuck did I do that was so bad? Rape him?"

"You tried." Roxas's voice was dead serious. The empty bottle started on a long fall to the ground below the tower. "Those bruises on your face are from when he fought back."

Axel squeezed his eyes shut, debating whether or not he should follow the bottle down. "I'm glad he did."

The same car accident that had left Demyx with periodic seizures had left him permanently somewhat confused about Roxas's identity. When he'd first come to after the crash, he'd had the idea that Roxas had been replaced by a doppelganger, and subconsciously, he still had that impression. For the most part, he'd managed to convince himself that Roxas after the accident really was the same person as Roxas before the accident, but when he was confused and disoriented - for instance, when he was waking up after a seizure - he still looked at Roxas and his mind went "stranger pretending to be a friend".

So it came as a surprise to all three of them when he was finally jostled awake, found Axel and Roxas looking at him - and immediately clung to Roxas, looking at Axel with fright. "Demyx - it's okay - he's sober -"

Demyx stared at them both for a long moment, then slowly let go of Roxas. "Sorry," he mumbled. "Just a little - confused for a second."

Axel sighed heavily. "Fuck this. I should get out of here."

"Wait -" Roxas grabbed his hand. "You've got some explaining to do. You're not off the hook yet."

Demyx sat up slowly. "Wait...what's going on?" His skin felt strange - so sore and raw...and one of his hearing aids was burned out or something; he was hearing nothing at all in that ear... He put one hand up to check and found that entire side of his face was covered in bandages, and his ear felt like it was stuffed with cottonballs. He whimpered faintly as the memory of last night came rushing back, and he shied away from Axel again.

Axel looked sick. "I told you..." he muttered to Roxas.

"I can't say it for you!" Roxas insisted, which made Demyx wonder what he couldn't say.

"Fine..." Axel sat down in Roxas's desk chair and stared at the floor while Demyx tried to figure out how far the bandages extended. "So, Demyx...still willing to listen to me?

"I..." He'd been Demyx's best friend for years, he'd trust him with his life, but - after last night - Kingdom Hearts, if he'd been able to - if he'd done it for real - Demyx would never have been able to look at himself in the mirror again - "Only when you're sober," he whispered.

"I am now," Axel murmured. "And I wanna stay that way. But I need help."

Demyx blinked a little in surprise. "Wh-what do you mean?"

Roxas glared meaningfully at Axel, who took a deep breath. "I have a drinking problem. And I want to get rid of it."

Did you just figure that out? was Demyx's first thought. Then it hit him - Axel wanted to stop drinking. No more waking up and hearing noises from Axel's room and being afraid to investigate. No more having to lock both doors after 6:00 just in case. No more sneaking down to Roxas's room after midnight, burned, battered, and afraid. No more uncomfortable scenes at breakfast, when Axel knew damn well he'd been acting inappropriately the night before but couldn't remember what he'd been doing to save his life."You...really mean it?"

Axel nodded. "I don't ever want this to happen again," he murmured softly. "It almost went too far this time. I don't ever want it to get this far again."

Demyx almost started to smile a little - finally, this cycle of fear and abuse might come to some sort of end that was neither tragic nor violent - but some little voice in his head suddenly asked: Can you trust him? After all, once upon a time he'd known that Axel would never deliberately hurt him, sober or drunk...

He sighed. At least he was going to try. The least Demyx could do was have a little faith in him.

AN: This one has been in the works for ages and ages and AGES. I should have started publishing it ages AGO. I have works in progress that were set before this. But I was sick of just staring at it and never actually posting it.

It won't be too quick to update.

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