Please...please wake up...please, remember us...

Unthinkingly, Axel reached out and stroked Demyx's hair gently. As he should have expected, his hand was viciously knocked away, and Demyx glared at him with fever-bright eyes and said something in a sharp tone that made no sense at all. According to Zexion, he was speaking Hindi, but made no more sense in Hindi than English.

"I'm sorry...didn't mean to scare you..." he whispered softly. Demyx only glared more intently, and spat out a few more words, then suddenly choked and started to cough with increasing violence. Soon, he was folded in half on his hospital bed, his entire body racked with violent coughs. Axel squeezed his eyes shut, ignoring the tears that spilled out, and started rubbing Demyx's back gently; Demyx gave him a look that quite clearly said piss off, but was coughing too hard to either snap at him or knock his hand away.

"Is he doing any better?" Roxas sat himself down in the chair next to Axel's, his face looking artificially bright and hopeful. They both knew that sick as Demyx was, and as little improvement as he'd made in two weeks...the odds of him ever getting better were growing slimmer by the day. Roxas's face fell as Axel shook his head. "Well...is he getting any worse?"

Axel sighed heavily. "I don't know...it's so hard to tell..." Demyx finally came out of his coughing fit, groaning in obvious pain, then caught sight of Roxas and flinched away, gasping in fear. This triggered another bout of coughing, and while Axel and Roxas looked on in helpless fear, a few drops of blood suddenly appeared, dotting the sheets and his clenched fist. Roxas gasped and almost screamed, but Axel clamped a hand over his mouth. "Don't waste your time...I've seen him coughing blood before..."

Roxas balled his hands into fists and buried his face in Axel's shoulder. "Dammit, Ax...why?! Why – any of this?!"

Axel hugged him tightly, then, as Demyx's second coughing fit came to a painful end, he started gently stroking Demyx's hair again. No knowing who he thought the two of them were at any given moment, as far out of his mind as he was, but he seemed to trust whoever he thought Axel was right then. Instead of knocking his hand away and yelling at him, he just sighed quietly and started to cry. "I don't know," Axel murmured softly to Roxas. "I wish I did."

"Isn't there anything else they can do?..."

Axel shook his head, feeling crushed by grief. "No. They've tried everything...they even sent Fori back to the world where Demyx got sick, in case he could pick up anything about some folk remedy or something...but he didn't find a thing. Vexen wants to try to ship him off to a real mega-high-tech hospital, but...Xemnas won't let him. Too big a risk for the rest of us."

Roxas shook his head as Demyx squirmed away from Axel's hand and started coughing violently again. "I'd take that risk."

Axel sighed and rested his chin on the top of Roxas's head. "So would I." Hell, he'd happily stick a gun in his mouth and pull the trigger, if he could spare Demyx this horrible, painful, pointless death, but he didn't have that option. "Dammit...you hear all these stupid miracle stories about someone who was brought back from Death's door by getting an apple a day or having Shakespeare read to 'em...fuck. Too damn bad you need Demyx to summon a sitar for you to play. If anything had a chance in hell of bringing him back, that'd be it." He shook his head. "So where is it? Where's our miracle?"

Demyx murmured something like "I wasn't bothering you" and buried his face in his pillow. "I know you weren't," Roxas said, putting a hand on Demyx's shoulder in an effort to reassure, but Demyx shied away. Roxas sighed and squeezed his eyes shut; Axel couldn't help but brush the tears away. "Where is he? Where's his mind?"

"Probably back on the street." Axel's fists clenched. "Fuck it all...if he couldn't be mentally here, why did he have to go back there? Why couldn't he be thinking he's somewhere nice? Somewhere with a lot of blue sky and fresh air and an ocean view and..." He paused suddenly, eyes widening. "You know what, Rox...I think I'm gonna go talk to Xemnas."


The room was too bright, Demyx decided as he opened his eyes. Not painfully bright. Not "oh, great, I have a hangover" bright - though he had no clear memory of what he'd been doing and how he got here. But brighter than his room should have been, and brighter than any room he figured he'd have any reason to wake up in. In fact...if he was right, and he was looking out a window...it was sunny out. That was impossible, but it seemed to be true.

Well, he felt terrible - all weak and achy and sick, like he'd just run a marathon on an empty stomach on a searingly hot day. Was he sick, and hallucinating the sunny window? The last thing he remembered very clearly was giving the Superior the paperwork from his last long mission, and praying it wasn't going to take too long because he felt like he was going to throw up, and Xemnas had given him one of those looks and asked if he needed medical attention...oh, no. Gods grant he hadn't been sick to his stomach in front of Xemnas. He'd never live that down. Had he? Dammit, he couldn't remember what had happened next, after handing over his paperwork...had he been sick right then? Had he collapsed? Had he managed to get through whatever Xemnas had to say without humiliating himself, and staggered back to his own room before throwing up or passing out or whatever? Where the hell was he now, anyway? And what was he doing there?

He sat up a little, waited until his head stopped spinning, and looked around. Assuming what he was seeing was real, he was in a clean, well-lit room he'd never seen before, decorated in light blues and whites with an abstract nautical theme. He couldn't see anything but a bright blue sky out the window, but he could sense a huge body of water not too far away - if he could sit up and see out it properly, he'd probably have an ocean view.

Well, if he had been sick, and was sent here to recover, he ought to thank whoever had made the arrangements. He'd already decided he liked it here. But why would they have done that, unless he was either extremely contagious or so sick he needed specialized care Vexen couldn't deliver? And if he needed highly specialized care, why hadn't he been put in a regular hospital? Why a charming seaside room with a view? Then again, if he was contagious, why had he been allowed visitors? At least, he assumed he had, or the room had come equipped with a stereo and copies of some of his favorite CDs and blankets identical to some he owned.

...How long have I been here...?

He fell back on the bed, too weak to keep holding himself up, and thought he heard footsteps outside. A few seconds later, the door opened, and a familiar face looked at him with fear and concern. It took Demyx a few tries to find his voice. "Ax...whas wrong?" he croaked softly. His chest ached when he tried draw enough breath to talk. "Where am I? Why'm I here?"

Axel's expression changed dramatically; he suddenly grinned broadly, as if his birthday had come early. "Finally! Welcome back to the land of the living!"

Demyx didn't like the sound of that too well. "...That bad, huh?"

Axel sat down on the bed next to him and felt his forehead. "Your fever's gone down quite a bit," he said with obvious relief. "How are you feeling?"

"Shitty." Demyx didn't have the energy to describe exactly how awful he felt just then; one word was the best he could do. "What happened?"

Axel gave him a wry smile. "I know I told you a long time ago never to go on a mission when you were sick...I guess I should have added 'don't come back from one sick'. Which I guess is exactly what you did this time." He sighed and ruffled Demyx's hair. "The story as far as I know it is you came back from your week in Tevar, handed in your paperwork to Xemnas, and disappeared. I didn't even know you'd come back until Xemnas came up to me at breakfast the next morning and asked me where you were - he was the only one who knew you were back, and he thought you'd looked awful the night before, so when I told him you were never in your room that night, and Vexen hadn't seen you either, he put two and two together and ordered a castle-wide manhunt, pronto. Zexion eventually found you wandering down an empty corridor a mile from everywhere, burning up and out of your head from fever."

"Oh..." Demyx croaked. It seemed a very long way from an empty corridor in the Castle that Never Was to a seaside room in a world whose name he didn't even know yet. "How'd I get here?"

Axel's face was entirely serious now. "Well, as soon as Zexion found you and let the rest of us know where you were and what kind of shape you were in, Vexen took you straight up to the hospital wing. But Vexy, Zexy, and Fori all working together couldn't figure out what the hell was wrong with you, and you just kept getting worse and worse...trouble breathing, couldn't stop coughing, couldn't handle solid food anymore...and you were out of it the whole time; at first you knew who we were but not what was going on around you, then you got us all confused with each other, then you thought we were trying to hurt you...and you had three seizures in less than a week..." Axel's voice had become very soft. "When you stopped answering us at all, I thought..."

He broke off suddenly, and turned his head away as if to look out the door he'd come in. He shouldn't have bothered; it was fairly obvious to Demyx that Axel didn't want him to see him cry. "Never mind what I thought," Axel said finally, turning back towards him. "God bless Roxas - even with all the brainpower working on your case, he was the first one to figure out that you wouldn't answer anyone because you couldn't hear anything; you weren't that completely out of it, your hearing aid batteries were dead." The smile he'd hastily forced when he turned around was starting to fade. "Once you got fresh batteries, you didn't get any worse after that...but you didn't get much better either, and, well...it was scary. The brain trust couldn't figure out what was wrong or how to fix it to save their own lives, no matter how they busted their asses...they even sent Fori back to Tevar to see if he could find anything out about it from the locals...but Tevar isn't an industrialized world, I guess. Pretty poor standards of health care and medical records and all that shit."

Demyx nodded weakly - he remembered most of Tevar consisting of a lot of swampland with the occasional thatched cottage and the odd fairly dismal village. Not a very charming world. "But..."

Axel went right on as if he hadn't said anything. "Vexen was about ready to try sending you off to a real high-tech hospital. Xemnas came that close to blowing a gasket when he heard about it. You can imagine why - even in sci-fi-type worlds, how often do you think they get live hospital patients with no pulse? Maybe they wouldn't come after us with torch and pitchfork, but frankly, I don't think I'd enjoy being paraded as a medical freak either. The conversation went back and forth between 'It could be his only chance!' and 'We do not want to be exposed!'..." He suddenly looked inordinately proud of himself. "Renting the cottage was my idea. I waited until they'd almost come to blows over it, so any other idea would seem like a great one, and said 'Maybe what he really needs is fresh air and sunlight'...and much to everyone's surprise, my own not least, they actually listened. Probably because they were desperate and didn't figure they could lose much if it didn't work. I didn't know if it'd work or not; most of my argument was 'it can't hurt and it might help'." He grinned. "And what do you know. It worked almost immediately. Since you got here, you've been breathing a lot easier, you quit coughing, you've been sleeping most of the time, instead of raving, you've been putting up much less of a fight about taking your meds, and now you're actually lucid for the first time in two weeks!"

The world was staying fairly level and steady; it was just Demyx's head that was spinning a little. "I've been here...two weeks?"

Axel shook his head. "You've only been in the cottage for...four days or so. It's been two weeks since you got back from Tevar." Demyx nodded weakly, suddenly feeling very tired indeed - two weeks that he'd spent completely delirious, that had held so much fear and anxiety for his friends but were nothing but a dim, foggy hole in his memory. "This place was for rent by the week, pretty cheap," Axel said musingly, as if he didn't notice Demyx's reaction to the news. "The first day you were here, Vexen spent the night in the other bedroom, in case of emergency. Once he realized how much better you were doing, he's had us going in shifts of two, keeping an eye on you - in case something happened, there'd be one to run get help and one to stay behind and look after you."

Demyx didn't bother asking if he'd been that sick - he knew from Axel's behavior that he had been. "Is Roxas here too?"

"I wish. It's me and Luxord right now. I could have had worse company, but there's only so many times one sane person can stand to lose at poker, even if you're not playing for anything...oh, speaking of which, I better go tell him you're aware and alert now, so he can go tell Vexen..." Axel sprang up and went for the door, then paused and glanced back from the doorway. "I'm so glad you're finally awake..."

Despite how awful he felt, Demyx managed to crack a genuine smile. "So am I."


"Body temperature is much lower than it had been..." Vexen muttered to himself, examining the thermometer he'd just removed from Demyx's mouth. "Patient appears to be fully conscious and oriented and capable of intelligent conversation..."

"I hope so," Demyx said with as much force as he could muster. Vexen always talked to himself about his patients like they weren't in the room, which was always annoying for them if they were.

Vexen, as expected, ignored him. "Lingering symptoms? Nausea, difficulty breathing..."

Demyx nodded weakly. "I feel like shit all over. Still kinda hurts to breathe. Don't think I wanna try eating yet." What he wanted to do was curl up and go back to sleep, but he wouldn't be allowed to do that until Vexen left, and once Vexen left, Axel would probably pop right back in. "Don't think I could stand up on a bet..."

Vexen nodded distantly. "In all probability, you will be remaining here to recuperate for several more days, at the very least." Demyx tried not to smile; if Vexen thought he was looking forward to it, he might be dragged back to the castle. Instead, he merely nodded solemnly. "Attempting to return you to the castle is not only likely to be more difficult than the benefits are worth, but may lead to a relapse - which is the last thing we dare risk at this point," Vexen said emphatically.

Demyx couldn't help but smile weakly. "Nice to know you care," he croaked. Vexen looked at him like he had no idea what he was talking about. "So...um...am I allowed visitors?"

Vexen snorted. "As the Superior seems to be in no hurry to chain Eight and Thirteen in the dungeon, then yes, doubtlessly."

"Good..." If he hadn't been allowed visitors, he would probably have been in danger of being bored to death. Though going by the way he felt right now, he was probably going to be spending most of his recovery time fast asleep, which was going to make things pretty boring for his visitors...well, he couldn't win everything. Obviously.

"One monitor at a time should be perfectly adequate now," Vexen was saying while Demyx was busy thinking; he quickly returned his attention to what the Chilly Academic had to say. "You are not to exert yourself unnecessarily in the slightest degree for any reason, at least until further notice. Understood?" Demyx nodded. If the idea he'd gotten from Axel about how sick he'd been was the least bit accurate, a relapse would probably kill him; no chance he was going to tempt fate. "Very well...your medications are all in the drawer next to your bed -" Demyx, who hadn't realized there was a drawer there, quickly looked, and then had to wait for the world to stop spinning before he actually saw it - "along with a list of instructions. They were originally written for your monitors, but I see no reason why you should be unable to make use of them yourself. Do you have any questions?" Demyx shook his head gingerly, trying not to set the world spinning again. "Very well then...I will return tomorrow, unless summoned earlier." Demyx nodded, and Vexen gathered up his notepad and disappeared.

As if he'd been hiding somewhere waiting for Vexen to leave, Axel stuck his head in the door not fifteen seconds later. "So...how bad was it?"

"Not too bad..." Demyx mumbled, absolutely not feeling up for a visit but unwilling to tell Axel to leave him alone. "Not allowed to get outta bed, but...not like I wanted to..."

Axel nodded, then checked his watch. "Hey, it's just about lunchtime."

Demyx pulled a face. "No thanks. 'Less you wanna clean up."

"Sorry, little brother, but you don't have a choice." Axel smirked, went for the drawer Vexen had pointed out earlier, and pulled out - a can of Ensure. "What, Doctor Vexen didn't see fit to tell you you were on a liquid diet until further notice?" He opened the can and held it to Demyx's lips, helping him sit upright enough to drink. "Gotta keep your strength up somehow, and since liquids are about all you can hold..." Demyx pulled another face, but drank obediently, absorbing the liquid through the skin of his mouth and throat before it reached his stomach. "I know, it's not much, but it's better than nothing."

"Not much better," Demyx grumbled when the can was empty, lying back down and closing his eyes.

"You look like you're about to fall asleep there," Axel observed.

"Uh huh." That was all Demyx still had the energy to say.

"All right. Well, I'm gonna go get something for my own lunch...and...long as I'm here..." Demyx heard a soft scraping sound, then a thump. When he opened his eyes, he found the stereo sitting next to his bed, in easy reach, and Axel was moving the CDs over too. "Sorry, did I wake you up?" Axel pushed a button, and the room was suddenly filled with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Demyx couldn't help but smile. "There you go. Sweet dreams and swift recovery and all that." Still smiling, Demyx rolled over and closed his eyes again as Axel disappeared through the door. He couldn't bring himself to take his hearing aids off to sleep.


By his own estimation, Demyx slept over 20 hours a day at first - whatever he'd had, it had drained him utterly. He barely had the strength to sit up on his own, and couldn't stay sitting up for more than about five minutes - and it was a good thing that his liquids-only diet and powers over water meant that he didn't need to use the bathroom, because he would have had to be carried there and back. It wasn't like he had much dignity left; that would have destroyed the rest completely.

He didn't spend much time thinking about things like that. He woke up only for meals, and for Vexen's daily checkup, and when Axel stopped by. For the most part, he thought only about whatever was immediately at hand, like answering questions or finishing his drink, and resting - until suddenly, on what he guessed was the third day since he'd come around, he woke up and asked "What world am I on?"

"It's called Sebrell," Roxas answered, and Demyx suddenly realized that until now, he hadn't had any visitors besides Axel and Vexen, at least that he remembered. "It's actually Luxord's homeworld, though this isn't the part he's from."

"Oh...okay..." He'd been here before, then, just not...here. "...Uh...what's up? Anything interesting?"

Roxas shrugged and sat down on one end of the bed. "Not really. Life is kind of going on as usual in your absence...or close to it."

Demyx blinked and sat up a little, surprised to discover it only made him a little dizzy. "Only kind of close to?"

Roxas scratched his head self-consciously. "Well...it's obviously not exactly the same...I mean, you're way out here, and I guess you're gonna be staying here for a good, long while..."

Demyx smiled weakly. "Not the same when I'm not around? Thanks, I guess..."

"Well...yeah." Roxas sighed and copied his weak smile. "It was a lot worse when you were really sick."

Demyx bit his lip, a little nervously. He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer to what he was about to ask. "Um...how bad was it? Really?"

Roxas winced visibly. "...Well...it was bad. Really bad." Demyx sighed and waited for him to continue. "I mean...you were absolutely out of your head. I heard you screaming at Xigbar once...he was trying to hold you down so Vexen could try to get some medicine down your throat, and you didn't want anything to do with it. You were screaming and swearing at him like he'd been threatening you - I think you actually punched him. He had to get Axel to help, and when he came in, you burst into tears and tried to escape." Roxas glanced away awkwardly. "That's...kinda how you were most of the time, I guess."

Demyx cringed. He'd gotten that impression from Axel, sure, but it wasn't very comfortable to know for a fact. "Sorry about that," he murmured, feeling embarrassed.

"Ah, it wasn't your fault." Roxas was trying to sound casual, but Demyx could see the remembered anxiety in his eyes. "You were too sick to know what you were doing." He stared off into the distance. "Axel was crying when he left that day," he said softly. "He was sure you...you were..." He trailed off, biting his lip.

"...Gonna die?" Demyx prompted gently, and Roxas blanched. Well, it wasn't like he hadn't already had that strong impression. "Well...I didn't, and I don't think I will any time soon. So you can relax now."

Roxas sighed, and ruffled his hair just like Axel did. "You scared the hell out of us."

Demyx couldn't help but smile. "I kind of gathered that, from talking to Axel..." Hmm, he'd been sitting up for almost five minutes now; he should have been about ready to collapse again, but he wasn't. "Nice to know you guys care."

Roxas shook his head, looking slightly exasperated. "Why does this always seem to come as a surprise to you?"

Demyx sighed, feeling oddly content. "It doesn't anymore...but it is always nice to know."


After a week or so, Demyx was sleeping closer to 14 or 16 hours a day, and had an easier time sitting up for extended periods - he could even sit up far enough to see out the window, and he did indeed have a beautiful ocean view. He still didn't have nearly enough strength to try to get out of bed, and though he might have been able to eat the blandest of solid foods, like plain rice and dry toast, he was sticking of his own free will to a liquid diet until he could at least walk to the bathroom and back on his own. What he would have really liked was a bath - he'd been living in the same set of pajamas and between the same sheets for well over a week at the minimum, and for the first few days, at least, he'd been running a high fever; by now, he was pretty sure he was starting to smell like it. But that wasn't his biggest problem.

His biggest problem was that he was spending a great deal of time bored out of his mind.

Sure, he wasn't in a hurry to move back into the castle - he did like the sunlight and beautiful view and the ocean breezes he got when there was someone around to ask to open the window (Vexen wouldn't let him leave it open indefinitely). But he didn't have a thing to do besides drink, sleep, and talk if he had a visitor, since Vexen had decided he no longer needed to be looked after at all hours. And listen to CDs, which took slightly more time and effort than sleeping. He didn't even have a clock to watch.

I know I'm supposed to be devoting my energy to recovery...but damn, couldn't I at least get a book? The most exciting thing I've done so far is change my hearing aid batteries...

"Good morning. Still alive?"

Demyx sighed. "Ax, that greeting is getting just a little old. Yes, I am still alive, and I seem to be staying that way. You don't need to keep asking."

Axel gave him a vaguely apologetic look. "Well...it can't hurt to make sure..."

Demyx groaned. "This may come as a surprise to you, but my Proof of Existence is still at the castle."

"It can't carry on an intelligent conversation..."

"Neither can I. Some days, neither can you."

"...I don't have to come here, you know."

"Yes you do. If you didn't, I'd die of boredom." Demyx sighed and stared out the window. "There's just nothing for me to do here...could you open the window?"

Axel rolled his eyes, but did as he asked. "Why does it seem like I have to do this every time I come here?"

"Because Vexen doesn't let me leave it open. This isn't the tropics; it does get cold here at night, and he's worried that if I catch the slightest chill, I'll have a relapse." Axel snorted. "Believe me. He even goes out of his way to make sure the room doesn't get too cold while he's in here."

"How considerate," Axel said dryly.

"I'm still waiting on being allowed more than one visitor at a time," Demyx said, lying back and closing his eyes. "Ugh. I need medication for boredom, if there is such a thing."

"Prozac?"

Demyx opened his eyes and winced. "Never mind. Next time you come, though, please, I am begging you, bring books, pens, and staff paper."

Axel gave him a look. "Now, I know you, and I know what you're like, and while I'll be imperfectly happy to bring you some books, there is no way in hell I'm bringing you staff paper." Demyx choked. "For your own good," Axel clarified. "If I let you have staff paper, you might compose yourself to death."

Demyx wanted to protest, but he had to admit Axel had a point. When the music took him, he could go without food, sleep, or even a short break for days on end in a composing frenzy. The last time he'd done it, he'd collapsed as soon as he signed his name to the finished piece and wound up spending the next two weeks in bed - and he'd been perfectly healthy when he'd started. If he did that right now...he didn't really want to think what the consequences of that would be. "...Then bring lots of books," he eventually grumbled petulantly.

"Okay. That, I can do." Axel sat down on the edge of the bed, sighing.

Demyx looked at him with slight irritation and concern. "What's the matter with you?"

Axel swiveled his head towards him, forced a weak smile, and ruffled his hair. "It's your fault. I don't like seeing you like this."

"...What are you talking about?"

"Well...I know you're getting better, but you're still so weak and wiped out all the time...can't even eat solid food yet...it feels like it's taking you ages to recover."

"It's only been a week...That I know of."

Axel suddenly gave him a much warmer smile. "Guess I can't complain, can I. You are getting better, and that's what's important."

Demyx sighed, definitely irritated now. "For the love of Kingdom Hearts, I really wish you'd stop hinting at how sick I was. It's like missing an incredible action movie, except for the very end when all the action is over and we're just about to the happily-ever-after, and all anyone else can talk about is all the action you missed."

Axel stared at him for several seconds, as if he had not the slightest idea what he could possibly be talking about, then had the decency to look abashed. "Well...I guess that makes sense...never thought about it from your end...it was just...very memorable from our end."

"I got that impression."


The days sort of blended together, even though Demyx was able to think clearly all the time he was awake. He still slept more of the day than he spent awake, but the time he spent awake, he kept noticing he was stronger and more alert than he remembered. And he was spending much less of that time simply lying in bed being bored and much more sitting up reading all those books Axel and Roxas had generously provided. He still got bored and restless sometimes, but it wasn't so constant.

He still wished Axel would bring him some staff paper.

And he'd been having some strange dreams, too, or maybe vague, distorted memories from his terrible fever. All he remembered of them were fractured images - Vexen looking especially grim and pale, Xigbar holding one side of his face and yelling at someone over his shoulder, Axel burying his face in his hands and sobbing, Roxas looking closely at him with mixed anxiety and thoughtfulness...

All things considered, they probably were vague, fever-warped memories. And not very comforting ones.

I must have been acting like a gods-damned idiot, he thought, followed closely by I'm damn lucky I lived long enough to recover.

"Something big bugging you, dude?"

Demyx had to take a couple deep breaths before answering. "Xigbar...never startle me like that again. I just about fell out of bed, and Vexen would have kicked your ass if I had."

"Well, you didn't, so he won't," Xigbar said airily. "So how've you been? What's up?"

"Nothing much...I was just lying here pondering how lucky I probably am to still be alive..."

Xigbar winced and glanced away. "Uh...yeah..."

Demyx sighed. "Please, don't tell me exactly how lucky I am. I've heard enough about it from Axel and Roxas. Fucked up in the head and all that."

"...Yeah. You could...you could say that."

"Lovely. No stories, please." Demyx looked out the window and sighed again. "...I am so fucking bored."

Xigbar shrugged. "Dunno what to do for you there, dude...maybe stand up? Walk around a bit?"

Demyx groaned. "Can't. Still not strong enough."

Xigbar raised an eyebrow. "You tried yet?"

"Uh...no. I haven't yet," Demyx said, feeling vaguely embarrassed. "It didn't seem worth the risk."

Xigbar gestured expressively. "Then how do you know, dude? Hell, maybe just trying to stand would help you recover quicker - lyin' around all day can't be doing much good for your physical condition!"

Demyx squirmed and sat up a little more. "Well, neither was being sick and delirious for two weeks..."

"Ah, hush, dude. Give it a shot. I'll help you."

Demyx blinked. "...What?"

"Exactly what I said. You can't just lie around all day and expect to get your full strength back. You gotta try standing up sometime."

"A-are you sure it's - "

"If you never try standing up, you're never gonna stand up again."

Demyx sighed, defeated, and slowly eased himself over to the edge of the bed. "Good point. I give." Once he was sitting on the edge of the bed, Xigbar slid an arm under his shoulders and helped him upright. It made him every bit as dizzy as trying to sit up the first time after coming to, but he managed to stay upright and conscious, even with most of his weight on his own feet instead of on Xigbar. "Okay. Whoo...haven't dropped dead yet," he murmured when his head cleared a bit.

"Good to know, dude." Xigbar glanced over at the window. "Think you might be up to actually taking a few steps?"

Demyx stared at him in disbelief. "Are you kidding me?"

Xigbar shook his head. "Just to the window and back or something. It's not far. Barely ten steps round-trip."

Demyx winced. "Right now, ten steps seems like an awful long way."

"Come on, dude. I'm right here next to you. Even if you pass out on the way, I'll haul your ass back to bed. I'll even tuck you in."

Once again, Demyx realized arguing would get him nowhere. "Fine. Just to the window and back."

"Good kid..." Xigbar took one small step towards the window; to Demyx, it felt like it took ten minutes to pick up one foot and take a step of his own. The next step only seemed to take eight minutes, and every step after that became a little bit easier until they actually got to the window. Once stable, Demyx stood there, drinking in every bit of the best view he'd had of anything outside this little room in two weeks - the blue sky, the sand, the waves, the beach grass, the occasional sunbather - until Xigbar gently tugged at his arm. "Better get back to bed, dude. You're gettin' whiter by the second."

Demyx nodded, not tearing his eyes away from the window until the last possible second. "Yeah...I guess so..." While every step on the way to the window had become a little easier than the last, the trip back to the bedside had the exact opposite effect. By the time he and Xigbar returned to where they'd started, Demyx was as exhausted as if he'd been walking for a whole day while healthy. He was more than ready to climb back into bed and rest. "Wow...that was tiring..."

"But you did it, dude," Xigbar reminded him as he helped him into bed. "That's the important part. You did it - and now you know you can do it, at least with help. And you weren't even leanin' on me all that much."

"Good point," Demyx murmured as he worked his way under the covers and curled up. Within moments, he was fast asleep.


As difficult as those first few steps had been, every time Demyx tried to hobble out of bed afterwards, he had a much easier time of it. Within a few days, he was able to make it as far as the bathroom on his own, though he had to stop there and rest for a good, long while each time before trying to make his way back. He still liked this seaside room, and what little he'd explored of the rest of the cottage, but now he was starting to look forward to eventually regaining enough strength to return to the castle. This rest was nice, but there was no place like home, after all. Even if "home" was someplace called "The World that Never Was".

Next time I see Vexen, he decided, I need to ask him about getting some real food. And maybe ask Axel about staff paper, now that I'm not feeling so frail. He probably won't give me any, but I can at least try. Just then, a portal opened in the hallway outside his door, and just to show off, he stood up and stumbled out to meet this latest visitor.

"Demyx, get back in bed," Roxas insisted, his face pale. "Now. What in Kingdom Hearts' name are you doing? What are you thinking?"

Demyx drew back a little, startled by his vehemence. "Going for a bit of a walk. I can't exactly lie around all day, can I?"

Roxas nearly shoved him back into the bedroom. "Bed. Now. You want a relapse or something?"

Demyx backed away, wondering what all this was about. "Well - no - but I've been sort of on my feet for a few days now -"

"Then you've been acting stupid for a few days. Now quit being an idiot and get some rest."

Backed up against the edge of the bed, Demyx stopped, but made no move to either sit down or get back in bed - he was starting to get a little irritated by now. "Roxas, in case you haven't cued in, I can walk a few steps just fine without keeling over, dead or otherwise. And I definitely haven't had a relapse. So what the hell is your issue?"

Roxas suddenly went from next best to furious to looking like he was about to cry. "Axel started throwing up last night," he said in a very small voice. "And this morning he was running a really high fever."

Demyx sat down suddenly, one hand moving to cover his mouth. "Oh, no," he whispered. "Oh, no." If Axel had come down with whatever he was now recovering from...oh, Gods...Demyx had been otherwise perfectly healthy when he fell ill, and it had still come that close to killing him...and Axel had the extra specter of diabetes hanging over his head...

Please...if there are any gods out there who'd listen to a Nobody...don't let that be what's wrong with Axel. Let it be something he can recover from. If he has what I had...it's going to kill him.

Roxas sat down next to him and buried his face in his hands. "I'm scared," he murmured. "If he has what you had...oh, Kingdom Hearts...you barely lived through it, and...he has diabetes...if he...ohhh..." He whimpered softly, his shoulders quaking with sobs. Demyx hesitated, debating trying to comfort him versus the risk of possibly infecting him - after all, if he'd infected Axel...

Eventually, he settled for giving Roxas a hug. "He'll be all right," he whispered softly. "He's tough. Maybe he'll have a hard time of it, but..." He blinked furiously, trying not to notice the tears dripping from his eyes. "He'll be okay. I'm sure he will."

Roxas buried his face in his shoulder and sobbed. "But what if he isn't?" he choked. "What if...what if he...Demyx, what if he can't fight it off? What if he..."

"Shh." Demyx stroked Roxas's hair gently. "Then I'm sure you'll see him in his next life. Even if you're separated for a while, you'll find each other again. Besides...if he lives through it all right, you're going to feel pretty silly about falling apart like this, won't you? You don't even know for sure that's what he has, do you?"

Roxas sighed heavily. "No...I...guess not...at least not yet..."

"Well, then, what if he just has the flu or something? Then you'll have gotten yourself all worked up for no reason!" Demyx said, more confidently than he felt.

"I...guess...but...I can't help it..."

Demyx sighed. "Well, if you absolutely have to worry about Axel, go do it in front of Axel, okay? Go take care of him. Take good care of him. If it's something serious, he'll need it, and if it's nothing serious, he'll appreciate it."

Roxas nodded slowly. "Yeah. You're right," he said in a choked voice. "Sorry for falling apart like that."

Demyx gave Roxas another hug as he started to calm down. "I'll forgive you. You've got a right to worry. And...whatever happens...just remember, I'm right here."


"Do you think I might be able to eat some basic, bland solid foods yet?" Demyx was pretty sure he was, but he thought it was probably a good idea to ask for confirmation before he actually tried, failed, and puked all over himself because he couldn't drag his ass to the bathroom in time. "Like rice or applesauce or something?"

Vexen looked up at him with surprise; the stethoscope nearly fell out of his hand. The Chilly Academic regained his composure so quickly Demyx might have never realized he'd been startled if he'd blinked at the wrong time. "Do you feel as though you might be capable of retaining such?"

Demyx nodded. "I have for about a week now, actually...I just wanted to wait to make sure."

Vexen nodded and went back to listening to Demyx's breathing with the stethoscope. "I suppose...it would be sensible to keep a basin near your bed at all times, as a precaution...but I see no other reason why you should not at least try. More substantial food is more likely to benefit your recovery than otherwise."

Demyx had to work to puzzle that out. "That means yes, it'll probably do me some good, but I should keep a barf bucket around just in case?"

Vexen looked pained. "If you insist, you might phrase it in that manner..."

"Right." Demyx lay back as Vexen withdrew the stethoscope. These daily examinations were still leaving him as drained as a walk to the bathroom. "So...am I still breathing?"

Vexen gave him a withering glare. "Nine...hopefully you have the intellectual capacity to reason that out on your own."

I forgot Vexen has no sense of humor. "...I'll take that as a yes, then." Demyx sighed wearily. "Uh...can I get a bath?"

Vexen stared blankly at him. "...A what? Why?"

"Because I've been living in the same set of pajamas and between the same sheets for over two weeks, and I smell like it? Send Zexion in here if you don't believe me. He'd probably hurl on the spot."

Vexen pondered him carefully. "Well...as drowning is clearly no issue...I suppose I see no reason why not."

"I could also use a change of clothes."

Vexen gave him another pained look. "I suppose...that can be supplied..."

"Thanks. Just a quality-of-life thing, you understand."

Vexen glared at him as if he thought Demyx was specifically out to make his life difficult. "Very well...take your bath, but make an effort to be dry and decent by..." he checked his watch. "7:00, at which time someone will be sent over with your dinner and a change of clothing."

"What time is it now?" Demyx still hadn't been supplied with a clock of any sort.

Vexen glanced back at his watch. "1:27."

"All right..." That gave him a good five and a half hours. Plenty long enough for a good, long bath, even by Demyx's standards. "Um...one more thing...how's Axel? Roxas told me yesterday...he wasn't doing too well..."

Vexen didn't even look at him. "Still alive, to the best of my knowledge." He disappeared before Demyx could ask what he meant by that.

Demyx swallowed hard. There were a few different possible meanings to that. That Demyx had pushed Vexen's patience too far, and Vexen no longer saw fit to treat him civilly for now. That Vexen didn't like Axel at all and wanted to think about him as little as necessary. That Axel had the same thing Demyx was now recovering from, except Axel wasn't likely to recover.

He had to rest for several minutes before trying to get up, cursing how easily he still wore out. After he recovered energy to sit up, peel his pajamas off, and remove his hearing aids, he had to rest for another few minutes once he was down to his skin before trying to make it to the bathroom. All the time he had to spend resting between bouts of even mild activity only reminded him how close he'd come to death.

Not Axel. Please, don't let anything happen to Axel. I couldn't stand never seeing him again. I'd rather die.

Once he got some more strength back, he hauled himself out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom, crawling into the tub before turning the faucet on. He had to fight to stay awake long enough to turn it off when the tub was full - sure, he could have drawn back all the water if he fell asleep and woke up to realize he'd flooded the bathroom, but better not to flood it in the first place. His last thought before sliding under the water and drifting off to sleep was Please let Axel be okay...


"Would you hold the hell still, kid? We're trying to help you!"

"Fuck off! Get away from me! Get away!"

"Come on...just cooperate for a second, and it'll be over..."

"Don't ever touch me again, you bastard!"

"Aagh! Goddamnit...Axel! Get in here! I need a hand!"

"What...oh, God..."

"The nutcase just punched me! I'm just trying to hold him down so Vexen can get his next dose down his throat..."

"Oh, no...Demyx...Demyx, look at me...please..."

"N-no! Don't hurt me! Let me go!"

"Fuck...just hold him down and try to hold his mouth open...if we can't do it the easy way, gotta go for the possible way..."

"Demyx...come on, don't you recognize me?"

"Get away from me! Leave me alone! Don't touch me!"

"Demyx, it's me. It's Axel..."

"Give it up, dude...he doesn't know any of us from Chernobog...just keep trying to help him in spite of himself...Vexen! This is the best chance I think you're gonna get!"

"Ah! He bit me!"

"Go away...don't hurt me...please..."

"Hey, you awake? Or capable of being awakened?"

Demyx blinked away his strange dream and sat up – he hadn't been, but he was now. "Roxas - you look a lot cheerier than you did last time I saw you."

Roxas sniffed the air. "And you smell better. I didn't wanna mention it before, but -"

"Two weeks plus in the same pajamas makes you smell pretty ripe, doesn't it? But I'm fit to drag my ass to the bathroom and actually bathe now." Demyx took the little bowl of rice from Roxas's hands - Vexen had been right; solid food did seem to help him recover faster. It didn't always sit perfectly well, but so far he'd been able to keep it all down. "So...um..." He gulped nervously. "How's Axel?"

Roxas smiled and sat down on the bed next to him, pulling a slightly squished sandwich out of his pocket. "Well, whatever he has is almost definitely not what you had. He's been moved into the hospital wing, but only so Vexen and Fori can keep track of his blood sugar 24-7. He couldn't hold very much down for a while, besides juice and thin soup and a few dry crackers, but he stayed perfectly lucid, not to mention cranky. When he actually passes up an opportunity to flip Vexen off when he's looking the other way, then I'll start to seriously worry."

Demyx sighed. "Good...I was so scared..." He chuckled softly. "I can totally see Axel doing that. Flipping Vexen off every chance he gets."

Roxas snorted. "He's the reason Vexen whines about not getting enough respect."

"I've known that for years..." Demyx started eating the rice lazily. Eating made him feel better, but he still didn't have that much of an appetite. "Ah, well. Good to know he'll be all right."

They sat and ate in silence for several minutes. Roxas spoke up again when he finished the first half of his sandwich. "So how have you been doing? Sorry I haven't shown up for a few days..."

"A little better every day," Demyx told him cheerfully. "I can get to the bathroom and back without having to rest partway, at least."

"That's good..." Roxas said, but he looked distracted. "How long is it gonna be before you can come back to the castle?"

Demyx froze for a second, not knowing what to tell him. Granted, he had been wondering that himself, but it wasn't an all-encompassing concern - he'd been taking one day at a time, for the most part, and the thought of returning to the castle had a vague, almost dreamlike quality to it, like thoughts of his birthday while it was still months away. "I...I don't know. Probably before I'm back to full strength - after all, after a certain point, there's no doubt I'd recover just as well in my own room as here - but apparently not quite yet, or I think Vexen would have said something." He sighed. "I do like it here. It's quite nice."

"Good." Roxas looked thoughtful as he took another bite of his sandwich. "Maybe I should try to get Axel sent here."

Demyx laughed. "Nah, not likely. He'd get bored off his ass." A rippling wave of nausea suddenly hit him, and he stopped eating, staring blankly at the bowl of rice.

Roxas quickly picked up that not all was quite well. "Demyx? Are you all right?"

Demyx nodded weakly. "Yeah. Just...feel a little queasy right now. It happens. Stomach's not quite used to solid food yet - it'll pass."

Roxas thought for a second, then took one more bite of his sandwich, bagged it up again, and left it on the end table. "Back in a second..." While Demyx wondered what he was doing, he ducked out the door and came back minutes later with a can of Sprite. "Think this might help?"

Demyx accepted it and popped the top open. "Maybe...where'd you get it?"

"The fridge in the kitchen. It's still got a few things left in it."

"Ah...right...from when they had at least two other people here all the time." Demyx sipped cautiously at the soda. It did seem to settle his stomach a bit. "Thanks."

"Anytime. You'd do the same for me."

"Hope I never have to, but if I did, I would..." After a few minutes of sipping Sprite, Demyx tried a little bit of rice again. The first little bite didn't cause a sudden fresh surge of nausea, and neither did the second. The third did, but he found that by alternating sips of soda and bites of rice, he could eat comfortably without his stomach becoming too badly unsettled. "And thanks for sticking around and eating dinner with me. Since Vexen decided I didn't need to be watched at all hours just in case - which coincided with me spending enough time awake to actually care - I've been pretty lonely."

Roxas smiled, looking a little chagrined at the same time. "Guess I'll have to visit more often, then."

"Steal Axel's TV and Xbox. I'm getting bored enough to try video games."


"I still don't get why you and Axel like this game so much. I mean, what's it involve? Running around and killing people."

"We think of them of people we'd like to kill in reality." Roxas punched a quick sequence of buttons, and the head of one of the computer-generated bad guys vanished in a spray of pixelly blood. "That one was Fori."

Demyx rolled his eyes. "What'd he do this time?"

"Filled the shower head with little flakes of Ivory Soap. So when I turned the shower on, I got a ton and a half of soap bubbles."

Demyx couldn't help but giggle at that, and his attempts to stifle himself got his character killed. "Dammit...oh well...so what are you going to do to get back at him?" he asked as he respawned.

Roxas smirked. "It involves a lot of battery-powered alarm clocks, all set for slightly different times...and I'll leave the rest to your imagination."

Demyx howled. "Holy...I can just imagine...remind me - never get involved in a prank war with anyone who can unlock any door at will. What time are you gonna start them going at?"

"Haven't decided yet, but it'll be nice and early..."

"Cute, you two. Real cute."

Demyx dropped his controller with surprise. "Oh...uh...hi, Ax..."

Axel was leaning on the doorframe, looking pale, wan, and unimpressed. "I was wondering what the hell happened to my Xbox. It's not very comforting to get out of the hospital wing after being sick for a week and discover one of your prized possessions has vanished into thin air, got it memorized? I thought someone had swiped it and hocked it."

Roxas forced a wary smile. "Well...it was in a good cause..."

"Since you wouldn't let me have staff paper," Demyx added.

Axel rolled his eyes and sighed. "Fine. Bring it back with you when you come home."

Roxas shrugged. "Stick around and you can come along."

"I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to Demyx."

Demyx snorted. "You're not in a hurry to get it back or something?"

Axel chuckled and ruffled his hair. "Well...put it this way. You're awake more than you're asleep. You're eating solid food, from what I hear. You're even up and moving around a bit. Here's hoping they bring you back within a week."

Demyx whipped his head around to look at him - three weeks ago, that move would have made him unbearably dizzy. "Are you kidding?"

Axel shook his head. "Come on. Why would I be? You've been here for three weeks already. Maybe you won't be at a hundred percent for a while yet, but you're getting there in a hurry. And if you're desperate enough to get Roxas to steal my Xbox for you to play with, you must be absolutely bored off your ass. Why shouldn't they bring you back soon?"

"That'd be nice," Roxas said. "We miss having you around. I mean, this place is nice, but..."

Demyx was strangely lost for words. "But...I'm not doing that well yet...I mean, yeah, I can eat solid food, but it's only bland stuff like rice and bananas...and I can't walk that far either...the farthest I've made it is to the kitchen, and I had to stop and rest on the way back..." Even as he spoke, memories of his old room, with its dark blue and aqua decorations and the instruments under the bed and all the pillows on the floor and that bronze mermaid he'd found years ago, started interspersing themselves with reality. He hadn't played sitar since coming around, and the thought of sitting down with his sitar on one of his pillows, or on his own bed, held so much appeal...

Axel snorted. "I'm not exactly running at a hundred percent either, and trust me, they're not gonna settle me into a seaside cottage any time soon. And yes, rice and bananas are what I get to live on for a bit too." He ruffled Demyx's hair again. "You're gonna be coming back any day now."

Demyx ran his fingers through his own hair. "You really think so?"

"If you're not back within a week, we'll come kidnap you. And we'll try not to stress you too much, so you don't get sick again."

Demyx could feel himself starting to blush. Roxas noticed. "Look, he's getting some color back! He's not looking so pale anymore!"

Demyx blushed even more and chuckled. "You guys..."

"Are awesome," Axel finished for him. Conversation halted for a few minutes, the silence interrupted only by the sound of the video game Demyx and Roxas were playing. "You know, Demyx, you really kind of suck at that," Axel commented after a while.

"I really kind of suck at it? Does that mean I averagely suck?"

Axel thought for a moment. "I guess. I mean, I've never seen you willingly play anything but Guitar Hero, so...I guess it's not that huge a shock."

"I'd rather be playing Guitar Hero, except Roxas is no good at it." Roxas stuck his tongue out at Demyx. "What? It's true." Conversation paused for another few minutes. "You know what I'm really craving?" Demyx said suddenly. "Khichdi."

Axel and Roxas both looked at him. "That's very interesting..."

"But what is khichdi?"

Demyx couldn't help but laugh a bit. "Typical Indian comfort food. My grandmother's equivalent of chicken soup. Rice, lentils, vegetables, some spices...easy to make, easy to eat, easy on the stomach. Good stuff."

Axel stuck his tongue out at him. "Well, we'll have to see if Xaldin knows a good recipe."

Roxas shook his head. "Yeah, right. We'd be better off bringing Demyx ingredients and letting him make his own."

Demyx blinked in surprise. "Think they'd let you?..."

Axel snorted with laughter. "Think 'let' has anything to do with it? Just share."


The sky outside the window lightened progressively as Demyx approached the end of his song. One last faint rumble of thunder, almost like a drumbeat, rolled through the damp air as his fingers ran down the strings, ending on a high note. He couldn't really hear it, but it didn't matter very much to him; the note he played rang clearly in his memory even if it no longer registered in his ears.

That felt so good...

He sighed softly and leaned his head against the neck of the sitar, wishing he'd had some staff paper so he could have written that down. Well, he'd have to make a special effort to get it memorized, as Axel would say, so he could write it down when he went home. He was also a little sorry for ruining what might otherwise have been a beautiful day at the beach for someone, but...it had been a good month since he'd last summoned his sitar. More. He'd needed to play.

Somehow, he was feeling much more energetic than before. Not nearly at a hundred percent - maybe forty percent, at the absolute most - but energetic enough to do something he'd never done before: explore the cottage. He knew his own bedroom like the back of his hand, the hallway outside to the bathroom and the bathroom itself quite well, and the kitchen well enough to function, but he'd never seen the rest of it.

One of the other doors in the kitchen turned out to lead to a broom closet - not particularly exciting. The other door led to a living room, with a sofa, two armchairs, a television, appropriately placed end tables and lamps, and a short bookshelf which was empty at the moment. Well, this was a rental property; presumably it was meant to be inhabited for only a month or a summer at a time by vacationers. Or very sick Nobodies. There were three more doors leading out of the living room, besides the one to the kitchen; the first one Demyx tried led to another bedroom, similar to his own but with a subtly different decorating scheme, the second to a staircase that led to a third bedroom - one with two beds, clearly decorated with children in mind - and the third one led outside, to a sheltered porch. Going up and down the stairs to the children's bedroom had pretty well worn him out, so he sat down in the surprisingly comfortable sling chair on the porch to rest in the fresh sea-storm air.

"The hell are you doin', dude?"

Demyx jerked awake - he hadn't even realized he'd fallen asleep. "Oh - uh - I was exploring the cottage, and I got tired, so I decided to stop and rest out here..."

Xigbar raised an eyebrow at him. Vexen simply looked unimpressed. "Rather irresponsible of you, given current weather conditions..."

Demyx rolled his eyes. "I caused current weather conditions. Why the hell would they bug me?"

Xigbar thought for a moment, then turned to Vexen. "Gotta admit, he's got you there, dude." Vexen gave him a withering glance, but said nothing; it wasn't like he could accuse Xigbar of not giving a superior due respect. Xigbar outranked him. "Frankly, I think that's kind of a recommendation in and of itself."

"I am the chief medical authority of this Organization. The final decision rests with me."

Demyx blinked in confusion. "Uh...final decision for what?"

Xigbar grinned. "Whether we shell out another month's rent on this joint or just pack up and take you home with us."

Demyx goggled. "Go home? Now? I -"

Vexen was already next to him, shoving his stethoscope under Demyx's shirt. Demyx knew to take a deep breath even before Vexen asked, which seemed to irritate Vexen - he loved to boss people around. "You may resume normal breathing, Nine," he said irritably a few moments later. After another minute, he straightened up and removed the stethoscope. "All breathing sounds are normal..." The next thing Vexen pulled out of pockets that had to be three times as deep as usual was a blood pressure cuff; Demyx sighed and rolled up his sleeve. After the blood pressure cuff came a thermometer. After the thermometer, a tongue depressor and penlite. After the tongue depressor, a retinoscope.

That last sort of irritated Demyx. "Sorry, but there's nothing wrong with my eyes..."

"It pays to be thorough, and not all effects of illness are immediately apparent." Demyx shuddered hard at the sudden idea of slowly going blind, the same way he'd lost his hearing - Gods, it didn't bear thinking about.

It seemed like an age and a half before Vexen finally finished his examination. "Everything is either substantially improved or completely normal - including the retinal exam," Vexen added as what had to be a deliberate barb.

"Good," Demyx said honestly. "So, that means..."

Xigbar was right next to him in an instant, helping him out of the chair as Vexen opened a portal. "Homeward bound, dude."

"R-really? I...it..." In what seemed like an instant, the three of them had been transported to Demyx's old room at the castle, before Demyx could even quite grasp what was going on. "I...I'm home?"

"Whooo!" Axel immediately appeared on Demyx's other side. "Finally! A key part of the world is back in place!"

Demyx blushed as Axel and Xigbar helped him into bed - into his own bed, for the first time in over a month. "I...I...wow. That was sudden..." He took a deep breath. "I think I like it here, though."

Xigbar threw him a cocky salute. "Good to know, kid. We kinda hoped you would." Then he turned and followed Vexen out the door.

Axel punched the air with a triumphant grin. "Fuck, I heard rumors, but I didn't know if it was true or not until you actually showed up...back in a second. I gotta go get Roxas." He portaled away before Demyx's head had a chance to stop spinning, and reappeared a moment later with Roxas in tow. "I told you, didn't I! I so told you!"

Roxas immediately rushed over and gave Demyx a hug. "Finally! We've been hoping every day that they'd let you come home...we missed you!"

Demyx could feel himself blushing even deeper. "Well...it's not like you haven't seen me lately..."

"Not enough of you!" Roxas grinned at him. "I actually missed sitar lessons!"

Demyx started to laugh a little. "Oh, no! That's unforgivable!"

Axel laughed louder. "And I missed having sitar music playing next door all the time...aw, lookit that, Rox. He looks like a cherry. How cute."

Demyx hid his face as both Axel and Roxas laughed even harder. "Oh, stop..."

Axel came over and ruffled his hair. "Aw, stuff it. We're glad you're back, is all. Just two things, though. First, I never got any khichdi."

Demyx stuck out his tongue. "I never got any ingredients for khichdi. What's your next complaint?"

"You forgot my Xbox."


AN: Xigbar will go get it, along with Demyx's TV and stereo and stuff.

I was afraid this was gonna be boring as all hell, because pretty much all the action takes place in just one room and the main character spends almost the whole story lying in bed. It was surprisingly fun to write, though.

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