Well. Aren't we neglectful? We're so sorry that we are terrible, terrible people, but we were totally overwhelmed all through school, and then summer meant that we were never together. Don't worry, though, we are not giving up on this story yet. In fact, we may just be getting started...thank you to those of you who still have an interest!

Disclaimer: If we owned Kingdom Hearts...use your imagination. Enough said.


Demyx felt like he had déjà vu. Only a few days before, he had had the same foreboding feeling of not quite being completely in the present. Grief and fear blocked his mind and kept him from feeling like he was actually living through his experiences.

Except this time he was partially at fault. When Roxas got attacked, no one could have anticipated or prevented it. But when Naminé fell, it was like his world had toppled. He was in charge of her at the time, the one who was with her and could have-should have-stopped her fall. He should have thrown himself out to catch her instead of standing there like an idiot, frozen and waiting for it to be too late before moving.

He sat in a chair by her hospital bed, watching her breathe weakly. She looked even paler than normal, if that was possible. Demyx had never noticed before, but she had faint dark circles under her eyes, as if she had gone a long time without sleep. Or maybe it was a side effect of the IV in her good arm. Whatever the case, she looked like a wreck.

"How is she?" a scratchy voice asked from behind him. Demyx jumped at the noise. He hadn't realized that Roxas was awake yet. He thought he'd been alone watching over Naminé.

"She'll live," he said gruffly. "Broken arm-compound fracture in her wrist. Sprained leg with a twisted ankle. She was also slightly feverish when I brought her in. Vexen thinks she fell mostly because she has some kind of infection that clogged up her sinuses and her ears were all stuffy. That probably threw off her sense of balance, so…"

Roxas snorted. "A common cold and it threatened her life…now how's that for a way to go?"

Demyx shot him a quick glare. "Rox, just because you fought a freaking army of heartless and lived to tell the tale with minor permanent damage doesn't mean that everybody has the same sheer dumb luck as you do. Naminé took a nosedive down a whole flight of stairs, using her arm as a shock absorber. And she was sick on top of it. I bet if we pushed you down the stairs, you'd come out banged up as well!"

The younger Nobody growled slightly. "Don't talk about what happened to me like that! You have no idea what I had to fight!" Demyx rolled his eyes, figuring Roxas had been beaten by far fewer heartless than he was leading them to believe, and his bravado was merely to save face. "And you wouldn't dare to push me down the stairs," he added coldly. "Believe me, it might just be the last thing you ever do if you try."

Demyx turned around in his seat to give Roxas a scathing retort, but he faltered when he saw his eyes. They had flashed green, far greener than Roxas's eyes ever should have been. Demyx hesitated, forgetting what he had been about to say. Suddenly Axel's worries seemed a lot more legitimate than before.

"Look Rox, I'm not trying to deny that what happened to you wasn't bad, I'm just saying that you can't call her pathetic because she fell down the stairs. If she'd tripped over her own feet and landed on the ground from a foot high and sustained the same injuries, then I'd agree it was sad. But don't go calling her out when her experience isn't exactly sunshine and kittens, either."

Roxas glared at him, then abruptly looked down at his hands, his mood growing apologetic. "I know, I'm sorry. I – it's just that the attack kinda messed me up a little. In here I mean." He tapped the side of his head.

Demyx sighed. "Speaking of which, do you think you can share with us what happened? I mean, we have a general idea, but you're the only one who knows exactly what went down."

"Uh, well, I-"

At that exact moment Vexen bustled through the door, looking a bit more frazzled and annoyed than usual. "Thirteen, it would do best if you would refrain from talking while your throat heals. Excessive conversation will only delay your recovery." Roxas looked over at Demyx and shrugged apologetically, though Demyx could sense he was actually fairly glad he had an excuse to avoid telling him what happened.

Roxas leaned back, allowing Vexen to check his vitals and change the bandages. Demyx tried to give him privacy by looking away – judging by how touchy Roxas was on the entire subject Demyx didn't know how he'd react to that – but his morbid curiosity was overpowering, and he watched out of the corner his eye.

The scars were a vivid red, and the extent of the damage Roxas had endured surprised Demyx. It was worse than he had thought, far worse than he suspected any heartless could have inflicted. Roxas's throat was raw, his flesh torn and bloody, as if it had been clawed by some much more massive entity than a little Shadow. As Vexen dabbed some kind of ointment on the cuts, Demyx heard Roxas growl like a feral animal and hiss. His eyes were stuck shut, but Demyx had the feeling that if they were open, they would be that same sickly green. Vexen paid no heed to Roxas batting and scratching at his hands as he worked; he seemed ignorant to the fact that Roxas was reacting abnormally for a heartless victim.

Of course, it was either that or he knew Demyx was watching.

"Oh man, oh man, oh man, holy shit, you were right, what do we do?" Demyx groaned as he paced in front of a smug Axel.

"I told you! I told you there is something not right with him! And Vexen knows it, too, that's why he didn't want Rox to tell you what happened!" Axel gloated, elated by the fact that for once he figured something out first, and was right about it.

"But what the hell could've happened that would be such a secret?" Demyx wondered, pausing in his mental breakdown to stare at Axel. "He said to me that he hasn't been right in the head since it happened…and he didn't seem to want to tell. He always either totally clams up or lashes out when we bring it up!"

"Hey, maybe he's a vampire or something! He vants to suck your blooooood…" Axel said with a grin, wiggling his fingers and looking utterly ridiculous. Demyx glared at him and Axel shrank back under the intensity of the fear and hatred mixed in the look. "Okay, not funny," he conceded, putting up his hands in surrender as Demyx continued to stare him down. He rolled his eyes. "Not like vampires are real, anyway…" he muttered.

"Ax! Aren't you the slightest bit worried? Rox got attacked by some vicious creature, and he's obviously having a really hard time with this, and we need to be there for him, but he can't open up to us about it. That means it must have been something really bad!" Demyx cried.

Axel growled. "Of course I'm worried, you idiot! I was the one who kept saying there was something wrong! I was the one who found him and saw the full extent of his injuries, as well as seeing them when they were still fresh and bleeding!"

"Well you sure aren't acting like you care!"

"Demyx! I had to see my best friend almost die! I thought for sure he was going to fade in my arms...he's my little brother. I can't act like it affected me or it'll only hurt him worse. I had to be strong for him, and apparently for you now, too. So don't tell me I don't care, because I care a lot more than you can imagine."

Demyx stood where he was, just staring blankly at Axel for another moment. He had the urge to shoot another scathing comment the pyro's way, but something in the defiant and hurt glare that was being returned at him stopped him. After a moment, he sighed, defeated. He sat down next to Axel and looked away in shame.

"Alright," he said quietly. "Alright, you care. And you're just trying to help Roxas. But Ax, that's what we're both trying to do. We have to work together now. I'm sorry I didn't believe you before, but I get it now, it's just...it's hard to see that a friend really may be in trouble until you see it with your own eyes."

Axel nodded. "Sorry I was acting kind of jerky. But I don't deal with pressure well, you know?"

Demyx laughed. "Oh, believe me, I know. Friends?"

Axel grinned. "Friends."

They shared a quick hug, promptly ending it and looking away from each other. "Sooo…" Demyx wondered aloud. "I think we should just keep a closer eye on Rox from this point out."

"Sounds good to me. Wanna go visit him and Nam?"

"Race ya?"

"You're on!"

It was hours later when Roxas was asleep once again when Axel left the Infirmary. They had spent the whole time laughing and chatting like old friends, as if nothing was wrong. Roxas hadn't acted any different from what would have been expected of him prior to his trip to the forest.

Demyx had stayed behind to talk to Naminé for a few minutes. Axel had no sooner left the sterile room when a voice called after him.

"Eight!" came the unmistakable voice of Zexion. "I have a job for you. You must accompany me to the site of Thirteen's attack so I can gather evidence for a claim Four and I are working on."

Axel momentarily felt as though the wind had been knocked out of him. "Evidence for a claim?" he yelped. "You mean you think you know what happened to him? Tell me, please!"

Zexion shook his head. "My apologies, Eight, but I cannot divulge any information on the subject as of yet. We are grateful that you reported symptoms that have led to our assumptions, but those assumptions must be confirmed prior to any confidence being shared."

Axel slumped, feeling defeated. "But you'll let us know as soon as you can? And in the meantime you'll tell Dem and I if there's anything we can do to help Rox?"

Zexion stood still for a moment, then gave a short nod. "You have my word."

Axel smiled faintly, then looked at Zexion again. "Alrighty, then. Let's go retrace an attack." With that, he opened up a portal to the clearing in which he had discovered Roxas. Without looking back at Zexion, he stepped through and then out into the chillingly familiar void of the forest.