Title: Psychosis
Word Count: 6022
Rating: K+
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters herein contained. I only own the plot.
Warning: None to speak of--not to speak of, there's homosexuality and violence.

Author's Note: Here it is, the beginning of the thing. The longest piece I've ever written--so long, in fact, that I decided to cut it in two. I feel rather as if I'm giving up my first child. Anyway, this is something I've had boucing around in my head since I started KH II (embarassingly, several years after every one else finished it), and I finally finished tying all of the bits together. So enjoy.

Other Note: No, I have never been institutionalized. Most of this is just made up. I do, however, see a therapist on a regular basis (two, actually). So the dialogue is based in reality, but I really embellished it. Other things here and there have been tweaked, and one or two is pretty damn unrealistic. In the higher name of fanfiction, though, just overlook these small details.

Other, Other Note: This is not a happy story. Seriously. There are happy moments, but not overall. It's about broken people, insane people. And while I enjoy reading about such things, if you don't, you've been warned.

{Psychosis: a psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia or mania that is marked by delusions, hallucinations, incoherence, and distorted perceptions of reality}

I popped the pills first thing in the morning, every morning. The shrink—Shauna, call me Shauna—said they'd stop the "episodes". Mom looked so hopeful I agreed to take them. I didn't tell either of them that the dreams haven't even stopped—I was on the strongest antipsychotic on the market; I didn't want to find out the next step. And I wasn't crazy anyway. Mom didn't talk to me until I'd taken the pills. I think she was afraid I wasn't her baby boy until I had the drugs in my system. I thought I wasn't her baby boy with them in my system; all I was was sort of washed out, like part of me was missing but I couldn't summon the emotion to miss it. I didn't tell Mom this either though. School was better when I couldn't summon the effort to be bored. It's kind of like being in a daze, between the antipsychotic and the sedatives, really, and I barely noticed the passing hours. I don't know if I learned anything, but I did all my homework, so I figure it's in my brain somewhere. There was always a kid across the aisle who stared at me, but I ignored him. He turned out to be a fucker, anyway. I wasn't really interested in a relationship, so I didn't care whether my opinion was right or wrong. And then he just had to talk to me.

"Why did you attack that boy?"
"What boy?"
"The one from your class, Roxas. The one you put in the hospital."
"Oh. Seifer."
"Well, he was a bastard, really. It wasn't my fault."
"And why would you think that?"
"He taunted me. Tried to get inside my head. Said I was crazy. I'm not crazy, okay? I'm not. I just have a problem, but it's curable. Okay? I'm not crazy."


They readmitted me after I put Seifer in the hospital. Stomping on his ribs probably hadn't been a good idea. Especially considering he'd already been down. I read a book once where this little kid kept attacking a bully after the bully was down so that he'd be left alone in the future. No one listened to me when I explained this though. I'm pretty sure that's why they insisted on bringing me back to the ward. My old room was already taken though. Actually, my old everything was already gone. I could only recognize two or three people from before, though of course the nurses were the same. They assigned me to room 69, something that I thought was really funny. Laughing out loud wasn't such a good idea, apparently, I realized after the nurse gave me an odd look. I guess she wasn't really into stuff like that.

"What's so funny about the number 69, Roxas?"
"You seriously don't know?"
"No, I don't. Enlighten me."
"Nah, you don't want to know. Has to do with sex, and all, you know. Something I bet you don't understand."
"Roxas. I think we both know that was unnecessary."
"Okay, fine. You want to know what 69 is? It's where two guys suck each other off. Happy?"


For a while, nothing much happened. I mean, I was still having nightmares, but I wasn't the only one screaming at night. It's actually pretty lucky that I was screaming, because I couldn't hear the others over the sound of my own voice. Then he showed up again.

"Man, you've done it this time."

"Done what?"

"Well, you're back in here again, for starters. Remember last time?"

"Last time was different."

"Right, 'cause you were on suicide watch. But do you really think this'll be better, given that you beat the shit out of some kid?"

"This is a ward for the dangerous. Everyone here's beaten the shit out of some kid. Besides, I'm not crazy like you are."

"Me? Crazy? Well that's just fucking nuts. Got it memorized?"

"I'm going to sleep. Leave me alone."

"Okay, whatever. But Roxas?"


"I'm glad you're back."

"And why do you dislike Axel?"
"He's just annoying."
"And why is that?"
"He just is."
"Roxas, we've been down this road before. You know that to get better, you have to answer the questions."
"Look, he just says shit that stays in my head, just like he wants it to. It's driving me--"
"It's just annoying. Just like he is, okay?"


I got my clothes back the next day. It was pretty easy, just showing that I had no intention to attack anyone else. It meant that I'd have to wash them myself, but you could bribe the other kids to do it sometimes, and I'd rather that than have the entire ward stare at my ass. Well, really it was mostly Axel, who had decided a casual fuck buddy was all he would need to make this place perfect. I just wish he'd look elsewhere for one. The other guys were nice though. There was one guy who was OCD and borderline sociopathic—that was something we decided: the doctors wouldn't admit to anything more than the OCD—who was good company in a silent sort of way. He was also really good at scheming how to sneak out of our rooms in the middle of the night and forging signatures. Then there was this guy named Riku who had multiple personalities—his 'other' was called Ansem, and he was a bastard that usually required three orderlies to subdue—who was usually somewhat of a bastard but who was good to talk to. I think what worried the shrink most was his conviction that there were other worlds out there. I don't know. I didn't really buy into it, but it would have been fantastic if it had been true. The last guy was someone named Demyx, and he was absolutely psycho. He was unnaturally happy, all the time. The rest of us had no real idea why he was in there, but we never asked. It was just the way things were. There were several other guys in the ward, but I didn't really talk to them. They were your average crazy people, drooling on chess sets and talking to the TV, getting angry when it didn't talk back.

"Do you consider yourself to be better than they are, Roxas?"
"What? Better than who?"
"The others in your ward."
"Well, I mean, kind of. I'm not crazy like they are. I don't even belong here."
"So being crazy makes you inferior?"
"I didn't say that, okay? I didn't…mean…"
"What do you think crazy means Roxas?"
"What is the definition of crazy? Of nuts, psycho, bananas, insane?"
"They're not all the same."
"Just crazy then."
"When you have no control over your mind. When you do weird shit and don't realize it. When you can't do anything about it."
"And when you line up your pills by color and size on the window sill?"
"Look, that's just for fun. I'm not crazy. I'm not. I'm just tired, burned out."


"Hey, do you want to go watch Jeopardy with me? Nobody's watching TV right now." I looked up at Demyx.

"Dude, I never know any of the answers."

"Well, then we can invite Zexion. He knows them all. We can test him!" Demyx's smile was blinding. I looked at the empty bed next to mine.


He was right, of course. Zexion knew all the answers. He even won final jeopardy when none of the contestants did. It was sort of a shame he was in here, since he couldn't really do anything in here. We watched Family Feud after Jeopardy, which was interesting. Zexion couldn't guess nearly as many answers off of this show, something that was good for our self confidence. Eventually Axel came back from his appointment, and for couple minutes he entertained us playing with fire from his lighter. The nurse came around making her checks too soon though, and took it away. Axel pouted until her back was turned, then pulled out another lighter, grinning like a maniac. He pocketed it a minute later though, with a sheepish smile. We watched another episode of Family Feud afterwards, before Axel started complaining of being bored.

"Why did you start running down the halls screaming, Roxas?"
"Well, Axel was bored."
"And you do everything Axel wants?"
"Of course not. Then I'd be fucking him."


"Hey, Riku." I said as I walked into his room. He just grunted, not looking up. I rolled my eyes and flopped on the empty bed next to his. His roommate had been discharged a week ago, and nobody had shown up to fill the space since.

"Whatcha doin'?" I asked casually, staring at the ceiling.

"I'm reading."

"Mmmm." We were silent for a few moments. "What book?"

"Catcher in the Rye." I laughed. It was the funniest thing I'd heard in a while.

"It's not funny, okay?"

"Sure it is. A crazy person reading a book about a crazy person."

"I'm not crazy."

"Riku, you've been in here for five years. You suffer from split personalities. You tried to chew off an orderly's ear three weeks ago."

"I'm not insane, Roxas. You're the one who sees things."

"You shut up," I hissed angrily, quickly sitting up to glare at him.

"Oh, you can deal it but you can't take it, huh? Don't like to think about how you hallucinate, can't tell what's happening sometimes?"

"Yeah, well guess what. My problems can be cured with medicine. Yours? Yeah, you're going to be in here forever, you son of—"

I didn't even see him lunge at me, he was that fast. We were fighting a second later, rolling off of the bed and onto the floor, taking every opportunity to hurt each other possible. When we were finally pulled apart by four orderlies and two nurses, I was nursing a broken nose and black eye, as well as various scrapes and bruises. Riku wasn't much better off, sporting a split lip and two black eyes. I was also pretty sure I had a broken arm, but I wasn't letting Riku know that.

"Why did you get in a fight, Roxas? Are you feeling the need for violence again?"
"I dunno."
"Why did you provoke him, Roxas?"
"I dunno, okay? It just happened. He said I was crazy."
"You still don't believe that there's anything wrong?"
"Look, there might be something wrong, but that doesn't mean I'm crazy. I don't want to be crazy."


That night, for the first time, Axel was the one who woke up screaming. I knew it was in between 1 and 1:30, because we'd had eight bed checks and they were every half hour. I waited for an orderly or nurse to come rushing in, but they must have been dealing with something else, and we stayed alone. I waited for a second more before climbing out of bed.

"Axel." I shook his shoulder gently, calling his name. "Axel." He continued whimpering, and I shook harder. "Axel. Wake up."


"I'm here. You were having a nightmare." It was silent for a minute.

"Would—would you stay with me?" I looked at where I figured Axel's eyes would be. "Please." I realized he was utterly serious, and vulnerable in a way I'd never seen him before.

"Sure." I lay down next to him carefully, putting my arms around his waist. He leaned in and nestled his forehead against my neck, pulling me closer.

"Thanks." I didn't comment on the warm tears I could feel on my skin.

"No problem."

"Is Axel your friend?"
"What? What kind of question is that?"
"Answer it, Roxas."
"Sure. We're all friends here. No, wait, that's wrong. We're all mad here, right? Ha ha, funny, right? Mad, 'cause we're in a fucking asylum."
"Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the maddest of them all? Is it the patients who were born insane or the doctors who became that way? Oh wait, that doesn't rhyme, does it? Ha ha ha, Doc, it was a joke."
"No seriously. We're all mad here."


"Did it hurt?"


"When you fell from heaven."

"Whatever." I rolled my eyes and turned back to my notebook. It was November and the shrink said it'd be good for me to try to write about my experiences. It was partly a journal and partly just nonsense that I wrote stream-of-consciousness style. I was pretty sure the orderlies read it from day to day, but other than that, nobody else had seen it.

"What's that?" Axel put his chin on my shoulder.


"No really, what is--"

"Drop it, Axel." He withdrew and I relaxed, sighing in exasperation. The next moment, he swooped in and picked it lightly out of my hands, smiling inanely.

"Give it back, Axel."

"What is it, really?"

"Axel!" His brow furrowed as he started reading it.

"Dude, is this a book?"

"Yes, now give it back." His grin widened."No, I don't think I will—" I blacked out.

"Why did you hurt Axel?"
"He wouldn't give back my book."
"Is that all?"
"Roxas, what aren't you telling me?"
"I blacked out, okay? I have no fucking clue what I did to him."
"What do you want me to say? That I'm sorry? That I'm regressing. That the pills aren't fucking working?"
"Roxas. Have you had any other episodes?"
"No. But that doesn't mean shit, does it? I'm still crazy no matter how you look at it."


When I woke up, I was groggy. It took a minute to remember how to open my eyes, but eventually I managed it. My arms were strapped down, along with my ankles, and a strap was cinched across my chest. Axel was on the other bed, one elbow thrown across his eyes. I watched his chest move up and down gently with the smooth rhythm of sleep before looking out the window. It was early morning, meaning I'd lost a number of hours. I shifted, feeling the anger rise up again. A nurse came in, looking me over with a seasoned eye before disappearing again. I snarled at her as she returned, but she gave no pause before sticking me in the arm with a needle. I barely had time to register her resigned look before my vision dissolved.

"Roxas, you know we had to sedate you."
"No you didn't. I would have calmed down. And I wasn't still angry when I woke up."
"Procedure, Roxas, procedure and your past."
"Whatever. I hate being sedated."


"Hey, Roxas. What are you doing still sleeping?" I groaned and pulled the pillow over my head. It didn't help.

"Hey, come on! Daylight's a'wastin'. Time to get going!"

"Fuck off, okay?"

"Come on, Roxas."

"Sora, it is six in the fucking morning!"

"Yeah, and? Think of what you could do if you just got up now!"

"I said, fuck off!"

"Roxas, who are you talking to? Do you know how early it is?" I groaned again as I heard Axel's voice from across the room.

"It's nothing, okay?"

"Are you sure? Who's Sora?"

"You're seeing Sora again?"
"Look, it's nothing."
"You know that it is not nothing, Roxas."
"It's fine, okay?"
"Hallucinations are a very serious thing, Roxas. Especially on the medicine you're on."
"He's not a hallucination, okay? He's real. Maybe he's from another world, but he's real."


"You know, you're really fucked up."

"You know, you're an asshole."

"Oh, Roxy. You just say that because you know I'm telling the truth."

"Right, because I should trust a pyromaniac."

"Technically, I don't have pyromania. I don't get off on starting fires, you know. I just like them."

"Oh, of course. My bad. You must have something much worse."

"What, like a stick up my ass? Oh, wait…that's you, isn't it?" I launched myself at him, and he grinned, catching me and throwing me onto the bed. I tried to hit him, snarling, but he just grabbed my wrists and pinned them over my head, situating himself comfortably on my hips. I looked to the side, trying to ignore the leer now on his face and my own pointed helplessness.

"Well, well, Roxy. You're in quite the vulnerable position, aren't you?" He sniggered, still leering. I scowled at him, trying to get a hand loose to punch him. He restrained me easily, and I fumed.

"Now that I have you just where I want you," he murmured, leaning down to whisper in my ear. "What should I do with you, dear Roxas?" I shuddered, unsure of whether I wanted to kill him or kiss him. I settled for falling completely still, tensing my muscles so they would tremble. I could feel every breath of his, tickling my ears. We both stayed like that for an immeasurable period of time before he finally leaned forward even more, burying his face into my neck. And then he was gone, grinning at me before walking out of the room.

"Do you like Axel now?"
"I dunno. He's okay, I guess."
"But you don't find him as annoying as when you first arrived?"
"Which first arrived?"
"The most recent, Roxas, you know what I meant."
"Well, I just couldn't be sure, since you—"
"Do you really want to play that game?"
"Sure. What the hell else do I have to look forward to? Pill time? Ooh, yippee, time for my drugs! Is that the right attitude, doc? Huh?"


I liked visitors day best. It was really because I got to see my Mom, though that was nice. She never stayed too long, saying she had to get back to one of her jobs (she usually had at least two and an irregular one), but I could always see the uneasiness in her eyes. I think it made her unhappy to see me in here, and she always seemed to think that one of the other VIPs (our little inside joke) was going to go even more postal than normal and attack me or her. I never felt too sad when she left—it was like she was a remnant of the world I'd left behind, something that didn't belong here where I was now. The part I most enjoyed of visitors day, though, was watching the others with their visitors. Demyx's parents were really nice, just like he was, and they always brought food to share with the rest of us. It was really good food, too, like little bits of teriyaki chicken or cookies you could tell were homemade by the way they melted in your mouth. Riku's parents never showed up—I didn't even know if he had parents, actually. I sincerely doubted it. No parents would be able to raise a kid that angry. There was this nice girl that came instead of parents, though. She had dark red hair with these big expressive eyes and a really sweet personality. I couldn't decide whether or not she was genuinely that nice, but I didn't talk to her that often anyway. Riku, you could tell, really loved her. He always went out of his way to be nice when she was around, and the way he looked at her just gave it away. He told me after her first visit that they'd grown up together, in a dingy orphanage somewhere. They were all each other had for family, but nothing more. I asked why they weren't going out, but he never answered. It must have been a problem on his side, since I saw the way she looked at him, but I didn't say anything. You just didn't mess with Riku. My arm was still broken, and I wasn't terribly anxious to acquire another cast. And besides, I didn't really like her too much either. Or to be accurate, I didn't like who she brought with her. Namine, the girl Kairi always came with, was nice too, with the same eyes and long blonde hair, was courteous, if a bit less outgoing. I actually liked her at first, until I figured out that I was the only one that could see her.

"You're saying that you see others besides Sora, then?"
"Not others. Other. Just her, okay. And I don't just see her."
"Other, then. Does she talk to you?"
"Sometimes. I try not to answer. She's crazy."


I always felt bad for Axel, watching him on those days. He never had anyone come to visit at all. He tried to look as though he didn't care, slumped in the same chair and casually smoking, but there was something in his eyes that looked haunted. I was curious what his story was, to make him look that way. Zexion never had any visitors either, but he looked pretty happy about that. I wondered if he'd had family or still did, but it didn't really matter. He obviously didn't care about them, dead, forgotten, or alive and ignored. I kind of got the impression that he was here voluntarily. He usually spent visitors day rapidly scribbling notes; I figured he was taking notes on the others and their interactions with their families. It was vaguely creepy, but I got the feeling he was doing research to understand, as though human interaction was beyond him. And besides, I was doing basically the same thing.

"Do you feel like you can't relate to the others, Roxas?"
"I dunno, maybe. Sometimes."
"What is it that you can't relate to?"
"Their happiness, I guess. It's so normal. I've never had that. Never had a full family before."
"You still have your mother. Is she not enough?"
"I guess. She's never home often enough for us to be a family, though. Too busy earning money."


"Axel, what happened to your family? You had to have one once, right?" I asked carefully. Axel turned over in his bed so he wasn't facing me. I listened in the dark, but he didn't respond for long moments.

"Ask me about anything else, Roxas, but don't ask me about that." I stayed silent, thinking.

"Did they die?" I didn't expect him to answer, and I closed my eyes. I heard a barely whispered 'yes' before I fell asleep.

"Why do you want to know about Axel's family?"
"They seem to have scarred him. He can't even function normally around other families."
"And you feel authorized to say this?"
"Just because I'm not a shrink doesn't mean I don't have eyes."
"So are you interested because you care about Axel? Do you want to help him—fix him?"
"Whatever. It's just so depressing to see him every visitors' day."


I waited a few days before asking Axel about his past again. He was back in his chair again, smoking angrily. I sat in the chair next to him, looking out the window casually.

"How did it happen?"

"Fuck off, Roxas."

"I just—"

"Just leave me alone," he snarled, flicking his cigarette into an ashtray and storming off down the hall. Riku chuckled darkly from the archway into the other living room. "Wow, way to piss him off. I don't think I've ever seen him that angry."

"Shut up, Riku."

"Now, see, I don't care about my family. I'd tell you everything if you asked." He looked shrewdly at me, expectantly. I looked back at him before giving in.

"Okay, enlighten me." He grinned like I'd offered him the world.

"My mom and dad lived in Radiant Garden until they died, and I was sent to an orphanage on Destiny Islands. I met Kairi there and we grew up together until I was 14 and I got sent here. That's about it." I looked at him, waiting for more. He ignored it, waiting for a response.

"What about Kairi?"

"What about her?" I surveyed his face, wondering if it was safe to proceed.

"Are you going out?"

"Yeah, we totally go on dates with me stuck in here."

"That's not answering the question."

"No, she—she's just not—" his brow furrowed in frustration. "Do you believe in soulmates?" I thought about it.


"Well, I'm looking for mine. She's just not it. I—I'm not even sure I have one. It feels like I'm destined to be alone. I keep looking, but I can't find them. I just know that Kairi isn't it." I was silent, not sure what to say. He bent over, anguish on his face as he clutched at his hair. "It's like I'm missing something and I don't even know what it is!" He pulled harshly at his hair, then sighed, moving his arms around his stomach. I looked at him sadly and left the room.

"Why did you approach Axel again?"
"I wanted to know."
"Why push him further than he wanted to go?"
"Denial never helped anyone. Neither did bottling it up."
"So it was a charitable act of yours."
"No. I don't care about people like you do."
"Don't you?"
"If I cared, don't you think I'd have helped Riku?"
"Not necessarily."
"I just wanted to know."


"It was a fire, at our house." Axel said suddenly. I rolled over to see him smoking by the window, surveying the shapes the smoke made in the night air.

"What?" I asked groggily, blinking the sleep from my eyes. I looked at my alarm clock, not surprised to see it was the early hours of the morning.

"My family. They died in the fire that burned down our house." I nodded slowly, sitting up.


"It was at night. They were asleep. By the time they woke up, it was too late."

"I'm so sorry, Axel," I murmured. He pretended I hadn't spoken, just kept smoking. When the cigarette was finished, he flicked it out the open window and returned to bed. I looked at his back for a moment before climbing out of bed and padding across the small space between our beds. I stood at his bedside, surveying him, then got carefully under the blankets. He turned over as I put my arms around him, burying his face in my collarbone.

"It was my fault. I was playing in our fireplace when Kairi started crying. I got up to go get her and all of a sudden our living room was on fire and the alarm was going off. I got Kairi out, and we waited and waited, but my parents never came out. The firemen said they'd probably never even woken up. I was only nine. I was only nine." His voice broke and his shoulders started shaking. I stroked his hair as he cried, wishing I could do more.

"How do you feel about Axel now?"
"I dunno. He's okay, I guess."
"I asked you before. Do you like him more than then?"
"I know him better than I did then."
"Is that a yes?"
"Sure. I don't know. It's not really comparable."
"No games, please."
"Fine, okay, whatever. Next?"


"You know, Roxas, I don't think you belong in here."

"Thank you Sora. However, considering you're most of the reason I am in here, it doesn't actually mean too much."

"You're not crazy. I'm not a hallucination."

"Oh, really? Then what are you?"

"I'm your other. We're the same, and not the same. You're me without a heart."

"As unflattering as that is, if you were a hallucination, I'm pretty sure you'd deny being one."

"Naminé isn't a hallucination either."

"Uh, yeah. I'm pretty sure she is."

"She's Kairi's nobody."

"Mmhmm. I'm sure, Sora. But if you don't mind, I'm busy at the moment."

"Doing what? Lining up your pills. Now that might be a sign of insanity, actually. But I'm not one."

"Mm…not one what?"

"A sign of insanity, Roxas. Just a victim of the universe."

"Oh, aren't we all, Sora. Aren't we all."

"Do you feel that you're a victim of the universe?"
"I'm crazy. I'm here. I don't have a father. Take your pick."
"Why are you any more a victim than any one else?"
"I'm not. I'm a socialist."
"A socialist?"
"We all share the fucked-up-ness. Like socialism says we should."


"It upsets Sora when you ignore him, Roxas." I glared at Naminé.


"You shouldn't be mean to him. He's very sweet."

"Good for him."

"And he's a hero. Master of the keyblade, protector of Kingdom Hearts."

"Right, and I'm his nobody."

"Now you're getting it."

"Whatever, Naminé. It doesn't mean anything. I'm crazy and you're hallucinations, no matter the titles you have."

"You don't understand, Roxas. You weren't meant to be born in this world. We were all meant to be in another world."

"I don't believe you."

"No, I didn't think you would immediately."

"Just go away. When I stop seeing you, I might be able to leave."

"Your hallucinations aren't to blame, Roxas."
"Sure they are. I'd be out of here if I hadn't seen Sora again."
"Roxas, you are a schizophrenic. Your hallucinations are a symptom, not a cause."
"I know that."
"Then what do you blame them for?"
"For my being here."
"Roxas, we're trying to help you."
"Yeah sure. Unless I want to go outside alone. Or, you know, piss alone. Help."


Axel avoided me for days after admitting what had happened to his family. I'm pretty sure he avoided everyone, at least if what Demyx said was true. I didn't know where he went—probably to see the shrink, since that was the only way to leave the ward other than field trips. I let him be, pretending to be asleep when he came in at night. I knew what it had cost him to tell me, so I didn't push the matter. I hung out with Riku a lot, doing absolutely nothing. He wasn't really into any hobbies and didn't like tv, so we ended up sprawled out on the beds in his room—he still hadn't gotten a roommate—while he read and I looked for shapes in the clouds I could see out the window. He'd finished Catcher in the Rye a few weeks ago and had started on another book about a crazy family all named the same thing, but I knew better than to comment this time.

"Is your Kairi the same as Axel's Kairi?" I asked casually. A giant key, I thought, looking outside and tracing the shape from my position on the bed.

"Yeah," Riku said, not looking up.

"Why'd she end up at the orphanage without Axel?" Riku looked at me suddenly, and I wondered if I'd crossed a line.

"She didn't. Axel was there too, he just stayed away from her. I think he felt guilty."

"Oh." Riku turned back to his book, and I looked back outside. And a crown. There was a long pause.

"She tries to talk to him, sometimes." I looked up, startled that Riku would choose to continue the conversation.


"He won't face her. Even ten years later."

"How old was she?"

"Seven. She was having a nightmare."

"So she started crying and…"


"That sucks. I can't even imagine." Mickey Mouse.

"It's always worst on the kids that can remember their parents. They're the ones that cry in the middle of the night. I'm glad I didn't know mine."

"I didn't know my dad. He was gone before I was two."

"So you know what I'm talking about."

"Yeah. But I still dreamed that he'd come back. Until I grew too old for dreams, and then I ended up here anyway, in the domain of the dreamers. How's that for irony?"

"Do you still miss your father?"
"Do you miss yours?"
"My past is not at question here, Roxas."
"Neither is your sanity, huh?"
"Is your sanity at question?"
"It would be if I could find it."
"I thought so."


I didn't realize I missed Axel talking to me until he started doing it again. There was no gradual regeneration of conversation between us; one day he wasn't ever around and the next he was sitting on me and teasing me about my hair. He pretended like things had never been awkward between us, jumping right into his theory about the shrink's mistress—apparently on days the doctor was more interested in hearing about sex, he was going to meet his mistress; other days he was going to go home to his wife—over breakfast. I went along with it, smiling and enjoying the warmth in my chest.

"Returning to your father."
"What father?"
"Roxas. You know what I'm talking about."
"You mean the one I never had? I'm sorry, I must be shielding to protect myself from painful probing into the past I'd rather forget. Classic symptoms."
"Mocking will get you nowhere, Roxas."
"I know, I must be distracting from the subject at hand through the use of defensive sarcasm."
"Not really feeling cooperative today, doc."


I knew the psychiatrist had bad news the moment I stepped into his office. He was wearing his serious face—which, really, isn't too different from his normal face—and tapping his pencil on the legal pad. This is always a bad sign from psychiatrists, since they've been taught not to do stuff like that—it excites the patient and distracts them, and can be a sign of boredom, which is very bad for the patient to see from their doctor. I slouched in the chair sideways in retaliation, legs hanging off one plushy arm and head off another, looking at the drab carpet. It was kind of obvious no one had vacuumed in a while, since there were the telltale little flecks scattered over it and I saw some pretty heavy dust under the cabinet over by the baseboards. I heard a sigh from the doctor and turned my head to look at him, still upside down.

"Yeah? What is it? I know you have bad news."

"It's not bad news, Roxas," he said, sounding surprised. I wondered if he had taken into account that we likely had different definitions of the term.

"Then what is it?"

"I've spoken with your mother, and we both agree that it's fairly obvious your current medication isn't working. One slipup we could overlook—"

"I thought beating the shit out of Seifer was a very serious occurrence not to be repeated, not just a slipup."

"—but a reccurence of your, ahem, Sora and this new girl—"


"—yes, Naminé. We think they've shown that the medication is doing very little to control your symptoms."


"And—what is?"


"What's funny, Roxas?"

"I don't know."

"Well, anyway, your mother and I have decided to enter you in a study. This is experimental medicine, but low-risk, and there aren't very many options left for you."


"The nurses already know, and you will begin taking the new medication tonight." I got up to go, suddenly understanding why I'd been getting smaller and smaller doses lately.

"And you said it wasn't bad news," I said, leaving the office.

"You know, my symptoms haven't stopped."
"Roxas, you know why."
"Just thought I'd tell you."
"The pills will take some time before they start taking effect."
"Yeah, yeah, 12 weeks and all that."
"And I could be on a placebo."
"Roxas, if you believe that you're on a placebo, the chance of success, even with the real medication is drastically reduced."
"Yeah, yeah. If I'm going to get better anyway."