With fifteen people living in an enclosed space in close contact with each other over a prolonged period of time...be careful what you say to who, because word gets around.

Marluxia wasn't being careful. He'd read an insult somewhere that had struck him as extremely witty, now that he knew what it was referring to, and he was just waiting for a chance to use it - he even knew the right person to use it on. If his overall personality wasn't enough, the intended subject had taken a particularly embarrassing fall only a few days before, as a meeting was letting out. Granted, he was recovering from multiple serious injuries and just getting used to walking again, but that mattered as much to Marluxia as the price of potatoes in Sweden; that fall just made him an extra-prime target. The only care he took was to make sure he shared the joke with someone who would appreciate it. He and Larxene were off sharing a nice, private chat by themselves, having a laugh at the expense of no few other members, and Larxene made some joke about Xaldin doing an uncharacteristically bad job on a mission - something about him forcing Demyx to do it and just signing his name to the paperwork, without reading it and noticing that Demyx, true to form, had blown the job. Marluxia laughed, shook his head, and made use of his opening.

"He wouldn't be that stupid - he knows as well as any of us that Demyx is about as useful as a Slinky. No good for anything, except it's fun to watch him fall downstairs."

Larxene just couldn't keep a good cruel joke to herself. Of course, the person she shared the most jokes with was Marluxia, and he'd told it to her, so it wasn't until the next day before she got a chance to share it with anyone else. Since there were only two women in the Organization, they obviously had to share a bathroom, and since they both had labor-intensive hairstyles and a limited amount of time to do their hair in the morning, they usually ended up sharing the bathroom mirror. It took a lot of effort, not to mention hair gel, to make those two pigtails defy gravity like that, and Xanrivash's half-in-six-little-braids half-free style wasn't exactly a labor saver either, especially considering the extra work of braiding all those bowstrings and feathers in. There had to be easier ways to carry spare bowstrings, but she seemed immune to ribbing on the subject. On the plus side, she wasn't very talkative, and seemed content to let Larxene say whatever she wanted as long as it wasn't a personal insult. No denying, she was a good listener.

"So I was talking to Marluxia yesterday, about how Xaldin botched his last mission so bad you'd think Demyx had done it, and he said..."

After all his entertaining, tragic, dramatic, and/or death-defying contributions to the archives, Xanrivash knew Demyx well enough not to think of him as worthless, and was generous enough to remember he'd been in a wheelchair two weeks ago and was still getting used to walking again. That aside, she didn't get the joke. Having spent her life as a Somebody in a non-industrialized world where metal was almost never wasted on toys and coiled wire was no more than a jewelry motif, she had not the faintest idea what a Slinky was or why it would be fun to watch fall down the stairs. Larxene hadn't explained it, and she'd left before she had a chance to ask her about it. And frankly, she didn't know who else to ask. She didn't know who would know, for one thing, and she didn't like being intrusive. Eventually, when she went into the library to file a few more completed archive pages, she found her opportunity sitting there waiting for her.

"Zession, do you know what a Slinky is or why Marluxia might compare Demys to one?"

Zexion did not believe in spreading rumors or encouraging gossip, and far be it from him to engage in any such activity. What he did believe in, however, was ensuring that people received their just desserts. Normally, blackmail was his preferred method for achieving that end, because of the material bonus it offered, but from what he knew of Eleven, and of Eleven's opinion of Nine, there was no way to use this snippet for blackmail - if he offered to let Nine know, Eleven would laugh in his face. He would consider it no threat. And from what he knew of Nine, that was quite foolish of Eleven to think so. Coincidentally, ensuring fools learned necessary lessons was another thing Zexion believed in. Of course, he would never stoop to telling Nine himself, but he certainly knew how to ensure that Nine found out. All he had to do was wait for the right person to come along.

"Fifteen, have you heard what Eleven has to say about Nine...?"

Foriuxocol couldn't keep a good joke to himself any more than Larxene could. The jokes didn't necessarily have to be cruel for him to appreciate them, but cruel jokes were certainly appreciated. And like Larxene, he had a listening ear just on the other side of the bathroom door. Unlike Larxene, he knew pretty well what kind of a shitstorm he was about to set in motion. Setting shitstorms in motion was half the fun, especially if he wasn't in their way. And this one promised to be particularly entertaining. Besides, it wasn't like Marluxia wasn't asking for it. Maybe it was just Fori's perspective, since Demyx could render his powers dead useless if he wanted and kick his ass at leisure (blood being mostly water, after all), calling Demyx useless seemed pretty damn dumb to him. And he lived right next door to someone who'd find it even dumber. Let the shitstorm commence.

"Hey, Roxas, did you hear what Marluxia said about Demyx?..."

To say Roxas was livid to hear those words was a bit of an understatement. He owed Demyx his life at least three times over, for one thing, but even aside from that, Demyx was one of his best friends. Friends, hell, he was practically a brother to him - he cooked for him, helped take care of him when he wasn't feeling well, reassured him when he botched a mission, even taught him to play sitar, which privilege was very selectively granted. Marluxia, on the other hand, was a cruel, self-centered prick who'd stolen Axel's girlfriend - not like he thought very highly of Larxene, but still. And when someone botched a mission, you could count on him to rub it in for all it was worth; Roxas knew that from experience. And if the combination of how much his best friends hated Marluxia and how much he'd come to dislike him on his own wasn't enough, Namine was scared of him. Anyone who scared Namine automatically got a serious black mark in Roxas's book. His first impulse, on hearing what Fori had to say, was to go break Marluxia's nose, but he knew that Marluxia would probably kick his ass first. Not knowing what else to do, he marched down the hall to tell the first person he could think of.

"Axel! Have you heard what Marluxia's been saying about Demyx?"

Axel did not really need any more reasons to not like Marluxia. He already had enough to sustain a centuries-long rivalry, starting from the day he'd joined. The bastard treated Demyx like shit, harassed Roxas for the smallest mistakes, and stole his girlfriend. All right, the two of them had been fighting covertly or openly over Larxene since the day she joined, and it was half Axel's fault that she left him anyway, but that was no reason to forgive Marluxia for stealing her. Marluxia was a bastard, a scum, an ambitious prick, a self-centered piece of shit, a backstabber in development, and every other insult that Axel could think of along those lines, and he was pretty sure Marluxia didn't like him any better. He would have loved to use this latest insult against one of his little brothers as an excuse to go beat the shit out of him, but the thought of Xigbar - or worse yet, Xemnas - letting him have it with both barrels for not keeping his temper in check was enough to change his mind. Besides, when the one who'd find revenge even sweeter was just next door...

"Demyx! Have you heard yet what Marluxia has to say about your fall a few days back?"

Marluxia was silently snickering to himself all through dinner as he looked at Demyx, still amused by his own wit. Of course, he wouldn't be so foolish as to share the joke at the dinner table, any more than he'd tell Larxene a blonde joke, but he did have the satisfaction of knowing how right he was. Everyone was making so much of the weakling, as if he'd pulled off some spectacular heroics - well, even Marluxia had to admit that he probably should have died months ago, and was somewhat impressed that he hadn't, but all that proved to him was that the coward had a hidden stubborn streak. And he already knew that. Such a fuss over not very much... Well, he was done eating, and he wanted to finish pruning the cherry trees before he grew too tired. Standing up and leaving his plate by the sink, he headed for the stairs, intending to go out to his garden...

And slipped on a puddle that had absolutely no right or reason to be where it was. Right at the top of the stairs.

When his foot shot out from under him, he knew immediately that there was no way he was going to recover his balance. All he could do was try to protect his head and neck and wait until he reached the bottom. The fall couldn't have taken more than a few seconds, but it felt like hours, tumbling head over heels down the stairs until the painful, humiliating ride was over. As he picked himself up off the floor at the bottom, feeling like one giant mass of bruises, he could distinctly hear someone laughing uproariously at the top. When he turned to see who it was, Demyx waved cheerfully at him and started laughing even harder.

"Marluxia...you're more fun than a Slinky!"

...How in Kingdom Hearts's name did he know about that?

AN: When you live with such a small, (fairly) tight-knit group of people, it's not necessarily wise to assume that everything you say is confidential. Everyone knows everyone, and word gets around.