This is my first Kingdom Hearts story, I hope you all enjoy it. I am debating on whether or not to write this story fully, so please review and let me know if you want to see the story progress. Thanks!


"Ms. Casey, your son's body is shutting down. His white cell counts are far too low, and we found cancer in his bone marrow. I suggest you help him do the things he wants to do. I can get you the release papers now."

"Doctor, he isn't my son. I'm his social worker. He's a ward of the state; I'm not authorized to take him anywhere but back to the home. Wouldn't it be best to let him stay here at Mother of Mercy?"

They always think I can't hear them. When they talk about test results, or the fact that I'm going to die. But I have a secret…I hear every word.


Hi, my name is Roxas Ward, and I'm dying.

What I've got is called acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It's cancer, in dummy terms. My lymph nodes got KO'd, and then the rest of me started messing up. Now, I don't respond to treatments. In other words, the chemo isn't any good anymore.

I'm fourteen, fifteen on April 16th. April is one hundred and seventy-two days away. From the sound of the medical chatter they think I don't hear, I'm probably not going to make it until then.

I never think much about the fact that I'm dying, or I try not to. I've been doing it my whole life, practically. I remember coming to this same hospital for treatments. I remember they gave me a blue sucker whenever they put in the needle. Dumb, five-year-old Roxas always forgot about the needle in favor of the candy. They still give me the sucker, but now I think it's out of pity.

I've been getting ready to die almost my whole life. I honestly don't know anything else. Sometimes I wonder about what I'm missing, but it hurts too much to think about, so I try really hard not to remember that not everyone lives like this. I try to see dying as the main event, the thing all this hospital hell is getting me ready for.

I'm kind of a downer, huh? Well, you're the one who came into my head to hear my story. Stick around, it gets…well, I don't know yet. You're here now. Might as well listen.


"I can HEAR you, Ms. Casey." I use a singsong tone, just to freak her out.

There's a gasp loud enough to carry to my bed behind this curtain. I hate the curtain, but I can never move it. My arm's always stuck to an IV.

"Roxas, you should be resting! You don't need to hear this."

"Ms. Casey, I know what's happening. You can talk about it in front of me. C'mon, Doc, how long have I got?"

The curtain is pushed aside (yes!) and a stern, blonde doctor's face greets me. He's not my usual doctor. He looks angry. I wonder if it's my fault, but I don't much care. You quit worrying about that when there are no consequences.

"Young man, talking about your condition like that won't help you in any way."

"Nothing else will, either."

"Do you want to know the facts…" He looks at his clipboard. I can't be angry that he doesn't know my name. He's new. "Roque-sass?"

"It's Roxas. Yeah, sock it to me."

"Your condition is steadily worsening, Roxas. You'll probably start sleeping more, blacking out, losing interest in food and daily activities. You'll want to spend most of your time in bed, and that's really what you're here for."

"So what's my expiration date?" Ms. Casey gasped again, as if hearing me speak so offhandedly about my own death surprised her.

"Ballpark, meaning it could be more or less than this by any margin, I'd give it six months." Huh, I might make fifteen after all.

There was a momentary silence.

"Roxas, you need to make a few decisions." This was Ms. Casey speaking, all matter-of-fact, as if she saw this every day. She probably did.

"I don't want to go back to the home if I'll just be in and out of here. I'll stay here, I guess."

"That was one of the questions I was going to ask you. Now, your schooling; do you want to keep trying to do the work and finish eighth grade, or-"

"I don't see what use a dead boy has for a diploma." The venom in my voice surprised even me, as if I didn't know the extent of my own bitterness until the moment I opened my mouth.

My words stunned both the doctor and Ms. Casey into open-mouthed quiet. "That's…that's fine, Roxas. Are there any things you want from the home, things you want to have here?"

"My books, please."

"Ahem." A small cough from the doctor drew my attention. "Perhaps I should give you a moment to discuss these matters."

"Of course, Doctor." Ms. Casey dismissed him further with a hand wave. "I'm sure you have other patients to attend to."

He left with a swish of the curtain and a reminder to press the call button on the remote if I needed anything.

"Now, Roxas. You said your books, is there anything else you want?"

"My clothes, I guess, in case they let me outside."

"Okay, I can bring them later today. Would you like to return to the home and tell the other boys goodbye?"

"Nah, they know. Just…just tell Sora not to wimp out on me, huh? Tell him I want to hear about how he kicked the crud out of Marluxia the next time he tries to molest him." A sudden rush of sorrow filled me, even at the thought of not seeing Sora give the resident pervert a good punch.

"They'll all forget me, anyhow." I tried to return to detachment. I had people I knew, but I wasn't important to them.

"Roxas, please don't talk that way. You have many friends who will miss you."

"…Thanks, Ms. Casey." Sometimes, when a grown-up is wrong, it's easier to pretend you believe them.

"Well, I should go and get your things now. I'll be back in a few hours."

"Okay. Thank you."

___

That blond doctor came to see me every so often, to ask me about my pain and draw blood for tests. He tried to make conversation, telling me about the strange occurrences around the hospital, but it was always stiff and forced.

I did like one story he told me, though, one about a secretary and a lab technician who had left a patient under the X-ray while they had sex in the control room. Of course, Dr. Even didn't tell me that exactly, he used terms like "getting intimate," but I couldn't blame him.

Anyway, the secretary had been up against the X-ray machine, and the motions that were going on flipped the switch on and off. The guy under the X-ray got his brain fried.

"Some people just can't wait until their coffee break, huh?" I said, when the doctor told me this.

He looked at me funny for a second. "Yes, they're like hormonal teenagers…"

I thought that was weird, people assuming teenagers are hormonal. I didn't think I was.

Then again, I found it difficult to believe I was dying. I felt fine.


The sun was nice like this, all neon orange and red. I liked sunsets, and the residential room I'd been assigned had a good view.

I could already see the big problem with living at a hospital: I was bored almost constantly. The TV was fuzzy and had only local channels, and hearing news of how many people had died on a certain day didn't interest me.

My books rested on the small nightstand next to me, but I didn't have many, and I'd read them all.

Most of the time, I stared at the ceiling and made stories about the dots on the textured tile. One was named Jim, and his wife was Griselda, and they had two children, Sam and Annie. The far right corner tile was school, and-

I was cracking up, and I'd been here a week. One week, and I had turned into a raving loony who knew his ceiling dots by name. No one would care, of course. People tended to lose all judgments about my sanity when they found out that I was on thirty different kinds of meds. They were almost all pills, but I had to sit with an IV in my arm for an hour every day.

It didn't matter. I had nothing to do outside the bed anyway.


I slept a lot during the day, which meant that I was up all night. This was worse than the boring days, because then, I at least knew something, somewhere, was happening. At night, I knew nothing was moving, anywhere.

Or so I thought, until I was given the surprise of my life.

One night, a few days after the naming of the ceiling dots, a man walked into my room. It was around midnight, and casual as you please, he strolled in with a yellow cart. It was filled with mops, brooms, cleaning spray, and a few things I couldn't even name.

The man was extremely tall, dressed in plain work jeans and a black button-up shirt with a name patch on the left breast. I couldn't quite read it from here… He was thin, bony, with hair like nothing I'd ever seen. It was bright red, like burn-my-eyes red, and stood up at an angle that indicated the use of at least three bottles of hair gel. Someone liked shocking people.

His face was expressive, green, green eyes darting around the room from time to time and a narrow nose that appeared to have been broken. His mouth was moving, though no noise came out, and he walked with a bounce in his step. There was a pair of black headphones lost somewhere in his hair, and he was dancing along to the music.

"Hey. Uh, dude? What are you doing in my room?"

There was no reply as the man picked up my trash can and tossed the few tissues inside into a large black bag attached to his cart.

"Hello? Anyone home?"

No answer. I guess he couldn't hear me at all.

"HEY!" I didn't want to wake up anyone else, so I resorted to plan B. I wadded up a hospital-brand Kleenex and aimed for that vivid head.

CRASH! The man ripped his headphones from his ears and stumbled backwards into his cart. This, of course, made the entire thing topple over. There was water everywhere, bottles rolling all over the place, brooms loose and looking like they had a mind of their own.

"SHIT! What the hell is a kid doing in here?" He wasn't talking to me, but I had no idea who he was talking to. The headphones played on from their position on the floor next to the man. "-two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl, year af-"

"Kid. What's goin' on here? This room is supposed to be empty. Says so on the chart that I'm cleaning this place tonight."

"Well, it's not empty. I've been here for a week and a half."

The redhead consulted a clipboard that had found its way under his legs. "Says room 412 right here."

"Let me see that, it's wrong." I looked at the list attached to the board, and saw no 412 anywhere. "Where? I don't see it."

"Here!" The janitor stalked toward me and jabbed a finger at the list. "Four-one-two."

"That says 421. Four-two-one."

"Fuck."

"Dude, it's okay. I'm not going to say anything. I'll even help you pick this up. If you don't mind me wearing a paper dress."

He raised an eyebrow, and then laughed at me. He couldn't be very old, maybe twenty-five, tops. "Deal, kid. The name's Axel, don't forget it."

"Your shirt says 'Horatio'."

"Yeah, he's never here, so I stole his shirt when I spilled coffee on mine." What do you say to that? It was so random I had no reaction, and I must have looked pretty dumb thinking of one.

"Dr. Even says the coffee around here is dangerous enough to eat through the pot."

"He's right, I think it burned a hole in my shirt." It was my turn to raise an eyebrow and laugh.

"Better that than your pants."

This was met with Axel (was that his name?) throwing back his head and laughing heartily. His laugh reminded me of Sora's, kind of jumpy and shaky. "You're all right, kid. What's your name?"

"Roxas Ward."

"Well, I'm the night janitor, what are you in for?"

"Cancer. I'm gonna die."

"Huh." Axel was quiet for a moment. "Guess it beats not knowing."

"Yeah." I had a feeling he regretted asking. "Hey, let's clean this junk up before security comes in here and tears you a new one."

"Aw, Lexaeus? He's harmless, as long as you bring him brownies."

"Good strategy." I lifted myself from the bed and asked, "What can I do?"

"Uh…you can get me a mop, and pick up the bottles, I guess." He rubbed the back of his head, causing the whole nest of spikes to rustle. "Sheesh, what a mess." Axel set to work righting the cart and mopping up the spilled water.

The whole fiasco took less than ten minutes to get cleaned up. Afterward, Axel pushed the yellow cart outside the room and came back over to my bed. He held out a gloved hand. "Good meeting you, Roxas Ward. Maybe I'll come back and hang out when my rounds are over."

"I wouldn't mind. I stay up all night, and I'm bored out of my skull."

"See you in a few hours, then." And with a genial wave, the whirlwind that was Axel was gone, whistling along to his music player. I had to ask him about that.


Now, I know what you're thinking. "Roxas, you shouldn't talk to strange men who clean hospitals at night. He'll molest you! Don't even consider inviting him to your room!"

But you're forgetting the only good thing about being like me. There are no consequences to anything when your life is ending. I have a kind of freedom most people will never know, and I pray that they don't ever have to. I have the freedom of an easy exit.

And Axel may have been slightly insane, but he was a lot more interesting than anyone else I'd met at Mother of Mercy.

I had a feeling he'd like the story about the secretary and the X-ray.


What do you think? If this is well-received, I'll write it as a full multi-chapter story. Hell, if one person is interested in this, I'll write the whole thing.

This will be a shonen-ai/yaoi, but not in the usual way people think about it. It's rated M for language, safety, and dark content, but future scenes may further cause this rating. I promise nothing… :) (wink, wink)

This will get sad, and the likelihood of a happy ending is…not good. But it will be one crazy ride.

Reviews keep me warm at night, and it's really cold in here.

Love, Swiss

"CHALLENGE"

Okay, the whole idea for this comes from a song about a dying girl and the effect she had on the singer. If anyone can tell me the name of the song and the artist, I'll write you a request, anything you want within reason. There's a glaring reference to the song in this chapter, so if you know, review and put it in there.