"...You're shitting me. You have got to be shitting me."

"Nine, curb your language," Vexen snapped, as if he hadn't just set Demyx's whole world on its ass. "I am being perfectly serious."

"But...light duty for...an entire year...?" Demyx just couldn't accept it. He refused to accept it. He'd been hurt much worse than this in the past - well, all right, the missing hand was a definite handicap, but the prosthetic was supposed to be ready in a month, and he knew personally now that prostheses from the Galaxy Far, Far Away were exactly what Xigbar had described, just like the real thing except they didn't bleed - and gone back on full duty in half that time. Then again, Malenisa had only broken the bones in his legs; she hadn't actually gone at his pelvic bones with that hammer of hers. And he hadn't known this until he actually suffered one, but a pelvic fracture made even two broken legs seem like a sprained ankle. It had taken him six weeks just to be allowed out of bed and on crutches, without the excuse of having two broken arms and flayed skin to keep him there.

But still. An entire year.

"I can't spend an entire year on light duty," he whispered, partly to Vexen and partly to thin air. "I couldn't take it. I can't stand to spend that long being useless, filling space and doing make-work..."

"Were you not listening?" Vexen said, as if everything was all Demyx's fault for inconveniencing him today, the fact that Demyx was going to be inconvenienced for a hell of a lot longer than one day being totally irrelevant. Demyx himself was feeling totally irrelevant, except as an object of study or something. "One year is the maximum reasonable figure. The exact amount of time depends on the actual rate of progress, which will rely a great deal on your compliance with physical therapy and care instructions."

"Oh...well, that sounds better." Privately, Demyx swore to follow all physical therapy and care instructions he was given to the letter, or anything else he had to do in order to go back on full duty as soon as possible. "So how long will I -"

"Given the severity of the initial fracture, you will most likely require crutches for another four to six weeks, and may rely on a cane for some long while beyond that." All right, so the Iceman wasn't totally clueless about and insensitive to the inner workings of normal people. Or he'd just become good at predicting what patients would ask next from experience. "There is a chance that it may take some years to regain complete mobility -" Demyx came that close to having a panic attack, hearing that. "But given your age and current physical condition, it should take far less time than that."

"Thank the Gods," Demyx murmured under his breath - if it really did take him several years to be able to walk properly again, he'd lose his mind. "Can I go now?" he asked in a louder voice, hoping the answer would be "yes". He'd had enough of being stuck in a hospital setting, here or anywhere, to last him for about ten years.

"Yes, yes, you may go." Vexen waved him off impatiently, as if he was eager to see the last of him. Well, Demyx hadn't exactly been keen on hanging around himself. Without a moment's hesitation, he grabbed the Claw - his name for the clamplike temporary prosthetic he was using now, that he only wore when he damn well needed it - and grabbed his crutches, with some difficulty.

Only...where was he going to go?

Demyx made it out of the hospital wing all right, but then, he just stopped. Where could he go from here? He didn't want to go back to his room, but...there was nothing for him to do anywhere else. He was just taking up space, no more than a semi-useful placeholder, just like the Claw. Only even less useful.

Eventually, he settled on his garden, simply because it was a nice, private place to be useless out of everyone else's way. It was also a very nice place to be in general, beautiful and peaceful and private - the whole "private" thing had a lot of appeal right then. Stopping by his room to grab one of his sitar pillows - sitting on a hard bench unprotected was too painful to be worth it - he portaled to the garden and took a seat, setting both crutches and the Claw aside. Secure in his tiny green haven, he already felt a sense of comfort and relief. Whatever havoc was going on in the worlds around him, he felt like it couldn't reach him here. Here, he was safe.

Here, he could cry in private, and no one would ever know.

There wasn't really anything wrong with crying, he told himself. He couldn't expect himself to be brave and stalwart and stoic every single minute of every day. Even the bravest guy had to cry sometime, life got to be too much for everyone sometimes, doubly so when that life was as rough as his, he'd lived through two nightmares in two months and come that close to dying each time, he'd suffered what could and should have been a life-altering injury, no sane person could expect him to be unaffected by that, it would probably be proof of insanity if he wasn't affected somehow, he was as human as anyone could be without a heart, a few tears were nothing to be ashamed of...and yet he was ashamed, deeply ashamed of himself for breaking down even in private. He wanted to be strong, he wanted to be unshakable, he wanted to be invulnerable...and he just wasn't.

At least he had a private place to cry in.

Eventually, even a waterbender would run out of tears. When Demyx felt like he just couldn't cry anymore, at least not right now, he replaced the Claw, carefully hauled himself back to his feet with his crutches, and portaled to his room, because he had nowhere better to be and his room was comfortable. But he still felt so lost, so adrift, like a homeless ghost...he wasn't lost, and he wasn't adrift; he was at home with the people he knew, but...he didn't feel safe, grounded, or comfortable. Now that he'd finally emerged from the hospital and returned to his real life...fuck, there had to be something wrong with him other than the physical injuries. Maybe some head injury that was messing with him; he knew head injuries could compound over time, if they were severe enough, and he'd suffered that really bad one in the car accident, and maybe something Unktehi did to him had piled on top of that...because he just did not feel like he thought he should feel. All the times before, when he'd had such bad injuries, he'd been impatient to recover, eager to find ways to cope with his injuries in the meantime and get back to as many of his normal activities as he could, even if he was totally bedridden and immobile and could only listen to CDs...but now he just...didn't care. All he wanted to do was lie in bed and wait to see how long it took before the worlds forgot about him completely. Even the physical therapy that he'd promised himself he'd do to get back in shape as soon as possible...didn't seem worth it. In fact, it would be nice if the worlds just went away entirely.

With a faint sigh, he lay down on his bed, perfectly prepared to sleep for the next six months or so. Under normal circumstances, he could fall asleep pretty much anytime, anywhere, but sleep just eluded him right then. All he could do was lie in bed, in a position that put as little pressure on his hip as possible, and wish for sleep. And feel desperately, achingly sorry for himself, and angry and guilty about feeling so sorry for himself, and just plain miserable and in pain pretty well all over...and it couldn't be a heart attack, because while he felt awful and miserable and all wrong in general, there wasn't that specific aching hole in his chest... With a faint sigh, he held up his left arm, staring at the Claw and the pseudo-flesh-toned cap it was attached to, then took it off and pressed the bare stump to his chest. No, honestly, no matter how lifelike and realistic prosthetic limbs from the Galaxy Far, Far Away were, having an artificial hand would be very much like having an artificial heart. Just...not the same.

Something cold and wet touched his right hand. He couldn't even work up the will to move, even to lift his head a little and see what it was; he just lay there, inert as a corpse, as something knocked the Claw off the side of the bed and onto the floor with a loud clunk. Then something climbed up onto the pillow next to him, and started licking at his cheek with a rough tongue. For some reason, he couldn't help but smile, despite how miserable he felt. "Yes, Connie, I know," he said, fully aware that the cat was industriously ignoring everything he said in typical feline manner. "I'm used to shaving left-handed. But the Claw really isn't designed for manipulating a razor, so I've been trying to learn how to do it right-handed, and I'm not a complete expert yet. Gives you more to lick, though." Connie only bumped him with her head, as if telling him to be quiet, and kept licking, as if he was a kitten in need of grooming. "You couldn't care less what I have to say, could you?" Demyx added with a faint laugh. "...Thank you, though. I...I really needed that."

Not that he didn't still feel depressed. Not that he didn't still feel awful and miserable and in pain all over and like he wanted to sleep his entire recovery away and like his life was just too shitty for any one person to have to put up with. But as long as Connie was there, it didn't matter as much.

"I promise I'll get through this," he whispered, closing his eyes for a moment. Connie paused in her attentions, then licked the center of his forehead. Demyx smiled again, but was enjoying the attention too much to shoo her away; in a matter of minutes, he fell asleep.


AN: This is easily the shortest thing I've written in a while. Easily. It's just a little moment with a man and his cat, a drabble about a guy nearing the end of his rope who needs support from wherever he can get it. It's short, it's sweet, and no one gets hurt.

This was originally going to be longer, and possibly sappier. I may add more chapters in this vein at a later date.

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