Demyx was cold. At least, he thought he was. He couldn't exactly tell, or quite remember what cold was supposed to feel like, but his instincts were telling him to put on thicker clothing and get some blankets or something, because he wasn't comfortable, and adding layers would make him more comfortable. And comfortable was a good thing to be.

Burrowing back into the blankets was risky; it might lead to him going back to sleep, which would neatly absent him from the puzzles of the world for a while, but at the risk of more bad dreams. They were no longer quite so horrifying as they had been, once he'd established that the bad things didn't really happen and people didn't really get hurt and die, but they were still highly unpleasant. And they certainly seemed all too real while he had them. Plus, he learned more interesting old/new things while he was awake.

For instance, if this actually was what "cold" felt like, he'd learned he didn't like it. In fact, he disliked it so much that he absolutely did not want to get out of bed, for fear of exposing himself to more of it. Cold brought back bad memories, from dreams and from reality, that he would rather not dwell on, and he was happy to just huddle up in bed until it went away. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough clothing or blankets to keep it away entirely, and getting more would require getting out of bed and exposing himself to that nasty cold. Was it better to continue suffering a low level of cold, or risk the effects of a lot of cold at once in the hopes of making it all go away? As of right now, suffering the low level seemed to be the lesser evil, so he remained where he was, bundled up in his blankets. Even when Connie hopped onto the bed in search of company, he only allowed one hand to emerge from cover to stroke her fur, and that only reluctantly.

"Demyx? You awake yet?"

"Y-yeah," Demyx answered the voice from the other side of the door, secretly proud of how little he'd stumbled over the word. "I-I'm awake."

"That's good," Axel said as he carefully pushed the door open with his back, a mug in one hand and a plate of food in the other. "How are you holding out? Hungry at all?"

"M-mostly c-c-cold."

"Good thing I brought tea, then." Axel set the plate and mug down on the table by Demyx's bed, then sat down on the bed himself. "Better start with that."

"Ok-k-kay." Carefully sitting up a little further and working both hands out from under the blanket, Demyx took the mug off the table and raised it to his lips, but the searing heat he could feel emanating from it made him reluctant to let its contents touch his lips. "D-did you..." He stopped short, aware that he wanted to ask Axel if he'd done something to the tea, he always asked Axel if he'd done something to the tea because that was how he liked to drink tea, but he couldn't for the life of him remember what that something was. "I-I mean...d-di-did you..."

"Sweeten it? Yeah."

"Y-yeah...th-that's what I w-was th-thinking of. I g-guess. Th-thank you." Staring into the mug again, Demyx wondered - it was such a simple word, and a simple concept - but even though he knew he preferred it if it was done to his tea, he didn't even really know what sweeten meant anymore. The word itself held no meaning, and even if he taste-tested the tea, he had no frame of reference for how it tasted without being sweetened and what sweetening did to it. Since he knew he always drank his tea like that, he knew that once upon a time, he'd decided that it was better sweetened than unsweetened, but how did he know anymore? Maybe if he tried it again, he'd think differently...

Did he want to know? If he tried unsweetened tea and decided he liked it better that way - if that...experience had caused him to change his tastes in tea - what else about him might it have changed? For the better? For worse? For the weirder? Would he even know he'd changed?

"Ax...c-could you...get me s-some uns-s-sweetened tea? I j-just...wanna t-try it."

Axel just stared at him, as if suspecting Demyx had lost the last of his mind at some point along the way. "...Okay...considering that I've never known you to drink unsweetened tea in your life...why?"

"I-I...I w-wanna...try it," Demyx said, feeling vaguely annoyed that Axel wouldn't just accept it. "J-just...bring m-me some."

Axel just kept staring at him, and finally shook his head and stuck his hand in Demyx's face. "Okay, you crackup, how many fingers am I holding up?" he demanded, but Demyx suddenly didn't care how many fingers Axel was holding up, or whether or not Axel thought he was nuts. Axel knew how screwed-up his mind was, and he shouldn't be calling him out on it over something as simple as tea, and those fingers were just too damn close to his face. Without really thinking about it, Demyx grabbed Axel's fingers and bent them backwards, in a way that he subconsciously knew fingers were not supposed to bend, but he wanted them the hell out of his face. Axel's sudden howl of pain made him let go, but he didn't reconsider his actions for a second. "You little psycho!" Axel snapped, shaking his hand and glaring evilly at Demyx; Demyx only stared defiantly back at him. After all, Axel shouldn't have shoved his hand in his face like that. "Fuck this - get your own damn tea! If you're not too stupid to figure it out...!" With that, he stormed back to his own room, slamming the door behind him, but Demyx never said a word. It was Axel's fault, for getting in his face like that; all he'd done was react appropriately.

He kept staring at the closed door long after Axel was gone, for reasons he didn't really understand. Axel was gone, and he at least had some tea; even if he didn't know what difference sweetening it made anymore, at least he knew that he (used to) like it sweetened anyway. Besides, Axel shouldn't have gotten in his face like that. He knew Demyx's mind was screwed up; he shouldn't have gotten snippy with him for...well, having a screwed-up mind, including things like not knowing how tea tasted anymore, sweetened or unsweetened. All right, he knew it must have hurt when he bent Axel's fingers back like that - the yelp he'd let out had been a giveaway that he was in pain, and boy, did Demyx know what pain felt like - but it was his own fault. And there was absolutely no reason for him to shout at him like that.

And there was no reason for Demyx to start crying, either, or to suddenly hate the thought of drinking the tea he had. After all, it was all Axel's fault...wasn't it? It had to be...even if Demyx had hurt him...it had only been a little bit; his fingers would have been fine as soon as he let them go, but...he'd hurt him. And now Axel was gone, and he was probably angry at him, and Demyx wasn't going to get to try unsweetened tea and see if it was better sweetened or not, and it was all his fault. And all he could do now was wish he hadn't done that.


AN: Sometimes you just write, and see what the characters do.