First Blood

A Kingdom Hearts fanfic by Raberba girl

Summary: She may be a boy's replica, but she is most definitely female. Spoilers for 358/2 Days. Rated for slightly disturbing content, either physical or emotional or both, take your pick.

A/N: In case the title + summary was too vague a hint, this fic is made almost entirely of awkward, and I'm certainly not expecting anyone to read it who's interested in cute fluffy humor. Because parts of this fic are definitely NOT cute fluffy humor.

Also, the entire Org's still around, which means I'm completely ignoring canon chronology. *sweatdrop* And Xion shares Vexen's room, for reasons I talked about in the Christmas at the Castle author's notes (basically, unpleasant as the thought is, it just makes the most sense to me). This fic does not take place in the CatC universe, though.

o.o.o

"...and we were almost spotted again!" Roxas laughed, taking another lick of his ice cream. "Seriously, I never thought it'd be that hard to sneak past a clock."

Axel shook his head. "It's so strange listening to you two, you have the weirdest adventures."

"But, Axel, you go to the same worlds we do," Xion pointed out. "Haven't you seen strange things out there?"

"Well...I admit, that crazy cat in Wonderland kind of creeps me out..."

"At least he doesn't attack you," Roxas mused. "Seems like half the locals in the worlds we go to want to hurt us."

"It's really sad," Xion sighed.

"Yeah. Good thing you can fight now, though," Roxas said.

Xion frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Well, you know. Back when you couldn't use your Keyblade and all you had was magic, those missions we had together were kind of hard."

Xion's cheeks flushed. "It wasn't my fault. I couldn't summon the Keyblade, no matter how hard I tried."

"I know. I'm just saying, back when I was doing all the work for both of us, it was hard. I mean," he tried to clarify, seeing the look on her face, "I didn't mind, I was happy to help you, Xion. It just took some getting used to, that's all. But it's over now, right?"

Xion seemed to be breathing faster than usual. "So what would happen if I couldn't use the Keyblade again? You'd just...abandon me?"

"Of course not!"

Axel was looking between the two of them, his eyes narrowed. "Xi, you look really upset."

"Of course I'm not upset!" Xion yelled at him. "I'm a Nobody, and we don't have hearts, so I can't get upset, right? I can't get upset, right, Axel? DO I LOOK UPSET TO YOU?"

Roxas was staring at her, his mouth hanging open in shock, apparently unaware that melted ice cream was starting to dribble over his fingers.

"Xion," Axel said cautiously, "what you think you're feeling- I mean, you never act like this-"

"Don't pull that Nobody c- cra- crap on me! There, I said it, I said 'crap'!" she cried wildly. "You think you're so smart but you don't know anything, you're a Nobody just like us, Axel, and, and I...and we-" She paused, her face tight. Roxas was now huddled behind Axel, staring at the girl with a wide-eyed expression. "I FORGOT WHAT I WAS SAYING!" Xion shrieked. "Right in the middle of when I was talking, I forgot what I was saying!"

Axel pulled off his glove, reaching out to her and speaking in a soft, soothing voice. "Come here, sweetheart. You don't look well, let me see if you have a fever-"

"I'M NOT SICK! YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME! HOW COME YOU NEVER UNDERSTAND ME?" Xion flung the rest of her ice cream bar off the clock tower, got violently to her feet, and stomped away.

There was a very long pause. "Axel," Roxas whimpered. "What's wrong with her?"

"I...I don't know. It was like she was PMSing or someth-" Axel suddenly broke off, and his face drained of color.

"What's PMSing?" Roxas asked cautiously.

"U-Urrgghhh, never mind, forget I said it...oh, freaking Kingdom Hearts..." Axel added in a moan, burying his face in his hands.

o.o.o.o.o

Xion woke up that night doubled up in pain. Disoriented and confused, she immediately reached for a Potion, but then remembered that she had put her panels over on the shelf.

Frightened, she simply lay there helplessly for what felt like ages, seemingly unable to think of anything but the pain and the endlessly repeated thought that she wished, wished, wished she had lesser Nobody servants like the rest of the Organization did. Then she could send them to wake up Axel, because she needed help and he was the only one she could think to turn to. But it was like she was paralyzed...

Then, miraculously, the pain began to ebb. Cautiously, Xion sat up in bed and then looked around the dark room, a little dazed. The experiments in progress were softly bubbling away on one side of the room, and the specimens were quiet in their cages (except Ren, who was pacing restlessly, but Ren never settled down, so that was nothing out of the ordinary). Vexen was snoring lightly, a pen and an open notebook lying near his pillow.

'Potion...I have to drink a Potion, just in case...' Xion got to her feet and began to shuffle over to her box of panels. By the time she had rummaged around, as quietly as she could, and found what she was looking for, she was horrified to find that the pain had started coming back. "No, no, no," she whispered.

The Potion worked at once, seeming to make the pain dissolve. Feeling light with relief, Xion turned to go back to bed.

There seemed to be a large dark spot on her sheets. Frowning, Xion summoned a very faint, softly glowing ball of light so as not to wake Vexen and the sleeping specimens. By its illumination, she was able to discern that the stuff on her sheets was fresh blood.

'What...? Am I bleeding? One of the specimens couldn't have gotten loose and crept into my bed, could they?' Xion turned and tip-toed across the room to check for empty cages, but she had not finished looking over them before she realized that the pain was coming back. 'Another Potion, quickly.' Again, she felt much better after taking the draught, though it was disturbing that the healing effects did not seem to be permanent. 'What's wrong with me?'

None of the specimens were missing, and none were bleeding. Tense with anxiety, Xion went back and began to remove the soiled bedding. By the time she had gotten clean sheets onto her bed, which took a lot longer than it should have due to trying to figure out what to do with the old ones, she was running low on Potions and had discovered that Panaceas had no effect on her condition. Trying an Elixir thankfully seemed to eliminate the pain for good, but it did absolutely nothing to stem the flow of blood (the source of which had become quite apparent by now, though Xion could not imagine what might be causing it). 'Axel will know what to do.'

The Proof of Existence was cold and uncomfortably silent. Xion shivered, wrapping her arms around her midriff as she padded over to the eighth portal. She entered slowly, so as not to startle the Assassins on guard duty, then moved over to Axel's bed and shook his shoulder. "Axel? Axel, please wake up."

"Mmmrrgh," he finally grunted in response to the shaking.

"Axel...Axel, please..."

His green eyes cracked open at last, taking a moment to focus on her. "Mmmm...Xi?"

"Axel...I n-need help."

"Huh?" he mumbled.

"Axel, my...my stomach was hurting, and the Elixir made it stop but I...I'm...bleeding." She waited tensely.

His eyes widened as he seemed to come fully awake at last. "Oh...holy freaking- no, just, no, I can't, I've got to draw the freaking line SOMEWHERE, dang it! Go talk to Larxene!" He yanked the coverlet close and cringed completely under it. The only parts of him still visible were a few stray spikes of crimson hair and four of his fingers, clenched tightly on the covers.

Xion stared. "Axel! I need help!"

"Go talk to Larxene," he commanded, his voice muffled.

"L-Larxene? I can't talk to Larxene! She- She'll- I can't!"

"I can't, either! I'm a guy! I'm sleeping! Good night! Snore!"

Feeling shaky, Xion left the room again, feeling more lost than she had that first week or two of her time in the Organization. Axel had refused to help her...

She did walk over to the twelfth portal, and stand before it for quite a while. Yet she could not work up enough courage to enter, and she could feel it overflowing again, so she corridored to the bathroom to take care of that as best she could and then, in desperation, went to wake up Roxas.

He sat there and stared at her, his blue eyes still hazy from sleep. "Xion?"

"Roxas..." After what had happened with Axel, she was frightened to ask now.

"What is it? Is something wrong?"

"Um...yes, but..." She felt shaky, like it was hard to breathe. Her throat seemed clogged, and she could no longer speak.

His expression cleared as he came fully awake, and he reached out to rest a hand on her shoulder. "Tell me what's wrong, Xion. Do you want me to go get Axel?"

"N-No!"

He stared at her. His hand dropped away, and an apprehensive look came over his face. Belatedly, Xion remembered that strange tantrum she had thrown up on the clock tower that afternoon.

"Oh, Roxas, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry for yelling at you earlier, I just..." Again, the words seemed to crowd in her throat, choking her, and she fell silent.

Roxas's face changed. Then he stood up and gently put his arms around her. "It's okay, Xion. Whatever it is, we can handle it together."

That made her smile. "Um, I don't think we can, Roxas. But...thank you." She drew in a deep breath. "Roxas, I'm...bleeding."

He looked alarmed. "You are? Did you get hurt?"

"That's the thing! I don't think so. I don't remember getting injured, and I even drank an Elixir, and my stomach doesn't hurt anymore but I'm still bleeding."

"Where are you bleeding?" he asked in concern.

The strangest, uncomfortable sort of feeling suddenly came over her. "Ummm...I...don't...really want to say," she finally managed.

He frowned in confusion. "Why not?"

"Because it's...well...I don't - want to tell you."

"...Okay." He put his hand on his chin, the way he did when he was trying to figure something out. "So you don't remember getting hurt, and you said that you took an Elixir but it didn't work?"

"Yes. I ate a Panacea, too."

"Did you try a Cure spell?"

"Oh! No, I didn't."

"Here, let me cast one on you." Roxas did so. They both waited for a long, hopeful moment.

Then Xion grimaced. "It didn't work."

"Really? How can you tell-? Oh! Is that where you're hurt?"

Xion moved back uneasily, wishing she had something to wipe away the blood with. Maybe she should have changed into her uniform after all. It would have gotten messy, but at least it would done a better job hiding the blood than the clothes she used for sleepwear did. "Let me stop by the bathroom a minute, I need to...take care of something."

"O-Okay."

Roxas was anxiously waiting as she came out again, now dressed in her uniform. "Are you all right now, Xion?"

"No, I just...it's just better that I wear my coat."

"You look cold."

She realized that she had wrapped her arms around herself again. "I...I am a little bit, but..." She chewed her lip nervously. "Axel kept saying I should ask Larxene for help."

"Really?"

"Yes, but...I'm...scared." She could not have admitted it to anyone except Roxas. He was the only one who might understand.

Roxas shivered a little. "Yeah. I don't blame you." He looked at her again. "I went to wake up Axel, but he was being really stupid. He wouldn't get up, and he kept telling me that you were fine. But you're not. And why would he tell you to ask Larxene for help?"

"Do you think that maybe she can?" Xion whispered. She was getting desperate.

"I dunno. I mean, what in the worlds can Larxene do that Axel can't?"

"We won't find out unless we try, I guess..."

Roxas drew in a deep breath. "I'll go with you, Xion."

She had reached out and grasped his hands before even realizing what she was doing. "You will?" she burst out gratefully.

"Yeah." He smiled, though his face was pale. "Of course I will. You're my friend, Xion. I'm not gonna leave you alone when you're in trouble."

Together, they fought their way into the Savage Nymph's room, trying to get past her lesser Nobody guards without killing them. No sense in ticking off Larxene even more than they were already going to. Roxas summoned some Samurai to keep the lightning guards occupied, and then the two young Nobodies approached the bed.

Larxene was sprawled comfortably amidst a tangle of sunflower-patterned sheets, and Roxas had the fleeting thought that she looked a lot prettier with her hair loose than in her usual severely slicked-back style. He glanced at Xion, and Xion glanced back at him. Then, just as his fingers were twitching in preparation to reach over, he was relieved to see Xion lean down first and gently shake the Nymph's shoulder.

"Larxene? Larxene," Xion whispered.

"Mm...tighter, 'Luxia..."

The kids exchanged a puzzled glance. "Larxene?" Xion placed both hands on her shoulder and shook a little harder. "Larxene, please wake up. I need to ask you something."

"Mmmggghh...wha's all that noise?" Larxene woke slowly. Then her eyes snapped open and she shot up in bed. "What are you DOING?"

The kids followed her gaze to the fighting Nobodies in the entryway. "Um, well, we needed to talk to you, but your servants wouldn't let us in so we kind of had to fight, but they were following us around so I called my-"

Larxene stood up, her entire body beginning to crackle with lightning.

"Wait!" Roxas cried desperately. "Axel told us to ask you!"

Larxene stared at him, her lightning dying down but still sparking restlessly along her arms. "What?"

"There's something wrong with me," Xion said miserably. "But Axel won't help, and I don't know what to do. He said to ask you."

"Mr. Nanny told you to ask me?" Larxene repeated in disbelief.

Xion was forced to explain the problem yet again, more self-conscious than ever with Roxas at her side and with Larxene's hostile green gaze fixed on her.

Then Larxene's eyes widened. "You've gotta be kidding me!"

Xion stared in mute appeal.

"No way!" Larxene screamed. "No way I'm dealing with this! I may have been the only frickin' female in this Organization before you came along, but that does NOT make me your mama or your big sister or your BFF! If Axel won't baby-sit you through it, then go talk to Vexen, I'm sure he'll be happy to help!"

Both Xion and Roxas gaped at her. "Vexen?"

Electricity exploded around Larxene's petite figure, charging the air and making their skin prickle. The kids hastily backed away.

"Please," Xion begged, "I don't understand, why are you saying that Vexen-?"

"GET OUT OF MY ROOM!"

They fled, making it out just in time before they could be caught in the attack.

They just stood there for a while, Xion trying to stop her brain from going blank, and Roxas frantically trying to think. "It's weird," he finally said. "It's like they all know what's wrong, they're just not telling us."

He had to repeat what he had said before Xion managed to register it. Then she stared at him. "So they already know?" A horrible thought struck her. "They know, and it's so bad that they can't even tell me?"

Roxas's hands clenched in frustration at his own helplessness. "I'll ask Vexen for you," he decided. "You can stay out here."

Unable to speak, she gave him a hug out of pure gratitude, then told Vexen's servants to let Roxas through and waited after he had gone in.

Presently, there was a shriek so loud that Xion could even hear it in the Proof of Existence. Vexen came bursting out of his room, eyes wild with delight. It was ten times creepier than his normal expression, which was saying something. "ZEXION!" he bellowed. "ZEXION, I NEED YOU!" He barged into the sixth portal. Xion stared after him, soon re-joined by the apprehensive-looking Roxas.

Vexen soon burst out again, dragging the Cloaked Schemer.

"Vexen, wait, slow down-" Zexion was trying to say, his hair in such disarray that it now concealed both of his eyes instead of just one.

"You were right! You were absolutely right! This is exactly the evidence we need, and coming at the perfect time when Number VIII isn't around to get in the way of our research! And, oh, I'm sure the Keybearer has something to do with it, all those glorious heart-connections he has to both male and female alike, now we can FINALLY confirm whether there's actual physical support for its feminine self-percep-"

"VEXEN." Zexion finally jerked free, lifting both hands to push his hair out of his face and reveal his slightly harassed expression. "I am not going to do science experiments in my nightclothes. Let me get dressed while you set things up."

"Well, hurry up, then!"

Zexion sighed and went back into his room, as Vexen whirled and bore down on the Keybearers with his eyes alight. He seized Xion by the arm and started dragging her back to their room, making dismissive motions at Roxas with his other hand. "I have no more need for you, Number XIII. Go back to your room."

"What? Hey, I'm coming with you!" Roxas stormed after them, his weapon appearing in his hand. "What are you gonna to do Xion? You're helping her, right?"

"I told you, go away," Vexen snapped, tossing Xion at an examining table and rummaging around for gloves.

When Zexion entered the laboratory, he found Number XIII lying unconscious on the floor and Vexen and Number XIV yelling at each other.

"I am commanding you to be quiet and do as you are told!"

"No! I can't believe you used that stuff on Roxas! He was only trying to help me!"

"He was getting involved in business that has nothing to do with him!"

"I'm his friend, of COURSE it has something to do with him!"

"You are no one's 'friend,' you ignorant creature, now get over there!"

"I'll hit you! I really will hit you!"

Obviously, intervention was needed if Zexion was to prevent a boss battle from taking place right there amidst all the experiments. "Vexen," Zexion said loudly. "You demean yourself by arguing with it."

Vexen blinked, looking first taken aback and then outraged with himself.

"Xion," Zexion went on, trying to guess at the creature's amazingly advanced thinking patterns. "What's done is done. Let's move Roxas over here where he will be more comfortable and out of the way."

The replica had most likely evolved enough to know to balk at situations that would cause anxiety or discomfort in an ordinary human being. Axel's behavior did not help, the way he had, whether intentionally or not, been teaching it to react to things as if it had a heart, just like most of the rest of the Organization pretended to do. "Calm down," Zexion therefore continued. "We are simply going to make observations and take some notes. This is a very interesting development, and we cannot let it pass without documentation."

"N...No. I don't want to. Let us go." The Keyblade was still out, and it was quite obvious that the replica intended to fight if things continued in this manner.

"Nonsense," Vexen snapped. "If you're going to be this uncooperative, we'll just knock you out and conduct the examination while you're unconscious."

The replica gasped and backed away toward XIII's sleeping figure. "No! You can't!"

"We can," Zexion pointed out. "Do you really want to take on both of us at the same time, alone and in your condition?"

The Keyblade wavered a little. Zexion began to weave a quiet illusion, not making a single movement to indicate that he was using his powers.

The replica gasped again, its right hand tightening on the Keyblade and its left flying up to touch its suddenly sightless eyes. Then it blinked and looked around. "What was I...? Axel!"

Vexen made a confused noise, but then raised his eyebrows in understanding when Zexion shot him a meaningful look.

"Oh, Axel, I- What?" The replica gazed intently at the empty air beside it. "Oh...yeah, maybe you're right." It gave a shuddering sigh, the weapon disappearing from its hand. "It was such a strange, horrible dream, though." It sat down and scooted over a little, drawing in its limbs as if sitting close to something. It reached out. "Thanks." It laughed as it made strange gestures, as if unwrapping and beginning to eat a bar of ice cream. "I think I really needed this."

Zexion let the illusion hold a little longer, then gently dissolved it. The replica stared around for a moment, then leaped to its feet. "It wasn't real?"

"The entire session can be like that," Zexion said ruthlessly. "I can make you see whatever I want you to see while we are working. Or, as my colleague said earlier, we can render you unconscious. Or you can cooperate. It doesn't matter to us, you are allowed to choose."

The replica stared at them, and though it had no visible face, Zexion got the distinct impression that it was horrified. He had to remember to make a note of that.

The creature whirled and opened a dark corridor, but the Chilly Academic was swift. He summoned an X-shaped barricade over the entrance, causing the portal to dissipate. The replica tried once more, then ran to seize Number XIII when this second effort was a failure. Zexion wondered why in the world it would do this, until it began dragging its 'friend' toward the door in what must have been another attempt to escape.

Stupid creature. Of course it had no way to flee, for it was immediately surrounded by both Vexen's and Zexion's servants. It could not fight them all at once, accomplish its goal, and bring Number XIII with it at the same time, especially without allies, especially since XIII was incapable of summoning his own lesser Nobodies at the moment. The replica could, perhaps, abandon XIII and fend for itself, which would make the most logical sense, but that would only prompt one of the other options: illusion or unconsciousness.

It occurred to Zexion that there might be some trouble with Number VIII later on when he found out about all this...they would have to remember to wipe the replica's memory of this incident when they were done.

Zexion raised his hand.

"No!" the replica screamed. It crouched down with Roxas still in its grip and reached out one hand to cover its face where its eyes would be. "No illusions!"

"You will cooperate, then?" he pressed.

Interestingly, it made a sobbing noise. Its capability to imitate human behavior was astonishing.

"Are you writing this down, Zexion?" Vexen demanded.

Zexion summoned his laptop and propped it open in the crook of one arm, opening a file and beginning to type in shorthand.

"This is the last time I will say it, Number XIV," Vexen said harshly. "Come here and do as I command. I am running out of patience."

"...Just, don't...don't hurt Roxas..."

"As if we have the slightest interest in Roxas! Leave him be, come over here into the light and take that coat off."

As Vexen turned away to gather materials, Zexion watched the replica. It continued to sit there, holding Roxas and not making a move to obey. Finally, he moved close, knelt, and grasped the zipper of its coat.

He was startled when the replica grabbed his hands to hinder him. "Please don't."

For the first time, it occurred to him that this might be a little awkward, even without a heart. He still keenly remembered what embarrassment and shame felt like, even though he could no longer experience it directly. "You heard what Vexen said."

The replica's grip tightened on his wrists. "Please. I want to keep my coat on."

He could feel the replica's hands trembling. Then...its hood slipped back, to reveal a face.

Zexion stared.

"Zexion!" Vexen called from the other side of the room. "Is the specimen ready yet?"

"N-Not yet," Zexion managed, his mouth suddenly dry.

The replica was not supposed to have a face. The replica was supposed to be a sentient mannikin. It was not supposed to stare at him with huge, innocent, frightened blue eyes, it was not supposed to have a pink-lipped, trembling mouth, it was not supposed to have the sweet, fine features of a young girl's face...

"Princess," Zexion whispered. She looked just like the little Princess of Heart would have looked now, had she survived the death of the Garden.

'Fascinating,' his mind thought clinically. 'It makes sense. If the replica has begun to menstruate, it has obviously taken on a female identity, therefore it should not be surprising that it - that she has taken on a female appearance as well. I wonder what the significance is of choosing the princess's form. Yet the real interest lies in the fact that it- that she has somehow changed the actual physical makeup of her body, and is no longer merely altering others' visual perception of her.'

'She looks just like Lady Kairi,' the other part of his mind was gasping. 'Just like her, but she can't be the real Lady Kairi, can she? No...no, it can't be, I...I couldn't...'

"Zexion!"

Zexion snapped back to attention with a start. "P...Pardon?"

"What in the worlds is taking so long? Finish up! We have work to do."

Zexion realized that this would not be like working with a doll, even a sophisticated one. If the replica had changed its essence to perfectly imitate a Nobody, who was to say it had not transcended the 'Nobody' level and had, at least partially, assumed the characteristics of a true human bei-?

Zexion cried out as a chilly force struck his back, knocking him forward and half on top of the replica, who gasped in surprise.

"I am losing patience, Zexion. Get your head out of the clouds and back to work, we have no time to-"

Without bothering to turn around or straighten up, Zexion cast an illusion.

"Oh! My goodness, Lord Xemnas, I never expected you to grace us with your presence..."

As Vexen went on babbling at the vacant spot where he erroneously thought the Superior was standing, indicating the examination table where he apparently thought the replica had moved to, Zexion stood up and then, on an impulse, reached down to help Xion to her feet as well. There was a smear of blood on the floor. He supposed he could leave it for Vexen to analyze while he dealt with the creature on his own. "Come. Let's go to my room."

"No," Xion said stubbornly. "I'm going to Roxas's room, and the two of us are going to stay there until either Axel decides to help me or my body gets fixed." She wrapped her arms around the unconscious boy's chest and dragged him upright.

"...Your body is not damaged, you know."

Xion stared at him. The earnest, half-hopeful look on her face gave him the strangest sensation, like an echo of feeling. He wanted to help her, even though there was nothing direct to gain from doing so.

"This loss of blood is quite normal, even healthy, in human females who have reached a certain level of physical maturity."

"It's healthy?" Xion gasped. "How can it be? Bleeding means that you're hurt! And my stomach was hurting earlier."

Too much to explain right now, while she was holding the boy and Vexen was blathering on behind them. "Let's leave this room, at least. I would rather not involve Vexen at this stage."

After Xion had taken Roxas back to his bed and gained the support of a large group of concerned Samurai, she came back out into the Proof of Existence and folded her arms, waiting for an explanation.

"How much do you know of human reproduction?" Zexion asked.

"Reproduction? You mean like making copies of something?"

This was going to take a while. "All living creatures found in nature are designed to somehow produce inexact replicas of themselves in order to ensure the survival of their species..."

They had not yet made the connection between this subject and the more immediate one before Xion became restless. "I need to go to the bathroom again. I'll be back."

"There are products in existence that are designed expressly for hygienic purposes in situations like these, you know."

She stared at him. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"

"Larxene should have some."

"Larxene?" Then her jaw dropped in realization. "This happens to Larxene, too, doesn't it! She's a girl...right?"

"Both of your statements are correct."

"Then she did know what was wrong with me! And Axel...does Axel know about all this?"

"One would have to have had an unusual upbringing indeed to be unaware of the phenomenon."

"Ohhhh..."

"Come. This matter has been neglected long enough."

They both made their way to the closest restrooms, where, for the first time, Zexion hesitated. "Xion...tell me if the females' side is empty."

She went in to check, then came out again. "It is. Why?"

Because there was a small chance that Larxene might be occupying it at the moment, and she would rip him to shreds if she caught him in there. "No reason." He began to move past Xion, but she blocked his way.

"What are you doing? You can't come in here!"

"Why not?" he asked, curious.

"B...Because...because Larxene won't let you!"

"Larxene is presumably asleep."

"Well...I don't want you to come in."

"Very well. Then take care of the matter yourself." It would be interesting to see how the replica managed to handle things alone, now that she had more information.

"Um...okay."

Zexion waited in the hall for a long time. Finally, Xion came out again, looking a little sheepish. Her facial expressions were detailed, subtle, and perfect; hard to imagine that she had simply picked it up from observation or even coaching. It was as if the ability to mimic emotion was instinctive. And Zexion had still not gotten over the fact that she had a face now, rather than simply heavy shadows within a hood.

"Um...I need help."

"Am I now permitted entrance?"

"Well," she said, looking a little confused, "you can come in. Just this once. You're still not allowed to come in most of the time."

"Duly noted."

When they entered, he saw several cabinets open, and various toiletries strewn across the row of sinks. "I can't find Larxene's - whatever they are. Her blood things."

Zexion located the closest box of tampons and picked it up. "These are used to absorb the bloodflow so that it does not interfere with one's usual activities."

"Really?" Xion said excitedly. She grabbed the box and looked at it. Then she pulled out one of the items and stared at it, her glowing expression fading a little. "How do you use it?"

Zexion explained.

The girl's face seemed to drain of color. "You have to do what?"

"Take it out of the wrapper and insert-"

"No, I mean, I heard you, I just..." Her hand was shaking a little. "Larxene really does that, every single time?"

"Yes."

She was silent for so long that it finally dawned on him what the problem was. Fear. Sweet Kingdom Hearts, this replica was amazing.

"There is an alternative."

Xion dropped the box and turned her face to him. Zexion took a startled, uncomfortable step back. He had a sudden, very clear understanding of the phrase "Puppy Eyes" that Axel and some of the others used every so often.

"Erm...that is, there is another type of product-" Zexion sighed, looking away and rubbing at his temple a little in an effort to disengage. "You will have no idea how to obtain them. I can try to find a store that's still open and buy some for you, if you wish."

"Oh...please...please, yes, I would be so grateful."

"You don't have a heart," he found himself saying. "You can't be 'grateful.'"

She smiled, just a tiny bit. "You sound like Axel."

Ever since losing his heart, Zexion had never been confused. It was one of the very few advantages to being a Nobody. Now, however, his thinking was not clear and he was strangely uncomfortable, so he opened a dark corridor and stepped into it without a word.

That shopping trip went smoothly, thanks yet again to the fact that he did not have a heart to get embarrassed with. The girl on the night shift who rang up his purchase smiled knowingly and remarked, "Your mom running low on supplies?"

"...My younger sister," was all he could think to say, and was glad that Vexen and the others were not around to hear this foolishness.

"Ah. She just start?"

"Yes."

"Poor kiddo. Tell her that Jenny sends her love."

"All right," Zexion agreed for the sake of discretion, even though he saw no reason why Number XIV would care that some stranger named Jenny had offered verbal support with a ridiculous figure of speech.

When he returned home, the bathroom had been cleaned up and Xion was sitting forlornly on the edge of a bathtub. She looked up hopefully at his entrance. "Did you get them?"

"Here." He handed her the box, which she inspected eagerly. "These are meant for external use."

"I won't have to put them inside?"

"No."

"Oh, good. They're so big."

He explained how to use them, then watched as she opened the box and took out one of the packages. There was a pause. She looked up at him. "Can you please go out into the hall again?"

"What?"

"I don't want you watching."

Well, it made sense when he thought about it. Wondering at his own complaisance, Zexion went out and waited until the replica finally emerged.

She seemed to be walking gingerly, with an expression that was both apprehensive and hopeful. "I think...it's working."

"I see no reason why it shouldn't."

"Like...I can still feel it...but...it's not getting all over me."

"Yes. That is the point."

"How long will I have to wear this?"

"Roughly seven days. You should not, however, wear the same one throughout the entire duration," he added as this possible gap in her knowledge occurred to him, "you need to change it periodically."

"Oh. I see, that makes sense." She squirmed a little. "I need to change my clothes, but..."

"Yes, what is it?"

"Um...I'm afraid to go back to my room. Could you...maybe...?"

Zexion returned to the laboratory, made sure the illusions were still going strong, fetched a spare outfit for the girl, then returned to deliver it to her. Once she had cleaned up, the two of them settled in his room with mugs of hot chocolate (her idea), where they took turns interrogating each other, he taking notes and she leaning forward eagerly as if to better catch everything he said.

"Just so that we are clear, this is the first time you have experienced this phenomenon, is that correct?"

"So Somebodies have to do this just like us?"

"Describe to me the abdominal pains you said you were feeling earlier."

"Do boys ever bleed like that, too? Because Axel says that Saïx has a 'time of the month,' and I think I finally get it now."

"So the Elixir eliminated all the physical pain but did not affect the flow of blood, is that correct?"

"Does it hurt when you use the stick things instead of the pad things?"

After an hour or two, Zexion mused thoughtfully, "By the way, we had better agree on what we are going to tell Numbers IV, VIII, and XIII tomorrow when they undoubtedly ask about tonight's collaboration..."

o.o.o

Author's Notes: I'm pretty sure I messed up on some things about Kairi, and about Zexion's relation to her. I'll see if I can fiddle with it when Dream Drop Distance comes out and possibly sheds some illumination on that.

Soooo, there's a line in Christmas at the Castle (lol, everything comes from CatC) that implies that Xion had a little trouble with her, uh, Monthly Fun Time at first, and that Larxene refused to help, referring her to Vexen instead. While musing about how awful that would be to have to talk to Vexen about Girl Matters, this evil little plot bunny came along and bit me, and I decided I actually had to go and write it out.

This isn't wholly a humor and/or fluffy fic, though I tried to keep it light. And I know it's horribly, horribly awkward and maybe a little sad in some parts...I'm kind of amazed at myself for daring to post it. It's just that I love "What if?" scenarios, and I did randomly want to try my best to depict a situation like this as realistically as I could, especially considering that there's no friggin' way anything like this will happen in canon.

Basically, I'm trying to articulate my reasons for writing this, and not coming up with much. If anything, I wrote this For Science, just to see what would happen. *sweatdrop*

Erm...Larxene's sleeptalk. No comment. Give it any rating you like, according to your preferred interpretation. DX

This is the first time I got to write from Zexion's POV. It was cool.