I've got to finish this. At least I've got to get as much done as possible before I have to stop, but...shit, if I stop, that could ruin it. I've got to finish this.

Demyx tapped his pencil against his cheek, reading over the last page of his work in progress one more time before closing his eyes and playing it over in his head, trying to find the flow. It had seemed so brilliant, it had sounded so brilliant, when it first popped into his mind, but being beautiful in his mind wasn't enough; it had to get down on paper somehow, and then, if he was lucky, played and recorded, because what was the point if he couldn't find a way to let it out? Music was made to be shared, and enjoyed, because thinking up a beautiful piece and never letting it out of your head was...it was worse than painting a beautiful picture and keeping it in a dark closet somewhere, it was like having the inspiration for it but then never painting it. It was like thinking up a delicious recipe and never making it. It was like a woman trying for years to get pregnant and then having an abortion. What was the point of conceiving it to begin with if you were never going to allow it to be?

Why did thinking about abortion, even in the abstract, always throw him so badly? After all, it wasn't like his mother had actually had one. At least, not in his case. But then, since she obviously hadn't wanted to raise a child and be a mother, it would have been so logical and so easy...

Get back to work, stupid. Mope about being an unwanted bastard some other time when you have nothing better to do.

Well, now he'd ruined his own vibe. He had to go back and read the entire thing over again, in order to get back in the groove. Fortunately, he hadn't written all that much yet, and using Western notation just made everything take more space. Where had he been going with this? He knew it had been somewhere grand, somewhere magnificent, but whenever he tried to recall what he'd heard in his mind earlier, it just...seemed to fall flat, for whatever reason...Gods damn it, now that he was in a position to write, where the fuck did the music go?


Demyx jerked, almost falling over, and came very close to whipping around and decking whoever it was who'd startled him. "Axel, I locked the door for a reason," he snapped, instead of lashing out physically. "Portal or no damn portal, a locked door should convey a pretty clear message of 'leave me alone'."

"Can't do that. The Hall is public space. If you want guaranteed privacy, you should stay in your room."

"Hah. Nothing is going to guarantee my privacy while you're around. Besides, the Hall has better acoustics." Determined to ignore the crap out of Axel whatever it took, Demyx gathered up his papers and gave them each another read-through, perfectly prepared to turn his hearing aids off if Axel refused to shut up. The papers themselves would serve as blinders if Axel tried signing instead.

And then something in a Subway wrapper was waved between his eyes and the papers.

"It's got avocado on it," Axel was saying in a singsong voice, waving that very annoying and simultaneously very tempting sandwich in front of him. "Tomato. Green peppers. Black olives. Jalapeno. That chipotle dressing you like so much. And you want it. I know you do. You want it..."

"Axel, you are about to piss me right the hell off," Demyx said, shoving the sandwich out of his face. It only lasted a moment before it was shoved in front of his eyes again. "Axel..."

"I don't care if I piss you off as long as I get you to eat," Axel countered in the same singsong voice. "Come on, Demyx. You're not allowed to seclude yourself and spend five days not eating or sleeping because you're too busy composing. Again."

"Axel, you have no idea how much you're pissing me off, do you?"

"Don't know, don't care. All I care about is that you eat and sleep and don't destroy your health again."

"Axel...fine. If I eat it, will you leave me alone?"

"Until bedtime." Axel reached over with his other hand and covered Demyx's eyes, and kept covering them even when Demyx jerked and tried to get away. "So tell me, Demyx, without looking, can you tell me what time it is?"

"Gods damn it, Axel, leave me alone!" Demyx snapped, scattering the papers he was working on as he tried to shove Axel's hand away. "Now look what you did! I'm going to have to sort those all out now before I have a hope of getting started again..."

"Awesome. You can take a break and eat now, and when you're done eating, you can go back to what you were writing."

Demyx glared venomously at the palm of Axel's hand for a moment, seriously considering standing up, grabbing a chair, and beating the snot out of him with it, until his stomach suddenly growled, loudly, and he was forced to admit that he had no clue whatsoever what time it was. "...All right, give me the sandwich," he sighed in defeat, pushing a couple sheets of paper out of the way. "Jerk."

"Look, I don't give a fuck what you call me, as long as you wise up and eat, got it memorized?"

Demyx could hear the heat in Axel's voice, and looked up to find the redhead glaring angrily at him. "What the hell, man," he started, then paused, suddenly aware that he hadn't exactly been perfectly polite and friendly all along. Axel was just trying to be nice and make sure he didn't hurt himself, which was a consideration because and only because the last time Demyx had skipped two meals in favor of composing in the Hall, he'd stayed in there for five days with no food or sleep and ended up all but bedridden for two and a half weeks afterward. Now, all of a sudden, he felt too ashamed of himself to want to eat, except if he didn't, Axel would get on him even worse...and now he'd completely lost all inspiration to work on his composition, and that meant it was most likely ruined, and now what? Slowly and reluctantly, he unwrapped the sandwich and started to eat it, with tears in his eyes, wishing he had a way to blame everything on Axel, but as usual, unable to blame anyone but himself.

"Demyx..." Gods above, what did Axel want now. "Come on, man, what's wrong now? Must be a pretty awful sandwich to make you cry as soon as you eat it..."

"It's vegetarian, Ax; it'd sure as hell make you cry as soon as you ate it," Demyx grunted, using the sandwich in question as a shield he could use to hide what he was really thinking and feeling.

"Demyx, you're not answering my question..." And all of a sudden, Axel was sitting next to him, with an arm around his shoulders. "Come on, man; you know I worry about you, right? I worry about you a lot. I feel like I see you hurt or sick or upset more often than I see you happy and healthy. So I just want to do what I can to keep you happy and healthy."

...What was Demyx going to say to that? He did know that Axel spent a lot of time worrying about him; he did know that he gave him a lot of reasons to worry. It was just that... "I'm sorry, Ax," he murmured, setting aside what was left of the sandwich to rub at his eyes. "It's just...I know. I know I'm weak and sickly and depressed all the time, more so than anyone else in the Organization, and...I don't know how to change that. I wish I could. I hate the way I am. But...I don't know how."

"Demyx, did I ask you to change? No." Okay. That actually jarred him a little ways out of his dark hole of self-pity, which, given how much time Demyx spent in said hole, was a pretty big deal. "I like you perfectly well the way you already are. Even weak and sickly and depressed, because if you lost the bad, who knows how much of the good might go with it? You know, I read an article once that said almost ninety percent of people in creative career fields had some form of mental illness. Maybe if you were perfectly stable, you wouldn't be able to do this." In one swift motion, Axel managed to scoop up all the scattered sheets of music and hand them over to Demyx. "You're a genius. But genius implies a certain degree of madness. It just comes with the territory. And at least you're not dismembering corpses and trying to reanimate them through the wonders of science. So while you keep doing what you do, I just sit back and admire it, and try to keep you from self-destructing."

...Crap. Now Demyx felt like he was going to choke. It didn't seem right; Axel shouldn't have to hover around and take care of him all the time because he was incapable of taking care of himself. But...dammit, he already knew he wasn't capable of taking care of himself in times like these from experience. What was he supposed to do, set a timer to remind him when to eat and sleep? If he was in the zone, he'd ignore it. And then he'd go without food and sleep until he started hallucinating and his immune system turned on him. The only other options were to simply stop doing this, or at least self-regulate all the spontaneity out of it, which either wouldn't work because he couldn't stand it or would drive him even further off the deep end...or get someone else's help. "...I appreciate it, Ax," he said, swallowing tears so he'd be able to talk. "I may be an asshole about it, but I do appreciate it." Because if madness is the price of creativity, Gods grant me madness. I would rather cut my own arms off than lose this. And thank the Gods I have someone on my side.

"You're welcome," Axel said, slapping him on the shoulder before pulling himself back to his feet. "Now eat the rest of your sandwich. I'll go get your sleeping bag or something, because I know there will be no moving you out of this room until you're done with whatever you're working on."


"If you don't sleep in here, you won't sleep at all, and I'd rather you didn't not sleep at all, got it memorized?"

"Hey - I don't - it's not - I -" But Axel was already gone, leaving Demyx protesting at the air. Besides, it did kind of make sense; even if he couldn't tear himself away long enough for a full night's sleep, he could at least have a softer spot to lie down when he hit a rough patch, or even take a nice, refreshing nap to clear his mind when he got stuck. That could come later, though; he was just now remembering where he'd wanted to go with this, it was sounding as beautiful in his mind as it was meant to be, and he just had to find that last sheet and get writing again...

AN: At least one of them learned a lesson from "Strange Mad Ecstasy". And Demyx won't be allowed to do that again.