Hi! Here's chapter 3. It's fairly long, so consider it like a bonus chapter. It's like 2 separate ones, but more satisfying...we hope.
Disclaimer: As always, we are pathetic teenagers with unhealthy obsessions with fictional characters. Do you seriously still think we have the ability to own it?
Kingdom Hearts on a hot dog bun, don't sue us, got it memorized? (Thanks for the phrase Xanrivash...)
Axel rushed down the hallways of the castle, racing himself to get to Vexen's room as quickly as humanly possible. He slammed through the door to the lab adjoining without knocking, stopping short when he crashed into a metal lab table with test tubes balanced precariously on its edge.
The inevitable resounding crash got the Chilly Academic to come investigate, at least.
"Eight, what is the meaning of this? Has something changed in Thirteen's status? If not, I can hardly see what merits destroying my experiments."
"He's up! Roxas woke up! He's going to be okay now, right?" Axel asked excitedly, not noticing the grave look on Vexen's face.
"I shall come examine him and see. In theory he shall recover without a hitch, but Six and I have not completed our analysis of the-"
"Less talking, more examining!" With that, Axel raced back in the other direction, leaving almost as loudly as he had come.
Vexen looked over at Zexion, who was still in the back corner minding their current research. "Look into it," was all he said before following Axel hurriedly to the Infirmary.
Axel skidded to a stop by Roxas's bed. He panted, slightly out of breath from his run and all the adrenaline he'd circulated in the last hour or so.
Roxas stirred. "Ax...'sat you? 'M tired..."
"It's alright, go ahead and sleep. Vexen's coming to check on you now. Maybe we can get you out of here tomorrow if you check out all right!"
Vexen finally entered the room, looking less than pleased to be there, although certainly not tired in any way. "Thirteen, it is good to see you awake. This bodes well for your eventual full recovery. How are you feeling? Any symptoms to report?"
Roxas shook his head and looked to Axel for help. Axel couldn't help but notice that, once again, Roxas's eyes appeared to glow with a greenish tint to them that Axel didn't recall ever seeing before the aborted mission. "Hey Vexen, do his eyes look greenish or yellowish to you? Usually they're more blue..." he said, examining his friend closely.
Vexen sighed. "Eight, unlike you, I have a life that involves something besides staring into Thirteen's eyes all day long. If there are any other useful symptoms you can report, please do share. If not, I do not wish to hear about the lovely color of Thirteen's eyes."
Roxas glared at Axel coldly. "Yeah, Ax. Unless you have something constructive to say, let me get back to my freaking sleep! Or would you rather stare at my eyes all night?" he asked in a huff.
Axel rolled his eyes. "Go back to bed, Rox. You obviously need the sleep."
"Don't order me around!"
"I'm your superior, I can do whatever I want."
"Well go screw yourself or something. I wanna sleep."
"That's what I told you to do!"
"Don't tell me what to do!"
Vexen watched the exchange with mild disinterest. If the two wanted to bicker, he need not waste his time paying attention. He quickly checked several things, including Roxas's bandages and vital signs, before stalking out of the room unnoticed. His task completed, he went back to the one at hand in his lab.
"Demyx, I am telling you, there's something different about him!" Axel insisted to the stubborn musician. "I swear, when I hugged him, he got this look in his eyes like I was fresh meat or something! That wasn't the Roxas I know!"
"Axel, chill. He's just had a traumatic experience and he's still disoriented from all the injuries and confusion. Can you blame him for overreacting a little?"
"A little? Demyx, he called me a bastard and told me in not as many words that he thinks I'm an idiot!"
"Yes, and? That only serves to prove that his head is on completely straight. What's the problem there?"
"Dem, you're not helping the situation any here."
"Well you did hug him Ax. And in case you forgot, he did get cut up pretty badly on his chest-"
"Like I could forget! I found him Demyx! I couldn't forget that even if I tried!" Axle interrupted.
Demyx looked at him sympathetically. "I know Axel," he said solemnly. "But he's fine now. You found him, and he's gonna make a full recovery because of it. My point was, that probably hurt. A lot. He has the right to snap at you after that."
"But you didn't see him! Demyx, I am telling you, there was something off with him. His eyes flashed and it wasn't just like he was mad. It was like something was possessing him, or he was becoming a different person!"
Demyx stared at him critically. "Axel, are you sure you're not just afraid of him moving on? I mean, this was as close to a near-death experience as he's ever had. People always say that after something like that, they change. They realize that life is short and they can't waste a moment of it. I think you're afraid that Roxas will realize that and find new friends and seize the moment. But if you really want him to be happy and that does end up happening, Kingdom Hearts forbid, you need to support him and let him go."
Axel sighed. "I guess...maybe-maybe you're right. I'm just so afraid of losing him now! I thought for sure we had when I walked through that open portal and saw him there. He, he was almost starting to...to fade," he gulped. "And all that blood...the claws...I was sure for a moment it was too late and he would die like that, torn to ribbons by heartless."
Demyx gave a wry grin. "Axel, Roxas can handle himself with heartless. If he was gonna go out like that, it would have been a hell of a battle, trust me. So either he got completely mobbed, or those were some freaking kick-ass heartless." He paused. "Or we're entirely off-track and a werewolf or something bit him. Either or. Which one is more ridiculous?"
Axel laughed weakly. "Yeah, you're right. Halloweentown on Halloween must be teeming with heartless. He probably didn't see them until it was too late because of the darkness in the forest. He was just in the wrong place at the right time, huh?"
Demyx shook his head. "Ax, I'm pretty sure the expression is 'wrong place at the wrong time,' not the right time." Axel grinned cheekily.
"Well that's how I say it. So there. Got it memorized?"
Zexion put the heavy book back down on the desk in front of Vexen with a thud. The elder Nobody jerked awake at the sound, jumping slightly out of his chair. "Wake up," the former commanded. "I believe I have come across data which can aid us in formulating an entirely new hypothesis – one which requires immediate action and research if proven to be valid."
Vexen looked at the open page before him. The title of the article caught his eye. "Werewolves? Six, are you aware of the repercussions there could be if we go to the Superior with information this serious with only a hypothesis?"
Zexion nodded. "I've petitioned Two for an off-the-record venture to the site of the attack. I assume that if my hypothesis holds, DNA may be found to match that which we discovered in Thirteen's wounds. We can then go to the Superior with our findings. The process can no longer be reversed after his first full transformation, so we must act quickly. Until such a time as we can definitively say that this is or is not the case, we shall keep our findings confidential."
The Chilly Academic nodded slowly. "That course of action sounds suitable. I will go to Two in the morning and present Thirteen's medical records as an incentive to approve the mission for medical purposes."
Zexion nodded, but looked thoughtful. "One other problem may present itself. It is probable that acquiring DNA that can be confirmed as from a werewolf will not be possible until the next full moon. In the meantime, it would be wise to concoct an antidote for the infectious DNA. If Thirteen does indeed turn out to be infected with lycanthrope DNA, it is imperative to have the antidote ready and perfected by the time Thirteen will have initiated the transformation."
Vexen nodded. "Agreed. I shall begin research on the probable antidote in the morning. For now I should like to continue research on the nature of werewolves to further determine if this tangent will be beneficial."
Zexion nodded and left without a sound. Vexen pulled out the records in question and dragged the open book closer to him. He compared the texts, noticing with vague apprehension that Axel had reported Roxas's eyes flashing yellow or green and glowing in dim light. The dusty tome Zexion had provided said that a werewolf could be recognized by its glowing yellow eyes. Roxas had snapped at Axel several times, including at least once when Vexen was present. Werewolves were known to be more aggressive than regular humans, even when not transformed. He also would bear the scars of claw marks Vexen now was convinced were those of a wolf, not a heartless.
Vexen sighed in as close to exasperation as he could get. They should have found it sooner. How could he have let an entire week pass since bandaging the bites on Roxas's neck and not thought of the possibility of a werewolf, or even just a regular wolf? Beating himself up for a moment, Vexen huffed and went back to his book to compare Roxas and the form he might become.
"Rox? Hey, how're you feeling?" Axel asked hesitantly as he poked his head into the Infirmary. Roxas glanced over at him tiredly, deep purple bags under his eyes setting off their slightly green coloring to an alarming degree.
"Hey Ax," he rasped through his still-sore throat. "I'm alright...pretty tired. By the way...I never thanked you," he whispered. "You saved my life, buddy. I owe you one..."
Axel grinned weakly. "No problem, bro. I can only hope you'd do the same for me if it ever comes down to it."
Roxas smirked slightly. "I dunno," he replied. "Would I?"
His tone was joking, but his face was deadly serious beside the smirk. Axel felt his blood run cold. Was Demyx right? Was Roxas going to change and leave them? Would Roxas still even care enough to save their lives? To spare their lives?
Axel cleared his throat nervously. The Key of Destiny's face softened and his eyes darkened slightly. "Vexen says you can get out in about a week," Axel began. "We have to keep an eye on you still, obviously, and he has to check you over every day or two, but you'll temporarily be in the clear..."
Roxas smiled ever so slightly and his face lit up. "Thanks, Ax. Man, I can't wait to get out. It's so boring in here!" Axel laughed at Roxas's eagerness.
"I know, buddy. Just hang in there. You'll be out of here in no time."
Demyx walked at a leisurely pace down the stark white corridors. Every week or so, Naminé got to go out and do something accompanied by one or two members. They usually just went in rank order to keep it fair. Demyx was on duty today, so he was on his way to go fetch her and take her to Twilight Town.
He didn't know why, but for some odd reason, she only ever asked to go there with him and Axel. She changed up the destinations with everyone else, hardly ever repeating a visit to anywhere. Yet she and Roxas both exhibited this strange attraction to Twilight Town. Whenever either was allowed to go out and do as they pleased, they could generally be found holed up on the clock tower with a sea salt ice cream in hand.
It was strange, though, that she never asked to go to Twilight Town with Roxas, he mused as he finally made it to her door. He'd have to ask her about that after he got her that dessert...
He knocked gently on the door, knowing that he had to be polite even if the girl made it a point to be waiting and ready just behind the door. "Hey Nam!" he called. "It's Demyx! You ready to go?"
As expected, the door swung open at an alarming speed, causing Demyx to jump back a bit or risk having his face bashed in by a large plank of wood. He cautiously took a step inside, looking around to see Naminé collecting her pencils and crayons and putting them back in order on the small shelving unit next to her door. Her head was down and her platinum blond locks covered her face. Demyx assumed by the shaking he could see in her hands and the hasty opening of the door that she was excited.
"Hey, all set? Let's go get some ice cream!" he prompted, wondering to himself why the memory witch had yet to greet him. She nodded stiffly and got up, still refusing to meet his eyes. His face melted in a look of concern, but Naminé took no notice, silently heading to the door.
"Are you sure you're feeling okay? You're being really quiet, even for you," Demyx said gently as they were leaving for the castle.
"I'm okay…" she murmured while gazing anywhere but his face.
"Positive? 'Cause you're worrying me. Are you sick or something? I can take you to Vexen and have him check you out…"
She was only half-listening. A small stand near where they lingered by the clock tower caught her eye.
"I'll only be a minute," Naminé whispered to a still-concerned Demyx. His brow crinkled in concern, but he nodded. She darted off to the small ice-cream stand advertising the blue treat she was seeking. "One please. Keep the change," she muttered, putting the appropriate munny on the counter.
The vendor handed her one popsicle and swept the munny into the cash register below his counter. She whispered her thanks, then ambled back to the waiting Melodious Nocturne.
She still had yet to meet his gaze, which only confirmed Demyx's suspicions that something was not quite right with the girl. Though she was usually rather reserved, this level of shyness and being removed from conversation was beyond her normal state. Especially when they were on one of these outings, he reasoned. She was actually fairly open with him, and Axel and Roxas. Her silence was disquieting.
"I'm ready. Let's go back. And I think I will stop at the Infirmary…I want to give this to Roxas, even if I'm not sick. I just wanna stop at my room and grab some colored pencils and paper. I think I can get some nice light in there for sketching…"
Demyx smiled a bit. "Alright. Ladies first," he replied, opening a portal for her to enter. She nodded courteously and entered the portal quickly. Demyx followed at a slower, more relaxed pace. He entered her room as she was rushing out her door, pads of paper, pencils, and the ice cream in her hands.
He hurried after her, turning a corner just as Naminé reached the top of the staircase. He kept walking, not noticing her difficulty with the many things in her arms.
It was as if everything stopped. Life felt as if it was moving in slow motion. He watched as Naminé suddenly pitched forward, trying to catch a box of pencils she dropped. A silent scream escaped her lips as her hand grasped empty air and her top tumbled over itself. He saw her tumble sluggishly down the stairs, coming to a sudden stop at one of the many landings.
He was frozen in shock. As his out-of-body experience ended, he forced his feet to tear their roots from the ground and rushed down to her side. "Naminé!" he yelped, going to feel for a pulse before realizing how stupid he was being. He picked her up gingerly, trying not to jostle her body too much. He raced off towards the Infirmary, chanting to himself the whole time. Please don't let it be too late…