I do not own Kingdom Hearts.

This story is part three in the Broken series (even though it was the first one written). It's not necessary to read the other two stories, but events from those stories will be periodically mentioned in this one.

I hope you all enjoy.

Axel was the first to notice something was off. The eighth member only half listened while Xemnas rambled on about collecting hearts. Every few minutes Saix added to the Superior's monologue, earning him a smile of approval from the Organization's leader.

Axel rolled his eyes at Saix's behavior. Those emerald eyes fixed themselves on the third youngest member.

He watched the Melodious Nocturne, more commonly known in the Organization as Number Nine, but to the few who gave him an ounce of respect, he was Demyx. The blue-eyed blond sat with one leg over the other knee. He twirled his finger along the cloak fabric resting on his knee. One elbow was situated on the armrest, the hand of said arm supporting his tilted face. To any who cared to pass a glance in his direction, he appeared to be actually listening with that ever-present smile.

Axel glanced around to the face of each member before returning his gaze to Demyx. It seemed that he was the only one who could tell that the grin was false.

Xemnas finished his speech with an encouraging thought that caused the other members to nod in agreement, some of which were only half aware to what they were consenting to. The superior vanished in a portal, concluding the meeting.

In no time the others teleported to either other parts of the castle, or to other worlds to begin new missions. Within seconds Axel found himself alone in the meeting room with Roxas and Demyx. The two former had not been assigned any quests at the moment. From the Nocturne's relaxed manner, Axel figured he too was spared from work for the day.

Demyx stood and with a soft chuckle disappeared in a cloud of black.

Axel sighed to himself. He glanced over at Roxas who stretched his arms and gave a yawn, glad to be through with the meeting. Over the past hour Axel watched nervously as the youngest member nearly dozed off. Only once had someone made the mistake of falling asleep during the Superior's speech, needless to say he no longer existed. It was an unspoken rule that no one in the Organization ever mentioned that one unlucky member, but perhaps for Roxas' safety Axel should break that one.

"Hey, Axel," Roxas said staring up at the man who's chair towered above his. "Since neither of us have to anywhere to be can we get ice cream?"

Axel laughed. "That's all you can think of, little buddy?"

Roxas frowned. Had Axel been on the same plane as him no doubt he would have nudged him or given him a noogie, or something equally annoying. Sure Axel stated that it was his brotherly duty to tease him occasionally, but that did not make the acts less irritating.

"I guess you deserve a reward for not nodding off," Axel said with a wink. His smile shrunk as his mind switched back to the friend who occupied his thoughts for most of the meeting. "But I think I'm gonna ask Demyx if he'd like to join us."

Roxas perked up. "Yeah," he said with a small smile. "The three of us hardly get a day off together."

The youngest member's words reminded Axel of the amount of missions Demyx had been assigned over the past two weeks, half of which had been voluntary. It coincided with the moment the Nocturne had stopped suggesting they hang out after hours.

Axel shrugged off the thoughts then replied with, "Well let's hurry before he decides to serenade a few irate colleagues."

His words were met with laughter.

The pyrokinetic felt for Demyx's presence before teleporting to the appropriate hallway. Roxas dashed to his room to retrieve the necessary munny for three customers.

The Melodious Nocturne strolled down the west corridor on the second floor. He twirled a string of water about his fingers while he wore that trademark smile.

Several months ago Demyx began experimenting with his element much to his benefit. Xigbar was the only one allowed to see his new techniques in order to give significant feedback.

It was only a little over a week ago that Demyx began practicing a new move that he felt was not skilled enough for him to show just yet. It was a thought that recently hit him one morning when he found sleep difficult. In his mind he went over all the possible variables. The experiments were showing progress, but at a slow pace. He vowed that when he finally mastered the new ability, he would allow everyone to witness it, one that would astonish them all.

For the first time that day Demyx's lips pulled into an authentic grin.

The Nocturne was pulled from his thoughts when his sensitive ears picked up a familiar voice calling his name.

"Demyx!" Axel called.

The blond turned to see the redhead waving as he slowly approached. Demyx put his plans on hold to allow himself to converse with one of the few who showed him kindness on a daily basis.

"Hey, Dem," Axel said as he stopped several feet before Demyx. Again he noticed that the Nocturne was not wearing his usual goofy smile. Running a hand through his hair, he began conversation, "Pretty boring meeting, huh?"

Demyx chuckled; it was not the carefree laughter Axel was used to, but a more concise, almost dark chortle.

"Yes, the Superior can be long-winded," Demyx said with a toss of his head. Those blue eyes that once housed such life, at least as much as a nobody could portray, now stared back in a duller fashion.

Axel waited for Demyx to give his usual impersonation: repeating some of the speech in a dramatic tone complete with hand movements, which frequently caused the two to break into hysterical laughter. Often Roxas would walk by at that moment and shake his head, refusing to give into his curiosity.

After a few moments of silence Axel figured no mockery at their boss' expense was on its way.

"Well, Roxas and I are heading out to Twilight Town for ice cream, you wanna come?" Axel asked.

Demyx shook his head. "No thanks. I have some training to do."

Axel lifted a brow. "Dem, you're always ready for an excuse to skip out on that."

Demyx shrugged then replied, "I have a new technique I've been practicing." He stared into the palm of his glove. That same eerie smile crept over his face as he watched the fabric, almost as if he were in a trance. Axel squirmed just looking at him. "I've almost perfected it."

"Come on," Axel said, trying to hide his slight discomfort. He waited until Demyx's eyes were on him. "It's been almost a month since the three of us got to do something together."

"I'm sure you and Roxas will be fine without me," the blond retorted.

The tone in the Nocturne's voice betrayed him with a hint of bitterness. A pang of guilt hit Axel at the realization of how he had neglected Demyx when he had been assigned as Roxas' mentor.

"We'd like it if you joined us," Axel replied. A few beats later he added, "It was Roxas' idea."

Demyx smiled, one that nearly fooled the redhead. "That's kind of him, but I must decline." His smile faltered. "Maybe next time," he added before turning away.

Axel watched the ninth member disappear out of view. He sighed then teleported to where he knew Roxas waited.

"Axel," Roxas said breaking the mentioned out of his trance.

The redhead glanced over at the younger male sitting beside him on the clock tower. His green eyes then focused themselves on the popsicle dripping at a steady pace.

"Were you even listening?" Roxas asked.

"Sorry, little buddy, I zoned out," Axel said with an awkward laugh.

Roxas grunted, but knew the pyrokinetic well enough to understand it was his way of apologizing. Axel brought the ice cream to his lips and held it still while the blue liquid streamed down his glove.

"Something's bothering you, what is it?" Roxas asked.

"Don't worry about it, kid," Axel said nudging Roxas on the arm.

"I told you to stop calling me that," Roxas said, making no effort to hide the annoyance in his voice. "And you're too distracted to have a conversation right now, so you might as well tell me."

Axel sighed. "Fine." He leaned back and abandoned the melting ice cream stick on the cement beside him. "It's Demyx. He hasn't been himself lately."

"Is he sick?" Roxas asked before licking the side of the popsicle.

Axel shook his head. "No, he's just…absent." Axel pursed his lips while recalling the last few exchanges with the Nocturne, each one resulting in just a few sentences from the usually talkative younger. "I can't explain, but he's just acting...strange." He looked up at Roxas who showed little interest in the current conversation. "You haven't noticed."

Roxas shook his head then replied, "He's always strange." That remark made Axel slightly smile. Roxas stared up at the passing clouds. "I really haven't spent a lot of time with him lately."

Now that Axel mentioned, it hit him that Demyx had not randomly shown up at his door in a futile attempt to cheer him up, or share some silly joke or gossip. Roxas suddenly felt bad for being a horrible excuse of a friend friend towards one of the few Organization members who warmly accepted him instead of treating him like an incompetent child.

"He's just not himself," said Axel.

"Maybe Xemnas had enough of his laziness and did something about it," Roxas answered while not tearing his attention away from the sweet treat in his hand.

The pyrokinetic decided to drop the subject. It seemed none of the other members caught onto the change of behavior, or they honestly didn't care.

Axel let the thought pass and replied with, "Yeah, you're probably right, kid." He grinned, awaiting the smaller Nobody's reaction.

Roxas scowled and tossed the half-eaten ice cream bar at Axel's face. Axel grabbed the flying object before it collided with his body then held it above Roxas' reach. Roxas grunted as he tried to grasp the object that satisfied his addiction. With a smirk Axel lowered the ice cream, only to raise it above Roxas' head when he went to reach for it.

Roxas attempted to tackle Axel. The latter yelped in both surprise and pain, causing him to drop both ice cream bars. Roxas glared while Axel laughed.

"Serves you right," the redhead said in between laughs.

Roxas merely rolled his eyes while lamenting his lost frozen treat.

Demyx inhaled sharply while sweat dripped from his chin. With a flick of his hand over his beloved instrument, all the weaker heartless had been reduced to dust when a wave rushed over them. The stronger one struggled in the the flooded area. Demyx jumped and landed in front of the creature, his hand around its neck. With a smirk he stared into its pleading yellow eyes.

"It's useless," Demyx said with a cackle. "You can't expect mercy from us. We don't have hearts." He placed his free hand upon his chest where that supposed organ was supposed to rest. In a whisper he repeated, "We don't have hearts."

Even so he made the final move a quick one.

Demyx glanced up at the person running the program and indicated for him to end it. The room returned to its normal settings as Demyx absorbed the water back through his skin, washing away the sweat. The now salty beads of water evaporated into the air leaving the water-wielder refreshed, with a crooked smile on his face.

Demyx only regretted that the captured heartless used for their practice lacked what was necessary to test out his new technique. He had used himself as a test subject in his room the past week, but he found himself longing for another, one he could watch from the outside.

Number IX walked through the doors without saying a word to the other nobody who watched him with a look of concern. Xigbar wondered if perhaps he should mention that interaction to the Superior. With a chuckle he tossed away the absurd notion. If Demyx was finally displaying seriousness towards his job for the first time since his arrival in the Organization, then who was he to question progress.

As he walked through the corridor Demyx hummed a lazy tune he created on the spot. He said silently to himself, "We don't have hearts."