A/N: Woot! This took forever to finish! I literally have been working on this for some time. I've been plagued by writer's block, had to rewrite lots due to my failsome computer, been busy doing other things in general, but finally it's posted! The idea actually came to me whilst talking to The Great Naxa via MSN . . . needless to say, I had to dedicate it to her. It starts off in a rather serious note, then the inner fluffy gal in me couldn't keep out of the writing process so it's kind of sappy and cheesy towards the end. Also forgive me for the lateness in updating, but I promise my next one won't take as long in coming~!

And thank you everyone who has ever read and reviewed, it's much appreciated. I love getting input on what I write. :D

Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts is not mine.


» (Gladiolus : Strength)

The battle was endless, the phantasmagoric monsters spawned in multitude until the rocky pathway was completely eclipsed by the varying forms of pulsing, writhing inky shadows and bulbous amber eyes. Donald harrumphed in aggravation. Tightening his grasp on his Mage's Staff before raising it aloft, he issued forth a garbled bellow — white-yellow bolts of lightning thereafter projected from the celestial heavens and hurtled down onto earth; bending every which way to dematerialize a menagerie of Heartless in flashes of obsidian. Yet, they continued to proliferate in burgeoning swells by the second, the sight further enraging the white-feathered duck. The darkness worked like a liquid; no breath was deep enough to bring in a sufficient amount of air while his heart murmured and his lungs clogged with thick, black oxygen. His eyelids constantly fluttered, dropping shut then forcing open again and again through utter exhaustion. How he despised the Heartless! Slowly but surely his magic power was being used up on destroying the little buggers . . .

"Golly, don't wear yourself out!" warned Goofy, concern and slight compassion lining his voice.

"Do you think I'm stupid?" Donald snapped in his barely comprehensible speech. It admittedly didn't take a lot to tick him off, and so he hastily lifted his staff once more; calling upon jagged moony yellow flashes from the high blue in his fury — he could care less about being scolded again. He stopped, trying not to look like he was nearly wheezing from fatigue: "Don't just stand there, com'on!" To which the kindly dog-faced knight merely replied with a dopey grin. Though, an anxious glint was still apparent in his vision. Equipped with his trusty shield, all plated with gleaming gold and silver, he eyed the court magician apprehensively one last time. And then he turned away to charge head-on through a tangled mass of dark shapes and sharp claws.

Not too far off, Donald saw Sora gripping his key-shaped weapon as he dexterously swung it at three Heartless tottering next to each other, a shock of chestnut brown hair drifting around his face. It took just that one hit to destroy them, and in three puffs of dark smoke they disappeared. His salty-sweet ocean irises held a light all their own all the while — not at all fluorescent but just natural light. The hyperactive brunette could easily hold his own in battle, but it didn't stop him from lingering nearby; just in case.

Leon was next to Yuffie, his gunblade turning his fingers pallid as he wielded it with a solid grip. The black-haired girl meanwhile pivoted and gyrated her way through Shadows, munny and bottled Hi-Potions tinkling in her lumpy bag that was tied unto her shorts. Her honey-frosted eyes sparkled with childish mischief as she weaved patterned cuts and slivers with her trademark shuriken. When she wandered too far near a group of flying creatures known as Air Soldiers, Leon would come with a battle cry tearing at his throat and he'd literally dive into the fray.

Tifa had strayed far from the group, her curved backside pressed against the rocky wall. Kicking off with incredible momentum, her grayscale sneakers pounded against the miniature rocks as she ran at a grotesquely rotund Large Body. She slammed her fist into its tough hide; no sound came from her as she jumped away and it faded into pitch-black wisps of smoke. Her cherry-red orbs glinted with fierceness when she straightened her posture. The usual confident smirk played at her lips.

It was safe and clear to say that the members of the Restoration Committee were a force to be reckoned with.

Well, minus one. A flash of braided chestnut hair and spring green eyes spun through his mind, and he thought that it was for the best. She had probably stayed behind, safe, like a touch stone, a haven of warmth, patiently waiting for her teammates to come home. She was too sweet and peaceful for her own good — and truly, Donald didn't think she was suited for anything other than the role of healer. That was her job. That was her duty.

And being present on a battleground did not fit into that description . . .


The words warning of impending violence brought him back to reality. "Ahhh!" Gigas Shadows, which resembled their close cousins, Shadows, suddenly began to rise from the ground near Donald, eerily swinging bug-like antennas around while they twitched and reached towards him; "Confounded heartless! Get lost will ya?!"

He struggled to escape their clutches, but to no avail. The menacing swirls of violet and ebony rapidly obscured his vision, pushing him downward forcefully. But, Donald wasn't about to give in. There was no time to shiver, no time to think, no time to breathe . . . no time to reach out for a loved one. Still, the white duck screamed manically, summoning all the physical strength he could muster to whack at the monsters with his staff — immolating one, but the icy grasp of another grasped around his wrist.

Aw phooey . . .


The magical incantation bounced and echoed off invisible dark walls, mellifluous like chiming bells and sweet hot chocolate while Donald struggled to stay conscience; he had sustained heavy damage from the Shadow's constant gnawing and the Soldier's wild slashing with their small pointed swords. Words cluttered the air, though none of them were his own. He wondered blearily who had come to his rescue, when he saw the modestly pink-clad figure daintily drop to her knees beside him. As soft and delicate hands hovered gently over a cut on his chest — one of them had gotten too close — he discerned that he had almost truly lost his heart.

"It's all right," Aerith started quietly, her melodic voice holding a gentle reassuring air. "This won't take long. I promise."

A pure white blossom opened smoothly above him. It spilled beaming bending rays of scintillating light upon his battered and broken form. The edges of the upside-down flower positively glowed with a glittering shine. Twisted gnarled ligaments stitched themselves back together, fractured bones mended and grinded against one another as they slid back into place, and cuts oozing out metallic and salty blood closed up with newly formed skin. A newfound current of energy ebbed and flowed through him like water.

The short, white duck instantly jolted to his feet, meeting a pair of light sparkling chalcedony eyes that focused on his own intently. The sound of crackling magic, and the din of shrieks and variously pitched battle cries resonated upward almost endlessly. And he realized something — amidst the chaotic surroundings of battle, only by the saving grace of the kind, sweet and fragile-looking flower girl was he still alive. It made his head swim and caught him off guard all at once.

"A-Aerith!" Donald sputtered in indignation. He stared inquisitively at one of the people he least expected to see on the battlefield, much less rescuing him from a certain brush with death. "What are you doing here?"

The young woman pushed her hair out of her twinkling emerald eyes as a smile blessed her lips. She responded simply, "I came to help, of course. Is there any reason I shouldn't be here?"

Donald squawked slightly. "That's not what I meant! Can't you see how dangerous it is out here?!"

Aerith stifled a light giggle. She moved closer to him, reaching out to tap him playfully on the tip of his orange-yellow bill. Of course, this didn't ruffle his feathers, or cause a soft shade of red to prickle his cheeks at all. "Hmm, I do. Do you?"

"'COURSE!" The royal magician made that angry squawk again, which was really long and ear-piercing. "But this isn't about me!"

"That was very close though, Donald," Aerith stated after a moment, that perfect smile never leaving her lips. "Next time, be more careful, okay?"

He 'hmphed' loudly and rolled his eyes, muttering underneath his breath, "Yeah, yeah . . ."

She merely flashed him a wink — or it could have been just her eyelids fluttering. "Oh, and don't worry about me. I can take care of myself," she confirmed, startling contradicting timbres of both sweetness and frivolity in her voice. And, in an instant, she was a blur of coral-pink movement, swirling like a slender whirlpool towards the blockade of shadows. Magical energy crackled and produced itself from her slender fingertips to hurl unto the heartless, reducing them to a pile of sporadically trembling matter. Aerith metamorphosed into a powerful foe on the battlefield, amidst self-created whooshing winds and bursts of ethereal illumination. She was beautifully mirrored in Donald's lustrous lenses, a commendable magic user if there ever was one.

After his initial shock dispersed, Donald followed suit in attack, but not nearly as magnificently as Aerith had lunged herself into battle. He could shift his floppy, tawny footing all he wanted while calling upon his power to eradicate his enemies, but he wasn't nearly as breathtaking as Aerith, whose eyelids shielded her mysterious round eyes from the world as she elegantly gaited across the abode. After all, it was a focusing thing. Magic spells required concentration, skill, and above all accuracy. Pinpointing your target and willing the spell to attack that target was the key to succeeding, for if it missed than the caster was at a terrible disadvantage.

When a showering of Thundaga spells and a volley of Firaga took down the last of the gargantuan Heartless, Sora and Goofy ran up to them breathlessly, their faces shiny with sweat.

"Hey Donald, what —" The Keyblade Master's sentence froze as he really stared at him. A puzzled look immediately swept across his countenance. "Are you . . . all right?"

"Gawrsh, ya aren't gettin' sick, are ya?" Goofy inquired as well. He squinted, eyebrows pinching together curiously while he suddenly leaned forward, too close to Donald for comfort.

"'Course not, you dummy!" raged Donald. He nearly choked, then shoved his companion away angrily. Irrationally so, perhaps — but Donald couldn't let it be known that he had been staring at Aerith.

"But you're all red." Simple-minded as he seemed, Goofy was rather adept at picking up on things others usually overlooked. A frown took hold of his dog-like features as his chocolate eyes focused on a certain flower girl currently engaged in conversation with a stony-faced Leon; then a knowing light bedewed his gaze. He chortled: "Ya know, Aerith isn't on the Restoration Committee for nothin'. She's a great fighter, ayuck!"

"I know that!" Donald snapped, chagrin and annoyance ringing loud and clear in his voice. He risked another glance at the brunette, who was turned away from him. The wind passed through the rocky canyon, the sun shined brilliantly, and the day seemed perfect now that all the darkness was gone — heck, everyday in Radiant Garden seemed perfect. Donald rolled his eyes at her — well rather her profile since she was looking away from him. As if sensing his stare she turned around briefly, the sun playing with her emerald eyes once more as she offered him another soft smile.

Donald was typically the complete opposite of this, in fact he was particularly sour or he'd usually sport a cocky smirk. But, the oversized foul's mood lightened. That drastic change showed very noticeably on his face, for a genuine smile came upon his visage.

If there was one thing he hoped for, it was to be as strong as Aerith on and off the battlefield.