Xehanort decided that he should head back to the castle, as the air was becoming damp and chilly, making his joints ache slightly. He slowly scaled the mountainous path leading back to the castle, his infamous mind at work scheming. He had to find a way to get Eraqus' guard down, long enough for him to get what he wanted. He's going to be a tough nut to crack…he'll be pulling all this 'stony-hearted stoic' bullshit…I'm just going to have to play it sweet for a little while and keep Terra's mouth shut. A devious smirk spread across Xehanort's face. After all, that act has worked before. I know he still wants me; it's just all a matter of finding that little chink in his armor.

A short time later, the dark Master wandered through the threshold of the decorated castle, sighing in relief at the warmth within. Eraqus slowly emerged, his eyes boring into Xehanort's. A tense silence befell them, and Eraqus moved closer. "Your room is still where it always is. I didn't bother to move or rearrange anything there."

"How sweet of you." Xehanort muttered. "I guess I'll be heading to bed. Care to—"

Silence, except for Eraqus' dark glower, which said enough in itself. "Err…never mind." Xehanort corrected himself, turning to climb the stairs to his old room.

Terra's heart hadn't soared like this for a while. He felt like he was protected by those he considered his family—Aqua, Ven, and Eraqus. It was safe here…peaceful even. Aqua had been brimming with excitement, telling him all the things that had happened with her and Ven's studying, their training and such. Ven had been just as excitable, eager to show Terra all his new moves.

And Terra? He was just happy to be back amongst them. Never had he been so content with Aqua talking his ear off and Ven's gung-ho enthusiasm. Being around that old bastard must do that to you. He shuddered ever so slightly at the mere thought of the deviant old man. He shook Xehanort from his mind. There was no way he was letting him ruin Terra's lightheartedness.

Looking up from Ven's enthusiastic show, he noticed the sun sinking steadily beyond the horizon, enveloping the sky in hues of lavender and gold. He'd been so absorbed in what had been going on with both his friends that he hadn't even noticed the chill creeping into the air. "We should be heading in. It's getting chilly…I don't want you guys to catch cold."

Aqua gave him a strange look. "You must be used to the desert or something. It feels fine out here!"

"No, not really…the desert gets nippy once the sun goes down."

"Interesting." Aqua mused. "Maybe we should go in." She noticed Terra's sudden diverted gaze, like he always did when he needed to talk about something.

"Aww, Aqua! I was just getting warmed up!" Ven complained, dismissing his blade.

"You're going to start chilling if you stay out here much longer," Aqua countered, "You don't want to miss training because of a cold, now do you?"

Ven shook his head. "Fine. I'll go in then." And with that, he took off toward the castle, leaving Aqua and Terra at the training grounds. There was a short silence between the two young warriors before Aqua turned her head to the brooding young man. "So, what's up?" Terra startled slightly, briefly looking at her before diverting his gaze again. "What do you mean?"

"You need to talk about something. I can always tell when you're holding something inside." Aqua murmured. "And you know what the Master says about holding things inside."

Terra closed his eyes. "Closing your eyes isn't going to make it go away," Aqua teased, touching Terra's shoulder.

"Can we start heading back? I need to get my thoughts straight." Terra mumbled. Aqua simply nodded, taking his hand like she always did when he needed support. He was tense…very tense. Had something happened while he was in Master Xehanort's care?

"Aqua…If I tell you this, will you promise not to think worse of me?"

"I won't, Terra. I never have, and I never will. What is it?"

"…" He hesitated again. "Well…I think I might…like guys."

"That's it?" Terra halted, almost yanking the poor girl back on her bottom. "Terra…?"

"You don't understand…it's…it's so hard to talk about it." He was sinking to the ground, to his knees in front of her. "Xehanort…I…"

"What did he do to you?" Aqua sighed, suddenly alarmed. Terra's face fell into his hands before he murmured brokenly: "I think I really like Xehanort…"

Aqua simply stood there in shock, the alarmed expression glued to her face. "What did you say?"

"I think I like Xehanort." Terra growled, looking to the side.


" When I was in his care…he touched me. In places I would never have imagined. And I liked it, Aqua. I let him touch places that I've never touched myself…I let him…I let him fuck me, Aqua."

Aqua squawked, more out of surprise and disgust to the old man's immoral actions. How could he defile poor, innocent, naïve Terra? Terra had never been dirty-minded, was always so disciplined. How could those scant few months make Terra want to screw an old man of all people?

"Terra, I…don't know what to say…I guess my most burning question would be if he forced you into it."

More hesitation. "No," Terra lied. "He didn't force me into anything."

Aqua's brain was whirling. "Should I tell Master Eraqus—"

"No! You can't tell him anything! Not one bit! This is between you and me, Aqua. At least until I know for sure."

"I don't know how much more sure you can get, Terra! I mean…you were…intimate with him right? I think that's pretty clean-cut."

"So I'm gay. For an old man." Terra half-growled, "Fantastic."

"I mean, it could just be a phase, but I think it crossed the line when you allowed him to…you know."

Terra was silent. "Let's head back. I'm freezing." Terra stood and stalked off toward to castle, leaving the bluenette to mull over what her friend had said. She felt that she had been a tad harsh, but she couldn't sugarcoat everything for him. And she couldn't shake the feeling that he was still hiding something.

Something big, and bad and horrific.

It had been strange that he hadn't wanted her to alert Master Eraqus to his newfound sexuality, considering that Xehanort was here in the castle. What were they going to do, wait until Ven or Eraqus walked in on them…doing their thing, and then explain the whole mess?

Something was still very fishy about the whole situation, and for some reason Aqua knew that she wasn't getting anything else out of the earthen warrior for the rest of the night.

Perhaps, never.

Who really knew with Terra?

Aqua shook her head. The chill was starting to get to her now, so she quickly made her way back to the castle.

It didn't take a sage to tell her that these next few months were going to be horrifically awkward.

Especially if Terra was going to keep lying to himself.