Set in an Alternate Universe.
I wanted to try writing something different, and this is the result of that.
I hope that even if this is very different from my usual writing - I have never written anything like this before - you still enjoy it.
TerraAqua is the Main Pairing, SoraKairi is only Secondary.
I originally wanted Ventus to play the part that Sora has in this story, but I needed Kairi.
Anyway, on to the story.
DISCLAIMER [I do not own Kingdom Hearts] DISCLAIMER
LIES AND BUTTERFLIES
We're waking up early tomorrow.
"Damn it, where is he?" Terra grumbled as he stood outside the school gates. He checked his watch for the nth time, mumbling incoherently with his brows furrowed. "If he doesn't show up in the next five minutes, I am going to -"
"- Finally! What's your excuse this time?"
Sora looked up at his older brother, grinning sheepishly. Terra noticed that Kairi – the pretty little red-head that his little brother has been crushing on for forever – was with him. "You see," Sora began to explain, "I ran into Kairi in the hall, and we got talking, and then I asked if she wanted to go watch a movie with me sometime, and then -"
"You forgot you were supposed to meet me here an hour ago, I know how this story ends," Terra finished impatiently.
"You didn't let me finish!" Sora complained.
"Well, you -" Terra said, but Kairi interrupted.
"Sora, I have to go," she said.
She pointed towards an approaching car – a sleek, shiny, silver car – and said, "I don't want to make her wait."
"But she never minds," Sora argued.
"She just doesn't say she minds."
"Oh, is your mom picking you up?" Terra asked, his arms crossed over his chest.
The car stopped just behind them and Kairi shook her head and smiled as she headed over to the car. She opened the door to the passenger seat and hopped in. Before closing the door, she called to Sora saying, "I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
Sora waved at her, and they left, but not fast enough that Terra did not see who was driving the car. He would know that blue hair anywhere. "Sora… Who picks Kairi up?"
"Oh, I kind of don't know, I think her name is Aqua," the boy answered indifferently. "Anyway like I was saying, I asked Kairi if she wanted to watch a movie with me sometime -"
"Wait, hold up!" Terra said, grabbing his brother by the shoulders. "Aqua?"
"Yeah," Sora answered, his expression confused.
"You didn't tell me Kairi knows Aqua!"
"Oh, is she important?" Sora asked.
For that response, Terra smacked him on the back of the head.
"Oy, what was that for?" Sora mumbled, rubbing the sore spot.
"And is Aqua also the one who takes Kairi to school?"
Sora nodded. Terra smirked.
"Little brother, we're waking up early tomorrow."
"Terra… It's so early…"
"Well, it's about time you learned to be punctual."
"This isn't being punctual! Punctual is being on time! Three hours before is not -"
"Early is better than late."
Sora groaned He glared at his brother. "I didn't know your uniform had a tie."
"I hate wearing it."
"Then why wear it now?"
"Could you just be quiet?"
Sora narrowed his eyes at Terra. The older boy seemed rather neatly dressed today. And he had left his motorcycle in the nearby parking lot, making Sora walk an extra block to school. Usually, he would drop Sora off right at the gate and zoom away. But he kept his mouth shut. Terra could be mean if he wanted to be, and Sora shuddered at the thought.
They stood at the school gates for quite a while. Soon, more students arrived; some of them were his friends. They stopped to ask Sora what he was waiting for, but left when the boy only shrugged. Sora looked up at his brother. "Can I go now? My friends are here."
"No, you stay right there. You're waiting for Kairi."
Sora frowned, annoyed now.
And he remained annoyed until – after two hours of waiting – the familiar silver car finally came up the driveway. It stopped and the driver and passenger doors opened.
"Hey, Sora!" Kairi greeted as soon as she saw Sora by the gate.
"Hi, Kairi!" All of the younger boy's earlier frustrations were forgotten.
"Kairi, you might forget this."
Terra swallowed a large lump in his throat at hearing that voice. He had never heard it before, but he had imagined it so many times – although saying a very different sentence – that it did not sound new at all. Rather it felt like he was living a dream.
"Oh, sorry, Aqua," Kairi replied. She helped pull out a massive box, probably a school project or something, from the back of the car. Sora ran to help her, taking one end of the box.
"Here, let me get that," he said.
"Well, Sora, aren't you the little gentleman," Aqua said, smiling and patting Sora on the head.
Throughout this whole exchange, Terra was completely dumbstruck. He was gawking at Aqua, watching her every move, catching her every word. He also noted how well her uniform fitted her; that button-up white blouse – over which she wore a black blazer, the short gray pleated skirt, and those black stockings. He could feel his chest being constricted at the thought that she was right there, standing mere feet from him.
Aqua walked Kairi right up to the gate – which brought her right beside Terra – and said, "Have an awesome day."
"Sure will," Kairi replied, with a meaningful glance at Sora. "I'll see you later, Aqua!"
Aqua waved as Kairi and Sora left, with Sora burdened by the enormous box containing who knows what. As soon as they were halfway to the doors, Aqua turned around to leave. Terra cleared his throat. "Hi, Aqua."
She turned to face him, confused.
Oh, hell! Damn it, damn it, damn it! He suddenly remembered that she has no idea that he knows who she is! And he called her by her name! He messed up, totally screwed up! Now she was definitely going to think he was a creepy stalker that -
"Hi… I'm sorry, have we met?"
He wasn't breathing. "Well, um, no… Not really. No."
She held her hand out to him, smiling. "Aqua," she said. "And you?"
He took her hand and a horde of butterflies began eating at his stomach. "Terra."
She released his hand. "Just Terra?"
"Uh, Sora is my little brother." Stupid answer.
"Oh, I see," She tilted her head slightly to one side, her brows furrowed at him. "Um… Are you alright? You look a little ill."
He finally resumed breathing, realizing that he was still holding it, and wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand. "I'm fine," he said, grinning. "I, uh, have to go to school now."
"Are you sure you're alright?" she asked.
"Never better!" he replied, still grinning, as he started to walk off.
"Oh, hey, would you like a ride?"
He stopped immediately and turned to face her. "Huh?"
"Well, I recognize your uniform; your school is practically next door to mine, so it really isn't any trouble," she said kindly. "Unless you just parked your car somewhere else and -"
"Oh, no, I walk to school after I drop my little brother off."
"Well, then you can ride with me, if you want to."
The butterflies had completely devoured his stomach and were now attacking his liver, or his kidneys. He couldn't be sure. "Sounds great," he managed to choke out.
They both got into the silver car and Aqua drove off. Terra could feel his heart pounding against his ribcage. He began to sweat again, and his fingers began to twitch.
Aqua turned up the air-conditioning. "Are you absolutely sure you're alright? I could bring you to a hospital instead, you really look terrible."
So much for dressing up, genius! Terra chastised himself. "I'm great, really."
"If you say so," she said.
Terra began to breathe deeply, trying to calm himself down, but the fact that her scent filled the entire car did not help at all. He gripped the edges of his seat tightly.
"By the way," she said suddenly, "how did you know my name?"
He didn't answer immediately. His mind was running amuck.
I don't just know your name.
I know your favorite subject is Literature, but you're good at everything, always at the top of your class. I know your favorite colors are blue, white, and silver – in that order. I know you can play the violin, but love the sound of the acoustic guitar. I know you love the rain, but you're afraid of thunderstorms. I know you hate chocolate, but love it when it has caramel inside. I know you love puppies, especially when they're white, and -
"Terra?" she said, breaking his train of thought.
"Uh… Could you repeat the question?"
She laughed a little. "I was wondering how you knew my name."
"Oh. I… Well, um… You… I, uh…" He stuttered for an entire, torturous minute before finally saying, "Sora told me."
"Hm, I see," she answered softly, slowly.
Nice going; now she definitely knows you're a stalker. He wanted to punch himself in the face. He was finally able to speak to the girl of his dreams and he screws it up.
"I think that you are very sweet, bringing your little brother to school," she said, obviously trying to strike up a conversation.
"You do the same with Kairi," Terra said, fighting to keep his voice steady. "And she's not even your sister or anything right?"
"Well, my family lives next door to hers," she answered. "Our parents are pretty close friends, so we spend a great deal of time together. We are practically like sisters."
"Oh," he mumbled. He kept an indifferent look on his face, but his mind was carefully storing this new information in the massive vault labeled, Aqua.
"Sora is a good kid, isn't he?" she asked.
"Huh? Yeah, I guess," Terra answered. "Why?"
"Nothing," she replied, smiling, as she pulled over. "Here we are. Your school."
"Oh," he mumbled again. "Well, thanks for the ride."
"You're welcome," she replied.
He moved to open the door, when she said, "Are you picking Sora up later?"
"Yeah," he said.
She smiled at him. "Well, since I am going to pick Kairi up as well, you could ride with me again, if you want to. Although their classes end at 3:00, and my last class is until 3:30. Kairi knows to wait for me, but if you have to pick Sora up earlier -"
"No, we could meet at 4:00, after your class," Terra answered. Actually, he only had classes until 2:00, but he would gladly wait the extra two hours for Aqua.
"I'll see you then," she said.
"Yeah, I'll be here," he answered as he got out of the car. She drove off and the butterflies finally took a break from consuming his innards.
He turned around to see his friends Zack and Cloud coming up to meet him.
"Wow, you're early today," Zack commented.
"There's a first time for everything," Cloud added.
Terra just ignored them and headed inside. "Let's just get to class."
"Yeah, okay, but you have to pay me back first," Zack said.
"You owe me, our bet yesterday?"
"Oh, damn, I forgot about that," Terra groaned. "Look, I left my money at home, so I'll just pay you tomorrow."
"I really need it today, Terra, how about I go to your place later after class?"
Cloud and Zack stared at him, surprised that he sounded so adamant. "Why not?"
"I… I have to go pick my brother up."
"Yeah, I know," Zack said. "We can get him, and then go to your house."
"No, not today, okay?"
"Why not?" Cloud asked again, more seriously this time, with his eyes narrowed.
Terra finally gave in. "I'm going with Aqua."
Zack laughed. "You're kidding, right?"
Cloud, too, did not believe him. "The Aqua?"
"Who else?" Terra said, but he understood why they were so disbelieving.
Aqua was the unchallenged, undisputed school belle of the prestigious university – exclusively for girls – that was located just a couple of blocks away from their less renowned college, which was chockfull of nothing but boys.
"As if, Terra," Cloud replied.
Zack was still laughing.
Terra fumed. "How about a new bet then? At 4:00, Aqua will be waiting for me right outside the school," he said. "If she is there, then you two owe me. And if she isn't, then I owe you both twice what I already owe Zack."
His two friends grinned. "You're on."
It was almost 4:00.
Terra and his two friends had spent the two hours following the end of their last class in the cafeteria. Now, they were walking across the quadrangle, heading to the school gates. The moment they stepped out of the school building, however, Zack and Cloud immediately sported frowns on their faces. There were a lot of boys grouped around the gates. Many of them were trying to look casual; some were not trying at all. And everyone knows that a mass gathering only happens if…
"Hi, Terra, I was beginning to wonder where you were."
She was leaning casually against her car, which she had parked on the driveway, acting perfectly natural, as if there were no guys gawking at her.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Aqua," Terra said as he walked up to her.
"No problem," she replied. "Shall we go?"
"One second," he said, smiling. He turned to Zack and Cloud, smirking at them, mocking them.
Zack was looking at the car. "Well, where's your bike, Terra? Don't you always take that crappy motorcycle of yours to school?"
"Yeah, you're going to follow behind her or something?" Cloud added.
Terra wanted to smack them both over the head, but he knew he couldn't. He simply stood there. Then his face paled, and he felt beads of sweat coat his brow when he heard Aqua say, "What…?"
"Let's just go," he told her.
Her brow was creased but she said nothing. They got into the car and she drove off. After a while of silence, she said, "Motorcycle? You told me you walked to school."
He swallowed the lump in his throat, and felt the butterflies go into a panicked feeding frenzy. In fact, they were really more like starving vultures now, feeding on his rotting flesh. "Yeah…" he muttered, knowing there was no way out of this. "Look, Aqua, I… I kind of lied…"
She suddenly pulled over at the side of the road, slamming hard on the brakes, and she looked so furious he knew for sure she was going to ungraciously toss him out. But she said, "I hate it when people lie to me."
He began gnawing at the inside of his cheek. His body had gone numb, his senses seemed deadened. The part of his brain, however, that was dedicated entirely to Aqua was still at work, because this new information also found its way into the vault, right on its own pedestal, with a brilliant red flag waving over it.
She turned to face him; her glare was icy and serious. "Anything else you want to confess?"
"N-no…" he mumbled.
"Like, you are actually Sora's brother, right?"
She glared at him for a moment longer, and then she faced the road again. She didn't say another word, she simply resumed driving. The rest of the ride was dangerously quiet and – for Terra, mostly – insanely awkward. He was mentally bashing his own head with a hammer. Oh, God, what would she do to me if she finds out about that bet? Damn it, damn it, damn it!
When they arrived at Kairi's and Sora's school, the two were already waiting at the gate. Sora was still holding onto the gigantic box. Aqua stepped out of the car and, with a warm smile, embraced Kairi. "How was your day?" she asked the younger girl, as she took the box from Sora.
"Awesome!" Kairi answered, smiling as well. "Oh, and my teacher loved my project! She said it was the best in class! So thank you for helping me, Aqua."
Sora was looking at Terra strangely as the older boy stepped out of the car. "Aha!" he exclaimed, pointing an accusing finger at his older brother. "That's why you woke me up insanely early! That's why you wanted me to wait for Kairi! That's why you're all…dressed! It's because of Aqua!"
"Shut up, Sora," Terra hissed, his face growing hot.
His little brother just stared him down, arms crossed over his chest. "I know I'm right," he said. "That's why you reacted like a crazy person when she was here yesterday!"
The four of them were quiet then, the two girls staring at the two boys. Finally, Kairi decided to break the tension, saying, "Aqua, me and Sora were planning to watch a movie today. Could you take us to the mall?"
"Oh, sure, Kairi," Aqua answered, and Kairi hopped into the car. Sora followed her. Aqua closed the door behind them.
"I think you and I need to talk," she told Terra. Then she gestured for him to get in the car, before she did as well. The drive to the mall was the most stressful, most uncomfortable half hour of his life.
This has got to be a new record. You meet the girl of your dreams in the morning, have a decent conversation, and then you piss her off in the afternoon, and before the sun even sets, she'll probably decide that she never wants to see you again. You're a real piece of work, man.
While a storm was raging in his head and his heart was thundering in uneven bursts, Aqua, Kairi, and Sora were having a perfectly normal conversation. It was as though she was completely unperturbed by the whole situation. Terra was wondering if he could just die of a heart attack or something, anything. Now. Please.
Eventually, they did arrive at the mall, and he was somehow still alive. They walked with Kairi and Sora until the two little lovebirds had bought their tickets and lined up to get inside.
"Kairi, I'll meet you here after the movie," Aqua said.
"Okay," Kairi said, hugging Aqua around the middle.
"Have fun," Aqua said, returning the hug.
As soon as Kairi and Sora were out of sight, Aqua walked off. Terra followed her; though he really wanted to turn the other way and disappear into the shadows, or slam right into a brick wall, hopefully cracking his head open.
They went to an ice cream shop and she told Terra to take a seat at one of the tables. He did as she asked, and she bought them some ice cream.
"Here," she said, handing him a stick of frozen sugar and water, colored a brilliant blue. She had one as well, and she began nibbling on it as she sat on the chair across from his.
He took a bite. "Huh."
"It's really salty. But it also tastes really sweet."
"It's called Sea-Salt," she said. "You've never tried it before?"
They sat in silence for a moment, just eating their ice cream. When he was halfway through with his, she asked, "Feeling better?"
"You were angry with Sora."
"Oh," he mumbled. "I'm fine."
"So," she began to say, and Terra cringed a little, knowing that this was the talk. "You woke Sora up insanely early, made him wait for Kairi, and got dressed, whatever he meant by that… Because of me?"
Damn, she was attentive. Terras frowned and said, "Well, don't say it like that."
"Like it's your fault."
She frowned, too. "Then how should I say it?"
"I mean, you said it like it's a fault, like you did something wrong."
Her frown remained.
He sighed, biting into his ice cream again before speaking. "You should say it like this; I did all of those for you."
They were quiet again, and Terra felt his cheeks grow warm. Damn, did I really just say that?
She seemed to consider his statement for a moment, before finally saying, "This morning, when I asked you how you knew my name…"
She did not finish her sentence, but he knew what she was going to say. And he also knew that it would be idiotic to try to find a way around it. So he said, "I knew your name because… Well, I just had to know from the first moment I saw you. I needed to know. So, I've asked around about you…"
She looked at him warily, and it almost seemed as though she wanted to leave right then and there. But he said, "Please, just hear me out," and he struggled to explain.
"If I could," he said, "I would want to know everything about you, what makes you happy, what makes you angry, what makes you cry… What makes you, well, you. In the car, when you told me that you hated it when people lied to you, I was scared to death. But a part of me was also very happy because I had just learned something new about you."
She just stared at him, her expression blank.
"Listen," he said. "What I'm really trying to say is… I have liked you for a very long time, Aqua. All I really wanted to do this morning was to ask you to go out with me. I just chickened out. You're probably going to think I'm some crazy stalker, but that's how it is. When you like someone, you just have to do what you can to be near them, to get to know them, even if that means using your little brother and, well, lying."
She didn't answer. She simply turned away from him and continued to eat her ice cream. He said no more. After all, what else could he say? He had laid his heart on a silver platter and placed it on the table and she was probably going to stab it with a fork.
Even when their ice cream was finished, neither of them said anything, or even moved at all. And well over an hour passed before Aqua spoke again. "We should go get Kairi and Sora. I think the movie will end soon." His heart ached, burned, imploded. She wasn't even looking at him when she spoke. They stood from their seats and walked in silence to the theaters.
Terra tried to cheer himself up. You have to move on. Aqua isn't the only fish in the sea. Yeah, she's the most beautiful, most amazing, most incredible little fish out there, and you know you'll never find anyone else like her, but you could settle for less, right? And, come on, you didn't really think you had a chance, did you? Look at you! And look at her! Yours was always a ship doomed to sink and rot in the bottom of -
He clenched his hands into fists and shook his head. Even his own thoughts were against him. So much for trying to be self-motivating. He glanced at Aqua, who was walking beside him with her head bowed slightly. She was clearly deep in thought. He would have given all the pennies in the world if he could know what she was thinking.
They reached the theater just as people were starting to file out. They stood to one side, keeping an eye out for Kairi and Sora. It was difficult for Terra, though, when his heart was slamming against his ribcage, trying to deal with the pain. And it did not help at all that he would have to ride in that car again, breathing in her intoxicating scent, seeing her out of the corner of his eye, knowing that if he flexed his hand just a little bit, he would be touching hers…
Plus, just what was he going to do about his motorcycle?
Soon, Sora and Kairi stepped through the doors. They didn't see Terra and Aqua right away, in fact the two weren't even looking for their older companions. They simply stood there, talking, hand in hand. And then, before Aqua or Terra could call out to them, Sora leaned closer to Kairi and…kissed her. The odd thing was that the little red-haired girl was kissing him back. Aqua and Terra stood extremely still, and they waited for the two lovebirds to notice them before doing anything.
"Aqua!" Kairi called excitedly, running towards her. There was an obvious blush on her cheeks. Sora grinned at his older brother and held up two thumbs-up. Terra responded with one, trying to force his mouth into a grin as well.
Kairi hugged Aqua around the middle, like she did earlier. "The movie was great," she said, but she gave Aqua a meaningful gaze.
"You look like you had a lot of fun," she said. "Ready to go home?"
Kairi nodded. "Uh huh."
Sora took Kairi by the hand, and the two of them walked ahead of Aqua and Terra.
"I can't believe that my kid brother gets a girlfriend before me," Terra mumbled.
"Hm," Aqua murmured. "Don't be so sure."
Terra dared to glance in her direction, and he couldn't help but smirk. Aqua was smiling up at him, blushing.