It's been a while since I wrote something fluffy for Terra and Aqua. It made me feel bad. I love this couple so much because they really seem to deserve each other. This is something I've been toying with for a while, but it's a very loose thing. I'm only semi-satisfied with the result. Most of it feels halfassed, but the ending was good. I really hate how reading anything screws with my writing style. Well, enjoy the fluffiness.
Splintered, Broken, Shattered Pieces
Aqua couldn't help but cry.
She felt so ashamed of herself. She'd never been so embarrassed in her life. The test in itself had been relatively simple, but she had messed up so badly. It pained her to see her Master shake his head in embarrassment and look away. She had made a fool of herself in front of him, and in front of Terra. If that wasn't shame enough, she had failed a magic test, and she always claimed that magic was her strong point!
She had run out of the castle, not wanting to see any more of their faces, knowing in her heart how they would look. It was too painful to bear. She ran to the mountain peak, fighting back tears the entire way. There, in the bright light of the setting sun, she sat on the bench facing the castle and began to cry, wiping the tears from her face with her sleeves. She was so absorbed in her failings that she didn't notice her company until he sat down and put his arm around her shoulders.
"T-Terra? What are you…?" she asked, trying to contain her sniffles enough to speak coherently.
He smiled softly. "What else? I'm here to comfort you. I was worried when you ran off like that, but it looks like you need to cry it out. So I'll wait, and then we'll talk about it. Alright?"
Aqua managed to nod before she broke into more tears. Terra shifted himself closer and pulled her to his chest, letting her rest her head on his shoulder. She sniffled and sobbed, but he held still, occasionally patting her back in a comforting gesture. Something about it felt weird to her; the older stronger boy doing his best to make her feel better only seemed to confuse her more and induce more tears.
Finally, the tears dried up and Aqua was left sniffling, her shoulders occasionally heaving with silent sobs. She slowly pulled away from Terra and settled herself back on the bench, hugging her arms and making a point not to look at him.
"Not at all," she muttered, scowling. "I made a fool of myself."
"Don't say that. No one thinks that."
"The Master does. He looked so embarrassed."
Terra chuckled. "He always looks like that when he's trying not to laugh."
"Oh, great. He was laughing at me! That makes me feel so much better."
"I thought you would be, too."
She glared at him. "Why would I be laughing at myself?"
"It's not a matter of laughing at yourself. The thing is, the Master wasn't laughing at you, he was laughing at the action. You have to admit, it was pretty funny."
"And you were laughing at me too?"
"Sure," he replied plainly and Aqua punched him. "Ow! Hey! If that's what I get for trying to cheer you up, I won't bother next time." His words were serious, but he laughed through the whole thing.
"Why did you come, anyway? I never said I wanted company."
"Well, I didn't know you were making such a big deal about it, so I thought I'd join you and laugh about it."
"Jerk." She felt a smile creeping back to her face.
"See? It's working! You're already sounding like your normal self again."
Aqua blinked and thought it over. He was right. She was feeling exceptionally better and, though she hated to admit it, it was his words and actions that were the cause. Before she had met him, she though all boys were immature idiots. At first, he seemed to agree with that observation, acting like a ten year old when he was actually a year older than her. Now that he was fourteen, Aqua was starting to see him mature.
"So, I did a good job?" he asked, smiling smugly.
Aqua elbowed him in the ribs. "Don't let it get to your head, pretty boy."
"Oh ho… I'm a pretty boy? So you think I'm attractive?"
"It's an insult!"
"But it still means you think I'm pretty!" He lounged back on the bench as though he was posing for the cover of a magazine. "Right?"
"In your dreams," she mumbled, looking back at the castle as she stood up. Terra shifted from his seated position as she walked past and lunged, grabbing her wrist. They both toppled to the ground, rolling in the dirt down the slight incline until they bumped into the stone wall, Aqua somehow lying on top of him.
They sat there for a long moment before Terra blushed and slid himself quickly and carefully out from under her. "Sorry."
"That'll teach you," she snapped, trying to hide her smile as she shoved the older boy.
Though they were both affected by the awkwardness of the situation, they started laughing together. Aqua felt at ease, happy that she was no longer burdened by the thoughts of her failure. Terra's awkward, childish actions had seen to that.
Later on, lying in bed, Aqua realized a few things, things that made her blush nervously in the emptiness of her room. She was happy to have Terra as her best friend. All the time he had held her, letting her cry, she had felt like he was protecting her, keeping her from harm. He was a pillar of strength to her, powerful, invincible, and ever-present. He was kind to her when she needed kindness, annoying when she needed someone to direct her anger at, and silly when she needed something to cheer her up.
She liked the way he fought with his Keyblade, thinking the style suited him perfectly in the way he moved; rigid and serious, yet versatile and conserved. Terra was always serious when he trained, his expression rigid as stone when he wasn't fuming over something. His anger got him in trouble often, which Master Eraqus was trying to work out of him, but Aqua thought it was part of him, irreplaceable and immovable.
She liked being in his presence. Terra was always smiling, laughing at something she figured she didn't want to comprehend. He was always trying to direct his energies towards something, but they mostly spilled out and affected other people. She loved it when he smiled, because it always made her feel like smiling with him.
She realized that she liked Terra the moment she had landed on top of him, their faces close enough to kiss.
She realized how much she wished she could have kissed him.
Aqua stretched out her sore limbs, waving a quick goodbye to Merlin as she headed away from Ansem's Study and headed back towards Radiant Garden's village proper. She hadn't intended to stay so late, but Ansem's research had been so captivating. Not that she wanted to test any of his theories herself; understanding the reasoning behind them was enough. It was something to satisfy her intellectual mind until Aerith, Leon, and Cid finished sorting out Hollow Bastion's library. The shelves had been refurbished, repaired and repainted, and all that was left was to sort the books. She had offered to help, but Aerith assured her that they could handle it.
The months seemed to pass by so fast. It seemed like only days ago that Sora and the others had rescued her from the Realm of Darkness, but it had been three months since Radiant Garden became her temporary home. Sora, Riku, and Kairi had returned to their islands a week or so before to catch up on some well-deserved rest and Mickey had left to attend to business at Disney Castle, leaving Aqua to her own devices. Ven seemed to be enjoying his time off most of all, taking out stray Heartless in the icy trenches with Yuffie.
Aqua walked the path in the dark, internally cursing the sky for being cloudy. She could have used the moonlight. The path was much creepier in the dark, making her jump at shadows every time she heard a sound. There were plenty of times when she was on the verge of summoning her Keyblade, but she managed to keep herself contained. Finally, she sauntered through the open gates to the bailey as the moon came into the clear. 'Fat lot of good that does me,' she mused, walking quietly up the stairs.
At the top, she came to a dead stop and her heart skipped a beat before she realized who it was. It took another heartbeat before she realized something was wrong.
Terra was standing there, his back to her, staring down into the ravine below. Aqua always felt unnerved at how much taller he seemed now, compared to before. Somehow, he didn't seem any different, looking exactly the same in appearance, but minuscule things about him had changed after Sora had freed him from Xehanort's control. He walked differently, almost wearily. He was taller, though Aqua attributed that more to the fact that he'd aged as Xehanort. She hadn't aged a year during her time in the darkness, but Terra was around thirty, though he didn't outwardly look it. Still, it unnerved her that Terra and Riku were now taller than she was, the former still dwarfing her while the latter had been barely two feet tall when she had met him.
Terra was shaking, which was confusing. He couldn't have been cold; his arms were bare and his shirt was fairly thin, but his pants surely made up for it. His arms were crossed as well, but his posture was slouched, two things that usually didn't mix.
"Terra?" she spoke up, realizing that he hadn't noticed her.
There was a startled sniffle before the shaking stopped and Terra's hands shot to his face. He turned around and Aqua internally berated herself for not realizing it earlier. The skin around his eyes was red; he'd been crying.
Seeing that made Aqua's heart sink in her chest. She had noticed that something was wrong with him when they had first decided to stay in Radiant Garden, but she hadn't thought much of it, thinking it would pass. It had, but it still wasn't Terra. He acted like himself, doing his usual things and acting his usual way, even helping Ven continue his training. The only difference was that he didn't smile.
"Sorry you had to see that," he muttered, his voice cracking halfway through.
Aqua's heart skipped a beat. "Are you alright?" she asked, mentally slapping herself immediately afterwards. 'Of course he's not alright!'
"Yeah, I'm fine." It was a pathetic lie; his voice sounded hollow. He tried to turn his face away from her, but his hair hadn't grown back out of Xehanort's style, the few brown strands doing nothing to hide his sour expression.
"Of course I am," he replied, his lips turning up slightly.
"Why are you lying?"
"Because I was hoping to avoid your next inevitable question."
He looked at her, his eyes locking with hers, and Aqua felt her pulse skyrocket. "Asking me why I'm crying."
"Why are you crying?" she asked when she found her voice again.
Terra let out a deep breath. For a second it looked like he was going to start deflating, his shoulders dropping so drastically. He walked past her and sat down on the railing. "I can't do this anymore, Aqua. I can't."
She sat down next to him. "Because no one trusts you?"
"Yeah. I can tell what they're thinking. They're watching me, waiting for me to turn back into Xehanort or something. I think Cid's just waiting for one excuse to cut me down to size, and Leon and Yuffie look eager to help. I'm starting to feel it from Ven, too, but that may just be my imagination."
"With Ven, it probably is," she interrupted quietly. She didn't want to say anything about the others. She'd seen how they looked at him and his observations were right.
"I can't sleep at night, Aqua. I'm getting so paranoid that something will happen. Something tells me that I'm bound to go insane from all this and there's nothing I can do about it."
Aqua opened her mouth to interrupt, but she couldn't think of anything.
"Sometimes I wish Sora hadn't saved me."
"Don't say that!"
"Why not?" he looked at her with his bloodshot eyes, "At least when I was fighting against Xehanort in my heart, I knew I was doing something important. I knew I had something that I was fighting for. That I was working towards… Now… I've got nothing. Just this intense desire to be dead."
"Please, Terra, don't say that. Just don't. The idea in itself is scary."
He sighed. "Sorry, but that's how I feel."
"You could leave," she suggested after a few minutes of awkward silence.
"And go where? What good would it do me?" he snapped, sounding bitter.
"No one would accept me anywhere else. Only you and Ven."
"Then stay with us."
"Because… it hurts too much to be around you two."
Aqua bit her bottom lip. "Can't live with us, can't live without us. Mind if I ask why it hurts to be with us so much?"
"Because you accept me without question."
"And there's a problem with that?"
"Yes. It's a problem. You two shouldn't be accepting me… when I can't accept myself."
"You're being too hard on yourself."
"No I'm not."
She shook her head. "Stubborn men," she grumbled.
"Maybe that's why women think we're idiots," Terra added, smiling that half-smile again. "Maybe it's why we're too proud to admit our failures and why we never ask for directions no matter how hopelessly lost we are."
Unable to contain herself, Aqua laughed. "There you go again. I'm trying to cheer you up, and I'm the one who ends up laughing."
"I'm good at throwing assistance back in people's faces, remember?" His voice was bitter again, and Aqua flinched. "I'm a good as stupid rock. Useful for nothing except getting in people's ways and deflecting everything they throw at me back at them."
Sighing, Aqua took his hands in hers. "Rocks don't cry. You do."
As if reminded of their earlier purpose, tears began to build up in his eyes again, and Aqua could finally see into them. Through his eyes she could see how shattered he was inside, all the tiredness and frustration he was holding back boiling over under the surface. This wasn't the strong, confident Terra she held in her memories, but the reality of who he was. He wasn't some kind of statue for her to idolize; he was as human as she was and every human reached their breaking point sometime. Terra had just reached his.
Pulling him into a hug, Aqua let his head rest against her shoulder and wrapped her arms around him as best as she could. He sat there for a moment, shaking slightly in her hold until she felt his shoulders heave and he started crying. He hugged her back, but it felt like he was holding on to her for support more than anything else. She inadvertently began to run her fingers through his hair, and when she realized what she was doing, she didn't stop.
Eventually, Terra pieced himself together enough to realize what she was doing and he pulled back slightly, not out of her hold but far enough that he could see her face. His face was still wet with tears and she felt her hand detangle itself from his hair and move to wipe them away. She felt strangely detached from herself, as though she was watching all of it through a selective filter. There was no nervousness or embarrassment; only the feel of her hand against his face, his breath sliding down her skin, the piercing light in his eyes as they met hers, gentle and curious.
The irony of their situation struck her then. They had been there before, but their places had been reversed. Aqua had been the one to be comforted and Terra had held her as she cried her fears away. The situation now was of much more importance, but that wasn't the point.
A significant piece of Aqua had fallen in love with him that day, the day when they had been close enough to kissing that it had made her giddy to think about it. Now there was another chance, another meeting of care and comfort, and Aqua felt compelled to take it. A part of her conscience made her feel guilty about it, taking advantage of Terra in his moment of weakness, but it wasn't loud enough to break through the filter.
Aqua leaned in close to his face, feeling his startled breath skim over her cheeks. She closed her eyes and, carefully taking things inch by inch, pressed her lips against his. The heat of his skin felt foreign on hers, but she relished in it, enjoying how soft their lips were against each other. Terra hesitated, gently trying to pull his face away. Aqua kept her hand on his face, her fingers sliding back towards his hair. It felt like a dare: 'try to move and I'll only hold you back'.
Terra seemed to get the message and decided to play along. His lips returned the kiss, practically stealing the air from her lungs. His arms pulled her closer and held her there, removing the uncomfortable bubble of air that had been created between them. There was barely an inch between their bodies, but Aqua was too busy concentrating on breathing to care.
It was a long, deep, passionate kiss that only broke when Terra's weight sent them toppling off the ledge.
They hit the ground side by side, both laughing. Aqua looked over at him with a smile and he returned it, the first smile of his that she'd seen in a long time. Her already erratic heartbeat went crazy. 'This is the real thrill that I've been missing. All this work was monotony, but spending time with Terra, no matter what, makes everything much more enjoyable.' She curled up against his side, resting her head between his arm and his side. "Thanks, Terra."
"I didn't do anything," he muttered, but Aqua could hear the confident smugness in his voice that she missed. "It was all you."
"Liar," she snapped playfully, punching him playfully. He grunted and they broke into laughter. "I love you, Terra." The words left her lips without her consent, but they felt natural, like she'd been waiting for too long to say them.
"I know. I've known for a while."
This threw her for a loop. "How long have you known?"
"Oh… since you failed that magic test when you were thirteen."
Aqua's heart skipped a beat. "H-have you now…"
"Mhm. And you know what?" He shifted his position so that their faces were close again. Aqua could see that he looked much better, a playful light back in his eyes. Suddenly, she didn't care that they were lying on the ground. Being by his side was enough.
"That was when I fell in love with you too," he smiled. He brought his lips back to hers and the rest of the world lost all meaning.