Set in Destiny Islands.
After Aqua, Terra, and Ventus are reunited.

I wrote this quite a while back. Never planned to post it because it was a spur of the moment thing.
Meaning, while writing, I did not have a plot, or a solid idea in mind. This just flowed, really.
So if this makes no sense at all... Well, you know why.

I think this is my only story that is a hundred percent purely about friendship.
I remember reading through it many times in order to erase whatever seemed too romantic.
Hahaha! I hope I succeeded.

This is dedicated to Penamesolen,
I know it might not be exactly what you wished for, but I dare to hope that it exceeds your expectations.

DISCLAIMER [I do not own Kingdom Hearts or that Quote below the Title] DISCLAIMER


TOGETHER ALWAYS

The three of us will always be one.


"So, Master Aqua, what shall we do today?"

She sighed, giving her friend an exasperated look and he laughed at her expression. "Only kidding, Aqua," he said. "But really. What are we going to do today?"

She touched her hand to her chin, thinking. "Well, we could…"

"…go to the beach?"

The two spun around and saw Terra, smiling.

"Exactly what I was thinking," Aqua answered and Ven happily punched the air. She watched as Ventus ran outside, with Terra walking behind him.

Even after all those years, what had changed, really, she wondered as she watched them go. The two of them looked older – although Terra seemed to have aged much more than Ventus. And they had both changed enough – physically – that Aqua, who seemed to have skipped about a dozen birthdays, had suddenly become the little sister.

Ventus had grown, now about an inch or two taller than her. He was still shorter than most guys and much shorter than Terra, but when did that ever get him down? He looked very young for his actual age but he looked older than Aqua, which he was oddly thrilled about. He was still the same energetic boy she remembered. He still fell asleep outside when the weather was nice. And he was still addicted to waffles and ice cream.

Terra seemed to have grown completely out of boyhood. Well, almost. Outside, he was definitely a man now. There was not even the slightest hint of softness left on his features. Inside, though, were remnants of his younger self. He would still mess around with Ventus like he used to. He would argue with them over food. And he teased Aqua about the exact same things he did years ago. If anything, it was the rarity of his laughter nowadays that gave any indication of the years that had passed.

So there were many obvious changes. But their friendship, their feelings, the things that really mattered and made them who they were… None of it changed.

"Aqua? Are you coming or what?" Ventus yelled.

"Coming," she called, and hurriedly followed her friends.

Why they were at Destiny Islands, none of them could quite explain. It just felt like a good place to relax for while. Training could wait, becoming a Master could wait. They wanted to bond and, in a sense, catch up on the years they missed. Although, no one really wanted to talk about it. Ventus had nothing to say, having been asleep the entire time. Terra was too ashamed of what happened and of what he had done. And Aqua simply did not want them to know what she has been through.

And so they picked up where they left off, beginning with the last night they spent together. They recounted their journey – only the pleasant parts, though – and they talked about memories from the old days. They spoke of their Master, but very carefully, because it was a sensitive subject for Terra. They talked of the Land of Departure, but also warily, because that was a sensitive topic for Aqua.

And sometimes, it was troubling how many things they wanted to burn and bury, but there were also many things that they wanted to bring back to life.

Aqua, her train of thought derailed, closed her eyes as droplets of saltwater hit her face. "Hey!" she said, wiping them off, and looking at Ventus who had flung the water at her.

"You've done enough thinking," Ventus reprimanded. "Now get over here."

Her lips curled into something that was a frown and yet also a smile. "Who are you to tell me what to do?"

Terra chuckled softly, maybe for two or three seconds, and Aqua turned to frown at him. "Wbat?" she demanded.

"How does it feel, Master Aqua?" he asked, and Ventus burst into laughter.

Aqua ran at Terra, who was standing in calf-deep water, and tackled him down, laughing. "Oh, you'd like to know, wouldn't you?" she said as they grappled in the water. He was physically stronger than her, though, so it was only a matter of seconds before he was able to pin her down.

He leaned over her. "Yes, I would like to know," he whispered, but he was smiling so Aqua knew she had not accidentally said something offensive or out of line. She relaxed beneath him and sighed, smiling as well. He released her and they sat in the water.

Ventus was on the shore nearby, having spotted a crab, which he was now chasing. It would be an amusing and puzzling sight for a passerby – considering that Ventus looked older now – but for Terra and Aqua, he was still that kid who had yet to grow up. And in some ways, he was. His mind and heart hadn't quite caught up with his body.

And the thought of kids-yet-to-grow-up reminded Aqua of her first visit to Destiny Islands. She turned to Terra. "You told me, the other day, that it really was you who passed Riku the power of the Keyblade," she said.

Terra nodded.

"So, do you remember them when they were little? Him and Sora?"

"Yes. Sora was such a dork."

Despite herself, Aqua laughed, although she caught herself quickly and hit Terra on the arm. "You shouldn't say things like that."

"It's true, though," Terra said. "Anyway, why did you ask?"

She turned away from him. "When I met them, I thought… I tried to… Maybe if I…"

Terra was looking at her, and under his scrutiny she lost the courage to speak. He frowned at her broken sentences. "What is it, Aqua?"

"I made a lot of wrong decisions," she murmured.

"What are you talking about?"

Her thoughts were on that day, so many years ago. One of you might be special enough… One Keyblade is enough for any friendship… I wouldn't wish our lives on those children…
"Aqua?" Terra asked. "Are you alright?"

She shut her eyes tightly as her mistakes overwhelmed her. She could not even protect those boys. She tried, and failed miserably, like she always did. They grew up, they fought, they suffered…

Then, gradually, Terra's voice seemed to weaken and then fade completely. Even the sound of Ven shuffling across the sand was gone. Aqua suddenly felt cold and alone. She forced herself to open her eyes, and her heart stopped.

The water that lapped around her was black. The sky was no longer a reflection of the blue ocean, but rather a sea of sinister shadows. The sun had been replaced by a hazy white globe framed by black stone arches that looked like claws intending to rip it from the sky; intending to rid the shadowed world of even the faintest source of light.

She gasped, the cold air filling her lungs, biting her throat. And then, eyes shut tight once more, she screamed.

"Aqua!" Two voices called her name.

"What happened?" Over the agonized peals of her screaming, she could hear Ven. But she did not dare open her eyes, afraid of what she might see. Or, worse, what she might not see.

She felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her as her cries finally faded. "Aqua, what's wrong?" Terra sounded alarmed, frightened almost.

She trembled. "No… No, no, no…"

She grabbed onto Terra, her grip almost bruising his arms, but he did not stop her. "Aqua," he said, his voice softer, soothing. She could feel Ven beside her, too, his hand on her shoulder.

"Look at me, Aqua," Terra said.

She shook her head and he pulled her closer so that her head was pressed against his chest. She relaxed slightly, feeling his warmth and hearing his heartbeat.

"Aqua…" Ven murmured, comfortingly running his hand up and down her back.

It was a full minute, at least, before she mustered the courage to open her eyes, her face still buried in Terra's chest. "Terra… Ven…" she whispered.

"We're here," Ventus answered, his hand on her shoulder once more.

"What happened, Aqua?" Terra asked as she pulled away a little.

She warily studied her surroundings. The midday sun shone brightly overhead, the sky was clear blue and cloudless. The water was a medley of blues and greens. She breathed slowly, inhaling the scent of the sea, tasting the warmth of the tropical air.

She looked from Terra to Ventus, and then at her hands, which were shaking on her lap. They were waiting for her answer. "I… No… Nothing," she mumbled. She had imagined it. But it felt so real for a moment, as if she was trapped again.

"Spit it out, Aqua," Ven said, frowning with concern. "You don't scream like that and expect your friends to ignore it."

"Ven," Terra said, his tone admonitory, but not harsh. He brushed a tear from the corner of her eye before it had a chance to fall. Aqua did not even realize that she was beginning to cry. "She'll tell us when she's ready," Terra said softly. Aqua knew he understood her. They both had fears to hide and shame to fight down.

"I… I thought I lost you…" she choked out. It was the only explanation she could give and it was true, in a sense.

"What do you mean?" Ven asked.

She shook her head again and breathed deeply to calm herself. "It's nothing, really…"

Ventus intended to make a retort, but a sudden splash interrupted him. They turned towards the source and saw that a paopu fruit had fallen into the water from the tree nearby.

"Hmm," Terra hummed thoughtfully, and his two friends turned to him. He smirked at Aqua, taking the chance to change the subject. "You know, I didn't believe you at first, when you told me about those star-shaped fruits."

She frowned and opened her mouth to speak, but Terra shushed her. "I thought of you," he continued, "when I saw them. And I wished you were with me, just so you could smile at me and say 'I told you so.'"

Aqua laughed a little, her earlier fears allayed somewhat. "Do you think they work, though?" she asked, getting up from the water.

Terra and Ven followed her and they made their way up off the beach, across the bridge, and towards the tree. They gazed at it for a minute, all three of them pensive, before Aqua finally climbed onto its curving trunk, sitting there. Ven, too, hopped up onto it to sit on one side of Aqua, while Terra remained standing, leaning against the trunk on her other side.

They were all silent for a minute, overlooking the ocean. Aqua wondered whether the trio that mirrored them – Sora, Kairi, and Riku – once shared a paopu fruit. Maybe even while sitting on this very same tree, gazing out to sea, like she and her friends were doing now.

"What do you think they taste like?" Ven asked suddenly, and Aqua laughed. Leave it to Ven to ask the silliest of questions.

"I don't know," Aqua answered, looking up once more at the fruit.

"Do you want to find out?" Terra asked. Although without waiting for them to answer, he began to climb the tree.

"Terra!" Aqua called. "Be careful!"

He snorted. "Sure, Master Aqua."

She narrowed her eyes as Ven suppressed a laugh. It did not annoy her very much, but she still could not wait until they became Masters, too. It was her only hope of putting a stop to this nonsense. "I'm serious," she said as Terra reached for a fruit.

"I know," he said. He tugged at the nearest one and it came freely. He then half-slid, half-climbed down the trunk with the paopu fruit in hand.

Aqua and Ven curiously leaned closer, studying it. If one had to compare it to some other fruit, it was much like a deformed mango, really, except the skin was not so soft-looking. They stared at it for a good minute, absorbing its waxy, golden color.

"Now what?" Ven suddenly asked.

"Well… Legend says if we share it, our destinies become intertwined…" Aqua answered. "So… Should we?"

Terra leapt off the tree so he could stand in front of them. Then he broke off the fruit and gave each of them a piece. "Here goes nothing," he said.

Aqua nibbled on her piece, aware that beside her, Ventus was noisily munching away while Terra didn't even seem to be chewing.

"Hmm," Aqua murmured. It did not taste or even feel like she thought it would. It was crunchy, and very juicy. It had a mild, sweet taste behind which she could sense a pleasant sourness, the kind that made you want to take another bite.

And so the three of them finished the fruit in silence. When they were done, Ven hopped off the tree and studied Aqua and Terra. "Feel anything?" he asked.

Aqua shook her head, and Terra frowned, asking, "Are we supposed to?"

Ven shrugged, then placed his hands behind his head, grinning goofily. "We've done a lot of dumb things before, but this tops them all, I think."

And at the frown that Aqua was giving him, Ven suddenly raised and waved his hands defensively. "I meant, you know… It's just…"

"What?" she asked, raising her eyebrow expectantly.

"He's right, Aqua," Terra said, crossing his arms.

Aqua frowned at him, too, and Terra sighed. "Listen," he said. "I have no idea what was supposed to happen, or if we were supposed to feel anything at all. Maybe we weren't. But, if we were, then maybe the reason why nothing happened is because our destinies are already intertwined."

Her brows creased. "What do you mean?"

Both Ventus and Terra – who were clearly thinking the same thing – dug in their pockets and pulled out their Wayfinders; identical but for the color. "You tied us together, Aqua, remember?" Terra said as he and Ven held their charms out for her to see.

Aqua pulled out her charm as well, but the disheartened expression remained on her face. "I didn't tie us together… I drove us apart…"

And she honestly believed it. If she did not become a Master or if both she and Terra had earned the honor… If she had worked harder at protecting Ven or if she hadn't turned him away when he wanted to go with her…

"Aqua…" Two voices again, bringing her back to reality.

"It's true," she said. "I did drive us apart…"

"Stop it," Ven said, his tone just a bit harsh.

Aqua flinched. "No. It was my fault. Everything that happened to us, it was because of my mistakes. I…"

"Shut up," Terra suddenly said, taking her by the wrist and pulling her off the tree so she was standing with them. "Just shut up, Aqua," he murmured, in a strangely soothing way, as he touched her face.

Ven was smiling at her. "Do you remember what I said when you first gave us these charms?"

She thought back on that night.

"I get one, too?"

"Of course. One for each of us."

"I… You said…" she mumbled, her gaze at her feet.

"I asked if they weren't real good luck charms," Ven finished for her. "You told me that it was yet to be seen. But, you said you did work a little magic on it, right…?"

He was grinning as he held his Wayfinder in front of him, on his palm. Terra did the same.

"Look at us, Aqua," Terra said and he lifted her chin. She looked from Ventus to Terra, both of whom were smiling at her. "This – our unbreakable connection – is because of you…"

She slowly raised her Wayfinder, too, and now the triangle was complete. She felt a smile begin to tug at her lips and she slowly allowed it to surface, half-smiling now. "I -" she started.

"Yes, you," Terra said, smirking.

"And you know, after everything we've been through," Ventus said, "I would say our reunion is nothing short of a miracle. If that doesn't prove that these charms work, I don't know what will."

Terra nodded, and Aqua felt tears begin to brim her eyes. "Terra, Ven… I don't know what to say…"

And Terra laughed wholeheartedly for the first time in a long time. Ventus' eyes shone more brilliantly than they ever had before. And Aqua… The smile on her face was complete, genuine, and sincere.

For the first time in so long, everything felt right with the world and she allowed herself a moment to think that maybe – just maybe – her little bit of magic had something to do with it.


END

Thank You

~Alacquiene~