THE GLASS ON THE MANTLE.

Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts, AT&T, and the phone number mentioned in this story is TOTALLY RANDOM. Please don't call it and expect to talk to me (or Terra!), I just made it up.

Summary: Terra's given Ven a gift, a journal, in which Ven struggles with his troubled past. TerraVen. Past SeiferVen.

A quick warning: M for a reason. If you're looking for smut, this has a little bit (like a paragraph. I don't think it's very graphic) at the end and you can scroll down and look for it. But it's M for other reasons.


One.

I don't know how to start this. Terra said just to write whatever came to mind. I don't know. I've got nothing on my mind. Well, besides sex. What guy doesn't have sex on his mind?

It's not that I don't want to write stuff down. It'd make Terra happy. I just think this is a shit idea.

It's therapy. Writing therapy. I didn't even know there was writing therapy. Apparently there is. It's not as if I'm a crazy person or anything like that, but sometimes I just can't get the words out. The right words out, at least. I just don't talk about that time of my life. Terra knows it, too, which is why I think he thinks this is such a good idea.

He just came home one day with this journal. It's not girly or anything. It's black. Leathery. Kind of professional looking, like a planner or something.

It does have a lock. Terra told me he wasn't going to look or read anything unless I said it was okay, but I know he got one with a lock because sometimes it's hard for me to believe him.

God, I sound like some prissy asshat. "It's so hard for me to believe him" my ass. It's my fault. Terra would give me some stupid speech if he heard me say that, but it's my own fault. Terra has never done anything to warrant my distrust, but I don't really trust him. It's not him, it's me. I don't really trust people. Not after what happened.

It's not like it was a big deal. I think that's why I don't like to talk about it. Everyone treats it like such a HUGE fucking thing! It's not, okay? It wasn't good but what happened happened and no one can go back and fix it!

I mean, it was bad. I can agree, looking back now, that the whole relationship was just bad. But I'm still a bit sympathetic, you know? I loved him. It wasn't a good relationship, but I loved him all the same. I think I always will.

Nothing would have changed if I hadn't met Terra. Part of me is really grateful for everything Terra has done for me. He's done so much for me.

The other part of me is distrusting and bitter about it. About everything, I guess. Terra says he understands, but sometimes I think he's lying and struggling just as much as me.

God, the boy loves me. I don't deserve it. I don't deserve someone like him. He'd probably say the same damn thing about me, but I don't think he knows what he's talking about.

Terra isn't a hottie, okay? I don't know how to phrase it politely. I mean, I really care about Terra. Like I do. A lot. It's not love yet. I don't know, I don't even know if I ever knew what love was. Maybe what I feel for Terra is love and I just have no idea. Whatever.

The point is, he's kind. Terra is so good to me. I'm… antisocial? Sure, I'm the hottie in our relationship and I'm the one that turns heads when we go out but I'm not very nice. Or kind. Or good for much at all besides what I do laying on my back.

Terra would give me another lecture if he read that. It's true, though. I'm still working on some of my Terra-entitled "self-esteem issues."

Terra said I should just take a step back and try to look at everything from a distance and maybe that would make things easier to talk about.

Looking back at my life, I mean. I don't know, Terra likes theoretical bullshit like that. I'm more of a hands-on type guy. Maybe that's why he's having me write it down? I don't know. This is hard. It's really fucking hard. I think I'm done for right now.

Two.

Hi, my name's Ventus. Call me Ven because Ventus is a shitty name. And I'm a gay, gay man. Boy. Male. Whatever.

I think it started when I was little. The gayness, I mean.

I was always close with my mom and dad. As an only child, one tends to be. I always helped mom cook dinner. Me and Dad always played soccer wherever and whenever we could.

We loved to travel. Dad's job required it. I was homeschooled when I was young, so we'd all go to the place dad needed to go. Just up and move like the nomads we were. We lived everywhere! Mom and I would travel around like nerdy tourists and learn stuff where ever we were. Museums were my school and gardens were my playground.

It was fun. I'll never, ever regret not going to public school as a child. I didn't have many friends when I was young, though, because we moved around so often. We called small town, USA home. Most of the kids I hung around with were acquaintances that also travelled all the time and I kept up with them through email and phone calls.

But mom and dad are from the south. Don't get me wrong, I love the south. It's warm and people are nice and everything's laid back. However, southern adults are not very tolerant of the gay folk. Not that they cuss and yell at them, but it's just not really approved of. The look down on gay people and kind of— I don't know how to describe it. It's mean, but it's not outright discrimination. It's a "you do your thing but not in public or near children—actually just pretend you're straight" relationship. As long as they never see it and can pretend it's not happening, they're okay with it.

Maybe it has to do with God. I don't know. I do believe in God. My mom and dad are Baptists. Southern Baptists. And it's all good but at thirteen years old you don't need to hear that you're going to burn in hell for staring at that one cute boy's bum.

I'm still religious. God's the one that gets to judge us all in the end, and His opinion is the only one that matters to me.

Mom and dad, though. When I was fifteen, I told them I was gay. I don't really look back on my gay-day with fondness.

Mom was horrified and dad was furious. I mean, they're the ones who said they'd always love me. But oh, they hurt me. Bad. The disappointed looks. The gradual avoidance. The talks with the pastors, for heaven's sake!

Mom sometimes won't even refer to me as her son. Like I'm just this gender-neutral entity! Because boys just cannot like boys. I've heard her call me a shemale.

I've heard her and dad both wonder what they did wrong. They didn't do anything wrong! It's not fucking wrong! In my opinion, it's all about love and that sort of shit. It's like, crazy.

Heterosexual boys that screw lots of girls are "cool." Heterosexual girls that screw lots of boys are sluts. But homosexual boys, regardless of their getting-laid status, are freaky child molester perverts. And lesbians? I don't even think my mother knows lesbians exist. I think it might give her a heart attack.

I can't even tell you how I struggled with my sexuality. Finally telling them was the hardest thing I've ever done. I kind of just spit it out earlier, the fact that I told them. It was a torturous process.

My gay-day is January sixth. I was gunning for the first, as a kind of New Year's resolution.

I was so terrified they'd hate me. That they'd be disgusted with me and never want to see me again and kick me out of the rental house and never want to hear from me again. I cried a lot. I cried myself to sleep for most of the month of December.

I remember praying to God, being like, "God, they're going to hate me. I don't know what to do. I'm so scared. I'm so scared." But God doesn't really answer prayers directly, you know, he's more subtle and stuff. And Godly.

So I had this idea just come to me out of the blue—to tell them on New Year's Day. It is kind of the day for turning over a new leaf and that sort of fluffy thing.

I agonized over it, though. How do you begin that kind of conversation? Do you just bring it up? Be like, GUESS WHAT MOM AND DAD? I LOVE COCK! NOM NOM.

I didn't be like "I love cock", though. I wasn't sure if I should approach different topics first or bring it up at dinner or if I should approach my parents one at a time. I had no idea.

So a couple days after the first we were all sitting around watching the news and I just blurt out: I'm gay.

And mom and dad turned to me and just stared. And I blushed, of course, but repeated it. And then dad turned red and got this angry expression on his face and mom was a little flushed herself.

I got a lecture about AIDS and HIV and condoms and filthy perverts. As in, I was a filthy pervert. I was only fifteen! Not much time to be a filthy pervert, just sayin'!

So I stormed from the room after dad's rant was over and locked myself in my room and cried.

Mom came up and knocked. I let her in. She asked how I knew. I'd never dated any girls or boys, how could I know?

Don't you just know? When you're straight, you don't have to be a slut to know! You just fucking know!

I said earlier I wasn't apologetic. I lied. I cried with my mom. I apologized profusely. She told me she was disappointed. Oh, God. To hear your mom call you a disappointment is the worst thing ever.

I'm stopping. I can't—I need Terra.

Three.

I'm a runaway, too. I ran away from my parents when I was fifteen and a half. So the summer after I told them I was gay. I was sick of the looks and the talks and our house was just this gloomy atmosphere of their disappointment and my bitterness.

I left them a note. I actually talked to mom about it. Told her I was leaving and she said it was a good idea. She paid for the one way ticket to California.

I didn't take much with me—we're nomads, we didn't have anything that couldn't fit in a suitcase.

So I flew to southern Cali and slept on the beach for a few nights.

And then I met Seifer.

Seifer. I haven't seen his name in awhile. God, Seifer. He was my first everything. I thought I loved him, I really did. Terra says I did, but he really fucking hates Seifer.

Yeah, Seifer was an asshole. He was my asshole, though. I don't even know where to start with Seifer. I'll come back to it.

Four.

Seifer. He probably played the biggest role in my gay life. The beginning of it, at least. He's the reason I'm writing in a journal instead of just simply talking to Terra. He's the reason I don't trust people. He's the reason that sometimes I wake up, shaking and terrified, with Terra's arms around me.

God. Seifer. Seifer. How do I even start this? You probably have some idea of what happened and what went down, but Terra really wants me to get the whole thing written out somewhere so I can get it out of my head. I told you he said crazy philosophical shit sometimes. I don't think I'm going to be able to just blurt it all out. I think it's gonna get a little crazy in hurr.

Okay. His full name is Seifer Almasy. He's two years older than me. So, when we met I was fifteen, he was seventeen.

He was so damn cute, okay! He was. I always thought he was. He had the most ridiculously adorable obsession with hats. I always as like, "babe, why don't you just get a haircut if you don't like your hair?" And he was always like "grump grump fuck off about the fucking hats." He was sensitive about the shape of his head! The stupidest thing ever. Who goes around and says, "Wow! That's one crazy shaped head!" NO ONE. No one does that sort of thing. He could be such a baby, sometimes. The hats were a little endearing, though, and it was always easy to shop for him. Ha ha!

We met because I was resting on the beach with my backpack as a pillow and my suitcase next to me. I don't know why God had me met Seifer. I don't know if I would have made it in Cali without him, and I never would have met Terra, but still. Isn't God supposed to look out for us and stuff?

That's not fair. I think—no, I knew what Seifer was when we met. He was smoking! Seventeen and smoking—which is illegal, anyway—but he wasn't smoking cigarettes. I didn't know that then, but I'd say I know the smell of marijuana by now.

So there I was, fifteen and alone in Cali with nowhere to go, nowhere to be, nothing to do. I was still a bit torn up about leaving my parents. Vulnerable much? I think so.

And then Seifer—who in California wears a white leather coat and a hat in the middle of summer—comes up and sits next to me. And I was like, the hell? I don't want him smoking near me! So I got up and dragged my backpack and suitcase maybe fifty feet away. And that little bitch! He just smirked and moved!

And we played this little chase game for maybe ten minutes before I gave up.

"What do you want?" I asked him.

Seifer said "YOUR HOT BOD!"

Okay, no, he didn't say that.

Seifer (for real, this time): "…"

Exactly. He said nothing. He just took a drag of his joint and breathed smoke like a dragon. He looked at me and smirked, then turned his gaze to the ocean.

Of course, me being me, I was not one to take his silence as an answer.

"So you follow me around for ten minutes and then can't find anything to say?"

And then Seifer laughed. It was the laugh of the very high. And he said, "Come with me."

And I said, "No way, you're crazy and high!"

And he said, "Come with me." Again. And then he got up and dusted the sand from his coat (not from his pants, you ask? Seifer is a weird person, okay? That coat is like God to him.) and looked expectantly at me.

So I followed him.

OKAY. WAIT. Ven, you say, Ven, you're an idiot. You followed a crazy high man into the unknown! You want to get raped? You've been whining this whole time and it's your fault in the first place!

Look, I say. Look, it's my story. And we're not done yet! So gimme a damn break, okay? Seifer isn't stupid. He didn't take me to some brothel or sell me into slavery or anything like that. He took me to his house. Yes, his house. Where his parents were. And he informed them that I was homeless and cute and was going to be living with them for the unforeseen future. And they were like, "Okay, cool."

Yeah. I can't even make that stuff up. It was weird. Weeeird. Our conversation went something like this:

Mrs. Almasy: "So what's your name?"

Me: "Ventus."

Seifer: "Ventus is a fucking retarded name."

Me: "Nobody asked you."

Seifer: "I'm calling you Ven."

Me: "Fine."

Mrs. Almasy: "Honey, you should ask someone's name before you bring them home with you."

Mr. Almasy: "Especially if you want to get laid!"

Mrs. Almasy and Mr. Almasy: *giggle giggle snicker*

Seifer: "By the way, I need more money."

Mrs. Almasy: "No, stop buying so much pot."

Seifer: *le sigh*

Yes. That was how it went. Mr. Almasy helped me drag my suitcase up the stairs and Mrs. Almasy got the guest room ready for me and all of a sudden I was a resident of the Almasy household. It was truly bizarre. Mrs. Almasy enrolled me in the same high school as Seifer. Seifer was a junior and I was a sophomore. We spent the rest of the summer just hanging out. He showed me around, introduced me to his friends, took me to his favorite places. He never invited me along, per se, but it was so heavily implied he might as well have been. Seifer's cute like that. He can't straight up say stuff. He has to maintain his BAMF image. And we just became friends so easily; we just meshed. I found his attempted bravado amusing, and he found me cute and molestable.

It's also why I think I stayed with Seifer for so long. It wasn't… ugh, I don't know. It wasn't all bad. At the beginning, it was good. Really good. Like, great. He made me happy. And I made him happy, too. And we really liked one another. And then, damn. I don't know. We just got lost on the way. He got lost, I got lost. We were just in a bad spot. But Terra found me and took me away.

I do worry about Seifer, sometimes. A lot more than I'd admit to Terra. He's a good guy. He just made some very, very poor decisions. I don't want to be with him anymore. I… I really like Terra a lot. A lot more than I ever thought I could ever like someone. We just fit together. And Terra never pressures me or questions me. He just lets me come to him. I think I might love him.

Five.

There was one time, shortly after Life with the Almasys began to air in my life, that Seifer and I were walking down the beach and we passed the place where he found me. I asked him why he came to the beach that day. He shrugged and said he never knew why he did what he did when he was high. He was lying, though, because later one of his friends told me they'd both seen me earlier that day. Seifer came back for me because he thought I was cute. It warmed my heart a bit.

We started dating maybe three months after the premiere of Life with the Almasys. His mom and dad were cool with it (they had their own stash. I'm one hundred percent sure I was the only sober one in that household.) and Seifer was forever sneaking into the guest room and sleeping with me.

Yes, by sleeping with me I do mean having sex as well as the physically sleeping in the same bed part.

I liked him a lot, and he wanted it. Me. A lot. I wanted to give him what he wanted because he'd been so kind to me. Terra thinks I wasn't ready. I probably wasn't, but it happened. It was never rape or anything, but sometimes I would have rather not. Terra says… he says that later it was rape. But I just… nevermind. Later.

Anyway, once I started school I met a bunch more of Seifer's friends. I lived with Seifer. I went to school with Seifer. All of his friends automatically became my friends because I was so obviously "the boss's" main squeeze.

It felt good, I won't lie. Seifer's power gave me some power. I adjusted to school prettily easily. I did pretty average. Not all A's, mostly B's. Better than most of Seifer's gang.

It started small, with a quick "hey babe, I'm going out. Can you check my math homework for me?"

And I did, of course. Why wouldn't I? I wanted Seifer to succeed!

I checked it. And he kept coming back. And looking back now it was obvious that Seifer stopped trying after awhile. He just scribbled shit down and expected me to correct it for him. And by the time I was a junior I was writing his papers for him, doing his projects, that sort of thing.

I didn't mind. How could I mind? Seifer had given me a place to live. Introduced me to his friends. And then—damn.

I asked him something one day. I don't even remember my question. But he responded with "Because I love you." And… and I was just…

After I left mom and dad, I'd been so afraid that no one would ever love me again. I was gay, after all, and apparently an abomination in the eyes of the people that were supposed to love me the most. And of course I believed Seifer. I was just… naïve and so, so ecstatic to hear those words.

But Seifer was so popular. I was worried he wouldn't love me forever—he was going to college, after all. He'd applied and everything. And he was going to leave me behind. Would I still be welcome in the Almasy household? I had no idea. So I was just trying to please him. Do everything and anything for him because I absolutely worshipped him. I loved him. I was so in love with him.

Seifer knew that, of course. He knew and he'd ask me to do things. Small things that became large things very quickly. Large things that ended up being dangerous and very illegal by the time I was in college.

Of course I went to the same college as Seifer! I couldn't wait to follow him. He kept up the relationship with me. I took the bus to see him every Saturday when I was a senior and he was a freshman (Fridays were friend nights) and he'd fuck me all night and well into the morning and then send me off.

Did he fuck other people during the week? I'm almost positive of it, now. But then? I was so smitten. Seifer could literally do no wrong.

The hitting started that year. Seifer… he was doing some pretty hard drugs that year. I know this because the next year, when I was in college too, he had me meet up with his dealer for him. And I did it because he asked me to. I'm so fucking dumb. Such a dumb blonde.

He'd just get angry at me for the smallest shit. I'd be late to meet him on Saturday or I'd have done something wrong and sometimes I'm pretty sure I didn't even do anything at all. He'd just yell at me. Call me a whore and a bitch and smack my face with his cock and demand I suck it and take it like the little pussy I was.

I loved him, okay? He was mean and spiteful but I always could picture the seventeen year old blonde who let me borrow the coat when I was freezing after speed-eating the sea salt ice cream he bought for me on our third date. I couldn't—wouldn't—give up on him. Ever.

His friends didn't care. They knew, of course, but Seifer's the boss. Even some of the upperclassman just folded when it came to Seifer. He was just like that. And I so innocently believed I was Seifer's only squeeze—that I was Seifer's boyfriend. Like… like he cared about me. I know he cared about me on some level, but he didn't love me anymore.

I don't think he lied when he told me he loved me the first time. He maybe did. I don't know. It hurts to think about him using me even from the moment he met me. I was just… vulnerable. And cute. Seifer would never pass that up.

Six.

I met Terra for the first time when I was a senior in high school. I don't remember meeting him, but Terra swears it. I was on the bus, heading back home after seeing Seifer. I was a bit bruised—my wrists mostly. I was standing because there weren't any seats left, apparently clinging onto the railing like my life depended on it.

Terra said it was love at first sight. He tells me I'm the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. He was on the same bus and swears that he poked my shoulder and offered me his seat. I gratefully took it, and winced as I sat down. Seifer must have been rough, I guess. When I told Terra that after he described the scene, he was just furious. He grabbed my chin and gazed intensely into my eyes like I was the most precious thing in the world and why the hell would Seifer ever have been rough with me?

Terra does things like that sometimes. I don't mind. It makes me feel… kinda special.

Terra… he's older than me. He's the same age as Seifer.

Okay. When I went to college, I wasn't rooming with Seifer. I wanted to, but Seifer said he wanted to room with the same people again and yadda yadda. Because making Seifer happy was my goal in life, I acquiesced pretty easily and entered the random lottery.

Hayner was my roommate, and he hated, and I mean hated Seifer. Hayner was the first person to care about my relationship.

At this point, Seifer and I had been dating for about three years. Seifer was my first relationship, of course, so I had no idea how most relationships went.

Hayner was livid when he found out I had bruises. He suspected Seifer immediately, and correctly, and wanted to break me out of "my abusive, hellish world," in his words.

I didn't want to. I didn't think Seifer was doing anything wrong. I loved him, it was okay. As long as he was happy.

And Hayner went on rants about my happiness and how I wasn't allowed to go out to parties with him and how I wasn't allowed to get other boys' numbers and how before I could send text messages I had to send them to Seifer, first. Seifer was just protecting me, I argued.

"HE'S A DOMINATING BASTARD!" Hayner had screamed. "He hurts you!"

And I cried. Because Hayner was right, but I had no idea what to do. How could I leave Seifer? I loved him. He needed me—he told me that. He loved me too. And I needed him too.

Hayner said I should go talk to someone. I didn't want to. Then his birthday rolled around and I asked him what he wanted and he wanted me to go talk to someone. And so I did.

There I was, little cute me, standing in front on the LGBT office. I begged Hayner to come with me because I was terrified.

A secretary at the front desk looked up at me and smiled. "Can I help you?"

And instead of responding like a normal person I started trembling and hyperventilating and I tugged my arm out of Hayner's grip and ran away.

I left the building and sprinted as fast as I could away. I shoved myself down an unused alley between two buildings. I called Seifer immediately, in tears, and begged him to come and get me.

I think… I think it all sank in when he said he couldn't. And he hung up. I was left staring at my phone, fresh tears leaking out of my eyes. I huddled between the two buildings and drew my knees into my chest.

"I need you." I whispered. I think I was talking to God.

I don't know how long I stayed there. It felt like days. I cried myself out. I called Seifer again, several times. He didn't pick up.

Seven.

Hayner didn't say anything to me when I got back to our dorm room. He took one look at my face and whipped up a glass of hot chocolate and shoved it under my nose.

"Thanks." I mumbled. He nodded, shoving a blanket my direction. I smiled weakly. The blanket was white and reminded me of Seifer's coat, so I wrapped it around my shoulders and sighed. It didn't smell like Seifer. I grabbed my phone and sent Seifer a quick text. I spent maybe twenty minutes just staring at it, waiting for a reply. I didn't realize I was crying again until a box of tissues hit the wall next to my head. I sniffled and looked at Hayner, but he was typing furiously on his computer.

"Thanks."

Hayner shrugged.

I fiddled with the edge of the blanket and decided to try a conversation. "Sorry it didn't go well."

Hayner snorted. "'Didn't go well' is an understatement."

I didn't reply. Hayner sighed and back away from his computer, looking at me. "Look, Ven. This thing with Seifer isn't healthy. He's an asshole. Everyone knows he's an asshole. He's not good for you."

I didn't reply.

"There are plenty of guys out there! I'm not saying me, or anything, but even that secretary at the gay place thought you were cute and she was a lesbo."

I shrugged. "They aren't Seifer."

"Yeah, maybe you'd start seeing an actual decent human being."

It didn't matter what Hayner said. I didn't think I could leave Seifer if I tried.

Eight.

The second time I met Terra… the time I remember... We were at the bus stop.

Terra went to the same university as Seifer and me, so really it was no surprise we ended up running into one another more than once.

Terra is very tall. Seifer's tall, too. Maybe I'm just short?

So I was waiting on the bus, tapping through different applications on my phone. Just bored. Checking facebook. Checking twitter.

There's bus etiquette. Okay. Imma draw some pictures.

_ Okay, that's the length of the bench at the bus stop, right?

X_ I was sitting at the X. When someone else arrives, they ALWAYS sit in the seat far away from you unless they already know you. At the O. X_O.

Right? It's just what people do. Then the third person can squeeze in the middle. Sometimes, if people are all are small like me, four people can fit on the bench.

But Terra missed the memo. Oh, Terra. Remember, I had no idea who this guy was, and he sits, like, two inches away from me on an otherwise empty bench. Of course I glanced up and gave him a weird look. He just grinned at me and started talking.

"Hey."

I turned my attention back to my phone. "Hi."

And so Terra talked to me and stuff. He wasn't overwhelming or anything like that, just friendly. By the time the bus rolled around, I had warmed up to him significantly.

The pattern continued. We'd always end up waiting for the same 2:05 bus because we both had a class at 2:30.

Over the course of my first semester at college, I grew to really like Terra. I could tell that he wanted to hang out with me more often than just at the bus stop, but I didn't really want to. Because I had Seifer.

Terra asked me almost constantly if he could have my number so we could meet up. I always politely turned him down.

On the last day of the semester, Terra got really frustrated.

"We're not going to be able to see each other again if we don't exchange numbers! How else will I get up with you? Why won't you give me your number? Will you at least take mine?"

I shook my head no. Terra looked so irritated. "Why?"

And then I attempted to explain my relationship. "My boyfriend is really jealous. I don't want him to get upset over something like that."

"It's just a phone number."

"It would matter to him."

"One number? Really? How do you expect to keep up with all the people you meet when you won't take their numbers?"

I didn't reply. I didn't know. I didn't really think about it. I had Seifer, and that's all I needed. I told him so.

"He doesn't control your life!"

"I love him."

Terra sulked for a moment. "What's his name? Maybe I know him. Maybe he wouldn't care."

I smiled. If Seifer said it was okay, I wouldn't mind seeing Terra again. "Seifer Almasy."

And Terra stared. He stared at me like I was an alien, gaping. And then the bus came. I shrugged and got on. He followed, rather slowly, and sat down next to me.

"Do you know him?" I asked.

"Do I know him." Terra ground his teeth together. "Yes, yes I know him."

I smiled. "So maybe he would be okay—"

Terra shook his head no, this time. "He doesn't like me."

"Oh." I replied. "I wonder why not?"

Terra laughed, rather darkly. "It's a long story. Look," he turned to me. Terra has a way of capturing my attention; I don't know how he does it. "If you need me, I want you to know my number. Just in case."

I blinked. "Just in case, what? I have a social emergency?" My lips twitched into a small smile. His didn't.

"345-6545." Terra stated. "You should really memorize it."

"Terra, if I have an emergency, I'm going to call 911."

"Please, Ven. Just humor me?"

I rolled my eyes. "Whatever. Repeat it?"

And he did, drilling his number into my head for the rest of the bus ride even after I could repeat it perfectly.

Nine.

I didn't ever think I need Terra's number. Ever. I was wrong.

I didn't need him over Christmas break. Seifer and I drove home together, singing badly to radio Christmas carols. We had a good holiday season. I got him a new beanie. He didn't get me anything, but instead took me out to dinner at one of my favorite local places. It was nice. It'd been awhile since we'd just talked. I felt like Seifer had been distant ever since he started college. But during that break he was more like his old self than I imagined possible. It was a really good time, good enough to get me through my second semester.

Then summer came. Seifer moved to an apartment with some friends. I lived with him over the summer, working as a waiter.

I was nineteen, Seifer turned twenty-one. It was when he turned twenty-one. After that party, I needed Terra.

Seifer was drunk, okay? He was really, really wasted. Beyond what was normal for him. It wasn't like he'd never had alcohol before, but he just went all out on his birthday. And his friends were right there with him.

I had to work late that Friday (of course I did. The Almasys, bless them, helped me through my freshman year. But I couldn't stay dependent on them forever—I'd gotten a campus job almost immediately after arriving—but over the summer I was working full-time.) so I came home to the party late, like maybe 3 or 4 am.

Only Seifer's male friends were still milling about. And Seifer took one look at me in my cute waiter uniform and decided he wanted to share. Me. With his friends.

I didn't understand, of course. He asked me, "hey, babe, will you do something for me? For my birthday? Please?" And I melted. I'd missed most of his party and hadn't found a gift I liked yet.

"Of course, Seifer. What do you want?"

Dumb, dumb blonde. DUMB.

I don't want to talk about it right now, exactly what happened. I'm sure you get the gist. Cute nineteen year old around ten older guys. Horny and drunk guys.I didn't stand a chance.

After they all finished with me, I was a mess. I said no, okay? When I figured out what Seifer was asking for, I said no and every safety word I could think of. Seifer just laughed his drunken high laugh while everyone did their thing. And he joined in on it, too.

They had all passed out around seven am. I was shaken, bruised, bleeding, terrified, and heartbroken. I didn't know who to call. I didn't want to call 911 because of the police. I still loved Seifer. I didn't want him to get in trouble, but I wanted—needed—to get away.

I hauled my spunked and bloody self into Seifer's room. I packed everything I owned as quietly as I could. I didn't dare take a shower—what if they woke up? What would they do? I needed to get away pronto. I'd run away before, I could easily do it again.

I had no car—no driver's license, either. I wanted to take a shower. Badly. I didn't want them to wake up. Oh, God, I was so scared. I couldn't think straight. I could barely walk because my ass hurt so bad and my legs would tremble and my entire spine was stiffened in pain.

I couldn't call Hayner. I knew he lived pretty far from campus. And then I remembered Terra and my tears turned to those of relief.

I got my suitcase and backpack out into the hall and down the stairs. Even though I was in pain, I hightailed it to the nearest gas station, the one around the corner. I dialed the number drilled previously into my head.

"Hello?" I'd never been so happy to hear someone's sleepy voice.

"I need you." I whispered into the phone.

"Ven? Ven! Fuck. Where are you? Are you alright? I'm coming, right now. Hang on. On my way. Where are you?"

"The gas station. Near Hue Complex." I was still whispering, voice now wavering. I was behind the gas station, pressed against the walls at seven-twenty in the morning, scared out of my mind. If they drove by, they wouldn't see me. No one would see me. I had squeezed my body between the propane tank refills and the wall.

"The BP?"

"Yes."

"Five minutes. Five minutes, hon."

"Will you…" I tapered off, staring down at my clothes. I hadn't even bothered to clean myself up. I just wanted to get away so badly I'd thrown on my ripped uniform from last night rather than searching for something else.

"Will I what?"

"…Stay on the phone? With me?"

"Yes. Yes, of course. I'm here, Ven, it's alright. It's going to be okay. I'm coming right now."

I didn't even reply, just listened to the comforting sound of his voice instead of the words he was saying. I was lost in my own thoughts and I didn't even notice where I was until Terra bent down beside me. I didn't know it was him, though, and I flinched away with a terrified gasp.

His face looked so pained. "It's me. It's okay." He held out his arms and I dragged myself out of my hiding spot and fell into them, sobbing.

I don't even know what happened. I hardly remember the rest of that day. I was shaking and scared and I'm pretty sure I threw up a couple times—maybe in Terra's car, even.

But he never yelled or got mad. I remember that. I was so scared he would get mad and not help me and hurt me, too. I apologized profusely and continuously for everything. Terra just held me and whispered that it wasn't my fault, but it was and I knew it. I dated Seifer in the first place. I told him that, I think, and he kissed my head and said Seifer didn't deserve someone like me.

Terra cleaned me up and gave me pain meds and let me sleep in his bed. I was so exhausted I slept for an entire day.

Ten.

They raped me. Gang-raped. Seifer let them.

I don't know why it was so hard to write. I have trouble with words, sometimes. "When you write it, you have to acknowledge it and yadda yadda brain waves." Terra would say.

Terra took really good care of me. Still does. He called my boss and explained that I'd been hurt. He took me to the hospital and had me patched up. He found me a therapist. He paid for it all.

God, Terra. He saved my life. He really did.

He gave up his bed and slept on the couch, even though he spent half the night comforting me because I had night terrors. I don't even know how many shirts of his I ruined with tears.

But I was afraid of him. I was afraid of everyone. If he moved to fast, or surprised me, I'd jump in alarm and pull away. He was so careful with me. He still is, a bit.

Once Seifer figured out what I'd done, he called constantly. He left me angry voice messages and sent me horrible, threatening text messages describing the things he'd do when he found me.

Terra found out about the calls and texts, of course. I was crying on day, just staring at my phone. It buzzed with a call and I shivered. Terra noticed, walked over, scooped my phone up, pressed it to his ear, and then crushed it in his fist. Literally. There went my phone.

Then he took me to AT&T and added me to his plan and got me the latest iPhone. And he was delighted, like he hadn't just crushed my phone into millions of tiny pieces.

He didn't confront me about Seifer. He didn't have too. I came to him. I told him how scared I was. How I didn't want Seifer to find me.

You know what Terra did? He, somehow in only three hours, transferred us from the California campus to a branch in Phoenix, Arizona.

I was so shocked. I wasn't expecting a move. I guess part of me was scared to leave Seifer and California behind, but Terra said it would really be for the best.

He's from Arizona. Came to California for school because he got an engineering scholarship. I was scared he'd have to give it up.

He said I was worth it.

Terra is always saying romantic shit like that. Makes me blush. It's ridiculous. I think he just likes watching my face burn.

So we packed up all his stuff and loaded it into his car and forged ahead to Arizona.

Funnest. Roadtrip. Ever. It reminded me of what I loved about travelling as a child. The company, mostly.

Terra… he means the world to me. I think I love him, I really do, because he just makes my heart dance and flutter and he makes me feel like I'm worth something.

Our first year in Arizona went well. My sophomore year was good, Terra's junior year was good. (He got me into engineering! Dumb little me! I'm not a mechanical engineer, like he is. I'm a biological engineer. Terra helps me pass my calculus classes. And differential equations. Fuck DE.)

We started dating the Christmas after that summer. Because I didn't have any money and Terra knew. I was so frantic about what to get him because I had seen what he bought for me. He got me a fucking Macbook Pro and an iPad. How could I compete? What could I do?

I think Terra figured out pretty quickly that I was stressing. He took me aside one day and told me he already had everything he wanted because I was safe and happy. Really, how could anyone ever pass up a boy like him? He's too sweet.

He calls me "honey" and "baby" and sometimes I want to smack him.

When we had sex for the first time, Terra was amazing. I was nervous but I wanted him. And he gave me the most fantastic blowjob I've ever had and rimmed me until I came. Twice. And then when I had recovered he flipped us over so I was on top of him. He even asked me if I would like to top! I was just like, "Terra. I want you inside me." And he was like "Fuck, Ven. I love you." And I started crying and then apologized for crying in the middle of sex and Terra told me to shut up because we weren't having sex, we were making love. I cried harder and rode him until I came again and he still hadn't and I was like, oh God, am I no good? And he confessed that he wanted this to be amazing for me and was holding back and I was like, "You idiot, of course you can come. I want you to." So he did.

I never asked him why he and Seifer didn't get along. I figured it out pretty quickly. I might be blonde, but Terra had loved me from afar for so long I'd have to be an idiot not to pick up on that.

It's been a year since I left Seifer. Literally. Terra bought me this a year to the day we left for Arizona. Sometimes I feel like I should be getting over him faster, but Terra says I'm doing just fine.

I think he bought me this as a way I can see how much I've grown. I think I have, because I have hope. His name is Terra.


A/N: There needs to be more TerraxVen love. And yes, this tumbled out instead of an update for my WIP. I don't regret it.