Set in the Land of Departure.
A breather of sorts, I suppose.
DISCLAIMER [I do not own Kingdom Hearts] DISCLAIMER
Do you think about what you say?
Terra paced back and forth on the Summit, listening to the brush of his boots against the grass, and to the wind skirting around him. He tried to focus on whatever warmth was left in the air as the sun began to set. He has been having a horrible day.
The Master was terribly disappointed with him because of his lackluster performance during training. And he had upset Ventus, and probably broken the boy's sensitive heart, by saying some rather callous words. The only person he had yet to hurt was Aqua, and that was only because she was excused from training since the Master wanted her to research about something in the library.
He shut his eyes, pressing his hand against his forehead in frustration. Everyone had off days, he knows that. But he has been having so many of them lately. He stopped pacing and turned towards the setting sun, wondering if he should go find Aqua. He wanted to. He loved being around her. Although, he was not exactly keen on seeing the only person left in this world that he has not upset yet. What if he ended up hurting her, too?
Avoiding her for the rest of the day would be best.
He flinched; so much for avoiding her. "Aqua…" he answered, without turning around. Her voice was a little icy, and he had a feeling that he was not going to like what she was about to say.
He heard her walk closer, the sound of her footsteps similar to the one his own feet were making earlier, except hers was softer and more rhythmic somehow.
"Look at me, please," she said, and Terra knows she is right behind him now. He hesitated, unsure whether he wanted to see the expression that matched the tone of voice she was using.
"Terra," she said again, and Terra sighed as he turned around.
His heart fell. Her jaw was clenched, her lips pressed into a thin line. The faintest creases lay between her eyebrows as they were furrowed. And there was a faint shadow in her normally brilliant eyes. Terra frowned, looking away from her. How is it that she was already upset with him, even though this is the first time he saw her today? What was wrong with him?
"Terra…" she said, and he could tell that she was trying to soften her voice and her features. "About what you said to Ven…"
He clenched his fists. This was what she was planning to do? Reprimand him? "I don't need you to scold me, Aqua," he hissed. "The Master already did that."
She looked sadly up at him. "Well, it clearly isn't enough. You haven't apologized to Ven."
His knuckles whitened from the pressure of his clenched fists. He refused to look at her, refused to say anything, and she went on. "You're hurting him, Terra. He looked so heartbroken, and I'm not sure you realize it. You have to learn to watch what you say. You need to be more conscious of what you do around Ven. He looks up to you, and sometimes you aren't providing him with the best examples."
And for some reason, that simple line made all his self-control snap. "Are you done?" he barked, his gaze now right on hers.
Her eyes narrowed very slightly, obviously not liking his tone.
"You have a way with insults, you know that?" he said.
"Here you are, telling me to watch my words and my actions around Ven. How about you? Do you think about what you say? Do you ever listen to yourself, Aqua? Do you have any idea that the things you say are…" He let his voice fade away, his fists shaking at his sides.
"Terra…" she murmured, reaching out to touch him.
He took a step back. "Why, Aqua? Why do you see only the negative things? Why do you keep pointing out my flaws, as if I don't know them, as if I don't get enough of this from the Master? Who do you think you are?"
She flinched at his words. "Terra, I was only…"
"No!" he shouted. "I don't want to hear any more of your insults. Leave me alone."
He brushed past her, shaking off her hold when she reached for his arm, and left her there. As he walked away, drowning in his own hurt, being consumed by his burning rage, he did not see just how close her heart was to breaking.
Terra spent the rest of the evening locked up in his room. He was grateful that there would be no training tomorrow, because then he could spend the rest of the next day alone as well. He did not want to face them; not the Master, or Ventus, and especially not Aqua.
Why did she have to say those things? Why did she have to tear him down? Why is it that she always sees the negative things, as if he could never do anything right, as if there was no good in him?
Some time in the evening she knocked on his door, calling his name, pleading with him to speak to her. The pain in her voice was unmistakable and it ripped him apart to hear her like that, but he did not answer. The alternative and the possibility that it might just start a more heated argument were things he just did not want to risk. So he mustered every ounce of willpower he had to ignore her. He covered his head with a pillow in the hopes of shutting her out.
She was outside his room for a very long time. She had stopped knocking and stopped speaking, but he could tell she was still there, waiting in the hopes that he would give in. But he was not willing to lose this battle.
He tried not to imagine that she was crying because the mere thought that he might have made her cry was too painful for him to bear. He tried to convince himself that she did not have her hand over her heart in the way that made it seem as though she was trying to keep it from falling apart. He tried not to think of the shimmer of pain in her eyes, or the curve of her downturned lips, or the shallowness of her breathing as she struggled to keep the hurt in check.
Terra repeatedly slammed his fist against the wall by his bed. His conscience – or whatever that voice inside his head should be called – was telling him to shove away his pride and his frustration and face her. They were both hurting, and Aqua was trying to make amends. He was being a jerk by ignoring her, proving beyond a shadow of doubt that she had every right to point out his flaws.
But he ignored his conscience, just as he ignored Aqua. And after a while, he heard her walk slowly away, the shuffling of her feet sounding like faint whimpers of heartache. Terra bit down the regret that washed over him, debating against the conscience who was berating him for ignoring her all that time.
He rolled over on his side and shut his eyes, begging for sleep to save him from this torture. Hours passed before his prayers were answered. But his sleep was fitful. His dreams were of Aqua, chained and in tears. And no matter how hard he tried, he could do nothing to help her.
He woke up the following day with a numb pain in the core of his chest. It was as if his heart had decided to abandon him some time in the night, tired of the torment he was putting it through, tired of watching him hurt the girl for whom it chose to keep beating.
He sat upright, shaking that idea from his head and resting a hand over where his heart should be. He felt it pulse beneath his fingers, and he exhaled.
Why was he feeling this way? Why was he so affected by that little argument? How was it possible that now it seemed he was the one who was wrong? Wasn't Aqua the one who insulted him? Wasn't she the one who was supposed to be feeling guilty?
With a heavy heart, he got off the bed and headed into the bathroom to freshen up for the day. Maybe a long, cold shower would help clear his mind.
Only when the cold had brought him back to his senses – the water having washed away the feelings of rage from yesterday – did he finally step out of the bathroom. He would find Aqua, and he would apologize. She did not mean to insult him; she was merely concerned like always. But he intentionally insulted her, no doubt hurting her terribly, and he should have had a little more self-control.
He dressed quickly and walked towards the door to leave, only to stop at seeing that a piece of paper had been slipped under it. Picking it up and unfolding it, he realized that it was a note from Aqua.
There is something I need you to see. And I will wait for you in the garden all day if I have to. So please…
Terra pocketed the note and hurriedly left his room. As if the remorse and the ache in his heart would allow him to make her wait even just a minute longer.
He sprinted down the hallways, towards the south wing of the castle. Then he exited through a set of double doors, crossed an atrium, and exited yet another pair of doors before finally stepping onto a wide patio with steps – similar to the ones at the Forecourt - leading down to the garden.
Before he could leave the top landing, though, he stopped. The garden looked different. Between the trees that were lined along the perimeter of the garden were fine threads, crisscrossing back and forth. From these, what looked like hundreds of pieces of paper were suspended, swaying in the breeze like the wings of dancing butterflies. And in the center of all this stood Aqua, with her back to Terra, as of yet unaware of his presence.
He walked down the stairs and approached her quietly. When he was close enough, he touched her shoulder. She gasped and whirled around, surprised to see him.
"Terra…" she said softly.
"What are you doing, Aqua?" he asked. "What is all this?" He gestured towards the pieces of paper fluttering in the wind.
She looked down at her feet. "Read them."
He took hold of one of the pieces of paper, steadying it against the wind, and read.
"I admire your strength."
He looked questioningly at Aqua, but her gaze was still downturned. "Keep reading, Terra," she said, and he did as she asked.
"Ventus looks up to you because you are the better of the two of us."
"You make every day count."
"The Master chose you as his favorite for a reason."
"You remember all the little things."
"I could never ask for a better friend."
"I would feel safe with you, even in the deepest darkness."
Terra stopped reading, unable to handle how wildly his heart was beating. "Aqua…" he said, although he was unsure how to continue. She was writing something down on yet another piece of paper, and then she handed it to him.
"I know you love me, despite all my flaws."
And his heart would have stopped right then and there if Aqua did not speak. "Terra," she murmured. "About yesterday…"
"You've said enough," he whispered, lifting her gaze to his.
"No, you don't understand," she said, shaking her head. "You are always trying to be better, trying to be the best that you can be, and I… I've never said just how amazing you are. You are my best friend, Terra, and… I feel like I don't deserve…"
"Stop," he said, though not unkindly. He brushed his thumb just under her eyes, frowning. "Have you slept at all?" And it was a stupid question to ask, because he was sure she must have spent all night working on this.
She didn't answer, but he could clearly see the exhaustion in her eyes. Without another word, he lifted her up into his arms and walked back into the castle. She mumbled something in protest, but he paid no attention to that as he brought her straight to her room. With a tenderness that belied his tough exterior, he laid her gently on the bed.
"Terra…" she murmured. "I am so sorry. I will never do it again…"
"But I need you to," he answered, smirking. "You point me in the right direction. I would never know what to do or where to go without you…"
Her tired face scrunched up slightly in a soft frown. "But I…"
"Stop," he said, almost laughing, just because it was so like her to keep contradicting him. "Get some sleep, Aqua. You can scold me all you want when you wake up."
"I will not…" she argued sleepily, her eyes closing slowly.
"You will," he said, keeping his voice low. "Because that is the way you are. And, you know, I realized I don't want to have it any other way."
He watched her for a moment, waiting until her breathing had slowed to that of someone in deep sleep. Sighing, he hoped he would never again lash out at her like he had yesterday. He hoped that what she has done for him today would give him the strength never to hurt her like this again. And he would keep all those little notes she wrote, a reminder that despite everything, she sees light in him.
He decided to leave the room so she could rest, but then he noticed the pen and the pad still her hand. He carefully loosened her grip on them, deciding to leave her a note for when she woke up.
"You deserve nothing less than the best that I can be."
And after laying it down on her bedside table he leaned close to her, whispering, "Because I truly do love you, Aqua. A lot more than you know…"