Lingering Sentiment

Summary:

A three-shot (formerly two) story focusing on the reunion of two KH characters (Aqua and Terra obviously). This is purely speculation about how it will happen, but I can dream right? The first chapter will be Aqua finding Terra, and the second chapter will be Terra finding Aqua. Expect angst, a pinch of fluff, and plenty of Heartless/Nobody smashing. A few setting tweaks, but it's for dramatic effect.

Special guest in this chapter!

Chapter 3: Birth by Sleep

The kingdom sleeps

and children sacrifice themselves day by day

until they extinguish,

and they will never awake.

This tragedy destroys

in front of them

every beloved thing.

And in this neverending night

look there, the real vision

on edge I will see you

and the next morning the time will awake.

Somnus (Sleep) by Yoko Shimamura (Translated into English from Latin)

The staring contest between Terra and the guardian of the sanctuary was silent and heavy. Though he lacked a body, Terra cold feel the piercing, crimson stare of the young man standing atop the stairs.

He was dressed in a black shirt of leather that consumed what little light was around him. It strapped down the right side of his torso with a collar that went up to protect his neck. Loose, black pants covered his legs and ran down into the tops of his high-laced combat boots. Against the darkness of his clothes, his face looked smooth and pale.

"Excuse me," Terra decided to address the young man, "I'm looking for someone." He tried not to sound uncomfortable, but his manners felt rusty after years of being in virtual isolation. "A young woman with blue hair, blue eyes, and uses a Keyblade?"

The guardian with crimson eyes did not reply.

Terra muttered to himself, complaining about meeting people who insisted on not talking to him. "A simple yes or no question kid." He spoke quietly, hoping his new acquaintance would not hear.

If his rude comment was heard, the youth showed no signs of it. He turned his back to Terra and waved his gloved hand for Terra to follow. "This way."

"You've seen her!" Terra's excitement gave him a burst of energy that made him rush up the stairs. He eagerly followed the young man's steady pace. Before they entered through the large doors, he introduced himself. "Name's Terra by the way."

The guardian stopped just outside of the shadows of the entrance way. He glanced over his shoulder and looked into Terra's visor. "Noctis, my name is Noctis."

Terra nodded and put the name to memory. His true focus, however, was observing the interior of the mysterious sanctuary. To his shock, the inside was more stunning than the outside.

Marble floors stretched throughout the interior of the sanctuary. Golden streaks smoothly drew a circular pattern over the marble, and ran into the base of square pillars of smooth, dark stone. The pillars rose up to the shadowy ceiling of firm beams and arches. The most shocking aspect of the interior, however, was the crystal of pure light that levitated at the very heart of the chamber.

"What is that?" Terra asked in breathless amazement. To find a crystal of strong, solid light in the midst of the Realm of Darkness was unspeakable. He looked to Noctis for an answer, but what he saw made him forget about the crystal. "Aqua!"

The blue-haired Keyblade Master was motionless in a tall, black throne. Her eyes were softly closed, and her head was tilted to the side as she slept. Her face was slightly pale, but Terra didn't care. He still poked her face as if she was made of fragile porcelain. When he was more certain she wouldn't burst into a million pieces, he ran his hand along her cheek.

His heart pounded with relief, and a cold chill filled his armor. She was safe, and she was right in front of him. "Aqua, wake up." He carefully shook her. When she didn't wake, he took both of her shoulders in hand and shook her more firmly. "Hey, Aqua, come on!"

"She was like that when I found her." Noctis calmly stated. He slowly blinked his eyes and turned his chin up when Terra rushed him. No sooner had he said those words, Terra had Ends of the Earth pressed against Noctis's neck.

Terra lowered his head to look menacing with his helmet's visor. "Liar." He growled dangerously. He pushed Noctis until he was against the wall, and hoisted him into the air with one hand. "What did you do to her!" His vision blurred with his anger, but Terra only held Noctis tighter.

The stoic guardian placed his hand on Terra's balled fist. "I found her like that." He spoke more firmly, trying to cut through Terra's anger. "My only guess is that her heart retreated deeper into herself to protect her from the darkness."

"Why would she do that?" Terra loosened his hold on Noctis, but his voice still had an edge of hostility.

"Think about where you are." Noctis glared down at Terra, perhaps fed up with his irrationality. "A heart of light cannot survive in the darkness indefinitely. She did it to protect her heart, after it guided her here." The young man eyed Terra, as he was gently set down back on his feet.

Terra glanced at the floating crystal before looking back at Noctis. "That light, is that why she came here?"

"Yes." Noctis nodded. "It is keeping her heart safe, but it is not enough to wake her up." He looked solemnly towards the slumbering Aqua. "I tried to wake her up when I brought her here, but nothing worked."

"No," Terra walked over to Aqua's side and lowered himself to his knees. He gently reached out and took her limp hand into his own and stared at it. It looked small compared to his hands, and it scared him. In this state, Aqua seemed fragile, small, and weak. It was not the Aqua he cherished in his memory, in his heart.

"Aqua," Terra held her hand tighter, "I'm sorry." He lowered his head until his visor touched her cold skin. "I'm so sorry Aqua." He cursed himself and his weakness, as he looked up at Aqua's face. He caressed her face again. "You always warned me about being rash, about being too quick to bear all the burden myself."

He stroked her cheek with his thumb. "I should have known my heart wasn't strong enough to do that." His voice wavered, but he lacked the eyes to form tears. "Damn it Aqua!" Terra suddenly yelled in anguish. "You should have left me to sink into the darkness. Then you could have stayed in the Realm of Light, could've taken care of Ven." His hand dropped to her lap, and he knelt down in front of her. "Why Aqua?"

Terra dropped his head onto her knees. "Why'd you risk so much just to save a low life like me?"

"Because you'd give your whole heart to save me." A voice that sounded as sweet as morning birds rang in Terra's heart. Hands that once looked so small took Terra's head and made him look up into tired blue eyes. "And if I remember right," pink lips smiled softly, "you did."

"Aqua." Terra was thankful he couldn't look up with a slack jaw. "Aqua!" He reached up and enveloped his friend in a large, tight hug. "But how?" He leaned back so he could look at her smiling face. They shared a laugh when she shrugged and her smile grew bashful.

Noctis, however, didn't catch the subtle hint. "The bond you two share was enough to wake her up." He looked away just in time to miss Aqua's face grow red. "Only a bond that's as strong as yours can wake a heart from its sleep." He turned his back to the pair, further overlooking Aqua's uncomfortable squirming. "I've been told that such a bond was strong, but to think it could —"

"Gah, stop already I think he gets the point!" Aqua folded her arms and looked away from Terra.

The large keybearer looked between the two before tilting his head. "I think I'm missing something." He looked to Aqua for an explanation, but was met with her dumfounded expression. When she didn't answer for a few seconds, Terra leaned back. "What?"

A series of expressions passed over Aqua's face. She looked hurt, then boiling mad before sighing heavily. She put her hand on Terra's visor and pushed him away. "Such an idiot."

Noctis, lost by all means, watched the pair silently. Terra growled indignantly and tried to ask what was bothering her. Aqua simply ignored him and ordered that he step back so she can stand up. The guardian of the sanctuary shook his head slowly before looking to the crystal of light. "Maybe this is what they call 'denial'?" He caught a glimpse of Aqua slapping Terra over his helmet. "Or ignorance?"

"Just forget about it Terra." Aqua said for the third time. She turned to face her friend and eyed him closely. "Why are you wearing your armor?" She reached up to snatch off his helmet, but Terra caught her by the wrists as gently as he could.

He looked away from her now confused gaze with shame.

Aqua stepped closer to him and tried to force her wrists from his hold. "What's wrong Terra?" Her voice lost the edge of a few moments ago, now dripping with concern. She felt her heart squeeze when Terra's response to her advance was to step back. "Terra," her voice was firm, "you tell me what's wrong, now."

"You were there." Terra's shame turned into stubbornness. "I shouldn't have to tell you." He released her and turned around. "We should start out, try to find Ven, defeat Xehanort." His head dipped when he heard Aqua gasp in realization. Terra fought to hide his negative feelings when he felt Aqua's hand on his back.

Noctis watched the tender moment from the throne where Aqua once slept. The blue-haired Keyblade Master was a breath away from pressing her forehead against Terra's back. Her hand was balled into a loose fist, resisting the urge to wrap around his torso.

"Oh Terra." She whispered sympathetically. "I guess I wasn't the only one fighting for the past year."

"Twelve."

Aqua looked up at the back of Terra's head. "What?"

"Time passes differently here." Terra started slowly. "What felt like one year to you, was twelve years in the Realm of Light."

Whatever held Aqua back from hugging Terra was shoved aside. Shamelessly, she threw herself at Terra's back and locked her hands across his front. Her head was pressed against his shoulder-blade, "That's such a long time to be fighting for your body Terra."

"And a long time to fight off the darkness in its own realm." Terra patted her hands and stepped forward — out of her hold. "What you see right now is my soul and my heart bound to me Keyblade Armor." He balled one hand into a fist and looked at it. "I'll get my body back from Xehanort, and make him pay for putting us through all of this."

Aqua's eyebrows came together in frustration before smacked Terra over his helmet again. When he looked at her in question, she folded her arms and glared up at him. "When are you going to stop saying 'I' all the time and rely on your friends for once?"

"Huh?" Terra couldn't help but sound dumb — thrown from his train of thought.

"It's that attitude that got you into trouble in the first place." Aqua took an aggressive step towards him and glared harder. "You want to take all the responsibility for everything, shield everyone from harm, and refuse genuine help from the people you claim to be your friends!" Aqua punched him in the chest, hard.

Terra recoiled back from the impact. He should've never taught her how to punch when they were children. He was about to verbally fire back, but hesitated when he saw Aqua holding the hand she had punched him with.

"That's not fair Terra." She said softly. "It's selfish. We just want to help you too." Aqua looked up, her blue eyes shimmering. "For once Terra, let me protect you."

The animated suit of armor was speechless still. When he still couldn't come up with a response, he chuckled lightly. He went to answer her, but the sight of movement made him pause. "Noctis?" He saw Aqua whirl around to look towards the door. "Where are you going?"

"There's an intruder outside." Noctis looked at the pair calmly. "I was going to excuse myself, but you two seemed engrossed in your conversation."

Aqua blushed and curled her hands into fists. "E-engrossed is a bit exaggerated, and besides..." she pointed an accusing finger at Terra, "what I said to him goes for you too!" She took a calming breath when Terra laughed at her reaction.

"Seems I wasn't the only one who needed a lecture." He regarded Noctis's slightly surprised expression. "She does that a lot."

"Do not!"

Terra summoned Ends of the Earth and rested it on his broad shoulder. He stepped towards Noctis with an excited bounce to his step. "We'll give you a hand, the least we can do for letting us into this place."

Aqua nodded in agreement and called her Keyblade, Stormfall, to her hand. The azure Keyblade was a thin design, used for casting rather than bashing. The teeth of the key resembled a snowflake with three short prongs that resembled a crown. "We don't let friends fight alone, not when we can help it."

Both keybearers laughed when Noctis's perpetually stoic face arranged a small smile. He nodded slowly and went to step outside, but stopped at a rattling sound. His crimson eyes widened and he whipped around to stare at the crystal of light. The crystal, once silently levitating at the heart of the chamber, was rattling.

"That can't be good." Terra commented, as he continued to stare at the quivering crystal.

Aqua looked to Noctis, finally asking the question that had plagued her mind since she saw the sanctuary. "Noctis," he didn't turn away from the crystal, "what exactly is this?"

"It's light, much like the Cornerstone of Light located in Disney Castle." Noctis was suddenly short of breath – heart racing at the pace of the shivering crystal. "This sanctuary is a remnant of the Keyblade War, a sanctuary to any from the Realm of Light who stumbled into darkness." His eyebrows ran together, as he clenched his jaw. "Whatever is outside, it's darkness is strong enough to make this speck of light quake with fear."

"So I was right." Terra began stepping towards the door once more. "That isn't a good sign."

Noctis shook his head and led the trio out of the interior of the sanctuary. What greeted them outside of the warm glow of the light, was a horde of Neo Shadow. However, they seemed strange compared to the average breed of Heartless. Red veins made ugly patterns around their glowing yellow eyes, and their claws were larger than normal.

"Something isn't right." Aqua felt her limbs grow weak before she found her strength again. She felt some invisible force pull at her heart before retreating back. Aqua looked beside her and saw Terra holding his chest. "You too?"

Terra nodded before getting into a fighting stance. "I hope that hooded guy's warning was just an exaggeration." He gripped Ends of the Earth tightly and threw himself down upon the nearest pack of strange Neo Shadow. His opening swing was a thrust straight forward, pushing a Heartless back into its companion. His second swing was a full circle, striking all those nearest him.

"Be careful!" Aqua summoned the power of thunder and struck the Neo Shadows with a wave of Thundaga. She turned on her heel to see if Noctis needed help, but dropped the idea upon seeing him.

All Aqua could see of Noctis were brief flashes of his dark clothes and flashes of blue light. The guardian of the sanctuary was teleporting from one place to the other, wielding a different weapon every time he appeared near a Neo Shadow to dispel it. He slashed with his swords with expert precision, and appeared behind another Heartless bearing a steel lance.

Another foe disappeared into oblivion, while Noctis drove his sword into the pavement and spun around to kick his next victim. Landing on his feet, he used all of his strength and weight to slash at a pouncing Neo Shadow. In seconds, Noctis had sent over half of the Heartless horde back into the shadows.

Terra stood up from the lingering smoke of his latest set of magical mines and whistled. "Guess that answers how he's protected this place by himself." Terra caught a Heartless by its head and slammed it into the ground before stabbing it with Ends of the Earth. "He's good."

"You've improved yourself." Aqua complimented his and summoned the power of ice for a powerful Blizzaga spell. The spell struck true, and three Neo Shadows were frozen in place like statues.

The three protectors of the sanctuary regrouped and looked down upon the remaining Neo Shadows at the foot of the stairs. Were these the creatures that made the light shake? Though Terra admitted they were stronger than normal, this breed of Neo Shadow was hardly a match for an experienced keybearer.

"Horrors locked away for none to awaken." Terra repeated the words of the Keeper of the Keys. Aqua looked to him in confusion, but he didn't answer her unspoken question.

Instead, Terra focused on the Heartless that now crept back into the shadows. He expected to feel relief at the sight, but the look of terror on the Neo Shadows' face was... unsettling. His head snapped up to look further down the street, where the darkness grew too thick to see.

"Something's coming." Aqua warned her two companions. Again, she felt a force pull at her heart, and her knees nearly gave out from under her.

Noctis balled his hand into a fist, and an azure glow enveloped his forearm. Intricate symbols appeared behind him, and weapons of various kinds levitated outside of the symbol. Sparkles of light, like shattered glass, began to fall around the trio in a way that reminded Terra of snow.

The tension finally reached its peak, as the steady sound of nearing footsteps echoed through the still darkness.

Terra tightened his hold on Ends of the Earth, as his heart pulsed with the darkness that neared them.

"I was afraid it would be one of them." Noctis closed his eyes and turned his body sideways. His eyes snapped open once more when the approaching force stepped into the dim light, allowing the trio to see who it was.

The newly arrived force of darkness was dressed in a suit much like Vanitas from Aqua and Terra's memory. The body suit with a texture like muscle was a trademark of any who bowed a knee to the forces of darkness. However, a torn Dark Coat acted as a cape to the wearer of the armor, and its hood covered the wearer's face. The bottom half of his pale face could be seen, and it was set in a straight line.

"Mind filling us in Noctis?" Terra kept his visor focused on the mysterious servant of darkness. "You seem familiar with him."

Aqua laughed half-heartedly. "He wouldn't happen to be a friend of yours, would he?"

"No," Noctis shook his head, "but he's been here before." He took one of the swords levitating near him. It was tall and had a small engine fastened just above the hilt of the sword. "He's one of many sealed within these dark ruins."

Noctis closed his eyes, and began to recite,

Hearts bound to the dark

fear the day its soul would depart

to lengthen his life by only a meter

he would take the name Heart Eater

"Heart Eater?" Aqua gasped at the name.

"One who consumes the hearts of those he releases." Noctis spoke solemnly, "Feared by Heartless and Somebodies alike."

At the mention of his title, the Heart Eater took in a deep breath. He paused before releasing a bone shivering shriek that made any Heartless remaining scramble back into the deepest womb of darkness. The shriek revealed rows of sharp teeth packed behind the pale lips of the Heart Eater.

Terra stepped down two steps with one stride. "You said something about them releasing hearts and eating them." Terra readied himself when the Heart Eater began walking towards him. "Does that mean he has a..." He was interrupted when he had to block a sudden attempt to sever his head. With only his Ends of Earth between them, Terra looked down at the silver shaft of a Keyblade. "Nevermind."

"He has a Keyblade!" Aqua leaped above Terra's head and sent a blast of lightning at the Heart Eater. The steward of darkness leaped back and away from the attack before reversing his hold on his Keyblade.

The Heart Eater looked at all three of his opponents and grinned. His body suddenly became blurry and copies of himself phased into existence. In seconds, twenty mirror images of the Heart Eater were staring up at the trio of defenders. The original Heart Eater crouched low, and yelled, "Get ready!"

"Aqua, support!" Terra charged forward and readied Ends of Earth. His opening swing was wide in order to catch three of the copies in one strike. Only two were struck, and the third ducked under the attack to charged low and fast. Terra let go of his Keyblade with one hand and tried to block the attack aimed at him. However, a flash of light ushered in a protective bubble of magic — a Reflect spell.

"Stay strong!" Aqua shouted and followed up with a storm of Thundaga.

Bolts of thick lightning descended from the sky, and masked the fall of Noctis. The guardian to the crystal of light landed atop the bubble of light protecting Terra, and kicked off of it to meet two more copies of the Heart Eater. The bubble shattered to counter the copy plaguing Terra, as Noctis began his assault on his targets.

Teleporting to and fro, Noctis struck the Heart Eater's copies with flurry of swords and lances. Finally, after striking a fourth copy, Noctis landed on the pavement in a crouched position. He was ready to shout for Terra to follow up, but he was roughly lifted by the collar.

The Heart Eater reeled back, holding Noctis up with the other hand. He then delivered three, merciless strikes with his Keyblade before throwing Noctis back with a blast of dark energy.

The guardian slammed into the stairs and coughed for air when it was torn from his lungs. Staggering from the attack, Noctis gripped his chest and continued to wheeze, short of breath. "Bastard." He growled.

"Noctis!" Aqua surrounded herself with a swirling flames and dashed towards Noctis. "Protect!" She shielded herself with a Reflect spell and collapsed it to push back a copy that dared try and take her by surprise. "Let me see." She kneeled beside Noctis and cast Curaga on him. All outward injuries vanished, but she saw Noctis still gripping his chest. "What's wrong?"

"His Keyblade," Noctis coughed, "it attacks more than your body. It attacks the heart as well." He looked towards Terra who was fighting four copies at once. "We have to help your friend, he's especially vulnerable to the Heart Eater's attacks."

Aqua nodded, "Right, we have to stick together and attack as one." She summoned the last of her magical strength and threw a Firaga spell towards Terra. A ball of crimson light hit Terra and surrounded him in protective flames that raged against the copies. "Give me a few moments," Aqua looked at Noctis, "I can end this in one spell."

"Why didn't you use it to begin with?" Noctis questioned.

The blue-haired Keyblade Master laughed nervously and looked away. "Well, I'm actually not too sure on how the spell works."

Noctis glared at her. "Can you even cast it?"

"We'll have to find out." She gave a weak smile before running up the stairs.

The guardian shook his head and ran to support Terra. There weren't many copies left, but that meant the original Heart Eater was amongst the ones locked in battle with Terra.

Terra staggered and rolled to the side when he received a powerful strike to his back. His heart shook at the impact, and he went into a defensive stance to keep it from happening again. However, he knew that if he didn't resume his offensive, then his heart was as good as gone. "One more." He said breathlessly.

"Gather!" He raised his large keyblade and formed a Gravaja spell. The pocket of enhanced gravity pulled in the copies still hungry for his heart. One, however, managed to take hold of a crooked streetlamp and held on for all he was worth. It was spared the merciless beating Terra was giving the other copies, but it wasn't enough to send them into oblivion.

When the gravity spell faded, Terra fell to his knees and used Ends of the Earth to keep him from falling over. Exhausted from the raging battle, Terra barely had the energy to look at the Heart Eater and his remaining copies as they closed in on him.

"Spent already?" Noctis appeared in front of Terra in a flash of blue light. He summoned the large symbol from before, the arsenal of weapons acting a shield to protect the weakened keybearer. "We need to buy Aqua time," a crimson eye looked back at Terra, "do you have it in you?"

Terra drove Ends of the Earth into the pavement and used all his strength to hoist himself to his feet once more. "Hold them off so Aqua can do her magic?" Terra shook his head and made his stance more firm. "I think I feel a Second Wind coming on." He met Noctis's gaze, "You block, I bash?"

"I block," Noctis snatched a sword from his floating arsenal, "you bash." The rest of his collection turned transparent, like glass, before swirling around the duo in a protective cyclone of steel.

The Heart Eater shrieked once more and led his copies to attack the defenders anew. This time, however, they were met with a virtually impenetrable defense. Every stroke of their Keyblades was met by the transparent weapons that cycled around the duo. With each strike instantly parried, they were helpless to the counter attack from Terra's bronze Keyblade.

The endless pattern of attack-defend-retaliate was finally broken when the Heart Eater caught Terra's Keyblade after he delivered a hard hit to his side. He dropped his Keyblade and held the teeth on either of Ends of Earth. The Heart Eater's mouth formed a wide, sharp-toothed grin when Terra struggled to free his weapon.

"Crud, Noctis!" Terra looked at the Heart Eater when he raised his palm to point a growing blast of dark energy at Terra's face.

Noctis responded almost immediately. The swirling arsenal of weapons came to a sudden halt, turned tangible, and skewered the Heart Eater that held Terra's Keyblade. Its toothy grin remained, even when a plume of dark smoke ushered him into oblivion. Why was it smiling?

Because Noctis's reaction to save Terra left them both vulnerable.

Time slowed to a crawl, as the remaining copies and the original Heart Eater lunged to strike the duo. Noctis's eyes were wide, as he tried to form the protective barrier of whirling weapons. Terra tried to force himself backwards and out of reach of the pack of dark servants hungry for hearts. Both young men knew that their efforts would end in failure.

But thank Kingdom Hearts for the awesome speed of light. The shadowy doors and small openings of the sanctuary were suddenly lit with the majesty of unrestrained light. The sheer force of its brightness was enough to blow back the Heart Eater, and banish all of his copies to the abyss. The Heart Eater shrieked in agony, blinded by the rush of light, and staggered backwards.

Noctis stood motionless, astonished by the power of the sanctuary that was now a beacon of light behind him. He dared not turn around, for fear that it would be too much for even him.

Terra, on the other hand, was grateful for whatever power the light held. He stretched his limbs, as the exhaustion that plagued him was washed away and replaced with a surge of new power. The darkness that once clawed at his heart was gone, pushed back into the tiniest corner of his heart.

"What," Noctis blinked rapidly, "what just happened?"

If he had a face, Terra had not doubt it would be sporting a large grin. "Aqua happened." He laughed and turned around to look at the tower that shined brilliantly in the darkness. "She always did have a way with light." His gaze returned to the Heart Eater, who now cowered from the light.

The Heart Eater shielded his face from the light, muttered nonsense to himself. The force of the blast of light had forced his hood off of his head, revealing his head of messy white hair. Golden eyes peeked out from between his fingers, as he curled into a tight ball.

"What's wrong," Terra stepped towards the shivering keybearer of darkness, "afraid of the light?" He tilted his head when he heard the Heart Eater's quiet mantra.

"Alone..."

"... alone..."

"... wanna... alone."

Noctis appeared in front of Terra and forced him back to a safe distance, "Watch out!"

A moment after Noctis's warning, the Heart Eater threw his head to the heavens, eyes wide and filled with madness. "I DON'T WANT TO BE ALONE!" He shrieked at the top of lungs. A shockwave of darkness forced Noctis and Terra back a step, as a pool of darkness swallowed the Heart Eater. All the while, he was screaming about not wanting to be alone.

Terra stood motionless after the pool evaporated, leaving him alone with Noctis. After a long stretch of silence, Terra finally said, "Wow."

"That's the first time that's happened." Noctis stepped back to the stairs and sat down on the third step. "Who knew the Keyblade would make such a difference?" He ran a gloved hand through his dark-blue hair and sighed in relief. Another stretch of silence drifted between them before Noctis broke it. "Shouldn't you check on your friend?"

"Probably should." Terra walked up the stairs and noted how his legs felt heavy all of a sudden. "After something like that, she's probably on the verge of falling over."

"She do that often?"

Terra stopped his ascent and sent his Keyblade away. He sighed with exhaustion before looking up at the fading light of the sanctuary. "She would always yell at me for wanting to save everyone all the time," he chuckled, "but truth is, she's usually the one that does the saving." He started up the steps again, slower than before. "I'm just trying to play catch up."

Noctis grunted in reply and waited for Terra to get fully out of earshot. He rested his head against the stairs and snorted. "Ignorance and denial as one."

Inside of the sanctuary, Terra saw Aqua on her back in front of the crystal of light. He felt his heart throb with alarm, but his concern was washed away by the sound of Aqua giggling. He dragged himself over to her, so he was standing at her side. "That awesome spell of yours finally knock a screw loose?"

Aqua held her gut, as she laughed even harder. Tears rolled from her eyes and her feet kicked every so often to try and ease the intense wave of giddiness that flooded her. When she finally calmed her breathing enough to function, she saw Terra lowering himself out of the corner of her eye.

The tired suit of armor laid down on his back and spread his arms, mimicking Aqua's position. The pair watched the glowing crystal as it levitated peacefully. Terra noticed his sight growing blurry, and it struck him that he hadn't rested since he joined with the Lingering Will. Body or not, his heart couldn't sustain such activity without requiring a break to simply exist and recharge.

"Tired?" Aqua's soft whisper made him feel warm.

Terra poked the top of her head. "My line."

A soft laugh floated through the chamber before Terra felt weight on his chest. Aqua had rolled over to rest her head above his heart, arms loosely wrapped around him. As if sensing his confusion, Aqua spoke without opening her eyes. "I am tired."

"I'm sure that throne would be more comfortable than me." He thought of the crimson cushions that were the seat of the black throne. It was where he had found her, and she hadn't complained of cramps. He froze when she nuzzled her cheek against his chest, shaking her head no.

"Fine here." She smiled. "I can feel your heart from here." Aqua laughed softly, "And it's strangely warm."

"Go to sleep Aqua."

"My line."

"You shouldn't say stuff like that to someone like me."

"Why not Terra?" She yawned. "It's the truth."

"People could misunderstand."

...

...

...

...

...

"Then misunderstand."

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A/N: FIN. Just enough fluff to get the romance tag, and enough action to get the award for Action/Adventure. Not bad if I do say so myself. A bit different from what it was in my head, but that'll happen.

Anyway, for those who don't know, Noctis is NOT an OC. He is the main character in the upcoming FF Versus XIII. The location is the setting of the first few trailers of the game (look it up if you don't know, they're awesome). Figured his appearance would be perfect in this fic.

Now, the Heart Eater thing... a plot bunny at best. Could it evolve into a full blown KHIII speculative fic? Maybe. Would it involve SoraxKairi and AquaxTerra? Most likely. Would this fic be a test to see which approach people like best? Yes.

Tell me what you think, and please leave a review. Thanks for all the positive words and constructive criticism. Please keep an eye out for any more stories I come up with, I'd appreciate your audience. Thank you for reading, greatly appreciate all of you.