Genre: Drama, Supernatural, and Action
A black liquid splattered across the surface of moonlit asphalt like ink before dissolving into a peculiar black smoke. Though the silence was unnerving and the tension in the air was thick, the heavy breathing of a young woman and the ominous scraping of steel against pavement could be heard through shallow echoes. Silence settled down again only for a few moments before the shadows cast by the moon thickened and writhed of their own accord.
Any witness present would've claimed that the scene that followed afterward was odd but mesmerizing indeed—a strangely shaped sword that would carve ribbons of light into the night air as it was spun and twirled, a glowing silhouette of a giant key that would dissipate into the form of a normal-looking katana when it wasn't being thrust through writhing shadows, the flash of brilliant blue hair, and the third silence that fell when the last wave of shadows were vanquished as if no strange monsters had appeared in the first place.
However, there were no witnesses and the mysterious young woman was alone—she made sure of that. Leaning against the deceivingly unimpressive blade, the youth sighed in such a manner that one would think she had merely finished sweeping a living room floor rather than lay to waste a ring of hostile and shapeless creatures.
The young woman turned her eyes upward at the half-moon, brushing back a lock of blue hair. The light revealed that she possessed a pair of delicate cerulean-colored eyes. Blinking once, she dismissed her weapon and left the deserted court through one of the many alleyways of the city.
"Even here…" She murmured to no one in particular but herself. "The Master must know what he's doing..."
I: The First Drop in the Ocean
"Aqua, Aqua, Aqua, Aqua—" an overly dramatic gasp of breath, "—Aqua, Aqua!"
"Ventus," the young woman named Aqua, one who was known for her patience and empathy, growled, struggling to remain as patient as humanely possible with the hyperactive blonde bundle of energy. "My alarm is set to ring in half an hour. What do you want?"
"You have to set the coffee maker and make breakfast—" the boy named Ventus whined, his bright blue eyes betrayed no hints of tiredness. "I know, I know… You don't have to tell me that I'm fifteen and that I can cook for myself and that I don't need you to wake up early and stuff."
"Good, Ven," she mumbled. "I don't have to tell you."
"But!" He went on shamelessly, "Coffee is only good when you make it and we're out of orange juice and I always burn the eggs and you always tell me it's a waste and I feel bad—"
"—and today's the first day of school, well only for us anyways, so you have to wake up early and not be late!"
The bluenette gave in and squeezed her pillow one last time for the day before rising up to taste the sunshine. "Okay… But just watch, I'm going to have to be the one to drag you out of bed in a week."
"Not true," he disagreed, watching his adoptive sister stumble on her way to the kitchen. "Wow Aqua… you don't look so good. You must really, really be tired."
"Really now?" She retorted, but in good humor as she flashed him one of her reassuring smiles. "I just have to get back into it. Don't worry about me."
Ven didn't allow himself to be convinced so easily. He crossed his arms and tapped his foot, imitating one of Aqua's trademark poses. "Maybe you should get a day or summer job instead like normal people."
"I'm normal." Aqua rolled her eyes and ruffled her little brother's hair when he joined her. "I said don't worry, that's my job too. Someone has to put food on the table and you're definitely too young."
"Only by a year," Ven muttered under his breath. Aqua heard him but pretended not to notice. "At least ask the restaurant that you want less hours, please…" He pleaded, gazing up at her with those sickeningly cute eyes of his.
Ventus didn't notice the flicker of guilt that appeared for a split second in Aqua's eyes. A restaurant, right… "I'll try, but I can't make any promises. Now instead of worrying your little head off, go gather all the ingredients for me while I shower. Don't worry, you don't have to cook any of them."
Ven nodded and Aqua felt relieved for the momentary distraction. After fixing up the coffee maker, Aqua made her way to the single bathroom in the apartment the two of them lived in.
"Oh and Aqua…?"
"Hm?" She hummed back in response before entering.
"Stop being such a total girl. You don't need to take two showers a day."
Aqua laughed, though the smile didn't reach her eyes. If only Ven knew… But then again, it was better that he didn't.
After walking Ven to his first class much to the younger one's dismay, Aqua reminded him to have fun but behave, and not to mention her "night job" to anyone, no matter who, because no one would ever let her live it down if she ever had the misfortune to meet them. Ven seemed to understand and agreed, that's when the elder adopted sibling left the other to his own devices.
She smiled to herself, knowing Ven to be the bright and happy social butterfly that he was. He was past his awkward zombie phases, and all that needed to be done was throw him out a figurative window and let him spread his equally figurative wings on his own. Unfortunately, Aqua wasn't so confident in herself. She loved meeting new people, but that wasn't enough to suppress her worry and nervousness when it came to foreign territory, especially in a school as big as this one.
To add on to her growing anxiety, her first class was across the school, much to her inconvenience. Aqua quickly memorized the room number and repeated it within her mind with every forceful step she took. She couldn't be late to her first class on her first day of school—she couldn't let her parents down now.
The bell rung when Aqua set foot in the classroom. She hoped it wouldn't be held against her as she made way to the teacher's desk. Said teacher was wearing a painfully white lab coat over a pale blue shirt. Come to think of it, the classroom was more of a lab than a typical classroom. After that fleeting thought, Aqua mentally slapped herself when she reminded herself that she was attending an AP Biology class.
"Yes…?" A drawling voice pulled her back to reality.
Aqua blinked quickly. "Hi, I'm Aqua… I'm new here so I'm wondering if there's a seating chart or if there's just a desk you want me to stay at for now…" She trailed off, not sure where she was getting at.
The teacher checked the class roster with heavy-lidded eyes as he twirled his long blonde hair with his free hand. He puckered his already small-set mouth as he adjusted his glasses. Aqua tried not to think about how peculiar he appeared.
"Ah, yes, yes… Aqua is it? Take a seat at that desk over there." Aqua followed his hand which pointed at a desk singled out from the others placed in the front of the room. She sighed inwardly. "I am Professor Even. It's a pleasure to meet you, Aqua."
The young woman smiled and bowed her head quickly but politely. "It's nice to meet you too, Professor."
The professor nodded nonchalantly as Aqua left him for her assigned seat. By then, everyone had settled down and chatter died down along with that. Aqua tried her best not to falter when she sensed many pairs of eyes fixing themselves on her as she sat back, clinging to her bag.
Don't look up, don't look up, don't look up…
"Hey it's a new girl!" A male voice called out from the back of the classroom. There were a few giggles at the sudden outburst. Aqua tried her best to hide the color that rose to her cheeks as she defied her mantra and looked up.
"Quiet, Mr. Fair," Professor Even snapped as he rose from his desk and walked to the front of the classroom as if he were in no rush. "Not everyone appreciates your juvenile antics and unneeded commentary."
The young man who spoke up wasn't paying attention to his teacher's words however when he winked at Aqua who flushed even more, quick to give him a small smile in response. He laughed back, though not cruelly, when he nudged the person who sat next to him and gestured towards her with his chin. Briefly observing them, the two students shared similar hairstyles, though the first had hair as black as night while the other's was as brown as wet earth. The second student discreetly waved at her. Unsure of what else to do, Aqua smiled tentatively again at them both before the professor gestured for her to join him in front of the class.
"As Zack kindly pointed out, we do indeed have a new student. Do you mind introducing yourself?"
Aqua put on the most welcoming smile she could muster. "Hi, my name's Aqua. It's nice to meet you." The line came out steady, less could be said for her stomach. She mentally slapped herself again, reminding herself that she's been through much more challenging situations. She spared Professor Even a glance, wondering if she was supposed to go on.
Professor Even clicked his tongue as he traced a pale finger down his clipboard. "Today we'll be continuing the enzyme catalysis lab from where we left off on Friday. Is there anyone who is without a lab partner for today?" He gestured expectantly at Aqua who tried her best not to shuffle her feet.
The student named Zack raised his hand, if a bit too eagerly Aqua noticed. "Ooh, me! Cloud isn't here today again so Aqua can be my partner. How about that?" The last question was aimed at the student and not the teacher. Aqua found herself laughing lightly, shrugging.
The professor looked skeptical, frowning deeply with his eyebrows raised. "I think not." He pointed at the brunette who sat beside Zack. "Terra, as for today, you'll be Zack's partner to keep him in line. I won't be having him corrupting my newest student. Tifa, you will brief Aqua on the experiment. I trust that you're comfortable with the assignment."
Two out of three of the students appeared mortified. The third, a dark-haired girl with matching irises named Tifa, smiled pleasantly, much to Aqua's relief.
"Hey, it's nice to meet you," the girl said, holding out a gloved hand when the other approached the table. Aqua returned the gesture and set her bag down, taking an empty seat.
"Nice to meet you too." She couldn't help but notice that while most of the other students were no longer interested in the new addition to the classroom, the two boys named Zack and Terra continued to stare at her.
Tifa began setting up whatever experiment that needed to be done and the classroom was filled with the sounds of scraping wood and the delicate clinking of glass. "So what grade are you in? Are you new to the school or just this class?"
"I'm a junior," Aqua answered, glad that she was given the chance to hold a conversation. "And I'm new to the school—today's my first day."
"Thought so, most people are smart enough not to transfer here if they didn't sign up for the class in the first place." She pursed her lips and nodded towards Zack. "You don't seem like someone like him, so it must be the other reason."
Zack leaned over, grinning. "Hey, don't let the professor catch you talking like that. You're his favorite."
Tifa scoffed, crossing her arms. "Just because you're his least favorite, doesn't make everyone else his most favorite."
Zack pouted and Aqua couldn't help but think of Ven. She wondered how the other was doing. "Hey, Terra is just as bad as I am—he just doesn't get caught as much. I don't see you ever giving him a hard time."
Tifa opened her mouth to reply but Aqua spoke up first. "Hey, how about you guys? What grade are you in?"
"Juniors all the way." Zack was the one to reply. He nodded approvingly. "Oh, by the way I'm Zack. And this—" He grabbed his friend, the same friend who waved at her, by the arm to join the rough triangle the three of them formed. "—This, my lady, is Terra."
"I'm sure she knows by now," Terra said as he brushed the other off. He appeared exasperated but she could clearly tell there was more amusement than annoyance in his expression. Terra extended a hand either way. Aqua took it and she couldn't help but notice how rough yet warm they were. "I hope you'll enjoy the class as much as we do."
"Sure thing," she replied, letting go. Her eyes traveled from Tifa, to Zack, to Terra. They all have such strong hearts… Aqua thought, mildly surprised. The light within Zack seemed to be the brightest. At first, it seemed that Terra was just as bright, but when she looked closer, she found that the brunette was impossible to read accurately—something unknown was hindering her senses.
That's strange… it's even stranger to find three strong hearts side by side like this.
Aqua brushed the thought away for another time. She was in school now, and she needed to focus on her priorities.
"Well, Aqua, if you ever need someone to walk you to your next class and guide you around, then I'm game," Zack offered, a corner of his mouth lifting in a crooked smile.
Tifa threw a pen at him as she prepared a vial. "I trust Terra more on that one. Terra, you go with him."
"I don't mind. Do you, Aqua?"
However, the new student didn't hear him since her attention was focused on Tifa's actions. "Ah, that's the first sample of amino acid, isn't it?" She asked, pointing at something on the lab directions. "I think just two drops of lemon juice will do the trick." Tifa was just about to squeeze in a third drop. "The ratio has to be kept 3:1 so too much will denature the enzyme… Is there something wrong?"
Tifa looked surprised, Zack sloppily made a grab for one of the test tubes, and Terra was laughing quietly to himself. In the background, someone complained that nothing was happening, many others followed suite.
Zack and Terra took it upon themselves to guide Aqua to her next class, Physical Education. Conveniently, it was another hour the three would share together. Aqua thought it to be a rather expendable class, but she kept that opinion to herself when she felt the excitement radiate from the two.
Oh boys these days… Aqua couldn't help but smile a little, fully aware of why exactly two young men of their age could be so excited over something she deemed trivial and even superfluous.
Everyone was given three laps to run before resting up and heading for the weight room for training. Unsurprisingly, Zack and Terra were amongst the first to finish. However, no one failed to notice that they were accompanied by the new girl who only had the faintest of color gathering in her cheeks despite the fact she had matched the other two in sprinting. She was offering the two water while they sat on the ground, panting like dogs.
It turned out that Zack was given an extra set of laps around the track due to a missed day a couple weeks back. As a result, Aqua was left in Terra's company and they both left for the weight room. She felt sorry for him but Terra reassured her that the other wasn't the type to turn down a challenge.
"He'll be fine—he likes showing off anyway. So where are you from? I never got to ask you that back at the lab."
"Oh…" Aqua waved her hand. "Not very far. Just a small town east of here. My parents sent me and my brother here to the city because they thought it'd be better for our education."
"Oh really, huh? Well, you already seem pretty smart. I never saw Zack try to squeeze out answers for our labs from anyone but me or Tifa before."
She flushed slightly at the compliment, it probably didn't even mean anything. "He doesn't seem to like the class at all, though. Is it okay for me to ask why he signed up for it?"
Terra shrugged. "Eh, probably just for the credit. He underestimated the professor and I bet he's regretting it big time, even now." He sighed, rubbing the back of his head and casting fleeting looks at her. "Speaking of Zack, I'm sorry about the way he acts. It's just a little embarrassing to be honest… but he's a decent guy. I mean—" his mouth twitched. "—not everyone is my best friend after all."
Aqua laughed softly. "It's no problem. He seems sweet enough—" she was interrupted by a shrill cry sounding from the weight room. The two of them exchanged looks before rushing to see what was the problem.
Wrenching the door open, Aqua found a single petite-looking girl glowering at a pile of weights left on the floor of the room. Seeing that no one was hurt, the pair of juniors let out a breath.
Terra raised an eyebrow. "What's a freshman doing here?"
The girl turned her head to glare at them both with big, dark eyes. Aqua noticed that a black headband was tied around her forehead, partially covered by her short black hair. She stomped over and poked Terra in the chest, clearly unafraid despite the height and age difference. "For your information, I'm a sophomore and my name's Yuffie, so shut your trap."
Terra's eye twitched. "Hey—"
"We heard a scream," Aqua cut over him has politely as possible, determined not to let things get out of hand over something like… actually she wasn't even sure where the hostility was coming from. "Is everything okay here?"
The sophomore named Yuffie narrowed her eyes as she studied Aqua up and down. "Never seen you around before. You new here? Anyways, look lady, that wasn't a scream. The Great Yuffie never screams—it was just an expression of displeasure at the mess those idiots left behind. So no, everything is not okay." She pointed over her shoulder with a thumb before throwing both of her arms into the air. "Screw it! I don't care what my teacher says about cleaning duty. I'm here to kick butt, not clean up after a bunch of slobs. You two are big, strong uppclassmen, aren't you? Get the rest of your class to clean up 'cause I'm out of here." With that, the girl stormed out of the room, muttering something about stupid football players and leaving both Aqua and Terra in silence.
"She's definitely a freshman," Terra quipped.
"Well, we might as well…" Aqua murmured, looking around at the scattered weights. "The teacher wanted us to help set things up while everyone else finished."
Terra nodded and picked up two dumbbells, two out of many that remained scattered throughout the room. This was going to be much more troublesome than he anticipated. He turned to Aqua. "No wonder she was so—Aqua, those are fifty-pounds!"
Aqua flinched and dropped the bar that went with the nearest bench press. All hundred pounds hit the floor with a deafening thunk. A stream of apologies left her lips as the poor girl dropped to the floor to inspect the damage she just caused.
However, Terra wasn't staring because of that. What confounded him was the fact that Aqua just lifted a full hundred pounds with a single arm.
"No dent. Whew…" Aqua wiped her brow. She inspected the bar. "Hey, these are twenty-five, not fifty you silly goose. Good thing for that, huh?"
Terra blinked, wiping the dumbfounded expression off his face. Twenty-five… twenty-five wasn't so bad. After all, a hundred was simply ridiculous… Aqua didn't even realize a thing until he called out.
"Oh, right. Let's hurry before the others get here."
Ancient History was the third class of the day and coincidentally the third class she shared with her newest acquaintance. Terra laughed it off, accompanying her with no hint of inconvenience or bother he might've been feeling. His company helped her relax a bit, yet she couldn't help but feel a nagging insecurity and suspicion that this would only be temporary.
Suspicion is unlike you. So what's bothering you? What happened to the strong and bold Aqua?
To be honest with herself, she wasn't sure.
An hour long lecture that followed after the bell didn't leave much room for small talk between Aqua and anyone else who was willing to get to know the new student. The sixteen-year-old was one for bookwork but even she found the constant droning of their instructor tiring and redundant.
Fine Arts was the fourth and last class of the day before lunch. Terra had to leave her then, muttering why he had to have two of his least favorite classes side-by-side. Aqua understood that he had his own classes to attend before preparing to walk alone towards her own before Tifa showed up again and offered to accompany her, saying that she had a friend she needed to meet up with anyway.
Anyone familiar with the bluenette would've received the impression that she was quite competent when it came to books and academics, but art was no forte of hers. Of course, Aqua thought of herself to be someone who was flexible and well-rounded, so she didn't mind the challenge.
However, what she did mind was having to sketch out a portrait of the girl in front of her as her first assignment. She stifled a groan as she attempted to wipe charcoal off her fingers before returning to her drawing. It was pitiful—the hair wasn't nearly as smooth as she wanted it to be and it was nigh impossible to draw out the individual strands with the blunt tip of her charcoal. She was ready to start over when she felt the other girl's gaze settling upon her. Resisting the urge to hide her shame of a portrait, Aqua looked up expectantly.
"You don't have to worry about each strand of hair," the girl suggested gently. Aqua remembered that her name was Kairi according to the teacher who introduced them when he seated her. "It's charcoal so just think of impressions rather than the small details."
Aqua smiled appreciatively. That made more sense with the stub of black mess she was clutching in her right hand. Looking back down, she noticed the other's drawing. "Oh, you're really good," she commented. "It's much better than mine."
Kairi shook her head, but she was smiling as well. "Not even. You're pretty good too." She shrugged her small shoulders. "But thank you, my cousin helps me out a lot when it comes to projects." She pointed towards a spot behind Aqua and the older student turned to look.
In the corner of the room next to the teacher's desk was a girl wearing a white dress over a pair of khakis. She appeared to be the same age as Kairi and Aqua could see the resemblance despite the stark contrast in hair color. The girl had platinum-blonde hair pushed over one shoulder while Kairi's was a deep red. She didn't seem to notice the pair of girls observing her from the table they shared as she remained bent over a drawing pad while sitting on a stool.
"How come she's just sitting there alone?" Aqua asked.
Kairi shrugged again. "She's the teacher's assistant and she doesn't talk much. Sometimes she spends her free time over here with me though. I guess she likes it better when she can draw in peace. I mean, a lot of people are like that so it's nothing weird. Oh, her name's Namine if you're wondering."
"That's a pretty name," Aqua thought aloud and Kairi giggled. She looked down for real before checking the time. "Oh no, there's no way I can finish this before the bell." She seemed genuinely worried.
"That's okay, we're normally given three days to finish an assignment," Kairi said. "That's how it's always is here. Well, how do you like the school so far?"
Aqua briefly thought about her answer as she switched out her charcoal for a softer one to fill out the shadows. "The campus is pretty big—I think I like it. I've met some nice people along the way too."
"Who? Maybe I know them."
"I met three in my first class—Tifa, Zack, and Terra. Ancient History didn't give me much of a chance to get to know anyone else though."
"Oh, you're a junior? Well you should join me and my friends for lunch if you don't have any plans." She stuck out a tongue, "you don't want to spend your first lunch with a whole bunch of guys. I think Axel and the others hang out with their group too."
Aqua was bemused. "Zack's quite the cavalier but he isn't too bad, neither is Terra. I only just met them though."
"Zack's crazy, I dunno what the other girls see in him. I guess it just depends on who you ask though. For example, it's funny how some people are absolutely scared of Terra, but he's a really nice guy. He's helped me out a few times and he's always holding the door open for someone. Still, I say you join us. My friends are super nice—I'm sure they would love to meet you."
Aqua giggled along with her when she pictured the two in her mind. Yeah, they would be like that. She returned to the drawing, smiling warmly to herself. It wouldn't hurt a bit to take Kairi up on her offer since it's not like the others brought up the issue of who she would sit with during lunch. "Sure, sounds great."
With the two of them returning to their work, neither of them noticed the girl named Namine fixing her pale blue eyes on the back of Aqua's head, clearly interested in something none of them were aware of. She slid a worn brown crayon into the box before grabbing a deep blue one. Sighing softly, the young girl began a new picture.
The end of the day came quicker than she imagined. Everything grew easier after Kairi insisted that they spend lunch together again and that they needed to hang out after school someday soon.
Aqua was waiting near the flagpole situated in front of the parking lot. She sent a text message to Ven telling him to meet her here where the car was.
After five minutes, she was ready to call the other and demand that he get here now before she got sunburn but a burst of laughter interrupted her train of thought.
Yep, that's definitely him I hear.
She turned around to wave for the other to hurry up, but her hand stopped halfway into the air.
"Huh, really now? That's crazy."
"I know right? Who would've—Oh hey, Aqua!" Ven called to her. Some students stared for a few moments as they passed by. "This is Terra, he's in my math class."
"We've met," Terra said, clearly amused. He smirked as he stuck his hands into his pockets, leaning back. "You never told me you guys were related. I mean, I noticed you were both new but you two don't look the least alike."
Ven stuck out his tongue as he joined Aqua by her side. "That's because we're not related, but we might as well be, right, Aqua? She's still my sister afterall."
"Of course, you. And great, now I have two boys to deal with," she joked. "What were you guys even talking about?"
"Oh!" Ventus jumped. "Aqua you wouldn't believe it—So you know this guy, Roxas? I swear he looks exactly like me with blonde hair and blue eyes. We're even in the same grade and everything—!"
"Nevermind, you can tell me on the way home." Aqua decided to take preventative measures by grabbing him by the shoulders and turning him around to steer him towards their car. She looked over her shoulder and smiled at their mutual acquaintance. "Thanks for showing me around and keeping Ven company. Tell the others I said bye if you get the chance, okay?"
Terra nodded and gave her a single wave. "Will do. You have a ride home?"
"Yeah—" she nodded towards a silver Toyota parked not too far away. "—see you in biology tomorrow."
"Same here. Bye Aqua, Ventus."
"It's Ven!" The blonde reminded him. "But bye, Terra!"
A/N: Whew, how's that for an introduction? I had more in mind but I decided to cap this at 5000 words. Not all the characters were even mentioned yet. More will be introduced soon, either next chapter or throughout the entire story. It was surprisingly hard to grade this many characters since you know, the Aqua, Ventus, and Terra are like 10-11 years older than Sora, Riku, and Kairi. Needless to say, ages are not canon. Before I forget, I wanted to make it clear that the students have a seven-class schedule with semesters (I will be a junior soon in my own highschool which has a 5-class schedule with trimesters instead of semesters. Yes, we have to take finals three times a year -_-). I'll be explaining the AU further on when the need arises.
As for shipping, I'm a bit of a TerraAqua fan but I like giving other characters love too D: I'm neutral on every other shipping and maybe you guys can take advantage of that ;). I want to focus on individual character development as well, but that doesn't mean I can't slip a bit of romance here and there. We'll see, what do you guys think?
I'm also bad at names so almost everyone will be going without a last name. In my head, I imagine the setting to be an AU Radient Garden and a highschool with a matching name, but that doesn't seem very creative does it? I'd love to hear your suggestions. Org 13 names will also vary between Nobody and Somebody names, depending on the character.
This is my first serious attempt at writing Kingdom Hearts and its been a while since I've written anything for this genre. In other words, this story is sort of experimental (I apologize for any Oocness. I hope I can get better at that) If you guys are interested in me continuing, I would appreciate your reviews, they're very encouraging.