Isn't It Wonderful?
Though Terra would never admit it, he had always remembered that he'd first met Aqua when it was raining. It was fitting, of course, because "aqua" meant "water", and rain was made of water. And it very well might have been that that deemed the roles in which they would play.
It also could have been when the two shook hands for the first time. Terra could tell from her firm grip that she was telling him to treat her as an equal. And when Terra didn't hold back, Aqua knew that he sensed her as a threat. Despite the odds, despite them being opposites, they were evenly matched. And thus began the unrealistic belief that they had to best each other in every way humanly possible.
Terra locked eyes with Aqua grudgingly. She had a look on her face that hinted exertion. So it seemed she wasn't always this strong. Terra's face smoothed into kindness, and he released his strangled grip on Aqua. She was a new Keyblade wielder, after all. She hadn't yet trained like he had. He would be taking advantage of her if he allowed himself to win. So he reluctantly lost the one battle of wills, but he promised himself that as soon as Aqua came into her abilities as a Keyblade wielder, he wouldn't hold back.
Such an arrangement may or may not have worked out if they weren't landed with a mysterious blond Keybearer. For the longest time, they had been two Betas led by the Alpha, Master Eraqus. But Ven's appearance was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because it was destined that the earth, water, and wind always be together, but it was a curse because no heirearchy had been established. And there were too many people now to let it stay that way. There couldn't be two Betas, and so the powerful teens became competetive in eveything they new how.
It was a scorchingly hot day in The Land of Departure. As the three apprentices sat on their favorite railing linig the bridge, Terra tried very much to believe that it was the sun messing up Aqua's thought process, and making her act so calleously. "But really," Aqua said as she used a simple spell to drop some grass atop Terra's head. "It is wierd that you just have that one spike in the middle of your hair."
Ven, who had recently begun talking again, laughed at the display. To him, everything was so unclear. He thought the disciples had always acted this way, but at the same time, he saw the truth of it all. They taunted and teased and tried not to care, but the truth of the matter was that they cared too much. Ven knew without a doubt that if it all wasn't a game to them, that they would be something wondeful together. But for them, someone always had to win. And Aqua always resorted to nastiness.
Maybe it was the heat drugging up some memory Ven would have rather not remembered, but as he rubbed his arm self-consciously, he knew these two would lead to all three of their downfalls. Maybe even that of the multi-verse.
As expected, Terra instantly had a fiery comeback. Ven was left contemplating if maybe they needed a friend resembling fire to balance them all out. "That's real rich coming from a girl that has two strands of hair curve around her face. In fact, your hair's so spiky, I often think you have your helmet on!"
Aqua was about to reply with a smart remark of her own, but Ven silenced her as he placed a hand on her shoulder. Addressing Terra he said, "Look on the brightside, Terra. At least you need less hair gel to blend in with the other worlds' occupants. Me? I'm a headcase in so many different ways."
Aqua laughed, as she ruffled her young friend's hair. If anything, it only served to prove his point, as his hair became even more disssheveled. Terra, too, reached over to muss Ven's hair, but as the young boy fought him off whilst saying, "Lemme go!" He found he was bumping Terra and Aqua's hands together.
The two stayed like that from an ummeasurable amount of time. Ven would have liked to believe it was because they were trying to process their emotions, but he had a strong inkling that neither wanted to be the first to remove their hands.
Ven ducked down and put his head in his hands. Somehow, he felt like the buffer, as well as the annoying wedge between them all at the same time. Though he didn't really know what to do with the turn of events (he didn't have memories to go off of, after all), he was sure of one thing: if he ever left their side, the two would probably kill each other in their love.
Master Eraqus tapped his fingers on one of the three thrones that sat in the audience chamber, as he waited for his three pupils to finish their new test. It wasn't so much one for Ventus, as it was for Terra and Aqua. He had taken a leaf out of Master Yen Sid's book, and had opted to take a more mental route to find the answers to his new problem.
The test was simple. All it asked was for the three apprentices to list some of their likes and dislikes of each occupant in the castle. Though he'd included himself and Ventus, he didn't really care about those results. No, he was more concerned about Terra and Aqua.
So he sat, and he waited for the two to order their thoughts about each other. Ven had been the first done with the test, naturally. He'd even beaten Master Eraqus (who was taking the survey for equality). The Master had paused over his own work to look at Ven's. What he saw there had him smiling from ear to ear. The hyper youth had written pages, and pages, and pages for the good qualities. But even his dislikes were kind like, "Aqua tries to hide it, but I know she doesn't see herself as strong as us. She should have more confidence in herself."
Yes, Ven's kindness was enough to make any teacher proud. Eraqus only wished that the fact that he was part of the X-Blade (though Eraqus was becoming less and less disturned by this thought), and his lacking years in training, weren't keeping him from taking the soon approaching Mark of Mastery. Ven would make a fine Keyblade Master someday, and the Master wished very much so that it could be today.
Terra and Aqua were the real problem. The Master imagined it was his own fault for pushing them so hard, and seeming to show favoritism. The truth was that both were his favorites (and Ventus, too, after he'd regained himself). It was because of this that he always complimented them. And therein lie the problem. When Aqua got comments and Terra didn't, he was quick to think Aqua was the favorite and vice versa. Master Eraqus only wished Ven could have come along sooner. He didn't like that Terra and Aqua had come to always be at each other's throats, but maybe there was no avoiding it.
"Master, can I ask you about something?"
Aqua's voice sharply pulled the aged man out of his thoughts. Not even Ven's whistling and exiting the room had been able to do so. He groaned a bit in seeing that he was far from completing his own test, but what the children didn't know wouldn't hurt them. "What is it, Aqua?" The wise man asked as he sat up straighter, and tried not to notice that Terra seemed to be having a brain hemorrhage.
"Umm..." Aqua began unsure of herself. This immediately captured the Master's attention. Aqua very rarely was at a loss for words. He could only guess at what had caused this reaction now. "It's about what's written on the bottom of the test."
Ahh, so she'd discovered his ruse, eh? Master Eraqus smiled now, at Aqua's cleverness, but he was a bit disappointed that it hadn't had the desired effect. Standing up, Eraqus crossed over to Terra, and stole his test away. The young man yelped in shock, and Eraqus felt a slight smile playing at his lips. "Sorry to stop you, Terra. I'll be sure to read all your thoughts, as you've put so much work into it, but it wouldn't be fair for you to not know what Aqua has discovered."
As soon as the words left his mouth, Eraqus was immediately cursing himself. If anything, that would only serve to raise the animosity between them. Alass, Terra was looking rather downtrodden, while Aqua looked a bit smug. Allowing her current confidence to take hold of her, Aqua said, "Shouldn't Ven be here for this?"
Terra looked up curiously, but he hadn't lost all traces of his "failure face" yet. Master Eraqus resisted the heavy urge to sigh. "No. This doesn't concern Ven." Walking away from his pupils. Eraqus began pacing in wondering how best to go about this. Stepping under the stained-glass window, it seemed that the Light had given him the answer. "You're probably wondering, Terra, what Aqua has learned."
"Sir!" Terra exclaimed at once, as he straightened his posture in respect.
Master Eraqus sighed, and turned to face the boy he thought of as a son, when he said, "You needn't be so formal, Terra. I've told you this isn't a real test. No. You will not be graded on your answers, but you are being tested on something." Terra relaxed at this, and both teens (even though Aqua had some idea of what was going on) looked at their Master mystified, as he explained himself. "In very small print at the bottom of this test, was a note stating none of you had to do this if you found it. As long as you could read the directions, you would pass this exam. You see, this was a metaphor for you two. I feel you don't really read each other, and that you very well may be heading down a path of destruction."
"Master," Aqua said hesitantly, as she tried to ascertain how respectful she should be when she'd been instructed to "not be so formal". "Master," she began again more sure of herself, "I don't understand. Terra and I have known each othe-"
"Yes, you have known each other for many years," the Master interrupted her not unkindly. "But I fear you've been under a falsehood partly because of me. Have you both not just listed many things you don't like about each other? There has always been a rivalry between you two, but I think it's because you believe it's expected of you. At the heart of it all, I think you are hurting each other, and your bond, and I want it to stop. You have no need to prove yourself to me or anyone. You only need to approve of yourselves. So, yes, you two are best friends. But I think you are scimming each other more than reading."
And as it was, things did begin to get better for the two teens. But there was a tempest on the horizon. One that not even the Master could predict. Someone he thought he could read very well would betray him, and his apprentices would go down with him. He had told Terra and Aqua to approve of themselves. But with the teachings they'd believed in soon shot out the window, it was a difficult thing indeed.
Sometime before the Mark of Mastery, Aqua found herself sitting in the Forecourt. Since the day that the Master had expelled his fears and feelings, Aqua had sought to better things between herself and Terra. It wasn't easy breaking habits, especially when she hadn't realized the truth of what they were doing, but she tried. She allowed herself to believe that Terra deserved to be the first Master, that Terra deserved to be the Master and Ven's favorite. And sometimes late at night, when she couldn't hide from herself, she'd realize Terra was the one that deserved her heart. But wasn't this another form of her trying to best him? It seemed to Aqua that Terra didn't care at all to try and see things her way.
So instead, she focused on less important things. She thought of the way Terra's shoulders would ripple when he pinned her in combat. She thought of the way the sweat glistened on his back when it was too hot to wear a shirt. On those days, she was truly turned on by him because though she didn't want to be fragile, she didn't mind the idea of having a protector. It was funny how a few years of going through puberty made things she used to hate about Terra be what she wanted in him.
But she was a simple girl in Terra's eyes. A simple girl that wasn't overly girly. In the books they read about other worlds, not many women matched her description. If/when Terra settled down, he wouldn't want it to be with her. The thought was enough to make her despair, so she tried not to think about it much. She thought about shoulders, sweat, and protection, and she was in her happy place.
Of course, she almost threw the object of her affection off of the cliff when he snuck up behind her, and put a hand on her shoulder. Her Keyblade appeared instantly, and when she turned around, she noticed Terra eying it. No doubt, he was imagining dueling with her now, but he was just out of luck, wasn't he? She was too tired to train, and despite it being him, he was ruining her happy place. "I thought for sure you'd be in the library," he teased. "We all know the only time you spend outside is mandatory." Aqua rolled her eyes, and turned to move away from him, but his hand, suddenly, on her collerbone stopped her. She was about to scream at him that his words weren't true, and that he was a pervert, but what he said brought her up short. "I didn't think you'd let yourself get this pale. You always hate being like those princesses, and..."
Terra's voice trailed off. Whether it was because he lost his train of thought or he thought she'd be angry at him, she wasn't sure. She also wasn't sure why she was suddenly feeling what she was. Tears prickled at her eyes, and she found herself pushing back a sob. It was ludacrious to be crying out of happiness! But then again, no one had ever noticed that about her before.
Aqua scarcely wondered if Terra had paid attention to the Master's words that day. After all, he'd noted something about her she'd thought she kept well hidden, but, somehow, she knew Terra just knew this about her. And it was slowly dawning on her that she also knew things about him that no one else did. She found herself, once again, realizing that she was his destiny. Despite their messed up mentality around each other, she loved him. But she wasn't sure he loved her at all. She also wondered at how he couldn't realize how much she loved him. For many years now, she'd thought it was plainly written on her sleeve. She wanted to be worthy of him. That was why she tried so hard. And it was also because of him that she'd chosen magic as her field. He may not let her walk beside him, but she would always be behind him. She'd always catch him should he fall. She'd always try to heal the fractured pieces of his heart.
And it was only she that knew how fractured his heart was. She alone knew how he had come to be a Keyblade apprentice.
Later, Aqua would remember many things she hadn't noticed at the time. She'd remember the sun disappearing and the moon appearing; she'd remember how they leaned closer and closer until she could almost feel his own veins like a livewire. She'd remember how she'd sprewted some nonsense about, "At least the girls aren't afraid of their men. They hide from everything else, but the men choose to hide from them by staying outdoors."
And then she wouldn't remember anything. Because she knew that even if she had all her memories erased, this very moment was ingrained in her soul, and she'd always have it. Terra pushed Aqua back so she was leaning on and over the mountain. But she didn't feel the slightest tinge of fear because he was holding her. His lips danced across her neck first, as she moaned in pleasure. Though she needed his lips on her own, she was somehow glad for it. For once, her mouth wasn't insulting him, but commending him in its own language. Her legs tangled with his as he leaned over her, and she tangled her hands through his hair as he kissed towards her collerbone. She made sure to hold onto his one piece of spiky hair the most. Terra's hands followed his mouth, as fast as they could. Maybe it was in that moment somehow that Terra realized he would soon never follow her again. And when their lips finally met, it was heaven and hell together. Heaven because the citrus and sawdust taste and smell of him was so good. His tongue hit all the right places in her mouth to make her toes curl (and she did the same for him).
But it was hell because they'd never have this again. And when the two woke up screaming and crying each night, it was this memory that haunted them. It was this memory they wish had never happened. It's the memory they wished could happen eveyday.
Terra isn't surprised when Aqua punches his lights out when she runs into him at Mirage Arena. Having thought about the matter a lot (especially after having mawling things over in Destiny Islands), he recognized that Aqua had only been concerned for him. He'd thought that she, once again, had been trying to prove her superiority in pointing his Darkness out at him, but that girl was long gone. She didn't care about expanding her own good qualities anymore. She cared only about Terra's. It was sad for him to realize the death of this girl, the girl he'd fallen in love with, was because of him. Gone because she was trying to help him.
"I was only concerned for you!" She exclaimed as she nails him in the chest. Thankfully, he's wearing his armor to lessen the blow, but his face wasn't as fortunate. He would have liked to believe he just hadn't had time to put the mask on, but there was no fooling himself. As soon as he'd seen her here, after they'd both arrived feeling a strong number of Unversed, he'd wanted to see her beautiful face with nothing obstructing his view.
He wished to tell her that it was okay to care for herself again (her rage was proof that she'd been keeping too much bottled up for a long time). He wanted to tell her that the Unveresd here were, apparently, just Data that warriors that had faced them had created to fight them again and improve their skills. He wanted to tell her that, at the moment, there was no impending danger, and they should rebuild their relationship, but he couldn't.
Each moment he held onto her was a moment his fiery friend died more and more. Soon she'd be snuffed out completely, and he couldn't live seeing this shell of herself. Couldn't live knowing that he was the cause of it. If there was one thing he knew about Aqua, it was that her determination gave her reason. It also gave her stength to be Aqua. Well, he would give her a reason to call that nastiness back. "I don't know what you were expecting, Aqua," he said in false anger, as he rubbed his assaulted chin. "I told you I want to be alone. Which is, also, the real reason I told you we couldn't be a couple because of Ven that night. Can't you see that I just didn't want to be with you?"
And as Aqua's knees buckled, and she shook, Terra knew it wouldn't be too long before she resorted to her old ways. They always resorted to the old ways. In some ways, Terra felt that it was keeping those happy moments alive that allowed him to love her. But it was the bad that came with the good that made it so they would only ever be this. "You kissed me, Terra," Aqua said in nothing more than a whisper. She clenched her hands into fists, and he knew she was willing the tears away. "You said as soon as Ven found someone, so he wouldn't be a third wheel, that we'd-"
"I lied. I just wanted your body. That's all I've ever wanted. Who would want a girl like you when you don't know your place? The only perk is your amazing bod."
"No!" Aqua argued. Rainfell appeared in her hand, and he knew her helmet was also wanting to shield her. They were too alike. But how could she want to see his face when he was being like this? Could she really love him as much as he did her? And why hadn't she shot back yet? How had they switched roles? "If that were true, we would have gone all the way that night!" she exclaimed, as she willed her Keyblade away, and some of her tears did begin to fall. "You're lying! I don't know why, but I know you've kept your wayfinder, and-"
"Yeah. So I can stay connected to Ven." And he hates himself for saying it. Aqua's move to keep them all together with her thoughful gift, is one of the things Terra's the most glad she's done. Without her, he would have lost sight of the Light along time ago. And the paopu fruit he'd found washed ashore on Destiny Islands proved this. But they weren't meant to be together that way, and Terra would fold before he lost what he never had.
"I see," Aqua said sadly. Hallowly. Her gaze was locked on her shoes, and she looked very much like how Terra had in "losing" to Aqua during their exam that Xehanort had sabotaged. Aqua pushed her bangs out of her face, and her eyes were completely vacant when she said, "I always said you two would make the weirdest brothers. I never would have guessed I should have amended the last part to 'lovers'."
And as Aqua threw her Keyblade in the air to unlock the Lanes Between, Terra could still heal her heart break, even though her Keyblade has broken the sound barrier.
As Terranort held Aqua up by her throat, she remembered what the Master had said that day, and in that, she moves to prove her late Master wrong. She escapes from him, and as she summons her Keyblade into her hand, and challenges the man controlling her beloved Terra, she knows more than ever what she must do.
She had forgiven Terra for many things: his cruelness at times, his motivation to be best, his allowing the Darkness to seduce him away from her, his lies, his killing the Master. She's understood why he's done all of these things, and she had forgiven him for it. But the only thing she could never forgive him or herself for is to let this imposter steal everything away from them. So she fights him, and she dies inside doing it. But there's no other option she could have chosen, because a life without Terra was not a life worth living at all. She owed Ven, the Master, and Mickey. So she had to save him. She needed this to have a happy ending. She didn't need another reason to hope the three children she'd met would never have her and her friend's lives.
The battle ends up being grueling, exhausting, and close (as it has always been between them), and Aqua is glad that she'll probably pass out with no memory of the event, but she holds onto consciousness because Terra had broken free! She doesn't have much time to cherish the moment though. It all goes south rather quickly, and as Terra stabs himself in a misguided attempt to protect her from Xehanort, it's not even a thought when she dives into the pool of Darkness after him. She doesn't once think about herself. But rather the night they kissed, and his perfect touch. To regain his touch, she'd happily risk dying.
And she does metaphorically, though briefly, in holding onto his hand, and slipping her Keyblade into it. There's no other way, but she can't think about how awful and unlikey everything is. Instead she's glad that, for now, they haven't destroyed each other. They have outwitted fate. So with blind hope and happiness, she ends up sending him back to the Realm of Light. Losing consciousness as she drifts, she lets her wayfinder light the way. She will do so from now on. Maybe she should have been Terra's hope all along. Because though she's without him, that she can live with.
"Nastiness?" A young Aqua asked when Terra accused her of being that for the first time. "The only thing 'nasty' is that you refer to a sweet girl that way shortly after she's arrived. There are many ways that can be taken, and if you mean it as me stinking, I'll show you how 'nasty' I can be."
"You have to learn how to do a spell properly? Well, tell the Master I'd sooner 'properly' drop his teachings if he sticks me with someone as mean as you." Aqua was sitting on her bed in this flashback, and she promptly slammed a book shut after saying her piece. And though Terra heeds her hint to leave, he catches the tears as they trail down her cheeks, right before he leaves.
"Terra. I don't understand why you won't let me help you. It's not like my hair is going to sprout into a sea and drown you when my hair brushes your cheek. I have to be close to you to guide you." Aqua had been trying to show Terra how to lace magic with his physical attacks, and he'd squirmed at her touch, but not for the reason she'd thought.
"I don't understand why Ven seems to want to spend more time with you! You're so reckless, careless, brainless, thoughtless-" Terra hugged the girl to shut her up, but to also comfort her in feeling she'd been rejected by her new friend.
Terra and Aqua played memories like this over and over in their heads. The oddest thing for them was learning that they wouldn't change a thing. But they'd also noted little things they'd missed. No, their relationship wasn't natural. Both took as much as they gave. But that's what made it so magical and spectacular. That was what made them them. So Terra played these memories to break free of "himself" and Aqua held onto them to hold onto herself. And it was in this way that they kept track of time. It moved slowly, and achingly, but move it did.
Sora had expected many things from what he'd heard about Terra and Aqua. He thought that they might embrace each other the way he and Kairi had in The World That Never Was. He thought maybe Terra would propose to Aqua as some of his friends from other worlds had proposed to their girls. Heck, from what Sora had heard from Vanitas, he didn't put it past them to mutilate each other upon sight.
What he saw in the passing days since their rescue (he actually hadn't been privy to the reunion scene because they'd gone somewhere quiet) was as shocking, as it was expected.
Because, really, one would have thought they'd have gotten over their need to be defined in a group as crazy as their new one, but it wouldn't be them if they didn't tease, taunt, play games and be nasty.
"That was cheap, Aqua!" Sora heard Terra explain from their bedroom.
All of Sora's friends and the people he'd restored were staying at Disney Castle for the time being. Mainly so the King could sort out exacly what had happened, and find a place for everyone. It was mostly for everyone to ajust to their new lives relatively. But everyone was, also, just a little on edge that Xehanort would come back. Again. They had legitimate reasons to fear this, and they'd make sure he was long dead and gone before they did anything else. Everyone had a personal vindetta with him, after all.
Sora shook his head to regain his bearings, as he heard Terra continue. He could almost see his dark features set against the whites and golds that all the rooms had. "I mean, really. Stabbing Xehanort in my tickle spot? Sure it brought me back, but I never thought he'd go down in giggles."
Aqua rolled her eyes (or, at least, Sora imagined she did). Her tone was very belligerant when she said. "You're the cheat! You know what your muscle's done to me all along! And what did you do? Not use a single attack other than brute strength. Even when you weren't you, it was distracting! I did what I could. Besides, if you'd willed Xehanort to walk more, you wouldn't have that little love handle, and it wouldn't be ticklish."
"I'll show you love and handling!" And as Sora heard Aqua squeak, and the mattress squeak, he imagined it was time he stopped listening.
Aqua was laughing hysterically at the sound of Sora retreating, and Terra had to shove a hand over her mouth lest she give them away. She kicked him off, but fortunately Sora was long gone then. Terra rubbed his abdomen distractedly when he said, "I can't believe he saved us all."
Aqua giggled, and pulled Terra back into the bed by his hand, and she smiled radiantly at him. For a moment, she forgot what she was thinking, as Terra was kissing her, but the cheek instantly came back when she pulled away. "Technically, I beat Xehanort, remember? We were just talking about it."
"You know we were only saying that for Sora's ears," Terra said with a considerable pout, and malice in his eyes.
Aqua laughed again, and rolled over so she was on top of Terra on the striped bed coverlet. "I like being up here," she mused. Before Terra could say what he was planning on, she added, "And it's true, even if we were playing a game with Sora."
Terra sighed as he rolled them over. Aqua was laying beside him now, and she regarded his change in mood curiously, as she kept his cheek cupped in her hand. "Ter-"
"All this time, and we still play these games. Is that even natural, Aqua?"
The bluenette smirked, and it was a wonder she was so confident, so her old self, when for the longest time she'd been broken and selfish in her selflessness. "There was never anything natural about us, Terra. But I think that's why we work. Besides, we don't have a heirarchy amongst all these insane people. We can poke fun without having to worry about dire consequences simutaneously."
And the words, though mostly speculative and joking, had never rung more true to Terra. For a moment, he smiled. And then he thought he'd never stop. Things were so perfect now. He was actually in control of his body, and could smile. And since he'd lost everything to obtain it, hell would have to freeze over before he let anything be taken away from him. Before he let Aqua be taken away from him. Terra stroked Aqua's collerbone, and the girl hummed in pleasure. Once again, Terra said the right thing. Something she'd been pondering that no one else would know. "Why didn't we let someone take the reigns to begin with?"
His answer was a sweltering, sweet kiss.
And Ven, as he briefly saw the two of them through his window across from them, smiled. In some ways, things had happened in a way he could have never imagined. But he was happy to be wrong. They hadn't killed each other.
But even more, he saw the truth of it all. They taunted and teased and tried not to care, but the truth of the matter was that they cared too much. Ven knew without a doubt that it all wasn't a game to them. That they would be something wondeful together.
Author's Note: This is long overdue, as I love TerQua, but whenever I get an idea for them, I'm usually like, "It'd be even funner to try this with the Darker Vanitas." And thus I've never posted a full Terra/Aqua story until now. But as this is so long, I think it more than makes up for it. I absolutely adore this piece! It's probably my favorite, and I hope to write more like it in the future.
Also, this is HUGELY inspired by Subtlynice on here. Her story about Scorpius and Rose (Draco and Pansy's son and Ron and Hermione's daughter from Harry Potter) is what made me come up with a dynamic for Terra and Aqua. That was another problem with me writing them. I didn't know how they'd act. But I really like this, and it seems true to them. But if it weren't for her story "It's All Fun And Games" and summery for it, "It's a game to them. They taunt and tease and try not to care. But she can't help it. In the end, she always resorts to nastiness." this never would have existed. So if you like HP, go read that please. It's AMAZING.
And the thing where Eraqus put that hidden direction on the test actually has happened to me at school. It was mainly to show that we needed to read directions. And, sadly, most of us didn't and took the dang test. I always wanted to incorperate that into a story, and I'm glad I did.
So I hope you enjoyed it! I'll try to post more fics, but bare with me. NaNo's going on, and as I'm participating, I'll be in a mental haze.
And I apologize for any mistakes. Not having Microsoft Word is problematic. I have looked this over many times. But, once again, I apologize for any mistakes I missed. And that my italics disappeared. Weird...