Escape

Terra stood up and dusted grass, dirt, and loose skin off of his sullied knees. Biting the inside of his cheek, he tried to starve off the embarassment he felt. That had been too much like his old life. It had been who he'd been before he had dreams of becoming a Keyblade Master. Aqua was the last person he'd ever wanted to see him like that. Terra closed his eyes and resisted the urge to fall to the ground or retch on the spot. "Aqua... I'm sorry."

Terra had the benifit of seeing Aqua's eyes bug out in shock (what he'd been aiming for during their fight, so an easy victory would follow suit) and hearing Ven call his name before the darkness overtook him.

...

Ven was drumming against what he deemed the infirmary's "uncomftorable" chairs when Terra ended up waking up. Ven had been tappy-tapping for awhile, and Aqua hadn't raised a fuss. But Terra instantly demanded he shut up. Ven's horror was enough to calm Terra's fit for a moment. But all too soon he was calling for Master Eraqus to come and take Aqua away. "Terra!" She exclaimed while the Master tried to get her to leave the room, "I'm worried about you, too. Why do I have to leave?"

Terra didn't even look at Aqua when he said, "This is why I don't want her here. And this is why I didn't want you to have a girl apprentice in the first place!" Eraqus was quick to reprimand Terra for saying that.

Ven was even quicker at getting Aqua-surprisingly roughly-through the door. "Sorry, Aqua." Ventus said as he rubbed the back of his head uncomftorably. "But maybe you should come back later. I think Terra's injury is effecting his emotions."

"Yeah," Aqua sniffled a bit, but was quick to pass it off as alergies. She didn't cry. Especially not for someone like Terra. Sweet, sensitive, protective Terra. Why was he treating her this way? Banging her hand against a wall, she tried to sort out what had happened. Sure there were instances when Aqua thought Terra was jealous of her, but nothing like that could have warranted such behavior, right?

You don't know anything about Terra. How can you be so sure?

Hanging her head, Aqua (for once) did exactly what Terra had asked of her. She returned to her room, and she glared at the rich sunlight that not even her curtains could dull. Her room was a mess for once. Blue was the focal point, but since Aqua's colors always matched her mood, she noted she had a lot of yellow materials littering the usually well kept space. Aqua fell to her bed with a hand drawn to her forehead. Dark emotions begged to cloud her better judgment, and Aqua had the strong desire to paint her nails black. Instead, she fell asleep. Instead, she dreamed.

...

Aqua's eyes darted upward in wonder upon seeing Terra ignite himself in fire, and use a Command Style. She clutched her rabbit stuffed animal closer to her chest, and felt Rainfell's voice flicker into life. It was beckoning her to summon it. But Aqua kept the reaction at bay. Terra was Terra. He was easily angered, strong willed, and impassive at the best of times, but he wouldn't hurt her. Aqua knew that as much as she knew her field was magic.

Terra landed lithely on his feet, and as he grew closer and closer to her line of vision, he looked even more like a tall, billowing building. Master Eraqus applauded Terra kindly, but he had a raised eyebrow, and slight laugh in his voice when he said, "Your technique is good, Terra. But dare I say you're showing off? After all, one doesn't need to leap into the air to enter Firestorm."

Aqua ignored Master Eraqus' wise words completely when she ran to hug Terra, but came up short. Instead, she stood just in front of him with a mad blush. Her stuffed animal, she realized, probably wasn't doing well in hiding her embarassed look. Even then, she pushed forward anyway. "That was amazing, Terra. Thanks for showing me that."

Terra's eyes locked onto Aqua's accusingly, as he gaged her response. From the very beginning, the two had set out to outdo each other. So Aqua understood his reaction, as she was much the same way. It still unnerved her though. It unnerved her for a reason she wouldn't truly understand until much later. "Thank you, Aqua." Was the eight year old's haughty, and quick response. He deftly plucked Aqua's stuffed bunny out of her arms, and headed back towards the door that would lead into the kitchen.

Aqua, of course, was hot on Terra's heels. "Give him back, Terra!"

The brunette just smirked, as he barely turned to face Aqua. He then set off onto a full out sprint, and only when Aqua leapt on his back did he stop his manauvers. As a natural response, Terra had meant to push Aqua away, but the girl noted his fingers twining around some invisible force before he let his fist fly, and made contact with Aqua's jaw. Master Eraqus was there in an instant, prying Aqua off of Terra and checking her over, but it was Terra the two were the most concerned about.

As it was, Terra's eyes had taken on an icy color. He didn't even seem to see the Master and Aqua when he shrunk in on himself. Instead, he repeated the simple word, "No," over and over. When Aqua exchanged a worried look with her teacher, she noted that he suddenly had a guarded air to him. Master Eraqus was hiding something, and Aqua promised herself that she would find out what it was. Nothing could make Terra clawing at his head, and muttering in half delerium, right. Nothing.

When Aqua's eyes snapped open, and she remembered clearly her dream, she knew her path was set. She put on some slippers, but didn't care at all that it was now quite early . She was going to find Terra.

...

Terra's hair rustled with the slight wind, as it tore at him relentlessly. He closed his eyes tightly against the onslaught. He was currently atop one of The Land of Departure's highest peaks. It reminded him of his own world, and he found himself overlooking the pristine, white castle for that reason. It was also for that reason that Terra wanted to run away as fast as his feet could take him. In that moment, he strongly wished that he was as fast as Ven. As fast as the wind. Maybe if he was that fast, he'd be able to outrun his past. In fact, maybe if he was faster his past wouldn't have happened at all.

"Terra?" Terra whirled around so fast, he might as well have gotten whiplash. He stared at a rather sheepish looking Aqua. She had her one arm draped over the other. She looked positively guilty, and he had to laugh at it. Aqua adopted a stern look at his amusement, but otherwise remained unmoved.

Closing the gap between them, Terra ran over to Aqua (relishing that he was further away from the edge this way), and grabbed her hands in his own. Aqua stepped back, startled at the show of affection. This wasn't like how he usually acted, and Terra knew it. He wasn't really acting like himself at all lately, and he sighed as he sat down. Aqua, curiously, followed after him. Without even thinking, she reached out a hand to put atop Terra's shoulder, as she looked at him concernedly. "I'm not one to usually question our dynamic, but you're acting odd, Terra. Even for you."

The brunette smirked, but a true smile was soon to turn up his lips. He said, simply, one thing: "I'm sorry, Aqua. I've been going through a rough time lately, and I shouldn't have included you in that. Even if you do have the annoying tendency to best me."

More than one eyebrow was raised when Aqua opened her mouth to contest that. Of course Terra did (because she was making his point for him). But Aqua did, too when she realized what she was doing. The teens both giggled at her action, and of its own accord, Aqua's head found its way to rest on Terra's shoulder. He curled an arm around her waist, and pulled her tighter. Up and to the left, a baby bird was following its flock, as they glided across the silver sky. The sky was gray in the early morning, but it didn't seem to promise rain. It looked rather... beautiful. As beautiful as Terra's best friend.

Of course, it would be the moment that Terra thought this that Ven would peek up at the two. He waved eagerly before the Master (partially hidden by the rolling, green hills of the valley) called him to order, and reminded him that they were in the middle of a one-on-one practice session. Ven, was in fact, beautiful. A beautiful disaster actually, but he wasn't who Terra had been referring to.

"Would you be kind, and explain to me what all of this is about?"

All at once, Terra's eyes hardened. He stood up again, and walked purposefully away from Aqua, as he rubbed his hands together in thought. "Sometimes, I think we have to take a step back to make things right. To see what we have. I'm sorry, Aqua. But I can't tell you all of it. I just can't."

Snow fell atop the two teens, and a dead silence passed between them. It was so quiet, in fact, that Terra thought he could hear each individual snowflake settle on the ground beneath him. Terra... did not like snow. Nor did he like high places, being slow, or the Darkness. In short, he didn't like anything of what he was. Aqua must have noted how Terra's emotions were having at him, because she stood up again, and put a hand on his cheek. Terra turned around to face her slowly. And when his chin still rested in her grasp, it seemed to him that she could easily kiss him if she wanted to. Not that she'd want to, of course. "Terra, please tell me. I can't help you if you don't. And you're acting out of character."

Startling Aqua, Terra summoned Earthshaker into his hand, and rested it on Aqua's shoulder. The girl rolled her eyes. Terra noted she probably was thinking he was doing some skit where he, the man, was already a Keyblade Master, and making Aqua his Successor. Without a second thought, she shoved the Keyblade away, but she did run her fingertips over the individual grooves in the Key. "You don't understand, Aqua. I'm not worthy of wielding a Keyblade. My parents' death was my fault. And the Master has a flawed view of me. I-"

He didn't know what he was saying, really. But Aqua was right in that he was acting peculiar. He never was one to show weakness. He was never one to question himself, or not try to beat Aqua in something. Now he was chastising himself. Now he was holding guilt for something. Opening the gift that his mother had left him had set him down a trail. A trail he wasn't sure he could come back from. Especially since the Master had said that Darkness usually began showing itself in legal adults. He was now eighteen. Aqua's gift of an alarm clock (so he'd stop sleeping through the days she made waffles for breakfast), and Ven's gift of a boomerang was proof of this. But he was happy for the gifts and nothing else.

"I don't believe that, Terra." Aqua argued with her hands crossed over her chest. She looked at him with a touch of anger, but Terra was even more apalled to see tears dotting her eyes. Why would Aqua be crying for him? Especially since he hadn't explained everything. Especially since she'd usually take any chance to be the Master's favorite. Oddly enough, Terra felt himself gravitating towards her. He went to put a hand on her shoulder, but Aqua caught his wrist before it met its mark, and threw it off angrily. "Terra. It's ridiculous to think you had something to do with your parents' murder. I know you. You would never do that. You're letting your nightmares of that day cast bad things on you. You don't want to believe people are so bad. It's easier to assign the blame to yourself, then."

Terra stared at Aqua, shocked, as he swung Earthshaker at his side subconsciously. Everything she was saying made sense, but it was too good to be true. Too good to believe. That had been the last day of his life before Master Eraqus had taken him in as an apprentice. Before his real life had begun. It seemed a common principle that has new life be touched with Light, but his old one be tainted by Darknsess. Especially since he'd lived many sleepless nights imagining how he could have saved them. That he could have done things differently.

Terra hadn't even realized he'd sat down until he felt Aqua nestling herself into his lap. It wasn't in an intimate or romantic gesture, but a friendly one. A way to comfort him. Aqua held Terra close to herself, and through that, the storms seemed nothing but a passing thing. Terra, perhaps a masochist by nature, closed his eyes. He couldn't bear to see the trust in her eyes. To believe it himself. The Master had drilled in them enough times that Darkness was evil. That it was something to be destroyed. And Terra feared he'd nearly destroyed Aqua more than once. The time he used a sphere of Darkness against her when they were eight. Yesterday when he'd felt the Darkness in him, but used it on himself before he could hurt Aqua. If anything, he needed Aqua to stay away from him. He needed that like he needed air to breathe, but he was weak.

"Aqua, you don't know. The Heartless we learned about devoured their hearts; we were out mountain climbing. If I hadn't been at camp, if I could have gotten to them fast enough, if there wasn't Darkness in my heart to summon the Heartless, the-"

"Terra, Terra, Terra," the water maiden had to say the earth apprentice's name three times. It was only then that he heard her through his hysteria. "The Master saw something in you when he found you that day. We all see something in you. You're one of the best people I know, Terra. And we all have Darkness in us. It's if we give in that determines good or evil. And I refuse to believe you're evil. I'll always refuse."

Burrying his face into the crook of Aqua's neck, Terra sobbed.

...

Aqua sat with her knees drawn to her chest, as she watched over Terra in his room. It had been a difficult thing getting the unhinged Terra down the mountain and into bed, but she'd managed to do it somehow. He was very feverish now, and Aqua had had to change his cold compress more than once. She'd talked to the Master when she'd deemed it safe enough to leave Terra for a short time. It turned out that his mother had left Terra a spell to lighten dark rooms. She'd given it to him as a child, but had made him promise not to open the gift until he was eighteen. Of course, realizing your parents weren't with you in adulthood would be enough to sadden anyone. Add that to the fact that Terra had developed misplaced guilt, the idea that he was evil, and that his mother had given him a spell for Light... it wasn't hard to guess why he was messed up.

The blue haired girl sighed dramatically. At least she seemed to have found a lot of her answers. Terra did seem to have more Darkness then Ven and herself, but she didn't see it as a problem. In fact, she respected Terra more for his strength and control. For being a better Key bearer than the Master even. Of course, Aqua would never tell anyone she thought that. It was odd to her that Master Eraqus didn't seem to know the full story of Terra's parents. He'd even been there for part of it. But Terra, half out of his mind, had seen fit to tell Aqua even more. She tried not to read too much into that.

The mage laughed when she heard Ven bang on the wall. Aqua knocked back three times to let Ventus know that Terra was still sleeping. It was a code they'd made long ago. Mainly because Ven was never allowed around the sick tennants because he had the worst immune system imaginable. If possible, Ven was even more keyed up when people were sick. Aqua really had to wonder how the Master was still well in having to keep up with the hyper youth. He was a strong man, indeed.

Aqua's line of thoughts were cut off when a strong breeze made Terra's cream blinds crash against the window. It was still snowing in large amounts outside, and Aqua wished it would stop. Terra was already sick. He didn't need a type of weather he didn't like (that already lowered one's immune system) to make it worse. "Stupid blinds," she muttered, as she tried to still the things. She would have taken them off the wall all together if the light wasn't so glaring. With a sigh, she managed to make them stay in place with a neck-tie. It was a terrible patch work job, but it would have to do. Turning around from the window, Aqua was prepared to go back to practicing spells at the tip of her Keyblade, but she was brought up short when she saw Terra up.

"Terra!" Not even pausing to see if he had an excuse for himself, Aqua crossed to the side of the room she'd just vacated, and tried to get Terra back into bed. "Terra, you should be resting." When Terra wouldn't comply to laying down until she left him alone, Aqua thought it best to pay attention to something she could handle. The cold compress that had fallen to the floor. She picked it up, and meant to put it to Terra's forehead when she said, "I'm sorry this fell off. Is that what woke you up? Do you want a new one?"

"Aqua," Terra chuckled with a heavy amusement in his voice (the sound was music to Aqua's ears), "I'm not sick. I was just upset. You don't have to worry."

"Heightened emotions can make you sick, Terra! Your mind can only handle so much. And I do have to worry. You were blaming yourself for things, and you seemed borderline suicidal!"

At once, Aqua clapped a hand over her mouth, but it was too late. The words were out. She'd probably hurt Terra and reminded him of what he was trying to forget in the first place. She peeked at him out of the corner of her eye, but he got up and just stood stock still in the center of his black room (ironic that his room seemed to match his mood, as well); he looked very tense. It seemed he wanted to argue something at Aqua, but he restrained himself.

Leaping from his bed (much the way she jumped on Terra when they were eight), the girl walked to Terra's side, and put a hand on his shoulder. He bowed his head in anguish, but still had it in him to say, "As blunt as ever, I see. Gosh, even when I'm sick you don't let up, Aqua. I have to say I'm surprised you comforted me at all, then. It's not exactly a secret that we like to tear each other down."

"Don't do that, Terra."

"Do what?" He asked this with a raised eyebrow. His body was still rigid, but Aqua noted the hint of curiosity in his voice.

Drawing on this, Aqua aimed to fix what had gone wrong between them. Well... this time, anyway. She still had much she wanted to yell at him for, but that all could wait. Terra was right. What he needed was her support now. He needed that more than anything. The know-it-all in her could take a hike, as far as Aqua was concerned. "Don't think I didn't mean the kind things I said. Don't push me away, but mostly don't give yourself another reason to beat yourself up. I think that's what you do most of the time. Why are you so self-destructive, Terra?"

Looking at Aqua in a way she didn't understand, Terra began walking towards her until she had to fall back onto his bed. Terra held Aqua's chin in his hand the way she had him hours earlier. She wondered, then, if he'd kiss her now. He'd seemed to want to earlier, but Aqua hadn't wanted to risk going too far with someone that was so upset. She didn't want to take advantage of him. He meant too much to her.

Even though she didn't know how to explain it. Even when she didn't have the faintest idea of how to make him know how much he meant to her. But she had to, didn't she? Terra's state of mind depended on it. The simple life they knew and loved needed it, and somehow, she felt his very life depended on it. "Terra, the fact that you feel the way you do proves how much you care. In fact, you care too much. You look for anyway to lighten a memory. To hold onto your loved ones. You're the best of us, Terra. And I wish you could see that. But I feel you'll always be lost in this blizzard. You hold onto things, Terra. And to dwell lets in Darkness. But to dwell is how we're human. To dwell is how we feel good things at all. I'm glad for the bad because if it weren't for that, I never would have met you."

Kneeling in front of Aqua now, Terra ran a hand over Aqua's cheek before holding onto both of her hands. Aqua blushed at his scrutiny, and all she'd said. And at that, Terra had to revel in the moment. Terra realized then that words would never be enough. So, like what had become accustom of the two, Terra acted impulsively.

He didn't answer her. Instead, he ran and belly flopped onto his gray bed. He landed on top of Aqua that way, and though she certainly had pain in her ribs now, Aqua didn't care at the moment. Nor did she care that the sheet he draped over his bed, (it had once had an extra bunk above it) to make it a fortress, was falling on top of them. This, at least, was white. It was somehow reminiscent of the snowfall they'd both wanted to escape. And when Terra's hand curled in Aqua's, she had to wonder if they had. In the storm that meant to tear apart their lives, they'd escape with each other. That was something they'd always have, and Aqua knew that. It had been ingrained in them from the beginning. To remain free by the skin of their necks.

"You're just as bad as me, Aqua. We both do that. But I guess that's why I'm starting to believe you now. Why I told you the whole story, and no one else. I told you."

"You told me," Aqua said this the same moment that Terra muttered the last bit. They both seemed to be marveling at it. It was amazing, really. Whoever would have thought the quarelling kids would ever share so much? That they'd ever be so close?

It was meant to be. Meant to be, the same way, that Terra's life would end and begin in a snowstorm. That his guilt and fear of them would end through one.

And when Terra stayed atop Aqua, long after his leap, it seemed he'd finally won a fight. For once, he didn't have to hold back his Darkness because this action was all Light. Terra kissed Aqua's lips lightly, and it was like the swirling snowflakes pressing against his glass window. The snow was carried away by the wind, and so were they.

Author's Note: This fic is for the wonderfully, dear Celine. And I do hope you like it. I meant to write you a VanAqua, but since I did that for your b-day, I decided you might like a TerQua. You do write for them the most after Vanitas and Aqua.

Anyway, I don't know how I feel about this. It seemed to go from angsty to really fluffy. I think my mind rejected the angst. I've been writing too many serious things lately.

I've actually had this idea for awhile now. And it actually can be see as an expansion to part of my, "Isn't It Wonderful?" story. Though you don't have to read either to understand the various stories. Gosh, I'm glad to have written TerQua. I need to write more for them.

There's a lot of throwbacks to Alacquiene's stories in this. I thought it fitting since this is for her. Mainly the title, "Escape" is one of her stories. It's actually how we met and became friends. But Aqua's stuffed bunny, Terra's stealing said bunny, Aqua making waffles, and Aqua decorating (and liking) colors with her mood... are all from Alacquiene's stories. So thank her for that. LOL.

I actually think this set up BbS rather nicely.

Kudos to anyone who picks up the Kelly Clarkson song, Roswell (TV show), and Lord of the Rings reference.

So, I hope this makes sense to everyone. It does to me, but if you have questions, feel free to ask.

I'm running out of things to say now. Hope you liked it, Celine. If not, I'll make something else for you. Merry Christmas, I love ya.

Also, forgive any mistakes. I still don't have Microsoft Word, so I undoubtedly missed stuff.

Merry early Christmas! Keep checking my account this month. I'm uploading a ton of gift fics.

-Shanna