A/N: This takes place a few months after the previous chapter. Aqua and the new character are 24 years old, Leon's 27, Terra's 25 and Kairi's 22.

Thanks: TopazDragon98, Yimo, Haru, The Punch Lord, and Keppaku. :)

~ Okay, so he was cocky. Very much so even. But somehow, it fit him. It made him look rather…charming. Did that even make any sense? ~

27) Truth

Terra blinked, utterly dumbfounded, as though he'd waken up from a daze. "Huh, wha...?"

It was quite clear that he hadn't been paying attention. She could only guess for how long that had been the case, and who he was thinking of.

Aqua sighed wearily, trying not to look too disappointed at the fact that he hadn't heard a word of what she was saying. "I was talking about the picnic we all promised to have. You know, tomorrow?" she reminded him gently.

Terra's eyes widened, because he had forgotten all about the picnic. "Oh. About that… I'm sorry, but I can't go tomorrow."

Aqua frowned, feeling like she just got a bucket of the coldest water thrown in her face. "Why not?"

She had been looking forward to this moment for so long; finally, the three of them could be alone, just like the good old days. Of course, this idea had been too good to be true.

"I already promised Kairi to go see that new movie with her. I think it was called Operation l'Amour,* or something. I'm sorry."

And he truly did seem to be sorry. The movie he was talking about did sound familiar to her too, because the media gave it a lot of attention, unfortunately. It was another attempt at one of those horribly cliché plots. Aqua, however, couldn't care any less about it, especially now that Kairi had something to do with it as well. Why was she always in the picture? How did she manage to pull that off?

"Not this again?" She couldn't help but become slightly irritated (more like jealous) at the fact that the red-haired woman was involved. "Just in case you don't remember, you also have friends who would like to see you every now and then, if that isn't too much of a problem. Don't Ven and I have the right to spend some time with you as well? We know we're not your girlfriend, but a little bit of credit would be nice, you know. And this is practically a tradition, since we do it every year to celebrate the beginning of our summer vacation!"

Terra rolled his eyes. "Well, I think it's a stupid tradition, anyway. We're not kids anymore. And I don't get why you're being so difficult about this. We drank something together last week, so no need to be so dramatic, okay?"

She narrowed her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. "That was more than two weeks ago and you had to leave after half an hour, because apparently, Kairi couldn't find the light switch without you."

It was out before she could stop it, but she was so angry right now that she didn't really care anymore. Someone had to take the initiative to wake him up and since Ven was still in Twilight Town (he'd arrive here later today, because Naminé still had a project for college to finish), Aqua had to do it this time. She was pretty sure that Ven would agree with her too. The only difference was that Ven wouldn't be so direct about it.

"Why do you have to be so damn selfish? Are you jealous because I actually have a relationship that works, unlike you?" Terra retorted.

It was low, Terra knew that, but Aqua had gone too far now. Sure, she was his best friend, but she had to know that Kairi was important to him too. Aqua couldn't talk badly about her. Besides, he really had no idea why she was going on and on about this, because this wasn't the first time they had to reschedule this "tradition." And not once had she acted like this before.

"Ugh, never mind already! I guess I'll see you around somewhere between now and next year…if you're not too busy with wiping You-Know-Who's ass that is."

With that, she stomped outside, just in time so that Terra didn't see the angry tears that rolled down her face. There was a nagging voice in the back of her mind that told her that maybe she had overstepped the line this time, especially with that last line, but the bluenette was too stubborn and hurt to listen to it.

The only good thing about today was the nice weather, which was why Aqua had decided to go to the Moogle Ice Cream Palace by herself. They had moved some tables outside, because it was so warm today, so she chose a table that was farther away from the roadside. She was avoiding all the other public places that Terra and Kairi visited often. The last thing she wanted was to run into a cheerful Kairi. Had Kairi not become Terra's girlfriend, Aqua might have become one of her greatest friends. But alas, real life didn't work that way...

At times like these, when she was all alone with those poisonous thoughts of hers, she really missed the good old times, when she could afford herself to be carefree and everything had been so easy. Her heart was aching for the times that she didn't have to try and ignore all the happy couples around her, just because it hurt too much to see those smiles on their faces.

She didn't know why, but suddenly, she thought about what Terra had once told her in the past: "There's gonna be a day when you'll regret growing up…"

That moment seemed to be now. He'd been so right about that. This day sucked so much; she didn't even want to begin to imagine how mad Terra was. How was she ever supposed to make it up to him now? She had insulted his girlfriend, and how.

It was only then that she realized how she had been staring at a dark-haired man for quite a while now... And he was staring right back at her with his glowing golden-brown eyes. Well drat.

Aqua twitched and quickly averted her gaze. This was just her luck to look like a total creep. Sometimes she was so deep in thought that she didn't even realize who she was staring at until it was far too late to rely on acting nonchalant to get away with it. It seemed to happen more often lately. Talk about awkward with a capital A. Unfortunately for her, she was too late this time; the man had already gotten up from his seat and he was heading her way now. At this point, Aqua was starting to panick visibly.

Please please please don't let him be some angry douche. That's the last thing I need today, she thought.

She had expected to hear something along the lines of, "The hell do you want from me, woman?" from the stranger.

Instead, he went for a more direct yet surprising approach. "What's on your mind? Did something happen?"

Aqua frowned as she looked at him. He seemed so familiar, from the black, gravity-defying spiky hair to the smoldering eyes. He was rather handsome too, what with his lightly tanned skin and designer clothes. And if she forced herself to ignore that arrogant look on his face, he could even be called beautiful...in a dark way. But there was also something about him that made her feel...uncomfortable. Maybe her mind was just playing tricks on her, but she could feel a dark aura around him.

The bluenette opened her mouth to tell him what was bothering her, but she halted when her first meeting with Terra came to mind. Besides, this guy was a complete stranger. Why would she tell him what was wrong? He wouldn't care anyway.

So instead, she asked, "Why did you bother to come here and ask me that? As far as I know, we don't know each other, so you shouldn't be checking on me like this."

"I just wanted to make sure you're not one of those crazy girls who want to stalk me next. Trust me, I've had the biggest trouble getting rid of my previous little stalker."

The corners of her mouth lifted up slightly, but she suppressed it when she became aware of it. Okay, so he was cocky. Very much so even. But somehow, it fit him. It made him look rather…charming. Did that even make any sense? Maybe it did it this case.

Aqua sighed. "If you must know, I'm fine. It's just that... A good friend of mine that I like doesn't like me all that much at the moment. That's all."

"Well, then he's an idiot, the stinking, dingy goat dung," he replied, without blinking.

Her mouth dropped open and she wondered if she had misheard him. "Excuse me?"

"Do you actually want me to repeat myself?"

That question made it clear that she hadn't.

"No, I don't want you to talk about my friend like that! You don't even know him!" Aqua replied angrily.

"Do I need to know him to be right? It's the truth that he let you down, isn't it? I think that says enough."

"Stop badmouthing him like this! What do you know about the truth? You don't even know the story behind it!"

Without realizing it, the bluenette had gotten up from her seat in the heat of the moment, her gaze never leaving his, blue against gold. Everyone around them was staring at the two and they could probably all feel the tension rising between them.

The dark-haired man lifted a brow at her, while crossing his arms over his chest. "What, now you're actually defending him? I can't believe this. What is wrong with you?"

"What is wrong with me? What's-" She caught herself right in time, shaking her head. Arguing with a total stranger in public? Not the smartest thing you could do. She didn't need the whole town to know that she had a bad day. "Ugh, I don't have to listen to this. Have a good day, Sir."

With that, she got up and walked away in a quick pace. However, she wasn't able to shake off the vague feeling that she had seen him somewhere before. If only her memory wouldn't fail her…

The stranger watched her go, rather intrigued by this seemingly angry but beautiful blue-haired woman. "That's a spicy one, for sure," he muttered, as an amused smirk appeared on his face. "Maybe she's just what I'm looking for…"

A/N: *Operation l'Amour was a nod to one of my few unfinished stories on here. It's pretty old, so it's best that you stay away from it. XD

Next chapter: "I'm not trying to scare you, or anything… Just consider it a fair warning. Vanitas is known for his dark business."