Set in the Land of Departure.

I was actually planning on making this chock-full of one-sided love.
But I couldn't do such a thing to Aqua. Hahaha!

Anyway, I haven't written about this pairing in quite a while.
Actually, I haven't really written anything in a while.
So I really hope you enjoy reading this.

DISCLAIMER [I do not own Kingdom Hearts] DISCLAIMER


NOT KNOWING

What to Think. How to Feel.


Aqua sighed softly, seated on her bed. Her fingers were rhythmically tapping the cover of a book on her lap that she had been reading only moments ago. If she was asked, though, she would not be able to say what the contents of the book were. Her eyes had flown across the words without grasping what they meant. Even the pictures were meaningless blotches of black and white. Her mind was simply too troubled and her heart was too restless.

Her eyes wandered to the calendar she had propped up on her desk. She looked briefly at the current date, and then her gaze moved seven boxes to its left. This one, she had marked with a star; the day of the Mark of Mastery Exam.

Seven days…

She felt as though she were running out of time. It seemed only yesterday that Master Eraqus told her and Terra about the Exam, when in fact it had been weeks ago. She had so many decisions to make, so many personal conflicts to settle… Closing her eyes for a moment and taking deep breaths, she tried to clear her mind. Her efforts, though, were in vain. She frowned, despondent. This was something she was sure she couldn't figure out on her own…

Setting the book down on her bed, she stood up and left. She hoped Master Eraqus wouldn't mind her bothering him at this hour.


Ventus knocked on her bedroom door, intending to ask her about something that Terra said.

"Aqua? Are you in there?"

There was no answer. He frowned a little, and tried the doorknob, being just a tad bit too impatient. If he didn't ask her now, he might never get the guts to try again. So, he turned the knob and her door was unlocked. He let himself in.

He sighed, though, as soon as he entered. It seemed he had just missed her – the lights were on, and the window was open, things she never left this way. She must have left in a hurry. He stood there for a second, pondering his next move or where else he might be able to find her, when a realization dawned on him.

He has never actually been inside Aqua's room before. He always just stood at the open doorway, leaning on the frame. This often happened when he called her for meals, or for training, or when he just wanted to be in her company.

She would always open the door for him, smile, and say, "Just a minute, Ven." Then she would slip on her boots, or something, and then she would leave with him.

He slowly looked around the room. Generally, it was the same as his; two doors – one leading to a bathroom and one leading to the hallway – and a seamless series of windows on one wall. There were four walls, a wardrobe, a desk, a chair… But hers was so clean, the walls and floors free of scuff marks and scratches, and every time he inhaled, he felt as though he were in the gardens, or in her embrace…

The boy shook his head, frowning, knowing that if he let that thought grow, it would reach inappropriate proportions. Thanks in part to Terra's successful corruption of his mind. Again, he shook his head of the second inappropriate thought. He wondered instead if Aqua would be upset that he infiltrated her personal space without her permission. He grinned, imagining her angry face. With Aqua, an angry face didn't look so angry, rather it just seemed tired and confused combined.

His thought was interrupted, though, when a rather harsh gust of wind blew into the room. He hastily crawled onto her bed in order to reach the window, and pulled it shut. Sighing again, he decided that he should leave. If Aqua wouldn't be upset by his entering her room, she might be if she sees him on her bed.

So he moved back to get off the bed, but he knocked something onto the floor. He turned around, looking for whatever it was, and saw a book. He picked it up, settling down on the edge of her bed, and looked at the title.

"Huh," he murmured. "Thoughts of the Heart - A Collection of Stories for the Romantic Soul. I had no idea Aqua liked this kind of stuff. It must be a girl thing…"

Ventus laughed a little, flipping the book open. Once upon a time… he began to read, forgetting in typical Ven fashion that he was supposed to be leaving.


Aqua paced back and forth in front of her Master's study. Now and again she would stop pacing, think to knock, then change her mind, and start pacing again. Two thoughts made her hesitate.

The first was if Master Eraqus was not there, or that he was too busy. She did not want to bother him, of course, especially since it was already quite late.

The second thought was if he was there, and he did have time to talk to her... Was this really a matter that was safe to discuss with Master Eraqus?

Before she could come up with an answer to that, the doors opened, and Master Eraqus raised an eyebrow at her.

"Aqua, is everything alright?"

She realized that her footsteps must have been louder than she thought. "Yes, Master," she answered, forcing a smile onto her face. "Everything is fine."

He noticed, though, that her face was flushed and in her eyes were the hints of a deep thought. So, of course, he did not believe her. "Why don't you come in? Tell me what it is that has you so bothered that you would spend the better half of an hour pacing outside my study."

She felt a bead of sweat on her temple, and she hastily wiped it way. "I don't… Huh? It has been how long?"

"Half an hour," he answered. "At least."

Aqua paled a little. She was not aware of the time. "Master, really… I don't want to bother you, especially since it's already so late…"

"Nonsense," he said, raising a hand to silence her. "Come in."

She sighed, but followed him into his study. She took a seat on the sofa that was set to one side of the room, and Master Eraqus sat on the armchair adjacent to it. "Now tell me," he said.

"I… I am faced with a difficult decision," she said, her hands intertwined on her lap.

Eraqus nodded, urging her to continue.

"You see, Terra asked me if I would journey to other worlds with him when we have both become Masters," she murmured. "He said he wanted to explore the World with me."

"I don't see how that should trouble you, Aqua. What you do upon receiving the rank of Master is entirely your choice. Terra will understand if you refuse him."

"Do you think I should refuse him?"

He looked at her with a frown. "I am not saying you should, only that it is your choice, and that I'm certain Terra will accept whatever decision you make."

"I find it so hard to refuse him…"

"And why is that?"

"Terra and I have always done everything together," she said as she laid her hand on her chest. "He is my best friend. For a long time, he was my only friend. And I honestly do want to be with him… It's difficult for me to say no…"

"Ah, I see..." Eraqus smiled, a look of understanding on his face. "Then tell him so, tell him how you feel. Nothing hurts a heart more than imprisoned feelings, especially feelings of this nature."

Aqua suddenly blushed, as she grasped the meaning behind her Master's words. "M-master, I didn't mean…! No! We're just friends… Terra is just a friend!" she stuttered, her face flushed.

"Oh? Is that so?"

"Yes…" she replied.

Master Eraqus paused for a moment, before saying, "If it is so hard to refuse him, why is it equally hard for you to say yes?"

There was an awkward pause on Aqua's part, but she eventually murmured, "Ventus…"

Eraqus frowned again. "Why would you want to stay for Ventus?"

"No… I want to stay with him," she corrected softly.

Eraqus eyes widened slightly at her choice of words. She could not have meant what he thought she did. No. She couldn't. He remembered what Xehanort said about the boy, and Eraqus was sure that he would be no good for Aqua, not as he is.

"Let me just ascertain that I heard you correctly," he said. "You wish to stay with Ventus."

Aqua's gaze met her Master's, and her heart fell. "You do not approve…"

Eraqus shook his head. "No, I do not."

"Why?"

"You might not understand, Aqua, but this is for your heart's sake."

She turned away from him, her brows creased. "Then… What am I to do?"

"Aqua, you are still so young," Eraqus answered, "too young to trouble yourself this way. Journey to other worlds. Perhaps the time away from here, away from Ventus, will help you to see things more clearly."

Aqua understood the underlying message: Find someone else.

It tore at her heart, but there was at least one thought that was a comfort to her… "Master, you have nothing to worry about. Ventus has no feelings for me."

She decided to take her leave. She had nothing more to ask, and nothing more to gain from this conversation. She thanked her Master, left the study, and walked slowly back to her room. In her chest, her heart was beating weakly. But at least now, she has arrived at a decision. When she becomes Master, she will leave with Terra.


"Ven!" Aqua practically yelped as she stepped into her room and found that there was already someone there. She wanted to be alone, to regain her composure at least, and the last person she wanted to see at that moment was sitting on her bed.

Ventus dropped the book and leapt to his feet. "Aqua! I, um…"

She had a hand over her chest as she said, "You surprised me. What are you doing here?"

"I was kind of waiting for you," he said. Aqua sighed, noting that he spoke as if it was perfectly normal to just hang around in someone else's bedroom and give them the shock of their lives. Especially considering the nature of her earlier conversation with Master Eraqus.

She hastily concealed her discomfort. "Ventus, you know it's kind of late… And I…"

"Oh. Yeah…" he said, scratching back of his head. He wanted to stay, and ask her an important question, but she looked uneasy. Besides, now that she was here, his resolve was quickly fading. It was a stupid question anyway. "I'll leave then…"

"Ven, what's wrong?" she asked, noticing that his expression seemed somewhat downcast.

He kept his head bowed as he walked past her to the door. "Nothing…"

"Wait," she said, grabbing him by the arm. "Tell me what's bothering you." He looked up at her. He was pouting slightly, and she led him back to the bed. "Sit with me, Ven, and tell me."

"It's really nothing, Aqua," he insisted, but rather weakly.

"Ven, come on," she said.

"…It's Terra," he finally said.

Aqua frowned. It seemed the problem was always Terra. "What did he do this time?"

"Well, he found out I'd never kissed a girl… And…"

Aqua laughed a little, and Ventus looked up at her, obviously hurt. She raised her hands up in front of her defensively. "I wasn't laughing at you. It's just… I've known Terra for a very long time, and I am quite sure he hasn't kissed a girl either. In fact, neither of us has ever kissed anyone at all."

"Really…?" Ven murmured.

"Yes, so don't let his words get to you, okay?" she said.

He looked away from her, his head bowed. He was awkwardly swinging his legs. "He also said that when the two of you are Masters, you're going to explore the World together..." He placed emphasis on the last word.

'I haven't decided yet," she said, her decision from earlier suddenly escaping her.

He looked up at her, and she smiled at the hope in his eyes. "So… You're going to stay?"

"Maybe…"

Her indefinite answer caused him to frown. "T knew it."

"Knew what?"

"You and Terra. And then I'll be…what's it called? The third wheel…"

She raised her eyebrows at him. "Ventus, there is no me and Terra. It's always going to be you, me and Terra. The three of us, always."

"Are you going to let him kiss you?"

She blushed. "W-what…?"

He fidgeted a little. "Never mind…"

"That really bothers you, doesn't it? Not having kissed a girl?" Aqua asked, concerned.

"Nah, it's nothing," Ventus answered. He was not about to admit it to Aqua.

She can see right through him, though, and knelt down in front of him. In that way, he was taller than her. "Kiss me, Ventus," she said.

The blond boy blushed at her statement. "Aqua…"

She feigned a sigh of sadness, although her next words were truly her fears. "Am I not good enough for you…?"

"No, that's not it!" the boy exclaimed.

"Then please?" she said. "I want you to." And it was the truth.

"But I don't know how, Aqua," he said timidly.

She took his hand, bringing it towards her face. If she didn't do this now, she would never have the courage. She placed his palm against her jaw, his fingers on the side of her neck, his thumb caressing her cheek. She smiled warmly at him, aware that a blush was coloring her cheeks. Then she leaned upwards and forward, bringing her face close to his.

"Ventus, please…" she murmured, slowly closing her eyes, waiting for him to close the gap between them.

He looked at her for a minute, aware of his hand on her face, and her pulse beating against his fingers. She was really letting him, waiting for him to make his move. His heart was beating wildly, as he looked at her soft, inviting lips. He wondered if they tasted as sweet as they looked. He quickly licked his own lips and leaned forward. He rested his lips on hers, as if merely leaning forward against a mirror. But then she moved slightly so that his bottom lip was cradled between hers, deepening the kiss.

They stopped, time stopped, holding their breath. All Ventus could think about was the softness of Aqua's lips… Then Aqua slowly pulled back. He almost followed her movements, almost kept his hold on her soft upper lip, but he managed to stop himself. How long it lasted, neither of them could be sure. It could have been half a second, it could have been forever. She smiled at him when he opened his eyes. He was blushing furiously.

"Thanks, Aqua," he mumbled as she sat beside him once more.

"Thank you, too, Ven," she whispered.

They sat in silence for a while, neither one saying a word. And then they both said, "Hey," at the same time, making them laugh awkwardly a little.

"I'm sorry; you can go first, Ven," Aqua offered.

He grinned sheepishly and scratched the back of his head. "No, you first, Aqua."

She hesitated for a moment. "Alright, then..." she said softly. "I was just thinking that maybe we should keep this a secret. Just between you and me..."

Ventus blinked. "I was just thinking that, too."

And then they were quiet once more, seated side by side, two pairs of sapphire eyes blissfully lost deep within each other. It remained unsaid, but they were both certain that they had the same thought in mind; "Terra must never know."

Just as neither of them would ever know that the one from whom they wished to keep their secret was standing right by the door, fists clenched tight, unsure what to think now of his best friend and the girl he's so deeply in love with.


END

Thank You

~Alacquiene~