xXx A Fine Line xXx

Between Fantasy and Reality.

~.~.~.~.~

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. ~John Lennon

~.~.~.~.~

He remembers clearly the day that he met the Master, in his own war-torn world. The small village had been ambushed, falling apart at the hands of a mysterious enemy, and his mother had told him to find shelter. He didn't listen. By now most of everyone was gone in some way, either gone away or gone forever, and a silent sort of dread hung in the air, along with the mist and smoke stemming forth from the disaster all around. He would never admit to himself that he was scared.

He saw a figure lying amidst the tall grass in the distance, across the charred field that he had been running through. He doubled his pace towards the small body, almost tripping a few times on the uneven ground, as the dark shadows pooling around it rose and took shape in the form of yellow, beady-eyed creatures. It didn't stop him. What if it had been her?

He was sure it had been her.

Suddenly, a heavy hand came down on his shoulder, halting his progress. Spinning around, he came face-to-face with a calm, sympathetic, dark-eyed gaze that met his own wide-eyed sapphires. It was a man, maybe in his late thirties, with a deep frown set in his face and two gashes on either side of his cheeks and eyes, ones that had long since faded but had never healed. "This world is no place for a child."

~.~.~.~.~

The stars shone even brighter than usual from the grassy hilltop. She lay on her back next to him and pointed to a few of the apparent shapes in the sky, identifying some as animals and dreaming up a narrative to tie all of them together. He filled in the gaps in the story, loving the way her eyes lit up brighter than the stars when he did so. He couldn't remember a time when he had laughed harder or had been happier.

~.~.~.~.~

"I thought maybe this would help a bit."

The smell of warm soup wafted its way over to his bed as the woman crossed the room. She placed the bowl in his hands, giving him a warm smile and a kiss on the forehead.

"Thanks, Mom."

~.~.~.~.~

A pair of brilliant blue eyes finally fluttered open, taking in the two figures crouched near his bedside.

"Ventus…oh, thank goodness!" Aqua sniffled, reaching out to hold one of the boy's hands. Terra looked on silently, apprehensively, still wary of the strange boy who had occupied nearly all of the girl's time for the past month, had caused such a change in his closest friend.

Things would never be the same.

~.~.~.~.~

She lay on her back next to him in the grass, while the blond boy on her other side pointed to a few of the apparent shapes in the sky. She giggled at the young boy's attempt to find meaning in the stars. Inwardly, he scoffed- this was such a waste of time.

~.~.~.~.~

There was a light knock on his bedroom door, and he sat up on his elbows in bed as the guest let herself in. A warm smile, one that reached her bright blue eyes as she brought in a bowl of steaming soup. "I thought maybe this would help a bit." She brushed some of her cerulean colored hair away from her face and stared at the wooden floorboards, offering a silent apology.

But he had forgiven her as soon as she walked through the door.

~.~.~.~.~

The strange man didn't say a word as he pulled the young boy away from the body in the field and the chaos surrounding it. Terra stuck his heels into the ground and screamed and yelled, trying to break free from the man's grasp and make a run for the figure. For her.

The man just gave a solemn glance behind him to the rapidly disintegrating field and the creatures that had caused the destruction and tightened his grip on Terra's hand, pulling the now sole inhabitant of the world toward the only glimmer of light that hadn't been doused.

~.~.~.~.~

Somehow, his feet had led him down the hallway to the newly occupied room, and, exhaling a little, he knocked hesitantly on the heavy wooden door. There was a moment of silence, followed by light shuffling, and then the door flung open and he found himself face-to-face with his current adversary.

A tiny girl with vivid blue eyes appeared, wearing a dark blue dress and an even darker frown, holding in her hand an intricate keyblade that was much too large for her. He thought that was entirely unnecessary. Like he needed any more reminders that she could now beat him at plenty of other things.

He scratched the back of his head nervously, not knowing where to start. "Hey, um…"

She just scowled at him. "Go away," she said simply, closing the door right in his face.

He heard her sink down to the floor on the other side, sniffling quietly, and he sat with his back resting against the door, waiting until the room was silent again.

~.~.~.~.~

The Master and his three apprentices sat silently in the audience chamber, all crossed-legged with their eyes closed. Terra peeked his eyes open for a moment, seeing his Master breathing deeply in meditation. To his right, Ventus was breathing evenly as well, so evenly that he suspected he was actually asleep. Ahead of him, he assumed Aqua to be lightly inhaling and exhaling in as perfect a rhythm as humanly possible. Except she wasn't.

She had been looking at him. And from what he could tell, it had probably been for a while. When his eyes met hers briefly, she flushed crimson and shut them quickly, resuming her breathing as uninterrupted as she could manage.

~.~.~.~.~

The practically lifeless, comatose boy that had shown up at the castle a little over a month ago turned out to be quite a whirlwind of eager, unabashed joy.

Literally.

He followed Aqua around like a little puppy, bounding after her with his mouth running all the while, taking up nearly all of her time.

So much so that she didn't spend time with anyone else.

~.~.~.~.~

"Thanks again for taking Ven to the lake," she smiled faintly in the dim lighting of the hallway, "I know how badly he wanted to see it, since I promised him forever ago—"

"It was no problem. You had your special girly magic lessons today, after all." He received a playful glare and a slap on the arm for that.

"I'll remember that when I'm using my girly magic to save your butt someday," She raised her eyebrows and uncrossed her arms, reaching for the doorknob behind her to go back into her room, "Night, Ter—"

She fell short when he suddenly stepped closer and tilted her mouth toward his. Lips collided for only the briefest of moments, and before she could open her eyes and register what had happened, she was standing alone in the hallway.

~.~.~.~.~

"Being a Keyblade Master is all I've dreamed about," he proclaimed proudly, brandishing the wooden weapon that he had carved and stitched together by himself, when he was even younger than Ven.

Aqua just gave him a look, feigning offense. "Well, you're not the only one…"

"I know." He smirked a little and looked over again to Ventus. You'd think someone just took ice cream away from the kid, really. Eraqus had expected a lot from him recently, and it was wearing on him, so getting his butt handed to him five minutes before probably didn't help too much in the confidence department.

So it was only natural that he deserved the wooden keyblade much more than Terra himself- if kids never had dreams, then adults wouldn't either.

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"Lemme go! You don't understand!"

The unfamiliar man with the strange weapon held fast to the boy's hand, but Terra managed to pry free and escape when a dark cloud of shadows distracted the older man. He gasped, immediately chasing after the boy who was running with abandon toward the body in the field.

"Please come with me! This world is no longer safe," he called after him, but his words fell on deaf ears.

Water began to leak from the corners of his eyes, and he wasn't sure whether to attribute it to the bitter winds pelting him in the face, or something else entirely.

When he finally came upon the figure of the young girl in the singed grass, a girl even younger than he himself, her cropped brown hair partially obscured what was left of her now unrecognizable features. But they were still there in his mind, the same shining sapphire eyes that now viewed the body in horror, little arms that locked around his shoulders when she wanted him to carry her around the house. Now nothing more than a mutilated corpse in a barren field.

~.~.~.~.~

"Not one, but two of the keyblade's chosen stand here as candidates, but this is neither a competition nor a battle for supremacy; not a test of wills, but a test of heart. Both of you may prevail, or neither.

"Unfortunately, I'll have to judge both of you myself, as it seems our guest was unable to join us today…"

Behind the Master, the three golden thrones sat empty.

~.~.~.~.~

Exhaling a little, he tapped lightly on the heavy wooden door. Instead of violently swinging back on its hinges like he expected, it creaked open only an inch.

Awkwardly speaking to the adversary that he couldn't even see, he started hesitantly, "Hey um…I'm sorry…for what I said before…"

The door opened a little more, and she stood right in front of him, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand. "It's okay," she replied softly, but her eyes stayed glued to the ground.

"I really like it," he tried, pointing to the intricate keyblade she held in her other hand that dragged far beyond her tiny body. "It's probably much lighter than mine—"

"It doesn't change anything, you know. You'll always be his favorite."

~.~.~.~.~

The salty breeze in his face and the sun-bathed sea were a welcome departure from the weather and scenery he was accustomed to. He knew Aqua would have loved to see this world just for that; if not that, then definitely for the star-shaped fruit.

Two children ran by, racing each other down the coast, carefree as could be.

"Lucky kids," he thought as he summoned his rider, not wanting to waste any more time.

~.~.~.~.~

The three of them sat together on the garden walls on the outskirts of the castle, enjoying the expanse of stars above them. Ven pointed out that one of the clusters looked like a stack of waffles. Aqua poked him lightly in the stomach and giggled softly. Terra wondered aloud if there was anything that didn't remind him of food, and the three laughed so hard that they almost fell off the wall.

~.~.~.~.~

The body lying in the tall grass was that of a young girl, even younger than he himself. The features were near unrecognizable, but there was still enough there for him to see.

It wasn't her.

~.~.~.~.~

"Go on ahead, Ven. We'll be right there," she told him in the courtyard as the sun began to set on the training grounds. He just gave the two of them a sideways glance and shrugged, hurrying up the mountain path after the Master.

Terra gave her a similar look. "Something you wanted to talk about?"

She took in a deep breath, pushing some of her hair behind her ear. "If something was bothering you…you'd tell me, right?"

Her stormy eyes locked onto his, clearly fighting tumultuous waves. The memory of the strange feeling from practice earlier that day returned full force…that feeling of his lungs being drowned in something so heavy, of his vision flickering blood red…

He suppressed it in a heartbeat. "Of course," he replied firmly. She smiled back, but it didn't look genuine. She reached for one of his hands, gently trailing a thumb over the back, as if offering some sort of silent support for whatever was plaguing his thoughts. She gave it a squeeze before turning and following after Ven.

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For the first time in over a month, a pair of brilliant blue eyes opened, focusing on the two figures kneeling beside his bed.

"Ventus…oh, thank goodness!" Aqua looked as if she was on the verge of tears, and Terra just beamed, putting one hand on her shoulder and using the other to ruffle the still-weary boy's hair.

~.~.~.~.~

"Honestly Terra, I don't feel tired at all…" The blond-haired boy let out a large yawn that said otherwise. "Tell me something else about your home world!"

He chuckled. "All right, but don't tell Aqua that you were up this late. She thinks I'm more responsible now." He just nodded eagerly, practically bouncing up and down with excitement.

"Okay…well, I had two younger siblings, a brother and a sister—" He stopped when he felt a thump on his shoulder and looked down to see a mess of blonde hair there. "—Who always pulled this little stunt on me, too," he finished, standing and hoisting the younger boy up on his back, and smiled to himself when he felt wrists lock around his broad shoulders.

~.~.~.~.~

She raised her eyebrows in retort, uncrossing her arms and reaching for the doorknob behind her to return to her room, "Well, we'll see where my girly magic will get me someday when I'm saving your—"

Forceful lips and hands that wrapped securely around her waist halted her words immediately. She gasped, eyes wide in disbelief at his actions for only a moment before burying her hands in his hair and returning his affections. In truth, he couldn't quite believe any of it, himself.

He backed her body into the wall behind them, gently bringing her legs up to wrap around his hips, somehow managing to deepen the kiss as well. Her faced flushed deeply as she pulled away for a moment. "What if the Master…?"

He shook his head against hers, panting for breath before cupping her face and bringing her lips back to his.

~.~.~.~.~

"Both of you may prevail, or neither. But I am sure our guest, Master Xehanort, did not travel all this way to see our youngest prospects in years fall short of the mark…"

Behind the Master, a wild glint shone in yellow eyes, and lips curled into a calculating smirk.

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Fin


A/N: It's entirely up to you how to interpret this. It's literally thoughts crossing Terra's mind out of sequence. You decide which things did or didn't happen. I'm always open to questions or comments, if you have any!