Hot And Cold


Oh great, there was that irritating voice that she couldn't possibly ignore, again. Aqua groaned inwardly when she heard it for the umpteenth time that day. It gave her goosebumps... and this time, it was not in a good way.

"Where aaare you?"

Ugh, not again! Maybe I should knock him out for the rest of the week, putting sleeping pills in his drink, or something. At least then I'll finally get some rest, she thought, getting more and more annoyed with Terra and his stupid wishes that never stopped.

That idea started to get pretty appealing after everything she'd been through that week. Especially now that he wouldn't shut up. Was it just her or did it seem that he needed more things now that he had to rest? Normally, he wouldn't drink that much as he did now. He just did that to get on her nerves, and she knew that very well. She'd better go now and check up on him, before he would start trying to annoy the heck out of her just for the kicks of it (as if he hadn't done that several times already), which was something he was doing quite a lot lately.

After a long-suffering sigh escaped her lips for what seemed the umpteenth time that day, she got up rather slowly and walked toward the livingroom, where the most annoying young man of this world sat on the couch, his hurt leg also on a cushion on the couch. The closer she came to the room, the more she just wanted to turn around and leave him be, but she knew she couldn't do that. She had promised Master Eraqus to take care of Terra as her punishment.

Stupid Terra with his hurt leg. Stupid glue. Stupid stairs. Stupid destiny. If it wasn't for all those stupid things, I wouldn't be doing this now.

"Now what?" Aqua asked through clenched teeth.

The vein in her temple that always appeared when she was extremely stressful or annoyed, had started to show up some days ago (exactly on the day that she had heard what her punishment was) and it hadn't disappeared from that moment on.

"Could you please refill my glass, sweetie?" Terra asked sweetly.

It made Aqua almost feel sick and from the look on his face she could tell that that had just been the reason he had called her sweetie. "For the last time, I'm not your "sweetie," so stop calling me that, before I really break that leg of yours," she growled.

Terra started to smirk defiantly, crossing his arms over his chest, as if to show off his muscles. "You wouldn't dare."

She gave him one of her famous looks. The intensity of it could have burned the whole room, along with Terra, who merely raised an eyebrow.

Too bad it didn't happen, though, she thought.

"Try me."

Terra only smiled, knowing that that would only worsen her mood. She snatched the empty glass from his hand - it almost slipped out of her hands - and turned around to leave again.

"Oh Aaaquaah?"

She tensed immediately. Aqua really hated it when he called her name like that. It showed that he was enjoying the whole situation.


Aqua didn't even bother to turn around so she could face him. She also didn't bother to sound just an itty bit more friendly, because he didn't deserve her politeness at all. Not after what she had discovered about him yesterday... That little liar.

"Thank you," he spoke.

This actually came as a surprise, but she didn't show him that. Aqua wouldn't say "You're welcome" or "No problem" to him, simply because he certainly wasn't welcome and she thought it actually was a problem. Instead, she mumbled something about wanting to break his bones slowly, one by one. Terra quirked his other eyebrow as well, smirking evilly, while Aqua headed to the kitchen.

He watched her go, thinking, I had never thought that getting on Aqua's nerves was so much fun! I should do this more often. She looks cute when she's mad like this.

Sometimes, Aqua wished fervently that she wouldn't be right that much, just like she was five days ago. That would make life a lot easier for her. At first she hadn't noticed anything strange at all, because she had felt terribly guilty about Terra's bruised leg (Well, it kinda was her fault and she had bruised enough bones during training to know how much it hurt. Luckily he hadn't broken anything by the fall off the stairs, or else she wouldn't have had any rest at all. Not that it was any different now).

Two days ago, however, she noticed what crazy things he asked her to do for him. It had started with getting drinks for him, putting packs of ice on his feet to reduce the swelling and soften the pain a bit (which wasn't much of a surprise. It had made her feel terribly guilty, though), and doing his hair, - she had to admit secretly that the latter was actually quite fun. She really had enjoyed it, because it was something new and different. And the fact that he had such silky smooth hair only made it better for her. She liked running her fingers through his soft hair, but she would never say that in public. She didn't need to hear Terra's comments about that - but it ended with feeding him.

Why in the world did she have to do that? He hadn't broken his arms, now had he? Or had she missed something in the past few days? And the worst thing was that she didn't want to tell Master Eraqus about it, because a little part of her had actually enjoyed that, too.

The question was, why? Was it because she liked seeing him helpless and dependant on her like that, or was it because of something else? And what could that 'something else' be? She honestly didn't know and she probably didn't want to know the right answer, anyway. Deep down inside of her, though, she had a hunch. It was something that made her blush and it made her stomach do backflips on and on and on...

Aqua sighed, running a slender hand through her lilac locks. This... this whole situation, it was hopeless. She tried to think of something else, for this was getting too much for her to bear. Yesterday, she even caught him while he was walking around in his own room, like a normal healthy person, without using his crutches and without pained looks because of the pressure that he put on his hurt foot. Well, that could only mean one thing, right? Needless to say, Terra didn't know that she knew about everything, for he hadn't seen her.

From that moment on, she had decided to show Master Eraqus that Terra was fooling everyone in this house, including his own Master. He probably wouldn't believe her if he just told him the truth. He would think that she only tried to escape from her punishment. She couldn't blame her Master, because a part of that was true. Aqua just didn't know how to do that yet, but that wouldn't be a problem. It wouldn't take her long to come up with some plan.

Coming back to the living room again, she forgot about these thoughts as soon as she saw him again. Aqua handed an overly amused Terra the glass of lemonade without saying anything in the process.

"Thanks. It's not poisoned, is it?" he asked, jokingly.

Aqua glared at him, almost as though she tried to make holes in his face by using her eyes alone. "Unfortunately not. I couldn't find any rat poison in the kitchen," she sneered.

Terra laughed at that, the sound being strangely cheerful. "Wow, I didn't know you hated me that much."

Oh, you have no idea, Terra. Trust me. Most of all, I hate the fact that you seem to get away with everything you do, but that's going to change soon.

"Surprised? There's more you don't know about me."

"Ooh, someone's a little bit grumpy today. What happened to the little ray of sunshine?" he wondered aloud.

She didn't reply, but started to walk away.

"Hey, where are you going?" he asked.

None of your business, you liar!

"Cooking. It's my turn today," she answered, without turning.

"But what about me? I just wanted a massage. My muscles are sore from sitting here all day," he asked desperately.

The fact that he thought that he could even use her for such things made her turn around swiftly. He saw that her cheeks had turned a faint pink.

"Oh, I'm sure you can survive forty minutes without me. Or shall I call Master Eraqus to help you in the mean time? I bet he'll be please to give you a nice massage."

He sighed wearily at that. "No, I'll be fine... I hope. Jeez, no need to be so harsh all the time. I'm starting to miss the old Aqua."

Her heart skipped a beat or two, before she found her tongue again to tell him, "Don't worry, you'll get used to the new one."

The smell of what Aqua was cooking had filled the clean kitchen minutes ago and it had spreaded through the entire north wing. She had opened a window so there would be enough fresh air, but it hadn't helped that much. Oh well, you couldn't have luck all the time.

"Dinner's ready!" she shouted from the kitchen, knowing that everyone was close enough to hear her.

Almost at once, as if he had been hiding behind the door all this time, Ven came into the kitchen. He cried aloud, "Mmm, what smells so incredibly good here?"

"It's a rice dish. I honestly don't remember what it's called precisely, though," she replied, her back still turned to him.

"Rice à la Aqua. That just has to be tasty. Shall I set the table, then you can do the rest," he suggested.

Aqua smiled and turned to Ven who already had his hand placed on the cutlery tray. "Please. Thank you, Ven."

Aqua truly loved Ven. He was like a little brother to her. He always knew how to make her laugh with his lively and cheerful personality. He always helped her with everything and she knew she could always count on him if she needed to. He was just so sweet, it almost made her cry sometimes. If only Terra would look just a little bit more like him and take an example of him, personalitywise that is, because he didn't lack anything on the looks department... Aqua shook her head to clear it from disturbing thoughts. She had always wanted to have a brother. She was an only child and according to her father that was all her own fault.

Before she had come here, she had had a big argument with her father. He had been so angry at her when she had told him she would go to this place, that he had said in his madness that Aqua had nearly killed her mother at her birth, because she was born by a breech. This had made her so sad that she immediately had run to her room, collapsing on her bed and practically crying her eyes out of her head. Her mother had accidentally heard everything and had come upstairs to comfort her and explain the whole story, because her father had just been half right.

She had said how much she loved her, how proud she was of her that she had come so far and that she fully supported her choice, no matter what it was. She had given Aqua a necklace as a gift to remember her. She wore it under her clothes and would never take it off.

Sometimes she was lucky enough to receive letters from home. They were always written by her mother. Her father hadn't even looked at her eversince, let alone written letters to her. She hadn't said goodbye to him, because he had gone to his work on the day that she had left home. He had said that he wouldn't regard her as his daughter anymore as she dared to leave.

It had hurt a lot at first. The pain had been unbearable, but now she didn't care anymore. Her mother was all she had as family, because her two uncles, the brothers of her father, had died long ago in a war in another world and her mother didn't have any brothers and sisters, just like her. She knew that Master Eraqus was fully aware of this whole situation. Aqua's mother had probably told him everything.

She shook those nasty thoughts away and noticed that she already sat at the table with the others. The rest had even started with eating. Aqua saw that Ven was looking at her quizzically, having noticed her odd behavior. She shook her head and managed to smile a bit at him in order to reassure him that nothing was wrong. Aqua quickly took a bite to disperse further attention toward her. Immediately, she felt how a kind of prickly heat spread in her mouth. It was so overwhelming that she felt like she was on fire, literally.

She began to move her hands in front of her mouth rapidly. "Hoh! Hoh! Hoh!"

Master Eraqus and Terra gave her a funny look, probably wondering what the hell she was doing. The latter even grinned a little. Ven understood the hint, however, and swiftly gave her a glass of water. Gratefully, she immediately took it and drank it. It didn't help that much, but enough to give Terra a murderous look.

"Sorry that I'm laughing at you, but it's also your own fault. Of course your food is hot, it just came out of the pan that had been on the fire for half an hour or so. Unbelievable, and they say you're the smartest of the three of us. I have my doubts, though and you can't blame me for it now," said Terra, teasingly.

"It wasn't just hot. Someone put chilli pepper in my food when I wasn't looking."

Aqua had looked at Terra when she had said "someone." She narrowed her eyes to thin slits, so that everyone only could see the blue of her eyes, and the whites were out of sight. She continued to look at him like that.

"What? I couldn't have done it, if that's what you're thinking. I have an alibi, because I can barely walk normally," said Terra again when he saw her glance.

He pointed at his left leg and the crutches that lay on the floor.

Alibi, my ass. We'll just see about that, Terra.

"You don't need to be able to walk to put things in someone's food, as long as you have hands, that is," Aqua replied, sharply.

Under the table, she made some movements.

"Whatever. Then don't believe me."

Suddenly, without any warning, Terra's chair clapped back and fell on the floor, clattering. He had gotten up. He started to move in all sorts of crazy ways and jumped up and down, almost like he was performing a weird sort of snake dance, that was hiccupping at the same time. Little did the others know what he was feeling at that moment; something wet and so cold that it almost felt like it was hot, was tracing down his back. There were three of them, neatly spread over his whole back, so that the highly annoying feeling couldn't be ignored. He didn't know what it was, but he had to get rid of them, now.

Everyone had noticed by now that he had stood all this time with his full weight on his "injured" leg, which was a dead giveaway. It contradicted what he had just said, too, about barely being able to stand on his feet.

Aqua started to smirk. This smells like victory.

"Cooohold!" he said, shivering violently.

Ven had an utterly bewildered look on his face that said "What the hell?", but Aqua and Master Eraqus looked particularly amused.

Terra realized this and quirked an eyebrow at them. "Why are you looking at me like that?" he asked.

"Whoa, it's a miracle. Your leg has been miraculously healed. Hallelujah," Aqua said, grinning.

She pointed at his "injured" leg.

"What? That's not-" Terra noticed something. Suddenly, he started groaning again as he grabbed his right leg. "Ow! My leg! I forgot about it."

He dropped to the floor in his dramatic act, grimacing from the pain that probably wasn't really there.

"Terra, a couple of minutes ago it was your other leg that was injured," said Aqua, laughing and helping him remember. "Did you really think I wouldn't noticed that after taking care of you and your leg for a whole week? Tch, how naive."

She shook her head in mock-sympathy. Terra looked as if he felt like muttering lots of four-letter words for his own stupidity. Ven laughed at Terra's very stupid mistake, and the look on his face. Apparently, Aqua was called the smartest of them for a reason; she would've never made such a mistake. He was sure of that now. But it was too late already...

"But now this leg hurts. I think my chair landed on it, or something. Well, I guess you have to take care of my other leg for the following week," he said, defended himself, but he already knew it was hopeless.

They weren't that stupid to fall for this with open eyes. "In your dreams, Terra. You can get up again, acting time's over and your food's getting cold this way."

Sulking, he did what Aqua said.

In his head he scolded himself some more. Out of all times I could make a mistake, it had to be now?

"Oh, and Terra?"

It was the first time his Master said something.

"Yes, Master?" Terra asked.

He felt that he would get to hear his punishment, and unfortunately, he was right about that one.

"You'll do the dishes for the next two weeks, on your own," he said sternly.

Terra sighed. "Yes, Master."

Aqua's mood was instantly a lot better and that was easy to see for everyone. She truly loved magic and the fact that she was good at it. The "put-some-ice-cubes-that-will-slide-down-Terra's-bare-back" trick proved to be successful once again, for Terra had betrayed himself, and how! Mission accomplished. Delighted, she took another bite of the rice dish. Ven was right, the rice was quite tasty. And victory tasted very sweet indeed! Life was truly great! At least, it was today. She didn't know what tomorrow would bring.

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