There was something so delightfully mysterious about Leon… She couldn't really explain it, but it attracted her to him even though she didn't want that to happen. The weird thing was that suddenly, everybody seemed to know him, and Aqua heard girls talk about him all the time. Or maybe they had been doing it before, but she'd never noticed anything. In fact, whenever the brunet man would pass them in the corridors, barely sparing them a glance, he seemed to leave a trail of whispering, fainting fan girls behind him, making Aqua wonder how it was possible to have that many female students at the same place. It was as though they all knew when he would appear and they were all gathering there, waiting to catch a glimpse of him.
Of course, she knew that she must be imagining that. After all, this was a big faculty and she doubted that any man could make that many women swoon, no matter how talented he was or how high he scored in the looks department (and let's face it, Leon scored a twelve on a scale of one to ten). Honestly, did he even know what he was doing to people only by looking at them?
What bothered the bluenette slightly was that everyone around her was a little surprised that Leon was willingly wasting his precious free time for Aqua, a mere student, so that she could get her Master's degree (how some people had found that out in the first place, she didn't know). In a way, he reminded her of Terra, except for the fact that Leon was much more charismatic, solemn and withdrawn and…
"…And then, you should've seen both their faces, Nami accidentally hugged this moody guy who looked exactly like me! Can you believe that? Seriously, we could've been twins for all I kn- Aqua?"
She blinked when she heard her name, realizing that she'd been spacing out once again. It was becoming a nasty habit of hers, one that she couldn't get rid of.
"Hey, if I'm too much of a bother with my boring stories, or something, I can go, you know," Ventus commented, a little too sharply.
She could hear from his voice that he was rather offended by her lack of attention at…whatever he was trying to tell her. Frankly, she couldn't blame him; it was Aqua who had invited him, after all (more like begging him to spend this day with her, because she hadn't seen him for so long. Aqua had even gone far enough to call him 'Vennie', which he only allowed her when no one else was around. It had worked, though).
This made her flinch, because it made him look like a kicked puppy. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Ven," Aqua muttered truthfully, smiling apologetically at him. "It won't happen again, I promise."
Almost at once, the hurt expression on his face disappeared and he seemed worried that he might have hurt her feelings. "No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't act so grumpy and childish all the time. It's probably because the lack of sleep," he explained.
"Aww, you're not childish. You're sweet!"
Aqua ruffled his spiky hair affectionately. He didn't even bother to swat her hand away, which only proved to her that he was really tired. The first year of college was kind of hectic for him, she could tell that much. The sudden change of atmosphere, all the expectations, new experiences and freedom that came with this independency were taking their toll on him now. It was all extra hard for him, because he had moved so far away from them. Poor thing.
It was times like these that she just wanted to drop everything she was holding and rush over to him to give him a big hug.
At the moment, the two close friends were sitting in the conservatory's crowded cafeteria. Aqua had invited the blond over to spend his free day with her. Unfortunately for them, Terra wasn't free today, so that left the two of them alone. The room was gigantic. The sunlight that fell through the huge windows only made the cafeteria look bigger and livelier. It smelled like tomato soup, sandwiches and different warm dishes mixed together. The most striking object, however, was the grand, black pianoforte in the middle of the room. A student with wavy, dirty blonde hair was playing a dramatic but difficult piece on it at the moment. It sounded a little like… Mozart? Or one of those old dudes, anyway; Ven sucked at hearing any difference between the composers, but that was what he had Aqua for. It was almost creepy how she could hear the differces between all those composers, even for someone as intelligent as her.
"It's okay, Ven. I wasn't exactly paying attention, either, so I deserved it. So now, it's all about you and me, and your adventures in Twilight Town. And Terra…even if he couldn't come to contradict everything I say about him."
She thought that he would curiously ask what that last comment meant, but instead, Ven had found interest in something else that she had mentioned. "Oh, were you thinking of someone special?" he inquired, his eyes twinkling mischievously.
Aqua mentally facepalmed at her slip-up, and she started to blush. "No…"
"Do you like him?"
"What? No, I don't even know him-" She stopped, her eyes widening when she realized that she'd just contradicted herself. "Oh, you're good!"
Ven flashed her a triumphant grin, which made him look much younger than he was. "Just because I'm the youngest doesn't mean that I never notice anything. I thought you knew me better than that, especially now that I'm studying psychology. I can practically guess your thoughts by looking at your face alone."
Aqua managed a small smile. "Touché. It's just that… There's this man who offered to help me with some of the more tricky pieces I have to master. You should have heard him playing the piano… I was impressed by his skills, that's all there is to it."
Ven wriggled his eyebrows suggestively. "I assume that this is merely his musical skills you're talking about… Not something else?"
Aqua's eyes widened once again at the implication (and at the fact that she heard Ven, her innocent Ven of all people, say something like that. Apparently, a certain brunet guy was rubbing off on him). "Of course I am! You're even worse than Terra sometimes!"
The blond let out a hearty laugh. "Hey, I'm just messing with you. So, I guess it's nice of him to help you without even knowing you. Is he here right now?"
Aqua quickly scanned her surroundings, in search for the brunet man. She was about to shake her head and say "No" when she spotted glossy, chocolate brown tresses and familiar steel blue eyes a few tables further to her right. He seemed to be discussing something with Xehanort, the latter making wild hand gestures, as though he was talking about the end of the world. Knowing him, it was probably about the orchestra and nothing too serious, because all Leon really did was nod with a solemn look on his face.
It didn't take long for her blonde friend to notice how she was distracted once again, so he followed her eyes. "Whoa, please tell me it's not the creepy Terra lookalike with the long, silver hair!"
The bluenette had to laugh at that. "No, Ven, I wasn't talking about Xehanort this time. It's the person next to him."
"Oh, thank god, Aqua. You had me scared there for a minute! Although that scar makes him look almost as dangerous as the Creepy Terra-nort. I mean, if he hadn't been that handsome to begin with…"
"You can actually see that from this distance?" she asked, utterly surprised.
"No, I was just trying to find out if you thought he was handsome or not," he replied with a big grin.
Aqua buried her face in her hands. Talk about messing up majorly.
"Ugh, Ven… What do I do with you?"
Ven was about to reply with something witty, when he caught another movement from that direction. So instead, he said, "Hey, he's getting up!"
The bluenette automatically looked up and saw that Ven was right; Leon took the tray that lay in front of him, on the table, and walked away to hand it in, leaving Xehanort in an even worse mood judging by the scowl on his face. As of now, the man looked as though he was ready to kill the first person who spoke to him.
Ven didn't bother to hide his grin. "Looks like Terra-nort is not pleased with whatever that guy did. I think I would get along very well with your new teacher."
"It's easy for you to find it funny, but something tells me that Xehanort's going to take it all out on his next class, which I happen to be in," Aqua said darkly.
Whatever it was that Leon said or did to tick him off like that must be really bad, though, considering that Xehanort hardly ever lost his patience in front of teachers (he had no problem with scaring his students, though...unfortunately). She didn't have much time to think of what it could be about, because at that moment, she noticed how the brunet teacher had spotted her and started approaching her. For a moment, she feared that somehow, he knew that they had been talking about him not too long ago, but thankfully, her suspicions were wrong.
After nodding politely to Ven, he turned to Aqua and started, "Apparently, Xehanort finds it necessary to change everyone's schedule, so this evening's tutoring will be in B 031 instead."
The way he talked about the silver-haired man didn't go unnoticed by her; he must find Xehanort just as annoying as everyone else did. She wouldn't be surprised if Leon had told him exactly how he felt about Xehanort's plan.
"Oh. Okay, thank you for telling me." A quiet beat passed between them, but when Ven coughed impatiently, she hastened to add, "This is Ventus, a good friend of mine. He studies psychology in Twilight Town."
"Hiya!" he started enthusiastically, until he realized that it might come off as rude. As he shook the man's hand, he tried again. "I mean, nice to meet you, professor… Sir."
The corner of Leon's mouth quirked upwards faintly, as though he wanted to smile. A hint of amusement was evident in his voice when he said, "Call me Leon. You're not a student of mine, after all."
"I'll leave you two alone now. It was nice to meet you, Ventus. Enjoy your lunch."
After another polite nod, he turned around and walked away with big, confident strides.
Ven rubbed his right hand. As soon as he was out of earshot, he said softly, "It's nice to finally meet a teacher of yours that doesn't give the impression that he wants to strangle me… But man, that guy has a firm grip! Hasn't he broken any musical instruments lately?"
Aqua laughed. "Not that I know."
"So… do you call him professor or Sir, too?"
"No. I did at first, but then he told me he preferred to be called Leon."
He was silent for a long time. Aqua wondered what was going through her friends mind, when he noted, "That's very interesting. I think he likes you…"
She rolled her eyes. "Just because I'm allowed to call him by his name?"
"That, and he's willingly spending his free time with you. We both know that you either have to be bonkers or madly in love if you go that far," the spiky-haired young man said teasingly.
If he thought he could make Aqua feel uncomfortable, then he was terribly wrong.
"So which one of those are you?"
Ven gave her a confused look. "Huh?"
"Do I have to remind you that you're spending your free time with me, too, right now?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah, but that's beside the point."
"Oh, is it now?"
Ven let out an impatient huff. "Aqua, I'm telling you, my conclusion about this guy is right!"
"No, that's a common mistake made by first year students. Let's see if you're still convinced of that next year."
The blond shook his head, not at all impressed by his friend's teasing. "We both know that I don't have to wait that long; judging by the way he said it, this "tutoring" will be the spectacle of the year…if you know what I mean."
Finally, Aqua had had enough of her friend's teasing, so she gave him a smack on the head with a rolled up newspaper.
Aqua looked up from her study books. She sighed wearily, running her slender fingers through her glossy, silky smooth sky blue hair.
She'd been reading for quite a while, her cerulean eyes running over the letters, but she had no idea what this new chapter was about…even after reading the same lines for the third time. This was hopeless.
Well, what did she expect? Studying wasn't always that much fun, no matter how much she loved the subject. Especially when you hadn't slept that well the previous night. The reason wasn't because she was suffering from insomnia. No, it was those creepy spiders that had absolutely no respect for her privacy. Honestly, they just popped up everywhere with their annoying webs; in the kitchen, the bathroom, bedroom, even in the freezer. Good thing the last one was dead, though, because he'd been huge.
Last night, the blue-haired young woman had woken up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water. It was then that she saw a spider on the floor, making his way towards God knew where.
At that moment, she couldn't help but think what Terra, her best friend, had once told her about those scary, hairy creatures: "Never forget that there are always two of them out there. Spiders like to act like a couple…"
That could only mean one thing; she'd eaten the other one…right? Ew, just thinking of it made the little hairs on the back of her neck stand upright. A shiver ran down her spine. Sometimes it was better not to know everything.
Aqua got up, figuring that maybe it was better to play a little on her violin for a while, before returning to memorize those composers and what they did and why. And if she still had no idea, she could always call Leon. He'd said she could call him when she needed help and he'd given her his number, just like that. Sometimes she wondered what that gesture meant…
At that moment, though, her thoughts were interrupted (thank heavens), when the doorbell of her rented apartment rang three times. Whoever it was, that person was getting quite impatient. Aqua got up, hurried towards the front door and opened it. Next thing she knew, the person brushed right past her, almost knocking her over in the process.
With much trouble, she managed to stand upright by using the wall. "Whoa!"
"Honestly, Aqua, what took you so long?" he grumbled irritably, after letting himself in.
"And hello to you, too," she said, watching the brunet male's back with a quizzical look and wondering what got into him.
Terra walked towards the small, but cozy living room without saying as much as a word. Aqua shook her head. The only times Terra would act like he knew no manners at all was when he was fed up with something. She closed the door behind him and followed her childhood friend to the biggest room of her rented apartment.
She was just in time to see how he let himself fall dramatically on the comfortable loveseat and lie down with one arm covering his closed eyes, putting his head on one of the armrests. This simple movement almost made him look ten years older. As if on cue, Stitch ran into the room and made a dash to the loveseat. He managed to climb all the way to Terra's chest and stayed there, giving the man a questioning gaze.
Terra sighed, but he still ruffled his ears. "Hey, little fella. Happy to see me?" Stitch purred in response, to which he continued, "Then you must be the only one in this world."
Aqua brought her desk chair closer to the loveseat and sat down, facing her utterly desperate-looking friend. "You don't exactly look like you had fun today," she noted, carefully.
The brunet looked up at her. "Ugh, that's pretty much the understatement of the century!"
Aqua smiled at his overdone drama. Terra would always vent and pour his heart out to her when he was down. Aqua was known for her qualities as a good listener and she would never interrupt him as he told her his story. That was probably why he always trusted her with the tiniest things. And when he was done with his ranting, it was Aqua's job to come up with something fun to do together, so he would forget about his rather crappy day. With that in mind, she ignored her books for the moment and turned her attention back to her best friend. It was a welcome change from all that boring theory she had to know about.
"What happened, Terra?"
Automatically, her hand went to Terra's spikes, just like it did every time and she ran her long, slender fingers through his soft locks. If anything, it seemed to calm him down enough so he could tell her what was bothering him.
The brunet man closed his eyes and let out a deep breath. "Well, there's this…really annoying woman at work. She's the co-manager, or something. Heck, I don't even know what the hell she's doing and quite frankly, I don't care, either. But she obviously thinks she can just boss me around, because she has more experience. In what, I wonder. It doesn't really show. I swear, a dictator has more understanding than that ice queen Larxene. Her bitchiness reached a whole new level today."
"Terra," she said, disapprovingly, pursing her lips.
Aqua didn't like it when he used such language, but Terra ignored her this time, feeling that he had the right to talk like that about the woman that made his job a living hell.
"It couldn't have been that bad," she tried again, this time in a gentler tone.
"You have no idea..." The male sighed, continuing where he'd left off. However, there was one sentence that made Aqua really feel bad for him: "Nobody loves me… The whole world hates me."
"That's not true, Terra... Some people don't even know you."
For a moment, only silence surrounded them. Both people stared at each other, blinking with their eyes. Then, Terra grabbed the nearest pillow and threw it towards her, aiming for her head. She ducked away quickly, dodging the soft object. Stitch, however, wasn't that lucky and he ended up falling off him. By the looks of it, he was about to throw a tantrum, had it not been for Terra realizing his mistake and apologizing quickly.
"Oops, sorry little one. That was not my intention." Terra scooped him up and took him in his arms again. To Aqua, he growled, "Stop making fun of me!"
"Sorry, I couldn't resist. It's too much fun."
"You call that fun? …I hate you."
"Aww, I love you too, you Terra-ble dork."
Aqua got up from her seat and ruffled his hair with a laugh. After that, she straightened again and walked away from the couch.
Surprised, Terra sat up, leaning on his elbows (making sure Stitch didn't fall off this time). "Where are you going?"
Aqua stopped, turning back again. "To the kitchen, to make some hot chocolate. Why do you ask?"
"Make me some, too. I had a rough day." When Stitch let out another indignant noise, he hastened to add, "And don't forget about Stitch! He's your pet after all. He deserves the love that you don't give other people..."
Terra quirked a thin brow. "No, as in, 'He's not my pet' or 'I won't give him anything'?"
"'No' as in, 'Both of you can forget about the hot chocolate'," was the short, but simple reply.
Terra frowned, at the very same time that Stitch let out a low whine. "Shh, it's alright. I got this," he said lowly, before raising his voice slightly, so Aqua could hear it. "What? Why not?"
"Because you hated me, remember? By saying that, you actually hurt my feelings. So go make your own hot chocolate…in your own kitchen, 'cause I'm not going to share my food with someone that hates my guts. And Stitch is not allowed to have chocolate, because that's dangerous...and he broke my vase."
"…Now I really hate you," he muttered.
Also, who the heck cared about a stupid vase? That thing was beyond ugly, anyway. She should be glad that Stitch got rid of it.
"What was that?" came her dangerous voice.
"Uh…nothing! You go make your hot chocolate." To distract her, he started to sing, "You just take, take, take it all, but you never give."
His singing seemed to have the desired effect, for almost immediately, Aqua's response was, "Stop that whining. You know I hate that song."
"Let me. I feel horrible. Bruno Mars can actually make me feel better about my condition. After all, it could always be worse, right?" As an afterthought he added, "Wow, I think you're the first girl who doesn't find it cute that he'd catch a grenade for her."
Aqua rolled her eyes. "Well, that's his own fault. What annoys me the most about the song, is that part where he complains that from the first moment they kissed, the girl had her eyes wide open. 'Why were they open,' he wonders. Obviously, the only way he could know that is when his own eyes were open, too. So I'd really like to know why his eyes were open at that moment."
Terra rolled his eyes. It was so typical of her to analyze that song up to the point where she ruined the actual meaning of it.
As she continued her way to the small kitchen, Terra continued singing the song, just to get a rise out of her. But Aqua didn't just let him have that satisfaction. She grabbed a cookie on her way out (Terra's favorite) and stuffed it in Terra's mouth to make him shut up. The brunet male shot up and started coughing violently, because of the crumbs that shot in his trachea. This time when the blue pet fell off, he shook his fist at Terra and decided to stay far away from the two of them. But they all knew that the next time, he'd climb on Terra's stomach again. Those two were inseparable after all.
Aqua couldn't help but giggle. "What is it? I thought these were your favorite cookies?"
Terra ignored her question, but when he regained his breathing, he asked indignantly, "What was that for?"
"For the neighbors' sakes. Your singing sounds like someone's being tortured. I don't want to answer awkward questions from them, like that time when you were completely drunk and started flirting with the old lady from next door."
It was a lie, though, because Terra actually had a nice voice. Not that he had to know that.
His ears had turned considerably red when he exclaimed, "Aqua, that was only once! I can't help it that someone had spiked my drink."