Terra seemed to have made it up to Aqua for now, but things were still going a little stiff and forced between the two friends. Kairi, however, was as oblivious to that as ever. In fact, she had been the one to invite Aqua to tag along with them. The bluenette had no idea why (and she was regretting it now), but she had accepted the invitation.
Now that she had no choice, Aqua figured to just keep up with the fake smiles as she kept trailing behind them. If anything, this served as a great distraction for her. This way, her mind wouldn't wander off to the mysterious, dark-haired stranger that she met yesterday. That, and maybe she could find away to get closer to Terra again. Though maybe the latter was wishful thinking on her part. He had obviously made his choice, hadn't he?
Every time the couple got a little too close to each other, Aqua had to look away, whether it was because of something simple as Kairi stealing a lick from Terra's strawberry ice cream, or Terra tucking a stray strand of wine red hair behind Kairi's ear. It hurt to the point that it felt as though her heart was about to explode. The bluenette bit her lip and forced away the tears. That was when she tasted blood and she realized that she had bitten her lip a bit too hard.
How much more did she have to suffer, watching Terra be like this, but not with her? It was bad enough that Terra had given Kairi a lift on his motorcycle, while Aqua was forced to come downtown by bike. What a great time for the busses to have a strike...
Aqua blinked a couple of times. Were her eyes deceiving her or did she really just see...? No, she must have imagined it, because her thoughts kept returning-
She nearly bumped into Kairi, who had stopped walking too.
"Well, well. Look who we have here? Shopping with the beloved boyfriend I see?"
As fate would have it, it was the stranger with the glowing eyes again. His voice gave Aqua goosebumps.
"Vanitas," Kairi said politely. She looked at Terra, before continuing. "Well, you already know Terra. This is his friend Aqua. Aqua, may I introduce you to Vanitas, my best friend's brother. "
"Ah, a pleasure to see you again," Vanitas said with a smirk.
Terra and Kairi exchanged surprised glances, but that went unnoticed by Aqua.
"Likewise," was all Aqua could say.
Was it just a coincidence that this stranger showed up out of nowhere or was there more behind it?
Why should I even care? It's not like he's here for me anyway.
"Well, we were about to take a break and have a drink somewhere. Care to tag along?" Terra asked, just as politely.
Aqua nearly choked on her own spit at that. Terra, what are you doing!?
The bluenette was so shocked that she didn't notice the disapproving look that appeared on Kairi's face.
Vanitas thought about it for a moment. Then he said, "Sounds like fun."
Aqua wondered why Vanitas emphasized the word fun. Not that she had enough time to ponder over that; the four of them already found a table and they sat down. Next, Terra and Vanitas volunteered to get their drinks for all of them. Aqua hoped fervently that this Vanitas guy wouldn't tell Terra anything she had said during their first meeting...
"You know, I don't really like him," Kairi muttered suddenly. "He's a little…"
"Obnoxious," Aqua finished for her, nodding all the while.
"Yes… Although 'a little' is quite an understatement in this case. So how do you know him?"
"We met yesterday, actually. I don't know him that well."
"Oh... Well, I can see why he's interested in you."
Aqua gave her a puzzled look. "You do?"
"Why, yes! Your face looks a lot like his ex's face… except for your hair color. Hers was black. It's almost scary, really. Her name was Xion and a few months ago, she disappeared mysteriously. Nobody knows what happened to her, but many people suspect Vanitas from having something to do with it. Especially because he didn't seem to be all that fazed by her disappearance…" When Kairi saw how Aqua's eyes had widened in horror, she continued, "I'm not trying to scare you or anything… Just consider it a fair warning. Vanitas is known for his dark business. I'm not too sure what exactly his business is nowadays, but I can tell you this much; he's dangerous, and not in the cool, rebel-esque way. He's the exact opposite of his happy-go-lucky brother, who seems to emit light wherever he is. Vanitas reeks of Darkness."
Well, this was good to know.
"But why isn't he arrested yet? Surely, the policemen can find some proof of his…business, or that he's got to do something with Xion's disappearance?"
Kairi shook her head. After seeing that the coast was still clear, she continued, "You don't get it, Vanitas is a professional. He makes sure to cover his tracks. That, and he hasn't done anything illegal ever since he met his ex… save for downloading music from the internet maybe. Rumor has it that he's been on the right path for almost two years now, thanks to Xion…"
That should explain why Aqua felt so weird around him.
"Then again, who am I to say that that's the reason he seems so interested in you? You are extremely pretty after all." Aqua wanted to protest, but the redhead went on as though she hadn't heard her. "I have to admit, even I was a little jealous at the fact that you and Terra are such close friends. He eulogizes you every time he mentions you! But after really getting to know you, I learned that you weren't a threat at all. You're just best friends, nothing more. In fact, I'm glad that I have a friend like you. It always comes in handy when I need to know something about Terra and… I don't really have that many girl friends, so this is a nice change as well."
Aqua smiled at her, even though the smile didn't quite reach her eyes. Way to rub it in... She has no idea.
Unfortunately for Aqua and Kairi, they had to drop the subject, because Terra and Vanitas were within earshot again. Aqua, who had unconsciously been sitting closer to Kairi, sat back again, feigning nonchalance, although Kairi's story didn't exactly make her feel any better. She wasn't sure if she was just imagining it, but it seemed as though Vanitas's eyes were resting on her for a bit too long to brush it off as coincidence. Still, that could mean anything.
Just who was this man? What was he really hiding from the world?
Somehow, Aqua just knew that her life would be at risk if she ever found that out.