Aqua rushed into Terra's backyard, despite the day being that special kind of lazy, sultry heat. It wasn't so much the heat that annoyed her, but the stickiness that came with it, thanks to Radiant Garden's humid climate. It was more than just uncomfortable; as soon as she exited her house, the back of her shirt would cling to her (almost desperately) within seconds, as if she'd stepped out of the shower.
When she spotted who she'd been looking for, she automatically halted, tilting her head to the side in confusion.
The ten-year-old girl blinked. What in the world is he doing?
At the moment, her brunet friend was dragging what seemed to be a rather heavy log from one side of the backyard to his destination, a huge tree on the other side of the yard, where several other building materials sat, shaded under the branches. It looked like he was planning to build something. Perhaps a doghouse? But he didn't even have a dog! Then again, with someone like Terra, one could never be too sure.
Another aspect of her friend that was mildly mystifying was his ability to work so hard when it was so unbearably warm out. Even from this distance, she could see how sweat had started to form on his forehead from all that exertion and yet, he didn't quit. Terra had also taken his shirt off, showing off his rake thin physique. He was even thinner than Aqua. It was hard to believe, but the bluenette knew that her eyes weren't deceiving her.
It was then that the boy noticed Aqua standing there. Cutting through the awkwardness, she scrambled to find her voice, greeting her friend."Hi."
"Hey," he greeted back with a lopsided grin. "Nice timing. Can you help me with bringing these logs over there? That would be really great."
With his head, he gestured to the tree, as to clarify.
Aqua hesitated slightly, before nodding. "Yeah, sure."
She made her way towards the materials, picking the top most log off the pile. However, she soon discovered that Terra had made the task look easy. Aqua had never thought that wood could be this heavy. It almost felt as though she was trying to carry two babies at the same time... as weird as that sounded. Judging from their weight, she would be feeling the ache of this for days. Oh well, if it made Terra happy, then she didn't mind just this once… But he'd better not make a habit of asking her for help. What was he trying to achieve with carrying those things and dumping them on the other side of the garden, anyway? Another mystery of the male mind, she assumed.
"Where's Ven? I thought he was here, with you?" She asked, glancing at him quizzically.
It was strange that their younger friend was nowhere to be seen, since usually, the boys were inseparable. Terra had known Ven long before Aqua, since they were neighbors. When Aqua had become friends with the older boy, she'd started hanging out with Ventus, (Ven to his friends,) too. From that moment on, the three of them had become joined at the hip, even though Ven was only seven years old. The age difference didn't matter however, the blonde was like the little brother they never had and Ven had obviously no problem with that. If anything, he liked the attention that he got.
In the mean time, Terra tried to free his hands, but he was having some difficulty with the extraordinarily stubborn log. Eventually he gave up and let out a long-suffered sigh.
"Nope. He called me just before you arrived and said he was sick, so he couldn't come here today."
"Oh…That's weird. I saw him yesterday and he looked all right. In fact, I had never seen him that hyper before."
And that said something. Ven had been practically bouncing the other day. The memory of that alone brought a small smile to the bluenette's face.
"Then I bet his laziness took over and the only reason he didn't come was because he didn't want to help me with these," Terra commented, grimly.
Aqua frowned. That didn't sound like the exuberant blonde. One could say a lot about the spiky-haired boy, but he would never let down his friends. Of that, she was sure.
"Ven would never do that…"
"That's what he wants you to believe, Aqua. But don't let his sweet looks and innocence ever deceive you, 'cause he's a little devil once you really get to know him," he said, in a warning tone. "Trust me on that one."
She pondered if he was serious about that or not, before posing another question, one that she'd been dying to ask since she arrived.
"...Just out of curiosity, what exactly are you going to do with those?"
"Build a tree hut, of course. What else? It's one of the few things that I miss from my old house. Who knows what kind of annoying brat is playing in my old tree hut now, doing whatever he likes with it…"
He clenched his hands into fists at that particular thought, before he allowed a small smile to appear on his face again. "But I guess that things like that happen in life and I can tell you this much; this tree hut is gonna be the best you can find in this world!"
Aqua watched him curiously, as he told her all about his big plans for the hut. For someone who was almost twelve years old, Terra surely acted like a little kid sometimes. Or maybe Ven was rubbing off on him, because his enthusiasm truly had no boundaries. It made his deep cobalt blue eyes gleam brightly, matching the beaming look on his face.
But wasn't that what she liked so much about him, anyway; his never dying determination to make all his dreams come true? His words always inspired her, too.
"Hey, let's take a break from this. I'll ask my mom if she wants to make us some lemonade. She makes the best lemonade on the planet!" Terra suggested, interrupting her train of thoughts.
Aqua nodded, relieved. He didn't have to say that twice; she'd seen enough logs for today.
Thankfully, the air had cooled a good seven degrees,when Aqua stepped into the green, familiar garden, the grass under her feet soft and well recognized. At once, the girl was engulfed by the smell of freshly cut grass and other flowers. This however, was the least of her thoughts at the moment.
She was wondering why Terra had sounded so weird over the phone, so unlike his usual self…Hopefully, things were all right. She'd wanted to make sure right away just to ease her mind, but her father had demanded she finish her dinner before leaving the house. And since her archrival, broccoli had appeared on her plate that evening, it had taken her another utterly painful fifteen minutes of complying with her parents' wishes. It had been a real torture, to say the least.
Thank goodness that's over, she thought ruefully.
However, this time she didn't get the chance to meander in the garden, because suddenly, Terra appeared, as if out of nowhere, claiming her attention. "Hey there," he greeted, with his famous mischievous smile.
Well, at least he didn't look like he was upset, or something. That made the bluenette girl feel a little more relieved.
"Hey. Your mom said I could find you here. What was with that sudden call, is everything alright?"
An amused expression seemed to cross Terra's face briefly as he saw the worried look in her eyes. It wasn't something new to him; Aqua could worry about the most trivial things and to be honest, it was kinda... cute.
"Yes. Everything's fine, as always," he assured his friend. "What were you expecting?"
Aqua felt her face start to redden. "...Well, I uh-"
He shook his head. "Really, Aqua, you're such a girl sometimes. You worry way too much about everything... But there's something that I've got to show you and it couldn't wait."
This piqued the blue-haired girl's interest; her cerulean eyes were instantly locked with his cobalt. "Really?"
Leaving Aqua with no time to ponder her friend's motives, Terra grabbed her hand and promptly headed towards the big tree. Aqua didn't do anything to stop him, going along obediently. It was either that, or being dragged all over like a ragdoll.
Hmm…I wonder where we're going?
At that moment, there was only one possible answer that crossed Aqua's mind, and it was not in the slightest bit appealing. Oh no. No more logs, please let there be no more logs...
She was so not going to like this.
However, thankfully Terra had something else in mind. "Tadaah!" he cried, proudly, pointing upwards to the... tree?
"Uhm, Terra? That tree's nothing new."
He gave her a funny look at that. "What? No, not the tree, look closer," he hinted, mood hovering between amused and frustrated.
Aqua did as she was told, quietly hoping that this wasn't another prank of his. Goodness knew that the brunet was a master of pranks, as Ven could readily attest. Surely, she had never been a victim of his jokes before (and that fact surprised her, even if she kept quiet about it. There was no reason to poke a sleeping bear, right?
Her mouth formed a rounded 'O' at the breathtaking sight of the huge, secured tree hut, barely visible between the thickly leaved branches. It seemed more like a little house, sized to children their age, than a tree house. It was the perfect hiding spot for any game and from this distance it looked even more spectacular.
"Wow!" She breathed, clearly in awe.
For an amateur, she had to admit that this was pretty nicely done. It made her even doubt if he'd done it himself. A couple of days ago, she would never have dared to dream of those random building materials transforming into such a masterpiece. Terra never ceased to amaze her.
"You like it now? Just wait until you see it from the inside. You're gonna love it," Terra commented. "C'mon."
It was only now that she saw the wooden laths that were nailed to the tree trunk, serving as a ladder to get to the new tree hut. Hopefully, weight wouldn't be an issue with two people climbing the ladder at once.
Terra went up first, only turning to look downwards once he had reached the top. "Hey, aren't you coming?"
Aqua hesitated slightly, but then decided to go for it. What could possibly go wrong, right? As cautious as ever, she climbed upward, shoes thunking softly against the wooden rungs. When she had finally reached the platform, the brunet boy extended his hand, pulling her steady. From the inside, the tree house was even bigger than she'd first expected. Six people could comfortably sit without invading each other's personal space.
She looked around, taking in her surroundings with mounting interest. The room looked quite cozy, a white coffee table stacked with board games and toys, a big wooden box and a handful of blue and yellow cushions, something Aqua was grateful for. Terra must have done it deliberately, knowing how much she loved the color.
Yellow and blue... Land and Water... Terra and Aqua...
"Well, what do you think?"
The bluenette shook her head, as to clear her thoughts, before replying. "It's great! I love it."
That made him chuckle.
"I knew you would say that."
What, was she that predictable?
"So this little house in the trees is finally yours now, huh?"
"No…" Terra paused for a moment to recollect his thoughts, giving the perplexed girl a sidelong glance. "It's ours now."
As expected, Aqua's face lit up and she gave him one of her radiant smiles in return. For some reason, that one, four-lettered word made her heart flutter from happiness, leaving her insides with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Really, he was so sweet to her. The blue-haired girl couldn't fathom how her life would be without him.
"Well, this calls for a celebration. How does a glass of my Mom's lemonade sound to you?" Terra asked, breaking the silence.
"That's what I thought you'd say." He headed towards the wooden box and took out what seemed to be a thermos and two colored glasses, one yellow and one blue.
So that's what he had hiding in there… Who would have thought?
After returning to stand next to her, he put the items on the floor and poured a full glass of the sweet drink for them both. He handed her the blue glass and she muttered a quiet thanks.
"Cheers," he said with a small grin, while carefully raising his glass.