"Oh yeah? Take this!"
Expertly, the raven-haired young man flung the contents of his bottle of water at Terra, who, already having anticipated the move, immediately ducked to avoid getting wet. However, at that very same moment, Aqua decided to show up and she was less lucky.
Unsuspectingly, she rounded the corner, stepping into the garden and before her brain could register that something was off, she started cheerfully, "Hey Terra, did you-"
She shrieked in mid-sentence when cool water hit her straight in the face instead. The handsome culprit's bright blue eyes widened in a mix of surprise and pure panic, as he wondered where this young woman had suddenly come from. He bit back a curse, seeing the damage he'd caused with one simple move. It had never been his intention to get innocent people involved in this, but it was the question if she would believe him, too or not.
Terra's cobalt blue eyes widened at the sight, too. Without any hesitation, he grabbed the now empty bottle out of the other young man's hands and hit him on the head with it as hard as he could. Of course, it didn't hurt, but it was enough to get his attention.
"Look what you did, you idiot! She's all soaked now!"
The male teen didn't know how quick he should apologize and some color touched his cheeks. His razor-sharp eyes seemed to glow faintly, as he swiftly cried, "I'm so sorry! I didn't see you, honestly! You just appeared out of the blue… no pun intended." Terra let out a rather uncharacteristic snort at that, which earned him a glare from the stranger. "What? It's true, isn't it?"
Despite everything, Aqua wore the beginning of a smile on her flawless face and she muttered a quiet, "It's okay," as she slowly brushed her wet hair that now felt twice as heavy out of her face, so she could look at the stranger with the striking blue eyes.
Honestly, she didn't really mind. Her hair wouldn't need extra attention, because it always dried the way she wanted to, without it becoming static (unless it was winter, that was when it became über uncooperative). It was just that the timing had been a little… annoying, for a lack of better word. Not to mention the fact that the air felt considerably colder now. The bluenette shivered involuntarily as soon as that thought came into her mind. Besides, it wasn't like this guy had meant to do this on purpose, to her at least. Things like this could happen, especially when you seemed to be a trouble-magnet like she was.
"So uhm, what's your name?" the stranger asked now, genuinely interested. Or perhaps it was one of his attempts to lighten the mood, or something.
Whatever the case, the blue-haired teen found herself automatically replying, "Aqua."
The bluenette's gaze travelled briefly to Terra, but the brunet chose to stay in the background this time. Just who was this energetic male teen, anyway? He reminded her a little of Ven, except that this guy's hair was black as the night and slightly older.
"How… fitting," he spoke.
"Because of my blue hair or because I'm soaked?" Aqua wondered, to which he grinned apologetically.
He scratched the back of his head, looking slightly uneasy under her steady stare. "Yeah... about that, I'm really sorry!"
"Hey, it's fine," she assured him with a small smile. It was actually kind of... cute how he looked so guilty. Exactly like Ven. "I'm not hurt, so it's okay, I guess."
"No!" he swiftly cried, making Aqua raise a thin brow at his sudden cry. "I mean…" He paused, as though he was trying to find the right words, before a goofy grin appeared on his face, making him appear much younger than he was. For a brief moment, she thought that this meant trouble, but then... "Hey, how about one date to make it up to you?" he said, lifting only one finger to emphasize his point.
Well... that was honestly the last thing she'd expected to hear.
Aqua blinked until his words sunk in and then blushed, stuttering, "Huh!? Oh! You mean- No... Th-that's not necessary. Besides, we don't even know each other..."
"Oh, where are my manners. I guess your beauty made me forget about everything else." He smiled, while extending his right hand to her. "The name's Zack Fair. I'm Terra's cousin, by the way."
"Cousin?" This time, Aqua gave the brunet a questioning look.
Terra had never mentioned anything about this Zack to her, so she had always assumed that he didn't have any cousins, just like her. This was quite a revelation.
Terra nodded, letting out a quasi-sad sigh, as though he was about to tell her a tragedy. "Yeah, I'm ashamed to admit that we're actually family, but unfortunately, it's true."
"What? You're not serious, are you?"
Terra ignored Zack's pouting (the latter starting to do squats for some unknown reason), continuing like he'd never been interrupted, but now with a small smirk adorning his face. "That's why you've never met him before. I wanted to keep it a secret from everyone, for my dignity, you know."
"Hey!" Zack cried, pretending to be highly offended, as he jabbed the older male squarely in the ribs.
This resulted into a new round of play fighting. Unsure of what to do, Aqua kept looking from Terra to Zack and back again. Now that they were standing so close to each other, it was easy for the bluenette to notice all the similarities between them. They both had broad shoulders and were tall and quite muscular. Only their eyes were a different shade of blue (Zack's eyes were considerably lighter, but not necessarily less beautiful than Terra's, whose eyes she'd never be able to forget). Their hair color was different, too, albeit both of them seemed to like spikes. Terra was also taller than his younger cousin, but something told her that Zack would catch up on him soon enough.
When they seemed to become aware of the fact that the blue-haired beauty was giving them a funny look, they both stopped, as if caught red-handed.
The raven-haired male took this moment to look at his watch. "Well, nice meeting you, Aqua and once again, sorry for that. It was solely meant for this gullible guy here," Zack explained, as he took the empty water bottle out of Terra's hand and rapped him on the head with it.
"Shut it, Puppy."
Aqua let out a laugh at that. "Puppy?" she questioned curiously.
"Yeah, that's his nickname."
"Apparently," Zack added, scratching the back of his head again. It was only then that the bluenette noticed that he was doing squats... again. Before she could give this any further thought, however, the ebony-haired teen continued, "So… that's a date, right?"
The moment all the attention was turned to her again, Aqua started feeling uneasy again and she blushed. "Oh, I couldn't possibly… I mean, I don't want to be any bother."
From the corner of her eyes, she could tell that Terra had started smirking. Why was it that he always found it funny to see her transform into an awkward turtle?
"No bother at all. Well, that's settled, then, right?" he said with a wink.
It seemed that she couldn't get out of this one, especially when Zack used the Puppy-dog eyes on her. So eventually, she just accepted his offer, much to the raven-haired young man's joy. How could she possibly say no when he was looking at her like that?
"Nice! I gotta go now. Training starts in half an hour and I'm already late," Zack said.
"Training?" Honestly, Aqua really started feeling dumb now. The more Zack told about him, the more questions she had.
"Yeah, fencing and stuff," he explained. "And Angeal doesn't like to wait. Man, I've got a long way to go if I'm gonna become a hero."
"Oh…" She guessed that this Angeal had to be his instructor, or something.
"Well Aqua, I'll see you tomorrow then! I'll pick you up at seven pm. Don't worry, I'll ask Terra where you live later," he called with a laugh, before hurrying away.
"But..." Aqua sighed, because Zack was already too far away to say something.
Not that it would've helped, anyway.
Terra was the first one to break the silence that had set between them as soon as they were alone. "I didn't expect you'd say yes," he admitted, crossing his arms over his chest. "You never cease to amaze me, Aqua."
"Well it wasn't like he left me with a choice," she reminded him immediately, feeling as though she had to defend herself.
"That's true. That's why he always seems to get what he wants; girls think it's too adorable to stop him and apparently, you fell for his charms as well." Aqua opened her mouth to protest, when Terra swiftly added, "What was it that you wanted to tell me before you met Zack, anyway?"
At once, she broke out in a radiant smile, remembering why she had bothered to come here in the first place. "Guess what?"
Instead of guessing, Terra immediately replied with, "What?"
"I just got a letter... and I'm accepted at the conservatory in Destiny Islands!"
She could hardly believe it herself, because it was the place and university that she'd wanted to study since she was fifteen. Destiny Islands was known for its tropical beaches, nice climates and the best universities in the world. It was one of the best opportunities she could get at this age. The university she would attend in a few months had a certain status. This was almost too good to be true.
Terra's eyes widened, before he smiled at her. "Really? Congrats! I knew you would be accepted."
She gave her friend a flat look. "Terra... You don't even like my taste of music, or the sound of my violin."
Terra entertained her with a much-hurt expression. "Yes, I do! You shouldn't just start assuming things like that. It's offending... By the way, I need to show you something. It's inside."
This seemed to catch her interest. "Oh?"
With that, the tall brunet turned and headed for the house. Curiously, Aqua followed him to the kitchen and noticed that his parents weren't at home at the moment. When she entered the clean room, somewhere she was quite familiar with, he didn't waste any time and showed her a round-shaped pie with an extremely scary face. The eyes and opened mouth were purple, but made in such a way that it looked as though it was grinning evilly at them. Terra had put it on the dinner table and it seemed to have cooled off now. For a moment, she wondered why he'd bothered to make that when Halloween was still too far away. Though she had to admit that he really was good at making scary, angry faces. This one was probably going to give her nightmares, too.
"What's the occasion?"
"Well, since you didn't make anything for me when I asked you to yesterday, I tried to make you a blackberry pie with a smiley face, but… The result was the creepiest thing ever to come out of an oven…"
Aqua burst into a fit of giggles, but when she saw Terra's face, she straightened again (albeit with some difficulty). "That's okay, Terra. At least you tried. Besides, it's the gesture that counts and if it tastes okay, I don't see anything wrong with it. Who cares what it looks like? It's not like it's coming on the television, or anything, right?"
This seemed to cheer up the brunet, if only a little. He nodded and said, "Well, there's only one way to find out if it looks as bad as it tastes, right?"
With that, he took a knife from one of the kitchen drawers and cut into the pie.
"God, that's about the scariest thing I've ever seen in my whole life," he muttered under his breath, as he tried to put the first piece of pie on a plate. "I've seen clowns who look more charming than this thing. I created a monster..."
The next day, Aqua let out a highly frustrated sigh, her eyes never leaving her reflection in the mirror, as if that would ruin everything she'd done to look nice so far.
"Do I look fat in this dress?"
The question sounded uncertain and this time, Aqua did look at Terra, but via the mirror. The brunet man would lie if he said that this wasn't without a doubt the scariest minute in his whole life, as Aqua's razor-sharp eyes seemed to bore right through him. Right through his soul, even.
He didn't have to think twice to answer that question. "No, of course not! You're not fat at all."
Seriously, what was it with girls and constantly thinking they were fat? Why was it that they couldn't see the same things that guys saw when they looked at them? Snorlax was fat, pigs were even fat, but Aqua was anything but fat.
Still, the slightly nervous bluenette didn't seem to be fully convinced yet. Terra watched her quietly from where he was sitting on her desk chair, his chin leaning against his hand and elbow propped up on the wooden desk. Aqua was wearing a flattering, light blue summer dress that complimented her form and matched both her eyes and her hair that looked glossier than usual. The clothing item was sleeveless and reached just above her knee, but the best part of it was the way it made her creamy shoulders look. If the brunet had to use one word, he'd describe her as absolutely stunning. Too bad that she hadn't realized that herself.
"Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that much blackberry pie yesterday," she muttered under her breath, as she still looked at herself from different angles and put a hand against her stomach.
Terra suppressed the urge to roll his eyes and asked instead, "So what's with the dress? Is it for the date with Zack?"
She nodded. "Yes, but it doesn't look as good on me as I was hoping."
The brunet let out a frustrated sigh and he ran his hand through his spiky locks. "Aqua, would you please stop this nonsense already? You look gorgeous and you'll most likely catch every guy's attention with it, including Zack's."
He had never seen this insecure and vulnerable side of Aqua, but it made him feel… uncomfortable to say the least, even if he wasn't the one who was being so unsure of himself. It didn't fit her at all and quite honestly, it was totally uncalled for, too. Aqua was a beautiful young woman. Anyone who couldn't see that was as blind as a bat.
"Do you… mean it, or are you only saying it to ease my mind?"
Terra's breath caught in his throat at that moment. Aqua looked so beautiful, and the way she stared at him with those big, questioning eyes…
At that moment, the doorbell rang and she let out a startled gasp. "It's him!"
She was about to leave, when Terra quickly got up and grabbed her wrist. "Wait."
Aqua turned, giving him a questioning look. "What is it?"
"You uh… you look really nice. Zack's going to have a hard time with keeping his eyes off of you."
Terra offered her a faint smile, which she returned, before quickly making her way to the front door. The brunet, however, didn't follow her immediately and by the time he was halfway down the stairs, he could hear Zack's eager voice saying, "I saw this flower on my way here…"
"Oh! Thank you, that's… really nice of you, Zack."
The brunet couldn't help but grin. His cousin really could be a gentleman, he had to give him that.
The local community seemed to notice her right away, and they all made the impression to be mildly interested that she was with Zack. Aqua could feel their eyes on her back and it was a little unnerving to be honest. Apparently, the raven-haired young man was quite… popular with the townsfolk here (especially among the female population) and quite frankly, Aqua wasn't surprised at all.
"Shall we sit over there? It's pretty quiet in that area," Zack suggested, giving his date a questioning.
So he had noticed all the staring, too? Most likely. After all, it was hard to miss; no matter where she looked, she'd always catch some people watching them and then quickly pretending that they hadn't noticed the couple. In another situation, this would have made her laugh.
The bluenette nodded, feeling somewhat relieved. "Sure."
Soon enough, the two were able to order their drinks and Zack, being the gentleman that he was, let her choose first and insisted on paying everything.
"So," Zack started. "You know that I like fencing, but I don't know that much about you. Tell me more about yourself."
Aqua was glad for the offer of a topic to talk about, so she started explaining him about her passion for music. He seemed to latch onto everything she told him and proved to be a great listener.
They filled the silence with small talk for the rest of the day, at first hesitant, but soon enough, Aqua began enjoying herself immensely. Actually, it was impossible not to have fun with someone like Zack. The young man was witty, smart, and optimistic, and he seemed to have this kind of energy that never extinguished.
"He really likes you," Zack suddenly said and Aqua had no idea who he was talking about.
"Who?" she asked, confused, frowning lightly.
"Terra, of course. The way he acted when I accidentally threw water at you… Almost like I had crushed his biggest Dream, or something."
Despite everything, Aqua couldn't help but smile. "Well… we've been good friends for quite a long time. It shouldn't be that strange, right?"
Zack thought about it for a moment and then nodded, his trademark grin once again returning on his face. "Yeah… I guess that must be it." After a while, he added, "If you don't mind, I'd like to be friends with you, too. I promise I won't spill water on you anymore."
Aqua had to laugh at how solemn he sounded. She was starting to like him more and more. "Sure, why not."
Still, what the energetic young man had said about his cousin set her to thinking. Before this, she had never imagined how her life would be if Terra was her boyfriend, but now, she found herself wondering what it would be like. Would Terra act differently to her in that case than he did now? How often would they date? Where would he take her? How would he treat her?
…But most importantly, why was she even thinking about this kind of stuff?