Of Phobias and Strangers
Aqua sighed lightly when she entered her apartment, seeing the familiar young man lying on her couch much like he owned the place. He was petting Stitch, who was lying quietly on Terra's stomach, giving off the softest of purrs. Both seemed content and despite the situation, Aqua couldn't help but smile and think how cute it was to catch them like this.
It was really endearing to see how the once oh so tough Terra turned into the biggest softie around her pet. Even though the brunet never admitted it, he'd started caring deeply for Stitch and it seemed that the feeling had become mutual. To be honest, even Aqua didn't always spoil the blue animal as much as Terra did. That should explain why Stitch always changed into a hyperactive little monster whenever her friend showed up. Too bad that she didn't have a camera with her now...
After putting the shopping bags in a fairly safe corner, Aqua put her hands on her hips and started earnestly, "Terra…"
Terra sat up when he heard her voice, leaning on his elbows, startling Stitch in the process. Without acknowledging Aqua, the pet jumped off Terra's chest, skittering away to sulk in a dark corner now that his favorite pillow had disappointed him.
"You don't sound that happy to see me," Terra noted, rubbing over his chest where Stitch had unintentionally hurt him when he'd catapulted himself off the brunet.
Aqua ignored his comment. "How did you get inside, anyway?"
"Oh, I'm just awesome like that." For that, he received a look of pure skepticism, Aqua going so far as to cross her arms. After a beat of silence, he added, "And I made a replica of your key when you lent it to me the other day."
"Terra!" She grabbed the nearest pillow and smacked him on the head with it before he could brace himself for it.
Seriously, what had happened to the idea of granting her some much-needed privacy? She wouldn't actually be surprised if he walked in on her one day while she was changing clothes or something… The thought alone was alarming enough for her to be able to withstand the pleading, puppy dog look he was giving her. He and Zack were the best she had seen at imitating an abandoned puppy, forlorn expression and all (although Ven was getting pretty close, too). Perhaps it was a family thing.
Eventually, when Terra noticed that his silence wasn't going to save him, he said, "What? I thought you said I was always welcome to chill here?"
"I believe that 'chilling,' as you put it, does not involve breaking into my apartment and falling asleep on the couch after doing God knows what," she reminded him sternly.
"…It doesn't?" he said, quasi-surprised.
Aqua resisted the urge to bury her head in her hands. Honestly, he was just pushing her buttons, testing to see how long it would take for her to crack. Well, she wasn't going to give him that satisfaction.
"You know, you really should find a job."
His face fell at that. "I can't. I've got Ergophobia; fear of work."
"Yes, I know what that is, Terra… But that's not a good excuse to be lazy. What happened to the hardworking Terra who would never turn down a chance to prove how strong and determined he was?"
"If you must know, he got traumatized by a creepy guy named Xehanort," he said jokingly.
"Ugh, why do I even bother…? By the way, I got something for you. I saw it in the window and I just couldn't resist buying it."
Aqua walked back to the shopping bags to get Terra's little present.
"Ah, I see that your ancient girl-instincts struck again?"
"Very funny," she said sarcastically, as she tossed him the package in question.
Terra reached out and caught it, surprise written across his face at the fact that she'd bothered to get something for him, too. He didn't waste any time in opening it, but as soon as he saw its contents, a cobalt blue shirt with a hawk on it, his excitement quickly ebbed away.
Terra gave her a flat look, which she answered with an innocent one of her own. "It matches your eyes," she noted, as if she had no idea why he would give her that look.
"No, you just bought it because you still don't want to forget that stupid hawk that pooped on my head the other day," the brunet deadpanned.
"…Yeah, that too," the bluenette admitted, a mischievous glint evident in her eyes.
"Aqua!" he exclaimed indignantly, provoking a hearty laugh from his blue-haired friend.
"I can't see why you're so moody. Don't you know that it brings luck to you when a bird poops on your head?"
"Yeah, that must be why I failed the test I had the next day," he muttered, while secretly thinking of a way to get Aqua back for this...
Taking a nice, hot bath had honestly been a great idea. It felt so unbelievably relaxing that she forgot all about the stress that came with her studying and part-time job, as though the deliciously warm water washed away all her worries (it did ease the tension in her sore muscles). The soft, light blue walls that surrounded her only eased her mind more, as the bluenette enjoyed the lavender bath foam and the warm water.
It was truly relaxing how she could let her thoughts run completely free now, without fearing that she might forget about something important. She didn't even have to try to ignore Stitch, who was doing…something…which hopefully didn't include breaking down the apartment. Then again, Stitch only really got wild when Terra was around, so there was nothing to worry about right now. Aqua should see the fact that he was quiet as a good sign.
At the moment, Aqua's thoughts merely circled around one person; the mysterious man with the mesmerizing steel-blue eyes that she met just yesterday. Actually, mysterious was the understatement of the year what with the way he had suddenly appeared out of nowhere, pulling off the things that he did without sweating...
In fact, Leon was the epitome of 'Tall, Dark and Handsome', as cliché as that might sound, and she started to wonder why she'd never seen him around the campus before. Because quite honestly, it was kinda hard not to notice someone as captivating as him, even if he wasn't a student.
Gah, I sound like a silly, love struck schoolgirl… Can't be thinking like that, she thought berating herself. I mean, I don't even know him!
And she honestly hated herself for it, but curiosity had taken over her and before she knew what she was doing, her fingers were already typing away on her faithful laptop's keyboard, desperate to find some information about him, just anything to satisfy her sudden curiosity. Things were easier said than done, though, since she only had had his first name to work with at that time. It was a good thing that Aqua never backed down from a challenge, though. So needless to say, she eventually found what she'd been looking for, even though it was by mere coincidence. If it hadn't been for her stumbling on a random article with his photo on top of it, she would've given up.
Professor Squall Laguna Leonhart, better known by his nickname Leon, was fairly new here, which explained why she hadn't seen him around before. The shocking part was that he was far more famous than she'd thought; he had already performed in places like the Enchanted Dominion, at the twenty-first birthday of Prince Philip, and the opening of different big events, like the Olympic Tournaments in the Olympus Coliseum. And that was only the tip of the iceberg. To think that she'd been looking through the student records at first... He also taught both Music History as well as Music Theory, though the latter was only for first year students.
The man was so enigmatic… with a deep voice that was monotone yet still pleasant to the ears, and steel blue eyes that seemed to pierce right through your soul. She'd only met him once, but the impression he'd left on her was probably permanent…
Before she could stop herself, her mind took her back to their first meeting...
Aqua was heading to the flight of stairs, more than glad that her classes were over for today, when the sound of someone flawlessly playing the piano made her halt in the middle of the empty hallway. She vaguely recognized the melody, but her mind was too tired to remember the name of the piece. It took her a brief moment to realize that he was playing Vivaldi's Summer, from The Four Seasons. She used to listen to it a lot when she was younger. In fact, it was the part known as 'Presto' (Storm) that had made her fall in love with music. And this person was near that particular piece. So far, he was playing it flawlessly. Then again, this part was much slower than Presto, so it wasn't that hard to pull it off. Presto, however...that was a whole different story.
Curiously and carefully so as not to be heard, she opened the door to the room and looked inside. The first thing she noticed (other than the fact that the place was huge) was a tall guy with silky smooth brown hair that reached his shoulders, playing the pianoforte. His back was turned towards her, which made it easier for her to stay unnoticed as she watched him. The rest of the room had all kinds of instruments, from drums and guitars to keyboards and tubas. Stacks of music sheets were scattered on the table that stood near the pianoforte, giving her the impression that he'd been studying them all carefully, before picking out this particular piece. Especially with the cup of coffee that was strategically placed on the table, away from the sheets.
Aqua decided to linger a little longer to see if he could do her favorite part justice. The pace of it made it a technically hard piece. The bluenette had heard different people give it a try, but there was always at least one (nit-picky) detail that just sounded off. They either played it too slow, or pressed the wrong keys in their haste to keep up. So it was needless to say that she didn't think this guy could play it flawlessly and keep up with the actual pace at the same time. Even Xehanort had never succeeded and he was one of the most talented people she knew so far...
However, the moment he sped up, Aqua knew that this wasn't just any ordinary guy who played the pianoforte. He was far superior than a first year student like her. She could imagine how his hands were flying rapidly over the black and ivory keys, much like a storm, even if his posture made it seem like it was almost nothing to him to play this, like he could do this in his sleep and still make no mistakes. The amount of control he had, she couldn't even begin to describe it. It was as though he'd become one with the notes and she couldn't spot one little mistake.
Who is he? she thought, completely awestruck.
After he played the last note, she decided to make her presence known by stating, "That was very impressive."
This seemed to startle him slightly. He turned around and gave her a somewhat surprised look.
She could tell that he hadn't expected to have an audience.
But he was not the only surprised person; the bluenette young woman had certainly not expected to see someone with a thin scar on the bridge of his nose. That was the only thing that marred his otherwise flawless features. It started on his forehead, and went down diagonally, stopping under his left eye. It didn't make him look scary; on the contrary. It had something mysterious, attractive, even. Though maybe at the same time, he had an intimidating aura radiating off him. After all, if the scar had been only a few millimeters more to the left or right, it certainly would have cost him an eye. He looked a little too young to be a teacher, but slightly older than the average student. Still, that didn't mean anything, seeing as Aqua had a classmate who was fourty-eight years old.
It was then that she noticed she wasn't the only one who was scrutinizing the other.
The man's stormy blue eyes silently travelled to her violin case and they stopped there. "So you play the violin?" he questioned, although it sounded more like a statement.
"Yes, I do..." The bluenette didn't know why, but she hastened to add, "I'm a first year, though." Maybe it was because secretly, she knew she wasn't even half as good as he was, and if she ever had to play in front of him, she would probably sound like less of a hopeless noob.
Then, almost as though he'd silently made a decision, he turned around again and his left hand started to press on the ivory keys. It took her a while, but Aqua recognized this melody as well. It was Bizet's Habanera from the opera Carmen. However, where his right hand was supposed to join his other hand and start playing, only silence remained. Still, his left hand kept repeating the same keys: D – A – F before going back to the same A and D respectively, this time playing them a little faster. Frowning lightly, Aqua wondered why he was doing that. She looked at him and their eyes met. It was as though he was waiting for her to join. She could almost read the silent invitation in his eyes… That was when she finally understood, and he sped up even more.
After lifting her white violin out of its case, she did what he was probably hoping for and they started playing together. It did sound a little hesitant from her side at the beginning. After all, she had never played the song this fast. Soon enough, however, she forgot about everything else and only focussed on the feeling that the music gave her.
They say that the brain waves of two musicians synchronize when they're performing a duet. Well, Ven had said that he'd read it somewhere. Aqua had never believed it until now; maybe it was her brain playing dirty tricks on her, but he seemed to know exactly what keys to press, and where to improvise a little to make it sound absolutely perfect, no matter how fast they were playing. The combination of violin and piano had never sounded this appealing to her before (but she had little time to marvel at it, he made sure of that).
Apparently, he couldn't agree more with Aqua, for the song had barely ended when he sped up some more and started playing the chords for yet another piece. This one was much harder than Bizet's Habanera, but Aqua never backed down from a challenge. It made her wonder, though, was this guy just trying to test her, to find out how skilled she was? Or did he really enjoy playing with her? Because she knew she did...
When they stopped playing, the room became eerily quiet, but Aqua still felt the adrenalin in her body, and her ears could still hear the music that had faded away.
"L'amour est un oiseau rebelle que nul ne peut apprivoiser," he muttered, in perfect French.
Aqua had to smile. "Love is a rebellious bird that nobody can tame." Well, she couldn't be sure of that, but it was this line that some people knew the song from the opera Carmen by.
"You're a natural," he said, mildly impressed. "You said you were a first year?"
Aqua nodded. "Yes... I'm Aqua."
"Leon," he said in a deep voice, while they shook hands.
His grip was gentle, but it gave her the feeling that he could crush her fingers if he wanted to...
A gust of cold air blew her way when the bathroom door suddenly opened.
Aqua gasped when she realized what just happened. "Terra!" she shrieked in shock, while sinking back into the foam, so that he wouldn't be able to see anything of her. Thank god there was enough left to cover her. "For heaven's sake, give me some privacy!"
He, in return, quickly covered his eyes with his arm and staggered backwards, out of the bathroom...and judging by the sounds she heard, right into the small coffee table. "I'm sorry! I-I just wanted to use the toilet. How was I supposed to know you were in there when the door isn't locked?"
For a moment, Aqua was simply too stunned to reply to that. She had to lock the bathroom door in her own apartment even when she was the only one living here!? It felt like this wasn't even her own place they were talking about!
She recovered quickly, though. "That's it. You're gonna hand in that spare key of yours and next time, I'll be the one who lets you in. No more sneak attacks!"
Now that she thought about it, she didn't understand why she hadn't done that earlier. Darn Terra and his charm.
"Sorry!" the brunet merely repeated. "I swear I didn't see anything!"
Yeah, well that's a relief, she thought, rolling her eyes.
"...So uhm, are you done there?"
"Okay, okay. I'm leaving already!"