According to Terra, it always were the little and simple things in life that made everything so beautiful. Like today. It was another sunny afternoon in the beautiful Land of Departure, like every other day.
The bright sun warmed your skin intensely and eventually tanned it slightly, if you really were that lucky. There was a light and pleasant breeze in the air. The sky was clear blue, exactly as it should be. There were no puffy clouds in the sky this time.
Master Eraqus had made Aqua and Terra stop training, just a bit earlier today, because it was such lovely weather and because they really could afford it lately. That definitely was a first. Terra was getting better and better and Aqua had also improved a lot with her magic skills.
Moreover, their Master had to write an important letter to Master Xenah...eh no, Xehanort, a good old friend of his (man, the guy had a tricky name!). The young Key blade wielders had never seen him before and they didn't know that much about the man, except for the fact that the two Masters had ever trained together and were friends. That sure had been a long time ago and Master Eraqus didn't talk a lot about it. He had only mentioned it two times so far.
Aqua and Terra lay sprawled on the grass and silently enjoyed the warm sunshine, still smelling the smell of freshly mowed grass and fragrant flowers. The lovely smell of summer, and home. Terra also smelled something else, though.
Was it...tropical orchid? And something else he could not recognize. Well, whatever the delicious smell was, he knew for sure that it must be either Aqua's shampoo, or the parfume she was using. He had to admit that the smell was very...overpowering, in many ways. Or was "irresistable" a better word here? Either way, he did not care that much and just lay there, enjoying the "overpowering" smell of her.
Terra slowly but surely had become a bit drowsy from the heat and the sweet melody of the peaceful whistling of the many birds in the background and soon - far too soon, but he couldn't stop it - his eyes had slowly closed...and opened again...and closed again...until they stayed close like that, for a very long time. His breathing automatically had become much slower and deeper now.
He had almost fallen asleep right then and there - he sure had to admit that the grass was a good replacement for his warm and soft bed inside - when Aqua, who quietly lay beside him, suddenly spoke to him with her clear voice, "Terra?"
Terra didn't even bother to open his eyes, because he assumed that it wasn't really that necessary. To be honest, he wasn't entirely sure whether he could open his eyes if he had wanted to, even if he tried so hard. So why would he even make any effort? It would be a waste of his time and energy, anyway.
He muttered a simple, "Hmm?" knowing that that would suffice for now.
It did take a short while - just a few minutes, or maybe hours, or just ten seconds. He didn't really know, for he wasn't paying that much attention to the passing time - before Aqua began to talk again. Maybe she had considered whether she really should ask him this, or not. Eventually, she chose to, anyway.
"Do you...remember the day we met each other for the first time?"
He frowned, his eyes still closed. This question really caught him off-guard. Of course he did! It was only a few weeks ago. He knew he was forgetful, but he was not that oblivious. Besides, how on earth could he possibly have forgotten that?
That had been the decisive point where everything had begun, when his world, no, more like his whole being had turned all upside down and inside out. He finally bothered to glance up at her. He slowly - and with quite difficulty - opened his eyes and turned his head in her direction.
He then looked right into those breath taking, bright blue orbs of her that reminded him so much of topaz and he unconciously held his breath. Her short, blue hair also glistened in the sunlight, just like her striking eyes. It looked impressive, almost unreal, but still very beautiful in a very special way.
He suddenly was fully aware of the fact that they were lying so close next to each other. Had he moved just a little bit closer to her, maybe even less than an inch, then their shoulders would have brushed against each other ever so lightly, sending shivers down his spine. He somehow could feel the warmth that radiated from her body, or he was just imagining it. It made him get goosebumps everywhere, despite of the heat.
She really had a strange impact on him lately. When she was around him, he suddenly became more aware of how long his arms were and how strange he was actually moving...all the friggin' time. Maybe it was just his colorful imagination that had decided to fool him from now on.
It sometimes made him wonder if she had ever noticed all these strange things about him. He sure hoped with all his heart that she had not. And even if she had, she had never mentioned it before, fortunately.
This time it was the remarkable look in her striking eyes that surpised him the most. She suddenly looked so...shy. She never was shy. He forced himself to keep looking her in the eyes and not breaking the eyecontact, without getting distracted, which actually happened to be a very hard thing to do. He cleared his throat and answered her question as short as he could, trying to keep his voice and composure as neutral as he could, nonchalant even. Emotions could be fatal at times like these.
"Yeah...what about it?"
Another pause followed, shorter than the previous one, before she hesitantly broke the silence again.
"Well... I was just wondering what your first impression was of me when you saw me for the first time."
Okay, she had managed to make him curious, again. He frowned lightly, wondering if this was some kind of a trick of her, or perhaps even a joke. (Was it April Fools day?) It wouldn't be anything for her, though, so he considered that she was being serious after all.
"Why do you ask?"
Terra lifted a thin, brown eyebrow, the disbelief practically dripping from his lips. It was his "yeah, right"-look Aqua had got to know. For him, "because" certainly wasn't a proper reason and she knew that very well.
"Try again," he said, casually.
Aqua sighed and smiled a small smile. He probably knew her better than she had thought. At once, when she had realized this, her eyes started looking brighter than first.
"Call it...curiosity. And...please be honest."
"I certainly will."
Terra tried to smile as well, - he probably looked as if he had toothache, so he quickly stopped with doing so, before he would scare her, or something - while thinking about it for a short while. He even remembered all the small details of the day they had met each other for the very first time.
It had been a beautiful and sunny day, just like today. The sun had been shining all day long and the sky had had exactly the same color as Aqua's own eyes now had. Terra had been practising with his new Keyblade, all on his own.
He had been training a certain hard move and he had almost succeeded to master it, when Master Eraqus had come outside and had called for him. He had stopped his training at once and had turned around automatically.
Strangely enough, the very first thing he had seen hadn't been Master Eraqus, but a slender girl, standing next to the Master. Something in her had attracted him immediately. Maybe it was the superabundance of the color blue. Her shimmering, bright blue eyes matched her short blue hair that glistened in the sunlight. She seemed to be slightly younger than him.
She wore a black and blue, high-collared halter top, two pink, intersecting belts over her chest, and black shorts and a silver badge. On her arms were white bell-sleeves and tan, fingerless gloves. She also wore black stockings or socks on her legs which reached to about halfway up her thighs, leaving a small area of bare skin on her upper thighs. She bore two strips of blue cloth that draped over either side of her hips, along with a smaller, white strip of cloth tied around her waist, draped in the same manner. Finally, she wore pointed, armored, silver boots with a sharp "hook" on the outer side of each.
Strangely enough, the first thought that had struck his mind was, 'wow!' almost immediately followed by wondering what that girl was actually doing here. They had never been visited here by a girl before.
Where had she come from? What did she want? Perhaps she was a niece of the master, who had suddenly decided to visit him for unknown reasons. She just couldn't be a new apprentice, for that seemed to be just...well, impossible.
What he actually meant with that? Oh, come on, she was a girl for crying out loud! Wasn't it that obviously? Girls did not fight, they cooked meals for the heroes - which were all men, in case you did not know - and cleaned the house and boring stuff like that. This was not a stereotype, for his mother always did the very same thing for his dad, every single day.
Then it could also be possible that she was here to apply for a job as a houskeeper. That would explain a lot. They really needed one, because Master Eraqus had no time to cook and Terra was not that great at cooking, either.
Sure, he knew how to cook some things, the easier recipes like eggs, macaroni, spaghetti and other stuff like that, but that was all. It made him wonder once again how his Master had survived all these years, before Terra had become his apprentice.
Had there been another apprentice who had cooked for him? Probably. A man that actually did know how to cook a delicious meal without letting anything burn, that was something completely new for him. He had never met one.
He had almost forgotten to bow for Master Eraqus - a sign of respecting the elder - who introduced her to Terra. They shook hands. Her hand was soft and delicate, - just the way a girl's hand had to be, so he was not really that surprised - his hand probably felt, as he put it, much coarser.
"Hi, I'm Terra."
She had smiled at him. It had been just a small smile, but he had felt a slightly strange feeling in his stomach, as if he had skipped a stair step in his hurry to get down the stairs as soon as he could.
"My name is Aqua."
She had - there was not another word for it - a beautiful voice. It was as bright as a babbling brook in the mountains. Wow, where had that strange idea came from? He had probably read too much Shakespeare. He had blinked his eyes and shook his head to get his mind clear again.
Okay, so the girl had a beautiful voice. So what? That didn't mean that she had actually made his heart beat faster, or something. She was pretty, sure, and yes, maybe she had a nice smile, but that was it! There were more girls like her.
"Aqua is a new trainee. She wants to become a Keyblade Master, just like you, and since I've seen that she has some potencial, I've decided to give her a chance. I expect that you will treat her with as much respect as you do with me, Terra," Master Eraqus had told his student.
Terra had nodded, somewhat sheepishly, while bowing again when the Master had wanted to leave them alone. That, he certainly hadn't expected. He tried not to show his surprise. After he had heard that Aqua was especially good at magic, it had cost him the greatest difficulty not to die of laughter in their Master's presence. Magic? Why didn't that surprise him at all? That was exactly what one should expect from a girl; no pure strength, no speed, but girlish spells. How Predictable.
He could still recall how he had treated her as though he didn't take her serious at all, - which he didn't - as if she was nothing. He had always had a comment on her. It never was good enough what she did. He also secretly had been a little suspicious of her and according to him he had had all reason to be, for she was behaving strangely.
She never said anything to him, unless it really was necessary, but there never came such opportunity. She also never asked him why he was always picking on her, or pestered him back. She just didn't talk at all.
The sickening and uncomfortable silence was driving him crazy sometimes. It almost felt as though she was doing it on purpose, as though she was challenging him all the time to be the first one to say something to break the deafening silence.
If she really was doing that, then it did work, for he always was the first, no, more like the only one who said something during their training session. It was at times like these that he would start making hateful comments about her. This way, it looked like it was her own fault that he was acting this mean to her.
Why did she want to become a Keyblade Master in the first place? Was she planning something? Had she any idea of how hard it was to become one? That one had to train very hard and still could not be entirely sure whether you'd succeed? Was she insane? That would certainly explain a lot.
He didn't know why he was behaving like such an asshole toward her, but he had noticed that he had a certain self-satisfaction of her, every time that he was cracking her and belittling her (not in the presence of Master Eraqus, of course. He would not dare!), almost as if he was jealous of her. In retrospect, he had always despised himself.
Especially the fact that she had almost beaten him a few times during an exercise, had taken him aback. It shouldn't and couldn't be that way. After this, he had envied the girl even more. He really didn't know what was wrong with him. She obviously had a bad influence on him.
This sneaky and senseless bullying had automatically stopped after some days. He suddenly had noticed that Aqua actually was not that bad as he had thought first. Actually, he really liked being with her.
She really was serious, but that didn't mean that she had no sense of humor. Not that he would ever admit that in front of anyone. And the silence between them during training was not uncomfortable anymore, but just pleasant. As soon as she had felt that too, she had started asking him about his life.
She also happened to be good company. Normally, after his training he would do nothing, but wander through the building and read a book, or something to kill some time. Then he would sleep, until the next day. After that, everything would start all over.
Since Aqua was here, though, everything had changed. He had changed. Every day was a new one, a different one. He kind of felt ashamed of what he had thought of her at first and how he had treated her. He actually didn't want to tell her what he had thought back then, because he just didn't want to hurt her feelings any more, but somehow, when he looked at her again, he just couldn't lie to her.
"Well, to be honest with you, I first thought that you were a niece of Master Eraqus..."
His voice trailed off. This was so embarrassing! Aqua lifted an eyebrow.
"Why did you think that?"
Yeah, why had he thought that in the first place, he wondered now. It didn't make any sense to him now, now that he had seen how strong she actually was.
"Well, I know it sounds kinda stupid, but..that was the only way to explain why you had come here. It was either that, or you wanted to become our cook, servant...or housekeeper."
He didn't dare to look at her now. Maybe it hadn't been a good idea to be so fair to her. The silence that had settled between them just said enough already.
"Oh," she said softly, gazing up at the clear blue sky that matched her eyes so perfectly.
Wait, did he just hear some disappointment lace in her voice, or was he just imagining it...again?
"And do you still think of me in that same way?" she asked out of the blue.
So that was what this all was about? He was more than glad that she had asked him this, for now he would finally be able to make up with her for his stupid behavior against her.
"No, of course not! I've underestimated you terribly and... I'm sorry for that...just so you know."
Aqua was astonished, bewildered. Terra never had said sorry before to her. She smiled.
"It's okay, Terra. I think we all have some prejudices."
Did that mean... Terra suddenly sat up, leaning on his elbows, curiosity striking him again.
"Then what was your first impression of me?"
Aqua's eyes widened slightly. She should've seen that coming, really. She hesitated a little bit. Her first impression of him hadn't been that positive, either. Should she tell him? But then he sure would get mad at her...
"Come on, you can tell me. I won't get mad at you. Promise," Terra said, teasing her.
She thought of a way to tell him this without pissing him off too much and concluded that there was no such way.
She thought back of that certain important day again. Oh boy, she had been nervous that day! Even when she thought about it now, she could still feel the many butterflies flying around in her stomach. That feeling was killing her from the inside, but she had to do this, for it had always been her big dream to become a Keyblade Master and see all the other worlds out there.
Besides, what could possibly happen to her? She wouldn't die of meeting the famous Master Eraqus, right? He wouldn't eat her for daring to disturb him. Even if she didn't know him at all, she had heard a lot of good stories about him.
So she had taken a few deep, shaky breaths before she had entered the big golden and white building. This was the place where a new life would start for her, she could feel it. She had bowed deeply for Master Eraqus.
Master Eraqus certainly hadn't been as she had expected him to be. He looked...much younger and less strict. He wore a white, red lined haori that seemed to have a hood, along with slightly shorter than normal, light-colored hakama. Underneath his haori, he wore a navy blue shirt with a large white X-pattern on the front. He also had a jagged scar over his right eye and on his left cheek. He also wore pieces of armor, gold and black armored boots and a dull blue-green section that covered his abdomen. His black hair was tied into a short, high topknot, with one bang falling off to the right side of his face. He also had a short, triangular sould patch and a mustache.
She had explained him what she was doing here and the Master had listened to her story, without interrupting her. She had been more than happy about that. He then had asked her if she wanted to prove him that she had some potential. She had nodded silently, wondering what she was supposed to do now. Did she have to show him a demonstration of her magic skills? As in right now?
"Then let's start," he had said.
That pretty much answered her question. She couldn't really recall what exactly she had done to impress the Keyblade Master. All she still did know, was that she had casted some of the most powerful spells she knew.
There had been little firelights hanging in the air everywhere, all surrounded by ice as clear and transparant as crystal orbs. The temperature inside had changed dramatically; suddenly, it had been freezing cold. So cold that suddenly it had started snowing. Not exactly what Aqua had had in mind.
When she had finished her demonstration, Master Eraqus had said nothing for quite a while. A deep frown had appeared on his scarred face, which had made him look quite older now. It had made Aqua even more nervous. She was sure she had done everything wrong.
There goes my one and only chance of proving him that I have talent, she had thought sadly.
Just when Aqua had wanted to say something, only to break the somewhat deafening silence, he had said slowly, "Well, let me introduce you to my other apprentice. I hope you two can get along very well, because from now on you will be training together a lot."
From that moment on, Aqua had felt lighter than a feather, a warm, blistening feeling taking all over her and spreading all over her body. The feeling of euphoria. She simply couldn't believe this. She had done it! Okay, this was just the beginning, but still! She would make this.
She had followed the Master outside, happier than ever and slightly curious as well. She really had hoped that it would be at least a nice girl with whom she could get along with pretty well. Friendship was very important for her.
"Terra, where are you?" he had called.
Terra? Was that the girl's name? Hmm, that sure was an unusual name. It also was quite a coincidence - or was it? - that the meaning of that name was connected to hers, for Terra and Aqua were Latin for earth and water, two out of the four elements.
She then had seen that a boy with brown hair had been practising with a key-shaped object, all on his own. Aqua recognized the object immediately, for she had one, too. It was a Keyblade, a mighty weapon if you knew how to handle it. The boy had stopped his training at once and had turned around in one quick, but smooth move.
He hadn't looked immediately at his Master, but at her. His cobalt blue eyes had seemed to pierce right through her soul. Her stomach had made a few summersaults. He seemed to be a bit older than she was.
But almost who seconds farther, he quickly had bowed for Master Eraqus, who had introduced him to her. The boy had extended his hand and then they had shook hands. She had noticed almost immediately that he had a strong and firm grip.
"Hi, I'm Terra."
She had smiled a little, a warm feeling taking all over her. Terra's voice was deep and very pleasant to the ears. It was that kind of a voice that you wanted to hear tell a bedtime story, so it would be a sweet lullaby for you.
"My name is Aqua."
"Aqua is a new trainee. She wants to become a Keyblade Master, and since I've seen that she has some potencial, I've decided to give her a chance. I expect that you will treat her with as much respect as you do with me, Terra," Master Eraqus had told his young student.
Terra had nodded, his face always staying neutral. When the Master had told him that she was good with magic, she had seen that something in his blank expression had changed. The corner of his mouth had slightly twitched upwards, probably unconciously. Had it been a smirk? She still didn't know.
The following days, though, she had felt very uncomfortable around him, especially after their first training together. He hadn't spared her and she had been glad that she was good at healing. After their training - yes, he had beaten her, but it had been just this close or she had won from him - it had become even worse.
As soon as their Master would leave them alone, he would start pester her and belittle her with his arrogant remarks for no reason. He always showed off that he knew things better, like a real macho man. He didn't seem to take her serious and didn't trust her at all, for he never let her alone. She had started disliking him from that moment on.
She had endured it all, never letting her guard down, but she didn't know how long she could hold on like that, considering the fact that she was just a human after all, and not a heartless robot. She had feelings too. Just because she didn't show them with him around, didn't mean that she didn't care at all what he was saying about her.
Frankly, she had no idea what she had possibly done wrong and why he was behaving that way. He was downright rude. As cowardly as it sounded, she didn't dare to say something about it, being afraid that it would become even worse. Telling their Master about this, wasn't really an option, either.
Strangely enough, his bullying had suddenly stopped after a few weeks. She had had no idea what had caused this sudden happening, but it had felt like a small miracle and she had been very grateful for it. From that moment on, he had showed her that he could also be a gentleman if he wanted to. That was how she liked to see him the most.
"Terra to - eh, I mean, earth to Aqua! Are you still with me? I'm still waiting for my answer. Wow, that does sound strange, don't you think?"
She slowly returned to reality and saw that he was waving frantically with his hand in front of her face. He still was looking expectantly up at her, curiosity written all over his face. She swallowed and quickly knocked his hand away that was blocking her view.
"I'm sorry, I guess I sort of spaced out a little."
"A little? You call that a little? Honestly, I've been waiting for more than ten minutes for an answer! Let me guess, you were daydreaming again? About who? There aren't many people out here, except for..." Terra started teasingly, a smirk appearing on his face.
He looked suggestively to the direction of Master Eraqus's bedroom window, who fortunately could not overhear their conversation, and then back to her. She started to blush slightly.
"Ew, that's just- haha, how funny!" she said sarcastically, prodding him in his stomach.
"Then could you explain to me why you're blushing like a madman, huh?"
The mischivous grin never disappeared from his face. He just loved to tease her like that and then see what would happen next. Her reactions always were priceless.
"Terra, just stop that!"
She waved with her hands in front of her blushing face, shooking her head and trying to compose herself that way.
"I'm still waiting your answer, you know."
Aqua's eyes widened of pure shock and disbelief when she looked at him.
"What do you think? Of course not, he's our teacher! He's much older than me, that would be so wrong!" she exclaimed irritably.
Terra's brow furrowed in quasi-confusion, but his eyes were sparkling brighter than ever.
"Ehm, I was actually talking about the first impression-question. And if you don't wont him to hear us, I suggest you should stop yelling like that, for he's not deaf...yet."
Aqua sighed exasperately. She thought it was a wonder that she still held on, living with a guy like Terra.
"Right. Of course. To return to your question...well, uh..."
How had she gotten into this situation in the first place? Oh right. She and her stupid mouth again.
"Yes?" he urged on.
Aqua sighed a long-suffering sigh and looked away when she spoke.
"When I heard your name for the first time, I thought you were...a girl."
She had whispered the last two words, but despite of that, Terra had heard her loud and clear.
He blinked a couple of times, mouth dropping open.
"Seriously? But...how? I mean, was it the hair, or something?"
Aqua's head snapped up again. Terra's hair was one of the things she loved so much about him. She liked long hair. Only his eyes were more interesting.
"No, there's absolutely nothing wrong with your hair! In fact... I like it this way."
"Then what?" he demanded.
"It's just...the name. It ended with an "a," just like my name, so I thought... I don't know."
She faltered, not knowing what to say now. Was there anything left to say? A silence settled between them. She could feel the tension. Suddenly, she jumped at the sound of Terra, who had started to laugh for some unknown reason, confusing Aqua even more. It was the first time she heard him laughing like this and she started to love the sound. It was so...pure. A small smile touched her lips.
"What's so...funny?" she asked, surprised.
Aqua frowned at this.
"I don't really...get it," she stated.
Terra just shook his head, still chuckling and slowly lay down again, relaxing once more.
"It was what you thought that made me laugh. I didn't know you had such peculiar thoughts, for that was the first comment I had heard of my name. I guess it's...a girl thing."
"I see that you're full of puns today."
"Yeah. You'd better get used to it, for I've only started."
She rolled her eyes and followed Terra's example, laying back too, enjoying the warm sunshine that slowly crept further and further away from them as the sun slowly started to set. Who was calling who strange? She didn't say that out loud, though, for she didn't want to poison this moment of pure happiness. She sighed contended. They should ask Master Eraqus for permission to take more days off. It sure was relaxing and refreshing.