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To Be With You Wherever You Are

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Inspired by: Just the Way You Are (Bruno Mars), You & I (Lady Gaga), Umbrella (Rihanna)

Something About, Baby, You and I

(Day 1 – Amusement Park)

Aqua sat in her bedroom, leaning up against the backboard with her knees pressed to her chest. She hadn’t bothered getting dressed yet though she had already been up for an hour, showered, brushed her teeth, blow dried her hair, then completed pulling her hair up in a careful ponytail. But still hadn’t gotten the courage up to go knock on the guest room door.

It was silly really, as she was the one who invited Terra when he offhandedly mentioned his spring break would consist of babysitting his brother and friends. Not like her hometown was all that exciting in comparison but she hoped it was better than watching after teenagers. She propped her chin up on her knees, trying to get the fluttering feelings from the pit of her stomach that pretty much didn’t leave since said good night to Terra before they went to bed. Aqua didn’t actually think he’d agree; sure they’d been good friends since the first time she saw him passed out in the library over his books freshman year but this was…different.

It wouldn’t even be the first time she had to wake him up. Terra was not a morning person who often forgot to set alarm. It wasn’t unusual for her to have to go make sure he even got up to get to class on time; something Zack never ceased to find hilarious. He always seemed to get amusement out of calling Aqua Terra’s girlfriend even though the both of them always corrected it. To be fair they both gave up after a year of Zack’s relentless teasing; which she both dismayed and enjoyed if she was being honest with herself.

Terra’s other roommate was thankfully a little quieter, well, a lot quieter as she’d be lucky if she heard more than a one word sentence from Leon’s lips. He kept to himself and the only time Aqua ever learned anything about him was whenever his girlfriend visited from their hometown. Rinoa liked to talk a lot more than Leon ever did and tended to let out a lot more stories about him than he probably cared to have people know, but he also seemed to have a bit of a hard time saying no to her more than just a glance to tell her to reel it in some. She was also the only one he let call him his given name which Zack learned the hard way.

It really wasn’t even the first time she and Terra had woken up in the same vicinity. They had late nights either studying or just hanging out that usually ended with falling asleep on the couch or on the floor but that almost seemed normal. It was at school and it’s just what they did but this was a house, her house. It was like waking up in some sort of domestic life that seemed oddly intimate for her to go into a room that was specifically his for the week.

Aqua sighed. She was probably way over thinking all of this as per usual. She should just kick her legs over the edge of the bed and wake him up otherwise he might sleep the whole day; they got in pretty late last night to begin with. With a determined huff she jumped off her bed and pushed her door open to look out into the hallway.

The guest room door was still closed and the bathroom door open so there was a good chance he was still in bed. The rest of the house was quiet as her parents were at work; yeah, that was a task, getting her parents to agree to let Terra stay even when they wouldn’t be home. One would think since she was twenty her parents wouldn’t treat her like she was in high school still and let a boy who wasn’t even her boyfriend stay over without hassle. They agreed in the end so she supposed she couldn’t whine too much.

Aqua walked down the hall, hand knocking on the door just in case he was getting dressed or something but there was no answer. She carefully pushed the door open to peek inside.

Terra was, unsurprisingly, still asleep. The blinds were still drawn, keeping the room darker than it was in the hallway but she saw him sprawled out on his back, limbs tangled in the blankets, and mouth slightly open. She couldn’t hold back a smile from seeing him, warmth filling her chest at all the times she woke up first looking to find his adorable sleeping face.

Okay, maybe it was a bad idea to bring the guy she liked to her house.

It wasn’t exactly a new development, but it was admittedly getting worse the more time she spent around him; which these days it was a lot. Tifa often gave Aqua that raised eyebrow look whenever she casually mentioned things like that; which was better than Aerith who’d just as casually ask why Aqua was so insistent on not making a move on whatever adjective for attractive she decided to use for Terra that day. Some roommates they were. At least Cloud, their honorary roommate as thanks to Tifa since he was there enough to be one, never cared or bothered Aqua about it. Him she liked best on those days.

Aqua walked into the room, leaning over the bed slightly. “Terra?” she asked, hoping he was awake enough to hear her which was probably naive of her.

She reached out to push at his shoulder. “Terra, wake up, you’re gonna sleep the day away. Is that how you want to spend your spring break?”

Much to her surprise his eyes actually opened, blinking over to her. “Possibly,” he murmured, rolling over on his side.

“Oh, stop,” she snorted. Okay, maybe she was over thinking it; this seemed like their usual morning interactions. Though there was a part of her that wished they had the type of relationship where she could just get into bed with him and lay around all day, his warm presence and strong arms. She ignored the heat that rose to her face as she leaned back up. “We have plans.”

“Do we?” he yawned. “What are they?”

“I haven’t gotten that far.”

He snorted but started to push himself up to sit on the bed. Terra gestured for her to sit down too, probably to work out what they wanted to do.

She hesitated, feeling that strange sort of intimacy about the situation but she climbed up anyways, pushing his legs over as she did.

“What are the options?” he asked, stretching his arms over his head.

Aqua blinked back up to his face as she reached a hand behind her neck. “Well, there’s places to eat.”

“Always good,” he said, though there was a sort of amusement in his face like he knew she was desperately trying to think of something to do.

“There’s the mall and shopping centers a few towns over.”

Terra hummed, leaning his head back against the backboard. “Do I get to go see where teenage Aqua ate pretzels and tried on endless amounts of clothing cause she thought the cashier was cute?”

“No,” she snorted. “It was because I liked the clothes, not cause I liked the cashier.”

He laughed and even though she knew he wasn’t completely awake it still brought that familiar warmth to her stomach.

“There’s a few things a little farther away too. Some Museums, there’s a zoo and aquarium, there’s also…” Aqua hesitated even though she knew there was one more thing relatively nearby but it wasn’t the best.

He arched an eyebrow. “Also what?”

“Well…” she started, her hands fiddling with the edge of her shirt. “It’s not anything special. It’s probably not worth the trip.”

“I’d help you decide that if you’d tell me what it is.”

Probably a fair point, this was his vacation too. “It’s just an amusement park.”

“How is that not worth the trip?” he asked, more curious than anything judging by his tone.

Aqua reached up to tuck some hair behind her ear. “It’s not exactly one of the bigger ones, it’s a little small and probably not that impressive.”

“But…” he prompted.

“But I used to go there a lot with family, friends pretty much my whole life. It just has all those nice memories, and there’s some fun rides and food. I’m sure there’s way better parks out there though.”

Terra looked over to the window probably forgetting the blinds were still closed. “How’s the weather today?”

“Oh, sunny, warm I think but I haven’t been out yet.”

“Alright, sounds like a plan then.” He moved to untangle his legs from the blanket but Aqua was still kind of blocking him in as she stared.

“Wait, you actually want to go? I promise it’s not anything special.”

“That’s not true, you just said it was to you. Why wouldn’t I want to go?”

Aqua didn’t really have a good answer for that, she could only just watch him. Sure she always went with family or friends but it was all local people who were used to it. Terra lived closer to a bigger city if she remembered right; he probably went to much more extravagant amusement parks. A part of her was embarrassed at the thought of bringing him.

He didn’t say anything but he was watching her expectantly which made sense when she realized she was still blocking him.

“Oh!” she said, quickly jumping off. “Sorry.”

He swung his legs over the edge, feet hitting the carpet as she started to back towards the door.

“Just come and get me whenever you’re ready,” she said. “Bathroom and shower are open.”

“Alright, got it,” Terra said pushing himself to his feet and stretching his arms above his head.

Aqua turned out of the room hurrying back to hers even though it was hardly the first time she saw him in a tank top and pajama pants or watched his shirt rise showing the skin of his stomach. She left her door cracked open so he wouldn’t feel like he had to knock and flopped back down onto her bed. It wasn’t the first time, no, but usually Zack wasn’t far behind making some kind of comment with that goofy grin of his, or Tifa was around the corner in her room singing along with the radio. There was always someone else barging into their conversations or reminding them they weren’t alone, someone to turn to whenever Aqua felt too flustered.

This whole thing was different because they were completely alone and maybe that’s what was really making her nervous all morning. Sure they did stuff together at school without either roommates, but it was going to get food or study in the library. Even when they’d meet halfway over summer breaks, more often than not Terra had Ven who hated being left home alone or Tifa would make the drive with Aqua so she didn’t have to go alone. The rest was with distance and electronic screens between them.

Aqua didn’t know if she should be excited or throw up at the prospect of going somewhere with just Terra. They were friends, there was nothing to be nervous about and yet she was finding that a hard concept to believe at the current time.

She waited till she heard the shower running down the short hall before she reached for her phone; the notifications were there before she even got a chance to open anything.

Aerith:

                Good morning, sunshine! Well, I hope it’s a good morning for you, Aqua

Tifa:

                Seriously, this is seriously what I have wake up to

Aerith:

                I’m just being nice, Tif, I don’t know what your problem is

Tifa:

No, you’re being an instigator is what you’re being. I do hope you had a good morning, Aqua, but not necessarily the sort of good morning Aerith is trying to infer

Though I’d hope you’d tell me if that was the case

Aerith:

                Yeah, real smooth, Tifa

Tifa:

                At least I tried to be subtle

Heat rose to Aqua’s cheeks at her useless friends’ implications. Honestly, she wasn’t sure why she was surprised but did they have to be so open about it? Couldn’t they pretend they didn’t know Aqua had feelings for her friend; that would sure be nice.

Aqua:

                Oh my God, I’m killing the both of you when we get back

Aerith:

                That’s a no~

Aqua:

Yes, it’s a no. Completely no. We’ve had this conversation many times

Tifa:

                What are you guys doing today then?

Aqua contemplated dodging the question entirely just to avoid that they were kind of going somewhere together alone to a place lots of people brought dates to. That would go over real well she knew.

Aqua:

We’re going to that amusement park nearby, you know the one, Tif. I happened to mention it and Terra said he wanted to go

Aerith:

                …Like a date?

Aqua:

                No, like, we’re hanging out because he’s here and he has no choice

Aerith:

I wouldn’t say he has no choice, he clearly wanted spend the week with you or he wouldn’t have    come. I think you underestimate Terra, he’s not a dumb boy. I’m pretty sure he could pick up on his own feelings far better than a certain blonde who didn’t know his elementary school crush was in love with him

Tifa:

Please don’t tell me you’re one to talk, Miss I’ve never noticed that Zack Fair fawns over me every second we’re in the same room

Aerith:

                Oh, Tif, I’ve never said I never noticed ;3

Tifa:

                I love you, Aerith, but really don’t need to know

Aqua:

Okay, regardless, I have to go get ready. Please try and restrain yourselves enough in case Terra can see my phone.

Aerith:

                Got it! Wear something cute and make sure he wins you something~

Tifa:

                I’ll be with her today, I’ll make sure she behaves.

                But seconded. Wear shorts or a dress, I’ve definitely caught him staring at your legs before

As if Aqua didn’t think her face could get any hotter.

Aqua:

                Still not helping

Aerith:

                It’ll be fine, my friend! Just be the same as you always are, he already likes you as is.

Tifa:

It’s true. I wish you could see how happy he makes you, Aqua, because we can and we only want you to be happy <3

Aerith:

                Oh God, right? I don’t think he’s as subtle as he thinks he is.

Tifa:

Terra thinks he’s smooth but he’s probably one step from tripping over his feet if he tried to kiss her

Aerith:

                Awwww, he’s such a teddy bear though, it’s adorable. I’d trust him with our girl.

Aqua was about to type that she was still sitting here, trying very hard not to imagine anything they were saying right now for fear her heart would never come out of her throat at this rate but she heard the water cut off. It nearly made her drop her phone on her face realizing she hadn’t gotten dressed at all.

Tifa:

He’s a sweetheart. He never treats like it’s his expectation for her to like him back, he still treats her with respect and takes care of her just happy to be her friend. He’s always had my approval.

Aerith:

                Now I want to give that big oaf a hug ;-;

There was way too much going on Aqua didn’t even know where to begin to comment on what they were going on about nor did she have time to get into it with them; though she did think their kind words about Terra were a little heartwarming even if they had been a pain in her ass moments earlier.

Aqua:

Believe it or not I do love you guys but I have to go. If there’s anything to tell you later, rest assured, I will

Tifa:

                I’d hope so! Have fun <3

Aerith:

                Have a good time, girlie!

                Don’t forget to show them legs~

Aqua tossed her phone on her bed. Maybe she should mute their group chat for the day just to be safe. She hurried to her dresser, pulling out what clothes she wanted to wear for the trip; comfortable since they’d be walking a lot and also going on rides. She threw on a halter top that was both nice to wear and weather appropriate that would work just fine; though she tried not to feel heat on her cheeks when she hesitated for her shorts. Tifa and Aerith were just teasing like usual, that’s all that was. Aqua grabbed them and put them on.

She kicked a leg out slightly, looking down at the long line.

A knock on her door nearly made her fall backwards onto her bed. “You can come in.”

Terra poked his head in, hair still semi wet against his head and messy as always. “Ready?”

Aqua nodded, reaching back for her phone before grabbing her purse off her desk chair. He held his hand out for her to go first down the hall which led the way downstairs, Terra following behind. She would’ve said he dressed comfortably too if it wasn’t for the fact that he almost always wore a tight t-shirt and long shorts during the warm months. It did suite him though so it’s not like she was about to complain.

She grabbed the door, which he reached up and held while she dug out her keys. Once shoes were on and the door was locked, Aqua slipped in the familiar passenger seat of Terra’s car, as he offered to drive them here from school. He followed shortly, reaching to turn the car on so they could be on their way. While it was his car it always smelt like him, but it seemed even stronger with the smell of his shampoo and soap lingering on him still.

Aqua was only mildly embarrassed when Terra had to ask her twice for the first set of directions.

The car ride wasn’t that long and once she was away from the close quarters of her house she started to feel more at ease, their usual conversations settling in around them; ironically since a car was even closer of quarters. Her phone barely even buzzed in her lap being her roommates were doing as they said they would.

It actually went by faster than even Aqua remembered since before she knew it she was looking up at the roller coasters reaching up above the tree lines, the rides zooming along in the distance. Despite the fact she was still a little embarrassed for Terra to see her childhood hang out spot she still felt waves of nostalgia as he pulled into the parking lot, finding a spot with relative ease.

 Aqua stepped out, taking a breath of the warm air, the dirt of the parking lot under her feet. It had been a little while since she was here but it all was so familiar leading up to the old gates in the near distance that marked the entrance. She could hear the rides, the screams, almost smell the food. Hopefully, this was a good idea; Terra didn’t exactly have the same memories she did, this would be his only impression.

He let out a whistle as he closed the door, locking the car. “It’s been a while since I’ve been to an amusement park.”

“Is that why you wanted to come?” she asked, walking over to meet him so they could walk through the parking lot together. It was surprisingly kind of full; which was good, it would’ve been really embarrassing to take him here and not a single other person came.

“I guess, more so cause you got this cute look on your face when you talked about it that I had to know what about it made you so happy.” He nudged his shoulder into hers as she desperately tried to ignore the fact he sort of just called her cute. “Ven’s more of ride till you puke kinda person than I ever was.”

“The question is has it ever happened?”

He turned his head to her, slight smile on his lips but his eyebrows were both arched. “You’re asking me if I’ve ever gotten sick on a ride before?”

“Yep, absolutely.”

“You know, you’re sort of trying to ruin the whole rough and rugged look I’ve got.”

“Terra, I watched you cry during a Disney movie.”

“Fair point. The answer is yes, I have.”

The gates were almost in front of them now, the entrance just passed a tunnel that ran under some old railroad tracks. “Don’t you know not to eat before rides?” she laughed, letting him know she was only teasing.

“In my defense,” he said, placing his hand on his chest for emphasis. “That was the day I learned my little brother had way more endurance than I did. He was the one who dragged me on every ride he did and it didn’t go well after a while.”

From the times Aqua met Ven, she was pretty sure that wasn’t hard; he was all energy all the time. “Do you not like amusement parks then?” her voice echoed slightly in the cement tunnel as they walked.

“I would’ve never offered to go if I didn’t like them,” he leaned his head slightly towards her. “Just do me a favor and stay away from all the ones that go upside down and backwards. I think I’d be significantly more embarrassed now than when I was seventeen.”

She wanted to ask him why but they were already at the ticket booths. Clearly everyone was already in the park and not waiting to get in; they did get a little of a late start. She peered around Terra as he talked to the cashier, trying to see just how many people were here. There usually wasn’t a ton but it was nearly summer and it was the only park nearby.

Terra stepped out of the way, shoving his wallet back into his shorts. Aqua stepped up, fishing for her wallet in her purse but he was already waving a wristband in front of her face. She paused thinking he was just trying to get her attention but he already had a second one in his other hand.

“Terra,” she said. “You didn’t have to do that, I could’ve…” She trailed off when he reached it around her wrist, snapping it on.

“I know you could’ve, doesn’t mean I didn’t want to.”

It was simple, and really not the first time he paid for something of hers but this time she couldn’t get her stupid roommates words out of her mind. “Well, thank you. I’ll get lunch then,” she said, running her fingers over the wristband slightly as he snapped his on his arm.

“We’ll see.”

“What do you mean ‘we’ll see’?”

He clapped his hands together as he started to walk towards the main entrance, guarded by a bored looking security guard. “Where to first? You’re the expert.”

She didn’t forget his obvious dodge of the question but decided it wasn’t worth pressing him at the time. “Easy! We go to the rides that always have the longest lines.”

Terra looked around the park they had just walked into, where there really wasn’t all that many people lurking around; just a few parents with younger kids wandering around, some people getting food at the nearby restaurants. He looked back to her as if to say “what lines?” but was polite enough not to.

Aqua always liked that about him. She reached to grab his hand, pulling him in the direction of the main path of the park. “C’mon we’ll start with the best.”

“Alright,” he snorted, following her lead.

While she meant to simply take his hand to get him to move, he carefully laced his fingers with hers. It caught her so off guard she nearly stopped in the middle of the path which would’ve caused him to crash right into her. Instead she glanced behind him, though he was looking off to the side as he walked observing the parts of park he could see.

Aqua didn’t let go and neither did he so she supposed that was a good sign, well, not until she came to stop in front of the ride she was bringing him to. She still didn’t really want to let go, not when it was comfortable to have him so close to her but they were just standing there, still holding hands. She tugged on him a little bit, getting him to move to where a small line had formed.

“Huh, I guess it’s not as bad as I remembered,” she said.

It was only then he let go of her, only to place his hands on the railing dividing the line, peering up under the overhang to see the white wooden beams all around them. “Of course it’s a roller coaster,” he said a little dryly. “Is it...is it really wooden? Are these things even legal?”

“Yes, it’s legal,” she laughed, trying to remember what her fingers felt like before she felt his in between them.

The area they were waiting in shook as the carts ran over the track above them.

“You’re positive.

“Terra,” she said. “Yes, it’s safe and actually really popular. They’d tear it down otherwise.”

The line started to move, putting them right in range to get on the ride when the other people exited. Okay, maybe it really did seem like a longer wait when she was younger. Oh well, she hoped he didn’t mind too much that this clearly wasn’t as popular of a spot. When she looked over at him, waiting for the okay to get on, he didn’t really look all that convinced. He didn’t look upset, but his forehead was a little furrowed as he looked up at the ride.

“We, ah, we don’t have to ride this you know.” Guilt sunk in her stomach that she had teased him about getting sick on rides and was forcing him on a roller coaster right after. If this was a date she would’ve docked some serious points.

He looked down at her and whatever discomfort was gone, giving her his usual smile. “And miss the most popular ride here, I don’t think so.”

It was like him to put other’s feelings before his own but she also wasn’t given much of a choice when he got in the seat before her. She very well couldn’t drag him out so she sat down next to him, placing her back in the pouch inside the cart and doing up her seatbelt. She helped him pull the bar down, letting it click into place while they waited.

It was strange almost, she was always aware Terra was fairly tall, it was kind of impossible not to but sitting shoulder to shoulder in a crammed cart she never realized how small she felt next to him; especially since by shoulder to shoulder she meant shoulder to bicep. It was reassuring in a way. Even though he was the one who was holding the bar so tight she was pretty sure she could see his knuckles going white.

“You forgot to tell me you didn’t like roller coasters,” she said, reaching over to carefully place her hand on his arm.

“I didn’t forget,” he said with a slight laugh, letting go of his hold on the bar. “It’s been a long time, I figured why not try it again.”

“Don’t worry, if you throw up on me I’ll forgive you.”

That time he really laughed. “Wow, Aqua, that’s the most romantic thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

She knew he was obviously kidding but his phrasing made her pause, well, until the ride jerked forward. Terra reached his hands back for the bar though he leaned into her slightly. “And just to get the record straight it wasn’t on anyone, thank you.”

Okay, she wasn’t totally stupid. She very well knew she could flirt a little with him. He sometimes did too but it never went further than that. She always thought that’s kind of how their friendship went but maybe today he was trying to tell her he wanted it to go further, maybe she could tell him the same.

“Oh, well, in that case then.” She reached her other hand around his arm, loosely locking her hands around his as she watched the first hill incoming. Maybe not the best test of affections when he was probably completely focused on not dying on the intimidating drop. “Ignore the drop. It looks scarier than it is, promise.”

“I’ll believe you,” he snorted, glancing over to her. He seemed to be okay, a sort of smile on his face. Of course, it was really only then she had realized how close she leaned into him, feeling the warmth of his body more than the warm air around them. It wouldn’t be the first time she wanted to kiss him though she really needed to work on her timing as the next second her stomach was in her throat, the carts tipping over the edge sending them downwards.

The adrenaline from the speed the ride forced them in, the small hills that made her body feel lightless, the sharp corners that made her collide harder into him, it all made her laugh into the wind. It was hard to look at him but he seemed to be doing okay, arm a little tense still but she swore she heard him laugh too.

She could feel the way the wind had pulled out some of her hair when she arrived breathless back into the docking area. Aqua let out a sigh, her heart still pounding from the ride, as she looked over to Terra, propping her chin up on his shoulder.

There was a certain level of comfort the two had with personal space, this was a little more than usual but to her surprise he didn’t seem to mind. He just rolled his eyes, a smile on his lips.

“I can’t believe you like that so much,” he said.

“I can’t believe you don’t.”

“It wasn’t bad, I’ll admit.”

The bar popped as the cart came to a complete stop. Aqua did let him go that time if only to fiddle with her seatbelt. When she looked up Terra was already standing up next to the ride, reaching his hands down to her. She didn’t really need it but grabbed her bag before taking his hands in hers, letting him effortlessly pull her up to the exit ramp.

“It was better than going with Ven,” Terra said as she bumped her shoulder with his, walking back down to the main paths of the park.

“Yeah, why’s that?”

“You have no idea how loud he can scream.”

Aqua turned to face him. “Well, you did something for me so it’s your turn. What would you like to do next?”

Terra glanced down the few paths that were near them; probably trying to see which had the least intense rides. “What’s that way?” he asked, point towards the path to the left.

“Umm,” Aqua leaned forward to try and remember. “Games and such I think, the kids’ rides too. Sorry though, I think you’re a little too big for them.”

“Imagine that,” he snorted as he started to walk down the path.

She wondered if it was okay to hold his hand again even though she wasn’t technically leading him anywhere this time. “Were you always like that?”

“Like what?”

“Oh, you know…” Aqua watched a few kids dart by them probably headed for the rides her and Terra were headed away from. She regretted her question almost instantly considering “big” was probably not an appropriate response and he seemed to know it judging by the way too amused look on his face. “Tall.”

“Sorta,” he answered with a slight shrug. “Kinda average boy’s heights till maybe when I was twelve then I got the joy of growing a size a day and all big hands and awkward limbs. It was terrible.”

“Stop,” she chuckled. “I bet you were adorable.”

“I don’t think that was the case.” He rolled his eyes. “We all go through it I guess, I grew into it eventually.”

“You can say that again,” Aqua said without really thinking. It wasn’t until he didn’t respond that she realized she probably should’ve kept that one in her head too.

She was comfortable with him, as she knew he was comfortable with her too; so much so that she sometimes forgot Terra was actually a little more of a quiet personality. It had taken her a little bit to get him to hang out with her more than just casually meeting in the library just because he didn’t have a dominating personality like she knew she had.

He reached one hand up to scratch behind his head, eyes looking away though he didn’t look upset enough for her to feel like she had to apologize at her slight word vomit. It was the opposite; he was still smiling a little though a bit more bashful than before, like he didn’t know what to say.

Aqua opened her mouth to change the subject for him. She had meant what she said; honestly she didn’t know how he was unaware of how beautiful he was in more than just physical appearance. He cut in front of her though, walking backwards as he nodded to the path lined with games.

“Bet I can win you something,” he said with a smile more typical of him. His face was a little red but she had no idea if that was from her comment or the sun above him.

She hummed. “My hero. Let’s see what you’ve got then.”

Not that games were anything to write home about; they were probably no better than rigged carnival games at any traveling fair. Booths lined with any sort of cliché game, with rows and rows of cheap stuffed animals and even more cheap toys of sorts were on either side as they walked the path. Aqua only won even a handful of things despite coming here very often but she wasn’t going to tell Terra as he seemed eager to find something he could do.

It was actually adorable. She felt like she was back in high school, a boy trying hard to impress her; this time being she actually really liked the guy. She didn’t bother hiding her grin as she walked next to him, feeling those sorts of flutters in her stomach at the prospect of bringing home something he won for her…even if it would probably be a neon and way too stiff stuffed animal.

“Alright, got it,” Terra said, nodding over to a staple of every fair in existence.

A lot of things were rigged around here, but she was pretty sure the High Striker was the worst. She grabbed a hold of his arm with both her hands, trying to get him to stop before he walked over there. “No, Terra, seriously, don’t waste your money.”

He looked over at her, looking more amused than mad. “Don’t think I can do it?”

“It’s not that I don’t think you can, I don’t think anyone can.”

He didn’t say anything but he kept walking, Aqua trailing along with her hands still around his arm. Really, she just didn’t want him to be embarrassed for not winning when no one was supposed to win.

“Hello there,” the attendant said, an older man who at least didn’t look too bored out of his mind like some of the others. “Going to try to win something for your girlfriend? Brave man.”

Heat flared in Aqua’s face as she let go of Terra so he could pay whatever it was to play the game. It was more so the fact that he didn’t bother to correct that man more than anything that made Aqua feel like she was back on the roller coaster. Ignoring Zack was one thing, he did it to be a pain in the ass and this stranger didn’t know any better, but Terra didn’t say a thing as he took the hammer. To be fair, neither did she.

Aqua tried to ignore the feelings as she instead braced herself for soothing his potential embarrassment but to her absolute surprise when he did hit the target, the ball of light flew right up. It didn’t hit the top but it was close enough for a prize. She could only stare at him as he put the hammer back, turning to face her while the attendant let out a whistle and a congratulations.

“Told you,” he grinned.

“How’d you do that?”

“Pick whatever you want, Aqua,” he said instead, nodding his head back towards the prizes as he stepped back down next to her.

She blinked over to where the attendant was standing. There wasn’t too much of a choice; it was either a bright yellow and green turtle or a pink and blue dolphin. Well, she did like dolphins in the least even if the color choice was a little off. She pointed to it and the attendant passed her the fairly large stuffed animal.

It was pretty ugly and really stiff but it still made her giggle when she held it up to her chest. Aqua looked over to Terra who was standing next to her, still looking pretty pleased with himself. “Thank you, that was very sweet.”

“It was nothing,” he shrugged, though his smile was still there.

Aqua reached into her purse, digging out her out her phone. She did notice some conversations from Aerith and Tifa but Aqua quickly dismissed them without looking so she could bring up her camera. She held her phone up and Terra got the hint pretty easily, leaning down slightly so his chin was over her shoulder. Aqua held up their prize between them and got the picture.

He crossed his arms against his chest as they started to walk again, Aqua quickly typing out a caption and posting the victory picture. “You gonna tell me how you really beat that thing?”

Terra snorted, watching her slip her phone back into her purse. “You never hit it dead on like they want you to. Hit it an angle and most the time you can get a good hit.”

“Wow,” she said, hugging the dolphin to her chest a little. “How did you learn that?”

“My dad,” he said. “Told me it might help me impress a girl one day.”

Aqua laughed, thinking of scrawny younger Terra saving that memory for the right time. “Did it work?”

He glanced over at her, a smile tugging on his lips. “I don’t know, you tell me.”

Her breath caught up in her throat; she was suddenly aware of how close they were walking together, his eyes still on her. There couldn’t be a way she was misreading this time, this whole day, she was fairly certain of that now but she still wasn’t sure what to say.

He reached into his pocket to pull out his phone that was buzzing. She looked away, though not fast enough to avoid seeing Zack’s face next to the message pop ups, shouting something in all caps. The moment was gone and she wished she had a better reaction, but he was doing everything to catch her off guard today.

Terra cleared his throat, quickly dropping is phone back in his pocket. “Why don’t we try rides again then food?”

“Okay,” she nodded. “Sounds good.”

It turned out there weren’t that many rides that weren’t backwards and upside down. She already shoved him on one roller coaster so she didn’t want to do that again but they managed to find a few that he was okay with. Aqua wanted to try and let him know he didn’t have to be shy if he had feelings for her, that she felt the same but nothing came up that seemed right again. The lines weren’t very long so they could walk up and do anything she wanted, nor did she think ramming into his bumper car was the best timing either. She did know she couldn’t remember the last time she laughed quite as hard.

She wasn’t sure how much time they spent bouncing around through the remaining rides but she did know when they stopped in front of the food booths she was starving.

“What do you want?” he asked, holding the stuffed dolphin under his arm which he offered to do when she must’ve looked like she was tired of lugging it around herself.

“Everything,” she sighed, breathing in that amazing fried food smell.

“I don’t know how,” he laughed.

“You and your weird food tastes, Terra, I don’t know how you live.”

“Me?” he asked, arching an eyebrow at her. “I don’t know how you live on a diet of sugar and grease.”

“Wonderfully.”

Terra shook his head, but he was still laughing. He looked happy, she loved it.

“Here, they have a little bit of everything,” she said, grabbing his hand though this time she made sure she was the one to lace her fingers with his; he didn’t stop her.

“Alright what do you want?” There was no line, despite a good majority of the park hanging around for lunch so the attendant was already watching them expectantly.

“Umm,” she tapped her finger against her chin as she looked over the selection. There was a lot of good, heavy options but she supposed she should start light. “Cotton candy.”

“Are you kidding me?” he snorted, looking over to her. “For lunch?”

“I wouldn’t kid about cotton candy, Ter.”

“My God.” He let go of her hand but only to reach for his wallet before she could get to her purse again. “You and my brother would get along here spectacularly. And a pretzel, please.”

Aqua reached for the stick that was being passed to her, full of fluff that was just pure sugar while Terra took his own food, slipping his wallet back, still holding the dolphin for her. Honestly, she wasn’t sure why it took her this long to want to do anything about how she felt for him. He was like no one she had ever known before, in all the best ways.

She nudged her shoulder against him as they started to walk though this time at much slower pace as they really didn’t need to rush anywhere. “You didn’t let me pay again.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Aqua smiled as she picked a piece of cotton candy with her fingers, popping it in her mouth. She sighed as she felt the delightful way it melted in her mouth. It was her favorite treat here as a kid and it did bring back nostalgia but this time mixed with how much she liked the present too. “Why?”

“Why?” he asked before he took a bite from the salted pretzel; figures it was the least fried you could get here. “Because I wanted to.”

She put a little more of the candy in her mouth. She would’ve offered it to him but she already knew it was too sweet for him, so she nibbled on it herself. The sun was starting to get lower in the sky; not quite setting but not quite as high either. “I think this is the best time I’ve had here.”

“Really?” he said sounding a little surprised. “Out of all the times you’ve been here?”

Aqua nodded, looking up towards him. “I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun. If you didn’t notice there’s not too much here in the first place.”

“I dunno, I like it.”

“You don’t mean that,” she snorted.

“Yes, I do. It’s not the biggest, sure, but that never matters to me. It’s the company that does.”

Aqua paused at the lack of teasing in his tone. He was actually serious.

He looked down at her, stopping in the middle of the path. He looked like he was going to ask if something was wrong but Aqua stood up on her toes, quickly pressing her lips to his before she could chicken out.

His lips were soft, and she could almost taste the bitter salt in his mouth, smell the shampoo from this morning still lingering between the fresh air that blew through his hair on the rides; it made her feel dizzy.

Terra wasn’t surprised like she thought he might be, instead he kissed her back with a hum, like he had wanted to do it just as much as she had. “You know,” he murmured when she pulled away slightly, one hand already on his chest. “I really never thought I would like cotton candy.”

Aqua laughed, and she couldn’t stop. She didn’t even really know why, other than it wouldn’t stop bubbling up in her. She rolled her forehead against his chest, his warmth almost intoxicating in that moment. She felt much lighter than she had in a long time. There was no more guessing or wondering; save for how long it took Tifa and Aerith to get her a cake with the words “I told you so” iced on the top.

She felt his lips brush against the top of her head before she pulled back moving back to walk at his side. She took his hand that was under the dolphin, lacing her fingers with his.

He was still watching her when they started to walk again but this time with this boyish smile that almost made her think she could see a little of how he looked when he was a teenager. 

She took a bite from her cotton candy, looked to him. “You paid for everything cause you wanted it to be a date didn’t you?”

Terra laughed, shaking his head with a sigh. “Busted I guess. I can’t take full credit, it was sort of Zack’s idea. I went along with it because in the very least I could treat you.”

Aqua sighed too, mimicking the pleased tone he had, the grin, the warm feelings in her chest, his hand in hers, his arm brushing on her own even with the dolphin sticking out underneath it. Terra was her friend first, she was used to that relationship but the slow shifts she realized had been happening even before now were exhilarating. This…this she could absolutely get used to. “It’s been the best date, Terra.”