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“You’re not alone.”

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Is it possible to return to normalcy after everything they have been through?

Aqua seems to think so as she encourages them all to wake up early and train together, as though Master Eraqus were with them. And whilst it’s probably just her coping mechanism, seeing his friend getting on with her life and moving on… it makes Terra’s head hurt.

Is she strong? Is he weak?

It doesn’t help that Ven is back to his cheerful, caring self, and Chirithy seems to always be optimistic.

Is Terra the only one here who can’t go back to normal?

Will things ever be able to go back to normal?

He wants to forget so badly, but his brain won’t let him. His brain bombards him with nightmares of being groomed and possessed by a man who he trusted, and Terra awakes to his skin itching and panic lodged in his throat. When training, his Keyblade wielding skills are poor after losing control of his body for so long, and even Ven, his far shorter, far sligher, boyfriend can beat Terra with little effort. And when Terra slumps to the ground, Aqua tells him he needs to try harder, and he wants to yell and scream, but he just smiles and nods.

He is trying so very hard. Trying hard to cope with the trauma of the past decade. Trying to get back his skills. Trying to make up for lost time. But none of it is working. And none of it matters.

---

“Terra, have you been sleeping enough?” Chirithy asks, studying his sleep deprived face as the three humans eat breakfast one morning.

Having to force himself to eat, Terra focuses his tired eyes on Chirithy. He wants to tell it that, for the entire month they have been back at the Land of Departure, he hasn’t slept more than four hours a night. But he can’t work up the energy to say all that, so just shrugs a shoulder and says, “Not really.”

Chirithy twitches its ears. “Sleep is very important.”

“I know.”

Trust me, I know, he thinks.

“Is there a reason you’re not sleeping well?” it asks.

Terra sighs, bowing his head. Even Ven doesn’t know, but keeping this a secret will only make him feel even worse. So he takes a deep breath, trying to calm his pounding heart, and mumbles, “I… have nightmares.”

Aqua and Ven stare at him. Chirithy’s ears droop.

“Oh, Terra, why didn’t you tell us?” Ven asks, dragging his chair closer and putting a hand on Terra’s forearm.

Terra keeps his head bowed, staring down at his plate. His mouth tastes like dirt, the food in his stomach heavy as rocks. His skin tingles, and he sighs. “I… didn’t want to worry you.”

“Well, that plan didn’t work, did it?” Aqua says, but she gives him a sympathetic smile.

Terra chuckles weakly, not sure how to feel about the sympathy. Are they pitying him? Do they really, deeply care about him?

Why is he so unsure about every damn thing?

“Do either of you have nightmares?” Chirithy asks Ven and Aqua. Has it turned into a therapist or something? Although, they all probably do need one of those.

“Um, not really,” Ven says. “I was asleep the whole time, so… nothing bad really happened guess I’m the luckiest one of us all, huh?” He chuckles weakly, the sound forced and hollow.

“Ven, I would hardly call a decade-long coma lucky,” Aqua says, using her Keyblade Master tone of voice.

“I know. But compared to you and Terra… I got off the lightest, you know?”

Terra says nothing. But Ven is right, and he’s glad of that. ven should never had to go through what he did, but at least it wasn’t anything like the horrors he and Aqua experienced.

Aqua’s eyebrows pinch together, puzzled, but she nods her head. “I understand. Uh, about me… I don’t get nightmares.”

Terra flinches, memories of Xehanort and pain and crushing terror flashing through his mind. The hairs on his arms stand on end, and Ven glances at Terra’s face, confused. Still, Terra says nothing.

Aqua, the woman who spent ten years wandering through the Realm of Darkness, doesn’t have nightmares about her horrible experience. How is that possible?

“But you were in the Realm of Darkness for so long Aqua!” Ven cries, voice hitching just at the thought of it.

“I know, but…” Aqua shrugs her shoulders. “I guess I’m strong enough to put it all behind me.”

There it is.

Terra’s stomach clenches, his heart racing faster than ever.

The catalyst.

“If you work harder, I’m sure you can get rid of your nightmares, Terra,” Aqua says. She smiles. She has no idea how her words just cut through him.

If you just try harder…

Terra gets to his feet, swaying slightly. He hears Ven say something, but doesn’t take it in.

“Sorry, I just… need the bathroom.”

If Aqua is strong enough to move on, what does that make him? Why does the past haunt just him?

With as much faux-calmness as he can muster, Terra takes a slow walk out of the room. The moment he is out of earshot, he breaks into a run. But his gait is clumsy, legs shaking and feet always seconds away from tripping.

Aqua is strong. Her past hasn’t defined her.

He is weak. The past has shaped him. Damaged him.

Aqua is strong. Ven is strong.

Everyone is stronger than him.

But haven’t things always been this way?

Terra craved power because he was weak. And he is still weak.

Except now he is even weaker and his past has its claws in him and he feels disgusting and life like this is horrible and wrong and he hates it.

Terra makes it to his bedroom, shutting the door behind him. he sits on the bed and slumps forwards, resting his head in his hands. He doesn’t realise he started crying until the tears drip onto his palms.

Why is he crying?

He is no Keyblade wielder. How can he protect anyone like this?

Master Eraqus told him to protect Ven and Aqua, but he can’t do it.

He needed to be rescued. He is the one who needs to be protected.

He’s weak, damaged… worthless.

Terra summons his Keyblade and just stares at it, lost in the beauty of the ancient weapon.

And then a thought creeps into his mind.

Suicide.

He thought about it once, after a nightmare left him shaking and sobbing on the bedroom floor, scratching at his itchy skin and longing for him to get out of his head.

Suicide.

He has no reason to live. He can’t protect anyone. He is weak. He is worthless.

Everyone would be better off without him.

For this past month, fear and self-hatred and sadness have bubbled up inside of him, and Aqua’s words were like the spark that made them all start to burn. A fire of emotions burn in his brain.

Terra shivers, wiping at his eyes.

It would be quick. Relatively painless. And then he would no longer be a burden and Aqua could have a teammate who is actually useful and Ven could get a boyfriend who isn’t damaged and lost in memories of his past.

Slowly, Terra gets to his feet. He vibrates with shivers, muscles aching and sweat coating his skin.

Things will be easier this way.

He holds his Keyblade with both hands, twisting so it points straight at his stomach. His hands tremble, but Terra forces himself to stand still. He takes a deep, shaky breath…

And thrusts his Keyblade deep into his abdomen.

---

Terra said he was going to the bathroom ten minutes ago, but shouldn’t he be back by now? Ven fidgets in his seat, not sure what to do. Should he go after him? But he doesn’t want Terra to think he is being clingy. Yes, he’s been worried about Terra this whole time, but… should he go and check up on him?

“Ven, what’s wrong?” Aqua says, snapping him out of his thoughts.

“Oh, nothing. It’s just… Terra’s been gone for a while. Should we go check up on him?”

Aqua tilts her head. “You know what… that’s a good idea.”

“Yes, let’s!” Chirithy says, bouncing to its feet.

Trying to ignore the irrational worry that gnaws away at his stomach, Ven gets up and hurries out of the room. He rushes through the hallways until he reaches the bathroom, but finds it empty.

Maybe Terra went to use the bathroom in his bedroom? Hoping he is right this time, Ven runs up the stairs, ignoring the confused shouts from Aqua. He hears her running behind him, but she doesn’t catch up and he doesn’t look back.

Now he’s actually looking for Terra, all his worries swell until his head aches. All the concern avout Terra’s poor skills and lack of sleep and wondering why Terra didn’t want to cuddle as much – all the thoughts he previously pushed to the back of his mind, certain he was being paranoid.

But now…

Ven runs faster, and finally reaches Terra’s bedroom. Without stopping to catch his breath, Ven knocks twice, waiting for Terra to yell “I’m in the bathroom. Come back later.” Or something like that.

But Terra doesn’t respond.

He presses his ear to the door, listening out for signs of activity. And as he straisn his ears… he hears it.

The shuddering breaths of someone in pure agony.

“Terra!” he cries, and he opens the door.

Ven stares. Just… stares.

It’s like something out of a horror movie.

Terra lies crumpled on his side, surrounded by a puddle of fresh blood. And… and his Keyblade sticks all the way through his abdomen, the handle pressed flat to his bloody shirt at the front and several inches of the blade sticking out of his back.

Ven retches, trying to hold back nausea.

Terra shudders for breath, the sound weak but definintely there. Barely conscious, Terra’s eyes are half open, pain written across his pale face.

“Terra…” Ven whispers.

And then he snaps the hell out of it.

“Terra!” he screams, summoning his Keyblade.

And as Terra lies there, on the brink of consciousness and trembling in pain, Ven holds his Keyblade above Terra and casts Curaga on him.

“Heal!” Ven yells, magic swirling around him as his eyes burn and a lump lodges in his throat.

But it’s not enough. The blade is still inside Terra, and his spell isn’t strong enough.

But how does he get it out. How does he cast Curaza?

Tears leak from his eyes, and Ven falls to his knees. He crawls over to Terra, hands getting soaked with blood, but he doesn’t care.

“Terra? Are you…? Terra!” he shrieks, unable to think of anything to say.

“Ven!?” Aqua yells, and she appears in the doorway. She stumbles into the doorway, and lets out a horrified scream, pressing her hand to her mouth. “T-Terra?” she gasps.

Terra groans, Ven’s spell having had some effect. The wound has healed slightly, and Terra seems to not be as pale. His eyelids flicker and stares at them. Humiliation and fear shine in his eyes, and he screws them up.

“P-Please leave…” he gasps, barely able to form words.

“What? No! Why would we leave?!” Ven cries, sniffing.

“Ven… he wants to die,” Aqua says. Having composed herself, she walks over, managing to hide her terror.

“What?!”

“This is… a suicide attempt,” she says, voice trembling.

“S-Suicide?” Ven splutters, pain exploding through his body. “A-Aqua, help me! We need to save him!”

Without saying anything, Aqua summons her Keyblade. “We… we need to work together.”

Under the guidance of a very terrified Chirithy, Ven and Aqua prop Terra up and work on pulling the Keyblade out of him. Terra screams in pain, finally passing out, and Ven sobs and Aqua cries silently as they slide the blood-soaked weapon out of Terra’s body.

And the moment it is out, Aqua casts Curaza with a shaky voice. “Heal!”

The wound starts to close, properly this time. Ven tries not to watch, instead focusing on how the colour returns to Terra’s face, and watching the rise and fall of his chest. For extra help, Aqua gives Terra an Elixir, but the wound still takes a very long time to heal.

When it has finally closed, Terra is left lying there in his own blood, unconscious. And Ven just sobs, unable to cope with what just happened.

---

When Terra awakes, everything aches. Especially his stomach, where a dull ache throbs and throbs. He opens his eyes, blinking, and recognises his bedroom.

And then he spots Ven sat beside him, and the tears that run down Ven’s blotchy face.

And… it all comes back.

The despair.

The self-hatred.

The suicide attempt.

But… how did he survive? He stabbed himself. He—

“Terra?” Ven whispers, voice hoarse. “Are you awake?”

“Y-Yeah,” Terra mumbles, exhaustion making it hard to speak.

Ven sniffs. “I, I know what you tried to do. I found you just in time and we healed you. I was so scared and I’m still worried about you, but… I’m not mad. Please don’t ever think I’m mad.”

“Huh?” Terra says. He really had expected a rant about how suicide is wrong and everything like that. Well, perhaps that would have been what happened if Aqua was the one beside him.

“Terra… why didn’t you tell me you’re hurting so much?”

“I thought… I could cope. Didn’t want to worry you. I… dunno,” he mumbles, a lump starting to form in his throat. “Ven… sorry.”

Tears leak down Ven’s cheeks as he takes Terra’s hand, squeezing tightly. “I just… want to help. Can you tell me… why you did it?”

“I… when Aqua said she is strong enough to move past it… I…” His throat aches when he swallows, his eyes starting to sting. “It all overwhelmed me. I realised how useless I am, so—”

“Terra, you’re not useless!” Ven cries, tears cascading down his face. “You’re traumatised. It’s normal to feel this way. It’s okay.”

“But why’m I the only one?”

“Because only some people get traumatised,” Ven says. “I don’t know why, but that’s how it is. Besides, I think being possessed is the worst thing of all. Terra, you’re so strong. You’re the strongest of us all.”

Tears well up in his eyes. When he blinks, they leak from the corners of his eyes and dribble across his temples.

“Terra…” Ven whispers, reaching out and brushing away the tears with his thumb. “Please… you’re not alone. Let me help you. Let us all help you.”

He lets out a sob, and Terra squeezes his hand. Terra sobs too, screwing his eyes up.

“O-Okay,” Terra says, voice trembling. “I’ll t-try.”

It’s going to be hard. Almost impossible. He’ll probably break again and again and again.

But… he can do this.

With Ven by his side, he can do this.

He isn’t worthless.

With Ven’s help, he might, one day, be able to get better. And he knows Ven will be there every painful, difficult step of the way.