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Bathing Suits
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Squeenix and Disney.

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She wears pure white, for Naminé, but picks a suit that has Selphie giggling, all skimpy strings and shimmering fabric. Maybe she's being a little reckless, but she knows that nobody will be able to tell the difference, and attribute it to flirtation and girlish vanity - and it is, a little - but more than that, it's just herself, and a reminder that she won't break, not anymore. And the part of her that can admire her own appearance knows that they'll stare, and the thought is delicious and makes her smile a little stranger than usual, a little older, and a little more sly.

They preen in front of the mirror in the front hall of her house, pulling their hair back and sliding soft filmy sarongs around their waists, and Kairi shrieks in protest when Selphie snaps the back of her top.

"That's what you get for wearing a bikini!"

"Yours is worse!" she protests, but Selphie just laughs at her and dances away from her grip. Watching her dip and twirl in a swirl of bright color and a flash of pale skin, Kairi knows that pretty brunette is bound to be more distracting for the boys than she herself will be, but she has the advantage of being able to snuggle up to both Sora and Riku without having either of them protest, although Sora will trip over himself blushing and Riku will stiffen into a marble statue under her grip. But it will reassure them both, reassure her, and that will be enough for her so long as the sun hangs in the sky.

She can't wait to see them - knows half of the girls on the island can't wait to - but she knows better what she'll see, because her boys are beautiful, so very beautiful, but they've been battered by so much that she doesn't know if anyone else will really see that their imperfections make them even lovelier than they were before, because it means that they survived. They all survived.

She wonders if they'll notice the faint spiderwebbing of scars between her breasts, so slim and delicate that it had surprised her the first time she'd looked down and realized that even though she was home, she was the only one who remembered the feeling of sharp claws ripping out her heart. The others have nightmares, a tendency to jump at shadows, and a nebulous fear of evening storms, but they don't remember the end of the world. She forgot it once, for a while, like she forgot one of her boys, like the memory of Riku's smile fading into nothing at all.

Forgetting is the one thing Kairi is afraid of - not being left behind again, because she won't be. She's proven that well enough already.

"Kairi!" Selphie calls, already out the door and halfway through the yard, and she grabs a towel and tears her way out of the house.

Later, feeling pretty and silly and posing outrageously on the beach for Tidus and Wakka, she knows that they don't see, but then Sora comes tearing through the sand and flings his arms around her, and she knows he knows, can feel it beneath her fingertips as she places her hand on his chest, tracing the jagged scar that's the only reminder that he tore his heart out to free her own.

And she was right, too, that Selphie stutters a bit when she first sees him up close, that Tidus takes a step back and blinks and Wakka murmurs "...what?" and Sora just smiles and ducks away, calling for Riku.

And that makes them falter, too, because Riku's so different now, half-hidden and so quiet even when he's happy, all silver waterfall hair and so much solid boy, acres of pale skin marred by a thick scar of his own, sharp and clean, tucked into the curve of his side like it's something to be ashamed of, like it's something to hide. Riku thinks of it as a sign of weakness, Sora thinks of it as a sign of his inability to protect one of his precious people, and Kairi shakes her head and knows that they're both wrong.

Her own breath catches a little when he and Sora tackle each other into the surf and Riku comes up glaring, hair plastered back from his forehead and looking too much like Xehanort right up until he smiles.

Later, tucked into the comfort of the Secret Place, a small fire will flicker before them as they reach out and trace each scar with fingertips and lips and whispered apologies, later she will blush pink and shy but feel beautiful as careful, nervous hands fumble with the strings at her back, later will be kisses and cuddles and skin bared to shy eyes and trembling caresses, but for now she wades out into the water and dunks them both, and when one head pops up as too-blond and laughing, she ducks behind herself and doesn't warn Naminé when Riku and Roxas lunge for her legs and drag her down, sputtering, into the waves.

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