* * *
Girl Talk
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts is not mine.

* * *

Kairi is usually very careful not to ask about NaminÚ's time with Riku--those memories are hers alone--but the first time she manages to get his pants off she lets out a soft squeak of what she's pretty sure is combined delight and terror and takes a moment to fall back inside herself and dart forward with mental yelp of NaminÚ, quick, how does it fit?

A peal of ringing laughter answers her, and five minutes later a very pink-cheeked Riku is sitting on her bed with a pillow jammed on his lap, staring resolutely down at the bedsheets and grumbling "It's totally proportional, it's not weird," like he's deeply affronted by the fact that his assets are, um, noteworthy.

Kairi's still laughing.

So is NaminÚ.

It takes them a while to stop, but at least Riku doesn't put his pants back on, and he's pretty cute when he's sulking. It has something to do with his hair, and his eyelashes, and the shape of his mouth, and the fact that he's only wearing underwear and what really is kind of a frilly pillow and is still sitting her bed.

It probably makes her something of a pervert that she's so willing to forgive him for a lot of things, including pouting, so long as he's got no clothes on, but. You know. He's kind of distracting in a really really obvious way that makes Sora turn pink and kind of flaily and gives her long fits of giggles like this one.

Honestly, if he were a normal kind of boy he'd be flattered, but she and NaminÚ are both pretty sure he doesn't actually know how cute he is, since he doesn't actually seem to notice when other people are staring at him.

(Sometimes Riku can rival even Sora in cluelessness, but then, he's always been the competitive sort, even if that part of him's been crushed by guilt heavy enough that it's a wonder he can still breathe and laugh and flirt with that smile that makes her tingle all the way down to her toes.)

She opens her mouth to say something reassuring, but what comes out instead is "Can I touch it?" and okay, now they're both bright red and she is officially a pervert.

Riku bites his lip, sends her a long glance from underneath his lashes, fidgets a little bit more, then says "I guess that's kind of the idea...?" in a tone of voice that is underlaid with laughter.

"Really?!" she blurts, and then slaps a hand over her mouth and leans back and clears her throat and says, "Oh, um, I mean... cool."

"Uh, yeah," Riku agrees, "Cool," and then he pulls a face like he's just realized how ridiculous it sounds and then she's laughing at him and he's laughing back and this is so not what any of the gossip said it would be like, not at all, but it feels right in a way she knows she's never going to be able to explain to anyone else but Sora.

* * *

Kairi knows she's pretty good at math, and as the daughter of the mayor (who's a scholar besides) she's very good at history, geography, and research, but she can't carry a tune to save her life, or anoyone else's.

(She may or may not have laughed way too loudly to really be cute when Sora told her about Atlantica, but she figures it doesn't matter since she's not actually sure he was able to hear her over Riku's cackling.)

The first time she started singing in the shower after their reunion, she was interrupted by a soft, pained, Could you stop please? because, as it turns out, she sounds off-key even to herself.

* * *

Kairi likes strawberry soda, the kind traded in from the mainland, but NaminÚ prefers the new cola the company's started making, because it doesn't taste like someone else's memories.

Soda's too expensive to buy on a regular basis, with her allowance in the shape it is (which is to say pitiful), so when Riku starts bringing a couple of bottles with him when he slips through her window, she has to stash them under her bed so her dad doesn't notice.

Soda's not meant to be drunk warm, not really, but the gentle fizz and the sharp tingle on her tongue taste right, for some reason, like lazy afternoons in the sunshine and the flash of a keyblade in the light.

* * *

NaminÚ tends to stay quiet and usually keeps to herself, but one idle Tuesday she does agree to Kairi's open invitation to share a day, and her usual routine seems strange with that gentle presence hovering around her shoulder, especially when she settles down for breakfast with her father and realizes that NaminÚ's never shared a meal before with anyone but Riku.

This also means she has never been introduced to what are politely known as Tidus and Wakka's so-called table manners. It's not like they can't eat properly when they choose too, it's just that they never choose to when they have the opportunity to do otherwise, and their teachers pretty much gave up on fixing that back in grade school, so.

NaminÚ kind of winds up gaping over lunch, but Kairi can't really apologize for them, even though she feels like she should, because, well, they're them, and it's not actually a surprise when Sora joins in on the thing with the spoons and the noses, especially now that Selphie's doing it too.

Riku stares at the three of them for a long calculating moment before getting up and announcing "I'm moving where it's sane," and he actually manages to take one step closer to where Kairi's sitting before he gets interrupted by a laugh that isn't at all muffled by the spoon and nose thing.

Sora smirks behind the spoon and makes the near-lethal declaration of "Wussy."

Riku raises a sardonic eyebrow, folds his arms imperiously, and retorts "Bet you can't make one hang from your hair," and it's all pretty much downhill from there, but against her ear, NaminÚ is laughing.

* * *

Sora hasn't realized it yet, but she and NaminÚ have come to the consensus that the real reason Riku's such a flirt is that he's congenitally incapable of going more than four hours without making fun of someone. They've even got evidence to back it up, a dusted-off memory from just before the world ended, when Tidus bet his entire lunch that Riku couldn't resist making fun of Sora for the rest of the school day.

Riku won that bet by dint of not saying anything at all for the rest of the day, no matter how much they harassed him.

Tidus sulked for an entire week. It was a little impressive.

* * *

She's careful with the sketchpads, and the pencils and the charcoal and the oils. When she's not using them as a medium to channel her powers, NaminÚ's art becomes much more refined, and there are things in those sketchpads that could be dangerous for others to see.

Especially that picture of her very obviously naked boyfriend dozing in what was clearly her own bed, but she does have to agree with NaminÚ that it's very, very pretty.

When she mentions it to Sora he turns three different shades of pink, which is kind of hilarious considering he's seen the real thing in person, but then again, Sora is pretty easily scandalized by things that really aren't that scandalous after all, and not at all bothered by the things that are.

They keep them wedged very carefully under the bed, buried in her underwear drawer, and once under a pile of dirty clothes when her father came calling, but looking at the edges of them, Kairi thinks that she needs to invest in some sort of protective casing or something.

She won't have NaminÚ's precious things lost, not ever.

* * *

She likes purple and pink and white, but NaminÚ prefers blue, so she lets her tie the necktie and pick out accessories for school days; and on the weekend Kairi wears her hair down, her dresses short, and armor gleaming at her fingers and ears and hips.

"Should we put it up?" she wonders once, staring into the mirror and pursing her lips, and she can feel NaminÚ raise a nonexistent eyebrow.

How much do you think that would distract Sora? she asks delicately, and Kairi snorts loudly, the way she'd try to cover up in public and exaggerate in front of the boys.

"Okay, so we do that when it's seduction time. ...could we get Riku to put his up?"

...I'm not sure his even knows how to do that, NaminÚ says thoughtfully, after a moment's long reflection; it's awfully heavy.

Six hours of practice later, Riku eventually starts to swat at her when she reaches out to tug on his hair, but by then she's got Sora doing it too, so between the two of them they manage to wrestle him down and then everything dissolves into shoving and laughing and maybe a tiny bit of groping and an awful lot of salty kisses.

* * *

Kairi knows she should probably be upset about the Solada thing, but she's not. There's no reason to get mad at her, or her family, and even though she should probably be angry with Chihoko, mostly she just feels a vague sort of pity for her.

It makes sense, NaminÚ murmurs. She's just trying to protect what she has, it's not like she could know that no one else would ever stand a chance.

"She could have paid attention," she murmurs back, but then, it's not like she hasn't seen the self-imposed blinders that her father's been wearing since this whole thing began.

They're paying attention now, NaminÚ replies, and the words shouldn't sound so heavy, not from her, not about this, but no grownup has ever given NaminÚ a reason to trust them, and maybe no grownup ever will.

* * *

Kairi wants to meet Queen Minnie so badly it almost aches, sometimes, and when she thinks about the other princesses, she misses them in a way that does.

She misses Aerith and Yuffie, too, and all that they taught her, how to recognize swift-cast magic and how to take a hard fall without getting too injured, hands and feet and learning to jump and run and spring back onto her toes, learning to catch up, learning the flow of her own power underneath her skin.

NaminÚ doesn't miss anyone at all, and Kairi is sad for her because she's not sad for herself, because you can't miss someone who wasn't there in the first place.

* * *

The only reason the boys complain that she's bossy is because they are really kind of too dumb to do anything right if left to their own devices.

And she has to tell them this at length because Sora has no attention span and will forget otherwise and Riku--

Riku has been ignoring her scolding for long enough that he's actually asleep.

"Right," Kairi says to Sora, sharp enough that he snaps to attention. "Revenge time," she orders crisply, and he scrambles to his feet and salutes before she can remind him that he's not actually part of the emperor's army at all, really.

In fact she's pretty sure they kicked them out.

* * *

Kairi loves her keyblade, it's as right as breathing and laughing and feeling the blood sing through her veins.

And it's fun to hit the boys with something that's covered in flowers.

And it is hilarious to think about Riku lugging it around all that time, even if he never used it, because. It's Riku. And a keyblade that's made of flowers.

She's inclined to agree with Sora that killing things with flowers is awesome, but if keyblades had feelings, she's willing to bet that Way to the Dawn would have been mortally offended by her keyblade's presence in the hands of its wielder. She's only held Way to the Dawn a couple of times, but it seems like it would be exactly that kind of moody.

(And holding Way to the Dawn feels just like holding onto one of the razor edges of Riku's heart.)

* * *

Kairi's ruined a lot of clothes since she started training, and her nails will never look nice again, but she remembers the knife-flash of Yuffie's smile and the whipcrack of Aerith's magic and thinks she probably needs to invest in some sturdier footwear for the day when the worlds call them out again.

And maybe some pants, or shorts, or something to go under the dress, at least. She doesn't mind flashing the boys her panties because Sora goes a hilarious shade of red and Riku's seen them all already, but when she goes off-world and actually starts getting into real fights, well, that might be a little bit much.

* * *

A quiet nightmare, endlessly blank: sometimes the sound of her own heartbeat is terrifying, and all of her dreams end in white.

"Do you dream?" she asks NaminÚ, and there's a long, thoughtful silence that seems to echo inside of her head.

...I'm not sure, NaminÚ says, I don't know... if I even sleep anymore.

Kairi thinks about that for a while. "...do you want to?"

The silence stretches on for even longer this time, but eventually, NaminÚ murmurs, I don't know, and she sounds so small and lost that Kairi closes her eyes, steps backwards, and curls her arms around her, closing her eyes against the blinding glare of her own heart.

Zexion tried to drown Riku in something like this, once. She could probably do the same, if she tried, but she'll never do it, not unless it's absolutely necessary, not unless there's no other choice at all.

She's fiercely glad he's dead.

* * *

Tidus and Wakka really are going to drown themselves one of these days, if they don't scare all of the wildlife off of the islands first.

Yes, she does mean all of the islands, even the ones that are really far away. They're that dedicated.

* * *

In an abstract kind of way, she feels sorry for Masao, but in another way, he makes her feel wary and sort of tense, but that's because she knows first-hand what jealousy can do.

And she's not going to tell Riku about him, either, or anyone else if she can help it.

Ignoring it won't make it go away, NaminÚ says, and she's right, of course, but what else can be done right now?

"It's sad that he's sad," she says after a while, "But--"

But he's normal, and he'll get over it in time, NaminÚ finishes, and Kairi hugs her knees to her chest and wonders how anyone could ever just get over it.

I don't know either, NaminÚ murmurs. Sometimes I wonder if--

"If we're all just too different from them," Kairi says, and the words taste strange on her tongue.

* * *

Out of all of them she has the best impulse control, but that really means very little when you consider who makes up that "everyone."

At least she's still passing all of her classes.

Even though they're boring.

* * *

In her memories her grandmother is stooped and gentle and kills monsters calmly and wisely, and Kairi is sure that she is dead.

She doesn't remember her birth parents at all, not even a little, but then again, it's entirely possible that Xehanort killed them too.

She doesn't say anything, and neither does he, but she's pretty sure that Riku thinks the same thing too, and if Sora doesn't know, well...

He'll find out eventually, but that time isn't now.

That missing year seems like ages, sometimes, and even if he's catching up now, Sora's not quite the same as them, not yet.

That day really can't come soon enough.

* * *

Kairi's patience for school is wearing dangerously thin, and even if there are only a few weeks left until summer vacation, it's still too long. The tension in the classroom is grating, their parents are grating, and the schoolwork itself is grating.

She wonders if this is what Riku feels like all the time.

And for the first time she wonders if freedom tastes like darkness, or if it's the other way around.

* * *

She's tried to protect them with both words and silence, but it turns out that they don't like that any more than she does.

In retrospect, this should have been obvious--Sora's so artless that it's honestly kind of mind-boggling, and Riku's so honest that it burns.

* * *

If Kairi leans her chair back and stretches, Sora will stare at her legs but Riku will stare at her chest; if Riku leans back she'll stare at his arms and Sora will stare at his throat; and if Sora leans back, he usually overbalances and tips the chair over.

She and Riku both stare at that pretty intensely, but it's usually so they can pick out the appropriate adjectives to properly describe his flailing, since he's pretty cute like that, and he always flails harder when they're making fun of him.

* * *

Kairi remembers learning to read at her father's side, tucked beneath his arm while he narrated land wars and pirate tales and the old days of early trade and adventure across the islands.

She'd never expected to live them.

* * *

It turns out that boys (by which she means Riku) are weirdly fascinated by even her grungiest pair of panties and her oldest bra, which doesn't quite fit right anymore, which... probably explains some of that fascination, actually.

(Hopefully, when the time comes, Sora will be too.)

* * *

She's a little bit self-conscious about the size of her chest, not because she's insecure or anything, and not because Sora's always careful to avoid pressing there, but more because Riku is always careful to press there, and not just with his hands.

Boys really shouldn't have lips that soft, she thinks, and then she has to stop thinking because she doesn't remember how words work, or thinking, because the world has narrowed down to soft wet heat and a flash of a sweet, sharp smile.

* * *

Her saddest memories are of Traverse Town, spiced soup and a damp cavern and a soft, aching loneliness, the precursor to a year that unwound her.

Her clearest memories are of sterile air and shy, uncertain boys clasped in her arms.

It's a bit strange to think that white hot joy is a thing born of war, and fidgety anxiety born of its lack.

* * *

She knows it's really just armor, but every time she looks at the ring on her finger, she giggles, which makes Riku laugh, which makes Sora turn bright red and turn away in a huff and start complaining about them both to no one in particular.

* * *

"If there's not supposed to be any darkness in my heart," she asks NaminÚ once, "then why do I hate Xehanort so much?"

I hate him too, NaminÚ says, and I shouldn't be able to do that either.

Kairi thinks about that, thinks about what Ansem said, thinks about what Xemnas said, and thinks about what DiZ said.

Her fingers curl into a fist. "...I'm beginning to understand why you and Riku don't trust any grownups but the king," she says, and NaminÚ hums in quiet affirmation.

It's because they lie, NaminÚ agrees, and Kairi nods, carefully not looking down to the first floor, where her father is up late reading again.


* * *

She doesn't really understand NaminÚ's relationship with Roxas, but doesn't want to ask questions, either, since that's private, even more private than the thing with Riku, because Riku, like Sora, is a precious thing shared between them.

But she does wonder.

* * *

Kairi sometimes wishes she could make her hair do interesting things like Selphie's, but then again Sora's hair is interesting enough for all three of them.

Occasionally she wonders what their kids are going to look like, and sometimes what she imagines kind of makes her shudder.

* * *

It's not like she doesn't appreciate that Sora's trying to teach her to cast magic properly, even though he's very terrible at it, it's just that ethers taste weird, and her dad is starting to wonder how they're going through toothpaste so fast.

* * *

Sometimes it feels like she's bleeding rust, or like her brain is leaking, but no one said remembering would be easy.

Aqua, she thinks, where did you go?

* * *

It's awkward being trained by boys simply because their centers of gravity are so different, and neither of them have any ideas about how to compensate.

She kind of suspects that Riku's center of gravity is located somewhere over her head.

* * *

She stares at the shelves and refuses to be intimidated, but that doesn't take the edge off of her frustration.

"Do you remember what Selphie said?" she asks under her breath, because she was sure it was something important, something that would effect the whole experience, but she just can't quite....

Not really, NaminÚ says. It wasn't an issue before.

"Dang," Kairi grumbles. "...think we should just buy them all?"

Probably, NaminÚ murmurs, that way there will still be lots left before you have to buy more.

Going this far out of the way--on the mainland, as far from her uncle's house as she could make it without getting lost--is a pain, but she and Riku have been waiting for what seems like forever, and Sora's still a bit slow, and it's just frustrating having to wait for so long when she knows exactly what she wants.

She pauses halfway through filling the basket. "Is there something I should get for us?" she wonders, but NaminÚ only shrugs.

I'm not sure, she murmurs after a moment, without a heart, I couldn't... so there wasn't any risk.

"That was probably for the best," Kairi answers softly, because right now, standing here in the aisle of the store, condoms and lube safely tucked away in the basket, she's never felt less ready to be a mother.

* * *

When she tries to force the memories all she gets is a headache.

You know better than that, NaminÚ chides gently.

"I know," Kairi murmurs back, eyes closed tight and fingers clutching her temples, "But it's not fair not to know, not when she might need me."

...no, NaminÚ whispers, no it's not, and if there's a feeling of low slow grief curling down her spine, it's probably just the migrane and not that wailing emptiness that Sora found lurking inside him, because there's no space for that in her, and there never will be.

It's a little bit lonely, being the only one here with no darkness in her soul.

* * *

The first time that Kairi wakes up, faintly sore and sticky and statisfied, and takes a good look at the boy tucked in her bed, she has to press a hand to her mouth to stifle what she's pretty sure is an entirely inappropriate cackle of glee, because she feels weirdly triumphant and also kind of ridiculous.

Riku is not a thing to be won, and she is not the queen of the universe no matter how much she feels like she needs to do an impromptu victory dance around her bed because he's hers, he's hers-theirs-hers and no one else has ever had this before.

Kairi waits until after he's gone home before she falls back into herself and reaches out both hands to grab NaminÚ and spin her around in joyful circles until they fall to a giggling, dizzying heap on the dreamed-up ground, giddy and a little punch-drunk and so, so in love.

* * *

Selphie, Tidus, and Wakka are amazing friends.

She should tell them that more often.

* * *

She likes sitting on Sora's lap because it means he can't squirm away in shyness, and she likes sitting on Riku's lap because it makes him much easier to kiss.

Seriously. He's really tall. It's kind of a pain.

* * *

She still hasn't gotten used to the way that none of the grownups can quite look her in the eye yet.

It'll happen someday.


And if it doesn't, they're the ones who will be missing out.

* * *


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