"Why exactly do I have to be the seat reserver?" Wakka had attempted to save his friends' empty seats by placing their belongings on top. Unfortunately, the seats automatically folded up when not enough weight held them down, resulting in a lot of frustration on Wakka's part. "Maybe I'm just too nice of a guy or something..." He glanced toward the stage and noticed the curtains fluttering sporadically, signaling there was still activity going on behind the scenes. It was obvious that nothing like this had ever happened before due to confused stage hands popping out behind the drapes, unsure where to go and whose orders to follow.
Wakka turned his gaze toward the judges' table where the four guest judges acted completely oblivious to the activity going on around them and taking their jobs seriously. It was as if they were used to this type of incident, almost as if they had expected it. The Blitzball player couldn't help but feel a bit suspicious and made a mental note to keep an eye on them. These thoughts were quickly interrupted by some cute giggling not far from him. Wakka was stunned to see that a gaggle of girls had managed to sneak up next to him without any notice.
"You're Wakka, aren't you?" Knowing his reputation as a Blitzball MVP was well-known among the local teenage female community, Wakka could guess exactly what was on these girls' minds. "Is it okay if we sit next to you?"
* * *
"Good luck, Naminé," Selphie thought inwardly. "I just hope that no wardrobe malfunctions happen."
*KNOCK KNOCK* The teenage girl stiffened from the unexpected pounding of the door.
"Odd. Naminé's already headed onstage and there haven't been any other announcements from the intercom." She grabbed the shopping bag that was sitting near the mirror and gripped its handles tightly. Selphie cautiously unlocked the door handle, her makeshift weapon at the ready. "Whoever it is better not underestimate the power of my-"
BAM! Pain signals buzzed swiftly to her brain as the door's edge made contact with her face. It took her a few moments before she realized that someone had steadied her from falling.
"Oh man! Selphie! Are you okay?"
"You just slammed the door in her face, Tidus!" Hayner scolded. "What do you think?!"
Selphie massaged her face before she could speak again. "W...what are you guys doing back here? How did you get past security?"
Riku's eyes had a twinge of embarrassment. "Don't ask." He quietly nudged the door closed, keeping an ear close just in case.
"Wait, don't tell me." She shot an accusing stare at Tidus. "You were hoping to see half-naked girls back here, weren't you?" Then she whirled over at Riku. "And really, Riku? I expected this stuff from these two, but you of all people should know better!"
"But I was just-" Riku began, but Selphie wouldn't hear it.
"I thought you were supposed to be the responsible one! Why didn't you grab these idiots by the neck and drag..." Selphie's voice trailed off. She squinted at the Dawn wielder with a suspicious air. "Speaking of drag, are you wearing makeup?" Riku's eyes widened.
"How could you te-" A sharp intake of air rushed past his lips as he caught himself. "I mean, what are you talking about?"
"Now that you mention it..." Hayner peered through Riku's long, silvery bangs. "It was too dark to see from the rafters, so I didn't notice it before."
"Is that lipstick?" A grin creeped up on Tidus' face. "Are you serious?! That's how you were able to sneak in? By dressing in drag?" Riku's hair slightly covered his Axel-colored visage as the other three burst out laughing.
"Wow, Riku. You even did your nails?" Selphie giggled. "Even Sora didn't know how to do that by himself!"
"Just be glad he's not wearing women's panties," Hayner joked. Riku gently bit on his lower lip.
"Er..." The lack of denial caused the laughter to immediately cease into awkward silence. The other two boys shuffled a couple steps back away.
Selphie couldn't help but smirk. "Wow, Riku. When you go all out, you go all out."
Riku crossed his arms, puckering his lips in a girly-like pout. "At least they're comfortable."
* * *
Kairi didn't like being ignored. Sure, the police were just doing their jobs, but she didn't like the fact that she had the ability to stop this madness and no one would listen to her. After successfully getting the officer-in-charge's attention, she tried to explain that it was all a misunderstanding, but was immediately cut off.
"Listen, kid. You and your girlfriend need to stop obstructing official police business."
"Girlfriend?" Olette repeated. "Where did that come from?" But Kairi wasn't going to back down.
"Those so-called 'suspects' are innocent attendees that just happened to have bathroom problems. It's not the police that needs to be here right now, but the fire department!"
"How would you know that?" The officer's eyes narrowed at Kairi suspiciously. "You wouldn't happen to be in league with these terrorists, would you?"
Both Kairi and Olette couldn't believe their ears. This officer was clearly hell-bent in arresting somebody whether they were innocent or not. Kairi's hands were shaking with barely concealed frustration. Sensing she was close to snapping, Roxas attempted to calm her down.
"Careful, Kairi," he warned. "If you keep pushing, you're going to get Sora in trouble."
"Officer," Kairi said with forced composure, "Our friends came from another world and are probably having a hard time using toilets meant for humans. One of them is a duck and the other is..." She struggled to figure out what to personify Goofy as. "...an anthropomorphic dog....person...creature...person. Since the town hasn't had a chance to adopt custom-built restrooms for non-humans, they most likely got stuck."
Olette nodded. "The person blocking the door is a friend that came with me and someone else from Twilight Town. After twenty minutes, we got worried and went out looking for him."
The officer gave Kairi and Olette a hard stare as he processed what they were saying. "So what you're telling me is that we have a couple of aliens holed up in the restroom with a foreigner? How stupid do you think I am?"
"Yen Sid, this guy ain't," Roxas muttered.
"Sir!" a gunman cried. "We have movement!" All eyes and rifle muzzles were drawn toward the restroom door as it began to casually open back. Kairi and Olette held their breath and hoped that no one had an itchy trigger finger as three familiar figures emerged from the doorway.
Pence rubbed his eyes with the back of his drenched arm. "You two really need to learn how to start using public toilets," he said to Goofy and the newly-freed Donald. The trio stopped in their tracks as soon as they noticed the crowd of law enforcement surrounding them. Confused, the three of them raised their hands above their head when the officers rushed in on them.
The girls had a difficult time seeing through the mass of officers, but Kairi managed to catch a glimpse of Goofy flashing a laminated card from his pocket that seemed to appease them.
"Alright, men! It was a false alarm!" And with that, the crowd began to dissipate as the janitorial staff subtly replaced armed gunmen. Donald, Pence and Goofy approached the girls who appeared dumbstruck.
"How did you do that?" Kairi asked. "The officer in charge wouldn't listen to a word we said, but all you did was just flash a card and everything turned out fine?"
Goofy reached into his pocket and produced a purple card that Kairi had never seen before, yet looked familiar. On it was a yellow silhouette of Hollow Bastion and the words "HBRC Honorary Member."
"All Donald and I had to do was just show these "Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee" membership cards and they let us go free." Goofy scritched his head. "Come to think of it, I don't know why..."
"And where exactly did Donald pull his card from?" Roxas wondered. "He doesn't wear any pants." Kairi struggled not to giggle.
"Hey, what time is it?" Pence suddenly asked.
Kairi reached down into her side pocket for Sora's phone while Olette looked around for a wall clock. "Why do you ask?"
"Isn't the next part of the pageant happening right now?" This stopped Kairi in mid-rummage.
"Quick! The others can take care of themselves!" Roxas cried eagerly. "Right now we've gotta see how the swimsuit portion's turning out!"
"Roxas, I know you're excited and all..." As soon as those words left her proverbial mouth, Kairi became aware of an uncomfortable tightness around her lower extremities. "That's not what I meant!"
"Kairi?" Olette gave her a strange look. "Why are you yelling at Sora's crotch?"
* * *
"I'm not exactly a fan of wearing bikinis outside the beach or pool," Naminé thought. "But I have to admit, this is definitely much easier to move around in." Her light-blue sandals clacked throughout the hallway, passing stage crew and other staff, when she finally spotted the other contestants who were being directed to their positions. She was amazed how thorough the cleanup was as there was no sign of debris or any indications that there had ever been an accident.
Naminé couldn't help feeling a sadistic sense of satisfaction when she noticed Natalia's jerk reaction to "Kairi" coming up onstage with no problems...although it became quite apparent that a couple of the other contestants were shooting glances towards Naminé as well. The memory witch didn't know whether to take the attention as jealousy or disdain.
A sudden shiver tingled throughout her body. It wasn't because of the temperature (which was pretty comfortable considering that the girls were scantily-clad), but at the aspect of exposing herself to hundreds of strangers that had every right to take pictures and upload them to their blogs. Unfortunately for her, Sora was still unconscious.
"I don't know whether to feel annoyed that Sora's not awake yet or relieved that he doesn't have to parade Kairi's body like free fanservice." Naminé took another look at Selphie's makeshift swimwear. Using strips and patches of fabric, she was now sporting a snowy white bandeau top, a shimmery sky blue G-string bikini bottom and a transparent cotton candy pink wrap around her hips. Quickly shifting onto her mark, Naminé took a deep breath as the announcer's voice boomed from the loudspeakers.
"We apologize for the delay, ladies and gentlemen! Now for our most popular and anticipated segment of the pageant, the swimsuit competition!" The curtains parted, removing the privacy screen between the girls and the audience. "Let's give a hand to all our beautiful young contestants!" Naminé glanced up toward where her friends were sitting. As embarrassing as it was, she was secretly glad that all of the seats were occupied. There was no way that they would've missed-
She did a double take. Instead of her friends, Wakka was surrounded on both sides by teenage girls. There was an annoyed expression on his face, but his fangirls didn't seem to notice. "Oh, you've got to be flippin' kidding me."
A few rows behind and over, Natalia couldn't help but stare at the "redhead" with great suspicion.
"That can't possibly be Kairi," she thought. "Her skin tone is a bit lighter than usual and that hair seems too fake to be real." Standing in a star-spangled midnight blue tubetop with a periwinkle tie side bikini bottom, she glanced up at the rafters where a purple-tattooed guard holding a coil of fishing line was getting into position. Natalia gave a subtle nod, signaling for another sabotage attempt to begin.
As Naminé heard Kairi's name calling her to the front, the memory witch couldn't help but feel lonely and vulnerable. Sora was still unconscious, she didn't have much connection with Wakka and everyone else was nowhere to be found. The sudden isolation started reminding her of being locked up in Castle Oblivion. "Sora once said that his friends were his power," Naminé lamented. "But where do you draw your power from when your friends aren't there when you need them the most?"
Unseen from a distance, an open paper clip tied to barely visible fishing line was lowered stealthily behind an unsuspecting Naminé. Natalia waited with bated breath as she maintained a hard gaze at the makeshift hook that managed to snag the knot holding the bandeau together.
With a sudden jerk, the knot became undone and Naminé's top began to drop, forcing the poor girl into a dangerous situation. As her hands instinctively flew up to keep her from unintentionally flashing, the hook managed to grab her wig. Adrenaline levels soared as she felt the synthetic hair leave its perch.
Natalia's quick moment of glee turned to shock as she realized the contestant's hair was a deeper red than the artificial hairpiece. In the split-second of Naminé realizing she was about to be exposed on two fronts, Sora's consciousness finally stirred. "Huh, wha-"
"Sora! Thank gawd!" Keeping her elbows tucked in close to prevent the bandeau from dropping, the memory witch quickly gave Sora back control over Kairi's body, allowing her hair to change back from blonde to natural red.
Imagine Sora's surprise to wake up and realize that he was standing on stage in front of hundreds of people wearing almost nothing at all. As shock flickered across Kairi's face, Naminé prepared to use a quick "memory injection" to keep Sora from panicking. "Forgive me, Sora."
Sora was about to ask what was going on, but was stopped by the sudden flood of images and memories that burst through his mind. He instinctively grabbed his head (and in the process, swiped the wig back) as reality altered within his consciousness. Fortunately (or unfortunately for the males in the audience), whether by magic or static electricity, the top clung to Kairi's body, keeping its wearer from further embarrassment.
After some moments of disorientation, "Sora" no longer existed. As far as anyone else was concerned, he had always been "Kairi."
He looked at the wig in his hand curiously, shrugged and calmly reknotted his bandeau back into place. The judges were muttering amongst themselves as Sora placed the wig-bearing hand on his hip. Then with a coy wink and a seductive hip thrust, he kissed his index and middle fingers of his free hand, tossed out his arm with a cute flourish, and blew a kiss out toward the audience. That flirtatious move made many of the boys in the audience cheer and the rest of the audience disregard the momentary incident.
"And once again, another example of teenage boys and their hormones," the identity-altered Sora thought. Naminé kept her proverbial lips shut, not wanting to distract "Kairi" from her swagger. She couldn't help but notice that the judges were less concerned about the contestant's false hairpiece and more focused on the receding fishing line that was zipping back out of sight.
As soon as Sora returned to his place on stage, Naminé asked "Sora? Are you alright?"
"Huh? Why are you calling me Sora, Naminé?" Sora giggled in a girlish tone. "I'm Kairi, remember?"
Naminé sighed. "Frackdammit." Like an overworked Gummi mechanic, she quickly shifted his memories back to its original state. An almost inaudible moan escaped his lips as Sora's identity reaffirmed itself.
"Really, Naminé? You had to go there?" Sora couldn't help but feel horribly violated. "I wish you'd stop raping my mind like that," he chided. "The psychic backlash could scar me for life!"
"I'm sorry, Sora. I didn't think we could afford you to lose yourself the moment everyone was watching."
"But I did lose myself," Sora reminded her. "I know you joke about messing with my memories at times, but literally turning me into Kairi seemed a bit overkill, don't you think?" Waves of shame and guilt seeped into Naminé's consciousness.
"I'm truly sorry, Sora. I was just..." Naminé searched for the right word. "...lonely."
"Lonely?" Sora repeated.
"Being up onstage by myself in front of hundreds of people wearing nothing but these strips of cloth...It scared me. I felt literally exposed and vulnerable. Without you, Kairi or anyone else familiar that I could count on for support..." Sora could sense her depression. "It just reminded me of Castle Oblivion all over again. And because of that, I let my guard down and panicked."
"It's okay, Sora. I'm not justifying what I did. I just figured I owe you an explanation."
"Naminé, don't worry about it. You did what you had to do to protect both me and Kairi. I should be saying thank you." Naminé was surprised at how fast Sora forgave her. "Look, what's done is done. There's no point in dwelling on it. Right now we should be focusing on getting Kairi through this in the least embarrassing way possible."
In the back of his mind, Naminé smiled. "Thank you, Sora. I promise I'll try to keep my mental impulses in check."
"By the way, when we get back to the dressing room, I'd like to see what this outfit looks like in a mirror." Sora took a moment to admire Kairi's exposed figure. "I think this makes Kairi look..."
"On second thought, I'm revoking your bikini privileges when you get back to your own body."