It was too late, but Sora still yelped, "Wait!" right as Cid snapped the safety piercer around his earlobe. He'd numbed his ear with a tiny Blizzard spell but it still felt like…well, like having a needle stabbed through his earlobe. "Ow!"
"Don't be a baby," Donald scolded. Goofy looked a bit more sympathetic at least as Sora pouted at them.
"I don't see you getting pierced!" Sora snapped, trying not to flinch as Cid pulled the piercer away and examined the result of his work.
"Gawrsh, what part of Donald would you even pierce?" Goofy asked, scratching his head. Donald narrowed his eyes at Sora and Goofy examining him thoughtfully.
"Stop getting weird ideas!" Donald quacked, shaking his fists.
"Looks fine," Cid pronounced, holding up a hand mirror for Sora to see. The Guard Earring glinted matte steel gray against his reddened earlobe. Sora had thought he'd feel cooler or older with an earring, but mostly he felt silly and his ear hurt dully. "Don't take this one out for a couple weeks, even if you find a better one, or it won't heal. And keep it as clean as you can."
"Oh." Sora resisted the urge to reach up and scratch it. "Can't I just use a Cure spell?"
"If you want it to heal up without a hole, sure," Cid said, setting the mirror down and leaning against the counter. "If you wanna keep the piercing, though, you're gonna have to heal it up natural. Fencer Earrings don't come in clip-on, kid." Cid examined Sora's face. "Hurt?"
"No," Sora lied immediately. He slid off the stool to put his hands on his hips, posing in front of Donald and Goofy. "I look cool, right?"
"Sure," Goofy said loyally. Donald opened his beak, but a sharp jab from Goofy's elbow made him snap it shut again and just nod.
"My mom is gonna kill me," Sora muttered as he leaned over the mirror to examine himself one more time. The old him would have never done something like this, but after weeks of Heartless attacks and scattershot combat experience, current Sora was a lot more worried about increased defense magic than about what his mother would think. Shaking off the wave of homesickness, Sora combed his hair back down over his ears with his fingers so that the earring was barely visible. "Thanks, Cid."
"Anytime, kid." Cid ruffled Sora's hair hard enough to make Sora grit his teeth, although he didn't pull away. "Stay safe, ya hear? You two watch his back or you'll have me to answer to."
"Yes, sir!" Goofy saluted, while Donald and Sora eyed each other with mild suspicion.
"Let's go already," Donald said, brushing off the staring competition.
"Ready when you are," Sora answered, shouldering his backpack. He could almost ignore the slight throbbing of his ear if he focused on his growling stomach. "Let's grab some food before we leave town, though!"
"I can't believe I'm letting you do this," Riku said, voice resigned. He was sitting cross-legged on their bed in the Mysterious Tower, Sora kneeling in front of him with a safety piercer and a smirk.
"Don't be a baby," Sora urged, smirk turning into a full grin. "Master Earrings don't come in clip-on, you know." He slapped Riku's thigh until Riku unfolded his legs, making space for Sora to kneel between them. "Besides, a little extra defense magic can't hurt tomorrow, right?" Sora leaned in to brush Riku's hair away from his ear, examining the spot he was going to pierce, and Riku didn't try to hide the fact that he was staring; up close Sora had so many freckles scattered over his nose and cheeks, blue eyes sparkling when they caught Riku looking.
His eyes weren't the only thing that sparkled. Riku lifted a hand to thumb at the Slayer Earring Sora was wearing, much more noticeable now that Sora's new haircut had trimmed his hair up from his ears. The steel earring stood out brightly against Sora's skin now that his tan was back, the dragon design curling delicately up along the inside curve of Sora's ear. It seemed funny that Riku hadn't noticed that Sora had a piercing for ages, but now he couldn't stop noticing it anytime he looked at Sora.
"Who did yours?" Riku asked.
"Cid," Sora murmured, distracted numbing Riku's earlobe with a chunk of ice he'd conjured. "Back when you and Kairi were missing."
Riku blinked. "That long ago?"
"Yeah," Sora said, voice quieter. "I just had a Guard Earring for a long time, though." Riku slid arms around Sora's waist and hugged him in silent apology for that terrible year.
"I like this one," Riku said, because it was obvious Sora didn't want to talk about back then. He traced the dragon's head with his thumb, brushing against the conch of Sora's ear and making him shiver. "It suits you."
Sora brightened at the praise. "It's cool, right? I always liked this one best, so I haven't switched it for ages." Sora clicked his tongue. "But you'll probably look way cooler with a piercing than me, jerk."
"I doubt it," Riku murmured. Sora wasn't listening to him, picking up the safety piercer from the bed and fitting it around Riku's earlobe. Riku's heart rate rose from anticipation, even though nothing had happened yet.
"Ready?" Sora asked. Riku nodded, closing his eyes. "Ok, I'll go on three. One…" Sora clicked the piercer on "Two," making Riku grunt from surprise more than pain.
"Dick," Riku complained.
Sora just chuckled. "I didn't want you to twitch. Sorry about this, though," Sora apologized as he undid the stud that had come in the piercer. He was trying to be gentle but it still felt unpleasant against Riku's raw skin as Sora slid the stud free. "You ok?"
"Just hurry up," Riku said through gritted teeth. Sora leaned across him to pick up the Master Earring he'd sterilized and set on the bedside table earlier; it was a continuous hoop the same color as a Master's Ring, purple with a thin iridescent band running around the center circumference of it. Riku swallowed some choice words as Sora worked the end of the open hoop through his pierced skin and then clicked the hoop shut.
"All done," Sora announced, leaning back to admire his handiwork. "Damn, that does look cool."
"Hope it looks better than it feels," Riku said, ear starting to throb a little as the last of the iced numbness wore off. Probably during battle tomorrow a sore ear would be the absolute least of his problems, but Riku kept that thought to himself.
"Sorry I can't Cure it," Sora said. He leaned in to kiss Riku's forehead. "You'll have to make do with that." Riku gave him a dry look before digging his fingers into Sora's sides in a sudden tickle attack. "Hey! Quit it!" Sora gasped between pained giggles, slapping uselessly at Riku's shoulders. "Stooop!"
"Nope," Riku said, locking one arm around Sora's waist so he could really get the super sensitive spot at the bottom of Sora's ribs.
"You're such a jeeeeerk!" Sora wailed. Riku relented, and Sora slumped against him, panting, face red. "Ugh! Kissing you sure didn't turn you into a prince."
"If you kissing me turned me into royalty, I'd be the king of half the worlds by now," Riku snorted.
It did look cool, Riku had to admit when they were in the bathroom, getting ready for bed. Sora was showing Riku how to gently clean around the piercing, wiggling it to make sure his skin didn't heal to it.
"Try not to touch it too much, either," Sora advised. "Mine took ages to heal the whole way because I couldn't stop fidgeting with it." Sora paused. "I sure hope Spirit synthesis materials are hypoallergenic."
"You're just asking that now?" Riku asked, exasperated. Sora laughed and said he was sure it was fine, their synthesized rings never got gross or anything. "Why do I put up with you?"
"Because you love me?" Sora offered, only grinning more brightly when Riku crowded him up against the sink, stealing a kiss.
"Hmm," Riku said dubiously, hands slipping up the back of Sora's T-shirt. "Or maybe I'm just a sucker for big hair and a flashy piercing."