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Electra

From the Shore to the Water (IC)

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The entire Bayview mall was bathed in red. It hung in streamers from the ceilings, covered the walls, and painted the glass display cases, spattering signs and drenching employees and their wares alike. All the unrelieved visceral color was tiresome to the eyes, but that was what you got for going shopping just before Valentine's Day. None of the cash-hungry stores were about to let anybody forget that the best way to show love was to buy your significant other plenty of presents. Alex, though, had taken care of her gifts far in advance of the holiday, and it wasn't something Erin had to worry about. They were on another mission entirely.

"Don't you think it seems kind of, I dunno, optimistic to put out the swimsuits in February?" Erin asked rhetorically, perusing the racks of lycra and spandex in Macy's Juniors department. "We've got James to make a pool party work out, but it's not even thirty degrees outside yet. Who's going to be going swimming yet?" Despite her skepticism, she paused in her searching to examine and discard several different suits. She'd gotten some money from her sort-of-parents for Christmas, and she wasn't going to wear a borrowed suit anymore if she could help it.

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"I dunno. The manor has an indoor pool but that's hardly the norm," Alex said cheerfully pushing the suits on the rack back and forth, "On the bright side, it makes it like the one non-crowded store in the whole mall. What do you think, cherries or chilli peppers?"

Shopping in the petites had not helped Alex's taste one bit as she held up bathingsuits that were really better suited to eight year olds. Color blind eight year olds. Who like frills. Lots and lots of frills. Smiling brightly, "Which says, 'look how cute and sexy and totally ready for second base I am'?"

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Erin blinked at the selection, trying to think of something tactful to say. When that didn't work, she admitted, "I think they more kinda say "I'm ready for Kool-aid Man to come serve juice at my pool party." She pulled a silver and blue tankini off the rack that was a couple of sizes too big for Alex, but a lot calmer in colors. "Maybe something a little more subtle," Erin suggested, holding up the swimsuit for example. "You, um, want him looking at you, right, not at the pattern on your swimsuit?"

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Alex frowned, looking from the plain (boring) swim suit that Erin held to the two in her hands doubtfully, "But... cherries?"

She wiggled the suit and sighed before putting it back. "This is hard. I've never dressed for anyone's tastes but my own before. And I looked at magazines but those didn't help. I don't have the, uhm, assets."

She waved a hand at her chest as if it wasn't clear from her statement, "Also, they looked uncomfortable. Or like they would fall off. I don't want my top to come down when I'm roughhousing in the pool."

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"Well yeah, that might be a little too ready for second base," Erin joked. She held the tankini up on herself consideringly, then put it back on the rack. "The little kid ones are probably no good anyway, they haven't got any cups in them," she pointed out. "You're more likely to fall out of one of those than something that's designed with a little more engineering. But you know, you've known Mike all your life. You know what he likes, right?"

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"Weeeeell..." Alex blushed and hesitated, turning an interesting clashing shade of pink, "Yes and no. There's some parts of Mike's head I stayed out of for my own sanity's sake when he was going through puberty - Except for a moment of curiosity that I very much regret - and now I'd probably have to pry to find things out and I don't wanna really see if he fantasizes about Lady Liberty or whatever because that would just be weird and awkward."

She lifted one shoulder in a delicate shrug and began poking through the offerings with a focused look on her face, "He likes black but he's started to add back in color to his wardrobe which is nice."

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Erin grimaced at that hypothetical glimpse into Mike's fantasy life and decided not to pursue that line of thought any further. "Well, maybe you can go with a mix of what you like and what he likes. Like your tastes, but a little more... dark. Sober, maybe. How much skin do you want to show off?" she asked, pulling a deep red bikini off the rack. It wasn't a style that would likely do Alex's endowments a lot of favors, but it certainly showed plenty of bare flesh. She twanged one of the straps experimentally. "There's a lot of spandex in these things, they probably won't fall off unless the roughhousing gets really rough. Kind of expensive though," she added, grimacing at the price tag. "All of these are."

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Alex eyed the admittadly skimpy outfit then shrugged and added it to a stack to try on.

"Investments are going well enough to not worry about the price. For you either. Your stock portfolio is quite healthy," Alex grinned. More than healthy but she didn't think Erin was quite ready to hear that. "I think you could even afford two. We'll just charge them to your profits this month. I promise that I'll deduct it from your account and not just pay for it myself all sneaky like."

She turned back to the rack and began haphazardly pulling suits in her size to try on in a wide range of colors.

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"I have some money," Erin replied, trying not to sound defensive about it. "Roger and Clarissa sent me some for my birthday and Christmas. Not that I know why anybody would need two swimsuits. Who goes swimming that often, anyway?" Keeping an eye on Alex's investments a couple nights a week wasn't that hard, and it kept Oliver in cat food, so it was not a bad part-time gig. Erin wasn't so sure about the actual investment portfolio stuff, that was Alex's deal. Watching bemusedly as Alex found suits in every color of the rainbow, she selected a couple of one-piece suits that looked like they'd probably fit, one navy blue and one purple. "Who else do you think is going to come to this thing?"

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"It's all your money, that was my point," Alex sighed and let it go. "The whole team will be there, I'm sure. All wearing skimpy suits, like at my birthday no doubt. I don't know who else James is inviting. I mean, he's got a huge list of friends and people he works with now. Uhm, probably Faith."

She paused and wrinkled her nose, "Chris might bring his girlfriend if he's come clean about the powers, but I doubt it. If Eddie and Zoe haven't broken up by then, they'll both be there."

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Erin snorted. "Between Faith and Mark and Eddie and Zoe, we might have to curtain off half the pool to protect our eyes," she joked. "I guess I better hope James isn't bringing a date, or I could be the only one there alone." Frowning thoughtfully, she replaced the blue suit on the rack, it looked a little too much like the swimsuit version of the Claremont uniform. "Are you going to try all of those on?"

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Alex shrugged and then nodded, "It shouldn't take too much time. I think it'll be easy to tell which ones make me look like a stick."

She wrinkled her nose at the PDA mention and complained, "I'm not sure if I'm more yicked out about all the PDA because I used to date Mark and Zoe's my child from the future, or because I'm still trying to coax Mike into doing something more than holding my hand like I'm made out of fragile china." She looked concerned, "Does that make me a bad person?"

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Erin shrugged. "No, I don't think so. I mean, maybe if he had convictions that he shouldn't do anything before marriage, one of those really restrictive religions or something, it might be kind of mean to try and push him out of them. But if he's just too nervous to do anything, then you're trying to help him get over that." The corners of her mouth pulled upwards. "The evidence is pretty suggestive that you two eventually do manage to get past second base, even if it does take another fifteen years. I can't blame you for maybe wanting to hurry that up a little bit."

As she spoke, Erin pulled a blue and green bikini in her own size off the rack and studied it. "I can't decide if wearing one of these would make me look like I've been inflated with a bike pump." It was a little tempting to try one on, just for curiosity's sake, but she strongly suspected she'd look stupid in it.

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Alex sighed and shook her head, "I just want him to be a little more..." She fluttered her hands, at a loss for words for the moment before she settled on, "Normal teen boy but that's probably a pretty tall order considering all the Claremont teen boys. I don't think any of them can really lay claim to normal. Oh, well."

Alex eyed it and said loyally, "You should try it on. You don't have an ounce of fat anywhere. That's the key requirement to wearing a bikini I think."

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"I'm not sure anybody at Claremont quite makes it to normal, even the teachers," Erin pointed out. "On the other hand, not too many girls have a boyfriend who can take them out flying or carry their books to the moon. I bet he comes around eventually, he's got a lot of hormones and stuff. I mean, look at the other guys." She laughed. "Maybe you should be happy you have to coax him out of his shell a little."

After another moment's consideration, she added the bikini to her try-on pile, then immediately covered it with another safe black one-piece number. "You ready to try these things on?" she asked, craning her neck to find the changing room.

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"Yup!" Alex enthused, bounding forward with her suits in hand. She weaved through to the dressing rooms and, after getting her plastic number, popped into one and held the door open, "Did you wanna share? I mean, we pull them on over our underwear but I'd rather not have to wander up and down the hall wondering if I look silly to find you so that you can confirm it."

Alex grinned and lifted one shoulder in a slight shrug as if to say she'd manage if Erin wanted her own stall.

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"Sure," Erin said with a shrug, getting her own plastic number, much smaller than Alex's. "Not like you've never seen me changing before, right? Let's get the big one." The handicapped changing room provided enough space for both of them to get dressed without bumping into each other, well, not much anyway. Erin went for her safest choice first, a very straightforward black one-piece suit with straps that crossed in the back and no decoration whatsoever. It looked fine, she guessed, checking herself out in the mirror, but she couldn't help feeling that it was kind of boring. Especially next to the fashion explosions Alex had picked out.

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Alex quickly stripped down to her patterned underwear and began cheerfully at the bottom of the stack. She pulled on one of the less childish but still ruffled bottoms in a racy red with black edging and pulled the top on. She tugged a few times at the cups and bounced before frowning at her reflection, "I guess, at least, I have boobs now? I swear, I thought I'd be flat forever. Its still not a lot."

She twisted around to shake the ruffles at the mirror and giggled, "Its like flamenco meets swimsuit."

She slanted a glance at Erin's suit and frowned, "I know I say it a lot but I think you need more color."

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Erin looked over Alex's first choice. "You could stuff the cups," she suggested, "but that's probably not a great idea if you're looking for someone to get the suit off of you." She smirked. "Especially someone with x-ray vision. What you've got looks fine. I would lose the butt-ruffles though. They're kind of babyish, and they don't do much to show off your butt, if that's what you want to do."

She looked at herself in the mirror again, then stripped down and tried on the two-piece. "Well, it looks... imposing, I guess," she managed, studying herself. It was modest, as bikinis went, securely covering all strategic areas, but it definitely showed off what six months of intensive workouts had done to a body that was in good shape to start with. She cracked a smile. "I guess this shouldn't be such a big deal, I wear a spandex bodysuit practically every day."

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Alex wiggled her butt one last time at the mirror before reluctantly agreeing, "They cover up the fact that I don't have much of a butt either, but you're probably right."

She shimmied out of her suit and into one that was simpler but a sunny yellow. She frowned at it for a moment before taking the bottoms off and matching it with the bottoms of a different suit that was a hot pink and beamed, "Oh, mix and match."

The suit bottoms were cut low in the boy's style and the top was a halter top that Alex thought would stay in place. She wandered over to Erin's pile and pulled out a silvery suit that had the top and bottom held together at the sides with rings, "What about this?"

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Erin blinked a couple of times at Alex's choice of colors, but decided not to suggest that the combination had all the fashion sensibility of a box of Nerds. She had a sneaking suspicion that she wasn't going to win any arguments about color, for all the style definitely suited Alex better. Instead, she took the suit Alex proffered and held it up. "I dunno," she said, "I picked this one up more to suggest the style to you."

She tried it on anyway, if only because it promised more coverage than the two-piece she had on. It softened things a little, she supposed, so she didn't look quite so much like she belonged in a weightlifting magazine. "It's better," Erin decided. "And nothing's likely to fall off, that's good too. What do you think?"

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Alex eyed her friend judiciosuly for a moment before she nodded her agreement, "It suits you. Its enough you to not seem awkward but it isn't the utilitarian look you normally tend towards. The silver is pretty."

Alex smiled and scooped out a few suits of the same cut as the two piece she was wearing but in different colors and put them in the 'keep' pile. "I'd vote for it in like a turqoise but the silver looks really good on you"

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"I think I'll skip the turquoise," Erin decided with a laugh, changing back into her own clothes. "So are you going to make a move on Mike at the party, then? Knowing James, I bet he could steer you towards someplace private, or you could just use your invisibility thing. I doubt anybody's gonna be looking around with super-senses at a pool party. Hope not, anyway." She eyed Alex's growing pile of suits. "You could always spill something on yourself and say you want to change into another suit."

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"Kinda," Alex said doubtfully, "I don't wanna seduce him, so much, as get him more comfortable with things. I'm not sure the party's the best place for it but he needs to get more comfortable with crowds and all that."

She shrugged as she pulled her jeans back up and stomped into her boots. Alex confessed without any noticable remorse. "And maybe I just want to make him a wee bit physically uncomfortable with, you know, wanting me."

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Erin chuckled, putting her unwanted suits back on the hangers. "Well that shouldn't be too difficult. Wait till you're both wearing swimsuits, then give him a big, long hug. Maybe levitate up so you're a little taller, that might help too. You'll make him uncomfortable, and not be doing anything you can't get away with in front of a big crowd of people. You never know, maybe if you make him uncomfortable enough in the right way, he'll be the one looking to go somewhere more private." It was easier to talk about that sort of thing now, when she'd had a few months to sort out and get over the very small crush she'd had on Mike after their one date in the fall. It certainly seemed like Alex had her work cut out for her, anyway.

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