She began noticing them shortly after everything calmed down, when the threat of being hunted down began fading and they had assimilated to a more regular routine; one free of terrorism, bombs, guns and constant fear.
Eight on Twelve, five on Nine…that she had noticed so far. It was harder to locate Nine's due to his habit of wearing long shirts and pants, and the fact that he avoided physical contact most of the time. Twelve's were easier to spot, as he loved wearing shorts and loose shirts most of the time.
Perhaps she wouldn't have thought much about it if she hadn't realized some of Twelve's matched the few that she had been able to see on Nine. Some of them were almost identical; tiny lines that ran on the inside of their arms or near their shoulders. Some of them were barely visible; she had found a very small one on the back of Twelve's neck, it looked like a perfectly shaped square, some parts of it had completely healed but she could trace where the lines were supposed to connect and wondered how such a particular scar could come to be.
The night she made her discovery Twelve had turned to her with a questioning look in his eyes after he had felt her finger run along the back of his neck, but she had shaken her head as if she had merely been lost in thought and her action had been absent-minded.
But she began keeping a tally, and she'd memorize the exact location and always look for a similar mark on Nine.
She tried not to be too obvious, but some were hard to find with just a glimpse, and she was afraid Twelve had already caught her staring more than once.
Weeks passed and one night Twelve simply plopped on the couch next to her and said "Alright, go ahead and ask,"
Lisa looked up at him, confused at first, but when Nine came into the room, sat on the coffee table in front of them and simply waited, she knew what it was about.
"Oh," So they knew, of course they knew. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to stare. It was rude."
Nine snorted, and Lisa's cheeks turned a deep crimson.
"It's fine, Nine and I agreed to share with you whatever it is you want to know."
Lisa glanced at Nine, he didn't seem entirely comfortable—then again, Nine rarely did—but he didn't object. That meant both of them had probably discussed this already. She knew them well enough to know Twelve had probably argued in her favor and that Nine had been worn down enough to begrudgingly agree to this.
"You want to know how some of these happened," Twelve tapped a scar on his arm "is that right?"
She did want to know, she was curious enough that she had stayed up at night, making up scenarios and giving each discolored mark a story. But each story was worse than the last, to the point that her own imagination pushed her to tears.
But her curiosity was just that, curiosity. It wasn't more important than their feelings, and it certainly wasn't worth the bad memories she'd be forcing them to relive.
There was only one thing worth considering, and it had nothing to do with her.
"Do you need to talk about them?"
"Why would we need that?" Nine crossed his arms, frowned.
"I…um… some people believe it helps, talking about the bad things. Sharing is a way to cope and let go of them."
Twelve considered this, then shrugged one shoulder "I don't specifically think about how they happened, and neither does Nine. I don't think they have any power over us anymore."
"Is that so?"
"Then I don't need to know… if you're truly alright,"
Twelve seemed surprised, and Nine started getting up, ready to leave. Lisa grabbed his sleeve and tugged for him to sit back down, but he just looked back down at her.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything they put you through,"
Nine blinked at her, slightly baffled by the apology, and Twelve frowned "Lisa, you don't—"
"They will never apologize and somebody should. Please," she said when Twelve started arguing again "You deserve it, for everything."
"Just take it as it is, please."
Nine sat back down, his gaze steady on her, and Lisa noticed his posture relax a little, the tension on his shoulders visibly gone. "Thank you, Lisa."
Twelve's stare softened before he piped up "Okay, but not all of these are from the time at the institution,"
Nine sighed "In fact, most of Twelve's scars aren't,"
"This one," Twelve lifted his shirt cheerfully and turned so Lisa could see a slightly jagged scar that ran along the lower right side of his back "Is from when I was learning how to ride a motorcycle, Nine almost killed me after the fact,"
"You weren't learning how to ride it, you were doing stupid tricks on it, as always,"
Twelve ignored the comment, "He stitched me right up, but he made the process extra-long and painful. He probably thought it would stop me from trying again,"
Lisa winced and touched her hand to it in sympathy.
"He was back on that stupid bike two days later so don't feel bad for him,"
The pout on Twelve's face was quick, gone in a second as he turned back to Nine.
"Nine has a somewhat cute scar story,"
Nine glared at his friend, but the brunet was already reaching over. He pushed Nine's bangs away from his forehead and pointed at a small and thin white line that peeked out of his hairline "Swing accident,"
Lisa's jaw dropped and her eyes widened. It was hard picturing Nine anywhere near a swing. Then again, there was such a large gap in their lives she didn't know anything about. They had escaped at a very young age, she knew that, but it was still hard picturing Nine as anyone other than the cool young adult before her. She was suddenly struck with the realization that, regardless of their circumstances, they had been small children, discovering the world alone and yes, occasionally behaving their age.
As if reading her thoughts, Nine cleared his throat but stayed silent.
Twelve ran his thumb over the scar "We were eleven. The swing knocked him out for a second and I seriously thought he was dead. When he got up we both started crying, and Nine was just bleeding all over the place and attracting attention we didn't need,"
Nine swatted Twelve's hand away, feeling suddenly very self-conscious "It was your fault the swing hit me in the first place,"
"It was not!"
Nine started arguing, but Lisa's soft laughter had both of them turning their attention to her.
"I'm sorry. It's just-it's good to know that not all scars have sad stories behind them," she knew that the nightmares that had been plaguing her lately had been effectively chased away with that small bit of information about their pasts; knowing they had managed to rescue some moments from the childhood that the institution had stolen from them. "Thanks for sharing with me,"
"Well, I really didn't go into the details of that afternoon, when we got home, Nine—"
"That's enough for now," Nine warned.
"Fine, fine," Twelve shrugged and reached for Lisa's hand "Hey, Lisa?"
"We would like to know your stories as well,"
Lisa regarded both boys, and when she realized their offer was sincere, she began fumbling with the hem of her dress with her free hand, "My life hasn't been that interesting or…"
Twelve squeezed her hand reassuringly "Anything you want to share is fine. Just because some scars aren't visible it doesn't mean they're not there."
"When you're ready," Nine added, reading her expression perfectly, "Just let us know."
They remained in silence for a minute before Nine got up and declared he was making dinner, his hand touched Lisa's hair as he walked by, a gesture that seemed nonchalant but that let her know he meant what he said.
Twelve let go of her hand after pressing a quick kiss to it "Want to help with dinner and drive Nine crazy?"
Still slightly distracted by their offer and actions, she nodded, almost too eagerly, and made him laugh.
Dolce S.- This is my submission for day one of ZNT2A [Memories]. I might edit this later because I kinda rushed in the middle of it.