2018-01-20 - In The Garden

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In The Garden

As the grand gala to fundraise for rebuilding Ohtori's garden approaches, the organizer, Chihaya, runs another pre-event, this time to help select the finalists for the new landscaping design. Naturally it is also a ball. Naturally some unexpected appearances are made.


Chihaya Izumi, Kasagami Araki, Takeo Akamizu, Kozue Kaoru, Nori Ankou, Shizuru Fujino, Anthy Himemiya, Fuu Hououji, Sayaka Miki, Morgana


The Good Ship Yamato Nadeshiko, Tokyo Bay

OOC - IC Date:

01-20-2018 - 03-21-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Tokyo Bay +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
  Once known as the "Inner Sea," the shelter Tokyo Bay once provided for
  merchants and fishermen helped Tokyo develop into the powerhouse that it is
  today, nor is it less useful today. Japan's largest shipping ports operate
  out of the Bay, as does its own navy and that of the US Forces. Herculean
  efforts dredge up its silt to create artificial islands, and factories drink
  its water to soothe their smoky throats.

  To most residents, however, the Bay is simply blue water glittering,
  salt-seasoned breezes, and gently drifting sails. The aptly named Rainbow
  Bridge crossing the bay enhances rather than damages its beauty, its white
  towers lit many nights by an artificial rainbow. A provincial visitor might
  consider Tokyo Bay to be trimmed like a garden hedge; it has a number of
  oddly geometric islands with arranged greenery, and any land touching the
  water often makes the best of it with a park, intake valve, or other
  imposition on nature. To a city-dweller, though, it is a miracle of open
  space and calm.
<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Ohtori High School Host Club: Scherzo For Orchestra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpeqNEdDiak

The fundraising gala to rebuild Southern Cross Island's devastated gardens and forests -- burnt to ash during the tragic terrorist occupation of Ohtori Academy last year -- has been in the organizational stages for months. There's been a certain deliberate patience to the arrangement of the finest foods, the hottest acts, always selected through competition, always with Sister Schools students as the informal judges.

Each of those events have been, themselves, spectacular. And tonight promises to be a jewel among even them.

It's on a boat.

Tokyo Bay is an inextricable part of the identity of the city, but for most of its citizens, it's still very special to be able to get out on the water. To be so close to wind and sea, with the spectacular skyline all around.

Especially on a luxury ship like the Yamato Nadeshiko. It was breathtaking even to board, its huge white bulk dominating the docks, the red carpet of the gangway plush but only the very beginning of a space that somehow defies the inherent claustrophobia of boats -- every room feels light, airy. Delicate. Mirrors, crystal chandeliers, and sheer draperies in whites, silvers, and blues, do much to help achieve this effect.

But it's also true that things don't have to be cramped on a boat that is so large. It isn't a cruise liner, but about as big of a yacht as can still reasonably be called a yacht. And it is cunningly engineered to feel even larger than it is -- the ways that the decks drip into each other with fanciful grand staircases instead of tight little corridors, for example. The vast windows, not at all like portholes.

And then there's the ballroom.

'Might I have a bit of earth?' asks the calligraphy on the cards that invited people to this place, and it smells like earth, too, a complete transport away from the feel of the bay itself. It's almost disorienting, to be on a boat in a room that feels so entirely like the heart of a forest. The trees are very much real, and the twinkling lights strung among them are akin to fairies. It's a magical place, made moreso by the sweet strains of the chamber orchestra hidden among its many winding paths.

There is plenty of space to dance in the center, and an immodest buffet for those who have come to eat, but the main event tonight is arrayed around the edge of the space, backlit by the natural light of the fading day.

It is a masterpiece in bonsai. There are some few artificial pieces to each miniaturized proposal for Ohtori's future landscaping, but as much as possible, real plants are used to portray the artists' visions. Each table also includes extensive binders describing logistical details including sourcing, price estimate, timeline, and so forth. These are major feats of organization in themselves, and the competitors are world-class.

Each has the sponsorship of an Ohtori club (or individual student, in a few cases). Some notable entries include:

  • Extensive water gardens, with pools and fountains that would be the envy of the world, sponsored by the Ohtori Sailing Club
  • Essentially perfect reproduction of a particularly beloved section of forest that was used for clandestine trysts, sponsored by the Ohtori Newspaper Club
  • A classic Japanese garden (not at all in the traditional style of the academy) with extensive pagoda and bridgework, sponsored by the Ohtori Literature Club

There are many others, each more fantastical than the last. For example, the all-palm-trees tropical initiative that would turn the whole island into a gigantic greenhouse that suggests year-round summer uniforms and two-piece school swimsuits (anonymous sponsor) is getting a lot of attention but also some laughter.

Voting is simple: upon entry to the ballroom, each guest is provided with a basket of roses by a solemn, tuxedo'd attendant. There are fewer roses than entries, about half as many, and each table has an increasingly-impressively-sized bouquet on it as people bestow their favor by placing a rose in the corresponding vase. All are red except for, in each basket, a single white rose intended to designate a guest's top choice.

Past events have been attended in school uniform and it's still appropriate tonight, but somewhat implicit in 'event on a gorgeous yacht' is an invitation to dress up, and many have, tonight's hostess and chief organizer of the gala, Chihaya Izumi, among them. She is elegance in understatement in a creamy satin gown accented by pearls at her neck and earlobes. Opera gloves would make the outfit truly smashing, but this is something of a hands-on experience for her as she's asked to be everywhere at once, flitting about like a fairy godmaiden, patronness of spectacular events, so she's forgone them in favor of a simple chain of sapphires around her wrist. Her heels are quite high for such a busy night, but she seems to wear them effortlessly.

The way that her sunset hair is swept up in a sophisticated coiffure, only for a single tendril to have escaped the ropes of pearls and white rosebuds to curl, sweetly, at the nape of her neck, makes her look charmingly human instead of inhumanly aloof. She doesn't seem to have noticed.

Right at the moment, she is organizing the waiters, who are starting to circulate the edges of the event with trays of fabulous hors d'oevures; before that she consulted with the boat's captain about re-optimizing the route to account for an unexpected shift in wind direction; before that she broke up an argument between two competitors, and so on. Throughout all this she has been patient and fun, soothing and merry. Nothing seems to faze her, or even annoy her.

She isn't so much micro-managing as being solicitously consulted on every detail, but each time she finds herself in a hornet's nest, the matter is soothed away in moments. It's kind of fun to watch, like a freshwater river swirling beautifully through whitewater rapids only to come out even more lovely and calm on the other side.

OOC: This is a social until further notice, I'll be dropping occasional bits of flavor. Feel free to use the three pose rule!
Players are further invited to invent an imaginative or fantastical garden/forest landscaping proposal (though they can only be
involved in its IC sponsorship if they're Ohtori students, others are invited to note the sponsorship of an unplayed club or NPC).

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

An ultra expensive boat, and an Ohtori function to benefit the replanting and rejuvenation of Ohtori's grounds? Kasagami Araki, The One Engaged, walks like she owns the place when she arrives with a certain purple-haired Rose Bride at her arm. The grandeur and luxury of the boat is beyond even her experience, but the young woman is just enough of a social shark to know when to hide it. Though a sharp eyed attendee or suited servant might catch a brief unguarded moment of pure desire in her good eye.

All of the world's treasures could be hers, if she Revolutionizes the World. It's by no means her end goal. But the ambitious, change-seeking spirit that is Kassie's soul nevertheless hungers for many things, and she's never been one to look the gift horse of a miracle in the mouth.

And that look might just fit, as Kasagami took the invitation to dress up with her typical extremes. She's not wearing a dress, or even one of her classy numbers when she feels like donning the little black and red dresses. No, today in walks the Dread Pirate Araki. Her black coat flutters on her shoulders as she snappily steps in. On her feet are a pair of heeled jackboots of absurdly expensive leather. There's straps and buttons of silver that catch the light nicely, dark as night and with the usual iron toe she favors for any of her footwear. Further up, dark leather pants are vaguely obscured by a crimson skirt-like overcoat hanging to her knees. Grey fur covers most of it, leading into more dyed crimson leather, and silver buttons riding all the way up to and over her shoulders into long sleeves that end in more grey fur. Her usual gloves sit beneath.

A necklace of a silver cross sits around her neck, that furred coat split from the waist up and revealing a ruffled shirt up to the neck beneath all of it. Atop her head sits a wide-brimmed hat that has an eagle's feather in it. A silver eyepatch obscures her other eye, and she's even brought a faux-saber to completely the look.

As for her parrot? It's the gigantic golden eagle Beatrix sitting happily on her shoulder. Kasagami plucks a fluted glass from a nearby servant, sipping it. She doesn't yet approach the hostess, setting the glass down after she's had her fill. A basket of flowers, and she distributes the red ones almost at random. It's the white one she reserves.

"What do you think, Anthy? I like my fauna more than my flora. What best would please a liege's island, hmmm?" She asks of her companion indulgently. Eventually the young woman circles her way over to the club she's vaguely sponsoring. That would be the Kendo Club, of course. It might be Saionji's in truth, but the girl loves attention, and has stroked one heck of a check with her newfound windfall of wealth. The display is a brilliant forest of bamboo, thick and dense while still having just enough clearance that one could imagine really tiny ninja tossing shuriken or samurai slashing up bamboo as they clash together.

All done in miniature of course.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Takeo leans casually near the buffet, a plate of delicious meats on it. He has taken the option of dressing up, which very well might surprise people considering hsi normal semi slovenly appearance. His hair is pulled back and the long hair is braided instead of just in a pony tail. He wears a very formal version of his school uniform, which already ahs that traditional Ohtori Student Council Military look. A sash crosses his chest in school colors, his coat has a tail and is black trimmed in Orange. Takeo, maybe for the first time that anybody has seen, has an orange tie that goes beneath the vest under his jacket. The buttons are polished gold in color. All in all. Takeo looks .... Respectable and almost ... Knightly.

Taking out a phone, Takeo punches a few buttons into the thing, clearly sending a text. Then he takes a selfie of himself, and sends another text. Finally he puts the phone away and then pops a juicey piece of meet in his mouth. He nods his head in appreciation. He looks to the entrants for the contest as well. He mostly knows which one he is voting for, but he also is curious what others are doing.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Aohime enters the ballroom. She's dressed in a gauzy gown, a scarf wrapped chaotically loose around her neck, revealing parts of her collarbone below, and the hollow of her neck above. It's top white and blue swirls, worn asymmetrically off one shoulder. It's lower half is a blue wrap skirt which ends halfway down to show a diagonal strip along her lower thighs, before leading to another section of the skirt joined to it. And heels of course.

Chihaya must truly not care about Student Council politics to have sent the exiled an invitation. And Kozue Kaoru must have known that because she accepted. As they're on a boat, noone could say she's breaking the terms of her expulsion. Right?

The heavy mystique of her eyes and the scandal surrounding her demands attention, even as she hangs the basket of roses on her arm but she doesn't stop to speak to anyone. She heads straight for the display. Each minitiaturized masterpiece of her the Ohtori forests had received her attention, though her evaluation of each is inscrutable.

Her hands run down the length of a white rose, navigating the labyrinth of thorns as she looks upon the petals with a rueful look, when with a playful smile she places it in front of the Newspaper Club's display. Did she just damn them to failure - or gain them more attention which assures them an even greater boost? Only time will them tell.

More roses are placed down. Though perhaps pointedly - the water gardens are not selected. How strange - wasn't she a part of the swim team?

It's only after she's finished voting that she grabs an hors' deouvres off a plate and is faced down with a confident high schooler in a Tuxedo. "I can't help but notice that you don't have an escort Kaoru-kun. I feel compelled to address that by offering you a da-" He's cut off by a hand pressed lightly to his shoulder as he's brushed aside. He's given no answer as her other hand is at work with the placing the bite in her mouth.

She walks straight on by the shell shocked young man that has only started to process the idea of anger. Straight by to their busy hostess, as she interjects. "You've put on a wonderful event Izumi-san. Seems a shame that you're so occupied though..."

With a smile and a wink, she's already starting to walk away, "... it feels like you ought to let yourself have a little bit of fun."

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Nori Ankou has many personal opinions, some subtle, some overt, some controversial and some unquestionable. What is among the latter is a steadfast and firm stature as being pro-boat, as well as pro-garden.

Nori Ankou felt a certain swirling enchantment at the glitzing scope of the Yamato Nadeshiko. It's huge, it's like an entire other world -- but these things are not a total surprise to Nori Ankou.

Of course in a sense the one who has come is not Nori Ankou but Akai Mirai - for she dressed up in the latest garb for the occasion. Akamira is represented here and today by a dress, loosely in a princess cut, with a tulip-shaped skirt of dark red taffeta that's had threads of silver woven through it, especially near the hem. They shimmer. The top is a deeper shade of crimson with a gauzy illusion top over the decolletage and black opera-length gloves. Nori's hair has been pinned up and decorated with a single lush violet orchid, which complements a pair of amethyst earrings (not that Amethyst).

She has stayed away from AoHime, perhaps in case she is apprehended by the police.

Having gotten her basket with a smile, AkaMira has drifted counterclockwise, through the proposals and reproductions and the concepts. She has placed a red rose in the Sailing Club's proposal, passed over the newspaper and literature club, and is lingering now in front of a proposal from the sculpture club.

This one is partly a traditional reforestation, but partly more daring; several lagoons, made to be partially flooded by the sea, with broad spaces wherein truly large pieces made out of quarriable materials or even poured concrete can be left into the sea.

Akamira fingers the stem of her white rose, contemplating. Nori Ankou is meanwhile considering if she wants to hit the buffet.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru Fujino is the very picture of traditional on this yacht. Her arrival is noted, could almost be unassuming if not for the quiet command the Vice President holds over attention. ...Soon, she will pass on her position to another, graduate, and she looks with the maturity of that truth with calm and poise. She is not in her uniform, though a Student Council uniform is more than formal enough for such an event. Instead, she wears a winter kimono of rich blue, a cream obi decorated by tasteful petals, an ornate pattern of the seasonal wind on the garment. Soon, winter will give way to spring... And this is bright enough so suit that transitional period, touched by both. It is exquisite; her steps with it are perfect, her hands together as she walks, as she looks about the event.

She would not miss it, after all. It bears her approval.

Her steps are even, unhurried, and it seems that nothing could trouble her here; an air of pleasant authority surrounds her still, not in awe of her surroundings but quietly appreciative. ...The glint of diamond at her hand is easy to miss, easily concealed except when she lifts her hands.

And now, she carries a basket of roses. None in her own color, of course. Her eyes pass to Chihaya... to Kozue. She smiles at both. But as for the event...

Her white rose is placed quickly, at a smaller table, somewhat less ornate than many of the others. This entry includes something elegant, simple in its way--pragmatic above all. The binder is full of researched statements that show what has the best hope of growing well, to restore the forest to its glory as it was. ...Perhaps some extra touches, if all goes well, but it is a loving tribute to Ohtori in the time that they have been here.

It belongs to the Gardening Club.

...Her eyes slide to the One Engaged and her Rose Bride. Shizuru watches, while she listens to a girl telling her all about her hopes for the coming year, bright-eyed and well-dressed in brilliant green.

"...I'm sure you can make them all come true," she says simply.

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

At the door, Anthy Himemiya is offered a basket of roses. Rather than taking it, she plucks up the sole white rose from atop its scarlet sisters and continues on her way with it alone, leaving the attendant with an extra basket and perhaps a touch of puzzlement besides.

The straight, shoulder-skimming neckline and knee length skirt of Anthy's tea green dress give it a sweetly youthful quality, with textural and verdant embroidery that places it firmly within the realm of on-the-nose for this particular event. Its wearer seems utterly unconcerned with this mild faux pas, and even more unbothered by how it acts as a pretty little needle scratch juxtaposition to the piratical finery of the young woman she accompanies.

Then again, maybe that was the point...

She's affixed a bland, polite smile to her face, and floats along with her slender arm tucked into the elbow of that fierce overcoat of Kasagami's. "I'm just not sure, Araki-sama. They are all so pretty."

In her other hand she has that white rose, its stem clutched by fingers that hold a little more tightly than is strictly necessary. Her green eyes alternate between skimming the crowd and focusing on the displays. No matter how many times her Engaged pulls her along to these events, she never acclimates; the faces always blur.

Dress: https://i.imgur.com/jX70kpU.jpg

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Normally, Fuu doesn't like going to Ohtori events very much - but she takes the reconstruction of the forests and gardens as a personal matter. The 'terrorists' who set that fire were gunning for her, after all ... at least as far as reality goes. The media may have been told otherwise, but that's beside the point.

And while it is a school event, 'gala' does not exactly pair up with 'school uniform' in the appropriate dress column. Rather than going looking for a new ballgown or the like, though, Fuu has picked out a skirtsuit for the event: businesslike and fairly demure, yet elegantly fashionable and more than presentable for an event such as this. (It also helps ensure that her glasses seem like part of the outfit, rather than an accessory she'd be wearing anyway.)

She collects her voting roses on the way in, smiling and giving a polite bow to the attendant who provides them to her, and as she makes her first circuit of the ballroom, Fuu considers each of the proposals-in-miniature, as well as looking for familiar faces - both those she'd be happy to engage in conversation, and (in a handful of cases) those she'd like to avoid, but is prepared to be properly social towards if push comes to shove.

Noticeably, she does not place any of her roses on the first trip around.

<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

This isn't Southern Cross Island, and the ripple effect that the Dread Pirate Araki has on her surroundings is a little less marked here. She draws many longing looks from those who want to be with her, or to be here, and some of the braver might try to lure her away for a word or a dance. But, other than some soft sighs of regret that they did not also think to show up with bird in tow, the party-goers here are not so total revolving around her sun as they might have, were this event on campus.

Indeed, Aohime is in no danger here; this isn't Ohtori money, even if it is a party celebrating the future of the school. No, this is a private enterprise. That is, after all, the whole point -- to spend some money to attract more money, in order to make all of this a reality.

Chihaya glances at Kozue, pausing in her perpetual motion for a single magical moment. "This is my idea of fun," she says with a grin brighter than the rising moon; and then she's off again, nodding at Shizuru as she passes.

The orchestra strikes up a dance, and more than a few of the red roses are abruptly used for something other than their primary purpose. They are proffered boldly, especially by dashing young men. Masashi Takeda, one of the greats of the kendo team who is particularly good at motivating new students, separates himself from the display, which he's been pitching proudly at everyone in earshot, and makes a beeline for Akai Mirai while a couple of his buddies elbow each other, snorting.

"I, um," he stammers, the tips of his ears turning red. "Would you possibly be so kind as to consider honoring me with the honor, um, of an honorable dance?"

Bolder still is soulful-eyed Femio, a student of ballet at Infinity Institute. His gaze is huge and liquid as he drops to both knees in front of Kasagami... rose in his teeth. And another in his hands -- his white rose.

He holds it up towards her with a dramatic gesture. In fact, that's redundant. He is a dramatic gesture.

"Dance with me," he implores, with a mostly-successful affected Spanish accent. Or maybe he is Spanish. He does come off as a little bit foreign.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Aohime trades looks with Shizuru but there's nothing particularly hostile in the one returned tonight, save perhaps the low level of hostility that will always be there now. The fact they're on a boat by the bay should make her feel pretty secure. Shouldn't it?

But Chihaya causes her to pause in her walk, as she looks over her shoulder, offering a grin back, "Heh. You're an interesting one Izumi-san."

Perhaps Kozue thinks that the fun she has from this goes beyond just being dutiful.

Afterwards however, she walks right up to the one avoiding her, Akai Mirai - just as Masahi stammers out an offer to Nori. She doesn't say anything while he does. But after she places a hand on her own hip as she stands just at the flanks. "Well well. What do you think Nori-chan? This one seems like a real catch..."

She gives the kendo boy a playful look before fingering the edge of Nori's white rose with her opposite fingers, "... if you want to go play, I wouldn't mind holding your flowers for you so you can make your decision later."

There's something a little dark and stormy in her eyes as she asks a little viciously, "After all - what are friends for?"

<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Saionji is not present tonight -- there are some pretty epic rumors about the legendary duel between himself and the hostess which led to her infuriated departure from the Kendo Club -- but Juri is. She's standing in a corner, arms folded over a necklace probably worth the GDP a small country. Maybe even a large one, and gives Shizuru, who happens to be approaching her, a nod. Her heavy curls bounce with the motion.

"So," she asks, with a flicker of humor tucked into her eyes. "Any lingering regrets?" Now that she's about to graduate.


Guess who else is here? A rabbit who isn't being served on a plate.

He was NOT invited. Takeo did NOT realize that he was brought. How did he even get here?

"Mm," Merlin remarks from his feet, chewing on some bamboo that is probably from the Kendo display, though there are other bamboo stalks in some of the others (this is more of a statistical estimate by density of bamboo). "Pretty nice party."

Spring must have sprung at last, for the magic rabbit to have come out from under the kotatsu. "My nose itches, though."

Most people aren't predisposed to notice a speaking bunny, but Niramo and Fuu both happen to be nearby and in earshot and capable of putting bun and ny together and getting rabbit.


The crowd is rapidly getting thicker around Kasagami and Femio, as the music swells, which also means it is getting thicker around Anthy. Faces all seem to blend together, and for being such a marvelously open space on a boat, it is, nevertheless, quite hot in here, all of a sudden.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

A gentleman speaks to Nori and she half-turns her head, a stray lock of black hair hanging in front of one eye. She regards him with an enigmatic calmness of feature, and then she says to him in a softly penetrant voice, "This is quite a lovely display, don't you think...?"

And then the blue passes behind her. Masashi's heart may fall when he sees a storm cloud pass over the face of Nori Ankou, but she does not turn immediately to respond to either of them, instead just letting a beat of conversation pass as her eyes half-lid.

(Inwardly Nori thinks: Calling me such intimate names after everything... If you want me to forgive you after everything, keep your distance...! Just because you've gotten yourself expelled doesn't mean you get a free pass to come glide up to me.)

But her exterior is a placid porcelain sea. Her eyes turn towards Kozue and she smiles, saying to her, "There's no need, but it's kind of you to offer." She gathers up the three roses she has left, including that all-precious white one - and reaches out to collect Masashi's own. "Takeda-san, I'd be delighted. Just let me have one moment..."

His rose joins the vote for the statuary club's plan to get ahead of sea level rise and drown some statues.

AkaMira looks to AoHime and smiles, which doesn't quite reach her eyes. "If you'd like, though -?" She proffers the empty basket to her. "It's very kind of you to offer."

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

When he sees Chihaya Takeo's eyes almost bulge out of his head, but he manages to control that instinct of fear. He still has no idea what grade they got on that project. He just knows she didn't kill him after he did the work. So. Chances are he may have actually done good on a school project. However the woman still scares the bejesus out of him. Especially at school functions.

Which this sort of was.

Clearing his throat, Takeo tosses another piece of meat into his mouth and looks around the gala. He's about to go place his rose at the Literature Club's chosen display when he hears Merlin's voice. He freezes. Absolutely freezes. Still as a stature. Finally. with almost stone grinding slowness the wide fearful and surprised eyes turn to look down to Merlin. A piece of meat halfway to his lips is placed as slowly to his plate. "Ma...Ma... Merlin-kun...." He finally manages to stammer at the Kotasu freed rabbit.

He kneels and goes to scoop the bunny up looking around him quickly. "What in your beard's name are you doing here? They could cut you up and serve you! It's that fancy of a party!!" He whispers harshly.

he tries very hard not the think of Hasenfeffer.

He looks around again before directing his surprised gaze back to the rabbit. "Also. Glad to see you. I gave you a phone you know. Slid it under the Kotatsu and everything. You could have called." He pauses and eyes Merlin carefully. "Wait a second. Am I going to want my horse?" He looks around terrified. "Oh gods above. Did you bring Sparkles here?!"

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Shizuru. Nori. Kozue. Of all the social greats here, those three get Kasagami's immediate attention. At first, Shizuru is pointedly ignored. A bit of good old snubbing, probably in vengeance for Shizuru's own snubbing of her party some time ago. A rude, well honed knife Kasagami has been keeping for just such an event.

But let's not kid, she'll circle around to the VP soon enough. Kasagami hates and likes her 'mentor' all in one breath.

Kasagami is one to soak up attention, and after dragging Anthy through a small army of would-be lovers, imitators, and those looking to make a political or monetary buck off her name, she smoothly finds herself passing near Nori. Her smile to her vague enemy is a warm one. Much like Fuu in attendance, she doesn't actually have anything personal against the woman.

"Looking beautiful tonight, Nori-chan!" Grin! Wave! Beatrix lets out a call in turn.

There's of course her dear friend Niramo, who gets a wave as she ducks a slightly tipsy politician in attendance, though no time tospeak just yet. Kozue's attendance has her pausing with a scowl that's wiped away quickly enough. But then, suddenly, Femio!

Kasagami Araki's good eye narrows just a fraction in surprise at that soulful outpouring. It's sudden, blunt, honest, and bold in the extreme. Kasagami soothes her own ruffled feathers, and finds a smile inching it's way up her mouth again.

She laughs. It's not mocking, but a welcoming one. Her arm slips from Anthy's, and one long leg dips as she semi-kneels, taking Femio's wrist. Then, she tries to pull the young ballet star to his feet into a spin that's wide and dangerous. Kasagami is no gentle ballerina, she's far more partial to salsa and ball dancing. She tries to end with a flourish, and her other arm around Femio's shoulder like he's her best friend in all the world. A second white rose, her own, is in that hand too. It's added to what is of the pile that's in favor of her own club's votes.

"Anthy! Look at this bold young man! Coming up to a member of Ohtori's illustrious Student Council, and asking to dance without reason or even a bit of courting! Brilliant! Simply brilliant! What's your name!?" Kasagami Araki decides instantly that she likes this man.

She aims for a flick of the nose. Her voice is a little lower. "You're not my type at all, but with an offer like that? Let's light up the dance floor and show these people what it means to have a burning, brilliant heart! In turn..."

The scarred young woman's eye ends right back on her Rose Bride. The faux pas didn't go unnoticed.

"You'll dance with my dear friend Anthy too for everyone to see. Deal?" Smirk. It's loud enough that Anthy would hear. Kasagami is in a cheery, indulgent, and perhaps vengeaful mood tonight.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru watches Masashi Takeda approach Akai Mirai impassively for only a couple of moments. Only that long, however. Shizuru keeps her basket on her for the moment, and has little jewelry on beside her engagement ring. She doesn't need it, after alll.

She doesn't even appear to notice Kasagami snubbing her. Certainly nothing impacts her mood for the moment. Instead...

Shizuru comes to a stop beside Juri, looking out from the corner at the others. The amused look on her face remains... But something knowing catches her red eyes as she glances to Juri in return, knowing the humor there. It's a fair question, after all.

"Heh," Shizuru remarks, eyes casting out at the beautiful scenery, settling for a moment on Aohime.

"...Not one," she replies simply. "Ah, time comes on so quickly..."

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

"Tck." Kozue's expression looks mildly impressed as Nori offers her the empty basket after casting down her rose, "Trying to grow some fangs are we?" She says without missing a beat, "Keep it. You might need it..."

Her eyes give a glance over to the young man whose invitation Akamira just accepted, "...in case of sudden showers."

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

A hopeful young man demonstrates a fervor for Kasagami Araki, and the Bride on her arm simply watches with that same empty smile of hers. As if there is not an inherent embarrassment to her station already, so strangely attached to this rising social star with no care lost between them; as if it is not compounded by this passionate attention from Femio that ignores her presence altogether.

In truth, though those things gouge at her heart with the tips of fresh blades across the endless scar tissue there, she hardly notices it. They're felt but lost, paper cuts against the prickling mass of gazes. She feels each set of eyes, even as their faces are lost to a buzzing grey panic.

Anthy clamps her smiling lips down on that with all the steel of someone who has been swallowing screams for far longer than there has been an Ohtori Academy. Thus bidden by her Engaged she looks at Femio, and bobs a quick little nod, saying nothing at all. Both of her fingers curl around her white rose stem.

When her arm is released and Kasagami moves to twirl Femio, the girl in the tea green dress feels a faint relief, as if the eyes might shift then. She should know better, with her Engaged.

Anthy hears that proposed deal and takes a couple of steps back, quick and halting, still with the smile on her face. Then she freezes where she is, afraid that more movement might draw more eyes.

<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Habanera - Bizet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCrKncOpE7Q

"FEMIO IS MY NAME! I, milady, am the greatest dancer of Infinity, and of your lifetime as well! Gladly will I accept your offer, for my radiance on the dance floor must be shared with all the maidens of the world! It cannot be reserved for any single person, even one as fabulous as yourself!" (Nowhere in this response did he so much as look at Anthy, though.)

There's a pause.

He holds out his hand to Kasagami, unperturbed by the flick and already guiding her out onto the floor, since she seems to have consented to being temporarily claimed.

"And what is YOUR name?"

Nearby, Takeda is beet red as he escorts Akai Mirai onto the dance floor. He knows her -- he remembers her. Not from the world of fashion but from the world of swords. "Are you still in the fencing club?" he enquires, as he does his best to not step on Nori's feet or otherwise humiliate her in anyway. He's not much of a dancer, though.

<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Juri watches Shizuru watch Tsuru's proteges.

"Such cliche," she remarks, drier than anyone here, since the drinks flow very freely (albeit, given the ages of most, largely without alcohol, though cards aren't being checked). "You're lucky, then, if that's the case."

She runs a hand through her hair, and ornaments glitter there, they sparkle. She does not. "I cannot say the same..."


Chihaya, in passing, glances at Takeo... and the rabbit. She blinks once, blinks twice, then shakes her head, deciding to pass it off as a misunderstanding. Which it must be. Because magic isn't real.

She's a bit glassy-eyed as she wanders towards a powder room. Maybe she had better take a short break.


Merlin stares after Chihaya as she leaves, then looks back up at Takeo. This is now an easier task than before, as he's in Takeo's arms rather than on the floor.


He stares and stares at the boy.

"Like I could miss such an event. People like you cannot be trusted to behave properly at balls."

COIN FLIP: Nori Ankou flips a coin. It lands on tails!
<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Another person calls her Nori-chan and there is the tiniest of exhalations from the muse of the Red Future, even as her eyes return to Kozue's. They remain guarded. "... I don't understand," she begins to say, but then the energy of the room is gently disrupted by Femio's outburst.

She accepts Takeda's hand then, and turns away from Aohime with an air of sufficient vigor that her hair bounces a little. As she is drawn onto the dance floor, she is able, swiftly, to feel that Takeda is not the invisible choir's greatest gift to dancing -- but she takes a rather sedate pace as well.

"Oh - I am - but I know I've been missing meetings all winter... I'm quite a reprobate, but I've had a wonderful time, whatever may come," Nori says. Her eyes end up crossing over Kozue from over Takeda's shoulder along the way, for a moment, "I hope that I won't be--"

The last word, which started with an ex, dies in her throat when the characteristic curls of Juri Arisugawa are also glimpsed.

Nori changes tack, to ask Takeda as her hand rests on his shoulder lightly, "And you are in the kendo club, aren't you...?"

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

As Chihaya walks past Takeo blinks and stares wide eyed in fear at raises a hand to wave innocently at her. He then looks to Merlin with a raised eye brow. "I ... What?" Takeo says looking at Merlin in absolute shock. "I will have you know that at BOTH of the balls I have been to I have acted like a proper young man. I even danced! With Mai-chan!" He leaves out the part where at both balls monsters have tried to murder him and everyone around him. That is just something better left unsaid. With a free hand he adjusts his Uniform jacket with a tug. "And I danced well darnit." He nods once as if that settles it.

Suddenly. Again remembering that hes on a boat filled with PEOPLE and speaking to a RABBIT, Takeo gulps and heads toward a corner. "I'd show you I can dance and be civilized, but Mai-chan isn't here, and I have zero interest in discovering how her Dragon feels about me dancing with another girl." He looks Merlin in the eyes. "No really. Her Dragon scares the hell out of me Bunny-kun. There is like. Fire and teeth. But mostly the fire." He adjusts his collar as if it's too tight. "Think they have any Soda here?"

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

There's a faint, musical laugh at Juri's response. "It is, isn't it?" Shizuru has not taken a drink herself... Though cards indeed aren't being checked. Not yet, at least. "I suppose it's not entirely true, no. I can think of... One," she muses, watching Akai Mirai for a moment appraisingly. "Perhaps two. But it sounds better to say I'm full of nothing but hope for the future at graduation, doesn't it?"

She watches the social dance--and some of the real dance, for that matter. She does not much need to watch Juri and her beauty, or her beautiful things. "...But we aren't the type to be scrupulously honest about such things, are we?" This said low, only for Juri, amused, before she shakes her head. "You'd almost imagine nothing was going to change."

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

At least Femio is one person who is not looking at her, comes a bitter tendril of thought. It joins the others in a dark tangled nest that leaves room for little else but the pain and resentment.

All beneath that smile, though her lips are pressed more tightly now.

Her bare shoulders have a sheen to them, conjured by a sweat less dewy than fearful. Anthy resists the urge to fan herself with one hand, too certain that any more movement will bring eyes her way. It doesn't help that the bottoms of her big glasses lenses are starting to fog.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami, somewhere amidst her initial spin, eyeing Anthy so placed and accepting, and the upswell of music? Makes a mental note to take a fire poker to Setsuna to find out more about this glorious nut of a ballerino. If there's two things she likes, it's showboatmanship without restraint and dedication to perfection in a craft.

Femio is both of these things, and she can't even find it in herself to be too mad when she realizes that the man doesn't even know her name. Her arm tenses, and it's not all that difficult to resist the urge to put pirate boot to dancing face. Instead, led onto the dance floor, the young woman kicks things off with a backstep. She pulls Femio close, dips in something that would be back breaking to anyone less flexible, and then lets the man do the same for her.

"Kasagami Araki, Disciplinary Executive of the greatest school in Tokyo, no, the world! Ohtori Academy! But you can call me Kasagami. Femio-kun!" She starts, introducing herself and then stepping up as she flows into a ballroom style dance with just enough spice and step to it that one's feet must be quick to keep up. She's all flash and exhiliration, a testing dance that both shows off her athletic self, her surity of body, and yet leaves plenty of room for Femio to take over and show his very distinctive style. She works with her temporary partner, even moreso as she honestly seems to like the guy.

"Perfect. If you're given to dance, then you should share your skill, your pride, your AMBITION with the world! That pure joy, that thrill-filled act of moving with tempo, with a desire to express yourself in a way mere words can't!? Why not seize it, hone yourself to perfection, and then beyond it to show everyone what true skill is!?" Encourages Kasagami in her usual way. To see brilliant people shine is something that Kasagami loves, and pushing others to it by force even moreso.

Not that it's likely necessary, but they're showing off here. At least it gives Anthy a reprieve from her Engaged's loud ways.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

There's a light twinkle in her eyes as if to suggest to Nori that might find out, but she doesn't clarify further. Femio's outburst draws her attention at the same moment. And Takeda and Nori are off to the dance floor.

She watches them. There's nothing jealous about her scrutiny, but there is a light sense of hostility.

Femio however takes Kasagami out to the dance floor. And Kozue watches the Engaged for a short time, before her eyes search the ball room.

It's perhaps no surprise when her footsteps take her away from that spot. She was never much one for standing still.

The Rose Bride is hopeful that fewer are looking at her. Her hopes might be dashed away some when Kozue comes up behind her, and asks lightly from close range, "All alone at the party are you?"

It's a light whisper, adding almost immediately, "How's your piano practice coming along? Keeping up with it?"

If Himemiya deigns to turn around, her eyes flash a little dangerously, "...feels like it would be easy to me when you only have to keep up with one song."

Her arms are laced together in front of her, but she lifts one up in a gesture that feels magnanimous in her change of the subject. Though the question feels anything but - "How's Tenjou doing lately?" Her expression seeks to search the inscrutable Rose Bride for any sign of... something, "Surely of all people... you'd know, right?"

<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Femio's dancing style is 100% passion, 0% technique.

In fact, he's actually kind of really bad, at least by any sort of conventional definition of what makes a good dancer. He's not so bad that he magically crosses some invisible boundary into good because of the beauty of his heart. He might be so bad that he crosses over into good because he's hilarious, but that's the best he can get, at least tonight.

He's better with bulls, honestly.

In any event: Kasagami is swept up utterly into a fiery and loud experience that involves a lot of spontaneous carnation petals, the occasional castanet, and his attempts to lead the dance by lifting her (she's quite a bit taller) into dramatic poses over his head.

"BRAVO, MAIDEN!" he shouts, at points. "OLE!!"

His eyes shine especially from her speech. "Truly, if this is discipline at Ohtori, its students are fortunate indeed!" Grabbing both of her hands, he plants his heels and starts to spin her at dangerously high speed. Wind tears through her hair, making it stream out behind her.

She's going to crash into Takeda.

She DEFINITELY crashes into Takeda, and he frantically lets go of Nori as he's shot like a pool ball across the room and into a wall, which he peels off of flat as a piece of paper, fluttering to the ground. Up until that point he'd actually been acquitting himself pretty well, keeping up with her gamefully.

"I think it's okay," he'd said, "To take a break from your club for something mo-aaaaaaa!!"

Femio is still spinning, having let go of Kasagami at the apex of their acceleration. He's on one foot, a castenet clicking out of time above his head.

And Kasagami finds her hands in Nori's newly-emptied ones instead.

"...I need a drink," says Juri, and excuses herself from Shizuru's side.

"I NEED A DRINK!" pipes up Merlin, still in Takeo's arms. "But not soda. Get me a Bloody Mary, extra carrots!"

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Extra .... Carrots .... " Takeo says the corner of his face twitching slightly. "Melrin-Kun I'm not sure I'm ALLOWED to get you a -" He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. "Ya know what? Let's find out." He then strides towards the place where drinks live. The on board bar. He walks in like he owns the place, though clearly he's under age and leans on the counter. "I need two Bloody Marys." He pauses and eyes the bartender and in a very serious voice, as if he was some sort of bad ass in a western movie, he says. "And make em with extra carrots." He nods, picks up a tooth pick and puts it in his mouth to chew the end of to complete the image.

'Drunk Merlin.' Takeo thinks as he leans on the bar with both elbows and his back. 'What could possibly go wrong?' He swishes the toothpick to the other side of his mouth and looks cross eyed at it. "oo. Mint Toothpicks!"

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru glances at the dance. She doesn't comment on it. She chuckles lightly at the term of maiden, however, just before the two pairs of dancers... mix, more or less. Juri indicates that she needs a drink. "Of course," she answers, more amused than before. It works for her well enough.

...She slips out of the corner, in the meantime, taking the long way around to the abandoned Rose Bride, where Kozue is talking lightly. Soon she's slipped into the vicinity, right at the question.

"Why hello," she remarks. "What a pleasant surprise."

Somewhere along the line, she got a drink. She sips it.

<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The bartender snaps to, blending carrot with a slightly off-put expression, but he gets paid way too much to question peoples' knowledge or legality of cocktails.

On the barstool next to Takeo is a tower of shadow that, it transpires, is waves and waves and waves of silken hair, attached to a most comely head. The woman has skin like snow and lips like blood and seems a little old to be here, maybe she's a teacher? Or maybe she's just a very mature senior. In any event, she wears her strappy violet gown very well indeed.

"Come here often?" she drawls at boy and rabbit, who blinks and stares at her. He's about to say something, but she reaches out and bops him playfully on the nose with a gracefully outstretched finger, after which he simply quivers silently in Takeo's arms, apparently electing to leave the kid to his own devices.

"You seem a little young for a Bloody Mary," she adds, her black eyes dancing with merriment. "Though that rabbit... he seems like an old soul."

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

There is a touch of a reprieve, though it's hard for Anthy to recognize and appreciate that with her efforts so divided between choking down her enochlophobia and nurturing bitter resentment. Though she's hardly watching it, the showy spectacle of Kasagami and Femio's dance steals plenty of attention from the Bride.

It doesn't feel that way to her, though. The incisive pressure of all those eyes doesn't go away when they do; the wounds they left still weep fear and misery.

And it was never meant to last. From the churn of teeming pirahnas to the jaws of a girl who would be a shark, goes the prey.

Kozue's whisper slinks around sloped shoulders; the Bride shows she has heard, by the way her head rotates just a touch, giving Kozue the angle of her cheekbone and the curl of eyelashes above it.

It's a moment before she responds. "Oh, Kaoru-san. You are probably right, I am not much good at anything. But it's so nice in the music room."

A pause. Then she does turn, slowly, catching the end of that flash in Kozue's eyes. There's that white rose cradled in her hands before her, gathered up to her chest now with bare folded arms.

When she asks about Utena Tenjou, all that Kozue receives is utter, utter blankness. The smile is still there; it has never left. Her eyes are on Kozue, open and visible above the lingering fog lining the bottom of glasses lenses. They might as well be a doll's eyes for all the emotion that shows there. Her eyebrows are slack, even.

"I am with Araki-sama," she says.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Merlin-Kun is like thousands of years old." Takeo says not really catching that Merlin is quivering. He turns to look at the woman carefully and then to the rabbit before his eyes go to the woman's again. "The last time I was in the Bay I had bad Calamari." he says with a shrug. To be fair, Proto-Daimon make absolutely terrible Calamari. Or food in general. "Right now, I'm just here." He looks into the Bloody Mary not really sure if he should drink the thing. Instead he offers his hand to the woman. "Takeo Akamizu. How do you do miss?"

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Nori says to Takeda as she lowers her eyes, "Yes, you're absolutely right, I -"

Her eyes come up to find that Takeda has been removed from her immediate area. Nori's hand stays floating in the air where it had been on Takeda's shoulder, just... staying there for one second, then two, before she realizes that Kasagami has put herself there.

The eyes of the red future focus slowly on what's going on dead ahead of her.

Her voice speaks, a little distantly. "Araki-san," she says, "is this really alright? I trust you aren't disappointing," up comes a pinky finger, "someone else, cutting in with such force."

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.


"In Tokyo?" Sayaka leans back on the metro seat, speaking to herself softly enough that the rush of steel keeps her comment private. "Why don't you just ask for a bit of Mars while you're at it?"

  • * *

It's her first time out in public wearing the fruits of her recent shopping trip at Easter Department Store, and Sayaka is anxious. She's sporting a casual black blazer with sleeves rolled up (along with their white dress shirt) to the elbow, and skinny black slacks with leather shoes. Her recent efforts to become prettier had had her trending to a more and more feminine style, so this new look of hers is a special shock, not least to Sayaka herself. Sayaka is ready to walk right past the rose attendent, too nervous to pay attention to her surroundings. The tuxedoed gentleman is forced to take a half step along with Sayaka, and, almost plaintively, offer out the basket. "Your roses, miss."

Sayaka looks down at the basket, startles, then glances around instinctively for Madoka to help her out. "Sorry, I'm t-taken," she apologizes, redfaced, and flees into the party over his equally stammered objections.

Of course, there she soon discovers everyone has a basket. Resisting the urge to dunk herself in the punch bowl to cool her cheeks, Sayaka instead takes a break against a garden trellis, scanning the crowd. She doesn't find who she was looking for, but she does find someone else, and makes a path towards her. She pauses, however, seeing that she's about to start dancing.

Sayaka lifts a fist to shoulder level approbatively. "Ganbare, Norin," she whispers with a grin. She starts to sidle away to avoid distracting this new couple, but instead yelps (along with those nearby) as Kasagami takes out Takeda in a mutually unwilling tackle.

It's not obvious what to do now, but... Nori is free, no matter how you look at it.

"Um, hey, Norin," Sayaka says with a grimace and a wave.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami has her hands in Nori's own, and she's only vaguely aware of just how she got there. Sure, she knows in concept, but the specifics are a bit of a blurr. Even for someone who's a fan of oddities and general violent chaos like this, her mind spins as much as her hair does. Her hat materialized at some point onto another dancer's head, and Beatrix circles high above. Her ties that keep her glorious, obscenely fabulous locks in their style are lost, leaving her in a wild tangle that's at once grace, and yet almost animalistic after that wild spin. It looks good on her, a true pirate given her outfit.

~A few moments ago~

Well, she'll take that absurd kind of best, and roll with it. Kasagami keeps her toes mainly through virtue of steel, skill, and a whole lot of spinning. A whirling vortex of fury and petals. Suspiciously, carnations mix with rose petals of crimson from nowhere. A beautiful display that has castanets clacking, and even the young man trying to lift her up like some kind of raging bull.

It's not unfair, Kasagami is often bullish. The taller young woman even helps with a jump and really strong core muscles actually keeping her up there for a moment. Kasagami's mind is spinning as she tries to compensate for that utter lack of skills. That passion keeps her from tossing the young man off the boat in annoyance. It's a challenge, and by goodness does one of the StuCo in attendance answer.

"Ole indeed! Cast me in red that my eyes might burn, a rose over my heart, thorns cutting to the bone! As someone who will soon be the President, glorious crimson shall lead Ohtori and Tokyo to new heights!" Leave it to Kassie to reflexively sell herself to the public of Ohtori while being inside of a fabulous disaster zone that is Femio's pure, magical awful of dancing. Even her wrists protest angrily at the rate they're spinning, Kasagami having to work not to trip at such speeds.

Then she's crashing into Takeda. She doesn't even eye the young man her strong form just body-checked into a wall. A small flick of her head, and her locks brilliantly flutter even as her coat does.


Beatrix lands with a motion far gentler than such a big bird has any right to. Kasagami lets out a sigh as the world stops rotating, somewhat. A laugh. Woozy and trying to not let it show, she lets Nori lead after that.

"It is absolutely fine, Nori-chan! It's been a while, looking as wonderful as ever! Don't worry, this is nothing more than a dance. I wouldn't rob someone blind, that's just rude, or dissappoint someone so clo..." Kasagami Araki winces, and almost misses a beat. For some reason, there's a feeling like a thorn in her heart. Why aren't the eyes before her so dark? Why isn't it hair of dark green?

Kasagami's eye suddenly narrows in anger, but not exactly at Nori. She offers a spin to the other young woman.

"Show everyone what you can do, Nori. And call me Kasagami, huh?" A half-hearted wink, and she's stalking off the dance floor abruptly.

Anthy gets a side eye, and more importantly at the crowd of certain faces around her.

"You really should try dancing with him, Anthy! He's unique!" Even Kassie can be polite, sometimes.

Sayaka too, gets a look, an outright vicious grin as she moves by. It's over to Anthy, and by extension, Shizuru and Kozue.

"Well there's a face I haven't seen in a while! Kozue-chan! Did you ever find another school to call home?"

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

It comes as a slight surprise but no small relief to Fuu that the reason she normally avoids Ohtori social events seems not to be a factor this evening: the girls who consider themselves at the top of the social pecking order, who consider it their right and duty to enforce that order upon those they see as beneath them, are either not trying to enforce said order or are simply not in attendance at all. Perhaps that's due to the nature of the event; perhaps it's due more to Kasagami's presence - and certainly, given how Ohtori's Disciplinary Executive seems to view Fuu as some manner of peer, Fuu suspects that anyone who drew Kasagami aggro for the sake of her own social self-reinforcement would find their efforts sabotaged before the evening was out. Or, as a third possibility, it could simply be the businesslike way in which she's attired.

Whatever the reason, Fuu sees no need to keep fretting over it. She simply collects a glass of sparkling cider (or something similarly fizzy yet non-alcoholic; this is a student event!) and turns more of her attention towards the displays -

And then, Things Happen.

Fuu has the benefit of a relatively safe distance from the interaction of bodies in motion and a comparatively unimpeded view; for a moment, she wonders whether some aspiring physicist might be able to reduce the chain of reactions to mathematical equations without recourse to the famous-yet-fictional Dynamics of an Asteroid. Then the bodies, if not precisely hitting the floor, come to a comparative rest. And a rabbit calls out for a cocktail.

Ostensibly looking over some of the displays with closer attention to their contributors, Fuu deposits the first couple of her roses - one for the Newspaper Club's recreation of the original layout, one for the Gardening Club ... if the Falconry Club submitted a proposal, she's giving that one a good close look as well. The look is quite genuine, too: she's very curious about what her potentially favorite Ohtori club had to offer. But mostly, she's circumnavigating the hall to try and intercept Merlin before the loquacious lapine can lay paws to glass ... or get into any other form of trouble.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Kozue hopes someone is filming what just happened on the dance floor. She'd certainly like to watch it on repeat. Shizuru slips her way right into the conversation. "Isn't it?" Her tone implies a little that it's anything but that, but she's too afraid to challenge her here, in public. Such an insult might not be forgotten.

Just like she'd never forget what happened between them.

Instead her expression just settles on her for a moment, before falling back upon the Rose Bride. There's a twinkle that brings mirth to what was mirthless only moments ago at Anthy's answer. "Oh I don't know about that. Everyone's good at something. I think you're definitely good at... least two things."

But searching those doll's eyes she can't find a single touch of emotion in the Rose Bride's expression. It's a little unsettling actually. That Utena and her had been together for so long and...


A little disturbed, Kozue says quietly - because she doesn't want to give Ends of the World any reason to think she's even more indiscrete with secrets, "Of course you are. You're the Rose Bride after all. You can only do what your Engaged commands you to do..."

It's at that moment she leans in, keeping a single eye fastened on her expression, as she says something low right beside her, "...but I don't think Tenjou told you to learn my brother's favorite song." A beat, "But keep acting like you don't play favorites if it suits you."

It's perhaps fortunate that over Anthy's shoulder she spies a certain someone, and suddenly all of her motivation to stand mess with the Rose Bride while standing next to the person who introduced her to the horrors of anoxia goes right out of her.

Leaning back and away from Anthy, she offers a suggestion to both Shizuru and her, "You girls have fun. Maybe put yourselves out there a little more... it's a party after all..." Giving one last look at Shizuru, she's about to start gliding away when suddenly Kasagami moves up to them. And that stops her cold for just a moment, "Well the more things change the more things stay the same Araki. I've remained committed to my life as a consummate delinquent. And you..."

She's already starting to walk past Kasagami, "...still haven't learned anything resembling tact." Who is she to call someone out on that?

All the same she's already walking away, along the edges of the party, trying to remain out of Sayaka's line of sight.

Right up until she ambushes her with a simple, "Hey you." It has a certain echo of something to the other girl, she gives Nori a look out of the corner of her eyes, but her focus is notably on the blunette.

"Glad you made it... I was getting a little bored wandering around without my..." Almost immediately she slides an arm almost possessively around her forearm, "...favorite escort."

There's a sidelong lean, as she presses the lightest peck on Sayaka's left cheek right in front of Akamira. "Ready to show your girlfriend a good time?"

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Thank you; that means quite a bit," Nori answers Kasagami, eyes lowering during the few remaining steps. When Kasagami spins away, Nori lowers her arm and watches her go, murmuring to herself soft words.

Are they a farewell? No: they're 'I'll call you what I please.'

Nori's head turns slightly and her eyes widen as she drinks in the startling sight of Sayaka. She had no idea she was there, but now she is - she's snuck in, like the night. Nori shifts a little from one foot to another. Internally she is not sure what to think, how to feel. But -

She fumbles and finds something. The mask of Akamira slips and Nori approaches her. "Sayaka-a," she says, drawing out the last syllable with soft fondness as she claps her hands together once, lightly. "Have you already given away all of your flowers...? I -"

Enter Kozue.

Nori's mouth hangs open and her expression freezes. Her eyes flick to Kozue. Back to Sayaka. Kozue. Sayaka. Kozue. Sayaka. At this point Kozue lays a smooch on Sayaka's cheek.

Kozue. Sayaka. Kozue. Sayaka. At this point Kozue says 'girlfriend.'

Nori raises a hand, a single index finger slightly upraised.


<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Fuu finds Merlin on a barstool, alone -- because Takeo has been dragged off, onto the now-emptied dance floor. Femio, absent a partner, has forgotten his casual promise to Kasagami and vanished into the crowd with only the occasional lowing of a bull or carnation to mark his passage. Takeda seems unlikely to recover from his treatment, either.

The rabbit looks up at the Magic Knight of Wind as she approaches, but says nothing. His nose twitches a lot, his whiskers tremble. An ear flicks.


"How do I do," said the woman in purple, "What a charming colloquialism."

She slid off the stool, took Takeo's hand in her own. Her skin was very cool, like marble, with a faint bite more worthy of ice.

"Come find out, 'Takeo Akamizu'," she invited -- no, it was more of an order, really -- and with an almost hypnotic sashay, swept him into the next song.


This latest offering of the orchestra is a slow dance, swelling into the promise of romance for anyone who wants to take the field. Many do, and the ballroom floor fills with a different kind of garden.

The garden of youth...


Takeo's dance partner is as good as Femio was bad; she steers him effortlessly while still making it look like he's leading, filling in any and all of his deficiencies with her own strengths.

They are myriad.

The woman's eyes are like endless space as she spins with Takeo. She isn't pressed so close to him as to be inappropriate, but there's an intimacy shared between them nonetheless. It's impossible to avoid, dancing to a song like this, in a place like this.

Crystal-refracted chandelight (candles on chandeliers) dances with them, too.

"Dragon or no dragon," she murmurs, "You should really do this more often. A soul like yours... was born to dance."

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Shizuru's approach registers with the Rose Bride, though her eyes remain on the Blue Future before her -- with the question of Utena so recent and fresh in the air, she may in fact be avoiding the eyes of the outgoing Vice President. As ever, it is hard to tell.

Kozue says she is good at at least two things; Anthy says nothing, just stands there.

Kozue says she can only do what the Engaged says; the girl in the tea green dress quietly takes it.

Kozue accuses her of playing favorites...

"As you wish, Araki-sama. Please excuse me."

The Rose Bride turns and, with her head inclined down and eyes lowered, paces off obediently in search of Femio. With her back to the Kozue, Shizuru, and the newly-arrived Engaged, she relaces trembling fingers around the stem of the white rose.

When Anthy finds him, she walks up slowly with her eyes still lowered and says in a quiet voice, "Araki-sama sent me to dance with you."

As strange approaches go, this one ranks up there, and comes off as passive and diffident. It's not meant to be appealing; Anthy hopes for the embarrassment of rejection over being dragged out to the dance floor again. Maybe she could hide out by the buffet, after...

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Takeo doesn't really have a choice he finds, as he blinks and finds himself on the dance floor with the mysterious woman. "Since you asked. I am certainly not old enough for a Bloody Mary. I also have no idea what's in a Bloody Mary. I'm hopeful Merlin isn't turning into Bunnicula." He shudders as he takes up the dance with the woman. He isn't a bad dancer (as advertised to Merlin) but he isn't near as good as the woman he finds himself dancing with. He looks into the woman's eyes and is nearly lost before he shakes his head. He had to remember there is a certain Red head with a large Dragon.

Which the woman mentions. He blinks a few times and looks to the woman. Takeo's eyes scanning her head to toe to see if he can place her at all. "My soul?" He asks slightly confused. "Dragons. Huh. You heard my Dragon comment huh?" he laughs nearly convincingly, which is to say it's more of a nervous chortle. "Just metaphor. I doubt Mai-Chan actually has a dragon. But she is likely to light me on fire." He clears his throat. "So. Um. Where did you learn to dance? You're very good."

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru smiles behind Anthy at Kozue. ...Then she steps around to conversational distance. ...There is only a glance for the coming Sayaka before she answers Kozue with that same smile. She does not entirely interrupt their conversation however, content to let it play out. ...As Kasagami arrives. "Ah, once again," she comments. "How pleasant."

A dip of her head to Kasagami. "How lovely to see you, Araki-kun. I trust you're enjoying the party. You put on quite the show for us."

Only then does she glance back to Anthy again. ...She sees her turning, pacing off for the dance. She sees her approach. ...She wonders, for a few moments.

But the song is turning for a slow dance. Shizuru takes a brief moment and--

"Araki-kun," she voices. "It seems your partner has run off. Aren't you going to ask me to dance?"

She smiles. Whatever is in her expression, she does not explain.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami gives a good, solid committed shrug of someone not caring at all. It's a drawn out, dramatic motion. "Well, I'm glad you've finally found yourself somewhere you fit in, Kozue. Have fun tonight, hmm? At least you're not my problem anymore." A chuckle. Tact indeed remains something alien to the outgoing girl, and she can't find it in her heart to deny it. Not when there's green and black dancing in the dark corners of her mind.

Kasagami pretends not to catch any whispered words from Nori. She simply basks in her own self-satisfied glow.

Lips purse. Fingers rub her chin. A kiss spied, and there's just confusion in Kassie's face for a moment. Sayaka. And Kozue!? When? How?

The Falconry Club totally has a place of it's own in all the entries. A forest, but a far thinner one, perfect for a soaring hunter of a bird to swoop down and catch it's prey. Whatever her rose's placement, mostly out of loyalty, Kassie did put a red rose in that particular would-be vision of Ohtori. And of course, an eagle feather to join it.

Anthy is gone, taking her comment way too literally. But Kasagami isn't one to stop a disaster in the making when it promises to be that entertaining. She chomps a finger sandwhich, waiting for the absurd sparks to fly.

Enter one Shizuru, outgoing VP. Kasagami offers a small bow, one hand folded over her chest in vague gallantry. While dressed like a pirate.

"You know me, Shizuru-chan! What's worth doing without putting your heart and soul into it, right? I wouldn't consider it living at all if I didn't." A chuckle, and then she fully looks to the woman. For the moment, Anthy is deprived of her Engaged's stare.

Kasagami answers the call though, hand offered palm up. "For you? Always. Dance with me. It might be our last opportunity."

And then she sweeps into that slow dance, hands at side and shoulder in a showy motion as she leads in. Though sedate in pace, she has a tendancy to range, motions grand. As with anything physical, Kasagami excells in a natural, gifted sort of way made more thorough with her obsession with perfection.

Her gaze is all Shizuru's. She respects the woman too much to do anything less. "Getting engaged, about to graduate...you know, I honestly think I'm going to miss you when you're gone, Shizuru. Dancing off into the life of an adult. Tell me, what dream are you going to reach for in that far-off world?"

A chuckle. "You are too dangerous a woman to settle down and only be someone's bride, after all." The Student Council has yet to smash the world's shell. Kasagami finds it hard to imagine Shizuru not being there for that Miracle, for what she desires to be own.

<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Femio was on his knees in front of another girl: Chihaya, who has returned to the ballroom. She was on her way to take care of the resurgence of a brewing fight between the Sculpture and Swimming Club installations (which both feature water, but very differently, so there's a rivalry there as they probably correctly suspect that they can't both be selected) when he presented himself -- with another white rose that he probably has been filching out of vases all night.

Her eyebrow is raiiiiiisinnnnnng, her mouth opening for an epic takedown, when--

"Araki-sama sent me to dance with you."

Sensing the impending doom of his current course, Femio changes immediately.

"My apologies, white maiden, but it seems my hands and heart have been claimed by another! Yes, let us depart once more to the realm of dance!"

He grabs Anthy right up and drags her into the fray, which to him is less of a garden and more of a vast, undulating ocean of limbs and hair and skirts. One that he's eager to surf within.

In the next forty-five seconds he will step on her feet three times, throw her into the air and catch her twice, all while worshipping at the altar of her beautiful green eyes, her striking violet hair, which he pays homage to, at length.

"Truly you are magnificent, my lady..."

Chihaya, meanwhile, doesn't quite make it to the displays. The crowd is thick, and as she works her way through it, she emerges onto the edge of the dancing to see Takeo and the woman in purple.

No recognition crosses her face, but unconsciously her hand drifts up to clench at collarbone-height.


"Mai-chan," the woman replies to Takeo, sotto voce, "What a charming name. So short. So sweet. Just like the mayfly lives of humans..."

She lets him stare at her. There's much to see, and with a quirk of amusement on her very red lips, she stretches into a spin, twirling so that he can get her from every angle.

"I don't know if anyone can really learn to dance," she murmurs. "Some are born with that fire in their soul, and some are not."

She spins back in, into him. "You and I, we were made to burn. So let your Mai-chan protest. I think you have nothing to fear... from fire."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu takes a seat next to Merlin, getting a refill on her ginger ale. Once that's done and the bartender has turned his attention elsewhere, she leans over a little to address the rabbit. "Did you mean to draw attention to yourself, Merlin-san?" she asks, fairly good-naturedly.

(And one of her roses is also in the vase for the Falconry Club's proposed layout. A little too sparse to warrant the white rose, in Fuu's opinion, but worthy of support.)

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka's shoulders jerk as Nori hits on her big mistake immediately. Her smile is a little strained. "Eheh, well, I didn't want to vote on any until I could text them to Madoka-chan... she's in the club after all..." The grain of truth there is that she does indeed think it's a good idea when she says it. Madoka knows flowers better, and Sayaka is getting a tiny bit uncomfortable plants lately.

"What're you up to?" she changes the subject swiftly. "Besides being too hot for that wannabe king to handle..."

Sayaka jumps a little when Kozue surprises her, and keeps glancing between Nori and Kozue nervously, which probably leaves Nori expecting something different for a bit longer, preventing her expectations from ramping up a little more gradually.

"H-hey," she replies, flushing again. "I was just looking for--"

It's just a little kiss on the cheek, so the metaphor we should use is getting tased gently in the head.

"--that kind of thing is..." Sayaka's brain has disconnected and some sort of lizard instinct is guiding her tongue to try and finish a sentence she's thoroughly forgotten.

"...with Kozue," Sayaka explains to Nori nonsensically. She gives it an embarrassed little nod at the end to try and bluff, leaning shoulder-to-shoulder with the shorter bluenette. She covers Kozue's hand with hers to keep it on her forearm, proud and shy all at once.

The song changes and Sayaka, musical mermaid, is easy to rock on such waves. "Sorry I haven't explained sooner," Sayaka tells Nori, more lucidly. "I never thought graduation would be the last thing on my mind right now, but that's the kind of weeks it's been." Sayaka's smile seems sad at first, but it isn't, really. Not at all. That's memory in her eyes.

How much could have happened in such a short period?

"I think for now though," Sayaka uses the hand covering Kozue's to separate it from her bared forearm, and takes a step laterally while still holding Kozue's palm, so they are facing each other and holding one hand. "I'm supposed to ask somebody to dance, right?"

This is a different smile, lopsided, vulnerable. Lanky and loose-collared, Sayaka stands with her back to an open dance floor and her eyes to Kozue.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Human. Lives." Takeo says and then he gets a really long look at the woman before him when she twirls. His eyes widen for half a heartbeat then narrow briefly before they return to normal. "Alright. What did you do to Merlin?" He asks calmly suddenly remembering the booping of his little pink nose. "Mai's name may be short, but I promise you there is enough life there to fill a thousand universes." He closes his eyes and tries to piece things together before he opens them again, still going through the paces of the dance.

"So. Who are you?" Takeo asks a slight smirk on his lips. "I figure if you are measuring human lives I have a pretty good idea who you are, but I wanna know if I'm right." he leans in slightly and whispers, "Us old souls being dancing partners. Perhaps in a beautiful city. Perhaps in a castle." None of these are questions. He's pretty sure he knows who he is dancing with.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Outgoing VP indeed. Lily smiles to the pirate before her. ...It's a certain irony, in watching Kasagami in this outfit, and certainly quite the image cut, two wholly different forms of formality, of styles. Shizuru's ring glints. She smirks, as she rubs the band's inside with her thumb, watching Kasagami.

"I do know you," she agrees, red eyes on Kasagami's. "You certainly wouldn't. You always move with such... passion, after all." There's always the hint in Shizuru's voice that could be interpreted as mocking. Always. But she lifts her hand, placing hers on the Engaged's. "Since you ask so nicely..."

Shizuru sweeps with grace, with less grand motions; minimal, to suit the kimono she wears, the elegance of a different sort of apperance. She dances well, following Kasagami's steps near-perfectly. She has learned to dance. ...And Kasagami has Shizuru's gaze in turn.

It puts her to mind of a time dancing with another Engaged, what seems like a long, long time ago. ...How different it was. How utterly unalike. Their eyes have little in common.

"Will you?" she asks. "I suspect that's because you enjoy pain." An enigmatic smile. "...But I couldn't tell you all my secrets. The world of an adult however..." She laughs faintly. "I'll have assets to manage, of course. A wedding to plan. But..."

"You could say that I do have other plans, as well." Here, her eyes spark more, her gaze grows more intent. "I already have a few opportunities lined up ahead of me. ...You know that feeling, yes?"

Her eyes do not move from Kasagami's as they sweep, Shizuru somehow impossibly light as a dance partner. "...I know you do."

Indeed... Utterly different. Shizuru's hands rest lightly; she does not shy away from the contact here, dancing just slightly closer than she ought. Kasagami doesn't count; it's fine. "I've put too much work into you to believe otherwise."

<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Merlin jerks his ears towards the dance floor a little more frantically, and tries blinking rapidly at Fuu. His eyes are increasingly wild with panic.


"Perhaps, perhaps," echoes the woman, laughter flowing down her throat like rain down a mountain. She steps closer still, one of her feet between both of his, and stares straight into Takeo's eyes.

He can't move. Not even a single muscle. But as she looks deep within him, studying him; he feels his very soul evaluated both clinically and passionately, suffering on multiple scales of judgement as once.

But as she looks into him, he can see back into her.

"I am what I am," Morgana says, as he sees shadows and starlight, the gorgeous flowers of the heavenscape, otherworldly auroras.

Past the beauty is an icy darkness, and myriad other presences trapped there, chained there, bound by an ancient malice.

They scream as one, and the vision ends--

--Takeo is free, and Morgana is gone.

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

He accepts, and as he takes up Anthy's clammy hand she forces a swallow from a dry throat. "O-oh..."

Femio drags and she tumbles along behind, a doll of rags now at the mercy of his enthusiasm. The crowd begins to blur with the movement, but doesn't stop there as the dread settles its teeth back into recent, still-painful bite marks. Their faces smear even as their eyes burn into her; their arms flail and reach for the sky like a wild-appendaged forest of humanity around her... or a mob.

He grinds down on her toes through flimsy dress shoes and Anthy cannot help but whimper, though she does it as quietly as she can. He grabs and flings her up, and she does not shriek, though her arms become tight little cages at her sides.

The rose does not bear up well under such violence, though Anthy keeps a grip on it. White petals rattle free to litter the floor beneath them, but it is less of an artful scattering and more of a throttled, forced wilt. The dance crowd around them tramples the fallen bits of white purity in short order, until they are little dirtied shreds of plant matter under the finely turned-out heels of partying philanthropists.

Her eyes are very green indeed, and vivid with a liquid fear that, bound and contained, only adds to her tremulous beauty; her hair is rich violet and bound up in those shining curls, though a few damp tendrils now paste themselves to the back of her neck.

By the end of the dance she and flower both are thoroughly wilted. She only stammers out a few 'mys' and 'ohs' to Femio's overwrought praise, and her eyes are down at the floor, trying very hard not to see the full dance floor around them. She knows they're all looking, though, after a performance like that...

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Kozue doesn't need to look directly at Nori's expression to lap up the surprise in it. But she does need to look directly at Sayaka's expression to get full enjoyment out of her brain catching up to the nerves in her face. She allows the blunette to be proud, then shy as she covers her hand.

She looks a little proud too. It's not truly her accomplishment, but she's proud to be standing here at her side. "Maybe some day we'll tell you all about it Nori-chan." She says as if validating how crazy the weeks have been, but perhaps she's also twisting the knife. She knows that Sayaka's expression isn't really as sad as it seems.

As Sayaka takes her hand and steps laterally, her arm extends, growing long as she balances her weight against it. "Is that how this is supposed to go?" She says with a coquettish gleam in her eyes, in the curve of her lips that becomes a smile.

It looks so genuine, the affection underlying it. That might be the most maddening thing for her Akamira counterpart.

The entire dance floor and the moving figures seem like blurs against the defined figure of Sayaka. Kozue thinks she looks so handsome in that suit, and pretty all at once in how she seems in-between. "Well let's see if you're right... Sayaka."

Despite how coy she's being, the flippancy feels like a devoted surrender of sorts to that vulnerability she sees in her lanky, awkward girlfriend. Her whisper is a little soft, "... maybe before we're done tonight we'll find out if we can't fulfill at least one fantasy of yours."

The music is slow, she's can't admit to being much of a ballroom dancer. She knew a step or two - but the kind of dance she focused on had much more to do with desire than romance. She allows her girlfriend to lead her out onto the dance floor.

BGM Change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMBTvuUlm98

Part of the crowd sways away like the tide of the sea to allow them to take their place upon it. Palm to palm, her other finds her way onto the curve of Sayaka's shoulder. Every point of contact, every stimulus might bring a shiver between the two start to breathe together even in synch. And when the music comes around she let's herself be guided into a waltz.

In motion the two are strikingly simple in their steps, but Kozue is a little bolder in how close she allows herself to dance to her partner. Her eyes seem to be focused a little low, though they return high when she asks a little huskily, "Is it everything you hoped for?" And just a moment later, as her arm slides down the shoulder to rest on a new position on her bicep, "I have high standards for how you're going to remember nights like this one..."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu blinks at the rabbit, and looks towards the dance floor -

Ah. Right. Takeo. At least he's not embarassing himself over bacon or Mountain Dew, or food or drink readily mistaken for same. But ... if Merlin is THAT freaked out about him ...

She finishes her ginger ale and heads out to the dance floor. "Good evening, Takeo-san," she says with a smile and a polite bow. "I hope you're doing well this evening ... ?"

Granted that right now, 'doing well' is probably the opposite of how he feels - but it's potentially a lifeline, for social purposes at least.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Red eyes meet steel, and Kasagami tilts her head just slightly. She actually smiles. "That's the Shizuru I know. All seeing, and just so knowing. As ever, I'm grateful for all you've done for me." It's not quite sarcastic, she actually believes part of it. But there's some spice to it.

Into the dance they go, and even enjoys it. Shizuru is skilled and it shows. Nor is Kasagami ever adverse to having a beautiful girl to dance with.

"Oh now you're just being flattering. Just because I can endure pain doesn't mean I actually like it. But life has this fabulous way of forcing you to confront things you hate. I'm used to it. Keeps your mind sharp, a pinch to the cheek and the occasional dagger in the thigh." She responds almost jovially. The Engaged is very much high on her own success, and it shows. Even outside of Ohtori. Maybe her cult is getting to her, adoration something alien to the scarred girl in any large sense.

She almost misses a step for the second time today. Opportunities. They're there, of course, despite Kasagami's winning way with angering people. Sometimes because of it. The life of a politician calls to her, as does her mother's dojo. But it doesn't feel right, not now. She wants a crown. The fire of the desire shows in her eye.

"You'll be so busy. Text me, write, don't forget about your little kohai! Not that I'll ever know what it's like to have a ring like that on my finger." An eye to the engagement ring. Her lips turn downwards slightly. Seeing diamond rather than rose on Shizuru's finger annoys her for reasons she can't quite fathom.

A sigh. She dances, a little too close. There's a light red to her cheek from it, but she smiles like a skilled rogue and cad. "I know where my future lays."

Her smile grows more confident. Her words are a whisper, only to Shizuru. "And it's in Revolution." The word is said as though it's a sacred thing. To her, it is, absolutely.

Kasagami catches the dance of Anthy and Femio out of the corner of her eye. It's a great effort to not straight laugh from poor Anthy's difficulties. Her distaste for her Engaged, an unwanted hood ornament to the power she seeks has never been something that she's tried to hide to the purple haired one with all her thorns and bite.

She speaks to Shizuru just a little too loud, that it carries. "That girl really does need to get out more. Hah, she looks wonderful dancing around like that, doesn't she Shizuru-chan?" It might get more attention. Kasagami can be a cruel King at times.

Kozue and Sayaka's dance is vaguely beheld. The two as a couple still strikes her as strange. Did they even go through the same social circles? Was this hidden romance? It makes her head vaguely hurt.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Nori had absorbed the complement from Sayaka with a small smile, mysterious but vulnerable, that had vanished in the flow of time.

Then came the rain.

It is perhaps a credit to how Nori has grown that the part of her that wants to run, to cry, to scream into the soft obliging belly of a small friend from another star, is a small part now. The tiny shrill impulse is there but it does not loom large. That moon has receded; it may return, perhaps, but not right now.

More to the point is the look of sheer astonishment on Nori's face, her index finger twitching as she says to Sayaka, "G, graduation? What?" She'd lost track entirely even as Kozue holds onto Sayaka with her slim pale grasp. "What?" Nori says again.

She looks to Kozue then as she takes Sayaka's arm and Sayaka is moving with such ease and such grace. She's exactly herself - that is the worst part, perhaps, to Nori's eyes. If she seemed uncomfortable, or even dazed and drugged or sleepy (like she had been, that dreadful, horrific night) - then the matter would be simple.

The Red Future is quietly eclipsed as the two blue stars move onto the dance floor. Nori stares.

This can't be right, Nori thinks. There is a dizzy, delirious fumbling in the back of her mind as her fingers curl and form a fist and then tighten hard enough that her nails dig into the palm of her hand. This is impossible. Nothing like this could bloom so fast. What Kozue did to Sayaka - sweet, brave Sayaka - was a thing she couldn't forgive.

Nori speaks to herself now, her voice soft but rough as sail cloth in a winter storm. "Whatever you've done to trick her, Kozue... I won't let you get away with this... you'll never get to betray her again...!!"

Yet her eyes are wet when she turns on a heel to stalk towards the buffet, the grace of Akamira left aside for now. Everything tastes like ashes, but eating it means she isn't looking towards that dance floor.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

He can't move. He can't even breath. He can't even really think. Takeo stares at Morgana and he doesn't even try to hide the terror in his eyes. The terror that runs through his veins like ice water. He grits his teeth as he stares into the eyes of Morgana le Fey. When she speaks he listens, when his spirit soars, he ... lets it. Not that he has much choice really. When he is gone, and he can move, Takeo stumbles for the firs time on the dance floor.

He drops to a knee gasping for breath like a drowning man breaking the surface of the water. He closes his eyes tightly and tries to just breath. To steady himself. "She knows .... everything." He whispers to himself still trying to catch his breath. To catch his self. He could still feel his soul floating there. Looking at the trapped. Looking at the void of eternity and having Morgana there just staring back.

When he opens his eyes he looks into Fuu's. His terrified eyes staring back to him reflected in Fuu's eye glasses. "Fuu-chan?" he asks softly catching his breath. Breathing. He stumbles forward again and grips at her in a fierce hug. "I can't ... I just ... " He doesn't even care that it's a school function or how it looks. He just cries on Fuu's shoulder.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu wobbles on her feet as Takeo latches onto her like that, but she keeps her footing as well as she can, providing some stability which Takeo surely needs right now. Definitely not 'doing well,' then. This is probably why Merlin was freaking out. Maybe even why the rabbit wanted a cocktail.

Takeo ostensibly has Mai; Fuu herself has Ferio. For now, though, Fuu supports Takeo as well as she can, trying to guide him off the dance floor and over to somewhere they can sit and he can start recovering.

Placing the rest of her voting roses has pretty much been pushed off of Fuu's to-do list, though ...

<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It does seem as though everyone on the boat is staring at Anthy and Femio; to say that they're jealous of the Rose Bride for her ordeal would be inaccurate. No, like Kasagami, they mostly seem to enjoy it, and their amusement is cruel as it is casual. But there's something deeper, something underlying, a resentment, jealously over the attention she receives whether she wants to receive it or not.

Well -- almost everyone.

Chihaya was staring at nothing at all.

Slowly her hand lowers from her neck. Mechanically, jerkily at first, she learns to walk once again, and staggers towards the increasingly-loud fight brewing between swimmers and sculpters.

It takes her a few moments to find her voice, and when she does, it's harsher than it's been all night.

"Enough. Shake hands and apologize, or you're both disqualified."

They hasten to oblige... the look in her eyes will not be gainsaid.


It will take Takeo and Fuu quite a while to notice Merlin's plight; the white rabbit on the barstool stops trying to get anyone's attention, at first, when his Knight is returned relatively safely.

But, once Takeo has cried himself out, he leaps on the boy's shoulder, and puts both of his paws on his mouth. Then on his own mouth. Then back again.

Whatever magic silenced him seems to have lingered...


Femio doesn't bother escorting Anthy back to Kasagami, but instead, after taking many bows, leaves her alone in the crowd, among -- from his perspective -- her many admirers.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

As Takeo calms down he pats Fuu's shoulder in thanks. "Thank you." He whispers and then blinks when Merlin hops onto his shoulder and touches his bunny mouth and then taps Takeo's with his adorable little paws. He blinks a long time more not understanding and then sudden realization sets in. He's alone. He's alone because even though Merlin is actually here. Merlin can't speak. Leaving him without the rabbit's knowledge or help in facing Morgana, the Black Knight, or the Knights of Whatever. He hugs Merlin like a stuffed animal. "We'll find a way to fix ya buddy." he says quietly. "I hope."

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

"My," Shizuru answers. "So dutiful. It's almost unlike you." There's a little teasing in her voice, as the older young woman moves about the dance floor with Kasagami. She continues to follow well. Opportunities; Shizuru notices the shift, notices the desire in her eyes. ...Just as the way she speaks of life. "And you would always have to be sharp, wouldn't you?" Flattering. Maybe she is. She smiles enigmatically, and does not make a return accusation.

"Oh, I'll be quite busy," Shizuru agrees. "But I assure you... I won't forget you." A laugh. "No, I imagine you wouldn't, would you? No matter what."

Her future. Yes, it's a light red to Kasagami's cheek, and Shizuru takes in all of the reaction. "Yes... I see," she agrees. "I'm sure your future is very... bright."

Like a fire is bright.

Shizuru quiets, watching Anthy and Femio for a brief moment. Kasagami's opinion of Anthy is plain to see. Shizuru regards it. She considers it.

"...Not as wonderful as what I see," Shizuru answers simply. The dance goes on. ...It may end soon... But not just yet.

Shizuru watches the others, and only then returns her gaze to Kasagami. "...It always shines through."

She thinks of another dance, what seems like a long time ago. So different. ...She does not let it show in her face, but the memory lingers, of blue eyes.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Never Let Me Go (continued) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMBTvuUlm98

The soft whisper may not be in public, but Sayaka and Kozue are. Kozue's words burn Sayaka's ear, and she can't tell if it's visible or not (it is). This terror is difficult for her to define: what is there to be afraid of? Is it because Kozue is the girl Nori saved her from? The girl that Ohtori has been slinging its most vicious gossip at since her expulsion? Or just because Kozue is a girl, period? Nervously, Sayaka places her hand on the outside of Kozue's arm as they step onto the floor, feeling like she's doing something bad.

Kozue isn't scared at all. Whatever Sayaka stands to lose, Kozue has lost already, either discarding it for the sake of her own fun or, notably, casting it aside for Sayaka's own sake. If Sayaka wants to be with her, she may have to lose those things too. Her safe, boring reputation with her parents, her schoolmates, and the community are something she's worried about her whole life. But what has she gained from it that's worth one little kiss to the cheek from Kozue Kaoru?

A muscle in her jaw flickering, Sayaka slips the hand on Kozue's arm down to the small of her back. Defying no one and everyone, she pulls Kozue into a closed position that's a little more closed, and keeps an arm between Kozue and the world.

Sayaka is not very good at ballroom either, but she and Kozue have always been good at reflecting one another, even at their most dissonant. The lines of her suit contrast the curves of Kozue's dress, her sturdy shoulders contrast Kozue's lithe collarbone, and their blue hair contrasts not at all.

"Is it everything you hoped for?" Kozue asks.

  • * *

"And then what happened?" Madoka asks.

"I said, 'it's with you.'"

"...'it's with you'? What's with you?"

"You know! The dance, or the date or whatever... I thought it was cool, I guess. It's what I hoped for because it's..." Sayaka clears her throat. "...what?" she asks defensively.

Madoka shrieks right in Sayaka's ear. This is easy to do because she's just leapt forward, off of Totoro and onto the back of her best friend, who she entangles like ivy. Her eyes are shining. "Sayaka-chan, sugoiiii~"

  • * *

The dance of blue is slow and close. It's not as elegant as Kasagami and Shizuru's, nor is it the... virtuoso performance of Femio. But it is hard to beat for eye contact, and every motion feels like something new, because it is something new, like skin beneath a scab, like the first sand of landfall, like the wobbling leg of a foal. Neither girl knows what each step will feel like until it happens. A cycle of expectation and fulfillment flows with the circular steps of the waltz, the one always right behind the other.

"You're really pretty tonight," Sayaka tells Kozue, because she is, but also because she wants to know how it will feel to say it.

Through the turning of the song, through the sway of her shoulders, Sayaka keeps her palm right on the small of Kozue's back.

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Being tossed into the air and flung about by his theatrics pulled plenty of eyes their way, and Kasagami's comment gets those on the fringes even more curious what everyone else is looking at. Having spun her into a spectacle, Femio leaves her to the unkindness of the envious. She fists her hands to her chest, a ragged remnant of rose clutched there. It is a piteous thing now, and so is Anthy Himemiya.

She feels their attention, in ways as real as they are metaphorical. For the Rose Bride there may be no difference.

It is every not-so-muffled laugh behind the back in a school hall, and the accompanying sickly certainty that it is meant to be heard; it is the malice of sharp things aimed her way, and Anthy feels small and soft and very alone. Sweat trickles down the back of her neck, but she remembers instead the way blood runs warm on skin.

The way she shivers in place, eyes downcast, cannot help but add to the spectacle.

The whispers reach her, of course. They're supposed to.

"What's her problem?"

"I heard she asked him to dance. Imagine..."

"You haven't heard? That Himemiya girl has always been a weirdo."

"What does Araki-san see in her?"

"Keeps her around for laughs. Obviously."

"Charity case."

"The girl obviously just wants more attention. Ugh."

Anthy squeezes her eyes shut completely. It does not help. The voices blur like the faces did. She's left with an ugly sussurus, like the hiss of a thousand swords being drawn from their sheaths.

She has to get away. "E-excuse... pardon me." Her lips move, but the words come out so quietly it hardly matters. "Please, I..."

Hunched to an even smaller version of her unassuming stature, head bent, Anthy stumbles through the crowd. Directly to the ladies' room she goes, and endures the wide-eyed stares of the two giggling Ohtori students at the mirror as she locks herself in a stall. There she stays, turning the emptied stem of what used to be a pristine white rose over and over in shaking fingers.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Sharp as a knife, forever and always. Just as shining, too!" Quips Kassie, flowing through the last steps of the dance. She falls silent, just enjoying it all for a while, and then it all comes to end. She lets go, offering Shizuru a bow.

She walks away, thinking she's etched something of herself that is the mystery of Shizuru Fujino. A sigh. She feels unsatisfied, just a bit to think of Shizuru being gone. The barbs, her humiliation gone unrepaid, a second Duel...her lips purse.

"It's been a pleasure. Carve out a place for yourself in Tokyo, Shizuru. Not that I need to tell you that. Good luck even if you don't need it. ...Shame, really, I still feel like I haven't seen through to what goes on in your head." A wave over the shoulder, and it's back to Anthy with a flute in her hand. Sip.

Or so she tries. Anthy is gone amidst hushed conversations that aren't so hushed. A sigh, and she downs the rest of her drink. Purple tresses dissappear. "I'll never understand her." Mutters the Engaged to herself. Then her eyes spy the dancing pair of Kozue and Sayaka. A shake of the head. She stalks off to find some champagne. It's just one of those nights.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru looks dispassionately at Anthy as she can see the whispering around her. She shows no reaction to it. ...But she certainly sees it. Then, she looks back to Kasagami, brilliant and shining and cruel in her own way. "A knife," Shizuru agrees, and dips her head when she receives the bow.

"Heh. How kind," Shizuru answers. "I'm sure you'll hear my name again, Araki-kun."

She says that with a certain knowing expression, befor she hears that muttering. She watches Kasagami go. She watches her for a long few moments.

"...No," Shizuru agrees to Kasagami's back, "You won't."

She puts her hands together again, and starts walking... for the ladies' room.

She may have some people to disperse.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> ibid

Sayaka Miki says 'It's with you.' And on her mind in that moment is every single romantic film she watched as a kid with her twin that she protested loudly was stupid. Every slow dance scene. Every memory of someone trying a line like that on her.

She had to hit rock bottom, and sacrifice so much to get to this point. Right now she can't even consider what Sayaka is sacrificing even to be out on the dance floor with her.

Because her heart felt like it skipped a beat. Just a singular one.

And isn't one enough?

There's something a little emotional that flickers in her eyes at that moment. A shining touch of moisture. "... Oh." It'd be easy enough for someone to interpret it otherwise. Like maybe she didn't find it charming and took it in stride anyhow - that is if they weren't eye to eye right now.

Against her cheekbones her eyelashes are flickering, and there's something in those depths of her eyes, like a long lost hidden treasure. Found by someone who dared to brave their depths to find them. A girl looking thoughtful at a window at the bottom of an ocean trench. Only precious to the one across from her.

Connections are made in those moments. She doesn't respond otherwise until just after Sayaka tells her she's pretty.

"I'm not used to this." She finally says back, "Someone getting the best of me. It's a little overwhelming."

With a touch she could do the same back to her partner. But in this moment she finds that she doesn't want to make this a competition.

She decides it's a good feeling when it's with the right person.

With Sayaka's hand at the small of her back she's guided around the dance floor, and coming closer still, they're nearly forehead to forehead. Her smile isn't fixed, it's changing moment to moment in the harmony of their steps. And in that she finds her stride once more.

"...maybe later I should make you tell me in detail all the things you want to do to a pretty girl like me."

Maybe she'll never be able to forgive herself for all the things she did, but she can find some measure of healing in moments like this. In the swell of the music, in the one-two-three of the steps that the two are taking... together.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The only reason Sayaka and Kozue are here dancing together is that Sayaka has faith. Blindly, dangerously, with a devotion she could neither defend nor explain, Sayaka believed something of Kozue Kaoru, and nothing, not even Kozue herself, could dissuade her of it. Kozue remains mysterious now that they are together, and there are many moments where Sayaka does not know what she is thinking, or where exactly she stands. This "oh" of Kozue's is one of them.

It is not that Sayaka would dislike a little more clarity in her life. It would be a mercy to the girl who sees the world in black and white (or perhaps yellow and #008000,green)) to have fewer doubts. But Sayaka has a way of bringing her own clarity with her, and it's there in her crystal eyes as she gets the privilege of seeing Kozue change a little, right there in her arms. Sayaka knows what she needs to already. Whatever you call it, wherever it goes, whatever it might mean, she knows Kozue wants to be with her.

How long will that be enough for?

"Take your time," Sayaka manages a little raspily. The corner of her lip tugs, and she finally closes the last of the distance to touch foreheads with Kozue. "I'll be here." They don't make numbers for how long.

With her eyes closed, with forearms bare and a lock of blue bang stuck behind her ear from the swaying, with a boy's blazer and a boy's slacks and a girl's heart beating too quick for the music, Sayaka Miki dances with her first girlfriend for the first time. The night is late but the song is long, and maybe it's the yacht but if they don't look down it feels like their feet aren't quite on the floor, like it's a waltz on smoke or a dark glassy lake. Everything about them matches except for the things that don't, and both sorts of things are right, for now. When the song ends Sayaka will open her eyes and look at Kozue as long as they both like.

But before then, Kozue will say something wicked, and have to catch Sayaka from a satisfyingly clumsy stumble.