2018-02-16 - Meet The Parents

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Meet The Parents

The culmination of months of preparation, the Ohtori Mankai ball seeks to woo major donors into majorly donating to the rehabilitation of the forests and gardens of Southern Cross Island which burned down during the Searrs occupation. Sister School parents, rich or no, are invited on principle.


Chihaya Izumi, and the family of: Takeo Akamizu, Nori Ankou, Yumi Ohzora, Steven Universe, Amethyst, Fuu Hououji, Ye-jin Song, with an NPC by Setsuna Meioh


Ohtori Academy

OOC - IC Date:

02-06-2018 - 03-28-2015

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

Cars are parked by valet; those lacking their own vehicles have had towncars pull up directly to their door. Everyone is royalty tonight, even if they will be ultimately unable to donate to the cause. And no one is looked down upon, no matter their outfits. The boutinnieres and corsages being offered all upon arrival are capable of classing up every outfit, in any event.

They are lovely, sweet-smelling flowers; exquisite blooms of every variety, which creates a garden in motion upon the wrists and chests of their wearers, allowing them, along with their gala gowns and white ties, to create a new reality, a reality badly needed:

Ohtori Mankai -- Ohtori In Full Bloom.

An appropriate name for an evening celebrating the rebirth that spring brings... all in the hopes of raising the epic funds required to bring true rebirth to the devastated isle upon which the legendary academy makes its home.

That devastation is on full display tonight. No effort has been made to spare the alumni, parents, celebrities, and other luminaries with deep pockets from the sight of the fire damage. Indeed, lighting has been rather artfully staged across the wastelands to emphasize both their desolate nature -- the trail of a spotlight across the ashen rock formations revealed by the scouring of foilage, for example. The trees that weren't burnt absolutely to the ground have been tended faithfully, but even then, not all of them made it.

The corpses -- few recognizable now, but each one of them very, very sad, all spindly-branched and brittle -- have been arranged to either side of the main walkway that leads into the Grand Ballroom.

It is a solemn experience, even a severe one, and if it is rather shamelessly calculated to elicit emotion in those present, that doesn't detract much from its effectiveness.

This place suffered a tragedy, a tragedy that impacted every student of the Sister Schools, held hostage by terrorists for a dreadful week.

Does it not deserve to be healed?

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

"I admit it. When the boy said we had to go to a school function I thought he was fighting again." Kosuke Akamizu says adjusting the cuffs on his rented Tuxedo. "Or that he had been involved in a prank." He pushes his glasses up and looks around him at the other couples, other parents entering the room. Despite his rented Tuxedo, he almost feels under dressed.

Beside him an athleticly cut woman smiles slightly. Her eyes, much like the man beside him look tired. Little sleep comes to the Akamizu house with the youngest in the hospital, but despite the tired eyes a slight smile is on her lips that also reaches those tired eyes, "Or had burned down the school. Been caught steeling. Racing during school hours." She ticks each of these off on her right hand, looking to the sky as she thinks. "Or had failed another class." She shakes her head. Instead Takeo had come to them and told them to go to school, and enjoy a night out. They deserved it.

Kosuke snickers and takes his wife's hand and the two walk up the steps from where their car was taken away by a vallet. "Well. At least all those martial arts you two do together have finally paid off. Shall we my dear?" He smiles to wife.

Who smiles back and dips her head. "Lets. And maybe find some meat eh?"

Kosuke laughs. "I think we both could do with a Salad." he says and winks to her, as the two walk into the Grand Ballroom. Both however stop for a moment to look over the devesation on display. Wincing as they remember the frantic nights wondering if BOTH their children would make it home at the end of that week. They did, but the darkness of that time still a painful memory.

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

FUDO ANKOU - the second in line of the Ankou Foods line of frozen treats and agricultural processing sources, current owner, and man about town - is currently in California, no doubt hobnobbing with the great and trying to sell a range of Hokkaido dumplings to Americans at a generous price premium. Perhaps he'll even open a processing plant in a key region... (no)

SAWAKO ANKOU is waiting for him in Tokyo, and has come to this school event. She has not spoken with Nori, who is not answering her phone at the moment anyway, but even so, she attended Ohtori when she was younger, and so it is that she says -

"Oh! What a HORrible outcome! This is simp-ly aw-ful~~!"

Sawako Ankou has perfectly coiffed black hair and an elegant black dress - one from the ateliers of Paris, no doubt (she has not engaged, sartorially, with AoAka). She has a Louis Vuitton bag slung over one shoulder. "I remember when all of this was just so... so... so..."

Sawako shakes her head slowly with a tinkle of heavy earrings.

"So... not burned."

She continues inwards towards the grand ballroom, walking at a sedate pace as she examines the poor wounded trees.

<Pose Tracker> Kimie Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Kimie Ohzora's limousine pulls in, black and shining, a perfect display of elegance and, of course, wealth. Her driver will have some time off tonight, considering the valets. ...After opening her door for her, of course. Only after that. It would not do to forget her. And aside from the driver, the Ohzora matriarch here is alone.

...She is dressed impeccably of course for this white tie occasion, a dress in sumptuous black with gold lining and etchings, her white hair--by nature, rather than by age, because she looks to be in her late thirties at the very oldest--arranged artfully past her shoulders, perfectly smooth. Her red eyes are sharp, her features sharper, makeup arranged to perfectly display her features--but severely. Oh, very severely. But rather than full tradition, she favors a modern twist; a few light touches of gold, with deep red gems to offset her eyes, and long gloves to offset the sleeveless design of her dress. ...Her heels add a bit of height and more than a bit of beauty themselves, and she accepts the garden bloom offered to her; they set her off perfectly.

...And she is walking inside, though she pauses, for a long few moments, to stare into the desolation of the ashes, of the wastelands ahead. Her expression is unreadable but solemn as she looks it over, as if committing every detail to memory.

...She is not an Ohtori alumna; she is one of the most noted donors to Infinity Institute, as a matter of fact.

...And she begins forward, after devoting it all to her memory. Her heels click as she steps forward, a clutch in her hand, from some radical designer or another.

This place suffered a terrible tragedy, and Kimie Ohzora resembles it well. She begins to step inside. ...The absence at her arm--the fact that she is alone--practically hangs in the air. It has not been so long, after all.

Not so long at all.

<Pose Tracker> Dr. Priyanka Maheswaran [None] has posed.

The beauty of Ohtori looks quite bittersweet to Mrs. Maheswaran - DOCTOR Maheswaran, she'll have you know - a woman of dark tan complexion and darker brown hair long yet very neat. She adjusts her pale blue blouse and brown dress-pants, nice and tidy, as she examines the lovely yet decimated landscape. Her deep maroon shoes tap along - and never off - the path, as she mingles with all the other parents. /It really is quite the awkward affair,/ she thinks to herself, /trying to make amends for putting these students in danger. What if her Connie had been hurt?

But she keeps a calm air and a proud face, to blend in with the crowd. She accepts the corsage gracefully, and greets all the other parents and donors. It is time to come together, not fight. She knows what tragedy looks like, and have seen parents that have lost children, children who have lost siblings. The fact that this could have been a lot worse softens her opinion on the whole situation.

<Pose Tracker> Greg Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"Have fun with her! SHe's a beaut!" A portly middle aged man says toward a valet. The van, seemingly from the 70's or 80's is stylized with a custom paint job that says 'MR. UNIVERSE' on it, and is rather out of place outside the standard selection of sedans and SUVs others may have.

This man wears a decent dress suit. While it has seen some love, it also looks like it has been through the dry cleaners and permanent presses at least three times each. It is spotless. The man is balding, and has a scruffy beard, but otherwise looks rather approachable! "Okay! Time to wow 'em!" he says to himself, running a hand through what hair he has left. He is obviously here to give the best impression possible. Hopefully he wont embarass whoever is his child.

This man looks to the entry, peering forward. It was none other than Greg Universe.

The sight of dead and damaged trees garners a raised brow from Greg. Huh. Is this art? No, those are actual trees. Or in some cases, were trees. "Oof. Kind of a mood killer, but I get the reason!" he says. The man brought what he could spare to donate to the cause. It is a meager amount compared to what some high rollers have, but he will still contribute what he can!

Steven told him about what happened here to cause this. Pretty serious business. And to danger kids like that! Some people. But first, it is time for the appetizers! The flower recieved at the front makes his day even further! He makes sure tp pin it over a spot that looks at little patchy. Most likely caused by so many flowers and other items being pinned there so many times.

<Pose Tracker> Nyamo Fujiwara [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

"I remember that, too." Nyamo Fujiwara is on the younger side for this crowd; her memories of the forests of Ohtori still feel fresh. She voices her agreement with Sawako Ankou's pronouncement, near enough to hear the sentiment as the well-heeled crowd proceeds to the Ballroom. They say you can't go back, that it's never the same. This cant quite be what they meant, though."

Nyamo pauses to reach out toward the charred bark of one of the fire-felled trees, but there's too much hesitance in her to complete the gesture; her hand falls back to her side, and her fingers find the flowing chiffon of her gown to hide there instead. It's black from the sweetheart neckline to halfway down the skirt, where dark floral colors flow in fuschias and goldenrods to bloom fully by her ankles.

She is herself not long out of college and is the parent of no one here, but the age gap doesn't keep her from belonging to this crowd. There is a sparkle of diamonds at her earlobes and the hollow of her throat, and she has a Fendi clutch in one hand. If Nyamo's status as a recent Ohtori alumnus did not grant her entrance, her spending power surely would have.

Nyamo tucks a stray twist of black hair behind her ear -- most of it up in a soft bun, the rest curled to fall along the back of her neck -- and then resolves to not transmit her nerves quite so openly. She belongs here, after all!

A sidelong glance at the stunning woman next to her with the white hair and gold-lined gown has Nyamo rethinking that last reminder to herself. "Your jewelry is lovely," she says to Kimie Ohzora, lest she be caught staring without a compliment at the ready.

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

There was a brief interval, in the preparation for this evening's festivities, when calamity loomed on the horizon. That disaster was thankfully averted when Tsubasa Hououji reminded her husband Akira that this was a high formal event - so no, a business suit would not have cut it, time to break out the tuxedo.

On the plus side, he didn't have to rent a tuxedo: while Mr. Hououji doesn't work for one of the *big* and *famous* computer corporations, between work events and social events, simply buying a tuxedo to fit his frame was clearly a wise investment, and he's as fastidious and attentive about taking care of the tuxedo in between outings as he is to his tasks at work.

As the spouse who's more actively engaged in social circles, though, it's Tsubasa who picked out his tie and cummerbund. So it is that her husband sports a neatly-tied bowtie of midnight blue, and while the cummerbund is typically hidden by his tuxedo jacket, it's a matching shade. And both of them seem to have been selected to complement Tsubasa's dress for the night, an elegant evening gown in a slightly darker shade of blue, offset by the softly sparkling dots of silver embroidery which adorn both skirt and bodice. As their car is driven off by the valet, Tsubasa settles her hand into the crook of Akira's elbow, and they make their way in, accepting a corsage and a boutinniere respectively at the door, and taking a moment to help each other arrange the offered flowers.

"I still don't understand how our girls can tolerate visiting this place," Akira admits under his breath. "Even without the terrorism, the -"

A finger is laid upon his lips before he can finish the sentence. "Darling," Tsubasa smiles, charming without being excessively sweet, "you know our rule. Don't break it tonight."

"Yes, dear," Akira 'mumbles' past the finger, lips brushing against it maybe a bit more than speaking would necessitate. The finger is withdrawn and they continue into the ballroom, lingering to take in the sight of the scorched corpses of the trees along the corridor. Akira's distaste for the richest of the Sister Schools notwithstanding, the horror of what happened is beyond dispute; Tsubasa's hand squeezes her husband's arm a little tighter, unable to *not* imagine how terrifying it must have been for their daughters. For Kuu, the older of the pair, it was as uneventful as a terrorist incident could be - she cooperated quietly, didn't draw attention, stayed with groups whenever she could. For the younger Fuu, though -

Well. Tsubasa knows to allow her daughters their privacy, although hearing about the preparations from Fuu was definitely enough to draw her interest to the gala. The most important investments aren't measured in yen, whether putting in or receiving back. And the best investments, even if they start with money, see a return that no bank account can ever measure, much less contain. While they aren't exactly old money, the Hououji family is reasonably comfortable and with savings to spare; both Tsubasa and Akira agree fully (and have since before they were married, really) that it's wise to invest where they can so that future generations, whether their own daughters or further into time, will see the rewards.

Such contemplations are briefly interrupted, though, between the dark-skinned doctor in red and the balding gentleman. Akira's attention is drawn backwards by Greg's comments, and he recalls the van. A moment's gentle tug, and he and Tsubasa reverse course slightly. "Good evening, sir," Akira greets him, bowing politely; Tsubasa actually draws her skirt out briefly in a curtsey.

"Good evening ... Mr. Universe, is it?" she asks (using the Western title, rather than going 'Universe-san') as she straightens up. "I believe our daughter, Fuu, knows your son Steven-kun?"

<Pose Tracker> Chihaya Izumi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op. 9 No. 2, Chopin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZUw78FXpG4

The archway of the open entrance to the Grand Ballroom is, of all things, created by a living curtain of blooming cherry branches, which extends inwards for several yards, tunnel-like, multiple trunks pressed against each other on either side. When was this art installation grown? Who made it? How did it get here? How long will it be here?

All compelling questions, but only the last one has an obvious answer: not very long. The trees that curve beautifully over the door, dripping downwards like willows, surely cannot keep their glorious bounty for long. The season is always brief, so brief, a symbol of death as much as life.

It makes for an appropriate portal into another realm. One cannot escape the soft touch of petals, passing through, nor the sweet scent. Some of both travels inwards with each guest, who find themselves inevitably adorned with a stray sakura or two.

One emerges at the top of the grand staircase. (Since it was quite close inside the tunnel, many people couldn't avoid bumping into each other, including Dr. Maheswaran and Tsubasa Hououji, Kyamo Fujiwara and Yuka Akamizu, and Sawako Ankou and Kimie Ohzora, each finding an elbow or hip accidentally brushing each other, or perhaps a pair of purses getting hooked together...)

Below: the first entertainment of the evening, one legendary, blue-haired boy pianist, teasing perfection from the ivory keys of a Steinway. (Children are only allowed to be present if they happened to earn the right to be here through competition, though most of the winners were, and are, adults; it was a world-class series of events, from the food to the music to the decor.)

The only food currently being served is on trays -- black-silk-clad servers bustling around with extraordinary hors d'oeuvres, from gold-leafed prawns to exotic and delicious cheeses rarely seen on Japan's shores and everything in between. They also bring drinks of any sort on request -- the bar is open, but, for now, mobile, ephemeral.

And the ballroom is not open for dancing. No; it is full of long, low tables, each identical in its delicacy and lacquer finish. Each contains one or more exquisite items -- wonderful things. There is a tablet in front of each one; it's a silent auction.

There are any number of interesting things to bid on, but notables include:

  • A Picasso. Yes, it's real.
  • A tiny, perfect porcelain tea cup from an ancient Chinese dynasty.
  • A wood cutting, depicting a duel between two samurai, by a great master.
  • The Olympic Gold Medal won in Fencing by an Ohtori student some thirty years ago (donated in support of his beloved school).
  • A diamond pendant once owned by an Imperial Princess of Japan.
OOC: Feel free to make up ridiculous (but delicious!) appetizers to eat, and awesome, bizarre silent auction items to bid on, as
you like.

<Pose Tracker> Dr. Priyanka Maheswaran [None] has posed.

<Pose Tracker> Sang-min Song [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"You have to give her the square one. It's her favorite. You have to let her out at 6, but make sure she's back in her cage by 7, and asleep by 9. Don't give her water from the sink, she only drinks her brand-Hey, Ye-jin! Are you listening? Ye-jin! No, she is NOT just a bird'--" A moment more, and the line goes dead. The man inside the limo rolling up to Ohtori's gates breathes a heavy sigh.

Chairman Sang-min Song of medical giant Ginsu Group is a man of average weight and build, aged perhaps around 70 years. A head of thick, immaculately combed black hair crowns his head, and though his face has wrinkled with age the dark eyes set there remain sharp and active as he emerges from the thin white limo that delivers him to Ohtori's doorstep. He wears a charcoal suit, a pale violet tie wrapped 'round his neck-and soon enough a pastel yellow flower at his breast, which he accepts from a waiting attendant with a gracious smile.

He moves with the procession of other parents, toward the main hall, past the somber spectacle set before him. If it moves him, it's hard to tell. He spares a bare glance to the wasted trees, his expression showing just a second of muted interest before he presses on.

The walk down the stairway is a stately one, the man adopting a pleasant smile once again for those in close proximity. There's an appreciative pause, and a short tilt of his head to take in the lilt of piano, and then the room itself.

The auctioned items draw his attention next, and he gravitates toward them once he's plucked a small square of cheese to nibble upon. There aren't many he lingers on long, though the wood carving does get an appraising eye, and a few swipes on the tablet. As does the pendant, though the thing he lingers longest on is an unassuming vinyl record tucked amidst the unique displays.

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

"At least THIS doesn't seem so utterly DEPRESSING," remarks Sawako, glancing towards the Hououjis for a moment and narrowing her eyes - lineless, flawless, dark blue exactly like Nori's, but somehow colder nonetheless. Nori's eyes are like a Caribbean sea; Sawako's are more like sapphires, with all that implies.

There is a brief bump. "Oh, hello," Sawako Ankou says - "Have we had the opportunity to meet? It's Ohzora, isn't it?"

"Ohhh," Sawako then says as she looks at a passing tray: "Imagine THIS." She draws up a skewer that bears what looks like a grilled saury, and indeed, on the left side, is one - but the other side is stretched out slivers of sashimi, forming a low-key rainbow of flavor. It's quite a nibble, and dainty too, with hand-placed cloth wrap around the lower part of the skewer.

Sawako admires this and then - puts it back on the tray in favor of a shrimp, because her lipstick cost too much to be that declasse`. As she nibbles, she remarks to Kimie, by sheer proximity, "Look at that pendant. Here, let me see --"

She walks past the Picasso without looking, and finishes off the shrimp. As she studies the pendant on its display, her arms fold loosely, lips curving into a gentle frown at the contemplation of the bids.

<Pose Tracker> Nyamo Fujiwara [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

It's such a wonder to go from charred and fallen trees to the delicate pink life of the cherry blossom tunnel that Nyamo Fujiwara, in her distraction, has no chance of warding off the minor collision in the making. No, much to her eternal chagrin, she walks her right shoulder into the back left shoulder of Yuka Akamizu.

"Ah, please forgive me!" Her cheeks bright peach, Nyamo bows deeply to the other woman.

Once she's made her apologies, Nyamo beats a hasty retreat. She busies herself floating from auction item to auction item, pretending to be overly interested in them in the way someone trying to live down embarrassment will.

<Pose Tracker> Kimie Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Thank you," Kimie replies smoothly; she has a low voice, one that seems to speak of knowing, somehow. She turns at that towards Nyamo Fujiwara, lifting a hand to run back through her hair, an earring dangling in place; not the most subtle of maneuvers, but she wasn't the one to mention them, after all. "...And yours," she says after a moment, with a dip of her head. "...An alumna, yes?" she asks, judging by her age.

But they step in at that; Kimie does not apologize for bumping past anyone, though she does meet eyes with Ankou for a moment, smiling very slightly, as she steps further inside. "Ohzora," Kimie confirms to Sawako. "I don't believe we have, in fact. ...Ankou, isn't it?"

She does not stray too far from her now, actually. And indeed there is much to do here in this Grand Ballroom; the compelling questions ahead... Well. Kimie looks to the trees, to the blossoms...

"So brief," she comments, looking them over, as she steps farther inside, smells the sweetness. A few sakuras adorn her as she walks. ...She accepts an hors d'eourve, light gray caviar on the finest sashimi-grade salmon, taking both and silently enjoying them for a moment, closing her eyes briefly--and from there, the music. ...Ah, the music, equisite...

She opens her eyes again, and moves for the auctions. ...She places bids, of course; that is, after all, part of the purpose of her invitation.

The Picasso; the ancient perfect tea cup. ...The diamond pendant. All of these, of course. ...But she keeps passing through, on the lookout, considering. A glance to Sawako at the pendant. "...A piece of history, mm?"

<Pose Tracker> Greg Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

The man adjusts his cufflinks approaching the tables with food. "Oooh, snazzy!" he says, looking over what is available. Finger foods, sushi, gourmet meats and cheeses, oh my! Beofre he can snag anything though, a polite voice addresses him! "Oh, hello!" he says, a bit of pep to his speech. "Oh, yeah! Is she the blonde young lady?" he asks i nreturn. "I believe so! She--"

He abruptly stops. No, don't mention any of that. "Yes, he does mention her quite a lot! She seems like a good influence on him." He always goes on and on about how smart that girl is. Wasn't she one of the first he met in Tokyo? Something like that. "So! Fancy event, isn't it?" he asks, trying the small talk angle, at least for the moment!

The music is rather surprising! A kid is belting out some piano, though Greg can't help but be a little skeptical. Then again he is critical of anything that lacks any form of acoustic instruments. "He has potential," he remarks aloud, before looking to the booths. "Oh! Lookit this!" he says, eyeballing a baseball bat. "It is a signed Mickey Mantle! Wow!" He looks at the thing in amazement, then at the clipboard. He whistles. "Yeah okay that is a pass, haha."

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

"OOo. Prawns!" Yuka says with a little excitement. She pats her husbandsarm and darts off to located the delicious little seafood items. Her hair bobs as she dances forward to get her own bit of seafood and perhaps a drink, adjusting the shawl on her shoulders as she moves.

Kosuke watches her leave and smiles lightly before putting his hands in his pocket and moving to look over the auction. He pauses at the Samurai wood carving marveling at the craftsmanship and artistry all in one place, once again having to push his glasses up on his nose. When he was his son's age he didn't have glasses and he kind of misses it. He snatches a fluted glass as it passes and sips it, noting the flavor of the chapagne appreciatively. Part of him feels guilty beng here while his Son watches over his daughter in the hospital, but Takeo was right, both of them jsut needed a night. He notives Sang-Min looking at the carving and gestures with his glass. "Beautiful isn't it? Must have taken the artist months to eek that out of the wood." He extends his hand to the man, "Kosuke Akamaizu. Do your children do here, or are you a sister School parent?" % R

Yuka for her part finds herself rammed into. Part of her reacts instantly. Years of onstant martial arts training, even competing right up until Mika got sick had drilled muscle memory right into her. So when she is hit, she spins a foot to place herself squarely and plant herself without falling. She's mostly just glad she didn't break a heel. Though she's pretty sure her ankle might never forgive her for that little manuever. She reaches out a hand "Oh. No, please, forgive me. I didn't realize I was blocking anything! " As the other woman trundles off she grabs two plates of prawns and slides up next to Nyamo Fujiwara handing the other woman a small apatizer plate of Prawns. "Really. It's no big deal. I'm Yuka Akamizu. Pleasure to meet you."

<Pose Tracker> Dr. Priyanka Maheswaran [None] has posed.

Dr. Maheswaran's eyes widen as she recognizes someone. She calmly and respectfully approaches him, with a slight bow. "You are... Sang-min Song, yes? It is an honor to meet you. My name is Doctor Priyanka Maheswaran. Thank you for keeping our hospitals running and supplied. Ginsu Corp. is really the best in the business." While she was only a medical professional working at a hospital, and not the head or one of the higher-ups, she didn't want to accidentally reflect badly on the hospital and get them refused sales or something terrible like that. Besides, she is quite interested in any new innovations his company might have that he'd be willing to share.

<Pose Tracker> Sang-min Song [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Ah-" There's a muted noise of surprise from Sang-min when Kosuke approaches, though a cheery smile once he focuses on his greeter. His own hand clasps Kosuke's briefly, a polite bow accompany a shake of the hand. "Sang-min Song. Pleased to meet you." He turns to regard the painting again, commenting, "The style is immaculate. I admire the-" His hand waggles a moment before he finds the word: "The patience. This sort of dedication, don't you?" His speech is accented, but well-practiced. "And, yes, my grand-daughter. She just transferred, she's running for Student Council next year. And yours?"

He's immediately startled again by Dr. Maheswaran's presence, and just as happy to greet her. Maybe more in fact, considering how much his face lights up at such praise. "Doctor Maheswaran, thank you, thank you. I hope we serve you well." He gestures to the man beside him, asking, "Do you know Akamizu-san? We were discussing this picture here--dedication, was it? Dedication, in art, or business, or work, all good things."

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

Tsubasa's attention is briefly disrupted as she brushes against Dr. Maheswaran, a bit too noticeably to handle politely via pretending it didn't happen; a quick bow and socially-quiet apology is offered. However, Akira speaks up in her place, smiling and nodding to Greg. "That would be our Fuu, yes. And 'fancy' seems to be par for the course at Ohtori - although tasteful as well, by and large. I'd certainly think this gala meets that standard ... and of course, it's for a good cause."

"The forest will likely never be the same," Tsubasa admits, "but we can at least help to ensure that a new forest has the chance to grow where the old one once stood."

Attentions drift and shuffle; the Hououjis avail themselves of some hors d'oeuvres from the circulating waiters, and begin surveying the tables of the silent auction. Akira's own attention is drawn to a portable workstation - not a laptop, but something on the order of a working desktop that's designed to be packed up, transported, and set back up with a minimum of loose components. "Hmm ... " He's careful not to touch it, but he's giving a good solid looking-over to the case, the specifications, and the current bids. "... hm."

Tsubasa's relinquished her husband's arm for the moment, letting him inspect the computer without tugging him away; she nibbles genteelly on a small pastry while looking around for others. There might be other connections to cultivate tonight, after all - even if Ohtori isn't part of the Hououjis' usual social orbit.

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

Also bidding on the pendant: the legendary violinist Maria Houjou, who has returned to Japan for the evening. She is tall and beautiful and especially striking in a brilliantly red cheongsam. She smiles at Sawako Ankou guilessly. "It is marvelous, isn't it, to get to spend too much money on beautiful treasure, just because it's for a good cause?"

Additionally: the rarely-seen-in-public Chairman, Akio Ohtori. Far too cool for his school with that dark violet ponytail, that very warm, very white smile, that perfectly tailored tuxedo, he is bidding liberally on all manner of items, including the pendant and -- notably -- the mysterious vinyl record. He touches a hand to his brow in a sort of graceful, yet casual, salute, as he outdoes Kimie Ohzora's bid on the Picasso for the second time this evening.

"It isn't worth half as much as your smile," he murmurs. "Perhaps I ought to lose on purpose."

But his gaze lingers, especially, on a splendid sword. Western in origin, it is no less glorious for its foreign origins. It is gilded, and the air all but sings with its sharpness, even though it's perfectly still; people moving past it elicit this song.

A pair of birds comprise its hilt, their necks lovingly entwined into the shape of a heart.

<Pose Tracker> Nyamo Fujiwara [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

It is both helpful and not that Yuka Akamizu is so graceful in the collision and gracious afterwards; Nyamo comes away feeling a little better, and a lot clumsier by comparison. It does mostly help, though. "You are very kind, thank you, Akamizu-san." she says along with a brief introduction of her own before slipping away.

The close quarters of the tunnel and general shifting of the crowd pulled Nyamo away from Kimie Ohzora not long after their exchange. Her perusal of the items on offer reunites them. "Hello again." It's been a bit, and her cheeks are back to normal, her composure regained. "I graduated from high school here not so many years ago. With a bit of Harvard between, here I am, back again. My name is Nyamo Fujiwara. It is good to meet you."

Her manners and bearing suggest a level of innate comfort with the trappings of wealth she wears, markers of lifelong familiarity. That, and she's eyeing the bidding sheet for the diamond pendant with a potential buyer's keen interest.

"That is a stunning stone." She doesn't fail to notice how the pendant commands its own audience. The sharp-edged beauty of some of the other patrons steals a heartbeat from Nyamo, and of a sudden she remembers with all keenness just what it was like to attend Ohtori Academy.

Nyamo very firmly does not chew on her bottom lip. Not that she could forget, not really. "Maybe I'll find something with a little less history to it," she muses aloud. But all of the offerings, much like Ohtori itself, seem steeped in it.

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

"I suppose it's the history too," Sawako murmurs to Kimie, "But just think of it. An Imperial princess wore it! Of course it could be a lie, or a rumor, or a replica, but the very idea is thrilling, don't you think...?" Then she looks up when Mickey Mantle comes up, the name vaguely familiar but not fully registering to her.

"So how did you come to be affiliated with this little tete a tete - and that's quite right. My husband is Fuso - and I did attend this place. Why, it feels like just YESTERDAY..."

Someone else comes nearby. "Hm hm~ Well," Sawako says to Nyamo, not unkindly, "not everything is right for everybody. Some treasures need a certain sort of care..."

<Pose Tracker> Kimie Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Kimie, for her part, does not focus on the lovely violinist before the pendant; she recognizes her, of course, quite well, sees her radiance and in it recalls many a performance. She is indeed planning to spend quite a bit on beautiful treasures... But before her for now is the Picasso, gaining the most interest for a woman with an artist for a daughter, and of course, the mysterious, rarely-seen-in-public Chairman. His salte is noted, and lightly she dips her head in return, very very shallowly indeed, a bit amused at the bid--at his statement.

"My," she answers, "A man of perception." She takes the compliment, raises it--before reaching down to place in a higher bid of her own.

"...Perhaps you should. You ought to know that I don't make a habit of losing, Ohtori-san." She does not smile in return, not when the value of it has been so highly placed, but the widow Ohzora does at least seem up for the friendly competition of the moment.

...She glances, too, to the sword. ...And, at that, places a very large bid on that weapon, in addition to the others. "...Poetic, a weapon founded on a relationship, isn't it?"

She is not so far from Sawako, of course, has not left her. ...And she tilts her head Sawako's way. "Yes, that's true; it is befitting royalty, isn't it?" A beat, as Kimie shakes her head. "Not at all," she answers. "...My daughter attends Infinity Institute. She was here, for the... unpleasantness. The pieces she's worked on as a result are exquisite... But a mother must show care for reminders of such things, yes?"

"Our children are the greatest of treasures, after all."

<Pose Tracker> Dr. Priyanka Maheswaran [None] has posed.

"Dedication is very important," Priyanka says, nodding in agreement. "It is what elevates us, makes us better as people." She turns to Akimazu. "Nice to meet you. You seem... somewhat familiar. I apologize, do I know you? My memory hasn't been the greatest." She also admires the Picasso, but the rare record that caught Sang-min Song's eye also draws her in like a siren on the ocean. "Is... is that...?"

<Pose Tracker> Greg Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

A shame, that bat is quite the item! Ah well, he can settle for something else. "I heard that Ohtori is rather prestigious!" Greg adds toward the Hououji couple. "I sent little Steven to Juuban since it was the closest to his-- our house," he says, stumbling for a moment there for some reason.

"That diamond over there also looks impressive!" The man says, fetching a few appetizers and the like for a moment then returning. He obviously cannot afford that, he isn't even going to look! Now, that sword on the other hand...

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

From the far side of the room, a sudden, explosive bout of laughter: Souichi Tomoe, founder of Infinity Institute and very wealthy man. Wealthy enough to not be given a hard time for wearing a lab coat to the event, though to his credit it appears to be white silk. And he has a white tie on, satisfying the letter, though not the spirit, of the code.

"Ahahaha... AHAHAHAHAHAA!!" he cackles, as he walks over -- to -- the sword. And, after briefly exchanging looks with the woman in red on his arm (red hair, black sequin cocktail dress; it's Kaori Kishi, the Infinity principal-general), he places down a monumentally large bid, one that draws gasps from onlookers.

Akio frowns, very slightly, and outbids Kimie again almost distractedly. "Pardon me, madam," he murmurs, before going to see what the fuss is about. He is distracted, along the way, by the visage of Nyamo Fujiwara, and opens to her bright youth like a flower might to the sun. His eyes shine, presumably to see such a successful alumna returned to her place in this garden. "Welcome back, Nyamo," he murmurs -- demonstrating both knowledge of her first name and a certain mature familiarity reserved for Real Adults.

Meanwhile, Miki Kaoru's set is over. He leaves quietly; this is not a night for applause, though some is earned from quieter corners of the party. He is replaced by a famous chamber orchestra quartet who strike up a sprightly concerto.

<Pose Tracker> Kimie Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The burst of laughter catches Kimie's attention, and she lifts an eyebrow at the sight of Souichi Tomoe in his... grab. She knows both him and the woman on his arm, obviously, a luminary of Infinity herself, and yet...

He's very quickly walking over where she is, and when he places that bid--when Akio frowns, murmuring his pardon, she watches him go throughtfully. ...Offhandedly in turn, she places an additional bid, listening as the pianist leaves, as Akio is distracted...

...And elects not to walk to where the fuss is. Instead, she walks over to an ornate table, some eight hundred years old in gilt, created for a monarch in Europe. She looks it over, and pads a bit on the tablet, in silence, a presence of her own before she turns to another familiar figure beside her and smiles, making polite talk.

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

While the laugh is not, strictly speaking, familiar to the Hououjis, it's still very distinctive - and inarguably attention-getting. A moment of conversation transpires between husband and wife, and while neither of them are particularly inclined to engage Professor Tomoe in conversation, Tsubasa meanders in that general direction, her curiosity piqued about how high the bids on that sword are getting. To be sure, it's a marvelous piece of work - even at a distance, that much is evident - but just how ferocious is the bidding war becoming?

And while his wife is venturing closer, Akira Hououji quickly puts his own bid in on the portable workstation. He's restraining himself - with a measure of difficulty, to be sure, but they might want to bid on something else as well.

"Professor Tomoe, Principal Kishi, what a pleasure to see you both this evening!" Tsubasa smiles, giving the pair of Infinity's heads a properly polite bow as she approaches. "Tsubasa Hououji," she introduces herself as she straightens up. "Our daughters Kuu and Fuu are both students at Infinity - Fuu is just about to enter high school classes."

<Pose Tracker> Nyamo Fujiwara [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Sawako comments, and Nyamo does not disagree. "At the end of the day, if I buy jewelry, it's because I intend to wear it." The gleam of the pieces she wears bear that out. "If you will excuse me."

The recent college grad samples some of the shrimp on her way to find another bidding table. This brings her path into direct intersection with the Chairman's, and her dark eyes go wide and starstruck as she realizes who it is addressing her.

Nyamo swallows, quick and tight. To her own amazement, her voice emerges without stammer, though higher than normal: "Thank you, Ohtori-san." There is nothing in her that can manage the same familiarity back. Her name, spoken with his voice, rings repeatedly like bells in her ears. "It's an honor to be welcomed back, and tp give to the place that gave so much to me."

Whatever he's going to bid on suddenly seems very interesting to Nyamo. She trails him there without even realizing that's what she's doing, not until she is there at the table.

It's like she is sixteen all over again, Harvard and all of the ground she's gained there erased. Her hands twist in her skirt again, and she places a bid on whatever it is that's before them, just to expel nervous energy somehow.

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

Kosuke nods to Sang-min. "Absolute dedication." He agrees leaning in to take a closer look. "Oh. Both my children attend Ohtori. My Eldest is Takeo Akamizu on the Kendo Team. My younest is Mika Akamizu, all around good gossipper." He smiles and runs a hand through his ahir before adjusting his glasses on his nose again. As he is intorduced to the Doctor he extends his hand. "Hello! kosuke Akamizu. Pleasure." He smiles genuinely.

Yuka looks temprarily lost. She is in the throng of people at the event, but at least she has prawns. And with a swoop of her hand, one elegant looking glass filled with champagne. She sips and waggles her eyebrows. For an average housewife and who spends a lot of time cooking, especially given how much her son can eat, she almost feels like royalty. It may simply be apetiers, but to her they are golden and delicious and she is QUITE pleased with herself.

Kpsuke will show up eventually. He's probably talking cars with somebody.

<Pose Tracker> Sang-min Song [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sang-min is one of the few who gives Miki polite applause when he leaves his station.

"Does your child go to Ohtori, doctor?" Sang-min asks that of Dr. Priyanka, though his attention is soon brought back to the record. "Ah! Yes, do you recognize it? I thought it was only a rumor..." A somber nod. "I have to apologize, but I've got my sights set on it. I appreciate your taste, though."

When Mr. Universe makes himself known, Sang-min turns to regard him with a polite nod. He waits for introduction, turning to resume conversation with Kosuke. "The Kendo team is very prestigious, I hear. I'm sure Ye-jin will take care of them."

<Pose Tracker> Dr. Priyanka Maheswaran [None] has posed.

Doctor Maheswaran shakes Kosuke's hand firmly, smiling back. "A pleasure to meet you as well." Where has she seen him before? No, it is probably her imagination. Or maybe during one of those Sister Schools gatherings. Maybe-

She is snapped out of thought by a loud, excited Greg. "Oh... hello Mr. Universe. Good to see you again..." His mention of moving made her think. "Yes... it is much different here than Beach City. The medical facilities are more than a step above, the schools are quite superb, and the culture is very unique. It was definitely a good move. Although I do admit, I miss the United States a tiny bit." She then blushes slightly and giggles nervously. "I'm forgetting my manners. I don't normally ramble like this. How is your son, Steven? And his... um... guardians?"

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

Nyamo has just made a million-yen bid on the vinyl record, wiping out all prior bidders by an order of magnitude. Akio raises an eyebrow at her.

"I admire boldness," he says, in a gooseflesh-rippling tone. "Perhaps our paths will cross again tonight."

Without further ado, he passes the Professor and Principal of Infinity, continuing on his trajectory to out-bid them on that mysterious sword. Distracted, they're unable to stop him -- or, crucially, even notice them.

Because they're smiling at Tsubasa Hououji.

"Yes, they're a credit to our school!" the Professor says merrily. "You must be very proud, Hououji-san."

The Principal actually knows who they are (don't be too mad at Souichi though, he may have founded the school but he spends most of his time at the lab, and everyone knows that) and fills in, helpfully, "We're always excited to see what contributions they'll make... next. Your younger is soon to captain the Archery Club, I hear."

A chime sounds: five minutes until dinner. The silent auction will continue throughout the evening, but after dinner it will be pushed to the sides to open up the dance floor, and other events, as well.

Despite the fact that there's no real urgency, there's a sudden rush to place bids. Perhaps people want to be able to eat dinner without being so worried about being overtaken.

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

Kosuke grins to both Dr. Maheswaren and Sang-min, laughing slightly. "Oh. Takeo is a bit of a handful, so let your daughter know she's allowed to smacck him with a stick if he gets out of hand." He grins and then nods to Mr. Universe. "Hello sir. Pleasure to meet you. From the United States? This must be very different for you, I hope you and your children are adjusting well?" He nods to the Dr again. "And it is a pleasure to meet you as well!"

Yuka has found her spot. A place where she can drink her Champagne and eat her Prawns and whatever these crackers were. This. Was. Heaven. No screaming children. No Takeo raiding the fridge every five minutes. No listening to endless gossip, (Though that brings a slight pag of guilt given Mika's current state), and more importantly, food that she is discovering she enjoys. "I should have married rich." She says to herself and plops another cracker in her mouth.

She doesn't mean it of course. For thosue who went to school with them back in the way back, the two were the cutest romance of their time, and she wouldn't chang eit for anything. Well. She might add more of these cheese crackers from America. Ye gods.

<Pose Tracker> Greg Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"Hello sir," Greg mentions toward Sang-min. The sword does garner interest to the man. After all, what is cooler than an artistic sword?! "Quite the impressive blade! I always wanted to learn how to use one properly in the arts, but my back isn't what it used to be. Guess I will have to be satisfied with watching, eh?" he says. He actually moves the rib the guy gently with his elbow, but he stops halway.

That's not proper etiquette! Good thing he caught himself. He lets out a breath. "I wonder if the blade is fully functional or ceremonial?" he asks.

"Oh yes!" the man says toward the doctor. "He is doing well! Doing okay with his grades I suppose, making lots of friends. His guardians?" he asks. "Doing well I think! I don't talk to them as much as Steven." He never really clicked with the rest of the Crystal Gems as much as... Well, it doesn't really matter right now. "Glad everyone made it safely over!"

Greg turns towards Kosuke. "And same to you! Yeah, the adjustment is going well! The family and extended transfer group all seem to be adapting! It is different, but variety is the spice of life, they say!" He lets out a laugh, then responds with. "I'm not sure if that is a saying over here as well."

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

Tsubasa inclines her head politely to the Principal, "Yes, she mentioned to us that she'll be trying out for the captain's position. At her own senpai's suggestion, from what Fuu said that evening. Whether she earns the captaincy or somebody else on the team does, I look forward to seeing how the team does in competition this year."

There's the chime; Tsubasa pardons herself with a few polite words and another bow, then goes to rendezvous with her husband (who's been surveying some of the auction's other offerings).

<Pose Tracker> Kimie Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Kimie watches Nyamo for a long few moments, shaking her head after she does. She continues walking about for now, beginning to mingle still with some others. ...For her, this is, after all, business as much as anything; her business involves many such precious items as these. It is where her fortune comes from.

...But she lingers back on the sword as well. She finds it quite curious, decides that she wishes to have it, and is making her way there at the same time as the Chairman, now. The chime sounds. Soon there is dinner...

But she finishes making her way over. She has a large bid to make of her own, after all. And an amused look for the Chairman when he arrives. "My, we must have similar tastes after all."

<Pose Tracker> Nyamo Fujiwara [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

It is not that Nyamo doesn't have the funds to cover her bid -- she does, though a million yen is certainly not nothing, either. It is more that, having just spoken of her own practicality to another attendee, there is a special sort of shock to having dropped that kind of bid without even knowing what it was on at the time. Her gooseflesh has a distinctly green undertone to it.

Faking a cool she does not feel, the young woman turns to regard this thing she may or may not have just secured the purchase of.

A vinyl record. She gives a little laugh, and hopes it sounds natural and unaffected. (It in fact sounds incredibly nervous, like a high-pitched series of hiccups masquerading poorly as a giggle.)

"Just what I've always... wanted!"

Nyamo heads for the nearest shrimp tray. Nearest being important, because she wants to see if someone else outbids her. It doesn't seem likely, though. Well, she's just given back to her old school...

<Pose Tracker> Sang-min Song [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"I'll be sure to let her know." Sang-min laughs, head bobbing again. To Greg Universe, another nod. "Yes, it's an impressive sword. Beautiful work. I'd take it, if it was just the hilt." He discusses this causal, like picking out groceries and not priceless treasures. He is, however distracted by something else--Nyamo's bid!

"Excuse me just a moment." Sang-min's eyebrows arch when he spots the bid go up, and he hurries over to immediately jam in an even larger number. Though she may be spared from her mistake, she must now face the consequences of being thought a connoisseur: "You must have an ear for music, miss. I'm glad there are others to appreciate it. Have you heard the earlier works? People say the earliest were the best, but it was really the middle, especially..." He looks like he could go on a while.

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

It starts on the far side of the room, in the dining area, which has been set with gorgeous round tables of eight (even the tableclothes were a competition, and the winner is this fabulously soft bamboo weave) -- their gentle green begins to turn just a bit gray.

It creeps over the ballroom floor, next, swallowing the glittering tiles, their elaborate mosaic of a rose burnished, here and there, with equally roseate gold. They still shimmer, afterwards, but it's with an earthier shine than metal.

Like the waterline in a filling pool, the magic rises; perhaps filling a beaker is more accurate. It took long moments to submerge the floor, but vertically it ascends all at once in a rush.

Even petrified, many of the treasures possess a gorgeous design. The lines of Kimie's table are still sinuous; the bird-sword is still lovely. The vinyl, though, doesn't look like much now, and neither does the tea cup. And Picasso's work, never three-dimensional, becomes nothing more exciting than a concrete wall.

The same can be said of the adults in the room. All color is lost, but they retain fine detail, down to the ridges of their fingernails; their ties and cummerbunds, their high heels and higher hairdos, their ringlets and their flowers -- stone, all, and instantaneously so, catching them in some surprisingly intimate moments.

Sang-min leaning in towards a relieved Nyamo, with Akio on the prowl back towards them as well, and Kimie on the outskirts. Greg and Priyanka deep in discussion about the most important thing of all, alongside Mr. Akamizu. Tsubasa catching up with her husband's illicit bids, while Sawako makes a play for a pendant that has gone all but forgotten amid other excitement.

The only sound in the vast, statue-filled chamber is scraping -- not stone on stone, but metal on stone. Butter-smooth, but not without raising a geyser of brilliant blue sparks, the sword slides into the center of the room. Not the bird-sword, no. This one is far older, far darker, and far more dangerous. At least, in the hands that wield it now.

The Black Knight does not so much as creak as they straighten from their full-plated kneel, and surveys their handiwork.

Then they gaze up at the moon through the vast glass ceiling of this place, as it emerges from a cloud -- and they wait, with only silence for company.