2019-03-30 - TIMELINE 3: Oh-Ho-Ho! A Christmas Celebration

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Title: TIMELINE 3: Oh-Ho-Ho! A Christmas Celebration

The Community Festival Planning Committee holds a Christmas celebration, and Rei is at the forefront. Thankfully, Marinette is here to bring her family's baked goods -- and Nori has accepted the invitation to venture outside, despite her worries.


Rei Hino, Nori Ankou, Marinette Dupain-Cheng


Shitamachi Low City - Uminari Seaside Park

OOC - IC Date:

2019-03-30 - 2014-12-25

.**************************** Shitamachi Low City *****************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Uminari Seaside Park +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 Brisk breezes with a salty-sharp tang dance over crisply trimmed grass,
 blowing frisbees off their course, tugging playfully at ribbons, and
 generally being an omnipresent reminder of the nearby ocean. The lawns are a
 popular place to think and read, but especially to picnic and play,
 populated with various curious statues and objects d'art, and even a clean,
 bright playground that features a gigantic penguin-shaped slide well-beloved
 by all children in walking distance. A paved boardwalk follows the rocky
 shoreline unobtrusively, except where it rises into a red brick bridge to
 cross a nearby river gradually injecting itself into the sea.

 Following the sparkling, sedately flowing river inland a ways along any of
 several winding, shaded paths, clever leeves transform it into a clear lake
 perfect for rickety rowboats. The sunny lawns give way to larger and larger
 trees, filled with birdsong and the soft chirps of furry wildlife, and the
 understory is replete with flowers, tended in both raised beds and lovely
 meadows. Reasonably comfortable wooden benches dot the landscape, and
 occasionally the path emerges partway over the water, railings enclosing as
 cozy a place with as romantic a view as anyone could hope for.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Today, the Community Festival Planning Committee -- under direction from up-and-coming Rei Hino -- has taken a slightly less convential tack. Christmas is not, under strictest regulations, a festival, but as the young Hino argued, it is a celebration which betters the life of the community.

Also, parties are fun.

And so we come to now: Uminari Seaside Park, with permits for an outdoors celebration. It's mid-afternoon, and the sun is peeking out from behind clouds which have previously deposited merry snowdrifts midst the statues. There are more objects d'art which have been rolled out for this celebration -- ice sculptures, a Santa and elves and reindeer. Now that the most romantic day of the year, Christmas Eve, has come and gone, it is time for the day to celebrate bonds of friendship: Christmas!

The snow has, of course, been tamed here by the efforts of frantic festival-planners: the boardwalk is clear, and the lawns, with their ice sculptures to admire, are easily-traversed. Music has been provided for the various groups of friends which have gathered here, a lovely little band which is playing all the Christmas tunes which will soon be shelved for another year. There are, of course, snacks here, a delightful table set up with Christmas cookies, striped candy-canes, the Christmas cake which everyone loves so much.

The hostess herself is dressed in a merry red dress with white fluffy trim, a broad belt, a red coat and a jaunty hat which manages to evoke the general image of Santa Claus. She carries a sack over a shoulder, and most of the contents are simple little things - cookies or chestnuts, or toys for children.

Most of them.

"Oh-ho-ho!" She calls, in impeccable Ohtori manner, as she hands off one of those little presents to a boy who runs off back to his mother to unwrap it. "Merr~rry Christmas~!"

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


Imagine that was in big blocky katakana.

Nori Ankou doesn't go to a lot of parties. The world seems scarier. Darker, sharper-edged. She feels anxious a lot. Her little white lie of having a health crisis that keeps her from always making it to class seems to be coming true. She has tried to reach out to her comrades in the Tuners, but...

... She's always said she's doing alright, when it comes to it, and so...

She's wearing a warm Akamira coat, mostly black with a patch of violet-yellow fabric looping around part of one sleeve, as she approaches the seaside park. Nori Ankou walks uncertainly as she looks at the snow, hair brushed against by the breeze.

She dares to smile at the ice sculptures.

Of course, of course - she moves towards the snacks. And then, a familiar laugh comes, and her head turns, and Nori turns to face that laugh...!

"Ah," she says, "Hino... or, ah, should I call you Santa right now?" Nori smiles again, a little less tentatively, as the en-gifted child flees to the joyous safety of mother.

<Pose Tracker> Marinette Dupain-Cheng [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Christmas is always an incredibly busy time of year for the Dupain-Cheng household. The little boulangerie does a great deal of business this time of year, with preorders for Christmas Cake going back for months. Most of the day up to this point had the family in full swing running their little business, with the daughter largely relegated to cashier duties.

Handing over Chloe Bourgeois's preorder was frankly an awkward and tense moment for all concerned.

Eventually, though, the chaos died down a little, and Marinette was given leave to go and check out some of the day's events...on one particular condition. A condition connected to the Community Festival Planning Committee, even.

It's just a bit of a long walk. That, surely, is why she's running a few minutes late - that, and presumably stopping to gawk. There was that glimpse of red on the rooftops earlier, a sign that Ladybug is out and about today to watch for trouble. Hard to spot now, but she's probably around somewhere.

Probably somewhere close and not wearing herself out with a double life.

The party's latest arrival is also dressed in Akamira red - not the most expensive coat on the market, but it's a sleek jacket with a flared hem that evokes just the slightest hint of danger. Marinette Dupain-Cheng has chosen to accompany it with a dainty little beret of her own design, and is breathing heavy puffs of fog as she stumbles to a halt between Nori and Rei.

"Hi-iiiiey, Santa-san!" A sheepish grin, as she holds up a box with a cute little sticker on it. "It was kind of chaos at the bakery, there was a whole confrontation with a nemesis and I just realized she didn't tip and that's going to throw off the - never mind, not important. Anyway, the cranberry rolls you ordered are here - sorry for the wait!"

It's a box, and it smells of the season. Belatedly, she looks around, spotting the snack table nicely positioned where she isn't, and the grin fades. "...I was supposed to put it over there, wasn't I? I, er...this is a very nice party?"

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Yes, one of their number has been coming to class less often lately - health reasons, supposedly. It's not really Rei's business, but if Nori just happened to get an invitation to a party so she wouldn't be stuck at home all the time feeling bad now she doesn't even have class to draw her out...

... well, no one can explain that.

It's an Akamira sort of party, at least close to THE SNACKS; Rei is, of course, in Akamira red as well. "Ho ho - oh!" At that tentative sound, Santa's call is interrupted by a surprised little noise. Rei turns and smiles, bright and relieved to see that that mysterious person's plot has, in fact, resulted in Nori getting out. "Nori-san! I'm delighted to see you here!"

She asides, sly: "You can use my name, just don't reveal me to the world." This is, of course, a clever joke about her being Santa, and has absolutely no application in any other sphere, because there's no way Rei is living a double life.

No one here is! Especially not the girl who stumbles in a huff. "Marinette-san!" Rei claps her hands together, the sack swinging a little in the motion. "Thank you for bringing them -- these will definitely make people happy. Why don't we head over and put them down?" It's a nice way of navigating past the fact that their delivery girl has fumbled the delivery.

The SNACK TABLE isn't far, and there is, in fact, a place for the rolls; Rei specifically requested ones from this specific bakery. Under the guise of distracting them with snacks, she digs through her sack, searching for something in particular. Her tone is less glossy as she mutters to herself: "ugh, come on, it was here somewhere..."


"I mean, how hard could it be to find these things in a sack?" Rei asks the birds perched on her windowsill, as she slips in presents which are definitely not generic.

Phobos fluffs herself up and caws.

"Oh, don't give me that look," Rei rolls her eyes. "It's not like I can carry two sacks."

Deimos clicks her beak and tilts her head.

"It'll be fine!" Rei insists, hotly.


It is not fine.

Rei grumbles to herself as she digs in through her sack, trying to find the specific presents she hid there. It is entirely frustrating. And then she actually finds what she was looking for and -- wait, wait, no, that's a different one.

Okay. This time she finds them. Her smile returns as she digs out two presents, handing them over to Marinette and Nori, who were, hopefully, too distracted by snacks to notice her comedy of errors. "Oh-ho-ho-ho!" She declares. "Merry Christmas, Nori-san! Merry Christmas, Marinette-san!"

(They are, respectively: a little glass-blown sculpture of an otter with a little woven ribbon necklace which looks suspiciously hand-crafted, and a set of fancy pens suitable for use in marking out patterns on fabric, in a wooden box which, again, seems to have been decorated by hand.)

<Pose Tracker> Marinette Dupain-Cheng [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

The snack table is an impressive spread, even without any baked goods from the Dupain-Cheng bakery. Marinette skims over the table, mostly just taking in the sight - although there's a strange sort of cheerful noise coming from her general direction at some elegant little baklava.

While Rei is distracted, she sneaks a couple onto a napkin and into her purse. Just to try later. They'll definitely be there when she gets home.

(They won't.)

More importantly, there's a hole to be filled. Marinette opens the box, revealing glossily glazed rolls with bits of crimson cranberry interspersed with cinnamon and nuts - something that might be a little heavy but it's likely sweet. A few moments of adjusting the pile to be a little more elegant, and then she turns to Nori while Rei digs for gifts. "I really am sorry I was late - I still can't believe how many cakes we had to hand out earlier. Did I miss the judging for those ice sculptures, or is that happening later?"

Oblivious to the comedy of errors behind her, Marinette jumps at the sudden jovial laugh. Literally jumps, banging her knee on the table and hopping on one foot for a moment. Distantly, a pile of cookies slowly topples over, a perfect balance left to ruin.

"Ow ow - wait, a present?" She peers inside, equal parts curious and baffled, and openly stares at the fanciness contained within. "That - this - Hino-senpai! You didn't need to go this far, honest! And here I am with works in progress that aren't anywhere near done and I don't have anything to give back- "

She's babbling, and her mental image quickly goes to slammed-shut Ohtori gates and a mountain of coal spawning an avalanche towards her.

"-I don't have anything ready this instant but honestly I can finish up one of my projects!" A quick fashion-designer's eye glances at Rei, and finds absolutely nothing because Santa outfits trump all. "Which, er. There's the gloves, or the hat, or that belt - what do you like most, senpai?"

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

Nori looks towards the arriving Marinette, saying to her as she does, "Bonjour," as she has done in the past. She smiles, and she slides her hands into her coat pockets, and then she looks towards Rei.

"... Thank you," she says, "for the invitation. Ah. I'm surprised that you are having a party like this. Or is it a party that you are only involved with?"

And then Rei goes digging in her sack. "I won't tell a soul," Nori promises her, before she looks towards Marinette and asks her, "Were you invited here also..? I always feel a bit awkward, when I have situations like this, where I was invited personally. It's flattering, but I just... worry, that other people will see, and will be upset that they themselves were not invited... I'm sorry, I don't mean - to -"

Rei hands her something.

She looks down.

She opens the small protective box and when she looks inside the winter light sparkles in the piece of blown glass, the mustelid shape - the ribbon -

Her eyes well up suddenly. Her lips thin. Her cheeks scrunch up a little. "H-hinosaaaaan," she half-blubbles, clasping it to her coat-wrapped chest afterwards. "Aaaa-- How did you know - it's so beautiful, so BEAUTIFUL, so beautiful - I'll remember it forever--"

A beat later, she sniffles and looks towards Marinette. "... It's a big day for cakes, isn't it?"

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Who would be a terrible enough fiend to steal baklava?!

It is a mystery.

One mystery which wasn't a mystery at all was, of course, Rei's invitation. She laughs, waving a hand. "Oh, it's no problem! This is a Committee event - but, you know, between us..." Here she leans in a little, lowers her voice: "It's all my initiative." She's a mover and a shaker, and it helps that she has the social clout to be able to make these suggestions.

"Don't worry, don't worry!" Rei assures Marinette, a little distracted, as she searches through her packs. "The judging hasn't started yet!" Little do they know, the final judge has not yet arrived, and between being the Santa face of this party Rei has been running around trying to figure out where he's gone. Running an event is stressful..!

She doesn't say that, of course, because they are guests at her party and they are going to have a good time and everyone is going to be impressed.

And as she hands out her presents, it at least seems like that last part is going swimmingly, even if Marinette fumbles her awareness roll. The presents, in fact, go over better than she'd expected. Perhaps it's not surprising; she is not, strictly speaking, always the friendly of girls, though she has a smile for every social event. It might be a strange affirmation of the fact that despite her prickliness, Rei Hino is paying attention.

Her cheeks flush, and she laughs, free hand curling at her mouth. "Don't worry about it, Marinette-san! But I think, of your work, I like your hats most --" she gestures to the dainty beret atop her head, as if to illustrate her point.

While Marinette babbles, Nori blubbles, and Rei redirects from what she's saying as she chokes out words. "Ah, Nori-san..." For a moment she wonders if she's supposed to perhaps reach out and pat her on the shoulder at this point. It's too bad Usagi isn't here, she thinks. She's hopeless, but she'd know just what to do in the face of an outpouring of emotion. "... I'm so glad you like it," she says, instead, and the warmth there is entirely genuine.

"Yes," she catches onto Nori's redirection, looking towards the snack table. "There are so many good cake..s..."

This is the exact moment Rei notices the cookie platter tiiiiiilting.

Her eyes go wide, and she makes a sound which can't decide whether it's a squeak or a strangled word which is entirely improper for a young lady, and she scrambles forward to catch it --

-- just as the plate was about to soar into oblivion.

"Safe!" She declares, as if she's playing a game of baseball, as she slips a hand under the plate. She only realises a moment later that she has dropped her Santa sack, and now there are presents everywhere. Rei breathes in. Rei breathes out.

"... Merry Christmas to the ground!" She declares, brightly.

<Pose Tracker> Marinette Dupain-Cheng [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

To Nori's question, Marinette seems a little sheepish. "It's kind of a weird story. I've been trying to help out with the bakery more this week, and the whole Committee thing got entangled, and then Hino-senpai sent me a text - so I wound up here for some reason or other. It's an honour! Just a little...embarrassing?"

There's some truth there - over the last few days, old projects have been getting picked up again, Marinette slowly getting back into initiatives she'd let lie fallow for a few months.

But then there were gifts, and shin-banging, and painful hops and glowing gratitude and it's so much she can't really handle. Marinette steps back a moment, bumping against the table again and giving Nori room to gush as she really needs to.

Hino-senpai - or Rei - has an answer to her question, and there's a warm smile on her face as she looks down at that hand-crafted box. Even without the gift that lies within, there's creativity in the gift and that's what matters most. Marinette Dupain-Cheng says, "Okay! A hat it is. I've got a few ideas that should be appropriate for, uh, days that aren't today! Not that today isn't appropriate, it's just that being Santa-san is kind of a limited-time..."

And then the switch of subject. "What? Oh yes - Christmas Cake at least. Great day to be a baker, as long as you don't need sleep!"

Marinette woke up at four AM this morning. This meant she missed the first few hours of prep work.

This is why she doesn't notice the plate toppling until it's well too late to do anything about it. Rei Hino, fortunately, is an amazing human being capable of salvaging many a disaster, whereas Marinette Dupain-Cheng is clumsy enough to injure her knee while being given a gift-

Marinette looks at her knee. Then the table. Then the ground, where Rei has caught the cookies at the expense of wishing happy holidays to the earth beneath them.

"...sorry. I'm...not getting another invite any time soon, am I?"

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

"But why Christmas?" Nori asks Rei, with a sort of guileless innocence.


Batiste D'Otter is hiding behind a rock. He has his winter parka on - it is water proof. Mme. Meduse is bobbing with him, glowing an amiable light lime green, because she finds this encouraging. Batiste peers forwards, having been unable to make out the gift that Rei gave Nori.

"... This was a good decision."

Meduse gleams a cooler blue, with a anxious threading of forest-green afterwards.

"... I don't know," Batiste sighs. "Maybe nothing can. But we must be confident. This is far from the end. All sorts of people have had sad ends - at least she has not started, I do not know, terrorizing movie theaters."

Meduse's colors go completely blank for a moment, then return to the lime green.


Nori takes a deep breath.

"What's being judge--"

COOKIE PERIL! Nori tenses up even as Rei dives, and she says to Marinette, a little shakily, "Oh yes, the committee - you mean the council, or, the party committee, and, oh, oh the poor - " But Rei has saved the cookies. What cost was this heroism? Spilled presents. Nori crouches down and immediately starts pushing the drift of generosity closer together.

She pauses, mid-shove, to ask Marinette, "Why?"

What innocence!

Soon enough though Nori has at least got hold of that bag and is attempting to refill it. If there was a filing system it is now ruined.

"... I'm sorry," she says to Marinette, completing, perhaps, the circle of apology. "I just... I haven't been to a party in a while. I think it's going to be alright, Marinette..."

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.


And Marinette immediately jumps to the worst conclusion, as she does. "No - no, it's fine," Rei sighs, biting back her initial urge to chide her for being clumsy, because she is still a guest at Rei's party. "Just be more careful, okay..?"

Okay, she couldn't help chiding her a little, but she can only control so much.

Luckily, Nori is here to save the presents, and Rei puffs out a breath with a smile as she sets the cookies down securely and crouches down to help scoop them into the bag, too. "Thanks," she says, and looks up to Marinette, because it's a more complicated web of consequences than just being irritated. Nori's trying to adjust to getting out, Marinette has been working as hard as Rei would... "Really," she assures her, still smiling, "don't worry about it. I packed these better than to get hurt bouncing around a bit!"

She picks up one of the presents, and considers it. "You asked me why Christmas, right?" She asks, of Nori. "Well, you know... after our dates on Christmas Eve..." Of which she definitely had one, shut up, it happened, "... we deserve a day to celebrate with our friends, right? It's nice to be able to get out and see everyone, and have a good time. I want everyone to have a day they can remember and enjoy themselves, you know?"

Of course, it helps that the enjoyment will also mean they'll remember how great she is, but that is beside the point. "So don't feel too bad, okay? Stick around and enjoy yourself! They'll be judging the ice sculptures soon," here she glares to the side and mutters: "even if I have to go drag Touga-san out by his fancy hair I swear to..." and looks back to them with a smile again. "Let's have a good time!"

<Pose Tracker> Marinette Dupain-Cheng [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Any reasonable questions about how entangled Marinette wound up in festival planning is left in the ashes of what was fleetingly a reputation of competence. Nori's action does shake Marinette's horror, and she starts trying to at least tidy up the other platters on the table to make sure nothing else is on the verge of collapse.

"....sorry, again. To both of you. I just...tend to panic. And overreact. And get caught up in wild imagined scenarios of minor mistakes snowballing into grand disasters." She bites her lip before she can spiral off into one of those disaster ideas, like some kid having a present ruined and getting corrupted into an Akuma, or knocking over candles and setting half the party ablaze, or accidentally letting the wrong words slip causing her identity to be leaked to all of Tokyo and a world-warping artifact getting stolen-

She has a lot of panic, okay?

"I'll try. And- okay, I think the rest of the plates are stable. The gifts are really okay?" She breathes a sigh of relief, turning back to her two senpai and taking in the cheer of the day. Right up until Rei mentions last night, at which there is a sigh of ultimate dismay. "Yeah. Dates. Maybe next year, in the hopes I'm less of a walking disaster. Maybe I should start listening to Tsukino-senpai's advice..."

Which advice she means, may never be stated.

"Thanks for hosting this! And a good time is totally being had - the ice sculptures! I wanted to get a good look at those, thanks for reminding me!" She gives Nori and Rei both a beaming smile, and darts over to those sparkling statues of frost and fleeting fancy, to take in what beauty has been carved there.

With luck, some of them might even survive.