623/The Masquerade Ball of Princess Dia

From Radiant Heart MUSH

The Masquerade Ball of Princess Dia
Date of Scene: 21 October 2023
Location: Plot Room 1
Synopsis: The D----- Kingdom is hosting a masquerade ball to celebrate Princess Dia coming of age. It might be an expensive, ticketed event, but that hasn't stopped a variety of RHA cast members from attending! There are dances, conversations, and of course, the stunning revelation that Hannah is Sailor V!
Cast of Characters: Usagi Tsukino, Sayaka Miki, Hinote Kagari, Mamoru Chiba, Hinoiri Kirara, Hannah Steiner, Amanda Faust, Adrien Agreste, Makoto Kino, Miya Sakamoto, Pyrite, Rei Hino, Coco Kiumi, Jadeite, Nephrite, Kyouka Inai, Kazuo Saitou, Naru Osaka, Kureha Senkenzan
Tinyplot: Masquerade of Princess Dia

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Government buildings all tended towards the same look - tall, blocky buildings, built with all the soul of an empty cicada shell. Embassy buildings, as places of political power and prestige on foreign soil, were often this to the most grandiose scale, taller, blockier, utterly lacking in creativity. They were places of business far from home, where the people often worked long hours filing documents in triplicate if they were lucky, but often in sextuplicate, because if one was lucky, one did not work in the consulate.

The D----- Kingdom's embassy in Japan is - strikingly different from this pattern. Perhaps that's because the D----- Kingdom is a small European nation that few knew or cared about. Perhaps it is because the rulers of the D----- Kingdom are known for being eccentric. Whatever the cause, rather than being a square and ugly building of questionable taste, the D----- Kingdom's embassy is a Western-style mansion nestled at the base of Sendai Hill, surrounded by tasteful landscaping. Given the season, most would expect the large cherry trees to be largely barren and fading as the seasons changed - instead, they were still heavy with blossoms, the air sweet with the scent of them. These were Autumn Cherry trees, which bloomed twice yearsly, and this party was in the midst of their bloom.

The trees offered shade for a wide path of paved stone, leaning to the mansion's front entrance; guests were arriving through the front walk as well as the back of the mansion, with paparazzi gathered at the front of the mansion, taking pictures of the many celebrities, politicians, and other famous people in attendance. Even a prince of the imperial family is present!

And yet, despite this, it's still possible to sneak into the party - be it through servant's entrances, by pretending to be staff, or by simply boldly walking through with enough confidence that the ticket checkers don't... ticket check. Some may be attending as actual employees of the event - caterers, waiters, cleaning staff. Either way, once inside the mansion that is also the embassy, guests would be guided to the ballroom, where the festivities are taking place. The entire mansion has been decorated with a color scheme of blue and silver, and nowhere is this more emphasized than the ballroom, where tasteful silver ties and blue accents give the room a cooling, sophisticated essence. It's evident that diamonds are the theme - several diamond-studded chandeliers act as decor on the ceiling, ribbons closed with diamonds decorate the closed window.

The masquerade ball will not feature a meal - instead, there are several high, round tables in corners of the room, where guests can stand and mingle. Waiters dressed in blacks suit and tie stride evenly across the floor, some bearing trays with champagne flutes and others with a variety of hors d'oeuvres options. The dance floor, currently occupied with a variety of slowly swaying couples and compatriots, was pale white marble, the acoustics of the room easily carrying the sweet sound of the classical music played by the live band. The effect of the entire presentation was that of old money wealth, intimidating and unwelcoming.

Despite the many famous faces in the audience, none were that of Princess Dia - it would seem the princess intended to make her appearance only shortly before she was to be gifted the national treasure of D----- Kingdom.

Sayaka Miki has posed:
How lucky it was for Sayaka that a side-job she wanted to pick up had replied to her within a day of money becoming a pressing concern, when she accidentally startled Norie and caused her phone to enter flight mode in the drastic way.

So, the bluenette is here, attending the ball not by infiltrating it or faking to be an employee, but actually serving as one of the caterers, and as such she is wearing the uniform for her role.

She has finished setting up her assigned tables, and now she is carrying food around for the esteemed guests, or guests, that ask for it.

Hinote Kagari has posed:
Hinote Kagari has an invite. With proxy by his dad, famous actor Kinzo Kagari. His mom had business to attend to at home, so the police woman isn't here. Thusly, today's outfit is a an opulent burgundy suit with a white undershirt, and similarly colored slacks, with black dress shoes. He has a bright, red tie. His mask is a classic domino mask done in the same burgundy style. It's otherwise un-fascinating.

He's wandered away from his famous father to explore the party and hobnob. That's when Hinote steals a petit four off one of Sayaka's trays and gives her a little wink. "Thank you!" he says as he observes the treat with his eyes before popping it into his mouth.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Usagi Tsukino enters the ball through the main entrance and on Mamoru Chiba's arm, the two of them being legitimate ticket holders. The joy of having a rich boyfriend eager to embezzle from his workplace is expensive dates, after all, and this one was doing double duty - the chance to spend time with Mamoru at an exclusive, fancy event and the chance to see if this wonderful national treasure was the Silver Crystal, and if the young Princess Dia was the senshis own long-lost princess.

"I feel like we're movie stars or something, coming to a place like this," Usagi whispers to Mamoru, giggling a little.

She feels decidedly unlike her usual self, with the upper half of her face hidden by a pale pink mask studded with gems, equally pale feathers rising from the center to crest with her, with the flowing dress she wore, delicate lace rising from the bodice to the neckline. What especially helps with that dreamy, not herself experience is the fact that her hair is out of it's usual style - her iconic buns and twintails nowhere to be seen; instead, after far too much thought and hesitation, she had asked Naru to help her brush the endless length of hair so that it fell down in a voluminous wave. It swayed when she moved, and felt heavier than usual for being loose and unhindered.

She feels loose and unhindered too. Mamoru is warm where they touch, and she knows that people will see them here, that Rei-chan will be here and disapprove, but she also doesn't care.

She loves him. Let everyone else see it.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
It'd been a while since Mamoru -- 'Darien' to almost everyone here -- has thought of what Usagi might look like with her hair down. Not since that time she was injured and her hair was coming out of its odango, and he brought her detangler and a brush she could get rid of, so she wouldn't have to think of it again. Not since before he knew she was Sailor Moon.

When he went to pick her up in his white tie and tails, he was knocked breathless -- not only because of the lovely dress, but also because she let down her hair for him. She let down her hair.

For him.

Truly, he's slightly jealous that all these other people get to see her hair down as well, but they're not there on a date with her, so it's only a little jealous.

"I know, right?" murmurs Mamoru back to Usagi, craned down so they can hear each other when quiet; they have a system worked out for it. "Do you think people will recognise us? You're always lovely, but you're like a fairy right now-- I keep expecting to see little lights dancing around you."

No matter how many things there are to worry about, a masquerade ball at which there is royalty is something that puts it all out of mind, and Mamoru's there with Usagi, she came with him, she let down her hair, his heart is in his throat and he wants to sing, he wants everyone to see them, he wants everyone to know. Instead, he's still quiet, bent down again to murmur another secret: "I googled how to waltz before we left."

Hinoiri Kirara has posed:
Hinoiri Kirara had an invite. How she got it, nobody but her knew. If asked, she'd say her mentor had sent it, an automated thing. Then be vague about the details. One day that might make people pause and question where she truly got it from, but today? Today she'd just be there with a ticket.

She was wearing a black dress (okay, when did she NOT wear black?) a one piece number with sheer lace for the arms and around the shoulders. With a little sunflower choker. Her mask was a red, gem encrusted gaudy thing, the kind of thing that screamed 'I have money, so much money I can do whatever I want and it doesn't matter if I waste it on things like this for a fashion statement'.

While in her last world, this kind of thing would have annoyed her. A night of standing next to Sora while a bunch of annoying people came and walked up to her and talked their ears off and she felt like they were wasting her time. Where nobody really cared about anyone else aside from who had the fanciest styles, who was 'hot' and who was 'not'. Where the rich came to show how 'rich' they were and blah blah blah blah.

A year ago she would have ignored it... But a year ago she had Sora. A year ago she wasn't... alone. A year ago she wasn't the only unicorn in the world, trapped in the body of a human.

She didn't recognize any of these people. They were all human. The mask made it feel... weird. She couldn't identify any of them. She walked by Sayaka, taking a piece of food from the tray and kept walking.

She missed home. She missed home like she couldn't believe. The party had only just started, but seeing the crowds... it reminded her that she was alone. She had nobody. If she fell, nobody would come to help her up. If she wasn't...

Once again she found her mind drifting towards the book back home. All she had to do was open it... she could go back. Beg for another...

Beg. That was the definitive word, wasn't it? Beg for what she deserved. No. Beg to be LESS than she deserved. She put the little cucumber sandwich in her mouth and chewed slowly.

She'd rather die than crawl back. This? This was easy. She didn't need anybody. She was strong. So strong. It was why she'd come here. To walk through a crowd of people while alone. Because it showed how strong she was, right? How she didn't need anybody. All she ever needed was her, herself and she. Nothing at all like that long, blond bint with the pink mask she saw walk in with her far too perfect boyfriend. Yeah. She wasn't like them. SHE was special. She was destined for greatness. These people were all here to SEE royalty. One day she'd BE royalty. Then they'd all know... no. She'd leave this world behind. None of them would know. She'd be as insignificant to them... as they were to her.

... Stupid cat and her big amazonian titan of a girlfriend making her think these thoughts. It was all their fault. She hoped the two of them got in more fights and got to feel loneliness. She bet neither of them were here and definitely WEREN'T having some stupid romantic dance thing...

... Because she was strong.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
There's no way in the galaxy that Hannah of House Steiner is going to miss an opportunity to be among her people. And so, rather than focus on the dumptruck of her emotions and problems, she's taken to research obsessively over the D- Kingdom. Culture, history, and most importantly? As much of the language and appropriate greetings-slash-customs as she can get her Belkan paws on.

And then there's the matter of getting in. She knows she can fake it. But going there alone might be suspicious. One person immediately comes to mind, and after calling in a favor or two with a few drama club members she knows from fencing class? Well she's grabbed her girlfriend, modified a few official Tharkadian diplomatic ID's that Blauer Greif has on file, then heartlessly abuses one of RHA's printers. Then it's off to raid the her own, Amy's, and the drama club's closets.

And so, with her beloved Engel on one arm, Baroness Lyria Lina Olivie Sägebrecht of the Definitely Real equally tiny European country 'Thakkan' arrives. She wears a deep blue dress, a shoulderless affair, a warm stole she's kept from her previous outfit wrapped about her neck. At her chest is a sewn-on patch, of a Blue clenched mailed fist. It ends at her knees, slitted on one side with black garters and ending in yellow, rather shiney looking faux-gold high heels she's looted from the drama department. Under an armpit is a cane, her dark glasses absent on her face and her hair down in twintails that is somewhat close to a certain Odango's own, though far shorter and sharper. A black half-mask covers the top of her face, and with feathered ends. Clip-on earrings with dangling silver charms completes her look.

As she passes by the ticketer, she flashes that diplomatic id, as well as a stack of similarly official looking documents, and something that can at a glance look like it might be the edge of a ticket. Frustratingly right in the middle. Nor does she slow down, ignoring the ticketer with a little, haughty wiggle of her nose.

All her attention is right on her Lady-in-Waiting!

"Do you truly believe this /miniscule/ D---- Kingdom Princess shall live up to what the diplomatic channels say, mein dear Lady of mein heart? Ahh, well, at least we shall have one more dance before the wedding together und we /properly/ join you to the House of Sägebrecht!"

Inwardly, she prays to the Sankt Kaiser for the blasphemy she's committing.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Her face pinks at Mamoru's compliments, one hand coming up to hide her smile. "If they do, it'll definitely be a surprise. I know a few people are coming, but they all have things to do - other people to be with. And you're one to talk... you look like a prince. A handsome prince sweeping me off my feet."

Because he is, and he has. She wore her hair down, for him. She never wears her hair down, not in public, not where people could see, because it felt more - vulnerable. People could see her, loose and unhibited, not just her personality but herself. But she wanted to be that way - for Mamoru. For the two of them, together.

And he really was like a fairytale prince - a shining knight, in his white coat and tails, with his hair pulled back, the nape of his neck vulnerable, his mask hiding none of the warmth in his eyes. He makes her feel like she's walking on air, like his arm is all that tethers her to the ground.

And when he says that he's googled waltzing? That he's tried to learn to dance, for her, so they could dance, here, at the ball, at a place for princes and princesses and all the austere beauty of a fancy event? She's warm to her toes. She researched embezzlement for him, to get back at his company. He researched dancing, for her, so they could make the most of this night.

"You'll guide me through it," she murmurs, and is pleased at the thought. She lifts her gaze from his reluctantly, remembering there's more to tonight than just spending time with her boyfriend, and casts a glance around - "Ah... Hannah-chan is here. We might want to move along, just a little? Haha."

It wasn't killing the mood, to see her beloved friend, but, well, the last time her sweetheart and her older-sister-in-spirit met, the one had kind of, a little bit, definitely put the other in the hospital. So. There was that to think about.

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Amy's closet has nothing to contribute. Her magic, however...

    It's ironic. Amy loves cosplay, but masquerades are something else, aren't they? A pop-culture inspired costume just isn't fitting... unless it's very old pop culture. You can be, like, a fairy or something, but not, say, princess Peach or Marisa Kirisame. Frantically searching for a costume idea eventually leads to one idea snagging Amy's brain. ...120 years is enough, right?

    Lady-in-waiting 'Cardia Angela von Gisela' of the Definitely Real country 'Thakkan' also arrives, hanging off Hannah--err, Lyria's arm.

    Bared shoulders are where the similarity in their costumes end. The body of Cardia's costume is a shoulderless white dress, with thin straps and very short sleeves, which hangs down to just above her knees, flowy and without much shape to it save that more fabric at the bottom than the top causes it to fall in, not pleats exactly, forgive the player's lack of fashion vocabulary. There's a jeweled decoration on the front of the dress's collar, four gems in a sort of cloverleaf pattern. Satin slippers and either tights or long stockings are standard enough... Where the costume gets distinctive is the head decoration: A circlet, with the Stein--err, 'Thakkan' fist emblem on the front, big red flowers positioned kind of like Leia's cinnamon rolls, and a long, gossamer veil all around, open in front, and so long that it hangs down to her calves. A white half-mask, face-shaped although not exactly matching *her* face, and tourmaline-colored lipstick complete the outfit. The royalty-adjacent of one fake country dressed as the princess of another.

    And under that mask, Amy is nervous as hell as she clings to Hannah's arm while her girlfriend bluffs them in. This could all go wrong. She has no idea how to act fancy! Oh no, oh no! She hurries along through with Hannah past the ticketer, and gives a sigh of relief when they are not accosted. Hannah asks her a question and she just stares, wide-eyed, for a moment. *What*?

    ...Oh right, yes, their parts. Lady-in-Waiting Cardia considers the question, and then blushes brightly. "I-I... um... well... yes, we'll..." She smiles. "Hopefully more than *one* dance tonight."


    Amy hisses a whisper, "Hannah! I don't know how to dan-- I'll just follow your lead like at the last one."

Adrien Agreste has posed:
Adrien Agreste was one of those many legitimate ticket holders. His father somehow always had connections and as the representative of the brand, and his son, Adrien was almost always compelled to attend such functions. Even if his own father rarely did these days. This was one such day where his father had declared he 'couldn't be bothered he was too busy', and so Adrien had been told to go and 'be on his best behaivor.'

It wasn't hard. He'd been to so many of these before. The blonde model strides in confidently pausing only to greet the ticket taker in a friendly tone while offering over his invitation. The attire he'd chosen was stylish, and a bit flashy as his father's brand often was. A tuxedo of a color shifting fabric of a deep red to silver up toward the shoulders. The lapels themselves were simple black satin and the undershirt was black as well. The slacks were a match to the jacket in that deep burgundy but the color shift was saved only for the jacket it seemed. Black shoes, and black gloves are worn as well as his masquerade mask which was... A red and black mask of leather. Simple enough but once you realize the outer corners were curled up into little black horns it's clearly a 'devil' mask in design. Not grotesque or ugly but simple, basic, and just hinting at the blonde perhaps having a devilish personality.

Totally opposite of the truth.

He tugs the edges of his jacket straightening any wrinkles while stepping inside to glance around. There were a few familiar individuals here that he spies much to his relief. It wouldn't be the first time he had to suffer through an entire evening alone. At least he could perhaps greet those he knew so it wouldn't be such a chore.

Slipping through the slowly growing crowd he approaches Usagi and Mamoru to greet them both with a friendly, "You both look fantastic tonight! If I didn't know better I'd think you were both royalty yourselves!" He remarks with a chuckle at his joke. Totally a joke. Yep.

Sayaka Miki has posed:
As much as she is perplexed and even embarassed by Hinote's wink (she doesn't have a very good opinion of people that act forward like that), Sayaka is here to do a job, not to dally, so she keeps walking among the tables and people in gorgeous clothes (if only she could have been among them too!).

When Hinoiri passes by and takes the cucumber sandwich off her tray (maybe they are not thirsty yet, she thinks, eyeing the untouched chalices on her other tray), the bluenette gets a vague sense of familiarity.

Between the sumptuous clothes and the gaudy jewelled mask that leaves Sayaka thinking of her as a spendthrift, she doesn't actually recognise her, and so she keeps walking around there, only disappearing when the food tray needed refilling.

It's when she comes back from one of these trips that she notices the dreamy dark-haired-and-blonde couple that looks like they stepped right out of a modern fairy tale book. 'They look so happy and charming', Sayaka can't help but thinking, being so mesmerised by them she even stops walking for a few seconds, her classical side threatening to give her hearthrobbing visions.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
Speaking of things not to say -- that Jadeite had called him a prince too -- yeah.

Mamoru just laughs, still quiet, enjoying seeing Usagi so pleased. He nods at her mention of other people: "There will be plenty of other people here that it's probably a good idea to vaguely avoid, too," he says wryly, "but we'll be busy too."

"I'll definitely guide you through it. I practiced in front of a judgemental cat, so I think we'll do all right-- oh? Hannah? I don't think we've met," he says, eyebrows up over the thin lines of his luminous white mask. "How can you tell who anyone is under all the masks? Is it magic?"

And then abruptly, Adrien's there and calling them royalty--

Mamoru laughs again, but this time it's a little incredulous. "I'm glad I didn't wear a black sash or anything, things really might have gotten awkward." But then his greeting warms and he smiles, for real. "Good to see you, Adrien-san. You look more handsome than usual-- that's an excellent statement tux."

He wants to be holding Usagi's hand, but at the same time-- more of them are touching this way, with her arm through his. (Her hair is down!) He can's help it, they're obnoxious about it, he can't help it, he looks down at her again and grins, then back to Adrien. "We're already having fun. Are you waiting for someone or should we save spots on our dance cards for you?"

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Hannah doesn't disguise her laugh, her voice carrying oh-so-well! She actually /ups/ her usual tone of pure nobility, as though 'Cardia' has just whispered some delightful secret!

Sotto voce, she whispers back with an idle 'wafting' of her documents before stuffing them in a strapped bag.

"Lean into it. The Lady Cardia has only just been confirmed as royalty und the Baroness is madly in love. She would not say no. Besides. You shall need the practice." That smile sharpens into a teasing grin, as she gently pulls Amy closer, and a brief nestle of her shoulder before adjusting to something more proper.

"Many, many dances! Let us /both/ break hearts tonight! All the better to warm yours further, mein Lady-in-Waiting, future co-ruler of the great Kingdom of Thakkan!" The young woman is /giddy/. She is enjoying this waaaay too much even if she's royalty-starved. It's a little piece of almost-home. And she's going to enjoy very moment.

"But first, time to do the rounds."

Leeean, whisper. "Indeed. Worry not, these things tend towards waltzes usually. Do not trip und you shall be fine." Comes Hannah confidently. She nudges Amy gently.

Time to find people to /bother/!

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
"A very judgemental cat... did you find Himeko-chan a new one, because Luna would have told me what you were up to," she's curious now, wondering who this new cat in Mamoru's life is, and vaguely, wondering how much this cat is a cat, given that Luna is magic and Shirou had been a ghost.

"She's my friend," she explains, meaning Hannah, "And also, sees me as a little sister. And you're my boyfriend, so -" that's the easiest way to explain it, because she doesn't want to just give away Hannah's identity, but also - she doesn't know if magic will hide just how obvious it is to see that Hannah is Tragar-chan, when they had the same boisterous energy. Even now, her laughter rings out, audible under the classical music played by the band. "I can recognize her voice."

It's all the more reason to get away - except.

"Adrien!" His appearance is a surprise and her delight is real, but she does wish he'd caught them after they fled to the other side of the ballroom, rather than before. Still, she looks him up and down, finds the play of his blond hair against the red leather of his mask and the black and red-silver of his dashing. He really is a model - almost as handsome as Mamochan! She giggles, as he compares them to royalty too. "Don't let the prince hear you say that! The actual one, I mean. I'd hate for him to get jealous."

Amanda Faust has posed:
    The 'baroness' is madly in love. You shall need the practice. And the blush comes right back to her cheeks, before she's pulled in close and rests her head against Hannah, before the latter makes an announcement, and she mutters, "I'm only going to break hearts by clumsily dropping them when I'm trusted to carry them... ...what are 'the rounds?"

    And then she fakes a confident smile and walks purposefully along with Hannah.

    Yeah *not* trying to learn how to move in heels at the same time was definitely the right call here.

    She looks around the room... "...Is that Usagi?" She lowers her voice to whisper to Hannah. "From class???"

Makoto Kino has posed:
Makoto makes her way in through the main entrance, doing her best to look less uncertain and out of place than she feels. Usagi had all but insisted she accept the extra ticket - how Usagi's father had come by enough tickets that Usagi had an extra to push onto her friends, Makoto had not thought to ask - and at the time it had seemed a lovely opportunity. Now, though, she can't help but feel conscious of how tall she is, can't help comparing her dress to the luxurious ones around her.

On the other hand... there are enough foreigners about that Mako doesn't tower over the crowd as much as she expected. Her black satin off-the-shoulder gown with its dramatic red rose feels elegant enough, paired with a black lace domino mask adorned with a single red silk rose. And as she gets her first proper look around the ballroom, it doesn't take her long to spot familiar figures - there's Darien, at least, and even with her hair flowing loose the girl on his arm must be Usagi.

Maybe this won't be so bad.

Already beginning to get caught up in the atmosphere again, Makoto starts across the floor toward the little cluster of Darien and Usagi and Adrien.

Adrien Agreste has posed:
The compliment from Darien about being more handsome than usual actually catches Adrien just a bit off-guard. Enough that the smile that emerges is more of the genuine, goofy variety than the well-practiced model posing. It was more 'him' though and proof that he was at least relaxed around the pair. "You know," he remarks with a chuckle. "For all the fancy events I've had to attend on my father's behalf, I've never actually danced at any. That might be fun! So long as it's not a bother, of course," he adds quickly. It would be a first for him after all though he was fairly confident he wouldn't step on any feet. He'd had *so* many lessons. "Sadly though I'm attending alone. I thought to ask a few people, but was a bit too slow. I was trying to make sure my roommate wasn't going to attend in something... Too unique. I loaned him one of my old tuxes from a few years ago."

The loud voice rising over the music was impossible to ignore so he steals a glance over there, his green eyes seeking out the source through the growing crowd. A little tilt of his head is given toward the couple he was conversing with noticing the faint bit of tension from Usagi. "Is everything all right? I can play interference if you need at all," he offers trying to be helpful.

Makoto's approach is noticed causing him to pause as he tries to recognize beyond that mask. She definitely SEEMED familiar but he'd only ever seen her with her hair up and in her school uniform.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Poise. Poise Hannah! Her eyes sparkle a bit, that wonderful arm gets a squeeze! "Worse comes to worse? We sweep them up together. Und I shall sweep you into mein arms once more, Engel of mein Heart." Promises the young woman quietly to Amy. Her confidence all but radiates off of her!

At the familiar name as Amy spots the un-odango'd Usamask? She chokes down a happy 'acht!'.

She doesn't exactly answer Amy, not in a whisper.

"Mein Lady. I do believe I hear one of our sister nation's princesses if mein ears do not deceive! Shall we?" Her voice is pitched. Just a bit. There's humor in that voice.

Darien and Usa may need that interference Adrien! She lets Amy guide her towards the duo that, unbeknownst to her, is trying to avoid her, if not exactly her paramour.

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Amy smiles earnestly back up at Hannah. And then Hannah Acts. "...Yes, of course! Let's go say hello!"

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
"I've never danced at a big dance either," Usagi admits, "But if you don't mind the risk of getting your foot stepped on, I'd dance with you after Mamochan and I have danced."

The lovely boyfriend is her dancing priority, after all, but she knows he has another long-awaited dance lined up, and she doesn't need to cleave to him all night long. Plus, a dance with Adrien could be nice, if he doesn't mind her being clumsy about it.

"No interference necessary! I promise, I just - mmm, you know how when your friends meet you boyfriend, sometimes a shovel talk is involved?" Hannah won't make a scene at a party. She wouldn't! Definitely not. Right?

But before she can think too long on it, she spots a certain person she is positive she recognizes, even with the mask, and especially with the dress. Who else but Makoto-chan would embrace roses so thoroughly, given the rose earrings she so often wore? She waves a little, and once Makoto is closer, offers a warm greeting.

"Makoto-chan, it's good to see you! Your dress is so pretty! Adrien-kun, this is Makoto-chan, she's our friend, and she'd also be a good dance partner."

She has not asked Makoto's permission for this, but isn't forgiveness better than permission? If Adrien has never danced, then she alone can't be the dancer! Better to throw her friend on the sword of dancing with handsome boys too.

Her arm loosens from Mamoru's, hand sliding down to lace her fingers with his as she offers Makoto a quick sidehug.

Miya Sakamoto has posed:
A high-ranking butler glares down at an underling. "It is unacceptable!"

"I do not understand what the issue is," the still elegant, but much younger person, replies, over the noise of a door opening, someone walking out, someone else walking in. "We have plenty of restrooms. We can cope with one of them being out of order," he says, glancing behind himself at the incriminated door.

"You may have served in other government positions," the older butler replies. Strange gurgling and noises of aborted flushing come from the restroom. "But here? This is the top league. What is the first thing these people do when they see each other?"

"...Greet?", hazards the younger man.

"-Judge-," emphasizes the older man, before another person leaves the restroom, crestfallen, and another walks in. "Are you wearing the right clothes? Does the sudden drop in exclusivity of your shoes reveal a turn of fortune? Is your choice to wear the brooch you wore at the funeral of Baron B- a statement that you wish the current Baron of the same estate would die?"

Lowering his voice, the butler continues, "A broken toiled might sound like just a broken toilet to you, but if not managed correctly, it can lead to potentially disasterous consequences. Staff is already nervous about some classified documents having gone missing..."

"Ah, the Purple Papers? I'm pretty sure it's merely Consul T- having hidden them in an attempt to make Ambassador M- look bad to take his place."
"We cannot know. Point is, things are already tense, we cannot have a second crisis on top."

"Don't we have a plumber?"
"Sent home for the day, his presence might have reminded people of the fountain incident from last year. Cannot have that today."
"So we have called the best plumber in the city?"

Door opens, someone walks out, someone walks in. "And file form A-38 for financing the request of emergency repair personnel during a diplomatic ceremony (case B.7: priority event requiring intervention in less than 30 minutes) in triplicate?! It takes two hours on a good day!"

"I have unofficially asked everyone in the workforce if they had friends or relatives that could help, under promise of reward, and to send them here." He gestures to the next round of door opening, people coming out and in. "That was miss R-'s cousin. The next one is a schoolmate of doctor B-'s son."

"You're having -kids- try to-"

The triumphant sound of a fully functional flush erupts from the room, majestic as the Niagara Falls. "All done!", exclaims Miya, as she, wearing overalls and gloves, and holding a plunger, peeks her head out of the door. "It was the weirdest clogging situation I had ever seen." She lifts a transparent plastic bag, "Who would dispose of such a thing? And why are these rolled pieces of paper this strange purple color?"

"I'll take those!", the older man exclaims, snatching the bag from Miya's hand (and immediately regretting it, as he holds it, pinched between index and thumb, as far from his wrinkled nose as he can). "Now wait here from a moment..."
The two men retire to a corner to discuss.

"...Ok, now we're supposed to pay her. It's the rules."
"Are -you- filling out form A-38?"
One of them squints towards Miya, in the distance.
"...technically, we just have to -compensate- her..."
The other squints along, and they both grin.

* * *

When the two men return, Miya is waiting with the universal face of someone who has been promised a reward, and is now excitedly waiting for the payoff.

"There is a snag with the bureaucracy," begins the first man. "It might take a bit to sort out the payment...", adds the second. Miya is already beginning to show signs of losing hope, when the first interjects again, "But perhaps we can work on an... alternative form of compensation." The second man leans closer to Miya and whispers, "Would you like to see a princess?" Lean closer, whisper, "A -real- princess?"

Miya's eyes shimmer with excitement.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
"P-ossibly?" Darien says to Adrien, mildly alarmed at Usagi's mild alarm, as he sees a masked couple approaching them. "Is that Faust-san...?" And then he sees Makoto approaching from the direction of the door, and he looks very pleased to see her. "Kino-san!" he greets her cheerfully, his hand lacing fingers with Usagi's in turn.

And then he remembers what he was going to say to Usagi and says it as fast as he can, "I don't think Luna would want to meet Himeko-chan's new cat, no." But that has literally nothing to do with anything else anyone else was saying, so he straightens up a little and blinks at the idea of getting a shovel talk. He would expect one from the other Senshi, but someo-- oh. Oh.

Obviously this approaching Hannah is Sailor V.

Mamoru goes a little pale, and his smile's suddenly a little strained. Another thing he hasn't... really... told Usagi about. But Sailor V shouldn't have any idea of who Darien Shields is, right? Right! Everything will be absolutely fine, and then they can go dance, and then he can give Usagi her present, and then they can look for the Silver Crystal. Priorities.

Makoto Kino has posed:
"Hi, Darien-kun, Usagi-chan--?!" Makoto's friendly greeting shifts mid-syllable into a startled upward inflection of mild panic as Usagi cheerfully volunteers her as a dance partner. She returns the side-hug in kind mostly on reflex, doing a quick doble take between Usagi, Darien, and Adrien, who up close and by name she now belatedly recognizes.

"Um... it's good to see you, too, Adrien-kun. We met once before, at the Korma Chameleon." She's blushing faintly beneath the black lace edge of her mask. "I do like to dance, but you needn't feel obligated..." Most guys don't like dancing with a girl who's taller than them, after all.

She's definitely getting the impression that she's stepped into a Situation. Another careful look at Darien, and her brows draw together in concern. "Sorry, but - is something the matter? Anything I can help with?"

Pyrite has posed:
    There is a ten-year old with red eyes, long black hair, pale skin, and a duplicate of Hematite's outfit with the additional of a red satin domino mask held on with elastic standing behind Darien Shields. "...Did somebody call for me?" Himeko asks. "I thought I heard my name." On closer inspection, the costume is actually not a very accurate replica. Whatcan you expect from a Halloween costume cobbled together from different parts. But it's a suit, cape, boots, gloves, and (plastic or vinyl or something) armor. No sword, she knows better than to run around with a sword while in a precious Halloween costume.
    She looks up and notices the totally unrecognizable Usagi. "...Ah!" is her sound of acknowledgement. She has been spotted! Now her surprise costume is ruined!

Adrien Agreste has posed:
Adrien Agreste gives Usagi the most reassuring smile at mention of being clumsy. "My friend Marinette is a bit clumsy too. Don't worry, I'm sure I'd barely notice it. Of course you and Darien-kun should dance first though!" The reassurance falters only at the mention of shovels as he, too, seems to realize what may be about to occur. "Ooh one of those friends, I get you." Indeed he did.

The introduct of Makoto though earns a grin along with a shake of his head. "We've met before, actually-" he begins only for Makoto to remind him of where exactly that was. "Right, at Korma Chameleon! You joined us for dinner." Dancing though? He opens his mouth to respond to the unexpected invitation to do so, when she speaks up as well with clear uncertainty. The expression he wears softens as does his voice.

"Makoto-chan, you look amazing tonight. If someone thinks your height changes that fact, they're an idiot. I'd love to--If you don't mind that I may not be the best dancer myself. Aaand we may need to protect Darien-kun from an overprotective friend giving the 'dating my friend' talk," he wagers with a glance toward Hannah and Amy's approach.

Only for the most adorable distraction ever to appear! "Oh! And who is this fierce and mighty warrior?"

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
A kitty that Luna would not want to meet... definitely something not normal then. Himeko would definitely love it then. At least there was that! And she feels ever so slightly bad at volunteering Makoto to dance, really she does, except for the fact that this was a ball and it would be an outright shame for her friends to not get to have the full experience. What was the point of coming to a ball if you didn't even get to dance? And a masquerade at that! Sure, they might not be mysterious strangers, uniting under the moonlight for a single night, ever to know the true identity of the one who made their heart pound, but couldn't they enjoy the fantasy of it? They could!

They must!

And Adrien clearly agrees, given that he is so gentle and kind as he recognizes Makoto's hesitations.

And then - Mamoru's face pales, just that little bit, and she sees Hannah making her way towards them, and she wonders if maybe he's already recognized that Hannah is Tragar-chan, who had pushed him to fight her with all his strength with a motorcycle-gravity-sword that might have also been on fire. That might make things awkward. A bit.

And then. There is a child behind them. Usagi does not think there was always a child behind them. She's pretty sure she would have noticed. Probably? Mamochan was very handsome and distracting, but - no, no she is pretty sure she would have noticed. "Himeko-chan?"

Her outfit is not exactly ball appropriate, given the armor, but the cape and suit and the fact that she was adorably trying to match Hematite earns all the points in Usagi's heart! "Were you going to surprise us?"

Hannah Steiner has posed:
With the guidance of her girlfriend - err, Lady-in-Waiting, the 'Baroness' is making her way over towards the knot of people where she's sure that her ears detected one suspiciously sounding like an Usa-chan! Now there's no Lyra assistance, so the shovel is much in the pocket, and BG is happily on standby mode.

No she just wants to bother her would-be younger Sister and properly introduce Amy on the sly. But this is a fancy ball, and she's going to keep up the pretense until she's in whisperin' range. Which, between Adrien, Makoto, and /then/ Himeko joining the knot of party invitees-slash-crashers? So many voices. May be a feat even for one so expert in the arts of navigating a party.

She holds out a hand, a waiter gives her a flute, and she offers it over to Amy to better help them both fit in.

Seemingly stymied for the moment, she ends her walk over with a somewhat sharp /TAK/ of a heel and a austentatious pose. A smile is projected generally to the sound of Usagi's voice. It's a knowing one. Warm and friendly. But K N O W I N G. Two fingers go up and /wiggle/. Was that a...V? Or just a discrete wave???

This is hardly a precise art of course. Who knows what that pose might mean or who might catch the look in this ball of unsure motivations!

"Acht, is that Ambassador M- I hear, mein love?" She faux-asks out loud of Amy. She has no real target in mind, only to keep up their facade by finding someone random to chat with.

And frankly, she's having too much fun with this disguise to not try to rope in /someone/ into more chaos, even if it means Usagi-fish must swim away!

"I have the most /beautiful/ person in all of creation to introduce!" Okay yeah she's also having fun with Amy, a discrete rub with an elbow at a side and a half-blown kiss to her Engel for reassurance!

'Have fun' seems to echo in her sightless gaze to Amy.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
Nervous laughter! Mamoru's about to answer Makoto when Adrien summarizes it quite neatly, and he shifts his weight, about to add something additional-- and then he jumps as Himeko appears behind them, free hand briefly over his heart. "Whoof! You startled me," he says, but it's fond instead of chiding. He glances up and says to Adrien, "This is my sister Himeko Soryuu. Himeko, these are our friends Adrien Agreste and Makoto Kino. I only mentioned you because I was telling Usako I found you a new friend, and she's in my dorm room right now. I should have given her to you right away, but she's very soft and I wanted to cuddle her a little while first."

He pauses and actually takes in what Himeko is wearing, and he looks absolutely delighted. "I love your costume--!"

Delight turns briefly into wild-eyed worry as Hannah makes the V-sign in his direction. Wait. If she's Sailor V, then obviously Sailor Mars WOULD have told her what she saw up at the shrine, and she knows.

He is going to die.

He doesn't sound completely panicked when he suggests to Usagi, bending down a little, "Can we try waltzing now? We can waltz clear across the room, and this tune is in 6/8, we can go very fast-- except oh no, I don't want to-- Himeko-chan, can I dance with Usagi without worrying that you're okay? Or will you go meet the friend in my room?"

Complications of 'of course I won't abandon you' versus 'but I'd like to escape death and also dance with Usagi'.

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Amy looks over the couple they're approaching. She thought she heard Usagi's voice, and the woman's the right height, and blonde, and the guy's the right height and build and hair color to be Hematite, but... What are the odds? Why would Usagi be here? It's probably not Usagi. They are going to go make things awful for some random rich couple. Which is... actually fine, as long as no one finds out who they really are.

    She sips the flute handed to her. What are they even serving here?

    The TAK TAK TAK of Hannah's heels echo, and Amy wonders if maybe that is actually the point of wearing heels. Hmm.

    Is that Ambassador so-and-so? "Why, I think it might be, my Lady!" The most beautiful person in all of creation then blushes under her half-mask, and takes another sip.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Hannah-chan approaches, observed by Usagi who wonders, wonders, wonders, if this is going to go poorly, but then - huh. V? Victory? A wave? She waves back, and then Mamoru leans closer, to ask her to dance, and she turns away entirely, focused on him, and the edge of concern underscoring his voice, and a fast dance sounds like it could be a disaster but also a very fun one, that would get them away from Hannah-chan and Mamoru's nerves, and - "Of course! You did all that practice, we can't waste it."

As he works to seek permission and reassurance from Himeko, she turns to Makoto and Adrien and says - "You don't mind if we go off to dance, do you?" Her eyes are big and pleading and saying don't you see how perfectly, wonderfully, romantic this is? You want me to have this, don't you?

Rei Hino has posed:
    Masquerade ball? That means... Uhh... A mask, right? Rei can handle a mask. Sailor V can handle a mask, so of course Sailor Mars can too! ...Not that she's attending as Sailor Mars, but, you know. ...Doesn't Usagi have goggles or something?

    So, there she is, Rei Hino in a red dress (of course) and one of those masks-on-a-stick that you hold up over your eyes. She is utterly lost. This is her second dance ever, and she isn't exactly feeling compelled to seek out a dance partner. She's mainly just... Waiting to see if this Princess D is the one they are seeking or not.

Makoto Kino has posed:
Oh. Ohhhhh. Several reactions play out over Makoto's face in quick succession, visible even with the mask: a heightened blush as Adrien reassures her, followed in short order by dawning understanding of the situation Usagi and Darien are in, and then surprise and a friendly smile downward as Himeko appears and is introduced.

"It's nice to meet you, Himeko-chan," she says first, dipping a slight bow, before she straightens back up. "As it happens," she tells Usagi and Darien, "I make a pretty good wall if you need one. You two should go enjoy a dance! And," she adds in Adrien's direction, flustered again but trying valiantly to tamp it down, "I definitely won't judge anyone's dancing skills if it comes to that. I've taken some classes, but it's not like I've had much opportunity to put them to use for real."

Pyrite has posed:
    "Hm! It is me! The mysterious Himeko!" She tries to flourish her cape but hits someone in the leg accidentally. She turns, bows, and says, "Sumimasen. I did not realize your legs were so big." Then she turns back to Usagi and Darien. "Hm! A friend? I will show my Halloween costume to the new friend as well, when we are introduced. For now..." She looks around, rather lost in a forest of legs, and says, "...I shall obtain tiny corn." They have baby corn at Japanese balls, right? She is somewhat distracted but returns any greetings or introductions.
    The tiny corns! She must have them!

Adrien Agreste has posed:
Adrien Agreste returns an easy grin toward Darien, and Usagi as well when they seek to vanish together in a dance. A quick wink is offered to the pair with one gloved hand lifting to shoo them off playfully. "Go, go. We've got you covered. I'll keep an eye on Himeko-chan too," he assures with a chuckle. "It won't be my first time handling a little sister." Though not his own he did have one he sometimes got caught up with.

Though it seems Himeko is in search of baby corns! "I think I saw some by the waiter station," he suggests. Small appetizers of course since there was no real meal here, just snacks, but it was also Fall. Such things were in season. Using seasonal fruit and veg was such an IN thing right now.

Turning back toward Makoto he sweeps his hand in front of his chest to give a flourish of a bow. "Would you care to dance, Makoto-chan?"

Miya Sakamoto has posed:
A rectangle of flowers, primarily roses, frames the scene in gauzy soft-focus.

"Miss Sakamoto...", says a voice, without a discernable source but with a vague reverb to it, states, loud and clear.

Miya appears in the vaguely defined ballroom, letting the drapes and folds of her gorgeous glittering gown trace pleasant curves as she walks, her brown hair done up in an elegant, complex style with curls describing elaborate arabesques; shimmering eyes are concealed as she holds up a porcelain mask on a stick in front of them.

It doesn't get any more shoujo than that.

No, wait, it does! There's hexagonal lens flares!

"Miss Sakamoto...", repeats the voice.

A large majority of the attendants stop and murmur in surprise as she walks between two wings of people. She heads towards the princess, and-

"Miss Sakamoto!"

Miya, still in her overalls and gloves, snaps out of her as-shoujo-as-it-gets daydream. Nothing of that was real. "Oh. Sorry, I zoned out."

"We noticed. Anyway, as promised, here is the costume we have found for you! You may borrow it for tonight."

"A... trapper's outfit?" She says, scratching her head.

"Only thing we could dig up on such a short notice," says one man. "Only thing we can be certainly you'll be able to look passable in before the party is over," adds the second man. "I mean, you came here looking... scruffy. You might manage a quick shower, but you can't expect your hair to go from scruffy to ornate in a matter of seconds."

"...No, I really cannot, I suppose" says the secretly-a-Cure.

"Besides, you already have a beaver plushie with you. It'll fit great with all the rest."

And so, wothout making much noise, a scruffy looking Miya walks onto the main floor, Coonskin Cap, toy rifle and all, looking like she's about to go hunting in the great plains.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
They have wonderful friends, who will cover for them entirely--

--and so Mamoru and Usagi, neither of whom is good at dancing (Mamoru googled 'how to waltz' and practiced in front of a bakeneko and only crashed into something once), more or less scamper over to the dancefloor. He bends down and whispers, "Okay, your arm goes on my arm-- like those people over there-- and our other hands are holding each other, and you can look down and just follow my feet with yours. Or you can stand on my toes and we'll dance like that, and it'll be disastrously fun either way!"

And he shows her the steps slowly first, 1-2-3 1-2-3, and he adds, "And I have something for you hidden in my jacket, and I think you'll really like it, I-- really hope you'll really like it-- but we have to get to the other side of the room first."

Maybe bribery will help as a distraction! Perhaps. Either way, once they get started...

Once they get started, it's easier. And then it's so much easier, like one of the old dances they'd danced so many times before, practicing under the starlight to giggles, getting chiffon and silk entangled, and boots and slippers never trod on each other, because they'd both had lessons and knew how to recover even if they didn't know each other's dances, and then the big warm bright golden halls dripping with candlelight and crystals, both of them in disguise, the guardians they loved so much never far, no matter which kingdom's ground they trod on--

They've never danced before? It feels so familar, it feels hyper-real and like a dream and a memory all at once. But they've never danced before.

Mamoru's not paying attention to his steps anymore, and not a single step is lost; his eyes are only there on Usagi's whenever she looks up. She let her hair down, for him, just for him.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco has heard of the Masquerade Ball held for Princess Dia, so she has been itching to join in. Dances and being having the occasion to dress elegantly? She wouldn't miss it at all. A few strings pulled here and there thanks to the influence exerted by her kingdom, and the Princess is in, all ready to mingle with the other dancegoers.

For the occasion she is wearing a yellow costume made for her especially by her kingdom's tailors, based on a rather on the nose sea theme. its gown is made up of several layers of tulle and chiffon giving the whole structure the illusion that waves are moving alongside it. Myriads of silver sequins are dotting the soft fabric, gifting the waves with a mimicry of the foam upon the crest of the waves that crash downwards on Coco's gown. Her bodice is adorned with small shimmering pearls and beads that catch the light and reflect it dazzingly. On her face rests an orange mask adorned with seashells and diamonds, thus completing the whole theme.

She is entering from the main entrance, showing the personnel identification as Coco Kiumi from an absurd "South Pacific Kingdom", but she is let through nontheless, even if dubious and incredulous gazes follow her from behind. Good thing a warning was issued about that, even if it didn't stop the stares.

Once inside, she looks around, examining the people gathered there in search of someone she recognised, her eyes moving onto the pair of the equally dubious noblewomen she knows as Hannah and Amy, approaching them for a chat. "Hello, you two, it's awesome seeing you here. How have things been recently?"

Hinoiri Kirara has posed:
Hinoiri Kirara had finally hit her limit. Sycophants. Pathetic. All of them. Love. Romance. Adoration. Princesses. Nobles. It was all just an illusion. All just...

Hinoiri made her way to the bathroom. Locking the door behind herself... She took off her mask and stared at her reflection. Were those... tears? In the corner of her eyes. It was... she was... so... PATHETIC!

She'd let her fear possess her. Let it... overcome what needed to be done. Allowed herself to look for alternative routes.

She placed the mask back on herself before unlocking the door. Then, surging with dark energy, Sunbreaker appeared in her place.

Then she was gone. Some might have felt that sudden surge of dark energy before she left. Someone else might come into the bathroom and notice a slight singe on the tile, maybe a bit of ash in the air. But... nobody was there now. There was no trouble.

Certainly nothing to worry about.

Jadeite has posed:
    Sitting on a chair upon the balcony overlooking the dance floor, Jadeite just sits quietly, supporting his head with one hand, and watching Darien and his dance partner over the railing. He isn't glowering for once, but he's also not looking particularly emotionally invested in anything going on. Maybe he's just chilling for a change. He's not wearing his usual Dark Kingdom general's uniform though. He looks... Different. He's wearing a primarily light-gray uniform with teal accents, amd jade crystals as epaulettes on a white mantle. His eyes that can seem green or blue depending on the lighting are trending towards blue.

    Honestly, he looks... Straight out of a distant past. Is it deliberate? Did he remember something? Or is it all subconscious?

    Either way, right now he appears to be the Jadeite from many thousands of years prior; Jadeite, the Knight of Patience and Harmony. Minus the sword.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Hannah, between the Ambassador M- and his Husband, has been thoroughly enjoying bullying a rich pair of diplomats by way of platitudes, acting like they both should know her and 'Lady-in-Waiting Angela', as well as a good round of grilling them both about wedding invitations. The Ambassador looks like he wants to die of embarrassment. Hubby looks like he's considering calling the 'Baroness' out into the modern equivalent of a pistol duel.

Luckily before there's any international incidents, Hannah is shoving champagne flutes at both of them, and turning to the sound of another familiar voice.

"Princess!" No she's not giving up their scheme. "Do you remember Angela von Cardia? She is soon to be my wife, heir to the fortune of House Sagebrecht! Love! Meet one of our finest allies!" She dips into a low, royal bow with a sweep of an arm, smirking at Coco!

"Oh, between this party and our time together? Marvelous! Every time I awake with mein Engel, or touch her hand, I am reminded of life's easily forgotten blessings." It's easy to pile on when it's all true!

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
They have wonderful, kind friends, who love them and are happy to be a distraction for them, who will let them have this -

So they skirt away onto the dance floor, hand in hand, arm in arm, and she leans close to hear his whisper and puts her where he says, and her hand in his, and she will definitely not stand on his feet, she will make it work, she is not in even kitten heels, she has balance on her side, she does, she does. Usagi agrees with him, all the way. "Even if it was a disaster, we'd have fun. Am I doing this right?"

And she follows his steps, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, step by step, her eyes watching his feet, watching her feet, trying not to step on him, trying to move quickly, trying to - "A present besides the tickets? Mamochan, you - I didn't get you anything -"

It's not too much, because she loves presents, but also, she does genuinely feel bad, that Mamoru has gotten her so much (even if the tickets were their effort to embezzle from his job, as they certainly deserved!).

"Let's make it across then!" Her enthusiasm is high, her skill less so, though she follows his pattern, his steps, and once they have made it from the edge of the dance floor, onto the marble, with the other couples -

It's easier. It's unaccountably easier, her steps gliding, her hand in his, his arm at her back, hers resting gently near his shoulder, and of course it's easy. It's certainly, accountably easy, because they have danced and danced and danced, under the starlight, grass underfoot, stone underfoot, once, bravely, water rushing over their bared feet as they moved together at a stream's edge. The beauty of the world and the warmth of their embrace. Chiffon and silk, armor and lace, the two of them moving in step, practicing, learning, fumbling together until there was nothing but ease and grace, perfect together in halls of gold lit by the warmth of candles -

It's her first dance. It's her thousandth. He taught her just moments ago. Tutors have drilled her to perfection.

She doesn't step on his feet. He doesn't step on hers. They glide together, reality blurring with dream-like memory, her eyes on his, blue of the deep ocean meeting blue of the warm sky.

The world may as well have disappeared.

Nephrite has posed:
    It would be fitting for Nephrite's attire to also be that of many thousands of years ago. Sadly, he is not so in synch with his fellow Shitennou that their subconscious memories overlap in that manner. Instead, he is wearing a deep purple coat over a black suit, with white undershirt. He has a white domino mask, though unlike Himeko's it isn't held on with an elastic string. He also has a black tophat with a white band, but has taken it off, because wearing a hat indoors is rude. He is sitting at the same table as Jadeite, across from him, just watching his charge dance awkwardly below.

    "They look good together," he says casually, perhaps trying to initiate some sort of conversation. Just something to pass the time. He looks at his phone, and the message on it, and his smile drops away to just a neutral line.

Makoto Kino has posed:
Usagi and Darien are off to dance. Himeko is off on a hunt for tiny corn, it seems. And Makoto, smiling brightly, still a little pink in the face, executes a graceful curtsy with a swish of her satin skirt. "I'd be happy to, Adrien-kun."

It's a bit awkward; she's self-conscious, despite his earlier efforts to reassure her. Still, she wasn't fibbing about having taken classes, and what's lacking in experience is made up for with natural grace. Makoto has always been good at this kind of thing, whether it's dancing, ice skating, or fighting. It's other areas where she falls short.

"Thanks for this," she tells Adrien as they follow the music through the steps. "I wasn't sure if I should come here, but Usagi can be hard to say no to." She's laughing as she says it, affectionate rather than criticizing.

Adrien Agreste has posed:
Adrien Agreste takes Makoto's hand in his own with only a glance cast over toward Usagi and Darien as they dance across the room. Then his attention shifts back making where Himeko is in mind (in case they need to find her pretty quick) and then? Then he smiles back toward Makoto as he escorts her toward the dance floor.

In spite of his remarks of never dancing before he, too, had lessons. Enough so that he can swap easily from leading to being led if that makes it easier for his taller partner.

The thanks earns a smile toward her along with a shake of his head. "Not at all. My father is rather well connected so I have to go to these events often, but I'm usually alone at them. It's really nice having some friends around that I know for once." He moves back into a little spin taking care not to try something like dip her in case that's more awkward. "Before you came over, I was just telling Usagi-chan and Darien-kun that I've never gotten to actually dance before at one of these, so thank you for joining me. It's making my night so much better."

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Amy has snuck with her princess girlfriend into a rich nobles' function. Why did they do this? Is this normal teenage hijinx? It's crazy that she would think for a moment Usagi might be here.

    Okay, with Hannah taking the lead in messing with these nobles, Amy's been able to dip her toe in the water. "Oh Ambassador, you haven't *forgotten*--"

> Hello, you two, it's awesome seeing you here.
    Cardia Angela de Gizele or whatever it was turns and blinks at... okay yeah, that *sounded* like Coco and she's dressed with a sea theme. OH RIGHT, Amy knows MULTIPLE princesses.

    It does stand to reason that life as a teenage girl is going to involve more princesses than it did the first time around, right? ...

    Coco? Uhh... Busyish, I guess. Some folks have problems that can't be solved by beating up a youma, you know?

    But she can't say THAT in front of the hoity-toity couple. "Oh! Princess, it's always wonderful to see you!" She takes her hand off Hannah to lift one side of her veil/dress slightly as she curtseys. At least pretending to be some noblewoman for the past several minutes prevented her from accidentally bowing and trying to correct partway.

    She smiles up at Lady Lyria, letting a mask speak over the bundle of wordless feelings bouncing around inside her head. "Ahaha, you're too kind, my lady. You shine like the sun." 'Cardia' smiles and looks back to Coco. "In truth, there have been... Oh you know how it is. A couple of... 'situations' that will take more work than usual to solve," she leans forward slightly and adds conspiratorily, "But you know, we can't talk about that here. People are *relentless* gossips, don't you know."

    She straightens up again. "And how have things been with you, your highness?"

Makoto Kino has posed:
Makoto seems quite happy to follow Adrien's lead. Catching his intent, she steps into the spin, then back - mindful not to be too enthusiastic, keeping her steps precise in time. "Oh?" she says in response to his explanation, eyes widening a little behind her mask. "That sounds..." 'Tough,' was what she meant to say, sympathetic without being too specific, but she's thinking about the dance, the steps, and what comes out is a little more honest than she meant to be. "...Lonely."

She bites her lip, then, and focuses her attention fully on the dance for a few beats before she adds, "I'm glad I could help make this time different."

Coco Kiumi has posed:
"Of course I remember Miss Cardia!", Coco replies quick to catch on the ruse. "I am glad you are faring well, and that you are finally set to marry! If you ask me, that was long overdue", she starts chatting enthusiastically. Nothing like love talk to get her going.

"Why, I would even say you kept everyone waiting with bated breaths! Wait until I tell my sisters the news, they will be overjoyed to know you will be finally taking this step! Hanon especially was panicking on whether she would have enough time to pick a dress for your wedding ceremony." Eh, Hanon doesn't know them, and Coco is spouting lies like they are going out of style? Details, details.

Coco does a curtsy towards Ambassador M- and his Husband. "A pleasure to meet you distinct gentlement, I am Coco Kiumi, Princess of the South Pacific Kingdom, as well as its ruling head. I hope you have been having a pleasant with Baroness Lyria and Miss Cardia. They are wonderful people, and I would be loathe to know anything was amiss", she comments with a wide smile and way more strongly than necessary towards the duo.

Coco nods at Cardia's situation. "Yes, I remember that deal. Truly pernicious and fastidious. As always, I will make sure to pop in every now and then, especially if your invaluable red jewel is endangered again."

She grabs a tart from a passing by caterer. "But, you are right, we are here to enjoy ourselves, not to bring the dreary grey of our lives. What's the point of a masquerade, otherwise, right? On that part, you have chosen magnificently, Baroness Lyria and Miss Cardia."

Adrien Agreste has posed:
Boring? Tedious? Dull? Adrien expects all of those words to describe the situations he was in most often, and he's ready to receive them with good humor. That she hits the truth so distinctly makes him almost stumble in the dance. Almost. The grip on her hand does tighten just breifly before relaxing again.

"... A bit," he admits with his eyes dropping only to lift again quickly. It's a bit forced, but he does smile. "Tonight's a good night though." He listens to the song begin to change and suggests, "Do you want to go another round? Or should we grab a drink, and maybe keep an eye out for trouble? Lady's choice," he offers.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
As attendees enjoy the ball, satiated by the seemingly endless flutes of champagne, delicate bites of fine dining items, the lovely classical music played by the band - strings, woodwinds, brass, and precussion all in lovely arrange - to encourage the dancing of couples and strangers alike, whispers sound, in various corners of the room. There are staffers, hurriedly ensuring none notice minor flaws. There is espionage at work, papers stolen, seized, missing, recovered. There are dances and conversations, friendships affirmed and hearts broken by loneliness. There are games of politics and fun, played between those both fully aware and those unwitting.

One whisper, from various lips, in conversations both meek and bold, is simple - "But where is Princess Dia? Have you seen her?"

And none have. The princess for whom this ball has been thrown has yet to appear.

But that is to be corrected now: for the music comes to a graceful halt, songs played out so that dances may come to elegant ends, and a herald calls, first in the language D----- Kingdom and then in curt Japanese, "Announcing the arrival of her royal highness, Princess Dia!"

The princess enters the ballroom from a staircase above, descending to join the audiencen - it's a brilliant choice, adding majesty to a girl who might seem otherwise rather plain. The princess is a slender, short young woman, her round face largely hidden by thick-lens'd oversized glasses, tinted in a manner that hints at a light sensitivity; the color of her eyes cannot be scene. Her hair, a pale brown, is cut into a chin-length bob, her bangs falling low enough to cast shadow over her glasses. Her head bears a jeweled tiara. Her hands are covered by elbow length white gloves, suited to the white flowers at the neckline of her red dress. She alone does not wear a mask - perhaps, due to her glasses.

She smiles, and waves, and addresses the gathered attendees briefly, in lightly accented Japanese. "My thanks to all of you for attending this day, and making it special. My family has always loved our time in this wonderful country, and this night is no exception. In a short time, my father will join us, to present for the first time, a new national treasure - I must admit, I am eager to see it too!"

She's nervous, this young princess, but trying to stand with poise too.
Hersfter this brief address, the princess can be seen mingling, mixing, and otherwise engaging with the crowd of political and royal attendees - unfortunately, unable to engage directly with the average attendee. Gradually, the music resumes, and conversation as well.

Kyouka Inai has posed:
    Kyouka Inai has been here for a while already, but perhaps somewhat unusually, she is being unobtrusive. Why is she even here? It's unclear- possibly she heard a bunch of students and other people of interest to her were going to crash and/or be invited. Maybe she actually got invited herself- she does have connections, after all. Maybe she's actually working security, because she sure looks the part.

    She's leaning against a wall near a doorway up on the balcony, actually not terribly far from the table where Jadeite and Nephrite are seated, although not near enough to eavesdrop or even be of particular note. She's wearing a well-tailored black suit over a red dress shirt and black tie. And she's still, even inside this fancy event, wearing her narrow rectangular-lensed sunglasses.

    She doesn't have an earpiece or any other indication that she might be actually working security, but there's working and then there's 'working'. When something like this happens, it pays to keep an eye on it. That's what she's been doing- just leaning there against the wall, arms crossed. Keeping an eye on things. The watches the Princess come and go, but if it provokes any particular reaction she doesn't display it openly.

    Instead, a few moments later, she pushes off the wall and begins making her way downstairs at a sedate pace. Maybe after the princess showing, she's decided it's time for a snack.

Makoto Kino has posed:
Makoto isn't blind to the momentary tightening of Adrien's grip on her hand or the change in the quality of his smile. She could kick herself, a little, for being so careless with her words - but the song is ending, and the dance with it, and she acknowledges both with a careful bow. "As much as I feel like I could dance all night," she admits with an awkward half-laugh, "we're supposed to be running interference for Usagi-chan and Darien-kun, right? In case of overprotective friends?"

It doesn't necessarily appear that the couple needs it at the moment, but she'd be a poor friend to promise and then not deliver if something does happen. Besides--

Princess Dia's appearance draws Makoto's attention away completely for a few moments. She watches the girl's address of the ballroom with curiosity, some wonder, and maybe a trace of sympathy. Maybe even a princess can feel out of place?

It's not like she'll find out. An everyday schoolgirl like Makoto won't have an opportunity to speak to the princess tonight. "So," she says with genuine brightness, turning back to Adrien, "let's find some drinks and a good spot to watch from for a bit?"

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Hannah openly regards her girlf...Wife-to-Be with utter pride. She's picking it up /so well/! She revels in it, and especially with Coco picking up the knife? She leans back on her heels a bit and just takes it all in while sharing a discrete grin with now her two co-conspirators.

It is /just/ like home. No actual Duels yet, but she can definitely pick up snippits of trade deals, 'polite' threats, and some lower ones not-so-polite. This is where secret deals are whispered. Where the machinations of nations turn. And this is for a /small/ princess' gathering.

There's a sigh of utter relief. Some of all the tension she's been holding in finally lets out of her. By the Sankt it's so /nice/!

Coco though does neatly bring them back to enjoyment.

"A soul I found by voice, whom stole mein heart the instance I heard it. The world's most saintly siren." She quips, sneaking a fond rub of an elbow of Amy's.

But the Princess finally arrives. Hannah's entire attention shifts, she takes up a polite clap and smile as she listens to the address. Her ears take in every little sound of the young Princess Dia's address, and while outwardly she's the picture of one Royal regarding another?

She listens and judges. Only the slightest pull of her brows shows momentarily as she works it all through.

Her voice can be barely heard by her two faux-Royal compatriots.

"Mein Mother would have frozen a Princess that timid to the spot with a single look." Comes Hannah, at first sounding displeased.

But she turns it over in her head.

"But she has potential, I have heard worse addresses from those thrice her age. Always be commanding, even to your 'freunds' in government." Explains the Countess, that martial judgement coming up. She gives the smallest of nods, as if finding it in herself to like Princess Dia.

Didn't she after all cry after her first speech in front of other Dignitaries and Nobles? A smirk worms its' way into her mouth as he addresses Coco and Amy.

"Acht. One champagne each then we Waltz!" Encourages Hannah, eager to break at least one law tonight. She'll then pull a friend and her girlfriend to the dance floor, ready to show off how the ruler of Tharkad and heir to her House can move!

Adrien Agreste has posed:
As he had no actual date to entertain tonight, once the dance with Makoto ends and she returns to the gathering with her friends, he's free to explore. Which he opts to do if only because he's used to having to make the rounds. Surely, after the princess' appearance, people would be far more talkative. It gives him a chance to head over toward Hannah, Amy, and Coco. The latter two had been the ones he was supposed to run interference against, while Coco? There he recoginzed someone.

The devil-masked model in a red and silver statement tux makes his way over toward the trio to greet, "Good evening! I thought I recognized a few and thought I would come and say hello." He regards the mermaid princess with a grin, "Coco, I presume?"

Amanda Faust has posed:
    /Finally set to marry./ Amy may be playing a part but imagining that between herself and Hannah is unavoidable.

    *Hanon* needs to pick a dress? Damn, *Amy* needs to pick a dress!

    How do you even do that?! She's never thought about it! She has spent exactly 0 seconds as a little girl imagining what her wedding day will be like!

    Oh wait people are talking, back to the present. Amy pays attention just in time to catch the veiled reference to assisting with her soul gem, and is touched. "Thank you, dear princess. Your kindness is beyond words."

    She has chosen magnificently? "O-oh, you really think so? I thought maybe mine was too... how do they say... basic?" Hannah then gets her blushing again with her free hand covering her face at the comparison to a siren. Being complimented is nice, will she ever get used to it??

    And then, the woman of the hour arrives. Amy turns to watch the *third* actual factual princess she's seen tonight enter the room. If other clap, or bow and curtsey, she does too, before conversation resumes

    Princess Dia is judged harshly, and Amy slips through Cardia's mask just a bit. Just above a whisper, she opines, "Oh my god. What would I have done if I met your mom..." Always be commanding? Amy looks away, down at the floor, sadly. She's not like that. And she's not sure she wants to be.

    Amy lifts her head when Hannah demands drinks. She whispers back, "I've already had a couple of sips. No more, this is *alchoholic*, it tastes awful. I could never stand more than a third of a glass, even on New Years'." On the bright side, that means Hannah doesn't have to worry about Amy accidentally getting drunk.

    Once some servant is no doubt asked to swap for her a flute of *non*-alchoholic champagne, she'll quietly nurse the drink while Hannah Hannahs, before setting it down to walk with Hannah on to oh god the dance floor everyone is watching and not students this time like actual nobles who've taken dance lessons and things and she *wishes* those couple of sips would provide some sort of liquid courage. She'll just focus on Hannah and trust her girlfriend to know what she's doing. Oh, and... "Um, do you think I should remove the veil? Is it gonna get in the way of dancing?"

Coco Kiumi has posed:
"Thanks a lot for your gracious offer, Baroness, but my allergy unfortunately forbids me from partaking of any carbonated drink", Coco replies, doing a curtsy again for extra effect. 'It's not an allergy, but still it's true that it would do me no good', she thinks when looking at her friend.

Then Princess Dia arrives, and despite her frail demeanour, her speech resounds strong and resolute, leaving Coco with a smile radiant with happiness. She knows well the apprehension being there would cause, so she is glad Princess Dia already has the strength to prevail over her timidness.

When Adrien comes over, Coco smiles at the young man and does at curtsy towards him too. "Most certainly. Coco Kiumi, Princess of the South Pacific Kingdom", she replies with her full title as well as improvised surname, given the presence of the ambassador. It's not like Adrien has heard of something like it that would make it clear what she is saying under another guise of his, right?"

"How are you all doing with the cultural events next month? I would say the preparation is coming along well in my case, and I have already had a successful trial run", the mermaid princess says to her friends.

Then comes Hannah's invitation to dance, which leaves Coco looking pensively at Adrien. "Since the Baroness is already paired with her Lady-in-waiting, want to do the honour, Adrien", Coco asks, giving him her hand.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
A mere shrug wafts from Hannah's shoulders, and she downs her flute with /just/ enough slowness to not come off as unrefined. She's savoring it only enough to appreciate it, then passes it off to a passing waiter.

"She would have threatened your life in approximately fifteen different ways if you ever were to make me cry. Und then welcome you with all the love in her heart." Comes Hannah proudly, even if she has to wipe some mist from her eyes on Amy's cheek.

With one or two laws promptly broken, the party spirit in her chest, she grins and nods at Coco!

"While no doubt beautiful mein engel, indeed, dispense with it! We have a dance floor to dominate better than any battlefield!" The young Royal is all but glowing. With Lyra not here, she sticks her cane on her waist with just the /slightest/ protrusion, trusting to Amy's arms and a the stole - now a makeshift belt - to let her politely nudge anyone who might accidentally enter their waltzing space. A little trick she's done plenty of times back on Tharkad when her dear Razorhound can't attend her.

A pang of homesickness wars with being in her element, and with Amy in her arms? That pang fades oh-so-easily.

Then she leads Amy in a Waltz, picking up the tune easily with someone to which this is all /homey/. Her entire attention is on tune, Amy, and the motions. Everyone else is a mere white noise on the edges of her consciousness, or the subtle brush of cloth against cane telling her to make a subtle nudge or other adjustment. Her features soften. Her smile is genuine, loving, and most of all?

Relaxed. Those mountains of stress she's been carrying? It's all gone as she just enjoys music and love, whispering her care to Amy, her voice for a girl that fills her heart with joy.

Nothings and everything passes from her lips as they dance that swift step, guiding each other.

It's the happiest night she's had in so many turns of the Moon since her arrival.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
Maybe half an hour ago, a girl looking like a fairy princess in the palest pink gown and mask waltzed forever with a very tall boy in a classic white tie ensemble, and then at some point they left the dance floor and disappeared for a bit. Nobody particularly saw them leave, and now the tall boy's there alone with a pleased-as-punch look on his face. He politely waves off or shakes his head at offers of food and drink, and is on his way toward the balcony steps--

--when he almost crashes directly into a short redhead in a black and red suit as she comes down from there. In order to keep either of them from falling, his white-gloved hands grip her shoulders steadyingly, and he ducks his head to apologize. Except. It's Kyouka Inai.

"Not my fault," he says instead of an apology, because he's Darien Shields. But then he mock-grudgingly allowed, "I'll share the blame though. Conditionally sorry. Nice incognito."

Adrien Agreste has posed:
Adrien Agreste glances toward Hannah and Amy as the two ease off into the dance floor leaving him there with Coco. Whom he does recognize now that the name is given, but it was while HE was wearing another face entirely. All the more reason to respond properly now with a grin cast toward the princess.

"Ah, delighted to meet you then, your majesty! I'm Adrien Agreste." A momentary pause comes as he considers, then opts to add, "There may be some royal ties in my ancestry but nothing so important now." It's said with a chuckle as he tries to relax a bit again without falling to the temptation of snagging some of that champagne. He at least was likely more familiar with drinking such things. French.

"Of course, I'm free to dance. Though I think only one before I may need a break." That said he offers his hand out toward Coco in invitation. "Shall we?"

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
White tie and tails are converging on Kyouka, apparently. Not, however, to remove her from the event. Another tall, masked boy in a version of white tie both marginally less formal than Darien's and somewhat less perfectly fitting approaches the pair at the base of the steps. It's not perfect camouflage, but it's decent. If, of course, he didn't have stark white hair and an earring nearly as sparkly as some of the decor.

"Getting into trouble again already?" Kazuo inquires easily, of one or the other of the pair. Or both. Okay, probably both.

Kyouka Inai has posed:
    Kyouka's unobtrusive mission to gather snacks is almost instantly derailed at the bottom of the stairs when she almost runs into Darien Shields. The kid is a lot taller than her, which is aggravating because he's technically her student. The hands on the shoulders, while they do actually keep her from falling and therefore were probably warranted, don't help.

    She scowls up at him from behind her sunglasses. "Watch where you're going." She says, dolefully, reaching up to lightly swat his hands off of her shoulders as if offended... though she look she gives him a moment later is more of a bratty eyeroll than actual offense. "It's not incognito, it's a suit. I'm not allowed to look nice for a fancy event?"

    Just then Kazuo walks up. "Just trying to get some food." She says to the newer addition, using her hands to straighten imaginary wrinkles from her clothes. "Shields here is just taking up altogether too much space."

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
Darien grins at Kyouka swatting away his hands, and he dusts them off ostentatiously before letting them drop. "Next time you need a tuxedo, let me know and I'll find one for you," he says, just offhandedly enough that it's hard to tell if it's a genuine offer of help, a diss, or a combination of the two.

And then Kazuo walks up and Mamoru's eyes light up, and all cheerful all of a sudden, he sidesteps over to sling his arm around Kazuo's arm, bumping casually into him in the process. "I like taking up space. Gives my ego room to breathe. Go eat, Inai-san, have fun."

He looks up (up!) at Kazuo and asks, "How long have you been here?"

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Were they alone, Coco would have told Adrien to forget the honorifics, but alone they were not, so she took his hand with a smile, and started walking towards the dance floor. Good thing she dances all the time as part of her choreography, else she wouldn't want to imagine how awkward this would have turned out to be if all she had to her name were her underwater lessons.

She starts matching her movements to Adrien's in this game of balance and dexterity, smiling as they circle around. "How is this going? Am I doing well?" she probes the ground around her. She is confident in her own dancing abilities, but doing it with someone else is a whole different skill, and that was by far rarer. Does she have to adjust something? Her coreography isn't exactly the same thing as a traditional dance, anyway.

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
"Your ego is like a sleeping cat," Kazuo tells Darien, head tilting just a little toward him at the arm-claiming. "It expands to fill all available space. Don't worry, Inai-san, I'll keep him out of your way." ... yes. That is a reason not to worry, surely.

At least he doesn't ruffle Darien's hair here. "A little while. Long enough to see you and a blonde who outdoes Rapunzel."

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Amy shivers at the mental image of unknown mom threatening her life, and just stares up at Hanna, spellbound at the touch on her cheek. She smiles and nods at the assertion they will dominate the *dance battlefield*, which is to say Hannah will and she'll try her best to follow and trust in Hannah! She removes the circlet, handing it to Hannah while she removes a second circlet-like band underneath to which the veil is attached, folding it up and setting it on a table. Then she carefully sets the circlet back in place, good to go!

    The waltz begins. All her focus is on Hannah and following her at first, a look of intense concentration on her face, but as she settles into the movement of the waltz she can begin to relax and enjoy the contact, the motion, Hannah's arm around her.

    It's not as exciting and overwhelming as that first dance was, but, it is a long moment of pleasant tranquility, in her own little world together with Hannah.

    When the dance is over, though, they've rather lost interest in the party. She gives Coco a goodbye hug between the dances, curtseying briefly to Adrien, and walks out arm-in-arm with Hannah, grinning. "So... what do you want to do next, love?"

Adrien Agreste has posed:
Adrien Agreste takes things slow at first until they're both famliar with each other's steps. It was easy enough to do at least, and Coco seemed to be skilled enough at dancing that it's easy for them to get into the perfect timing with the song. The question of her skill just earns a quiet chuckle. "You're doing fantastic! It's not your first time dancing, I see. I realy only had classes when I was younger."

"So, are you here for political reasons, to have fun, or both?" A valid question if she herself were a princess too. The path of their dance turns as most waltzes do allowing his gaze to sweep over the room. And quickly jerk his head back to the side to blink in surprise seeing Darien leaning against Kazuo in such a flirtatious manner. "Isn't that--" No, no, he shouldn't speak aloud such things. Though it does leave him looking marginally perplexed before he recovers himself.

"Ah, I'm sorry Coco, I was distracted. I thought I saw someone I recognized."

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Hannah, similarly, offers her dear friend Coco an exhuberant hug after Amy, then a proper Bow to Adrien and Coco. Then, they're off!

She leans in, and whispers to Amy as they exunt.

"The night is young und you, mein engel, deserve to spend it in the arms of a proper Royal." A grin, a laugh, and she walks out right out with her beloved!

Kyouka Inai has posed:
    "It's not a tuxedo, it's a suit, and you'll forgive me if I don't leap at the chance to have you pick out my clothes for me." Kyouka says primly to Darien. "I don't need you trying to convince me to wear a cape." She smirks, a playful jab rather than an actual insult.

    She eyes Kazuo as Darien latches onto him. She heaves a faint sigh. "I better not hear about you two causing any trouble." She says, raising both brows, and for some reason putting the emphasis on 'hear about' rather than 'trouble'. "Now if you'll excuse me.."

    She sidesteps to walk by them, and only punches Darien in the arm while he's looking at Kazuo as she slides past, heading for the tables where the snacks are laid out and vanishing into the crowd.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco interrupts the dance for a second to give Hannah and Amy their goodbye hug before coming back to Adrien.

"Your classes must have stayed with you well", she comments, perceiving no uncertainty coming from him after the initial period of adjustment to each others' rhythm. "Your memory must be great, especially for something that you did when you were little. Who was your teacher?" she inquires, her curiosity piqued.

Then there is the matter of her reason to join. "Well..." she smiles nervously. "I have used my political channels to acquire a spot, but I am actually here to have fun. I wasn't even sure they were even equipped for this, since my kingdom is a bit far from here, and their priority isn't letting us dally in foreign countries."

She doesn't mind Adrien having been distracted for a second, and keeps on dancing as if nothing happened. "What about you? Do you have anything to share about you being here?"

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
"Who, us?" Darien asks Kyouka with the most dazzlingly wounded innocence, then looks back at Kazuo, about to say something-- only to get punched in the arm.

It takes all his willpower not to go 'owwwwww' out loud, but he does rotate his arm in his shoulder like he's trying to reset it. And if his other arm weren't busy he'd probably be rubbing it. "Guess I deserved that," he grumbles, then huffs for a second before remembering where he is and who he's with and why that's remarkable.

Then, he's all smiles again, and he hugs Kazuo's arm and tugs him closer to the dance floor but not onto it; he relinquishes the arm and turns to face Kazuo as he says, smile gone crooked, "Do you want to dance with me? Rapunzel is with Osaka-san, I think. Possibly Kino-san, or one of a myriad of other friends--"

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
"I was about to ask," Kazuo admits to Darien. "If you'll put up with risking my stepping on your feet. It might ruin the polish." A moment's pause. "And if Rapunzel would be all right with it. After all, if she weren't, everyone would certainly hear about it..." Whether or not it qualified as trouble. He's almost certainly not actually worried, given the only mostly-suppressed smile hovering about the corners of his mouth, and glinting from gray eyes.

Adrien Agreste has posed:
Adrien Agreste politely waits while Coco goes to say her goodbyes to Hannah and Amy. It does allow him a moment to step to the side of the other dancers, and reach for one of those champagne flutes being passed around. It's drawn in for a judicious sip as he regards the entire area again a bit thoughtfully. At least he had a moment or two to contemplate the evening, as well as those who weren't here. It's a wistful sort of expression he wears as another sip is taken.

Then Coco returns to draw him out of his thoughts before he ends up polishing off the entire drink. "Ah, no real reason for me to be here other than coming to represent my father's interests. He's too busy to attend, sadly, so I'm here. My dance instructor? That was..." He rattles off the name of some famous retired dancer. "A wonderful teacher. I have some lessons at least once a year to refresh myself. My father's very insistent that I never lose a skill I've learned."

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
For. Some. Reason!! Mamoru blushes scarlet when Kazuo says he was about to ask; he ducks his head and laughs, and the laugh is embarrassed somehow-- "I forgot," he whispers, "that I told you I wanted to be asked. I just-- wasn't sure you really..."

Mamoru shakes his head even as he wishes his own hair were down, so he could hide in it just a little bit, but it's not and he doesn't. Instead, his smile's wry as anything. "She knows. She wanted to hand me off, but got pulled aside herself, first. She'll undoubtedly hear about it anyway."

Then he takes Kazuo's hand. He doesn't have to wish, does he? He gets to be greedy tonight, in a mask, amidst strangers and friends alike. "I don't care if you step on my feet," he says so affectionately. "Let's dance while we still have the chance."

Coco Kiumi has posed:
"Eh, your father sounds so harsh with you", escapes from Coco's mouth before she realises what she said. "I am sorry, I didn't mean to intrude, that was wrong of me", she starts saying flustered.

"I don't even have any experience to be judging a father, please forgive me, Adrien. I am sure he is everything, and doing what's needed." Coherency left the chat with Coco progressively more embarassed. This even has repercussions on what she is doing since she is paying less attention, and her hold on Adrien's hand becomes tighter.

Which is why it's good that she somewhat switches subject to the other thing mentioned by Adrien. "And it's great he got you such a great dance induct-, I mean instructor", she almost flubs the word. "What were your favourite parts of his lessons?"

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
"Remember you said that when your toes are regretting it later," Kazuo teases him, mostly straightfaced. Teasing about that part is safe. Absolutely none of the rest. There is no blushing here, especially not on Mamoru's part. He declares his own personal reality so edited. If he doesn't react, after all, Mamoru's a little safe. Ish.

(He shall not contemplate future comments from anyone who might or might not be watching.)

And he takes his turn at drawing Mamoru toward the dance floor; half and half is fair. When it comes to dancing, Kazuo is very much the recent-lessons-graduate - careful and precise about where his hand and arm settle, twice as careful about steps, absolutely by-the-book. At first. He can't learn Mamoru's habits till he sees them. But once he does, he relaxes a little, and tries to match and complement them, leaving space where it's wanted, supporting where risks are taken.

Adrien Agreste has posed:
This was a topic that came up often lately, usually in regards to conversations with Hinoiri. Adrien well knew her thoughts on the matter so he tenses a bit with his green eyes going a bit hard. Not too much, just enough to brace himself in case of the worst.

When she prattles on apologizing he has to let out a small sigh. His head ducks in a faint nod as a smile is flashed. "He's trying. He is a bit over-protective, but... He's my father. He's worried about me ever since my mother went missing. But he's trying," he repeats partially trying to convince himself of this as well. "It's all right."

"Oh, it tied in a bit with my piano lessons on how to listen to the counts of the music in how to move. I think that's why it's easy to remember."

"I heard you can't have champagne. Would you like another drink?"

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
He's shorter than his dance partner, and for Mamoru, that's fun too-- suddenly he really does understand why Makoto... well, the two of them should each dance with her, the next time, too. Because there will be a next dance, and a next after that; none of the apocalypses will happen. They won't let them.

Mamoru's arm is overtop Kazuo's, and it's complicated because this is a dance he didn't look up before coming, and he has to learn as he goes, watching other people dance and minding his own feet, and then paying closer attention to Kazuo's when it's clear Kazuo knows these steps. He laughs, freely and often, when there are inevitably mistakes and missteps.

This is new and breathless and a relief and another part of home, all at once, and breaking all the rules at the same time. "I don't want to be careful," he says in the middle of a spin, and laughs again when Kazuo has to keep him from bumping into someone. "I'm sorry, I should be careful~"

Coco Kiumi has posed:
"I am sorry you and your father had to experience that loss", Coco comments, now mad with herself. This couldn't have gone worse. She badmouthed Adrien's father AND brought past griefs back up.

"I am glad he can still be there for you even if the situation is difficult, and it's great that you are doing your best to go forward even if things are like this. That's really admirable on your part", she tries to throw some encouragement on top to make-up for her faux-pas.

"Just don't let it accumulate till it's too much, ok?" she adds, even though she would have known this was unnecessary in other circumstances since Adrien as Cat Noir had already explained that concept.

"And please, yes, I would like something I could drink, my throat is a bit parched", she replies, her dance movements now calm again.

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
"Right now, it's not your job to be careful," Kazuo assures Mamoru; he's watching around them, too, because people are moving everywhere, but he's good at watching seventeen things at once. Even, or perhaps especially, when those things are also people. "After all. I don't have hair long enough for someone else to step on. So it's my job to watch out for you, not yours to watch out for me."

Mistakes and missteps happen. Recovering from them gracefully and carrying on ... well, that was part of the classes. So was covering for your partner when they're trying to pick up where they were instead of where the dance is now. Mamoru is doing considerably better than some of Kazuo's classmates; Kazuo hasn't had to subtly take Mamoru's weight off his own feet once to avoid Mamoru tripping and falling over.

All the same, he's glad it's Mamoru he's learning this with - because he is learning, still. And Mamoru's movements he can read well enough to tell where he's going next; it gives him a split-second more notice when that where is somewhere unexpected. Useful. Especially when he needs to keep that where from being occupied by two bodies at once. Or three. Or four.

Adrien Agreste has posed:
"It's..." Adrien almost starts to assure Coco that 'it's all right' again though really it wasn't. He can't finish the remark. It wasn't okay that his mother went missing, that his father withdrew so completely, that he'd been isolated and alone for so long until recently as Makoto had reminded him earlier, too.

"Thanks. For your concern," he utters as the dance slows to a halt and he takes a step back intending to go and fetch that drink. Drifting to the edge of the dancefloor he finally breaks from the dance and leans over to lift Coco's hand giving the back a quick kiss formally.

"Take a moment to rest, then, I'll return." With this assurance made he turns to find a waiter to request a water or some other nonalcoholic beverage from.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco goes to grab seats for herself and Adrien while the boy has gone to find her a drink. She even grabs a few sandwich tartare off the tray of a passing by caterer while she waits, so she doesn't turn up empty-handed either.

She just hopes she hasn't ruined his enjoyment of the event.

Jadeite has posed:
    Jadeite is staring as Darien dances with a different partner now. Oh, gee, who is that? I wonder! "Are you going to say those two look good together too?" he asks with only mild sarcasm. They've been sitting here all day and evening, and he is getting bored. Where is Zoisite, anyway? He considers getting some of those tiny corns, but sees the table keeps being wiped free of them every time they're replaced. Disappointing.

Nephrite has posed:
    "Hmm?" Nephrite says as he stares at his phone still. He glances up briefly, searching for whatever Jadeite is looking at. Pause. "Ah. Yes, I suppose so." He stares a little while longer, wishing this was all part of bringing that boy to their side. But he isn't sure whose side he's on anymore, and whether or not he should be the one trying to change it. He sighs, leans in his chair, and goes back to staring at his phone and the same message that hasn't changed all day and evening.

Naru Osaka has posed:
Quietly in the background of things, Naru has been here, somewhere, all along. Perhaps unusually for her usual social self, she's been quietly keeping a measure of things, watching people, keeping to herself. As things get quieter though, it is harder and harder for her not to be more in the foreground.

She's got her hair pinned up into a twist, with just a few curls falling down to frame her face. A long dark copper coloured dress skims off her curves, with thin straps over each shoulder, to let the silky material flow with her movements. She must be wearing heels of some sort, she's up to just short as opposed to tiny. A lacy shawl helps keep her from being cold, in spite of bare shoulders. Her mask is an equally lacy thing, only really a suggestion of hiding her identity, in matching colours to her dress.

Naru watches Darien and Kazuo dance for a moment or two, perhaps even three and she smiles, as she watches them before drifting over to where Jadeite and Nephrite are seated, looking bored. She comes up between their two seats, her hand settled on the back of Nephrite's chair. "Are you hoping for kitten gifs?" She asks him, a touch of amusement to her tone.

Adrien Agreste has posed:
Adrien Agreste makes his way through the crowd of those mingling, conversing, or simply just scrolling their phones as a good few were no doubt. All in search of a drink. He does manage to find a waiter to pass the request on to, and soon enough has a glass in each hand. He turns then back to where he'd come only to stand and stare a long moment from behind his leather 'devil' mask.

His weight shifts to lean against one of the columns in the area just taking a few moments to gather his thoughts so he doesn't continue to ruin the mood for those he was conversing with. Absently he ends up watching Darien and Kazuo dance a bit more with a slight smile. At least his friends were enjoying themselves tonight--Quite a bit from what he'd seen earlier and now as well.

Straightening himself again with a deep breath he strides through the crowd once more to return to Coco. The glass flled with a non-bubbly beverage to her. "Here you are. A bit of apple juice. Sorry to take so long. I think I may have to wander a bit more and socialize, though."

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
"Oh good, I'm terrible at being careful," says Mamoru, laughing once more; he's still! breathless, because tonight's been wonderful, and he's saving it up for later. Later might be considerably less fun. "And it's nice being looked out for!"

The piece of music does wind to a close, and the next one to come on is the sort where there's a lot of partner-switching, so Mamoru moves his hand in Kazuo's in order to hold it normally instead of holding it in a dance way, and he pulls Kazuo with him-- as he has, impulsively, so many times before. Through the night in the darkness, through long hallways, wanting to show him something or other...

But no, this is new, a shining thing he gets to keep no matter what else happens.

"If a waltz comes up before they start the formal presentation, let's do that! That's the one I learned how to do earlier," he says, and they're coming off the dancefloor not too far away from the steps again-- the steps that Naru's ascending, and his eyes widen.

He looks up uselessly at the bottom of the balcony, then grins. If anyone can distract them, it's Naru Osaka.

"Well. Even if things don't stay fun, they'll definitely stay fun," he says with a vast air of fake mystery, and then adds, "Did I tell you I picked up a bakeneko last night? She's fond of scritches and fish."

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco smiles when Adrien returns with her juice. "Thank you a lot." Then he communicates that he wants to wander, which prompts Coco to nod. Makes sense he would want some space. "I understand, Adrien. Take care of yourself, and thanks again for the juice", she waves at him.

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
Kazuo follows where Mamoru goes - less as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and more as if he were simply a sometimes-separate part of Mamoru's body, directed by the same mind with as little concentration needed as taking a step. It means that his own concentration can focus on something slightly different. Not, for this moment, on the balcony.

"You picked up a bakeneko." Kazuo pauses to glance around at the dance, attention lingering on the older women present. "She isn't here, is she?"

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
"No! She's in my dorm right now-- I warned Koji-- she's waiting for my sister. I asked her if she didn't mind making friends. She hasn't said anything at all yet, just got about as big as a Mini Cooper when there wasn't any lamp oil to lick, but she also acquiesced to coming home with me, so I figure it'll be fine," Mamoru answers Kazuo almost breezily. His voice lowers and he leans in to say, "My sister is here, though. She's wearing a Hematite halloween costume. It's adorable."

Jadeite has posed:
    Jadeite, dressed in his pristine, pale-hued, white-mantled outfit from a different era, a long, long time ago, does not look like the dark, sinister, or annoyed Jadeite of virtually every other encounter. He, like Nephrite, is seated up on a balcony. They've had their eye on Princess D, when they aren't people watching boredly, but so far no sign of any special crystals. "Nephrite, please, it's been hours." he prods at his companion as the other Shitennou stares at his phone.

    He does glance over when he sees Naru approaching. Given their last conversation...

    ...What was their last conversation? He feels like he should remember, but it's vague. A blur. He decides not to ruin the surprise of her approaching Nephrite and just partially hides a smirk behind the fingers of the hand he's using to rest his right cheek on as he likewise slouches in his chair like some uncouth commoner.

Pyrite has posed:
    All of the tiny corns keep getting eaten as soon as they're put down. It's so strange! Nobody seems to be able to see who is eating them! Himeko is staring at her phone. She stares. And stares. And then she taps a button. A message is sent to Naru, Jadeite, Nephrite, Darien, and also Usagi if she's still around.
    TXT to <Recipient>: Look at this gif I found. Is it not interesting?
    It's a looping gif of a baseketball failing to go into a basketball hoop, now with a black cat photoshopped in to make it look like it's falling into the hoop instead.

Nephrite has posed:
    Nephrite flashes a sarcastic smirk at Jadeite like, 'Oh, I hadn't noticed where my attention was all evening, thanks for pointing it out'. Then before he can get back to his phone, there's someone behind him, touching his chair, and a familiar voice, and he's turning around quickly and sitting up straight. The smile that spreads across his face without him realizing it shows how glad he truly is to see her, but he says it anyway. "Ah! I was saddened by the possibility we wouldn't cross paths." He quickly vacates his chair, and then bows and gestures for Naru to take it instead.

    "I was not expecting kittens per se--" *BZZBZZ* He glances at his phone, and the gif he was sent, and just turns his phone off and puts it away. "Looking lovely this evening, as always." Has he ever said she looked lovely before? Well he's saying it now. He's just in the mood to act like his old self. The one from 14,000 years ago. Back when he didn't have a death goddess in the back of his mind all the time.

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
"You're going to have to feed her entire stores worth of fish, aren't you." Kazuo sounds distinctly amused, now, as he glances around again. This time for a Hematite costume. "The cat, not your sister. I'm glad she's here. Have the two of them met yet? Are they getting along?"

Naru Osaka has posed:
"I didn't send that one." Naru laughs softly. Her own phone buzzed as well, but it's safely tucked into a small clutch bag, largely ignored.

"Thank you. I was hoping we'd manage to cross paths too, eventually at least." Naru makes no comments as to why she didn't make over here earlier, but she's here now. "You're looking very handsome." Now that he's standing, Naru looks up at him, reaching a hand out to touch his arm lightly, not sitting right away.

"You look very handsome as well, Jadeite." Naru turns her attention briefly there as well, offering him a warm smile. Clearly their last conversation couldnt' have ended that badly. Her attention settles back on Nephrite. "Even though the dancing has largely petered out, could I tempt you for one?"

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
The buzz buzz of Mamoru's phone is startling; he takes it out, just to check if it's an emergency, but it's instead... it's instead his daily reminder that sometimes the dead can change. He stares at the looping gif for a moment and texts back at the same time as he's talking. "No, they haven't met yet, I just told her when she showed up here tonight. I selfishly wanted to cuddle the bakeneko for a little while first. I told her I was going out, don't worry. Koji said he'd have enough fish..."

    Darien TXT Himeko: i am so proud of you

He pockets his phone again and grins at Kazuo once more. "She eats more or less the normal cat amount of fatty protein, it's just that it had been a very long time since she'd had anything to eat and looked like she was starting to contemplate eating people. Sakai-san was there and basically rescued the city with delicious cat things."

Coco Kiumi has posed:
The sandwich tartares have disappeared from Coco's table by more normal means than the tiny corns somewhere else in the venue, so the mermaid has risen from her chair and started taking an aimless walk around the various tables, not really in the mood for finding another dance partner.

In her wandering she spots a familiar figure she met quite recently. 'Oh, that's Darien!', she thinks, the guy clearly recognisable despite the different attire. To be honest, it didn't look to be a complex one, so it didn't conceal much.

The mermaid makes her way over there and smiles at the table before addressing Darien. "Hello, I am Coco, from the Festival Tarots reading. I wasn't expecting to see you again so soon. Were you saying something about Chiyo and a cat?" she asks, having only overheard that bit.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
"Hm-- oh! Coco! Nice to see you again, I'm sorry I left so quickly the other day. Thank you again for the reading, it was on point," Darien says, and then smiles a little lopsidedly, not moving away from Kazuo but giving Coco a little bow. "But yes, there was a bakeneko in the street looking for fish oil in the streetlights. The poor thing was hungry and confused and got mad when none of us immediately fed it, but Sakai-san's shop was very close by, so she ran and got tuna and oil and bacon mochi and things."

Jadeite has posed:
    He smiles and nods his head towards Naru. Yes, it seems they are still on good terms. Just like... .... ...Well, he's sure they were on good terms before, right? Since they are now? Well. That's good. "Thank you, thank you. Go have fun." He makes a little finger wiggle towards her and Nephrite like a parent telling the kids to go play outside.

    He pauses when his phone starts emitting the sound of a woman's bloodcurdling scream, his smile instantly turning into a scowl as he curses under his breath and digs the phone out of his pocket. "How does the notification sound keep getting turned to that?" he mutters as he hits buttons, sees the gif from Himeko, and just follows Nephrite's example by turning it off and putting it away.

Nephrite has posed:
    Nephrite was going to accept the offer whether Jadeite told them to or not, so he makes a point of ignoring the permission granting and focusing just on Naru. "It would be my utmost pleasure." He holds Naru's fingers gently, like a prince escorting a princess at a ball. Which... Yes, yes, and yes, that is the situation. But it's one thing to be a princess and another to be treated like one. Wait, since when is Naru a princess?

    Since Nephrite started thinking she might be the last of the missing Senshi. Naru might be Jupiter.

    And that... Complicates a lot of things. But right now? All of that can wait. He has a pretty young lady to entertain, and ballroom dancing skills that haven't lost their edge even after at least one apocalypse that ended the entire solar system. "Shall we head to the floor below?" He glances at the outside balcony through glass doors. "Or perhaps a dance under the moonlight?" he says, cocking his head and grinning.

Pyrite has posed:
    Himeko blinku blinkus behind her. Huh? Wasn't there someone there just now? She stares, adjusts her domino mask, and reaches for the teriyaki chicken (was there teriyaki chicken here before? well, there is now!), but flips the serving fork and winds up with teriyaki chicken spilled. On the floor. She is very upset and wanders over to Darien and Kazuo, looking like she's about to cry. She's holding her phone with Darien's message in one hand, and pointing off behind her at the wasted chicken with the other. "Some guy was there but wasn't and then the chicken failed to fly and now it is a waste!"

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
Cuddle the bakeneko. Kazuo may possibly be the first person in recorded history to have an expression that says by itself 'of course you wanted to cuddle the bakeneko.' This expression is still lingering just a little when he turns toward Coco's approach, but he schools it to one of polite attention. He's dressed almost to match Darien, white tie and tails, but minus a number of the higher-status touches and not nearly as well tailored. The polite bow of greeting is timed with Darien's. That way, after all, he doesn't have to let go of Darien's hand. "A pleasure to meet you, miss," he says to Coco, and then ... lets his eyebrows travel up just a little as Darien returns to topic. "I think," he says aside to Coco, "that that means 'the masquerade is nice, but he thinks it would be nicer with cats.'"

And then there is a Himeko, and Kazuo just blinks at the distress, and looks helplessly aside to Darien again. Some people do not have younger siblings. And it shows.

Kureha Senkenzan has posed:
    At one of the many tables around, there sits a girl in thoroughly incongruous Japanese clothing. It's not quite a full twelve-layer kimono, but gosh darn it, it's not far off. And on top of all that, she has shown up in a classical white and red kitsune mask - the deep irony of which is not lost on the girl wearing it.

    Kureha knows she sticks out like a sore thumb. She has decided she doesn't care. Her father sent a middle school girl to mingle at a party for the rich and famous, instead of coming himself or at least sending one of her older cousins. He gets what he pays for, as the saying goes. She has grabbed herself a non-alcoholic drink and a snack from passing trays, and she is seated and comfortable, and most assuredly not mingling with all these rich people and politicians.

    Behind her stands a woman in a very classical maid costume, complete with a lace-trimmed classic-style masquerade mask. The woman shifts pensively, a frown on her face. "My lady, you really ought to speak to some people..." the woman murmurs. Kureha replies with a simple, slightly smug, "I couldn't. Father has chastized me in the past for interrupting adult conversations, has he not?" She knows full well her attendants wouldn't dare bother one of those people on her behalf, either.


Coco Kiumi has posed:
"As long as it helped", is Coco's smiling reply. She has brought with herself a second serving of the apple juice Adrien gave her, now she knows that is being served.

"A hungry bakeneko? A monster cat?" she asks, dividing the word into its components. "Chiyo is really helpful, I am not surprised she came through like that, but did she know about magic already, or did you explain it to her?" She takes a seat at the table now.

When Himeko approaches, Coco is startled by the getup reminiscent of Hematite, but smiles at her and says "Hello, I am Coco. Can I have your name?" And since magic is already a subject at this table, she adds "You look just like Sailor Moon's boyfriend."

"Hmm, masquerade and cats?" she directs confused at Kazuo. "He was clearly talking about a youma."

Naru Osaka has posed:
There's an amused little wink to Jadeite at the 'permission' he has provided to Naru and Nephrite to go dance.

Naru considers the choice between downstairs, and the prospect of a quiet dance by moonlight. And truly there's only one option.

"Balcony, I think." Naru's attention follows his out into the quiet, and then back to Nephrite and then over towards the floor below. "It's a lovely evening out, under the stars and the moonlight."

Naru might compose herself as a princess might, but she's forward enough to hold Nephrite's hand gently as she leads him off towards the balcony and a bit of fresh air. There might not be much music out there, but it seems likely that they will manage without.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
"Everything would be nicer with--" Darien starts to retort, but he's interrupted by a small girl dressed like Hematite (with a mask added) and trying not to cry. He squeezes Kazuo's hand before regretfully letting go to crouch in front of Himeko. "Sometimes accidents just happen. I know you didn't mean to. Would it make you feel better if you went and picked it up, then took it and offered it to the bakeneko? She loves fish and lamp oil, but I bet she would also like chicken. That's the friend I said was in my dorm room waiting to meet you. She's very soft."

Then he looks up at Coco, and behind his mask his ocean-blue eyes ask her to understand. "Whoever doesn't believe in youkai is at best ignorant," he says quietly. "She seemed to already believe, which I would expect from her, she has a very good head on her shoulders."

And then she says 'Sailor Moon's boyfriend' and his face visibly goes jklagjkfdlg. "Does she?" he asks in a strangled voice.

Pyrite has posed:
    Himeko's corners-of-the-eyes tears are quickly wiped away with the back of her sleeve as she sniffs deeply. "A bakeneko...?" she asks waveringly. She looks back at the chicken. Then to Darien. She takes in a steadying breath and replies, "Hm. Yes. I would like that." Excitedly, she turns to hurry over to get the chicken before anybody else does, but pauses when addressed by Coco. She stares for a moment.
    Then she frowns. >:o
    "Excuse me, I believe you mean that I look like Sailor Moon's girlfriend." Then she turns, flourishes her cape without hitting anybody this time, and struts away to pick up some chicken off the floor.

Nephrite has posed:
    Without waiting for Jadeite to grant any more permission, and ignoring the batter of the screaming notification sound, he and Naru both head towards those doors. He opens them with a casual gesture that looks from a distance as though he opened them manually, but they just part on their own without him touching them. No doubt about who he is, if ever there could have been. Then it is out onto the veranda, overlooking the surrounding grounds of the fancy hotel. The doors are left partly open to allow for music, but are mostly closed to deny anyone else's voice the opportunity to interrupt them.

    Nephrite bows formally, one arm behind his back, smiling at Naru from behind his domino mask. "It truly is good to see you. It is embarrassing to admit, but the primary reason I even came here was for this chance."

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
"Youkai, cat, sometimes it gets hard to tell the difference." Not that hard when the cat in question is the size of a Mini Cooper, granted, but. Kazuo offers Coco a polite smile, then pauses, trying to find something else to say while Darien is reassuring Himeko.

... and then there is that exchange. And that cape flourish.

"Oh, she's good," he says before he can stop himself. And then catches himself. This time the smile to Coco is an apologetic one. Someone here has not had etiquette lessons that covered this, no.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco did hear of youkai, but not extensively enough to make the connection between bakeneko and them. "Youkai, right. I won't do the same mistake again."

"Of course she does", the mermaid exclaims when questioned on Himeko's resemblance to Hematite. "Mask aside, those are downsized versions of his clothes."

Of all the things Coco would have expected Himeko to contest her on that wasn't it. 'Who is Sailor Moon?' maybe, or 'since when she is Hematite's girlfriend?', but not to be contested on her word usage. "I mean...", she starts saying, caught by surprise by that reply.

"Yes, you are right, you would technically be dressed like her girlfriend... But I meant it like, you are dressed like Hematite, aren't you? And he is Sailor Moon's boyfriend", she says, trying to go back to her own logic.

"Really? Supernatural creatures tend to differ clearly even from what mundane counterparts they have, no?" she doubts Kazuo.

Naru Osaka has posed:
Voices and music, and phone notifications drift out of those mostly closed doors towards Naru and Nephrite on the balcony, but Naru returns the formal bow with one of her own, accompanied by a smile of her own. "It is good to finally see you.. in circumstances that permit conversation." She's not unconscious, or recently shot or a youma. Much better conversational potential!

"I wasn't going to come at all, but I hoped to steal a dance from you. I wasn't sure if you'd be here at all, and I'm grateful that you are." Bows accomplished, she reaches a hand out in offer to be able to pull him closer. There's music and there was a dance on offer. Certainly nothing at all about an excuse to continue to hold his hand.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
Apparently Darien's got some kind of cough (he's trying not to laugh but he's also shocked but he's trying not to laugh) nope he's laughing; he wipes at his eyes under his mask, too. "S-sorry, Coco, she's my little sister. Please let her go meet the cat..." He takes a deep breath, and then Kazuo's commenting on the cape flip and the black-haired boy nearly loses it again.

"Uhf," he finally says, head tipped back, wiping at his eyes again, and then he looks back down and apologizes, "I'm so sorry. Siblings can be very unexpected, I guess. At any rate, most of the time, you can't tell the difference between a cat and a bakeneko. In some ways, they're just cats that have lived long enough to become something more than cats."

He pauses, almost looks at Kazuo, decides it would be wiser to avoid seeing whatever non-expression the other boy might be wearing on his face, and then almost looks anyway. But doesn't. Instead he bumps his shoulder with his own shoulder. "She's a big fan of Sailor Moon. But I mean, who isn't?"

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
"I'm not actually sure there are any cats that aren't supernatural," Kazuo admits to Coco. "Long-lived or otherwise. But that's probably just superstition." As opposed to magic. Or Sailor Moon. His shoulder's bumped, and his expression comes dangerously close to breaking, but he manages. One hand comes up to rest lightly on Darien's shoulder. Clearly that's an expression of support for being a fan of Sailor Moon. Right?

Coco Kiumi has posed:
"You have an adorable little sister', she tells Darien. "But sure I have no problems letting her meet the cat."

'She is a big fan of Sailor Moon'

"To the point of knowing even who is her boyfriend? She must be really dedicated, but who tells her these things? That's not just information you can randomly come across one day." Coco is kind of puzzled over that.

"If all cats are supernatural, whatever force is hiding magic must be incredibly strong, if things are still this well hidden."

Pyrite has posed:
    Himeko speaks up from behind Darien. "The chicken was still edible." She has a pair of black cat ears poking out of her hair on top. At the mention of cats and things hiding the supernatural, she pauses her chewing of the chicken she retrieved off the floor. Looks aside. Folds the ears back down. Swallows. "Yes." is all she has to say to Coco on that matter.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
"Thank you! She's astonishingly cute, I agree. As far as cats go, I think that was probably hyperbole," Darien tells Coco, head tilting a little in the direction of Kazuo's hand on his shoulder. He continues to leave the question of 'Sailor Moon's boyfriend' and who's telling his little sister things up in the air because he has absolutely no way of knowing who Coco really is, that she's run into him as Hematite.

At least he's pretty sure she's not Sailor V.

That's Hannah.

Then he closes his eyes before opening them again and smiling brightly. "Hyperbole," he repeats.