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X-DREAMERS [mission 03: Shadows of an Island]

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XTRA DIMENSIONAL TELEPORTATION TERMINAL

FIRMWARE 1.0.1.4

Finding coordinates... ok.

~

Mission ID: 0103

Participants: Lara, Stan, Temeraire, Enterprise, Reshiram, Utakata, Tien, Xander, Illidan, Sol

World: Earth [Tomb Raider]

Location: Kauna ‘oa Beach, Hawaii

Time: Mid-afternoon

Current Environment: Warm climate, sunny weather

Status: Go

 

This is a companion thread to X-DREAMERS. In an effort not to flood the main topic with game posts (and to experiment with different RP forms, as per the spirit of Freeforms), this is a thread exclusively for off-world missions and other fast paced events such as battles that require a rapid exchange of posts.

 

MISSION RULES:

1. Only characters submitted to missions in X-DREAMERS may participate.
2. Short posts are encouraged.
3. Your character may exit the area and return to base at any time, although they will have a few turns of cooldown and might not be able to resume in the same place they left off.
4. If you are inactive over several rounds, your character will be sent back to base.

 

Flavour text: 

 

"It appears that I have a few things to attend to back at home. See… I hadn’t told many people here, but today’s my birthday, and a few friends of mine decided to throw a rather fancy dinner party... Something…. Isn’t right though. I expressed clearly to Winston not to celebrate my birthday, and I had asked him to tell my friends that same thing. He’s also telling me to bring friends. He never does that. Plus, I have been hearing reports from Winston that there has been quite a stir in the news lately. There’s also a strange presence in the world that I thought would be interesting. Because of this, I ought to be prepared for anything. I’ll need a bit of help. Care to come with?”

 

Our mission starts with a letter from Winston stating that Lara's friends had thrown her a rather fancy party for her 22nd birthday.  Seeing as it's the perfect opportunity to relax, a few agents decide to tag along and loaf off on the beach. Perhaps, though, they might not have as much loafing off to do as they think. This is the perfect opportunity to see what may be going on at Lara's home and crush the issue before it becomes a problem. It's also a good chance to look around for intel. But most importantly- our heroes, especially Lara, may learn that it is rather vital to check the guest list when you're not the one throwing the party, and perhaps hire some very tight security...

 

Mission 3: GO!

Edited by Mikasa361

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>> MISSION 03: START<<

 

Mauna-Kea-Beach-Hotel.jpg?fit=2880,1620px&ssl=1

 

Evening approaches. In the light of the lowering sun, the crystal blue water of the beach sparkles. Gentle waves lap against the soft white sand. In the breeze, palm trees sway. Upon approaching the beach, one could find guests dressed to the nines and speaking among themselves, drinks in hand, being served hors d'oeuvres from small silver platters. 

 

Several guests are found at the bar, where the bartender works tirelessly. Some guests dance with each other, and one may even find the occasional couple at a table, looking into each other's eyes. It seems that the air of Valentine's Day has caught on, as there seem to be a few people making attempts to shoot their shot, much to the chagrin of the recipients. 

 

hhHAcox.png

 

Lara Rochelle - Empress

X -  Abort mission | ▢ - Drink from flask

△ - Speech | O- ?!?!?! 

 

Ah, it’s been quite some time. 

 

Something about the balmy breeze, the clear air, and the abundance of foliage in the distance brings Lara back to a time before the dark period in her life started- before the loss of her father, before Henry, back when Amanda was nothing more than a pen pal. She closes her eyes when the breeze hits her face. Ah yes, Hawaii. It’s good to be back. Granted, the many tourists walking around is an annoyance, but of course she had never been a fan of touristy areas in general. 

 

Lara glances over the group, glad that everyone made it here, standing, in one piece. She smiles at everyone before she glances at the mall in front of them. 

 

So it’s come to my attention that not all of us quite have what we need for today, myself included it seems, so I’m glad we managed to get here a little early. For those of you who are already ready, you’re free to do as you like, we’ll regroup here in an hour. Will having an hour in the hotel to get our acts together afterward suffice? I can do more as needed, we got here in a good amount of time so I’m in no rush.And quite frankly, I’m rather anxious so the longer we take, the better. 

 

People seem to nod in agreement, she notices Chikako and Evonna whispering amongst themselves. Lara holds back a chuckle- it amuses her how quickly they latched on to each other, it almost reminds her of--

 

 

...Not the time to think about such things. Lara wants to have a pleasant birthday this year, and thinking of the debacle that occurred before her birthday last year isn’t going to help that at all. She sighs. “No need to worry about money, anything you get for today is on me. I owe you all, I don’t think I could have done this alone.” She gives them all a warm smile. No, I could never do this alone.Oh, and after an hour I’ll call on the communicators. If you’re unsure how to use yours, you may ask a veteran agent. Any one of them, including myself, can help with that.” She glances over everyone. “Any questions? Comments? Concerns?I have many concerns. 

 

Not a word comes from anyone. It seems like some of them just want to get to the bloody party already. Utakata tightens the top on his container of bubble fluid and tucks it away somewhere safe in his kimono. She wonders briefly if he keeps anything else in there, like how some women keep things stored in their shirts or purses. Maybe that’s where her spare Swiss Army knife went. Tien fidgets with his communicator in his hand, seeming to keep close to Utakata. Lara is now curious as to why, he seems like he wouldn’t allow someone within a meter’s radius. ….Neither of them seem that way. Maybe that’s why they get along. Everyone else, though, seems to speak amongst themselves. She notices that Chikako looks more than excited, and she prays to every deity out there that Lara can recognize herself by the time she’s done. “Right then. Let’s be off. If anyone needs help, find me. I’ll be…. Wherever I get dragged to, I suppose. Just ask for me on the communicator, you can dial 2748 on the cube. ...Right! See you lot in an hour!” 

 

The second Lara starts walking towards the mall, Evonna and Chikako grab her by each arm. “Oh, bloody hell…” She mumbles a few things in French under her breath. Evonna snaps back at her. 

 

Hey. You’re the birthday girl here. We’re gonna make sure you look like a goddess. So no lip, mademoiselle,” she says as she gives Lara a wink. This is the most lively Lara has ever seen Evonna, in the few short days they’ve been acquainted. Lara sighs in defeat and allows the girls to drag her into the mall.

 

I wonder what sorts of cosmetics they’ll have,” Chikako chirps. 

 

Oh sis, you’ve got a whole selection,” Evonna replies with a wink. 

 

What the devil have I gotten myself into, Lara thinks to herself.

Edited by Mikasa361

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Sol listened from the back of the group as Lara explained the situation; wondering how she was in this situation. She had only recently arrived at the Gateway, the home of the XDREs, accompanying Giorno and his friends. Giorno had informed her that one of the other agents was having a birthday party in a tropical part of a foreign world and he couldn’t go; so he had passed his invitation onto her.

They had arrived quite recently, and Sol had been breathtaking. Towering metal and glass buildings loomed overhead, the warm sun, salty breeze and distant crashing of waves made this a city like no other Sol had ever beheld. She had visited the beach plenty of times, and she couldn’t count how often she had travelled to the larger cities of Fiore, but none were on this scale.

 

And now, in this bizarre new landscape, she was being instructed to go shopping; certainly not the thing Sol had expected from the group researching and correcting these anomalies. It wasn’t unwelcome though; like most wizards, Sol travelled on quests with limited gear, and while her chosen dress was fine for those things, the chance to purchase some alternate outfits was appealing.

Though, as Lara pointed out, Sol had no money for this world and would have to rely on the generosity of her host. Which meant she would have to limit her spending; one formal dress for the party and, perhaps, two additional outfits; something a little more casual.

 

As the head of the party departed Sol found her gaze drifting over the others, the ‘agents’ that she was supposed to interact with. The obvious stand out was the large horned purple man; the inner fire in Sol had identified him as at least part demon, but perhaps he was simply in the same boat as her but was unable to manifest a more human form.

Her gaze drifted to a brown-haired man. He was wearing a kimono; the front parted open, exposing his chest. Sol felt a nerve twitch in her forehead, immune as she was to fire, she could still register the simmering heat of the sun on her skin. The man was pale, his skin would blister easily.

 

Sol walked over to him and briskly shut the opening in his gown.

“Someone as young as you shouldn’t be condemning themselves to melanoma. Cover up, if you’re trying to draw the attention of girls no one’s going to notice you next to the demonic purple giant,” Sol said firmly.

 

As she was now close to him, she glanced up at his hair; it looked unkempt, loosely hanging to obscure his eye. Sol reached up and brushed it aside.

“We’re going to a formal affair, you must do something about this hair as well,” Sol said. Steeling her eyes, she grabbed the sash at his waist and began to lead him towards the shopping centre.

 

“This settles it, we’re going to make you look presentable.” Sol declared

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Utakata looks around, rather overwhelmed by the scenery. The structure of the buildings is completely different than what he could find at home- forget the fact that there are more of them. He notes that while the air is nice, it’s hotter than he’s used to. And what’s more, there are more people walking on this street alone than in the entire Hidden Village of the Mist. He fights the urge to clam up, attempts to listen, but looks away a little. Trying to distract himself, he tightens the container of bubble fluid resting in the hand of his kimono. None of this, absolutely none of this, makes him comfortable.

 

While he gets the gist of what Lara is saying, and he accepts the card she hands him, he still has no clue what’s going on. His brain only snaps into focus when one of the women, Sol(?), marches up to him and closes the front of his kimono. A vein in his temple throbs. Okay who gave this woman the right—

 

“Someone as young as you shouldn’t be condemning themselves to melanoma. Cover up, if you’re trying to draw the attention of girls no one’s going to notice you next to the demonic purple giant,” she scolds him as if he were a child. Utakata’s eyebrows knit together with annoyance. Sheesh. What is with women and the snippy attitude?

 

“Hey, what the hell? Who says I was trying to draw attention from—?” He almost Trips on himself trying to take a step back. Ah. Graceful, Utakata. And for my next trick…. But seriously! I’m twenty six! Why is she acting like my mom? 

 

Sol looks up at his hair and brushes his bangs to the side, revealing his left eye, which winces from exposure to the light. “We’re going to a formal affair, you must do something about this hair as well,” she says with a huff. He really wants to send her several kilometers back on a bubble. The look in her eyes changes, to an intimidating degree, and she grabs his sash and pulls him towards some of the buildings.

 

 “This settles it, we’re going to make you look presentable.” 

 

“Presentable— What— Wait but it’s too late. He’s already in her clutches. In theory he could go into six tails mode. But with the sheer amount of people, he decides instead to accept his fate. Anything is better than being labeled a freak in this world.

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Forum Signature--Fractal1.png

Forum Signature--Tien.png

Tien knew to expect something different. The Gateway planet, the castle, those had already been a stark and shocking difference from Roshar, let alone the military lifestyle he was long used to. He knew it was going to be different.

 

He hadn’t quite anticipated how different. Buildings soared into the air, utterly unfamiliar--so much glass, and no protection from highstorms whatsoever! It takes Tien long, long moments to tear his eyes away from the ridiculous, stunning things and look at the environment closer to ground level.

 

Sand, and clear water stretching impossibly into the distance, and a startling amount of green--this, Tien imagines, must be what the port city of Thaylenar looks like. Minus the unprotected buildings and quite so much green, of course. 

 

Tien Memorizes it, blinking back into focus just in time for Lara to hand him a card. He’s not sure what this is for, actually. Tien tucks the cube-shaped communicator into his pocket and frowns at the card, running his fingers over the upraised text on it. "...Fractal? What did she say this was for?"

 

"She did not," Fractal replies. “We will have to ask.”

 

Oh. That’s unfortunate. He wasn’t listening to Lara either, so he can’t make a guess at it from context clues. Tien looks up, but Evonna and Chikako are already dragging Lara away. He waves a small, pointless goodbye at their backs and quietly hopes that someone else he knows has an idea of what this card is for, because that was most of the people he knew on this mission. 

 

Tien turns to Utakata, opening his mouth to ask--

 

And a woman--Sol, if he remembers correctly--marches up to Utakata and immediately starts lecturing him. Tien snaps his mouth shut. It’s never a good idea to interrupt a woman who’s decided it’s her job to look after everyone. It’s only when she starts to drag Utakata away that Tien yelps out a "Hey, wait for me!" and follows after them.


Utakata is the last person here he’s familiar with. Tien doesn’t want to lose him. And, if nothing else, at least Sol seems like she knows what she’s doing.

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dcv6up8-e637a9de-3c49-42cd-ad44-e5f9a41d

 

Illidan Stormrage, Lord of the Illidari
<Status: Stable; nervous>
<Location: Hawaii>
<People: Lara, Stan, Temeraire, Enterprise, Reshiram, Utaktata, Tien, Xander, Sol>

 

 

dd3hjow-314592c7-1003-4fb0-be90-c9ed8776

 

Temeraire Rhowa, Warrior of Light
<Status: Stable; in awe>
<Location: Hawaii>
<Current Class: Ninja>
<People: Lara, Stan, Enterprise, Reshiram, Utakata, Tien, Xander, Illidan, Sol>

 

~~

 

Temeraire could only stare in awe at the place. The buildings and people were very different, but the smell of the sea air very much reminded her of Eorzea's own Costa del Sol, complete with the overall pleasant weather. The Miqo'te was over the moon and almost wasn't quite sure where to start.

 

Illidan, meanwhile, was very much on-edge, wings drawn inward both out of insecurity and to make sure he didn't accidentally hit anyone with them. He stuck very close to Xander and could hear strange clicking sounds around them. He didn't like it here - even though the sea air smelled nice, that was all this place had going for it as far as the Lord of the Illidari was concerned. Not to mention he was a seven-foot-tall half-demon freak in the middle of a place that was mostly humans who were, at the most, about 6 feet tall. He stuck out like a sore thumb. "...Temeraire, was it? What are you going to do?"

 

Temeraire heard Illidan's question even amongst the others talking (and Sol scolding Utakata as if she were his mother). "Probably gonna go get a nice dress to wear - I can't be wearing my adventuring gear to a party, after all. Maybe something in red - something I can sneak a knife or two under so I can defend myself if necessary."

 

Illidan sighed. At least this girl isn't afraid of what people think. "Yeah, you do that."

 

Temeraire easily picked up on how nervous Illidan looked and sounded. "You sound more wound up than a bird who's afraid of heights, man. You should probably get something nice to wear, too."

 

"I can't wear shirts. The horns and wings will tear them up. I'm going to stick out like a sore thumb no matter what I do or wear."

 

Temeraire made a sound that sounded like a weird mix between a human scoff and a tiger chuffing - Illidan chalked that up to Temeraire being a literal cat-person. "Get a bowtie, at least. Maybe some nice dress pants, too - I'm sure at least one of the places around here carries some that'll fit - because there's no way you're gonna be caught dead at a party wearing those dingy things."

 

Illidan grunted at Temeraire's half-insult before glancing at Xander. "...I suppose she has a point. If I'm sticking out like a sore thumb now, I'll be the talk of that entire party if I go like this, and not in a good way."

 

"You boys go ahead and do your boy thing - maybe you can chat it up or something while you're at it. I'm gonna see if I can't find a dress."

 

"You should probably catch up with Lara, then."

 

"Will do. Good luck, boys." And then the Miqo'te was running to catch up with Lara.

 

Illidan hated how she called him a boy. "...so... where to start? I can't exactly see where we're supposed to go..." His ears fell a little, similarly to a cat's. "A little help, Xander?"

Edited by hikarinomemori

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IAyCL0u.png yzPtgBS.gif

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< STATUS: Stable; Thoughtful >

< LOCATION: Hawaiian Market >

< AGENTS: Lara, Stan, Temeraire, Enterprise, Reshiram, Utakata, Tien, Illidan, Sol >

< OTHER PARTICIPANTS: N/A >

 

Even after months of being an agent within XDRS, Xander still wasn’t used to visiting worlds more technologically advanced than his. Xander took in a deep breath. The air was clean and scented with the distinct salty redolence of the sea. He was used to seeing large crowds of people wandering around mingling and laughing with one another. Even though Windmire had its fair share of large towering structures—Castle Krakenburg being a prime example—Xander still found himself staring in awe at the alien architecture of other worlds. At the very least, Xander was glad Lara’s homeworld wasn’t as exotic as that spaceship Shepard had dragged him to once where he could see the curve of the artificial sky on the horizon. 

 

Gingerly, Xander flipped over the card Lara had given him. Before he left for the mission, Xander had checked the organization’s funds and, well, suffice to say he was glad they had managed to restock on necessities beforehand. Knowing that, Xander could only assume that Lara was allowing them to use her personal account. Looking down at the card, Xander could clearly see Lara’s name scribbled down in pen on the bottom left corner. Xander frowned to himself. He wasn’t sure how he felt about using Lara’s personal money to buy clothes for what was essentially a party. Sure, he supposed this was technically a mission and he knew better than to think that everything would go smoothly but he still felt uneasy. Thinking about it now, Xander wasn’t sure if how he’d feel about allowing XDRS to use the royal Nohrian treasury for funding, but then again if he did miraculously find a way back home then…

 

Something wet and warm nudged Xander’s hand. Startled, Xander looked up to see Sieghorse pushing Xander’s hand with the tip of his nose. Xander instantly relaxed. Smiling gently, he pocketed Lara’s card and raised a hand to pet Sieghorse’s head. He knew better than to let his thoughts drift to somewhere dangerous. He was on a mission and that should be his primary focus.

 

Xander caught the tail end of what Temeraire said to Illlidan before she trotted off in the direction Lara and the two younger girls had gone. In fact, Xander realized as he looked around, everyone seemed to be breaking off into small groups. Glancing to his side, Xander noticed that Illidan shuffling his feet anxiously. Ah, that was right. He did stick out like a sore thumb didn’t he? 

 

“Luckily for the both of us, attending high-end parties is a requirement for nobility,” Xander said. Xander turned around until he was in front of Illidan and facing him directly. He lifted a hand to his chin and pursed his lips as he thoroughly looked over Illidan’s body. “Temeraire was right; it wouldn’t hurt to get you a bow tie or some dress pants. It’s uncommon, but there are humans who share your height so I’m sure we can pants that fit.” Xander took a step forward and picked up Illidan’s hand. He examined it thoroughly, humming to himself as he turned it left and right. “Hypothetically we could get a custom dress vest that left room for your wings, but we have a time limit and I don’t think we can get it finished and shop for everything else within an hour. I believe—” Xander tapped a finger along Illidan’s wrist. “—we could get you some cuffs. I’m not entirely certain it will fit with the rest of the outfit, but we’ll just have to see.” 

Xander released Illidan’s hand and took a step back. 

 

“I’m actually unsure if I need to change into something more formal,” Xander mused as he plucked the fabric of his cape between two fingers. “I usually don’t wear my armor to formal events, but I don’t have anything better in my closet.” Not to mention, ever since Illidan told Xander how badly the Fel in his blood reeked, he had been putting on much more perfume than he normally would. He put an indecent amount on himself and his armor earlier that door and was worried if he’d start to reek again if he got into a new change of clothing. Sieghorse, at the very least, probably didn’t need to be changed out of his armor. Xander hadn’t seen any other horses around and, generally, Sieghorse always stayed in his armor if he was taken out of the stable.

 

Letting his cape go, Xander looked back up to Illidan. Now that he thought about it, Illidan did have a lot of hair. It was quite lovely actually; it was a deep shade of black and despite Illidan not wearing much in the first place his hair really did fit with the rest of him. 

 

“You know, we could do something with your hair,” Xander said. “I’ve had to do my siblings’ hair plenty of times before. I would suggest we wash it first, but I’m not sure there’s any public washrooms around here. We might have to rent a hotel room just to use the bath.”

Edited by Doctortear

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dcv6up8-e637a9de-3c49-42cd-ad44-e5f9a41d

 

Illidan Stormrage, Lord of the Illidari
<Status: Stable>
<Location: Hawaii>
<People: Xander>

 

~~

 

So he noticed.

 

Illidan looked a little uncomfortable as Xander sized him up and down. Now that he thought about it, he was taller than most people even back on Azeroth (and that was not accounting for his horns). Even though the king was looking over his hands, though, his touch was comforting, to say the least - especially in a world full of things Illidan had never heard of or done before.

 

He could smell the perfume; he knew Xander was trying to mask the stench of the Fel. He kept quiet for Xander's sake, but good grief, the scent of that much perfume assaulted the Demon Hunter's nostrils almost as badly as the Fel did.

 

Upon mention of his hair, however, Illidan wanted to snap. Nobody, and he meant NOBODY, touched his hair without his say-so. That is to say, nobody at all. Call it a side effect of having been around a certain Blood Elf prince too long, but even a single strand of his hair being touched was a berserk button for Illidan, and the expression on his face clearly showed it. Were it not for the two of them being teammates and his own crush on him, Illidan was almost certain he would have throttled Xander by the neck there and then.

 

No words were spoken, however - the facial expression alone spoke volumes. Illidan did not want his hair touched.

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Girl Time™ 

 

Chikako is more than elated when she sees one of the other new agents- Temeraire!!! - run after them. She gives her a smile and a wave. “Ah! Hey,” Chikako chirps, “coming along with us?” Evonna and Lara also wave, Lara feeling stiff with anxiety. She has no idea what’s going to happen here, whether or not something might go wrong, but the entirety of the situation has her hairs on end. Lara tries her hardest to make sure she doesn’t show it visibly, but if someone were to check her forearms….

 

Evonna starts looking around at stores. Wow. Some of these stores she’d only heard of, Limited Too? Delia*s? Oh my god… RADIO SHACK? Blockbuster??? None of these exist where she’s from. It's strange to her, but she absolutely loves it. “Okay…. so we’re looking for nice clothes here, so it’ll probably be pricey. Out of courtesy though, we’re not gonna go too far. Besides, Chika and I gotta head back to base after this.” Lara nods and looks at Temeraire.

 

I assume this is a bit of a culture shock to you.

 

Temeraire nods. "A bit, yeah. This place reminds me of someplace similar, Costa del Sol, back home in Eorzea, except with a lot of shops and a lot more people. If Gegeruju, the guy in charge of Costa del Sol, saw this place, oh man, he'd freak out and call it genius at the same time." To be fair, it was a bit of a shock, seeing so many shops on one single street - it was like Costa del Sol and Ul'dah rolled into one. She was honestly expecting a resort or two around, as well - after all, that's what Costa del Sol is. "Costa del Sol is a pretty popular place - pretty much the biggest resort in all of La Noscea if not all of Eorzea - but nowhere near as popular as this. ...and, to be truly honest, I'm afraid I'd get lost if I was wandering all by myself." 

 

Lara nods in acknowledgement. “I’m not familiar with your world, but I suppose it’s a good thing if this place reminds you of something from your world. Makes it more palatable.Right. Distract yourself. 

 

Evonna glances at Chikako, who seems to be looking for any sort of makeup store. To Chikako’s dismay, she can’t even read anything here. None of the characters look familiar, she can’t even tell if it’s writing or some really weird drawing. “I…. what is everything? I…. I can’t read…. this…. stuff.” She is visibly confused by everything here, and Evonna sighs. 

 

Crap…. I’ll help you, don’t worry. Ah, there’s a store. MAC cosmetics, it’s a familiar brand. Chika, if you want we can look in there after we find these ladies some dresses.” She looks back at Lara and Temeraire. “So! Any idea what you two would want? General style, color, anything?” Lara shrugs.

 

To be quite honest, I’m not sure. Just…. whatever’s nice, I suppose. I leave it to you.” Evonna nods and looks around. 

 

Gotcha. Hmm….. I don’t know if there’s a designer store here…. but there’s gotta be something that sells nice stuff… Bingo.” She sees a store just a few meters ahead of them, with a name she just couldn’t bring herself to try and pronounce. But the dresses she sees in the display make up for the fact that she can’t recognize the brand. “That, ladies, is what we’re gonna check out.” She’s impressed, the closer she gets to the window, how elegant some of these items are. 

 

Temeraire's eyes widen. These dresses looked very fancy and wouldn't look out of place in that one clothing shop in Ul'dah - Sunsilk Tapestries, she thinks it's called. To think that just about a moon ago, she couldn't even imagine herself looking at dresses like these. Now she was going to not only be buying one, but wearing it as well. The very idea of an adventurer in a fancy dress would likely raise questions in Ul'dah.

 

Then again, this isn't Ul'dah. "By the Twelve, these look fancy... I'm not gonna lie: the thought of little old me being in one of these is... surreal."

 

Lara blinks. “I’m…. surprisingly not used to dresses like these. I’ve always been in clothes I could run around or bike around in…. These are lovely.” 

 

Evonna grins. “Well hopefully we find what we’re looking for. Why don’t we start with Tem? What would you be looking for?

 

For someone who claims to be a tomboy, you sure know a lot about fancy dresses,” Lara teases.

 

And for someone who grew up in nobility, you know next to nothing about them. So I mean…

 

Temeraire shrugs. "Honestly, I don't really care much for this sort of thing. As long as it's red, looks even remotely decent, and can hide a knife or two in case I need to defend myself, then I'm fine with whatever y'all choose out." 

 

I like this one. Her priorities are straight,” Lara says with a grin.

 

Evonna chuckles. “I think I can make that happen. Lemme just poke around.” She immediately makes a beeline for some of the long dresses. “Hm… Red, can hide knives. Honestly there are a few looks I can see on you. ….Oh hello? What’s this?” She takes something off the back of one of the racks. “....Hm. I mean, the slit up the leg is a look…. Still, I’m not sure about the style of the bodice… Nah.” She puts it back. Seeing nothing fitting the mold there, she scampers to another rack. Hm… Evonna takes a red spaghetti-strap dress off the rack. “...Hm…. I mean, I guess the uneven skirt is a look. It’s nice. Thoughts?

 

Temeraire looks the dress over. "I, uh... It looks nice and stuff, Ev, but I ain't exactly a fan of spaghetti straps. They're just plain uncomfortable to me."

 

Evonna nods. “Gotcha.” She places it back on the rack and moves towards the back of the shop. She pokes through a couple racks before something yet again catches her eye. 

 

Ooh… I do like a good strapless… It looks big around the skirt which can hide things, but the slit there makes knives accessible. And it’s red.” Evonna takes it off the rack and holds it up. “Up to you. I think it’d look nice though.

 

Lara looks at it. “....It’s a very classy number. Elegant, I’d say.” She shifts her weight to a foot and looks the dress up and over a few times. “...Well, what about you, Temeraire? Thoughts?

 

Temeraire's eyes had widened and a long gasp escaped her throat the moment she saw this one. "Oh, yeah, now that's more like it! This one really just... speaks to me, y'know?" A nod of satisfaction. "This is the one."

 

Hell yea,” Evonna replies. She’s now very gleeful to be helping make these girls look like Goddamn Goddesses for this party. She looks at Lara. “...You’re next.

 

Lara’s hairs stand on end. “Well you need not be so ominous about it!” 

 

I mean, have you been looking,” Chikako asks with a raised eyebrow. “Could’ve been poking through the racks here.” Lara blinks.

 

How old are you?” She sighs and puts her hands up in defeat. “Anyway, fine. Let’s take a look.” 

 

Evonna grabs a purple satin dress off the rack. “This one?” Lara shakes her head.

 

Chikako finds a light, silky blue frock on the rack. Nice for some other occasion, but again Lara shakes her head. “This woman is hard to shop for,” Chikako murmurs under her breath. And so the two girls take some time looking, picking a dress, only to have Lara shake her head. For a woman who had little taste in nice clothes, she sure had some high standards.

 

Lara shakes her head. “No, no, these won’t do… none of them really speak to me.

 

Temeraire, for the most part, had been staying out of it because she felt she had bad fashion sense (especially considering that most of her time was spent doing adventurer things - mostly killing things to keep people safe). But seeing this was sad, so she'd started glancing over the racks, as well.

 

Then she spoke up. "I, uh... Sorry if it sounds like I'm butting in, but... maybe this one will work, Lara?" It was a beautiful navy blue sleeveless dress, similar to the one Temeraire had chosen, except this one's skirt wasn't nearly as wide and Temeraire's dress at least had some semblance of a sleeve on it. "I... I understand if you don't like it - my fashion sense is pretty bad."

 

Lara takes a minute to look at it. She walks up to Temeraire and carefully takes the dress from her to take a better look. It’s very elegant indeed, and she very much likes the slit up the leg. It’s tastefully done, she has to admit. It reminds her of something her mother would have worn, only just a little less conservative. 

 

Well… Would you look at that? That’s a lovely one, isn’t it?

 

...Where did you find that one, Tem?” Chikako gawks at the dress. “It’s really nice!

 

Lara looks it over one more time, and checks the size. “Ah! That will work just nicely.” She gives Temeraire a warm smile. “Thank you, you certainly have an eye for these things.

 

Temeraire face goes from nervous smile to practically beaming. "Well, it seems I've got a talent helping people, huh? Whether it's pushing back an Amalj'aa raid or picking out a dress for a party..." She laughs, a little bit nervously - sure, she liked protecting the people of Ul'dah from the Amalj'aa, but all the deaths that came with it... It was honestly disheartening.

 

But today wasn't the day to dwell on the past. Temeraire tries to take her thoughts off of her own home, and starts thinking about the jewelry she'd wear with her dress. She was sure she could cobble something together, but one thing she'd never take off was her earrings. Those were a gift, after all - or, at least, she considered them so.

 

I think that’s a good thing,” Lara says with a smile. And I’m sure she’s very good at it, Lara thinks to herself. “Now, I’ll take care of these dresses.” She grabs them both and hurried to go pay. Evonna grins at Chikako.

 

Now we need you to work your makeup magic.

 

I don’t need much to be honest,” Chikako replies, “I just need a couple small things. These two are lovely ladies, they really don’t need much at all. Although,” she remarks, “judging by that braid, Lara could use a trim.” 

 

...Yeah. Likely.” Evonna says with defeat. “Good thing we have time after this, right?

 

Oh yeah. Big time.” 


As soon as Lara finishes paying for the dresses, Evonna drags Chikako and the other girls to MAC for a quick cosmetics run. As soon as they finish up Lara grabs her cube. “Right,” she says. She activated the cube and pokes at one of the sides. “Alright, I’m all set here. Meet me at the front when you’re finished.

Edited by Mikasa361

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Uta's Mum has got it going on

 

Quickly they were inside the shopping centre, the sudden wall of cold air startling Sol.

‘I guess they must have the equivalent to a frost lacrima here’ She thought.

Glancing behind her she realised that another person had followed them, a boy with curly brown hair. The look on his face conveyed a strong sense of nervousness, Sol assumed he must have followed along before he could be left by himself.

 

Her face softened slightly, as she felt a small pang of sorrow for the boy.

“Come along young man. Shopping can be a lot of fun! Now...” Sol trailed off, she examined the inside of the building they’d arrived at.

Shops and boutiques lined the walls, there were multiple floors and even some small eateries scattered around. Sol was once again struck by how startling this world was in comparison to her own. But shopping was a universal constant, and she could already see multiple clothes stores.

 

“Now, we’ll start with clothes for the boys, and then I’ll get something and finally we’ll take you to a salon to get your hair sorted out,” Sol stated, though she didn’t know where a hair salon was. With her free hand she absent-mindedly ran her fingers through her own hair, momentarily considering having her own hair taken care of at a salon. She begrudgingly shelved that idea, they were borrowing someone else’s money, Sol was already planning to get 4 outfits, 5 if the new boy wanted to dress up as well.

 

“I suppose you’ll want something that matches your style of wear?” She asked the boy who she was still secured in her grasp.

 

Utakata looks around, none of the culture shock settling down yet. In fact, with this crazy woman dragging him around, his head is continuing to spin. He wants to shove her off and say “get lost”, but he’s already overwhelmed. He glances behind him at Tien, who had followed the both of them here. Tien shrugs apologetically at him. 

 

He sighs, gaining a little bit of a grip. “Sure…? Can you quit manhandling me?” Perhaps he could’ve said that more politely. And, perhaps, he could’ve said please. But he hadn’t wanted to, considering she just dragged him off like that. He looks back at Tien, who seems to have gotten distracted by something and is practically walking backwards to get a look at whatever it is. “I mean…. who died and made you my mother?” 

 

That, perhaps, was a mistake.

 

Sol raised her eyebrow at him.

“You should never take a tone like that with anyone.” She said sternly, pointing her finger up at him.

“And if your mother were here, I'm sure she’d agree with me. Now. If you don’t want me to really start acting like a mother, you’ll turn around and walk into this store,” she finished.

 

Sol released her grip on his waistband but instead moved behind him and grasped both his shoulders. Sol began to steer him into the nearest shop, which had the look of a formal-wear boutique. 

 

He really hates the grip on his shoulders. One could even say it makes him seethe. Utakata feels the vein in his temple throb again. “This is not what meant when I said stop manhandling me,” he mutters under his breath. And my mother would agree that my hair is just fine. But he takes a few steps forward towards the store. And by the look of this place, he can tell he’s not gonna like what he sees. But to avoid Sol yapping his ear off for an hour, he moves forward. Looking at the display, he doesn’t see anything on the figures that looks interesting. He does see a very odd frilly shirt, which makes his stomach lurch. What the hell do people wear here???

 

Still. He decided to look anyway. Perhaps he can find a way to run away once Sol is looking away. But doing this requires a great level of skill….

 

Sol moved to the lineup, there were several formal shirts of various size and colour. They looked like they would go well with a cummerbund and possibly even a cravat. Sol grabbed a few different colours and draped them over her arm; examining Uta up and down.

 

“Hmm, we can try these. But let’s move on to something with a more slim-fit,” she said, somewhat absent-mindedly. The other boy had wandered off, but that didn’t phase her too much, her current goal was to get Bangs-boy dressed.

She moved onwards and picked out several pairs of slacks, belts, suspenders, ties, bow-ties and even a cravat.

 

“Here, try these on,” She said, pressing the pile of clothes into his arms.

 

“Slim fit—” Utakata doesn’t just want to sneak away. He wants to run away. These clothes already feel heavy. But he sighs in defeat and walks into the changing room.

 

He absolutely does not like the first outfit. Something about it feels hot and heavy. He hates the feel of it. Looking in the mirror, it’s acceptable, but nothing can shake off just how uncomfortable this is. Men wear these here? They find these comfortable? 

 

Utakata steps out to show, a rather irked expression on his face. “Guys wear these,” he says, “I don’t get why.”

 

“Because they look good, that’s why. And I must say you look quite fetching. We just need to fix up your hair,” Sol said with an approving nod.

“But there are plenty of other stores to check out. If none of these are comfortable there’ll be more that we can visit. Get them changed and put them back. While you were in there I saw another shop that looked good just a few stalls down”. 

 

Sol waved him back into the changing room and walked over towards the women's section in the store. There were several mixes of dresses and suits that would certainly fit the bill for formal wear for a party. Sol made a mental note to come back and try some on once she had secured something for Bangs. As she turned back around to return to the changing rooms she saw the boy who had wandered off.

 

He gave her a small wave, adjusting something in his other hand. “Is, uh...is there anything I can do to help? Also, where’d Utakata go?”

 

Sol smiled at him and leaned forward slightly, though due to the height difference she still had to look up. “Well, if you can think of anything formal for Utakata to wear that looks good on him that would be a big help. A second opinion is always valued. He should just be getting out of the changing room now, this way,” Sol said kindly. She took the tall boy’s hand and led the two of them back towards the changing rooms.

 

Here,” Utakata said as he came out with the next one. Thanks I hate it, he thought to himself. It was slightly lighter, but still didn’t feel right on his frame. He couldn’t even explain why it made him uncomfortable, and it was also quite scratchy. “Yeah, um…. not a fan of this one either. Still too heavy.”

 

Tien leaned forward and touched the fabric of the jacket, tilting his head slightly. His nose wrinkled. “Don’t think I’ve felt any clothes like this before. It feels scratchy.”

 

“Hence why I don’t like it. Scratchy, heavy… not my type of fabric at all.” He scratches at his collar. “And hot.”

 

“Hmmm.” Sol frowned. She rubbed the fabric between her fingers, it did feel rougher than the kimono he was wearing.

“Very well then, we’ll go to another shop and check out if they have any silk suits. Honestly it’s rather surprisingly there aren’t any in here,” Sol declared. 

 

Utakata nods at that point and slips back into the room to change into the clothes he’s most familiar with. Ah… sweet comfort. He comes back out and sighs. “Okay…. Let’s get going.” 

 

Reaching out she grabbed Utakata’s hand, Tien’s still in her other, and led the two of them out of the store.

 

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Upon seeing Illidan’s darkened expression, Xander raised his hands in surrender. 

Alright, we won’t wash your hair,” Xander said slowly. “At least, I won’t.” He dropped his hands back to his side. “If you want to wash your own hair, we can always buy what you need and you can do it yourself. Although…” Xander tapped his chin thoughtfully as he looked at how far down Illidan’s hair went down his back. “We still only have one hour. I can’t imagine you’d be able to wash, dry, and style your hair within that time frame. At best, I could show you some ways to style it and you can do it yourself, but that’s up to you. It could use a thorough brush, but it does look quite pree—ahem—decent tied up.

 

Xander cleared his throat, using a fist to cover his mouth before glancing over at the nearby shops. All sorts of colorful shops lined up against the walkways. Xander could see several employees standing outside of the shops, all loudly proclaiming great deals and discounts as they tried to usher people into their respective storefronts. Xander was sure that even if they walked passed all the shops within view, they’d run into plenty more shops down the way. For a minute, Xander wondered where he’d have Sieghorse stay while he and Illidan shopped. There didn’t appear to be any stables nearby and, as he noticed before, his stallion was the only horse within sight. Well, Xander figured as he tightened his hold on Sieghorse’s bridle, he’d figure it out along the way.

 

By the way,” Xander said as he looked back over at Illidan. “There was something I wanted to talk to you about in regards to the Fel. I had meant to talk to you sooner about it, but I’ve been quite busy the last few days and, well.” Xander glanced away, licking his lips anxiously. “It hadn’t gotten this bad until this point. I hope you don’t mind discussing it as we shop.

 

"I don't mind discussing that at all," Illidan said, almost as if his anger had never even happened. "I can only imagine that you're still... uncomfortable about the Fel. And I honestly don't blame you. It's not a subject to be taken lightly..." He sighed. "But whatever it is, it will have to be dealt with eventually."

 

After a brief pause, he spoke again. "It'll also give me something to do besides wish to throttle some of these people. They're far too loud and it's getting irritating." It didn't take any fancy powers to guess that Illidan meant the shop employees trying to hawk whatever they were selling.

 

Then I’ll be sure to be loud enough to drown them out,” Xander said with a chuckle. He was a bit surprised to see just how quickly Illidan’s anger vanished after Xander changed the subject, but he made no mention of it. Xander gently tugged at Sieghorse’s bridle to get his attention. The stallion lifted his head and began to quietly follow Xander and Illidan as they walked down the street. From the corner of his eye, Xander could see several of the employees and wandering shoppers stop to gawk at the three. Xander wasn’t too surprised by that, especially considering how out of place any of them would look by themselves let alone together. When he saw one tourist in an orange hawaiian shirt raise her camera to take a picture, Xander cleared his throat and turned his head away from her. 

I wouldn’t say the Fel makes me uncomfortable per se, but ever since we got back from the marketplace, my body has been acting… strangely,” Xander said. He raised a hand towards his head and carded his fingers through his hair. “I’m accustomed to the occasional headache, but there’s been a consistent throbbing in my temples ever since we got back. Twice now, the pain has grown so much that I couldn’t focus anything until the throbbing subsided. Not to mention…” Xander’s hand drifted down to his forearm. “My arms feel like they’re constantly caked in mud and the skin underneath is unbearable itchy, but whenever I wash my arms, the feelings still there. It’s almost as though there’s something else underneath my skin that’s itching horribly.” Xander removed his hand from his forearm before opening and closing it slowly. Even now he felt as though there was an unnatural weight on his arms. He was hesitant to mention it, but the night prior he had scrubbed his arms for so long they began to bleed, and even then it felt as though his arms were still coated in something. 

 

Back then you told me that the Fel would cause my body to change in unpredictable ways,” Xander continued. He sighed, dropping his hand back to his side before looking over in Illidan’s direction. Xander had learned from a young age to embody the decorum of Nohrian royalty even during the harshest of times, but it was hard to wall off all his anxiety and fear in such an alien situation. Xander was sure that some of it must have shown upon his face. “I presume both of these issues have to deal with the Fel. Admittedly I am… uncertain precisely what to ask you. Do you know what any of this means or how long it’ll continue before the changes happen?"

 

Illidan's concern was very clear, from his facial expression to his tone of voice when he spoke. "I did say the Fel would change you, Xander. That 'headache' you're feeling is anything except for that - it's the feeling of the horns trying to grow in, and any minute now they're going to break through the skin. As for your arms feeling that way... it's rare, but it's possible that you may end up with demon scales - and before you ask, yes, demons with scaly skin exist. Not covering your whole body, mind you - just where it itches... which, I presume, would be your arms. I will be honest, though, I do not know how long it will be before the changes occur. For all we know, it could happen in the next few minutes, or it could happen long after we leave that party. There is never any way to tell for certain, as every single Demon Hunter I've ever taken under my wings - pardon the pun - has changed differently and in different time frames. ...allow me to ask you something, Xander. You didn't happen to have any inexplicable bouts of anger, did you? Or perhaps any situations that angered you in the past few days, did so more so than you thought they would?"

 

Xander clamped a hand over his mouth to suppress his chortle of amusement. Even if Illidan’s pun was unintended it was pretty funny and, well, Xander could use a laugh considering the conversation they were having. 

Well,” Xander said after a moment of regaining his composure. “At the very least, it’s good to know that this is what’s supposed to be happening even if it’s unpleasant to experience. I suppose that’s reassuring to an extent. As for the bouts of anger well…” Xander tapped his chin thoughtfully. The most angry he had been as of late was during the finance meeting a few days prior. He had been absolutely furious that a senior agent had allowed a new recruit to spend nearly all of their money on what was essentially a pretty rock. Even now, thinking about how Qak tried to excuse himself saying that the rock could potentially be an anchor, made Xander bit his lip in frustration. He blinked. Since when had he clenched his fist so tightly? A tangy, copper taste enveloped Xander’s mouth. Realizing he had bitten his lip hard enough to draw blood, Xander uttered a soft, “Oh!” before unclenching his fist and bringing it up to his lips.

 

Now that you mention it, I suppose I have been getting more frustrated lately than I usually do,” Xander said, frowning. “Is this going to be permanent? I believe my physical ailments will disappear when the, ah, changes begin, but am I always going to be this easy to anger? Perhaps I was mistaken, but I thought the tattoo I got might help with that.” Instinctively, Xander’s hand went to the shoulder where his tattoo was. 

 

"So the Fel is affecting your emotions," Illidan said, frowning. "As I mentioned before, the Fel amplifies negative emotions such as anger... and, unfortunately, I'm afraid this one is permanent. I won't mince words here, Xander: unless there's an active effort on your part, you're going to become very easy to anger - the Fel will make sure of that. As for the tattoo, that was not meant to suppress all of the changes. It's meant to suppress the Fel's volatile power - unless, of course, you decide to start using it to augment your own power, in which case the tattoo aids in channeling that power. I won't go into the details again, but the long and short of it is that the tattoo is ensuring you're not killed by your own Fel."

 

Xander remained quiet for a moment as he digested Illidan’s words. Months ago when Xander was new to the multiverse and all of the wonders and horrors it possessed, he would, on occasion, think about what would happen if something happened to him before he could return to Nohr. Generally, he was thinking along the lines of falling in battle or in an accident while looking for an anchor, but once or twice his thoughts had drifted to some strange, alien disease or technology latching onto him and changing him permanently. He hadn’t placed so much value in such thoughts that he knew what he’d do if he ever found himself in it. He’d be lying if he said the prospect of having to deal with the Fel for the rest of his life didn’t make him utterly terrified for the future, but, oddly enough, he felt relieved. 

 

If that is the case, then I must thank you, Illidan,” Xander said. He halted in the middle of the crowded street. Xander averted his eyes from his once trembling hand to meet Illidan’s gaze. “This situation is less than ideal. Frankly, I’m afraid of what’s to go, and yet I feel comforted by the fact that you’re sticking by my side and giving me so much helpful advice.” Xander, with a small, soft smile, clasped his hand on Illidan’s shoulder. “I shall do what I can deal with the Fel and I hope you can help me along the way.

 

Illidan couldn't help the smile that had gotten on his face. It wasn't one of those sickly-sweet smiles of his like when he was teasing one of the other agents - no, this smile was genuine. Being around Xander made Illidan happy, in a way that he hadn't felt for thousands of years. "I'm... glad I can help, Xander. Believe me when I say this: the Fel is something I would wish on no person, no matter how much they piss me off. Not a day goes by without me feeling guilty for this - it was caused by my blood, after all..." Illidan's gaze went to the ground below them, though it may have been difficult to tell - he didn't exactly have a line of sight to follow. "Let's get this 'shopping' thing over with before I go somber again." Or get all sappy, he added in his thoughts. Sure, he was in love with Xander, but that didn't mean he wanted to act like a lovesick dog.

 

That we should,” Xander replied. “After all, it is what we came for.” With a final friendly squeeze, Xander removed his hand from Illidan’s shoulder and looked around at their surroundings. They had been so deep in conversation that Xander had nearly forgotten they were wandering around a crowded shopping center. There appeared to be several clothing stores nearby. Turning towards the nearest store, Xander walked towards it and peered through the storefront window. Suits of different designs and colors were neatly adorned onto mannequins in an assortment of poses. Even though the street had all sorts of people mingling about in it, the inside of the store seemed oddly absent of customers. “Did you have anything to wear in mind?,” Xander asked, peering at Illidan from over his shoulder. “I’m sure color or design doesn’t matter too much to you, but surely you have a preference for textures or something of a similar sort.

 

"Honestly," Illidan began.  "I'm fine so long as it doesn't constrict my movements too much. If we have to fight - which I'm sure is a big if, but better safe than sorry - then I will need to move a lot. I also hope I don't end up looking tacky. I may stick out like a sore thumb, but I want to at least look decent."

 

Xander hummed in affirmation.

I can work with that,” Xander said. Common courtesy dictated that he didn’t try to bring Sieghorse into the store, but, after a cursory look around, there didn’t appear to be any stables where he could store Sieghorse for the time being. Xander pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. Fine, he’d just have to improvise. Tugging at Sieghorse’s rein, Xander lead him to a nearby bike rack. There wasn’t any bikes currently on it and the rake itself was directly underneath some shade so Sieghorse wouldn’t have to cope with the heat. As Xander tied Sieghorse’s reins to the rack, he looked around and frowned when he saw there was no water nearby. He had hoped there’d at least be one of those dog water bowls people sometimes left on the streets. “I’ll come back to get you something to drink before too long,” Xander whispered to Sieghorse. The stallion lifted his head and snorted at Xander as he gave the horse one last reassuring pat before walking back towards Illidan.

 

Shall we?” Xander asked, nodding towards the entrance. He pushed opened the front door, giving a soft sigh as he was rushed by the cool air from. From the back of the store, Xander saw a well-dressed employee’s head pop up. She opened her mouth, presumably to greet them, but her eyes drifted towards Xander and Illidan’s bizarre outfits and quickly closed her mouth and turned away from them.

Xander opted to not heed her presence and instead walked towards the overhanging sign that read “FORMAL WEAR” in large, bold font. As he grew closer, Xander could clearly see several clothing racks full of suits, dress pants, and ties hanged neatly together. Xander stopped in front of one of the racks aligned with an assortment of darkly colored dress pants. Looking between the pants on display, Xander carefully read the size of each pair before pulling out the ones he deemed appropriate. He doubted that the size labels in Illidan’s world was the same as Lara’s so he’d just have to try a few pairs out until he figured out approximately what sizes would fit him.

 

Xander pulled out several pairs, hanging the ones he had retrieved onto his arm. Curiously, he glanced over at where Illidan was and stared down at his legs intensely. Illidan was unusually tall compared to most normal humans and while Xander wouldn’t call him bloated by any means, he was generally bigger than humans in every meaning of the word. Even if the size difference was mostly in height, his legs had more mass than a normal human’s as well not to mention the fact that he had hooves instead of feet which likely scratched out the chances of getting him shoes. 

With a blink, Xander realized just had long he had been staring at Illidan’s legs for. Now that he actually thought about it, it was probably unprofessional of him to think about how muscular his co-worker’s thighs were for longer than… no actually, it was probably inappropriate to think about that at all. Despite the AC, the room suddenly felt unbearably warm. 

 

You should try these on,” Xander said in a somewhat strained voice as he handed the pants to Illidan. For once he was glad Illidan was blind because at least now he couldn’t see just had red Xander’s cheeks had grown. 

 

Xander must have been good at masking the tone of his voice, as well, because Illidan didn't pick up on anything that hinted towards attraction. Not that the Demon Hunter was worried; he was sure Xander would like him eventually. Just don't be a showoff like you were with Tyrande. Just be yourself - let it come naturally, he had to keep reminding himself. He had lost his chance with Tyrande; he didn't want to lose his chance with Xander, too. Of course, he would still "show off" if he had to keep Xander safe, and if it just so happened to impress the King of Nohr then, well, that was an added bonus.

 

After he was led to a fitting room (because, hello, even he knew not to try something on in the middle of the store!), Illidan tried on the dress pants Xander had handed to him and was... pleasantly surprised, to say the least. They had looked a lot tighter than they actually were, and Illidan stretched and moved his legs a few times to confirm that he still had freedom of movement (which was his biggest concern, after all).

He spoke to Xander through the door as he was getting his own pants back on. "You know, you've got quite the eye for detail. Finding dress pants that fit me on the first try must not have been easy..." Either he was subtlely hinting towards knowing that Xander had been staring, or was oblivious and trying to flatter him.

 

Oh, so the first pair fit fine?” Xander asked. “I’m, uh, glad to hear that.” He was leaning against the wall next to the dressing room. He glared down at his boots, swallowing against a lump in his throat as one of his hands tightened its grip on his cat. He still had several pairs of dress pants of varying sizes were hanging from his arm for Illidan to try on, but after hearing what Illidan had to say it seemed as though he didn’t need them at all. Xander forced himself to hold back a sigh. Gods, he really had stared for too long. 

 

I’ve had to attend numerous parties back in Nohr,” Xander said in hopes of changing the subject. He let go of his cape, deposited the pants in a nearby basket, and folded them neatly before laying them back down in a singular pile. “I can’t tell you how many different outfits I’ve had to wear over the years. The nobility truly enjoys their fashion.” Walking out of the dressing room, Xander made his way to where the bow ties were. There was a variety of bow ties organized on top of a long wooden table. Xander personally didn’t care for clip-on ties and since it wasn’t really possible to clip a bow tie onto Illidan since he lacked a shirt, he overlooked the clip-ons and turned towards the normal ties. 

 

Excuse me,” Xander called to a nearby employee. She jumped as though startled, and glanced over at Xander. “Would you happen to have any measuring tape?” Xander assumed that no one in the store would be comfortable helping two very strange looking and, if he was being perfectly honest, he wasn’t sure Illidan would let a stranger rub their hands all over him. Sure enough, the employee’s eyes darted from between Xander and the half-demon emerging from the changing room before walking out to snatch some measuring tape from behind a shopping counter. Xander thanked her and she gave him the briefest of smiles before walking off as Illidan began to approach.

 

I’m uncertain how you want to do this,” Xander said, facing Illidan when he got close enough. “I need to get a measurement of your neck, but I don’t want to risk accidentally touching your hair. You could hold it up a bit more so I don’t touch it or you could do it yourself and I’ll try to read it. Which do you prefer?

 

Illidan was impressed; Xander had learned very quickly about Illidan's dislike of his hair being touched. He briefly contemplated the situation and then held his hair up. That was more than enough of an indication right there. As Xander got the measurements, Illidan at least tried to keep up the conversation. "...right, you're a king back home, aren't you? You're not wrong - whether it's your home or mine, the nobility loves their fashion. I should know - an entire race of elves on Azeroth is known for their vanity and their prince was once one of my allies. Oh, Kael'thas - his temper on his hair being touched was legendary. If so much as a single strand was out of place, he'd either scream bloody murder or try to incinerate you. Or both. Goddess, I miss him - a shame he became a Legion sellout."

 

And here I thought my father’s tantrums were exceptionally bad,” Xander mused. “I couldn’t imagine killing a subordinate or ally for simply touching my hair. That seems rather extreme on his part.” A pause and then, “Although I suppose two of my siblings have been known to sentence others to death on the spot, but that was during the war and it was usually punishment for treason.” With one hand pressing down on the measuring tape, Xander craned his neck to the side so he could properly read the number. Satisfied, Xander unwound the tape around Illidan’s neck and placed it on the nearby table. 

 

With the measurement in his head, Xander strolled to the table where the bowties were and began browsing through them. Although his eyes were on the bowties, Xander inclined his head towards Illidan to let him know he hadn’t abandoned the conversation. “To answer your previous question, yes I’m a king back in my homeworld. I’ve been in that position for six years ever since the war ended.” Xander picked up a black bowtie and rubbed it between his fingers. It was hard to feel exactly how comfortable it was with gloves on, but from what Xander could feel it didn’t seem as though the bowtie would rub too much against Illidan’s skin. 

With the ribbon in hand, Xander walked back towards Illidan and pulled the ribbon around his neck. He took a moment to adjust the length of it on each side of Illidan’s neck before beginning to tie it. 

 

I unfortunately don’t have many current stories about my home,” Xander continued. “I haven’t been there since I joined XDRS and, well, finding my home amongst all the other copies of it within the multiverse is easier said than done. But enough about that, I’m curious as to how you met Kael’thas. You say he was a Legion sellout but what was he doing before that?

 

"As I mentioned before, he was royalty - specifically, the prince of the Blood Elf kingdom, Quel'thalas," Illidan said while Xander continued to work on his bowtie. When I'd met him, his people were desperate, clinging onto whatever little remained of their way of life after it had recently been decimated by an undead army." Damn Arthas - even when worlds apart, Illidan's blood boiled just thinking about him. "Back then, the Blood Elves were dependent on magic for nearly everything except for sustenance. Magic is an addicting thing on Azeroth, but the Blood Elves were something else - if they caved to their addiction, they became creatures known as Wretched.. more beast than elf, I noticed, since the first priority of the Wretched is to get their hands on any sources of magic they can: crystals, arcane golems... even other people."

 

"You could probably imagine that they were desperate for a sustainable source of magic, especially since their source - the Sunwell - was destroyed by the undead. So I shared what I knew with them. I introduced them to the Fel through the use of Burning Crystals - crystals that hold Fel energy in such a way to where it would take extreme amounts of it in order to even remotely imitate the transforming effects of Felblood. Kael'thas was in my debt at that point, and we were close allies for a long while."

 

"Of course he was one of the leaders of the Illidari, alongside myself and a naga named Vashj. We staged our attacks on the Legion from a place known as the Outland - the Black Temple, to be more precise - which I had conquered from the Legion only a few years beforehand. Under my command, he successfully commandeered a dimensional fortress known as Tempest Keep, but what I hadn't known back then was that he had betrayed me for the commander of the Legion forces at the time: Kil'jaeden. Kael'thas was as brilliant and ambitious as he was handsome... but that ambition, I'd noticed, made him especially power-hungry, even for a Blood Elf. It was all Kil'jaeden needed. After that, I do not know what became of him - for all I know, he could be dead. Maybe someday, I will learn what happened to him after he practically sold his soul to the Legion."

 

Xander couldn’t look up while we was still weaving the ribbon through his fingers, but he was sure his astonishment was bare upon his face. Ever since Illidan had arrived, Xander staked him as someone who preferred to keep to himself and only mingle with others if absolutely necessary. Xander didn’t condone nor condemn such behavior of course. Illidan had spoken about his role as the commander of the Illidari before, but the more he talked about how he helped the elves of his world and gained the loyalty of Kael’thas, the more Xander began to realize he didn’t know just how significant Illidan was in his world. It was almost inspiring; Illidan was inept in social interactions, to some extent at least, and yet he was able to become a noteworthy figure through his actions. 

 

I feel like I need to apologize,” Xander said. With a final tug, he tightened the bowtie around Illidan’s neck. He pinched the sides of the bowtie and began to straighten it. “Not about your story or anything, but—” Xander closed his mouth, his fingers stilled. He shook his head and resumed the task at hand. “No, I guess it is because of what you said. It seems as though my current impression of you was wrong. It feels as though the more I learn about you the more I think...ah!” With a grin, Xander took a step back to appreciate his handiwork. 

There we go! It should be completely straight now. How does it feel? If we’re going to be at this party for a while we wouldn’t want the material to chafe your skin.

 

"The bowtie feels fine, thanks..." Illidan cleared his throat. "...and I understand. I get the whole 'my first impression of you was wrong' thing a lot. It tends to happen when you're half-demon and tend to suck at being social even without the Fel's influence." Ten thousand years of languishing in a prison will do that to anyone, I guess, he added in his thoughts.

 

Would you be surprised if I said I was more perturbed by the idea that you barged into the base and collapsed onto the nearest bed more than your appearance?” Xander asked. Gods, it hadn’t been that long since that happened, had it? It felt like they first met ages ago. Then again, it did feel like Xander had joined XDRS years prior when in reality the organization hadn’t even started operation that long ago.

 

 “I’ve been around long enough to see things far stranger than you.” Xander gave a half-hearted shrug. “Besides, while I wouldn’t call you the most…” Xander paused for a moment to find an inoffensive word. "...extroverted individual among our organization, but you’re doing well enough. I for one find you to be a delight to talk to.” 

 

Now that Illidan’s outfit was settled, Xander couldn’t help but wonder if he needed to change as well. He glanced down at his armor with a frown. “I don’t suppose this is a world that appreciates attending festivities with full body armor. I’d prefer to not spend Lara’s money on more than we need to, especially since this armor will be the best option if something does happen, but—well...” Xander crossed his arms, brows narrowed in thought as he began tapping his chin.

 

"...no, I suppose it doesn't appreciate armor here, especially not at parties, but nobody said you had to wear the entire set of armor."

Illidan offered "Maybe get something nice that goes with it, cover a few important points on your body... I guess that could work? That way you won't be completely defenseless if something happens, right?"

 

Xander tilted his head curiously. 

Now that’s an idea I hadn’t considered,” Xander said with an emphasizing snap of his fingers. “Although even if I don’t wear any armor I will be arriving with two swords.” Xander patted Siegfried’s sheath. It was a wonder none of the employees had tried confronting him when he entered the sword, but then again, it could be possible that they didn’t perceive a threat from him when there was a half-demon standing next to him. 

 

Then again,” Xander continued as he walked over towards a nearby full-body mirror. He glanced himself over, looking for pieces of armor that could be safely discarded. “All my armor serves a purpose and if I take some off I’m going to be at a disadvantage on some level.” Not to mention, Lara had said nothing about removing Sieghorse’s armor, let alone banning him from the party. There wasn’t even a certainty that anything was going to go wrong and cause a fight to break out. They could all just be attending a normal party full of nobles, or whatever the high class was called in Lara’s world, and absolutely nothing bad could happen. Then again, with their luck it was more probable that another dragon would show up and try to kidnap someone than for everything to go normal for once. Idly, Xander flicked one of his pauldrons and hummed to himself. If he did go without armor, he could at least lose the shoulder pads. They were rather noticeable. 

 

Illidan let out a dry chuckle. "It was just a suggestion, Xander. I wouldn't want you to overthink the situation. It is just a party... but considering our luck, something is going to crash it. Look, just... forget I ever brought it up." Goddess, he was so bad at this socializing thing…

 

Illidan’s self-deprecating comment was enough to drag Xander out of his own thoughts.

Now, now, none of that,” Xander said as he spun around and marched towards Illidan. He stopped right in front of Illidan and, without any warning, clamped both of his hands on Illidan’s shoulders. Usually Xander would take Illidan’s chuckle as a sign of him telling a joke, but his expression was anything but amused. 

 

 “Listen here, you already said it so there’s no point in taking it back,” Xander said firmly. He had to tilt his head up to make direct eye contact with Illidan. “Be firm with what you say. If you have something to say do not hesitate; just say it.” Xander released Illidan and took a step back. He absentmindedly carded his fingers through his bangs. Xander had already decided that if Illidan wasn’t one for social interaction then Xander wouldn’t force it upon him, yet seeing him so obviously struggle with it when he was fine moments prior bothered Xander. He had seemed so comfortable just a second ago; what happened? Well, Xander could guess. He was well-acquainted with social anxiety, so much so that he still had to use the same coping mechanisms he had learned since he was little. Part of him wanted to share them with Illidan so he could hopefully overcome his own problems, but Xander’s coping methods were, to say at the very least, embarrassing. He’d prefer to not make himself a laughing stock and yet… Xander lowered his hand, took in a breath, and made his decision. 

 

You know, I suffered from some severe anxiety when I was younger,” Xander said casually. “A child of the king, let alone the crown prince, couldn’t attend court if he was too scared to look anyone in the eye.” Xander glanced back up at Illidan. “I had to learn ways to cope with it. I could share them with you, but they are rather unorthodox and a tad… silly.

 

Illidan grit his teeth. "...it's not just anxiety, Xander," He began slowly. "Yes, anxiety is a massive part of this, and I'm sure you-know-what isn't making that any better." It didn't take much to guess that Illidan meant his crush on the king - the same crush that he'd accidentally confessed to in the bazaar. "Pair that with the fact that I messed up a lot on Azeroth and the fact that I'm just plain bad at socializing, and you've got an entire wreck of a half-demon right here. It's hard for me to say anything when I know that I only have one shot at this, and I don't want to louse it up."

 

"...you're not the first crush I've had, Xander. I had one from my early life - a lovely woman named Tyrande. When I could still see, she was a sight to behold. I loved every inch of her... but I loused up my chances of getting her to love me in return; I'd done literally everything to impress her... but she ultimately chose my brother instead. It... it hurt for a while, and I only recently realized that if she was happier with my brother than with me, then I needed to just let it be." Illidan sighed, catching his breath. "I never imagined I'd get another crush again, especially not so soon... I don't want to mess it up again. Not like I did with Tyrande."

 

“Oh.” There wasn’t any words to express just how unexpected Illidan’s response was. Admittedly, Xander hadn’t thought about Illidan’s confession in the marketplace since they returned from the mission. The only time he had truly addressed it was when they were in the jail together. Illidan had spouted some nonsense about being in love, and Xander had refuted it claiming that whatever he was feeling it couldn’t be love because they barely knew each other; yet here they were again in the same situation. It had been different before. It was just a fleeting comment and they had gotten back onto the mission with relative ease, but now Xander could see the raw emotion on Illidan’s voice. He could hear the tremor in Illidan’s voice as he described Tyrande, and gods he looked so heartbroken it made Xander’s chest feel tight. 

 

There was no way Illidan felt the same way towards Xander as he did his old flame. A crush? Maybe, but this? No.There was a million reasons for why he couldn’t feel that way, a million reasons why Xander couldn’t accept that he felt that way. It was too sudden. It was too much—way too much.

 

I’m sorry I can’t—” Xander diverted his gaze. He clasped his clammy hands together, desperate to have them touching something. “That’s—” Xander exhaled. He closed his eyes, took in a breath, and opened them again. “That’s a lot to drop on someone you barely know. I have no doubts that your inability to interact routinely with others is due to a myriad of problems in your past but this?” Xander shook his head. “I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know what you want me to say.” It was a bit funny, Xander thought almost hysterically, that he just been trying to help Illidan to get over his anxiety and now Xander couldn’t even look him in the eyes. “If you don’t want to ‘mess up your chances’ with someone then you really shouldn’t be comparing them to someone you once loved. That’s just...I don’t even know how I feel about, Illidan, and I think it’s going to take me awhile to figure that out.” 

 

Xander took in one last, deep breath. He lifted his hand and began massaging his temples with his fingers. 

We are on a mission,” Xander said, tone flat. He forced himself to look up at Illidan. “That comes first. This—” Xander gestured between the two of them. “—is something we can discuss later. I need some time to clear my thoughts before I’m ready to discuss this further or… at all.

 

Whatever words Illidan had died in his throat. Had he already messed up? Had he already shoved Xander away just as he'd done Tyrande? He tried desperately to find something to say, but nothing would come out. I messed it up again. I had one chance and I messed it up again! It was dawning on him just how horrible he was at communicating. I'm worse than I thought.

 

He could feel himself breaking down, but he didn't want to make things even more awkward. He ended up just standing there, trembling, trying - and failing - to keep from sobbing. He'd had one chance with Xander, and now he was afraid he had ruined it.

 

Once he had finished speaking, Xander spun away from Illidan and forced himself to look forward. There was only so much he could of Illidan standing there watching him silently before his heart felt so full he couldn't take it anymore.

 

"Put your clothes on the counter and head outside," Xander called over his shoulder as he forced himself to walk away. "I'll pay for everything and then we can leave.  From there, Xander went on autopilot. He had snatched a few suits from the rack to try, and he kept the first one that fit properly with little consideration on how well it really fit him. For once Xander was actually glad that it seemed as though there was only one other person in the store and it was the confused employee who had kept her distance the entire time. When she warily asked Xander if he found everything he was looking for, her mumbled a gruff affirmative, before handing her Lara's card and waiting for her to finish up the transaction. Illidan was outside by the time Xander finished up. His mien was the epitome of severity, what with his lips pressed into a hard line, his eyebrows knit, and his arms crossed against his chest. Xander looked at Illidan for only a moment before shaking his head to himself. There was so much that he wanted to say, but he didn't even know where to start.

 

This is for the better. I need to mull my emotions over and then we can talk about it after the mission, Xander assured himself. Xander walked towards where he had left SIeghorse and began unwounding his reins. The stallion nudged his muzzle against Xander's shoulder, no doubt sensing his owner's distress. Xander gently patted Sieghorse's neck, but made no effort to accept his steed's comfort. With one final look in Illidan's direction, Xander began to walk back towards the meet-up point. Gods, what a mess.

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Shopping and Matchmaking

 

Utakata sighs as he’s being led to yet another store. Lovely. I haven’t been dragged around this much since I was a little kid, he thinks rather bitterly to himself, I just wish she could get off my ass so I can find something I like. Really feels like she’s picking things according to her taste here. Or to get us all to blend in. And if Illidan is allowed to stick out like the purple sore thumb he is, god dammit why can’t I wear a kimono? I understand this one may be a little worn, but a nice elegant one? He looks around at the next store they’re in. This doesn’t look the least bit promising.

 

He walks up to one of the jackets and reaches to touch the sleeve. In response to the odd texture Utakata furrows his brow. He shakes his head, not liking it one bit. It’s not…. Smooth enough. No. He doesn’t think he could wear one of these cursed things. The dress shirt Sol had him try on in the last store was tolerable, but it’s too much between the culture shock and likewise. 

 

There’s a light tug on his arm, and Utakata glances over to see Tien rubbing the loose sleeve of his kimono in one hand. It’s almost the same motion he makes with his rocks. 

 

He raises his eyebrow, concerned. Tien glances up to meet his gaze and flushes, releasing the sleeve. “Sorry,” he says. “I wasn’t--wasn’t sure what your clothes are normally. It’s...slippery.”

 

Oh no, it’s alright. I, er… prefer soft or smooth clothes, I guess.” He finally admits the truth to someone outside of his immediate family. “None of these suits feel right.” 

 

Tien nods understandingly. “I can’t wear anything that scratches or has an irritating texture. A lot of formal clothes were right out, it made things frustrating when…” he trails off, shakes his head a little, and picks back up with, “at any rate, I could mostly be excused because I’m darkeyed.” He half-smiles, an expression with an odd tinge of bitterness at the edges.

 

Utakata blinks, unsure what any of this means. “Dark eyed? I’m not sure that’s something we worry about where I’m from. Do you want to explain?” From his bitterness, it’s… not a good thing. I wonder…. But if he decides he wants to say it, I should leave the option open.

 

Tien’s mouth twists in what looks like an attempt at a smile, but only ends up as a grimace. “Maybe later.”

 

Sol turned to look at the two boys. She had just grabbed a nice crop top and shorts for herself to wear when she didn’t feel like wearing a dress. This store wasn’t exclusively formal, unlike the previous one.

 

She frowned at the obvious glum expression on Utakata’s face. He had yet to accept any of her suggestions, in her opinion almost all of the clothes had looked excellent on him.

She sighed.

 

“Look, instead of just moping there, why don’t you work with me. I’m going to get you something nice to wear, so how about working with me?” Sol offered.

 

He nods, just wanting this whole thing to be over. “Yeah, just… I have one request. Can we just... stick to my culture? This is a lot to take in and I just need something to keep me grounded. The suits may have looked nice, but...” It just doesn’t feel like me. And with that he lets out the rest of the air in his lungs. There. He said it. Most of it. Somehow being open about things is a freeing thing. Will he do it more often?

 

Nope. 

 

Instead he looks over at Tien, who is fidgeting with a rock again. I wonder if I should get something like that…. it’s not like I can just blow bubbles in public all willy-nilly… would not work out well at all. Instead, he just looks around at all the suits that could’ve looked nice had he been from here. One step at a time. One step at a time.

 

“Yes I’ve been trying to find something similar to what you’re wearing but more formal. I’m experiencing a bit of culture shock myself, but fortunately the clothes don’t seem to be too different from what I usually wear. However, if we do get you another kimono then you must swear to wear it properly at the party... none of this open chest look. And also you should cover up while we’re outside, your skin is so pale, if you don’t cover you’ll be red and blistered in a heartbeat,” Sol finished. Accompanying her statement with re-adjusting his clothes once more to cover up the open chest.

 

Utakata puts his hands up in surrender. “Alright alright, I give. That’s something I can do.” Nothing I haven’t done before. That part is just a matter of preference. I can wear it how I like when I’m not at this party. He looks down at his kimono, the one he hadn’t replaced in six years. Damn… this old thing’s stuck with me for that long… the texture just isn’t the same as how it was when Mom made it. Hopefully if we find a nice one it’ll be in much better shape than this thing. “Yeah,” he reaffirms, “I’ll work with that.”

 

“Also,” Sol continued. “If we can’t find anything of your culture that would be more presentable than what you have now, i’m going to put you in a suit. So trying and note down which ones you prefer”.

Sol led the two of them to the counter and bought the casual clothes she had chosen for herself with the card that Lara had provided. Fortunately the clothes weren’t too expensive.

 

“We’ll also definitely be fixing up that hair too,” She said over her shoulder.

She then turned to address the girl at the checkout.

“Excuse me, but would you know any stores that have similar apparel to what... my son is wearing right now?” She asked. Leaning in she added “He’s a bit of a recluse, doesn’t go out much and wears the same thing all the time”

 

“! H-hey—” 

 

As Uta began to talk the girl chuckled. She was quite cute, Sol thought. She had short cut chestnut hair and bright blue eyes.

 

“Well I think those clothes look really good. I love Japan, I’ve been there a few times,” She stated, looking Uta up and down. “I love the traditional style clothing, something I’ve loved to explore as a kid.” 

“I think the store just past the food court has them. Though they only do them custom so they’re a bit expensive. You have to get your measurements taken and they make it,” She finished, pointing down the mall. “Though that takes a long time. If they need to they can adjust a pre-made one if you’re in a rush.” 

Sol glanced at Uta who wasn’t saying anything, she gave him a hard thud on the back.

“Say thank you, looks like I won’t have to force you into a suit for tonight,” She said.

 

She almost knocked the wind out of him. Utakata gives her a dirty look, but flashes the clerk a smile. “I appreciate the help. And don’t mind my…. mother…. she means well but gets a little pushy,” he adds while teasingly shielding his mouth from Sol’s view. 

 

Sol gave Uta a coy smile. “Well if you had brought more when we came here I wouldn’t be so pushy,” she retorted. She didn’t know how much longer he’d been at the gateway than herself, but she assumed he had more clothes.

 

The girl leaned forward and addressed them. “Oh are you tourists? I get off in a couple hours, I could show you around if you like?” She offered. Sol now noted a definite blush on the girl’s cheeks. She herself could feel the fire inside her resonating slightly at the obvious affection the girl had.

 

While he picks up on it, Utakata doesn’t want to get all flustered that someone is actually attracted to him. But he glances to the side anyway. “Ah, I mean we’re going to a friend’s birthday… but I’ve been told plus-ones are okay to bring along…” SMOOTH, moron. Smooth. Perhaps part of him thought she was attractive, from the way her hair frames her face and the way she shows enthusiasm when she talks. She reminds him in demeanor of… Don’t even think it, he chides himself. Instead, he focuses on the freckles dusted across the young woman’s nose.

 

Sol actually raised her eyebrows in mild amusement and surprise at Uta’s response. A little obvious there, she thought. The girls blush was now far more evident as well. Sol felt it best to step in.

 

“But unfortunately it is a rather close knit group, probably not the best thing to bring someone you’ve just met. How about you give us your number, and you can show my son around once the party is over?”

 

He puts two fingers to his temple. Somehow, some way, it’s like she’s the hot headed version of my mother. “Maybe that’s better. I think they said we’ve got a few more days here after the fact.”

 

A wide grin spread across the girl’s face. And she hastily scribbled a number down onto the back of the receipt she’d just printed. “Okay... call me later. If the party’s no fun, I can show you around instead,” She offered, accompanied by a wink. 

 

Sol took the receipt between her fingers and waved it slightly in front of Uta’s face.

“I’m sure he’s looking forward to it. Now come on son. Sol led Uta and Tien out of the store waving kindly to the girl.

 

When they were out of site she leaned in towards Uta, “Well, well casanova, a date on your first day here... Though I’m concerned. Do you even know what a phone is?” Sol asked.

 

“Uh…” his voice trails off. “...How mad will you be, on a scale of one to ten, if I said no?”

 

“Well I wouldn’t be mad, but it would be kinda difficult for you to call her without a phone. I guess you could use a payphone,” She suggested.

 

A what….? Utakata thinks to himself. But he figures  that likely she’ll show him what she means. ...Still, it bugs him that she acted like he was her child… the fact that she spoke for him several times…. Just like mom, he thinks.

 

As they walked in the direction towards the food court, she glanced back at Tien.

“So, we now know what Utakata will be wearing, do you have any thoughts on what you’d like to wear to the party?”

 

“H-huh?” Tien blinked.

 

“The party,” Fractal provided, hopefully quietly enough that the other two wouldn’t overhear her. “She is asking what you’d like to wear.” 

 

“Oh, uh--” Tien cocked his head to the side. “I was just going to go in my uniform, actually…is that a problem?” He really, really hopes not. Utakata’s been having enough trouble as it is, and the sheer amount of people and noise on top of all the new things to look at is draining Tien’s energy fast. He doesn’t think he can take much more of this if he wants to be in any shape for the party later.

 

Utakata looks over at Tien and gives him a half smile. He can tell Tien is not feeling up to this, and he gives an understanding nod. He knows that he can’t really do much more shopping either, that he just wants to get the damn kimono and go. “That’s a good idea. It’s a nice uniform as is. No need to spend any more money than we have to.” And frankly, my energy’s going too quickly. I think Lara said something about having a place to stay while we’re here…. I wonder if I can just crash in my room...

 

Sol nodded in agreement with Utakata.

“It certainly suits you, and I think a uniform is akin to formal attire. I’m already concerned that we’re spending a bit too much. Bathe before we go to the party and give it to me, I’ll get it nice and clean for you,” Sol said, giving the shy boy a somewhat uncharacteristic thumbs up.

 

Tien offered a small smile in return. “Thank you.”

 

“Ahh, that must be the place,” She said, indicating towards a far more oriental looking shop.

“I think with your pale complexion, you’re going to want something rather striking. Red would be a good choice. Or perhaps a bright green?” Sol suggested, as she began browsing the various materials hanging throughout the shop.

 

Utakata pokes his head throughout the pre-made ones, looking for something that could be adjusted within an hour or so. Hmm, he thinks to himself, these have very nice material, far better than I could ever hope to find at home… wow. What kind of silk...

 

Tien glanced around the store, making an absent grasping motion with one hand as he remembered the feeling of Utakata’s kimono. He’d said it was old, so something with a similar feel but new would be...more slippery? Maybe not as soft, he wasn’t sure. Tien wouldn’t have wanted it to be his only layer--maybe the lining of a jacket--but to each their own. He wandered off to a section that looked somewhat close to what the others were looking at and shuffled through some of them, pausing every so often to examine the patterns more closely and run a hand over the fabric.

 

Oh, there was a nice one. A vibrant red, with bright gold woven through in the form is delicate leaves. Too fancy for Tien’s normal tastes, but very pretty, and probably appropriate for the party. He picked up a sleeve and rubbed the fabric against his palms. Yes, it matched the general feel of Utakata’s kimono.

 

Smiling, Tien took it from the rack and threaded through the store, making his way back to Utakata.

 

He raises his eyebrow about a quarter of an inch when Tien approaches, but smiles when he sees just how excited the young man looks. He seems excited that he found something. Utakata looks at the red cloth in Tien’s arms, noting the gold pattern woven into the fabric. He gestures for Tien to hold it up in front of himself. Upon looking, his eyes widen. That’s… Wow. I’ve never seen something like this at home. 

 

Sol explained their purpose to the clerk at the checkout, who nodded and stepped out from behind; a measuring tape held in her hands.

The two walked over to Utakata and Tien, who were holding a stunning red and gold kimono in their hands.

 

“Oh, that looks nice,” Sol commented. “Take that one off and hold out your arms so she can take your measurements. Do you think this is one you’d like to wear?” She inquired.

 

It’s…. Really nice, I have to admit.Uh…. wait I have to ditch…. Okay. Utakata pulls an arm out of each sleeve and allows the top of the kimono to fall. And, as instructed, he holds his arm up to allow the employee to measure his waist, shoulders, and height. He’s suddenly self-conscious of his thin frame being shown to several people. Agh. It’s bad enough my mother would say I dropped weight… But he sighs and allows the lady to do her work. 

The lady worked swift, years of experience guiding her fingertips. As she measured Uta’s limbs, Sol took the kimono and held it out in front of her. It had a very nice design, and the material was nice and smooth; there was no reason for Utakata to complain about it.

 

“Well I guess we’re going with this. While they’re making it, we can take you to the salon and get that hair washed,” Sol said, folding the kimono and laying it on the counter.

 

Utakata sighs. Perhaps he needs to get something to wash his hair with, that soap he’d been using wouldn’t be a good idea to put in his hair. “....Alright. But we’re not chopping it.” 

 

Sol gave his hair a small flick, “We’re at least cleaning up the edges a bit, and they can brush it behind your ear. It’s so disrespectful to be covering an eye in public,” Sol snapped.

 

Wha---” He rolls his eyes. Excuse me lady, I happen to prefer my hair like this. 

 

“You’re thinking that you prefer your hair like that. Well too bad, going to a formal party means stepping out of your comfort zone a little, you have to make some sacrifices,” Sol said, crossing her arms as if to end the discussion. 

 

Utakata restrains himself from snapping back. This woman is dancing, rather happily, on my last nerve, he thinks to himself. Seriously, it’s hair. It’s not a goddamn hat

 

The burst of pride Tien had felt earlier at picking out something nice faded rapidly as Sol and Utakata got into another argument. Well, “argument” was a generous description. He frowned slightly, tugging at a chunk of his own hair. ‘Step out of your comfort zone…’ Tien really hoped she wouldn’t turn her determination on him. 

 

With that, Utakata sighs, represses one last eye roll, and turns to Tien, a small smile returning. “Oh, um… Thanks, Tien-kun. I appreciate that you found this kimono.” He carefully slips back into the top of the kimono he’s wearing and tightens the belt. “Seriously, you chose a really nice one.” 

 

Tien blinked at his name. He didn’t know what the additional syllable after meant, but it sounded affectionate. He grinned, making a small sound of affirmation. “I’m glad you like it.”

 

“He certainly did. Now let’s get out of here while they start making it. I need to buy a dress for myself to wear as well; so we can pick that up too” the trio left the shop to their work and made their way back down the mall towards the salon Sol had noted before.

 

Sol dumped Tien and Uta off, organising a wash and a light trim of Uta’s hair.

“Would you like to get your hair done up as well Tien?” Sol asked.

 

Tien tugged at his hair again. “Uh...no, I think I...I think I’m fine.” 

Sol glanced at his hair. It was somewhat wild and looked like it had been a few days since its last wash, but would probably take a lot to tame. Maybe she can try to take care of it before they head out.

“Very well then, just stay here while I go and get my dress” She said.

 

Sol left the two and headed back up to the first shop they visited; where Uta had tried nearly all the suits she’d selected on and protested all of them. She returned to the particular dress that caught her notice and brought it up to the checkout. In truth she had been hoping to purchase one additional outfit, but her guilt at how much they had spent outweighed her longing for new clothes. She returned swiftly back to the salon, praying that Utakata had managed to keep his head.

 

Upon returning she was relieved to see zero damage had been done to the store or staff, and he was begrudgingly lying with his head in the sink as they washed his hair.

 

As soon as he’s finished at the salon, Sol hurries them along to pick up the kimono--picking up Tien along the way as well, who seems to have found something new to fidget with--and upon Lara’s call, they head up to the front to meet her.

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Lara feels like a damn goddess. Something about how the dress highlights her best features, how Chikako did the most amazing job not only convincing her that the braid was unnecessary, but made her hair soft, shiny, and free of dead ends. Thankfully she had convinced the girls that minimal makeup would suffice, especially considering she’ll probably wipe it off halfway through the party due to sweat. Looking ahead towards the beach, Lara takes a second to scope out the guests. She sees a few of her colleagues from her major in school, the few that actually got along well with her. There are other college friends, she even sees an old professor somewhere in there. None of her father’s family, she thanks the heavens nobody even bothered to try and invite them. And closest to the group is, she smiles in relief, Winston. 

 

Winston gives them a polite wave as they approach. “Welcome.I was looking forward to seeing you all.” He gives Lara a warm smile. “And welcome, Lady Croft. I hope your birthday is going well.”

 

Lara embraces Winston briefly. “Thank you, Winston. Everything is going alright thus far.” She lowers her voice, the feeling of dread once again settling in her bosom. “And I hope it stays that way.” With that she lets go and looks Winston in the eye.

 

“Hence my letter,” Winston remarks, shaking his head. “I am glad you showed up with friends. If anything else, at the very least enjoy the party. It seems as though the guests are enjoying themselves.” Lara furrows her brow when she notices Winston does not say “we”. 

 

And yourself?” 

 

“I’m quite well, Lady Croft. I am very much enjoying myself.” He smiles. “Well, I hope you all enjoy the party.” He says as he steps to the side. 

 

Lara turns to face the group, slightly worried that she hasn’t heard a word from Stan since the shopping trip. Is he alright? Did he get mugged? Is he off gallivanting somewhere else on the island? ...Did he up and bounce? She sighs, not wishing to worry herself sick. Instead, she smiles at the rest of the group. “Right then. Feel free to mingle, gather information. Be prepared for anything, but try to enjoy yourselves. And please, for the love of god, do not get extremely drunk. Lord knows the kinds of trouble that would come about that.” She rubs her temple. “Anyway, off we all go.” Lara concludes as she walks forward. Winston goes back to his chair and takes a sip of water. 

 

Lara hopes, with every fiber of her being, that nothing goes wrong today.

Edited by Mikasa361

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ウタカタ - Hierophant

X -  Flee ▢ - Drink

△ - Chat o - ??????

 

He does feel pretty good about the new kimono. It looks great, it's nice and smooth, and not particularly heavy. If he dares to admit it to himself, he has to admit that he likes this one better than the one he usually walks around in. In fact, he thinks this is the best he's felt in a long time. 

 

...That doesn't last very long. 

 

He takes note of a tall blonde woman who appears to have taken a fancy to him. Oh no. That's never good. Utakata sighs and tries to see if he can hide his face. Maybe if he can find a place to hide-- why did he think a red kimono was a good idea? He sticks out like he would had he gone into Version 2. 

 

Well done, Utakata. She's very lovely, you should talk to her. 

 

I will. Make sure. You never. Get pork belly. Again.

 

What's a good sixty more years? 

 

You think your next host can cook like me?

 

I've learned how you cook. I can teach.

 

Yes, but would they be more willing than I am to talk to a giant slug in their head?

 

...

 

That's what I thought. With that, he tries to pretend he didn't notice the woman. But damn, if he could turn invisible, he absolutely would. He feels a tapping on his shoulder, and he holds back every urge in him to spew foul words. He turns around and takes a good look at her. She's slim, pale, a smile crossing her scarlet lips and a sparkle in her bright green eyes. ...Average, he thinks to himself. Not my type at all. Not that I like a chase, but... And yet she misinterprets his glance-over as checking her out, because she gets a little bit closer. If someone wasn't standing behind him talking and drinking, he'd back away quickly. Agh, figures. 

 

Oh come on. She's quite fetching. 

 

The hell are you talking about? YOU want to talk to her? I'll GLADLY introduce you. 

 

Sure thing, hehehe...

 

You're a hopeless thing. Still, he does think about it for a second. Maybe if he released and held a mini version of Saiken, she would be repulsed and run away. But he promised that he wouldn't make a huge spectacle with Saiken. Maybe not to Lara herself, but he certainly would have to answer to her had he been up to those kinds of tricks... The woman gives him a small wave as she steps just a little too close into his metaphorical bubble. 

 

"Well hello there, I don't think I've seen you around before." Utakata picks up that she has the same funny accent that Lara does. He glances at Lara, who's not too far away. But she's focused on a young woman, of a darker skin tone, her hair in many tiny braids. They seem to be having a great time catching up, and from the hugging and excited squeals, they seem to be best friends. Good for them, he supposes. They seem to be having a better time than he is currently. Unable to hide his discomfort, Utakata decides to respond. 

 

"Uhm.... Hi." Smooth move, grace. You're so very charming. 

 

And perhaps that could be true in different circumstances. But with the many people in the area, this woman being a little to into him, and just overall culture shock, he has no idea how to act. She starts asking him questions, and all he can do is give half-assed answers. He VERY much hates this sort of small talk, and the fact that she's getting closer and closer is very awkward. 

 

"And maybe, I was thinking, we could slip out and get some drinks? Just us." Utakata feels his heart leap into his throat. But he takes a deep breath and takes a step back when he notices the person behind him left. Thank slug. He shakes his head. 

 

"I'm quite alright, thanks. Listen, it was a pleasure meeting you, but I gotta..." He glances at Lara. Hm... "Wish Lara a happy birthday! It's been ages since we've talked." That couldn't be further from the truth. Without a further word, he hurries to Lara and the woman she's talking to. Said woman turns around and smiles. Lara waves as well. 

 

"Oh! Hello. Are you one of Lara's fellow agents?" Utakata holds back the urge to gulp. She knows? But he nods. "Ah. Alright, that would explain why we've never been acquainted. My name is Anaya. What can I call you?" 

 

"Utakata."

 

"Pleasure meeting you."

 

"Everything alright, Utakata?" He nods, glancing at the woman from before. She looks rather pissed off, but it seems she's moved onto the next guy. Thank. Slug. He sighs. 

 

"Let's just say I made an acquaintance." Lara glances over at the blonde. 

 

"Oh, her? ....I don't even know who the devil she is, to be honest.

 

"I think she was in my major," Anaya says, "But she failed first year because she just couldn't handle the workload. I heard she spent more time drinking than she did in the books." She scowls. "I'm sorry she was harassing you. I recall she doesn't have many personal boundaries." Utakata shakes his head again. He's uncomfortable, but at the very least Anaya seems sensible. And quite attractive, if he has to admit it to himself. Lara seems to have good taste in friends. 

 

He smiles, and allows himself into the conversation for a tiny bit. Perhaps he can be social for just a little bit before he gets some sake.

 

Edited by Mikasa361

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Illidan Stormrage, Lord of the Illidari

<Status: Stable; nervous>

<Location: Hawaii>

<People: Lara, Temeraire, Enterprise, Reshiram, Utakata, Tien, Xander, Sol>

 

 

dd3hjow-314592c7-1003-4fb0-be90-c9ed8776

 

Temeraire Rhowa, Warrior of Light

<Status: Stable; uncomfortable>

<Location: Hawaii>

<Current Class: Ninja>

<People: Lara, Illidan, Enterprise, Reshiram, Utakata, Tien, Xander, Sol>

 

~~

 

Satisfied with the dress, Temeraire started doing a little bit of window shopping - a thing she typically did in Ul'dah when she needed a break from all the adventuring. However, nothing had prepared her for the sight of Illidan sitting outside one of the stores with a bunch of boxes in varying shades of red next to him. "What are you doing out here, Illidan?"

 

"Waiting for Xander to finish."

 

"And you aren't in there talking with him... why?"

 

Illidan turned away from Temeraire. "I don't want to talk about it."

 

Temeraire picked up one of the boxes next to Illidan, curious about why there was so many of them. "What's all this, then?"

 

"Chocolate. Trust me, I know the smell."

 

"Who from? I mean, not to sound like I'm prying, but you don't come off as the kind of guy who would just up and buy a bunch of chocolate."

 

"Just some weirdos who thought it'd be a good idea to approach a demon and ask him to 'be their Valentine' or something."

 

"Oh." Temeraire sheepishly looked down, then looked back at Illidan. "...can I have some of it?"

 

"For Fel's sake, you can have all of it, Temeraire - I don't want any of it. Just don't eat it all and get sick on me."

 

Temeraire shrugged, sitting down next to Illidan and looking at another box. The box itself was heart-shaped, and the felt ribbon on it was labeled with some sort of brand name - it was a shame she couldn't read whatever language these people wrote in. Opening the box revealed an assortment of different kinds of chocolate.

 

Temeraire closed the box again, deciding to eat the chocolate later, and looked at Illidan. It didn't take the Echo to see that he was in a very bad mood. "You look upset, Illidan. Can we talk about it?"

 

"I don't have much to say." Illidan scoffed and crossed his arms.

 

"...it involved Xander, didn't it?"

 

She'd hit the nail on the head. "Okay, yes, it did. Happy? I had one chance with him and I loused it up."

 

Temeraire raised an eyebrow. "What makes you think your relationship with Xander is doomed?"

 

"Because what I said shoved him away just like it did with my last crush."

 

And I thought I was a social wreck, Temeraire thought to herself. "...there's your problem, then. Those last three words."

 

Illidan gave Temeraire a skeptical look - what did this have to do with his previous crush? "How does Tyrande factor into this? She isn't involved."

 

Oh, great, he has a name to this previous crush. "You're right. She isn't. Xander is. Think you can figure it out from there?"

 

Illidan thought for a while, but was stumped. "I don't get it. What am I failing to understand?"

 

"You're failing to understand that Xander isn't Tyrande. Xander is Xander. Tyrande's in the past - that's over and done with - and you need to stop comparing them when they're not related at all. Stop treating this relationship as if it's your relationship with Tyrande."

 

Illidan mentally facepalmed - the answer had been right under his nose and he hadn't realized it. "...I was missing the point until now, wasn't I?"

 

"Big time. I ain't a relationship expert, but if you want him back, you could start by apologizing and being yourself."

 

"You're crazy if you think being myself is going to help. Because being myself means being a jerk." And the last thing I want to be is a jerk, he added in his thoughts.

 

"No, it doesn't. It doesn't take the Echo to see that being with Xander makes you happy. And happy people don't act like jerks. They laugh, they share things about themselves, and they have a good time - which is what I'm sure you were doing before Tyrande came up as a subject."

 

"Yeah..." Illidan sighed. "I messed up really bad. I guess now all I can do is apologize and hope for the best. The worst thing he can do is deny it."

 

Temeraire smiled a little. "Yeah. Why don't you meet me in the hotel later so I can help you with the bowtie?"

 

"...that'd be nice."

 

~[Much, much later...]~

 

"It doesn't itch, does it?"

 

Illidan sighed. "I wouldn't have chosen it if it did." He was wearing the dress pants and bowtie, though he was still in a bit of a sour mood. He'd also snuck one of the boxes of chocolate that Temeraire hadn't claimed as her own - maybe it'd make it a little easier to apologize to Xander...

 

...aaaahhhhh I'm getting all sappy, he thought to himself.

 

Meanwhile, Temeraire looked (and felt) as if she were a goddess. The dress suited her nicely, she was wearing her signature earrings (as always), she'd managed to cobble together a decent necklace from scrap metal (thank the Twelve she was a goldsmith!), and she'd managed to hide both of her daggers and her tail under her dress.

 

It did not stop her from feeling awkward, though. She looked fantastic, but felt very much out of her element. "Trying to find Xander?"

 

"Yes... but I'm not having much luck. Maybe if I'm lucky he'll find me first. What about you? What are you going to do?"

 

"Probably try to enjoy myself, though I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do..."

 

"You're not going to get plastered, are you?"

 

"Hells no! I hate it when I even get tipsy, let alone drunk! ...are you implying that you are?"

 

Illidan stammered. "N-No! I don't even know where it is... Goddess, I'm very out of my element here..."

 

"You and me both..."

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Mama vs Men: FIGHT

 

‘Sigh’ This was so tiring. Sol thought. There were nearly eight men surrounding her as she sat alone at a small table. There ages varied, some looked as young as Tien, some looked to reach their thirties and, to her horror, one looked older than her. Apparently Lara’s birthday coincided with a day of romance on this world, and Sol was regretting the low-cut of her dress. She hadn’t really been paying attention to what the men had been saying, either. There were now 7 drinks on her table, all offerings from the men, who were currently arguing with one another that they had seen her first and piling on higher and higher lies.

 

Glancing past them her eyes landed on Utakata and she smiled. He looked so good, his hair had been cleaned up and the new Kimono looked striking. She was glad they had convinced her to get one, it worked so much better than a suit. He even had his chest covered, thanks to the painfully complex knot Sol had crafted before they had headed to the party.

 

It seemed she wasn’t the only one who found him attractive right now, as a young girl had wandered over. She watched as he walked away from her, leaving the girl rather cross. Sol glanced up at the men surrounding her. How should she get away from them, men are far more lecherous things than women, and they likely would follow if she were to leave.

 

She turned her attention to the drinks laid around her; there was wine, cider, but mainly fruity cocktails of varying colours. She leaned forward and sniffed them; the cocktails seemed well made.according to her superior sense of smell. Grabbing the first in reach she took a sip, paused and proceeded to down the entire drink. The men surrounding her fell silent as she reached for the second cocktail and repeated the same action.

 

Six drinks down, she turned her attention to the wine and Sipped it slowly, looking down her glass at the men, who were now showing signs of bewilderment. She finished the glass and grabbed the bottle of cider, and held it out to the man who’d purchased it for her.

 

“Thank you but I'm not a fan of cider. Would you happen to have a light instead?” She asked, batting her eyelids. The man, taken aback, suddenly seemed eager to be singled out and reached into his jacket and pulled out a small red lighter. The other men glared angrily at him, assuming the same.

 

Sol clicked the lighter and a small flame came out. She gave a rather unimpressed look at the small size of it, then shrugged and in one motion sipped the fire, as if through a straw, into her mouth. The men stared aghast at her as she drained the contents of the lighter. As she swallowed the final flame she exhaled two brief streams of fire from her nose. The men had all backed up, now staring at her in mild horror.

 

“Does anyone else have a lighter?” Sol asked, extending her hand. The men gave various answers of no, accompanied by head-shakes.

“Well, I guess I should go find one,” Sol said. She stood and walked past the dumbfounded men, fortunately, none of them followed her.

Her eyes drawn to Uta, who was now talking with their host, she couldn’t help but notice a girl in a wheelchair with light red hair.

 

The girl seemed to be fast asleep, concerned Uta walked over to her. There was a thick blanket covering her lap and her breathing was deep and even; she was fast asleep.

 

Sol snapped her fingers a few times in front of the girl’s face.

“Hello, can you hear me, we’re at a party, it’d be best not to sleep through it,” She said in a soft voice by the girls ear.
The girl didn’t wake, Sol wheeled her over to one of the tables and made a mental note to check up on her later.

I wonder who invited her?

 

She walked over to Lara, Uta and the woman Lara had been with.

“Well the companies been a bit dull so far but the drinks have been good,” Sol said.

She held out her hand towards Lara.

“Happy birthday, my names Sol, I only joined recently so I don’t believe we’ve met,” She said kindly.

Edited by Marcus Pheonix

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ウタカタ - Hierophant

X -  Flee | ▢ - Drink

△ - Chat | O - ??????

 

He sees Sol make her way over, seeming to have escaped a reverse harem. Good grief, he thinks to himself, are all people in Lara's world this crazy? Still, he gives her a smile and greets her with a wave. He does appreciate her efforts on him, after all she did make him look very nice. And for him, looking good seems to coincide with feeling good. Utakata then looks at Anaya, who seems to have glanced at him quite a few times within the past couple minutes of conversation. Is it because of the colors of the kimono? He does feel somewhat more confident in this outfit, which surprises him more than anything considering he felt just fine in his usual kimono. Maybe he should get a few new ones, considering that one is a little too worn for his liking now. 

 

Sol starts introducing herself to Lara, while Lara turns to her and happily starts a conversation. 

 

Leaving him with Anaya. She's nice enough, but he doesn't know all that much about her besides the fact that she's Lara's friend from school and she studied something that took a lot of time and dedication. He isn't even sure what engineering really is, and he feels he would insult her if he asked. So Utakata sighs. "So um... I'm not sure what to say." Anaya shrugs.

 

"That's alright. Although between you and me, you seem to be one of very few people I'm willing to make conversation with." 

 

Utakata raises his eyebrow. "Why's that?"

 

Anaya frowns. Her voice lowers. "There are just so many people Lara and I don't know. Whoever invited all of these people, either they don't know Lara at all or they're up to something. That would explain why Lara's been visibly anxious."

 

"You know her well. I guess that makes sense considering you've been friends for a while."

 

"I'll be honest. I know her better than most of the people here. Which concerns me." She shifts her weight to one foot, similar to what he sees Lara do. Utakata raises his eyebrow, noting that these two women have a few similar speech habits, though not many. "But... I'd rather not talk about that now. Can I get you a drink?" Utakata gives her a half smile. 

 

"Is this your way of saying you'd rather chat elsewhere?" He nods. "In which case, I suppose I could use a drink, hopefully the bar isn't super crowded now that Sol left it.

 

Utakata follows her towards the bar, leaving Lara to deal with Sol. 

 

hhHAcox.png

 

Lara Rochelle - Empress

X -  Walk Away | ▢ - Drink

△ - Chat | O- MATCH

 

Lara knows Anaya enough to know when she's genuinely attracted to someone. So when she sees the change in posture and the way she gives him that One Specific Smile, Lara knows more than enough to know maybe she should be the proper wingwoman. 

 

Alas, she has no idea how to do that. 

 

So when one of the new agents makes her way over, Lara feels a surge of relief. 

 

"Happy birthday, my name's Sol, I only joined recently so I don’t believe we’ve met,” the woman says, holding out her hand to shake. Lara takes it gratefully. 

 

"Pleasure to meet you, and thank you. Were you the one who cleaned Utakata up? Not bad," she adds with a wink. Then she smiles and crosses her arms under her chest. "Anyway, I hope you're having a good time thus far.

 

She notices when Utakata and Anaya walk towards the bar, and she gives a knowing smile. Looks like the antisocial butterfly made a friend today. 

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The party is...well, it’s a party; lighteyes-style. Tien’s not usually invited to those. He’s attended a few of them, but not really as a true guest. More of a tagalong. There to watch people, take mental notes on the politics, gather gossip that might indicate useful information…

 

Make people think better of Amaram for sponsoring a darkeyed nobody…

 

Tien shakes his head sharply. This isn’t the time to reexamine that issue. Tien’s relationship with his commander/mentor/parental(?) figure/whatever-Amaram-actually-is-to-him is not something he wants to stand around thinking about at a party.

 

That said, he does find it ironic that he’s managed to gravitate to someone who holds a similar role now that the party’s going full swing. Tien sneaks a nervous glance at Xander before quickly looking back at his cup. He’s not actually sure what’s in this, but he’s pretty sure it’s alcoholic.

 

Should he make conversation? He wouldn’t normally, but X-DRE’s organization is a lot more...casual than Amaram’s army. 

 

Also, there are some girls eyeing him and Tien’s already seen several of the others get accosted. Maybe they’ll leave him alone if he’s already talking to someone. 


"So…" Tien starts awkwardly. "Uh…" What would Fractal want to know? "What’s your homeworld like?" he blurts out.

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< STATUS: Stable; Lost in Thought >

< LOCATION: Mauna Kea Beach - Table Near Bar >

< AGENTS: Tien >

< OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Sieghorse >



The afternoon had been unpleasant, but Xander wasn’t going to let that ruin his day. After he and Illidan had finished up shopping and gone their separate ways, Xander tried to rid his mind of troubling thoughts by taking Reshiram out shopping. While initially his thoughts kept drifting back to the argument earlier in the day, Xander soon occupied himself with helping Reshiram try out different outfits. They were not out for long, but Xander found himself enjoying helping Reshiram find something they were comfortable with. Seeing Reshiram glance at themselves in the mirror with half-smile bearing on their face made Xander’s heart feel full in a way that kept him smiling all up until the party actually started.

 

In hindsight, Xander should have paid more attention to what he was buying before he left the store. Xander, standing off the sidelines with a wine glass in hand, tugged at his cravat with a dejected grunt. He wouldn’t claim his outfit was inappropriate for the occasion. His dress suit was a dark enough purple to not be loud and his white, long-sleeved undershirt with puffy sleeves complimented it well. In all honesty, most of the men appeared to be wearing black or darkly colored dress pants with shoes to match and, in Xander’s opinion, his signature cravat was tasteful enough to fit the dress code of the party. Still, Xander wondered if perhaps he should have spent more time addressing the issue of matching the local fashion than contemplating the “situation” that had been sprung upon him earlier.


"So…Uh…What’s your homeworld like?

 

Blinking in surprise, Xander turned his head towards the source of the voice.

“Ah, Tien,” he said after regaining his composure. He turned his body towards his fellow agent and dipped his head respectfully. He and Tien had spent minimal time together with most of their interactions including sharing pleasantries or passing comments, but Xander was never one to ignore his allies. Especially ones that were shifting their feet anxiously and gazing out towards the crowd with a nervous frown.  “You’ve certainly cleaned up nicely. I’m glad to see you out on a mission.”

 

Ears flickering at the sound of his owner’s voice, Sieghorse trotted up towards where Xander and Tien were. He raised his head towards Tien’s hair and gave a curious sniff. With a loud snort, Sieghorse lowered his head and pawed at the sand at this hooves.

 

“Don’t worry about him,” Xander said. He patted Sieghorse’s muzzle affectionately, eliciting the horse to lean into Xander’s hand. “He just likes attention. As for your question, hm…” Xander swirled the liquid in his glass before taking a small sip. “As you might be aware, I am the current monarch back in my homeland, Nohr. It’s one of the two largest kingdoms on the continent.” As he stared down at the swirling purple liquid in his glass, Xander’s face softened fondly. “I love my homeworld, truly. Everything from our history, our culture, and our people I adore with all my heart. I know it is not an easy land to love. The sky is shrouded in a perpetual cover of clouds so sunlight rarely shines on the barren land below which in turn makes both the day and night dreadfully cold. It’s part of why we considered life so sacred. All iife, flora especially, is considered precious in Nohr. We’re a nation that relies heavily on magic for every aspect of our lives, and mages are constantly looking for new ways to rejuvenate plant life or create new living creatures that can sustain themselves on what we have. We’ve been growing exponentially as both a country and people since the war ended so we have more resources than we used to, but I don’t think I’ll ever tire of watching a mage growing a tree or flower right before someone’s eyes.” 

 

The wine glass grew still.

“Sorry, I fear that I’ve been rambling,” Xander said as he looked back up at Tien. “Was there something in particular that you wanted to know?”

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Tien mumbled a thanks in response to Xander's compliment and nodded through the ramble about his home, absentmindedly reaching up to pet the horse’s side. Who brought a horse to a party? Who let people bring a horse to a party?

 

Not that Tien was complaining. This one seemed nice enough--he wasn’t chewing on his hair instead of just sniffing it, for example--and he was soft and gave Tien something to do with his free hand.

 

While half of Xander’s words went in one ear and out the other, Tien noted his expressions more carefully. The fondness in face and tone spoke of great love, nostalgia, respect. Good traits in a king.

 

Part of Tien's mind started wondering how that could be exploited, and if anyone had ever tried. He probably shouldn't be thinking about that, but he couldn't really help it...and it wasn't like Xander could read his mind, so he let his thoughts trail off on that path until the mention of such heavy reliance on magic set him wondering how their magic worked, exactly. It sounded like such a tenuous way to live; Tien's powers were fueled by Stormlight, sure, but even that couldn't last forever. What happened if they found themselves in a situation where they couldn't use it? Did they have any skills to fall back on? 

 

"...been rambling. Was there something in particular that you wanted to know?"

 

Tien blinked. "Ah--no, not really, I was just curious." Fractal rang impatiently on his arm, and he glanced at her. She had questions, clearly. Was he comfortable telling Xander about his spren…?

 

...The way things had been going, he’d probably find out anyways. Tien stopped petting the horse and rotated his arm so the pattern that was Fractal faced Xander. "Fractal might have something, though."

 

"Your mages sound like Edgedancers or Truthwatchers," Fractal said without hesitating. "Users of Progression. Are there any others? Or all they all simply focused on bringing life?"

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< STATUS: Stable; Wistful >

< LOCATION: Mauna Kea Beach - Table Near Bar >

< AGENTS: Tien >

< OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Sieghorse, Waiter >

 

Before Xander had to chance to ask who Fractal was, Tien rotated his arm until a strange, intricate pattern on his sleeve was facing Xander directly. A voice spoke clearly from Tien’s shirt. Xander raised an inquisitive eyebrow, but, knowing just how many different people and powers there were in the multiverse, he elected to not question it.

 

“I’m unfamiliar with Edgedancers, Truthwatchers, and the users of Progression,” Xander admitted, taking a small sip from his drink. “But, there are many different kinds of magic back in my homeworld. Historically, Nohr places great importance on magic that can create or restore life, but even that magic used for other situations.” With a contemplative hum, Xander tapped his chin. “Many other continents classify their magic into specific schools, but in Nohr and our neighboring country of Hoshido, we categorize them more on their source than their actual powers. Typically, magics that involve healing, blessings, and curses are imbued in staves and rods and most other magics, offensive or otherwise, are stored within tomes and scrolls. In fact…”

 

Xander lowered his hand towards Siegfried’s handle and pulled it an inch out of its sheath. Immediately, the blade blossomed in a bright, violet light. White sparks leapt off of the blade, almost as though the sword was eager to be woken. 

“Siegfried itself is infused with magic,” Xander explained. He resheathed the sword, causing the purple light to flicker out. “Most magic can only be wielded by people who have purposefully studied magic and worked towards learning how to use it, but there are a few select weapons that allow people to use magic without having much prior experience. My magical aptitude is, to be rank, less than stellar, but Siegfried allows me and no one else to wield it despite that. Actually you even might be able to—”

 

There was a presence behind them. Glancing over his shoulder, Xander spotted someone massaging the exposed part of Sieghorse's neck. The boy appeared to be younger, in his late teens perhaps, and donning the same outfit all the other waiters wore. Briefly, Xander wondered how the boy managed to land a job at such a prestigious party given how messy the boy’s dark hair was and how there appeared to be unattended stains at the bottom of his shirt. 

 

Realizing that people he had attracted attention to himself, the boy stopped petting Sieghorse and turned to look over at Xander and Tien. 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said as he pushed up his glasses with one finger. “Is this your horse?”

 

“Yes,” Xander said with a steady voice. “He is.”

“I love him.” Xander blinked at the sudden declaration. The waiter patted Sieghorse's muzzle adoringly. “Seeing another animal here makes me feel a bit better, you know? I’m glad I’m not the only one who brought their pet to this event.” Almost as though on cue, Xander felt something warm and fluffy rub against his leg. Glancing down, Xander saw a black and white cat with a ribbon tied to the back of its neck. It looked up at him with two big, blue eyes and meowed before gently headbutting Tien’s leg. 

 

“You two don’t look like the usual crowd,” the waiter said. He motioned towards a nearby crowd where many people dressed in fanciful clothing where mingling with one another. “Not to say you didn’t follow the dress code, but most people aren’t cool enough to bring animals to these things.” With one hand still petting Sieghorse, the waiter extended his hand forward. “I’m Yosuke by the way,” the waiter said with a wink. “How about you two?” 

“Xander,” the king said as he shook Yosuke’s hand. He didn’t have a reason to lie about his identity, at least not yet. Yosuke turned his attention towards Tien expectantly, his hand still outstretched.

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dcv6up8-e637a9de-3c49-42cd-ad44-e5f9a41d

 

Illidan Stormrage, Lord of the Illidari
<Status: Stable; TEMERAIRE YOU'RE DEAD>
<Location: Mauna Kea Beach>
<People: Temeraire, Xander, Tien, Yosuke, Sieghorse, Milk Cream>

 

 

dd3hjow-314592c7-1003-4fb0-be90-c9ed8776

 

Temeraire Rhowa, Warrior of Light
<Status: Stable; go get em Illidan>

<Location: Mauna Kea Beach>
<Current Class: Ninja>

<People: Illidan, Xander, Tien, Yosuke, Sieghorse, Milk Cream>

 

~~

 

Temeraire looked around, completely uninterested in the party, and then saw that familiar blond hair. "There's your king, lover-demon."

 

"...aww no, Temeraire. I may suck at socializing but even I can tell that interrupting someone else is rude. I am not about to be seen as impolite just because of my eagerness to apologize."

 

As Illidan spoke, Temeraire spared another glance. The one Xander had been speaking to was now preoccupied with someone else. "...no need to be impolite, Illidan. I see your opening."

 

"Wait-- what?!"

 

"Break a leg, lover-demon." And then Temeraire took Illidan's hand and brought him over. After they were close enough (but not too close), she turned around and pushed him towards Xander before darting off to join up with Tien and his new, um... friend. (No really what is that strange animal? It looks like a baby coeurl...)

 

Illidan was not amused by Temeraire pulling him towards Xander without his say-so. "Temeraire! Goddess dammit...She is so dead later! This was not going to be easy. Illidan couldn't help putting one of his hands to his face. Goddess-damn cat. He pulled his hand away before speaking, trying (and failing) to sound confident. Even with his confident air, his nervousness was as plain as day. "H-Hey, Xander..."

 

S***, this is going to be hard...

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Forum_Signature--Fractal_Persona_Branch.

Forum_Signature--Tien_Persona_Branch.png

 

So Nohr...ian? Nohrian magic could be stored inside of objects, rather than needing a spren-focus. Of course, Tien hadn’t seen any spren at all in the other worlds; it was likely they were unique to Roshar, and everywhere else needed a system that didn’t involve them.

 

Xander inched his sword out of its sheath, and it glowed with light. Tien’s eyes widened. Shardblades, Fractal especially, had their own magical flair, but nothing so dramatic as that. What powers could this Siegfried hold? Was it similar to a Blade, or--?

 

Xander broke off and looked behind him. Tien followed his gaze automatically. A boy around his age was petting the horse’s neck, looking adoringly at it. Tien almost would have thought he’d snuck in, except that his outfit, though messy, did match that of the waiters. 

 

"Oh, I’m sorry. Is this your horse?"

 

...He was kind of pretty.

 

Oh no, Tien thought, horrified with himself, no no no no no, I can’t start this again. 

 

"Yes, he is."

 

"I love him." The earnestness in his voice was--NO NO NO COME ON, GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF. "Seeing another animal here makes me feel a bit better, you know? I’m glad I’m not the only one who brought their pet to this event." 

 

Not...the only one? Tien blinked. He would have noticed an axehound, wouldn’t he? Unless the other boy was talking about a tamed mink or--

 

Something headbutted Tien’s leg with an odd, unfamiliar sound. He dropped his gaze to stare at a small creature with black-and-white fur, now circling around his legs.

 

He had no idea what this was. Tien went very still. It probably wasn’t dangerous, but he still didn’t want to hurt or annoy it on accident. 

 

"You two don’t look like the usual crowd. Not to say you didn’t follow the dress code, but most people aren’t cool enough to bring animals to these things." 

 

Tien nodded vaguely, eyes still on the odd animal. Fractal slid down to the ground to investigate, buzzing curiously at the creature. He caught the movement out of the corner of his eye and jerked his head up.

 

"I’m Yosuke, by the way." The boy--Yosuke--winked, extending a hand. Tien felt his cheeks heat up and internally cursed himself. "How about you two?" 

 

"Xander," Tien’s companion introduced himself, shaking Yosuke’s hand. The boy nodded, then turned to Tien with an expectant grin.

 

You’re fine, Tien told himself, knowing it was a lie. You’re fine. You’ve handled things like this before, crushes don’t get in the way of being cordial, oh dear Almighty why are you such a mess?!

 

Damnation. There was the storming trade-off he’d been anticipating. He’d wondered when the other shoe would drop.

 

X-DRE’s casual setup had made him more comfortable, able to interact with people lightly and open-heartedly. He’d let himself relax, let some of his acts slip away. Tien was (or had once been) at his core, a cheerful person, basically optimistic, compassionate, open. In a single short week, he’d started to return to that.

 

He was letting his emotions show. He was letting himself feel and show his feelings.

 

Too much.

 

Fine. If Tien needed to hide in order to control himself, fine. He took a mental step back, reached inside himself for a familiar mask, let it settle over him like a veil. He couldn’t change his face right away without it being obvious, but he could maybe do it in pieces--later. Later. Away from Xander. Let Yosuke think it was a mistake of the lighting if they moved. 

 

"Telinar Mevani. Nice to meet you." Calm voice. Steady. Thank the Almighty. Firm handshake and let go. He was fine. He glanced briefly at Xander and hoped the man would go with it. 

 

In a moment of terrible, terrible timing, Temeraire popped up next to him seconds later.

Edited by Pachimew
color-matching

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< STATUS: Stable; Annoyed >

< LOCATION: Mauna Kea Beach - Table Near Bar >

< AGENTS: Tien, Illidan, Temeraire >

< OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Sieghorse, Yosuke >

 

Yosuke grinned at Tien. 

“Lovely to make your acquaintances.” he said in a smooth tone. From behind him, two familiar figures approached.

 

"Temeraire! Goddess dammit..."

So they were doing this now. Xander was suddenly glad he decided to get a drink from the bar even if it wasn’t that strong. He exhaled from his nose, fingers tapping alongside the glass in tandem before he raised it to his lips and drained it. Xander had a decent amount of time to mull over his thoughts, but a little liquid courage never hurt.

 

 "H-Hey, Xander...

“Evening, Illidan,” Xander said coolly. He glanced over at his fellow agent who looked to be as anxious as Xander felt. “I assume you want to talk in private, yes?” Without waiting for an answer, Xander turned towards Yosuke. “There aren’t many stables around here, so would you mind looking after Si—ahem—my companion until come to collect him.” Yosuke positively beamed.

 

“Of course!” he said, smile widening an inch. “I’ll take good care of him!” With a grateful nod, Xander set his glass down on the nearby table, and motioned for Illidan to follow as he began to head to a nearby palm tree that was clear of other partygoers. As he walked off, Yosuke leaned towards Tien. “Sooooo, Telinar,” Yosuke began. “You don’t seem like the kind of person to hang out with a, ah what’s a nice way to phrase it.” Yosuke made a winding motion with his hand. “Snobby? Yes, snobby crowd. What brought you to this party? And you!” Yosuke removed his hand from Sieghorse and placed himself between Tien and Temeraire. “I think I would have remembered seeing someone with as great of sense of fashion as you.” Yosuke briefly glanced up at Temeraire’s ears before meeting her gaze. “How about you? What’s your name and how did you get dragged into this lovely mess with the rest of us?”

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It's not fun being Han Sol-o
 

Sol watched Uta go with a raised eyebrow; she turned her attention back to Lara.

“Yes, I couldn’t bare to have him wander around in that mouldy old bathrobe. And now look at him; a girls number at the shops and casually strolling through a party with another young lady,” Sol sighed. She wondered if she’d ever be able to experience that form of agape in her life again. As her mind wandered back, to several decades ago, she felt a small tear slide down the side of her face.

 

Blushing in embarrassment she wiped it away, “Oh look at me, I'm such an old grandma just the sight of some kids bonding brings me to tears,” Sol chuckled lightly to herself.

 

“I may not look it but I'm a fair bit older than you. Which I don’t think those boys over by the bar realised. But truthfully, I feel like I shouldn’t even be here. It’s your party and I barely know you, or anyone here. The one I know most us Utataka but I only learned his name this morning. My guild has hosted several celebrations but I've always just been the one standing at the back observing, making sure everyone else is having a good time... participating is, kind of unusual,” Sol admitted. She shook herself, she was getting far too emotional.

 

“I must say, you’re looking very fetching. Seems I wasn't the only one playing the stylist this afternoon,” Sol said, pleasantly trying to change the tone of the conversation.

Edited by Marcus Pheonix

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