Behind the Curtain

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Lady Alainn, Oct 2, 2014.

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  1. -Micah-

    Swinging his trombone case over his shoulder, Micah Mooney bumped the car door shut with his hip and sauntered toward the side door of Cooper & Co Theatre House as the sun's rays slipped lower and lower in the horizon. The theatre house wasn't the largest building in the world, roughly two and a half storeys tall and sandwiched between a clothing store and a dirt alley. Chunks of brick crumbled off the ill-kept walls and the multi-coloured border around the vertical neon sign had long ago lost the ability to flash. What it lacked in aesthetics, the tiny theatre made up for in talent. Big names floated in and out of there on occasion, and sometimes a lucky actor or actress from the troupe made it onto the Big Stage or the Big Screen. It was rare, but it'd happened before.

    The rusty hinges squeaked as Micah kicked open the door and instantly his ears were assailed with the cacophony of trumpet bleats, scratchy strings, and flute flutterings. It seemed he wasn't the first to arrive for rehearsals. Winding through the back halls, he passed by the dressing rooms for the acting troupe, his dark eyes lingering on one of the names etched in gold plating on a door. Diane Silverpeak.

    The temptation to stand there, to wait to see if she was here already came over him, but with a sigh he picked up one heavy foot and set it down in the direction of the orchestra pit. What would he say to her if he did bump into her? 'Uh, hi, just stalking you. Wanted to let you know I think you're amazing.' His cheeks glowed. It was best to keep quiet for now, otherwise he'd just end up embarrassing himself.

    With a whistle, he picked up his pace, arriving at the orchestra pit just as the conductor entered the theatre through the front doors. Micah plopped into his seat between the first trombone and the tuba and worked on removing his instrument from his case.
     
    #1 Lady Alainn, Oct 2, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  2. - Ioria -

    Ioria was tuning his violin, ignoring other sounds except its notes... well not that he had to tune it seriously anyway. His black violin was always tuned. Always. He made sure to tend to it every night and every morning so that the tuning would require no time. His hands ran expert on the strings, as the bow grazed them; he tuned it with the first part of the first song they had to rehearse: 'Bohémienne' the first song sang by the female lead 'Diane Silverpeak? Who's she?' He asked himself as he read her name on the score 'How many times will we have to rehearse the same song?' his mind asked him. He loved he's violin and he adored music so, everytime he had to interact with new faces he turned a bit sour.

    Once he finished to tune the instrument, Ioria looked around him just to see Micah, a good friend of his, take a seat and starting taking out his trombone exactly as the maestro got on the stage, why that flustered face? was it due to almost arriving late?. 'I'll say hi later and I'll ask him directly... if I manage not to fall from here... I never really noticed how high the second violin had to stay... what if I hurt my hands?' again his paranoia kicking in. In the blink of an eye, the orchestra fell silent and the conductor could greet everyone. He gave off that 'noble grandpa who loves his job' feel. Ioria loved those type of people.

    Ioria waited for the actress to enter the stage and when she finally did... well he almost had to whistle his approvement... of course a blonde Esmeralda would be strange but... that were none of his businnes. His job was to play at the best... and not to fall. He would have done everything he could as long as it was a success.

    - Diane -

    Diane was looking at the mirror, recalling how to pull out love and emotions from music "Love... it sure is a misterious thing" she said to her reflection. She always loved acting AND singing, and now... on that stage... she could finally be part of a musical... a real musical, not those false stories of High School Musical; a real, important and beautiful one: Notre dame de Paris! And, if that wasn't enough, she managed to snatch the lead role. She was somewhat excited and... 'Wait, is there someone at the door?' She asked herself as she got up and went to it. Her dressing room was small but cozy. She loved it from the start: near the door, on its right side, there was a trunk on the other side a wooden wardrobe. Opposit to the door there was a window with light blue curtains, near that one, a table with a mirror and a chair. She already had put all her stuff on it and a wooden screen completed the furniture.

    Diane, her green gipsy-like dress on, opened the door and put out her head, looking right and left but she saw no one 'I must have been mistaken...' she thought closing it again. She went back on her table and looked at a picture with a smile. Bump-bump "Silverpeak, are you ready? Come on stage!" she was called... now there was someone at the door... 'Oh my... am I a diviner of some sort?'. Diane opened the door and saw a short chubby man, a baseball hat on his head and some papers in his hands. "I'm ready, sir." the man nodded once and led her near the stage "I'm a fan... don't disappoint me blondie" he sad in a light tone "I'm a fan too..." she whispered in answer.

    Diane took a deep deep breath, closed her eyes and, finally, got on the stage: it was big, enormous, imposing. Well... it was pretty normal, actually, but for her who never stood on anything like that it seemed... well... big, enormous, imposing. She then gazed at the orchestra: everyone was so serious in their tuning and the conductor seemed to have just arrived too. She went to talk to him, and thanked him in advance "And I'm sorry for all the times you will have to repeat it..." she added apologetic. She then bowed to the performers and went back on the center of the prepared stage. 'You're Diane no more, you're Esmeralda now, you just fell in love with Febo and you're telling him your story. You're just a dirty Andalucia's gipsy and you love to be so, be proud, be in love.' sure... it was easy to say... would it be as easy to perform a maiden in love? Well she always succeded or she wouldn't be there but still...that was a question to which she'd love to find an answer but, for now, she waited for the music to start.
     
  3. -Beatrice-

    As soon as Diane took her spot on stage, the stage manager entered from a side door and scuttled down faded carpet along the side aisle of the theatre. "Excellent, excellent! Are we all here? Yes? Where's Febo? Ah, I see you," he returned the little wave the actor playing Febo gave him. He continued puffing down the aisle and halted in front of the centre seating section. "Maestro, is your orchestra ready yet? We're missing a saxophone? Oh dear, oh dear. Well, we'll get started and hope he-- she?--gets here before the music starts, yes? Yes."

    The little man cleared his throat and beamed at Diane. "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to extend a hearty welcome to Diane Silverpeak as our newest female member! It was difficult, very difficult, finding someone to replace Lacey, but I believe Diane will not disappoint. Some of you may recognize her as Epinone from the performance the amateur dramatics of Les Miserables did last year on our humble little stage. So, without further ado, Diane Silverpeak! Welcome my dear, and congratulations on joining our marvellous little troupe here."

    It was while the manager was introducing Diane that Beatrice Hutchinson breezed through the main theatre entrance, a satchel overflowing with papers to grade hanging off her shoulder and a grade book tucked firmly under one arm. Beatrice, and only Beatrice as far as anyone could tell, was the one person who could burst through a door and make no more noise than a mouse.

    She held up a hand in greeting to Ioria sitting so awkwardly in his seat, but so at ease with his violin and hurried down to the front to snag a seat in the front row. It was tradition for the music teacher to attend the first rehearsal of a new piece, and one that she'd been threatened into keeping by Micah. He insisted she brought them good luck. Well, she always enjoyed a good performance, so who was she to complain?



    -Micah-

    He'd just been able to blow a few warm-up notes before the manager hushed the tuning process with his presence. It didn't really matter to Micah as the first piece they were playing had very little trombone involvement. Normally, he would have found this frustrating, but as it was one of Diane's songs, he didn't mind the excuse to sit back and listen to Diane's voice. Her beautiful, inspiring voice.

    Yes, Micah remembered that performance with Diane. He remembered vividly every detail of Epinone's performance down to the subtlest expression that had flickered across her face. Oh, what a performance! Her voice had been that of an angel and stirred something within Mick that only music could explain. She truly did inspire his creative muse. It'd been a long while since a voice had had so much of an effect on him, but he was extremely grateful for the spark she'd ignited in him.

    "All right, Maestro, lead us to Paris!" the manager exclaimed, turning the invisible microphone over to the white-haired man. With a bow, the conductor held up his baton and gestured for the clarinet to give a tuning note. Micah raised his trombone to his lips, closing his eyes to imagine the perfect note in his head. A few tweaks and his tone blended into the instruments of the others.

    Satisfied with the overall sound, the conductor cut them off and raised his baton again. "Bohemienne," he whispered before giving the downbeat. Micah set his trombone down and leaned back in his seat, eagerly waiting for Diane to sing.
     
  4. - Ioria -

    Ioria looked at the door a second before it slamming open letting Beatrice in without a sound and replied her greet rising his bow with a smile: her long hair fluttering at her step rhythm... a beautiful 3/4 one. He hardly had heard the manager's words on a certain Diane Something-peak as his attention was solely for his violin. He didn't care who was he playing with or why he was playing with a certain someone as long as his performance wasn't hindered and the result was good. "It's my pleasure to be working with you all" she said with a bow "I hope not to be a hindrance" she added in a humble tone 'I think I like her manners...' he thought smiling. Ioria blended his sound with the others, adding a crystal high note to the ansamble, and prepared to play the song.

    How will she reconcile the nostalgic feel in Esmeralda's words with a newborn love she shouldn't have felt for the captain? That was the question in Ioria's mind before loosing himself completely in playing.

    - Diane -

    Diane gave a nod to Phoebus as both got on their stage places and waited patiently. When she started she sat on the floor and in a warm tone reached the end of the first stanza looking straight in his eyes Here's my fate in the lines of my hand she sang reaching out to him with his hand and bringing it back to her chest before he could have a look. Diane, better, Esmeralda got up quikly and got away from him giggling until she reached the center of the stage. Phoebus was still a bit startled. The actors didn't set anything up so he couldn't understand exactly what she wanted to convey but for Diane, that was an advantage.
    She started dancing on the spanish-like music and went on to the second stanza, with a bit of a Spanish accent and a bit of happy nostalgia in the voice.

    On to the third and fourth stanzas her tone kept a light feel and her eyes kept gazing into his, while the man was wandering on the stage, trying to get near her as she got away from his reach over and over again, pulling him to her just with eye contact. At the end of the second Here's my fate in she got near him and put her hand on his, raising them one against the other, palm to palm, nearing her face to his the lines of my hand she sang smoothly with a twirl before running away from him this time looking at the audience she started with the last stanzas of the song.

    With the fifth and sixth her expression turned from playful to distant and nostalgic as she let the audience know of her past, she brought her arms the her chest when she spoke about the streams, she looked up when sang of the sky. In her peripheral sight she saw the actor playing Clopin (Esmeralda's mentor) getting on stage and Phoebus, who sat down at a point, gazing at her.
    For the last lines she got a couple of insecure steps to the captain just to look down and choosing reason over feelings and reaching her mentor letting him read her hand on the last line, smiling on the last note.

    When the instrumental finished she blinked a couple of times and looked up at the actor who had her hand in his, then looked at a surprised Phoebus and lastly at the audience. Did she disappoint them? She knew she didn't know what love meant but she really tried hard on that role. Was she good enough? She was about to discover it.
     
  5. -Micah-

    Something was off in Diane's performance upon the stage. She hit every note pretty much perfectly, her tone resonating in the little theatre, but she didn't have the same confidence in herself as he'd seen in her portrayal of Epinone. Granted, as far as acting went she could trip and fall, and as long as her voice kept going he would still be mystified. Micah folded his arms across his chest and fixated his eyes upon the woman waltzing across the stage. She was cute, but Esmeralda needed to be sultry in his opinion. Maybe she was trying too hard. But what did he know of acting? He was just a musician. Micah closed his eyes and focused on just the voice-- that beautiful, beautiful voice.

    Was she nervous about being on their stage? As a first time semi-professional, he could understand the nerves. He'd been a nervous wreck the first couple of times he played with this group. It was only when he learned to let go of that insatiable desire to get it all right the first time that he could let go of his nerves and embrace the music. And now, he felt he could be called upon at any given moment to give a spontaneous solo and he would be able to deliver with gusto. It really was all about the music.

    A sharp elbow to his side pulled Micah back to the score. The first trombonist glared at him and mouthed 'We're about to play!' Immediately, Micah sat up straight and set his mouthpiece to his lips. Where were they? Esmeralda was singing.... there. He counted the remaining beats of the measure and came in just in time with the rest of the low brass. Listening attentively to the tone around him, he matched his sound to the first trombone and let her dictate the fall of the beat. Long, slow notes for a few measures as the song built up, and then nothing again. His job done for the present, Micah slouched back in his seat and went back to analyzing Diane's performance. He only had one more spot to play in this entire piece.



    -Beatrice-

    Making herself comfortable, Beatrice bent one leg gracefully over the other and dug through the papers in her satchel to extract her students' transposition exercises. She still needed to finish grading their last exam, but the marks had been so disappointingly low that she kept putting it off and putting it off. Upbeat music cured the depression, but Bohemienne was not that piece. Beatrice set her gradebook on her lap for a writing table and chomped down on the cap of her red felt pen to tug it out. Before too long, she was nose deep in x's and check marks, more of the latter than the former thankfully.

    The music faded as the piece drew to a close. Beatrice peeled her eyes from a particularly red page and glanced at Ioria's expression while the manager began dissecting the woman's performance. Was her friend satisfied with the actress? That meant more to her than any little nuance the manager might pull out. Ioria had an ear for judging a voice with potential. Personally, she felt the performance had been flat. Apparently, the manager agreed with her.

    "Lovely singing, Diane, lovely singing. But your face, your body language.... You look like you have watched this scene over and over and are trying to copy what someone has done before you. I could see you were trying to get into character, so that is good, very good. Don't be afraid to embrace the gypsy within you! Don't get bogged down in trying to convey your feelings. You must proclaim them boldly! Be Esmeralda. To quote a wise mentor of mine, 'Do or do not, there is no try.' We're all friends here, my beautiful little gypsy. There is no need to be shy upon the stage."

    All through his little speech, the manager beamed and hummed with approval. He'd make a gypsy out of that girl yet. "Now, can we go back to the flirty little dance, the third stanza was it? Second?" He stopped to consult his score. "Yes, start at the second stanza and go through the fourth. Diane-- Esmeralda-- I want you to be, not convey. Be. Can you do that for me, dear? Maestro?"

    The conductor raised his hands, whispered a measure number, and waited for Diane to take her place upon the stage again.
     
  6. - Ioria -

    The man was a bit disappointed and surprised at the same time. He expected a less smooth voice and a better felt act. As he played through the score he could harmonize with her singing and the result was a good one, an outrageous good one but when he looked at her... it missed something... but did she lack? Why did all those initial emotions feel so... artificial? She was 21... that was almost the same age of Esmeralda... Lacey would have had a lot more difficoulties with her mature way of thinking... so it couldn't be age difference. He stopped to think untill the end of the song: it definitely lacked something.

    His face said clearly: Lacey would have done better. And Beatrice and Micah knew fully well how much Ioria couldn't stand Lacey. Was it inexperience? She didn't seem nervous... otherwise it would have showed in her voice. Ioria gazed at Micah, he knew the young one wouldn't be a technical help in the matter.... but that guy had always had a strange inner sight for talent. And in fact... he had closed his eyes. His part was really short and he could have followed everything but... he decided not to. Micah decided to listen to that Silverpeak's voice. What did she miss? Why wouldn't she impress him? Her voice was very good... very good indeed but her body language was... poor...

    'Wait... does she lack... experience? She's 21 and never learnt to love? No... I'm wrong' tried to convince himself the man. He covered his gray eye as he lowered his head while the manager spoke. 'She's just a newcomer... that's the only true reason... yes. Better than nothing... a poor act can get better that's why we have rehersals... but a poor voice remains poor for as much as one strives'. Ioria took his violin and got ready to start again from the second stanza. Would she get better? would she need more practice?

    - Diane -

    "Don't be afraid to embrace the gypsy within you! Don't get bogged down in trying to convey your feelings. You must proclaim them boldly! Be Esmeralda." the girl apologized and nodded 'Be... Esmeralda? She's a gipsy... she want's to be free and she's playful... I guess' she thought as she sat down again where she was at the end of the first stanza, Phoebus ruffled a bit her long blond hair before sitting down "You know, doesn't Esmeralda have this... innocent sensuality to her? I mean..." but Diane wasn't listening anymore innocent sensuality? She had strived to convey the innocent feel but... where was the sensuality? Did she really think she could be a good Esmeralda like that? 'I really did understimate acting... I'm so ashamed' she thought covering her face as she blushed a bit. She was just trying to be an Esmeralda not the Esmeralda.

    Diane got up and tore her long skirt, from the bottom up, to half her thigh and tied in a knot: her Esmeralda wanted to be free... a long skirt would be a hindrance to her dancing. The girl, then, sat again smiling to the man in front of her "I'm sorry. I'll try harder" and waited for the music to start.

    As soon as the notes started to play, she got up with a smirk and started to sing. She talked again about her past but this time 'Should I really tell him all this? He's a guard... he should arrest me.' she thought on the while; why did Esmeralda care to tell Phoebus about her mother? About her origins? I dream of oceans rolling on, they take my heart where I must come. Her eyes were almost asking him: 'Are you that place I must come to?' then she closed her eyes, as to regain her reason Andalusia mountain home. She finished before stopping her dance and singing the forth stanza.

    She sang it with malice as if warning him 'I'm free, it's my nature... I'm mine. I have to be.' well, in truth... who was Esmeralda telling it to? Phoebus or was it a remind? Esmeralda had to define herself two times now: Bohemienne the first time, that reality sounded like a curse: 'Why am I a gipsy? Why must I be an outcast?'; Bohemienne: the second time it sounded so sweet, as if she was caressing her nature, her past that let her meet with him. Now, for this last line she wore a seductive and playful smile Here's my fate in the lines of my hand. she sang, hiding her hands behind her back as if she didn't want to know her fate, did Esmeralda, as carefree as she was, care for destiny? No, at least not Diane's Esmeralda. She would have lived her life as it came.

    When Diane finished, her mind was a bit of a mess... did she manage to get an original Esmeralda? Sure enough it was the best she managed to act 'till now. Or so she hoped. She took off the Gipsy's mask and looked up to the orchestra with an insecure, clear gaze toward the brass section, there was almost no brass in that piece, it was the best audience she could get a response from: the orchestra didn't have to advise her or the others, that meant their expressions wouldn't be sugar coated. Her gaze indulged on a young one, with a trombone on his knees. Why? Easy: his were the first eyes she met.
     
  7. -Micah-

    As the first run-through came to a close, Micah tore his eyes from the woman on the stage and glanced over at Ioria, wondering how he'd taken to Diane. The sour look on the violinist's face spoke more volumes than anything the director said afterwards. He was comparing her to Lacey and finding her lacking. That bothered Micah, for Ioria had found the former female lead to be musically challenged and too full of herself to do anything about it. Had Diane really been that bad? As if reading his thoughts, Ioria glanced his way and Micah locked eyes with the man. The bi-coloured eyes silently asked across the pit what he'd thought and Micah shrugged his shoulders in an I don't know posture and shook his head. One thing was for sure, Diane wasn't a professional, not even a semi-professional. It wasn't really her fault, having only been in amateur dramatics up until this point. Her voice had so much potential, so much character to it. The acting, hopefully, would come in time.

    Diane took her spot on stage again as the conductor lifted his baton in readiness for leading them in the segment specified by the manager. Micah turned his attention back to the stage as Ioria's returned to his violin and gawked as the female grabbed the hem of her skirt and ripped. He swallowed hard and ran a hand over the back of his neck. 'Well, apparently I wasn't the only one who thought she needed to be more sensual,' he thought to himself wryly. This determination of hers to get into character? He liked it. Then the music began and Micah focused on her body movements and facial expressions this time instead of her voice. He just knew Ioria would pounce him for specifics after rehearsal and to be honest he didn't mind the excuse to stare.

    This time Esmeralda came out forcefully, as if Diane was throwing herself constantly into character. As if she was trailblazing the iconic role. But one thing caught Micah's attention more than any of the over-exaggerated expressions or tone of voice-- she was forming her character. This performance-- though it made him wince-- was real, whereas the last performance had felt two-dimensional. She knew to take a character and run with it. Coaching, encouragement, and practice. Micah was beginning to see the potential the director had seen in her. She could far, far surpass Lacey.

    It took him a second to clue-in that Diane had locked eyes on him after the song ended. Him! Micah Mooney, second trombone, no distinguishing characteristics that he knew of. Immediately, he sat up straight and averted his eyes before anything gave her any hint of his embarrassment. Had he really been staring that long? He risked a glance at her again. She was still looking at him, trying to... gauge his reaction? This was his chance! Micah lifted his hand just high enough for her to see it past the first trombone's music stand and gave her a so-so sign, then pointed to his throat and gave her a thumb's up. Honest, but complimentary. He smiled briefly.


    -Beatrice-

    Ugh, Ioria was right. Lacey would be better. Maybe that woman couldn't sing like this, but she could at least act consistently. Beatrice had no idea what was going on with the range of emotions on that stage. Hey, at least she was trying to get a feel for her character. That's what rehearsals were for, right? The teacher drew her eyes from Ioria's plainly disappointed face and turned them to her papers again.

    "Sultry, I like it," the director commented, gesturing to his leg to allude to her skirt. "Now, you have it starting to come out in your body language, but I want it on your face. Your voice. I want it coursing through Esmeralda's veins. She's playful and sultry. You gave us a devil-may-care vibe with that one, but don't forget the innocence. Did you feel the difference with that last try? I could really see you digging into your character. Did you feel it? I want you to grab hold of that feeling and dig deeper. Refine it. Let's go back again, but this time I only want the fourth stanza. Show me your Esmeralda, my dear."
     
  8. - Diane -

    The guy response was more or less what she thought it would be: it was a mediocre act but her voice was ok... not so bad overall. Still, it wasn't a response she liked. Not for the guy. he was so kind to answer her sincerly, she was disappointed in herself. So... her performance was still lacking... she needed to understand those emotions in a way she never thought of before... going pro was really harder than she thought... at least it seemed her voice was ok. Her body language wasn't good enough? 'How am I supposed to understand something I never felt?' she knew what she had to convey but, she was told not to convey but to be. How could she be someone else? How could she understand Esmeralda, how could she make the Gipsy her own?

    Diane forced a smile to the manager and prepared to retry the forth stanza 'More innocent. That makes it more... light?' her thoughts were unsure and that, somehow, reflected in her act. The result was something totally light, better than she'd give any credit for but, incredibly stiff and a bit wavering. Still better than the former ones. She was disappointed. She didn't like her performance and was ashamed to have let others hear and assist to such an act. She didn't even have the guts to look at that kind guy who was willing to share his thoughts with her... even if just with gestures.

    "I'm sorry sir... it was horrible... I'll try harder" she said. Shame tears building up at the corner of her eyes. How could anyone enjoy her act if she herself didn't like how it came out?

    - Ioria -

    Ioria decided to look at the girl as she acted again. He set his bow on the strings and smiled satisfied as she tore her dress 'Oooh, intresting... really. Is she trying to get into HER OWN Esmeralda? So soon? I think I'm starting to understand.' Would she be able to live up to her own hopes? His sharp, double colored gaze was on her during all the second performance. The overall was by all means better than the first try, then again she was way too tense. Was it really inexperience? The man hadn't seen any other act from her and so, he had nothing to compare but 'Oooh, I like that look in her eyes: that torn emotion of wanting to surrender to heart but keeping reason on top...'

    He stopped playing his violin as the piece came to an end. The performance was still stiff and raw... but he liked the basic and general idea the little one had. 'This is work for Bea... oh if it's so...' he thought with a jolly smile. He knew the woman would be against it... at least at first. It wasn't so difficult to talk her into coaching someone for the sake of a musical. She would frown but nothing a good coffee couldn't cure. 'She'll like it so much to boss that little one around as she pleases... can't wait to see her...' his thoughts were cut short. He was still looking at the girl and apparently, she was looking at... Micah? Really? And 'Noooo... don't you tell me... Micah, you rascal...' did he charm her?

    As the man was ready to take the mental note to laught at him for his conquest something suggested him that something was off. Diane's look was interested, true, in Micah, again true, BUT... her eyes... her face... she was asking something not expecting something as for Micah... oh he noticed her, mh? He averted his eyes? What... was he getting slightly red? 'No... wait... I had it all wrong from the start?' The man smirked amused by Micah's, now answering with gestures toward the girl, reaction. 'This will be oh so interesting, Bea... oh so interesting'

    Ioria listened to the manager's words and looked at the girl: she seemed confused. Nonetheless she smiled, or tried to, and tried again. This time her perfomance came out more lighthearted, sure stiff and raw, but light. It was good that she could improve so quickly. But she was... unsatisfied? Maybe a break...? 'At least I have to say... she has far more potential than Lacey. And we have Bea to make it bloom.' He was totally enjoying his Music (and not only)-fangirl-side. He was totally enjoying his plans for the near future.
     
    #8 Nay'ar, Oct 14, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2014
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  9. -Beatrice-

    The music teacher knew what to expect of this next performance and buried herself into those dreaded exams. Esmeralda was too light, but that energy was just what Beatrice needed to counterbalance the depression of red x's. Although, she had to admit, with every performance the girl was increasingly better at drawing out her character and Beatrice was looking forward to the finished product. But the leading lady didn't seem to be so optimistic, in fact, Beatrice could almost swear there were tears glittering in the poor girl's eyes. The teacher placed a large C+ on the current exam and set it aside, her attention now solely directed on the scene in front of her.

    "I'm sorry, sir... it was horrible... I'll try harder."

    "Esmeralda, my dear, that was much better. Could you feel the freedom of your character? I could see it starting to bloom. Now, we don't want to wear you out, so you refresh yourself with a glass of water and we'll give the others a turn to shine. Thank you for your performance, darling. Now, Maestro? We will switch to The Age of the Cathedrals to give your musicians something more entertaining to play. Gringoire? Ah, there you are, are you all micked up? Good. Let's have a run through, please."


    -Micah-

    First rehearsals had a way of droning on and on in a way that subsequent rehearsals never did. Every main and supporting character had their "epic" song to perform to give the director an idea of how he needed to work with his actors to get them to perform the way he wanted. Diane wasn't the only one who needed multiple tries to demonstrate what she had to offer to the director. In Micah's opinion, Phoebus needed even more work than she did. Diane's Esmeralda had simply started as flat. Phoebus was a stick figure in comparison. In no way was he biased. Nope, not Micah.

    An eternity passed before the director was satisfied enough to call it a night and remind everyone of the second rehearsal in two days. Relief flooded the trombonist's veins and he eagerly swabbed out his horn and dismantled the instrument into his case. He couldn't wait to hear Ioria's and Beatrice's opinions on Diane's performance. Trombone locked snugly inside the black case, Micah heaved it over his shoulder and side-stepped between music stands and chairs to the string section of the pit. The third violin vacated just as Micah approached and he dropped himself into the chair beside his friend, trombone case balanced precariously across his knees.

    "Evening, Ioria. You and your girlfriend still up for coffee after as per usual?" he asked with a teasing grin.
     
  10. - Ioria -

    "Evening, Ioria. You and your girlfriend still up for coffee after as per usual?" Micah had a strange sort of teasing grin on his face "Mh? Oh, Lil' Micah! Evening to you... barely made it in time uh? Oh, and you mean Beatrice? God... why do you all keep on saying it? We're not an item you know?" answered a slightly tired Ioria in a friendly tone. From the time he met Beatrice everyone always assumed she was his girlfriend or something along those lines. At first they would grow red but, with time, the two learned to laugh it off as simple friendly teasing. He locked the case and made a step back to take it, tripping on the step just behind him. He fell on his butt. Half on a step, half on another with a depressed look. "Ouch... and I managed not to trip all day long..." he sighed looking at Micah with a defeated smile, at least his violin was ok. "Back to business" he started getting up and dusting his trousers "Yep... and I think I'll owe her a very good one... but..." he interrupted himself to search for her and weave her a come up here, then he went on "... what do you think of the newcomer? You know Diane Something-or-another..." there; the lurk was thrown while Beatrice was still approaching. Had his eyes deceived him?
     
  11. -Micah-

    "God... why do you all keep on saying it? We're not an item you know?"

    "Sure, sure," Micah replied with a dismissive wave of his hand. "That's what they always say and then next thing you know, they're married with three kids." The trombonist stood up as Ioria did, but unlike the violinist he did not sit back down right away. "First trip of the day? Impressive," he joked as Ioria sighed. He was about to offer his hand to help the slightly older man up but then remembered how picky Ioria was about anything touching his hands. Micah picked up his trombone case in one hand and stuffed his other in his jeans pocket instead.

    "... what do you think of the newcomer? You know Diane Something-or-another..."

    "Diane Silverpeak?"

    How did he know Ioria would pick up on that little exchange? The guy was a romantic at heart and sniffed out every possible match he could get his hands on... except his own. Micah sighed. "She's got a bewitching voice. And her acting? She's a lot better when she's more comfortable in her part. A lot better. I think she'll do just fine."

    Oh shoot, he'd just admitted there was a prior knowledge of her there. 'Idiot.' Micah braced himself for the teasing that was sure to follow, but thankfully, Beatrice was sweeping in to save the day... He deliberately turned his back to Ioria and grinned at Beatrice as she approached.

    "Evening, Beatrice! We didn't bore you to tears, did we?"


    -Beatrice-

    The woman was already packed up and on her way over to him when Ioria backed up and subsequently fell on his rump. Beatrice bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing. Oh, that klutz! He really was adorable. She returned his wave with a raised hand and clutched her bag to her side. With only a few easy, graceful strides she cleared the remaining distance to the two men.

    "Evening, Beatrice! We didn't bore you to tears, did we?"

    "Evening, fellows. Tears? Heavens no! You kept me in constant stitches," she laughed and gave Ioria a sly wink. "Especially you. Did you have a nice trip?"
     
  12. - Ioria -

    'Oh oh, lil' Micah knew her from before uh?' Well, well if it wasn't good news. Ioria threw him an evil grin before welcoming Beatrice "Especially you. Did you have a nice trip?" he smiled as slyly as her "Not bad, Bea, the moquette was quite confortable indeed. Thanks for your concern." he said jokingly formal. He took his case and turned toeard her, taking her hand and lightly kissing it "Good evening, my lady" he said looking straight into her eyes. He then laughed "How about we all go taking a good coffee somewhere? C'mon... it's on me tonight, I'd like to discuss something with you two."

    Ioria wanted to keep a mysterious feel so he talked no further while going down the stairs with slow and calculated steps so that he wouldn't trip again. He bowed in respect when he passed the maestro and waved lazily to some others collegues packing their instruments as he reached the end of the stairs. He turned to them and reached out a hand "My lady..."

    - Diane -

    Diane finished changing quickly and got out her room, her big, red bluethooth headphones on her ears, and her Ipod running Esmeralda's songs in more than English alone. She wanted to get that smooth feel that the Italian one gave out but the French one's power and English's melody... how could she combine the three "Damn it... My fair lady was much easier" well... she didn't know, yet but HER OWN Esmeralda would be something mesmerizing... that much she knew.

    Her mind flew back on that trombone guy...she'd better thank him properly before going home. He helped her after all. Diane got to the entrance and waited leaning on the wall, looking at the river of lights flashing before her, waiting for the boy to get out, hoping not to have missed him yet. Her mind lost in music.
     
  13. -Beatrice-

    A smug smirk crossed her features as Ioria bent over her hand, not for any other reason than the fact that she knew Ioria worshiped the very ground she walked on. Partly because of how she walked on said ground, but mostly because she was one of the few people he'd ever played with who could evoke complimenting emotions from her instrument. Whether on bassoon or piano, Beatrice could make a grown man cry, and she had-- though whether she should really count Ioria or not often tugged on her conscience.

    She didn't mind the fact that her musical prowess was what drew the man into such a familiar way of interacting with her. She soaked in the attentions and eagerly reciprocated them, for her own delight in the man stemmed from the magic he could weave from his violin.

    "How about we all go taking a good coffee somewhere? C'mon... it's on me tonight, I'd like to discuss something with you two."

    "Ioria, darling, we've already come to the decision that you'd prefer to play second violin, no matter how lovely your name would look in the program next to First Violin," Beatrice chuckled teasingly, easily following in step behind the tall man until he turned to offer her his hand. She slipped her arm around his elbow without even thinking about it, so used was she to walking this way with the man. Though they might never admit it to anyone, simply because to those who knew them it was completely obvious, having her on his arm to counterbalance his clumsiness almost always kept him on his feet.

    They made it the rest of the way up the theatre aisle without incident... until they reached the main doors and found the young gypsy waiting just outside. Beatrice glanced up in surprise. The girl seemed to be waiting for someone. Beatrice's brow rose and she shot a questioning glance towards Ioria. Had she missed something while nose deep in papers?


    -Micah-

    There was only one thing that ran through his mind at Ioria's last comment, picking apart the newcomer's performance. Talking about her with Ioria was one thing, the guy could tease any way he wanted to, draw the silliest of conclusions-- though in this case he'd be right-- and Micah wouldn't be offended. But to risk Beatrice's knowledge of the blunder he'd dropped on Ioria's ear? With both of the hopeless romantics on his case, he'd never hear the end of it.

    With a sigh, he shifted the awkward case in his grip and trudged after the laughing pair. He almost didn't notice the slim form hovering by the theatre entrance as they passed through the door. It was only by looking up in time to keep himself from bumping into Ioria and Beatrice that he saw her at all. As if on cue, his cheeks began to glow with a subtle warmth and he swallowed thickly. She was right there! Right in front of him! Waiting for someone, sure. Maybe even waiting for a significant other to pick her up, but Diane was standing right there. He just had to say something, anything. Get her attention somehow. He had a reason to, right? She'd singled him out during her performance. They could talk about that. Yeah.

    He cleared his throat and approached her hesitantly, his heart picking up in his chest like a caffeinated monkey on a timpani. "Hey." Holy--- did his voice just crack? He inwardly cringed but waited with baited breath for her reply. If she graced him with a reply at all.
     
    • Love Love x 1
  14. - Diane -

    Diane was still listening to her music and had closed her eyes to better listen to it. Not really a good idea provided she had to look for someone. her back was still on the wall, a white cloud after every breath. It was starting to get cold. The headphones were shutting her off from the world: no passers-by, no cars, no strange sounds from anywhere...

    "Hei." said a voice not far from her... she opened her eyes and started looking for the voice and there he was: her trombone guy... much nearer than she thought. She jumped back a bit surprised, the voice wasn't just near, it was right there! She was listening to music after all. "Oh, ehm... hei, uhm I mean... good evening, I'm Silverpeak... the shabby Esmeralda" she said quikly in a low and a bit embarassed voice as she made her headphones hang from her neck: a woman voice was singing the Italian version of Esmeralda's 'Ave Maria' and those soothing, hardly audible notes could break free from the hearing tool. "Thank goodness you're still here, eheh, I didn't know what to do if you were already gone..." her amber gaze softened as she smiled at him in genuine relief. "I wanted to thank you for your opinion earlier... well maybe you don't even remember it but... thanks anyway." she made a step back, got a strand of hair behind her ear and crossed her hands behind her back.

    - Ioria -

    "I know, I know Bea... and it was YOU that decided so... it wasn't really my decision" answered Ioria to the woman's sentence. It was true. Bea suggested him to take Second Violin for a reason but... he surely liked the idea of being first... of course if his second could do his job without getting ahead of his score... how could someone with so little ear for melodies become so important to get first violin on an orchestra? Who was the complete idiot that gave him the degree? "You're the only one that can cover his flows on the while, Ioria... you can't be First Violin... he'd mess up pretty much everything and, worse than worst he'd confuse the other strings..." she was right and he voluteered for second.

    "Hei." Ioria smiled, was Micah that into it? Come on... his voice was shaking! "Oh, ehm... hei, uhm I mean... good evening, I'm Silverpeak... the shabby Esmeralda" shabby...? Inexperienced maybe but shabby... never. Lacey was shabby... and vulgar (but that wasn't something he liked talking about).
    The man pinched Beatrice lightly, to get her attention, just to not at the two. His eyes on flame clearly said: 'Don't you think they'd look good together? Because I DO think so...' he smirked evilish and covered his mouth as he laughed softly watching the scene. He recognised the music coming from the headphones. Was she still listening to the songs? And wait... was it Italian? Did she know Italian? This girl was getting more intresting by the minute... he could tease Micah as much as he wanted... and he could have talked Bea into coaching her with much more ease now... he grinned as his brain gears started plotting evil plans.
     
  15. -Micah-

    "Oh, ehm... hey, uhm I mean... good evening, I'm Silverpeak... the shabby Esmeralda...I wanted to thank you for your opinion earlier... well maybe you don't even remember it but... thanks anyway."

    She came out here specifically to talk to him? Really? His eyes widened and he could feel the monkey pick up the tempo in his chest. She'd sought him out twice in one evening?

    "Whoa, whoa, whoa, who said anything about shabby?" Micah grimaced at his enthusiastic rebuttal and brought his hand out of his pocket to rub the back of his neck as it grew hotter under his collar. "But thank-- I mean-- you're welcome. Any time. I think... I think you were pretty good up there, actually. I mean, everyone has to start somewhere, right? No one's perfect right from the get-go. And it's your first time in a semi-professional gig, yeah?"

    Crap, now she'd know he was stalking her. Or wait, had the director said something about her being new? Yeah, he had, hadn't he? He was safe. Micah swallowed and offered her a faint smile. Gosh, was he sweating? 'Eww.'


    -Beatrice-

    Obeying her escort, Beatrice stepped off to the side and watched the exchange between the shy, awkward trombonist and the equally unsure of herself gypsy, a small smile playing about her lips. They were too adorable. Sickeningly sweet. And she couldn't help but nod at the look in Ioria's eyes and raise a finger to her lips in a gesture to shush him. Young love couldn't bud if Big Brother was heard snickering nearby.

    'Two months,' she mouthed her bet to Ioria. If they weren't a couple in two months' time, she was no judge of character. And Beatrice had a record of judging people extremely well. She turned her attention back to said future couple, waiting to see where this conversation was headed.
     
    • Love Love x 1
  16. - Ioria -

    'Two months, uh? We'll see...' his inner fangirl was urging him to tease the soon-to-be couple (as he already decided) in some way or another. Micah managed to trip his tongue more than Ioria did on his feet and the man couldn't help a grin to open on his lips 'Should I make her join us?' was it even a real question? How cute could lil' Micah be when embarassed? How much would Beatrice follow his lead? The man glanced at her partner in crime as Micah finished making a fool out of himself, then squeezed her arm and smiled, before turning toward the cub (as he was used to call younger beings) who was thanking and turning away "I can second Micah, on that. You're free now right, missy? Oh, pardon me, I'm Ioria Stride, second violin. We were going to get a good coffee somewhere near here. Would you join... pretty please?" he asked in an apologetic winked pose. Well... it wasn't like their talking didn't concern her, anyway.

    He was sure she hadn't anything better to do: she was dressed in casual clothes, she couldn't possibly be waiting to meet someone. She was waiting for Micah: she had time to spare (she could have done it the day after); she was still listening to work-related music, she really had nothing better to do... poor little unfortunate soul. Ioria waited for her reply and looked at Micah before talking again "And don't worry about the time. should it become too late, our Micah can bring you home. There's no way I'd let such a cub go home alone late at night." she would have accepted right? He really hoped so. He squeezed again Beatrice's arm to make her convince the little one if she didn't want to join them, smiling at the youngest.

    - Diane -

    The girl listened to those awkward words: his tongue was tripping somehow, but he was complimenting her and she was grateful for this. Diane blushed softly and covered her mouth with a couple of fingers as she giggled: "I don't really think I deserve all these kind words but, I'll accept them gratefully. Thank you aaand, yes it is my first time in a semi-pro but that isn't an excuse. I can't be lazy just because I'm the newest, don't you think?" she stepped back and turned but then, the tall man's voice made her stop and face him.

    As soon as she turned, she was overwhelmed by those clear, different colored eyes. She never knew or saw that phenomenon before and couldn't help being startled by it. "I can second Micah, on that. You're free now right, missy? Oh, pardon me, I'm Ioria Stride, second violin. We were going to get a good coffee somewhere near here. Would you join... pretty please?" whoa... was he really the second violin? She heard it a lot that day. When melody and harmony in the strings weren't matching something made them abide and it was the second violin. She respected it a lot and now, the same man was asking her to go take a coffee somewhere with them... how could she possibly say 'no'? Even if... "I would gladly accept but... you know I don't really like dark places... and... I'll have to go back home" but that person came to her rescue again "And don't worry about the time. should it become too late, our Micah can bring you home. There's no way I'd let such a cub go home alone late at night.". She smiled and looked at Micah. She finally knew his name "If it's not a burden" she said looking down at her feet.
     
    • Love Love x 1
  17. -Beatrice-

    "We were going to get a good coffee somewhere near here. Would you join... pretty please?"

    "Oh yes, you must join us, Miss Silverpeak," Beatrice added in her two cents, returning Ioria's squeeze with a nudge in his side and a warning look. He was being too eager and might possibly scare off their prey if he wasn't careful. However, it seemed like Diane, though timid, wasn't intimidated that easily and for that Beatrice was extremely glad. With Micah's blundering and vocal clumsiness he needed all the help he could get.

    "I would gladly accept but... you know I don't really like dark places... and... I'll have to go back home"

    "Have no fear, dark places are not on our agenda tonight, my dear. Besides, it is only right that we welcome the newest member of the troupe with a proper interrogation," Beatrice said as she took a few steps closer to the girl. She paused a beat before flashing the young girl a warm smile. "I jest, my dear. But you really should join us. Ioria is paying."

    "And don't worry about the time. should it become too late, our Micah can bring you home. There's no way I'd let such a cub go home alone late at night."

    Her laughter rang out before the school teacher could help herself. Ah, this man was such a tease! She turned her mirth-filled eyes upon the blushing trombonist and asked point-blank, "Well, Mick? Would you be willing to escort our fair leading lady home if she came for coffee with us?"


    -Micah-

    All during this exchange, Micah found himself staring open-mouthed at his supposed friends, blanching and colouring with each poignant jab so artfully landed. Diane didn't know his friends, wouldn't pick up on the subliminal messages, but Micah felt the full brunt of their teasing and the worst part was he could do nothing about it. Hopefully Diane would say no, hopefully she knew better than to go out with strangers for coffee. To his relief, she seemed to be declining, but at another word from Ioria, suddenly she was agreeing to it.

    No!

    "Well, Mick? Would you be willing to escort our fair leading lady home if she came for coffee with us?"

    Micah slammed his palm against his forehead and closed his eyes. Why didn't they just line him up next to the theatre wall and gun him down? He wouldn't even beg for a blindfold. Risking a glance towards Diane, he was relieved to see that she was looking down at her feet and unable to see his agitations. Dropping his hand to his side, Micah sighed in defeat. "Sure, I can do that. We walking or...." He trailed off and grimaced. Walking, of course they were walking down the block. With Beatrice and Ioria arm-in-arm, he'd be forced to share the sidewalk with Diane. "We're walking, aren't we? All right, let's go already."

    Swinging his trombone case over his shoulder, Micah headed over to his car to drop off the bulky instrument before rejoining the group. Gah, sometimes he could just kill that man and his smooth-talking counterpart.
     
  18. - Diane -

    Was Micah troubled by the issue of getting her back home? "Sorry to be a burden Micah, don't worry, I'll just take a coffee quikly and go back home alone" she said smiling "That way it won't be too late", she was playing with her blonde hair, nervously before turning and following the older ones. "So, where are we going? Oh and, it's a pleasure to meet the one who adapted the melody to the harmony when the first violin messed up!" then she turned to Beatrice and added "And it's a pleasure to meet his better half too, of course"

    Diane thought about her behaviour... didn't it sound as if she wanted to go because someone else was paying? Her face turned redder than a tomato while she hurried a "O-of course I'll pay for myself, I don't want to impose on someone I just met... I'm sorry if I sounded ahead of me..." she stopped to look at her feet, conquered by embarrassment. 'They'll think I'm totally crazy'

    - Ioria -

    'Got you!' thought Ioria grinning at Micah before turning to lead the way "I know how much you like that place, Bea so..." in the mean time, the cub was apologising again... was Micah that dumb? Was that a way to waste a chance? This time older brother wouldn't have interfered. 'I make him chances and he just goes to shatter them...'

    "So, where are we going? Oh and, it's a pleasure to meet the one who adapted the melody to the harmony when the first violin messed up!" the cub had turned quikly to them... was she that embarassed? Wait... had she heard his accomodations? She didn't care to point out about Mr. First Violin? He glanced at Beatrice while a warm smile as she went on. "Today, we're going to Emerald Cafè, and we're not an item... even if she IS the better of us" he said winking at the girl.

    "O-of course I'll pay for myself, I don't want to impose on someone I just met... I'm sorry if I sounded ahead of me..." Ioria ruffled her hair gently. Strange move from his as he usually avoided contact with others expecially hand contact. "Don't worry cub, no one was thinking like that" he raised her face and smiled. "Come on now! To the Emerald Cafè we goooo!" he stated raising a fist to the sky. He then led the way to the place. Fortunately there was a free table so they were able to sit right away. "I'll get the usual" he decided with a smile without opening the chart. He wanted to wait for everyone to order and have their drink before starting his plan. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard to talk Bea into it...
     
  19. -Beatrice-

    "And it's a pleasure to meet his better half too, of course."
    "Today, we're going to Emerald Cafè, and we're not an item... even if she IS the better of us."


    Beatrice nodded her head towards the girl in greeting, a smirk playing about her lips as Ioria protested being taken as a couple. She didn't mind, honestly, and never bothered correcting people when they assumed this point. She and Ioria knew the terms they stood on and that was all that mattered to her. But Ioria, on the other hand, he always felt the need to clarify for mysterious reasons of his own. It was childish, but adorable all at the same time.

    With a shout and a fist pump, said childish man tugged her towards the cafe like an eager puppy on a leash. What was this man so enthralled with? Beatrice easily kept up with his pace, keeping her arm securely fastened around his elbow, and only cast a look over her shoulder every once in a while to see how the future couple was making out.

    Before long, they were arriving at the cafe and Beatrice's attention was then directed towards finding a table that could seat at least four, which she did very easily and pointed it out to Ioria. She ordered her mocha latte once everyone situated themselves and propped her elbows on the table, resting her chin on her folded hands.

    "Well, Ioria? What all important topic has you bursting with enthusiasm and bribing us with coffee?" she innocently inquired.


    -Micah-

    "Sorry to be a burden Micah, don't worry, I'll just take a coffee quickly and go back home alone," Diane was saying with a smile when he sauntered back, "that way it won't be too late."

    "No, it's really okay, I don't mind," Micah protested, his hand moving behind his head to hang around his neck in subtle agitation. Gah, he was nervous! "We can leave when you want... as early as you want." He threw a glaring threat towards Ioria, but the man wasn't paying attention. That was probably on purpose.

    The walk down the block to the cafe was one of the most awkward moments Micah could remember. He said very little, his hands stuffed in his pockets and his eyes trained on the ground as he walked next to the adorable, blonde girl. What could he say that hadn't already been said? And any attempt to start a conversation about herself would only be ammunition for the dynamic pair waltzing ahead of them.

    Relief settled in his bones as they reached the cafe and Beatrice pointed out an empty table along the side wall. He pulled out a chair for Diane, his pretty much constant blush creeping a little higher on his neck to touch his cheeks, and obligingly sat down next to her when she was properly seated. Let no one complain of him not being a gentleman, even in such an embarrassing situation!

    "Cafe Americano," he murmured to the waitress and passed the menu to Diane, "accidentally" brushing her hand with his as he transferred the paper into her care. Micah didn't need those quotes, for it truly was an accident, but Ioria or Beatrice would insist air quotes were appropriate. And who was he to argue? Turning his attention to Ioria, he waited to hear what had the older man excited.
     
  20. - Ioria -

    Ioria looked at the three of them as the girl ordered an espresso and turned toward him as well. They were in his hands. "You know, Beatrice, dear, usually I'd go around it" he said putting some sugar in his tea "I'd go round and round and round" he added while mixing them in round, slow moves "But... oh, thank you, the cake's mine, where was I? Oh yes... but not this time" he grinned as a demon king would and took a spoon of his chocolate cheese cake, putting it in his mouth, then he pointed at the youngest one with it and continued: "I want you to shape her, Beatrice." he said dead serious taking a sip of tea. He looked at every single one of them with his strange gaze. He knew that his different colored eyes could make people feel unconfortable and in school he used to be lonely for that reason, until he met Beatrice who seemed more interested in his music than he himself was.

    "I can take the melody part, you'll teach, she's a fast learner and you saw it too. And Micah can be the third party who listens and gives tips here and there. You know how good his ears are, dont you?" the man smiled at Beatrice. An innocent smile with a spoon of cake in his mouth. 'Now I just have to convince the little ones...' he turned to Diane, inquiring her answer and Micah's.

    - Diane -

    Diane smiled a thank you to the waiter and sniffed her espresso. She always loved that aroma, that full flavour a good black espresso had. She put it back on it's plate to let it cool down a bit and took a glance of what the others had ordered as Ioria got his cake... was really tea and cake his 'usual'? Beatrice seemed to like sweet things too and as for Micah... she guessed he liked weaker flavours but not sweet things. 'So he doesn't like sweet or strong flavors... I'll take note of that' wait what? wasn't he the younger of the three? Why--- "I want you to shape her, Beatrice." "Beg your pardon?" she was utterly surprised and almost let the cup fall. He looked at her with those eyes in search of an answer and she put down the cup before it could fall for real "I can't impose on you more than this... and I know you all have better things to do than loosing you time with me" she started playing with her hair stealing glances of Micah and Beatrice before adding "I mean... of course I'd be honored to but... I don't want to be a burden" she ran through the sentence covering her eyes with her hands, one almost could SEE a pair of fluffy ears flatten on her head.
     
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