Mon. 12/16/2250 – By Nicole Adams
Aelita was pumped. Her meeting with Vander had gone swimmingly and she could begin part two of her plan. Sitting on a bench in front of her electric piano, which she’d set up in the Auditorium, she waited for the librarian to show up. Which he’d better or she had no qualms about going to hunt him down. Everything was coming together nicely and she could only hope it would continue to do so in time for the rapidly approaching Masquerade.
The maiden had just begun to tap the bluetooth speaker against her hand, impatience rising rapidly, when the door opened and the very person she’d been waiting for entered, his amber gaze flicking to Aelita with a quiet, resigned sigh. He made his way to the stage, climbed the steps, and paused. He had just opened his mouth to speak when Aelita beat him to it, bouncing to her feet with a grin. “Nice of you to show up, Calver! Thought I was gonna have to come find you for a minute.”
“No, I’m here. What did you want to do?” He eyed the little speaker.
“Have you been practicing the song? Do you know it?” Aelita asked, blue eyes resting on the man’s face and she broke into a grin as he nodded.
“Yes, every day. I think I know it well enough by now.” He was less sure of his actual ability to sing in front of people, to Rhea herself, when he still stumbled over words and could hardly get through one conversation without blushing like some kid with a crush. “How are you planning to disguise me? You mentioned hair dye? I’m not sure-”
“It’ll work!” Aelita nearly shrieked, cutting him off. “Contacts, hair dye, and the fact that she has no idea you can sing, let alone that you would. She might suspect, she’s not stupid, but you’ll have an air of mystery to you and all you have to do is attract her, get her attention on you, and then you can go off and do whatever you want afterward. Personally, I feel that you should just poof, leave her hanging, and then come back when she’s least expecting it and let her in on it.”
Staring off into a corner, rambling as she described the scenario, Adrian shook his head and she blinked at him as she came back and then scoffed. “Do it your way, I guess. Only we should do it soon before Blackhell makes his move.” A statement designed to prick at the man and Aelita was pleased to see him frown, eyes darkening at the thought of Rhea and Ross being together- as if Rhea would do such a thing. From what he’d seen, Rhea and Ross would never work.
“Okay then! I changed up the song a bit- tell me what you think.” Pressing the replay button on the piano, the first notes rang out into the empty room, loud and geared toward getting people’s attention, as well as shutting them up. Not the first notes of the song she had chosen, but the intro to the title song; then it flowed into the notes Adrian had come to know well, and he gave a nod. “So all you need to do,” Aelita continued, as she lowered the volume on the piano, “is find Vander, which shouldn’t be hard even though she’s tiny. Keep an eye on her and know where she is. I’ll signal to you when I’m ready, and then it’s all up to you.”
He was definitely feeling queasy now and he couldn’t help but think of all the ways he could mess this up. “What if she’s not there?” he asked, trying hard not to panic.
“She will be, she’s supposed to chaperone. I made sure. Don’t worry about it, Calver. And if you mess this up, I will never forgive you.”
“No pressure,” he muttered in reply, and then took a breath and squared his shoulders. He was committed and as unsure as he was about the whole thing, he was at least prepared to try.
“Okay, I’ve been working out some choreography. Do keep in mind that Rhea’s shorter than I am, so it’ll be different, but there’s nobody short enough you could practice with if you want to keep this a secret.” Reaching out to grasp one of his hands, Aelita directed his other to her waist, her grip tightening as he tried to pull away. “Give it a rest! I’m helping you, you dork, and it’s not like you’re jumping me. God, how are you still like this at your age? There are scores of 18-year-olds who are less shy than you.”
Thus encouraged, or bullied, Adrian let his hand rest on Aelita’s waist, and she set her free hand on his shoulder. “There, this is how the position works. Now follow me, and do try not to step on my feet. And don’t look down!” Speaking the last just as Adrian dropped his gaze; he lifted his head again, looking more nervous than ever. “Slide your feet if you need to, but you’ll concentrate too hard if you’re looking. You want this to look effortless. Follow my lead and pay attention, you’ll be doing what I do for the real thing.”
Taking the first step, guiding the man with her, it didn’t take long for Adrian to put all his focus on the steps and less on the fact that he was dancing with a student. Aelita counted off the steps, then instructed him to do the same. For the first half of the practice, she led, guiding the librarian in the waltz over the stage in time to the song. Wincing the few times that he did step on her feet, but ignoring his apologies and assuring him that he would learn.
When the song ended, they pulled apart for the moment it took Aelita to reset the song, and then they were back at it. For the next few plays, she led, pushing Adrian to sing as well and making sure that he at least knew most of the song. Then she switched roles, made him lead, pushing him to get more comfortable with guiding her to the pace of the song and pleased as he seemed to grow more relaxed as their practice continued. This was working out so well and she couldn’t see how it could fail.
They broke off as his watch beeped eleven, her curfew. Grinning, Aelita turned to her piano and shut it off, packing it away as she spoke. “Not bad for the first time. We’ll need to do more, though. You’re still focusing on it too much, I can see you counting under your breath. I’ll drop you another note for the next practice. And keep on with that song, you missed and mixed up a few words. See ya later, Calver! Oh, and don’t forget the hair dye. Black should work well. We’ll need a lot of it for you, though. Three boxes should be enough. Don’t let me down!”
And on that last note, the girl ran down the steps of the stage, out the door, and towards the Eagle’s House, leaving Adrian to make his way to his own home, his mind full with the lesson and singing the song to himself as he went.