Meanwhile, Drai slipped silently into the ladies’ restroom, glad to find that there was only one door shut and locked. He raised his hand to knock, and heard a sigh.
“Drai Nehn, you didn’t need to follow me,” she said softly, and the door opened to reveal her pale face. Luckily, she hadn’t been crying.
“I was worried,” he said, frowning slightly. “This was supposed to be a good night. It kinda got messy, but–”
“Stop,” she said with a tiny shake of her head, and sighed. “No, it is a good night. It’s good. I’m happy, Drai. I’m very very happy.”
“Then why are you hiding out in here?” he asked pointedly.
The brunette sighed and walked over to the sink, peering at her reflection. “I’m so very different, now. So much more than I was then. I… I look exactly the same, Drai, but my eyes… they say everything. And her showing up here, on this night… how can I ever expect any sort of happiness to last?”
She turned to face him as he frowned, shaking her head when he opened his mouth. It shut. “You’ll die,” she said, with quiet acceptance. “You’ll die, and so will my boys, and Ruby, and Wolf, and Medic… and so will Lucy. As she is now. Maybe she’ll be reincarnated again. Maybe I’ve been given extra punishment, to watch her live, grow and die again, over and over… I don’t know.
“But I know she’s mortal. She’s human. She’s a little girl, twisted and changed by what the world is today. And I’m… still the same.”
“How are you more and the same?” the Arab asked in complete bewilderment.
Arana chuckled. “I’m here, I’m now… and I’m then too. I shouldn’t be. No one should be.” She sighed and pursed her lips. “When I was… a young woman, my little sister got married to Charles Carpenter. You remember me telling you that?”
Drai nodded. “Yeah. You were her Maid of Honor,” he said, recalling.
“They had a baby, and it killed her. She was born sterile-”
The door suddenly opened, the noise rushing over the last few soft-spoken words, and an old woman gasped and stopped. “Young man! What are you doing in this room! Out, out! Before I call security!” she said, shooing the flabbergasted Drai out the door with both hands.
He cast Arana one last helpless glance before the door shut between them, and the old woman turned to fuss over the brunette. “Oh dear, was he bothering you! Would you like me to call security, sweetheart?” the woman asked, coming over to fret before her.
Arana sighed and caught both of her hands. She smiled at her. “No, he wasn’t bothering me, but thank you very much for your concern. I wish you peace.” She released the woman’s hands, leaving her speechless as she swept from the room.
“Look you two, I don’t know what those two said to you, but I’m fine!”
Ruby shared a glance with her partner across the thick expanse of Medic’s chest and twined her arm a little more firmly through the doctor’s.
On the other side, Wolf replied. “We were told that crowds make you claustrophobic.”
“Fucking lie.” The doctor snorted. “I don’t have a problem with crowds. No, my problem was that Triad coming up and boasting and throwing out his peacock feathers like they were made of gold.”
Simon didn’t have a response to that, though the tension fairly sang through his silence.
Instead, the three of them turned back to the main hall where the confrontation had been, with Ruby wondering if the next time she saw Chang, would she be able to fire a double-barreled shot-gun up his ass.
Arana approached her waiting group and smiled at them. “Sorry. Young lady in the loo,” she said.
“Young?” Drai echoed. “Arana, your age is showing again.”
“Oh… Sorry.” She accepted his arm when he offered and smiled at the others. “You should have Ruby, Wolf and Medic come. We’ll need to find our box, soon…”
Svorak smirked and jerked his chin to the side. “On their way.”
“Yes, and we should be moving,” the blond added, stepping away from the half embrace they shared. He paused though, noting the faint frown on the blue-eyed merc brow, and sighed, saying, “Get off the wall and escort me properly, you oaf.”
Arana’s mouth curved into a smile. Her Boys were so adorable.
The smile that spread across the merc in black was part pride, part appreciation, and a good part predatory. In two steps, Svorak was arm in arm with Christoph and turning to address three last to arrive team members. “We’re heading in. Lady, you’ve got the lead,” he said to Arana.
She positively beamed with happiness at that, and gave a curtsey. “Of course. Thank you.” She lead the way inside, only glancing once at the ticket stub Drai showed her, before she found the stairs leading to their box. There were seats set up for them, electronic fans if it got too hot… and a service boy.
The Arabian assassin whistled, impressed. “Wow. You guys really went all out, huh? Kitty, you are one lucky girl.”
She was smiling slightly. “I know,” she murmured.
The sweet moment was spoiled by the stomping behind them as Medic made his way up the stairs.
“Well, get your asses into the chairs,” he told them. “The show is going to start soon. And you!” He rounded on the boy in uniform who quailed at his hard tone. “I want everyone to have water available to them and I don’t mean a measly cup, I mean glasses and three pitchers. So get moving!” The boy stumbled back before fleeing from the balcony. “And walk!” Medic roared after him.
Arana tapped Medic on the shoulder, and when he turned, she gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Sit down before you give yourself a heart attack, dear. The evening is about relaxing.”
Drai snorted. “Yeah. You look like a tomato.”
Medic sniffed. “And you look like a coffee bean.”
The Arab’s brows lifted. “That would be Cyclops, not me,” he replied mildly, and winced when Arana pinched him viciously. “Oww…”
“Sit. Both of you. Now,” she said firmly. “And enjoy yourselves.”
A few seats to the side, the Boys were already seated and watching the show. The one that was being performed on their balcony to be exact. “Medic, sit down already,” Christoph said exasperated. “We’ll get our water, the show will be good, there will be a break for dinner, and everything is planned and paid for. Just allow it to proceed.”
Svorak chuckled. “And save yourself some pain.”
The doctor took a breath to retort but caught the look in Arana’s eyes. “Humph,” he said instead, and sat down on the far end. Ruby and Wolf silently followed, taking the seats next to the grumbling doctor.
Arana relaxed and smiled, moving over to sit next to Christoph, with Drai beside her. Svorak was of course on the blond’s other side. “Thank you,” she murmured softly to her Boys, and gave them a tiny smile.
The blond blinked and looked down at her as his partner leaned forward to talk over a chest clad in white. “Thank us after the evening is done,” Svorak murmured, thinking of Chang and Lucy. “I kinda guessed at the show.”
“You’re welcome,” Christoph interjected firmly, rolling his eyes, “is what he means. It’s been good having you around. We know you don’t have to be, so we appreciate your presence.”
“Yeah, saves us from hunting you down–Ooof!”
“As I said, we appreciate you.”
Her smile widened… and the theatre darkened as the curtains parted.