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Développé

 
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Katarina Smith
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 10:41 pm    Post subject: Développé Reply with quote

"Well, what do you think?"

Katarina pursed her lips as she looked to the simple white paper posted within the studio once more. "I's a break. Kinda. I mean, nah one person's gotta lead, yeah? I's 'n interestin' choice. Bu' you'll make one shiny Puck."

A Midsummer Night's Dream had been chosen for the next ballet production, along with the cast. "Titania. I's 'bout time I was made Queen somewhere's 'round here."

"With Bryan as your King?" Andy cleared his throat to cover his humor, before tossing a towel up to cover most of his head and rub. Most of the patrons had left already from the show, "Good luck with that. Are you coming tonight?" He didn't have to say the Jazz Cafe - it was a given.

"Umm.. nah, I dun thin' so. Thin' 'm jist gonna go home an' sleep." A lopsided grin came to her face with the thought, "Ya'll hav' fun fer me though, yeah?"

Andy was in the motion of lifting his hand is farewell, before Christophe peeked his head into the room, his eyes landing on Katarina, "A moment with you, Katarina?"

"Uh, yeah, sure. G'nigh' Andy. See ya fer practice 'n th' mornin'." The idea had her groaning inwardly. Dancing with Gershwin was going into production the following weekend after the end of Coppelia, and the long days were starting to take their toll. "Wha' kin I do fer ya, Coun - Christophe?"

"I have an opportunity for you, Katarina." He lead her down the short hall into his office, and ushered her in, "That is, if you are interested." The desk was made of a rich, dark wood with black leather chairs that looked rather comfortable, "Sit, please."

She sat into the chair and sighed inwardly. The chairs were more comfortable than they looked. He took a seat behind the desk, and rested his arms on the the wood comfortably. "I realize that you have been burdened with long days and practices. You and several other dancers. I hope that this next production will help to even the amount of work for everyone."

"I thin' i's a good choice. A nice comedy an' all." She wasn't sure if the comedy would be appreciated in a place like Rhy'Din, but Christophe was the patron, and she had learned to please patrons regardless of her opinions. "When ar' we startin' practices fer it?"

"Not until after Coppelia is over, rest assured." He chuckled, a deep rumbling within his chest, "Now, as to my proposition for you. I will be attending a conference in the Stars Republic by The Royal Academy in the end of August. I was wondering if you would do two things for me. One, would you care to come with me, and represent our troupe?"

"Fer Th' Royal Academy?" She rubbed the back of her neck, "I dunno. I mean, 'm here an' nah there wit' 'em. Dun'cha thin' tha's gonna create unnecessary tension?"

"Tension and competition, should not always be shied from. Which brings me to my next request. It is within good sportsmanship for patrons to bring a small group of their performers to have a bit of a competition, if you will. Alik Vasilev who occasionally travels and performs with The Royal Academy, has expressed interest in a performance, and is looking for a partner. Now, before you made any decisions, understand that I will compensate you for the extra time handsomely, and naturally cover your traveling. Besides, I am rather proud to have you within the troupe here. Let's them know that they do not have all the best as they think."

Katarina was quiet for a long minute as she processed everything that Christophe was presenting in front of her. An unknown partner, another project, opportunities outside of Rhy'Din, time spent away from her family, money that could easily help with the house hunting. "Wha' production did Mista Vasilev hav' 'n mind?"

Christophe's smile was slow, "Scheherazade. He has everything necessary to adapt it for two dancers."

She let out a long, quiet breath. That did not make the decision any easier. "Lemme thin' 'bout it, yeah? I'll git back ta ya 'n a week er two. Fer now though," she stood from the comfortable chair, and her muscles protested, "I thin' i's time fer me ta head home."

"Of course. Please let me know your decision." He stood as well and walked her to the door, "Rest well."

She gave a small smile over her shoulder, before walking quietly out the theatre and towards The Durben with thoughts of needs and desire heavy in her mind.
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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Just one more week and then it will be over. You can finally stop marrying me every night and even twice on Saturdays." Andy couldn't help but ruffle Katarina's hair as she scowled up at him.

"Ta bad i's only th' stage tha' ya kin wrangle a girl ta matrimony. Ow!" She pretended to rub her head gingerly as he went for another round of playful abuse, "Dun mess it all up. I gotta go talk ta C." The letter "C" was a poor cover-up to keep from saying Count with other members of the troupe around.

He frowned slightly and tried to smooth out her hair in the places she missed, "Have you really thought about this?"

"O' course I hav', I dun make choices all willy-nilly." She cringed inwardly at the Locke-i-fied word, and grinned to herself, " 'm goin' fer a roun' o' negotiations." She wiggled her brows before cutting across Andy to stand before the Count's office door and knocked. Hearing the muffled "come in," she took a deep breath and entered the room.

Christophe looked up from his papers and gave Katarina a warm smile, "Good evening, Katarina. Excellent performance, as usual." He motioned for her to seat down, "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"I go' some terms fer yer conference." She sat down and held onto an air of confidence as he nodded for her to continue. "If I am goin' ta do yer conference, 'm nah gonna recruit fer th' troupe an' 'm nah gonna speak a' all as a representative. 'm gonna do th' performance an' tha's it. 'm nah gonna stay a minute longa. In fact, 'm gonna request tha' righ' afta, I'd like ta fly ou' an' visit mah folks fer a bit, before comin' back. Also, 'm gonna need room fer one more person, er a room big 'nough fer two, as I dun min' sharin'."

He drummed one set of fingers over his desk as he listened, and was quiet for a few moments longer, "Who is coming with you?"

"Locke D'Vestavio." She didn't offer the connection, though that was probably rather common knowledge to all the people within the theatre.

"You are taking him to meet your parents?" His thick brows went up slightly into his forehead.

Her back straightened slightly, "Yes." The sound was sounded out without her accent to make it very clear.

He nodded slowly, his face stoic before he nodded more vigorously. "I find those terms fair. I will not require you to do anything other than the performance, and will let you go as soon as that is over. In fact, I will try to have it be as soon as possible. You are doing me a large favor, after all." He silently slid open a drawer from within his desk as he continued, "I will as promised, handle your traveling expenses, and adding one more will not require extra, as the boat is mine. I will also make certain that you and your company have a boat to.. Hope, is it? Consider it just a small portion of what I would have covered if we needed to take The Duchess to the Stars Republic. And," he finally reached into the waiting drawer to pull out a leather pouch and place it in front of her. The sound of heavy coins was very distinct, "I will pay you half now, and half when it is over. I have heard," a small smile now crossed his face, "that you are looking for a home. I need you in a place you are comfortable with to have you at your best."

Katarina sharply shook her head, "Tha's all too much, Christophe. I said I'd do it, an' I'll only take wha' is fair payment. Th' res' I will earn."

"Nonsense. This is fair payment to my eyes. And you will take it, because you want to see your family and have a home. Your pay is not up for discussion. Will you take these terms or not?"

Katarina wasn't sure why, but she was suddenly very angry, "Yes." She stood up and stiffly took the bag of coins, "Good night." It wasn't until she heard the door to his office click behind her that she allowed her muscles to tense, briskly walking to retrieve her things and head to the Durben. She didn't look into the contents of the leather pouch, and only shoved it into a pocket of her coat. She wasn't sure why she got so upset over getting more than what she wanted.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Nah, yer doin' jist shiny." Katarina gave the younger, but taller girl an encouraging hug, "They giv' me all those hard twirls 'cause they dun like me." With Katarina being gone for two weeks during the next production, Madame had been exceptionally difficult on the understudy, Manda. Five years younger than Katarina and with a few more inches, she was best look alike, and the most talented, much to Christine's dismay.

Manda's blue eyes rolled as she was hugged, "They give you those because you can do them."

"An' I go' a coupla extra years 'n ya ta learn 'em. We've only been practicin' a week, yeah? Dun be so hard 'n yerself." She idly rolled on her ankles, feeling the familiar ache from tears and years of strain. Sooner or later, she was going to have to address the problem. For now though, she moved further into the studio to complete her last stretches before heading home. The white and green house. Her smiled softened to something more dreamy and her eyes had a far-off look before she settled into the usual warm-down routine.

She had barely completed a set before Andy walked in with a wry grin, "Oh, you're not going anywhere. Mr. Vasilev has arrived for your impromptu rehearsal." The last two words sounded just like Madame, giving way to the owner of the words.

She frowned slightly in confusion. "Vasilev? Wha'..? Oh, Alik Vasilev, the Count's guy." She sighed deeply, and gave a longing look over to the clock hanging on the cream wall above the mirror. "Shiny. Wish me luck, an' all tha'." She walked by Andy, as well as most of the troupe that went to cool down their bodies before going home. The stage, or more so the man waiting for her there, called her away and was a reminder that the theatre would be most of her life until the trip to Hope. The exchange would be well worth it.

Katie was quick to inspect Alik as she cleared her way to the center of the floor. Nothing immediately stood out. Tall, dark skin, ebony eyes, and the the lean but prominent muscles that defined him as a dancer. She could recognize the build anywhere. "Ya mus' be Alik." Her smile was bright and polite as she closed the rest of the distance between them and offered her hand, "Name's Katarina Smith. I's a pleasure ta git th' chance ta work wit' ya." She had snooped through holograms to find that Alik was well worthy of dancing with The Royal Academy when he decided to tour with him.

His hand was warm against hers, and she noticed a thin silver bracelet that clung tightly to his wrist as it flickered in the light, "Alik Vasilev, and the pleasure is mine." She watched him smile, and noticed that he had another thin, silver band around his neck and his other wrist. They were all closed tightly against his body, but they did not seem to hinder any movements or cause pain, "Christophe has presented a rare opportunity, and I am pleased that you choose to perform with me. We have much to start."

She sighed deeply, the image of her new home being pushed away for later, "Then let's git started, yeah?"
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Katarina was beginning to dread each and every rehearsal that she shared with Alik. Some days she had the rehearsal's for both ballets, and others just for Scheherazade. It wasn't because she felt uncomfortable alone with Alik, or that he behaved inappropriately. In fact, Alik was never anything less than polite and professional.

It was the nature of the ballet that was wearing on her talents. The entire premise of the story was of Scheherazade being forced to marry the King, a man who wed a virgin every night and killed her by the morning. To keep herself alive, Scheherazade would started to tell a story each night, ending on a cliff hanger and refusing to finish so that the King would keep her alive night after night in order to hear the rest of the tale. The intimate setting required more than just Katie's dancing skills. It required acting to show that the sensual theme of the story was believable.

She hated the fact that the uncomfortable feeling was available at every opportunity. Scenes with his face against her stomach, or the feel of the fresh stubble on his face as it rested in the curve of her neck. Sensuality was not very uncommon in ballets, and yet it never became easier. Each time she had to muster all of her strength to seem aloof and detached when the placement of hands on her body made her want to cringe. She would never admit that this was her greatest weakness in her profession.

Perhaps the worst feeling was not the discomfort, but the guilt. With her heart belonging to another, naturally she was not inclined to be so close physically to someone else. To make it worse, many of the dance moves and arrangements had a closeness that she could not even share with Locke because of his chill. Her mind was quick to detach from her body, thinking of no one at all, or most times, of dancing with Locke rather than Alik. It helped in making the time pass quicker and in easing the guilt.

It wouldn't be longer than two months when it would be over and she could leave the thoughts and experience behind her. She clung to that hope to propel her towards the stage where Alik would be waiting.

"Good afternoon, Katarina." With his hands behind his back, Alik bowed slightly. The thin silver band around his neck glistened under the strong stage lights with the movements. "Madame is going to be assisting in the rehearsal today. Will that be suiting you?"

More people, particularly instructors, always seemed to return the ballet into a piece of art, and away from any kind of reality. "Yeah, tha's shiny." Happy with the turn of events, Katarina's smile was normal and without any traces of her previously darker thoughts.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Would you like me to look at it?"

"No." The simple word was pronounced carefully through Katarina's teeth and she glowered at her left ankle. During the earlier rehearsal for Midsummer Night's Dream, the pain from her ankle radiated up her leg, just as it was doing now, and made her dancing unforgivably sloppy. The troupe knew by now that Katarina would rather sulk and tend to the aching alone, but Alik was new and persistent. "Nah 'less ya go' some magical healin' powers 'n 'em shiny bracelets ya go' there." She stubbornly compressed the ice pack to her elevated ankle.

Alik ducked his head slightly, the dim lights backstage reflecting off of his dark, shaved head. "They are a sign of my culture, regrettably without any powers to assist you. Are your reinforcers not working properly?"

"Mah... wha'?" She crinkled her nose and shook her head slightly, "Uhh, nah. Prolly jist a sprain. I tore th' liagment righ' off coupla years ago. Go' it healed an' all, bu'..." a slight shrug, "strain's strain, yeah?"

"You have no reinforcers?" Alik seemed genuinely surprised, "Most dancers in The Royal Ballet have reinforcers, and I assumed you did as well."

"Wha' ar' reinforcers?" She was trying to bring up images of different bracers, but they didn't quite seem the match the description Alik had already given.

"For your bones and joints. Usually metal. I have them in my wrists, knees, and ankles." He pointed to each point on his body as he listed them.

Her eyes narrowed slightly, "Ya do? Yanno tha' kinda thin' was illegal 'n mah ol' par' o' th' 'verse? I didn' know tha' The Royal Academy accep'ed tha' kinda thin'." It diminished her value of their performances slightly. "Ain' tha' kinda like cheatin', yanno?"

"They do not add to your skill, only prolongs your ability to perform. Have you considered them?"

"Th' mods an' all? Nah." She lied.

"Perhaps you should. If you have any questions, I would be more than happy to oblige."

Yeah, I'm sure you would. "Shiny. I thin' if I kin git th' swellin' down a bi', we kin still hav' rehearsal lata, yeah?" She wasn't sure where the distrust came from, but it always surfaced around Alik.

"I do not think one skipped rehearsal will be terribly poor. We're doing quite well, in fact. Rest that ankle, and consider my words."

Katarina crinkled her nose and sighed once Alik was out of sight. Shifting to move the icepack and inspect her ankle, the images of surgeries and extended dancing career exchanged in her mind.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Katarina watched the bright lights obscure the usual colors of the people out on the dance floor at the Jazz Cafe. Loud jazz music vibrated the floors so much so that she could feel the movement through the legs of her chair. A few members of the ballet troupe were joined at her table, but more were out dancing to the swinging beat. Finishing her drink, she kept her eyes on the clock and swung one ankle to the beat until the song ended. That being the cue, most of the dancers grabbed their things and made their goodbyes - early mornings cut the long evening short.

"See you in the morning, right? Bright and early, My Queen?" Andy teased and ruffed Katarina's hair that was left down.

"Yeah, I gotta wake up all o' th' fairies 'n th' lan'." She pretended to wave a wand, before stepping to the tips of her toes to kiss Andy's cheek, "Hav' a g'nigh'."

"Leaving, Katarina?" Quiet and in the corner for majority of the evening, Alik had been lost and forgotten in the shadows of the dark atmosphere. He looked out of place to her, with a dress shirt on that was either exceptionally tailored or a smidge too tight. Dark blue melded again his dark skin, and the colored lights reflected off of the shine on his head. He leaned away from his place against the wall as he watched the Smith gather her belongings.

"Yeah, I like ta go an' sit while Jo's tended th' inn, an' I haven' gotten a chance lately. So gonna take th' chance I go' an' run wit' it, er howeva th' sayin' goes."

"May I just have one moment with you?" He was already standing to his full height and moving the short distance towards her, "Just one drink. I wish to discuss something with you."

"Well...." she glanced towards the clock again. She could at least make the last half of Johnny's shift if the conversation was short, "sure, I kin wai' a bit longa." Returning to her seat, Alik made his way barwards, and she returned to watching the dance floor. It was one of the rare times where she felt no inkling to join in the merrymaking, though she would rather dance without spirit than sit and have whatever coversation she was about to have.

It was no time before Alik returned and placed a new drink in front of her. It was red and smelled of cranberries. His appeared to be the same. Taking a seat in front of her, he took a long sip of his drink and folded his hands on the table, "This is an odd location, and quite loud. I would not anticipate a ballet group to frequent here often."

Katarina shrugged, and took a sip from her own drink, "Whay nah do somethin' new an' differen'?" She relaxed into her seat and sipped again, "Though nah a very good place for conversation, sittin' inside."

"That is quite all right. I can hear you well enough." He stared at her hard for several moments, and for once it didn't make the fine hairs on her neck stand up, "You were surprised to hear about my reinforcers, but they were not unheard of. How is this so?"

" 'm surprised tha' they're allowed, yeah? I tol' ya tha' they were illegal 'n mah neck o' th' woods. As fer hearin' 'bout 'em, mah cousin has some. Go' silver mesh 'n his hands, and go' these creepy silver lens tha' has all sor's of differen' thin's. He works metal." The last sentence was to clarify the means of her cousin's choices. She frowned for a moment, then shrugged again, "Migh' hav' some otha's, bu' I kin't 'member all th' details. He suggested 'em ta me 'while back, bu' fer now, 'm nah really interested 'n 'em."

"Why not? Surely if you wish to lengthen your dancing career, than they are the wisest choice. It is no wonder that you were accepted into the Royal Academy. With strengthening what you already have, you could easily become the best ballerina they have." He put his hands together and under his chin, the trio of metal bands glistening red and blue lights with the movement.

Katarina rubbed her head as she experienced a tightening sensation, before what felt like the beginnings of a headache relax. "Th' addition ta mah join's was nah th' sole purpose fer suggestin' mods.'n fac' they were secon' - 'n afta though' really. Geez," she smiled apologetically and took another sip, " 'm nah meanin' ta give ya every li'l detail. Kin't seem ta stop mahself."

"No no, it is fine. It is important to know." His hands relaxed, one going to rest on the table while the other went to his pocket of his pants and fiddled with the empty vial that rested there. "Then tell me, what were the mods for?"

"If 'm 'membering correctly, i's 'bout mah skin bein' receptive ta cold - like real cold - an' some DNA modifications. 've neva looked fartha inta it fer specifics." Her loose tongue should have surprised her, but it didn't. "Fer Locke. Yanno Locke, righ'?"

"Well, you have talked my ears off about him, yes." He chuckled as he watched her face turn dreamy. "I assume it would be a solution to be with him, wholly."
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Yeah. Bu' he wasn' real keen 'n th' idea, an' I wasn' eitha, so i's kinda been dropped. I kin't imagine jist gettin' mods fer my bones, an' nah th' whole package, yeah? Wha' would he thin' o' me, then?" She swished the melting ice in her glass and took another drink.

"So, why not get it all? You could have everything you wanted, then." He frowned, and tapped his hand on the table while the metal bracelet ringed with the connection, "Why have the tension?"

"Suppor'. Motivation. Ya see," he pointed her finger at Alik, like she was revealing some big secret that he should have figured out by now, "if I dun git th' mods, then he has ta keep searchin' ta fix th' spell tha's been broken. Then he'd be warm 'gain, jist th' way he wants, an' all'd be shiny. Bu' if I git th' mods, somethin' real permanent, then mahbe he'll jist accep' tha' he kin't be warm like he really wan's ta. I wan' 'im ta be happy. Real happy, savvy? 'm workin' 'n it th' bes' tha' I kin." She meant to tap her temple, and missed her head entirely. "Oops." This produced a series of giggles.

He gave a frustrated sigh, "How many drinks have you had?" He fiddled with the small vial in his pocket again.

"One too many. I kin't hold mah liqour for biscuits. Whay I dun really drink. An' whateva ya gave me packed a whallop. Learned really quick ta nah join 'n drinkin' bets; los' every time."

"Excellent." He rubbed his free hand over his face, before bringing them both up to set above the table at her, "Listen, I know that you're going to forget this, but I'm trying to help you out. You should get the reinforcers. If for nothing else other than your enjoyment to dance, not to mention it would fix your ankle entirely."

"Bu' th' surgery..." she shuddered, "an' th' healin' process..."

"It will be the best decision you've made, I can promise you that. Also," he leaned forward, placed a hand on each cheek, and gave her a gentle shake, "You stay away from The Count. No more ballets on the side. No more special favors, and don't accept any. You don't want the fate that myself and so many others share." For a moment, his stoic expression offered sadness behind his ebony eyes, before the emotions cleared up.

"Bu'.. bu't whay? Sure he thin's he's slick an' all." She blinked owlishly at Alik as he removed his hands, "An' thin's he's larger 'n life, bu' he bloody paid fer mos' o' mah house. An' wha's wrong wit' ya?"

"I'm not going to share my story when you don't need to know it. Besides, I've already sapped up all of your time, and you're not going to remember my story anyway." He quickly stood up and grabbed her by the waist as she swayed, "You are making this too easy for me, though. Won't have a single problem making a story for your unashamedly truthful behavior. I am sorry about this. I must do what I'm told."

"Sorry fer wha'?" Having no reservation about Alik escorting her out of the building, she squinted her eyes at the clock and stared at it. "Bugger. Jo's prolly off bah now. I was hoping you would keep it real shor' an' all - ya creep me ou' sometimes."

A rare chuckle, he waved on the street to try and catch a carriage, "Follow your instincts and stay away from me, Katarina. I can only hope my choices keep me away from you."

Her fuzzled brain turned these words over and over in her mind all the way home. And when she tried to concentrate on the conversation, the words blurred and disappeared before they even reached her doorstep.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Katarina knocked her head back against the wall lightly as she settled onto the floor of the studio in the theatre. Letting out a long, winded sigh, she closed her eyes and tried to think of literally, nothing to ease the dull ache that rested in the back of her mind. The day from the beginning had been a struggle. Barely able to compose words for Locke as he went for his morning run, the long night mixed with alcohol made her close to cranky and with a headache.

Rehearsal didn't go much better. Her reactions were slow and her lines lazy. She guzzled water like she was never going to have any again to try and cleanse her system and clear her mind. Eventually her body responded properly, but by that time, Madame and the rest of the troupe had tossed her aside and worked and scenes that primarily didn't involve her.

The worst part of the day was not the headache or her poor rehearsal; it was her memory. Try as she might, the entire previous evening was erased from her mind. She couldn't remember what she wore, what she drank, and what she did. The last thing that her mind could clearly recall was entering the Jazz Cafe, and all was blank until she woke up this morning in a bed by herself. She could only guess that Locke moved to sleep in the cold room when she was out late, and she came home too tired to change into appropriate clothing for the cold climate. It was frustrating, if not entirely unnerving. It had been several years since she had felt so irresponsible.

Now with a break in between the troupe's rehearsal and her private one with Alik, she sought some mercy from what had to be one of the worst days she's had in several months.

"I did exactly as you instructed. Those are the answers I was given." A deep, familiar voice made itself known, as well as a handful of footsteps.

"Well, you'll just have to find another opportunity - Good afternoon, Katarina." The Count stopped in the doorway with Alik standing over him from the other side, "Feeling unwell?"

She peered open her eyes and waved a hand nonchalantly, "Jist takin' a break, yeah? Th' floor seems a' good o' place as any." She positioned a bright and warm smile on her face.

He looked skeptical, but didn't question, "Just don't fall asleep and be late to rehearsal." The Count was off again, and Alik sent Katarina a small wave through the doorway before trailing behind the shorter man.

Katarina heaved a sigh and sat up and away from the wall. A nap was just too tempting and would be the inevitable if she didn't find a better resting area. She considered visiting Highlife Haberdashery, and quickly decided against it. She would need more time to apologize for her previous behavior. Forcing herself to stand, she hoped that maybe a cold shower would refresh her enough to make it through the rest of rehearsal with a clear enough mind. Unfolding her mysterious lack of memory would have to wait.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Here, I warmed it up for you." Katarina rose her head up as Alik spoke, and her smile was one of relief. Her eyes looked tired, and her nose a cheerful pink color.

"Oh, thanks." Her voice was the true indicator of her sickness with it's low and raspy quality. Dress rehearsal was held early in the morning to give the dancers time to relax their bodies before the opening night. It was not a prime time for the prima ballerina to catch a cold. " 'm hoping ta jist go home an' sleep it off, yeah?" Still, she sat on the edge of the stage that faced the audience and held the warm beverage in her hands.

"Perhaps you should have Manda perform tomorrow." At her glare, he held up his palms defensively, "I am only considering your well-being." He moved over to sit on the stage with her. "At least rest for a while before heading home."

"Bu' ain' tha' th' poin' o' headin' home? Ta res'?" She resisted the urge to scoot over as he sat down by her and instead looked to the thermos again. "Bu' I'll finish this tea an' then I'll head home, savvy?" Besides, the sooner she finished it, the sooner she could leave. Twisting off the top, she poured her tea into the cap to serve as a cup before taking a drink.

Alik waited until she had taken several sips, before looking down at the rows of seats from his viewpoint, "Katarina, Christophe is considering making me a permanent dancer, here."

She blinked and felt that constricting sensation in her mind like a headache again, before it eased and relaxed. "Really? Huh. I thin' tha' Bryan an' Andy ar' doin' a shiny job. We dun need anotha principle dancer." Shaking her head slightly, something felt slightly off, like she should be concerned. Unable to locate the reasonings, she ignored the feelings and continued with her tea.

"Not because of them, but because of you." Swinging his feet slightly, he turned to face her better, "If I stay, he'll be one step closer to claiming you to be his own. I want to avoid this, but I must do as he says."

"I wan'ta 'void tha' too." Katarina frowned as the words tumbled out of her mouth. Where was the sense of panic and anxiety that she should be feeling? "Ya 'lways hav' a choice, Alik. Dun hav'ta do anythin'."

"I don't have choices." The statement was flat, and he didn't elaborate. "Is there anything that you know of that would keep the Count from getting his wishes?"

She swung her legs and pursed her lips in thought, " 'm sure if Madame had a problem, it wouldn' go through. Th' Count's nah th' say-so 'round here. Ya could create a problem wit' her."

"No, that's not an option either. What if I created trouble amongst the troupe? Would that work?" He scratched her right wrist below the thin silver band.

"I 'pose so. Hav'ta do somethin' real bad, though. Somethin' tha'd keep people fra wantin' ta dance wit' ya, yeah?" She finished her tea and replaced the cap before giving a wide yawn without covering her mouth. "Kin't thin' o' somethin' off th' top o' mah head, though. Ya mah be weird, bu' ya've been awfully nice. Mahbe tha's wha's so unnerving." A finger tapped her chin as she studied him.

Alik gave a slight smile for her benefit, but Katarina's current state of mind was the biggest indicator that he was not in control of his actions. He would never drug a person, much less for the reasons he had been given. "I'll think of something. Right now though, I need to get you home so that you can nap and feel better for tomorrow." He swiftly stood and picked her up from her sitting position like she weighed nothing. When her forehead touched his skin, he frowned, "You're running a fever, I'm afraid."

"Hmm. I'll nap 'n Locke's room." With the burden of walking removed from her, she fell asleep before Alik found a carriage to take her home.
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