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Author: Regret
Rating: PG
Challenge: Guava #24 - Just Be Yourself; Papaya #26 - When You Least Expect It
Extras: Wafer Cookie
Word Count: 727
Summary: Opulence doesn't suit Paradigm, Kse's dancing doesn't suit Maxim (or anyone else, really) and there's always someone at these things that you don't want to see...
Notes: This flat-out refused to post last night... I just had to retype all of it into Notepad. And there's a sketch to go with it, but until I can find my camera cable you're spared the horror... which now I found my camera lead you're all subjected to, mwahahaha. ...don't think my camera's best equipped for taking photos of artwork.

The drinks were warm and the expensive foods were cold and silently Paradigm watched couples dance strange steps he didn't think he could follow in a million years. And the chairs were too hard. Was it a sign that money couldn't buy taste, he wondered as he cringed at the bitter taste of the tepid water, or did they only have the money because they didn't bother wasting it on anything comfortable? Either way, he'd long since relinquished his seat to a pretty blonde who sank gratefully into it - she must have a softer backside than he - and was leaning against a wall, munching on a chewy canapé when Maxim ambled toward him, cheeks flushed.Paradigm in masquerade garb with mask.

"Any women taken a shine to your handsome looks yet?"

"What do you think?" Paradigm muttered througha dry mouthful. "Worn out your body already?"

"My body, no. My feet, yes."

Paradigm tried to raise his eyebrows; the mask got in the way. "After everything, you made a fault body?"

For a minute he didn't know if Maxim was going to choke or laugh. He settled on a rueful version of the latter. "It's not my body that's faulty. You try dancing with someone who tries to kick you every time you move."

How to explain it... Paradigm took a deep breath. "I don't think she's trying to kick you. I think she really just can't dance." And judging from the widening of those green eyes behind his mask, he didn't think it was something that had occurred to Maxim.

"I thought that she- She always said she'd-" He laughed again, loud enough to cause some of the passing guests to throw strange looks his way. "I didn't believe her. I thought she was getting revenge."

"I think," Paradigm said evenly, biting on the canapé again and wishing he hadn't, "if she wanted revenge it'd be a bit more... blunt." And up front, he added to himself, but judging from the AI's expression it was a mutual thought.

"In that case," Maxim stared over his shoulder, "I better get back. Someone else asked to dance with her and I don't want them to suffer any more than necessary." When he turned back, it was with the same broad smirk Paradigm had often imagined when the AI was nothing more than a voice at the end of a line. "Just be yourself, there's bound to be someone who doesn't mind a criminal with no sense of humour."

Before he could retaliate, Maxim vanished back into the swirl. He raised one gloved hand in an offensive gesture at his back, then abandoned the water-filled wine glass and canapé on a table. He was attracting attention, that was for sure, but they were curious looks directed when no one thought he was looking and aimed solely at his one-eyed mask. They were assuming it was a pretension, he thought with a brief flash of bitterness.

But the crowd was something stunning to see, he had to admit despite himself. The couples moved in blurs of colour, faces indistinguishable but clothing wildly varied - a field of flowers caught in the wind. And at the back, a solid shape in the blur, something soft and satiny blue... He frowned, tried to follow the line upwards despite the distractions moving so elegantly before him, and froze.

Cold eyes, almost a solid blue, no white to be seen, met his own across the huge room. It hurt to swallow, his heart felt like it was trying to climb into his throat. Long hair, almost the same blue as the dress, laying across both shoulders. Pretty face, impassive. He'd forgotten, for a short time, the world of pain being himself could get him into.

The crowd let out mutters and growls as he elbowed his way through them, too polite to raise their voice to reprimand the stranger. Maxim almost leapt out his skin as Paradigm gripped his shoulder. "What the hell?"

"We have to leave, now." The words fell over each other in their haste to be heard.

Kse's glare promised death; she'd been promising it for two months now. "Why?"

His chest hurt. Someone else had come closer to delivering it. "Android."

Wordlessly she gripped Maxim's wrist and Paradigm's sleeve and pulled them toward the exit.

The crowd didn't dare stand in her way.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 18th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
Heh. I don't blame people for staying the heck out of Kse's way. What panicked Paradigm so much? I hope we get to find out. Again, adore Maxim and Kse together.
Jul. 18th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
Ahh, you will find out eventually. ;) There's a lot of things that panic Paradigm but miss blue-eyes over there ranks quite highly in the list. XD; And since she keeps recurring even when I'm not expecting her to...
Jul. 18th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, wondering too what freaked Paradigm out. And I sure don't want to get in Kse's way at that time XDDDDD

I love the drawing, and the mask on the guy too :)
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
Ahhh that'll come out... soooon. XD;; Have to take a bit of a deep breath to write those bits, since they seem to involve lots of things that go 'oww'... Terminally, in at least one case. :s

Kse gets scary when she's angry... XD; And thank you! The mask was my favourite bit... and, well, the whole reason I started doodling in the first place, since I didn't include it in the last pic and wanted to explain the eye thing more clearly. ^^;
Jul. 18th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
Blue guy kinda freaked me out...though now I want to know who (what?) he is.

Also, beautiful drawing!
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
Ahhh it's something that appears to be... rather hard to get rid of. It's followed me through two NaNos so far, leaving quite a wide trail of destruction behind it. :s

Aaaaa thank you! ^//^ He started out as a doodle and then I got a bit... carried away... eheh. ^^;
Jul. 18th, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
ooh, I'm not familiar with your canon yet, but this was intriguing! I loved the exchange between Paradigm and Maxim over Maxim's dance :)
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
Ahahah... these guys have been in my head for three years now and even I'm not familiar with my canon. :s I left gaping holes in the NaNo at the time and decided to write what happened two years down the line for the next one - and never finished that either. XD;;;

I'm glad it's even a little intruiging though, I'm kinda... prodding at it and seeing what comes out. XD;;; And I really did enjoy writing that bit, it was the first time I felt like I was getting Maxim right. It's a bad sign, that, isn't it? :s
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
Haha, no worries, I know how that goes. Oh hey, I failed to mention how gorgeous your sketch is. The shading is superb and I love the costume :)
Jul. 18th, 2010 10:39 pm (UTC)
Awww thank you! ^///^ It just kinda got away from me, it was only supposed to be a sketch, but I'd been reading something about poses - I think the advice worked better with female characters than male though! And yeah... it got away from me... ^^;
Jul. 19th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
This is really lovely. The descriptions are very vivid and enjoyable, and the last line is especially nice. The drawing is just awesome :)
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC)
Eee thank you! (Although it works a bit better now I think I've found all the typoes... =__=;; ) And thank you for the compliment on my drawing, it was so nice to actually draw something properly again... ^^;
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
Now I've worked out how to take photos of my pictures (well, kind of...) there might be more actual hand-drawn stuff, because I forgot how much I preferred drawing on paper. ^^; And looking at old pictures of these characters, I'm getting the urge to draw them more. ^^;

The Android has the knack of turning up to ruin the fun. XD It likes to practice a lot. And one day I need to find it a name...
Jul. 20th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
This sounds like such high class fun. I especially like how you made sure to mention the food, drinks and uncomfortable seats. I am very curious to see what the android is going to get up to.
Jul. 20th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, I forgot to comment on the picture which I was so busy looking at that I managed to miss two paragraphs forcing me to read through the piece twice. It is an awesome picture.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
*blushes* Thank you! I got a bit... carried away with it, but it's so nice to be drawing with pencils again! ^^;;
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it sounds high-class - it's why Paradigm feels so out of place, since he's anything but. XD; And it's funny how it doesn't seem to matter what the events are, the seats are just always uncomfortable... O_o

I'm sure the android will be returning! I can't seem to keep it away from this lot... :s
Aug. 3rd, 2010 11:02 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous drawing and I loved the discussion about whether or not she wasn't a good dancer or if kicking is a good form of communication.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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