Log:Come to My Window

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Come to My Window
Characters  •   Zane Bloomquist  •  Desdemona Marchant  •
Location  •  Mona's Balcony
Factions  •   Bloomquist Family  •  Marchant Family  •
Date  •  2019-08-22
Summary  •  After the costume party and a brief conversation with her siblings, Mona's still tense. Luckily, a talk with Zane and some feline therapy seem to do the trick to get her head back on straight. Finding out her balcony is scaleable may have something to do with that.

It's been a little odd since the party. Maybe that's an understatement. Since her dramatic exit, Mona's been a bit more the introvert than is her usual, which is saying something. She's been spending less time being social even with her siblings and more of it tucked away in her room with her sketchbook, and the level of grumbling between her and Alyssa in the stolen moments for a smoke outside between classes or during study hall or lunch are on the uptick. It's not affectionate or even the usual level of ironic or sarcastic flirting between the two, but something more in line with a sort of bonding over bitchery, real or imagined.

After dropping Alyssa off at home after school -- for whatever reason, Mona's done that often since the 'new girl' showed up, and rumor is it's for any number of questionable reasons that anyone who actually knows Mona would know are nonsense. The truth would be known only to her sibs and likely Zane and Star: Alyssa's place is with her maternal grandfather on a hippie houseboat off in a less than savory part of town, due to some -- potentially criminal? -- drama between her -- formerly? -- wealthy parents off in Reno. The importance of maintaining appearances is not remotely lost on the costumer.

Once she makes it home, it's straight through the kitchen to fill a whole carafe with espresso from the machine, then up to her room to work on sketches for the show. Over the past few days, the one bare patch of her room intended for fittings and draping has started to fill with a few racks of appropriate garb for the various scenes, each rack labeled with a particular number. Most of the hangers are still empty, but that it's been barely a week since the show and cast was announced, that she's already got this much together is a quantum leap. There are a few formals on mannequins under sheets, one marked 'J', one marked 'T', another 'A'. Hers, as ever, is likely padlocked into a closet somewhere or squirreled away behind racks. Either way, it's one heck of a maze to navigate to find her in the one patch of still-open and mostly uncluttered space available: the balcony.

Clove in hand, sketchbook propped up on a drowsing lap Diva, coffee at her side, she squints at the page, all half-sprawled in a deck chair. Spook hovers beneath, while Prance takes up roughly as much deck chair as Mona does in one of the vacant ones strewn across the expanse of the balcony overlooking the pool, belly up, sunning himself.

ROLL: Zane rolls Spirit+1 for: [1]: x2 (Pair) [3]: x1 [4]: x1 [5]: x1 -- Match Value: 1 (Raw: 1 4 3 1 5 -- d6)

By this point in their lives, Mona would probably have to actively tell her family and the staff not to just let Zane in if she didn't want him showing up. He had to stay a little late to talk with one of his teachers, so he's pretty sure she'd get here first, but can't be certain. And it may be only a week or two into the new production, but he's well familiar with how her room ends up, and how fast -- and this time, there's all the work she's doing for prom in there, as well. So instead of heading right up, he moves through the house and into the pool area, walking backward across the deck until he can see the balcony well -- well enough to see whether Mona's indeed out there.

When he does catch the sight of her there, he breaks into a grin, and lifts his arms, the closer one up toward the balcony and the farther merely bent so the hand is just above his shoulder, dramatic-like to proclaim, "But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief that thou, her maid, art far more fair than she." A few steps closer, still peering up, as he continues a bit more softly, "Be not her maid, since she is envious; her vestal livery is but sick and green, and none but fools do wear it. Cast it off!" It's been a few years since the last time she heard him doing any of that monologue, but he still does it well, at least until he stops to grin up at her, wholly back out of character. "Can I come up?"

She's actually immersed enough in her sketching to not catch the approach -- at least not until Spook is skittering around the balcony like a mad pinball, only to climb her like a tree and nest across her shoulders, peeking out from under her hair at one side. The two blink at each other as Mona says, "Cat... " with a slow shake of her head that is enough to send Spook back to playing deck chair pinball.

A soft chuckle fills her throat as she eases up, dislodging Diva to the tabletop; she's able to catch the start of the recitation, clove still in hand. She's a very goth Juliet, that's for certain, and she props an elbow onto the glass pane that makes the balcony rail to lean over it, hair half-curtaining her face. Doesn't entirely hide the smile, crooked though it may be. "I kinda feel like," she begins, wheeling the clove in the air for punctuation as she answers the question, "if you open with that, if you come up, I need to tie a rope ladder together out of sheets or toss down a bolt of fabric for you to shimmy up." They've definitely done stranger things; after all, they know the answer to 'can I jump into the pool from here and not die' is clearly 'easily, yes!', much to her parents' chagrin. "'course you can. I have coffee, and-" There's a pause, and she dangles further over the railing. "-could use reinforcements. Cassidy is coming later to clean the sequins out of the pool. Round two." Oops. She just looks smug about that.

"Next time, I need to get some of those vintage sequins from the 30s they made out of gelatin. Perfect for this, super fuckin' awkward at the opera when one's fine frock turned to pudding the moment someone started to sweat too much in the era before air conditioning." The stone age, clearly.

"And did we ever figure out if that quote meant 'throw down your panties' or not? Because I half recall that discussion, but not its conclusion." With that, she crooks a hand, and lifts away from the balcony rail. Prance, tall enough to prop his paws on the railing, does precisely this, round fluff pressed flat to the glass as his nose peeks over the edge. Paws shuffle.

ROLL: Zane rolls finesse+1 for: [2]: x1 [3]: x1 [5]: x2 (Pair) [6]: x1 -- Match Value: 1 (Raw: 6 5 3 2 5 -- d6)

"We can try it if you want, but wouldn't that, like, pull it all out of shape?" Zane does pay attention! Well, okay, sometimes. But 'to things that matter to Mona' is a reasonably reliable category. Instead, he squints at the wall, eyes narrowing, and then strides over to start giving climbing up it a try. "I think," planter, window frame, "...I think we decided--" the palm tree that grows decoratively there, "--it was just totally strip off. But c'mon Romeo's not gonna turn down the panties," the second-floor window frame... he doesn't make it look elegant and effortless, and there's a pause or two to work out the next step, but it doesn't take that long before he's taking an inadvisably long lean-and-grab of the balcony railing and pulling his feet over to follow, then clambering over the railing itself. "Ta da!" he exclaims, with a brilliant grin and somewhat more breathlessness than he'd probably consider ideal for a finish, but whatcha gonna do.

Okay, what he's gonna do is reach over to fuzzle Prance's big fluffy head, and glance over the balcony edge toward the pool. "Why did they make 'em out of gelatin if they didn't want them dissolving? And you wanna just come hang out at my place until Cassidy's gone? I mean, 'course I'll reinforce. But if it'd be easier."

She can't actually help it; there's a brief widening of her eyes as he actually does start to scramble up the side of the house's facade, and she dashes back to the balcony with a hint of worry on her face. When he actually pulls it off? There's actual applause, and she can't hide the grin. It hasn't turned up much in recent days, so it's a reassuring sign. Prance yowls, spinning once to bonk his head up into Zane's hand before falling over onto the actor's feet and purring noisily.

"I still remember the look on Mrs. Whats-Her-Face's face when we started that debate in freshman English," she says with the tiniest snicker. "Was it Jade who came to that conclusion? 'cause it sounds like a Jade answer." The way she says it, it's high praise. "And I mean, I guess I could come over," she considers, tilting her head thoughtfully for a moment. It's not like she isn't already ahead of herself on the workload, if the way the hangers are filling in on the racks is any indication. Snatching up the coffee mug, she takes a sip before offering it over to him, because clearly caffeine is something these two need more of. The clove is snubbed out, and she scoops up one mildly befuddled Diva to drape over her shoulder like a fluffy half-stole.

"Well, they needed some of the materials they made them of at the time for something something to do with the war? One of the plastics or synthetic materials was needed, but people really just couldn't do without the sequins. So they looked for replacements that they could make out of other stuff, and they tried the gelatin. Which, well, worked... until it got warm. I think the book I have that talks about it basically said that one performance of Carmen in Paris ended up smelling like a champion beef brisket competition that summer, which-" The grin is impossible to avoid. "-is one of those things that is like... yes, creative is good, but things don't always work? They didn't always think things through enough. I'm glad the fins did, though! I was a little worried. Kinda the same trick? Just not made out of... well, soup."

There is a pause, and she glances over the pool area as if to check if anyone saw the scaling of the house. The coast is clear, and she smiles slyly to herself. She does get away with murder since they're all unexpectedly well-behaved little monsters, but that her balcony is scale-able is one of those little secrets she'll likely as not be keeping from parents and siblings alike. Well, probably not siblings. She'll probably give them permission to have other people scale her balcony to get to them if theirs aren't equally accessible, but that's Mona.

Very little makes Zane beam like applause, and coupled with that recently-missing grin? He could probably light up the whole neighbourhood for a second or two there. Definitely worth the effort. Plus, now he knows he can do it!

He crouches down, the better to ruffle and pet the purring Prance. "Up to you. I don't mind gettin' in his way if he annoys you, just, y'know, you don't have to be here when he is." The coffee is accepted, a good drink of it taken and drawing an approving noise. The 'beef brisket' description makes him laugh, leaning his back against the railing while he cat-scruffles with the other hand. "It makes sense when you want it to dissolve in water, like the fins, but who was like 'oh jello that's totally what we want people sparkling with'?" He thinks about this a moment longer before asking, "Just how bad did they melt? I mean, they still had fabric under, right? They didn't all end up singing half-naked, right?" That would be something to see...

"Oh," Mona says with a wicked little smile, "The ladies on stage just had beading -- they had to do without, or they used metallic paint. It's funnier than you think." There's mischief of the first order written all over her face. "It was the audience. All the people thinking they were just so fancy and could still afford what nobody else could get, and suddenly they're all turning to stew." History class? Sometimes lost on her. Yet, somehow, she recalls all of this in detail, naturally. "I just picture all of these pretty evening gowns all pristine and perfect and then... " She shrugs once, rumpling Diva, who meowls in her long-suffering way before Mona sinks carefully back down onto the deck chair, nosing the fluffball's cheek. "I mean, how would you even have washed those things? You couldn't. I really don't think they thought any of it through at all." Prance immediately rises to crush his head into the scritching, insisting on being picked up, if the plaintive look on his face is any indication.

"How have the early rehearsals been going?" The ones for the chorus won't require her to be there yet, at least not as often as the leads. She carefully sets Diva down on a little cushion on the table beside the sketch book, and takes another clove from the cigarette case, holding it out in offering immediately after. "I should be telling you to not smoke in rehearsal season, but-" Her shoulders rise and fall in a comfortable shrug. "-it's early yet."

History is one of Zane's more hit or miss subjects. Dates and names and individual facts and dramatic or funny stories? Not too bad. Connections and causes and implications? Not so hot. This, though, this definitely falls under 'dramatic or funny stories'. He laughs, imagining the audience's dismay and the actors on stage with wrinkled noses at this odd and unexpected scent, and shifts position again, sliding down crosslegged so he can more easily answer Prance's unspoken plea and scoop him up for cuddles. "Could you dry clean 'em? But, like. Rain!"

He shakes his head, still amused, and mildly disappoints the cat by sliding a hand out to accept the clove. He does smoke less during a show, but... still a little here and there, and as she says: it's early yet. "They've been goin' pretty okay! I think I've got most of the melodies down, working on lyrics. And I might try and get you to run lines with me later, if you're up for it. I wanna kinda try a few things. How's the designs going?" He indicates her sketchbook with a tilt of the head.

"My favorite bit was an excerpt in the book of a letter from some socialite in New York who complained about how her escort for the evening had sweaty palms, and left hand-prints of missing sequins all over her dress," Mona replies with a bright and sudden laugh. "I mean, that is just amazing -- but it is also why I remembered to wear one of the opera gloves with that outfit for the party, because the idea of leaving ghost hand-prints all over the place was awful. And you just... know that if I hadn't, something would have itched somewhere awkward something fierce." It's about then that Spook collides with her feet, and she scoops up the skittery coward to drop into her lap as she takes another clove from the case. Spook promptly buries her head under Mona's arm, and her tail flops back and forth in a flashy display of 'look at how still here I am!' while playing 'I can't see you, so you can't see me'. Mona, of course, plays along, not yet petting the perpetually petrified pussycat.

"Sure, I can run lines," she agrees easily, and she lights her clove before tossing the lighter over to him. "Designs are what they are, pretty much. Between everybody's formals, the show, and-" The party, which she backs off and away from mentioning directly. "-it's been a lot. More than I expected, even if I probably should have expected it." And while it's a plausible excuse for being so nose-down in the work pile, she's tackled the same before without missing a beat. The obvious excuse may as well be wearing a neon sign proclaiming it so. "It's going to be fun coming up with all sorts of crazy vampy outfits for Thea. She's going to rock that so, so hard. I'm still sorta at a loss for how scandalous we can go, so I need to check in on whether or not we can follow the original very closely or not."

Prance simply occupies his lap like an invading army, spreading a fair amount of fluff all over his jeans as if to proclaim this particular lap part of his almighty princedom. He shed on it, it is now his. The purring is off the charts. "What did you have in mind to try?" she asks, suddenly curious. Teeth catch at her lower lip, pinning it in place, as if to hold back any other questions or comments that might otherwise fly out of her mouth if she didn't stop them.

Zane can't not giggle at the handprint potential, especially when she adds in the itching part. He's not going to comment on that part, though. Definitely not today. "Man. I hope that lady's escort was at least a gentleman. Imagine her dress if he was actually gettin' handsy! She'd probably be getting the worst looks..."

The clove sits unlit between his lips, freeing one of his hands to play with Prance's ear while the other strokes his side, seeing just how loud he can get that purr to go. It's that hand that lifts to snag the lighter when it's tossed to him, and the cat gives him the 'hey where did my love go?' look for the few moments it takes to light up, despite still having the other hand. Thankfully it's not that long before the lighter's tossed back and the fingers are again buried in fur, as is right and meet. 'course, the ear-hand leaves to handle smoking duties, but a cat's life is a difficult one.

"You'll make her look amazing, for sure," he says, nodding, "Rest of us, too, but kinda not the same what most of us mostly get to wear. How scandalous was the original?" He has tapes and the book, but no visuals. "And I mean... mostly line-readings? Maybe some blocking and business, but mainly I'm findin' the character right now."

"I know, right? Can you imagine?" she says as he describes the potential for an entirely different sort of wardrobe malfunction than anyone could have predicted. "Though, as for the scandal factor, it's actually surprising how racy some of those old costumes were that the visuals are supposed to be inspired by. There are stories about that, especially when it came to the vamps. I have some of the coolest pictures of some of them in a few of the books in there, but there aren't too many floating around. Lot of descriptions, though."

There's a nod as she tucks the lighter back away, her chin tilting down as a thoughtful look overtakes her expression. "It's a little different than the kinds of things they've had you play before, yeah," she agrees with a slow nod of her head. Most of the previous productions hadn't been quite so modern or potentially controversial -- something as exciting as it is challenging, in some respects. "I mean, I guess it's a good thing to see that they aren't really typecasting everyone for things, in a way? Like, I know we all worried about that on and off, and-" Pausing, her lips twist, pinching off the words.

"Sometimes I think all high school is a really bad exercise in typecasting." Some of the smile fades off, but it's more or less hidden by a drag from her clove. "Not even the on stage parts." When she glances up again, her features are briefly wreathed in smoke, and the smile is back, in subtler form. "Sometimes I think people just... want everybody to play their part, you know? Do what's expected of them. Wrap ourselves up in the tropes and forget about that... figuring things out part." Something about it is clearly bothering her, but then, she's the mean rich girl in the bigger story of 'high school drama'. There are certainly worse parts, but that one has never exactly been a crowd favorite. "And it's kinda fucked up, actually, because... it feels like this is exactly when we should be sorting all that shit out for real instead. Always has."

"Just... " It's then her chin falls. "...not entirely sure if it actually ever makes a difference."

Zane can definitely imagine, and he tilts his head a little at the remarks on the raciness of the old costumes. Is there a faint hesitation before he asks, "Like the dress for the party?"? It's hard to be sure, and even harder to know whether it's just uncertainty on time period if there is. "I wanna see the pictures you do have."

A drag on the cigarette, his hand fuzzling Prance's ears again, and he nods. "It's different," he agrees, and there's excitement quietly bubbling up, "and yeah, I'm glad they're letting me. I was kinda worried. Like, they might not think I looked right?" Always a concern, and some things are easier to adjust with costume and makeup than others. "It's awesome though, 'cause I can definitely do this. I just gotta work a little harder than maybe some of 'em." The ones that slip a lot more comfortably into the realm of typecasting, for example. "...d'you think I oughta grow my hair longer?" Show-wise, presumably. She's probably a good person to ask, considering.

Her further thoughts, though, have his head tilting, hand stilling against Prance's belly for a momennt. "Not sure if... which makes a difference to what?" he asks, "I mean, some things we are kinda figuring out, right? Like what we wanna go do with our lives and where and all? And that's pretty big." Another small pause, and he asks: "What do you think we're all getting cast as?"

"Oh," she says, suddenly chuckling as she takes a quick drag from her clove. "The dress from the party isn't even the half of it. Lotta stuff that they... well, there's stories, is all. Some really funny ones from theater especially, even more so than the movies. We'll just say that our chorus is going to have a lot more fabric than the chorus lines of the day often did." She continues to chuckle to herself over whatever it is she recalls, and there's a brief shake of her head. "One story about how, for one show, the ladies were just given four flowers -- one for each boob, one for the front, one for the back -- to stick on, but everybody was so modest they grabbed a whole bunch of flowers to stick on themselves instead, so half the chorus was completely topless for the first matinee?" So it could be much, much worse than her dress with the bikini under it!

"There's even an old song for the burlesque that's something about how the recipe for a good burlesque show is 'eleven lovely girls and only ten costumes' -- though I may be off on the numbers, the 'one less costume than you need' was the joke." That brings out a real laugh, and she chortles through the clove smoke. "Count on it that if I could sing, I would totally use that as an audition song."

"And, well, hey, we have figured that out: I really shouldn't sing outside the shower." It's certainly the truth; she doesn't have his lungs, or her siblings'. 'The Quiet One' is somewhat literal, and she can't seem to work around it. It's a more troubling subject all the same, and it dims her smile by a fraction. Before diving into it, though, she squints at him a fraction, and lets it grow again. "Definitely grow out the hair. If it doesn't work, can always trim it just before to whatever we need?"

"And... it kinda depends on what it is people expect?" The pause there is meaningful, and her eyes stray toward the pool. Whether she's looking for Cassidy or something else is somewhat unclear. "Like, look at me and the other two. Thea's the free spirit. Jade's the fabulous one." She doesn't name her own personal trope, instead moving on to others and seemingly hoping the omission won't be noticed. "You're the one born to be a star, who always sees the very best in everyone. Art's the rock star in training. Spear's that kid that seems strange but it's only because his heart's always on his sleeve and he's honest in a way people just can't really handle without getting uncomfortable. Silver's the sweet smart one that somehow is still the prettiest girl in school, kinda like a Disney princess in real life. Star's the sassy, grumpy goth."

"We're all more than that, obviously, but that's what people expect, so it's what they see. And what they want to see, really, because it's the easy thing. Easier than really getting to know someone -- who they are and what they're about."

Zane laughs at the flower story, absently returning to petting when Prance nudges his hand. "I guess that audience ended up with more show than they expected," he says, "and now I kinda wanna know that song." A small laugh, and her grins at her, "Hey, remember when Jenny sang Dance 10, Looks 3 at auditions last Spring?" They had not been doing A Chorus Line. She didn't get the part, okay, but who remembered now what anyone but her sang? ...okay, Zane might. But they're not the ones getting mentioned, are they. "...anyway. I like when you sing so you probably should do it outside the shower. 'cause I'm pretty sure if I just kinda hung out outside the bathroom that'd be creepy." And it's a weirder thought now than he expected it to be, which gives the grin a just flicker of a sheepishness before it settles again.

The 'casting' of their classmates (and himself!) has him looking thoughtful, rolling that all over in his head. "You said take you three but you left yourself out," he points out helpfully, "so what's yours? The artist that's always making everyone else look awesome?" Okay, maybe that's not a particularly ubiquitous Type, but it's what his perspective on things comes up with. "Also I dunno about the Disney princess thing 'cause she's got, like, spiders and snakes and stuff, and they've got like... birds and fish and crabs and tigers. But I think I get what you mean? Like, just reading the dramatis personae and not the rest of the script, so like Hamlet's just 'A prince of Denmark' or something. I mean yeah but you're kinda missing stuff there?"

"Now I'm picturing a shower duet in bathing suits and somehow that's funnier than it should be since half the time we all swim in our underwear," Mona replies with a sudden, bright laugh, coughing lightly on her clove.

As to the differences from reality, she can only offer a weak smile, and the tiniest of shrugs. "People see what they want to see. It's part of the human condition, I think. I mean... costumes, right? What are they even, if not shorthand for all the things that make up who we are? It wouldn't be a thing if the appearances part didn't matter, or if it didn't have the ability to fool people into believing that what they're seeing is what's real, right?"

She was clearly hoping to get away with the omission, but that he catches it is enough to keep her honest. "Snarky rich bitch." Is it her? Not the person he knows, or at least it certainly isn't all there is to it. "Let's be honest here," she says, some of the humor in her tone becoming rueful. "Best I can hope for with acts of dramatic self-sacrifice is 'poor little rich girl', and nobody likes her, either."

"Which basically translates as 'that person people just assume has everything they could ever possibly want handed to them, so who gives a shit about how they feel?'" she says more quietly, and there's a sullenness to it that likely as not explains her mood well enough. "Most people don't... they don't see that part. Or somehow none of it counts."

"It doesn't really matter what I actually do -- I'm a footnote on the villain roster." She breathes in deeply, and chases it with a drag from the clove; her espresso's snatched up and she takes in a gulp. If this is her mood, it explains the fact that it smells like the coffee is liberally spiked. "I mean, think about it. If this was a movie, that's who I'd be. And if this scene was included?" Her brows loft in unison as she lets her eyes stray out over the pool. "It would get a whole lot of eye rolls from the audience as they all groaned, 'poor spoiled rotten you' and threw popcorn."

"There's maybe three people on the planet who have ever actually given a single fuck how I actually feel about things, or, hell, enough about me period to know there even might be more to it than that." And that's where she starts actually choking up; there's another omission there, but she redirects quickly, in part to swallow it back down again. "Don't get me wrong. I... actually do fit the mold there. I'm not afraid to be a total bitch if it's called for. I'm... I am so much luckier than most people, because of my family's money. I mean, it's not like I don't know that."

"I know that," she repeats more quietly. "It doesn't matter that I don't... you know. Try to flash shit around, and it never will, either. And god help me if I ever actually do."

"...I thought, maybe?" The smile is apologetic to a fault. It doesn't suit her; it makes her face seem somehow broken. "Just like, the one time? But it's... " Diva mrowls as Mona draws her legs in and up toward her chest, carrying the formerly lounging creature up along with her on the wave to end up atop knee mountain, only to be caught up for a teddy-bear-style cuddling that is so thoroughly against her long-suffering will. Ignore the purring; it's incidental. "I think maybe it might have been a bad thing to want."

Zane listens, brow furrowing as she goes into what she sees as her 'role'. And, yes, he thinks about it, as instructed. Probably would've longer if it weren't for that choking up, which makes him have to divert problem-solving abilities to 'do something about this without dislodging cat', which is a tricky one, but he's pretty determined. One arm wraps over Prance, like a safety bar across the fuzzy body in his lap, and he makes a sort of bounce-turn to get a little closer across the balcony's concrete, enough to lean and catch his arm below her lifting knees to wrap it around her lower legs in an improvised but genuine hug.

"Okay, so," he says quietly, still thinking this through, "...I don't think that's you? Jade and Thea are just as rich as you are and honestly they're kinda not less, um, bitchy. When the time comes. I mean, they're awesome, obviously, but I... really don't think people think you're way worse? Maybe some people figure you're all rich bitches, I guess. But if Jade's fabulous and Thea's a free spirit I still think you're the quiet one, or the artist. I mean, the non-dancy kind of artist. Everyone knows you make the most amazing costumes. Like, if I went and asked people I think they'd say that and you're one of the Marchant triplets and you hang out with me and Star and the theatre crowd. Not that you're like... I dunno, Veronica Lodge or someone." He's read the classics, you know.

"Anyway. If you mean, like... the prom thing? Or even if you don't. If you wanna be flashy for once then do it and, like... forget anyone who's got a problem, if anyone even does. There's not that long before graduation anyway and then we're gonna be in New York. But I think people are just gonna think your thing is awesome when you're the one wearing it just like they do when it's me or Thea or Jade or anyone else." He glances down at Prance, who's been getting Soothing Pets since the Zanequake ended, and has decided this is an entirely acceptable apology. "And anyway. That movie? No one'd remember it in two months. Critics'd be like, ho hum, another one. The one where everyone could only see some girl as some stock character villain, but then she breaks out of it and shows them who she really is, and that she's amazing? That one's a lot more interesting."

He lifts his head enough to look toward her face instead of the cat, with a small smile, somewhere between shy and sheepish. "Maybe I'd be the bad guy." A tiny pause. "Maybe nobody would."

She can't help it. Not really. That tiny choke in her voice intensifies a fraction, even if the sound itself is well-buried in the hug. "I was totally Veronica Lodge at the party, to... I think almost everybody." She isn't completely wrong, but she isn't right, either. "I can't blame them. I mean. The only time I steal focus is when somebody's flipped their ever-loving shit and somebody has to say something but everybody else is surfing the drama wave or mid-'oh no they didn't'."

Mona's chin lifts a fraction, and Diva mrowls at the pair of them with a roll of bright green eyes and a flash of her rhinestone-studded collar. The white ball of fluff has had enough torture for the nonce, it would seem, and she leaps down from Mona's condensed lap to stride two steps further and swish her mop of a tail in their direction. Glancing back at them, she mrowls pointedly once more, and swans off and into the room at a languid pace.

"That creature is totally a Marchant," she notes, glancing to the cat, then back to him. There's no not laughing about it, either, but it does free up her arms to return the hug, and she murmurs, "You could never be that kind of villain, Zane. Not ever."

"You really do see the best in people, see?" Her head tilts a fraction, and her smile softens as she looks back at him. The range of emotions playing over her face is muddled enough to make it hard to discern at a glance; likely hard for her to pin down, too, even internally. The smile stays, though. That seems to be the unifying principle behind it all. "You're the best person I know. You could pretend to be a villain, easy, sure, and play one brilliantly, but... " The smile crooks at a corner, and she slowly shakes her head. "Be one?" Her head shakes with utter conviction. No. Not ever.

"I can't wait to get to New York, Zane," she whispers, as though this wasn't the old news it is on its face. "I love that we get to just be who we are, there, instead of who people think we are based on our parents, or some stupid shit from third grade, or... " She stops herself, terribly earnest in spite of the rueful amusement that starts working its way into her tone. "And the only people who will know all the rest are... all of us. I never want to lose that."