"Stop playing with your collar!" Billy Thatcher snapped. The young grandmaster threw a sharp look at the curly-haired boy across the room. Curio froze then awkwardly yanked his hand down, placing it above his right knee.
"Sorry, Billy, it's starchy. I haven't worn a suit like this since my grandfather's funeral."
" Tyler! Give me that! Didn't anyone ever teach you how to tie a tie?" Cypher, his red mane tied neatly into a ponytail, his ever-present Courage Wolf shirt hidden beneath a green blazer, shrugged.
“Too much work! Why bother wearing a noose around your neck?- and doesn't Francis do yours anyway?" He paused. "I've never seen you so stressed out. I thought you liked the spotlight."
"Not like this- never like this. Going in front of a bunch of mages, being displayed as a pet project at someone's birthday party? This is new."
"You can handle it, Billy!” piped Curio. “I wonder what the girls are doing?"
Billy snorted. "Probably spattering on about dresses."
"No. No, no, no!"
Asia stared at the blue wrap before her and the note pinned to it: "Thought you might like this; Ken let Malloy borrow it. Mind you, it needed a bit of work- Amical."
Adrestia sidled up and squeezed her shoulder. "Tell me about it. Give me a T-shirt and a pair of jeans over this any day."
Asia turned, glimpsing Adrestia in her green silken gown. She colored. “What? N-no. The dress looks wonderful on you, Miss Adrestia." Her face hardened. “It’s just- I'd know this dress anywhere. It was the one Ken got me to wear to prom- or... it used to be. Mr. Amical must’ve had Malloy... convince Ken to give it to him because he thought I'd like wearing it. But then-" she gestured at the triangular neckline, the pink, vaguely floral clasp at the waist- "he changed it." She sighed. “But then, even my memories aren't safe here."
Adrestia nodded. "Maybe not. But at the end of the day when I look in the mirror there's always still something I recognize. Now put that on- we've a party to attend."
A bell rang, and they joined the boys at the entrance to the large hall containing the arena.
Billy, fire in his eyes, motioned for silence. "It's Amical's birthday, but the guests came to see us, too. Let's give them something they'll never forget."
Amusement played across Asia's mouth. “Understood."
The door opened, and as they entered, Billy whispered, "I couldn't have said it better myself."