Return to sender

(OOC: Currently reserved for Malicia and whoever she feels like inviting to the club if she does.)

Oz was beside himself with delight, acting as if he hadn't seen her in years despite her having been living in one of his houses and working at another one of his clubs. That hardly mattered. The Coatl Club in St. Canard was his baby, his flagship effort, and he was so happy to have her back in it, even just for a day.

It was going to be a good day, if he had anything to say about it.

Lilly, for her part, was just as delighted, but apprehensive. Her sojourn away had allowed her to throw herself more fully into her theatrical pursuits, and it had turned out very well for her. It had, so far, culminated in her coming back to St. Canard. Likely not for long, she wasn't entirely sure if moving back was viable or even something she wanted anymore, but here she was.

Oz had said the audience looked terrifyingly larger than usual. There were disadvantages to doing well and making a name for yourself. Luckily she was busy hanging around outside, looking at the city, and was not due a heart-attack just yet.

St. Canard seemed... just the same. Strange. For some reason she had expected some far more drastic changes.

    • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
      Queen Malicia of St. Canard

      Sometimes drastic changes come from the inside, oh sweet little deer.

      She almost didn't make it to the club. Thanks to a couple of her underdogs accidentally setting off a warehouse dynamite stash during their impromptu barbeque (DAMMIT TONY), Malicia had all but nearly forgotten the invitation she'd received in the mail. Fortunately, one of her more competent minions had volunteered himself to deal with that hot mess, and it was just perfect timing that Mal happened upon her ticket to the event -- which had been pinned to kitchen fridge of all places.

      Now here she was, standing in line outside the rather infamous Coatl Club so that she could see Lilly perform in her... whatever this was. A play, or something? In her letters, Lilly had mentioned her love of theatres and performances, so it made sense in Mal's mind that the meek, book-loving duck was likely involved in some type of play.

      There was a surprisingly large number of people here to see it, though. Who knew St. Canardians had such a keen interest in the performing arts?

      • Lilly Teal
        Lilly Teal

        Oz would have laughed very hard to know his dinner-and-a-show club was being called infamous. Lilly would have been mortified.

        She wasn't feeling her best in any case. How long WAS this line? Had they all come to watch the show? No no, surely many of them had just come for the food and the relaxing atmosphere. It was less scary to tell herself that. Glancing worriedly up the line, she paused, thinking she saw a familiar flash of flame-coloured hair, but before she could trot forward to check she was abruptly yanked inside with a squeak.

        "No time to daydream, you've got to go get changed," Celia said, shooing her away with Oz and making sure the rest of the girls were safely backstage before opening the doors properly and ushering people inside. The incoing demoness down the line made her raise her eyebrows. Celia was not used to seeing women as tall and... shall we say well-built as she was. But she decided to be professional about it and didn't comment as she waved people past so the could take a table or a seat at the bar, simply giving the woman a nod of greeting and a smile.

        "Ticket, please. Thank you."

        Backstage, there was riotous and excited giggling as the girls got dressed, got stuck on buttons, got made-up, got smudged, got lost, and got found.

        "Cora, where's my makeup?!"

        "What am I going to do with your makeup? I have black feathers."

        "Heddy, Heddy! I think I got your makeup box by mistake!"

        And so on. It was amazing, watching all of this chaos, to realise that any shows got put on at all.

        "Girls please. We've got some big people coming today so I want this show to be the best," Oz said, clapping his hands. "Rich patrons order expensive wine with their steak and lobster. Rich patrons enjoying themselves stick around for a second bottle." Glancing around the curtains, he raised his eyebrows as well. Very big people, today. Literally as well as metaphorically. The thing about being in nearly everything meant that Oz knew all the underground gossip, so he knew exactly who was coming inside even if she didn't show herself much. But it was best not to worry the girls.

        • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
          Queen Malicia of St. Canard

          Mal  -naturally- took a seat at the bar. Like the North and South poles of a magnet, the pull was irresistible, and her delicate derriere fit oh so perfectly in those little bar stools. She positioned herself so that she had a clear view of the stage (being taller helped with this, though she was completely oblivious to the fact).

          Then she glanced around the room and, for the first time, actually took notice of the other people in the audience. Huh.... this was not the type of crowd she expected for a play. There were a lot of Fat Cat Businessmen (some, literally, were overweight felines) and other big-name faces from around St. Canard and its neighbouring cities. Many of them known for their own licentious behaviour.

          She craned her neck to see if she could get a peek of Lilly somewhere behind the curtains of the stage. But to no avail. So instead she settled for leaning back and sipping on her daiquiri as she waited for the show to begin.

          • Lilly Teal
            Lilly Teal

            Poking out from behind the curtain, Oz shot a painfully thin, angular lady at the back a merry wave. Oh this was exciting! She had come to see his dresses! While he was glad to keep the businessmen happy with the show for the sake of... er... business, he was more excited to see his own people, a choreographer he knew very well had brought his wife, who was an even bigger critic of dance.

            All in all it was a nice place you could bring your wife or work friends out to. Unless she was very jealous, one supposed. Naturally the prettiness of his girls and the grace of the performances had attracted a slightly... less reputable clientele but they had gone money and they didn't cause trouble. Oz's scruples were very elastic in those circumstances.

            Ducking back in, he ran around fixing makeup and pinning up straps to make sure the girls looks absolutely perfect as the band warmed up.

            "Go, go, go!" he whispered, shooing them all into position and almost forcefully placing Lilly in her spot before hiding again. "Clam down, you look gorgeous. If half the club isn't in love with you by the end of the first song I'll eat my hat."

            "You don't have a-"

            "I'll buy a hat and eat it."

            With that, he disappeared just as the lights, also carefully choreographed by him, started to match the music just as much as the girls at the back did. Up front, the curtain finally rose, and the woman in the front smiled brilliantly, tuned out the world, and started to sing.

            • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
              Queen Malicia of St. Canard

              Mal watched intently, craning her neck to try and spot Lilly among the dancing women who surrounded that one, extremely gorgeous woman with the voice of an angel (and/or less demon-offensive equivalent).

              Huh, this is the weird start to a play. Unless the play itself is about a Burlesque troupe.

              She checked her ticket. Had she come on the right day, to the right performance? Yes... it did seem to be correct.

              Maybe Lilly was in a later scene, she decided. For now, she settled back and enjoyed the show.

              • Lilly Teal
                Lilly Teal

                She felt like she was flying, and that was the truth. Paying absolutely no attention to who was watching her, she swayed to the song, every movement choreographed to be liquid and graceful. Pushing her hair back, and even that was practically in perfect match to the music, she looked out at everyone without really registering them. Even people who knew her would be surprised at how awake she looked, as if she was seeing something nobody else could because they were all too asleep for it, and it added something to her gaze as she swung it around the audience.

                She had always been able to make people feel wanted. Malicia could attest to that. This was something on a new level, clearly. It was like she was radiating a sensation of 'I love what's happening and I want you to be part of it with me'.

                As the music built up to a big finish, her arms went over her head to follow the big ending note that was necessary.

                Aaaaaaaand nailed it! Backstage, Oz looked as if he was about to cry with pride as the lights stopped dramatically to the final note. Perfect! Oh he was so proud! In your FACE music critic.

                • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                  Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                  Mal joined the rest of the crowd in enthrallment as they were drawn in by her voice and personality. She was a fantastic singer. Not as good as Mal, OF COURSE but... still, fantastic.

                  When the first song was finished, the demonness was among the loudest that were clapping, whistling and cheering. "Encore! Encore!"

                  By this point the bartender had just gone on ahead and created a conga line of drinks for her. One guzzled down, another slid up the line, ready and waiting. The help would be making good tips tonight, that was for sure.

                  • Lilly Teal
                    Lilly Teal

                    There were so many cries of encore that it was nearly impossible to leave the stage. The lead singer went red with pleasure, eyes shining. Oz rescued them soon enough, taking the microphone to excuse them, because they really needed to get changed for the next number, thank you. There would be as many encores as they liked later on.

                    "Would you like something to eat?" A helpful waiter put in near Malicia.

                    "I hope you've got enough breath in you, Lilly," Oz said backstage as the girls turned towards the walls and quickly switched to dresses that afforded high energy movement for the upbeat jazzy number coming up now that the smooth one had warmed everyone up. "You'll be singing lead again. I know it's a lot because you'll be dancing too but it's just for tonight. Keep your head."

                    "I'll be alright."

                    "Good. Come on now girls. Big smiles, hot but tasteful. I want something that'll really have them reaching for their wallets. Or at least wanting to buy you drinks afterwards, ha."

                    "Oz you DO remember this isn't a burlesque or a strip club, don't you?"

                    "Of course, of course."

                    "It's just that when you say things like that I wonder..."

                    "I can keep track of my own clubs, thank you!"

                    That said, Lilly was practically shoved out again for questioning him, and she barely caught her balance behind the curtain before the next number started.

                    It was amazing how pretty (Oz would say deeply attractive because that was the sort of thing he said) both numbers made her feel in completely different ways. The first one made her feel like a queen, melodic and swan-like and flying. This one made her feel... well, she wasn't entirely sure. It was something very, very good, though, that got right inside her blood and bone and nearly take over the stage with the presence of it even though they were all dancing the same, wild and high and on fire.

                    Oz's jokes about a good performance making more than half the audience fall more than half in love were not strictly jokes. He felt like cackling in manic satisfaction at everyone's faces but restrained himself. He was clearly the one enjoying himself the most of all.

                    • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                      Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                      Even the demonness herself was enraptured by the woman on stage, whose voice seemed to reach straight inside her and yank on that ice-cold heart. It was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, and a wave of nostalgia washed over her. Yet what she was nostalgic for, she couldn't quite pinpoint. She didn't even register the waiter's voice, as all her senses were directed to the stage.

                      She had nearly forgotten about searching for Lilly altogether, until the curtains closed, and with it she seemed to snap out of her hypnotic daze. Giving her head a quick shake, she decided the half-time break was as good a time as ever to try and find her former friend. Or... whatever she was.

                      Because Mal still remembered just how... complicated their relationship had become, especially after their beach vacation. Lilly had made an effort to keep in touch over the years, and Mal kept up for awhile until she didn't. But surely Lilly didn't mind, if she had gone through the trouble to invite her to the performance?

                      Which, by the by, Mal had slowly clued in, this was not a play.

                      Abandoning her spot at the bar, she made her way for the backstage entrance. It was possible nobody would be allowed back stage, so it was a good thing Mal was somebody. Most were smart enough not to stand in her way when she wanted to do something.

                      • Lilly Teal
                        Lilly Teal

                        Celia's first move was to step up to whoever was trying to push their way backstage, the instinctive bouncer's reaction to keeping the girls safe. But before they could come to any kind of amazonian duck-woman confrontation, Oz quietly waved her out of the way. If Malicia Macawber had wanted to cause trouble, she would have done it already.

                        Through the backstage door, the visibly tired performers were talking and laughing and milling around, now and then popping into doors and back out again in more comfortable clothes. Despite the milling, nobody bumped into Malicia if they could help it. She certainly got a lot of curious looks, though.

                        "Hurry up in there, will you?" Oz remarked over his shoulder as he went cautiously up to Malicia.

                        "Give me a minute!" a familiar voice called out from one of the doors.

                        Well that was fine then. He turned to the demonness and nodded. "Good evening Miss Macawber. Enjoying the show I take it? Can I help you back here?"

                        • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                          Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                          Not the least bit perturbed that the show manager knew who she was (who didn't?) she nodded at him. "It has been very entertaining."

                          She paused momentarily, her eyes scanning the room, watching the girls bustle about. Then, back to Oz.

                          "I'm here to pay Lilly a visit." She said in her professional no-nonsense tone. Didn't want to sound like some sort of fangirl, after all.

                          • Lilly Teal
                            Lilly Teal

                            "Lilly?" Excuse me if I look surprised. Is she in any trouble? Does she owe someone money?

                            ... well the dressing room WAS within earshot of screaming and it would do nobody any good to say no to Malicia since she had no doubt already seen the woman on stage. Not looking particularly enthusiastic, he nodded and gestured in the appropriate direction.

                            "She's just through there. She'll be out in a bit."

                            But I suppose you're neither used to waiting nor want to have any potential conversation with her in front of witnesses.

                            • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                              Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                              Mal was used to that expression whenever someone discovered her affiliation to Lilly, and therefore did not read into it too deeply.

                              "Oh, good." Abandoning Oz and his subtle hint to wait outside, she went straight for the dressing room. No knocking, of course, just the usual, Mal-style of barging in.

                              "Lilly darling, are you around?"

                              • Lilly Teal
                                Lilly Teal

                                'Lilly darling' was indeed around. And currently halfway in the process of changing out of her costume. Squeaking, she wrapped her arms around herself and spun so her bare back was firmly to the door.

                                What do you think you're-

                                ... wait...

                                "M-Mal?" Glancing cautiously over her shoulder, she brightened up. "Mal! You came!"

                                And you're in HERE of all places.

                                "... let me just... ah, get some clothes on... c-could you shut the door and turn around?

                                • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                                  Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                                  "Turn around? Why? Are you hoping to admire my still-flawless backside?" She said as she closed the door.

                                  "And of course I came." Back still turned. "Though it's a pity you didn't really get much stage time." Or any, at all.

                                  "I am quite impressed with the talent you have in your little group, though! There was that one woman in particular..."

                                  • Lilly Teal
                                    Lilly Teal

                                    Rolling her eyes a little at this typical Mallishnes, she smiled and changed out of her dress.

                                    "Alright I'm decent. You can turn around now."

                                    Wait, NO stage time? What are you-

                                    "Oh! I was there. You must have been sutting too far away to recognise me." Yes, THAT'S  the reason.

                                    "I was wearing this," she added helpfully, brandishing the lead singer's dress. "Isn't it pretty? Oh Mal I AM glad you came and had a nice time!"

                                    Hug time!

                                    • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                                      Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                                      Stare at dress. Stare at Lilly. Stare back at dress.

                                      Does not compute.

                                      "That was you?" No, no it couldn't be. Quiet, mousy Lilly who only wears button up shirts with zero sex appeal and long skirts that cover her legs. Bookish, shy, Lilly who can't even handle Mal walking in on her as she changes. Lilly, whose picture is likely found in the dictionary under "matronly".

                                      Because that person on stage was no Lilly she'd ever known.

                                      • Lilly Teal
                                        Lilly Teal

                                        She stared at her staring.

                                        Then she started to giggle. "Yes! Though you'll never see me do anything like that offstage. The confident Lilly only  exists there. Once the show's over it's just plain old me."

                                        Beaming, she gave her friend a tight hug. "Did you like my part? Say you did. I feel so happy today!"

                                        • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                                          Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                                          "Uh." Like was an understatement. But she didn't want to let on exactly how it made her feel. She was speechless for a few moments as her brain scrabbled to find the correct response.

                                          "It was very impressive." She finally said. "I never knew you could sing."

                                          • Lilly Teal
                                            Lilly Teal

                                            "Or dance?" She asked in great amusement. "Well I don't blame you. I haven't been very open about getting back into it all. But everything has been going so well I just had to share this with you."

                                            Not to mention it's become impossible to hide.

                                            She gave Malicia a pleased squeeze, flushed and bright-eyed and happy.

                                            "Oh I AM glad you liked it. I was worried you'd be bored. Would you like something to eat here? My treat."

                                            • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                                              Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                                              "Thanks for the offer but I'm not hungry." She shifted awkwardly. It had been years since she'd seen Lilly, and for Mal, affection had become a foreign concept. Combined with learning of Lilly's "other side" was making this hard to process.

                                              "It seems leaving St. Canard served you well." She finally said. "You seem quite happy with yourself."

                                              • Lilly Teal
                                                Lilly Teal

                                                "That's really more just the high of the show," she admitted. "I'm usually like this afterwards. But... I am happy there. I don't worry as much. Did you know there are no supervillains there?"

                                                I'd forgotten what normality feels like.

                                                "I miss everyone here but I am so very calm and happy there... and you, darling?"

                                                • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                                                  Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                                                  "Couldn't be better! I have the entire city eating from the palm of my hand." She bragged. "My weapons business is booming more than ever, and I'm swimming in wealth."

                                                  Her face twisted at her statement of 'no supervillains'. "I can't imagine such a place. Must not be a very profitable area."

                                                   

                                                  • Lilly Teal
                                                    Lilly Teal

                                                    "Not at all. It does very well. And it's a change feeling safe," Lilly smiled. "But the children and I are still happy to visit again. And I'm glad you're happy."

                                                    You are happy, aren't you?

                                                    And by the way:

                                                    "... is my shop still alright?"

                                                    • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                                                      Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                                                      "I haven't had any time to check on your shop." For a couple years now, but let's not mention that. "But I'm certain it's fine. You'll be pleased to hear there hasn't been all that much structural damage to the city, outside of the usual weekly villainous takeover."

                                                      A thoughtful pause. "Didn't you leave the shop in the care of that girl... what's-her-name... Pippa? I'm sure she would've contacted you if something had happened."