NFG Season Two - Happy Birthday, Hawksley

[Toggle Names]

Description: It's Hawksley Moore's 22nd birthday and NFGers old and new are in the mood to celebrate. There's gifts, drinking, singing, romance and a potential scuffle. Just your average party then!

March 25th 2024 sees the arrival of Hawksley Moore's 22nd birthday. Given the risks that the lad has taken in his short life, it's amazing he's managed to make it this far. For whatever reason though he has, be it resilience, luck or sheer determination. His morning got off to a grand start with a surprise visit from Coco on the balcony of his cabin. The afternoon saw video calls home with friends and family and now he's planted his arse by the room's main bar on a purple stool that's illuminated by LED lights.

He's not bothered to dress up fancy for his big day, though his t-shirt is at least new. Black in colour, the words 'Burn Baby Burn' are printed on the front of it in red lettering and match perfectly with his bright red leather sneakers. His faded blue jeans though have definitely seen plenty of wear. He's swigging from a beer bottle and watching a couple of giggling girls attempt a rendition of a Taylor Swift song. Their voices aren't too bad but the amount of alcohol they seem to have consumed is definitely having an impact on their performance.

The venue has a strangely surreal vibe about it. Decorated with a combination of glamour and kitsch, it stays open around the clock, meaning that sometimes solo singers can be belting out a ballad to a room empty of anyone but the staff. At other times it's brimming with bodies. Right now, at six pm on a Sunday, it's somewhere between the two.

So what are you gonna sing for me then, Coco Pops?" The Irishman wonders of the posh party girl perched next to him.

The purple-haired party girl next to Hawksley is dressed in a green and blue club dress for the occasion, her hair pulled up into an updo in the back with her bangs styled into a long fringe in the front. She flinches every now and then at the sound of the singers on the stage. "Hopefully by 'never ever getting back together,' they mean as a musical ensemble," the haughty totty says quietly enough not to be audible to the performers. She's only halfway through her first pina colada of the evening, so her tolerance levels for singers more inebriated than she is are low. She turns to Hawksley at his question.

"Well, since they've stolen my first choice," she teases, leaning against his shoulder, "I'll have to think of something new. Any requests?"

On her time aboard the Mermaid cruise ship, third-place finisher Chevy Beaumont has been doing her best job of hiding in plain sight: incognito with her hair tied back, wearing loose-fitting clothing, mirrored sunglasses, and a large-brimmed hat. She's not (yet) refused an autograph request, but the humble farm girl has made it clear that she'd prefer that others keep the spotlights aimed upon the NFG's newest prospects.

But... today is Hawksley Moore's birthday. And while she made a point of keeping her distance earlier in the day, there's really no way Chevy would avoid the Irishman in his native environment.

Her fashion sense has taken a departure from her favored denim look. She's chosen a casual, short-sleeved A-line dress for the occasion, a monochromatic floral print on turquoise fabric. The dress fits her general vibe: it's flattering to her form, but not overly showy. The dress' V-neck frames a classy deer-antler necklace; she hasn't gone anywhere on the ship without her Christmas present from Buck. She's let her auburn locks grow out a bit as well, keeping the longer strands tied back with a hair clip.

She'd entered without fanfare near the beginning of the Taylor Swift song, and she's all smiles throughout. The girls may be singing out of tune, but she's not about to stand out and walk out on them. Maybe it's because she's proud enough to march right up and ask the barkeep for a drink.

"Hey there. Fuzzy navel, for me."

The freckled farmgirl flashes a confident smile as she turns over to address the couple. She's still a couple barstools away, raising her voice just enough to be heard over the din of the crowd.

"Hey, there's the birthday boy -- lookin' good over there! Happy birthday, Hawksley!"

Of course -- with that address, the blue-eyed girl would naturally want to address the posh girl seated next to him. Chevy rests her elbow on the bar, showing that she's content with staying a moment or two. "Hey, Coco. Glad to see you're doin' well!"

It's... probably unusual to feel nothing but -positive- energy radiating from the Carolinian. It seems the vacation has left her well-rested and refreshed!

"Ah, they're not that bad." Hawksley defends the duo on the stage. "I've heard a lot fecking worse, I can tell you."

Beer already downed, he swivels around on his stool to eye the fridges, contemplating his next choice and likely affecting Coco's balance since she was leaning on the lad's shoulder. "So we aren't back together then? Jesus. I can't keep up, so I can't. Here was me thinking all the toing and froing had been put to bed."

Despite the Irishman's apparent innocence on the matter, he's clearly teasing her right back. "What can you sing for me?" He wonders. "How about The Best by Tina Turner or Whatta Man by Salt-N-Pepa?" Hawksley can hardly keep a straight face at his own suggestions.

He's about to reel off some more song titles when he hears a familiar voice. "Chevy Beaumont as I live and breathe." He fires back with a grin. He can hardly hide his delight at setting sight on his friend for the first time this year in person. "You're looking grand as always. Have you brought Bucky Boy with you?" He looks around for any sign of the American fella. "What are you drinking? I hope you're taking full advantage of the European laws."

If he feels any awkwardness about being between the two battling beauties, he showns no sign, though he does spare a glance Coco's way, since the last time she was in the same room as the North Carolinian things had got pretty heated. He's hoping all that is behind them now though and they can focus on having fun on the cruise.

Coco stops mid-sip of her cold cocktail to casually comment on Chevy's order: "Thanks for sharing, babes. Have you tried waxing?"

She gives a stir of her straw before smiling faintly. "Sorry. Pina colada. Think my tongue's went a bit frosty there. Anyway, thanks, Chevs. Glad to see you're doing well, too."

She gets dislodged from her lean by Hawksley's antics, her displeasure barely detectible on her features for a moment before she resigns herself to leaning back against the bar instead. "Oh, I'm sure I'll be much worse. It's only not fair because they've got a head start. And of course we are, Lucky."

She gives him a kiss on the cheek. Her nose crinkles as Hawksley suggests options for her to sing. "I don't know the words for either of those. How about I Knew You Were Trouble? Actually, no, Swiftie overload. Dua Lipa?"

Chevy's eyebrow lifts as Coco chimes in on her drink selection. She's puzzled, for just a moment, but breaks out in soft laughter once she gets it.

She keeps her attention on the barkeep as peach schapps and then orange juice are added to a glass. It's a bit easier to pretend that she's not able to hear Coco and Hawksley talking, that way.

She's... more than happy to hear Hawksley's grand welcome though; a faint blush comes to her freckled cheeks. "Thanks! And... oh, I'm sure he'll be here afore long. I think he'd had a few things to take care of first."

As her drink is finished, she gives the barkeep a friendly wink and a quiet 'Thanks!' and draws the glass closer. "Yep!" she tells Hawksley, "I've been tryin' a whole ton of stuff. Peach schapps, kahlua, Irish cream... though, not -together- o' course." She sticks out her tongue at remembering -that- unpleasant experience.

She glances between Coco and Hawksley for a moment. And grins. "Just sing something you're familiar with! Get them vocal cords warmed up."

Of course... part of her had wanted to suggest that Coco sing Hawksley's fight intro. But the farm girl is -trying- to turn a new page this season...

"Oh, and I gave the ale another shot. As it turns out, I probably just shouldn't drink on an empty stomach..."

By now Hawksley has another drink in his hand and he almost spits it out in response to Coco's commentary on Chevy's own order. It's followed by some well wishes though and Chevy seems cheerful enough, so hopefully all is still grand with the girls.

He realises he's never actually heard Coco sing but both she and Chevy were around to witness his rendition of 'Go! Fight! Win!" on the beach back in Sunshine City. Maybe he should do another Ash track this evening. He takes one of the lists of song titles that have been left on the bar and starts browsing through it, as he continues the conversation.

"I Knew You Were Trouble is a good shout but it's Harry Styles' song not mine. Dua Lipa could work. You like that Levitating song don't you? I remember hearing it on your workout playlist in the Blaze dojo."

Chevy's confirmation that she's been sampling some spirits on the ship earns her an approving look. "Good girl." He grins. "They've got my fiery ale on sale here, so you'll have plenty of chance to give it another go. I've got something more special for you to try first though. Once you've finished your cocktail give me a nudge and I'll show you."

Coco continues draining her drink, apparently very thirsty despite the fact that the air conditioning keeps the karaoke club in cool climes. She chances another attempt at draping herself on her dark-haired beau's back and shoulders as she does. Cocos can be a bit territorial, it seems.

"I'd say I could pick that 'Zombie' song in honour of our first meeting, but really I only know the bit where she starts shouting zombie a lot. Plus, I feel like there'd just be something very wrong about it." Coco empties her glass save for slurping slush and slides it across the bar. "Amaretto and cola, please."

Turning her attention back to Chevy and Hawksley, she says, "Speaking of our first meeting, I probably will do 'Levitating.' I was singing that one to Morgie when we first met. Are you going to do a reprise of singing your own theme song, Lucky?"

She's not really sure where that came to mind from, but something did remind her of the time that Hawksley had performed his own entrance music for some reason. Probably licensing.

As promised by Chevy, Buck indeed comes sauntering in to the karaoke bar after a bit. He's semi-dressed up, in Buck style. Meaning he's in jeans and a tee, but he also broke out his cowboy hat and boots, the good ones, though he left the stirrups off the boots, thankfully. Even more interesting is the largish box he has tucked under one arm that looks to have been hastily wrapped in green wrapping paper and little pieces of duct tape holding the wrapping job in place. At least he wrapped it himself, how thoughtful.

He buzzes by the bartender with a quick, "Moscow mule, bud, thanks.", breezes by Chevy with a quick hug, and then a polite nod to Coco, before he's on towards the birthday boy, hand up in the air requesting the obligatory high five that might see Hawksley pulled into something of a bro hug. "Happy birthday, man!" He says, probably loud enough to drown out the Swifties on stage for a moment. Someone is feeling extra Buckish today.

And then he's holding out the box, grinnning in a way that should probably have anyone worried just what he managed to get his hands on and why he looks so damn pleased with himself as he presents the present. He looks almost as excited as a five year old on Christmas waiting to open his own present.

Once Chevy sees that Hawksley is scoping out a list of songs, she finds a separate copy of the list and starts browsing through it. That might make things a -bit- easier for the hayseed to find something less, well, dated. ... The thought of Harry Styles being involved in a Taylor Swift song does bring about a look of curious confusion from her though; it's clear she isn't fully tuned-in to celebrity gossip outside of the NFG circles.

"Hm? Oh yeah, Buck mentioned somethin' like that. Just, y'know," She winks back at Hawksley, grinning. "I'm still something of a lightweight in that department, so go easy on me, alright?"

She's relieved that any frostiness from Coco seems to be on a purely physical level for now -- though she does seem a little surprised that the Brit seems to have taken the 'Go! Fight! Win!' ball from her and run with it. "Mmm, yeah, that'd be a great one! I think I might need a bit more to drink afore I get in on that action, myself."

She draws her glass close and takes a sip. As someone who enjoys the taste of the drink more than the alcohol's influence, she's in no hurry to race to the bottom of the glass. Though, the thought has her thoughts drifting back to...

The man who just sauntered into the room. Her smile amplifies from an 8/10 to a 12. "Hey, there he is!" she announces with good cheer. ... Though there is a -brief- moment of hesitation when she sees the hastily-wrapped present under his arm.

That moment disappears when she's able to return the hug to Buck. He might break off to engage in bro-like actions -- if anything though, that gives Chevy cause to scoot a little closer to the birthday boy, and scope out what he's gotten for the man of the hour.

"If you still need a song, Coco," comes a third British accent from behind, as the conversation continues, "you could always try Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain'."

While she's been on the ship, Iris Osterlund has had other things on her plate while the Mermaid tours the Aegean, meaning she didn't take part in round one of the Odyssey tournament. In fact, she's spent a lot of time in her cabin, full stop, but she'd been meaning to say hello to her fellows from the British Isles at the end of the first NFG, right before some serious family drama of her own took Iris's attention away. When the social feeds for the Mermaid mentioned seeing Hawksley and Coco together near the karaoke bar, however, she decided... well.

If and when people turn to observe her, the magus gives a little finger-wiggling sort of wave, before shaking her head at the bartender's inquiring glance. "None for me, thank you. I just came from a drag brunch on the lido deck," Iris adds, by way of explanation. "I wanted to read, but they insisted, and I don't know if you know this, but those ladies can put away mimosas like the apocalypse would come if they didn't."

A story for everything, one supposes, but of course the girl with the rainbow hair whose name means 'rainbow' is a hit with the gays.

Looking around the little group that has started to accrue around Hawksley, she blinks, then smiles faintly. "A cozy little reunion here, isn't it?" she asks, glancing at Buck and then at Chevy for a moment, before looking at Hawksley and Coco. "Unless you two wanted some alone time...?"

It seems Coco is safe for now, as Hawksley makes no sudden movements that are likely to send her sprawling from her stool. "Ah, Zombie is a cracking song, so it is. Lovely Dolores, God rest her soul. It might be a bit of a weird choice for you though. Why the feck was it you thought I was a zombie anyway?" Apparently, despite all the time the two have known each other, he's never got around to asking her that question before.

"I'm not gonna do my theme song but I am gonna do another by Ash. I'll go sign myself up. Levitating for you, Coco. How about yourself, Chevy? What's looking good on that list?"

Before he can get his answer, in strolls Buck, which causes a beaming smile to appear on Hawksley's face. The high five and the hug are returned in kind, the latter with the addition of a pat on the back. "Cheers, fella. I'm having a grand time, so I am."

He takes the gift gleefully, checking out the green paper and haphazard home wrapping. "I think we use the same gift wrapping service." He laughs, shaking the box and then starting to tear it open. Inside is a pair of cowboy boots, much like Buck's own but with a flame design depicted on them. "Fecking yeah!" Hawksley enthuses, bending down to untie his sneakers and kick them off. He then sets about putting on his new birthday boots with enthusiasm. "I feel like I need a hat as well now."

He's still admiring his fabulous new footwear when Iris makes her entrance. "Now that one's supposed to be about Warren Beatty." He responds with a wink. "How's it going, cailin? It's been a while. Too fecking long. The last time I saw you was in that goth club where we wrecked the DJ stand."

He gestures for her to join the group. "We've had plenty of alone time, thanks. The more friends the better this evening, as far as I'm concerned."

Who invited the vampire? She's certainly not friends with any of these people. She barely knows what a friend is anymore, much less how to be one. And yet, here she is. Lurking and lingering. Watching and maybe learning. She has been incredibly scarce on the ship since her little spat with Max. Mostly because she doesn't want to deal with the blatant hypocracy that she feels is in place regarding her existence as, well, a superhuman predator being a bad thing against the presence of literal bioweapons created to murder her kind being just fine.

She might be a little bitter.

Yet, here she is, holed up in a corner with a glass filled with something thick and red. (She will claim it's a Bloody Mary if asked, though the metallic tang of its smell may prove it as a lie.)

She's dressed for a far fancier party than this, in her black dress that's short in the front and nearly trailing to the ground in back. It's trimmed in red, and the contrast with how pale she is makes her an absolute goth icon. Her heels are high, but they don't make her taller than anyone. She's currently seated in a dim part of the room, legs crossed imperiously as she just ...observes. For now.

"That." Buck says with a tap of his finger against the brim of his own hat. "Is something we can get you when you come visit." It's not a matter of if Hawksley will visit Buck's farm in his mind, just a matter of when. "Then we'll go to the rowdiest bar in the town and start a fight." He adds with a grin before moving back over to where Chevy is, leaning on the bar next to her and grabbing his now completed drink in its copper cup.

He waves to Iris, but his mouth is too full of booze and ginger beer to offer a spoken greeting immediately.

Then Buck looks to the song list, then to Chevy, then back to the songlist. She's one of the few present, perhaps the only one present, to have heard Buck sing. As he tended to do around the Team Thunder headquarters last year. Singing which could politely be described as sounding like a frog being stepped on and then kicked into a wall. And that would be nice.

Coco's gaze turns to Buck as he approaches, her chin lifting off of Hawksley's shoulder long enough for her to return the polite nod she's been given with an upnod. The amaretto and cola - in the form of the less-posh-sounding Disaronno and Pepsi - that she'd requested is slid across the bar to her soon after it was ordered, being a relatively quick serve. It's basically a fancy Cherry Pepsi, after all. She transfers her straw to the new glass and takes a sip before blinking at the sound of a voice from behind her. She turns her head and grins.

"Oh, yes! That would be a great birthday song for Lucky," she says, smirking. "Hello, Iris! That sounds like loads of fun. I totally would have gone if I'd known and Lucky and I hadn't had birthday plans already. On the subject of alone time - don't be silly; the more the merrier."

She straightens up a little, her arm moving to Hawksley's lower side from his shoulder. "And I thought you were a zombie because you jump scared me with a face like tenderized meat, Lucky."

She peers curiously over Hawksley's shoulder as he opens the box. "Oh, my, God," she says as the cowboy boots come out. Her phone is quickly fished out of her handbag to snap a picture of them. "Those boots are mega, Buck. They'll go awesome with one of the presents I got him."

Chevy grins, tilting her head over to Iris. There's so many things to say -- but she suffices to offer a tilt of her drink and a friendly greeting. "Hey Iris! I'm glad you could make it, I was afraid we wouldn't be seein' you!"

She smiles as she sees Hawksley's opening of Buck's present. She's glad that he enjoys it -- and leans in a little bit closer. "Heh, yeah -- they look good on you!"

She grins back to Coco, nodding with her suggestion of another gift. Miss Beaumont doesn't seem overly concerned with that though: "I warn't thinkin' about it, I just had a lil' somethin' sent to your room. So I guess you'll see it later..." She smiles cheerily, stepping back to let others get their turn with the birthday boy.

The hayseed is quick to wrap her arm about Buck's waist as he returns, keeping him close with a warm smile. It's still a new experience to her, of course -- being in company of all her new NFG friends without feeling like a scared puppy, fearful of saying the wrong thing. Now? Everything just feels right.

That might all change once she gets to the bottom of her drink. But right now, she's feeling good.

"... Yeah, an' he ain't makin' that up either. There warn't a whole lot to do for fun but drink and read down in them parts. And they warn't too big on readin'."

Of course -- she catches sight of Zarine out of the corner of her eye. But before waving her over, she asks, offhandedly, "Oh, hey, speaking of that first meeting, where's Morgie at? I ain't seen him out and about lately..."

If Zarine happens to look over towards Chevy though, the Carolinian -will- make a sweeping gesture with her hand, inviting the vampire to come join in the fun!

As for songs... "Mmm... I just keep comin' back to Pat Benatar. So I'll probably double down on that one." She grins cheerily.

A slight bit of coughing while Iris imagines whatever gift Coco gave Hawksley that would go with flame-emblazoned cowboy boots, but Chevy's saying hello provides an opportunity for swift recovery. "They do seem like the right sort of vibe, don't they?" she asks of the group at large, with a faint smile. "I didn't get you anything, Hawks, sorry," the Cantabrigian adds, looking sheepish. "Maybe later I can enchant your boots for you, like this is an online role-playing game or something."

The discussion of what song to be sung by the others, however, gets a laugh and both hands up, palms out, from Iris herself. "No, thank you. I'll look forward to everyone's versions of whatever you're picking, and spare you all the sound of me attempting to sing, thanks all the same." She wedges onto a stool near Chevy, briefly following the Carolinian's gaze to Zarine, before turning to Coco and clearing her throat. "I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see you while you were in recovery. I had, ah... some family things going on." One rich Brit to another, there's a generous dollop of 'you get what I mean, right?' in Iris's gaze. "But you look gorgeous, all things considered."

Hawksley notices the vampire in the corner and waves her over too. She might not be someone the Irishman has had any interactions with but she's still one of them as far as he's concerned. "Zarine, get your arse over here. We're celebrating my birthday and we're about to choose our karaoke songs."

He's buzzing with the atmosphere in the ever busier bar, the beer and the birthday gift. "Don't you worry, I'll be coming to meet the Finley family." He assures Buck. "I have a feeling Boone will be my favourite. Besides you of course. You better tell that town of yours to get ready because they won't know what's hit them."

Coco's response to the zombie mystery has Hawksley letting out a raucous laugh. "I suppose my face was a bit fecked up, wasn't it? You can thank Johnny Doe for that. I wonder how the fella is doing. I kinda miss him." He reminisces.

He's not one to ponder the past for too long though, so he's already moving on. "I'll look forward to getting my gift later then." He smiles warmly at Chevy. "Although I might be too scuttered to figure out what it actually is by then." The mention of Pat Benatar causes the Cork man to raise his thick dark eyebrows. "We talking Love is a Battlefield? That's a fecking classic, so it is."

He doesn't seem too bothered about the fact Iris hasn't brought him a gift. "I wasn't expecting anything." He admits with a shrug of his shoulders. "I'm just happy you're all here. I might take you up on that enchantment shite though. Are you gonna give me like plus one swiftness or something?"

Zarine sits and broods as is the native state for vampires. Look it up, it's true. She fully expects to be over here, looking fabulous and dark for this whole party. This is why she looks shocked when Chevy gestures in an inviting way, and that shock turns to stun when Hawksley actually does invite her over verbally. Does this mean that her self perception as an outsider is wrong? Or are they just being polite?

Regardless, it would be rude to refuse hospitality. It doesn't make her less nervous about it. Old vampire or not, she's still not fantastic about interacting with people in a way that isn't threatening or imperious. She rises, smoothing the short front of her dress and bringing her questionable drink with her. Her gait is regal, all the better to hide her nerves. Though the awkward silence when she arrives is bad enough.

"Thank you for...including me," she says finally. "I am ... I know my presence is controversial."

While she seems to be in lighter spirits at the moment than... well... anyone here has likely seen her in months or more, Constance's expression does turn slightly skeptical when Chevy announces that her 'li'l somethin' has already been sent to Hawksley's room. That's instantly conjuring images in her head. Why is it so private? For his eyes only? Unmentionable(s)?

Mental escalation must be a posh British thing.

"Oh, Morgie?" Coco snaps back to the present. "Actually, he's..."

"Miss Coalbridge! Your... bearcat," a staff member reports, walking up with the binturong in question in his arms. "He's been a very good boy today."

"...just about done with day camp, I was going to say," Coco says, turning to take the bearcat before setting him down on the floor. "Oh, you're missing something, Morgie!"

She fishes a cardboard triangle out of her bag, only to reveal that it's actually a cone - one with a string attached. She meets the rambunctious bearcat's gaze as she kneels beside him and carefully affixes the party hat to his head.

"There you are, sweetheart," she says, before taking a picture with her phone.

Rising back up and turning to Iris, she offers a soft smile. "Oh, I understand. To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed having any visitors anyways. And thank you."

With the black eye from her last match cleared up by now, she's once again looking miraculously fresh-faced.

Her attention turns to the vampire when Hawksley addresses her. "Oh! Hello, Zarine! Fancy seeing you here! You must have some fantastic sun cream," she comments without considering whether that's an appropriate thing to say, before slurping from her Pepsi Amaretto.

Parties were easier for Chevy when she could focus on speaking with the small group of people she knew. Now -- well, the NFG has given her the chance to see -everyone- -- and that means picking and choosing, to a degree.

She spares a quick smile to Buck. Now, though -- she knows she has a teammate by her side. To Iris' question -- a bit belatedly -- "Aw, naw, we don't mind at all! I mean, this's the first time we got to see everyone, since Metro City an' all." She does seem a little curious about the idea of enchanting boots, though. "... What kinda stuff could you do to 'em, Iris?"

She blinks, as Hawksley mentions Love is a Battlefield -- at which point she looks back at the list. "Huh! I was thinkin' Heartbreaker, but that's a good point..." She holds the list up so Buck can see it -- and, knowing the results of his last attempt, she can't help but tease him a little. "Now, Buck, you know you can turn yourself into a songbird if you really wanted to." She gives him a gentle nudge with her hip. "Anythin' you wanna try?"

As Buck talks about the Finley family, Chevy seems to have her own insight there. "Aww, his folks are the best. It's hard to pick favorites though, they're -all- a cast of characters." She reaches over to pet Morgie once he's brought over, squeezing his cheeks and somehow missing any sign of the drama which he might have narrowly averted.

"Yeah! Welcome to the crew, Zarine!" She grins cheerily, nodding as Coco mentions sun cream. "I didn't ever get to thank you proper. I mean, like, our -fight?- It just opened my eyes up to so many possibilities!" She mimes a breath of inspiration, beaming. "It's like, I didn't know what was possible till I saw you just, y'know, -doin'- it!"

A Brit who is firmly used to the speech patterns of the Irish, Iris takes the phrase 'enchanting shite' in stride, giving Hawksley a faint grin at that before Chevy interjects a question about it. "Oh, nothing fancy, really. Not that wouldn't require a huge ritual and a ton of expensive components, anyway." A snap of the fingers. "I always thought it would be fun to have boots that could tell when you were in a long hallway and start playing theme music for you to make an entrance to."

Can she actually do that? Did seiðr have a runic combination for 'That's so sad, Magical Alex, play Despacito'? Secure in the knowledge that even if there were nobody here knows the answer, Iris gives a little conspiratorial wink.

Of course, Morgie's entrance steals the show, and she patiently waits her turn to scratch the little party (literally) animal under the chin, before glancing sidelong at Buck. "Have you tried that? Could you turn your head into a robin's head, or something of that nature?" A pause, and then a choked sound. "I'm regretting saying that aloud because now I'm picturing it, and I'm VERY sorry, Buck, REALLY."

Hawksley seems pleased when Zarine chooses to join the party. "I've got to say, cailin, I fecking love the way you dress." He compliments her. "As for you being controversial, who cares? People will always be talking and as long as you don't feck with me or my friends, you're grand with me."

Iris gets a grin back. "If you ever figure out how to do that entrance music thing, give me a call. I mean, give me a call anyway, I'm always up for going for drinks, but that would be truly wonderful.

The arrival of Morgie is welcomed too. The brawler may not have been overly bothered by the bearcat when he first made his aquaintance but he's grown fond of the furry fella over time. He slips off his stool to give him a stroke. "Now that the guest of honour has arrived, I think it's time that someone started the singing." He suggests. "I'll put your name down too, Coco Pops."

He heads towards the small stage, still clutching his beer bottle and approaches the lively man in the floral shirt who seems to be hosting the karaoke. Once the elderly gentleman in a suit is finished doing his best Frank Sinatra impression, it's time for the Irish Inferno to take the microphone.

"My name is Hawksley Moore and it's my birthday today." He introduces himself. "This song is by my favourite band, Ash. I've never sang it before, other than in the shower, so please go gently on me. It's called Goldfinger but not the one from the Bond movie." He drains his drink, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and then starts to sing. Coco, Chevy and Buck will all be familiar with the lad's voice. For those in the room who aren't, they'll soon realise that he may have plenty of volume and enthusiasm but not so much melody.

"Move closer, set my mind on fire. Taking over, the world seems so alive. The world seems so alive. She slips into the night, and she is gone. Gone to settle the score, gone into the town. Rain shining in her eyes."

Hawksley is truly putting his heart into the performance. If he happens to catch the attention of his companions, he will lift his hand in aknowledgement.

Once he's on the loose, Morgie is quick to seek attention from anyone he's familiar with - albeit equally quick to move on to the next human once he's had a good petting from each in order to investigate the next. Coco slips him a small cluster of grapes after he's been petted by the Carolinian hayseed and scritched by the magical British boot maven and stroked by the Irish birthday boy.

"That sounds really creepy," Coco comments on Iris' extrapolation of Chevy's suggestion, before sliding the seat of her sea-hued dress onto a stool to watch as Hawksley gets up on the stage. "Go, Lucky!" she cheers loudly, clapping her hands above her head to make her applause obvious before taking another drink from her beverage. Turning to the bartender, she holds up her glass. "I'm going to need another one of these before my go. Make it a double, actually."

Someone is arriving at the party. Someone you definitely want at your party.

She may not be doing her usual job today, but that doesn't matter, because she still knows how to get a party started!

Who is it, you ask?

Why, it's none other than Sarah Ashley Kuzumi, the British disk jockey who loves free running and capoeira as well as getting the party started while having a disdain for shoes.

Arriving in her bare feet as is typical for Sarah, she waves to everyone as she makes her way into a position to watch Hawksley sing his song.

"Oh--and, I guess, we're singing and we're -- oh, that sound is quite unfortunate. Oh, are we dancing? Ohhh, well, maybe just -- urp...! mmnh.. aiie!!"

The young boy, Homura, is somewhat nondescript. At least, considering he's more present-than-person, currently. Present, less in the 'I'm here' sense and more in the 'birthday yay!' sense, as the boy carts in a colorfully decorated box in the most unobtrusive way he could think of, which is 'as quietly as possible, through the side entrance, with preferably a minimum of fuss.' Unfortunately, the box is actually rather heavy, and just large enough to be awkward. Add this to the fact that he boy is currently rather ill, and that the boat is not exactly ever quite level, and this results in the box getting up onto one end of the bar, but at the cost of a rather shy shugenja all but entirely tripping over one of the waitstaff in the process of doing so.

To the boy's merit, he actually knows how to make quite an unobtrusive pile of limbs in the corner, and doesn't even really make enough noise to interrupt the song, even when the waitstaff punches him in the head with a few Jab Punches for grabbing the wrong thing on the way up. At least, he hopes this was the case. Understandably, he doesn't have a lot of time to confirm who is currently infuriated with him and for why. "Ah-- itte! ow! s--sorry. I didn't mean to--aghff! wah!" What a cruel situation. All he wanted to do was to quietly drop off his package and go back to his cabin. There's no worse fate. Wait. Is he still singing? Is seasick Homura getting beat up to a soundtrack? In the background no less?

_Definitely_ no worse fate than this.

"I knew I shouldn't have showed you that duck callin' trick." Buck says with a smirk to Chevy before taking the songlist and giving it a once over. Though it's clear he's not giving singing any real thought. He may torment his loved ones with his singing voice, but a public venue is another matter.

"I thought you liked Boone best." He jokes once more to Chevy. "Course that's probably because he's the grill master and second only to Ma in feedin' folks. I like him best, too. When he gives me ribs anyway. All Beau does is play with rope. I'm the normal one, truth be told." He's not, he's really not. He sets the list down and nudges Chevy. "I think I'll stay in the audience for this one."

At first Buck thinks by 'that' Iris means Morgie. "I've done his tail and ears, I think he finds it funny." He states as he looks down at the bearcat with a grin. Buck has yet to meet an animal he doesn't like.

Then the rest of the question pokes through his brain and he gives a quick shake of his head. "Oh heck no. Beaks suck." He clicks his teeth together and shakes his head. "And vocal chords take some fine tunin'. It's just a pain." He waves off Iris' apology with a grin.

Chevy can't help but feel the influx of positive energy, with many of the people she'd formed special bonds with over the past few months gathered together in the same room. The hayseed no longer feels like a wallflower, watching all the action from the sidelines -- she's right there in the middle of it all. It's a positive rush like no other.

Chevy feigns skepticism as Buck teases about her 'favorite' of the Finleys. "Boone does cook a mean rack of ribs, it's true..." Though, from the way she has her arm hooked around him, it ought to be pretty clear to anyone which Finley she favors most. "The most normal of all, yep." She nods in reply as Buck declines the offer of a duet.

As much as Chevy may have -started- the conversation about songbird heads, she visibly flinches when Iris mentions a robin's head -- and Coco chimes in. "Oh geez, I hadn't even thought about that... " A shudder runs down her spine.

The hayseed slips back to the bar to submit her song request and pick up her drink. She'll need a bit of that liquid courage to get herself on stage, after Coco's song. "Mm, how is that one?" she asks of the Posh One. She can't help but feel... cheery in the environment, as she swishes her still-half-full orange drink around in its glass. "I'm still lookin' for a new favorite."

Hawksley's introduction brings a smile back to her face. She sets her drink on the counter just long enough to clap in applause for that -- picking it up again once he starts to sing, and gravitating back towards Buck's side. And when she hears his voice -- perhaps lacking in melody but not in heart -- she's quick to hoot out, "Whoooo, yeah! Go Hawksley!"

She smiles as Sarah arrives! She gives the former 'Rey' a friendly wave. "Hey, glad you could make it!"

And then she notices a very unwieldy present making its appearance past the DJ's shoulder. She takes a quick sip of her drink and rushes over to help Homura in steadying the oversized box. "W-wow, careful with that! Lemme help you!"

Hawksley observes the new arrivals in the karaoke bar without missing a beat of the song. First up is Sarah, the ever energetic DJ and fellow first season NFGer. It's nice to see her out and about socialising without her having to put in a work shift on the decks. Then comes...well, who is that exactly? Whoever it is (and he does look vaguely familiar), he knows how to make an entrance.

As the boy and the box have their fall from grace, the Irishman sings on. "I'm feeling so alive, feeling so real. On a stormy night, the rain is coming down. Rain like never before. I've got some records on, some bottles of wine. On a stormy night, the rain is lashing down. And I'm waiting for her."

The nineties pop-punk classic reaches its climax as Homura is getting hit in the head. As soon as the last note is done, Hawksley hurtles over to help him alongside Chevy but he's more interested in investigating any potential aggro. "You alright there, fella? Is someone giving you some trouble?"

"Next up on the stage is someone called Coco Pops and she'll apparently be assisted by Morgie on backing vocals." The karaoke compere announces. It seems it's time for the purple haired girl and her pet to have their moment of glory.

Coco's second amaretto cola is served up quickly, being, once again, an easy order to fill. She detects something on the periphery of her senses as she watches Hawksley's performance, but she's too wrapped up to give it any notice. She is picking up the conversation nearby, though, enough to chip in: "Is Beau always tying knots, then?" before fixing her face in a pompous Mona Lisa you'll-think-I'm-brilliant-when-you-get-it smile.

"It's basically a boozy Cherry Pepsi. It's lovely," she answers Chevy's inquiry. "And a nice one if you don't fancy something too fruity."

She would offer her own assistance to Homura alongside Chevy and Hawksley, but she has more important things to do.

In this case, singing a pop song.

"It's just Coco, actually," she corrects the compere as she mounts the stage and takes the microphone. "And Morgie is going to - erm -"

It seems that the bearcat is more interested in investigating the arrival of the mysterious new box, sniffing around it and its beleaguered porter with animal inquisitiveness.

"- yes. No backing vocals from Morgie this time. Oh, it's starting. I've still got my drink! Oh, well -"

Quite unusually for her, Coco seems to be exhibiting all the signs of performance-based social anxiety. Or, as it's also known, stage fright.

The lyrics are too fast to hesitate, though, and as soon as they hit, she's off.

If you wanna run away with me, I know a galaxy
And I can take you for a ride
I had a premonition that we fell into a rhythm
Where the music don't stop for life
Glitter in the sky, glitter in my eyes
Shining just the way I like
If you're feeling like you need a little bit of company
You met me at the perfect time o/~

It's difficult for the kickboxing damsel to keep up with her usual precise enunciation, at least until the bridge, which comes a bit more comfortably.

You want me, I want you, baby
My sugarboo, I'm levitating
The Milky Way, we're renegading
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

I got you, moonlight, you're my starlight
I need you all night, come on, dance with me
I'm levitating
You, moonlight, you're my starlight (you're the moonlight)
I need you all night, come on, dance with me
I'm levitating o/~

She's also a bit high - as in, pitchwise; at two and a half drinks in, she's only mildly buzzed - but would have been on key if the song were being played in a different key.

Zarine, who has apparently drained her glass and gotten rid of it, has been silent and still. So silent it's easy to forget she's present. So still that she might just blend into the shadows. It's clear that, while she may not exactly be socially awkward, she is definitely unused to being in a crowd like this where it -isn't- antagonistic on some level. These people, the other fighters, are being kind to her. She senses no duplicity or manipulation. No wants or needing anything from her. Just genuine camaraderie. It's weird and she doesn't know how to feel about it.

Belatedly, because she kind of got all introspective, she goes to answer Coco, but the girl is on the stage. So, instead, she regards Chevy, her expression lightening from her pensiveness. "I can be nothing but myself. It is ... a mixed blessing sometimes, but still a positive. It is something I think everyone should learn. To not wear masks. Well, any more than is necessary." She does hide the predatory nature. Most of the time.

As conversations bounce around, Zarine disappears for a moment. First, she returns with another drink. It...doesn't look like blood? It's in a tiki glass? What madness is this?

Secondly, it appears she has put a SONG REQUEST in for herself. It will either be high comedy, or, you know, she's going to alter the entire vibe of the party with her song choice. Place your bets.

Homura is currently being assailed, and is doing his best to shield himself from relentless assaults, both arms over his head. Unfortunately, despite his best attempts to remain low-key so he could possibly sneak out the way he came in, the small fracas (and large present) is drawing some amount of attention. More fortunately, Homura is not actually in mortal danger. There's a bit of complaining, and he's getting a bit of a tongue-lashing in a language he can't -quite- understand, but once everyone gets a bit closer, they can see his assailant: a 5'2" Thai girl, well-dressed in the staff uniform. By the time Hawksley vaults over and Chevy gets the box out of his hands so he -can- defend himself, it becomes quite clear what she's so wound up about.

"BYEONTAE! SAAGHAN!" "Ah-- oh that sounds bad -- hey, just -- I didn't mean -- ano, I don't speak Bangkok --" *jab punch x 2! successful hit!* "-- ow ow!"

Let it be known that Homura is deceptively fast. The moment Chevy takes her eyes off of him to get the box to the table, she will find herself used as a human shield, the boy slipping behind her as quick as a mouse. The waitstaffer doesn't seem at all impressed by this turn of events, and is currently in the process of threatening the villain with much more where that came from by the time Homura is eager to both change the subject and get out of the line of fire. She has added a word that's pronounced suspiciously like 'coward' to the list of her epithets for him now too. Whew.

"N--no trouble!" he explains quickly with open hands, over the ongoing line of angry chatter behind him that suspiciously sounds like a rap sheet of his most notorious crimes dating back to ever since he's been on the boat. Anybody who understands Thai might pick up on the fact that apparently she has a vendetta against him for this rapsheet, and Homura is very quick to sweep this particular incident under the rug. "J-just came to share goodwill and got distracted by the ... aw....e-inspiring performances! --hey! Is that small beast going to eat the present??" He's noticed the Pokemon on the bar investigating his present. "Maybe more singing will soothe it? Quick, who can harmonize with the kickboxer?"

Zarine's comment about masks lifts one of Chevy's eyebrows. "... Masks?" She coughs out an awkward laugh. "I didn't think nothin' like that, the mask was Miss Laurel's thing, warn't it?" The hayseed shakes her head -- still thinking about masks, but more interested in clarifying her train of thought. "I just meant... usin' my own blood against me got me skeered, of course. But Rei -- er, Hazuki-sensei, he helped walk me through it so I could see the upside."

She grins cheerily, glancing back and forth between Iris and Coco. "... Oh, he's not that knotty -- Beau's a good kid." She pauses, just one beat. "Besides, it's his oldest brother Bear that done tied the knot. His wife Macy's a hoot." If there was any grander wordplay to be made, it seems Chevy may have missed it.

The thought about 'masks' is still rumbling around in her head, though -- even as Coco explains the drink. "... Oh, heck, Cherry Pepsi's right up my alley. Maybe that'll be next!"

... But then there's the kerfluffle with Homura -- and her own drink is momentarily set aside so that she can help lift that box. "Oh wow, what is -in- this thing?" she says as she helps set the box somewhere stable. The hog wrestler doesn't have so much trouble dealing with its awkward shape.

She does, however, find herself caught between Homura and the upset waitstaffer. A punch is flung -- and a distracted Chevy casually leans into the strike with her shoulder, brushing the strike just off its mark. "Hey, just--" she starts -- only to see the staffer trying to snake another punch past her. An exasperated look appears on Chevy's face as she brushes the second strike away with an open palm. "Ma'am, please, if you gon' keep this up, I'm a-fixin' to hogtie you..."

She glances up to Hawksley as his set finishes, glad for a -bit- more support. Glancing to the person she's inadvertently defending, she starts: "Oh, hey... You must be Homura-san, yes? This here's Hawksley -- and the bearcat is Cap'n Morgan!"

If she needs to, she'll maneuver to keep herself between the staffer and Homura. But from her half-smile, it seems like it's something more akin to a -game- for the experienced NFG fighter than an actual fight, as she's able to keep moving even while passing a quick glance towards Buck, and Iris. Her eyes drift over towards the half-full glass she'd left on the other side of her present.

Chevy doesn't know the song -- but she's more than happy to cheer for her former rival. "Yeah, Coco! Awesome!"

The sound of Coco singing distracts Hawksley from his heroics momentarily and he turns towards her, placing his fingers in his mouth and letting out a loud whistle of appreciation. He follows this by capturing the moment on his phone, firing off several quick shots, so he can save the best one of her later. Then it's time to turn back to the potential fight.

His dark eyes settle on Homura's foe, who appears to be a tiny Thai girl. "Calm down, cailin!" He commands her. "I'm sure it's all just some misunderstanding."

Hawksley is sure of no such thing but he feels somewhat loyal to the lad, especially since Chevy has now named him as one of their own. "That's where I know you from. The fight with that Rodrigo fella. You were both impressive." The Irishman praises.

He holds out his hand to shake that of Homura's. "I'm Hawksley, like Chevy said. I'm not sure Coco would appreciate us turning her performance into a duet but it was a nice thought."

He looks towards the unwieldy present. "What's in the box?"

The fact that there's something more interesting than her singing happening in one corner of the room does not escape Coco's silently seething silver-eyed stare. She was already focused on Hawksley anyway, seeking his approval as she slipped her body more easily into the rhythmic groove of the song than her voice. It's fortunate that he's got his camera out; it's a memory that, thus far, will probably be best preserved through soundless images. One of them will probably be of the purple-haired party girl slipping a swig of her remaining drink between sections.

All in all, the incident only serves to incite her to greater artistic aspirations as the song starts to cross the bridge, hitting the mostly spoken-word section.

My love is like a rocket, watch it blast off
And I'm feeling so electric, dance my ass off
And even if I wanted to, I can't stop
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! o/~

She does indeed appear to be following the New Fighting ethos of giving it her ass, her back turning to the crowd as she shakes her shimmering sea-coloured skirt. Somehow, she's even managed to find her way onto the right key, perhaps courtesy of the bridge. She runs it back again, losing herself in the music as she finishes with another pass through the main refrains of the single, this time much more comfortably settled into the proper pitch.

I'm levitating o/~

She's visibly in a much better mood as she ends her performance.

"Happy birthday, Lucky!" she calls out loudly, blowing a kiss before sticking the microphone back in its stand and bouncing down the stage steps to seek Hawksley's side while her pet bearcat bounds over to give her the same treatment.

"Ooh, what's in the box?" the buzzing British babe echoes her beau's question.

Perhaps in a more serious answer to Coco's question about his younger brother, Buck just grins. "Beau is a rodeo type. He likes to tie things up, quick." Then with a blinks. "He's also seventeen, so no weird ideas." And he's back to sipping his drink. Hawksley gets a hollar and a round of applause from the Oklahoman as his song finishes, and Coco gets some of her own as she takes the stage.

He doesn't seem overly concerned with the situation Chevy has found herself in the middle of. He's keeping an eye on it, but he's confident in Chevy being able to handle a little fracas like that herself, no need for him to get involved. That's not to say he's completely ignoring it, his eyes flicking over there occasionally, it's just not moving him from the seat he's claimed and his drink.

At the end of Coco's set, there's another round of excited appreciation from the country guy, and a snort of laughter when Hawksley asks his question about the box and Coco echoes him. "That's a dangerous question, about boxes..." But Buck does give the box one wuick skeptical look, then shakes his head. "Nah.."

He drains the rest of his drink and gets up to get himself a refill, giving the corner of the box a little poke as he walks by.

Chevy can't help but watch Coco's performance; the posh Brit isn't just rising to the lyrical challenge, but raising the bar with those dance moves! There was a time where the hayseed would have been jealous. But now that she's seen how happy she and the Irishman are together, she's got nothing but good vibes for the two.

If she hadn't been stuck in the middle of a minor fracas, she might have offered more and louder encouragement for the performance. Though, thankfully, between her and Hawksley, the NFG veterans were able to convince the little Thai lady to delay her retribution for the moment. And once the opportunity arises, she's able to hoot and holler for Coco like she'd wanted to earlier.

"Yeah!" Chevy chips in, turning a lopsided grin towards Homura as Hawksley addresses him: "My favorite part was when you leapt right off'a Mr Gallardo's sword! Priceless!"

But... then, it seems, the focus shifts towards the box.

'What's in the box?'
'Ooh, what's in the box?'
'That's a dangerous question, about boxes...'

Chevy starts, "Yeah, let's see what's--"

But just then, the karaoke compere -- either to keep the party rolling, or to prevent Chevy from asking the obvious question -- interrupts with his words over the mic. "What was a lovely performance! Coming next we have Chevelle Beaumont, who'll be kicking it old-school with a favorite from Pat Benatar!"

Coughing into a balled fist, she straightens her spine and shares glances with those she knows. A redness comes over her cheeks -- stage fright? Maybe a bit!

"Well, wish me luck, y'all~" With a wink and an affectionate shoulder-check to Buck as she passes, she heads to the bar to finish off her drink. Eyes wide as the alcohol-laden orange juice slides down her throat, she takes stock of her situation, and hops up to the stage.

Taking the mic as the synth 80's beats thump across the speakers, she shares a warm smile with the audience. "Hey y'all... Everyone raise a glass to Mr Hawksley Moore, the man of the hour! I'll try not to embarass myself too much, y'all."

She steps back with the mic, eyes on Hawksley with a shy smile. And in what -seems- like a non-sequitur, as it's spoken and not sung, she intones into the mic. "We are young. Heartache, to heartache -- we stand." Her eyes shift to Coco: "No promises, no demands." And then her eyes track over to Buck. "Love is a battlefield."

And then she moves the mic away from her mouth, closing her eyes as she tilts her head back as she uvulates, "Whoa, whoa, whoa..." She brings the mic closer and closer, her voice increasing in volume.

She's... a -little- off pitch. But her heart is definitely in it as she launches into full-throated song.

"We are strong!
No one can tell us we're wrong!
Searching our hearts for so long,
both of us knowing
Love is a battlefield o/~

The mystery of what's in the box will have to remain just that for the moment because Coco is commanding attention with her delectable dance moves. As she blows Hawksley a kiss, he returns the gesture and then welcomes her as she sashays up to stand close to him. "You smashed it, so you did." He gives her a grin and slips an arm around her waist.

The box gets another glance but his attention is stolen for a second time, when he realises Chevy Beaumont is about to take on Pat Benator! Hawksley and his beloved mammy are big music lovers and the lad has been raised on eighties and nineties rock, courtesy of her vast record collection. Mary Moore has danced around the kitchen many a time to the song the redhead has chosen to sing and he can't wait to hear her rendition of it.

When she gives him a shout out, he lifts his drink in recognition and then smiles back as she looks his way. His mouth forms into the words of the song, singing along with it softly. Once she starts to hit it hard, he's tempted to join in, but he doesn't want to steal her thunder. Instead he looks back to Homura expectantly.

Zarine is placid among the chaos. With Homura's antics, Chevy running defense, plus Coco's exuberant performance. It's a lot to pay attention to. For the impending fight between staff and Homura, Zarine keeps a slight eye on it, but Chevy has it handled. Which is probably for the best. While using her Vampire Powers and telling the girl to go away might have been less dramatic, this is less invasive and probably less terrifying on the whole.

She sips her drink, apparently able to consume human food and beverage(?), as Coco finishes her song. As Chevy gets called to the stage, a strange feeling overtakes her. Could it be nervousness? She hasn't performed for other people, beyond combat, for centuries, and her turn was rapidly approaching. She takes a moment to just...marvel at this feeling.

Coco gives her rival a clap as she rejoins the throng, gravitating directly back into Hawksley's orbit before letting him slip his arm around her.

"Cheers, babes. It's a lot harder to sing when you're not drunk." She turns to watch Chevy's performance. "Oh, that's an old one, isn't it? The music sort of gives me Weeknd vibes. Does anyone want another drink? Mine's empty."

Morgie is snuffling curiously around the box. Coco's eyes turn to Buck and Hawksley, seeking a response to her question, before tilting toward Homura - giving him a slightly curious look.

Guinevere "Genie" Bouvier tries not to stand out as she arrives at karaoke. Doing so has been something of her modus operandi for last season of NFG, which, in truth, is a bit of a departure for how things were back home in Switzerland. In any case, she quietly slides a box on the table---a long rectangle set upright and about two feet tall. It's wrapped in a bronze giftwrap with a bit of sheen but not too gaudy. It has a white ribbon around it.

Genie does not seat herself yet. "May I have a seat? -- and that was great, Coco! I hope you have been doing well with---with everything going on. It has been a while."

Chevy closes her eyes as she sways her hips to the melody. It isn't just a flex for her to ignore the lyrics coming up on the screen -- it's a way for her to shut out the room for a moment, to better connect to the music. The acoustics of the room are different, as are the acoustics of the song; it doesn't take her long to adapt.

"You're begging me to go
Then making me stay
Why do you hurt me so bad?
It would help me to know o/~"

She's been singing songs from the 70s and the 80s as long as she can remember. Long hours in the workshop with her Paw established a lifelong memory of classic rock anthems. And as Buck can attest from their road trip together, it's clear she prefers classic rock to the contemporary.

As she opens her eyes once more, she basks in the warm glow of the lights. She smiles to Buck, to Hawksley, to Coco. It's less about the meanings of the words, and more about the passion in which she brings them to life. She reaches out to the crowd, drawing her fingers in as the music swells...

"Do I stand in your way
Or am I the best thing you've had?
Believe me, believe me
I can't tell you why
But I'm trapped by your love
And I'm chained to your side o/~ "
Her eyes cast over to Captain Morgan and Homura's present -- and once there, she offers a brief smile to the arriving Genie and her thoughtful gift. Her eyes twinkle as her gaze turns to Iris, to Sarah.

The more she sings, the more she loses herself in the music. Is her pitch perfect? Not... really, but she's doing the very best she can, swaying her shoulders and free hand to the beat.

As she begins the final chorus, it's Buck that she turns to -- though she knows of course that the message is for nearly everyone present.

"We are strong!
No one can tell us we're wrong!
Searching our hearts for so long
Both of us knowing o/~"

She steps forward, wrapping one hand around the mic stand as she slips the mic back into place with a content smile. "Thank you!" She casts her blue-eyed gaze over to the birthday boy. "And of course -- happy birthday, Hawksley! Glad to be here with ya!" With a lopsided grin, she sifts her fingers through her hair once more, glancing down to make sure she doesn't lose her step getting off stage.

Luckily! The waitstaffer is easily given to being mollified by other partygoers, the fiery Korean shaking a fist at the thoroughly scandalized-and-terrorized boy currently being protected by a smaller-and-apparently-far-more-limber'y ... farmgirl? Well, beggars absolutely cannot be choosers, and Homura is apparently an expert at hiding in people's shadows because he is literally peeking -over- Chevy's shoulder warily at the waitstaff despite being measurably taller than his protector not even two minutes ago. "Ano, tell her it wasn't personal!" Homura chimes in, "I didn't even feel anything at all, promise!"

This of course, provokes a whole new string of profanity from the spicy staffer, right up until she's shushed by the coalition to prevent a NFG from being beaten by a NPC. Hawksley can pull her attention off to other waitstaff, who will arrive to usher the poor girl away, no doubt to cause Homura more trouble in the future. There is absolutely no indication that Homura has his ... situation ... together at all as he's being thoroughly distracted by the slither of powerful karaoke going on behind him, while also trying to stay out of LOS. He does, in fact, shake Hawksley's hand, before -- absolutely not having to dodge a blown kiss from the stage but still doing so anyway, startling to one side to give the invisible smooch a wide berth and land on its intended. He wasn't even looking in that direction. The boy is apparently just intensely wary about literally everything to do with social situations.

"Ah--aa--mm," the boy manages as he's recognized. "It really wasn't anything special! All truth told, it was really hard to balance on. And in the end, I guess it didn't really matter. Gallardo-san is formidable, and his moves are top-notch..." Now Homura is rubbing the back of his head, and suppressing more than a little bit of concern about the bear -- Morgan? Morganbear? Hmm -- investigating his box. "Nothing special!" He summarizes, looking up and holding his hands together, the rattle of the beads on his sealed hand muffled by his free hand. "Just some tools I thought would be good for a powerful guy to make things with! Don't let me interrupt your birthday, ah-- ooh, Mr. and -- Mrs.? -- Hawksley? -- oh... mm.." Oh, they look happy together. Homura is not well suited for this kind of interaction at all. OH LOOK Chevy is singing.

Homura tries to whistle and cheer on his savior, but the boy is apparently not capable of making noise over a certain number of decibels without 'hrm'ing and thinking really hard about it. He settles for waving. Supportively. If you want to know what that looks like it's a bit like 'raising the roof.' Except Homura realizes he's doing it with the wrong hand, and surreptitiously switches to the other hand. If he can just survive for thirteen seconds without causing another international incident it would be fine. Hey look! New people! Hiii!! It just so happens Homura is already waving, so he just needs to reorient a little to be waving at Genie, who also brought a present. Perfect.

Should Zarine happen to look his way, Hawksley will give her a wave, beckoning for her to join them, but then his eyes are back on Coco because she's mentioned drinks! "I'll be having a whiskey, so I will. Jamesons if they have it." He places his order with the purple haired party girl.

Genie comes in. He's been wanting to meet her in forever, so hopefully now is his chance for them to have a chat. She's bearing a gift too. Could that be another one for him? The Cork County lad is feeling spoiled this evening. Not that's he's complaining. And on the subject of boxes, back to Homura's!

"Tools you say? Would I happen to be the powerful guy in question?" His question is followed by a grin, which only grows bigger at the mention of Mr and Mrs Hawksley. Coco is going to love that. "If so, then that's grand of you to bring a gift for someone you don't really know. You're a fine fella, so you are." He pats Homura firmly on the back with his free hand.

Whilst all these shenanigans are going on, Chevy is providing the stellar soundtrack. Both she and Coco have really stepped up this evening, putting in powerful perfomances with as much effort as they make in their matches. The Irishman is impressed. As his Carolinian friend sends more birthday wishes his way, he beams a smile at her and calls out. "Fecking brilliant." He's taken the time to snap some shots of her too. More memories of a magical evening.

Buck just sips his drink as he shakes his head at the shenanigans going on around Homura. He continues to stay completely uninvolved in that little mess, leaning his chair back on two legs and propping himself up with a foot on the edge of another chair.

When Chevy takes the stage, all his attention is diverted towards her, a sharp whistle and some applause coming from him, but cut off before she actually starts singing. And once it does he taps his foot along which also makes his precariously balanced chair wobble a little bit as well. He even hums a long a little, softly, though anyone close enough would realize he's, well, very off key, even if he's enjoying it. There's definitely a reason he's not up there singing.

The end of her song is met with a standing ovation of at least one as he pops out of his chair which almost tips backwards, but lands on four feet after a little wobble. He's perhaps a touch over-enthusiastic in his cheering, but it's Buck, half-measures really aren't his thing.

"Yeah, 'course, babes, why wouldn't it be?" Coco approves Genie's request to sit down loudly over the music and background chatter as the bar is getting livelier. "And it has! What you drinking? It's my round."

Not that anyone's particularly keeping track of whose round it is, with the New Genners free to run up their drinks tabs, but it's a phrase Coco enjoys employing.

She finds herself grooving subconsciously to the music and realises, to her dismay, that Chevy is pretty good. She claps when the performance is finished, giving a 'Woo!' of applause along with it.

"Nice one, Chevs! Boozy cherry Pepsi? I'll just order three, shall I? And a whisk-"

She's in the midst of making a drinking-from-cup motion with her hand to convey her question when her eyebrows suddenly rise and her eyes widen. She spins around. "Wait, did he just call us Mister and Missus Hawksley? How does that even make - seriously, we are not married! Oh God, I hope there aren't any paparazzi around."

Mortified, she starts slithering her way through the crowd to the bar. "That's, um, three boozy cherry Pep - I mean, amarettos and colas, and a shot of Jameson's, and another of whatever he's having," she requests of the bartender, pointing back at Buck as she leans heavily on one elbow against the bartop. "I'll, um, need a tray, I think."

Chevy may not have been able to listen in on conversations while she was singing, but she definitely noticed Hawksley taking photos and Buck being Buck -- both of which serve to amplify her good cheer. As she leaves the stage to a chorus of good vibes, the hayseed can't help but give a flustered -- and slightly fatigued -- smile of appreciation. Though her blue eyes scan to each person present, her gaze lingers on Coco a bit longer than the others -- her appreciation clear and unequivocal. "I done got the best cheerin' section ever. Y'all are the best!" Raising a hand to her mouth, it seems she's nearly moved to tears by the gestures.

Of course, now that she's made her way back, she can hear a little better -- like Coco echoing 'Mister and Missus Hawksley.' She's glad she's still got a hand near her mouth -- but the hayseed's amusement is plain enough to see. "It's a fair guess, though!" she teases.

Still -- she hadn't gotten to speak much with Genie before, and jumps on the opportunity. Her voice rings out to the Swiss miss: "Hey, girl! Glad to see you!" Twiddling her fingers in a cheery wave, she continues: "Y'all had a fierce fight! It was great seein' you all in top form!" Of course, with Zarine and Sarah close by, she'd include them both as well. Just as she's about to say something to Zarine, though, the karaoke compere's voice comes up over the speakers.

"And our next singer is Zarine Cernik, with..."

Chevy claps her hands together in response. "... Ah hey! You're gonna be singin' for us, great!"

As people begin to settle down for the next song, Chevy gravitates closer to Buck's chair. She rests one hand on his shoulder as she leans close to his ear, radiating the residual heat from the stage lights. Or, just good vibes, one or the other.

"Coco done got us another round, warn't that sweet of her?"

It's probably not possible for her smile to get any bigger, really.

Hawksley notes Buck's standing ovation for Chevy with approval. He's glad that the redhead is in a relationship with such a nice fella. Both of his American friends have excellent taste with their choice of each other. As for his own romantic interest...

"Jesus. You're not still worried about those feckers are you?" Hawklsey asks Coco in disbelief. "Who cares what shite the paparazzi, online bloggers or whoever else have to say about us?"

She may be fretting over things that seem pretty pointless to him but Hawksley is thrilled with the treatment the London lass is giving her former rival this evening. Like the hayseed, he's happy that everyone seems to be getting on just grand. The idea that himself and Coco could perhaps double date with Chevy and Buck had been beyond his wildest dreams but right now, it seems like it could be a reality.

If Genie does indeed join them, she will be greeted warmly by Hawksley. It seems bizarre to him that she was his former Blaze teammate in Metro City and yet they never got to hang out. He's full of smiles for Sarah too and as Zarine's name is announced as the next singer, she gets an enthusiastic cheer from the Irishman. "Maybe she'll do Dracula's Wedding." He jests.

Zarine has absolutely been hanging out with the small crowd (almost) the entire time. She's just been quiet, because she has some hangups about socializing is all. Though they surely aren't constant, but when she lets herself get into her own head, it's a problem. It's the same in a fight, honestly. Once she stops focusing on the now, she defeats herself.

She seems to come out of it just in time for the 'Mister and Missus Hawksley' comment. Her face remains serene. "Oh. I wasn't aware nuptuals had happened. Interesting." Her tone is blase enough that she could be serious, or she could be using an exceptionally dry sense of humor. Even odds, really.

Then her name is called, and a flash of something approaching panic blips in her eyes. She takes a split second to compose herself before she turns to the birthday boy. "Forgive me if I tarnish do you say it? The vibe." She slugs the rest of her drink, whether or not it will do anything is hard to say. She passes the empty on to a staff member and ascends the stage.

She accepts the mic, her hands steady and her red eyes seeming to shine in the lights. The lights dim a bit, a dark blue spotlight starting to sweep the room, followed by a red. The music starts in a slow, droning pulse for a few beats. It's very lo-fi. Very 90's. She starts singing, and her voice isn't bad. Her powers don't lend themselves to supernaturally good singing, but as a noblewoman, she would be expected to have had some voice training. Certainly not bad. The melancholy rolls off her in waves though, fitting the lyrics.

"Please could you stay awhile to share my grief
For it's such a lovely day
To have to always feel this way
And the time that I will suffer less
Is when I never have to wake

Wandering stars, for whom it is reserved
The blackness of darkness forever
Wandering stars, for whom it is reserved
The blackness of darkness forever..."


Oh... whew. It seems like Homura is mostly safe from the furtherance of causing a scene, as the laid-back boy doesn't seem to do well in crowds at all. "Ah! Well," he replies, more than a little shyly, "that chakra of yours isn't any joke, after all... I figured you'd enjoy making things with your hands...! wah! --urp!!"

Promptly, Homura loses roughly 24 health to a vigorous Irish pat on the back. Oh, -my-. It doesn't appear to agree with him at all.

"Oooh.." he manages politely. "But the songs are so good tonight, and all you guys look so good..together.. unmarried... um.. or.. betrothed, ah! I'll just say that it'd be a shame for a few wooden mallets and chisels to detract from it.." He is still keeping his eye on the packages, and the possibility of them being pilfered by a bearcat Pokemon, but his sentry is sort of interrupted by the fact that he's been reminded that he gets very, very seasick. He is currently trying to play it off by swishing a little magic light in the air at Zarine's very moody little song. It's absolutely not helping.

"urp...but, ah, I've got missions and all that to train for, so I can't stay. There's a lot of loose drinks floating around and um -- are they legal?" What's the legal drinking age aboard the ship? IS there one? Well, whatever it is, Homura is absolutely sure he isn't over the requirement. "Ahh~ what a problem it would be for me to be taken to the brig. Maybe I'll just get a green tea. --urp... ah, I almost forgot to wish you happy birthday..."
Lookit that kid. He's already trying to fade into the background and make his escape. Before something else unfortunate happens to his HP.

Genie manages a polite wave to Homura, whom she doesn't know quite yet, before smiling at Hawksley. "Oh! That is yours! We have not had a proper introduction yet, I think, but it seemed appropriate when I heard there was a birthday celebration going on. Genie pushes her hair back slightly, maybe with a tinge of nervousness, a bit awkward now that she has come out and said it. "Good to meet you, finally!"

He smile turns toward Coco, who is the life of party as always. "Thank you!" She seems a bit relieved.

But, there are also two other familiar faces. "Hello, Buck. Good to see you again. And good to speak to you properly, Chevy. Genie kind of finds a spot to scoot in and seat herself with the others before ordering: "I, ah, something light and sweet, please!"

So it's not Dracula's Wedding but it's a bloody brilliant choice. "Portishead." Hawsley murmurs as the vampire starts to sing. The vibe certainly isn't killed for him. It's not like he chose the cheeriest song himself and quality music is grand in whatever form it comes as far as he's concerned.

He turns back to Homura, confused by the mention of chakras but happy to take what seems like a compliment. "I am pretty good with my hands." He admits, giving one final pat for good measure. "I'll treasure the tools like they're made of gold. It's a lovely thing you've done for me here, fella. A lovely thing indeed.

As the teen makes his exit, the Irishman waves him off cheerily. "All the best with the training and thanks for the birthday wishes." Hawksley's attention then switches to the Swiss woman. "It's an absolute pleasure, cailin. I've heard a lot of good things about you and I'm glad we're finally getting to meet." He picks up the long rectangular box from the table and starts to unwrap it, eager to see what's inside.

Chevy claps excitedly as Zarine takes the stage! Time has pretty much healed her wounds from that fight, both physical and psychological -- and she's happy to hear the performance. She might not recognize the song, but the hayseed can resonate with her all the same.

She laughs softly with Homura's attempts at discourse. She'd seen him earlier -- and knows how uncomfortable seasickness might be.

"Oh... what we're havin' is -basically- just fruit juice. If you see somethin you wanna try they can usually make it for ya without the alcohol."

She grins as she sees Hawksley's response to the toolset. Reminded of the tools she'd gotten Buck for the holidays, she flashes the Oklahoman a knowing smile.

"Oh, yeah, green tea would work too!" She grins and waves to Homura as he departs. "It was great meetin' you, Homura-san!"

She has to blink a few times as Genie says she'd not had a proper introduction. "... Wait, all this time, really? Gosh, that is a surprise!" She laughs, and nods in response -- "Sure! Though maybe I should go up and help out..."

Giving Buck's shoulder an affectionate squeeze, Chevy jogs up to the bar next to Coco. The Carolinian sees all the drinks getting lined up for a tray, and pales at the thought of carrying so many at once. -- One reason she's here to help. "Genie said she'd want something 'light' and 'sweet?' I dunno... maybe something pineapple-y?"

"I do, Lucky," Coco says with an eyeroll and a sigh at Hawksley's dismissal of her concerns. "They're sharks, Lucky, absolute sharks, and I'm the one who'll have to deal with the phone call from my parents asking why I've gone and married that scruffy Irish bloke without consultation. It's bombastically tedious."

She catches the comment from Zarine and pulls a face. "See? Fake news spreads like the bubonic."

She tilts her head as she listens to the song being sung by the vampire, quirking her lips. "Is this a new one? It's... interesting."

Morgie, at least, doesn't have the criminalistic streak to actually try and tear into the gifts. Assuming that they aren't full of delicious fruit.

"Oh, I guess let's add a Malibu and pineapple to the order," the purple-haired girl suggests to the bartender. She's sure that the extra Pepsi and amaretto will get drunk. Probably by her. "And yes, they're legal! Eighteen's the minimum age on board. Like most European countries."

It's a pretty quick addition to make, so Coco is soon being offered the tray of beverages.

"Okay! Here's your whiskey, Lucky, and your drink, Chevy, and a Malibu and Pineapple for you, Genie," she says as she starts distributing the drinks one by one. Really, there probably didn't need to be a tray, but Coco doesn't seem to have any issues handling it, despite being three drinks in and clearly too rich to ever have needed to handle one herself. Maybe it's all the yoga.

"Yeah, Genie was clearly avoiding us lads at Blaze." Hawksley teases. "I mean, I can't really blame her with the chaos we caused." He gives a wink to Coco and Chevy who had both experienced the bachelor pad atmosphere of the gym the team had used as their base back in Metro City.

"Thanks for the present." He continues, smiling at the Swiss competitor. "It was grand of you to get one for me."

The Cork lad fixes his focus on Coco as she protests his playing down of the press intrusion. "Well it's a good job I can swim fast then isn't it?" He laughs lightly. "As for your mammy and da, do they not know my name by now? I stayed with them a week for fecks sake."

He sidles up beside her and bends down to bury his head in her purple hair. "It's an old one, older than us all but Zarine." He takes his whiskey and makes short work of it, savouring the sting as it slips down his throat. "I think I'm done for the night, Coco Pops. How about we switch to a private party back in the cabin once you've had your drink?"

Looking around his fellow fighters, he realises how good it is to be back with them all again. Coco is captivating company as always. Good-hearted Chevy and Buck seem so happy together. Iris is her usual fabulous self and he's got to hang out with some less familiar faces from the first season, such as Sarah, Zarine and Genie. He's also met another of the new recruits, who seems like a grand lad. All in all it's been a very good birthday.

Genie is less familiar with Zarine's choice of song, but she gives it a hearty round of applause nonetheless---the vampire's performance is quite good! She likewise gives Homura a wave as he departs---she'll have to follow up with the new face later.

"Oh, likewise!" Genie smiles at Hawksley. "My apologies I did come find you sooner!" Inside the box is a some top shelf absinthe from from Genie's native Switzerland. It looks to be "Duplais Verte Absinthe." It was probably quite expensive, but Genie does not seem to be worried about that part.

"Oh no," Genie continues, "I was a bit distracted at the time---I think I found my own fair share of trouble elsewhere, anyway!" She chuckles softly. In truth, whatever Coco and Chevy find for her, Genie seems content with it. After all, it's not her party --- and Genie isn't particularly one to cause a fuss.

Log created on 08:18:38 02/25/2024 by Hawksley, and last modified on 18:11:22 03/10/2024.