"You doing your makeup?" Dante asked, digging through his pocket and pulling out an unfolded red tie. "Honestly you look better without it."
"Thanks, but no way am I walking out of the house without it on. Imagine the papers," she laughed from the bathroom, and Dante could imagine her shaking her head. "This stuff feels so weird on my face, and I have to eat weird to avoid messing it up. It's bad for your skin too, apparently. Ugh. Are you almost ready?"
"Just about." He tugged on the tie as he checked the mirror, admiring how it looked against his neck. "There," he thought to himself as he smirked in the mirror, then turned and headed off to find Elizabeth.
"I'm here, I'm here," she called out, as if she sensed what he intended to do, and came out of the bathroom, putting her lipstick in her purse. "Remind me later I need a new shade, this one's getting boring. Anyways, shall we?"
Dante took a moment to appreciate the dress she had on—the red fabric, clearly an expensive addition to her wardrobe, hugged her figure tightly around the upper area and fanned out near the waist, still staying close but allowing for free movement even though it fell short only above her ankles. Modest, but beautiful, like its wearer. A red sash of sorts, a shade darker than the rest of the dress, cinched around the waist. Holding out his arm, he replied, "We shall."
Their first destination was Dionysus Park. They arrived there by tram a little after 10:30, and stopped to buy a pack of chips and a couple of soda before making their way into the park itself. The advertisements for the place boasted a cinema, art gallery, carousel and a garden. Elizabeth admitted to Dante as they passed through the entrance hall that she had never really been here before-though she had had ample reason to, being invited by a number of rich higher-ups to attend their private parties, she'd never wanted to spend more time with them than she had to.
"It's nice," she'd said as they walked through, "I'm glad I got to experience it for the first time with someone I actually like. That way the experience isn't tainted."
"I'm glad. You know, you're not bad company yourself-" He was interrupted as a small body collided with his legs, sending him stumbling back a bit and almost knocking Elizabeth's drink out of her hands. He looked down in shock and realized that there was a small child mumbling out a rapid succession of apologies and dusting off her white dress.
"I'm very sorry, sir!" the girl apologized again with a clipped British accent. "I didn't mean to make you almost fall. But you didn't, so it's alright! Isn't it?"
"It is," said Dante, straightening up and dusted his pants straight. "But you should be careful where you're headed."
The girl nodded, her braided pigtails bouncing slightly as she did so. "Right."
"What are you doing here by yourself?"
The girl opened her mouth to reply, but at that moment, a woman's shrill voice cried out, "Eleanor! Come back here at once! What have I told you about-oh." The source of the voice came around the corner, mouth open in a half-yell, but it quickly closed when she took in the pair. The no doubt parent of the child, a short but smartly dressed woman with pinned back blond hair and crescent glasses, tilted her head and narrowed her eyes at the couple before relaxing her stance, pushing her daughter to her side defensively. "Hello," she said in the same British accent as her daughter. It was smooth and calming, but there was a certain light coldness to it. "I don't believe I've seen you around here before…"
"I'm Dante Price," he held out his hand which she didn't take right away, looking at it curiously before shaking it gently. "And this is Elizabeth."
The woman's eyed slid over to Elizabeth before they widened, and her stance completely changed as her shoulders relaxed, the hand on her daughter's shoulder lighted their grip, and her tone immediately became friendlier. "Ah, yes! I do believe we have met." She offered her hand to Elizabeth first, who shook it in a way that screamed comfortable familiarity. "I am an avid fan of yours, Miss Elizabeth, as you already know. I was planning to attend your performance tonight, actually-I wanted to discuss something with you. It can of course, wait, as it is business and no doubt you are here on pleasure."
Elizabeth smiled, and Dante was a bit surprised to see some genuine warmth there. "I'm glad you'll be able to make it. It's been a while, we have quite a bit we can talk about."
"Indeed." She looked down suddenly as the small child tugged on the hem of her mother's shirt. "What is it, Eleanor?"
"Can I go on the carousel?"
The woman, who had still not introduced herself but Dante already had a sneaking suspicion he already knew, sighed. "Eleanor, you must stay by my side at all time. I will not have a repeat of last week's incident, and you have already disobeyed my orders at least once today." She turned back to the couple, and explained, "I allowed her to run a bit in front of me while we were visiting the gallery. She went farther than she was supposed to and quickly got lost, and in her panic she nearly destroyed a thousand dollar piece of artwork. Don't ask me how, I've no idea either. I was frantic searching for her but she was right under my nose the whole time! Can you imagine?" She huffed, shaking her head and Elizabeth chuckled in response, nodding sympathetically. She then seemed to realize something as Dante smirked as well. "Oh, goodness, I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Sofia," she offered, then paused for a split second before continuing. "Sofia Lamb." She nodded once at him, smiling pleasantly. "And this is my daughter Eleanor, as I'm sure you've already gathered."
"I'm turning seven soon!" she grinned, in lieu of a greeting.
"Seven?!" Dante gasped, looking shocked as he glanced at Eleanor, though to everyone except for the child it was obvious he was faking. He leaned down a bit to be at eye level with her, wearing his best kid-friendly smile and impressed face. "Woah, you don't seem almost seven. You act more like a grownup!"
At this Eleanor shifted from confused to giddy. She giggled, bouncing on her feet a bit as she smiled. "Yep! Mum says I'm 'more mature' than the other kids. I don't know what that means but she says it's good."
"It is, don't worry. You must be pretty smart, then! Hey, do you like books, then?"
"I do! Mum has me read lots and lots of books. I'm reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells right now, and it's really good."
"The Time Machine, huh? I read that too recently. It's a great book, and definitely worth the read-it's probably one of my favorites."
Eleanor gasped in delight, and a quick glance at Sofia herself revealed that she was surprised but not unpleased with Dante's attempt at conversation with her daughter. In fact, when Eleanor looked up at her mother to see if she was listening, Sofia smiled and nodded her head, encouraging her to continue the conversation.
"Eleanor, since you're almost seven, do you have any idea what you want to be when you grow up?"
Eleanor paused at this, seriously considering the question before shrugging. "I'm not sure. Mum says that I'll grow up to change Rapture for the better, and I'm going to save it. Maybe a doctor or something then? That would be cool. Or maybe a teacher like Mum!"
"Indeed," Sofia cut in, smiling down at her daughter. "Eleanor is a very special child, as you have already surmised, Mr. Price. She is to be a composite of all Rapture's genius-the first living Utopian, serving the world at large with no regard to herself. Continuing my life's work long after I am gone."
Dante wanted to make a snarky remark about how living your failed dreams through your children is a foolish and reckless thing to do, but he wisely decided that now was most definitely not the time. Clearly Elizabeth had some sort of connection to this woman, either informational or genuine, and he was not about to ruin that either way. "Sounds like she has quite the destiny," he said instead, nodding in faux appreciation. "And please, call me Dante."
Sofia didn't pick up on it, apparently, because she smiled serenely. "Yes, she does. I am glad to see that Miss Elizabeth spends her time with people as intelligent as herself-you are indeed a rather remarkable young man. I do hope we'll get better acquainted in the future. In the meantime-" and here she turned to Elizabeth again "-would you like to walk around with us? Both of you," she added quickly as Elizabeth was about to protest on Dante's behalf. "I think Eleanor has taken quite the liking to you, Mr. Price." Here she lowered her voice, taking advantage of Eleanore's momentary distraction by a passing woman with a sparkly purse. "I do think it would be good for Eleanor to talk with someone other than me-I can only answer so many of her questions, and she grows weary of me. She needs...friends, but the children around here are so..." she made a face. "Nevermind."
"Crude, I'd guess," Elizabeth offered, "Lots of kids pick up stuff from their parents that they aren't supposed to, and not all of them are nice, so it would make sense. Though I must say, as a child with a similar upbringing, the loneliness is unimaginable. Of course we'll walk with you and Eleanor, as well-I'm sure we've lots to talk about. Have you heard Ryan's new absurd policy..?"
They walked along, Elizabeth and Sofia talking politics while Dante and Eleanor were talking about other things. The conversation came to a halt as they came to the Chase Carousel, the multiple colored horses already snipping round and round as children laughed with glee. The ride itself also featured a herd of gazelle being chased by lions, all of which were adorned in circus attire, and a jingle played as the ride operated, its cheerful bells a wonderful accompaniment to the squeals and squawks of children.
Eleanor's face perked up as she turned to her mother, lightly tugging at her skirt and pointing at the ride. Sofia sighed, but nodded, and the girl raced off to join the queue of kids already in line to join the next ride. Sofia turned to Elizabeth and Dante and shook her head. "I know it is only natural for her to want to interact with other children her age, but...I just don't know what to do. Anyways."
"To be fair, it should be natural that she'd need to interact with other kids. Sure they're no saints, but if you want her to grow into a sociable person, she needs to know what people are like." Dante elaborated.
Elizabeth shot him a warning look, but Sofia, surprisingly, nodded. "I suppose you are right. Perhaps I should start a youth group within my club or some such thing….have her around like minded individuals…" now she was making more to herself than the others, but Elizabeth quickly regained her attention.
"Sofia, did you hear about James? Grace's…"
Sofia's voice and face suddenly took on a somber tone, shaking her head sadly. "Indeed I did. She came to me that very night, practically in tears. Of course I suspect what happened, we both do—a dreadful thing. Grace is practically family to me, one of my most staunch supporters and an aunt to Eleanor. Ryan claims this city is for speaking your mind, but God forbid your mind disagrees with his."
"Ryan's gotten out of control," Elizabeth sighed. "This whole city's going to hell. You can't speak your mind with being persecuted, you can't practice your own religion, you have to constantly fear for the safety of your children lest they be taken away from you and turned into little Frankenstein's—good Lord, it's turning into the surface."
"Wait, what is this about Grace Holloway? Who is James?"
"You know Grace?" Elizabeth asked in surprise, but then dismissed it, figuring Dante would tell her later if she asked. "James is-was-Grace's...partner. He disappeared just a couple of weeks ago; he was an avid protester against Ryan, and organized a few rallys. Then one day he just...disappeared. Right under our noses." She sighed, finally allowing the wear and tear of the city to show on her face. "And we all know what happens to people who go against Ryan. James was a good man. Grace thought he was gonna ask her to marry him. Now she's stuck in fear of her life, sining pro-Ryan propaganda and going against everything she believes because she doesn't want to disappear too."
"Ryan's a sick man," Sofia commented lowly. "He claims to want all these things for Rapture; freedom, loss of censorship, human decency-but he's just turned what could have been this centuries' utopia and turned it into another shiny city whose beauty only runs surface deep. Given time, and the correct resources, I could probably change this city just enough to make a difference. It's all about making friends with the right sort of people, I suppose."
"Well, I wish you safety on that. Can't make new friends without making a few enemies." Dante replied cryptically.
The conversation came to a sudden halt then, none of them quite knowing what to say after something like that. They watched Eleanor get her turn on the carousel, listened to the uproarious laughter of the kids, and hear that somewhat annoying jingle play on a loop again. Sofia looked at the carousel, then at Dante and Elizabeth. She seemed to be debating something.
Finally, she seemed to have made up her mind, and asked, rather suddenly, "Are you ever planning on having children, Miss Elizabeth?"
"Oh," Elizabeth nearly choked on her mouthful of chips. She swallowed, a sudden crimson blush on her face. "I. Uh...well, the question of...that...I never really thought about it. I suppose it wouldn't be too bad, but kids aren't really my forte and well, to be honest I haven't even thought of getting married yet. I'm still young, you know. I...had a very lonely childhood, as you know Sofia. I don't think I have the skills to raise a child the right way. I don't have that maternal instinct everyone's so crazy about." She shrugged, and Sofia nodded, understanding. A pensive look crossed her face, and then she turned to Dante, who froze, knowing what was coming.
"And you, Mr. Price? Is your answer much the same?"
"Uh.." Dante started to rub the back of his neck, this question not being new but very awkward to answer. "Well, I have been approached by several prospective individuals who wanted me to...essentially, wanted me to help them bear children, but I turned them down. Otherwise, I haven't thought of becoming a father. I have had to look after others children, and while cumbersome it was enjoyable."
"I see. But that does not really answer my question…"
"Then here is my answer: I'm not sure. Let's just say my life has been very complicated, and my profession dangerous. Even if I were to eventually settle down and start a family, I could never stay with them for long-my job, shall we say, takes me all over."
"Former military?" she guessed, and Dante latched onto the lie.
"Yeah, pretty much. Plus I don't want to die and just leave a family behind, that would be too cruel."
"I understand," she nodded sympathetically. "Though I suppose now that you're down here in Rapture-but no, that would still be too risky. What with everything going on…"
"True, true. But who knows? My past has a nasty habit of sneaking up on me."
"I'm pretty sure that's just a rule of life, Dante," Elizabeth smirked, shooting him an amused glance. "But anyways. In short, yeah, I don't think either of us are having any children anytime soon. But it's alright, kids aren't everything, you know?"
"Only if you aren't a mother. If you are...well, then, your children are everything."
Speaking of, Elizabeth caught movement heading towards them out of the corner of her eye, and saw Eleanor herself barreling towards them, a huge grin on her face. She immediately began babbling about how great the carousel ride was, and could she please please go again? Sofia shook her head, saying something about wanting to see the art gallery.
"Perhaps later, before we leave," she suggested, and Eleanor frowned, but nodded, realizing that that was as good as she was going to get for now. "It has been quite...shall we say, refreshing to speak with you, Miss Elizabeth, and to meet your companion. I know Eleanor enjoyed our time together as well. I shall see you tonight, and hopefully I will be able to discuss that business I mentioned with you."
"Of course Sofia," Elizabeth smiled warmly, and then at Eleanor, "It was nice seeing you again! You've grown a bit-you're nearly above my waist now. We should get going ourselves-I have some more things to show Dante before tonight."
"One more thing before we depart company," Dante spoke up, pulling something from his pocket. "I'd like to give this little token to Eleanor, if you don't mind, Ms. Lamb." He positioned it so that only she and Elizabeth could see, and Sofia nodded in approval before he leaned down and placed it in Eleanor's outstretched palm.
"It's a butterfly!" she cried happily, cradling the delicate paper in her tiny hands. "Oh, it's so pretty, and blue. Thank you Mr. Dante!"
"You can just call me Dante, thank you. And you are very much welcome. It was nice meeting you, and I hope we run into each other again."
Eleanor beamed, Sofia smiled serenely, and the three adults shared some final goodbyes before parting ways at last.
The couple made their way to the Lamb's Garden next, which was not far from the carousel. Apparently it was opened to counter Ryan's Tea Garden due to that place needing an entry fee. Inside was a botanical garden with many plants that grew in the area, fed by an artificial lighting mechanism suspended above the room. A tree was rooted to a small patch of land in the middle of the reflecting pool which had a small waterfall that emptied into it.. There was also a staircase to the left which lead up to a balcony which looked out over the room.
The two took a seat near the pool before Elizabeth asked, "So. Kids." She sighed, rubbing her temple lightly. "Honestly, I'd never really thought about it, but now that the subject has been brought up, I can't stop thinking about it. I mean, I couldn't have kids even if I wanted to, with my lifestyle and all-hopping from universe to universe, one adventure after another. Who knows if I even can? Hell, the tears in Columbia rendered Comstock sterile, who knows what they did to me, the source of the power?" She shook her head, the question weighing heavy on her mind. "I'm just not sure about it. I mean, I know I'll never settle down and start a family, so it's a stupid thing to even think about, but…"
"Elizabeth." Dante stopped her mid sentence, making sure she didn't run out of breath. "Relax. As for that subject...I'm not so certain of that myself. I've been to a bunch of alien worlds and universes here and there, but even then I'm not sure if I'm not sterile. As for if it'd work...I'm not so certain myself. I know someone who tired that, didn't work."
Elizabeth's brows raised and her eyes widened in shock. "Really? Tell me."
"A married couple were companions for the Doctor for sometime. Long story short, they had a child, lost it and then found it again. I won't go into details but afterwards...let's just say it was rough for them. Funny enough it was one life threatening adventure that got them back together and another that tore them from us."
Elizabeth didn't say anything, but nodded slowly, a pensive look on her face. She motioned for Dante to continue after a moment.
"As for the child...well, you'll meet them someday. But my point is, we could never give them a normal life. And that's good."
"How is that a good thing?"
"Think about it: I have two hearts and you can rip holes across worlds. If we were to put them through school, they'd be ridiculed, laughed at and called crazy. But if we were to take them along, we could show them something bigger, something grander, something that would shape their future. All that aside, the thought of being a father...actually terrifies me."
"That does sound nice," Elizabeth admitted, but sighed, frowning. "But all that...the stuff that's out there and the things we've seen...if I were to raise a child, I would want them to be safe, and I can't guarantee that with my lifestyle. It'd be nice, for sure, but kids are a huge responsibility and require a lot of attention and care, even the teens. We can't guarantee their safety even in the seemingly most safe of spaces, because there's always something or other going on or coming up, especially in our lives. Taking a child along, especially one under the age of ten, is extremely irresponsible and reckless." She paused for a moment, collecting her thoughts and seeming to finally decide something. "Though...then again, if the two of us..." she coughed uncomfortably, cheeks flaring up in embarrassment before sighing and continuing. "Had a kid. That child would probably be pretty powerful. Maybe they wouldn't inherit my powers-probably not actually, considering I wasn't born with them and I only acquired them when I was split across dimensions-but they would at least be half-time lord right? So maybe they'd have a better chance of surviving than most kids would. I don't know. It's still super dangerous."
"True but, who knows? The future's not entirely set in stone so the possibility is there."
"I suppose," she sighed wistfully, glancing over at a couple with their child, passing by them quietly. Nothing except their presence was of note. "Never say never, right?"
"Never say never," he agreed, and the two sat there in comfortable silence until they decided to continue through the garden, admiring the view.
After their serene visit to the Gardens, the two made their way back to High Street, and entered The Golden Rule jewelry shop, after Dante had mentioned he wanted something altered. Elizabeth left Dante at the counter, roaming around the small shop and admiring the glittering jewels as Dante asked the jeweler if he could making a little adjustment to something he held out.
The jeweler took the item in hand, inspecting it closely for several seconds. Finally, he nodded. "It shouldn't be a problem. This thing is clearly vintage-haven't seen this design since my grandmother's days-but I should be able to do what you want without any damage. It'll have to be left here overnight, though, I got some big business order from some high-end client." Clearly, even the thought of his 'client' displeased him greatly, but he quickly schooled his expression into one of neutral disinterest.
"I'm gonna need it done before seven tonight."
"No can do, buddy. I'm sorry, you're a nice fella, but this design is old-school and I'm gonna need one of my other partners to take a look at it. He's an expert in this stuff and would be able to do it better than I can. He's out today."
"Sure I can't convince you otherwise to have it done by seven?"
The man's pleasant face immediately twisted into a face of displeasure at realizing what kind of person he was dealing with, but sighed. "Well, if you must have it by then, then I'll need to charge extra for collateral. About… twenty extra? What did you need done again?"
"Just a solder job. Add a necklace loop to the back."
"Alright. I'm going to warn you upfront, this job is going to be expensive in more ways than one. My employee I spoke of, it's his one day off out of the week, so now I'll need to award him an extra day tomorrow to make up for it, and Saturday is one of our busiest days-" he sighed, shaking his head. "Nevermind. I will need to be paid upfront though-it's a store policy, one which my other employees will assure you of. About one fifty I'd say? Not including collateral."
Dante nodded,dug through his pocket and placed down few wads of cash rolled up with rubber bands. "This enough?"
"Let me check." The man unrolled the money, first making sure it was legitimate before counting it out carefully, and once he was satisfied he stored the money in the till and took the item from Dante. "It'll be done. We close at seven on Fridays, but if you want it delivered for an additional sum, we can get it to you about six. Just give your apartment name and we'll send it over via Pneumo Tube. If there's something wrong, send it back and you can pick it back up tomorrow."
"That's perfect. Thank you for doing business with you, sir." Dante held out his hand, which the jeweler reluctantly shook.
"Wish I could say the same," he replied.
Elizabeth noticed Dante walking away from the counter, and quickly moved to follow him out. They weren't but a few steps away when she turned to him and told him, "We need to get you a suit. A new one."
"What? What's wrong with the one I have now?"
She looked him up and down, frowning. "It's...too modern. Too modern for here. We need to get you a real Rapture suit, from a custom tailor. We can buy you some clothes from a regular store later, but for now only the best will do. You don't want to give Cohen the wrong impression. Also...the sneakers. They absolutely have to go."
"Mm, honey, no...I love you, but no, they don't. Also, the red...the red with the black, while very cool, doesn't really fit in around here."
"Fine, but the sneakers stay. Besides, who looks at one's shoes?"
"If you wear sneakers to my performance tonight, I'm never speaking to you again. They're hideous."
"They are not they're cool!" Dante defended but sighed in defeat. "Fine, I'll wear the fancy shoes."
The two made their way to the local tailor, and as they walked in, the tailor himself came up to greet them, a warm smile on his face as he shook Elizabeth's hand.
"Greetings, Songbird! It is truly an honor to see you here again. What do you need this time? A new dress, another cloak? Perhaps you're here to see about another faux fur shoulder cape? That white one looked lovely on you last week. Real hit." He chuckled, and Elizabeth smiled, before stepping back and pushing Dante forward. He eyed up Dante, but not unpleasantly so. Rather, he seemed intrigued, especially when it came to the shoes. "And who is this fine gentleman?"
"Enzo, this is Dante. I need a custom suit for him, the latest Rapture fashion. Think you can whip something up by seven?"
"Of course, of course! Enzo is the fastest in the business, and the most skilled. It will be done and sent to you by six! Of that, I can promise you. Come here, sir, so that my workers can take your measurements. It won't take long."
"Lead the way."
After awhile, the measurements were taken, Enzo promised that the finest fabrics would be chosen to make the suit, as well as the best leathers for the shoes, and that his workers were already on it, and with those reassurances the two took their leave.
"Enzo is one of the only people I actually consider a friend down here," Elizabeth commented offhandedly.
"That's good! I mean, six months down here, I'm glad you made some friends."
"Well, it is kind of a shame, seeing as I'll never see them again after tomorrow."
An awkward silence fell over the two, knowing what had to be done the following day and what the days following would bring to the city. But such things were not a source of great merriment, and that is exactly what Elizabeth wanted to have before tomorrow. So, she smiled, grabbed Dante's upper arm, and pulled him along to the nearest candy shop.
After arguing about where they should go next and deciding that everything else they wanted to do was more of nighttime activities, and it was still the early to mid afternoon, so after realizing this Elizabeth prompted to head back to the apartment and chill out there, to which Dante readily agreed.
They got to the apartment in record time, changed into more comfortable clothes, and relaxed on the couch, sipping on some red wine as they talked about this and that and munched on the candy they bought. As Dante pulled out a licorice from the bag, he suddenly got a brilliant idea as Elizabeth finished up the story about the woman and her cocker spaniel she was talking about.
"Tried this yet?" he asked suddenly, holding up the other end of the piece of candy. "Bite down on this."
Elizabeth, to her credit, didn't even question the strange command, and did as she was told. Dante did the same and started chewing, and she did the same. After a few moment, their lips met in the middle. The moment they did, electricity shot through them both and the kiss deepened seconds later, Elizabeth's hands pressing against the back of Dante's head while he held her hips. They could still taste the candy on the other, adding some sweetness to the kiss that got them more riled. Elizabeth pushed Dante back on the couch, settling on top of him as their hands got more adventurous and the kiss even deeper...
At first they didn't notice it, their lips still interlocking and smacking until it the bell was rung once again. Much to their disappointment, they were forced to stop as Dante got up and opened the door, adjusting his bow tie and straightening his hair before he did so.
"Package for Mr. Price?" the delivery man asked, holding out a clipboard with a pen. "Sign here please."
"Right." He signed the package and handed it back as he was given a plastic sleeve with a hanger poking out of the top and a shoebox. "Thanks."
"No problem, sir." The delivery man took back the pen and clipboard but did not leave, seeming to hover anxiously as if waiting for something.
"Oh right, tip." He chuckled, embarrassed, before digging around in his pockets for any change. He did find a pack of gum, but he figured that might not come off well. Instead he pulled a small bundle of bills from his pocket and handed it to the man. "Keep the change." Closing the door, he pulled off the sleeve as he saw it was his suit and shoes. The shoes, while not his beloved sneakers, were sharp and new, and even from here he could smell the fresh leather and admire the shine. The suit itself was a crisp grey, both waistcoat and jacket complementing the white shirt with its blue tie, which admittedly worked really well when held against Dante's dark complexion. He turned back around, walking to the living room area and holding the suit against him as he looked at Elizabeth. "What do you think?"
"Looks sharp," she nodded in approval. "And no horrid sneakers, which is a very nice touch. I told you Enzo knows what he's doing. I'm gonna give him a bonus this time, for sure. Why don't you go ahead and try it on? We've got about...an hour before we have to go? But that doesn't account for the travel time."
"Right, you should get ready as well."
The two went into separate rooms respectively and while getting changed, something popped into the pneumo tube which caught Dante's attention. Walking over, he reached in and grabbed a small box which he opened and smiled at. He left it to the side as he finished getting dressed, taking a bit to get a feel for the suit and shoes. Just as he was finishing up, he heard Elizabeth doing the same and met her as she walked out of the bathroom, a fresh layer of makeup on her face. This time, the dress she wore was of a satin-like fabric, shimmering where the chandelier light caught it and accenting her curves, standing out nicely against her porcelain skin. Two straps came from the back to cover her shoulders, and a split from just below her waist to her ankle. She wore black tights underneath it all, with black heels and black lipstick to top it all off. In her hair, she wore a silver flower hairpin that held back her bangs. A blue choker adorned her neck.
"You look stunning." Dante breathed out, taken aback by the very sudden change in appearance.
Elizabeth smirked, knowing the effect she had on him. "Why, thank you, kind sir." She mock-bowed before full-on grinning, inspecting Dante as well. "You look amazing, too. Enzo really went all out. I told you it was a good idea. How are the shoes?"
He shuffled slightly in place. "A bit tight, but they work."
"Good, good, I'm glad. Do you need anything before we head out? It's going to be a while before we come back home."
"Encore and adoring fans keep you busy, I'll bet."
"Like you wouldn't believe. But, one learns to embrace the change."
Dante shrugged, nodding a little to show he understood the sentiment. "That's fair enough. Tha aside, I'm ready to head out-but I did want to show you something. I think it's something that will really make that whole ensemble pop." And with that, he grabbed the small box and opened it to reveal the pendant as he presented it to her.
Elizabeth's eyes widened in shock, and she gasped in delight. "Oh, there's where it went. I'd been looking for that little devil all morning. Where did you find it?"
"Well, I've had it on me since the other day and decided to get it modified a bit."
"Modified…?" She asked hesitantly, now looking at the pendant with a fair degree of worry.
He turned the pendant around to show the new addition, and she sighed in relief as she picked it up and inspected it herself. "Oh, thank goodness. I thought you'd done something drastic. What exactly did you do, though?"
"I took it to a jeweler's and had them add a loop to the back so you can also wear it on a necklace. The pin is still there so you can wear it as a broach as well as a pendant."
"Wow, that's a real lollapalooza right there. All posh-like, must have cost quite a bit. Don't suppose I want to know where you got the money?"
"I kinda...sorta...hacked those Circus of Value machines that we've seen around."
"I'll admit, that's better than what I was expecting. Well, anyways, thank you, I really appreciate it. Help me put it on?"
"Of course." And he did so, fastening the pendant to the choker and resolving to buy or find a necklace chain before the had to leave for good so that she could experience both the features. Once that was done, and Elizabeth was satisfied with how it looked, the two headed out again.
Pharaoh's Fortune Casino took about twenty minutes to get to, so by the time they stepped through the doors Elizabeth could only steal a quick kiss from Dante before rushing off backstage to get ready for her performance, and leaving Dante to find a table near the front so he'd be able to actually see. After a few moments of getting settled and used to the view all around him, he startled as a man announced from somewhere unseen.
"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us this evening. We welcome you to the Pharaoh's Casino, and hope that your evening is a pleasant one, and we wish you all the best of luck. Tonight's entertainment schedule is as follows..." the announcer continued with a short list of names and their associated acts, and then he mentioned Elizabeth and the crowd immediately burst into an appreciative applause. After that, he continued with his list, and then at the end tacked on a much shorter list of appetizers for the evening and special offers for members who paid a bit extra for the casino's services. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he finally announced, "And now, finally, for the moment you've all been waiting for...our very own Songbird, Miss Elizabeth, here to serenade us with a special rendition of Dream a Little Dream! Give it up!"
Elizabeth stepped forward from behind the curtain, smiling serenely and waving a little as she stepped up to the microphone at the end of the platform. She took a few deep breaths, not audible through the microphone, and began to sing.
"Stars shining bright above you…
Night breezes seem to whisper I love you.
Birds singing in the sycamore tree,
Dream a little dream of me.
Say nighty-night and kiss me.
Just hold me tight and tell me you'll miss me.
While I'm alone and blue as can be,
Dream a little dream of me…"
Her voice was unlike anything Dante had ever heard before. It was soft and beautiful, but had a faded right edge to it, no doubt brought about her not-smoking habit. As she sang, her body swayed and her hands moved with the music, enticing and nearly hypnotic in their gracefulness. She hit each note with a precision and sureness that Dante was sure he could replicate it with any gun. Everyone else seemed to be enchanted by her as well, as they seemed to cling to every note and every breath she took. When it was finally over, as expected, the crowd cheered and wooed, and begged for more. She was all too happy to oblige.
"Times have changed,
And we've often rewound the clock,
Since the Puritans got a shock
When they landed on Plymouth Rock!
If today, any shock they should try to stand
'Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
Plymouth Rock would land on them!
In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking.
But now, God knows,
Good authors too who once knew better words,
Now only use four letter words, writing prose!
That song, too, got uproarious applause from its captive audience, ripping satisfied screams of adoration from women and men alike who once again demanded another song to sate their vicious appetite. And once more, for the final time tonight, she began to sing, and as the opening notes began to play, he recognized it as a softer version of Frank Sinatra's Fly Me to the Moon.
"Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On a, Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, baby, kiss me
Fill my heart with song
And let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore
In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you…"
The audience erupted in a show of applause and some shed tears at the beautiful and soft rendition. Still more people cheered and screamed for an encore, but Elizabeth stepped back as the clapping continued and bowed before retreating backstage. Dante took that as a cue to which he got up and made his way to the dressing room, finding his way blocked by admirers and a two bodyguards. Making his way through the fans, he managed to get up to the musclemen and flashed his psychic paper, after which they promptly let him in. He made his way to Elizabeth's dressing room, where he didn't even have to knock before Elizabeth was opening the door and ushering him inside.
"Figured you'd get past security somehow," she commented wryly, planting a kiss on his cheek. "Though you could have waited. I wouldn't have been long." She grinned to let him know she was at least half joking.
He grinned back. "Well, you know me and patience goes as well as cats and dogs. Otherwise you did marvelously out there."
"Maybe you should work on that, then. And thank you, that means a lot coming from you. I mean, I kinda figured with all the cheering and applause, but you know."
"Yeah." He made his way over to a nearby chair and sat down, browsing at all the gifts and flowers that were gifted to her. "Gotta admit, I'm surprised by the amount of admirers you have. Guess You Belong to Me really touched some hearts."
"For sure. I know it touched mine. I always...always think of Booker when I sing that song. Brings some of that sadness to life."
Noticing her shift in tone, Dante got up and held her hands in his. "You miss him terribly, don't you?"
Dante nodded sympathetically, squeezing her hands gently. "Alright, here's an idea: once we get out of here, let's visit a Booker who still has his Anna and give them a little bit of help."
Elizabeth visibly flinched. "Oh, I-I don't think that's such a good idea, me seeing him after-so soon. I know he doesn't remember me and it's been an eternity between worlds, and I know technically I've seen him again since that, but he...well...I mean. I don't think I'm ready for that. You're sweet, Dante, really, but-"
"We're not going to meet him face to face, just give him a small bit of help. Think of it like being a guardian angel."
Elizabeth nodded, but she still seemed apprehensive. "If you say so."
"Though, now that you mention it…" Dante pondered aloud, an idea forming in his head. "Well, it's nothing, just a thought."
"I was just reminded of something…" he struggled for something to say, knowing she'd push if he told her not to worry. "Just reminded of something from my past. Nothing bad, I promise," he lied, feeling bad for doing so.
Elizabeth nodded, satisfied with the answer. "Okay. Anyways, I do have some things to do around here before I wrap up for the night. Keep me company?"