"Are you frakkin' with me?!"
Mouse said outloud to her empty room, her voice cracking as it rose in pitch. She was looking at the contents contained within a long, slender white box that had been waiting for her when she returned to her room. The teen had no idea who the package was from or what it was.
Mouse was stunned to see such an extravagance waiting for her. Never before had she been given a gift so perhaps it was understandable when the girl began to cast a wary eye around her room, as if searching for the hidden camera or waiting for someone to pop out unexpectedly to snatch it away and laugh maniacally at her while pointing a jabbing finger in her direction.
But no such thing happened. In fact, Mouse even went to the door to check up and down the hall to see if anyone was lurking but the place seemed practically void of life. It should be that way, too. Ghost's private ship was inhabited by just the two of them so the only other warm body onboard at any given time should be Tyler. His whereabouts were not known to the girl at the moment, either. Still, she dared to venture out of the bunk room and up the hall a little, keeping an eye out for the man who was not only Mouse's best friend, but her guardian as well.
Even on the way back to her bunk room, Mouse cast a wary eye down the opposite end of the hall but didn't see anything that would indicate anyone else was on the ship with her. "Hnh."
She grunted to herself quietly, leery of the silence surrounding her, but she went back to her room and allowed herself to feel excited anticipation at what could possibly be inside of that box on her bed.
Mouse walked over and stood next to the bed. There was a large red bow on top and a card tucked underneath. The girl was afraid to touch it, afraid it would just disappear in thin air if she dared to allow herself to get too excited over the prospect of receivng a gift. The girl brought her left hand up and nervously chewed down her left thumbnail, a nasty habit she'd developed while owned by that slimey Bothan. Mouse studied that present as if it would take strategic planning to open it. Ghost, had he been watching, would have smiled, seeing the way she'd been reacting.
Finally the girl moved with resolve, reaching for the card but at the last minute drawing her hand away. She wasn't sure. Perhaps it was a gift meant for someone else, like maybe that Laryssa bitch
and Ghost had just set it down in here because he forgot something else. Maybe he'd be back in a few minutes to retrieve it. Mouse fidgeted, paced the room, and when she was positive that at least fifteen minutes had passed with no signs of Ghost coming to pick the gift up, she spun around on her heels and eyed the box square on from across the room.
Determined now and the devil be damned, Mouse would have that gift! So she marched across the room, closing the distance from the far wall to the cot in four long strides, she swiped the card from beneath the bow as if she owned it! For just a moment though, Mouse was certain that peeling the card from the gift set off an unseen trap, she looked up and around just to be sure someone or something wasn't about to pounce.
The tip of her finger slid beneath the flap of the envelope and slid across, breaking the seal. Mouse peeked inside then withdrew the small placard sized card. The outside was beautifully pressed, the image of an exotic flower Mouse had only seen once in an advertisement. She ran her fingertips over the image, memorizing the way the raised image felt beneath her fingers. A small, crooked grin pulled at her lips.
Very carefully she flipped the card open and read what was hand-written inside. It was Ghost's handwriting, of that she was certain. It read:
"Sixteen should be sweet. Especially for you. Have fun."
Mouse bit her lower lip, her thoughts turning quite serious as she slowly re-folded the card and slipped it back into its envelope then set it on her cot next to the package. Her motions careful, Arabella pulled one of the two tails from the ribbon and slowly unravelled the tie. Then she lifted the lid from the box and slowly peeled back one of the folds of red tissue paper, then the other. The young lady stared down at the black dress within, it's dark color such a striking contrast to the vivid red tissue paper cradling it tenderly.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Mouse arrived on the Intimidator by Imperial shuttle, apparently pre-arranged by Ghost. The girl almost dared herself to feel special for the night but knew better than to truly let down her guard. Still, it was kind of nice to experience the wonder of being a teen and going to her first dance, even if she knew it would come to an end and reality would greet her in the morning.
The dress Tyler had chosen for her was a simple black ensemble that he had paired with simple black heels. Arabella cleaned up rather nicely and she only managed to stumble and stagger awkwardly in the first few steps of departing the shuttle. Those who saw what she'd done snickered but at least they were polite enough to do so under their breath. One couple even had the manners to turn their heads and clear their throats when her eyes landed right on them, burning a hole right through with a baleful glower.
Mouse despised those with wealth. Or, more to the point, she despised those with wealth who thought they were better than everyone else, those who also hoarded their precious credit chits, rare collections, and shining jewels.
came a tinny voice from inside the buckethead armor of an Imperial stormtrooper who had stopped her. Looking around, Mouse could see that she wasn't the only one being detained and required to show proof of identity. Everyone had to pass thru security.
"Oh. Well, you know, I think I have it here somewhere,"
she said while fumbling around to open the latch on the purse that had also been included with the dress. Mouse sure hoped Ghost thought of everything because she sure as hell hadn't. People began to look at her and Mouse could feel her cheeks flushing; going from rosy pink to rose red as the heat rose in her face. Mouse had never owned a purse and so her handling of the item was less than professional, to say the least.
Finally with a loud snap, the teen grinned a the stormtrooper and passed on a nervous chuckle. Apparently the man behind the white mask wasn't impressed for he stood there just as stoic and emotionless as ever. "Right,"
Mouse muttered, then began to rummage through the items stored inside the purse. "Ah, here it is."
The girl produced her ID and handed it over. Robotically, the stormtrooper scanned the image on the ID and compared it to the girl standing before him. He checked the name with a simple scan and reviewed the information that popped up on his H.U.D. He handed the plastic card back to the girl and waved her through without so much as a word.
Mouse stood there and looked at the trooper, slowly taking her ID card from him and blindly stuffing it back into the purse. "Well don't I feel violated. Don't worry, I wasn't expecting you to respect me in the morning,"
she said sarcastically. Then she moved beyond the check point and on toward the lifts, muttering not-so-nice things under her breath.
Arabella thought she had been muttering more quietly than she truly was for the next thing she heard was a loud gasp, as if a woman had been shocked beyond belief. The look of horror on the woman's face made Mouse think she had a booger hanging from her nose or smeared across her cheek. "What?! What is it? Do I have something on my face? Did I grow a second head?"
The teen was seriously about to panic when the elder woman's husband tsk'ed loudly and, shaking his head, dragged his wife to a lift further down from the one Mouse had come to stand before.
"Well?! Do I?!"
She swiped at her cheeks with her palms, several times, just to be certain. Then, after glancing to make sure those around her were at least faking at paying her no mind, turned to see her blurry, fun-house-mirror-like reflection in the metallic frame of the lift to make sure there weren't any nasty yellowy-green lugi's hanging from her nose. Caught red-handed by another patron on his way to the dance, Mouse lowered her head sheepishly and hurriedly entered the lift, managing to only trip once and smash the toes of another. "Sorry!"
It was very apparent that the sixteen-soon-to-be-seventeen year old was very nervous. It showed in her posture, her body language, and most revealingly in her dark chocolate eyes. When the lift stopped and she saw the masses departing, Mouse figured it was the level to get off at so she followed. Her heel caught in the crack between the lift and the floor, twisting her ankle and making the girl stagger and drop toward the fall in an awkward pose. It looked much worse than it felt and was more embarassing than that!
A hand smoothed her skirt some and a few more nervous twitches finally had the girl back on the right track. Squaring her shoulders, her chin held high, Mouse strolled into the Admiral's Hall and looked around as she stepped aside. The dance floor was empty - for now - but there was a D.J kicking off with some of the latest music being played around the galaxy. A dico ball or three hung from the ceiling, the lights were dim, and there was a lavish spread of finger foods covering three tables that had to be nearly as long as the hall itself. A variety of species began to trickle in, some of which Mouse had never seen the likes of before.
The girl didn't know if Ghost was going to come to the dance or not. And if he did, she didn't know if he'd be bringing that chick from his past, another woman, or going solo. Secretly, she hoped he'd come in and dance with her, her first dance. Mouse never told the man - or anyone else for that matter - but she had quite the crush on him. Hell, it was only just recently that the teen would admit it to herself.
Arabella strolled the perimeter. It was safer. This way she couldn't trip and fall on someone or stomp on their feet. She saw the walls had been banked with dark blue silk. Large ropes of spun gold pulled the heavy curtains aside, exposing a most impressive view of space from the viewports. It actually took Mouse's breath away. The girl came upon the entry for the section of the hall that had been quartered off for those who wanted to sit and more formally dine. The tables were covered in fine linen, decorated with gorgeous center-pieces, and lit softly by the impressive chandeliers hanging from above.
Suddenly Mouse felt very much out of her element. She wasn't use to such class. She was use to dirt and grime, crude, rude talking men, and picking her next meal from the trash outside of the restaurants along skid row. Feeling quite small, Mouse just found a corner where she could watch the festivities and go unnoticed by the masses. It was probably also safer this way. Not just for her, but for those poor feet around her.