“Hello, Mei Fan.” A soft quiet voice cut through the noise of the bar as a blonde woman, stood by the pianist there. It was unusual. For a bar of all places to have a grand piano. It was unusual to see a former Siegfeld student, two even to be at the bar in the first place, more so for one of them to actually work in such a place. Yet, life worked in mysterious ways, intertwining the threads of fate.
“Shiori,” The former Frau Rubin exclaimed as her eyes widened, staring at the former Frau Perle. Time had treated them both well. Mei Fan sported a typical black and white tux, with a tie that matched her ever fiery personality.
“It has been so long-” Mei Fan said, standing from her seat to greet the now-grown Shiori with a small bow. The younger Yumeoji had definitely grown into a lady. She wore a simple yet elegant white and mint dress that resembled her former revue outfit even to the extent of giving her a little air of strength.
"-too long, actually." The blonde interrupted the purple-haired woman as she gave a small small smile, “would you mind if you played some of the old songs for me?”
“O-of course,” Mei Fan replied all too quickly, clearing her throat as she sat back down, “I mean, I wouldn't mind at all.”
A familiar tune began to fill the room as the pianist played. Platinum Forte. It sounded different on the piano. It was calmer, softer, as if remembering the glory days. Mei Fan almost did until she heard the words that left Shiori's mouth.
"Where is Akira?" The blonde asked as she relaxed by the piano, staring intently at the purple-haired woman.
"I-i don't know," Mei Fan answered, keeping her eyes focused on the piano, "I haven't seen her all night." She silently prayed that Shiori wouldn't notice her fidget in her seat or press further.
But just as her luck would have it, Shiori did.
"Oh, when will she be back?" The former Frau Jade asked almost innocently.
Mei Fan glanced at the door near the back of the bar before refocusing on the piano keys. She cleared her throat as she refused to look at Shiori.
"Not tonight, no more," the purple-haired woman said, pursing her lips, "She isn't coming. She uh… went home."
"Does she always go home this early?" The curious blonde continued to press.
"Oh, she would never-",Mei Fan let out a snort, answering Shiori before catching herself, "I mean… She has found someone and is with her… all the time."
Shiori giggled, shaking her head as she had a knowing glint in her eyes.
"You used to be a much better liar, Mei Fan-senpai," the blonde said as she leaned against the piano.
"Leave her alone, Shiori," Mei Fan quietly begged, "you're bad luck to her."
Shiori was quick to hide the hurt on her face, speaking up once again.
"Play it, Mei Fan-senpai," it was Shiori's turn to beg, "for old time's sake."
Mei Fan steeled herself, swallowing back the growing nervousness she was feeling.
"I- I don't know what you mean, Shiori." The chinese woman managed to stutter out as she stared down at the piano keys.
"Play it, Mei Fan," Mei Fan silently took note of the lack of honorific, "Play 'Rose Poems'."
"Oh, I can't remember it, Shiori," she said as she cleared her throat, "I'm a little rusty on it."
"I'll hum it for you, " Shiori quickly offered as her soft voice began to sound the old, familiar notes of the song.
Mei Fan let out a shaky sigh before finally relenting to the blonde's request. Soon, the song began to play on the piano's strings. Just as the intro was about to end, Shiori added one more request.
"Sing it, Mei Fan."
Sekai no iro ga hora kawatte yuku
Wasurete ita yasuragi harukaze no yо̄
Sekai no iro ga hora kawatte yuku
Koi no uta o machikogarete
A door from afar all but violently swung open as Mei Fan felt a pair of angry eyes on her. Telltale footsteps stormed to where the piano was.
“Mei Fan, I thought I told you never to play-” The enraged voice stopped mid-sentence as purple met aqua.
Shiori was first to recover as she noticed two other people approaching.
Claudine removed her hat as she smiled at the younger blonde.
“Well, you were asking about Akira and here she is. Mademoiselle, may I present-”
“- Hello, Shiori,” Akira said as she stood tall, adjusting her tie. She continued to stare into Shiori’s eyes; but her face was blank, emotionless. Guarded.
“Hello, Akira,” Shiori replied with a gentle smile on her face. She too continued to stare back into Akira’s eyes, her face reflecting some sort of sadness, loneliness even.
“Oh,” Claudine looked back and forth between the two, clearing her throat, “you’ve already met Akira, Mademoiselle?”
There was only silence that passed between the two. Neither offered any sort of answer.
“Well then,” Claudine moved to introduce the one other person with them, “perhaps you also know-”
“This is Akikaze-sama,” Shiori walked over to Akikaze Rui, looping her arm around the taller woman.
“How do you do?” The raven-haired women greeted the bar owner.
"How do you do?" The silver-haired woman echoed back, purple eyes now staring intently into ruby ones.
Rui's eyes shone with interest as she gave Akira a small nod.
"One hears a great deal about Yukishiro Akira in Casablanca." She said as if to give regard to the woman before her.
"And about Akikaze Rui everywhere." Akira answered back smoothly.
Throughout the entire exchange, Akira felt as though Shiori's eyes never stopped staring at her. It took so much of Akira's focus to keep her own gaze away that she barely heard the question Rui had for her.
"–for a drink?"
Claudine let out a laugh as she wore a knowing look on her face. She knew what Akira would answer, or at least she did.
"Oh, no, Akira never –"
"-Thanks. I will." The former Frau Platin cut in, making the blonde captain stare in disbelief.
"Well! A precedent is being broken," The captain, Claudine, scanned between the two before calling the waiter, “Er, Emil!”
Akikaze led the blonde on her arm to her seat as Akira sat down herself.
"This is a very interesting cafè," Rui began to say as she sat down beside Shiori, "I congratulate you."
"And I congratulate you," Akira replied immediately, stealing a glance at Shiori's direction.
"What for?" Rui pursed her lips, maintaining her composure but almost instinctively holding on to Shiori's hand.
"Your work." The silver-haired girl clarified with a small smile on her face.
"Thank you," Rui smiled back as her hold on Shiori's hand relaxed ever so slightly, "I try."
“We all try,” Akira smirked as she took a champagne flute from the waiter that had just arrived, tilting it to Rui’s direction, “You succeed.”
Rui raised her brow, opening her mouth to speak up, at least before Claudine cut her off. The blonde looked back and forth at the bar owner and the former Frau Jade.
“I can't get over you two,” the officer stared at the silver-haired girl, “she was asking about you earlier, Akki, in a way that made me extremely jealous."
Akira let an exasperated sigh escape her as she pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Saijou, I told you to never call me that…," Akira said before being cut off by Shiori.
"Akki?" She echoed with a small, almost fond smile, "I wasn't sure you were the same. The last time we met-"
"–It was 'La Belle Aurore.'," it was Akira's turn to cut in, just barely returning the smile Shiori had.
"How nice. You remembered," Shiori replied, a hint of sadness tainting her tone, "But of course, that was the day the Germans marched into Paris."
"A hard day to forget," Akira sipped on her champagne, "In fact, I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue."