"No! You surely jest? Cross was a professor? Oh please you must tell me more!" Mia's cup splashed slightly as she waved her hand in mirth before downing the plum wine and quickly filling it back up, but not before she took a moment to top off the glasses of the rest of those seated at the table.
"Must we?" Cross said, quiet enough to not be heard as he blocked Makina's outstretched cup with his hand. The Spirit Goddess pouted but Cross did not relent.
Having to deal with a sober Makina was a daunting enough task.
Lexi sipped her wine at a more leisurely pace. "He was quite a good professor, to speak truthfully. His knowledge of magic theory was impressive and I even learned some things I did not know."
"So what was the cause in the end?"
"A succubus." Lexi explained the situation. How Eliza had used the school as her hunting grounds, slowly siphoning off life force from the students. How Lara had used her own abilities to contact the guild. She faltered however, as she came near the end of the story, her eyes darkening. "She…. caught me by surprise. It was like I was trapped inside of myself. I could feel my body moving, but I had no control over it. Even when I saw Cross I…."
"Lexi was the one who took her down in the end." Cross took over for Lexi. "I was pretty much running scared. A few more seconds and she probably would have killed me. If I wasn't immune to her charm, I wouldn't have even had that."
"Team work. That is why you were able to survive." Mia reached over and playfully ruffled Cross's hair. "I'm glad to see you've surrounded yourself with people you can trust."
Cross moved to push her hand away then relented, allowing himself to be pulled into what amounted to a headlock, carefully using a single finger to keep Mia's cup from spilling wine onto both of them as she gestured around the table.
"What else have you done? I have heard many things have been happening on the mainland. Magic seems to be flourishing again. I imagine that has kept you quite busy."
"We totally defeated a spider person," Romeo said nonchalantly, tipping back his glass and draining it in a single gulp. "Wasn't really hard or anything."
"Banksy defeated her," Makina said. "You were unconscious for a good portion of it, if I remember correctly."
"We all worked together," Banksy mumbled softly into his cup. "I didn't do that much."
"He's being modest," Lexi said. "Without Banksy there the mission would have been a complete failure.
Romeo rolled his eyes "Yeah fine, Banksy did do some stuff I guess, but I was the one who took out the guards. And I was under some kind of spell. Not unconscious, thank you very much. At least not until the end. And at least I was there. Cross got kicked out of the house before the fun even began."
"Ho?" Mia's grip around Cross's neck tightened. "Maybe you're not as helpful as I thought."
"It worked out for the best anyway. I had a courier request back at the guild."
"And how did that go?" Mia asked. She showed no signs of releasing Cross any time soon.
"It went…" Avril's face flashed through Cross's mind. Something somewhere between a grimace and a smile crept onto his face. "I completed the request."
"I see." Mia gave him one final squeeze before letting him go and turning her eyes on Lexi. "I am told you are also known as Midnight, yes?"
Lexi shifted in her seat slightly. "Yes. I am."
"I thought it odd, when Jiana told me. I was under the impression that Midnight was a man. He was even seen here before."
Lexi's expression grew dark and she tossed a glance around the table, but no one else would meet here eye, save for Makina who did not understand what was going on.
"Yes. The guild felt it would be helpful if my identity was kept… vague. I would not go so far as to call it secret but still…"
"A wise move. I'm sure Jiana had a hand in it." Mia nodded. "You are also the most recent winner of the Dance of Blades."
"Wonderful tournament. I hope to attend again in the future. Tomo actually wished to participate this year, but unfortunately was not able to."
"Probably for the best." Cross spoke the words mostly to himself, but he still drew Mia's eye.
"I also heard rumors that a Tenchi user participated this year. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you Cross?"
Cross choked on his wine. Coughing hastily he shook his head. "Not particularly, no."
Makina tilted her head to the side. "But that was you."
Banksy and Romeo both fought to contain a snicker as Cross grew pale, his eyes quickly flicking to Mia then returning down to the table.
"So, Cross," Mia placed her wine glass down and leaned towards him. "Did you win?"
Cross did not look up. "Not… Exactly."
"What happened? Did you lose focus?"
"I… I wouldn't say that I lost focus so much that I…"
"His opponent kissed him and he let her go even though he had a sure win. Then she stabbed him." Makina said plainly as she reached across the table and snagged a sweet bun. "It was very pathetic to watch." She spoke through a mouthful of food. "I was ashamed to call him my servant."
"I see." Mia stared at Cross for a long time. "Well, was she at least pretty?"
Cross sighed as Banksy and Romeo broke down into outright laughter.
Misa arrived shortly after dinner concluded. She declined the offered leftovers, apparently having found her own food somewhere along the way. After she fielded a small amount of questions from a somewhat inebriated Mia, the party had made their way to a building just outside of the temple.
"The temple has long hosted guests," Mia explained as they walked, one of her arms around Cross's shoulder for support. "This inn is almost as old as the temple itself. We are in the process of finishing up the renovations, but we have opened some of the rooms. The hot springs are also open for use. I highly recommend them. I actually think I will head their myself."
Mia pushed off from Cross and gave them a cheery wave. Cross cleared his throat. "Master."
Mia glanced back at him, her eyes narrowing slightly. "Master?"
Cross grimaced slightly. "…Auntie."
Mia's smile returned. "Yes?"
"Oh yes, yes, yes." Mia reached into her robes and produced three keys. She pushed them into Cross's hand. "Three of our best rooms. Balconies overlooking the beach and away from the workers."
"Three…" Cross looked down at the keys. He opened his mouth to say something, but Mia was already long gone. Silently he handed the keys over to Lexi.
"Is she always like that?" Lexi asked.
"…Yes." Cross said after a long moment of thought. "It's worse when the Mistress is here to indulge her."
"I see…" Lexi looked down at the keys. "Alright, we have three rooms. That means someone is going to get a room to themselves."
"Why?" Misa asked, her eyes quickly scanning the group. "Myself, Cross, you, Makina, Banksy, and Romeo. Two in each room would be sufficient."
"Well, Yes," Lexi said slowly. "But there are three men and tree women, you see."
Misa nodded. "Yes?"
Lexi Looked at Cross for help but he had suddenly found the sky to be very interesting. "You see, Misa… It's not… It's not Proper for men and women to sleep together in the same room… Do you understand?"
Misa's head tilted. "Human men and women do not share rooms? I was under the impression that they did."
"We do more than share the room," Romeo whispered to Banksy, only to receive a sharp elbow from the thief who was watching the exchange with rapt interested.
"Well I… They do but… I mean," Lexi's cheeks were growing redder by the second. "In our situation it wouldn't be proper.
"I do not see the problem. I have slept together with Cross many times," Misa said.
Cross's head snapped towards Misa almost as fast as the rest of the groups snapped towards him. He stared at her for a long time, mouth opening slightly before he cleared his throat and grabbed one of the keys from Lexi's hand. "Right, then. So uh, me and Banksy will stay in a room together. You three girls can take a room, and we'll let Romeo have the room to himself."
"Hey wait! That's not fair," said Banksy. "Why does Romeo get his own room?"
"Do you really want to be in the room again when Romeo brings someone back?" Cross said, pointedly ignoring both the rapidly dropping temperature and the unsettling flickering of the lights. "Everyone good? Good. Let's go."
Without another word Cross grabbed his bag and quickly made his way off. After a moment of grumbling Banksy followed after him. Lexi's hand came up to stop him, but in that one distracted moment she felt a strange feeling on her hand. Her eyes snapped down just in time to see the second key suddenly spark before flying towards Romeo. He caught it with a deft hand. With a cheeky grin he ran off before anyone could stop him, the key held high above his head.
"Everything is turning up Lovejoy!"
"I'm going to kill them," Lexi sighed, her hand closing tightly around the only remaining key. Letting out a breath through her nose she turned on Makina and Misa. "Well, I suppose we will be sharing a room, then."
Makina did not look particularly pleased. "I really do hate that idiot. More than the other two idiots, I mean. He is probably the biggest idiot of all the idiots in all the world." Makina sniffed.
Lexi wasn't entirely sure which idiot she meant. Not that she disagreed either way.
While not seeming to have any sense of preference towards the current situation, Misa did have a question.
"Lexi?" Misa's eyes momentarily glanced towards the direction Romeo ran off.
"What does Romeo do with people he brings back to his room that Cross and Banksy both wish to avoid?" Misa said.
"What… Oh, well you see… It's… How do I…." Lexi's cheeks grew pink and she quickly cleared her throat as Misa, and Makina, stared at her expectantly. "He… He gets to know them better."
"I see." Misa nodded, before asking. "Are we going to get to know each other better, then?"
Lexi's face went completely red and while her mouth opened, no sound managed to come out save a small squeak. A question formed on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn't find the will to fully vocalize it.
Finally she shook her head and slumped her shoulders. "It has been a long day. Perhaps it would simply be best if we were to call it an early night."
"Speak for yourself, I am not the least bit tired!" Makina declared through a very telling yawn. "Furthermore, I still do not see why I did not get a room to myself."
Lexi smiled, the simplicity of Makina's annoyance managing to abate some of the tension inside her. She reached out and gently rubbed Makina's head. "Don't fret, Maki. Sleepovers are fun."
Makina let out a huff but nodded never the less.