Callum ambled through the maze of storage racks in the Etxe‘s backroom. Rails and rails of different costumes lined the path, and he found himself squeezing past uniforms of tulle skirts, galaxy-coloured spectrum of tutus and other copious amounts of fabric. More than once did he find himself stumbling over long trains of gowns halfheartedly hung up and left to quite poor keeping. The feet of his crutches carefully nudged away stray bits of beads, feathers and cloth out of his path, and he noted which dresses they fell off from. Looks like his work was cut out for him. By the yards.

He imagined the girls fussing about in the dresses, running through their choreographs, songs and plays; and Mama standing up on the box balcony making sure everything planned out went smoothly. Marion would be practicing her ballet in some corner , doing that scary, almost supernatural stretching splits of hers. He chuckled at the image.

The racks and rows of costumes came to an end and the pillars of shelves and boxes began. He scanned the area slowly, noting which contained shoes and props and which contained other items like light bulbs and cables. He stopped to admire a particularly interesting disassembly of a festive chandelier, probably used for winter decoration. Its icy-blue plexiglass branch extensions stuck out from the shelves, reflecting the store-room’s soft white light beautifully and cast equally shimmering shadows on the dark floor.

What did he come down here to look for again? Oh, right; sewing machine parts. It was very easy to get distracted. At least everything was more or less quite easy to find. Trust Mama to take care of her ‘house’ as much as she takes care of her girls.

He eventually came upon a row of shelves that would most probably have what he was looking for, way at the back; past all of the decorations and equipment parts. Rolls and rolls of uncut fabric, boxes and drawers full of buttons, bells and other attachable ornaments, and bales of colourful threads lined the shelves right up to the ceiling. He smiled to himself, slightly excited with all the supplies he had been given. A consultation with Mama and the girls was needed however, as he really wasn’t much of a designer.

As he slowly combed through the boxes searching for the parts for the sewing machine, he became aware of a hushed conversation at the far corner of the storeroom, just behind the wall of fabric rolls. His military training snapped in, and he immediately strained to make out what the words were. He froze in awkward silence as he realised that they were from a female and a male, whispering loving words in between kisses.

Callum bit his lip and made to leave quietly, but one of his crutches snagged on a corner of a ribbon roll, and dragged down a loud box of bells with it, which thankfully did not burst out all over the floor. He stared at the mild damage, mortified, and was aware that the delicate conversation turned into worried hushes. Before he could move, a rush of golden curls and light pink skirt folds ran into view.

Bogdana stood before him, her fists bunched into her skirt, her collar messily done up in a haste. She was flushed, but with worry. “Callum!” she exclaimed, but still in whisper. “Umm, hi, Bo,” he smiled, attempting to neutralise her obvious fear.

She dropped to her knees, almost in tears. “Please please PLEASE don’t tell! Please!,” she cried. Callum’s mouth dropped open in shock. He looked to where she ran out from, and noticed a boy peeking at him from behind the shelves. Upon noticing that he had been discovered, the boy slowly stepped into full view.

Ah, a Naraka native, distinct by his soot-covered skin and brightly coloured eyes. Callum immediately understood the gravity of the situation. The boy stared back at him, worried, but defiant. He trembled with concern, his eyes darting from Bo to Callum repeatedly.

Callum sucked in a breath, and got down onto his one knee. “Bo. Bo!” he held out a hand to the nearly sobbing girl who repeatedly begged him for confidant. The girl collected herself, heaving ragged breaths. The boy reached out to her as well, but hesitated on Callum’s sight. Callum bit his lip and got to standing again.

Wordlessly, he turned to the shelves, resuming his search for the sewing machine parts. Bo and her boyfriend remained where they were, paralysed with worry. Eventually, Callum found what he was looking for and held the box out to the boy. The boy shuffled forward, wary, and opened the box.

“Know what those are?” Callum asked. The boy analysed the contents of the box. “Spool pins, presser feet; sewing machine parts?” he answered tentatively. Callum nodded. “If anyone asks, tell them you were down here, looking for these for me,” he instructed. The boy stared back at him, his green eyes wide with surprise. Bo sniffed and got to her feet. “Does Marion know?” he asked, just to be safe.

Bo wiped her face and took the boy’s hand. “She, she introduced Dror to me. She didn’t mean for a relationship, but, well,” she admitted shyly, looking to the boy, Dror, with eyes filled with such love he himself had for Marion. “She told us to hide back here,” Dror said, still hesitant. Callum nodded. The Etxe‘s resident seamstress had been gone for more than three months now, which meant that this particular area was sure not to have any visitors. Until him that is.

Bo explained to Dror about Callum. Her voice had returned to its gentle, high-pitched tone and Dror also seemed to relax as he took in the information. Callum, much like him, was not a resident of Avalon, and his handicap meant that he was subject to equally harsh stares from the upper class inhabitants. He did flinch a little at the mention of Callum being a soldier awaiting re-enlistment, but Callum merely shrugged.

“I’m also waiting for the augment-tech application to go through, or they won’t want me back. Not really effective on the field with only one leg,” Callum smiled humorously. Dror’s eyes brightened at the sound of augment-tech. “You becoming cyborg? Can I see the new leg?” he asked. Callum smiled at the new-found excitement the boy-mechanic had and promised that he would be able to, once and if it came in.

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