2. Romance

This is the second part of the compiled and edited log of the 2009 Memorial Party role-play. It encompasses the third string, which had two branches concerning burgeoning romances between Agents Nat and Zach (Branch 1) and Agents Cassie and Troy (Branch 2). The writing in this section comes from the following Boarders:

  • Cassie Cameron-Young (Agents Cassie Young, Nat Freidar, Kelvin Talathion, Luke Celinus, Jessie Lancaster, and Seth Emerian [Japanese DAVDer])
  • Khajidu (Agents Krisprolls, Whatever, and South)
  • Sara (Agents Sara Knight, Zach Homewood, and Bree)
  • Wingnut (Agent Deryn)
  • KGarrett (Agent Troy)

String 3, Branch 1: Nat and Zach

A number of agents wandered into the store. First were Cassie and Nat, accompanied by Kelvin as usual. Although the two girls couldn't really say they knew anybody from the Invasion last year, they'd taken the opportunity to meet people and have a couple of drinks — and pay their respects to the agents whom they knew had to have died. They snagged a Bleepka cocktail each and mingled with the crowd, with Kelvin trailing behind them sipping at a glass of wine. For some reason, the Elf got nervous in crowded places and preferred to stick to the company of people he knew.

Not far behind them came two people who seemed to give off the impression that they didn't want to be associated. The taller of the two, a solidly-built man in his mid-thirties with auburn hair and an eyepatch who went by the name of Luke Celinus, looked a little serious as he entered. However, once he was able to mingle with the crowd he began to relax and flirt somewhat with the majority of the female agents he met.

The smaller agent, a woman coming up for thirty with red hair and the name of Jessie Lancaster, rolled her eyes and headed in a completely different direction, intending to actually commemorate the sad events of last year.

Finally, a Japanese man wearing the DAVD flash patch and glasses came in. Quietly sneaking over to the drinks table, he lifted a glass in memory of his teenage partner, who had died in the catastrophe, and downed it. "Here's to you, Reece," he murmured.

Meanwhile, the Infernal Trio tried to forget the incident by drowning it in Bleepka, Bleepsinthe, Bleepnapps and Bleepquila. Krisp was busy socializing with everybody he could find, especially if they were female or if they were sitting alone in a corner.

South and Whatev mingled in the conversations. The Trio was enjoying itself. It was almost like the old days with the other tall ships.

Dragging her partner by his shirt, Sara entered the store and looked around.

"Is this really necessary?" the taller agent grumbled, readjusting his skewed glasses.

"Yes. You need to socialize more," his partner nagged, pushing him towards Cassie and Nat and scanning the room for any other familiar faces. She noted Marcus at the bar.

Zach stumbled over to their group. "Bloody nag," he grumbled over his shoulder at his brightly grinning partner. He adjusted his glasses and smiled sheepishly at Cass and Nat.

"Hey there. It's, uh, it's been a while."

Deryn wandered over, on the basis that there was a group... and if there was a group, there might be a higher chance of finding the sort of person she was after. Besides, people!

"Hey," she said, her accent a little less precise than usual. "Any of you play the trumpet?"

Unfortunately, the other agents were too busy reuniting to answer.

Nat nodded, a small smile appearing. "It 'as, yeah. 'Ow 'ave ya been?" She couldn't help but grin widely on remembering the last time they'd met up with him at a party. "Plannin' ta stay sober this time, I 'ope?"

Cassie, on the other hand, turned a vivid shade of pink and gave him an equally sheepish smile back. "Hi," she mumbled, stirring her cocktail with the little umbrella that somebody had plopped into it.

Kelvin just shared a sympathetic look with the young man and nodded his greetings.

Zach grinned. "Yeah. More sober'n that one, anyway," he said, nodding towards his partner. He bit his lip when he noticed her and Marcus fighting, but relaxed as soon as she left the room. Eying Cassie's face, he put a hand to her brow.

"Hey, are you okay? You're really hot. Have you been drinking too much?" he asked, sniffing her breath and peering into her eyes.

Cassie turned from pink to red at this. "No, I only... I've only h-had one drink, and I'm still on it..." she stammered, holding the glass up as evidence. She reached up to her brow self-consciously, but yanked her hand away when it accidentally touched Zach's. "Sorry."

Nearby, Nat and Kelvin shared a look of amusement. It seemed that Zach was getting a little bit of revenge for the Christmas party.

"Hm... well, then, you're either sick or a lightweight," Zach grinned, barely containing laughter. He slung an arm over Cassie's shoulder. "It's okay, join the club."

He looked back at Nat and Kelvin.

"So what've you guys been up to?"

Nat stifled a giggle at Cassie's expression. The shorter agent was looking both embarrassed and bewildered at Zach's behaviour, and evidently unsure of how to respond. After a moment, though, the Welsh girl paid attention to Zach's question.

"Up ta? Not much, really. Since they let Cass out o' FicPsych at the end o' March, we've been just doin' regular Suefics an' tryin' ta stay out o' trouble."

Kelvin nodded. "It's been rather uneventful, really. What about you and Sara?"

Meanwhile, Cassie, still feeling ridiculous, downed what was left of her drink in one gulp.

"Eh, the usual. Missions, keeping the minis under control, keeping ourselves relatively under control," the tall agent shrugged. He glanced back over at Cassie as she chugged her drink and raised an eyebrow.

"I'm not sure whether to get you another one or forbid you to go anywhere near the bar."

Having finished her drink, Cassie ducked away from Zach and backed off a bit. "I'm going to get another drink," she stated firmly, ignoring Nat rolling her eyes. "Won't be long." With that she headed off into the crowd, though her departure had been mostly motivated by Zach. She couldn't work out if he was trying to make her blush or if it was accidental, but either way it was probably a good idea to get out of his vicinity for a while.

Nat and Kelvin watched her go, but after a moment the younger of the two turned back to Zach to carry on the conversation. Kelvin, on the other hand, kept an eye on Cassie, just in case.

"I wouldn't bother tryin'," Nat advised Zach, looking rather amused. "If she wants ta get plastered, let 'er. I'll just make sure she doesn't get 'er 'ands on you again."

"Seconded," Kelvin added with a smile.

As the moment of silence was called, Zach found himself unconsciously rubbing his arm where it had been broken in the fight. He knew he had been lucky, pulling through with only a broken arm when many of his friends had lost their lives. He glanced over at Bree and couldn't help but quirk a smile as he watched her pull them into a big, cheesy group hug.

As the two minutes ended and conversations began slowly picking up again, he whipped off his foggy glasses and cleaned them carefully on his shirt, taking the time to wipe his eyes. When he had replaced the spectacles he noticed, to his surprise, Nat crying. He walked over to the Welsh woman and put an arm around her, awkwardly patting her back.

"Hey, hey there," he murmured, trying his best to comfort someone he'd never thought he'd see cry.

Kelvin blinked and looked gratefully at Zach. He'd had no idea Nat even knew how to cry — nothing ever seemed to touch her feelings in that way. Fortunately, their companion seemed to be at as much of a loss as he himself was. For a short while the two young males hugged their friend, before she pulled away from them both and sniffed, making a rather horrible noise.

"S-sorry," she mumbled, wiping her face with her jacket sleeve and looking ruefully at the large damp patch on Kelvin's shoulder. "Got a bit... ya know. Didn't mean ta." Sniffing again, she managed a watery smile at them both. "Thanks. Bein' stupid."

The Elf just smiled back. "You're allowed to be upset too, you know." He glanced at Zach again in hopes of his being able to come up with something to do.

"'S not stupid. D'you want me to get you a drink or something?" Zach offered, knowing from experience with his own partner that a sudden change from weepy to smiley didn't necessarily mean everything was okay. "I can go and make an idiot of myself, if you'll give me a real smile," he said earnestly.

Nat shook her head when he offered to get her a drink. "I don't want ta get off my face, thanks. An' ya probably wouldn't want me ta, I get stupid when I'm like that."

Zach offered to go and make an idiot of himself, and she couldn't have stopped the smile that spread across her face in response, even if she'd wanted to. "Ya really must want me ta smile if you're offerin' ta go an' show yourself up for it." Then, on impulse, she gave him a real, warm hug, of the kind she rarely gave anybody nowadays.

Kelvin's smile was just as wide, though mostly out of relief at seeing Nat pull herself together. "Thank you," he said gratefully to Zach, though he was doubted whether the young man heard, as Nat suddenly engulfed him in a hug.

"Oof." Zach grinned and hugged Nat back tightly. When she released him, he held her by the shoulders and smiled at her, noting amusedly that they were about the same height and that she had a nice face.

"Now, no more crying, okay? We're here to celebrate our friends, not mourn them. So will you allow this clumsy dork to take you to the dance floor, my lady?" he asked, bowing flamboyantly and offering her his arm.

Nat let out a giggle at his antics. "If ya so desire, m'lord," she replied, trying to dredge up the old-fashioned language she remembered from watching old costume dramas at home. She took his arm, grinning hugely, and examined him as they moved towards the dance floor. "Ya know, I don't think you're a clumsy dork, Zach. I like ya, anyway," she observed, before leaning over and giving him a gentle kiss on the cheek.

A few seconds later, she blinked and registered what she'd just done, at which point her face went bright red.

Meanwhile, Kelvin had watched his friends walk off without a backwards glance, and smiled slightly. At least they were looking happier. He leaned against the wall, just watching them quietly and feeling like a bit of a wallflower.

Zach chuckled. "You should smile more often. It suits you," he laughed as the stereo began playing Jack Johnson's "Banana Pancakes." Perhaps he should have been embarrassed by the kiss, but, high on adrenaline and dancing with an attractive woman, it only served to elate Zach.

Meanwhile, a small girl bounded out of the dancing crowd and grinned up at Kelvin.

"Hiya!" she exclaimed, sticking out her hand for him to shake. "I'm Bree! What's yer name?"

The Elf looked down at the small girl. "Hello," he replied with a smile, taking the proffered hand. "I'm Kelvin. It's a pleasure to meet you, Bree."

Still feeling rather embarrassed, Nat nevertheless smiled at Zach again and began swaying in time with the music. Why the hell she'd hugged him like that, and then kissed him — even if it was just on the cheek — she had no idea, but the look on his face told her he didn't mind at all, and being in his company certainly made her feel better.

Her smile growing wider, the young woman threw herself into the dancing, tugging Zach with her.

"So you're an Elf, huh?" The inquisitive Bree gazed up at Kelvin with awe. "That's pretty cool. I've always wondered what it'd be like to be an Elf. Then I could sneak up behind people and set things on fire and it'd be cool!"

Mental note: thank partner for dragging me to party. Zach was rather surprised. He was at a party. He was dancing. And hell, he was /enjoying/ it. Immensely. And he had yet to—no, best not tempt the Ironic Overpower. As Nat pulled him further into the dance he threw inhibitions to the wind and, for the first time in a long time, just let himself have fun with other people.

Kelvin had to stop for a moment at this. "Set things on fire? I... can't say I've ever done that. But I do get accused of sneaking up behind people on occasion, yes." He smiled at the perky girl. "Can I ask what you do here, then?"

On the dance floor, Nat was singing along happily to the current song — Queen music was always guaranteed to liven her up. She made eye contact with Zach and laughed, though she had no idea why she felt so happy all of a sudden.

"I burn things! Technically me an' the Dannys are in DOGA, but sometimes we take other missions, too. Krotket says that we're like the Justice League, but more fun," Bree chirped. "Whattabout you? D'you kill Sues an' stuff?"

Zach bit his lip, snickering. He was so, so tempted to sing along with Nat, but as this often precipitated his partner throwing shoes at him, he refrained. Then suddenly she made eye contact, and he blushed. She had such beautiful, intense eyes.

"You... you're beautiful," he blurted out, then blushed harder and shut his mouth. Oh, wonderful. There I go again, cocking things up.

It took him a moment to recall what DOGA did and nod. "That must be interesting. Oh, er... I'm in the Department of Mary Sues, so yes, I kill Sues. Well, when my partners aren't arguing over which of them gets to do it..." He sighed and looked upwards for a moment. "But, er, who's Krotket? Your partner?"

Nat wondered for a while why Zach wasn't singing — this song was made to be sung along with — but as she looked directly at him, he said something that she wasn't sure she'd heard properly over the music. It made her stop jumping around so madly, though, as she tried to puzzle it out.

His red face, however, informed her that she had heard him properly. Stopping dancing altogether, she looked at him again, for some reason wanting to make absolutely sure she'd heard correctly. "Wh-what did ya say?" She moved a little closer, trying to make sure she'd catch it this time.

"Oh, he's one of the Dannys! They're misspelled Davey Crocketts! There's Danny Krocket, Danny Krotket, and Danny Krochet! We all kinda work as a group. I burn stuff, and they're supposed to keep me out of trouble," she explained, wrinkling her nose.

Zach's nerves were on edge. It felt like his face was on fire... hell, it felt like his entire body was on fire. She moved closer to him, and it felt like the temperature of the room had gone up ten degrees. He could see every detail of her face in sharp relief.

"I... I said you're beautiful," he said, and just because he could, because he figured that he'd already screwed up epically and he had nothing left to lose, he brushed her cheek with his burning hand and kissed her.

"I see... that sounds very interesting." Kelvin was less than fond of the idea of what sounded like indiscriminate pyromania, but he figured that if the PPC allowed it, it couldn't be all that dangerous.

"Well, Bree..." He cast a glance over towards Nat and Zach, and whatever he had been going to say faded from his mind as he stared at the scene.

What the—? Nat's eyes opened wide as Zach told her she was beautiful, and then kissed her. Her brain tried to scream something at her, but she'd already decided it wasn't working properly, and with the sheer giddiness from her recent emotional extremes running through her, she reacted in the only way she could come up with.

She slid her arms around him and kissed back.

Bree turned to see what Kelvin was staring at, only to find her foster brother snogging a woman she didn't know. "... Holy bugger... I thought he didn't have a social life..."

Zach was in heaven. That was the only explanation. As soon as he had kissed her Nat must've killed him, and that was the only reasonable explanation for what was going on. Because the alternative, that she was actually voluntarily returning the kiss... that was ludicrous and scientifically impossible.

Then he decided that the scientific part of his brain could go to hell and wrapped an arm around Nat's waist, cradling her head with the other and finding that her hair was pleasantly soft.

Kelvin just didn't know what to say. This was Nat. She just didn't do this kind of thing. And as for Zach... well, he wasn't going to speculate, but the bespectacled young man hadn't seemed particularly impressed last time he'd been kissed. In the end the Elf just looked away, trying to give the couple a bit of privacy.

Nat wasn't really thinking all that clearly, but she was dimly aware of the fact that Zach was holding her close and seemingly in no hurry to end the kiss. She felt her body beginning to respond to being pressed against him, but eventually realised she needed to breathe, and so reluctantly pulled away.

"S-sorry..." she offered weakly once she'd managed to replenish her oxygen levels, biting her lip a little in embarrassment in case she'd upset him, but looking directly at him. Wow, his eyes were blue...

"No, I'm sorry. Either I'm dead or I'm rolling on the floor in severe pain and having a really realistic hallucination, in which case would someone please take me to Medical?" Zach rambled, flushed. Then he blinked. And kissed her again, holding her to him as if he'd never let her go.

"If I'm hallucinating, I want to hallucinate for the rest of my life."

Nat processed his rambling for a moment, and then laughed. "Right now, ta be honest—"

Zach's kiss cut her off, and she decided not to argue. She was obviously insane, but apparently Zach thought he was too, so she was in good company. Closing her eyes, she just leaned against him and let him hold her, letting herself feel happy for the first time in years.

It was perfect, but perfection is only ever fleeting. Zach rested his chin on her shoulder, taking in her scent, enjoying the moment. He expected at any minute for her to come to her senses, wrench herself out of his arms, inflict severe pain upon him, and then make sure the rest of his life was living hell. He knew that moment would come to pass, and even as he basked in her presence something in the back of his head mourned the impending loss.

"You are an amazing woman," he whispered into her neck, just so she would know before she rejected him.

She heaved a happy sigh, arms still around him. She hadn't felt like this for a long, long time, and she didn't ever want to move. "Zach..." she murmured, blinking back tears of sheer happiness.

When was the last time she'd felt this way? Despite herself, the memory rose up... and in her mind's eye her deceased boyfriend smiled at her with that cheeky smile of his. Suddenly her breath caught in a sob, and she leaned away from Zach so that she could look him in the face, unable to fight back the tears suddenly making an appearance.

"I'm... sorry..." she managed, biting her lip and fighting desperately to keep calm. "I swear, this is nothin' ta do with you, I just... I c-can't 'elp it..." Unable to look at him any longer, she buried her face in his shoulder and clung to him, still trying to fight back the urge to break down.

"Hey, hey." Zach winced, but gently led Nat to a secluded corner of the room and just held her.

"I know, I'm so, so sorry. It's okay, it'll be okay, don't worry."

He had never been good at comforting people, but he did his best.

"It's okay, it's okay to cry. I won't let anything happen if you don't want it to."

For some reason, his gentle voice was the last straw. She broke down and just cried, holding onto him as though she'd never let go. Incoherent attempts at sentences were choked out every so often as she tried to explain herself, but in the end she just allowed herself to cry it all out.

When she'd managed to calm down to the point where every word wasn't broken up by sobs, she tried the explanation again. "S-sorry, this... none o' this is your fault, I swear. It's me... I just... I 'ave... oh, bloody 'ell, I'm just talkin' rubbish, I c-can't even talk properly." She stared down at the floor, knowing he must think of her as a complete idiot and not wanting to see that expression on his face.

Any minute now he'd decide she was a weak little girl who couldn't control herself, make some excuse and walk off.

"Oh, thank God." Zach smiled down at her, wiping the tears away from her cheeks with his thumb. "I thought I was the only one who was completely incoherent. C'mon, can I see that smile again? Makes the room brighter."

Nat didn't know what to do. Was he just trying to be polite, or did he really mean it? Taking a deep breath, she wiped her eyes with her hand and looked at him again, though she couldn't make herself smile, even for him.

"Zach... I'm s-sorry. I just..." She looked around the room, wondering if it would be a good idea to explain why she'd started bawling her head off, but this just didn't feel like the time or place. Instead, she tentatively reached out and took his hand, giving it a little squeeze. Every so often a little sob escaped her and she had to look away, feeling ashamed. She wasn't supposed to cry.

"Hang on." Zach slipped into the crowd and returned a few seconds later with a steaming mug, which he gently wrapped Nat's hands around.

"Hot cocoa," he explained earnestly. "Always makes Sara feel better, so... um... yeah..." He ran his hand through his hair anxiously, making it stand every which way.

"Look, don't be sorry, okay? Don't be sorry for being a human being. I'd worry if you never cried," he told her and hugged her, being careful not to upset the mug.

She took a sip of the warm drink and nodded gratefully. It did help... at least, it was difficult to keep crying when drinking. "Thanks," she murmured, leaning against him and letting him hug her.

"I'd worry if you never cried," he said, and she looked up at him with a slightly surprised expression. Her father had expressed the same sentiment on occasion, but her mother had always told her that big girls didn't cry.

For a moment she considered this, examining him to see if he meant it, before finally giving him a small smile and reaching up to try to smooth his hair down a bit. "Ya really are somethin' else, Zach."

Running her hand down from his hair to his cheek, she paused speculatively for a moment before giving him a tentative kiss.

Good. Inwardly, Zach breathed a sigh of relief. He figured that everything probably wasn't okay again, but she was smiling again and she wasn't crying and she was... kissing him?

He did a double-take, then realized exactly what that meant and deepened the kiss. Something in the back of his mind hoped that maybe with the skin-to-skin contact he could pour whatever happiness he had into her, and for the second time he beat down the scientific portion of his brain as it told him that this was impossible.

I'm an assassin that walks in stories. I don't think much of anything's impossible at this point.

This is insane... 'e kissed me back. 'e doesn't care if I'm an idiot. If this's insane, I want ta move inta the nut'ouse an' stay there.

From the way he was holding her, he didn't particularly want to let go any time soon, but she was very much aware of the hot drink she was holding and thus responded to him carefully. The last thing she wanted was to accidentally hurt him.

Eventually, Nat slowly broke the kiss, but only so that she could put the drink down and wrap her arms around Zach properly, one arm around his waist and the other hand resting on his shoulder. Leaning her head on the other shoulder and pulling him as close as she could, she closed her eyes and heaved a sigh, almost unable to contain her happiness.

"Ya know somethin'?" she murmured, but then paused, unsure how to say what she was feeling. Maybe he'd think she was insane if she said that. Uncertain, she just bit her lip again and tightened her embrace a little. No point in spoiling this moment.

"Mm. I don't know a lot of things," he murmured back, idly running his fingers through her hair and resting his chin on her head. "Enlighten me?"

Taking a deep breath, she hesitated for a moment, then said quietly, "Zach... I think I've fallen in love with ya."

... Oh, nice one. Really smart.

Despite that, voicing it made it all the more real, and she snuggled into him, enjoying the comfortable warmth of his closeness.

Zach blinked. "I think so, too. I mean, that I love you, not—oh, bugger," he groaned, blushing furiously.

Mouth, meet brain. Brain, meet mouth. Now connect and communicate.

Zach leaned against the wall to his back and savored the woman in his arms, enjoying the fact that she seemed to fit there nicely.

Nat giggled quietly. "It's fine," she smiled up at him, "Ya could talk in Klingon an' I wouldn't give a damn right now." Then the irony of the situation struck her, and she couldn't hold back a wry laugh. They were at a celebration to remember the dead, and she was feeling so alive...

"Wonder what Sara an' Cass'd say if they could see us," she commented, running her hand through his hair and trying to smooth it back into some semblance of order.

Meanwhile, Kelvin finally caught sight of them again, having lost them in the crowd of dancers before. He watched them quietly, a fond smile on his face. At least they looked happy enough.

Branch 2: Cassie and Troy

Not too far from where Sara and Marcus were, Troy stared at the bar with a look of concern on his face. He had never known Marcus to act like how it looked he was acting. Part of him wanted to go over to the man he considered a friend, but at the same time, he was enjoying the music and Marcus had always preferred to take care of his problems personally. Adjusting his sunglasses, he moved onto the dance floor again, looking around for the bespectacled (and rather generously endowed, which was odd but not unheard of in the PPC) young agent that had caught his eye a few seconds before. After all, wouldn't their dead comrades have wanted them to have fun?

Having finished her drink, Cassie ducked away from Zach and backed off a bit. "I'm going to get another drink," she stated firmly, ignoring Nat rolling her eyes. "Won't be long." With that she headed off into the crowd, though her departure had been mostly motivated by Zach. She couldn't work out if he was trying to make her blush or if it was accidental, but either way it was probably a good idea to get out of his vicinity for a while.

Nat and Kelvin watched her go, but after a moment the younger of the two turned back to Zach to carry on the conversation. Kelvin, on the other hand, kept an eye on Cassie, just in case.

The agent in question edged through the dancers, trying to avoid getting caught up by those who were getting overly enthusiastic. She didn't pay much attention to anybody else apart from that, though.

Troy made his way through the crowd. So far, the party was just starting to get fun, far as he was concerned. He still hadn't found that girl, but he was working up a good sweat dancing, had managed to put away a few nice drinks, and was overall having a good time. He did wonder where Roy went, but before he could contemplate the location of his partner much longer he emerged from the crowd at one point of the dance floor and almost knocked over a young woman that was edging around the majority of the other dancers, mostly since he'd been distracted by the random fireworks.

"Gah!" Jumping back a bit, he gave the girl a once-over to make sure he hadn't smashed into her, shaking his head. It looked like he'd managed to get out of the way in time, at least. "Heh, sorry," he said, allowing his eyes to wander behind his sunglasses. He had to admit, the girl wasn't bad-looking, though at the moment he couldn't tell if she was the one he'd seen earlier. "Didn't see you there until I almost plowed into ya. You alright?"

Stopping abruptly as somebody nearly walked into her, Cassie looked up at him, still feeling sheepish about Zach. Examining the guy, who for some reason was wearing sunglasses indoors, she wondered why the heck all the guys she seemed to run into were so bloody tall.

"I'm fine, thanks. Sorry about that, I wasn't really paying attention to where I was going." She glanced down at her glass, wondering whether or not she really fancied a drink. "Oh, um. Sorry. I'm Cassie." She nudged her glasses back up her nose and smiled.

"Nice name," Troy said, grinning. "I'm Troy." Straightening himself up after introducing himself, he had another look at Cassie. She had blonde hair, and a pair of rectangular glasses that framed her face nicely, in his opinion. Not exactly short, but she was a good few inches smaller than he was, with a sort of perpetually untidy look about her, especially when she'd clearly had a few too many drinks. She looked to be a bit on the chunky side, but wasn't fat or anything, looked like she had a nice shape to her.

"Nice to meetcha," Troy said, as if he hadn't been taking the time to check Cassie out. "Enjoying the party so far? I thought it'd be a real gloomy affair, but it's been fun. Fancy another drink? Was gonna go over and get some for myself anyway, worked up a bit of a thirst on the dance floor." Laughing a little, he looked around, finding a drinks table not too far from where they stood. "There's a table right over there, if you're interested."

"Um." She glanced over at her friends and then back up at Troy, smiling. "Nice to meet you too. And yeah, I've been enjoying the party. Up till my friends starting taking the rip out of me for something that happened ages ago," she grumbled.

At the mention of drinks, she decided that she did want one. "Sounds like a great idea. I was on my way to get another, actually." With that, she moved towards the table. "What's your favourite? I prefer Sonic Screwdrivers, myself."

Troy thought about this question a bit, then shrugged. "I've tried a bunch of different kinds, can't say there's one I prefer over every other," he said, following Cassie towards the table. "Never tried a Sonic Screwdriver before, suppose I'll try one. Wonder if it'll be any better than Bleeprum." Reaching the table, he took a glass filled with the mentioned beverage, looking to Cass before raising the glass in a mock-toast. "To canon, and the brave lads who die for it."

Taking one of the cocktails herself, Cassie quirked her eyebrow at Troy, then smiled and raised her own glass in a reply. "To canon," she echoed, before downing the glass's entire contents in a single gulp.

A few moments later, she regretted doing that. "Whoops," she said with a slightly embarrassed giggle as she put the glass down and swayed a little. "I need to learn not to drink too quickly, it went to my head..."

Troy barely managed to hide his amusement. "That what your friends were ripping on you about?" he asked her, drinking his own cocktail more carefully before setting down the empty glass and exhaling. "That's pretty good stuff," he said. "Not the strongest I've ever had, but definitely pretty good. Hm... you know, you're not bad either," behind his sunglasses, he winked a little at the girl, though it was unlikely she saw him do so. "I know a few places, if you think you need to get off your feet for a bit."

Cassie laughed and nodded. "Yeah. Getting drunk too easily, among other things... but I won't go into that now." She eyed the table for a moment, debating whether or not to get another drink, but turned her attention back to Troy as he continued talking. "Hm? Get off my feet? Probably an idea, I'm sure there are plenty of people who'll tell you I get wobbly when I've had too much."

She picked up another drink anyway, resolving to make it last longer this time, and smiled up at him.

"Fair enough." Taking another drink, Troy downed it a bit less carefully than the last, closing his eyes for a moment before looking back to Cassie. "Just think you should be careful," he said, smiling again. "Wouldn't want someone as pretty as you getting hurt or just ending up passed out on the floor." Looking out at the partying agents for a moment, Troy finished his glass. He hadn't expected the anniversary of something so horrific to be so festive, but that was the PPC in a nutshell, he supposed, and it wouldn't seem right any other way.

Not wanting the woman to think he was ignoring her, though, he looked back to her after a few seconds. "Heh, sorry about that, just admiring the view. The PPC really is something special."

Taken slightly by surprise at the compliment, Cassie ducked her head slightly for a moment, a rather shy smile spreading across her face. "Um, thanks," she muttered, taking a sizeable swallow of her drink despite her earlier decision to take it slowly.

"I have to agree," she said on looking out at the party and listening to Troy's comment on it. "It's certainly lively, at any rate." Tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear and pushing her glasses up again — they seemed to have an annoying tendency to slide down whenever she was trying to relax, she'd noticed — she realised that she was getting a bit less sure of her balance.

"Um... Troy? I think sitting down might be a good idea. Honestly, I stay sober for ages, and then all the drink hits me at once." She felt a bit silly, but he seemed sympathetic enough.

At that time, Agent Deryn called for a moment of silence.

Troy had wrapped an arm around Cassie's waist to support her when she said she needed to sit down, and had been about to try to lead her to one of the empty RCs he had seen along the hallway, but was interrupted by the call for a moment's silence. Keeping his hold on the young woman to keep her from falling over, he took on a sombre expression, lowering his eyes to the ground. So many people dead, not all of them his friends but all of them comrades-in-arms, it was just terrible. He shuddered, thinking about how many people he almost lost, and did lose, especially as at the same time he wondered how Berger was holding up. His partner had been hit a lot harder by the Invasion than he had.

Shine on, ya crazy diamonds.

Despite having been rather giggly and fairly tipsy, Cassie was quick to sense the changing mood of the room, and sighed sadly as she let the memories of the fighting return. While she'd managed to avoid the most brutal of the fighting, she'd still seen several agents killed in the Tomb battle, including one man who'd caught a bullet aimed at her. Sniffling a little at that, and somewhat aware of Troy's comforting arm around her waist, she returned the favour and leaned her head on his shoulder, feeling a bit better for the company.

Troy stood still while Cassie's head rested on his shoulder. Even as the silence ended, and the party was hesitantly picked up, it took him a short time before he continued to speak, looking at the young lady. He hadn't seen her during the Invasion, but it seemed like the event had no small amount of an effect on her, judging by her body language and the sniffle he had heard. He'd been thinking of making a move, but at the moment it didn't seem right.

"Hey, Cass," he said, looking to her. "You alright? I mean, aside from the drink getting to your head."

She nodded and looked up at him again. "Yeah, I'm fine," she replied, giving him a small smile. "Just got a bit caught up in it all, you know? It gets... a bit emotional." Then a wry smile crossed her face. "And of course you're right, the drink doesn't help."

A small part of her brain was trying to get her attention, but she ignored it in favour of finishing up her drink. She didn't bother to let go of Troy, though, and smiled up at him again. "Speaking of which, maybe you should show me to that seat you were talking about earlier."

Troy blinked, not expecting Cassie to say that, then nodded. "Yeah, we should probably get you off your feet," he replied, grinning again. "Good to see you're alright though, if you're getting too worked up we should find that RC I was talking about." Making sure to keep his hold to ensure she wouldn't fall over, he started heading towards the entrance, moving quickly enough to make a good pace but slowly enough to support Cassie. "It's not too far from the Store, so it shouldn't take long to get there."

The young woman laughed a little sheepishly. "That's good... honestly, I keep overestimating my alcohol tolerance," she added, stumbling slightly, but with Troy's supporting arm she righted herself quickly.

Maybe it was just the booze, but it felt kind of nice having him so close. She leaned on him happily and let him guide her to wherever he'd thought to take her.

Troy hadn't expected this. However, he couldn't argue that it was a very pleasant surprise. Holding the woman closer, he nodded, leading her out of the Store. It took a few moments to locate the proper room, but once he found the door he opened it, allowing Cassie to go in first before following her.