Dim lights fall upon a vacant stage, empty save for the shimmering length of a dejected microphone upon a gunmetal stand; rounded, and flared toward its tip. The orchestrion brims to life long before the singer makes his entrance upon stage, unfolding in a slow, and unhurried tune. The music is slow. It’s lazy, it’s lurid, and it’s enticing — all at once.
The curtains flutter, and a delicate, lilac-tipped hand extends to peel fabric back. Tani emerges clad in a thin black shift that hangs upon his frame with gunmetal sequins that catch, and illuminate off the gold-hued stage lights. They throw a dizzying kaleidoscope of prismatic hues in a rainbow display of colours along the walls, along the stage, across his audience.
Perched in his left hand is an unlit cigarette laid into a long, silver holder that tucks into the heart of his cradled palm. His hair has been spun into an artful braid, drawn over a delicate shoulder, while jewels twine down the length of his arms toward the insides of his wrists, where they finish in two, artful cuffs. His makeup is marked by smoky, kohl-lined, aether-bright eyes, and a dark, plush covering to his too-full lips. He approaches the heart of the stage in no great rush. His heels click-click-click against the gossamer stage beneath him as if in tune to his music as his free hand lifts in a dainty coil toward the microphone.
His fingertips are curved toward the heart of his palm. They perch along the edge of the stand to tilt it towards him as he reaches it, lulling against its base. Heavy eyelashes kiss the painted crests of his freckled cheeks as he tips his head aside, white-tipped ears lifting from his heavy curls to listen to his surly, slow, unfolding beat as he inclines his head into a slow, and languid nod. There’s a faint curl of a smile to the corners of his lips. His thick tail sweeps across the stage beneath him, and he draws in a slow, and steady breath as his beat reaches him.
“Like a thief, crawlin’ through the night. ♪”
“Like a drunk, brawlin’ in a fight. ♪”
“How should I know what is right from wrong? ♪”
A smile finds its way onto his lips until his Keeper-characteristic fangs press into the curve of his lower lip, until his dimples press into his freckle-scatters cheeks. His hand lifts from the microphone. It draws towards him, until his fingers splay, and sweep below the bow of his lower lip, tracing two scant lines of red from his painted lips down the alabaster column of his throat.
“Come on over. ♪”
“Turn me on. ♪”
His beat swells, his hand withdraws. It lifts above the tilt of his brow, as if to press palm-up, and into his mounting drum’s beat until it dulls, and his tail flicks as his fingertips skate back down the gunmetal shaft of his microphone stand. He shifts closer to it, he nudges it across the glossy stage toward him.
“Sennight’s best, you’re my favourite dress. ♪”
“You make the team, you’re no substitute. ♪”
“I know, boy, I’m your favourite baby. ♪”
His beat catches, it hastens, his right hand lifts from the microphone stand for his forefinger and his thumb to catch against one another in a lingering -snap- of a click. His weight bares onto his opposing leg as his right lifts onto his very toes, tapping his beat as a rhythm with the steel stiletto heel of his boot.
“Come on over. ♪”
“Turn me on. ♪”
His hand skates back down the length of the microphone stand, until his fingertips find the inside of his thigh as he sinks forwards. The fabric of his skirts flutters across the crest of his thigh, whisking back across the lace-emblazoned lip of his stockings, where they connect into his garter belt. His knee bends, his weight lifts onto his toes, and his eyes press closed as he meets his chorus in a sweet sway of his svelte hips.
“Is it any wonder? ♪”
“Is it any wonder? ♪”
“How I lay awake all night..? ♪”
He draws back for long enough to pause, long enough to draw a deep breath in as his opposing hand lifts. His left folds across the narrow curve of his chest as his thumb passes across the tip of his cigarette with enough finesse for his aether to catch into a spark of a flame; illuminating the tip of the cigarette as it’s brought to his lips, and urged aflame by the draw of his breath through it, until an orange ember brims to life.
Tani slips the cigarette from his lips, head tipping back as he inhales, and as smoke chases the tip of the cigarette; alight with what could only be Moko, though it’s so fragrant, and so vaporous, it’s nigh impossible to tell just what that permeating, and thin smoke is drawn from. His words come chased by smoke as they leave him, lips kissing the curve of the microphone.
“Is it any wonder..? ♪”
“Hopin’ someday soon I see the light. ♪”
Tani’s gaze lifts to the smoke curling from his cigarette as his beat draws to a momentary lapse. That very same aether-brimming light shining behind his eyes only seems to grow in intensity until the powdered curves of his cheeks are alight with it; glowing a gentle, and preternatural, seabreeze-blue.
It is as if the gunmetal sequins upon his dress, the glimmering steel of his microphone stand, the finite details upon the tables, and the chairs scattered through the audience have all been brought to life with some strange, and foreign ambiguity. Everything seems to take on a rosy, ethereal tone; as if the stars are alight, as if they’ve been shed from the sky and cast into Tani’s grasp to scatter amidst his crowd.
..and indeed, minute, winking, tiny stars rise through his audience. They’re small, they’re transient, they’re blue in colour— and they’re an illusion. An extended hand toward them would only pass through them as if they’re scarcely there at all, yet they offset their own idle, gentle, forgiving source of illuminating light. The room turns into some prismatic, opulent, and incandescent chamber.
Tani’s features are hazy, his eyes are bright, and his smile is still in place; drawn across his lips as his hazy smoke snakes past his lips in a slow, and smooth glide. He tips his head aside, his gold curls come tumbling over a bare, freckled shoulder as his hand lifts to cradle the back of his microphone, perched upon its stand.
“Tell me baby, tell me pretty lies. ♪”
“See the spider been out catchin’ flies. ♪”
“When you leave me, I know it won’t be long. ♪”
“Before you come on over. ♪”
“..an’ turn me on. ♪”
His beat builds, it mounts, it swells over the rise of his voice as he sinks back a step, and his hand falls away from his microphone. He turns into a careless twirl as his music carries him, as his stars continue to lift, lilting, winking, rising toward the height of the chamber as smoke chases the lit tip of Tani’s whittling cigarette. It’s smooth, and it’s as lazy, and careless as his lilting, graceful, undoubtedly feline movements.
The jewels upon his tail whistle, and click. The beaded hems of his robes billow, and chase the gilded heels of his boots as his movements sweep across the glowing heart of the stage. The courtesan collects himself, he outstretches his hand, and his dainty fingers curl around the microphone stand to draw it sharply back towards his lithe, willowy frame.
He lifts onto his toes, his eyes slip closed, and he lowers the cigarette perched within its holder towards his side. He meets the gusto of his chorus with a fresh wave of intensity, voice articulated by the aether sparkling through the stringent air, as his transient, vacant stars glimmer, and flutter in scintillating glee.
“Is it any wonder? ♪”
“..is it any wonder? ♪”
“How I lay awake all night? ♪”
“Is it any wonder, on some night soon-.. ♪”
“I’ll see the light..? ♪”
His beat stalls. As if in tune with the mounting climb of his music, his stars, too, pause their slow, disembodied traverse toward the rafters of the chamber before him. Tani’s eyes draw open again, and their preternatural glow is almost piercing beneath the painted curves of his thick eyelashes.
The edges of his stars begin to fade. They flutter, they waver, they oscillate as if fighting the inevitability of being extinguished. Tani’s free hand lifts, fingers splayed, palm pressed out, as if to comfort them as his frame slinks close toward the cool presence of his microphone; and just like that, his music returns. The stagelight illuminates him, and without the presence of his stars, he cuts a striking frame all in black.
“Like a blind man ridin’ at the reigns. ♪”
“Like a hound dog, scratchin’ at a meal. ♪”
“You an’ I both know it. ♪”
“You belong. ♪”
Those words come punctured by a flutter of his eyelashes as his tail lifts in a languid curve behind him. His hips offer a loose, and innocuous sway in time to his beat, and the pointed, silver tip of that cigarette holder finds its way past his lips for a slow, and smooth inhale through. The courtesan’s finishing line comes delivered doused in smoke that engulfs the flared tip of the microphone stand in a transient halo stained with blood-red lipstick, and the curved lilt of a wicked smile.
“Come on over. ♪”
“Turn me on. ♪”
Tani’s hand drops from the cigarette stand. His tongue peeks past his lips to sweep across the bow of his lower as his beat swells. As his twangy instrumental engulfs his words, and his hands lift towards his stars as the aether behind his eyes brims into an all-consuming burn that has his eyes pressing closed. Those stars reclaim their vibrancy. They illuminate, they glow, they coalesce, like disembodied constellations waiting to be tethered together into some warped shape.
Tani twirls, he spins, he lilts into a lightened silhouette. His movements are graceful, they’re smooth, they’re as unhurried, and as matched to his tune as the svelte sway of his hips. Those stars fold towards him, they pull in toward the heart of his palm as he folds the cigarette holder across the concave tilt of his stomach until his opposing hand meets it half-way, and in a momentary shimmer of light, it vanishes between the press of his palms as they meet.
The courtesan’s hands pull apart, and a glimmering flutter of glitter falls from the spaces between his fingers as his stars wink from existence, one by one, now without the focus that the cigarette holder had seemingly provided. Tani’s hands press palm-out, toward his audience, to show the absence of the cigarette, and its gunmetal holder.
A smile finds its way back onto Tani’s lips as his swelling beat finds a shuddering fade, note by note, bar by bar, until it flutters, and vanishes until it’s nought but he, and a small shower of glitter now dashes across the gossamer stage beneath him.
Those hands lower, and reach out to catch the gilded edges of his robes. Tani peels them back, he folds one leg behind the other, and he sinks into a dainty, and delicate curtsey, complimented by a diligent bow of his head as he sweeps low.
He straightens, he lifts a hand, and he blows a pointed kiss to his audience, before sinking back a step, and turning in a fluttering twirl of glittering sequins to make his way backstage once again; left hand outstretching to draw the curtain back. He vanishes smoothly beyond, until the microphone stand is left; waiting in glittering gunmetal to be claimed again.