Hey, you know this could absolutely happen.

"Kalos- we need to discuss my contract."

The owner of Kaleido Stage glanced up from the pile of forms he had been reading, briefly shifting his attention to his current lead male. Leon had closed the door behind him and was walking up to his desk with even strides, and his voice was composed and emotionless, as it almost always was. Perhaps three months of performing the Angel Act with Sora had changed him, but if it had, he hid it very well.

"Really." Kalos folded his hands together and rested his chin on top of them, matching Leon's cold stare with his own. "If you're going to ask me to dissolve it, I'll simply refuse you. Swan Lake is still running for another month, and you know perfectly well that we can't find someone to permanently replace you."

The trapeze artist dismissed that idea with a 'tsk'-like sound. "I'm not talking about that. I'm referring to my scheduled vacation time."

Kalos quirked an eyebrow up.

"I need to take off next weekend," Leon said bluntly, folding his arms over his chest. "I'll do the Saturday afternoon performance, but the others will have to be either canceled or modified."

"We've already sold the tickets," Kalos pointed out.

"This is more important."

Kalos sighed, looking back down at his paperwork with a frown. Leon always had to make life difficult. "Well, you do have the right to request time off. You can have the weekend, but I expect you to find a stand-in and train him to take your place for the two shows you'll miss. I'd suggest Yuri."

Leon nodded, then turned to leave. Kalos could tell that he wouldn't offer an explanation, but he didn't care- he never had been able to completely understand what made the trapeze artist tick, and he was reasonably sure that he never would.


"Did you hear that?" Marion whispered to Jonathan, eyes opened wide.

The seal nodded his head emphatically, curling his body around the little girl's arms and shivering. Marion unconsciously hugged him more tightly as she sneaked away from the door she had been eavesdropping at, waiting until she had turned the corner and slid down against the wall to speak again.

"Mr. Leon is going away for the weekend," she repeated softly, looking down at Jonathan with worried eyes. "But why would he do that? He sure doesn't make much sense."

"Arr, ohh!" Jonathan replied, which she believed meant 'That guy needs to make up his mind' in seal language.

"Though, you know, it might not be that bad," she told her friend in a matter-of-fact tone. "He might just be up to something… mysterious." She giggled at the thought, then fell silent as the star in question walked past. He didn't notice her sitting against the wall, so she waited until he had turned a corner and gone out of sight to speak again. "Still, we should probably tell someone, right? Just in case it's important."

Jonathan clapped his flippers together in agreement.


"Oh dear," Mia said quietly.

"An' that's the truth," Marion finished, chugging down the rest of her water. "But, ah, don't tell anyone I told you, okay? Daddy doesn't like it when I listen at doors."

"That's because it's a very bad thing to do," Mia told her halfheartedly, staring down into her own glass. "But thanks for telling us, Marion."

"You're welcome!" Marion had grown out of her worry fairly quickly, and was now laughing as Jonathan tried to balance her glass on top of his nose. "C'mon, Jonathan, let's go see if Ken'll let us play on the big trampoline."

The two older girls watched as the younger one ran out of the room, then turned to each other, identically concerned.

"He's not satisfied with having Sora for a partner?" Anna murmured, leaning her forehead against her hand. "I'd never have guessed it."

"But he must be, to be leaving on such short notice, and with no explanation." Mia bit her lower lip. "Anna, we can't let Sora hear about this. She'd think it was all her fault."

"She's going to find out anyway," Anna pointed out.

"Not if we can help it." Mia smiled. "Who do we know who can talk him out of this? Other than Sora, I mean."

Anna pondered the question. "Layla? No, that's no good- she's already back in New York." She got a dreamy look in her eyes. "I'm gonna go to New York someday, you know, and perform on SNL!" She banged her fist against the table. "And everyone will laugh at my comedian act!"

"Uh-huh." Mia tapped her fingers on the table, while Anna wilted at the lack of a reaction. "May might work, but she might also go shouting the news straight to Sora, and we don't want that."

They both fell silent then, thinking quietly- until, at the same time, they saw a girl with a short mane of red hair walk into the dining hall.

"Of course," they whispered together- "Rosetta!"


"… and now they want me to go and give Mr. Leon a talking-to, and they say he'll listen to me 'cause at least he can respect my skills with the Diablo," Rosetta finished, opening her eyes. "But, Fool, I don't think he will. What should I do?"

Fool drifted in the air above the railing, thoughtful and composed. "You said he'll be leaving the stage, since he can't stand Sora as a partner anymore? That doesn't line up with what the stars have shown me."

"But I heard it from Mia and Anna- they wouldn't lie."

"Well," Fool said, completely serious, "in situations like these, often the best course of action one can take while making a decision is to take a nice, long bath-"

"Don't you start that with me," Rosetta said, glaring at her floating mentor. "Sora already warned me about your tricks! And Sora always knows best."

"Alright, alright," Fool said, smiling patronizingly. "You shouldn't worry too much. Sora can take care of herself, and she will always find a way to shine, even in the darkest of times. That is her destiny."

"True." Rosetta smiled, feeling significantly more relieved. "Thank you, Fool."

"Of course, barring that, you could put on a sexy outfit to try and seduce Leon into-"

Unfortunately, the rest of his sentence was lost as Rosetta grabbed the spirit of the stage, flung him away as far as she could, and stalked back inside her room, cheeks as red as her hair and the situation with Leon completely forgotten.


May grimaced. It seemed as though Sora's habit of talking with an imaginary friend was contagious- little Rosetta had caught it.

Still, she was conflicted now that she had 'overheard' Rosetta talking to herself. Half of her wanted to storm up and yell at Leon for even thinking about leaving the stage without giving her a chance to reprove her worth, but the other half wanted to go and tell Sora, right away, before he got a chance to leave. A small, reasonable part of her mind thought that that was a bad idea, and Sora might not take it well, but she still had to let out her emotions somehow.

"Stupid Leon!" she shouted into thin air, storming down the walkway between apartments. "Just like a man, to go and screw things up!" She kicked at a stone that lay on the path, ignoring the sudden throbbing pain that exploded in her toe. "To think he'd dare to leave when we were just adding the grand finish to the Eternal Illusion! He's going to ruin everything!"

Indeed, she and Rosetta had worked out a newer, grander ending to their big act in the show, which would be debuting as soon as they got Mia and Cathy's approval for it. May was quite sure that it would simply blow the rest of the performers away, but what good would that do if the performance was sub-par in the first place?

She stomped out onto the main path, narrowing her eyes and starting to growl. "Just because he has to be the pickiest performer in the world when it comes to partners… and when there's nothing wrong with Sora in the first place… STUPID LEON!"

May continued stomping down the path, growling audibly now, and, as a result, missed the head of purple hair that peeked out from behind the corner of the building, where it had been listening before.


Leon did not make a habit out of listening in on others' conversations. They were usually boring, and hardly worth the effort. Still, he couldn't help but hear when half the cast and crew of Swan Lake started talking frantically about how their leading lady couldn't be found.

Her friends had organized a search party, and were tearing through the practice rooms and the living complex spasmodically. Personally, he thought their plan was idiotic. If Sora had gone missing, she was probably upset about something (or doing something foolish, in which case she'd show up soon enough); if she was upset, there was only one place where she would go.

He found himself walking over to that particular place, not for any real reason. Maybe he just wanted to make sure she'd be up to performing that night. Yes; that sounded rational.

And, indeed, when he walked backstage and looked up into the air above- there she was. Sora had lowered the Angel's trapeze and was sitting on one of the individual parts, her back towards him. Moping, probably. He shook his head and swung up from a lower trapeze, vaulting himself onto the fixture next to hers.

Sora's head snapped up when the trapeze began rotating as a result of his movement, and she looked at him in surprise. She'd been crying. Why had she been crying? He didn't want her to cry.

"Leon!" Sora quickly rubbed her sleeve against her eyes, then offered him a watery half-smile. "I didn't even hear you come up here…" Her smile dissolved again, and she looked down. "I'm sorry."

The problem with Sora was that sometimes, he couldn't make heads nor tails of what she was blathering on about. And really, right now, he just wanted to see her smile. He had grown to depend on her smiles, since they helped to keep him from becoming too impatient with the incompetent people amongst the rest of the cast. "What for?"

"For not being a good enough partner for you." A tear dropped from her face, speeding down to the ground far below, and she rubbed her sleeve against her eyes again, impatiently. "For wasting your time."

His eyebrows shot up as high as they could go. "Hn? What on earth could make you think that?"

"You're leaving," she said quietly, so quietly that he could barely hear it.

Ah. Perhaps, now, he was starting to understand. Leon pulled himself up so that he was standing on the trapeze and leaned against the bar. "Sora. Do you know what next Sunday is?"

"N-no," she replied, glancing back up at him.

"It's Sophie's birthday."

Her jaw dropped a little bit.

"It's become a tradition of mine, to visit her grave every year on her birthday." He looked away from the girl, recalling the past three times he had visited his sister there. "It's always been my way of remembering my promise, remembering her; now, it'll be my chance to tell her that her dream has been fulfilled. I can't miss that, not for the world." He closed his eyes, wondered if perhaps, this year, it would be slightly less painful.

"But, if you're only leaving to visit Sophie… why aren't you coming back afterwards?"

His eyes flew open. "What?"

"You're leaving," she repeated, "I already heard. You're leaving Kaleido Stage for good."

He grimaced, and promised himself that he would track down whoever had started spreading such lies and talk to them quite sternly. "Nonsense. It's only for the weekend."

She continued to stare at him, confused.

"Sora." It was almost hard to keep from sounding amused- did she really have so little self-confidence? "I'm quite satisfied with you as a partner, and I couldn't possibly leave Kaleido Stage for good."

"Really?" Her face brightened a little, and there- there was the smile he'd been looking for, the smile full of innocence and joy that only Sora could really give.

He tentatively smiled back, a slight twitching up of the corners of his mouth that felt unusual, since he hardly ever used those particular muscles. "Of course. That'd be leaving you, after all."

A moment later, he realized the full connotations of what he had said, and felt himself blushing. Greatly annoyed, he turned to leap down onto the trampoline below.


He glanced back at Sora quickly, almost anxious (which was ridiculous, since he never felt 'anxious')- but she seemed mostly oblivious, as usual, with only the slightest tinge of pink on her cheeks.

"Leon, I can't leave for the weekend performances, but maybe next year, I could visit Sophie with you? If that would be alright?"

He stared at the girl who never ceased to surprise him, caught off guard. Oddly enough, the statement which he would've taken offense at, if it had come from anyone else, seemed entirely appropriate when coming from her. When he smiled this time, it grew across his face wider than it had in more years than he could remember.

"I think she'd like that- and so would I."