"No. Absolutely not."
Claire shook the costume menacingly. "Put it on."
"Put it on."
"But I don't waaaannnnaaaaa!."
"You do it or I'll..." a slow, evil smile covered her face. "Or I'll tell everyone you whine like a mule."
The pilot paused, considering. "What's a mule?"
"Do it or I'll sic Anti on you!"
"Right. OK. No Problem." Wedge slithered quickly into the costume. "Don't scare me like that, geez..."
Gavin eyed the foam head dubiously. Kat smiled.
He examined the lower half of the outfit. Kat smiled.
He looked the head full in its silly face and sighed plaintively.
She batted her eyes.
He huffed annoyedly.
"Pretty please? For me?"
He grinned loopily and stuck his legs in the costume.
"Because you're just so cute in women's clothes."
"I am not," Hobbie sniffled. "I look fat."
"Oh, you do not. Come on. It's you, baby." Glim handed over the red dress and crown. Hobbie held it up to himself and stared mournfully in the mirror.
"You're sure it's me?"
"Well... it needs one little thing."
She held up a sparkly tube.
"Hang on." Antigone made a final adjustment to the costume and picked up a large foam head. "Quit wiggling."
"But I wanna see what it looks like!"
"You will in a minute." She held out the head.
"Ooh, can I wear that? Can I can I?"
"No, I'm just giving it to you to hold. Simmer down, Beavis."
The blue-eyed Rogue jammed the foam over his head and adjusted it so that he could see. Looking down at the papers Anti had given him, he frowned.
" What's a bat?"
"Come on; this isn't hard! And-- one-and-two-and-three-and-four! Loran! Get those legs up!"
"I always have to remind him of that," Phanan quipped, drawing a grin from Katrin and a shudder from Mish.
"Then smack his ass and make him dance," Katrin ordered.
Mish sighed. "Now look what you've done," she said, watching Phanan chase a shrieking Face around the ballroom of the WAAS castle.
"Umm... ladies?" A pilot came up, tugging at the bottom of his red-and-white costume. Under his black hood and white makeup, he blushed furiously.
"What is it, Corran?"
"It's just this is a bit drafty."
"When it was longer, you said you couldn't dance in it," Mish reminded.
"Only it's..." even the white greasepaint turned red. "Can you see my drawers when I kick?"
"Tawg, CorSec!" Katrin turned away. "Nobody's even thinking about your drawers!"
"Oh. Well." He tugged again and turned his nose up. "Good."
"No, you're Mad."
"So I'm crazy." Wedge adjusted his hat. "Not drooling mad, am I?"
"Why am I late?"
"Because of the gloves."
"Ah." Gavin frowned behind his mask. "Gloves."
"Padding. You're trying to make me fat."
"No, it's just the costume."
"And mean, too."
"That's just the script."
Hobbie turned the page and gasped. "I can't say that!"
"So they don't twinkle."
"But it says right here..."
Mish sobbed. Face patted her gently on the back.
Across the room, the spare pilots lunged about like hippos on speed.
"You put me in a dress," Izzy accused.
"We did that," Antigone agreed, taking out a blindfold.
"Don't worry," Katrielle said comfortingly. "You look... ahh..." She withered under Elizabeth's glare.
"You put me," she repeated. "In. A. Dress."
"And an apron," Claire added cheerfully.
"And little patent-leather shoes." Glim held out a tube. "Glitter, anyone?"
"I can't see." Izzy fingered the blindfold.
"Good." Anti turned as Katrin hurried up. "Is it ready?"
"Once Mish threatened death, it all came together. Mostly." She opened the door to the ballroom and waved the group in.
Izzy grumbled as she gripped Anti's arm. "Are we there yet?"
"Are we there yet?"
"Are we there yet?"
"Are we there yet?"
Katrielle rescued Izzy and led her to her seat.
"All right. Take it off."
Impatiently, Izzy ripped off the blindfold and gasped. She was surrounded by costumed Rogues. A line of pilots dressed as cards stood agains the far wall. The giant mouse on the table spoke with Wes' voice.
"Twinkle, twinkle, little bat..."
The newly 20-something WAASer gaped at the scene unfolding before her.
Wes bobbed up and down in a huge teapot, reciting his poem. A strange, oversized rabbit with suspiciously Tycho-like eyes grinned at her. Wedge winked at her from under an oversized top hat and raised his teacup.
"A very merry birthday to you."
Looking down at her own blue dress and white pinafore, Izzy suddenly realized her own part in this play and started to blush.
"Oh, my ears and whiskers!" A strangely Gavin-like white rabbit hopped by, screaming with distress.
"I'm late, I'm late, for a very-- oh, cookies." He stopped and grabbed a handful, shoving them under his foam head.
"Hey." He nodded at a giggling Izzy. "What's a pretty girl like you doing at a teaparty like this?"
"Off with his head!" A shriek cut through the room.
"Oh, Sith..." The rabbit darted off as a large, red-clad woman with a glittering face ran into the room.
"Bring me that rabbit!"
He grinned and curtsied, then chased after Gavin, stopping every two feet to let the slowly bouncing rabbit escape again.
"Good tawg." Izzy buried her face in her hands. "What are you doing?" She tried to duck under the table as Gavin hopped over to her and grabbed her hand.
"Save me, fair Alice!"
"Off with his head! Off with his-- hello, what's this?" Hobbie skidded to a halt before Izzy's chair, eyes gleaming. He grinned wickedly.
"Off with her dress!"
The poor girl yelped and took off toward the door, squealing as the Mad Hatter threw her over his shoulder and carted her back to the table.
"It's not over yet, dear." He grinned and waved his hand. Instantly, the line of cards began to hop about in a manner that might loosely be called dance.
"Happy birthday to you!" *kick*
"Happy birthday to you!" *kick* *Ouch!*
"Happy birthday dear *Sorry. Oops, sorry* Izzy..."
"Happy birthday to you!" *Dude, that's my butt!*
One by one, they lurched to a halt and stared at Izzy like puppies waiting to be praised.
She stared back at them, eyes wide.
Hobbie leaned over. "Off with their heads?"
Choking with laughter, she laid her head down on the table and gave in to the madness.
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