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Late 1961

It wasn't that she hadn't been invited. It was that she hadn't been planning to go until Mallory and Vi begged her. And the both Mallory and Vi had to work and couldn't make it in time and neither were interested in fashionably late entrances. They wanted to stare at Robert for the full duration. They also wanted Alice to stare at Robert for the full duration because it had been almost three years since they first encountered him and in those three years, Alice had heard of nothing but him. He was almost a mythological creature, really. A name instead of an actual person. She had almost stopped believing he existed.

Her mother hired a driver to take her up to Manchester. Randolf was due at another function with the company and her parents couldn't attend. This would be the first time Alice was going anywhere completely alone without any connections at all, except her name and her family. But her name and her family was somehow relevant to every party. She didn't feel overwhelmed, just nervous. She wasn't interested in being the center of attention.

Dressed in a dark green cocktail dress, with dark green, almost black gloves to match, she looked like the center of attention, in any case. Their family's driver gave her dark red hair a kiss as he helped her out.

"What time do you want me back?" he asked. "I told your mum I'd have you home by midnight."

"Then, um, I don't think I'll be staying long. Two hours, tops."

Their driver nodded and gave her a little salute. "Enjoy yourself, Miss Alice."

"I will!" she called, her heels clicking on the pavement as she entered the elegant hotel and sought out the ballroom.
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Date: 2008-03-03 06:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
The ballroom wasn't far from the front of the hotel, and not far from the front of the ballroom, three young doctors sat playing cards and occasionally glancing at the people who walked into the room. They were all dark-haired and light-eyed, though none was related to the other.

(Along with the three doctors was one woman, also with dark hair and light eyes, who was not playing cards and was not a doctor, but she was paying attention.)

"Hey," said one, looking over at Alice as she walked in, "she's rather pretty. I don't think I've ever seen her before."

"Oh, how pretty?" asked the second, and immediately a third poked him in the shoulder, grumbling, "Pay attention to the game, would you?"

"Stop mooning, all of you," said the girl. "Only one of you's got sense, and he's the one who hasn't got himself a girlfriend."

Date: 2008-03-03 07:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
A few minutes later, the three who'd been playing cards by the door ambled in after her, just because the game was over and three pretty girls had walked into the room at the same time. That was enough for two of the three, and the pair who looked rather similar hung back, but eventually followed.

It was their entrance that made a scene.

"Robert," a sandy-haired young man called over a punchbowl, and nearly overturned it as he ran for the group – and nearly knocked into Alice in the process, "Robert, they've – they've put androgynes in the punch!" he said in a harsh whisper, audible enough to all of the people by the door.

The light-eyed siblings, who certainly did stand out to different people for different reasons, looked at each other and began to laugh.

"Do you even know what an androgyne is," the girl asked, as Robert Capio put his hat back on, then took it back off again, and shook his head.

"And what makes you think that, Sully?"

"Why, I'm giggling!"

"You're drunk."

"I'm giggling like a girl. They've drugged me!"

"Those would be estrogens –"

"Oh posh. Whatever."

Date: 2008-03-03 07:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
They had become quite watchable rather quickly, because they'd gone from arguing about ogling girls to arguing about drugged drinks to just laughing, and Robert, for the first time in quite a while, was actually enjoying one of these stuffy things. He hated when he had to be old Robert Capio the chain founder, but loved being Robert Capio the heir – Robert the younger was really him, because he had not grown old.

He was just as much of a goof as Sullivan, whose arm had gotten flung about Robert's shoulder at some point, just so he wouldn't fall over. Well. Almost. No one could be quite as much as a goof as Sullivan, and it was really Sully who kept him from being as somber as he often was at parties.

"You are drunk, Sully!"

"No. 'M poisoned. Bloody hospital rot! Damned fundraisers!"

"Don't make a scene, my father will kill you." Of course he wouldn't.

"Or fire you," suggested another one of the men.

(Of course he wouldn't.)

Date: 2008-03-03 07:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
He noticed, after another couple of laughs, that there were eyes on him. There were truly many eyes on him – but there were a particular pair of eyes that were doing more than just glancing. There were a pair of eyes that were actually seeing him, and he could feel them, too.

So Robert gave another shove at Sully, and looked around until he saw her – distantly familiar somehow, as if at one point he'd known someone who maybe knew her – red hair and blue eyes and a touch of freckles, and easily the most alluring person in the room.

And Robert did what any man would do in that situation, only he did it with just over a century's confidence; he caught her eye, and he gave her a tiny knowing smile.

Date: 2008-03-03 07:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
The confidence remained; this was because Robert was not a young man, Robert was not nervous, Robert was sure and safe and curious, more than anything else. When he had been young he would not have done what he was about to do. If anyone saw it, they would think it scandalous – but no, he was merely a curious old man wondering about a young woman, and a young woman who would probably take in stride that he was as old as he professed to be.

So, detaching himself from Sully, he winked at her, and quickly jerked his head toward one of the side doors to the gardens, and wandered off in that direction, grabbing a few things off a few plates as he did so.

Date: 2008-03-03 07:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
"Hello," he said softly, hat on head, once she'd caught up to him where he was standing outside, playing with – yes, playing with a yo-yo. It was something to do with his hands. Surgeons' hands were never idle and his hat needed to be on his head, so he couldn't be flipping it in his hands.

Date: 2008-03-03 08:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
"Oh, I could. I used to take requests, in –" the barracks "– school."

The pause was evident. He didn't screw up very often. It was her and he knew it, she was lovely and she was distracting and she was new, despite the fact he felt as if he should know her.

"I hope you don't mind I was so forward with you, if one can call exchanged glances forward."

Date: 2008-03-03 08:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
"I only know a few people myself," he half-lied, because he knew who most of them were, which didn't mean he knew them. "May I ask who your parents are?"

Date: 2008-03-03 08:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
... Suddenly, a lot of things really made rather quite a bit more sense. Mostly the familiarity. Because he did know both sides of her family, and that would have done it.

"Of course," Robert said, thoughtfully. "I see it, now. You look a little like them both – Isabella and Betsy."

He knew then that he'd given his age away; no young doctor would be calling the recently deceased Lady Fitzwilliam 'Betsy.'

Date: 2008-03-03 08:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
"She was very helpful when North Downs opened," Robert said, with a small grin. North Downs, in Surrey, was the most recent before this new one – and had been opened quite some time ago. "To my father, Lord-previously-Doctor Robert Capio, who looked rather exactly like I, Doctor-eventually-Lord Robert Capio."

And he laughed.

"Is that a decent answer?"

Date: 2008-03-03 08:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
The laughter had only been gone for a second before it returned.

"Not old," he protested, "I'm barely over three hundred!"

Date: 2008-03-03 08:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
Okay, so Robert could just give up on ever not laughing. It may have been snowing a little on his hat, but this was far more amusing.

"Not really, no! If I did I think I wouldn't still be working, because I would be bored of it. If I did I think I wouldn't still be here, to be honest. But I don't know enough that I'm bored by the world."

He was good at doing other people's history homework, though.

Date: 2008-03-03 08:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com
Damn it, but he was going to bust a lung laughing with this girl. She was, at least, pleasant, and none of it was at all falsified. This party just kept getting better. First Sully and the estrogens and now –

Wait.

"I know your parents' names," Robert said, "and you know mine, and I don't know yours. To be fair I know you're the youngest of three and you've got brothers and I don't know their names either."
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