Graceful Days

It rarely mattered who was in the hall with him, or what class he was teaching, Mikhail always felt at home when he stood on the waxed floor of the studio, with the mirrors either side and the bar behind him. It was a sense of contentment fuelled by old, fond memories, and today was no different.

Today, in fact, he had a beginning's class of seven and eight year olds, and teaching the basics, even if he often had to go over them a lot for children, always made him happy. In one corner of the room, on a chair near a power point, his PET was plugged in and playing a soft, slow rhythm piece that served as good background for covering basic poses and practice. He was standing in front of his students, some fourteen young girls all dressed in their leotards and tu-tus, though they were a bit young for point shoes yet.

Most of them were not watching him, of course; a custom modification on the PET's projector that, provided it was connected to a steady power source, allowed it to extend to full size and a range of about eight metres, meaning that, currently, a human sized holographic projection of his navi, Pirouette, stood beside him, performing the same poses and actions. For a class of young girls, just learning the basics, she was a far better visual aide that his tall, masculine figure, though he still took the lesson himself; Pirouette was a skilled dancer, of course, but she didn't really know how to teach, beyond demonstration.

"And out to parallel, hold, and one... remember tummies tight, that's it... and two... and set. And again, Spring... backs straight... to parallel, holding, one... and two... good... and set. One more time. Spring, Remember parallel; you're not going past... and two... Right. Ok, we'll do two on the bar now, I'll come around and check your form." Pirouette was smiling softly as she darted over to the end of the bar, facing inwards as the other girls were to do, and placing just one finger on each hand on the bar itself. Mikhail nodded as he walked slowly other other side.

"Remember, eyes up, two fingers only. Backs straight. Begin parallel, and turn in count of two. Ready, and, Set... and one... two... and spring..." He moved along the bar counting and watching as they practiced. Most girls needed some small correct or reminder, at this stage, and he grinned and nodded even as he straightened backs, or knees, fixed heel positions or raised chins. A few were still learning the trick of being able to look forward at the bar, yet still watch Pirouette on the end, by way of the mirror reflections across the room, and he had to gently re-straighten a few heads that strayed to the side.

"Alright, now rise, count two, hold it there... and lower, and three, and four, and rise... keep going... back straight, Tamika, and lower, seven, eight, and rise... much better. Hands off the bar, to balance, and rise... and hold there, balance... balance... and three... almost... and lower, back to first. Good..."

And so the lesson went on. It was only once the girls had finished and left that Pirouette spoke to him, gliding over to stand by him and finishing with a small spin and a laugh.

"I do so love to watch the little ones learning. It makes me so happy, hehe." As usual, the silvery tickle of her voice couldn't help but bring the urge to smile and laugh to Mikhail as well. He held his arms out to the sides, open and she stepped in, raising hands to his shoulders and resting her cheek to one side as he enfolded her in a brief hug. It was only a holographic projection, and they couldn't truly touch, but even so, it was a gesture that they often shared whenever she was using the advanced projection. Her wings shook and stretched slightly, a subtle sign of joy.

"You were beautiful, as always. I'm sure the girls adore having you there to watch. Ah, but now we have something more daring to work on, do we not?" He brought his arms down and Pirouette stepped back, nodding and clapping her hands. She glanced back over her shoulder at the PET and the background music stopped.

"I read the script and stage direction yesterday. The troupe have given you a very complicated part, Mikhail, I would say it is the most technical role in the whole performance, but I suppose it makes sense; they do not have any other male dancers as skilled as you are. Have you read it over yet?" She took another step back from him and twirled again, arching her back and curling a leg up behind as her wings spread fully. Mikhail shook his head as he headed toward the dressing room.

"No, but that is why we have now." Pirouette followed him until she reached the edge of her projection limit, almost at the side door, then waited patiently until her operator returned, with a drink bottle in one hand and a thick script in the other. He'd taken the effort to print it out in paper; a habit of his that had developed over the years often saw him laying different pages of a scrip out on the floor itself as he moved through his part. It was something that you just couldn't do with a single electronic document, and it was another small thing that made him feel at home. He flipped to the first page.

"Ready to walk it through with me, dear?" Pirouette nodded, taking up the correct commencement pose in centre stage with a smile. "Alright, so, the Merchant's Daughter begins the piece alone, and goes through..." as he murmured the steps, Pirouette performed them. The female lead started off in subdued form; demure and graceful, and, as often happened, Mikhail found himself spending overlong simply watching her move, rather than actively following along, at least until the male lead arrived.
"Yes, and then the Harper enters from centre right, and..." He stepped out onto the floor, script still in one hand, beginning to walk through his role.

Night had long since fallen by the time Mikhail walked the short distance across campus to the Florence Wellman Hall, one of the two residential colleges tied to DenTech. The housing wasn't exactly luxury, but it offered student rates for permanent accommodation and the hall was catered for morning and evening meals. Mikhail himself didn't need a lot of comfort anyway, so it suited his needs.

The first thing he did after closing and locking the door was, as usual, slip out of his coat and sling his shoulder bag over the arm of one chair, then wander through to the small kitchen and put the kettle on. Coffee was in order. With the most important task under way, he returned to the combined dining and sitting area and pulled out his PET, drawing out the connector cable and plugging it in to the power port by the skirting board. Pirouette's full-sized hologram flickered into sight a moment later and she darted in to 'hug' him again with a murmured thank you. As he dropped into the armchair, she pressed down her tu-tu and took a seat on the dining chair opposite, which was always left facing out from the table for her.

It was a strange thing, he reflected. The initial scan that allowed for projection of her hologram was advanced enough to account for permanent and fixed objects, and allow some primitive tactile limiters, so she could stand on the floor, and sit on chairs, and hold the bar, but it couldn't handle things that weren't fixed or permanent at the time of its initial scan. His mind always revisited the conundrum; surely there must be a way to extend that technology to allow her to interact with people directly... but as always, that was about as far as his thoughts could go. Mikhail was no scientist, and he really had no idea if the thought that seemed so logical to him was actually a foolish impossibility or not.

"I think you got it rather well. It is complex, but it is nothing you can not manage, and I could tell you have already more or less memorised it, just from a couple of walks through the role." She was leaning forward on the chair, one leg crossed over the other with her hands resting in a way that let her hold her tu-tu decent as well. It was a pose that she seemed to adopt without thinking, most notably because her wings would press uncomfortably, and then clip in a discomfiting way through the back of the chair if she attempted to actually sit back. "It really is a shame I can not help you practice the lifts, though. I wish there was something we could do about that. I suppose you will just have to work on those in particular at the rehearsals themselves. Do you know who the troupe has cast for the female lead?" Mikhail shook his head, chuckling quietly at the way her thoughts so closely mirrored his. They had been together for seven years now, and he honestly couldn't imagine his life without her at this point.

"No, not yet. I don't think they've settled yet. But, I imagine all will be well. What do you think of the role?" He arched one eyebrow, watching her, and Pirouette recrossed her legs, then put one finger to her lips, thinking.
"It is interesting. I really like it, to dance it. I think... I think it really suites Samantha the best, but I would also worry that it is a little bit above her technical level, unless she really works very hard to master it. Frielle more than has the technical skills to perform the piece, but... I do not think it really suites her as a dancer. It is just not the right role for her, you know? She has too much natural boldness, and even when she restrains it, it still shines through, so, it would throw off the feel of the character, to cast her in the role." The kettle boiled and clicked off as Mikhail nodded, and heaved himself to his feet again.

"I was thinking the same, dearest, I would really rather dance it with you than either of them, but we shall just have to see who they cast." As he walked through to make his coffee, he watched Pirouette from the corner of one eye and was rewarded with a small, very delicate blush from her. He inhaled the rich scent deeply as he poured the water, the looked up over the divide. Pirouette had turned to watch him, sitting sideways on the chair now, with her arms folded over one corner of the back and one leg crossed up underneath her.
"But we are home now. The script will still be there tomorrow. Tell me, you were up to the last book in your series, weren't you. Did you finish it yet? Tell me of it." The young lady's eyes lit up and she sat up a little straighter, her wings ruffling and flickering briefly.

"Oh, it was fantastic! Ok, so, you remember I told you about how..." Mikhail grinned and nodded as she started to go into depth about the characters and story of the book. Her choice in literature trended towards thick bricks of novels that usually bore long-reaching themes of drama and romance, and while they weren't really to his taste, it was still a delight to listen to her talk with such enthusiasm about them.

His coffee mug sat empty on the coffee table by his chair by the time she reached the dramatic conclusion of her description, and she had moved to lie out in the small amount of floor space that remained to begin stretching. She often did so whenever she had been sitting still for a while, and between the highly flexible poses and the thinness of her white leotard, it showed details that another man might have enjoyed, but Mikhail didn't really notice; to him, she was far more a daughter, or a sister, and thoughts like that simply never occurred to him.

"So, all in all you enjoyed it then, by the sound of things." He chuckled and stood to bring his mug back out to the kitchen, carefully stepping over her as she held a stretch that he might have thought impossible, if he hadn't seen very many human ballerinas hold it as well. "So, what's next on your list, hmm?" She unfolded and rose to her toe points in one smooth action, extending her wings and stretching her arms out to the sides as she did.
"I do not rightly know. I think there is a second series, by the same author. I was going to ask if I could make a quick run to the depository, and see what they have, before you go to bed tonight. Are you feeling up to it?" Mikhail stretched and yawned but nodded anyway and retrieved his slim case of chips from his bag.

"Of course. Ah, but if you find one you like, do not stay up too late, alright?" He wasn't quite sure why he said that. He often did, or other such phrases of care and caution, without really thinking. Over the years Pirouette had stopped reminding him that she didn't actually get hungry, or need sleep, even if she was capable of eating and sleeping normally, and he had never quite shaken the habit. She had said, in the past, that it was a sign he cared, and so, why would she want to stop him? It was enough for him, at least. Especially when the words came naturally before he could think about them, most of the time. "Are you ready to jack in?" She nodded one to him again, and then her image faded away, the navi herself returning to the PET to await his command. Once he was sure she was prepared, Mikhail pushed the button and sent her down into the DenTech nets.

((Jacking In to -> DenTech Net))
((Returning from -> Dentech Net))

By the time Pirouette was safely back in her PET, and likely well ensconced in her bedroom with her new novel, Mikhail had made himself a strong tea with extra milk, and a small nip of vodka, the perfect drink for going to bed. He checked the PET one more time, then set it down on the counter top and turned off the lights.

"Good night, my dear. Sleep well when you do. The alarm is set for the morning, yes?"
"Mmhmm! Good night Mikhail!" She already sounded distracted and engrossed, and the man chuckled quietly to himself before heading to bed.

The next morning, Mikhail had a free window, so it was with a relaxed smile and an easy pace that he made his way to the studio to run through his latest script again and practice. He nodded or greeted a couple of the other lecturers he passed on the way, but mostly spent the walk listening to Pirouette tell him about how her new book had started. As he'd suspected, the girl had stayed up much later into the night than she should have, and the fact that she wasn't out of sorts as a result was one of the few reminders he had that she didn't really have the same needs as people.

"So, you were quite surprised then? I hope you were not too attached to him." He chuckled softly as his navi recounted the apparently unexpected assassination of an important character from the previous series. It was a chill morning, by all normal standards and the others he passed were mostly wrapped up warm, but Mikhail himself didn't really feel the cold as badly as others. Pirouette was busy expressing her hatred of another, apparently responsible character as he made his way inside, turned on the lights, then set his things down to change. She fell silent after he set the PET up to play and project to the room, waiting for him to return in his practice costume and being warming up. She had already activated the advanced projection and was going through the motions of her own warm-ups by the time he returned, though she paused long enough to run over give him a hug, in the fashion that they were able to. When she stood back again the girl stretched again and turned about on one toe.

"Do you want to walk through in order first, or just practice the movements individually?"
"Let us go from the start, I think. Then we shall see if there are any phases I need to work on more than others."
"Ok! I got the musical scoring translated in while you were getting ready this morning, so I can play the—" Mikhail glanced her way when her voice suddenly stopped, but he could see her lips still moving for a few more moments. In silence, Pirouette shot a sharp glance back towards her PET. Her image flickered for a moment, then reappeared.
"It seems fine. That was strange. I'll start the music now, Mikhail, are you ready?" She grinned to him the darted over to the commencement pose for the opposite female lead as the first notes began. About three steps in, however, the music cut out again, and she stopped, turning about with her hands on her hips. Her lips moved but there was no sound. After a few more seconds, her projection vanished, and the girl's voice came from the PET's normal speaker.

"The amplifier seems to have gone, Mikhail. If I use the projection system at all, and it reroutes the audio through it, we get nothing." She sounded very put out by this turn of events, and even though her form had disappeared, Mikhail felt like he could practically see her with her arms folded, pouting furiously at the broken piece of technology. He chuckled then walked over to scoop up the PET and unplug it from the power source.
"Well my sweet, I do not so much feel like being deprived of your lovely voice while we practice. Perhaps we shall take this free time to make a trip and replace the part instead. Better now, when we have the time, then having to deal with it giving out during a class, yes?"
"I suppose..." Mikhail couldn't help but find himself amused by how put out the girl sounded, and he would have liked to have given her a proper hug at that moment. Instead he settled for making a gently soothing sound to her and setting it back with his other belongings.
"Do not worry, little one. It will not take long, and we will be back before you know it. I must change again; I fear I would get many strange looks visiting SciLabs like this." Her softly murmured acceptance followed him as he grabbed his day clothes and changed again swiftly, and then he was setting off across campus towards the metro.

((To -> SciLabs))
((Returning From -> Temple of Divina))

It had been a quiet, thoughtful trip home again for Mikhail. Pirouette had been paid a lot of money, relatively speaking for the time they'd put in, but he was very concerned by how upset she seemed when all was said and done. He had hoped it was only a minor dent in her mood, when she had perked up during the performance, but since getting back to the PET she had spent most of the return journey in her washroom. The colour had come out of her wing tips right away, but the girl still claimed to feel like it wasn't all gone. By the time he was hanging his coat again and was putting the kettle on, Pirouette had emerged and sounded like, at the very least, she was giving up on showering further for now. First things first. He wanted to talk to the girl more seriously about what had happened and to get the details from her, but before they could do that, he had to replace the part that had been the original goal of their outing. Even so, he couldn't keep himself from speaking while he made the quick replacement to the system.

"We are home now, dear one. I will have the projection system fixed swiftly now. Listen, my little one... I know that things did not go as pleasantly as you had hoped, and perhaps some of that is my fault, yes? I didn't consider several things that I should have, before sending you on your way like that, and I am sorry. Perhaps, if you want to try this kind of thing again in the future, we will both be more careful about what work we take. A better plan, yes?" The PET's small, in-built speaker still worked fine while he tinkered, but even so it was few long moments before he heard her voice give a soft affirmative. The kettle boiled and Mikhail put down his work to make himself a drink, then returned to it.

"I know you are unhappy, Pirouette, but I feel it will help you, if I can understand better all that occurred. I will get this projection amplifier fixed, and then we will talk about it. Ah, there we are. Let us try this now. Are you ready?" Another soft 'yes' came while he hooked the PET up to the grounded power and he activated the system. Pirouette herself appeared a few moments later, after the system had scanned the room, and she darted over to him quickly, arms outstretched. He responded, sharing the peculiar facsimile of contact that they had both grown accustomed and wishing once again that they could manage more. It was longer than usual before she relaxed and stepped back again, taking a seat on her chair and ruffling her wings in an uncomfortable manner. To Mikhail's eye, she looked down, and a little upset, but not so direly distressed as he'd been worried about initially. The clear blue of her eyes was steady, and there was no sign that she had been crying, or anything like that. The truth would out once she got down to explaining everything to him, though. He took a drink of his tea, then sat as well, looking at the young ballerina.

"Now, dear one. Class is not until the afternoon. There is time. Talk to me, and share you worries." While he watched her, Pirouette nodded and took a long breath, perhaps deciding where she ought to begin, then began to fill Mikhail in on the mission. The ballet instructor watched her as she spoke, and his tea grew cold while he listened.
It was a week or two before Mikhail decided enough time had passed, that he could safely spend money on things for Pirouette without her objecting. Her mood had returned to normal swiftly after the evening spent talking, and by now the uncomfortable outing was forgotten about. Practice for the performance the troupe was currently working on was going well, and the choices for the other leads were all quite satisfactory, with a bit of pushing and hard training. So it was that when Mikhail was preparing to head out to SciLab to share a coffee with a friend, the idea of taking Pirouette with him to the navi shop finally seemed a more approachable idea. It was after class, and there were no evening rehearsals, so it was a plainly dressed ballet instructor that shrugged on his jacket and slipped his shoulder bag over his head, scooping up his PET in the process.

"You have not seen David in a while, have you, Mikhail? Has he been very busy?" Pirouette's voice sounded relaxed and curious, as well as a little bit distracted. She had just started another book the night before, and apparently it already had its hooks in her. He smiled as she locked the door behind him.

"Yes, my dear. He has been ahh... on assignment, I think he said. He has been working on a project in south Netopia, and it has kept him away. It will be good to catch up, and I may do some shopping afterwards perhaps, while I am there, you know? Now, tell me about your latest story there, little one, yes?" Mikhail was grinning to himself as he headed out, listening to the young woman starting to enthuse over her latest find.

((To -> The Navi Shop))
((Return from -> The Navi Shop))

Two weeks later, and the full run of the troupe's latest performance, saw Mikhail stretching in a relaxed way in his apartment while he read through a few various reviews. All in all things had gone well. Nothing truly world class, but very respectable for the troupe's general level of performance. A few of their performers had flagged in energy towards the end days of the show, and could benefit from working on their performance stamina, but it wasn't a major problem; the show itself had been a very demanding one, both technically and physically, even for some of the minor roles.

Unfortunately, as often happened during the intense times when he had a professional show on, he wasn't quite as ahead of the preparation curve as he would normally prefer to be, for his students. It was the mid-section of the course for the youngest groups, too, when he needed to be particularly on the ball for stopping bad practice from finding a seed. His eyes passed to the folder on the small table, containing his notes on different students. He needed to do a proper review of that again before tomorrow. Mikhail stood up and shook out his limbs, then put the kettle on.

"We will not be able to attend the seminar that David invited you to, will we Mikhail?" Pirouette was sitting on her normal chair, watching him go through his stretches with her hands in her lap. Her wings ruffled slightly as she spoke, looking little wistful. Mikhail sighed and shook his head, getting a fresh mug from the cupboard.

"I am afraid not, dear one. The timing is just not right. We had the show, and now I must catch up on my school preparation. I, too, wished to go see it, but I can't take the night off, I'm sorry. It would need to be the whole night, and I would need to leave now, to get there. I know we have priority invitations, but there is just no room." He sighed and picked up the folder of work as Pirouette looked down at her lap. Before he opened it, however, Mikhail paused, thinking.

"Unless... I know we do not normally do things like this, Pirouette, but after all, you did gain some new strength recently, and there has been no chance to see what it is like, no? How would you like to make the trip for me. Make your way to the Netopia networks, and attend the seminar for both of us, yes?" From where she was sitting, Pirouette brightened, looking up, then frowned in slight worry a moment after.

"I have never gone so far from you alone. I know it is not really so far, and one network is much like another. But there is a sense, you know?" She folded her arms, unsure, but Mikhail could tell how much the young lady wanted to attend. He smiled.

"I will be with you the whole way, lebedёnok, it will be fine. I will watch over you while you make your way there, and I will be able to get the work I need to do done, here, as well, yes?" She flicked her eyes up to him again, grinning softly to match his own smile.

"Alright, I am ready. I will make a recording for you as well, no?" She stood and stretched once, her wings arching upwards as she extended, then shook out and faded, her hologram disengaging as she returned to the PET. Mikhail picked it up off the counter while he made his next cup of coffee and set about jacking her in.

((Pirouette Jacking in, to -> Netopia Net))
((Return from -> Netopia Net))

Pirouette was quiet for several minutes after she had returned and settled in, but Mikhail found himself with much to think about as well. Fortunately, making tea was a good activity that facilitated time for thought and helped formulate ideas, so he did this while his navi settled herself. Eventually, he took a seat with his drink, and set up the PET to allow Pirouette to project if she wished. It scanned the room a few moments later and she appeared before him in the middle of the living space, before taking a seat on her usual chair and crossing one leg over the other. Mikhail ws the first to speak, while his navi continued to look pensively at her tu-tu and visibly resist the urge to fidget.

"What do you make of it, my lebedёnok? A strange occurrence to say the least, do you not think?" His tone was relaxed, but with an edge of concern to it as well. It had easily been the most dangerous and combat intensive situation Pirouette had ever actually been in, considering her normal lifestyle, and he couldn't help but feel protective.

"It is... worrying." the young woman frowned as she contemplated the lacework of her outfit before looking up to him and offering a small shrug. "I am unharmed, Mikhail, it is alright, but... it does concern me that such group exist and may honestly be set upon harming innocent navigators. I am worried too, about that man, Luce... about his reluctance to report the matter to the authorities. If people cannot rely on the net police force to do their job and ensure the safety of navigators, then that is a dangerous failure indeed, you know?" She shook her head, and the motion seemed to travel through the rest of her body in a small shake-out that ended with a ruffle and stretch of her wings. Mikhail sipped his tea and nodded, then sighed in return.

"I worry this too, my dear, but I agree with what you said before. I do not think that this matter is our place to get involved. there must surely be others who are better suited to dealing with such threats. The Net Police themselves should be doing such a job. I will write them a report of what you encountered and submit it as a civilian concern, but I think that is the most we should do for now. What do you say?" He had finished his tea much more quickly than expected, and set the mug down on the counter behind him while Pirouette nodded slowly.

"Da... I think that is best. I worry more that perhaps the police themselves may need an inspection. This is not the first time I have heard other navis talking as though they cannot be relied upon for anything." She stood and began to stretch instead, lying out on the open space in the living area and going through each of her stretch poses gracefully. Mikhail got up to put the kettle on again.

"Perhaps, but not this evening. Tell me more of the conference, little one. I have the recordings, but I think talking about it with you would be a far nicer use of our evening, don't you?" She nodded and smiled in return, and the two of them relaxed more thoroughly, drifting into discussions of their mutual art instead of the night's more worrisome events. It would be another few days before Pirouette decided to act on what had happened, and head towards the NetPolice HQ to give her report in person.

((Pirouette Jacking in, to -> NetPolice HQ))
((Pirouette, returning from -> Her Recruitment Mission))

When Pirouette opened her eyes in Mikhail's living room, she presented herself in her new police outfit, freshly designed and coded, and smiled for her operator as she showed it off for him. Mikhail had just put the kettle on after setting up the PET's projector and letting it scan the room, but he leaned on the counter and nodded to her as he looked it over. His brow drew down for a moment, concerned, and she guessed immediately where his concern had fallen.

"It is nice, lebedёnok, but... If it is a uniform for serious police work, would you not think the skirt to be... ah, more covering, perhaps?" He looked away from her after asking the question, and Pirouette felt immediately sorry for his mild discomfort. She folded her hands at her waist, then sat in her own chair, one knee folded across the over safely.

"Aie... it is traditional, no? I looked up many styles throughout history, and the cut is what used to be formally worn. The hose is completely opaque, you know, so I think it will be fine. There is no formal uniform for the Net Police, Mikhail. None at all! I made his one, but I am hoping to set a good example, and maybe spread some influence, yes?" Mikhail grimaced at first, but then sighed with a shrug and turned his expression into a vaguely wry smile.

"Well, I cannot say what influence you will have setting a uniform like that, my dear, but as long as you are comfortable with it, I cannot complain. It is just another costume, after all, is it not?" She nodded and grinned in response.

"Da, and one I think the organisation sorely needs, you know." Slowly, Pirouette settled in to telling Mikhail about her recruitment mission, and the problem cases she'd been asked to review. In her descriptions, she shied away slightly from going into too much detail about the less savoury elements of the police force and what had occurred, focusing instead on the appearance of some deeper corruption at work. Unnoticed by the ballerina, Mikhail's head turned slightly and he watched her expression with a more piercing eye as she unconsciously described HoundMan in subtly more detail than the others, and with more enthusiasm and more allowance for his failures than she'd made for any other charge. He didn't say anything, but a thoughtful expression moved across his face while Pirouette herself remained oblivious.

Eventually, when her recount wound down and Mikhail made himself a coffee, the ballet instructor retook his seat and stretched, warming both hands on the mug afterwards.

"So, my little one, you have been accepted now. You said they have no hour plan, and that it is just handled by whoever shows up, whenever they choose to? It seems a very disorganised arrangement, I must say, but I suppose it is most convenient for you and I. When will you begin the good work, as it were?" Opposite him, Pirouette ruffled her wings and stretched as well.

"I do not wish to push too hard or too quickly, you know. If I try to make waves from the start, no one will take kindly to me. I think I should give it some time first. Besides, I do so want to help the little ones with their performance piece in the next week, yes? There are classes, of course, but I know you will be putting in extra hours with them, and of course I wish to be there too." Unconsciously, she had pressed her hands together in an excited gesture, and Mikhail chuckled, nodding. Their conversation moved on to the students of their various classes and levels, and from there to the professional work that Mikhail himself was training and practising for. It would be a small while before Pirouette took any further action on the police front.

((Pirouette, jacking in to -> Syne's Office))
((Branch from -> The Swan Theatre))

Several busy days passed, turning eventually into a busy week of teaching, watching, grading and helping, before Mikhail and Pirouette again had something approaching a morning free. Pirouette was idly stretching in the middle of the living area while Mikhail skimmed a newspaper and sipped his tea. She finished the last extensions of the set and turned to face her operator, raising and lowering herself on her toe points in a thoughtful way.

“Mikhail... we have no plans until later, yes? I was thinking, I should like to check in with the Net Police again, and do some more work there.” Across from her, Mikhail set his paper down and glanced at her, nodding slowly.

“Indeed, my dear. I had thought you might wish to return soon. You wish to impress though, so I might make a suggestion.” He was grinning and Pirouette darted across the room to sit beside him on her turned-out chair, leaning in in interest. Her operator chuckled.

“I was meaning to head to SciLab later, and pick up a new pair of speaker boxes for the the sound stage. The order came in for collection yesterday. If we head out now, perhaps I could visit master Suitachi's business as well, no? I know your interest in his little upgrades has not waned yet.” He laughed again as Pirouette fought to suppress an eager squeak and clapped her hands.

((To -> The Navi Shop))