(Qannen) The Rehearsal

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Qannen arrives at the Arena Mall, summoned not even by her sister, but by Alikatase, her mother's one-time rival and Qannen's now presumptive mother-in-law. It was an entirely innocuous message, just telling her what time to show up for the pre-wedding run-through, but still. Alikatase did say "looking forward to seeing you" at the end, which, it must be said, is the nicest energy Alikatase has ever directed towards her. Charitably, it could be an olive branch. Could it also be a veiled threat? Who knows! Qannen Liked it and swiped it away.

It's early and they're just starting to let people into the Mall for the show. There are people lined up in every direction around the block while bingey_effervescent, the host for today's events, goes through his pre-game pitch.

Guys. Guys. Guys. The trailer for Qynkazel: Duopoly is FINALLY here. Are you crying, dying, sobbing, all of the above? bc same. I can't wait to see your reactions and videos and eeeeeeek

It's a 30 second teaser trailer for the wedding, soft lighting and bokeh, tinkly pee pee music, glimpses of Qynka and Azelbeth smiling at each other, bright white silk and gentle breezes. Bleh. People are freaking out about it.

Qannen enters the mall through one of the side entrances, away from the crowds. Before she heads down the steps to the backstage area she pokes her head over a low wall. Just a quick look at the inside of the mall, like cutting yourself to feel something. A reminder that you are real, that you definitely exist.

The Arena Mall is four concentric rings of brand engagement opportunities, with the multi-level stage in the center. The last time she was here the Qrrashiclans and the Superfines were actively ripping each other's faces off. Now apparently they're one big happy family.

The battle feels so long ago even though it was only however long ago it was. There was so much at stake last time. Daddy forcing them to fight the Superfine Trio because they weren't being interesting enough on their own. He wanted the best for them. He wanted them to do better, to be better. Qynka really seems to have embraced it, because ever since then she's like a completely different person. Hasn't Qannen changed too? She's been through so much, being kidnapped, the Thornes, Dzzahn. But maybe not. She was able to perform rage and hatred the last time she was here; she's able to perform love and happiness just as easily.

She was always the wild & impetuous one. The weird one, the slutty one. She only ever did whatever she wanted. Qynka was the string that kept her tethered. The quiet one, the thinker, the strategist. Any time Qannen was about to jump off a roof Qynka could narrate six pathways for negative outcomes, grab her arm or leg at the last second.

And Qynka would always fall too deep inside her own head, which is what got her into trouble after her girlfriend Lamantine died, and she ended up on Recovery. But Qannen was there for her, her positive energy deployed to keep her sister afloat. To bring her brain back to the surface.

Something misfired during that battle, when Qynka killed Arkkelina. Was that it? Was this whole thing just a guilt trip, Qynka trying to bring new love into the Superfine's lives after taking it away? If so it was an extremely dumb idea. But whatever the reason, now Qynka was doing the weirdest most random and bizarre thing ever in marrying Azelbeth and here was Qannen, overthinking it, trying to think ahead in the narrative and not understanding any of the pathways the narrative lead.

She doesn't want to be here, participating in this relationship that she is not even a part of. It feels more arduous than any physical fight she can remember or imagine. Her body is screaming at her to not be here. To turn and get as far away from this wedding as possible. But where would she go, how far away could she get, realistically? There's nowhere.

All she wanted was stupid Dzzahn to be here with her. To have someone on her side, but he always had that thing about walls having two sides. What would that even be like. What would it mean to not be here? For there to be some place other than Wood2? She can't quite wrap her brain around what that would look like, what that would feel like.

Qannen heads down the stairs and into the space under the stage. She sees bingey and Alikatase arguing about something. Qynka and Azelbeth are holding hands, whispering to each other, a million miles away off on their own. Anhedine is talking to some of the caterers, going over ground rules. She notices Qannen watching her and acknowledges her presence with a slight eyebrow raise. Qannen interprets it as Welp this is certainly a thing that is actually happening. Qannen gives a vague low wave back in acknowledgment.

There are zonnys buzzing around everywhere, capturing the behind-the-scenes footage that will be repackaged down the road- the anniversary retrospective, the blooper real, the fandom exclusives.

She has to go over there and put on the performance of her life. She and her sister are not going to have a real conversation today, not with so many zonnys, so many people recording. They're just going to smile and be on camera and get through it for the fans. Which means she's probably never going to have a real conversation with her sister again. Qannen cannot see herself ever willingly participating long-term in this narrative of Qynka's. There's no way she's going to be a side character in the Superfine dynasty show. Which is probably how Qynka understands it too. So fine. In all likelihood this is it. The celebration at the end of their relationship, the birth of a new family, the death of the old one.

It's time to start the show. She is about to take one step toward them, one step into the rest of her dreaded life, when she feels someone standing behind her.

"Hi."

Dzzahn. Her heart can't help but immediately lift, just a little, before the memories of how hurt and disappointed she is in him flood back. He's wearing nice pants and a jacket and sneakers. He's looking at her like he's prepared a speech. His hair looks incredibly cute.

Qannen: How'd you get back here?

Dzzahn: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I just walked in. No one stopped me.

Qannen: What do you want, we're kind of busy here.

Dzzahn: I needed to see you.

Qannen: Why.

Dzzahn takes a deep breath and looks around helplessly like he's not sure what to do with himself. The wedding party and the zonnys have quieted and turned their attention to them as well.

Then: Dzzahn gets down on one knee. He looks up at Qannen, his eyes bright, his face nothing but devotion.

Qannen: Wait what is happening.

Dzzahn: Qannen. I am so sorry for how I was being yesterday. I spent my whole life being so obsessed with you, I never even imagined I could ever be in a position to actually disappoint you. I hope you can forgive me. It would really mean a lot to me if I could finger you at your sister's wedding.

Qannen's heart lurches inside her chest. She's crying. Before she even realizes it she's kneeling down with him. "Yes yes yes yes yes," she says, kissing him fiercely, hungrily, over and over again. She feels his love flowing into her. Now she has something to look forward to, a reason to be here today. She can do this. She can smile for the cameras and look excited about her sister getting married. She can perform today, as good as the city needs her to.

They get to their feet. Still kissing, Qannen still crying. She wipes her eyes and looks at Dzzahn again. "You look so good," she says. "You paired the Target traxedos and the x_-_pathsthetic_-_x jacket with the sneakers from Paape! I love it."

"I wanted to look nice for you. I wasn't sure it would be formal enough for a wedding but maybe I'm overdressed...?" He motions to Qannen's outfit. A simple TopSlash bodysuit with Vintage Loss slides. A simple no-makeup looks and her purple & pink hair kind of everywhere. She hasn't looked so dressed down since day three of her kidnapping.

"Oh this? Yeah no don't worry. We have no idea what the wedding party is going to wear yet, the fighting hasn't even started."

"The fighting?"

Qannen grabs his hand and pulls him to along, to join the others. She's ready to get through this.

"It's a wedding, duh. Of course there's fighting."

///

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