Before the bar opened that night, Tifa called an unofficial staff meeting. Since it was unofficial, only those who would be working tonight had to show up, which let my brother off the hook –a good thing, since I wasn't sure that he could keep himself from laughing when Tifa introduced me as Lola. It was ten minutes until our appointed meeting time when Tifa led me into Seventh Heaven. It was my first time entering the bar –I was underage, although I didn't look it– and as such, I allowed my eyes to wander around the bar-room and learn the territory. Along the east wall, the dark wood of the counter and the shelf behind it gleamed in the low light. Light refracted off amber and clear bottles and the metal fixtures. Toward the southern end, there were two doors side by side. The closer of the two doors read "Manager" –Tseng's office, I translated– and the other had no label, but I knew it was Tifa's office. Another door butted up to the southeast corner, and I figured it lead to the storeroom. Toward the southwest corner, there were two doors labeled clearly "Men" and "Women". Absently, I pondered which room I should use in respect to the way I was dressed. Women's room, I decided fairly quickly. I do not want to be the reason anyone yells out 'There's a chick in the men's room!' My eyes slowly traced the west wall. A portion of the west wall was met by a platform in the same dark color of wood as the gleaming bar, and atop the platform sat a dark baby grand piano. The wooden flooring was lighter than the other wooden elements, and it bore the heavy scarring of sliding barstools, chairs and tables, not to mention the occasional bar-brawl. Tables were scattered in a seemingly random pattern, but they all seemed to face the platform, better known as the stage. The only things that didn't actively face the stage were the stools at the bar, and I had a feeling they would be turned around to watch, as well. A smile crossed my lips. I liked this bar already, and I was pretty sure the atmosphere would only improve when the bar was filled with people, noise, and smoke. "Oh, I like that smile, Lola," Tifa informed me, grinning. I just laughed, about to respond when the door opened and the bell chimed. "Hey, Pence. You wanna try out the pipes of our potential new lounge singer?" Tifa asked the man who entered the bar. Pence had to be the accompanist, then. I turned and looked at him. He was a little on the short side, but cute in a boyish way. He still had a baby face, and it practically lit up when he smiled. His dark hair was a little long; it fell into his dark eyes frequently, I could already tell. Slender he was not, but he wasn't overly large. He was plump, I decided, with just enough meat on his bones to make him interesting. I gave him a bone-melting smile. "I'm Lola Sinclair, Reno's younger sister," I told him, careful to use Lola's voice. Pence raised an eyebrow. "And you can carry a tune in a bucket?" "Touché," I replied, laughing. "Apparently all of the musical talent passed him by." I smiled at him again. "Since Miss Tifa wants to see what I can do, what's in your repertoire?" "I can play hymns and Disney." His voice was wry. "Disney was all that Yuffie would sing." I wrinkled my nose. "Do you read music, then? My repertoire runs more to show tunes." He shook his head. "I'm strictly by ear. If you can send me some recordings, I should be able to learn some new stuff for you, though. But only if you pass the test. Pick a piece." I paused for a moment to think. What Disney song wouldn't be an affront to nature? I'd already ruled out the church music because I was a gay man in drag. God would undoubtedly strike me dead if I dared to sing a hymn, and rightfully so. "Hm. Do you know 'Reflection'? From Mulan?" He nodded. "Okay, so how does this work?" I asked him slowly. "I've never worked with a by-ear pianist, and I certainly don't have the same range as Yuffie." Instead of answering me immediately, he started for that beautiful baby grand piano. I followed, praying I didn't teeter in the heels. I was used to wearing them, but that didn't make me the world's most graceful man-in-drag. As I ascended the steps, his eyes rested on me for a moment before falling to the ivory keys. "Just start singing and I'll follow you and find the right key," he directed. I nodded stiffly and took a deep breath. Pinpointing the note I wanted to start on was the difficult part: there were, after all, so many notes and keys to choose from. Closing my eyes, I exhaled slowly and reached for my starting note. "Look at me," I began softly, "I will never pass for a perfect bride or a perfect daughter." The piano joined in hesitantly, his playing a little clumsy as he tried to find me. For some reason, I felt a little more confident, but I refused to open my eyes. "Can it be," I sang, my volume increasing a little, "I'm not meant to play this part?" The piano came out more strongly as he found the right key. My confidence rose further, and I allowed my volume to rise just a little more. "Now I see that if I were truly to be myself, I would break my fam'ly's heart." I heard the key change and I relied on my voice and my instincts to make that jump, but lowered my volume because I wanted to play with the dynamics some. "Who is that girl I see staring straight back at me? Why is my reflection someone I don't know?" Stepping up the volume a bit, I sang the next part. "Somehow, I cannot hide who I am, though I've tried. When will my reflection show who I am inside?" I forced myself to back down a little on the volume. "When will my reflection show who I am inside?" I finished slowly, softly. Pence played only a few more measures before the song ended. Applause sounded from multiple sources in the bar. My eyes flew open and I tried to push away the heat rising in my cheeks. Sometime during the song, five people had trickled into the bar. More precisely, five men: three blonds and two brunettes. When I sang, I had a tendency to drift off into my own little world, so it really didn't surprise me that I hadn't heard the bell chime. I just hated how much it startled me to see five people in the room who weren't in there before I'd started. "She the new singer?" one of the men, a blond, asked Tifa. Tifa smiled. "Depends on what Pence says." "You're a powerful alto. I think I could enjoy learning new pieces just to hear what you do," Pence told me. I wanted to blush all over again. "Thank you. " "Boys, this lovely lady is Lola Sinclair. She's Reno's younger sister," Tifa told them. One of the dark haired men lifted a brow. "Really? I figured she was much to pretty too be related to Reno." I laughed. Tifa sighed. "Zack, must you flirt with everything that has legs." One of the blonds –not the one who'd spoken up earlier –set his hand on one of Zack's shoulders. "T, you know he can't help it. It's his nature." I smiled, but tried to interrupt before the conversation got to serious. "May I ask your names, since you know mine?" I interjected smoothly. The blond that was touching Zack spoke up first. "I'm Cloud Strife. I'm one of the waiters. And this ADHD puppy is Zackary Fair, also one of the waiters and unfortunately my significant other." Cloud had spiky blond hair that looked untamable: it stuck up in tuffs, much like mine usually did. He had intense blue eyes the color of neon, as did Zack. Zack had spiky black hair that stuck up identically to the way mine usually did. Zack was taller than his boyfriend and about my height. At Cloud's pronouncement about their relationship being unfortunate, Zack began to pout. The other brunette nodded at me. "Squall Leonhart. Also on wait-staff." Squall was intriguing. His hair was dark-brown and his eyes were pale blue. Although his appearance was rather normal, he had a magnetic intensity to him that would have set him apart no matter what. There was a scar that crossed diagonally across from his forehead to the bridge of his nose that might put some people off, but I found it added to his mystique. The blond that hadn't spoken at all yet gave me a mock salute. "Seifer Almasy. I'm a bartender." Seifer's hair was shorter than Cloud's. it stuck up, but more in an artful array of spikes instead of in tufts. His eyes were blue, as well, but nowhere near as intense as Cloud's and Zack's were. Seifer also bore an almost identical scar to Squall: it was more like the mirror image of it, since the diagonal scar began on the opposite side of his face. But Seifer didn't seem near as intense as Squall for some reason. The last of the group was another blond. "I'm Demyx Dincht. I'm a bartender, like Seifer, but unlike him, I actually like people." There was something about Demyx that made me think that he and I –Axel, as opposed to Lola– would be fast friends. I wasn't sure if it was that fun-loving grin he was sporting or the blond Mohawk. His eyes were blue, as well, but like the sky or a tidal pool. He looked… well, he looked like he'd be a lot of fun to hang out with sometime. "It's so very nice to meet you all," I replied with a big smile, still careful to keep Lola's voice in place. "Alright, everybody. Let's get ready for tonight," Tifa instructed. She gave me a bit of a sideways smile. "Lola, honey, why don't you and Pence find about… oh, three songs you can do tonight? I know I said I didn't want to hear any more Disney, but it's what we've got." I tried hard not to wince about being called 'honey' and watched all of the other men scurry around to get ready to open. I turned to Pence to ask the question that had been nagging me clear through the introduction. "Pence, does Tifa employ any straight guys, aside from you?" He raised a brow at me once more. "What makes you say they're all gay?" "Psh. Live with a gay man as long as I have and you can practically smell it," I told him. "Besides, she employs my brother, and her manager is my brother's boyfriend." "Well, in answer to your inquiry… I'll have to think about that." He was quite for a second or two. "I think the only other one is Rude, the bouncer." "Well that's frightening," I informed him. "What do they do when straight girls hit on them?" "Milk it for all it's worth," Pence said with a snort. I laughed as well. Some of them probably did better than others, but I could totally see my brother milking it for all it was worth.