Wicked Alchemy 1

Another regular weekend, it seemed. Linao was getting a little tired of it. Jim always dragged her to these flashy clubs so he could parade her like some prize he won in a vending machine; Sacrilege, Midnight Rave, Envy, and now The Cave… They all radiated with the same smoky atmosphere, inside and out – some giant cauldron of squirming flesh and screeching noise that attracted more and more people like moths to a bug zapper.

Not that she minded. Sure, the noise was heavy, the people were mind-numbingly predictable, the air smelled of sour alcohol and cheap perfume. But she could hang it over his head later. It was the favors for which she found herself repeatedly standing in these lines, squished between pavement and hazy air, huddled in the cold that seemed to cling to her skin. It was almost addictive. He would feel guilty for a few days, and she received the coddling of a prince.

At least, she used to.

Nowadays, it was more for argument’s sake that she kept her weekly chore. Or boredom. Or maybe the jealous thought that he would go, with or without her...

"Remind me why I'm here again?" she mused, leaning against the cold, stone wall in some hopes of sparking a sympathetic conversation. It seemed so hard lately to break him away from his own routine. His eyes wandered over the crowd as if they were more interesting than the new outfit she'd brandished tonight just for him. It was uncomfortable – the outfit, almost as much as the lack of attention it provoked.

"I couldn't guilt anyone else into driving me." Jim poked fun as he swiveled his gaze back to her, a casual glance if ever one existed. "Come on, Lin, it's only a concert. Would you please stop bitching and give them a chance?" It was cold. He stuffed his hands farther in the pockets of his jacket and stared ahead, counting the heads of the people in front of them.

"Bitching? I'm not bitching. I'm observing." She was bitching. She wanted to bitch. It was only fair. "Gods, Jim, will you look at these people? Half of them are here with the sole purpose of pissing off their parents-"

"Oh please." Well, at least he was finally looking at her. Jim's voice seemed to drop a few tones and a few degrees at the same time. It was always the same… He was so sick of playing the guilty schmuck, and the tired disgust plastered over his face. "This coming from Daughter of the Year Linao Nakigoe. Tell me, has your mom found your cigarettes yet? Or is she still putting off cleaning your room for fear of falling objects?"

"Oh, shut up, James." She tried not to let the surprise mingle in her voice. He didn't usually take her arguments so personally. "I'm doing this as a favor to you," she reminded him primly. "Don't abuse it."

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