How long had she been here? She didn’t know, but too long, for sure. What time was it? Looking around the room, Lacus couldn’t see any kind of clock. That was strange. Isn’t this where performers usually came when they were on rotation? How could they know when to go on without a clock? It made no sense.
This club was so disorganised. Lacus wondered who was in charge. Some lecherous old man, most likely: A bald scalp, a grey moustache, and thick rimmed glasses for his failing eyesight.
Making such superficial judgements was beneath the pinkette. She knew this, but all the same, Lacus couldn’t help herself. She was in a bad mood. Not the kind that would make her snap at people, that wasn’t in her character, but she was feeling rather down.
That dreaded feeling had crept throughout her body again. That unknown, black substance that spread through her veins like a gas, freezing her blood, poisoning her heart, leaving her feeling empty and lethargic.
She didn’t want to be here any longer. She just wanted to go home. She missed her friends, her family, her life.
Lacus had been so popular once. Everybody had wanted to know her. Everyone had wanted to be seen with her. She was the princess of the school. What had happened? Where were they now?
Where were her many legions of friends now that she needed them? She’d done so much for them over those golden years of teenhood. She’d given so much, expecting nothing in return.
Nothing. She didn’t want anything in return for her kindness. She’d helped them all so much, and been happy to do it, but now, now that Lacus needed help, where were they? Where had they gone? Why would they now have nothing to do with her?
Now that she needed them, her friends had miraculously forgotten her number. Why? Was lacus really that terrible a person? Was she deserving of being shunned like this? What had she done to deserve this?
What she had done, was it truly so bad as to sentence her to this lonely torment? Did this punishment really fit her crime? Lacus’ head dropped into her lap. She wanted to cry.
The pinkette felt inexorably lonely. She was thirsty, exhausted, humiliated, lonely… miserable.
A half-empty bottle of alcohol sat upright on the table before her, but Lacus wouldn’t touch it. The drink contained within was truly vile.
The pinkette’s head jerked up at hearing her name called. She looked to the source of that familiar voice. She saw Miriallia standing a short way away. She looked almost nervous.
“Are you… alright?” Wordlessly, Lacus nodded her head. “Can I sit down?” Lacus nodded once again, and the brunette found a seat beside her.
“I heard about what happened with Seiran.”
Lacus’ eyes widened, only for an instant, and she turned her head to face the brunette.
“Athrun told me,” Miriallia explained.
“I see,” Lacus replied, her tone deadpan, trying her best to sound aloof.
“Are you okay? I mean, Athrun told me that the guy didn’t have time to—He didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“No. Not physically at least.”
“I mean—“ The way Miriallia was staring at the pinkette caught Lacus off guard. She turned away from the brunette, looking instead to where somebody had earlier that day been applying make-up, but she wasn’t there now. She’d probably be on stage, or among the shameless masses on the club floor below. “I think I did more damage to him, than he did to me.”
“Right,” Miriallia smirked. “Athrun told me about how you scratched his face off.”
“I wouldn’t put it as strongly as that.”
“Don’t be modest. The girls all owe you one. Maybe he’ll think twice before he tries it again.” Lacus could only nod her agreement.
As the minutes passed, it seemed as though the girls had sat in silence for the longest time, throughout which Miriallia sent countless unnoticed glances at the pinkette.
For the umpteenth time, the brunette opened her mouth to speak, but once again found that she couldn’t form the words. She’d never in her life been called meek or timid. Bold and outrageous: That was her. The deviant, the dancer, the lowly schoolboy’s fantasy.
Miriallia did not fit into the archaic role of submissive girlfriend. She wasn’t one to sit back, look cute, and do as she was told, but for the right type of person, the short haired brunet could be a dream come true. The paragon of a good time.
Once again, her lips pulled into a smirk. She was the schoolboy’s wet dream, and his mother’s worst nightmare. So why?
“Why was she finding it so difficult to talk about this? Aqua eyes shot once more into the direction of the delectable pinkette. She licked her lips nervously. There was only one way to begin.
“Lacus?” the pinkette turned to her. “Well… I’m sorry.” Those pale eyes narrowed, pink brows knit in unvoiced confusion. “You know, for earlier.”
She gestured to Lacus’ white jacket.
“I… should apologise too,” the pinkette meekly confessed.
“Maybe, but not to me.”
“I blew it. Whatever happens now… I deserve it!” Lacus drowned her head in her hands.
“Don’t say that. It was your first time. You were just nervous. I shouldn’t have pushed you so far. It was my fault.”
“I don’t hear a denial,” Miriallia joked, but lacus didn’t seem to be in a jovial mood.
“I… I really needed this to work out.”
Lacus turned to the brunette, peering into her curious eyes. “I… I need the money.” She cut herself off there, refusing to say anymore. She’d revealed too much already, but those eyes remained kind, remained curious, and most importantly, remained on her. There was no snide contempt within them. No judgement. Not even pity. It was as though Miriallia viewed her not as a burden, not as a problem, but as an equal. Had she once been in a similar situation?
“Can I help at all?”
“You don’t want to do that,” Lacus kindly refused. “Thank you, but just ask anyone. I have a habit of not repaying favours.”
“Call it a gift then.”
“I don’t want anyone’s charity. I’ll earn my keep,” Lacus snapped.
Miriallia raised a concerned eyebrow at the curious reaction. “Don’t let pride sink you. I don’t know what you’re going through, but you may not have a choice. Besides, a gift isn’t the same as a donation.”
Lacus blanched, her eyes softening. She was doing it again. Pushing people away. All this girl had done was try to help. “I’m sorry.”
“Hey, stop apologising, but are you sure there’s nothing I can do?” Lacus’ eyes lost their focus. “I know the owner. Maybe I can get you a job in the evenings. – Not on the stage,” she quickly added at Lacus’ continued silence. “I’m sure there’re a few positions open in the bar or the games room.”
“Thanks,” Lacus replied, still not looking directly at the brunette.
“Hey, don’t get your hopes up or anything,” Miriallia joked, “But I’ll see what I can do.”
“I’m such an idiot,” Lacus exclaimed.
“What?” Miriallia asked her, quite taken aback by the proclamation.
“It took so much for me to come here, to put on this costume, to beg for this job—“
“You had to beg?“
“To go out there in front of those… Those people! And then I go and ruin everything. Why? Because I can’t handle a little…”
“Nudity?” Miriallia suggested, “Humiliation?”
“I was practically nude anyway. What was the big deal?” Lacus’ head shook, waves of shame rolling like snow from her thick hair. Had she overreacted? The answer was obvious. It seemed so stupid now. “I’m so stupid. I’m an idiot. All for nothing,” She repeated, burying her face in her hands once again. “Nothing.”
Unsure of what to do, Miriallia placed an arm around the other girl’s trembling shoulders.
“Stop blaming yourself. I was the one that exposed your chest to the crowd. I’m the stupid one. I went too far. I don’t know why I did it. I don’t know what I was thinking. I just… felt an impulse, so I acted on it. It… seemed like a good idea at the time, sorry.”
Lacus looked up at Miriallia’s apologetic face. “What part of pulling down my top sounded like a good idea?”
The brunette shrugged. “The part where I pulled down your top?” She offered an apologetic grin. “I’m sorry. Look, I’ll get you another chance, okay?” she plead, throwing up her hands in mock surrender. “I’ll get you another job. A better job. A job with bells. Something you’ll feel comfortable doing. Can you forgive me?”
Lacus looked long and hard at the Brunette, and felt the corner of her lips pull themselves upward. She couldn’t help it. Even if she did owe her humiliation to this brunette, Lacus just couldn’t stay mad at the girl. “Promise?”
Matching the pink haired girl’s grin, Miriallia launched herself into close proximity, wrapping both arms around the girl, holding her tightly, keeping her in an embrace, pulling her into an unnecessarily tight hug.
“What are you doing?” Lacus asked. She could feel her cheeks growing hot.
“Don’t talk,” the brunette unhelpfully replied, and despite herself, despite the uncomfortable closeness, despite the unbearable warmth growing in her cheeks, Lacus’ grin stayed, widened. And her arms wrapped themselves around Miriallia’s body, holding her with the same tightness. Embarrassment withstanding, face burning, and not quite sure what she was doing or why, she allowed her head to rest upon the other girl’s shoulder.
“Come on,” Mirialla offered, her voice soft. “I’ll take you home.”
Lacus nodded and slowly raised to her feet as the other girl backed away, turning her eye to the open bottle on the table.
“Don’t forget your drink,” the brunette reminded.
Lacus looked to the bottle and blanched. “I don’t want it,” she replied.
“Okay,” Miriallia shrugged, taking the bottle for herself and downing it in one go. “You ready?”
Slowly, Lacus nodded without a word and quietly stood to her feet. Keeping close at her heel like a loyal dog, she followed the other girl out of the room.
The walk out was a slow one, and thankfully, quiet. Despite claiming to be new here, Miriallia apparently knew her way around, and was able to lead the pinkette through silent, unused hallways where they ran into no other dancers or patrons: something for which Lacus was entirely grateful.
The girl couldn’t tell how long they’d walked in moderate silence. The only sound to break the stillness was the constant clicking of four-inch stiletto against polished floor tile.
The walk seemed long to the pinkette, but before she knew it, Lacus found herself amongst the lush, scarlet carpeting of the front lobby that sat between the bar and the main exit.
“How far are you?” the brunette asked.
“What?” Miriallia couldn’t help but smile endearingly at the adorable confusion on Lacus’ face. Nobody could be this cute.
“You wanna ride, don’t you?” she smirked.
“Oh, right. Yeah, it’s an apartment complex. It’s not far, just go –“
“Hey, you two!” Lacus’ eyes widened at being cut off and turned to the source of the voice to see a young man swiftly approaching them. She knew this person. The one she’d spoken to before, the one who’d given her this job for the night. Tall; thin; light stubble lined the skin below his chin; he had thick, curly brown hair. “That was quite the performance you two did.”
“Thanks,” Miriallia smirked.
“So, how much do I owe you girls?”
“We both danced,” Miriallia stated. “That should be twenty each.”
“You did a bold dance, didn’t you? I reward those who go the extra mile. That’s another twenty each.” He turned to Lacus “You exposed yourself. That’s worth an extra twenty, and I suppose the princess made forty as well.”
“So, totalled up and divided evenly, that comes to…”
“Forty six dollars each.” He handed the cash over to Miriallia. “I’ll give the princess her share, too.”
“There’s only fifty dollars here,” Miriallia stated.
“That’s what you’re owed,” the young man replied. “I gave you a little bonus. There a problem?”
“Where’s Lacus’ share?”
The brunet turned to look at the pinkette once more. “You had a lot of potential, I’ll admit. You were nervous, and it showed, but the crowd responded well once the two of you got going. Did you collect any tips?”
“No,” Lacus answered, looking down at her suddenly fascinating feet.
“That’s too bad. You really shouldn’t have left before the dance was over. You have serious work-ethic issues. You know that? I had you scheduled to dance the main stage. You were oblidged to do your job. You failed to comply, so you get nothing.”
“I’m sorry!” Lacus demanded, her eyes pleading in a way that Miriallia would never be able to deny. She looked to the young man, but saw no reservations in his features. The pinkette’s puppy eyes wouldn’t do anything for her here.
“I’m trying to run a respectable business here. I can’t have my employees coming and going willy nilly. Surely you can understand that?”
“I know, I was an idiot. It won’t happen again.”
“How can I believe that? I already gave you a chance, and you let me down.”
“It wasn’t my fault! She pulled my costume off!” the pinkette offered desperately, shifting the blame to the brunette.
Miriallia flinched as the young man’s hand hit Lacus’ cheek with a harsh backhand slap.
“You think you can fuck with me and get away with it?” he demanded. “I don’t care if she raped you with a fucking wine bottle! The other girls could strip you naked, cover you in honey and push you off the stage into the crowd if they want to. I don’t care. I gave you a slot on the main stage. I expect you to fucking dance! I put you on stage, you put on a show, and we all make a lot of money. If you don’t dance, you don’t get paid, and worse, you make me look like a fucking idiot! All our reputations are on the line, every single night. Do you really expect me to give you another chance to make me look bad? Just how fuckin’ stupid do you think I am? If I give you a job, you’re obligated to do it. Surely you know that.”
“Y-yes,” the pinkette admitted. There was nothing she could say.
“Don’t be so hard on her,” Miriallia defended. She did alright considering this was her first time. She’s not used to places like this.”
“Then perhaps she should look for work somewhere more appropriate.”
“It’s not like I haven’t tried,” Lacus replied under her breath.
“It was my fault,” Miriallia defended. “I pushed her too hard. If we stuck to a more… mild dance, she would have been fine.”
“That’s not my problem. I can’t have dancers that don’t dance and run off stage because they get scared.”
“It was my first time! It won’t happen again.”
“Why should I give you another chance?”
“Please, I need this! I’ll do anything! Don’t put me on the stage if you can’t trust me, just let me do something. Anything.” The man smirked.
“Anything? Forgive me for asking, but… you’re not a virgin, are you?”
Miriallia’s eyes widened.
“What?” the pinkette asked, taken aback.
“Answer the question.”
“You don’t have to do that,” the brunette assured, placing an arm on Lacus’ shoulder.
“No,” the pinkette uttered.
“No you’re not, or no you won’t answer?”
“…I’m not.” The young man’s lip curled upward.
“Then perhaps I do have a position for you, after all.”
“I don’t like this,” Miriallia stated coldly.
“Since you can’t be trusted to work autonomously, I’ll give you a job where you can just lay back and take it easy… in a manner of speaking.” Miriallia’s eyes narrowed.
“Let’s go,” she said, but the man ignored her.
“How about I strip you naked and chain you to one of the beds?” Lacus eyes widened in shock at the prospect. “You said you’d do anything, right? Even though you ran out before you were done, I think the customers were starting to really like you. I could probably charge a hundred dollars a head. What do you think?”
Lacus’ head began to shake. No, not that, anything but that.”
“What’s wrong, you said anything, didn’t you?”
“Stop it, can’t you see –“
“No!” Lacus cried. From the corner of her eye she saw the brunet approach her, and without thinking, she reacted.
“Fuck!,” the man cursed, clasping at his face where the girl had scratched him. Right hand balled into a fist, pulling back before he lunged, punching her with a hook to the left side of her face.
Lacus fell backward from the force of the blow, and Miriallia jumped to stand between them, trying to protect Lacus, but not quite fast enough to prevent her from being hit.
“Tolle!” the brunet seethed. “I’m warning you, and listen closely, because I’ll only say it once. You lay a hand on Lacus one more time, and I’ll never speak to you again.”
It didn’t sound like much of a threat to Lacus, but it seemed to work, judging by the look on his face.
“I didn’t mean it, I just… fuck. Seiran warned me about those claws of hers, but… fuck.” Tolle examined the fingertips covering his injured flesh, as if checking to see whether or not he was bleeding.
“Are you listening?” Miriallia demanded. Her patience had boiled dry.
“Yeah, I’m sorry, okay?”
“I’m not the one you should be apologising to.”
“Okay,” he said, turning to the pinkette who was still sprawled out ungracefully on the ground. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not that easy,” Miriallia replied. You have to make up for it. Redeem yourself. Give Lacus another chance. A real chance. Give her a job she can do. Something she’s comfortable with.”
“And what if she’s not suitable for anything?”
“We won’t know until we try. We can put her behind the bar at least. She could be a waitress, or you could have someone show her how to mix drinks. Just give her an honest shot. That’s all I ask.”
“And If I refuse?”
“You know what will happen. You know as well as I do that you don’t have a choice in this. You don’t want it getting out that you hit your girls, do you? It may not affect business directly, but how many people do you think are going to want to work for you once news gets out? You’re super concerned about your rep, but you know damn well that I have the power to destroy it right here and right now.
“If you give Lacus another chance, we can forget this ever happened. If not… I’ll never touch you again.”
Tolle’s eyes widened. “You mean… no more blindfold?”
Miriallia smirked. She had him cornered now. “That’s right. No more, nothing, never again. So? What do you say?”
Tolle looked from Miriallia to Lacus, then back. He was silent for a long while, tossing up his options. He swallowed. Finally, he sighed. “Like you said, I don’t have a choice.”
“So you’ll give her a job?”
“I’ll give her a chance. I’m not promising any more than that. If she screws up again, that’s it. I’m under no obligation to her, you know?”
“Maybe not, but you do owe me, don’t you? Unless you want your sex life to hit a standstill?”
Tolle opened his mouth to retort, but nothing came. He silently turned. “One more chance,” he stated. “That’s it.” With that, he walked away.
Smirking to herself, Miriallia turned to Lacus, helping the pinkette up. “See? No problem I told you I’d get you another chance.”
Lacus nodded. “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it. He didn’t hurt you too badly, right?”
“Good. Now, what do you say we get out of here?” Lacus nodded, but soon looked away. After a moment of silence, a blush began to tint her cheeks.
“Um, Mir?” she asked.
“What is it?” The brunette replied, smiling at the nickname.
“It’s just… you made that look so easy.”
“With Tolle. He was… you know, eating out of the palm of your hand, as people say.”
“Oh, that. That was nothing.”
“How did you do it?” Miriallia smirked.
“Guys are like putty. You just have to mould them right and they’ll be and do whatever you want them to. Guys like Tolle, especially.” Lacus looked at her questioningly. “Maybe I’ll teach you someday, but forget about that. For now, let’s get you home.” With a smile, the pinkette nodded her head, and followed her new friend out to the parking lot.