Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Seed
Finally reunited with Miriallia, the pink haired girl made her way down the hallway. Needless to say, it was much easier to navigate this place with a guide to lead the way.
Periwinkle eyes glanced over to the brunette, who seemed to be eyeing her up and down. Their eyes met, and Miriallia’s lip turned up in a brief smile. “I knew you’d look good in that,” she explained to Lacus’ questioning eye.
“Uh… thanks,” the pinkette replied, feeling somewhat embarrassed by the compliment. “So you put this outfit in there for me? It was the only thing in there that didn’t look like a bad Halloween costume.”
“Hey, I take offence to that. Besides, I do have other clothes. You just weren’t looking in the right place, that’s all.”
“So where should I have looked?”
“Doesn’t matter. I intended for you to wear that anyway, so it worked out.”
“Um, there’s something I should probably tell you, but it’s kind of embarrassing.”
“Well, I couldn’t find anything that I was wearing last night, so…”
“Oh, yeah. That was me. Is there a problem though? That costume was torn pretty bad. I already squared it with Tolle.”
“Well, whatever you did, you didn’t leave my underwear…” Lacus trailed off, hoping that Miriallia would pick up on what she was trying to say.
“So what are you wearing now?” Lacus blushed and looked away. “Oh, I think I get it.”
“It was either this, or borrow from you. I’ll replace these clothes, or pay you back for them,” the pinkette hurriedly added.
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, I’ve… tainted them. I can’t give them back now, can I? It’d be unhygienic. I’ll replace them, don’t worry.”
“Well, if you want to keep them… I guess that’s okay.”
“Thanks. And I will repay you… when I get some money.”
“Don’t worry about that. Consider it a gift… to say sorry, for last night.”
“I… okay. Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it,” Mir shrugged. What kind of person would I be if I held you to something so petty? I mean, I can afford it. I’m not so sure if you can say the same.”
Still, Lacus was more grateful than the brunette could ever know. They’d only just met, but Mir had shown Lacus more understanding and kindness than any of her oldest friends…
The pinkette shook the one-sided thought from her head. That wasn’t fair. Without their charity, Lacus probably wouldn’t even be here to complain about their selfishness. In time, Miriallia would probably grow to be just as cold, once Lacus had milked her dry and worn out her hospitality.
The pinkette was determined not to let that happen.
They had made their way to a private room that Lacus assumed to be Tolle’s office. The space was small and barely decorated at all. It was hardly what the pinkette would have expected from the owner of a club, or of any business, to be honest.
“Hey!” the young man snapped, bringing Lacus crashing to reality. “Are you listening?”
“Oh, um, yes. I’m sorry.”
“Whatever. As I was saying, if it were up to me, you’d be out on your ass, but Miri here, apparently sees something in you that I do not. She’s vouched for you, and as you may have noticed, she can be very persuasive.” Lacus looked between the two and noticed they seemed to be sharing a crude smirk.
“I have decided to give you one final chance in a different area.”
“A different job?”
“That’s right. Have you ever been a waitress before?”
“No.” To tell the truth, Lacus didn’t have any experience in any field.
“Well, you should find it easy enough. At least I hope you do. For your sake, you’d better not fuck it up. I’m afraid it’s not as glamorous as dancing up on the stage,” that was a matter of opinion, Lacus thought, “and it won’t pay as well, but I suppose the spotlight isn’t for everyone.” Lacus found herself disagreeing with that sentiment. It wasn’t so much the spotlight that the pinkette had a problem with, as it was the nature of the entertainment she’d been expected to perform. “Admittedly, it was probably my fault for putting you out there untested. Maybe you can work your way back up to the stage if you really want to, but for now, this job is better than no job, right?”
Lacus nodded. Why was Tolle romanticising the stage so much? It didn’t matter, Lacus would never go up there again. This was all she’d wanted in the first place, an honest, normal job. “Thank you so much.”
“Don’t get excited. The job’s not yours yet. And besides, Miriallia deserves your gratitude more than I do. Let’s just see how you do tonight, then we’ll talk, okay?”
Eventually, all those present had made their way out of the room and into an empty corridor. Orga leaned against a large window while Clotho paced back and forth, considering the predicament; not that consideration, or any activities involving the mind for that matter, were his strong suit.
Meanwhile, Shani stood just outside the doorway, his eyes not seeing the scene before him. Stella continued to cling to him like a parrot riding on a sailor’s shoulder in some kind of children’s pirate movie.
“So what’s the plan?” Orga asked, finally breaking the silence.
Shani looked at him. “What do you think? We hit the streets, spread the photo around, and tap whatever resources are at our disposal. We find Pinky, and we use her to get that bastard his money back,” the young man’s eyes narrowed viciously, “by whatever means necessary.”
“I hate to admit it,” Orga considered, “but the blond bastard has a point. We don’t know too much about squeezing money out of a girl.” His eye skimmed over Stella. “Not when it comes to squeezing out every last drop, anyway. When we find her… maybe we should hand her over to—“
“No!” Shani’s eyes widened at the outburst. All eyes turned to the blonde at his side.
“You can’t. Don’t make her… don’t force her to endure what I went through!”
“Is it me,” Orga commented, “or is Stella actually coherent today?”
“Uh-oh,” Clotho teased, “she’s starting to make sense. Guess it’s time to get her another fix.”
Shani narrowed his eyes once more, glaring at the red-head with open hostility and disdain. “I don’t work like that.”
“So what, you mean you haven’t been keeping Stella high?”
“No.” What did they take him for? It had been hard enough to get the blonde off that shit, he wasn’t about to get her hooked again. He had no use for junkies, besides… “I don’t believe in controlling people through substances. She’s here by mutual consent.” It wasn’t as though she needed a chemical addiction to keep her malleable anyway. The girl was naturally submissive. She was loyal and pliable by default.
“And here I thought she was just doped up,” Clotho teased. “So what, you mean she’s just been fucked in the head this whole time? That’s cold, man; taking advantage of a retard like that.”
“She’s not a fuckin’ retard,” Shani spat.
“Hey, why are you so angry? Do you have something against the mentally disabled? There’s nothing wrong with being retarded.”
“Shut up!” Orga ordered. “Both of you. Stop this bullshit and calm down. We need to think about this.”
“Lacus…” Stella continued, ignoring, or more likely not noticing the interruption. Her voice was wispy and dreamlike as always, but there was a certain, vivid sincerity to her words. “She’s never hurt anyone. She hasn’t done anything wrong, right? You can’t put her through… I’d rather die than go through that again. Nobody should have to go through that.”
“I… I may not have a choice,” Shani argued.
“But she hasn’t done anything to anyone! She’s innocent!”
“Were you innocent when it happened to you?” Shani pressed. “Sometimes that doesn’t matter. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. That’s just the way things are. That’s just the luck of the draw.”
“Life’s a horny bitch,” Clotho added, “She just loves to fuck people.”
“Wow, that’s so helpful,” Orga remarked.
“But… it’s not fair!”
“Life isn’t fair. If it’s between you and Pinkie, I’ll sacrifice her.”
“No!” There was something about Stella’s eyes. Shani had never seen this determination before. Why was she so desperate to protect a complete stranger? Why did she care? Couldn’t she see that Shani was doing this for her benefit? To protect her from that hell?
Shani sighed. Stella was too weak, too soft, too kind for this life; but Shani couldn’t refuse her. Besides, that junkie pornographer made him sick. Every move he’d made lately had been an act of war against him. He didn’t exactly like the idea of working with him in the first place, let alone giving him a girl to drag down to his level, especially after having stolen Stella away from him.
There had to be another way. Lacus Clyne was his debtor, one that he’d written off perhaps, but all the same, she owed him. That made her his. Azrael was too short sighted. All he saw was a defaulted loan. All he cared about was money. Fine, if he wanted his money back, Shani would get it for him, anything to get the bastard off his back, but after that, once that debt was paid, whatever use the girl might yet serve, whatever skills she might posses, whatever income she might generate, it would all belong to Shani.
These girls, worthless though they may seem on paper, were so much more than a simple bank balance. They had uses far exceeding Azrael’s pathetically predictable tunnel vision. Miriallia and Stella were evidence of that.
This girl, Lacus Clyne. Shani didn’t know what strengths she might possess, but she must have had potential. Surely she was good for something. She was a potential asset. Her debt meant she already belonged to him, she just didn’t know it, or rather, she’d forgotten. Lacus was already his, he just had to find her. After all, Why should he give up what he could use? What sense did that make?
“Okay,” he finally conceded. “Stella wins. I’ll find a way… I’ll think of something.” His gaze flitted between the others. “If either of you two find her, bring her straight to me. I’ll deal with her myself.”
“Fine with me,” Orga said.
“Whatever,” Clotho conceded reaching into his pocket for his gaming device.
“Then it’s agreed. Whatever happens when we find her, it stays between the three of us.” The others all nodded. Unseen and unnoticed, the lone female gave a sigh of relief and relaxed her hold on Shani.