"So I don't get to know any of the plan?" Gothic asked as he closed his suitcase. "That doesn't make any sense..."
Spice shook her head. "Yes, it does. If you don't know the plan, you can't screw it up. And you won't have to lie to Cola again, because you honestly won't know what's going on." She smiled at Gothic.
Well...I guess that makes some sense..." He ran a hand through his hair distractedly. "But maybe just a hint?"
Spice sighed. "All right, all right," She leaned in close to him. "Blondie and I are going to do everything in our power to bring you and Cola closer together while you're in New York. So whatever happens -- you know nothing and you just go with the flow -- got it?" He nodded. "Cola already likes you. We just have to remind him of why..."
Raven knocked on Cola's door, frowning when it slowly swung open on its own accord. "Cola?" she called out.
"I'm in here!" came the muffled reply.
Raven looked around, frowning. "Where's here?"
"Hang on, I'll be right there..." He came from the back room, a beer in his hand. "What's the what?"
Raven walked into the living room. "Is Gothic here? I lent him some of Horizon's stuff to wear home the other day, and she's coming back this weekend, 'cause we got back together --"
"Again?" Cola asked, incredulously.
"Yeah, yeah, again," Raven answered, blushing slightly. "Anyway, I thought I should probably get her stuff back before she arrives..."
Cola frowned. "What exactly did he borrow?"
"Well...you know those shirts with the fake body printed on them? Like sometimes it'll be a lady in a bikini or muscles or something like that?" Cola nodded and smirked. "Well, it was one of those...Horizon wears it when she dyes her hair. Incredibly tacky, but, hey, he was naked, it was an improvement..."
"I wish I could've seen that..." Cola said, smiling. His expression changed and he sighed. "But he's not here...we broke up..."
"Oh that's too bad..." Raven said. "I knew you guys had a fight, but I hoped..." she trailed off and shrugged.
"Not everyone is as fond of their ex as you are..."
"Hey, be nice!"
Cola chuckled. "Sorry." He reached over for his notepad. "I can give you his phone number, though." He scribbled on it, then ripped out the page and handed it to Raven. "There you go..."
"Thanks." She looked around the apartment, glancing up at the suitcases lined up on the couch. "So, you going somewhere?" Her eyes widened. "You're not moving, are you?"
"No, no..." he said. "I'm going to New York tomorrow..." His voice grew sour. "With Gothic."
"Arrangements were made..." He sighed. "Before."
"Ohhh...say no more." She pocketed the slip of paper. "Have fun in New York, Cola. And take it from someone who knows," she said with a gentle smile, "Exes can be lots of fun."
Cola shook his head, smiling slightly. "Maybe...tell yours to treat you better this time, okay?"
"So you've got the money, right?"
Misty lowered her sunglasses and gave Rum a cool glare over them. "Of course," she said sharply. "Why are you so nervous? You do this all the time."
Rum sighed. "Yeah, but I'm not usually trying to frame my twin for drug possession..."
Misty rolled her eyes. "Don't worry about it. As far as anyone knows, you're just buying your weekly fix. The rest -- I'll take care of it." She slipped her glasses back on. "Now. Calm down, open the door, and walk up the stairs with me."
Camel opened the door, waving them in with a cigarette. "Rum, my man!" He blew smoke up to the ceiling. "And it's my man's woman, Misty. How're you two doing today?"
Misty brushed past him with a roll of her eyes. "I see you're charming as usual, Camel..."
"Hey, I do my part to keep the world cheerful." He closed the door behind Rum. "So what's going on? I thought you tried to stay out of the seamier side of Rum's life..."
Rum coughed. "Oh, well, um, y'know..."
"He ran into a telephone pole a few days ago. Smashed up the front of his car. I'm driving him around until it's fixed."
"Smooth, my man, smooth..." Camel finished the cigarette and stubbed it out in a nearby overflowing ashtray. "Give me a second, and I'll take care of you right." He ambled off towards the bedroom. "Have a seat..."
After he walked away, Misty turned and glared at Rum. "What's wrong with you?" she hissed. "I knew you were an idiot, but really...!"
"Oh fuck you, Misty." Rum sat down on the ash-covered couch with a huff. "You're no prize either..."
Misty sighed and shook her head. "You know what's really sad?" she said tiredly. "You're still the best person for me to be with in Rosewood. I need you to get out of this fucking backwater town...Jesus..."
Both of them sat in silence for a moment, starting when the front door opened. Auburn walked in, looking haggard. She stared at them blankly for a moment before dropping down on the couch next to Rum.
"Hey..." she mumbled, taking off her shoes.
Misty gave her a quick once-over, frowning. "You cut your hair? You know we're not supposed to cut our hair without agency approval..."
"The agency dropped me..." Auburn mumbled softly.
"Oh, I'm sorry..." Misty gave Rum a smirk. "I can't imagine why..." She looked at Auburn's hair again. "So...did you cut it yourself?"
"No, no, Grenadine..." She started to fumble around in her jacket pockets, finally pulling out a small plastic bag. "Is Camel..." She stopped. "Are you guys...?" She paused again, then giggled nervously. "You know what I'm saying, right?"
Rum nodded. "Yeah, yeah, we're taken care of."
"Good..." Auburn rubbed her eyes tiredly, then picked up a razorblade from the table. "Do you...do you mind?"
They both shook their heads.
"Good..." She smiled and began pouring out the powder on a small mirror.
"It must be nice being the dealer's girlfriend..." Misty drawled.
Auburn shrugged, concentrating on carefully chopping the powder even finer.
Misty leaned over and whispered to Rum. "She looks like shit..."
Rum opened his mouth to respond, then closed it when Camel walked back into the room. "Oh, hey, baby," he said, sitting down on the couch and wrapping an arm around Auburn. "When did you get back?" He reached up and stroked her hair. "You cut your hair?" At her nod, he smiled. "I like it."
Misty cleared her throat.
"Oh, right, yes, business." He looked at Rum. "You want your weekly special, right?" At Rum's nod, Camel lit another cigarette and handed over a small plastic bag. "You know, my friends," he said with a smile, "I really feel like going out tonight. You guys up for dancing? We could leave now, make a whole night of it...dinner...clubbing... What do you say, baby, you up for it?" There was no answer. "Auburn?" He looked over at her.
"I...I'm feeling a little tired..." She stumbled to her feet. "I think..."
"Baby, are you okay?" Camel asked. "You look a little..."
"You look like shit, Auburn," Misty cut in. "Maybe you should lie down or something..."
Auburn nodded shakily. "Yeah, I..." She took a deep breath. "I really don't feel well at all..." Her eyes rolled back in her head and she toppled to the floor.
"Fuck!" Rum jumped out of his chair and began backing away. "Did she OD?"
Misty pulled out her cellphone. "I'm calling 911."
"No! No! An ambulance...it can't come here!" Camel looked up from Auburn. "There's too much stuff out."
"We have to do something..." She sighed. "If the ambulance can't come here..." She paused. "Do you have anything here? Like in that movie?"
"What the fuck?" Camel yelled. "This is real life, not some fucking movie!" He slapped Auburn's cheek gently. "Baby, c'mon, wake up....baby..."
Misty kneeled down and felt at Auburn's wrist for a moment. "Shit. I can't find a pulse!"
"Shit...shit...baby, please...WAKE UP!"
"Fuck!" Rum ran his hands through his hair, pacing around the room. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!"
"Rum!" Misty shouted. "Pull yourself together!" When he stopped, she continued. "Go start the car. Camel, you're going to have to carry...Camel!" Camel looked up at her wide-eyed, and she softened her voice a little. "Look, I don't like you, but I'm going to help you, okay? So do what I say." He nodded, and she continued. "Pick Auburn up and take her out to the car. We'll drive you to the hospital, all right?"
He nodded again, leaning down to pick up Auburn's limp body. Misty tucked her cellphone back in, grabbed Rum's wallet off of the table, then directed the two men outside. Shaking her head, she hit the light switch as she walked out. "Jesus Christ..."
Red stood at the bar, clenching the edge tightly.
"You okay, boss?" Blondie said as he came up behind her and started to knead the tension out of her shoulders. "You're looking like you're about to explode..."
Red ducked out from under his hands with a shake of her head. "No, no, I'm fine," she said sharply. "You should be working."
He grabbed two mixed drinks. "I am working. I'm just so talented I can do both at once." He turned his back on her for a minute, setting the drinks in front of two customers and collecting their money. As he made his way to the cash register, he glanced over at Red. "C'mon, Red, remember...I'm the camp gay brother you never had. Tell me what's wrong..." He paused. "God knows I'm already solving other people's problems...what's one more?"
She smiled ruefully. "I...Blondie, I'm going to tell you something I've only told a few people, okay?"
Blondie raised his eyebrows. "Okay...I won't tell anyone else..." He gave the customers their change and filled two more orders before he turned back to her. "So...c'mon. Spill."
"When I was younger, I was in a relationship that was..." She sighed. "Well, it was bad. Really bad. I was young, and just coming out, and in a really vulnerable state, and...well...she hit me. A lot." She paused for a second and looked up at Blondie. "I wouldn't have been able to get out of it if it wasn't for Blackie..."
Blondie stared at Red in surprise. "So that's why she threw you for such a loop..."
"Yeah..." She took a deep breath. "Blackie ended up...going to jail, and I just tried to forget everything...but when she came back, I wanted things to work out so much, and they really were, but the other night..."
"She didn't hit you, did she? 'Cause if she did, I'll..." Blondie stopped, and frowned. "I'll hire someone else to beat her up."
"No, no, she didn't hit me...she just..." She sighed. "She was just so angry and I thought..."
"Hey, Red?" Blondie said. "I really don't mean to interrupt, but, well, she's coming over here right now." Blondie pointed over to the door, where Blackie was standing, looking around. She caught Red's eye and made her way to the bar.
Blondie looked at Red, and she waved him away.
"Hey --" Blackie started.
"Hey," Red said. "Look, I've been thinking about it --"
"I messed up," Blackie interrupted. "I should just leave."
"No!" Red shook her head. "No, no, I overreacted. I was just talking about it with Blondie and I realized...you're not her." Red paused, and smiled. "I don't have to be afraid with you."
Blackie looked down at her hands and sighed. "I...I don't know, Red. I'm just..." She paused, trying to find the words. "I've been thinking too...and I'm...I'm not a good person, Red. I've never been."
"Stop that..." Red put her hand on Blackie's. "Look, I never said it'd be easy..." She took a deep breath. "But if you really feel this way, maybe we should take a break...have some space..."
"Jesus, Red..." Blackie sighed. "You know I never signed on for all this emotional stuff. If you wanna take a break, I'm up for it, but this ain't the end, is it?"
Red shook her head quickly.
Blackie sighed with relief. "All right..." She paused for a second. "I came by 'cause Crystal wanted to apply for that job...True said you were at the bar, so..."
"Crystal's here?" Red asked, blinking.
"In the flesh," another voice said. Crystal sat down at the bar, taking off her leather jacket and draping it along the back of her stool. "Long time no see, Red."
"You cut your hair," Red said.
"And I got nine years older...these things happen." She grinned. "I heard you were lookin' for some temp help?"
Red nodded. "Yeah, just someone to fill in while Dark's gone. I've already made him postpone the trip once, and I can't make him do it a second time...but I'd like someone who might be able to stay on permanently..."
"I'm your girl then. Got someone runnin' the bar back in Vegas for me -- too much responsibility. I'm really lookin' for a place where I can work a few shifts per week...that sort of thing."
"Oh...well then...you're hired."
"Are you Camel?"
Camel looked up from his cold cup of coffee, shifting his weight on the hospital chair. "Yeah, uh, that's me. How is she?"
The doctor lowered her clipboard with a sigh. "We attempted to revive her, but there was no response. It appears she died instantly -- gone before you got here."
"She's dead?" Camel jumped to his feet, stricken. "But she's had...why would she just die?"
"Sir, please..." she said coolly. "If you would just control yourself." When he sat down again, she continued. "Were you aware that Auburn had a heart defect?" He shook his head. "One of the muscles which cause the heart to contract was weak. Combined with the large amount of drugs it appears she took, I'm not surprised... Her heart failed." She gave him a penetrating stare. "Did you know she had a drug problem?"
"I..." He swallowed hard. "No, of course not..."
"Of course not," she echoed sarcastically. "Look, are you in contact with her family? Do you know how to reach them, at least?"
"No," he said, shaking his head. "I...she wasn't really close to them...um...maybe the agency does..."
"She was a model...Miss...Miss Ember might have information..."
"Okay, do you have their number?" He took out his wallet and fished out one of their business cards. "Good."
"So...is there anything I need to do right now or something?"
The doctor shook her head. "We can't release the body to you without permission of the next of kin, so unfortunately, I can't think of anything...does the hospital have your number?"
Camel nodded distractedly. "So I can go?"
"If you want," the doctor said sharply.
"Thanks..." Camel stood up, running a hand over his eyes. "Are you sure she's gone?"
The doctor pursed her lips. "Very sure."
Camel laughed a bit hysterically. "Of course...I don't know what..." He trailed off. "Bye." He turned and headed for the exit.