Kids Like Us
"This place is so eighties." Olivia grinned. Abbie rolled her eyes.
"Livs, you're 22. How do you even know what the eighties looked like?"
"I did a Lifetime Network movie once. Some girl killed in the eighties." Abbie grinned.
"So this club is a decent approximation of some producers interpretation of the eighties." Olivia picked up a cocktail that glared a dangerous red in the neon lights and offered her glass to Abbie in a toast.
"Welcome to Hollywood, baby." She grinned, and then tossed a look over Abbie's shoulder, to the bartender.
"Another one for the birthday girl!" She demanded. Abbie groaned.
"Nobody said anything about a birthday." He grinned, and poured her another drink. "On the house." He said, winking.
Abbie turned to Olivia. “Where’s your significant whatever?” She teased. Olivia shrugged.
“Looking for me?” Nick leaned in close, and pinched Abbie hard on the butt. Abbie squealed and shoved him away. Anyone else, and she probably would have given him a good, hard heal of the palm to his jaw, or spun around fast enough to kick him in the crotch. But Nick had always been tactile and a bit clingy, as evidenced by the way he wrapped one arm around Olivia’s waist as she sat, and sloppily kissed her on the neck. Abbie laughed, Olivia squealed and pushed him away. As Nick moved to sit, some guy bumped his elbow and he cried out in surprise as the drink he was holding poured down Olivia’s back. She cursed sharply, and Abbie watched her eyes soften at his look of contrition.
“God, babe, I’m so sorry. I’m -” Olivia slid off the bar stool and grabbing Abbie’s hand.
“You,” She snapped, turning to Nick, “Are going to get me a new drink. And you” she turned threateningly to Abbie, who slide into her role perfectly, “Are going to help me to clean this mess up.” She dragged Abbie toward the bathroom.
The bathrooms at Olivia’s favourite club were ultra-modern, bathed in blue lights. Olivia looked around surreptitiously, and ducked into a stall.
“What am I doing here?” Abbie asked, eyes on the door. There was a clattering noise, and suddenly, Olivia called out
“Catch!” and a layer of pink silk bound together with embroidery and crystal came sailing over the top of the stall. “Stick it in the sink!” Came Olivia’s voice in a sing-song. Abbie held up the alcohol soaked disaster. She privately thought there was no help of saving the thing, but she knew enough about clothes to know she didn’t know nearly as much as Olivia, so she did as she was told. Olivia came out half a second later, in a turquoise tank top and matching sheer blouse, which looked as good or better than the pink sparkly thing.
“Do you always have extra clothes for alcohol-related mishaps?” Olivia pursed her lips and then looked curiously at Abbie, as if the girl were a new species of animal she didn’t want to startle. She smiled a bit patronizingly, before holding out a hand.
“Oh honey.” She said. "Do you ever listen to your mother?" Abbie smiled weakly.
Olivia Jasper had no family connections. At seven, she’d been dimpled and pretty, a golden-headed angle opposite Abbie’s “spunky tomboy” characters. Which, when they had been children, meant that Abbie had her pick of the best parts. But Liv had stuck it out. She wanted to be an actress. She wanted to be a symbol, the way Abbie’s mother had wanted it when she was that age. She was also more beautiful than Abbie could hope to be. Olivia had the soft blonde curls of many Hollywood starlets, but it didn’t come from a bottle. She had porcelain skin, a healthy pink glow, and deep blue eyes. She’d worked her way up from being a child star to breaking free of stereotypes in some raunchy teen sex romp, and had since made connections in all the right places. Olivia was more comfortable with the lifestyle of the young and famous than Nick, but Nick had that dark independent streak that made him a heartthrob by the time he was 18, even when he hadn’t wanted to be. Or said he hadn’t wanted to be, anyway. Olivia often pouted that he actually seemed to really like the attention, but she wasn’t jealous. Flirting and sometimes making a scene was all part of the life. Like everything else, it wasn't something Abbie missed. She mostly let Olivia get on with it which meant watching her change, wrap the pink shirt into a plastic bag she carried in her purse, and waited til Abbie raised an eyebrow at her before she realized how genuinely strange all this looked. Olivia sighed.
“Don’t look at me like that, Abbie.”
"It’s not like- He drinks a little, doesn’t mean he’s relapsed, right?” Abbie bit a corner of her lip. Alcohol had never been Nick's poison of choice, but there was such a thing as dancing on a fine line, and in this case it was dancing under strobe lights to bad eighties music. Olivia took Abbie’s wrist in her hand, tugging her forward and looking urgently into her eyes. “He’s not, okay? I’m sure of it. I’d tell you if he was, okay?” Abbie wasn’t sure that was true, but she let it go. She remembered the late-night phone calls between the two of them, but then, Olivia had never been clear on whether she herself was involved in any of it, and Abbie didn’t miss how Liv’s own eyes would get a bit wild, or how thin and bony her wrists sometimes got. She studied Olivia’s face, and then sighed.
“Okay.” She said. “Yeah, I believe you.” Olivia beamed and led her out by the wrist.
“Come on.” She cried, as the club began pumping Lady Gaga’s latest. “Dance with me!” Abbie grinned. Olivia was a dancer. Abbie was mostly good at flailing limbs and making a scene.
“You’re just in it for the attention, aren’t you?”
Abbie wasn’t a fan of crowds or celebrities or the whole scene, but she did love the feeling of being lost in the crowd. It was one of the things she loved about London. She was probably one of three people who had never complained about the underground. She revelled in the crush of strangers who never looked at her twice. Clubs were like that, especially with Olivia. If people could look at a statuesque blonde, what use could they possibly have for a short ginger-haired friend? She was practically invisible, even as she danced. Some guy, big and beefy, grabbed Olivia’s arm.
“Hey hon, it’s super hot watching you and your girlfriend together. Mind if we cut in?” He was grinning, and Olivia made a face and shook him off.
“You wish.” She said, and the guy muttered something that sounded like dyke bitch and then, mercifully, left them alone. By then, Abbie was sweating, and thirsty, though possibly for something not so sticky sweet as the last drink, and she begged off. She sat at the bar, sipping a mudshake and contemplating putting more vodka in the drink, when someone let out a shriek that could be heard over the music. Abbie saw a couple security guards walk over to the girl, offer to call her a cab. She was trembling. Whatever she said, the bouncer signalled to the DJ, who immediately halted the music.
“Everyone just stay calm. We’re going to have you wait right here, and no one goes in the left side mens room.” Abbie stared. Olivia finally stopped dancing, stealing a sip of Abbie’s mudshake.
“What’s going on?”
“Don’t know.” Abbie replied. She watched as somebody led the shaking girl away. Up close she looked a lot younger than she had five minutes ago. Snot, makeup and tears blended together on her face.
“How do you drink this? What’s the point of it?” She asked disdainfully, and then, as if it were a perfectly normal conversation starter, “You know, last time this happened it was a drugs bust. I think the Mob were involved.” Abbie was no longer listening to Olivia. Her eyes were focused on the girl being led away, and she caught the words,
“He was just lying there!” She swallowed, and strained to hear the police officer's response,
"... come in with the drugs?"
“Hey, I’m gonna get a real drink. Do you think they’re still serving?” Olivia was filing a nail. Abbie watched as the panic rippled it's way through the club, her eyes scanning, and not finding him.
"Where's Nick?" She asked. Olivia slid off the stool, and followed Abbie to wear the bouncer was standing. He folded his arms, a distinctive no-way-you’re-getting-past-me look. Abbie sighed.
“Listen we’re looking for our friend, Nick Mason. Tall. Dark hair. Black button down. Do you know if he left?”
“Look, why don’t you just stand back. The police will be in in a minute and you-”
"Is it a drugs bust?” The guy held up one meaty hand and shook his head.
“I’m sorry miss, but I can’t tell you the details of-”
And then he was cut off by the screaming. Olivia was screaming, loudly and horribly, and Abbie couldn’t stop herself from looking.
Nick's body was pale. She could see translucent veins in the harsh lighting, and his eyes were wide open. Olivia was still screaming. Nick didn't flinch. He was already dead.
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