Ashleigh has never felt particularly presidential, but she likes to think she's grown into the role. Kind of like she's growing into this one.
"Pledge-- I mean, slave boy! Bring me another one of those drinks, the pomegranate-mint thingies," she calls regally from her throne/reclining couch. Apparently Rusty and Grant designed it together; she's not really sure how that partnership works, but the couch combines Rusty's engineering genius with Grant's love of suede and gold trim into a perfectly comfortable, yet authoritative piece of furniture.
Seriously, she is so drunk.
That doesn't stop her from accepting the goblet of lovely pink alcoholic stuff from the loin-clothed-pledge-slave-boy, though. To be honest, she can't think why she ever doubted the awesomeness of the Harem Party... oh wait, yes, she does: the Kappa Taus thought it up.
"It's the end of our reign," Cappie had proclaimed during one of their late night study sessions right before mid-terms; they were all thinking longingly of parties and warm summer nights. "The last gasp of an empire."
"I hope you're not taking this to the Star Wars place," Casey commented without looking up from her textbook.
"Of course not! Anyway, we did that sophomore year."
"One last, glorious Bacchanalia," Ashleigh had surprised herself by saying -- and the others too. Rusty looked impressed. "What? I know SAT words."
"Ashleigh," Cappie said reverently, "We will make you our Queen."
It's pure opulence, a swirl of bodies and colors and fabrics, of lush tastes and smell: spice and sweat and something smoky-sweet, which seems to be coming from the corner where people are clustered around a thing with something like six long, green tubes coming out of it -- yeah, that's a hookah, isn't it. Ashleigh totally thought it was just a prop. Oh, well, last party of the year!
"Desert Rose" is playing, which is, well, corny, but then the whole thing's pretty corny.
Besides all the shirtless boys in harem pants -- that had been one of Ashleigh's stipulations, that the fraternities provide equal and equivalent eye candy -- there are of course, a whole slew of scantily-clad girls in sequined belly-dancing outfits. Though... wow, Betsy seems to be wearing her showgirl costume from a year ago, oo-kay. And there's a couple people who don't seem to be wearing anything at all...
She's just thinking that it's time to slow down on the pomegranate juice when Rusty shows up and hands her something bright blue.
"So, Ash, found a concubine yet?" Rusty shouts over the music. He went with the toga look and Ashleigh is privately thankful.
"Nah, so far they're all eunuchs!" She replies loudly-- just as the noise level dies down, of course. Some of the slave boys give her dirty looks. "Oops."
Time for a bathroom break.
Upstairs is blessedly quiet and free of people, so she takes the time to apply fresh lipliner. Her neck is starting to get sore: heavy is the head that wears the ten pounds of metal headdress thing.
There's a flash of black in her peripheral vision and then someone is pushing her up against the sinks, hands on her shoulders and gentle pressure against her lips. She doesn't kiss back, and then she does, and the person makes a soft, surprised noise-- almost a hum. Ashleigh opens her eyes and sees nothing, then something blurry and close -- brown eyes, open.
They pull back and Ashleigh laughs out loud because--
"You're a ninja?"
And then he's gone.
The Gladiator Match is bloody, but fortunately short-lived. Ashleigh declines to have her sedan chair carried out but she does have to lean a bit on her scepter. Outside on the lawn, the fresh air clears her head as she gazes over the heads assembled around the ring. Even the Gamma Psis are looking up at her with proper respect tonight.
Casey joins her on the Royal Pavilion, and Ashleigh is momentarily dazzled when she throws off her long, dark robes -- not graduation robes, but close enough -- to reveal something very tight and bright pink with a hint of gold at her belly button. The turban stays.
"Oooh, daring choice, Case!"
"Yeah, I thought I'd go with anachronistically stylish. What can I say, I'm ahead of my time."
Down in the ring, the combatants have stripped to underwear; one of them has on Snoopy boxers.
"I want a clean fight, gentlemen," Calvin says to Beaver and the redheaded Omega Chi he outweighs by at least 50 pounds. "No punching, no hair-pulling" (with a pointed look at Beaver) "and no exchange of bodily fluids." The redhead scoffs.
"Just good old manly, half-naked wrestling for the ladies," Calvin winks. "And a few lucky gents."
The crowd cheers wildly. Ashleigh yells, "Go Carrot-Top!" and waves a be-bangled arm.
"So, are Cappie and Evan going to fight?" Ashleigh asks a few moments later, already bored by the pile of flailing limbs.
"Nah," Casey grins contentedly. "Private showing only."
It's 2 a.m. by the time the youngsters slouch boozily off to the next party on Greek Row. Their little group retires to the kitchen to break out the Oreos and Gatorade (Ashleigh's hangover prevention plan because dang it, she has to walk across a stage tomorrow and she is not going to do it feeling or looking like shit.)
"I can't believe we let you trash our house," Ashleigh says morosely, trying hard not to think about the state of the living room. "Slave boys are nice and all, but who's going to clean up the beer cups and squashed grapes in the morning?"
"Ashleigh, what do you think I am?" Cappie gives her a wounded look.
"A Kappa Tau?"
He reels dramatically, hand against forehead, right into Evan, who's rifling through the half-empty fridge.
"Oh, right, like you would have thought to organize a cleaning crew without us Omega Chis riding your ass," Evan snarks, pushing Cappie away.
"But you're so good at it, Evan," Cappie says, fluttering his eyelashes at him.
"You guys, I can't believe we're graduating!" says Casey for what must be the millionth time.
"Yeah, well, at least you know you're doing next, Case," Ashleigh says, slumping over the table. "And who you're doing it with."
"Dirty," Cappie inserts.
"Aww, but Ash, you're going to do awesome things!"
"I know, I know. I've got my marketing internship." And she is psyched about that. But. It won't be CRU.
"In Los Angeles, right?" Evan asks.
She was so excited when she got the job. It's for a teen magazine, exactly the kind of thing she wants to do, but now it seems like the worst possible decision.
"Okay, no more talking about afterwards! This is a party!" Casey pokes her in the arm. "Party!"
There's a short silence and Ashleigh starts to feel sleepy but then something makes her look up. There's conspiracy in the air.
"Hey! What are you planning?"
TO BE CONTINUED