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Tonight We Ride

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Wednesday nights are supposed to be for relaxation and mentally preparing for the rest of the week. Ema prided herself on crafting the perfect Wednesday evening relaxation regime: she’d order her favorite takeout, and she’d have a glass of wine or two while she watched tv. It was simple, but effective, and it helped her get through the rest of the inevitably exhausting week of dealing with the Glimmerous Fop.

Wednesday nights were definitely not, in Ema’s opinion, the time to be dragged to a loud, crowded bar by said Glimmerous Fop to a metal concert, of all things.

Being invited to said concerts wasn’t an uncommon occurrence: Klavier would ask Ema to come to shows with him all the time, and every time he asked, Ema would politely (or impolitely) tell him no. Usually he’d just shrug and tell her she’s missing out before dropping the subject, but this time he was for some reason very persistent. He kept insisting that Ema would really like the headliner (why he thought that was a mystery) and that she really needed to see the show. Ema finally caved when he said he’d buy her all the drinks she wanted, pay for her ticket, and convince Chief Gumshoe to give her Thursday off with pay.

It’s a damn good deal, she told herself. Plus it might not be terrible. She really hoped it wouldn’t be, at least.

*******

It might have been because of the drinks Klavier was buying for her, but the show wasn’t as bad as Ema expected it to be. It was hot, crowded, and loud, sure, but she found a good spot at one of the few tables in the venue, and the music wasn’t quite as bad as Ema thought it’d be. She expected something like the Gavinners but with screaming, which it sort of was, but it kind of started to grow on her. And it was fun watching all the crazy metalheads scream and run around. Scientifically, of course. Ema was thinking of it like a science experiment, observing this group of people in their natural habitat.

Klavier kept trying to get her to come into the pit with him, but Ema adamantly refused. She’d promised to come to the show, not to participate. She was happy drinking at her little table, close enough to the action to watch, but not enough to get involved. You can’t participate in your own experiment, that would be terrible scientific method.

“Thank you LA!” The vocalist of the current band, a huge man with long blonde hair and a thick beard shouted in the mic after finishing his song. “This is our last song, then get fucking ready for Call of the fucking Crow!”

“That’s the headliner I wanted you to see,” Klavier said from behind her. Ema jumped a little. It was very easy to sneak up on a person in such a loud, distracting place, so Klavier had been sneaking up on her practically all night, but she still didn’t get used to it.

“I still don’t understand why,” Ema shouted back.

“I think you’ll like the vocalist.”

Ema rolled her eyes. “So that’s what this is all about? You wanna set me up with one of your weird metal friends? Whoever he is, I’m not interested.”

Klavier didn’t respond, and when Ema turned around, she saw he was gone. Presumably he went back into the crowd, but Ema didn’t really care to contemplate where he went.

The band finished their final song and left the stage, so based on the last few sets, there was going to be a roughly half hour break before this band the Fop was so excited about was set to perform. The crew took down the banner with the weird symbol on it that apparently represented the previous band, and swapped it with a banner with a simple black silhouette of a bird and “Call of the Crow” in stylized lettering at the top.

The relative quiet was short lived, and the room once again filled with ear splitting music as the drummer, guitarists, and bassist took their places on the smoke-filled stage, and a few seconds later, a sharp wail came from backstage, and the vocalist emerged and took their place at the front of the stage. But rather than another huge, hairy man like the previous bands, a woman with black hair so long it touched her hips, dressed in an all black ensemble of thigh high boots, leather shorts, a fishnet shirt over a simple tank top, and a leather vest to complete the look, emerged from backstage.

The crowd erupted in cheers when she came out, and many of them put their hands in the air with their index and pinkie fingers extended. Klavier told her that the gesture was called “the horns” but Ema was only half paying attention to what it meant. It seemed to be sort of equivalent to clapping. The singer returned the gesture as she did a complete 180 and started actually singing rather than shrieking.

And she was good.

Ema didn’t have a particularly good ear for musical quality, but even she could tell this woman was an incredibly talented vocalist. And not only did she have a good voice, her stage presence was phenomenal. She did a lot of the same moves as the previous singers, like the violent hair flips, standing on the amplifiers, and pointing at the audience, but she threw in some of her own moves as well. She’d jump around on the stage, drop to her knees and shriek without missing a beat, and crouched down at the edge of the stage and stared very intently at one of the audience members as she sang. It all looked so effortless, and she looked gorgeous doing it.

A couple songs later, Ema found herself abandoning the safety of her little table and venturing into the rambunctious crowd. She stayed out of the mosh pit in the center, where Klavier and several other people were shoving each other around in what was supposedly a form of dancing. Even from an objective observer’s perspective, Ema couldn’t really find a logical reason anyone would find such a thing fun.

“How are you doing, Los Angeles!” The singer shouted into the mic. The crowd cheered and gave her the horn gesture again in response. “We’re so fucking excited to be finishing off our tour right back home in LA, you guys are such a great crowd.” More cheers from the crowd. “Way better than San Francisco. Those guys can’t mosh worth shit!” A smattering of laughs and cheers came from the crowd. “Don’t tell them I said that.” She paused another moment to let the crowd cheer and clap as they pleased.

“We’re gonna do a bit of a throwback now, to our very first album, and I wanna see you guys go fucking crazy. Just fucking wild. I wanna see a mother fucking circle pit because this,” she paused and pointed at the crowd, “is a goddamn war song. Get ready for The Fall of the Empire!”

The rest of the set was all kind of a blur. Ema found herself drawn closer and closer to the stage by the vocalist’s magnetic presence. She had to shove away a bunch of sweaty metalheads thrashing about so she could get to the front, but once she got close enough to the stage to clearly see the woman who had captivated her attention.

Up close, she looked even more familiar. Her bright green eyes in particular gave Ema a strong sense of deja vu, but she couldn’t really place where she’d seen her before. Maybe they met a long time ago, or maybe Ema was imagining things.

Whether or not Ema knew her wasn’t really the important thing here, was it?
*******

“Alright, I came to the concert with you. Can we go now? You’re my ride,” Ema demanded after the show. Klavier grinned and shook his head.

“Nein, not yet, Fraulein. There is someone you should meet first. And don’t act like you didn’t enjoy yourself. I saw you in the pit. You are quite a natural headbanger, Fraulein Detective,” Klavier laughed. He started walking toward the merch tables in the back of the room. Ema huffed and ran after him.

“Who could I possibly need to meet that I haven’t met already? You already introduced me to all your weird metal friends that I didn’t know you had,” Ema scoffed. Unless it’s that vocalist. I’d like to meet her.

“You are not my only friend, Fraulein, and you haven’t met the most important friend either.”

Ema didn’t get a chance to respond before the gorgeous frontwoman from the last band appeared out of nowhere and practically tackled Klavier.

“You came!” she exclaimed. Ema wasn’t surprised Klavier knew her, given how she waved at him during her performance, but she was surprised Klavier seemed to be so close with her. Klavier typically kept people at an arm’s length, especially after his brother was arrested and his band broke up.

Hmph, she’s probably just one of his groupies or something, Ema thought. The thought disappointed her a little, even though logically she knew she probably had no chance whatsoever with the pretty vocalist who still looked really familiar for some reason Ema couldn’t place.

“Of course, Fraulein. I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Klavier said. The woman released him from her hug, but he kept his arm over her shoulders. Ema resisted the urge to roll her eyes at their interaction. “Your first tour as a headliner is big.” He leaned back a little and scanned her body up and down. “Nice outfit, Fraulein. I may have to steal it for my first solo tour.”

She laughed and shook her head. It was a very pleasant laugh, much softer than Ema would have expected given her choice of career. “You couldn’t pull it off if you wanted to. But thanks! I wanted to wear a bandeau instead of a tank top, but turns out if I headbang in just a bandeau my tits fall out.”

I kinda wanna see that, Ema thought.

“It still doesn’t seem real,” she said. Her voice was a little raspy, presumably from singing/screaming for an hour and a half straight. “I was a huge nervous wreck yesterday. Sebastian probably wanted to strangle me. But it’s the last show, it’s gotta be perfect.” She glanced over at Ema, whose cheeks almost immediately started to heat up. She really was beautiful, even if she was a rude groupie of the fop. “Oh shit! I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were talking to someone.”

“Ach, my apologies, Fraulein. This is my Fraulein Detective,” Klavier said, gesturing toward Ema.

“Ah, so you’re his partner!” the woman exclaimed, reaching her hand out. “I’ve heard so much about you. Except your name.”

“E-Ema,” Ema said. She accepted her handshake.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Kay!” she said.

Ema widened her eyes. Kay… It couldn’t possibly be her, Ema hadn’t seen Kay Faraday in almost a decade. But the woman did look really familiar, and if it was the Kay she knew, that would mean she wasn’t one of Klavier’s groupies.

She tried to banish those thoughts.

“So, uh, how do you know the fop?” Ema asked.

“Fop?” Kay asked. She glanced over at Klavier, who gestured toward himself. “Oh! Klav. I guess we met through Seb? Or was it Mr. Edgeworth?”

“You know Mr. Edgeworth?” Ema asked. Kay grinned and nodded. .

“Yeah! When I was in high school I was his assistant for a while. I haven’t seen him in a while though. I wonder how he’s doing,” she said.

“No fucking way!” Ema shouted. Kay looked startled, and Klavier burst out laughing. Ema narrowed her eyes at him. “You knew, didn’t you?”

“Knew what, Fraulein Skye? That you and Fraulein Faraday are long lost friends? That you both had huge crushes on each other in high school? Ja, I knew. Herr Debeste is quite the chatterbox, you know,” he said with a devious grin. “When I found out Fraulein Faraday was performing tonight, I knew I had to play matchmaker of sorts.” He took his arm off of the wide-eyed Kay. “I will leave you two to get to know each other again. Auf weidersen, frauleins!” he said before walking away.

Ema stared at him for a second, then turned back to Kay. “So I guess I just lost my ride,” she said.

“Well, in that case, I’m starving, so wanna come get something to eat?”

Ema shrugged. “Sure, I’ve got nothing better to do.”

Kay grinned. “Great, but you should come with me to my bus first. I need to change out of this stinky costume.”

She turned around and beckoned for Ema to follow. “Do you have to be anywhere tomorrow?” Kay asked.

Ema paused for a moment, then shook her head. “No, the fop gave me the day off.”

“Good, we have a lot of catching up to do, don’t we?”