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the sex, the drugs, and the complications

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She's a black-and-silver flame in the neon wonderland.

He owns a good dozen clubs, but Delphi is, of course, his favorite. It's where he'd found her - tiny thing, all of seventeen, big dark eyes with too much knowledge in them. Called herself "Cassandra", though it's no more her name than "Phoebus" is his own. Sipping a glass of Scottish mead, he'd cast his eye over the perky little goth girls and the pierced metal boys, and he'd found her.

Cass isn't the prettiest he's ever had, nor the thinnest, but she's by far the smartest. He'd invited her up to the lounge, and before even walking through the door, she'd pre-dialed 911 and told him if he tried anything, she'd be calling the police first and her lawyer second.

(The daughter of Rex and Helen Priam? Of course she's got the best counsel in the country at her command.)

She blinds him, and he can't understand why. He could have - as has had - actresses, dancers, artists, socialites. Women twice her age and ten times as beautiful. And yet it's tiny little Cass Priam who enchants him. Seduces him. Lights up like a shooting star when he makes her laugh.

Bet your ass he's done his homework about her, though, and while her brothers are the spotlight-hogs, she's the one he can't get out of his mind. He's drawn to her every night she shows up at Delphi, drinks scotch or gin or wine while she touches nothing. Her drug problem is well-publicized; rehab at fifteen, clean ever since, a speaker for straight-edge teenagers.

She's something pure; he should have known he'd taint her. While the rest of the mindless droves pop, smoke, and snort their way to ecstasy, when Cass loses herself, it's to nothing but the music.

He can't remember wanting like this in years. Can't remember spending hours on the dance floor, hips tucked into the cradle of hers. His hands run up her thighs, steal touches of softest silk and skin, turn from teasing and slow to hard and possessive at her hips. Falls into the rhythm of her rocking, round, lush arse pressed against his cock. Dares to press the lightest of kisses to her face, her neck, and once, to the sweat-beaded tops of her breasts, her dark chestnut hair streaming down to her shoulders.

What he wants, more than life itself, is to have her, but she will never give him that. He'll try everything, and only at the end will he realize that it never could have ended any other way. They are not meant for the great, all-consuming love; the only consumption for them will be despair. Ashes of what might have been.

Because while her will is strong, her sense is weak. She has guarded her body jealously, but she has forgotten to guard her mind. He invites her to a room, drugs being passed around, and in a show of faith, drinks the very same water she does and eschews all offers of intoxication. Cass lets herself be lulled by the conversation and his fingers stroking aimless patterns on her legs, and it's then that he has her. It's so easy to press the cigarette into her hand, easy to coax her into taking a small puff and shotgunning the rest into his mouth.

Small white stick, held between silver-painted nails, brought to a red-slicked mouth.

Grey mescaline-laced smoke inhaled, then exhaled in a bitter rush against his lips.

One puff. Two. Ten.

The peyote works fast, and they're lying on the couch, seeing the truth bleed through the walls. Strobing lights of purple and white - royalty, truth, purity, yes, Cass and he are certainly that combination - deep bass rumble of Nick Cave over the sound system. A devil waiting outside the door, yes, quite appropriate. Cass wriggles to lie atop him, whispers of Wednesday being yellow, but to beware a black Thursday. Tells him his numbers are too red, they need to be green or brown and they're bleeding.

He leaves her sleeping off the high, and goes to Pythia. Something is going to happen next Thursday, something to do with the night deposits. Someone will try to cheat him, and now that he's forearmed, he can stop it.

(There will be a fight, there will be blood, but he'll find his manager skimming off profits and he'll deal with it. He'll owe the averted loss of millions to Cass Priam.)

She calls him the next morning, sobbing and damning him for getting her addicted again. Her tears break his heart, a little, but he needs her. No one but Cass sees true futures, and as far as he's concerned, he owns her.

Despair is mascara-streaked cheeks, a wail of his name, and a girl lying almost broken on a too-expensive couch.

There is great beauty in despair, if you know where to look.