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Blaze looked past Venus' shoulder, avoiding her eyes. "Look, Venus, I'm sorry. We just... There isn't a case."

"Or at least not one you're willing to pursue."

The lawyer paused. "If you want to put it like that. The firm has cases that we need to pursue, and we can't give your case the priority you want us to. I would be more than happy to give you the information we gathered if you want to take it to another attorney..." She gathered some files together and stood up, indicating that it was time for Venus to leave.

Venus looked back at her levelly. "I can't believe that you're just letting that guy go. You know he's dealing drugs, you know he's done things in the past, you know he killed my sister..." Her knuckles were white on the arms of the low chair. "What does it take to get people to pay attention?"

"Listen," Blaze said impatiently, dropping her cool exterior, "I'm not the police, I'm not the district attorney, and hell, this firm usually doesn't even consult for cases like this. I did this as a favor because I felt badly for you." She paused. "I can't believe you. We slave our asses off trying to bust this guy for three weeks and you're treating us like we were the ones who killed her!"

"Fine! I'll go elsewhere!" Venus got to her feet and tucked her purse under her arm. "I hope you can sleep at night," she spat out, before stalking out the door.


"No, actually I can't, because aside from having cases much more important than this, I actually have a life!" Blaze said as she walked up to her door.

Bronze looked up at her, shocked. "Blaze! What if there had been clients in the building?"

"I'm sorry, Bronze." Blaze muttered, grinding her teeth at Venus' retreating figure before turning around and slamming her door.




"So..." Spice looked deep into her glass of beer. "What exactly are we celebrating for? Or is this just to drink?" She had to yell to be heard over the din coming from the main dance room at Strawberry's.

Smiling drunkenly, Gothic raised his glass high, looking over the empty glasses of Cola's and his previous drinks."I'm toasting getting my old hair back. And here's to Cola for letting me only go a month and a half with it, not three.." He drank the rest of his drink in one gulp.

Cola put his hand to his heart and nodded, his expression serious. "It is indeed a great day, for Neiman Marcus will be carrying my clothing line in a selected number of shops from now on!" His lower lip began to tremble halfway through the speech, and he burst into a fit of giggles, setting Blondie and Spice off as well.

Spice grinned at Cola. "That's great! When did you find out?"

"Just today. One of the buyers called and asked me..."

"Isn't he good? He's so good," Gothic said affectionately.

"Oh my god, you're such a dork," Blondie rolled his eyes and tipped back his drink. He stood up and headed back out to the dance floor, stopping only to wave to the other three.

"Ooooh... Blondie just totally dissed us." Spice pulled out her wallet and pointed to Cola's and Gothic's empty glasses. "Anyone else want another drink?" Before anyone could answer, she leaned forward. "Oh, guess what!"

"What?" Cola said blankly. He leaned comfortably against Gothic's shoulder and looked up at Spice..

"No, c'mon, guess."

"I don't want to guess. Just tell me!" He glared angrily at Spice.

"Don't be so damn stubborn."

"You're drunk."

"Well, yes, but... Hey, you were drinking too."

"I'm not all red like you are though." She pointed an angry finger at Cola, then stopped. "Wait. What are we arguing about?"

'You guys always do this when you're drunk..." Gothic started.

"I'm not drunk," Spice yelled loudly. "Or at least not very much. Anyway," she said after a moment, as if nothing had happened. "I went to that new coffee shop with Licorice today, right?"

"Hey, you said you were going to wait and go with me..."

'Well, if someone wasn't too busy having sex with his boyfriend, he might have gone..." Spice said nastily.

Gothic jumped in. "Hey, you guys, you know you're just fighting cause you're both drunk. You always do this."

"No, we don't."

"We do not." Spice gave Gothic an extra stare for good measure. "So there was this really hot guy there. Red hair, green eyes, plays guitar."

Blondie rejoined the group, a fresh drink in his hand. "You sure he wasn't gay? Given your track record..."

"Meanie!" Spice pouted.

"Sorry. Just saw someone I would have preferred not to."

Cola quirked an eyebrow. "Who?"



There was a moment of silence while Gothic and Spice looked confused. Then Spice shrugged and slogged on, determined to share her news. "Ok, so hot guy. I go up to talk to him, we drink coffee. And...I got digits! I'm supposed to call him tomorrow."

"Go, Spice!" Cola mock-clapped. "Now all of the Shimmer sisters are involved."

"Huh?" The redhead peered at him. "Rose doesn't have a boyfriend, does she?"

Cola smirked. "Well, not exactly..."



"Man, I'm glad it's just us closing tonight, Blackie." Crystal pushed her hair off her neck and sighed. " Now, don't get me wrong, I love Blondie."

Blackie nodded in agreement as she finished putting the chairs up on the tables. "He's a good kid."

"Yeah, a kid." Crystal took a long drag on her cigarette and leaned on the register, the cash momentarily forgotten. "God, I don't even remember 24."

"Hey, you keep talking like that, you'll make me feel ancient. I am two years older than you, ya know."

"Sorry." She went back to counting. "Hey, you still got your bike around?"

Blackie gave her a look as she settled down on one of the stools. "Do I still have my bike? What kind of question is that? Of course."

"You wanna go for a ride after we lock up?" She smiled at Blackie as she finished counting the cash and shut the money up in the safe. "Wind in our hair, all those good clichés."

"Sounds good." She stood up and stretched. "I'll just finish up in the back."



Camel took one last look around his apartment, then opened the front door, swearing when his cell phone rang. He fumbled for it for a moment, then brought it to his ear. "'Lo? Rum! Yeah, my man, I'm right on schedule. I should be up there in a few days or so."

He set his suitcase down as he continued the conversation. "Yeah, the landlord was cool about it, he just asked me for a month's more rent. Turns out someone else was already asking about the place. Yeah, I know, lucky me."

He nodded. "Right, right. I know some people up there who can hook me up, so I'll be doing all right. Just like Chicago. Of course. Just a few days, I promise. No, I promise." He laughed. "See ya."

"Just like Chicago?"

Camel started and turned around to see Venus standing in the doorway, one hand in her purse. "What do you want?"

"Going somewhere?" She ignored his question and looked around the empty apartment. "Looks like it."

He picked up his suitcase and tried to brush past her. "I don't have time for your bullshit."

"I think you do." She stepped inside and pulled a gun from her purse, aiming it steadily at Camel. "I think it's time we settled this just between us."