"Private Young, Private Wilde...you've come to win my raffle." Darryl's booming voice projected over the bar without him having to strain.
Leo watched out of the corner of his eye as Prue pulled a face, choosing to ignore whatever her boss was implying. "I'm gonna get my friend laid as a last souveneir." She spoke just as loudly in return. Leo almost dropped his beer in shock. "What? No."
But Prue and Darryl continued their negotiations over the bar.
"Hey!" Leo interrupted them roughly. "I love you Prudence, but you are so full of bullshit."
"I'm going to buy you a girl," her eyes crinkled mischievously. Leo glared. "Give up," he demanded. But he recognised her expression all to well. She wasn't going to leave him be.
"You can buy me another beer," he attempted to compromise weakly. Leo was feeling suddenly nervous. He looked around for Riley to break the tension and talk some sense into his stubborn best friend. Riley was approaching at half the pace of a constipated snail, inhaling her joint like there was no tomorrow.
Leo shuddered at the thought, but he couldn't push it from his mind. Fortunately Darryl quickly ended his conversation with Prue, and climbed on top of the bar screaming "IT'S SHOWTIME" over the noise. The club almost drowned in cheers.
"The girls are hotter than hell tonight, Private Young!" A disturbingly sober rebel approached them from behind. Leo wanted to groan at the single-topic conversations his fellow rebels were having. He wanted to scream at them all to wake up! This could be the last night of their lives. Weren't they afraid? Was he the only one who felt so lost here? Nothing was making sense to him. Nothing felt real. And he hadn't taken any drugs.
"You in the raffle?" the fat-faced rebel continued. He reeked of B.O. "I have four tickets already, Young. You'd better move your ass if you want some action tonight."
"Yeah..." Leo lied, pitying any poor girl who became the property of this foul smelling Private.
"Good luck then." He turned and wondered off, addressing Riley as she brushed past him on her way to her friends. "Riley Graham, shit, the tension is unbearable!"
Riley rubbed her temples. "Not to mention the smell..."
"Ho-ney," Prue smiled sympathetically and patted her friend on the head. "You okay?"
But Riley looked anything but okay. She crinkled her face as it turned a seedy shade of 'too much weed in one hour'.
"No, actually, I think I'm going to puke. I might see if I can find a comfortable gutter to crawl into and die."
Leo chuckled and rubbed her back. "You go too hard, Riley Graham. Try inhaling some oxygen, it helps at times."
Prue removed the remaining joint from Riley's mouth, and brought it to her own lips, inhaling softly. She then offered it to Leo, and when he declined, dropped it into the deserted beer beside her and exhaled a stream of smoke. "You heading off, babe?"
"Mmm..." the groan rumbled from deep inside Riley's throat. She raised her hand in 'goodbye' and walked towards the door gripping every chair on her way.
Leo watched to make sure she made it out into the fresh air safely. He caught Prue grinning at him.
"Is she something you like, Leo?" Prue wrapped a friendly arm around his waist. He replied with a shrug. "Hum. Maybe. Though I can't figure out if she's more interested in me or the chicks on stage." Prue chucked at his honesty. They rarely hid anything from each other. "Yeah, I'm not sure you're her type." She muttered cheekily.
Leo loved Prue when she looked at him like this. When her lips squeezed together perfectly at the corners and her eyes crinkled and shone. He thought about how much he missed working with Prue. They had shared everything with each other growing up. Just hearing her voice helped to lift his depression.
"And what about you, Prudence?" he asked curiously, eyebrows raised.
"What ABOUT me, dickhead? I'm engaged." She pulled away. And she was engaged. Her highschool sweetheart, Andy, had proposed to Prue on her 20th birthday, just after she was drafted to fight in Salam. "If you can't have Riley, you'll just have to settle for one of them," Prue indicated towards the women on the stage.
Leo's face turned serious.
"I don't know what's wrong with me Prue. I used to love getting stoned and waking up with some whore beside me." His distressed voice dissipated into the smoke.
Prue's eyebrows were raised in a continuous show of amusement. "Buuut..." she urged him on.
"But it's not fun anymore! Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe I'm dead. Maybe I'm-"
"Maybe you're senile." Prue joked with mock concern. She grinned to herself.
"Fuck off." Leo sulked.
"U.S. rrrebels! Lets forget the threat, forget the war. Tonight we will all get along! It's time for a little wiccan thank you present. From us to you.– I present the pride, the joy, of all of Salam. The one and only, Miss Fee Fee Van Tranh!!"
Leo slouched grumpily at the bar, looking into his beer.
"Grrreat." Prue rolled her eyes, annoyed at both her friend and at her least favourite dancer on the stage. She turned to watch Phoebe's provocative song.
"If I'm your pinup, I'll melt all your brass;
Stuck on your wall with a pin in my ass.
If you get me, we will travel first class;
I'll show you- we will make magic together!"
Darryl cleared his throat and shooed Phoebe off the stage.
"Is it a week or a day or an hour you've got? Nobody knows. Tonight might be your last shot! We have a special treat for all you gentlemen, and Prudence."
The crowd roared and Darryl directed a slimy wink in Prue's direction. The woman pulled a disgusted face and turned her back to the stage, mimicking Leo's previous posture. "Shit head," she growled. Leo snorted with delight into his beer.
"New from the country, untouched! Legs unparted, parts uncharted." The crowd rose from their seats howling as Darryl introduced the shy woman Prue had noticed earlier.
"I don't, I d-don't know what to do…" the girl almost cried.
Darryl grabbed her roughly. "Don't screw with me little bitch. SING!"
Leo turned his head slowly. The woman on stage caused his breath to catch in his throat. She radiated the most intense beauty and sadness he had ever witnessed. His eyes blinked rapidly, stinging with smoke, yet trying to catch every glorious movement the young Wiccan made. And when she opened her mouth to improvise the song, his ears almost burst with her passionate splendour. His world stopped. He forgot that he may not survive another night. Suddenly there was something real about Salam. And she stood nervously in front of him, baring her heart to these wild, dirty men.
"I'm 17 and I'm new here today
The village I come from seems so far away
All of the girls know much more what to say
But I know...
I have a heart like the sea
A million dreams soar in me."
He had heard of people falling in love suddenly, but she never thought it would feel so heart wrenching. Leo loved the woman on stage. He loved her. He loved...he didn't know her name.
"Prue!" He shouted urgently, shocking himself at the intensity of his longing. His best friend turned her head, concerned as he gripped her arm with chilled hands.
"What?" she croaked.
"Good Jesus Christ Prue, who is SHE?!"
AUTHORS NOTE: Heeeee!! Thanks so much for reading! More comin' soon. :-D