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“Dio, you know this is a dry campus, right?” giggled the thin redhead draped on the couch.
“Your point?” winking, Dio raised the lips of a beer bottle to his mouth. He grinned at her subtle reply of changing positions, allowing her gym shorts to expose more of her thighs.
“This is a pretty nice party you brought with you,” purred a brunette near his knee, in her hand a bottle of Jack fragrantly perfuming the room “especially since its Wednesday.”
“Anything for the Theta Epsilon Beta Sorority sisters,” said Dio, appreciating his vantage point down her t-shirt. She snickered, whiskey swishing down her throat as she crept closer to him.
“Who’s the couple?” queried a blonde sprawled on the carpet.
“Them?” Dio nodded to his companions, a tall curly haired girl and boy, their mouths locked and gyrating. “The girl’s Mae, they guy’s Bach. Just some friends of mine.”
“He’s cute,” stated the blonde, sitting up and pulling the Jack from the brunette’s hand. Taking a swig and chocking slightly, she gave it back. “But why’d you bring company? Not like you” she eyed his features appraisingly, “need any.”
“I just like ‘em,” Dio took another swig of beer and sighed contentedly. “Now how would you like to do something fun? And illegal.”
The sorority girls giggled. The brunette slid her form next to his on the couch, hand slipping dangerously high on his leg. Perking up, the bleary-eyed blonde smiled salaciously.
“More fun than drinking at two a.m. on a Wednesday night in a sorority house? And something naughty?” the blonde moved in closer, drawing a glare from the brunette “I’m listening.”
“There’ a rave. This Saturday night. We’ve got everything. Killer techno, sweet location,” he extracted a small bag of with tiny white pills from an unseen pocket in his jacket “and my own special brand of Ecstasy. Ambrosia of the gods.” He smiled, shaking the contents of the bag lovingly.
Gasping with delight, the blonde swiped for it.
“Ah-a-ah,” Dio pulled it out of her reach, vanishing the bag back into his jacket.
“Dio, that’s super illegal,” the brunette said appraisingly.
“Exactly. Where’s your free spirit?” her grinned at her, a playful pat on her leg turning into a lingering touch. “If you want some, be there. You know the bonfire field, the one off Parnassus Road? Saturday at midnight.”
“So you came here to advertise for a rave?” questioned the redhead.
“Well, not the only reason,” replied Dio, leering at her. “But tell everyone who knows how to have a good time to come. It will be a full moon. I’ve already got the boy’s fraternity houses to bring the drinks. I’ll be supplying the music; all we need is the female element.” He took another gulp of beer, swishing it around in his mouth. “Tell you sisters, and pretty much everyone you know. We’ll let the grapevine do the work. You know, keep it on the down low.”
“I’ll be there,” murmured the brunette into his ear.
“Me too,” added the blonde, pulling a cell phone from her bra, fingers expertly clicking away a message.
“Good. Hey Mae,” he called to his companion. She broke her mouth free and stared at him expectantly. “You and Bach should do that thing you do. Show ‘em,”
With a heavy thump, Pen dropped his pile of textbooks on the library table. Startled, Avé jumped, her phone clattering to the floor.
“Sorry,” chuckled Pen amusedly “I’ll get it,”
“I got it,” quickly said Avé, stooping to retrieve her phone. Hurriedly, she shoved it in her purse and out of sight. Pen sat down next to her, gently pressing his lips into her cheek.
“You can’t just drop all your books like that,” Avé scolded, giving him a fuller, lingering kiss. “It scares me,” Brushing a strand of her cinnamon hair from her face, she nuzzled closer to Pen, who welcomed it.
“I’ll be more careful next time,” Pen threw an arm around her, pulling her close. “Sorry I was late; student council meeting went later than it was supposed to.”
“It’s ok,” said Avé “I was just studying sociology. I needed a break. What’s new?”
“You know that kid on campus, Dio?” asked Pen, not noticing Avé stiffen under his arm “Apparently he’s organizing some kind of illegal rave. Campus police and some faculty have been trying to get him expelled for drug trafficking charges, but can’t prove it. They came to us today to see if they could attack his scholarship. I have no idea how that kid gets full tuition plus a stipend. It’s almost as good of a scholarship as I get,” Pen shook his head incredulously.
“You, Student Body President? He get’s that much from the school?”
“That, and I’m pretty sure he’s got private funding, but nobody knows from where. He’s managed to piss a ton of people off.”
Avé shuffled nervously, her finger drumming a worried tattoo on the table.
“What’s wrong?” asked Pen.
“That kid, Dio, he was kinda at our sorority house last night,” confessed Avé, her finger picking up its pace.
“What?”Pen turned to face Avé, shock and anger mingled on his face. “What was he doing there? On a Wednesday? What did he say? Did he say anything to you?”
“No, no,” Avé soothed, putting a manicured hand on his chest “He just came by. I hardly saw him at all. I was asleep by midnight anyway,” she lied, staring innocently into Pen’s concerned eyes. Pen relaxed, sitting back into his chair.
“Did he say anything to anyone else? Anything about a rave?”
“I don’t know,” cooed Avé.
“Could you find out?” queried Pen, eagerness in his voice. “If we knew where it was going to be, that would be a big help. Somehow that little son of-“ Pen slowed himself “somehow he’s managed to keep all of the student body officers and faculty in the dark.”
“I’ll ask around,” promised Avé, trying not to remember that little bag of white pills…
“Great,” Pen pulled out his cell phone and stood. “I’ve got to go to my night class. Good to see you,” he gave Avé a quick kiss. Then a longer one.
“I’ll ask for you,” said Avé as Pen disappeared around a corner. A buzz from her purse signaled a new text message on her phone.
So u going 2B thr satrdA? – Dio
Avé clacked away a reply, wondering why Dio didn’t care that Pen, the Student Body President determined to stop the rave, was her boyfriend.
probably. u bringing stuff? –aVé!<3
of course. remember tell every 1 –Dio
Avé had a sinking suspicion that Dio specifically meant Pen.
Techno music penetrated Avé’s chest, overpowering the beating of her own heart. Alcohol coursed through her veins, throwing her world into a wavy, swimming mass of mixed sensations. Flashing colored lights from the DJ table turned into a myriad of fiery butterflies before her eyes. Glow sticks, hanging from haphazard necklaces, bounced as the mass of ravers jumped to the beat of the music.
Avé threw her limbs in the air, letting her hair fly in every direction as she gyrated to the pulse of the crowd. She felt herself abandon reason, not knowing or caring why or what she was doing. She simply let herself go.
Avé hadn’t meant to come to the rave. She hadn’t even wanted to. But the thoughts of Dio’s little pill filled bag and driven her here. An accidental beer later, she found herself in the heart melee, overcome with revelry.
A change of song, and limbs fell from skyward praise. Matching the slower beats of the song, the crowd ceased leaping, and was satisfied to rotate hips and necks. Avé shut her eyes, letting her body flow with soul of the crowd.
“Avé,” a voice said in her ear. Spinning around, she was greeted with the coy smile of Dio. A single white glow stick hung from his neck, shinning his face with ethereal light.
“Do you have it?” she asked, her desire forcing her to ignore social pleasantries.
Dio smiled wider, pulling out the bag from his pocket. As he shook it, she heard the shuffle of pills. It thrilled her with desperate desire.
“Did Pen come with you?” Dio asked, pulling the bag just out of Avé’s reach.
“What? No,” Avé suppressed the overpowering want pulling at her limbs.
“Too bad,” said Dio, hiding the bag form sight again.
“I know what you thought,” he cut her short and winked “but not yet. Just wait. Besides, I think there’s enough distraction for you,” Dio pointed over her shoulder to a boy. Avé remembered him from when Dio came to her sorority. What was his name? Winking once more, Dio turned and vanished into the moving mass of people.
Watching him go, frustration and want grew in Avé. Dio’s little bag was the only reason she had come to this rave, risking her scholarship, police, and relationship with Pen.
Turning to leave, she saw the boy Dio had pointed out was now much closer to her. He stared at her, a peculiar hunger in his eyes. Avé said nothing to him, but returned the stare. Although she didn’t know him before, she couldn’t look away. Slowly, he walked to her, his chiseled features illuminated by an orange glow stick around his neck. Avé knew she should be afraid of him, but wasn’t.
Standing over her now, the boy wrapped his arms around her waist. Delightful chills danced down her spine at his touch. His lips searched her neck. Not knowing why, Avé let him. Their mouths met, his tongue expertly rolling against hers. Avé felt her arms snake around his shoulders, pulling him to her. His hands searched frighteningly low on her waist, and Avé was surprised to find she didn’t care. After a long, quiet moment, they broke free.
“I’m Avé,” she said. Any thought of betraying Pen slowly receded to the back of her mind—ephemeral as a moth fluttering in the night.
“They call me Bach,” he replied. They kissed again, and Avé felt herself abandon to him, utterly and completely.
Pen ran a hand through gelled hair and checked the time on his phone. Five minutes past one a.m. Ahead of him and behind a black curtain of trees, the cacophony of the rave vibrated through the air.
Adjusting his designer jacket, Pen admired his own cleverness. An eavesdropped conversation in the library had told Pen exactly what he needed to know-- that Dio was indeed holding an illegal rave. A few questions to some terrified freshmen later, and Pen knew when and where. He had thought of telling the cops, but Pen wanted to see this thing firsthand. If he could blend in and see Dio dealing drugs or giving out alcohol to anyone underage, Pen could personally take the credit for having Dio expelled.
As Pen fought to control his excitement and blend in, a group of party-goers walked and joked towards the rave, glow stick necklaces lighting their eager faces in neon orange and green. Pen fell in step behind them, casually trying to be invisible. As they worked their way through the trees, the pulsating techno music increased in volume, sending waves of noise through the ground an into Pen’s feet. Colored lights whizzed through gaps in the branches, keeping in sync with the frenzied tempo of the music. Laughter, screams, and shouts of delight penetrated Pen’s ears till it became an unintelligible buzz of noise. Breaking through the line of trees, Pen saw the rave in all its frenzied madness.
Pillars of trees created a natural cathedral, its dome the velvety night sky. Moon and starlight gazed down from the heavens, only to be drowned out by a swarming mass of glow sticks and cell phones. At the far end of the clearing, a DJ commanded light and music at his technological altar. Where pews should have been were hundreds of students caught in revelry. Hips twisted and arms rose in triumph, their bodies swaying liked grass tossed by a nonexistent wind. Pen caught the heavy odor of beers and rampant hormones.
Feeling pride in his ability to be above his student body, Pen walked the fringes of the crowd, searching for Dio. Weaving his way between drinking contests, intertwined lovers, and the occasional couple heading for privacy of the dark forest, Pen watched the revelers abandon reason for the sake of being.
Pen chuckled to himself, glad to be above it all. He couldn’t wait to tell Avé about this…
Pen stopped walking and turned his attention to the crowd, hoping to spot Dio among the mass of carousing students. All he saw was unfamiliar faces, moving and flaying their limbs like fools. Except for one couple, who seemed to be frozen in each other. Devouring one another, their hands searched forbidden areas. Pen grimaced, glad to be better than they. But still, the girl looked familiar. She looked a little like Avé, but Pen knew she would never be at a rave.
As the boy dropped his face to taste the girl’s neck, Pen’s heart shattered. Face full of lustful delight, Avé smiled to the pale moon; giggling as they boy’s hands searched her.
Pen swallowed hard, his mind racing with a thousand reasons not to believe his eyes. Limbs suddenly feeling drenched in lead, Pen’s brain focused on a single phrase, repeating in his thoughts like monstrously broken record. Not Avé, it’s not her. Not Avé, it’s not her…
Powerless to move or speak, Pen found himself rooted in place, simply starting at what he thought was wonderful turn into unthinkable.
“Tough break, Pen,” said a mellifluous voice behind him. Turning around, Pen found he wasn’t surprised to see the face of Dio, mocking glint in his eyes.
“You,” managed Pen, past attitudes towards Dio evaporating into meaninglessness. Dio nodded in affirmation, a small smile growing on his lips.
“Hey, Avé!” yelled Dio over Pen’s shoulder “Get over here!” Pen found he couldn’t muster the strength to turn. After a moment, he felt the presence of Avé behind him.
“Someone you should meet,” cooed Dio, grabbing Avé’s hand. Avé complied, cheerfully bouncing to face the boy who had his back turned to her. Her smile vanished as recognition, and then dread spread over her features. Pen simply looked at her, his face expressionless.
“Avé,” nonchalantly continued Dio “I believe you know Pen.”
“Pen…”Avé’s voice trailed off into silence filled with guilt and fear.
“Now, Pen,” said Dio as he faced the both of them, the white light of his glow stick illuminated his growing leer “I believe we have a great opportunity here. Avé, as you know, has decided to embrace life to its fullest. She’s at a party, meeting people, having fun, doing what any normal American college student would do any Saturday night. What’s wrong with that? Nothing.”
“You cheated,” Pen finally muttered, the stinging realization cutting him through and through.
Cutting Avé’s response short, Dio continued. “Cheated on you? No, no, no. What you saw, Pen, means nothing, nothing at all. Just innocent fun. Isn’t that right, Avé?”
Avé nodded quickly, jumping at the explanation. Pen refused to meet her frantic eyes.
“You see? Nothing. She didn’t cheat on you, Pen, she’s just being free. Everyone has the right to be free. Even you. Don’t you see, Pen? That’s what I’m doing here. I’m offering people a chance to be free, to relax, abandon reason for the thrill of living. That’s what I’m all about. Now why would you want to ruin that? You’ll only be destroying fun. Now, why don’t you have some fun, too? Kick back, let yourself go. You’ve been running yourself crazy with all that you do for the school.” A beer miraculously appeared in Dio’s hand “Have a beer, let yourself go. Dance with your girlfriend. Have a good time,” Dio popped open the beer, offering it with a cheerful smile.
Pen looked at Dio, then to the beer in his hand. Some part of him, very deep down, wanted to believe Dio. Something said he was right. Looking at Avé, the feeling grew stronger. He just wanted to forget, to have his spinning world go back to normal. But everything Pen knew resisted, told him it was wrong. Looking at Avé, he felt his soul rip into pieces, torn between two wants; losing himself in forgetful reverly, and standing for what he had ordered his life around.
Taking Avé’s hand, he accepted the beer from Dio. Taking his first sip of alcohol, one of the feelings in his heart went away.
“Good choice,” said Dio, triumphant smile covering his face. “Now go have fun,”
As they turned to join the melee of the rave, he didn’t notice Dio slip Avé a small bag of white pills. Nor did he notice a similar bag slip into his own pocket.
One month later, Pen sat in his apartment, tears flowing freely down his face. On his floor, two papers lay mocking him with their simple statements of fact. One, the student newspaper, announced Pen’s removal as Student Body President. An anonymous source had provided the appropriate people with photographs of Pen at an illegal Rave, drinking and in possession of a small quantity of pills, known in the vernacular as Ecstacy.
Another paper came from a doctor’s office. It said simply said that the results of the test were that Avé was indeed pregnant.
Pen looked at his world; torn, ripped, and pulled apart.