“Where have you been?” The kitchen woman barked, glaring at me.
“Nevermind that, refill the punch bowl. These older boys don’t tolerate waiting…”
“Ah, yes.” I nodded, brushing off my apron and immediately grabbing a large pitcher that was filled with red liquid.
I had just left Brooke in the bathroom, although I didn’t pay the intimacy we shared very much mind. It wasn’t like anything was done on purpose. I did want to make sure she was okay, but Brooke was on my payroll, so I thought she can probably get over it. At the very least, I had more important things to worry about at the moment.
I headed back into the music-filled room. There were people dancing, although it was mostly groups of girls. The men stood in batches on the side. It almost felt like the dancing was an appraisal. The women danced on the floor with each other while the men watched and decided their worth. Perhaps they were deciding who got who tonight. I noticed a tall guy with short spiky hair who seemed to be the leader of the group of seniors.
He raised a glass of punch towards Rebecca, the Wrath president. She glared back icily before turning away. As if she gave a sign, the other women around her turned as well, effectively shunning his group of boys. On top of the four I had seen her with, she seemed to have gotten another five. I wondered what the seniors had on her that got her to come to this thing. The guy only responded by chuckling.
I kept my head low and headed over to the refreshment table. Aiko was over near Lyra and a couple of girls with her. Lyra seemed to be smiling, although every once in a while her eyes would wander over to the groupings of men and she’d look like she was having a miniature panic attack. Then she’d immediately turn back and put the expression back on her face. Ice queen, seriously?
“What is your name, darling?” A voice caused me to jump.
I was standing in front of the table of punch with the pitcher half-way to pouring. I was looking around for Madison desperately but still didn’t see her. I only had Brooke’s word to go on that she was safe.
“Clarice,” I said sharply, pouring the pitcher into the bowl.
The boy wasn’t one of the seniors, but his voice sounded familiar. He was one of the guy’s alongside Ben. These were the men who were plotting on getting my sister drunk! I absolutely wouldn’t allow that to happen. Even though I was here in disguise, I couldn’t bring myself to smile at this man.
“Could I… buy you a drink?” The guy asked, giving a shit-eating grin that made me want to punch him.
“I’m working, obviously,” I responded as shortly as I could.
“Oh? Well, I think all the food is out. It doesn’t matter much anyway.” The boy shrugged. “The name’s Damien. We’re the ones who threw this little party. How do you like it?”
I fought from rolling my eyes. If I created too much of a scene and ended up getting kicked out of the party, I’d never forgiven myself. Instead, I put on a chilly look, trying to replicate the appearance I’d seen on women in my old world trying to say they weren’t interested.
“Like? It’s a job. I’m working.” I responded stiffly, pouring the last of the punch into the bowl.
“Mm-hmm…” the boy seemed to barely be listening. “So, my friends and I have a corner over there. I’d love it if you came and drank with us. It’s just more fun drinking with girls?”
My teeth tightened at those words. Exactly how naive did this asshole thing I was? It was fun to drink with girls present? More like he wanted to have sex with said drunk women. Just as I was about to tell him off, my eyes landed on the area he was pointing. The other two boys, including Ben, were over there sitting in some couches moved in a way to create their own isolated area hidden from the main hall. That part wasn’t what caught my eye. What did was the presence of Madison. She was sitting on the couch next to Ben. My eyes immediately narrowed as I saw him put his hand on her knee. She politely readjusted, moving her knees away from his hand, but out of the corner of his lips, I saw a smirk.
“On second thought…” My frown grew. “I’ll be happy to join you.”
“Haha! Splendid!” Damien laughed. “Come, come. Take off your apron. Join us.”
As he pulled me across the room by the wrist, I saw Aiko walking by. Noticing me being lead away by a boy, she held up her hands questioningly. I nodded towards the couch and Madison. Aiko responded with a sigh and head shake, but I couldn’t really stop it now. Even if I wasn’t there for Madison, it would be difficult for any girl to keep from being dragged around when a boy decided on it. Aiko would likely get yelled at about this, but there wasn’t much I could now.
“Hey guys, this is-“ Damien suddenly stopped and hit his head. “Ah, damn… what was your name again.”
“Clarice…” I repeated, my teeth slightly grinding.
Was this really what women had to put up with from men? A guy who didn’t even remember your name? I thought I was already a pretty selfish and inconsiderate guy, but this took things to a completely different level. These guys weren’t just inconsiderate, they were completely narcissistic!
The three boys gave each other knowing grins that they seemed to think I wouldn’t notice, which only irritated me further. Madison didn’t notice the looks because she was looking down at the cup of punch in her hands. She seemed to be lost in deep thought, not really paying attention to much. She barely acknowledged my introduction, only glancing up for a second before looking away. It looked like my disguise was sufficient enough that even my own sister didn’t recognize me. Part of me felt annoyed, while part of me felt relieved.
“Clarice…” A flat voice suddenly caused me to look down. “Welcome.”
There was a woman sitting in the chair. She had a small mousy appearance with big ears and eyes. Her irises were green, and her hair was oddly grey. She had thick black plastic framed glasses, which fit her larger eyes well. Her hair was straight and tied with a ribbon. She looked very cute, like a small animal. The only thing off-putting was her demeanor. She sat up straight, with a very business-like expression on her face. She had her legs crossed and was sipping from a cup of tea. She resembled the apex of a professional.
“Ah… Clarice…” Damien smiled at me in a nauseating way he probably thought was ingratiating. “My mates are Ben and Charles. This is Dia. And over here is Madison. These are your upperclassman?”
“A-actually, I don’t go to Academy…” I responded, trying to make myself seem less interesting to this man.
“Really? You’ve made it into this club and you’re not even in Academy?” Dia raised an eyebrow.
“Ah, actually, I’m part of the catering staff.” I gestured to my clothing signifying that it was my uniform.
Dia looked me up and down in a way that made me feel like she might be ferreting out some of my secrets. I looked away, not able to keep the redness of a blush from reaching my cheeks. However, when my eyes looked up, I saw Damien staring at me practically panting. He swallowed some saliva, and I swallowed some vomit.
“Actually, we’re still missing a few people.” It was Ben who broke up this moment, and I thankfully took it to sit down next to Dia.
This left Damien who was about to gesture to have me sit next to him in a loveseat in a strange position. I looked away, pretending not to notice. He sat, recovering from his disappointment in an instant and clearly unperturbed. Before he could speak though, Dia shot me a strange look.
“I have to say, I’m surprised you so boldly sit next to me, considering our status difference.”
“Huh? Status?” I looked over at her questioningly before it hit me. “Ah! That’s right, you’re an upperclassman. Can I not sit here?”
Dia’s eyes widened even larger, “No, that’s not what I meant.”
“Ahem…” Damien coughed, wearing an awkward smile. “Dia’s mother owns the clothing line Meta.”
I continued to stare, having never heard of that brand before in their life.
Dia suddenly chuckled. “Perhaps someone has never heard of Meta before. My family is quite high society. My godmother is a senator even.”
“O-oh…” I nodded, trying to figure out what she was getting at. “Then… I can’t sit here?”
Dia raised her other eyebrow, seemingly not sure how to answer. “I mean… it’s fine if you do.”
“Oh good.” I dropped my shoulders, lying back on the couch.
I had been worried I made some kind of fashion foo-pah, so I was genuinely starting to worry. If anything, this entire event had been stressful. I was becoming very stressed. More than anything, my throat felt dry. Seeing a fruit punch on the table, I reached out and grabbed the cup. Lifting it to my mouth, I drank it up. It was a decent tasting fruit punch, but I wasn’t really caring about that. At least there wasn’t alcohol in it. I could tell that much, at least.
“Ah… that’s mine…” Dia made a noise, although her expression didn’t seem annoyed.
She looked more helpless, helpless and amused. I didn’t really know what was amusing but realizing I was drinking her drink, I immediately stopped and spit it back into the cup.
I put it back on the table, snapping my hands onto my lap to keep me from doing anything else stupid. She had a strange look in her eyes. She was some rich girl and here I was acting quite a fool. However, she didn’t seem to be angry.
“S-sorry, Dia!” Charles seemed slightly agitated and reached forward to the cup. “Here, I’ll get a fresh drink for yo-“
Dia casually reached out a grabbed the cup first. She immediately picked it up and brought it to her lips, drinking the entire cup in one gulp. As she did, she had a strange smile on her face, and her eyes didn’t look away from me.
“Ah…” Damien seemed to be lost on how to respond as well.
“It seems I’m out of drink. Clarice, would you like to join me in getting refreshments?” Dia asked with her smile unchanging.
“Actually, ladies, stay here. We’ll bring it!” Damien suddenly stood up, gesturing to keep Dia from moving.
Dia slowly broke her eye contact with me, turning to Damien and giving a slow deliberate nod as if this was natural. Meanwhile, I had no clue what was going on, and could only shake my head in confusion. Women in this world were weird. I already knew this, but it seemed like this problem permeated every level. I, at least, thought the upper class would be some semblance of normal.
“How about I bring you girls some cocktails,” Ben said excitedly.
“I’ll just take punch.” Madison shot, looking up at the pair of us girls before blushing and looking back down.
A flash of annoyance showed on Ben’s face and was gone an instant later. My hand tightened on the banister of the couch, but I otherwise kept my expression neutral.
“Actually…” Charles spoke up. “We’re going to have a toast. You can take a toast, right?”
Madison looked over at him disinterestedly. “About that…”
“Don’t worry.” Ben gave another shitty smile. “I’ll bring both. Just drink for the toast, okay?”
“We’re actually missing some people for the toast, right?” Damien stood up. “You girls should stay here and chat, we’ll get everyone and toast this. Just the other’s helping with the welcoming committee. Definitely the teacher Mako and Lyra as well.”
The expression on my face felt extremely fake, but I used every ounce of my strength to keep it on my face. What they really meant was that they were trying to gather all the queens and get alcohol in them. Exactly how much alcohol would be spiked in those drinks? About the only thing that made me relax was that I was in the exact position I wanted to be. Madison was in my sight. I wouldn’t touch their drink, and when the time came, I’d protect my sister. I might even save the other queens while I was at it.
The three boys gave each other more knowing grins over our heads that made me want to throw a shoe at them as they left to set up the final round of this stupid stunt. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a boy and understand what those looks mean, or if my 35 years of experience made them far more noticeable than they are to a kid, but those looks were seriously starting to piss me off. I really wanted to punch these guys out. Just a little longer, this night was almost done.
“Don’t drink the alcohol,” I said once the boys left, giving both girls a look. “They mean to get us drunk and have their way with us.”
Dia shot me a surprised look, then burst into a chuckle. “This isn’t my first party. If these men really wanted to fell the Career queen, they would need to seriously up their game from a little bit of alcohol.”
“You know?” I asked in surprise.
Dia chuckled. “That stealing my virginity is a game the boys play? Of course. I’ve allowed it to continue. Having them all compete over me is a preferable state, don’t you think? Of course, I won’t pick any of them.”
“None? You’re not going to get pregnant?”
Dia sighed, sitting back more comfortably. “Eventually, if it’s fiscally beneficial. It’ll be a man selected for his exemplary genes and success rate. I certainly wouldn’t fall for one of those Virgin breakers like Aaron.”
“What about love?” I demanded.
Dia’s eyes widened again. “You keep surprising me. For a commoner, you’re quite amusing. Perhaps, I could get you a job at Meta. The benefits are assuredly better than this place. Think about it first. As for your question, love is a myth. There is no such thing as love. Just exchange.”
I shook my head. “I don’t believe that. Right, Madison?”
“Eh?” Madison snapped up, “What?”
“Do you love someone, Madison?” I demanded.
“That…” Madison looked away, her lips trembling. “Perhaps it’s better just to give it away. Giving it to the one you love… it’s too painful.”
“It… doesn’t have to be.” I responded, trying to find something to get through to Madison, but finding very little.
“Hey, we’re back. Let’s end this night right!” The boys declared, surging around us and stopping whatever Madison was starting to say in response.
There were two other people present. Lyra walked up with a cold expression on her face. There was also an older woman I had never met before. She must be the teacher, Mako. She had black hair like my mothers, but olive skin and incredibly long legs. If she was born in my old world, I would have called her an Italian beauty. She had big luscious red lips, long, full hair, and a heart-shaped face. Overall, she was deserving of the name, queen. Upon seeing her, I began to suspect that teacher’s talk of only chasing younger girls was an excuse. He probably had chased her and failed. At least, that was the impression she gave me.
“It’s just one toast, teach, surely that doesn’t violate your prohibition as a guardian.” Charles was saying smoothly.
“Just a glass of punch, thank you.”
The three boys were looking tense. Thankfully, all of these girls were too knowledgeable to be suckered into drinking, even for this made-up reason of a toast. Well, all of them except Madison. Her behavior seemed slightly self-destructive. Cocktails and punch cups were set out on the table. On the urging of the boys, the girls all grabbed a drink. To my relief, Dia still listened to me and grabbed a punch, as did Lyra. Madison started reaching for a glass of wine.
Just before her hand reached it, mine shot out and grabbed the cup. I pulled so hard it spilled slightly, causing some to fall on Madison’s hand.
“S-sorry…” I said, bringing the cup up to me.
Madison ended up grabbing a fruit punch cup instead. That tiny interruption had been enough to break whatever resolve she had grown. Damien seemed relieved when I grabbed a drink. I smiled back, even as Dia looked at me questioningly. Naturally, the other girls had no clue what was going on. Well, even if I ended up drunk, it’d just be me. Even Damien wanted to take me back to his room, I would gladly do it in place of Madison. Once the clothing came off, he was bound to find some things he didn’t like!
“Welcoming week was tough.” It was Charles who spoke, his expression stiff at looking at all the girls with nonalcoholic drinks while raising his glass of beer. “But this week has gone splendidly for men and women. Cheers.”
Everyone drank their glass. I downed my glass of wine in a single gulp. My mission was complete. Their plan was finished. Now, I just had to get Madison out of there, and everything was fine. Whether I did anything at all in the first place, I didn’t know. However, Madison wouldn’t be touched tonight, and that was what mattered. She was making a bitter expression for some reason. Did she not like the taste of the punch? As for the alcohol, it tasted normal. It looked like high school kids weren’t evil geniuses. All of my worries and their plan seemed to just be girls plus alcohol equals sex. The plan of these kids had seriously gotten me worried.
Perhaps I was just overreacting. This world didn’t even have anything like date rape drugs, at least, as far as I could find. There might have been some kind of magic spell or something put on the drinks. Maybe there was an aphrodisiac? Well, there were many options, but even if I was drugged, what was the worst that could happen? As long as Madison and the other girls were safe, that was what was important.
“This is crap! What the hell are you doing?” A voice shouted out.
The music stopped all of a sudden, and that shout carried through the club with a ring. I instinctually turned around and looked, only to see Aiko standing near the table. There was a boy, the one who looked to be in charge, staring her down. Aiko looked like a lost sheep, backing up in fright. Without thought, I stood up and began heading that direction.
Although I didn’t ask him for help, Damien followed me. He was sticking close all of a sudden, a nervous expression on his face. Was this the move the senior boys were talking about? How did Aiko tie into all of this? How were they going to use her to embarrass the lipstick lesbians?
“Cly-clarice…” Aiko breathed in relief as I approached the group.
By the time I arrived, three other boys had formed a half circle around Aiko. I looked around for Brooke, but she seemed completely absent. Damn it, couldn’t they have picked a better time to pull their stunt? I was almost out of the woods here, and now I was getting involved in this bullshit.
“What’s going on here?” I demanded.
The boy who was scowling blinked a couple of times as he saw me walk up. “Who are you, beautiful?”
“I am her coworker.” I shot back angrily. “Is there a problem?”
The boy shot me a look and then broke into a smile. “Nothing much. I was telling her that the punch tastes bad. She insists it was made correctly, but I don’t think it was. I heard you bitches are a couple of lesbians. It’d be exactly your kind who has a grudge against us boys.”
“I didn’t.” She shouted, and then looked over at me tearfully.
“It’s fine.” I nodded, patting Aiko’s head before turning to the boy. “I’m the one who brought the pitcher out.”
The boy’s eyes seemed to brighten at that. “Oh… so you’re the one who mixed this pisswater.”
“You bastard, now you’re going to throw foolish accusations?” Rebecca stormed up to the table, her group coming to the rescue. “Why would a woman do anything like that, Paiter?”
The guy named Paiter shrugged. “Who knows about lipstick bitches like you? Jealousy? Anger? Or maybe you just want the attention of big strong men like us?”
Several of the men laughed, while the women of Wrath glared over at them angrily, several of them looking like they wanted to leap over and scratch the men’s eyes out.
“We’d never!” Aiko defended angrily.
I walked forward and immediately pulled up a ladle of punch, downing it in one go. “There, see.. if I had done anything with the punch, I wouldn’t have drunk it.”
The punch had a slightly bitter taste, but it otherwise tasted fine. I had thought for the moment the guys themselves had put something into the drink. Perhaps one of them had poured something in it to make it taste bad. Well, whatever it was, they hadn’t poured enough.
Paiter’s face turned slightly ugly as he glared at me. With his arms crossed, he nodded to one of the guys behind him.
“Try it,” Paiter ordered.
The senior came out at grabbed the scoop from me. He dipped it back into the punch and then drank from the same ladle I had drunk from. He gave me a perverted grin as he did so, causing my stomach to turn. If he only knew… The girls of Wrath also made noises of disgust, a few mumbling about perverted men.
When he finished drinking it, his eyes raised in surprise. “Not bad.”
“What?” Paiter took a step forward, grabbing a cup from the table and dripping it in. He drank the punch too.
When he finished, he took the glass and threw it angrily. The glass shattered on the floor, causing several people to step back. What was his plan in the first place? He seemed to want to embarrass Wrath, or perhaps all lipstick lesbians. After hearing that Aiko and I were lesbians, perhaps he sought to go after the help to embarrass Wrath.
Rebecca looked at the angry Paiter’s face with a very pleased expression. Whatever was supposed to happen, it seemed that it didn’t go the way he wanted. Maybe they messed with the ingredients in the kitchen and the chef saw it and threw it away. Maybe they just didn’t use enough ingredients. I didn’t know, but their goal seemed to have been thwarted.
Rebecca gloatingly got a glass of punch for herself, gulping it down smugly with a grin. “What is it, Paiter? Is a woman’s drink too much for your delicate, boy tummy.”
Her companions chuckled, and each of them, in turn, took a drink while glaring at the boys, who were all glowering now.
What this all his game was? I just couldn’t figure it out. Was he just trying to embarrass us? These were truly kids. I had thought the seniors would have come up with something a bit more devious than that, but alas, their plan was just to put something bad in the punch and then frame lesbians for being anti-boy.
“We done now?” I growled, keeping my voice cold as the party started to return to normal.
Paiter nodded, his head lowered, “It seems I made a mistake.”
“Aiko, head to the kitchen,” I whispered to her. “We’re leaving soon, with my sister.”
Aiko nodded and immediately ran for the kitchen. Once the door closed, I turned to see the Wrath girls walking away. With the event ended, several of them seemed to be moving to sit down, looking tired.
Something was giving me a bad feeling though. Paiter’s expression seemed off. In the corner of his lips, it was if he was smirking. I had a distinct feeling that this was just act one of whatever he planned for Wrath. It was best if I left with Madison as quickly as I could. I turned away, but just as I turned, Paiter reached out and grabbed my butt. My shock grew to anger in a second. After this entire night, I had already reached my limit on what I could take from other boys.
I spun, my fist slamming into his face. Paiter was caught by complete surprise as a smack hit him. He stumbled back to the ground.
“Don’t touch me!” I growled, suddenly feeling slightly woozy from turning too fast.
Paiter had a surprised look in his eyes, but even now, that grin didn’t leave his face. He reached up and wiped a little bit of blood from his lip.
“Hehe… you’ll pay for that later.” Paiter’s scowl now turned to a complete grin.
His look uneased me. I suddenly had the urge to get away quickly. Later? What later… there wouldn’t be a later. I headed back to the couch while Paiter got up with the help of his friends and headed over to the dance floor.
The farther I walked, the more everything felt wrong. I suddenly felt like I was walking through jello. It wasn’t until my eyes focused on the couch that the sinking feeling turned into dread.
Everyone was there, sitting down. Lyra and Mako both looked out of it. Madison also looked half passed-out, her head resting on Ben’s shoulder. Charles was touching Mako’s face, and she was wearing a dazed expression. Ben reached down and grabbed Madison, suddenly trying to pick her up in his arms. I reached out and tried to shout, but one foot got in front of the other, and I stumbled forward. Someone caught me, and I looked up to see Damien looking down at me while he licked his lips excitedly.
“P-perhaps we should head to the VIP room?” He asked nervously.
I pulled away. “Shit… the punch… you bastards…”
“We didn’t do that. That’s the Senior’s plan! The boys took purification potion before drinking so only the girls were knocked out.”Damien whispered darkly while tightening his grip on my arm as I fought back with what little strength I had. “Hey, hey! I wouldn’t be pulling away if I were you, you just pissed off Paiter. The girls out here, Wrath, the boys are just going to gang rape them all to show them who’s in charge. After punching Paiter, you’ll be high on that list. Me and my bros reserved all the VIP rooms so only we have the key. Come with me to my room and we’ll have a fun night together. Stay down here and Paiter will wreck you. I’m the only safety you got!”
I swung at him anyway, but he was able to dodge it, although he was forced to let go of me. I stumbled forward, falling onto Dia. She looked down at me, but her look seemed dazed too.
“Th-they roofied us.” I barely got the words out.
Dia could only look down on me regretfully. I turned, reaching for Madison. I fell to the floor. Ben stood with Madison in his arms. He was carrying her princess style. Her eyes were closed. I lunged one last time, but the world was getting blurrier and blurrier and it was getting harder to think. I kept reaching, and my sight faded as I watched Madison being taken away.