Morrissey, Mondale, Magic, And Miss Morgan
by Jennifer-Oksana

"I'm totally serious: what the hell is emo?" Georgette asked, stealing a glass of champagne from the waiter. "Isn't it supposed to be something like an ostrich?"

Lilah Morgan, almost twenty years old and trying desperately not to die laughing at the latest sorority girl slip-up, stole Georgette's champagne and took a drink to blur those edges that were getting too hard and unpleasant again.

"That's an emu," she said with a grin. "Emo is a kind of music."

Georgette snorted, which just couldn't be the best idea with all the damage those nasal tissues were taking. Then again, Georgette was prone to the bad idea. First of all, Georgie had forgotten to touch up the roots on her white-blonde hair and so her perm was kind of two-toned. Secondly, Lilah knew that blue eyeshadow didn't look good on most girls, but especially not Georgette, and especially when it was a quarter of an inch thick and hidden behind Tammy Faye-thick mascara and candy-cotton pink lipstick. Then there was the dress, which would have been okay if it weren't aqua blue satin with a sequined bodice. She looked like she was going to prom or an exchange with Fiji, which given that this was a black-tie affair for adults? Was not a great idea.

Lilah was actually glad that she'd stuck to simple when Georgie's mom, the very nice Helen, had thrown open her closet and ordered them to go wild. Her black dress might be a little modest, but no one had looked twice at her the whole night in a pitying way, and that Lilah considered a success, even if she had tripped three times in her damned stupid high heels.

"It can't be very good if I've never heard of it," Georgette said, looking around the New Year's party full of tuxedo-clad potential sugar daddies and designer-gown-wearing trophy wives and trophy other women milling around like the drain on society that they were. "Honestly, Lilah, you know the most bizarre things."

"Knowing who Walter Mondale is doesn't count as bizarre, Georgette," Lilah said, suddenly feeling the intense need to escape the oppressive shininess of her best friend's sequin-and-shoulder-pad dress, the well-heeled men who had looked both of them over like they were pieces of meat, and the whole impulse that had made her agree to stay at Georgette's parents' gigantic house in Malibu for break. She wanted to go back to Santa Cruz, where she wore a lot of black, listened to Morrissey, and watched Trey Harris from the corner of the room through a haze of pot smoke and magic dust that made colors more intense and edges more like something seen through water and light sparkle like Christmas lights.

Georgette's father was the most powerful wizard in the Valley; they said only Magnus Bryce was more important to the Industry, and Georgette's father had made it eminently clear that if Lilah wanted to get lost in his bedroom, he'd make it worth her while. And Lilah couldn't help but secretly want it to happen -- Mr. Larsen was good looking, young-acting, the kind of man you could always run into wearing a towel as he came back from a morning swim in the Pacific, and so interested in everything Lilah cared about.

Mr. Larsen knew who Walter Mondale was, and that alone was fifty points in his favor.

The rest of Lilah missed her turtlenecks and jeans and bitching about straight-edge poseurs while Trey Harris offered her a glittering vial of something that left her on the ceiling. Pretty girls always scored controlled substances (magic or not) for cheaper, and most of the time it wasn't all that dangerous to accept freebies. The SC magic crowd looked out for each other. And Lilah didn't want to sleep with a married man, knew that the way he looked at her wasn't the way she wanted to be looked at, was no better than the way the boys on the football team stared.

"Lilah, seriously, wake up!" Georgette said, snapping her dragon lady nails in Lilah's face. "You were totally off in the ether. Were you having a flashback on that shit that Jesse got us? My dad said that stuff was risky, you know..."

"No," Lilah said, shaking her head. "I feel a little sick to my stomach, Georgie. I'm gonna go outside for a second, okay?"

"Like, okay. But 1989 is almost here! Don't miss it being anti!" Georgette said dubiously as Lilah made her way through the diamonds and pearls and satin and lace to feel fresh air finally hit her face as she tried to pull herself together.

1989. Wow. Almost the 1990s. It was going to be a different world. A peaceful world, maybe. After all, perestroika. Glasnost. Gorbachev was making it seem like the Soviets were more interested in peace and capitalism than war and communism. No more Iron Curtain, or at least, that was what Professor Reed was always predicting.

Lilah wanted to be a part of that world. She already knew that a poor girl from central California was never going to be President, or even a senator, and Lilah just couldn't deal with being a trophy wife, no matter what the benefit. Lilah wasn't meant to be the power behind the throne; she was going to wear the crown or die a pauper. But she wasn't going to be either if she spent all her time mooning after Trey dressed like a goth and majoring in philosophy. And hell, all Morrissey did was whine.

"There you are!" Georgette said, stumbling over in her high heels. "Why are you being so goth girl? Come on! My dad wants you to meet the mayor. He says maybe there's going to be an internship this summer here and you're so totally in if you just go and make with the small talk. Come on!"

And hadn't Professor Reed always said that the best way to take down the corrupt world of the superstructure from the inside? That the base had to be seeded with revolt? That was what Lilah was planning. Revolution from within. Get the internships, smile pretty...and then take them all for everything they were worth.

It wasn't like it was personal or anything. She was just trying to beat the bastards at their own game.


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