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Snippet #2821698

located in New York, a part of the last of the real ones, one of the many universes on RPG.

New York

The city of dreams and destruction.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe
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Gabriella was adjusting her skirt when the door to Erin's room opened. Instinctually she glared at Damien, having thought he had locked the door behind them. Immediately Gabriella felt her chest clench, her mind going to worst case scenario and expecting to see Dylan. When she saw Erin, her panic faded to shame. Color rushed to her cheeks, her face suddenly very hot. She caught a glimpse of her reflection, make up and hair mussed.

“My skirt broke,” Gabriella practically barked the excuse. She looked over to Damien who was equally disheveled. “Damien was just helping me.”

It was obvious Erin wasn’t buying it, not that Gabriella was selling it all that well. Gabriella knew she probably should have let Damien handle it. He was always much smoother than she ever was. It wasn’t that Gabriella couldn’t lie, though ‘sober’ Gabriella wasn’t nearly as good as Gabriella when she was using.

“Sorry,” was all Gabriella could manage to mumble, pushing past Erin and back into the party.

Suddenly Gabriella felt she should leave. Though she didn’t think Erin would drop the bomb on Dylan tonight, she didn’t know if she could stay here knowing that Erin knew about her and Damien’s affair. Her hand went back to the fabric over the inner pocket, comforted by the shape of the little green pill. She was reminded of the ketamine she had forgotten she’d hidden in Erin’s place last time she relapsed. The last thing she wanted to do now was piss Erin off, Gabriella needed to get those drugs before it blew back in her face.

People were distracted and drunk enough that Gabriella felt no one would notice her. She went into the den moving into the corner where the vent was. Looking around to make sure no one was looking, she pretended to spill the contents of her purse, kneeling down to pick them up looking into the vent to see her baggie still there from when she hid it. Luckily Gabriella had a knack for fishing out drugs she had to hide in a hurry. She had a paperclip in her wallet, manipulating it into a hook. Manipulating the clip into the vent to hook around the baggie she pulled it out, the bag piercing and spilling a bit of the powder as it slipped through. Moving too quickly to pay attention to who might be watching, she shoved the baggie into her purse along with her lip gloss.

Straightening herself, Gabriella slid her bag back over her shoulder as she dusted off her skirt doing her best to appear nonchalant. Not that it really mattered - the worst that would happen is that she’d have to admit to more bad behavior and hope that her friends trusted her intention. But Gabriella was tired of letting her friends down, of forcing them to give her the benefit of the doubt when she didn’t deserve it. Her hand went to her chest, fingers brushing over the fabric that covered the inner pocket of her jacket. She couldn’t feel the pill but knowing it was there was oddly comforting.

Lauren was scanning the room for her next victim when she spotted Gabriella on her hands and her knees, apparently picking up what she’d dropped out of her handbag. But Lauren also saw her fishing something out of the vent, a telltale little packet from Gabriella’s past; or so she’d have everyone believe. Lauren grinned and sauntered over to her.

“Hello, Gabriella, darling. Do you need any help or did you get everything?” She asked, her trademark wicked smile in place. “That fell out of your bag, I mean,” she added, the clarification entirely false, of course.

Gabriella stiffened at the sound of Lauren’s voice. Of course she would manage to be the one to find Gabriella in this moment. She didn’t even have to question if Lauren saw what Gabriella fished out of the vent, her expression of wicked delight a tell-tale sign. She wasn’t sure how she missed the arrival of the woman, though Jade and Damien had done well at distracting Gabriella from the rest of the party. It wasn’t that much of a surprise she ended up here, Lauren always managed to find a way to ruin things.

“I don’t think anyone needs nor wants help from you, Lauren.” Gabriella’s tone was casual, void of emotion. “Did you need something, or did you just want to insert yourself somewhere you’re not wanted?”

The two were no strangers to arguments, they always would end up in one, one way or another. Gabriella was different now though, Lauren wasn’t going to get a rise out of her. That’s all she wanted, a reaction. Gabriella crossed her arms, looking Lauren over.

Lauren pouted as Gabriella told her that she didn’t need her help, and asked if she needed something. “Come on, Gabriella, can’t I say hello to an old friend? Can’t we say that the past is in the past and move on?” She asked. She knew that Gabriella was unlikely to take her up on that offer; but at least Lauren could say that she’d tried the nice card; and, most importantly, everyone around her had heard her at least trying to be nice.

“Would love to leave the past in the past but she keeps showing up where she’s not invited.” Gabriella rolled her eyes, she knew Lauren’s game. “No one’s falling for your bullshit anymore, Lauren.”

Lauren loved to play a victim. It’s what would lead to everyone yelling at Gabriella asking why she was starting stuff with Lauren. Gabriella never cared what Lauren thought about her, at least not in the same way the others did. She knew Lauren was easier to manage if you just played along. That’s why she hadn’t been thrown out on her ass yet, or at least that’s what Gabriella guessed. However the others already knew she was a piece of shit, and that she was at least trying. What could Lauren have to hold over Gabriella to manipulate her that the other’s didn’t know already. She had nothing to lose, or so she thought..

Well, if Gabriella wasn’t going to play nice, then Lauren wasn’t going to either. She smiled again, taking a step closer to Gabriella and lowering her voice. “Oh, come on now. There’s no need to be like that. We don’t want to have everyone finding out about what you just stashed back in your bag now, do we?” She asked. “How do you think Erin would feel, knowing you stashed drugs in her apartment and left them here, all this time? And after you’ve come this far, I’m sure everyone would be… really sad to hear that you’ve relapsed again. Especially Evie, seeing how you cling to her for support,” she said, her voice just loud enough for Gabriella to hear. “And Jade… well, I’m sure she’d be heartbroken to find out that you’re not getting your supply from her any more.”

“Oh no - what will I do?” Gabriella’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “Everyone will know I have a drug problem, how will I manage?”

People would sooner be pissed at Lauren for outing Gabriella than they would be at the prospect of Gabriella relapsing, at least the people that mattered. Besides, Lauren didn’t want to spill secrets - she wanted to lord it over others head to keep them under their control. Gabriella hadn’t done any drugs and while it didn’t look good to be busted with some on her, she didn’t deserve this bullshit Lauren was trying to spin it into.

Stepping in towards Lauren, Gabriella’s voice dropped an octave denoting the seriousness of her sentiments. “I’m the first person to admit I’ve fucked up, Lauren. You can’t hold my mistakes against me anymore, I own them and I’m trying to make myself a better person - which is more than you can say for yourself.”

It seemed that Gabriella was no longer as easily manipulated as she had been. The frustration was beginning to build inside Lauren, but she was determined not to let it show externally. She just needed to change her tact and approach this from a different angle. She had plenty up her sleeve; she just needed to decide how to use it.

“A better person, you say?” She asked, one eyebrow arching a little bit. “I mean, that’s one way of putting it. What would Mommy and Daddy say if they knew that their precious little darling girl was… well, selling herself?” She asked, increasing the venom in her tone. She needed Gabriella to know that if she so much as dared to try and cross Lauren, she would regret it. “I found out about those little streams of yours. Do you think they’d like to know about that? Have you sold them your lie that you’re a better person now?” She asked, raising an eyebrow ever so slightly.

Gabriella felt a clench in her chest. It’s not like she hadn’t been preparing for this moment. These days people loved to out sex workers just because, sending their family screenshots and links. She knew one day somehow she would face this moment, though for whatever reason she never saw Lauren being the one using it against her. Obviously Gabriella had struck a nerve and now Lauren was lashing out.

“What is your endgame here, Lauren? Do you just want everyone else as miserable as you?” Gabriella’s insult came out as more of a plea. She knew there was no reasoning with Lauren, she would do whatever she wanted regardless of any kind of begging Gabriella could offer. “I don’t know what you even want from me. If you’re just trying to scare me, honestly go ahead and tell them. I’d rather just get this all over with than keep playing these games with you.”

Gabriella’s response reassured Lauren that she still had something of the upper hand over the other woman. It was enough for Lauren to feel like she was, at least, still in control of the situation, and so she allowed her smile to widen a little.

“Oh, darling, I’m not trying to scare you. I’m just making sure that…you don’t try anything. I’ve heard how you’ve already turned Evie, and Soren, and god knows who else, against me. Just consider this… protection. So we can be friends again,” she said, her smile brightening. Her goal, of course, wasn’t to be friends, but to maintain control. Gabriella had always been one of the hardest to keep wrapped around her finger; so if she could keep a hold on her, she stood a better chance of regaining her position at the top of the food chain.

“Turned against you?!” Gabriella laughed, folding her arms as she shook her head. “Lauren, I didn’t have to do anything for people to realize you’re a shitty person. You showed them that all on your own.”

Lauren was tired of trying to play nice. Gabriella was being deliberately difficult, and she wasn’t afraid of Lauren any more. But Lauren knew things about Gabriella that she shouldn’t have known, and it seemed they were going to be the weapons she needed to use to bring the other girl in line and back into Lauren’s control.

“And what about all of those drugs you stole from Erin and her crew, hmmm? I hear that all of those drugs going missing got them in a little bit of trouble. Even got somebody killed,” she said. She had dropped the nice act, and now her voice was low and dangerous; a warning. This was no empty threat. Not any more. Gabriella either needed to be brought in line, or else she needed to be removed as a threat to Lauren. They were the only two solutions left to Lauren now.

It felt like the room went quiet for a moment, a sinking sensation settling in the pit of Gabriella’s stomach that made it difficult to swallow. There was no amount of preparation that could have equipped Gabriella for this bomb. She wanted to deny it, to pretend she didn’t know what Lauren was talking about but she couldn’t. In a way Gabriella felt she deserved this, that she should be called out - that everyone should know what she’d done. Disoriented, she lost her balance for a moment, reaching out for the wall beside her to steady herself.

Immediately her mind asked the question how did she know? The only person who Gabriella had ever admitted her secret to was Jade, and only after excessive amounts of coercion and Jade’s own personal drug cocktail put Gabriella in the most compliant state. She couldn’t imagine Jade would have told Lauren, it gave her too much of an upper hand over Gabriella to share.

“I -” Gabriella opened her mouth to speak, the words immediately faltering. There was nothing she could say, her reaction already gave her away. Denying at this point would just make Lauren angrier.

Suddenly Gabriella felt very alone, shrinking in Lauren’s shadow. It didn’t matter how hard she tried, her past would always come back to haunt her. Lauren was right, Gabriella was a bad person - she just fucked her best friend’s husband in the next room for Christ’s sake! Gabriella might have been able to fool Evie, Soren, Declan and even Dylan - but Lauren saw right through her. Birds of a feather and all that.

Lauren smiled triumphantly as Gabriella stumbled, clinging to the wall. She could see the cogs turning in Gabriella’s head, trying to figure out what had happened, trying to figure out how to react. But she made the right decision by not reacting. Her triumph just soared as Gabriella seemed to consider denying it or rebutting it, and then fell silent.

“I knew you’d see my side of things,” Lauren said. She took a step closer to Gabriella so she could whisper in her ear. “This can be our secret. Nobody else needs to know about it, do they?” She said, before kissing Gabriella on the cheek and walking away, confident in her victory.

Dazed, Gabriella watched as Lauren let herself out onto the balcony. There was nothing left for her to say. As usual, Lauren held all of the cards. Suddenly remembering there was still a party around them, Gabriella looked around to see if anyone was staring. As if the world was working against her, the first familiar face she locked eyes with was Julian - Jade’s older brother.

Gabriella tensed her jaw. She knew exactly how Julian felt about her, that Jade told him it was Gabriella’s drugs that he was busted with. The last thing she needed was his flawed judgement. Gabriella looked away quickly, heading out the front door and onto the street. She turned in a random direction, sending Declan a quick text: suddenly have urge to smoke. going to buy cigs. brb.

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