Chapter 14:

Stockholm Syndrome

One Wish They Never Wanted

"Oh!" Ember and Takuma turned in unified panic to see Amelie staring at them, her mouth badly covered after her gasp. "So this is the 'someone' who was missing their wand?" The fairy nodded and patted her holster, the wand she'd been looking for safely in its place after Takuma had handed it back to her last night. "So...why are you even here, then, little fairy?"

Ember visibly bristled. Only the sounds of people shifting on the reflective black leather seats permeated her awkward silence.

The female fairy stammered incoherently, her face poinsettia red as she jabbed a finger in the direction of the male fairy repeatedly for no reason at all. After she emitted a guttural grumble from the back of her throat, she complained to Amelie, "I heard you were holding on to it. My wand, I mean. Why'd you have it?"

"I found it at the edge of a rainforest while my sister decided to go chasing her favourite celebrity for a day one year ago. She was going to drive back, but then she suddenly became unable to drive and-and-I called the emergency services too late..." At this point, she was at the brink of tears and glaring at the celebrity on her right, which made it painfully obvious exactly who the sister had been trying to pursue. "I don't blame you, though, Kris. I blame myself for not saving her..."

The redhead, who was sandwiched between the two eighteen-year-olds, slid over to the girl and gave her a supportive pat on the back.

"At the time after that, I kept questioning how my life should go. Then, by some stroke of good fortune, I run into someone and soon after, he's my junior worker. Basically, that certain someone broke through and passed through the Gesellschaft part a little too quickly." She smiled plaintively to herself, as if she was trying to laugh for her own pleasure but failing.

"Ge-what?" Takuma

"Business-like relations. It's sociology," the girl summed up quickly, showing no signs of the tears she'd threatened to shed a few moments earlier. At that moment, the limo rolled into a lonely side street so the redhead dragged the boy out to the beauty salon on the other side.
The now-familiar stench of hairspray met Takuma's nose again when the door of the salon opened to reveal a spacious room lined with mirrors on his left and right. Plush chairs faced the mirrors and made a diagonal slope in the back left corner, pointing into a back room with an entrance covered by a wine-red velvet curtain, while as he stepped in his feet made squeaks on the wooden floor.

"It's all on me, so pick whatever look you want," Kris declared when a woman with a chestnut bun pulled a rack of clothing from the back room. The redhead plucked a few products from the table closest to the door they'd just entered through - the make up table, judging by the various brushes and powders covering it - then dashed back out with a wink.

After much deliberation, the boy decided he couldn't try to escape even if he wanted to and begrudgingly settled into the closest seat to do as he was told.

Later, Amelie would have to answer to him and the burning questions he had.
Takuma emerged from the salon a bit red in the face and with his old clothes in a hessian bag slung over one shoulder.

"Alright, Amelie. Why did you have to take me here," he jabbed a finger in the direction of the salon, "when I could have easily handled this myself?" He gestured down at himself to reveal he'd picked a navy suit and a maroon tie, but his angrily exaggerated gestures suggested she'd somehow ruined how he looked when it was the reverse. (If that was possible after his transformation, anyway.)

She shrugged. "Kris's idea. He said it was to pay back for something, but I don't know what he's referring to."

He glared at the redhead for a few seconds, but then gave up and gazed at the floor instead, one hand on his forehead in frustration. " guys scheme way too much for me to comprehend. Just bringing me here was just another attempt to reconcile 'before it's too late', isn't it? Enough of this forced inducement of Stockholm syndrome! Besides, you mentioned exams were after this, so why aren't you at school right now?!" He halted his words so he could catch his breath.

Another shrug from her. "School's almost over for the day anyway, and I know lots of people took the day off for the valedictory anyway," she added briefly. Amelie then retrieved a silver clutch and produced the lilac tickets from it, holding them splayed like a fan - the horrid reminders of why he had to go.

"Give me those!" he cried, reaching out for them, but she pulled them away.