Caine drags everyone along to the Ball - only for them to witness Sente's arrest. Kurt goes on a bender, Violet screams at the police, and Caine takes Scarlett back home and looks after her... and has a romantic near-miss.
Alcohol. A blessing and a curse. A relaxant and a depressant. I've had so many great times after a drink or two, only to forget them by the morning. Hate that. And last night, I saw again the positive and negative sides of drunkenness with glaring clarity, as well as the pros and cons of sobering up.
I managed to pressgang Scarlett and Kurt into coming out with us to the Ball. Deep down, I told them, they'd regret it afterwards if they hadn't gone. So the four of us turned up at the Academy in our glad-rags, mostly with faces like wet fish, and made our way straight to the bar.
All started well. We took the edge off our thirst and Kurt began to relax - even if relaxation meant him 'finally saying what he thought' about certain members of the CRT. I played along. Scarlett downed her first two pretty fast, but halfway through her third, I heard her laugh for the first time in forever.
That was the moment, the peak. When Scarlett laughed, I really felt like I'd done a good thing. Kurt and her sister knew it too, seeing her smile and knowing that this could all get better, that everything could be overcome, forgotten, consigned to the past. Just one laugh, and we all felt stronger.
Then the cops arrived. There was no way to be discreet, but they didn't need to stage the whole arrest so publicly. Every journalist in town was there, along with every dignitary and everyone who has ever respected Sente - including his family. Scarlett dissolved. She put her hand to her mouth and let out this silent scream, this gasp that sucked the air right out of her. It looked like she was suffocating, and she grabbed my arm and slid down it as her knees went, and the tears started, and her father was marched away.
Her sister yelled them all the way out of the hall. She messaged me later from the station. Some poor duty officer must have been wishing he'd switched shifts.
Kurt stood back and watched it happen, a bit glazed already, and I think that's the point at which his intake accelerated.
I didn't hang around for long. The party atmosphere had kind of dissolved when the host was led away in cuffs, and Scarlett was a mess, so the pair of us left Kurt to it and headed back to mine, to wait for more word from the station.
Scarlett... she's a sweet kid. She poured herself another drink (a large one), which she hiccupped down, and we crashed on the couch for a while, talking and mumbling and then not talking at all. She looked up into my face, close, and I could taste her breath. Sweet, but sweet with liquor. She stayed there, craning up at me. I was maybe just a drink short of leaning down.
I stroked her hair and she went to sleep after a while.
Like I said: a blessing and a curse.