#46: Old Friends

"Hey, Blondie. My boobs are bigger and better than yours. Keep getting in my way, and I will rip those tacky extensions right out of your head."

Images by Stubbornstain

Alicia guffawed, slapping her thigh. "Wow. So perfect! You even did the accent!"

"I picked it up while we were still roommates in college," Sydney said, reclining in the plush corner armchair—typically inhabited by Whitley—her blue cotton jersey dress hugging her hourglass curves. She sipped her drink again, not yet having set it down. "I had to modify it over the years as she stopped lengthening her vowels."

"You were giving me a complex about it," Krysta muttered.

"And now you're more demographically versatile. You're welcome."

"What are friends for?" Krysta said, rolling her eyes.

Fresh off her Friday evening webcam show—more topless, less tutoring on weekends—Krysta had come downstairs to find Alicia dressed in full cosplay as Kale from Dragon Ball Super ("I need to spend time in it for stress testing!") which was neither unexpected nor surprising. Next to Alicia in the armchair sat Sydney Lorainne, webcam-model-turned-Instagram-star and Krysta's  former college roommate. The three split a large order of Hawaiian takeout, accompanied by drinks. Krysta had a light pinot noir, Sydney an extra-dry martini, and Alicia hot chocolate with Kahlua. Full and buzzed, the trio moved on to critiquing proofs from Krysta's recent DreamGirls photo shoot.

"What's the deal with those vases in the background?" Alicia asked. "Now that I noticed them I can't stop looking at them."

"Hey, Krysta. 80s porn called, they want their panties back."

"Seriously, it looks like Lexie is balancing a bowling pin on her shoulder."

"And Krysta's like 'Ooooooh! Thas impressiiiiiive!'"

"Hey!" Krysta said. "I asked for feedback, not MST2k-style commentary. You just have to say 'keep' or 'trash.'"

"Keep," Sydney and Alicia said in unison.

"Thank you. Okay, next picture."

"What is with that face?" 

"Alicia, these are the proofs. They won't all be perfect." Krysta adjusted her glasses, frowning as she studied the image of herself. "Oh, wow, okay. I have no idea. Maybe I was saying something?"

"Saying something like 'Oooooh, Lexie! You wan som of dees liiiips?'" Alicia giggled as she bounced on the workout ball a few times before pausing to adjust her wig. "And, yeah, Krysta. You totally should have kissed her. That would have been so hot."

"The girl's not wrong," Sydney said. "But I know you would not have been game for it."

"Even if I had been," Krysta said, "Marla nixed it—not the flavor they're going for. I think it had come up before I even got there."

"Understandable," Sydney said. "Once you go there you open up a whole new can of worms…" Sydney paused, seemed to consider elaborating, but decided against it. "But yes, a curvy, leggy blonde making out with a super busty Asian chick certainly would have been something." Sydney took a sip of her drink. "I would have kissed her."

"I definitely would have kissed her!" Alicia said.

"Okay. Trash it is," Krysta grumbled.

"I didn't say that," Alicia said. "It's not a bad look for you."

"But not the most flattering for either of you," Sydney said. "Trash."

"Thank you. So, here is the last of this group."

"Ooooh! I like!" Alicia gushed. "You work off each other well here. Good angles for both of you too."

Sydney nodded in agreement. "They certainly got you to kick up your smolder a notch. I'm impressed."
Krysta leaned forward, studying the photo. "It is not too out of character, is it?"

"Ha! 'Out of character,' she says. Krys, you will never change. Always guarded about your image."

"I learned from you."

"That's what scares me," Sydney said, finishing her second martini and beginning preparations for her third. "I'm with you, Alicia. It's a great shot. Good photoshoot overall. Your fans will love it." Sydney turned to Alicia. "Speaking of fans, Alicia, what do you have in the works? I know Coastside Con is coming up."

"Be warned, she has a lot of sketches," Krysta said.

"I'd expect nothing less," Sydney said, moving to the couch. "Let's see."

Alicia eagerly brought up images saved on her phone, and Sydney listened as Alicia described her plans for several costumes in detail. Sydney had no particular interest in cosplay, but she knew Alicia lived for it. If an opportunity existed for Sydney to do Alicia a favor, she would find it. Everyone owed Sydney a favor; she had a talent for accruing such dues. In fact, Sydney would have been the first to admit she'd built her career on exchanged favors. She was skilled with networking, and much of her early success came from soliciting social media mentions from her peers  

For Sydney, having the resourceful Alicia in her debt would be a gem. Between the cosplay community, bodybuilding community, and—recently—Southeast Asian Entertainment community, Alicia had influential connections in circles where Sydney had few. Unfortunately, Alicia's outstanding debts were to Krysta, which was of no help to Sydney.

Alicia saw in Sydney a confident, socially adept version of herself. Where she had built her body with weights, Sydney flexed her finely tuned social muscles. In contrast to her playful, carefree personality on social media, Sydney was confident and direct in-person. Despite her apprehension about Sydney, however, Alicia appreciated anyone showing interest in her work, whatever the motive.

Krysta, meanwhile, was keen to enjoy the conversational jousting match unfolding before her. Alicia was as suspicious to what Sydney wanted as Sydney was determined to know what Alicia needed.

"Incredible work," Sydney said, studying Alicia's costume. "I'm particularly impressed with what you've done with the wig."

"Are you thinking of going to the con? I could make you a killer Poison Ivy."

"Oh...no. I just admire good work when I see it!"

"Thanks! It's not perfect though. Modding wigs is not my specialty."

"You know, I know a stylist who could help with—"

"—fortunately I'm sponsored by Dynamo Wigs, and they've set me up with an on-site stylist who will be at their booth at Coastside Con."

Sydney forced a smile. "Wow! That's awesome! Are you set up for transportation? I have some Uber codes you can—"

"Krysta's my handler this year, and Whitley will be driving. Even then, I've got a ton of discount codes for Lyft and Uber. I also have a friend who offered me his Sailor Moon itasha for the weekend."


"Oh, they're SO awesome. People trick out their cars with anime decals and designs. They are super cute. I’m tempted to take him up on it since it's a Scion XB and I have a lot of props to bring. But Whitley said she would take us in her SUV, and that thing is HUGE."

"You sound like you're all set."

"And more! Oh! Let me show you a cosplay I've already got in the pipeline for next year."

Sydney finished her martini in one gulp. "Sure."

After fifteen minutes, an emotionally exhausted Sydney excused herself to prepare martini number four. Alicia went upstairs and returned wearing a custom-made Charmander kigurumi over her Kale cosplay. Planting herself back on the couch, she gave Krysta and Sydney a wave before popping on her cat-ear headphones and transitioning into her standard Friday night routine: checking social media and guest chatting on a few live streams while watching anime in a split screen window. Sydney was amused by the joyfully voracious expression frozen on Alicia's face.

"Wow, Alicia, you sure know how to—"

"She cannot hear you," Krysta said, tilting her head towards Alicia. "I know that look. She may as well exist outside the time stream."

"Quite the enigma she is."

"You do not need to tell me. I live with her."

"Yes, her and that sporty giantess. I'd like to meet her sometime."

"And recommend, let me guess, a custom clothing retailer recently started by a friend of yours in Sacramento who does mail orders and special sizes?"

Sydney tried to hide her surprise at Krysta's correct guess. "Did I tweet about it?"


"You win this round, DinDin," Sydney said, sitting down carefully, to avoid spilling her fresh martini. "Do you think normal friendships involve this much subversive treachery?"

"They do, but most people are not as good at it. It is why we have so few friends." Krysta emptied the remaining wine from the bottle into her empty glass. "So, paid club appearances now?"

"With the webcam traffic I was pulling and my increasingly risqué shows, it was either dive head-on into porn or turn back. I was getting a lot of offers, and with my webcam funds plateauing, they were starting to look attractive."

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…"

"Yes, and I chose the one that would not lead to bi-monthly STD testing. While sorting through a deluge of Instagram DMs about escorting, I got a paid party offer from a club owner I knew in San Francisco. I accepted, did some research, and crushed the gig. Some more offers followed, and before long I had a new weekend gig and entirely replaced webcamming with Snapchat and Instagram live."

"And you want me to join you tomorrow, because—"

"I get a bonus based on their drink sales, and you'll bring in $200 of top-shelf drink orders without even trying."

"For the record. I do not owe you a favor."

"No, but you want to go, so it doesn't matter."

Krysta frowned, before cracking a smile. "Lying would do me no good. I suppose law school has been kicked further down the road, then?"

"Law school will always be there, and I'm not about to quit my paralegal gig. I need the benefits."

"Did your 'benefits' cover those," Krysta said, gesturing at Sydney's breasts, which sat high and round on her chest. "Or did you need the tax write-off?"

"Why yes, I did give my business essentials a tax-deductible upgrade. Thank you for noticing!"

"They would be impossible not to notice."

"Would you like to touch them?"

"No, thank you."

"Can I touch yours?"

"No, Sydney."

"Aw, but I'm feeling nostalgic, and they're certainly bigger than I remember!"

"No, and, for God's sake, not in front of this one," Krysta whispered, pointing at Alicia.

Sydney smiled. "I thought she couldn't hear us."

Krysta shut her laptop and stood up. "Okay, time for you to go. Use one of your discount codes and call yourself an Uber. I'll see you tomorrow at four for hair and makeup."

"But I was hoping I could stay here! Julie said she was expecting company this evening, which I took for her wanting the place to herself because she expected to get laid."

Alicia squeaked, and both girls looked over. Alicia's eyes remained glued to the screen.

"Huh," Krysta said, taking her laptop under her arm. "Well, I guess you can stay here. We don't have a spare bedroom anymore, but the living room couch folds out."

"Or I could sleep with y—"


Sydney reached behind the chair and extracted an overnight bag. "Fine! I'll follow you up, though. I need to take off my makeup."

"If you come into my room, I will mace you."

"Jeez, DinDin, we really need to work on that sense of humor of yours."

Sydney followed Krysta up the stairs. Alicia removed her headphones and listened for the sound of the doors shutting upstairs. Alone, Alicia waited for a few minutes before picking up her phone and sending a quick text.

Hey Percy-kun. You want company?

Percy replied within seconds.

Will you be coming in cosplay?

Alicia grinned.

Hopefully, but that's more up to you  

Alicia shut her laptop and headed up to her room. Pulling off her onesie, she re-adjusted her ensemble in the mirror. After some internal debate, she removed her costume boots and the wig as well. Shaking out her hair, she wrapped it in a high ponytail and changed into her running shoes for the ten-minute jog to Percy's apartment. Alicia was not going to chance being the only one not getting laid tonight.