Alexa's arm winds around his Cherry's waist.
"Vicky, darling, it's marvelous," she breathes, eyes sliding past to give David the look. The one that asks why he is even allowed to exist. He gives her a dimpled grin.
Alexa ignores him, because she's no fun, and squeezes Cherry's waist. The two gaze at the shows masterpiece - a seven by eight foot canvas, adorned with a huge lily-flower, thick petals sprawling out to the edges, curling, tattered and threaded with rich, bleeding veins.
"Breath-taking," Alexa says, adding a small gasp, incase words alone did not do it justice. "How did you get the rusted colour for the veiny bits?"
Cherry's red-stained mouth stretches into her cat-like grin.
"By spending a bloody age colour-mixing."
"Well, it was worth it," Alexa says. "It's got a real magnetism. I can't quite say why, but-"
She stops short, and David realises that the attention is now on him.
"Is he alright?" Alexa asks Cherry, glancing at David's fingers buried in the crook of his elbow, scratching with absent-minded abandon.
He hadn't even realised. He stops, and pulls his hand out from his rolled up shirt sleeve.
"I'm fine," he says. "It's just some old mosquito bites. The bastards really have it in for me."
Alexa's eyebrows raise, and another familiar look comes onto her face. It's not easy to read, but he reckons it's scathing.
"I can't imagine why."
Alexa inclines her head to the show-stopper, and with a plastic smile asks: "What do you think, David?"
David turns to the painting, and looks. He draws in a deep breath, and lets it go, slowly - a breath to accompany deep and profound thought.
"I think it's a canvas with some paint on it."
He waits for the explosion, but it doesn't come. He knew he'd get nothing from Alexa, but his Cherry should have gone off with a bang.
This was her master-piece, her life's blood. This girl had trashed entire rooms for lesser slights. Punched walls, screamed her lungs raw, run into moving traffic, all because he said the right thing, in the right way, at the right time. His own, personal, cherry-bomb.
Now, she only smiles.
Alexa rolls her eyes, and takes her leave. As she melts into the crowd, Cherry slips her arm around David's and says, "Really now, what do you think?"
That it's a canvas with some paint on it.
"It's very pretty," David says, in the most condescending tone he can muster.
Her smile only grows wider.
"I'm so glad you think so," she says, giving his arm a light squeeze. "There isn't just a lot of me in there, you know. There's a lot of you too."
The movement of his shirt beneath her hand irritates the punctures inside his arm. He frowns.
When she leaves him to find more drinks, the frown is still there, fixed upon the veins that thread through the painted petals.