Lavender slipped to the floor, edged between two security guards like boulders of a Celtic circle, glanced up at them warily as though they might prevent her passing. The crowd shoved up and over the barricades as she neared, a living wave magnetized to her, and she leaned into the nest of grasping, longing hands as she continued with her song. Bodyguards quivered in readiness. She squeezed hands, caressed them, taking as many as she could, more and more. Fingertips sought purchase on her arms, her sides; they pressed upon her breasts, wanting to verify her solidity. They hesitantly touched her face. At any moment she could have been carried away. Girls and boys wept at her presence, singing with her. She braved the rush of desire, intent on her performance, seeming unaffected, vampiric. She reached the verse's end. The band continued to play behind her. Lavender took a moment to truly regard her audience, trying to meet hundreds of eyes at once. She smiled gently, blinking, and those in her midst saw a tear run down one cheek, then the other. The screams became mindless, animal; they could not have said how long the moment lasted. Then she unmeshed her arms from theirs, taking two steps backwards, not freeing her watchers until she reached the stage and vaulted onto it.