After sitting down and giving it a great deal of thought, Miley finally decided that maybe getting stuck in a hotel was not the worst thing to happen to her in this week. Not only was she now far away from the all-seeing eye of the media and the paparazzi, she could now do everything—well, almost everything—that she ever wanted to do without looking over her shoulder and trying to see if there was someone keeping an eye on her for whatever reason. She had felt very much like a bird cooped up in its cage during her stay at her father's house in Malibu, and she couldn't even talk to her friends except over the phone, and everyone knew that NSA listened in on everyone's conversations these days.

Sure, there were still a few things that hadn't changed when Miley swapped Malibu for Cabot Dobson's Hotel California. She couldn't step out of the hotel, just like how she couldn't step out of the house in Malibu, but the reasons for it were different, though. Miley couldn't step out of the house in Malibu because of the press waiting outside, and it was almost the same thing in the hotel. Theo Brabant and Cory Baxter wanted Miley to stay inside the hotel so that she wouldn't end up doing anything stupid that the press could pick up and run with. The head honchos of Cash Airlines also wanted Miley to be in just one place so that they would always know where she was, and that she could be picked up quickly and immediately once it was time for her to face the NTSB.

There were actually a lot of things that she could do in the hotel. Miley thought that she would get bored in the hotel almost immediately after she set foot in it, but Miley had come to realize that this was false when she was already on her third 4-D movie in the hotel's own miniature cinema theatre. There was also a gaming room, a gambling hall, three swimming pools, and a bungee jump, among other things, in Hotel California to keep its guests entertained. By the night before Miley was supposed to testify before the NTSB, Miley had seen about fifteen movies, won and lost over 3600 dollars in the gambling hall, swum seventy laps in the pools, and jumped the equivalent of two Hotels California with the bungee jump.

The only problem that Miley had with her "hotel confinement" was the fact that she couldn't drink any alcoholic drinks for the duration of her stay. She honestly thought that this was a shit condition for her stay in the hotel because she wasn't that much of an alcoholic and alcohol didn't have anything to do with the crash of Flight 4892 in her opinion. Still, three days after she had gone to stay at the hotel, she had not once had the urge to drink some alcohol, although there were times which she needed some alcohol of the rubbing kind to dress a few scratches.

It was the end of a day that had felt both too long and too short at the same time. Miley felt light as she boarded the elevator that would take her to her suite. She'd gone into the casino with 2000 dollars and left with only 600 bucks left in her pocket. She greeted the girl manning the elevator and nodded her head. During her three-day stay at the hotel, Miley and the girl had gotten to know each other very well. The two of them talked until the elevator finally arrived on Miley's floor, when Miley got off and said goodbye. She took out her keycard and inserted it into the proper slot, waiting a few moments for the light to turn from red to green, before opening the door and going in.

"Finally!" she muttered as she plopped down on the couch and lifted her feet up onto the table. Just a few hours from now, she was going to be out of this place and testifying in front of the National Transportation Safety Board and giving her version of the events leading to the crash of Cash Airlines Flight 4892.

Miley undressed and stepped into the shower. It was during moments like these that she liked going naked into a small glass cubicle, turning the faucet and letting rivulets of water flow down her body as she gathered her thoughts. She already had her testimony ready and waiting for tomorrow, and all she had to do was run over the events as she remembered them and then string them together into a logical timeline of events. Once that was dealt with, her part in the drama would be over, and she could now wait for the next time that Cash Airlines would call her up for a flight.

When she felt herself getting sleepy, Miley stepped out of the shower, towelled herself dry, and slipped into comfortable night clothes. Just as she was about to climb into bed, however, she noticed that one of the doors in the bedroom was slightly open. Miley was just about to close the door when she noticed that the door led to the suite beside hers. "What in the world?" she muttered as she stepped into the neighbouring suite. The other room was empty, and Miley couldn't remember trying to open this door, so it must have been one of the maids or the cleaners who had left this door unlocked.

Miley ventured deeper into the room. There was indeed no one inside, as someone would have definitely made their presence known once she had stepped inside. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she saw that she was inside the suite's kitchenette. And then she saw, very clearly, the dull metallic gleam of the minibar. Miley tiptoed over to the minibar and opened it. It was stocked to the brim with drinks ranging from Pepsi to Perrier every other drink which name started with P. Miley suddenly noticed that her throat was very, very dry, and she had to take a deep breath to collect her thoughts. It had been three days since she had drunk her last alcoholic drink, and while she wasn't a chronic drinker, a bottle or two did help her get through the day.

"Oh, man," Miley said to herself. "Oh, my God. Sweet nibblets!" She clapped her hand over her mouth and began breathing deeply. "Okay, Miles, get a grip," she said to herself. "You've lasted three whole days without a single drop of this stuff. You don't need to break the fast tonight."

"Eh, one drink won't hurt," she finally conceded, and she reached in and took out a small bottle of Finlandia vodka. She unscrewed the cap on the bottle and tipped her head back to drink.


It was still early morning in Los Angeles when a Declasse Voodoo with a metallic purple paintjob pulled up to the lobby of the Hotel California, and two men dressed in sharp suits stepped out of the car. One of the men, the driver, handed over the keys to a waiting valet, and the two men then made their way into the hotel. They called up the elevator and waited patiently while the car took them to the twenty-seventh floor.

"Based on what I heard from my contact within the investigation, the NTSB is still convinced that pilot incapacitation played, if not a major role, then a minor one in causing the crash of Flight 4892," Thomas Bagration said to Cory Baxter. "To be honest, I must have set off all kinds of alarm bells when I had the pilots' blood test results inadmissible in court, but that's the price you pay in my line of work."

"Think about it from the NTSB's point of view, man," Cory said. "Why would an airline make all this effort to invalidate the blood test results of a single pilot if she didn't have anything to do with the crash? It's not the smartest of decisions from Brabant, but the man's really convinced that the ATC is at fault and that the controller should hang for this instead of one of his own pilots. He wants to convince the NTSB of that too, which is why he's spouting off such bullshit like Miley's elevated blood alcohol count serving only to, quote, 'distract the investigation', end quote, from determining the true cause of the crash."

"He's certainly not doing a good job of convincing them if he goes about it this way," Bagration said.

"Amen, man," Cory said. "Well, you know Brabant, Tommy. "Once he's convinced of something, it's as good as gospel, and he'll go through hell and high water to preach his word to the people."

The elevator pinged when they arrived at their destination. Cory led the way and then used his own keycard to unlock and open the door to Miley's room. "Hey, Miley!" he called out. "Girl, you here?"

"Are you sure that this is the right room?" Bagration asked in a whisper.

"Of course I'm sure it's her room," Cory retorted. Then, in a louder voice, he called out again, "Miley! I've got someone who wants to talk to you, girl! Help me find her, man!" he told Bagration.

"All right, man, no need to be bossy," Bagration said as they ventured deeper into the room. He entered the bedroom, where he saw that the bed appeared unused. "That's strange," he muttered to himself. Then he edged open the door to the bathroom, which was slightly ajar. What he saw inside shocked him to the core. "Cory!" he called out. "Come here now!"

"Why? What is it?" Cory asked as he made his way to the bedroom, and then he saw what had made Bagration all shaken up. "Holy shit!"

Miley Stewart was lying on the floor of the bathroom, her head resting on the cold porcelain of the toilet seat. Bits of vomitus were still scattered inside and around the bowl of the toilet, having survived repeated attempts at flushing. She was wearing nothing but a white tank top and pink panties, but this escaped the notice of the two men.

"Miley! What the hell happened to you?" Cory shouted. Miley tried to reply, but all that came out of her mouth was an unintelligible groaning and mumbling.

"Tom! Quick! Help me get her out of here!" Cory put his arms under Miley's armpits while Bagration grabbed her ankles. Together, the two of them took Miley into the bedroom, where they laid her down on the bed. "Miley, hey, Miles," Cory called out to her. "Can you hear me?"

"Call…" Miley finally said clearly.

"Call who?"

"Call… Gibby."

"Who's Gibby?"

"Phone. Tell him… situation."

"Ah, shit," Cory muttered as he rubbed his eyes vigorously. "Who the fuck is Gibby? Fuck this shit!"

As Cory rummaged around the room looking for Miley's phone, Tom Bagration said, "I think I know why our friend got smashed last night."

"Oh, what is it now?" Cory asked in an exasperated tone.

"Take a look at this," Bagration said as he led Cory to the door connecting the two suites. The lawyer opened the door, revealing a cluttered mess of empty and half-empty bottles of liquor from the minibar in the suite beside Miley's. "She must have boozed herself to sleep," he said.

"Who the fuck unlocked the connecting door, man?" Cory asked. "His ass is going to get sacked once I get my hands on his name!"

"Well, for what it's worth, I don't think he or she, whoever he or she really is, matters to us the most right now," Bagration said. "We can't bring Captain Stewart to the NTSB looking like this. She's got freaking vodka and Famous Grouse coming out of her pores, goddamn it! She's going to tear the whole case apart!"

"Looks like there's only one thing that we can do now," Cory said in agreement. "Call this Gibby guy."

Cory finally managed to find Miley's phone buried beneath a pile of her clothes. He searched for Gibby on her contacts list and, once he found the name, called the number.

"Hey, Miley, my girl, whassup!" a boisterous voice said from the other end of the line. "Haven't heard from you for like, three days already! You looking to hook up some quality Colombian?"

Cory took a deep breath before speaking up. "Are you Gibby?" he finally asked.

There was a noticeable pause before the other guy spoke up again. "Who the fuck is this!?" he asked back, his voice no longer as boisterous or jovial as before. "Who the hell is Gibby? Why the fuck do you have my friend's phone?"

"Gibby, relax," Cory said. "This is Cory Baxter of Cash Airlines speaking. I'm a friend of Miley's."

"Oh, really? Are you now?"

"Look, enough of this bullshit, okay? Miley's currently in a situation right now, and she asked me to call you so I could tell you that she's currently in a situation. Got that?"

"A situation, eh? Where the hell are you?"

"The Hotel California, right between Hollywood and Vinewood."

"I'll be there in twenty."

However, it was thirty minutes before Cory and Bagration heard a knocking on the door. "Who is it?" Cory called out.

"It's Gibby! You called me, like, thirty minutes ago."

"What took you so long, man?" Cory asked as he opened the door. A short and chubby man with a boyish face, a loud yellow Hawaiian shirt, and carrying a large gym bag barged his way into the room. "It's a combination of the notorious LA traffic and me scoping the place to make sure this isn't a cop sting. All right, somebody clear up that table for me," he commanded. "It's time to work that famous Gibby Gibson magic."

"Are you Gibby?" Bagration asked.

"What's it to ya?" Gibby said in reply.

"Nothing, just asking," Bagration said, raising his arms to his chest in defense.

Gibby laid down his gym bag in the middle of the table and took out a Ziploc bag containing a suspicious white powder. He poured out a small amount of the powder on the table and, using a credit card, arranged the powder into six small neat rows. "Just arrived from Mitu," he said more to himself than to anyone else. "They make some of the best product in the world." He rolled up a dollar bill and put one end of the tube into his nostril and the other end above a row of cocaine. "Let's do a test run," he said.

Gibby snorted the line of coke in one long breath. He leaned back to let the drugs be absorbed by his system, and he sniffed once and wiped his nose, and then he said, "Oh, that shit is really, really good. Bring Miles out; she should try this shit 'cause this is the shit."

Cory shook Miley to a state of wakefulness, which was just enough to get her walking with some help from the bedroom over to the living room. There, he sat her down in front of the table, right in front of the lines of coke. "Try it, Miles," Gibby told her. "It's the best Colombian you'll ever gonna sniff."

"If you say so…" Miley took the rolled-up dollar bill from Gibby and snorted the second line of coke. "Hoo-wee!" she shouted suddenly. "Whoa, there! Oh, yeah!"

"Great," Tom Bagration muttered to Cory. "Now we're to bring a drunken drug addict of a pilot to the NTSB."

"At least she's awake and conscious," Cory said.

"Not an alcoholic, my ass," Bagration muttered. "She's a functioning alcoholic and addict, that's what she is."

"Hey!" Gibby called out. "You guys need a little something something for yourselves?"

"You got some Mary Jane in that bag of yours, man?" Cory asked. "My family's got a history of glaucoma, you know… better safe than sorry, I always say."

"No pot brownies right now, man, sorry," Gibby said. "But I do have some of the real thing. Got it from a secret farm over in New York." He brought out another Ziploc bag which contained leaves. "You don't mind making your own joints, do you?"

"Just give me the good stuff, man," Cory said. "I can handle this. I've done this before."

"How about you, man?" Gibby asked Bagration. "Can I help you at all?"

"No thanks, I'm good," Bagration replied with a shake of the head.

"I got some hashish and a hookah if you're into that sort of thing."

"Like I said, no thanks." As Bagration leaned back on the couch and watched his companions take in all sorts of drugs, he turned to Cory, who was already halfway through his joint, and said, "Theo Brabant is going to need a lot more help than this if he wants things to go his way."

"True that, Tommy, true that," Cory said from behind some aromatic smoke.