He didn’t know where he was this time. It was all white again, until the background exploded with color and sound. It was a field, filled with flowers and freshly cut grass. In the distance stood a tall building that looked like a palace. Laughter and birds chirping wafted on the breeze, along with the scent of jasmine and lavender. Thinking that perhaps he’d get information to help him, he walked toward the sound of the laughter.
A girl with pink hair wearing a white dress ran up to him. She giggled, then ran circles around him. A small cat followed behind her. Frowning, he paused gingerly, since he was barefoot and confused. But the girl stopped and smiled up at him and he smiled back.
“Are you lost?” asked the girl.
“I think I might be,” he said with a nervous laugh. “It seems that I’m new to this place. Could you tell me where I am?”
“Oh! That’s easy. You’re in Crystal Tokyo. It’s the thirtieth century and today’s my birthday.” She held out a hand. “I’m Chibi-Usa!”
He shook her hand, finding that he wasn’t able to deny her charm. “Nice to meet you, Chibi-Usa. My name is—”
Chibi-Usa’s giggle cut him off. “I know who you are, silly! We all know who you are!” She tilted her head as he looked at her with a perplexed look. “But do you know who you are?”
He just looked at her thoughtfully without speaking. He didn’t know how to answer that. And just what was the correct response for such a question, especially from a charming little girl in a charming little dress?
A yell saved him from answering. “Chibi-Usa-chan!”
Chibi-Usa sobered. “I have to go.” She turned to run, then looked back at him. “Sayonara, Orlando-ojisama! Don’t forget to find out who you are!”
Orlando’s eyes widened. He watched as the pink-haired girl ran into the arms of a blonde wearing a tiara and a white dress similar to her daughter’s. Her warm blue eyes locked with his a moment, then the blaring of Sheryl Crow’s “A Change Would Do You Good” seemingly from the sky rendered the scene white.
When Orlando came awake, he wasn’t sweating this time, but he was just as confused.
A change (a change would do you) would do you good
A change would do you good
I think a change (a change would do you) would do you good
A change would do you good
God’s little gift is on the rag—
Orlando snapped off his alarm clock radio. It was a little after eight. Before he bolted out of bed to get ready for work, he realized that school was canceled for the day due to a holiday. He couldn’t remember what the holiday was, but he was thankful for it anyway.
The dream hadn’t been as disturbing as the one with the fire, but it was just as confusing. Perhaps it was a sign of the times…whatever times that would be. Perhaps it was the teaching gig. Perhaps that was making him crazy. Perhaps… Orlando sighed. Dammit, he should just forget it. Dreams were figments of people’s imaginations, and this was nothing. It didn’t deserve to be analyzed like it was important. Sure, dreams could be analyzed, but he wasn’t going to bother with it.
With that, he got out of bed and walked to the bathroom. He undressed, then turned the taps on.
After a few minutes of bliss with nothing but hot water and steam to occupy his mind, he stepped out of the shower. He grabbed a towel and dried off. He then turned to the mirror and wiped away the steam—
And then he yelped.
“What the—?!” Orlando jumped back when he saw a pair of brown eyes staring at him in the mirror that weren’t his. “I really need to see a professional about this…”
The sound of a woman’s voice added to his chagrin. “Well, I hate to disappoint you, but you’re only going to waste your money. The only person that can help you is you.”
Fed up, Orlando glared at the mirror. “At this point, I seriously doubt that. I’m having crazy dreams, and now I’m hearing voices. I’m a complete nutter!”
When Orlando looked in the mirror again, the face with the fiery brown eyes was gone. He sighed, and prayed for sanity, as he vowed to get the hell out of his apartment before he completely lost his mind.
* * *
Usagi’s voice broke Minako away from her milkshake. Jennifer looked up and frowned. Minako, Usagi, and Jennifer had decided to venture out to the Moon Spot to escape the heaviness of the control room at Cat HQ.
Danie’s condition had not worsened or improved. In the thirty-six plus hours that she had been incubated, nothing had happened. While some of the Senshi chose to stay nearby, the three of them had opted to get some fresh air. Not much conversation had ensued among the three, but Usagi wanted to break the silence. She was getting kind of antsy, to tell the truth. She hated the heavy quiet that had fallen.
“Do you think Danie-chan’s going to be alright?” Usagi asked.
Jennifer sighed. She hated to think that one of her beloved cousins was in such a condition, but it was how it was, and she couldn’t change it, not with all the sleep charms and insomnia spells in the world.
“I don’t know, Usagi-chan,” she replied. “I hope she does. I…” She sniffled. “I’d really like her to be at my wedding and all…” Minako patted her shoulder as she worked herself up to full steam. “It’s all so frustrating.”
“We understand,” Minako told her. “It’s all so stressful. So many things going wrong…”
Jennifer wiped at her eyes. “It’s not just Danie. It’s Trowa, too. He’s…” A ghost of a smile appeared on her face. “He’s been so sweet since he proposed but…” She shook her head. “I know that a part of him aches to share it with someone other than Heero, Duo, Quatre, and Wufei. His sister has disowned him for being in love with me, so it seems that he has no real family to speak of.” Jennifer picked up her napkin and crumbled it up in her hand. “He has no blood, you guys. His parents are dead. And… I already mentioned how Catherine feels about me.”
Usagi thumped the table with a determined fist and climbed to her feet. Minako and Jennifer could only look at her, awed, as she stood over them.
“No!” she declared. “We cannot give up. We will find Trowa’s relatives, and they will be at the wedding!”
“Usagi…” Jennifer began softly.
Minako shielded her face as others shifted to look at them. “Usagi-chan—quiet down! People are looking at us…”
“I don’t care! I will not have one of my friends unhappy on the best day of her life.” Usagi turned and climbed out of the booth. She drifted toward the bathrooms. “I, Usagi Tsukino, will complete this mission and—”
Usagi, triumphant in her promise and the feeling it gave her to help someone else, had not noticed a tall young man, who appeared quite distracted himself, with curling brown hair walking nearby with a tray. Usagi cried out and the two crashed into each other (not exactly in that order). Jennifer and Minako watched the scene with wide eyes. Jennifer covered her eyes and sighed.
Usagi turned and tried to apologize to the perplexed young man, in rapid Japanese no less, but she slipped on his drink and knocked him over. They fell on the tile in a pile of arms and legs.
Jennifer uncovered her eyes and gingerly walked toward bedlam.
“Usagi-chan…?” Jennifer began.
Meanwhile, Usagi was trying to disentangle herself from the guy and was finding it difficult. She didn’t know that she and the guy were attached; one of the stray threads in the guy’s shirt had gotten caught in the zipper of Usagi’s jacket. With her eyebrows knitted together in concentration, she leapt to her feet proudly when—
Jennifer’s cornflower blue eyes widened.
Minako appeared at that moment to look. Her eyes bugged out when she saw fully-formed male pectorals exposed.
“Um, I think that was his shirt, Usagi-chan,” Jennifer remarked.
Usagi turned to peer at the guy, who was red with embarrassment. Jennifer offered a hand to help the guy up. Minako discarded her jacket to cover his exposed skin (even though it was apparent that she—and many of the other women surrounding—was quite enamored with the sight of his body, which should have been of no surprise given that he was extremely toned).
“Oh my, are you okay?” Jennifer asked him.
Minako gazed at his ass. The guy jumped when she pulled off some of the hamburger bun had gotten branded on his backside when he and Usagi fell to the floor.
“Um, thanks,” he said, still appearing quite shocked. “I’m alright. Just a bit…” He turned to look at Usagi, who was picking food bits from her blond hair, and his expression changed. “Flummoxed.”
“Flummoxed?” Jennifer frowned.
Usagi felt his eyes on her. She looked up at him, and for a moment, nothing happened. The look in the guy’s eyes could not be read. Jennifer had the slightest feeling that something odd was going on…
In the next instant, the guy hastily gave Minako back her jacket. “I think I should go,” he murmured.
Jennifer and Minako watched him walk past with bemusement. Usagi rushed after him as one of the employees came out to clean up the mess. Wanting to make sure Usagi didn’t make a fool out of herself, Minako and Jennifer rushed after her.
Outside, the guy was at his car and preparing to put on another shirt. Usagi was running for the car and yelling.
“Gomen nasai,” she began. “I didn’t mean to trip you. I hope you’re not hurt. Are you really okay?”
Jennifer and Minako watched as the guy pulled the shirt over his head and got into the car. Before he had pulled the shirt over his head, Minako noticed a strange mark on the guy’s shoulder. He reassured Usagi that he was okay, then got into his car and sped off. Usagi frowned, sensing that something was wrong with him. Jennifer noticed this and patted her shoulder. They didn’t speak. The trio returned inside and paid for their food before leaving the Moon Spot.
* * *
When Minako, Jennifer, and Usagi returned to Cat HQ later, the news was that Danie was slightly better. It appeared that all the Senshi had spent some time away from the control room and were decidedly less tense. But there was still worry upon Jessica’s face when she gazed upon her prone sister.
“She’ll be alright,” Ami assured Jessica.
Jessica nodded. “I know. I just wish I knew what was wrong…”
Moira-Selene, who was looking in one of the books of the Mayonaka Volumes, sighed and shook her head. “This book is explanatory on everything else, but when it comes to one of your own turning on you, it’s not something you’re prepared for.”
Makoto agreed. “It’s quite a blow when that happens.”
Rei stood and walked to her fellow Fire Child. “What if we don’t find a solution?”
“I don’t know. Danie can’t stay in here forever.” Moira-Selene flipped a page and sighed. “People are starting to ask questions…”
“Let them ask what they want,” Jessica snapped. “What we do is our business.”
Wanting to change the subject, Makoto turned to Minako. “So what happened at the Moon Spot?”
Jennifer, Minako, and Usagi sweatdropped simultaneously.
“Well…” Jennifer began.
“It was sort of an accident…” Minako added.
Rei looked to Usagi. “Usagi-chan, did you knock the restaurant down or something?”
Indignant, Usagi glared at Rei. “I wouldn’t do such a thing! You’re mean, Rei-chan!”
“You should be used to it by now.”
“It was nothing like that,” Jennifer broke in. At the strange sound Minako made, she amended the statement. “Okay, it wasn’t that bad. Usagi just bumped into some random guy and ripped his shirt off.”
“What?!” Jessica, Rei, Makoto, Moira-Selene, Samantha, Evie, and Ami cried in unison.
“Okay. Maybe I worded that wrong,” Jennifer told them sheepishly.
The other Senshi just stared at her, goggle-eyed.
“The guy was kawaii!” added Minako. “He had this curling brown hair that you just wanted to touch and these gorgeous brown eyes and pecs to die for—”
“Hai, so what happened?” Makoto asked. “Get to the part where his shirt gets ripped off!”
Sighing, Usagi said, “It was an accident. We just got stuck together by one of the threads in his shirt.”
“And how the hell did that happen?” Jessica demanded.
The trio sweatdropped again.
“Um, maybe we shouldn’t have said anything,” Jennifer muttered under her breath.
Looking wistful, Rei rose from her seat and wandered to the capsule where Danie was sleeping. “Danie-chan would love to hear a story like this.”
The girls all nodded, too, feeling a little less buoyant. Sensing Rei’s despondency, Usagi walked up to the capsule and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. Then Minako, Ami, and Makoto followed, giving their support to their friend.
“She will wake up,” Makoto said firmly. Rei nodded, willing it to be so.
Minako’s eyes drifted down to Danie’s prone body. When she had been brought there, she’d been wearing jeans and a tank top, and in the capsule, she wore nothing but her strapless bikini top and its matching bottom. As her eyes trailed Danie’s svelte body, she noticed something familiar on Danie’s shoulder, like a birthmark she hadn’t taken notice of before.
It was a circle with two intersecting lines in the middle of it.
And it was the same symbol that had been on the mysterious guy’s shoulder.
*“A Change Would Do You Good” written by Brian MacLeod, Jeff Trott, and Sheryl Crow.