A few days later, Minako and Rei ventured to Danie’s apartment and knocked on her door. There had been no answer when she and Jessica called her cell phone earlier that day. Remembering the events of the other day, Rei immediately had become worried. She enlisted Minako to accompany her as they were leaving work that evening.
“What do you think could be wrong?” Minako asked as Rei lifted her fist, prepared to knock.
Rei said nothing and shrugged. She lowered her fist and knocked on the door.
And when the door opened, their mouths dropped to their chins as a gust of cold air hit their bare arms and nyloned legs.
“Oh my,” murmured Rei.
Danie stood before them in a black bikini, holding an iced martini glass and a wide smile. Amid the low temperature, there wasn’t a goosebump in sight.
“Rei-chan! Minako-chan!” she greeted them. “Come on in. Want a martini? I’m making a Cosmo next.”
Minako broke out into semi violent shivers. Rei glanced around at Danie’s apartment. Things seemed normal though there were no windows open as Danie would have normally had. Normally being the operative word. Danie pranced around the room fanning herself and sipping from her glass. Minako put her jacket back on and nearly buried herself in it.
“Um, Danie-san,” Rei began, “are you feeling alright?”
Danie giggled, a high-pitched whinny that was so out-of-character. “Oh Rei darling, I feel fine. On top of the world.”
A trembling Minako and a skeptical Rei shared a glance, then Rei spoke again.
“Um, have Alex or Amanda come to bother you?” Rei inquired.
Danie giggled again. “Of course not! They’ve probably shacked up in some hut rattling a box spring. If the leaves are a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’!”
Rei felt sick. She could feel something was wrong. The fact that Danie was spouting clichéd bullshit just added verification to her theory. Meanwhile, Minako was turning blue.
“Danie-san,” Rei said with a bit more seriousness, “I think something’s wrong. Are you sure you’re alright? The air is on awfully high.”
There was a pause as Danie gulped down liquor. She waved her hand at the statement. “I’m just going through some strange PMS or something.”
“What kind of strange PMS do you mean?”
“Oh it’s nothing! Just been feeling a bit hotter than usual. When I took a cold shower today, it started boiling on contact with my skin!” Danie burst out laughing then.
“Wh-what?” Minako stuttered in full-out alarm. “But hu-humans d-d-don’t boil wa-w-water on their sk-sk-skin like that!”
Rei climbed to her feet and walked toward Danie. “Danie-san, we have to get you checked out.”
“Nonsense!” Danie trilled. “I’m fine!”
Rei grabbed Danie’s arm. When she did, she instantly found that Danie was indeed boiling hot. She took her hand back and looked at Danie squarely, violet eye to violet eye.
“Daniella,” she began, “we have to take you to the hospital. You have a fever.”
Danie’s eyes narrowed and she clenched her fists. Soon the martini glass ended up shattered on the wall, in broken pieces on the floor. Rei took in a deep breath and began to speak but a loud ploow! nearly had her ducking for cover.
“Mamma Mia,” Minako muttered, trying not to pee on herself.
Rei straightened up and turned around. The pot that had been holding some flowers that Danie had been growing was in a demolished mess on the ground. One of the flowers was still enflamed.
Danie, meanwhile, stared at the remnants in astonishment.
“Dios Mio,” she muttered. Sobered, she sat down on the couch with her large eyes wide. “I…I’ve never done that before.” She looked at Rei. “Something is wrong with me.”
Once the admission was out in the air and she figured that she wasn’t going to be killed, Rei took out her cell phone and pressed ‘1.’
* * *
At Angelia’s apartment a block away an hour later, Angelia heard her phone ring before Orlando returned from the kitchen with the popcorn and the beer. She glanced at the caller ID and decided to let the machine get it.
“You have reached Angelia Buchannan. Please leave your name and number and I will make sure to get back to you. Toodles!”
Angelia rolled her eyes and tried to forget that that greeting was created on a sugar-induced whim.
“Angie, it’s Brian. We need to talk. Call me back when you get a chance.” Click.
Something like fear skimmed up her back. She didn’t know why, but she had a feeling that she shouldn’t return the call.
Orlando strolled into the living room with a bowl. He sat down beside her and settled in, peeling off his socks and shoes. He offered Angelia her bottle. Angelia took it idly, not really watching the movie anymore. Orlando noticed this after some careful observation.
“Aw hell.” He placed his beer bottle on the table beside them. “Annie, what’s bothering you? You were fine a second ago. I thought watching Dumb and Dumber always cheered you up.”
Angelia managed a small smile for his benefit more than her own. “I just…I got a strange phone call, that’s all.”
Frowning, Orlando reached over and pressed a digit into a button on the answering machine. Brian Littrell’s southern drawl filled the room for ten seconds, then the machine clicked off. Orlando fingered his growing facial hair and carefully picked words that would not send Angelia flying off the handle.
“Angelia love, I thought you two were on hiatus,” Orlando said in an even tone.
Angelia shrugged and pulled her fine blond hair up. “We are on hiatus. I suppose he just wants to chat is all.”
Orlando laughed sardonically. “My Dearest Friend in the World, I think you are blinded by your naïveté. That young man who left that message has something heavy on his mind.”
“Oh?” Slightly amused but more exasperated, Angelia turned to him. “So what do you think he wants, O Dali Lando?”
“He wants to fuck you,” Orlando responded brusquely. “Duh, Angelia.”
“Gee, why not cloud the air with euphemisms?” Angelia cried, a bit hurt.
“Why should I? As your best friend, I am entitled to give you nothing but the honest truth.”
“Or honest bullshit. God, Orlando, he’s from bloody Kentucky. They quote the Holy Bible like they breathe over there. He wouldn’t dare ask me for gratuitous sex without putting a ring on my finger first.”
“Uh huh,” Orlando said doubtfully. “Right. And this chick that he cheated on for you—did they have sex? Or did it start with you?”
“I said we nearly slept together, Orlando. We didn’t consummate the relationship in that way.”
Orlando’s brown-eyed gaze fell upon her again. Unreadable emotions lie in his eyes that troubled her greatly. “But that doesn’t mean that he never wanted to, Angelia. A man is a man, and they have needs.”
Angelia raised an eyebrow. “And you would know, wouldn’t you?” Angelia gulped down her own beer for a second. “You seem to have been a fixture around here instead of getting your own dates.”
Orlando sighed and bit off an oath. “Touché.”
“Damn right. Go find a girlfriend and leave me alone.”
Orlando placed a hand on her shoulder. “Annie, I’m supposed to protect you. Sorry, but I can’t leave you alone.”
Angelia nodded silently and watched as Jim Carrey urinated into a beer bottle not too much different than her own. If it had been any other time, she would have found this hilariously funny. But now…things were different. Things had been different for a long time, since she found her destiny…and fell in love with another woman’s man. She looked sidelong at Orlando, who, she found, was looking back at her. She looked away and back at the TV screen.
I wish he could protect me, she mused. But he can’t. And that’s a bloody shame.
* * *
“Hana-sama, I can’t reach Haruka and Michiru and Hotaru. Angelia is not answering her phone.”
Jessica nodded as Minako, now thawed out, gave her a report on the whereabouts of the rest of the Sailor Senshi. As the leader of the Midnight Senshi, she had appointed herself the head of this impromptu gathering.
The basement of Cat Headquarters was a control room with a section for meetings such as this one. In a large capsule on the far side of the room lay Danie, unconscious and unnaturally rosy. Ami and Moira-Selene monitored the palpitations and beeps of the machines that were hooked up to the healing capsule. According to Ami and Moira-Selene, Danie’s aura was heightened to a dangerous level. Jessica had a feeling that the recent events had something to do with it, and Ami and Moira-Selene had postulated that as well. Now, Jessica mused as she scanned the Inner Sailor Senshi and the other Midnight Senshi sitting on the couches of Cat HQ, all they had to do was to wait, no matter how costly it would be.
And that was what they agreed upon. They would wait.