Andria was surprisingly protective of her greenhouse. This was the fewest plants she’d had growing anywhere she’d ever lived, so each one received a larger fraction of her love.
Still, Gamora was able to persuade her to relinquish enough space for her to plant the crystal flower seeds she’d brought back from the Tourist Trap of the Future.
They seemed to respond to care like any other plant, but it helped that Gamora’s lab was beneath the greenhouse. When she took a break from her bot research, she could come upstairs to chat with them.
Dylan was so captivated by the setting that he began to paint it.
He sometimes lost so much track of time that Andria found him on the upper deck with his canvas at dawn.
“I should be annoyed with you,” she told him, “but the truth is that I find your artistic dedication sexy.”
Dylan could only blush — even after all these years.
Victoria had a room to herself, and it wasn’t a child’s room any longer. She decorated it to her nautical heart’s content.
It was even sound insulated so that she could make all the noise she wanted.
Connery had unlimited food and plenty of space to laze around. At his age, that was all he could ask for.
When Gamora saw the wedding announcement in the newspaper, she knew it was past time to strike.
She jumped on her hoverboard after school.
It didn’t take her long to find her way to the home her mother shared with her current provider.
She didn’t even try to disguise her handwriting. Manisha would never recognize it, but she’d know who it was anyway.
She slipped the note into the doorframe and rang the doorbell.
Then she was gone from sight with a soft woosh.
She still had a lot to learn about how to fly a hoverboard. Fortunately, she was out of sight behind the house before she lost control.
She couldn’t help herself. She had to watch from out of sight.
To her disappointment, Manisha’s new husband, Ash Sample-Baerwyn, was the one who came to the door. He walked out with his new puppy and looked around the house. “Damn kids,” he grumbled.
As he turned back to the house, he saw the paper that had fallen onto the welcome mat. Written in read, it said simply, “I hope you didn’t think I’d forgotten about you.”
Ash stared at the paper. “What the hell is this?” he said aloud — a little too loud. He was rattled. And he’d tell his wife about it. That would be almost as good as her finding it herself.
That same afternoon, Victoria arrived at Coffee Under the Sea, where a Simfest had already started.
Frederick was waiting for her. “Vickie! I wasn’t sure if you were going to come! It’s so good to see you!”
She grinned at him. “Sure! This is your first Simfest performance! I want to see it!”
They’d been out for coffee a few times since their dinner date. He was good company. When he looked at her, he had that hungry look in his eyes that told her he wanted so much more, and yet she hesitated. She didn’t mean to lead him on…
“Oh, look!” Frederick said. “It’s Shannon Reacher the acrobat! She can’t possibly plan to perform at a Simfest!”
“She’s someone important?” Victoria asked.
“The best in the business,” Frederick agreed.
“Maybe I can get her autograph!”
Victoria started in the direction of the coffee house when her eyes fell on an old friend.
“Danial! It’s been a while. How are you? Are you going to sing?”
“Hi Vickie. No, not this time. I’m mostly here for professional research. I think I’m going to wait a bit longer to make my big move. You here to watch your boyfriend sing?”
“Frederick? He’s not my boyfriend. But I did come to show him some moral support. This is his first Simfest as a performer.”
“Hey bozo! Learn to sing!” Jody Ursine-Sample shouted at the stage.
“What about Sasha? Is your wife with you?”
Danial flinched and then tried to shrug nonchalantly. “Sasha’s not feeling well.”
“What is it with you and Sasha?” Victoria asked. “Do you do anything at all together? I don’t think I’ve seen her since high school.” She wasn’t sure if she was joking or serious. What was it about Danial that always seemed so… off?
“It’s starting to hail!” Shannon Reacher shouted. “Run for cover!”
“Show me you love meeee….” The performer wailed from the stage.
“Yike!” Victoria said. “I thought I felt a drop, but this is crazy!”
“This Simfest is a bust,” Danial said. “Let’s get out of here and go see Sasha.”
“But what about Frederick?” Victoria asked. But as she looked around, she saw he was already running for his car. “OK, I guess I’m free after all.”
“This way!” Danial said.
“That’s your car?” Victoria demanded. “Where’s the rest of your family?”
“Just get in and get out of the rain,” Danial said.
“Well, it’s certainly comfortable,” Victoria said. “Where are we headed? I didn’t think you lived this way.”
“We’re not going to my house,” Danial said.
When they pulled up in front of Ygraine Memorial, the rain was like a river pouring from the sky.
“You’ll have to run for it,” Danial said.
“We’re at the hospital,” Victoria said blankly.
“Yeah,” Danial said. “Hurry, or we’ll get soaked.”
While they were inside, the rain slowed at last.
And the Simfest officially ended.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” Victoria asked at last, “after all this time?”
“Sasha was diagnosed with cancer shortly after we got back from our honeymoon,” Danial said. “She that that if our friends knew, they’d be different around her. I guess, it got to feeling like the only way to feel normal was to pretend for everyone else that we were normal.”
“Is there any hope?” Victoria asked.
Danial’s jovial mask finally fell. The face behind was bitter and tired. “It depends on what you mean by hope,” he said. “There’s hope she’ll wake up one more time. I stay by her bed every day because I’d hate myself if she woke up and I didn’t get those last moments with her.”
Suddenly Victoria realized why Danial’s music career had been advancing so slowly. A lot of things made sense.
Impulsively, she threw her arms around him. “You’re not alone,” she said fiercely.
Danial hugged her back. “Thanks,” was all he said.
So this is Danial Ibari’s big reveal.
This is my story justification for one of those absurd May-December romances that StoryProgression always comes up with. Sasha Saunders Ibari is the daughter of Beatrice Saunders (a.k.a. Buffy Summers simalike). She’s older than Dylan and could literally die any day now. When Danial emerged as a player in Vickie’s story, I tried to figure out what to do with that, and this is what I came up with.
I’m so friggin’ far behind on all my reading, but I’m trying to catch up. I really am