Disclaimer: Not ours. The real ones at least. Just wild imaginary spinnings.
Summary: Hmmm, about technophobes and friends who mean well.
Six couldn't come fast enough. Orlando found himself doing everything he could to fill the time. He took three showers, one long, hot bath, fixed himself something to eat, raided the fridge ten minutes later and then finally ended up sitting and staring at the computer screen while he chewed on his nails. He wasn't quite sure what to do to start this chat thing. Billy had made it sound simple, but now…now he wasn't sure about it.
He started to just turn the damn computer off and forget about it, but then he thought of how hurt Jen would be and he decided to stay on. Just as he was about to reach for his cell phone and call Billy, a window flashed up on his screen along with the sound of a phone ringing.
merlin2: Orlando? Are you there?
His heart nearly beat out of his chest as he clicked on the response button.
bloomie: Jen? Is that really you?
merlin2: lol…of course it's me! Who else would it be?
bloomie: a crazed assassin?
merlin2: Very funny…so how do you like this? Pretty neat, huh?
bloomie: It's freaking me out, Jen. But I like talking to you.
merlin2: I'm glad…I like talking to you, too.
Orlando smiled, relaxing back in his chair for the first time. What was it about her that always seemed to put him at ease.
bloomie: Do this often?
merlin2: Yes…sometimes I stay up all night talking to someone. Guess that's what makes me such a computer nerd. I love technology!
bloomie: And I hate it…what a match, huh?
As soon as he said it, Orlando cringed and slapped his forehead. "Way to go, Bloom, you wanker," he muttered. "Scare her off with commitment first, why don't you?"
merlin2: I was just thinking the same thing.
He sighed with relief and relaxed once again. He wondered if asking her what she looked like would totally turn her off. But then he realized it didn't really matter what she looked like. Just talking to her was enough…for now.
bloomie: So, what do we talk about?
merlin2: How about you answer some of those questions you asked me, starting with your favorite food.
bloomie: Pretty boring stuff, Jen. I would rather hear about you.
merlin2: No getting out of it, Orlando.
Orlando smiled at her persistence, knowing he was going to end up answering any question she asked…well maybe not any question. For the next couple of hours, Orlando and Jennifer emerged themselves into their own little world. Neither noticed the hour getting later and neither could stop talking. Orlando couldn't remember the last time he laughed more…sober that is.
merlin2: It's getting late, O. I need to get to bed soon.
bloomie: Do you have to go? I'm just getting the hang of this thing!
merlin2: Yes, I do. I'm sorry. But we can talk again tomorrow if you want!
bloomie: I would love to.
merlin2: Same time tomorrow?
bloomie: Same time tomorrow. Good night, fair lady. Sleep well!
merlin2: You too, kind sir…lol…Goodnight, Orlando.
Orlando found himself holding on to see if she might say one more thing, but the sound of a door closing let him know she was gone. Groaning from sitting so long in one spot, Orlando logged off and made his way to his bed. Tomorrow wouldn't come soon enough!
Jen was grinning while doing the dinner dishes and watching the clock nervously every minute. It was still a while until 8:00 pm, the time she would daily chat with Orlando.
The last two weeks had been great, getting closer and opening to him on chat. She had even told him about that embarrassing time when she was in a play in elementary school and she had tripped and brought the whole scenery down. She could imagine Orlando laughing his head off, because he hadn't typed a reply to her for three whole minutes.
Then he has told her he was very accident prone, and the worst had been as he had fallen from a roof and broke his back. She had cried at the thought of Orlando being hurt, desperate and in pain. And Jen had told him about the time she had been hit by a car and stayed in the hospital for three months.
After that, they were exchanging comments on their work. She told him about the software she designed and Michelle and Data Corp. And Merlin, her dog. Orlando told her that he was a struggling actor, working currently in L.A. but didn't give more information and she didn't want to pry. He also told her about his dog, Maude, and that he was away from his family and missed them. But he also told her about some friends of his that he was very fond of. They chatted almost every evening, except when Orlando told her he had to be working. Then she missed him like crazy.
How dependent could you become on chatting to a person you didn't know? Jen had avoided mentioning anything to Mick about her nightly chats. She didn't want her friend to harass her about Orlando and, somehow, she didn't want to share him, with anyone. He was her friend.
A couple of times he had hinted that he would like a photo of her, but Jen had always changed the subject. She felt at ease with him, Orlando was funny and nice and did care about what she had to say. How much better could it get?
But the thought that he might see her picture, be disappointed, and then disappear on her was now scarier than ever. She tried to imagine him, for hours. In the end, it didn't matter if he was blonde or dark, tall or short, thin or fat, because she liked him, the inside part.
Orlando seemed to be sensitive and reckless at the same time. A sweet rebel that tried to live life on his terms and still fit in. But she didn't care. She would enjoy his friendship as long as she had it and not ever endangered it. He had become too precious to her to lose him now. Jen had to admit it. She was falling for him.
She checked the clock again. Almost 8:00 pm. She got herself a glass of juice and went to her PC to log on and wait for him, the highlight of her lonely evening.
Elijah had picked up Orlando directly from the set of Pirates and driven with him to a landing field. There was a plane already waiting for them there.
"I know you are pretty tired these days, Orli, and I thought you might enjoy an hour or two of skydiving before sunset …. What do you say?" Elijah asked.
Orlando smiled broadly at his friend. "Lij, this is beyond great, mate! You shouldn't have … but…" he started to say, checking his watch. Okay, he had still ninety minutes until chat time. One quick jump and then race home, he could make it! And he didn't want to disappoint Elijah, after he had organized this.
"You are not going to chicken out on me, are you Orli?" Elijah said, getting suits from the back of the car.
"No, mate, never that. I do have an appointment a bit later …" started Orlando.
"A girl? Tell !!!"
Orlando pondered if he should tell his friend about Jen. Okay, Billy was cornering him to tell about Jen, and the thought of his other buddies falling over him and making fun about his new found obsession with the Internet wasn't appealing, at all. And on the other hand, he was not ready to talk about Jen, share her, with anybody. Not yet.
"Nothing to tell, mate. Let's get to the jumping!" he said and checked his watch again. He had plenty of time.
Jennifer roused herself from the awkward position she had been laying in, once she finally got her sleepy eyes open. Raising her head, she panicked at the thought of having fallen asleep and missing Orlando. Looking up at her screen bleary-eyed, she found that he still hadn't logged on. Not to mention no e-mail to let her know that he had been there but had gotten no answer from her. Glancing over at the clock, she saw that it was four in the morning. He wasn't coming. Disappointment filled her so much that she nearly choked on it. Jen logged off and fell onto her bed wearily. But sleep was a long time coming…
Orlando pried his eyes open, the first thing his sight encountering being the clock. When he finally focused long enough to see the numbers, he groaned and winced at the sharp pain running through his head.
"Fuck," he swore, attempting to roll over on his back.
The nausea that waved over him, threatened to become more than nausea, but he fought it back. When the storm in his stomach seemed to settle somewhat, Orlando risked another look at the clock.
"Fuck," he swore again. "I missed her."
Pushing himself up to his feet, Orlando managed to stumble his way to the bathroom, where a cold shower succeeded in waking him up and clearing his head. After drying off, he went to where Billy's computer sat. Wrapping a towel around his waist, he logged on.
He ran different excuses through his head as to why he hadn't been online last night, but each one made him sound like a pathetic wanker…he was a pathetic wanker. He had let her down last night. He didn't have to talk to her to know that. Question was…how was he going to make it up to her now?
The sunshine hurt Jen's eyes. She felt as if she had the worst hangover ever. Only she hadn't touched a drop of liquor. She had only worried herself till the wee hours of the morning and even then didn't really sleep. She was being pulled apart with worry that something might have happened to him.
If something had happened to him, she might never know. After all, they did not know last names, phone numbers or addresses .... and nobody would think of telling her. She was little more than a ghost in his life. The notion made her panic.
But if he had just disappeared on her ... She tried to remember their last chat, did she say something wrong? Damn, she needed to get a life. Soon. Jen hugged a pillow close to her chest. She tried to kick herself mentally. 'Well done, Jen, now besides being schizoid you are manic depressive. Forget it. Move on. Make yourself a life. Get out!'
Jen forced herself to stand up, get dressed, and do something she hadn't done in the last five years. Walk right past her PC-lab to the kitchen. After a huge glass of juice she went for Merlin's leash and called her dog. She was going out.
Before Jen even got out the door, her doorbell rang. She thought about ignoring it, but she found that she just couldn't do that. She opened the door and was greeted by a whirlwind named Michelle.
"Hey, sweetie! What's up?"
"Nothing," Jen sighed, shutting the door.
Michelle whirled around quickly when she heard the sadness. "What is it? What's happened?"
Jennifer closed her eyes against the tears that burned her eyes. "I'm beginning to think you might have been right, Mick."
"Okay, since I'm usually right about a lot of things I tell you, could you be more specific?"
"You told me not to get too dependant on Orlando and you were right. I'm so disappointed in myself, Mick," Jennifer explained, the heaviness of her hurt weighing her down.
"What did he do?"
"He didn't show up for our chat last night."
Michelle frowned, thinking about this for a second. "Did he say why?"
"I haven't heard a word from him. I don't know what's happened to him."
"Maybe work held him up. You said he's an actor, right?"
"Well, they don't necessarily run on a 9 to 5 schedule when they film, sweets. I'm sure there's a reason for it all."
Jen shook her head, to miserable to be reasonable. "I've got to walk Merlin," she muttered, grabbing his leash and heading out the door.
Michelle sighed wearily, hating that she had been right this time around. She also hated to see Jennifer so upset. Damnit, he wasn't going to get away with this.
Turning on her heel, Michelle stalked to Jen's PC, having no problems finding her way into the system, considering she knew all the passwords. With just a few clicks, she found Orlando's e-mail address and set about composing an e-mail that he would no doubt regret having ever read. Satisfied, Michelle sent it and then went about surfing the net out of pure boredom till Jen got back.