Rude Awakening

Lakewood, Ohio
3:22 AM
 
Dante Andersen heard the phone ring, rousing him from his peaceful slumber. It's not often that he even gets a good night's sleep, with the constant hacking, the information collection and all that jazz. That night was different... or was supposed to be, before the blasted phone rang. He carefully slid out of his queen sized bed, trying not to rouse the other form that was in the bed with him, and placed his yellow tinted glasses on his face, allowing him to see clearly despite the late hour. Business called... on the red line.
 
Dante made his way to what he dubbed "Command Central", his network of high-end, top of the line computer systems he built with his own two hands; they were his babies, his muses... his sirens. One day, he figured, his sirens will smash him against the reefs making him yet another casualty. Even having that nagging feeling in the back of his mind, he pressed on. Dante slightly shivered as he entered the room; dressed only in a pair of boxer shorts and black t-shirt, it afforded little warmth to fight against the constant air conditioning used to keep the computers at a much more reasonable temperature for more efficient operation.
 
Dante rubbed the sleep from his eyes with his left hand as he typed commands into the keyboard in the center of the three separate keyboards, running a trace on the red line's caller. The center screen informed Dante of the caller, or would have if it didn't say NOT AVAILABLE. Dante groaned softly... he knew the caller; there was only one person that came up on his trace screen in that fashion, and usually when said person called, it tended to be trouble. Lots of trouble.
 
Dante set the phone's headset into place and answered the call.
 
"What do you want, 'nox?"
"I'm fine, thank you for asking."
"Enough small talk, Slappycakes... get to the point."
"Actually, it is not you I need to speak with."
 
Dante's blood started to boil at that comment... getting woken up for work is one thing, but getting woken up for what amounted to being Brandon Logan's messenger boy grated on Dante's last good nerve at that moment.
 
"Then why did you call? And couldn't this have waited until it was morning at least?"
"I need to speak to Velvet, Pheonyx... and no, it could not wait, oh great Lord of Cyberspace."
"I hate when you do that... try to kiss up like that. Hold on."
 
Dante removed the headset and made his way back to his bedroom, moving to the large blanket covered lump still located on the bed. He cautiously placed his hand on what he approximated to be a shoulder and softly shook back and forth. The top of the blanket cocoon slid downward, revealing a mass of blonde hair.
 
"What? Again?"
"What can I say... hacker stamina. However, that's not the case. Important call for you."
 
The mass shifted and through the messy blonde hair, a pair of sparkling blue eyes gazed into Dante's eyes, the light of curiosity playing within her eyes as well.
 
"Who is it, lover?"
"It's 'nox... yeah, I also want to kick his butt for waking us up."
"Give me a minute."
"Take all the time that you need... I like making him wait."
 
Alexis reached her arm outward from the blankets that covered her and grabbed a terrycloth robe that was draped haphazardly over one of the various half-built computer cases that cluttered Dante's bedroom. Dante walked over to the master bedroom's attached bathroom and closed the door.
 
Once she wrapped herself in the robe, the cloth barely covering her nude form from indecent exposure, Alexis Fairchild emerged from the blankets and walked three steps, pausing briefly to slide a pair of fuzzy pink slippers onto her bare feet. She continued into the computer room just off of the master bedroom, closing the door behind her.
 
I hate that he keeps it so cold in here Alexis thought to herself as she slid the phone headset into place.
 
"You called?"
"A pleasure as always, Alexis."
"Ever the charmer, aren't you?"
"I try... I need you to do something."
 
Alexis cursed silently to herself... she hated making arrangements, especially with Equinox, by phone. She preferred a physical meet, if only to use her telepathic abilities to scan the person's surface thoughts to make sure that she wasn't being played or set up. It wasn't like she could access her Physical Adept abilities and reach through the phone and drag him into the room, either. It was times like this being a Class B psion didn't help in the slightest.
 
"I need you to go to St. Petersburg, Lex..."
"Don't even finish that nickname, 'nox... unless you want to be the next victim."
 
Alexis could swear that she could hear the gears of Equinox's memory spinning as he processed the reference.
 
"Ah, yes... your father called you Lexi when he..."
 
Alexis felt a shiver run throughout her body, and not from the air conditioning.
 
"Don't go there... don't drag up four years of hell that I have been trying to get past."
"I appologize."
 
Alexis heard Equinox's last comment and sensed something she had never picked up from Brandon Logan: true sincerity. That sincerity didn't last long as he continued.
 
"St. Petersburg... I need you to meet a man named Mark Simmons and make sure that he arrives at a certain meeting two days from now. I'll inform you of that location enroute to his location."
"Could you be even more vague?"
"Yes... I could have said 'a man' instead of giving you his name."
"When do I leave?"
"A plane is waiting for you at Burke Lakefront Airport, Hanger 4. It leaves in one hour."
"You don't give a girl much time to prepare."
"You'll be fine... by the way, have you set a date yet?"
 
Damn him... how did he find out? Geez, Dante only proposed to me two days ago.
 
"We'll send you an invitation... like you'd even show up for it."
"You may be pleasantly surprised."
"I doubt it, but we'll see."
"I am still amazed that you two are even together."
"He makes me feel truly safe... and the only one who ever has."
 
Alexis heard the click of the other end hanging up before she even went to do the same. As she turned around after removing the headset, she saw Dante standing in the doorway.
 
"You're leaving, aren't you?"
"I'm sorry, Dante... you know the business."
"And 'nox is the most annoying of the bunch."
 
Alexis slid the half carat solitaire ring from her left ring finger and placed it in Dante's right hand.
 
"Hold onto this for me... until I get back."
"Love you, Lexi."
"Love you, too... I'll be back soon."
 
Fifteen minutes later, Alexis emerged from the bathroom dressed in tight black jeans, black stiletto heeled shoes and a white tank top that was one size too small. She strolled over to the closet, pulling a small suitcase from the floor of the closet, throwing it onto the bed, and hurriedly packed clothes. Dante eyed the one outfit in particular as she packed it: a maid's outfit. Within two minutes, Alexis had her suitcase packed and zipped up; the major hardware would have been arranged to meet her there by Equinox... if anything, the man was thorough.
 
Alexis gave a quick yet passionate kiss to Dante before she grabbed the suitcase handle and exited the small two story home. Adventure awaited for Alexis Fairchild once again, and as she pulled her red Mustang GT convertible out of the driveway, she felt Dante's thoughts reach out to her, with one thought overriding the other more ominous thoughts of potential fatal scenarios circulating at the tip of Dante Andersen's mind: Come home safe, Lexi.
 
FIN