Chapter 2: The Morning After

Again Mint shook Berry's body, and again there was no response. Was Berry dead? Mint gasped wildly as her tears rolled down her cheeks. She tried to force herself to think. Should she call 1-1-9? Berry needed an ambulance. But then they would be caught, and what could they say? If Berry was dead, Mint would be blamed. If Berry wasn't dead, if she made it, then at least Mint would be blamed for giving her the alcohol. And if they checked the DNA on Berry and found it wasn't human – and it wasn't – what would happen then? And what would Mint's parents do, when they found out?

And what might have disturbed Mint more than any of the other issues was that Berry was pretty much the last friend she had in the world. If Minto lost her, she would have… nobody. She gasped and bit her lip in fear. And that hurt; for the first time she realized her lip was injured. There was a puncture wound – a wound from the alien's fang. Mint gasped again, now in desperation. What could she do?

For Berry still was unresponsive. Mint was touching her, and she thought: Berry isn't stiff, and she's not cold completely, so maybe she's still alive. But she wasn't exactly warm, either. She wondered what had done this to her; was it the alcohol, or was it Kisshu, or was it both? If she died, and it was alcohol poisoning, then Mint would be guilty of murder. If it was what Kisshu had done to her, what could she tell the police? What could she tell Berry's father?

She felt Berry's wrist for a pulse. Mint didn't have a bit of the nurse in her; she had no natural instinct for healing. But anyone could check for a pulse. And so she felt Berry's wrist; she felt nothing! Now she was in a panic, and she took the other wrist, and felt; but again, she felt nothing. Where, she thought, do you feel for a pulse? She tried to remember, but she had never paid much attention in health class. Where? Where?

She felt her own wrist, and she felt nothing there, either. A sudden terror tore through her mind. Was she dead, too? Was this hell? She felt again, pinching her wrist harder. And then, she felt something: right there, the tips of her fingers could feel her pulse. Then she took Berry's wrist again, and felt it the same way she had felt her own.

Was there a pulse there? She thought she could feel something. She squeezed harder, moved her fingertips, squeezed harder again. And there she was sure: there was a pulse. It was so weak, but it was there! Berry was alive!

Alive for now, Mint thought. But she was cold and probably getting colder. She was failing, poisoned by too much alcohol and shocked by the trauma of being violated by that wicked alien. Mint thought hard. She had to warm the girl up, or she would probably die. She knew that she should call emergency, but she was so afraid of what would happen! She thought to put Berry into bed and cover her up, but her own cold body wouldn't heat itself well enough. Or Mint could warm her with her own body – maybe. But then, what would happen if the maid came in and found her in bed with a nearly-dead girl? No, that would not do!

Then she had a thought: the tub. She ran to her tub – it was of the expensive whirlpool variety – and turned on the water. She tried to get it warm enough, but not too warm, and then let it fill while she ran to Berry's still form. She lifted the comatose girl from the congealing puddle of her vomit, and dragged her to the tub. Mint was not overly strong, but her dancer's body was toned and taut, and desperation gave her the strength that she did not know she had: she lifted Berry and placed her in the tub quite gently, and let the warm water flow around her.

She could see, now, that Berry was breathing, though the breaths were very shallow. Mint took a washcloth and began to wipe away the barf from Berry's face. Her hair was full of it, too, but that could wait. She cleaned up the poor girl and then turned on the whirlpool jets, and the warm water bubbled up around Berry's body. Mint pushed the blonde hair away and felt Berry's forehead. Surely, the body was getting warm, was it not?

And, then Berry's eyelids opened a little. Mint shook her. "Berry! Wake up. Please!"

And suddenly Berry's eyes opened. They were bloodshot and clouded with pain, but they were open. It took her several seconds, but her eyes focused, and then, weakly, she gasped, "Where am I?"

And Minto shrieked for joy: "Berry! You're alive!" And she bent over the tub and hugged Berry's head.

It took Mint several seconds to let go, and then, as she pulled back, Berry asked again: "Where am I?"

"In my bathtub," Mint answered, smiling. "Berry, you were so close to dying…"

"Dying?" Berry mumbled, staring at Mint with blood-speckled eyes.

Mint took Berry's hand. "It's morning, Berry, and I found you on the bathroom floor lying in your own barf. And your body was so cold, I was afraid you were dead! But you had a pulse, and I put you in the tub to warm you up, and you woke up! You're alive!"

"So I'm at your house, yet?" Berry asked. Mint nodded, and Berry asked, "What happened last night? I don't remember…"

Mint was stunned. It was the first time she had encountered someone with an alcohol-induced blackout. "You don't remember? Do you remember coming to my house for a meeting of the Club?"

Berry was silent for several seconds, and then she spoke slowly. "My head hurts." She was silent for several more seconds before continuing, "Yeah, I remember coming, and we were drinking again. But after that…" Her voice faded away.

Mint tried to speak in a soft voice, though it was hard for her. "Berry, do you remember that… that Kisshu showed up? The alien?"

Berry stared into space again for several seconds. The only sound was the quiet hum of the pump motor and the soft wash of the bubbling water around Berry's form. Then she said, "Yes, maybe, sort of, Kisshu…"

Mint bit her lip. She would have to say something. "Berry, this is going to scare you. Do you remember what he did, did to you?"

The blonde girl just slowly shook her head – it hurt far too much for her to shake it quickly.

And Mint's voice choked up as she whispered, "Berry… we were both so drunk. He raped me, Berry, and I think he raped you, too…"

What little color there was in the blonde's face vanished. "Raped…?" Then she screeched, "Raped?"

Mint held tightly to her friend's hand. "Well, like date rape, I mean. We were so drunk, we couldn't put up any resistance. You don't even remember it happening. He just took what he wanted…"

Berry began gasping, and tears trickled down her cheeks. "Oh, Minto. Minto!" She gasped again before continuing. "Minto, I was a virgin, I was saving myself, and now…" She began crying as wildly as her weakened body could cry.

Mint held her hand tightly. "Me, too, Berry-chan. He robbed me of it, too."

"Minto, what if we're – pregnant?" Berry choked the words out.

"Pregnant?" Mint gasped in return. She hadn't even considered that. She shook her head, and answered softly, though her teeth were gritted tightly. "Berry, we're different species, really different, so I don't think… I don't think… I hope we can't be…" Her voice trailed off.

Again there was silence for a while, before Berry asked, "Minto, what did he want? Why did he come? Just to…" Her words stopped.

Mint thought for a second. "No, I remember. He was trying to find some Mew Aqua."

"Well, we don't have any," Berry muttered. "Only Shirogane, and Zakuro…"

Mint was stunned. Zakuro! The drunken Berry had told the alien that Zakuro had some Mew Aqua! She was in danger! "Onee-sama!" Mint squealed. "Berry, that alien monster might go after her! I have to warn her!"

Minto started chewing her lip, hard. She had to warn Zakuro, but she had no way of contacting her. She would have to go to the Café Mew Mew, and maybe they would tell her how to get to Zakuro, or at least warn her themselves. But Berry still needed care, and a lot of it. She couldn't leave Berry like this, but she had to go to the Café. She was sure that if she called them, they would not speak to her. She had tried more than once, trying to get in touch with Zakuro, and they had brushed her off, abruptly.

Then she knew: it was over. She could keep her secrets no longer. She squeezed Berry's hand tightly, and said, "Berry, I have to go and warn Zakuro. But I can't leave you alone. I'll get Baaya. She won't talk, and she'll take a lot better care of you than I could." Then she threw on some clothes and raced out the door. She was a mess but she didn't care.

Her Baaya was standing at the base of the stairs, and Mint knew that she was waiting, with her infinite patience, for the girls to come down, so she could clean up the wreckage of yet another of the girls' drunken escapades. She never showed any emotion; but this time she did, and her eyebrows rose ever so slightly when she saw the disheveled mess that was the always-perfect Minto. Mint's hair fell into her eyes, and her face was marked up, and whatever makeup was left over from the previous night was in ruin. But the woman's voice was level as she spoke. "Good morning, Minto-sama."

Mint was gasping for breath. "Come up, Baaya. Quickly! Hurry!" The old lady never hurried at anything, but she obeyed. She ascended the staircase, but before she entered Mint's chambers, the girl stopped her.

"Baaya, listen to me – carefully!" Mint said. "Last night, Berry and I drank too much champagne…"

The old lady lowered her eyes and shook her head the slightest bit – a devastating insult from her. And Mint understood what her Baaya meant: she and Berry always drank far too much.

But Mint did not have time to feel shame. "Well, when we were drunk, this guy came, and he… he raped us both."

The old woman snorted. Never in all her years at the Aizawa mansion had she done such an insulting thing to any of the family. But Mint understood. Her Baaya thought that Mint was lying, covering up for her messing around while drunk.

And Mint's voice became hard. "Baaya, it really was rape. I really said no. Really! But I was too drunk to resist, and Berry was so drunk that she doesn't even remember. He hardly had to force himself on us – there was no resistance." Mint did not say how sexy she had found the alien when she was in his arms.

The old lady stared into Mint's eyes for quite a while, and then said, "So, it was easy for him. Just plucking the low-hanging fruit, as they say. Still, I will call the police."

But Mint's voice grew very hard. "No! You are not to call the police, and you are not to tell my parents, or anyone else, ever. This isn't what you think it is! The one who raped us was – well, he wasn't human."

The woman snorted openly, now. And she shook her head. "When your parents find out that you gave up your virginity in a drunken orgy, it will be the end of you. You father will disown you, to be sure. And that will be just the beginning of your punishment."

Mint was angry, now. "Baaya!" she barked. "You are not to tell anyone! This isn't what you think! The one that raped us was an alien – I mean, a space alien. And don't you snort and shake your head at me! There are things here you know nothing about. Nothing!"

The old lady wrinkled her nose and shook her head. She still believed none of it.

So Mint took her by the shoulders. Minto was not tall, but the old lady was even shorter than Mint. "Baaya, do you know what a Mew Mew is?"

The old lady's face was down, but her eyes opened, and she looked up at Mint. And Mint continued, "Well, I'm a Mew Mew, a magical girl, and we fight space aliens and the monsters they make. And you can think that's crazy all you want, but it's true."

The old servant looked at Mint again for a long time. Then she said quietly, "A year or so ago parts of this house were wrecked, mysteriously. Your father thought it was some kind of sabotage by business rivals. I didn't."

And Mint spoke, in a quiet voice just above a whisper, "The first time, it was a chimera anima – one of those monsters the aliens make. The second time, it was another Mew Mew."

Again the old lady was silent. Then she said, "What do you need me for?"

And Mint looked deeply into the old woman's eyes. She knew: she would have to trust her. So she said, "I have to go and warn the other Mew Mews about this alien. But Berry really got hurt last night. When I found her this morning, she was all but dead. Her body was half-cold! I put her in the tub to warm her up, and she came to, but she's a total mess and she really needs to be taken care of and I have to run to the Café Mew Mew, and so…" Mint took a deep breath. "And so, you have to take care of Berry, and get her put back together, and get her home. And don't tell anyone! Ever!"

The elderly woman slowly nodded, her face as inscrutable as always. Did she believe a word of what Mint had said? Mint did not know; but in a sense, it didn't matter. Zakuro was in danger, and Mint had to warn her. Nothing else mattered. Nothing! So she opened the door, and taking the old woman by her hand, led her through the door and into the bath suite, where Berry still lay in the bubbling tub.

And the old Baaya immediately knelt beside the tub, and her gentle instincts took over as she began to caress and clean up the battered and heartbroken girl. Minto watched for just a second before she slipped out of the door.

The quickest way for her to get to the Café Mew Mew was to fly, so she had to find her pendant. She was the only Mew Mew that could fly, and that would be a big advantage, now. She remembered where Kisshu had taken her down, and she vaguely remembered that he had pulled her pendant off and thrown it aside. It would not be hard to find, she thought. But when she looked, it was not there on the floor. Nor was it under any furniture. And Berry's pendant was nowhere to be found, either.

Mint was panicking. That damned alien must have stolen their pendants after he stole their virginity. And she had to get to the café quickly! She knew what she had to do. She raced down the stairs and ran to her father's study, where she opened the top right drawer of his desk. There were the keys to the Aizawa family Mercedes. Her father always got a ride to work in the company limosine, and her mother had her own car. No one would miss this car if she took it! She was too young to drive, but she had driven before. She took the keys and ran.

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Author's note: Lest anyone complain about a "mistake" I made, the emergency number for an ambulance in Japan is in fact 1-1-9, not 9-1-1 as in the US. At least, that's what the internet tells me.

As for Berry's body temperature: I knew personally of a case where a teenager of about the age of the characters in this story consumed far too much alcohol, and when her father found her and rushed her to the hospital, her body temperature was down to 93 degrees (F). At the hospital they pumped the kid's stomach and warmed her up, and she came out of it OK. In the story Berry doesn't need her stomach pumped, because she has barfed everything up.

- tgwWhale