This is a a short story (4 chaps.) made up of a series of vignettes based off of my misadventures at Comic Con 2010 with TFX, Anntastic23, MrsBing03, Kimpy0464 (and her sweet spawn). I also finally had the pleasure of meeting my wonderful beta mcc101180 - she's one of the few people that understands the crazy that is my life (she wears more hats than I do). We had a great time and met a lot of lovely fic ladies-I'm going to miss you this year :(
Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
"I can't believe we're finally here!"
"I know. This is just unreal, you guys!" Bella said in awe while she and her small group of friends waited for the airport shuttle to unload their bags in front of their hotel.
Rose tipped the shuttle driver then grabbed the handle of her suitcase. "Let's check-in, shall we?"
The four women smiled at each other and laughed girlishly in their excitement. "Alice, this place is amazing," Angela said as they climbed the steps into the lobby of 500 West Hotel.
"I know, right? It was the best deal I could find downtown. I know it's technically a hostel, but look at it—this is so awesome! It looks just like the pictures on the website." Alice walked confidently to the counter and checked them in while the other women examined their surroundings.
Upon closer scrutiny, Bella thought the interior walls weren't exactly crack or scuff-free, but it still looked fairly nice. Off to one side there was a small room with a desk containing two computers and a couple of printers, another table with a few chairs and three clocks lining the wall, giving the local time—San Diego, and the correlating times for New York and London as well.
"Okay, here are your keys, Alice said, handing each of them a small, black electronic key. "This will open the door to our rooms as well as the bathrooms. We're in rooms five-twelve and five-fourteen."
With keys in hand and excitement bubbling within, they all followed Alice to the elevators. Bella looked at the elevator doors, smiling brightly with anticipation, and giddy for the adventure she and her friends had been planning for the past year. They had finally arrived, here in San Diego, for four glorious days at the Mecca of geeks—ComicCon. Panels of some of Hollywood's biggest stars and sneak-peeks of upcoming films and TV shows awaited them. None of them worked in the industry; they just shared a mutual and deep love of all things geek.
The ding of the elevator coming to a stop in the lobby startled Bella and brought her attention back to the light green doors that opened in front of her. A collective gasp came from the friends as the doors slid open, revealing the dingy interior of the elevator. It was small and cramped-looking, with dark gray or perhaps brown carpeting. It was so heavily stained Bella wasn't exactly sure what color it had originally been. They looked at each other in slight trepidation, filing one by one into the claustrophobic space and turning around to face the doors.
They all looked to Rose since she was the closest to the control panel. She reached out with one finger to push the well-worn button next to the number they all hoped indicated the fifth floor. She pushed it once, but the light didn't come on so she pushed it a couple more times—all to no avail. The doors eventually closed and with the sound of metal grinding against metal, they began their ascent toward their floor.
No one said a word as they rose; no one looked at each other either. They stared straight ahead—hoping the thumps and clanks they heard wouldn't send them plummeting down the elevator shaft—until the elevator jerked to a stop and the doors opened.
They quickly disembarked, moving as if their lives depended upon it, then collectively turned and heaved sighs of relief as the elevator doors shut. The group stared at Alice, who glanced around sheepishly, unable to look anyone in the eye.
"So…" Alice said finally, directing her attention to the placards on the wall "…I think our rooms are this way." She took the lead, and they followed, their eyes boring into the back of her head as they made their way down the maze of hallways. If the elevators were any indication of what else they could expect, things were not looking good.
The tiled floor of the elevator lobby gave way to a carpeted passageway. Bella thought it looked like something out of Ghostbusters, as if Slimer would come squishing through one of the walls at any moment. She could picture Dr. Venkman and Ray running down the hall in their coveralls, proton packs strapped to their backs. Only, that hotel was nicer. The carpet wasn't striped in varying shades of green and dirty, stained with years of foot traffic and… She pulled herself out of her thoughts as they passed the bathrooms long enough to scan the tiled area—she should have brought a pair of flip-flops—and wrinkle her nose in disgust at the odor of stale cigarette smoke wafting through an open doorway. The lingering stench was clearly the reason California had pioneered the current trend in anti-smoking laws.
The rooms were at the end of the hall, and upon reaching them, the girls paired off to inspect their accommodations. Bella and Angela entered their room without hesitation. The two women considered themselves a bit more low maintenance than their counterparts in the next room and had very little trepidation about getting settled for the evening, even if the lodgings were a little less comfortable than they had expected. Alice and Rose on the other hand were a different story.
"Alice, you cannot possibly expect me to—" Bella heard Rose start to screech from next door. She surveyed the small room and looked at Angela to gauge her reaction, who appeared, although not wholly thrilled, rather accepting of their circumstance.
"It's not that bad. I mean really, how much time are we going to spend here, right?" Angela pointed out.
"Right. It's a place to sleep. We're going to be so busy at the convention we'll hardly be here anyway."
"Exactly." Angela nodded and set her suitcase to the side so she could inspect the small armoire in the corner of the room.
While the two girls worked on getting themselves settled, Rose and Alice argued next door.
"I'm not staying here, Alice."
"Where would we go? The W? The Hilton? Those places have been booked for months, Rose, and they cost three times as much." Alice sighed, tired from their long trip and in no mood to deal with Rose's snobbery. "We're not going to spend that much time here anyway. It may look worn and well used—"
"Well used? Look at that!" Rose pointed. "It looks like someone melted the desktop with their flat iron!"
"It's a fucking hostel, Rose!" Alice held up her finger to emphasize her point and ignored Rose's interjection. "It's clean and it's a place to put our stuff. We're hardly even going to be here, so deal."
Rose snarled in response as she set her suitcase next to the window. Alice had made her point, but that didn't mean that she had to be happy about it. Besides, they were supposed to be having the time of their lives. She needed to try and not let her sensibilities ruin the vacation for not only herself, but her friends as well. "All-right, I'll deal. Now let's get unpacked. I'm starving."
Fifteen minutes later, Rose had her costumes unpacked and her red wig settled on the desk in the corner, ready to put on in the morning. Alice had already slipped out to the restroom, so she grabbed her purse and locked the door behind her. Everyone was waiting for her in the hall. Hopefully they hadn't been waiting for too long, since the smell of cigarettes and reefer had permeated the hallway, and all of them were hungry enough without adding a case of the munchies from a contact buzz.
They quietly, and reluctantly, made their way back down to the dilapidated elevators at the end of the hall. It was like they had a silent agreement to wait until they'd made it outside before talking again. Rose chalked that up to hunger, being travel weary, and an unwillingness to acknowledge their housing situation.
The sun had set while they were inside, and even though the temperature had cooled to a much more comfortable level, there was still a hint of humidity in the air. "So, which way do you guys want to go?" Rose asked, looking up and down the streets.
"Let's go this way. It looks like there might be some restaurants up there." Angela pointed to their left. "There doesn't seem to be anything promising down toward the bay."
They walked north for a couple of blocks, finding a few of the usual fast food joints and a café that was attached to the bus station. "Let's go to the café; they've got pizza and sandwiches," Alice suggested.
Rose was game, a simple slice or two of pepperoni sounded really good to her grumbling belly. Of course by the time she had placed her order at the counter, there wasn't any plain pepperoni left so she had to wait until the next one came out of the oven—a double edged sword. She was bummed that she had to wait since she was so hungry, but at least her piece would be fresh.
She stood at the counter and waited while everyone else found a place to sit at the nearby tables. She turned her back to the counter while she waited and thought about how bad-ass she was going to look in her costume tomorrow. Oblivious to the patron that now stood at the counter waiting next to her, she turned when she heard the girl at the counter slip a couple of trays onto the counter behind her.
Both trays had a Diet Coke and a basket with some chips and a pickle, so she grabbed the pickle off the nearest plate and took a bite. The next thing she knew the lady behind the counter was screeching at her.
"Hey, you can't do that! That's not your pickle, that's his pickle!" The irate employee pointed to the large man standing next to her.
Rose's eyes widened at the sight of the tall, muscular man standing next to her. She still hadn't noticed that anyone had been standing next to her until the lady pointed him out. He was at least six inches taller than her five foot, nine inch frame and he had dark curly hair and brown eyes that were twinkling with laughter. He was laughing at her. That's when it really dawned on her—she'd just taken a bite out of this man's pickle.
Embarrassment flooded her cheeks and caused her to sputter. "Oh my God!" she practically threw the pickle back down on the tray in her mortification. "I'm so sorry. I thought it was mine, since I was still waiting for my food."
"You might as well keep it now since you took a bite out of it." The employee held the tray out to her so she could take the pickle back. As soon as the offending morsel was back in her fingers, the lady snatched the tray away, threw out the chips, and started refilling the tray.
All she could do was stand there with the pickle pinched between her fingers. She didn't know what to do with it. Should she eat it? Just hold it? Offer it to the guy? She snuck a peek at him out of the corner of her eye; he stood there leaning against the wall with his muscled arms crossed against his chest. He was watching her with a huge smile on his face.
He was still laughing at her.
Rose definitely wasn't going to offer him the rest of the pickle, but she still didn't know what to do with it. She felt too guilty to eat it.
Rose looked back at the counter at the same time she saw a movement out of the corner of her eye. The man had stood up from the wall and leaned in close to her, whispering in her ear and causing her to shiver. "It's not as big a deal as she's making it out to be. Don't worry about it." She felt his warm breath across the skin on her neck. Then he leaned in just a little closer and the tone of his voice dipped slightly lower. "Besides, it's not every day I get the honor of a woman as beautiful as you taking a bite out of my…pickle."
As quickly as he'd leaned in, he was gone. She shot him another wide eyed look—this time in reaction to his words—and saw him leaning back up against the wall with that damn smile spread across his face.
Finally, the lady set a tray on the counter with her pizza on it. She shot Rose a dirty look and shook her head, as she picked it up. She couldn't get away from the counter fast enough. Thankfully the girls had saved her a seat. She didn't bother to look at her friends as she sat down. She could already hear their snickers as they tried to hold back their laughter. Bella broke first with a loud guffaw, followed by the others.
"Fuck you!" she snapped at them. "I'm embarrassed enough as it is without you all cackling at me too."
It was Bella who spoke up first, only after her laughter was somewhat under control. "I'm so sorry, Rose..." Her sincerity was in serious doubt with her continued giggles. "…but you stole his pick…his pickle!"
She took a large bite of her pizza, stared at the offending pickle—it was definitely the pickles fault—while she chewed, and tried to ignore her friends. She was never going to live this down. By the time she was done and the girls had finally calmed down, the pickle was still on her plate. She didn't want to eat it, but she felt too guilty not to, so she picked it up and took a big bite. The pickle guy looked at her as she started to chew and winked at her before picking up his tray from his table and leaving the small café.
As they got up to leave, Alice asked her what the guy had said to her when he'd leaned in. He cheeks blossomed in another round of fierce blushes as she remembered his words. She didn't want to tell them, but she knew it was better to get it out and over with now rather than have them hound her all the way back to the hotel. Of course her confession brought on another round of laughter as they walked down the street.
"It's too bad you stole his pickle, Rose," Angela said. "He was kind of cute."
"Yeah, it's too bad you touched the forbidden pickle so soon. You know a girl should at least wait for the first date." Bella laughed again. "Now he probably thinks you're easy!"
"She is easy!" Alice half-yelled.
"I hate you all." Rose shook her head at her friends. She smiled then, knowing for sure she was definitely never going to live this down.