Here it is.
The final leg of the journey.
I have reached the land of completed stories, ladies and gentlemen, and it smells sweet.
To be honest, I doubt I'll be writing a sequel. I'm really not that creative.
And I can't thank you all enough, again, for being here throughout this entire story.
It's meant a lot.
Read & REVIEW
Dress as anything, they said. Make yourself a costume, they said. It won't be awkward, they said. Amanda growled repeatedly in her head, repeating everything that Graeme and Clive had listed off to her in their skype chat.
Two years have passed since she last saw the two of them in the flesh, as with Ruth, and none other than Paul. But, of course, she didn't expect to see Paul at Comic-Con. In an email from not too long before Comic-Con, Clive told her that something should be arrive in the mail for her sooner rather than later. Finally, just to stop being lazy, she got on her bike and rode down her long dirt driveway to her mailbox of her new little vacation house. After all the random stuff, albeit, very handy and glorious stuff, she's gotten in the mail from the two of them, she was hoping what they had sent her wasn't too extravagant or glorious.
When Graeme and Clive found their way back to England, they had only kept sporadic contact for about a year. Then, all of a sudden, messages began flooding her parents mailbox, that were then forwarded to her shared apartment in Vegas; all sent from London, England from a Mr. Clive Gollings and a Mr. Graeme Willy. Like the nice people they are, Amanda's roommates said nothing about her mail, but instead just stacked it all onto a small chair by the door. After a month and a half of unknowingly receiving things from her real friends, she finally picked up all the mail and saw it was hers.
Taking it onto the balcony, she eagerly opened each and every one of them, all containing checks of a large amount. Not a lot to make her quit her job, but enough to let her have some back up cash and some extra spending money. And how did the two men come about this? Well, after reading the letters coming with the checks, she put a timeline together of them slowly but surely selling their stories to comic companies. They left their number for her to call.
Wondering what they had exactly written about and why she was getting money for it, she called the number, ecstatic to hear Graeme's voice when he answered the phone. Putting it on speaker, she heard Clive explain to her that their story was about their entire journey to get Paul home, which means that whatever percentage of the pay Graeme and Clive thought she deserved, she would get. They claimed she deserved the money as much as they did.
More was coming, they also told her, saying that a new company was going to print it for them, while they were waiting on another company to decide whether they were going to distribute it. And if the comic ended up becoming a big hit, they'd need to find a company to make extra merchandise and they would try to move to America. But that would come much later.
Luckily for Amanda, none of her roommates were there, and didn't witness her screaming and jumping around in delight. Not so much for the money, but for the fact that their real life events with the coolest alien in the universe is going to be sold in millions of comic stores, to the public. And the world will think it's fiction, but they know that it's real. The nerd community would go nuts!
They promised her that they would send her one of the first printed editions of the comic, and she told them that she would be waiting eagerly for it. Eventually, it arrived, about two months later. She called them immediately and told them, and, again, screamed and jumped up and down in excitement. After getting more money, and eventually deciding to save it, then using money from her job after her big promotion to assistant manager for everyday things, she got enough to where she thought she could travel to Wyoming for cheap, hire enough people to help her pick up all the blasted wood from her Grandma's old house to salvage it, use the rest of the money to buy herself a condo in Vegas, and then once she saved up more money, she would make a home away from home out of the wood from her Grandma's house. Every time she went to that little cabin when it was finally completed a month before Comic-Con one year later (with some help from her parents, it was rebuilt), she would call and tell Graeme and Clive that she would be there, in case they wanted to send something.
And she just happened to be there when they sent her the email, telling her to check her mail. When she opened the letter from them, she pulled out a note that described all the fun things about Comic-Con, and then pulled out one, singular ticket to all three days of Comic-Con, just for her. Rushing back inside to her laptop, she opened it up and found that they were on Skype, which she had forced them to get.
She called them, and their faces appeared on the screen.
"You want me to go to Comic-Con?" she asked, looking at them skeptically.
Clive looked at Graeme, "Well it looks like she checked her mail."
"Because you told me to—and I don't know if I can get the time off. My boss was on my ass about me taking a week off to spend time in Moorcroft!" she sighed, scratching her head and shrugging.
They just explained that it would mean a lot to them for her to be there and see them. She asked why, and they said that they were doing a big panel at the con, and it would be nice to have both Ruth and Amanda there as support. Frustrated, she slumped her shoulders and shrugged.
"Honestly, you guys, this is so short notice."
"Just tell your boss the truth! You're going in honor of a very famous comic book that you happen to be in, and you need the time off." Clive shrugged.
"I don't think that'd work." Graeme muttered, looking off into the distance.
"I'm going because of your comic book?"
"Yes! We've made you VIP on our guest list!" Graeme said excitedly, grinning stupidly.
On and on they argued about how she would get the time off, and, after lots of convincing, she told them she would head home early to talk to her boss about it. Happily they high-fived and told her they had to go and pack to prepare for the weekend two weeks away. Amanda could hardly believe it was getting that close so soon. But if getting to go to Comic-Con meant leaving Moorcroft a little early and maybe even putting in some overtime at work, that was fine with her. It would be great to actually see them in person this time.
But, she knew, she would need a costume.
The very next day, after they had skyped, she drove down to Vegas and walked into work that evening at the nice, fancy restaurant on the strip. Looking casual, all of her co-workers knew she wasn't coming in to work an extra shift. They all gave her odd looks as she squeezed between empty tables during the pause between the dinner rush and the night owl hours, looking straight for her boss who stood with the cooks, showing them the menu for that night.
Tapping him on the shoulder, he turned to her, his head bald, his face clean, young, with a large brown mustache placed on his upper lips. He looked like a scary guy, but he was rather sweet. Tough, though. When he saw her, he quirked his big brown brow and smirked.
"Come crawling back early from your vacation, huh kid?" he snickered, the cooks all getting back to their business behind him. She sighed and set her hands on her hips.
"I'm here to make a deal with you." She muttered.
His brows raised and he smiled, his teeth a slight tint of yellow stained from lack of brushing and constant cups of coffee; "A deal? A deal for what? More vacation time?"
"Yes, and no. I have some very important business to take care of in two weeks."
"Yes, really. I happen to be a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON who needs to go to Comic-Con in San Diego. So I came home early to work for the rest of my "vacay", and then maybe get extra hours so I can get that weekend off without worry of you taking it out of my pay-check." She said rather quickly, morphing her tone into a non-negotiable concrete wall that she was sure he couldn't break through.
He furrowed his caterpillars and crossed his arms, leaning against the granite counter behind him, where they would place clean plates, ready to be put away between shifts.
"Very important person, huh?"
Again, she rolled her eyes, "Yes sir."
"And it's Comic-Con you said?"
He squinted at her, playing with his tongue behind his lips, examining her.
The moment the word escaped his lips, she sucked in a deep breath of air and almost fell to her knees. She jumped into the air, pumping her fists, repeating over and over again, 'YES YES YES'. He laughed and held out his hand.
"But on one condition. Since you've been working so hard already, I'm only going to let you work the rest of your vacation days, TWO SHIFTS A DAY, lunch and dinner, and then your normal hours next week."
She shrugged, "That's reasonable!— "
"AND. You have to take my nephew to Comic-Con."
"You heard me. My nephew is coming down to visit on his way to Comic-Con as well, for his birthday. Let my sister and her husband stay here and you can take him to San Diego with you. They'll pay you extra to watch him." He mentioned, propelling himself off of the granite table top and towards the podium at the front of the restaurant.
Scoffing, she spun on her heels and followed him, "But—I don't like kids!"
"Then no Comic-Con!" he called sweetly over his shoulder as a couple walked through the front doors.
"FINE." She growled, getting it over with as he greeted the couple and took their menus to a small table by the window.
And with that, she had successfully gotten herself time to go to Comic-Con, but she had to bring a kid with her. A kid she didn't know. She had to drive him, feed him, house him. Over and over again she had to remind herself that it would all be worth it, because she would be there to support Graeme, Clive, and secretly Paul. She'd survive with the kid, she knew she would.
So, two weeks passed, and she worked her ass off, serving people, doing assistant manager things, filling in for her actual boss while he had his Monday off. Finally, that Thursday, Amanda packed all her stuff into the back of her Volvo wagon and wore all the lightest clothes she had. When she wasn't working all that week, she had made costumes to wear, one in particular that she knew Graeme and Clive would get a laugh out of. Otherwise, her lightest clothes, that she would wear around town would be reminiscent of the good ole days. She had bought herself a new, black, v-neck t-shirt, a new pair of jean shorts, and a new pair of sandals. Like before, she put her hair back in that certain top-half pony tail.
She was ready for a good trip, and a great weekend at Comic-Con. She locked her car and trudged into the alleyway beside the restaurant, walking into the side door to avoid all the foot traffic at the front of restaurant during breakfast. Excitedly, she came up behind her boss and tapped his shoulder. He turned around and smiled, "There you are. My nephew's almost done with breakfast."
"Alright," she nodded, "I can wait."
Shifting her weight onto one foot, she turned and looked out at all of the people sitting around eating and enjoying themselves. Old couples, young couples, groups of bachelors and bachelorettes, business men, business women, the stereotypical Hawaiian shirt tourist, and small families. She picked out all of the small families, hoping to find his nephew and just be able to grab him once he was done eating and run for it. Finally, she spotted a cute little family. A balding dad with glasses, a sweet little mom with short blonde hair and glasses, and a cute little wavy haired kid with glasses. The hair looked the most familiar, and she couldn't help but stare. He wiped his mouth on his napkin and nodded to his parents who smiled and pulled out their chairs. They all stood up and began to politely move their way through the restaurant towards them. The kid held a book in his hands and Amanda smiled, knowing he would be preoccupied with it during the ride.
Her boss stepped out in front of them and hugged the woman, his sister. They talked and her boss gestured to her, smiling. The couple grinned and shook her hand, thanking her for taking their son. Now that she had thought about it, she was surprised they were trusting her. But her boss must've said something good about her to them.
"Thank you so much for taking him for us."
"It's really no problem Mrs. Nash, anything for the family of my boss." She laughed and the dad chuckled. He reached behind his wife and pulled his son between them.
"Son, say hello."
"Hello." He repeated, not looking up at her. They all laughed at his "shyness" and Amanda just smirked. He couldn't be much older than twelve.
"Amanda, this is Keith." They said through chuckles. She held out her hand immediately, speaking quickly.
"Hi there—Keith…" she suddenly said, the name ringing through her head. He looked up at her and an image of a small boy in a karate suit, stealing a comic book from a store flashed through her mind. Her eyes widened, and so did his. He took her hand and shook it, while he used his comic book hand and flipped over the book to look at the back. The title and cover was of an alien, PAUL. And a drawing of her character was stamped on the back, in the same outfit.
"Hi Amanda." He smiled.
His parents looked at each other confused, knowing they hadn't told him her name yet, because even they didn't know. She held onto his hand and smirked, "You ready to go?"
"Definitely." He nodded. His mom smiled and bent down to kiss his cheek.
"Have a good time, honey." His parents cooed.
"Take care of him." Her boss warned. She nodded and led Keith out of the restaurant by the hand.
"Of course! Bye!" she assured.
They climbed into the car and immediately Keith shoved the comic book in her face. He started to rave about how the comic was great and how he couldn't believe that she, Amanda, from the story, who he remembered meeting, was taking him to Comic-Con, where he planned on meeting Graeme and Clive. She drove him to San Diego, the entire time they talked about Paul and what had happened two years before then, which Amanda was glad to say that she remembered everything. And he was the first person she admitted to that she missed Paul dearly, and that she had developed a little crush on him. Keith laughed and pointed out that they had added it into the plot.
Amanda nearly slammed on the breaks on the bleak highway when he said that. They had added awkward, sexual tension filled moments between her and Paul. She really should've read the comic for herself, or at least been given a proof-read of it. That wasn't fair. It was a tease and embarrassing because they could just tell that they liked each other.
She'll complain about it when she sees them. Maybe.
Eventually, they got to the hotel in San Diego late in the evening and just set up camp and watched some alien movies before going to sleep. The next morning, too excited and giddy to do anything else, Amanda jumped out of bed before Keith and jumped into the shower, ready to comb out her hair to see how long it was for her costume. Keith got up an hour later, after Amanda had dressed and had put a trench coat over her outfit. She handed Keith a walkie-talkie and gave him specific instructions, that if he ever strayed away, he would walkie-talkie to tell her where he was, and they would keep in contact until Keith was ready to meet up with her. She wasn't going to hold him back from having fun.
They ran down to the street below, ready to skip across the street to the center where Comic-Con was being held. The streets and sidewalks were majorly crowded and Amanda couldn't help but get butterflies, looking up at the posters and signs. They did, in fact, skip across the street until they got inside, when they jumped around in happiness.
Amanda knelt down beside Keith and took him by the shoulders, crinkling his crisp white karate suit. She smiled at him, telling him that she was going to let him go, and that he would have to keep his walkie-talkie ready, and to meet her at the panel in two hours, when the program said it would be. He nodded and she pushed him off. She trusted him to be okay.
Her first job, of anything was to drop off her coat at a coat return or something, or even throw it away so she could find where she was supposed to go; the place she knew they would be. She pulled off the trench coat to reveal a slave Leia costume, realistically put together with hair and everything. She was prepared to, hopefully, turn some heads. In a matter of no time, she found the group of slave Leia's that she figured Clive and Graeme would want a picture with. She ran up behind them, trying to peek around them to see who they were taking a picture with. And in fact, she recognized the two heads.
The Leia's were gathered on top of a step that would let some of them be higher than the rest, and she hid behind them. When the picture was taken, they all scattered and Graeme and Clive raved about the picture, paying no heed to what was coming up behind them. Amanda climbed onto the step and tip-toed towards them, the cloth swinging quietly between her legs. Finally, she pounced, wrapping her arms around their shoulders, her toes still on the step, so she could drape over them with all of her weight. They both gasped and pulled away from her, so she almost landed on her face until Clive grabbed her arm.
"My goodness my lady, you have seemed to have gone astray from the pack!" Clive joked.
Amanda pushed her head piece up from her eyes and smiled up at them, "I've been astray a while, so I think I've found my pack." She winked.
Graeme gasped and actually screamed joyously, helping her to her feet and hugging her tightly, pulling her all around, spinning and twisting. Clive joined in and they squished her in a sandwich. She could hardly believe they were holding her, looking at her in the flesh. She could easily keep the tears away but she couldn't keep away her butterflies. She was so happy to see them. Cupping both of their faces in her hands, she kissed their cheeks and hugged them individually while they laughed about her costume.
"It looks really great! I had no idea you would actually do it."
"What, did you guess I would?"
"We bet, actually." Clive snorted.
Amanda crossed her arms and wagged her finger at them, "Taking bets on me. How barbaric!" she joked.
They all laughed and she told them about the walkie-talkie connected to her hip and Keith Nash, who they instantly remembered. They were surprised that something like that could occur. But then they realized that, after meeting Paul, anything could happen.
"He just happens to be my Boss' nephew. What are the odds of that?" Amanda laughed, smirking at the walkie-talkie.
"Did he recognize you?" Graeme asked.
"Yes, luckily, because of those." She nodded, gesturing to a stack of Paul comic books on an information table. Clive laughed and nudged Graeme, "That means you drew her perfectly. Very identifiable."
Graeme stuffed his hands into his pockets and shrugged, looking down at his shoes. Amanda clasped her hands together and grinned at them as Clive pulled out a thin, folded book from his pocket and began scanning his finger down a long list of time frames for panels and pictures and questions. She smirked and tried to listen to them talk while they both mumbled and grumbled to her about Adam Shadowchild and the ever changing time slot for their panel of questions. They were excited, because it had originally been set to two o'clock in the afternoon, but when they had arrived the afternoon before, they had gotten five different calls about five different time changes to their panel time.
But, with a satisfied grin, they told her that they had finally secured the two o'clock slot for their panel.
"You're seated in the very front row with Ruth." Graeme nodded.
"I'll have to bring Keith, are there enough seats?" she asked, looking over her shoulders, like she could magically find Keith not too far away.
"Maybe, but we could probably bring out an extra chair or something. It wouldn't be that hard. Hopefully." Clive shrugged, looking at Graeme like it was manageable.
Amanda smiled and cocked her head, "Aw, look at you guys. Doing business and stuff. Who woulda thought that you two would've gotten here—to Comic-Con—with your own panel!"
"Don't sound so shocked." Clive snorted.
"I'm not surprised. This is an amazing feat and only you two could've gotten yourselves here."
"You were some help, and obviously, so was Paul." Graeme said, crossing his arms and gesturing the pile of comics that Amanda had pointed out to them before. Amanda sullenly smirked and nodded, "That's true."
"You alright?" Graeme asked, furrowing his brows. Clive glanced from the comics to Amanda, who looked at them, her brows raised, her hands messing with her skirt.
"Hm? Oh yeah, it was just a long drive yesterday." She said, waving it off. They nodded and began to turn around, telling her how they were going to give her a tour.
Suddenly, Amanda reached out and grabbed their arms, stopping them from running into someone in a very elaborate costume. They gasped and the person in the costume stopped directly in front of them, began making weird hand gestures, and spoke in an odd voice and space language. Clive glared at them and Graeme tried not to chuckle, "I'm sorry, who are you?"
The masked person reached up and pulled off their large helmet disguise and revealed a short haired, more dolled up Ruth. She shook the hair out of her face and smiled, "Someone who loves you."
Graeme gasped and held out his arms, stepping forward to hug her. Clive sort of rolled his eyes and started forward, gesturing for Amanda to follow him, trudging past the happy couple, Graeme muttering something about how Ruth was going to dress up as Wonder Woman that day. Amanda just rolled her eyes and snuck in a hug with Ruth, who squeezed her tightly.
"What time is the panel?" Ruth asked, looking down at the program in Graeme's hand.
"And it's only noon now, so what should we all do?" Clive asked, clapping his hands together and rubbing them ferociously.
Graeme shrugged, "Uh, I dunno, we could go and look at some other panels, or go and stop at the uh…food court…"
They all began pushing into a crowd that had flooded into that area, looking for who knows what. Amanda scrunched up her nose at the sight, peering over her shoulder at the blank space where they had just been standing, finding it odd that that spot was so open and suddenly the next part of the building was bustling with activity.
She looked forward again and barely saw Graeme's red hair disappear in the mass. Groaning she picked up her speed to try and push her way through the people. She grabbed at people's arm and shoulders, gently shoving them away, clearing herself a path, slowly but surely. No one turned around and got angry, no one swore at her, no one even reacted; they just allowed themselves to be thrown around by her. Shrugging, she continued pushing, seeing the back of Ruth's head, just before her, not too far. But she didn't notice the person coming at her, a man only slightly taller her with a little chub on him, but not an existential amount, his hair short and curly, shining and light redish auburn. Unlike the rest of the crowd, he wasn't wearing any special outfit, just jeans and a t-shirt. Behind him, he pulled along a person in a costume, covered in a mask. Harshly, they smashed shoulders, and Amanda almost stumbled to the side. She growled and shook her head.
"OH—my bad!" he gasped.
"Watch it, asshole." She muttered to herself, talking over his apology.
"Well fuck you Princess Leia, who put you on such a high…walker…" he hesitated, but she could barely hear him over the sound of the crowd she was surrounding herself with. She barely even looked over her shoulder.
Just a loser trying to apologize…a worthless apology in this place… she thought to herself, finally escaping the ocean of bodies and finding her three friends waiting for her.
"Thought we lost you in there." Ruth laughed.
"For a second, you did." Amanda smirked, walking past them towards the food court.
For two hours they basically only sat in the food court, just talking and catching up. They all got to hear Kevin when Amanda had walkie-talkied him to remind him when the panel was. He said he would meet her at the food court when she said she was ready to take him to their seats. During their conversation, Amanda had learned that Clive and Graeme were planning on moving to America, and that Ruth had moved out of her dads place and had slowly been finding jobs and jumping from apartment to apartment until she finally settled in one in California. Graeme and Clive were going to live with her until they had picked out there own condos, or even a house they could share. Amanda smiled all the while, noticing every other ten minutes that she would see the man she bumped into and his friend. After they had spoken, they pulled her from her trance of looking for the stranger and got her to talk. Chuckling, she told them her story of what's been happening to her over the last two years and they all seemed impressed with her magic business skills and dealings with her boss for so much vacation time, still able to land a promotion.
"You must work very hard." Clive smiled.
"I do, so it's good that I get this kind of time off." Amanda nodded.
"When was the last time you all saw each other?" Ruth laughed, looking between all of them. Apparently, Ruth had traveled to England to see them a few times in the duration since the incident with Paul. And Ruth was amazed to find out that they all hadn't seen each other since then.
Graeme nodded and sipped his drink, "It's a shame, really. We've missed you a lot."
"A day hasn't gone by when we haven't mentioned you." Clive pointed out. "And I'm not exaggeratin'." He pointed out when Ruth narrowed her eyes at him.
Amanda smiled and played with her fries, "You guys have no idea how much I've missed spending time with you. These two years have been the longest two years of my life." She scoffed, finally eating a long greasy fry. There was silence between them, and Ruth excused herself to go to the bathroom. Amanda pressed her lips together and looked at them, "Sorry if my missing you guys made it awkward."
"We just don't know what to say." Clive chuckled, finishing his fries.
"Yes we do. And it's that we've missed you too. It's been hard seeing only Ruth and never seeing you. Not saying that it's bad to see Ruth but…it's just not the same when we've only spoken to you over the phone and have only seen you over skype…what, once?" Graeme shrugged. Amanda nodded, staring at her barely touched plate, "It wasn't fair. Hearing your voice was like listening to the voice of a dead person for the first time since they've died." He joked.
"Are you saying I'm boring to talk to?" Amanda asked, glaring at them.
"No! No definitely not—" they both began to ramble, but she lifted her hand and laughed.
"I get what you mean."
They sighed and checked their watches. "It's about time we start heading over there early. We'll go and find Ruth and you can go get Kevin." Clive announced, standing up. Amanda nodded and pushed herself to her feet. They waved and began to walk away as she pulled off her walkie-talkie.
"Okay Kev, it's time to head to the panel. You ready?"
"Ready!" Kevin said from behind her. She gasped and turned around to look at the smiling kid. With a sigh she laughed and pulled him away from the food court, "Come on."
Eagerly, they began walking towards the panel, Kevin asking her loads of questions about Graeme and Clive. She just rolled her eyes and patted his shoulder, telling him that he would learn enough about them and the comic at the panel and that he should just wait. They found the big space and walked down towards the front row, squeezing between people who stood in the aisles, mingling in their costumes. Amanda sat down next to Ruth who had already found a seat. They said hello and Ruth introduced herself to Kevin before Amanda gestured to his seat between Ruth and herself.
Quickly, people gathered into the seats and the whole place was filling up as the time was winding down. A very familiar waitress had even taken the seat on the otherwise of Ruth and was speaking with her. Amanda could only smirk and try not to giggle to herself, looking at the program.
The lights began to dim and everyone began to cheer as Adam Shadowchild stepped out. Amanda's mouth dropped open and she let out a mighty guffaw at the odds of that. She grinned shook her head and just clapped with the rest of the audience, standing up with, well, the rest of the audience. Kevin was transfixed by it all, staring expectantly up at Mr. Shadowchild like he was a god. Amanda stared down at him and saw every reflection in his glasses, his hands clutching the comic, turning his knuckles white.
On her other side, she could feel the people move around and then suddenly stop. She could feel a new presence, like new people had switched seats with the others. Curious, while everyone listened she trailed her eyes up the man's shoes to his face. It was the man that she had seen all over the place, like he was stalking her. The sight of him made her sigh exasperatedly, and turn away hurriedly, catching his attention.
"Oh hey, Princess!" he laughed, pointing at her, his other hand in his pocket. "I didn't know you'd be at this panel, what are the odds?" he shrugged. His deep, gravelly, sincere voice sent chills down her spine, but she tried to ignore the feeling.
She shook her head, "Cut the act, I've seen your face in the same place for the past two hours, you've been following me."
He looked around awkwardly, "I…how can I follow someone that's been in only one place?"
"Don't twist my words please, I'm really not in the mood to talk with some loser who gets off on seeing a pissed off chick in a slave Leia outfit." She said nonchalantly, staring up at Adam Shadowchild, keeping her tone quiet and calm.
From her peripheral, she could see him roll his eyes and shrug, "Whatever. Sure, your costume is great but I didn't come here to follow you. I have an interest in this comic, so I wanted to come here." He growled. She snorted and folded her hands in front of her.
"Whatever you say." She chuckled, looking over at his friend in the mask, who just stared at them. She scrunched up her nose and looked back up at the stage. The man smirked once she scrunched her nose and he also looked up at the stage.
Adam was arguing with a woman offstage who was telling him to just introduce Graeme and Clive. The man pointed up at the stage, "So do you know them personally?"
She glared at him. "It's just an observation, I saw you sitting with them the one time I passed the food court. That doesn't mean I'm stalking you—I'm not that kind of piece of shit guy." He defended. She sighed and nodded.
"Yes, I know them personally."
"Yeah…I figured. You seemed familiar." He laughed. She slumped her shoulders, "So you've been following me because I seem familiar to you?" she asked, setting her hands on her hips and turning to him angrily. He took a step away.
"Hold the fucking phone! Like I said, I'm not stalking you! You look familiar because of THIS." He argued, pulling out the Paul comic from his pocket.
Frustrated, Amanda sighed and looked away again, occasionally peeking at the exasperated man who just threw his hands into the air and turned away. Something really was off about him, but it wasn't his "stalkerish" qualities. She licked her teeth under her lips and, without looking at him, held out her hand, "My name's Amanda."
"I know." He muttered.
"I'm trying to formally introduce myself, just shake my God damn hand." She hissed. He grabbed her hand and shook it.
She shut her eyes tight and hissed through her gritted, "You just happened to be named Paul, you know that I'm in the comic and you like the comic Paul. That's funny."
"I know, right? It's crazy." He chuckled, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
"If you think it's gonna get you in my pants, you've got another thing coming." She muttered, examining her nails.
"You jump to conclusions way too fast, this is why I don't normally hit on women." He quickly sighed, sounding like he was finally giving up on talking to her.
"I'm glad you don't, saves women like me from embarrassing you." She shrugged, feeling like she was being a little harsh to him. But he was being kind of creepy, so she thought it was okay. He threw his head back and laughed, "Women like you? And what kind of women are like you?" he joked.
An image of Paul promising to come and be with her flashed through her mind and she tried to find the right words to describe what kind of woman she was. A hopeless romantic? A lonely, self-conscious romantic? A woman who just missed her friends more than anything and really doesn't need a guy whatsoever? She sucked in a breath and let it out slowly, "A woman…who is saving herself for someone."
The man stayed quiet as a few people cheered when Adam was beginning to lead up to introducing Graeme and Clive. He looked at her a few times before quietly saying, "You're saving yourself for someone."
"Yes, for someone who said they're coming back. Sorry to disappoint you."
"It's not that…he must be a very lucky guy." He said sincerely, shifting uncomfortably.
"He is…if only he knew."
The man nodded and looked down at his feet, "He knows."
Amanda, confused now, turned to him, glaring. "What the hell do you mean?" she asked, staring him down.
"I said he knows—he knows he's lucky!" he said clearer, calling over the impending cheers. She glared at him and crossed her arms, backing away. "What the hell do you know, you don't know anything about me."
"The thing is, I do Amanda. I really do—and I know that he knows that he's lucky to have someone like you waiting for him. And he thinks about you everyday, hoping he can find a way to get back and satisfy you." Paul the human described, staring up at Adam Shadowchild and partially the ceiling.
Pressing her lips together, she reached forward and pulled the comic out of his pocket, flipping to the very back. He gasped at her sudden movement and stared at her like she was crazy. "The fuck are you doing?" She shook her head, flipping through the pages, "how the hell did they end this stupid comic?" she growled.
He pulled at it and finally got it out of her hands, and threw it to the ground, holding both of her hands. "Amanda, it's me!" he said, trying to pull her close, trying to look into her eyes. She shook her head and tried to pull away but he tightened his grip.
"Amanda, please, it's me! It's Paul! I said I would come back to you! And I'm here."
"You—are crazy. I'm getting security or something!" she barked at him, looking around, expecting guards to be posted at every door, the cheers rising as Graeme and Clive walked out onto the stage. No one could hear her and the human Paul talking.
"But Amanda it's me!"
"This is so not funny—you aren't funny! Now let me go!" she demanded.
"Amanda please believe that it's me! I crashed the car? I took your voice, I found your center, I spoke in my sleep, I crashed my ship onto YOUR grandmothers dog? Tara? I made Ruth lose her faith in God—remember?"
This man named Paul must've been playing with her. Her feelings were becoming too delicate for him not to somehow know that she was so vulnerable and weak. He somehow knew what would get her; and he probably knew enough about her and Paul that the comic didn't have in it's pages. She didn't want to find out what he knew either, or how he knew it, she didn't want to know that he knew her secrets.
She loved Paul, and him trying to convince her of who he was, was tearing her apart. How could someone just think that they could get away with calling themselves Paul and crawl their way into her life. Paul could barely do that at the beginning of their friendship. She continued, with all her might to pull away, but he was pretty strong.
"Let me go!"
"I promised I would come back on that one condition. On the condition that I would come back—" he began, his hands letting go of her wrists and latching onto her waist, pulling her closer. She gasped and placed her fists on his chest, "—as a human, so I could be with you and hold you like I'm doing now!"
With eyes like a hawk, he scanned her body, looking mighty impressed with what he was feeling up at the moment. With probable tears in her eyes, she looked up into his, the ones that darted to hers, allowing her to see nothing but sincerity and lifetimes of knowledge. She didn't want to believe it.
"I'm here…I'm here in the human flesh to do exactly what you wanted." He muttered loosening his grip on her waist. The crowd was still screaming about Graeme and Clive.
"I don't want to believe you…" Amanda whispered.
From behind him, his friend in the mask stepped forward and pulled off his metal face. The face behind the mask made her gasp, for she looked into the eyes of her grandmother, Tara. "Mandy, darling, believe him. It's really him."
"…Grandma?" Amanda choked out, looking at Tara in shock. Her grandmother was there. She was supposed to be on a planet, billion and billions of miles away. And yet there she was. With Paul.
She looked back to the man claiming to be Paul and saw him on the ground on one knee. His hand slipped down her arm and held her hand, allowing the other one to fly up to her mouth, "Oh—you've got to be kidding me—" she coughed, wanting to step away.
Everything was happening so fast.
"Babe, I said I would come back when my people invented something that will disguise me as a human." He grinned, flipping her hand over and pinching his fingers together in her palm.
"You said—and I quote—give me a ring when that happens." He grinned as she muttered the same words as well, remembering exactly what she had said.
He pulled his pinched fingers from her palm and out floated a silver ring with ribbons of gold twisted around the entire bang. She gasped and wanted to close her hand, but she knew not to. He let out a sigh, having used a lot of energy to produce it, and he grinned up at her.
"Oh my God—I meant a phone call—"
Standing up, he came eye to eye with her and fumbled to stick the ring on her finger and she mumbled to herself about how she meant a phone call until she could, finally, pull her arms away, wrap them around his shoulders and kiss him.
When she did, it was like fireworks for her.
The crowd cheered around them and Graeme and Clive waved to the entire audience while Amanda practically begged Paul through smashed and muffled lips to hold her tighter and kiss her harder. She was kissing alien Paul because he had kept his word. He could still be himself, but for now, he had found a way to be a human for her.
So she had Graeme and Clive again, and now Paul was there for her, and would be there for her, hopefully for forever.
Everyone would have to know her name—she would shout it to the world.
Amanda, the girl who loves an alien.