Trials: Part Four

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Anastasia marveled at the bustling building around her. She had obviously seen airports on TV, but never in person. Even living in Atlanta her whole life hadn’t prepared her for this many people, all running around. It was a little stressful.

Jean had dropped them off at the front, with what proved to be plenty of time to get through security, and find their terminal. Security had seemed only mildly bothered by having to deal with Paul. They had muttered something about ‘calling ahead next time’, but Anastasia glared them down.

Anastasia was wondering why Jean and Mr. Smith had wanted them there so early. They had, like, two hours to kill in a terminal, but they managed to kill time.

“You know, I’ve never been on a vacation before.”

“What?” Paul turned towards her. “How can you just not have gone on a vacation before?

Anastasia giggled a little, though with a hint of sadness behind it. “Oh, you know how it is. Poor girl from a poor family. We were barely able to make ends meet as is, and things didn’t exactly get much better once I left.”

“Oh…” Paul looked a little embarrassed.

She really hadn’t been intending to make him feel bad. She didn’t really feel that bad about it, so she added on. “I guess I DID go a few states away to see my grandfather once when I was little, but I don’t think that really counts as a vacation. I remember we went out to his house up by the Rockies, and he took my dad and me fishing out in a stream that ran by some wild blueberry bushes. Didn’t catch anything, but I did have a lot of fun.”

She paused. “That was a long time ago, though.”

“Well, I’m glad to be here for your first.”

“I’m glad too.” Anastasia smiled. She felt like that turned into a lot more of a bummer than she had originally intended. “Oh, I know, let’s play a game I used to play when I was a kid. The idea is we pick a stranger, and try to puzzle out what they’re doing here. I can just describe them for you.”

Paul smiled, “That sounds like fun! Let’s give it a try.”

Anastasia scanned the crowd and selected a random person. “There’s a white man in a black suit, wearing a hat, and carrying an over the shoulder bag. I bet he’s some kind of business man, heading to Turkey to close some big deal.” She paused to laugh a little bit.

“I don’t know, suit says FBI agent to me.”

“Oh, no way. I take mine back. He almost ran when he saw me looking at him. He’s probably some secret agent, sent to Europe to conduct some international espionage.”

Paul laughed as well. Anastasia noted his smile. He hadn’t been smiling like he used to lately, but he seemed to be acting more like his old self. “Alright, describe someone else.”

 


 

A couple of hours later, they had finally boarded the plane, and gotten seated. Anastasia subtly leaned into Paul, weary from Vanessa, the uncomfortable ride with Jean, the waiting…and everything else. She sighed contentedly. So much had changed, but finally, for once in her life, it felt like her happy ending was just around the corner. Her whole life, she’d always seen other people be the ones who excelled, and at a certain point, she figured happy endings were for other people, the whole who really “deserved” them. Even once she met Paul, a part of her still hung on to the thought that maybe it was only him and Vanessa who “deserved” that kind of happy ending. Though, now she wonder if anyone could really deserve it. Even still, the opportunity was here, and she as determined to not let her happy ending pass her by once again.

The shrill, steady voice of the flight attendant suddenly came onto the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts and prepare for takeoff.”

It had been a long day, but maybe, just maybe, her happy ending was finally beginning.

Eventually the plane took off, and the time began to pass. Anastasia looked across the stranger sitting to her right, and out the window, at the unending blue ocean below. It put things into perspective. Even as a superhero, she was still such a small part of the world.

She glanced over at Paul, who was sleeping to her left. Despite all of the noise, and all of the cool things going on around them, of course he would still find some way to sleep. She hoped he could find what he was looking for in Turkey. Not just having his sight restored, although that would be great. He had been acting different ever since the sewer. He seemed to just be ignoring all of his problems, and she was starting to get worried.

“I hope you’re okay…” She sighed.

“Have I got you worried?” He opened his eyes and turned to her.

Anastasia’s heart skipped a beat. “Well… You’re just acting different ever since the whole sewer incident. Then you broke up with Vanessa… It seems like there’s something wrong.” She hoped she wasn’t overstepping, but at the same time, she was really quite worried about him. In the end she prioritized his wellbeing over potentially upsetting him.

“I see.” He nodded, and went quiet for a moment. “Well, if I’m being honest, what happened with Jamal did leave a mark on me. Being kidnapped wasn’t great. That’s not really it though…”

“Well, what’s up then?”

He started to open his mouth to say something, but paused for a moment. He shook his head and smiled. “It’s not a big deal. I’d rather not sully your first vacation with my personal problems. I promise I’m okay.”

Anastasia nodded, but for some reason she felt like that wasn’t the truth. Regardless, she didn’t want to push the envelope, and they’d have plenty of time to talk about stuff like that later. “Alright. I believe you.”

 


 

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(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)

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