Previous Chapter Fourteen: Encounters of the Third Kind
Hi friends! Thank you for waiting for this one! I knew where the story was going but was having trouble executing it so hopefully this longish chapter will make up for it. Hope you enjoy!
Thank you to everyone who has read this story in any capacity! I appreciate you all so much.
Chapter Fifteen: He Returns
“On the count of three.”
Everyone plunged their hands together, stacked on each other and shaking as the energy moved through them. It was almost visibly pulsing between them and feeding off of the crowds waiting beyond the curtain in front of them.
Frank eyes moved between the five of them as he bounced side to side, bumping into Julia each time. He looked like he was born to wear a suit. Maybe it was Peter who was aware of the uncomfortable clothes framing his body.
Monica’s hand not in the circle was gripping the notecards they’d spent days making and hours going over. Highlights and red annotations covered crammed space on the small paper. Her hair was in some type of bun today and Peter thought she looked regal, very adult-like in her black pantsuit.
Julia’s hand was at the bottom of their stack below Peter’s. Stored in her backpack was a bursting-at-the-seams binder filled with their notes from all the months of their work. The past week Julia met up with him at the library. They went through and organized all of paperwork in case Monica needed some obscure reference.
She held his gaze as they finished their countdown. A small smile rose under her steeled eyes.
Their hands ascended.
The stage taunted them from where they stood in the wings.
Frank grinned while Julia narrowed her eyes. Monica whipped up her notecards, beginning to go through them again, and Peter squeezed his eyes shut.
A tech alerted them it was their time to present. Monica hugged them all one last time and walked on stage. The rest of them peered around the curtain trying to get a glimpse of their teammate while she presented. Her words were loud and clear, and Peter’s eyes strayed to the captive audience, overlooking all the heads and searching for one in particular. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to find the certain person amongst the crowd or not.
Julia nudged his side and his attention shifted back to Monica.
Peter winded through the crowd trying to spot Frank, the tallest of their group, over the heads of everyone milling about the room.
He tried not to think about how strange it was being in the Tower again. How he knew down the hallway through the first door there on the left was a broom cupboard where Mr. Stark showed him a stash of snacks. ‘Easy access on the way to meetings’ the man had said. He withheld the urge to find an empty room so he could talk to Friday, afraid he might end up like those employees yelling to empty rooms with no hopes of an answer. His stomach turned at the thought that their friendship was contingent on his internship.
People were gathered in groups waiting for the news and he ignored his racing heart. Peter fiddled with his tie. He loosened it and attempted to straighten it only to shorten the front material. It was crumpled by the time he was done ‘fixing’ it.
The presentation was over and his internship would be done with the announcement at the end.
Monica was a queen. She gave the presentation, nailed the question and answer portion by redirecting their inquiries and concerns with a smile and no hesitation. They ran to her once she exited the stage and held her arms until she got to a chair, which she promptly melted into it. Monica smiled, drained but happy, as they showered her in praise. Her hand covered her mouth as she muffled her giggles like a child.
“I can’t believe we did it. That was… amazing.” She giggled and relaxed back into the chair.
“You freaking nailed it, Mon. Like seriously amazing stuff.” Frank said.
They walked back to the waiting room and sat together on the couch, pressed side-by-side as they watched the other groups representatives present on the monitor stacked in the corner of the room. Flash popped his head in after his group went and then they were sent into the crowd to mingle with different companies and ‘influential’ people in attendance.
His team took to this portion of the day with gold stars. Even Julia got in there and got the card of a small start-up asking her to email them when she graduated.
It felt like the whole state of New York was there. All of them dressed in tailored suits and dresses, their posh hair and clinking glasses catching Peter’s attention with every turn. He observed these groups as he continued on his search. People laughed imbibed from the courage generously poured into the glasses.
He wasn’t oblivious enough to say no one wanted to talk to him. That would be false, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he wasn’t worth their time. A tall woman with dark hair had asked for his resume assuming he was older than a freshman. He didn’t even know how to fill out a check and she wanted to know his work experience. With a polite nod, Peter took her card and walked away. He ended up finding Flash digging into the buffet, who he followed around until Flash joined up with his own team.
Peter couldn’t correct the tightness in his necktie no matter how much his fingers played with the material. His rented tux drooped around his shoulders but was too short in the pants. At least he was wearing his trusty Converse. Once May got over her initial tears at seeing her baby dressed so nice she had zeroed in on the offensive footwear. Her objections were minimal at his insistence and she gave in noticing the tightness in his jaw. In the end she shrugged her shoulders and said most people would be looking at his face and not his footwear. Peter didn’t stop blushing until they were on the subway into the city.
“Hey Peter.” Julia called and his teammates closed the gap between them, carving a space between the other groups of people.
“We’ve got it in the bag, don’t you think?” Frank said, eyeing the plate filled with small appetizers in Julia’s hands. She saw his wandering gaze and moved her plate over so it was further away from him.
“Of course, we will.” She said. “Get your own food.” She added but extended the plate over at the puppy eyes and pout Frank was shooting towards her. He snatched up the miniature hotdog and moaned while he chewed.
“I don’t know how you can eat at a time like this.” Julia said. Peter watched as he snuck another hotdog off Julia’s plate when she bent over to say something to Monica. He winked at Peter.
“Dude, this is so good. All vegan it says and I won’t be eating anything like this in the college dorms.”
Julia asked if he’d been assigned his roommate and he began to tell them how he’d matched right away with a cello-playing, Hawaiian shirt-wearing Political science major.
Monica moved to the side, stepping out of their circle. Peter stared at the back of her head not believing who was standing beside her.