Chapter One

Not to be opened until Xmas

The little bell on the door tinkled as I pushed it open and stepped inside. The comic store had just opened, and by the looks of things, I was most definitely the first customer of the day, and wtih reason. I'd been waiting all week for this day. I was a regular here, had been for the past five years, since.. well, since I was 14, and still in high school. Obviously I'm not in school anymore, but I still come here, not so much to escape anymore or hide out, but because I've come to enjoy collecting these books.

Anyway, let's back up for a second, and I will explain. My name is Lucy. Plain name for a plain girl. I didn't dislike it really, I mean it could have been worse, right? They could have looked at the bright shock of fiery hair on my head as a baby and called me .. I dunno, I had no clue actually, something worse than Lucy anyway. Scarlet? I giggled out loud, and quickly covered my mouth. Yeah, thank god for Lucy. The laugh had attracted the attention of the clerk and he looked up at me and waved.

"Hey Luce! Bright and early today?"

"Yep, "I smiled and approached the counter.

Sam held his finger up in a wait here gesture, and I simply nodded, watching as he disappeared into his small storeroom and returned a moment later, holding in front of him the sealed book, a large grin on his face.

"Am I your favourite person today or what?"

I looked at him and my smile was wide.

"Sam, you're my favourite person of the month!"

Did he blush a little at that? He laughed a little and adjusted his thick glasses, pushing them up the bridge of his nose to readjust them, a nervous gesture. He was blushing, just a little. I smiled and inwardly was a little amused. I mean, don't get me wrong. Sam is a really nice guy and all, but we were just friends. Wait, were we friends? Yes, we definitely were. In the beginning, he was just the store clerk of a small comic book store and I was an awkward, painfully shy school girl, but enough years had gone by that I could comfortably classify him as a friend.

"Earth to Lucy."

"Oh! Sorry, I was just thinking."

"Penny for those thoughts?"

I swatted at his arm playfully.

"They're worth more than a penny,"I winked and then reached for the sealed comic in his hand, I turned the book over in my hands and smiled at him, "although, I'd almost give them up for nothing just because of this."

His grin got even wider, if that were even possible. He was all teeth this morning, and I had to admit, the toothy grin was infectious. I hoped he wouldn't try and flirt with me or anything silly like he had last week. That might result in an awkward conversation that would involve me having to say things such as "Listen Sam, you're a really nice guy but..." or "It's not you, it's me..."

I shook my head and laughed. He was so firmly in the friend-zone I hoped I never had to let him down like that. Some instinct told me that actually having to talk him into that neutral and very platonic place would make these weekly visits to my favourite store just, weird.

"Earth to Lucy again?"

January 1995. The X Files: Not to be opened until Xmas.

"Just wow." I placed the book on the counter, reluctant to even let it out of my hands for a minute and rummaged around in the bag I had slung over my shoulder that rested on my hip and fished out my wallet. The door bell tinkled again and I paid it no attention until the person who had just arrived was standing beside me, peering over my shoulder at the comic. Looking over my shoulder effortless I should add. The guy was really tall, he had several inches on my 5"4 frame at least.

"Nice find, "the male voice commented, bending for a closer look. He glanced at Sam, who was looking all pleased with himself and then at me. "You definitely weren't around when this was released. You just like the show?"

"I'd be concerned if you thought I even looked close to being around when this thing came out, "I quipped and he laughed, but quickly stopped again. Abruptly, he turned and disappeared behind one of the display cases at the back of the store, his attention no longer on either of us as he started leafing through comics in the DC section. I raised my eyebrow at Sam and he shrugged.

"Odd guy, Rob. Real hot and cold."

"You think?" I giggled and slid a fifty dollar bill across the counter. "Ugh, now I'm broke, BUT totally worth it."

He rung up forty-five dollars on the register, slipped the bill inside and dropped five dollars worth of change in gold coins into my waiting palm.

"Hey, Lucy, I never did ask you. Why such a big fan of the X-Files?"

I opened my mouth to begin to tell him about it, but then I noticed the clock on the wall behind him. I hadn't realized I'd been standing here this long already. 9:20am.

I stuffed the wallet in my bag, and slid the comic inside it after with more care than the former, and pointed at the time.

"I need to be at work in ten minutes, Sam. Remind me to tell you about it another time, okay?"