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Favourite Artist

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“Since when are you even into all this stuff, anyway?” Penelope strolled alongside Spencer in one of the emptier hallways at the convention. A local comic convention, to be exact. They didn’t have too many in Virginia, and they never lined up with work schedules, so the two friends were happy to have the week off doing something lighter.

Spencer wasn’t a big drinker, no matter how much Garcia liked to put a glass of wine in his hand, so he was very happy to be spending time out without it being some kind of club or bar. He felt far more relaxed, and he most definitely couldn’t wait to hear from some of the bigger comic writers and artists.

“Why wouldn’t I like comics? They’re one of the most accessible forms of literature- images used to convey the story rather than relying on words, making them easy for children and non-native speakers to read them. Plus they have such a vibrant culture, so many different fans and comics are used for so many varieties of stories.” He smiled down at his friend despite the small shaking of her head.

Garcia was one of the few people who let Spencer run his mouth, knowing herself that even she was a bit much sometimes. Plus they were having a fun, work-free weekend- and if he was talking about something she understood stood, he could run his mouth all he liked.

“Oh yeah, hot shot? Couldn’t you just say you read them as a kid.” She giggled at him and he smiled back.

“Yes, I read them as a kid.” He replied, taking a sip of the half-finished takeout coffee he held loosely in one hand.

“Well you’re certainly not in it for the girls.” She started, stopping outside a large hall, figuring out which direction she wanted to head in. “I’m the hottest one on the scene.”

He mumbled at her loosely, waiting while she chose which direction to go in. He’d already decided and told her which places he wanted to go to and when, so the rest of the time he’d left the decisions to his friend.

“Actually women are much more prominent in the comic book scene than is commonly though, in physical comic book purchases around 40% of buyers are women.” He rolled off the fact easily, looking around and counting the number of women in the room to amuse his brain, it was something for him to do.

It was around 47% women, he tried to account for everyone moving around and obstructing his view.

“Oh yeah?” Garcia countered off-handedly, trudging in a particular direction. Spencer followed a step behind. “What about women making the comics?”

“In mainstream companies it’s a surprisingly low number, around 10-15%. In independent publishers I assume it’s a lot higher.” He scrunched his nose at the number, not that he was a huge fan of mainstream comic companies. They tended to be repetitive and far too sexualised for his liking. He just liked the stories.

Garcia wasn’t paying attention, he realised that when he glanced back to her. She was looking for someone in particular, he realised. He could probably figure out who if he thought about it, but she’d spent so much time on the drive here rattling off different names of people she wanted to meet, she probably wanted to meet everyone in the room.

“Ah!” She gasped giving a little smile to her friend, then heading over to a particular corner of the room. An illustrator, he gathered, by the large posters around him. Purple and pink mainly, and he was sure he recognised the art style, he just needed to remember the name.

“Really? That was one of my favourites too! I think I read it religiously when I was 16. That was when I had just started illustrating myself, actually.”

Garcia had begun to approach you, who was chatting idly with a couple of teenagers. The conversation seemed to be finishing up and Garcia seemed determined to speak to you next.

“No, of course, Yeah! It’s so lovely to meet you.” You smiled brightly at the pair as they left, giving one of them a soft brush on the shoulder. You held a coffee in the other hand, taking a rushed sip of it once they had turned away. You mustn’t have drank any while talking, probably finding it rude- a habit he had too.

He studied you quickly as you stood, trying to recognise you for a minute. But you were pretty, really pretty. You were smiling and you stood so easily in a crowded room, he even noticed the t-shirt you wore from your own comic book. His brain felt fuzzy for a moment when Garcia took another step closer to you, him being too focused on you to be aware of his surroundings.

“Hi, there.” You smiled sweetly when you noticed the pair, quickly taking another sip of your coffee. “I’m sorry, I’m doing more talking than drinking, and if I don’t drink enough coffee I won’t make it through the afternoon.”

You placed the empty cup down on the table behind you before moving closer to Garcia, shaking her hand quickly and then Spencer’s. Garcia rattled off a quick ‘no problem’ when you had reached for her hand, returning a bright smile not dis-similar to yours.

You smiled again at the taller man standing next to the blondie, his smile perfectly sweet. You couldn’t help but peek at the messy hair on his head when you shook his hand, before glancing back down at his face. He was handsome, exactly your type. And you bit the corner of your lip slightly when you had the thought.

And then Reid realised who you were.

“I’ve gotta say, I haven’t had a chance to buy your recent book yet, but I adored your last one and I can’t wait to read it.” Garcia had already rambled off before you could get in so many words, but you accepted what you heard regardless.

“Thank you so much! We are selling the new one around here somewhere if you have a chance to grab it. They didn’t trust me having any more here, I’ve already given away far too many for free.” Spencer noticed you’d forgone the table and chair everyone else in the room had, choosing to stand in front of it and chat instead. Though you didn’t seem to attract the crowds anyone else had, so he supposed you could be more relaxed than the rest. “So what’s your names?”

“Oh! I’m Penelope and this is my friend Spencer.” He held up a small wave at the mention of his name, even if it wasn’t necessary. He couldn’t help it at this point. At that he realised he’d shook your hand when they’d approached, he hadn’t even registered it. Usually he’d reject the contact, but he must’ve been a bit too struck by you. Huh.

“Wow, I really liked your last book. I finished it in less than an hour, it was the only comic I read that January. Actually, it really reminded me of old American western movies, I liked your take on them. Hard to do that in a comic.” He smiled again, unconsciously slipped the hand you’d touched into his pocket.

“Well thank you, I’m glad you noticed it. But an hour? Impressive, I’m flattered.” You leaned back onto the table, something you must’ve done when you became more comfortable with the conversation.

“An hour? It probably took him 5 minutes, he’s just trying not to brag.” Garcia had butted in before she could be stopped, leaving a very red faced Spencer. He looked up to the comic book artist with an almost embarrassed face, and shifted slightly on his feet.

“Really?” You teased, a smile playing near your lips. You looked him up and down again, noticing the way he had shifted and the small tinge on his cheeks. Oh he was definitely cute.

“U-m yeah, I guess. I can read 20,000 words a minute, but I do like to linger on the art.” He smiled lightly, earning a brighter smile and a nod from you. Huh. He’d still elbow Garcia as soon as they walked away.

“Huh.” You quirked an eyebrow at him, hoping for a small reaction. “I don’t know if I should be offended that I’m such a quick read, but I think I’ll let you get away with it.”

“Please don’t be.” He croaked out, unable to take his eyes off of you. He was sure you hadn’t looked away from him either. “I could read it a million times over.”

He smiled again. He wasn’t sure if he was flirting, or if it was obvious that he was trying to. Garcia could have squealed at the pair, and her excited presence could be felt easily- but she knew Spence enough to realise that he was trying. Would the cute comic lady?

“Can you read super quick too?” You directed at his friend, letting your eyes drift over to the colours of her outfit. They were definitely an odd couple, her in comparison to the man wearing more neutral tones. They must’ve been good friends, maybe from childhood, you thought. She looked much older than him, though- co-workers? You always doubted your skills with reading people.

“God, no.” She giggled slightly, and you looked up to the man who furrowed his brows in feigned offence. “I’m a techie, he’s kind of an everything-else nerd.”

“Hm.” You nodded your head at the pair, still smiling happily at the conversation. For a moment you let your mind drift, the woman reminded you a little bit of your childhood best friend- comforting.

“So what’s an ‘everything-else’ nerd, then? We talking medieval literature or aerospace engineering?” You glanced up to the taller man with your question, cocking your head to the side slightly. He kept an innocent smirk on his face, looking up to the artwork behind you when the eye contact became too much. Oh he could definitely feel Garcia’s eyes on him too.

“Either.” He shrugged, like it was the easiest answer in the world. His nonchalance was incredibly attractive, the thought clouded your mind. Who was this perfect stranger? Was he a creep or was he the kind of prince you read in your stories?

“Well that’s something I’d like to see.” You challenged, giving him another flirtatious look. Before he could reply you span around, reaching across your table for something in particular. It took everything in him not to glance down at your rear when you reached over.

“Why don’t you email me?” You spoke in a wavering tone, compared to the ease and confidence you seemed to have. “It’s my business email but you don’t have to use it for that.”

You held out a small business card to him, giving him a small smile as best as you could. You could feel his friend smirking, and you wondered if you were wrong to offer yourself up like that to a stranger at a convention.

“Y-yeah, I will.” He smiled back, taking the card from you lightly before holding it in his hand for a moment. You settled back on the table you had been leaning on, not without brushing your hair behind your ear first.

The conversation ended quickly and you wished the pair well as they walked away, letting your vision linger on them just for a minute. You watched the back of the man for as long as he could before he disappeared into the mess of the hallway, biting down on your lip before you even realised.

“Well?” Garcia teased as soon as they’d made enough distance from the table. She turned to her younger friend giddily.

“Shut up.” He retorted quickly, hiding a smile from her. Without thinking she held up her hand to him and he passed her the small card, then shoved his hand back into his pockets. “J-“

“I know, technophobe.” She shook her head, eyeing the little card as they kept walking. “Can’t believe you don’t have an email account.”

“You’re gonna make me one.” He corrected, walking in the direction to purchase your latest book.