Pleased to Make Your Acquaintance.... NOT!

Written by:
Jo


BILL & TED characters are trademarks of Nelson 1991 Inc. The motion picture BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE & © 1989 Nelson Films Inc. All Rights Reserved. The motion picture BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY © 1991 Orion Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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The mall was a sea of legs. From his low vantage point, five year old Bill Preston looked with disdain at the churning crowd of adults and fellow children alike; each attempting to push their way through the dense mass of last minute Christmas shoppers.

Almost dead with boredom, Bill glanced over at his parents, who actually seemed to be getting along for a change. Then, his mother was always in a good mood when it came to shopping. Even now, he noticed from the bench he was sitting on, she was cooing coyly at some dresses through a shop window. Gripping his father tightly by the hand, she called over her shoulder for him to be good and stay put until they were finished before dragging the tired man into the shop.

Great. Bill dangled his legs and looked around at the swirling mass of people. No one noticed him. Feeling cranky and bored, Bill closed his eyes and withdrew into the gloriously private world of his imagination. It was a technique he had already practically perfected, and a perfect way to pass the time. If he concentrated hard enough, Bill knew that soon the annoying noise of the crowd would disappear, and be replaced with.... Hmmm, what should it be this time? A racetrack? A castle with a fierce dragon waiting to be slain? Maybe even his personal favorite: a rock concert! For some reason this was always the hardest one to pull off, requiring supreme concentration. Bill squinted his eyes closed tighter and began to hum quietly to himself in a dull monotone. Soon, the wonderful feeling of being all alone began to converge upon him....

His reverie was broken by a desperate wail nearby. In a flash of anger, Bill looked around to see what had interrupted his tranquility. A boy, probably around his own age or possibly a little younger, was standing in the middle of the walkway directly across from him, looking around frantically. Bill shook his head. He'd never understood why it was such a big deal to other kids to be "lost" from their parents; especially at some place like the mall where the chances of, say, starving to death until they found you were pretty remote at best! Grownups always marveled at Bill's attitude about this. They praised him for being so "grown up". He snorted. Grown up? Did the fact that he didn't care for the company of most grownups he'd ever met make him grown up as well? He sighed. Truth was he didn't much care for the company of other children either. They just weren't usually interested in the kinds of things he was. Still, he really didn't mind all that much. He enjoyed his solitude.

The child started wailing again, even louder than before. Several of the people hurrying by glanced with sympathy at him, murmuring under their breaths that they were sure his parents would find him in a moment before hurrying on their busy ways. Bill considered moving away from the racket himself, then hesitated. The poor kid was screaming like he was being murdered now.

Annoyed by the kid's baby-like behaviour, as well as with his own inability to ignore it any longer, Bill hopped down from his bench and stomped up to the bawling child. He planted his fists on his hips like he'd seen his dad do when he was really mad, and screamed in the kid's face.

"WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?!"

The child stopped in mid-scream and stared wet-eyed at Bill. A single tear rolled down his red face. Bill stared back huffily, waiting for an answer. He suddenly had to push down a surge of feeling that had risen up; pity, or something like that. Now he was really annoyed. He did not like feeling things for people, especially for brats that couldn't even take care of themselves! He crossed his arms and sneered at the child.

"Okay, so what's your problem, huh? You lost or something?"

The boy tried to answer, but his words got caught in a little sob. He put a couple of fingers in his mouth and mutely nodded his head.

The feeling rose up again, stronger than before. Bill suppressed it once more. His next impulse was to run the heck away from this strange kid who was gazing with wonder at him. No, now that he was involved, it wouldn't be right to just go.

"C'mon!" He gripped the boy's wrist, a little harder than he needed to, and pulled him over to a nearby jewelry shop. He waited patiently for the busy clerk to notice them, and asked her to have the boy's parents paged. He harrassed look melted a bit as she bent down over Bill's new companion.

"Well, aren't you cute! What's your name, hon?"

The child pulled back slightly in fear, and gripped Bill's hand. Bill tried to jerk it away, but the boy held on tight.

"What's the matter with you, kid? Tell the lady your name so she can call your parents for you!"

The child stared at him for a long moment as if to make sure it was really all right, then he turned to the lady with a barely audible whisper.

"Ted."

"What's your last name, Ted?"

The boy glanced over at Bill again. Bill gave his arm a jerk.

"Tell the lady your last name! What are you waiting for?"

Reassured, Ted answered the lady in a slightly louder voice.

"Logan."

She smiled warmly at him. "Okay honey, you just wait here and I'll page your parents to come and get you, all right?"

Ted nodded and stuck his hand in his mouth. His other hand continued to grip Bill's like a vise.

"Uh, look Ted. My folks are gonna worry if I'm not where they told me to be. You just wait here for your mom and dad, okay?" Bill attempted to detatch himself once more, and once more, Ted did not want to let go.

"Look, kid, if you don't let my hand go, I'm gonna punch you right in the face.... So let go, NOW!!"

This had the desired effect. Bill turned and hastily made his way out of the store. Just through the doorway, he was stopped cold by the sound of a piteous whimper inside.

"Oh no. No way. Uh-uh."

He spun around. Ted was still standing where Bill had left him, his chest heaving in a way that threatened to erupt into another squall. Bill stomped his foot in frustration.

"Look, your parents will be here any minute! You'll be okay!" He turned away again, and took off running back to the clothing store his parents had gone into. A loud cry exploded from behind him, but he kept running. His parents were just coming back out as he arrived. His mother's good mood had seemingly faded during the short time they were inside. As they were empty handed, Bill ascertained that she had not been able to find what she was looking for. He sighed, knowing that most likely once they got home, she would start one of her sulks; which meant that dad would be cooking dinner, which meant that he'd better start whining to go to McDonald's now if he had any chance of getting a decent meal for the rest of the day!

His father spotted him, and chuckled with forced affection. "Well, here you are, Bill! What kind of trouble have you been getting into while your mom and I were shopping?"

Suddenly, Bill remembered the kid back at the jewelry store, and felt an unexpected stab of.... something.

Seeing the guilty look appear on her son's face, Mrs. Preston forgot her own problems for a moment and bent down to Bill. "Bill? Did you really do something you shouldn't have?"

Bill started to shake his head. "No, Mom, I was just...." He looked back towards the jewelry store. He very much wanted to go home but he suddenly also wanted very much to go back one more time. He didn't understand this compulsion, and his voice was edged with annoyance when he answered his mother.

"There was just this dumb kid who was lost. I left him over there...." Even as he led his parents to the shop, he wondered why on earth he was doing this. "I had his folks paged. Uh, do you mind if I just check to make sure he's okay before we go?"

Mr. Preston beamed with pride. "Of course, Bill!" He murmured to his wife, "He's so responsible for his age, eh?"

She nodded, looking tired. "Hmmm," was all she said.

As Bill stepped into the shop, he immediately spotted Ted, still crying. The clerk was trying to put her arms around him comfortingly, but he kept pushing her away. When he spotted Bill, his cry turned into a squeal of sheer delight.

"You came back! You came back!" To Bill's utter horror, the boy ran up and threw his arms around his neck. "You came back! I knew you'd come back!"

"Get OFF of me!"

Bill's parents came in behind him. His mother smiled a little smile when she saw his predicament. "Oh look, Eugene. Isn't that cute?"

Mortified with embarrassment, Bill firmly placed both hands on Ted's shoulders and pushed him back. He whispered fiercly, "Stop it! You're acting like a baby!"

Ted released him contritely, and started to suck on his fingers.

"And stop that, too. It looks dumb."

Ted obeyed. He stood quietly, gazing at Bill with rapturous admiration. Bill was beginning to feel about as uncomfortable as possible when, suddenly, a balding man followed by a very attractive, dark-haired lady burst into the shop.

"Ted! Where have you been? I told you not to wander off, didn't I?"

Ted looked sadly up at his father and started to put his fingers in his mouth, glanced at Bill, and pulled them back out. "I'm sorry. I got lost."

His mother gathered him up in her arms and kissed him. "Oh, my poor baby! Are you all right? We'll go home, and watch Snoopy, and have some ice cream, all right?"

Ted smiled up at her and snuggled close. "Okay, Mommy."

Bill looked away, embarrassed. His mother never babied him like that.... ever.

Ted's mother released him after another hug and kiss, and the two sets of parents began to chat pleasantly. Bill edged his way to the front of the store to wait. To his unpleasant surprise, Ted followed close behind, a huge grin on his face.

"GO AWAY!!" Bill snarled. Ted acted as if he hadn't heard.

"What do you WANT?"

Ted's grin faded slightly. He glanced down at the floor shyly. "What's you name?"

Bill figured it was time to get rid of this little pest once and for all. He crumpled his face up into his fiercest expression; the one he'd even scared a seven-year-old away with once.

"BILL!!" His voice was pure venom.

Ted's face went completely blank. "Bill.... Bill...." Grinning again, he suddenly grabbed Bill by the arm and dragged him back over to their parents. This kid was stronger than he looked!

"Mommy! Daddy! This is Bill.... he SAVED me!"

"I DID NOT!!"

"Bill, the Logan's have just invited us to dinner...."

"But, Dad...."

"Bill!"

"Oh...." he glanced over at Ted, who was grinning brightly at him, and frowned. "Allllll-RIGHT!"

THE END