A/N: This will be the last chapter for this story. I may come back to it, but I think I reached a good stopping point. There are plenty of ideas I wanted to explore for this universe with different characters so expect to see more.
Lisa was completely red in the face when she returned back. Phrynosoma and the kids didn't like it, but she refused to budge on why. All they knew was it had to be Kali's or Shyloh's fault. Maybe both. They should have known better to let her go off with them alone. It was clear to them that it wasn't safe for her to go off on her own. One of them had to be with her at all times.
She could tell they weren't happy, but there was no way she was going to tell them what happened. Honestly, she couldn't believe it either. Who kissed other people's hands these days? Wasn't it a medieval thing? Just thinking about it made her want to scream into her pillow, and she did. Why did things have to be so complicated? Things were simpler when all she had to worry about was getting a job and going to college.
Speaking of which, she hadn't managed to work on either. She was unfortunate enough to recover in time for finals. Everyone made sure to avoid her or at least not provoke her as she crammed as much information as she could into her brain. Between catching up with the work she missed and getting sleep, she was a complete mess. There were several times she cried herself to sleep.
Now she was stuck as a high school graduate with nothing to look forward to after high school. Nancy told her to think of it as the gap year, but Lisa pointed out that she couldn't exactly go anywhere to "learn" since she was the current landlady and no other job to gain experience. That was the whole point of the gap year. Putting down on her application or resume that her only experience she had was being a landlady didn't exactly evoke confidence.
"Why don't you see the positive? Think of all the things you can say on your resume or application. 'Experience with customers' or 'Experience handling with cash' or 'Business experience'."
"Exactly. How will that get me anywhere if those are basically what everyone expects you to be able to do? I would be lucky to get a job at a fast food restaurant."
Unfortunately, that was when Zemud decided to make himself known again. "How the fuck is that a bad thing? It's the perfect job for a piece of shit like you."
It was a good thing Phrynosoma and the kids weren't there. They wouldn't have let him get away with it alive. On the other hand, Nancy was there to see the tears. She made certain he regretted it, and he swore revenge before running away. The sight of him fleeing made the tears stop. Lisa couldn't believe what she saw. Most people didn't dare get in his way, but now it seemed left and right he was chased away. She wasn't sure how to feel about that.
They used to sort of be friends or at least she thought they had been. Her mother and Zemud's mother had said so and she didn't have a reason not to believe them. She honestly couldn't remember a time when Zemud wasn't being nasty to her. Had she done something to make him act that way? If so, it had to have been a long time ago. He could really hold a grudge if that was the case.
"Why do you put up with him? He's obviously no good."
"His parents are friends with my mom."
"Just because they're friends doesn't mean it's okay for him to walk all over you. With an attitude like that, I'll be surprised if he had any friends."
Now that Lisa thought about it, she never saw him hanging out with anyone. Then again she didn't really see him often outside of the apartments. They didn't go to the same school so she'd never had to deal with him there. Maybe he did have friends, but only hanged out with them far from where they lived. It wasn't like they could do anything fun there.
"I don't want to cause trouble between them. Besides, he doesn't hurt me."
"Considering you cried earlier, I doubt believe that."
"I'm just a little stressed out." When she saw the look Nancy was giving her, she felt a little uneasy. "What?"
"Are you sure you don't like him?"
"W-why do you think that?"
"You're taking his side and keep excusing his behavior. What am I supposed to think?"
"I already told you he's basically a family friend. There's nothing going on between us."
She didn't look like she wanted to drop the subject, but said, "Alright then." Then a devious smile split open her face. "You never did answer my question from before. What's your relationship with your tenants?"
Why or why was she asking her such things? She wasn't her mother for goodness' sake. If this is what girlfriends talked about - and Nancy insisted that they were girlfriends - then she really regretted Nancy being her girlfriend. Where were Phrynosoma and the kids when she needed them to provide a decent distraction? This was the perfect moment for them to come in and save her.
As if hearing her thoughts, a warm body crashed into her back and arms wrapped around her neck, choking her. "Mom!"
"Idiot, let go of her. You're choking her."
Amanda released her grip. "Sorry mom."
"Just...don't do that again." She managed between gulps of air.
"It's good to see you kids," said Nancy.
The two of them shared a quick hug. "How have you been?"
"Good. Where's the meanie?"
"You mean my brother? He's busy with police work. I'm surprised he had found time to teach you."
Lisa never thought about that. It was weird that a police detective would offer his time to teach the kids. Even if he did want to keep an eye on them, wouldn't it be a job more suited for someone not a police detective. Not only that, but he had been teaching them around the same time every day. Unless he was on vacation or requested his schedule to be freed up, it was suspicious he could show up almost every day at the same time. She should ask him about it.
Unfortunately, the moment she had allowed herself get distracted, the two had started chatting about her. Instead of saving her from the embarrassing conversation, Amanda was adding more fuel to the fire. They wanted to know if she was interested in anyone. Pain was no help and kept to the sidelines to watch the mess unfold. She was going to take away his dessert later for this.
Why couldn't they accept that she wasn't interested in romance? She had enough on her plate as it was. There were more important things than dating. Dating would just be more trouble than it was worth and it wasn't like there would be people interested in dating her anyway. They would be sufficiently scared off before they could even think about it.
Even though Phrynosoma's situation had been resolved - thanks to Kali, he was allowed to stay on Earth - he wouldn't hesitate to kill someone if he saw them as a threat. She didn't think he would know the difference between dating and a threat considering what Nancy said. When she hadn't been looking, Nancy had interrogated Phrynosoma about his relationship with her.
His answer had been that he was her guard. Upon further questioning, he also said she was the mother of the kids. From just those words alone, she figured anyone would misunderstand and think there was something more going on. That wasn't something she wanted. Nancy had been quick to explain she had noticed interesting about his wording. He hadn't said 'mother of my kids' or 'mother of our kids', but 'mother of the kids'.
Lisa didn't really see a difference. Well, she soon learned that while Phrynosoma acknowledged that he was the "father", it didn't really mean the same thing in his language. There were different meanings to the word of "mother" and "father" in his language. There was "mother" which meant a female parental figure like she expected, but it could also mean the dominant female figure in a child's life.
The explanation was quite confusing to her, but basically even a younger sister could be considered "mother" in his language. Age wasn't really a factor which led to the question of what determined a "child". Apparently, "child" was anyone that was dependent on another for survival even if there was no relation or they were obviously an adult. He considered Lisa a "child". Why he didn't consider himself her "father" was something she didn't want to know.
She was quick to put an end to the language lesson. It wasn't that she didn't appreciate knowing more about his culture, but she wouldn't be able to keep track of all the different meanings. Besides, it wasn't like she was going to need to know his language. For one, she couldn't even speak it. She was satisfied with just knowing that there wasn't going to be anything weird going on between them.
Honestly, she was just relieved that they weren't going to get in trouble for all his previous actions. She didn't know what Kali did, but he somehow managed to keep them from going to jail though she did have to pay a fine again and community service. The amount made her weep tears and Phrynosoma vowed to pay her back for all the trouble he caused her. The fact it was her choice didn't dissuade him and he sought out a job besides guarding her.
All she did was smile and nod. She doubted he could find a job. With the government keeping an eye on him and how everyone was terrified of him, there was no way he was going to find someone willing to hire him. She just resolved herself to having to pay for whatever mess he made and made it clear he couldn't go around killing people. The fact she had to repeatedly tell him this was telling.
"I know you want to make the world safe and better, but killing isn't okay."
"No, you don't. We've talked about this almost every day. You're lucky Kali somehow managed to keep the both of us out of jail. We might not be so lucky next time. What do you think would happen to the kids?"
"They will be fine."
"That's not the point. There are laws that need to be followed. Earth isn't the same from where you came from."
She had to rope Nancy and Mr. Thompson in for help. While her relationship with Mr. Thompson was still strained, he wanted to make sure no more crimes were committed. The following discussion involved a lot of shouting and what sounded like throwing things into the wall - she had been forced to wait outside as they had their talk. At least they managed to somehow get through to him. Well, she hoped they did.
So imagine her surprise when he stated he found a job. After the initial confusion, she had asked who was hiring him. Apparently, Shyloh was still hiring and saw Phrynosoma as a perfect candidate. Not only was someone that Lisa trusted, but he had talents that Shyloh needed. What talents weren't spoken. She was glad he found work. She really did. It was just that she felt something off about the whole thing.
What did Shyloh want to hire him for? She couldn't think of a single thing he would need Phrynosoma for didn't involve violence no offense. Phrynosoma wouldn't say as he stated it was part of his contract. She really didn't like the idea, but she didn't want to take away something that would keep him from going around killing people. He did seem happy with his new job.
Wait. How did he even get the job? When did he fill out an application and go for the interview? Did they just hire him without going through the proper methods?
That thought nearly made her cry tears of blood. Even an illegal alien could get a job before she did. How was that fair? What was she doing wrong? Would it turn out the same for the kids? Would they get a job before she did? Was it her fate to take over her mother's job as landlady? She didn't want to be a landlady for the rest of her life.
Not that there was anything wrong with being a landlady. Her mother was one after all. She just wanted to do, well, something different. At this point, she didn't really care what anymore as long as it wasn't being something like a cashier or sales. No offense to those people, but that wasn't her ideal job. Sure, she was being picky right now, but there was nothing wrong about that was there?
Maybe she should just give up. It might be more painless that way. Or maybe she could see what jobs Shyloh was hiring for. If she was lucky, he might have a job that she could do and would be willing to hire her. She was still not sure what to think of the man, but he couldn't be a bad person after everything. He could get a little personal for her taste. It could just be a quirk of his.
In any case, it couldn't hurt to try? Yes, she was going to talk to him the next chance she got. Hopefully, it wouldn't be too awkward between them. She was still going to be his landlady after all. At least until her mother came back. Speaking of which, she had forgotten to ask her when they would be back. She could call them again. They would probably be more mindful of her calls, but then they would think she actually needed them to come back right away. Considering she had told them not too long ago that she was fine, that wasn't something she wanted.
She sighed. It was strange. Not too long ago, she worried about school and getting job. She still worried about them, but so much had changed. It seemed almost like a dream. If she were to close her eyes and open them right now, would she find that it was? She really hoped not. Everyone was beginning to grow on her especially Phrynosoma and the kids.
While she didn't like the idea of being a mother especially at a young age, she didn't mid mothering them. They were endearing in their own way and if one ignored their violent tendencies, they were good kids. It didn't change the fact she was glad she wasn't taking care of them on their own. Phrynosoma was reliable and it did make her feel better to know someone was watching out for her. She was glad to have met him even if the circumstances were not that great.
There was Kali who she still wasn't sure about. She still hadn't found the time to have decent conversation with him since he found out her age. It bothered her just like her relationship with Mr. Thompson bothered her. He still treated her like a criminal. At least they didn't really see each other, but she really wished they could have a talk and not an interrogation.
Nancy was decent company and tried to help, but she still wasn't close to her or her friends yet. The same could be said of Rebecca and Tylar. Maybe that would change. She would like that a lot.
The sound of crashing and breaking interrupted her thoughts. It was soon followed by cursing. There was no mistaking Pain's voice. She'd better hurry and see what was going on before it got any worse.