Sixteen years. That's how long it had been since Hekapoo had pulled Marco into her dimension, stolen his borrowed dimensional scissors and challenged him to get them back. Ever since that day, he'd been wandering all over the land, facing countless dangers, defeating hundreds if not thousands of clones. Now at last, after all these years, his journey had finally reached its conclusion, for all of his adventures in this strange and deadly world had molded him into a strong, confident adult man, and he had finally arrived at the lair of the being he had been so determined to find all this time. After defeating the last two of her clones, Marco opened the doors to her home and entered to find her forging a new pair of scissors.

"Finally. It has all lead to this," he began in a deep, masculine tough guy voice. "Sixteen years, a lot of clones, seemed to go by like that." He emphasized the last word with a snap of his fingers. "I finally tracked you down, Hekapoo."

Hekapoo turned to face him with a grin that showed she was impressed without wavering in her cool demeanor. "Yep, it's the real me. No more clones, so…." she said as Marco's dragon-cycle followed him inside.

Marco pulled off his hood to reveal his scarred face. "Who's a little boy now?"

Hekapoo took a moment to admire his finely developed facial features, waiting for him to finally put an end to her little game. "This is the part where you blow out my flame," she said. Though, as he was suddenly in no hurry to get it over with so quickly, Marco seized the opportunity to relish his victory, sitting back on her couch and relaxing for probably the first time in sixteen years.

"Heh. You barely escaped me on the exploding moons of Flendor," he recounted as he began to gloat. "And when I lost your trail in the mists of the Never Zone, I thought I'd never find you. After spending a few years infiltrating a cloister of monks, I acquired some ancient texts, which lead me to dimensional scholars who taught me to translate their language." Hekapoo merely stood silent and listened as he let it all play out. "After that, it was a simple matter of surviving the Afflicted Forest and ending up right at your door."

Finally, he stood up and with one quick breath, extinguished the flame on the magical woman's head. Even so, she still showed no signs of resentment towards the human who had bested her. She was far too impressed to harbor any such feelings. "Not bad for a human," she commended him, levitating the scissors she had just finished forging over to him and letting them come to rest in his hands, his name permanently engraved in the metal. "You truly earned these. I underestimated you."

Staring down at his prize, Marco let all of his feelings wash over him. Yet, now that he had finally reached the end of his sixteen-year goal and earned his own pair of dimensional scissors, where he thought he would feel relief and satisfaction, he instead felt… sadness, disappointment and confusion. As he glanced at his reflection in the scissors, he realized just how much he had changed in the last several years from the scrawny, awkward teenager he was when he had started. The one who everybody had once called 'Safe Kid' was now a fearless, strong, thrill-seeking, adventurous warrior. Then he thought about how much everyone back home must have changed. His parents, his friends, Star.

Star!

He suddenly remembered the whole reason he had accepted Hekapoo's challenge in the first place. It was his fault that he'd lost Star's dimensional scissors and he wanted to get them back so he could return them. But somewhere between chasing Hekapoo down for sixteen years and all the various dangers and adventures he had lived through since then, he had all but forgotten. If she hadn't come to look for him after all these years he'd been gone, did she even want to see him again? Was she that upset with him for losing her scissors? No. She wouldn't end their whole friendship over a pair of scissors, would she? Still, he was so sure that nothing was still the same back on Earth that he wasn't sure he even wanted to leave this dimension anymore.

But perhaps there was another reason he didn't want to leave as well. He started to consider this as he looked back up at the magical woman still standing right in front of him. "Well, what are you waiting for?" she asked in a soft voice. "You got your scissors. You can go home now. Isn't that what you wanted?" As Marco gazed into her beautiful bright yellow and red eyes, he realized just what the main thing was that was holding him back. The real reason he had kept up the chase for so long and why he was so hesitant to leave now. Somewhere along the line, between all the teasing, challenges and near-death experiences, Hekapoo had really gotten under his skin and not just in a bad way. It wasn't just about the scissors anymore. It was about her. She was the one he'd been chasing all this time. And now that he finally had her, he didn't want to let her go.

"You know, this dimension isn't so bad," he said, smiling back at her. "Maybe I'll stick around a little longer, if that's okay with you."

"I was kinda hoping you'd say that."

The two moved in closer, wrapped their arms around each other and locked their lips together in a deep, passionate kiss. It was so warm and steamy, and not just because Hekapoo was a being of fire. As the kiss went on, the two began move their arms around each other's bodies. She rubbed her hands on his strong, firm back and he ran his fingers through her thick, silky, fiery hair. Their racing hearts and big, firm chests pressing together increased each of their already burning desires for the other's affection. So much that Marco grabbed ahold of Hekapoo's thigh, lifted her up off her feet and carried her away into her bedroom so they could take it to the next level.

For two years, Marco and Hekapoo lived together as boyfriend and girlfriend. They went on adventures together, which weren't hard to come by as there was always some monster or mage or band of criminals for them to fight. They made a life together in Hekapoo's home, taking care of each other and their dragon cycles. And aside from the lack of tacos and sugary cereals, it was perfect.

But one night, when the two lovers were snuggling up on the couch together, that's when an unexpected visitor burst in through the door and caught them by surprise.

"Hekapoo! Where's Marco?!" Star demanded, holding her wand up in defense.

"Star!" Marco exclaimed, excited to see his old friend. He quickly got up and rushed over to give her a big hug, which she quickly pulled away from.

"Unhand me… beautiful stranger. How do you know my name?"

"It's me, Marco." He pulled his old red hoodie off of his back and showed it to her to prove that it was really him. "See?"

"Marco?" Now that Star knew for sure that this strange man was in fact her lost friend, she finally allowed herself to admire his hot new adult physique. "Marcooo…." she sighed in awe as her eyes widened with admiration.

"Oh man! We have so much to catch up on!" Marco began excitedly listing off things he had done during his time in the Never Zone dimension, none of which Star heard as she was too busy being blinded by the light of his shimmering abs. "Oh, check it out!" He pulled out his dimensional scissors and showed them to Star. "It took me sixteen years, but I totally earned these scissors."

Hearing that finally snapped the princess out of her trance. "Wait. Sixteen years? You've been gone from Earth for, like, nine minutes."

The warrior stood there in silent disbelief for a second. "Nine minutes?!" he exclaimed in anger before turning back to glare at Hekapoo. She didn't waver, though, and simply looked at him with a sly smirk.

"Yeah, I forgot to tell you that time moves differently in this dimension. Not sorry," she teased, feigning innocence.

"No, no no no. This is good," Star said, trying to cheer him up. "It means you haven't missed anything back on Earth. Come on. Use your new scissors to take us home."

"Yeah, about that." Marco rubbed the back of his head, knowing that Star wasn't going to like what he was about to say. "I don't think I'm coming back. Turns out I really like my new life here. I got my sword and my dragon cycle and my super awesome girlfriend to boot." He gave a smile to Hekapoo, who smiled back at him with a wink.

"Girlfriend?!" Star exclaimed at this startling revelation.

"We can ride around and go on adventures whenever we want. It's the journey, you know?"

"Yeah, that dragon cycle is pretty dope," Star agreed, admiring Marco's fierce-looking steed before coming back to her senses. "No! Marco, what about your parents, or your friends, or… me?"

Marco looked down at his scissors, staring at his reflection in the blade. He had practically lived a whole lifetime in this dimension and grown so much over the years. But now that he knew that he hadn't been gone from Earth nearly as long as he'd thought, he realized that everything back there was probably still exactly the same as it was when he left. Nobody besides Star probably even realized he was gone. Then he opened the scissors and saw Star's sad-looking face in the other blade and he realized that everybody back home probably would miss him if he decided to stay here forever.

Then he looked back at his girlfriend, hoping she could give him an answer. Her face was pretty blank and didn't express much. "You could always just come back and visit anytime you want," she suggested. "I mean, I'm not going anywhere." She acted like it didn't matter to her one way or the other, but he knew her well enough to understand her subtle giveaways. He could tell that she really didn't want him to leave and he really didn't want to leave her alone either. He loved her too much for that. And so, his decision was made.

"I'm sorry, Star. I can't go back to Earth. This is my life now," Marco said firmly.

"What?! But… but Marco…"

"I'm sorry," he repeated. "But hey, feel free to come back and visit anytime you want."

Star had seen a lot of things she'd never expected to find when she went looking for her friend, but this was the most upsetting. She'd come all this way to find him, but she didn't want to force him to come back if he really was happy here. "Is this really what you want?"

"It is. I hope you can understand," Marco replied as Hekapoo came to stand next to him. "Please tell my parents and everyone back on Earth that I love them."

"I will," Star sighed. Marco smiled and opened his arms, inviting the princess in for a hug. An invitation that she readily accepted.

"I am gonna miss you so much," Star said, her eyes flowing with tears.

"I'm gonna miss you, too," said Marco.

Then they released the hug and after bidding one final heartfelt goodbye to each other, Star opened a portal to return to Earth, promising to come back and visit soon. And then she was gone.

As the warrior stood morosely watching the spot where his friend had just been standing, his demon girlfriend placed her hand on his shoulder. "I know that must've been hard for you, but… I'm glad you decided to stay," she said as she reached up pecked him on the cheek. She also added a good fiery slap to the back of his head for good measure, increasing his already prominent bald spot.

"Thanks. Me too," he said as she smiled back at her. "But hey, I'm sure I'll see her again someday."