Bobby's Problem

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Courage Flavored, Feb 17, 2016.

  1. Bobby's Problem
    by Courage Flavored


    (A/N): No flames; only meaningful critiques. Enjoy!

    (Disclaimer: I don't own the "Pendragon" series by D.J MacHale)

    The monotone drone of his teacher's voice drifted to the far opposite side of the classroom, clearing a straightforward target for the tiny paper missile sitting like an innocent miniature golf ball at the far edge of his desk. A growing grin tugged on his cheeks, revealing a flash of dazzling pearly whites. Little by little by little, he accumulated just enough tension in his forefinger, forcing his fingernail to bend against the soft pad of his inner thumb...

    The missile created a barely audible "dink!" against the nape of the unarmed girl's neck. She gasped and snatched it in surprise. The boy's laughter exploded from his quivering mouth, the sound causing his surrounding classmates to surrender to a instantaneous, resounding snicker. Before the scrawny man at the front of the room could notice, they all silenced it deep in their throats, justifying themselves as innocent. Though, it was excruciatingly hard for the boy's surrounding jokermen to keep from shaking at the way the boy incessantly insisted to the glaring girl that it wasn't him, it wasn't him! Although the boy tried his best to resurrect an honest look, his russet eyes began to twinkle admittedly and he threw his head back, allowing a laugh to spring deep from his belly. Her features grudgingly melted into an smirk and then she couldn't help joining into his contagious chortle, causing the tinge of her cheeks to match the polish of her fingernails. The robotic drone from somewhere across the room was now drowned out by the bell-like laughter from the entire class. Yet, the most obtrusive sound vibrated like a melody from Bobby Pendragon, who had a freshness about his laughter that just seemed to ring with such unparalleled energy, dancing even in the ears of one far-seated student who tried his best to mask a warm smile on his cold, academic expression: Mark Dimond.

    A sharp, resolute "KANG!" of a hard, wooden yardstick against the whiteboard made all the students jolt like a bolt of lightning had ripped through them. Slowly, the student's stunned eyes trailed Mr. Brown's footsteps as he stalked between the third row, eyeing every student, daring them--triple dog daring them--to even blink. Then, they eyed one another when the slow, ominous squeaks of his leather shoes passed the metal legs of the fourth desk. After Bobby let out a soft breath of relief, the girl chided him behind her with a shake of her head, but then she couldn't help giggling coyly at his wink before she swiveled back around.

    "Mr. Pendragon."

    Bobby visibly stiffened as the squeak, squeak, squeeeaak of Mr. Brown's shoes reproached his desk and planted behind him. A sharp scent of Old Spice steadily filled his nose as Mr. Browns chin slowly neared Bobby, who was casually counting the perforations of the ceiling tiles.

    "Two o'clock." He said simply, a weary, yet finite, assured vengeance slithering into his words that caused Bobby to uneasily clench his jaw.

    In the shadows of the last row, Mark rolled his eyes.


    3:17 PM

    One glance at Bobby's wilted, defeated posture emerging quietly from room E128 said all Mark needed to know.

    "Bravo, Bobby, bravo. I'll have to deduct some extra points for the aim, but I'll be generous this time around." Mark snatched his black backpack along the door and proceeded down the hallway, his car keys busily dangling from his back pocket. "I missed Science Club, and now Mom's going to be wondering where the heck I am because of you. Thanks."

    "Well, nobody said ya hav'ta wait for me, you know!" Bobby hollered from afar. "I'm a big boy now, remember?!"

    "I don't wait for you all the time because I have to--" Mark cursed at the drop of his keys, which he knew would give Bobby time to catch up to him.

    Mark huffed loudly, ran his fingers through his dark hair and let his hands plant on his hips. "I just do it because that's what friends do, Bobby. Even if it becomes a pain in the--" He paused to glance over his best friend's exhausted yet irresolute expression that was patiently waiting for the next blow to his already bruised morale. Mark felt a little hesitant to let go of his last morsel of patience for him, but he threw caution to the wind anyway.

    "When are you ever going to do the same for me, huh, Bobby?" Mark blurted vacantly. "When?"

    A look of pure disbelief flashed in Bobby's eyes, and he rose from his knees. "That's not...!" Unbelievably, Bobby couldn't defend himself just then, and it almost horrified him. "That's...that's so full of it, Mark! I can't believe you would--"

    "Save it for the ride home." Mark cut in with an unfeeling glare, continuing his brisk pace to the parking lot. After a tense, burning silence, Bobby interjected.

    "Wait, Mark."

    Mark continued for a few steps, but then he hesitated to an impatient stop.

    "What is it this time?"

    "He...he said.." Bobby took a steadying breath, slowing his heartbeat. "...I might be expelled this time."

    Mark Dimond quickly turned around for an unblinking second, and then he jogged back to Bobby's squirming figure, taking his shoulders firmly in his hands. "C-come again?"

    Bobby gave Mark an understanding smirk. "It's not just about seventh period, alright? Its...well...there's something else I wanted to tell you." He furtively glanced behind his shoulder, bringing his voice down a degree lower. "But... in the car."
    The eerie, unspoken urgency in Bobby's fiery brown eyes was chilling Mark to the absolute core at that moment. Whatever it was, it was more than his everyday class clown antics.
    "Okay," Mark swallowed hastily, slowly nodding with confidence. "Okay."


    .............................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Mark's keys swayed like a ticking pendulum from the ignition as the two boys perched silently in the comfortable cushioned seats of Mark's Impala. It was always a place that, besides their homes, they could converge in spirit as inseperable friends--brothers, really. Yet, today, there was no mashing the gas to Garden Poultry, no jarring harmonies of staggered, snickering rap verses sang from their throats, no relaxing zephyrs sailed between the limp locks of their hair. There was only Bobby's heart waiting to be opened up like a can of sardines.
    Bobby wet his dry lips nebulously, reclining his seat to an obtuse angle, as if he were about to get his wisdom teeth pulled again. Mark's lip twitched into a momentous smile at the random memory of his friend loopy on laughing gas, but the memory deflated with Bobby's long exhale.


    "Well, it's like this," Bobby finally began, his brunette eyelashes meeting. "I haven't told Mom, and I haven't told Shannon. I haven't even told Marley about this. So, that makes you the first person."

    "...Alright."

    "The first person. So don't go, you know, blabbing about this to everybody, okay? Especially Courtney. She is the, like, queen of gossip. Just, keep it between us."

    "...Okay."

    "Okay?!"

    "Okay!"

    "You gotta promise!"

    Mark's dark eyes quivered with a solemn severity. "I swear."

    Bobby didn't need to return his glance to know Mark was dead serious. As always, he might add.
    Bobby's blood began to pound like a hammer in his ears at what words his lips were going to form, but his mind was clear now, and set. Ready. He steadily opened his eyes.


    1...2...
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2016
  2. The Following Day, at Lunch...

    "No...freaking...way," Courtney Chetwynde mouthed numbly, washing down the lump in her throat with a quick swig of orange Gatorade.

    "You better believe it. He was really serious about it yesterday...it wasn't like him." Mark whispered back. His ebony eyebrows furrowed quizzically as he returned her bewildered gaze.

    "He could get expelled for that!!" Courtney sputtered, leaning in closer.

    "It's kind of in the process already."

    Courtney took another hurried sip of her Gatorade, not really forming words under the current of her thoughts. "Maybe we should talk to someone."

    "We can't! Don't you see that Courtney?" Mark whispered heatedly. "It's way too--"

    "Whassup, guys?" An approaching voice chirped. Mark and Courtney exchanged short glances before nodding to the nearing figure.

    "Don't say anything. He told me not to even tell you."

    Courtney only had time to nod before Bobby floated into the seat beside her. "Are you gonna eat your--"
    The lid to her chocolate pudding was already peeled open before Bobby could finish his sentence.

    "Aww, CCeeee..." Bobby groaned, reaching for her orange Gatorade instead and allowing himself a drink.
    A long drink.
    "Get your own bottle," Courtney remarked, frowning at the mere puddle left behind when he returned it to her. She finished the last of it anyway.

    "I'll buy you another one after lunch." Bobby replied sincerely. "We had to run a mile last period."

    "You got a good time?" Mark chimed in, eyeing Courtney once more before taking a large bite of his apple.

    "5:59. Broke my own record." He allowed himself a smirk before adding, "Uh-gayun. Boo-yah!"

    Mark and Courtney gave him a supportive, small smile, but continued to absently nibble on their food. Bobby cleared his throat uneasily, missing the chorus of high-fives that usually cued after a "Boo-yah". He let his attention wander to their faces: Mark's unusual nebulous expression underneath the deep shadow from his hair cast onto his forehead, Courtney's unfocused gaze, looking anywhere but into his eyes; her soft, yet stately, confident chin...

    Bobby tucked a loose rope of sandy hair behind her concealed ear, causing Courtney to suddenly meet his eyes. With every infinitesimal brush of his fingertips against her conch down to her pearl-ringed earlobe, the butterflies in her stomach blossomed into birds. Courtney had the grace--and the overwhelming impulse--to grin. It was a small, quiet success for Bobby, who tilted his head slightly to take in her radiance at a better angle.

    "Get a room." Mark muttered a little too loudly, severing the glue between their deep gazes.
    Between the boys, Mark's words left a tiny sting--a pinprick, but still a tangible uneasiness, which was evidence enough for Courtney to shrink away from Bobby's warm palm before she endured another innocent drawback. They always warranted her, and everyone in witness, that the sparks that ignited between them moments before never existed.
    Even so, it would have been such a normal thing for the both of them to throw in jests at their Dark Cupid, but nothing felt right to anyone--Courtney significantly--upon knowing the situation Bobby put himself in.
     
  3. Courtney fished out a pink leather wallet. "Anyone else want a Gatorade?" She announced, adding a colorful voice to the unspoken tension swirling overhead. Bobby asked for two, but Mark responded with a disgusted grimace.
    Waiting until she was out of earshot, Bobby turned to Mark quizzically.
    "Something's up with CC."


    Mark swallowed. "Uh, yeah--I'd say say so."
    "Since when does she not slug me for chugging her favorite drink? She practically gave it to me. Plus, lookater," Bobby paused to glance at Courtney punching on the keypad of a whirring vending machine. "She's actually spending money on me." He whispered to Mark in disbelief, not able to tear his eyes away from the sight. Mark silence didn't perturb him; it only solidified an inevitable theory.

    "Mark..."

    His friend's heartbeat raced as he desperately ravaged his mind for an excuse.

    "Does she like me?"

    Mark blinked blankly at the most incredulous statement that could only come from Bobby Pendragon's mouth. "Huh?"
    "Well she did kiss me before my game once. That's gotta be the reason why."
    Mark's feelings of relief finally arose and he took a moment to appreciate where the conversation was actually going. He doesn't know, he thought assuredly, allowing himself to smirk.

    "No--really, man, she did!" Bobby defended. "I thought it was just a one-time, good-luck charm kinda thing, but..." The tips of his ears reddened in a reminiscence of the memory. "Maybe she enjoyed it just as much as I did."

    Mark reeled. "H-hold on. Did you just say Courtney kissed you??!!"

    Bobby frowned. "Weren't you listening?"

    "Anybody home?" A chirpy voice suddenly sang above the boys' heads. Courtney shook the bottles in her opposite hands like dog treats.
    Mark shook his head at his friend, who returned the gesture with a nervous chuckle of relief knowing that she hadn't overheard.

    "Thanks." Bobby accepted the sweating Gatorades and began to twist one of the caps.
    Suddenly, his eyes burned with cold recognition at someone or something in the distance. Instinctively, Courtney and Mark glanced behind them, but all that met their vision were students stuffing their faces before the bell rang.

    "...BP?" Courtney quietly pressed after a still moment.

    Bobby didn't answer for a stunned second, but then he glanced at her worried face. "I uh...I gotta go," he stammered as he stuffed the bottles in his drawstring bag and threw one of the braided straps over his shoulder. "See you guys later, OK?"
    Mark flashed his eyebrows good-naturedly.

    "Bye," Courtney managed before he was out of sight with a flash of sunlight through the cafeteria double doors. However, Mark and Courtney's curiosity spiked when they saw Bobby beeline through the hallways.

    Courtney stared pensively at the windows for an immobile moment, absently wringing her hands.
    Mark scoffed and turned back to the food still on his tray. "I know you care about him, but just leave it, Courtney. He can handle himself. We might get in trouble too. Let's just...let sleeping dogs lie." He interjected his ultimatum with a forkful of cold macaroni and cheese. "Sound asleep."

    Glancing at his dismissive expression and back at the window, Courtney Chetwynde took a deep, decisive breath before bolting from the table.
    Mark tossed his silverware aside in annoyance, but he didn't have time to reconsider.
    He was right behind her as she exploded through the cafeteria doors into the glaring sunlight.
     
    djmachale likes this.
  4. Courtney's neon running sneakers shrieked to a halt in the middle of the school gym. The bright fluorescent lights continued to hum innocently from above. The only figure in sight was her reflection in the hardwood floor.

    The silence was again broken with a rusty creak of the gym double doors. Mark's reddened face appeared soon afterward, and he quickly scanned the abandoned gym. "Well," Mark began unsurely. "Where is he?"
    Courtney rested her hands on her knees, allowing herself a moment to breathe.


    ................................................................................................................................

    Bobby pressed himself as flat as a pancake onto a warm brick wall that almost soared past his vision. He realized he had been holding his breath, so he let it burst from his mouth in ragged, desperate gasps.
    At any moment, they would be coming for him. Hopefully they ran past him. Hopefully they didn't catch him practically skidding into the hidden alley.


    "This way, Lieutenant!"

    "He couldn't have gone far--I just saw him run in this direction!"

    "Move! Move! Move!!"


    Like a couple of lost rabbits, Mark and Courtney came bouncing around the corner of the brick wall of the outside lunch courtyard. After a few futile scans of the car-studded parking lot, they both sighed in frustration.

    "Maybe we should turn around." Mark offered diplomatically, trying to not let the exhaustion seep into his voice.
    "No." Courtney said firmly, taking defiant strides along the sidewalk. "He ran this way--we both saw him."
    "...Right." Mark halfheartedly agreed, letting Courtney take the lead for a while as he sauntered to a shady spot on the wall. He would catch up eventually. Mark wondered why in the world he was best friends with two MVP jocks--especially at a time like this.
    As he watched her determined, chiseled calves strut down the concrete with out him, Mark could see why Bobby had come to fall for her. It wasn't only because of her obvious outer beauty, but her inner beauty even more so.


    Mark's silent vigil of Courtney Chetwynde came to an abrupt halt when a shrill scream of horror pierced through the air. Someone had grabbed Courtney around the waist and hoisted her flailing, squirming body onto a pair of squarely set shoulders.
    Immediately, Mark sprinted towards the tall figure like a football lineman, prepared to tackle him--or her--to the ground. To his utter surprise, a very strong, forceful pair of arms snatched him around the waist as well, forcing all of the air out of his lungs like a punch to the gut. From a quick glance, he identified his assailant as a dark eyed, stone-faced man in an unusual mercury jumpsuit. His confusion at the bizarre clothing was only brief; Mark instantly started to kick at the pair of arms hoisting him effortlessly up in the air, pounding, slapping, and scratching at any flesh that wasn't his. Courtney screams became muffled, like a hand had been placed over her mouth in annoyance.
    To Mark's horror, Courtney's voice faded and her body became suddenly limp. She was sedated. He let out an angry shout, feeling completely helpless to do anything about it. The man's arms were like iron chains! From the distance between them--wherever the alien-like pair was leading them from the school--Mark saw that the uniforms were identical, even their attackers' expressionless visages were equally matched with a look of silent, dutiful triumph.


    Where ever they were going, all they could do was watch.

    ...........................................................................
    Endless walking. Nudging. A blood-pounding tightness at the wrists. More nudging. More sharp, biting commands. Shoving. Sitting. A thick door closing shut with an intimidating "BOOM."


    Silence. Racing heartbeats. Subsiding adrenaline. PAIN.

    "...Mark?" Courtney weakly attempted with dimmed, unfocused grey eyes. There was no reply. She could barely focus a few inches in front of her. Everything was a blur of soft blue lights and a constant, farway hum of machinery. Her vision was like a nightmarish painting.

    "...Mark?"

    "SILENCE."

    Gingerly, a bony hand squeezed Courtney's reassuringly. She smiled, feeling somewhat safe to allow her chin to lower again into a delirious doze.
    "You will be held for a few questions and then released very quickly, we assure you. Just please remain silent until all suspects are here."
    "Will you at least tell us where we are?" Dimond asked anyway.
    There was a firm pause and some typing onto a keypad. Mark, after a long moment, predicted his question was going to be left unanswered by the mercury-jumpsuit man at the white crescent shaped desk. Astonishingly, the man's beady eyes met Mark's. Mark shrank away from his gaze; looking directly into the man's eyes was like staring into the orbs of a dead fish.


    "Veelox."

    Mark eyes ascended blankly. "Where?"

    "Outside of your territory."

    "My...territory?"

    The man let out a pained sigh. "Outside of Second Earth. Please, no more questions."

    Mark swallowed hard. Outside of Earth? Then...how did they get here?

    The man seemed to sense Mark's apprehension, so he added: "This is LifeLight on the territory of Veelox. Here will be your location for the following hours, or for the remainder of your life. So, I highly recommend that you become acquainted with the facility. No more questions can be answered at this time, Mr. Dimond." Without looking directly at him, the man continued subtly. "Again, I assure you that you are only here for questioning by our Commander."

    The answer almost satisfied the dark haired teenager, but one thing nagged at him. "Um, sir, h-how do you know my name?"

    Typing continued to echo off the walls in the dimly lit little room, undisturbed.

    Typing. Breathing. Courtney's incoherent mumbling. Typing.
    Repeat.
    For the following eon, this was reality. This was consciousness.


    The sound of the door sliding open woke Mark up with a start. Right away, the man at the desk halted his typing and stood at attention. Mark swiveled around--enough not to disturb Courtney--to see who was important enough to bring that much sign of life into the man's eyes.

    "B...B...Bobby!" Mark sputtered. He couldn't fight a huge smile of relief as he ran towards him, prepared to rush him with a bear hug that would crush his ribs. Yet, as soon as he got within five feet of him, a petite, blonde girl with wiry glasses held up an barricading hand that dared him to approach any further. A tall woman in the same mercury jumpsuit as Mark's perpetrator stood behind Bobby and the small girl with a threatening look on her face. She seemed to be on edge, prepared to protect Bobby or the blonde girl at any cost, no matter how innocent Mark seemed to appear.

    Mark's grin faded hesitantly when he realized that something was very peculiar about his friend: he looked mature, respected...legendary, even.

    Bobby, sporting a navy blue jumpsuit like the blonde girl beside him, was elegantly decorated with several neon gold bands on his bicep. An aged, twinkling silver ring encircled his finger on his right hand that rested placidly on his lower back. His chestnut locks were trimmed to a becoming crew-cut. He gave Mark a look in his senescent brown eyes that seemed to glow with nostalgia, regret, understanding, and reluctant indifference all at once. Leaning down to the blonde girl, he chuckled solemnly.
    "Relax, Aja. There's no way Dane was reincarnated." He whispered.
    She shot him an annoyed look, but seemed eased by his soft, teasing expression. She nodded, concurring.


    "Look," Aja interjected long-windily. "Why don't we all take a seat?"
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2016
  5. Mark and Courtney were again led out into a separate room in to the hallway, away from where they had waited for--what seemed like--forever. Although it was minimally refreshing to move around again, Mark still felt very unsettled with the shift in situation. His head was spinning as he observed his weird surroundings: endless stairs--up and down--bustling with people in the same jumpsuit uniforms; computer interfaces gathered miles below him like a frenzied montage of television screens; slow-walking people with electrostatic handheld boards, calmly tapping on an invisible screen; gatherings of chuckling passerbys pushing--what appeared to be--plastic, white caskets.
    It all seemed like a regular school day, until Bobby had told him what he had done. Yet, how did that revelation lead to...this? It's not like he interrupted a cosmic force that could've transported them to another dimension.

    Could he?

    "...Ow!"
    Bobby, Aja and the Courtney-carrying clerkman from the other room abruptly stopped to turn to Mark.
    "Sorry--it's nothing." Mark told them sheepishly, confirming in his head that this was absolutely not a dream. Courtney, however, still had the advantage of believing it was so.
    'We're have arrived, Commander," the clerkman stated, gesturing welcomingly with his unoccupied arm. At their left, a metallic door opened with a smooth, rapid glide in both directions.
    "...Well, ladies first, right?" Bobby replied.
    Aja rolled her eyes and then ushered in the clerkman carrying the snoring blonde athlete over his shoulders. She was followed by Mark and then by the commander before the doors snapped to a gentle close. A circle of floating, ellipisical stools hovered patiently while everyone took a seat.

    "Ugh--let me go!" A distant, boyish voice suddenly snapped, breaking the tense silence. "Let me go!!"

    As if on cue to their suspicions, the doors opened again to reveal two struggling jumpsuits and a defiant teenage boy determined to wrestle away the invisble, neodymium-magnetic force clasping his wrists behind his back. He became suddenly silent when he was gruffly released by the personnel and shoved inside with the others. Dutifully, the doors zipped to a close once more.

    "Bobby...?" Mark observed absently, stealing glances at the commander and the immensley relieved boy in front of him

    "Mark...Courtney!" The boy recalled joyfully, breaking into a smile. He looked terrible, with red eyes and stringy, disheveled hair, but his appearance seemed to be the last thing on his mind when Mark shot up to tightly embrace him. The boy even laughed--as heartily as ever.

    "What happened?" Mark asked, pulling away graciously.

    Bobby looked down at his clothes, and knitted his eyebrows. His P.E uniform was gone, replaced by a plain, white ankle-length tunic; it appeared to be regulatory clothing for a prisoner. Although it made sense, Mark chortled uneasily. Bobby--Bobby Pendragon--agreeing to wear a dress? No way. He either had to dead or unconscious for that to happen.

    Bobby looked up at him with wavering, slightly embarrased eyes. "Mark, I don't know what happened. Once they caught me, I was out like a light. I woke up a few hours ago, wearing this get- up."

    Presently, Mark could feel the steely eyes of the officers sitting before them both, observing their reunion patiently, like they expected it. Like they wanted it to happen. Like they were allowing them a moment of farewell. It was not a good feeling.

    "Bobby," Mark said in a calming, brotherly tone. "What is going on here?"

    Bobby averted his eyes to his feet.

    "You said you stole someone's identity, right? Then, how did it lead to all of this? This...place? LifeLight? I don't even know if we're still on Earth. You, running around everywhere, nervous? Courtney and I being kidnapped?"

    Bobby started with an epiphany, and glanced protectively at Courtney's delirious form. "Please tell me she's alright."

    "She's fine." Mark gently chided. "But you're going to answer me, right now: What is going on?"

    "He stole his own identity." The Commander sordidly interjected.
     
  6. "You..." The boy's reddened, furious features became suddenly alien at the Commander's apathetic stare. The Commander, expecting the reaction, simply smirked. “Thought you could try to see into the future, huh? Well, here it is. To take you back to where you belong.”

    Bobby approached the Commander slowly, in a transfixed regard, unable to speak, unable to breathe, unable to think at the sight of his own self. No one stopped him from approaching; not even Aja, to Mark’s astonishment.

    “Before I, and my lovely co-captain, Aja Killian, decide what our LifeLight personnel might do with you, lemme explain the difference between you and me.” the Commander continued. “I’m not afraid anymore. Of anything. I’m not afraid to let my guard down in front of people I trust. I’ve learned that life isn’t always going to be a basketball game, where I’m the star player; there is going to be somethings that I can’t maneuver around to win. I’ve learned to lose with a smile on my face. I’ve learned respect. Clearly, you don’t have that yet. For your friends, for yourself,”

    Bobby’s eyes became glassy, and he pursed his lips.

    “Or for the balance of Halla.” The Commander stared reproachfully at Bobby for a few more seconds, considering something. As if interrupting his thoughts for a brief, necessary moment, he spoke again in a firm, authoritative voice: “Standby.”

    “Received.” The clerkman from the other room shot back, standing.

    “The offense?”

    The clerkman tapped a sensory area on his mercury jumpsuit, just below the clavicle. A glowing, red projection dissolved to life in front of his eyes. He scrolled through quickly with his finger and slowed until he recognized his own text. “Theft of Traveler ring from Elder Press; Second Earth Flume 1, Stony Brook, Connecticut. Forced entry into LifeLight. Management of unauthorized jump for more than 16 years.”

    “But--I was only in there for a few minutes!!” Bobby protested truthfully. The Commander gave him a silencing eye, and then motioned for the clerkman to continue.

    “Yes, sir.” The clerkman nodded. “…Refusal to obey the commands of LifeLight officers. Assault of a LifeLight personnel.”

    Mark’s jaw was almost to the marble polished floor with every offense that had been read. Bobby sheepishly squirmed under his best friend’s betrayed look. Although Mark didn’t understand everything he was accused for, it didn’t diminish the shock of hearing words like “theft”, “forced entry” or “assault”.

    Feeling the need to explain further for Mark’s sake, Aja adjusted her glasses and began, “It appears we weren’t successful in erasing the memory completely in all of the Travelers. Our offender, here, is called a glitch. He is not Bobby Pendragon, as you know him, but an active memory of Bobby Pendragon who attempted to have an active part in the fate of his future. Presumably, to experience being a Traveler—er, a time-traveler--in a second life. He is a sort of…offline entity that hasn’t been fully…deactivated yet.” She gave the Commander a helpless shrug of her shoulders, feeling unable to explain the entirety of the situation.
    “Do you understand, Mr. Dimond?” the Commander asked, unable to elaborate to gain any of Mark’s comprehension.

    Mark shook his head, taking a trembling step backward from everything that was thrown at him at once.

    Aja sighed compassionately. “Don’t worry. This glitch isn’t as serious as certain “bugs” our team had to face in earlier years.” She smiled at the Commander’s reminiscent grin. “Bobby can be…er…fixed… rather simply. With a full deprogramming of his memory and entry back into present reality. Believe me, Mr. Dimond—believe me--this is a very feasible process requiring only an hour or two.”
     
  7. “Is it gonna hurt?” Bobby questioned spontaneously.

    “You 'll have a slight feeling of depersonalization, maybe temporary discomfort, but nothing permanent.” Aja countered.

    “What about Courtney?” Bobby added.

    “The officers only sedated her with Sweet-Dream InducAid, a gentle formula. She should awake very soon. But, I’m not sure she’d want to.”

    “Then why kidnap us?” Mark asked abstractedly. “Why make us worried sick about him? Why make our parents wonder where we are?”

    The clerkman spoke up. “Once the situation was discovered, Mr. Dimond, we had to act quickly before too many other lives were distorted by his actions. Unfortunately, this amounted to a chase due to his unwilling cooperation throughout your school day. On behalf of LifeLight Industries, we apologize for the confusion and psychological trauma this may have caused. On a fortunate note, no time has passed upon our entry upon Second Earth; as we speak, Second Earth is temporarily suspended in the third dimension. Therefore, your parents have nothing to be concerned about. We assure you your journey home will be as safe as possible.”

    Mark gradually sat down in his hovering stool, simply needing to feel his center of gravity again.

    The Commander’s consideration dawned on him once more, and he concluded the impromptu trial by sending out the clerkman, Bobby’s officers and Aja.

    “Are you sure?” Aja tried, standing slowly.

    Bobby winked knowingly. She then exited unquestioningly, patting the clerkman on the back on their way out. Courtney, Mark, the glitch, and the Commander remained motionless after the doors of the quietly humming room snapped closed.

    “I’m only going to ask you this once,” the Commander announced, sparking the sudden attention of the glitch and it’s best friend. “Do you wanna keep your memories of what happened here, or do you want us to extinguish them?”

    “What difference would it make?” Mark laughed ruefully. He darkened again and sighed, lowering his dark bangs over his eyes. “I barely know if you’re real or not.”

    Bobby swallowed painfully, forming his next words more carefully. “You do know me, Mark . C’mon—look at me.” He moved to take a seat in front of him. Mark aversely blinked up at the young man.
    He may look a lot like me—well, he basically was me—but only you know who I really am. Who we really are.”
    Mark softened, only slightly, but recognizably.


    “Um, Mark,” the glitch started regretfully. “I’m sorry. For being selfish. I just didn’t want all that to happen to you and Courtney again. I…I didn’t know what else to do.”

    Mark sighed very heavily; then, it was clearly from pure exhaustion. “Obviously.” He grinned. The air seemed to lighten. “What did you think was going to happen to us? We were perfectly fine.”

    The glitch opened his mouth abjectly, closed it, and then smiled conservatively. The Commander, sensing there was at least some resolve, stood and grasped the glitch’s bonded wrists behind his back. “It’s time. Have you made up your mind now, Mark?”

    The glitch looked to the floor again, not wanting to see his best friends lips form the words he didn’t want to hear. After a tense moment, the glitch felt a warm pair of arms hug him tightly.

    “I want to remember, Bobby.”

    Mark felt something wet dribble onto his arm as the silence resounded in the room like a clearing storm. The Commander, feeling gracious, used his master neurotransmitter remote to unlock the glitch’s hands. Immediately, the glitch’s arms took hold of Mark’s shirt for a stronghold to contain it’s grateful sobs. It could face death at peace.

    ……………………………………………………………………………

    “Consensus?” Aja smirked shrewdly when Bobby quietly emerged from the room.

    “I’d give them a few minutes. Ms.Chetwynde is finally waking up, so I recommend start the memory-erasing process on the non-suspects first before continuing with the deprogramming on Mr. Pendragon.” He nodded resolutely and authoratively, but his brown eyes were brimming with overwhelmed tears.

    Aja gently turned Bobby away from the façade of the door so his face was discreet to her sympathetic profile. “It’s for the good of Second Earth.” She whispered. “In a way, Mark’s wishes will still be respected.”

    Bobby inhaled deeply and raggedly. “No more, Aja. We have to make sure things like this don’t happen again. It’s too much to take care of. It’s too much to remember…” Bobby’s voice wavered, and he cleared his throat weakly.

    Aja pursed her lips remorsefully.
    “…It
    cannot happen again.” Bobby stated finally, his glassy eyes narrowing.
    “Yes, sir.”
    He gently pushed past her and continued down the hall, the neon bands on his bicep glowing long after his figure became undistinguishable.


    Aja took a deep breath, her heartbeat still heavy from the subtle scolding. All that was left to do now was to follow orders.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2016
  8. Epilouge:

    "Hey, Marley," Mark greeted to a panting golden retriever circling around his feet like a magnet. "Who's a good girl?" He sat down on Bobby's doorstep to smooth her glistening coat of fur. When a squirrel scampered across the lawn, Marely let out a triumphant bark and immediately charged toward it. Mark shuffled to stand when he heard approaching footsteps at the door. The squirrel sprinted to safety into the maze of spanish moss hanging like tinsel on the lawn's old oak tree.

    "It's Mark," Mark proclaimed at a hesitant silence.

    The chestnut door whined ajar to reveal a tiny brunette girl. "Go away!" She shouted, pointing a finger at him.

    Mark scoffed and adjusted his falling glass frames back atop the bridge of his nose. "Says who?" He let himself in and hoisted Bobby's giggling little sister, Shannon, up into his arms. Then, he closed the door behind him and slid off his polished penny loafers near the parlor.

    "Oh, Mark." Mr. Pendragon acknowledged in the kitchen. He sipped on a steaming mug of coffee. "Do you want something? We've got leftovers."

    Mark's usual immediate answer was reconsidered when he spotted a tray of fluffy cinnamon rolls on the marble counterbar. "If you don't mind." He set Shannon on the counter and pulled a roll from the tray. The decadent icing stretched from the tin like spider silk. "They look really good. Who made 'em?"

    "Me." Mr. Pendragon smirked at Mark's incredulous expression. "Shannon helped." Mr. Pendragon added. His daughter ignored the floury, eggy disaster on the counter and plowed her finger around the tray of the rolls until she collected all the frosting she could muster. "A little." Mr. Pendragon glanced dismissively at the frosting snowman she was constructing.

    "Is Bobby doing better?" Mark asked between chews. "He called me, but then he hang up."

    Mr. Pendragon raised an eyebrow. "He did what?"

    "Th-that just means he wants to talk in person. He's not being mean. I do the same thing. Honest."

    Mr. Pendragon took a melancholy sip of his coffee and crossed his arms pensively. "Well, the champ is still...under the weather today. Won't eat a thing."

    "Really?" Mark swallowed.

    "Mr. Brown gave me a call last afternoon, and he told me about seventh period. Bobby was laughing, clowning around like usual, he claims." Mr. Pendragon sighed. "The next thing Mr. Brown tells me is that Bobby...suddenly didn't look too good."

    ........................................................................................................................................................


    Bobby squeezed the cotton pillow around his ears tighter and tighter with every knock on his bedroom door. "Go away." He muttered helplessly underneath the messy dunes of his covers. With every blink, it felt like a knife twisted further into his skull.
    Mark stared from the doorway at the heap of crumpled blue sheets concealing Bobby's form like a shell on a hermit crab. There was a bearable silence, and Bobby shut his eyes to absorb himself in it. Maybe he would get lost in the sensation of no sound, and the slurry of blood would stop rushing in his ears like a washer machine. Then, there was a sinking pressure on the side of his mattress. Someone was there.


    "Leave me alone, Dad." A raspy, slurred voice nearly wept.

    "It's me. How are you feeling?" Mark greeted very quietly.

    Bobby shifted. It sounded like a recognition of Mark's presence or Bobby bracing another excruciatingly unbearable migraine. When Bobby huddled into the corner of the wall and shouted into his blankets, Mark knew it had to be the latter.
    When the room was silent again, Mark pried the damp pillow from Bobby's fingers. Bobby's red eyes were barely open, blinking absently into his sheets.


    Bobby's glanced longingly at the pillow underneath Mark's arm, and then looked up expectantly into Mark's dark eyes. Mark responded with a playful look that, to anyone else, would seem like a glare of death. "You're not getting it back until you cheer up."
    Bobby could see the imperceptible glint in Mark's dark orbs. It was a glint so faint and so familiar that it could only be seen after ten years of friendship. Feeling generous, Bobby flashed Mark a warm smile and sat up. For a moment, his dark haired friend seemed triumphant. Then, Bobby's content visage was interrupted with a severe tension in his eyebrows as a returning pressure pounded his head like an iron hammer. Mark unquestioningly returned Bobby's pillow as Bobby curled back into his sheets.


    "You should get some more rest," Mark decided somewhat disappointingly, standing up. He stepped over the battleground of crumpled homework and Sports Illustrated magazines on the carpet until he reached the door. "I'll call you later, then."

    "...It feels kind of strange, you know." Bobby hoarsely spoke.

    Mark halted.

    "Everything, right now, is the way it's...you know...meant to be."

    "Well, I guess so." Mark lingered for a moment, and then he pulled the doorknob behind him.

    "Mark?"

    The door hinge creaked.

    "Thank you."

    "...For what?"

    There was an unsure silence.

    "Like I said, you really should get some rest." Mark closed Bobby's door and gingerly stepped into the hallway.

    Underneath his covers, Bobby finally found the words. His lips curled into a peaceful smile. "For everything."
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2016
  9. Thank you for reading (or skimming). Any comments, tips, or suggestions for future stories are welcome below.
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  10. my fanfiction is ar00551, by the way. Check out my Peter Pan fanfic.
     

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