Hey, readers! This chapter references the episode 'Rhyme & Reason.'


Well, here I am after a long fanfiction hiatus, writing for WordGirl, of all things. *shrugs* What can I say? I love good children's stories, and while I'm sure not everyone would agree, I think WordGirl counts. Call me crazy, but I see a lot of substantial elements in this seemingly innocuous cartoon that just beg to be fleshed out and explored on a deeper level, and as you will soon learn from reading this fic, my favorite example is Tobey. Most of the WordGirl characters at least charm me, but Tobey is the only one who deeply fascinates me. He's the only one who has so many layers to his personality and motivations that I found it was actually kind of hard for me to get inside his head, and so naturally that meant I had to try. :P I hope the veterans of this fandom will enjoy my contribution. :)

Apprehension [ap-ri-hen-shuh n] – suspicion or fear of future trouble or evil.

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Dr. Two-Brains wouldn't know what hit him. He'd picked the wrong day to try to turn all the fish in the city aquarium into giant Goldfish crackers.

While dozens of screaming visitors poured out of the main entrance, WordGirl zipped into the building, clenching her fists as her frustration boiled over. Captain Huggyface shrieked for her to slow down, his lanky chimp arms wrapped tightly around her neck. He was nearly catapulted off her back when she halted instantly, but WordGirl was too flustered to pay him any mind, and she barely noticed when he jumped from her back onto a pelican statue hanging from the ceiling.

In the center of a huge lobby lined with all manner of tanks, decorations, and habitats, one visitor/animal clearly didn't belong. The mouse-brained mad scientist laughed maniacally at the controls of a machine the same size and shape as a freshly punched hole in the wall. The gizmo resembled a construction crane, except it had five arms that all ended in ray guns firing in every direction, and when the colorful beams of energy hit the tanks the animals inside transformed into oven-baked versions of themselves. The operator didn't seem to care or even notice that they would all be soaked before he had the chance to eat any of them. That was typical.

The villain's pink eyes turned up to look at WordGirl, and he regarded her with his usual challenging smile. "Well, if it isn't WordGirl. Here to see my latest breakthrough? It turns each species into a cracker with a different cheese flavor. I wonder what flavor it would choose for a little alien girl…"

"I'm warning you, Dr. Two-Brains," WordGirl snarled, pointing straight at him with one hand and making a fist with the other, "I am not in the best mood right now."

She charged, but had to dodge a flavor blast that came her way. Zigzagging toward the machine, she managed to get a hold of one of the ray arms and ripped it off with a single hateful pull, using it to bat aside the arm that attacked her from the left.

"Wow, you weren't kidding," Two-Brains observed. "What're you so miffed about?"

"Miffed?" one of the villain's henchmen asked, shrugging beside his boss's contraption.

"Miffed means annoyed or put into an irritable mood because of something frustrating that happened," WordGirl sneered. "And don't even get me started! I've been fighting Tobey's robots for the past two hours! He destroyed three buildings, my favorite park bench, made me miss lunch, and I don't even know what the whole thing was about!"

"Uh-huh, that's nice," Dr. Two-Brains said, trying to give her the brush-off. "Now hold still while I turn you and your sidekick into fish chips."

WordGirl dropped the metal appendage she was holding and retreated in a flash when two rays fired simultaneously in her direction. She wasn't about to let that stop her, though. He'd asked what she was angry about, and he was going to get the whole answer.

"I mean, come on," she complained loudly, dashing back and forth to dodge the beams zapping constantly at her. "Why in the world would you destroy a state building, a movie theater, and a dry cleaner? It doesn't make any logical sense! He's supposed to be a genius, isn't he?"

Dr. Two-Brains frowned, jerking multiple joysticks back and forth in his ongoing effort to blast her. "Well, you're supposed to be a superhero, and you're not even trying to destroy my evil Goldfish machine anymore, so—"

"I'm just so sick of dealing with him! I can't even go to school—I mean, fly over the school without worrying about what kind of crazy robot scheme he's going to come up with next. It's driving me crazy!"

"Boy, you weren't kidding about not getting you started, either," Two-Brains drawled, groaning in frustration. "Listen, could you either keep still or keep quiet? Because this battle is starting to feel kind of un-sided."

"I am serious. If I have to listen to one more gloating rant in that infuriating fake accent of his, I think I'll—!"

"Oh, enough already!" Dr. Two-Brains yelled, squeezing hard on the controls of his machine. "Tobey's a pain, I get it. You ought to be grateful he's not worse."

"Worse?" WordGirl snapped. "How could he be worse?"

"How could he be worse?" the mad scientist repeated with a sinister chuckle. "He's your age isn't he?"

"Yeah," WordGirl muttered, her anger giving way to curiosity.

"And you're, what, twelve?"

"Twelve and a half," WordGirl corrected, crossing her arms. "So what?"

Two-Brains shrugged. "Look, all I'm saying is that if you can't handle him now, you've got another thing coming."

"What do you mean?" the young superhero asked, starting to feel nervous for reasons she didn't completely understand.

"Just what I said," Two-Brains replied. "I'm telling you, WordGirl, that kid is a time bomb. You think he's a menace now? Wait until he's a teenager and his emotions are running wild. Wait until he's an adult and he's not afraid of his mother anymore. It won't be pretty, I can promise you that. He won't be twelve forever, and as he gets older he's just going to get smarter, more powerful, and more evil. Now can we please forget about Tobey and finish our battle?"

WordGirl didn't respond. What Two-Brains said about Tobey had stirred in her a strange feeling of deep concern. His words made a scary sort of sense, and she found herself mentally running through the scenarios he had mentioned. The possibilities sent a chill down her spine.

Her stupor was broken by the sound of Captain Huggyface shrieking in her ear as he tackled her out of the way of a blast from the doctor's machine. They both fell into an open-top fish tank with a splash, and when they popped their heads back up from the water the villain was already making his escape.

"That battle was a huge disappointment," he shouted back to her from his machine as his henchmen pushed several crates full of soggy fish crackers out the giant hole in the wall. "You'd better get back in form before my next caper, WordGirl!"

And with that he followed his henchmen out the entrance-turned-exit that they had made, and was gone.

WordGirl might have still been able to stop him if she'd tried, but all her fighting spirit had left her. With a flustered sigh she lifted her sidekick out of the smelly aquarium water, and once they were on the ground he shook the moisture from his fur while she wrung out her hair, lost in thought.

"You think he's a menace now?" Dr. Two-Brains' words repeated in her mind. "He won't be twelve forever, and as he gets older he's just going to get smarter, more powerful, and more evil."

Huggy gave a concerned chirp, asking if she was okay, and WordGirl looked into his worried eyes with a somber expression of her own.

"Do you think he's right?" she asked, her voice steady but nervous. "Do you think Tobey will really get… worse?"

Captain Huggyface shrugged and moaned apologetically. WordGirl could tell, however, that she wasn't the only one who had taken the mad doctor's blather to heart.

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WordGirl landed in her front yard and, after taking a quick look around to make sure no one was watching, pressed the star on her chest. In a flash of light her superhero outfit transposed with her usual purple skirt, green sweater, and saddle shoes. She was back to being Becky Botsford again. If only she could change her train of thought as quickly as she could change her identity.

With a sigh she approached the front door to her house, but she stopped in her tracks when she picked up a voice from inside that she hadn't expected to hear. "I just don't know what to do with him, Sally," it said.

Becky gasped. "That's Mrs. McCallister."

Bob—now back in his diaper instead of his sidekick getup—squeaked a question.

"I think she's talking to Mom about Tobey," Becky answered. "Hold on…"

She stood by the door, and Bob waited quietly as she listened.

"He's still young," Mrs. Botsford said in a comforting tone. "I'm sure if you keep being firm with him he'll come around eventually."

"He's twelve!" Tobey's mother exclaimed, and Becky almost jumped in surprise. She had never heard the woman so upset. "He'll be thirteen soon, and you know better than anyone that teenagers can be tried as adults for serious crimes. With his record, do you think there's even a chance the courts will go easy on him?"

All was silent for a moment, and Becky was once again in shock. She'd never encountered a time when her mother was speechless before.

Mrs. McCallister heaved a wavering sigh, and her voice betrayed tears. "I just don't understand… Some days, when he's calm and happy, I can see the same sweet little boy he was years ago, before all this villain nonsense… but just when I'm starting to think that I've gotten through to him and that my baby has really come back to me, he just goes off and smashes a building! How am I supposed to deal with that?"

It was quiet for another long moment, and Becky noticed that she could hear her own heart racing. She felt… guilty. Mrs. McCallister had never been more to her than a colorful bit of background in her life, and occasionally a useful means of dealing with Tobey. As much as that boy drove her crazy, Becky had never really thought about how it must be for his mother. Realizing that the woman was practically heartbroken with fear for her son's future painted the McCallister family in a completely different light. To think that all this time, while Becky had merely been tolerating Tobey, his mother had been worrying herself ragged. That was just… so sad.

"There there, Claire," her mom cooed in a soothing tone. "You're doing your best for Tobey. Have faith in your son."

"I'm trying, Sally," Tobey's mother sniffled. "I really am trying…"

Becky bit her lip, and decided she'd heard enough. She grabbed Bob and zipped around the house to the upstairs window leading into her room. As she opened it and floated inside, her heart welled with compassion for Mrs. McCallister, as well as worry for the city's future. She didn't want to admit it, but Dr. Two-Brains had been right, and this new development with Tobey's mother proved it.

She collapsed on her bed, breathing heavily as she tried to sort through her jumbled thoughts. Bob gave an understanding moan and stood faithfully by her side.

"Wow," said a faceless voice she recognized all too well. "Things are really heating up in the drama department as you approach your teens, huh?"

"I know!" Becky agreed, throwing up her hands and then letting them flop back down onto her pillow. "Just a few months ago I almost lost my best friend in a secret identity crisis and now this!"

"That was pretty convenient timing, wouldn't you say? Dr. Two-Brains saying all that stuff about Tobey right before you overheard your mom talking to Mrs. McCallister about him?" He acted like he was trying to be subtle, though he clearly wasn't. Honestly, it was surprising he'd taken this long to say something. He must have been enjoying watching everything unfold.

"I'm used to convenient timing," Becky said. "What bothers me is that usually convenient timing means I need to do something."

"Do something about Tobey?" the Narrator asked. "What can you do about Tobey that you haven't been doing since the fifth grade?"

"I don't know," Becky groaned, covering her face in frustration. She perked up, however, and smiled as she remembered what—or rather who—had opened this can of worms in the first place.

"But," she muttered in a sly voice, thoughtfully grasping her chin, "I might know someone who does."

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"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11

Author's Notes:

-My Vision for 'Saving Tobey' If I could change one thing about WordGirl, it would be the level of emotional depth they're willing to explore. I get that it's a show for a very young audience, and the fact that they can't be serious for more than a couple seconds at a time has never really bothered me. Still… I really would've liked to see the characters' struggles with issues of identity, acceptance, family, and friendship fleshed out in more detail—especially characters like Becky and Tobey, who are noticeably layered considering that they hail from such a two-dimensional story. My goal with this fanfic isn't to make WordGirl something it's not, but rather to explore what it could have been. To the best of my abilities I shall endeavor to make the story feel like something that could have actually happened in the canon, but also balance that pursuit with my personal mission to dig deeper into the lives and hearts of the characters.

- The Age-Old Enigma— Despite my efforts, I can't quite figure out the ages or age difference between Becky and Tobey. Tobey's article on the WordGirl wiki says that he's already 12 in season 3, while Becky's article says that she's only 11 at the end of the series. That doesn't make sense to me because Tobey and Becky are in the same grade and class all throughout the series, and clearly this isn't because one of them is being held back. One thing that does seem fairly clear, however, is that at the start of the series Becky is 9 while Tobey is 10. Since they can't be very far apart in age, however, my headcanon is that they are at most a few months apart, and since Becky celebrates a birthday just a few episodes into the first season, this makes sense to me. The one area where I might be in mild conflict with the canon is that I've placed Becky at 12 ½ years old while also stating that the events of Rhyme and Reason happened 'a few months ago.' Like I said, though, neither the canon neither the wiki are 100% clear on the character's ages at the end, so let's just go with it, okay? For the purposes of this fanfic, Becky is 12 ½, Tobey is approaching 13, and the series ended a few months ago.