Focus
a Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends fanfic
by
C. "Sparky" Read

A/N: Before you read this, and then possibly the sequel "Edge," you should know that I have decided not to continue this series. My views on the characters and the show have changed quite a bit since I started this project and I feel I can no longer continue this particular storyline with my current mindset. I guess I won't delete the stories from FFdotnet but just be aware that there will be no more in this series. Thanks. -Sparky

Chapter One

Terrence didn't know why he was so stupid.

It wasn't as if he was asking to be a genius or anything, but he certainly would have settled for average. Anything was better than the constant reminders that he was stupid. He got it at home from his jerkfaced little brother and he got it at school from his classmates and hell, even some of the teachers. His own mother, while careful never to insult her children directly, was prone to moments where she merely threw her hands in the air in frustration and exclaimed, "Honestly Terrence, don't you even try to do well in school?"

He did try. He tried constantly to keep up with his schoolwork but something that eluded him always held him back. For the life of him he could not figure out what this great mystery was, this one element he was lacking that always made it so difficult to complete a single homework assignment. Every day he watched with envy as people all around him effortlessly comprehended things while he was unable to do the same. Just seeing his eight-year-old brother Mac open his Math book and zip through his assignments with ease filled him with a seething jealousy that more often then not manifested itself in destructive behavior, after which he was usually confined to his room to sit alone on his bed and wonder why. It didn't seem fair. He hadn't asked to be stupid, after all. But everyone always seemed quick to remind him of his lot. He had decided long ago not to care, but deciding to do something wasn't the same as actually doing it.

Today in Geometry class he had stood at the whiteboard for what seemed like an eternity clutching an orange dryerase marker and trying to make sense out of the multicolored shapes and symbols in front of him. At last Ms. Yeates (who had the patience of a saint, for what its worth) took pity on him and let him sit down, but not before causing him enough humiliation to warrant knocking that bigmouth Jimmy Taylor against the wall, getting Terrence sent to the Vice Principal's office. Terrence would certainly hear from Mom about that one later tonight when she came home from work.

Then the capper on what was already shaping up to be a craptacular day came when Terrence, his ears still buzzing with Vice Principal Healey's disparaging words, arrived home only to trip over Mac's backpack left carelessly near the door. His anger to the boiling point, Terrence chased Mac through the neighborhood slinging threat after threat while Mac countered with numerous comments slandering his older brother's intelligence – naturally, for it seemed to be the only fodder anyone knew to use against him. You can imagine that this didn't exactly calm Terrence down.

At last they arrived at Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, a large, quaint-looking house situated on a quiet street a little more than a mile from their apartment. This is where Mac always went every day after school (and for at least a little while even on both weekend days), to visit his own imaginary friend, Bloo. He had to go every day, that was the agreement – if he didn't Bloo might get adopted out to another kid. Bloo had recently gone to live at Foster's when Mom had announced that Mac was too old for him, but both Mac and Bloo knew that the real reason Mom had made Bloo leave was because of Terrence and his temper. The fighting between the three at the apartment had just been too much for Mom to bear, so she had devised the only solution she could. While Mom did not yet know of these visits, Terrence had found out at the start; the only reason he had not yet squealed was because he was still waiting for just the right moment to get Mac into a buttload of trouble. That moment could come at any time.

It was safe to say that Mac and Bloo highly disliked Terrence. And they were very careful to make that very clear at every opportunity.

Having lost Mac at last upon arriving in the west sideyard, Terrence skidded to a stop and paused, hands on knees, to try and catch his breath after the long hard run. After a moment he straightened up and glared around himself for any signs of his brother – or anyone else, for that matter. There was no one about. Feeling the need to keep the insults flowing, Terrence cupped a hand around his mouth and yelled up at the house (where he figured Mac was hiding), "I'm gonna pound you into grape jelly, you little snotburger!"

At this a large grey rabbit in a top hat and monocle appeared at an open second-story window. This was Mr. Herriman, Madam Foster's own imaginary friend, still with her after a good eight decades. He seldom smiled, was formal at all times, and fancied himself in charge of Foster's. He looked about for a moment to locate the source of the voice and at last spotted Terrence below him, still glaring around. "I'm afraid you've got the wrong side, lad," Mr. Herriman called down stiffly. "Deliveries go to the east service entrance."

This derailed Terrence's train of thought entirely, and it went down in a firey crash. "What?" was all he could manage, gaping up at the rabbit.

Mr. Herriman frowned. "Aren't you the grocery boy?" he queried.

"Um…huh?"

An impatient huff. "Did you not just mention grape jelly and ground hamburger?" the rabbit demanded irritably.

Terrence blinked up at the window in confusion. "Uh," was his reply.

Mr. Herriman frowned more deeply and leaned over the sill. "Why, you're not the grocery boy at all!" he declared at last, adjusting his monocle. "You're that trespassing hooligan. I shall ask you to retrieve your rugby ball or whatever it is that you lost over the fence at once and vacate the premises immediately or I shall be forced to call the authorities! Go on," he added when Terrence opened his mouth to protest (or perhaps offer another "Uh"). "At once!" And with that the rabbit closed the window and hopped out of view.

A high, teasing voice suddenly reached the thirteen-year-old's ears from the back of the sideyard. "Terrence is too stupid to be a delivery boy!" it said. "He wouldn't be able to read any of the addresses and he'd always wind up in Cuba!"

Terrence looked round to spot a blue, simply-conceived imaginary friend, with Mac standing behind him, both laughing now. The older boy stared at them a moment before flushing red and charging at them in rage. Mac and Bloo – still giggling – ducked around the corner, Terrence hot on their heels. They led him through the spacious backyard and round the other corner of the house as they vanished into the east sideyard. Following them blindly, Terrence darted around the corner and found himself face to face with a ladder. Assuming his victims had made their escape by means of it, Terrence quickly climbed to the top.

"All right, where are you you little – " He stopped short, looking down. The ladder was propped up against what looked for all the world like a nine-foot-tall tin can with no lid. Before he could ascertain just what the lumpy white substance the can was filled with was, Mac and Bloo suddenly appeared on either side of him and pushed.

"Hey!" yelled a redheaded young woman by the side entrance as she was splashed with the contents of the can (this was Madam Foster's granddaughter, Frankie). "What's going on? Who are you?" she added, pointing accusingly at Terrence, who had surfaced with a cough, unable to identify him through the white gunk he was now coated with.

"Why, its that young ruffian again," announced Mr. Herriman, appearing at the door. "So sorry, lad," he went on, turning to the young man in the "Graber's Grocers" shirt standing nearby with a confused look on his face, "but I'm afraid we will have to order a new vat of tapioca."

Trying to ignore Mac and Bloo, who were rolling around on the ground in hysterics, Frankie stepped up to the can. "Just what do you think you are doing?" she yelled at Terrence, scowling as she tried to sweep globs of tapioca off of her shoulders. "Do you know how unsanitary that is? Didn't you read the sign?" She indicated a modestly-sized sign on the side of the house that read THIS AREA FOR DELIVERIES ONLY.

Bloo sat up. "Terrence is too stupid to read!" he blurted, and he and Mac dissolved into laughter once again, mostly at the sight of Terrence hanging over the side of the can drenched in tapioca pudding.

Finally managing to collect himself, Terrence hauled himself over the edge of the can, fell with a very wet plop on the lawn (which covered Frankie head to toe in pudding), picked himself up, and ran off.

"Next time I'm calling the authorities!" threatened Mr. Herriman, shaking a gloved fist in the air while Frankie stood morosely beside him, dripping.

"What a stupid kid," the redhead remarked crossly.

"Cuba!" Bloo yelled suddenly after the departing teen, and he and Mac broke into laughter anew.

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

"But Mooo-ooom…"

"Don't 'but-mom' me! Honestly Terrence, I don't know what goes through that head of yours sometimes! First I get another call from your vice principal about you picking on your classmates – "

"I wasn't picking on them!"

"Let me finish! And then I get home and find…what I would swear is tapioca pudding all over the living room and the bathroom – "

"But Mom I didn't do it!"

"Terrence your clothes are covered with the stuff! What on Earth were you doing after school today?"

"I – It – It was Mac's fault!"

"Oh don't you give me that! Terrence, go to your room right now!"

"But – "

"Go! Now!"

Mac waited for the angry footsteps, then the familiar slam of the door across the hall, before setting his homework down, getting off of his bed, and peeking out of his room. Mom was in the living room with a roll of paper towels in her hands, looking frankly perplexed at how exactly she was supposed to get tapioca pudding out of the carpet fibres.

"Mom?"

Mom looked up and sighed. "Come on out, sweetie," she said, beckoning to him. "I'm sorry I asked you to wait in your room while I spoke to your brother."

"Um, that's okay." Mac looked at the mess on the floor a bit guiltily. "Do…you want me to help clean up?" he asked.

Mom gave him a tired smile, and shook her head. "I do hate shouting at him, you know," she said apologetically, setting the roll of paper towels on the kitchen table. "But the things he does…" She trailed off as Mac stood there awkwardly. Finally she shrugged. "Well, let's try out that wet-dry vac I paid so much money for. I knew it would come in handy someday, I just wasn't expecting…this."

The wet-dry vac turned out to be a pretty good investment after all, and soon enough Mom and Mac were sitting down to a quick dinner of leftover meatloaf. Afterwords Mom knocked on Terrence's door while Mac resumed his homework in the living room.

Terrence was sitting on his bed ripping pages out of an old seventh-grade Algebra textbook and flinging the wadded paper against the wall when Mom knocked. He ignored the first knock but reluctantly greeted the second one with a mumbled "What."

Mom opened the door slowly. "Terrence," she started the same old conversation. "Is everything all right? With you? With school?"

Terrence thought about Jimmy Taylor and the others and was silent.

Leaving the door open, Mom crossed the room and sat on the end of the bed. "Why did you push that boy today?" she pressed.

Terrence mumbled something.

"What?"

"I said he's a smeghead," Terrence replied, borrowing a word he'd heard on BBC America one night long after he was supposed to be in bed.

Mom made a face but held back her full reaction. "Well why is he a – " she licked her lips – "What exactly was he doing?" she asked.

Terrence shrugged. "I was working a problem at the board and he was saying stuff about me," he relented.

"What stuff?"

Silence.

Mom sighed and sat back a little. "Well maybe from now on you should just work the problems and never mind what other people are saying," she advised. "Did you at least get the problem right?"

Terrence glowered. "No."

"Was it too hard?"

"No…"

"Then what?"

"Maybe I'm just too stupid to read," Terrence heard himself blurt sarcastically.

"Oh, honey," exclaimed his mother at once, reaching out for his arm, "you shouldn't ever say that."

"Why not?" protested Terrence, jerking his arm away from her. "That's all everyone ever seems to say!" By 'everyone' here, of course he meant Bloo, but Mom took the logical step and assumed he meant everyone at school. She drew back in concern.

"Terrence, are you having trouble reading? Is that what this is all about?"

Terrence blinked at her. What? "Huh?" he said. "Uh, no – "

Mom put the fingers of one hand against her lips as the implications of this hit her. "I should have noticed sooner," she gasped. "You used to do better in school...Oh, sweetie, I'm so sorry. I'll make an appointment with a doctor right away to have your eyes checked out."

This was not cool. "Mom!" cried Terrence in horror.

Mom got up and headed for the door. "Honey, if you need glasses then the sooner you get them the better, before you start high school next year. If you're hungry there's still some meatloaf left in the fridge." She paused in the doorway to look back at her eldest, who was still sitting on the bed staring at her in disbelief. "Terrence, you know I love you," she said firmly. "And don't worry, whatever the problem is, we'll find a way to work it out." She left, passing Mac in the hallway, who tried to pretend like he hadn't been listening.

Terrence sat there on his bed, gaping after his departing mother, and wondered what the heck he had gotten himself into this time. Whatever it was, it seemed to be all Bloo's fault for all that crap he had been spewing that afternoon about reading.

But one thing was for sure: Terrence sure as hell was never going to eat tapioca pudding again as long as he lived.