I can already tell I'm going to need a little disclaimer in the beginning of this chapter.
I had a really hard time writing this. It took me a few days, as opposed to my usual two hours. I really debated with myself, because I know it's completely not in character activity at all. And normally, I don't hesitate to dive into the weird or sexual in fan fiction (you should read my Harry Potter stuff… it's insane.), but this time is different because this is completely unfunny stuff. I feel like I've betrayed myself to some point, because it's completely out of character. I tried to keep them in character as much as possible, but I feel like all I accomplished with this chapter was putting completely different personalities inside the bodies of Robbie and Stephanie. Robbie is really hard to write seriously, I have to admit.
So please keep that in mind as you read this. I love all of the reviews, it's completely what's kept me going. And I lied, there's going to be one more chapter involving this summer in Lazytown. But this story's not even near being complete.
p.s. let me know if you think I should upgrade the rating on the story due to this chapter. I really don't want some random person to read this thinking it's appropriate and then get offended. So please let me know if/when you review.
Finally away from the others, Robbie reached the quiet and shady thicket of trees, one of Lazytown's undiscovered peaceful places that only he knew about. It was mainly where he went to think when he was tired of being the villain all day. He didn't really ever think about much in particular, just things no one would ever expect him to think about. He couldn't be funny or conniving twenty-four seven, could he now?
Today, though, he had something to think about. Why did everyone know everyone else? How did Genevive manage to meet not only Stephanie, but Sportacus as well, in the period of less than twenty-four hours? It figures that she'd go out snooping in my town, he thought. Part of him argued, saying that it was just as much her town as it was his, but that wasn't the point. The point was… he didn't know what the point was. The point was, he didn't feel like being much of anyone at the moment. Embarrassed and confused, he took to pacing in the shady clearing, brooding to himself.
Never once in his entire prowl from the Ice Cream shop did he imagine that any one of the three would follow him. His pacing was interrupted as someone else stepped into the secluded clearing. "Go away, I don't want to talk to you," he began, not bothering to even look to see who it was. He closed his eyes and folded his arms. "I said go away." He opened his eyes to see Stephanie there, holding her ice cream cone out to him.
"I'm not eating this," she said quietly, even though there wasn't anyone around to hear her. "You can have it if you want it."
He sneered and looked away from her. "I'm not really that hungry either. Just dump it or eat it yourself." He began to pace again, shutting her out.
"So that's it?" He turned around to find himself face to face with the girl. Although much shorter than he, she was certainly intimidating with that look on her face. A look of defiance, a look that was supposed to remind him of how unfair he was being. "Do you know how extremely frustrated you make me, Robbie Rotten? In the past twenty four hours, you've made me want to rip my hair out more times than I've ever wanted to before."
"No! Listen. I don't understand you. I don't understand why you're still in Lazytown if you hate it so much. I don't understand why you hate everyone. I don't understand why you hate Sportacus, and I don't understand why you hate me."
Robbie stood still, an eyebrow raised. He obviously wasn't expecting this. "Do you really want to know why I hate Sportacus?"
"Yes," she said.
He sneered. "It started back when I was in high school. There was this super gross guy who was in my grade. His name was Athleticus, and he walked around with a big number nine on his chest. He was such a jerk, I couldn't stand it. Yes, I know, you can't believe there was ever a jerk bigger than me. It's true! Anyhow, the first day I came to Lazytown, fresh off the plane from Iceland, he challenged me to a race. On my first day! I was so scared! Anyways, we raced, long story short, he won, and even though I was a very close second and I wasn't a sore loser, he still teased me mercilessly about it, and made it a point to remind me every day about how I lost a race to him, even though everyone liked me and I eventually became this big track star, whatever. Don't give me that look, it's true! Ask my sister! Who I'll get to in a moment, by the way…"
Stephanie smiled. This was the most Robbie had ever said to her without telling her off for who knows what. Instead, he was griping about someone else for a change. He was actually sharing a story with her! She bit her lip though, when he looked her way. She couldn't give herself away.
"So in conclusion, I hate Sportacus because Number Nine Athleticus, the jerk who came before him, was so freaky. And besides that, if there's anything I hate more than a jerk, it's a goody-goody. Do-gooders are so stupid! Nothing is perfect in the end, so why try to fix something that will just break again anyways?"
Stephanie raised her eyebrow, sitting down on the ground and reluctantly eating the melty ice cream. "Hmm, sounds kinda like the way you always try to shut everyone up, but even if it works for a while, it always gets noisy again. Don't you agree?"
"Don't change the subject! Anyways, about my sister… How is it you know her?"
"She helped me get a package of cake mix on the top shelf at the grocery store."
Now that he was done ranting about Athleticus, it was finally dawning on Robbie that he had just told Stephanie something he hadn't really told anyone before. It was kind of nice to look down from his pacing place and see the quiet girl listening to him talk. No one really did that. And she did look good sitting still for a change, he noted. She should do it more often.
Uncomfortable in the silence, he began to hum a random tune. Recognizing it immediately, Stephanie hummed with him, until they were both singing half-forgotten words about being a pirate.
"That was so long ago. I can't believe we were so stupid to fall for your disguises," she said, wiping her hand on the grass. She extended the ice cream cone out to him again as a peace offering. "Come on, Robbie… I know you want the rest." Giving in, he sat down a few feet away on the grass and took the ice cream.
"Thank you. See? I know how to use manners!"
She gave him a little smile. "I knew you had it in you."
There was another small silence as Robbie finished off the rest. He looked at Stephanie, sitting there across from him, looking peaceful but nervous. She was looking at the grass, the sky, anywhere but his face. The silence was too loud for any lingering eye contact. He tried to think of something to say, and was about to make a comment on the summer weather, when Stephanie struck up for a change.
"So, you told me why you hate Sportacus… because he's a do-gooder… is that why you hate me?" She finally looked at him straight in the eyes, the eyes that couldn't hide anything.
Robbie looked right back at her with uncertainty. She wasn't exactly the girl he thought she was. She was brave to ask him such a question, and she looked so good just sitting there, staring at him. She didn't only look good, though. She looked fabulous. It was as if he was seeing someone completely different. This isn't the same kid who spent her summers terrorizing me, he thought. It can't be. He found himself tongue-tied, and couldn't form words.
Tired of him stuttering, she launched forward in her words again. "You don't have to be nice, Robbie. I really want to know why you hate me. Because I'll let you know that I'm not really a do-gooder, I grew out of that a long time ago. I couldn't care less about what other people think of me anymore. I'm friends with Sportacus, but I'm not his sidekick, or his crony or anything… And I wish you didn't hate me, because I think that you're really a good guy, whether you want to see it or not. I guess that's the only do-good thing about me… I try to find the good in everyone, and none of my friends think I'm right, and… and I guess that's really all I had to say."
By the time she finished, Robbie could see her eyes shining with tears a little. Obviously she was sad that none of her friends ever agreed from her. Even he could take a little blame for that. When they were younger, Robbie had essentially taught the kids that Stephanie was a killjoy, and to be lazy was to be the Anti-Stephanie… the Anti-benevolent.
He finally found his words, or maybe his words found him. Finally he could open his mouth, and he knew talking a whole lot of nothing would fill up dead space, and would sound nice. He couldn't face the fact that he had sweaty palms and a rapid heartbeat because of a teenaged girl.
"I- I don't hate you."
The sniffing Stephanie looked up a little from the ground she'd been staring at.
"I don't hate you. I don't even not like you. If that makes any sense. I guess you're just different now, and that's good different. Different is good, and-"
He was using space-filling words now, and didn't even notice at first that a hand had slowly crept into his. "A HAND!" he shouted, interrupting his empty train of words. He tried to shake it away, but she wouldn't let go. He could see her smiling a little bit, and dropped his hand to the grass, taking hers with it.
"Ahem… about that…"
"My hand? Or your sweaty one?" she asked with a deadpan face.
His starched collar felt too tight. It was the sun that was making him sweat. Or was it her? He felt a wonderful sense of dread fill his stomach as he realized that he hadn't held hands with a girl in fifteen years. A girl hadn't sat this close to him purposely in fifteen years. A girl hadn't looked at him like that in fifteen years. A girl hadn't sat up on her knees, turned his face and cupped it in her hands, or said "Robbie…" like that… the way girls used to say his name, like it was a possession that they shared with him, an exhaled question, an innocent initiator.
It all happened so quickly. The distance between her and him grew shorter and shorter. Remaining frozen, Robbie did nothing while Stephanie bent all the way forward and placed her lips on his as they gently found their way to his bottom lip and kissed it. Not a full on kiss, just a light touch. The mutual taste of ice cream lingered between them. Scared in the complete rush of it all, Robbie couldn't do anything other than allow himself to be subjected to her experiment. She was the mad scientist, and he was the corpse that she was trying to reanimate. Her pressure got a little more intense, but lessened as she pulled back on him slowly. Her arms slowly snaked around his neck as she pulled him along. He had no choice but to follow her down as she lay on her back, putting him in the power spot.
Finally realizing that he had the upper hand, he froze. What were they doing, exactly? Was it natural that he was thinking rational thoughts at this moment, or should he already have her under his control? She was barely a kid anymore, but she wasn't exactly an adult. Not to mention the fact that twenty-four hours ago, he hadn't even thought of her as more than anything but a bratty princess. But now that he'd finally met the real Stephanie, he understood why everyone loved her. In the moment, he was afraid of scaring her off by allowing his body to react to the events transposing in his mind, even though she'd essentially been the one to scare him in the first place.
In his pause, she opened her mouth to say something. Don't ruin this for me, he thought, looking at her on her back, him wondering whether to consider himself on top of her or not. Don't say you want me, don't say you don't want me. Say nothing.
"Robbie," she breathed again. "Are you… okay? You aren't mad, are you?"
Robbie looked around. "Do I seem mad? I don't feel mad. I feel… enjoyed."
She couldn't help it, she let out a quiet laugh. "You are."
"I could say the same for you, but I really need to be somewhere by tomorrow, and if we're going to continue this kiss at all in any way, we have to do it now." He had forgotten how easy it was to use humor. But it was hard to forget the girl underneath him, the one pulling him back down into her personal space and inviting him to stay for a while.
Stephanie was surprised with herself. She hadn't known what she'd wanted to do until seconds before she went through with it. She had never forgotten Robbie, and only now she was beginning to understand what he was all about. He wasn't always fair, but he did have his reasons for being the way he was. His eyes made her uneasy, because of their icicle quality. The way they pierced her own eyes, pierced her brain and her heart, and when she looked at him now, she could feel herself drowning in them. But they were also saving her, pulling her to shore and making her act almost irrationally. She only knew how she felt now, and she felt like she'd finally found a friend.
Albeit, it was a friend who was allowing her the hasty pursuit of his lips, indulging her willingness to pull him down with her, didn't even care to hide the fact that he had grown hard against her hip bone as he returned her kiss, and neither did she. It was nice to be loved, but somehow it was more immediately satisfying to be enjoyed. She liked knowing that she could make him shudder by lightly raking her nails across his back, and having the knowledge that it would only make him sink harder into her. She didn't expect it to go on forever. She was pleasantly surprised to feel his hand reciprocating her touch by snaking up the back of her t-shirt. He rested his hand on the small of her back, and simply left it there, lightly feeling the skin there. She could hear his heart pounding inside of her head. So he was just as nervous and scared as she was. She felt almost sick with fear and desire, and realized that no other guy she'd kissed had ever made her feel that way before. The boys back at her school were charming, but none of them had the years of mystery that Robbie had. Not knowing about any girl in his past made the guessing game far more exciting.
She didn't know how far he was willing to take it. She didn't even know how far she was willing to take it, herself. As if he had heard her question, he seemed to come into consciousness about what was happening, and tensed up. As the heat sank to a glow, he let up on the kiss and rolled over to sit up on the grass next to her. Understanding that he wasn't intending to go any further, she rolled onto her stomach and propped herself up on her elbows. She smiled and sighed. "That was…"
"Strange and unfunny," he finished, raising one eyebrow.
"I was going to say interesting, but it's the same concept," she beamed.
"Can I just ask… why you did it?" he asked.
She giggled slightly, looking surprised. "Come on, you were asking for it. You were all 'Oh Stephanie, I don't hate you, you're right, I'm a nice guy', and me, being vulnerable… found it… alluring. Besides, I wanted to see what you'd do."
"Oh, sure… vulnerable… that's funny. Well, I hope I reacted correctly," he said, amazed that the post-kiss wasn't going as awkwardly as he'd thought. Missing the contact, he reached out and laid his hand on her arm. He was glad to see she blushed a little.
"Don't worry, you did. I'm just glad you kissed me back."
Good, so she admits that she started this whole thing, he thought happily. Not my fault at all. "Why wouldn't I? Apparently you're the only person who'd ever give me a chance and believe in me. So… what now?"
That's a good question, she thought. "Well… I guess the next step is… um, we're celebrating my birthday this Friday night… you should come to my party in Town Square. You are the birthday fairy, after all."
Robbie's stomach sank as the guilt set in a little. It only reminded him of how big the age difference between them was. He sat up a little, his expression unreadable. "A birthday party. Hm."
Stephanie looked at him. He'd stopped touching her arm. "What's wrong? This isn't about my age, is it? Because I'll be seventeen, and…" she trailed off when she realized he wasn't going to argue with her. "You don't have to come if you don't want to. I'll understand."
After he didn't say anything for a few seconds, she made a move to get up. Upset, she got to her feet, only to feel a strong hand close over her wrist and pull her back down. She fell right into his lap. "I'm just afraid no one will want me there. Other than you, of course." She smiled and put her arms around his neck.
"If anyone says anything about you being there, I'll kick their ass to the moon. You can count on that. Just don't pull anything stupid… don't disguise yourself or anything. Come as Robbie Rotten, or the birthday fairy. Either one will do, really."
"Oh ha, very funny," he said, rolling his eyes. "Well, if you really want me there-"
"I do. And your sister, too, please."
"If you really do, then I'll be there. I'm sure Gen will come too… I… think you're really weird."
"You are definitely weirder," she said, getting up and giving him her hand. And for the first time, he was the one who kissed her. It was a kiss of reassurance, a seal of camaraderie, something that said that it was their little secret. "Does this mean you like me?" she teased.
"I guess so. Only a little."
She gave him a hug around his waist. Even her holding him made it seem like she never wanted to let go. Once she did let go, they said a quick goodbye and slipped out of the trees, going their separate ways. Stephanie was careful not to look back, but couldn't contain herself from running home with the happiest feeling she'd had the entire summer. I only wanted to see what he'd do when I kissed him, she thought, wiping her feet on the mat. He'd been so afraid, she could see it in his eyes. I guess it was an experiment to see what I'd do, too. I'm glad I did. Only now, I think that I…
"I really, really like him," she sighed out loud, as she went inside the house.
Robbie walked back to the billboard, with the strangest feeling he'd had in a long time. He'd never had a change of heart so quickly. Such is the power of the pink one, he thought as he tripped over a rock in his path. Looking around to make sure no one saw him, he continued on. His brain seized as he wondered where Genevive was. He almost was hoping that she'd just gone home to Iceland, even though it was completely unlikely. He didn't know what he would say to her if she were back at his house. Hi, sorry to worry you, I was out kissing the girl you predicted I'd be kissing? He didn't want to give her the satisfaction of being right. Not immediately, anyways.
Besides that, his heart skipped a beat and then sped up every time he thought about it. Every memory became more and more real the more he thought about it. A real live girl likes me, he thought, almost giddy. She likes me and she doesn't like Sportacus! He laughed out loud. But every time he remembered her birthday party, his stomach dropped. She'd said she was turning seventeen. Robbie could barely even remember anything from when he was seventeen. It was a difficult thought to swallow, the gap between them. And the lightening-quick beginning of the entire situation made him think that maybe she hadn't been thinking when she kissed him.
…And she'll have forgotten me by tomorrow.
Hoping that it wasn't the case, he slipped down the tunnel into his house to find it empty. Instead he found a note next to the phone that said
Don't know where you are, hopefully Stephanie caught up with you and talked some sense into you after that whole weird encounter this afternoon. I, on the other hand, caught up with Bessie and we are going shopping this afternoon for Stephanie's birthday party. The party is this Friday, and surprisingly enough, Bessie said you were invited. So I'd suggest that you'd go buy a present pretty soon.
See you tonight! Love,
Glad that his sister wasn't home, he found that was suddenly very hungry, and ventured into his newfound kitchen to find something to eat. After devouring a roasted chicken, he dragged himself into one of the seldom-used bedrooms and collapsed into yet another dream filled with a certain pink-haired girl. But this time, the dream had already come true.