Disclaimer: I should hope that by now you know that The Simpsons belong to Matt Groening ...!

AN: Was feeling somewhat moody and this came out!


He hated the way his gut felt when she went to bed crying. Normally he ignored it, but this time he'd had the bad luck to be in earshot of every word and the doubly bad luck of looking up just at that moment and seeing not only the hurt on her face, but the betrayal too. Ever since then, the gnawing in his gut had gotten worse and worse, allowing him to identify the feeling as guilt. So here he was, waiting just outside her door and waiting for her to cry herself to sleep. Again. It took longer than it usually did for the sobbing to stop, forcing him to acknowledge just how upset she was. He sighed, this had been long overdue and he knew himself to be a coward for not being able to tell her this when she was awake. He opened the door a crack and peered at the bed and its occupant in the dark room. Satisfied she was asleep, he slipped in and closed the door again so the hall light wouldn't wake her up. She was facing away from the door, the only thing today that had gone right. He stared at the back of her head for a moment, thinking about how to start. There were several false starts before he managed to get going.

"I'm not as popular as you think I am, I can't make the fifth and sixth graders or Nelson do anything they don't wanna. To tell the truth Lis, me and Milhouse are pretty low on the fourth grade food chain; not nearly as low as Martin though." Here he began to pace. "I know I should've said something today at lunch, but I'm a really selfish and small minded guy; you know that, mom knows it, I think even Homer knows it. I didn't want to lose my spot, I didn't wanna get the snot beaten out of me for defending you." He froze when Lisa shifted in her bed, fearing he'd been talking too loudly. He relaxed when she stilled and continued his explanation. "We both know that strength rules the yard, that we have to surrender our lunch money to those stronger than us when they demand it or get a mega-wedgie, either that or a really bloody beat-down; it depends on who it is. I've heard older kids talking, that elementary school is like a jail, and you know what Lis? It's true. Your every move is watched, bad cafeteria food, your surrounded by guards that don't give a damn about our future because to them we don't have one. Every day it's the same routine so that by the time we're adults, we don't care about anything except ourselves." He sighed and looked down. "I'm just a product of the system, broken before I hit the shelf and that's why I do what I do. I'm going down and I'm taking everyone I can with me." His gaze turned back to his little sister before he sat on the bed and twiddled his thumbs in his lap. He sat like that for awhile, listening to Homer snoring, the lullaby playing in Maggies room and the sound of Snowball scratching around in the litterbox. He stuck his tongue in disgust, glad that mom was on litter duty tomorrow.

"Nnngh ..." Lisa groaned in her sleep as she turned on her back, he hopped off her bed in a hurry and prepared to bolt if she showed any more signs of waking up. She didn't. He sighed with relief. He had to finish before she woke up.

"Lisa, don't listen to what any of those kids said 'cause it's not true. You're not ugly or a freak of nature, you're good on the sax and at everything you set your mind to. And you're really smart. Not the 'business manager' kind of smart, I'm talking about Nobel Prize, 'change the world' smart. Do yourself a favour and stop trying to impress teachers, they stopped caring a long time ago. You can still see the good in the world, you still want to improve it, you want to help those who need it. Don't ever change, don't let them break you and your dreams. Goodnight Lisa, I love you." He put his hand on Lisa's shoulder for a moment before slipping out of room as quickly and quietly as he had slipped in.

Hearing the door close, Lisa opened her eyes and blinked, allowing her tears to fall. "Thank you Bart ..." She hoarsely whispered.