Chapter Fifty Two
Missouri sighs, taking a long, deep drink of the tea Lily's brewed up. Robby, Scrap, Jim's boy…whatever name he's going by today, is sat in her living room. He's looking at the floor but Missouri can tell he's fascinated by all the things around him. Things he's probably never seen before. Things most children born and rasied after 'Gate have never seen before. Still, the boy won't look at them – eyes down, obedient, submissive – please don't hurt me. She doesn't need to be psychic to read Robby Singer like an open book.
"I underestimated you boy." Missouri chuckles and takes another drink. "I must be getting old huh?"
Robby doesn't reply but Missouri can see him tense. Trying to work out if that's some kind of threat to him probably.
"Now do you wanna tell me what you were doing in my house?"
"I'm sorry," Robby speaks the words like a reflex and Missouri shakes her head. She feels pity for the boy, hell her heart is damned near breaking, but Robby isn't her child - Lily is, and if she's gotta spook out this kid to protect Lily then so be it.
"I didn't ask for an apology boy, I asked what you were doing."
"I-I don't know," Robby shrugs. "I just…I wanted to be brave."
"Brave?!" Lily speaks up what Missouri's thinking. "Breaking into someone's house isn't brave, it's dumb. Especially this house. I could've shot you."
"I know," Robby replies. "I know it was dumb, I know It was bad. But I…please don't shoot me, not in the head please."
"Why were you in my house?" Missouri asks again, her eyes narrow and she fights to keep the conversation on track. Could Robby have known Lily was in here? Were his powers strong enough that he could even see through her wards? Lily had healed the boy once, was that enough for him to find her? And even if it was, why would he want to? And did Lily recognise him? The both of them had been blindfolded but she can remember Robby's voice. "I can't see…" and Lily had replied, spoken to him even though Missouri had ordered her not to. Just one word "Soon." – was that enough for Robby to know her? The boy had been so weak, barely alive, surely not…
"I don't know why, I just…I felt like it. I felt like I needed to come in here. I-I'm telling truth, I promise. Look in my head if you don't believe me. I know you can do that!"
Missouri considers it for a moment but she's tired, so tired and the thought of looking through Robby's horrific memories… That will leave her too exhausted to protect Lily. No that will have to wait for another day when they've got back up.
"One day I will but right now I need to figure out what we're going to do."
Ronny shudders at that, a tiny tremble of fear, but he doesn't voice it. Doesn't beg, doesn't argue, doesn't run. In fact, it's Lily who speaks up.
"Mom don't do anything to him. Please. He's a good person."
Missouri raised her eyebrows at that. "And how do you know that young lady?"
"I just do!" Lily replies. "I…I feel like I know him."
Robby looks up at that and Missouri watches as the two youngsters make eye-contact. She watches as faint lines of crimson appear over the side of Robby's face and knows he's not just looking but using his abilities, that strange second sight he has.
"Boy, what did I tell you about using those powers?" she warns and Robby stops immediately, wide, frightened eyes turning to her instead.
"I'm sorry, I-I forgot. I won't do it again."
"If I had a nickel for every time you and Dean said that word…" Missouri sighs and tries not to be frustrated. She can't talk to Robby like Lily. Her daughter might not be an entirely normal teenage girl but at least she isn't traumatised.
"Can't Robby stay for a bit? Can he stay for some food? Look Mom he's thin, he needs to eat." Missouri purses her lips as she watches Lily flash Robby a tentative smile. She's a woman, she knows what's happening here, and she's not entirely sure she likes it.
"Weren't you supposed to be heading to John's house?" Missouri asks and Robby nods.
"I was going there…I just…"
"Straight there, I remember you promising me, boy. Straight there, I said, don't talk to anyone, I said. Thought you of all people would've had more sense. Thought you'd know what kind of people…" but even as she's muttering to herself, Missouri's walking over to the kitchen, hunting out some ration packs. Why not keep the boy here for a few hours? Easier to keep an eye on him at least.
Missouri glances back and watches Robby and Lily flashing shy, nervous smiles at each other…easier to keep an eye on both of them.
Dean doesn't even feel hungry and he picks listlessly at the chunk of bread in front of him. When Dad and Sam are distracted he'll hide it in his trousers and stash it with the other pieces of food he's got hidden around the house. He's got a store in pretty much every room in the house so if Dad changes his mind about punishing him and decides to lock him up somewhere or stop feeding him he'll still have a little bit to get him by.
Robby used to do it all the time. When he would eat something they hadn't drugged, he'd probably only take a few bites of it and then hide the rest. Dean can remember watching as the kid starved in the cell, forcing himself to take only tiny mouthfuls of the 'safe' food he'd hidden away. It wouldn't work of course, not for long, eventually he'd have to eat something else, something untested and then, inevitably, one of the meals would be drugged and the visions would start.
It hadn't always been like that. At first they'd just drag him kicking and screaming, hold him down and stick a needle in him. But Robby would give them a hell of a fight, the usually compliant little Scrap driven by panic and desperation and fear into a frenzied fighter. And eventually they must have figured the easiest way was just to put it in his food. Robby was scared of the drugs, really fucking scared, but not scared enough to starve himself to death. He'd get close. Scarily fucking close. So close that Dean would beg and plead with him to eat something, anything, threatening to force it down his fucking throat if he didn't.
"…You don't know how it feels," Robby would tell him and Dean would shrug. It was true. He knew they drugged Robby so he'd have visions. Whatever they put in his food triggered off his powers somehow. But Dean ate the same meals and nothing happened to him. Edwin might hate him for not having any abilities - You're fucking useless to me! But at least that was one good thing.
Robby…Dean can't believe the kid was stupid enough to tell Sam about his powers. After Dean had ordered him not to. Sam's probably told the rest of 'em back there. Didn't they learn anything from Kubrick and Walker?
Dean's pissed off with the pair of them. Or at least…he was. Now he's just pissed off with himself. He fucked up, showed John and Sam what a messed up fucking freak he was. His job now was to be a big brother, Dad told him that ages ago, his job was to look after Sam and instead he'd…he'd hurt him - bad. And he's just left Robby… He should've just stayed as Edwin's bait, at least he knew what he was doing then.
No… Dean grinds his teeth together, his jaw clenched in quiet determination. He'll show them he can be more. He'll do something to prove that he's a good hunter, a good fighter. Something that will make Dad forget about this fuck up. It'll have to be something big, something really impressive…and Dean thinks he knows just what that something is.
"So if someone touches you, they die…unless they're already dying and then you can save them?"
Lily sighs as Robby stares at her, his head cocked to one side as though he's trying to puzzle her out. The guy's sat on the sofa, Mom putting him there with strict instructions to "stay right there where I can see ya. And don't even think about moving."
"Yeah. That's it." Lily sighs and rolls her eyes, bored already. "Look I don't get it either. It sucks, that's all you need to know." Lily hates her power, hates talking about it. Hates the way it scares people, the way they move that fraction further away and think she won't notice. Hates the way people stand just out of touching distance…just in case. She gets it, obviously, who wouldn't be scared of a girl who kills people by touching them? But she doesn't get why everyone has to make it so obvious. And why she has to have this power.
"It's a good thing someone like you got that power, huh?" Robby still won't look at her and that's a shame because it means he can't see how pissed off she is by that stupid comment that goes against everything she was just thinking.
"What's that supposed to mean?" she demands, watching Robby flinch. "You think it's good that I can't hug my Mom ever again? You think it's good that I have stay in here in this house by myself all the time because people are hunting me? You think that's a good thing?"
"No!" Robby's shaking his head, looking panicked all of a sudden. "No I…I didn't mean that! I meant…well I just meant that, some people, if they had that power, they'd go around killing everyone, like to get what they wanted. You know? But you don't do that. So…it's a good thing for the rest of us that someone nice got that power and not one of the other kids."
And Lily has to admit, he does kind of have a point. There's been times she's thought about it. Even said to Mom to let the people hunting them come, that she could just kill them and they could live free.
But Mom had told her, "It don't come easy…killing a man. I've seen it change people, I don't want you to change like that. If you kill one, more will come, and they'll have even more reason to want you dead baby, because you'll be a murderer in their eyes. And once you've took one life…maybe it won't seem such a big deal to take another, a dozen more…I won't let you become that, Honey."
"Not so great for me though, is it?" Lily knows she's sulking, she can hear it in her voice, feeling it in her puffed up shoulders and pouting lips but she doesn't care.
"But…no one can hit you. Anyone tried to beat on you, they'd just die, right?" Robby asks and Lily frowns for a second wondering what kind of weirdo what think up something like that. Only someone who was used to get beat up…
"Did they beat on you, Rob?" she asks, shifting her gaze into Robby's eye line, forcing that eye contact again and she knows. She doesn't even need to Robby react to know the truth. He's been beaten up and so much worse… And, for some reason it's breaking her heart.
They break at the same time, Lily cursing herself for acting so soppy and stupid over a stranger. Not just any stranger but a stranger who just tried to break into her house! Robby just gives a half-shrug, staring at the ground and mumbling his reply. "It don't matter."
But it does matter, because that could have been her, Lily realises. She'd always wondered if Mom was being paranoid. If all these stories about these kidnappers who stole babies could be true. But it is, Mom had been right all along, she could have been the one who ended up sat on a couch, starved and scared of everything.
Lily startles when Robby stands up suddenly, a sharp change considering he's been following Mom's instructions to the letter and has barely moved an inch while he's been on the couch.
"I-I should go to Mr John's now. I don't…"
"You should sit back down boy is what you should do." While Lily's tense and upset, knowing she's upset Robby by asking that stupid question, Mom is her no-nonsense self.
"Miss Missouri I-"
"Look, I know you've had a rough day of it. And now you're spooked because Lily's asking ya about stuff you don't like talking about."
Lily blushes, feeling the heat rise up in her cheeks and she scowls "Mom!"
"It's true," Mom replies calmly. "Trust me, me and Scrap are starting to figure each other out a little bit aren't we? But you can't just keep running away from it."
Robby just shrugs again, clearly uncomfortable and Lily can't help but smile a touch…it's kinda cute.
"I'm sorry for asking stuff like that," Lily explains. "I didn't mean to freak you out."
"S'okay," Scarp mumbles, still staring at the floor. "I just…"
"You don't like talking about it?" Lily finishes and Scrap nods.
"Well, that's all you gotta say," Mom explains. "No one's gonna get mad at you, no-one's gonna hurt you, you just say 'I don't want to talk about it', and then we won't ask ya any more."
Lily kinda gets how Robby feels. Mom's tried to explain stuff to her like that before. She doesn't get to see other people much and Mom does her best to try and explain social stuff to her but it's hard just hearing about stuff. It's hard to imagine how people would react and half the time it feels pointless anyway. Maybe she'll be trapped in this house forever and she'll never get to go out and meet other people in camp… Except, now there's someone else. Now there's Robby. Lily watches as the guy sits back down and catches the nutrition bar Mom throws at him. He is thin, but he's got broad shoulders. His hair is blonde, like hers, but most of it hidden under a cap. He's got a strong jawline, and…those eyes. Lily just wants to look at them all day. She wonders how old he is. Whether he's got a Mom and Dad. Or…a girlfriend?
And then, that familiar little voice is back. What does it matter if he's got a girlfriend or not? Why would anyone want you? A girlfriend they can't touch. A girlfriend who can't go out of the house. Stop being stupid.
And yet…when she looks over at Robby again, this time he's looking back at her.
Robby looks away when Lily notices him staring. He knows he shouldn't but…he hasn't seen many girls before. Not like Lily anyway. Not young, and nice, and…pretty. He feels kinda sick and he knows it's not from the food.
"You know, they're gonna call you back to Security soon?" Miss Missouri asks him and Robby shrugs. He didn't know that. Doesn't even really get why they had to go there in the first place.
Miss Missouri nods and speaks again "You know, what these people did to you and Dean was so wrong, Scrap. So against The Code. Security, the 'cops', they need to find these people and confine them. Find the rest of the people they have prisoner."
Robby shifts on his seat, feeling weirdly guilty. "I want them to!" He doesn't mean for his voice to come out as loud as it does. "I want them to save everyone, I want them to stop the guys that used to…to hurt us. But…" Robby stops, the words stuck in his throat.
"But what?" Lily asks and Robby wants to answer because he wants to talk to Lily. He doesn't want her to think he's some kind of freak who can't talk to people. But at the same time…he doesn't want to say what he's going to have to say.
"But they can't. No-one can."
"What do you mean, no-one can?" Lily keeps asking questions and Robby hates it because now Lily and Miss Missouri will know what he's done and they'll hate him. They'll tell Mister John and Sam and they'll tell Dean. And once Dean knows…Dean will probably kill him.
"They just…They can't, alright?! People have tried before and they can't do it." Robby can feel his eyes stinging, his bottom lip quivering as his jagged fingernails dig into the palms of his clenched fists.
"Scrap, how do you know they can't? This is real important now boy, I need you to focus and tell me."
Miss Missouri won't give up, Robby realises. No matter what she said about not having to talk about things he didn't want to, this is different. Different because it's about Dean. And all they ever want to know is about Dean. What happened to Dean? They love Dean, they'd all pick Dean over him any day. And Robby's okay with that. He's used to people not giving a damn about him. But if he tells them this…Robby swipes angrily at his tears and can't help but shake his head as he speaks.
"You'll hate me once I tell you. Dean will kill me. And if he don't then Mr Winchester will. Or Sam." Robby glances to Lily, feeling the resentment burning in his chest. "Or you'll touch me and do it for them." He doesn't know why he feels so angry at Lily. It's his own stupid fault for getting his hopes up. For thinking that a nice, normal, pretty girl like Lily Moseley might want to be his friend. How could anyone be his friend when he's done what he's done.
"I won't do that!" Lily gasps, looking hurt and Robby just looks at the ground and shrugs.
"Be quicker than Mr. Winchester ripping me apart."
"Rob, I'm sure it can't be all that bad," Miss Missouri speaks calmly and Robby shakes his head again. They don't know anything. "Just tell us what you mean."
Robby's voice is hollow as he speaks, staring at the ground. "They used to come, sometimes undercover, pretending to be Edwin's men. Sometimes they'd break in, find the entrances underground and sneak in but…they always got caught, they always got found."
"Who?" Robby hears Lily ask and the tears tickle his face as they roll down his cheek.
"The people who came to save Dean."
"You saw them? You saw people come to save Dean?" Missouri sounds shocked about this and Robby's heart sinks even further. They really don't know.
"Edwin used to tell us. He'd work it out and then…"
"And what?" Lily asks and Robby just chokes, the words feeling like razors, slicing up his throat as he whispers his reply with dread.
"And then he'd make us kill them."
There's a silence following his words and Robby can hear his own heart beating as he sits tense and still as a rock. He half expected to drop dead at the end of the sentence, like Miss Missouri would shoot some kind of death ray into his head or something. Stupid. He'll probably have a horrible, slow death once Dean and the rest of the Winchesters get their hands on him. Robby can feel himself shaking, feel his skin shivering as Lily and Miss Missouri stare into him. Lily probably hates him now, probably thinks he's some kind of psycho killer or something – but he's not. He's not!
"I didn't want to!" he blurts out. "Please, I…I didn't want to kill anyone. I didn't even want to hurt them. I hated it, I hated it but Edwin made me. Please I…" Robby trails off, his breaths trembling as he hunches small in his seat. He feels like he's back with Edwin or Walker, begging and pleading and knowing that he's still going to get beat. "…Please believe me." But Robby knows no-one ever does.
"You said 'us'," Missouri speaks slowly, carefully, and Robby can't tell what she's feeling. If he could use his powers and read her aura maybe he'd know but he doesn't want to use his power and piss people off even more. "Who else?"
"The other kids. Ansem, Ava, Jake…all of us. He said it was…good practice for using our powers. 'Cept…I can't use my powers to kill people so I just had to…do it myself."
Robby's mind flashes with memories or blood and screams, a knife in his hand, Edwin's hand on his shoulder 'that's my boy'.
"How many?" Missouri asks and Robby flicks through all the memories. When he was a child, it had been all the time. He must have killed more than ten before he was ten years old. There'd been more when he was young, is that because there were more people coming to save Dean? Or because eventually he just learned to get it done. Don't cry, don't scream, don't beg, just do it. Make it quick. Learnt the lessons he figures Edwin wanted him to learn. How to kill. How to obey any order.
Robby realises he hasn't replied to Miss Missouri and he just shrugs. "I lost count."
"John don't know anything about this…" Missouri sighs and Robby feels sick.
"…They used to take Ansem to the surface and, if he thought anyone was getting close to figuring something out he'd make Ansem wipe their memoires…that's one of his powers. He probably did that to John too…I don't know." Robby shrugs. "Ansem didn't talk to me much. They kept him separate."
"If I didn't kill them, Edwin would hurt Dean. Bad. Real bad and make me watch. And then he wouldn't let me heal him. Then he'd beat me. And then he'd just kill the guy anyway, slow, and make me watch that too."
Robby fumbles in his back pocket, running his fingertips over his cap, knowing every rip, every stain, every stray thread before he feels them. "I wanted them to rescue Dean. All the time, I used to hope someone would win, that someone would be tough enough, smart enough to beat Edwin. I wanted Dean to be safe but…if I didn't kill them, Edwin would hurt…they'd die anyway and…I wanted to do the right thing and I know it's bad but…" Scrap doesn't even know what he's trying to say any more and he flinches when Miss Missouri stands up and comes close.
"There's a phrase for that, Scrap," the older lady says and Robby freezes as she wraps her arms around him. "It's called, a 'no-win situation'."
"But…" Robby shakes his head as much as he can, trapped in the woman's hug. "Dean will hate me, I stopped him from being saved."
"You just said Edwin would kill them anyway," Lily finally speaks and she…she's on his side? She doesn't think he's a crazy psycho. "You stopped him from being hurt more."
Missouri pulls away. "Lily's right. You did what you had to do, Honey."
And that's exactly what he's always tried to tell himself. But he spent so many years, when he was a kid, hearing Dean talk about his Daddy. Those first few months where Dean had him convinced that Mr Winchester was gonna come and save them both. And in a way, he'd tried, people had come. And Robby had sat there, listened to Dean cry, broken-hearted that his Dad hadn't come to save him. Watched him grow to hate the man and start to believe Edwin's lies. And all along he'd known that people were coming to save Dean, that someone, up there wanted to save him. And he'd said nothing. He'd figured Dean wouldn't want to know that people were dying for him. That there was no hope whatsoever of rescue because Edwin knew everything. Robby had kept his dirty little secret to himself, laid awake for weeks after each…murder - even now it hurts just thinking that word. After each…time…he'd lie there, staring hollowly at the ceiling, or at the blood all over his hands and ignore Dean completely. And Dean, for all his questions, never knew a thing. Kubrick would torture him for weeks after that, call him a demon, tell him 'thou shalt not kill' and that it was just more proof of the devil in him. He'd rant and rave that he was killing good, honest hunters and Robby, too haunted by the trauma of what he'd had to do couldn't even disagree.
"You did a lot to look after that boy," Missouri sighs, stroking his hair and Robby shrugs.
"You did the best you could to look after him," Missouri insists. "Now it's time to let someone else do it for bit, huh?"
Robby just closes his eyes, concentrating on the movement of the hand ruffling his hair and wishing it was Lily's.