Invisible
By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: I don't even own the lyrics. *sniffles* Oh, Bobby, the fun I would let you and Alex have; protocol be damned...alas...oh, yeah, and a partial quote from Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The episode of Modern Marvels mentioned actually did air on the History Channel. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it. It reran eventually. ::glee:: Mail Call comes on, as well, usually after Modern Marvels, from what I've seen.

Summary: "You're too late, Nick," he said, frowning in resentment of having to deal with everything alone. But, then again, he should be used to it by now. "The funeral's over."

Rating: FRM for mild swearing and mentions of child abuse.

Inspiration: Bayside's self-titled album, particularly, 'Desire and Devotion,' and 'Tortures of the Damned.' What little of Bobby's backstory we currently have. The backstory for Carl Rudolph Stargher, of all people. Yes, VDO did phenomenally in The Cell, I think. Also, a video we watched in my Human Growth and Development class on gender typing, specifically boy gender typing.

Spoilers: Year Three's episode, 'Mad Hops,' particularly the scene in the coach's apartment. The regulars know what I'm talking about. The episode, 'Gemini,' from the same season.

Dedications: To nine28, who made me a Gun Toting!Bobby header for my LJ simply because I asked her to. *gushes* To The X-Pig, who disappeared for a month, then suddenly reappeared. I think she's been channeling Mulder. Not good. To jenncho, who bitched about John Mayer with me while I wrote this.

Notes: I have no clue why I'm only uploading this now, but I hope you still enjoy it. Originally written for a Lyric Wheel at Amorous Intent a few years ago.

***

Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

***

He curled up, his back to the blows rained upon him, folding in on himself to escape the stinging the lashes left on him. He didn't know what he did wrong. Didn't know what he'd said...all that mattered was the pain engulfing him. Down the hall, he heard Mom crying, running toward his father, begging him to stop.

"He hasn't done anything wrong, Seth! Stop it! Stop!" Then it was over, his father pulled back by his mother. Then he heard the big man yelling.

"He should know better, Frances," his father roared. "I won't tolerate my son playing with any girly bullshit in my house, or anywhere else!"

They weren't girly, he wanted to say, but his throat—clogged with tears—wouldn't unstick. He couldn't talk, he was crying so hard.

"And stop that fucking crying, Robert, or I'll—"

"No!" Mom was yelling. "I won't let you! They're not dolls, Seth! I bought them for him—"

"You bought him dolls—"

"I just said they're not dolls, Seth, they're action figures. Boy toys! Action figures are for boys!"

Girls can like action figures, too, he wanted to say. But he couldn't say anything. Couldn't move. He heard his father buckling his belt back, feeling the burn the buckle had left on his skin. He wanted to scream. He squeezed his eyes shut and saw, in slow motion, the pieces of his toys hitting the floor as his father snapped their legs and arms off. His arms hurt, inside, and he shook uncontrollably. He couldn't.

Then, he felt himself being lifted into a sitting position by his mother's comforting arms. Felt her lift his shirt to check his back. Heard her sob at the mess his father made of his back with the belt. He hadn't even wasted time removing the buckle. "That bastard," he heard her whisper, a choked sob in her throat. And he hated his father, for making his mother cry.

***

I know that I'm a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

***

He stood staring at the headstone, wondering if it was the weather making it seem duller than the surrounding ones or, simply, the occupant of the grave. Ferdie and the rest of his father's 'friends' and acquaintances had left, finally leaving him alone. His brother hadn't shown; not that he'd expected Nick to show up. He probably found some card game that was just too good to pass up. He was on a roll, couldn't lose, all that bullshit.

Bobby froze and realized he was scowling. Carefully, he arranged his face into something resembling grief—which wasn't a lie. He did feel some kind of loss. An empty hole inside that he'd forgotten was there, it had gaped open in his soul for so long. It had been crumbling around the edges these last few hours, getting bigger, the carcasses of memories he'd rather not have festering, rotting.

His legs felt shaky, like they'd not support his weight much longer. There was a tree behind him. The grass was still wet from that morning's rain. His father's plain pine coffin, now hidden from view by the dirt piled on top of it by some of his father's friends, was in the ground. Absently he wondered where his father's soul had gone. The Catholic part of him, the side he'd been more...adherent to...whispered snatches about Hell or, at the very least, Purgatory. But the Jewish side said it wasn't quite sure. His father hadn't practiced, after all. Not like his mother, who loved her Catholic faith and her Savior. His father hadn't outwardly worshipped anything other than race tracks, alcohol, and other women.

The Catholic side was certain he was in Hell. The Jewish side was a bit more flexible about it, but still seemed to be doubtful.

He walked toward the tree, took his coat off, and lay it on the ground, unsure that this was proper funerary behavior, but unwilling to stand any longer. Sitting down, he breathed deeply, closing his eyes and apologizing to God in the event that he was breaking some Holy law. Besides, he reasoned, he was supposed to sit Shiva for his father, wasn't he? His

father, who he had hated and who had abandoned him.

***

I wasn't there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn't get to tell him
All the things I had to say

***

The headstone across from him was written in Hebrew. He wondered what had gone through his father's mind when he was ordering it. Sethula Dan Goren, it said, along with words of comfort. For who, Bobby wondered. Certainly not him. His father had never said a comforting word to him in his entire life. Though maybe he thought it would be a good laugh to turn soft after death. Bobby scowled again, folding his arms. He looked upward at the droplets of water clinging to the leaves of the oak behind him. The sun was weak in the sky, offering no real protection from the breeze. Fitting, he supposed.

"Bobby," a voice said behind him and Bobby froze. What…

Bobby stood and brushed the nonexistent dirt from his pants, straightening to face his brother.

"You're too late, Nick," he said, frowning in resentment of having to deal with everything alone. But, then again, he should be used to it by now. "The funeral's over."

His brother hadn't even followed the Judaic funerary dress laws, or any laws given the fact that he looked as though he'd been wearing the same clothes for two days. Bobby sighed and scowled a third time. What was he doing here?

"I didn't want to say anything," Nick said, and Bobby frowned deeply.

"So why come at all? You aren't even dressed."

"I needed to talk to you—"

"I'm not bailing you out, Nick," Bobby cut him off, careful to keep his voice level. He couldn't believe his brother would sink so low as to come to their father's funeral for the sole purpose of asking him to lend him whatever obscene amount he owed this time. "If that's what you're here for, you can just leave."

"Jesus, Bobby," Nicholas bit out, running a hand through his unkempt hair. "I'm not that much of a bastard—I know you find that hard to believe—"

"We're in a cemetery, in case you hadn't noticed. A Jewish cemetery, moreover."

"Your point being?"

Bobby clenched his fists for a moment before turning and beginning to walk to the car he'd rented for the day.

"Wait, no, Bobby—Bobby, kid, come back. I just wanted to talk to you."

Bobby stopped, not turning around to face his older brother. "I thought you might be...I don't know—upset or something."

Bobby scoffed, "Here to tell me to stop crying, to get over it? To act like a man? Thanks but no thanks. I don't need a lecture from you on acting like a man."

"Hey, I was just trying to help!"

"To help. That's what you were doing—you were helping me." Bobby turned back around, his eyes darkening with anger.

"Yeah, and if you're too much of an ingrate to—"

"I'd shut up if I were you. If I had my piece I would shoot you."

"You'd shoot me, your own brother?" Nick honestly looked hurt. That's too bad, Bobby thought.

"You gonna charge me with assault, Mr. I've Got Six Priors? You have never helped me," Bobby said, his hands clenched, his fingernails cutting into his palms. "You're about as much help as a—a hole in the head."

Out of nowhere, it occurs to Bobby that he's read Salinger a few too many times. Shaking the fleeting thought away, he focuses on the way his brother bristles before him, trying to justify leaving him alone and flunking out of college on top of that.

"I—I tried..." Nick protested, dragging his hand through his hair again. "I just...I was away—"

"Yeah, and look what happened with that."

"Hey, not all of us are Oxford material!"

"Yes, you were. If you'd…" Bobby trailed off, shaking his head and turning away, beginning to walk again. "Forget it. I-I don't want to fight. I don't know why you came, but I'm leaving."

"I told you why!"

Bobby snorted, scooped up his coat, and kept walking.

***

You say you just don't see it
He says it's perfect sense
You just can't get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defence

***

That night, Alex called, apologizing again for not being able to come to the funeral. He told her, again, that it was fine, all the while glad she hadn't been there to meet Nicholas. She insisted she was coming over tomorrow night with a peach cobbler her aunt made just for him. He was glad she couldn't see him blushing over the phone.

"Th-thank you, Alex, but really that's not—"

"Did you ask us to?"

"N-no, but—"

"Then hush and be spoiled."

Bobby sighed, leaning back and focusing on what the History Channel was showing, an episode of Modern Marvels on different types of junk foods. "Hey, Alex, turn on the History Channel."

"…Why?"

"There's a documentary on the origins of all kinds of junk foods—like chocolate—hey, did you know that potato chips were invented because a customer in a diner complained that her French fries were too thick?"

Alex laughed and, instantly, he felt miles better.

"Okay, fine, I'll watch the History Channel," Alex conceded, sighing in a long-suffering way. "But you owe me an episode of American Idol."

"Oh. Never mind, then," he said quickly and she laughed.

"No way, Goren, I'm watching the History Channel! You will watch American Idol!"

"But Alex," he whined, sniffling for effect.

"Don't 'but Alex' me. Watch the damned show; it won't kill you."

"I think it might. I'm getting a stomach ache just thinking about it."

"Shut up."

Bobby sat back and they watched Modern Marvels in silence for a while.

"Deakins wanted me to tell you we have the day off tomorrow."

"Day off?" Bobby complained, moaning piteously.

"I know, I know, it must be torture for you. Something about mandatory compassionate leave."

"Compassionate leave isn't mandatory," Bobby objected.

"He's making it mandatory in your case. If you went any longer without a day off, they were going to give him a citation for breaking the labor laws."

"Ha ha, Alex. I don't want a day off."

"No shit, Sherlock. Come on, you can come to my sister's house with me. My nieces and nephews miss you."

Bobby got up and went to the kitchen for a shot of whiskey. "They've met me exactly once."

"And they've been begging me to bring you back over for the last three weeks. At the very least, put me out of their misery."

Bobby sighed, "All right, Alex. For you."

"Yay!" Alex cheered with childlike enthusiasm so that Bobby chuckled. "Now. Get lots of sleep because we have an early day tomorrow."

"But we're not going to work."

"Yeah, but I made the mistake of promising my niece that I'd show her how to make German chocolate cake. She says mine's better than her mother's."

"And you're going to drag me into your sisterly quarrel?"

"...Did you just say 'quarrel?'"

"Yes. You're dragging me into this."

"I told her your cooking far surpassed mine. Now she wants to try it."

"You're evil, Alex."

"You know me, always under your skin."

Bobby smiled, sighed, and sat back down on his couch. You have no idea.

"So..." Bobby froze, knowing what was coming. He had been hoping she wouldn't ask. "Did everything go…well…today?"

***

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

***

Bobby sighed and took a sip of his shot. If he wasn't careful he would require a refill and being hungover around children was a bad, bad thing.

"That bad, huh?" Alex said softly, her sympathy bleeding through the telephone into his ear.

"I...my brother was there. Afterward. H-he came too late." Then, figuring he might as well tell her the whole story, he took another sip of Jack Daniels, relishing the burn as the amber liquid slid down his throat. He thought for a moment that perhaps vodka would have been better—less of a chance for a hangover the next morning—but decided, what the hell?

"He said he wanted to talk to me. He was wearing clothes that he'd had on for at least a couple of days."

He thought he could hear Alex cringing. "Was he…drunk?"

"No, no, he was sober. Disheveled, but sober. He kept trying to talk to me, said he wanted to make sure I was okay. We...I don't know if I would call it an argument. I didn't want to talk to him but he kept insisting."

Alex snorted and he could tell she'd rolled her eyes. He heard her murmur something along the lines of 'Amadán,' and other Irish words that he, try as he might, couldn't begin to pronounce.

In a more audible voice, she told him, "I'm sorry, Bobby."

"For what? You didn't do anything wrong—you've..." He trailed off, cursing himself for opening his fat mouth.

"I've what?" Alex asked, calmly and patiently waiting for him to gather his nerve.

Bobby sighed, shutting his eyes. "You've made life worth living."

Theatrical, much? His overworked brain told him. He wished it would shut up, along with his mutinous vocal chords.

"You...you've wanted to..." Alex trailed off and he understood what she meant.

"No, no. Alex, God, no. I just meant—well, you know, there's a difference between living and just…existing. I couldn't live before. I do now. You help me."

A large part of him wished he had never started this conversation. He glanced at the television. Modern Marvels had ended. Now Mail Call was on.

"I mean…you make me feel better when I'm upset." God, why wouldn't his mouth just close?

"I'm glad, Bobby," she said and he heard her soft smile over the phone. "Get some rest. And I mean real rest. I don't mean lying in bed until three in the morning, reading."

Bobby flinched. Damn.

He sighed once more. "Goodnight, Alex,"

"Goodnight, my Little Prince."

"Your what?" He was smiling again.

"Jesus, Bobby, don't you read?"

He laughed, making a face even though she couldn't see it.

"Goodnight, Alex," he repeated and she reiterated the same.

They each hung up and Bobby stood still for a moment, just...he didn't know...feeling the air around him. The warmth of his apartment. The warmth of his best friend. The week wasn't going to be a total loss, he knew. He wasn't lonely anymore. And, for that, he was more thankful than anyone knew. Going into his bedroom, he stripped down to his boxers and got into bed. For once, he slept soundly.

***

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

***

FINIS