Finding Bobby: Book of Monsters and Geniuses by planet p
Disclaimer I don't own the Pretender or any of its characters.
Author's Note AU. Prequel to 'Finding Bobby: Changeling'.
"Tell me about yourself Bobby." Sydney waited. "It is 1977," he said, after receiving no response, "How old are you? When is your birthday?"
"You are 16. Tell me about your friends."
"Who's Lupe, Bobby?"
"She's a girl."
"Can you tell me anything more about her?"
"I dunno. She might get mad. Nah… She's real smart. She was born in Mexico, but she doesn't live there anymore, well yeah. She can speak English, and Spanish. Lives in town. She has an older brother. He's in the navy, ships and stuff. She hates Math. Yeah, we're good friends."
Sydney nodded. "And Jim? Is Jim your friend too?"
"Jimmy? We used to be. I don't think so much anymore."
"Is this because of Lupe?"
"No." He laughed and shook his head.
"Bobby, is Lupe the reason you're not friends with Jim anymore?"
"Didn't I already say 'No'?"
"Bobby, I want you to tell me why you're not friends anymore. Why are Jim and you not friends?"
Lyle shook his head. "It'll sound stupid."
"No, Bobby, it won't."
Lyle crossed his arms. "His dad didn't want him being friends with a retard!"
"You're not a retard, Bobby. His dad was wrong in saying that."
Lyle snorted. "His dad is a doctor. I am right in saying that doctors are never wrong, Sydney? You're a doctor. Tell me. Are you ever wrong?"
Sydney frowned. "Yes, Bobby, I have been wrong."
"So, let me get this straight, so when you first meet a client and you say to them that you're a trained profession, do you add after that: 'But sometimes I get things wrong'?"
Lyle smiled. "No," he repeated.
"Bobby, do you think you're a retard."
Lyle scoffed. "Must be, mustn't I. It's down on paper." He listed them off on his right hand. "Attention problems stemming from suspected attention disorder. Reluctance to engage in social settings and situations. Sudden violent outbursts or withdrawal. Inability to keep still, bites fingernails, possibly able to be attributed to nervous condition. Fucked up!"
Sydney frowned. "Bobby, you are not fucked up. You're talking to me now, aren't you?"
Lyle dropped his head onto his shoulder. He put on a childish voice. "Please fix me, doctor. I'll be so happy if you do. World peace and all that shit!"
"Bobby, you have to calm down. Can you do that for me? Can you calm down?"
"Sure. Why not? Doctor."
"Bobby, you don't like doctors. Why is that?"
He shrugged. "I don't mind them."
"No, Bobby, you don't like them. They make you feel uncomfortable, angry even."
"No, there's a difference. I. Don't. Like. Fucking scum."
"So all doctors are fucking scum?"
"Oh yeah, for sure."
"Hold on. You're a doctor, right? Sydney?"
Sydney took a steadying breath. This wasn't exactly going the way he had planned. "Yes, I'm a doctor."
Lyle sat back in his chair. "Very cute. Very plush. But I don't negotiate with scum. Do you know what happens to scum, Sydney? Eradication. That's what happens to scum." He put on big eyes, nodding as though he were in fact conversing with a small child. "They die." He frowned. "So sad… Too bad!"
"Bobby, what was Jim going to do after high school?"
"And would that have made him scum too?"
"Sydney, do you seriously need to ask me that question. I don't think so. But yes – it would have!"
"Is that why you killed him? Bobby, did you kill him to stop him from becoming scum?"
Lyle laughed. "He was fucking my mother. He had to go. She made a promise when she got married, and he encouraged her to break that promise. That's a bad thing. Trust me! That is a very bad thing." He frowned. "My mother, fucking slut." He laughed. "Oh joy!"
"She's my mother! Just because he didn't have his own!"
"Bobby, did you love your mother?"
"Sure I did."
"And how did she feel when you killed Jim?"
"How the fuck should I know?"
"Did you kill her too?"
He laughed, put a hand over his mouth. "Nah."
"But she deserved to die, didn't she, Bobby? All women who are unfaithful deserve to die, all women who commit acts outside of marriage."
"Sydney, man, you need… to get… a therapist."
"It isn't their fault. Women are born with sin in their heart. It's our fault, Sydney, because we have to protect them from themselves, we have to keep them from the path of sin."
"So it's your fault, Bobby, that your mother and Jim were involved."
"I had to fix it. I made it better."
"For your father?"
"No. For my mother. She's a good person, it is only other people who make her a bad person, tempt her to evil."
"You made your mother a good person again?"
"Bobby… did Jim become no longer your friend when he tempted your mother to break her marriage vows and have an affair with another man? Or was it before, when he told you he couldn't be your friend any longer?"
"He had to go."
"Bobby, did you think that he might try the same thing with someone else? Did you think that he might make someone else evil?"
"You must love your mother, Bobby. Did your mother love you?"
"Sure she did."
"Was it worth it? To kill a person for her sake?"
"And what about jail, Bobby?"
"Bobby, did she love you enough to justify such a sacrifice?"
"I love my mom."
"Did she love you enough?"
"If she loved you, Bobby, would she have put you through that? If she loved you, why did she allow herself to be encouraged into temptation?"
"It's not her fault."
"So she's not responsible for her actions?"
"Go on, Bobby."
"If someone is inclined to do bad things, someone else should stop them from doing those bad things for their own good. If you love someone, you don't want them to do bad things, you don't want them to be evil. You would stop them."
"Bobby, you killed someone."
"Doesn't that make you evil? Nobody can save you from that."
"So you admit that you're a bad person, Bobby?"
"Yup. Got my ticket."
Sydney shrugged. "So you're damned anyway, what does it matter if you do it again."
"Do you like killing, Bobby? Did you like killing Jim? How did it make you feel? Was it good?"
Lyle bit his lip. "It was kind of weird."
"Weird but good?"
"Guess so, doctor."
"And – damn – if you're going anyway, why not go out doing something that makes you feel good?"
"Tell me about your father, Bobby."
"How did you get along?"
"Guess we weren't too bad."
Sydney thought before speaking. "He locked you in the shed."
"Because I was bad."
"You were bad?"
"If someone does a bad thing they might go to jail."
"What did you do that was bad, Bobby?"
"Oh, I have a mouth, if you know what I mean, for all the wrong things. I hit stuff, and I don't do what I'm supposed to."
"Do you want to stop?"
"Yes. It makes dad mad, makes him and mom look bad. Mom always gets a migraine. I want to be better. I do."
Sydney nodded. "I believe you, Bobby. Can you tell me about your parents? How is their relationship?"
"Good I guess."
"Your mom had an affair with another man, Bobby."
"Why did she do that?"
"Do I have to tell you again?" He sighed. "It was Jimmy's fault. I fixed that."
"But what about when she promised your father that she would not be unfaithful when they were married?"
Lyle rolled his eyes. "I fixed it."
"So your parents weren't having problems in their marriage? Your father didn't hit your mother?"
"So that she would behave the way good people were supposed to?"
"The way a good wife was supposed to?"
"And what did you think about your father hitting your mother, Bobby? Did it make you angry, Bobby? Did you want to stop him?"
Lyle shrugged. "It was for her own good."
"Do you think she could have defended herself if she had wanted to?"
"She could have?"
"But she is a woman."
"Could your mother, as a woman, have stopped your father hitting her?"
"You think so?"
"Then why didn't she? It hurts when someone hits you, doesn't it, Bobby?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"Why didn't you stop him? Did you want your mother to hurt?"
"But you didn't stop him?"
"That's between them."
"Bobby, you were aware of your father hitting your mother, the same as you were aware that your mother couldn't defend herself. Your father hit her and she didn't stop him because she couldn't."
"It was for her own good. She knew that."
"Did you know that, Bobby, when you're father hit you, when he locked you in the shed?"
"Did she ever tell you that she knew that the beatings your father gave her were for her own good?"
"Then how do you know? How do you know she didn't hate them and want them to stop? You wanted them to stop, didn't you, Bobby?"
"But why, if they were good for you? Why did you want them to stop, Bobby?"
"Because they damn hurt."
"But you knew they were for your own good."
"I wasn't strong."
"Was your mother strong?"
"I don't think she was, Bobby. I think she wanted them to stop, but I think you were too scared to tell your father to stop hitting your mother because then he might hit you."
"Is that what you think, is it?"
"That is what I think."
Lyle thought for a moment. "Yeah. And?"
"So it mattered, that he might hit you again?"
"Yeah. It hurt. Of course it mattered."
"You loved your mother, but you didn't stop him from hitting her."
"I didn't want him to hit me."
"You killed a person because you loved her. Or was there some other reason? How can you, Bobby, think that it is less wrong to kill a person because they are threatening the person you love, than to stop someone from beating that same person even if it means getting beaten yourself?"
"It wouldn't have made it stop."
"It would have made it stop hurting."
"He would have just done it again."
"And you had the choice of stopping him again, or taking her out of the situation altogether. Why did you never suggest she report the beating to someone? Why didn't you ever tell anyone how your father beat you?"
"He did it to make us better."
"Bobby, you are not going to start on that again. And I don't care what you say, I'm not going to have it!" Sydney fixed his expression. "Did you ever think that the reason she had an affair with Jim was because he actually cared about her, because he loved her?"
"Dad did care about her! I cared about her."
"Your dad beat her. You let him."
"I was scared. I'm allowed to be scared too."
"Yes, you're allowed to be scared, Bobby. Everybody is allowed to be scared."
"Was Jim allowed to be scared when you killed him?"
"I guess so."
"And he was scared, wasn't he?"
"That made you feel good, didn't it?"
"What makes you think, Bobby, that it was okay for you to make Jim scared when it was not okay for your dad to make you scared?"
"That's not what I said," Lyle said suddenly. "I didn't say that at all."
"But wouldn't he have stopped if he had been scared. Was it really necessary for you to kill him?"
"He wouldn't have stopped. Sure, for a time, but then he would forget about being scared, and then he would do it again."
"Are you saying your dad should have killed you, to make you stop, Bobby?"
"Then why did you kill Jim?"
"It's not the same."
"It is the same."
"What he did was worse than what I ever did."
"Was it, Bobby? Or were you just so mad and he was there? I think, Bobby, that all of that stuff before, that was just a convenient excuse to kill someone. I think that you so badly wanted to fight back, to show them that you could be strong, that you didn't care how. You didn't care that it was right or wrong. You had your excuse, and you blew it out of all proportion to fit your purpose."
"Sure, you're entitled to believe what you want."
Sydney smacked his fist down on the table. "Don't you ever say that when you don't believe it, Bobby! There's not one rule for you and one rule for everyone else!"
Sydney shook his head. "No."
"So I'm fucked up." He leant back and crossed his arms. "What are you going to do about it? You're not, because that's what you do. You talk big, but really, really, you're just chicken."
Sydney laughed. "No. I'm not chicken. I'm just fucking deluded. You happy now?"
Lyle shrugged. "I'll give you that, you're honest."
Sydney couldn't care less if Lyle approved of him or not, and the expression set on his face showed this. He couldn't care less.
"Be my friend, Sydney?"
Sydney offered no reply.
"Tell me about her, Bobby. Tell me about your mother."
Lyle laughed. "I know what you're trying to do. Yes, we were fucking, and, yes, I fucking hated Jimmy when I found out about him and mom. Did I answer your question?"
"You did, Bobby. You answered my question."
"She was a hairdresser, worked at a little shop in town." He smiled fondly. "She loved me, you know. In the best way she knew how."
"Did your father know?"
Lyle shrugged. "Might have, might have not."
"So they really didn't- There wasn't-"
"They didn't fuck, no. But he did love her. Don't think that he didn't."
"How did he love her, Bobby?"
"He might have hit her, but he never forced her, ever."
"Did he have someone else, Bobby?"
"No, there was no one else," Lyle said, rather more calmly that Sydney had expected.
"Because that would have been wrong?"
"Yes, that would have been wrong."
Sydney sighed, and then said, "Bobby, did you have a girlfriend?"
He smiled and it almost seemed real. "Lupe."
"Did Jim ever talk to Lupe? Tell her about what his father had told him?"
Lyle shrugged. "Could have done."
"Did that make you angry?"
"Jim was a jerk. Why should Lupe listen to a thing he had to say?"
"What do you mean, he was a jerk?"
"Oh, he was always chatting to other girls."
"Did Jim have a girlfriend, Bobby?"
"He went out with girls."
"Okay." He sighed. "Did you love Lupe?"
"You never chatted to other girls?"
Lyle snorted. "Lupe never got jealous."
"Did you ever hit her?"
Lyle watched Sydney for a moment. "Yeah. But not the way you think."
"How's that, Bobby?"
"It was just playful stuff."
"Like shoving, and pinching. She was always pinching me."
"Did Lupe love you back, Bobby?"
"And you loved her just as much as she loved you?"
"Bobby, what about Lupe? Do you miss her?"
"Come on. You loved her. Do you miss her?"
He sighed. "Miss her or miss what she did?"
"You tell me, Bobby."
"I do miss her. It's like that moment when you're thinking that you have nothing to think about and then you suddenly realise there's something that you haven't quite forgotten, but how could you, and then you hate yourself a little for forgetting or for remembering what you swore to yourself you had forgotten." He paused in thought. "She was a good friend. And I think she would miss me. No, I know she would miss me. But she wouldn't miss what I am now. She would try. She would try so hard. That's the person she is. But it isn't fair of me." He smiled. "I try not to miss her."
Sydney nodded. "Bobby, I want to ask you about someone else now, about another time, and you just say if you don't want me to call you Bobby."
"I want you to tell me about your wife."
"NO!" Lyle shouted, getting to his feet abruptly. The seat toppled backward. "YOU CAN'T ASK ME THAT!"
Sydney stood quickly. "I want you to be calm," he said. Two nurses had rushed in to restrain Lyle.
"No!" Lyle said hysterically. The nurses took hold of him.
Sydney moved around the table.
Lyle fixed Sydney with a serious look. "No!"
"It's okay for you to calm down now," Sydney told him.
"I want to be your friend, Lyle," Sydney said because he was talking to Lyle now and not some regressed memory.
"The things is, friends don't lie."
Lyle made no comment.
"I want you," Sydney said, "to tell me about your wife. Something small to begin with. Tell me something so that I would know her were I to meet her."
"She was beautiful."
"Here," Lyle told him, holding his closed hands over his chest. "She could never see that. I tried to tell her, but what words are there when you speak two completely different languages, all of your notions are not the same?"
"It can never be the same thing: to love someone, and for someone to love you and for you to understand that."
"It was different? She was different?"
He laughed. "She was human, but not from this planet."
"She was human because she died."
Lyle smiled, watching the space in front of him with eyes that did not want to watch. "Yes she did."
Parker killed the recording, retracted her finger from the button. She looked across to Sydney. What did he seriously expect her to say? To tell him if any of it had been the truth?
"I know I can't make you stop," she said, "but there is nothing you can do for him to make him… not that."
Sydney watched her and knew that she believed what she said. It had not been easy for her to say so.
"You could… try Angelo," she suggested.
Sydney took the elevator down to the old Commons, where Angelo might often be found.
"Angelo," he said, noting the younger man across the room. It was always best to announce one's presence in a non-threatening manner.
"Good evening, Sydney," Angelo replied. "Oh yes," he said, and laughed good-naturedly, "Angelo talks."
Angelo leant across and took Sydney's hand.
Sydney was alarmed for a moment. One might take another's hand for many reasons, and one of those reasons was as the bearer of bad news.
Angelo smiled a big happy smile.
Sydney frowned, wondering whether he was going to say anything.
"Oh how the children make us love them! And they are ever so good."
Sydney, not knowing what to say not to sound rude, said nothing.
"Proud, am I so." He stood, taking his hand from Sydney's. "Do have a marvellous evening."
Sydney nodded. "Yes."
"Be safe, Sydney." He waved and watched Sydney out. He sighed, and remarked to no one, but, perhaps, himself: "Sorrow, at the poor thing that does not know itself for those who know it."
Monsters soon, I promise. R&R, if you like.