Chapter 106: Bobby Time
Ducking Kitty was proving to be impossible. Logan had warned him that his apology "tweren't enough". He apologized, said she was right, and that wasn't enough. He would never understand girls.
Dean actually taught the demons class today and about time too. Every class Mister Winchester had been covering had made plans to revolt. Bobby had kinda been looking forward to Mister Summers' reaction and to see if that would bring Dean back. Fortunately things turned out fine without a full scale student revolt.
When the bell rang to dismiss them for lunch Dean waved at him to stay behind. Shouldering his backpack, he walked over to wait by the desk. Sometimes, before Miss Libby was hurt, Dean would invite him to sit at the teachers' table which meant skipping ahead in the lunch line. That was always cool.
"Did I hear someone mention a walkout?" Dean asked. The few other students left in the room rushed out the door leaving him and Dean alone. Cowards.
"Your dad isn't real popular," Bobby replied, figuring that said it all.
Dean shrugged. "Maybe now they'll take some of the stories about when I was a kid seriously."
Bobby returned the shrug. "Maybe. Since you're back, does that mean Miss Libby is better?"
"And asking about you." Dean shot him a strong look. "You're eating lunch with us today. That Julie chick promised to bring her on time if I could guarantee you would be there."
He swallowed hard. Though Logan had forced him to visit Miss Libby in the clinic and he had seen for himself that she was recovering, he had not been able to go back on his own. It was too hard. Clearly Dean intended to force the issue.
"What's wrong with you, anyway?" Dean asked. Standing, he leaned back against the desk with his arms crossed over his chest. "You're so scared I'd think that yellow-eyed bastard had visited you again."
"Green," Bobby reminded him. "That bastard had green eyes and he's still out there." Plenty of reason to be scared, Bobby silently assured himself.
"Oh. Right." Dean scratched at the back of his neck. "Guess I forgot about that one. Huh." He stared at Bobby for a moment. "He doesn't come into your dreams, does he?"
Bobby shook his head. Since the ambush none of his nightmares had involved yellow eyes, or green ones for that matter. Fire was still the theme but now it was fiery car doors squishing people he cared about. Last night he must have dreamed about his mom being squished three times before he gave up and woke Steve. They had played cards until it was time to dress for school.
"Good." Dean stood upright. "You are coming to lunch and I don't care how you feel about it. Libby wants to see you. She's convinced that you're hurt and I can't talk her out of it." He jerked his chin at the door. "Move it."
With a deep sigh of dread, Bobby moved it. He headed out into the hall which was nearly deserted, all of the kids crowded into the huge line at the cafeteria. At least if he was with a teacher they should be able to skip ahead. To his surprise they bypassed the lunch line to head straight for the table. He was not even allowed to eat?
"Logan should have our trays at the table," Dean assured him, one hand falling heavily on his shoulder making escape impossible.
As they pressed through the mass of student bodies Bobby saw Miss Libby. She was in a wheelchair but that looked like it was the only thing wrong with her. She was smiling and talking to Miss Julie, her hair down, the red reading glasses hanging around her neck. Miss Libby had always worn the kind of dresses his grandma liked with the big flower prints and really loose. This was not a grandma dress. It was a rich purple, solid color not a print, hugging her body in all the right places, and for the first time Bobby saw that Miss Libby was kind of hot. For an older lady. Okay, that was another really good reason for Dean to date her. Wow. Between that and her awesome-mom personality Dean had been doomed.
"We're here!" Dean announced brightly, his hand clamped uncomfortably tight on Bobby's shoulder.
Miss Libby turned to look at them and her mouth spread into a wide bright grin while both arms opened. He assumed it was meant for Dean.
"Bobby!" she shouted loud enough for the next two tables to hear. Bobby could swear he felt heads swivel around to watch him as the Librarian waved him into her embrace.
Awkwardly he leaned down to hug her in the chair and then she stood up, her chair rolling back about a foot, to pull him in closer. He was not sure if he should feel shocked or relieved, shocked that she wanted to hug him like this or relieved that she could stand on her own.
"Lib," Dean chided from behind him, "you promised Sam and Hank you'd stay in that chair."
"Oh, it's Bobby," Libby replied with clear disdain for doctor's orders, her arms tightening around him. When her crushing embrace loosened, Miss Libby leaned back to take a good look at him. "Oh, I wish you weren't so busy with your training so you could visit more."
Confused, Bobby glanced back at Dean whose face had gone hard.
"Combat," Dean replied, his eyes demanding that Bobby play along. "And using your ice in unexpected situations."
That sounded like some good training. Where was it?
"Yeah," Bobby said instead, trying to avoid her gaze. "They're keeping me pretty busy."
"Come on." She tugged at his arm until he sat beside her. Dean pushed her wheelchair under her and up to the table. Miss Libby grinned, reaching over impulsively to give his arm a squeeze while Dean sat on his other side.
"Is it me," asked an all too familiar girl's voice, "or does food taste better at the teacher's table?"
His gaze jumped from the tray in front of him to meet Kitty's unwavering eyes directly across the table. Damn it. What the hell was she doing here? Dean didn't mention this would be a freaking ambush. The last one didn't turn out too well either.
"All of my favorite people in one place," Miss Libby was saying, sounding entirely too pleased about the whole thing.
"Run off and I will chase your ass down," Dean whispered into Bobby's ear, words hotter than his breath.
"Dean?" Miss Libby's voice had Dean snapping upright to listen attentively. "I asked if we could have a movie night soon? Maybe in the rec room? Popcorn, pizza, and a monster movie?"
"Sure, baby," he replied smoothly. "I'll take care of it."
"Good." She turned to Miss Julie. "You too, of course. We'll start with Logan's favorite. Is that the giant ant one?" Now she was asking the table in general. This led to a discussion of monster movies and who liked what.
Bobby tried to focus on eating but his appetite was gone. He spent more time pushing his food around than eating it. It was the mention of his name that brought him back to the conversation at the table.
"What?" His head snapped up and tried to figure out what he had missed.
Miss Libby smiled her warm 'mom' smile at him. For a brief moment Bobby felt like that smile was meant for him alone.
"I asked if you would walk me back to the library. I need to take care of one or two things before I'm done for the day," she replied.
"Libby," Dean warned, drawing out her name in a slow growl.
"Then I'll go back to my room," she told him, scrunching her nose at Dean and appearing so comical Bobby found himself chuckling at her.
"Skip class if you have to," Dean insisted, grabbing Bobby by the arm, his eyes boring holes through Bobby's skull. "But you make sure she doesn't spend more than fifteen minutes back at the library."
"Dean!" Miss Libby protested, which Dean pretended not to hear.
"All right? I'll tell your afternoon teachers what you're doing," Dean insisted. His eyes reflected desperation and being on the verge of panic. And was that a promise of no more class today if he went with Miss Libby?
"I'll make sure," Bobby promised. "I'll walk her all the way back to the teacher's wing."
Dean shot her a smug glance past Bobby and Miss Libby rolled her eyes. After making Miss Libby eat most of what was on her tray, Dean let them leave.
Bobby walked beside her electric wheelchair and wondered if it was Professor X's spare. Or maybe his old one. Instead of heading straight for the library she pulled up beside a park bench along the walk. He hesitated, unsure what she was up to. After a few glances at the bench from Miss Libby he figured out she wanted him to sit. So he sat.
"I don't really need to do anything at the library," she told him. Then a sneaky grin broke over her face. "But don't tell Dean. It's my excuse to escape for a few hours a day and feel useful. Julie is perfectly capable of running the place."
"When she isn't crying her eyes out," Bobby pointed out. He had found it insulting that the library had been closed in her absence. Wouldn't a better tribute have been longer hours and showing more dedication?
"Was she?" Miss Libby seemed pleased by his observation. "Julie is a good friend."
Then she went all serious and he had a bad feeling. This was starting to feel like whenever his mother said, 'Bobby, we need to talk.' Those never went anywhere good.
"Bobby, I know there are no special combat classes for you. Yet. There will be but I think Scott and Logan are still working out the specifics. Something about needing equipment that won't break when it's frozen." One hand waved the excuse away.
"I have spoken with Jess about you. Extensively." Her eyes locked with his. "You're still not sleeping well, are you?"
Swallowing hard over the transparency of an issue he worked hard to cover, Bobby shook his head.
"Nightmares?" she demanded. This time he nodded.
When Miss Libby spoke again her voice was soft, gentle, caring. "I really hope they're not about your mother being squished by flaming car doors."
Tears sprang to his eyes and all the air rushed out of his lungs. How could she know?
"Oh dear," she muttered. After clearing her throat she continued in a stronger voice, one of an adult with authority over him, "Bobby, you are not going to participate in Steve's group therapy for a while. Instead you are to see Doctor McCoy during that time. It's already been arranged, Jess and I figured there was a lot more going on with you and Hank agrees.
"Don't worry about your deep dark secrets being exposed. Doctor McCoy isn't like that. Believe me, if he were Dean would not see him. As a matter of fact, if he were like that Dean probably would have shot him long before now and would be living off the grid because every mutant in this school would be hunting him down."
He must have given her a funny look when she said this because she chuckled at him.
"I've had a lot of time to stare at the walls and think."
She held out her hand palm up. Bobby hesitated before placing his over hers. He hand was caught up in a vice-like grip.
"Bobby, thank you. I can't imagine any greater compliment than being told I'm a good mom." Her smile was as warm as her voice and he felt his insides relax a little. "And just like your mom, I expect a hug whenever I see you. Is that all right? Or too embarrassing? I have been told that teenage boys don't hug."
"We hug." He had to force the words out and at the same time he knew this was exactly how he wanted things to be. Miss Libby played mom to every kid who woke up with nightmares. Now he could honestly say he had a home mom and a school mom. Knowing she would allow it between classes and during library visits was fantastic. Before she was hurt she had been real strict in the library. It had almost been like she had a separate night-time personality, which was now all the time.
He was rewarded with another awkward sitting hug from her but the knowledge that this was temporary clung to the back of his mind.
"Now since you seem to have a free afternoon," Miss Libby paused and a strange light came into her eyes. They did not glow like a demon or anything but he had never noticed this sparkle in them before. "Why don't you show me the finer points of air hockey?"
Kitty waited outside the door to Bobby Drake's room knowing how touchy he was about her walking in unannounced. Steve had the door open and had invited her in but she refused, not without Bobby's permission.
His bizarre behavior since the accident, blaming himself and then yelling at her for disagreeing with him, had been the topic of several of her talks with Miss Jess. He remained sullen and silent during group therapy and even with Miss Jess' encouragement she refused to bring up his uncharacteristic behavior while he was present. Kitty doubted she could handle another blow-out with Bobby.
She was determined not to completely lose his friendship. That whole "good mom" comment from their visit to the clinic kept repeating in her head. Kitty knew it was the key but for the life of her could not figure out why. Maybe she should have mentioned it to Miss Jess too but every time she tried to bring it up she felt guilty, almost as if she were betraying his trust in her.
And Bobby yelling and screaming at her was not a betrayal? All of the adults kept saying the teen years were the most confusing, guess this was what they meant.
So she waited right here where he could not ignore her any more. He would have to walk right over her to reach his room.
"We could play cards," Steve offered. With Bobby not participating in group she and Steve had grown closer. He would speak with her one-on-one now even without Bobby present.
Kitty sighed and picked some stray lint from her pants. "No, I don't want to look like we're having a good time."
"No chance of that," Steve muttered, taking out his homework. "If you're just going to sit there I'm going to work on that English essay."
Kitty shrugged, eyes pinned to the hall leading here. "Don't do it on an imaginary pet again. It was obvious you made the whole thing up. Pick something real."
"Like what?" Steve demanded, his voice hard.
Kitty glanced over, surprised by the strength she heard in it. Normally Steve, when he bothered to speak, sounded pretty wimpy.
"What's your assignment this time?" Kitty asked, trying hard not to be annoyed by his tone. Miss Jess had been warning them Steve had a lot of repressed anger that he needed to release.
"Describe your room at home," he read off in a sarcastic tone. "The only real room I ever had was that abandoned theater, until I was kicked out of it for a week and nearly starved to death."
"Write about that," Kitty suggested, returning her attention to the hall. "It's honest, real, and I'm sure your description will make everyone feel like they're really there."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
Kitty shrugged without turning around. "There's a reason they've doubled up on your assignments in English."
"Yeah, they're trying to bring me up to grade level," Steve replied though the hardness in his tone was gone. This time he sounded confused.
"Uh-huh. And that's why you're in a math class that isn't doubling up?" She shook her head, boys could be so stupid sometimes. "It's because you are really good at writing and they've increased your pace to give you a challenge."
"What would you know?" Steve scoffed. She heard papers rustling from the direction of the small student desk beside his bed.
"I know what I hear when I listen in on the teachers when they discuss their lesson plans," she replied, not feeling the least ashamed of it. How else could she warn everybody when there would be a pop quiz? "There's a reason all the subjects seem to complement each other, the teachers plan it that way. I think it was Mister Summers' idea."
"Figures." Bobby's voice came from the other direction, the hall to the teachers' wing. Kitty's head snapped up causing a twinge in her neck which she ignored. There was a flash of the anger she had seen so much of lately, then it was gone. "What do you want?"
"You missed the homework assignments," Kitty offered, her mind racing for a legit reason to be here. "I know you like to do your homework early so I thought I'd drop by and tell you what they are."
His eyebrows pulled together and his lips curved down as his gaze darted from her, into the room, then back. "Yeah, okay," he said at long last. "Give me a minute to find a pencil."
She swung her legs out of the doorway so she was no longer blocking it and Bobby walked in. After placing his backpack down he rummaged inside it for a pencil and his trusty homework folder which was showing serious signs of wear. Bobby flipped to a fresh page.
She related homework for the classes he had missed and he wrote them all down, only speaking to ask for clarifications. When she finished and had no reason to stay any longer, Kitty blurted out the first non-school topic that popped into her head.
"Any idea when movie night will be?"
"Nope." Bobby stared at her for an uncomfortable moment before asking, "Do you want to catch me up on what I missed in history? It would save me some reading."
Relieved did not come close to how she felt. Kitty stood and waited on the other side of the threshold until a wave from Bobby invited her inside. Finally. It felt like years had passed since she had been welcome here.