Redemption

By Ryuu (karma_aster@yahoo.com)

Summary: Post NBotB. After the wedding and subsequent free-for-all, Bob ad Dot talk about their relationship which could definitely be considered to be on the "injured" list. Sappy, sappy, sappy…you've been warned!

Rating: PG for one not-nice word.

Disclaimer & Notes: First and foremost, you ever heard of this company called Mainframe Entertainment? Well, they're the ones who own ReBoot and its related characters, not me. I'm only telling you this to cover my own posterior. We all clear on the ownership? Cool.

Well, obviously, this one was written in the week between "Null-Bot of the Bride" and "Crouching Binome, Hidden Virus". I was still reeling from the shock and horror of what was happening to my favorite couple, and (as I am wont to do) I used writing as the outlet for my grief. Hey, it's a whole lot cheaper than a therapist and considerably more fun! It's sappy, and contains UpsetBob and WeepyDot. I think we all know how these go by now. Happy reading!

Feedback & Distribution: Comments, critiques, and/or requests to archive or re-post this fic should be sent to karma_aster@yahoo.com. Flames will be laughed at and deleted or printed out to line the rabbit cage. Thank you.

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Dot held her veil, stroking the silvery-white folds with trembling fingers. Her vision blurred, a tear breaking free and coursing slowly down her cheek. More tears followed the first.

"I was going to be happy," she whispered, " I was finally going to be happy." She lifted a hand and wiped her eyes. "Everything was p-perfect." She flung the veil away and slowly slid to the floor. "I probably deserve to be miserable," she murmured, bitterly, "I betrayed everyone. I betrayed him…" She closed her eyes, a pained gasp escaping her lips. "I don't have the right to be happy again."

At that, she began to weep in earnest, clamping her hands over her mouth and digging her elbows into her ribs to muffle the sounds of her sobs. Her mind repeated over and over, I'm sorry…Bob, I'm so sorry…

***

Mouse surveyed the chaos of the formerly happy wedding and gave a long slow whistle.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say a full-scale war took place in here," she said.

Bob, helping Enzo clear the pieces of a broken pew near the front of the hall, looked up at the comment. "In a way, one did." He shook his head, wearily adding, "And it's not over yet."

Enzo looked up the Guardian and grinned. "We've got you and Glitch on our side, Bob. Old Mega-breath doesn't stand a chance!"

Bob tousled the boy's hair affectionately. "Thanks, Enzo. Good to have you in my corner."

Matrix strode over and clapped Bob on the shoulder. "We all are. And Bob?"

"Yeah, Matrix?"

"I'm…well, I'm sorry for not believing in you before," the renegade said in a shamefaced rumble.

Bob shook his head. "Don't worry about it."

"But I should've known-"

"Megabyte was very persuasive," Bob interrupted. "He had me going too." He reached up and clasped Matrix's shoulder. "Hey, life's too short to keep punishing yourself over this. I'm not angry at you."

A slow smile crossed Matrix's face. "Thanks, Bob."

Phong rolled over to Mouse. "My child, do you know where Dot is?" he asked, trying to keep his voice low.

Bob heard anyway. "Dot?" he asked, looking at them with an unreadable expression across his face.

"She…she went to go change outta that gown," Mouse answered, "but that was a while ago. I'd best go check on her."

"I'll go," Bob said.

"Should I go with you?" Matrix asked.

"Alone," Bob replied, in a tone that allowed for no argument. He walked away stiffly.

The sprites watched him go, then turned back to each other.

"Bob wouldn't…" Mouse trailed off, unable to finish the thought.

Matrix shook his head empathetically. "Not Bob. Never Bob."

"Indeed." Phong steepled his fingers and stared contemplatively off in the direction that Bob had gone. "I think, perhaps, that he wishes to speak to Dot without others listening. And we owe him at least that much, my children."

Enzo, Mouse, and Matrix nodded agreement and returned to the cleanup.

***

Bob rapped firmly on the door. "Dot? Are you okay?"

"No," a muffled, shaking voice replied from within. "I'm not. Could you just go away?"

He frowned. "Dot, we need to talk."

"Please," she pleaded, "just go away."

"If that's really how you feel…" Bob turned, then came back and leaned against the door with a sigh. "Dot, I just want you to know…I may be angry right now, and hurt, but I still love you. No matter what happens, I'll always love you."

He stopped, listening intently for a moment. Silence.

Bob gave another heavy sigh. "All right. I'm going." He turned and started to walk away.

"Wait…"

He turned. "Dot?"

She stood in the open doorway, staring at her feet. "Can we talk?"

He nodded, his expression solemn. "Yes, please." He followed her into the room, shutting the door behind him.

They stood facing each other across the room.

"So…" Bob began, trailing off uncertainly.

"Um," Dot said. She twisted her hands together nervously.

They lapsed back into awkward silence.

Bob finally cleared his throat. "So, what do we do now?"

She shook her head, at last meeting his gaze. "I don't know," she said.

He moved closer, slightly fascinated by her swollen and reddened face and eyes. Dot? Crying over me? He'd never really seen her cry before, although he'd seen her very close to it on a few occasions.

"I meant what I said out there, you know," he said, his voice rough and pained. "I still love you. There's no way I could stop loving you."

"I love you too." She sniffled, then gave a sour laugh. "I know everything I've done so far would indicate otherwise, but I do."

He shook his head. "If you loved me, how could you do that? How could you just throw me over like that?" he demanded. She flinched away from the justified anger and hurt in his words. "Dot, what did I do wrong?"

She closed her eyes against the surge of pain and self-hatred that coursed through her. "You didn't do anything wrong, Bob. I was stupid." Her tone became increasingly bitter. "I…I don't know. I thought I was doing the right thing and I just wound up hurting everyone I care about," she said, half to herself, "I hurt you so much and I love you."

"Dot…" he breathed.

She turned away. "Is that you wanted to hear?" she snapped. "I'm a selfish, heartless idiot and I'm sorry! I don't deserve you and I hope you can find someone else to make you happy!" Her voice broke on the last word.

"Damnit, Dot!" He grabbed her shoulder and turned her back to face him. "Didn't you just listen to me? I love you! I don't want someone else!"

She just stared at up him for a moment, speechless at the anger filling his usually kind brown eyes. Then her face crumpled. He pulled her against him, feeling the shudders through her whole body as she sobbed against his shoulder.

He held her tight, beginning to cry himself. "Dot…when I saw you, after Megabyte had…after he…I could have ripped him apart with my bare hands."

She reached, wiping away with his tears with trembling fingers. "Bob, please don't cry. Not over me. I…I'm so sorry."

He gazed down at her, stroking her hair. "So am I."

"You don't have anything to apologize for," she said softly.

"I'm sorry that so much has happened to you. I'm sorry that you've been hurt." He took a shuddering breath. "I'm sorry I wasn't here to protect you. Dot, if I'd told you how I felt about you in the first place-"

"This wasn't your fault. It was all mine."

"No." He gazed intently into her eyes. "Dot, don't you dare put all the blame for this on yourself. Megabyte was very convincing."

"But it was my fault."

"Some of it was." He nodded. "But it wasn't all your fault." He ran a finger along one of her eyebrows, "And hey, stop thinking that you deserve to suffer for this. I don't believe that you deserve this kind of pain and neither do you."

Her eyes widened. "How did you know that I was-"

"I know you, Dot." He gave a small, sad smile. "You're always too hard on yourself."

"You don't think I should be?" she asked, incredulously. "I betrayed you!"

"And I know you're really sorry about it," Bob replied evenly. "And since I love you, I'm forgiving you."

"Thank you," she whispered.

He hugged her tightly. "We've both got a lot of healing to do, but I want this to work out. I don't want to lose you over this."

"Can it work out?" she asked, her eyes uncertain. " I don't want to lose you either, but how can you ever really trust me again?"

"I don't know," he answered, "but I want to try. You're worth it."

She reached out and took his hand in hers. "We will," she said fervently. "I want to be with you. I should have realized that a long time ago, but at least I know it now."

He kissed her forehead and released her, still keeping hold of her hand. "I'm glad." He gave her a slightly cheerier smile. "The others have got to be wondering where we went to."

She sighed. "Well, that cleanup isn't going to go away while we wait."

"Shall we?" He bowed gallantly over her hand, making her give a shaky laugh in reply.

"Let's."

The two sprites walked out of the room, still tightly clinging to the other's hand, their postures far more relaxed than they'd been when they entered. Maybe they didn't know what was going to happen next, but for now they were together. And for now…that was enough.