Chapter Four

"Tuck's Promise"

It was like old times again, the gang back together, Jenny smiling and giggling all the time instead of random bouts of starring off into space. Nora didn't mind letting her daughter have some time off if it meant she would be happy, truly happy for once and not just smiling to keep her from worry. Brad was glad that Sheldon was back, admitting that things just weren't the same without his wacky inventions, but he soon found out that his friend had evolved over the few years he had been gone- Sheldon was a prodigy after all and it reflected in his newfound craftsmanship. Tuck, he was the happiest of them all grinning from ear to ear all day at school, scribbling pictures of the Silver Shell in his notebook.

The school bell rang and Tuck ran at the head of the tween pack vacating the premises. Even though Brad had told him to go straight home after school, Sheldon had instructed him by a note in his locker to meet him at the park. So he met his long lost friend in the park where he had been instructed to, excited beyond reason because Tucker hadn't seen Sheldon yet.

Middleton Park after school hours often found itself an attraction, filled to the brim with teens and younger wandering about trying to find something to do due to lack of allowance- a good hang out spot. Tuck was convinced finding Sheldon wasn't going to prove to be that difficult because the Sheldon he remembered was pretty unordinary, sticking from crowds like a sore thumb- not that he saw him as anything less than a genius, but others had their opinions.

It was in fact a tree where he found Sheldon awaiting him; he leaned against the trunk cool and collected, waiting with solemn patience. Tuck noticed a kind of hardness to his friends face as he focused on adjusting something round his wrist- a new invention he guessed. But when Shell felt that familiar awareness that someone was watching him he peered up, cautious at first like he was expecting unfriendly company, but then he saw Tucker and his face softened.

For a moment his new face looked just like his old one.

"Shell!" Tucker dashed over to his friend, nearly toppling him over with a powerful hug; he held tight, fearing that perhaps Sheldon orchestrated this meeting to say his goodbyes once again. "You were gone longer than you said! You promised you were coming back"

Sheldon rested his hand on the top of the boys head and genuinely smiled; Tucker had grown a few feet, but he was as emotional and caring as ever. In his heart Sheldon couldn't help but have a soft spot for the little scamp, who at times was his only defender. Because he was naturally loyal Tucker was the only one trustworthy of keeping his promises among Sheldon's few resources. Even Nora, as much as Sheldon loved her could not be entrusted with everything.

Not that Tucker was told every little detail either, but he knew more than any sixth grader should about his secret identity and under wraps inventions- more than Nora. He had been entrusted with Sheldon's most loathed yet vital invention as its guardian, keeper of its origin and only knower of its location. Sheldon's trust in the seemingly overzealous youth had proven to be a wise move as tuck had held to his promises.

"Did I lie to you?" Sheldon whispered as he gripped Tuck by the shoulders and gently eased him away. "I have returned, unharmed as promised"

A strange look crossed Tuck's face, questioning the appearance of the person he was looking at. "Sheldon…you look different…"

"So do you", he joked lightly. "It's called growing up"

Sheldon stood upright and looked down at Tucker; he'd kept some of that roundness to his face. The boy in turn looked up at Sheldon and accused with his eyes the odd leap in alteration- the squared off features and increased height seeming…unnatural. Brushing his suspicions aside Tuck brought himself back around to simply being happy that his friend had returned. He felt somewhat shocked when Sheldon wrapped his arm around his shoulders and pulled him close, the almond shaped eyes of his friend narrowing slightly.

"Now that we've got introductions out of the way", he lightly flicked Tucker's button nose with his index finger as he smiled playfully. "…let's transition over to the business end of our meeting for a bit", he paused, waited for tucker to nod. "Good. Now, you brought the card key, correct?"

"Yeah, here", Tuck pulled the requested item out of his back pocket and handed it with a proud smile to Sheldon. "Just like I promised"

"Yes", Sheldon rustled Tuck's hair, his fingers running through the boy's thick black locks. "I knew I could trust you Tucker"

"Anytime", the boy promised with a naïve grin.

Sheldon eyed the plastic card in his hand; face hardening slightly as he realized that he had reached the next phase of his plan. Tuck quirked his head to the side as he watched Sheldon's eyes glaze over with a foreign kind of distance. He'd never known Sheldon to have a dark look about him, but as he stood there thinking about whatever he was thinking about Tuck couldn't help but wonder if he was scheming.

Sheldon felt Tuck's heavy gaze and turned to him. He smiled a pleasant smile and the boy felt more at ease as he returned the gesture. Reaching down Sheldon ruffled the boy's hair once more.

"I bet you ran the maintenance routine I asked for as well?" he inquired.

"Yup", Tucker felt nervous for some reason, partly because his brother was going to be upset that he didn't come home right after school and partly because Sheldon seemed so odd about the whole meeting. "He's just how you left him"

Tuck was shocked to find Sheldon frown despite the good news.

"Tsk. Tsk. Tsk." He scolded himself, shaking his head and tapping his lower lip. "That won't do very well will it? I'll need to upgrade him a little"

"I can help!" Tucker suggested with fervor.

"No", Sheldon's voice snapped somewhat harshly, but he softened at the hurt look on Tuck's face. "I mean, your brother is probably worried. Go home before he comes looking for you and we can hang out later"

"Well…okay…" he turned to leave, but Sheldon cleared his throat and caught his fleeting attention. "Yeah?"

"You got distracted on your way home by a stray dog", Sheldon instructed, smiling when Tucker nodded with understanding.

"Okay…" he hesitantly turned to leave.

Tucker didn't want to leave so soon but Sheldon seemed determined to be on his way alone that the boy felt he was imposing. He left Sheldon with a smile on his face, but questions were birthing in his brain. Why had Sheldon been gone so long and to where? How come he hadn't taken the Silver Shell with him? Worry crossed his face as he rounded the corner, Tuck slowed in pace and soon came to a stop. He looked back though he could not see Sheldon.

"Are you okay Shell?" he wondered aloud. "You seem troubled…"

A shadow hung over Sheldon's lowered face; he welcomed the darkness around him, eyes adverting from the glimmer reflected off the armored surface. This thing he had created, Sheldon loathed it with a passion. He had thought long and hard about a way to go about this however, and the Silver Shell was the only one to get through to Jenny. Once she realized they were one in the same she would have to accept that she loved Sheldon because she loved the Silver Shell.

But first there was still the little matter known through spite as Vexes. She would have to be dealt with before he could reveal himself. If he helped Jenny defeat her long time foe for good they would end the war between humans and robots forever. Jenny would love him for it and nothing would stand between the two of them being together. He had the looks she wanted, the brains she wanted and he would be the hero she wanted.

Everything would be perfect. His eyes drifted closed as he envisioned the victory, having Jenny at his arm and smiling. Everyone who ever laughed at him, called him names- called him crazy, they would be silenced. And best of all…

He would have Jenny.

((Author's Note))

Another chapter! Oh my! sorry for the lag, i've just been occupied with my other story over in the Freakazoid fandome "Glitch" and my webcomic Ego. But, I LOVE this story so please don't give up on me! I promise the updates will start coming more regularly.

Brace yourselves guys the next chapter is going to be longer and filled with action- plus, more Sheldon and Jenny interaction. Thank you for the support through the hiatus, but rejoice because it is officially over!