Bad days were bad. Very bad, bad. Topher didn't like bad days. And this one was bad.
He huddled himself in the corner of his pod and rocked. Rocked back and forth just a little tiny bit.
It made the bad a little better. Like a tiny child, he grasped his blanket and pulled it close. That helped too. Anything to make the bad, bad, bad go away.
He grabbed a random toy from the ledge and immersed himself in it. Just a silly toy. Topher liked silly toys, though. He had lots of them, lots. But they didn't make the bad go away. Not all the way. He wanted it to go away completely.
There were two people who could make the bad go away. Only two, only two. No one else could. But only one was real. Just one.
He wondered were Adelle was. She could make the bad go away. With one wave of her hand it'd disappear and everything would be good again. Topher liked good.
She was probably busy. She was a busy lady, very busy. The end of the world was serious business, after all. But he was worried, oh so very worried. If Ms. Dewitt didn't show up soon, Topher was afraid someone else would come to make the bad go away.
"No, no, no, no," He said, " Go away, away, away," He ordered, holding his legs to his chest and resting his head on his knees. Topher kept on rocking back and forth, trying to block out everything and just think of nothing. He wanted nothing. He wanted for everything to just stop, for there to be silence. There were too many thoughts in his head. Too many things he couldn't comprehend, too many dots he just couldn't connect.
"Stop, stop, I'm not here right now, not here," He said, covering his head with the blanket and keeping his eyes shut tight. Topher sat there, still rocking, still trying to make the bad go away on his own, but he couldn't and it was frustrating.
"I'm here," A voice said from in front of him. It was clearly feminine and very familiar. It was a very lovely voice. Very lovely and beautiful, "Look up at me, please."
Timidly, Topher uncovered his head and lifted it in the direction of the voice but he didn't open his eyes.
"Open your eyes, Topher, look at me, please," She said softly, gently. He shook his head furiously.
"I don't want to," He was being stubborn.
"Please? You want to see me, I know it," She whispered. Slowly, he opened his eyes. And then he smiled.
"Bennett Halverson," He said wistfully, his eyes glittering, "What are you doing here?" She was sitting on the edge of the pod, her legs dangling inside.
"Fixing you…because you need fixing," She said.
"You don't have to do that for me," Topher said with a little laugh, "I don't think you can."
"Of course I can, I'm a genius, you know," Bennett replied.
"Twice the genius I am," Topher mumbled. He paused, "Am I still a genius?"
"I think you are," Bennett said, pushing herself down into the pod. She crawled the best she could over to him, settling beside him.
"I'm….I'm not so sure anymore," Topher murmured, relaxing a little and resting his head on her shoulder. She cradled him with her arm, stroking his hair over and over to comfort him.
"You don't have to be," She said.
"I'm not sure of anything anymore…am I? I don't know, I don't know," Topher cried into her.
"Shh, shh, I'm here, you don't have to know, you don't have to think, you don't have to do anything," Bennett kissed his temple. He pulled away from her so he could look into her eyes. For a few seconds he only stared at her with nothing but adoration in his eyes.
She kissed him.
"You promised if we saved the world! World's not saved, not saved!" He backed away from her like a frightened animal. She moved in on him and pressed her lips to his again.
"I know, " Bennett whispered, caressing his cheek with her thumb, " But this is what you need."
He let her kiss him that time and he even reciprocated the action.
"Topher? Topher, sweetheart," Adelle's voice flooded the room, "How are you today?" She asked, kneeling down beside the pod.
Topher slowly turned to see her. They were alone now.
"The bad is gone, its good now," He said with a big smile.
"That's good, darling," Adelle said with a sigh of relief, "I'm sorry I didn't come earlier…"
"It's fine, it's fine, things are good now. She made them better," Topher explained.
"Who?" Adelle asked. Topher laughed and grinned.
"You know," He said. Adelle sighed. She knew who he meant.
"Have you eaten today?" She asked. He nodded.
"I have! I remembered today, remembered…"
"Is there anything I can get you, dear?" Adelle asked. Topher rubbed his chin, deep in thought.
"My lectures, I'd like to watch them. They help, they help me think," He said. Adelle hated it when he wanted to watch those lectures. It required bringing him a small portable DVD player. Even underground like they were, Adelle still didn't trust any kind of tech anymore. But when he wanted to watch those old lectures Ms. Halverson had done what seemed so long ago, it was better not to argue with him. There was no doubt in her mind that even after all this time, he loved her. He really, truly loved her.
"I'll be right back, then," Adelle said, getting up.
"Hurry, hurry! She's waiting for me," Topher said. Adelle took one last look at him before she exited the room and headed upstairs towards the lab where she left the player. On her way, she passed Dr. Saunders.
"How is he today?" Claire asked.
"Hard to say. He's in a pleasant mood but he's still hallucinating. We may need to up his meds again," Adelle said.
"I'd rather not," Claire said, "We need to ration the supply, make it last as long as possible. What is he hallucinating?"
"Oh…I'm sorry," Claire said, quickly walking away. She knew it was partially her fault the only person Topher had ever learned to care for was dead. And she knew that Bennett's death had been the start of Topher's mental deterioration.
Adelle ignored the doctor and started to head up to the lab, step by step. It was a sad, depressing little journey.
She walked past the fridge. The first chess board that was covered in dust, and the wac-a-mole game. And there on the desk was the DVD player and the three discs in their cases. Adelle gathered them all up in her arms and then hurried back down to deliver them to Topher.
His face lit up when she entered the room again.
"You have them?" He asked with childish excitement.
"I do," Adelle said, Topher reached for her and the player.
"Wonderful, wonderful," He said as she handed the player and the discs to him. He took them with enthusiasm and then curled up in his pod with the player. He popped the first disc in and let it load.
"Welcome to lecture one in a three part series entitled Neuroplasticity in Relation to Cortical Imprinting," Bennett said on the disc. Topher's face just glowed as he watched her.
"She's so beautiful…" He trailed off.
Adelle had to leave. It was too heartbreaking.
So uhm. Yeah. I've been on this Topher/Bennett kick lately. Sorry this is so depressing...But meh. I KNOW YOU WERE ALL THINKING IT THE SECOND YOU SAW SUMMER'S NAME IN THE OPENING CREDITS OF EPITAPH TWO! SO HA!
...No, I haven't forgotten about certain other stories that involve a cranky princess and her favorite peasant! I'll get to that. Eventually. Promise!