He sometimes closed his eyes and imagined a girl's fingers on his skin, running over his shoulders and sometimes down his back, something he'd never felt before but something so simple that he wanted desperately. Every casual hug and embrace that sparsely got thrown his way, he held on to, and tried to keep the feeling of two people's arms simultaneously wrapped around each other in his brain, because it came not nearly enough and was over far too quickly.
An only child, a lonely child, he'd given up on trying to fit in and just focused on surviving. The hardest part was when he would have something to say, but the thought just wouldn't put itself into words, and by then the conversation had moved on. Or maybe it was when a girl would have the decency to remember he was there and look over at him, but no matter what, his head would jerk away like it was scared of eye contact. Overwhelming awkwardness just wasn't something he could control.
Robbie thought Tori Vega seemed different. She'd known him for a day and she hadn't made fun of him yet. Robbie, foolishly, still held on to some hope. He didn't know anything about her other than she was pretty and hadn't said anything unkind about his voice, appearance, personality, or talking puppet. For him, it was enough to fall in love. Tori still hadn't quite learned his name.
The closest thing Robbie had to an actual living best friend was Andre, who usually sat near Robbie at lunch and sometimes asked him if he saw the new episode of whatever show last night. Andre was an all around sociable person. He would just say whatever was on his mind, a skill Robbie met with envy. So Robbie wasn't really surprised when they were walking down the hall together and Andre said,
"Y'know, Tori's really pretty."
Of course Robbie knew, and of course Andre would like the same person as him, and of course that's how it always was. He was used to it. That was just how it went.
But it usually didn't happen that Beck would kiss the girl in front of the whole class on her second day.
That time, Robbie was a little shocked. Andre wasn't really a problem. Robbie didn't really have any chance anyway, so Andre going after his girl didn't really make that big of a difference. Maybe Tori wasn't really into the Andre type anyway. It was possible. But Beck? He didn't fill a type; he was every girl's perfect match. Robbie felt any hope he might have had left drain completely from him. But he wasn't crushed. He was just back to where he was, lonely, clinging to those fringes of happiness.
Caffeine made him vibrate.
He usually avoided it, but sometimes, it was nice. And right now, he needed it. Because Robbie loved her. He was more in love with Tori than he ever had been with anyone else. She was perfect and he just so wasn't. It killed him, but that's the way it was. He sat alone in his room and took another gulp of espresso.
"What's up, Chica?" Andre would yell to Tori in the hallway. She laughed and wrapped her arms around him to say hello, and the two were immediately immersed in conversation. Sometimes when Jade wasn't around, Beck would run up behind Tori and put his hands over her eyes, whispering Guess who? in her ear. He'd spin her around and Beck and Tori would have their own "conversation" by the lockers. It began to look more like an excuse for Beck to put his hands on Tori's waist, and maybe slip them a little and then a little bit more up her shirt. She closed her eyes, obviously enjoying it. What Robbie would never understand was why Beck just threw Tori's love for him away.
One day she sat down next to Robbie at lunch. And he couldn't believe it. He didn't know what he was supposed to do. He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to wrap his arm around her and rub his hand down her thigh and really just kiss her right there. But he knew that probably wasn't something she'd be okay with. The logical step would be conversation, although a step Robbie wasn't capable of. He just didn't know how to do it. For thirty minutes he sat next to Tori Vega in silence.
She already knew that he loved her, and did her best to avoid the situation. After coming to Hollywood Arts, it seemed like every boy was after Tori, so why would she settle for a nerd? Intelligence wasn't the quality she held highest in a boy. Beauty and talent and a lack of social awkwardness was what she was looking for, and she had the whole school to choose from. But she was too nice to just let Robbie know. It wasn't stringing him along, was it?
In his mind, they were in love. She would smile at him and Robbie would imagine what their wedding would be like. It was a long shot, he knew, but possible. And if not, it was just another heartbreak. The feeling that Robbie had learned to know so well. It was the way he felt every time he logged on to The Slap, seeing pictures of everyone's weekends out, the weekends he spent alone in his room. He was used to it by now. It was just another heartbreak.
And so Robbie stared at the television in his bedroom, eyes fixated but not really hearing the noise. Broken. Sad. Hurt. Nothing new. There was nothing he could do to stop it, so he just let the pain wash over him. If he was lucky, someday it might leave. Or else it be hovering over him endlessly, an inconvenience he was used to, but dreaded all the same. He lied down on his back, staring at the ceiling. He knew it wasn't going to go anywhere. He knew it was over before it even had a chance to start. He knew it was going to end in heartbreak, it was inevitable. He just wished it was a little farther down the line, not now. But no matter what happened, he knew this would be the way it ended anyway. Robbie sat there, alone, just back to where he was.