Robbie Shapiro can't say that he was not loved as a child. Quite the opposite is true.
He was the youngest of five children, and there was a huge age gap between his three sisters and himself. It was almost like having four mothers, and his younger self loved it.
Everyone paid attention to him; when he cried, he was never alone for long.
Robbie loves hearing about his early childhood from his parents and sisters.
How when he had just turned one, he cut his chin open from climbing up on a chair- but that didn't stop him from ever climbing again.
How he loved to watch Beaker from the Muppets online (maybe that's where his affinity for Rex comes from).
How he beamed with pride and said "I did it!" whenever he flicked a light switch.
Of course, his sisters weren't there 24/7 (he heard the word homework come out of their mouths a lot, but he never quite understood what it meant), and he missed them when he didn't see them. More than once, his family tells him, he would invade their rooms and demand their attention.
And because they loved him, they gave it to him, if only for a short while.
Robbie wishes everything could be that simple again.
Robbie is only three years old when his oldest sister goes away to college. He is convinced he'll lose her forever, even though she swears up and down that she'll be back at Thanksgiving.
He cries when she and her parents leave, and only his parents come back.
Robbie's never told anyone, but that was one of the defining moments of his life.
When Robbie Shapiro is eight years old, he is given Rex as a gag gift for his birthday. He amazes everyone by performing a ventriloquist act five minutes after he opened his present.
Everyone oohs and aahs and asks his parents if he had ever done anything like that before.
Of course the answer is no, but they'll now be checking into lessons for their son- clearly, he has a unique gift.
Later that night, Robbie decides that he'll only be close to Rex, because he knows that Rex will never leave him.
He doesn't want heartbreak like the ones he experienced when all three of his sisters went away to college.
Robbie does, in fact, take lessons where he sharpens his skills as a ventriloquist. However, they only last for a year because he has surpassed his teacher's knowledge of puppetry.
"Only Jeff Dunham could teach you more now, kid" his teacher says as he lights up a cigarette. "You'll go far someday".
Robbie holds onto those words for the rest of his life, hoping and wishing that they'll come true.
When Robbie is thirteen, he gets a letter in the mail from a school called Hollywood Arts. He reads the letter aloud excitedly; this is his chance to be different.
Dear Mr. Shapiro,
You have been invited to audition for admission to Hollywood Arts.
This is quite an honor, as Hollywood Arts produces the entertainers of the future.
Please call the number listed below to schedule an audition time and to talk with an admissions counselor.
The Admissions Office at Hollywood Arts
The letter is only three sentences long, but it changes his life forever.
Robbie goes and auditions on one of the most nerve-wracking days of his life.
The judges all nod, comment that he did a good job, and say that he will be notified of his admissions status in three weeks.
Three weeks come and go, and Robbie gets the happiest news of his life.
He got in.
On Robbie's first day at Hollywood Arts, he meets a bubbling redhead who says her name is Cat Valentine. He's never met anyone like her before, and so he can't help but drop his jaw when he meets her.
She rambles for about five minutes before asking his name, and he stutters when he answers. Then a couple come strolling hand in hand up behind Cat, and introduce themselves as Jade West and Beck Oliver, respectively.
Robbie goes over to his undecorated locker, and sees a black boy with dreads standing nearby. He introduces himself, and the boy just says "I'm André. So, you new here too?" Robbie just nods.
And that's how Robbie Shapiro got a circle of friends for the first time in his life.
By all means, they should not be friends; all of them are far too different. Somehow, though, they understand each other, and unite against Jade's stalker occasionally as well.
Robbie's freshman and sophomore years go by in a flurry, but they were a blast.
He remembers forming a "ping-pong" team just so they could go to a fancy restaurant and save the principal's job.
He remembers being too nervous in his sophomore year to ask Cat to the prom, and remembers comforting her when no one asked her.
In May of their sophomore year, Tori Vega performs in the Big Showcase in lieu of her talentless sister Trina. She immediately gets admitted to Hollywood Arts, and Robbie is a little jealous.
After all, she didn't have to work for years to get into the school. However, Robbie swallows his envy and extends the hand of friendship to her.
He never looks back.
In the winter of their junior year, Robbie feels his heart stop beating, if only for a few hours.
Rex gets caught in a wind machine thanks to Tori Vega's inattention to detail. Robbie's hurt because Rex isn't supposed to leave him like his sisters and brother now have!
He knows that everyone considers him to be a freak because of Rex, but he also knows that they just can't understand.
When Rex turns out ok, even though he really didn't have to go to the hospital, Robbie's heart stops beating again.
And, just for a minute, he lets himself be with Rex and nobody else.
The rest of high school is a blur of performing at children's parties and college applications and finally asking Cat Valentine out (she says yes).
When they graduate, Robbie only knows one thing for certain: he wouldn't have traded the past four years of his life for anything.
And he gets to look forward to the next four years as well, because he and his friends made the decision to all go to Julliard together.
Later that night, at Tori's graduation party, Robbie remembers finding Cat and asking her where she thought their lives were heading.
And by their, he meant hers and his as a couple. Cat just smiled at him and said that she hopes they'll be together forever.
Robbie's glad he has Cat. Sure, their relationship isn't like Beck&Jade's (and Jade now has a sparkling diamond on her finger, for crying out loud), or Tori&André's, but it's theirs.
Robbie only has to look at his girl to know that he's made a good decision.
Someday, there will be a time for marriage and a family. But for tonight, Robbie's going to enjoy being a teenager and will dance with his girlfriend. And for once, nobody's going to leave him
Yes, Robbie Shapiro can say that he is finally happy with the way his life is going.
A/N: Well...I liked it. The idea just popped into my head this morning (kudos to my little brother) and I had to write it. Poor Robbie doesn't get enough attention anyway.
I was thinking about doing more character-centric shots like this, but I'll only know if you liked this if you review. ;)