Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in ReBoot. The only claim I have on characters are ones that come into play in later chapters. I am making no money off of this, but am enjoying borrowing the characters for a short time.
Note: This story takes place immediately after S2 episode "Gigabyte." Songs are by artists Lynyrd Skynyrd, Seether and Amy Lee, and Howie Day, respectively.
Personal note: I ABHOR song fics, so the fact I wrote one completely mystifies me. I firmly believe it is impossible to successfully pull off putting a song into a fiction, but here I am, making a feeble attempt, because my muse told me to. The only way I think this will work is if you, the reader, play the song "Collide" acoustic version, by Howie Day, during the scene. Other than that, I think this is a rather cute scene between our heroes, and while I want to slap myself for doing a song fic, I like this one enough not to delete it. I hope you will like it as well, and that you, too, will ignore the fact that this is a song fic.
Bob was sitting in his apartment, looking out the window as the second began drawing to a close. He didn't see the shadows lengthening as his mind turned over and over. Gigabyte was defeated, Megabyte and Hexadecimal having been separated by Glitch and the transported tear. Mainframe was safe once again, and yet, Bob had a bad feeling.
What was that third portal? And worse, who, or what, was in it?
A lone thought entered his mind regarding Mouse's sudden appearance in Mainframe, an odd coincidence in Bob's mind, but his thoughts quickly diverted from her reasons for being in Mainframe to her timing in Mainframe. Right there in the cornered alleyway, a quick slash of her hand had spared the lives of Bob and Dot.
And just before Mouse's arrival, Bob had said something to Dot… well, had started to say something to Dot.
"Glitch, Takamine." Though he used many of the same commands every single second, this was one he had not shared with his friends. This command he only gave when he thought about Dot in the privacy of his home, ever since Enzo's birthday. Within nanoseconds, Glitch morphed himself into Bob's favorite instrument. The weight of the guitar was comforting, and he slowly strummed the strings into a mellow tune. He had no particular song in mind; he just played what came to him.
As he lost himself in the chords, he thought about that alley again. Would he have finished his sentence if Dot hadn't spoken? What exactly would he have said? 'You mean a lot to me.' That was an understatement. 'I care about you.' Just like friends are supposed to. 'I lo-'
A knock at the door cut short his music and his thoughts. "It's open," he called out, expecting Mouse to visit while she was in town. He was surprised when Dot walked into his living room.
"Hi," she greeted with a smile.
"Hey, Dot. What are you doing here?" He winced mentally at the way the question sounded.
"Oh, AndrAIa, Enzo, and Frisket are out at the park- thanks for helping us get that back, by the way- and I just thought I'd stop in, seeing I was in the area."
"Oh. Cool." Bob smiled slightly, noting that she seemed almost nervous, fidgeting in his living room. Then his manners kicked in, and he almost slapped himself for not saying anything sooner. He gestured to the couch, "You want a seat?"
Dot accepted his offer with a smile. As she made herself comfortable, she looked at his guitar. "I'm not interrupting, am I?"
"No," Bob assured her, moving to put Glitch away. "I was just passing the time."
"Wait! You don't have to stop playing because of me. You know, you played really well at Enzo's birthday party." She rolled her eyes. "Actually, to be fair, it was amazing."
"Ah, that was nothing," Bob dismissed the compliment with a wave of his hand, though he was thrilled by her praise. "Kid's stuff, really. But it didn't come anywhere close to your performance." He looked down at the guitar, focusing on anywhere but her. "You stole the show."
"Megabyte stole the show," Dot corrected, "I only started it."
"And what a start," Bob commented softly, his body tensing when he realized he said it out loud. He made a dramatic effort of ignoring his slip by tuning the guitar, and he desperately hoped he wasn't turning as red as he imagined.
Dot didn't say anything as she stared at something on the floor, a small smile on her lips she wasn't really trying to hide. "Will you play something?"
"What?" Bob asked, unsure if he heard her.
"I would like to hear you play something."
Bob laughed nervously. "I don't think you'd recognize anything I know."
"Try me," Dot smirked. When Bob hesitated again, she pressed on, "My dad and I used to play a game when I was little. He would whistle a tune, and I had to guess it. If I got three in a row, he would take me out for ice cream."
Bob's eyebrow raised. "How often did he get you ice cream?"
Bob laughed. "Why am I not surprised?" He looked at his guitar then back at her. "All right, how about a little wager? If you get three in a row, I buy. If you miss one, you buy. Deal?"
Dot shook his offered hand. "Bring it on," she challenged.
Bob took a breath, gathered his thoughts, and began strumming the chords. Within a nano, Dot scoffed.
"Oh, come on," she rolled her eyes at him. "What is Freebird?" she mocked.
Bob chuckled. "Ok, maybe that was too easy." He thought for a moment before beginning his second tune.
Dot sat quietly for a moment, her mind turning as she tried to place the song. She was struggling with it, and Bob thought she was going to lose, when she closed her eyes and tilted her head as if to listen better. "Wait, wait, I know this…" To Bob's surprise, and delight, she started to sing, "There's so much left to learn, and no one left to fight… I want to hold you high and steal your pain, cause I'm broken… Broken!" Dot shouted triumphantly. "Ha ha, you almost got me on that one."
Bob strummed some more chords softly. "I really thought I had you."
"And I am surprised at your choice of music," Dot teased lightly. "Bit of a hopeless romantic, are we?"
"Apparently no more than you," Bob countered.
"You just have a good taste in music, that's all." Dot turned her head up in mock defense. "Let's hear your last one, and you better make it count." She turned back to him with a wicked smile. "Though something tells me I'm going to be eating some free Rocky Road tonight."
Bob hid his smile, knowing she was right. He had barely gone a nano into the tune when she gasped then squealed like a young sprite. "Collide!" she yelled, laughing. "Oh, I love that song!"
Dot stilled for a moment, looking at him with wide eyes. "You do?"
"I've heard you hum it a few times," Bob answered simply, his body language nonchalant though he wouldn't meet her eyes.
It occurred to her that if he knew she knew the song then he had purposefully lost their wager. "Finish it."
Bob's eyes met hers. "Sorry?"
She gestured her head at the guitar. "Finish playing Collide," she requested.
The Guardian complied.
As the chords filled the room, Dot leaned back, closed her eyes, and let her soft alto voice dance with the tune. "The dawn is breaking… a light shining through… you're barely waking… and I'm tangled up in you… Yeah… Well, I'm open, you're closed… where I follow, you'll go… I worry I won't see your face… light up again… Even the best fall down sometimes… and even the wrong words seem to rhyme… and out of the doubt that fills your mind… I somehow find… you and I… collide…"
Bob watched Dot as she sang, finding himself soothed by the soft passion in her voice and comforted by the peaceful expression on her face as she lost herself in the quiet moment they shared.
"I'm quiet you know… you make a first impression… well, I've found I'm scared to know I'm always on your mind… Well, even the best fall down sometimes… and even the stars refuse to shine… and out of the back you fall in time… I somehow find… you and I… collide… Well, don't stop here… and I lost my place… and I'm close behind… I'm close behind… Well, even the best fall down sometimes…. and even the wrong words seem to rhyme… and out of the dull that fills your mind, yeah… you finally find that… you and I… collide… You finally find that… you and I… collide… you finally find you and I… you and I… well, I've… well, I've found you… Just you have to… I get lost sometimes, I know…"
Bob played the last chord and the room settled into silence. Dot was smiling brightly while leaning back into the couch, completely relaxed, her eyes still closed. "That was beautiful," she complimented quietly.
'Yes, you are,' Bob thought. Instead, he said, "You could go professional." Dot laughed at this, opening her eyes to give him a look of disbelief.
"Doubtful," she quipped then reached out a hand to slap at his arm. "You, however, could live quite comfortably if you ever decided to reformat. When did you learn to play that whole song?"
"Oh, uh, just, uh, when I had time, you know, no set schedule or anything," Bob stumbled, not quite ready to confess to having practiced it nightly when he learned she liked it.
"Thank you," she whispered.
Dot smiled. "For playing it for me."
Bob shrugged. "Forget about it."
He looked at her, his attention snared by the tone of her voice. She held his eyes, and he felt himself caught under her penetrating gaze. His mind flashed a picture of her arms around his back, his hands cradling her face as he pressed his mouth to hers, those red lips soft and sweet and his… "Dot, about today…"
Her brow furrowed slightly. "Yes?"
"I wanted to tell you…"
Dot stilled, her breath catching as she waited.
The Guardian barley had time to put his hands up before Enzo flew into his chest, knocking him from the couch and sending Glitch flying.
"Bob, it was so cool! AndrAIa and I were playing out at the park, and you'll never believe what happened-"
"Enzo!" Dot cut him off as she stood over the little sprite who looked up at her with puppy dog eyes. "What have I told you about tackling?"
"It's okay, Dot," Bob coughed as he shook his head. "I'm almost used to it by now."
"I'm sorry, Bob, but you gotta hear this! It was so cool-" Enzo gushed as he stood up and Bob moved off the floor.
"Enzo, Bob and I were talking and you rudely interrupted!" Dot scolded, her hands on her hips and her mouth set in a firm line.
Enzo seemed surprised by her reaction. "Oh, I'm sorry, Sis. What were you talking about?"
Dot's eyebrows shot up and she stumbled over her next words, unable to get a coherent phrase out.
"Ice cream!" Bob interjected loudly. "We were going for ice cream, my treat." He gestured to the door. "Why don't you tell us what happened there?" Bob suggested.
"Cool!" Enzo and AndrAIa cheered. "I'm gonna get a banana split! Wanna share it with my, AndrAIa?" Enzo offered, to which the game sprite nodded enthusiastically. The two young sprites chattered loudly while Dot gave Bob a look that said a thousand things if it said one.
"I know," Bob replied. The two adults smiled as they walked out of his apartment after the children. One was looking forward to finishing the conversation another second. The other was thinking they had all the time in the Net.
Neither thought about the third portal, Mouse's strange arrival, or the beauty of the city of Mainframe in the calm before the storm…
Thank you for taking the time to read this! I hope you enjoyed it, and if you were wondering what "Takamine" is, it is the guitar that Howie Day uses… apparently. I don't know if this is true, and if I'm wrong, I apologize. If you can think of a better acoustic guitar to use, please let me know in a review so I can make this story as believable as… well, as a fanfic can be.