Hobbes awoke to a violent shaking. "Hobbes! Hobbes!" someone was whispering. "What? What?" the tiger mumbled, semi-conscious. "'s it morning a'ready?" "Hobbes!" "I don' wanna make early morning prank calls to Susie 'gain—I…What? Oh!"
Mac and Bloo were standing over him, staring at him intently. It seemed that dawn was just breaking. "Let's go, Hobbes," Bloo said impatiently. "If we leave now," Mac added, "we can catch the 6:15 bus." Hobbes stared at the two, not comprehending. "What?" "C'mon, do you wanna go on this intergalactic road trip or not?" Bloo said loudly. Mac shushed him and glanced anxiously at Never Leave Steve's bed. Steve stirred but didn't seem to wake.
Hobbes paused a moment and recalled what had happened last night. After he'd answered Bloo's overly personal question, there had been about half a minute's worth of awkward silence. But then, instead of the other Friends looking at their feet or out the window or at some arbitrary spot on the carpet, embarrassed, like Hobbes had thought they'd do, they all gathered around him, and patted his back or took his hands in theirs. They hadn't rejected his pathos; they'd accepted it. It had almost hurt to feel so cared for.
Suddenly, Mac had bolted upright into a seated position. "That's it! Hobbes! We should go find your creator!" The five had all but forgotten about him entirely and had jumped at the sound of his voice. Four had stared at the boy, dumbfounded. Bloo, on the other hand, had exclaimed, "Yes! We'll go on an international road trip, hitchhiking around the globe!" He'd jumped up and started scurrying around the room. He had then pulled all of his paddleballs out of a drawer and started dumping them in a duffle bag.
Wilt had started to say something a few times, but had kept stopping himself. He had clearly been terribly afraid of treading around all this heightened sensitivity and fragility his friends were giving off. It was like walking on broken glass for him. Finally, he'd managed, "Um…Mac? I'm sorry, but…I don't think that's such a good idea. No offense, but…you could get into really big trouble…I'm sorry. Is that okay?"
And after that, Mac had seemed to recognize the foolishness of his plan. His face had adopted a despondent expression as he'd said, "I guess you're right…But I can't go back to the apartment…" and then he'd mumbled something about his father. Bloo, of course, had continued packing. Wilt's eyes had filled with empathy as he'd said to Mac, "I'm sorry, Mac. You're welcome to stay the night, but your mom is a nice lady. You shouldn't be distressing her by going missing all of a sudden. I'm sorry. Is that okay?"
Mac had sighed and stared at his shoes, dejected. "Yeah," he'd said, "I guess you're right." Bloo had then gawped at Mac. "But Maaaac…" Mac had given Bloo a long look and Hobbes could have sworn—but, no, he was probably imagining it—that Mac winked at his Friend. Finally, the boy had just waved his hand, dismissing Bloo's protest.
Then, Hobbes had wandered off down the hall after carefully making sure that Frankie was no longer outside. The funny thing was, he'd been disappointed. As crazy as it was, he'd wanted to go on a foolish excursion. Hobbes had, at one point, considered himself to be a reasonable feline. But what could he say? The years had shorn down his rationality. Maybe it was all that time confined in the zoo. And he'd told the truth: there was nothing he'd at that moment than some closure.
As he'd made his way down the hall, he'd vaguely wondered about his friends' sleeping arrangements (Wilt would surely offer his bed under the bunk, but where would Wilt sleep? Maybe they'd let Mac sleep in Coco's nest and have Coco share with Eduardo. The most logical arrangement would be having Mac and Bloo share and letting everyone else remain in their respective places.) and had consequently wondered if he should have somehow offered his own bed to the boy and slept on the floor himself…The tiger was, after all, accustomed to sleeping in uncomfortable places. Yes, in retrospect, he should have done that. But he had eventually dismissed all of these thoughts and, upon getting to his room and seeing that his roommate, Never Leave Steve, was already asleep, had collapsed into his bed and then promptly passed out cold.
Back in the present, Hobbes yawned a wide tiger yawn and got out of bed. Of course he wanted to go on this intergalactic road trip. With friends at his side, he'd have to courage to go back and ask him to his face, "Why, exactly, did you kick me out?" Right? Right.
Mr. Herriman was still in the shower and Frankie wasn't awake yet, so it was easy enough to get out of the door. The three sprinted down the sidewalk to the nearest bus stop that was out of sight from the House. When they arrived, Hobbes noticed that Mac was unreasonably out of breath. Mac's backpack looked bulgier than usual, too. "I'll carry your backpack," Hobbes offered. Hobbes could see that Mac was about to protest, so the tiger just reached down and took the bag upon himself. It was, indeed, quite heavy. "What's in here? A sedan?" Mac looked slightly abashed. "Just food and maps and first aid stuff." A few moments of silence passed. The bus could be seen a few blocks away.
"Judging by the absence of Wilt, Coco, and Eduardo, I'm guessing they're not joining us. Unless they're planning to sleep in and take a later bus and meet us at the pit stop," Hobbes said. Mac, again, flushed and rubbed the back of his neck. "No," the boy said. "It's just the three of us." And as he said this, he looked around at Bloo, who, as it turned out, was lying on the sidewalk, fast asleep. They nudged him awake just as the bus pulled up. The doors noisily swung open. Mac started to rummage through his backpack, which was still on the tiger's back, for the money he'd dug out of his piggy bank. Hobbes, smiling slightly, took his own money out and paid the bus fare for the three of them. Seeing Mac's questioning look, Hobbes said, "A penny saved is a penny earned," and shrugged. "I have a sufficient nest egg for rainy days such as these."
Mac and Bloo sat together and Hobbes took a seat in the row behind them, next to an elderly woman who was dozing, her head resting against the window. Mac and Bloo turned to face Hobbes. "Okay," Mac said. "Here's the plan: we're taking the bus to the train station. Then, we'll take the train to the region where your creator lives. Now…where does your creator live?" Hobbes looked into Mac's eyes; they were completely trusting. Mac sincerely believed that Hobbes knew where his creator lived—he hadn't even thought to doubt Hobbes—with no basis to do so. Hobbes almost hurt to feel so trusted. Of course, Hobbes knew where his creator used to live, but what if he'd moved? What if…?
But this was no time for doubt. "The Midwest," Hobbes answered firmly. Mac had extracted a map from his backpack, which sat on Hobbes' lap, and was drawing on it with a highlighter, explaining their route to Hobbes and Bloo. The tiger, however, started to phase out. In spite of what he'd just told himself, dark, creeping little doubts were beginning to find their way into his mind. They'd only traveled four city blocks for heaven's sake! But…he'd just found a new home—and not just any home, he'd found Foster's—and all of a sudden, he was running off again. Not only that, but he was being incredibly selfish. What was he doing dragging Mac and Bloo into his personal issues? They obviously wanted to come, but—
"What's his name?"
"What?" Hobbes asked. Bloo was staring him right in the face. "Your creator," Bloo prompted. "What's his name?" Hobbes tried not to look surprised at his thoughts being interrupted; he eventually managed a wry smile. "How do you know my creator is a 'he'?" Bloo rolled his eyes. "Puh-lease," he said in his snootiest voice, "Girls have cooties and you don't. Therefore, your creator is a guy."
Well, Hobbes couldn't argue with that logic. And here he had been starting to think that humans were all matter and material. It seemed he was wrong again, disproved by the existence of the intangible cooties.
"Calvin," Hobbes finally said. It was funny to hear his own voice speaking Calvin's name. He hadn't said it in years. Consciously, at least. He was so used to mechanically pushing Calvin out of his thoughts, Hobbes assumed Bloo was through asking questions on the subject. But, no.
"What does he look like? What job does he have? Is he a racecar driver? Is he filthy rich?" Bloo pressed frenziedly, practically jumping up and down in the plastic bus seat, warranting strange looks through the rear view mirror from the bus driver. "Bloo," Mac cautioned. The elderly woman next to Hobbes was stirring. "Well…" Hobbes said, putting his paw to his furry chin. "I guess, when he was a kid, he looked kind of like…Mac, but with blond hair. But…also," Hobbes paused and squinted his eyes before continuing, "completely different." Hobbes sat in silence for a moment, recalling something. He considered not saying anything else, but when he looked back at his two fellow voyagers, he couldn't help but keep talking. They both looked so genuinely curious, he just kept on going.
"You know something? He's a clever, narcissistic maniac like you, Bloo," Hobbes said, smiling. It felt strangely good to be talking about Calvin. It was cathartic. "I'll tell ya," the tiger continued, "There was this time when he thought he was going to be the next Houdini and he had me tie him to this chair…Ha! That didn't work out so well for him. You should've seen the look on his dad's face when he had to come untie 'Mr. Houdini.' Utter bamboozlement, I tell you. Took a good half hour. Calvin always had quite the knack for getting into these…predicaments." Hobbes smiled fondly in spite of himself.
He told them stories until they arrived at the train station half an hour later.