Disclaimer: I do not own this maze of bone and flesh and word and wit. But I do swear, that if I dare, I'll make something of it.
A/N: Sort of same-universe fic with "Psychology 101." Many thanks are due to New Dawn Rising, who suggested a series of one-shots. Thanks, love!
Calvin was sixteen years old when he was kidnapped for the second time. This time, he was ditching his last class for the day, and just happened to look in the wrong direction at the wrong time.
It's debatable, who was more surprised: Calvin, or the un-masked man holding a gun in one hand and a black bank bag in the other. They stared at each other for a moment.
Calvin blinked. "Are you a bank robber?" he asked, unable to help himself. Sirens wailed suddenly and the man glanced over his shoulder nervously, answering Calvin's question fairly well.
"Do you have a getaway car?" Calvin continued innocently, appearing to be very concerned about the man's lack of planning. " 'Cause you should get one if you're gonna –hey!"
The man, apparently coming to a decision , shoved Calvin towards the nearest vehicle, which happened to be a small, practically grey compact belonging to none other than one Susie Derkins.
"Uh, no," Calvin balked. "Bad idea, believe me. Do you know who owns this car? She will kill you. Or me. Or both of us." The man jabbed the gun into the teenager's ribs and Calvin suddenly found it hard to swallow. "Or, yeah, I'll just get in the car."
He opened the door to the backseat, trying to stall and silently scowling at Susie Derkins for not locking her car up. A loud crack sounded in his ears and he didn't even have time to register the pain in his head before he was falling across the backseat of the car, unconscious.
Calvin's parents were hugging him and kissing him and he was beginning to think that they were never going to let him go –surprisingly, he was sort of okay with that right now.
Hobbes was there too, arms and paws wrapped tight around Calvin's body, tail curling around his waist, and head buried in his shoulder.
"Hey, buddy," whispered Hobbes.
"Hey, buddy," said Calvin back.
Surprisingly, the consensus upon the discovery that both Calvin and Susie's car were missing was not that Calvin had been kidnapped in Susie's car. Rather, everyone seemed to think that Calvin had kidnapped the car.
It was times like this that Hobbes found humans particularly irritating.
To Hobbes' mind, the facts were simple. Calvin had no means, no motive, and only the barest smidgen of opportunity. The facts were thus:
One, Calvin didn't know how to drive a car. He could drive a spaceship, a time machine, a wagon, a sled, a fighter jet, a transmogrifying device, and, in a pinch, a grocery cart, but he didn't know how to drive a car. No means.
Note to self, Hobbes: talk to Calvin about getting a driver's license.
Two, it wasn't that Hobbes thought that Calvin wouldn't steal a car, it was just that Calvin wasn't stupid enough to steal Susie Derkins' car. He had a better sense of self-preservation than that. No motive.
Three, Calvin didn't have the keys to the car. And while Calvin was certainly intelligent enough to teach himself how to hotwire a vehicle, he wouldn't have had enough time to learn and then actually do it before school let out and the parking lot flooded with kids. It was only last period he was ditching. No opportunity.
Tigers, Hobbes was sure, made much better detectives than humans.
Besides, if Calvin was going to suddenly take to a life of crime and car-thievery, there was no way he would have left Hobbes at home today. Calvin wouldn't leave Hobbes behind willingly.
And anyway, Hobbes was starting to get a familiar feeling. He'd felt it only once, years ago, the first time Calvin had been kidnapped. It was an awful feeling, deep inside the tiger's chest.
Calvin was in danger.
Calvin was six years old when he was kidnapped for the first time. It was some guy who liked to hang around the playground. He offered Calvin candy if Calvin would come with him after school, but Calvin was a bit smarter than that, and he plainly and clearly said no.
That was when the man grabbed him, stuffed him into the backseat of a car, and drove off with him.
For the first hour, Calvin wasn't scared at all. This was a new experience! It was exciting and interesting and wouldn't Hobbes be jealous when Calvin told him!
Hobbes. Hobbes wasn't here. Hobbes was at home, with Calvin's mom and dad. And Calvin was…
Here. With a stranger. Who had kidnapped Calvin.
One hour and four minutes into being kidnapped, and now Calvin was afraid.
Somebody knocked on the door to Calvin's parent's house. In the living room, Calvin's parents, Susie Derkins, a police officer, and Hobbes all froze and stared at the front door. The knock came again.
Snapping out of his stupor, Calvin's dad walked over to the door and opened it.
"Hel-lo?" he said uncertainly. On the stoop stood two more police officers.
"Sir," said one of them grimly. "I think we need to talk. May we come in?"
In between gasps of outrage and shock, shaky cries of fear and worry, and Hobbes' unnoticed smugness, the policemen tell their tale.
They were chasing a bank robber, they said, and he went into the school district. They pursued, but lost him outside of the high school. They had, however, been able to interview a witness.
Here they looked very seriously at Calvin's parents. The witness had seen an armed man with a huge black bag knock a blonde-haired teenager unconscious and drive off with him in the back of a grey compact car. That was all she'd seen, seeing as how she was a little old lady puttering in her garden and had had to grab her arthritis medicine before calling the police, because she'd gotten up off her knees too fast.
Somewhat guiltily relieved, Calvin's father said, "So Calvin didn't steal the car."
"No," said the policeman, "And we promise, we are doing everything we can to make sure Calvin is found and safely returned home."
Calvin's mom was crying and his father blanched as he turned to comfort her.
"Not again," she sobbed. "Not again."
"Again?" the policeman asked, puzzled. Calvin's mom was crying too hard to answer, and his dad suddenly found that he couldn't speak past the lump in his throat.
"Calvin," murmured Susie slowly, almost dreamily. "He's been kidnapped before…"
Understanding and sympathy flooded the officers' faces. "We'll find him," one of them promised, even though they weren't supposed to promise things like that.
Hobbes wasn't whimpering, he told himself. He was just purring in a really high-pitched voice, was all.
Calvin woke up and his first thought was, "I'm not crying. I'm not."
He was though. He was crying because he had been kidnapped and it had been hours and hours since he had seen his mom and he was only six anyway and where was Hobbes?
I want my tiger, Calvin thought. Hobbes would protect me from the bad guy. He sniffled, and more tears spilled down his cheeks. He swiped them away, angry with himself for crying, but too scared to stop.
"Shut up!" The man who had kidnapped Calvin was snarling. Calvin whimpered.
Calvin woke up and his first thought was "Not again."
Well. Alright. That was his second thought. His first thought was "I probably don't have to go to school tomorrow."
Never let it be said that Calvin didn't have his priorities straight. It was just that Calvin's priorities were very different from other people's.
He pushed himself into a sitting position, briefly considered whining about the pain in his head, caught sight of a phone on the other side of the room, and promptly forgot all about the pain.
The phone, he had to get to the phone. If he could get to the phone, he could call his parents to come get him. Or, rather, the police, to come get the kidnapper. Yes, getting to the phone seemed like a fine plan indeed.
Or. It did, before he tried to stand up, upon which Calvin realized that his hands and feet had been tied together and he couldn't move.
Hobbes sort of wanted to cry, which was both annoying and kind of gross, but he didn't, because a) tigers don't cry, and b) his fur would get all soggy. Instead of crying, Hobbes distracted himself by watching every move Susie Derkins made. Calvin would want to know all about it when he came back. When… he…
Hobbes sniffled a little bit, but he still wasn't crying.
The kidnapper was coming closer to Calvin, who scrambled backwards frantically, trying to put more space between them.
"Shhh," the man hissed. Calvin thought that he was probably trying to sound soothing, but instead he was just scary. "Keep quiet now," the man said, smiling a little. Calvin shivered. The man reached out to grasp Calvin's arm and just like that, Calvin was done.
I can't do this.
Calvin screamed… and then Spaceman Spiff lifted his head and stared the ugly Zorf in the eye. "You'll never make me talk!" he declared confidently.
"What?" said the Zorf, confused.
"I fear no Zorf!" Spaceman Spiff shouted! "And you shall not defeat me!"
"Kid, I…" said the Zorf, but Spaceman Spiff was not listening to the poisonous words of the evil alien.
"Die, alien scum!" he yelled instead, rushing forward with his space blaster. The Zorf stumbled backwards, clearly unnerved by this display of bravery, and Spiff leaped, landing with both his feet planted firmly on the alien's massive stomach. All the air whooshed out of the Zorf and he moaned.
So, Calvin thought to himself, I've been kidnapped. Again. I made it out last time, so what did I do to manage that?
He paused for a moment.
"Problem," he said aloud. "I don't really remember what happened." Saying it out loud didn't make him feel better.
He was starting to breathe too hard and too fast. Calm down, Calvin. Now's not the time for a panic attack. I've just gotta get my hands free, he decided. I can get to the phone and call someone if my hands are free. With this in mind, Calvin rolled over and sat up.
Abruptly, he realized that he hurt. Everywhere. His head reeled, his shoulders ached, and his stomach felt like he'd been riding a roller coaster for a bajillion hours.
"Oh," said Calvin, softly. "That's not good."
Concordance, his brain supplied, sounding oddly earnest and eager-to-please. Calvin's face turned doubtful. "I don't think that's the right word," he told himself.
Something else that starts with "con" then, his brain said, undeterred. You've got one.
"Thanks," Calvin grumped, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. He had to get to the phone.
Ignore the pain, he told himself. Get up! On your feet, soldier! It helped some, and he managed to roll up onto his knees. From there, it was easy enough to maneuver onto his feet.
Well. Easy-ish. Or it would have been easy, if he hadn't lost his balance and ended up right where he had started.
Sighing, Calvin hoped that his captor wasn't coming back any time soon.
It was strange, Susie thought. The realization that Calvin hadn't stolen her car –had, in fact, been kidnapped in her car, was very odd. It was doing odd things to her heart. The organ kept pounding extremely hard and fast, for no apparent reason. In addition, Susie's eyes were itchy and red and sort of watery. Also, she was beginning to suspect that she was having an Emotion.
Specifically, she supposed, the emotion was about Calvin's being kidnapped. It didn't really have anything to do with him, per se. Except that, of course, he had been kidnapped.
She really needed to stop thinking the words "Calvin" and "kidnapped" in the same thoughts.
Susie wandered over to the couch in the living room, where Hobbes was sitting in the corner cushion, looking a bit squashed. Slowly, she reached down and picked up the tiger, hugging him close to her and burying her face in his fur.
"He'll be fine, Hobbes," she whispered. "He has to be fine."
Susie didn't know it, of course, but Hobbes was saying the exact same thing to her.
The phone rang. Susie looked up, paused. It rang again. Calvin's parents were apparently not in a phone-answering mood. Susie was a little confused by this, seeing as how if her kid had been kidnapped, she would have been glued to the telephone the entire time. But–
Sighing, Susie walked back out to the kitchen, where Calvin's parents were sitting at the table, holding hands and staring at nothing. Still holding Hobbes in one arm, Susie slowly reached out and lifted the receiver from the cradle.
"Hello," she said, and there was a long pause. Then:
"Susie Derkins," said Calvin, calling her, as was usual lately, by her full name. His voice was tired, breathy, and full of pain. "I didn't steal your car."
"Aha!" Spiff yelled. "I have conquered you! Bow at my feet, you alien…"
Spiff tried to think of a word that meant the same thing as "scum" but was different, because he'd already said that, but while he was thinking, the rest of Spaceman Spiff's fleet arrived and said–
Spaceman Spiff paused, confused, because since when did the Fleet say "Freeze"? and then…
Calvin was crying, again, stupid tears streaming down his face, but the nice policeman was gathering Calvin up and saying, "Shhh, it's okay. Shhh, we've got you now. See, the bad guys all tied up, he can't hurt you. Shhh."
For some reason, when the policeman said, "Shhh," it was actually soothing, and Calvin shhhhed. He hiccupped a little and wrapped his arms around the policeman's neck and let the man lift him off the ground.
"You don't have to say 'tied up'," he hiccupped. "I know what handcuffs are."
The nice policeman smiled and said, "Alright, then. The bad guy's handcuffed. We're gonna take you home now. Your mom and dad are waiting for you."
"And Hobbes, too?" Calvin sniffled. The policeman laughed.
"Yeah. And Hobbes, too."
Calvin sat in the back of a police car while the sirens ran, grinning like a fool. He couldn't help the childish reaction to one of his fondest wishes come true. Ride in a police car with the sirens on, he thought smugly, check! Hobbes will be soooo jealous… Hobbes.
Calvin sobered and leaned forward eagerly when he saw his neighborhood coming up. They pulled into his house's driveway and the policeman opened the car door for Calvin.
Calvin's mom burst out of the front door of the house at top speed, his dad right on her heels. Calvin jumped forward as well, and for a minute, it was like he was six again as his father actually lifted his feet from the ground and his mom covered his face in tearful kisses.
When they finally pulled back, slightly, Calvin caught sight of Susie, standing next to her car, which was being impounded as evidence, and clutching Hobbes to her chest. For a moment, Calvin rolled his eyes internally. Hobbes was never going to get over the fact that he was so close to Susie Derkins'… Calvin was not going there. Nuh-uh. No sir.
He smirked instead. "Hey there, Susie Derkins," he said.
For just a split second, she looked flustered, and her eyes were watery and relieved. It was extremely disconcerting, and Calvin was glad when her expression cleared and became the one he was most used to from Susie –mild disdain.
"Calvin," she sniffed. "I see you didn't manage to damage my car too badly."
And it didn't matter that Calvin hadn't been the one to take the car, nor that he had just been through an Ordeal. Susie and Calvin were not going to talk about the way he'd said her name when she answered the phone; they definitely weren't going to talk about how she'd gasped when she heard his voice; and they absolutely, positively, never, ever, ever were going to talk about how Susie had sat down on the kitchen floor after handing the phone to Calvin's mom and cried hysterically for two hours.
Nope. Not talking about it.
So instead, Susie just managed a small smile and held Hobbes out for Calvin to take. Calvin hugged his friend close and said, "Hey, buddy."
"Hey, buddy," Hobbes said back, because really, what more needed to be said?
A/N: My parents used to tell me that they weren't worried about someone kidnapping me, because they were certain that if it ever happened, the kidnapper wouldn't last a day before bringing me back. Apparently, I talk a lot.
A strange thought, and not one I entertain too heavily: what if Calvin's alter egos are… literally alter egos? I try not to believe that too much, though, 'cause it takes away from the lightheartedness of the series.