Yeah, Robbie was a dork. He knew that. He didn't need a cherry soda poured on his head to tell him.
Thinking back, whoever it was that did the deed probably wouldn't have done it if Robbie's friends had been there. He was sitting alone at the lunch table, everyone else having finished their meals and taken off. However, Robbie wanted to hang back and use the time alone to figure out why Rex's head wasn't rotating right. Apparently, unbeknownst to Robbie, this made him an instatarget. Something about the top of his head seemed to send a signal out that said "I could stand to be sticky and smell like cherry cola."
He hadn't been alone a whole minute before the cold brown liquid splashed onto his hair, over his face, and all over his white t-shirt. Robbie froze in shock, his mouth open in a gasp and his eyes squeezed shut to keep the soda out of them. After a moment, he sputtered, removing his glasses and wiping at his eyes furiously with his sleeve, but the perpetrator was gone, having moved on in a cloud of proud, evil laughter.
Robbie was left shaking out his hair and turning Rex over to see if he'd gotten splashed at all. "If you didn't want the soda, I would have drunk it for you!" he'd shouted in the direction he was pretty sure his new friend had gone.
Now Robbie was in the boys' bathroom leaning on the sink and staring at his sticky, drippy reflection. "Stupid, stupid, stupid…" he complained, taking off his glasses to rinse them under the faucet.
"Well, if you didn't act like such a dork, no one would wanna cover you in soda!" Rex commented from the next sink over.
Even with his vision blurred, Robbie could tell where the voice came from and gave Rex a look. "Quiet, you. You're the reason everyone thinks I'm a dork, anyway!"
"Oh, yeah," Rex crooned mockingly. "It's 'cause of me you got no swag and you're awkward and say nerdy things. That's all my fault. Dude, if anything, I make you cooler!"
Robbie didn't have a response. It was true. Without Rex, he would be a walking mess. Rex said all the cool stuff, albeit insulting, and all that ever came out of Robbie's mouth was dumb dorky stuff. "I'm such a loser…" he muttered under his breath, hopefully too quiet for Rex to hear.
The soda droplets were off his glasses, but when Robbie put them back on and looked at his reflection again, all he saw was a sticky, dirty mess with clean glasses. "I need some help…" he confessed to himself, and ignored Rex's unnecessary response of "Yeah, you do."
It was classtime. Robbie was skipping acting to hide out here in the bathroom, too embarrassed to face his friends who would only pity him and probably think this was funny, despite Robbie's feelings. Friends could sometimes be hurtful, even if they didn't mean to be. But with a stroke of hope, Robbie poked his head out the bathroom door, looking down the hall for hopefully Beck or André or even Sinjin. He'd take any help at this point.
Which was apparently a desperately prophetical thought, because the only person in the hall was Cat, standing in front of her locker. Robbie swallowed and looked in the other direction, but, no, Cat was the only person out there. He sighed, before hissing at her. "Cat! Cat, come here!"
Cat looked around at first, seemingly unaware of where his voice was coming from, as if it could be from somewhere else, then her eyes landed on Robbie and she grinned, shutting her locker and snatching up her backpack to run to him. "Hey, Robbie! Your hair is all wet and floppy. And your shirt has brown stuff on it. Why are you sticking your head out of the bathroom?"
He huffed and his shoulders slumped. "Because I'm hiding."
"From who?" Cat asked, her eyes wide and curious.
Cat's mouth opened in a wide smile. "You lose! I found you!" She laughed before Robbie shushed her. Although he wasn't sure who would hear.
"I called you over, you didn't find me," he clarified. "Come in here."
But Cat looked horrified. "That's the boys' bathroom, Robbie. I can't go in there. I'm a girl."
Robbie frowned. "Well, I know that. But there's no one else in here and I need your help."
"That's the boys' bathroom, Rob—"
"Saying it twice doesn't change anything, Cat!" Robbie shouted and immediately shrunk, getting that feeling again that someone would hear. With a huff, he just grabbed Cat's wrist and pulled her back in with him. "Get in here…"
Once inside, Cat's eyes widened with shock and embarrassment. "Girls aren't supposed to be in here, Robbie…" Now it was her whispering, even though there was probably even less of a chance of someone hearing them now that they weren't in the hallway.
"That's not the point. Listen, I have a problem—"
"Why are you all brown and sticky-looking?" Cat asked, finally focused on what was important here.
Robbie, satisfied that they were now on the same page, relaxed, gesturing forward with his hands. "That's where I'm getting at. After you guys left at lunch, some jerk poured a large soda all over my head. Rex was spared, but I'm… a mess."
Cat's face fell instantly, pity filling her eyes. "Oh, poor Robbie!" she exclaimed. She dropped her backpack to sympathetically reach out to touch his hair, but Robbie leaned away and closed his eyes, waving his hands.
"No, don't do that, don't be all… feeling sorry for me." Although he should have let her touch his hair, it might have made him feel better… "I just need some help getting cleaned up."
Cat's smile returned, softer and more sympathetic this time. "I can do that. Be right back, 'kay?" She took a second to get to the door and didn't even check the hallway before going out. It seemed her distress over being in the boys' room wore off after her mind was refocused.
"'Kay…" Robbie responded, but not until she was actually out the door, and he sighed as he looked back at himself in the mirror. Soaky, sticky Robbie with no muscles and untamable hair and silly glasses you couldn't even see his eyes behind. Loser Robbie.
"Hey, loser!" Rex hissed from the other sink, and Robbie looked at him, glaring. Now wasn't the time for comments from Rex. "Make a move, man! You got that dizzy redhead alone in a bathroom. Now's the time!"
Robbie's mouth fell open, appalled. "I am not making a move on Cat!" he retorted. "She's my friend and she's doing me a favor."
"Come on, dude. Askin' her to the prom, pinin' for her the whole time … you're sprung! And I'm willin' to bet she's feelin' pretty same, too. You all poppin' up in her dreams."
Robbie groaned, grabbing Rex angrily off of the sink and moving for his backpack by the wall. "She dreamt about me being a wuss and letting her get eaten." With emphasis, he shoved Rex in the bookbag, despite the loud protests. They were muffled soon enough.
Just soon enough, it turned out, as Cat was sneaking back into the bathroom, clearly making sure no one would see her. She had a few supplies in her arms that she must have gotten from the janitor's closet. "I put one of those yellow signs outside the door so no one would come in. Clever, right?" She giggled, pleased with herself, as she began setting things in one of the sinks.
"Hey, where'd Rex go?" she asked, looking around.
Robbie shook his head and joined her at the sink. "Oh… he left."
"Oh, that's too bad," Cat murmured. "I didn't get to say goodbye."
He couldn't help a chuckle. It was nice that Cat recognized Rex as his own person, even if she sometimes called him a puppet. She was nice to Rex often, even though he really didn't deserve it, the way he talked about her. Make a move… yeah, right. Even if the way Cat smiled at Robbie when she heard his chuckling was really sweet and pretty.
Robbie shook his head, dismissing his laughter, and looked at what she'd brought. "Soap?" he asked, picking up the liquid detergent she had dropped in the sink bowl.
"Uh-huh," Cat responded, draping a towel over the edge of the sink and beginning to run water in another one, pulling up the stopper. "Here, take off your shirt," she added suddenly and absently.
For as distractedly as she had said it, though, Robbie was fully aware. "Wh—what?" he practically shrieked in an octave that would have warranted Rex's ridicule if he were in a position to hear it.
Cat raised her eyebrows at him, seemingly confused. "What?"
"I can't take off my—my shirt in front of you, Cat," Robbie laughed, crossing his arms defensively and smiling as if this was some sort of joke.
Apparently, it wasn't, as Cat shrugged and turned to add soap to the running water in the sink. "You have to. If you want the soda out of it, you have to let it soak in the water with the soap."
This was horrible. Robbie's stomach flipped over sideways at the thought of taking off his shirt in this close of parameters with Cat. She would see that he had no definition, that he was all ribs, and that his arms were stringy. It was easy for a girl like Cat to say something like "Take off your shirt." She probably looked perfect without her shirt…
Oh, no more of those thoughts! Robbie caught his eyes drifting away from Cat's face and he took a sideways glance to assure that he wasn't beet red—which he was. Of course, now he had no choice. He needed an excuse to be blushing, so he immediately tore his shirt off over his head and handed to Cat, crossing his arms over his chest as soon as she took it.
But she wasn't even reacting, not even looking at him. She was pushing his shirt under the steamy water and turning off the faucet. Make a move… what a joke.
"'Kay, 'kay, now put your head in this sink," Cat said, turning on a second faucet.
Robbie frowned, his mouth tight. "Now you're just trying to make me look goofy."
Cat laughed, tossing her hair back over her shoulders. "Why would I do that? I'm just going to wash your hair out, silly."
Some more stomach somersaults. It was like the Olympics of bodily organs down there and the ventricular was ahead in gymnastics. Robbie had had his hair done at a salon before. Lots of times, actually. It was a part of his favorite day spa package. So he knew that it felt great to have your hair washed by someone else. All those nerves in your scalp being massaged and hot water running over your head and… did he really want Cat doing that? Asking her to help him out had been such a bad idea.
"Come on, Robbie," Cat purred, taking his shoulder and forcing him closer to the sink. "I'm missing Acting right now."
He sighed, feeling guilty. Cat was skipping out on class to give him a hand. He should be grateful. Instead, he was acting like a child, getting embarrassed and arguing with her. So, Robbie set his glasses one sink over, braced his hands on the sides of the sink, and stuck his head under the thankfully high faucet. "Be gentle," he offered pathetically just as Cat turned on the water, which was shockingly cold, causing him to gasp and lift his head suddenly. It smacked on the faucet head. He moaned as he sank slowly back into the sink.
"Oh, Robbie!" Cat yelped, touching his head gingerly where he'd just hit it. "Are you okay? Ohh, poor Rob—I mean… you… you shouldn't have done that!" she suddenly scolded, causing Robbie to frown amusedly into the white porcelain of the sink. "I don't want you think I'm feeling sorry for you…" she clarified, beginning to work the water through Robbie's curls.
Barely having heard her past the water that was beginning to run into her ears, Robbie laughed a little under his breath. "That's okay, Cat… You're right, I—I shouldn't have jerked up."
There was quite a bit of silence. Or maybe Robbie just couldn't hear because of the water. Cat's fingers were laced into his hair and she was being very careful about rubbing his scalp, sure to keep her fingernails away so as not to scratch him. Every couple seconds or so she would comb her fingers through, rinsing the soda out. It must have been difficult, Robbie figured, because he'd let the stuff sit for so long it had mostly dried.
Now's the time. Robbie squeezed his eyes shut tighter. Rex just sort of got in his head sometimes.
Cat began to say something, but Robbie couldn't hear it because his ears were full of water. It was probably something funny and unrelated. Robbie would probably laugh if he could hear. Something like "My grandma calls me Caterina, but my dog calls me barking sounds, and I call him Maria!" or "I love fish sticks, but I've never seen a stick-shaped fish…" or "Your hair feels so nice, Robbie."
…no, it probably wasn't that last one.
"I'm such a loser…" Robbie muttered, thinking Cat wouldn't hear. But her hands stopped moving.
"What?" he could actually make that out. It probably helped that he wasn't fantasizing about Cat's fingers or her talking about his hair.
Robbie sighed. He could just pass it off and tell her it was nothing, he was just thinking out loud, or make something up that sounded vaguely like his previous statement, and Cat would probably accept it as truth, but he was feeling so much self-loathing. He felt like if he didn't say all that he was thinking, it might eat at him. Or worse, he would be left telling it all to Rex, who would abuse him with it forever.
"I said I'm a loser," he repeated, feeling Cat's fingers slowly returning to washing the soda out of his hair. "I'm not very talented, I'm not popular, I've barely got a personality, I'm not handsome, I don't dress stylish—the only cool thing about me is Rex and he's pretty mean. No one actually likes me. Jade reminds me of that every day. Verbally. Out loud. With words. I mean, someone dumped their cola on my head today! Because I'm a loser. A dorky loser."
The water stopped running and a heavy towel was laid over Robbie's head in the sink. He sat up, letting excess water drip out from under the towel to his bare shoulders and chest. His glasses slipped onto his face, but not by his doing. Cat straightened the lenses for him, and he could see her smiling at him. For a moment, he wondered if she had heard anything he'd said, but he couldn't ask before she started talking, walking to the sink with his shirt in it and beginning to wring the article out.
"I like you, Robbie. Jade just has an attitude, she can't help it. She says she doesn't like me sometimes, too." He opened his mouth to argue, tell her that Jade wasn't really the point, but Cat continued talking, draining the water from the sink and beginning to towel it off with a smaller one she'd brought. Robbie began rubbing at his head with the towel there. "But even if Jade really didn't like you, I still would. There isn't anything wrong with you, you know. You have lots of personality! Lots more than Rex. Rex never makes me laugh or tells good stories or says anything nice just 'cause." She smiled again at Robbie, holding onto his still-very-damp but clean shirt as she stepped up in front of him. "You're not a loser, Robbie. You just haven't won yet."
She tugged the towel off of his head and out of his hands, dropping it on the floor. Still holding his shirt, she took his face in her hands and stood on tip-toe, having to pull him down a little to reach her height. Robbie's eyes squeezed shut. This was it. The moment—the moment. Come on, Rob! He pouted his lips a little, uncertainly. After all, he'd only really had stage kisses before and those had been so sudden he hadn't had time to prepare and, yeah, Cat had kissed him before but it was out of nowhere and this was slow and there was prep time—
Cat's lips touched his forehead gently and lingered there while Robbie blinked his eyes open. Well, she was kissing him. Not on the lips, no, but… this was nice. He smiled, allowing his shoulders to relax as he held in a laugh. What else did he expect from sweet, innocent Cat?
She let go of his face and held his shirt out to him, her smile sympathetic and charming. "Ta-da! You're all clean!"
Robbie stood there, grinning at her like a fool, a soaked t-shirt hanging in his hand and his curls still wet and floppy around his ears and forehead. Out of nowhere, he found himself throwing his arms around the redheaded girl, the hug met with a small squeal from her. "Robbie! You're all wet!" she started, but her complaint dissolved into giggles as she hugged him back, and Robbie didn't mind that he was shirtless and that he was a loser and that Rex wouldn't let him live all this down.
He let her go after a few good, solid moments of holding her and her squeezing him back and smiled, his eyes dropping a little. "Cat… thank you."
She swayed a little, smiling sweetly. "Oh… it's no biggie." She began picking up the towels and the soap and moved for the door while Robbie pulled on his wet t-shirt. At least now the only question would be why he was soaking wet instead of why he was covered in soda.
"Robbie." Cat had stopped at the door, holding it open with her foot and was smiling back at him. He straightened his glasses, raising his eyebrows at her. "I like you." She hesitated for just a second before skipping out into the hall.
Struck, Robbie stood there for a few moments longer. I like you. Finally, he smiled, straightening out the hem of his shirt proudly. That was a nice sentence to hear! Really nice… A girl had said she liked him. Maybe he needed to rethink this "loser" thing after all.
an: I felt like the world needed more Cabbie. I love this pairing and I wanted to share. Also, I like the idea of Cat making a first move as opposed to most stuff I've read where Robbie does it. So there's that! Thank you for reading!