A/N: I'm not sure what the age difference between Goren and Eames is supposed to be, but in this story it will be two years. In this chapter and the previous, Bobby is six and Alex is four. When their ages change it will be written at the beginning of the chapter after the title. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Chapter Two – Becoming Friends
Bobby had been prepared today. He made sure to carry his book around the house with him all morning so that he would have it when his mother sent them outside to play. He settled himself against the fence and opened it.
Frank was already heading for the gate. Bobby didn't bother to try and stop him today. At least he had his book, if his brother didn't want to keep him company. He had no friends in this new neighborhood, so his book would have to do. He glanced at the fence, and wondered if the girl (Alex, he reminded himself) would be outside today.
He had been reading for about ten minutes when he heard the back door of the neighbor's house open. He listened for Alex's voice. She was outside with her sister today – Bobby could hear another child's voice. She wouldn't be interested in talking to him today if she had her sister to play with.
Bobby went back to trying to read, but he kept getting distracted by the gleeful voices of the two girls next door. He listened to them play enviously – if only Frank still wanted to play with him! But ever-popular Frank had already made new friends, so Bobby remained alone.
A short time later, Bobby heard a man's voice. It must be Alex's father.
"Who wants to come into town with me?" he asked.
"I do!" called one girl.
"And you, Alex?"
"No," Alex replied. "I'd rather stay in the backyard."
Alex's father and sister left, and shortly after her mother returned to the house too. Only Alex remained in the yard.
Bobby startled as a softball soared over his head and hit the ground with a thud. "Hey Bobby?" Alex asked. "Are you there?"
Bobby chased the ball that was rolling across the ground. He picked it up and threw it back over the fence as a response.
"I knew it!" Alex squealed excitedly. "I knew I didn't make you up!"
Bobby stepped onto the doghouse again in order to look over the fence. Alex was standing near the cedar trees, holding the baseball and smiling.
"Hi," Bobby said.
"Hi," Alex returned. "Do you want to play ball with me?"
"Yes!" Bobby replied eagerly. "Toss it back over the fence!"
Alex frowned at him. "No, we can't play with a fence between us! I won't be able to see you."
Bobby also frowned. "What do you want to do then?"
"Come over here!" Alex instructed.
"I'm not supposed to leave my yard," Bobby replied hesitantly.
"Oh, come on!" Alex insisted. "Just climb over the fence. You'll be back soon enough; your mother won't even realize you've left!"
Bobby considered that for a moment. It was the same thing Frank had said, and he hadn't been caught. Besides, Bobby's mother wouldn't be calling him back for a while still. But he would be in trouble if anyone found out…
"I don't think I can," Bobby told her. "My Mother would be angry if I left when she said not to."
"Are you a scaredy-cat?" Alex demanded.
"No," Bobby said angrily. "I'm not scared!"
"You are!" Alex taunted. "You're a scaredy-cat; Bobby's a scaredy-cat!"
"I am not!" Bobby insisted.
"Well come on then," Alex said. "Prove it!"
Bobby seized the top of the fence and managed to pull himself over it. He slid down the other side, landing in a heap at the foot of the cedar trees. He was certain that he had bruised his knee, and he had a few scratches from the trees, but other than that he was fine.
A small grinning face peered at him between the trees. "Wow, you did it!" she exclaimed. "I didn't think you would!"
Bobby crawled out after her, and stood up to brush off his knees. "I told you I wasn't scared!"
"You deserve a cookie!" Alex exclaimed. She ran over to her back porch and picked up the last two cookies from a plate sitting there. She ran back over to Bobby and held one out to him.
"Are you sure I'm allowed?" Bobby asked, hesitating to take it.
Alex nodded. "Yes, these were for me," she told him, "but I can share one with you if I want."
Bobby took the cookie from her. After they finished, they tossed the softball around for a time.
"Hey Bobby?" Alex asked. "Did you tell anyone that you met me yesterday?"
"No," he replied.
"Well I only told my Mom, and she didn't believe me," Alex said. "So we're like… secret friends! It's like having an imaginary friend, only better, 'cause you're real!"
"Secret friends?" Bobby asked. It was certainly better than having no friends at all. He was also a fan of anything that was at all mysterious.
They continued to play for a long while, until Alex put too much force behind her throw and sent the ball soaring over the fence again and into Bobby's backyard. Suddenly, Bobby realized he had forgotten about something. "Oh no!" he cried. "I can't get back into my yard!"
"Well come on," Alex said. "You've got to try!"
The two children crawled back between the cedar trees and stood up against the fence. It looked much more daunting than Bobby remembered.
"I'll give you a leg-up!" Alex said. Bobby raised his eyebrows in disbelief as she approached him with her fingers laced together. Her tiny frame looked ill-adapted to lift an overweight cat, let alone a boy who was larger than her.
"Umm, I don't think that's going to work," Bobby said.
"We could dig a hole underneath the fence!" Alex suggested. The two children bent down and began to scrape against the dirt under the fence. Luckily, the ground wasn't too hard because of the garden. Soon both children were sweaty and covered in dirt. The hole they had been working so diligently on was perhaps large enough for a cat to pass through, but not Bobby, or even tiny Alex.
"This is taking forever!" Bobby sighed. He wiped some sweat off of his brow, leaving a large trail of mud across his forehead.
"Well, there's nothing else for it!" Alex concluded. "We'll have to go around the front."
"We?" Bobby asked. "Are you coming with me?"
"Of course!" Alex replied.
"Won't you get in trouble?"
"If I get caught," she said, with another mischievous grin.
Bobby smiled, and the two of them made their way to Bobby's backyard.
Bobby led her over to the doghouse that he used to climb over to her yard. Alex looked down and caught sight of his book.
"Are you reading that?" she asked. Bobby nodded, and her eyes widened in awe. "Wow," she said softly. "I can read," she told him with a hint of pride, "but not something like that!"
"I love to read," Bobby told her.
"Me too," she offered, grinning. "But I have to practice more before I can read something like that. Mom says that I'll learn to read better in school."
"What grade are you in?" Bobby asked.
"It's my first year," Alex replied happily. "I've wanted to go since my sister started, and now I can finally go too!"
"I'm starting the first grade," Bobby informed her. "No wonder you're so small," he added thoughtfully, "you're still a baby!"
"You take that back!" Alex said angrily. She turned to face him with her hands balled into fists. "I am NOT a baby!"
"Okay, sorry!" Bobby said. He meant it too; he hadn't wanted to offend his only friend (even if she was quite a bit younger than him). She glared at him mutinously while he squirmed uncomfortably for a long time before she turned away.
"Alright, help me over this fence!" she instructed.
Bobby rushed forward to do as she'd asked, hoping that she had forgiven him. She climbed onto the doghouse, but as Bobby had suspected, she was too short to climb over the fence herself. Bobby laced his fingers together and stepped forward.
She put her foot into his hands and he managed to lift her up high enough for her to fold her body over the fence before he fell over, panting.
"Thanks," she grunted, swinging her legs over the fence. She tumbled over the fence and crashed to the ground.
Bobby hurriedly climbed onto the doghouse to peer over the fence. Alex was crumpled on the ground against the fence. "Alex?" he asked nervously. "Alex, are you okay?"
She looked up and gave him the thumbs up. "Meet me out here tomorrow," she instructed. "And we really need to make that hole bigger! I would much rather go under the fence rather than over!"