Hey, readers! This chapter references the episodes 'Book Ends,' 'Department Store Tobey,' and 'By Jove, You've Wrecked My Robot.'

Foreword:

This might be a good time to mention that I haven't actually seen all the episodes of WordGirl. ^^' It was canceled on PBS before I rediscovered it via my little sister's sudden fit of nostalgia. I think I've tracked down most of the really important episodes, but there's definitely stuff I'm missing, so if you notice any inconsistencies with the canon, please feel free to mention them along which the episode they pertain to. I'll do my best to track them down and watch them to 'educate' myself. :P

On the flip side, it recently occurred to me that since WordGirl is a PBS show that has yet to see a proper DVD release and some of the episodes are elusive at best, I can't assume that my readers have seen all the same episodes that I have. So, as a courtesy to you lovely folks, I'm going to try my best to detail in the author's notes at the end of each chapter any episodes that I make reference to lest anyone get confused. If I mention an episode you haven't seen and you can't seem to find it, send me a PM and I'll see if I can help. :)


Recondite [rek-uh n-dahyt] – dealing with very profound, difficult, or abstruse subject matter.

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"Are you sure about this? Your plan sounds a bit dangerous if you ask me," the Narrator said, sounding a bit worried.

Captain Huggyface squealed in agreement from his perch on WordGirl's back as she flew high above the city.

"I'll admit it's risky," WordGirl explained, soaring decidedly forward with a single-minded purpose. "But I have to take the chance. The city's future is at stake."

She had spent a restless night brooding over what kind of evil Tobey would be capable of in the future if his development as a villain was left unchecked, and the imaginations her troubled mind had conjured up were more than a little unsettling. She saw him ten years from now as a mad scientist not unlike the city's resident cheese-loving supervillain, only more destructive, and with a far less simple obsession.

Dr. Two-Brains without his weaknesses… It was a frightening thought, but it reminded her of the reason she was seeking out the double-minded professor right now. He and Tobey had a lot in common. If anyone could help her figure out what to do about Tobey, it was Dr. Two-Brains.

The villain's evil lair came into view and WordGirl began her decent, adding with a salute, "Wish me luck!"

"Oh, I'll wish you more than luck," the Narrator muttered, but he gracefully went quiet as WordGirl blazed into the run-down warehouse through an open window.

Inside, she immediately recognized the white column of lab coat topped with an explosion of matching hair, hunched over a dilapidated work bench and muttering to himself. He straightened suddenly, still facing away from her, and brandished a colorful gizmo that looked like a high-tech squirt gun.

"Eureka," he shouted. "My desoggification ray is complete! Now I just need to test it on one of the fish crackers from my aquarium heist!"

"Excuse me," WordGirl interrupted, floating toward him and into the light as her sidekick tensed on her shoulders.

"WordGirl!" He spun around to face her, striking up a battle pose and a matching sinister smile. "Well, this is a surprise. I wasn't expecting to run into you again until I surfaced for another cheese crime, but what the heck? I wouldn't mind a redo of that last battle."

"Actually, I—"

"En Garde, WordGirl!" Two-Brains shouted, interrupting her this time as he brandished his ray gun. "You're about to become chronically dehydrated."

He fired several times, and WordGirl zipped around the warehouse avoiding the blasts until she was finally able to scream out, "Wait! I'm not here to battle you!"

The villain halted, his maniacal grin turning into a look of confused disappointment. "You're not?"

"I came to ask you about what you said earlier. About Tobey?"

"You're still on that?" the doctor groaned, childishly dangling his arms to show his frustration. "Forget it, WordGirl, I'm not your personal villain consultant. Now either fight me or get outta here!"

He pointed his ironic little weapon at her and once more pelted her with gunfire. Undeterred, she continued to dodge his attacks, loudly chattering on between blasts, "But I think you were right about him!—What can I do about it?—I don't want Tobey to get worse!—You have to know something that might help, right? I mean—"

"Oh, for the love of cheese!" Dr. Two-Brains threw his hands in the air in yet another juvenile display of impatience. "If I help you figure out this Tobey thing, will you please just focus of your battle with me?"

WordGirl smiled eagerly. "Yes, I promise!"

Captain Huggyface moaned in relief, and his head fell limp on her shoulder.

"All right, have a seat." Two-Brains gestured with his ray gun at the cheese couch across the room.

WordGirl geared herself into high alert and lowered herself onto the comfortable albeit odd-smelling cushions. Huggy dismounted and plopped down at her side, glancing around suspiciously… or perhaps hungrily. WordGirl fidgeted a little, then as casually as possible she said, "So… where are your henchmen?"

"Out to lunch," the doctor explained as he sat down next to her. "Said they wanted to eat something besides cheese." He frowned incredulously, like the concept was unfathomable to him, then sighed and looked WordGirl in the eyes. "Okay. So you want to keep Tobey from growing up to be the worst supervillain the city's ever seen, right?"

"Right." WordGirl nodded. "Is that possible?"

"Sure, it's completely possible," Dr. Two-Brains muttered with a shrug, "He's a kid. It's not like future's set in stone."

WordGirl's heart lifted with hope. "So, what can I do?"

"Well, you can stop enabling him for starters."

"Enabling him?" She crossed her arms and gave a sharp frown. "I don't enable Tobey."

The doctor raised an eyebrow at her. "You know what 'enable' means, right?"

"Of course." Sticking her finger in the air, she confidently defined, "It means to give someone the power or ability to do something. So how can you say I'm enabling Tobey? I'm the one stopping him most of the time."

"You're also the one rewarding him for all his bad behavior."

She blinked at him, bewildered. "What?"

Two-Brains sighed and rolled his eyes. "WordGirl, what would you say if I told you that Tobey's won every battle you've ever shown up to?"

"I'd say you're crazy, that's what I'd say."

Dr. Two-Brains gave a bashful smile. "Well, I am a mad scientist, but seriously, think about it. What is Tobey after when he wrecks the city?"

WordGirl paused to think for a moment. "Well, sometimes he's just mad about something."

"What about the rest of the time?"

She paused again. The rest of the time? Reluctantly she raked over her memories of her battles with Tobey, forcing herself to ignore all the anger and frustration on her end and instead focus on what Tobey had actually been after. This was the one area where Tobey and Dr. Two-Brains were actually polar opposites. While Two-Brains only ever wanted one thing and came up with endless colorful ways to get it, Tobey had a single means of achieving a variety of goals. He used his robots to attack buildings, to win contests, to play dangerous large-scale games… How could she be expected to pin down his core motivation when it was always something… different?

Hold on… Was it always different? Digging a little deeper, she honed in on the reason Tobey had done those things, and realized the obvious common denominator. He once threatened to destroy the library in order to lure her into a battle. He once ordered his robots to attack four different buildings in one day to force her to play a riddle game with him. Why, once he even set up twelve stationary robots across the city like pieces on a game board as part of an elaborate plan to expose her secret identity.

In a tone laced with befuddled realization, WordGirl slowly murmured, "I guess it's usually because of… me?"

"Ding, we have a winner!" Dr. Two-Brains sang, gesturing with his hand like he was ringing a bell. "He likes fighting with you. So when you show up to fight, you're getting the idea in his twelve-year-old brain that destroying the city will get him exactly what he wants. You're enabling him. Honestly, WordGirl, this is basic psychology. You know what psychology is, don'tcha?"

WordGirl's face scrunched into an offended frown. "Of course I know! Psychology is the study of—"

"You don't have to define it; I know what psychology means."

Out of nowhere the Narrator inserted, "Yeah, but the kids at home might not."

"Well, they can go ask their parents," Two-Brains snapped irritably. "Psychology was not on today's word list! Look, WordGirl, if you want to have a chance of doing anything about Tobey, you're gonna have to get your head around what's going on in his head."

WordGirl looked forward and cupped her hand to whisper, "That's what psychology means."

"Nice one," the Narrator whispered back.

Turning her attention back to her 'personal villain consultant,' WordGirl puzzled on. "But why would he go to all that trouble just to fight me when he knows I'm going to destroy all his robots?"

"Because he likes you." Dr. Two-Brains paused, then quickly added, "You know he likes you, right?"

"Of course."

"Good. I would've lost respect for your intelligence if you didn't know that."

"But still, I mean—Tobey loves his robots! He pours hundreds of hours into building them and rebuilding them… Why would he throw all that away just to get me to fight with him?"

"Let me put it to you like this," the mad scientist said, putting his hands together in front of him so that they only touched at the fingertips. "Why do I go to so much trouble to get cheese even though it gets me thrown in jail every time?"

WordGirl didn't have to think too hard about that one. "Because you love cheese more than anything."

"Exactly!" He pointed at her, smiling victoriously. "I care more about cheese than I care about freedom, so I'll sacrifice my freedom for cheese. And that's exactly the way it is for Tobey. He'll sacrifice his robots for you, because he cares more about you than about his robots. You, my dear, are his main cheese."

WordGirl blinked, caught dumbstruck somewhere between confused, disgusted, and… flattered? Tobey cared more about her than his robots? That was sort of, maybe, just a little bit… sweet… in a weird, annoying, why-can't-he-just-be-normal kind of way. She took a long breath, once more trying to straighten out the tangled mess of thoughts that Two-Brains' bizarre analogy had left her, and asked in a perplexed tone, "So you're saying that… I'm cheese?"

"You're about to be," Dr. Two-Brains said with a snide smile, pointing his ray at her.

WordGirl threw up her hands in a panic, waving them forbiddingly in front of him and yelling, "Wait! I'm not finished yet!"

"Oh, come on, WordGirl! You ruined my perfect transition back into the battle!"

"Would've been more perfect if that was actually a cheese ray," inserted the Narrator.

"Mind your own cheese wax!"

"Just give me a couple more minutes," WordGirl pleaded, clasping her hands girlishly front of her and making her best puppy-dog face. "Please?"

"Ugh," Two-Brains groaned with a roll of his bloodshot eyes. "Fine."

He dropped his ray in his lap and crossed his arms, shooting his nemesis a disgruntled frown as he relinquished the floor once more.

WordGirl took a deep breath to buy time while she figured out how to present her conundrum, then carefully explained, "I understand what you're saying, but… if I'm enabling Tobey by fighting him, then what am I supposed to do? I can't just not fight him!"

"Sure you can. Just don't show up."

"But I can't just let him destroy the city!"

"So call his mom. Let her deal with him. No offense, kid, but she does a better job than you, anyway."

WordGirl blinked, making herself brush off his insult in light of how true it was. Could it really be that simple?

"Okay," she said, struggling to collect her scattered thoughts and sort through them in her head at the same time. "So when he attacks the city I just call his mom and then ignore him? Will that really make him stop being a villain?"

"Probably not," said Dr. Two-Brains unhelpfully.

WordGirl groaned. And here she was starting to think they were getting somewhere. Clenching her fists in annoyance, she angrily blasted, "So what's the point?"

"Ignoring him is just your part in keeping him from getting worse," Two-Brains explained. "If you want him to actually change, you have to pay attention to him."

"But you just said I should ignore him!"

"When he's wrecking the city you ignore him," he repeated, as though his meaning should be obvious. "You need to pay attention to him when he's not wrecking the city."

WordGirl tensed, then shuddered. She could think of few things less appealing to her than spending her free time hanging out with Tobey.

"But… how is a little extra attention going to make him not want to be evil anymore?"

"Hey, why do you think you came to me about this, WordGirl?" Two-Brains grumbled, pointing at himself with his thumb. "I was a boy genius once too, you know. I understand how this kid thinks. He's brilliant, he's misunderstood, he needs to be validated. In fact, I'd bet my left brain that's exactly why he's always causing trouble. He wants someone to recognize what he can do, even if they hate him for it."

The pink-eyed villain smiled suddenly and stared off into space as he went on. "I remember once when I was a kid my mother was too busy cooking to look at the thermal modulator I had built, so I used it to zap-fry the casserole she was making before she even got it in the oven. Turned it into a lump of charcoal instantly."

He chuckled the way most people would in remembrance of their first bicycle ride and gave a nostalgic sigh. "Classic."

"Wow," WordGirl muttered in surprise. "You did that?"

"Sure did. And that was before the mouse brain, mind you. All kids need attention, WordGirl, and I shouldn't have to tell you that smart kids need special attention. How would you feel if no one acknowledged your words unless you used them against people?"

WordGirl was caught speechless at that question. The very thought of it was painful. "Oh… wow, I… I never thought about it like that. It would be horrible."

"Well, there you have it. Be nice to him when he's good and ignore him when he's bad. Problem solved. Now, if there's nothing else you want to discuss…"

He pointed his ray gun right at her, ending the conversation with a single decisive blast. WordGirl flashed out of the way just in time, and their battle resumed. After dodging a few well aimed shots that nearly turned her into a raisin, she shouted, "Huggy, now!"

Her sidekick pounced on Dr. Two-Brains from behind, and the two of them began tottering around in a spastic mess of screams and flailing arms. The young heroine seized her chance and snatched the dehydration ray (as it should have been called) away from the mouse-brained villain. After she'd smashed it against her knee, she zipped around the room in a whirlwind that left Dr. Two-Brains tied up and Captain Huggyface once more perched safely on her back.

The mad scientist shook the dazed look from his face, then smiled as he announced, "Now that's more like it."

For once, WordGirl didn't bother to come up with a cheesy retort about how he was going to jail. As soon as the thrill of battle had ended, her thoughts had immediately turned back to the conversation she'd not yet had the chance to brood over. The advice Two-Brains had given her was simple and sensible, and yet… she wondered if she had it in her to actually do it.

With a flustered sigh, she made her decision. For the sake of the city—perhaps even the world—she had to try.

« ... »

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.

Proverbs 22:15


Look at me go! Already psych-analyzing Tobey and I haven't even introduced him into the story yet. XP I think I had a little too much fun with this chapter. ^-^

Author's Notes:

-Title Scheme If I could change two things about WordGirl, the second would probably be the difficulty level of the words she defines. Again, I totally get that the show is meant for kids much younger than I was when I first discovered it, but it still would've been nice to actually learn some new words from watching it. I'm obviously working my own word definitions into the narrative wherever the occasion strikes, but for the most part they're still words that most teens and adults will already know, just because really difficult words would be equally difficult to work into normal conversations. *-* Still, I wanted to have some fun playing with really outlandish words somewhere, so I decided on the chapter header/title format you see before you. I went with a fairly well-known word for chapter 1, since the definition was so perfect, but my goal for future chapter titles is to find words that many of us have never even heard before. ;)

-The Name Game So, spelling nazi that I am, I wanted to make sure I had the proper spelling for all of the characters' names. Unfortunately, there's no general consensus on a couple of them. DX The WordGirl wiki concedes that official sources have used both 'Huggyface' and 'Huggy Face.' As for Dr. Two-Brains, the splash panel at the beginning of several episodes have spelled it with and without a hyphen. Since even the canon itself failed to provide me with a solid answer on these, I decided to just go with my own personal preference. I tried asking the characters myself, but I couldn't understand Huggy, and DTB told me that he couldn't make up his minds. :P

-Episode References I covered a few episodes in rapid-fire sequence when WordGirl was thinking back on Tobey's past shenanigans. They were, in order of mention: 'Book Ends,' 'Department Store Tobey,' and 'By Jove, You've Wrecked My Robot.' Oh, and if you haven't seen 'By Jove, You've Wrecked My Robot' yet, please go see it! It'll be coming up again later in this story. ;)