Hey, readers! This oneshot references the episode 'Two Brains Forgets.'


Okay! I'm ready to try out my first theme challenge! You readers suggest words (preferably creative words), and from your suggestions, I'll pick one word for each letter of the alphabet and use them as prompts to write a collection of Tobecky oneshots. :3 I want the oneshots to make sense even if you haven't read any of my previous WordGirl fanfiction, so I'll do my best to ensure that any important references to my headcanon are explained, either in the story itself or in the author's notes. That being said, I do recommend reading my previous chapterfics Saving Tobey and Time to Go Home. After all, the main reason I'm writing this fic is that I was so excited to play around with the relationship I'd worked so hard to set up in my previous fics. X3 If you do skip them, be advised that those stories covered several years, and a lot can change in several years—particularly for adolescents. ;) I have much more explaining to do about the details of my vision for 26 Letters, but I'll save it for the end so it'll be easy to ignore for those who don't have time for all my rambling. :P

Aftermath [af-ter-math] – something that results or follows from an event, especially one of a disastrous or unfortunate nature; consequence.

« « « « « ж » » » » »

Tobey McCallister woke up smiling, with fading images of Becky Botsford fluttering in his mind. He remembered the day before with jubilation. It had been a dream come true! He lingered for a moment in a state of pure euphoria, but his mood quickly darkened as the analytical part of his brain began to kick into gear. A dream come true…

Could it have been… a dream?

No… That-That couldn't be! He remembered it all so clearly. He and Becky had been sitting together atop a skyscraper, talking and laughing and then… she had told him. She had told him that she felt the same way he did. She had taken his hand, looked him in the eyes, and told him right to his face. He had been so sure that it was real.

His heart began pounding nervously. He didn't want to consider that it might not have been—that it was just his twisted mind playing tricks on his lovesick heart—but he had to confess… it was not so very different from many of the dreams he'd had in the past. No matter how many times he told himself that Becky would never reciprocate his feelings, he just couldn't help holding onto a frail thread of hope.

But was it so wrong to hope? Especially now? He didn't want to backpedal on his resolve to practice humility, but—he'd saved her life last week. She'd called him a hero, and long enough ago that he was absolutely certain that hadn't been a dream. Of course, that rekindled reason to hope could conceivably be the very reason he might dream up a scenario like the one he remembered from yesterday…

Tobey swallowed. He wasn't about to simply accept that it was a dream, but he'd had so many such dreams in the past that he couldn't completely convince himself otherwise either. Biting his lip, he climbed somberly out of bed and stepped over to the window. He opened it, and was greeted by a rush of cool morning air and a calming view of his backyard, bathed in soft sunlight.

He took a deep breath, cupped his hands over his mouth and shouted, "WORDGIRL!"

It had been a long time since he'd called her like that. The action brought back memories from years ago, when he was still a villain. Becky had suggested that, rather than destroying buildings to get WordGirl's attention, he should simply call out to her and let her super-hearing do the rest. Of course, it had taken a while for that advice to sink in, but it had been the catalyst of a gradual yet enormously consequential journey for Tobey. Since then he'd given up villainy, discovered WordGirl's secret identity, graduated high school, and even started college.

He owed it all to Becky. She'd never given up on him, even when he was at his worst, and it was thanks to her faithful friendship that he was where he was today, rather than rotting in jail or planning his next pointless attack on the city. As he stood there by the window thinking about all this and waiting for her to appear, he wished harder than he'd ever wished for anything that yesterday hadn't been a dream.

Just when he was starting to think she wouldn't come, there she was, hovering forth from an afterimage of brilliant light. She smiled brightly at him, and Tobey could have sworn she was still glowing. He felt his cheeks getting warm as he stood there staring at her.

"You called?" she said, clasping her hands in front of her.

"Uh," he muttered, shaking his head to snap himself out of it. "Hey, Becky."

He spoke in earnest, without his false British accent. This was a request Becky had made of him about a year ago. It still amazed him sometimes how natural it had become to use his real voice in front of her, even in embarrassing situations like this one.

"Hey," she replied, waving gingerly.

Remembering why he'd called her, Tobey was suddenly mortified at the thought of asking her about yesterday.

What if I bring it up and it turns out it was a dream? he considered. She'd think he was a creep, not to mention delusional. He couldn't ask her about this. What was he thinking?

Averting his eyes and awkwardly twiddling his fingers, he fumbled for something to say. Finally he blurted out, "Good morning."

"It is a good morning," she said in a chipper tone. "The weather is great."

Great. He had called her from across town to talk about the weather.

"Um… Tobey," Becky said, glancing off into space and tucking her hair behind her ear, "since I'm here and it's such a nice day, what would you say to walking me home and maybe… hanging out at my house for a little while?"

Tobey hesitated for a moment. "Would I… mind?"

Becky flushed and loosely crossed her arms. "Well, it's just that Scoops and Violet are coming over, and… I wanted to tell them about what happened yesterday."

"Oh, you want to tell them about yesterday," sulked the indignant voice of the Narrator. "I wanted to know about yesterday back when it was today, and you just teased me!"

"You're still on that?" grumbled Tobey. Yesterday the disembodied voice had interrupted Tobey and Becky while they were having a delightful conversation over ice cream. He'd wanted to know what had happened while he was away, and Tobey hadn't been able to resist the fun of dangling such a huge development like a carrot in front of his metaphorical face. Becky had even gone along with it, so he hardly felt like he should feel sorry, especially if the Narrator was going to sulk about it. "If you find it so unbearable to be left out of anything, you shouldn't have gone on vacation! Why shouldn't we get a little privacy once in a while?"

"You know what? I'm not speaking to you anymore," huffed the Narrator, sounding genuinely annoyed but not entirely serious.

"You mean it?" Tobey quipped. "Oh, happy day!"

"Talk to the hand."

"What hand?!"

"Tobey, be nice," Becky gently admonished.

Tobey scoffed, but didn't persist in the argument… And then it hit him.

Wait a minute… if that incident with the Narrator happened, then… that means it ALL happened, and… that means… it wasn't a dream!

Just like that, Tobey experienced the rush of realization all over again, and it was just as amazing the second time. For a while he just stood there grinning as though the expression was riveted onto his face.

"Sooooooo…" Becky muttered, oblivious to his musings, "Scoops and Violet?"

« « « « « ж » » » » »

Becky noticed that Tobey had a spring in his step as he walked alongside her toward her house. They'd flown part of the way, so that accounted for some of it. He always got a little more color in his face and energy in his demeanor after flying. It was a bit different today, though. Today the change in him was more substantial than just a little extra pep. He had yet to pull so much as a screwdriver from any of the myriad pockets of his khaki cargo pants, and his arms swung back and forth in wide arcs at his sides, causing the long, loose sleeves of his blue sweater to flutter about his wrists. There was a freedom, a joy in his gait that Becky hadn't seen in a very long time… in fact, she wasn't completely sure she'd ever seen it quite like this.

She found herself periodically glancing askance to see the blithe smile plastered across his face, more often than not turned toward her rather than the road ahead. When that was the case she blushed and averted her eyes, frivolously wishing she'd worn something nicer than just a pink blouse and jean skirt. She'd gotten used to Tobey staring at her over the years, but in the past he'd been a little more subtle about it. Apparently he was casting off restraint now that he didn't have to worry about his attentions making her uncomfortable. Something about that was just—charming.

Huh… Tobey is charming.

Odd how that felt like such an unexpected revelation. Becky was realizing lately that there were a lot of things about Tobey which she liked, but which she had never acknowledged she liked—not until after she'd acknowledged that she liked him. Now that she'd cast off some of her own restraint and allowed herself to embrace her attachment to him, she was discovering all sorts of things about him that tugged her heartstrings. In addition to 'charming,' she was now discovering that he was also funny, pleasant, endearing, perhaps even humble… sometimes. With every new virtue she recognized and added to her list, she became that much more confident that she hadn't made a mistake. His past notwithstanding, Tobey was a good person now. She would even go so far as to say that he was a wonderful person… most of the time.

"So, why are Scoops and Violet coming over?" Tobey asked. They'd turned onto Becky's street and her house was in view.

"I already said why, remember?" Becky chuckled. "I want to tell them about yesterday."

"You have to tell them right away?"

Becky noted that he didn't sound the slightest bit nervous or embarrassed… more like he was relishing the exclusivity of the current situation and didn't want to give it up. She donned a tolerant smile, reminding herself for the millionth time to be patient with him. He'd come farther in a couple of years than most people could in a couple of decades; he could hardly be blamed for having not yet arrived. So, she patiently explained, "It's just that Violet knew I liked you and I promised I'd let her know when I told you."

"Wait, what? She knew?" Tobey exclaimed.

"Yeah," Becky affirmed.

Tobey frowned and looked down at the ground, folding his arms and muttering, "So unfair."

"Unfair?" Becky repeated, confused. "What's unfair?"

"That you told Violet before me again," Tobey grumbled.

Becky sighed and kicked a small rock from the sidewalk back into the nearby pit of similar rocks from which it had strayed. This was one of those endearing yet frustrating qualities of Tobey's which she couldn't decide if she should rebuke or not—a sort of tame jealousy of the preference she sometimes showed to her friends.

"Tobey, I hate to break it to you," she said, "but that's normal. Actually, it's pretty much universal. Like, even weird girls do that."

"Well, it's still unfair," Tobey stubbornly asserted, looking back up at her. "Why do your school buddies always get to find out your secrets before I do?"

Becky almost laughed at his silliness but then realized, with a twinge of surprise, that he was genuinely upset by this. She supposed that feeling wasn't entirely unjustified, considering how hard he'd worked and how much he'd sacrificed to earn her trust. Still, she wanted him to respect her friends, and she definitely didn't want to enforce any behaviors that smacked even vaguely of narcissism.

She thought for a moment. How can I encourage him without encouraging his behavior?

She smiled when the answer came to her. "Tell you what, Tobey? I'll tell you a secret of mine that I've never told Scoops or Violet."

Tobey perked at that, looking intrigued.

Becky leaned in close to him and whispered near his ear, "I… am WordGirl."

Tobey blinked, then met her playful grin with an irritated frown. "Why must you toy with me?"

This time she couldn't help laughing, but she was quick to contain it and earnestly explain. "Honest, Tobey, I never told them! That's what I've been trying to tell you. They both discovered my identity on their own."

Tobey straightened and gave a little gasp. "Really?"

"Yes," she said, nodding emphatically, "and you are the only person who's ever found out my secret identity on your own merit. Scoops and Violet kind of just found out by accident."

One brief glimpse of the satisfied smile that crossed Tobey's face was all Becky needed to confirm that her plan had worked. He was mollified, and she was justified. Win-win. How far they'd come from from the days when they would fight for hours and neither of them would really win, because the fight would start all over again a few days later. Becky couldn't help but smile at the thought. If someone had told her back then that she and Tobey McCallister would actually end up together, she would've called them a prevaricator… and then she probably would've defined it for them.

« « « « « ж » » » » »

Tobey had never liked Scoops—particularly after discovering that he was Becky's one-time secret crush and the first person to find out she was WordGirl. Needless to say, his opinion hardly improved when the dolt's reaction to her announcement was to grin from ear to ear and start scribbling in his notebook like it was a good joke that he wanted to remember or something.

Violet's reaction was a bit more palatable. She'd been sitting on Becky's bed when her face broke into an exuberant grin, and she hopped to the floor and charged Becky with a gleeful hug and even more gleeful squeal so suddenly that Tobey stepped back in surprise. He hadn't thought the girl's soft, wispy voice was capable of achieving that many decibels.

"Congratulations!" she exclaimed, clinging to her friend with a fierceness that seemed just as uncharacteristic of her as a girlish shriek had. Without warning, she let go of Becky, turned immediately on Tobey, and hugged him. Tobey froze in surprise.

"You earned it," Violet whispered softly in his ear before releasing him, then paused to give him a heartfelt smile before turning back to Becky. The two girls held each other's hands as they squealed, giggled, and babbled excitedly, bouncing up and down. Tobey watched them for a long moment, trying to get past the shock and process how he actually felt about that hug. It was weird to admit, but he was pretty sure he actually felt… touched. To think that this girl, who he'd hardly ever bothered to call by name, had been paying attention to him—enough so that she approved of him, and trusted him with the future of her best friend. She somehow knew how hard he'd fought for Becky, and she actually thought he'd earned this chance to be with her.

Tobey was suddenly struck with an acute awareness of just how poorly acquainted he was with Becky's closest friends, despite having known them just as long as he'd known Becky. That had never bothered him before, but now, as he watched his dear girl sharing a moment of feminine euphoria with her best friend, a familiar twinge of conviction prickled his conscience.

Reluctantly he considered, I should probably… at least try to… learn to like them… a tiny bit.

His ego complained at the thought.

"Oooookay," the nosy reporter announced, speaking for the first time as he looked up from his notebook. "Let's hear the details!"

Becky turned from Violet, eyes bugging, and she launched into a blushing, spluttering, gesticulating refusal. Tobey, on the other hand, just glared. Perhaps now that he and Becky were a couple he'd need to put a little more effort into his relationships with her friends, but being nice to Scoops was too much to bite off all at once.

I'll start with Violet, he decided. Being nice to her shouldn't be too hard.

"Oh, come on, Becky!" Scoops pressed in a fun-loving tone. "You know I'm not gonna tell anyone! I just have to get the story out of my system or it'll haunt 'till the day I die!"

Tobey rolled his eyes, and officially gave himself permission to vent his frustration. "Well, I can't speak for Becky, but that sounds to me like an extra incentive not to tell you anything," he said in an annoyed British accent. He still used it whenever anyone other than his mother, Becky, or Bob was present.

Scoops turned to him wearing a gratifyingly disappointed frown. He bounced back quickly, though, and muttered with a shrug, "Suit yourselves." He turned his attention once more to his notebook and tauntingly added, "I guess I'll just have to use my imagination, then."

He shot them one last playful smirk, then went back to scribbling away in his notepad whilst muttering unintelligible narrations. To be extra annoying he occasionally rattled off some conspicuous proclamation to the effect of, "Wow, you guys wouldn't believe what happened yesterday!"

Flabbergasted, Tobey turned to Becky, hoping for a clue as to how he should react to this nonsense. She was staring at Scoops with an expression that seemed to be hovering somewhere between 'nervous' and 'irked.'

"Remind me again why your nosy reporter friend was one of the first names on your 'need-to-tell' list," Tobey jabbed.

Violet let loose a polite little half-chuckle and averted her eyes when Tobey frowned at her.

Scoops whistled emphatically and continued writing even as he looked up from his notebook. "What a story! Man, you can't make up stuff this good!"

"Okay, fine, we'll tell you!" Becky conceded. "Yesterday I was flying over the city, and I saw Tobey sitting by himself on a roofto—"

"Holy cannoli, stop the presses!" Scoops exclaimed, staring down at his notepad with a look of sheer dread painted across his face. He pointed an accusatory finger that oscillated between Tobey and Becky, and said with earnest conviction, "You two can't be together!"

The room was silent for a moment.

Tobey blinked, then leered at Scoops. "Pardon?" he asked menacingly, clenching his hands into fists.

"Yeah, you want to run that by us again?" Becky added, frowning and crossing her arms.

"Read this headline," Scoops said, holding up his notepad and tapping it with his pencil.

"You mean the headline you just wrote?" Becky asked.

"Just read it!" Scoops insisted, foisting the notebook into her hands.

Morbidly curious, Tobey scooted in next to her to read over her shoulder. Violet did likewise. Becky read aloud anyway. "'An Unlikely Pair: WordGirl's Secret Identity Revealed?' Scoops, what is this?"

Scoops babbled at ludicrous-speed. "If Tobey starts dating Becky instead of WordGirl even though he likes WordGirl and WordGirl is Becky but no one is supposed to know that it might seem kind of weird that he would date a girl who isn't WordGirl unless WordGirl and that girl were the same person right?"

Everyone blinked.

"Could you… repeat that?" whispered Violet.

"Only slow enough for human comprehension?" added Tobey.

"And with pauses so I can visualize some punctuation?" offered Becky.

Scoops gave an exasperated huff, as though it was their fault he was a babbling buffoon. "Here's the thing," he said, straightforward and undeterred, "back when Tobey was a villain, everyone knew he had a huge crush on WordGirl."

Tobey was so taken off guard by the accusation that his denial plunged back down his throat, and it took a moment of stuttering and grasping for words before he was able to retrieve it. "Why—Why that's preposterous! I wasn't—!"

"EVERYONE knew you had a huge crush on WordGirl," insisted the Narrator.

"Oh, now you're talking to us!" Tobey blustered at the ceiling.

"He's right, though," Violet agreed.

Tobey blinked, feeling his face go warm as he stood speechless before this unexpected inquisition.

Tobey turned to Becky, hoping that at least she hadn't read his ten-year-old self like an open book. Unfortunately, she had already turned her attention back to Scoops. "Okay, so everyone knew Tobey liked WordGirl. So what? Why is that such a huge problem that we 'can't be together?'"

"Read the article," Scoops said.

Tobey grit his teeth and resumed following along over Becky's shoulder as she read aloud. "'As any reporter can tell you, people have always been hopelessly drawn to the pursuit of examining one another's love lives, and by far the most hopeless example of this in recent history is an unexpected twist in the story of the infamous Theodore Tobey McCallister."

That was the end of the page. Tobey glanced up at Becky for just a second and watched her turn to the next one with a puzzled frown. "'His short yet eventful career as one of the city's foremost villains would be enough to make him stand out in anyone's mind, but heaven knows that isn't actually what we all remember him for. Considering the lengthy and morbidly fascinating game of cat-and-mouse that played out between McCallister and his diametrically opposed love interest,"—Becky turned the page and seamlessly continued, her voice beginning to sound nervous—"it's hard not to compare the girl who he pursued for years with the girl who he's suddenly decided to settle down with. Despite what seems at first like a staggering gap between them, one can't help but notice a few shocking similarities.'"

The 'article' ended there. The rest of the page was filled with a large, circled question mark.

Holding his breath, Tobey turned once more to look at Becky. She looked worried.

"Wow, Scoops," Violet murmured, sounding impressed. "You wrote all that in two minutes?"

"Sure did!" Scoops affirmed. "I've gotta say, for a joke article, it actually came out pretty—"

"Not the time, you two!" Becky snapped, flashing her friends a serious frown. She was still holding Scoops's notepad, and the pages had begun to crinkle in her grip.

Tobey swallowed, too aghast to muster up his usual annoyance at Becky's friends. He wanted to. Oh, he wanted so badly to hate Scoops for bringing this issue to light, but he couldn't. It wasn't Scoops's fault. It was his.

"You're right," Becky said, her voice heavy with despair as she vocalized the thoughts already haunting Tobey's mind. "If Tobey and I start dating, people will wonder what happened to his crush on WordGirl… and my secret identity will be exposed."

Tobey stared at Becky's hopeless expression and balled his hands into fists in frustration. To think that after everything he'd done to win her over, his past was still threatening to come between them. It wasn't fair.

"Don't worry, Becky," Violet said, stepping forward and taking her friend steadily by the shoulders. "There's always a way to make things work."

"She's right," said Scoops. "This doesn't actually mean you two can't be together, it just means you'll need a good cover story for your relationship, that's all."

Relief washed over Tobey, and for a brief moment, he actually liked Scoops… a tiny bit. The young couple sighed deeply in unison, and in spite of the weighty situation, Tobey felt a selfish little thrill that Becky had been just as worried as he'd been.

After taking a deep breath, Becky softly murmured, "Okay, so we need a cover story… I guess now we just need to figure out what it should be."

Scoops lit up with excitement and took back his notebook from her. "Leave that to me!" he said, brandishing his pencil with a flourish.

« ... »

So there they were. Four teenagers sitting in a circle on the floor in Becky's room trying to figure out how to maneuver public speculation around a clandestine romance between a superhero and a former villain. Tobey couldn't decide whether he should feel amused or doomed.

"Okay, let's see," Scoops announced, smiling enthusiastically with his pencil in hand and his notebook waiting in his lap. "So we need an explanation that allows Becky and Tobey to date each other without making it obvious that Becky and WordGirl are the same person." He picked up his notebook and started writing, but didn't stop talking. "Personally, I think the simplest solution would be to keep Becky Botsford out of it and have Tobey and WordGirl get together."

"What?" Becky exclaimed, sounding surprised and perhaps even bit offended.

"It fixes everything," Scoops explained matter-of-factly. "You wouldn't have to worry about your secret identity being threatened because your secret identity wouldn't even be part of the equation!"

"Huh," Tobey muttered, surprised by his own reaction. "I can hardly believe I'm saying this, Scoops, but… that's not a terrible idea."

"But I don't want to be your girlfriend as WordGirl!" protested Becky.

"Why not? You are WordGirl."

"But the press would have a field day with that!"

"Well, of course they would! It's a great story," Scoops agreed, exuberantly spreading a hand across his field of view as he hypothetically read, "'WordGirl Has Finally Met Her Match!'" He looked at the others with an expectant smile, hand still in the air, and said, "Get it?"

Becky blinked a withering grimace at him.

Tobey thought it best not to say anything, but once again, he found himself kind of liking Scoops's idea. At the very least, he didn't see why Becky took such issue with it.

"Let me try that again," Becky said, "The press would have a field day with that at the expense of my ability to go anywhere as WordGirl without getting barraged by annoying questions!"

Tobey wilted and reluctantly admitted, "I suppose you have a point there."

"Not to mention you'd always have to hide your relationship when Becky isn't WordGirl," Violet inserted, looking at Tobey as she added, "You could never hold her hand, or say sweet things to her, or express any kind of obvious affection for her except when she's in costume as WordGirl and probably busy fighting crime."

Tobey blinked at her, then immediately rounded on Scoops. "In that case, I take it back, Scoops, that is a terrible idea!"

Scoops looked a bit disappointed but shrugged it off quickly. "Okay then. It's your love life on the line," he muttered as he tore off the paper, crumpled it up, and threw it over his shoulder.

A loud chimp-like screech called everyone's attention to the window, where Bob climbed into view, looking indignant. He hopped into the room and clambered over to Becky, chittering and squawking in monkey-speak.

"Oh, my goodness, Huggy, I'm so sorry," she exclaimed, jumping to her feet. "I must've accidentally left you behind when—" She cut herself off, looking suddenly confused. "Wait, I didn't forget you this time, did I? I don't remember leaving you anywhere…"

"Oh, actually it was the writer this time," said the Narrator. "She forgot to write him into the scene until now."

Bob glowered and shook his fist at the ceiling.

"Well, hey, you're here now," said Becky encouragingly as she put a friendly hand on his shoulder. "Wanna help us brainstorm? We're trying to come up with a cover story so that Tobey and I can be together without putting WordGirl's identity in jeopardy."

His bad mood vaporized in an instant and he clapped his hands, grinning and chirping what sounded like an affirmative.

Tobey shook his head in surprise. "Wait, he knows about us?"

"Of course," said Becky. "I told him as soon as I got home last night."

"Yeah, that's how I found out," grumbled the Narrator. "Apparently I wasn't important enough to tell in person, but the monkey sidekick was. It's not like it matters if the Narrator doesn't know what's going on, right?"

"Oh, will you drop it already?" Tobey huffed, folding his arms in annoyance.

Bob squeaked in Tobey's direction and gave him a thumbs-up.

Becky translated, "He says congratulations."

"Why, thank you, Bob," Tobey said. "Nice to know that someone around here can act sportsmanlike after being forgotten."

"Humph," muttered the Narrator.

"Do you have any ideas about this dilemma, Bob?" Violet asked.

The monkey frowned in thought for a moment, then raised a finger and babbled a surprisingly short explanation. Becky made a bewildered face and then proceeded to interpret. "He says, 'Tobey slips on a banana peel and Becky saves him from falling in a puddle.'"

Tobey stared incredulously at Bob's smiling face. "That's it?"

"Yep," said Becky.

Scoops grimaced and tactfully said, "I… don't think the general public would be satisfied by that explanation."

The door opened, admitting Becky's father holding a tray full of food. "Knock, knock," he greeted happily, though Tobey noted that he hadn't actually knocked. "Who's hungry? I brought Snappy Snaps and cheese logs."

Huggy shrieked excitedly and snatched the tray from him, then set it down on the floor and sat in front of it, attacking the snacks with gusto.

"So, what're you kids up to?" asked Mr. Botsford.

"Becky and Tobey are dating!" Scoops blurted out.

Bob froze and dropped a cookie that had been on its way to his mouth.

Tobey's eyes flew to Scoops in furious surprise. "Excuse me, Todd, but could you be any more maladroit?!"

Mr. Botsford gasped. "They're dating?!"

Becky leaped to her feet and said in a panic, "Dad, I can expl—"

"Oh, wow! It's finally happened." Mr. Botsford babbled, smiling and clutching both hands to his face in excitement. "I've got to go tell your mother!"

"Wait, Dad, don't—!"

"Bye, kids," Mr. Botsford said with a chipper wave, completely ignoring Becky's protest. He danced out the door and slammed it behind him. For a dumbstruck moment, Becky just stood there staring at the door, unmoving.

Tobey slowly turned his eyes back to Scoops, seething in silence. Fortunately Mr. Botsford hadn't seemed upset by the news, but still… that was not how he'd wanted Becky's parents to find out about this.

Out of nowhere Violet innocently asked, "What does 'maladroit' mean?"

"It means—" Becky began, but Tobey cut her off.

"Please, allow me." He glared at Scoops and reproachfully defined, "It means doing something without any skill or tact, like a thoughtless, bungling imbecile."

Becky turned on Tobey, frowning and crossing her arms as she returned to her seat. "You know, Tobey," she reprimanded, "there's an art to defining words without making them sound mean."

Tobey groaned and flopped backward onto the floor, but didn't argue. "Let's just get back to business, shall we?"

Scoops was evidently way ahead of him, as Tobey could hear him scribbling on his notebook.

"How aboooooout," he drawled with a sparkle of new inspiration in his voice, "WordGirl goes public with her secret identity?!"

"What?!" Becky blasted in disgruntled amazement. "When was that ever an option?"

"Oh, come on, it might not be so bad," spurred Scoops. "Other superheroes have done it."

Tobey was still lying on the floor facing the ceiling, but he still rolled his eyes. To make sure his feelings got through, he sardonically muttered, "Fictitious superheroes from ridiculous television programs, perhaps."

Becky exhaled loudly and went quiet for a moment, as though composing herself. Then she said with restraint in her tone, "Look, Scoops, we've already been over this. There are about a million reasons why I can't go the 'reveal my identity to the world' route. To give a random example, that route is a paparazzi explosion that would ruin my life!"

Tobey rolled his head to get a look at Scoops, who answered Becky with a reluctant nod and tore off the paper, crumbling it up as he muttered, "Okay, that's a 'no' on the identity reveal."

Tobey rolled his head the other way to look at Becky, and she met his eyes with an incredulous expression that matched his own feelings. Nice to know they were on the same page about some things.

Bob grabbed a cheese log and happily gobbled it up.

Tobey shook his head and decided to channel his flustered energy into constructive thinking. It was about time this snafu saw an idea from someone who had some sense. "Here's a thought. We could—"

The door flew open with a bang, Tobey bolted upright, and Mrs. Botsford came screaming into the room… literally.

"Oh, Becky, I'm so HAPPY for you!" She swept her daughter off the floor and bound her up in a very uncomfortable-looking bear hug.

"Uh… Thanks, Mom," Becky muttered—with some difficulty by the sound of it. "You're not… surprised?"

"Surprised?" Mrs. Botsford chuckled. "Oh, sweetheart, I've been trying to pair you two off for months!"

Tobey gaped at her. On sheer, mindless impulse, he loudly asked, "Why?!"

The idea that Sally Botsford had actually wanted this turn for Becky was so bizarre that Tobey's mind was repelled by it, even as his heart rejoiced. It wasn't as though he'd wanted the woman to be against him, but in all honesty, it's what he would've expected. Surely a mother like her would want better for her daughter than a troubled boy who used to destroy buildings for fun. Why on Earth would she try to pair them off?

He immediately felt stupid for asking, though, and blushed accordingly as Becky and her mother both turned their heads to look at him—the former with pity, the latter with surprise. Mrs. Botsord still had Becky all wrapped up in her arms, but in response to Tobey's outburst she actually released her daughter and came over to him. Tobey tensed as she crouched down in front of him, irrationally afraid of what she might say. She looked into his eyes from less than an arm's length away and placed a steady hand on his shoulder.

"Because I know your mother very well," she said, smiling tenderly. "And your mother knows you far better than you realize, Tobey."

She gave him a meaningful wink and affectionately brushed aside his bangs with her fingers like his own mother might. Tobey could only stare dumbfounded back at her, too stunned to even move, let alone speak.

The woman rose to her feet and quietly withdrew, and Tobey only now noticed the rest of Becky's family standing in the doorway of the room. Mr. Botsford was smiling fondly with unfocused eyes, hands resting on the shoulders of the 11-year-old boy in front of him. TJ, as a point of contrast, glared directly at Tobey with his arms crossed tightly over his chest.

"We'll leave you all alone now," Becky's mother said, having made her way to her husband's side.

"Just so long as we get the whole scoop later," stipulated her father, pointing at Becky for emphasis.

"Don't worry," said Scoops, holding up his notebook. "It's all being meticulously documented."

"Even the maladroit parts," Violet added with a smile, pointing at the pile of crumpled-up papers.

"Good man," Mr. Botsford said, winking at Scoops, and with that, the parents left. TJ remained just long enough to make the 'I'm watching you' gesture at Tobey before an adult hand grabbed his arm and dragged him off.

Tobey stared at the open door until Bob got up and closed it. Even then, it was a little while before he could pry his eyes away. First that hug from Violet and now this unfathomably warm acceptance by Becky's parents? He was actually grateful that TJ had showed him the appropriate disdain, otherwise he might've started to reconsider the possibility that he was dreaming.

"So, what was your idea, Tobey?" asked Scoops.

Tobey snapped back to reality upon hearing his name and distantly muttered, "Hmm? What?"

"Your idea," Scoops repeated, notebook at the ready. "Do you remember what it was?"

"Oh! Right. I was going to suggest that we keep the whole thing a secret. I could make us some robotic disguises for when we're together in public so that no one can recognize us."

"Thanks but no thanks, Tobey," Becky said with an appreciative smile. "It's hard enough maintaining one secret identity."

Tobey put a loose fist to his chin, thinking hard. "Well… what if I built you a special robot disguise that makes you look like Becky whenever you're WordGirl and WordGirl whenever you're Becky?"

Becky's appreciative smile vanished. She slowly turned her head away from Tobey and stared blankly into space, while everyone else stared right at him looking gobsmacked.

"I've got it!" Becky suddenly announced, clapping her hands together.

"What is it?" Scoops asked, ripping off the page that presumably contained Tobey's contribution.

Becky smiled at her audience and explained dramatically, as if narrating a written script. "Tobey is sitting in the car one day thinking about WordGirl and how much he's grown and matured since he first started to like her. Suddenly it dawns on him that he hasn't seen much of her since he stopped being a villain, and to his surprise, he realizes that he hasn't even missed her much."

Becky tensed as if preparing to pounce on something and started talking faster and more seriously. "While he's mulling over these thoughts, a malfunctioning vehicle spins out of control and hits the car he's in, causing it to veer off course and collide with a telephone pole."

Violet gasped, as though she were listening to a true account. One hand flew to her mouth. "Poor Tobey!"

Tobey slowly turned to look at her with one eyebrow raised. Beside him, Scoops was silently taking notes.

"He wakes up in the hospital," continued Becky, "and the attending nurse explains to him that the injuries he sustained in the crash were so bad that they didn't think he would make it. Being confronted all at once by the fragility of life and the miracle of his survival has a sobering effect on Tobey, and he resolves to spend his time in the hospital reflecting on his life. During his long, slow recovery, he is periodically visited by Becky Botsford, a concerned longtime friend of his."

Violet took in a breath of awe. "Ooooh…"

Bob was gobbling down Snappy Snaps like so much buttered popcorn as he watched Becky, completely enthralled.

Becky raised a hand to her heart, pouring even more feeling into her voice. "He is touched by her kindness and finds himself thinking back on all the time they spent together in the past and how much he's always enjoyed her company. It isn't long before he starts missing her when she isn't there—far more than he ever missed WordGirl." A rosy blush colored her cheeks as she launched into her climax. "Then, in a moment of clarity, he realizes that the one he cares for isn't WordGirl. It never was. WordGirl was just a convenient celebrity for him to divert feelings that he didn't know how to process."

She closed her eyes, smiling tenderly, and added the final touch. "But now, he's old enough and wise enough to accept that Becky is the one he's loved all along."

Becky opened her eyes and looked expectantly at her friends.

"Not bad," said Scoops, still working on his notes. "It would need some tweaks, but I could definitely work with that."

"It was beautiful," Violet complimented in a shaky voice with shimmering eyes that somehow looked twice their usual size.

"Seems a little convoluted, don't you think?" said the Narrator.

Becky frowned and crossed her arms. "No, convoluted means extremely complicated or hard to follow."

"And… you don't think your story was like that at all?"

"Nope. Not at all," Becky said with a confident shake of her head.

After a brief pause, the Narrator said, "Ooookay, then."

Becky huffed and turned with a smile to the boy in question. "What do you think, Tobey?"

Tobey wasn't looking at her. To be honest, he had barely been listening. Instead, he was counting on his fingers all the details he needed to remember in order to pass off this story. He had run out of fingers.

"Um… hold on," he muttered, "So… I realize I love Becky because I miss her more than WordGirl during a long period in which I'm hospitalized after a horrible accident which nearly kills me in the middle of a soul-searching moment and… Wait… It was a car accident—Is my mom okay?"

"Uh… yeah." Becky said with a nod, looking disappointed by his summary of her story.

"Oh," Scoops said with a slight grin. "Ha! I almost forgot Tobey would actually need to remember all that."

"For the rest of his life, I might add," the Narrator pointed out.

"Not to mention we'd have to get his mom in on the plan," added Scoops, "being that she would've been the one driving the car and all."

"Well, we might not have to," said Becky with a forced hopeful tone.

The room was quiet for a moment as everyone stared at her. Finally Violet quietly said, "I think we would have to."

"Okay, just to be clear," Tobey cut in, "we're staking WordGirl's secret identity on my mother's ability to accurately recall something that didn't happen."

"Only for the rest of her life, though," the Narrator persisted. "No big deal. Certainly not convoluted at all."

The room went quiet again, and there was a feeling of finality to the silence.

Scoops broke it by ripping a few pages from his notepad and crumpling them up as he regretfully murmured, "Shame… I was actually looking forward to publishing that story."

He morosely tossed the paper ball onto the pile, looked at the snack tray with only a single cheese log left on it, and immediately perked up. "Wait! How about this? WordGirl is locked in yet another epic battle with Dr. Two-Brains! He blasts his cheese ray at her, but Tobey jumps in the way to save her—"

"And I get turned into cheese?" Tobey cut in.

Scoops ignored him. "But THEN Becky jumps out in front of Tobey to save him—"

"And I get turned into cheese?" Becky cut in this time.

The Narrator condescendingly quipped, "This is getting cheesier by the minute."

"No one gets turned into cheese!" Scoops yelled. "But Tobey is so touched that Becky was willing to risk her life for him, he renounces his crush on WordGirl and falls for Becky instead!"

Bob smiled and piped in with an enthusiastic series of squeals. Becky promptly translated, "He wants to know if he can be the one who disables the cheese ray."

"Sure, Bob," said Violet.

Tobey spun on her and quickly amended, "No, not 'sure, Bob' because that's not going to happen!"

"Oh, come on! It's a great story," Scoops playfully insisted. "It's got action, suspense, drama, and Dr. Two-Brains! Just think of how cool it would look in the newspaper!"

"Scoops, you do realize that Dr. Two-Brains reads the newspaper?" Becky pointed out.

Scoops deflated instantly and mumbled, "Oh… I didn't think about that."

"Do you think about anything?" asked Tobey.

"Well, how about this instead?" Scoops barreled forward, undeterred. "Mr. Big creates an amnesia ray!"

"Wouldn't that cause the same newspaper problem from the Dr. Two-Brains idea?" asked Violet, noting something relevant for once.

"Aha!" Scoops exclaimed, pointing dramatically. "It would, if we didn't use the amnesia ray itself to explain why Mr. Big can't remember what happened! Huh? Huh?"

Becky fixed a baffled stare on him and enigmatically murmured, "Wow."

Scoops continued without missing a beat. "So Mr. Big tries to shoot WordGirl with the amnesia ray, but Tobey jumps in the way to save her, and it erases his memories! Since he doesn't even know who WordGirl is anymore, he can't exactly have a crush on her, can he? But then Becky steps in and helps him put his life back together after he lost all his memories, so he naturally falls for her instead!"

Tobey wasted no time in tearing this new travesty to shreds. "Then wouldn't I have to pretend I have amnesia for the rest of my life?"

"That shouldn't be too hard, right?"

Tobey glared at him, biting his tongue for Becky's sake.

"It's a good thought, Scoops," Violet said patiently, "but maybe we should avoid any ideas that would force Tobey to fake an important part of his personality for his whole life."

"He could handle it," Scoops asserted with a flick of his wrist. "He's already faked a British accent for his whole life."

Tobey glared at him even harder, and this time he didn't hold his tongue. Becky would understand. "You know what? Just for that, I absolutely refuse." For dramatic flair, he crossed his arms and turned his nose up at Scoops.

"But it would be so interesting!"

"Scoops, we don't want to make the story interesting," Becky explained. "The goal is to keep people from wanting to know more about it, so ideally it should be as uninteresting as possible."

Scoops threw up his hands in frustration. "Well, jeez, why didn't you tell me that at the beginning?!" He immediately set upon his notebook and started bombarding the discard pile with new paper balls.

Becky donned an amused smile and added, "There's also the fact that Dr. Two-Brains has already made an amnesia ray."

Scoops's hand froze mid-throw and his gaze snapped up to Becky. "Omigosh, really?!"

"N-Never mind. Forget it," Becky ironically muttered.

"No, that's perfect! We could actually use the ray on Tobey, and that way he wouldn't even have to pretend!"

The room was filled with the most dumbstruck silence yet. Everyone, even Violet, stared at Scoops as if he was the member of the group who was from another planet.

"He's joking, right?" Tobey said at last, too bewildered to even sound angry. "Someone please tell me he's joking, I honestly can't tell."

Without confirming or denying Tobey's inquiry, Scoops tossed the crumpled paper in his hand to the pile and muttered, "All right, so that's a 'no' on the amnesia ray."

The journalist sighed, his enthusiastic spark finally beginning to wane. "How about this?" he grumbled, "we fake Tobey's death. Then he dyes his hair, changes his name, and stops using his British…"

He trailed off when he noticed the flabbergasted faces all staring at him, and preemptively muttered, "All right, all right. I get it."

He tore yet another page from his notepad, crumbled it up, and chucked it onto the pile, which Tobey noticed was growing fairly large.

Then, for the first time since the discourse had begun, Scoops actually closed his notebook. He heaved a resigned sigh and said, "Well, I'm stumped. Anyone else have anything?"

Fifteen minutes later the whole creative team had given in to the despair of writer's block, and four teens and a monkey all lay sprawled across Becky's floor like beached whales resigned to their fate.

Bob lackadaisically squeaked one last suggestion, which Becky interpreted with matching lack of vigor. "Bob says, 'Maybe Tobey could wear the costume he got from the Lexicon ship. He could be WordBoy, and become WordGirl's second sidekick.'"

Bob was referring to a suit Tobey had acquired during their recent space adventure with WordGirl. It had become a souvenir of sorts. Amazing how fast things could go back to depressingly normal.

"With that defeating the purpose," Tobey listlessly grumbled, "I'd rather just go with the idea of dating WordGirl."

"Which still isn't an option, by the way," Becky noted.

"And that was my first idea," said Scoops, "meaning we've come full circle and still have nothing."

The group heaved a collective sigh—everyone except Violet. After a moment of silence, she suddenly spoke up. "I don't think that's true."

"What do you mean?" Becky asked.

Tobey was just curious enough to sit up and look at Violet, who began twiddling her thumbs on her stomach as she explained. "Well, we might be back to square one, but I wouldn't say we have nothing. Everyone's made good points and had some relevant thoughts. Maybe we're just approaching the problem from the wrong angle."

Scoops sat up too and smiled at his girlfriend, his spark rekindled as he picked up his notepad and hopefully said, "You have a new idea, then?"

Violet was quiet for a moment, then spoke slowly, as though carefully stitching the words together before saying them. "Maybe instead of trying to make it believable for Tobey to fall for Becky, we should just explain how… Becky eventually fell for Tobey."

Becky sat up. "You mean like… it actually happened? Didn't we all agree that made it super-obvious I was WordGirl?"

"Not necessarily," Violet quietly argued, closing her eyes as if she were visualizing something. "Think about it from the perspective of the people you're trying to mislead. Everyone knew Tobey liked WordGirl, but no one thought they'd actually end up together. On the other hand, Tobey has gone to school with Becky since they were ten years old."

Bob rose now, and he uttered a thoughtful noise that sounded almost like a purr.

Violet opened her eyes, and at long last she herself got up and gracefully folded her hands in her lap before she warmly concluded, "Tobey stopped being a villain almost two years ago, and he's matured a lot since then. Considering how much he's grown, would it be so strange for Becky to warm up to him?"

"Huh," muttered Scoops. Though he'd prepared his notebook at the beginning of Violet's discourse, he hadn't touched pencil to it even once. "When you put it like that… I think you're right."

"Me, too," Becky agreed in an awed voice.

Tobey regarded Violet with an earnest, reverent stare. "You mean… she would fall for me?"

Rather than answering, Violet looked at Becky and smiled expectantly.

Becky blinked back at her, then turned to Tobey and tentatively said, "Well… Yeah, I guess."

Tobey blushed. He was so taken by the unexpected flutter of solace in his heart that he didn't even bother to use his accent when he softly murmured, "I like that idea."

Scoops and Violet both gawked at him for a moment, then they looked at each other and smiled.

"But wait," Becky cut in, forbiddingly raising her hands. She sounded both hopeful and skeptical, as though she was hearing something that sounded too good to be true. "Wouldn't people still wonder what happened to his crush on WordGirl?"

"Not if you explain what happened," offered Scoops. "Tobey's fourteen. It actually makes a lot of sense for him to be letting go of a celebrity crush by now."

Violet chimed in once more with, "It also makes sense that he would fall for a girl who has things in common with WordGirl, because they would be the things he liked about her in the first place. If anyone were to point out any of the similarities between Becky and WordGirl, that would be a perfectly sound explanation."

Scoops, his spark now completely revived, began fervently scrawling in his notebook as he vocalized what he was writing. "So, in summary—Tobey went good, let go of his unattainable crush on WordGirl because he got old enough to figure out that it was just a childish fantasy, and then fell for a nice smart girl his age who he's known for years and has chemistry with."

"And then she fell for him," Violet murmured dreamily, closing her eyes whilst clasping her hands together in her lap. "And they lived happily ever after."

Tobey smiled. Happily ever after

Becky blinked, then grinned. "That… actually sounds… perfect! What do you think, Tobey? …Tobey?"

He'd heard her in the back of his mind, but at the moment he wasn't all there. He was lost in a daydream, imagining a future with the love of his life that required almost no pretenses to maintain. The freedom of it was intoxicating. It took a moment before Becky's voice stirred his conscious mind, and he realized that he'd been staring off into space with a swooning expression.

Just barely managing to remember Becky's question, he instinctively blurted out, "I love it…"

A little pang of bashfulness jolted him the rest of the way back to reality. He coughed and composed himself, switching back to his accent and trying his best to resume his usual confident demeanor as he said, "I mean, yes, I—I think it'll do."

Scoops snorted a partly-restrained chuckle, but Tobey quickly lost the right to be annoyed by it when Becky did the same thing a moment later.

"All right, it's settled, then," Scoops announced. "The cover story is the truth minus the part about Becky being WordGirl."

The sound of his voice was, for once, like music to Tobey's ears.

Bob cheered and snatched up the last cheese log, devouring it in celebration. Even the Narrator seemed to have been wrest from his bad mood as he casually said, "All right. Nice work, you two."

"Oh, thank you!" Becky shouted, abruptly hugging Scoops and just as abruptly letting go of him to turn and hug Violet. "Thank you both so much!"

Tobey immediately squelched the little snarl of jealousy that reared its ugly head and chose instead to express the stronger emotion in his heart—the one he had a right to feel.

"Yes…" he muttered with an awkward nod. "Our… sincerest thanks."

It seemed weird to be thanking them, but he truly was grateful. For all his grumbling and contentiousness, they had stuck it out and ultimately rescued him from a mess he'd gotten himself into. He couldn't help feeling a surge of respect for both of them after something like that.

"No problem," Scoops said nonchalantly, putting away his notebook and beginning to gather up the pile of wadded paper balls on the floor.

"Our pleasure," Violet said more elegantly, clasping her hands in front of her skirt like a noble lady. She then turned and joined Scoops in cleaning up the floor. Tobey watched the two of them with newborn fascination, noticing for the first time just how uncanny the contrast between them was. They were so different that their relationship didn't outwardly seem to make sense… but then, who was Tobey to think such a thing? If ever there was living proof that opposites attract, it was him.

To his own surprise, he found himself wondering things about Becky's friends that had never even entered his mind before. How long had they been a couple? Did they ever fight? Did Scoops adore Violet the same way Tobey adored Becky?

Tobey marveled. Before today those two had been nothing more to him than a frustrating, unavoidable extension of Becky. Now, he truly saw them as people. Strong, interesting, intelligent people, who he not only respected, but actually liked.

A tiny bit, at least.

« « « « « ж » » » » »

The day after the brainstorm with Scoops and Violet, Becky sat diligently at her desk trying to focus on her homework. It was pretty difficult, not because of the work itself, but because her mind was still swimming with everything that had happened over the past two weeks. Between the harrowing space adventure when Tobey had saved her life and the less terrifying but equally monumental beginning of her new journey with him, Becky was finding it extremely challenging to settle her mind on something as mundane as homework.

A light tapping on the window behind her easily pulled Becky's attention away from her math book, and she turned around to see Tobey waving at her from just outside her window. Thrilled and bewildered, she rushed over and flung the window open. She looked down at Tobey's feet and saw that he was standing on a hovering box-shaped robot which she recognized as the 'Fridgeratron,' a drone which he had built for the sole purpose of scouring the Earth for ice cream. The sight of it made her smile, but not nearly so much as the sight of him.

"May I come in?" he asked, his voice soft, sincere, and accent-free.

"Of course," Becky said, stepping aside so that he could hop into the room. The Fridgeratron waited outside.

Wasting no time, Tobey produced a small blue envelope and held it eagerly out to Becky.

"What's this?" she asked as she took it from him.

"I know that we settled on a cover story," he said, his face coloring a bit, "but I thought I'd write this for you anyway. You know, in case you ever need 'proof' to show someone."

Curious and excited, Becky carefully opened the envelope and began reading the letter inside.

My dearest Becky,

I was once fairly certain that WordGirl was the best thing ever to happen to me. Now I am absolutely certain that you were. Without the compassion you showed me when I was at my worst, I would not be the person I am today. You were kind to me when I was cruel, and you were merciful when I was at fault. You were a friend to me when I deserved nothing better than enmity, and I could never thank you enough for the grace you've shown me. I believe with all my heart that your words saved my life, just as WordGirl saves countless lives every day. You are more a hero to me now than she ever was before I knew you.

When I told you that I love you, I scarcely expected you to believe me, let alone to accept my feelings and give me a chance to prove them to you. I don't know if I can ever become the person you deserve, but I shall spare no effort in trying, and I will begin by making you this promise. My heart, like my eternal gratitude, is yours and only yours. No other girl, whether from the Earth, the stars, or the heavens themselves, could ever replace you, my angel.

So, God as my witness, the mistakes and misguided passions of the villain Tobey McCallister are behind me, and they will remain there. I have no desire to return to my past, because you are my future, and words cannot describe how eagerly I await what you have in store for me.

Sincerely Yours,


Becky stared at the letter with tears in her eyes, too stunned to speak, and too overwhelmed for a moment to even respire. Tobey's words had literally taken her breath away. Heart pounding, she unfroze with a gasp and looked up at Tobey. He was staring fondly at her with a warm, eager smile.

"See what I did with the wording?" he asked, moving to her side and pointing at the beginning of the letter. "Where it says, 'Now I am absolutely certain that you were,' it looks like the emphasis is supposed to be on 'you,' but it's really supposed to be on 'were,' and that changes the whole meaning! Then I did something similar down here with—"

He stopped abruptly as Becky threw herself at him, wrapping her arms tightly around him. Tears were flowing freely now, and she couldn't repress the warm smile blazing across her face as she snuggled against Tobey's chest. She could hear his heart start to beat faster.

"Becky," he said in a choked voice, "you're crushing me."

"I'm sorry!" she exclaimed, releasing him instantly. Before she'd completely pulled away, however, he drew his own arms around her and held her in place.

"Don't be sorry," he said. "It's sort of appropriate, isn't it? You 'crushing' me?"

Becky gave a faint chuckle and rested contentedly against him. There was a vigorous passion, yet a respectful gentleness in the way he touched her. He held her tightly and reverently, as one might hold something that was both delicate and precious.

"Thank you, Tobey," Becky spluttered, her voice quavering.

No more words were needed after that, and for a long, wonderful while, they simply stood there quietly hugging each other. For the hundredth time, Becky was struck by the irony of it. She had actually fallen for the same boy who she used to battle with, argue with, and get angry with almost constantly.

Two years ago, I borderline hated you, she wistfully remembered.

Two years… It wasn't even that long of a time. It was absolutely mind-boggling how fast everything could change—how fast Tobey could change when he really had a reason to. He wasn't the same person he was back then, but he wasn't a different one, either. He was still Tobey, with all the same quirks, annoyances, and aggravating tendencies as the Tobey she'd known in middle school. She just knew now that there was more to him than that. His flaws were layered with virtues which he was working tirelessly to cultivate, that that was why she'd fallen for him.

Despite herself and the emotion of the moment, Becky's mind actually drifted off into contemplating her plans for the rest of the day. Right now she wanted to stay with Tobey for as long as she possibly could. There were so many things she'd like to talk to him about now that they were a couple, and all the same old things they used to do as friends would be such a joy to revisit now that she wasn't struggling with her feelings anymore. Even doing her homework sounded like fun if Tobey would be there with her.

When their inevitable parting came, however, she knew exactly what she would do. She would read his letter until she had memorized it, then she would put it away in a special place where she could keep it safe forever, and before she went to sleep, she would gather up all the wonderful feelings fluttering around in her heart, and pour them into a letter of her own.

« ... »

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7

Author's Notes:

Holy cannoli, that came out long! DX I had no clue that idea would take so many words to execute. :S Don't expect all the other oneshots to be that long, people, because there is no flipping way I could do one of those every two weeks. #_#

- OOC? Whether I've done a good job laying the foundation for my future/reformed Tobey is subjective. I can only hope that people who have read my older WordGirl fanfics will understand how he became the person he is in this story, and that people who haven't read them will give me the benefit of the doubt and suspend their disbelief.

- Forgot to Write Him In Lol, I haven't done one of those 'breaking the 4th wall' jokes since Saving Tobey. XP For the record, I didn't actually forget to write Huggy into the scene. I did, however, procrastinate on finding a place to bring him in until most of the scene was already written and thus ended up having to shoehorn him into the conversation here and there. :} Plus, forgetting about Huggy has been such a consistent challenge for me that I couldn't resist making fun of myself for it. :P I don't know what it is about Huggy, but somehow in spite of how much I adore him, I always seem to forget about him when I write these scenes. *-*

- Amnesia Ray Some of the joke references I made about the amnesia ray probably fell flat if you didn't have the episode fresh in your mind, but I couldn't resist including them. For those who may not know, the episode 'Two-Brains Forgets' was about the craziness that ensues when Dr. Two-Brains discovers WordGirl's secret identity and then conveniently creates an amnesia ray so that he can make her forget she's WordGirl. Guess how that conflict got resolved? XP

- Theme Song: "The Best Thing" by Relient K— Just listen to it. It's pretty obvious how it fits. :3

« ... »

26 Letters: How It's Going to Work

This is the long-winded explanation I promised earlier. ;P As also promised, you may feel free to ignore it. It's here for the people who love this idea and want to understand all the thinking behind it. If you're one of those people, thank you for time and dedication. :3

Have you ever seen, read, or written one of those 'theme challenges' where the writer is supposed to pick two characters and then write a bunch of drabbles or oneshots about their relationship using prompts from a list? Well, 26 Letters is my first attempt at doing one of those, except I've personalized the challenge with a system of my own design. Here are the specs:

Posting Schedule — I plan to make the fanfic 26 chapters (oneshots) long and post one every 2 weeks. If I can keep to that schedule, the fic will span one year and end around the beginning of 2019. There's a very good chance I won't be able to keep up, but I'll certainly try my best!

Reader Collaboration— Each oneshot will be based on a one-word prompt or 'theme' suggested by someone in the audience. If you have any ideas for themes, you can send them to me in a review or private message. From among these I will choose the ones that inspire me with ideas of my own, and use them as prompts for writing oneshots. If you suggest a theme and I use it, I'll credit you once I post the corresponding ficlet. If two people suggest the same word, credit will go to the person who suggested it first.

Chapter Titles— The themes I choose will be used as titles for their respective oneshots and defined at the beginning (like I did above with 'Aftermath'). This is a tradition I've carried over from my previous stories, and anyone who's read them can tell you that I had waaaaaay too much fun digging up obscure words no one knows to use as chapter titles. I enjoy introducing my audience to words they may not have in their vocabulary, and as much as possible, I would like to continue doing that in this fic. As such, I encourage you to try and think outside the box when deciding on words to submit. This is not a requirement, however. If it was, I'd already be breaking my own rules with 'aftermath,' a word almost everyone knows but one which worked so well for the story that I decided to use it anyway. I might occasionally pick words like 'birthday' or 'loneliness' if they just happen to inspire something, but I'll mostly be looking for words that pose more of a challenge, like 'cynosure' or 'interstitial' or 'hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.' :P Honestly, though, the words that will generally work best are likely somewhere in the middle. Don't just be totally random, but do try to be creative. Dictionary dot com's 'Word of the Day' archive is a good place to look for cool, unusual words.

Alphabetical Order— Since it's WordGirl and the number of oneshots that fit into my one-year plan happened to be the number of letters in the English alphabet, I thought it would be fun to incorporate that into the structure of the challenge. :) So, in addition to picking themes that inspire me, I will also be compiling the list so as to have one theme for each consecutive letter of the alphabet, and the corresponding oneshots will be posted in alphabetical order. I also have a naive pipe dream that I'll be able to keep them all in chronological order as well, but if that ends up being impossible, I'll make a chronological list of the oneshots for the benefit of those who want to read them in the order in which they take place. Feel free to suggest themes even if I'm 20 letters away from the letter, as I'd like to be able to plan them in advance as much as possible. For those of you who want to stay in the know about which letters are still available, I will keep a current list on my profile and remove letters as they become 'taken,' either because they've passed or because I've selected a word in advance.

Restrictions— I reserve the right to reject any word for any reason, even if it's the only word I get for a given letter. I don't want to get stuck writing about something that bores or bothers me, and that's the main reason I didn't want to do this challenge using the classic list of themes. That being said, I'm open to almost anything, and there's only a handful of words I imagine I would feel the need to reject. Swear words are obviously out, as well as any words with a clear sexual connotation. I might also reject words that I feel are simply inappropriate for some reason, but don't be afraid to suggest a word that you're unsure about. The worst case scenario is that I simply don't pick it.

Limitations— For now I'm not going to put any limits on how many words you guys can suggest. After all, I have no idea what kind of response I'll get, and I'd much rather have too many themes to choose from than too few. If I end up getting more submissions than I can deal with, I'll enforce some limits. For now, just use your common sense. If you have a bunch of good ideas, feel free to present them all. Just don't hit me with a list of 200 words all at once. :{