A/N: This is a What If set a couple of years after the game. The whole premise is that, while Athena and Blackquill were both cleared of the crimes they were accused of in Turnabout for Tomorrow and the Phantom's likely guilt was established, no one realized the Phantom was currently disguised as Bobby Fulbright.
This resulted with the Phantom keeping on the mask to try getting back the psych profile - but, over time, his lack of self made him unable to tell "the Phantom" and "Bobby Fulbright" apart, leading him to eventually believe he truly WAS Bobby Fulbright.
The cover picture is by Nyappykid. There is a link to the full picture and the artist's blog on my profile.
No one has come to see him in a long time.
Bobby doesn't know quite how long – they took his watch among other things – but it must be hours. Hours of silence and confusion and despair, locked in a prison cell without even knowing why.
Bobby Fulbright – he's Bobby Fulbright, he is, what everyone is saying is impossible it's just impossible – shuts his eyes tighter, still huddled in the corner of the cell as he tries to make himself as small as he can. He shouldn't be there, there is a mistake, there must be. He's not this phantom everyone talks about, there is no phantom at all – there's him, Bobby Fulbright; there never was anyone else.
I am Bobby Fulbright.
He tried to tell them as much, he really tried, but each attempt only made Prosecutor Blackquill angrier and angrier, even more so after he slashed at him and his face… his face…!
Detective Bobby Fulbright lets out a low keening noise at the memory and buries his face–
no this is not his face, it cannot be, his face was torn from him and he doesn't know how that was possible
–in his hands. They took his gloves, too, exposing a scar on the back of his hand he cannot explain. Every time he tries to remember how that could happen, his head hurts almost as much as his chest. It doesn't make sense, nothing makes sense. But he knows one thing, and he clings to it with all he has.
He is Bobby Fulbright. He knows he is. And yet Prosecutor Blackquill doesn't believe him.
That's the worst though, the one that tears at him and won't let him sleep – Prosecutor Blackquill doesn't believe him.
"Enough with this charade! You shall not escape me now! Confess at once, lest you wish me to cut you down here and now!"
Bobby takes a few steps back and flatten his back against the wall, his confusion starting to turn into something else, something that seems to squeeze his lungs and makes his heart hammer in his chest. He's seen Prosecutor Blackquill angry before, of course – more than once in the years they have worked together, before and after his acquittal – but he's never seen him like this, eyes blazing and teeth bared in a snarl.
And, most of all, such anger has never before been turned against him. His fury, along with the silent presence of several grim-looking officers behind him – and he knows them, he knows all of them, but they won't talk back to him and simply stare at him, their lips pulled into tight lines – is enough to make him entirely discard the initial thought of an odd, morbid joke.
"P-prosecutor?" Bobby finds himself babbling, back still pressed against the wall. "I don't understand—"
"Silence!" Blackquill snaps, causing him to shut his mouth. "I'll ask you once more – who are you?"
That senseless question, again! What answer is he expecting? There is only one answer, one Blackquill should know as well as he does.
"I'm Detective Bobby Fulbright! I don't understand what— ah!"
Bobby cries out in surprise at Blackquill's sudden movement and raises his hands to shield himself, but he's not fast enough. Blackquill slashes at him, slashes at his face, and hits the target. Some of the officers gasp and Bobby screams, reaching up for the gash on his face and waits for pain to hit him.
It never does.
Surprise sinks in along with the realization everyone else has suddenly fallen silent; even Blackquill has ceased throwing accusations at him and is only staring without saying anything, his eyes twin pools of darkness. Bobby blinks and pulls his hand away, looking down at it.
There is no blood on his glove.
He opens his mouth to speak, to ask what's going on, but he has no time to: the next moment Blackquill is on him, one of his hands grasping his hair. Before Bobby can even realize what he's doing he pulls, and… and…
For a few moments Bobby can't speak, can't even think. He can only stare at his face – his face! – stares back at him from Blackquill's hand, a heap of skin straight out of a nightmare, with empty sockets and no muscle nor bones to support it, a deep gash across the forehead.
The, slowly, Bobby raises a hand to his face, to whatever he has left as a face. He doesn't touch it, however: he can't bring himself to. "W-what's the meaning… I… Prosecutor Blackquill…?" he calls out, looking up, and then stills: Blackquill's gaze chills him to the bone.
"Silence," he hisses, disgust plain on his face. He lets his face – his face! – fall on the floor and turns to the officers who are staring at Bobby in shocked silence, mouths agape. "Arrest this man. I want him out of my sight," he says coldly, not even looking at him, and Fulbright finds himself too stunned to say anything. This isn't happening, this cannot be happening, Prosecutor Blackquill can't possibly mean it, he can't possibly believe him a criminal!
"No," he finally manages as several officers seize him, too stunned to even think of trying to break free. "No, this isn't… this can't… Prosecutor Blackquill!" he calls out, his voice high and desperate as he watches Blackquill turning to leave.
Please no don't turn away please please I believed in you I always believed in you now please believe me please please please…!
"No! Prosecutor Blackquill! PROS—"
Blackquill doesn't look back at him for a moment, and the door slams shut on his desperate cry.
He's snapped from the memory by the sound of steps approaching, steps he's come to know as well as his own. Blackquill's.
"Prosecutor Blackquill!" Bobby calls out, relief making him feel suddenly lighter, and he immediately stands. It's alright, he thinks, whatever misunderstanding there has been must have been cleared up and Blackquill is here to let him out. He won't apologize, of course, he never does, but by now he must have realized that he was wrong, that he's not and never was the phantom he's been chasing.
He's Bobby Fulbright.
Blackquill stops before his cell, and Bobby smiles at him. "In justice we—"
That one word, along with Blackquill's glare, is enough to make his relief disappear. "Prosecutor—" Bobby starts, only to trail off when Blackquill grabs the bars of his cell to stare at him with flaming eyes. It feels all the world likeBlackquill is the caged one once again – the bars keeping him from lashing out and kill.
"Never let that word past your lips again," he snarls. "Don't you dare further insult a man you killed."
"But I-I didn't kill anyone!" Bobby blurts out, unable to entirely believe Blackquill would think a such thing of him. He, who can't even bring himself to let candy wrapping fall on the ground!
Blackquill throws back his head and gives a cold laugh. "Metis Cykes. Clay Terran. Bobby Fulbright. You have the blood of at least three people on your hands, and you still dare to deny it?"
"NO! It can't be, it makes no sense!" Bobby cries out, grasping the bars as well in desperation. "I am Bobby Fulbright! I'm here! I'm alive! This cannot be—" he starts, only to trail off with a yelp when Blackquill's hand shots through the bars to grasp the front of his shirt. His gaze is positively murderous.
"You still dare to lie? Do you think we're all blind?"
"No! I'm not— I wouldn't— I cannot lie! I'm Bobby Fulbright! You must believe me! I believed in you, I—"
"BELIEVE YOU?" Blackquill roars, and the hand still grasping his shirt is the only thing that keeps Bobby from stepping back. "You know no shame, do you? The mask is off, Phantom! I tore it right off your wretched head, and you still deny it?"
That wasn't a mask, Bobby thinks in panic. That was my face, my face, what have you done to my face?
"My face," he rasps, a shaking hand reaching up to touch his not-face. He doesn't know what is there now, and he doesn't want to know, because whatever it is it'snot his face. "I… I need it back. Where is it? Where is my face?"
Blackquill scoffs, and abruptly legs go of him to take something from his pocket and hold it up. "This," he hisses. "This is your face."
There is a moment of utter confusion in which Bobby cannot tell what the small round object Blackquill is holding up is, nor he realizes who the unknown man staring straight back at him is. Then it clicks – the object is a small mirror Blackquill sometimes uses to call Taka back when he's flying especially high, and the face staring back at him is… it's…
Blackquill lets out a surprised noise when Bobby's hand shoots out through the bars and hits the mirror, causing it to fall from his hand. The mirror shatters as soon as it hits the ground, but Bobby doesn't even take notice: all he can do is scream, hands on his face – not his this is not his face this is wrong this is so wrong – and nails digging in his skin as he tries to tear this thing off.
"No! Not my face! Not my face!"
"What are you doing? Stop! Stop this very instant!"
But Bobby doesn't stop, he cannot stop, he needs to get that thing off, he needs his face back. And now there is blood alright, blood on his nails and fingertips, forthis face bleeds while the other has not. But he feels no pain, he feels nothing but mindless terror that drives him to try again and again to tear this face off, this unknown face that does not, cannot belong to him.
I'm Bobby Fulbright! I'm Bobby Fulbright!
And then someone is opening the cell and stepping in, several hands grasping his arms and holding him down, and he tries to fight, half-blinded by panic and tears. Something prickles him behind his neck and suddenly everything is getting dark and his limbs and eyelids feel heavy, so heavy.
Bobby's head drops on the cold stone floor, his thoughts so muddled he can't even realize what is going on anymore. Only one last thought makes it back to his mind before nothingness claims him, one question whose answer, he's terrified to realize, he doesn't know.
Who am I?