Author's Note: Thanks to Ghost for helping with this chapter!


Chapter 198
William Afton's Terrible Horrible No-Good Very Bad Day (Continued)

By the time Puppet and Ruby arrived in Pirate's Cove, Mike seemed to have mostly gotten the Toys calmed down. Mostly.

Mangle was still practically foaming at the mouth but Foxy had a good hold on her while the others mulishly listened to reason. Teddy was pacing near the door but was the calmest out of them all, looking worried more than anything. He looked at them in surprise when they walked in. Puppet wasn't sure if it was because they were together or because Ruby wasn't a fiery ball of rage anymore.

The teenager pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a slow breath. "Cut it out," she said, mostly directed at Mangle. "Everyone is too fucking tired to deal with this."

"How can you-" Mangle started. She had an entire rant on the edge of her voice box, which was making some crackling noises that Hedy was not going to be pleased about.

"Shut it," Ruby bit out, startling the Toys. "I have this much patience. This much." She lifted her hand and held her fingers centimeters apart. "Hedy is getting the help she needs. And she will be unbelievably pissed if you make more work for her by attacking the Funtimes.

Mangle snarled and Ruby matched her glare.

"We do not condemn a trauma response," she said, words slow like she was hammering it into their skulls. "You attack them, and I've asked the building to dump you several rooms away."

They looked shocked at that. Ruby didn't ask the building for things like that. She dealt with misbehaviour herself with ruthless efficiency. Foxy watched her in concern but still kept a hold of Mangle.

"You can stay here or, if you can behave, you can return to that room with us while we try to figure things out. If you do anything to try and harm the Funtimes, then it's teleportation across the building."

Those who had experienced Goldy's teleportation grimaced at the idea. They didn't feel nauseous like humans but it was still very disorientating.

"Now, who's coming and who's staying?"

They shuffled awkwardly but Foxy judged it safe enough to let go of Mangle. Mike just leaned against the wall and covered his face, trying to keep his breathing even. Stress was in every line of his body but Ruby respected the hell out of him for staying to help even though he must be desperate to get to the hospital.

Foxy walked over to Ruby to check on her and Puppet turned his attention back to the bots. They looked like angry, chastised children still on the edge of a temper tantrum. The Originals were just barely managing some maturity with it. With Hedy not here to help calm them down, the building's assistance would make it a lot easier.

This entire thing had been a complete disaster.

Once Ruby was sufficiently satisfied that the Toys understood the current rules, she turned to head over to Mike, Foxy following and unlikely to leave his kid's side for a while.

"I'm only doing this under protest," she muttered. "Because Timmy snitched and Puppet is a bastard."

Mike immediately lifted his head to give her a suspicious look. It was enough to make her crack a faint smile. Those words had often been followed by a confession of a prank or disaster of her making, so the reaction was deserved.

"I need some help with my shoulder," she grumbled to Mike.

Foxy gave her a sharp look at the words. The Toys were muttering among themselves and distracted from her under the close watch of the other three Originals. Mangle was too focused on the unfairness of everything to pay attention to whatever Ruby and Mike were talking about and she often drew the rest of the Toys' attention.

Mike straightened up a bit. "What help?"

She crossed her arms defensively, looking more than a little grouchy.

"I tore my stitches," she said petulantly, voice low enough that only he and Foxy could hear her.

Mike looked to her shoulder in concern. "Now?"

Ruby shuffled her feet. "Back at that hellhole, when I attacked Vixen."

"Ruby!" He hissed. "It's been hours."

"I'm fine," she grumbled, avoiding Foxy's worried and scolding glare. "But Timmy told Puppet to make me ask and he can't say no to Timmy."

"You were literally around paramedics," Mike pointed out in exasperation.

"That would have only caused more questions. It wasn't urgent. Still isn't. There's a ton of stuff to sort out."

"Lass," Foxy growled lowly and she wilted a little.

Mike sighed. "Come on. There's a medical box in the staffroom."

"Who do you think put it there?" Ruby asked sarcastically. "Most they had before I was here was a sad little box of plasters." Outright sulking by now, Ruby trailed after him. Their exit drew attention and Foxy paused to warn the others not to do anything stupid while they were gone.

Puppet was mildly surprised that he hadn't needed to force that conversation. Ruby probably knew he was willing to talk to Mike himself if need be. Frankly, he was grateful to have something else off his plate. He still hadn't recovered from what just happened. But now he was faced with the agonizing fact that his distraction was gone and his thoughts were drifting toward Eliz… Ennard against his will. There were many things he didn't want to think about right now and he was having a hard time ranking the priorities of what topics were the worst.

The rest of them stayed out. Yes, they could have gone on their own back to the Toys' room where the Funtimes waited for an explanation but the idea of being around Will without either Hedy or Ruby was a bit too much for any of them. The more logical ones realized there might be a screaming match if Ruby wasn't there to glare the rest of them into submission.

"Er… excuse me."

Puppet's thoughts were unfortunately very derailed by the subject of his anger. At least anger was an easier emotion than grief.

Will stuck his head in the room with the hesitance of a man worried it was going to get bit off, which was fair. His eyes roved over the group. Several bots startled violently at his voice.

"What the frick do you want?!" Mangle snapped, unable to even take a moment to calm herself down with his sudden presence.

Will flinched back. "I'm sorry to bother you. I just… uh, did Ruby leave with Ms. Hedy?"

It was silent for a moment, no one really wanting to answer him, even Mangle.

"No. She stayed," Puppet said, his voice carefully neutral.

"Do you know where I may find her?" Will said. "Or that young man… " he paused for a moment trying to remember. "Mike! Mike? Uh, I need to ask where the nearest hardware store is. I'm afraid the little ones have gotten as far as they can without tools."

Puppet shifted, not quite willing to hurt the Funtimes just to spite Will. It wasn't like any of them knew where the hardware store was.

"Don't you have a phone?" Bonnie asked stiffly before Puppet could say anything. "You can look it up yourself."

Freddy shot Bonnie a warning look.

Will lifted a hand to show his flip-open cell phone looking sheepish. "I haven't quite gotten the knack of those newer ones… fascinating as they are."

"They're in the staffroom," Puppet said before anyone got any ideas. "They're busy. Foxy is with them. They'll head back to the other room soon."

Will nodded his thanks and got the hell out of there before he made them too stressed. The entire room shifted as the bots relaxed.

"This sucks," Bonnie said after a moment.

That was an understatement. Freddy rubbed his face and Chica leaned against the wall. They'd already been stressed over the girls but they'd all thought that things were over.

And now Hedy was in the hospital and Ruby was pushing herself past every one of her limits.

"But you still-" Chi started tightly.

"We're trying not to add to the problem," Freddy said sharply. "They have enough to deal with and some of us throwing a tantrum without using their brains is going to make it worse for everyone. You're not kids anymore. You know better, but you refuse to because you're still selfish more times than you're not. This isn't about you. This is about Hedy and Ruby who went through hell to bring the Funtimes home. This is about Goldy who's been on the verge of a breakdown this whole time. This is about Alex who died because of this disaster. Whatever you're feeling, whatever you think you're entitled to right now in your anger, it's not about you. So shut up and don't add to the problem for once."

It was very, very rare for Freddy to lose his temper like that. He didn't yell but his words grew tight and angry and he didn't watch what he said as much.

"This isn't about Will or our issues with him. Hedy's the only one who gets to decide if what happened is something she's going to hold against Baby. That's her right, not yours. Hell, even Ruby's figured that all out and she's younger than you and has an infinitely shorter patience. She's been through several flashbacks and came face to face with two of her biggest phobias. And she's still putting Hedy first. How about you try the same?"

Chica put a hand on the bear's shoulder in concern but neither she nor Bonnie seems to disagree with anything he'd said.

The silence was tense and angry while the Toys were still upset but now off balance from Freddy's words. It felt like it took forever before the other three returned. Bonnie and Freddy were in a whispered conversation when Ruby, Foxy, and Mike walked back in.

"Okay, I'm going back," Ruby said before any of them could say anything. "If you're coming with, behave. If you can't behave, fuck off. I'm not saying you need to go there. Just that if you do, then deal with the consequences."

She started marching towards the Toys' room again. The Originals all followed her and Foxy glanced at the Toys to see if they were joining or not. They shifted their weight like they weren't sure, but when Teddy moved forward, the others trailed along. Foxy was going to keep an eye on them though. He could understand why they were upset but being aggressive wouldn't make anything better. He was actually going to do his level best not to snap at Will so he could focus on Ruby and Vixen.

But he would snap at one of the Bidybabs if they said a bad word about the mechanic. Ruby would probably be right behind him.

Mike had already followed Ruby and she was slow enough that she ended up walking next to him.

"You can go," she murmured. "To the hospital. With the Originals' help, we'll be okay without you."

Mike looked pained. "Ruby, I-"

She shook her head. "Go to Hedy. Jeremy could probably use the company." She gave him a slightly bitter smile. "I wouldn't be able to walk there, not in my state. And I can't handle another car trip. But I've got the bots. I'll be okay. Once I've slept, I'll head over there as well. Dr Cecil wants me to go anyway."

He looked torn even though he desperately wanted to bolt to his car at that very moment.

"Check in with Afton and the Funtimes, then head out," she insisted. "You'll be able to give Jeremy updates and Hedy too when she's awake again. Just don't snitch on me to Cecil. She'll demand I go there now and that's not happening until morning." She glared at him just to hammer home that warning. "Or you're going to find multiple glitter bombs in your belongings."

Mike glared back at her a little. Brave of him. He gestured at her shoulder. "You literally ripped the stitches through your skin. Do not do it again or it's going to hurt even more to restitch. Again. It's already going to scar."

She rolled her eyes so hard he was surprised they didn't get stuck. "If I promise that, will you leave?" she bargained. "And not snitch on me? Besides, scars are cool sometimes. Not all the time, but that's going to be a wicked one."

"Your whole back is already scarred up," Mike said, not answering her immediately. He had been a little bothered to see them. It made him sad that a kid had something so traumatic looking. Ruby was the same age as his little sister and he was very viciously reminded of that while taking care of her injury.

She only ever seemed bothered by the scars on her wrists though. She'd even pointed out a particularly odd one on her shoulder and told him that she got it from yanking an idiot kid out of the oven. She'd fallen back and caught her shoulder on a knife she'd dropped to grab the kid. She'd been entirely too amused by the story.

That seemed to remind her of something. "Hey, you know Foxy's the only one who never got the chance to bite me? Mangle and Vixen both bit me and scratched me up."

They could both hear Foxy facepalm behind them.

"You're tempting fate at this point!" Mike complained. He shook his head. "Fine. I'll hold off on telling your doctor for twenty-four hours at the latest. You better get checked out with her before that."

She waved a hand and sighed. "Fiiiiiine. It's a deal."

The building shuddered around her when she gave him a cheeky smile.

"Oh, fuck you," Mike said blandly.

She gave him the middle finger with a cheerful grin.

They both entered the Toys' room, ignoring the other bots hesitantly filing in behind. Goldy immediately gave Ruby a look. Probably over the second deal more than the first. One was a lot stronger than the other after all. She could guess what had happened.

"Mr. Afton," Mike said as he headed over to the man who was so focused on some wiring he was trying to sort in the back of Ballora's head that he jumped at his own name. "Uh. Sorry. Do you need anything? I'm heading to the hospital…"

Vixen's attention had darted to Foxy first and then to Ruby with wariness. Ruby had been livid when she last saw the teen and she didn't want to risk her attacking Baby.

"Oh! Yes actually," Will said quickly. "There's not much more that can be done without some basic tools," he glanced out the corner of his eye at the Bidybabs, most of whom just scowled but thankfully didn't say anything under the glare Baby was pinning them with. "Can you tell me how to get to the nearest hardware store?"

Ruby raised an eyebrow at the look the new bot was directing at the irritating mini bowling balls. Her stomach lurched a bit when she spotted the blood-stained rag behind them but she pushed that aside as she listened to Afton.

"The nearest hardware store is like half an hour away," she told him. "The good one anyway. The closer one is a rip-off with terrible quality."

Will looked a little irritated at the news. "I'll call a taxi," he sighed. "I don't suppose either of you know a service that works late?"

She looked over them all and glanced at Mike briefly. Letting out an aggravated sigh, she rubbed her face. She was way too tired for any of this. She needed sleep. Not even coffee. She just needed sleep.

"Whatever, wasting time going to the shops isn't going to help anyone," she muttered and looked back at Afton. "You can use mine."

The entire room screeched to a stop. Even the building froze which was a weird feeling. Mangle stumbled in her shock behind them and Mike's head whipped to the side. The Originals were outright gaping at her and Goldy dropped to the ground like she'd forgotten how to float.

Will glanced around, not having a clue what the shock was about.

Alex, who hadn't said anything since the others had returned and was still sitting against the wall, looked up with a frown at the reactions. She was too drained to really interpret whatever she was feeling at the moment. She just watched everything that was going on with sad, tired eyes, and tried not to think about how everyone was pointedly ignoring her.

Ruby stared at Afton expectantly when he didn't immediately answer, outright ignoring everyone else. Behind her, Foxy was watching her in concern.

"Thank you," he said. "Once things are settled, I'll go buy myself a new set. And perhaps something just for the little ones."

Vixen and Baby shared a glance, knowing the little ones wouldn't immediately realize the significance of having something that belonged to them.

Ruby shrugged at the words, grimaced when she pulled on her shoulder and then scowled in annoyance at herself. "Just don't damage them or we're gonna have a problem," she warned him.

"Of course," Will said, maybe a little offended. He wouldn't disrespect another person's property. The stunned look Goldy was giving the teenager did make him wonder what he was missing.

Ruby looked up at the ceiling and held her hands out in front of her. A beat passed before a very old and battered-looking toolbox dropped from thin air. The building had likely taken it directly from her bag.

Mike immediately glared at her when she caught the not-insignificant weight. "Your shoulder-"

"Shut up!" she hissed.

Mike made a displeased noise in retort and some of the bots had to wonder just when his "healthy" fear/respect of Ruby waned to the point he could stand up to her. It was probably Hedy's fault. Ruby hadn't seemed particularly upset over the change though and had probably noticed it long before the bots did.

Ruby walked over to where they were working, making Vixen tense and the Bidybabs grow restless as they glared at her. They hadn't forgotten exactly how she'd gathered them up for the trip. The teen paused for a moment to give BB a strange look. He was sitting a little closer than the others and was still holding the minireena. He seemed as shocked as the rest by her offer.

Some of that shock in the group seemed to be giving way to simmering anger though. Why would Ruby, who snapped at anyone getting near her tools aside from Hedy, give them over to Afton of all people?

There was dead silence as Ruby reached them and handed the box over. It was still unnerving the new arrivals and Afton couldn't get over Goldy's reaction in particular. That was something more to this.

"The lid sticks so you've got to wiggle it to get it open. Don't yank," she warned him. For a moment she almost seemed to hesitate before letting go.

One of the Bibybabs shifted closer to Will who looked down.

"It would be best if you and your sisters took a break," he suggested a little firmly, moving the box further away from them. "I'll purchase you your own set later."

The Bidybab scowled. "We wouldn't need new tools i–!" a Bidybab started.

"EHT! What did I just say," Baby snapped at the Bidybab who shut up and looked at the ground.

Ruby raised an eyebrow at the interaction and she and Baby studied each other for a moment during which everyone tensed up a little again. They'd all see how furious the teen had been when it happened.

"I really don't like the clown motif," Ruby finally said. "It's weird. What's with the circles on your cheeks? Did you come before or after the Toys cause someone copied someone."

"Well I don't like the goth rocker poser motif so I guess we're even on that point," Baby said idly as she looked Ruby in the eyes. "We had the circles first."

VIxen went rigid with tension but Foxy didn't actually seem concerned while the others glanced between each other nervously. Surprisingly, Ruby let out a huff of a laugh.

"When you like a cliche, embrace the cliche. This shirt is fucked through. I'm going to have to bin it."

"Language," Freddy grumbled in the background. It was a losing battle but he still tried sometimes.

"You're still fucking doing that?" Baby turned to Freddy, cracking a grin.

The bear crossed his arms with an inaudible grumble. Bonnie nudged him with an amused smirk, sharing a look with Baby like they were in on a very old joke.

"He's been doing it my whole life," Ruby threw a look over her shoulder at him. "You'd think he would have given up during my sailor phase." She turned to look at Mike. "Time to go, say hi to Jeremy for me and don't fucking snitch." She pointed threateningly at him. "I'll see her in the morning."

Mike hesitated but the building proved its favourtism by "biting" him. "OW!" Mike snapped, grabbing his arm and looking around for who "pinched" him, looking offended. "Alright! Fuck I'm going, you bitch!" He stalked out toward the exit, pausing at the door to look at the Toys. "Behave or Hedy's going to be disappointed." Then he was gone without waiting for the response.

Ruby smirked and bent down to pat the floor. "Best building." The floor vibrated as it 'purred'.

The move brought her closer to Baby's level as well. Vixen noticeably shifted nervously at her close proximity, edging a little away from her.

One of the minireenas took the opportunity though. The one BB was still holding scrambled down to the ground and over to the surprised teenager. She tugged lightly on her sleeve.

The minireena pointed behind herself at Will and the toolbox. "More work. We use. Please?" She paused for a second as if sorting her thoughts. "Can we… please use your tools?" The full sentence didn't seem difficult to say, just unfamiliar.

Ruby blinked at her in surprise before her expression softened a bit. It was bizarre for Vixen to see.

"You're welcome to use them," she told the little bot. "Just be careful with them, okay? They're very special to me. Thank you for asking so nicely."

"Minireenas?" the little bot added. "All?"

Ruby smiled a bit and looked over at the other minireenas. "You guys going to be careful with them?" She asked.

There was an immediate chorus of 'yes' and 'please' from them as well.

"Then you can use them, sweeties."

The gentle endearment threw Vixen all over again. The others weren't surprised. She was treating them like kids and she was always softer with kids.

The minireena reached up to awkwardly hug her arm happily and scurried over to look into the toolbox that Will had just carefully opened. She was just looking for the moment though since they hadn't decided what they were doing just yet. Will was pleased to see the kind way Ruby interacted with the little bots but he was caught on something she'd said. The toolbox was special to her somehow. That would somewhat explain everyone's reactions although they seemed too strong for it to be so simple.

He was careful with them as he decided on a few wrenches and laid them out for the Minireenas. "Should we work on Ballora or finish Baby?" he asked.

The Minireenas looked shocked that he was asking their opinions.

Baby almost laughed at how they stared at Will and Vixen fought a smile. "You should get Ballora awake. I can wait."

The Minireena's looked relieved and Will sat down by the pile the little bots had made for Ballora's parts. The Bidybabs looked a little more irritated but none of them argued.

"Can I…" Another voice made Afton jump before wincing in guilt.

Alex hesitated when everyone looked at her directly for the first time and she faltered, gaze darting nervously from person to person. She really considered if she wanted to actually offer assistance. Especially since she couldn't actually do anything. There was also the anxiety of being so close to the fox but she was trying so very hard to ignore that.

"Nevermind…" She said quietly. She shuffled a little on the floor and fidgeted with a hole in her jeans. "Sorry…"

Goldy spoke up. "You can help Puppet with Fred and Bon Bon," she suggested, ignoring how Puppet stiffened and shot her a look.

"Do not volunteer me–"

"Puppet," Goldy snapped. "Help Ms. Alex."

Alex shifted awkwardly as Puppet stared at Goldy. She hadn't meant to cause an argument.

Eventually, Puppet walked over, still refusing to look at Will. He looked at Alex. "Do you want to help with wiring or gears?"

Ruby had been quiet and watching Alex with a strange look before she sighed and pushed herself to her feet. She wobbled a bit, genuinely exhausted too much to really hide it.

Alex hesitantly got her to feet and came closer. "I don't… I can't really help. I just thought I could be an extra pair of eyes. That's how I was helping Hedy…" she trailed off and swallowed, looking down instead of at Baby and the blood that still hadn't been entirely cleaned. She really wished someone would hurry up and take care of that.

"You can help," Ruby interrupted. She held out her hand. "You're solid if you're in contact with me."

The bots were getting whiplash from Ruby today. She hated sticking around during maintenance and this was much worse than a regular check-up with Hedy in charge.

Alex's eyes widened and she stepped back, probably in shock. "What did you say?" She sounded so confused.

Will looked a little surprised too but given everything else dumped on him that night he wasn't sure if he really could be surprised by anything anymore.

Ruby sighed. This was always a pain to try and explain. "Almost died, death really doesn't want me apparently, so I'm kinda part ghost. But when I'm in contact with ghosts, they become solid." She wiggled her fingers. "Gimme your hand." She wasn't about to snitch on Hedy. That was her own thing to explain. "It's easier to show than tell."

Alex hesitated for a long moment. She saw how Ruby had cuddled with the little boy Timmy in the trailer but she had picked up that she shouldn't bring that up in front of Afton yet. She just didn't know how that whole thing worked but she hadn't really expected that it could apply to her.

She was shocked by a memory. "You… you already showed me this…" When she first… Her memories were a little fuzzy but didn't she grab onto Ruby when she and Andre found her that morning? It was one of the reasons she had trouble believing Ruby when the teen told her…

She reached out and clasped Ruby's hand, fully expecting to just pass through. She gasped and the feeling of weight and air on her skin. She still wasn't drawing air into her lungs but she could feel it. "What the fuck…" she breathed as she gripped Ruby's hand tightly.

And the intrusive thought took over and she reached her other hand out and poked Vixen in the side of her snout, both of them jerking back in fear at the contact.

Alex giggled hysterically while Vixen looked horrified. "I-I'm sorry…" Alex giggled. "S-sorry. I just… I need a second…" She trailed off into even more giggles, unable to contain the emotion that was unfortunately manifesting in laughter.

Ruby shrugged (carefully this time). "Trauma. Whichever way you express it, better out than in." She swiped the screwdriver Puppet had just picked up and held it out to her.

Puppet looked skywards for patience. He doubted she'd ever discover manners when it came to anyone that wasn't below thirteen.

"I keep a hold of you, and you can touch stuff and work. And yeah, you walked into me at the start. It's not something I can turn on and off, and apparently it isn't limited to the building like I'd thought." She wiggled the tool until Alex took it. The weight was familiar in her hand. "Be careful with my tools though," she pointed warningly at her. "Cause this also means I can smack you as well."

Goldy let out a strained giggle at that, remembering how much Michael hated that little detail. So did the kids although they'd grown to accept it fairly quickly.

Alex looked relieved to have something in her hand. "Okay. Thanks. Uh… Does it still work if you grab my shirt? I kinda need both hands."

"Any kind of contact," Ruby told her. "I'll leave your hands free."

Then she and Puppet seemed to have some kind of staring thing for a few seconds before he continued setting up to help Alex and Ruby tugged the ghost to sit down because she was very wobbly still and didn't feel like standing.

Alex followed her to the floor, squeezing the younger girl's hand tightly. Ruby didn't seem to mind. Another couple of giggles slipped out but she tried to contain it, instead focusing on the feeling of being solid again. Which was weird enough to try and wrap her head around in the first place. She hadn't realised how heavy a body was until she didn't have one anymore.

Several bots were a bit perplexed by the lack of Puppet trying to get out of helping now and over Ruby not trying to get rid of him either. They all looked between the two who didn't start sniping at each other like usual either.

Will didn't comment but there was a moment of awkward eye contact as he and Puppet stared before Puppet took another screwdriver and crouched down to work on Fred, gesturing for Alex to come beside him as he pointed out how the wiring was organized.

Alex listened intently, nodding along to the animatronic and trying to ignore the tugging as Ruby let go of her hand and sat behind her with Alex's shirt clenched in her hand. It was weird and she doubted Ruby actually wanted to do anything other than sleep right now. She seemed to be actively fighting it. And she also refused to look at what they were doing.

Alex got very focused, very quickly. She knew this. They were speaking her language now. Eventually, she forgot she wasn't working alongside a human.

She forgot about her concerns related to whether she should be asking Mr. Afton to supervise her. The Puppet clearly knew what he was talking about, explaining things like the odd wiring system or how different parts needed different voltages. The Funtimes were definitely more complicated than the other bots. Alex could tell, even though she had no experience with the other animatronics that were Hedy's responsibility.

"No," Mr. Afton's sharp word startled her, Puppet subtly pushing Alex's hand out of the way so she didn't cut a wire she wasn't supposed to as the both of them looked up. Ruby probably did too but Alex couldn't see her since the teen was still holding Alex's shirt from behind.

Mr. Afton wasn't even looking at the Bidybab he had scolded as he took away the wrench she had tried to take from Ruby's toolbox. He just pushed the box further out of her reach. "Baby, please remind them they need to ask permission."

The Bidybab scowled at him and looked at Baby expectantly.

Baby rolled her eyes. "We already discussed this."

"She said we could!"

"No," Baby corrected. "She said the Minireenas could use her tools. Not you. Either ask or help Vixen with her plating. You don't need tools for that. Or you can look for any of Bon Bon's pieces you missed."

Foxy and Bonnie exchanged a look, already knowing what was going to happen. Even Toby was watching with just a hint of amusement. It was nice to be on the audience side of Ruby dealing with entitled behaviour.

"Fine," the Bidybab said petulantly and turned around on her heel.

There was a flicker of amusement in Baby's eyes but she schooled her expression carefully as she watched her little bots learn for themselves that they couldn't just do whatever they wanted. It had served them well when Ennard was the biggest issue they had to deal with in their lives and being confident and maybe even a little stubborn saved them when any submission was a vulnerability. But things had changed. It made her very sad to know how hard it was going to be for her helpers going forward. The Minireenas were far more adaptable because it was always easier for them to keep out of Ennard's way and being quick and hard to count with their numbers had saved them. The Bidybabs had always been easier for Ennard to target and it hurt Baby to know that was ultimately her fault. She didn't have much choice but to watch her Bidybab learn.

Alex wasn't even sure it was the same Bidybab that argued with Hedy earlier that night. They had the same voice and same tone but more than one Bidybab was clearly upset so it was very hard to tell.

Bidybab marched over to Ruby (and Puppet and Alex but she didn't care about them, except for a weird look at Alex). Alex would have shifted away if not for the tight grip Ruby had on her shirt. She was more likely to strangle herself than slip free for the moment.

Looking behind her, Alex found Ruby… well, playing with the building. She hadn't heard it when in work mode, but the teen was tapping at tiles while the building flipped them. It was clearly some kind of game, but she couldn't figure out what it was. She only glanced up at the Bidybab when she was right by them. She'd obviously been listening but hadn't involved herself despite them being her tools.

Puppet, on the other hand, knew that the building would have done something ridiculous like snipe the little bot with a tile if she'd actually managed to get the tool. So Ruby's silence wasn't actually a kindness. She was letting them dig their own graves now that the rules had been established. Not unlike how she'd been with the Toys.

Everyone was watching the Bidybab now with a variety of expressions. Some were amused, some dubious about what was happening and some looking like they were about to get to the good part of a horror movie. Vixen's ears were flicked back in anxiety as she watched the little bot approach the teenager who'd already proven that she could do a lot of damage in very little time.

BB just kind of wanted her to play golf with the little brat.

Bidybab was intelligently staying just out of arm's reach, not that that would really help her in the end. She crossed her arms and stared at Ruby. "I want to use your tools."

Baby facepalmed and Vixen's face twisted as she did her damndest not to laugh. Alex tried not to feel nervous that she was very much in arm's reach.

Bibybab glanced back, recognizing that she had done it wrong but was too stubborn to really show much humility. "Please," she said. It seemed almost painful.

Puppet was also struggling not to laugh.

Ruby didn't look up again, continuing her weird little game. "No." She frowned to herself and smacked down one of the tiles that had started levitating in mild reprimand.

The bidybab's eyes widened. "You said we had to ask if we wanted to use them!"

Puppet stared in a little bit of wonder as she stomped a foot. They really acted like children, despite not ever having human children to model behavior after. Even he didn't make those kinds of gestures until he witnessed humans do it first.

"Asking is the right thing to do. That doesn't mean I have to say yes," Ruby told her calmly, finally looking up from whatever she was doing to give the Bidybab a sharp look. "You ask and then you wait for the answer. If it's a no, it's a no. If they say yes, then you can do whatever you were asking about. If I asked to throw you across the room, you wouldn't want to say yes, would you?"

"Well maybe I would!" the little bot said angrily, too set on winning the argument.

BB snickered, which earned a glare in his direction along with anyone else who laughed.

"Can I please throw you across the room?" Ruby asked, without missing a beat.

"She'll do it," BB felt the need to warn her at least, even if he really didn't want to. "She used me as a bowling ball and she's thrown all kinds of stuff at the Toys when they were being mean. She didn't even ask then. She's being nicer to you than you deserve."

"I wasn't teaching the Toys manners," Ruby scoffed, glancing at him. "That was Hedy's job. I was teaching them not to be assholes." She looked back to the little bot while Chi grumbled under her breath.

Bibybab shifted, suddenly caught. She had painted herself into a corner and didn't know how to get out of it. So she tried to change the subject. "We want to help and you aren't letting us!" she said, actually sounding a little upset now. "You don't want to help Lora and Fred and Bon Bon. They're hurt!"

Ruby yawned. "You can't guilt me into it. I feel nothing and my soul is empty."

"You're a bitch!"

"Wait, where did you hear that word?" Baby interrupted, actually confused (and amused) while Vixen looked at the ceiling innocently with a glance at Foxy.

Ruby snorted. "What gave you that idea, buddy? The general bitchiness or the snarky sarcasm?" she looked a little amused despite herself. "I don't need to give you a reason for me saying no, but this time I will. I trust that Will, Alex, the Clown and the Minireenas will do their best to be careful with my tools. I don't trust you to. I think you might actually try and damage one because you're petty and angry tonight and don't care about anything outside your little family. Which is fair, there's nothing wrong with only caring about them. I'd be one hell of a hypocrite if I said otherwise. But that doesn't mean I should give you the chance to damage my tools. They're special to me and I don't want them to get broken because you're throwing a spiteful tantrum."

While she was speaking, Will listened carefully, noting how sincere she sounded when describing the tools. He subtly tilted the lid of the toolbox so the light better caught the initials etched into the metal inside.

Property of D.S.

"In summary," Ruby finished, looking back at her weird little game that the building restarted. "No."

Toby looked at Bonnie. "She's being much nicer to them than she was to us," he complained.

"You were teenagers. They're little kids," Bonnie pointed out as he lightly elbowed Toby in the side. "Of course she's going to be nicer."

Baby and Vixen shared a confused glance, mouthing "little kids?" to each other.

Goldy had drifted closer to Will, smiling to herself as she listened. "She's good with kids. Whether they love her or hate her. She's still good with them," she murmured to him, clearly thinking that he was confused over what had just happened. "She's pretty bitchy to everyone over the age of thirteen though. Kinda like Puppet in that way."

The minireenas had listened to the whole thing but most of them were caught on the fact that Ruby said she trusted them and were all puffed up with pride. It was really adorable to see.

The Bidybab (and the others) clearly weren't used to backing down and just stood there, glaring and irritated. She looked braced as if she expected a physical fight but to Baby's relief, Bidybab didn't move or lash out at Ruby violently. That would not have ended well.

Bibybab was so tense as she turned and looked back at Baby for help. "Baby…" her voice was lower, still angry but to most of their shock, there was a tiny bit of fear in there that made the other bidybabs stiffen and glance around.

Puppet wondered if they expected Ennard to pop out from a vent. It was a very defensive reaction.

Baby looked sympathetic for a moment but her voice was firm. "She said no, and she was nice enough to explain why. Lora, Fred, and Bon Bon will be okay. Don't worry."

"But… we're supposed to…"

"I know," Baby said. "You can keep an eye on everyone to make sure they're doing it right. You don't need tools for that."

Ruby was mouthing 'nice' to herself like she was trying to process whether someone had actually used that word to describe her. And whether she should be offended or not by it.

Puppet spoke up, addressing the Bidybab. "I know you're scared—"

"I'm not scared!" the Bidybab said aggressively.

Puppet paused. Maybe being straightforward was too threatening to them.

"Okay, you're not scared. But you are upset because you're worried about your set. You do not know us nor do you trust us."

Bidybab just scowled. She rolled her eyes. "I just want the tools. Not a lecture."

Puppet resisted the urge to chuckle. "It's understandable. But you can see that Baby trusts us." It was a firm statement, not a question.

Bidybab didn't answer.

Puppet gestured for her to come closer to him and Alex. "You supervise. Make sure we're doing this wiring right. Ms. Alex is new and I have not done this in years. Tell us if we're about to make a mistake. Can you do that?"

The Bidybab glared at Ruby viciously before turning back to Puppet and nodding, still unhappy but apparently aware she wasn't winning how she wanted. Ruby entirely ignoring her existence now probably didn't help much.

Alex took a little while to relax with the Bidybab so close. It wasn't that much of a comfort to remember the little bot couldn't hurt her. Eventually, (with a little polite prompting from the Puppet) she got back to work.

There was still tension in the air, but everyone got back to work again with no impending drama. The Bidybab also eased up a little bit when they actually listened to what she said. She was still upset, but not as much. Ruby was still getting a few glares from them now and then though.

They didn't try to steal the tools though so everyone had to silently agree that it was a far better outcome than any of them expected.

Maybe an hour later, Alex was busy replacing some wires in Fred's arm latch that connected to Bon Bon when the tweezers and wire crimpers she was using slipped out of (through) her hands. She squeaked and tried to catch them but her hands just passed through and the tools clattered on the ground. She felt Ruby grab her shirt again.

"Sorry," the teen mumbled. "Hand cramp."

Alex felt bad for the teen as she looked over her shoulder. "Do you need a break?"

Ruby sounded so tired and Alex felt like a piece of shit for being so needy that the girl hadn't even gotten the chance to rest yet. She had her head resting on one knee so they couldn't see her face properly.

"You both should take a break," Foxy spoke up, making Alex flinch as she remembered there were a lot of other people in the room. "Ruby, you need sleep." It wasn't a request or suggestion.

Ruby turned her head just enough that they could see her scowl at the words.

Foxy looked at Vixen and Baby. "Do we need them awake tonight?"

Vixen looked hesitant, but Baby sighed.

"No," she admitted. "It's okay though. It would usually take us days to get to this point. We can be patient."

Vixen nodded although she looked more disappointed than Baby. The Minireena made little grumbles but Vixen shushed them. The bidybabs looked angry at the idea, probably just because someone outside their little group suggested it. They'd been an unpleasant mix of upset and angry about the entire tool and Hedy thing in general.

"No," Ruby repeated and Foxy maintained eye contact for a moment as she glared at him.

Without saying another word, he walked over and crouched down in front of her. Then flicked her forehead. She got the habit from somewhere after all. The gesture seemed to be enough of a silent scold that she immediately gave in. It was startling for the resident bots to see because Ruby usually fought this kind of thing, even with Foxy.

Vixen frowned and shifted uncomfortably. It felt odd seeing Foxy act this way. She knew it was silly but she couldn't really shake the feeling of something being stolen from her. It was wrong to feel that way, she knew.

"Fine," Ruby muttered petulantly. "But we've got to deal with Ennard first."

The mood in the room shifted and more than a few of the bots glanced at Puppet and Goldy. They were the only ones that had seen Elizabeth.

Will paled a little and flinched as he set Ruby's tools down to lean on the table.

Goldy looked nervous while Puppet was oddly blank, continuing to work on Bon Bon as if he wasn't listening. Alex shifted away from Ruby a little and tried to do the same thing, watching him work on the wiring and wishing so desperately that she wasn't reliant on Ruby in order to be able to help.

Bonnie shifted, trying his best to shove down the fear that bubbled up. Puppet was not as good at hiding his emotions as he thought he was, to the Originals at least. Goldy and, to a point, Spring would always be the best, but even he could see that Puppet was bothered. Something had happened. He and the others were not sure what to expect. It was going to hurt either way. He knew that. He actually was a little jealous of the Toys. They never knew her. At the same time, it hurt that he was very aware that whatever Hedy and Ruby had brought back was the only image of Elizabeth they would know. Something about that felt so very unfair. He didn't even know how bad it really was…

Ruby glanced back at Alex to make sure she wasn't holding anything or doing something delicate before she pushed herself to her feet. Foxy was quick to steady her when she swayed on her feet again. She rubbed her face, muttered something about caffeine and pushed away to walk over to her bag.

"Where is that solvent?" she growled to herself. "I swear I packed a big batch just in case." After a moment, she made a triumphant noise and pulled a fairly large container out. "Found it."

The bag's new makeshift lock clicked shut again quietly as she walked towards the centre of the room.

"Like a shipping container?" she wondered to herself. "Flat bang. Or a tumble? Damn I'm bitchy when I'm tired."

She looked up at the ceiling. "Can you bring her here please? Box included."

The building rumbled, seeming almost a little bit reluctant, but still complying. If they had to guess, it was probably worried about her current state.

There was nothing for a moment and then a large box dropped inches from Ruby. She didn't even flinch and they weren't sure if that was the connection to the building, or just her being entirely too tired to even react.

There was an inhuman screech of shock and rage as Ennard smacked her head(?) against the edge of the box that was still open. The crate was covered in deep gouges everywhere Ennard could reach her claws. Large pieces of the top edge was splintered and broken, like it had been chewed on by a giant dog.

Puppet did a terrible job of hiding the way he flinched and ducked his head, which further alarmed the other animatronics. He internally beat himself up for it.

The thing suddenly before them shook its head as if it had a headache. She glared at Ruby. "Ow," she hissed before fully able to register that her location had changed and there were many eyes staring at her, half of them horribly familiar.

"Thanks," Ruby yawned, ignoring Ennard for a second and speaking to the building. "We'll work on your finesse later."

Ennard slipped a "mask" on as she recovered from the shock. "What? No warning?" she asked with Hedy's voice. It sounded wrong with the electronic undertone.

Mangle immediately snarled, but Teddy wrapped around her arm to hold her back as he stared at the thing in horror.

"Oh don't start," Ruby muttered. "Do you want me to keep my part of the deal or not?" She held up the solvent. "I'm doing this, and then I'm going to go pass out in the staffroom. Keep being bitchy and I'll do that in reverse order."

The Minireenas had scattered behind anything that could break the line of sight between them and Ennard, hiding behind furniture and the nearest bot. The Bidybabs stood their ground but even they stepped closer to Baby and Vixen, both of whom looked surprisingly emotionless. Baby was doing a better job than Vixen, her eyes blank and cold as she stared at the amalgam of her and her set's old parts.

"Wait, when did you do a deal?" Foxy asked in alarm. "And on next to no sleep?"

"Between you going to help with the Toys and returning to help you help with the Toys." She frowned to herself. "Does that sentence even make sense?" she mused.

"Barely," Puppet said. He looked at Foxy. "I assisted. The deal is fine, but it is allowed some freedoms."

Ennard laughed, even as her eye flicked around to all the bots a little frantically. The voice didn't match the body language and it was eerie. "It? Oh, Mari, I'm hurt." There might have been a little truth in there.

Puppet couldn't even look at her, much less interpret Ennard's tone.

"Leave him alone," Goldy said, her sternness and bravado from dealing with Ennard back at the other location drained. She pleaded now. She could tell how upset Puppet had been when he and the others returned.

Ruby covered another yawn, watching Ennard. "Come on Lizzie, don't you want out?" It was mean. But everyone was tiptoeing around the truth. She was the default bitch so she said what no one wanted to.

Bonnie suddenly stood up from where he had been sitting on the stage and walked out of the room.

Chica and Freddy watched him go but didn't look surprised like the Toys did.

Foxy glanced after him. "I'll fill him in…" he muttered to Ruby quietly. He hadn't looked directly at Ennard either.

The teenager nodded slightly and shifted her weight so she was a smidge closer to him. She didn't really have the energy to be the comforting type today, not that she was good at that most of the time. But it was impossible for her right now. Freeing Ennard was the only thing between her and getting some actual not drug-induced sleep now.

Ennard had been studying all of them the entire time, noting the different expressions of shock. Horror. Fear.

Grief.

Confusion?

She kept her eyes on Spring, who was staying in the back the furthest away from anyone and near the other exit. His body language was confusing her. He was staring in mostly bemusement and, surprisingly, interest as he looked her over without the discomfort of the others. She wasn't sure what to make of it or how she could use it, but she continued to watch him out of the corner of her eye as she looked back at Ruby.

"Well? Hurry up then," she said sweetly. "I'm just dying for the big family reunion!" She laughed bitterly, looking straight at Baby at the word "dying."

"Afraid everyone beat you there," Ruby muttered. She knew Timmy was nearby. She had a feeling Michael was too. She did 'accidentally' hit Ennard in the face with the solvent container as she climbed onto the side of the box when she saw Afton and Baby flinch.

"Don't fall," BB said, but his voice was a bit shaky. All of them had been shaken by this. Even the Toys that never met Elizabeth…

Ruby gave him a thumbs up and twisted the lid off so she could start dissolving the glue. It was a bit more complicated than dumping it in the box. Hedy would murder her if she screwed up Ennard's joints, even if she didn't like or plan to do maintenance on the bot- girl- thing. It was the principle of the matter.

They only got ten minutes into it, Ruby 'accidentally' hitting Ennard whenever she started to say something bitter or nasty, when she suddenly looked up and towards the door. "Shit ghost," was all she said and everyone in the know visibly braced themselves, Spring hurriedly moving to stand with Goldy instead of near the door. Alex looked at her oddly, briefly wondering if the teenager was insulting her.

Afton looked confused too, briefly glancing at Alex in concern as he probably wondered the same thing.

Ennard didn't notice Ruby's demeanor as she finally got an arm free and started wriggling, metal parts grinding together in a way that made most of the bots grimace from the uncomfortable sound. Still, they had other concerns.

Ruby didn't move from her position but she wasn't continuing with her work. In a very rare moment of empathy, she looked at Ennard and whispered, "This isn't going to be a happy reunion. And I'm sorry about that."

Foxy was the only one who heard and he looked away. He was pretty sure that Bonnie was still somewhat nearby so he was probably going to hear what was about to happen. Bonnie hated not knowing something, that drive enough to keep him most likely in the other hallway near the door or even in a neighboring room with a connected vent.

Chica stepped behind Freddy and tucked her face into his back, knowing that she wasn't going to stop from crying in a few minutes, no matter how hard she tried.

Chi and Teddy looked at her in worry while Mangle and Toby kept their focus on the door as Michael appeared.

He didn't say anything for a second. Will faced the other way with his attention on Ennard so the older man didn't even see him at first. Michael just stood there. Ruby actually felt a bit of pity for him in this moment.

Ennard paused in using her claws to scrap out gunk from the crevices in her torso, ignoring Ruby's odd warning in both confusion and stubbornness because the tone was so unexpected. She sensed something, not sure what it was at first. Then she looked up and froze.

"... Mickey…"

Will spun around, his eyes widening. "Michael?"

Michael glanced at him blandly. Ruby's drop of pity for him dried back up at his expression. This was going to get really ugly.

"Michael!"

Chica bit back a sob at just how hopeful Will sounded as he took a step toward his son. To pull him into a hug perhaps?

Will had been prepared for the animosity from the animatronics, but they hadn't been sure whether he expected the same reaction from Michael. He clearly didn't know Michael was dead, but the relief in his voice made it obvious he suspected something bad had happened to his son. The misplaced hope hurt, even those angry with Will.

Foxy took three steps to grab Will by the arm to stop him, confusing Will as he tried to pull away with a stammered question.

It had been a long time since they'd seen Ruby this sad as she watched the man. She didn't say anything though. She had no place in this particular family wound. She could be there for those she could comfort. She could deal with Ennard and make sure she couldn't hurt anyone else. But she couldn't step in now. This pain wasn't hers to touch. Everyone else felt it in this moment and she was an outsider, so for once she said nothing and only watched. She glanced towards Alex, guessing that she was feeling even more of an outsider at the moment.

She needed a break. Everyone needed a break but Alex hadn't even had a proper chance to grieve herself. They definitely weren't getting that break as long as Michael was here though.

Michael's gaze slid between Ennard and Will, skipping over Ruby entirely for once. He hadn't said anything and everyone waited for his reaction, for Will's realisation, for Ennard's reaction.

The moment was taking too long and Puppet was wondering how long they allowed Michael to just stare. He hadn't even reacted to Timmy like this.

He didn't miss the way Alex ducked slightly behind him, still sitting on the floor with tools scattered around, and he wondered what kind of emotional tsunami she was being hit with. Ruby's walls were probably as high as she could get them in her state, but Alex was new to all of this.

Michael was frozen. His face was blank but his eyes were wide, flicking as he took in what he was looking at. The glitter glue didn't really make it any better. Ruby already ruined the stuff for him so that wasn't saying much… Not to mention that she was perched on the box right next to Ennard, not moving for the moment.

"...M-Mickey?" Ennard said again, much more subdued now. She had to know something was wrong, especially after speaking to Timmy and getting familiar with how he felt. Her inexperience with other ghosts was working against her and she just couldn't be sure.

Ruby noticed the voice Ennard used, the same as when she met Puppet again. Then Timmy. Her gaze slid sideways, to a corner of the room.

Baby finally flinched, thrown off by Michael's surprising presence. Ennard never used Elizabeth's voice.

That little word escaping from whatever the hell was Ennard shocked Michael into moving. He just blinked at first. Then he turned to Will, his face twisting to something frightening.

Will took a half step back on instinct, not recognizing his son for a moment. "Michael…" he breathed.

No matter how incredibly angry Foxy was, he still pulled Will back a few steps, trying to make the man move more behind him as if that would really do anything to protect him from his eldest.

Michael chuckled, a cold humorless noise, and the lights in the room crackled and flashed.

"You aren't even going to say hello, Father?" Michael asked Will, the scary calm in his voice setting everyone on edge.

"Michael..." Will whispered again, his voice shaky from the welling of emotions etched by confusion. "You look..." he wasn't sure what to say.

Michael grinned with a pained expression. "What? Like I'm barely a day over 21? Wanna know my secret? You could use it, old man."

"Michael, I..." Will stepped closer and reached out. Foxy pulled him back, not letting him get much closer to the ghost.

"It's very simple," Michael said coldly. "Take a gun and stick it in your mouth. You can ask Jeremy for his. He'd probably let you borrow it. Though you probably should have done that years ago to make it more effective."

Will looked stunned. "What?"

Michael stepped back, staring at Will in confusion for a moment. He looked up and laughed again. "Wait… You don't know, do you?" He snickered and a few of the lights nearest to him flickered. He sounded manic.

Ruby shot Michael an 'are you really that stupid' look but she kept her mouth shut. She was genuinely grateful to Foxy for putting aside his problems with Will for the moment. The man needed someone, and it couldn't be her. It couldn't be Alex, who was starting to slowly panic as she put pieces together. And Goldy really needed a break from being the comfort anchor. Puppet was probably shutting down again.

Goldy felt like she needed to remove him. To protect Will from this. But for some reason, she couldn't move. She knew she could beat Michael any day but something about his rage just under the surface scared her, dragging her back to the times years ago when she saw the amusement Michael couldn't always hide in his cruelty. She was too young back then to understand the hints of what she was seeing, Michael making everyone forget with apologies and the sweet things he would do to get others to forgive him. She was too tired to move past those memories, looking at the floor and trying to block at least some of it out.

There were very few bots actually looking at the three Aftons. Most were staring at the floor or wall or even the ceiling. BB had been hiding behind Teddy since the ghost appeared. Ennard was still watching but not saying anything. Ruby doubted she even knew what to say. Timmy had been enough of a shock. This was going to be a rough ride for her.

Michael's concerning giggles continued. "You… heh…You never even thought to check in on me, did you?"

"I..." Will swallowed. He couldn't move. "I thought you were dead." His voice cracked. "I couldn't find you. Michael… Son, where… where did you go? I thought… Your mother said you came home but… "

Michael started laughing harder, wheezing as if he needed to breathe. There were tears in his eyes at how hard he laughed. Or maybe they were imagining it.

"Michael, please..." Will tried to stammer through his cracking voice and Michael's maniacal laughter. "Where..."

"YOU DON'T GET TO SAY MY NAME!" Michael shouted, stalking across the room to scream in his father's face, completely ignoring Foxy's growling as he tried to pull the stunned man further away. "YOU DON'T GET TO ASK WHERE I WAS. WHERE WERE YOU WHEN MOM DIED?! You didn't even come to the funeral! If you couldn't even do that, you don't deserve to ask where I was!" His voice dropped to an abrupt growl. "But. I think I'm going to tell you anyway. I finally picked up a few hobbies, Dad. You should be proud. I'm already such a fucking disappointment after what I did to Tim. I bet I can't possibly sink lower, eh Dad? Right?! RIGHT?!"

The lights were flickering madly and the ones closest to Michael blew.

"You were never a… Michael, it was an accident…" Will stammered, genuinely shocked at Michael's words. The rest couldn't be sure if he somehow impossibly didn't notice the lights. His gaze was so focused on Michael.

Michael reeled back for a moment, then laughed. "Funny. That's what I said, but no one believed me. I saw how you looked at me. How Mom looked at me. You couldn't stand to look at me."

"That isn't true," Will said, something breaking through the shock and uncertainty as he was firm with his words. "You needed to face the consequences! That doesn't mean your mother and I didn't love you!"

"You loved me?! You sent me to prison! Don't fucking stand there and tell me you thought it was an accident!"

"You want to have this discussion. Now?!" Will's anger slipped through. "It couldn't be a- a slap on the wrist! It was an accident. That didn't make it- didn't make it alright." His voice broke a little. "You were reckless! You made the poor choices that led to it happening! Choices! To hurt your brother and sister as a horrible joke–"

"THAT FREAK IS NOT MY SISTER!" Michael screamed, pointing at Goldy who looked like she wanted to hide away from the memories, curling away from Michael's words that were unfortunately too familiar to many of the bots.

The Funtimes that were awake were watching everything with wide, confused eyes. They could barely keep up with what was happening.

Alex had shuffled backwards until she hit the wall, and was almost laying on the floor, tears streaming from her squeezed shut eyes as her hands pressed down tight over her ears. It was doing nothing to stop the painful barrage of emotions invading her mind, but she didn't have the strength to stand and leave.

Ennard… Elizabeth, was looking between them now, claws curling around the edge of the box again. Something about her looked worried and Ruby kept an eye on her in her peripheral vision. The teenager herself had curled a little in on herself. This anger was actually getting through her walls with her as drained as she was and it freaked her out a little. She recognised this kind of anger. She'd felt this kind of anger before. Nothing good came from it. She did catch a spark of anger from Timmy at Michael's words under everything. Of anyone involved, Timmy was the only one who could decide who, if anyone, was at fault. And he was adamant that it wasn't Goldy. He'd decided it was an accident.

Will looked pained at Michael's words, hating the way Michael had turned against the bots he considered as his children as well. "You made a mistake," he said, voice quieter. "There were consequences to that. But we knew it was a mistake. I couldn't just… just hide it. Pay for it to go away."

"Like you did to Lizzie?! Look how that fucking turned out!" Michael laughed, his voice taking on a hysterical edge. "Everyone forgot about her! All because you cared more about your stupid science experiments than us! Wasn't that a mistake? A FUCKING ACCIDENT! And what sort of fucking CONSEQUENCES did she get!" He pointed to Baby now.

Baby sucked in a "breath" and looked down, shying away from Michael. Away from Ennard. Away from everyone else.

Ennard ducked slightly at the attention suddenly shifting to her. Even Ruby was looking a bit overwhelmed by the explosion of the argument, gaze darting between the father and son in shock.

But Will matched Michael's energy and volume as he abandoned any sense of calm after everything that was happening.

"It was a code! It wasn't something she could control. If anyone was at fault for that, it was me! I'm the one who missed that- that vile string of coding that caused all of that. It was not Baby's fault. It never was. Those mistakes were on my conscience, Michael."

"You were always making excuses for them!" Michael shouted.

"I made excuses for all of you!" Will snapped.

It was quiet for a second.

Michael stared.

Will was breathing hard, not quite noticing that Michael wasn't breathing at all. He looked guilty for losing his temper, even as his son screamed at him. His voice was lower as he continued. "How many times did I turn a blind eye from how rough you played? How many times did I have to pull you out of school for hurting other children because you wouldn't care about the consequences like other children? You had no shame! How many times did I have to tell Lizzie or Spring we couldn't get pets because I was worried what you'd do to them?"

He'd long since pulled himself free from Foxy who'd actually backed up from the fight with wide eyes.

Ennard's gaze snapped fully to Michael again while Spring understood immediately, looking sick at the thought.

Michael sneered. "You knew. You knew I was sick?!"

"You aren't sick! You're different! And of course, we knew, Michael! We also knew you could turn out okay! We knew you could have had a good life!"

Michael ran a hand down his face and laughed. "What life? Fuck. FUCK! You should have put me down like a dog when you had the chance!" He cracked up laughing.

Ruby felt her own anger rising, grabbing at the box's edge. It pissed her off to no end to see Michael getting this chance to see his dad again and royally fucking it up. Making a joke of it and treating the moment like nothing but a blame game. The jealousy that burned at her didn't help and she felt the absurd urge to cry. She chalked it up to how tired she was.

Will seemed to get control of himself, wrangling his pain and emotions down just enough to realize the argument was inappropriate at the moment. This was not a fight that should have an audience. This was not a fight that he wanted when seeing his son for the first time in years. "Michael. Michael, please. I'm just… this isn't the time. I'm just happy to see you—"

Michael laughed harder.

Elizabeth lowered herself as much as she could and still see the train wreck happening in front of her. It was denial. She knew it had to be denial. She could tell. Everyone could tell. Her dad just… didn't want to understand what he was seeing. She didn't want to understand what she was seeing.

Michael snickered. "Look at me, Dad. LOOK AT ME! Do I fucking look thirty-six to you?! Are you really that thick?!"

Elizabeth let out a quiet, distressed burst of static.

Michael paused, but only for a moment. He didn't look at Ennard yet. "Look. At. Me."

Goldy hid her face in her hands, sitting on the floor and against the furthest wall. She didn't want to see Will break any more than he already had.

"I…" Will's voice cracked. "I couldn't find you…" He shook his head slightly. The pain in his voice hurt. Even Puppet couldn't bear to watch the realisation finally hit when Will's denial cracked.

Michael smiled.

"Michael," Spring said bravely, quietly and still with others between them.. "Please… for once. Don't choose to be the monster again."

There was a flicker of something in Michael's eyes but it was gone as soon as it came. He lowered his voice. "You should have left me in prison, Father dear. You could have pulled the right strings. You could have locked me away somewhere. You should have. But you didn't." He paused and tilted his head just slightly, his grin a little sharper. "And I made a bunch of little kids pay for your little mistake."

Ruby wanted to scream at him. She wanted to rage at his desire to hurt and his obliviousness to what a dad was. Parents loved their kids. That was the core of it. And Michael just didn't understand that.

She wanted to sob at the sight of him ruining an opportunity she would have done anything for.

"You remember Fitzgerald's kid? Uncle Scott's niece. His real niece?" Michael continued before his father could fully process the words.

"Hedwig… " Will whispered.

"Well, I got really sick of your precious experiments replacing Lizzie with her. They doted on her. She was always at the restaurant. Always reminding me of everything we lost. I didn't think it was very fair that they could just move on. So I wanted to take her away. I fucked up a little. Five other kids got in the way and I'll admit I sucked at improvising. It was just supposed to be her. I was going to leave her body crushed inside Spring, like what happened to Lizzie. But hey, at least I was going to have the decency to kill her first!" He thought he was hilarious.

Ennard made a tiny little whimpering noise that only Ruby really heard.

Spring didn't move, just staring at the ghost in both disappointment and anger. Michael had a choice right there and still didn't choose right… He chose to hurt others like he always did. He always chose wrong.

Will had stepped back. He looked pale as he backed up. He looked sick. "M-Michael…"

"But she had to go and fuck it up and bring a few of her friends along. So I ended up killing them instead. I shoved their bodies into Freddy, Chica, Bonnie, and Foxy. Oh and Goldy! She was just lucky enough to be hanging around that day!"

Ennard made another noise, this one loud enough for the rest of them to hear and catching Michael's attention. He stiffened but still wouldn't look.

Baby was absorbing it all and the only emotion she could really land on was anger. Anger that Michael would choose to do such horrible things and rub it in their faces as the first thing Eliz–Ennard saw of him. She tried not to think about Ennard or who she was much at all these days but everything about this just felt so wrong.

"N-no…"

Michael was dragged out of his rage-induced hurt to glance at Ennard against his will.

The thing that he hadn't fully accepted was Lizzie was making weak sobbing noises.

There was a glimmer of something in Michael and some of them really liked to think he regretted saying these things in front of his little sister. Because as much as every one of them would like to deny it, that bundle of parts was Elizabeth and she heard all of this.

They could see Michael think for a moment before he turned back to Will who had backed into a table with Foxy frozen beside him. Michael chose not to consider Elizabeth, because that would require admitting he accepted what he was looking at.

"Don't worry, Pops," he said, cruelly stealing the name that had really only belonged to the animatronics and occasionally Timmy. "Your creations took care of me when you couldn't. Spring killed me. Heh. You know, I really should have listened to all those warnings about how stupid it would be to wear him like a suit. I really only focused on how violating you thought it was."

Will was silent. Tears streamed down his face but he didn't make a sound. He just stared.

What hurt the most was the tiny bit of hope in the man's eyes, as if he hoped Michael would take it all back and claim he was joking, as sick of a joke as it was.

It wasn't the reaction Michael wanted though. "Your kids are dead, old man. Your real ones. The Afton family line ended with me. So what now? You going to run away again?" He smiled, almost peacefully. "Do you still love me now, Dad?"

"I hate you."

The words were soft but held so much rage that Michael actually flinched. But that wasn't Will.

The table Will was leaning on screeched against the floor as he stumbled more of his weight into it at the sight of Timmy as the small ghost flickered into view instead of the smooth transition they had grown used to. The bots could see the man shut down as his mind tried its best to process what he was seeing.

Timmy was glaring at Michael with so much anger it stung even those it wasn't directed towards.

"You're a monster, Michael. You can't even take a moment to think of someone else you pretend to care about!" the boy sobbed at his brother with the hopelessness of knowing it was pointless. His eyes always looked a little teary, even when he was happy, but now tears poured down his cheeks in pain. "I loved you! Even when you hurt me I loved you and I was so STUPID to think that would be enough for you in the end!"

He stalked up to Michael and hit him in the stomach as hard as he could. "I hate you! I HATE YOU! I WISH YOU'D JUST GO AWAY AND LEAVE US ALONE! I WISH I WAS BRAVE ENOUGH TO KILL YOU MYSELF BEFORE YOU HURT ANYONE ELSE! I WAS TOO MUCH OF A COWARD AND A CRYBABY LIKE YOU ALWAYS SAID!" He pounded his fists into Michael in frustration and rage, fighting and kicking as Michael's eyes widened and he grabbed Timmy's forearms until the boy ripped away and turned his back on Michael as he tripped on his own feet to land on his hands and knees with a broken cry. He screamed into the tiles.

The building rocked as Timmy truly lost whatever peace had carried him through the past twenty years and prevented him from falling like the other children had.

Goldy bowed her head and couldn't do anything but cry in guilt, knowing that she needed to help him. But she… just… couldn't. She couldn't risk looking up and seeing everyone right now. She just… couldn't handle it. She couldn't do anything. She was so weak and pathetic. She noticed a shift in the energy in the room a moment later.

The anger left Ruby in a rush and she shoved her pain back into that little box that let her function every day. She jumped off the container Ennard was still trapped in, stumbling for a moment before bolting to the boy that was rocking the building with decades of pain and frustration and hurt finally spilling out. She ignored how Will was leaning against a table as his legs threatened to give out. She ignored Michael's stunned shock and creeping regret as he took half a step towards his brother and faltered. She ignored Elizabeth's quiet static filled sobbing. Timmy needed help more than anyone else in this room right now. And she needed to step up and be that person.

She hit the ground hard enough to jar her entire body, pushing past the pressure of pain that was wrapped around the little boy.

"Timmy," she murmured, reaching through the hurt and dangerous anger radiating from him. "Come here kiddo."

The teenager pulled him close, holding him tight and letting the mess of emotions run through her as her own walls shattered.

"It's going to be okay," she whispered, "It's going to be okay, sweetheart. You can let it out. You can cry and scream and do anything you need to. You can give me that anger Tim, I know how to deal with it. Don't hold onto it, let it go. Let all of it go."

He was clinging to her shirt by now, sobbing in her arms as he tried to hide from the world and all the people that kept breaking his heart. That anger that the ghost kids had held onto and let twist their souls into something unrecognizable spilled out into the teenager and she held him tight. She knew this fury and had given into it before. It had made her lash out and hurt people the longer she held onto it. It was the part of her she'd tried to grow out of, to let go. She could let herself be angry with people, with the world, with herself, but she refused to dredge up that old anger that only hurt her more.

She knew how to deal with it and it ran through her and out into nothing as she let it go. It didn't have a hold on her anymore and she'd take it for Timmy because she knew how to let it go and a ghost didn't have anywhere to put it otherwise. It slowly dwindled over time, the anger running out like she knew it would eventually. She wasn't sure how long they sat there until he was just crying instead of screaming and spilling out enough emotion to send the building into a frenzy.

"It's okay," she whispered, drained in an entirely different way and vision turning black at the edges. "You're okay. You're okay, sweetheart. I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going to leave you, I'm not going to hurt you, I'm not going to break your heart."

The words were just spilling out as she still had his pain bouncing off her, giving her a clear picture of his fears and how he just hurt. She meant everything she said in that moment from the bottom of her battered heart and Timmy could feel that they weren't empty words.

"I promise," she told him fiercely. "I promise I'll stay until you're ready to leave, until you're ready to see your mom again."

She just knelt there, Timmy wrapped in her arms and breathed out reassurances and promises, ignoring everything else in the room, in the world. This little boy needed someone and the people that should be in her place were fucking everything up to a miserable degree. So she'd do it and she'd be the big sister that Timmy needed right now. She pressed a kiss to the top of his head and tucked him under her chin.

"I've got you."

Will was on the floor almost under the table now, having collapsed sometime in the last couple minutes as he just couldn't take it anymore. He was sobbing in a way that should break any child's heart if they saw their father breaking down like that. Ruby couldn't even comprehend how she might feel if she saw her dad cry like that and she quickly chased those thoughts away before they could hurt anymore so that Timmy had all her focus.

Michael just stared down at Will in hate before he switched his attention to Timmy and Ruby, angry at the latter and not sure what he was feeling about the former's words. Hurt maybe… He couldn't be sure. He didn't want to be sure. Ruby had soaked up most of the overflowing feelings and her walls were non-existent so Michael could actually feel her for once. There was exhaustion, disappointment and a deep love he shied away from as it was all directed at Timmy.

Foxy watched the lights above Ruby and Timmy for a moment, even at the risk of the flashing triggering a reset. After a moment, he crouched down next to the sobbing Will. He tried his best to ignore how much it hurt to see Timmy and Will like this, his selfish but earned feelings of abandonment and just plain anger be damned as the hurt overwhelmed them all.

"You need to leave," he muttered to Will. "You… y-you need to leave. Will, you can't be here anymore…" He looked up, eyes searching for anyone else who was in a state to help. Will was going to keep getting hurt if he stayed.

Puppet was not an option. He was trembling, still on the floor where he stopped working. His hands were clenched as he stared into space.

Goldy was in the corner, sobbing like she was a little "girl" again. She'd closed herself off as best she could from the emotions in the room, not able to deal with it and her own pain at the same time.

Foxy's eyes skipped over the Toys and the other Originals, knowing there wasn't a good option there before his gaze landed on Spring.

Spring met his eyes and walked over with a nod. "I got him…" the rabbit was quiet as he helped the man up even with Will's faint but frantic arguments that weren't even coherent.

"N-no… I need…" Will tried. "Tim. I… can't just. I h-have to… please… my boy… Spring, son, let go. Please." He moved as if trying to go towards Timmy but he wouldn't have made it even if the two animatronics let him.

Foxy whispered something as he helped Spring support the man. "Pops. Please, you gotta go with Spring." He made damn sure no one else could hear him besides Spring and the name left something stinging in him. He was not ready to call Will that, and he probably wouldn't be for a long while, if ever. But he let the lie help Will focus. Just this once.

It seemed to work because Will trailed into mumbles and leaned on Spring as he cried.

"Come on…" Spring said softly, glancing at Foxy in worry. "You don't have to leave completely. The kitchen is close by."

Will was still weakly struggling as Spring held him around the shoulders and guided the man out the door, passing Michael.

Spring looked at Michael as the man refused to move out of the way and just stared at them. He was ignoring his siblings, desperately trying to hold onto the pride at reducing his father to a puddle of agony and grief that could barely walk. Spring wasn't even angry. But even with the mess of a man he was holding up, he still felt like he needed to say something.

"Look." Spring nodded to Timmy and Lizzie. "Look at what you did. And tell me if it was worth it."

And he left, taking Will with him as the older man mumbled what might have been apologies. The rabbit could faintly hear Foxy murmur a few words of apology to Alex, who was an incoherent sobbing mess from the bombardment of feelings that weren't hers. The fox couldn't move her so he was helpless to really do much for her. Spring resolved to talk to the ghost when he could. None of this was fair, but especially to her. She was being dragged into the pain of a family she was a stranger to and that had to be tearing her apart. She just died for goodness sake and he had a feeling that she had barely gotten any chance to process that. She didn't have anyone without Hedy there and that felt so cruel. She deserved more peace than what they could provide at the moment.

Melodic humming followed them out as Ruby sang an old lullaby she barely remembered for the little boy grieving everything he'd lost.


Alex stumbled out of the room in the opposite hallway, trying to get away from the pain and anger and grief and…

It was too much. It was too much. It was too much!

She didn't even know it was possible to be this angry or this sad or hopeless.

"Stop it… Stop it, please…" she mumbled without even meaning too. She felt her stomach drop at the awareness that her panicked little plea was heard.

Goldy curled in tighter in her guilt, weakly trying to let Alex know how sorry she was.

Alex hated that she knew what Goldy was feeling.

Ruby acknowledged her then ignored her. It wasn't meant to be cruel. The teen was just aware she was not the one who could help the woman. She didn't have enough left in her to help anyone but the boy in her arms.

Alex hated that she knew what Ruby was feeling.

Timmy was a whirlwind of pain that made Alex dizzy and he was so absorbed in his grief that Ruby was the entirety of his world at that moment.

Alex hated that she knew what Timmy was feeling.

Michael… that… man that set everything off. He "glanced" at her and her skin crawled from how he studied her. The anger that drowned out everything else was from him and the hate made her nauseous. His mental gaze lingered on her for longer than she'd like and she wished she knew how to push him away.

She slid down the wall, gagging even though nothing would ever come up. She wondered for a moment if this was what going insane felt like.

"I don't want this," Alex whispered, swallowing and squeezing her eyes shut. She was trying so hard not to cry again but it was a lost cause. "I don't want this. Leave me alone. Leave me alone! Please!"

Goldy backed off to something so quiet the bear was a little speck of dust in the corner of a room. Ruby and the little boy suddenly weren't there.

That man. The man that had tried to murder Hedy as a child. He was still there. It made her sick.

"Leave me alone," she begged again, breaking down into tears, but he stayed.

He was disinterested. He wasn't trying to bother her. She got the sense that he couldn't leave her alone, as if he didn't know how but he just didn't care to try. She hated to know that. SHE HATED KNOWING WHAT HE WAS FEELING!

He was amused again and she quietly screamed in frustration.

And through it all she was dead! She was dead and there was no one there left to really care.


Spring didn't bother looking back as he guided William Afton, his creator (that was still an odd thought), to the kitchen. The staff room would have been better but it was further into the building. The kitchen was close by and Will could barely walk as it was.

Spring got the man seated at the single table in the kitchen and immediately turned the stove on to heat up some water for tea. He had to pause a second to remember how, despite Chica showing him a few times.

He frowned as he realized a problem. There was no tea in the kitchen, ironically, unless the iced tea mixes for the customers counted. All the good tea that was for the staff was in the staff room and Spring did not want to leave the man alone right now.

A box startled him as it was dropped from eye height onto the counter beside him.

"Thanks?" he said to the Building, a little confused. It didn't usually pay attention to any wants of the animatronics. Then again… he'd never actually asked it for anything. That was Hedy and Ruby's thing. He wondered if the building liked him and the other animatronics more than they thought and the only reason why it allowed some of the more awful things in their lives to happen was simply because they never thought to ask it for help. He wasn't sure if that was really a pleasant thought and really didn't want to go down the rabbit hole of 'what ifs'.

Heh. Rabbit hole. Mike would like that joke. Stop it, Spring. You need to focus. It was funny though…

He read the instructions and hunted for a mug, which thankfully existed in the kitchen despite also being a "staff thing." It probably belonged to one of the cooks who liked coffee while they prepped in the morning.

He turned back around to see Afton, bent over with his forehead on the table as he quietly wept, his arms over his head as if to shield himself from his life crashing down around him more than he thought it already had.

Spring carefully set the mug down in front of him. "You should probably drink something. Hedy gets a headache after she cries because she gets dehydrated."

Mr. Afton didn't speak for a moment, his fingers tangled in his salt and pepper hair that had more salt than pepper.

"I'm so sorry…" the man said quietly without lifting his head, his voice muffled.

"For what?" Spring asked cautiously. It wasn't what he expected the man to say first. He honestly expected Mr. Afton to be angry with him, realizing halfway to the kitchen that the man might not want to be around the bot that willingly killed one of his children. At least with Goldy and Baby those had been accidents.

"For leaving. I should never have left. I should never…" It was quiet before Mr. Afton lifted his eyes to look at Spring. "Spring… did you really kill Michael?" His voice cracked in grief.

"Yes," Spring said, with no pride in his tone. "I don't really remember it. But I know I did and sometimes I get little bits and pieces. And I'm sorry, but I can't say I regret it. He would have hurt more people, more children, if I didn't do anything." Death hadn't stopped him from trying despite it all.

The man didn't respond for a moment longer. "What happened?"

"I don't think you want to know, Mr. Afton…" Spring said honestly.

"Was it the spring locks?"

Spring's silence was enough of an answer and Will bowed his head again with a shudder and another sob as he pulled the tea closer. "Pops…" Afton murmured.

"Excuse me?" Spring tilted his head.

"That's what you and the others used to call me," Afton whispered, his eyes not leaving the mug before him. "That or just Will. I never minded either way, although I wished you called me Dad or Pops more. Michael always got upset when you called me Dad so you eventually stopped just to not fight with him. I should not have let Michael get away with it. I told myself I just never wanted to force anything and Marionette insisted he was okay with sticking to 'Pops'. You, especially, never called me 'Mr. Afton' although I asked you and Michael to do so when we were working in front of customers. To not catch their attention and so Michael didn't get special treatment from the staff. You always refused though. You said it felt wrong."

"I'm sorry," Spring said genuinely. "I just… don't know you." At the frightened and confused look from Afton he explained, trying to be as gentle as he could even though that was mostly impossible. "Michael… he can possess me. Because he died inside me," Spring said, noting how Mr. Afton tensed with a horrified expression and made a noise like a small gag that he tried to hide, but the rabbit continued anyway.

"He can't right now, but that's a different story. But he could be inside my head and control my body like it's his own. And every minute he did, there was a part of him that wrote over my memories as if he were lines of code just like me. And the longer that happened, the more of myself I lost. I can't remember you. Or Timmy. Or… Elizabeth…"

Spring stopped, letting himself feel sad for a moment. "I can't remember any of the other bots from before Michael was up here." He tapped his head. "I don't remember coming alive. I just remember him being part of me and hurting me, even though I knew there had been something before him. I always knew I was my own person, even if he tried to tell me otherwise."

"You don't know who I am…" Afton said in depressed realization despite the horror of what he was hearing. "That explains why you aren't as angry with me…"

"I'm angry because I see how the others are hurting," Spring said. "But I want to give you a chance. They're too hurt to think about anyone else right now. But I'm not."

Afton nodded.

"... I can call you 'Will' if you'd like," Spring offered.

"I'd like that…" Mr. Afton–Will said softly.

They lapsed into silence again.

"Timmy is here…" Will breathed, tears choking up his voice.

"Yeah. He never left apparently."

Will sobbed and Spring winced at the sound. He'd always hated it when people cried.

Will calmed his breathing after a minute. "Does he hate me? For leaving him behind? For not…" He trailed off.

"Well, I think he missed you. And he's hurting a lot right now, but from what I understand, he's glad you're back."

Will only nodded noncommittally and Spring sat down in the other chair, waiting for the man to say something.

"Meww!"

Will startled at the high pitched sound, looking around wildly as Spring got up and opened up a cabinet out of the way of where the restaurant pantry stables were kept.

Will blinked as he noticed the small cat at Spring's heels. He cracked out a watery chuckle, earning a questioning look from Spring.

"Y-you ended up getting a cat after all…" Will whispered. "Unless my eyes are worse than I thought and that's a strangely shaped and colored raccoon."

"Kitty is a cat," Spring confirmed, amused. "Pretty sure she thinks she's either a human or a bot too." He looked down and made a clicking noise, mimicking how a human could make a click by pulling their tongue sharply away from the roof of their mouth.

Kitty climbed up his body like a tree, her claws digging into his suit before she primly perched on his shoulder and licked herself. She held on as Spring started moving back toward Will and the table, the bot grabbing some sanitizing wipes from another counter as he went. Kitty jumped down onto the table as Spring set a bowl of cat food down between himself and Will.

The two of them watched and listened to the crunch of the small cat eating. Kitty purred all the while. She didn't seem too bothered by Will's presence, despite how she usually avoided strangers.

"Can I pet her?" Will asked quietly.

"Sure, if she lets you," Spring replied, watching as Will hesitantly reached out a hand.

Kitty stopped eating to lick the man's fingers before nuzzling against his hand as she let him pet her. She abandoned her food to get closer to the man before laying down on the table against one arm as he continued to pet with the other hand.

"She likes you," Spring said.

"Thank goodness someone does," Will chuckled. He looked up. "You named her Kitty?"

"I don't think you're in a position to judge my naming skills, Mr. Afton," Spring joked and Will looked a little offended. "It was supposed to be a placeholder but it kinda stuck."

"I see."

"Ruby likes you too. That matters a lot here," Spring decided to say.

Afton looked confused. "That is not the assumption I would make."

"She's rough around the edges. She's blunt and she's a little mean, even to us sometimes. But she means well. She just has a hard time expressing how she cares. But she trusts you. It's kind of throwing the others off."

"What makes you say that? She's seemed suspicious of me since the start."

Spring shut his mouth, unsure if he should say.

Will didn't break eye contact. "Her tools. There was something important about how she allowed me to use them… How come?" He'd seen the sheer shock on everyone's face when she offered.

"They belonged to her dad," Spring supplied readily after he pushed aside the hesitation. "He… uh… isn't around. He and her mom—"

"Ms. Fitzgerald… Hedwig, informed me. They died, correct?"

Spring nodded. "Murdered… Well, everyone thought it was a car accident. Jeremy is the one who figured out it was murder earlier this year. It really hit her hard."

"I see…" Will said again as he trailed off, unsure of all the implications. "I'm honored she trusted me enough. I don't know what I did to earn that trust."

"You showed up. You're trying to make up for leaving us." Spring shrugged. "And she doesn't fully trust you, but she knows you know how to work on us. And she can see that you care, even with everyone upset. With Hedy hurt, she knows we're going to have to rely on you more than the others want. In any other situation, she probably wouldn't have let you use them. But the circumstances called for it."

"You were always the most perceptive when it came to people," Will said sadly with a weak smile.

Spring tilted his head. "Was I?"

"Yes."

"Hm. I like to think I prefer to be honest. I don't like people hiding how they feel or holding on to bad feelings more than necessary. I especially don't like anger. I got enough of that with Michael."

Will sobered and looked down at the cat he continued to pet, although his hand shook slightly. "I'm… I'm so sorry, Spring. I'm so sorry he did all that to you."

"It's not actually your fault, you know," Spring said, not really accepting the apology. "No matter how much Michael wants you to believe it. He's still responsible for his actions. Maybe you made mistakes raising him. I don't really know. It probably wasn't easy with how he is and with us at the same time. But it sounds like you tried. Everyone's going to give you shit for still loving him, if you do. But in the end, he's still responsible for everything he says and does. I think it's good that you're hurting about it though."

Will looked up in confusion.

"It means you care. And you're not denying what he did," Spring said simply. He glanced out the door. "Do you think you can go back yet?"

"No," Will said immediately. "I… I can't… I need to. For Tim and Lizzie at least but…"

Spring nodded. "I wasn't going to suggest you go back yet. Everyone needs time to process. But we open in a few hours if Ruby doesn't remember to scare the Manager into closing for the day again. Mike just told him we'd be closed yesterday."

"Is it morning already?!"

Spring nodded. "The cleaners will be showing up soon. They're cool." He fidgeted a little. "They knew about us. And the ghosts…"

Will was very quiet for a moment. "Spring. Is there anything else I need to know? I'd rather… I'd rather have the day to think and recover…"

Spring nodded. "One more." He looked sadder. "Those children Michael murdered. They stayed as ghosts too. I'm sorry. They murdered a lot of people in their anger. Like Ennard."

Will's eyes widened and his lips pressed into a thin pained line. "Children…" his voice cracked, but after what he just went though, the news guiltily was not as shocking.

Spring nodded. "They're better now, but they've done a lot of bad things. A lot of night guards died because of them. Jeremy was almost one of their victims right after they died. Mike survived as a night guard too. One of them, Ginny, the one who possessed Goldy, she's the one who killed Scott. They can't possess Goldy and the Originals anymore. Ruby stopped them. And I promise they've gotten better, but I would still suggest you be cautious if they show up. They might lash out, especially if Hedy is hurt."

Will swallowed, thinking of his best friend. There was more to the story, he was sure, especially with Scott involved. But he could handle asking later.

"I heard about some children going missing… " he said quietly. Guiltily. "The news didn't make it clear they disappeared from the restaurant but the area mentioned… I had my suspicions. But I was told everything was fine and I… I didn't want to consider it… I should have looked into it… " His voice cracked.

Spring resolved to wait a while before mentioning that to the other animatronics. "Maybe," Spring said. "But that's one of those things where thinking about the 'what ifs' are more damaging than they're worth."

Will flinched but just nodded.

Spring felt bad about the constant shocks they were dropping on the man but he was pretty sure he'd be the nicest when explaining them. Goldy would probably be too nice and the others… well, he didn't think Puppet should be anywhere near Will for a bit. And Foxy was also still angry despite being able to push that aside for the moment. So it ended up being him and he didn't really mind.

He was curious about this man too. He'd heard bits and pieces about him but the others didn't really want to talk about Will much, even Goldy. Timmy had always looked about to cry when he was brought up and Michael… was Michael. That meant Spring would get a chance to get to know his creator without much bias in the way.

So far, what he'd figured out was that Will was sad. Fully and deeply… sad. And Spring didn't know how to help him.

"I can stay here as long as you need," he offered. "But I want to hear from the others how Hedy is doing so I might have to step out. Are you going to stay here all day?" He didn't think that was a good idea but he didn't really want to kick the man out. "Timmy will be okay. He'll come find you when he's ready."

"I should be there for him… "

Spring shook his head. "He's going to feel terrible for acting like that in front of you. Let him come to you. I know that goes against what you want to do as his father but he needs time, just like you." He stopped as he realized something he forgot to ask. "Do you… have anywhere to go?"

Will shook his head.

"... Well I can't really suggest the staff room. Ruby's probably going to sleep there. Foxy won't want you around her while she's resting."

Will cracked a weak smile. "I'll find a hotel, Spring. However, thank you for the concern."

Spring frowned but nodded. "Are you leaving now?"

Will thought for a minute. "I would like to meet the cleaners. I have some questions for them. You can go back to the others. I'll stay here until they arrive, then leave for the day. I'm not in a state to deal with this location's…manager." There was a bit of anger slipping through. "I will be okay."

Spring didn't look like he believed the man. "That's still going to be a few hours. How about… I'll stay until you finish that tea? Or until Kitty gets bored and leaves."

Will cracked a little smile. "Those terms are acceptable."

Spring felt the building shift at the gentle deal and he glanced up at the ceiling, but Will didn't seem to notice.

They sat like that for a little while longer. Will nursed the cup of tea because he didn't really want to be alone, that desire warring with the guilt of keeping Spring too long. In the end, they both let Kitty decide.

Spring followed Kitty after she got up with a stretch and a yawn. She jumped off the table and started sauntering in the vague direction of Fright where she usually spent the day. Spring wiped the table down after her. It was still a restaurant kitchen after all.

"It was nice to—" Spring cut off as he paused at the door and looked back at the man who forced a smile for him. "... I'm glad I finally got to meet you, Will," Spring said genuinely.

"I look forward to getting to know you again, Spring," Will said, the sadness at Spring's lost memories not entirely hidden.

Spring nodded as he left and Will leaned back in the chair and stared at the ceiling, alone in the kitchen. He didn't know whether the others were getting ready for work or how they would deal with the Funtimes and the parts scattered around the Toys' room. Or the damage from this… building reacting so violently. There was still a large crack in the Toys' room. He suspected that they would not be opening the restaurant for yet another day. Maybe several. But he would leave them to those decisions. He just sat there, grateful for Spring's calmness and missing it.

Because now he was alone with his thoughts.