A/N: What it says on the tin - this is going to be a collection of missing moments and snippets that didn't make it to Flat Dreams. I'm also open to prompts because why not, so hey. If you have an idea for one, drop me a line!
There is no worse blind man than the one who doesn't want to see.
She knows her son won't be hers to keep the moment she lays her eye on him for the first time.
His frame is still tender, far from hardening and settling, but even now - even as the infant cries and squirms, failing around with stumpy limbs - she can see it's not like her husband's at all. The base far wider, its length matching his other two sides. What she's looking at is not an Isosceles at all.
It's an Equilateral.
Lou's voice is low and uncertain, as always when he speaks. He is a meek man, has always been. He dares not speak what they both know, what they both see.
But she can unsee it, just for a while longer. She turns away, back to Lou. "No. It's too early to tell," she says, her voice firm despite the ache she can already feel at her very core. "Don't tell anyone just yet."
"We can't hide-"
"We're not hiding anything. We're just going to wait it out until his frame starts setting," she cuts him off. "Give me the blanket."
She wraps it around the infant, tight, and lulls him to sleep. Over the next few days, she lets no one see him with the blanket off. She tells them they're just being careful, that the child is sickly and shouldn't get cold. It is a lie, of course: far from sickly, the boy is healthy and alert and never still for long. He grows slightly bigger, slightly stronger - and remains, very clearly, an Equilateral. He's beautiful and perfect and she gets no joy from it.
He is a week old when Lou finally speaks of it again.
"... His frame is not going to change. We should get the Board to come take a look at him."
"You know what will happen if they do."
"He'll get a better life as part of the Equilateral class. They'd give him to a good family. Raise him right. It's more than what we can offer - and what if his frame changes because of us?"
"They'll take him away."
"They'll do it regardless. It will be easier if that happens now. Be reasonable."
She says nothing for a few moments and just looks at the child, squirming in the crib and trying to reach for his own feet. For a moment, only a moment, she's tempted to reach for something - anything - and strike him. Not enough to kill, but enough to maim, enough to shorten his lower side and make him an Isosceles like them. They wouldn't take him, then. She would get to raise her son.
But she would also take away his chance at a better life, and of course she can't do it. She closes her eye, lets out a sigh, and opens it again. The moment of madness has passed, leaving behind something else, something that lies heavy within her.
"Very well," is all she finally says.
Lou pauses, and when he speaks again his voice sounds strained. "We can still have other children. We-"
"And have them taken as well should they turn out to be Equilateral, too?" she cuts him off, and he falls silent. Their gazes meet, and he's the only one to turn away first. "No. They'll take this one, and that will be it. There will be no others."
He nods in silence, and leaves the room. She takes the squirming infant in her arms and holds him close, causing him to look up at her, eye wide like he's staring the Chief Circle himself.
It is bad luck to name a baby before their first month of life, because not all of them make it to it, so her son still has no name. There is one she wanted to give him, but she keeps it for herself. Someone else will choose his name, and what she wanted to call him doesn't matter anymore. But maybe it's better this way: if you name something you get attached to it, and Circles know she's too attached already.
The infant giggles - he does it all the time, even when there is nothing at all to be happy about - and reaches up for her, only to yelp when something falls from her eye to splash on him. The name she wished to give him almost leaves her in a murmur, but it does not. She never says it aloud. The child never hears it. When they come to evaluate him the next day they see what she's been trying to unsee, and take him away. Someone else gets to name him, someone else gets to raise him.
Years pass, and there are no more children. She never forgets the boy she had to give away.
But the name she'd wanted to give him, that she does forget.
There is no worse deaf man than the one who doesn't want to hear.
"Lou, who is it?"
The Triangle standing at their door is not someone she knows, but she instinctively mistrusts him. An Equilateral Triangle must be a merchant, and one of his kind can only be at their door to do one thing: sell. Their lack of education make them easy prey for scam hidden by big words, something the classes above them use to their advantage pretty often.
The Equilateral speaks before Lou can, tipping his hat. That, if anything, makes her even more suspicious - because that is not a gesture usually reserved to their class at all. "Bill Cipher," he says.
"Charmed," is the dry reply. "What do we owe the visit?"
"I figured it was about time I said hi."
She narrows her eye to take a better look, because her eyesight is beginning to fail her, and finds herself searching for something familiar in this Cipher, in the slit pupil staring right back at her with something that's not too far away from anticipation.
He'd stare up at her like she was the Chief Circle himself.
Something in the back of her mind clicks, and suddenly her hands are clammy on the door's handle. All of her instincts screaming for her to close the door now, she struggles to keep her voice firm. "... Have we met?"
"Yeah, you've birthed me somewhere along the line."
It feels all the world like a blow, and Lou has to feel the same, because he recoils next to her. For one long moment, all she can do is stare as comprehension - her son is there, standing right before her - sinks in. There is an impulse, much like the one that almost drove her to maiming him so she could keep him with her - only that now it is to reach out and hold tight, to lead him in the house, to ask him all about the life he's lead so far. She could do just that: all she'd need to do is reaching out. And she wants to. She wants to so badly that it hurts.
But she does not. Once again, the moment of madness passes and she knows what has to be done.
You shouldn't be here. Contact is forbidden. You're risking it all for nothing.
Before her, Bill Cipher shifts and speaks again, this time sounding somewhat awkward. "... Shoulda brought chocolate or something, I gue-"
"You must be mistaken. We never had any sons."
That causes him to rear back and blink in confusion; Lou takes advantage of it to retreat inside the house in silence, and she tries to close the door. Tries to, because he's faster, and jams the cane he's carrying through the door.
"Whoa, whoa, wait up. I'm looking for Lou Zeebub and his wife, and he said-"
"It is us, yes. But you're mistaken, sir. We never had a son," she cuts him off, hoping against hope that he will just accept that, that he'll ask nothing more. Even his voice is hard to listen to. There is a prickling in her eye, and her vision blurs. She blinks to clear it and stares at him in the eye, but fails to keep her voice firm when she speaks again. "You shouldn't be here. Please, leave."
I won't have you back at the price of everything you've gained.
He scowls, and somehow it's easier to bear than the expectant look he gave her earlier, far easier to bear than his confusion.
"Seriously? That's it? You haven't seen me since I was born, and all you can tell me now is to leave-"
They'll take him away.
They'll do it regardless. It will be easier if that happens now. Be reasonable.
"You could lose everything. Please. Be reasonable!"
For a moment - only one moment - he stares at her as though trying and failing to wrap his mind around her words - and then, suddenly, he laughs. It is a laugh with very little mirth in it, and it makes a cold chill run through her. It sounds so very wrong, so very unhinged, and she doesn't want to listen to it.
"Hahahahaha! You know what? Good point there. Yeah, guess you're right. I've got nothing to do with your kind. You're where you are 'cause you don't deserve any better," he says, and yanks the cane back. It is her chance to close the door, but she finds herself unable to move, unable to speak. "Have a reasonable day," he adds, and turns to leave.
Wait, she almost calls out, but not a sound leaves her. She just watches him walk off without turning once. A perfect Equilateral. Her son.
Bill Cipher, he said.
That is not your name, she thinks, but she can't remember what his real name should be, and she says nothing. She can only watch him leave, and hope he'll understand.
But he doesn't. Even later, with infinite knowledge at his disposal, with an eye that can see into the secrets of the universe, Bill Cipher will refuse to see things in any way but his own.
And there is no worse madman than the one who doesn't want to understand.