A/N: All right, I can't stay fluffy romantic for long. I'm just not BUILT that way. And as cute as these two are together… well… you can't change time without consequences. And thus I have created the most angsty ending in the universe. Hope nobody minds. Just don't say I didn't warn you!

- - - - - - - - -

Time heals all wounds, or so they say.

Mirage had manipulated time, had made it do what she had commanded; but time could not stand for it. Time does not bow to mere mortals; has never bowed to them since it began. Mirage was to be made to pay for altering Time and Fate's plans.

In the end, bodies, lives, emotions, souls, all die and disappear, utterly inconsequential. In the end, Time is all that remains.

- - - - - - - - - -

Life passes perfectly for Mirage. The Incredibles, their minds wiped even of the little boy Buddy Pine who called himself Incrediboy and memories of Nomanisan replaced with memories of a completely false supervillain, return to Metroville with little consequence. Mirage and Syndrome are happily and quietly married and living on Nomanisan in peace. Syndrome dabbles in superhero work - even joins forces with Mr. Incredibles once or twice (but never reveals his civilian identity) - but he remains unaware that he owes his success, his happiness, his very life, to Mirage. She prefers things this way, but the question eats away at her: to tell, or not to tell? What will Syndrome do if he knows? Will she utterly crush him, if he realizes that without her he could never have succeeded?

She cannot bear to risk it, especially now - for now she is pregnant, nearly ready to give birth. Soon Syndrome's peaceful little dream of living quietly with his own family will be complete. She wants it as much as he does; more so, perhaps, knowing what he might have been denied.

He keeps a doctor on the island to ensure Mirage won't be in any danger. He won't fly her to the hospital when the baby comes - it will take too long, in his opinion. He wants assurances that his wife and child will be all right, and he can only supervise here on Nomanisan, where he is already master. Here, he can control everything.

Well, perhaps not everything.

His faith in Time and Fate's cooperation has had no reason to be shaken; but Mirage's has. His death showed her that not everything works according to plan; that sometimes, life is just painful and there's no escape from it. She was able to change what had happened; but she suspects that Time is bringing some new painful twist to her life, something that she will not be able to undo.

She waits. She fears. She fears for her lover, and her child, and her future - but not for herself.

- - - - - - - - -

It is a simple fact of nature that Mirage was as delicate and fragile as glass. Syndrome has known this since the moment Mirage's stepfather threw her at his feet. It never occurred to him that perhaps she was too delicate to endure carrying a child.

But she is. She's in labor already, and it's one month too early. The doctor is performing to the best of his ability, but the prognosis is grim. "It's unlikely she'll survive this," he says softly to Syndrome, who is sitting outside his own bedroom, where Mirage is desperately attempting to survive the process of giving birth. Syndrome's face is buried in his hands. His future, his whole life, is disappearing faster than grains of sand from an hour glass.

"A miscarriage?" he asks fearfully.

"Most likely."

He is silent. There are no words to express his grief.

"We can't be for certain," the doctor says in an attempt to comfort him. "I have seen miracles."

Syndrome laughs bitterly. "Not on this island, my friend," he says. "This is the island of pain and hate. There were no miracles worked here - unless you count her." He motions to the closed, soundproof door. Mirage is behind it, suffering. He knows. He can almost feel her pain. "She's going to die."

The doctor cannot deny the hard truth. "Again, it's the most likely possibility, yes," he says.

Syndrome closes his eyes tightly, as though this will save him from the harsh reality. "But… everything was going so well," he whispers.

The doctor sighs. "I'm sorry," he says, and then he opens the door and disappears into the room.

- - - - - - - - -

After a few more hours, Nomanisan grows deathly silent. A calm settles over the place, a quiet sort of certainty, as though some sort of specter is satisfied with what has occurred.

Syndrome does not know the smell of death, but he knows something has changed. If death has not come already, then it will soon.

The door to his bedroom opens, and a nurse walks out. She tries to smile sympathetically at Syndrome, but he can only stare blankly at her. "Is she…?" he asks fearfully.

The nurse shakes her head. "Not yet," she says. She hesitates. "The baby was born."

"Stillborn?"

"No, very alive. It's a boy."

A ghost of a smile flickers across Syndrome's face. "Can I see him?"

"Not yet. We're setting him up where he'll be comfortable. We're calling some experts in premature births. Until that time we'll have to be keeping him in - "

"Yes, I know," he says miserably.

"Your wife wants to see you."

He nods slowly and stands shakily. The nurse watches him walk through the door with sad eyes.

The site that greets him is not a happy one. There is blood everywhere, and Mirage is deathly pale, her white-blond hair plastered to her face. "Shut the door," she croaks.

He obeys wordlessly and then goes to sit on the edge of the bed. He takes her hand and presses it to his lips, and holds it there, staring at her in painful disbelief. "I'm sorry," he whispers. "I did this to you."

Mirage snorts. "Don't be ridiculous," she says, and although her voice is weak he can hear the touch of sarcasm in her voice. "I wanted this as much as you did."

"But - "

"Don't argue."

He closes his mouth.

She draws in a deep, shuddering breath. "I have a confession to make," she says.

He waits.

"You know what my powers are," she says.

He nods.

"I used them not so long ago. When you were fighting your robot. The first time you did it - " Tears spill out of her eyes. " -you died."

He stares at her, stunned. The words hang in the air. You died.

She continues despite his shock. "I couldn't live without you, Syn. I couldn't. You know how I feel. So I used my powers and I brought you back. I warned you about the Omnidroid. I saved you. And by doing so, I created this." She motions to the bloodstained sheets, her own pale clammy skin, her trembling body. "Don't forget that, Syn. Ever.

"Listen to me. Our son is going to live - and you have to raise him, Syn. You have to be a good father to him. Promise me."

"I promise," he chokes out.

"If he's a super, nourish his talents," Mirage continues. Her voice is cracking, and he can see she is in a great deal of pain. "If he's not, don't let it get in his way. It certainly didn't get in yours. Go back to the mainland where he can be with other people his own age. Take care of him." She pauses, breathing heavily. "Do something else for me."

"Anything."

"I don't care what you choose as his first name, but for his middle name - call him 'Kronos.'"

Syndrome swallows. Kronos, the Greek word for Time. He has always associated the two with her, and thus he named his original project. And as his son's middle name, it will always be a reminder to him that Mirage saved his life, and died for it. It's painful, but he loves her too much to refuse. "All right," he says softly.

Mirage smiles faintly. "I love you, Buddy," she whispers.

He watches the light disappear from her green eyes, watches the gaze become unfocused and glassy and blank, and feels her hand fall limp against his cheek. He stares at her a moment, and then collapses, his body shaking with sobs.

It's over. Time has run its course for Mirage - and it's all his fault.

- - - - - - - - -

In the month of August three years after Syndrome's miraculous rescue of Metroville from the infamous Omnidroid, the Incredibles receive a new neighbor. He is a solemn man; his red hair is newly cropped in short spikes atop his head and his ice-blue eyes are filled with a pain so deep that no one can meet his gaze for long. With him comes a son, a little toddler boy, two at most, with bright wild red hair, sparkling green eyes, and a dash of freckles across his nose. His father carries him most of the time, and the little boy seems reluctant to stray farther than he must from his one protector. His father, on his part, seems afraid to let the little boy go. As far as the Parrs know, the boy has no mother.

The man's name is Buddy Pine. His son is Jacob Kronos.

end