A/N: Okay. I'm kinda sick and twisted. I hoped never to label ANY of my fics with a warning of incest, but here I am. Space-time-continuum-wackalicious-incest, but incest nonetheless.
And it's a freakin' Disney film. HOLY COW. I seriously need help. SERIOUSLY.
Yes. I actually like the idea of this; I think it's quite eloquent, telling and sad… and altogether disturbing. I adore Wilbur and Lewis because they obviously care for each other endlessly, but LOVE between Wilbur and Lewis would not be a simple thing, folks.
This is also dedicated to MandyPandaa, who rocks and is just about as shameless as me in this area of our lives XD
The few fics that I've seen (and love XD) kinda… play off the whole "I'm your father, therefore I cannot love you!" thing with some pretty devious plot-twists, and make it PC. Not me. I'm goin' for this cold-turkey, no euphemisms XD Ohmygod.
If you just want super-fluffy, non-fathersonlovey banter between two best friends, just read until Lewis gets caught in the wires. THEN ABANDON SHIP.
Warnings: Um. The obvious one. Then, some violence, implied sexuality and character-death. Until then, some major, major fluff.
Finding Logic in Unforgivable Acts
"Hey, I just realized something!"
After half an hour of silence, Wilbur, lounging in his feline way on top of a bulky, yet prestigious-looking machine, suddenly snapped his fingers.
Lewis (Wilbur insisted on calling his father/best-friend by his pre-adoption name to, he claimed delicately, "minimize the therapy bill") glanced up past the bucketful of red wires crosshatching the air around his head, startled. When he realized it was just Wilbur, a boy indeed very prone to startling other people, he went back to his work.
In the beginning, Lucille and Bud were startled to hear Lewis called… well, Lewis: but together, Wilbur and Lewis concocted a solid story (rather than throwing it together at the dinner table like a psycho, paradox-filled game of ping pong) about Wilbur knowing Lewis from elementary school, back when he was still Lewis. Penchant explained, problem solved.
The Robinsons thought it a cute nickname between two friends, and enjoyed having Wilbur overnight whenever he happened to drop by—no matter that the boy could never allow Bud to drive Lewis to HIS house, or tell her where it was. Little did Mr. or Mrs. Robinson know that Lewis literally disappeared from the 90's whenever he returned "that boy with the impressive cowlick's (ala Bud)"visits.
But those were small headaches, considering their situation. When Lucille had (in her usual topsy-turvy, warbling way as she put the finishing touches on her test-tube cathedral, the caffeine patches gleaming on her arm—62 hours and still standing--just a small little hobby of mine, you understand!) first asked who the nice new boy was, Cornelius stayed silent long enough for his adopted mother to jerkily abandon her artistry and test his forehead.
Wilbur had taken the kid by the shoulder and laughed it off, tugging Lewis away before he could drool out the very confusing truth: that she was looking at her only grandchild that hadn't yet been conceived by a girl that wasn't yet the woman Lewis hadn't married. Yet.
There were rules, of course, to this kind of relationship. No doubt it got complicated. Firstly, Wilbur couldn't monopolize the time-flow of Lewis' era to his benefit: IE, he couldn't come back three 'Lewis' days in a row, while in his time, perhaps months had eclipsed between visits. Similarly, it wouldn't be fair for him to visit three of 'his' days in a row, while leaving Lewis alone for months in between. A parallel had been established: in December, Wilbur would visit Lewis' December. That way some semblance of time-flow was maintained between the months and their special days, even if the years were whack-off wrong.
They were friends, and they needed to see one another.
Franny frowned on Wilbur going back in time so much: she was afraid it might weaken his immune system, or make his split ends worse, or some obscure motherly concern of the sort. But Cornelius always hugged and kissed her, and told her it was good for the boy-- and good for him as well. He enjoyed having his son around at a time in his life that he could appreciate the boy as a friend.
"It keeps me from strangling him in the here-and-now," he would laugh, until Franny stopped frowning. Another kiss, and she smiled her precious, fresh smile into his lab-coat, hugging her genius husband as he murmured: "Good memories is all. Good memories."
Wilbur's pointedly expectant silence leaked through the metal top-hatch of Lewis' machine. The blond rolled his eyes.
"What did you realize?" Lewis gummed around his screwdriver, before popping it out to tighten a bolt, alert eyes deeply immersed in the innards of his new project. He grunted as the pieces refused to move, then attacked the uncooperative piece with a can of WD-40. He ignored Wilbur's introductory beat boxing on top of his project.
"You—" Wilbur drawled smoothly, topping off his drum-roll with a slap of a nearby oil pan. Lewis scowled. "--never got me a birthday present!"
"Wh—what?!" Lewis sputtered, reflexively slapping his forehead.
Exhaling sharply, he pinched his eyes shut and rattled his head before looking up, finding the expectant young man hanging over the side of his perch. Lewis spread his hands, expression bordering on hysteric.
"Your birthday was four days ago! I got you that—good grief, I shouldn't have to tell you: it was four days ago!" He railed, then paused. More desperate, then: "We had a party! With seven-layer dip!"
"I know!" Wilbur said gleefully, rocking back on his heels like a child with a secret. "My eighteenth birthday. That's what made me remember—"
Suddenly, Wilbur slipped into Lewis' personal space, albeit upside-down, with his pliable mouth sternly twisted. He poked the blond on the nose.
"You never got me a present for my fifteenth birthday, you freeloader."
Lewis groaned. Oh yeah, he remembered. He had been particularly busy graduating college that year. You know: as usual course of habit for a fourteen year old.
He shook his head, half with disgust, half in amusement. Wilbur was utterly shameless.
"Man, do you have too much spare time on your hands…"
"Haha-HA." Wilbur said loudly, then abruptly scowled before he pulled himself up to his former seat. He sent Lewis a scathing look over his shoulder. "So old, dude."
It was true: time-travel jokes had been abused countless times between them. Together, they went and watched corny old movies concerning decade-hopping, just because they could. What could one expect, between a science geek and his otherwise sports-inclined but time-travel-doomed best friend?
"I bet CORNELIUS got you a present," Lewis tried craftily after a moment, head once more ensconced in the narrow place between the primary and secondary gear shifters. "Which means that, by law of future progression, if you still exist, it means I still exist, and therefore got you a present for your fifteenth birthday, therefore I'm off the hook NOW because I do it LATER—"
He trailed off, pleased with himself, even though he almost heard Wilbur wince—but why, he wasn't quite sure. He felt a draft of uneasiness flow down from above the machine.
"Wh-what's the good of knowing your dad in two time-streams if you don't get double the presents?" Wilbur chuckled weakly after a while, then cleared his throat. "I mean, what's the good of it… Seriously."
Lewis popped his head out to look, but Wilbur had disappeared again into a reclining position on top of Lewis' masterpiece. Lewis worked for a few more seconds, still shaking his head… then yelped when Wilbur brutally struck the top hatch with what must have been his foot.
"So? SO?" Wilbur demanded, adding the other foot for a barrage of childish stomps. Obviously dying for attention at this point.
Lewis scowled up again through the wires, imagining the hyper ball of Robinson energy just… falling off the machine. And breaking something small. It had to be small, and a clean break at that, but a break nonetheless.
He wanted it very badly at the moment.
"You sure can carry a grudge, Wilbur."
"With all the lifting I do… well, check the 'ceps, Lewis. These babies speak for themselves, and oh-so eloquently!"
Wilbur leered enticingly over the edge of his perch, sticking a wiry arm out and flexing it for Lewis' (mildly cynical) benefit, flourishing his fingers once finished. Even with the other young man's lack of respect for his current project, Lewis had to roll his eyes and, yes, smile.
In the past years Wilbur had taken to Charge-Ball, a highly popular game in the future: the source of the sharp lightning-bolt insignia found on most of his things. His lean figure was perfect for it: speed and agility were essential in returning serves and catching the Action Buttons, and he excelled. It didn't necessarily require building up triceps or biceps or other visible (and easily worshipped) muscles, but Wilbur obviously found it much more impressive to flex while naming his sport, and have the girls wail and coo.
He'd been seeing a girl, too. Wilbur. From what he'd heard, Lewis didn't think very well of her; but he wasn't quite sure of what that meant. He didn't like to think on what he thought of that. It was altogether too much thinking, in his opinion, especially when Chargeball players already attracted entirely too much female attention in the first place.
Wilbur claimed that Lewis had (rather, would) set the basic technology for Charge-ball, but Lewis doubted that a fair bit. Lately, he'd been doubting a good amount of things.
While he'd always watched the unveilings of his friend's feats of scientific wizardly with a curiously nostalgic, perhaps reverent expression… lately Wilbur had been praising him with fervor beyond his normal wont. At odd moments it even made Lewis uncomfortable. Wilbur would notice it too: how, in the middle of a passionate accolade of his genius, Lewis' hands stilled at the control panel and his eyes drifted to the left of where his friend stood… and Wilbur would close his dry mouth, thrust his hands in his pockets and turn the other direction.
Because there were rules to a relationship like this. Always rules.
"So… seeing as I've been such a horrible best friend, three years late for a birthday present…" Lewis rolled his eyes as he said it, practically hearing Wilbur's vivid grin widen. "What do you want?"
"The Taj Mahal," Wilbur declared after a moment.
"Shut up," Lewis mumbled fondly, tagging a rogue wire with a piece of tape.
"Seriously. You haven't cleaned up that shrink ray yet?" The older boy asked, then added decisively: "I want it pocket-sized."
"The shrink ray is perfect, thank you," Lewis assured him with a chuckle. "I just don't think I'd walk very far with 3,000 years of humanity in my jeans before they locked me up for life."
"I'd come and bust you out," Wilbur said confidently.
"Gee, thanks." Lewis scoffed at his friend, inspecting the thermal conductors with a flick of his wrist. "Nice to know you're prepared to break laws for me."
"Look at it this way, pal: I've yet to conceive a task I wouldn't do for you."
Wilbur's solemn tone made the younger boy falter. Suddenly cramped inside his little metal box, the scientist sighed, warding off the unexpected apprehension with a firm shake of his head. Yeah, that was enough for today.
"Do you wanna go outside or something?" Lewis began awkwardly.
"No," Wilbur answered, simple and sure.
"No, serious, I've been shut up inside too long—I can't stay in here all day--" Lewis protested earnestly, determined to wring that thoughtful tone from Wilbur's normally electrified voice. He haphazardly gathered up some heat-sensitive tools (it wouldn't do to leave them baking there) and lurched out of the machine's cache—unfortunately, when looking back to ensure the crawlspace was empty, a whole bustle of tangle-vine wires ensnared his feet and arms, startling a yelp out of him.
He struggled, which only made the machine give an alarming creak—which made him cry out louder, suddenly panicked for the machine's sake, for the forty hours of work it took to align those wires—
"Lewis, woah—Watch it!"
--but within seconds, Wilbur's black sneakers touched down and his skinny arms snatched Lewis up to support him at the waist. The wires stopped creaking, but the scene was not calm. Stung at the touch, apparently, Lewis yelled, and his voice rang out louder than he'd intended:
"I'm okay, I'm okay!"
"Woah, lower the decibels—"
"Sorry, I'm okay—"
"Geez, klutz…" Wilbur muttered fondly, his trademark smirk inching back onto his face, careless and charming. Seeing it, regardless of the other young man's grip on him, made Lewis relax in the wire-and-arm hammock surrounding him and actually chuckle. He wiggled his suspended feet as Wilbur plucked at his cocoon, making annoyed sounds.
"Yeah, klutz. Tell me about it—"
"Stop moving!" Wilbur said suddenly.
"Just, stop moving!"
But he didn't respond to the reprimand in time, and half of the wires gave out to his left. Thankfully, he would realize later, they were all clean breaks, but at that moment he let out an anguished yell and was pressed, off-balance and entangled, deep against Wilbur's chest.
Lewis went cold.
A feeling bubbled up in him—not like globular rainbow bubbles of the future, but rather panicked orange froth, not at all pleasant—and he had to let out a long, stark laugh as Wilbur clutched him close and rattled his foot out of the last of the wiring. Angled and cradled and trembling where he was, he could smell Wilbur Robinson's neck and his black hair and his clean, familiar cologne, and clenched his eyes shut until he could move without shaking.
The last of the wiring fell with a dense plastic sound, and a hand brushed his shoulder.
"Okay, you're good."
As soon as Wilbur let go, the blond boy stumbled backwards until he was five feet away, rubbing his arms. The sensation of Wilbur's lean, smooth chest against him lingered on, coating his arms and making him slightly ill.
"Yeah," he breathed, soft and, somehow, miserable. "Thanks."
Wilbur looked down as Lewis haltingly pieced himself together again. There was a tear in his pants, and his shirt had been yanked out of his belt. Once his trademark sweater vest was centered on his shoulders, Lewis looked up to find Wilbur in the middle of his busy, sun-struck observatory, watching him with a very, very dangerous expression.
Lewis' brows sunk low, heart quickening in his chest. Wilbur swallowed heavily. The scientist opened his mouth and drew breath to say something in warning, perhaps the other boy's name in a low, dull tone—but Wilbur beat him to it.
Beat him and broke everything.
"I like you," he whispered.
The words snapped through Lewis' mind like plasma—feeding at the edges of his comprehension, blurring hungrily. Zap. Zap-zap. He turned his head sharply, heaving his next words in a betrayed, horrified tone:
Wilbur, stung, started forward, voice cracking in anguish:
"I-I just do, I can't help it!"
Kicking his tools to the side, Lewis mindlessly thrust himself again into his wires—sunk into his oil-scented cavity—and, once in darkness and out of reach, crushed his fists against his cheeks.
"Wilbur, no." He said firmly, an indescribable ache deepening his still-boyish voice. He drew his feet into the shell of his machine, trembling as he did so.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Wilbur said feverishly, clambering down to his friend's level and sifting through the wires. Finally he cleared a path to Lewis' pale, pain-riddled face. He looked down, breathing deep and hurt. "I'm sorry I said it."
Just sorry he said it. Not sorry for what it meant.
"No," Lewis whispered through his teeth.
"No what?" Wilbur asked desperately, bracing both hands on the sides of his friend's machine.
"No. Just no. No to everything."
Wilbur waited, heart high in his throat, for Lewis to open his eyes and look at him, but the other young man stayed motionless and blind in the darkness, knuckles white against his face.
"Lewis, hold on a second," Wilbur began, voice empty of charm, but filled with velvet tones of wishing, of utter willingness to make this work, tender and human which urged the blood into Lewis' face and ears—
"You gotta listen to me for just a second—"
Lewis suddenly thrashed to his feet, smacking wires and hands and bodies out of the way. Once out of the machine's belly, he stalked past a stunned Wilbur, slamming his hands onto the first control panel he could find.
"There are rules," the scientist growled quickly, one hand digging into his high hairline. "You know the rules!"
"This thing never came with a rulebook, Lewis!" Wilbur shouted, hands whipping through the air in agitation, gestures encapsulating the two of them as though they were all that was left of the world. "This! Us! There is no rulebook!"
"But there are rules! Obvious, obvious rules!" Lewis repeated furiously, glaring down the screen. Wilbur waited, silent and scornful. Whirring and clicking around him, the cheery atmosphere of his observatory had become unbearable, but he was trapped inside by Wilbur's lean figure. Wilbur's demands, horribly inevitable. Wilbur, still waiting, lip curling as he did so.
Lewis had to draw a breath before he said it, because every time he did he felt reality stop, he felt chances wither and die. Most of all, he felt wrong.
"I'm. Your. Father."
"That doesn't matter to you!" Wilbur cried heatedly, striking a table with his white fist.
Lewis never froze, but rather turned to the other young man in a liquid evolution of pain and confusion, pupils dwindling in his vivid blue eyes.
"What?" He demanded incredulously, mouth warping in a grimace. Wilbur stared him down, storming past litter to reach Lewis and biting the words as he went:
"I stay over here, night after night, birthday after birthday, and you can't stand to sleep in the same room with me!" Wilbur accused him. "Why is that? Why is that, Lewis? Aren't we best friends?"
Lewis slapped a hand over his mouth, pressing viciously against his breath, which threatened to rush out unchecked in something like sobs.
"No," Wilbur muttered vehemently, shaking his head. "You can't stand it, because deep down, you really don't care! You're probably afraid of what you might do, if you let yourself—"
"Shut up! Shut up!" Lewis snarled. He turned from Wilbur completely, hands shifting to clench at his hair again—but too sharply, Wilbur snatched him at the shoulders and jerked him around. Lewis made an anguished stutter as the taller boy took his chin and forced it up, looking relentlessly into his eyes, face gleaming with nervous sweat.
"What do you want to do to me, Lewis?" He demanded fervently, softly. His grip on Lewis' face changed as they both panted unevenly in the silence, and slid towards his jaw. The motion was strange and dangerous, and made Lewis' stomach sink to his knees. Made him rebel from the very core of himself. "What have you been hiding?"
"My name—" Lewis wrenched away from Wilbur's hands, freeing himself to snarl like a caged dog as he bore down on his best friend. "--is Cornelius, Wilbur, and every time I go back with you for another birthday, I see my future self kiss my future wife at least ten times! I see them happy! I see them hug you and kiss you, because you're their son! You are my son!"
Wilbur shook his head sharply, lip curling as he began to look away. Lewis stopped him, one hand lashing out to grab up the young man's wrist.
"That means I'm your father, I am Cornelius, so how do you think this works!? What do you think this is? Do you want to exist, Wilbur?" Lewis finally exploded, getting in the other boy's face and crushing the captured wrist between his oil-stained fingers. "Do you like breathing? Is it nice having a pulse?"
He was yanking, squeezing, hating: doing all he could to somehow physically force the idiot into seeing, into believing how they could never be— but Wilbur caught his blows and captured his eyes again, inches from the other boy. Lewis exhaled sharply, quailing at the close, charming scent of him. The color of his skin.
"This won't stop me from existing," Wilbur said with a tight throat and unfocused eyes. Expression never changing, he reached for the side of Lewis' face.
"Wilbur, no!" Lewis cried, shoving his hands into Wilbur's gut and toppling him over; Lewis followed and landed hard on his knees, knocking the air out of the other boy. Wilbur gave another pained sound as his head cracked against the tile floor, one hand flying up to cover the welt, but Lewis caught his wrist again and threw it to the floor.
Hysterical, somehow consumed with this symbol of physical prowess--even though he knew, knew like the back of his hand that Wilbur could seriously hurt him if he wanted to--Lewis drove several blunt punches into his best friend's stomach and sides, furious grunts escaping him as he vented his wrath; his horror with himself, and with Wilbur.
The tears came quickly, hot and unimportant as he threw himself into hurting the boy who had given him a life and shared it with him in bright, love-filled spaces of days; making his life in small hours of joy and infatuation; making Lewis the happiest he'd ever been.
Wilbur groaned, overloaded and dazed, but struggled back to clear as the assault slackened. Then he winced at the final strike: hard and fast, Lewis slapped him across the face. Eyelids flickering, Wilbur looked up. His best friend's bloodless face loomed above him.
"I'll beat you senseless," Lewis hissed, skin burning beneath his cooling tears.
Wilbur lay, cautiously still, with wide eyes, watching him. His stomach plunged up and down, out of breath, though his lips were tightly sealed. Then he spoke, raw and quiet.
"He won't know."
"He won't know?" Lewis repeated with slow-boiling venom. "He won't—Wilbur, he is me. I'm him! I already know, I probably know right now! There's nothing you can do in the here-and-now that I won't remember later: you just don't get it!"
"I'm not your son," Wilbur whispered.
"Yes, you are!" Lewis screamed, digging his nails into Wilbur's shoulders, closing his eyes in anguish. "Regardless of your grand delusions, Wilbur, you are my son!"
"No, I'm not," Wilbur murmured. Lewis opened his eyes. Wilbur's brown eyes sought his own without mercy, pleading. The sight choked his mind.
"I'm not. Not yet."
Then the sense came, as a cold, sluggish tide in the sudden darkness of his mind.
The horrible, mind-numbing circular logic quieted him, and siphoned the hot, apprehensive twitches from his limbs as Wilbur slowly, carefully, touched his arms and his neck, then eased his passive body to the floor beside his own. This delusional brand of logic said that, no: at the moment, he didn't have a son.
Right now, 17-year-old Cornelius Robinson did not have a son.
If it weren't for technology, Wilbur wouldn't exist beside him. Wilbur's hands would not frame his face; his plush mouth would never have touched his jaw, then pause in a mix of terror and elation before pressing onwards, planting a single kiss on his damp temple.
Technology was his life.
Technology brought Wilbur to him; brought him someone he had loved intensely, quietly, for years, while knowing his feelings to be wrong. The news that his future self continued to love his wife, his Franny, and gave every intimation of a happy, healthy relationship between them: all this gave him hope. Hope allowed him to continue his forbidden adoration.
He hoped, foolishly, that he could be two things to Wilbur: a father and something more than a best friend. That he could give Wilbur a close-knit family and love while he grew up. That he could hold Wilbur tightly and respond to the jolt he felt whenever he saw the young man. That, in his arms, Lewis would feel safe in an intimate way, and indulge his best friend with that sweet, boundless feeling they had passed between themselves so quietly, so awkwardly. That he could love carnally and platonically, so intensely, and the two timelines would remain separate. Because Wilbur was here for a reason. He had to be there for a reason: to love him.
There was logic in his life, somewhere. Logic made him believe that, somehow, he would be able to live with himself after this.
Wilbur's thin fingers dug through his hair and his half-smiling lips lingered over Lewis' freckled cheek. He exhaled, breath sweet and foreign, and drew the younger boy to him. When he spoke, his voice was husky with amusement and want.
Assuming. Conniving. Charming. Distinctly Wilbur Robinson.
"Just think of it as my fifteenth birthday present…"
Lewis laughed hollowly and kissed Wilbur's mouth with relish. The two young men fell into each other on the floor of the observatory, warm and delighted and intertwined and utterly alone.
He had just locked the door to the garage.
Double-locked it by rote habit, really, because while the Bowler Hat Guy debacle had led him to the greatest person in his life, he wasn't up for a repeat performance. Wilbur Robinson, now firmly ensconced in his own time and his own house (though tingling with memories of how tile had chilled his bare back in another place, a different time) strode into the living room and knew instantly that something was amiss.
It wasn't a colossal type of amiss. It wasn't a realization that slapped him in the gut, but rather a nagging feeling that there were some things missing along the walls: some recent inventions of his father's, and a picture or two. Where was the solar-powered air-cycle? He needed to check. He had to check.
A quick search of the house revealed more closed doors than open ones: confused, he jogged down the farthest hallway to the left, keeping an eye out for anything living.
"Mom?" He called into the music room, nudging the door open with his fingers.
He grinned as he spotted her red and black, bell-shaped dress, and walked into the room. The lights were down; she had obviously just finished a rehearsal with her band. Of course, the smell of pond-water in the chique, jazz-saturated room contributed generously to his conclusion, as did the fact Franny was picking up little bits and pieces of her frogs' equipment.
"Hey, honey," she said, sounding perfectly normal, if somewhat lackluster. It looked like nothing cataclysmic had happened, indeed-- but he needed to cheer her up. He was a momma's boy, he'd admit, and at eighteen he'd still bend over backwards to make her smile.
"Hey!" He exclaimed, turning on his Robinson charm full force. "Looks like mom's been workin' the amphibians again! Another charming performance by Mrs. Robinson, I presume, with Frankie hitting doubles on every note?"
She made a small, faintly amused sound, not looking towards him. Picked up a tiny tuba that had been discarded by the fifth pedestal. Probably by Lola. She was new to the band, and always messy. Hadn't learned the way of the world yet.
Wilbur looked around again. The missing inventions were bugging him. He'd best ask the question directly. Rather, directly to the man himself.
Forcing his mind past the length and breadth of what that meeting might mean—stifling the sudden image of his father's face--Wilbur cleared his throat.
"Hey—" He said again, more thoughtful. "Where's dad?"
Franny turned, sharp and breathless. In the low light, there was a quality to her face that Wilbur did not remember: some glaze of permanent apprehension and sorrow.
"Don't say things like that, Wilbur."
"What—" He began, but her livid eyes choked him.
"Wilbur," she snapped. She flipped the last few brass-cleaning rags into their holders, moving with a contained rage. Finally, when Wilbur began to feel unbearably sick, she gave him a passing glance over her shoulder.
"How could you ask that?" She asked coldly, quietly.
"I don't k… I don't know." He whispered, helplessly. He couldn't breathe. "Mom?"
She shook her head, continuing her work.
"Please tell me," Wilbur pleaded, voice toneless and horribly soft. "I know, but… please tell me. Again. Please."
Franny looked down, beautiful, smoky eyebrows knitting. Her face was concerned… too normal, too calm, for what her thin lips parted to say.
"He killed himself, Wilbur."
"What?!" He gasped. Franny shook her head, filled with a simple, overwhelming sadness, and Wilbur let out a raw, piteous howl, clutching his stomach. The inventions. The inventions, all recent. Not there.
"You're… Oh god, you're-- "
But he couldn't say that she was lying, because his mother wouldn't do that. His father was dead; Cornelius had taken his own life.
"I—No! No! Please, no!" He moaned, hands tearing at his face. Then, god, like a seed of hate fed by his sudden, violent doubts and fears-- and his memories of a tile floor on his back, sharp and new—this urge sprouted through his tight throat, and he choked out: "When?"
She closed her eyes.
"Three years ago. On your fifteenth birthday."
Wilbur stopped breathing."Just think of it as my fifteenth birthday present…"
Franny turned her back on her son, carefully cleaning the countertop underneath the bandstand with slow, sure strokes of her rag.
"We never knew why," she said softly. "We just never knew why."
The new memories assembled themselves, sharp and merciless.
They stabbed his mind, rending his reality at the hinges; making space where there was none to be had. But he knew them, he had always known them, it had happened because he'd been there: he saw them, fifteen years old today, and concerned with the first few fumbling steps into the lab. He always missed the top stair. Not this time.
Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me.
Then he saw the gun, so barbaric in the face of such genius; the smear of blood in front of that damned machine; his father's noble, long-nosed face shattered at the cheekbones and propped against that same machine Lewis had—Lewis—he and Lewis, together, there on the floor—all replaced with a smear of blood and a body.
Wilbur fell to the floor in a heap, mouth twisted in a stillborn scream.
Logic had no place in unforgivable acts.