Author's Note: I thought it might be a good idea to fix the mistakes on here. But considering the fact that I finished this one in the wee hours of the morning, there are surprisingly few errors to fix.
I got the idea for this shortly after watching Meet the Robinsons for the first time. I actually asked my mom the same question when I was little, and having Wilbur say it to Cornelius seemed both sweet and ironic. Thank you many times over to all of the people who have already reviewed "Small Wonders". To have so many talented writers noticing my work is an honor.
By the by, the title comes from the song at the end of the movie. Same title, and quite appropriate.
Wilbur was not supposed to be in the lab.
He was expressly forbidden, in fact. Cornelius Robinson's lab blew up on a regular basis, and when there were no explosions, the floor and tables were strewn with metal and tools. Hardly a place for any small child, let alone Wilbur. The boy had a talent for trouble that could not be matched by any of his cousins. Furthermore, it was a rare thing for Wilbur to get out to the lab without anyone seeing him.
But on this particular day, the entire frog chorus had been stricken with sore throats, and there appeared to be something purple and glutinous growing on the lawn. With various members of the family running around for medicines or mops (and Carl stuck in the purple stuff), Wilbur seized his chance to toddle off to the lab.
The hum of machinery tingled up through his bare toes, like the lightning bolt printed across his shirt. Wilbur held his breath, stepping as quietly as he could among the debris of creation. Then he looked up, and saw his father, a sunlit figure in white coat and yellow hair, hunched over his workbench. Cornelius held a pencil in one hand, bouncing it up and down on the pad of paper in front of him.
"I know I've got the theory right, but why won't the equations follow through?" His dad murmured. He chewed on the pencil for a moment, then scribbled something down. "Maybe if I can tighten up the linkages somehow, make the heat dump smaller..."
Wilbur edged forward, felt his foot catch on a pipe, and flinched as a pile of scrap metal fell around him.
Cornelius looked up, eye wide and unfocused from thought.
"Wilbur? What are you doing in here?"
Blinking, Cornelius shifted from dazed scientist to concerned father in a heartbeat. He took in the spilled scrap metal, his son's wide gaze, and the tiny smear of purple slime on Wilbur's pants leg.
"Oh. One of those days, then. Come here, son. Don't want to cut yourself on the steel, right?"
He led Wilbur to his workbench, and pulled open one of the drawers. After a moment of rummaging, he found the light pad and electropen he kept there, and handed them to Wilbur, who had already curled himself around his father's chair.
"Can you keep yourself busy while I work?" Cornelius asked.
Wilbur nodded, relieved not to be sent back downstairs, and bent over the pad.
Cornelius turned back to his own pad, this one of old fashioned paper. The scribbles seemed almost completely random to the untrained eye, but the writing that accompanied them was neat and precise. Such was the world to Mr. Robinson. No one seemed to understand his thought processes, but the results were loud and clear. Already people hailed him a savior, a hero, the modern Da Vinci. They never saw his many stumbles, or doubts. They never saw the crumbled pieces of paper, or the warehouse of failed experiments. No one saw but the Robinsons.
The small voice broke his pattern of thought, but this time Cornelius didn't mind so much. "Yes, Wilbur?"
His son's dark eyes, so unlike his own blue ones, opened wider at his father's attention. "What were you like when you were a kid?"
What a question. Of course, at this age, Wilbur was full of them. And it seemed innocent enough. Any child might ask that of their parent.
But then, few parents had ever time traveled at the age of twelve with their child at the age of thirteen.
Cornelius tapped his pencil. "I looked kind of like I do now," he said. "But I was lonely. Remember, I didn't meet Grandma or Grandpa until later."
"Didn't you have any friends, Dad?"
"My roommate, Mike. You remember Uncle Mike. But other than that, no. Not really."
Wilbur looked down at his pad, made a mark with the pen, and looked up again. "I have a best friend at school," Wilbur said. "His name is Ethan. Didn't you have a best friend, Dad?"
The pencil stopped. Cornelius looked down at his son, studied the familiar dark hair, the similar t-shirt.
"I did, actually. We had a lot of fun together. He changed my life, but then he...he moved away. I didn't see him for a long time, but I never forgot him."
This seemed to satisfy Wilbur, and he went back to his drawing. But then...
"Do you think if I were a kid and you were a kid at the same time-do you think we would be friends?"
Cornelius picked up his son, and put him on his lap, pulling him into a hug.
"Without a doubt."
Later, after Cornelius and Wilbur played the pigeon game together and pretended to be secret agents (this was Wilbur's favorite game), and after Frannie had come to put Wilbur down for his nap, Cornelius picked up the light pad from the floor.
Wilbur had drawn two boys-one with dark, sleek hair, and the other with hair that stood up like a haystack. They were holding hands.
I suppose I'd better get started on that time machine, Cornelius thought.