Authors Note: I watched MTR again a few weeks ago, and the movie so impressed me that I got the writers bug that very night and worked in a cold, passionate sweat to create the chapter you see before you. Now, though cold, sweaty writing makes a good word choice for author notes, the actual experience often leaves said author with a barely coherent piece of work in the morning, full of grammar problems, missed capitalization, bad spelling and, worst of all, essential words missing altogether.
Thus, I'd like to thank loudly and profusely, Mykerinos, my Beta who quite literally allowed me to throw my story at her last minute and turned my grammatical mess into something lyrical, sophisticated, and, thank goodness, utterly coherent. Thank you, Mykerinos!
Now, dear reader, please go ahead and read, and I implore you to please leave a review. Story hits are nice, but they are to reviews what bacterial waste is to cheese; completely the same thing, but the later is still so much more pleasant. Thank you!
WARNING: Anyone who has ever read my stories or read my profile knows I'm a shounen ai lover, and there will be very, very small traces to such relations in this fic. HOWEVER, because of their age you can be rest assured that nothing concrete will be happening in this fic. Their just too young. Thank you for your attention.
As an orphan Lewis had no last name to speak of, so when the science fair form had requested it, he just put down Cornelius. It was a word that Lewis had read in a book once, and had always liked the sound of. Lewis Cornelius, or maybe Cornelius Lewis, sounded like a name of intrigue, of status, a name worth being proud of. It wasn't that Lewis disliked his own name; Lewis was a fine name by any standards. However, the young scientist had always liked the way Cornelius just kind of rolled off the tongue, the way it sounded both tough and intelligent. Lewis had pretty much decided that when he turned eighteen, the first thing he would do was change his first name to Cornelius, and make his last name Lewis.
Unless, of course, his mother wanted him to carry on her last name.
Lewis looked down at his machine with almost a paternal affection as the science fair hustled and bustled around him. He lovingly polished the already shining screen, quickly double-checked that all springs and tubes were properly aligned before standing back to look at it, feeling a swell of pride. The Memory Scanner, so far his finest intellectual achievement…well, if it worked, anyway. Lewis wished with a pang of regret and anxiety that he had made time to test it this morning. He could imagine perfectly in his head making a big show of presenting it to the judges only to have it exploding, like so many other of his 'achievements'. That probably wouldn't earn him a ribbon.
But as Lewis re-worked and re-tested the math every ten minutes in his head, the conclusion always came out the same: This machine will work.
"And this is Lizzy and her, um, fire ants." Lewis looked over to Lizzie's booth, where the three judges were looking over her project with some alarm. He wanted to tell them not to worry, but that would have been admitting that he had helped Lizzy make an extra tight seal around the frame, so that none of her 'pets' could escape. The only way those ants were getting out was if something broke the glass itself. Not even just hitting the floor work, something would literally have to fly out with considerable force and collide directly against the glass, and what were the chances of that happening?
Suddenly Lewis felt the floor collapse from under his feet, or maybe it was just his feet collapsing from under him. Either way, he suddenly found himself being yanked down underneath the table of a neighbor project, a hand over his mouth as a shout of surprise tried to escape. What the hell?!
Blue eyes suddenly met black, and Lewis found himself face to face and a little too close to an older black-haired boy, who was looking around suspiciously. Lewis shook the hand away and tried to back out from under the table, but the boy grabbed tightly onto his wrist and looked at him intensely.
"Have you been approached by a man in a bowler hat?" He asked, though it sounded more like an accusation.
"A what?" Lewis sputtered out. As the kid looked around more, for what Lewis couldn't tell, he took a second to inspect him. At a glance Lewis had assumed he was another student, but with closer inspection it was obvious he was older, middle school age maybe, and had the watchful appearance of someone who got into trouble a lot. His hair was jet-black and looped like a fin, and his clothes were…somewhat strange. Not unusual-looking, exactly, but as if they were made differently than normal clothes. He was a little taller than Lewis, but seemed to have no trouble moving around in a place Lewis felt was getting increasingly cramped.
"Man. Bowler Hat. Approached you?" the kid repeated, as if chopping down the sentences would make it easier to understand.
"No, why?" Lewis asked. The kid sighed, shaking his head in disapproval before reaching down into his pocket, "I didn't want to do this, but you've forced me to pull rank. My name is Wilbur Robinson, and I'm from the Time Continuation Task Force," Lewis watched as a whir that might have been a badge went in and out of the kid's pocket, "I've been sent to this time to apprehend a criminal, for a robbery, and we believe he came to this time stream and is after you."
Lewis raised an eyebrow, "Me? Why me?"
The boy, Wilbur, tapped his chin thoughtfully, "The boys back at HQ haven't figured that out yet, and by HQ, I mean-"
"I know what HQ means." Lewis interrupted, rolling his eyes. Who didn't know what HQ meant?
"You're a smart kid," Wilbur complimented, before his gaze darkened, "That might keep you alive, for now. So, bowler hat, has he approached you?"
Lewis shook his head, wondering slightly how close the judges were. Would they pass him by if he wasn't at his booth? "No. What did he steal?"
"A time machine."
Lewis looked Wilbur right in the eye, waiting for him to laugh. The kid's serious expression never faltered, not even for a second as Lewis smiled, letting him know he was in on the joke. The guy wasn't kidding. Either the other kid had a fantastic poker face, or he was completely off his rocker.
The moment lingered on awkwardly as the former became more apparent. "Okay, bye-bye." Lewis said awkwardly as he tried to slip out from under the table. Wilbur grabbed his wrist, pulling him back. Lewis wondered if maybe he should start screaming for help.
"Hey, look, I'm not kidding. And you're in real danger!" Wilbur cried, his serious tone slipping to reveal a more childish one before he corrected himself, "I'm from the future, and I'm here to protect you!"
Lewis suddenly saw three familiar pairs of shoes start walking towards his booth, and he knew he had to get out of there right then. He turned to look at the boy, his mind racing, "Okay, you're here to protect me? Fine, then go protect me, but I have to go present my invention now."
Wilbur seemed appeased at this, "Right, you go work on your science gismo, and I'll go and search the parameter for the perp. And by 'perp' I mean-"
"I know what it means." Lewis growled as he made his way out from under the table.
"Okay mister smarty pants." Wilbur gave him a wink before speeding off, leaving Lewis there feeling confused and a little annoyed. The guy was probably just playing some sort of stupid game, Lewis realized. He was a little too old for pretend games, and it was rude to drag in other people who had more important stuff to do, but Lewis figured this was probably the best explanation to what had just happened. Cleaning himself off, he hurried to his booth where the judges were waiting.
"Ah," Lewis's science teacher, one of the three judges, Mr. Willerstein, looked at his chart before announcing to the other two, "and here we have Lewis's invention…Lewis!" a look of learned horror had just crossed the teachers face before he rushed over to his young pupil, leaning in closer to whisper, "Um, Lewis, your sure that this project isn't going to boom?"
Lewis smiled at the teacher's worry. He had always liked Mr. Willerstein, because he was the only science teacher Lewis had ever had that continually let Lewis present his inventions in front of the class, even though the older man had gotten many a singed eyebrow because of that.
"Don't worry Mr. Willerstein, it's going to work this time," Lewis promised, taking the sheet off of his invention, revealing its glimmering sheen.
Mr. Willerstein looked uncertain for a moment before smiling, "Okay Lewis, I trust ya." He turned back to the other two judges, Coach Thud and a woman in a lab coat Lewis had never seen before, as well as a few kids who had come over to watch, "well, if you'll all move in, Lewis will present his invention now!"
Lewis watched as everyone moved in and felt his face split into a grin. This was his moment to shine, his moment to stand out, and he wasn't going to waste it!
…As well as his moment to finally discover…who he was.
"Have you ever wondered where our forgotten memories go to?" He asked his curious audience, most of the room's population having come over to watch. He wasn't one to be shy in front of a crowd though, and Lewis felt no fear as he walked over to his invention, "Well, I had a theory that those memories were stored away in the brain somewhere, and I have invented a machine that can retrieve them, and display them on this monitor." He felt a warm feeling in his stomach as the crowd oohed, staring at the machine with a great deal more interest.
"Ooh, how exciting! Show us how it works, Lewis!" the excitable science woman coaxed. Lewis smiled at her. He kind of liked this woman, though she seemed a little over-energetic. Might be all those coffee patches he spotted on her arm.
"You just put this on your head," he placed a device that resembled a helmet that was connected to the machine onto his head and pulled on the headphone, showing a little blue light going into his ear, "and these low density lasers scan your brain and find the memory you're looking for. To find the memory, you have to put in a date on the monitor. I'm going to put in the date 9/8/95."
"Why that particular time?" Coach interrupted, noticing the other judges baffled faces, "Didn't think I was paying attention, did ya?"
Lewis frowned, unsure how much he wanted to answer that question. Just then he noticed in the back the crazy Wilbur kid watching the presentation, and realized that it was just too personal to confess to a room full of strangers. "Let's just say that was a very important day in my life."
"Fair enough." Coach conceded, "Now play ball!"
Lewis figured this meant that he should start, so he turned to the machine and flipped the switch, putting in the numbers as the machine began to hum.
For a moment, Lewis hesitated. This was the moment he had been waiting for, had worked hard for. Nothing short of a catastrophe could stop him from using this machine…but still, he hesitated. He thought of Mildred, and her advice, her pleading with him to let go of the past and embrace the future. He thought of his possible future family, a couple just waiting for him, a couple that would love him, maybe waiting just around the corner. He thought about his mother, and wondered what she was thinking right then, as he prepared to take the final step to discovering her, and wondered if she would be horrified, and he hesitated.
Then he remembered one hundred and eighty-four dashes furiously written onto the side of a box, and pushed the red button.
Everyone watched intrigued as the machine whirred, electricity humming. "We just need to wait for the thermosecters to heat up!" Lewis shouted above the noise. The machine began to shake a little, which it wasn't supposed to do, and for a second Lewis was afraid that the cooler wasn't reacting right and that his machine was overheating; he sighed in relief as it soon settled down, and machine whirred smoothly.
Lewis watched as intently as everyone else as a picture started to form on the screen. There was an odd buzz in his head, but Lewis ignored it as the picture of a dark sky took his breath away. He was remembering…
It had been a stormy night the day his mother had left him at the orphanage.
She had been wearing a long black cloak, and she had held him close in her arms to protect him from the rain. He had only been a baby, and had felt tired and cranky, and had just wanted to go to sleep, but it had been so cold, with only a thin blue blanket to protect him, and his mother's cold shaking hands.
She had been beautiful, he remembered that.
He now knew that he got his blond hair from his mother, though hers didn't seem to naturally spike the way his did, but seemed to fall over her face like light clouds. Her eyes were difficult to discern in the black and deep night, but they looked darker, perhaps a brown or black color. She had been tall and slender, and when he looked up into her face, it was like she was the only thing in the whole world.
She had looked at him with love before she had left, and he had cried for her, but she never came back.
Not for the next twelve years, did she ever come back.
"Lewis, this is incredible!" the excited voice of his teacher brought him back to the 21st century, Lewis leaning over to turn off the machine just as Mildred, the owner of the orphanage, was opening the door. Lewis felt his heart pounding. He had a face. If he dug a bit deeper into his past memories, he would probably get a name, but even if not, he had a face.
And out there, somewhere, he had a mother.
As he walked away from his experiment, awed kids surrounding it to have a better look, the three judges came up to him.
"Well, I think we all know who today's winner is going to be. Congratulations, Lewis." Mr. Willerstein smiled, giving Lewis a friendly pat on the shoulder. Shoving the thin teacher aside, the lab coat woman jumped in front of Lewis and with a squeal gave him an unexpected hug.
"Oh that was incredible!" She praised, standing upright as Lewis got his bearing again, "Well, Lewis, along with the grand prize trophy, you'll also be working as an intern in my station at . It'll be a great experience for an aspiring inventor such as yourself, and the department's going to love to have ya!"
Lewis smiled politely. He really was glad about all this, winning the science fair was great, and he had a lot of respect for the Invent Corporation, but it all seemed like small fish in comparison to the joy of having seen his mother's face. He couldn't get her eyes out of his head, those loving, regretful eyes…
"Lewis!" Lewis sighed, though it came out as more of a growlish grunt as a now familiar voice called out to him.
As Wilbur ran up to beside Lewis, taking a moment to catch his breath, the three judges gave him perplexed looks, well, two of the judges anyway. Coach had seen one of his heavier students stop running the lap he had ordered and had gone to 'encourage' him.
"Hello." Mr. Willerstein greeted before turning to Lewis, "Who's your friend, Lewis? Is he a student here?"
Lewis rolled his eyes, "No; and he's not my friend. He's-"
Wilbur stared at him wide-eyed, grabbing onto his shoulder urgently, startling the two judges to take a step back, "Lewis! No, you can't!"
Lewis shook him off, glaring at him before saying, "He's just a kid I met today… I invited him to the science fair."
Wilbur gave him a grateful look, probably for not telling about the time cop thing, but Lewis ignored it. He wasn't sure why he had lied about inviting him. The judges had been looking at Wilbur with kind of a suspicious confusion, and Lewis had felt what he supposed was a natural kid instinct of covering for another kid. Not that Wilbur really needed covering; you didn't have to be invited by a student to come to the science fair. There was just something about the boy that seemed…out of place, like he didn't really fit into the scenery. Lewis had felt like he needed to explain him being there…at all.
Mr. Willerstein hesitated before turning to Wilbur, reaching out to shake his hand hello, which Wilbur distractedly accepted. "Well, young man, I hoped you enjoyed the-"
"Yeah yeah, whatever, old man." Wilbur interrupted, turning back to Lewis, who was glaring at him, "Lewis, I need to talk to you, Bowler Hat Guy is here, I saw him!"
"Oh yeah? Where?" Lewis asked, feeling as if he was dealing with a particularly annoying little kid, "I don't see a bowler hat guy anywhere."
Wilbur looked around, biting his lip before muttering, "Well, he was here. And he was staring right at you!"
The science woman, whose name tag read Lucille Robinson, stepped in, maternal warning bells going off in her head, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but is some man following you, young man? Is that why you're all hyped up?"
Wilbur looked at her as if he had only just remembered they had an audience, "Er…no miss… me and Lewis are just playing a game is all…"
Mr. Willerstein, who was still smarting over that 'old man' comment, frowned at the dark-haired boy with disapproval, "Well, young man, Lewis is very busy right now and he obviously doesn't want to play. Now, if you don't mind, tell me where your parents are, I'd like to have a word with them about your conduct here today."
Wilbur stared up blankly at him. "What?"
Willerstein frowned, "Your parents, young man, where are they?"
Wilbur for some reason glanced at Lewis before sputtering, "Um, my parents? Um…umm….Canada?"
"Canada!" Lewis shouted, quieting down as other students looked over, "what are your parents doing out of the country!?"
"Country?" Wilbur asked, looking confused before shaking it off, "er, yeah. Canada, they're on a business trip."
"So then where are ya staying kid?" Coach Thus asked, popping out of nowhere as everyone except Wilbur jumped, who simply bit his lip.
"Um, ya know, around…at my house." Wilbur smiled, getting on some solid footing as he continued, "yeah, they'll be back tomorrow, so I'm just spending the night alone tonight. They've decided I'm mature enough, cool huh?" he bragged to Lewis, who just rolled his eyes, before continuing to Mr. Willerstein, "I can give you my house number, sir, if you really want to talk to them."
Mr. Willerstein gave Wilbur his best steely-eyed look, the boy simply grinning back up at him, before deciding this was more trouble than it was worth, "Never mind, just remember your manners next time. Lewis, come into my class tomorrow and I'll give you your intern schedule. Congratulations again, but now I have to go close shop." He turned to Lucille, taking her hand in a light handshake, "It was a pleasure meeting you Mrs. Robinson. Will you help me clean up Coach?"
Coach Thud nodded, "Yep, already got some of the students to volunteer to stay after. Clean up will go by in a flash!"
"Er, Coach, you know you're not allowed to threaten the students, right?" Mr. Willerstein asked as the two teachers walked away together. Mrs. Robinson turned to the boys with a smile, giving them both a hug, which Lewis accepted easily this time, though Wilbur went stiff under the embrace.
"Well, I'll see you soon, Lewis, and feel free to bring your parents over anytime, I'd love to meet them! But, oops, I've got to go, I'm going to be late for an appointment if I dilly-dally here all day! Bye, dear!" the two boys waved after her as she trotted away. Lewis smiled, wondering about the 'Mrs' part. The woman was so strange, he could only imagine what her husband was like.
"We better get out of here before the big guy in the shorts volunteers us." Wilbur whispered to Lewis, Lewis nodding readily as they began to slip out, hearing the cries of protest from less lucky students as they ran out of the building. Going out into the sun, Wilbur looked startled as he turned to Lewis, "Wait, don't you need to get your invention?"
"Nah, we're supposed to leave our projects here overnight and let students at the school look at them the next day. I won't get it back till tomorrow afternoon." Lewis explained with a shrug, though he wished he could explore deeper into his memories that night.
"But Bowler Hat Guy might try to steal it before then!"
"Ugh," Lewis sped up as Wilbur walked next to him, shaking his head in disgust, "not this hat guy again, what is with you? Why would anyone want to A: Stalk me, or B: Steal my science fair project? I'll take you seriously if you can give me one good reason."
Wilbur stammered and threw his hands in the air as if it were obvious, before finally frowning and shrugging his shoulders. He couldn't think of a reason. Somebody might want to sell it, it was a pretty unique and sophisticated invention, but Wilbur didn't think Bowler Hat Guy would go this far for some extra cash. No, Bowler Hat Guy's plan was more malevolent, more viscous, more Hollywood…he just couldn't figure out what it could be yet.
The two walked in silence for a bit, Lewis ready to go home and tell Mildred all about his day, Wilbur just following Lewis. Eventually Lewis realized this and stopped to glare at Wilbur.
"Why are you following me?"
Wilbur huffed before taking out his badge again. "I told you, I'm a time cop, and I'm here to protect you."
Lewis grabbed the 'badge' before Wilbur could work his disappearing act again, taking a closer look at it before growling, "This isn't a badge, this is a coupon for a tanning salon! You fake." Wilbur grabbed the coupon back, looking guilty as he put it back into his pocket before running after Lewis, who had started walking again.
"Okay, I'll admit it, I'm not a cop." he grinned sheepishly as Lewis gave him a 'no duh' look. "But there really is a Bowler Hat Guy, and he really was watching you at the fair! He's bad news! He stole the time machine and-"
Lewis stopped and whirled to face Wilbur, having had enough. "Listen, he did not steal a time machine, because you are not from the future! More likely you're from the mental house!"
Wilbur's face seemed to twist, going from merely annoyed to alarmed. That last part seemed to sting, "Hey, hey, I am not crazy!"
"Oh yeah, Mr. TimeCop? Can you prove any of this?" Lewis dared, raising an eyebrow at him as Wilbur looked around uncertainly before deflating, "yeah, that's what I thought. Look, go home okay?"
Lewis walked away in a huff, noticing that this time Wilbur's footsteps weren't right behind him. After being a good distance away, he spared a look back. Wilbur was just standing there, one hand holding onto his other arm. He looked a little lost, and kind of young. In the distance Lewis could hear a storm beginning to brew. For a moment Lewis considered going back, maybe just to make sure the weirdo got out of the rain, before shaking his head and continuing heading home. The crazy jerk would be fine, Lewis told himself, he said he lived around here, and why would he lie about that?
He's lied about everything else, his conscious told him, but Lewis ignored it. He just kept repeating to himself that it wasn't his problem, and that the crazy kid would be fine.
The kid would be fine.
He looked around, stepping outside of the stage curtains with slow, fluid movements. He was a man that could take his time, and knew it, and so he made no hurry as he walked down the aisles, stopping to look at every other project before coming to the one he wanted.
He stared at it, and it gleamed back at him. He touched the mirror-like surface and marveled at how simple such a truly complex machine looked. It was a marvel of science, a history-altering discovery by…by a little boy, whom had presented it to foolish people who had had no idea how important the thing they had judged actually was. The boy had unlocked a Pandora Box to the brain, a final frontier as it were in the secrets of the human memory! It was phenomenal!
And none of this was lost on the man as, very casually, he pressed his hand against the mirror, and pushed the whole thing over.
It shattered, bits and pieces of it spreading across the floor. The man looked at the poor, broken thing dispassionately. Very slightly, he lifted his hand up and absent-mindedly petted his hat. It was not damaged beyond repair, the boy would find it easy to restore. The point wasn't to destroy the machine.
He turned from the machine, placing his hand behind his back lazily as he walked towards the exit of the gymnasium where all the other teachers and students had already left. Once again he raised his hand to for a moment pet his hat, before chuckling slightly.
"Message sent, my dear."