Summary: Gilbert goes back in time about 70 years, ends up meeting Kevin Regnard as an orphaned baby, and becomes his foster parent until he is taken in by the Sinclairs. Multi-chapter funny-sad crack theorizing about Kevin's past.
Writer's Note: I know that they probably wouldn't have had baby bottles back in this time period, but let's pretend, mkay? Because you know you want to read about Gilbert giving baby Kevin a bottle as much as I wanted to write it.
Thanks to total_alias for beta reviewing!
(1) Year 0
Gilbert Nightray had never been good at retaining traumatic memories, but his fonder memories tended to stay snuggled around him like a warm coat on a snowy day.
Where am I? Gilbert wondered, lying on his back, looking up at the gray sky and the light flurry of snowflakes. There was a fight…I ended up in Abyss…how did I get out of Abyss?
He sat up and looked around. Quickly he sensed that something wasn't right. He was in a city alleyway, covered with an old-fashioned ladies' woolen overcoat. No one wears coats this style anymore. Unless… The realization that Abyss might have cast him back in time coursed through his gut like an electric shock.
Oz! Where is Oz?
He clambered to his feet and ran out to the street, where a newspaper vendor was hawking the day's news. Gilbert bought a paper and glanced at the date…he was seventy years in the past! Oz hadn't even been born yet. A lonely ache settled into his heart, but then he was distracted…
"Kind Sir?" An elderly woman bowed before him. "'Tis my coat you've got there."
Gilbert looked down at the woolen overcoat he'd stashed over his arm.
"Oh," he tried to force a smile as he handed it back to her.
"I was the one who covered you," she said, gratefully taking the coat. "You're an Unfortunate One, are you not? You dropped out of nowhere, tattered and bleeding."
Gilbert took stock of himself and for the first time noticed he was bleeding from cuts on his hand and cheek. He tucked the newspaper under his arm and dabbed at his wounds with a handkerchief.
The woman continued, her voice sweet and sticky like a motherly school teacher.
"Unfortunate Ones must stick together and help each other," she said, adjusting her headscarf. "Have you a place to stay, Kind Sir?"
Gilbert shook his head and she beckoned him to follow her into a small apartment, which was dark except for where the gray gloom seeped in from the window. As they warmed their hands by the fire, she told him that she had lost her husband but had savings enough to live on. Their conversation was interrupted by the shrill cry of an infant.
The lady disappeared into the bedroom and returned with a white-haired baby in her arms.
"This baby boy, too, is an Unfortunate One," she said, rocking the little one in her arms. "He lost his parents and I'm having difficulty finding someone who will adopt him. You can see why…" she placed the baby in Gilbert's arms. "Red eyes like his are still scorned and feared by some, you know. But you seem like a more kind-hearted sort of fellow."
She went to fix a bottle, leaving Gilbert holding the baby. He looked into his eyes and felt a strange sense of familiarity. The infant looked up at this dark-haired stranger, and his little face scrunched up like he was going to cry. Gilbert instinctively rocked him back and forth, and the young one calmed.
"Well, I see you have a way with babies," the lady smiled as she returned with the bottle. "I'm glad to have some help in looking after him. Sit down and I'll show you how to feed him."
Gilbert sat in a rocking chair, cradled the boy in the crook of his left arm and gave him the bottle with his right. He watched the little lips greedily sucking on the milk and again felt an eerie sense that he knew this little person from somewhere. But the only other person he'd known with red eyes was Break…Xerxes Break.
"What's his name?" Gilbert asked the lady.
"His name is Kevin," she said. "Kevin Regnard."
Gilbert felt his heart drop into his stomach. He looked back at that pale small face, and those two perfect red eyes framed by long eyelashes. The boy stared back at him, eyes full of innocent trust, but then the words of Xerxes Break – the man who Kevin Regnard would grow up to be – flashed into his head from distant memory.
"You don't need to trust me. Just use me. After all, I'll only be using you."
Gilbert's eyes blinded with tears he couldn't rationally explain. He tried to steady his shaking hand – the hand that held the bottle for this helpless, unwanted child. I know what it's like to not be wanted. When he was able to see again, he saw Kevin's eyes flickering shut. Even in sleep, his mouth continued to suck lightly on the bottle.
He needs me, thought Gilbert. And I want to be needed by him.
to be continued