His feet pounded as he ran along the footpath. The backpack digging into his shoulders and the wind whipping harshly against his face. This fucking sucked. Wilbur had completely forgotten to account for his major lacking in the sports department, as well as the fact that he was running on 2 spoons of cereal, 1 bite of a burger and 2 bites of pizza. He did not have enough energy for this.
His steps were slower than they were 15 minutes ago, but he kept pushing on. He had to do this.
He kept running until his right foot hit an uneven pavement, tripping him and pulling him towards the ground. He smashed into the concrete with bursts of pain. He could see the blood on the ground below him, but his ankle hurt the worst.
He pulled himself back up into a standing position and immediately grabbed the fence post next to him to stop himself from falling. Fuck. How was he supposed to run now?
He looked around, trying to find… something. He wasn't quite sure but it seemed like his only option. As he was surveying the area, his eyes fell on a car in one of the driveways across the street. He knew that car. It was hard to see from how dark it was, but he knew that car. That car belonged to the only constant in his life.
Logically, he knew Sam and Phil were friends, but Sam was the only person who had ever treated him nicely. Sam was the only good person in Wilbur's world. Plus, it's not like he had much of a choice. What else could he do?
Surely Sam would understand, right? Sam always listened to Wilbur, he was the only person who ever believed him. It was worth a shot.
He pushed himself off the fence post, limping across the road and finally reaching Sam's door. He hoped Sam wouldn't be too mad for waking him up at midnight.
He psyched himself up for a few seconds before reaching up and knocking.
Sam rolled over in bed, slightly disturbed by the noises from outside. He always was a light sleeper. He lay still, trying to ignore the sound and fall back asleep when he noticed something. Those taps didn't sound normal. They were too rhythmic, they sounded purposeful. They also sounded like they were coming from the living room.
Sam opened his eyes and looked to the side, making sure Ponk was still asleep before quietly slipping out of bed and walking to the bedroom door, opening it slowly so it wouldn't make too much noise. He walked down the hall to Georges room to check on him like he did whenever e got up at night. The 10-year-old was peacefully sleeping in his blue bed that was covered in stickers of clout goggles and the numbers '404'. He looked so sweet sleeping like this. Sam really loved this boy.
He heard the tapping again, walking down the stairs silently as he entered the living room. The tapping once again sounded and Sam's head whipped towards the front door.
What the fuck?
He slowly walked over to the door and peered through the peephole, flinging open the door when he saw the person standing (or trying to) on his doorstep.
He locked eyes with Wilbur. The kid who was supposed to be with Phil and who was covered in scratches on the right side of his body and seemed to be struggling to hold himself up. Sam immediately reached out and grabbed the boy, stepping forward to let Wilbur lean himself again Sam. Wilbur gratefully accepted, turning to press his face into Sam's pyjama shirt and sob.
Sam looked down at the boy with impossible levels of concern. What the hell happened? His mind was fighting with itself over whether he should blame Phil or worry over how much Phil must be freaking out. He ignored it in favour of picking the shaking figure in his arms up and carrying him inside to set him on the couch.
He helped Wilbur calm down, rubbing soothing circles on his back and counting breaths out loud to soothe Wilbur's panic. Once the boy had calmed, Sam braced himself for the questions he had been dreading receiving the answers to.
"What happened, Wil?" He asked, keeping it vague to give Wilbur as much choice in his answer as possible. He hoped the fact that he was speaking slightly slower and deeper was helping.
"I-I ran away." The answer was given in a whisper, Wilbur sounding almost embarrassed as he spoke.
Sam trusted Phil. He really did. He loved Phil and had 100% faith that he would never hurt a kid. Well, nearly 100%. He really trusted Phil, but seeing Wilbur struggling to stand on his doorstep, covered in scratches and blood, at midnight, Sam didn't know what to think. What he did know, is that Wilbur wouldn’t lie to him. Everyone had faults and flaws, Wilbur included, but dishonestly was not one of them.
Sam forced himself to have a little more faith in his best friend. Normally Sam would be much more biased to the kid in this situation, but this was Phil. He had to trust his friend.
"Do you want me to call Phil to come get you?" Wilbur's eyes widened and he violently shook his head. Sam was getting more and more scared to find out what happened. He trusted Phil. Phil wouldn't do anything to Wilbur. He would never.
Sam forced himself to ask the question he was dreading.
"Did Phil… do anything to you? Yell at you? …Something worse?" Wilbur once again shook his head, much gentler this time. Sam couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief. Thank fuck. He was so scared that his best friend had been a terrible person this whole time. Sam didn't know if he could've gotten over that.
Normally, with any other of his kids, he would've been more hesitant to believe them. They often hid when things went wrong, whether it was them breaking something or something on a more sinister level, but Wilbur was different. He avoided saying things sometimes, but he never outright lied. It was like he was physically incapable.
Sam spoke up again, this time a lot more relaxed and less scared of the answer.
"If Phil didn't do anything, then why did you run?" Sam was extremely careful to make his tone as genuine as possible. Wilbur was incredible at picking up on tone and facial expressions and he didn't need Wilbur thinking he was being judged. Even if there was no reason for him to run, trauma makes people act in ways that are unexplainable sometimes, and Sam would never make Wilbur, or anyone, feel bad about that.
"That's why. He hasn't done anything. H-he's been so nice to me. And kind and caring and I-I'm just so confused and scared. He has to snap some time, everyone does, but I don't know when and it's really really scary. I ran because I know he's gonna snap soon and I wanted a house in my past that was nice, even if it was really short." Wilbur's voice was breaking by the end of his words, tears once again falling down his cheeks.
Sam was fucking heartbroken. This kid had been through so much that he didn’t deserve. No 11-year-old deserved to think that all adults were cruel and would 'snap'. Sam just wanted to cradle Wilbur in his arms and protect him from the world, but he knew he couldn't do that, so he was happy to see Phil do it for him.
Sam pulled Wilbur out of his arms, both hands on Wilbur's shoulder. He looked Wilbur in the eyes as he spoke.
"Wilbur, I know you aren't gonna believe me, and that's okay. It's gonna take you some time to understand this, but Phil isn't going to 'snap'. That’s not the type of person he is. He is patient and caring and loving and I guarantee you he is gonna do everything he can to give you the best life possible. I promise." Wilbur looked shocked and distrustful at Sam's words, but Sam had known Wilbur long enough to notice the little glimmer of hope hidden in his eyes. Sam knew he didn’t have to worry. Wilbur would be fine.
Sam smiled at the confused and sceptical kid in front of him.
"How about we get you patched up, okay?" Wilbur shook himself out of whatever thought he was lost in and nodded, smiling.
"Thanks, Sam." Sam smiled warmly and walked off to the bathroom to grab the first aid kit. He fucking loved this kid.
Wilbur chatted to him about a new book he had found as Sam cleaned the blood then disinfected and plastered the scratches and iced his ankle, which was thankfully only sprained. Sam was slightly concerned that Wilbur was reading about communism, but as long as he's happy, right?
Once Sam was done tending to his wounds, he braced himself to bring up the one thing that he knew would bring Wilbur's happier mood down. It had to be done, though, so Sam sucked it up and spoke.
"Can I call Phil and let him know you're here? I know you're scared, but I promise he won't get mad. And I'm only a 5-minute drive away if you need me." Wilbur looked nervous but nodded.
"You promised it would be okay, and I trust you. I'm still really scared, but I trust you, Sam." This kid was gonna fucking kill him. His heart couldn't take this. He really hoped Phil would be able to get through Wilbur's walls because it was so worth it. This kid was so amazing once he trusted someone.
Wilbur was clearly nervous. His foot was bouncing and he was fidgeting with his own fingers as he stared down at his lap. Sam gave the kid one last quick hug before grabbing his phone and calling Phil.
He really hoped Phil was okay.
Phil couldn't sleep. Normally he could sleep just fine, and there wasn't anything external keeping him awake. Everything was silent, dark and warm. Perfect for sleep. Yet, his mind simply wouldn't shut off. He had this feeling that something was wrong.
He chalked it up to the change of Wilbur being here. He loved having Wilbur here, he would even go as far as to say that he loved Wilbur, but it was still a change, and he still had to get used to the differences in his routine, good or bad. That could easily be keeping him up.
But something felt off. Like some psychic being in his mind was yelling at him that something was wrong. He was sure it was nothing, what could possibly be wrong?
He had to check. There was no way he was going to sleep until he saw Wilbur safe and sound.
Just as he was sitting up in his bed, legs swung over the side and feet currently sitting on the floor beside the bed, his phone rang. It was Sam. Why the fuck was Sam calling at 12:30 in the morning. What the fuck was going on?
"Hello?" He cringed at how tired he sounded.
"Hey, Phil. Wilbur's here with me." Wait, what?
"He ran away. He twisted his ankle on the pavement outside my house but luckily he recognised my car in my driveway so he came to me for help. He's fine, just a few scratches and a sprained ankle from falling. I've patched him up and I'm gonna drive him to your place now. Just wanted to call and let you know in case you woke up and found him missing." Holy shit. So that's why he couldn't sleep. Kid's been here 2 days and Phil's already got his fatherly instincts down pat. Hell yes.
Not the time.
Wait Wilbur's hurt?
"Uh, yea. Thanks, Sam. Really. Thank you." Phil was truly relieved that Wilbur had found Sam. Who knows what could've happened if he tripped somewhere else.
Phil got up and walked to his couch, sitting there to wait for Sam to arrive. He was sure the next five minutes were gonna be torture.
Finally, a knock on the door sounded, Phil jumping from his seat on the couch to open it. As he did, he let out a sigh of relief at seeing Wilbur. He knew, logically that the boy was fine, if a bit roughed up, but having the boy in his sight made him so much calmer.
Sam helped Wilbur walk over to the couch before saying his goodbyes and leaving. Phil turned to look at Wilbur only to see the boy staring at where Sam was standing a few seconds ago and shaking violently. Phil ran over to the boy and tried to get his attention.
"Wilbur? Hey, it's okay, everything's okay, you're fine Wilbur. Everything's fine."
'N-no, you're mad. Y-yo-you're mad. You're angry. You're gonna yell. I ruined your sleep and disturbed you with my silly actions. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Wilbur responded in a quiet and wobbling tone.
"Wilbur look at me." Scared brown eyes met calming blue ones. "I'm not mad. You didn’t disturb me, not that I would've been upset if you did, and you definitely don't have to be sorry. You did what you thought was best for the situation and I'm not going to get upset at you for that, okay? I promise, Wilbur, I'm not mad." Wilbur looked more confused with every new word that came from Phil's mouth. How had this not pushed him over the edge? Why was this guy so patient with him?
His breathing was still fast, but Phil was still sitting there with him, and he stayed for the ten minutes that it took to get Wilbur back to normal breathing and a calmer mindset. Wilbur was confused, but above all he was tired. He held Phil tightly as the man helped him walk up the stairs and to bed.
This was nice.
He wished he could believe Sam.
He wished it could stay like this forever.