Actions

Work Header

Conquering Nightmares of the Past

Chapter Text

The rain poured on him as he stood on the dull grass, like the sky was weeping along with everyone else.

 

The sky had no right to be weeping, it just gained one of the brightest stars in the universe.

 

Phil thought with misery about how beautiful the coffin suspended over a six-foot-deep hole was, though nothing could compare to the beauty within.

 

A beauty that would never shine in the light of day again.

 

Kristin was so incredible. She had so much love to give and so much kindness in her heart. She, out of everyone, didn't deserve to be lost so soon.

 

Phil looked up from the coffin at all the people gathered to mourn her devastating loss. As he scanned the crowd his saddened gaze fell on Sapnap. Bad and Skeppy had fostered him 6 years ago and adopted him 2 years after that. They looked so happy, even with such saddened expressions.

 

Kristin had wanted that. Always going on about how much she wanted kids and gushing to Phil about how perfect and incredible their children would be. She had always wanted to foster, saying she wanted to give a lost child a loving forever.

 

She never got the chance.

 

Phil wanted kids too but he didn't know how he was supposed to look into the pure and innocent eyes of a perfect little kid and not see Kristin staring back at him. How was he supposed to fulfill her greatest aspiration without thinking about her all of the time?

 

Phil didn't know if he could handle it.

 

His black suit was soaked with freezing cold water but he couldn't find it in himself to care as he looked back at the glossy cedarwood coffin and mourned the devastating loss of the amazing woman inside.

 

The warm tears falling down his cheeks were a strong contrast to the freezing rain dripping from his hair. The rain would do his hair some good, he hadn't washed it in a week. He couldn't find the energy to.

 

His mind wandered back to fostering and if he would be able to do it alone. Maybe one day he would. Maybe one day he would be able to grow the family that Kristin always wanted.

 

For now, though, Phil just wanted to grieve.

 


 

BEEP

 

BEEP

 

BEEP

  

BE-

 

A hand slammed over the button on the dark green alarm clock on Phil's bedside table. The beeping being replaced with a groan, he rolled over to hug his wife, only to be greeted with an empty, cold space where she should be.

 

He sighed in sadness. What a wonderful start to the day.

 

As much as Phil wanted to lay in bed in darkness all day, he had to work. He lay there for a few seconds more before forcing himself out of the comfort and warmth of his bed and into the harsh realities of his day.

 

He considered making pancakes, but the thought of cooking only brought up memories of loving mornings with sleepy hugs and loving conversations over warm meals.

 

He reached into one of the top cabinets and grabbed some cereal, not bothered to look at the label to find out which one it was. Pouring the balls of sugar into a ball, his mind drifted to Kristin. She was all he could think about. He really missed her.

 

He needed a distraction, something to take his mind from the heart-wrenching grief of losing his soulmate but everything in his life just seemed so monotonous. There was nothing to think about.

 

Just wake up, eat a shitty breakfast, work for more hours than he probably should, then sleep. He needed something in his life. Someone to keep him company. Someone to love.

 

As he finished his train of thought and focused back into reality, he stared disappointedly at his bowl of dry cereal, not bothered to grab the milk. He took the bowl back to his office to work when he noticed an email from-

 

Oh.

 

 

Well if that wasn't a punch in the gut.

 

He was missing Kristin so much and now this is thrown in his face.

 

Or maybe this was a-

 

Maybe this was actually a good idea. He had so much love in his heart that had no one to go to and these kids needed a family to love them. It was the perfect match.

 

Phil had already done all the training and reading and everything to prepare with Kristin. Yeah, it would be hard raising a kid without his wife when having kids was what Kristin wanted to do with her future but Phil has no doubt that she would have wanted him to do this.

 

3 months ago Phil was nowhere near in the right mindset to have another life to care for, he could barely care for himself. Now, though, he's in a much better place mentally. He's still grieving, but he's okay. Most of all, he's lonely. He needs someone else, and these kids need someone too.

 

Could he really do this?

 

He could think more about this later. Right now, he has work to do.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Phil heard the knock right as he finished making the coffee. He walked over to the door and opened it, revealing his best friend since seventh grade.

 

"Hey, Phil."

 

"Hey, guys." Sam and Puffy sat on the couch as Phil and Bad brought over the coffee.

 

"So why'd you call us over, Phil? Not that I don't love hearing from you, of course." Puffy said, taking a sip from her cup.

 

"I actually wanted your guy's advice on something." As he began thinking about why he invited everyone, the happiness from seeing his friends was quickly replaced by nerves. Not that he was scared they wouldn't be happy and supportive, just that the topic itself was really scary.

 

"Everything alright, Phil?" Bad voiced showed clear concern, good at picking up his friend's emotions after spending two decades with them. Sam and Puffy both showed faces of concern as well.

 

"Everything's fine"  Except missing Kristin  went unsaid "I just got an email yesterday that prompted some thoughts and I thought you guys would be able to help me figure them out."

 

"Well, what was the email about?" Sam's tone was always so patient, so calming and exactly what Phil needed to work up the courage to talk.

 

"It was a notification of approval to foster. I think I want to do it, but I can't stop thinking about Kristin." Everyone sat in silence for a moment, Phil waiting for them to react and the others all thinking about what to say.

 

"I think you should do it. I know you really miss Kristin, but you would be such an amazing father. You would be giving a kid such a happy life and being able to create the family you and Kristin always wanted. I think it would be hard, but the final result would be so worth it." Puffy always knew just what to say. Sometimes, even after knowing her for 20 years, he was still shocked by how amazing she was at phrasing things perfectly.

 

"I agree with Puff. You would be such a great dad, this opportunity is just too perfect to pass up. Plus I'm sure you're quite lonely at the moment, and I know that alone is not a reason to foster, but you would be such a kind and caring father and I think it could really help you to have someone in your life to care for." Bad brought up a point that Phil had considered before. Normally, he always thinks so much about other people, he struggles to remember to think of himself as well.

 

Yesterday, though, he thought of himself quite a bit after seeing the email and thinking over if fostering would be a good thing for him, and he felt kind of guilty about that. He was glad Bad brought it up as well to reassure him that it was okay to think of himself even if the situation affects someone else more than him.

 

"There are actually quite a few younger kids in group homes around here, you could probably get one in your placement within a month or so." Phil was silent for a long moment, considering what to say next. He knew what he was thinking about it, he just didn't quite know how to phrase it.

 

"I was uh- I was actually thinking of fostering an older kid. I just think I would be better at dealing with an older kid. I dunno, I'm not sure." He had thought a lot about this last night. Not only would he be better at handling an older kid, but there are so many kids who age out of the system because people want to foster younger kids, Phil can't help but want to help at least one of them out.

 

"Really? God, that's awesome. I really shouldn't tell you this, but there's this kid leaving his current placement next week who I know you would love. He's so much like you were as a kid once you get through his shell. I think you guys would be perfect. It's obviously your decision, but I could send you his file to look at?" Sam sounded unsure at the end, like he felt like he was pressuring Phil into something, but everyone in the room knew Sam would never do that intentionally. He was way too kind.

 

Though what he said really was doing a good job at convincing Phil. I mean, it's just a file. What's the harm?

 

"Sure, I'll take a look at it."

 

"Awesome! Call me when you make up your mind. Here-" Sam grabbed a small piece of paper and pen from his pocket, quickly scribbling something down and handing it to Phil. "This is my work number. Call me on this when you make a decision." Sam gave a gentle smile as he finished talking, clearly happy for his friend.

 

After a few more hours of conversation, Puffy, Bad and Sam left, waving Phil a happy goodbye as they left, happy that their friend was getting better after losing Kristin and making a family for himself.

 

Bad got in his car and drove away while Sam and Puffy walked back together as they loved quite close to each other and Phil.

 

"Did you give Phil that kids file just because you know Phil won't be able to say no once he sees the kids face?" Puffy asked, knowing her friend well.

 

"He needs this just as much as the kid does." Was Sam's knowing reply

 

"You've got a point there."

 

And with that, they walked home in happy silence.

 


 

Name: Wilbur Soot

 

Age: 11


 
DOB: 14/9/2003


 
Height: 5'0


 
Mental disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, MDD, GAD
Currently prescribed to take 20mg Fluoxetine (PROZAC) daily


 
Biological Parents: Mr Oliver Soot & Mrs Annabelle Soot


 
Biological Parents Address: 19 Glairwood Rd, Edinburgh


 
Last Placement: Mr & Mrs E-Girl


 
Last Placement Address: 704 Canders Ln, London


 
Reason for Admission to the Foster Program: Biological parents didn't have the resources to care for him


 
Details of Placement: Wilbur was placed with the E-Girls on April 20, 2014. It is the fifth placement he has been in since entering the system at age 5. Wilbur seemed happy with the E-Girls and they seemed happy keeping him until they decided to send him back to the system for unspecified reasons.


 
Details of past placements: Wilbur's first placement-


 
Phil stopped reading. He wasn't sure why, he knew knowing what happened to the kid in the past would help him with raising Wilbur, but he couldn't bring himself to read on. It felt like an invasion of privacy.


 
Wilbur should have the right to tell his past to who he wants, not to have it handed around in a file for all to read. It just felt wrong.


 
Phil closed the folder, but not before taking one last look at the picture held to the page with a paper clip. It showed a young boy with fluffy, brown hair covered by a dull red beanie. The boy was wearing an oversized well-loved yellow sweater. He was smiling slightly, but it was obvious it was forced, his eyes only showed exhaustion.


 
There was no way Phil could say no now. His heart simply wouldn't allow it.

 


 

Phil watched his fingers pressing the buttons on the keypad of his phone, eyes occasionally darting over to the piece of paper Sam had given him with his work number. As he finished typing in the number, his pointer finger moved to hover over the call button. He hesitated, last-minute doubt dancing around his mind, but he had made up his mind. He wanted to do this.


 
He pressed the button, listening to the dial tone as it played, once, twice, thr-


 
"Hello, Sam Awedude speaking." It was always weird hearing Sam's professional voice. He was always so casual around Phil that sometimes he forgot Sam could be so formal.


 
"Hey, Sam."


 
"Phil! I've been waiting for you to call. Made up your mind?" He was trying to hide the excitement in his voice, but Phil had known this man for 20 years. He could hear it easily.


 
"Yep."


 
"…Well!? The suspense is killing me, man!" Every second Sam's voice got more and more eager. Phil was really glad he was giving good news.


 
"I'm ready for you to bring him by whenever"


 
"Yes! Oh, Phil, you have no idea how happy this makes me. Wil's a really good kid, you'll like him. God, you really made the right call here." Phil couldn't help but smile at how happy Sam was. He really loved his friends.


 
"I don't doubt it. It's nerve-wracking, but I'm really excited. I'm gonna be a dad, Sam!" He knew Kristin was smiling down on him from heaven right now.


 
"You are! I'm so- sorry, one second." Phil could hear the slight rustling of Sam moving the phone away from his ear.


 
"What's wrong, Georgie?" The voices were slightly muffled, but the words could still be made out clearly.


 
"I made you this." There was a small pause as Sam presumably looked at whatever George gave him.


 
"Baby, this is so sweet. I love it. Thank you!" The softness in Sam's voice made Phil's face morph into a smile. He was so happy his friend found a family that made him so happy. A part of him secretly hoped he could find that too.


 
"Hey, Phil. I should really go. Wilbur leaves his current placement this Thursday. I'll be back with him around 3, that work?"


 
"Sounds perfect. Thanks, Sam."


 
"All good. I'm really happy for you, man. See you Thursday."


 
"See ya." The end tone played in Phil's ear as he placed the phone down on the counter in front of him.


 
He was gonna be a dad.

 


 

Phil walked along the grassy land, eyes scanning over the square grey stones dug into the ground, some flat and some upright, each holding a dark and devastating story beneath them.


 
As he walked, his eyes locked on his destination and he sat facing the engraved stone.


 
"Hey, Kristen.

 

I've got big news to tell you. I'm gonna be a dad. I'm starting our family, just like you wanted.


 
I wish you were here to see it. You would've loved this kid. I haven't met him yet, but his picture is so adorable. He looks so perfect.


 
His name's Wilbur. Sam says he's been through a lot, I really hope I can help him. This would be so much easier with you here but don't worry, I've got this. I'm gonna be the best dad Wilbur could ever ask for.


 
I wish you could meet him with me. It doesn't even matter what his personality is like, I know you would've loved him anyway.

 

We'll never be a full family without you, but I promise we'll try. I'm gonna do this, Kristin. For you. I'm gonna make the happiest family ever so you can look down on us from heaven and smile.


 
I wish I could see your smile again.


 
I wish I could see you again.


 
I really fucking miss you, Kristin."


 
He turned around, leaning his back against the stone and looking into the sky. The clouds were covering the sun but it was still warm and bright. He would sit there for a few more hours, pretending the hard, cold surface behind him was his loving wife.


 
Tears slowly rolled down his cheeks as he sat thinking about his lost soulmate, his stolen light.


 
He was going to be a great dad. He was going to make Kristin proud.

Chapter Text

IMPORTANT:
TW// self-harm, mentions of suicide, eating disorders, intrusive thoughts, blood, verbal child abuse, fainting

 

Wilbur looked in the mirror at himself. Most people who saw the photo on his file say he looks super upset, tired, depressed etc…

 

That picture has nothing on how he looks now.

 

His hair was oily and flat, beanie in his bag so he doesn't dirty it, his sweater thrown on the ground next to him, only wearing a pair of worn jeans that were too small for him. His eyes had huge bags on them and you could clearly count his lungs just from looking at him, but to Wilbur, there was still too much fat.

 

The sides of his torso were covered in scars. Hundreds of cuts ranging from healed to bleeding. His arms were the same, red littering from his wrist to his elbow.

 

The most noticeable ones, though, were the bandages wrapped around each of his wrists, blood soaking through. Under the bandages were huge scars from when he cut too deep. It wasn't an accident. He knew what he was doing. He knew there was an artery there. If only his foster parents hadn't found him.

 

The one fucking time they pay attention to him is the one fucking time he doesn't want them to.

 

This is the second time they've found him like that, bandages him and left him alone once more. Wilbur wonders how they knew. The only two times they've even gone into his room are the only two times he tried to kill himself. Fucking psychics.

 

His stomach rumbled in protest, he hadn't touched food in 4 days. Maybe he should grab a snack before he passes out.

 

No.

 

He's not weak. He can handle passing out a few times. He doesn't need food.

 

"WILFRED! DINNER!" He had been living here for almost a year, and they still couldn't remember his name. Not that he deserved their attention anyway.

 

Wilbur walked down the hall to the kitchen. He knew what 'dinner' meant. He was to prepare a meal, set it on the table then get out of sight. He knew the routine by now.

 

He got to work preparing a dinner of pasta, making a quick bolognese sauce while he waited for the timer to go off. While he was draining the pasta some boiling water spilt on his hands. He ignored the burning sensation and the red marks forming where the water had touched him. He deserved the pain.

 

As much as he wanted to be strong, staring at the freshly cooked pasta was just too tempting. His stomach was really hurting and he had been feeling lightheaded for the last couple of days straight.

 

Right as he reached for the pasta, a sound from behind him made him jump.

 

"Just what do you think you're doing?" It was his foster mum. She was always the stricter of the two. He started shaking. What was she gonna do? What if she sends him back? Wilbur's lucky to have a bed and his own clothes. And his foster parents here care about him. They always stop him from bleeding out (even if he wishes they would leave him to die) and they help him keep skinny. He doesn't deserve them. He wouldn't be as lucky in another placement.

"You pull that stupid bleeding out trick on us and now you're trying to sneak food from  our  dinner. Absolute disgrace. You know you've been gaining weight recently." The scale in the bathroom said otherwise.

"We're doing this for your own good. Stop being such a brat. Go to your room. I don't want to see your face."

 

Wilbur immediately listened, turning and running to his room as fast as his legs could take him. Why did he do that? Why couldn't he just control himself? These people were so nice to him, giving him water and shelter and warmth. They even go further and put so much effort into making sure he stays skinny. He's not worth their effort. Why did he have to go and try to steal from them? How ungrateful was he?

 

He immediately grabbed the razor from his bag and ran to the bathroom. He could barely meet his own eyes in the mirror as he sliced through his skin, blood slowly dripping down his arm as tears poured down his face.

 

His mind yelled insults and degrading words as he collapsed to his knees, sobbing as small pools of blood formed on the floor below his arms.

 

A small part of Wilbur's mind told him that he was just a kid, that he didn't deserve to be on the floor sobbing with his own blood pooling on the floor but he shut that part of him up. If he didn't deserve this, then everything that happened was luck, and Wilbur doesn't know if he can handle the thought that his future was based on luck.

 

As he kneeled there on the floor, his mind seemed to register that he was resting and the massive lack of sleep for the last few days began filling his vision black until his head dropped to the floor and his eyes slipped shut.

 


 

When Wilbur woke he was still on the bathroom floor. His wrists were scabbed over and he felt like shit. He sat there for a few minutes as he slowly woke, before realising where he was. He shot up, suddenly fully awake and aware of his surroundings.

 

He looked up at the clock on the counter. 12 pm. Fuck. He looked around frantically, trying to see if anything was wrong and noticed the blood on the floor. Some of it was starting to dry and stain the tiles. Thank god they were brown, not white. He immediately grabbed some toilet paper and water and scrubbed until his hands were sore and the wounds on his wrist had re-opened, but at least the blood was gone.

 

A harsh knocking on the door startled him from his thoughts, prompting him to quickly throw the bloody paper in the toilet and flush it away. He flung on his sweater and opened the door, extremely thankful in that moment for the lock, and was met with the exasperated face of his foster father.

 

"Pack. Sam's getting here in an hour." He walked away nonchalantly, like he didn't just give Wilbur one of the most horrifying pieces of news he'd ever received. Wilbur didn't let himself think for long, running to his room to pack, acting like he wouldn't be able to shove everything he owned into his bag in less than a minute.

 

As he packed, folding and carefully placing everything he owned in a tiny, tattered yellow backpack, he thought over why he was leaving. What did he do wrong? Why didn't they give him any warning? He heard them on the phone 2 weeks ago, but he didn't hear anything about sending him back. Even if they did, why not tell him for two weeks? Nothing was making sense right now.

 

It's not like he doesn't deserve much less than what he has, because he really doesn't deserve this. But he really thought things were going okay. How naïve of him, thinking anyone would be able to tolerate him for more than a year. That hadn't happened since he was 9. No one wants him anymore. He understands. If he could get away from himself, he would.

 

He grabbed his depressingly light bag and dejectedly walked to the front door, his foster mother ex-foster mother slamming the door behind him as he walked over to the curb to wait for Sam to turn up.

 

He knew Sam wouldn't be here for a while, as it only took him 5 minutes to pack, so he reached into his bag to check everything was there.

 

One white shirt.

 

One pair of jeans.

 

One set of pyjamas.

 

One pair of boxers.

 

One set of pyjamas.

 

3 razors.

 

A copy of his file he stole from his last foster parents.

 

One jacket.

 

He grabbed the file to read. It was strangely calming to read. Sure, it talked about everything in his past, which was never the happiest, but he was used to it, he lived through it. It reminded him of when things were easier, when he was a small, cute 5 year old, clear of trauma and flaws. Just a happy kid whose parents didn't want him.

 

Now he's broken. No one wants him anymore. The only person in the world who has interacted with him in a non-hostile manner was Sam. He liked Sam. Sam was nice to him, made him feel like a happy kid again. Sam was the only person he had trusted since he was 6 and his first house started ignoring him.

 

He read through the file thinking about the things written. Sometimes he wondered why his life was written down on 5 pieces of paper. Why his entire life was summed up to seem so insignificant. Why it was passed around to be read by any random stranger. That was his whole life showed around like the floorplan of a new apartment building.

 

Suicidal-

 

Flight risk-

 

Prone to panic attacks-

 

Depressed-

 

Anorexic-

 

Resorts to self-harm-

 

He always thought his file made him seem so bad. Like he was broken and unfixable. Sometimes he believed them. He had many scars to prove it.

 

He didn't even realise he was crying until he saw teardrops falling onto the page below him. He didn't want to be like this. He didn't want to be the broken kid who nobody wanted. He just wanted a family. He didn’t deserve a family.

 

He furiously wiped the liquid from the pages, closing the file to avoid further damage. He wiped away the tears streaming down his face too, but they replaced themselves quicker than he could move.

 

Eventually, he just gave up. He let his forehead rest on his knees as he sobbed into his worn-down jeans. He wished someone would come and save him, sweep him off the ground and into their arms and hold him until he calmed down. That's all it was, though. A wish. Something that no matter how hard he thought about it, wouldn't come true.

 

He wanted to accept it, but a part of him just couldn't.

 

A car drove up next to the curb beside him. He didn't care enough to look up until he felt arms wrapping around his body, holding him tight and rubbing his back. His face was still buried in his knees, but if he turned slightly, he could just see a couple strands of grass-green hair.

 

Sam.

 

"Oh, Wilbur. It's okay. Everything will be fine. I promise." Sam's soothing voice did wonders at slowing the tears falling from his eyes

 

He turned his body to press into Sam's chest, weeping harder as he let his emotions overcome him. Sam picked him up, holding Wilbur's bag as well. He carried Wilbur to the car and gently placed him down in the front seat. He walked around to the driver's side and started the car.

 

"Now, we've got quite the drive ahead of us, so what music do you wanna play?" Wilbur didn't answer. To busy staring at the house he used to live in, worrying about his future. He had no idea where he was going, but he knew it couldn't be good. Why would it? He didn't deserve it.

 

Though, just because he didn't deserve it, didn't mean he didn't want it.

 


 

When Sam pulled up to Wilbur's foster house, he expected to see Wilbur on the porch with his foster parents, waiting for Sam to get there to take him away. He knew that was probably hoping a little much, but what he definitely didn't expect was to see Wilbur sitting alone on the side of the road with his face buried in his knees, sobbing his eyes out.


 
It was heartbreaking.


 
Sam had known Wilbur since the kid was 5, he had seen him break down many times. That didn't make it hurt any less, though.


 
The most heartbreaking thing by far, though, was Wilbur's silence. Every time Sam had picked him up to take him to a new home, Sam asked him to pick the music and Wilbur replied with whatever song he was in the mood for. Music was clearly Wilbur's passion. Even if he had never had the chance to pick up an instrument, hearing music had always calmed him down.


 
Hearing no response to the question made Sam really believe that the boy had given up. It was so awful to see someone so young giving up. No one deserved to ever feel like that.


 
"You know, I really think this one will be forever. The guy you're staying with, Phil, he's been one of my best friends since high school. He's super nice." Sam saw Wilbur react slightly, but stop himself from showing anything beyond that. He had never wanted to murder a pair of foster parents more than right now.


 
"One time in high school, Phil was sick, so he was staying home for the day. But, during lunch, I tripped and broke my ankle. Puffy and Bad, my other friends, both helped me to the nurse's office so I was fine, but when Puffy called Phil to tell him what happened, he jumped out of bed and literally ran to the school to see if I was okay. Even though he was sick. He would do anything for the people he love, Wil. And, knowing Phil, he fell in love with you the moment he saw your picture in your file. This one's gonna be good. I promise." As Sam finished his story, he heard silenced sniffles from the passenger side of the car.


 
"We've still got more than an hour until we get there. Have a nap, I'm sure you're tired. I'll wake you when we arrive." With the go-ahead, Wilbur moves his head to rest on his arms and fell asleep, fear and sadness falling from his expression. God, Sam would do anything to make this kid feel happy again.


 
Sam didn't worry though. He knew Phil would do that for him.

Chapter Text

Here's the floor plan for anyone interested. No it didn't take me multiple hours to make 2 fucking screenshots. I'm fine.

 

 

 

When Wilbur woke, it wasn't on a bathroom floor in a pool of his own blood, or alone on a shitty mattress with one thin blanket in the middle of winter, but in a heated car on a soft leather chair with someone softly whispering to him and shaking him gently.

 

He wished this could be a common thing. He knew it wouldn't be.

 

He spent a second more taking in the moment, before opening his eyes and turning to Sam.

 

"Hey, Wil. We're here." Wilbur didn't know how Sam could say that with a smile on his face.

 

With a heavy sigh, Wilbur unclicked his seatbelt and opened his door, slowly stepping out into the fresh air. He liked the car air more. He looked up at the house for the first time and saw-  holy shit.  Okay, so he's not poor.

 

Not that it was a mansion or anything, but he was just so used to people barely having enough to support themselves and relying on foster payments. This guy either had a fuck-ton of dead foster kids in his basement or really didn't care about the foster money.

 

Wilbur didn’t know which option he preferred.

 

It was a 2-storey white house, the exterior walls all made up of large horizontal slats. The front porch was made of a really nice-looking wood flooring and had many plants covering it with a swing chair in the corner. The door was a nice dark brown wood with opaque glass panels in the middle.

 

The garden was surrounded by a bush fence with large trees in the corners and a well-kept grass lawn. The front gate and driveway both had cobblestone pathways coming from them that joined in the middle and lead onto the porch directly in front of the door.

 

This is by far the nicest place Wilbur's ever stayed in.

 

Though that won't matter much when he starts yelling. Wilbur doesn't deserve nice stuff anyway.

 

Most of the lights were off except one, signifying that he probably didn't have any other kids (thank god). Wilbur noticed that Sam had walked around the car and was standing behind him as he admired the place. He instantly looked down, not wanting Sam to know how much he liked it. Even if it was his favourite style of housing.

 

Sam chuckled and wrapped a hand around Wilbur's shoulder, gently pressing against him in the direction of the house, signifying for them to start moving. Once they reached to door, Sam stopped, not yet announcing their presence to the people inside.

 

"You ready, kid?" Sam's fond tone as he looked at the house was the same one he used when he talked to Wilbur about Ponk and George. He must really like this guy.

 

"No, but I don't really have a choice, do I?" Wilbur's shoulder's dropped with his words.

 

"This one'll be good. I promise." He turned to lock eyes with Wilbur, a genuine, soft smile on his face.

"Have I ever broken a promise to you, Wilbur?"

 

"…no. But you can't tell the future. How could you possibly know?" Wilbur's small voice made Sam's heart shatter slightly, but he kept up his smile, not letting his expression falter.

 

"Trust me, kid. I just know." The finality and confidence in Sam's voice swayed Wilbur slightly, but he still forced himself to be logical. Just because this person was friends with Sam doesn't mean they're good. Everyone has secrets.

 

Wilbur watched Sam's hand raised to knock on the door with anxiety. The start of House Number 6. From here on out, he didn't know what was going to happen and he was petrified.

 


 

Phil was excited, to say the least. He was nearly shaking, and he really couldn't tell if it was from anticipation or anxiety, but he didn't care. He just wanted to meet Wilbur.

 

He tried to calm himself down by distracting himself with random chores around the house, trying to make everything perfect for Wilbur. He walked upstairs, something he had done a couple days ago for the first time in years.

 

When he bought this house with Kristen, she chose one that had 5 bedrooms, planning for having kids in the future. Now they just have 4 empty rooms upstairs. Phil's glad that's going to change.

 

He walked into the second door past the stairs, the first being the bathroom, and looked around the room. He had furnished it with a double bed, bookshelf, wardrobe and desk with a plant in the corner for decoration. It was pretty boring, the bookshelf being mostly clear, the wardrobe being empty, and the bed having plain quilt covers and white sheets, but they would buy things once Wilbur got here so he would be able to have a room that he likes.

 

He fluffed the pillows and made sure the sheets were perfectly straight then walked over to the bookshelf, straightening up the children's novels he had bought, ranging from  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  to  The Chronicles of Narnia  to the entire  Harry Potter  series.

 

Phil looked around the room once more. It looked too clean. Too perfect. He wanted it to be more lived in. More loved. He couldn't wait for Wilbur to make this his own.

 

Right as he walked out the door, he heard a knock. He walked down the stairs as fast as he could and stood behind to door. He took a deep breath and opened the door.

 

There he was.

 

After 3 days of painful impatience and many years more than that of thinking about this moment and being so excited for the future, he was here. Wilbur was standing right in front of him looking-

 

Phil stopped focusing on Wilbur's presence and started noticing things about his appearance. He had vague tear stains down his cheeks and faded red puffy eyes, a huge yellow sweater on, the same one in the picture, but he was drowning in it. How much weight had this kid lost in the year since that picture was taken? His jeans were way too small, tight around his legs and nowhere near his ankle and his shoes were white skate shoes that looked quite small, along with being multiple shades too brown, extremely worn and clearly old.

 

And he was petrified.

 

Phil refused to let his façade falter as he locked eyes with the boy in front of him, a warm smile on his face in a futile attempt to make the kid less scared though he knew it wouldn't do much. Wilbur looked away within seconds.

 

"Hey, Wilbur. I'm Phil. I've been really excited to meet you." When he was met with silence, he didn't let himself be deterred. He knew this would take time, and he had all the time in the world.

"You wanna come inside?" Phil counted the slight shrug he got in response as a victory. He smiled wider and turned around, walking towards the lounge room and trusting Sam to follow.

 

When they got there, they sat, Phil making sure to sit in the armchair while Wilbur and Sam were on the couch. He didn't want to overwhelm him by being too close. He watched as Wilbur stared down at his hands, fiddling with the edge of his sweater as his shoulders seemed to instinctively curl in on him, making him look as small as possible.

 

"So, Phil, this is Wilbur Soot, you're new foster placement. Wilbur, this is Phil Watson, your new foster parent. We've sorted all the paperwork out already, so I'll be off. I'll be back in a week to check on you, Wil. Alright?" Wilbur really didn't want Sam to leave. It felt like he was the only thing holding the room in balance, like the second he walked out the door, everything would go to shit. He knew he didn't have a choice, though, so he swallowed his anxieties and nodded, giving a small smile to Sam as the man turned to leave.

 

Wilbur turned to Phil, wondering if he would snap now that Sam had left or lead him on for a bit, letting him think this was good before turning on him later.

 

"Hey, Wilbur. I just want to go over a few things then I'll give you a tour, alright?" Leading him on, then. Dammit. Those were to worst houses. The ones that gave you false hope before breaking you down to your core.

 

Wilbur nodded once more, fully aware of how not talking might be conceived as rude, but really not caring. If this guy wanted to be nice to give him false hope, he was going to take full advantage of that while he had the chance.

 

"So I just wanted to go over some rules, just basic things really. Just to keep you safe." There it was. The list of things Wilbur had to do or avoid that going against would end in ringing ears and wailing stomachs. 'Just to keep you safe' yea right. Wilbur stopped his thoughts to make sure he was paying attention to what Phil said next. Even if it was stupid, it was important.

 

"Curfew is at 8 pm, so I don't want you out after that, and if you are gonna be late or if you're staying with a friend for the night, just text me to let me know. I got you this so you could contact me. It's already got my number in there, along with my work phone number, email and the address of this place in case you ever forget." Phil handed Wilbur a phone.

 

It definitely wasn't the newest model, but holy shit! It was a touch screen, and the screen wasn't broken. It was already open on Phil's contact details so it worked too. Was this a test? The honeymoon period?  Was he actually just a nice person?  Wilbur threw that thought away the second he had it. Wilbur doesn't deserve a good person. He already had Sam and he was convinced he was already pushing his luck with that.

 

"I-I can't- no, I can't take this." He didn't know why this was being offered to him but he knew it couldn't end well if he took it. Either Phil would get mad at Wilbur for being greedy or Wilbur would end up attached to the phone and Phil would use that against him.

 

Phil got up to placed the phone in Wilbur's hands that were placed together in his lap, seemingly ignoring Wilbur's rejection. Wilbur really wasn't sure what to make of this guy. He knew he couldn't trust him, though. At least that was something.

 

"Other rules are not to enter my office without permission, knock before coming into my room and ask before using anything in my office or bedroom. All of those apply to me too, of course. Do you have any you want to add?" That was not as bad as Wilbur thought it would be. Those would be so easy to follow. Just leave him alone and don't touch his shit. Wilbur was gonna do that anyway. There had to be a catch.

 

"What chores do I have to do?" Wilbur mentally cursed himself for ruining the easy list from before, but he knew if he didn't say it then Phil would just expect him to know it and Wilbur would have to figure it out through trial and error. Definitely not worth it for a few moments of plausible deniability.

 

"You're still settling in. I can handle the chores for now. You just focus on making yourself comfortable here and getting used to this really big change for a bit, okay?" Now that was confusing. Why wouldn't Wilbur do the chores? That's what kids were for, to do the adults dirty work, especially foster kids. Before Wilbur could think more, Phil spoke up once more.

 

"As for school,"  Fuck  "You've got the next week off, but you start back up the Monday after that, so you've got 10 days to get settled before you've got to attend. I've got this week and next off work so I can help you settle in so we'll go shopping tomorrow for clothes and bedroom decorations and all that. We'll grab all your school stuff then too." He looked at Wilbur with a warm smile, and Wilbur gave a small one back. It wasn't a conscious decision and the second he realised, he pulled his lips back down, but the action wasn't left unnoticed as Phil's smile widened significantly.

 

Wilbur couldn’t lie, the man had a really welcoming and joyous smile. It made him want to smile back, but he knew there were dark secrets behind that happy face so he was able to stop himself from showing any more significant emotions.

 

"Why don't I show you around?" Wilbur nodded, thankful for the escape from the confusing and conflicting emotions he was feeling.

 

Wilbur followed Phil as he lead him down a hallway. They stood in the middle of the hall as Phil pointed out the doors around them.

 

"Here's my office, my bedroom and the downstairs bathroom. Feel free to come to me when I'm in bed or working, but as I said before, just make sure to knock first." Wilbur hated houses like this. Homes that pretended to be there for you, offering to help Wilbur whenever when in reality they really wanted Wilbur to leave them alone. Never-speak-unless-spoken-to kinda deal. Wilbur wished they would just say it outright. He hated when people hid meanings behind fake words.

 

Phil then turned and walked out of the hallway, Wilbur quickly following behind. He pointed to the couch they were on before and the kitchen appliances that were set up on the other side of the room.

 

"This is the kitchen and living room. Feel free to take any food you want from the fridge or pantry, but I'll make meals and we can eat them together."

 

What?

 

There were so many things to unpack in that sentence. 'Take any food you want' for one, that had to be a trick, a test to see how greedy Wilbur was. He knew what Phil was trying to do and he wasn't falling for it. The other thing really stumping him was that Phil said he would make the meals. That was Wilbur's job. He made the food then fucked off to his room until they were hungry again or needed him for some other chore they didn't want to do. Phil already said he didn't have to do chores, if Phil made the food, what would Wilbur do?

 

Wilbur was so utterly confused.

 

Phil must've noticed the bewildered expression on his face, as he looked down at the kid with confused and slightly concerned eyes. That didn't make sense either. Why would he be concerned? Wilbur wasn't worth worrying for. He must be faking it.

 

"Wilbur? Are you alright?" Wilbur knew that question only had one answer, no matter how 'not okay' you were. He put a smile on his face as he answered, hoping to convince the other to leave him alone.

 

"Fine, why?" Play dumb. The less you pretend to know, the less you accidentally say something you shouldn't.

 

"You just had a really freaked out look on his face. Are you sure you're okay?"

 

"Just fine." Wilbur pulled his smile a little wider with his words, praying to any god listening for this guy to get off his back.

 

"Alright, just checking." God, this guy was weird.

 

Phil walked around the corner, walking up the stairs next to them and turning his head while he walked up them to make sure Wilbur was following. Once they got upstairs, Phil immediately began pointing to doors.

 

"This is the upstairs bathroom, these are the guest rooms, and this-" Phil walked over to the room and opened the door, standing out of the way of the walkway so Wilbur could walk in. "is your room" He finished with a wide smile but nervous smile on his face, hoping Wilbur would like the room he spent hours preparing.

 

Wilbur didn't notice Phil's anticipative expressions as he looked around the room, completely in awe. It was average size for a bedroom, but way bigger than Wilbur had ever stayed in, it had a desk, a bookshelf actually full of actual books to read, and a fucking double bed, like what the fuck? Did this guy know he wasn't gonna stay here? Wilbur felt kinda bad for the guy spending so much money on him, but it was furniture, it's not like Wilbur was gonna break it, he could reuse it after Wilbur left.

 

Wilbur shook himself out of his stupor, walking into the room and turning to face Phil. Phil chuckled a bit at the kids change in demeanour.

 

"I'll be in the living room if you need me. I'll call you down for dinner around 7, sound good?" Phil must've been lying about him cooking, then. Wilbur should've expected that, he was honestly kinda embarrassed for not thinking of that before. Of course he was lying, what reason would he have to tell the truth?

 

Wilbur watched as Phil gave him one last welcoming smile and left the room, closing the door behind him. No foster parent had ever closed his door for him, it felt strange.

 

Wilbur was so fucking confused.

Chapter Text

Wilbur stared at the door for a few more seconds after Phil had left, listening to the reassuring sounds of receding footsteps. He turned to look around the room, no longer having to hide his reactions. It was pretty bland, but he would much rather that than neon blue or fucking orange or something.

 

The bookshelf was a dark brown, a lovely contrast to the white walls. He ran a hand over the spines of the books before turning his attention to the desk. It was the same colour as the bookshelf, really bringing the room together. As he walked over to it, he noticed a little pen holder with heaps of pens and pencils filling it in one corner and a lamp in the other.

 

He flicked the switch on the lamp and the light flickered on. He switched it again and watched the bulb lose its brightness. He was surprised that it actually worked. He turned his head once more, eyes focusing on the bed behind him. It was covered in plain white sheets, but holy fuck, was it massive.

 

He hesitantly walked over to it, pressing a hand against the mattress and gawking when it sunk into the soft fabric.

 

He immediately turned and jumped backwards onto the bed, giggling softly when he bounced. Then he remembered where he was and the smile fell instantly. This stuff wasn't his, he didn't deserve it. He would probably be gone before the end of the year. This wasn't his home.

 

He placed the backpack he had been carrying around on the bed next to him. He could hide it later. He couldn't bring himself to stand just yet, choosing to lay there as he thought over the events of the day and willed himself not to go to sleep. He had to be awake for when Phil called him to dinner in a few hours. He couldn't piss the guy off on his first day.

 

Phil in general was so confusing. He didn't give Wilbur any chores, didn't tell him off for not talking enough and hadn't yelled at him (yet). He also gave Wilbur this incredible room, which, as much as Wilbur loved, he knew this put him in Phil's debt and that the things in this room would probably be held over his head later on.

 

He didn’t like thinking about what Phil was going to do to him, he wished it could just stay like this forever, but he knew that wasn't how it worked, so he kept letting himself have these saddening thoughts. They were only preparing him for the inevitable. They were helping him, even if he didn't enjoy it.

 

He thought back to his biological family. He wished he could go back to them. He barely remembered them at this point, but he had enough memories to wish that he could go back there. He remembered them taking him to get ice cream, or watching him play at the park, or his first day of school where they spent ages calming him down when he got upset for them leaving.

 

(He also remembered them locking him outside for hours when he was bad, or them yelling that he was a mistake, or all the times when they told him he was a waste of space and they wished they never had him. He chose to ignore those memories.)

 

He hadn’t realised tears were falling from his eyes until he felt two warm wet patches accumulating on the blankets next to his face. He furiously wiped his eyes and forced himself to get off the bed. Laying there with only his thoughts to entertain him wasn't doing him any good.

 

He reached for his bag to pull out his file to read when he remembered the bookshelf. He turned to face the bookshelf where it sat against his desk and walked over to it. Phil put these here, surely he wouldn't mind if Wilbur read them, right?

 

Aw, who fucking cares. Let Phil get mad, Wilbur wants to read.

 

He ran his fingers over the spines slowly as he read each title. All the books were fiction. He didn’t mind fiction, but he would much prefer an informational book. Call him a nerd, but he liked learning. He got about halfway through when he noticed a burst of colour behind the book he was touching. He pulled the book out and saw the cover of a book, shoved behind all the others.

 

It was clear the book wasn’t meant to be there, but that only made Wilbur want to read it more. He pulled out another 3 books before the entire thing was uncovered. He pulled it out and put the other books back as he ran his hands over the shiny cover.  The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.  He felt like he was drawn to it, like he had to read it.

 

He fell opened up the first page, getting captured in the words as he stumbled backwards until he fell backwards onto the bed, eyes not leaving the page. He had only read like 5 lines, but he was already hooked. He would have to hide this when Phil comes into his room, he doesn't want to risk getting it taken away. He would definitely be stealing this to take to his next house.

 

Maybe, if he got to lay on his comfy bed reading the greatest book he had ever read more often, he might actually be able to tolerate it here.

 


 

Wilbur lay on his bed in the same exact position he had been in for the last 4 hours, completely lost in the book. He had completely lost track of time reading and was loving every second. He hadn't felt this happy in a while, he wished he could get the chance to read more. After reading only his file for so long, he had forgotten how amazing it was to read actual books.

 

He closed the book after reading the last page, entranced by the contents of the book and thinking about all the ways capitalism was a failure as he looked over to the clock on his bedside table.

 

7:04

 

Fuck. Phil said dinner would be at seven. Oh god, he was late. He was late and Phil was gonna be so pissed and yell. Wilbur hated yelling. What was he even supposed to make for dinner? What were the rules? Phil hadn't brought up anything about cooking in the rules, and had lied about the fact that Wilbur would have to cook. What if it was a trial and error thing? Fuck, Wilbur was gonna mess up so much and-

 

Wilbur was cut off by a knock on the door. He scrambled to shove the book under the covers. He really didn't want Phil to find it. He sat there for a second, waiting for Phil to walk in. Wilbur was surprised he had even knocked, but he would stop soon enough. Nothing good ever lasted.

 

Wilbur sat there, staring at the door until another knock sounded. Was Phil waiting for something? Did he want Wilbur to open the door for him? That would be the polite thing to do, wouldn't it. This house was so strange.

 

He jumped off the bed, running to the door and swinging it open, staring at Phil with wide eyes. Phil's fist was raised to knock a third time but he lowered it slowly when Wilbur appeared. His face morphed into a smile which Wilbur wasn't sure was relieving or even scarier.

 

"Hey, Wilbur. Dinner's ready if you’d like. Do you want to come down and sit with me or stay up here?" Wilbur was so confused by that. No one had ever asked him that before. He had no idea what the right answer was. It could be seen as disrespectful to say no but it could be intruding and rude to force Phil to spend a meal with him.

 

His face showed clear panic but Phil waited, keeping a patient and encouraging expression on his face.

 

"I- I can come down, I guess." Oh god, what if that was the wrong thing to say. Did he fuck this up already? What if-

 

"Sounds perfect." Wilbur silently released the breath he had been holding when Phil turned to walk back down the stairs. He wasn't quite sure what Phil meant when he said 'dinners ready'. Maybe he meant the ingredients were ready?

 

He followed warily as Phil led him to the kitchen, where two plates of already cooked pasta were sitting on the table. Okay, that’s it. At this point, getting yelled at would be worth the chance of getting some fucking answers.

 

"Aren't I supposed to make the food?" Phil looked at him with a perplexed and slightly worried look.

 

"Why would you make the food?" Wasn't it obvious? God, Wilbur this didn't give him answers, it just gave him more questions.

 

"I always make the food." Wilbur hesitantly answered, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"And why are there two plates?" Wilbur hadn't meant to ask that, but once he had started asking questions, he couldn't stop. There was just so much about this house that he didn't know and he hated it.

 

"One for me, and one for you. Who else would there be?" Phil kept a gentle smile on his face as he spoke, his words having a playful edge but the concern his voice held was obvious. Wilbur's eyebrows furrowed.

"And I'm perfectly happy to make the food. I'm the adult here, I'm responsible for feeding you, not the other way around." Wilbur stood wide-eyed and stunned at his words. He stood in shock for a few seconds before responding.

 

"okay." Wilbur answered in a small and confused voice. It was clear that he didn't understand at all, but Phil wasn't going to pry. Wilbur would tell him when or if he ever wanted to.

 

Wilbur was grateful for Phil's silence. This conversation didn't fix anything, if anything it made all his thoughts more confusing. He really wanted to stop talking about it.

 

Phil walked over and sat behind one of the plates on the table, gesturing for Wilbur to sit behind the other. Wilbur complied, walking over and sitting opposite Phil with an amazing smell wafting from the pasta into his face once he was seated.

 

He sat there as Phil started eating, thinking about the book he was reading earlier until his thoughts were interrupted by Phil.

 

"You can eat, you know." Phil said it in such a kind voice, but all Wilbur heard was that he was being so disrespectful. Phil put all this effort into making food and even gave Wilbur some, then Wilbur just completely ignored it? How could he be so stupid to not realise how terrible he was being? He immediately started scarfing the food down, ignoring his stomachs protests as he ate more than he had eaten in the past two weeks combined.

 

Phil watched him in concern, wondering why he waited to be told to eat and why he was eating like he hadn't had proper food in months. He was slowly starting to realise how useless those courses he had to do were. They trained him to be a parent, but this kid looked like he hadn't been a kid in years.

 

It was strange, how quickly he was eating, given that his file said he was anorexic, but Phil was optimistic. He just assumed the file hadn't been updated in a while and he had gotten better at eating since then. It made sense, given how different he looked in the picture than he did now.

 

"So, I told you this morning we'll go shopping tomorrow. Since it's a weekday tomorrow it'll be a lot calmer than normal, so that's good. I just wanted to ask if there's anything you need to get? We'll get you clothes, things for your room, school supplies and things like that, but is there anything else specific that you need?" Wilbur shook his head in response. Phil hoped Wilbur would get more comfortable with him soon.

 

"Alright, well is there anything else you wanted to talk about? I'm sure you've got some questions for me." That was a fucking understatement. Wilbur had so many questions he thought his head might explode, but being in the foster system had taught him many unspoken rules, and one of the most important ones, was to never ask questions. He was just counting his blessings for getting away with it before. He really needs to work on keeping his mouth shut.

 

He shook his head, not wanting to annoy Phil with speaking. His voice was annoying. He had been told that many times before. If that many people say something, it has to be true.

 

"Alright, well if you think of anything, feel free to ask anytime." Wilbur knew Phil didn't really want him to ask. Why would anyone actually want Wilbur to talk to them?

 

Phil had noticed as dinner silently stretched on that Wilbur was looking paler and paler, but thought nothing of it. It was getting darker outside and Wilbur was facing a window, the lighting must be changing on his face.

 

After about 20 minutes of Phil trying to start conversations and Wilbur brushing them off with nods or single-word answers, Wilbur finally managed to finish his pasta, sitting in silence until Phil looked at him with a gentle smile and said he could leave whenever he wanted.

 

Wilbur didn't bother to think about how Phil didn't ask him to clean up after dinner or how nice Phil had been acting or how he hadn't snapped yet or how Wilbur didn't actually have to make dinner and actually got to eat it. He didn't feel well and he just wanted to lay down for a while. He could think about everything tomorrow, he was tired.

 


 

Once Phil had finished cleaning the kitchen, he sat on the couch for a bit, scrolling through Netflix. He wanted to go talk to Wilbur, but he knew he had to give the kid space to settle in. It was the first night and this kid had clearly been through quite a bit. Phil had to be patient.
 
As he found a show to watch, he heard the sounds of someone throwing up. His first thought was to panic because someone broke in. Then he remembered Wilbur and panicked more.
 
He jumped from his chair and ran up the stairs, finding the bathroom door flung open and Wilbur hunched over the toilet, emptying the contents of his stomach into the bowl. Phil walked in and kneeled next to the boy, hesitantly reaching out and gently placing a hand on his back, ignoring the slight flinch he received and rubbing slow, comforting circles on his back.
 
Phil found it slightly strange that the boy had changed into a long-sleeved pyjama shirt, but didn't really question it. Maybe he just didn't have anything short-sleeved.
 
Once Wilbur was done throwing up, he registered the hand on his back. He felt it before, but his mind was too caught up to process that the only person it could be is Phil, or some random serial killer who decided to climb through a second-floor window and comfort Wilbur as he puked, but that seemed unlikely.
 
Although, Phil comforting seemed nearly as unlikely as the other option. Why would Phil comfort him? In his old house, he literally tried to kill himself and all they did was sloppily bandage him and leave him alone. Why would someone comfort him for something as small as throwing up? Wilbur was the one who couldn't handle the food he was so graciously given, if anything, Phil should be mad.
 
It was only then that his hazy mind caught up with the fact that he had been speaking out loud. Shit.
 
"Mate, I'm comforting you because your sick and you need comfort and I'm here to help you, not hurt you or ignore you. I only want you to be happy. And this is not your fault, okay? You can't control your stomach and how it reacts to food. I should have been more aware of the fact that you have problems eating and been more careful about how much I gave you. I just want you to know, you never have to finish the food I give you. If it's ever too much, just leave it. That's fine, I won't be mad. I'm sorry, Wil. It's okay. Everything will get better. I'll make sure of it." Phil was pointedly ignoring the whole 'killing himself and family ignoring it' thing. That was something to talk about when Wilbur wasn't clearly exhausted and just done throwing up.
 
Wilbur didn't respond, just leaned against Phil as his mind got closer and closer to passing out. The nap he had in the car and the lovely rest he had on the bathroom floor of his old foster house in a pool of his own blood were doing nothing to stop the exhaustion from everything that had happened in the last few hours. Wilbur's body was dangerously close to shutting down.
 
Phil helped Wilbur stand and brush his teeth as the kid leaned against him, eyes flittering as if he was fighting his body to stay awake. He probably was. Phil waited for the kid to spit and rinse his mouth out a couple times before slowly walking him to bed and tucking him in, whispering a soft 'goodnight' as he switched the light off and closed the door.
 
He walked off to his room, knowing that with what Wilbur had just told him, he wouldn't be getting any sleep.
 
That kid had been through so much worse than he thought.

Chapter Text

The sunlight peeked through the curtains, light breaking through the darkness of the room. Wilbur groaned as his eyes fluttered open, the bed he was in being comfortable and warm.

 

He let himself bask in the happiness and serenity that was waking slowly until his mind caught up with his body and he remembered that this was not  his  room. This was temporary and he couldn't get used to it.

 

Wait-

 

Why was he waking up like this? Why was he not waking to screaming or fighting?

 

Oh .

 

Last night happened. Phil must hate him so much. How on earth did Wilbur manage to fuck up this fast? It hadn't even been 24 hours. That has to be a fucking record.

 

He rolled around in bed uncomfortably, the warmth and comfort from earlier becoming suffocating. He thought over exactly what happened last night. He not only threw up the food that Phil  made for him,  but also managed to run his loud fucking mouth about his old placement, trying to kill himself, and confessing his  real thoughts  about this placement and how Phil 'should' be acting. (He doesn't, unfortunately, remember leaning on Phil as the man helped him brush his teeth then carry him to bed to gently tuck him in)

 

God, he was fucked. He would be lucky if he wasn't sent packing the second Phil sees his face. He pulled himself out of bed, getting ready by changing into the one other outfit that he owns and brushing his teeth, not particularly enjoying the memories that come with the bathroom.

 

Once he was finally ready, he forced himself to slowly trudge down the stairs, dreading the fate that awaited him at the bottom. He looked up at Phil, eyes locking with one another. Phil sat at the table with a soft expression as Wilbur stood at the foot of the stairs, eyes wide as he tried to guess the type of punishment he would be receiving.

 

"Good morning, Wilbur. Would you like some breakfast?" Wilbur's eyes shot wider at the question. Wilbur threw up Phil's food last night, the ultimate form of ingratitude, and Phil was still giving him more? What the fuck?

 

Wilbur walked over to the table, sitting opposite Phil with a cautious expression. Phil's smile turned from warm to knowing. He pushed a half-full bowl of cereal towards the other.

 

"B-but I- I threw up your food last night." Wilbur said unsurely. He didn't know what Phil wanted him to do and it scared him.

 

"I know, and that's okay. I should have been more aware of how much food you can handle and I'm sorry for that. But it's in the past now and we can try this again properly. We'll start small, and as time goes on your stomach will be able to handle more. So how about you try and have 2 spoons of cereal, yea? Think you can do that? Then we'll go shopping. How's that sound?" Wilbur stared in shock. Not only was Phil saying he was a fault for last night, but also actually trying to help him get better rather than just yelling.

 

Wilbur didn't know how to react, so he just sat there and stared for a few seconds before snapping himself out of his trance. Phil was being so nice to him, the least Wilbur could do was comply with the one thing Phil had asked of him. He quickly ate two spoons of cereal, cringing at the feeling of food filling his stomach. He hated knowing that there was food in his stomach right now, probably turning to fat right now, but if it meant avoiding Phil getting mad, he would have to deal with it.

 

When Wilbur looked up, Phil was beaming at him. He didn't know why, but seeing Phil so happy made him want to smile back. It was really weird. Why did he want to reciprocate this guys emotions? And why was he so happy about Wilbur eating two bites of cereal? Seriously, what the fuck. This house was, by far, the most confusing house he had ever been in.

 

"So, I was thinking we go shopping today if that's alright with you? If not, that's fine, we can do it another day, but I'd love to get you clothes, stuff for your room, school supplies, etcetera." Wilbur was honestly sure he was kidding when he brought that up yesterday. He actually wanted to spend money on Wilbur? Fucking hell, this guy was impossible to understand.

 

Wilbur slowly nodded. Who was he to tell Phil what to do? If the guy wanted to buy Wilbur stuff, as weird as that was, Wilbur had no right to say no.

 

"Perfect. We'll head out around 10, alright?" Another nod.

 

Wilbur was truly dreading shopping. Phil spending money on him only meant that Wilbur would have to make a million decisions. Wilbur always hated making decisions, he was always scared he would make the wrong choice. It was even worse here, this guy was impossible to predict. At least in other houses, they were consistent in their anger. Phil was strange and different and Wilbur had no clue what he was going to say or do next. He had no idea when he would finally snap.

 

Today was gonna fucking suck.

 


 

  Wilbur was right. Today fucking sucked.

 

They hadn't even done anything yet, but Wilbur had to sit through a super awkward car ride or Phil trying to start conversations and Wilbur trying to be polite while also trying to get Phil to shut up, and had to deal with following Phil around with heaps of other people around him in a public place.

 

Phil said it was 'quiet' today, and Wilbur had never seen a mall, so he had nothing to base it off of, but he called bullshit. There was no way this was quiet. If this was quiet, he never wanted to see crowded.

 

They had arrived at a random store a while ago, Phil saying this was the best place to find everything and had been walking around with a shopping cart since then. Wilbur kept his eyes glued to the ground, he didn't want Phil thinking he wanted anything here. That would be so ungrateful. Phil had already given him so much, how dare he want more?

 

Phil kept asking if he wanted anything, but he always replied with 'I'm fine', or something along those lines. Every time he said that, Phil would put the item in the cart anyway. He was just focused on making sure he wasn't annoying Phil, he didn't want to be yelled at in a shop.

 

They walked through every aisle, Phil often grabbing things and putting them in the cart. Wilbur had succeeded in keeping his head down the whole time, until now. They walked through the kids' aisle, he was sure Phil was walking slower, like he wanted Wilbur to notice and pick something around them.

 

It worked. Wilbur looked up, just for a second and locked eyes with a super cute plushie of a blue sheep. It looked so fluffy and cuddly and all Wilbur wanted to do was squeeze it tight until the end of time. He must have been staring for a while as an arm, that he identified as Phil, entered his vision and grabbed the blue plushie off the shelf, placing it in the cart and smiling at Wilbur.

 

Wilbur was so embarrassed. He was making Phil spend money on a kids toy. He wasn't a kid. He was mature. He didn't need plushies.

 

Although it did look really soft. And Wilbur did really want to hug it. And Wilbur hadn't had a plushie in so long and he really used to love them as a kid. Maybe, if Phil was gonna buy it anyway, he could enjoy it. Phil hadn't said anything to make fun of him for wanting a kids toy, maybe it would be fine. Having a friend would be nice. That's what he would name it.  Friend.  Perfect.

 

As they walked, Wilbur couldn't help but think about how nice Phil was being. This must be one hell of a honeymoon period for Phil to buy him so many clothes and decorative things and school stuff. He even bought Wilbur a plushie without even hesitating or making fun of Wilbur at all. Wilbur didn't know why he was being so nice, and he hated the awful feeling of knowing Phil would break at some point in the near future, but not knowing when, but beyond that, he was enjoying the comfort and the smiles and the happy aura Phil had.

 

He wished this could be forever. He knew it wouldn't be. The thought made him frown.

 

Maybe it could be forever. Or, not forever, but Wilbur could let himself think that it would've been forever if he left before Phil could break. He could run away. Then he would have a foster home where nothing bad happened. Where everything was happy and fine for the whole time he stayed. Sure, he would go back to the yelling and the anger and the starving, but that was gonna happen here soon anyway, he might as well leave before it starts.

 

It was settled. He was leaving. Wilbur was going to run away.

 

This shopping gave him the perfect opportunity to, as well. He never got the chance to look at the outside of the house when he first arrived, but now he could. He would pack his bag when Phil was asleep and run in the night. No one would be awake until around six, so if he left at midnight then he would have six whole hours to get as far as he could. He could get pretty far in six hours.

 

They shopped for another two hours, Phil getting them lunch in the food court, getting Wilbur a small fries and asking him to just eat a few chips. He did, and he was really starting to like the beaming smiles Phil gave him after he ate. It almost made him forget about the burning weight of calories being absorbed into his skin.

 

On the once again awkward car ride home, Wilbur spent the whole time planning. He was gonna leave tonight. Everything would go perfect. His plan was mostly fool-proof.

 

Wilbur kind of didn't want to leave, but he knew this was for the best. He would miss Phil. He knew Phil wouldn't miss him back.

 


   

Wilbur paced his room as he thought over everything.

 

There were no security cameras that he could see, his window opens on the roof above the garage and the wall of the garage was lattice so he could easily climb down it. He would grab some food once Phil went to sleep and he had a water bottle from school supplies shopping in the bag.

 

He checked the floor for creaks after coming back from shopping and going to and from dinner and he knew to avoid the 1st, 4th, and 6th stairs. The floors were all fine as far as he could tell. He would have to be careful just in case.

 

Everything would work perfectly. It had to. This was Wilbur's only chance at having a happy house in his past. That thought made this worth it.

 

He sat against the wall next to the door, staying silent as he could and waiting for the sounds of the TV turning off and Phil walking to his room. He heard the sounds of  The Office  stopping and footsteps as they got louder and louder until they were perfectly underneath Wilbur, then softer as they walked away towards Phil's room.

 

He waited 5 more minutes to make sure Phil was asleep and slowly got up, making sure to be as silent as possible. He opened his door slowly, stopping at the point where he knew it started to creak and slipped out. He tiptoed down the stairs and to the kitchen. He knew he wouldn't eat a lot, but he didn't want to starve to death so he opened the pantry and grabbed two boxes of granola bars. Those were good for energy, right?

 

Just as he was about to go back upstairs, he heard Phil's bedroom door open. What? No, he had a plan, it was perfect. This wasn't supposed to happen. The footsteps got closer and Wilbur quickly ran to the corner of the room, hiding in a ball on the floor between the wall, counter and pot plant.

 

He listened as Phil slowly walked in, clearly not properly awake yet. The shuffling stopped and a cabinet door opened. The tap turned on. He was getting water. The tap turned back off and the footsteps receded, the door closing behind them.

 

Wilbur let out a breath and silently got out of his shitty hiding spot. If Phil hadn't have just woken up, he would've been fucked. He slipped back up the stairs and into his room, closing the door behind him and stashing the boxes in his bag along with his water bottle, one outfit, pyjamas, razors, jacket, his file and Friend. Literally everything he owned.

 

He looked at the clock on the wall.  12:00.  Time to go.

 

He walked over to the window and opened it slowly, cringing at the slight creak it made. He looked around his room once more and noticed a lump under the covers. He was confused for a second before he realised what it was. He ran over to the bed and pulled back the covers, grabbing  The Communist Manifesto  and stuffing it in his bag, next to his file.

 

He looked around the room once more and, deeming everything ready, put both straps of the backpack on his shoulders and climbed out the window, slowly walking along the roof tiles of the garage. He reached the end and turned around, climbing down the lattice wall and stabilising himself as his feet hit the ground.

 

He kept himself pressed against the lattice as he walked, trying to stay as far out of view from Phil's bedroom window as possible. Once he reached the end of the garage wall, he walked over the cement driveway onto the path. He turned around and looked at the house behind him. He smiled. He was glad he would have only good memories of a place for once in his life.

 

He turned back to the path, and he ran.

Chapter Text

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.
 


Sam.

 

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.

 


 

tap

 

tap

 

tap

 

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.

 

Right?

 

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?

 

"…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.

Chapter Text

Wilbur woke up to the sound of dishes clanging in the kitchen below him. He looked at his phone that was plugged in on the mini table beside his bed.

 

7:14 am Monday, 4 May

 

It had been 10 days since he had tried to run away. His ankle was feeling a lot better and everything was still fine with Phil. No yelling or insults. Nothing. Just kindness, patience and care. Wilbur wasn't sure what to think anymore. Though that wasn't relevant right now.

 

What was important, was that it had been two weeks since he arrived at Phil's and that today was a Monday. Today was his first day of school. He was honestly kind of grateful to have a reason to leave the house, he hadn't left in nearly a fortnight, but school for him had always sucked.

 

It wasn't that he didn’t know the work, he actually quite liked learning, it was a pleasant escape from reality, but the kids were always awful. They always ignored him until it inevitably got out that he was a foster kid, then they bullied him relentlessly. Then he got good grades because homework was the most interesting hobby he was allowed, and they would bully him more.

 

Suffice to say, Wilbur wasn't excited.

 

He forced himself out of bed and got changed into a white t-shirt and black jeans. He hesitated before slipping his oversized yellow sweater over his head. He knew he would be teased for its size and wear, but he didn’t care. This sweater, as silly as it sounded, brought him comfort. He desperately needed that today, even if it made everything slightly worse.

 

He hesitated before opening the door but forced his hand to wrap around the handle and turn it, pulling the door open. He went to the bathroom to brush his teeth and looked in the mirror as he did. His sweater was old and worn but looked much brighter after Phil had finally convinced Wilbur to let him wash it a couple days ago.

 

His backpack was slung over his shoulder, a new one that Phil had bought him. It was still yellow, but much nicer and had way more pockets. In it was the mass of notebooks and stationery Phil had bought as well. Wilbur still felt bad for Phil spending that much money on him, but Phil had stated that it was fine enough times that Phil had given up on talking about it. He still felt bad, though.

 

He mussed his hair slightly before walking down the stairs, feeling more refreshed than he had in years before living with Phil. His emotions were all over the place and he was nervous as hell, but at least he felt clean and nice.

 

He met Phil at the dining table, the routine of a distrustful gaze being met with a warm smile becoming uncomfortably familiar. Wilbur sat at the table, hiding his smile at Phil's proud face when Wilbur finished his third bite of omelette. The look didn’t falter as Wilbur placed the fork back on the plate and pushed it away from himself, indicating that he was done.

 

Wilbur always got scared in moments like these. Scared that he didn’t eat enough, that Phil would get upset at him for eating less than he was given. He had always been taught to never ask for anything and be grateful for what you're given. When you get food, eat it. Phil didn’t seem to go along with that. The confusion had stopped surprising him a while ago.

 

A few minutes of silence later, Phil spoke up.

 

"You ready for school today, mate?" Wilbur nodded in response, not really knowing how to respond otherwise, not that he would anyway. He avoided speaking whenever he could. His voice was annoying. He knew that.

 

"Good." He paused for a few seconds, seemingly contemplating his next words.

"I know you must be really nervous, but it'll be fine. The kids around here are quite nice and I've spoken to the teachers, so you won't have to do any really difficult work for the first couple weeks while you settle in and learn the topics. Everything will be fine and if it's not, you can always call me. I'll come if you need me. Your happiness comes before your education."

 

Wilbur thought over his words. None of his old foster parents had ever contacted the teachers beforehand to help him transition schools. Wilbur was really glad Phil did, coming into a new school in the middle of term is always a nightmare. He didn’t believe Phil at all with the 'nice kids' thing. Adults never see the mean sides to kids. The mean kids are always the biggest suck-ups.

 

"You ready to head off?" Wilbur nodded, but Phil was used to his lack of response by now. He knew Wilbur was paying attention, he just didn’t feel comfortable enough to speak casually yet, and Phil respected that.

 

Wilbur followed him as he grabbed his keys and walked out to the car. He hopped in the driver's seat and watched in the mirror as Wilbur placed his backpack in the car carefully then seated himself beside it.

 

Sometimes Phil just watched as Wilbur did something random and smiled at how much he already loved this kid. He knew it would be a long, hard journey, but the destination will be so fucking worth it.

 


 

The car ride had been awkward at best, but Wilbur hadn't wanted it to end for the sole reason of what was coming afterwards. He opened his car door and grabbed his backpack, unsure if he should be relieved or upset that the car ride was over. He noticed Phil getting out with his and got confused. Why would Phil be getting out?

 

His question was answered as Phil spoke.


 
"I'll take you to the front office so you don’t get lost. There's a kid waiting there for you who's been assigned to show you around. Your schedules are the same so they'll take you to all your classes as well." Phil smiled as he walked off and it took Wilbur a few seconds before he realised that he was supposed to be following and jumped to catch up.


 
He followed as Phil walked in a straight line to the building labelled 'administration' in block letters above the door. Wilbur wasn't really sure why he needed help getting to this place, but he appreciated that Phil's presence helped him avoid the kids swarming the front doors.


 
When he walked into the room, he saw Phil walk up to the receptionist and say his name, the woman immediately understanding and gesturing for Wilbur to come over.


 
Phil gave him a wave and wished him luck as he left Wilbur alone. The lack of Phil's presence made all his nervous and negative emotions stronger. He hated how dependant he was becoming. He hadn’t known this guy for more than two weeks and he was already comforted by his presence. It scared him.


 
The receptionist's kind voice pulled him from his thoughts.


 
"Hi there, My name's Hannah. I'm always here if you ever need anything, like directions or questions about anything." Two pieces of paper were placed in his hands.
"These are your schedule and a map of the school. If you ever lose them, just come down here and I'll print you another one, alright?" Wilbur nodded in understanding. He liked this receptionist, she seemed nice.
"Wonderful. Now, This-" She held an arm out and a kid Wilbur's age walked over. "-is Schlatt. He'll be showing you around for the next week. You and him have the same schedules so he can take you to each of your classes. I think you boys will be good friends" She smiled and walked back to her chair and Schlatt turned to Wilbur.


 
"Hey. Uh- we've got geography first, so…" He nodded his head in the direction of the door before walking out, Wilbur following quickly behind. Wilbur was glad that conversation had taken long enough for first period to begin, as the halls were empty as they walked, making Wilbur feel a little more comfortable.


 
"So, why'd you move here?" Schlatt seemed to be really trying to be his friend, so Wilbur decided to humour him with more than one word for a reply.


 
"My …dad moves a lot for his work." It was a blatant lie, but the word 'dad' felt so foreign coming from his mouth. Even if it wasn't Phil he was talking about, it still felt weird to say it.


 
"Oh, cool. So you see a lotta places then?" Schlatt seemed a lot more interested in Wilbur's answer here. Wilbur didn’t really want to brush him off.


 
"Yea, I guess. Had a lot of different houses, too. Moving fucking sucks." That one wasn't a lie. He was kinda glad to be able to talk about this, even if it was under false pretences.


 
"I've always been here. My mum owns a music store here so we can't really leave, but I don't mind. This place is nice." Wilbur was starting to like this guy. He seemed genuinely nice.
"Here's the classroom. We have Mr Halo for geography. He's really nice. You'll like him, everyone does."


 
Schlatt pushed open the classroom door, Wilbur following and tensing at the number of eyes focused on him at that moment.


 
"Hi Schlatt, and you must be Wilbur! I'm Mr Halo, lovely to meet you. We were just starting the class, you guys didn't miss anything. Feel free to take a seat." Mr Halo gave both boys a kind smile before turning to the PowerPoint presentation and going back to teaching his lesson."


 
"Okay. So, today we're learning about capitals. Now, does anyone know the capital of the UK?" Most of the kids in the class answered 'London' in sync.


 
"How about the capital of the Czech Republic?" It was obviously said as a joke, Mr Halo wasn't expecting any of these 10 and 11-year-old's to even know the Czech Republic was a country, let alone know its capital off the top of their head. One student, however, didn’t seem to realise.


 
"Prague." Was heard in a soft voice from Wilbur's table.


 
"What was that, Wilbur?" Wilbur knew answering wouldn't have positive outcomes later, but for some reason, he kept talking.


 
"Prague. Population of 1.3 million, known for its stunning architecture and historic buildings going back as far 920 ad. During World War Two, Hitler planned to build a large museum in Prague, so the city was left mostly untouched by the heavy bombing Hitler enacted on many other European cities, meaning there are still many buildings left there that have survived many centuries." Wilbur had turned increasingly red during his speech, clearly not enjoying the attention suddenly brought on him but seemed to love talking about geography enough to keep going.


 
Mr Halo looked at him in awe. A wide smile formed on his face as he addressed the heavily embarrassed student.


 
"Very good, Wilbur. You seem to know a lot about Prague." Mr Halo was ecstatic that one of his students was as passionate about the subject as him. He already knew he would really enjoy teaching Wilbur. The boy in question shrugged.


 
"I like geography." Mr Halo's smile widened.
 


"I'm glad. Now looking at this map…" My Halo continued with his lesson as normal, but Schlatt wasn't going to let it go that easily. He leaned over to whisper to Wilbur.


 
"Dude, you're fucking smart as hell." He stated in awe, clearly impressed by his newfound friend's knowledge.


 
 "Like I said, I like geography." Schlatt smiled in amusement at Wilbur's embarrassed response and turned back to his work, continuing as if nothing had happened. Wilbur was surprised that he hadn’t teased him about it, but he was sure that would come later.


 
He would never admit it out loud, but having people actually being impressed by his intelligence instead of making fun of it really made him happy. He couldn't hold back the smile on his face as he finished the worksheets on his desk before Mr Halo had even finished explaining them. Wilbur forgot how much he enjoyed classes.


 
He knows this high will be long gone by the time kids come to bully him for his outburst at lunch, but for now, at least during classes, he's content.

 


 

As the bell rung, signifying the end of the math lesson, a hand, which Wilbur identified to be Schlatt's, grabbed his arm and yanked him behind as Schlatt ran through the hallway, down two flights of stairs, another hallway, and then, finally, the cafeteria. Schlatt only let go of his arm as they reached a table with another kid sitting there. Schlatt sat down and gestured for Wilbur to do the same.
 


"Wilbur, Eret. Eret, Wilbur. This is the kid that was super smart in geography this morning." A look of confusion before crossed Eret's face before being replaced with recognition.

 
"That was you? Oh, dude that was so cool, like how did you know all that?" Wilbur just shrugged, but Eret was undeterred.
"Oh, we should exchange numbers so we can text when we get home." Wilbur visibly cringed at the word home but pushed the look off his face as soon as it appeared. He didn't know if he was allowed to text friends (were they friends?) on his phone, Phil had only said it was to text him, not that he couldn't text friends. Wilbur figured it was worth the risk.

 

"Sure." He opened his phone onto the contacts app and handed it to Schlatt who put in his number and gave it to Eret who did the same before returning it to Wilbur again. Wilbur looked at the numbers in his phone for a second and smiled before turning it off and putting it back in his pocket.

 

 
"Oh, hey you've got to come see my mum's bakery some time!" Eret exclaimed, clearly excited at the thought.


 
"And come see my mum's music store. I can't wait for holidays so we can hang out a bunch without any school."


 
"Ugh, same."


 
Wilbur doesn’t think he'll find himself dreading school again for a while.

Chapter Text

22 days.

 

Wilbur has been living with Phil for 22 days and nothing has happened. He should be taking advantage of this for his own gain, using Phil as much as he can before he inevitably breaks and Wilbur can never get anything from him again.

 

Yet he hasn't been doing that. In fact, he's been basically ignoring him. He comes down for meals and says a few words in the car rides to and from school but, apart from that, they don't interact.

 

Wilbur knows that acting like this is what gets you yelled at, or worse, but every time he sees Phil his thoughts start moving so quickly that he can't comprehend them and he gets a headache every time he even attempts to predict what Phil's going to do next.

 

It's scary as hell.

 

At least he has one place of emotional calm, that being school. Classes keep his mind occupied on something that he actually understands and Schlatt and Eret make him so happy, he doesn't think it's physically possible not to smile when he's around them. No matter how down he looks or feels, they cheer him up instantly.

 

He doesn't know what his life would be like without them. Which brings him to right now. Sitting on the floor of the bathroom that was basically his, given that Phil had his own downstairs, shaking as tears rolled down his cheeks.

 

His alarm clock hadn't gone off this morning, for whatever reason, so Phil had woken him up about ten minutes later. The lateness wasn't a problem, it was the fact that Phil initiating his morning like this meant he was in for so much more interaction with Phil than normal.

 

Phil had talked to him much more over breakfast and in the car this morning, as Wilbur had apprehensively expected. Then school was awful as well.

 

First period was gym, his least favourite, though the coach was alright, but the coach had been sick and the replacement was a fucking drill sergeant who had the entire class running countless laps of the court. Once they finished and their legs were dangerously close to collapsing beneath them, he made them do  way  too many push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. His entire body felt like one of those fucking string cheese stick things.

 

The worst part, though, by far, was that Schlatt wasn't there. He optimistically (since when was he fucking optimistic?) played it off as Schlatt sleeping in, or skipping gym, but he wasn't there for the next three classes either.

 

When lunch came around, Wilbur was so fucking done with the day, completely ready for Eret to brighten his day, like always, but when he looked around the disturbingly crowded room, Eret wasn't at their usual table, or anywhere else for that matter.

 

What are the fucking chances that the first day Schlatt is home, Eret's home too. A harsh voice in his head whispered that he didn’t have a home, and his mood dropped even further.

 

A small part of him wondered if they really were home sick, or if they were just avoiding him. Everyone else left him, he wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to as well. He would be heartbroken if that happened, but he was used to it. (He ignored the fact that them leaving would hurt so much worse than anyone else before)

 

His day only seemed to get worse as Phil picked him up and was in an extra cheery mood. Normally Phil's good mood and happy attitude would (unwillingly) cheer him up, if only slightly, but today it just reminded him of everything he had and didn't deserve, forcing him lower into his seat with every word he heard the other speak.

 

So here he sat, tears drenching his face, thinking of all the things in his life he didn't deserve. Schlatt, Eret, Food, Shelter, Kindness, Phil. Everything he could think of he listed why he didn't deserve it.

 

He lifted his face from his hands and stared at the floor in front of him where he had placed one of his razors. He looked at it for a second then hastily reached out to grab it, like a drug addict a week into withdrawal and pulled it to his wrist instantly, face blank as he slid the knife through his skin.

 

One for Schlatt's sense of humour.

 

One for Eret's patience and understanding.

 

One for the amount of money Phil wasted on him.

 

One for all the food he wasted by leaving it.

 

One for all the food he did eat.

 

One for taking up space in Phil's house that could go to someone much more deserving.

 

One for Phil.

 

Another for Phil.

 

And another for Phil.

 

His wrists were littered in cuts and covered in blood by the time his self-hatred had satiated, but he didn't have the energy to wash himself or clean the blood just yet, so he sat, legs crossed and back and head pressed against the cold, tiled wall as tears fell from his blank, emotionless face.

 

His eyes began to slip shut but were torn open by a knocking on the door. Fuck.

 

"Wil? You alright in there?" He didn't know how to answer, it was like the words were caught in his throat, unable the speak. The longer the silence stretched, the more violently he shook as he tried with everything in him to predict what was about to happen. He shook harder.

 

"Wil, if you don't answer in the next 5 seconds I'm gonna come in."

 

5

 

4

 

3

 

2

 

1

 

The sound of a key slotting into the lock made Wilbur shake even harder, petrified as he couldn't think of a single possibility of the outcomes of this. He was sure that knowing he was about to be murdered would be better than having to sit here unsure of what the next second of his life would entail.

 

The lock clicked at it unlocked and the handle creaked as Phil gently opened the door, swinging it open much faster than before as he caught sight of the boy in front of him. Wilbur tried to read his face and couldn’t find a single emotion as his breath quickened and everything around him became even more blurry than the tears were already causing.

 

"Hey, Wilbur, you're okay, everything's gonna be just fine, okay?" Wilbur didn't have the energy to be confused anymore.

 

"Wil, can I touch you?" He didn’t even process the question before he felt his head moving slowly up and down. He didn't know why he said yes, and if he had hesitated and thought it through, he would've said no, but he couldn't find it in himself to care as he felt two warm arms immediately embrace him and hold him gently as a soft tune filled the sombre air.

 

He let himself fall asleep to the gentle tune as he relaxed into the soft arms and drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

 


 

Phil was having a great day. Wilbur and him hadn't spoken much recently, but that was to be expected, this was a huge change he was going through and he shouldn't be expected to fully adjust after only 3 weeks especially considering how awful his past must've been, based on how he acted in general, and especially around food.

 

Regardless, he was having a great day. He and Wilbur had spoken more than usual this morning (even if it was really only Phil talking) and he had finished all his projects for the week today, so he barely had any work to do tomorrow or the next day.

 

He walked out to the living room to put on a random show to fill the time before dinner. He was only half paying attention to the TV, but the relaxed haze of his mind was shattered as he heard soft sobbing from upstairs. He hoped he had misheard, so he turned off the TV and the sobbing got louder with nothing overpowering it. That was definitely sobbing.

 

He stood up instantly and looked up the stairs. Wilbur bathroom door was shut, meaning he was in there as he always left the door open if he wasn't there. Phil quickly walked over to the cabinet that held the bathroom keys and grabbed them before going up the stairs as quick as he could.

 

Once he reached the door he knocked, hoping that Wilbur would come and open the door for himself, showing Phil that he was fine. What he got instead, was no reply at all. Not even a hum of acknowledgement. The only thing that happened was a sharp intake of breath as the sobbing came to a complete halt. Phil wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.

 

"Wil? You alright in there?" He called out, hoping that Wilbur just hadn't heard the knocking properly and didn't want to answer and end up talking to himself. Still no reply. He was really starting to get worried.

 

"Wil, if you don't answer in the next 5 seconds I'm gonna come in." He kept his tone as gentle and kind as possible, not wanting the sentence to seem like a hostile threat, more a gesture of concern and worry.

 

5

 

4

 

3

 

2

 

1

 

He held the key to the lock and slid it in, much faster and clumsier than usual and turned the handle. He was conscious enough beyond his worry to know that swinging the door open too quickly would startle him, so he gently opened the door and peered into the room.

 

The sight that caught his eye made him throw all caution out the window and swing the door open faster than he had ever opened a door before in his life and speedily position himself kneeling next to the sobbing boy. He was shaking violently and tears were rapidly falling down his face but his face was almost blank. It made Phil's heart shatter.

 

Wilbur seemed to freak out at the sight of him, breathe speeding up and shaking getting somehow worse.

 

"Hey, Wilbur, you're okay, everything's gonna be just fine, okay?" He barely reacted at all. Phil wasn't even sure if he heard him or not.

 

"Wil, can I touch you?" His head instantly bobbed up and down slowly. Phil wasn't expecting an answer, but he was eternally grateful he got one. He didn't know what he would do if Wilbur became unresponsive.

 

He wrapped his arms carefully around the breaking boy and began soothingly humming Kristin's favourite song. He knelt there, humming the soft tune as the shaking stopped and his breathing evened out before pulling back and grabbing a cloth from beside the sink and soaking it with warm water before kneeling back down and gently cleaning the blood off his arms.

 

He grabbed the first aid kit from under the sink and bandaged his arms before carrying Wilbur to bed and going downstairs to his own bed and sobbing as he let the situation sink in.

 

Chapter Text

Darkness.

 

Pain.

 

Fear.

 

Loneliness.

 

He didn't want it to be dark, painful, scary or lonely, though all he could fix was the darkness, so he opened his eyes.

 

He looked around the room he lay in. Peeling paint covering hole-filled walls, scratchy, stained carpeted floors, squeaky metal bedframe and hard mattress covered in a thin blanket and a pillow almost as flat as the mattress. 

 

Why was he back here?

 

Part of him was telling him to be sad, scared, confused. Phil was so kind and he should be upset to lose him and go back to a place of such suffering. 

 

The other, louder part of him told him to be grateful. These people snapped a long time ago. They were predictable and known. He could deal with anything if he knew it was coming. He had no clue what to expect with Phil.

 

He tried to push himself in a seated position, but the second he put weight into his wrists, they both hurt like hell. He tried to scream but no sound come out. He looked down at his wrists and noticed the bandages. Oh. He remembers this memory.

 

He looked around the room for the comfort he had grown so used to, only to remember that he didn't have Friend or The Communist Manifesto here. They were at Phil's. He suddenly felt a lot more alone.

 

The door opened fast, his foster father walking in. He flinched. He'd gotten too used to Phil's knocking.

 

He knew what was going to happen next. Even when he lived through this the first time he knew exactly what was going to happen. These foster parents were predictable. 

 

The onslaught of yelling began and Wilbur shrunk in on himself. Just because he knew what was going to happen didn't mean he knew how to deal with it. He just sat there as mean and cruel words were shouted at him.

 

It was fine. Everything he was saying was true anyway.

 

He recited the words in his head along with his foster father, knowing them by heart. He played them over and over in his head all the time, he knew them well by now.

 

He got to the final word and expected his foster father to stop. He was supposed to stop. He stopped last time. And the time before. Why wasn't he predictable anymore?

 

"waste of space"

 

"pathetic"

 

"worthless"

 

"attention-seeking"

 

"mistake"

 

The words echoed in his head as tears streamed down his face. He shook so hard he felt like a toddler hopped up on sugar. Tears fell harder as he stared wide-eyed at the figure looming over his body, screaming at him. 

 

Everything he was saying was true. It had to be. Why would he have been through this before if it wasn't the truth? He deserved this. He had to. Otherwise, what was the point?

 

A final scream burst through his ears, hands grabbing his wrists and pain shooting through his body, blood started rapidly staining the sheets. He shouldn't be bleeding this much. What was happening, this wasn't predictable.

 

He looked down at himself and noticed he was covered in cuts and blood was pouring everywhere. 

 

He deserved this. 

 


 

He shot up, eyes flying open as the blankets flung off his shoulders and setting around his waist.

 

He looked down at himself immediately, taking in the lack of cuts and blood with relief. At least he wasn't dying. His body was covered in phantom pains that only succeeded in adding to the ache already in both of his wrists.

 

His wrists.

 

He looked down at his wrists, reassured in some way at the lack of blood seeping through. This wasn't like last time. He was fine. He wanted to reassure himself that no one would yell at him for this tomorrow, but he knew no amount of delusion could convince him of that.

 

He reached up, using the bandages to soak up the tears that were falling from his face and giving himself a minute to calm his breathing. He really didn’t want to wake Phil. If he was tired enough not to yell at Wilbur tonight, waking him up would only make it worse.

 

He thought over his nightmare, back to that house. It was so different to the one he was at now. He didn't know if he liked it or not. It seemed like an obvious choice, yelling and crying or cheeriness and comfort, but there was so much here left to the unknown.

 

He didn't know when Phil was going to finally snap, or when the school kids would find out about him being a foster kid and make his school life a living hell, he didn’t know when Schlatt and Eret would get bored of him. He was starting to question if having the deal with all those questions was worth the cheeriness and comfort.

 

He gave up on his ultimately fruitless endeavour of trying to figure out all his problems at once as he lay his head back on the pillow and closed his eyes to go back to sleep.

 

After ten minutes of tossing and turning, he eventually gave up and flicked his nightlight on, grabbing the  Communist Manifesto  and flicking back to page one for the hundredth time.

 

Maybe he should try reading something else that wasn't about Russian political ideologies from over a century ago…

 

Nah, he's fine for now. It makes him smile, and really that's all he wants right now.

 


 

Phil woke up at 6am sharp every morning. He just did. Often he didn’t even need his alarm, his body just woke him up at the right time. That was not the case today, given that he never fell asleep.

 

He spent the entire night laying in bed thinking for 10 hours, only about one topic. Pretty difficult feat, but he managed. He was not happy about the accomplishment.

 

He lay in bed for 30 minutes more before getting up to go wake Wilbur. They needed to talk.

 

He knocked on the door to Wilbur's room, really out of habit more than anything, but to his surprise, a soft 'come in' was heard.

 

"Hey, Wil. How're you feeling?" Phil asked in a sympathetic voice as he entered the room. Wilbur isn't sure why he can't sense any pity, but whatever.

 

"Alright." He replied with a shrug. Phil smiled.

 

"Mind if I sit?" He asked, gesturing to the bed.

 

"Your house, do what you want." Wilbur shrugged again.

 

'It's your room, though." Wilbur was confused by that answer but accepted it nonetheless. Phil takes a seat on the edge of the bed.

 

"So, I was thinking, and you can say no, how would you feel about therapy? You can say no if you’d like but-" Phil was cut off by a small and excited voice.

 

"I can go to therapy?" Phil looked over at him and saw excitement shine in his eyes. Maybe this conversation would be easier than he thought.

 

"If you’d like." Before Phil could explain any more he was cut off once again by a youthful, happy voice.

 

"Yes. I would love to. Thank you so much, Phil." Phil doesn't think he's ever seen someone so excited for therapy before. Was he missing something here?

 

"Do you know what therapy is?" Wilbur nodded his head quickly.

 

"An old foster sibling told me about it. He said it's where you talk about your feelings with someone and they don't tell anyone else anything or judge you no matter what. It sounds awesome!" Phil smiled at the childlike innocence that shone through his eyes. Even if it was due to the fact that he was excited over finally being allowed an emotional outlet. Small victories.

 

"Okay, I'll set you up an appointment with Puffy asap. Just know, Wilbur, that if you don’t like it, I'm not forcing you to do it. You can stop if you want, we can find a different emotional outlet for you if you need. This is all about finding what helps you the best, alright?" Wilbur nodded in response, clearly holding back a smile, but Phil wasn't about to call him out for it.

"Also, I wanted to ask about your medication. Sam said your old foster parents bought you enough to last for a few weeks, so it should be running low soon. D'ya need me to get more?" Wilbur looked at him in surprise.

 

"What medicine?" He asked. Phil could tell he sounded genuinely confused, so he replied.

 

"The Prozac you're prescribed to take daily?" Wilbur still looked confused.

 

"I've never been prescribed any medication." Phil furrowed his brows. Wilbur recognised that as a look of concern, not anger.

 

"You got diagnosed with depression 3 years ago and should have been on medications since." Wilbur looked more confused before a look of understanding crossed his face.

 

"3 years ago I was with Mrs Norril. She didn’t believe in mental illness so if she got a prescription or a diagnosis for me she probably thought it was fake and threw it out." Phil was horrified at that. He had been prescribed medication 3 years ago and not taken it once because some bitch was too stuck in her incorrect ways to even mention it. God, he wanted to murder. He was careful not to show any of those emotions on his face.

 

"Right, well that’s okay, I'll talk to Puffy after your first session and make sure the dosage is still fine and we'll get you on that." Wilbur smiled. Phil smiled back.

 

"..thank you, Phil." Phil smiled wider.

 

"Of course, Wilbur. You can go to sleep if you want. Based on how far into that book you are, I'd say you've been awake for a while." Wilbur didn't even notice he had forgotten to hide the book from Phil. He smiled wider. He lay down his head and turned off the lamp, Phil having turned off the light when he left.

 

He knew Phil would probably snap, but for now, he would just enjoy the peace and happiness while it lasts.

 


 

"Hey, Wilbur. I'm Puffy, Why don't you take a seat. The chairs are pretty comfy." Puffy said with a smile. She seemed nice enough. Wilbur hoped she would stay that way.

 

"Hey." He said as he sat down. She was right. The chairs were comfy. He still liked his bed- the bed in the room he's currently staying in better.

 

"So how's your day been?" She asked in a polite yet welcoming and warm voice that made Wilbur just want to answer her as honestly as he could. He knew, logically, that effect was probably on purpose. He couldn't find it in himself to care.

 

"Good." He still didn’t trust her. Just because she was nice doesn't mean she was suddenly going to get his whole life story. People had to earn trust. She may seem nice but Wilbur knows that people can be misleading.

 

"Think you can tell me something specific that happened? It doesn't have to be important or anything big, just anything that happened." She gave him an encouraging smile. Why was this random woman he just met so difficult to dismiss?

 

"I talked with Schlatt and Eret a bit, I guess. Aren't you supposed to be asking me about why I'm here?" Wilbur added onto the end sceptically. It seemed like a bit of a waste for Phil to spend money for Wilbur to have a friendly chat.

 

"We don't have to talk about anything you're not comfortable with. The pace we move at here is completely up to you. We can talk about why you're here if you'd like, or, you could tell me who Schlatt and Eret are?" Puffy asked, not seeming to have an opinion on which one he chose. For once, he didn’t feel like there was actually a right answer. For once, it was actually his choice.

 

"Schlatt and Eret are my friends from school." Wilbur answered. He wanted to add more but reminded himself not to at the last second. He blames Puffy's comforting smile for his near slip-up.

 

"Do you think they've helped you in any way? Do you feel happier now that you have them?" Puffy asked. Wilbur wasn't sure why she was asking this, but he really wanted to answer.

 

"Yea. They're really kind and they always listen when I say stuff and care about me. I'm really happy when I'm around them." Wilbur answered with a fond and excited smile.

 

"How are you-"

 

This is nice. Wilbur liked this. Things were finally looking up. Wilbur was happy.

Chapter Text

School term was coming to a close, Wilbur having been with Phil for just under two months now and Wilbur was fucking scared.

 

He was getting past the point of being scared of Phil, both Phil and Puffy telling him countless times that Phil isn't going to 'snap' or 'break' and honestly, he was starting to believe it, really, but looking down at the report card in his hands, he was really fucking scared.

 

Wilbur was actually really happy with his grades. He got four A's (geography, english, music & history) and B's on everything else and he was really quite proud of it, but he had been yelled at countless times for getting less than straight A's in old houses and that scared, paranoid voice in his head that he had worked so hard to shut up was really loud, so he was scared.

 

Phil wouldn't be mad or angry. He's kind and supportive and wouldn't be upset over a few B's, especially when I started at this school later than everyone else and only got here 2 months ago. He won't be mad.

 

He kept repeating reassurances to himself the entire car ride home in hopes that if he thought it enough, the words would drown out the other voice in his head telling him the opposite. He had such a bad headache coming tonight.

 

The car pulled into the driveway and both Phil and Wilbur made their way inside, Phil going to sit on the couch and Wilbur hesitantly following. They sat in comfortable silence for a few seconds before Phil reached for the remote and put on some National Geographic documentary about anteaters, turning the volume to low.

 

"I saw your report card online, you did great, well done, Wil." He rubbed Wilbur's arm approvingly, an expression of kindness and something else clear on his face. Wilbur hadn't seen that look in a really fucking long time.

 

Phil looked proud.

 

He smiled at the thought and at Phil's words.

 

"Really?" He asked hopefully, yet slightly cautiously at the same time. He knew, logically, that Phil was being genuine, but the instinct that has been instilled in him for years was yelling that this wasn't real.

 

"Really. You just started at that school a month and a half ago and all your teachers were praising you and your grades were incredible. I'm so proud of you, Wil. Truly." Phil's smile widened as Wilbur flung himself onto Phil, wrapping himself around his foster father and softly sobbing into his green sweater.

 

Phil rubbed his back, remembering another time in this exact position that wasn't so fun, and recognising how far Wilbur had come. He still had a long way to go, but he was doing so incredibly. Phil really was proud, and not just for the report card.

 

"Thanks, Phil. That means so much to me." Wilbur spoke, muffled by Phil's sweater.

"But I'm not moving until you change the channel. Those baby anteaters are horrific." Phil burst out laughing at his words. He loved this side of Wilbur that he'd uncovered. Sam was right. Once he got past all the defences and walls, Wilbur was such an incredible kid.

 

"What do you mean? They're so cute! Look!" He gently pulled Wilbur from his chest, turning him to look at the screen.

"How could you possibly think they aren't adorable?" Wilbur fake-gagged and looked away.

 

"Phil, anteaters are the bane of my existence." Wilbur deadpanned, staring Phil in the eyes with a dead-serious expression.

 

"What? Since when?" Phil asked, completely baffled and so amused at the same time.

 

"Since birth, Phil. They murdered the all doctors in the room as I watched. They are heartless creatures who thrive off others suffering and love causing chaos. They're awful and I hate them. Especially the babies." Phil laughed harder at that, loving the chaotic devil he had uncovered from under all that trauma and scarring. It was still really hard sometimes, but moments like these made it worth it.

 

Phil leaned down slightly and kissed Wilbur's forehead, hugging him closely as he muttered a quiet, but clear:

"I love you, Wilbur."

 

Wilbur's face burned as he turned to look at the TV again. He would never admit how happy those words made him.

 

He was starting to really like it here.

 


 

Wilbur sprinted through the halls, revenge the only thing on his mind. His feet pounded against the floor as he sped his way through crowds and empty corridors alike, keeping his eyes on the head of hair in front of him that he was chasing.

 

His target ran through an open door, closing it behind him and Wilbur could hear his footsteps as he kept running. Wilbur struggled with the door for a second before getting through, cursing himself for getting held back by such a basic and simple obstacle.

 

He ran across the grass he had found himself on, sprinting after the head of brown hair. There were no obstacles here, just open space, and Wilbur's legs were longer.

 

He finally caught up and tackled his target to the ground. His target rolled over in his grasp and their eyes met. Fear took its rightful place in the bastard's eyes. Good. That guy was fucked.

 

Wilbur immediately started hitting the bastards shoulder (gently, of course).

 

"YOU DICK! I FUCKING HATE YOU, YOU BASTARD!" Schlatt took Wilbur's attack as he lay on the ground for a second before bursting out laughing, Eret joining in from behind them, seemingly caught up with the pair who had run out of the classroom as soon as the bell had rung, leaving poor Eret in the dust.

 

Wilbur had stopped his assault and gotten off Schlatt, letting him sit up as they sat next to a tree nearby. Wilbur was still pouting, but his anger had worn off. He couldn't stay mad at his friends for long. He was still soaked from Schlatt pranking his water bottle to shoot all the water at him the second it was opened, though, hence the pout.

 

"Come on, you gotta admit, that was fucking funny. I can't fucking believe it went off during class. God, this couldn't have gone better! Plus, it's really hot today, you'll dry off in no time." Wilbur was starting to regret choosing Schlatt as a friend. (no he wasn't)

 

Wilbur let a smile crack as he thought back on the situation. It was pretty funny, thinking back on it. Plus, he was getting used to Schlatt's shit now. This happened once a week at minimum. Plus, it was hot out. He would be dry by the time lunch ended.

 

He (gently) hit Schlatt's shoulder once more for good measure, muttering a quiet 'dick' under his breath, just loud enough that both Schlatt and Eret definitely heard it. They sat in comfortable silence until Eret spoke.

 

"So, I was thinking, schools ending after next week, what're we gonna do in the holidays? We've gotta make some good plans, it's our first holidays with Wilbur." He sounded excited. It made Wilbur feel a bit excited as well.

 

"OOOOH YEAH! I forgot about that! Dude, we’ve gotta do something super cool together. Ooooh, like a sleepover! Wil d'ya reckon your dad would be-" Wilbur cut him off before he could even finish the thought.

 

"Phil is not my dad." Wilbur hissed, eyes widening once he realised what he'd said. Both his friends sat in silence for a few seconds before Schlatt spoke up, voice a lot softer, meaning he was being serious.

 

"What d'ya mean 'Phil's not your dad'?" The confusion was clear in both their faces. Wilbur really didn't know how to spin this into another lie, so he told the truth. He would miss having these guys as friends.

 

"Fuck. Um, okay. Please don't be mad, but I've been lying to you guys. I didn't move here because Phil moves a lot for work, I moved here to move in with Phil, who isn’t my dad, he's my foster parent. I'm in the system. Sorry I didn't tell you guys before, I just didn’t trust you at the start, then I really didn’t want to admit that I lied, plus I really struggle to trust people. Sorry." Wilbur looked at the ground. He didn't want to see the faces he had grown to care so strongly about morph to the amused and teasing face he had gotten so used to in his past.

 

"Wil? Could you look up at us for a sec?" The kindness and reassurance Eret's voice held was comforting, but Wilbur knew not to trust it. He looked up and saw both his friend's ex-friends smiling at him, not in a teasing or amused way, but reassuring and kind.

"Will, we're not mad at you. That's a perfectly reasonable secret to keep, it's your private life and you can share as much or as little about it as you want. Plus, both my siblings were foster kids. We would never judge you for something like that. We love you, Wil." By the end of Eret's speech, Wilbur had tears in his eyes as he pulled both his friends into a group hug, mostly to show them how happy he was, but also to hide to growing redness on his face from them saying they loved him.

 

"So, sleepover in the holidays?" Schlatt asked.

 

"Hell yeah." Wilbur answered with a smile on his face

 

Wilbur had forgotten how nice it felt to be loved.

 


 

Wilbur was excited. Phil had suggested they have a movie night and Wilbur hadn't seen a movie in so long. A small voice in his mind was still telling him that he needed to be cautious of Phil, but everything else was telling him to embrace Phil's love. Puffy was teaching him to ignore that voice. He really liked Puffy.

 

He finished his homework for the day and bound down the stairs, taking them two at a time, running straight to the couch and jumping into the cushions, making himself comfortable as he waited for Phil.

 

The man in question quickly emerged from behind the kitchen counters, holding a big bowl of popcorn and two glass cups with ice and straws.

 

He saw next to Wilbur, putting one of the cups on the coffee table and giving the other to Wilbur, setting the popcorn on the couch between them. Wilbur took a sip from the straw, expecting the nothingness of water, only to find his mouth bursting into sugary flavours. His mind yelled at him for putting sugar in his body, but he ignored it. Tonight would be fun. He would make sure of it.

 

"Lemonade" Phil said, seeing Wilbur's confusion.

"D'ya like it?" For once Wilbur actually believed that a question asked was a choice, not a trick. He nodded.

 

"Yea, it's good." Phil smiled warmly, eyes crinkling softly, though a hint of mischief was present behind the kind blues of his eyes. He leaned over and ruffled Wilbur's hair, the boy squawking and slapping his hands away.

 

"Stop it, you old man" Phil laughed loudly at Wilbur's words as Wilbur pouted and crossed his arms, smile still clear on his face, despite his best attempts to hide it.

 

Phil turned on  Your Name  and grabbed a blanket, throwing a different one to Wilbur who took it happily and snuggled into the warmth surrounding him. This was nice.

 

The movie was really good, though Wilbur didn't have a lot to compare it to. He had only seen a few movies in the past and they were all years ago.

 

The popcorn tasted great (like everything Phil made him), though Wilbur didn't have much and the half-empty cup of lemonade was one of the best drinks Wilbur's ever had.

 

Near the end of the movie, Phil saw Wilbur yawning. He moved the popcorn onto the coffee table and turned to look at him fully, holding out an arm. A flash of hesitance showed in Wilbur's eyes before he smiled and crawled over the Phil, cuddling into his side, eyes fluttering shut.

 

Phil looked down at the kid in his arms and smiled. God, was he glad he got that email.

Chapter Text

Run. 

 

It's all he can think. Just run, run, run. Don't let your feet stop moving. Ignore the pain, you can't stop.

 

All he wants to do is give in. He wants to lay down and relax and let himself rest but he can't. The second he stops moving is the second they get him. He can't let them get him. It's all that matters right now. Just run.

 

The sirens following him are so loud they nearly burst his eardrums and the footsteps chasing him are getting louder and louder. He can hear the loud crack of the police boots hitting the concrete and the slippers of his foster dad brushing the rough ground. 

 

They're getting closer. He can hear them. He has to run faster. Push harder. Don't let the pain in, just run.

 

He runs and runs until suddenly he's not running anymore.

 

For a moment he's confused, why isn't he moving? He's trying to…

 

Then the pain sets in. The harsh contact with the floor as a police officer tackles him to the ground. Fuck, that hurt. His face stings from cuts and his whole body hurts from the impact and the weight of the man still pressing into him.

 

His wrists are grabbed harshly and pulled behind his back so hard his shoulders ache badly and then the weight is off him for a second of relief before he's yanked backwards into a kneeling position by the wrists still being held in a tight grip. 

 

Cold metal is wrapped around his wrists and it would be soothing for the ache if he didn't know that he was being handcuffed.

 

The situation sets in and he pushes the tiredness away in one last burst of adrenaline and starts squirming and resisting as hard as he can, pushing his body violently in all directions as he tries to get out of the man's harsh grip. 

 

He hears something being pulled out of a holster and before he can react his entire body is shaking violently and pain fills every inch of him. He lets out a scream and everything goes black.

 

His eyes open again almost instantly, he can feel the pain pulsating through his body even though he knows nothing is really hurting him. Just a memory.

 

He pulls up the right side of his pyjama shirt and looks at the two red dots a centimetre apart from each other, burn scars from the taser the policeman used on him. He hates the scar. It reminds him of the fact that he can't do anything. He can't even run away right.

 

Tears burst from his eyes and he breaks down in sobs, shaken from the memory and the reminder from the scar.

 

Seconds later the door bursts open and he shoots up and locks eyes with a frantic Phil in his pyjamas holding a bat over his shoulder. The bat leaves a strong feeling of fear in Wilbur but once Phil scans the room and deems it safe he drops the weapon on the ground and goes straight to Wilbur's side, pulling him into a hug.

 

Neither of them miss the way Wilbur flinches, but both ignore it as Phil tries to calm his son and Wilbur lets himself fall into the comfort Phil provides. Phil lifts Wilbur for a second before setting the boy gently in his lap. A tender hand rests in Wilbur's hair and a soft, fluffy toy is placed in his lap before a hand starts rubbing comforting circles on his back. Wilbur hugs Friend so hard he's afraid the toy might burst.

 

After Wilbur has calmed down (using some very helpful tips from Puffy), Phil's voice broke the silence.

 

"Think you can tell me what happened, mate?" Wilbur seemed conflicted but resolved it quickly.

 

"Memory from an old foster house. Sorry I woke you. Why'd you have a bat, though?" Wilbur's voice was barely a whisper, clearly still a little shaken up. Phil smiled sympathetically and ran a hand through Wilbur's hair.

 

"I heard you scream and I wasn't sure if you were in danger and a bat was the first weapon I could find. And you know you don't have to apologise for waking me." Wilbur smiled at Phil's reassurance. He knew he didn't have to say sorry, he wanted to. And the thought of Phil protecting him made him really happy inside.

"D'ya know why you screamed? You don't have to say of you don't want, of course."

 

Wilbur lifted the side of his shirt to show Phil the scar. Phil looked at it in concern, carefully rubbing a thumb over the two dots, wondering what they could be from.

 

"I ran away from my fourth house when I was 10. My foster father called the police and they chased me. When one of them caught me I tried to break out of his grasp and he tased me. That's what my nightmare was about. I must've screamed when he tased me in the nightmare." Phil had a look of horror after Wilbur told the story and hugged the boy tighter as if to protect him. It didn't make sense to Wilbur. It's already happened, what was he protecting him from? But Wilbur didn't really care, he just let himself enjoy the hug.

 

"I swear to you, baby, that I will never let anyone hurt you again. I will protect you with everything I've got. Promise." Wilbur smiled as Phil lay him down in his bed and was about to leave until Wilbur grabbed his wrist and gently pulled him down onto the bed with him. Phil smiled and lay under the covers with the boy, holding him tight when Wilbur snuggled into Phil's side.

 

This. This was safety.

 


 

Wilbur woke to a warm bed and the soft sounds of glass colliding with glass and plates and pans being shuffled. He remembered last night, he didn't really want to think about it though.

 

He was bored, so he decided to go downstairs to see what Phil was doing. He trudged down the stairs in his orca pyjamas, yawning a few times throughout the journey.

 

Once he reached the kitchen, Phil turned to look at him and beamed, clearly excited about something.

 

"Hey, Wil! You wanna make pancakes?" Phil smiled encouragingly, yet excitedly at the same time and Wilbur couldn't've said no if he wanted to, which he didn't. He was glad Phil didn't seem like he was going to bring up last night. Wilbur really needed something fun like this right now.

 

"What's the occasion? They had eaten pancakes before, but usually, there was something to prompt it, a special event or achievement to elicit the sugary start to the day.

 

"Last day of term, of course. We've gotta celebrate you finishing your first term of school while living here!" Wilbur had honestly forgotten about that. With that news in mind, he sprinted around the dining table, sleepiness from two seconds ago gone without a trace.

 

Phil pulled out the ingredients while Wilbur stood by with a bowl pouring in the correct amounts and mixing (and taste-testing every few minutes). This continued until it was ready for cooking and Wilbur and Phil started to pour the batter into a pan and cook the pancakes.

 

Once the delicious golden-brown circles were ready, they were stacked onto two plates, Wilbur covering them in syrup and whipped cream. They looked perfect. Nearly.

 

"Done?" Phil asked, watching as Wilbur placed the final touches with the whipped cream and slam the can onto the counter to signify the completion of the meal like the dramatic theatre kid he is.

 

"Hmmm… One sec." He ran over to the fridge and grabbed two strawberries. He kneeled down to be eye-height with the pancakes and carefully placed the strawberries in the middle blob of whipped cream.

 

Phil loved watching Wilbur like this. He was so adorable when he was focused, even on something as silly as decorating pancakes. Moments like these remind him of what he imagined back when he dreamed of having kids

 

"Perfect?" Phil asked, a fond smile on his face.

 

"Mhm." Wilbur turned and hugged Phil, clearly happy from the cheerful morning.

"Thanks, Dad." Wilbur let go and grabbed the plates, carrying them to the table, seemingly not noticing what he said. Phil, however, did notice and he was left, frozen, staring at where Wilbur sat. Wilbur turned and saw him, confused as to why he wasn't following.

 

"Dad? You coming to eat? 'Cause I definitely can't eat two stacks of pancakes." Both of them knew Wilbur would barely finish one pancake, let alone a stack, but he was trying and doing really well, and that's all that really mattered to Phil.

 

 A huge smile formed on his face as he walked over and sat across from Wilbur, content to just enjoy the morning with his  son.

 


 

Wilbur hopped out of Phil's car with a smile on his face. He had amazing pancakes for breakfast and Phil seemed really happy while they were eating for some reason and it was the last day of term, so not only did he get a two week break after today, but he got to hang out with Schlatt and Eret without shitty cafeteria food or teachers constantly telling them to shut up. Wilbur had never been this excited before.

 

He had only taken two steps before he was bombarded by Schlatt and Eret running up to him and hugging him.

 

"Wilbur! It’s the last day of term!"

 

"We have so much to plan for the holidays, so much to do together in so little time"

 

"You've already been to both of our houses, can we  please  go to yours? I wanna find embarrassing stuff in your room and make fun of you for it."

 

Wilbur smiled as his friends rambled over each other. He would say he's never seen them this excited, but they acted like this quite a lot. They were exhausting, but he loved them.

 

"I can try and ask my dad to let you guys over, but he might say no. I doubt it, though." Wilbur smiled. He looked at his friends and their smiles seemed even wider.

 

"Since when was he 'dad' and not 'Phil'?" Eret asked. His voice was teasing, yet there was a noticeable level of kindness and genuineness there as well. Wilbur processed what he said and his eyes widened.

 

"I didn't even realise I said that… Oh,  That's  why dad was so happy during breakfast." Wilbur smiled. It shocked him when he realised he had called Phil, dad, but no part of him regretted it.

 

He felt bad for feeling it, but he also felt relieved that Phil had been happy with it and hadn't gotten upset at him. Puffy was helping him realise that reactions like that were past trauma and PTSD affecting his emotional responses, but he still felt like he was betraying Phil by feeling it. Puffy promised it would get better. Wilbur believed her.

 

He ignored that feeling in favour of running after his friends as they sprinted to the library to play Minecraft together before class. It was a tradition they said they had been doing since first grade and Wilbur loved being a part of it.

 

He ran as fast as he could until they arrived at the library, all immediately slowing their pace and reducing their yells to whispers in fear of being told off by the librarian. She was a lovely lady but she was seriously effective at shushing people.

 

They speedwalked to the computers and sat at three that were next to each other. The library was pretty much empty, most people didn't use it and those who did weren't at school an hour early.

 

They logged into the game with wide smiles, joining their server SMPEarth and fighting each other in intense wars with planes and guns from mods they had found that looked cool.

 

Wilbur had just won a war against the two other boys and he saw a blue sheep in a field near their battleground. He immediately ran over and captured it, running off to his base to retrieve and name a nametag, naming the sheep 'Friend' after his beloved plushie. He smiled as his friends laughed in amusement and confusion at the strange name.

 

He loved class, but spending time with his friends was always the best part of school. He really did love them a lot.

Chapter Text

"Hey, guys."

 

"Hey, Phil. We're so glad you've called." Hearing Puffy's voice was always something that reassured Phil.

 

"Yeah. It's been so long since we've heard from you." He'd forgotten how refreshing and comforting Bad's kind, compassionate demeanour was.

 

"Yeah, well, getting a kid will do that to you." It was true. The first month with Wilbur had been really difficult, for both of them. He had loved it, and the journey was so worth it, but it was fucking hard.

 

"Couldn't agree more."

 

"I'm with you on that one."

 

"God, ain't that the truth."

 

Phil chuckled at his friend's simultaneous replies. Sometimes he forgot that they were all parents. Now, with Phil getting Wilbur, it was four out of four.

 

"So, Phil. How's it been going with Wilbur?" He had really missed talking to Sam this past couple months. He was always so level-headed and gave the greatest advice.

 

"It's been going so amazing. God, Sam, you were so right. It was really difficult to earn his trust, but once his walls came down, holy fuck, it's been two months and I already love him as much as I love you guys. He's changed my life. I seriously have to thank you, Sam. Thank you so much for giving me that file. It's made my whole life so much better." Phil was gushing over this and he knew it but he didn't care. He wanted the whole world to know how amazing he felt to have Wilbur in his life.

 

"I knew you'd like him. It's nice, that feeling of being a parent, isn't it?" Phil hadn’t been sure what to label it until this point. He had called it love, protectiveness, vulnerability, compassion, care, but it took Sam saying that to realise that feeling was being a father. That was because, in his own mind, he truly was Wilbur's father and Wilbur was truly his son.

 

"Y'know, he called me dad the other day. He didn’t even realise. I don't think I've ever felt so happy. It was one of the greatest moments of my life." Everything Phil was saying was true. How he felt when Wilbur called him dad, was one of the best feelings in the world.

 

"Holy shit, he called you dad? He must really fucking care about you. He never trusts people. I have very few kids under my care that have as much trouble trusting as Wilbur did. That's a huge step, Phil. That's made me so happy. I'm so glad Wilbur finally found a family. That kid deserves it." Hearing Sam talk about Wilbur only made Phil happier. He never wanted this part of his life to end. If he got stuck in a groundhog day situation today, he wouldn't even be mad.

 

Hearing his friends talking about their own kids and lives, with Phil giving the occasional comment or story, Phil couldn't help but spend the whole time thinking.

 

How did I ever live without Wilbur in my life? 

 


 

Phil was having a nice morning. It was school holidays so he didn't have to worry about Wilbur's lunches or driving him at the right time. He also had the next week off work due to some company mishap.

 

Currently, Phil was sitting on a couch in the living room and drinking some tea while reading a book. Wilbur was sleeping in, a luxury he couldn't always afford yet attempted to achieve every morning nonetheless. It was nice to be able to let him sleep in for once.

 

He turned the page and continued reading, only to be interrupted by shuffling from behind him. He turned to see Wilbur fully dressed for the day, clearly ready to go somewhere, standing awkwardly as if he wants to say something but can't bring himself to.

 

"Everythin' alright, Wilbur? Why're you all dressed up?" Phil asked in curiosity. He doesn't think they have anything planned. School was over and Wilbur's next therapy session wasn't for another few days.

 

"I was just wondering- and it's fine if you say no!- but do you think I could… maybe… go hang out with my friends at the music store down the street? I-I can text you every hour and I promise not to talk to strangers, just  please  let me go. It's a celebration for the end of term. I promise I won't stay out too late-" Wilbur was cut off by arms wrapping around him and a kiss being placed on his forehead. He smiled. This 'physical affection' thing was new to him, he didn't really have anyone to hug before, but he definitely liked it.

 

"Of course you can go, Wil. I love seeing you enjoy time with your friends, it makes me really happy. I know how much you care about them. I would never stop you from seeing them unless there was an actual, important reason. Go have fun, kiddo." Phil smiled as he spoke, his expression only getting happier as he saw the pure excitement and joy on Wilbur's face.

 

"Thank you, Dad! Thank you so much. I'll be back around dinner? Is that okay?" Phil wasn't sure he was ever going to get used to Wilbur calling him that.

 

"That's fine. Enjoy yourself." Phil replied. Wilbur squealed,  actually squealed,  in response and Phil's heart burst. He watched Wilbur sprint through the door, yelling a quick 'be careful' after him. He smiled fondly as he watched the kid run away at lightning speed.

 

Fostering was the best decision he ever made.

 


 

Wilbur nearly jumped with joy when Phil told him he could go. He was so scared Phil wouldn't let him, but he was really starting to believe his brain and logic over fear and instincts. It was the first time in his life he had ever actually felt proud of himself for something.

 

He ran down the street, yelling affirmation to Phil as he yelled out to be careful. He was so excited.

 

He sprinted to the music store, nearly forgetting to slow down to walk through the door. He was excited but he wasn't about to break something because of a joyous frenzy.

 

Once he entered the store, Schlatt was standing at the front desk talking to a woman and Eret was looking at keyboards. Schlatt turned around at the sound of the bell above the door ringing.

 

"Wilbur! I'm so glad you came. This is gonna be so much fun. I told you your dad would be fine with it." Schlatt sounded fondly exasperated. He had told Wilbur many times that Phil would be fine with it, but Wilbur was worried nonetheless.

 

"Yeah, I just get scared." Wilbur muttered in response.

 

"Dude, you need to have more faith in him. He's awesome and you know it. Just chill and let yourself be happy, I know you need it." Schlatt smiled as he walked off and let Wilbur absorb his words for a few moments before coming back with a guitar in hand.

 

"I reckon this one'll fit you." Was all he said after looking between Wilbur and the guitar for a few seconds.

 

"What?" Wilbur asked, confused but not scared. In response, Schlatt pulled Wilbur over to a set of stools with his free hand and they both sat down.

 

Eret was now jamming on a keyboard with headphones in behind them.

 

Schlatt took the guitar he was still holding and shoved it into Wilbur's lap. He spent a few seconds setting it on the right angle and pulled Wilbur's hand up the neck of the instrument before moving his hand into the right spot.

 

"Put your other hand over the top like- yea, perfect!"

 

Schlatt continued to teach him until he had the basic chords down and was able to strum a variety of lullabies and children's melodies. Schlatt was currently working on teaching him basic bar chords.

 

It was fucking difficult. His hand wouldn't sit in the right fucking spot and his fingers were not long enough for this shit, yet every time he got upset, Schlatt would gently correct his finger placement and show with his own hand how to do it right. How one person with this reassuring and frustrating at the same time was beyond Wilbur.

 

After multiple hours of painstaking practice at stupid fucking bar chords, Wilbur finally got it. They were practising an 'F' and when Wilbur strummed, for the first time it actually sounded right.

 

Wilbur's smile beamed on his face as he looked up at Schlatt whose smile was just as wide as his felt.

 

"Wilbur, you did it! I'm so proud of you, that was awesome! Come on, let's try and play this song together." Wilbur's smile was still just as bright as they played the song together, failing a couple of times before finally getting it. Wilbur looked over at his watch absentmindedly and his eyes metaphorically popped out of their sockets as he stared at the numbers on the device.

 

5:39 pm

 

40 minutes after he promised he'd be home.

 

Fuck.

 


 

Phil was having a very peaceful afternoon. Wilbur was still with Schlatt and he had texted earlier to say when he'd be back so Phil wasn't worried. The house was surprisingly quiet without Wilbur in it. He was used to hearing footsteps above him, or soft singing that he was too scared to let Wilbur know he could hear lest he stop singing out of embarrassment.

 

Sure, the house was this quiet when Wilbur went to school but most of the time Phil was too caught up in work to notice. Sitting and doing something peaceful and not hearing a single sound around him was almost unnerving.

 

It reminded him of when Wilbur first arrived, too scared to even walk too loudly in fear of being yelled at. Phil didn't miss Wilbur being that scared. The first time Wilbur actually came out of his room to ask Phil something of his own accord was one of the best moments of Phil's life, only second to marrying Kristin and when Wilbur called him 'Dad'.

 

He pushed the uneasiness out of his mind. Wilbur wasn't scared anymore, he would've texted if something was wrong. He's spending time with his friends. Schlatt's mum is there. She texted him when Wilbur arrived so he knew Wilbur was safe. Everything was fine.

 

He focused back on the words of his book and continued reading.

 

Four hours had passed when Phil finished the book. He closed it with a content sigh and looked down at his watch.

 

5:17 pm

 

Wilbur said he would be home at 5.

 

He's probably fine. Just lost track of time while spending time with his friends.

 

Probably.

 

There was no way he was going to be able to distract himself with reading now. He doesn't care if it embarrasses Wilbur or looks lame for him to turn up and get him, he needs to make sure his kid's safe.

 

He grabbed his coat and walked out the door. The music store was only a 2 minute walk away. He walked as fast as he could until he reached the store and heard the strumming of a guitar, slightly choppy but overall pretty nice. Expected for a music store.

 

What wasn't expected was seeing Wilbur sitting on a stool playing said guitar with Schlatt sitting next to him, talking and making hand gestures that resembled guitar chords, assumably teaching him. Eret was sitting behind them with headphones connected to a keyboard that he seemed to be enjoying and Pokimane, Schlatt's mum, was sitting behind the counter watching them with a soft expression.

 

Phil smiled fondly at the sight. Wilbur's concentrated, yet joyous and excited face and Schlatt's encouraging demeanour, with the occasional burst of fond yet frustrated exasperation. Wilbur strummed another chord and he must've gotten it right because he smiled even wider and looked up at Schlatt who was saying something with a smile just as wide.

 

Phil turned around and walked home. He guessed Wilbur could stay a little longer.

Chapter Text

Wilbur sprinted out of the store, happiness from a few moments ago gone, running zig-zags along the footpath to avoid running into streetlamps or other people.

 

God, he was so fucked. Phil had been so amazing and kind and even let him go, on his own, to hang out with his friends. With the only rule being that he had to be home by 5. It was 5:41. So, as previously stated, he was so fucked.

 

He hopes everything Phil and Puffy had been saying isn't wrong. He really hopes that Phil isn't going to snap. Every part of him wants to believe that Phil is too nice to kick him out or hurt him, that he'll be a little upset but still be Wilbur's kind, loving dad regardless but that little voice in his mind that told him to never trust again was spreading out of the corner he had shoved it in.

 

Long story short, he was freaking out.

 

He finally reached his street and looked down at his watch as he approached the front door.

 

5:45 pm

 

He took a deep breath and pushed the panic down. A panic attack was the last thing he needed right now. What he needed was to use his great conversational skills to pull down Phil's anger as much as he can. Action-mode. No emotions allowed.

 

He reached into his pocket and grabbed to keys Phil had given him a few weeks ago. He pressed them into the keyhole and twisted, cringing at the noise the door made as he slowly swung it open.

 

He walked in carefully, closing the door behind him and locking it, turning around and seeing Phil standing over a counter in the kitchen, back turned to the door. He walked over to the sink and washed his hands, leaving the lasagne sitting on the bench, then turned around and locked eyes with Wilbur. He looked calm enough but Wilbur couldn't stop the way he tensed from the attention.

 

"Hey, Wilbur. I was wondering when you'd get back. Come, sit." Phil gestured to the table with his head as he plated the lasagne and placed it on the table.

"I think we need to have a bit of a chat, mate." He smiled as he spoke in a calm and kind tone, but Wilbur was near shaking. This was it. He was getting sent away. He was losing the first person, save for Sam, who he had loved in the past 5 years.

 

He held back the tears in his eyes. Fuck what Puffy says, tears only show weakness. He walked over to the table and pulled out the chair with shaking hands. He sat down. He couldn't make eye contact with Phil no matter how hard he tried. He couldn't bring himself to look his  dad  in the eyes as he told him to leave.

 

"Wil, you were nearly an hour late home. I know you probably didn't mean to be and you just lost track of time, but that can't happen, sweetie. You scared my half to death." Wilbur couldn't hold himself back. He jumped up to run to his room, hoping to delay his demise for just a little longer (and stash Friend and  The Communist Manifesto  before Phil could take them).

 

As he stood, his knee hit the underside of the table and the vase sitting on top of it toppled onto the ground, smashing on impact. Wilbur jumped at the sound, his body falling into panic as he fell to his knees and dissolved into sobs as violent shaking enveloped his body.

 

Phil jumped out of his chair, running around to the other side of the table, avoiding the broken glass on the floor, and kneeling in front of Wilbur, grabbing one of Wilbur's hands and placing his free hand on Wilbur's cheek, gently wiping away the tears. It was a futile task, but Phil kept trying.

 

"Hey, no. Honey, don't cry. It's okay, what's wrong?" Phil was so scared. Did he do something wrong? Did he do this to his son?

 

"I-I'm s-sorry. I d-didn't mean t-to. I-I promise. P-p-please d-don’t send me b-back. I-I don't w-wanna go. I d-don't wanna l-leave, dad. I-I'm s-so s-sorry." Wilbur's cries got louder as Phil looked at him, horrified, for a second before falling into action and pulling Wilbur to his chest. He hugged him tightly as the boy wrapped his arms around his father just as tight, tears soaking his shirt.

 

"Baby, I'm not sending you back, why would you think that? I was upset that you didn't keep track of the time, yes, but nothing, absolutely  nothing  you do could make me send you back. You understand? You are my  son.  Not an object that I can throw away when I get bored or upset with it. If something happens, like you making me upset, then we'll talk about it and work through it together. I will never give up on you, Wil. Never. I promise." Wil's crying slowly slightly, but came back at full force when he spoke again.

 

"B-but I b-broke your vase. I-it prob-bably cost s-so much a-and and I just b-b-broke it b-bec-cause of a c-careless m-mistake. I-I'm so-sorry." Wilbur's voice was slightly muffled by Phil's shirt but Phil could hear every heartbreaking word.

 

"Honey, I don't give a shit about some stupid vase. I hated that vase, anyway. It was only there because I wasn't bothered to buy something else to replace it. But even if that was my favourite vase ever it wouldn't matter because you, Wil, are so much more important than material possessions. Objects are replaceable but you, my dear, are once-in-a-lifetime. And I'm never letting you go." Wilbur looked up at Phil with tear-filled eyes, pure emotion and vulnerability shone through his hazelnut eyes and Phil's heart broke from sadness and imploded from cuteness at the same time.

 

"R-really?" Wilbur asked in the smallest voice Phil had ever heard.

 

"Really." Phil smiled reassuringly as he answered. Voice soft, yet not leaving any room for argument. Wilbur smiled tiredly, adrenaline wearing off and exhaustion setting in from the full day of guitar learning and the breakdown he just had. Phil picked him up bridal style and Wilbur curled into Phil's chest as he carried him up the stairs to his room.

 

As Phil tucked him into bed (still in his day clothes, but whatever) he leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on Wilbur's forehead before whispering to him.

 

"Goodnight, my once-in-a-lifetime. Sleep well."

 


 

"Ooh, this one's pretty!" Wilbur stated, holding up the fifth vase he had commented on in the last minute. He turned and saw another one, abandoning the one he was holding to put all his attention on the new yellow one he found.

"Oh, this one's so… pulchritudinous. I don't know what that means but I think it's good." Wilbur smiled as he put down the one he was holding to follow something else he saw on the other side of the store.

 

Phil followed him, smiling fondly at his energetic actions. Being here was just reminding him of how far they had come together. The last time he had been in this mall was when he took Wilbur shopping the second day he was here. All he could think of was how different Wilbur was now to back then.

 

When they first went shopping Wilbur barely even lifted up his head to look at the displays, Phil having to watch Wilbur ridiculously attentively just to notice when his head moved up and follow his eyesight to what he was looking at. At least it had good outcomes, he really loves that sheep plush.

 

Point is that Wilbur has come so far out of his shell and Phil can't help but feel grateful to any god that exists for choosing him to be the one to receive the blessing that is Wilbur. Breaking out of his thoughts, he fell into panic when he couldn't see Wilbur, only to notice a dull red sweater and a grey beanie facing away from him, examining some display.

 

Phil approached Wilbur and right before he got close enough to see what Wilbur was looking at the kid spun around and pushed himself onto his toes to place something on Phil's head.

 

Phil smiled and pulled out his phone to use the camera as a mirror. He looked at the green and white striped bucket hat on his head and smiled.

 

"Happy birthday!" Wilbur smiled and did jazz hands for dramatic flare.

 

"Wilbur, my birthday was nearly four months ago." Phil stated, smiling regardless of his words.

 

"Happy very late birthday, Dad!" The jazz hands from before were still going strong. Phil chuckled at his antics and ruffled his hair, even with the beanie on it made Wilbur really upset, jokingly, of course.

 

Wilbur grabbed an aqua gradient coloured vase and gave it to Phil to buy and they left the store, Wilbur still somehow bounding with energy.

 

Suddenly Phil's unoccupied hand was being pulled in the direction of an ice cream store and when Phil pulled back to stop Wilbur from moving further, he turned and put on his best puppy dog eyes, Phil caving almost instantly. What's the harm in a little ice cream, anyway?

 

Phil agreed and watched Wilbur sprint off to the store nearby. He could've sworn he heard Wilbur mutter a small 'sucker' as he ran off, but Phil must be imagining things.

 

He walked into the ice cream store to see Wilbur holding three different used, disposable taste-test spoons and had another in his mouth, pointing out others he wanted to try to the worker.

 

Phil went to apologise to the worker but she held up a hand to stop him.

 

"Overexcited kids make up the majority of our customers. This happens all the time, don't worry." Phil smiled and nodded before turning to Wilbur. 

 

"Got a favourite yet, Mate?" Wilbur shook his head and Phil laughed at the intense concentration he was using on finding the perfect flavour. 

 

After a few more minutes of constant samples, Wilbur made his choice and they left the store to walk around as they ate their cones.

 

"So why was it so important to find the perfect ice cream flavour, huh? Any special occasion?" Phil asked, fully expecting a joke for an answer.

 

"Of course! It's my first time eating ice cream, I had to find the best flavour!" Wilbur smiled with his words, clearly not understanding the heartbreaking implications those words had. Phil didn't mention it, just smiled and let his son be happy, lord knows he deserves it.

 

Phil and Wilbur walked to the next store, Target, to get more things for Wilbur as their first shopping trip didn't yield too many results. Wilbur was sprinting everywhere now and talking really quick. Phil seriously regretted giving him that ice cream (no, he didn't).

 

"Phil! Phil! Look!" Wilbur ran up to his side, somehow already having found a world atlas book and was going through it, showing Phil all the maps while admiring them himself at the same time.

 

"Here, come with me." Phil said, knowing Wilbur would enjoy what he had in mind. As they approached the school section, Phil was certain Wilbur was one of the first people ever to gawk in awe at the amount of books and materials were present. Of course, Wilbur had already been to a school section when they first went shopping, but his head was down the whole time and his mind was preoccupied thinking about making sure Phil didn't get annoyed.

 

Phil kept walking until they came across the geography section, Wilbur more in awe now than before, which Phil didn't even know was possible. If his mouth got any wider his jaw would dislocate like a snake.

 

Phil reached onto the shelf and grabbed a globe, slightly bigger than his head and handed it to Wilbur. Wilbur beamed when he looked at it and spun it with wide eyes, clearly enjoying himself. Phil loved seeing Wilbur awestruck, it was always so adorable.

 

They spent the rest of the day roaming the store until Wilbur's sugar high crashed and he got really tired, at which point they grabbed all their bags and drove home. 

 

Both Wilbur and Phil fell asleep smiling that night.

Chapter Text

ik i said i would upload monday or tuesday and today's thursday, when I'm supposed to upload again but im working on a couple oneshots rn and since i finished school, my work has started giving me 5 shifts a week, but we will be back to our regularly scheduled program on sunday :)

 

im currently working on a royalty bedrock bros oneshot and an exile oneshot with good dream if you were curious. so look forward to them!