After hearing Tobey's question, Two-Brains debated to himself on whether or not he should tell Tobey the truth about his past. Two-Brains personally didn't know William, Steven did. When he would try to remember anything before the failed experiment, the memories were kind of foggy. He would have to concentrate a good bit to get a clear picture of what was going on. Plus, acting like he knew William personally would be useless because Tobey was a smart kid and would notice instantly. All he had were Steven's memories with little emotions attached to them. Letting out a deep breath, Two-Brains decided to tell the truth. The origin of his existence wasn't like it was a secret or anything.
Letting out another sigh, Two-Brains started his explanation. "Tobey, I have to tell you something very important first. I may have memories of being your father's friend but I personally never met him. Steven Boxleitner was his friend. However he's not in charge of this body anymore, I am."
"I think I heard of him before. He's the guy who wrote that superhero guide book. You're telling me that you used to be him, how?" Tobey cautiously asked. Villains rarely ever talked about their past. If they did, they were just small stories to share, nothing too significant. The topic of a villain's past is handled very carefully. There's always a reason why a person chooses to become a villain. It was a lifestyle, not a career, no one wakes up one day and decides to become a villain. There was always a reason and no one really shares why.
"A failed experiment brought me here. That's all you need to know, right now. Now back on topic, I have Steven's memories, though some of them can be a little hazy. If you want to ask some questions about your father, I will try my best to answer them. I don't know if it's me or a small part of Steven but I'm curious about a couple of things about your father. So, I also have a couple of questions to ask you too. Would that be fine with you?"
Tobey nodded his head, even after the incident that took place not five minutes ago, he felt a little eager to learn more about his father. However, he was also kind of nervous about what he might find out about his father. Him being a villain was crossed off the list. If Two-Brains knew him before he became a villain, that means that his father wasn't a villain too, right? Tobey's eyes and ears were focused on Two-Brains, ready for him to speak more about his father.
Two-Brains cleared his throat and started to answer Tobey's previous question. "How Steven came to know your father, was the first day of college in Fair City University. They had the same Monday morning class, Steven was late to class, your father helped him out, and because William was new to the city Steven showed him around. After that, they became great friends for about seven years. Any more questions?"
"Why do you use Steven's name?" Tobey curiously questioned.
Letting out a tired sigh, not really wanting to talk about himself. However, begrudgingly Two-Brains still answered. "Because I didn't know William, Steven did. Me and him are two separate people. We may share the same body but we are both different entities. Do you want to know more about me or your father?"
"Sorry, sorry." Tobey quickly apologized.
Thinking of another question for Two-Brains, Tobey asked, "Did my father love robots as much as me?"
Crossing his arms and legs, Two-Brains took a little time to think. "Hmmm, from what I can tell not only did he like robots but he loved engineering in general. In Steven's memories, I can see that he would rant on and on about the mechanics of this machine or that invention. He would take apart things just to build them again, to understand how they work. You know, when we first met at the villain convention and you started talking about your robots and how you made them, It kind of reminded me of your father, so I see where you get your passion for robots from."
Feeling a swell of pride growing inside him, Tobey couldn't help but feel proud. He and his father were connected by the one thing they both love. The love for building inventions from their imagination and bringing them into reality. Excitement and curiosity filled his mind, wanting to know more about his father. What was he like? What kind of things did he build? Tobey had so many questions racing through his mind that he couldn't pick one to ask.
Finally one came to mind. "Do you know how my mother and father met?"
"Sorry kid, but your father moved away from Fair City to Key City in 1994 for a new engineering position. He was still single when he left. So I don't really know how they met, they probably met each other in that other city. That day was the last time Steven ever saw him."
September 7th, 1994
Walking up to the back of the moving van, William placed the last box of his belongings inside. After closing the doors of the moving van, William turned around and headed inside his apartment complex to check if he had gotten everything. As he entered the doorway of his apartment, he saw Steven, who was standing in the kitchen by the entranceway with a water bottle in his hand stretched out towards him. Nodding his head in thanks, William took the water bottle taking a sip from it.
"Thanks for the water, Steven, and helping me pack and move my stuff out."
Giving his friend a small smile, Steven replied. "No problem, what are friends for?"
Jokingly, William retorted back. "Bailing you out of jail, of course."
"Not if you drag me along with you like you did last year. I mean did you really have to set up the "Lightning Catcher" in that poor farmer's field? Spending a day in jail with you was not how I was expecting to spend my Saturday evening. You're just lucky that the farmer didn't press any charges." Steven replied in a jokingly angered tone.
William, going along with Steven's argument, defended. "Hey I needed the energy to bring power to my machine, and I already blew out the electricity in the whole apartment complex three times before the incident. Those damage repair bills were as high as my intelligence."
"I guess they weren't that high then, huh."
"I- hey, take that back? Is this how you treat a friend who's leaving? I'll have you know that…"
Steven let out a sigh. William was leaving and it would be a long time before they'd see each other again. A couple of months ago they both graduated with their masters. Steven was going to be very busy for the next couple of years since he was striving for his Ph.D. William would be busy too, with his job and everything. Life really does move fast when you're not paying attention. Things change, people change, you change. It was all very surreal when you think about it.
Noticing that Steven had gotten quiet, William called to him. "Uh, hey, earth to Steven. Steven, are you in there? Did you get distracted again? I swear, it's going to be your downfall if you keep this up."
Not getting an answer, William let out an annoyed grunt and flicked Steven on the forehead as hard as he could. Now, that got Steven's attention.
"Ouch! Jeez, what was that for?" Steven yelled in shock and pain, rubbing his forehead on the spot that was hit.
"As I was saying before you got distracted by your thoughts again. I've gotten everything, so I'm heading out now. I just wanted to say goodbye before I left."
A moment of ambivalence hit Steven, he didn't want one of his good friends to go but he also wanted the best for William. If this job makes him happy, then he should go for it.
Breaking out of his trance, before William can flick his forehead again. Steven gave William a goodbye hug which William graciously returned. Walking down from their apartment to William's moving van, Steven waved goodbye as his friend drove away.
*End of flashback*
Tobey was a little disappointed that his question couldn't be answered, but he was curious about something else. "Wait, what was the Lightning Catcher incident? What did you guys go to jail for?
Thinking on it and only coming up with bits and pieces of clear memories, Two-Brains answered. "That's a long story, that I don't have many clear memories about. It's mostly very fuzzy. Now, do you have another question or can I ask mine?"
Quickly thinking about what to ask next, Tobey asked. "What was my father like? Was he a kind person?"
Contemplating what to say, Two-Brains answered. "He was a good friend, always kept his word, and was there to help you out when you needed it. He sure brought lots of interesting situations you never knew you could be in. He was, like you, very troublesome. When he has an idea of something cool or interesting to build, he'll build it. Steven always wondered if William ever took the time to think if he should be building every invention he thought of. But all in all, he was a good man. Anything else?"
"Are there any other similarities between me and my father, besides our love of building things?" Tobey wondered.
"Hmmm, let me think. How good are you in sports?"
Caught off guard by that question, Tobey imminently answered with a lie hoping that it was the right answer. "Uh, I'm great at sports. In fact, I am great at any physical activity. "
Looking at Tobey with a deadpan expression, Two-Brains continued. "Yeah right, and I hate cheese. You know when Steven asked that question to your father he had a similar answer. So you could say that you're both terrible in any physical activities.
Crossing his arms and letting out a small pout, Tobey was a little offended for being called out that he wasn't athletic. However, Two-Brains didn't care and continued by asking another question. "How well are your cooking skills?"
Confused, Tobey answered back. "My cooking skills are okay, I can make simple dishes but I mainly have one of my cooking robots cook for me. Mother was the one who usually cooked for me when I was younger."
"Yeah, I bet there's a reason for that." Two-Brains retorted.
November 17th, 1992
It was around 7:30 PM when Steven had just finished one of his classes into getting his masters. Leaving the building and walking onto the sidewalk, the cool autumn air hit him, blowing through his short brown hair. Looking up at the sky and seeing the swirl of warm colors with the light reds, oranges, and yellows intermixing together, white puffy clouds were sprinkled around as if they were carefully placed in the vastness of the sky. The ambiance of his walk home was tranquil. However, as he entered the door to his and William's apartment, that feeling of tranquility suddenly disappeared and was replaced with bewilderment.
Seeing Steven at the door, William excitedly greeted him. "Oh, hey Steven, you're just in time to try out my muffins. I just finished cooking them. Don't mind the little mess in the kitchen."
Steven was still in shock at the state of the kitchen and couldn't believe that William was attempting to cook, again. He specifically forbade William from cooking anything in the kitchen. Anything William cooked was either burnt to a crisp, taste like anything else but what he was cooking or somehow magically come alive and walked out of their apartment.
And that little mess in the kitchen wasn't a little mess, it was as if a hurricane came through with the sole purpose of destroying this kitchen. There was flour all over the kitchen floor and counter. The sink was filled to the brim with water and other ingredients. And… was that egg on the ceiling? How did William get eggs on the ceiling?
Looking at William with an expression of disbelief and annoyance, the only words that could come out were "What the heck happened to the kitchen?"
Seeing the expression on Steven's face, William immediately explained himself and what was going on. "Well, you see, you know Tim from my Thursday afternoon class?"
"Well, we were working on a project together and then the topic of food enters the conversation. And he said that I couldn't cook anything even if my life depended on it, and I said that I could too. My honor and integrity were on the line. However, he said that he wants proof, so here I am proving him wrong by cooking muffins."
Rubbing his forehead in disbelief, letting out an annoyed groan, Steven took a deep breath and explained to William with the nicest words he can string together. "But he was right, you can't cook to save your life. Anything you cook doesn't come out looking or tasting good. Plus you're not cooking, you're baking. Cooking involves the stove, while baking is associated with the oven."
"Well, I'm going to prove him and you wrong because look at these bad boys that just came out of the oven." William proclaimed excitedly, pointing at the steaming muffins on the counter.
Looking at the muffins, Steven hated to admit it but the muffins William baked looked pretty good. They weren't burned but were a nice shade of golden brown. Leaning closer to them he could smell the aroma of the muffin. It smelled like an actual muffin, not anything else. "I'm not going to lie but I'm impressed. These are the best muffins I have ever seen. Are you sure these aren't store-bought and all you did was put these in the oven to heat up and just made a mess in the kitchen?"
"What? No. These are one-hundred percent William-made and since you're an avid food lover and the cook in our apartment, I'm going to let you try them first. Here, they should be cooled down now." William stated, holding the muffin out towards Steven.
"Are you sure they're not poisoned with anything inedible?" Steven cautiously asked.
"Now, why would I try to kill my best friend?" William sarcastically asked.
"I don't know what goes on in your unpredictable mind. Why don't you eat them first and if you're okay, I'll try them?"
"Oh come on, just try it, please. You're my best friend and plus, I worked hard on these. Have you not seen the kitchen?" William pleaded, showcasing the kitchen in front of him.
Sighing in defeat, Steven took the muffin. "Fine, but if I get sick, you're cleaning the kitchen by yourself."
"Ok, fine. Must you have so little confidence in me and my ability to create edible sustenance?"
"Yes, there's this thing called living and I'll still like to be able to continue doing that, after eating your food."
"Oh, come on, what's the worst that can happen?"
Giving William a look of skepticism, Steven took a small bite out of the muffin. First chew, alright not too bad, very soft and fluffy. Second chew, wait what's this taste, is this spice?! Third chew, wait a minute, why's it so bitter? Fourth chew, wait? Is this a piece of metal in here?! Running towards the trash can, spitting out the muffin. Steven frantically looked for a glass to fill with water to calm down the spice in his mouth. Who put peppers in a muffin anyway? Unable to find a glass, Steven turns on the faucet, drinking the water from there. However, due to the sink being filled to the brim with water, the sinks starts to overflow. Noticing this, Steven immediately turns off the water, finally getting rid of the heat in his mouth.
"Sooo, how were the muffins?" William asked sheepishly, after watching the whole event go down.
Steven was not impressed. Looking at the rest of the muffin that was in his hand and the sink. He had a couple of questions in his mind to ask. "I almost died because of this muffin."
"Well you didn't, see, you're still standing." William tried to reassure.
Looking at the mess in the sink, Steven asked his first question. "So, why is the sink filled to the brim with water?" Pointing his head at the sink beside him.
"Oh, I read somewhere that washing your ingredients before you use them is recommended to get rid of dirt. So I tried to wash the flour too, you know, clean it a bit."
Letting out a disappointed sigh, Steven explained. "Rinsing is for fruits, vegetables, and some meats not flour. I can't believe you clog the sink with flour."
"Sorry, sorry, I'll unclog it when I clean the kitchen."
"Anyway, what's in this muffin? Why was it so spicy and bitter at the same time?"
"Oh, I heard that red peppers were a great source of protein. So, I decided to add a bunch, why not try to make the muffins healthier. I also saw some lady on a cooking show adding in grated up orange peels in a cake, calling it orange zest. She said that it can give your pastries flavor, so why not try to make my muffins more flavorful."
Letting out another disappointing sigh, Steven again explained, trying to clear up any misconceptions. "Peppers don't provide any protein, they provide Vitamin A and C. Proteins are in meats, dairy, and nuts. Yes, grading orange peels for zest, do provide you an orange flavor to your pastries. However, you just need to grade a small portion of the top layer of the peel. If you grade the whole peel it would taste bitter. "
Giving Steven a smile and a thumbs-up, William replied excitedly. "Wow, thanks, Steven. I might use this information the next time I cook."
"There isn't going to be the next time for you. Your ban from cooking in the kitchen. Also, why was a metal nut in the muffin?! I thought you said that you didn't want to kill me."
"Oh, that must've fallen off when I was using the drill to mix the batter. My arms were getting tired of stirring, so I had a bright idea to attach the whisk to the drill to mix the batter. It was quicker, efficient, and saved me like fifteen minutes of stirring."
After hearing all the insanity that went into this muffin, Steven threw the rest of it into the trash. He was tired of his day in classes and William's shenanigans. Steven looked at William one more time, shaking his head in disapproval, and headed into his room. Seeing Steven leave, William asked, "You were kidding when you said I had to clean the kitchen by myself, right?" The sound of a closing door indicated that, yes, William was going to have to clean the kitchen by himself tonight.
*End of Flashback*
After hearing the story, Tobey couldn't help but start laughing not just at his Father's inability to cook but at the reaction of Steven when he ate the muffin. Two-Brains seeing Toby laughing smiled to himself, satisfied that Tobey wasn't sad anymore. However, he had questions to be answered and Tobey was the only one who knew them.
After letting Tobey finish his fit of laughter, Two-Brains asked. "Now since I answered a couple of your questions, could you answer a couple of mines?"
Tobey nodded his head, preparing himself to answer Two-Brains' questions. After Two-Brains cleared his throat, he asked, "I hope this is not too sensitive but how long ago did your father pass?"
Taking in a deep breath, Tobey hesitantly answered. "He passed away around seven years ago. I don't know how though, my mother never told me anything and I was too young to remember. But I think after he died, I guess, mother decided to move from Key City to Fair City for a fresh start."
"I see, so do you know where he's buried?" Two-Brains wondered.
"At Golden Key Memorial, why, do you plan on visiting him?" Tobey inquisitively asked.
Giving a small shrug, Two-Brains solemnly answered back. "Don't know? Maybe after we finish our evil plans or anytime in the future? I just wanted to know."
A silent ambiance filled the room. They had been talking for a while, so obviously, their evil plans were put on hold until tomorrow. Turning to look out the window, Two-Brains can see the bright orange sky and the sun setting behind the city horizon. Turning to look at Tobey who was sitting there in his own thoughts, Two-Brains asked, "Tobey, what time does your mother usually come home from work?"
"Around 7:30, why? Are you about to head out?"
Looking at the clock in the living room, Two-Brains can see that it was 6:45. He better leave if he wanted to beat the traffic or if Tobey's mother came home early unexpectedly. Standing up from the couch and straightening his lab coat, Two-Brains turns to see Tobey standing up too.
"Well, I'm about to head out before your mother comes home wondering why a villain is in her house. How about we continue our evil plans tomorrow, okay?" Two-Brains suggested while walking out the living room to the kitchen doorway.
Tobey, who was following him, replied. "That would be fine since tomorrow is a Sunday, I would be available all day for the building of our robot. Plus, my mother has to leave for work around 8 am tomorrow. However, I would be taking my robot as transportation to your lair. I'm not getting tricked again into getting in that weird outdated van of yours."
Two-Brains, who turned his head back to glare at Tobey, retorted, "You know why I said you can't use your robot to get to my lair, it's located in the middle of the city. Plus, if you want any of your tools back from the back of my "weird outdated van", you better be ready to get picked up at 11 am sharp tomorrow."
Tobey, realizing that he had forgotten that he put most of his tools in the back of Two-Brains' van, was upset that he didn't have much choice in following Two-Brains' demand.
As they entered the garage, Tobey remembered something and nervously asked Two-Brains his final question, "Hey, Doctor Two-Brains. I still have so many more questions about my father, that I know we don't have the time for. However, when you're not busy or have any free time, could you be able to come to my house and talk more about my father with me?
Two-Brains turned to look at Tobey, taking in the request he had asked. Two-Brains didn't mind talking about William and if Tobey wanted to know more about his father, who was he to deny the boy his request. Looking through his lab coat for a pen, Two-Brains asked Tobey, "Do you have a piece of paper or something to write on?"
Pulling out a receipt from his back pocket, Tobey handed it to Two-Brains, who graciously took it. Clicking his pen, Two-Brains quickly wrote his number on the back of the receipt, handing it back to Tobey. "Here, call me anytime you have any questions. However, don't call between the hours from 10 pm to 9 am, I still need sleep. If I don't answer by the second time you call back, I'm either busy or in jail. If I do notice that I missed your call, I will try to call you back as soon as I can. Got it?"
Dumbfounded that Two-Brains actually gave his number to him, Tobey excitedly took the receipt back, ready to prepare more questions to ask Two-Brains. Two-Brains seeing the excitement on Tobey's face, turned to the garage door to head outside to his van. As he got to the driver-side door of his van, a voice from the other side of the van grabbed his attention, "Doctor Two-Brains, thanks for answering my questions."
Getting into his van, Two-Brains turned to the passenger side window to see Tobey standing there with a small smile on his face. "No, problem kid. Just be ready tomorrow when I pick you up, so we can finally start on our evil plans." Nodding his head, Tobey watched as Two-Brains started the van and headed off.
It was around 3 am, another one of those sleepless nights Two-Brains was experiencing. Either due to pulling an all-nighter for an evil plan or just because of his mild insomnia, Two-Brains wasn't going to get much sleep tonight. However, those reasons aren't why he was still awake, jumping a small fence Two-Brains didn't want to be seen in another city, so trespassing in at night was his only option. Shoving his hands into his pockets, Two-Brains followed the small path leading up to the gravesite. Looking row after row of graves, Two-Brains finally found the name that he was looking for.
Theodore William McCallister
Born: June 25, 1969
Died: November 30th, 2000
Beloved Father and Husband, You Will Be Missed.
Two-Brains didn't know why he was here. Again, he didn't know William, he just had memories of him but something in him was forcing him to come here. Was it him feeling obligated to come? Was it Steven forcing him to say his goodbyes for him? He didn't know, but what he did know was that this wasn't his goodbye to be said. Even though the grass was wet, Two-Brains didn't care as he sat down in front of the grave. Letting out a deep sigh, Two-Brains came to a decision, he wasn't a monster and would let him say goodbye one last time. "You have twenty minutes before you have to go back." Two-Brains explained.
Closing his eyes, Two-Brains took a deep breath and hummed himself into a trance-like state. Opening his eyes, he could see the clear sky showing the shining stars above him. Looking at the stars, they reminded him of his student, "She has gotten stronger over the years, hasn't she? I bet she'll become the greatest hero the world will come to see." He thought to himself.
A small smile fell upon his lips, it has been a while since he got to see anything from his own eyes, do anything with his own body actually. Staring at the grave in front of him, he slowly reached out to touch the engravings, feeling each embedded letter in the smooth cold black stone, he couldn't help but let a couple of tears fall. It has been so long since he has felt anything and the first thing he gets to feel in two years are the letters etched on his good friend's grave. It didn't help that he was on a time limit, he had so much to say.
"Hey, William. Long time no see, huh. There's so much to talk about." Steven finally spoke.