You will come back to me, once this is done.
rating: +24+x

The old man woke up in a strange bed, in an unfamiliar room. He stood up and walked away from the bed, to the broken window; a street with a name he couldn't recall spread out before him. Although he'd never seen this city before, the gloom which outlined a thousand other towns was present here as well. Men and women with their heads downcast walked slowly across the lane, bumping into children with elated looks on their faces and store owners chasing after them to recover stolen goods. An emaciated mongrel sitting beside an equally gaunt beggar yawned, stretching out its legs before trotting away, crossing paths with a woman who was clinging on to the tails of a man's coat as she screamed his name.

The smell of tobacco wafted into the room, carrying with it foreign scents. He put on his jacket; it was a cold day outside. You're missing something. He pulled his hand away from the door knob and, realising what was missing, pulled it off the rack and placed it snugly on his head. With collars raised and cap pulled over his eyes, he left the room.

He had an appointment.

In the distance he heard the sky ripping apart, making way for the planes. The chop of their propellers like eager soldiers marching off to the fray, risking their lives for a cause they believed in but did not fully understand. The rumble of the steam engine echoed his steps as he walked slowly to the park.

Checking his watch periodically, he smiled. It was certainly a very pleasant walk. It reminded him of a day just like this, almost five decades ago.

Finally reaching his destination, the old man sat down beside a very young and handsome one wearing only a singlet and a pair of worn black trousers.

"Hello, son. Weather's good, eh?"

The young man looked up from a newspaper with the words CONSCRIPTION NOTICE in bold. He seemed surprised to find the old man beside him, but the shock gradually shifted into a friendly smile.

"Yes, sir."

"What brings you out here?"

"Getting a few things for my ma, she can't walk so I'm out every day to collect rations from Mr. Billy down the road."

"You didn't bring a jacket?"

"Got caught in a scuffle yesterday and my jacket ripped. I'm getting Jesse to fix 'er up for me, sir," the young man's face brightened as he mentioned his sweetheart. Suddenly, a curious look appeared on his face. Setting down the notice in his hand, he asked the old man a question.

"Sir, I don't mean to pry, but I've never seen you 'round these parts. It's a small town, so we know each other pretty well."

"I'm just visiting." The old man hesitated, trying to recall a name from his past. "I'm… Gunther's father, do you know the lad?"

"Gunther! Sir, you should've told me earlier, we're best mates. He never mentioned you, though." The young man squinted his eyes in doubt.

"We aren't too fond of each other; last time I was here, we had a fight. He wants to get out of this town, but he's got no experience with hard work! He's a lazy ass, in fact. I'm surprised he's mine."

"I see! You… must be a very respectable man, sir."

"I must be." The old man let out a wistful chuckle.

"What's so funny, sir?"

"Nothing, son. Just remembering old times."

The leaves on the trees shivered, dislodging snow and drifting away on the frigid wind. The paths of two tiny crystals of ice intertwined, assimilating into a single large flake. The old man's face became serious. He took out a small piece of paper and handed it to the young man.

"What is this?"

"Think of it as a will that I'm including you in."

"But, sir! We barely know each other, we've only talked for a bit, I couldn't…! Don't you have Gunt-"

"Oh, shut up. Of course I wouldn't give away everything to a stranger! Well, you're not exactly a stranger, but… who do you take me for?"

"…Sorry."

The dejected-looking young man pouted as he took the small piece of paper from the old man's shaking hands. It bore an insignia he didn't recognise: a small circle with three pronged lines pointing inwards, encased within a thin circular outline. Below the symbol, the paper read 'Classified information — open only with permission from Fritzgerald Wilson (the Administrator)'.

"What are you waiting for, son?"

"T-that's my name!"

"So? Can't I have the same name as you?"

"Oh. Then you must be… the Administrator?"

"Yes."

"What's this about?"

"The transfer of a family business. To you."

"I can't accept it! Gunther would be furious if he found out his buddy got the rights instead of him… that's not something a father should do!" The young man stood up suddenly, ready to leave.

"Firstly, you don't get to tell me what kind of a father I should be. I'm fifty years your senior! Secondly, you're such a stupid brat, the thing about Gunther was a lie. Sit down, right now."

"I just needed to hear it from, you, sir." The young man grinned, satisfied that he'd managed to blow the old man's cover.

"So you knew, eh? It doesn't matter. Just read the note." The old man's tone was sharp, punctuating the silence of the park where only the two of them sat. The young man hesitated.

"What are you waiting for?" The old man nudged him.

The young man's expressions shifted from confusion to bewilderment as his gaze travelled over the words on the unfolded paper. Wide-eyed, he looked up at the old man.

"Is all of this… real?"

"As real as the war, son."

The young man buried his face in his hands, and he seemed to despair for a moment. Then, he started trembling, his body heaving in short ragged bursts. Then a small snicker escaped from under his hands. The snicker turned into a giggle, which in turn transformed into a chuckle and finally a hearty guffaw.

The old man smiled. He'd chosen well.

"I knew it! The whole reason this war is happening; it isn't some stupid territorial dispute! I was planning to enlist, to see the epicentre of all this chaos… I've been doing my own investigation, you know. But now," the young man paused to let out a boyish laugh. "But now! This changes everything."

The smile on the old man's face folded over like melting tallow. Standing up, he turned to the young man and looked down from above. What a mighty shadow he casts! the young man thought. It seemed ill-fitting for someone so frail.

"I remember a time when i was just as inquisitive as you, son. When you're young and fit you think you're brave because you have the liberty to give your life away. Would it be brave to give up that life when there's so much more work to be done? To be frank, it's not an easy job. You won't be a pawn anymore, a mere plaything for the government to control. You'll be the biggest fish in the pond, and you'll be the one sending young respectable men and women to their deaths because of your own desire to see the scientific marvels this world is hiding."

The old man sat back down on the bench. Letting out a long sigh, he slouched into the seat like a deflating balloon.

"I've never been in a war, you know? I sit there, in my nice office, pushing buttons and turning the cogs of this huge machine. Let the monsters that roam this land ravage and tear me apart! But never humans. The worst thing in my job is shredding letters and notes from the loved ones of people I have sent to their death, and not my experiences with the monsters in these lands. It's too much pressure for one man. I've only chosen you because I don't want anyone else to suffer."

The young man listened quietly.

"Son, you cannot do this alone. I've only chosen you because I don't want anyone else to suffer. Just us."

The young man stared into the old man's blue eyes. How like a mirror, the old man's face. How many people did he know who refracted his own light back to him? How rarely did other's faces reflect the same expressions, his innermost trembling thoughts?

The more the young man lost himself in the older man's eyes, the more he saw what a great power the other had. Every thought and emotion the young man had was laid bare in front him. How long had they been talking? Only five minutes, but he felt as if they'd known each other their entire lives.

"I… see," Fritzgerald whispered silently. As soon as he blinked the old man was gone, leaving in his wake nothing but the snowflakes that dissolved in the warmth of someone who had once existed.

Fritzgerald, clutching his knees, stood up.

"Guess the world doesn't like it when there's two of us, sir."

Just as Fritzgerald was about to stuff the document into his pocket, he noticed a few scrawls on the back of the paper. He read the lines slowly.

To Mr Fritzgerald Wilson:

You've become the Administrator of this timeline's SCP Foundation.


You'll know what to do soon.

P.S. Stay home on the day you're supposed to enlist. O5-1 will meet you then. Remember: It ain't a one-man fight.

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