Challenge #00963-B232: Love and Hate and Love Again...

Dunno what this is from originally, but I saw it on Tumblr in a few places, and figured you’d make something awesome from it…


“They say ‘You can’t love someone unless you love yourself first.' Bullshit. I have never loved myself. But you - oh god, I loved you so much… that I somehow forgot what hating myself felt like.”

(Prompt from ChaosWolf1982 on Tumblr)

There were days, aching days when the rain made his entire, misshapen body hurt, that he remembered what it was like to have been smart. He got angry with himself. Shut himself away where there weren't any reflective surfaces, and let his heart hurt him, too.

Norman should have been grateful. Walter Manor had taken him in when the rest of the world would rather have shot at him. They made sure he was at least comfortable. Treated him kindly. Saw him as a person.

But nobody could stop this kind of hurt. The hurts that reminded him of The Core Incident. Of everything he had ruined because he'd been curious.

He'd just wanted to know how the core worked. He and Ignatious had picked Rabbit because it was the first. The simplest. It had been easy to disable the automaton and remove the core. They couldn't know what would happen when they tried to crack its secrets.

They couldn't have known that a core without its body would share its nightmares through time and space.

He had once dreamed of being as handsome as Professor Hottie. Now the rest of his life was a nightmare. He was a nightmare.


No. Not her. Anyone but her.

He wanted to say, I killed your husband. I ruined your family. I wrecked the universe, but his addled brain wouldn't let him. He said, "Go away, I'm hurting people."

Wanda said, "It's the rain, isn't it? I remember it was raining when..."

When she lost her father and her husband and nearly lost her uncle. "...i'm hurting," he whimpered.

Her hand was soft and warm against his skin. Gentle and careful.

Norman risked a peek with his regular eye. He couldn't understand why she looked at him like that. Like... she knew he was suffering. It had almost been twenty years, and she still looked as young as she had... when he had limped into the mansion. Peter Walter the Third draped over his shoulder and Rabbit's core clutched in his good hand. When all he could say was 'sorry' for an entire month.

And on stormy days like this... he remembered loving her from afar.

What business did she have being kind and considerate and helpful to him? He'd wrecked her entire world. He could understand if she yelled at him. Threw things. Called him a monster like the rest of the world did. But weeping? In sympathy?

Norman reached up with his left hand, catching one of her tears. "I make you cry," he said. "I'm hurting."

"I'm crying for you, dummins," she murmured, moving around so she could face him. "It's been eighteen years. You're allowed to stop hurting yourself because of what happened." One of her hands found his most-normal hand. The other gently brushed his face.

He pushed that hand away. Let the lobster claws on the ends of his fingers nip and bite his face. "Monster," he said. "Hurt the monster."

"No," she said. Something slipped over his right hand. An oven mit. "Forgive the monster." She kissed what was left of his nose.

He stared at her. Norman wanted to say, I hurt you. I hurt your family. I hurt the world. I deserve this pain. But he couldn't. All he could focus on was how much lighter he felt for being kissed. He touched where she'd kissed him, half-expecting magic to wrap him up and turn him human.

No such luck.

The proper words came at last in a rare moment of perfect lucidity. "You... made me stop hating me."

"Good," she whispered, and snuggled into his lap.

The rain didn't stop, but the pain did.

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