There weren’t supposed to be police cars.
That was the first thought to shoot through his head as he stumbled to a stop in the parking lot. There weren’t supposed to be police cars. Everything was fine. He’d only been gone an hour, tops. They said everything would be fine.
It would only be the first time Thomas Phillips would have his hopes dashed like this.
He swallowed hard, making his way up to the officer standing outside the door. “Uh, s-sir, wh-”
“Please, just go, mister-?”
“Ph-Phillips. Sir. Uh…” He shoved the hands into his windbreaker, partly out of shyness, but also to call attention to the company’s logo printed on its lapel. “I-I work here, a-and, um, I was running an errand, s-so…”
“You don’t know.” The officer sighed. “There was an accident with one of the animatronics. Now that you mention it, we’re going to have to interview you as well, I guess.” The officer sighed again-he seems so tired-and took out a notepad. “I’m going to need your name, address, phone number-if you have one-and position here at Freddy Fazbear’s.”
“Oh, uh-” He scratched the back of his neck, then struggled to speak up. “Ah, Thomas Phillips. I-I didn’t have any official title-I-I’ve been helping out with whatever the boss needs until the real location opens.”
“Ah, y-yeah. This, uh, is a reopened version, based on the original restaurant from the seventies, to-” He froze, abandoning the spiel as he caught sight of the inside of the pizzeria.
“T-to fund the new location downtown…” Thomas fought back a gag as he saw just how many people in scrubs and protective suits were pacing the restaurant. “What…” He tried to move for the window, but the officer held out an arm in front of him. “P-please, sir, y-y’gotta tell me… who got hurt.” He gasped, then grabbed the officer’s arm, adding. “P-Please, uh, i-it wasn’t one of the kids, was it?!”
The officer clearly hesitated, looking over all six-feet-plus swaying and threatening to fall apart in front of him. Finally, he sighed, looking away. “I’m not supposed to say, but... His name was Layton Doll.”
Thomas felt his throat close up, his nails digging into the other’s arm. The officer tried to hold steady as he continued, “One of the animatronics must’ve malfunctioned. No employees were around, but some o’ the boys saw it bend over and-”
“Where’s his family?”
The officer raised an eyebrow. “I-I dunno. I wasn’t here ‘til recently. I assume at the hospital-”
“Th-there would’ve been five people total.” All of a sudden, Thomas seemed to know everything. Of course he did. He knew him. “The mother is Amy Doll-Weston, older brother Eric Doll, a-and step-father Devin and…” He trailed off, stepping back. “...a-a-and, uh, step-brother Ross Weston.”
Oh, god, Ross… I’m so sorry.
The officer must’ve caught on, because he dropped his head and murmured a condolence.
The boss would open the door and call Thomas in, to sign a few things and answer a few questions. The whole walk to the back office, he'd keep his eyes focused forward, fighting to keep them from wandering to the pool of blood next to Fredbear’s stage.
It would take a surprisingly short amount of time for the new and improved restaurant to finally open.
"Surprised it didn't take longer," Ross muttered, turning over the memo in his hands. He passed it back to Thomas, who shrugged. Ross sighed, resting his chin in one hand. "And, what, you got that just for bein' just a pleasure to work with at the last place?"
Thomas chuckled to himself. "Uh, yeah, I-I guess! I-I was enough of a help, and, um, th-the boss said he'd make sure I got a job at the new place even last year-y'know, when I started."
"Yeah." Ross let his eyes wander to the blank side of the paper that was facing him. He shook his head, wanting to be happy for Thomas but also not wanting to think of that place.
"Amy, please, it's not his fault!"
"How?! Do you even care, Devin?! He let his brother die!"
It wasn't like they thought of me as a brother, Ross thought, picking at his own hand. Their parents had only been married a year at that point-together for maybe three. He'd known that Eric and Layton would never see him as a brother. He'd accepted it.
Didn't make it hurt any less when Layton died.
When that damned bear killed him.
He wanted to be happy for Thomas. He wanted to be a good friend, the way Thomas had back when the accident happened-rushing into the hospital waiting room with tears in his own eyes, arranging for the two to share an apartment after Ross's stepmother refused to let him stay at her house, pouring as much of his soul into Ross's job hunt as Ross did. And Ross really was happy for Thomas, in a way-he'd get to work in a place he'd loved for years now, as odd a topic of interest as it was.
But why does it have to be there?
"Uh, R-Ross?" He looked up, seeing Thomas standing over him, concern etched into his features. "I-I'm sorry, I- um, I shouldn't have said anything..."
"N-no, it's fine." Ross forced a smile-because despite himself, he was happy for Thomas. He'd get to be a part of something. He'd be helping to turn all this around to something good.
...but is there any real reason I can't join him?
"Hey, Thomas." The taller man hummed inquiringly, and Ross sighed. "Do'ya think they're be any open positions at Fazbear's? I mean, if you can vouch for me, and I need the job-"
After all, what better way is there to convince myself that nothing like that'll ever happen again than to stand watch myself?
"Uh, oh-!" Thomas reeled back a bit, but smiled. "A-actually, I heard they, uh, s-still needed a few folks for the security guard team..."