Author: Kyrotec PM
Takes place a few years after the movie. As teenagers, Hel and Toe start dating, and Mr. Black becomes more and more overbearing. Not an M, but maybe a T plus ?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Helvetica B. & Toe T. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 17,814 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 06-09-11 - Published: 01-02-11 - id: 6616063
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This fic takes place in the future at about the time when all the main characters have just started high school, making most of them about 14-15 years old. If you are the type of person who doesn't like things that take place in the future, get out and go back to the main page. Hel and Toe are starting out this story as boyfriend and girlfriend, so I figure I kind of skipped right through all the 'Does he/she like me that way?' kind of stuff. If you like that, I might go back and look for a better fic. In this story, they pretty much do. This fic is supposed to be suggestive, so keep that in mind as you read. There may be continuations of this story (depends on how much time I have) so I hope you enjoy. Here we go.
Chapter One - Always a First
Toe bounced into the third seat from the front of the bus and carefully tucked his backpack under the seat. He flattened a hand against the vinyl in the unoccupied section of the chair and prayed that some jerk wouldn't come along and try to sit on it. Laser and Lug bounded past him, followed by Loogie, who frowned as he approached Toe and found that he did not make room in the seat again.
"Really?" He whined, rubbing his fingertips across the blond stubble on his chin. Loogie had been one of the first boys in their class to grow facial hair, and now that he had it he didn't show any interest in shaving. "Can't I squeeze in, too?"
"Sorry, this seat is taken," Toe repeated, the same way he had each day since the school year started, "and, you know what today is..."
Loogie thought for a moment, then his eyes lit up with recognition and his usual jovial, supportive self returned, "Oh YEAH!" He grinned at Toe, then slugged him in the shoulder, "Awesome, man! Let me know how it is!"
Toe didn't bother to watch as Loogie raced to the back of the bus and plunked down into a vacant seat. His mind was elsewhere. Today for Toby was a very special day. In particular, it was the first day in a year and a half that he had been invited over to his girlfriend's house. To his rapturous enthusiasm, he and Helvetica had finally started dating at the tail end of their eighth grade year and had started high school as an official couple. The "F-ing finally!" sentiment was one he shared with his sister, who he was happy to see had moved out, and was living moderately but comfortably, on her own. He would go to visit her sometimes and he found she was a little easier to talk to about relationship-related issues than his parents or most of his friends, the majority of whom didn't have girlfriends and had only just grown beyond teasing him about his. Still he counted himself as very fortunate for having one, especially after he had spent years harboring a crush on her and finally, after years of prodding and plying, had gotten her to admit she liked him, too.
Their first kiss had been as violent and passionate as anything else Helvetica ever did. After the eighth grade school dance, he and Helvetica had ridden back to her house and spent some time strolling aimlessly around the outside on the property. They talked alone for a while but eventually Toe started to get the feeling that Helvetica was trying to lead him someplace. It turned out that she was circling back to the decorative fountain at the front of the Black's driveway. It was a large, ornate fountain, illuminated by fiber optics that changed color and made the water glow in a rainbow of colors- primarily purple. He guessed she thought the setting was "romantic," like something she saw in a movie somewhere, and he wasn't too surprised when she yanked him forcefully into her arms and met him with a gripping kiss on the lips. The kiss lasted about nine seconds (he had been counting) before Hel began to playfully flick her tongue on the edge of his lips. He had opened his mouth just a little to accept the invitation…
Then Mr. Black pulled up in his limousine… and Helvetica pushed him into the fountain.
He had been very careful, when relaying the story to Loogie, to retell that particular series of events as "I fell," because he knew if the story ever got back around to Helvetica, he would be short one girlfriend. She was very sensitive about it had already apologized to him several times over in the time between then and now. He supposed he didn't mind it so much.
He didn't know exactly the relationship between Helvetica and her father, but he did know that this was his first time being allowed to visit the mansion since they had started going out, and that he, like most boyfriends, found it very awkward to be around his girlfriend while her father was in the room. He also didn't know how Mr. Black had responded to the news of their relationship, as Helvetica had never taken the time to relay the story to him.
Helvetica's eyes met his as she climbed into the school bus cab. She made a beeline for the seat he was saving and dropped into it with a strange gracefulness. After she had rearranged her bookbag on the floor to her own satisfaction, she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
"Hey," she said softly, dark eyes flashing behind her long eyelashes. "You saved a seat for me?"
"I always save a seat for you," he teased back. Everyone knew that Helvetica, who lived only a half-mile away and had a fleet of towncars and Hum-V's at her beck-and-call, only rode the bus so she could spend an extra twenty minutes a day throwing suggestive banter at her boyfriend. "Maybe I should let Loogie stay next time and you can ride on my lap."
She took a playful swipe at him, mostly to disguise the fact that she was blushing, and started to play with his shirt collar. "So," she spoke tentatively, "When you're over at my house today, and you see my father…"
"I know, I know… step forward, hold out my hand, speak up and re-introduce myself—just in case he's forgotten who I am," finished Toe with a confident smirk.
"He does forget. Also it might impress him. I know he's friends with your dad and all, but he doesn't expect much from you, yet- I think he'd like to be able to say you have 'potential.'"
Toe smiled and draped his arm around her. She sighed and rested her head against his shoulder. As she stared idly out the window, he had a minute to take in what she was wearing, including a pleated grey skirt, tennis shoes, and a multicolored argile vest worn over a shimmering black blouse.
The skirt was not nearly as interesting as the length of leg it left revealed. Ignoring some of the more vulgar prompting from Laser, who was seated two rows back and was obviously bored out of his mind, Toe placed his hand gently on Helvetica's knee and let it slide towards the hem of her skirt. She stirred to life as his fingers brushed along her thigh muscle and halted him before he reached some of her her more forbidden areas with a simple but chilling, "Don't you dare." Still she smiled at him a knowing smile, and since he'd only been teasing her anyway, he quickly withdrew his hand and moved it a safe distance away.
When they arrived at the mansion, to Toe's relief, they could not find Mr. Carbon Black anywhere on the ground floor, which meant he did not have to re-introduce himself to Black Falls' most prominent business man. Helvetica led him around by the hand, always two steps ahead, with her neck craning around as she searched every corner of every space they wandered into, as if she expected something different to pop out at her. Eventually, she led him upstairs into a long, narrow, but neatly decorated hallway with multiple doors shooting off to each side. It reminded Toe of those chases always happened in cartoons, where a monster or villain would chase the heroes through a maze of doors until everyone was so mixed up they couldn't remember who they had been chasing before. There was only one exception, and that was that two of the doors were very clearly personalized in the unique styles of Cole and Helvetica to mark the entrance to their respective rooms. The closest door on the left, very plainly and obviously labeled "Cole's Room," was where the teenager it referenced emerged from next.
Cole was very tall, he had remained much taller than Toe, and his athletic frame was wrapped in lean muscle with some extra padding up in the shoulders. He had continued his impressively formal, if bizarre, Goth/Jock style of dress into high school, and as Toe saw him now he noticed that an awful lot of care had been put into selecting his current slapdash Punk (that was the only way he could describe it) ensemble, which was a stiff collared shirt and tie under a faded black T-shirt and acid-wash black jeans with thick black combat boots to match. He locked the door to his bedroom with a key on the end of a bike lock chain and then took a step back, removing the key and shoving it into his pocket so that a few inches of the chain still stuck out. Even though he made eye contact with both of them, Toe's appearance seemed to be of little consequence. "Hel, I need to talk to you," he sniffed.
Toe tried to, but was unable to make eye contact with Helvetica. She kept her back to him, seemingly trying to create a barrier between him and Cole. "I'm busy," she hissed, giving a slight tug on Toe.
Cole's gaze rolled over Toe again, then locked on Helvetica, "So I see." His voice had laughter in it, which Helvetica clearly did not appreciate. She sniffed loudly in reply then Toe felt her give his hand a tight squeeze before she tried to lead him further down the hallway.
Cole threw his arm out, blocking her path, "Where's my mod?" he barked. Toe knew he was referring to the "Model Module," the latest addition to the Black Inc. line of gadgets. The ModMod was a personal utility device like the Black Box, with the only difference being that the blue compact catered specifically to the social needs of a teenage audience. This simplified version of the Black Box was perfect for someone like Cole, who was not very creative or intuitive, and who only had one method of recourse for getting it back from his sister, "Where is it, Hel? Give it to me or I'll tell Dad."
"Go ahead, then I'll tell him how you really wrecked your motorcycle," she retorted, tartly.
Toe noticed as Cole blanched slightly, then struggled to regain his voice, "Th-That's not fair! You promised!"
"I didn't promise. I said I wouldn't tell him. I didn't use the word 'promise,' anywhere."
"You snitch," Cole growled. "You can't do that. You know he'd never let me get another one!"
"I don't have to snitch if you don't have to," she said tauntingly.
"Fine. But you know you don't have to go through all the same things to get what YOU want from Dad!"
"YOU don't have to put up with two cameras in your room, or a pressure sensor under your BED!" she hissed. This set Cole back a bit.
"Dad seriously put a sensor under your bed?" He inquired, mouth agape. When she nodded, uncomfortably, he threw an amused glance at Toby. "Wow. I guess dad really doesn't trust YOU, huh?" He threw his head back and laughed. Seeming satisfied with the turn this conversation had taken, he gave them one last mocking scan before sliding away, "I'll see you, Hel. Later, Toejam." With that he marched off down the hall.
Toe winced. Cole's insults had only gotten minutely more creative since sixth grade. The interaction had obviously made Helvetica intensely irate. She turned and kicked the baseboard with a soft growl before continuing on down the hallway.
When they arrived at Helvetica's room he was surprised how small, though still much larger than his, it was. It had changed some since he had been over in recent years, and now the décor was somewhere between a teenaged Alice-in-Wonderland and fairy princess bedroom- sort of like Queen Titania meets the Mad-Hatter's tea party. Everything, including the bedspread, was either red and purple or black and white.
Helvetica strode casually into the room, and dumped her bookbag onto the small, twin canopy bed tucked into the corner. Toe noticed it had a base that went all the way down to the floor, so there was no room to put anything underneath it.
He glanced towards the doorway, "Were you serious about the cameras?" he inquired, nervously.
She seemed indifferent to his panic. She nodded in the direction of two large, dome-like objects sticking out of the wall above her desk and dresser. "Yep. There's two of them, so Dad and his security drones can check up on me at all hours of the day." She agitatedly threw a book from her bookbag onto the floor, enjoying the loud "thud" it made as it hit the carpet. Toe still felt a bit disoriented.
"How do you get dressed? With people watching you, I mean?" he asked, confused.
She turned to him, eyebrows arched, and pointed towards the closet. "There. It doesn't have any surveillance, so I get dressed in there."
Toe nodded thoughtfully, then checked himself and retreated quietly to a corner of the room. He found himself eyeing the two cameras with extreme dislike in the moments where he wasn't watching Helvetica.
"Does your dad have any devices that can read thoughts?" he half-joked, watching his girlfriend's skirt flutter slightly as she bent over to straighten the bedspread.
"They're still in development. Should be out next month," she replied, monotone. As she straightened and faced him he realized that he wasn't sure whether or not she had been joking. Her blank expression wasn't helping, either. She tilted her head to the side, observing him with what he could only guess was amusement and returned to stacking her clothes at the end of her bed. "Anything over 180 pounds and it sets off a silent alarm," she remarked idly about the bed. Until now, Toby had been trying not to blush and somehow picked this precise moment to fail in his control; he watched Helvetica smirk as the color crept into his face. She stepped forward and gently took his hand.
"Come on," she ordered, more than requested, "Let's go in here."
She led him to the closet and practically pushed him inside. Toe was surprised to find that it did not look anything like any closet he had ever seen. Everything was a fluorescent lime green and black except for Helvetica's clothes, which hung neatly on the stainless steel racks in the wall insets of the cylindrical chamber. She shut the door tightly and plopped down on the carpeted floor, which Toe would not have even known was carpeted had she not grasped his arm and pulled him onto it in the next instant.
There was a moment of silence while the two looked at each-other and the zest of finally being alone, without surveillance, set in. Helvetica was the first to make a move, eyes twinkling, as she carefully positioned herself in front of him. Toe felt his mouth drying out as he watched her, scanning her movements as if he were afraid she would strike like a cobra. She lifted her hand and gently placed it on his knee, looking deep into his eyes. He was pretty sure he knew what she was thinking, and for no reason that he could understand, decided to stall.
"Maybe I should go find your dad? I feel kind of bad about not introducing myself to him earlier."
Helvetica's only response was to roll her eyes, "He knows you," she breathed. "At least on a superficial level. I just meant you should introduce yourself if we happened to run into him, so he doesn't think I was just sneaking you up to my room for a prospective makeout session."
"Really?" Toe grinned, getting the small hint she had let slip in. "That wasn't what you were going for?"
She struck him in the temple with a rather restrained blow, then leaned in and placed her lips on his. He surrendered happily, wrapping his arms around her and allowing her to twist and turn through them as she plowed his mouth with her toungue. After a moment, they pulled away, sweating and panting.
Helvetica looked him up and down, surveying his currently heaving body. She placed her index finger delicately on the bridge of his sternum, in the center of his chest, making chills run up and down his spine.
"He wouldn't like to find us like this," she murmured sadly.
"Who, your Dad?" gasped Toe, struggling for air, and trying to ignore the circles she was tracing on his chest.
She nodded, and kept tracing. Growing tired of the teasing, he hoarsely spit out, "What's he going to do? Spank you?"
Helvetica's eyes flashed and she pulled her hand back. For a second, Toe thought she might be angry. Instead, she smiled a small half-smile and gazed at him through her lashes as she responded, "No. He doesn't do that." Toe's eyebrows arched, and he stared quizzically at his girlfriend. She answered the question he wasn't even sure he'd thought about, "He uses shocks. Small ones. Like what you get from licking a battery." She returned her hands to his body and began smoothing her fingertips across his chest to feel it.
"You want to know something?" She leaned in, seductive. "I've never been spanked. Not once."
He wasn't sure what effect this statement was supposed to have, so he nodded, cautiously, and shrugged, "I guess that explains something…"
She ignored the minor shot, staring intently into his eyes. He pursed her lips, sensually, and whispered, "I think you should try it."
Toe recoiled, at least as much as he was able to with Hel sitting right on top of him. He wasn't sure if the suggestion had aroused or repulsed him, so he tried to take it in good humor by replying, "You're kidding."
She quickly leaned into his face, making up the distance he had put between them, "I trust you," she whispered, as seductively as she was able.
Toe glanced towards the closet door, which was firmly closed, as Helvetica eased herself off. She sat on folded knees a few feet away, watching him, her face in almost a pout. She surveyed his body, making sure he noticed the direction her eyes were headed, until finally in his stupor, he blurted out, "Okay."
She crawled over to him, grinning like the Cheshire cat, and threw herself over his knees. She wriggled until she was relatively comfortable, her face towards the carpet, and left Toe getting far more than his fair share of a close-up of her curves. He focused especially on the round form shielded only by a layer of grey skirt pleats. He hesitated to disturb any of it, but was soon propelled into action by Helvetica's bored growl.
He lifted his hand and brought it down on the soft padding of her rear, causing Helvetica to jump slightly. She didn't say anything, only bolted upright for a few seconds, and then lowered her head with a soft moan. Toe steadied his hand above her, eyeing her suspiciously for any clue that he was supposed to stop. Waiting and seeing none, he brought it down again, this time making a very audible slap that, to his mild horror, seemed to echo throughout the closet space. Helvetica didn't seem to notice, or mind that much, and only produced some kind of soft, nonverbal guttural noise that was muffled by her hair. For the third time, Toe raised his hand and lowered the boom on her. It was just as hard, if not harder, than the time before, and he felt a slight tremor course through her body in response. Lying still, she moaned softly. He repeated the motions a few times over, increasing in intensity each time, until he could feel a warmth, and her body trembling slightly.
"Should I stop?" He whispered cautiously. There was almost no response, but Helvetica eventually managed to indicate the answer was 'no." Toe frowned slightly, and returned to the same. He swung his arm, this time, making sure the impact was firm and felt by Helvetica, who bolted upright after the first one, then began moaning as the strikes increased.
"Don't… stop…" she whispered, hoarse. He could see that beads of sweat were forming on her brow. He struggled with the syntax at first, but ended up guessing, correctly, that she wanted him to continue with the "punishment." She confirmed this as time went on, with various cries of praise in the midst of her stimulation. He, meanwhile had become greatly shocked by the sharp erotic turn this had taken, and was beginning to feel a little guilty. He felt even guiltier as he realized he had swung a little harder than he intended to, making Helvetica jump again. She recovered quickly, however, collapsing into the carpet and groaning as he continued his barrage.
That guilt changed to red-faced shame when he looked up and saw Cole, standing in the doorway to the closet, gaping, pale-faced and horror-struck at what was being done to his sister. Somehow, in the interim, Hel and Toe had failed to notice him enter the closet space, and it was clear from the look on his face that he had allowed the "show" to go on before him for some time without drawing attention to his presence.
As Toe froze with a hand in the air, Helvetica stirred and looked around, curious, and was met with an obvious shock at having spotted her brother. For a while, she didn't even look at Toe, but did her best to pull herself together, panting, and lifted herself off of his lap. Toe watched apprehensively as she climbed to her feet.
"Cole…" she began, carefully. Toe was not sure what she was about to do, but Cole stopped her short, anyway.
"Don't even try," he advised her. Amidst his otherwise shocked expression, a shrewd smile tugged at the corners of Cole's lips, and he let out a dry whisper, "Oh Helvetica, I'm telling…"
Her face fell instantly, and Cole quickly bolted from the room, intending to make good on his threat. Toe got to his feet and addressed a nearly comatose, shocked, and humiliated Helvetica, "What do you want to do?"
She took a deep breath in before responding, dully, "You need to get out of here." Her voice was weak and hoarse, and Toe wondered what kind of trouble she would soon be in. Springing back to life, she bolted out of the closet and snapped up his backpack from the floor before forcing it into his hands and pushing him out the door to her room. She guided him to the front staircase, instructing him on the way to run out the front door and "don't look back." The only semblance of a goodbye she gave him was the slamming of the heavy ornate door at the front of the Black's mansion, and he promptly disobeyed her orders of "don't look back," watching her retreat up the staircase through the glass.
When he got home, he flopped down on his bed, having briefly questioned his parents and found out they knew nothing of the incident, well, yet. He had to admit he felt more than a little embarrassed at having helped his girlfriend get into trouble and as he eyed his black box on the nightstand he thought, maybe just one call wouldn't hurt…
Helvetica could hear her father coming down the hall as she sat, quasi-helplessly, in her room, waiting for the boom to fall. She could hear Cole's excited chatter and guessed that he must have gotten past the awkward part of what he had to say and had moved steadily on to "how are you going to punish her?"
He followed behind Mr. Black as they entered her room, like an eager magpie, squawking various "details" he would like Helvetica to believe he had forgotten until now, and obviously hoping to influence his father's decision about her treatment. From the look on his face, Helvetica could tell that Cole had already done more than enough to convince their father of what he had seen. She shivered at Carbon Black's dark eyes, which surveyed her guilty countenance in a kind of forced indifference.
"Helvetica," he addressed her, the placid, icy tone of his voice silencing Cole, "Is this all true?"
Helvetica spared a glance over at Cole, feeling disgusted at the sheer joy he seemed to be deriving from this. Clearly, he wasn't going to help her, so she had to help herself.
"No," she replied, as calmly as she could.
"Really?" inquired Mr. Black rhetorically as he circled the girl's room. Hel noticed him cast a prolonged, dissecting look over at the closet, where the door was wide open.
He's looking for Toe, Hel realized, excited, he must not have been watching the security feed. Seizing her chance, she took a deep breath and responded, "Really. Cole's just making it up because I stole his ModMod."
This prompted Mr. Black to turn an abrupt, icy gaze on Cole, "Is that so?"
Cole fumbled for a response, unable facially or otherwise, to deny this motivation, "Uh, she DID steal it… but, but I didn't make it up, I swear!" he stammered.
Black returned to Helvetica, "I see. Helvetica, where is it?"
Helvetica bit her lip and gestured with her upper body, not thrilled to be giving up her prize. Still, she knew it was necessary. "Over there. Third drawer. In the bat socks."
Cole made a move for the dresser and was stopped short by an intense warning glare from Mr. Black, who, only after his son had halted, strode calmly over to the vanity and retrieved the item himself. He held out Helvetica's sock as if it were a tainted item, and shook it gently over the carpet until Cole's purple ModMod tumbled out. After this he briefly nodded to Cole, who then scrambled over to the device and retrieved it- like a dog going for table scraps.
Helvetica could only look into her father's eyes, drowning in his piercing gaze as Cole retreated to some far corner of the room. She noticed his jaw muscles clenching, and suspected his next statement would be about her deceit. "Young lady," he said softly, "Do you honestly expect me to believe that your brother is so devious as to come up with an elaborate and detailed story like that? Just for the purpose of having me retrieve his Module?"
Helvetica shrank a bit inside herself, "Yes," she struggled, trying to sound convincing.
Black shook his head, sadly, "Well," he sighed. "It's a simple matter to see if you are lying or not. Stand up, please."
She hesitated, unsure, then rose to her feet and waited. Mr. Black took one of the newer black boxes from his suit pocket and twisted the corner, triggering a transformation of the box into what looked like a large square tennis racket with a screen instead of a net.
"It's a heat mapping device," explained Mr. Black, addressing her surprised look. Helvetica blanched, knowing instantly what this would do. "Oh no, Dad…" she whispered, pleadingly.
He ignored her plea, "Hold still, please." He instructed.
Helvetica felt herself panicking. He held the instrument first at her eye level, slowly lowering it as he carefully studied a heat map she could not see.
"Dad, please…" she started again, her voice straining. He ignored her, and kept moving the tool lower. He stopped on her lower abdominal region and Helvetica, knowing already what he had found, was almost in tears.
His cold smirk changed abruptly to an expression of discomfort and supreme distaste. It actually looked like he might be on the verge of throwing up. "I see," he pronounced, almost mockingly, "Your brother was… making it up."
He pressed a button, freezing the image onscreen, and spun the display around for Helvetica to see. Her neck, torso, and arms were barren wastelands of dark blue, at least, compared to the blazing, volcanic surges of red and yellow that occupied her lower abdomen and literally everywhere that she knew her reproductive organs were. She didn't know what else to do, so she simply collapsed on the bed and tried to fight back tears of embarrassment while her father stood back, surveying the image. It didn't help that Cole was still in the room, and after seeing the image for himself, burst into a hysterical fit of laughter that might have been brought on only by sheer disbelief. Mr. Black endured this only for a moment before ordering Cole out of the room. At which point, Cole ceased his mockery, gathered up his Mod, and scrambled out into the hall, closing the door behind him.
Now alone with his daughter, Helvetica could see the rage Carbon Black had been attempting to repress, building to a boiling point. He was working hard to maintain a level tone of voice as he spoke to her and every now and then a purple vein would bulge in his forehead, making her wonder if he was on the verge of nervous collapse. "You must… be… pleased with yourself." He hissed, condescending. "You're grounded. Two weeks, and if I check the security tapes and find that Mr. Thompson was, in fact, over here at the corresponding time then I will contact his parents as well. Either way he is no longer allowed in this house, understood?"
"But Dad!" Helvetica protested, prepared at least, to defend Toby, who had been little more than a willing participant in the events.
"Helvetica, please," Black bellowed, silencing her. "I'm so angry I would actually consider paddling you if I didn't know now that you LIKE it."
Helvetica swallowed. The humiliating barb hit, and was made only slightly worse by an eavesdropping Cole's snickering outside her bedroom door. Mr. Black didn't seem to notice, or he simply didn't care, and continued on his tirade. "Pray tell, what would you have been willing to let your little boyfriend do to you if your brother hadn't walked in? - You know what? Don't answer that. Three weeks."
He paused in front of the closet, fuming, and for an unfortunate few seconds, probably imagining he horrific scene with his daughter that had to have taken place in there. This would have been a good explanation for his next set of remarks, which included how he should have known that she would find a way around the cameras and now he had to install a special stall in her closet for her to get dressed so that he could put cameras in there, too, at which point Helvetica lost it and sprang up from her seat, screaming, "Why? Why DON'T you trust me? You don't know that I was going to screw him! How come you do this to ME? How come you don't do this to COLE?"
Mr. Black was apparently surprised enough by the outburst that he tolerated it by-and-large. He replied bluntly to her grievance, "Cole, no matter what stupid thing he does, is not a misstep-in-judgment away from stranding himself with a bastard child." After this he paused, scanning to make sure the remark had achieved the desired effect, then looked up wistfully and sighed, "Four weeks."
He said nothing after that, and took his leave, ignoring completely the stunned and sheepish Cole hanging around the hall outside. Apparently he was too hostile to address either of them, and after checking the security feeds as he promised, retired wordlessly to his study for the night.