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: Blech. Always check something in the "Preview" section before you submit it. Sorry if any of you got duplicate alert messages. We're getting pretty close to the end here, so hold on tight.
Chapter Four - Never Again
He halted much sooner than he had intended to when he reached the hall at the top of the stairs. He saw that the door to Helvetica's room had been taken off its hinges and the inside was vacant, to his great surprise, of Helvetica and Mr. Black. Everything else inside it was in the process of being demolished and taken apart by several Black-box forklift drones. The human employees that accompanied the drones were in charge of removing Helvetica's things from the ruins of her room, folding them if they could be folded, and packing them into several cardboard boxes scattered around outside her door. It looked like "moving day" crossed with some kind of apocalypse, and it all seemed to have unfolded revoltingly quickly. "What are they doing?" Toe whispered, not sure if anyone could or would answer him.
The door to his left clicked open and Cole slid out, looking surprisingly peaked for someone who was not actually the center of attention at the moment. He exchanged glances with Toby, and eyed the scene that was his sister's room in abject shock. Toby had no doubt that news traveled fast in their family, so he could assume Cole knew exactly as much, if not more than he did about what had been going on. Cole didn't look angry or offended at Toe's presence- he seemed a little too preoccupied to be either of those things. He diverted his eyes back on to him. "Hey," he breathed, subtly communicating to Toby that there was to be some kind of temporary truce between them.
"Hey," he whispered back.
Cole hesitated before answering the elephant-in-the-room question. "So, our Dad has kind of... flipped out again."
"I know," Toe replied. The next set of glances between the two of them affirmed his suspicions that Cole knew what part he had played in the current situation. He leaned a little, and kept his voice low. His countenance warmed with a kind of vulnerability. There was a tone of begging in his voice as he posed, "You didn't, you know, actually... do it... did you?"
Surprised with the amount of concern Cole now displayed for his sister, Toe found he felt strangely comfortable dismissing the older Black sibling's fear. "No, we didn't," he answered matter-of-factly.
Cole visibly relaxed, and a brief flash of respect crossed through his features before he prompted, "They went that way." He gave his head a small flick, indicating a direction further down the hall. "Watch out for yourself," were his concluding words, then he disappeared down the stairs.
Toby moved down the hall, both surprised and relieved not to be noticed by the "workers" as he passed by Helvetica's room. He stepped gingerly through the maze of boxes, navigating carefully around them until he made his way into the clear section of the hall floor. At the far end of the hallway he could see the four guards that had accompanied Mr. Black to Helvetica's room earlier, emerging from a set of doors on the left. He stood still, waiting, as they departed down another set of stairs, then he approached the doors from which they had just exited. From outside he overheard the volatile ranting of Mr. Black.
"What do I have to do?" Mr. Black bellowed from behind the door. "Do I have to get you fixed, like a dog, Helvetica? It seems a shame to treat you like an animal, but you so often insist on behaving like one." Toe grimaced. The words, which were not even directed at him, still made him feel terrible. "Really, I have to commend you on this display—no more than twenty-four hours from the previous infraction. I could see it through the camera feeds, I could see heat maps detailing every event! Helvetica! I could SEE everything that happened!" Black's speech seeped with fury, and pain, becoming hoarse at the tail end of his sentence as he struggled to funnel his rage into the words he spoke. He barked, "How exactly did you plan to get away with it?"
Toe swallowed. She hadn't—it had all been a show, a plot, a grand, staged finale Helvetica had planned to "get back" at her father, and Toe could tell from the blistering tone of his voice that it had been successful in its own right. However her "last act of defiance," had left her in a dire spot, as it was clear to both of them that she had crossed a line and wasn't going back. Even Mr. Black took this opportunity to marvel at it, "All this effort, all this planning... this, actually admirable amount of strategy put forth so you could, what? What? So you could openly desecrate yourself?" Toe might have snickered, as it was something of an absurd thought, but the notable thread of hysteria woven through Mr. Black's words kept him on edge and prevented him from doing so.
Mr. Black's voice dropped to a dangerously low pitch, "I think you've more than proven today that you can not be trusted on your own."
Toe halted his breath, listening into the conversation intently, wondering where Black was going with this. "I'll take you out of school," Black said decidedly. "I'll take you out and arrange for you to have a tutor..." Toe swallowed dryly, catching a hint of the direction this was about to go. "Then, I will redesign the security systems in the house… add more cameras, arm the windows… If you want to leave, to do anything, you will need to ask, to go… No?" something had interrupted Mr. Black's thought process. Toe guessed Helvetica must have found a way to silently object to these things, because next Mr. Black broke onto a tangent of fury, "Just what do you think you have to say about it, Helvetica? How dare you? How DARE you question ANYTHING I've done? I am your FATHER! The surveillance you have oft complained about you've since proven a necessary bordering on inadequate means of combating your inexplicable desire to denigrate your person! I will be making improvements to it, rest assured, and implementing all kinds of new procedures I'm sure you will love… but the bottom line, my dear, is that there will be NO MORE 'SURPRISE' VISITORS IN THIS, MY HOUSE!"
At this moment Toe put his whole weight on the door handle and launched himself awkwardly into the room. He suspected that this had been his chance to make an entrance, though he realized might have wanted to time it a little better so as to marginalize the idea that he might have been eavesdropping. He wasn't sure if coming in on the end of Mr. Black's rant about 'surprise' visitors had exactly accomplished this.
The two Black family members stared at him in utter shock, suggesting to Toe that neither had seen a security feed in quite a while. He could see that Mr. Black had been about a foot from Helvetica when he'd been shouting at her, and she, sitting dead-eyed and cowering in a leather Bibendum chair had taken it all in wordlessly. Her eyes were dark and heavy inside, and Toe noticed she appeared to have been stripped of the offending attire from earlier and was wrapped up tightly in a dark robe that clearly did not belong to her. It was about three sizes too big- a man's robe most likely, donated for the sole purpose of preserving the heiress' modesty. She sat very uncomfortably in the chair, making Toe wonder if she was actually wearing any other clothes underneath the robe. He caught himself before that train of thought could progress into more risqué territory, and turned to face Mr. Black with as much bravery as he found he could possibly possess that moment.
"Mr. Black, I'm sorry but, I can't let Helvetica take all the blame by herself. She didn't do all of this, I- whatever you have to say, I should be here to hear it, too."
Black stared at him with a look of what could only be called 'skeptical confusion,' "Very well…" he breathed, not bothering to hide any of the disgust in his voice.
He did not address him further, instead he wandered back over to his desk, acting as though he were unable suddenly to be near either of them. He stood at the corner of his desk and lifted up a neatly pressed rectangle of a plastic bag and examined it, at which point Toe could just make out that the contents of the bag were Helvetica's "seductive" clothes, which had been folded and vacuum-sealed in the bag by some staff member in the interim when she had changed. At first Black clutched it as though it might be something precious, then his expression changed to one of pure, miserable self-pitying disgust, and he turned around swiftly and cast the loathesome parcel down the mouth of a large metal chute which Toe realized, as soon as he heard the crackling sounds from the other end, led directly to the furnace.
Black looked like he was enjoying watching the "delivery" burn below as the flickering light from the flames at the other end danced across his features, shedding an eerie light on the contented smile of a man who had found a moment of solace amongst what otherwise he found cause for denial.
He turned back to them both and took an audible deep breath before stating, "All right, Mr. Thompson. You should know, or should have at least guessed that my plans for my daughter from this point involve removing Helvetica from public school and homeschooling her in order to minimize contact with all that I deem untrustworthy. If you wish to change my mind on this matter, or to convince me that you are by any stretch of conception worthy of my trust, you have approximately four minutes to do so." Toe shifted uncomfortably and when he did not answer promptly enough, Mr. Black amended this statement with a punctual and matching expression that for a moment made it appear that he had come fully mentally unhinged, "Starting NOW."
Toe jumped, "Listen, Mr. Black. I… can't prove that I deserve your trust. Maybe I don't. I snuck out of this house once before when Hel was in trouble, and I was about to do it again now, well… with your permission, I guess, but it isn't right… I guess what I'm saying is please, please don't write off a whole world of people, of things, just because of what I… we did."
To his relief, his hastily put together apology speech seemed to resonate with Mr. Black. The man seemed to stall from his rampage down the warpath, and merely studied Toby in silence for what felt like a good thirty minutes but was probably only five, his face softening slightly over the course of both the words and the time afterwards. Finally the corners of his mouth seemed to twitch themselves into a half-smile and he spoke, "Did you get that, Mr. Thompson?"
Toe jumped, thinking the reply odd, and wondering whether or not Mr. Black had heard any of what he'd had to say.
"Yes, Mr. Black…" a familiar voice came crackling through the computer speakers on the desk. Toby felt like his blood had frozen when he realized which "Mr. Thompson" had been referred to. Fighting back what was obviously a leer, Mr. Black turned the computer screen around so Toe could see the third party that had been listening in on the whole conversation.
Toby groaned, "Hi Dad…"
Though it might have been difficult to discern from the image on screen, Mr. Thompson didn't look as angry as Toby might have expected. He did however look very tired, "We'll discuss this later, son…" he sighed before logging off.
As the screen faded, Toby couldn't help himself but to shoot a look at Mr. Black as if to ask if he was satisfied. The answer seemed to be 'yes,' but that didn't improve the situation at all. Mr. Black paced around to the other side of the desk, where he surveyed something on another screen that Toby could not see. Toby found himself growing agitated and perhaps unfortunately bored when Mr. Black remained at this, unmoving, for an extended period of time that Toby couldn't gauge because there seemed to be no clocks in the room. He looked down at Helvetica, who remained stiffly seated in the chair. During the course of his speech, Toe had found himself navigating steadily towards her, and had since positioned himself so that he was standing directly behind her. Trying to suppress the shaking that his body was doing due to nerves, he gently let his hand slide down to rest on her shoulder. "It's okay, everything's going to be okay," he whispered.
The only response this got him was the chance to feel a violent shiver travel through Helvetica's upper body, and he noticed she was looking at something, wide-eyed. He followed her gaze to its target and actually jumped when he landed on Mr. Black's cold, dark eyes, which had been fixed on him for he didn't know how long. He stood in front of the same screen, but now that he had Toby's "attention" stealthily navigated around to the front of it.
"I have located the footage of you, Mr. Thompson, sneaking into my house earlier today…" he informed. Toby gritted his teeth and nodded. Black tilted his head to the side, in one breath managing to seem both whimsical and exasperated, "and I also have isolated corresponding text messages from that time frame, from my daughter, instructing you to do so."
Toby didn't know what to say, and no words came to mind. He wasn't even sure if there had been a question or a direction in anything that Black had just said. Really, he was too tired to focus on it anymore. He looked down and noticed that he still had his hand on Helvetica's shoulder.
Black also seemed to be getting tired, but it showed up more in his voice than anything else, "Well? So who do I punish for this?" he inquired of both of them. It was impossible to tell if it was a rhetorical statement or not. Maybe that was why Black chose to clear it up a moment later with, "I'm serious. Your commitment to one-another is a catastrophic flaw in your relationship just as much as it is, admittedly," he sighed, "…your most admirable quality."
The latter statement, which was delivered with a strange but touching tone of appreciative, mournful sadness, greatly surprised Toby. He would have liked to have been able to utter some words of thanks for the compliment, but found himself unsurprisingly, unable to come up with any.
Mr. Black studied them for a while, looked out the window for a second, and then stood up. "I will admit I'm not as angry anymore, and I believe I owe most of that to you, Toby, but still I do not think I will be changing my mind about what I planned to do. Toe Thompson, you are free to go if you wish, but as it stands, I'm afraid next Friday will effectively mark Helvetica's last day in the public school system."
Helvetica let out a sharp noise of sorts, to which Mr. Black responded, "There is nothing more that either of you can say to change my mind. I know full well everything that has gone on these past few days and frankly it would be putting it mildly to say it disgusts me. However, there may be room for reconsideration at a later date, but right now… I think I would just feel better if both of you were out of my sight."
Helvetica stood up slightly, "But…"
"Sight and earshot, please…" moaned Mr. Black.
Helvetica stood, an unpleasantly melancholy look on her face, and obediently left the room. Only Toe was left alone with Mr. Black.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Black," was the most profound thing he could manage to say at that moment. It was not acknowledged.
He watched the stoic man who kept his back turned to him, trying to imagine what could have been going through his mind and imagining how, in the best and worst possible circumstances, his words could have affected the way that he saw the relationship between him and Helvetica. That was what it took to put him, not completely, but just enough at ease that he could leave the room without any more parting words.
Out in the hall, he found and embraced a sadly fragile-looking Helvetica, who had been leaning against the wall, staring desolately into space. He guessed that Mr. Black didn't care if they spent time together at this moment, since he hadn't given any additional clarifications after he'd told them both to get out of his sight, and so he was content to stand and hold her in his arms for a while as they silently said their goodbyes.
The scene inside the office was equally solemn but for a different reason as Mr. Black surveyed the security footage from behind the desk for what was probably the hundredth time. He observed the footage from the first instance, seeing himself retract the heat-mapping device and storm out of her room. He turned from the TV every so often, pacing the space as he swilled down an amber liquid from a tumbler. He couldn't help but feel injured as he noted that she had no qualms about lying openly to him, though he supposed she was doing it mostly to protect Toby Thompson. He felt torn in two different directions about the whole thing, and then three, when he turned around and noticed that he'd let the tape wander onto a section of footage he didn't recall ever seeing before.
There, onscreen, was Helvetica curled up against the headboard of her bed in his absence- body trembling, wracked with sobs, a veritable waterfall of mascara-smudged tears pitifully staining her pretty, pale face. She tried to hide what was going on from the camera, but the body language eliminated the possibility of him making any mistake.
Black set his drink down, not paying attention to the fact that he'd missed the coaster on his desk, and tensed for a moment, watching the scene. His anger slowly began to dissolve as he saw her face catch the light, illuminating in the video a glistening face, soaked with tears and marred with humiliated pain. It was both breathtaking and horrible, and kept him frozen entirely in place as he took in the appalling sight.
He could only look at it and sigh ruefully, "Oh Helvetica…"