|For My Key
Author: Cristya Blade PM
Violet comes home for Christmas a few years after a horrible accident and attempts to get the family back together for her mother's sake. But with one of them dead and one of them on the run from the law, it proves to be more difficult than she expected.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family - Violet P. - Words: 10,858 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 2 - Published: 12-23-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7665296
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This fanfiction is a Christmas present for my dear friend. She loves The Incredibles and she loves fanfiction, so... here you go, dear! If you have not already read you the copy I gave you in person, you should probably wait to read it digitally or else all that paper will be wasted (lol).
Please note the title of the fic is pretty much completely unrelated. We'll just go ahead and call it an inside joke, ha ha.
I think the movie The Incredibles was fine but I'm not a huge fan myself so this will be the first and only fanfic I write about it. As it is already finished and was long work, I'm not really looking for criticism on this particular piece. If that wasn't clear, please note that negative comments are not welcome in this particular case, it's just something I wrote for Christmas. I just posted it incase any other Incredibles fans would like to read it. Thanks for your time, have a great day, and Happy Holidays!
Violet Parr watched her window fog and unfog as her breath misted out from behind the scarf wrapped generously around her face. Her car jerked on the slick road before righting itself with a little creak and a large putt. She patted the steering wheel reassuringly as she absently muttered, "Almost there..."
Around another corner and down a straight shot and there is was, the most inviting house on the block. It wasn't the largest or the most ornately decorated- it had only a few simple strings of lights- but it was the place she most wanted to be: home.
She pulled into the unshoveled driveway and turned her car off. It gave a last grateful shudder and things were quiet. This wasn't the first Christmas since it had happened. Her father's passing. But it was the first they felt they were strong enough to celebrate. For a while their family had been as close to perfect as she could imagine; sitting down to dinner one minute and fighting crime together the next. The year she went off to college was the year everything changed. She had realized (admittedly, after some therapy) that it wasn't her fault, but she still couldn't help but feel the sting when she remembered that she wasn't there for her father.
None of them had been there, though, except for Frozone. When a building collapsed none of the other supers were around; just the two of them. They tried their best to get people out. Frozone was carrying out the last of the injured, from what Violet understood, when the whole structure collapsed. Her father may have been Mr. Incredible, but he wasn't Mr. Invincible. He just couldn't take a whole large building. After that, no one mourned for her father more than Frozone did, and he was so filled with remorse that he couldn't face any of them for quite a while. Over time their families had become friends again, but things just didn't feel the same.
Her mother felt the same kind of remorse that Violet did, desperation at not having been there and not being able to help. As if, if they had just one more super assisting, things would not have turned out the way they did. Jack-Jack was still slightly too young to feel this kind of guilt, which the women of the family at least were thankful for. He had enough on his shoulders trying to understand death at his still-young age and growing up without a father. Of everyone, though, Dash came off the worst.
At first Dash cried and was sad with everyone else. But he seemed to be pushing himself to recover quickly, and for a while they thought he had. He stepped up as a shining new super hero. People loved him. He earned the key to the city. He almost became a famous household name. That was before he nearly became infamous.
Dash may not have been a child any more, but he wasn't old enough to be a public icon either. After Violet finally found the strength to go back to college, her mother often called and lamented that she wasn't sure how she was going to handle him. He didn't want to listen to her or anyone else. He started causing excess and needles damage to the city. He wasn't careful all the time when he ran, and sometimes people even got hurt. He interfered in police business all the time and had completely ruined some cases. In short, he was becoming a menace. When he started obviously using his powers for personal gain, something needed to be done. The mayor and Helen met with him behind closed doors and dished out his punishment- community service. It had something to do with prisoners. The thought behind it was that just maybe seeing prison would set him straight. Unfortunately it did not and Dash's behavior became more out of line. The final straw came when hints of who he was trailed back to their family. Helen, out of concern for Jack-Jack, had no choice but to kick him out. Violet had hardly heard from him since, and her mother had heard even less.
That's why this Christmas- a decidedly un-merry one, what with two family members missing, had to be Christmas. Violet had heard it in her mother's voice. They had to have Christmas again, they needed to make an effort.
Ok, no more sad thoughts, Violet thought to herself as she lugged her bags out of the trunk and followed a row of lights up to their door. Mom and Jack-Jack need you.
Violet reached for the knob but didn't have a chance to even touch it before the door burst open.
"Vi!" her mother shouted, and she barely saw the corner of her smile before she was enveloped tightly by warm arms and a baked goods smell.
"Mom!" she chuckled and hugged her with her one free arm.
"Oh, welcome home! You were supposed to call me when you were almost here, you know."
Violet shrugged and dragged her bag inside.
"Didn't want to stop. I wasn't sure the old clunker would start up again."
"Well, I'm glad you made it safely," Helen said in that oh-so-recognizable-mother tone. "Come on in, it's cold." She shut the door behind them and Violet rid herself of her excess layers.
"Yeah, how have you been? Is Jack-Jack here too?"
"In his room, as usual," her mother rolled her eyes. "Jack-Jack! Come say hi! Vi's home!" Her mother had a certain signature warning tone that Violet had admittedly become fond of, provided it wasn't directed at her.
"Cool," came a flat reply. "Be out in a while."
Violet watched her mother roll her eyes again and stifled a giggle.
"He's entering the teenager phase far too early. He hardly ever takes those headphones off anymore."
Violet looked around at her familiar home, now merry with decorations, and gazed at the tree, which was approximately two-thirds decorated. Although, the two-thirds that were decorated hardly matched each other.
"The part that's still bare is for you to decorate," Helen said catching Violet's gaze as she put her coat on a hanger.
Violet walked up to the tree and let out a short, loud laugh as she examined the decorations.
"I can guess which part is Jack-Jack's." White paper squares adorned the tree with messy handwriting that read "decoration" or "ornament."
"Not quite an interior designer, is he?"
Helen shrugged; "At least he finally got around to doing it."
"I can't believe Jack-Jack's only 11 and he's going full fledged teen already. It seems weird, I guess I either still think of him as a baby or that little whiny toddler that spilled on me all the time."
Her mother sighed as she retrieved the box of ornaments and set it on the couch near the tree.
"Trust me, I know, he's-"
"Mom... is something burning?"
A distinct unpleasant smell wafted from the kitchen and both ladies snapped to attention.
"The cookies!" Her mother's eyes widened as she scurried off with Violet not far behind.
Helen had an oven mitt on in an instant and was pulling the cookies out of the oven. They were an unattractive dark brown color and decidedly unedible looking. Helen sighed and dropped the tray on top of the stove with a clatter.
"Well, at least the rest of the batch turned out. Oh Vi, Christmas is tough this year."
Violet swallowed nervously, not quite sure what to say. "I know, mom," was all she could come up with.
They shared a quiet hug and her mother was smiling again once they parted, although it was fragile.
"Go put your stuff in your room, honey. It's still there."
Violet smiled and nodded; of course they had kept her room the same. She glanced back as she exited the kitchen and saw her mother staring sadly at their family picture hanging above the table. She knew what her mother really wanted for Christmas; the whole family back together. Well, maybe she couldn't bring her father back. But there might be something she could do about Dash.
Violet woke up disheveled and with pillow marks all over her face but she revelled in the fact that she didn't have to get up immediately, and when she did decide to get up, she wouldn't have to fix her appearance before she left her room. Sometimes home was so much better than dorms.
Violet lounged around in bed for a few more minutes, ignoring the urge to snore even though she was awake, and finally decided she had to get up eventually. She tied on a robe and went to the kitchen. While scrounging around in the fridge she noticed their family picture again.
Just what have you gotten yourself into anyway, Dash? Her eyes strayed to his image in the photo. On a whim she grabbed her cell phone and dialed his number. The line was out of service. Of course things wouldn't be that easy.
She hesitantly dialed the number still listed on the fridge of his one friend that they knew, and the only answer he could give was that he hadn't seen Dash in about a year. Violet sighed as she hung up. She poured herself a bowl of cereal and headed to the computer. How could a boy with super speed and who wasn't afraid to use it just drop off the radar? She did a search for him and was upset at the results that popped up. She loved her dumb little brother. But he was, key word, dumb.
There was nothing recent on him besides one painful article that stated that he was a person of interest in a bank robbery.
"What ya lookin' at?" Jack-Jack said from behind her.
"Nothing," she said closing the window quickly and shutting off the computer.
"Will you fix me breakfast, Vi?"
Violet stood and took her bowl to the sink. "You're almost 12 Jack-Jack. You can't pour yourself a bowl of cereal?"
"I can," he said, a hint of whining in his voice. Ah, there was that Jack-Jack that Violet recognized. "But I eat cereal every day because mom's at work. I was just hoping with you home I could get a good breakfast."
"You didn't even come out and say hi to me last night, why should I?"
"Because... I'm your little brother?"
"Alright," Violet relented, "but I don't feel like cooking. We'll go to McDonalds or something..."
Jack-Jack was out of his seat almost before she even finished her sentence and he called back to her, "I'll get dressed right now!"
Violet's face fell at the thought that she was now going to have to get dressed, and without having showered first. Well, meh, she wasn't trying to impress anyone any way.
Her car sputtered to life as she and Jack-Jack, both heavily bundled up, got in the car to get food.
"So, speaking of brothers," Violet tried to be subtle and then realized she was talking to an 11 year old, "have you seen Dash lately?"
Jack-Jack shook his head. "He moved out a while ago. He said I could come over and play Xbox when he got a new place but he never talked to me after that."
"Ugh, boys," Violet said, not wanting to worry Jack-Jack. "They're icky and they never call."
"I'm a boy," Jack-Jack replied flatly.
"I know," Violet replied and attempted not to smile. Jack-Jack stuck his tongue out at her and she stuck hers out in return, then they both laughed. She was happy the topic was so easily forgotten.
Jack-Jack ordered about seven hashbrown patties and nothing else, and Violet kept quiet about it because she was his sister, not his mom. While they were out Violet went shopping although it was really just a guise to check out all of Dash's usual haunts. The answers all came back the same, they hadn't seen him in months. Some places even said he owed them money. Violet returned home with only a wreath she'd bought and a very full-stomached boy.
Jack-Jack ran in the house and Violet hung the wreath before going in. By the time her coat was off, Jack-Jack had vanished back into his room. She peeked in and he had a blank look on his face and a notebook in front of him and, of course, his headphones on. Violet shook her head and closed his door again. Obviously brother-sister time was over, at least until more food was required.
Violet snuck her gifts into the living room to wrap them. The paper was already out so it wouldn't take long. She placed the gifts under the tree and noticed nothing was under there for Dash. She hesitated as she placed his gift under the tree, and then picked it up and put it back in her room.
His phone was off, his friends and associates didn't know where he was, and his family hadn't seen him in just about as long. How could she possibly find him? Violet tried to think about the last person he might have confided in and only one option seemed to be left to her. And that was the convict program he'd been involved in.
Violet was uncertain. She'd never been to a jail, nor did she want to visit a convict. There was a good chance someone in that jail could be someone their family had actually put there.
She took a deep breath as she looked through the numbers on the fridge. Surprisingly, the number was still there. Violet looked from the number to her phone and felt her hesitation ebb just a little as she remembered the sad look on her mother's face the night before. She had to be strong for her mother.
With another deep breath, she dialed the number. She had just over a week to find her brother.
Violet was unsure if she should look up at the ceiling or down at the floor as she passed through a metal detector and a guard went through her purse. She had put on the least revealing clothing possible and prayed hard that no one would recognize her.
The atmosphere was oppressive and she didn't understand how this place hadn't straightened her brother out after only minutes. She'd opted to visit the convict in one of the separated phone booths. She didn't want to get too close to anyone here. She sat at the very not private booth and noted that there were guards on each side of the segregated room. She tried to settle into the seat and repeated a mantra over and over to herself- Don't be nervous, don't be nervous.
The door on the other side of the room opened and she gasped as she saw the man with whom her brother had been visiting. The man was very heavily scarred and his hair had been ruthlessly chopped off, but that stupid wry, smug smile was still the same one burned into her memory, and she hated it.
He walked in and calmly sat down, smiling all the while as he watched the anger build in her face. He slowly reached for the phone and had barely lifted it off the receiver before her hand shot out and picked up her own phone, and she hollered into it, "What are you doing here?" He heard it through the line even though it wasn't up to his ear yet. He chuckled as he held the phone up to his shoulder and leaned on it casually, as if he were talking to an old friend.
"Your family put me in here, or don't you remember?"
Violet scowled- she wasn't aware she'd been capable of a scowl- and barked into the phone, "No, why were you the one assigned to my brother?"
The man shrugged. "Maybe we were just fortune's fools. Or maybe they were just trying to scare the crap out of him and they thought I'd scare him most. Either way."
Violet let out a sigh of frustration. This was going to be harder than she had initially anticipated.
"My dad would flip out if he knew Dash had been talking to you," she muttered under her breath.
"Aw, what, Dash never told him?"
Violet's rage could hardly be contained any more and she finally met his gaze.
"No one told him. He's dead."
There was a moment of absolute silence and she watched his smile flicker briefly. He finally broke her gaze and looked elsewhere, almost as if her were confused. He looked back up to her, and she firmly glared.
"And how dare you even speak of him." Her hand shook, she wasn't sure if it was because she was angry or because she was upset.
"I'm sorry," he said, less cocky now. "I didn't know."
"You're not sorry. You were trying to kill him yourself!"
"I was," he admitted, "but..."
"Where's my brother?" Violet had intended to find out in a more subtle way, but this was all she could do at the moment.
"Huh? Oh," he leaned back in his chair which didn't look comfortable at all, but he still managed to look as if he was lounging in it. The air of smugness returned. "Is that why the little Incredi-princess is here?"
"Shut up, Syndrome!"
"Name's not Syndrome, not any more any way. Just Buddy."
"You're not my buddy."
"Oh? Then why should I tell you where your brother is?"
Violet grit her teeth and prepared to hang up the phone after a rather definite sounding "This is getting me nowhere!"
"Wait, wait," he called from the other end of the line. Violet put the phone back up to her ear and raised an eyebrow skeptically.
"Look, believe me or not, your brother and I were starting to be pals. But that doesn't mean I know where he is. But if he's gone... I don't mind trying to help find him, too."
"Pals? Pals don't encourage each other to become persons of interest in bank robberies." It was Violet's turn to be sarcastic.
"Oh. So he actually went through with it?"
Violet raised an accusatory finger at him but before she could speak again he said, "Look, he did ask me if one were to rob a bank how one might do it. But it's not like I told him to. They don't exactly let you out early on good behavior if you're encouraging people to rob banks."
"I'm not saying he did," Violet said, quickly eyeing the guard, "but the news said he was a person of interest. Geez, how can you not know any of this?"
"Free cable," was the immediate reply.
Violet buried her head in her hand and wished she could be dealing with anyone else.
"Ok, so you don't know where he is. But you were one of the last people he talked to, apparently."
"Yeah, after the old lady threw him out."
Violet did not bother defending her mother, knowing that it wouldn't do any good. "Don't you have any idea where he is at all?"
He assumed a position of mock thought, although he actually did seem to be pondering the question.
"He mentioned a bar he'd been going to lately-"
"He's not even 21 yet!"
"Who said he was drinking?"
"It's a bar."
"People do other things at bars."
"What was its name?" Violet sighed.
"The Pit, or something. Said the place was a dump."
Violet wrote down "The Pit-bar" rather distastefully.
"He mentioned a friend, actually. He might have gone to stay with him."
"That's a good lead. What was his name?"
Buddy ran a hand through his hair, messing it up even more than it already had been. "I don't think he mentioned the guy's name, but he seemed like a jock... kinda a meathead."
Violet wrote it down although she wasn't sure any of these things were helpful, let alone true.
"I'm going to look for him," she said curtly, and added, "Thanks," after forcing herself.
"No problem little super."
She shot him another glare.
"Hey, look, I'll see what I can find out on this end. Expect a call from me."
Violet could think of nothing she wanted less than a call from him.
"Sorry, you're not getting our number-"
"Already have it."
"What would people in prison have heard about my brother any way?"
"If he's a person of interest in a bank robbery? Probably a lot."
"I said thanks for your help today," she said tersely, "but I can do the rest on my own."
He scoffed. "Your whole family is just the same, you know that?"
She didn't feel like answering, she simply hung up. But she could still see his satisfied, ticked off look from the other side of the glass. He thought he'd won this round. Violet wanted him to be wrong, but she also didn't want to pick up the phone to argue any more, that would be giving him too much power. So she did just what she had intended to do and left. After all, she wasn't the one doing time. So who was the loser in the end?
Helen was so excited to have a family dinner again with more than two people that she completely outdid herself. As tired as she was coming home from work, she still cooked a feast. Violet wished she hadn't and told her not to, but finally caved in to helping her when she didn't stop cooking. Jack-Jack didn't help, only asked what was up with her ugly clothes and she she smelled weird. Violet gave him a big sister mind-your-own-business answer, but washed up really well any way.
Dinner ended with more of it left over than was eaten, which Jack-Jack was happy about because it meant leftovers for him. Violet glanced at the clock as she placed the remaining dishes in the washer. It was past 10.
"Hey mom, I'm going out for a while."
Her mother dried her hands on a towel and stared at Violet. "This late? Why?"
"Meeting up with some old friends," Violet said and attempted to smile. She wasn't great at lying and she knew it; plus, she didn't like lying to her mom.
Helen looked as if she were about to say something but just sighed and nodded once. "Ok. But don't be home too late. And if anything happens, you use your powers, got it? And call me!"
"I will, mom! I'm in college now, you know."
"College or not, you're still my little girl."
Violet sighed as her mother gave her a peck on the cheek.
"I know mom. I'll be careful." When I go to this dump of a bar, that is.
Once again Violet didn't bother to shower- she didn't want to look nice going to a trashy bar- and she put on extra layers before she headed out.
The Pit was aptly named, and she had a difficult time finding it since it was off the radar and behind several buildings. She pulled her car into the lot and tried to gather the courage to unlock the door and get out. If the people in the parking lot were scaring her, what would the people in the bar be like?
It's for Dash. And for mom. And it wasn't as if she were helpless. Anyone wishing to mess with her would quickly find themselves over their heads and out of their league. Unless another super came here, which was unlikely.
Violet finally got out of the car. At least it was in no danger of being broken in to. It was about equally junky as the rest of the vehicles in the lot, about half of which were motorcycles. Violet didn't recognize Dash's bike among them.
She decided to go in both because it was freezing cold outside and because this was basically her only lead. Jock guys Dash might have been friends with were a dime a dozen, there was no narrowing them down. She stepped in the bar and was overwhelmed by the smell of cigarette smoke. She thought smoking inside was illegal, but she wasn't about to argue the fact with anyone else.
Half of the heads there turned to face her, she assumed (correctly) that the other half of the patrons were too drunk. Sadly, Dash was not among any of them, and she was not checking the men's restroom. Her only option left was approaching the bar, and she was grateful to be wearing several layers as she sat down on the filthy looking stool.
The bartender eyed her a little suspiciously. "You got ID?"
"I do," she said, wishing she didn't have to show it to him. She didn't want him to see her name or address. She handed it over and he looked at it carefully.
"See, we always ID here, if you sit at the bar," he said.
Was he wary of her? She didn't imagine she could look all that threatening, unless they thought she was a cop. A young, female cop. Oh, this did not bode well for her.
"Um, ok. M... menu?"
The man motioned to the wall behind him at a faded menu printed on the wall. Violet was still full and there was no way she wanted to eat anything at a place like this, but generally information didn't come for free. Violet wasn't sure how to bribe people, but it would be easier if there was already a cash transaction going on.
"I want, uh..." she scrolled down the list. The only food (and thus non-alcoholic item) available was wings. "The wings please."
The man held out his hand expectantly. Violet dug down in her pocket and pulled out a 20.
"Say..." she said as he rang her up, "has Dash been here lately?"
The man paused and without looking at her asked, "Who wants to know?"
"Y-you can keep the change," Violet couldn't meet his gaze and mentally kicked herself for stuttering.
"I said who wants to know?"
"He's my brother."
A moment passed and the bar tender smiled. His mouth looked disgusting, but he no longer looked threatening at least.
"Girlie, you got some balls comin' here. But aint no one here named Dash. And aint no one been here lookin' like you."
"Um, but he doesn't look like me. He's blond? And taller?"
"Sorry girlie, lots of guys come in here blond and tall. Can't keep track of all of 'em."
Violet was tempted to say he was really fast, but that was saying a little too much. Also, as expected, she did not receive her change. She sat at the counter under the guise of waiting for her wings, but she was really trying to garner the courage to talk to the rest of the roughnecks in the bar to see if they knew anything different.
She was just about to get out of her seat when the bar door banging open loudly made her jump. Once again people turned to see who it was, herself included. It was a moderately attractive but obviously dumb young man, as he was wearing a coat with shorts and sandals on below it even though there was snow all over outside.
"Hey Tackler," said a woman from the counter. He held up an arm as if he were royalty greeting the whole bar.
Tackler? Really? Violet scoffed and watched him swagger up to the bar. The bartender gave him a stern look.
"No roughhousing tonight, meathead."
"Nah, it's cool brah, gotta book it home. Just want two wing orders to go, man."
"Two? You off your diet?"
"Nah man, the other's for our resident sunshine boy."
"Little emo brat has no business making you spring for his food."
Things in Violet's head were clicking. A bar Dash hung out at. This had to be the place. But the bartender didn't know him? That was weird. And a jock friend... maybe it was this "Tackler" guy. He sure fit the profile, in any case.
"Nah, I aint payin' for him man. He's paying. Guy's loaded right now."
Violet's face fell as she got up to approach the kid. The bartender was handing him a bag of wings, some of which she suspected were probably the ones she had ordered moments ago.
"Excuse me," she said in the most firm voice she could muster.
"Mmm, hey honey," he drawled. She cringed. "Babe I aint sayin' you're not lookin' fine. But your type just don't do it for me."
"No, I think you misunderstood. I'm not looking for you. I need to know if Dash is staying with you-"
"Gotta jet, old man," the boy saluted to the bartender and rocketed out of the bar. Violet growled in frustration as she raced after him. But running was her brother's strong suit, not hers. By the time she reached the top of the icy stairs she heard a motorcycle starting. She only caught a glimpse of it as it sped away, but it might have been Dash's. Violet lept in her car; his bike was notoriously fast but she might be able to follow him with a little creative driving. She turned the key and the engine sputtered and died.
The car continued to grind and sputter. Violet hit the steering wheel and yanked her keys out. It was cold tonight, but what a night for her engine to freeze! She couldn't hear the bike any more and the roads were plowed to so there wouldn't be tracks left. She did the only thing she could which was to storm back in the bar, her former fear forgotten.
"That guy!" she yelled at the bartender, "Where does he live?"
The bartender tensed up.
"How should I know?"
"I thought you ID-ed people?"
"I aint ID-ed him since he first came in. He's a regular." He was obviously no longer afraid she was a cop.
Violet turned to the rest of the bar patrons. "Does anybody know where Tackler lives?" They all shook their heads, staring at her agape.
She stormed back out to her car which started this time (partially out of fear she was sure) and drove home angrily. She would go back to that bar every night for the rest of her vacation if she had to.
Six days and several pairs of smoke scented clothes later and Violet still hadn't gotten any more leads. She dragged herself through the front door. It was 2:00 a.m. and she'd been at that hole all night, every night. She sighed and dumped her bag on the couch next to her. She contemplated showering and washing her clothes tomorrow because she was so tired. It was at that point when, to her horror, her mother walked into the room.
"Mom! What are you still doing up?"
"Vi, we need to have a talk."
"Oh... actually I'm kind of tired and-"
"Vi, I let Dash get away with this and I'm not letting it happen to you, too!"
"He started coming home late and smelling like an ash tray. Don't do this to me, Violet."
"No. No, I let him... and I'm not letting you do it, too," Helen said. She had a firm, sorrowful look on her face and Violet hated to be the cause of it.
"Mom, listen to me!"
"Listen to me! I'm looking for him. I'm looking for him, ok? I want to bring him home."
Her mother stood there looking extremely vulnerable. Violet wanted to cry.
"I'll find him and bring him home, mom, I-"
Violet paused. "What?"
"Don't look for him, Vi."
"But... but why? You want him back, I know you do..."
"Of course I do. He's my son, Vi. But you're my daughter. I don't want you getting into the same trouble he was getting himself into."
"Mom, I won't get in trouble."
"Besides, I'm the one who kicked him out. I had to make a choice. He was a bad influence on Jack-Jack, and he's still so young. Please understand. The choice wasn't easy. Please."
"But mom... I could talk to him, and..." Violet stopped. She knew that if her mother had tried so hard and failed, she probably didn't have much of a chance.
"Stop for me honey, ok? For Christmas? Let's just try to do the best we can with you and I and Jack-Jack."
Violet swallowed the sick feeling she felt. No matter what she did, her mother would be hurt. And was she just supposed to give up on her brother?
"Ok mom. I'm sorry."
"It's ok honey. Get to bed."
Violet felt like a child, as she was an almost 25 year old girl getting ordered to bed by her mother. But she didn't argue. She heard her mother's door shut as she changed into her nightgown and crawled into her bed. She was almost asleep when she heard a light knock on the door. Violet rolled over and groaned.
The door opened but it wasn't her mother.
"Mm, Jack-Jack, what do you need? Can it wait until morning?"
Jack-Jack paused and entered the room tentatively shutting the door behind him.
"Were you and mom fighting?"
Violet was too tired to think up a lie. "Yes."
"Oh. About Dash?"
"Yes," she repeated, yawning.
"Oh... I haven't seen Dash since he moved out."
Violet was quiet. She hadn't seen him in even longer.
"Violet, is Dash turning into a bad guy?"
Violet wasn't sure how to answer. She wanted to say, No, of course not! But he was hiding out and a person of interest in a bank robbery. She didn't want to tell him the truth but she didn't want to lie, either. She couldn't answer confidently.
"I don't know, Jack-Jack," she admitted. "Why do you ask?"
"Because he makes mom cry. She doesn't know I see it, but I do. It don't like it when she cries."
"Neither do I," Violet said thinking back to only moments earlier. She was upset and tired, not to mention the headache that was quickly forming. "But it's not like you're helping any, you know."
Even in the dark she could see his confused expression.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you didn't try very hard to help her decorate the Christmas tree, did you?"
"I... I thought the way I did it was funny..."
In her current state, Violet had forgotten that she'd thought it was funny, too.
"Yeah, ok, well what about you holing up in your room with your headphones on and ignoring everyone? That bothers her, you know."
"She... she didn't say it did-"
"Of course she didn't say so, she's a mom."
"But it's for Christmas."
"Oh. You're ignoring everyone for Christmas?"
"No! I... I'm listening to a recording of mom and dad's wedding and finding all the songs to burn them to a CD. Is that a weird gift?"
Violet's face fell as she felt another horrible ball of guilt building in her chest. Had she really just lashed out at Jack-Jack, even though none of this was his fault? And on top of that she'd gotten mad at him and he was just trying to do something nice. She sighed and rubbed her forehead.
"It's a great gift Jack-Jack. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get mad at you. I'm just tired."
"Oh. Ok. Sorry Violet."
Violet forced herself to look up and smile. "Sorry Jack-Jack," she said again. "I'll make you pancakes tomorrow, ok?"
"Ok," he said, sounding satisfied with this answer.
"Good. Love you, Jack-Jack. Now go to bed."
"Love you too Violet," he said, "Goodnight."
Violet laid back down and only had a moment to stew in her guilt before the pillow just became too soft and she fell asleep.
Violet didn't wake up until afternoon, but that was ok; Jack-Jack was a late sleeper too. Her mother had already gone to work.
It's probably for the best. I don't know if I could just act like everything is ok after what happened last night.
Violet put in a load of smelly laundry and took a grateful shower before she began on the pancakes. She was in the middle of mixing the batter when the phone rang and she absentmindedly answered it.
"Oh, you answered the phone. Pity, I thought I might be able to speak with your mom."
Violet held the phone away from her ear as if it were made of snakes. She took a moment to collect herself. It was a voice she thought she'd never hear again. But he said he'd call, didn't he? She sighed and contemplated hanging up on him before finally pressing the phone against her ear once more.
"Pretty sure I told you to leave me alone." Violet was more than a little perturbed. What if her mother or Jack-Jack had answered? She didn't want either of them to have to speak with him.
"You might change your mind when you hear what I have to say."
"If I listen," Violet grumbled as she glopped around with the pancake batter. He really did bring out the worst in her.
"I found the address of the guy your brother might be staying with."
Violet nearly dropped the mixing bowl and the phone at once.
"You found Tackler?"
A laugh came from the other end of the phone. "Looks like you've been doing some research, too."
"Give me the address!" She set the bowl down and scrambled for a paper and pen.
"Oh, but it's not that easy."
Violet frowned. "Oh yeah? Why not?"
"I gave up a lot for this info you know. I'm going to need some things."
"Things?" Violet repeated flatly. If he wanted stuff to break out of jail he was barking up the wrong tree.
"Yup, get ready to take down a list."
"I don't think this is-"
"Item number one, cookies."
Violet lugged a large bag off of the conveyor belt and grunted as she thought about how she was bringing Christmas to a man that had tried to kill her family. That, and, since she had so many items to give him, she had to meet him in a face to face setting without the safety of glass and phones.
There will still be guards. Violet wasn't really afraid of being attacked, though. She was afraid she would attack him.
Violet squirmed in her chair uncomfortably. The room was sort of large and rather cafeteria-like, and other convicts and visitors were there, too. Even though there were guards, she felt nervous. At least she didn't recognize anyone else in the room. Well, except for one person.
He strut up to the table as if he weren't wearing a hideous jumpsuit that clashed horribly with his orange tufts of hair. Violet didn't know if she should address him as Syndrome or Buddy, but she didn't want him to go off saying she was a super again. Still... she didn't want to call him Buddy.
"Sweet, Christmas in a bag!" he said, reaching for the goods.
"Nuh-uh, not until you give me the address." Violet pulled the bag away. He laughed and she tried to glare but was too nervous to do it comfortably.
"The address?" she repeated, pulling out a pen and setting it against the tip of her notepad.
He sighed and gave it and she wrote it down, not entirely sure she believed him. It had also occurred to her while she was out shopping that she'd told her mother she would stop looking for Dash. She wondered if she should even go, but in the end she wanted to see this through. One last attempt and she would stop. She mentally apologized to her mother as she finished jotting things down.
"Here," she said sliding the bag back towards him. He casually dug around in it until he found the cookies and began unwrapping them.
"How do I know this address isn't some kind of trap? People might be waiting to ambush me when I get there. How did you get this information any way?"
"You may or may not believe me, but if you've met Tackler before you won't be surprised. He spent a little time in jail, our boy."
Violet didn't disagree with him.
"A guy here actually used to room with him and doesn't think he's moved. Yeah, Tackler was put away for assault. That guy, trying to be a super hero, tried to tackle an old woman he thought was a terrorist. Now, I might feel a little sorry for him if he didn't sound like such an idiot by all accounts."
She didn't trust him, but the story sounded believable.
"Us regular guys trying to be superheroes seem to keep running into trouble. It's supers like you that really mess up society you know."
Violet stood abruptly to leave. She had what she wanted. She didn't have to listen to this.
"Wait, wait; sorry. Ten years in a prison hospital can make a guy a little uncouth."
Violet slung her purse over her shoulder, ignoring him.
"Look, I actually meant to apologize today. For last time. About your father... I really didn't know."
Violet wanted to say something back to him, but nothing was coming out.
"I really did idolize him as a kid. And after being in here for a while I realized that, well, maybe he was just trying to protect me. Now, I still don't think I was wrong. But yeah. I guess I did some messed up stuff."
Violet didn't know what to make of this apology. He already had his list of desired goods. What else could he possibly want from her?
"I really am sorry he died. I don't know why Dash didn't tell me. We really were sort of becoming friends..."
He wants forgiveness.
"So find him, ok?"
She opened her mouth rigidly and spoke a quick "Merry Christmas," before she turned and left.
Violet drove like a maniac and prayed that Dash would be there. She wanted to go immediately after she left the prison, but logic prevailed in the end. She only had one chance at this if Dash truly was on the run, and people were more likely to be at home in the evening than during the day. She also wasn't completely convinced that it wasn't a trap, so she'd spent most of the day and well into the evening training. She hadn't used her powers for a little while because she felt slightly hung up about them after her dad... but there might be need for them now.
Unfortunately Violet had lost track of time and it was past midnight. She doubted she would make it to the address on the paper by 1:00. The only lucky thing about this was that her mother was at a company Christmas party this evening and it must have run late. Violet knew that her mother would be extremely angry when she returned home and Violet wasn't there, especially after last night. But if all went according to plan, she'd be coming home with Dash. She knew, no matter what her mother said, that she loved and wanted all of her children. Maybe just seeing that would straighten Dash out.
Violet parked and walked carefully up the crumbly cement steps to a second story apartment. It looked awful in general, but the large patch of duct tape on the door mostly sold the shoddy appearance. Now, what would make guys open the door at 1 a.m.?
"Yo," Violet said pitching her voice lower than usual and knocking loudly on the door. "Pizza!" Violet heard nothing and pounded again.
"Yo! You're my last delivery of the night! I'm not leaving without any money, this comes out of my paycheck!"
Violet finally heard stirring on the other side of the door.
"Pizza!" she yelled again.
"We didn't order any!"
A thrill ran through her body. It was Dash! Her brother was right on the other side of the door!
"Says Tackler at this address. You guys better not have been prank calling."
Violet heard a few choice words from the other side of the door and then the knob rattled. Violet immediately prepared a shield where she visualized he would be. He opened the door looking disheveled and running a hand through his messy hair.
"Look," he began, "my roommate must have ordered it, but..."
The shield was up before he finished talking and it was a good thing, too, because as soon as he looked down and saw her he was off. All that happened, since the shield was raised slightly off of the ground, was that it began to spin in place. He was in his own personal hamster wheel.
"Dashiell Parr!" Violet yelled. "I have been looking all over for you!"
There was no disguising the fear in his eyes. "Vi, how did you find me?"
"Like I said," she crossed her arms, "I've been looking. Plus I got help from a certain convict."
"Oh man! I can't believe he ratted me out!"
"He only helped me find you, Dash. What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything!"
"Dash, did you rob that bank?"
Dash's face faded fast and Violet was surprised by her own forward question. She wanted to know, of course. But she didn't think it would be the first thing she asked.
"The bank job. Oh Vi," he slumped over and for a moment looked much older than he actually was.
"You didn't..." she couldn't look him in the face.
"No... I couldn't stop them."
Violet's eyebrows shot up. "What do you mean?"
"I was in big trouble with the city, you know? I'm not sure how much mom told you. But I was about one incident away from being arrested."
Violet didn't say anything, just listened. Dash looked broken. She wished she could hug her brother, but she dared not let down her shield.
"I just wanted to be, like, the superhero, you know?" He laughed. "I was bad at it. So I was doing community service and trying to pay my debt. They said no more supering for me. But... I found out about a bank job that was supposed to go down..."
Dash sighed and sat down, realizing he wasn't getting out of her shield any time soon.
"I thought maybe if I could stop it I could be the hero again."
"Did you tell the police?"
"No," Dash moaned.
"I know. I should have."
"So... but you were trying to stop the bank robbery?"
"Of course! With the help of the convict I was visiting in prison for this community service thing, I got a little insight about how it might go down. And eventually I learned who was going to do it; they hung out all the time in this little dive bar called-"
He nodded and gave her a questioning look.
"Well," he continued, "I hung around there and investigated. Mom found out I was going to a bar or something I guess. I mean, I was there with a false name but I guess someone recognized me and it got back to mom..."
"And she kicked you out."
Dash nodded again.
"I don't blame her," Violet said, thinking of the fight she'd had with her mother last night. "If someone recognized who you were and the criminals found out..."
"I know," Dash moaned. "It was dumb. I know, ok?"
"So how'd you end up here?"
"Well... there was a guy I met in the bar... calls himself The Tackler. He wanted to be a super hero so bad he practically flipped when I told him I was one."
Violet stared. "How could you just tell him like that?"
Dash shrugged. "I needed a place to stay. He may not be very bright, but he's a good guy deep down. He'd never tell anyone. So I offered to kinda take him under my wing as a super hero, you know, if he'd let me stay with him."
"I don't understand why you didn't just shape up and go home. I mean, the bank ended up getting robbed any way." Violet felt guilty immediately after the words came out of her mouth. Dash looked hurt and she had obviously stirred up something bad.
"Dash? Just what exactly did happen at the bank?"
Dash turned pale and looked away from her. "I failed, Vi."
Normally as an older sister it would be her job to say no duh but there was so much pain in his voice as he turned his face away that Violet knew it wasn't a joking matter. She felt a pit growing in her stomach and she tried to swallow her feelings to fill it.
"What happened?" her voice was quiet.
"They were armed. I wasn't careful. And someone... someone..."
Dash folded his arms and looked down. "Someone got shot because of me."
Violet sucked in a tight, icy breath and felt cold for reasons besides the weather. "Oh Dash, I'm-"
"Right there in my arms, she died. I watched her bleed and I didn't know what to do and everyone was staring..."
Violet rubbed her arms to try and warm herself. It didn't work.
"I heard sirens and I panicked and I... ran away. I guess they saw me running from the scene, I don't know. Any way, that's why I'm..."
Dash nodded slowly.
"It's not your fault, Dash."
"It is my fault, Violet."
"You're not the one who shot her!"
"But I'm the reason she got shot! It's the same thing!"
Violet leaned against the door frame and looked around the tiny, dingy place.
"So what are you going to do? Are you going to tell the police?" she asked.
"Are you?" he said, his eyes narrowing. "Now that you know where I am... they're probably still looking for me."
Violet honestly hadn't thought about it. "I think you should come home."
Dash looked up at her, half distressed and half hopeful.
"And then turn yourself in. After Christmas. At least talk to the police. They need to know you didn't do it."
"What if they don't believe me?"
Violet wanted to say something reassuring but nothing came to mind. "That's just something you'll have to deal with when the time comes."
No one likes to be told to face the music and Dash was no exception. He started feeling for potential weak spots in Violet's sphere.
"What if they send me to jail?"
"Well what's better, a little time in jail or a lifetime of hiding out?"
Dash scratched his head. "I hadn't thought of that."
"And that woman's family... they deserve to hear what happened. From you."
Dash didn't answer, just felt the surface next to his legs.
"And if not for her then do it for mom. Mom loves you. She needs you. She needs all of us right now, for Christmas."
It was quiet for a while, and Violet wondered if she should say something else when Dash finally spoke.
"Ok," he said hesitantly.
"Ok? That's all?"
"What do you want me to do, confess? I've missed you and mom and Jack-Jack, ok? Of course I wanted to see everyone for Christmas. I just felt guilty."
Violet looked him over for a moment. Would it really be this easy?
"You should feel guilty," she wanted to drive the last nail into the coffin, "Mom's been crying over you, you know."
Dash frowned and put his head in his hands for a moment. "Let's go."
Violet nodded and lifted the sphere and began dragging him down the stairs.
Dash scrambled around on his hands and his bottom as the sphere shifted and he was carried to the car. Violet walked to the passenger door and opened it, shoving him in and locking it behind him. She went to her own door and got in and buckled up.
"Hey, it's snowy out. And I want to buckle up too, with your driving. Let me out."
Violet looked at him doubtfully.
"What am I going to do, run through your locked door while still sitting?"
Violet chuckled and nodded and let her shield down, which proved to be a mistake. She had underestimated his speed and as soon as her shield flickered off his hand flew to the door, unlocked it, opened it, and he was gone. All of this happened in the split second it took for Violet to realize her mistake and put the shield back up. She was too late, though, and captured only empty air.
"Dash!" she yelled after him, but he was gone.
Violet mentally kicked herself. He would not be back. There wouldn't be any more leads. She'd had him right there and then been gullible and lost him. Hadn't she known he would try to run? Then why had she let him go?
Because you wanted to trust him. Because he's your brother.
Violet laid her head against the steering wheel until her fingers were numb from the cold and then finally turned her car keys. She had a hornets nest to return home to.
No other cars were out on the road as Violet drove home and she felt cold and lonely. She was trying to think of what to say to her mother ahead of time, but it was an argument she could not win, nor did she think she'd get enough words in to fit one of her one sentence speeches. Well, at least she didn't smell like a bar this time.
Violet pulled up in the driveway and didn't need to see the lights on in the living room to know that her mother was waiting up for her. She walked up to the door as if she were walking the green mile. She placed her hand on the knob. It would not fly open with her mother on the other side smiling this time. She wouldn't be greeted with a smothering hug.
She opened the door and, as expected, her mother was waiting for her on the couch.
"Violet, how could you?" She didn't yell. There was just a lot of hurt in her voice. "Didn't you listen to a word I said last night?"
"Mom, I wasn't at the bar again. I found Dash, and-"
"Violet, please! I can't take this any more. Dash isn't coming back and it's my fault. I didn't know how to take care of him when your father died."
"Mom, I almost got him to come back, he says he misses everyone and-"
"I really did see him mom!"
"Violet I already told you. Stop looking for him. Stop staying out so late. I can't lose another child..."
Helen continued but Violet heard a noise that sounded far away that seemed to capture her attention more strongly. It was a high vibration. The kind a loud car makes that wakes people up at night. It became louder. It wasn't a car, though. Violet blinked as she strained to listen. Was it coming closer? Her heart clutched tight in her chest. Yes, it was still getting louder. Did she dare hope?
"Mom?" she attempted to ask over her mother's talking. Her mother did not stop.
It was in front of the house and the sound was familiar. Could it really be?
"Mom!" Violet interrupted, "Listen!"
Her mother stopped and heard the tail end of the exhaust pipe noise before there was silence.
"To what, I-"
There was a knock on the door; very timid, very light. After another second there was a jingle of keys and a click. The door opened slowly and there stood Dash with red eyes and a frost burned face.
"Um, mom," he squeaked out, his voice unstable. "Mom, I'm sorry, I-"
Dash was interrupted by a huge loud sniffle and a quiet sob, and then long elastic arms stretched out and pulled him towards his mother.
A smile was trying to emerge on Violet's face, but she couldn't quite get it on there properly through the tears forming.
"Dash! You came!"
A long arm stretched out to grab her into the mess of hugs too, and from somewhere in it she heard, "I'm sorry I didn't believe you."
Jack-Jack had either not gone to bed or was awoken by the noise and raced out to the front room.
"Dash!" he cried joyfully. He didn't want to admit it too much, but he missed his big brother.
"Oy kid, get over here," Dash laughed.
Violet couldn't help but smile as her mother laughed against her with relief as she punched lightly at Dash. It had not been this happy in their house for quite some time. And it slowly occurred to Violet as she watched the boys mock wrestle a little bit that since it was past midnight, technically, it was Christmas Eve.
It was a late morning, or more accurately afternoon, for all of them; but no one cared. Every single family member peeked in Dash's room when they woke up to check and see if he was really there. Helen made pancakes, and Violet and Jack-Jack openly agreed that they were much better than Violet's.
She finally put Dash's present under the tree and noticed that his gifts from her mother and Jack-Jack were already there. They'd already been bought, wrapped, and ready to go. They just needed a place, just like Dash did. He may have been nearing 21 and it looked like it would be time for him to get his own place soon, but Violet knew this would always be home for all of them.
Jack-Jack wanted to to out and see the lights around the city that night. Dash said they were much cooler as a colored blur, which he then demonstrated to Jack-Jack via piggy back. The women went about the more traditional method of the car. After returning home and hot chocolate, they were all easily worn out enough for bed.
The next day, Christmas, was even lazier and no one even bothered to leave the house. The kids sat around in a mess of wrapping paper and ribbons watching a movie while Helen baked.
Violet felt a little sad as evening approached. Tomorrow Dash would have to go to the police. When Jack-Jack went into the kitchen to help out, Violet turned to Dash who was cleaning up wrapping paper.
"You're not going to run away tonight are you?"
Dash shook his head. "A couple nights ago I was going to... I mean... I ran away from you, but, what you said about mom crying? And living the rest of my life in hiding? It was time. I just didn't want to admit it to myself. And after I ran for a while, running away again and again started to seem stupid."
Violet nodded and threw some ribbons into the garbage bag in the middle of the room.
"I love running," he continued. "But when I thought about it, I've always used my running to go towards things, you know? Towards a finish line, towards an emergency, towards someone who needs help. I shouldn't use it to run away."
"Aww, you're so smart little bro."
They laughed and Violet said, "Come on, dinner smells ready."
They'd finally have another family dinner.
Violet wasn't surprised when the story didn't have a happy ending. Well, actually, so far it hadn't had an ending at all. Or maybe it already ended and this was a new beginning.
Dash turned himself in for questioning on the 26th. He wasn't immediately detained and he was found innocent of bank robbery but was brought up on other charges. Unfortunately he would have to be locked up for a while, but he was fortunate that it was in a special detention center for supers and not regular prison, where some of the inmates were probably present due to him.
Everyone else went back to their every day lives. They all heard from Dash more often now that he was in prison than they had before. Violet graduated with her mother, Jack-Jack, and a camera present; and later Dash told her that she had a cowlick at graduation and she hung up on him.
By the time Violet had graduated and found a job stable enough to move out of her mother's house once again, Dash was already free. He did have to move back in with Helen for a while, but in the end he stepped into the role of superhero that he was really meant to be in with hesitant but gradual coaching from Frozone and Edna. His bright example actually helped the family get over the stigma that had attached to their powers once again after their father's death. Violet even teamed up with him on tough cases, but she was nervous when Edna told the press her name was UltraViolet. It was a little too close to her "secret identity" for her comfort.
In any case, their family was healed. They saw each other often and were back to eating dinner together one moment and fighting crime the next. And they always got together at Christmas, but none of them had yet to receive a gift that was better than the one Violet had given; getting Dash to come home.