A/N: Okay, long wait, but here's chapter 2. I planned this as a two shot, but I came up with more material than I anticipated.
Evil is the product of the ability of humans to make abstract that which is concrete. – Jean-Paul Sartre
Of all the memories that Heloise had relived during this journey into her psych, it was this particular day that the young engineer remembered with the most fondness. At the moment, her past self was in her lab with several young Minotaurs strapped down to several operation tables, with the several months younger version of herself pulling of a pair of bloody rubber gloves. Blood had inevitably splattered onto her red dress, but that was the reason she preferred to wear that particular color, the stains never showed.
Even if she hadn't remembered this day with picture perfect clarity, she could have pieced together exactly what she had been doing. While most citizens of Miseryville were simply transformed into monsters, the Minotaurs were grown specifically by Lucius's top scientist using genetics resulting from years of research. After they were seven years old, their minds were completely wiped to ensure complete and eternal loyalty to the Heinous family.
As the past Heloise began washing her hands in a nearby sink, Lucius's image flickered on the large monitor that made up the top part of the back wall. Usually neat and presentable, his suit and tie were ruffled; he had clearly been through a struggle.
"Heloise! Get down to Room 101! We've got a newcomer who's giving use trouble!"
Past Heloise rolled her eyes, but began exiting the lab. No snarky comment left her mouth, no insult toward Lucius's ability (or lack thereof) to do his job. She simply began to obey.
The newcomers were always fitted in Room 101. The same procedure she had undergone several years prior, which Lucius carried out whenever he had the time, which was always, since he was the ruler of Miseryville. People changed their schedules to accommodate him, not the other way around, and he always made time to traumatize someone for life. Nothing told the newcomers he was a tyrannical dictator like a personal fitting.
Exactly where the newcomers came from, Heloise still didn't know, despite being such an important part of Misery Inc. for nearly five years. About a year after she had removed Asimov, she finally summoned the courage to ask Lucius where these newcomers come from. Initially, the tiny tyrant exploded with rage, telling her she would ask for no answers from him on subjects she didn't know before stomping off, not doing something painful to her, much to her relief. Soon after, though, he calmly told her she's find out when she needed to. All she had to do was focus on the transformations. No humans would beautify his perfectly hideous city.
At least he thought. Heloise's first act of freedom had been to disable the device implanted in her brain. After seeing the shape of some of the residents of Miseryville, she would prefer to keep her human form. Of course, by the time she had deactivated it there had already been some changes in her. A slithering way of movement, her teeth becoming sharp and her eyes fiery when angry, her strength doubled and, to her horror, facial hair growing. She had worked to find some way to reverse these effects, but she had no such luck. She had tried to keep her insubordination hidden from Lucius by saying the device must not be very effective on her. Somehow, she wasn't sure he bought it.
As the young scientist opened the door, her eyes widened. She quickly dived to the side just in time to avoid Samy, who had been flung from the room by a powerful force.
"No, you idiots!" Lucius's voice screamed from inside the room. "Hit the boy, not Samy…even though it was funny."
Heloise peered into the room to see the disheveled Lucius with two of the Minotaurs, each carrying what appeared to be a giant baseball bat, trying to hit a green blur that was zipping around the room.
Rolling her eyes, Heloise pulled out what appeared to be a raygun that you'd see on a hokey Sixties television show. Aiming carefully, she fired the gun, which struck the moving blur, causing it to freeze in place. She could now see that it was a young boy, about her age, with golden hair. This was all she could tell, since his back was facing her.
"Hey, what the…?" the boy stuttered.
"It's about time, Heloise!" Lucius snarled. "Where were you?"
"I got down here as fast as I could sir," Heloise said formally, causing her present self to wince. It was rather painful to see her so subservient to someone else. "Perhaps I should make more of these for the Minotaurs to use."
"I don't have time for your stupid ideas!" Lucius yelled, who defined stupid ideas as ones he didn't think of. "Just help me fit this boy."
Heloise, struggling to stop herself from letting loose some kind of snarky comment, turned her target.
"Now, you better let Mr. Heinous fit you, or…"
Heloise stopped mid-threat. She had finally gotten a look at the boy's face…and it was perfect. Or at least, that's how she felt about it. He was handsome, his face clean from any irregularities, his golden hair sticking straight up, his expression was still one of stunned puzzlement, and it was cute.
The young scientist mentally slapped herself. Cute? What was she thinking, that had no place in Miseryville! She had to focus, to help fit this guy and prepare him for an eternity of misery.
Then he smiled, revealing a gap in his teeth. Heloise nearly melted. It was the most wonderful thing she had ever seen. She could gaze at him for hours.
She might have, had the two Minotaurs not grabbed the young boy on either side. "Finally," Lucius said with glee, rubbing his claws together like some stereotypical Bond villain. "We can continue the fitting." He paused, his mood turning sour again. "Where's Samy?"
At that point, the goblin staggered into the room, still dizzy from being knocked out of the room. "Samy, I don't pay you to bleed, give me the device!"
Too damaged to give a coherent response, Samy handed him the small device, exactly the same model that was currently lodged in Heloise's head. Grinning, the ruler of Miseryville turned toward the boy. "And now, you're going to…"
Suddenly, Lucius let out a cry, tossing the device away and shaking his hand, blowing on it. The machine soared through the air until it was caught by one of the Minotaurs, who enclosed it tightly in his fist. About half a second later, the device exploded, blowing the creature's hand in three different pieces.
Heloise, Lucius, and the boy stared at this site with shocked awe. The Minotaur didn't flinch, unable to feel pain and unwilling to show shock as a result of the young scientist's programming. Samy continued to bleed on the floor. For a few seconds, silence hung in the air.
"Cool!" the boy suddenly exclaimed, his eyes brightening. Lucius, however, did not look amused.
"What was that? Heloise, your machine blew up! Why can't you build anything right?"
The brunette inhaled sharply at the insult. "I built it to exact specifications, sir," she said through clenched teeth. "Perhaps Samy ruined it when he was carrying it."
"Well, whatever it is, I'm going to get another one. Come on, boys," he commanded to the two Minotaurs. "And Samy, quit bleeding on my floor, that's coming out of your pay!"
The goblin just groaned. "…stars! Ready when you are, Raoul!"
"Watch him until I get back," the seventh generation Heinous ordered Heloise. The young girl only muttered a "yes sir" as he left.
"Aw, I thought it was pretty cool," the boy said. In the confusion, Heloise had accidentally released the trigger on her gun, allowing the boy to go free. Not that he had gone anywhere; he was still standing right next to her.
Heloise turned to the boy. Her face felt hot and she had butterflies in her stomach. She felt good…and she hated it. What was this boy doing to her? What was different about him? Not only was he making her feel weird, but the device exploding as well…was there something different about this boy?
"My name's Jimmy," the boy introduced himself. "What's your name?"
"Heloise," the girl answered, somewhat dazed because she was still in thought.
Jimmy smiled. "That's a pretty name."
That snapped her out of it. "Pretty? It means 'famous warrior'! It's not meant to be cute!"
"But it is!" Jimmy said happily. "And it really fits you."
Heloise stared at him in anger…until the implications of what he said set in. Was he calling her pretty?
"Hey, your face is changing color. Cool!"
Heloise's already red face blushed deeper at that comment. "Just shut up! What's your problem, anyway?'
"Nothing. I'm just trying to be your friend."
Heloise only snorted. "Friends? I don't have any friends."
At that moment, Jimmy's jaw dropped, his eyes widening in shock. "No friends? That's terrible."
The young girl rolled her eyes. "That's just the way things are in Miseryville."
"Well, that needs to change."
Now Heloise's eyes widened. "You better be careful what you say. You don't want to cross Lucius, he'll make you regret it."
"Who, the red guy? He seems like fun."
Heloise could only place her head in her hands. "Lucius? Are you out of your mind? Do you even have one?"
"Why? What's wrong with him?"
"What's?" the scientist sputtered, barely managing to gather her thoughts. "He's the guy in charge! He'll cut you up if he doesn't like you, and that's if you're lucky!"
Jimmy just waved his hand dismissively. "Aw, I bet all he needs is a friend."
Heloise shook her head. "Friends mean nothing. He doesn't need or want them. Neither do I. They're pointless."
"You're just saying that because you've never had one. I'll be your friend."
A panicked look crossed Heloise's face. She put her hands up defensively. "No way, you'll get me killed! Lucius will grind me into dust."
Jimmy scoffed. "He can't be that bad."
At that point, he was suddenly grabbed and pinned once more. Lucius had returned and, with him, his two Minotaurs, one of them still missing his hand from earlier, not even allowed or wanting the chance to bandage it.
"Oh, but I am," the seventh generation Heinous smirked, holding another device in one of his claws. "And now I'm going to Gah!" he screamed once again as he jerked back in pain, the device flying through the air. One of the Minotaurs released its hold on Jimmy and caught the device, which soon exploded, taking its other hand.
"Cool!" Jimmy clapped. "Do it again, Lucy!"
The tyrant of Miseryville shook his head. "Argh, that stupid…what did you call me?" he said, the nickname registering in his brain. He looked angry, which caused Heloise to tense. Nothing good had ever happened in centuries when a Heinous got angry.
"It's a nickname," Jimmy said casually, as if Lucius hadn't bellowed the previous question. "It shows were friends, buddies, amigos…"
"I don't have friends," the CEO bellowed. "I'm ruler of Miseryville! Boys, take this idiot and throw him in the Abyss of Nothingness!"
As the Minotaurs moved to obey, a voice cut through the air. "No!"
Lucius ears perked up. With calm fury, he turned to Heloise, who had a panicked look on her face. "Pardon me, but did I actually hear you defy one of my orders?" he said calmly, but the threatening undertones were there.
Heloise had caught herself off guard. No one spoke that way about Lucius's orders. However, she quickly composed herself and thought up an excuse. "I apologize, sir; it's just that he could be a real asset to us. I mean, if he can make the devices explode like that, there must be something about him. If I could figure out what that is, I bet I could redesign the devices to be ten times more efficient. We could multiply the misery output overnight!"
Lucius paused, stroking his chin in thought. "That does sound good," he admitted. "Well, alright, escort him to the dungeon."
"Uh, sir," Heloise spoke again, "I could get better results if he were moved somewhere I could keep an eye on him."
Lucius threw up his hands in annoyance. "Fine, just keep him away from me!"
"Oh, don't worry, sir, I know exactly where to put him…"
The scene faded to black once more, leaving the present Heloise and Love alone.
"You're quite a good liar, aren't you?" the repressed emotion noted coyly, "coming up with a reason that he'd accept to keep Jimmy around."
Heloise huffed, crossing his arms. "It wasn't a lie…not entirely. The boy…he did something to me. I needed to figure him out."
"You mean, why you fell in love with him? Or why he made you defy Lucius?"
At the first question, Heloise got angry, but the second question made her cringe. "Ugh, don't remind me. I can't believe I was ever afraid of that idiot."
"Yes…it's thanks to Jimmy that you're not, isn't it? But we're getting ahead of ourselves," Love noted as the scene faded in again. This time it was the interior of Jimmy's house that came into view, with the doorbell constantly being rung, the sign that someone impatient was on the other side of the door. And instead of Jimmy crossing the room and answering the door, it was another resident of Miseryville.
Heloise had discovered Dorkus soon after ridding herself of Asimov. After she had comfortably secured her former mentor's position, she was told by Lucius that she needed to designate an assistant and possible successor in the event that anything unfortunate was to befall her. Heloise understood this to mean that he wanted her to stay expendable so she could be tossed aside whenever he grew displeased with her.
Nevertheless, she soon found her assistant. Dorkus was short, scrawny, and posed no physical threat. Like everyone else, he had no memory of life pre-Miseryville, but cared little to find out, only interested in climbing the corporate ladder within Misery Inc. He had always bothered Lucius and Asimov with his inventions, which the two tolerated since he made a good punching bag whenever Samy was too unconscious to scream in pain properly.
He was the perfect assistant. Heloise hired him, but never let him get a glance at any blueprints or involved him in any construction. She would handle all that work herself, and throw all paperwork onto her new assistant. He was a mere pencil pusher, with no training in any skill that would allow him to replace her. She wasn't going to make the same mistake her now-deceased mentor made.
Dorkus had to hop, but he reached the doorknob and opened the door. Almost immediately his superior came through the door, towering over him despite her small stature and clutching a baseball bat in one hand.
"Dorkus, I need this house, you can go sleep in a ditch."
"But…" the small creature started to protest, but Heloise grabbed him, tossed him in the air, and hit him with the bat. The small pencil pusher went flying, crashing through a window and landing in the yard next door, bloody and pierced with glass shards.
Giving a satisfied smile, Heloise used the bat as a cane, leaning on it like one would against a wall as she called in Jimmy. The boy entered the home, looking around. "It seems kind of bland, but a bit of color will fix that."
"Yeah, color…" Heloise muttered, more distracted by the sight of Jimmy. As he darted around the house, looking at the various furniture and decorations, she just wondered to herself. Who was this boy? Why did he have such an effect on her? What made her talk back to Lucius, something of which she was likely the first survivor of? She had to study this boy carefully, to answer all of those questions…and find an answer to why he overloaded the device, she supposed.
She blinked. The boy was getting her to forget her duties to Misery Inc…all the more reason to study him, she supposed.
Her thoughts were interrupted by music cutting through the air. She finally noticed that Jimmy had found Dorkus's stereo. At first, it puzzled Heloise why Lucius allowed leisurely things in his city, but it was soon explained to her: without something pleasurable to compare things to, no one would be truly miserable. Where it nothing but torture and torment at all times, the citizens would lose consciousness. They'd react, but they wouldn't be truly miserable. By allowing them a sliver of happiness, some glimmer of hope, they could crush them all the more cruelly.
The music that drifted through the air was a slow dance song, the kind Heloise had always despised. She made a face of disgust, but it was soon lost when Jimmy took one of her hands. "Come on, Heloise, let's dance."
"I don't dance," the brunette said angrily, beginning to pull away.
"Oh come on, it's easy, I'll teach you how," the tall boy said, not letting go.
"I said no, now let g…"
But the petite girl's protests stopped when Jimmy put an arm around her waist and pulled her in close. Heloise froze up, her eyes becoming wide. Being held so close caused a strange kind of swelling in her chest. It was a strange feeling, but an enjoyable one as well, one that she hoped would never end.
"Hey, your face is changing color again!" Jimmy said excitedly, oblivious as to the reason why. "Alright, now put your other arm on mine," he instructed. Heloise, still dazed by the experience, obeyed. "Good, now just follow my lead."
In her current state, Heloise didn't notice when it really started, but the next thing she knew she was gliding across the floor. Her body was reacting subconsciously to Jimmy's movements, a bit clumsy, but graceful enough that a casual glance would indicate an intricate dance.
Love didn't say a word about this scene, she just looked at the current Heloise. She was lost in this scene, one of her favorite memories. She had danced many times since then, always with Jimmy, but they had always been fast, lively dances to party music, like Runny and the Nosebleeds, not the slow dancing that their first encounter had been.
Meanwhile, her past self was still gliding across the floor with Jimmy. As the music entered its final verse, the pair slowed, looking at each other. At that point, Heloise's stunned expression melted into a lovesick smile.
"See, I knew you'd like it!" Jimmy said happily, still unaware of just how happy she was.
"Mm-hmmm," Heloise murmured, still lost in Jimmy's eyes.
"I told you having friends would be fun," the boy continued. "Now let's try some fast dancing."
In a flash he tore himself away from Heloise and went back toward the stereo. Immediately she missed his embrace, wanting more than anything to experience it again. She began to move toward Jimmy, but stopped. What was she doing? She was acting like one of those lovesick idiots that she sometimes saw flirting and laughing before she crushed them underneath her inventions. She had to leave, to get out of his house before…
At that moment a loud dance song began booming throughout the room. In a flash Jimmy was back at her side. "Come on, dance! It's even easier when you do it fast!" At that point, the blond boy began jumping around, waving his arms in a pattern with a goofy look on his face.
Heloise opened her mouth to protest, but quieted when she remembered the feeling she had when dancing before. Despite her brain screaming to get out of there, her heart desperately wanted to feel that feeling again. So she began moving her arms again, trying to emulate the object of her affection. She started moving her legs, bending and straightening her knees quickly, as if trying to jump but never succeeding in leaving the ground. As the music continued, the young scientist sped up, flailing her arms around and making several erratic movements. Before she knew it she lost herself in the rhythm of the song, as she moved around and made a fool of herself.
The present Heloise buried her head in her hands. "I look like a dork," she moaned, performing the color changing face trick Jimmy liked so much.
Love, however, merely smiled. "And yet it's one of your favorite memories. Why do you suppose that is?
"I don't know," she groaned, throwing her hands up in frustration. "I've asked myself that so many times over the last few months. I just don't get it! What is it about him that makes me act so stupid?"
"You already know the answer," Love replied. "You're in love with him."
"Well, yeah, but why does that make me act this way? It makes no sense!"
"Love rarely does," the emotion said.
At that, Heloise glared at her rogue emotion. She pointed a demanding finger at her. "Look, you, why don't you quit with all these games. What are you trying to show me? I already know I love Jimmy!"
"Indeed, you do," Love nodded sagely. "But you have yet to know why you love him."
The young scientist folded her arms. "I have asked myself that more than once," she admitted.
"And you keep trying to change him to be more like you and Lucius," Love continued.
"Of course," Heloise concurred, "he'd be the perfect guy then. Only the strong are worth having."
The pure emotion merely shook her head. "That's really what Lucius and Asimov convinced you, isn't it? They just kept pounding it into you until you accepted it as truth."
"It is the truth," Heloise answered, coldly and bluntly. Then, her expression softened. "At least, that's the truth in Miseryville."
"Then maybe that needs to change," Love remarked.
At that, Heloise could only arch an eyebrow. "What are you saying? That I need to change things? The only way that could ever happen is if the Heinous family was overthrown."
"Well then, that needs to happen," her emotion responded. "You always say Lucius is too much of an idiot to run things…"
The young girl held up her hands in a defensive position. "No way, I'm not doing that. I mean, I thought about it after getting rid of Asimov, but I'd have to be an idiot to actually try. Every ruler of Miseryville has been overthrown by the next in line. Even now, Samy's trying to take down Lucius, even though he thinks no one knows. If I became ruler, all that garbage would just be redirected at me. Sooner or later, someone would get lucky and I'd end up dead. As long as I'm just the Head of R&D, I'm safe from any attempts, and I get to destroy stuff." Finishing this bit of exposition, she arched an eyebrow. "Besides, why are you telling me to do that? Aren't you supposed to be telling me to be peaceful and loyal or something?"
Love shook her head. "I'm telling you only what you've already figured out. Jimmy isn't safe as long as Lucius is around, and you know, deep down in whatever heart you have left, that it isn't right what the Heinous family has been doing."
"I don't care about anyone else," the brunette huffed. "Only me and Jimmy matter. Well, maybe I'll let Cerbee stick around…"
"Oh, you care," Love responded, "Lucius may have tried to turn you into a monster, but it's not too late for you. Deep down, buried under all that hatred that he and Asimov have surrounded you with, you're still the girl you were before you came to Miseryville."
At this, Heloise was filled with a wave of sadness. Usually, when the subject of her pre-Miseryville life was brought up, she successfully managed to repress her emotions, as she had been taught. However, with everything that her rogue emotion had brought back to the surface, she wasn't even attempting to keep her feelings in check.
"That girl doesn't exist anymore," she sighed, her eyes half-closing and her back slouching, "not even as memories."
"Oh but it does. Just look."
Heloise, for once without a snarky comment, turned back to the scene of her past self dancing with Jimmy. As the several months younger Heloise jumped around, she accidentally stepped on the inside of her dress. The unexpected tug that resulted caused her to lose, her balance, sending her crashing into Jimmy. The pair fell to the floor, landing on the carpet with a soft thud.
Blushing, Heloise tried to rise, but failed to find her balance. "S-sorry," she stuttered, the unfocused speech sounding out of place coming from her. "I just…"
But Jimmy cut her off by wrapping his arms around her and pulling her into his chest, all while laughing like a schoolchild on the playground. He rolled over so that Heloise was beneath him, causing her to blush more. "Aw, don't worry, this just means we have to change what we do," he said with a sly smile.
"What are you- wah!"
Her words suddenly descended into nonsense when Jimmy began rapidly assaulting her sides with his fingers, rapidly tickling her. Heloise squealed, and tried to say something, but all that came out was laughter.
Heloise desperately tried to think of a way out of her current situation. It had been so long since she had felt this sensation as she wasn't sure how to handle it. Finally, when she collected her bearings well enough, she managed to reach out and tickle Jimmy's side. Caught off guard, Jimmy laughed and ceased his assault, allowing Heloise to roll them over with her on top, and continue her counterattack.
For a few minutes the pair rolled around on the floor, tickling each other and laughing like absolute fools. After a while, they stopped, lying next to each other and breathing heavily, trying to stop laughing.
They were silent for a few moments as Heloise glanced at the blonde haired boy who was currently gazing at the ceiling, lost in his thoughts. Even at peace, he seemed so goofy, so lovable, so...
She froze as she suddenly realized what she was acting like.
"I have to go," she said, jumping to her feet. Before Jimmy could stop her, she was gone.