Hard to Breathe
Violet is faced with raising Jack Jack on her own, and Syndrome, the one that was locked away and should have been out of her hair forever? He wanted to talk to her. But there was a worse threat out there- the trouble was finding it.
I do not own the Incredibles, Dragon Ball Z, or Superman.
The overcast was gray and dreary, which, Violet mused, suited the mood just fine. Her hand, rough and calloused from many years of fighting, squeezed the tiny one tucked in her palm. It was never fun, going to this place, surrounded by marble tombs and filled with telling secrets and silence. If it wasn't for the fact that the dead slept there, it might have been beautiful.
It was a place dedicated to Supers, to the ones that had fallen in battle, or had died living their lives for the people they protected. Flowers were planted at every grave. By family, by friends. They were all loved, all dearly missed. Somewhere, here, were the dedications to the supers who had died during the Super Relocation Act, the ones that had died still serving their country, or those that had died because of Syndrome.
And here was the burial place of her own family. Hers and Jack Jack's. Violet pursed her lips, her grip tightening slightly on Jack Jack's hand. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that they had died. She was only seventeen years old. She still needed her mom and her dad. She still needed her annoying little brother.
But life wasn't about what one deserved, and it would never be. How could it? It was life, cold and cruel. But it could also be giving, and loving, and full of happiness. Sometimes... sometimes it just took time to find it. Jack Jack tumbled forward, flowers clenched in his other hand. He led them down the path to their graves.
The parents he couldn't remember, the older brother he would have loved. He was four years old, and Violet was the only person he had left. He was all she had, to. The path was familiar to them. Violet had been making the same trip every month for the past two years. Jack Jack hadn't always been with her. Sometimes, Violet just had to be alone.
God, Violet missed them. She missed Dash's teasing, their little quarrels, or when they would sit down and play video games for ten hours straight. She missed the feeling of her dad's protective arms around her, shielding her from the world with their strength, or the smell of her mom around the house. Cinnamon and vanilla. Spicy and sweet. It was painfully clear though that she would never get them back. Nothing could bring back the dead.
It had been hard at first. Jack Jack had only been two years old or so, and she'd only been fifteen, when they had died. It had been a rough death. Xerek, a villain from the past, had unleashed a terrible army upon Metroville, and would have, eventually, unleashed around the world. The army had been mutated humans injected with the Super Genome. They became super, alright, but their bodies had been unable to handle it. They were chemically unstable, and their newly developed powers would more or less cause them to destroy themselves.
Robert, Helen, and Dash had fought valiantly against the mutant army. They managed to destroy half of the army (with the help of the United States Army, naturally, and other supers) beforeXerek called them back. He'd been leading the army from his base, and Dash, in a moment of quick thinking, tore the homing device from his suit and latched it onto one of the mutant were then able to track the army, which led them to Xerek. They had killed him, but at the cost of their own lives. The base had exploded upon Xerek's death, and the three supers had been in the blast.
She could remember the day they were pronounced dead very clearly. It settled deep within theback of her mind, sometimes flickering into the foreground. Violet had been sitting on the couch, anxiously awaiting her parent's arrival, with Jack Jack sleeping in her arms. His head had rested against her chest while she held him protectively. The room had been dark, but she had never minded it. It was a part of life, the darkness.
Violet had been waiting for two days for her parents to come back. She'd been forced to missschool, because she couldn't leave Jack Jack with a sitter. Something had churned in her gut, telling her something was wrong. It told her not to let someone else watch him. Why, she didn't know, but she was glad she had listened.
There had been a knock on the door. Violet stood up immediately to open it, Jack Jack still in her arms, and was faced with a grim looking Rick Dicker. He'd always been a family friend, he'd helped them relocate back when they hadn't been allowed to be supers. Robert had always kept in touch with him, and they would sometimes get special cases that required their services. Violet and Dash wouldn't, they were too young, but her parents would.
"Mr. Dicker," Violet greeted. Her stomach dropped. Something wasn't right. Why would he be there if it was? "H-how can I help you?"
"May I come inside, Violet?" He asked. Violet moved aside and allowed him entrance. Rick slowly moved inside and sat on the couch. He looked down at his weathered hands, aged and cracked. His shoulders slumped, weighed down by the news, and the guilt. He didn't speak, but released out a slow sigh. He didn't have to. When he looked up into her eyes, they were full of unshed tears. He was a man of cool expressions, careful stoicism. He never held his heart on his sleeve. But Robert and Helen had been good friends. When he looked up into her eyes, Violet just knew.
"They aren't coming back, are they?" Her voice cracked. Rick didn't say anything. Violet's knees fell to the floor as she closed her eyes and sobbed, clutching Jack Jack close. It just wasn't fair. Why did they have to die? Why them? They were needed, here. She couldn't take care of Jack Jack by herself. She couldn't be a super by herself. Violet needed them. Her parents had been pillars of strength, they guided her and she wasn't done learning. And Dash... Oh Dash...
Violet, too, would have been in the blast, if it wasn't for the fact that Helen insisted that she stay with Jack Jack. It had been the smart choice. Dash would have been too young to take care of him if something had happened to the three of them, and they had needed him besides.
A part of her hated that she hadn't gone with them, hadn't protected them, but she was glad, too. Jack Jack didn't need to live in a world on his own, adopted by strangers. Her mom had understood that, and she respected her mother's decision. No matter how much she might wish otherwise.
Thankfully the NSA had stepped in. Rick Dicker had been declared their legal guardian until Violet turned sixteen- when they declared her a legal adult, so Jack Jack would stay within her custody and not go to an orphanage. In return, Violet would continue being super and would protectMetroville as best as she was able. That had also been when Violet officially dropped out of school. She just knew she couldn't balance raising Jack Jack, being a Super, and school work atthe same time. Violet wouldn't have any time. Besides, being a Super was a full time job anyway, and they paid her weekly for her service so she could pay her bills.
Saving Metroville had been a thing of trial and error for awhile- she may have been an Incredible,but Violet wasn't her mother and father. Sometimes, the bad guy would get away and would cause more damage, kill more people. Each failure on Violet's part hit home. It was like she wasfailing her mom and dad and Dash, over and over again. She hated that. Her powers were more suited for stealth rather than combat, and was forced to become more inventive with her dealings with criminals.
Still, Violet had a duty and she took it very seriously. And as the years passed, she got better. But the pain from losing her parents never faded, but Violet pushed those feelings aside for Jack Jack. He needed her, and the dead were dead.
Violet was forced to balance her super life and her home life. She'd taken on the responsibility of raising Jack Jack, though Rick, and E dropped by constantly to help out, and raising a growing little boy, especially one with super powers, was hard work. But it was worth it. Violet had a stronger relationship with them than she would have had had her parents not have died.
The pair came to a stop in front of a large marble statue, dedicated to the three Incredibles. Engraved into a gold plate was their names and respective birthdays, and their shared death date. Violet's knees fell to the ground as tears silently fell from her eyes, her calloused fingers tracing over the grooves in their names. Jack Jack leaned his head on her shoulder, quiet. He was such a talkative boy, but the solemn mood around them settled deep into their bones.
Without a word, Jack Jack placed the flowers on the base of the statue. He didn't understandwho they were, nor did he understand the loss of those that had loved him. He couldn'tremember their faces, nor what they were like. But that was okay, because Violet told him. Shetold him all the great stories, how heroic they were, how much they had loved him. How happy they had been. He loved those stories.
Violet squeezed his hand, standing up. Today didn't feel like a day for words. There wasn't muchto be said. She loved them, she missed them, but she was also needed here.
"Come on, Jack Jack," Violet whispered. "Let's go home."
"Kamehameha!" Violet muted the t.v. and ignored Jack Jack's angry cries. It was an old cartoon, went out of production years, ago, but it was Jack Jack's favorite. They tried to revamp it for younger viewers, but in Violet's opinion, they failed. Epically.
She picked up the ringing phone. "Hello?" Violet greeted.
"Violet, this is Rick. We have something we might need you to look at. Come into the officetomorrow morning. As always, child care will be available for Jack Jack." Violet frowned, curiosity overwhelming her. It wasn't usual for Rick to have an assignment for her specifically.
"Sure, I'll come in. Is eight good?"
"As ever." His tone turned from the austere professionalism to something more suited to a kind, caring favorite uncle. Which is what he had been, that year he had been her and Jack Jack's legal guardian.
Lucius and Honey might have been made their guardians when their parents died. However,Honey was not a super and she wouldn't have been able to handle Jack Jack's chaotic behavior. Rick had treated them well. He treated Violet as an adult, visited them every other day at their house, and made sure they were well cared for. But he always made sure that Violet knew that he was there to listen, if she ever needed an ear. Though she did not take him up on that offer, Violet never the less appreciated it.
"How are you and Jack Jack?"
"We're good. All the bills are paid and I even was able to buy Jack Jack some new clothes, after he managed to destroy most of his old ones." Destroy was an understatement. Jack Jack literally burned right through them. When Violet had finally been able to catch him, he was a very naked baby standing in the middle of the living room floor. It was actually something very, very common for him.
Rick chuckled. "That is good. Are you liking E's new suit?"
"Yes." In truth, she preferred the old suit. It still identified her as an Incredible. Getting a new suit... it would introduce Violet as her own super, away from her family. But she didn't want anyone to forget them and the good they did. It wasn't as if the suit was bad... It was simple- black and purple, with a bit of silver lining. Beautiful, all of E's work was, but Violet didn't want to let go of what she had.
"I'm sure you'll get used to it, Violet. Your parents would be proud of you." Violet managed a half smile, though Rick couldn't see it. He always ended their conversations that way. He wanted to make sure she knew that. But no matter how much Rick told her that, Violet never believed.
"Thanks, Rick. I'll see you tomorrow."
"See you tomorrow, Violet."
Violet hung up the phone. What could he possibly have to talk to her about? She was assigned for the protection of Metroville, dealing with their petty and not so petty criminals and villains. Assignments had always been more for her parents. Besides that, he knew she wasn't about to leave Jack Jack with anyone. Rick and E could barely handle him, no one else would be able to. The child care team at NSA hated it when she stopped by.
"Viii!" Jack Jack's voice rang through the empty home. Violet glanced over to him and his angrily furrowed brow. She smiled.
"Hold on, sport, let me get that for you." Violet bumped up the volume as she watched the cartoon. She used to watch Saturday Cartoons with Dash all the time. She wished they could all sit down and watch it, together, as a family, because it was the little moments that mattered. Violet picked up the child and held him in her arms as she sat down in front of the t.v. with him, her chin resting on his head.
It wasn't the entire family, but it was enough.
"Why are we going to the NSA?" Jack Jack asked. For the fifth time. Violet sighed, her thumbs tapping against the leather steering wheel, attempting to balm the bubbling annoyance inside her. But it was okay. He could be curious. Still, Violet just wished he would listen to her instead of asking her five thousand times.
"Because, Uncle Rick wants to talk to me about something."
"Can I come with?" He asked, excited. Violet sighed. She hated refusing him, but it might besensitive information, and children were prone to revealing secrets.
"I'm sorry bud, but I can't. Uncle Rick wants to talk to me privately." The light turned green and Violet pressed on the gas pedal gently. As the turn came up, Violet turned on the turning signal. The parking lot was always packed at the NSA, no matter what time of day she came.
"I never get to see Uncle Rick," Jack Jack pouted. Violet glanced at him in the mirror.
"You just saw him last week!"
"I never get to see him at work," he clarified. Violet rolled her eyes and turned them back to the road.
"I'm sorry bud, but I have to take you to Child Care. It won't be long." Violet parked the car and sighed. Jack Jack was pouting in the back, his lip quivering as he looked up at her. She rolled her eyes. She sighed.
"Tell you what. After we leave here, what do you say we go for ice cream?"
"Yes!" Jack Jack easily got out of the car and obediently held her hand as she led him into the building. The Child Care unit were distressed upon seeing them, but Violet reassured them quickly. She told them they wouldn't be staying very long, and that was all they needed to hear.
Violet made her way to Rick's office. It was a large office, very comely and soothing. There was still a no nonsense feel about it, but she supposed it was just something that oozed from his personality. Still, Rick was a comfort of normalcy when things seemed most strange, a rock that, no matter how much you beat upon it, wouldn't back down. He provided comfort when Violet was hitting hard times, but had no problem with being frank and to the point.
She knocked on the door. "Come in," he beckoned. Violet didn't hesitate. She closed the door behind her and sat in the only chair, opposite of his desk. Rick watched her. When she was seated, his shoulders slumped ever so slightly- in that tired way they always did when he was about to reveal something bad. Violet readied herself.
"As you know, Code Name Syndrome, A.K.A. Buddy Pine, has been in solitary confinement for the past three years." Violet raised a brow, wondering where he was going with that. She had been aware. Apparently he had someone offed in prison (he couldn't be bothered to do it himself) and the trail had led straight back to him. Being in solitary confinement for the pastthree years was sure to mess with his head. Violet didn't think she could handle it, and Syndrome had a screw loose already.
"He just got out recently, and he made a request."
"What was that?" She asked, curious.
Rick gave her a sad look. "He wants to see you."
Violet stilled. Syndrome. He wanted to see her? Why would he- why did he... No. No! She wouldn't see him. Never. He'd tried to kill her parents, tried to kill her and Dash, and to kidnap Jack Jack. The only thing he could possibly have to say to her was to mock her about her parents death. Actually, Violet was sure that was it. Her fists clenched in anger. He had no right to request anything, especially from her. She didn't know him personally, and didn't want to. But Violet did know enough to know that she wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.
"And- what did you say to his request?" Violet asked. Rick didn't say anything. "No- Rick- please, you can't possibly-"
"It's out of my hands, Violet. Syndrome is offering valuable information in exchange for his release. He's already given the government leads on many terrorist weaponry- including those located in Saudi Arabia. He has valuable intel, intel that could save lives, and all he asked was to speak with you."
"Are you kidding me?" Violet asked, standing. The chair skid back at her force. "Rick- he killed Supers! Lots of Supers! The damage he had inflicted upon Metroville was extensive, and he nearly killed my family and kidnapped Jack Jack! He-"
"I'm afraid I can't let you out of this one, kid." Violet furrowed her brown and unleashed a low growl. She had to accept. Had to. Damn politicians- didn't her pain mean anything to them? No, of course not. Not when there were thousands of lives at stake. And that was, honestly, the way she should have been thinking. But she wasn't. Guilt stirred in her heart.
"For how long?" Violet asked. Quieter that time.
"Syndrome made it very clear," Rick said. "That the more he sees you, the more information he will give up. Including secrets to his own weaponry."
"You realize he has some sort of motivation for this, right?" Violet threw back at him. "There is no way he would do something like this without having a reason."
Rick sighed. "I know, Violet. However, your orders aren't coming from me, but the President himself."
And no one could refuse the president, especially a government agent, like her. Regardless of her age, she was still employed by the NSA, which was a sector of the government. Refusing him was like refusing the Queen of England. It just wasn't done.
"Let me guess- the president plans on pardoning him from his crimes?" Rick said nothing. He didn't have to say anything. It was obvious. Violet sighed. "When will he be released?"
"In a year's time."
Violet closed her eyes. "And what if he begins terrorizing Metroville again? What then? What if.. what if he goes after me? After Jack Jack?" Panic bubbled inside of her. No- she couldn't allow that to happen. "Rick, he can't get to Jack Jack, I won't let him-"
"He won't," The man said reassuringly. "He will be protected at all times upon Syndrome's release. Besides, the boy can be a bit of a handful. Syndrome won't be able to control him."
"That's reassuring," Violet said, sarcasm dripping from her words. She collapsed into her seat, head in her hands. The idea, it was stupid. She hated it. Syndrome didn't deserve to be set free. He didn't deserve to live. But Violet knew she had no choice. Her orders had come from the president, after all.
"I accept. When do I begin visiting the prisoner?"
He gave her a look of approval. "Every third Saturday of the month." Rick handed her a file on Syndrome. Gingerly, resentfully, she took it and tucked it under her arm. "Your parents would be proud of you, Violet."
Violet gave him a grim smile, but didn't voice what was really going through her head. She highly doubted they would be feeling anything akin to pride, at that moment.
Violet watched as Jack Jack lapped up his ice cream with such a ferocity she was surprised he didn't get a brain freeze. She didn't get her own ice cream cone, having no desire to eat anything. In just a few days she would be seeing the bane of her father's existence, and had no desire to. Damn politicians. Damn super powers. If she'd been normal, she wouldn't have had to deal with this. If she'd been normal, she'd been separated from Jack Jack, possibly for forever.
The young woman sighed. No matter how she sliced it, she couldn't win. She'd never win. If she didn't have powers, it might have been better. If she didn't have powers, it could've been worse. Violet wiped Jack Jack's mouth and rolled her eyes at the mess he had made. It was all over him, and his clothes.
"Next time Jack Jack, try not to make such a mess." He giggled at it instead of the appropriate, 'I'm sorry, I won't do it again.' Ah, well, it didn't matter. Violet ran her fingers through his hair, blond, like their dad's. She wondered if he would look like him when he was older, if Dash would have, if he'd had the chance to grow up. "Looks like you're getting a bath, mister."
His eyes widened in horror. "No! Not a bath!"
"Yes, a bath," Violet scolded. "You're positively filthy, and I won't have you going to bed so dirty. If you behave, though," Violet continued, "I'll let you watch a movie before you go to bed."
"Any movie I want?" He asked, brow raised.
"Any Disney movie you want," Violet corrected. "Nothing violent. The last time I let you watch the Fifth Element, you woke up screaming."
"It wasn't that scary!" He defended. Violet smirked.
"I know, but you proved otherwise." She threw away the paper towels and the rest of the ice cream cone. She grasped her brother's sticky hand and led him out to the car. The car drive home was a quick one. Violet hadn't been as focused on the road as she should have been. In her mind, she kept replaying the events that led her to meeting Syndrome.
At the time, it had been almost like an adventure. Sneaking onto the plane had been easy with her own powers, and Dash ran in there without their mom noticing. Getting to the plane had been the difficult part, Violet ended up using her allowance to pay a taxi driver to follow their mom. He didn't ask questions, thankfully. It was already odd enough considering they were wearing their super suits.
Fighting the guards and exploring the island inevitably brought her and Dash closer together. They did save each other's butts, after all. Being there allowed Violet to use her powers for once and utilize them to their ultimate advantage. As a result, she gained confidence in herself where there hadn't been any at all. She also got to see her parents work together with their own powers. Violet had always known her parents were amazing, but seeing them using their powers... they were incredible. Cliche, but there wasn't any other word to describe it.
When Syndrome revealed his plans, Violet had felt a duty to the people of Metroville. To save them from the events Syndrome had set into motion. She actually wanted to use them, properly, and not to hide. Now, Violet felt a duty to make sure that Syndrome didn't get out of prison. Hewould do more harm than good, even with the intel he gave.
Despite what Violet felt her duty was, she knew there wasn't any point in disobeying. Or worse, sabotaging the information. It would only cause the government trouble, not Syndrome. What if it actually did save lives? What was the lesser of two evils, saving people and letting Syndrome go, despite his crimes, or allowing more people to die and letting Syndrome serve out test of his sentence, like he deserved? The former, obviously. When Syndrome finally goes free, Violet had to make sure Jack Jack was safe and she was able to prevent whatever large catastrophe he had planned. Once more, she had to make sure she would be able to do it on her own.
But she would stop him, Violet assured herself. She might not have been able to prevent him from leaving jail, but she would stop him from messing up Metroville again. Metroville was her home, and she would not let harm come to it. They turned into the empty drive way and Violet stopped the car. She really, really hated coming home to an empty house. Even if it wasn't their old home, (Which, in reality, they had too many "old homes" worth counting.) they had been here, together, and it was just.. so different. She'd never get used to the quiet.
"Are we going to get out of the car?" Jack Jack asked. Violet, shaken from her reverie, put on a smile and unbuckled him from the car seat before getting out of the car herself. The door slammed behind them. Violet grasped Jack Jack's hand, unlocked the door and opened it. The light filtered through, offering a grave, sort of solemn feeling. Dash would usually run up to greet them. Mom would say hello from the kitchen, the smell of something in the oven wafting through the air, and Dad would grunt as he gazed at the newspaper. But now, it was silent, and the air was still.
It didn't bother Jack Jack any. They stepped inside and Jack Jack pushed the door closed, before he ran to the t.v. and plopped himself on the floor. "Nuh uh, mister, you need a bath."
"Nyyuu, no baths!"
"Do you want to be sticky and ruin your Superman sheets?" Jack Jack's eyes widened in horror. Parish the thought! He hated ruining his Superman bedspread. It was a sacred thing, in his eyes. Violet smiled in triumph. Jack Jack sighed and reluctantly stood up to be led away to the dreaded bathroom.