A/N: Woo, second chapter here we go! I honestly didn't expect this one to be *this* long; I think that was me getting a bit carried away with it (oops!). Also, sorry for leaving you guys in the dark for so long; I had this chapter finished a while ago but I couldn't sign in up until now (looking at you FF). Anywho, please forgive me and enjoy this chapter fellow readers!
Curse his short stature.
He had forgotten that he was only three feet tall, so his feet naturally dangled from the chair. Since he hated being reminded about it, he had ordered Mate to bring some books that were lying around in his bedroom. He came back a few minutes later with a couple of dictionaries and a thesaurus.
Now Tobey stood at the other end of the table, sitting atop a huge pile of books. He had grown bored and was now playing with his food, shoving his roasted potatoes around the plate. Mate sat next to him, his legs crossed as he watched Tobey roll his food in circles.
"Tobey," his mother chided at the other end of the table, "please stop playing with your food"
The boy tried to ignore his mother for a bit and instead stared at the dinner table. He noted how Mother had certainly gone all out with this one, for the table was now filled end to end with plates of delicious foods. His eyes glazed over the potato salad, baked ham, candied yam, roasted beef, and bacon-wrapped sausages that were laid in front of him. And dessert had yet to arrive!
His stomach grumbled at the thought of eating all those mouthwatering dishes. Disappointed, he looked back at his plate that only had Brussels sprouts and the cruddy roasted potatoes.
He flicked a potato away from his plate and glared back at her. "And why bother? It's half-past eight o'clock and the 'special guest' still hasn't shown their face"
His mother gasped at him. "Tobey! You know that your father is extremely busy with his job, so it's natural for him to be a little bit late"
"Well then sorry for being honest" he grumbled out loud. "I don't know why I thought he was gonna come this year. He didn't even show up to my last birthday…"
Odd. Why did he mention that out loud? While the memory was sure as day seared into his brain, he never mentioned this to anyone. Well, besides Mate.
His mother spoke up again. "And you know that it's because of his job sweetheart. It's especially being demanding for him with the holidays"
He pinched the bridge of his nose. Must she always say that every time? It's not like he hasn't heard that a million times already. "Mother, can you please stop defending him for once? The old man hasn't bothered to even visit us or send us a letter, while you keep sending ours every month"
He bit his tongue as he let those last words slip. Why in the world did he bring that up?
"Son, he probably just never got around to responding because his work gave him so much to d—"
"Mommy, can we please just eat already!?" the boy demanded. He slammed his fist on the table, causing his fork to fall off. He was infuriated that they were having this conversation now out of all times.
Offended at the display of defiance from him, his mother shoved her plate away and got up from her seat. "Young man, either you behave or you're not getting any desserts!"
His face softened at the thought of not getting a slice of the precious Yule log. He whined at her, "Wha-no that's super unfair!"
"Well, you've left me no choice. And your father will arrive today because he asked his boss for permission to leave for Christmas. He managed to convince him after showing how much effort he put into the company this year"
Tobey folded his arms at his mother. Well if she was going to play tough, so will he. "Oh really? Can you give me your word on that then, dear Mother?"
She scrunched up her face after hearing her stubborn son speak. She opened her mouth to respond, but no words came out. She tried again to conquer up some words, any words at all would do. But after a few failed attempts she slunk back into her seat, defeated.
"Aha, I knew it!" he snarked. "Even you are afraid that father won't keep up with his end!"
He smirked back at his mother, who was now looking down at her feet. She clenched her hands together as she kept her thoughts to herself. Then, as if making a last attempt to rescue the situation, she looked back up towards her son and pleaded, "Tobey, are you even looking forward to this dinner at all?"
His eyes widened as he took in those seemingly simple words. He certainly knew that what her mother was implying was not the fact that he wanted this dinner to end, but rather who was coming to said dinner. Was he looking forward to seeing his father? Sure, he still felt salty after that birthday, but did he truly not want to see him ever again?
He leaned back into the chair (well as close as he could without falling off) as he reminisced a certain tainted memory. If he recalled correctly, the last time he saw him was when the two of them had worked together to repair the lighting in the house. He remembers it so well because it had been quite some time since he saw him, and he counted the days until that weekend came. After finishing all the work around the house, he asked his father when they would get to work together again. The man suggested that they could work on a new project of Tobey's choosing, just the two of them. Ecstatic, he believed those words as they came out of his mouth, and for the entire week he gathered everything that could be needed for the weekend.
Of course, he should've expected that such things in life were too good to be true, for his father called the following Friday and told him that he was instead going to stay over at a coworker's house in Freeport for a few months. Surprised at his disappointment that his father couldn't keep up with yet another promise, he hung up on him and set off on creating a new project on his own.
That project would be Mate.
He looked down at his buddy, who was now trying to reach his feet while sitting down. The robot gave a few tries until he eventually gave up and started tapping the tips of his claws together, still waiting for the special guest.
The young genius couldn't help but feel the corners of his mouth turn up as he saw his buddy enjoying himself. Honestly, he wasn't sure how Mate turned out to be this way. When he first programmed Mate, he found out that by not making any changes to the original code, his robot developed a personality of its own. Despite the young boy's grumpy attitude, Mate ended up becoming a kind-hearted friend that would always stick by his side no matter what.
He takes a deep breath and looks back towards his mother, who was now facing him with a straight face. He delivers his answer to her, "Well umm mother I…". He hesitated for a moment, trying to be careful with his words seeing how delicate the current topic was. "I mean well...while I am still distraught over our last meet up I… guess a part of me still wished to see father for a bit…" he finally confessed.
Her face lit up for a brief moment but was soon overtaken by relief. "Oh Tobey, I know that you're still upset about him not always being there for us. But I think you should very well know that he still does love us with all his heart"
He gave a quick scoff after hearing the first bit. "Of course I'm still upset Mommy!"
He paused again as he looked away towards Mate. As if on cue, his friend gave him a thumbs up to show his everlasting support.
"I just...I guess I was willing to give him another chance is all"
He twiddled with his thumbs as he waited for his mother's answer. This dinner was starting to be a bit uncomfortable for him. Not even the Yule log was convincing enough for him to stay anymore.
"Aww," he heard his mother coo. "It's wonderful that you're willing to give him another chance. And you know what, since you're being so sincere with me—"
"We can commence dinner now?" he eagerly barked.
"No. But I will let you go to your room and wait there until your father gets here"
Huh, he noted. Does she still have high hopes even after that 'pleasant' conversation?
He shoved the thought away for a moment as he grinned at her mother. "Really? Why thank you mother!" He was happy that he could get away from this seemingly unbearable dinner.
He triumphantly stood up from his pile of books and gestured to Mate. "Come along my friend! We shall commence a new adventure in the comforts of our bedroom!"
Mate gave a quick salute as he jumped down to the chair he was sitting on. He grabbed the book at the bottom as he carefully lifted Tobey off the chair and settled the stack onto the ground. It wobbled for a brief moment and the boy almost lost his balance, but fortunately he quickly regained it back.
Tobey leaped off his book throne and scurried away to the hallway. Mate kept up with his pace, not losing a step in his stride.
The pair arrived at the end of the hallway where his bedroom was. However, Tobey was already overwhelming himself as he immediately started thinking about all the fun that the two would have together. Perhaps they could finally finish their pillow fort that the two started the other day. Or maybe they could rummage underneath his bed to find some old parts that Mate accidently lost down there. No doubt that they were going to have a lot of free time on their hands (at least while they waited for his father to arrive). Why, with so much time it was going to be impossible to choose just one!
Feeling a bit hesitant, he decided to consult his friend on his opinion.
"Hey Mate, what should our next adventure be about?" the young genius asked him as he reached for the door handle. He had just placed his hand on the handle when he heard a faint sound of crunching snow outside of the house.
Tobey immediately let go of the handle and perked up his ear to see if he could make out anything. After a moment of silence, he was greeted with the now much louder sound of rapping on the door. Yep, there was no questioning it this time.
He quietly gasped to himself in both surprise and awe. While normally he would've just ignored such noises and run into his room since mother typically didn't want him around when a stranger came towards their house, he had a feeling he knew exactly who it was.
But could it really be him? It's been quite a long time and while he was a little bit excited to see him, a new feeling arose in his stomach. It felt like multiple butterflies were flying around, the beating wings making him feel uneasy. It certainly wasn't the first time he met with these imaginary butterflies however. He's felt it many times before in fact, such as when he and Mate pulled off a prank on some of the students and the teacher would catch them in the act.
Yes indeed, it was fear. He was afraid of meeting his father again.
He slid down the side of the hallway and grabbed his stomach. Rubbing his arms up and down, he tried to reason out this sense of nervousness that overcame him. Slow, shaky breaths came out as he attempted to calm himself down. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't clear the many buzzing thoughts from his head.
Seeing how he wasn't getting anywhere, he conjured up a new plan of action.
Leaning a bit so that he could reach his friend, he placed a finger over his lips and ushered Mate to the hallway entrance. Once he got the message, he then rose and tiptoed towards the edge of the hallway. He made sure that each step of his wouldn't cause a creaky sound and bring attention to him. Mate follows close by, and once he was at his side the two peek their heads out from the corner.
His eyes moved across the room as he saw his mother finally rush towards the door. She promptly stops for a moment and attempts to fix her hair, despite the lack of loose strands flying around her. After a quick glow-up, she opened the door as she greeted a menacingly tall man at the door.
Yep, that's him alright, he assured himself. His father's stature was one of the many defining features that Tobey uses to identify him.
He watched as the man stepped into the household. He had blonde hair just like him, however he didn't need a pair of glasses. He wore a black and orange plaid shirt with a thick black jacket over it. Below it, he donned a messy pair of denim pants, as one could tell by the smudges of oil all over it.
The boy watched as the man chuckled at a comment his mother made and gave her a quick peck. She then proceeded to give him a cheerful laugh, but about what was beyond him.
It certainly was odd seeing how nonchalant his mother was acting, especially since she hadn't seen him in quite some time. She was acting as if he was gone for merely a day when they both knew very well that time doesn't work like that.
"Oh, Mr. McCallister!" an overwhelmingly cheerful yet familiar voice cut through the air.
"Yes, good sir?" Tobey chirped back. He then proceeded to smack his forehead as he realized that their cover had been blown.
Why oh why did I say that? It was a dumb thing of ours that we used to do back in the day, how does he still remember that?
His chest tightened at the thought of talking with his father. He just wasn't ready yet, and he sure didn't want to be forced to hold a conversation with him either. That was simply asking for disaster.
He should've stayed in his room when he had his chance. If he was ever going to talk to him, it would be on his own terms. There was no forcing anything out of him, and if that means locking himself in his room and having Mate be a bodyguard again then so be it.
He looked down at Mate and pulled him close so that he could whisper to him. "Dumb me, I ruined it! Well no worries, for I have a new plan Mate! We'll sneak into my room and you'll be my temporary bodyguard again. And if anyone asks, I'm in the middle of an ultra-important project. Sound good?"
The robot ignored him as he peeked back towards the living room, then pointed at the tall man.
"Yes, that's my father I know, but I don't wanna speak with him"
Mate placed his arms on his hips as he glared back up towards him.
He scoffed at the new authoritative attitude his bot had gained. "Don't you dare give me attitude! Look, we're eventually going to talk to him but not now, okay?"
"Dear, if you're going to play spies again," his mother advised suddenly, "then next time make sure you aren't a mere six feet away from us"
Tobey poked out of his hiding spot to see both his parents staring in his direction, his mother with her hands on her hips as well.
"Oh crackers and jam," he grumbled. "This isn't going to end well for me"
A/N: And voila, another chapter done! I'm not 100% confident with how I paced it for this one, but I have no idea if that's just me being too nitpicky or not. Now fair warning: the next one may or may not be the definitive final chapter (I'm still thinking about it a heh eh). However, I do have an epilogue planned out for it, I'm mainly just debating on if it'll be too umm rough (to put it in simple words). I mean, I did say it was going to be angsty and I feel like it just needs a tad bit more ya know.
Anywho, thank you so much for reading, and we shall meet again in the next chapter. Ta-ta! 3