He heard a knock, he brushed it off on a branch in the wind, or his shovel falling over again. There was another, and another. He looked up and saw a shadow in the window. Tall and thin.
It couldn't have been Darrell, too tall, Shannon wasn't that thin. Raymond was taller and much bulkier and there was no way it was any of the others. He didn't get visitors, but maybe it was someone he couldn't recall right now, maybe one of the plaza kids who had stopped by that one time to just see what he was doing now. They weren't kids any more, so it made it harder to tell who was who, he's still ways see the brats that loved each other when he though about them. Boxman put down his book. He stood and started for the door, Makayla Mk.II was still happily sleeping in front of the fire, so it couldn't have been anyone programmed in as a threat. Boxman walked to the door.
He opened the door.
He wasn't expecting anyone, let alone him. Boxman felt a jumble of emotions in his chest, but he knew better than to turn to them. He had found ways to get past them, he had grown past the days where at the thought of a colour he went weak in the knees and started to see in shades pink with flower petals drifting around him. But he still didn't expect what he saw. A noise of confusion left his mouth as he looked out of the house and at him.
He was sweating, despite the cold. He was wearing only a scarf despite the cold. Boxman didn't know that he could even sweat after he had become cold blooded, but maybe a bit of the humanity was still inside him. Boxman watched as Venomous took a deep breath and shifted.
Boxman was not ready to see a cake shoved in his face, and he wasn't ready to hear it.
Boxman looked at the cake, he could tell it had been hand frosted, he could tell that the letters had been piped on. He could tell that the man in front of him meant it. He never remembered seeing the man cook, and he could never remember if the man had ever even mentioned cooking. He felt the tangle in his chest unravelling, but he took a deep breath.
He felt his face soften, and he put his hands on his hips, shaking his head.
“Here we go, again.” Boxman said.
The man outside stayed in his pose, shaking in the cold. Boxman couldn't tell if was the cold making the man shiver, or something deep inside of him. Boxman didn't feel his knees buckle, he hadn't felt that in a long time. He didn't see anything but the sparkle of flurries behind the man, which did shine just as the flower petals in his mind had done, but this time they didn't detract from what he rationally knew was real.
“You know, you should be wearing more than a scarf.” Boxman stepped back into the house a step or two, he looked up from the cake, opening his eyes. “Come in.”
He stepped inside and Boxman closed the door behind him. Makayla Mk.II stretched on the floor, coming to see what was going on.
“You look frozen, lets get you warmed up, how long have you been out there?” Boxman said, the man stopped by the door, Boxman walked to his couch and took a blanket from the arm, he walked back. “Please put down the cake, Venomous.” Boxman said softly, Venomous looked at the man and was quiet, hand shaking he put the cake down on a near by table. Boxman gently draped the blanket over Venomous' shoulders. “Lets get you a cup of tea.” Boxman gently lead Venomous into the living room and sat him down in the chair by the fire. Boxman walked into the other room, not before picking up the cake and glancing back at Venomous. Boxman stepped into his kitchen. He walked to the stove and put on his kettle, he took a second to put the cake he collected down. He could take the minutes to make the tea so that he could deal with himself.
Boxman leaned back onto the counter, sighing. He hadn't seen the man in, what felt like a full montage of life. He had heard about how Venomous had Shadowy punched out of him, and then relented to letting himself die at the hands of the monster Shadowy had made. He heard about Venomous and his planet, he didn't think the man would have already fully destroyed it.
Venomous' words echoed in his mind, “I'm sorry.”
It felt sincere, it felt nice, but he also knew he couldn't just fall back into Venomous' arms because he was back, and he had made an attempt at an apology. Boxman looked at the cake.
Boxman knew that Venomous would never buy him a cake- let alone any food, with poultry products in it. Even when his faith in the man was at it's lowest Boxman still trusted that the man had enough respect and love for him that he would never have to worry about Venomous doing anything to hurt him. Well, Venomous had hurt him when he had agreed to Shadowy's promise of power, but after that Boxman had faith that Venomous was truly out of control.
Boxman looked at the cake, he could see where a letter had been scoped out of the frosting, and how the cookie had been fiddled with after being placed into the frosting. He knew how much it would have cost to get a cake with no eggs, and he knew no bakery would have let a cake like this leave the back. Boxman felt a smile start to clip across his face. It was slightly lopsided, probably from the wind that it had been exposed to, and it was plenty cold to eat. Boxman turned around and pulled a platter off his shelves, and started to collect tea plates, cups, and silverware. He carefully adjusted the spread, until the kettle started to call. Pouring the hot water into a tea pot, he added tea leaves and settled it on the plate. There wasn't much room on the platter for anything else, so Boxman pulled out a knife and, with a small smile on his face, and a little tingle in his chest, cut into the cake.
He placed two modest pieces on the tea plates and got to finalizing the spread. He hadn't this meticulous about anything in a while, it felt nice to look into the details and make everything to his liking. He'd hadn't just made anything in a while, the kids where all so happy and in control he had maybe left them a little too in control.
He couldn't dwell on that right now. He picked up the tray. He turned to the door of the kitchen.
Boxman started to walk to the door, but felt himself hold back.
He had been alone all this time, he had been engulfed in bettering himself. He had been engulfed in making his life mean something. When he had told Shadowy to get out of his life and that everything was over between him and Venomous, he had given up his own children and went in search of nothingness. He had given up, just roaming the Neutral zone for anything.
That's when he had found something he had never expected. He had put it down as an mirage when he saw blue dancing in front of him. He had never expected that Jethro was okay, that there where several Jethro's left, and that his Jethro who had become a housing for more glorbs that necessary would be here in a quiet field, surrounded by his brothers and his followers. The story on how Jethro had finally been done with seeing his brothers smashed and lead the un harmed Jethro's from Boxmore, and too a place un touched had made Boxman first feel rage and fear. He had been terrified for the bot, he had mourned the bot. But those emotions died fast, he had felt proudness and happiness well up in him. He had cheered with his sons. He saw that Jethro, his baby Jethro saw the value of himself and made a choice to leave for the betterment of himself, and his brothers.
Boxman had seen something in Jethro that opened his mind and soul. Suddenly it was no longer depression for not being able to make his relationship last, and self hate for just abandoning his children when he didn't know what to do.
Now he knew that he had made the most powerful choices of his life. He had spoken up because he wouldn't stand for the abuse that had Shadowy sent his direction. He had told Shadowy that what was happening was not okay and he wouldn't stand for the destruction that was happening to him, his kids, and his home. He had stood there, directly told Shadowy to get out and leave him alone, to stop hurting his children, and to stop destroying everything that he himself had built up from the ground. When he had been told he didn't even own his own company any more and that he had to leave, he had felt destroyed, but he gulped and took that box. He had yelled for his children, the only thing important to him, and had learned that Jethro was no longer in production with no models in the factory. He had made his sadness seem like nothing in front of the kids, but he had to scream to himself internally not to be weak, and not to cry and sob. When he had stopped before leaving to speak to Fink one last time he had to bite his tongue to not cry. He when told her to 'hang in there, kid,' he had wanted to pick her up and put her in that box, and take her away from the thing that had consumed her caretaker. Deep down he knew that wasn't what she wanted and restrained himself. She was stronger than him and would leave when she was fed up. When he had crossed the highway, he had to use everything in himself to not start sobbing. Declaring to himself he knew that it wouldn't have lasted had felt like a bandage to fix the hole in his heart. He had put down the box, feeling himself become over come and told his kids that they where free. He knew that he couldn't take care of them. He knew someone else could feed and clothe them, and that the Plaza was full of people who would. He knew that someone else could, and he couldn't. He had walked into the sun knowing that he had done everything in his power to make everything better for his children, even if it hurt him to the point of wanting to collapse into tears and never move again.
Boxman knew that Venomous wasn't Shadowy, and that Venomous had no control over what Shadowy had done. But he still knew that he had made the choices to leave, and that he was able to make himself better and fulfilled from that pain. He was able to find inner piece, come back to his kids, express his love for them clearly because he now had love for himself in a way he hadn't had before. He had read self help book after self help book teaching himself to get over Venomous, and how to help his kids succeed. He had been reading another about finding himself, he knew he felt lonely, the kids had all moved on, and Venomous had been gone for so long. But he also knew he couldn't just fall back into the arms of Venomous without a care. He couldn't do that to himself, he knew himself better than he ever had, and had the respect for his own feeling to not let his judgement get blinded.
He opened the door and walked into the living room. Boxman looked at Venomous, curled tightly in the blanket and shivering. He walked over to the couch and set down the tray on the table in front of it.