Things had started to fall apart, since Alan had taken off less than a day ago: The board had been in contact asking for him, and they had already been contacted by Codsworth as well, demanding updates on the situation. Codsworth they could delay on. The board they could not. So, it had been up to Vernon that afternoon, to inform Jack that he would have to go in his father’s place.
“Why me?” Jack asked. He had never shown any form of interest in the business and when it came time for him to inherit it, he was in half a mind to tear the damn building down, brick by brick.
“You are the eldest Wolfrick. It’s your job.” Vernon responded.
“So, you guys just want to use my name?” Jack said angrily. It was at points like this that he regretted the fact that he had been legitimised.
“Yes sir. It shouldn’t be you. But it is.” Vernon said, with a bit more humanity in his voice. It had been a bit harsh to come in here and turn the lad’s life upside-down, but these things needed sorting. And the sooner the better.
“I need a drink.” Jack said lying on his bed, sounding more defeated than ever. He loathed the family company, no-one who worked in the top positions had raised a finger when his home was attacked. This however wasn’t the only reason that Jack hated the big wigs at his family company. There was also a rumour going around that when Charlie had requested equipment to help him recover from his injuries, the company had refused. Which is why Charlie had been forced to turn to dwarven medicine for help.
Later that evening Vernon and Jack sat alone in the dining room, it had been a chilly evening with Vernon and Dave not speaking. Along with Martin not understanding why their dad was not there with them and the gods alone knew where Nick was.
“You all right Master Jack?” Vernon said looking concerned.
“Why did he leave, Vernon?” Jack said looking up from the sofa. “Going away at this time?” He finished. Vernon didn’t respond, he knew who Jack was referring to without him saying and would almost certainly be having words with Alan for leaving them in this mess, if and when he returned.
“Well, I say that everyman needs a holiday kid.” Vernon responded.
“Vernon, you know what I mean. I know that he didn’t just leave for a holiday, that he has something to do. What I want to know is why now?” Jack responded laying his head back on the sofa. His head was spinning, having just been informed that the board of Wolfrick Co, had been on the phone again, demanding answers to that very question. Not only that, but Vernon had nominated him to go and speak with them.
“He had to leave. Master Jack.” Vernon said sitting down on the sofa next to the boy. “You're nervous about tomorrow, aren't ya'?” The butler finished looking at Jack, this would be the first time that the kid would have to step up in front of the entire board, normally Jack would have just refused, but Vernon had reminded him that he was now eldest Wolfrick and had to do his duty.
“Yes.” Jack said still looking up at the ceiling.
“Well, you wouldn't be human if you weren't.” Vernon responded; it had been the same with convincing Alan but at least Alan had had over a decade more experience than Jack had before meeting the board. “So, why don't you sit up, put your feet up. And I'll see about getting you a drink. All right?” Vernon said and Jack simply nodded not wanting to speak in case he threw up.
The following morning after little to no sleep for the pair of them, Vernon and Jack sat in the small waiting area outside the boardroom. This had come as a surprise to the butler, as the board had never made Alan wait for anything in a long time. Then remembering that this had been exactly how they had treated every new Wolfrick since the time of Jack’s great grandfather when they first came to the company. It seemed to be a way of sizing up the newcomer. Find out where the new limit was. Which meant that Vernon sat on the chair deeply regretting his decision to wait.
Vernon caught Jack looking over at the glass walls that was their only separation between them and the board. If truth were told, the lad looked petrified. ‘This is wrong. The kid should be enjoying himself. Not being forced to play this game with people almost three times his age.’ Vernon thought, before he decided to try and distract the lad with small talk, something that he was famously terrible at.
“Did you hear them mice last night, scurrying around in the loft?” Vernon said trying to make small talk to alleviate the stress levels. “Drove me bloody-mad. Now, may I ask you, what's the point of having a caretaker if they can't take care of nothing, eh?” Vernon continued before seeing the look on Jack’s face. “You all right, Master Jack?” Vernon said smiling. He could see the lad was already messing around with the tie, as a way to keep his hands busy. None of the Wolfrick brothers had had any event since their late mother’s funeral that deemed wearing such formal clothing, it had been hard to convince Jack to even wear a suit as was expected. But the kid had eventually relented.
“Hungry. I should've eaten.” Jack said, he had regretted that decision about halfway towards the city. But before he could think any more about his hunger. An assistant walked up to them.
“Excuse me, gentlemen. They’re ready for you.” The assistant said in the most condescending voice imaginable. It was as if she thought that because she was speaking to a child that she somehow thought she was better than them.
“If I do this, there's no turning back.” Jack said standing up as he spoke. He had come to the decision the previous night. For the longest time possible his family had let the companies top people run rings around both his family and the city. They already knew that they had had dealing with The Answer, although they denied it publicly. So, he had decided to try and get some proper answers for once. Vernon had supported the idea, but he was starting to doubt if that was the truth, or if he was simply a yes-man. He guested he would now find out.
“No. There isn’t” Vernon said, looking stern. “Now you go in there and say your peace. And then we'll see about getting you a proper breakfast, all right?” Vernon continued as he fixed the mess that the kid had created with his apparel and Jack nodded.
As Jack and Vernon entered the room, Ivan Blane spoke up, his smirking face looking at the two of them.
“Who the hell is this cripple, where’s Mr Wolfrick.” Ivan said looking around the room as other board members nodded their agreement. After Jack sat down, he looked around at the clinical room making a note of the man who had called him a cripple before starting.
“I'd like to thank the board for giving me this time. It will come as no surprise I'd like to talk about the group called The Answer. I know preliminary investigations have concluded Geoffrey Randall acted alone. I reject this conclusion." Jack sates firmly to the shock of the assembled board members. It pained him to be this pleasant considering how they had just openly mocked him, but he chose to follow Vernon’s advice on playing the long game with these people.
“I’m sorry to hear that Mr Wolfrick.” Brett Morgan said looking concerned but none of the concern reached his eyes, which remain as cold as stone. Another thing that Vernon had warned him about. These people may try and show you empathy, but they will always have an ulterior motive to their supposed kindness.
“After my home was attacked by the forces of Lord Boris, during my recovery. My father was led to believe that The Answer had taken control of this company, and it was they who hired Geoffrey Randall.” Jack said looking around, trying to gage the reactions to his words before continuing. “My father left Metropololis both for his own safety, and so that he might have the time to discover hard evidence of their existence.” Jack said, but he was interrupted then by a scoff.
“A conspiracy theory? That's why we're all here?” Ivan said smirking around at the group, at this comment Vernon speaks from behind Jack’s shoulder.
"Excuse me, Master Jack.” Vernon said, putting his hand on Jack's shoulder and stepping forward looking at Ivan with disgust in his eyes, it wasn't the first time he had had to defend a Wolfrick from the board and secretly enjoyed tearing these big wigs at every chance he got, despite what Alan may have thought about these men, if you could call them that, Vernon had come to the conclusion a long time ago, that they were nothing more than parasites. “Pardon me, sir. Might I have your name please?”
“What?” Ivan said, looking at Vernon like he was something disgusting that he had just stepped in.
"Your name. Please, sir.” Vernon said his eyes fixed on Ivan.
“Ivan Blane.” Ivan said smirking.
“Mr. Blane, did your parents never teach you any manners?” Vernon said.
“I don't have to listen to this.” Ivan said getting up but is stopped in his tracks by Vernon next words
“Oh, but you do, sir!” Vernon said his voice raised in anger for the first time, before getting control of himself. “That is precisely the point that I am making.” Vernon said in a normal tone.
“I know how it sounds.” Jack said, stopping for a moment thinking about what he was going to say next. “But I now have proof they exist. And I can tell you that they're here. In this room.” He continued and there was no murmuring now, no smug glances at each other. Every one of them was fixed on what he was saying. “You have twenty-four hours to contact me with a confession, or the information that I've gathered will be sent to every newspaper and media station in Metropololis. Thank you for your time.” Jack finished, getting up and leaving the room before any of them could raise their objections, smiling to himself as he walked.
“Pizza? Master Jack.” Vernon said also smiling
“Pizza.” Jack said, hoping that those men inside the boardroom had bought his bluff.
Back at the manor, Vernon walked up to Jack who was sitting in his chair at the table, eating the half of the pizza, his youngest brothers had made off with the other half as soon as they had arrived back.
“Any word?” Jack asked, it had only been an hour since the pair had arrived back from the company, but still. He was certain that they had bought his bluff, given the looks on their faces when he and Vernon had left. And he had already began to congratulate himself on coming up with such a great bluff.
“No sir. Give it time though. Remember what I told you on the way back up here. If you are correct, then it will take longer due to them scrambling to make excuses.” Vernon said taking one of the slices.
“I guess you’re right.” Jack said with a mouth full of food.
“Has anyone else tried to blackmail them?” Jack asked, it was something that had crept into his mind on the trip back up here. A dark cloud in his mind’s cheerful mood.
“Not in my time sir.” Vernon responded, as he leant in. “Which is why we are going to have to be extra careful. Perhaps we should look to securing the manor.” Vernon finished.
“Sure.” Jack said, taking another slice, he knew that Vernon was going somewhere with this train of thought and he already knew his answer to it.
“And we should limit the time your brother goes out. Less chance of him getting caught out in the open that way.” Vernon responded. Jack sighed. There it was and as he had known that was where the old butler was going, he already had his answer ready.
“If you can convince Dave to do that, then you can be my guess. Let me know how it goes.” Jack responded. He knew that he had just been slightly rude. But he also knew his brother far too well. If you told Dave to do anything, he would do the opposite just to spite you. Jack had found that out first-hand when he had tried to warn his younger brother about Howard on his first day at school. But Dave being who he was, had decided that instead of heeding his advice to stay away, that the best thing to do was to go and insult the oversized gorilla.
“As you say sir.” Vernon said. he knew what Jack was getting at, but it still surprised him that no-one would think that he Dave’s best interests at heart. “The lad is too reckless though; it will only end in people getting hurt.” Vernon finished, speaking his mind on the matter regarding Dave Wolfrick a kid who was so like his uncle in his attitude to general safety that people tended to get hurt. The old butler could only hope that the kid would not meet the same fate as Gerrard.
“Dave will do what he wants. It’s the rest of us that I’m worried about now.” Jack said looking out of the window as Charlie’s old cat, Patch, leapt onto the window shill and laid down in the bright sunlight.