Anonymous Benefactor


caliban_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif

Scene Title Anonymous Benefactor
Synopsis Gillian receives an invitation to the Corthinian's grand opening via a somewhat disgruntled courier.
Date February 16, 2010

Peyton's Apartment

Usually someone's present in the condo left to Peyton Whitney by her adoptive parents. Not a penthouse, but high up, spacious and expensive. The sun's up, but it's still quite early, with a cool crisp biting at those who wish to venture outside. Papers shift and fall into a box, photocopies that have some unledgable portions. Printouts of newspaper articles. Public records all, but they fill a whole box for the former librarian, as she sits on the couch, sorting through them again.

Gillian should have made better notations. There's something she can't find, that she's looking for. A vague memory reminds her it should be there, among the stack of information, though she doesn't remember where. A news article that Liz may decide to investigate, once she gets everything together enough to go in and show her.

It doesn't help that her mind has been scattered and elsewhere, making it hard for her to be the detailed young woman that had been trusted with researching a subject.

The baby monitors on the table are turned on, though one gets knocked off as she moves the box aside. It lands on the floor with a thump. There's no baby at the other end, but a roommate trying to catch some daytime sleep. The monitor would be their first line of defense against the nightmares… but it also means she may as well be alone in the condo. Even if she's not.

It's not so cold that the garden sparrows aren't already out in full force. Occasionally, one or two will dart past the window or briefly alight on its ledge to give their wings a rest and their hearts a chance to catch up with their small bodies, which resemble balls of light brown fluff with darker masks around the pitch black of their glittering eyes. Then they're off again, chasing one another through the threadbare branches of the elm trees that line the street outside.

The only sound noisier and more constant than their shrill twittering is the not-so-distant rumble of city traffic. Sometimes, Gillian's concentration is interrupted by a blaring horn or the sound of tires skidding across frozen pavement, but so far no crunching metal or wailing sirens. With the weather as harsh as it's been, there are bound to be accidents today — just not within earshot.

The knock at the front door, however, is.

Sometimes it would be good to be able to wish the birds away— but they're less of a distraction than snoring. Gillian's in the process of bending down, fingers touching the monitor, when the door gets knocked on. It stops her for a moment, causing her to jump a little, startled, but a moment later the plastic electronic is placed back on the table.

A skitter of papers fall to the floor, as she'd pushed the box a bit. After another second of looking at the papers as if they're nothing but trouble, she straightens and walks to the door. The marred tattoos that she never got fixed stand out on her bare arms, and another on her stomach. The shirt she wears bares her middrift a bit, and the jeans are low enough as well.

Leaning up toward the door, she glances through the spy-hole.

The man standing on the other side of the door isn't one Gillian recognizes, but he isn't dressed in a way that suggests he doesn't belong in the building. A charcoal gray suit with lighter-coloured pinstripes that makes him frame appear just a little leaner than it actually is, which is fairly trim to begin with. As Gillian is looking through the peephole, he raises his hand again and gives another brisk knock with the back of his knuckles, hand clad in a dark leather glove.

Whoever he is, whether he belongs here or not, he's impatient.

Smart money could be on pretending to not be there at all. After a few moments, though, after another impatient brisk knock, the door begins to unlock. After something metallic slides into place with a rattle of a chain.

Deadbolt, the doorknob, until she pulls it open against the chain and peeks through. "Can I help you?" The chain doesn't offer much protection, just a small amount of security, and a show of suspicion, or at least caution.

In New York City, he can hardly blame her. There have been so many tragedies and murders in the wake of the bomb that there are neighborhoods where people don't open their doors anymore, and while this isn't one of them, it isn't uncommon for the more reclusive types to pretend they aren't home.

The stranger doesn't know anything about Gillian Childs except for what he's been told, and is neither pleasantly surprised nor feeling validated when her face appears in the door's frame. "I'm looking for Miss Childs," he says, reaching into his jacket's interior — not to pull out a knife or a gun, but a plain white envelope held between two fingers. "With who am I speaking?"

The reaching seems to make her lean back a bit. Gillian might be tempted to slam the door shut, and she likely would had it not been a harmless envelope. While this is her formal residence for registration purposes, it seems to come as a surprise anyway, from the way she blinks a few times. "I— "

A shake of her head, she glances back, as if trying to look for someone, or looking at someone. Maybe the person he's looking for. Perhaps she's trying to indicate she's not alone. Which she's not, but the one who happens to be home is curled up with a stuffed animal right now.

Looking back, she grips the door knob with one hand, "I'm Gillian Childs."

There's some measure of relief in the man's expression at Gillian's admission, but not much. Just enough to reinforce the idea that he either doesn't want to be here or might have been anticipating more difficult circumstances. "Your presence is cordially requested at the Corthinian Hotel's grand opening next Monday evening," he says, offering her the envelope. "Enclosed, you will find one ticket and four hundred and fifty dollars in cash with which to buy yourself a dress in the event that you don't already own something appropriate. If you do, consider it a gift from an anonymous benefactor."

"I— what?" Gillian says, blinking in even more shock. This time she doesn't look behind her. "Four hundred and fifty dollars? Are you gucking shitting me?" The Hotel's grand opening next Monday. That had come up in many of her recent searches for Linderman Group investments. It's as if someone dropped an investigation link right into her lap… "Anonymous benefactor— who would give me money and a ticket to an event like that? I'm not exactly the high society type."

There's lowered eyebrows, perhaps additional suspicion. Could someone have seen her snooping around and be hoping to buy her out? After a moment, she reaches a hand out to take the envelope. Trap or not, it's a good way to see what they're up to, outside of the paperwork. And if not, free money. "Don't guess you'll tell me who the benefactor is?"

"Not if I want to keep my job," the man says, "but between the two of us, I'd go out of my way to look sharp for the engagement. There are likely to be some people in attendance that you may recognize." Which is as close to revealing the identity of Gillian's sponsor as he's going to get. "You might try Mint Julep on Ludlow or Sugarplum over in Lynbrook," he recommends. "Of course, if you'd prefer, you can always use three hundred of that to purchase another ticket?"

"Well I wouldn't want you to lose your job," Gillian says absently, as she claws at the envelope to make sure it contains what he said it contained. He's lucky she doesn't have telepathy, or she'd probably have something to say about that. "Thanks for the advice. I'll likely go it alone, unless my roommates want to go." And she's sure Peyton can afford her own ticket, and spending only fifty dollars on a dress wouldn't make her very presentable at such an affair. Even if it's more like what she'd usually spend on one.

"I guess you can tell your employer thanks."

"I'll be sure to pass the message along." He wasn't lying: printed on stiff ivory with lettering in gold leaf is one ticket for Monday's gala with Gillian's name written on it in ink and drawn by hand rather than printed by a machine. The cash is all in fifty dollar bills, presumably to minimize the physical amount Gillian is carrying on her. It isn't rumpled, either — whoever was responsible for sealing the envelope made sure that the money came fresh from the bank, crisp and presentable.

"All right— I'm guessing that's all," Gillian says, looking through the cash with quite a bit of surprise. She's never had much money in her life, and while she's gotten used to being around rich people lately (Cat and Peyton mostly), it's still a surprise. None of the usual suspects would be anonymous… "Don't get in a wreck on your way out. The roads are stupid right now," she adds, before closing the door, and beginning to lock it up again.

Now she's going to have to grab Peyton for some dress shopping.

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