My Grief Drives Me to Consume


alister_icon.gif des2_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Also featuring:

margaux_icon.gif sibyl4_icon.gif

Scene Title My Grief Drives Me to Consume
Synopsis Eileen pays Alister a visit shortly after his meeting with one half of Raytech's Board of Directors.
Date June 1, 2018

Staten Island Trade Commission

It's late, but Alister needs to relax, so he has chocolate and candles set up around his rather luxurious bathroom, as well as a soothing vanilla smelling bath bomb in his large tub.

He has a system for people to fill things up with steaming hot water for him.

So he lounges in the tub, reading one of these Kant books that Chess bugs him to read, just relaxing and eating chocolate that sits off to the side in a silver platter.

Steam wafts in the air and forms condensation on the bathroom's filmy windows. There's no rain tonight, but he can hear the breeze in the trees outside and the telltale rattle of early summer leaves opening in the dark.

It's not a bad way to relax. The heat of the water saps the tension from Alister's muscles and bones, allowing him to forget, at least for the moment, how poorly his attempt at negotiations with Raytech Industries went just a few hours ago.

Margaux is, unsurprisingly, passed out on the bed in the next room, sleeping off a hangover that's likely to carry into tomorrow no matter how much aspirin Alister feeds her. At one point, she was snoring, but she's since rolled over onto her side; the only sounds that reach Alister's ears are the ones coming from the other side of his window, and the gentle slosh of water lapping against the sides of the tub.

Then: Footsteps. Someone to refresh his bath, perhaps.

Alister doesn't move anywhere, he's used to people moving around in his penthouse. And, more importantly, he typically believes firmly in the security of said penthouse, so he continues to relax, assuming that anyone there, is supposed to be there.

He eats another chocolate instead.

A pale hand sweeps up the doorframe, long fingers curling around metal and polished wood as Alister's visitor comes into view.

Eileen Ruskin tips her head to regard the man in the bath like a fox might size up a plump chicken roosting in its nest. "You won't become a water baron hogging it all to yourself like that," she says.

"Eileen…" Alister says, staring at her, not sure what exactly to say, or how to interpret the fact that she's in his house. "I'm not sure how or why you're here, but I suppose if you'd like to share the water, you're free to join me."

He doesn't move from where he is, he's well aware that he's the vulnerable party here. "When I see you it's like I've entirely regressed."

Even when they were dating, Alister never saw Eileen's bare feet, and tonight is no exception. She wears trim leather boots, the kind that are built for both utility and fashion. The same can be said of the rest of her clothes: soft leather jacket, cotton top, and black denim jeans that hug hips and thighs.

Her eyes remain above Alister's waist, either out of politeness or something else, but still she takes a seat on the edge of the tub as if indecisive about whether to accept his invitation.

"I know."

"I'm told that you were unhealthy for me," Alister states, his eyes taking in every part of her, lingering on even the most subtle curves. "I'm lacking in unhealthy habits, I never so much minded you."

"But surely you didn't just somehow make your way into my house to talk," he suggests, and then tries to sit up a little, even though she still has him at an advantage.

Eileen dips her hand in the water, testing its temperature with the tips of her bare fingers. "Actually," she says, "that's exactly what I came here to do."

Dark hair rolls over her shoulders in a wave as she leans forward, at rest. Her curls carry with them the familiar smells of cigarette smoke and the Englishwoman's musky floral perfume, which small children have described as unpleasant but some grown men find fascinating.

She's well-aware that Alister fits neatly into the second category. "How was your day?"

"Stressful. I think I'm getting too old for negotiations." Alister picks up a piece of chocolate, holding it up to her as if he wants to feed her. "You're really going to sit there fully clothed, talking," he observes, perhaps realizing that she's serious.

"I don't particularly like Richard Ray or his sister, but they're necessary to properly repairing this island," he admits with a displeased groan.

"Richard Ray is a powerful man," Eileen agrees, using her fingers to swirl the water and create a slow, lazy whirlpool that spins clockwise, vortex-like. "He has a great many resources at his disposal. You might not want to admit it, but the two of you are very similar."

Her attention drifts from Alister's face to the pattern she's absently generated in the cooling bathwater. "Did he write you a check for the money you needed?"

"Of course not. He needs a favor in exchange, so I have to do that first." Alister rolls his eyes, eating the chocolate when she doesn't eat it. "So now I have to go hunt some religious nuts."

Eileen makes a low, sympathetic sound at the back of her throat. “It seems that you and I have something in common, too,” she says, resting her chin against the crook of her shoulder. “I’m looking for a man who I believe is currently in your employ, and acting on behalf of what I’m sure he thinks are your best interests.”

She withdraws her hand from the water and flicks the droplets from her fingers. “Etienne Saint James attacked me. I was lucky to escape with my life.”

Both her thick brown brows tick up into an expression that asks: Do you see how this might be a problem?

"Why would Etienne attack you? That's not like him." I don't think, is the unspoken part of Alister's sentence. Then he reaches out for her face, frowning as if wanting to assess any possible damage. "You're wearing contacts. I didn't take you for the type." He doesn't go out of his way to say that this is the first time he's noticed.

"Eileen, you've never been an entirely innocent woman, even though your physical form remains elusive to me. I need to know the details of this attack. I can't simply hand a man over to you without knowing the context of this fight." His hand moves to rest on the tub, near her thigh, because he knows his limitations with this woman, the potential position that he's in if he makes the wrong move. Eileen has never been a woman that you should make the wrong move with.

However, his words don't match the respectful movements of his hands. He stares at her thighs for a brief moment, then shifts his gaze back up to her eyes. "I've given you a lot while asking for relatively little in return. And yet, you've worn my altruism thin, taken advantage of my desire for you while not actually indulging that desire."

"You've come back from the dead, but so have I." He has another chocolate, because this is somewhat stressful. "As much as I'd love to demand the chance to destroy your tiny body in my bed, and work out all of the aggression that you've built up in me since your untimely demise, Etienne is worth slightly," he holds up his index finger and thumb, veeeery close together, to show just how slightly. "More than that. So I need you to give me a reason other than the possible thorough and private deconstruction of that pride that allowed you to take from me so easily."

When Alister touches Eileen’s face, an intense look of concentration crosses it. Her eyes grow bright and sharp, the muscles in her jaw and neck taut. If her attention had been divided between the man in the bathtub and the adjacent room, listening for another set of approaching footsteps or the distant snap and click of an opening door, it isn’t now; the Englishwoman’s focus rests entirely on him.

He thinks he remembers something about her shying away from physical contact unless she was the one boldly initiating it.

“You know,” she says after his hand has fallen away, “I have a deep respect for Ray. He’s a man who’s built himself back up from nothing, and established the foundations of a strong, reputable company with a mission that serves more people than just his Board of Directors. That takes intelligence, cunning, ambition.”

This is the part where she should draw back and recreate physical distance between them, politely excusing herself from the room. It’s what she would have done but, not, however, what she does now.

“It’s this last thing that worries me, Leonardo,” she confesses, “because ambitious men are often arrogant, and arrogant men don’t care who they hurt, don’t care whose lives are ruined in their endless quest to make theirs better.”

She is talking about Richard. Or Leonardo. Or maybe someone else entirely.

Her hand that had been teasing the water splays across Alister’s chest and glides along his sternum, all the way up to his throat. Fingers tighten high, thumb hooked to angle his chin toward her face. “You misunderstand me,” she purrs, mouth brushing against Alister’s. “I’m not asking you for anything, but I’ll give you what it is you want. This once.”

Alister's hand rises to Eileen's cheek again, staring at her with a sense of longing. "You're not the Eileen I knew. You've changed so much, and yet…" His lips draw closer, breath harder, pulling back only slightly. "My grief drives me to consume."

His hand slides behind her neck, and he takes a moment to bask in this close proximity, something that only moments ago felt like a relative impossibility. "My ambitions begin and end with this island, because I've grown weary of my endless pursuit of wealth. I was taught that by someone recently, by my near death experience as well. I want to turn Staten Island into a paradise, a safe haven for those who want to escape."

His lips can't help but brush against her's again as he speaks. "I want a family, I want my name back, I want you to return to me, regardless of how unhealthy that may be. But…" His tone is finally sincere, his mask melted away, gazing into her eyes. "I believe you when you tell me that it's just this once, that I can never truly have you…"

My grief drives me to consume.

Eileen stopped paying attention to what Alister was saying at some point, although he can still feel her own breath quickening and pressure of her grip as it continues to constrict around his throat. There is fury in the knit of her fingers, and in the hoarse, breathy laugh she barks out before what would be the start of a kiss, except—

Knock knock knock!

“Mister Black? I’m really sorry to bug you…” Behind the door, Desdemona Desjardins’ voice is muffled, but unmistakable. “I’m worried about Margaux!” At least that seems a good enough reason to interrupt a man in his bath.

The sound of Des’ voice has Eileen recoiling as if struck. She snaps away from Alister, showing him her back as she rises from the tub’s rim and reaches up to snatch at a bath towel spun from Egyptian cotton, which she tosses in his general direction.

“You’ll prune,” she warns him.

Strides much more languid than the jerkier motions that preceded them carry her across the bathroom, toward the door. Her hand, still wet, finds the handle and turns it.

Alister catches the towel, stands, and quickly dries before wrapping it around himself. He uses the wall for some support, as he intends to make his way back to his wheelchair once they're out of the bathroom. "Des, is my sister literally dying?" he asks, because he doesn't sound particularly happy with being interrupted.

It is not every day that one gains and misses the opportunity to engage in ridiculously entitled intercourse with their zombie ex.

The face Des sees on the other side of the door is not the one she expected. She looks appropriately stunned, gaping a little fish-like. She recovers - slightly - and catches sight of Alister. “I’m so sorry. I just— We were supposed to— She wasn’t responding to my knocking…”

Incredulity has her turning back. “Eileen? What the heck are you doing here?” There’s dread that’s coiled up tight in her stomach. She knows what Etienne has told her, and whether or not she wants to believe that Eileen is part of the force that wants her friends dead, she has to take it seriously. Des backs up a step and shakes her head. “Maybe I’m better off not knowing.” This is more about her boss than she possibly wants to know.

“Business meeting,” is Eileen’s succinct explanation as she wipes off her hand on the thigh of her jeans. She looks past Des, to where Margaux’s prone figure is sprawled out on Alister’s bed, one arm wedged under her jaw and bare feet dangling off the side of the mattress.

Maybe she would be concerned for the other woman’s well-being, too, if she knew her.

Something else in the room catches her attention, and she moves beyond Des, but not before giving her a firm, reassuring squeeze on the shoulder. “I wanted to make Mr. Maxwell,” not Mr. Black, “aware of a rogue element within his organization.”

The touch she’d given Des is probably a clear indication that she isn’t the rogue element to which she refers. “If I see Saint James again,” she says, tipping a look back at Alister’s towel-encompassed shape, “I’ll kill him. I don’t care that he thinks he’s looking out for you. You’re a grown man and you can make your own decisions about who you fraternize with.”

"You sound very possessive for a woman who stole all of my money." Alister is quick to point out, staring at Des for a long moment, then Margaux. "Since you made your way in, I assume you can see yourself out." His attitude towards Eileen seems hot and cold, just as confused as his feelings for her. He can't seem to ever decide if he's bitter and angry or burning with desire for the woman.

"Etienne will kill you, Eileen. I don't suggest you push him. He's my head of security for a reason." He doesn't seem worried about Etienne, but there is just a hint of concern for Eileen, despite sounding horribly bitter just a moment ago. "Why can't you just settle down and take a nap? Watching you plot and scheme is exhausting."

He’s not wrong, but that doesn’t mean Des is entirely sure what Alister is referring to. She only crept up on the tail end of the conversation and has only some small notion of what she’s averted by knocking on the door out of concern for her friend.

Eileen’s hand on her shoulder is a surprise, but not one she shrugs away. “That’s unfortunate,” Des says of this rogue element. She follows after the other woman, confused. She’s not certain anyone can best Eileen right now. She was formidable before her demise. Resurrection seems to suit her well.

Although she’s coming up alongside a bed, it’s unlikely be the one Eileen crawls into at the end of the night.

Margaux's drooling onto the silk sheets has nothing to do with it.

The tips of her fingers skim the comforter inches from Alister's sister’s tousled blonde head. It's a casual gesture, one designed to disguise her interest in something else. Des knows only because this is a trick she’s employed on occasion herself.

Eileen turns, head at an inquisitive tilt, and tracks her attention from the bed to Alister's free standing wardrobe on the other side of the room. The slight, almost imperceptible hooding of her pale blue eyes is noticeable only to those who are looking for it.

She seems to be in the middle of a decision.

“Yes,” she agrees with Des, “very.”

"Is something on your mind?" Alister asks, at the very least noticing the way that Eileen lingers. And then he grabs a t-shirt, something a little different from what one normally sees him in, though leaves the towel covering the lower half of his body.

He walks over, something unsettling his nerves a bit, though he isn't quite sure what exactly about this situation it is that's making him feel that way.

Moving to the bed, he tries to shift Eileen to the side a bit, taking a seat so that he doesn't have to stand that long. But his seat is in between her and his sleeping sister. "I apologize, I just don't particularly like too many people to be close to my sister when she's vulnerable."

Des smirks briefly. She and Alister have something in common after all. Eileen is searching for something, and she isn’t sure what it is yet that’s caught her eye. “Why don’t we catch up?” she asks from a place behind her employer, glancing at his back for Eileen’s benefit, as if to say it’s not like he’s going to leave.

Her smile is a bit broader, almost genuine. “I’m sure Mister Black is worn out. Not the best time to talk business with him. Best to catch him when he’s fresh.” Des lifts her brows in question. “I can walk you wherever you need to go.”

Eileen grudgingly tears her attention away from wardrobe. “He’s always fresh,” she tells Des, and in the next instant makes her decision.

It’s time to leave, albeit empty-handed.

No Etienne Saint James. No whatever is on the other side of that wardrobe door.

“Another time,” is offered to Des as she adjusts the collar of her jacket, smoothing the material between the pinched fingers. “Good night, Price.”

She exits in a relaxed sweep of dark hair and soft leather. Her retreating footsteps fall short of the elevator that would take her downstairs, but at least to Des that’s no surprise; the former Vanguard operative probably has her own ways in and out of the building that don’t involve old, shoddy mechanics.

Only when she’s gone, really gone, does the wardrobe’s door creak open, allowing a shaky Sibyl Black to emerge.

Alister stands, though he holds his stomach, wincing. But he powers through it enough to get to the wardrobe, leaning his weight against it and offering a hand down to Sibyl. "What are you doing in there?" he asks, looking completely and utterly perplexed. "I know that you're an awkward teenager, but this is beyond abnormal."

He looks back to Des, motioning his free hand for her to come over. "Talk to this girl."

Eileen is left to her devices, something seems to have switched his brain off of Eileen mode, looking back at his sister now.

Perhaps convinced that his sister was threatened, which does not sit well with him…

“Of course, sir.” Des holds a hand out to Sibyl when Alister dismisses her to her care. Eileen’s departure doesn’t entirely put her at ease - especially with the use of her real surname - but it’s a good start. “Come here,” she coaxes softly, without seeming to treat her like a child. “She’s gone now.”

The answer to what were you doing in there seems obvious to Des. “Come with me, and we can discuss this.” A glance over to Margaux’s prone form has her heaving a soft sigh. Poor thing’s going to feel that in the morning. She’ll check on her then. She expects Alister isn’t going to let anything happen to her, and he might be extra vigilant after the evening’s events.

As Des leads Sibyl out of the penthouse bedroom and down the long hall to the rickety elevator their guest somehow circumvented, Margaux’s eyes lid open enough for her to make out Alister’s shape looming over her. Her mouth curves into a lazy, self-indulgent smile.

“‘Night, Leo,” she announces in a low, thick murmur, and turns her face into the nearest pillow.

She has no idea how close they came to having their night ended in a very different fashion.

But neither does the protective shadow of her brother.

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