Power vs. Celebrity


alister_icon.gif margaux_icon.gif sibyl4_icon.gif

Scene Title Power vs. Celebrity
Synopsis Alister and Margaux take Sibyl to the Safe Zone on a shopping excursion and hit upon an idea.
Date April 2, 2018

Bay Ridge

The Perfect Fit is Margaux Maxwell’s favourite boutique. It’s located at the end of a windy, ivy-drenched alley in Bay Ridge, wedged between a pastry shop that sells the best macaroons in the Safe Zone and a dimly-lit Italian restaurant favoured by the neighborhood’s wealthier residents. No hours are posted on the storefront’s ornate glass door — the owner takes visits by appointment only, and Margaux has had this one on the books for more than a week now.

“Black is timeless, honey,” she’s saying, “don’t get me wrong, but you’re too young to be going around like you’re in mourning.”

She crosses her legs from where she sits on a chaise lounge, and gestures to the girl standing at the center of the room, surrounded by mirrors that seem to make her shrink into herself. Sibyl hasn’t spent much time looking at herself lately; like most teenagers, she’s self-conscious about her body and makes an effort not to look at her reflection as the owner takes her measurements.

“What do you think, Leo?” Margaux asks her brother, because she refuses to call him Alister. “Maybe something in peach, or a blush. Florals? She’s your ward.”

"I'd like to maintain her personality." Alister somehow manages to compromise, between the two. Though he also looks incredibly uncomfortable, sitting in a chair off to the side. When Margaux is around, he seems rather incapable of wielding something like authority. "Perhaps color, but faded somewhat. Earth tones, things like that. Earth… peach? Dark florals?"

He doesn't sound sure, he also sounds somewhat like he's trying to get both of them to agree, given how he looks between the two as he speaks. His tone suggests that he believes there's a wrong answer.

With a nod, the owner dives into the racks of clothes that line the walls of the shop, picking through the hangers with her long fingers, which are tipped in waxy-looking acrylic nails.

“I like florals,” says Sibyl in a similarly guarded tone, scrutinizing the owner’s choices as she makes them. There are florals, but also: a casual summer dress in a deep, emerald green that she pairs with an alpaca’s wool cardigan and black flats, a flowy pink skirt, ballerina’s slippers, high-waisted jeans and an assortment of tops in moody colors and patterns that the teen may or may not appreciate. One of the t-shirts has an ocelot on it.

“We’ll get you some jewelry while we’re here,” Margaux decides. “Simple. Gold. Something nice for the gala this weekend.” She claps her hands together, as if the thought has only just occurred to her and wasn’t the impetus behind their trip to the Safe Zone. “I’m so fucking excited! It’s been forever since we got to have a little fun, it’ll be just like before the shit show, back when we still had the company.”

There’s an insult hidden there, a barb that only Alister will feel. She says back when we still had the company, but what she means is back before you fucked everything up for us.

“You need a date, Leo,” she adds, before he has the chance to argue. “Somebody with influence and poise and grace.”

Alister turns his nose up at Margaux, turning his head for a brief few moments. Then when he turns back to her, he nods. "I have someone in mind. I doubt she has influence, but she has poise and grace, very beautiful."

He seems to be trying to ignore the general topic of the company. "Well, we'll have more money and power again, I just need time. Why aren't you working on that yourself?" he asks, accusingly, trying to shoot a barb back at her. "No one interesting to marry?"

The owner shoos Sibyl into the fitting room with an armful of clothes to try on and shuts the door behind her so the girl has some privacy. As soon as she’s out of sight, Margaux gives her brother a Look.

“I already have a date,” she snips, “or else I’d ask Etienne.” She says the name with an elaborate flourish and accompanying gesture of her hand. In the process, she notices something amiss with her own nails, and shifts her focus off Alister to meticulously study her fingers. “You should invite Barbara Zimmerman. She used to be Ferry Council, you know. Might be a nice gesture, all things considered.”

Her lower lip juts out in a pout. “Goddammit, I just got these done yesterday. My beautician is such a cunt.”

"The Ferry are probably still being uptight about me beheading people, as if I wasn't doing them a favor." Alister rolls his eyes, and takes note of Margaux and her nails. But then he takes special note of what she just said. "Do not sleep with my employee. He's a bodyguard. Don't you think you can do better than getting railed by some street hoodlum?"

Though, once he says that, he immediately raises his hand. "Don't even think about bringing up Eileen."

“I wasn’t going to,” says Margaux. She blows out a sigh. “I still think you should petition the government or something. Get it written off as a charitable donation.”

That’s a joke. Sort of. She buffs her nails out on the sleeve of her leopard-print coat. “Anyway, you take who you want. I don’t care as long as you don’t do anything to embarrass us in front of everybody.”

Sibyl cracks open the door, hesitant, emerging back into view only when Margaux slaps her hand against the inside of her thigh, gesturing impatiently. The emerald dress fits the teen’s slim frame, but the cardigan swallows it. “Are you going to ask him about the water?” she wonders out loud.

“Oh,” answers Margaux. “Right. The water.” She draws a circle in the air and Sibyl turns in place like an obedient circus animal balancing a ball on the tip of her nose. “Leo, Sibyl and I were having a little chat over breakfast this morning, and she has an adorable idea she’s been wanting to share with you, but I think she’s a little intimidated by your business acumen.”

"I was taken by her… her… well, it doesn't matter." Alister sighs, sounding defeated. He manages a smile as Sibyl spins, well, turns, Sibyl doesn't spin. "I think it's a nice dress." he compliments, but looks to Margaux, as if expecting her to possibly disagree, getting ready to possibly shift his opinion. "And what exactly is your idea, Sibyl?"

Sibyl gives Alister a little curtsey, then promptly disappears behind the door again. Margaux glances down at her feet, visible beneath the gap, and watches the dress first drop to the floor, then shift aside as the girl moves it away with the tips of her toes. “Staten Island doesn’t have running water, only wells and some hand pumps,” she says from the other side of the door, “and I was thinking about how much better I feel after a hot bath. Other people might feel better, too, if the pipes were working again. They’d probably be very— grateful.”

"I could…" Alister starts to consider somethings, starts to consider his current funds, the investment, the things he could do. Then he just starts to smile, very, very wide, hunching over in deep thought. "I could take over the water plant, have men put there, get the pipes fixed, and provide free water to the poor, and charge people who can afford it. I could become a water baron of sorts."

He stands up, motioning dramatically at Sibyl. "THIS! This is why I have this girl! Genius! The amount of money we'd make from this investment… it might dwarf shipping, and we could even improve our shipping with the profits!"

“With the gala coming up this weekend,” Sibyl continues in a small voice, “maybe you could look for investors at the party. Yamagato or— somebody else. They give you the money for the project, and then you pay them back in profits. Or.”

She hesitates. Margaux is impatient. “Go on,” she urges. To Alister: “The second part is better.”

Or,” Sibyl continues, “instead of paying them back in profits, you offer the Trade Commission as a go-between with whatever clients or associates they don’t want the government knowing about. If— If they have any, I mean.”

She cracks the door open again, just so. “Their secrets would be your secrets, too.”

"THIS GIRL!!!" Alister shouts, immediately walking over to wrap his arms around Sibyl and lift her up. "I love this girl, she gets an entire half gallon of ice cream, whatever flavor she wants!"

Sitting her down, he starts to pace around, excited, thinking. "This girl is brains. She understands, she thinks in the way that our parents tried to teach us how to think, but with street savvy." He points at Sibyl. "You're going to be big, just watch!"

Sibyl’s back goes stiff when Alister hoists her up into the air, arms trapped at her sides, and she makes a muffled squeak at the back of her throat that’s entirely involuntary. As soon as her feet have found the floor again, she steps out after him and models her next outfit for Margeaux: pink slacks and a dark floral blouse covered in peony blossoms and tropical birds peeking out from behind them.

The older woman gestures for her to raise her arms, so she raises her arms. Meanwhile, the shop’s owner has narrowed down her jewelry selection to a simple but elegant necklace dripping with pieces of rose quartz, which she drapes around Sibyl’s neck and fastens at the nape. “I don’t want to be big,” she interjects, gently. “I don’t like attention, I—”

“You don’t even want to go to the gala. I know.” Margaux rises from her seat on the chaise at crosses to where Sibyl is still at the mercy of boutique’s owner as she adjusts the necklace. “But it’s good for Leo’s image, darling. What’s the word? Optics?” She glances at the owner, who shrugs.

“Optics,” Sibyl repeats. “Okay.”

"Sibyl, can you tell me who the most powerful people in the world are?" Alister asks, taking a seat again. "You can't, I barely can, why? Because the most powerful people are so completely beyond the scope of what normal human beings have to worry about. They could walk through the street and the average person would have no idea who they were, and yet they could buy and sell entire cities."

"That is power." he explains, his tone becoming very educational, as it does at times. "Power is more than mere celebrity. I'm fine with celebrity, to go along with my power, but you can have power without celebrity."

"And aren't you at the age where you want to find a nice boy, or girl, whatever you're into? Of course, I'll have to take a look, I can't have you consorting with bad influences." he insists.

Sibyl’s face soon matches the peonies on her blouse. She looks indecisive, like she’s not sure whether she likes girls or boys, or which part of Alister’s miniature lecture she’s best equipped to respond to. When she turns pleading eyes to Margaux for help, she’s met only with amused indifference and a shake of her head.

So she chooses the least awkward thing to latch onto. “Nobody with power seems to hold onto it for very long,” she says. “Nathan Petrelli. Andrew Mitchell. Sylar.” Her voice gains weight on the last name, growing heavy in a way that even Sibyl didn’t expect. It may be the first time she’s ever said it out loud. “The woman you named your cat after. She’s dead, too.”

"She is. She's also a woman who never held real power. Nathan Petrelli, he was a man who got drunk on power. Mitchell was a moron, he held office, but he seemed more interested in asserting his backward ideals than actually having power. Anyone with half a brain would have known what he tried to do wouldn't end well. I used to be that way." Alister smiles, looking to Margaux. "I had power, and I lost it too. I know better, I learned."

"Sylar… he had power in his own way, but not in the meaningful way, not in the way that matters. Do you know who you should look to?" he asks, though he doesn't give Sibyl a chance to actually answer. "Kimiko Nakamura. She has real power, that is the kind of power that you should admire, not all of these lunatics and megalomaniacs."

“You’ll have to introduce us.” The intricacies of her ability aside, Sibyl is unable to place a face to Kimiko Nakamura’s name. “At the gala. Which I am going to.” Whether she wants to or not, and the rumpled expression on her small, pale face suggests that she’s as uncomfortable with this idea as she is in the fancier clothes the boutique’s owner has selected for her.

“Look at that,” Margaux says, pinching the girl’s rosy cheek flushed with embarrassment. “Who knew you’d clean up so nicely? All we need now are a few other pieces of jewelry and a dress for Saturday night. I’m thinking— pink.”


“Pink.” Margaux twirls an ashy strand of Sibyl’s hair around her knuckle. “Leo, why don’t you have Etienne chauffeur you back to the island? I’m going to take Sibyl out to dinner so we can get to know each other better. Don’t worry, I promise to take only the best care of her for you.”

"Alright, but I don't want you being some kind of… well, just don't teach her about when you were her age." is all Alister warns, standing up and stretching. "Have fun. Please don't spend all of my money."

“Do you pinkie promise not to spend all of Leo’s money?” Margaux asks Sibyl. She hooks her littlest finger in the air directly in front of the girl’s face, and Sibyl stares at it for what feels like a very long time before her gaze meets Margaux’s own.

They shake on it.

Done,” Margaux announces. “Don’t wait up, sweetpea. We ladies are going to have a long night.”

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