Friday, December 23, 2011

Jekyll: Wwary Avvoidance!!

(Omg why are these things getting longer 8\ )

Dr. Jekyll was familiar with the etiquette for a good apology: Be simple and direct, clear but not too specific (which might kindle up unpleasant memories), attempting neither to push the blame away from oneself nor making unsightly displays of self deprecation. All the while, maintain eye contact and good posture, as a show of respect.

Most of the time, this was advice he had given to others, or else had followed while apologizing on someone else's behalf. It was not often that he made enemies himself. But, he thought, there was no reason why the good, solid rules of apology would not serve him well now as they ever had.

"I will gladly accept full responsibility for any misunderstanding that may have occurred," he was saying. "I was at fault for not realizing who you were--although, naturally, I ordinarily strive to show the utmost courtesy to everyone I meet, regardless of name or status. And I hope that you will have the charity to..."

But the longer that he talked, the more he sensed that things were not going well.

He had called upon Robert Lanyon that morning with the full awareness that he would be utterly at the man's mercy. In Lanyon's own home, in an area of the city that Jekyll was not very familiar with, he was particularly vulnerable--but he would have been so anyway, since the only thing that really mattered in this situation was Lanyon himself: was he the sort of man to bear a grudge?

In his first encounter with Dr. Lanyon, he had been too dismissive of the man to consider him seriously--in the second, he had been too mortified to take in much of anything. But now he took the time to consider him carefully, reading him for clues that might win his favor.

His walk had a kind of swagger in it; he was well aware that he was the one in the position of power. It was a position he was used to. He had a thin face and seemed to be fairly young, perhaps about Jekyll's age--although there were two noticeable lines that formed parentheses around his mouth, making him look a bit older than he probably was. Perhaps they had become fixed there on account of the perennial smirk that he wore, the one he was wearing at that very moment. He seemed interested in what Jekyll was saying, but only so far that he might find a way to turn it all around in his favor.

And in that respect, he didn't waste time. "That's all very well and good, Doctor. But enough of this idle prattle. I think we both know why you're really here, don't you?"

Jekyll returned one of his blanker smiles. "I'm afraid I don't understand." He wasn't going to let Robert get under his skin that quickly, thank you.

"Oh, but I think you do," Robert insisted, speaking slowly, as if to a child. "The simple matter is that I have something you want, and I have no reason to give it to you. I am afraid your rehearsed grovelings won't win me over so easily, but that doesn't mean that my good favor is lost forever. Now, this all depends on one question: What can you offer me in return?"

"What can I offer you?" His look of polite surprise was not entirely fabricated--he had not expected quite this amount of bluntness. "Well, anything you like, so long as it is within my power." He kept his tone as innocent as he could manage.

"Really? In that case...." Robert took another one of his trademark dramatic pauses. "...the first thing I want is for you to drop that politeness act of yours."

"I beg your pardon?"

"It's simple. This facade of yours bores me to tears. I want to see the real you. I believe I caught a glimpse of him on our first meeting, but I haven't seen him since. Instead I see...." He waved his hand to summarize Jekyll as a whole.

This was not really the first time Jekyll had heard something like this. Every once in a while he encountered a man who claimed to have single-handedly penetrated his cold outer shell to reveal his soft, squirming inner self. They always thought themselves exceedingly clever. "I'm afraid what you probably saw was only passing moodiness," he replied, with a short laugh. "Surely you aren't asking me to be rude to you?"

"No, but if that is the best you have to offer, then I find you the dullest man in all of London. And I have no interest in doing business with a dullard."

Now this was a singular situation. Ordinarily, Jekyll would not allow himself to be provoked by this kind of thing. To behave badly in any social situation, for any reason at all, was against every instinct that he had built up for the last ten years. But Lanyon's meaning could not be more plain: play along, or you will never see that building's contract.

"You do me an injustice, sir!" he said, feigning an offended tone. "I must beg you not to be so quick to judge. Why, if you would only deign to examine my work and to see my collaborations with other experimental scientists, I believe you might change your mind. I invite you to visit my laboratory--at your leisure, that is. Then you may make your final assessment of my character."

As it turned out, Robert had not expected this. He was a little peeved that Jekyll had managed to turn the conversation away from himself and towards his little chemistry hobbies, but he had to admit that he was just a little interested. He had only vaguely been aware of Dr. Jekyll's scientific background--up until now, he had only heard of him in terms of his social ambitions. He vaguely recalled someone mentioning some charming little display Jekyll had put on, something involving vials and flames and fancy colors. He supposed it wouldn't be a complete waste of time to see it.

"I suppose I could work a visit into my schedule," he supposed. But don't you think for a second, he thought, that I'm letting you off easy. There would be plenty of time ensnare Dr. Jekyll in his dastardly plan--there was no need for him to rush.


Once he left Dr. Lanyon's residence, Jekyll finally felt he could breathe easily. Certainly there had been complications, but now that first terrible talk was over, and the rest of the day would be so much easier. His only appointment for the day was to see his friends, Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield, for a game of cards in the evening. Until then, he satisfied himself with a leisurely walk home in the brisk autumn breeze, happy to be alone with his thoughts.

By the time he arrived, the sun was just setting and he had finally shirked off the last of the tenseness of that morning's conversation. He was greeted by Rachel in the hall, who seemed to be jittery for some reason (but there was always some reason--she was generally a high-strung girl). She announced that some of the guests had arrived earlier than expected and were waiting for him inside. He imagined it was Utterson, who was nearly always too early to be polite, so he didn't dwell on the matter.

It wasn't until he arrived in the parlor room and saw who had arrived WITH Utterson that his good mood abandoned him.

"I thought I might take you up on that laboratory tour you offered," said Robert, who had seated himself around the card table as naturally as if he had sat there every Thursday for the last five years.

"You never told me you knew Dr. Lanyon!" spouted Utterson, and Jekyll did not need to inquire further to tell that he found Robert utterly delightful company. It seemed they had been chatting merrily for some time.

Lanyon's intent had been clear enough in their talk that morning, but now Jekyll began to comprehend the full scale to which he planned to carry out these intentions. If Jekyll would not offer his so-called "true self" up readily, Robert would wear him down until it seeped out of him. It was going to be one hell of a week.

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