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.

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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.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Robert: Manipul8!!!!!!!!

"I'm a fool. A complete and utter imbecile. Now it's all gone to shit and I should probably just go lie down and die in my grave. The one I dug for myself. Bleeding fool."

Rachel O'Reilly, the chambermaid, leaned forward and silently poured Dr. Jekyll another glass of wine, which he finished between outpourings of self-loathing. They had been sitting there, holed up in the doctor's study for about an hour now, and at the rate he was going, they wouldn't be there for much longer.

"There you go, sir," cooed Rachel, "just get it all out and you'll feel much better in the morning." Generally, he did. She had presided over more than a couple such pity parties in her years serving Dr. Jekyll, and she understood their pattern. Not that Jekyll would ever ask for one of his household staff to bear witness to his more intoxicated states, of course. Rachel simply volunteered. He was rarely in a state to question why the young maid wanted to stay up until four in the morning listening to his ramblings, and he would have no way of knowing just how much of those ramblings crystallized into carefully documented gossip (and the occasional erotic vignette) in her very secret diary.

"It just goes to show you," hiccuped Jekyll. "The one time you let your guard down--the one time! The bastard you piss off ends up being the sole heir to- to all the things! All the things I need. And of course he's already got complete say in who the family'll rent that bloody building out to." He turned his bleary gaze to Rachel's general direction. "Oh God. I'm boring you. This is so dull. I need to stop talking. Please make me stop talking."

Rachel smiled blankly. "You're not boring me at all, sir. Please, continue." And she poured him another glass.

Jekyll shook his head, taking an extra moment to remember how to stop once he had started. He held his head in his hands. "Enough of this. I'll fix all of it. Tomorrow. I'll go and call on this Robert Lan.... Lanyon and apologize plain and simple. Grovel if I need to. I am at his mercy entirely. I cannot afford... afford to be proud."

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But Jekyll would need to lose more than his pride in order to make up for his mistake. As his poor luck would have it, Dr. Robert Lanyon was not the forgiving type: across town, under Lanyon's own direction, the first meeting of the Anti-Jekyll Association was coming to order.

In the broad scope of things, there were not many people who could say that they were not fond of Dr. Jekyll--to be liked was, in fact, the primary goal of his entire social career. He had gone far out of his way to avoid any opinion too controversial, any act that might prove offensive to even the most sensitive socialite. He followed the unspoken rules of morality most strictly without giving the impression of looking down at those who did not--in public, at least. Hence the secret drinking parties.

But even he knew that it was impossible to please everyone. There were some people who found the very absence of offensive behavior something to take offense with. It was surely cause for suspicion suspicious (and manipulating). These were the sorts of people who had presently flocked to the residence of Dr. Robert Lanyon, eager to conspire amongst themselves.

"From what I observed, it seems as though our Jekyll has charmed his way into the hearts of London's elite." A sneering grin played on Robert's lips. "Lord knows why they fancy him so--I could smell falseness in him the moment I met him. Although I do suppose that could have been the sherry."

One of his companions eagerly offered his professional opinion: "Naturally he lies. His whole being is a lie, I would be willing to wager. He's too perfect, like everything's deliberate. Always throwing those perfect little dinner parties of his, always doting on people, always carrying around his little prayer book..."

"Oh, yes!" someone else piped in. "He's never missed a day of church, I'm sure of it."

"And when he's not there, he's at that wretched clinic of his, helping the poor! Imagine what the filth of this city would ever do without the charity of our saintly Dr. Jekyll!"

"And yet he is a secret drinker," interjected Robert, steering the conversation back to his own encounter with the man. "What do you make of that? What do you suppose he's hiding that troubles him so that he needs to drink it away?"

On this matter his friends were more divided. Even among these skeptics, it was clear that Jekyll's facade was so foolproof that they could only guess at what lay beneath the surface. This in itself proved frustrating to the assembly, but they didn't allow their ignorance to put a stopper to their enthusiasm.

"You will expose him, won't you, Lanyon?" said the first speaker. "I bet you could better than any of us--you could rip him right to shreds if you only so desired." And, said the very clear implication, that was exactly what they wanted him to do.

"And I do desire it," Robert assured him. "I intend to make a game of this Dr. Jekyll. He thinks he has every soul in this city fooled, but not me. He is everything I detest about this false, ridiculous city and I am dying to teach him a lesson he'll never forget."

He took a pause for dramatic effect. Here, he knew, was the place where he could speak most freely of any room in the whole of Europe. He had a room full of eager listeners, and not a soul among them would dare expose him for a word he said, as Robert Lanyon had enough material to blackmail any of them out of house and home. Still, this particular plan that he had cooked up was an unusual one, even for him. Genius, he was certain, but unusual all the same, and he wanted to be sure that all his guests were sufficiently impressed by it.


"...And that," he concluded grandly, "is why I have decided to seduce him."

Silence fell upon the room. Robert did not allow this to affect him--after all, he had wanted to give them a good surprise, hadn't he? It was exactly what he had planned to happen. He smiled defiantly at them all.

Someone coughed. "What? I mean... why, exactly?"

"Because I want to teach him a lesson," he repeated. "I plan to break through that perfect facade he has concocted for himself, and how him beyond a shadow of a doubt what a complete sham of a human being he is."

"But why do you have to seduce him, exactly? Surely there are easier ways to expose the man?"

"But none more humiliating! Don't you see? The scene will be absolutely devastating. I'll slowly slither in past all his shields and barriers, make him trust me, have him reveal his darkest and deepest secrets to me, and there, in the bedroom, when he is at his most vulnerable.... J'accuse!"

He pointed dramatically at a patch of air that presumably stood in for a naked and completely devastated Dr. Jekyll. "And then I'll leave the room dramatically, leaving him cold and alone to contemplate his shallow existence. Hah hah." This was accompanied by a few uncomfortable laughs.

Robert huffed, a little exasperated. "And I suppose he isn't bad looking either," he added. "I wouldn't mind getting a shag from one such as him."

The reaction from the room was mixed, at best. It was true that Lanyon's personal life could lean towards the libertine--or, rather, it rarely leaned in any other fashion at all--but he had never been known to pursue anyone out of pure spite. This uncharacteristic behavior was clearly unsettling his friends, but Robert was not about to be deterred. So his grand scheme had proved to be even more shocking than he had hoped for--that was a good thing, wasn't it? And it was accomplishing exactly what they all wanted, wasn't it?

Of course it was. They would all see sense, in the end. But Robert did not particularly feel like waiting around for all of them to see the obvious logic in his plan--and thus, the first and final Anti-Jekyll Association meeting was brought to an abrupt close.