Rafferty - Edge of Seventeen

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Description: It's the eve of Rafferty's seventeenth birthday and he's feeling reflective.

*****FEBRUARY 13TH 2023*****

He's been back about an hour. Just enough time to take a shower, apply his various expensive moisturisers and slip into a pair of silk pyjamas. Collapsing on the bed of the room he shares with a British boy named Ryan, Rafferty is grateful that the Londoner is staying in a hotel overnight. His crime boss father is currently in Southtown and has summoned his long suffering son to spend the evening with him.

Closing his beautiful blue eyes, the male model muses over the events he's just experienced. Not only did he engage in battle with a rampaging robot rex, he fears he's lost his beloved Nena. Crushed, destroyed, dismantled by the dinosaur, he doubts that even Simon can save her this time.

Does this mean he's single? It's been almost a year since he first started dating Nena. It would have been their anniversary tomorrow. It's also his seventeenth birthday. It doesn't feel like a whole year since he turned sixteen, but then things have been pretty eventful...

It all started one night, when he returned to the Pacific High dorm room, after finishing a photo shoot. Expecting to see the familiar form of Ryan his roommate, he is instead greeted by a middle aged man wearing glasses and an expensive looking suit. He reminds Rafferty of someone. He stares at the man for a few seconds, before it finally comes to him, it's that one guy who played the bad guy in all those movies. He was in Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, Wall Street and Wolf to name but a few and he always played a total sleaze. "You're James Spader" he gasps, the name coming to him at the perfect time.

"Did you come here to see if I'd be in a movie with you?"

"You know, I do get that on occasion. I suppose I can see why, but, no."

The man's accent is a high-class London affair; the type that suggests an Eton education. He offers a half-smile.

"Adolphus Pytho. I'm a barrister. Or a lawyer, I suppose you'll prefer."

He reaches into the breast pocket of his suit jacket and produces a business card, offering it to Rafferty.

"I work primarily in estate and contractual law. Currently, I represent Miss Elisabeth Jones. Or, as you may better know her, one 'Lyraelle Darkheart.'"

The man's smile is humourless as he keeps the card held out.

"I understand that you've an interest in working in the entertainment industry."

Rafferty accepts the card, failing to mask his dissappointment that the man standing in his dorm room isn't a famous Hollywood actor.

"Oh right, yes I know Lyraelle."

There's the merest hint of bitterness as he says the demon queen's chosen name.

"I model clothes for her brand and post about it on my socials and such. She pays pretty well, but you'd know that if you're her lawyer."

He sits down on his bed, still dressed in the Adidas tracksuit he'd chosen for the occasion of snooping in the school.

"Is she wanting to renegotiate my contract or something? If so, it better be for more money not less."

His long, elegant fingers brush against the high quality card. "If you mean I'd like to be an actor, then yes. It's my ultimate goal, my true passion in life. I don't just mean pretty boy parts either. I intend to win Oscars."

He looks rather pleased with himself at this proclamation, following it with a dashingly dazzling white-teethed smile.

"Quite the ambitious young man, then," Adolphus says as he offers a reserved smile and nods. "That's good to know. Miss Jones was always quite the same. I daresay that's how she's made it to where she is now. With our assistance and representation, of course."

Adolphus's gaze becomes more shrewd as he considers Rafferty's face.

"How do you feel about Elisabeth? Or, Lyraelle, as it were? I understand there's been some friction recently."

"Oh yes, I'm full of ambition and I work hard too! Well, maybe not at school" Rafferty admits. "When I get paid though, for sure!"

He seems to consider Adolphus' question regarding Lyraelle. "Did she put you up to this? It sounds like she might be using you to try and get information from me."

Eventually, he reluctantly adds. "But yes, you could say there's been some friction. I'm not much of a fan of being anyone's minion. Have you seen that costume she got me to wear? She also gets soooo jealous. She practically freaked on me for saying my own girlfriend was pretty."

Adolphus gives a slight tip of his head in acknowledgement of Rafferty's commentary, continuing to consider the youth quietly as he speaks his mind.

"Ah, yes. She's quite aggressive with her branding, isn't she? That outfit that she had you wearing... Neo-League, wasn't it? Well, it shows your dedication to the cause. And she did go on to win, after all." Adolphus frowns, almost imperceptibly. "Jealousy, though - well, clearly the young lady has an ego. Superbia ante lapsum. I try to advise her to avoid such treatment of employees, but it seems that the speed of her ascent has gone rather vertiginously to her head. She doesn't seem to realise that her position could be a tenuous one - there is room in her contract for replacement if need be."

Adolphus smirks.

"Chief Executive Officer - that would be an interesting part to take on, wouldn't it? What would you say, think you've got a bit of Wall Street in you? Maybe you could have her wearing your face on her nightclothes."

"Oh I'd be wonderful in a remake of Wall Street" Rafferty enthuses. "Just think how incredible I'd look in the suits."

"I could play the Charlie Sheen part, Johnny Cage could be Gordon Gekko and you could be Roger Barnes, since you already look like him. Well, an older version at least."

A dreamy expression appears on the dreamboat's face as he contemplates this potential career.

"I'd also kinda love to see my face on Lyraelle's nightdress" he admits with a grin. "Don't tell her I said that though!"

"I suppose that I can see that. As I said, though, I'm no actor - not my particular ambition," Adolphus replies to Rafferty's verbalised vision, raising a cautioning hand with the beginnings of a grin.

"I'm sure she'd appreciate being told that you'd like to see her in her nightdress. On the other hand, you'd be unlikely to live it down. Now -"

Adolphus' face crinkles slightly as he extends a finger before gesturing around to the dorm room in general.

"Am I right in understanding that this is where Miss Jones came to visit you and offer a verbal contract for your employment?"

Nodding his platinum haired head, Rafferty explains further. "That's right. She came to see me here after I'd been researching darkstalkers. She showed up as the top search, so I checked her out further and recognised her as someone I had thought was a cosplayer. It seems she was the real deal though!"

He runs a hand through his locks, ruffling them artfully. "I wasn't expecting her to show up here after hours, but then I guess she doesn't keep a regular schedule. It was quite a memorable entrance she made."

His pale cheeks colour slightly at the memory.

"I told her all about my plans to be a superstar model, then a superstar actor and she seemed to approve of my ambition. It made sense for us to work together. The perfect partnership I think I called it."

"Ahh, yes. Though it doesn't seem that she treats you like a partner at all, anymore, does it? Seems that she prefers most of her partnerships to be vertical ones, with her on top."

Adolphus' lips twitch at the corner. Perhaps he knows more than he's letting on - or perhaps the comment is simply a coincidence.

"Anyway, do keep in touch - I just wanted to make sure you knew who to contact if you ever feel dissatisfied with your place under Miss Jones. Metaphorically speaking, of course."

He gives a nod at the business card and places a hand on Rafferty's shoulder before stepping past and out the door to the dorm room.

As the laywer is about to make his exit, an anguished cry will find his ears, followed by a dramatic gasp and a bringing of the blond's hands to his face.

"My mirror, my mirror! What's happened to my mirror? Was it like that when you got here? Wait till I see Ryan about this! I'll..."

His voice trails off, as he realises it's probably not wise to theaten the son of a connected criminal.

The fancy looking filigree frame is shaped like a heart and hangs above the boy's bed. The glass inside it now has an ugly looking crack down its centre, splitting Rafferty's reflection in two.

Pytho stops in the hall, turning back with an apologetic expression. "Ah, yes - sorry about that. I'll have a replacement sent. That's actually why I came here in the first place - business representing Miss Jones. I wanted to head off any entanglements over accidental damages. See you soon, young man."

The lawyer was as good as his word. The very next day a replacement mirror shows up, far fancier than the one Rafferty had previously owned. Lyraelle did him a favour breaking his old one, though it was really rude of her to come into his room uninvited!

He thinks of the smartly dressed man from time to time when he gazes into the glass and one day he decides to give him a call. The two arrange to meet in a ritzy restaurant with Adolphus footing the bill. Naturally Rafferty asks for champagne to accompany his meal.

"I'm sure you realise that the legal drinking age in Japan is twenty," Adolphus mentions to Rafferty as he tries to order champagne. He lifts his eyes up to the waiter and smiles. "But that does sound lovely. I'll have the Dom Perignon, if you please."

Turning back to Rafferty, Adolphus continues to smile politely. "So, how is that new mirror serving you, Mister Stewart? Have you found a suitable place for it?"

Pouting petulantly, Rafferty murmurs "I'll have a water then, I suppose" to the waiter, before turning to the lawyer with a sweet smile. "I do hope you enjoy your champagne."

He sits back in his comfortable chair and rests the tips of his fingers on the immaculate table cloth. "It's serving me very well. It shows my face, so that's always a bonus. I decided to put it in the same place as the other one, above my bed."

"Good. It should be in a place of honour. Or somewhere secure," Adolphus murmurs, sitting back in his chair. "Tell me, Rafferty - when you look in the mirror, do you imagine yourself any differently? Swollen with muscle? A higher status, perhaps?"

"Wow, is it worth a lot of money then?" Rafferty asks, leaning forwards.

"As for looking in the mirror, I'm very happy with what I see physically. I've got no complaints at all. There are other things I think of sometimes though" he admits.

"I'd kinda like to be stronger, to be able to hold my own in a fight. The thing is, my face is my fortune. I'm not blessed with brains or brawn, so I can't risk it by getting bruised or bloody. I'd also like to be an A-list star. I know some people recognise me and I've got a great following online, but I want more than that. I want everyone in the world to know my name. Or at least all those who have access to films. Money is always nice too. I'd like to be able to look after my family, as well as myself."

Adolphus leans back in his chair. By the time that Rafferty has finished off all of the things that he would like from life, the swift-acting staff have brought their drinks; a glass of champagne for the lawyer, and a refreshing glass of iced water for the youth.

"That's quite the list, Mister Stewart. It sounds as though you're not content to rest on your laurels."

Adolphus takes a sip of his champagne.

"What if I told you that all of that could be arranged? I mean, the power to take the rest of what you want for yourself?"

Sipping at his iced water, the schoolboy nods with enthusiasm. "I mean, I am content with my life. I have a really good life, but it's good to have goals. Don't you think? I mean you must have worked hard to get where you are in life. Suits like yours don't come cheap."

He adjusts the cuff of his own Tom Ford grey suit jacket. "If you told me it could all be arranged, I'd wonder what's in it for you. Because I figure you either think you can make money off me or you want a piece of my ass."

Adolphus' smile is thin as Rafferty comments on the price of his suit and the work that must have been involved in acquiring it. "It does take a certain savoir faire. I've worked quite hard at ensuring the security of others. My own wealth is only a thin slice of the cakes that I've had a hand in producing. It's my clients that are the true beneficiaries. It's because I, myself, am not particularly remarkable. My talents lie in supporting those who are."

He rests his elbow on the table, perching his champagne flute between his fingers.

"When I found Miss Jones, there was hardly much to her - on the surface. There was potential there, though. That's what she saw when she looked in the mirror - she imagined herself as a Queen of the night, heiress of a great royal lineage. She struck the bargain, and that's what she became."

Adolphus locks his eyes with Rafferty's.

"I have no need for more wealth, and certainly none for carnal pursuits. I just want you to imagine - if unremarkable Elisabeth Jones could take my offer and make herself into Lyraelle Darkheart, Mistress of Midnight, what do you think the same opportunity could mean for you?"

Adolphus turns his eyes to the first course menu as it's placed in front of him. "Ahh. I think I'll have the poached lobster tail. What's your choice, Mister Stewart?"

"I'll have the same" Rafferty responds distractedly, his mind on much more important matters than the food.

He's keeping his intense blue gaze on Adolphus, trying to size him up. "So Lyraelle, or perhaps I should say Liz, was just some ordinary girl? Obviously this is incredibly interesting information, but what kind of bargain are we talking here? Do you want me to sell my soul? Remember I work in the fashion industry so I kinda already did" he jokes, though his expression remains serious.

"I believe you're basically telling me I could be the full package? Get me some brains and brawn to go along with my breathtaking beauty? Obviously that sounds appealing, but I'd want the fame and fortune too. Not that I don't believe I have the looks and talent to get where I want to go myself, but I'm not naive enough to think there isn't a lot of luck involved in it too.

He takes another sip of iced water. "Yes, the real question is what would I have to do in return. What did the demon queen sacrifice to get the crown she craved?"

"I can see you're a shrewd one. Elisabeth wasn't even particularly interested in the fine print," Adolphus says as he takes another sip of champagne. "Then again, you work on contract all the time. She mostly had experience emptying waste bins and cleaning toilets."

The elder suited figure considers silently for a moment before giving his reply.

"The demon queen sacrificed very little, truth be told, but our patron does require some agency in return for his endowment. Power can't be produced from nothing. All that his chosen must do is provide fuel - the same fuel that imbues them with his blessing. It's a very synergistic arrangement, but not for the faint of heart, or the weak of mind."

Adolphus pauses, then adds, "And there is one more thing - there can only be one chosen at any given time."

He turns his eyes directly to Rafferty's.

"Will you be ready and willing, if your opportunity comes?"

The Pacific High pupil preens at the praise given by his culinary companion, his expression as proud as a peacock. "Yes, I have to know my own worth" he agrees. "I am very good for people's brands, so they have to compensate me well for my time and energy."

"I can't imagine Lyraelle cleaning toilets. I'd pay for pictures of that." He allows himself a sly smile at the thought of her royal highness on her hands and knees scrubbing away.

"Both my heart and mind are strong" he boasts. "It sounds like something will be feeding off me though, which is kinda creepy.

He considers the lawyer's words carefully. "So this chosen one thing is like on Buffy The Vampire Slayer? You don't have to kill Lyraelle do you, if I say yes?"

"Not off of you. No more than you 'feed' off of your own mouth," Adolphus assures Rafferty as their platters are placed in front of them, and he sets about carefully working his lobster tail with the designated tools. "In fact, my understanding is that it's quite a pleasurable experience. More enjoyable than even this sort of meal, as difficult as that is to believes."

Taking the bite in and savouring it, the lawyer then shakes his head dismissively. "No. No one has to die. That's not really our patron's modus operandi. She would have to be stripped of her blessing, though, and it's not something that can normally be forced. Of course, I've heard there may be opportunities arising, so... what do you think? Should I call you, when the time is right?"

The model mirrors the other man's gestures, as he sets to work on his seafood. "It's good" he comments, between mouthfuls, dabbing the edge of his lips with a linen napkin.

"As for this potential deal, sure, why not? Give me a call if an opportunity comes up. I can still say no at that point I'm guessing? There's no harm in considering it, if that's the case."

"Oh, yes. Of course. You're only likely to get the one opportunity, though. It's quite an enviable proposition, wouldn't you say? Not one made lightly," Adolphus remarks as he continues patiently devouring his lobster. "So I do hope that you will give it adequate thought. Especially what you might have to gain."

The call had come a few hours before Rafferty was due to sneak into the school to investigate the disappearances of several students with his friend, Raiza. He'd listened to the words the lawyer said, though he admits he was somewhat distracted by what he was due to do later that night. He remembers agreeing to the previously discussed deal and the mention of the mirror he'd been gifted and how it was significant in some way. In the days following, in his time as a prisoner in the penthouse, he'd tried to recall more details, but they'd eluded him. He was sure he could call Adolphus back though once he was free, to check the finer points he'd forgotten.

As things turned out, the rescue of Rafferty was rather rapid and once back in the safety of his school, he'd only had time to grab the essentials, including the mirror, before making his way to the mall to get a new phone. From here it was on to the visitors centre and the violence that ensued, some of which was caused by him.

Because the powers he'd been promised had arrived and then some. His body had done things he had barely dreamed he was capable of. No longer a victim to be protected by the other Pacific High pupils, he'd fought fiercely alongside them, dazzled by his own display.

It all seems somewhat surreal now. He needs to speak to Adolphus again to figure out the way forward. For now though, he wants to rest. Perhaps in his slumber he will see Nena's face.

Log created on 16:11:54 03/22/2023 by Rafferty, and last modified on 07:32:16 03/24/2023.