1399/The Definition of Evil

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The Definition of Evil
Date of Scene: 26 April 2020
Location: VIP Lounge - Hellfire Club
Synopsis: Alexander and Alanna discuss family and morality.
Cast of Characters: Alexander Aaron, Alanna Lyons

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    During the day the Hellfire Club is not the swank happening place it often is during the night. It's still attended, there is still indulgence, there is still drinking and dining. But it's subdued. There is an element of the outer world that sneaks in, windows opened at strategic points allowing the overcast sky to shine through with a hint of ambient lightning.
    There aren't as many people in the VIP area either, though there is always staff on hand, ready to take drink orders and serve if needs be. Across the way there is a man who seems to be asleep face down in his booth, another has a pair of people speaking quietly and overlooking the balcony that looks down upon the club floor.
    But there is another there right now, likely avoiding his usual social circles, sticking to his own interests. And for now, that has the high school student... alone in a club famous for its exclusive clientele...
    Doing homework.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
The VIP room is certainly relaxed during the day, so it makes for a nice alternative to an office. Alanna's taken to occasionally popping in to do some paperwork, mostly all done from the convenience and comfort of her own phone. Today she slips in, intending to sit down and do that when she notices the presence of someone studious. It oddly reminds her of the places she used to do homework in. She meanders in his direction, stopping near his table.

"You manage to get much done in here? I find it's pretty decent if you can ignore the interior. Lots of people and things to get distracted by."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    At first he hadn't noticed her approach. Well perhaps he noticed, but more looked up, then looked back down. But when she drew closer and then raised her voice his eyes lifted to meet her own, gaze narrowing slightly as he affixes those curious hazel irises upon her.
    At first glance there's little to him that would stand out, jeans, t-shirt that is just a plain black, a backpack to the side as well as a jacket. He's handsome, probably be moreso when he gets older, but his overall look in this instant is staggeringly informal. Especially for a place called the Hellfire Club.
    But that curiousity in his eyes, the narrowing there, it's only existing for a moment before he straightens up a little, pencil lowering as he bites his lower lip and casts his attention back down upon the piece of paper before him.
    "Truthfully?" He says, a calm voice, easy-going. "I think I've read the same paragraph here three or four times in a row." His nose crinkles a little, likely annoyed with himself.
    But then he recalls where he is and he stands up, "Sorry, my name is Alexander." Having come to know that some people here prefer first names only. He gestures with a nod, "Would you care to join me, miss?"

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Alanna doesn't think twice about the question, sliding into a seat across from him. She settles, her phone still resting in her hand as she leans slightly on the table itself. "Alanna," she offers as her greeting and introduction. She hadn't intended to find company, but the diversion from work is appreciated.

"Having problems focusing because of your surroundings or because the world's tugging at your thoughts in other ways? Not always easy to leave the world behind when you've got things to do."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    Retaking his seat as she sits down opposite him he for a moment tries to turn his attention back to the opened text and the notebook that rests on the right page, his attention apparently having been on the left page for a time. History it looks like, and likely an essay of some sort being required. But he chews on his lower lip for a moment then looks back up at her.
    Then he sort of gains a conspiratorial look, his lip twisting up a little as he looks left and right, then meets her gaze. "Before I sorta would come here to do it, just sort of... out of spite. Right? Ooh edgy, go to the Hellfire Club, center for indulgence and vices. I'm gonna go there and... do /homework/ I'm so cool."
    He delivers those words with a hint of self-mockery to the tone, but smiles a little as he looks away. "But lately it has been a bit better. Lil difficult to be around school. Can't concentrate too easily here when I actually sorta should."
    Then he looks back, "Not that it's particularly distracting here. I mean," His lip twists a little and gestures to her, "Not in a bad way."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"I do like to think I'm the good kind of distraction," Alanna agrees as she looks back over at him, her attention on his textbook, studying it before returning to him. "School being rough?" She nods at him. "I've often found that when my mind's preoccupied with something it means I need to take care of whatever the issue is before I can really get down to doing something else. Sometimes it's not so easy, but just letting it stew isn't great."

She tilts her head to the side. "You wanna talk about it? I don't know you, so I've got no horse in the race. Nothing to lose if you spill your guts to a stranger in a very exclusive club." There's a wide smile, but it seems genuine.

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    A small snort comes from him as he finally decides to close that book over his notebook, setting them both aside on the bench-seat beside him. There's a slight rustling as he leeeeans over and puts those books away in his backpack, then straightens up and pulls his still sweating glass of ginger ale toward himself.
    "It's..." The youth then looks up at her and more directly, and she might well see how strange those eyes are. With his pupils dilated like so in the marginal darkness, the way his blond hair is pushed back from his brow, something curiously alien to him despite the wild normalcy of his manner.
    "A long story. With lots of moving parts. And it has left me with some questions. Puzzles. Which I'm working out, but you know how it is while you try to do other things, there's already a part of your mind that is constantly chewing it over?"
    The youth looks away, then adds with a murmur. "Sort of like that."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Alanna's gotten used to dealing with weird things and strange people. She takes in the unusual eyes with a moment of thought. "Yes, I've certainly been there before. Some things always mull things over even while you try to accomplish other things."

She gestures to where he'd put the book away. "Seems like your homework's going to get left behind in the whole process. Careful or you'll end up in trouble for that sort of thing."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    She'll likely see him worry at the inside of his cheek thoughtfully, "Probably. Maybe. Not really." He flows through the series of chances about the likelihood of trouble getting into. Nose crinkling slightly he looks back to her and replies, "Another long story, though sort of connected. Almost got expelled. But they're letting me stay until the semester is over, then it's off to college."
    There's some enthusiasm there, not a whole lot, but some.
    "Anyways," He taps a fingertip upon the surface of the table, leaning against it as he meets her gaze. She'll likely see him mentally dissecting her with his eyes, just that calm way he gauges someone, takes their measure, though the smile might make it not as entirely negative.
    Whatever he perceived he decides on telling her at least a little as he says, "So the whole thing. I have two uncles. They are having a feud, right?"

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"College is a good thing to look forward to," she says. "So you should enjoy that. Hopefully that can keep your mind off of whatever else you have going on." She seems content, relaxed, altogether unconcerned. When he mentions his family, though...

"Oof." Alanna sits up a bit straighter, looking at him. "You came to the right woman for /this/ particular conversation. Family drama is right up my alley." She offers forth a small nod. "Right, two uncles who are feuding. I'm following you so far."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    "We have this sort of... hierarchy in my family." Alexander leans forward now on the table, resting his elbows there and casually toying with the rim of his ginger ale. A fingertip runs along it before he fishes out an ice cube and pops it into his mouth to crunch it until it melts away.
    Then his eyes find hers again. "My grandfather set it as the head of the family. To help keep bad blood to a minimum since... my uncles and cousins are all horribly petty. And hey, to be fair, I don't think I'm petty. But does anyone really think they are? Probably not."
    He takes a breath before continuing, "But in any case, these two uncles have this thing going on. One, let's call him Don, has set up this... get together to sort of honor his brother, whom we'll call Hal. But Hal hates the whole idea of the thing, hates everything about it. Does not want it to happen."
    The young Olympian uncurls a hand, "But since it's supposedly being done as like an homage and a nice gesture, my gramps is fine with it and tells Hal to just suck it up. So Hal comes to me to look at it, and go to it. Hal wants me to say it's a shitty thing and it's a bad prank. Don wants me to say it's not a big deal and Hal should just deal with it."
    A hand opens, "So I'm in the middle."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Sounds kind of like my family, to be honest. You're hitting the nail on the head." Alanna leans back in her chair, her eyes taking him and the situation in. "You're caught in the middle of family politics, which is always difficult. In my family, the most important thing is what my grandpa thinks. So I tend to go with his wishes more than anything and beyond that, I try to balance from there."

She leans in a bit. "So it sounds like Hal's being a bad sport. Is there any reason you should listen to him? Is there anything dangerous that might come of that?"

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    She can watch him as he gets lost in thought, just watch as those devil's own eyes fade off into the distance as he lets his mind wander with the details of what's passed. His head tilts to the side as he looks to her and murmurs, "My grandfather's wishes is mainly to be left alone, and not deal with any of the craziness. Because if he has to deal with it, then he'll likely lose his temper."
    Which is another parameter to consider. He takes another breath then nibbles at his lower lip. "In any case," He looks back then to her again and murmurs, "Hal might be being a bad sport, but Don is... an asshole. He's got this party set up that is with... the worst people. Doing horrible things." Then, for an instant, he looks around the place before looking back to her.
    "Like, imagine the worst stories of parties you've heard about things thrown here in the Hellfire Club? Worst most sordid horrible illegal things. And that's... equivalent probably to what Don is doing, all under Hal's name. Hal, naturally is pissed. And I see where he's coming from. But so I find against Don. Then I have to be the one responsible for breaking it all up. If I don't, gramps finds out and..."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"That also reminds me a bit of my grandpa," Alanna rolls her eyes. "Starting to wonder if we're secretly related." She does frown at his predicament. "Well, what's the loss to Hal if he just ignores the whole thing? Loss of face?" She taps her chin. "My thought is to try to trap Don into confessing that he's just doing this to make Hal look bad. Then you've got blackmail material and you can call the whole thing off."

There's a pause as she sits back. "Not that anyone should resort to blackmail, it's a terrible tactic." She grins, just slightly.

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    The tow-headed youth hrms slightly, just a little as he looks at his ginger ale, then leans forward and wraps his hand around the base of the drink again, taking a sip and pondering matters for the moment. But something else seems to catch his thoughts, to pull him away from his own issues.
    And that thing is curiousity.
    Inquisitive eyes meet hers as he looks at the woman before him anew, casually gauging her hands, her features, his eyes holding hers though at times shifting between her irises as if seeking what might be behind them.
    Lifting his chin he murmurs, "If this is presumptuous of me to say or ask, please forgive me. But I get the impression your family might be involved in matters that aren't entirely looked well upon in society."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Alanna laughs at the suggestion, shifting in her chair as she looks back over at him. "My family doesn't exactly have the most sterling of reputations, no. There are certainly people who are afraid of us, those who respect us, and those who are convinced we're all a hive of scum and villainy. To be honest, we're still a family at heart, there's just a lot of danger and politics all muddled up in that."

She nods at him. "So I'd say your assessment is fairly accurate. I've seen plenty of things people wouldn't enjoy having in their town."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    Again he watches her for a time with that way that might give one the impression that there is a dialogue here or thoughts shared in a discussion she's not entirely privy to, all taking place behind those weird irises with the gold in the very far depths.
    After a time he nods and murmurs, "So, here's the thing." He starts, hands still around the base of his ginger ale. "There is no judgment in these words, I'd like you to know that before I begin. I'm just looking for answers." That's never a good sign.
    Alexander then turns his head to the side as he watches her and murmurs, "How do you reconcile a sense of self with the deliberate decision to take actions that society would deem immoral?"

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Well, that's probably something I think about every day, if we're being quite honest. My family is not a bastion of morality and I don't try to convince anyone it is. I'm no saint either. But when it comes to immorality, I think it comes to a matter of figuring out what values you, well, value." Alanna rests her head on a hand, thinking for a moment.

"I suppose it's like this. Imagine you have a plot of land. Everyone who wants to buy your plot of land is someone society considers immoral. If you leave the plot alone, someone will just take it and it will probably be the worst of the lot. Wouldn't you want to sell it to someone who had the best morals or intentions in the middle of what society might frown upon? There's /always/ going to be immorality, but it's the lesser of the evils that's the important, and the intent behind a person. I never want anyone to be seriously harmed. There are lines people don't cross... and you have to figure out where those are."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    "So you compartmentalize, create delineation. Lines you won't cross, and that creates the..." Alexander watches her and continues to consider her with such an open regard as if he were about to devour her whole, such strange intensity in the youth. "The illusion of a new morality. Or a new persona that allows you to feel that what you are doing isn't wrong. Rationalizations and demarcations?"
    It might be hard to ignore the judgment in there, but perhaps it's more a desire to not couch terms or change them. "The benevolent dictator argument. That evil is going to happen, might as well be as gentle an evil as possible?"

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Alanna offers a small smile. "Not really assuming it's wrong, no. Delusions aren't the way to live. It's recognizing that if someone doesn't control the evil, evil will simply flourish. Crime will happen and you have to go in knowing that. It's a matter of having enough of an iron fist to make certain no one will do the crime that's truly hated."

She doesn't seem offended by any sense of judgment in there, instead seeming relaxed--this isn't the first time she's had this conversation, not by a long shot. "If you can accept that there are some crimes more evil than others, than you can understand that if you cannot get rid of all crime you should get rid of the worst of it. The lesser of the two evils. People are not pure and there will be the desire to do something not everyone agrees is right."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    "This is all abstract, however." Alexander says as those eyes hold hers, there's little hint of the youth there, no easy-going casual regard, no light-hearted banter. There is this intensity of expression that one might imagine would be seen on the features of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates if he had no patience for the recently deceased.
    "This is about considering evil or immoral acts at several levels removed, correct?" His chin lifts as he asks, "What of more direct acts?" He gestures with one hand, "Have you personally taken a life? Physically or even perhaps stolen money enough it would lead to peoples' deaths? Something different than the guilt people seem to feel when they back an agency or business that has done something questionable in the past."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"I've never /personally/ killed anyone. Have my actions indirectly caused someone's death even if my actions were altruistic? Certainly. I never do anything with the intent of harming anyone. I don't want to see anyone die or starve or suffer. That's why there's a line not to cross. Illegal, certainly, but evil... I will argue with you on that. It's all on how you're defining your morality."

Alanna still seems unphased. "I don't certainly try to directly harm anyone. That's the opposite of what I do, in fact. I try to steer my family away from 'easier' methods that are, in fact, more directly harmful for those between us and our goals."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    "Hmm," Alexander's initial reply is far from satisfying, but he nods along with what she says, accepting her words and turning his head to look away as he mulls over his own reflections. Fingertips lightly tap upon the tabletop in that short staccato contemplative rhythm but then he looks back to her.
    "I think I need to talk to other people too, to get a better understanding." But then he nods as he takes a deep breath. And as easy as that, as quick as that, whatever witness' stand she was placed upon... she's off of it now, and the situation resumes its old vibe as he murmurs to her with a small half-smile.
    "Sorry, just... trying to figure things out."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Alanna eases back in her chair again, her hands resting on the table's surface. "Sounds like you've got quite the struggle with morality going on." She offers him a smile. "Word of advice? Don't let anyone else tell you how to think or judge. Morality is something you feel deeply for yourself. You can look at society and agree 'yes, these things are good and these are evil', but when it comes down to it things are rarely as black and white as we picture them. There are always outliers and cases that don't fit. So don't let someone make that choice for you."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    There's a small exhalation of breath, a smile that flirts with the corner of his mouth as he tells her calmly, "No offense, Alanna. But that doesn't really help me much." Yet be that as it may, it leaves him with a slightly amused look to his features.
    Then he turns away to consider the room, the VIP chamber still curious in its quiet reserve, looking down upon the floor below, something almost sad about the place at a time like this. He takes a deep breath, holds it, then looks back.
    "Anything you want to ask me? Quid pro quo." After all, she was honest in her answers.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
That makes Alanna smile more. "Good. I didn't expect it to. Difficult things are difficult because they can't be solved with just a conversation or a drink or a good night's rest. If I made you think about things, though, that's worth it. More to consider gives you more opinions and thoughts to help form a reasonable judgment." She follows his gaze to the rest of the room before looking back.

"Not sure what I would ask. I suppose I could ask for your judgment on me, but I get enough of that every day."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    "Does my judgment of you matter?" He asks at first, and the words float there as if awaiting a response, and content for him to let that sit there in the quiet between them.
    But then his smile slips into being as he looks away and then starts to offer it to her, "Like many people, Alanna, you are likely someone who does what she can to continue from day to day. Perhaps your family is terrible in a sense, but you go on as you can to not betray those connections you value, nor to betray your own sense of self. Perhaps ultimately in the abstract you know what you do is not morally just. But then you've likely come to realize that the world is not a moral place and that structures of morality can seem somewhat relative."
    He leans to the side and for a time his eyes lower, narrowing a little as he adds. "Beyond that, you are an attractive older woman who keeps herself in shape... who knows how to fight." He cocks his head to the side, "And who if you haven't taken a life yet, you have let your thoughts travel down that path already, and perhaps already have made peace with your answer that you likely would. If it fit a criteria where you felt you had to. To protect if not yourself, but your family."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Given that I don't particularly know you, it doesn't /matter/, but it's rare to get the opportunity to see what things look like from the outside in a fairly unbiased manner. It's always interesting to see what people see." Alanna sits comfortably, drinking in the words of assessment, her expression just as comfortable as her position. "I'd say that seems to be a good judgment from what you've seen so far. You've got some good instincts."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    "Yeah," Alexander says as he slurps down the last of is ginger ale, smiling a little as he takes a drink and then looks back up at her, "I am pretty great." He crinkles his nose a little as if not /entirely/ believing that, but decently so.
    "But if you wish for me to go on at length about any particular sub topic, do please ask. I appreciated your candor and can return it in kind." With that having been said he takes the straw out of his glass and neatly sets it aside, then proceeds to tilt it back to fish an ice cube out with his tongue and crunch it between molars.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Great and /so/ modest," Alanna jokes, folding her arms across her chest, smile on her lips. "I am curious what you are considering doing in that situation with your uncles... if you don't mind me prying. That's not an easy situation to deal with and I'd like to know what someone other than me thinks."

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    That puts his mind back on matters, shifts it away from the casual joy of examining her and lightly flirting. It instead returns and drives his thoughts to himself once again, which... to be fair, is a short trip for Alexander. He takes a deep breath and then exhales slooowly, shaking his head a little.
    "I owe no sense of loyalty to my uncles. I really only care what my father thinks. But he cares in some ways for my grandfather. But I intend to view it through that lens. What would my father do or want done? Then in turn what would my grandfather want done?"
    A hand lifts to uncurl toward her as he explains. "If I find it a horrible thing, I'll probably stop it. Which might be why my uncle Don is probably not wanting me to go."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"That sounds to be a wise course of action, I'd say. I hope that goes well, honestly. Your family sounds like it's a real piece of work. Takes one to know one, right?" Alanna grins. "But I'm sure you'll figure it all out. Hopefully in a way that's not particularly dangerous to anyone." She takes a moment to check her phone, but it's set down shortly after.

Alexander Aaron has posed:
    "Remind me to tell you how it falls out," Alexander offers that in response as an answer, and who knows? Perhaps he actually will let her know. But for now he scoops up his backpack and slings it over one shoulder, pushing himself to his feet and stepping out of the booth area with a smooth flow of movement. He stands there by the seat and smiles to her.
    "We'll catch up some other time when I do something pointlessly subversive here in the Hellfire Club." Like doing his homework. So edgy.
    That said he gives a nod, "Take care of yourself, Alanna. Appreciate you taking the time." He heads toward the elevator.