John Smith is one of the most famous men in the world despite having one of the most common names in the world. When the words 'technology' and 'money' are paired with the name John Smith, it's safe to assume the conversation is about those Smiths: the Smiths who own a multi-billion dollar corporation; the Smiths who privatised space travel; the Smiths who pride money and power above all else.
Now this particular John Smith, is the youngest in a long line of John Smiths and has quite a different reputation to his predecessors.
From an onslaught of girls on his arm to the array of sports cars in his garage- the most prized being a navy blue Aston Martin- Mr Smith had developed a persona befitting his fortune. Scandal after scandal seemed to bounce across the headlines from a new fling on Friday to a first class holiday to ease the pain of the breakup by Tuesday.
Society had expectations. Education, then career, marry well and have children: in that specific order. His father had done it and his grandfather and his great-grandfather, they all fit perfectly and snugly into that specific box, the same box that John's gangly limbs seemed to burst out of every time he tried to follow the same path.
It wasn't like he set out to find trouble, it just found him even when he was actively avoiding it like he had some magnetising force attracting problems to himself.
However, when it came to the idea of settling down to grace the front page of a magazine and allow whichever weirdly obsessed 'journalist' to write a piece about his living room decor something within him was desperate to bolt and surely he couldn't be blamed for that?
Now don't let it be misunderstood, whilst he did tend to dabble in some questionable practises and would much rather spend his time doing exactly as he pleased, he was gifted with an incredible level of intelligence that led to his doctorate in astrophysics at Oxford. (wether he'd been good at this or not, his father had demanded he take the course.) When the time came to stop messing about with plans for the physical aspect of the company he would step up and go corporate as it was intended from the second he took his first breath-probably even before then. But right now there was no need and John's philosophy has always been later rather than sooner.
He liked to think he was more than a spoiled, rich boy as it was clear to everyone right from the very beginning that this Smith prioritised more than careers, status and money- no, you see John Smith is a traveller.
Whilst the tabloids might rant and rave for his love of the finer things in life and marvel at whatever sports car he chose to drive that day, they couldn't be further from the truth because, after all, they didn't know him.
At the drop of a hat John would abandon his research and fly, drive or hike to the furthest corners of the planet, purely for the thrill, a concept his father abhorred and his mother never fully understood. If he felt the need to see Thailand he'd be there for the sunrise and if he suddenly felt the urge to be in Cayo Coco he'd fly back around the world to see the matching sunset.
It wasn't something many understood; the exhilarating wave of freedom that poured over you when you could simply flee with no ties. John often thought humans gave themselves too many ties for fear of losing the most important ones. John would rather have no ties at all than any of significance and that is how he wished to stay.
At the age of seven he decided school was boring, a worthless hassle, and went on a great trek with his teddy (a 'metal' dog he nicknamed K-9) to the next town over to take in the sights. From this outing John Smith was nicknamed 'wanderer' by his mother- once she'd gotten over the ordeal- and he lived up to that name until her passing last year.
The glittering parties and revolving door of girlfriends who joined him on his journeys ceased to a halt. That was the last time he really allowed himself to have an important link to the world. His two best friends (his real family now) had each other and lived in New York. Despite this they were more than willing to come with him whenever it was needed so in a sense they didn't count as something to weigh him down.
The girlfriends were never really of importance anyway, not since Rose, but every single one of them seemed to wish they could be and John really didn't have the energy or the patience or the heart left in him to explain why he wasn't interested in being with them.
Since the loss of his mother John Smith poured what's left of his soul into his father's company from behind the scenes. His inventions and ideas further space travel for the masses and his father makes billions from it. One day he will too.
It's yet another expectation that he will inherit the company, a collar around his neck that drags him back every time he finds a place he'd like to escape to and a constant reminder that he's not the only one who will inherit. One day he's expected to pass it on to his own child and right now he couldn't imagine anything worse- raising a child in a loveless societal bred marriage.
Whilst attending university John did fall in love with a fellow socialite. It was believed to be almost Shakespearean in its origin and similarly it was just as tragic in its end. Rose Tyler, the beautiful, blonde heiress to the Vitex industry, was heavily regarded by their families, their friends, the papers and the public to be his one true love. It seemed everyone but them shared the same thought. Rose thought he was fun- she enjoyed the adventure but she didn't love him and no matter how much he tried he didn't love her. A small part of him wish they'd remained friends but he didn't want to ruin her new relationship with circulating rumour.
In the end he lost her due to the lives ahead of them. The lives preordained by the concept of 'blue blood'. The lives destroyed by lack of was ready to do her duty as it were and give up her freedom; John definitely wasn't.
Rose is married now, the perfect trophy wife for another man. She smiles for the cameras and plans the perfect parties. Most of all she fulfils the role her family intended.
John Smith smiles for no cameras that are thrust in his face, attends no glamorous parties like he used to and as far as he is concerned will never fully live up to his fathers expectations.
"I don't understand why I have to meet them, I have absolutely no interest!" John bellowed after his father.
"You are a member of this family, therefore you will have interest." His father snapped not even bothering to turn around as he stormed through the endless corridors causing a maid to leap away out of fright. These fights may be regular but the staff rarely have the ability to handle them.
"This 'family' consists of you and me, it's a pair at most!" He cried incredulously.
"Exactly." Smith Sr halted before turning to face John and jabbing his index finger into his chest.
"It's high time you got over this little attitude and got involved in the affairs of this family before you are the only one left, because Lord knows at this rate you will be." The older man glared at him not for the first time.
"Father she'll just be another empty-headed idiot who couldn't live without daddy's money funding her shopping trips- they're all the same!" John's eyes pleaded with his father more than his words. He really wasn't ready to dip his toes back into the cess pit that was society especially not for some ditz with a credit card.
This was the longest time he'd been at home since he was a child, a full year sat alone in his room or his office, drawing up plans for the spaceships and channeling his grief into something productive- at least that's how his father put it. John suspected as long as he wasn't embarrassing the family name as usual his father didn't care how he handled his grief it at all.
"Well you've certainly met enough of them to have a good idea," his father accused "I don't care if she's the biggest moron on the planet. I don't care if she's got two heads if I'm being frank. Her father has dealings with every major corporation across the globe except ours and thats going to bloody well change. You will sit through this dinner and you will be the face of charm itself or so help me, you'll be in for a rude awakening son." It was perfectly clear to John just how true that statement was. His father rarely cared about anything other than money.
The two men were inches apart at this point, eyes full of fury and fists balled.
"Have I made myself clear?" John managed to stand firm for a the briefest of moments before he admitted defeat and lost his fathers gaze, hanging his head. "I said, have I made myself clear?"
"Yes sir." John sighed, knowing when to back down. He did it plenty enough.
That's how he found himself here, in one of those private members only clubs that towered above the skyline of London away from the rest of the general population (which is probably why the frequent customers liked it). The kind of place with only glass windows for walls which somehow correlates to the price of the scotch and the size of the tiny portions in a way John could never comprehend.
His father had insisted on one of his tailor-made suits ("Everyone wears them at the The Maldovarium") but he'd drawn the line at the silk tie- bowties are cooler.
Now John Smith was finally dragged out of his dark room and seated at a table with a stunning view of the Thames but was instead focused on the view of the waitress with towering legs and a flirty smile.
"If you could refrain yourself for one outing that would be much appreciated." His father remarked, not lifting his eyes from the overpriced menu, which of course made no difference to their extensive funds.
"Sorry, haven't been on an 'outing' in a while," John smirked unapologetically, still staring at the waitress.
"By choice I might add." His father closed the menu, a face filled with disappointment.
Although that seemed to miraculously change into a wide, beaming smile, that if he was being honest John would say it terrified him: his father does not smile.
The reason for this drastic change in mood was another bland business man who, unlike his own father, still had a full head of hair; but exactly like his father had the latest suit without a crease. Since society's manners had been engrained into him from a young age, John stood and shook hands with the man; his own fake smile plastered on to his face. The picture of charisma and charm.
His brief stint of absence from the world hadn't made him forget common courtesy after all.
Whilst his father was eagerly conversing with the man and guiding him to his seat, John saw the girl. Brown doe eyes lit by the sun through the endless glass windows met his and she extended a perfectly manicured hand.
"Hello." She said stiffly with a nod of her head her chestnut brown curls bobbing. She was much smaller than him and it was quite…cute. He had to admit, there was worse company for dinner.
At his father's command John immediately fell into his perfected act of well-behaved gentleman shedding all his other personas: playboy, genius, grief-stricken, wanderer.
He pulled out her chair but only received a quick "Thanks". Usually they giggled or flipped their hair or did something…anything.
Not this one.
He was watching her quite intently without even meaning to. Any pause in the conversation felt like an excuse to look her way. To watch the curve of her lip as she smiled politely or the way her button nose wrinkled when she laughed. It wasn't that he liked her, no of course it wasn't that he just found her fascinating that's all. She was different in a strange way.
The conversation was delicately avoiding the topic of business, all of them knowing a game was being played by each member of the small party. A general rule of thumb was to leave those discussions to the end, for a variety of reasons all designed to help your cause.
Instead, in mild-mannered tones with most likely false laughs, they discussed polo, mildly humorous boarding school stories (not the ones that made the tabloids) and the Smith estate.
The house, or mansion to more accurately put it, was an endless, grey stone manor atop a hill imposing over the countryside landscape. There was one fairytale turret fashioned into the otherwise Tudor manor. The old panelling was mixed with years of add ons from different generations of Smiths who had left their mark, but as a child that stone turret with a staircase that wound its way to the top was forever John's favourite.
His other decidedly more modern favourite was a garage big enough for 12 cars which happened to constantly be full. Tacked on to the grounds was a stable however that was much less used by the family. It was almost paradise for all those who didn't live there but in John's opinion, the London penthouse was more of a dream. Usually his father wasn't there to hound him about marriage and there was no memory of his mother burning into him like the blinding light of the sun on his eyes.
However due to current circumstance (any way of not saying death) he was at the main house for a year, under the guise of helping his father cope with the guilt though in reality it was the only way to feel close to the only person he wanted to see but never would again.
At least it was big enough to avoid Smith Sr most days. Thats the real bonus of wealth, not the lap of luxury you live in, but the ability to evade the people who value wealth too much.
The girl- Clara, he soon learned- hadn't said much and had blatantly ignored him in what seemed like contempt, she laughed politely at jokes his father made, answered questions when they were put to her and seemed to know a great deal about the goings on in the business world.
However when John gave his signature lopsided smirk across the table ,as their fathers were immersed in a conversation about the stock market, she simply stared at him for a moment like she was reading his soul before returning to the dullest conversation in the world. Willingly!
He just couldn't understand this girl. She was different from the usual heiresses that accompany their fathers as a way of 'creating bonds for the future generations' or whatever nonsense his father spouted.
She seemed to have more than three brain cells in her pretty, little head and could actually keep up with what was going on around her other than the location of the nearest champagne bottle. Normally, these girls were more than happy to sit and flirt with John whilst the elders dealt with trade deals etc. He would say she was a refreshing change yet she held him at such an arms length away he felt an overwhelming urge to simply say 'sod this I've had enough and go home'.
John Smith prized himself on his ability to entertain but this girl wouldn't even give him the chance. She seemed to ooze disdain and he hadn't even give her a good enough reason yet. Usually he liked to wait before he disappointed someone and usually they weren't pretty girls who weren't begging for marriage.
Whilst he was contemplating this he managed to miss how the conversation ended up here.
"Excellent Miss Oswald can stay with us!" His father cried, the happiness seeming a tad over done John thought before realising, this girl who couldn't stand to be near him was going to be staying in his home for however long.
It was never home sweet home before but it seemed his father wasn't satisfied in his goal of making him miserable.
His heart felt like it was going to thump out of his chest and honestly, he has never come closer to murdering his father.
As he was preparing to object, hoping that for whatever reason she had it this girl could put aside her dislike and help him, he saw the brunette look to her father for approval and gave another small nod to agree. Just like that.
For whatever reason unbeknownst to him, she was willing to go along with this plan. Feeling utterly betrayed by his father and this random girl simultaneously, he resigned himself to silence, not wanting to be the one to object because John knows what would happen if he dared.
The typical goodbyes were made and his father's sullen temperament returned like the ice returning to a lake in a new winter and the rant on how "John should be more like Clara" and "could have tried harder to get involved with the business aspects" began.
By now John was used to this one-sided conversation and knew there was no need or want for him to reply. It was his father's most treasured time with his son, when he could point out his flaws with no argument, and who was John to take that simple pleasure away from him?
Instead he found himself thinking about a stubborn girl, about the first time his charm hadn't worked and about the colour golden brown.
The colour of her eyes.