A/N: So, here it is, my first foray into The Good Wife fic. This is a mere one-shot-a ficlet, if you will, inspired by the wondrous Alan Cumming's tweet a week or so ago suggesting that he uses the iPad in the bathtub as well- the thought made me feel not quite so alone in that, as I have been well-known to use technology whilst enjoying a nice bath. Eli Gold is my favorite character on the show, and despite the fact that he's rather well put-together, I could see it in my mind's eye as a perfect fit. I'm unfamiliar with the readership of The Good Wife fic, but once I write something, I tend to feel an intense need to push it out there for someone to see.
I don't take myself too seriously.
Eli Gold loved to take baths—he delighted in them, truly. Something about the way the warm water seeped into his tired bones after a long day, it felt addictive. He didn't smoke, he didn't really drink, he didn't do drugs, not since that semester abroad in London, anyway—instead, he bathed. The water was oddly soothing to him, and he liked it almost searing hot.
He remembered when his daughter Marissa was born, and how his wife had to instruct him on properly drawing a bath for the infant; as someone who liked his own baths dreadfully hot, he was in no position to fully prepare one for a child. He had to run the water over his wrist, and if it felt cold to him, he made it even a little cooler still. He hadn't loved anything quite like he loved his daughter, and the last thing he wanted was to hurt her—so, he learned.
But, when it came time for his bath, the rules went out the window. He remembered when he and Vanessa were first married. Marissa came along so unexpectedly, and they weren't really emotionally or financially ready to support a child. When he thinks back on it now, he marvels at just how well Marissa turned out, given how fully unprepared they were.
Water, he learned quickly, could be expensive—and hot water, even more so.
In those early days, money was tight—they were renting some hole in the wall in the East Village, just trying to make ends meet. Strapped with bills and few promising prospects, Eli's bath-taking luxury rapidly diminished. Before he looked into Marissa's eyes, before he knew love in its purest, most unadulterated form, he would have resented such a shift. Marissa taught him how to be selfless.
He doesn't show it now, but Eli Gold is rather selfless when it comes to those for whom he genuinely cares—Marissa, Vanessa, Natalie, his childhood friend Abe and his wife Denise. The version of Eli Gold most are faced with, however, is only a half-truth—a role he plays so that he and his family will never have to want again.
A perk of that is that the baths, once moderated and a luxury he couldn't afford on most days, now flowed freely. And thank god for small favors; sans baths, with all the pressure he faced on a day to day basis, he knew he would not be a pleasant man.
Baths made him so much more productive—he didn't like to just sit in a bathtub; instead, he liked read, or write (until his senior year in college, he'd harbored a secret fantasy of becoming a writer). The progression of technology opened Eli Gold's world up to infinite possibilities. It began with a cell phone that could connect to the internet—always using great caution, he would bring it into the bathroom with him, set it outside the edge of the tub, and gingerly pick it up to compose an email he'd finished thinking over in his favorite thinking spot. At first, he half leaned out of the bathtub to compose. As time went on, however, he became more assured in his grip, holding the phone tightly with one hand while he typed with the other.
He was quite proud of the fact that he'd yet to lose a cell phone to water damage.
Yes, technological advancements were quite alright with Eli Gold; But, the iPad was the proverbial feather in his proverbial cap. The width of the machine made balancing it on one's knees in the bathtub exceedingly prudent—he still kept a tight grip on it with one hand, but he found that the size of the screen allowed him much more freedom, as he was more readily able to compose emails or speeches in the shower.
In the bath now, he chuckled aloud to himself—if any of his candidates or clients knew precisely how many speeches had been composed while he was naked, they'd likely have coronaries. See, bathing was his answer for any tough spot—writer's block, life decisions, anything important, really. And the iPad eliminated the use of pen and paper—annoying water droplets sprinkled on words, steam bent pages he sometimes had to carry around with him until he found the time to transcribe them.
He clutched his iPad now, resting against his knees as he felt the steam from the bathtub climb into his pores and nestle there. He shot off a couple emails, including one to Alicia Florrick about a lobby group he might need her help with. She responded immediately, and he wrote back, too, trying to iron out the details of when they could get together to discuss when the week began anew again.
He had just opened Notes to compose a particularly moving speech when he heard the familiar tone drift up from just outside the bathtub. His cell phone was ringing.
One thing Eli Gold learned early in his career was this: no matter who was calling, no matter when they were calling, and no matter what you were doing, you answered the phone. It was the difference between victory and defeat, success and failure, a payday and taking out a second mortgage. Some young guys nowadays turned their phones off, or on silent, or only answered calls from numbers they knew; that was a mistake. If one person didn't answer, odds are another would. Eli had long since passed the point in his career where people would wait for him to take their calls—but, he never chanced it. He never missed a call.
With that in mind, Eli set his iPad aside, made sure his hand was extra dry, and reached for his cell phone, not bothering to check the caller I.D., it didn't matter who it was: his ex, his mother, the president of the United States—he was answering the phone, anyway.
He waited for a second for the sloshing of the water to cease before raising the phone to his ear.
"Eli Gold." He said into the phone, his voice the same as always.
"Eli, it's Alicia." Alicia Florrick's voice greeted him on the other end of the line, she sounded a bit distracted, but he took his necessary turn.
"Hi, Alicia, what's up?" He queried, trying to hold his body as still as possible. As comfortable as he was using technology in the bathtub, he didn't necessarily want the fact broadcast to everyone—or anyone—he knew.
"I'm on my cell phone—I figured it'd be easier if we just talked on the phone for a minute."
Eli suppressed a smile, Alicia—always the practical one.
"Sure, sounds good."
"Where are you?" Alicia's voice sounded curious.
"Where am I?" Eli repeated her question, stalling a bit for time.
"Yeah, you sound kind of…" Her voice trailed off as though she were searching for the right word, "Echo-ey."
"Echo-ey? Weird. I'm at home." Eli said. Not a lie—despite his reputation as being somewhat ruthless, Eli didn't particularly enjoy lying. He tried to avoid it whenever he could—that way, his conscience didn't become overrun by the weight of it all, and when lying was important, he could do it. He'd found, over the years, that white lies add up.
"Okay," Alicia continued, suspicion not evident in her voice, "Well, I have kind of a packed schedule next week, Eli, so it's going to be difficult for me to get away…"
"I'm supposed to have access to you," Eli reminded her, trying to silently work out the cramp in his leg.
"I know, Eli, so what I was thinking is that—well, does this have to be done at the office?" She asked.
Eli considered this for a minute, "No, not really."
"Great! Then, we can both get what we want—I won't really have to take any time out of my busy schedule to meet with you, and you'll get to meet with me. We'll go to lunch on Monday."
The cramp in Eli's leg traveled upward, "Sure, that's fine, Alicia." He said, trying to rush her off the phone, lest she find out the truth.
"Great, have a nice weekend, Eli." She said curtly into the phone.
The words 'You too, Alicia,' were on the tip of his tongue when the cramp became unbearable, he shifted his leg out of necessity, hearing the sloshing of the water in the quietness of the bathroom.
There was silence on Alicia's end of the phone, before a cautious "Eli…" That sounded as though it were said with a smile, "Are you in the bathtub?"
Eli cleared his throat—he had two choices here—he could lie, or he could lie.
"No, no I'm not." He said, willing the rippled to stop lapping at the edge of the porcelain. He knew it was futile—"Yes, okay, I am in the bathtub!"
Alicia was laughing uncontrollably now, and hearing the sound, Eli couldn't help but smile himself. He imagined Alicia's face screwed up in laughter, the faint hint of tears in her eyes as she spoke, "But, you were emailing me!"
Eli sighed, "Well, it's where I do all of my important thinking."
Alicia's voice was still tinted with humor, but contained a bit of seriousness when she responded, "You take your technology in the bathtub with you?"
Eli nodded, "I do. My iPad nowadays, actually."
"That," Alicia said, breathing deeply in order to recover from her laughter, "is hilarious."
"I'm so glad you think it is," Eli's voice betrayed sarcasm, but it wasn't malicious. "And, by the way? Every single one of Peter's speeches?"
"Composed while I was in the bathtub, one way or another."
Alicia laughed anew then, "Oh, Eli, you've absolutely made my night. I'll see you Monday."
Eli smiled into the phone, "Goodbye, Alicia." He clicked 'end,' and set the phone down on the floor outside of the tub.
He knew he should be embarrassed—but, truth be told, to him, the laughter of a woman was worth all the embarrassment in the world. Maybe it stemmed from watching his mother weep in the days after his father left—she was never quite the same after that, always more hollow, always less happy, and there were stretches where he forgot the musical sounds of her laugh. Any time he could make his mother laugh, he felt like he had her back for a moment—he had the mother his father's absence had taken away; as long as she was laughing, she wasn't crying.
He'd never minded when women laughed at him or with him or because of him or for him—it brought him peace, so he settled back into the bath, enjoying the way his back felt pressed against the porcelain, the still-hot water cradling him in a way no one had in a very long time, bringing him comfort, bringing him peace, bringing him creativity.