August 12, 1998
"You don't have to do this, Owen," the tall suited man said over the cauldron like pot to his stoic assistant. Owen stared back at him, no trace of fear evident in his demeanor, only a quiet dignity and still confidence.
"Nonsense, sir," Owen insisted, using his still capable hand to remove his glasses and place them carefully in his breast pocket. Once that was done he began to roll up his left sleeve determinedly. "It would be unwise for you to test this batch yourself. It may have similar outcomes to the last one."
Both men glanced momentarily at the stone fist that hung solid and heavy at Owen Burnett's side, forever frozen that way after testing an attempt at immortality for his employer David Xanatos. The Cauldron of Life had been a bitter disappointment, only a little less so as the body of Coyote 4.0. Now, three years after the android's destruction, the bits of scrap metal had been reconstructed into a new and improved Cauldron of Life barely half the size of its predecessor. And Owen was about to test it again.
"I hope you know Owen," David assured, hand resting thoughtfully on his chin as Owen observed the bubbling contents for the cauldron, "There's not a day that goes by that I don't regret that." He motioned to the stone hand. Owen eyed him silently.
"You may not have to regret it much longer, sir," he stated and thrusting his once animated arm into the cauldron without any further preamble. Despite the worry he held for his friend, David Xanatos was still eager for immortality and so leaned far over the cauldron to observe what would happen. After little less than a minute, Owen lifted his arm from beneath the glowing liquid, his stone hand dripping as petrichor filled the air around them.
Beside an obvious change in color, the appendage looked exactly as it had before and David sighed in defeat. Once again it looked as if the old cauldron had failed him. Owen did not look surprised, nor disappointed, nor any other distinguishable emotion. He simply looked informed. He was prepared to give his condolences to his employer when suddenly a large crack shot up the wrist of his stone hand, a brilliant light shining through it. He raised an eyebrow.
"Well, that's interesting," Xanatos observed, a sly grin forming on his lips when the crack expanded, spider webs of light forming all over his assistant's hand.
The two men watched, entranced, as the light behind the cracks grew in intensity and suddenly flared up in a small explosion that blew the stone bits off of Owen Burnett's arm. They had both looked away to shield their eyes, but looked back now and stared in awe at the smooth, lively hand. Where once stone had lain, pink flesh now rested looking as if had just been scrubbed roughly in an attempt to remove the rock.
"Sir," Owen breathed, a small trace of surprise audible in his voice for the first time since his creation, "You've done it."
Xanatos barked a triumphant laugh, leaning back over the cauldron to look at this…elixir he had created. The glow lit his elated face in the dim light of the laboratory he had built inside Castle Wyvern. The sun was just setting outside and as the last rays of daylight slipped away over the horizon, a mighty roar went up all throughout the castle pulling Xanatos away from his celebration.
"I think we had better keep this under wraps for a while, Owen," he stated matter-of-factly, walking over to one of the many metal cabinets located in the laboratory. He riffled through the shelves until he found a small cardboard box filled with glass vials. This latest version of the cauldron was so small, that all its contents could be stored in a series of these flasks. David rushed the box over to the table they had set up nearby, beginning to hand bottles to his assistant. "I need to think of a way to explain it to Fox when Alex's is a little older."
"You wish to give the boy the potion?" Owen asked curiously, his young charge coming to mind as he began bottling the brew. At a month away from two years old, Alexander Xanatos looked as if he could have been creeping up on four and was sharp as a whip, absorbing his magical lessons like a sponge.
"Someday I hope to have my entire family take it," Xanatos clarified, referring to Fox and Alexander with a fond look in his eyes, "Then, we can all spend eternity together With Alex forever under your tutelage." He laughed at his, beginning to repackage the now full vials into the box as Owen came to looking thoughtful.
"Sir, about that," he began, draining the last of the elixir into a flask before handing it to his employer, "It has come to my attention that while young Alexander will never want for another magical tutor, he'll need to be given a proper human education as well."
David paused at this, the last vial in his large hand poised over the box. Setting it in gently, he closed the lid and lifted the box from the table, walking towards the back of the room silently. "You're talking about things like math and history and science aren't you?" Reaching the far wall, he placed his hand on a seemingly unmarked stone in the wall. A line of light appeared and scanned his hand before a secret compartment was revealed in the back wall, opening with a hiss as mist from the chilled inside poured out. "Can't you teach him all that stuff?"
"While I am learned in all those areas," Owen intoned as David slid the box inside the chamber, "I was not raised in the human realm and therefore would not know how to present them to young Alexander. Also before he can begin to study things like science and history he must learn the basic foundations of an education. How to read, how to write, etcetera."
"Are you saying I need to get my son another, non-magical, private tutor?" Xanatos questioned, turning to face Owen with his hands on his hips as the secret compartment resealed itself. Owen tilted his head.
"It would be wise, sir. A human trained in the line of educating a child would suit Alexander better than myself."
David Xanatos sighed, stroking his goatee thoughtfully. It was rare Owen admitted that someone else would be better suited for a task than him. Looking back at his assistant to be sure he was serious, Xanatos rolled his eyes and motioned to the laboratory door. Owen followed. "How long do you figure we have before we need to bring this tutor in?"
"I believe somewhere around the time frame of two years from now, sir."
September 1, 2000
The young woman fidgeted nervously in the cushioned seat, purse set in her lap. That was the only thing keeping her from constantly smoothing her hands over her knee length black skirt in anxiety. She had been sitting in the waiting area of the Eyrie Building for the last twenty minutes and had to admit that for being the tallest building in New York City and having a medieval castle resting atop it, the lobby of the Eyrie Building was fairly standard. Many elevators lead here and there and it also had several massive staircases leading up into the building. At the front desk one guard was on duty, scribbling idly in a pad as the woman continued to shift around in the chair.
She was a pretty young thing. With russet skin and raven black hair, the guard thought to himself that she somewhat resembled the woman detective Maza that was always coming through here. She had large brown eyes protected behind a pair of thick framed glasses that continuously slipped down her nose much to her annoyance and embarrassment. She had just pushed them up for the twelfth time since arriving when the light tap of dress shoes over marble tile echoed into her ears.
"Ms. Aguilar?" Her head immediately picked up, bangs flapping across her forehead as she spotted the tall man approaching her from the hallway off to her right. He was as broad as he was tall, his shoulders spanning the length of two of her and he wore severe looking glasses on his straight nose. A shock of blonde hair was brushed neatly back on his head, and as he approached, the young woman stood and took note of his impossibly blue eyes.
"Oh, um, Helena is fine," she stammered, adjusting her purse strap on her shoulder as she reached her right hand out to shake. The man's left hand remained fisted at his side until he noted the awkward look on Helena's face and he brought it up as if he forgot he had the ability. His large hand enveloped her small one and she gulped as he shook it once, firmly.
"If you would please follow me," the man requested stiffly after dropping her hand. She fell into step beside him. The top of her head barely reached his shoulder and one of his large steps was nearly three of her smaller ones. They walked in silence, leaving the guard and lobby behind as he led her to the elevators. "Mr. Xanatos requested he take your interview in his personal office as he is very busy at the moment." He pushed the button to call the lift.
"That's perfectly fine," Helena assured, hugging her purse to her side, knuckles white from the insane grip she had on the strap, "I know Mr. Xanatos must have a very demanding schedule." The light dinged.
"Indeed," the blonde man agreed, motioning for her to enter the elevator before him once the door had slid open. The two of them stepped inside, Helena squeezing towards the back, feeling as if she could not give her escort enough space. He pushed a button. Her brow furrowed curiously.
"Mr. Xanatos' office is on the top level?" The man glanced over his shoulder at her.
"The bulk of the area composing the lower two thirds of this building is office space," he stated matter-of-factly as if reading from a provided text, "Many Xanatos Enterprises employees work here, but Mr. Xanatos as well as myself have private offices of our own located inside Castle Wyvern."
"The top most level," Helena concluded trying to keep her nervousness out of her voice. Having a job interview with the David Xanatos was one thing, but she had never dared to dream she would one day get to see the inside of the famous Castle Wyvern.
"Not necessarily," the majordomo corrected, eyes glued to the elevator hand as it moved over each floor number slowly, "The castle has many levels of its own, and it would have been difficult and expensive to have elevators installed that would reach each of them We will get out on the last stop in the Great Hall of the castle. From there, stairs will take us to Mr. Xanatos' office."
Helena nodded even though the man was not looking at her and most of what he had said had sailed far over her head. She'd never stepped foot inside a castle and knew without her guide she would become hopelessly lost in a matter of minutes. Being as such, she resolved to stick close to…
"I'm sorry," she chuckled nervously as the elevator finally dinged to a stop at the last level it reached, "I didn't catch your name." The doors slid open.
The man stepped out, looking completely at ease and as if he belonged in the surroundings of the old Irish castle. He turned back to Helena who was trapped at the edge of the lift, lips parted in awe at the feeling of standing in the middle of a piece of history. "My name is Owen Burnett."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Burnett," she said sincerely, quickly shaking herself from the trance the castle had put her under as he began to walk away. Her low heals clicked against the floor as she kept a light trot to keep up with him.
The Great Hall, probably the largest space in the castle was, in the Middle Ages, a typical castle hall. It was used for feasting and official functions, but in the modern day it served as a grand foyer or main room. The room was decorated with tapestries and Helena noticed an empty glass case against one of the far walls. A main desk was present in the room, its old dirt and stone floor replaced with smooth tile and grand chandeliers and electric lights hung where she was sure candles had been before. Helena took this all in through a series of glances, trying to commit everything to memory for retelling later in the high chance she didn't get the job.
"The pleasure is mine," Mr. Burnett insisted, back staying ramrod straight as he reached the first flight of stairs. Helena, beginning to regret the decision to wear a pencil skirt, followed as closely behind as she dared. As they went, she noted that though much of the lower part of the castle seemed to be renovated, as they climbed higher, things seemed to have remained frozen in 994. At least from what she could see.
It was a whole other flight of stairs, a labyrinth of hallways, and a breezy walk across the outside courtyards ("Those gargoyle statues lasted all this time?!") before Owen stopped short before a set of tall double doors. Helena fidgeted behind him, shaking hands straightening and smoothing every area of her face and outfit she could reach. The tall blonde raised an eyebrow over his shoulder, silently asking if she was ready for what she was about to do. Helena thought that perhaps she wasn't, but decided to do it anyway and nodded at her guide.
"Miss Helena Aguilar to see you, sir," Owen announced as he pushed the door open without even a warning knock. Helena pondered the relationship between the blonde and his employer for all of two seconds before stepping into the office and becoming trapped in the eyes of David Xanatos.
"Miss Aguilar," he greeted kindly enough, pausing momentarily in his attack on the stack of papers on his desk, "Please have a seat." Helena hurried forward, hearing the door shut at her back as she took the single chair placed before Xanatos' desk. She scooted forward slightly, anxiously glancing here and there as she waited for her possible future employer to place his paper work down. When he finally did, he fixed the young woman sitting across from him with a calculating gaze. "So, Helena," he began, hands folded before him, "That's an interesting name."
"Oh, well," she forced a chuckle, "My mom was obsessed with Shakespeare when she had me, so she named me after one of his characters...go figure."
"How interesting," Xanatos commented, head tilted in a thoughtful manner, his pony tail brushing across the back of his suit, "Which play?"
"A Midsummer Night's Dream," Helena replied lowly, very used to this question and still wishing she had a more unique answer after all these years. So many people knew the name of the play, but not the actual storyline outside of the trickster and the man with the ass's head. Many never even knew a character named Helena existed in the play and so gave her odd looks when she gave her reply, thinking themselves experts on 'the play with the fairy Puck.' "I have a younger sister named Hermia."
Xanatos smirked, organizing the mess atop his desk as he addressed the young woman. "Forgive me for saying," he said, opening a side drawer and pulling out a manila folder, "But I think you got the better name."
"She doesn't get out much," Helena joked, smiling fondly as she thought of her 18 year old sister back home in Brooklyn. The truth was she did get out, quite a lot. She was beautiful and vivacious and people just seemed drawn to her happy attitude. She was everything Helena had wished she could be growing up and the two rarely saw eye on many things.
While Helena had studied hard in school and took on an indecent amount of credits to graduate with a bachelors and completed a masters in education long before her peers, Hermia had decided college simply did not fit the lifestyle she wanted to have. The two had argued heatedly for weeks on the matter. It was not as if money were an issue; the Aguilars were a wealthy family. This was something Hermia brought up constantly while Helena was still in school. Why would she want to become a teacher and make next to nothing when she had grown up in the lap of luxury? Helena had not had an answer back then at only 19 years old, but now nearly seven years later she did. She wanted to become a teacher because she wanted to make a difference in the life of others and she loved children. The world needed educators as much as it needed clean water and air or their way of life would die.
Xanatos had laughed lowly at her joke and flipped open the folder, dark eyes scanning it meticulously as Helena watched on, an odd feeling raising at the back of her neck. She shifted her weight. "Says here you graduated with your bachelor's degree after three years."
Helena fought down the urge to shout 'I knew it!' as the strange sense that had overtaken her was realized. David Xanatos was looking through a file on her. A powerful man like him had all the resources one could need to do background checks and he was too smart of a man to not use them. "I was taking 21 credits some semesters," she admitted, trying to sound humble, "As well as summer and winter term classes. I really just wanted to finish as quickly as possible."
"That's impressive," Xanatos nodded, placing the folder down and folding his hands over it as he scrutinized the young woman before him. Though nervous, Helena met his eyes and did not look away even when he began to smirk. "I like you, Helena," he admitted, using her first name though she had not told him to, "Your background check shows nothing but a squeaky clean life and calls with your former employers and professors all checked you out as an outstanding teacher and truly motivated worker."
"You called my former employ-?"
"I'm not gonna lie," David cut across her, "I want you to work for me; teaching my son." Helena nearly fell from the chair, so shocked was she at this straight forward statement. Xanatos smirked at her. "However," he continued, looking away and beginning to return the file on Helena to his desk, "As a man of my status, I'm sure you realize my life has to maintain a certain level of…secrecy."
Helena's brow furrowed, but she nodded none the less. "I'll sign any gag order you want me to-"
"I'm afraid," the man chuckled, "It's not that simple." He stood from his desk. "You see there are many people that come and work for me here on a daily basis. The thing is they work down in the offices; employees of Xanatos Enterprises." Helena nodded as Xanatos continued the slow pace around his desk. "Outside of Owen, not a single employee of mine works directly with my family." Here he paused, leaning casually against his desk in front of the young woman who scrunched down in her seat. "My family means everything to me, Ms. Aguilar," he stated seriously, eyes narrowed as he observed the copper skinned girl before him, "As such I would do absolutely anything to protect them."
"I understand," Helena muttered, voice brought down to a frightened whispered as the most powerful man in the city and possibly the world glared down at her. After a few more tense moments, he eased his stance and returned to his spot behind the desk.
"Good," he said lightly lowering himself casually into his seat and reclining slightly, hands folded over his abdomen. "So I'm sure you'll understand my need for you to live here."
"What?" Helena gasped. Xanatos raised an eyebrow. She backtracked. "I-I mean…I-I-I couldn't possibly-"
"Sure you could," Xanatos waved her off, not seeming to give the panicky female much mind as he returned to his papers. "The only way I can be sure you won't jeopardize my family's safety is if I keep you where I can keep an eye you."
Helena bristled at being referred to like some sort of object, but stifled down any witty comebacks in exchange for reasonable arguments. "Mr. Xanatos, I cannot simply uproot my life for this job."
"I don't see why not," David countered, looking casually over some test results from back in the lab. "I will be paying you a nearly indecent amount of money to teach my son here in Castle Wyvern where you would reside. You wouldn't be uprooting your life," he insisted, ignoring the woman's incredulous gaze, "but improving it."
"But my family-"
"Would be informed of your employment and you would of course be afforded off time to go and see them. You live alone, is that right, Helena?" Helena wasn't sure how comfortable she was with him using her first name anymore, but nodded none the less. "So it's not as if you have a live-in or boyfriend that would be inconvenienced by your absence."
She was stung at the jab at her relationship status, but ignored it to turn over what was being said with a reasonable mind. It was true that there was nothing but sentiment tying her to her tiny apartment back in Brooklyn that she had scraped and saved to pay for out of her own pocket. She didn't even have a pet whose behalf she could plead on. Everything she owned could be moved here into the castle in a matter of days and then she would begin to make more money than she could have ever hoped to as a simple elementary school teacher. And the employment would not be a short one either. David Xanatos did not seem the type to research and find new people for every year of his son's education. Helena was capable of teaching pre-school through eighth grade which she was sure her new employer already knew.
Her new employer.
"Can I have some time to think about?" she asked meekly despite everything she had just figured.
"I really don't see what there is to think about," David told her, leaning back in his seat again to watch the plethora of emotions parade across her face. There was indignation as well as confusion and interest as well as anger. He could tell she was battling to find a good reason to say no to this and could only smile as he watched her come up with none. Some would turn down the offer simply on the grounds that he appeared to have completely made the decision for her. This was not fact, however. She had a choice in the matter, but really it was either yes or no. In David's opinion only a fool would turn down this job, and from thoroughly scanning her records, David could figure that Helena Aguilar was no fool. She locked eyes with him through her glasses.
"Excellent!" he enthused, reaching over and pushing a button on the control panel located at the left hand corner of his desk. He stood and Helena followed his lead. He began to walk her to the door of his office. "I'll send Owen to collect you from your apartment within the next day or two. Movers will come after."
"Do you need me to write down the address?" Helena felt a chill run down her spine as her new employer chuckled and replied that he did not; he knew where she lived. Just as they reached the door, it opened to reveal Mr. Burnett standing there as stoic as when he had left. Helena nodded at him and he returned the gesture as his employer patted his shoulder.
"Owen," David smiled, "Ms. Aguilar is going to be with us for some time. I want you to make sure she is comfortable once she is moved in."
"Yes, sir," Owen replied before turning to Helena. "Congratulations on your new employment, Ms. Aguilar."
"Thank you," she murmured, following closely as the tall blonde began to guide her from the office. She paused in the threshold however, turning to look over her shoulder at David Xanatos who had returned to his desk and looked ready to make a phone call. He was a smart, meticulous man Helena realized. He had clawed his way to the top and was determined to stay there. He would not risk his position in any way and so keeping his main headquarters protected like a fortress was no doubt very important to him. Helena looked around the old stone hall turned workplace and knew that only a handful of people had ever been allowed the chance to see this. "Mr. Xanatos?"
"Yes?" Xanatos had the receiver raised to his ear and his free hand poised over the keypad. Owen had stopped in the hallway when he realized the teacher was not following him.
"You wouldn't have had this interview with me if you didn't think you were going to hire me would you?"
The billionaire grinned, placing the phone down and leaning his elbows on his desktop, hands folded before his face as he studied the skirt clad female in his doorway. "Helena," he began, "I am a very wealthy man, a fact I enjoy quite a bit." She nodded. "And I'm sure you're familiar with the expression 'time is money'." She nodded. "Right. Well…I would not have wasted my time and therefore my hard earned money on this meeting…if I didn't know I was going to hire you."
Helena took a moment to contemplate this, remembering how nervous she had been as she had done her hair and picked out her outfit this morning; so nervous for an interview that was no more than a small meeting before she began working for the man that sat before her. With another small nod, she turned and passed through the door, heals clicking over the stone floor as she hurried to catch up with her blonde guide. Still in his seat, David Xanatos chuckled and reclined in his chair wondering how the small firecracker of a woman he had just encountered would fit into the life he and his family lead. He would have to be sure to have Owen keep a close eye on her.