Off-Screen Scene: Under Control

by Aidan Boyle
1297626713|%e %b %Y, %H:%M %Z|agohover (updated 1297627134|%e %b %Y, %H:%M %Z|agohover) | 0 comment(s)

“God dammit, Aidan!” Kim looses the frustrated curse after the door closes behind Lisa. She wasn't able to say to the frazzled line cook all of the things that she really wanted to – such as having complete sympathy for the young woman marching in the office and declaring that she quit. No, it isn't professional and doesn't present a united front if Kim points fingers at or insults Aidan Boyle.

But by all that was holy, she wants to wring the Vampire's neck.

Kim takes a very, very long drink from the sport bottle of water on the desk. It slows her down and forces her to work her way through a calming manta lest she storm out of the office and plant a silver knife in her employer's gut. It won't kill him, but it'll hurt like hell.

The kitchen is more chaotic than usual when Kim steps onto the scene. Not that it's a surprise; there is job shuffling going on, double-duties, backup-duties and juggling duties. The sort of thing that tends to happen if you have a line cook walk off in the middle of dinner rush. Kim stands out in the kitchen in her red blouse, dark skirt and four inch heels. She's not wearing one of the white coats worn by the prep cooks and line cooks, and the Egyptian blue chef coats are reserved for Aidan and his sous chefs.

Her heels click-clack-tap as she makes her way around the kitchen, navigating with the ease of one who's walked the path often enough. She stops at Aidan's station, almost rests her hand on the counter-top then thinks better of it. Instead she folds her arms beneath her breasts, tapping her nails against her elbow in time with the tapping of her left foot. “Aidan. We need to talk.”

Aidan spares a moment to slide his gaze her way. His jaw is tight and his brow slightly furrowed. Clearly, he's annoyed by her interruption. “In the middle of a dinner rush here, Kim. So not a good time.”

If she wasn't so pissed off at him at the moment, Kim would take a moment to admire Aidan in his element. It hasn't always been his place, she's sure of that much, but for this period of time, the kitchen – this restaurant – are Aidan's human element. He never appears more lively and more human than when he's operating in this arena. When he turns away from her, Kim circles around, keeping herself in his line of sight.

Aidan looks up from the meat he attacks with a knife with an incredible amount of skill and deftness, peeling the fat away and cubing the meat. “Well, if you're going to stand there, grab a pair of gloves and the coriander.” Aidan pauses in the midst of a cut, and adds after a beat, “And sage.”

“You didn't ask, but I convinced Lisa to stay on. I gave her tonight and tomorrow night off to regroup.”

“And I care because?” Aidan leans in her direction, and Kim steps to the side while he retrieves his own damn spices.

“Because having your line cook walk out when you don't have a replacement is bad business.”

Aidan snorts. “No, having a line cook who's incompetent is bad business. If she can't do her job, then maybe she needs to work somewhere else.” Aidan scoops the cubed meat into a large stainless steel bowl, then slides the remaining fat into the disposal slot. “I'm not a babysitter.”

“No,” Kim concedes. “But you are an ass.”

Suddenly, Aidan is further deep enough in her personal space that Kim takes an involuntary step backward before she thinks about. Something in his face changes, the mask of humanity shed as easily as changing clothes, and a dangerous energy rolls off of him. It crackles in the space between them, and a cold bead of coiled tension and fear worm their way down Kim's spine. She only stands her ground due to years of association with Aidan, the logical part of her brain working pass the automatic fear and reminding herself that Aidan isn't going to hurt her.

If he wanted me dead, I would be dead already. It's not much in the way of a comforting mantra, but it's the truth. Aidan's reaction is instinctual, primal. The Vampire's anger and annoyance with her come out in the same way a human would snap or raise their voice; the same way a dog growls and bites. Aidan isn't human though, and if there's anything to be taken from that analogy, Aidan's a rabid feral pit bull that can rip her throat out and not blink twice.

As quick as the mask slips, it's back in place and she's looking at what passes for a normal – if somewhat angry – human male. How twisted is it that Kim finds additional comfort in the knowledge that seeing Aidan's true nature is a measure of how close she is within his circle.

“My kitchen. My standards. My rules,” Aidan turns back to the food. “If she can't cut it, then she needs to find elsewhere to work.”

“You upset her, Aidan.” Kim pitches her voice low. The clamor of the kitchen will cover the words from those who don't need to hear them, but Aidan will hear her well enough.

Aidan barks sharp laughter. “She made a mistake. I pointed it out. A little constructive criticism never hurt anyone.”

“She was in tears.”

“She needs thicker skin.”

Kim does not hold back the half-growl, half-grunt of utter frustration that pushes it's way up from her throat. “This isn't just about Lisa. You've been abusing the staff for days.” No one has walked off the floor yet, and no one broke into tears until Lisa, but Kim's well aware that everyone from the sous chefs to the busboy have been walking on eggshells around Aidan. He's particularly argumentative, arrogant, condescending and mean on a level that would get him fired if he weren't his own boss. She's put out more fires and soothed more ruffled feather the past few days than she has in the entire past six months combined.

It's rather disturbing that she likes it better when Aidan is hunting and killing his way through a snit.

“I don't know what the hell your problem is, but you need to get over it. Fast. Before you don't have a staff working for you anymore.” Kim steps closer, daring to approach the bristling beast that lurks beneath the far too alluring facade. Her voice is pitched to a near whisper, but loud enough for the Vampire's sensitive hearing to pick it up. “When the kitchen closes tonight, you get the hell out of here, and do whatever you have to do to get it out of your system.”

She leaves him then, the hard look on her face discouraging anyone from making prolonged eye contact or trying to intercept her.

When the page comes at four in the morning and she has to dress and meet McNair on the other side of town, Kim experiences a sense of morbid relief. She doesn't get back to her flat until well after sunrise, and she knows that in a day or two, there will be a news report about a missing college girl.

Kim smiles as she crawls back into bed, comforted in the knowledge that things will get back to normal at Flare.


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