Disclaimer:"Reign" or the characters used in it are not mine, but the crazy idea about transfering Henry, Catherine & Co. in our modern times belongs to me. :-) Violations of any rights are not intended.
Pairing: Catherine/Henry – Cathry (main pairing); Mary/Francis (minor pairing)
Rating: M / P16
Catergory: modern Alternate Universe, Romance, Drama
Summery: Did you ever wonder how Catherine's & Henry's lives would look like if they've lived in our digital age? Would their marriage be just as poisoned, difficult and frustrating? Yes damn, just like that!
Personal remarks: I am sure that I will not always succeed in remaining completely in-character in an AU-FF. However, I will try to do justice to all involved characters. Please be aware that I write this fanfiction in German an translate it later on. So it might take some time here and there to post an update.
Walking on broken glass
With screeching tires Henry Valois speeded down the narrow driveway to parking level 1 with his black Ford Mustang. He was late, not the first time this week. But this time, Catherine was going to give him hell. Now more than ever.
Today was their monthly Jour-Fix meeting she convened to discuss the state of company. A meeting that also served as some sort of leadership brainstorming for expansion and innovation. Obviously his wife took these meetings very seriously. And tardiness as a personal affront. Especially if the person in question was her husband.
After the last sharp bend Henry jamed on the brakes and let out a rude curse when he saw Catherine's red Porsche 911 that was parked in the middle of both CEO parking lots reserved for the two of them. "For crying out loud! Damn it woman, where did you learn to park!", he shouted angrily and drove around the next corner to search for a free employee parking lot.
To his annoyance he only found one on the second parking level and lost some more precious minutes. After he had parked his car, Henry hurried to the elevator that unfortunately stopped on almost every floor of the building to let people in or out and added to his growing frustration. He impatiently kept glancing at his Rolex, but no matter how often he checked the time, the fact that he was twenty minutes too late was out of question.
Finally the door to the management floor of Val-Sec - Valois Security opened and he rushed down the hall, past Catherine's secretary and breathlessly tore open the door to the executive board meeting room.
Five pairs of eyes immediately focused on the newcomer. One of them shot poisonous arrows in his direction.
"How lovely that you could arrange it as well, Henry," his wife said instead of a greeting and the icy undertone that clung to her words didn't escaped those present. The arctic winter was nothing against an angry Catherine de' Medici.
Henry just grunted in irritation and poured himself a cup of coffee instead of giving her a reply. He wasn't up for a dispute without prior caffeine intake.
Catherine gestured for Richard de la Croix, their personnel manager, to continue with his report. Henry only listened with one ear. His wife took care of all personnel matters and they admittedly didn't interest him. What mattered to him was the continious development of their products and their fight against their competitors to hold their ground as global market leader.
And their competitors did not sleep but put forward new innovations in the internet security segment. They all knew that they could only grow by opening new doors in the area of security and surveillance technology in the long run.
Should Catherine be responsible for their staff and their finances. As long as the business was going well and she did not interfere in his section of development, he would let her have carte blanche at full length.
Because no matter how capricious, temperamental and stubborn his wife may be, she was a cunning businesswoman with a keen intuition for the right investments.
Their son Francis was sitting next to his mother, eagerly absorbing each detail of Richard's report. Now and then he lowered his blond head to take some notes. The boy had turned 21 just a few weeks ago and Catherine had insisted that he was now old enough to become part of their management team step by step. And his boy was doing well. Maybe he still acted out a little bit hesitant but he had inherited his parents sense for business. He met his growing obligations quite eagerly and with great care. Given time and with more experience they would be able to entrust Fancis with the junior management of their company.
The next report was that of Paula Baker, a woman in her mid-fifties with an ugly page boy haircut and a pesky, nasal voice. She endlessly held forth about the one and only topic she ever talked about: financial accounting. Within a few minutes Henry's head was buzzing while Paula tortured them with terms such as working capital, EBITDA margins, and cash flow.
Bored out of his mind he took out his mobile phone and unlocked the screen. Several unread messages were waiting for him. On top of them was a whatsapp Kenna had sent him. With a smug grin on his face he opened their message history. This nasty little minx had sent him a picture where she was posing with nothing more than a tiny piece of black lace on. She was laying on the same bed where he had woken up merely an hour ago. Slightly hungover and disoriented.
Last night they went out. Actually he had only planned to take her to a good restaurant but Kenna had persuaded him to visit one of the exclusive hip clubs. In the end he just gave in.
She was a sweet, naive little thing that lived in a shared flat with 2 equally young girls he met this moring while only wearing his boxer shorts. And truth been told – all of them could have been his children. Not exactly the best way to start a day.
He liked her, even though her childish nature annoyed him more and more.
Nor was she the brightest kid but she adored him and massaged his ego – among other parts of his body. She was doing more for him in that department than his wife Catherine did.
Henry pressed the back button and saw that his wife had also sent him some text messages. The first one was from yesterday afternoon where she asked him to pick up their youngest son Charles from his softball game as she was stuck in a meeting with potential partner companies. Numerous messages had followed, her tone getting sharper from text to text until she had called him "an irresponsible, dick-driven whoremonger" around midnight. In Italian.
Henry stifled a loud sigh. Just when he was about to close the window, a new text message popped up. "I know that you don't show any respect to me these days but could you please - at least for Paula's sake - pursue your silly mobile games less conspicuous? You are director of this company, a company I have laboriously built up to what it is today. SO WILL YOU KINDLY GET A GRIP, HENRY!"
Hereupon he lifted his head and looked at Catherine but she remained completely aloof at the other end of the table. She did not even bat an eye while seeming mainly focused on Paula. As always, his wife was the role model of a perfect businesswoman. Her long, reddish-blond hair was perfectly styled and fell onto her shoulders in soft, perfect locks, the obscenely expensive Armani costume fitted her perfectly as well as the white silky blouse underneath. And even though he couldn't see seem, Henry was sure that her black stilettos were also perfectly matched to her outfit. And she was perfect at multitasking, because nothing gave away that his beautiful wife secretly had spread her poison in his direction just mere seconds ago.
Henry began to type a snippy reply but made the mistake of looking up. The murderous gaze his wife threw at him that moment made him swallow hard. He dropped his phone on the table with a soft thud as if its burned his hands. The smug smile on Catherine's face and the way she raised her eyebrow in innocence accelerated his heartrate skywards.
Involuntarily he wondered when they had last communicated like normal people. Each of their encounters, whether in the company or at home, was a perpetual power struggle. One of the kind that deprived him of every ounce of energy. Who could blame him for losing himself in harmless little affairs with women like Kenna. Because Kenna did not glare at him with that look of deepest disappointment nor did she scream at him when he used up the last milk or missed an appointment.
And Kenna's body didn't freeze as soon as he let his hands wander over it. She rather welcomed his touch, loved him with a devotion that flattered his ego and nurtured his lust in a way that Catherine could no longer tolerate. One of the few circumstances he would never hold against her.
But what he did hold against his wife was the paralyzing helplessness that always overcame him when his more gentle approaches ricocheted from her walls. These protective walls she had built a decade ago and that were still intact despite his numerous attempts to bring them down. In fact they had not even cracked.
In the end, the last option left was giving up. And her stubborn, acted out of false pride nonchalance had driven him to more women than he could count. Over time he had forgotten if he wanted to punish her or simply distract himself from his broken marriage and the guilt he was feeling. Maybe both. Henry was not proud of his actions but since Catherine made no move to fix what was left of their marriage, he buried his ambiguous feelings for her in the deepest corner of his heart and chose the path of all cowards. Resignation coupled with ignorance and an unhealthy dose of bitterness.
All told he knew that it was not their four children who made her cling to this presumed dead marriage, but their company. Without Catherine's Medici money the company would face bankruptcy and on the other side she could no longer stay on the market without his technical expertise, much less dominate it. Both of them knew that and Henry watched Catherine's efforts to establish her eldest son, her golden boy, at his young age on the board with growing concern. The boy worshiped the ground his mother walked on. He however was only addressed by his son with angry glares he had obviously copied from the woman who had perfected them.
There was no one on earth who could freeze the blood in his veins with only one single glance except his Catherine.
In order to counteract her ambitions he had offered Francis' older half-brother Sebastian a job in his development department and made every effort to share his knowledge. His boy, who was two years older than Francis, emated from his liaison with Diane, an older woman whom he had impregnated at a young age even before he met Catherine.
Bash was a smart, aspiring young man and although he had not always been a good father to him, Bash had already proven to be a loyal and innovative associate. Nevertheless, his position was not comparable to that of Francis, who, unlike Sebastian, was inexorably pushed by his mother.
"Thank you Paula. We need to pay more attention to the payment behavier of our big customers. Overdues unnecessarily slow down our cash flow. Paula, I need all the figures from last quarter. Henry?"
He cleared his throat and rose from his chair. Meetings like these tired him. He was well aware that they were necessary for a company of this size, but why Catherine insisted that he also had to attend was and remained a mystery to him.
Unlike the others he declined to prepare any presentation with data, numbers and unnecessary frills. He spoke free and straight from the heart, concentrating only on his ongoing projects and dismissed himself after his succinct report before the meeting was over. As soon as he had closed the door it was already torn open again by Catherine, who angrily stormed after him.
"What's that all about?", she hissed indignantly.
"That's exactly the question I've asked myself when I saw how impossibly daft you've parked this morning. We are not in Italy, Catherine. The next time your car blocks my parking lot, I'll have it towed, I swear to you."
Instead of being ashamed by her miserable driving and parking skills, she merely rolled her eyes. A gesture that drove him crazy.
"You'll see what happens then." Catherine planted herself in front of him and the threatening sparkle in her brown eyes caused discomfort in his stomach.
"I hardly can't wait. My dear, don't you have a meeting to attend?" He asked with an ironic undertone and pointed to the door of the conference room.
"You as well."
"Oh no, my duty here is done. I still have work to do, Catherine. Real work."
Wild horses couldn't drag him back to this meeting. Should she take care of all these dreadfully boring affairs, his true passion was a more practical approach.
"Is it really too much to ask for? Can't you even pretend to behave like a damned director once a month, Henry?" Catherine didn't even wait for an answer but stalked back into the meeting room.
Quite automatically his eyes wandered to her round behind. He loved the way her tight skirt showed her ass to advantage. On the other hand he cursed the fact that she still had the ability to activate his pleasure center.
Hi there, I hope you like this crazy little idea and are curious about what's going on in their lifes.
In case there is someone out there who has a knack for cover editing... well, I would be in need for one... ;o)