Alter’s source work and author: Original character Door: Ocean's Eleven Character Journal name: ~incharge Character Name: Neil Donovan Character Age: 36 Character Played By: Richard Armitage
Character History and Personality:
Neil was lucky enough to be born into money. His family was old and well-respected in Scotland, the wealth having been inherited through the ages, and there was no shortage of relatives to be found. They were all quite close, to the point where cousins became as beloved as his own brothers and sisters and it didn't matter if Susanna was his third cousin twice-removed or that Andrew might not have been blood related at all. Neil's parents got along quite well with their own siblings, and the fact that most lived within the same vicinity meant that unannounced visits were quite common.
Being raised surrounded by people who loved him meant that Neil grew into a cheerful, outgoing young boy. He was given the best education, beginning with tutors until he was old enough for boarding school, and his spare time was filled with all the activities money could buy. Horseback riding lessons, fencing, cello, piano, and football (soccer to the Americans) were just some of the hobbies he dabbled in during his childhood. His attention span was short and sticking with one thing for a long period of time was tricky, but he did enjoy being active. To his mother's disappointment, Neil never really took to music, lacking the patience and dedication required to practice and improve.
It took him a while to adjust to boarding school. He missed his family, and he missed his horse, but most of the other boys came from similar backgrounds and he found that he fit in quite well. Soon enough Neil thrived in his new environment, writing letters home to his family each weekend and visiting on holidays and whenever else he found the time. Despite his wealthy background, Neil had never become as arrogant and condescending as some of his classmates. He simply saw himself as lucky, rather than deserving of the special treatment he received, and understood early on that not everyone was as fortunate. His level-headedness was, in part, a result of his parents, who did not want their children to grow up thinking they were better than everyone around them simply because of their wealth. Neil never had much of an opportunity to interact with anyone other than the elite, however, not until he seized his independence and set off to attend a university of his choice.
Neil's teenage years were a breeze. He was popular and well-liked by his peers and teachers alike, only encountering a few bumps in the road here and there. He had a few girlfriends, friends of the family that his parents had introduced him to, but none lasted. Neil didn't much care for marrying someone of a suitable background, and starting a family was very low on his list. Some of his siblings already spoke of weddings and babies, but Neil wanted to live.
University was his first real chance to experience the world outside of his own sheltered sphere. Neil moved to England to attend Oxford, and while it certainly wasn't an average university, not all the students were as wealthy or prestigious as his boarding school peers. He was more interested in people than his studies at first, but after a rocky first year he smartened up and started applying himself. The problem was, however, that Neil was fickle, and he dabbled in just about everything to the dismay of his parents. Finance, business, then psychology and sociology; he had a hard time choosing one particular path. He kept away from the arts for the most part, and by the time he reached his third year his friends and siblings teased that he would make a living from being a student for the rest of his life. Neil laughed along with them, not terribly concerned, and he might have spent another four years in school if it hadn't been for a summer trip to Paris with a group of friends when he was on the cusp of his twenty-third birthday.
One of the girls just had to see the Palais Garnier, babbling on about some stupid musical or book Neil didn't care enough about to listen to, but once they were inside on their tour the strangest feeling came over him. It was a sudden wave of nostalgia, a recognition that this place or something about it was familiar.
He was kicked out for wandering past the indicated barriers, convinced that he had to find the underground lake.
Neil graduated a year later with a degree in psychology and philosophy. After a graduation party back home in Scotland he packed up once again and moved to Paris, plagued by whatever had happened to him in the Palais Garnier. He didn't risk going back, but he rented himself a nice apartment in the heart of the city and settled down in an attempt to discover what it was about this place that had affected him so. He didn't work, sustaining himself off his inheritance, and the following two years left him endlessly frustrated. Neil had dated a few French girls, taken in the sights, and brushed up on his French, but there was not even the barest hint of what he'd felt in the opera house.
That was when he decided he'd been unbelievably foolish, and moved back home once more with every intention of leaving his delusions behind in Paris. The next three years passed by rather uneventfully for Neil, who lived a very comfortable life and nabbed himself a job with a university. He took some more classes, furthering his education, and had a string of relationships that went absolutely nowhere. Neil wanted a meaningful relationship, but things never felt quite right. No matter how pretty the woman or how stunning her personality, something always seemed to be missing. It perplexed him, perhaps, but he was content to play uncle to the hoard of little nieces and nephews that came as his siblings and cousins married and started families of their own.
A vacation to the United States with one of his brothers resulted in a permanent stay in Chicago, and Neil adapted rather easily to his new surroundings. Money wasn't an issue, after all, and America wasfascinating. Some part of him still wondered about the strangeness of Paris, but that too faded, and everything seemed normal until his brother's bachelor party in Las Vegas.
All his male relatives flew in, and the plan was to spend a few days living it up before everyone would go back in their respective directions. The first day turned out to be just that, and the night was certainly wild, but on the second day Neil made the mistake of agreeing to see one of the shows with a woman he'd met (read: a woman his relatives practically forced on him). She was dying to see some Phantom Spectacular at the Venetian, whatever that was, and Neil agreed dutifully.
What he'd experienced in Paris was nothing compared to what happened to him during the show.
Neil felt as though it was his entire life story being played out on the stage before him. The woman, Christine, seemed so familiar, and he felt a burning hatred for Raoul. He ceased to remember that they were all actors playing a part; to him it felt very, very real.
As soon as the curtain fell Neil was out of his seat and moving fast, ignoring his companion's confused cries. He drank a great deal afterward, and that night his dreams were filled with a lovely brunette, with music and heartache, and he awakened with a name on his lips: Christine.
A year later, and Neil had seen the Phantom of the Opera on every single stage it played upon. He'd read the novel, seen the movie, but it was the musical that spoke to him. The dreams had only intensified, and they'd begun to spill over into his waking hours. When he passed a mirror, he expected to see a hideous visage staring back at him. Where he'd once thrived in the presence of others he now shied back, wary, and everyone who knew him was puzzled by this sudden change in his personality. Neil felt as though he was going insane, and when his father needed someone to see a construction job in Las Vegas he jumped at the opportunity to distract himself with something normal.
Unfortunately, Vegas was not the saving grace he'd hoped it would be. Six months in to his stay and he began to hear music that no one else could. At first it was faint, barely there, but then it grew louder, and it was nothing he'd ever heard before. No one he attempted to describe it to could identify it either, and it took longer than it should have for him to realize that the music came from somewhere within himself. Each piece differed depending on the day. They were original scores, and in the midst of the dreams and his growing disdain for society a sudden urge seized him.
He had to create music that could be shared. If he kept it all inside, it would drive him insane.
Then came the hotel in Las Vegas. The appearance of the Phantom himself in his mind, and for a while, Neil and Erik were okay. It wasn't easy, having a psychopath in his head, but they coped, and then the Phantom disappeared.
Then came Norman Osborn. A new kind of psychopath, the super-villain type, and things got bad. Las Vegas began to seem more like a blessing than a curse. Ties with his family were tested, he and Sam had more downs than ups, and Neil found solace in booze. Crazy ex-girlfriends tried to ruin his life, his parents disowned him, and god, he was weak. It was a rocky road, one that suddenly veered off in a direction he hadn't expected; gone were the voices in his head, but now Neil was actually in the hotel. He found himself in Gotham, the head of a crime family, and he couldn't handle it. He wasn't strong enough to lead a syndicate, and things fell apart again. He drank more, ended up in another door, and then...
Then, Neil went back. He went home. Out in the real world, left with nothing.
It would have been easy to wallow. Near broke, cut off from the family money, literally a universe away from Sam and Louis; slipping back into alcoholism was so very tempting. And, for a while, Neil gave in to temptation. Six months, and then he ended up in an AA meeting. He found people like him, people who'd overcome it, and he learned. He learned how to be strong. Another six months, these ones sober, and Neil went back to Scotland to confront his parents.
He wanted what was rightfully his. He wanted his share of the family business, what he was owed; he wanted to be written back into the will. At first his father protested, but Neil stood his ground. He threatened to air the family's dirty laundry in public, to drag his father through court. Anything and everything, he declared, and finally his parents gave in. So Neil took his money, he took a good chunk of the family's property, and he left to carve his own path for the very first time.
Three years, between Scotland and England. Neil missed Sam, of course he did, but time passed and he told himself it was better this way. He established businesses, built apartment complexes, and he flourished. Finally, life was good. Restaurants, strip clubs, regular clubs, he owned them all, and maybe it was inevitable that his establishments would catch the wrong kind of attention. Bigger fish, not your common criminal, people who needed property and covers and could give favors in return.
It was what Neil had practically run away from years ago, in that comic book city, but things were different now. He was no longer afraid, and besides, where the hell had keeping his hands clean gotten him?
So Neil made new friends, new business connections. He let his buildings, his businesses, be used by the crime families, the cartels, and in exchange they offered protection and money. Drug trafficking, arms dealing, but he stayed out of prostitution. When cargo needed to be shipped he was there, too, and he extended his benefits to his employees, making sure anyone who worked for him in any regard was looked after. It didn't bother him. It wasn't like Gotham, Neil didn't need to kill anyone or call the shots himself. It was better.
And, to top it off, he'd met someone. A woman, Meredith, who'd worked for his father but come to work for him instead. At first she was just companionship, a way to soothe loneliness, but it became something more to the point where, when Neil decided to move overseas, to Las Vegas, Meredith came with him. He set down roots, brought over some connections and forged new ones, venturing beyond clubs and into casinos. Maybe it wasn't the best choice for an ex-alcoholic but, with Meredith's help and multiple AA meetings, he stayed sober.
Two years passed, and then the hotel decided to intervene. Again.
Journal/Key: His journal is a smartphone. His key is generic silver.
External Door items:
- Accumulated wealth (family money and income from various properties/businesses)