Fluids

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logan_icon.gif mu-qian_icon.gif

Scene Title Fluids
Synopsis The Happy Dagger finds John Logan almost dead on the floor of his office, quite mysteriously. Too vindictive to die, he's seen to by their resident medic, and it's not as pleasant as it could be. If it could be pleasant at all.
Date February 27, 2009

The Happy Dagger: Logan's Office

This place is office by name only - there certainly isn't a desk in sight, let alone a filing cabinet. It's decorated almost the same as any other room in terms of colours and decadence, with quality thrown in for good measure. The walls are painted a dark red with warmer golden trimmings, and layers of chiffon surround and cover the one window in the room so that only the lights of the outside world make hazy spots on the rich fabric. Hung upon the walls are paintings, likely expensive ones, depicting erotic scenarios and characters.

A couple of couches provide areas of comfort, some conventional, others more of the old Greco-Roman style designed to recline in rather than sit, and a small round coffee table with elaborate patterns etched into the wood boasts a perhaps ornamental hookah, although it's clearly seen use. The wooden floor is mostly covered by a large zebra striped rug, soft on bare feet and kept immaculate. An antique teatray is pushed into the corner, and holds a stunning array of fine liquor and crystal glasses. Next to it, an antique writing desk, although there's no chair near it and doesn't seem to hold anything, although the locked drawers may have purpose.

Despite it being called an office, this room seems more to cater to luxury and relaxation than business, although business occurs here regularly. Just not as much as pleasure.


An alarm goes off. It is the kind that is so important that nobody actually hears it with their ears and absolutely none of the Happy Dagger's numerous evening patrons hear it at all; it is the kind so secret that everybody else within the walls knows about it. Makes the girls in the halls and on the dancefloor pause mid-gyrate, glance at each other, and the bouncers up front press their fingers to the earpieces plugged into their heads and straighten their ties. Their duties may be many, disparate, and specialized, but all of them have certain knowledge in common.

First of all, where John Logan's office is.

Second, that if Zhang Mu-Qian is bolting there fast as her heels can take her, that bodes poorly.

The door slams inward so hard that one of the nude prints comes rattling down from the crimson wall it was nailed to, with such violence that the paper inside the glass and wooden frame bucks, ripples, sends the nubile flesh depicted inside it into a sensual aftershock of movement, before the artwork summarily crashes to the floor, scatters shards and peeling pulp down over the carpet. It goes completely ignored. Both by the burly suit with his arm shoved out to the doorjamb to grant ingress, and to the woman who he grants ingress too.

"Zhenshi yige fengzhi," Mu-Qian snaps, hisses underneath her breath, her heels plugging dents into the carpet. She can see him, sprawled out on the floor below his desk in a tumble of limbs so artless it looks almost choreographed, some ghastly performance, as if he is waiting for a man to come with a chalk and finish the outline before he gets up. Her ear is on his mouth in a moment, slender thumbs prying his eyelids back to check dilation in one, or evidence of brain haemorrhage in the other.

"Eloni. Tell him to— " Her voice is high, strident, commanding the man who's bringing her her kit to hurry up bringing her her kit, but she isn't going to wait for that, casting about with wild, dark eyes in search of entry wounds, knives, a stray tazer, any physical explanation in the obscene luxury of the pimp's office.

Bad day. Bad week. Arguably a bad month. And tonight it shows, in the deeper pale of his skin, a sort of grey undertone underneath these dim lights that fail to bring any warmth at all. One eye, two eyes, and one of them is ruined beyond repair, showing blood red, leaked iris colours, a twist and unseeing pupil from an injuries not yet healed. Despite this unhealthiness, everything else about Logan is pretty much the same - fitted slacks, polished shoes, a cream, silky shirt open a button too much with stitching in the collar and cuffs that glitters a little under the lights. And nothing stained with blood, no murder weapons lying around, none that look like it.

A tall glass of icy, cold water rests hardly touched on his coffee table nearby the hookah, and beside that is a box of pain medication, the packaging likely familiar - the kind of drugs one can get from Filatov's. An ice bucket from his booze stash has also been dragged over, but no contents besides watery ice inside it. But footage will tell you, from the hidden glowing red eye of a nearby camera, that it had been an object he had gone for in a hurry, even if its purpose had not been executed. Dry retching, nausea that made sweat stand out on his skin, before it all went to black.

Shallow breathing will communicate that he's still alive, but utterly no response from the man indicates that this is a status quo that will last for much longer. No groan, no twitches of his eye, even she checks the injured one, all sprawling long limbs and innocent unconsciousness. Foot steps move heavy, at a hurry, outside his office, moving through the open door towards when Mu-Qian is situated, bringing her doctor's kit as urged. The Tongan security guard who'd sounded the alarm stands by the door, stoic concern written on his features, a quiet presence squeezed into a pinstripe suit.

Pills, glass of water, unresponsive coma patient, the situation adds up with almost mathematical clarity. Well, the unresponsive part she verifies by taking a moment to yell in Logan's ear and deliver a stinging slap to his right cheek, before pinching his jaw between forefinger and thumb and adding a healthy jostle to him. No. Whatever thin and struggling thread of life continues to inhabit this sack of meat, bone, and exorbitantly-priced clothing, it isn't going to respond audibly at a twang of her fingers.

Her orders are delivered sharply, concisely, ruthless but without cruelty. She explains what she needs on laymen's terms, even as she rips John's shirt open with a precise sweep of hard white fingers. Sends buttons popping out and rolling away like candy from a dispensing machine, exposing his belly, again to the press of her ear. It's fortunate, probably, that she chose a stud earring today. Droplet of luminous pearl. She gestures. Takes the tube from the man who holds it out to her, and waddles back along the edge of John's body to his head.

Lubrication is quick, as is the yank of powdered gloves. The tube goes into his mouth. Down, down, unravelled with precise hands, steered by a sharp eye and a grip on his throat, until she again refers to the reverberation of sound through the hollow of his belly. When she ascertains that the end has found his stomach, well.

Then comes the pump, and the lurid flow of slimey fluid, acid, food or alochol and — hopefully — pernicious medication hauled up by force of suction out of the column of his gastric system, esaphogus, and into the plastic bag that awaits at the end.

"He's going to be fine." It's sad, maybe, that not even the woman racing time to bring him back from the edge of death believes that anybody in his beautiful room is compelled principally by fear derived of affection to stand watch over him or stare at his misfortune. "Get them out. Kuai le." She points at the new hire in the new suit standing behind Eloni and the half-nude girl clinging to his sleeve for reassurance. Neither of them should see this, partly for morale's sake, and partly because she knows how these girls talk. It's the last thing Logan's enemies need hear about. They've already claimed one.

Victory.

Eloni is happy for the distraction given by the toketa, turning one big beefy shoulder to the contents of the office and holding up a hand to the other security guard, likely older than he is, this young man all of twenty-two, and the scantily clad young woman on his arm. A few murmurs, a warning, and the dreadlocked bodyguard shuts the door to them. This isn't good for business, Eloni knows this much. From the eye injury through to this, Logan lying corpse-like and undignified with the plastic tube feeding through his mouth, and gossip spreads like wildfire. Eloni can't help but wonder if perhaps it's time to move on. Eloni is one of the lucky ones - his loyalty is bought, not blackmailed or hooked into his soul by debt, dependency, guilt, whatever hooks Logan can find in people. For Eloni, it was money. And lots of people have money.

Things are getting too weird around here for comfort. Too many things penetrating this fortress. Eloni rests his back against the door and folds his arms, and watches with clinical concern and disturbed curiousity, waiting to see if Logan would die here tonight. It is unfortunate he didn't get a reference from the man before now.

"Do you need anything else?"

Likely Logan, objectively, would not appreciate this procedure, even if his life is his most valuable currency. Sprawled on zebra fur with a plastic tube worked all the way down into his stomach is not how he pictured dying, if he ever pictured such a thing. Likely something a little prettier. His body barely responds as Mu-Qian struggles to bring him back, save for involuntary reactions, muscles protesting the invasion of the tube, jaw relaxedly biting against it, hands relaxed with his palms staring up at the ceiling, eyes clamped shut.

Ironic, that he'd almost been convinced tonight to put a rather attractive silver revolver to his temple and end it that way. But that, too, would finish in an ugly mess. Maybe Logan will just stay immortal to escape the indignity of death.

There's nothing particularly dignified about life, either, Mu-Qian would point out in all fairness. Injury, particularly, but there's excretion, crying, tripping on physical obstacles, various gasses, feelings or their biochemical basis, and rancid saliva. Mu-Qian glances back at Eloni for a long moment, then up at the furniture, briefly considering moving the pimp to somewhere more comfortable, but that's more of a passing intellectual notion than anything compellingly borne of sympathy. She's a little short on that, the best of days, and the stress that's taken its toll on the upper echelelons of the Happy Dagger's associates.

"No," she decides, with a graceful flick of finger indicating the camera. "I'll call for you when there's something else."

There will be, inevitably. When John wakes up and wants to be carried about in a gilded litter or something unnecessarily creative, she doesn't know; spoilt boy that he is. The woman does not act further until Eloni has excused himself, content to watch the stream of biological fluid travel through the tube. Only when its empty does she begin to disengage it, locating a wad of gauze to sop up the stinky spillage and splash across the brat prince's cyanotically pallid lips.

There's a stain of new discoloration in the white of her pant leg. She ignores it, leans in, obstructing the nearest camera's line of sight with the slender corner of her shoulder. She closes one palm over John's stained mouth, her fingers curling into the pasty hollow of his right cheek, focuses. Nothing happens. Nothing seems to. Or, at least, not to the flickering frame-rate of the camera, but John would feel it, if he were capable of feeling at all.

It's a deeply, physically intimate feat, after all. The renewal of cells in the brain, liver, the riven ruin of an eyeball seaming shut, and the flesh of another human being walking itself down one's throat on a thousand psychic feet.

Afterward, she merely sits on her heels and waits, with all the patience and poise of a calla lily.

It's not quite the elegant waking of Sleeping Beauty. Mu-Qian would be right - being alive isn't so glamourous, nor is it painless. Quite the opposite. And when Logan comes to, he feels like shit run over by a truck, and the hacking coughs from his lungs could rival that of a plague patient. Dehydrated, headachey, sick to his stomach, the bizarre need to urinate, and a nauseatingly bitter taste left in his mouth, but hey… he's not dead.

With a whining groan, Logan curls onto his side, a hand gripping at the luxurious carpeting beneath him, eyes squeezed shut. Cough, cough, hack, groan. He quiets, finally, swallowing around a sore throat, and grimacing at that bitter taste of bile and that mysterious fluid Mu-Qian sent trailing through his body. His hand making claws into zebra fur doesn't lessen, tension making veins and tendons press up against his skin.

Eyes open, rapidly blinking, swivel up to look at Mu-Qian. "What happened," he asks, voice raw.

"You were poisoned," Mu-Qian says, offering the first and most important detail. And the one that would point his initial ire away from her, coincidentally. A pillbottle rattles between the dainty stones of her fingernails, clasped and held up for the man to see. The plastic receptacle rotates delicately, squaring the label into his view. "Did you drink before taking these?" she inquires, as if he looks like he's in any state to talk. "According to the prescription here, they don't shouldn't be the kind of medication that should have put you on your back from one adult dose."

According to the prescription. Her lips flatten out, thin. Her eyes flick up to his face, refraining from striking through those first five words she had prologued with. That's unimportant. Doesn't matter. You'd have to be far more foolish than either of them to think there wasn't something strange afoot here. "You almost died."

"Haven't been drinking," Logan says, his voice not much more than a voiceless croak. His head turns, presses his forehead against the soft zebra rug. That's why he had to wait for blessed, sedated sleep until now - drinking himself into a stupor the previous day is not a good combination. This was not the blessed sleep he'd been counting on, though. You almost died. A muffled, rasping chuckle from the pimp, a little pathetic sounding. "I feel terrible," he says, in earnest, appealing to her sensitive side, nonexistent as it may be.

And no one is helping him up and into a bed or something so convenient. Licking dry lips that don't taste any better than the inside of his mouth, Logan gets his legs and arms under himself, to get up, pulling his shirt closed when on his knees and seeking out buttons that aren't there anymore. Then, he stops, look down at his hands. Winks his left eye. Looks at her with pale green, both irises perfectly round, no blood, no nothing. "You fixed it," he says. He doesn't… sound happy.

Well, he could try a little harder and sound happy, but Mu-Qian isn't going to throw her hands up and complain; after all, she had to spend the last few days sounding happy because he wanted to strut around with a gigantic hole in his eyeball. "You're welcome," she says, kindly, sliding her fingers down his arm once, conciliatory. "You'll feel better soon. I promise." Her legs are beginning to stiffen, crouched in this configuration here. The discomfort drives her to her feet, finally, a slight tottering on the ivory platform shoes that keep her four inches above her true height.

She waves a hand at the camera once, calls over her shoulder. "Eloni." And then thinks it, the next moment, casting the request out there on the better than slim chance that the telepathic conduit is receptive. Please help John to his couch. Bracing her weight on the desk's edge, she favors one leg slightly. Murmurs, "I hope you have a plan."

Of course he doesn't have a plan. She spares him the further indignity of suffering an outward grimace.

The door creaks open, the familiar frame of Eloni's presence filling it for a moment before the younger man makes his way in, eyebrows raised in some surprise to see Logan up and conscious. Well, conscious, he still kneels on the floor as if that's as far as he's willing to go. "You alright, sir?" he murmurs, and only gets a grunt and an extended hand in response. Lending his boss his strength, Eloni redirects Logan towards the divan, the Englishman draping down onto it gratefully, rolling onto his back and letting an arm flop across his eyes for the moment.

It's better this way. When the nausea passes, Logan will be glad to have his eye back, to not have to suffer through the blurriness and darkness, or the too-exotic addition of an eyepatch, for one thing. For now, the idea is deeply sickening, that her ability sunk so far into his body as to cure the poison's work, to heal an eyeball. Invasive, powerful, a kind of domination that makes his world tip a little to think about. Illogical at best. He wants two eyes.

Perhaps this is a better claim than letting Abby's mark remain, all things considered. "Thank you," he finally mutters out, too late, arm moving so he can look at her as he says it, extending a hand for no real reason other than to touch, should she take it. Seeking comfort from the white-clad woman. "It was the girl. In the clinic. It had to be. Constantine isn't this stupid."

She knows this part. The intertwining of hands, fingers, some creature comfort which is supposed to have its efficacy hard-coded in the biology of the human brain. Well, John's hands are dry, at least. She unsnaps the latex gloves and discards them into the wastebasket beside the couch, lays her palm against his. Her hands are soft, as if her flesh were marzipan sculpted around filigree bones. His logic isn't too bad. It had alarmed both he and Muldoon months ago, when they discovered that their main healer's ability went a little further than mere physiological repairs.

Much to Abigail's misfortune. Difficult shoes to fill, for a girl who preferred modest and comfortable flats. "Constantine is stupid enough to hire a girl as audacious as Miss Eileen is," Mu-Qian muses.

She is perched now on a chair, pulled over by the bouncer with a monosyllable request that ended in please and was followed by Thank you. Her mother had taught her a few things about ingratitude. She's solicitous now, as a nurse is wont to be. The yellow bottle rattles like a box of candy in Mu-Qian's hand. She tsks once. "Zhen daomei. Well, easy enough to find out. Who brought you the pills?"

No nudging of chemical reaction, not yet. Logan possibly too resentful of his own plight to make others feel happy when it's such a war to help himself in that regard, or perhaps too nauseous, too sore in general to really work his ability efficiently. He contents himself with sliding his fingers between her daintier ones, body jerking a little as his throat tickles, forces him to cough, at the feel of remaining droplets of fluid clinging to the back of his mouth. He feels woefully unclean and sickly, but the energy to do something about it escapes him at this particular point in time.

"Bebe," he says, now turning on his side to face Mu-Qian, an arm folding under his head, the other hand still tangled with her's. Both she and Bebe are live ins, she must know to whom he refers. The littlest whore, working off her man's debt. "I sent her to get me something to help me sleep. How much more simple could that possibly be?" His voice is gaining a little more of his usual accented, smoother tones, but the scratchy croak is ever present.

Poor cub. Poor, poor cub, and his velvet socks and little feet. Mu-Qian squeezes his mitts, rubs heat through his skin and into the splay of metacarpi, makes noises of commiseration, rising and falling with melody inherent to Mandarin, a drawn-out monosyllable. Mmmm. Tsk-tsk. She can imagine how much that hurts. She's had excrutiating hangovers before, to punctuate incredibly bad weeks.

"Bebe," she repeats. All right. She does remember: small, heart-shaped face, pale skin, natural brunette, hair yay short; not terribly bright, but sweet as hard candy and, apparently, just as easily if indirectly associated with bad health. "I will ask Bebe.

"Muldoon is a businessman. Would he prefer to negotiate?" The Englishman know each other better than the woman from the Orient knows either of them. She sits back in her seat slightly, studying the problem the way she holds his cold hand, as intimate as pathological depersonalization and three decades of carefully maintained subterfuge will let her. She isn't Eloni, whose only real stake in the Happy Dagger and Pancratium's success is salary and convenience, but nor is she the target of poisoning. It's not so fine a line to walk. Not yet.

From gasping and disoriented to almost purring like a contented cat under the attention he's receiving, but not quite. There's only so much stroking and cooing someone can do to ease a troubled mind, and Logan has had a particularly trying day. Bitterness acts as a stagnant puddle at the bottom of his consciousness, making his gaze dull and his mouth pull into a frown, hand loose in hers as she rubs her fingers over his palm in a gentle, comforting massage.

"Negotiate?" he says, gaze flicking up to meet her eyes, without otherwise moving. "What's there to negotiate? What are the terms, exactly? Don't get me wrong," pause to cough, making his voice no less raw, "I'd love to make all this Muldoon's problem."

"Giving her back," Mu-Qian replies, with philisophical grace that would seem, perhaps, a little too distant for all its abstract intellectualism were it not for her voice, carefully restrained to a low note. She leans on the arm of the couch with an arm of her own, languid, the heel of one palm resting on her temple. She'd put her hair up today; the few strands that escape dangle over her indoors complexion and the cut of her cheekbones, tendriling commensurately slender shadows against them. "If it doesn't infuriate your pride.

"Or giving them Muldoon." She isn't laughing at him, not exactly. Not nearly. Her thumb rubs over his knuckles, soothing, repetitive, though not thoughtful. After a moment, her other five fingers drop away from her sculpted brow and down his. "What terms do you prefer?" Neither, she expects. These boys; muleishly stubborn at the first sign of sacrifice that isn't scrawled in their own vomit.

Giving her back. This translates to losing, in a sense, and it can't be said that Logan doesn't have a vindictive streak. He is a vindictive streak. Jaw clenches, eye contact is lost as he petulantly throws his gaze away from her's, and then the suggestion to sell out his business partner. For a moment, the notion captures his interest - throw him to the wolves at the door and slam it shut. Cut his ties to the fight club business.

But blood attracts more dangerous predators, and Muldoon's connections intertwine so uncomfortably closely with his. Spread out further, too, into the world of the lawful. Dangerous. The sharply attentive look he gets at this brand new idea fades once more, but eye contact regain when she asks him that question. "The ones wherein they leave me alone," he says, simply. "I guess it'll take finding out what they want, won't it, besides my blood and a pound of flesh."

Tastes of bitter defeat. Mu-Qian's hand is let go, dismissively, and he rolls on his back, letting his shirt hang shamelessly loose. She only has herself to blame for that, anyway, and it's his office, treated as freely as his own bedroom. An arm finds its way back over his eyes. "I'll talk to Muldoon. Perhaps he can throw money at them or something."

Mu-Qian might have spoken out of turn, there, but she's older than the younger of the Englishmen and not nearly so deeply invested in the Rookery as the other is. Still, she's not without her pride and sensibilities. My blood and a pound of flesh. How easily he discards those words!

Her fingers curl. The ones on his face.

For an instant, the lacquered tips are poised on the pinnacle of anticipation between tearing through meat and a fragile tickling resting state, just above the edge of the eye that she had repaired for him. Her face floats in his flat and blurred peripheral, as steady and serene as a rock candy moon, her face held in careful non-expression, her breath still as gentle as the herbal and floral scents that permeate it, the insides of her wrists, and the drycleaning of her permanently white wardrobe.

The next, she's standing up, pulled away, relieving him of the warmth of skin contact and fabric softer than a lamb's kiss. "She thanks God for her gift," she remarks, just as dismissively, without turning back to dignify these well-worn notions with a gaze. She steps over the tube and discarded bag of his stomach contents, a translucent shade of orange that holds countless air bubbles frozen in its dense, syrupy consistency.

"You could take those from her. Either of them. And see if her friends still feel what is left is worth dying for."

Logan pauses the moment Mu-Qian does. Pause what, exactly, is unclear, train of thought derailing a little at the odd touch of her fingernails against his skin, light like spider's feet, until she's moving away. He rests his hand on his chest as he watches her move on, gaze rather squarely fixated on the shape of her ass under the gentle fabric of her pants, and then down towards the tube and the bag of— contents. Mood killer. Logan wrinkles his nose, hand raising from his chest to rub his face wearily, looking up at the ceiling instead.

"Maybe not dying over," Logan agrees. "But killing over, perhaps, no matter how little is left." Perhaps the first insightful thing he's said in days. He manages to get it out before the room is cleared, even.

"You drew first blood," she points out, reaching up behind her head. She wrenches a clip out of the dyed-auburn coil, sends it into a strandy dervish of movement before it stops with a glossy thump at her back, shaken loose, to follow the ripple of her stride. If she senses the man looking — and wouldn't she? She is, after all, a beautiful woman — it fails to perturb her. Even if he is in an utterly disgusting state, and his penis really ought to drop a gallon of urine before he makes overtures of virility.

The pill bottle is snug in her right hip pocket, visible when she does half-turn, finally. "Maybe that means you're closer to spilling the last drop. It's possible, dui ba?

"How could Abigail Beauchamp have more friends than you?" Her eyes go slightly crescent shaped with a smile that started at her mouth. She takes her kit up in her hands, buckles the large strap, leaving only the bag of gastric waste lying in its sac on the floor. Shouldering the bag, she breaks her hairclip into halves between a forefinger and thumb. Crack. Thumbing the two snapped-short halves, she conceals them in the fold of her palm.

A man can dream. He can at least look, even if physically incapable of doing anything about it, takes his mind off his own discomfort like the increasing need to use the bathroom coupled with the nausea happily twisting knots low in his gut. Nnnext time. Logan doesn't look back over at her, eyes drifting shut. Her words draw a bitter smile. How could the lovely Southern healer godfearing sweet-as-cherry-pie blonde have more friends than the tyrannical sociopathic childishly cruel brothel owner currently stewing in both his own misery and smell of sickness?

Without irony, he says, "Good point."

Little king and his little hill. It could be worse. He didn't roll down its side and land in a heaped corpse at the bottom tonight.

Mu-Qian's eyes flit past the Brill painting as she crosses the room. The bag creaks under her arm. "You know who to call if you need anything else," she says, gentle without managing to pass for humble. The door unlocks with a noise too quiet to hear from across the floor and the thunder of Logan's pulse in his own ears. "Wan an." He's heard those two syllables of Mandarin a few times before. Good night. It seems safe to assume, in the quiet company of crystal and hybrid silk, that it can only get better from here, doesn't it?

Though, it's true: according to the wall clock, dawn is soon yet.


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February 27th: Surrealism
Previously in this storyline…
Method to Madness

Next in this storyline…
Lassie Rides Again

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February 27th: Mutual Favors And Inquiries
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