A Fair Idea


caliban_icon.gif logan_icon.gif

Scene Title A Fair Idea
Synopsis Logan reveals what he knows of one possible future and sets plans in motion.
Date September 13, 2010

Linderman Building: Caliban's Office

Logan isn't sure if Kain would want him to be here, and isn't sure if he'd feel either way about it. Allegiances have always been barely tangible things, and theirs is one built on implication and the Cajun's apparent ability to trust him and demand the same in return. Standing alone in the elevator as it rises up through the multiple levels of the Linderman building, cruising as slickly as something more organic than mechanics and cord, studying the light show of the passing numbers, this is what Logan meditates on with enough intent to draw a line in his otherwise smooth brow. It would be easier, he reflects, had he been blindsided. Knowingly playing all sides doesn't so much as weigh on his conscience as it does simply make him a little paranoid.


Stepping out into what is a vaguely familiar foyer, Logan jangles his keys to collect up a keycard between fingers, swipe it through a lock whose flashing red light stays steady, the faint thud of the mechanism giving before he's shouldering on through. When it comes to this end of the Group's spectrum, he doesn't fit in, and though there isn't a cheetah spot or a zebra stripe in sight, his three-piece suit is pretensious, polkerdot ascot frivolous. A gloomy New York Cityscape touches its clouds low down on skyscrapers, snagging his attention briefly as he goes.

But he doesn't ultimately stop until he reaches Robert Caliban's door, cracked open as if in invitation, although Logan didn't so much as request that much as he did check to see what the man's calendar looked like. He does knock, a sharp one two rap of knuckles to door, a glance over his shoulder, before easing inside.

He's on the phone. Or was. Caliban eases the receiver back onto the cradle and, stooped across his desk, lifts his chin when he hears the brisk crackle of Logan's knuckles coming into abrupt contact with the door frame. His business suit is contrasting shades of gray, including a pale dress shirt, charcoal tie and jacket several shades darker — almost black. The fact that it isn't is a detail only someone with an eye like Logan's might recognize. He gathers the papers spread across his desk, including one sheet with a black-and-white photograph of himself attached using a paperclip, and shuffles them back into the appropriate folder, which he then spins between his fingers and slips into a drawer after squeaking open.

When it shuts again, there's the sound of a key turning in a lock, followed by jangling metal. He slips it into his jacket pocket. "John," he says, in the same tone that another person would try hello. "You caught me just as I was leaving." Straightening, he adjusts his tie and moves to step around his desk, but does not yet make for the open door. Wherever his next appointment is, there's enough time between now and whenever it is he's expected to be there that he feels comfortable lingering in the office for a few minutes longer.

There's an empty bottle of scotch on the desk. Also: an equally empty glass. "What can I help you with?"

The open door is shut again, levered so by Logan pressing his back against it in a briefly dramatic gesture, the seriousness of which undercut by a brief smile that doesn't last very long. He also doesn't yet move from this position, making it casual in increased weight against the closed door and the hook of an ankle over the other, thumbs digging into the pockets of his slacks as he casts a glance from emptied scotch bottle, then back to Robert. "You can help me by listening," he says, once sufficient time to have passed for that pause to be awkward and uncomfortable, although Logan remains oblivious.

"And then talking afterwards. It's important." At the very least, it doesn't seem to be the kind of subject that would wind up with Logan attacking the man, a different kind of tension winding his words than the faux-pleasantries with which he'd disguised it the last most notable time he'd had to confront Caliban over a thing. The venue doesn't matter, as long as there are four walls and a closeable door.

Caliban takes a seat on the edge of his desk, one leg folded beneath him and the other touching the toe of one polished leather loafer to the office's floor. He crosses his arms, hands at his elbows, and exhales through his nose with enough force that the sound is audible, heavy and rasping. Doesn't tell Logan that he is. Listening. His blue eyes are sharp, his gaze attentive and his mouth flat: these are signs enough.

Outside, on the window at his back, moisture beads on the glass — the last vestiges of last night's drizzling rain. Slightly overcast skies and mild temperatures have allowed it to remain, but a few more hours and the sun will break through the clouds, evaporating it away. Logan can see the steady crawl of traffic creeping through the streets below, but this office is soundproof. The only noises that fill it are the sounds of their breathing, and the occasional rustle of fabric when one of them moves.

Linderman seems like the kind of employer that might well bug the offices of even his most trusted employees (or especially his most trusted employees), but as soon as Logan thinks of it, the thought is banished again, dismissed as either paranoid or too much trouble to bother with. Fuck it. Life is already hard enough. "You'll probably know the half of it," he dismisses, taking his weight off the door in a restless shift away from it, wingtip heel scuffing along the carpeted floor of the office. "All the arrests they're making. Nicole had a chat with the man himself, got a bit big girl's blouse about the whole thing.

"I wanted you to know that Zarek saw it coming. It was painted about, prophetically. During the big winter." So it's been a while. "So I think he's seeing it as an opportunity and figured to drag me along for the ride. Probably because I'm not loyal enough to the Group to go down with it if given the choice." A shrug communicates that Zarek intuited correctly.

Had also intuited correctly when he'd felt moved to tell Logan don't screw it up. "He's been getting all his chess pieces in line and I thought it might be worth my doing the same. I can work for Danny Linderman but like fuck am I going to work for Kain Zarek, know what I mean."

There. Logan takes a breath that's more like a gulp, narrows his gaze on Caliban to gauge how this is panning out, to see what is new information — and what isn't.

A fractional narrowing of Caliban's watery blues doesn't tell Logan anything, but his expression is that of a man whose suspicions have been confirmed. He's silent for a very long time after the other man has finished, and as his head lowers and he glances down at the floor, he raises a hand from his elbow to scratch the tips of his fingers along the curve of his jaw, tickling his beard. When he eases off the desk, it's to pace away several feet and stand by the office window looking out over the Financial District and the sickly pale beams of sunlight poking white fingers through the bruised clouds above. His attention, however, is on Logan's reflection rather than what he can see from his six-digit salary view.

He taps his fingers against the glass, producing a hollow sound unlike anything else. "Do you have a copy of the painting?" is the first question he has for Logan. It's immediately followed by, "And if you don't, can you get one?"

A hand comes up to loosen the silk at his throat, Logan's discomfort perhaps more to do with the humidity of the day than the actual topic at hand, although his green eyes remain set on Caliban's back, a brief glance meeting gazes through the opaque reflection of his window, but it's not a stare Logan holds for more than a few seconds. The hesitation is clear and guilty, but it keels over, unsustainable, by the time Logan is opening his mouth again. "Kain left a copy with me," he says, clearing his throat. He defines it that way, frames it, so that Caliban knows exactly the circumstance Logan finds himself within, which is, stiflingly so, trusted.

"Done by that Roderick. One of the Group's own, if you can imagine that. I suppose you'd like to take a look."

"I would." Caliban turns his head to regard Logan's shadow in his periphery. "I have access to the organization's financial assets," he says. "If you have evidence that Zarek is making a bid for power, I can draft up documents. Wrest the old man's worth from him before they can sink their claws it, but such a gesture would ultimately be futile if I don't know who we can afford to trust."

In other words: he wouldn't just like to take a look. He needs to, or so he claims. "Burlesque is safe," he feels compelled to tell Logan, "regardless. It's in your name. I can transfer ownership of some of the other local businesses to you as well. Some of our foreign holdings, if you're feeling daring. The only problem lies with the timing — move too soon and Zarek will see what we're doing. Worse: Linderman. If we wait too long, we risk someone else snapping them up.

"How long do you imagine we have?"

Logan's palms rub together as if to warm themselves, slow gestures of thoughtful fidgeting, pale gaze dropping from Caliban. Shiny white scars make punctuation over the backs of two fingers on his right hand, though it remains the only evidence that those digits had ever been snapped. He hadn't gotten to see the taptap of razor to bone when it had jutted out from thin, broken skin, but oh, had he felt it. "Not long," he finally says, minutely unhelpful, but these things don't have a very solid timeframe. "Kain's making nice with Gideon D'Sarthe, and he's been putting a heavier hand on his relations with the Ghost Shadows. He looked into picking up a known armsdealer — he's networking. I think in preparation.

"We both have," he admits, wandering into the office a few steps, and chancing a smile at the older man. "I can protect money — that's where my concern was lying. I dunno who else in the Group actually knows anything — Kain, me. Nicole. You." He snorts softly, and adds, "And I suppose, in his own way, Daniel's got a fair idea."

"That may be," Caliban concedes. Hesitation, then. An unspoken but. "He's not been the same since Zoe." Logan's smile, although acknowledged, goes unreturned. "I'll start drawing things up tomorrow. You're right — what we can't use, we can sell. Money is easier to move than deeds are, and what you don't want in your accounts we can keep in cash."

He turns, crosses back to the desk and picks up both the empty glass and bottle of scotch. The former he turns in his hand, fingers curling around the ornate crystal. "Or other valuables." Brisk footsteps carry him to the liquor cabinet, and he fishes the keys from his jacket pocket again, this time to open the cabinet's doors. "There's something I'll need you to do for me in exchange," he says, replacing the bottle and glass. "A favour. All it's going to cost you is some of your time."

"I know some good fences," Logan inputs, just shy off eagerly, entirely missing that request for favour for the first few moments. "And I was thinking it would do well to convert a little money into Refrain before we lose those contacts completely, the producers. Other shit that's not easy to convert but keeps its value. Wouldn't be surprised if Zarek's already started with his arms dealing." His glance passes by Caliban to inspect the contents of liquor cabinet with greedy interest and/or gossipy focus, but derails him enough to bring him back on the other set of correct tracks, and he considers, for a few seconds, the going rate for time.

Oh if he only knew what a commodity that was lately. "What is it?"

"If it becomes necessary," Caliban says in a careful tone that puts extra emphasis on the if without too much force behind it, "I'd like you and Kelly to visit an associate of mine in Las Vegas. I haven't any more information for you than that, not yet, but I will once I develop a better feel for the direction we're moving in." The cabinet's doors shut again. Once more, the key turns, clicks the lock back into place and is discarded in his pocket. "I'll leave the Refrain to you. What properties we decide to keep, you'll leave to me.

"It's not too late," he adds, "to leave the country. Even Zarek will have difficulty tapping into the group's overseas investments. Bangkok, Cabo San Lucas, Marseille — there's no reason you should stay in New York unless you intend to profit from Zarek's mistakes. Not that I'd fault you if you do. Acting in error, after all, is one of the things he does best."

There's hesitation, at least — a pause implies thought, Logan weighing up his chances of survival as a littler fish in a bigger pond, and in the end, all he has is a noncommittal nod of consideration. "I won't say no to Vegas," he adds, because he rarely ever does, and that hook of intrigue found an easy place to lodge once Caliban has expertly flung it. "I'll see of Kelly's good for it, or if she'd sooner take the money I owe her from my hide instead've coin and further errands, but." But. Kelly's a lady and Logan even put it in her once. It's all downhill with ease from there.

"I'll be sure to brush up on my business with the Ghost Shadows too. I reckon d'Sarthe's a lost cause — if Kain brought 'im here himself, I wouldn't be shocked." Something of a half-lie, finally, confirming to himself that he truly is hedging his bets. Dangerous game. But better than doing nothing. "You can come see the painting. Don't take it the wrong way, but 'm not gonna make copies or lose track of it."

"Certainly." It's an easy point to agree to, and Caliban has no reservations when it comes to dismissing Logan's concerns with three simple syllables. He makes a swift gesture with his head for Logan to accompany him as he abandons the liquor cabinet in favour of the office door and the hallway beyond. "Make no mistake: D'Sarthe is a threat. Zarek's wrong if he thinks he can make an ally of an enemy. He's got no reason to keep him around once Linderman's gone — he's a liability, and with his track record he'll have more trouble convincing D'Sarthe otherwise than we will with our arrangements. Still—

"He has that daughter, hasn't he?"

There is a wary pause, but ultimately, Logan follows, a glance back to the space of the office, it's epic view of a ruined city. Pushing his hands into his pockets like any slouchy adolescent despite the decadently expensive labels he's wearing, he tags along at Caliban's heels and lets his mouth curl into a smirk at that query. "Marie," he supplies, with a certain luxury in his voice that implies he's acquainted. On some level. Probably, if he's fucked her already, he'd be halfway to spilling the sordid details whether Robert wanted him to or not. Thus, the older man can probably assume that John is several steps behind this goal, if it happens to be one. It usually is.

"Marie," Caliban repeats, as if speaking the name for the first time. He probably isn't.

He of course isn't. "I don't expect Zarek to catch on. D'Sarthe might. If he does, we're going to need a bargaining chip that isn't what we're stuffing into our pockets. She's vulnerable: use that. There's a gala scheduled for the twenty-fourth — she'll be there, her father will be there. See if you can't figure out how loyal she really is to daddy." He exits the office, steps out into the hall and pauses in the shadow of the doorway, a long glance in both directions. Seeing no one, not even one of the security guards making his rounds, he makes room for Logan to follow. "Your ability might be able to procure a miracle or two."

"I've laid down some of the foundations. It shouldn't be the most difficult task in the world." Out into the foyer, Logan spills out of the office and flows on towards the elevators, though turns on a heel to face Caliban all the same, is shoulders loose beneath the formal lines of his jacket and waistcoat, chin up to show neck above the tie of his ascot. In contrast to his almost anxious demeanor with which he'd entered, there's a bordering on mischievous glint in pale eyes, a crooked smile that goes along with, "Think Linderman would want it this way?"

"No." Caliban punctuates his answer with the snap of his office door swinging shut behind them. This time, he does not have to retrieve the keys from his jacket pocket — it locks on its own. "But he's not got much of a choice. Neither do we."

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