A Hand Down


eileen3_icon.gif logan_icon.gif

Scene Title A Hand Down
Synopsis Eileen takes the time to heal. Logan helps, if not selflessly.
Date June 3, 2009

The Happy Dagger: Basement Tenements

It's a bedroom, for all intents and purposes. There's even a window, although it's high up on the wall, and barred with grill and glass. Should someone peek, they'll only see dirty alley way and the flat, nondescript backdrop of a separate building beyond that. The room itself is bleak, if comfortable. The walls are cement and unpainted, the floor cheaply carpeted and the bed adequately dressed, a single thing pushed into the corner of the room. An empty book case gapes from the opposite wall, and a heavy oak trunk, something of an antique and actual worth, rests next to it, previously empty but now filled with at least most of the room occupant's belongings.

Two doors after that, one that stays locked and leads to out, wherever out is, and the other torn off its hinges to reveal a very basic, slightly rundown bathroom. But it works, hot water running at will, a working toilet, partially cracked mirror moderately clean, and towels and bare necessities provided.

It's designed for existing. But not much more than that.

A washcloth made from sisal, a bottle of iodine, a first aid kit and bucket of lukewarm water courtesy of Eloni: these are the tools that Eileen has readily available for self-treatment in the basement tenement where Logan has sequestered her until a time when she can rise from the bed under her own power, mount the stairs and climb her way out of his life. If her silent complacency during the past few days is any indication, she trusts the Dagger's proprietor not to renege on his end of their bargain, because while John is a lot of things, including a thief and a monster, he is at least — for the most part — an honest monster as long as the arrangements he makes continue to benefit him.

Dark hair, still damp from a recent shower, contrasts with the pale skin it's plastered to and forms interesting patterns on her curving neck, shoulders and the feline arc of her spine. Pinched between two fingers is a small needle, no longer than two inches, threaded with a long black string of indeterminate origin. Eileen has done this hundreds of times before, mostly for her Vanguard brethren, but suturing her own wounds after cleaning them provides her with a unique challenge she hasn't yet been able to master—

— which might be why, veiled behind dewy lashes, she's slanted a beseeching look in her company's direction and is waiting for a response.

To say that the study Eileen is under is in anyway predatory is an exaggeration. Logan could be counted as such, depending on who you are, but his casual posture and blank expression holds nothing inherently dangerous. No, what lends itself to this comparison would be the fact his eyes have gone bright green since he entered the room, catching light that isn't there, and remained that way with less more effort then a finger being curled.

Not entirely the come hither, however, that the other facets of his ability allow for. No, this one is simple, a wet cloth over the fire of Eileen's constantly burning ability. He's done it before. This.

He leans against the wall towards a shadowed corner within a room that's seen a lot of things, dressed as only cane be expected save for the addition of a walking stick, not nearly as ostentatious as the heavy wolf-headed thing stolen from him by a crazy Italian. It scrapes the concrete ground a little as he takes a step forward.

"We have a healer."

His tone is neutral, neither offer nor taunt of what Eileen isn't getting, putting the information out there and seeing what comes of it. Not that Logan isn't finding the looping of thread through pinched skin a strange kind of fascinating, his pale hands coming to rest on the curving head of the cane as he studies her.

"I know." Apart from a slight hitch in Eileen's breathing when the needle pierces the skin and slides smoothly through it, everything about her — from her voice's quiet inflection to the fluid movements of her fingers and hands — is steady. She's a different individual than the wild-eyed thing that attempted to put and end to them both a few nights ago; Logan's presence lends her clarity of mind and body, allowing her to work with the sort of grace and precision she hasn't possessed since she worked for Dr. Constantine Filatov in his clinic a few blocks away.

She's feeling more like herself than she has in weeks. Months.

"Unless she's available now," she says, "I'm going to need your help with this. The stitching isn't something that can wait." For someone who has fallen under such luminous scrutiny, Eileen is doing an admirable job of holding Logan's gaze. Keeping the fear from her eyes, which are a much less vivid shade of green, is painless in comparison — while an underlying tension in her body's limber frame betrays some physical discomfort and indicates she may not be as comfortable in his presence as she initially appears, she remains largely unafraid. "Please."

Both of them are far more calm. There is little of the cornered animal Logan had become when given the upperhand, in the shadows of his cluttered, shabby apartment, reminiscent of the stripes he'd worn. Right now, the charcoal dark pinstripe suit and navy shirt shirt are sedate choices, much like his demeanor, the flashier white silk tie abandoned somewhere in his office, shirt buttoned down enough to reveal more of the long column of his throat, the shirt cuffs like dark wings of affectation at his wrists. The fabric rustles as he contemplatively takes a few more wandering paces forward, shined shoes squeaking with the movement. His steps are uneven in weight distribution, but smooth in movement.

"Pretty girl like you, getting into such trouble." The walking stick is placed aside. "I wouldn't have believed it. But I know better."

The bed's thin mattress and aging frame creaks as Logan settles himself upon the edge of it. No change in scent - wine, smoke, incense, all sweet on their own and acrid in combination, much like the clutter and confusion of the decor. Not down here, though, the life choked out of the basement in favour of the vibrant topside of the brothel. "What do you want me to do?" Logan asks, gamely.

Drop dead, would have been the appropriate response once upon a time. Instead, Eileen offers Logan a small smile that, while genuine, is also without even a freckle of humour. "Sew," she says, snapping off the thread with a deft flick of her wrist so they can start anew further along the wound that spans from one side of her milky belly to the other, half-stitched. A combination of the washcloth and the bucket of water, which is now tinged pink as though someone dripped a teardrop's worth of food colouring into it, ensures that no blood seeps from the injury — apart from the iodine's disinfecting orange stain, her skin is clean. He needn't worry about ruining his clothes today.

"You start as far away from the cut as it is deep, and it isn't very," she explains as she removes more thread from the spool and loops it through the eye of the needle, focusing on the task at hand rather than the man seated beside her. "Try the width of your finger. I managed well enough with my leg and shoulder with the angle all wrong, so you shouldn't cock it up anymore than I already have." Eileen ties the knot, gives it a swift jerk for good measure, then offers the needle to Logan, squeezing the point between forefinger and thumb.

"You've really never had to do this for anyone before?"

Logan buttons the loose shirt sleeves, folding them into far less dandy-like cuffs about the wrists as she speaks, glancing towards her with that continual glow of green, from her face, down to her hands, down to the ragged grimace of the wound's mouth being sewed shut. He takes the needle, and lets it turn between pinched fingers.

"No. Do you think this is normal?"

There's some hesitation, not so much out of squeamishness— he can't really afford to be, although this is a little different than simple damage. Far more calculated, even more so than when he'd deftly removed an eye from a man's skull with so much wrist flicking and blood-spatter. Shifting to slide along the bed, to find a better angle, before eventually Logan's fingertips seek out purchase to pinch skin, to run through with the silver sliver of the needle. His voice comes out distracted, although his eyes are still carefully vibrant. "We do have to make do out here, but no. I'm a virgin, I suppose. Seen plenty of injury, though."

Eileen's hand finds Logan's shoulder, steadying herself against the lean T that comprises his upper body and leads down into his chest, midsection, hips. Her grip, though firm, does not bite into his collarbone, pressing down with surprising gentleness for someone who has tried to kill him twice and come close enough to succeeding for it to almost count. "Then consider this a learning experience," she says, visibly flinching when she feels the needle pucker skin and glide through muscle. Elias once told her that the stomach is one of the most painful places someone can be shot — receiving sutures isn't much more pleasant.

"The more you know how to do, the less you have to rely on other people." This is logic Eileen imagines Logan can understand, stated in its simplest terms. "Maybe not normal for you. Normal for me. I don't— " There's a slight rise in her voice as it spikes momentarily upward, caught between speaking and a sharp hiss of pain rasped out through clenched teeth. Still, no blood flows. "I don't have any formal training, but like you said. Out here, we make— we make do. Careful."

"Being careful," Logan says, with a hint of bite in his voice, keeping his eyes, for what it's worth, trained down on his work. And telling the truth, if no amount of carefulness can truly make up for inexperience, slippery skin and his own callous nature towards the pain of others. The needle slides through, movements almost elegant, if fidgety when it comes to each poke of the needle.

It pulls at one point, but he has the presence of mind to fix it. At the hiss, the sharpness of her voice in reaction to his work, he finally spares a glance up to her face, smug in the way he might have looked at her for achieving a similar, if differently executed sound. "I'd make this feel good for you," he says, "but I fear, my dear, that doing so would mean I'd end up a bloodier mess than you."

"You've done enough of that already, thank you." It's the closest thing to a compliment that Logan is going to get from Eileen, and even then the words are spoken tersely. Her grip on his shoulder tightens some, either in response to his work or the offhanded comment that accompanies it — it's difficult to tell.

His glance at her face, on the other hand, is met with solemn study, the expressive arch of her brows curving into something a little more conspicious and decisive. Indignation brightens her gaze, eyes moving from Logan's mouth to his hands and the needle he maneuvers with such artificial fastidiousness before drifting back up again.

"Stop that," she grouses, tone softer than it was a few moments ago but nonetheless laced with pique. "You look like a fox with a mouthful of feathers."

The thread glistens each time it's drawn out, small surprisingly neat stitches slowly forming along the gash, a little faster as he learns but not by much. The closest thing he gets to laughter at her comment is a soft snort and a crook of a smirk. "I'm distracting you from the pain," Logan says, voice coy and syruped in sincerity that comes from somewhere. Certainly not the heart.

"But if you prefer— "

It's not a yank, by any means, this work too fine for anything brash, but a spike of pain rivers up the half-closed wound by one careful finger twitch, the needle already piercing skin before she can do much to protest.

And protest she does; her first instinct is to pull away, the second is to box his ears, yet Eileen does neither. Logan's efforts are rewarded with an abrupt intake of breath and an increase of pressure on his shoulder as she squeezes down, wrenching the fabric of his suit jacket between her fingers. "Just," she seethes, "go back to what you were doing before."

In other words: No. She doesn't prefer. Her free hand places itself on the knee opposite his grasped shoulder, which under different circumstances might produce a different effect entirely — but as long as Logan keeps her ability encircled in the coils belonging to his, he's under no real threat except mild physical discomfort when she eases her weight onto him.

Eileen knows better than to bite the hand that feeds. "Incorrigible."

Logan's shoulder shifts in an irritated gesture, an attempt at knocking aside the grip there ruining expensive fabric, hands still before resuming, careful as she'd previously requested. Leg twitches but nothing more than that beneath her touch. "Been called worse than that," he says, without particular bitterness. "But does this surprise you?" A glowing green glance to her face, brows arching a little. One shoulder lifts, head tilting again as cobweb thread closes disinfected skin.

No need to clarify, or at least, he sees no reason. The tip of his tongue touches the corner of his mouth in a gesture of concentration, before he's asking, "What on earth did you do to yourself, anyway?" Right on time, his accent is starting to decay back to the usual Cockney, casual and quiet as if they were talking like friends after all.

"This can't just be your power. It makes what's happened before happen again, doesn't it."

"Reopens old wounds, aggravates forgotten injuries, inflames scars, bruises— There's a trick to it I haven't figured out yet. To turn it off. Make it stop." Eileen lacks the finer control that Logan himself is exhibiting even as they speak, and if he listens carefully he may detect a note of what might be jealousy when she speaks next. "I touch people and I turn them inside out," she says. "Bleeding all the time — it's no way to live."

A succinct explanation, at least for the moment, is all that she seems willing to divulge. Although the distance has narrowed and Eileen's body is leaning against Logan's for support, there's a distinct absence of trust a between them, rightfully so — a yawning gap in spite of the bridge formed by her hands on his shoulder and knee.

There are a lot of things she might tell him. There are even more that she won't. "Where in London are you from?"

While the fox certainly doesn't have his mouth full of feathers, there's always the possibility, and foxes notoriously can't be trusted. He pauses, a moment, drops the needle to let it hang from cobweb warm against her stomach, taking the moment to roll his wrist, some, stretch his fingers from the tension of fine work. Almost done. Logan looks back at her again, and gives a smile that shows his canines.

Amusing, that she should ask, although that he doesn't explain either. "Brixton," is his clipped answer, fingers coming to scrape against her skin to pick the needle up, careful not to pinch. "If you've never been, don't." Stab, slide, pull. The rhythm continues. "Suppose I should ask you." A glance indicates that he is. Asking, that is.

"Down in the East End," says Eileen, studiously watching Logan manipulate the length of the needle. "Never been to Brixton, least not that I know of, but my mum used to work at the St. Mary's over in Westminster. Da drove cabs, so he got to go a little bit of everywhere. Sometimes he'd take me with." The muscles in her stomach tense with every repetition, abdomen growing taut beneath his fingers as he continues to sew along the gash.

"Staten Island's a bit like Brixton, isn't it?" she asks, and the question is only one part rhetorical. His grin, sans whiskers, receives a mildly amused look in turn — much less toothy or foxish. "Virgin or no, you must feel plenty at home here."

"Mm." Her observation gets little commitment, at first, fingers slipping on the skin made slick with cleansing chemical and reining in Logan's concentration for a moment. After a moment, more words accompany her response. "Is a bit. Higher up in the food chain, you might say, but you're not wrong. Not that there was much of a food chain in Brixton, not like here. Here's smaller, and meaner."

His voice is gentler when making conversation, which isn't so impressive. He sounds distracted, anyway, focused on the pull of thread. Almost done. "Then there was Mexico. The bits tourists don't go to. I guess some places just attract me." Cesspools, in other words. Logan's back straightens, observing his work. "Am I done?"

Eileen removes the hand from Logan's knee and trails her fingertip along the suture's edge as if to test it, though there's nothing to glean from its glossy texture that she can't discern with a casual glance. "I think so," she says. "At any rate, it'll do." Likewise, the fingers sinking into his shoulder become slack, and that hand too falls away, settling somewhere by her side in a loose, curling fist.

The subtle shift in tone hasn't gone unnoticed. As Logan's voice softens, Eileen's guarded body language does as well. Gradually, she opens up, less the timid rabbit to his bushy-tailed tod, bunched posture abandoned for one that's more relaxed. "Do you speak any Spanish?"

"Picked up a bit," Logan says, voice clipped and casual as he inspects his fingertips. Blood and antiseptic makes them greasy and dark, and he bends at the waist to collect the cloth soaking in the bucket of pink-tinted water, cleaning his hands free of medical gore. "Not enough to hold a conversation but enough to ask where the rest room is." And, incidentally, what's your sister's name?, which just led to nowhere good.

There's a wet slap as the cloth is dropped back into the bucket, and the bedsheets are what's used to dry his hands, god forbid he use his clothing. "Now look at us, getting along. Do you really think we deserve to be put down?"

The green of his eyes dim briefly, that queasiness deep in the pit of Eileen's stomach coming back for just a moment, a prod, before settling to nothing as bright eyes study her face. "I'd dismiss it as the heat of the moment but you did come all that way." His hand comes up, moving to attempt to press his palm against her throat, just to reward her with the skin-to-skin touches she'd been missing. "How on earth you knew where I lived is beyond me."

Eileen allows the contact, neither jerking away nor stiffening at the pressure applied by the underside of Logan's hand. Her chin lifts just enough to accommodate the touch, though her eyes remain on his face, gaze steady, lips pulled into a slight frown. "We've done things with our abilities that nobler people wouldn'tve. Hurt. Killed. Abigail makes a lot of noise about how awful you are, but some of the company she keeps isn't much better, and neither'm I."

She swallows hard as familiar sensations begin to rise from somewhere at the bottom of her belly, and is visibly relieved when Logan quashes them as suddenly as his hold started to loosen. Breath trickles out through her nostrils, warm against the backs of his fingers and knuckles. "There's no permanent fix," she says, purposely straying from the topic of his home, "no way to make it go away forever. Without you here, I feel like I'm someone else entirely."

"Abigail talks too much," Logan dismisses, watching her mouth rather than her eyes. "Give me a little more time with her and I promise you, she'll be just like everyone else."

They're all the same. Logan's thumb digs sharply into the delicate column of Eileen's neck, delicate by the standards that most throats are, a passage way for air, blood, voices. A whisper of fabric against fabric as he shifts closer, as well as an in take of breath. "It's a permanent fix if you remain right here, now isn't it? Tell me, when are you going to brave the world again? Because I promise you— "

A push of insistence, subtle in contrast to the harsh, not-quite-choking hold of his hand, beckoning her to lie back. "I might as well tug these stitches out one by one and let you bleed somewhere warm for all the good leaving will do you. At least that way you won't have to die knowing it's for the best."

Logan's remark about Abigail rankles Eileen more than the biting force that his thumb's curve exerts, but the latter also has the advantage of cutting off whatever reply she'd woven together. A husky growl of pain rumbles in her throat, fed by the air siphoned rapidly in through her nose. Her chest heaves, shudders with exertion before the rest of her falls still, shoulders and back flush with the mattress.

Her stare is pointed, caustic. Her tone, in contrast, remains as soft and self-possessed as it was a few minutes ago when she implored his help — if a touch on the tighter side. "You don't have to threaten me, John." She shifts her hips beneath him, readjusting the curvature of her spine to better fit and press her body against his in an awkward display of languidness that's meant to paint an illusion of submission as much as it is to cajole him into complacency. "I'd rather lie here with you and be consumed by something human than walk out that door and let it take me again."

Logan goes with her, eeeasily moving as if to prevent distance falling between them, the hand at her throat gentling, but not moving. He sees nothing wrong in stealing her wrist if only to wrap it in a tight and controlling clench. While he might not turn her stomach as much as her ability does, he's the lesser of two evils and just as oppressive. Consume is a good word. Eyelashes briefly veil glowing green as he looks down the length of her body, back up again.

"I rarely do what I have to," he murmurs, breath curling warm against her throat. "Believe me."

Intimacy is a fleeting thing, but for as long as it lasts feelings are heightened to a precipitous point and inhibititions dispelled; barring his warmth and the touch of his lips on her skin, everything about John Logan fills Eileen with revulsion, and yet this physical closeness is all it takes to tip her world on its axis and transform her perspective until a time when both their bodies are no longer pent up with frenetic energy and lay perfectly motionless but for their harmonized breathing, entwined.

A virile sense of imagination helps, too. As his heat unfurls across her throat, she moves her lips against his neck and whispers a sibilant name into his captive ear.

Not for the first time, it isn't his.

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