s_eileen_icon.gif s_logan_icon.gif

Scene Title Advantage
Synopsis It's hard to say who's taking it. Logan strikes a bargain with the part of Eileen suppressed since November.
Date February 13, 2010

Eileen's Dreamscape

When you get out far enough, all the roads that wind through Staten Island's Greenbelt look alike, especially in the dead of winter when the trees are emaciated and bare except for the ice that coats their branches in lieu of leaves. Charcoal gray sky and barren earth covered in snow the shade and consistency of ash — there are no colours here. Even the poppies that grow in inexplicable clusters on the side of the road are gray instead of the rich Venetian red that they should be.

What sets this stretch apart is the old storm drain situated beneath it and the fact that the road itself leads nowhere. Instead, a silver fog hangs in the air like smoke, acrid and smothering, and obscures what lies beyond the drain by reducing visibility to a mere one hundred feet in every direction, though the sharp but sibilant sound of rustling feathers can clearly be heard from somewhere within the haze.

Occasionally, the stillness is broken by booming wings or the low, mournful croak of a carrion bird calling out in the night.

This place is a tapestry, threads of consciousness coming together to build its design, and one loose string is pulled. It doesn't unravel, but the reality that is this place feels something of a tug, an invasion, before it's assimilated into the greater scheme of things. Fog rolls off a snowy white flank, and hooves sink delicate crescent marks in the snow as the creature quietly, gently, paces forward out of seemingly no where. The reflection of ice on stone, the stagnant water from the drainpipe.

A velvety muzzle, silvery grey, lowers down to the water tentatively, the tip of a spiraled golden horn hovering inches above the water's surface which begins to ripple as the unicorn takes a drink. It's about then that Logan wakes up.

Figuratively speaking. The rider more or less asleep, or something like it, jerking awake when he feels the arching neck of the beast lower down, almost sending him sliding off entirely. Gripping onto the unicorn's golden mane, he opens pale green eyes to observe his surroundings, so far mostly seeing the snow earth below. He gives a soft groan of reluctance. "Why here? Why're we here?" he whines, quietly, not yet dismounting. In fact, his feet lift up a little more from where they had dangled above the icy ground.

The most worn out prince in all the land, he doesn't seem injured. Not in the conventional sense. But something isn't right, and when he moves his hand from where'd he placed it against the mare's neck, a print of silvered blood remains. His silk shirt is worn thinly, the laces at the cuffs loose, and the gold waistcoat left open. Too little against the chill.

The unicorn doesn't answer him. Just drinks deep.

Water trickles out of the drain's yawning mouth in thick, snaking rivulets and floods the depression in the ground that forms the pool from which Logan's mount drinks to slake her thirst. Snow continues to fall, gathering in her mane and on the lashes veiling soulful eyes lit bright by the same ambient moonlight that bathes her coat in stardust and gives her sleek shape a resplendent sheen except for where the flakes touch it and the shadows belonging to spindly elm branches carve paths across her hide like stripes.

A metal grate with bars wide enough to stick an arm through but too narrow to allow even a small child to slip through covers the drain's darkened opening, and although the reflection of a bloated moon ripples in the pool's pristine surface, it provides little illumination otherwise. On the other side of the barrier is a diminutive figure with skin the same pale colour as the mare's coat and hair woven from fine threads of gossamer. Logan glimpses a sliver of jaw, and a long, bare arm held across a naked breast that resembles the moon in its gibbous phase as delicate fingers curl around the bars and a woman comes into view.

He does not recognize her at first. More interesting than her face is her half-clothed body and the tattered remains of a dress fashioned from flimsy white gauze that clings to her frame, plastered to hips, belly and thighs by the same water flowing languidly from the pipe.

Green eyes study his in solemn silence.

At the sign of movement— any fucking movement— Logan's hand drifts to his hip. But there's no sword, no scabbard, even, and he regrips the unicorn's mane instead. The sigh he lets out is thick steam, tension, despite himself, winding through his body. It curves his spine and makes his knuckles whiter, and he glances off for wherever it is they came from, in the hopes of finding a way out. "Come on," he whispers to the unicorn, who lifts her head, silvered water leaking from her muzzle and dripping.

"Let's go," is a reminder, to move, and that she does— but not in the way he expects. Expelled steam is sucked back in at a gasp when the unicorn suddenly folds her legs at a bow, almost tipping Logan forward enough to spill into the lake or impale himself on her horn, but a keen grip, legs tensing, manages to prevent this. Back legs go, tail spilling it's silk-fine tendrils on the snow as she descends with fluid grace.

With a slight roll, she finishes depositing her rider upon the river bank, who doesn't suffer the indignity of trying to stay on her, hissing in some annoyance as he levers himself off her back to sit in snow. Ice sprays out from where his boot slides in it, an attempt to get to his feet, and when that fails, he just sits, and watches where thatches of ice float upon the water. "What are you looking at?" he asks, without actually meeting the eyes of the woman he's addressing.

The drainpipe isn't very tall or wide. Fortunately for the woman trapped behind the grate, neither is she — or at least she would not be if it weren't for the folded wings at her back. Like the shreds of clothing that adorn her body, these too are tattered, their dark feathers ragged and threadbare, angular edges frayed. There isn't enough room in her prison to spread them, and even from where Logan is sitting he can see that they've become wasted and withered from disuse.

Her response to his question does not come in the form of words. She slides one slim arm through the bars and holds out her hand to him, palm upturned and fingers curled slightly inward. Black blood cakes cracked nails split all the way through crescent-shaped cuticles.

He can hear her breathing now, thin and hushed, a faint murmur building behind the sound of every inhalation and the slow release that follows it. When she speaks, her voice does not leave her mouth — it's purring in his head.

Let me out.

Cautiously, he gets his legs under them, levers up. Arms wrap around his torso, trying to fold in on himself to escape the winter chill. He can understand wanting to be let out. A cage, or a wrecked body with flesh flayed by fire, broken bones beneath abused skin, groggy morphine. Logan takes a step forward, boots sinking deep into mud and slush, and then another step, icy water, and another. It's stunningly cold by the time it reaches his knees, paints the white fabric of his trousers to his skin, and he ducks a little to see better into the tunnel.

Logan stops right where he is, suddenly cautious like prey that's caught the scent of predator on the wind.

"Dunno if that's a good idea," he says, speaking out loud. "Someone put you in there for a reason, looks like. I'm not sure if I'm the one who's meant to be letting you out. I was hoping— " And his head ducks, a breathless, mirthless chuckle. "Not sure what I was hoping. Hello, Eileen."

Light refracts in the irises of Eileen's eyes. They shine like a cat's, flash with the swiftness of dragonfly's wings skimming across water, iridescent and shimmering. They thought they could bury me, she seethes, and as she speaks the emotions begin to leak from her, saturating the water until it is rife with negativity. Disgust and contempt, the quiet anguish that springs from the kind of loss Logan has never experienced and may never understand — it all soaks through his clothes and skin, filling him with the same hurt she's experiencing on the other side of the bars.

But you can't bury what isn't dead, John. Let me out. Let me out and I'll forgive you for taking advantage.


His voice breaks over the word — not cleanly, either, not when he can feel that insidious sink of feelings, backing up a step away from the grate with a ripple of water at the movement. Looking at her now, though, ice-cut eyes severe. "I'm taking advantage? How?" Displaced hurt fills his voice, almost adolescent in the way it sounds both dry and wet from his throat. "By not tell you everything? By giving you employment? I haven't done anything to you! Why should I want you to hate me?" He'd gesture, but he has his arms locked around himself to preserve warmth, visibly shivering where he stands, the falling of snow making glittering touches on silk before melting into grey spots.

Ice slides into water as the unicorn works on getting back up to her hooves, and Logan sends a glance her way as if to say yes, this was a bad idea. "I don't owe you anything. Especially not the truth. I hope you die in there. I want to talk to you, not— you. The one that can help me."

I can't help you unless you let me out. Each repetition is becoming more desperate, wanton and haggard in a way that is very familiar to Logan for all the wrong reasons. She lowers her arm, fingers grasping again at the bars, and shows tendons standing out against the pallid smooth of her skin. Wings strain against concrete, bent, malformed — she's not unlike the mare in that she's two very distinct creatures, one animal and one human. The only difference between them is that she takes both shapes simultaneously, resulting in a form more monstrous than it is seraphic.

As their conversation devolves, so does she. Harsh and whistling, a shrill falcon's scream tears free of her throat, and it becomes clear why she does not speak.

She can't.

What do you want from me?

The mare restlessly backs up at the devil shriek carried from the mouth of the tunnel, the flash of pearly teeth visible, but Logan manages not to do the same. He has no time for his own avatar's skittishness, not helpful, but stands his sinking ground and tries to figure out what it is he needs from her. Something, something that felt more urgent before, desperately so. He raises a hand to study his palm, and then, looking back at her, he flattens it against his chest, high up, where the silk falls wide enough to show collar bones, and his other hand busies itself in jerking his shirt a little further open. When he pulls that first hand away, it's as if he lifted powder from a surface, a fine dusting of skin— or glamour— falling into the river.

A hand print remains on his chest — boiled skin, lobster red, and pulled shiny and white in scarring around the edges of the marking. "I'm hurt," he explains. "And I don't know where I've gone, but I'm not sure I want to go back." He takes a lurching step forward, boots slipping in the soft, pebbly ground of the run off lake's bottom. "I think I've come to the wrong place," he adds, doing nothing to keep disgust from his voice.

She tracks his progress with the pointed gaze of a hungry predator, her eyes trained on his every movement, seeking signs of weakness that she might be able to exploit. It catches on his hand, the diamonds glittering on his fingers, then shifts to the print on his chest and the ugliness his palm has uncovered. That will do.

If I do this for you, she says, her voice taking on an even harder quality to match the steel of her face's severe expression, then the next time I come begging a favour, you agree to what I ask without demanding anything in return.

It does not sound like a request.

"So hasty." He dusts off his hands, that fine glittery mess knocked away before he's almost self-consciously pulling his shirt closed once more, enough to hide the injury save for the splay of red finger-marks that go up too high for him to do so, or maybe just guarding against the cold, for all that it won't help. "Why, you're not even out of your little prison yet. Isn't that part of the bargain? Aren't you stacking things in your own favour? You're only meant to do that when you have the advantage, Ruskin."

Ruskin rusk in rus kin… "You were better at dealing with me when you played the whore," he notes, now inspecting his nails for all that he stands knee-deep in ugly, brackish water. "I don't like being told what to do."

Snow falls, steam rises off the warm, sloping back of the healthy mare on the river banks, and then suddenly, the sound of water sloshing greasily as Logan moves forward, up the stone lip of the drain and towards the grate. He pays no heed to the grime as he kneels in front of it, and wraps a hand around one of the bars. There's no jostling, no inspection, and his eyes are as bright and chill as moon reflecting off the snowy banks. "You don't remember everything about me even when you thought you did, you know."

No. The drain does not smell like sewage. Damp earth instead. Wet mulch, concrete. Staten Island is the one place in New York outside of Central Park where nature encroaches on civilization's territory rather than the other way around. Eileen's hand seeks out Logan's and traces fingertips along the outline of his wrist bone before they slide up the inside of his arm all the way to the elbow where she clasps him hard. Up close, he can better observe the effects of her imprisonment in the drainpipe — her tangled hair, bloodied and bruised fingers, dark circles under her eyes from lack of sleep. Her eyes themselves possess a feral attribute that he hasn't seen since she came for him in his apartment and ended the night in his bed.

The Eileen who approached him at his club would never look at him the way she's looking at him now. For all her anger, there's desire too. It's been a long, lonely exile.

Her other hand finds his face and curves her thumb over his mouth. They took something from me. I need to know who. You understand what that's like, don't you? Consumption.

Desire for him is almost always reflected right back as perfectly as the most of flawless of mirrors, no matter who it might be. It shows, now, the severity softened at the edges, eyes hooding like a cat's do when you find the feline's sweet spot behind its ears, and his hand— not much warmer than her's— comes up to smooth against the back of her hand before gently gripping. "I do," Logan responds, a little senselessly, guiding her hand down his jaw, throat, and there, it's warm, pulse making a fluttery percussion against her dirtied, bloodied hand.

There's an almost sickly grind of metal when he twists the iron bar, scraping against wet concrete and ice. Only one— no, maybe two need to be removed for the woman behind them to squeeze through, as awkward as her wings might make it, but certainly, they could be left behind anyway. He releases her then to poke around where metal meets concrete as if to check how weak it is, before gripping onto the iron bar's base and pulling.

Whoever is responsible for trapping this part of Eileen took great pains to ensure that she could not escape. Memory manipulator, telepath or some malignant combination of the two — there's no way for either of them to know how she came to be this way based on the structure of the bars. They carry no signature. What Logan can determine is that no one took into consideration the possibility that someone who doesn't belong here might try to take her cage apart.

The bars are like clay and bend in his hands. Internal, external — they were not built to withstand pressure exerted by anyone except Eileen herself. Excitement manifests in the luminous green of her eyes, not quite as bright as Logan's in the waking world when he's applying his influence, but close.

He almost falls backwards down the short, slick concrete slope as metal bends, malleable and crumbling. White widens around the twin discs of luminous pale green in mild surprise, but he makes no comment. The iron twists, and comes free of where they were set into concrete below and above, left to fall aside and tumble down, scraping. He's going to get dirt beneath his fingernails, but he already has mud on— in his boots and blood on his face from where it flaked away from her abused fingers. A little more never hurt no one.

Logan starts on the second bar, catching her excitement in a glance, but he doesn't let that give him pause. At this range, she can probably see it, the tiny cracks in the surface of his flesh — kind of like when you get close to the Mona Lisa, and see where the dried paint shows its age in griddish cracking, like it could flake apart at any moment. Tiny snowflakes catch in his eyelashes, and his brow is tense in concentration.

The second bar caves in. Then the third. His hands close on the fourth.

All at once, Eileen implodes into a maelstrom of metallic feathers flashing violet and bronze, slashing claws and wings with edges that could compete with razors for sharpness and precision. Shreds of white gauze are torn and blow away, dissolving into thousands upon thousands of infinitesimal threads as diaphanous as a silk spider's weave. Suddenly there is only eddy of birds where a woman stood before.

The flock of grackles — because that's what they are — floods out the gap created by the removal of the three bars in a noisy, glistening stream that shines more colours than there are threads of fabric floating through the air. One clips Logan's ear with its wing. Another cuts across his cheek and leaves a thin red line oozing crimson where one of its toes breaks the skin. But apart from these small transgressions, they leave both mare and rider unharmed in their dizzying wake as they spiral up, up, up

— and down goes Logan, arms up to protect himself regardless as he gracelessly skids back and into icy water, feeling the wind sweep over him from the impossibly loud beating of wings, making the hair at the nape of his neck bristle from the gust. When he can feel that tide of avian life flow over him and then away, he twists enough to peer upwards, eyes round before he remembers himself, and he climbs to his feet, out of the water and back onto the concrete ramp.

Where are you going? he wants to desperately cry, but there's no talking to birds. No bargaining with them either. Still— he came here for something, something very important, somewhere very far away so much so that he can barely remember what it is.


One by one, the grackles rapidly flit away into the fog and carve through silver vapour, displacing it with their wings, and like stones dropping into water, they leave only ripples behind. A flick of its tapered tail is the final farewell from the last of them as it scissors away and disappears into the unknown.

There is no answer from Eileen this time. Not out loud, and not in the form of a disembodied voice whispering harsh entreaties without sound. Logan and his mare are alone again, surrounded by a swirling haze and the slosh of water lapping gently at the pool's frosty shore.

If he can't remember what he came here for, what are the chances that she will?

Intellectually speaking, she can't leave him here. Here is as much a part of her as the grackles or the creature she'd become in the pipe, but here is leaving as much as those entities are too. Logan doesn't move, staring off towards where the birds disappeared in a kind of silent shock, and doesn't notice as the fog presses in, as ice frosts over the lake, the world slowly blotting out into white. Warm hands take his, the woman's dress of that same luminous quality as with the platinum sheen of her hair, almost a part of the fabric of the same mist that whirls around them now.

"I don't care. Let me stay here— I don't want to go back." But she doesn't respond; she never does. "I could have left her," Logan tries to explain, to no one listening. Incomprehension shows on the avatar's face, before she shrugs and casts him a bright smile, white teeth and white skin until all that's left in this reality would the black of her eyelashes and the red of her mouth as she presses it to his.

White as hospital sheets and walls, of the lights in the ceiling. Wakefulness doesn't last long, before Logan slips back into the kind of sleep that doesn't bring dreaming.

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