Ahead of the Curve


bella_icon.gif logan_icon.gif

Scene Title Ahead of the Curve
Synopsis Two representatives do business regarding a certain illicit substance.
Date October 27, 2009

Red Hook: West Washington Meats Co. Warehouse

In the wake of the Bomb, many businesses were either bankrupt as instantly as citizens were killed, or left to rot or more importantly, left to buy. West Washington Meats Co. has long since been left to sit abandoned on the docks of Red Hook, rust soaking brown through metal and windows either left alone, broken, or boarded shut. The doors, however, grinding things of dented, abused metal that roll back into the walls, have been left partially open.

Cattle cages and hooks haven't seen the press of animal flesh, dead or alive, in some time. They stretch shadows across the debris stricken concrete ground of the warehouse, the dead conveyor belts, all dust and grit and occasionally broken glass. There are high windows that allow for the sunset light to come streaming on in. For all the world, it could have been forgotten, but this is not so - it only looks it.

An open metal staircase leads into the main area of the warehouse, rolling on down from the office which has wide, glass windows which stare blind out into the plant. There's a hum in the air, subtle, because as much as this place appears to be a tomb, there's still the barely audible sound and whine of electricity being generated.

Footfalls and a metallic 'clack' herald Bella's arrival, still wearing her business casual of earlier that evening, her slight limp aided by the wolfsheaded cane she's taken to carrying about with her since the incident that necessitated its use. She considered wearing some sort of disguise, maybe just reflective sunglasses, maybe a full linen veil, and then decided those would not only seem pretty seriously weird, it would also send the wrong message. Outside the bounds of legal contracts, trust is everything. Honor among thieves. Or at least that's how she figures it has to work. It's either trust or guns and Bella isn't exactly a 'force majeure' kinda gal.

So she's all pink cheeks and red hair as she makes her way up the stairs, the 'clacks' turning into ringing 'clangs', giving Logan plenty of warning before she's at the office door. She make a point of not looking into the office through the windows before opening the door, as if information of the interior requires entry.

Horizontal blinds angle in ribbons of low sunlight, the office a generous space and made more so by the fact that much of the furniture that would have occupied it has been removed - save for the heavy oak desk sitting moderately untouched. Unusual, given the circumstances, unless it's a replacement of some kind, for whoever uses this space. There are chairs, too, simple wooden ones sitting in front of the desk and another behind it.

All three go ignored by Logan, he contents himself with perch against the edge of the desk, ankles crossed and arms folded. His coat has been thrown over the back of the chair, alongside a simple suitcase, and he's dressed in the fine angles of designer labels - all black of different textures, a pinching waistcoat and a shirt without a tie.

His posture is stiff but the smile he deals across at her is easy, pushing himself up to stand. "Nice to meet you in person," he says, with a swooping gaze that goes down and back up her body, completely missing the cane for the time being.

Bella has to fight the urge to offer her hand, something she was basically trained to offer when first meeting someone, a point of manners her Daddy had made very clear must not be compromised should civilization continue to function properly. She instead plants both hands on the walking stick and dips her head by way of alternative greeting, "And you. Shall we get to brass tacks? I'm sure you're a busy man."

Let's be honest with yourself, Dr. Sheridan, you're scared. Matter-of-factness and all-businessness thrown up as a shield between herself and him and herself and her own fantods, whose howling began to hit a particularly keening pitch upon seeing the dangling hooks, however long-unused. "I'm Dolores Rusk, and I represent a certain pharmaceutical interest with holdings off shore. They'd like to do steady business, and they need a steady supply. Are you a reliable supplier?"

It's more or less accidental that Logan looks the part in this particular exchange. Sleepless, bringing the scent of chain smoking into the office with him, expensively dressed if not formal enough by any stretch of the imagination, and his right hand has bandages wrapped around three fingers, splinted straight and clasped in metal to keep them so. His thumbs hook into the pockets of his slacks, making no effort to hide broken hand.

And judging by his body language, it's not the only injury. Not that she can talk. His pale eyes wander down, finally, to the cane, hone in sharp when he notices its particular design as she speaks and introduces herself and all those important things, and it's really only the sound of her last few words lifting up into a question—

"I represent a reliable supplier," he confirms, looking back up, his accent in that territory known as received pronunciation, veiling his usual South London lilt. However, there is a certain roughness to his voice he can't shake off, one of drinking and smoking. "You can call me Logan, Ms. Rusk. Tell me, have you lot got a fancy word for it by now? Refrain, that is. Just curious, really."

'Dolores' notes Logan's injury in turn. Tonight has been a night of injured rendezvous, it seems. No comment is offered - she's not a therapist right now, she's a broker. Drawing on the ideal of a steely negotiator, trying to channel some latent brass-masked wheeler and dealer aspect of herself, she returns her steady eyes to Logan's face. His last comment draws a measured smile from her. "Coming up with one will be our first order of business," she says. That this name will be derived, most likely, from its chemical composition is a detail she omits. Ideally, once the research is properly underway, they will be able to synthesize their own Refrain, and that will obviate the need to deal with Logan and his unsavory compatriots; to mention this, however, would seem not just bad business but also outright gauche, a blow to the civilization her Daddy so prizes. "We need a sizeable supply. I think a bulk discount will be in order."

"Do you?" is amused, but not incredulous or particularly disagreeing. "I suppose that will depend on how much and how soon, and exactly how steady you intend business between us to be." A silver cigarette case— and if it has his initials on it, it probably would not be out of place— is extracted from a pocket, Logan taking a couple of sauntering steps to the side enough to sit against the arm of a chair at a lean. "Shall we start on the first two?"

The case is offered out, once he's extracted a bone-white cigarette for himself, clenching it between teeth and watching her all the while. "And I'd ask what a pharmaceutical company's doing poking around Refrain," he adds, "but I suppose it's none of my business."

Bella lifts a hand in a gesture that communicates 'thanks but no thanks'. "MDMA was originally proposed as a treatment for PTSD," Bella states, giving a shrug as she says it, "Heroin was intended as a replacement for morphine. Consider us and equal opportunity employer, drug-wise. If you think we're alone, think again. We just happen to be ahead of the curve," another smile, just as carefully measured, weighed and presented like it's behind glass, "I'll be generous and not push for an exclusivity clause. Now… what is the standard street dose of Refrain? What's the smallest syringe you sell?"

He listens as he busies himself with lighting up, though his attention is paid far more to her than his own fidgets. Logan's head tilts a little as if to communicate fair enough, lighter tossed onto the desk and white smoke exhaled in a steady stream politely away from her. Her question gets a pause, before he's reaching inside his jacket.

The customary blue glow of the syringe is eye catching, signature, the capped syringe small enough to settle comfortable in his palm. "Minimum dose is typically 5 milliliters. Couldn't say much much will kill you but anything below that means you'd be in for an evening of disappointment. Catch."

And maybe she won't, but Logan tosses her the capped needle anyway, which is awfully dangerous, in a light underhand toss, scifi blue arcing through the air.

Bella's response is graceless. She hops back to avoid collision. And she does so without accounting for her gimpy leg, which causes her to stumble, gracelessness upon gracelessness. The syringe lands at her feet with a clatter. She gives Logan a very cool look, and carefully stoops to pick up the syringe. She lifts it to eye level, examining it. She looks up, at Logan, the glowing blue line hovering just under her chin. "For starters, I'd like two hundred of these, a further hundred 10 ml syringes, and fifty 25 ml on top of that. I expect we'll need considerably more quite soon, but we want a chance to make sure of your supplier's purported reliability. We need purity, stability, quality."

Expensive though the make and cut of his clothing may be, as princely as his accent is feigned, Logan is no kind of gentleman, and he doesn't move to help her out of her stumble, and likely is not expected to. A small smirk twists around his smoldering cigarette, before attention sharpens on her demands, listening with a tilt of his head. "Purity, stability, quality is what you'll get," he says, tapping dead ash off his cigarette, letting it spill to the ground in a fine falling of grey. "You see, I represent the only reliable source of Refrain in New York, and therefore, America. I'd be lying if I implied you'd get anything less, Ms. Rusk."

A pause, scuffing the bandaged back of his knuckles against a mostly shaven jaw as he thinks, before he says, "I can get you that much by the time the week's out. On the street, a single dose is about $30, not factoring in special care taken regarding quality. But I reckon we can trim a whole, oh… fifteen percent off, just for you." Hard to tell if this selection is arbitrary or predetermined by his superiors, his gaze across at her square and inquiring.

"Twenty five percent seems much more reasonable," Bella counters, fingertips rolling the hypo's slim girth back and forth against her thumb, "Particularly considering the enormously decreased risk this transaction entails for you. No junkies gathering attention, all of the material shipped safely outside police jurisdiction. I'm respectful of your monopoly, but this is a speculative venture for us. The risk is ours."

"Perhaps so, but like I said," Logan says, a glance away, a tilt of his sloping jawline, "you're not going to make this venture with anyone else, now are you?" Another draw in of cigarette smoke, cheeks hollowing with it before letting it out in brisk dragon curls. His arm is wrapped about his midsection, other elbow rested upon it with that hand hovering the cigarette close to his face. The tip of orange is a vibrancy his doesn't quite have despite the interest sparking in his eyes.

He lets go of the last tendrils of smoke before he says, "Fifteen percent, and we'll see about a more generous discount of twenty five if we do business again. You want to test our reliability, consider this a test of yours."

This bit is cheating, also, so watch carefully as halfway through his words, something happens. Subtle, beneath the surface of true emotions and genuine responses, there's a shift that's purely chemical within the woman standing opposite. Serotonin dictates moods, and Bella's gently rising by the smallest of fractions such things can be measured in. The world is a better place. This conversation is going well.

And here she was angling for a median twenty percent, but it turns out haggling isn't on the table at the moment. Bella's not sure if she should play hard to get now, play it cool, try and make him come to her. But the scariest drug deals she's ever done have been for high resin dope, and really… she's doing a splendid job at this already. The alias, the steely demeanor. She knows she's got an instinct for this, and her gut tells her to play nice, for now. She has a hard time suppressing a perhaps undeservedly triumphant smile, an manages to compromise by making her smile agreeable instead. "Fair enough," she says, "Contract renegotiation after, say, the second order?"

Perhaps upon the other side, Logan knows relief and confirmations and denials of insecurities and all those things that cluster together beneath the steely negotiations like innards trapped in bone and skin. He is, after all, far deeper in than he was on Staten Island. Or perhaps not. He's just as good at projecting an agreeable smile across at 'Dolores', after all, and he relinquishes that psychic hold over her chemistry.

"That would be fabulous," he states, taking his weight up off the chair— again, easy does it, as if there could be stitches to be pulled beneath all that fine black fabric. "You send me a location and I can send you the bill, and we can look at a Friday deadline." He switches cigarette from one hand to the other to better extend it out to shake.

Bella's eyes flick to the hand, then to Logan's eyes. "I never shake unless properly introduced," she says. She doesn't sound put off or offended, more like just a bit challenging, though in a close-to good natured way.

His eyebrow go up, forehead laddering in some surprise at this caveat before smoothing out again, considering his hand and the worth of a handshake. One end of this bargain vastly outweighs the other, but he's already gotten his way, this evening. "John Logan." Either her paperwork is just that good, or he's vain enough to not mind.

Bella takes his hand, and gives it a firm shake, meeting him eye to eye. "Pleasure doing business, Mr. Logan," she says, and she sounds grimly genuine.

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