Another Man's Treasure


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Scene Title Another Man's Treasure
Synopsis Colette goes in search of an important part of her birthday plans, and rediscovers an old friend as well.
Date February 20, 2018

The Vault

At dusk, the Safe Zone’s southern neighborhoods are given a uniquely urban light show. As the sun sets. Whine the jagged silhouette of Manhattan’s skeletal ruins, a purple-tinged sky streaked with pink and red does battle with a blue and violet neon haze rising in the east. Yamagato Park’s remote glow looks otherworldly, casting up blooming hues in cool tones against the mist coming in off the water.

The stretch of Bay Ridge that the Vault sits on rests in perfect harmony between these two vivid light shows. Outside the shop, long shadows clash with the fiery last vestiges of February sun while the neon promise of night looms on the darker horizon where stars twinkle at the higher altitudes between wispy clouds. A truck rolls past the front windows of the Vault, the Yamagato Industries logo emblazoned on its side, followed by a fleet of construction vehicles.

When they finish their driveby, there's a pedestrian crossing the street toward the shop. The ratty brown leather jacket she wears is two sizes too big for her and looks just as many decades old. The leather is cracked at the shoulders and elbows and as clearly cut for a tall and broad-shouldered man, not the woman it's draped over.

Stopping out front of the Vault, Colette Demsky looks up at the sign above the windows. Then down inside, to where twinkling lamps shed a warm incandescence that's inviting in the way a fireplace is on a cold night. Everything about the shop’s interior looks to toe the line between class and kitsch in a way that promises hidden splendor.

When the door to the Vault opens fifteen minutes before the store is set to close, it's almost unsurprising that it's Hana Gitelman’s younger and less intimidating protege that is coming calling. Colette carefully steps around a shelf laden with a delicate case, soft booted strides carrying her with purposeful determination. She's not browsing, that's an easy meandering look to recognize. She's clearly looking for something.

Colette leaves behind the wintry dusky air, entering a stagnant bath of warmth. Most parlors of this kind have a distinctive sort of scent, musty and organic, the smell of lacquer and varnish and wax and paper breaking down in super slow motion, and an undercurrent, sweeter and smokier. Radio chatter plays towards the back of the store, too quiet and rusty to be for anyone else but the man sitting near it.

It's close enough to closing that John Logan has turned his attention to the register, counting loose money. Even back in the day when he had people for this sort of thing, he tended to do it himself, and between folding bills and bagging coins, he scribbles pencil to book, taps in calculations on his phone, and takes a sip from his whiskey glass. But it's the energy with which Colette enters that draws Logan's focus, otherwise used to people coming in to stare and then leave without transaction. Soft foot falls landing with purpose gets a quick look, more guarded and guilty than a Humble Antique Vendor should have any right to be.

Recognition takes a few seconds to click into place. Then, he stands.

Glass in hand — some things never change, a dark amber liquid settled low in crystal — Logan moves around the desk. Dressed nicely in a waistcoat and rolled sleeves, he waits long enough to observe the way she pokes around with intent, before he says, voice sudden and clear and crisp over the top of ambient radio and distant traffic, "And here I thought you'd come looking for me."

The look that comes from Colette when she sees Logan is blisteringly incredulous. She looks around herself, as if to reaffirm that she hasn't tumbled through one of these armoirs into Narnia, and pointedly navigates her way through the narrow aisles over to him.

John?” The Major’s friend earns a first-name recognition from Colette. Her lips part in a smile that is both bewildered and delighted. “What's— did somebody's grandmother die, or?” Blind eyes flick around the store, and Colette actual bubbles up with a bit of laughter that likewise is both bewildered and delighted.

Then, on a realization, a third and notably less rhetorical question escapes her. “Is this whole thing yours?” Colette, though squarely an adult, has a certain child-like wonder about her at the moment that is incongruent with her usually mature professional persona he's more accustomed to seeing around Wolfhound members.

Oh, the shade of it all, but it isn't insult enough to provoke more out of Logan than a pointed gesture of folding his arms, taking care of his prop, whiskey sliding against the insides of the glass. "All of it," he asserts. "Down to the last piece of knockoff Waterford crystal."

So this is a chance meeting, and whatever knot of anticipation he had felt on recognition for the littlest of the Wolves — as if, perhaps, he anticipated Colette having some form of news that pertained to his interest — releases with a lazy unravelling of inchoate tension. What's left in place is faint relief and disappointment in equal parts, but internally waved away like so much cigarette smoke.

"I'd imagine quite a lot of grandmothers've died to make it all possible," he adds, a glance around the place. "So god rest their souls."

Taking another minute to consider her surroundings, Colette cracks a fond smile. “S’really good t’see you, John.” Closing the distance between the two, Colette tucks her hands into the pockets of her oversized coat and comes to loiter near the desk, leaning her hip up against it.

“If is known this place was yours I would've asked Hana to just text you,” is more tongue-in-cheek than practical. “Speaking of, you should come up again sometime. I'm thinking the squad needs a tune down after some recent… shit. You're always welcome. Maybe bring a bottle of wine?” One brow lifts, a polite offer if nothing else.

The invitation aside, Colette scans the shop with that intent stare again, looking for whatever it was that drew her here before it became a social call.

"Or something stronger."

But his ears prick at news of recent… shit, no longer out of worry or intrigue but pure curiosity for what constitutes as shit for career terrorists who aren't terrorists anymore, now that they've shaken out on the right side of history. Logan's answer is polite deflection, regardless, happy to assume that he is, in fact, always welcome.

Or at least, happy for Colette to assume as such, seeing as it's good to see him, and all. She still, to him, looks like the plucky teenager with glamourous notions about gangsters, but toughened up. Dry aged.

Colette's eyes will land on an elegant frame, currently home to an elegantly handwritten notice that says: Stop fucking touching everything!

"What can I interest you in until then?"

Colette’s brows raise at something stronger and she jabs Logan gingerly in the ribs with an elbow. “Just so you know I’m still rooting for you two.” Her blind eyes flick away, and she steps a few paces from Logan over to the notice, brushing one fingertip over it as if doing a white glove test. She cracks a smile, turns around, and folds her hands behind her head.

“Might not be your stuff, but… a camera.” Colette’s nose wrinkles. “I mean, not a point-and-shoot thing, like a really nice camera. Real film, not digital. I know film’s hard to come by and I haven’t seen a single fucking camera for sale anywhere. I figured maybe an antiques place,” if that’s what this is, her expression dubiously admits, “might have something from the 70s or 80s.” Hands falling down to her side and swinging idly, Colette takes clomping and lazy steps back to Logan.

“It’s a, uh, gift for Tasha.” The fact that the name is somewhat familiar to Logan implies that his life and Colette’s is at least somewhat entangled thanks to their shared acquaintance with Hana. “She’s the arty type, I wanna get her something nice. If you don’t have one here, maybe like… you know somebody who does?” Logan’s been around enough to know that Colette acts different around him, more casual, more relaxed. Her guard is down in his presence, out of some — perhaps misplaced — sense of familiarity.

“I can pay in cash, or,” Colette quirks her head to the side, “if there’s somebody who’s done something marginally criminal that pissed you off.” Her brows raise, implying lessons learned and taught. “Whatever works.”

"What sort of company do you think I keep?" Logan's audible offense is lightly handled, enough to telegraph the irony. "I prefer to trade favours for favours, and merchandise for money. Keeps the books honest. Come along."

The antique store feels as though it opens up, as Logan leads her away from the main parlour, which is where his best and more expensive furniture and jewelry and chandeliers makes for a glistening foyer of marble, brass, and upholstery. To the left, the space becomes more pawn shop than high end, with open suitcases filled with old frames, vintage postcards and other collectables, lamps and wall fixtures, wooden chairs, umbrella stands, all pushed into crammed corners. It smells a little mustier, back here, but everything appears clean — he must have people for that.

But there is also a glass case pushed to the wall, displaying precisely what Colette is looking for. At the centre shelf is a Premoette, several decades older than Colette was looking for, with its strange tapering leathery accordion body and chrome finishings. Next to it, the Olympus 35RC is outfitted in very 70s brown leatherette, it's cousin, an OM-1, in silver and black. Logan points to the former, "Missing its lens cap," and then to the other, "Far more chic." The fourth, an AFGA Selectronic, has a label that specific Display Only, matching the Premoette.

Opening the case with a small key, Logan takes the OM-1 out and offers it to Colette to hold, slightly more careless in his handling than a true collector might be. "Mechanical, not electric. Manual, so no auto-exposure. Your girl will probably want to know her way around such things."

The look Colette gives on seeing the cameras in one of legitimate astonishment. It was a shot in the dark coming here, and seeing a manual camera just sitting there is beyond her wildest expectations for the Safe Zone. “She— she knows her way around one,” Colette admits with a fluttery smile ghosting across her lips. “John, this is— fantastic.” Handling the OM-1, Colette feels the surprising weight, never having held a camera of this type before. She briefly looks down at it, then back up to Logan.

“No this, yeah. This is perfect. This is exactly what I was hoping for. If you’ve got some film I’ll slide in an embarrassing personal secret about Hana with the cash.” Dark brows raise, and Colette cracks a smile that makes it hard to tell whether or not she’s kidding.

Rather good, at this point, of sensing a sale locked in properly even before money has changed hands, Logan closes off the case with a twist of the lock. Ever a little pleased with himself, as if the distribution of his wares in the right hands is just as satisfying as the acquisition. Particularly in a place like this, where such things count, now, as luxuries, for those who care to have them. For his part, he can surround himself with it all day.

"Fuck you," he says, cheerfully. "How about I tell you where to go for the film if you never give me that sort of information."

He values his life. And his value.

The camera comes with its own bag, soft and aged leather and wool-lining, all of which comes to a total of eighty dollars, which Colette can determine from the little hand written price tags. Leading her back to the desk, he asks, "Is that everything you were after?" His tone seems to imply that she might, in fact, want something else.

Cracking a smile, Colette inclines her head in a subtle bob at Logan’s smart refusal of her offer. “Sounds like a deal, but I'll leave that on the side in case you want to put something cute in a Christmas card for her or something.” Reaching into her jacket, Colette pulls out a small spiral-bound notebook and flips one page up, scanning a list.

“If you know a good jeweler, that'd help. Someone who makes custom stuff?” At the question she tucks the notebook back into her jacket and drinks the fingers of her other hand over the camera. “Because otherwise it's just a personal call today. I'm on, uh, administrative leave until the end of the month.” Which, in a way is relieving for them both.

Colette sets down the camera into the bag, then pulls a small fold of bills from her right front pocket. Not a lot of money, from Logan’s perspective, but the right amount to go walking around in public with. She pulls a single $20 out of the stack and hands Logan the rest. “You ever see my sister anymore?” It's an out of left field question. “I know she's Fed and all now but, never hear your name come up anymore.”

Recent shit and administrative leave. The intrigue continues. Logan's instinct, though, is not to inquire with Colette, sensing her reticence, her avoidance — much like the information she's trying to wingman his way, it's this sort of thing he takes note of to raise with Hana. Even if such queries might lead to an adamant refusal not to talk about it. Which is 100% of the time more fun.

Having shrugged off questions about jewellers — nothing you couldn't find in the community listings — Logan pauses over this one about Nicole, expression changing just so. Guarded, for the most part, as he takes the money, idly counting it. He opens the register, tucking money away almost negligently. "I imagine she's keeping her distance. She's running with a better class of character, nowadays."

Somehow, from him, this doesn't sound self-deprecating. Like having a better class of character is selling out.

That, and going into how they parted ways on very poor terms is precisely the sort of intrigue he wishes to avoid. With a neat clip, he shoves the cash register tray back into place with a rattle of loose change. "End of the month's not terribly far off," he says, wrangling the conversation back into his preferred direction. The kind where he can turn even more of a profit. "I only ask because I've gotten in some recent stock you might be keen on. Or know someone who might be keen. Not really the sort of acquisition I'd put up in a display case, either."

A look is slipped Logan’s way as Colette loops the strap for the camera bag over her shoulder. “You could be a better class of person,” his words, not hers. She still thinks more highly of him than she has any right to. “You might not be a terrible SESA agent, if you put your mind to it. Charm, brains, tactical ability.” Her shoulders rise and fall in a but what can you do about it gesture.

Blind eyes vacantly creep to view over his shoulder to the back of the business, then divert to him again. “But, I’d assumed you might’ve gone straight,” with business, she's not a monster, “after the Safe Zone’s fence went up.” Colette’s smile belies that she's glad he hasn't in her own way.

“Yeah sure, there's some personal security stuff I'd been wanting to pick up. Don't always have access to my job’s materials.” Tucking one hand into her jacket pocket, Colette offers a nod to the proverbial back room. “I might ask for some custom orders too, since you're working still. But, yeah,” she steps forward with a brisk show me the way posture.

"Perish the thought."

The back room is a narrow storage area, stone walls and storage. A neat desk with some books stacked atop of it, and a CCTV monitor take up one corner, which Logan turns on as he passes by it, throwing up a grey image of main showroom. Skinny boxes used to travel artwork are tilted against one wall. Other sundry materials simply look as though they've yet to be inventoried and priced.

Opening a discreetly placed vault, Logan turns back to her with a pistol in hand, held loosely on his palm. It's striking in that it's small, skinny, its sides smooth of anything that might snag. It's an immediately mean looking little weapon. "Got these in last week," he says, vaguely conspiratorial, taking it apart and back together with efficient clicks of metal, of which it seems to be entirely made, save for plastic insets on the grip. "PSM pistols. Russian. Good to have on you when you're not meant to, and did the rounds with the KGB. Hard to get this side of the Atlantic.

"Takes Spitzers, likewise hard to come by, but not impossible with your sorts of connections — I can throw some in. It'll bite through armor at close range, and it's got a decent little kick to it."

He offers her the gun to hold, tipped to take.

Colette takes the gun when offered, turning it around in one hand, looking down the sights at the floor. She pops out the magazine and checks the clip size, brows furrowing for a moment. “Yeah, Russian-made bullets too,” her nose wrinkles as she snaps the clip back in. “This is a cool mantle-piece thing, but,” she turns the gun around, grip to Logan. “Having something that relies on hard-to-find or imported ammo is a little impractical.” Which is exactly what Hana would say, and it’s possible she’s retained one or two lessons.

“But, it’s definitely a collector piece. I might be able to convince Epstein to get one, once he’s done being furious with me.” There’s a look from the gun to Logan. “He collects weird shit like this.” She eyes the vault, the CCTV cameras, then looks back to the PSMs. “If you’re having trouble finding a buyer, though, I’ll ask around for you. Least I can do.”

"Only a little impractical," Logan says, who takes on impracticality for style points every day, but he's taking the gun back without further protest. Worth a try. It's disappeared back into the vault, which he bats closed around when he notices Colette's glance between it, the security set up, the question that follows.

The mildest of bristles in pride follow. "Please. Wouldn't want your Major to catch on to your running my favours," he declines, smoothly, with the intent of smoothing out any notion that he might have some form of problem on his hands. "But here," and he extracts a white business card from some inner pocket, holding it out for her to take, business name and address and contact details all stamped out on sturdy off-white, "pass the word along to your friend, see if he appreciates weird shit."

Delivered with more salt and sass than fire, moving to lead her out once the card has been handed over.

Palming the card and slipping it into a pocket in her jacket, Colette shoulders the strap of the camera bag and walks beside Logan on the way out of the back. “S’really good t’see you doing this well,” she admits with a look around the store. “Especially on this side of the Hudson.” Staten Island’s cruel name isn’t invoked directly, but the two had spent more than enough time there for one lifetime. Perhaps longer lifetimes for some than others.

As if in reciprocation for Logan’s card, Colette offers the same back. A simple gray card with a stylized Wolf’s head imprinted on it. The title she bears on it is woefully out of date, but she isn’t interested in discussing her demotion with him. There’s a phone number scratched in pen on the back. “My new number while I’m here in the SZ,” she inclines her head toward the door. “If you need anything, y’know, whatever. Least I can do is help the people who’ve helped me,” and somehow Colette lumps John Logan into the category of people who’ve helped.

It’s clear, though, that she’s angling for the door. Card out, easy smile on her face, she still regards John as nothing more than the well-dressed man who has always treated her right.

Logan accepts the card, perching on the edge of his desk as he looks it over. The change in rank is striking enough that it leaps out at him right away, especially given the little hints of trouble in paradise that Colette's alluded to since she arrived, and again, the temptation to comment on it rises within him, and is once again stifled. Instead, he smiles back, a more crooked, subtler version of the one she shines at him.

"Be safe, Demsky," is what he says. The amount of living people who are of the mind that he has treated them right is not as depleted as it might have been, but still feels like valuable currency. He turns her card over as he goes to pocket it, where white scars still criss-cross his knuckles, a badge of dishonour from a past life.

Well. A somewhat past life.

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