Bad Karma


astrid_icon.gif buddy_icon.gif eugene_icon.gif logan_icon.gif rex_icon.gif sylvester_icon.gif

Scene Title Bad Karma
Synopsis This is what it looks like.
Date April 10, 2018

Staten Island

A long time ago, the Hampton Inn & Suites was one of the best hotels that Staten Island had to offer. More than one hundred rooms spread over four floors lavishly decorated in an ornate, equestrian theme saw thousands of guests a year. Now it sees only a handful, and those who check in rarely check out.

Logan only glimpsed the gutted, overgrown remains of the hotel’s once sprawling grounds when he was wheeled inside, but the flashes of skeletal trees standing out against the black sky were the puzzle pieces that later allowed him to determine roughly where on the map his pin has landed. His room, such as it is, contains two things of note: a sagging bed with a frame fashioned from sodden, rotting wood, and a full grown ocelot chained to the radiator.

Rainwater leaks in from the roof and from beneath the peeling wallpaper. He can hear it drumming against the remains of the glass windows on the other side of the wooden planks that obscure his view of the outside world, and feel the moisture gathering in the air like electricity in a storm. The ocelot is about as pleased about the situation as Logan is, which is to say it is not. It sits crouched in the corner of the room furthest away from the window, paws tucked under its chest and tail curled beneath its chin. Giant, saucer-like eyes are narrowed into slits, watching him from across the floor, and a low, gravelly sound rattles in the back of the cat’s throat.

It sounds like a purr.

It isn’t.

As far as rooms to wake up in with a medical hangover under mysterious circumstance go, this one ranks among the lowest he's been in. The smell of cat piss and mouldering wood make for a potent atmosphere that Logan is slow to become immune to, and then there's the cat itself, whom Logan steers clear of. He squares himself off in the opposite corner, sitting slumped where the sagging bed meets the flaking walls.

He's staring at a steady trickle of rainwater coming down the wall, and the flicks his attention down across at the ocelot when its rising growl fills the room. Sure. This might as well be happening.

Voice scratchy in his throat, Logan says, "Yeah."


A pounding headache and roiling guts make fear hard to feel, a big wet blanket thrown over the potential for panic, but he can feel it coming, warmed with baffled anger, simmering up in the form of toxic anxiety. When he moves, it's almost as if to distract himself from it, raising a hand flat at the ocelot, as if unwilling to trust the chain that tethers it — steady — and then moving slow to get to his feet, mattress whining, bed frame creaking. He doesn't go far — just to the window, testing the boarded wood with his nails.

With his shoes, wristwatch, and lovely Louis Vuitton tuxedo jacket missing, he's down to a wardrobe of all black save for the satin back in jaguar print that nearly matches his new roommate's own pelt. More than those, he misses his cellphone, the small knife he'd carried in a pocket, and the 'magic bullet' of cocaine that is probably just as guilty for how shit he feels now as the drug that took him under.

And then, of course, what he misses most: his ability.

Not that it will do fuck all for him now. He feels along the edges of the boards, testing how fast its nailed down, his wits and movements as sodden as the sad excuse of a room he's in.

A key turns in the padlock on the other side of the door, and Logan will hear the sound of a chain loosening before gravity pulls it all the way to the floor. When it creaks open on its hinges, a tall but lanky, well-dressed man with an oil slick of thick black fills its frame. There are rumours around Staten Island that the human trafficking ring has an insider with SESA identifying vulnerable targets that the government is unlikely to miss, and this isn’t the first time he’s seen Sylvester Sandoval’s face.

He had reason to suspect Sandoval’s involvement with the remnants of Humanis First, newly rebranded Pure Earth— but now confirmation is staring him in the face.

Shoes fashioned from Italian leather carry Sylvester inside the hotel room. He appears unarmed, but as Logan knows all too well from experience, appearances are — more often than not — deceiving. If he looks closely, he might be able to make out the shape of the SESA agent’s holster and gun beneath the pressed fabric of his suit jacket.

Worse: He isn’t alone.

If Logan had any doubts as to what or who is responsible for the hangover, the next face he sees is the treacherously sweet and boyish one belonging to Rex, benefactor of champagne and harbinger of whatever-the-fuck this is. He’s no longer in his tux; a neon blue scarf is tossed around his neck in artful casualness, a sharp contrast to the dark gray of a black peacoat.

He toys with the knife from Logan’s pocket, spinning it in his fingers as his eyes move from man to cat and back again, a soft tch sound that might be taken as sympathy — or a mockery of it.

“The smell of cat piss is only mildly worse than Buddy’s cologne,” he asides to Sylvester.

“C’mon nah! C’mon!” Eugene Arrowood’s voice is familiar as the driver of the ambulance, but also as an arms dealer that wound up with some missing cargo. When his lean silhouette comes through the doorway, it’s with the taut end of a leash in both hands. “Gertie!” With one sharp tug of the leash, Eugene brings the beast on the other end to heel, and when a blocky-looking chocolate-colored Rottweiler is added to a room with an ocelot there is a distinct and visibly juxtaposition of hostile wildlife.

The ocelot — Eileen — lunges to the extent of its least and lets out a feral yowl. Gertie likewise lunges at the ocelot, but her leash is sharply yanked back and held short so she can't get within snapping distance. Restrained from one-another, the ocelot continues to yowl and howl, then begins to piss everywhere in a furious marking of its territory. The acrid musk of ocelot urine mixes with the smell of Eugene hasn't had access to running water today, stale tobacco, and wet dog.

“Oh lookee here, John-boy’s up an’ attem!” Eugene whistles as he ambles past the dilapidated bed and toward where Logan is crouched, bringing Gertie with him. The dog is brought close enough to sniff near Logan’s boots, and Eugene smiles widely in Sylvester’s direction.

Arrowood the Lesser swings a wooden chair in through the door on the heels of Eugene’s big ol’ nasty dog, legs dropped down with a clatter. He’s changed out of his paramedic getup and back into shithouse chic — denim and the decadence of John Logan’s Louis Vuitton dinner jacket, floral patterning gone dark with rain at the shoulders.

He’s scruffy and damp and has a pair of big red bolt cutters tipped back to his collar, too late to the party to catch most of what’s been said.

“Smells like the inside of a cat’s asshole in here.”

Oblivious, rumbled low and resentful under the ocelot’s howl. He slings a coil of rope down on the bed.

“Mornin’ beautiful.”

Logan watches this procession with a sort of bedraggled dignity, chin up, back against boarded windows, pale eyes flicking from face to face in a roving recognition. The SESA agent gets a once over, a sort of judgmental look up and down, shared with Rex, knife in hands. The appearance of the Arrowoods slides the last of his context into place, holding his ground when the dog snuffles on closer. Logan's eyes, lastly, settled on his much maligned, rain-stained jacket, currently straining at the seams over Buddy's shoulders.

The last figure closes the door behind her; Astrid's grin is bright in the boarded over gloom, hair left to tumble loose about her shoulders, which are clad in faux-fur. Her makeup has survived an evening of both ambulance chase and sleep, messy black smudged back into place by her fingertips. She sets her back to the door and stretches her arms above her head, lazily sinuous, clawed hands gripping either elbow.

Immune, apparently, to screaming cats, and the aura of chaos this crowd seems to generate just by standing in such close proximity.

Logan, however, is not, holding fast where he stands by the window, hands reaching backwards so that he might lean on the sill. In defiance of casual affect, his knuckles have gone slightly white with his grip. "Gentlemen," he says, "lady." His voice sounds like his whole chest has been smoked out from sheer dehydration. "What can I do for you." Step into my office.

Sylvester will play along.

“We were hoping you could help us locate some stolen property,” he says, moving deeper into the room. Wet carpet squelches under his shoes.

Buddy’s right. It does smell like a cat’s asshole in here, and he’s reaching into his jacket pocket for the handkerchief he keeps there. He raises it to his nose and mouth, hoping to stifle the stench.

This stupid fucking cat.” Not the stolen property he’s referring to in this particular instance. For one thing, it belongs to Alister Black. For another, he needs no assistance locating it; it’s a paw’s swipe away from his expensive trousers, so Sylvester kicks out at the ocelot with enough force to produce a scream from the animal when the heel of his shoe connects with its nose. Ears flattened against it skull, Logan’s cellmate beats a quick, slinking retreat under the bed.

The handkerchief stays right where it is, and although Sylvester’s voice is muffled by the cloth, his words are clear. “The guns, John. Where are they?”

Rex lofts a brow when John’s eyes slide along his frame, lips ticking up and sideways into a feigned apologetic smirk. He looks down at his hands, using the point of the knife to carve out a smudge of dirt from beneath his thumbnail.

His coal-dark eyes slide over as Sylvester speaks through the handkerchief, before flicking back to Logan to watch for his reaction.

“On the bright side,” he says, with a nod to Buddy in the designer jacket, “the Vuitton won’t be damaged.” Much.

Eugene is quiet while Sylvester asks the pointed questions. Instead, the scruffy, sweat-streaked ex-Marine crouches down beside his dog, nearby to the interrogation. Stubby fingers scratch dirty nails at the side of the dog’s ear, and he looks up to Logan with a wide, but thin smile. There’s a certain doglike characteristic to Eugene’s expression, the way he presses his tongue against the side of his mouth, the way he keeps looking to Sylvester the way a dog might to an owner awaiting permission to play. The only visible difference is Eugene isn’t leashed, physically or metaphorically. He’s just well-behaved.

Buddy slings down the bolt cutters next, the shrieking of rusty bedsprings answered with an evil hiss. This frees up both of his hands for him to sidle sideways through friends and family, breaking the circle past Sylvester to press in on Logan and his window. Filthy piss water bubbles up beneath the squelch of his boots.

He’s close enough for John to hear a stitch pop when he flexes up into his personal space, one tattooed paw kneaded hard into the meat of his shoulder, reassuring-like on its way to biting further back into the scruff of his neck instead. Just getting a grip.

For now.

The guns, John! He rolls a wad of gum between his back teeth, brow furrowed aside in anticipation of his friend’s good good answer.

Logan's bright eyed focus on Sylvester doesn't waver (which had become very intent, sharp, at mention of The Guns) even as Buddy drops his paw down onto his shoulder, finds purchase at his neck. There's a twitch to Logan's mouth as that grip holds fast, muscles concrete-tense beneath it, coiling resistance visible in the rise of his shoulders, the flare of his nostrils.

Even so. A thin smile writes across his face. He drops his gaze sideways to where the greater Arrowood and dog crouch nearby, then back to Sandoval.

"S'always in the last place you look," Logan says, teeth shown between consonants. "Lost things. Have you tried retracing your steps?"

“You’re deflecting,” says Sylvester. “That’s interesting.” He looks to Buddy and the bolt cutters, and gives the other man a nod. Permission, an order, an invitation — it’s difficult for Logan to get a firm feel of the dynamic at play between the individuals in the room, other than that they all have one thing in common.

Not one of them has an ability.

It would have been a bad sign during the war, and it’s still a bad sign now.

“I like order, John. I like science. Numbers. The silent rules of the universe that make it easy to understand.” Sylvester plucks at the tips of his gloved fingers, loosening the leather. “I’m a big believer in ecosystems.” He tugs one glove off, and then the other. They fold, neatly, and find a new, temporary home in his jacket pocket. “We’re all standing in the middle of one right now. You, me, the Arrowoods, our girl Astrid. And we all have important roles to play so everything stays this way. Tidy.

“Please don’t make me fuck up the ecosystem.”

“Don’t start with his face,” Rex says to Buddy. “He may be an asshole, but he’s nice to look at.”

Rex leans back against the wall next to Astrid, where she’s holding up the doorway. His head tips as Sylvester begins to speak.

He makes another tch sound. “What am I, chopped liver?” he whines to Astrid, giving that blade in his hand another twirl and looking at Sylvester’s back with narrowed eyes, like he might be considering throwing it at the SESA agent, rather than the guest of honor.

Sylvester is smart, good with words, carries himself with a sophisticated menace that demands respect. Eugene Arrowood is his diametric opposite. Loosening his grip, ever so subtly, on his dog’s leash it is able to get within muzzle range of Logan. The dog ambles up, starts sniffing at John’s knees excitedly, nosing around along his thigh, up.

“Don’ worry yer pretty little face, Rex. Mah’ girl starts low and goes high, like the pigs.” Eugene flashes a smile to Logan at that. “Don’ worry nah though, we ain’t gonna kill ya’ll here. There’s plenty a’you t’go round!” Wheezing out a laugh, Eugene scratches at the side of his head and seems to be overly enthusiastic toward the situation.

Gum clamped flat at the back of his jaw, Buddy dislodges John from his ivory wit tower with a shove forward, short and sharp — just enough to jack him off balance. He finds a fresh grip around one elbow and in leopard print, satin cut in like a harness to haul the antiques peddler near off his feet — over Eugene’s damn dog and his snuffling jaws — across the room.

Bucking, kicking, biting — one way or another, between Buddy the rock and Astrid the hard place, Logan’s getting stuffed down into the bloodstained chair they prepared earlier.

“For the record,” he says, gruff between them, knuckles twisted to hold fast until they can get him bound, “I voted against abduction.”

And belted deeper down from his diaphragm:

C’mon Oedipus!”

Get the rope. No telepathy required — everyone here has their talents. Buddy breaks one hand off long enough to pat too rough at Logan’s cheek.

“Try not to get too excited.”

Logan doesn't appreciate being the recipient of a fucking monologue, or dog snot tracked up his nice trousers, or this, either, his muscles immediately locking in protest against able manhandling as he hisses a barely perceptible fuck off between his teeth. It slips, that attempt at cool and aloof, as the prospect of talking his way out of this seems to slip away as quickly as the distance between himself and the chair that Buddy hauls him to. One rough night is enough, however, for scrambled attempts at fighting back to be efficiently overruled.

And Astrid makes the necessary bounding steps to help set her claws in, a hand to shoulder to see him sitting down as needed with a wrench of strength. The grin she'd flashed at Rex remains, hair tossing as she looks back towards him as Buddy summons. "You know what's gonna make you feel better?" she says. "Shopping. I know about one shitty junk store," her grip on Logan sharpens, "that's going on clearance."

Threats to his store will probably smart, later, but for now, Logan is forced to acknowledge things like the bolt cutters he'd been ignoring up until now, and the change in dynamic of not being on his feet any longer. His jaw is set tight between taunts like he is very close to biting any hand that comes near him again. He doesn't.

He does say, to Sylvester, suddenly vicious, "You want to talk about tidy when you made a big fucking mess letting those guns fall off the back of your fucking truck. Your ecosystem being, what, white trash too fucking stupid to know who to blame."

Probably a good strategy, this.

“Okay,” says Sylvester. “Let’s try something that’s a little more grounded in your present reality, shall we?” He comes around the back of the chair Buddy wrestled Logan into and rests both his hands on the Englishman’s shoulders. His touch is light—

Until it isn’t.

He digs into the muscle there with the decisiveness of a practiced masseur, and maybe this might feel good under different circumstances. The SESA agent’s thumbs knead hard circles at the base of Logan’s neck while Buddy and Astrid tighten the ropes affixing him to the chair. “We’re missing seven pistols. You have ten fingers, so Buddy’s going to let you have the first three for free.”

He reaches up to tangle his fingers in Logan’s hair from behind, wrenching his head back. “I want the names of your buyers. One name buys you one finger. Two names buys you two fingers. And so on, and so on — cooperate and you can still walk out of here whole.”

“My skin tone,” Rex says with a sigh of ennui, eyes down on his nails as he continues his manicure, “is much too olive to be white trash. Mediterranean trash, maybe. I’m at least shabby chic, though, let’s be honest.”

He looks up, lips curving into a smirk as Astrid bounds forward like one of the excitable pit bulls, then grimaces at the threat. There’s no sympathy for Logan, in that expression, though.

“So you knew they belonged to us and took them anyway,” he feels the need to point out. “That’s not really helping your case, darling.”

Smiling fondly, Eugene drags his dog aside and leans by a nearby wall, keeping the leash short and tight so that the hound doesn’t lunge when things inevitably start to get noisy and bloody. “Ya’ll tried t’make a fool of us, John-boy. Now we can go’n do that just fine enough on our own, but that’s foolin’ on our own terms. Consensual foolin’.” Eugene’s brows raise, and he leans his weight back against the wall fully, looking relaxed. “This here gun theft? That ain’t casual, an’ that ain’t consensual.”

Sniffing noisily, Eugene scrubs one hand under his nose. “Nah I don’t think you take us for a lyin’ bunch, what when it comes t’breaking people’s parts off. But— ” Eugene’s speech is interrupted by a feral yowl of an ocelot from under the bed, and a waft of urine-musk. “Jesus Christ,” Eugene curses with one hand over his mouth and nose, his entire train of thought derailed.

Ankles bound to the chair legs with knees apart, wrists to the rests, Buddy takes a lurching step backwards away from a fresh cloud of piss at crouch-level. Up there lie the bolt cutters — he swings them up out of the bedding, shoulders hitched uneven, rusty jaws dangled down past his knee.

“That fuckin’ cat pokes its head out I’m gonna shoot it.” Fair warning. He looks square at Astrid when he says so.

And to the room at large, in the wake of Sylvester’s ultimatum:

“Stupid is as stupid does.” Stealing guns from the Mean Team non-consensually? Stupid. “We lettin’ the dog gobble him first or you just want me to start choppin’ off fingers?”

Logan gives a protesting grunt as Sylvester wrenches his head backwards, muscles coiled around bone like an electric shock that makes rope and wood both creak. From here, all he can see is water-stained ceiling, and all he can hear is redneck banter that, beneath the latest shock of adrenaline in his blood, sounds a little like its coming through a thick fog, at a distance.

Hears enough, though. On one hand, scars stripe his fingers from the last time he'd been in a position just like this one, several years back, and now all ten fingers curl inwards as if that might help.

"Hey, I'll shoot you in the dick," is coming from Astrid, meanwhile, offended at the idea of someone killing a most precious kitty, and possibly the only one in the room unbothered by the latest waft of feline piss stench. Or making a good show of it. "If you kick her and aggro her with your fucking dogs, of course she's gonna piss everywhere. God." Stomp, stomp, stomp, she's moved around to the end of the bed, braving the ammonia reek by ducking down and making some soothing, cat-friendly sounds.

"Buyer," Logan says, on the back of that. His voice sounds smaller than it did before. Fear is a strangling quality. "Just one buyer." He swallows, dryly. "Te— Teodoro Laudani. He took them off my hands. Sold them off-shore."

The name Teodoro Laudani narrows Sylvester’s dark eyes to slits.

It’s always the untouchable war hero, isn’t it? “That depends on how he clarifies his answer,” he tells Buddy, because he’s not sure he buys this particular story.

He does not, however, have any evidence to the contrary. So.

“You sold all seven pistols to Teodoro Laudani,” he repeats, as if saying the words back to Logan might make him reconsider their authenticity. “And Teodoro Laudani, former Phoenix operative, former Ferrymen operative, teen heartthrob on The River Styx, sold them off-shore?”

Against all likelihood, Logan near laughs. Rusty, creaky, but Sylvester can see his canines in the grimace-smile that Teodoro's IMDB page inspires. "So you're a fan," he says. Swallows, hard. "Used to work for me, long time ago. Not anymore, just favours on the side. S'yeah, that's the one."

For selling someone out, it comes relatively easy. But then again, his fingers are on the line, and the rest of him, and as far as shakedowns go, this one might be considered hard mode.

“Mm, he is finer in person.” Rex feels like he needs to share with the class, fanning himself as if he might swoon from the memory of meeting Mr. Laudani in person.

If he does faint, it’ll be from the stench of the ocelot urine.

The fluttering lashes stop, though, and his eyes narrow. “Funny thing, though, John. At the little soiree, it sure seemed like you hadn’t seen each other in quite a while. I’m thinking,” his dark eyes slide over to Sylvester, “that John here just threw us the first name that popped into his drug-addled mind, maybe the last person on his mind before the tranqs kicked in.”

He winks at Logan. “Besides me, of course,” he says, in that faux-sweet tone, before the coy smile slips off his face once more. “Try again. It really would be a national tragedy if something happened to your face.”

“My dick ain’t the one turnin’ this interrogation into a fuckin’ shower scene outta Auschwitz, Astrid!”

Buddy twists at the hip, free hand bladed back up at his own chest. Tears sting at the corners of his indignant squint.

“You wanna’ a finger, Raymond?” Eugene asks of the dog heeled nearby in a sweet, baby voice. “Hm? Hmm? You wanna’ get daddy a finger?” Eugene crouches beside the broadly-built dog, patting it firmly on the back while making eye contact with Logan. “Huh? You wanna’ finger girl? Huh?” Eugene’s voice increases in tempo and pitch, the patting getting more aggressive and the dog responds in like turn, becoming more and more aggressive and wound up until she starts barking and yowling in Logan’s direction.

The dog’s howling and barking only elicits a further nightmare yowl from the ocelot under the bed, which turns the entire hotel room into either a wildlife video or a particularly good episode of Cops, depending on which side of the yowling you’re on. “C’mon girl! C’mon! Who wants a finger!?” Eugene, too, begins yowling along with the dog, their faces side-by-side.

All this finger talk from Eugene has Buddy Arrowood’s brows peaked up at an uncomfortable slant, his scruffy chin tucked in a moment of private distaste set to to the orchestral accompaniment of a dog and his brother and a hellcat howling together. There’s only one direction for all this feeling to go, and that’s right down the barrel at John.

He hefts the bolt cutters back up onto his shoulder, left hand crossed over right to find a grip on the outer handle. It has the look of a preparatory motion about it — sines and parabolas playing out in the grind of sparks behind Buddy’s blue eyes, and the grit of his jaw.

Half a stutter step off home plate and a choke up on the grips brings him into the sweet spot — he hikes the cutters back over his shoulder and hatchet-chops the closed jaws down into Logan’s shin with all his might, breath growled out at a huffing grunt. A second, shorter, stouter swing whollups him in the gut, garnished with a spray of hot spittle.

Using ‘em wrong.

The room seems to shrink around Logan under the weight of Rex's inconveniently astute observations that a moment ago he had been hoping to exploit, but also: the baying of dogs and white trash, from Eugene's howling to Astrid's protesting obscenities flung Buddy's way, to the thick smell of ammonia and rot in the air, and the taste of copper of his own rising adrenaline. Sweat stands out cold on his brow, the dog's barking and the ocelot's screaming raking over his nerves like a violin bow on overwound strings, the sensory overload enough that he misses what Buddy is doing until he, well.

The cutters come down and Logan's shriek has no dignity in it, shuddering against the binds that keep him lashed to the chair, and the second swing is a silencing one, a retching sound following as he bows forward, taking a gasping breath of the putrid air.

It's enough to make one miss the Triad.

"He fights sometimes," he says, words gasped out in small manageable chunks, making himself small in the chair. "Crucible. We was just— at the gala, that was banter. Pretending. Try not to move in— same circles in good company." He manages to roll his stare around to find Rex with eye contact, an impossible flicker of humour in watering pale eyes. "He's an idiot." Is his leg broken. It feels broken. Beneath black pant leg, blood streams, soaks into socks, makes a smudge of the ground where his heel touches carpet.

Astrid, who remains crouched like a gargoyle by the bed, arms on her knees, flicks a look to Sylvester, raising on sharp eyebrow. They do know that Laudani favours the little Staten Island colosseum. Some of this checks out.

"Fuck," Logan adds, presently, swallowing back a nausea-induced excess of saliva.

It’s enough for Sylvester. “Okay,” he says. “Okay.” The snarl of his fingers clutching at Logan’s hair grows slack as he releases him, if only to wipe the other man’s sweat off his hand and onto his trouser leg. He’s thinking he probably should have kept his gloves on.

“We’ll look into it.” This is the part where relief should flood into Logan’s system, except his body knows better than to relax. His brain, too, even if it’s a little slower to catch up. “In meantime, I want you to do a little work for us, pay off some of that debt before it starts to accumulate.”

The words sound like they’re coming from the end of a long, dark tunnel, made tinny and distorted by the endorphins coursing through the Englishman’s bloodstream. “Your ability, it’s— interesting. Multifaceted in the way that most Class B Biological abilities are, but that’s not what’s uncommon about it. It’s your niche, John. The things you can do in tandem with each other. I’m really looking forward to seeing it in action.”

He completes his circle around the chair, flanking Buddy and the bolt cutters. “But there’s still one thing I want to know before we start a serious business relationship.” His eyes flick between the Buddy’s grip and Logan’s face, and settle on the latter, studying his expression for anything that might give him away. “Who did you buy them from? Because I sure as shit know you’re not stupid enough to steal from us.”

Once released, Logan folds in on himself in his seat, shoulders curled beneath the strain of fine black cotton and gaudy leopard print satin. Tense as he is, its borderline impossible to tell that renewed tension is coiling up around his shoulders as words of debt and work, slanting a look to the side to track Sylvester's movements as he listens. Hackles rising, all lean lines and dangerous warning, the kind of posturing they'd probably attribute to the ocelot under the bed. Not that there is much he can do to follow through — his teeth are blunt, and his hands still lashed to the arms of the chair.

In the back of his mind, he remembers the girl's voice like a bell, rising in defensiveness: People will pay.

And Sasha, gruff, dismissive: People cannot afford. Stupid girl.

It's almost routine, casting about in his mind for some other scapegoat, someone who isn't Sibyl Black. Sibyl Black, who'd climbed in through the fire escape of his cluttered Bay Ridge apartment, looking for somewhere to hide after her last encounter with the Arrowoods, and somehow arriving at the conclusion that his was the best place for it. He'd said to Sasha: Smart girl. Clever girl.

It occurs to him he's not said anything for some seconds, long enough for Sylvester, maybe the rest of them, to know he's attempting to come up with something. To hide something. Logan's next breath out is almost a laugh, fingers curling in against his cool palms.

"Go fuck yourself," he says, as his final answer.

Sylvester is disappointed, but unsurprised. He recognizes the finality in Logan’s voice for what it is and flattens his mouth into a more transmutable expression. Disguising what’s set in his eyes is a little harder; they’re dark, darker than they had been, and abruptly cold as a snake’s.

“That’s a shame,” he says, “but if you won’t talk, maybe one of your other associates or Laudani will.”

His hand finds Buddy’s shoulder. “Take whichever one you like,” he adds, and let there be no doubt: they’re talking about Logan’s fingers again. “The one you think he’s going to miss the least, if you’re feeling generous.

“I’m not.”

There’s another tsk sound from Rex, a quiet reprimand for the answer — or lack thereof — Logan gives to the question.

He glances at his watch (a Bvlgari, if a bit scratched) and then reaches into his jacket’s liner pocket for a syringe. “Time for medicine in more ways than one. We don’t want that nasty ability of his to wake up early, after all,” he says, moving forward in a fluid motion.

The administration of the negation drug is much less graceful; the needle is unceremoniously plunged into Logan’s arm, plunger depressed, and just as roughly pulled out again. He winks at Logan as he withdraws again, giving the bolt cutters a glance and an overly dramatic shudder that’s purely for effect.

Exasperation flusters the end of a gruff exhalation ragged — disbelief in the idle swing of Buddy’s bolt cutters while Sylvester grips his shoulder.

“That’s loyalty,” he approves, meaningful-like, while Rex sweeps in to see to negation.

“But you don’t just chop off the whole finger.” A flex of his elbows sees the jaws opened up, notched edges glinting silver through the black of the coating. “You start at the end and work your way in. Like eatin’ a candy bar.”

Rex still has the needle in Logan’s arm when Buddy steps in close enough to fish after the tip of Logan’s right pinkie finger with the cutters. He’s not delicate or precise, snapping them shut with a little wet pop through the bone when he’s close enough to the top knuckle to pass snuff. Whatever flailing ensues, he keeps put, jaw grit, one knee between Logan’s, bolt choppers anchored right back down into the blood slick arm of the chair in search of that next knuckle.

“It’s a nasty business ain’t it, Johnboy.” Low and close, beer sour on his breath.

In the struggle, that first bit o’ disconnected finger rolls down to the floor, where it’s easily snausaged up into the maw of Eugene’s hungry bitch.

“Now on a count of three…”

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