Be Smart


logan_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Be Smart
Synopsis Sasha returns to Eltingville with little hope. Logan lends him some.
Date June 4, 2011

Eltingville Blocks: Logan's House

Eltingville Blocks is the safest place in New York City.

It depends on who you are, of course.

And Logan had, at one stage, decided he had been in that category of people for whom this applied to, but recent developments have a way of changing things around. This, anyway, is supposed to account for the briefcase lying open on his bed, the stacks of cash inside it, the plastic bags and the calculator. If the soldiers come crashing in at this hour, then he's fucked, but his technopathic radar feeds back nothing he has to worry about, and so he counts. Dollar bills are divided it up with a certain amount of experience and proficiency, dialed into his calculator, written down, fed into plastic bags and taped closed — the world's most expensive art project. The tear and shriek of stressed tape before it gets scissored off with biting teeth, the crinkling plastic, the shapes of money stacks inside like fish frozen in blocks of ice.

It's a lot of money.

And it needs to be hidden, hidden better than a suitcase under the bed or inside his wardrobe. Better yet, he needs to transform it, turn it into diamonds and gold and heroin, but the guy who said he'd speak to a guy hasn't gotten back to him and Logan needs a solution now. He has his overhead light on in his bedroom, the curtains pulled shut, and smoke making the room a little foggy from the filthy ashtray set to overflow on antique bedside table. The place is dark woods, rustic reds and golds, laundry on the ground despite its worth. He has a satin robe pulled over white wife-beater and boxers, one leg bent beneath him and the other— the scarred one— allowed to rest at its comfortable angle against the bedspread.

He pauses in his counting, staring down at the notes, and a glance at the calculator. Unless you're a telepath, you'd have no idea what mental process has caused him to pause — but he's likely just lost count, especially as he curses, and starts again.

Counting is not as mindless a task as some people claim it to be, but it requires that the person counting clear theirs of any distractions that might interfere with their ability to complete it. Sasha has tried doing something similar in his search for Tania, and although he's been successful in eliminating all his thought processes not directly related to finding his little sister, this success has brought him no tangible results. No intangible ones either, for that matter — not even a lead as to where she might be beyond Miller Airfield, and the Russian does not have the military clearance required to set foot on the tarmac.

Elsewhere in New York City, a watch shop Sarisa Kershner converted into her private New York City office has recently had its door kicked in; the only reason it isn't now a crime scene blocked off with bright yellow tape is because Sarisa Kershner wasn't there.

With Colonel Heller inaccessible and the next best thing all the way in Washington D.C., Sasha's search brings him back to where he started, and he makes no attempt not to disturb the other residents of the house when he walks in the front door because the first thing he does is slam it behind him with enough force to rattle what's on the walls.

It sounds a little like a gunshot, enough that Logan jumps, and not enough that he isn't immediately mad at himself for jumping. He also loses track of his numbers, a bitten off curse behind gritted teeth as he makes as if to throw the handful of cash at the near wall and let it scatter like confetti. He doesn't do that.

Putting the money back inside the briefcase, he pushes himself off the bed, the hem of red satin down around his knees where it hangs open, reeking of smoke, crumpled in neglect. Logan matches it a little, either under or overslept, uncomfortable, and the result of a day off from patrols and selling women to soldiers. Behind him, the light of the bedroom spills out into the hallway upstairs, but Logan doesn't make it much farther than the frame of the portal itself — he rests against the frame, curious enough and wary enough to get a glimpse ahead of whoever just entered the house from where he can see a little beyond the staircase.

Sasha, evidently, made a stop (or two) between his decision to suspend his search and his return to Eltingville; his hand catches on the back of the sofa as soon as it's within reach and he leans most of his weight into the piece of furniture as he places his other hand beside the one already gripping it. Greasy strands of red-brown hair gleaming dark in the absence of sunlight are plastered to his forehead and its sheen of sweat. He is, unsurprisingly, wearing the same clothes he left in — if Logan was closer, he might be able to smell the reek that Sasha has no doubt accumulated during his time away. He might be able to smell, too, the stink of hard liquor wafting off him and the heaviness of it on his breath. It stands to reason that if he has not showered, he also has not brushed his teeth.

He takes a few deep breaths to steady himself, searching for his center, but does not take his hands off the back of the couch, and not because he is too drunk to stand. (He isn't.)

Oh it is only Sasha. Time to slink backwards and go back to counting all the money.

Which is why Logan rocks back a step to do just that, but winds up flicking the switch to throw the room back into darkness, blank black in contrast to the smoke and the red and the gold and littered green paper, irrelevant. He doesn't shut the door all the way, but does draw it into protective half-moon concealment of the riches laid out on his bedspread. The less he has to explain about— well— anything, the better.

His bare feet creak some floorboards, but that's about as noisy as he gets before he's stepping onto solid steps that Delia had tumbled down about a week ago, pale, long fingers spidered over the polished banister.

Sasha's senses are sharp enough that he is almost certainly aware of Logan's presence before the other man's foot hits the bottommost step. In case there's any doubt, he turns his head just enough to regard Logan over his shoulder in his peripheral vision, a sliver of watery blue iris visible in the gaps between the strings of his damp hair. It curls at the tips, a sure sign it's growing too long and that it, along with his beard, are in need of a swift, remorseless trim.

If was holding on to any hope that Tania might have returned during his absence, he lets it go when he sees that there's only one figure in the stairway. Logan is too tall and too broad for Sasha to mistake him for his sister.

"You do something," he demands then in a voice that's more appropriate for the outdoors, but does not shove off the sofa to physically confront Logan — because while he can stand he isn't about to push his luck.

This is a thing that Logan should have predicted, but despite that, gentle curiousity firms and flattens into chillier irritation, drawing his posture up. This again, naturally. An order, even a vague one and coming from somewhere genuine, has him placing his heel against the edge of the step just behind him, levered up again. "Like what?" he says, with a British clippedness that suits the moment well. "Wander around, refuse to shave, give up and get drunk?" He can see it, too, a natural affinity for predators and knowing this one is less inclined than usual to use his hands to make his point.

Which is good, because Logan isn't armed or anything — although raising a gun or a knife at Sasha is only so constructive regardless. Right now, he just rises defense, bleak and, as ever, that same strange resentment that settles in whenever Tania is brought up.

It takes Sasha an additional moment to find the insult there, and when he does Logan's prediction proves true; he lacks either the energy or the inclination to do something about it, and settles with a curl of his lip and a flash of faintly uneven, yellowish teeth. He makes a sound at the back of his throat, part-cough, part-bark with no self-deprecating humour at all in it.

He raises his dominant hand from the sofa and touches the tips of two grubby fingers to his temple to concede Logan's point. I know, he means. "You know Ferry, da? When I help them as Messiah, I hear about this woman — this telepath. You find her. You put her in the little Ryans' head, da? You make her remember who took my Tania."

"It wouldn't matter."

Tying off robe around his waist, Logan finally steps fully into the living room — the purpose being to breeze on by towards where the liquor is stored along with upside down crystal cups. Not posh enough tonight to go hunting for ice, his state not that much better than Sasha's, especially on a scale from one to Logan's usual. "We know it was soldiers. If not soldiers, then the contractors, or the civilian watch blokes, or— either way, it was the people that put us here in the first place and there's not much you can do for her. What would you do, go find him? Knock on his door?"

He selects a brandy, twists the cap off, and pours. The tone of his voice isn't his usual either.

Da, Sasha is about to say. Again. Logan will hear the hiss he sucks in through his nose, hesitation punctuated by the raspy exhale that follows, but what he says instead is a painfully enunciated: "Yes."

As a matter of fact, he would knock on his door. With his boot. And then he'd shove it into his face, break his nose and kick out his teeth—

"I need names, Johnny. A face. Or else I can do nothing." Getting drunk does not count. Neglecting to shave does not count. Standing in the middle of the living room leaning into the sofa most definitely does not count, either, and the only thing keeping him from pacing the room to work off his excess energy is the fact that he has none left.

He is exhausted.

Half his drink is gone by the time Logan is getting around to thinking of responding, nose wrinkled not only at tonight's nickname, but that Sasha confirms what he's afraid of. A glance is cast over his shoulder, fingertips working along the edge of the shelf. The brandy is fragrant, even while being swallowed, filling his throat with fire briefly, tingling the roof of his mouth until the taste is worked away. The rim of the glass rests against his mouth, rolled there in a fidget before taken away again.

He turns back to Sasha, and paces closer, enough that the rank scent of binge drinking is picked up by Logan, but it doesn't deter him, coming to a halt and taking the opportunity to try and read what he can of the other man's expression. There's nothing there that's surprising.

"It sounds like Michal Valentin," he finally states, voice flat. "By the sounds've it. Short, dresses like a math teacher. Piece of work, apparently."

Michal Valentin is a name. It's also an ethnicity for what little that information is worth, and confirms what Delia told them the day Tania disappeared. Michal Valentin. Sasha mouths the name rather than speak it aloud and give it any power — or somehow alert Valentin to the fact that he's being discussed. Although Sasha has never personally enountered anyone with an ability like this, he has heard enough stories during his time with the Vanguard to put him on edge.

It isn't superstition. Not in the world they live in, and who knows what sort of people this Michal has working for him. "Why do you think he does this?" is the next thing that Sasha wants to know. It is wise to be well-armed before kicking in doors and noses and teeth, not only with weapons.

A curl of a smirk manages to soften that defense that had hardened Logan's expression, paler eyes darting to look from one of Sasha's to the other as if to detect any source of irony in baby blues. The Vanguard assassin is asking why people are being assholes. He knows Kozlow doesn't quite mean it that way, but still—

"'What if I told them about the Ferry,' Delia said." Logan lists off to the side to lean a hip against the sofa that Sasha had steadied himself upon. "Sounds like it's part've some game to do with what she knows. What her dad knows. It was bound to happen — only reason they set her up like this was to eventually squeeze her for information. But I didn't— " His clear eyes roll, showing briefly the shadows beneath them. Counting money to hide in the ceiling, in the books, in the mattress. "I thought they'd work with me." He gives a loose gesture, brandy sloshing up the sides of his glass. "Maybe Tania said something."

There are other things that are important. Other things, depending upon who you ask as long as it isn't Sasha, that are more important than Tania — and as much as Sasha loves his sister and would open his own veins for her, it occurs to him that maybe there are other things he and Logan should be doing if they haven't already been done.

He scuffs a sleeve across his face, leather scratching beard or beard scratching leather. A knuckle grazes his nose. He snuffs. "Maybe then you tell the Ferry. Warn them if Delia does not. Maybe then they will help me find this Valentin."

That gets a dry, harsh bark of laughter from Logan, his eyes entirely without mirth, his smile more teeth than warmth and sincerity. "Oh, that's just wonderful. Implicate myself where Delia already is and then have you go get yourself— locked up or killed or dog collared like the rest of them. That's a great plan, that is. No wonder you're the brains of the operation." There's a shiver to Logan's fingers and a rawness in his voice, even if anger or fear or other such corresponding emotions are all blunted down, understated, and he goes to shoulder past Sasha with what's left of his drink.

There's a dream where he's married to Tania and everything. Quiet obedient Tania, rangy limbed and pale. But it's some distance away, and Logan doesn't recall if he felt love in that dream, or if whatever it was he was feeling was even love at all. Right now, he feels cornered.

Maybe Sasha can sense it, because all of a sudden he's giving Logan additional physical space. His hand falls from the sofa and he shuffles a step toward the staircase, hooking fingers around the banister for additional support. Standing requires less effort than climbing. Chances are he'll need the assist when he decides to ascend, which isn't yet.

"Say Delia tells Valentin," he offers. "Say Valentin takes off my Tania's nails until she gives him Ferry houses. Say Valentin finds Ferry people in Ferry houses. Say Valentin takes off more nails. Fingers. Who do you think they give him then? Logan, they say. John Logan. He helps our network sometimes.

"What then?"

The look slanted back at Sasha is cynical — manipulators can detect manipulation, more often than not, even the sociopathic ones. But Logan doesn't immediately have argument for this chain of logic, if his silence is indicative, bringing up brandy to taste. He swallows. He looks at Sasha again. "If you want me t'be smart about this," he says, voice rougher from alcohol, "then you're to be smart about it too." He leaves it at that, rather than expanding any further — if Sasha is going to run out into the night after his sister and leave the door wide open, then there isn't much Logan can do to prevent him.

"You've a name, and sort've a face. I can probably find more. What else is it that you need from the Ferrymen?"

"Cooperation," says Sasha. His foot finds the first step, then the second. Thumps against the third, not quite making it on the initial pass, but a second attempt has him heaving upward. "I will be smart," he promises Logan. "Like fox or poodle or—" He makes a gesture with his hand not clutching the banister and then dismisses the thought just as quickly. Whatever animal Americans use when it comes to comparisons of intelligence is ultimately irrelevant. Logan is English and where Sasha comes from they have tigers in the snow.

"I think," he says as he eventually crests the topmost stair. "You think profound."

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