Better Late Than Never


logan_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Better Late Than Never
Synopsis Logan and Sasha arrive at an agreement on what to do about Sarisa Kershner's offer.
Date July 16, 2010

Piece of Cake Bakery

The front room of the bakery is a long and narrow one. A great glass window covers the wall facing the street, so that anyone outside can see in. The door is glass as well; on bright days the shop is filled to the brim with sunshine. Drop lamps abovehead help at night, casting a warmer and softer light. Classic black and white tiling collects smudges more often than not on the floor and walls. In the back is a hallway which leads further to the kitchen, a small bathroom for customers to use, and a set of creaky stairs that go up to the second floor. The entire building is warm, and the air is redolent with the scents of pastry both savory and sweet, cookies, muffins, chocolate and fruit, bread and more.

A long, waist-high counter is on the left after stepping inside. The top is flat so purchases can be set down, and baked goods of all sorts are on display inside. Down at the far end is the cash register: leaving means walking past all the tempting wares all over again. Though it isn't particularly fancy, a coffee machine next to the register has a sign that reads "Donations": the cups and plain coffee are free, but change dropped inside goes to local charities. Three small bistro tables sit along the right wall; it's a tight fit, but three (or four if they're close friends) people can sit at each to enjoy a bite before going on their way. A bell above the door jangles merrily whenever it's opened.

It's easy to blow fifty dollars at a bar. Doing the same at a bakery presents more of a challenge, but — true to form — Sasha Kozlow has risen to the occasion, drowning his sorrows instead in butter and shortening. Sprinkled with crumbs, a tower of empty plates stacked as tall as his forearm sits dangerously close to the table's edge, surrounded by a fortress of crumpled paper napkins covered in chocolate fingerprints and smears of icing.

A fork clicks irritably against the dish in front of him as he uses it to saw through a lopsided piece of red velvet cake smothered in dense buttercream frosting and pointedly ignores the server refilling his cup of coffee for the fifth time this evening.

They were supposed to close ten minutes ago, but the women behind the counter either don't have the heart to evict him yet or realize that keeping the bakery open for another half hour is more lucrative (and probably safer) than the alternative.

Jangle merry jangle, goes the bell above the door, and Logan is glancing about the place before he sees Sasha as its lone patron, raising an eyebrow. Had half imagined the Russian to be kidding, over the phone, but no. No, this is where he said he was, and this is where he is. Logan has since changed since they were last together, dressed for an evening of work in a fitted black suit, a shirt of the same tone to blend in with its shadows, the silken neckscarf of inky black and white spots tucked to disappear behind buttons. He peels off his unnecessary sunglasses, flashes a hesitant smile to the broad at the counter, and moves towards where the Russian is set up.

Inviting himself to sit down, hands adjusting his jacket as he does, Logan glances over the sugar that Sasha seems to be forcing down, and nodding to the bakery employee when a spare cup and jug of coffee is lifted in offer. Once that's sorted, Logan sets down mirrored glasses, picks up cup, and repeats what he'd said over the phone: "We should talk."

This is momentarily derailed by a blink towards the stack of emptied plates. "Was this all you?"

Logan receives a grunt of affirmation in response. Sasha has the courtesy, at least, to chew with his mouth closed after stuffing a forkful of cake inside. He doesn't always. Rather than reach for another napkin — the dispenser is empty — he uses the back of his hand to scrub the residue from the corner of his mouth, but fails to dislodge all the specks from his mustache or beard. One of the many disadvantages of wearing facial hair, even if he doesn't seem to mind.

He swallows, runs his tongue across his front teeth and keeps his eyes on the prize, a wild animal gorging himself at his kill. He's not started posturing yet, so that's something. "I do not think there is much to talk about," he says, hacking off another thick chunk of cake with his fork.

Fortunately for Sasha, Logan looks vaguely sickened — so no attempts (yet) at procuring a plastic fork for himself and digging in. As it stands, Logan looks vaguely wary that maybe it'll all come up on his shoes if he's not careful, and just takes a sip of black coffee, vaguely intolerant of this setting but not about to attempt not to drag the hungry, hungry Sasha off his cake. What was it that French noble said, anyway?

"There is," Logan corrects, smoothly, as if expecting a little belligerence and having arrived prepared for it. His pale eyes are cool in their assessing stare across the table, chin up and posture consciously perfect. "Like what you're going to say to the CIA within however many hours you've got left."

Chewing with his mouth closed muffles rather than eliminates the sound of cake saturated with saliva being mashed between Sasha's teeth. It only stops when he picks up his cup and washes it down with a swig of coffee, and at this point Logan might want to question whether he's tasting anything at all or simply eating for the sake of eating. The no smoking sign hung beneath the front counter stops him from fishing around in his leather jacket for a cigarette and betrays unspoken affection for either the establishment or the women who run it in spite of his brusqueness toward them.

He sets the cup back down on the corner of a rumpled napkin that looks like it has a splash of custard on it. "She threatened my Tania."

Logan doesn't think that's what you're going to say to the CIA, Sasha, but impatience is quelled with another sip of coffee, fingertips rapping against the porcelain edges. "Yes," he says, after a moment. "In a binary opposition sort of way. Personally, I think you might want to worry about yourself a little more," is of course the advice that Logan would offer, too. He still has family, also in some far flung corner of the globe — whether he'd bat an eye as to them being used as bargaining chip or not is something that might need to be tested under scientific conditions.

"So?" the Brit prompts.

Finally, Sasha sets down his fork and raises his eyes from his plate. They fixate on Logan's face as he drapes one arm across the other, elbows resting at the edge of the table and big hands slack. So. "Two years of my life," he says, "I languish," someone is using big words today, "in a military hospital in St. Petersburg because of my government and its failures. This one— it is no better."

The wooden legs of his chair creak, a subtle shift in weight. "I dislike uniform. Command structure. If I do this thing, for my Tania, then I do it from inside."

Logan glances down and away, before setting his coffee aside. Across the table, it seems like he might place hand on Sasha's wrist — but stops shy by a few inches, fingers splayed but still relaxed, hovering from where his wrist rests against the surface.

"It doesn't have to be forever," he says. "Long enough for us to figure out what to do with your Tania. Hide her, whatever. And then we can figure out what to do from there, can't we? Maybe your new Messiah friends will have a few ideas." His smile is a little hesitant, which is surprising, hardly ever particularly nervous when not visibly on the backfoot, but maybe they are, suddenly. Logan's world doesn't tend to include the Central fucking Intelligence Agency very often.

"Abigail Beauchamp says she is good at hiding people," Sasha reminds Logan, his tone somewhat hollow. He doesn't sound particularly optimistic about their prospects. "I will see Kershner tomorrow and make arrangements. If you do not hear from me in a week, assume she is a snake and I am dead. Also that the man who owns her den may wish to know he has a trespasser."

His wrist gives a brief twitch, and a moment later his hand is drawing away and slipping callused fingers into his jacket pocket for the wallet he keeps there. Although the server hasn't yet brought him his receipt, he has a rough estimate of how much he owes and counts out several faded bills, one of them held together with a piece of transparent tape that glimmers under the bakery's soft light. "It is too bad we did not catch you in Mexico," he says then. "Perhaps things would be different. Better, for both of us."

Logan's long nose wrinkles a little at the mention of Abigail, but doesn't speak on it, gaze drifting off in thought and letting his chin rest in the palm of his hand. He glances, after, towards where Sasha is dishing up the cash for his tragic baked goods binge, corner of his mouth quirking up before he meets his gaze again. "Well, you've got me now," he says. "Better late than never. Look, one good move on their part doesn't define the game, and no first move is to anyone's advantage. And forget what the agent dyke says — it's always a negotiation.

"You should get to work on sleeping off your imminent sugar hangover before she comes calling, regardless." Leaving half his coffee unfinished and letting Sasha pay for that, too, Logan scrapes his chair out to stand, fingers straightening out the lines of his suit.

Sasha rises from his seat at the table with a squeak of wood on tile and tosses the cash down next to his half-finished cake and discarded fork. There's enough to cover the cost of the entire meal — if it can be called a meal at all — including Logan's miniscule contribution to the bill. He's not sure how he's going to acquire a hangover from eating himself sick. Passes off the other man's unique choice of words as an English colloquialism that only a native speaker would understand, dismissing it with a low snort.

"I will sleep," he concedes. "Your couch. Is it occupied?"

"If you don't puke on it, or in my car on the way there," Logan starts, folding up his sunglasses and tucking them into a pocket, "then it's all yours, Ruskie." A glance passed to the lady waiting to go home contains a brief wink of thanks for watching~ him or the like, before Logan is leading the way out the store, hands tucked into slacks pockets and footsteps sharp and authoritive on the hard ground.

For the second time since the bakery was supposed to close, the bells above the door rattle merrily, and Sasha follows Logan outside onto the damp pavement and the shadows beyond the pool of yellow light bleeding out from the storefront's great glass windows.

Inside, two of the women converge on the table to clear the dirtied plates and count the cash while the third locks the door behind the men and hastily flips the sign over before they can decide that they might like something to go.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License