Big Fish, Little Pond


ghost2_icon.gif logan_icon.gif

Scene Title Big Fish, Little Pond
Synopsis "Why don't you ever take me anywhere nice?!" "Could you go and get my mistress onto suicide watch? He's gone." "Gay."
Date June 16, 2009

Staten IslandThe Happy Dagger

This building used to be a dance club a decade or more ago, and was later outfitted into a strip bar up until the bomb hit New York City and Staten Island became a refuge of the panicked people of New York City. After this neighborhood fell to ruin, the strip bar went out of business and was sold easily to a young man from Britain with similar but less legitimate intentions for the place. And so it became The Happy Dagger, a brothel that makes no claim to be otherwise, and a bright spot on a street with similar venues, lit up with lights of pink, red and orange, with a neon sign in cursive print reading its name.

Two strapping bouncers allow people through after a quick identity check, down a dark corridor wherein people seem to move in and out continually. The front room is crowded, more nightclub than brothel. There's a bar in the corner, and stages of different shapes and heights create obstacles, along with a quieter lounge area separated only by saloon style doors. Women dance aloofly or mingle with the clientele, marked as employees of the Happy Dagger by their costuming. There is a Middle Eastern bent in style, with warm colours and lights, women with Cleopatra eyes, wearing more silks than sequins, decked in Hollywood-exotic stage jewelry. The insincerity of this place is palpable. There's spiral staircase at the other end of the large area, a structure swathed in red light and eye-catching.

Upstairs is a catacomb of dark hallways and bedrooms of various sizes. It seems less like a strip club and more like the brothel it boasts to be, with more elaborate interior design. Curtains of silk and chiffon, incense making the air hazy, the walls papered with golds and reds. Women linger in the hallways to catch the strays who come up here alone and guide them to appropriate rooms.

Breaking the illusion of decadence is the occasional security camera hidden in the corner. This place is not without it's safety measures, beyond the bouncers. You may also notice that the man enjoying a drink in the corner hasn't gotten up in a while, and another prowling around outside hasn't moved from this street. The security is kept discreet and unobtrusive, but it certainly is there.

During daylight hours, the Dagger has the air of a closed down theme park ride. Tubes of neon lights are dull and ordinary when they aren't vibrant with offensive colour, the windows are dim and hollow to look at, and the usual movement that characterises a place that seems to continually seethe with people is gone.

Just like a theme park ride, however, flick on a few switches and open the doors and all that changes. It's perhaps an hour before that's due to happen, sunlight that has to struggle through an overcast sky attempting to light up the Rookery more than it deserves. Moving across the street mostly bare of traffic that isn't already on foot, Logan is holding a paper cup, sealed with plastic, of strong, murky coffee. Breakfast of champions, even if it's late afternoon. His all black attire is reasonably sedate save for the velvet of his jacket and the pricetag that came with each item, and he avoids puddles of water where he can help it as he makes his way to the front door, currently unmanned by bouncers.

Inside, it's a bit like backstage, or an emptied theatre before a performance. A few people drift around, here and there, security and whores alike. Some even live here.

Normally, Ghost does not. Live here, that is. However, he's here this afternoon and looks like he has been awhile— be as it may that his clothes are different to the rain-sodden set he had driven Doctor Ray over in. He's sitting, fully-clad in black upon the stage where there are usually women losing their clothes, the heels of his boots dangling over and unaccountably middle-aged face tilted downward.

Not downcast, mind you. His expression is almost peacefully quiescent, brow relaxed, studying the scudded riming of orange pulp that remains on the wall of his glass. It would appear that he'd taken a healthy breakfast, while making himself small and keeping his parts out of the way of the waitresses, cleaning staff, and any of the girls who tend to like to get a little jogging or whatever the fuck done before the workday.

It is fun to watch them bounce around inside their powder blue tracksuits, until orange juice invades his attention. Possibly, the ghost— Teodoro Laudani— whatever face and name he's going by, these days— is growing senile in his old age. Still, he's sharp enough looking up at the sight and sound of John Logan's arrival when it comes tapping in through the Dagger's facade.

"Buongiorno. Sleep well?"


Logan's meandering trajectory veers towards the greeting, drink clasped between two hands and eyeing the abandoned bar over there and possibly contemplating if a Bloody Mary wouldn't go amiss. That's a lot like breakfast too - it has a lot of key componants. Later, maybe, taking a sip of expresso from the ex-Starbucks across the road that goes by no real name and is perhaps owned by the same criminals that run the underground gambling den just next to it and still manages to sell coffee because, well, even criminals need their fix.

And maybe they're Italian. Speaking of which— "Can't shed it, can you? Or maybe that's a coincidence," Logan says, assuming Ghost is sharp enough to follow that particular train of thought. Assuming he isn't, the pimp makes a vague, reeling gesture with his hand, as if to physically cut through the non-communicative hazy wall being hungover generally brings. "The Italianing."

There's the slam of the front door, and cackling laughter drifts down the corridor, feminine and slightly stoned. The clack-clack-clack of multiple highheels drifts beneath it, Logan only glancing towards where two women enter through into the room, arm in arm, their faces already painted for the day. One spies them, waves a hand to the two men if only because one of them pays them, before they're disappearing into the more mysterious backways of the brothel to get ready for the evening.

"Your friend cleared out yet?" Logan thinks to ask, turning his attention back to Ghost.

Ghost rubs the back of a forefinger across his eye, squeezes a few creases into it, before his gaze pops wide again. The arm-linked women reflect faintly off the side of his pale eyes, but he doesn't look.

"I don't know how to explain. It's useful when people think I'm Teodoro Laudani." Their Teo he means, but elaborating would probably just weaken his case or overcomplicate its presentation unnecessarily. He motions with scarred fingers toward the dull wine color of the ceiling, indicating the eestablishment that stretches above. Edward, for instance. "I'll stop when it isn't." The Italianing. "Why do you keep the British?"

Ghost's hand falls, arm bridging his knee again. Mental discipline seems to carry over where physical fitness failed to confer itself over the decade's leap of time-travel: Ghost can't quite bring himself to slouch, despite there's the intimation of laziness hanging cobwebbed and misty all around him. Friend. It either helps or hurts his case, that Ghost can't stop the smile that twists his face at Logan's judicious application of the term. "No. He's either sleeping or doing something unimaginable underneath the covers, I'm sure. Do you mind?"

"Not particularly, although Viv might be kicking him down to the basement in a few hours." Which is altogether too possible, and also hopeful. One would like to actually run out of rooms, and laundry for that matter. "You can argue with her."

In a more sane world, Logan would likely focus only on security, even in his general twisted patterns of blackmail and guilt rather than complete paychecks, barring such cases as Ghost, Eloni, Satoru, and the madame might see fit to run the brothel proper. It practically is that way, save for the unspoken understanding that the girls are his property as much as the walls and the men who guard it.

And he, at least, wouldn't have it any other way. "And I keep the British because I am," Logan says, without real defense. "Then again, if you're constantly changing who you are, I can see how you might get confused. Teo was prettier, you know." You don't match the decor any more. There's a curl of a smile as he brings up the cup to drain the rest of the murky coffee.

By now, the ghost is no stranger to little Lord Fauntleroy's penchant for getting mixed up in social trivialities and sometimes prizing the validation and vengeance to be found through that sort of thing than the mechanical tedium of 'strictly practical' concerns. Whatever the Hell that entails. If Ghost is especially concerned about putting himself between Viv's windmilling hellcat impression and Edward's bulgey-eyed gerbil sensibilities, he doesn't let it on.

"I know." That Teo was prettier. That fact, he deigns to grace with a faint twist his features, betraying that he would have rather kept his other face— for whatever reason.

The next part has the feel of segue to it, a breath bucketed into his lungs with a stretch of shoulders that ends in a soldierly-postured square, picking up one of his knees to lean against. "Pretty fucking soon, your attachment to home and hearth is going to be more trouble than it's worth. The China-man's been practicing martial arts for at least a decade. Richard Cardinal's probably planning on leading trouble to your door.

"And then there's FRONTLINE." More absent-minded than ostentatiously ornery, he juts his jaw, curls a tongue across molars to pry a twist of orange skin loose. An air of expectation presides.

Here we go. With the air of a teenager being told, again, by his parent that he has neglected to do something of questionable, negotiable importance, Logan let's out a sigh midway Teo's words, but petulance is more a front for true concern, readable only in the furrow of his brow and the wander of his gaze. His fingers tap against the stiff paper of the coffee cup, letting Ghost's expectant silence draw itself out between them beneath the general sounds of the brothel getting itself ready for the evening.

And he nods. "I know. And I will. Move, that is, I've already talked to those who I'd want to come with me." See, look, some of the clutter on the bedroom floor has been toed beneath the bed.

"Speaking of which." Logan's segue is apparently of more importance, the pimp making a waving gesture as if to regally banish the previous, unpleasant topic away into thin air. "One member of security has chosen to call in angsty these previous days, I believe. I need you to go find him before he's fired."

The presiding father figure allows himself to be somewhat mollified by this concession. Somewhat. There's a slight curl of skepticism to his brow, probably accompanied with imaginings about what mutated strain of dustbunny procreates among the fresh stash beneath the furniture, or what array of paraphernelia will be hauled out again the instant he turns around again. Kids these days.

"I have nothing against survival for fun, but that kind of implies you're good enough at it you don't have to cling and sweat existential filth to succeed." For once, if only briefly, and predominantly permitted by the absence of any critics within earshot, the glance that the ghost spares across the room is a little hint disdainful, though that snaps shut and folds in on itself the next instant, sharp and brusque as the clap of hands.

But Logan is banishing stuff, and Ghost is ill-inclined to demonstrate, in person and right now, what kind of clinging and sweating Logan is in for if he doesn't shape the fuck up! He lays the glass down next to him and slides off the lip of the stage, easing gracefully, harmlessly past the perk of a stage light wired in just beside his knee.

Annnnd apparently Logan's segue is not— this is— how is this more important than—? "What happened?" Ghost raises his eyebrows.

It is a curse, thinking small. Unfortunately for Logan and by extension, unfortunately for Ghost, the ins and outs and smaller workings of the Dagger, day-to-day, are far more immediately important than the distant, coming storm of locusts and helicopters. "He hasn't come in for the past couple of evenings and security needs to be about as tight as it can be these days," Logan says, blandly. What with all the break ins and the violence. "Satoru, you might have met him."

Which doesn't actually answer what happened but, it's what's important, as far as Logan can see. "He has a unique ability, too. If he gives you any trouble— "

That could end several different ways. Beatings, threats, blackmail, and oh, Logan does have leverage over the little fugitive. He shrugs velvet clad shoulders. "I'll take care of it myself. And I'm perfectly good at survival, thank you, I've been doing it for quite some time."

Fortunately they have each other. Treading bilgewater with a hunk of driftwood floating ragged between them. Ghost shifts his eyes ceilingward for a brief moment, exasperated, thoughtful, or both. "Think I've seen him around. Skinny Asian kid, eh?" Not the likeliest pick for security personnel, given the mean weight on Logan's finest is— what, two hundred pounds? but then again, nor is the ghost, and there are reasons for that.

Which he might well be wise to take an interest in. "You're welcome," he answers, reflexively, though Logan hadn't really been thanking him. Moreso than in his youth, though not always, Teo's politeness is merely stapled on. "Were you planning on taking him over the pond?" The query appears more casual than it probably needs to. He picks up the pulp-rimmed glass after himself.

It's tempting to be a bitch and um and ahh a little more about the subject of going over the pond purely to spite the other man and his less than subtle insinuations on the topic, but Logan spares him that much. "Yes, I do. Him, my healer, you, a couple of the others, the ones who can stand not to be hidden on Staten Island."

Logan takes a step back, with the intent to swivel around on his heel and continue on his way to his office. "Now unless you have anything new to say…"

"Bebe would be useful, too," Ghost remarks, watching the man flounce away with so much fluttering fabric, wingtipped heels. "Codependent people who have money generally are."

By itself, that doesn't mean anything— other than that he does have something new to say, but if Logan doesn't want to hear it— well, coincidentally, he doesn't need to, either. The Sicilian is already marching off, obedient as a trained wolf, taking his glass to kitchen and a hand to the butt of the firearm inside his jacket. Checking, in brief, that it's seated there properly in anticipation that whatever John Logan wrought on the littlest bouncer, its runoff isn't about to burn him.

Well. That is new, yes. It's enough to make Logan's long-legged gait pause for a moment and track Ghost's own wolfish progression out the main, glittering room, and wonder on the fact that the woman's name seems to be cropping up so regularly and yet her youthful, heart-shaped face has not been seen here for quite some time.

He doesn't hold her contract anymore, but then again, he still has Mu-Qian at his side when she's not in some other geographical location in relation to him. Things to think about - apparently, what he's paying Ghost for.

It's dark enough now for the scarlet lights to switch on to illuminate the spiraling staircase upwards, trailing along black velvet as Logan departs.

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