Bolster The Books


logan_icon.gif zain_icon.gif

Scene Title Bolster the Books
Synopsis A deal is struck between friends.
Date February 23, 2018

Ruins of Staten Island

The smell of the open air market fades as Zain leads Logan through a literal maze of delapidated buildings and rubble. The older man's step is light, a practical skip as they near a dark building. It's a bit more 'built up' than the rest, the windows unbroken and draped on the inside with dark curtains. The door is double, one barred on the outside and a solid metal on the inside. The one on the outside has a padlock on it. What Logan could notice right away is that the address on the card (if he looked at the card) is different than the one he is led to. It could even be considered closer to The Crucible than the one he was given. What is clear is that aside from the yip of a stray dog, this area is very quiet.

After Zain unlocks the door and ushers his guest inside, he lights a few candles. Not for ~mood~ but because the place itself is void of electricity. Hazards of living off the grid. There are dying coals in the fireplace across the room and it only takes a log and a few puffs of billowed air for the room to be covered in a red glow and the heat to radiate.

Ever the considerate host, Zain fills two crystal tumblers halfway with scotch. The first is handed off to Logan before he raises his own in a toast. "I hear your business is booming, as they say," his jovial tone never seems to lose its zest. "The glasses were purchased from there."

The events they leave behind — gladly, on Logan's end of things — puts him in a mildly paranoid state of mind. Not enough that he doesn't follow Zain faithfully where he leads, but at a certain point, as the night wears on, it feels less like being followed by a contented labrador and more like being reluctantly trailed by a wary coyote, attention shifting and a little distance given.

But he doesn't hesitate once they've reached their destination, prowling the perimeters of the room as Zain lights up the candles. Logan takes the tumbler with a chin up of thanks, and doesn't take off his coat even as he goes to stand near the glowing hearth.

He half-smiles at that, and angles the crystal to look at. "It might even be genuine, then," he says. "Hope springs eternal."

"Of course they're genuine, I wouldn't expect anything less of an enterprise you run." The statement could be false? It's hard to tell exactly, but Zain doesn't seem to be lying. There's no skip of the pulse, no rise in temperature, no sweating. He's as cool as ever.

He takes a swig from his glass and then places it back onto a small side table near one of two armchairs. What he doesn't do is invite Logan to sit on them. In a bit better light, it could be noted that they're more for decoration in the dark than actual sitting. Who knows where they've been. Instead, Zain leads him to a retro kitchen table, leaving his glass near the fire.

"I wanted to ask you about your Crucible fights," the man says, obviously comfortable speaking in his own home. "As you may have heard, some of our auction items were misplaced recently and I'm looking to bolster the books a bit."

Logan is happy standing by the fire, holding the drink he was given without yet drinking from it. In this kind of low light, he keeps his ability lying dormant so as not to draw attention, and so, his eyes remain their watery-pale as he considers Zain across the room. The man is a clear bullshit artist and needing his biochemistry to tell Logan as such is something of a redundency.

His expression doesn't shift between mention of his tournaments and then mention of stolen items, but he does— frown when the two are linked together. "Alright," Logan says, like he's humouring this line of inquiry. "And how should the Crucible do that?"

"You run wagers out of it, don't you?" Of course Logan does, it wouldn't be a moneymaker without the gambling and the bookies. Zain doesn't look directly at Logan when speaking, not at the moment, he prefers to study a spot on the wall.. as though he's in thought. "I'd like to branch out from just the auction house, if you'd care for a partner in that area." Only then he does direct his gaze toward Logan, lifting his eyebrows just slightly along with his chin.

"Of course, I can repay the kindness," he adds as a slight smile tugs at the corner of his lips. "Favor for favor, if you will."

It's enough for Logan to forget the tension market scene less than an hour ago, a flatly skeptical look leveled across the room as he fidgets with crystal, thumb nail against the rim. Letting sentiments like favours for favours linger in the air, he goes and neatly starts and finishes his drink with one easy gulp of liquor. Well practiced. He sets it down on the mantle.

"Kindness," he repeats, with a slightly mean spirited smile in the gloom. "One thing you ought to know, if you've any interest in partnering up with the likes of me, is I don't have time for euphemism as much anymore. Unless you really believe I give cuts of my business away out've the goodness of my heart, favour or no favour. I don't build empires on favours."

That sounds like a nice line. Maybe he's used it before, or told it to himself when he started building things again out of the wreckage of an older America.

"What're you offering?"

Zain's lips split to show off a lopsided toothy grin, on another man it could be considered a smirk but he's never been known for that. "The auction house," he says candidly, "I will move the things that you aren't willing to put in your antique shop." He moves back toward the fire to pick up his glass. The liquid inside is swirled around for a few seconds before he takes another drink.

"Of course I understand about empires and all of that," he continues, his gaze steady on Logan. "But partners is sometimes a convenience, especially when one isn't around all the time to oversee the operation."

It's really this last point that deflect possibility of further smart-arsery — at least, as a kneejerk reaction. It's a thin spread, between the mainland and Staten Island, between his contacts, between his money and his assets, that it's an obvious sort of weakness to hold up to the light. Logan folds his arms as if in an expression of lingering resistance to the notion of partnership.

If there's anything he can stake his pride on, in this new world, it's independence. Perceptions of freedom.


"I don't play nicely with others," sounds— euphemistic, John, but also somewhat honest, frank and clear. "But I could use a pair of reliable eyes in the Crucible on occasion, if you think you can handle the sort of personalities these ventures attract. I'm not interested in an even split — not for the Crucible, nor your auction, but— shared investments, let's say."

"Personalities," the older man says with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I can get along with anyone" The glass is placed back onto the table with a subtle clink before he adds "… for the right price." He lives on Staten Island after all.

"Shared investments is agreeable, it drives both businesses to succeed." Zain's hand juts out toward Logan for a handshake, his is firm but not obnoxiously so. He obviously doesn't feel the need to alpha dog in friendly gestures with friends. "I will watch over the Crucible and make certain things run smoothly whenever you feel the need to step away or wish to stay out of view. You'll have no need but to collect the cash when it comes in."

Logan's hand is cold, still, in spite of his position by the fire, but he doesn't hesitate to meet the gesture halfway. Whatever reticence still exists is no longer being telegraphed in gesture or expression or verbally — maybe the appeal of tapping a new market is slowly starting to warm him. Certain items he can move faster than he's otherwise able to. Maybe he won't tell Sasha, for the moment.

And he's still going to have sell Zain Syan's stolen vintage guns on his own, but that's neither here nor there—

"You should know that I'm very fastidious with my books. Practically OCD."

"What good business man isn't?" Zain's casual reply comes with a tap against chest, where the inner pocket of his coat is. "Mine are always hand written of course. No need for the digitally inclined to catch a scent, eh?" News reports of Technopaths have made more than one businessman a bit edgy since the evolved came out of the closet.

"Don't worry so much," he presses as he picks up his glass and finally drains it. After the swallow, he sucks a breath in through his teeth. "I may be a bit newer to this place, but I've walked the blocks before." And money is always better when it's passed under side of the table instead of when its slid across the top.

Logan can't in good conscience fling himself forward and grip onto Zain's bright red lapels and shake him into believing that this place is, as far as criminal underworlds is concerned, cursed — he did, after all, come back to it. At least the hero-terrorists that caused him most of his difficulties prior to the war are too busy running the place now to do much else.

"In that case," he says, with a brighter smile than previous iterations, "I believe I'm in possession of some particularly interesting items with your name on then. And— Giorgio Armani's name on them."

Zain's eyebrows lift high with curiosity, it's an expression that he doesn't like to have on his face very often but this calls for it. "Armani, reeeaaally," he drawls slowly, tilting his head slightly to the side to look Logan up and down. While he isn't an avid follower of fashion, he does have a style and John is given a rather dubious look.

He tips his glass slightly and seems a bit whistful at its emptiness, not upset though. That scotch tasted like more. Mainly because it wasn't brewed in a bathtub and things that already come in a bottle are a bit more expensive here. "What sort of items precisely?"

"Timepieces," Logan says, blandly. "Eye-catching. A little more than I'd like. Perhaps we'll see what you can do with those, and go from there."

It's a show of trust, certainly, to place items of value into the hands of his new ~partner in crime~, but this business demands a little risk. He pats a hand, then, onto the man's shoulder. Grips. Subtle shake. Friendship.

"Let's revisit divisions of labour next Crucible match. I'll bring you something shiny and you can witness how things are done."

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