Burning Glances, Turning Heads

Participants:

logan_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Burning Glances, Turning Heads
Synopsis A burgeoning friendship between two men in masks results in violence when the masks come off and identities are revealed.
Date October 8, 2010

Tartarus


When your date is found making out with a knock-off Oberon upon returning from a bathroom break, it's probably time to leave. Not that the kind of date John Logan might bring to a given event is the sharpest knife in the drawer and could well get confused with all the masks and mistaken identities going around — so he's not taking it personally. And he'd like one last drink for the road while scoping out the other prospects of the evening, at a lean against one of the tall tables that circle the dance floor.

Being someone who puts effort into his outfit when going to pick up bread and milk, there is clear care in his dress up for the evening as well. He's gone the Prince Charming route— which is better than the Marilyn Monroe route, if we're being subconscious about our decisions tonight. Black boots with an inch of heel are the kind of leather that shines like a oil spill, zippered tight to calves and ending below his knees. The crisp white of fitted slacks are a stark contrast, partially obscured by a scarlet and purple tunic of true velvet. Pinned to shoulders with a golden chain linked between across his chest, a sweeping cape of glimmering gold hangs as long as his knees. A light shirt beneath has lace spilling at his throat and cuffs, and silver and golden rings glitter on his fingers.

Of course, there is the masq part of a masquerade, a black velvet half-mask with stitched gold, and a feathered hat with a wide brim, a collection of feathers— black rooster tail and a single peacock feather— clustered and gathered at the side. He has a sword at his belt. It seems heavy enough to be real and rented, although probably only just metal as opposed to sharp, a rapier with an elaborate hilt. This, he rests a hand on, while the other spiders over a bright looking cocktail, trying to navigate sips without nudging his mask.

Having extricated himself from the one slow dance with the hostess of the masquerade, the Mistress of Pain, "Jean-Pierre" finds traversing the dance hall to be a difficult task, as the music picks up into something livelier, a synthesized version of Danse Macabre that fits the club's gothic atmosphere. Every time he steps into the small opening between two waltzing couples, suddenly one or the other is whirling and bumping into the man in the long black buccaneer coat.

Nick's costume is not as colorful, elegant or ethereal as most of the dancers, and for that reason alone, he likely stands out as he finally darts toward the periphery, his black coat fluttering behind him with a rustle, revealing his very not costume-y jeans tucked into swashbuckler style boots. The mask he wears is a baroque version of the "Dottore peste" mask, long beak adorned with silver and black flourishes and curliques, the black circles around the eyes tinged with silver.

Behind those eyes, bright blue eyes peer at the wallflowers, looking for the exit — having lost his sense of direction in trying to get away from the spinning couples. Unfortunately for him, he's still far from the exit.

The tall man runs a hand up the back of his neck, dark hair visible from behind, as he turns slowly, looking for a side exit — crossing the dance floor again seems to be the only way out. He turns, noting the man in the half mask — if the lower half of the man's face were enough to remind him of that long-lost 'friend' of his childhood, only his subconscious is aware of it, perhaps thanks to the three beers he's had in an hour.

"You see an exit?" he asks the "prince," the words wholly American in accent.

When Prince Charming does look to the man in his masquerade mask, there is zero recognition in turn, thanks to long years, an accent, a mask that has Logan's attention more than the face beneath it does. His pale eyes peer out from the embroidered, almond-shaped gaps of his own mask, with its pseudo-arabic patterns stitched in gold to decorate. Hanging bronze beads that line along the lower hem do something to disguise the distinctive cut of high cheekbones, fan against the bridge of his nose.

Logan has to lift his chin a little to see past the crowd beneath the brim of (fabulous) hat, the wide sweep of peacock feather nearly smacking Nick in the face when he glances around. "Looking for an escape route already?" he asks, his accent a refined English as opposed to South London drawl, a habit he picked up only after stepping foot into New York City, a polished pronunciation. If unhelpful. "But the night is so young. Nice mask."

The problem with the mask that Nick wears is that all it shows is the bottommost part of his jaw, so it's hard to see that he smiles in response to the Brit's words. The accent itself doesn't worry Nick — he's in a mask, and he doesn't know many people of that refinery, not back in the East End where he grew up and not from the Liverpool docks he'd fled to at the age of eighteen, to leave London far behind.

"Saw the show and got what I came here for. Not my usual crowd, so not a lot of reason to stay. Besides, wondering if I get back to the costume shop if they'll give me a few bucks off the rental," he says lightly — clearly not as refined as Logan seems to be, if he's worried about a few bucks. "Probably not. Thinking of keeping the coat actually." Who doesn't love a pirate coat?

He pauses, a little uncertainly. "All nights die young since the curfew change, anyway," Nick adds.

"True," Logan concedes, with a roll of eyes in the midst of velvet and a touch of guyliner, licking the sweet taste of his drink from the corner of his mouth after that last sip, a concoction of rum, sugar, basil and slivers of kiwi fruit that he's probably not going to try consuming. Setting the martini glass down near his elbow, he shifts to lean back against the table, sweeping a glance up and down the other man in obvious assessment of the coat in question. "It's a reasonably fabulous coat, captain," is agreement, before tossing his attention out towards the crowd.

Tips a nod towards the throng still partying despite the imminent encroach of curfew. "Personally, I've hung out with my fair share of fairies, so I can't relate. You come with anyone?"

The word fairy might touch something sensitive inside Nick, but there's also a strange interest, a compulsion to stay and talk to this man that he can't explain. He runs a hand up the back of his own neck again, scratching at the itch that the mask's elastic band creates. Barely visible behind his own mask, his blue eyes dart toward the bar on the far end of the dance floor, and he gives a shake of his head. The slight motion is exaggerated by the long proboscis of the beaked mask.

"Nah. Just came to do a little spying. Figured a masquerade's the place to do it, right?" he asks, lips curving into an unseen smirk at the irony of his words. "Danced a little, drank a little. Not my usual kinda place, really. You? One of these fairies your date?"

Logan nudges a nod, gesturing across the room, and without some verbal guidance, it'd be difficult to pick anything from the teeming mass of costumes. "Shirtless, green PVC pants. He's not my date, but the slutty princess in his lap is." Fingers coming up to toy with the lace piece at his neck, he casts a wry smile towards Nick, something quite distinct about the impulsiveness and easiness in it. "To be honest, she was probably just beating me to it.

"Spying, now," sounds a little like throwing the conversation in a different direction deliberately, for all that Logan has a hard time knowing what being self-conscious is like. "There's a good reason. Find what you were looking for? Hence the exit, I wouldn't wonder."

The beaked-mask turns to follow Logan's green gaze in the direction the slutty princess and green-vinyl-clad usurper sit. "Pretty," Nick says, though he doesn't indicate which of the two he means. Probably both, if he were being honest with himself.

He turns back to regard Logan with blue eyes and shrugs the left shoulder. The one-sided shrug has become a habit for him, even if it no longer brings him to his knees to move the muscles and bones of his right. "Nothin' so dramatic. Just checking up on someone who's not really a part of my life these days, make sure they didn't get themself killed or something recently. Kinda dumb to think that'd be easy to do in a costume party, really, now that I think of it. Everyone wearing masks and shit."

He lets a soft huff of a laugh out and scratches that band again. "But I see they're alive and well, so now I can go." Why is he making his pronouns vague? He shakes his head and adds, "Danced with her under an assumed name, speaking French to throw her off the scent."

That gets a snort of amusement from Logan, though any incredulous raise of eyebrow is, well, masked. Turning back to his drink, showing the party his gold-clad back, he sets about picking his drink up again. Easier to tell from here that he's blonde beneath that hat, curls at the nape of his neck, peeking behind his ears. It's a natural, golden shade as opposed to straw-like peroxide. "And that shit worked, did it?" he says, voice going throaty with that suppressed chuckle, amusement bracketing dimples beside his mouth. "I don't know about this girl of yours, but I think if I was standing right in front of someone I knew at all well, I wouldn't have much trouble in picking 'em out."

Irony.

"What name? I won't ask for yours. That'd defeat the purpose."

"Mais je parle fran├žais bien," Nick says, words tinged with not only the realistic French accent, but also a smirk that goes unseen beneath the mask. "And knowing me well might be a touch of a stretch. She thinks she knows me, but really, she knows shit. You know. One of those 'you need to let me help you' sorts, who have no clue what they're on about." He shrugs again.

There's a crinkling of blue eyes visible beneath the shadows cast on his face by the mask he wears as Nick offers a hand. "Jean-Pierre. The best part? She said I don't look like a Jean-Pierre." His left hand gestures to the beaked mask. "While I was wearing this."

Easy laughter, a few octaves down from strictly hyena but that same sort of compulsive sound to, a flash of white teeth in a grin. It shifts his mask a little, a brisk headshake making the beaded hangings shiver. "I don't know what a Jean-Pierre looks like, particularly, but that's about the worst alias I've heard in a while." Logan's hand settles into Nick's, more of a squeezing clasp than anything like a handshake. "Then I suppose I'm the artist formerly known as prince charming. You can call me your highness for short." There had been an inquisitive tilt of his head at 'on about', such a Brit turn of phrase to the Londoner—

But probably assumes he's rubbing off on the faux-Frenchman who so readily picks up voices. Logan would like to think he has this effect on people. "You don't look like someone who needs help. If that helps." Logan retracts his hand, fingers curling in. "Save for finding the way out, 've course."

"Highness. I would have picked Your Majesty, myself," Nick says with a chuckle and a little bow of his head, the small gesture again exaggerated by the long beak of his mask. "And I guess I must have one of those sad faces, make me look like I need a hell of a lotta help when I go around au natural."

He coughs. "I mean, you know, without a mask, not without clothes." There's a boyish awkwardness that hints to his relative youth as Nick tucks his own hand back in the coat's pocket.

As for aliases, well. "And I totally know some Jean-Pierres. French people really are that ostentatious and think they're better'n the rest of us by giving their men two names all the time. Jean-Claude, Jean-Pierre, Jean-Luc. Like it takes away the fact that Jean is just frog for John."

There is a pinched smirk at boyish clarification, adding possibly younger to the sparse list of traits Logan is assigning the masked man, along with less accurate ones. Even surrounded by the warmth of patterned mask, his stare is always a little chilly, removed from the smile directly beneath shaped velvet.

"Excuse me," is just as impulsive as laughter, which might well be dashing anonymity to the ground if— not for the fact that Logan would always identify himself as Logan if given a choice, as opposed to the plain first name stapled to the front of it like a bad joke — not that he'd particularly minded it before his journey across the world. His voice is at least good natured, chin lifting half an inch so as better give Nick a look from beneath hat brim. "That's a plenty princely name, don't knock it."

A wink closes and opens within mask eye-hole, a subtle and swift gesture like the wing flap of a moth. It's a hint as to true identity without putting it in words.

"Very princely. Prince John. He was a bit of an asshole, though, wasn't he?" says Nick, his voice once more tinged by the smirk no one can see, though his eyes crinkle again behind the eye holes of his mask.

In the few moments since they've been talking, since the spectacle part of the evening's events has passed, the crowd is beginning to disperse, either toward the bar for a last drink before heading out into the mundane world outside, or for the exits themselves.

"So where in England are you from?" Nick can't resist asking, just to sate his inner curiosity — he's marveled more than once at the small, small world that the city of New York seems to be, but he doesn't expect to know this particular man — the accent is different, but for now, the eyes and smile are familiar but not placeable. The name John is the most common name in the world in its myriad variations — it's not enough to spark that slight sense of deja vu into anything sharper.

The more disquieting feeling is not familiarity but curiosity — another feeling long ago shoved aside.

The mask shifts subtly — Logan is wrinkling his nose, as if getting caught out in something, like which side of the Thames he could call his own. "Originally?" is a qualifier, after he takes a sip of his cocktail that has kiwi fruit bumping against his teeth, setting down and sliding away mostly emptied glass. "London. Brixton," is more specific, and not East End — souther than that, roughish, different to the received pronunciation and middle class vowels that Logan can tenuously hold together and has been. It has its fair share of white boys, but starkly ethnic otherwise, from the west side of Asia to the islands.

"But all over, really," is his excuse, a half-smile, a searching look to peer past the eye-holes cut into Nick's bulky mask. "I can't pin your accent, but I'm a bit crap with American regions. But I don't think you're a New Yorker."

There is another nod of the beaked mask. "I ain't been there," he lies, his mind turning over the contradictions of the posh accent with the rougher origins, but then, accents can be faked, and if Prince John wants to sound posh, that's certainly his right.

"Nah. I'm from Florida," is another lie, the one that matches the information on his fake identification labeling him as Nicholas York. The melting pot of Florida's urban areas is such that one can be born and bred without much of an accent at all, which is one of the reasons it was chosen for his legend. "I think if I was from here, I'd do my damndest not to have an accent. Wouldn't you?" he adds — never mind his own true accent, East Ender, close to Cockney, might be considered obnoxious in its own right. He reaches up to adjust his own mask, almost as if to shove it up onto his head before it drops again — he doesn't know where Melissa is, and he's still in spy mode. "I think maybe the only worse I can think of is Boston. Or Jersey."

Wouldn't Logan? "I might," is loftily spoken, a somewhat clipped tone of voice to whatever implication is being leveled his way — and velvet covering half his face makes it difficult to see if he's joking around, considering smiles can be mean, and his eyes generally show nothing but glassy observation. His head tips a little to the side, peacock feather swishing merrily with the movement. "Now the Jersey accent I know, and it's fucking horrible," Logan agrees readily, because he knows nothing about Florida save for the echoes of what other people say about it.

His eyes track that movement of Nick's hand, and he can't help but tap a trimmed nail against the over long nose of the mask, the sound reverberating right up to Nick's ears. "That must be annoying, Jean."

There is that left-shouldered shrug again, and Nick nods. "It's a bit heavy, giving me a bit of a headache, to be honest, yeah," he says, glancing down at his watch — nothing posh, a rugged Fossil style. "Too late to try and get some of my money back on it. Prob'ly time to get goin' if I'm gonna make it anywhere before the police start asking questions, right?"

He turns to locate the exit, now visible without such a concentrated throng of people between him and it, then glances back at Logan. "Sooner I'm out of doors, sooner I can take it off," he says lightly. "The girl I'm spying on, I guarantee if I take this off in here, she'll see it. Uncanny knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that one. That's partly why I figured I'd come see if she's managed to stay alive another week."

"Well then."

Logan pushes himself off the table, a last glance for where his prior maiden fair is completely preoccupied before dismissing her entirely from the evening, and dealing Nick a smile that shows white teeth, up to the canines. "Allow me to show you out — I need a smoke too before I start figuring my way home." And with the clompclomp of generous heels— an inch at least, working in conjunction with hat to push him into a faux-six-foot-tall range— Logan makes for where he knows the exit to be, heavy cape of expensive make all Rayleigh waves in its swish, sword hanging heavy at the loop of leather around his hips.

Behind the mask, Nick's brows furrow together, while beneath his coat, his heart pounds a little. There's only been one man in his scant 23 years to make him feel like this — that this man seems to remind him a touch of that far-off, long-ago memory is probably to blame. As perhaps are the three glasses of Bass.

Without thinking, he's already pulling out a pack of Capstans from his pocket, a British brand of cigarettes that's difficult, if nearly impossible, to find in the US, unless at shop dedicated to tobacco. The pack curled in his hand along with his Zippo lighter, he follows the more colorful man out.

Even as he steps outside, he's already reaching to pull the beaked mask off his head, to let it hang from his neck. A cigarette gets tapped out of the red pack and brought to his lips as he studies the night for a moment, before turning back to offer the pack to His Majesty.

A couple of boozy cocktails and the constricting designs of his own costumes make the chill of an autumn evening a welcome change, as Logan leads Nick outside, taking off his hat and fanning himself briefly with it, other hand up to scuff through and therefore fix blonde curls. By the time Nick is offering cigarettes, Logan has also loosened the lacy neck piece to flag off to the side and expose a decent V of skin, from adam's apple own past his collar bones, the off-blonde scratch of hair sparse on his chest.

"Oh, cheers," says Prince John, definitely an asshole according to most legend-tellers, still from beneath the mask that molds carefully to the distinctive network of bone structure beneath. He takes a cigarette, glances from it to Nick's newly exposed face which is getting more attention, now, due to its hiddenness priorly than it would have. About to ask for the lighter, but—

Logan stops. The bone-white cylinder of cigarette is skewed from the pinch of his fingers, tilted with neglect, almost comedic as his gaze maps over the man in front of him, before slowly brings filter tip up to grip between his teeth. A small nod, an invitation for Nick to light, without breaking stare.

The Zippo's wheel is turned, producing flame, and Nick holds it to the man's cigarette, waiting to see the ember glow alight on the end of the stick before pulling it away, bringing it to his own cigarette to do the same.

The faux Frenchman, faux American, takes a long drag from his cigarette, then loses the impromptu staring contest by looking away a little nervously. He doesn't know what this is — what he wants it to be — and the imperial stare of the Brit in front of him is disconcerting. "Good to get some air," he says, not a little lamely as he breathes in smoke rather than cleaner air. "And away from all the tinker bell wanna bes, right?"

Logan takes a hard breath of smoke, expelling it through his nostrils after holding onto it for a decent few seconds, before releasing that thick, white cloud, a brief mask all on its own. He grips the cigarette filter again with teeth before he's tucking a thumb beneath the cheek of his mask and dragging it up, elastic running through highlit curls until its gone completely. Maybe if he knew about the conflicted notions going on for the other man just next to him, he wouldn't break the masquerade so soon.

But he does. Toe of boot balanced on a ridge of brick against the building, a glance down to where he last saw that pack of cigarettes. "Florida, eh?" he repeats, his voice dryer thanks to cigarette smoke, richer thanks to years gone by, but certainly his, past and present.

If he were better at having a poker face, Nick could probably deny knowing the man before him. There are dead ringers in this world, people who you'd swear are someone else entirely, even without the abilities to shapeshift or clone another's appearance. Doppelgangers, twins in visage. After all, there are only so many angles a face can have, and once in a while the combinations are going to repeat.

But as it is, Nick takes a step back, his blue eyes widening when he sees this icon of his past before him. The niggling feelings of deja vu now make sense, but nothing else does.

"Yeah, well," he manages out, not giving up the American accent as he takes a deeper drag of the cigarette to steady him, his hand shaking visibly. His eyes dart away again, and his free hand curls into a fist at his side. "When'd you come across the pond?"

Ridiculously, Logan's hand is restingly on the fancy hilt of his sword — casually, in the same pose that Nick originally found him in, but his hands curl absently around the heavy hilt, knuckles hidden behind the guard. He is not a good reader of people. But he is a good reader of weakness, his eyes immediately drawn to the tremor that makes lit cigarette end twitch and the shift away of blue eyes, a clear kind of colour in contrast to the little sister's grey.

"Almost five years ago. Via Mexico, if you can believe a thing like that." Maybe Nick won't remember such a reference — Logan does thanks to a Refrain trip. A happy memory, standing in front of him. His voice has a rawer quality, suddenly sharp in contrast to the muzzy flirtatiousness of before, shucking posh clarity. "And when the fuck did you get 'ere?"

"Mexico," Nick repeats with a shake of his head, his free hand uncurling to rake through his short but shaggy head of black hair. The back stands up a bit, the indent of the elastic of his mask's band giving him more cowlicks than normal. He shakes his head and his face held in a tense look of puzzlement: eyes narrowed, brows knit, jaw tense.

"A few months ago. By way of South Africa, if you can believe that shit." Not that that makes any sense, but he lets his words parallel Logan's. "Prince John." He gives a derisive snort, closing his eyes for a moment with another rueful shake of his head at his own inability to recognize Logan, with so much of his face there to be recognized. But time and space make things foggy. "Christ, I'm daft," he mutters, the British accent curling into his words.

That stare that had created unease during that first exchange of cigarettes it's being shaken. It's cattish, blank in its own way, an intelligence that speaks less of booksmarts or even skills in logic and analysis, and more observatory and judgmental as animals can be. To be fair, prey has a similar kind of watchfulness when it wants to. A smile is cast at that last assessment, and Logan lets his cigarette burn through slowly without touching it back to his mouth for now. "No, no. I distinctly recall you being the smart one, Ruskin.

"French and— fucking— books. The whole lot. I just go by Logan now, but thanks for the formality." T's drop like flies and consonants spit edged in a deliberate regression of accent — or maybe not sure deliberate, maybe just comfortable. There are people in this city who have seen Logan at his worst, whom he doesn't have to charm. Nick is a different kind of category.

There's another self-deprecating, self-loathing snort and Nick shakes his head. "No. I wasn't smart. Not in school, sure as 'ell not in life," he says bitterly, years of anger uncoiling as he looks at one person who he blames for so much of what's gone wrong with his life. If he'd been smarter, his words imply, he wouldn't have hung out with Logan in the first place.

"Most of the French I picked up abroad, not back then. But I guess I've an ear for language, as it turns out," he adds, then his eyes narrow more, this time in suspicion more than wariness.

"Bloody 'ell, you're the Logan on fuckin' Staten, aren't you," he breathes, free hand raking through his hair again. "I didn't think twice when I heard the name — no one mentioned it being a Brit, or maybe I would've." Nick throws his half-smoked cigarette to the ground between the two men. "This fuckin' country," he mutters. And now he's signed up to be trained by "Uncle Sam," as Avi put it — basically chaining himself to what he sees as an insane asylum.

"Yeah, this fucking country." The soles of his boots scrape along pavement as he comes to pace and stand before Nick, unable to not fascinatedly study him a little more, see what age has gone ahead and done. Filled the younger man out some, justified his greater height, broadened shoulders, fabulous pirate coat doing well to complement it. The narrow line of Logan's jaw tightens some in suspicion, mouth opening— closing again, denying himself asking what Nick thinks he knows about Logan on fuckin' Staten.

Nostrils flare with a breath in and out. Seems to be considering what to do with this rather inconvenient relic from London, as he nudges that half-done cigarette aside with the heel of his boot. Then, another smile, slightly more genuine if still mean — recognisably both, to someone who knows him. "Welcome to the States, love."

The mix of emotions is a heady one for Nick — that familiar but long dormant curiosity inspired by a stranger, only to find that stranger to be someone he once knew, once worshipped, even loved before that betrayal — and everything comes rushing back. The stupid jokes they'd once laughed at, the football games watched and cheered, the haze of alcohol and drugs that led to kisses and more, and the pain of boot toes in his ribs and knuckles on his jaw, the shame of hissed slurs as he lay bleeding in the gutter.

Without warning, Nick's hand clenches back into a fist, his slightly taller height making for longer arms and a longer arm-span. He'd always been a scrapper; it really shouldn't surprise Logan when suddenly that fist is flying through the air at Logan's face. Apparently, that word love crossed the invisible line in the sand.

His cigarette wasn't getting used anyway. It rolls into the gutter around when Logan is pressing the back of his hand against smarting mouth, momentum of the blow carrying former pimp back a step or two with a grunt of pain from the back of his throat, a hiss of a curse that goes muttered into lacy sleeve. Pink-tinged saliva strings along the flimsy cotton, a muffled 'ow' — numbness bleeds sharply through his flesh before a throbbing centre of blunt pain develops there. Sharper where his teeth cut the inside of his cheek.

In a karmic world, Logan deserved that.

What that means to Logan is worth nothing more than the copper-tasting bitterness in his mouth and the way his heart hiccups with indignant fury. It could well be that Nick is already moving, with Logan on the significant backfoot. Prince Charming isn't looking, reacting first— as ever— with his rapier coming out of its belt loop and in the same momentum being brought around to punish in a trajectory aimed for the other man's face, lacking any particulars with specific aim. It's a blunt stalk of metal, but—

Metal all the same, enough to raise welts, if he gets that far. He might say don't fuck with me, but his mouth hurts, and it's all very quick.

Nick is backing up after his assault of Logan, knowing that others will be stepping out into the night soon, any second, but he isn't more than a couple of feet away by the time that dull sword is swinging for his face. Instinctively he turns while a hand comes up to try to block the sword — the first is a good instinct, the latter not so much. The tip of the blade knocks against the hook of his maligned jaw, while his knuckles collide a little lower on the shaft, drawing blood as his knuckles split once more in a fight.

Nick stumbles a couple of feet away before his hand sneaks inside his coat, wrapping behind his back — a gesture that most criminals would recognize as going for a gun tucked in the back of one's jeans. But he takes another step back, not drawing the weapon but staring at Logan with hurt eyes, not so very different despite so many years, from that younger Nick.

His lips quirk upward into a crooked half smile, though any amusement doesn't quite make it to his eyes. "You fuckin' hit me with a sword," he complains. "Bad form, John."

Tension keeps Logan's fist bloodlessly tight around the elaborate hilt of the thin sword, even as he manages to smile at that comment, reflecting Nick's own mirth(lessness) back at him. His teeth minor stained, now, red painting the corner of his mouth before it gets licked away. The faux-blade hovers between them, a few inches from resting its dull tip down on the other man's chest, and Logan rocks a step sideways. "I fight mean," he agrees, now that he's sure he can get words out without mumbling or slurring.

"What you doing'ere, Nick?" Accent still natural, but his tone goes back to that throatier gentleness that he'd been speaking with prior to their operatic reveal to one another. The hat lies crooked on the pavement, mask just beneath it, dropped in the excitement. "This isn't your city. I saw it first."

"Yeah. I remember." Nick's words are cool. Mean like five on one, perhaps, the one being younger by years, being accused of something he'd done with the leader of the attacking pack.

He brings his left hand up to rub his jaw, the welt already rising red and garish against his skin there. His other hand, loosely in a fist, drips blood upon the pavement. "And you're fucking right, it ain't my city. This place is a shithole. But it ain't yours, either. As for why I'm here, it ain't your business. I've got reason to be here, but I'll leave when I'm through and not before that, right, mate?" Both Epstein and Raith would be disheartened to know that Nick's lost his accent again.

"Short of throwing you on the first bus to Jersey, there's not much I can do about it," Logan agrees, an aloof tilt to his head, considers poking the bear a little more— half literally— before his sword swings up and away, coming to rest against a velvet clad shoulder. The side of his other hand lifts to touch at his own mouth again, coming away with filmy pink, and pausing when a couple of fairies and elves come swishing out the door, paying no heed to Prince Charming chatting up the buccaneer.

Logan waits for them to head across the street before he's daring to take a step close, back within swing range, but the open palm of his free hand reads like surrender, for all that that's a likely story. "How much do you reckon," he starts, a hand going out, ever so carefully, to go and adjust the hem of Nick's coat, something of a game, "one man can change?

"Hypothetical question."

Nick's jaw sets tight in his face as Logan steps close. The question — or the gesture that accompanies it — makes him swallow, a tell on that not-so-poker face of his, and he gives a jerky shake of his head. "We were just kids," he mutters — whether it's an excuse for his or for Logan's behavior back then, it's unclear.

His eyes narrow. "A man can change. I've changed," he adds stonily — though he doesn't step away from Logan, his blue eyes fastened hard on Logan's green. "But for some reason I don't think you have. Just a bit more 'posh,' yeah?"

Thumb and index finger snag on Nick's coat's hem, feeling its texture and briefly earning Logan's attention before he drags a look back up at Nick's own gaze, meeting it. "Yeah," he agrees. "'ve got money now. Connections. Power." Although a quizzical tilt of his head, a lift of an eyebrow, are meant to communicate a question about whether that last point is really a change. Having a few hooligan friends is a lot the same as— having even more hooligan friends. "But you know what. I don't think you have. I can see that much.

"Sorry 'bout the sword." And he's backing up again, sliding said tool back into his belt, and turning his back on Nick as he sets about picking up hat and mask, the sweep of his golden cape briefly obscuring the particulars of his shape as it curtains passed a shoulder, folds its hem against the ground.

The younger man scowls — angry at Logan, angrier at himself for letting Logan get to him, this many years later — as he questions just what the other is implying. "You're wrong," he mutters, though he himself doesn't believe it. That boy in the past isn't so different from him — seeking something he would never find, trying to find it in the wrong places. He's not so different from that boy, even if he's taller, stronger.

What Nick means is he's changed from the boy that came after that boy. Cruelty breeds cruelty. Corruption breeds corruption. But he doesn't know that Logan knows what happened to Nick after he was cast aside, so he doesn't try to correct him on which earlier version of himself has or has not changed.

Some things have not — and that infuriates Nick all the more. That Logan still has power over him is undeniable — if he didn't, they wouldn't be standing out on the sidewalk, cigarettes and spilt blood between them. Some things haven't changed. And that upsets Nick, even as he denies that truth.

He backs up as Logan turns his back. "I hit you first," he adds, turning away the apology. That isn't the apology he wants.

Nick shakes his head, glancing at his watch, and begins to walk toward the subway station on the corner. Not that he needs to worry about curfew.


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