Change of Plans


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Scene Title Change of Plans
Synopsis Logan shouldn't be alone at night, and Deckard shows him why when he corrects the course of the former's history.
Date January 3, 1999

England, London: Lambeth

There's a damp smell in the cold air, once you can get past the sting of every inhale and the subtle, metallic press of urban air — a body of water to the north, where the River Thames veins its way through London. On a map, the city makes something of an ugly shape of a cartoon bug squish on a windshield, a random sprawl of streets and buildings. Up close, down here, it resembles any city you'd ever have the displeasure of existing in.

Night caps blackness in a dome over the world, the stars blotted out, and streetlamps scrutinise white-lit patches of pavement at a time. For no one in particular. One man can see in the dark. The other knows the route home that he could pick it out while blind.

Even in the past, Logan doesn't have a lot of friends. He's never sliced off any bodyparts, but he is still mean enough and ignorant enough to do himself some social injury. Still. He has a couple. They're not together anymore, segmenting off once crossing the Lambeth bridge on foot — apparently none of them own a car, including John, which makes following him a lot easier. Arms bundled around himself, he moves at a quickish pace down the pavement, making motion at the hem of his oversized woolen coat, an itchy scarf wound around his neck. Orange light clings to the underside of the road traffic bridge over head.

He isn't smoking, but steam leaves his mouth just as thickly.

Even at the height of his success as a serial murderer, Flint was far from cream of the crop. He made mistakes. He was messy, at times — too intent on the act itself to worry overmuch about the before and after when he wasn't being paid.

But he did become good at following people in the worst kind of way: patiently watchful from in the shadows, cognizant of opportunity and angles of attack. His approach is quiet and from behind when he finally makes it, boots tracking smooth over pavement that shines damp with the humidity now that Logan is alone. He doesn't quite match the rhythm of the younger man's footfalls, but he treads carefully all the same, a touch too solid to be an echo.

He hasn't showered and he hasn't changed. Knit cap, sunglasses at night, beardy bristle that's still on the light side after his pre-China cleanup attempt. The only thing (relatively) unusual about him is the way he's holding his right arm back and close to his side while he walks.

There is no curfew in England, right now, unlike New York circa 2010. Regardless, the busiest part of this section of town is the bridge up above, where late night traffic rattles blithely over asphalt, makes dull roars of their engines and the shimmer of audio energy in its foundations. Not quite loud enough to totally drown out the sound of a second set of foot steps, made eerie just because of the hour, and the Hallows Eve interplay of black shadow and urban orange illumination.

John doesn't slow his strut, more heavy footed and loping than sashay and saunter, the sound of hits boots ringing off the angles of the nighttime scenario. It's too chilly out to linger or hesitate. Rather than the future's characteristic presence of a gun in its holster, there is no such thing on him now — probably never has been. His small pocket knife, a light. Money. Keys.

The last of which is caught in the knot of a fist, buried in his pocket, comfortably pushing one of the silver pieces to poke its tip between curled fingers. Force of habit as natural as a glance back to regard a lanky figure in his periphery.

Flint is Flint. The homeless American entity with glowing eyes that lives across the street and doesn't have much to say. Not an angel. Not anything else, either.

Now he says, "Hey," when he's sure he's been seen, quietly, coarsely casual, throat clagged with sleeplessness and the humidity and the cold. There's space for further conversational effort after that, but none is forthcoming. He scuffs gradually to a halt, far shoulder still held back, near glove curled into a coat pocket against the cold. He doesn't look anymore threatening than usual.

Just densely miserable and tired, spine hunched and shoulders drawn in close while he pollutes the street at an unsteady, whiskey-acrid stream.

Oh. There is a crooked, brief smile as glance begets confirmation, fingers relaxing around silver key as Logan slows on a step and turns, a hand up to drag folded over scarf down more off his chin, tugging it into a looser loop of crochet work, striped like sportswear, blue and white. Or grey. "Hey," he greets, some trace of weariness in his voice. "I s'pose you're heading in the same direction." Both offer and question, the former punctuated in the half-step back he takes, pause again. Pale eyes knife a glance passed Deckard in default suspicion.

He didn't ask, Are you following me? Either because it's a stupid question, or because the one he does ask dresses itself around it.

Possibly lacking the energy necessary to lie, even if the most basic of yes answers technically constitutes a very simple version of the truth, Deckard says nothing at first. Or later. An ambiguous lift of his chin is more acknowledgement that he's been asked a question than agreement, patchy grey wrought gold under sallow city light. The chilly, colorless bleach of his eyes evades contact for the full time it takes him to come up with words to fill an increasingly conspicuous stretch of silence.

"Following orders," isn't quite honest. He could still say no and Hiro could still find someone else. "You shouldn't be out here alone."

For the length of that silence, weight distributes from one foot to the other in a subtle sway of awkward nervousness, that half-smile on the younger man's face vanishing in time for an eyebrow to lift in silent enquiry. Then, mirth manifests as a snort, a sharp exhalation of air that breathes steam, wispy and silvery.

Mirth and a little relief, abstractly. Logan lifts his hands, palms up in shrug, fingers splayed from where the tips of them peek from black wool. "Well'm not alone now, clearly." There's a certain don't be stupid tone of voice that he's carried with him into later years, still, for all that whatever ego teenage boy has managed to scrape together, it's probably not based on being the sharpest tool in the shed.

He steps back a turn again, intent on resuming.

Clearly. Reserved in the same way stray dogs are when they're sure they've been caught in the act of something that might've gotten them stern spankings in a former life, Flint doesn't move again until Logan does. Resentful. Of stupidity, in this case. If the dipshit ran he'd have a pretty good excuse for not being able to catch up the way he is gradually — catching up. Longer strides manage to avoid a sense of hurry only because he honestly has none, but there's no ignoring the way his boots eat over damp concrete until he's nearly within arm's reach. Back and to the right. A sketchy wingman.

Sketchier still when he slacks the grip he has on the prybar in his right hand, a fair foot and a half of black iron slithering out his sleeve nearer the bend of his knee in the shivery breath before he brings it into the start of a swing. Up and back, then down and across, fork-ed end cleaving cold for the flawless plate of Logan's near tibia.

Life is hard.

Bit of an extreme way to trip up a guy. John's yell pierces the air sharper than impact of metal to leg, echoing off the underside of a bridge where a steady stream of London's populace rolls on by in ignorance. It's pure shock until he staggers leftwards and away, a hand and an elbow coming up red against the cold concrete when he drops with all the self-preservation of a fawn rather than immediate feline twisting defense that would be more efficient. He didn't expect that.

His skeleton is all bright white healthiness, with lean trappings of muscles. Details of damage have healed well in youth — dislocations, some fractures, all erased away like a delinquint's criminal record. Blankly unbroken.

Immediately, compulsively, John's hand is searching out injury, even as pale eyes flash wide in a glance up. Then, moving, the leg gone unattacked curling beneath him to lever away. Breath keens out of him.


X-ray vision is not required to register the first break. Nor will it be required to diagnose the second.

While Logan's reacting, Flint is hiking the prybar up over his head like a makeshift meat cleaver.

The raw snap of muscle that triggers the downswing is what it is — violent without mercy or mitigation. Axe to stump, metal to bone, metal wins, a map of Logan's fractured leg overlaid grey in his muddled memory. Two.

For three he doesn't give the budding sociopath at his feet time to scream, pry end hooked hard behind the knee to roll him over like a sausage before he hacks terse after the femur, not all that far from the hip, face blanched bloodless and teeth grit.

The second smack beats out attempts of fleeing, like it killed something. No scream, just the long breath in that comes before.

The direct and violent aim of this attack makes running, by necessity, not much of an option. John's hands dig his dirty fingernails against the cracked concrete like he's thinking about trying, but the third strike delivers a pain that feels even deeper than the last, even with animal panic and skyrocketing adrenaline doing its best to blot out the worst of it. It's a thick bone, the one that Flint's prybar bites after. His voice tears out of his throat in a shriek, like it applies steel claws to vocal chords, ragged, rough.

Then words babble compulsively to the surface, damp, broken and fragmented. "Stop, don't, please," are all present, stammer adding syllables. going still as if the theory is that struggle provokes attack. Knowledge of experience, just— not on this end. Pleading threatens to crack an octave.

One more. One more and Flint falters at being begged, prybar held low between his hands, hooked end angled down, close to the dabble of blood thick off its end to colder concrete.

Too late to go back now, as always seems to be the case when it comes to these kinds of things.

Ragged exhaust gone thin with adrenaline and something else that rankles his nose and forces his attention down and away, he has time to explain or even to apologize. He could say he's sorry while he stands there and drips, terminator lack of emotion screened harsh across the matte back of his glasses and low snug of his cap.

But he doesn't. This is the way it happens.

A last one-handed strike is no less brutal than those before it, iron bitten down into calf muscle on its way back to the fibula before it rings out clangety-clank against the path and Flint stoops to wind his knuckles into scarf and collar so that he can start dragging. The busier street above is only a few mindless minutes away.

Maybe something profound happened — as important as Rhys described it, if he'd been accurate and not just trying to save himself. Or just for Logan, even if implications beyond the next few seconds are far out of his grasp. There's no much poetry or magnitude in whimpering. His hand grips onto Deckard's sleeve, uselessly, like the intention is to shove him away but he ends up just hanging on needily, silent plea for help despite— what just happened. Being dragged renews a sick sounding groan, muscles sparking fire up and down around fractured bone, the limb dead from the hip down, seemingly.

Groan turns to wordless protest, shock setting in pale in John's face as he sneaks a glance down at wear red stains around punctures through denim, skin, muscle. "Fuck. Oh, fuck," is squeezed out, eyes wide and blurred in unfocus, saline fluid. "Why'd you… why'd you…" Go and do that never gets to out loud status, voice thick. There are a few questions in the queue: where are we going, among them.

Why, why, why. It'd be easy to point fingers. He was told to, or. He was told the world would end if he didn't. Like putting a gun to the head of everyone he knows, which. Really.

There aren't all that many of them left he wishes he could save.

"Change of plans," Flint says instead, voice little more than a hoarse slate-over-slate scrape amidst the slither and rake of Logan's corpus in his wake. One hundred meters. Sixty. Twenty. One car pumps its brakes when the driver sees, only to keep going after a moment's moral uncertainty. Somebody else's problem. "I forgot I was the bad guy."

There are small, animal sounds at most attempts to move, not really occurring to Logan to yell for help even if it was worth doing. His head does tip to follow the track the passing car makes, and there are feeble jolts of protest that "Felix" can feel as pressure in the creak of his tight fist, and the tension of gathered strength in his shoulder. "D-don't kill me," is stammered out, some primal notion that that's the only reason he'd be being dragged anywhere, maybe, like predators dragging still living prey to their den.

A stronger attempt at struggle, fabric twisting, is renewed splintery feeling of fresh pain that brings on some waterworks, throaty, breathy, pathetic sounds, both damp and dry. Slightly choked, which might only have a little to do with the cut of scarf and collar at his throat, his cursed scissoring less coherent out between gritted teeth.

"Stop moving," isn't a change of subject, exactly. Pragmatic suggestion rather than an order. If Logan wants to keep wriggling his way into deeper suffering, he's not going to reach back there and shake him into submission.

They're nearly there, anyway. Up over the curb and into the street at the base of the bridge.

There Deckard finally lets go, freshly-scabbed over knuckles cracked and bleeding to mingle warm with the faintly-steaming mess of his handiwork laid out behind him. He scuffs sweat away from the side of his face with the same hand, smearing rust and grit and blood dark across the ridge of his cheek before he hunches down into a crouch. Stands up again. Paces a ways away.

The only thing out here to hit is John.

For the last few feet, pragmatic suggestion is obeyed, and weeping gets a hitch of startlement when he's dropped without really cushioning his short fall. It's only a few inches, 95% down already, but still knocks the wind from John, a hand planting flat on the pavement before he rests his head on his knuckles to simply shiver and breathe shallowly through his mouth for a while. Being in the nineties and elegantly skirting an ever shifting poverty line, he does not have a cell phone.

Because for once, he might have rung the police after all. John lifts his head to send a bleary stare where Deckard is pacing away. "Hey. Hey," he bleats rawly, anger finally taking over fear, pain — well no, but it at least, making a good go at struggling through it. His hands are claws against the asphalt, but he doesn't move, like a lizard that gets its tail flattened by a careless car tire.

An old beer bottle scrapped up and slung hard enough into the night to make his shoulder ache, Flint keeps walking towards the smell of water clammy in his sinuses. Doesn't slow down, doesn't look back. Doesn't crouch again with his hands clutched at his skull.

Eventually he will find somewhere else to sleep.

It won't be the last time Logan sees Deckard again. That's some of the point, unfortunately. When the lanky man in his terminator glasses and bloodied knuckles doesn't prove to be returning, John gives into what will be the worst night of his life up to this point. He'll have badder ones later down the track. When he calls out to Deckard again, the older man is far away enough to not pick out syllables. No more after than. John isn't even watching him walk away anymore.

Which is then that Hiro begins following Flint, declining to look back at the broken figure on the road in return. Gives the latter some space, seemingly. By the time Flint is getting some sleep, it is more than likely in his own time.

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