logan_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Cheated
Synopsis Logan makes an easy grand.
Date March 2, 2010


There is an old phone booth at the intersection of Humbolt Street and Metropolitan Avenue with flaking blue paint and a network of cracks resembling spider webs in the plate glass door. In this era of mobile phones, bluetooth head sets and wireless communications, it has largely fallen out of use and is rarely used by anyone except those too poor to afford cellular coverage with one of the local providers — which is probably why the city has done nothing to repair it or paint over the graffiti splashed across its back.

Although Sasha Kozlow doesn't have the money to sign a contract with Sprint, his primary reason for utilizing the booth has nothing to do with being frugal and everything to do with the fact that he's in the country illegally. Receiver cradled between his shoulder and jaw, a prepaid phone card cupped in the palm of his gloved hand, he's been speaking tersely into the mouthpiece at sporadic intervals in a fatigued tone that Logan has never heard him use before.

He's been waiting on the other side of the glass for close to fifteen minutes now. Clearly, Sasha does not place a high value on propriety except when he's pretending to be something he's not.

A mild-mannered doctor, for instance.

Ash mixes with sleety slush under the toe of Logan's boot as he lets a lit if spent cigarette tumble down, get ground out. He can usually measure his patience against how long it takes him to pull in that ring of fire down the bone white length, and when it's over, it's over. It's fuck-ing-cold, an observation that's going to be made practically every hour of every day, and Logan returns his hands to clawing his woolen coat around himself, peppery grey and black, the lapels currently held by one bared, pink knuckled hand up to his throat and so the only things visible would be a foot each of pant leg, dark denim and black boots strapped thickly and warmly around his pacing feet.

Abruptly, he drives the toe of one against the phonebooth door, making it rattle in its frame, metallic and wooden. Through the splitted glass, Logan gives Sasha the fakest of pleasant smiles, one that communicates that if you don't come out soon, I'm coming in there myself. For all that the interior of a phonebooth is about as healthy as any square two feet of New York City, it's probably warmer.

In other news, chilliness and impatience seem to stave off fear.

The sound of Logan's boot colliding with the booth creates a loud bang that would draw attention if they weren't the only two people out on the street tonight. You can't count the hulking black bird with the metal band around its foot that has come to perch on a nearby street lamp at some point during the course of Sasha's conversation with the individual on the other end of the phone line. Well out of earshot, it sits in a bent stoop with flexing claws and wings that can't quite keep still. Like Logan, the raven would rather be somewhere the wind isn't tugging at its feathers.

Inside the booth, Sasha hisses something pleasantly into the receiver and sets it back down on the hook, nice as you please. A moment later, the door explodes open and the Russian is grabbing the Englishman by his coat, his lapels clutched in the weave of his frostbitten fingers. He does not heave him off the pavement, though he's almost certainly strong enough to perform such a feat, but instead swings him around and slams him into the side of the booth with enough force to make the cracks in the glass spread just a little wider.

On the bright side, it doesn't hurt very much.

— on account of out here, Logan doesn't feel very much. Long fingers might make marks through winter layers when Logan instantly clamps his hands down on Sasha's upperarms, and in the same moment, his eyes become probably the brightest things on the dreary New York street, shining both a warning and his own caution. "Ow," is communicated after the moment when his head smacks back against grimy glass, and as much as his feet had skitted on the concrete beneath ragdoll limbs, his body abruptly locks up tense, and he lets out a hissing breath of steam.

It jitters along with a belatedly startled chuckle. "Sorry, was tha' rude?" he cockneys, once his heart is back down in his chest instead of his throat.

Sasha releases Logan as abruptly as he'd thrown open the door and seized him. The furious mask his face had adopted gradually relaxes, colour flooding back into his cheeks as he draws back, straightens Logan's jacket and uses the back of his hand to brush a stray scattering of snow off his front. He makes a low sniffing sound — a cold, maybe — and wipes his nose off with the back of his coat sleeve before coughing into it.

It's the closest thing to an apology that Logan is getting. As his arm drops, he lets out a slow, shuddering breath; contrary to popular belief, his people don't thrive in this weather. They've only learned to endure it. "What do you have for me, you fucking English bastard?"

A deliberate glance down to where hands are straightening Prada angles of wool, then back up to scruffy Russian features as the last of wariness— doesn't leave, and neither does negation. Jolting forward just enough to take his back off the side of the phonebooth— in case he catches something— Logan tucks his hands into his pockets, and feels better for the cold steel within one that his hand curls around. "What was that thing you said in Spanish, last meeting?" he asks, rounding around a step, looking Kozlow up and down. "You know, the thing that never disappoints.

"Say it again." His own throat sounds scratchy — apparently, London winters haven't conditioned Logan to crushing cold either. Another smile, enough to show canines, fists gone bloodless in his pockets.

"Eres linda?" Sasha inquires with both his brown brows raised so high they disappear beneath the oily tangle of curls smeared across his brow. He's not looking as good as he did the last time they saw one another. "Te necesito?" The upward lilt at the end of the question is very pronounced, moreso than his enunciation of the words themselves.

His boot scuff in the snow, gravel and ice ground beneath his heel as he pivots to observe and track Logan's progress. However gaunt and haggard he may appear, exhaustion should not in this case be mistaken for weakness. He's tense beneath his coat and slacks, the topmost button of his dress shirt worn open to expose the wife beater he wears beneath it. In spite of the weather, it is stained dark with sticky sweat.

It takes him longer to provide Logan with a translation than it would coming from somebody else. Rather than going directly from Spanish to English, he has to run it through his native tongue in between. "You are beautiful," he says finally. "I need you."

"Not bad." There's a fair distance maintained, now that Logan's insinuated himself out from between unkempt Russian and equally dirty telephone booth, Logan more groomed and less neglected than the pair of them — shaved his face, before coming out, jaw and throat clean if smarted not by razor but by the chill, and he'd forgotten a scarf in his office. His pallidness is, for once, not totally attributed to an unhealthy lack of sunlight and sleep, simply like that and made more so by the angles of streetlamps managing to shine this far out from their black iron stalks. He chuckles again, more through his nose, and doesn't loosen the grip on his knife as he sweeps another critical look over the healer. "Bet it don't work as often as you'd like."

It's easy to assign feline characteristics to Logan. Smug and self-satisfied, he resembles — through Sasha's eyes — something that's used to winding its way through someone's legs one moment and popping its claws into their kneecap the next. Mysh had not been the right name for him, diminutive in comparison to Sasha's larger, more athletic frame though he is.

If he started purring, the Russian might not even be that put out. He's seen stranger things during his time with the Vanguard. "I think you would be surprised," he says, his gloved hands finding his pockets, "how rarely women hear these things. Usually they are very gracious."

"Wonder if it works just as well as throwing them up against phonebooths." He sniffs, almost like punctuation, and glances over his shoulder. There are less crimes committed in the winter, and only one clandestine meeting of dubious intent currently being performed out on this street. Logan doesn't go ahead and lower his voice, speaking casually, if with less of a purr than his earlier words. "I've got two names. Friend of Laudani and friend of Beauchamp.

He lifts his chin in a nod towards Sasha. "Do you have money on you?"

Sasha's left hand comes out of his pocket with a battered leather wallet pinched between his fingers. A flick of his wrist snaps it open, and he's thumbing out cash in the moments that follow. American money is ridiculous; all of it looks the same whether you're in the light or in the dark, and there are few moments of fumbling frustration where he squints at the numbers displayed in each bill's corners to ensure that he isn't counting out a five when he should be counting out a fifty. Is that a ten or is it a—

Fuck it. He thrusts out his arm, fist clenched around a folded wad of cash that amounts to what was agreed upon.

Roughly. And just out of reach.

Logan hesitates, before he's edging closer. "'ve seen her at my business with Teo before, and she's come by more than that. Redhead. Fat. Her name's Delilah. The other one— Abigail sent her to me. She's a dream manipulator, straightens out Beauchamp's inner demons, I suppose. Hokuto Ichihara. They're the mice you want." His hand wanders out, now, to take the money he feels he's owed, fingernails clean with that white crescent sliver just long enough to dig in when they find flesh. He's only aiming for the paper-cloth, in this instance.

Sasha parts with the money. No protest, only a short snort blown out through his nostrils when Logan expertly wrests it from him without so much as nicking the vulnerable patch of skin on the inside of his wrist, all soft, dark and exposed with its sinewy system of raised veins.

His aim is, apparently, true.

The Russian jerks his hand back in the next instant and palms his wallet back into his coat pocket, fixing Logan with a sharp look comparable to the raven's keen scrutiny. As if on cue, it leaps of its perch, gives two forceful thrusts of its wings and rises on the breeze into the black just as Sasha's attention is drawn to the source of the commotion. If he recognizes it for what it is, it does not register on his face.

The Englishman doesn't notice. He's counting through the notes, finding the number roughly sufficient, before tucking the folded over pieces of paper into the inner of his coat, lifting his head to shine a smile over at Sasha before letting wool fall back into place. "Easiest thou' I've made in a while, cheers," he says, before clearing his throat for no other reason than to rid it of its itch. Fucking winter. It's meant to be spring, even. "Tell me," he says, keeping that same distance, now, bright green eyes crawling their gaze over Sasha's features, "how much is he paying you?"

"More than you can afford," is Sasha's clipped answer as he pulls his coat tighter around the set of his shoulders and the lean barrel of his chest, one hand clutching its front to hold it closed. The other joins his wallet in its wool pocket. His eyes shift from the lamp post upon which the raven had been perched and settle, perhaps a little uneasily, on the receiver resting in the phone booth's plastic cradle. Maybe he wouldn't be coming down with something if he didn't have to resort to putting it so close to his mouth just to be heard by whoever was on the other end of the line.

Germs. He's supposed to be a doctor, and in this climate he really should know better.

"I don't doubt that," is less clipped, words delivered with more fluidity, if quickly. Logan's smile is easy, and the transition from glowing green eyes that signify negation to a dimmer version that signifies a heightened sense of pleasure and personal satisfaction, visually, is not much to notice. But inwards, there begins that warmth that cosies up to the muscle Sasha calls a heart, squiggles around in the pit of his belly. "But I've an employer who could, you know. Perhaps more than that."

He steps closer, a crunch of ice and gravel, not quite verging into territory of personal space. Germs, and all. "Come on, Sasha, what's the going rate for Russian hired hitmen? Can't hurt you."

Breath fogs in the air between the two men, vapour hemorrhaging from Sasha's nose and mouth as Logan's gift begins to work its insidious magic. Can't hurt you, he says. He'd like to think that the Englishman can't either, but he's been wrong before; as he steps forward, Sasha straightens, spine becoming steely and rigid, hardening him to the effects of the chemicals diffusing through his system.

He knows one or two things about them. In no way does it make him immune, and neither does the stiffness of his posture. The admission he makes next is done out of a desire to see Logan stop rather than any inclination toward forthrightness.

"A life."

Too much of a good thing exists. Logan knows this. He eases off, after a moment's consideration, study and scrutiny now in pale green eyes before his chest swells up in a sigh drawn in, let out in steam that disperses as quickly as it was exhaled. Throat working around a dry swallow, he steps to the left, with the intent to move on by the Russian. It's when his wool clad shoulder brushes up against Sasha's does he pause, and utter, with a quietness meant to a portray a kind of conspiring honesty, nearly pitying, "Then you're being cheated."

With another crunching step, he goes to continue on his way.

Logan can almost feel Sasha's eyes boring into his back. His imagination, of course — Sasha possesses no such ability, and even if he did, malice is entirely absent from his expression as he watches the other man go, his slim figure swallowed up by a thick haze rising from the street where cement cedes to a cast iron grate billowing what looks like plumes of smoke but is really just more of the stuff leaking from the frozen cavities in their faces.

It's very cold.

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