Getting Away With It


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Also featuring:

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Scene Title Getting Away With It
Synopsis The Nightmare Man pays John Logan an overdue visit in the guise of an old friend. Or two.
Date December 7, 2009


If the world could be like this, it would be better. Everything, and everyone, where they should be. The hallway is as long as it needs to be, and as far as Logan is concerned, it's as never ending as the possibilities the future holds. Red velvet lines the floor and muffles his foot steps, and the air is heavy with smoke, a mix of cigarettes and Middle Eastern incense that spills from silver bowls hanging from slender chains. The walls are gilded golden, cluttered in mirrors, in portraits, windows, and many, many doors.

They change, depending. Some are veiled in substanceless gauze, enough that he can spy the silhouettes within them. Others are iron bars, gone dried blood red with rust, slick and harsh when he lets his fingertips dance over them on his way by. Some are simple surfaces of cool wood, of marble, shimmering gold gates.

When he pushes open the glass door with peacock colours inked into it, Wendy is quick to greet him, as quick as she is in the real world. Arms laid bare and pale to wind around shoulders, the silk and shimmer of her dress as blue and green as the decor of her bedroom easily removed. He'd left her without it, and instead of open his eyes once he was finished, the world sustained, continued. He'd moved on as easily as the weather changes, dressed in the gunmetal grey of a suit, silvery lines and black silk beneath. His own reflection in glass and mirror shows hair gone ever golder, eyes a bright green without effort, not the diluted, watery pale that he's never thought to be as severe as they are in reality.

His hand picks out another door, fingers splaying and nails as clear as diamonds.

Behind the door is a room representing everything the Happy Dagger could have been if money wasn't an object and the Linderman Group hadn't reduced it to a derelict pile of smoking rubble. Handmade Moroccan rugs cover a deep, rich mahogany floor and transforms it into a painting filled with vibrant colours that lend warmth to cool stone walls in shade of cream and white. There are mirrors too, wooden lattices that reflect the light and are adorned with hundreds of hand-chiseled pieces of henna-stained camel bone, making the room appear even larger than it really is, illuminated by the glow of hanging lamps made of goat skin stretched around different shapes of handmade wrought iron frames.

In place of chairs, leather ottomans are scattered throughout the room in random formations, some used for low-seating arrangements around even lower tables, others grouped around lavish pillows in dark, secluded corners separated from the rest of the floor by wisps of translucent fabric that shimmers like spidersilk and ripples iridescent in an invisible breeze.

Eileen Ruskin is there, just as Wendy had been, her diminutive shape swathed in material as fine and sheer as the curtains that sequester her. To say that it leaves very little to the imagination would be both accurate and not; here, everything is a product of Logan's desire, some more wanton and gratuitous than others, including the silver bangles around her wrists and ankles, and the emerald green gem in the shape of a teardrop positioned above and between her finely arching brows.

In her inviting sprawl amidst the pillows, one knee hooks around the middle of the wolf's head cane situated between her legs while her left hand grips it below the neck. The right curls ringed fingers around the mouthpiece of a hookah pipe billowing thick silver smoke that smells of sweet tobacco and rose water.

Pinstripe could be too much the businessman in this scenario, but additions flourish into being, if they weren't already there. Fine golden stitching decorates the black leather of his shoes, the tip coming to a point capped with that same metallic tone. Pinstripe glimmers with a little more silver, and the ascot tie secured around a long throat ripples with rich inky black silk secured with a pin sporting a gemstone the same emerald as the one on the woman's brow. Beneath the charcoal and silver of his suit are the glimmers of blood red from a waistcoat. In his dreams, that he is just as tarted up as those he finds is very important. If they don't want him, what else could they possibly give?

God is in the details. The curtains to her room catch against worsted wool and fall back as Logan moves across the threshold, watching her with an avidness that crawls slow up her slender legs, where the cane angles between more or less bared thighs, the flat of her stomach and up to her eyes where a certain amount of intensity lies. It doesn't intimidate him.

Foot steps muffled against rich carpeting as he steps off the fine wooden floors and towards where she lies among silk and velvet. Knees bend, a hand reaches out, first, to touch her ankle, brushing over the loops of silver there before skimming up her calf.

The cane shifts and grants roving fingers access to Eileen's leg, which lifts in response to the touch, tickling Logan's ears with the sound of tinkling metal and the sibilant hiss of fabric gliding smoothly over naked flesh. She was never this receptive to him in waking world, but this isn't reality — the Ruskin girl is whatever he wants her to be in this place, and right now his subconscious dictates that she fancy him as much as he remembers her fancying the bloke whose name she used to moan into his ear.

Her eyes are more feline than human, complete with a slit pupil and irises that edge out the whites, and they watch him with the lazy indolence of a pampered housecat from upon a goose down throne. Lips painted carmine red quirk up into a coy smile that exposes thin slivers of ivory teeth like fangs. "Am I allowed to call you John now?" she asks, her voice a mellifluous purr.

Fingers glide beneath shifting chiffon, nudging aside the drape of slitted skirts as fingers brush all the way up to the back of her knee, further still, beneath the curve of her thigh as he moves all the closer, knees sinking into gathered cushions and blankets. The question gets a smile, all the way to show canines. "Maybe afterwards," Logan says, voice low with promise and coyness, nails running against soft skin as he angles closer.

There's the barest hitch in his movements when he glances towards the cane. In dreaming, everything is recognised, and there's no mistaking the silver wolf head atop the polished wood and metal. Still, he puts on curious affectation in his voice— "Where'd you get that?" Even as he lowers down enough to graze a biting kiss just above her knee.

As Logan lowers his head, the bottom of his chin meets the top of the cane, and Eileen uses it to gently angle his face back up, inspecting it from beneath thick black lashes that are twice as long as they should be and studded with what looks like diamonds. They glitter there like tears — and that is at least familiar, though her pale cheeks are dry and her eyes bright and clear.

"It's mine," she tells him, reaching down to sweep the backs of her fingers along his jaw after setting her pipe aside. Tendrils of smoke seep from her nostrils, turning the air between them opaque. "By right of inheritance. Ask me about it sometime, but not tonight." Pausing to tuck a single strand of hair behind his ear, she allows herself a low, honeyed chuckle and lets the breath flow out of her.

"Why are you here, mm?" A twist of her wrist and she applies more pressure to the wolf's head jutting against his chin, baring his throat. "You don't want to fuck me. You want to fuck my brother."

His hand splays flatter against her thigh as the cold silver of the wolf head angles against softer tension of the underside of his jaw. Eyes hood enough to glance down at it, than back up at her with what he guesses might be severity, though the corner of his mouth still twitches up with feline smugness. "Your brother," Logan repeats, as much as he has his to purr through a tensed jaw, teeth near closed.

"Don't be jealous, Ruskin."

That hand lifts, places fingertips against the wooden shaft of the cane she has angled there, back straightening up a little to reluctantly allow for it. One eye closes in a quick twitch of eyelashes before twin circles of green smile at her. "The night's still young."

"You don't want to fuck me," Eileen says again, no real ire in her voice, though no haughtiness or conceit either. Her tone has ventured into neutral territory, each word careful and precise, spoken in its familiar, breathy accent — to anyone else, exotic, but for Logan it's reminiscent of overcast skies, fresh cut grass and the chalk paint used to mark off the sodden football fields back home. They're both Londoners, born and bred, so perhaps it's not as surprising as it could be when the room around them begins to melt away like watercolours dribbling off a damp canvas, shapes blurring around the edges before they dissolve entirely and are replaced with the city's monochrome backdrop drawn against a slate gray sky.

Cold rain dampens Logan's hair, gathers in his eyes and carves glistening paths down his jaw and neck. Although their positions have not changed, the pillows under Eileen's concave back have been replaced by a flat metal bench upon which they are both sprawled — the topmost tier of an aluminum bleacher overlooking an empty field overgrown with thistle and surrounded by chainlink fencing.

The swell of Eileen's breasts rise and fall beneath the thick woolen fabric of a dark gray peacoat with matte buttons. She's eleven again, or however old she was when they first met, a cardigan sweater paired with her school uniform peeking out from beneath the collar of her jacket. No make-up on her face, only an ugly bruise under her left eye and a split lip scabbed over in the process of healing.

"You want to murder me and dump my body into the Hudson," she says. "Or do you still expect Feng Daiyu to finish that for you?"

The twitch that takes over his body in one movement is an abrupt change from the feline smoothness just prior as he looks up when colours turn from rich golden casts to the murky grey of a London afternoon. Squinting through rain that beats a percussion against tin and the rest of the city, Logan remains poised as he is, for a lack of being entirely certain as to what to do. The sudden vanishing off his fortress leaves him more exposed than expensive designer lines and the peak of red silk can cover - in fact, they make it somehow worse as greasy rain determinedly soaks them through.

Stubborn in his refusal to revert to denim, soft sweaters, grass tracked sneakers - if given the choice. Desire lives on a knife edge, as does Logan, as does this precarious balance between then and now. He looks down at her again, familiarity as he studies the young girl sprawled beneath him, hand lifted as if unsure as to what to do with it.

"It would help," comes out snide, a flash of teeth between cutting consonants. "Can't trust anyone to do anything, though. Always have to do it yourself."

Eileen reaches up and takes that hand, her skin like ice to the touch in comparison to the heat her body had been radiating before, and closes her fingers around it in a gesture that Logan has seen dozens if not hundreds of times before without experiencing himself. He has no children — or at least none that he knows of — and no younger siblings; in spite of all the places he's been and all the things that he's done, the sensation of a little girl seeking comfort in his touch is still strange and alien. Probably a little uncomfortable too, even though it's evident that the situation has lost the sexual context that it had before.

"I used to do this with Nick," she says. "He took me up here sometimes. After school, just the two of us. But that was before you started putting ideas in his head and your tongue in his mouth."

Pattering rain works just as well as a cold shower. The smell of wet grass and staler cigarettes replaces inviting perfumes, and he stares at the hand winding smaller fingers through his before cautiously studying her face instead. The urge to shake her off is easily outweighed by his inability to do so. Chin juts up a little proudly, even as his mouth pulls into a scowl. "I don't want to talk about Nick," and Logan's voice has an edged whine to it that he didn't intend, in favour of the warning he'd been going for.

When was the last time he even said that name out loud, in the context of the boy with black hair and age beaten into him? The last time he'd thought about it had been a happier memory. This doesn't evoke unfurling bliss in his belly. He goes to pull his hand free, to pull away from her. It can't be that far to walk from London to Staten Island.

Eileen's fingers clamp down on Logan's hand with the force of a steel trap and fastens hooked nails into his skin. No eleven-year-old should be that strong. No nineteen or twenty-year-old should, either. "I want to talk about Nick," she insists, and for all the ferocity of her grasp, her voice remains crisp and cool, its tone painfully even. "Why did you do it, Logan? What did he ever do to you to deserve being called a fag? To get spit on, kicked at?"

Her grip tightens further, though not enough to break the skin. Instead, her nails leave raw red marks in crescent shapes and drain the colour from the surrounding tissue. It's starting to sting. "He was your friend. He trusted you. Loved you. You were to him what he was to me, and you fucked him. Not with your dick, either. Why?"

He bares his teeth at the same time as that trap comes down on his hand, a soft sound at the back of his throat at his other hand comes around to grip her wrist. It's not weak, but it holds none of the preternatural steeliness her's does. Any shreds of relaxation have long since vanished, and Logan's suit wrinkles with bridled tension, shoulders curled forward, slacks pulled and Italian leather finding no real grip on slick metal.

"Let go," is growled out, as resistance as a wild animal with its front paw caught in a similar trap. Less so the small hand gripping tight onto his. Her words latch on as as doggedly. "Because I could. Because he thought I wouldn't. Because if I didn't fuck him first, he'd fuck me."

Not to put too fine a point on it.

"Thought he'd tell your friends that you fancy boys?" Eileen asks without releasing his hand. He could pull her, wrench her, heave her and her body might give, peeled easily from the bench beneath them, but her fingers do not loosen — even with the rain making their skin slick, it's impossible for him to twist away and free himself in a violent contortion of movement. She's deriving no pleasure from this. "You were right about one thing," she says then, not waiting for an answer this time. "He fucked somebody."

The rain is coming down harder now, glancing off the bleachers and bubbling up from the gutters below. Rot fills the air, that earthy smell of decomposing flesh that clung to Eileen the night she came for Logan in his apartment, consequence of an ability she no longer has. When she speaks, her lip curls, exposing teeth tinged pink with blood. "If it weren't for you, we could have been happy. Battersea, remember? Deptford. Chelsea. The little sister he couldn't leave. Did you ever send him that picture when you went to Mexico? The one with the donkey painted like a zebra?"

Another wrench back, only to pull her with him, but not closer. Rain threatens to make such struggles treacherous, enough edges of metal to catch before soft muddy weed-strewn grass can be hit. All the while, Logan keeps eyes trained on her's, open defiance in the set of his jaw and the way his back curves away from her, arm tense and awkward in its locking grip. "You'd never be fucking happy," he spits back, all harsh South London snarling. "It's not my fault, what I did— what he did to you. Too damaged. Too easy to damage."

There's that scent, sickly, striking him suddenly as familiar. The stinging pain of degeneration of the woman's wrath made manifest and unleashed. Logan shivers under wet clothes, panic suddenly seizing him. A leg slips, threatening to send them both crashing down as he gives one final yank against her hold.

She lets go.

In Logan's dreams, there is no such thing as real time because nothing here is real — and yet the world around him seems to slow as momentum pulls him back, and his leg simultaneously buckles beneath him with the shrill squeak of expensive shoes on metal grating. It would be more merciful to let him fall or even push him over the railing, allow gravity to claim him, but that isn't what happens. What happens is this:

Nicholas' shadow cuts across the Englishman's suited figure, wolf's head cane clutched in his callused hands like a professional thug wields a crowbar against an opponent in a brawl, and swings it in an upward arc as Logan's head is coming down. It connects with his skull with the sound of a sledgehammer hitting a melon, though the noise itself is unaccompanied by crackling bone or the wet spray of brain matter spattering against the bench. A symphony rings in his ears instead, and blood mingles with the rainwater in his hair, running hot and red down the back of his neck and staining the collar of his shirt.

What Logan lacks in creativity, he makes up for in sheer experience - and what is the imagination if not an assortment of memories? It's all a little too real when the impact steals away his sense of gravity, buckling beneath it and coming to slam down upon metal in a tangle of limbs and a belated cry of pain and shock. A hissing curse, next, as fingers grip onto the metal edges in a white knuckles grasp.

Fearing the next blow— because there never isn't a second one, as far as Logan knows— he levers himself in a desperate scrabble, with all the struggle of an insect trying to rock itself back upright, and manages to get on his back. There are better and worse places to be.

"Nick— " His voice comes out as a reedy plea.

The cane comes down again, this time aimed for Logan's ribs rather than his head. Nicholas' sneaker-clad foot pins him to the floor at the middle, digging his heel into the other man's gut. He's not the boy he remembers — to tall, too haggard, his sopping hair a tangled mop of black hanging from his head and veiling hazel eyes with oil. Pockmarks have mostly healed over, though he retains some of acne scars received in his youth, and while his nose is still too big for his face, the young man has grown into his features and somehow achieved a haggard kind of handsomeness that's only enhanced by the stubble lining his jaw.

Twenty-three or twenty-four, give or take a year or two in either direction — it's impossible to say. Numbers elude him and so does the ability to process them. As Eileen moves back into view, her eyes are glowing acid green, pupils dilated and limned with impossibly bright light.

"Everything comes full circle, John. You fuck my brother, my brother fucks me— the next thing you know, I'm selling your whore pills to help you sleep." Through the pain, pleasure blossoms in the pit of his belly and winds serpentine through his body in every direction, filling his legs and his loins, the cavity of his chest and the lesser erogenous zones, tingling in his clavicles, the softer skin of his inner arms and the dorsal side of his elbows, mouth and ears too. It isn't arousal, not at all, but a building sense of euphoria that increases in intensity as Eileen's voice does.

"Did you really think you could get away with it?"

Hands grip clammily, weakly, onto the calf of the leg stapling him to the ground, Logan letting out a gasping keen before focusing, staring up at the man grown. Something twists, like the way his legs in real life shift the sheets of his bed into a tangle, the raising of hackles or compulsion behind the fetal position, too instinctive to understand. Evocation at Eileen's voice, cracking emphasis over his name, or some kind of shield, a glamour.

Blood looks even more shocking against the straw-white of longer hair, sweater soft and overlarge on the stickish frame of the younger man pinned to the ground. There's dirt under the nails that claw at Nicholas' leg.

It's still raining, and Logan flinches against it, warmth gathering at the corners of his eyes at the mixed feelings of bruises and the hazy responses that nearly draw a sigh from him. When he opens his eyes, pale glass meets the poisonous vibrancy of her's, then up towards Nick, breathing with a welling panic. The heel digging into his midsection drives the air out of him, so it's only voiceless that the please is given.

The plea is met with the sound of steel sliding from its sheath. Nicholas draws the hidden blade from the cane in one smooth motion, droplets of rain bouncing off its surface, and for an instant Logan can make out his reflection glinting back at him, metal winking in the diluted light. Carrion birds alight on the railing, clawed feet scrabbling against the metal as the squabble with each other for purchase, wing-to-wing, beak-to-beak. They crowd the bleachers in hordes, their wings flashing obsidian, eyes black too, small and hungry in their ugly faces. With them they bring more of the stench, overpowering even the smell of wet earth with the rancidness maggots and coffin flies are born from.

Eileen has no final statement, no terse order to execute. Nicholas does that without any input or coaxing from his baby sister. The blade comes down beside his foot and pierces cleanly through Logan's clothes, slivering swift between his ribs and perforating whatever organs separate its point from his spine. It's a paralyzing blow rather than a fatal one, for reasons that may not be clear to Logan until the first bird launches itself off the railing and lands on the man's stomach around the time Nicholas is retrieving the blade, pulling it back and out.

He finds his voice in time for the blade to slide slickly through him, tearing from his throat like it's trying to escape in a howl of pain, and there's no amount of endorphins or serotonin in the world to mask that as anything less than it is. Logan doesn't try to grab the sword, deflect it, anything so useless — not that the pleading grip onto denim of the other man's leg is particularly handy for anything other than pity. Blood is quick and dark to flood grey cotton, and slower to brim at pale lips and stain teeth.

Letting go, Logan desperately lays his hands over the wound even as bird claws are finding purchase. Copper-tasting liquid floods warmly between long fingers, and the wheezing, panicked breaths sound wetter on each draw. His legs aren't working— again— and the whine that he makes is almost animal-like.

The words are certainly human, however. Hokuto would be familiar with this, the mad scrabble of desperation when everything else runs out in an adolescent response to fix it— "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, just— help me— " The Ruskins are blurry figures out his swimming periphery.

Help comes in the form of buffeting wings, slashing claws and tearing beaks. The flock descends, covering Logan's body like flies cover food left to turn in the sun, and as they jockey for the best position on the buffet that Nicholas has opened for them, the pleasurable sensation begins to abate and recede at a trickle, leaving him as his blood does. One bird comes away from between Logan's fingers with something thick and stringy in its beak, another with an unraveling cord of muscle that undulates with movement.

The birds are helping, but they're helping each other. There's only one way out of this, and that involves Logan helping himself.

Wake up.

And he does, but only after the unforgiving birds descend, and he screams as much at their fearlessness and cruelty as he does at their tearing talons and prying beaks. Legs don't kick, he can barely feel his arms, or anything that isn't the ragged ruin of his gut being fed from.


The air tastes humid in comparison to cold rain, the indulgent scent of prior cigarette smoke, wine— traces of familiarity, and even the scent of human sweat and copper blood isn't so misplaced. For a moment, Logan lies sprawled, shocked into reality in a tangled of bed sheets in his— beside his bed, he can feel that now, and the damp cool of tears on his face as he angles his forehead against the crook of his elbow and shudders back weeping.

Then, sharp pains draw him from that more esoteric ache some people might call guilt, alighting off his shoulders when he registers that he did indeed detect blood. In the dim light, it smears black on his torso, a soft, dejected oh of realisation voiced into the darkness. By the time he's helping himself by way of a phone number that isn't actually 911, the ever present switchblade still hidden in the folds of his bedsheets is long forgotten.

On the other side of Logan's bedroom window, obscured by the rain cutting multiple paths down the glass pane, a raven with a band of silver on its leg watches the man going through the motions of fumbling with his phone. It does not, however, linger long enough to finish observing him place the call.

By the time it's ringing tinny in his ear, its hunched shadow has disappeared, leaving behind no evidence that it was ever even there.

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