If You Bitch Enough


caliban_icon.gif logan_icon.gif

Scene Title If You Bitch Enough
Synopsis Caliban updates Logan on their most recent acquisitions and asks him for a favour.
Date October 16, 2010

Divine Touch Drycleaning

It was 10:15 am when Robert Caliban set foot in Divine Touch Drycleaning, and 10:17 am when the owner finally emerged from the back room, reeking of cannabis and some other, earthy aroma that the publicist couldn't quite put his finger on. It's 10:35 am now, and in Caliban's most humble opinion, it shouldn't take eighteen fucking minutes for them to find his clothes, but that's exactly how long he's been standing at the front desk, mouth set into a hard line with blond brows drawn low over pale blue eyes affixed to the wall clock.

Every now and then, he fiddles with the wedding band around his ringfinger to keep his hands preoccupied, but rather than soothe his anxietes, this gesture only serves to make him more frustrated and impatient until his teeth are grinding and he can feel the toe of his polished leather shoe bumping lightly against the floor with every tick of the second hand.

What in God's name is taking them so long?

Somewhere behind him, the door swings open and shut. Probably just another customer coming to slow down the process even further.

Or not, even. The figure that drifts up to his side is too familiar in its proximity, and the powerful combination of nicotine, both stale and fresh, as well as expensive cologne, probably tell Caliban everything he needs to know, too. A business card is set down next to Caliban's hand on the countertop, with Yourstyle Tailoring written in cursive with business details in fineprint. "If they take more than ten minutes, they knock off about thirty percent of the fee if you bitch enough."

Logan comes to rest his back against the counter, dressed nearly casual. For him, anyway, in a sweater, jeans, a leather jacket, all of which are variations on expensive. Sunglasses that are a little arbitrary for the hazy day outside are perched atop his head, although he has that mildly hungover demeanor that might explain it, with slight grizzled unshavenness lining his jaw, a shade or two darker than blonde curls. "One of the better alteration services for menswear in Brooklyn," he adds, helpfully.

The business card makes a scratchy sound under the pads of Caliban's fingers as he drags it off the counter, turns it between his knuckles and then flicks his eyes between the script and the new arrival. Mirth livens his sullen expression, and he slips it into his coat pocket for safekeeping. "Yourstyle Tailoring," he repeats. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind. Thank you."

There's a loud clatter from the back room and the splintering crackle of broken glass crunching under somebody's shoes. Muffled cursing in a language that both men at the counter understand but cannot decipher thanks to the roar of a passing garbage truck that rumbles along on the street outside. "You've not been stalking me, have you?" is a facetious question. Mostly.

"You, old chap? Not in the least. Just the receptionist at the Linderbuilding mentioned you were down 'ere and I figured I'd swing by." Logan drags the sunglasses off his head to fold them up properly, tossing a glance ceilingwards as he secures tinted spectacles within a pocket, then hitches both elbows up onto the counter behind him in a casual lean. "Besides, you're not even on the list — company ink and all that. Not that you aren't— " And his pale eyes switch towards Caliban's hands instinctively—

And what he sees there stalls out his words. Hesitation, before one hand snakes out to grip Caliban's wrist. "What the fuck?" he asks the wedding band, more than the man wearing it.

Oh, this old thing? I've had it for ages— Caliban starts to say. Bites the tip of his tongue, because that's stupid and Logan isn't. His fingers curl into a fist, and he twitches his wrist free of the younger man's grasp. "Don't judge me," are the first words out his mouth instead. "I'm old."

As far as excuses go, it's fairly weak and he knows it, which is probably why he straightens his back, squares his shoulders and smooths imaginary wrinkles from the front of his charcoal-coloured dress shirt worn beneath his black suit jacket and heavier greatcoat. It gets cold in October. "So I've beaten you to it," he says. "What of it?"

Abusive retort is obviously threatening to fly out of Logan's mouth, or something resembling it, from the way he opens his mouth to speak and then visibly bites it back, sneaks a quick glance towards the back room. Pinches his mouth shut in muppet-like consternation, that hand that had snatched Caliban's wrist hovering neglected in the air. "B— " Thinks again, and then lowers his voice into stage whisper. "Beauchamp?"

Maybe he didn't marry Abigail! Maybe he married someone more age appropriate and someone Logan didn't cut the tongue out of. Maybe he—

"She's not Beauchamp anymore," Caliban feels compelled to point out. "And why not? Unless for some inexplicable reason you wake up one morning in my bed, the two of you don't have to socialize outside of public functions, and those are few and far between these days." Defensiveness prickles up and down the back of his neck. "Is there a reason you're whispering?"

It occurs to him only after the words have left his mouth that he's whispering, too, and irritation pulls down the corners of his mouth. "We," he corrects himself in a low grumble. "Is there a reason we're whispering?"

"Because if I don't whisper," Logan whispers, "I may yell at you."

Pushing his weight off the counter, this is not immediately followed by breezing out the store. Hands plant on hips as he thinks, before, managing a more normal tone of voice, he adds, "You could have said it straight 'way, that's a rather mean surprise of you. As for 'why not'— the woman is terrible for business. You're the one rattling on about smart matches and respectability at me, and 'ardly call her particularly smart. On any level. But fine." Fine.

A quirk of half-smirk as he concedes, "You are getting on a bit. Take what you can get, and everything. Why wasn't I invited?" He could take the last half minute as answer enough — but somehow, the question is honest, near insulted.

"Yes," Caliban concedes, "I'm also rather mean. Also: you weren't invited because there wasn't anything to invite you to. In these dark times of political and economic crisis, I eschewed the ceremony and put the money toward a vacation in Barcelona this Christmas." He lowers his hand. Self-consciously slips it, and the wedding band, into the pocket of his coat. "You're welcome to come along," he adds, perhaps in an attempt to smooth the waters, but the underlying sincerity beneath the words is genuine.

"You and whoever it is that you're with." The scrape of a broom and more tinkling glass tells him that he and Logan are likely to be here awhile longer, and at this he grinds out a thin sigh. Divine Touch Drycleaning isn't his place of choice to discuss business, but it's clear that the only people listening aren't people at all. They're the fish drifting listlessly in the saltwater aquarium on the other side of the waiting area.

"I've balances for you to look over this evening," he says. "Deeds. Things are starting to come together on my end. If something were to happen tomorrow, there's enough set aside to last a decade between us, provided that we're careful. Longer if the investments themselves hold. What do you think?"

Pale eyes roll a little at the offer, or the part about whoever it is he's with — too many people who might go whom he wouldn't take, too many people he'd take who wouldn't go. "On Barcelona?" Logan asks, facetiously. "Cheers but no thanks, I've a feeling I need to keep my feet on New York City soil lest someone steal it out from under me. As for the balances, I've made no plans for the evening." His glance sneaks unapologetically towards where Caliban stole away the wedding band.

Seems to forget about it a few moments later, as he wanders towards the fish tank, things that move and are shiny stealing away his attention. Logan taps a primly cut nail against the glass surface, like you're not meant to do. "And I like math."

A clown fish darts away from Logan's outstretched finger, a shimmer of white and orange outlined in black, and disappears behind a coral archway under which something that resembles a pincushion is lurking. Its eyes are unkind, and it stares back at Logan, unperturbed.

"There's another thing," Caliban says, "but it's personal, and it has to do with Abigail. I won't hold it against you if you say no." There's a slim leather briefcase on the floor at his feet, and he stoops down to pick it up before setting it on the counter so he can pinch open the clasps with a combination of forefinger and thumb. He withdraws an unmarked manila envelope that feels heavier than it looks. "It's a good thing you do." Like math. "There's over two hundred pages of it for New York City alone."

Fingertip follows the path of the fish for a few inches, before boredom has Logan turning his back on the tank, coming to lean against the corner as he sets his sights on the pages that the man is lifting from his briefcase. The Brit remains in his slouch, hands sequestered into pockets, as opposed to moving forward to take them back. Instead, Logan cuts a suspicious stare towards Robert, and eventually asks, "What's to do with Beauchamp?"

"Negation drugs," says Caliban. "She can't quit them. Not easily, at any rate. I was hoping you might be able to use your ability to smooth out the process." He sets the envelope down on the counter, his fingers splayed protectively across it even though it's in no danger of being plucked away. "She's opened a dessert bar in SoHo. Oh So Sweet. It would be unfortunate for everyone involved, especially her employees, if the business were to go under before it even has the chance to succeed.

"I can pay," he adds, because that probably bears saying too, "but the more preoccupied she is with her own endeavors, the less interest she's going to take in mind, and you know how nosy that woman can be."

"Hang on." That does have Logan moving back across the foyer, a hand up onto counter as if to catch himself — or place the envelope within snatching distance for all that he does not yet make a move for it. The gears are turning, or at least, an attempt to rifle through memory of someone he doesn't care for and doesn't even keep track of very closely, for all that he might want to. But he's pretty sure— pretty sure none of this makes particular sense.

And that's not even getting around to whether he'll do it or not. "What's she need negation drugs for?"

From beneath hooded eyes, Caliban studies the expression on Logan's face, his head canted slightly to the side as though adjusting the angle of his chin might allow him to better hear his voice and identify its inflections. It doesn't work that way, of course, but his subconscious seems to think that it does. He drums his fingers against the folder.

"If I tell you," he says, perhaps hoping that Logan's curiosity will outshine his natural dislike of the woman they're discussing, "will you agree, or are you simply going to hold it over my head until it's most convenient for you to tell someone else?"

That splits a wide grin on Logan's face, abrupt and startling, but genuine. "That's a gamble, innit." Running tongue over teeth, Logan glances back down at the folder as if honestly considering what he'd do with such information, before he tips his head in a gesture of concession, hand up to scratch at the itch of an unshaven jaw, fingernails scraping along the grain. "I'll do it," he says, because curiousity is one of those easy winners.

And maybe some intrigue, which manifests as a dim fire reflected behind pallid irises and dice pip pupils, although his expression is all neutral, business-like chilliness. And expectant.

"She's manifested a new ability. Nothing like the healing. More volatile. Dangerous." And before Logan can ask, Caliban lifts both of his blond brows. "She's registered, mind. That isn't the problem, but the Suresh Center isn't going to be of much help, and this is new medicine. You understand how the body works better than anyone else I know."

His hand retreats, and he uses it to snap the briefcase shut again as he lowers his eyes, gaze slid sideways. "It's a mimicry of sorts. Flame. The drugs have been helping her keep it under control, though she has a fair enough handle on it now."

Logan's fingers snag the envelope closer so as better to open it right then and there and peer inside, occupying himself with trolling through the sheaths of paper within, his head at a tilt so as to better view its contents without needing to upend the whole thing. Shaped eyebrows raise, before he's creasing closed the envelope and folding it over so as to better hold — and also gesture with. "She'll need one more helping of it. Or a couple more doses, just to have on hand. Make sure she calls ahead instead of— fucking— showing up at my business again.

"I'd rather come to her, this time."

"Solstice Condominiums. You'll find the nameplate on the mailboxes outside. We're still in the process of getting sorted, but you can drop by whenever you'd like. I can tell her to expect you—" Caliban is interrupted, at long last, by the crinkle of fresh plastic as a man sweeps out from the back room, the publicist's drycleaning draped over his arm. He trades it for his credit card.

"If you'd prefer," he says, while the transaction is taking place, his words directed at Logan rather than the man on the other side of the counter (who is making a point to meet neither Caliban nor Logan's eyes), "you can seek her out at the bar, but I make no guarantees. You're more likely to corner one of her employees, and if her hiring practices at Old Lucy's are anything to judge by. Well."

"I'll seek her out when and where is good at the time," Logan dismisses — or maybe, is honest. The envelope is tucked beneath leather jacket, the item closed with silvery steel zipper and an arm acting as a protective wing over the important paperwork. His other hand extracts his sunglasses, opens them with his teeth, slips them onto his face to turn tinted-purple glass towards the employee across from them. "Get this man a discount, would you? For fuck's sake. This is New York City, it pays to be competitive."

He turns, but not before placing a hand on Robert's shoulder, casting a look at him over the silver rims of sunglasses. "Congratulations, Robert," is richly delivered, too sincere to be so, before Logan is headed for the door.

It's not until the door has swung shut behind him again that Caliban tilts a look back at the man behind the counter who, still holding the credit card, has captured his lower lip between his teeth. There's a moment of silence, punctuated by the muffled sounds of traffic on the other side of the door, and the gurgle of the fish tank in the corner.

The clown fish has reappeared with a flicker of its brightly-coloured tail and fins, and drifts toward the surface of the water in search of floating morsels that it might have missed the last time it was fed.

"How does ten percent sound?"

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