John Logan's Birthday Wish


logan_icon.gif mu-qian_icon.gif

Scene Title John Logan's Birthday Wish
Synopsis In this world, most miracles are twenty bucks a pop, but it's a special occasions. His birthday's the coincidence, but Toru's death
Date October 29, 2009

Red Hook — Meat


Time flies, when you're having fun.

This is not that fun, and time is crawling by like a snail race. There are windows on either side of the room, ones with horizontal blinds that send in ribbons of moonlight and the ambience of distant streetlamps, and these peer out into the Red Hook neighbourhood, a view of the Narrows afforded to the generous office. On the other side, wider windows, left open and clear to stare out and down towards the expansive space of the meat packing warehouse, a jungle of unmoving conveyor belts, hanging chains with wicked hooks, cattle cages, and one broken down fork lift.

Noisy metal stairs wind up the wall, forcing one to climb to get to the office space, which has all been stripped of furniture save for a heavy oak desk that's remained for goodness knows what reason. It's a solitary altar, and so perhaps appropriate that Logan's chosen this perch rather than the dirty, stripped wooden floor.

A flask and a needle. These things have fallen to the ground, shoved off the desk to accommodate Logan's somewhat fetal resting place, an arm folded beneath his head, breathing slowly, small. One leg hangs off the edge, at an angle that would eventually grow sore on the knee if he felt that far. His rib cage expands, contracts with very careful breaths that hurt inside and out, the black fabric of an unbutton shirt veiling damage that the white wife beater beneath doesn't completely hide, as blood from pulled stitches continually soaks into cotton, dries hard and flaky. That's the least of his problems.

This was a really, really bad idea. Very obviously. And he wishes he were unconscious. Breathing in, air catches in his throat, draws out painful when blood rattles down into his lungs, and with a hissed curse, Logan pushes himself to rest on his back, shut his eyes. Sweat prickles on his brow as nausea, intense to the point of pain, roils up, soothes back down. Soon, he will have to call— Caliban, or someone. That will be embarrassing.

This is the second time in a few months that this happened in this particular way, the third that it's happened at all, and it's beginning to piss Zhang Mu-Qian the fuck off that it is.

Her temper is expressed by the echoing ring, click and clangor of her heels ascending the stairs, troubled, imbalanced but not quite overturned by the uneven emboss and stipple of the metal corrugation. For this expedition, her wardrobe is as close to practical as it was ever going to get, but that's only saying a lot for her. Wedge heels instead of pick ones, and her coat is not excessively voluminous in its pale foof, this once, though its tails still hang low enough to have picked up an unseemly rimming and daub of wet rust along the way.

Zhao gao. This place— she doesn't even know what it is. Office buildings are a dime a dozen across this chunk of New York state, and it seems deliberately obtuse that John couldn't have picked something on Manhattan Island. He has a van: the blue one. He has at least one employee who can drive on the correct side of the road. As with Deckard's having incited her back to Staten, and even Special Agent Ivanov and his magical adventure to Midtown, the inconvenience easily outcompetes any conceivable need for secrecy.

Car keys jingle. "If you die," she tells the blood-sodden heap of male misery and raggedly concealed injury on the secretary's table, "my headache will stop. Did you know that?" Do you understand what I'm saying?

On the contrary, Red Hook is quite close to his work place. Not that he's been there since, oh, Tuesday. No, there are other reasons. Important ones. Just the one, actually.

The metallic thunk-thunk-thunk of stairs ascending is, at first, faint enough that maybe Logan is starting to hear things, than too definite to deny. An elbow juts out, an attempt at sitting up, but that's almost as bad an idea as what would him here and so he slackens like dead weight as Mu-Qian steps inside. Still, he secures his broken hand, palm only, fingers slack, against the edge of the desk, and pulls himself over to face her. There's blood on his teeth, when he allows a flicker of a smile.

"I'm not— " Breathe in, breathe out, voice raw. "Dying."

That might not be true, Logan can't tell, and anyway, it hurts like fuck, and he's hungover. If there are worse ways to spend your Thursday night, he hasn't heard of them. "Don't go."

The woman's white fingers open like a star in the half-dark, close again. There's about a half second's warning, an intimation of movement shuddering through the musculature of the Englishman's shoulder, trembling through cell walls, the lining of his esaphogus, and cartlidge and stomach, before the gesture translates its ruthless totality of motion neatly around the shape of John Logan's heart.

She looks, for a moment (not that Logan is necessarily looking— under such or similar circumstances, heartburn, cardiac palpitations or arrhythmia, one's eyes tend to water and thus generate visual distortions), genuinely surprised that this works. Either because she hadn't been entirely aware of how much abuse the flamboyant erstwhile pimp had taken over the past few months, or because— you know. Oh. You have one.

Fortunately, the pressure she exerts over that crucial muscle isn't direct. Isn't that direct, anyway, more of a cramp in his chest and convulsion of the cavity than her having at origami with the core physical machine of John Logan's life. She releases it, abruptly, as quickly as she'd seized it. Steps closer, though she thinks, by now, that Logan would have reversed his earlier desire. She squints down at him, a cat determining the fate of an insignificant mouse.

It hurts more than it has a right to, for as much as she could do. Logan's limbs go stiff and then contract, body curling if not completely as pain seizes through him. Likely scarier than it hurts, to be honest, and a sharp whine eases out of his raw throat, eyes squeezing shut as if that were any kind of method of hiding.

As for hearts, yes, he has one, and it depends on your point of view as to what kind of pain surrounding it makes fractures widen enough for him to need to choke back a miserable sob. The cynic would be more correct than the romantic, but he's usually braver than this. Prouder. It could well be a mixture of both. Toru's dead and he's going to die anyway and it's all so— bloody—

Unfair. If it's not one thing! He doesn't need to demand she stop before she already is, giving him room enough to get angry.

Water doesn't make his gaze any softer. Sharper, even, green eyes turned a shock of cloudy grey as he glares up at her, a bruise and dried blood in the corner of his mouth. "I missed you. To think— " In, out. "To think I missed you. I'll give— give him back if you help me. Then you'll never— never see me again." There's no please, in there.

The Chinese woman's accent has always been a mark against her in speaking with Logan, whose English one boasts a vestige of the Queen's elegance, a seeming of intelligence and education with its appeal to Anglophilic sensibilities inculcated in cultures the whole world over. No one sounds more fluent in English than the English. "You are so selfish. So selfish." In other words, they both sound petulant, but he's better at it. "I was good to you.

"For months and months. I healed your girls, your boys, your stupid arena men, and all you had to do was find him for me." There was more to it than that, of course. He gave her money, a roof over her head. She handled a few negotiations, paraded herself as arm candy, shored up whatever personnel management was necessary that the desk girl was too busy to handle when the whores got moody— something they managed despite the supposed regulation of pills. Mu-Qian is incensed, though, too angry and narrowly curious to want to go through the enumerated list.

Too angry to wrap her head around the fact that they're talking about the same him. "I'm a mother. You aren't my son. You do not get to be selfish with me."

Being lectured by a woman is not something Logan is known for tolerating, and so when he does start trembling, it's out of rage along with pain and injured pride, but he hasn't much choice. Even if he wasn't hurting. There is more mercy to be stamped upon, here, than even Mu-Qian can sense. She never healed Toru. She doesn't know he lies at the bottom of a walk-in freezer, with skin that had gone a scary shade of pale and blue, frost like lace decorating eye sockets, clinging to bleachy hair, the corners of his slack mouth. Maybe gone black in places by now, Logan doesn't know, he'd stopped checking in after a while.

Despite clear liquid gathering along the side of his nose, leaking down from pale eyes and curving black eyelashes, caught there thanks to the tip of his head against the desk, Logan bleats out a rasping fit of laughter that barely boils over into the full thing, and ends with him choking on it anyway. He turns his head enough to muffle it into the crook of his elbow. Takes a moment to breath.

His voice is thick. "I'm not being selfish." For once, he's not. Except he is, still. But this doesn't feel it. "I don't want you to help me." Correction: he does, because it hurts a lot, but Logan is starting to get a sense of the cost, the steepness of their negotiations.

That's different. Seven words, a million different interpretations, and already Mu-Qian knows: this is different. Something about the tremble, maybe the laughter framing the word choice or the edge of hysteria etched into the laughter, the cloying sentiment crowding his words. Her lips curl back, don't whiten because she's wearing a perfect frosted shade of lipstick, matte underneath and gloss over it, a double layer enough to disguise the anemically pale evidence of annoyance or skepticism. Which is fine, of course. She does a good job presenting both sentiments all over the rest of her.

Eventually, she chooses to herch the side of her hip on the table. Not before skimming fingers across the top and checking them, of course, but there's no facetious excess in that gesture when she could grimace or roll her eyes at the state of Logan and his chosen facility of operation. She doesn't. Merely perches, her slim legs hung sidesaddle over the table's edge, coat hanging pristine except where the rust and grime are catching. He's being reassessed. "Linderman?" she guesses. "Another superior?" What favors is Logan trying to buy this time? From whom?

Tempting as it is to grip onto her arm, dig claws in and keep them there for as long as it takes, Logan keeps his hands to himself. An arm folds around his midsection where cramps shimmer sick through aching muscle. The other keeps a hand gripping onto the desk. She's listening to him, even as he goes mute and shakes his head.

Not a superior. Certainly not Linderman. Would the subject matter hurt his argument? Doesn't bear thinking about. It can't be avoided. "Boy. J— " Pain, again, not from Mu-Qian. Enough to make his skin a pinched kind of paler. The flat of Logan's hand connects against the surface of the desk, pain tearing up his healing fingers.

Focusing. "Just a boy. Satoru." Does she recall that name? He'd been a recent addition. Avoided her. Something to do with racism, whatever. No one does that better than the English anyway. "He's dead."

It doesn't help her temper any that Logan's injuries are still grating on her sensibilities. Or that the Russian out there isn't yet fully recovered, but neither cacophony is loud enough to drown out her capacity to listen and hear the ex-pimp's plight out for what it is. Boy, just a boy. Mu-Qian recognizes the name, albeit only vaguely. Few of the men deliberately avoided her outright: she's easy on the eyes, well-mannered, useful, certainly inclined to make friends who bear ethnic reminder of her homeland.

Ran off crying or something, the one time. The girls are wont to gossip, and Mu-Qian is, as demonstrated, a remarkably good listener. That explains a little. Not everything. "Somehow, he's more useful to you than I am," she observes, her voice slow, discomfitted above the wet twitch of Logan's pulse and the spasmodic grasp of his fingers on the furniture.


The Chinese woman takes her insufferably sweet time raising a hand to her mouth, pressing pink tongue down the line of her own index digit, before reaching to soothe it down the swollen backs of his own knuckles. There's a corkscrewing of subdermal movement, regrowth in his ruined hand. Psychic effort wasted on him, which might be sweet or deliberately obtuse. "I would like you to explain."

Well he's not going to recoil, or protest, or really do anything to stop her. Eyes more vacant than usual settle on where her hand touches his, eases the ongoing bone-deep ache, the torn flesh over it. The splint fixing three fingers side by side becoming even more annoying than before. Logan isn't in the correct— read: default— mindset to think it's sweet.

"'s not about useful." Words as raspy as a cat's tongue. The sulk in his voice is certainly the type to lick wounds, too. "He's not— that good. Talks too much. Gets angry too quick. What does it matter to you?"

An accusing look is swiveled up, realising too late that he's explaining himself to her. Nostrils flare as he takes in a breath. "What does it matter to you what he— he matters to me? Makes no sodding difference at all." As if perhaps this moment too something out of him, Logan's head rests back again against the desk. "I would've kept you too." Back to sulky.

A spit's worth of disorganized prototypical biological material isn't enough to fix his hand, though it alleviates a little bit of the pain for that initial part. The healing slows in a few seconds but doesn't stop, merely concedes to the traffic complications of extruding Mu-Qian's peculiar substance out of her pores instead of the easier quantity of a licking tongue. Either that or, you know. She doesn't want to sprain anything, however urgent his subjective pain seems to indicate it is that she help.

He did this to himself, anyway. That's supposed to matter. Faint lines etch themselves in around Mu-Qian's nostrils at the sudden wave of booze stink that comes up from Logan's breath, the one that buoys his answer up to where she can hear it. "You stole Wu-Long's photograph out of my room and you made fun of me," she answers, her voice equal parts acid and low, steady as the crawl of regenerative tissue inside his skin. "Of course it matters."

His eyes slide closed, more exasperation than defeat or weariness or fear. Women and their sensitivities. Not that he, apparently, can talk. God, this was meant to be so different. This power was meant to be his, not just the bargaining chip in his hand. Just— he couldn't find her. So she'd found him.

And look where they are. "I can give it back," is just above a whisper, his own voice low. It would be classified as 'bedroom' if he weren't dying, or similar. "The photograph. Kept it in a lockbox and it survived the fire, 'long with— " He sniffs, tries to settle a little more comfortably. His side twinges. "'Long with other things. If you want it back, you'll help." Not classifications of me, this time, not even him.

His other hand, unbroken, is clean, and reaches for her. Despite his state, his fingernails are immaculate, and he comes to touch her arm. While usually so subtle in his manipulations, or at least graceful, it's almost clumsy now as serotonin kicks up, as his pale eyes glow like the hide of a grass snake. Unabashed as well as clumsy.

Other people don't want to be kept, though it's vaguely surprising when they wouldn't appear to mind. Mu-Qian's minor demonstration in physiological puppetry matched with Logan's persistent acceptance of the healing and what she can, would, has done with it resolve into weird new details in the mental portrait she has of him. Less the control freak, somehow, an adjustment of formerly identifiable and self-regulating priorities.

Could mean some edifying metamorphosis has taken place inside the imprisoning crysallis of childish egocentricity and biologically hard-wired psychopathy. Or it could mean he's losing his mind.

Were this portrait literal, the might have decided to shift the shade of blue that represents his irises slightly closer to red than green, steepened the shadows around them. One ought not mistake warm colors for sympathetic sentiment; there's nothing more sanguine than spilled blood, after all. She couldn't possibly have missed the fact that he was looking for her. Her hair swings its tail over her shoulder, striping her cheek with a long shadow. "You know I don't like to be rude," the woman offers, presently. "But a photograph, even a very nice photograph with many nice feelings behind it, is not worth as much as resurrecting a dead man."

Get out of jail free card, Charlie's golden ticket, a passport and a ticket out of England and this one, the glossy photograph of a rather handsome Chinese chap thrown back at him as not good enough. Logan is shocked— shocked!— for the space of several seconds, blinking glassy cat-green eyes up at her, the sound of his breathing a continual wheeze in and out of a scorched throat. His hand constricts on her arm, loosens again.

It has to be good enough. "It'd heal you. This would heal me. Fair's fair."

He believes it, too, that these things are of equal value. As if the photograph could really replace Wu-Long in her heart, or maybe more accurately, Toru is a simple token he requires in his possession, alive and kicking. And so there's a panicked edge to his voice, confused, as he adds, "I've got money— "

The grip torquing on her arm draws Mu-Qian's eye, but doesn't worsen her expression around a scowl, judgment, annoyance, anything like that. She turns her gaze back to her work, or at least her hand clasped over it, considering.

She could explain about how many pedestrians she almost ran over driving over here, trying to follow that vague and ephemeral tug of sixth sense. If she hit someone, if she got caught, she'dve lost her son. Her son has higher emotional intelligence than John Logan, even, to think that a photograph could balance out the scale with a corpse weighting the plate at the other end. Really, if she didn't have equivalently low emotional intelligence, she'd probably find that infuriating enough to stomp out of this compound.

"Two hundred and fifty hundred thousand dollars," she offers, finally, serene as a stone bodhisattva. "And the photograph as a gift. And you keep Satoru out of trouble as well as you can after that: I don't like these feelings."

"Two 'undred— "

Thunk. The back of Logan's skull connects with the desk as his neck slackens, long throat contracting around the rest of the ridiculous sum being proposed to him. His answer manifests in the compulsive shake of his head, gaze swimming and anger sparking bright in green eyes. His hand clenches tight enough that neat nails bite into her skin. "You want to— to ruin me." Desperate accusation doesn't have the edge and strength to it that it should. The truth is readily apparent in that—

He hopes that that's her aim. If a quarter of a million dollars is exactly what she desires, then, well, that's somehow worse. Pallid skin gains back some colour, if only in the form of anger and insult, and in most cases, this is the part where he'd strike her. In no shape to do so, Logan spits over the side of the desk, saliva and the tinting pink of blood before he lays his head back down.

Contracted strength hardens sinewy in the woman's arm, though that alone isn't what drives the cut of Logan's nails back from their white-knuckled encroachment. He's seen her in enough of her moods and variations, seen her in enough danger in her months at the Dagger that the pigmentless, poreless white that blots out and carapaces over her arm like a waxy rind. The rebuff is merely physical and contained on that level, however, self-defense that's offset when she leans in.

Perfume crowding in her shadow, blood orange dewing its syrup on her breath, eyes luminously white-ringed in their pits. She hovers on the incline of his cheek like a demon squatting on his window sill and the beaded viscosity of his spit soaking pink into the fabric of her sleeve. "You stole from me.

"You lied to me, even though you knew what it meant," she hisses, but her hiss and twisted accent manage somehow to express the tone of impatient enumeration in it. "You try to buy someone you love back from me with what you took." It's some horrible coincidence of available decibels, that the one word remains the same bite of emphasis as the other. "If I was a cruel and jealous woman, I would leave him dead just for that. I am not. Wo juedui bushi. The money you offered is an insult to me." She pinches a thumb and forefinger closed on his earlobe, jerks at his head to realign the trajectory of his gaze onto her.

"By now you should know better than to treat your friends this way."

The clawed in grip on her arm weakens into a clammier clasp over bone-white skin, stained teeth flashing in a show of— something, bridled aggression, as her fingers snag at his ear. The word pain is becoming overused and goodness knows Logan is tired of it too, but it's what has him flat on his back, and what makes his breathing gutter through his throat. "Fine," he says, words sounding razor edged and croaked out. "Fine. I was wrong."

She's already said it, what she won't do, which tells him what she will. Dampens his temper, until it's only a burning coal wrapped up tight in tense muscles in the center of his chest, burning merrily but never sparking, never spreading. Just there.

"Didn't kn— know what else to give you." He sounds whinier than he likes to sound, voice catching and hitching. "I didn't know you— you got your son back."

Now would be a somewhat inappropriate and petty time to start preening and prissing at her capacity to keep secrets from those who pose a danger. Mu-Qian twists her mouth around the shape and color of something glassily embryonic, pink still, unarmored if discernibly on-guard. After another second or three, she releases the Englishman's ear and wipes her fingers off on his collar, with enough grace in her to disguise the motion under an appearance of tidying up the mess he's made of himself. "An apology.

"Help, or the truth, or the money when I need it." She wouldn't apparently need money right now, despite the exorbitant sum she'd threatened to bleed from him with that momentary show of incisors, and nor would 'I was wrong' apparently constitute an apology, or else the woman's being difficult. She pushes her hair back with a wrist and frowns out of the window at the spectacle of warehouses below, metal red from rust and other things.

It is contradictory, perhaps, to expect that she'd accept this gesture, this exchange, while remaining stubborn that she'd ever want to hear an apology out of his mouth. Either this reflects Logan's regard for apologies, or his regard for convenience. He manages not to bring up a hand to either rub his ear or slap her hand away, and instead follows her feigned motion in cleaning up appearances, dragging his shirt further closed over the stained wife beater beneath it, hissing in a breath as his arms come to fold.

He angles a look up towards her. "I'm sorry." Stone and ice are possibly more convincing than his usual saccharine when it comes to such attempts. Convincing, being an operative word. Sincere, being another. "You know I can help you. If you want it. And the ph— photograph.

"As a gift," is added, sliced as it is with a show of teeth, words clipped as if bitten. It should have been enough.

If it wasn't enough, she might be asking for something a little more substantial than a lunatic parody of reparation and friendship, which can not exactly be relied upon according to one's conventional understanding of sociopaths, but really. They're being rather special and unusual sociopaths tonight! Throwing words around. It doesn't surprise Mu-Qian in the slightest that this far in, he's still yet to make the lunge at appealing to her better nature. The transformative powerrr of looove didn't really transform her into that, either.

She angles a look down at him. Wrinkles her nose, briefly. Either making a face at the face he's making at her, or relieving an itch in her wee button nose. "I can't promise it will work. If he is too badly damaged— by rot, refrigeration, the killing blow… but I can try."

If it doesn't work, then something will have to be be done! Logan doesn't know what. As established, this is the end of the rope, dangling over into the ocean turned lukewarm by someone a little while ago. He swallows, tension leaking out quicker than fluids like sweat and tears and blood, and dabs the tip of his tongue against his dry bottom lip. A glance for the windows, then back to her.

"He's in a freezer. First corridor'n the left."

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