Know Thy Enemy


eileen3_icon.gif logan_icon.gif

Scene Title Know Thy Enemy
Synopsis Rapidly losing strength and blood following her encounter with Rickham in Midtown, Eileen waits for Logan in his apartment with the intention of tying up a loose end before Julian Kuhr's ability finally overcomes her.
Date May 29, 2009

Staten Island — Logan's Apartment

Give it an hour and it will be predawn. On the mainland, people sleep, or hide, or avoid the roaming cop cars. On Staten Island, there's the sound of laughter from down the street as two drunkards make their merry way through the Rookery, and while it is a quiet time of night even for this patch of city, it is not the kind of fearful quiet that descends on Manhattan and its surroundings boroughs.

Logan couldn't tell you what that's like.

His apartment is empty save for shadows and cluttered furniture, most of them antiques save for one dented metal filing cabinet, or so it should be. The sounds of his wandering, tired foot steps fill the water-stained hallway, neglect aging it beyond its years, and echoes to reverberate through into his room as he scrapes the key inside the lock in a haphazard, lazy manner.

It's been a long night, and he expects to sleep until early afternoon, as per his usual circadian rhythm. The scent of perfume from other women clings to his clothing, as does sweet, acrid cigarette smoke, and the general aura of wine drinking. The velvet of his jacket looks slippery to touch rather than soft or comforting, an audacious golden orange with streaks of black coursing over it to mimic the pattern of a tiger, hidden beneath a far less ostentatious rain coat of black that matches black fitted slacks a little better, and the black slippery nature of the high collared black silken shirt beneath the velvet.

You play the roles you were given. He doesn't recall wearing tiger print velvet when he was aiming to be a football star. Such is life. He eases the door open with a lazy, slightly tipsy swagger designed for no one but himself, already peeling back the water logged coat.

The print is befitting of a long, lanky cat, and while Staten Island is sometimes referred to as the suburban jungle by those on the mainland who refuse to set foot there, Logan isn't hunting tonight — he's being hunted, but not by a tiger. A tiger would lay in wait, camouflaged by the tall grass, and patiently bide its time until he drew close enough to seize in its jaws.

It wouldn't stand in full view of the window, its reflection distorted by the rivulets of rain trickling down the glass on the other side of the pane, and yet this is exactly what Eileen Ruskin is doing when he steps inside. She'd already shed her coat to allow better ease of movement, leaving her clad in denim jeans and a fitted cotton top that was once white but has since bled through to a vibrant shade of red.

She turns her head to look at him, oily black hair slick with rain and plastered to the pale skin of her cheeks and brow which are ashen from blood loss and hold no colour at all. The woman is, for all intents and purposes, a ghost.

Saying nothing, Eileen removes her hand from the window, leaving a sticky palm-sized print on the glass, and fixes Logan with stony stare, gray eyes like flints set back in her head.

It's unfortunate that he's shut the door before Logan can perceive that something is dramatically different within the usual shapes and contours of his apartment room. The shadows have climbed together to create the figure of a woman at his window, and he only raises a sleepy, wandering gaze upwards around the time the door clicks shut behind him.

And shudders in its frame when his back connects against it in a jerking, violent movement, eyes going wide but nothing more distinctive than that when he sees, it turns out, that dead women can walk. Apparently he is going insane.

Going insane. And if all dead women can walk, he's fucked. "Bloody h— " The pimp's hand goes out, fumbles the light switch on and fills the room with a startling flicker of bright yellow light— before dying once more when the lightbulb gives out from disuse with a flitting spark. Figures. But he saw in that moment of illumination that the hand print left on his window was red, that her eyes were gray, her skin white as bone and that she wasn't happy to see him.

And nor is he for her. "What the fuck do you want," he snarls at something he's not convinced isn't an apparition.

"I want," Eileen says, stepping forward, that bloody hand raised in an imploring gesture, "to finish what we started." She crooks a finger and pain lances up Logan's busted leg as old fault lines crackle and split, not quite breaking but separating the bones between his hip and ankle enough for it to really hurt. He did something similar to her skull once, but that had been mercifully quick — this time, she makes no such allowances or provides him with the blissful luxury that is unconsciousness.

Her other hand lifts, wipes at the corner of her bruised mouth with the back of her exposed wrist. "You cut out Abigail's tongue, put me in a coma. God knows what you've done to that poor Dahl girl."

That stare hasn't wavered, but her hand has. For someone who's supposed to be dead, Eileen is displaying suspicious signs of what appears to be physical exertion manifested in a trembling arm and quaking fingers. "Do you treat your whores the same way you treat other women?"

The snarl is gone in the next moment when pain lances up his leg, keys falling with a dull clatter onto cheap carpet as both hands go to clutch his thigh. Old injuries flaring beneath the scars he'd once revealed to her upon their first meeting, aching pressure of breaking bone slow and steady, and it takes his breath away. No shriek of pain, no profanity, just a draw of a hitching gasp. It's almost dignified.

It can't be real, is his first thought. And it has to be, is the following one.

For a moment, his eyes flash as if there were more light in the room than there is, a cat's reflective, predatory glow, before dying again, Logan's back sliding against the door as he struggles to put his weight on the leg that wasn't snapped into pieces—

Years ago. His gun is in his dresser across the room. "No, I— " Fear is a choking thing, a bondage hold, and Logan knows it well. His words come out as a quiet, reedy waver, equal parts vicious and fearful. "You had it coming, you little bitch."

"Because I poisoned you." It isn't a question. Her terse tone and the sharp note clipped off at the tail end of the sentence carry a sort of pointed finality and suggest that she might even agree. "That was a difficult decision to make," Eileen says, and she sounds sincere. "I'd never killed anyone on purpose before, but I was willing to make an exception for what your man did to Teodoro."

All of Eileen's fear seeped out of her with the blood in her belly and chest. As she steps forward, favouring one leg over the other, one foot dragging along the floorboards on its side, she can feel other emotions beginning to flow freely from her, too. Anger. Hate. This stopped being about vengeance around the time Logan walked through the door.

Now it's simply about what's necessary. "We both have it coming, John. I'm here to see that we get what we deserve."

Like a building imploding, he can feel his leg collapsing in from the inside out, and the slide down to the floor is as abrupt as it is graceless, and willing, too; breathing in harshly as tender bones are jolted amongst deteriorating muscle and ligaments. There is nothing comforting in her words, and Logan is almost certain that if he closes his eyes, wishes hard enough, it'll all tilt on its axis and it'll turn out that someone slipped something alarming into his last glass of wine.

If he had, he'd likely be dead, and blood is staining the front of his shirt, ruining silk as he grips onto his thigh as if to keep it together. Turns out, cat-green gaze tracks her footsteps, and while a ghost could conceivably limp— they don't bleed.

His eyes flare green again as he snaps a look back up to her in impulsive realisation. Ghosts also don't have biochemistry systems, and he can feel his ability sink its teeth into hers around the same time Eileen can feel a great weight lift off her chest, can feel constant sickness and pain relent.

Logan's hand disappears into his coat as he stares up at her luminously from where he's shrinking against the closed door.

Eileen's initial reaction is to suck in a jagged breath through her nostrils. By the time she's letting it back out again, her hand is falling down, down, down, curling loosely into a half-fist at her side. For someone who's just had a terrible burden lifted from her chest, she should feel light as a feather — and while she certainly feels light-headed, her body's response is more akin to lead.

Her opposite hand moves to cover the wound in her side as if truly aware of it for the first time, bony fingers grasping at the fabric of her top and the tender flesh beneath. Gray eyes find green and gradually, like the rainwater carving glittering paths down the window outside, emotion begins to filter back into them, pale irises growing wide with wonderment, panic and — yes — fear. It's back.

Logan isn't supposed to be able to do that. "What are you doing?" she asks, a raw quality to her voice that wasn't present before. And yet she doesn't ask him to do the most obvious thing: stop.

A free hand goes up to hook onto the doorhandle, leverage, and a long uninjured leg curls to brace a heel against the carpet, and all the while, twin points of green remain locked on Eileen, seeing past her, seeing through her. His other hand is gripping a knife that's had all kinds of adventures, and priorities straight - Logan flips it open first.

Then gets up. It's a halting, sliding movement, injured leg jutting awkwardly as if useless from the hip down, free hand latching onto the doorhandle in a white-knuckled grip. The question gets a rasp of laughter, one of relief. "What's it feel like?"

The knife is almost incidental, held loose in his hand, and he takes a lurching step forward, injury stealing away the usual grace and swagger. The other hand is up, pressed against his chest where skin and muscle had started to split beneath black silk and luxurious velvet. "When it's gone? Loss?"

Eileen's eyes dart toward the knife, Logan's reflection like liquid rippling in the blade, and she takes a solitary step back to maintain the distance between them as the man edges forward. Neither of them can move very fast in their present states, but speed is a relative thing — one will always be quicker than the other, and Logan doesn't have an entire year's worth of accumulative injuries oozing from under tattered layers of cotton and gauze.

"No." Not loss. Release. She spits out a hissing breath through her teeth, gray eyes lidding halfway shut beneath the heavy veil of her lashes. Her cheeks are hot, wet; Eileen isn't even aware that she's crying until her vision begins to blur, twisting the room around her into a kaleidoscope of tears.

She'd ask him if he's going to kill her, but there would be little point in it — he's already gripping the answer in his hand. "Have the decency to be quick."

"Decency," Logan spits back at her, with a harsh bark of laughter, if it could even qualify. "You people." The lunge forward is more of a stumbling stagger, a sharp intake of breath as pain rockets through his leg, but it's not as important, apparently, as gripping onto her, forcing her back until her spine connects with the edge of the antique dresser. It rattles against the wall and the broken mirror— broken from previous bouts of similar frenetic energy— shows only a slice of Logan's face and the darkness of Eileen's dripping hair.

The knife is at her throat, and it's not just for show. It's sharp like ground down pennies are sharp, insidious as claws, mean and sneaky in some ways. "Like you were going to kill me quickly?" he asks, his voice pitching up at a wavering frequency over attempted calm. "From the feet up, was it?" He smells like blood, now, mingling with other earthy scents like smoke, wine and rain, and a flinch crosses his face as the cost of movement catches up to him.

"Why not before?" The knife angles her jaw up, forcing her to stare into still glowing green eyes. "Why'd you not use it before?"

The press of Logan's hips and chest pinning her between his body and the dresser squeezes most of the breath from Eileen's lungs, leaving her with just enough air and strength with which to speak. Her jaw lifts, an amalgamation of rainwater, sweat and tears pulled down to gather at the point of her chin before joining the muddy spatters and footprints tracked across the floor in the scuffle.

What little resistance she offers is embodied in her refusal to meet his eyes any longer than the time it takes for her to stifle a simpering groan by swallowing it back into the pit of her belly, the tendons in her neck jumping against the flat of the blade, straining.

"I couldn't— before—" The words have a spasmodic quality to them, and when Eileen speaks her mouth fitfully struggles to form an answer around her clumsy tongue. "Didn't have it."

The knife turns against her throat, the sharpness angling away but still pressed to slice, a restless movement as if he would like nothing more. "Ah," Logan responds, unmoving and unrelenting. Pain makes dots of moisture bead along his brow and forehead. "I've had my power for longer. My ability to steal the same away from everyone else. Lots of diff'rent techniques, power— " The blade presses a little closer, creates a hairline of red.

Whatever he's doing, it's not quick. "Power comes in all shapes and sizes, you know? No one's ever told you to know thy enemy, have they. 's a pity." There's a grind of wood, his free hand going out to lever open the drawer just beside her, fingers rummaging around until they find the cold metal of a revolver, old fashioned but effective.

In the same moment, he takes his weight off her, and the knife threat lessens. "You were dying, weren't you?"

As the threat lessens, so too does the pressure on Eileen's chest. A sputtering cough followed by a bottomless intake of air is the immediate result, causing her slender frame to heave and shudder violently. She still is. Dying. The only difference now is that the process isn't being drawn out, which might be why she asked him to do the compassionate thing and put an abrupt end to it.

"Can't— touch anyone," she rasps, "can't ever use it without—" Her eyes squeeze all the way shut, plunging her into merciful blackness and cocooning her sight, but such an impulse, no matter how defensive or reflexive, does nothing to suppress her other senses. Eileen can still feel the heat of him, smell the heady fragrances of liquor and tobacco, sweat and blood as they invade her nose and mouth, smothering, suffocating.

Once upon a time, she promised herself that John Logan would never hear her beg. And yet here she is, fighting to keep her voice from dissolving into a sodden whimper as her bloodied hands find his jacket sleeves and grasp feebly at his arms. "Please. John."

If his hands weren't full of guns and knives, he might strike her, and the way his arms stiffen and tense suggests the impulse is there, as if shying expensive material away from her hands slick with rain, dirt and blood. Then again, Logan is bleeding into silk too. It's dirty, down here, and he's been doing this for longer.

"Please? Please specify," Logan says, not backing away despite that first shimmer of revulsion. There's a click as the knife is closed, held in a fist, casually slipped away into a pocket. The barrel of the revolver is cold against her jaw and he doesn't break eye contact. It's a promise of a quick death, should it come, juxtaposed with the fact that it lingers and hovers. "I could finish what I started. I thought you'd surely die."

The hammer of the gun is cocked with a sharp click. "Or I could take it away, for however long you desire." Hard to say if he'd follow through on such a gesture. It's kind. Of course, there's zero of such in his eyes, his voice.

The click of the hammer being pulled back is a symphony in Eileen's ears. When no accompanying crack or discharge comes, she opens her eyes just enough for light to filter into her vision, illuminating Logan's mottled shape, mere inches away. What he's saying is strange and alien, and for a moment she simply stares at him, disbelieving.

Logan is not kind. He isn't even tolerable, most of the time. "You wouldn't," she says, and there's nothing accusatory in her tone — Eileen might as well be burbling a statement about how the sky is gray and rain is wet. "I haven't got anything you want."

The fingertips digging into his sleeves grow lax, either in weary resignation or because she's rapidly losing the power with which to wrench, pry and twist at him, no longer coaxing Logan as much with her body language as she is with her words.

"Don't know about that." The tip of the barrel moves to insinuate itself at the base of Eileen's jaw, at that hollowing above her throat. The bullet would go rocketing up through her jaw, splintering bone, and spray gray matter on the ceiling in artless decoration, and watching her wait for it is just as entertaining. It dips lower, over the contours of her shifting throat, lowering down, down to rest between her collar bones. It seeks out skin to touch, tugging her collar down to allow for it.

At this angle, it's not as instant a death, but better than the slow leak of blood from accumulated injury. There's a hitch in Logan's breathing as his own remind him of their presence, body shifting a little as his good leg starts to protest the weight it's supporting.

"You at least have a few good compelling conversations in you." The words are drawling and sardonic, a far cry from the panicked snarl moments before, or the childish excitement when he'd first shoved her against the dresser, winning back the battlefield.

The revolver's steel barrel leaves gooseflesh in its trailing wake, made all the more cold and prickly by the chill in the nighttime air and the oily sheen that coats her skin where her clothes are the most drenched. There's a part of Eileen that wants to reach up, take the gun in her hands and pull it into her breast so Logan will be forced to pinch the trigger, but there's also a part of her that yearns to twist and squirm away, beat her fists against the dresser and scream.

If she had a choice, she'd choose life, and now that Logan is offering her an opportunity to take it, the expression she wears on her face is beginning to grow wrought and fretful, tense with a sort of frustration that Logan is used to seeing in his line of work, though in this situation it likely doesn't have anything to do with that kind of gratification.

"Make the hurt stop." He can take that as he will.

It's strange, in that most women Logan has the pleasure of doing business with, and sometimes the other way around, might kill for the power to ensure that people might wither and die if they laid their hands on their skin. He has this affect on people.

"Now that," Logan says, words coming out clipped, losing the natural Cockney for something higher class, "is a good line."

There's a metallic sound as the gun is set down onto the dresser directly behind her, potentially a risk, but perhaps he's arrogant enough to bank on certain assumptions. The bright, ice-green of his eyes and the preternatural fire within them is hooded by eyelids for the moment, but the effortless suppression of her power remains, which is good as his hand winds around her throat, and the other grips onto her slick hair.

He's still bleeding from where a man had gouged his chest with knives not so long ago, and his leg is still a symphony of pain, dull and hot. Her ashen face is studied under the scrutiny of his lit up stare, as if reconsidering its dimensions and proportions, judgmental. His hands loosen. "Get into the bed."

With those four words, Eileen relaxes in Logan's grasp and releases the breath she'd been holding. On the way out, it rattles, shakes, leaves her lips in the form of a fluttering sigh and allows her body to finally deflate against his chest — the sensation of fingers in her hair and a palm cupping her throat are excruciatingly familiar, and would under any other circumstance result in a mouthful of spit mixed with bile, but it's been so long since she felt the brush of someone else's skin against hers that she's willing to forgive him for it.

She pulls away from him then, bumping against the dresser drawers with a muffled thump as she maneuvers around Logan, obedient insofar as her movements are concerned. Her compliance is reticent, silent, and comes at no cost to him except for her turned back — for the moment, Eileen denies him her eyes, her tearstained face, the quiet anguish written across it in sweat and blood.

Get into the bed, he says. Such a simple thing should be easy.

It isn't.

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