Lots To Talk About


caliban_icon.gif logan_icon.gif

Scene Title Lots To Talk About
Synopsis In the wake of Kain Zarek's death, there is scheming, but Logan has something else he needs to confirm.
Date November 15, 2010

Linderman Building

Robert Caliban does not normally sit in his office with the lights off. But there's also nothing normal about the current state of affairs in New York City. Visible through the crack in the door, the Englishman sits behind his desk, a phone cradled against his ear and a lit cigarette pinched between his fingers, freed of their gloves. Those sit on the corner of his desk beside his ash tray, which is filled with crumpled butts — a pack and a half, if anyone cares to do the math.

He doesn't.

Outside, rain glances against the window and absorbs what little illumination the street lamps several stories below have to offer, but very little permeates the gloom of the office that Caliban has chosen to drape himself in. "That's right," he's saying into the phone, "Cortez." A beat. "No. Zed as in zebra. Death certificate and a copy of the autopsy results if you can manage. I've already spent two and a half hours on the line with social services, I don't have the time to— No. No, I don't. Look."

Whatever look means, it probably doesn't mean keep talking, which is exactly what the other person on the line of the line is doing, because Caliban sets his mouth into a flat, unimpressed line and leans back in his chair with a low, protesting creak of expensive leather. He listens.

After stepping up close enough to regard through the darkened slit of a partially opened door, to see that the office is truly occupied by at least someone, Logan finds himself delaying the moment where he shoulders inside — or even allows for his shadow to shimmer over the opening. He can respect that there are a lot of phonecalls to be made — hence why he had Sasha get a suitable charger for his own even when they were trapped for a period of a few days on Staten Island. He, too, has been enjoying the wonders of telecommunication technology, for all that he wishes more that he could simply be in multiple places at once. Probably, he could have called ahead here too.

But there are things, even in this age, that are better done in person. Condensing two weeks into two days makes Logan feel a little like he should have been here sooner, gives him a vaguely guilty conscience for approaching — but it's only the 15th of November.

He only knocks in that the backs of his knuckles hit the door in nudging it open, once the sound of Caliban's conversation mutes into one-sided listening after the sound of an accent that now sounds out of place in comparison to the past is listened to in turn. A hand twitches for the light, but there is more than enough of it coming through the windows, casting things in black and silver. He leaves it be as he moves into the office, slow as if cautious, raising an eyebrow in silent greeting to Caliban.

Can't stop staring at the man.

The look Caliban directs at Logan doesn't demand that he leave. Doesn't request it, either. All his eyes ask for is time. "That's right," he says finally, and the tinny voice on the other end of the line is silent. "Just like the bird. David and Michelle. My desk. Wednesday. The Linderman Group appreciates your cooperation."

When he sets the receiver down, it's with a steely air of finality. Dark circles under Caliban's eyes give the impression that he hasn't slept in days, and he probably hasn't with doom dominating the airwaves. News of Kain Zarek's death— no, murder— has understandably put him on edge. He rubs a thumb under the right, squinted shut, and snuffles out a breath through his nostrils before taking a quick pull from his cigarette. "I was half-expecting to hear they dredged your body out of a ditch," he confesses, and in the dim light of the office Logan might catch a shimmer of something metal resting in the other man's lap.

It's a picture frame, though the photograph it houses is face-down and his free hand spread protectively across it. "Good to see you."

"I doubt I'd receive such elaborate press if I did," Logan notes, moving further into the office after gently pushing the door mostways shut. Strip club owner found shot in gutter. Do they convict people of crimes even after they're dead? Logan isn't sure. He doesn't invite himself to sit down, and instead stands opposite Caliban with a hand resting on the back of a chair and glancing pale eyes towards the item being hidden from view. Which only serves to put him on edge, choosing to glance out the window instead.

He is, at least, dressed nicer than he'd been when hiding on Staten Island. Harvested the items in his wardrobe, carefully packed them into suitcases, and hasn't been back to his apartment since. Despite being a rather well-traveled being, he doesn't do well with it, preferring a permanent base of operations to return to, but one makes do.

"I've information about his murder. I'm not so keen to go super sleuthing at a time like this but I s'pose it's worth knowing if there's anything to be worried about. Hitting back would be a luxury. What've you been up to?"

"Accounting for four hundred and fifty thousand dollars," Caliban answers easily, "and deciding whether or not I want to try hanging the thief." He removes the picture frame from his lap and places it on his desk, photograph-side down, and then rises from his seat in a smooth, fluid motion that ends with him standing straight, his posture erect. His haggard appearance is as polished as he can make it, given the circumstances, and like his manner of speaking— that's different than the man Logan had encountered, too.

Restraint prevents him from enfolding him in a hug. He's not that type of person— or at least he's not that type of person in Logan's experience, and his trip to 1994 has admittedly called it into question. He moves around the side of the desk instead and settles for the next best thing, taking the younger man by the shoulders and giving them a firm squeeze with his hands.


His own hands come up instantly, but it's not in some return of affection — palms plant on Caliban's chest and he shoves, a more petulant than violent outburst but certainly sudden all the same, pale eyes flaring in anger rather than ability influence. Any softness in his expression is gone, replaced with tension and steel and accusation, emotion and confusion brimming beneath the surface and barely contained. It would be better for Logan if he could put into words why the sudden fury — but he can't, biological chemistry leaping ahead of intelligent, logical conclusion, instinctively seeing the picture before the puzzle is actually created.

But even then he's not sure. Such as who killed Kain, he knows without being sure, is certain without knowing. The pieces are there, all lined up, but—

"Who are you?" is challenge, but when it's not followed by tirade— lack of words and all— it seems to be a real question, mouth shut afterwards and thinned into a line, his posture one of coiling tension and readiness.

Caliban rocks back against the desk, a hand braced against its edge for support. Surprise has his eyes showing their whites, his mouth instinctively curling around a quiet snarl with words in the process of forming on his tongue that are silenced prematurely by Logan's question.

His jaw sets, and maybe under different circumstances he'd be gritting out something along the lines of, "I'm sorry?" or, if he's feeling indignant, "I don't know what the hell you're talking about."

What he says instead is: "If you're asking, then you should already know the answer to that question." He snuffs his cigarette out in the ashtray and rubs the tips of his fingers together first, then off on the front of his shirt. When he lets his hand drop again, it's to defiantly stand up the picture frame, though he does not turn it around for Logan to see. His eyes shy away, and he curves his thumb along its metal edge.

"No," Logan denies — no he doesn't know, or just no in general, is unclear when its meaning is distorted beneath bluster. Maybe no, rejection, at the answer that he knows. "What I know is that Robert Caliban's some cockney leg breaker that wouldn't know what to do with fifty pounds, let alone four hundred and fifty thousand dollars. No, I want you to say it." Sort of like a breaking dam, more words follow words, although he stems them for now as he glances distractedly towards where Caliban is reaching for picture frame in the middle of argument.

As swift as his words are whip-like, his hand goes to flatten it back-down on desk and glint its reflective glass up at the ceiling, lacking sun glare as the last attempt at going hidden.

He doesn't say it, and not because he doesn't want to. Can't. His voice is hoarse from smoking, hoarse from the emotions crowding in around his heart and making the cavity of his chest a very tight, uncomfortable place to be. Even the most basic act of breathing has his lungs producing a low rattle that sounds as strained as the muscles in his face suddenly appear.

"I did it for our protection," is as damning a statement as what Logan is demanding to hear and, incidentally, just as true, though the other man has know way of knowing this unless he chooses to trust faith. People do not always sound as though they're lying, and James Muldoon had a very good poker face.

He's wearing it in the photograph, one arm around Emma's shoulders and the other hooked under Thomas' legs, the small boy of no more than two or three hanging off his father's neck like a little monkey. In the background is the very same driveway where he lost his life, Camry parked in front of the garage with sunlight reflecting off its roof, windows and the rims of the car's polished hubcaps. The leaves in the trees are green and Emma's rose garden — deep scarlet, linen white, palest pink — in full bloom.

"Yours and mine. You'd have been killed there on that fucking island if I hadn't. Rotted. Bones picked clean by people pretending to be your friends, your clients, even your dumb-as-shit whores."

The photograph is doomed to go skidding across the table as Logan shoves it away, rattling over desk-edge and landing next to soundlessly on carpet. It's become increasingly rare these days that when he goes into an argument angry, that he emerges from it correct. Caliban, Zarek— there are good explanations, nine times out of ten. This doesn't so much as qualify as a good explanation as it does bitter confirmation, and disbelief mixes with anger as he eyes desk surface before dragging his stare to Robert's face. A swallow works the skin at his throat.

"You left me to take the fall for it," he finally says, voice raw-edged and brimming with old anger and hurt. "You did this for our protection after how long? Don't you dare act like— " Act like what? Logan isn't sure. Infuriating, righteous, something. There is something in him now that is reminiscent of awkward teen that Deckard had to deal with recently, in uncertain violence. Another shove, next to bruising in connection of the heel of his palms to Caliban's— to Muldoon's chest. "And you never told me, you fucking coward," is hissed. "I had to find out, again. After everything—

"I trusted you." Rare as hen's teeth, as previously established and sealed away with Kain's death. A hand goes out again, an attempt at open handed slap, the kind of useless fury he's been on the other end of from girlfriends he's later laughed at, but there you go.

Being middle-aged means that he's not as quick as he used to be. This doesn't make him slow. He could catch that hand by the wrist and twist Logan's arm back on itself, dislocate it at the elbow and propel his face into the desk's corner. Could does not necessarily translate to should or even will. If the thought occurs to him, he dismisses it with such swiftness that he's able to allow himself a fraction of an instant to brace himself for what's coming, which means his head snaps halfway to the side instead of fully, and his eyes are already closed at the moment of impact.

Doesn't make it hurt any less. Or bleed any less. Logan's hand catches the corner of Muldoon's mouth and leaves an angry red smear that he reaches up to wipe away with his sleeve, though the grayest hairs of his beard are still tinged pink when his arm drops again and a sigh leaks unsteadily out of his flaring nostrils.

"And I loved you," is rasped, his voice suddenly very thin. "Like a son."

Logan's hand retracts as if the blow had stung fingers and palm more than it had delivered, and if anything, looking even more pissed off than he was before for having it connect. Just like accusation was confirmed. He isn't swift to deliver a second attack — simply stands and glares, tense and suspicious of this last statement, before some part of his resolve crumbles. It manifests in the way that his shoulders slope down beneath the fine lines of dinner jacket, hands loosening out from the tight knots fists make. His eyes are dry, but they are also very bright.

If anyone's going to know what it's like to love someone as a son, then it may as well be someone who had one himself.

There is a mean thing he can say, here, one that might nuclear any and all bridges between them in a single sentence, and it's when Logan restrains himself that he really doesn't want that to burn. Really. Doesn't. There's a small, defeated sound at the back of his throat before he swiftly closes the space between them in an attempt to lock his arms around Muldoon's shoulders and cling. "Your fucking timing," is muttered, without explanation.

His arms are rigid at his sides at first and his spine made of steel. Never heavy on physical affection even with his wife — the second one — an embrace feels so unfamiliar as to be almost alien, but senses are tied to memory, and the sensation of being held this way reminds him not only of the last time he hugged his own father (and he can count on one hand how often he's had the opportunity to do that, the dead bastard), but the last time he drew Thomas to him as well, and although Logan is easily two decades older than his son was when he put him in the ground, Muldoon's hands find his back nevertheless and rub the heel of one rough palm between his shoulder blades.

It's a very good thing Logan does not say what he could. They're so close that Logan can almost taste his aftershave and cologne. Feel his heart beating— thundering.

"I'm sorry," Muldoon hisses somewhere between his neck and his ear.

In truth, Logan is not one for heartfelt embraces either — and by the same token, he is not unfamiliar with them. Physical soothing is something he can appreciate, maintaining a hold that is just as much grip as it is embrace, and all the while, trying to sense something that would indicate he's being played. Tips of his fingers seek out the nape of Muldoon's neck above his collar for that more definitive skin contact, attempting to read something in his own system, but then, Logan's ability doesn't quite work that way. Not unless he plans to make changes.

He does not. The rate of Muldoon's heart has nothing to do with him.

Chin angled sharply against Muldoon's shoulder, Logan takes what he can from being held before he's shifting a few moments later, uneasily sliding away from him without making eye contact— until he does, sharp again but now lacking burning fury. There is something on the tip of his tongue, that could bring about renewed anger. But he doesn't. States a simple fact; "We've lots to talk about," with his tone low and quiet.


Muldoon's agreement is gentle, but it isn't subdued. He's retreating behind the desk again, partly to put space between them, but also to fish the key to the liquor cabinet out from the pocket of the jacket hung over the jacket of his chair, and then slide it into the lock. It turns, the glass cabinet doors swing open and he goes about selecting two snifters and a squat bottle of brandy that he has to clutch around the neck.

The cap comes off, the glasses are set on the desk's surface, and Muldoon uses one hand to steady the bottle while the other pours. It's not a lot, barely a finger's worth for both of them, but it serves its purpose. He sets the bottle aside, slides one of the snifters across to Logan before picking up his own and curling his hand around the back of his chair. The temptation is there to sink down into it, and while he might eventually succumb by the time he's finished his drink, he doesn't just yet.

The drink is taken if only for, perhaps, the hopefully equalising effect of alcohol in his own bloodstream. A sip, before he does anything, before Logan is moving to sit down opposite the desk — and when he does, there's some collapse in it, as if running through one too many different reactions is physically exhausting, which it might be. There are shadows under his eyes, the same as the ones beneath Muldoon's, and a small tremor to his hand when he goes for a second sip. Then, a small chuckle, briefly steaming the curved insides of the snifter because Logan is taking it away from his face and setting it down. His hands come up to run over his face, smothering sleep-deprived, weary smile.

By the time his hands are dropped, the smile remains, but it's a somewhat sardonic and wicked expression, eyes prying a stare across the desk. "You married her." He should be angry about that. Angry about all the times that Muldoon, of all people, kept him on a leash from getting that revenge. But there isn't that, just a certain fierceness and maybe he's also a little—


"It wasn't my intention." Logan sounds impressed. Muldoon sounds apologetic. Guilt does things to his voice like lowering its volume and making his words come out clipped. "I planned on using her," again, "against my better judgment. She was— is close to Laudani, Harrison, Cardinal. My anger got the better of me and I thought I might be able to insinuate myself into her social circle by gaining her trust, then ruin the lot by turning them over to the authorities as soon as I had enough information to act on. Needless to say—"

He makes a vague gesture with his hand and drinks from his snifter. "It didn't quite work out that way. I'm a better person for knowing her, John, and while she might not be perfect— far from it, actually— I enjoy what she brings out in me. The men we kept caged for the Pancratium weren't animals, they were people. Do you have any idea what it's like for someone to look at you with something other than resentment?"

"This isn't like me pretending I'm just a strip club manager when I go out for drinks on a Friday night," Logan points out, that impressed reaction now shattered with Muldoon's regret— remorse. Something. Whatever it is he's looking at. "And that's plenty difficult enough without secretly being their kidnapper and saying vows. You're fucked." That statement is delivered with a raise of his liquor, before taking a more finishing sip from the small serving. "I suppose it's a good thing I forgive you."

That's delivered with a little more weight than his last words, and also— difficult to tell if it's true, reserve written into Logan's tone and posture. It's a lot of lying. But these are desperate times. He swallows, smile good and vanished, dips an uncertain stare into the damp bottom of his glass.

"She's going to shoot me when she finds out. I know." When, not if. "But I suppose that's assuming she even comes back." Brandy swirls in the bottom of his snifter, and Muldoon studies his reflection in the glass, unwilling to meet Logan's eyes when he says it. "I told her to leave New York. If she's got any sense in that ridiculously swollen head of hers, she'll have listened and be halfway to Switzerland by now. If she's not, she's likely to be dragged out into the Greenbelt, be made to dig her own grave and shot, provided the stories I've been hearing are true.

"One less thorn in your side, eh?"

"As it stands, Beauchamp's the least of my worries." If there's a hidden— or not so hidden— barb in use of the lady's maiden name, it's delivered in a very lazy fashion, a dart thrown with a limp wrist. Logan leans back into his chair, casting, again, his attention out the window and curling fingers beneath his chin as the other hand cradles the emptied glass. "Zarek's been fucking around with the guns trade enough, and it doesn't take Einstein to figure out how they might handle business. The— whatever it is you call them. Ballistics. Weird choice of weapon, so. But then I know he was supposed to— have something of an altercation with a business associate of his. Richard Cardinal. On the night he was murdered. Then there's Gideon and the Triad both. I don't know."

He sets glass back down on Muldoon's desk, and tips a smile his way. "Comes in from all sides. Now you'll know what it's like. No new faces to save— to save either of us this time." It's a generous concession, slickly made.

The smile does not go returned. Unsurprisingly, the subject of Richard Cardinal has Muldoon tense and stony, and he glances, uneasy, at the notes he made while on the phone before Logan arrived. "As far as Cardinal is concerned," he says, "we have two options: let slide what he's done or engage. If the latter, we do it in the way least likely to place ourselves in the line of fire and go the way of Zarek.

"All things considered, it shouldn't be terribly difficult. That man, rest his soul, didn't know the meaning of the word subtle." He taps the tip of his finger against his notepad. Thump-thump. "He served three years of a six year prison sentence, and not because he was released due to good behaviour. Given that he now owns a fucking security firm under his legal name, it's fairly safe to say that he's got friends in higher place than you or I, so to be perfectly honest I'm not keen on moving against him either. At least not yet."

Logan shifts in his chair, meant to make himself more comfortable, although it's an uneasy fidget as Muldoon speaks, listening with perhaps a little more interest than he'd ever truly paid Caliban. "Before Zarek died, we made a deal with the Ghost Shadows," he admits. Explains. "Sent them to do our wetwork, I suppose, and take out Cardinal. Managed to convince Zarek in the end that it was for the best — he knows too much. Now that Zarek's been killed, I'd prefer to touch as little as possible. If they carry out the hit, good news for us."

Hands go through the ritual, now, of lighting up a smoke, taking his time until the flick-click of lighter quiets and the item is cast onto the desk along with silver cigarette case. "Dunno how I like 'let it slide'," he adds, once white smoke is billowing past his teeth.

"We've time to bide," is Muldoon's reminder to Logan as much as it is Muldoon's reminder to himself. "If we can confirm that Redbird Security is responsible for Zarek's death, we might not have to do much more than that. You and I might not receive the elaborate press that he did, but if the media was to learn that a security firm in cahoots with the government is using its clout to assassinate public figures after writing itself into their wills, the papers will have a fucking field day."

When he sits on his chair, it's on the arm rather than in the seat, and to take a fraction of the weight off his legs and feet. He finishes his drink and sets the snifter, now empty, beside Logan's. "How much evidence do you have?"

Fingers splay in a gesture of, well, empty handedness, studying the reflective light cast through curved glass as Logan thinks silently. Then; "If Zarek ever thought to record his vision anywhere official, then that would be nice to have, but seeing as it's just as incriminating for him as anyone else, it's not very likely. The gun would be fantastic if we could find it — unique, nothing that matches any other police report. No sign of anyone entering or exiting the building, and we both know what shadow-boy can do. No blood, no evidence of anyone. But that might work against 'im rather than for him, in the end.

"And if we get any Triad willing to come out with it that Zarek put a hit out on Cardinal, hell would freeze over but it'd make things easier. 'specially when you take into consideration that his death turned out to be Redbird's gain. So we've motive and means but I dunno about fact. We couldn't tip off the right cop to have them do the hard work for us, could we?"

A beat, then he adds, "Lazzaro owes me a few favours." Having not gotten that memo.

"Find Lazzaro." Because owed favours are always a good place to start. "Explain the situation as you're comfortable describing it and see what he says. If he isn't willing to work with us, perhaps he knows someone who will. Failing that, I know of an Officer Castalides with connections we might be able to take advantage of, provided that we tread carefully."

His hand goes to the bottle of brandy again as if to take it up by the neck again and pour, refill his glass, but something has him thinking the better of it and idly hovering the tips of his fingers over it instead. Makes a decision. Replaces the cap. A few swift twists of his wrist have it secured. "I'll continue doing what legwork I can on my end. Zarek's blood isn't all that's on his hands."

Watching interaction between brandy and empty glass has Logan reverting back to spectator mode, a feline kind of stare leveled over desk and square on Muldoon with a curl of a smile finally edging the corner of his mouth. Ticks that stare in more detailed, as if to see if bruises are shading his old friend's mouth yet, or maybe to try and see the James behind the Robert, without being motivated by any second guessing. "You do that," he agrees, after too long of a pause, shifting his weight forward and standing up, trailing cigarette smoke from where he has the cylinder caught near his knuckle. "I'll go exhaust all possibilities, shall I?"

The chair scrapes in to bump up to the desk, Logan taking his time in leaving in a way that doesn't quite beg dismissal, because he will anyway. More to see if he'll be stopped, before sweeping out the door and back into the ever-cooling city.

He is. Stopped. With his name rather than a hand on his shoulder or a fistful of jacket, fingers clutching sleeve, but the problem with using someone's name against them is that there's never any guarantee that it will work, and so when Muldoon says, "John," again, faintly disgusted with himself when he hears the pleading note in it, he does not allow more than the count of two before he's amending it to: "Be careful."

That he does not rise to see him to the door has nothing to do with his aching joints and everything to do with the vague concern that his feet will follow the other man out, whether her wants them to or not. Blue eyes betray nothing of what keeps him rooted. His voice is only slightly more accommodating.


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