Missed Mark


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Scene Title Missed Mark
Synopsis Sasha follows up on a lead that's years old and comes calling on John Logan at Burlesque.
Date February 25, 2010

Burlesque: Logan's Office

In many ways, the office is more luxurious than most. What furniture Logan hadn't liked before, he's since replaced with items of heavy oak and dark mahogany, a slight fetishist when it comes to these things for all that he cuts corners in most other ways. The desk has a leather inlay, dark green, the dark wood scratched and marred from the decades its seen but not unattractively. The chair is a new thing, for comfort's sake, but the coatstand in the corner, elegant curls like smoke or vines, doesn't come from Ikea, and this morning, he'd replaced the metal filing cabinets for something similar made of oak. Marilyn Monroe's poster still hides behind it. In the bottom of his drawer is a bottle of 42 vodka and a pistol, and the light is dim enough to make the harder edges in the room seem softer.

But it's no Happy Dagger.

Kind of like how his wardrobe hasn't seen a zebra stripe or leopard spot in some time, but still has its own New York kind of flashiness in taste (and not) and price. There's gold embroidery on his leather shoes, currently set on the corner of his desk in his recline, but his slacks are plain grey with black running in pixie-eye stripes. His black shirt tucks beneath waistband and belt, waistcoat buttoned closed and jacket hanging up by his overcoat next to the door.

In his hand, a cellphone, bright red, which is snapped closed like an alligator maw once the phonecall ends. Jersey wants Refrain again, and he hadn't told them yes. But he also hadn't told them no. Stalling won't be okay after a while, number one supplier or no. Still, in here, surrounded by money made manifest in wood and thread with music thrumming up through the floor, Logan remembers a degree of untouchability. It's just not as comfortable as he remembers it being.

Unfortunately for the Brit, it's about to become even less. Comfortable, that is. His reverie is interrupted by a heavy jolt that resonates through his office, rattles the poster's glass frame and the bottle of vodka at the bottom of his drawer, and sounds like its originates from somewhere down the hall. If he didn't know better, he might mistake it for the noise someone's face makes when it's driven into a wall.

The crumpling sound that follows it doesn't provide him with much reassurance, and neither do the approaching footsteps. Least encouraging of all is the sight of his door handle turning as if under its own power. Hinges creak, the door opens and a tall shadow falls across its frame — a moment later, a scruffy-looking Russian with an unkempt beard of stiff brown whiskers steps into Logan's office.

The last time he saw Sasha Kozlow, it had been on the Corinthian's rooftop, and he hadn't paid him much attention then. Now, it appears as though he's making up for lost time.

Not only had the jolt rattled glass in panes and drawers, it also had Logan moving, legs jerking down off the desk to set soles with startling abruptness against the wooden floor, a naked stretch of it between himself and the door, and of course the desk. Hands empty, Logan is in the process of scanning where he'd dropped his phone by the time the door is levered open, and much like the first time, the Brit sits tharn in his chair as if indecisive but merely blank.

By the end of the night, he'd forgotten all~ about the man on the rooftop, too preoccupied with Nicole's tiara and various emotions, and Eileen's nervous system and trying not to give into the temptation to stay and watch the damage he made.

So that's why Logan chuckles, a hitching breath of it, and his hand goes down to grip the brass handle of a drawer next to his knee where vodka rolls against gold-plating.

The movement of Logan's hand draws Sasha's attention to the drawer and the flash of brass his fingers are biting around — or would, if he could see the ornate handle from where he's standing. As it is, he can't, but he can envision it with the same clarity of vision he displays when his eyes flick back to his face in a hard, predatory stare.

Outside in the hall, one of the dancers has discovered the security guard folded against the wall like a discarded rag doll and is screaming something down the stairs in the vain hope her voice will be heard above the music. As a precautionary measure, he bumps the door shut behind him with his ankle. Locks it. "I think the expression is: Long time, no see. Yes?"

That's the other difference between this office and the one that was at the heart of the now burned out brothel — there aren't any security cameras here.

Brass cuts into his fingers in a tight and frozen grip, though there's no jostle and slide of the drawer, not yet, Logan glancing towards the sound of the female screech, then back up to the man now taking up space in the same room. "Don't suppose you could be mistaken," he says. Not with these accents. By his next blink, his eyes have become a luminous green, deftly damming whatever it is that flows to make abilities go in Sasha's system. "Or that you want to pay for what you broke."

Likely he means whatever girl whose face he smashed into a wall. Probably.

Sasha glances down at the back of his knuckles, bound in thick strips of dirty gauze stained a shade of red too pale to be blood, and feels his mouth form the shape of gluttonous smile, all sharp wolf teeth. "No," he says. "No mistake." Long fingers flex with an audible pop of articular surfaces being separated — the Russian pops his knuckles one at a time in a series of slow, undulating motions without needing to bend them back using his opposite hand, a sure sign of a habitual joint-cracker.

He does the same to his neck and back after a languid roll of his shoulders more feline than the large shaggy thing he resembles. Winter boots sloughing off snow clomp across the floorboards on his way across Logan's office, bringing him to rest with both hands on the edge of the other man's desk, arms slightly bent and weight tilted forward. Unsurprisingly, he reeks of beer and vodka.

"So. You manage a business now?"

It's a good thing he decided against the Iranian rug, or he'd be mad as well as prey-wary for the ice and dirt being tracked in, but he can live with it on the floorboards. Has his eyes up, anyway, not bothering to mask distrust and dislike and other such things Logan is practiced at veiling behind a businessman's amicability. Nips back sarcasm before responding, "Yeah. I do. Didn't get there on my own." I'm not alone either was not something he could have said in Mexico, but he does now.

He gives Sasha an assessing look up and down, in equal parts for his state of dress as well as whether he's armed or injured, then back up to his eyes. "Who are you? Really."

The long winter coat that Sasha wears on his frame disguises the clothes he wears beneath it, providing Logan with little insight into the quality of their make. The coat itself, however, is a cheap thing with a simple design characteristic of traditional Russian pragmatism. Layered beneath the stink of alcohol are faint traces of even cheaper cologne as if a spritz of the stuff applied to his wrists, chest and neck might cover the more unpleasant smells reacting with his body heat.

Sweat, for instance. Of course it doesn't. Creates a sickly amalgamation of the two that combines with the vodka and beer to form an overwhelming odor that is as potent as it is male. "A friend," he offers, followed by his hand. "Sasha Kozlow. I feel we have similar interests, Mr. Logan. Namely ourselves."

Compulsively, Logan's mouth twists in a cynical sort of sneer, as quick to tame as easily as it occurred, eyes narrowing and going no dimmer. His mouth opens, but his voice catches at the sound of footsteps coming up the hallway, looking past Sasha until the inevitable knock-knock and a voice asking if everything's fine — male, confident, a trifle aggressive. "Just peachy," Logan says, voice raising so that it will carry, and it takes a special talent to make those words sound a lot like fuck off.

Security man does. Fuck off, that is. Despite this, Logan suddenly jerks open his drawer, fingers scraping around the Glock. Sasha brings back all kinds of memories, of the terrible summers, the clamour of a foreign language, and how he'd been quick to pull the trigger once he'd gotten the hang of it. Notorious for it, in fact, before his power brought about a new kind of infamy.

How much he's changed between then and now is up for debate. He certainly dresses nicer, and rather than sweat too much cologne mingles with, it's stinging smoke, the same scents that cloak the room. The gun, too, is coated in gold, but by the way he hooks his finger into place, perfectly functional. It's positioned like it might blow a bullet through Sasha's right hip. "You've got me pegged," he agrees.

Sasha lets out of huff of breath that sounds like snorted laughter and shows Logan his open palm in a gesture of what indicates surrender even as he reaches into his coat pocket with the other. He's either very perceptive or very stupid to assume that what he pulls out will repress Logan's trigger finger — it's a small wad of cash dangling between two knuckles that contains at least two fifty dollar bills and one hundred, the paper crumpled and edges worn, frayed.

"Information, mysh. I'm not here for your heart or your head. Tch." There's a sort of tenseness in his voice that betrays his discomfort at having a pistol pointed at him, even though it isn't being aimed anywhere that would inflict a mortal wound unless the bullet ricocheted off his pelvis and struck something more important in the cavity of his lower abdomen, which visibly rises and falls beneath the woolen material of his coat. "So nervous. Like a little bouncing rat."

He most likely means jumping mouse — the kind that live in meadows — but Logan will have to forgive him. His English isn't perfect. Neither is his posture, come to think of it. Something about the way Sasha holds himself suggests that he's in pain, though he's doing an admirable job of hiding it behind his fiercely grinning exterior.

Logan's other hand creeps along the edge of his desk, and he pushes himself up with less strain than it takes for Kozlow to stand in place. The gun is now squared somewhere around the Russian's belly, although if Logan desires to pull the trigger, it's not communicated in anything but his aim — but he doesn't mind pointing a gun, and he doesn't mind the subtle notes of tension that result from it. "I do stupid things when I'm nervous, Sasha," he agrees, a twitch of a smirk that's more hysterical than confident. The desk makes a wide enough gap that he doesn't have to look up too much once standing.

And of course, he glances to money, clicking the silver thumb ring he wears against the handle of the Glock. He gestures with it. "Put a hundred on the desk." There's no and then we'll talk, but it's implicit. Again, probably.

Sasha separates the one hundred dollar bill from its rumpled brethren, folds it between the fingers of his opposite hand and shows Logan both sides like a street magician flaunting a playing card. See? No tricks. But rather than place it on the desk like the Brit has indicated, he takes advantage of the fact that they're both standing and reaches across the distance between them to tuck the money into the pocket of his waistcoat.

The men downstairs are doing something similar to the women onstage, Eileen included, but their wads of cash are being shoved down garters and into gold and silver-sequined brassieres that glitter like coins under the stage's inviting lights. Either he's trying to be deliberately insulting or—

No. He's trying to be deliberately insulting.

The girls would probably appreciate a hundred dollar tip. The set of Logan's jaw indicates that he's less glad for the gesture but, as if to contradict the impression that he's jumpy, he stays still and endures, and even gives a polite, "Thank you," which is exactly what the girls downstairs are instructed to do too. More matter of factly, Logan extracts the rumpled bill as soon as Sasha's hand is retracted, gives it a cursory once over before letting it flutter into the still open drawer at his side.

And the gun doesn't move, wavering up as if to draw an S up Sasha's torso even with a foot and change of distance between the barrel and winter layers, head tilting to the side. "We'll start with information and work on friendship from there," he suggests. "You still in the killing business, Ruskie?"

"For now," Sasha concedes. Then; "Inselaffe." Two can play at the ethnic slur game, even if he's falling back on German slang rather than his native Russian. Island Ape. "I'm interested in one of your dancers. Or rather certain individuals who she associates with." He lowers his hand and lays it lightly on the table so that only his fingertips are touching its surface. He holds the other protectively across his chest as though he might be able to deflect the bullet with a flick of his wrist if it came down to it.

"Some of their names are not unfamiliar to you, I think." He drums his fingertips across his sternum. Thump-thump. "It is I who is doing you the favour and not the other way around."

German gets a narrowed look of suspicion: what does that mean! How offended is he meant to be. Logan has no idea. The Glock is heavy but not heavy enough to drop it, though he's focusing less on his grip and more on the man he happens to be pointing it at. An eyebrow goes up, as if about to protest that Logan isn't about to sell out one of his employees, but the words don't make it that far, just yet. "Oh, really?" he says, voice bright if somehow flat. "And how do you figure that?"

"Laudani," Sasha says in response, "Beauchamp, Harrison, Holden." He reduces the hand at the desk to two fingers and marches them along the edge, one blunt foot in front of the other in perfect time with the rhythm of Logan's heartbeat. "I have contacts on Staten Island who tell me that they conspired to drive your former benefactor into exile. James Muldoon, no? This is a habit, I've noticed. They stick their little noses in places they do not belong."

Blue eyes meet green, and the pale brown brows above them lower into a more unimpressed expression. "I'm going to bite them off."

"You've done your research." He watches the track of Sasha's walking fingers along his desk, fingernails tapping old wood and digging into softer leather. And now, finally, the gun lifts up, Logan putting an arm around his belly and hooking his elbow against it, the gold of the gun reflecting off the skin of his jaw as he itches a spot there with cold metal, now, muzzle pointing up into the high heavens. "They had it in for me, some of them," he agrees, but stops short of saying: times have changed.

Because how much do people change, really?

He lists a step to the left as if contemplating round around the desk, but the motion is aborted, or was never to be. Logan's eyes never stop being bright green, the hide of a grass snake. "Both Beauchamp and Harrison were at the gala. What did you do, miss your mark?"

The mirth glittering in Sasha's eyes goes abruptly dull. All the humour in his expression drains out through his mouth as his lips grow tight, jaw tense under the wiry bristle of his beard, leaving his face devoid of any emotion except for the for the aloofness of his gaze. Breath floods into his nose and passes down to his lungs, fueling his movements, and although there's a moment where he looks taut enough to snap across the desk and wrest the gun from Logan's control by dislocating his arm at the elbow with the ease of a cat twisting off the wing of a broken baby bird, he does not.

Says instead: "I do not ever miss."

The smile is quick, flashy like the gleam off scissors when they slice, immediate and unhesitant pleasure gained and flaunted when Sasha's good cheer drains like the blood through his system. Unearthly green sometimes steals away from whatever it is Logan is trying to communicate, but for now, shining eyes seem to match smirky delight, chin tilting up. He leans in, a fraction, as if to offer conspiracy: "Neither do I."

Not this time, anyway. Now, Logan resumes a meandering pace around the desk, with no outward, visible hitch that gives indication of the scarring beneath his right pant leg. The gun is held rather than wielded. "Don't suppose you remember I put a knife to your neck," he adds. "But you had me, that you did, and I'll believe it."

Logan taught him a lesson about playing with his food. Sasha hasn't forgotten, and it's reflected in the steeliness of his rigid posture. He follows his progress with his eyes rather than any turn of his head or body until it becomes impossible to do so, and even then his motions are so slight that they'd probably go unnoticed if Logan wasn't already watching him. Subtle adjustments keep him squarely in his peripheral.

Back to business. "I would be very interested in hearing about any friends or family they have here in New York," he says. "My employer is willing to pay you five hundred American dollars for every legitimate name you give to us that we do not already have."

All work and no play—

Keeps one alive, at best. Logan's arms are folded across his narrow torso, with his gunhand rested against the crook of his elbow, letting the muzzle point doorwards as he listens. His expression has gone serious, enough that perhaps he's parodying it, but then there's no change of facetious glimmer that it may as well be just as genuine as the rest of him. "I see. Mean game you're playing. Particularly below the belt," he comments, as if maybe Sasha had asked his opinion.

Regardless, he doesn't seem disapproving. "And I suppose that's where one of my dancers comes into it, yeah? She has the most interesting people after her. Good for business, actually."

"Unfortunate," Sasha returns, finally taking a step away from the desk, though he does not yet show Logan his back. The difference in height between them is slight enough that they are more likely to be aware of it than anyone else. Two scant inches. "Avoid attachment," he adds as a low advisory. "She's Holden's daughter. You have her for a few more weeks." And he had better hope that the dancer who discovered the body outside isn't the one they're talking about, because even through doors and walls, sound carries.

"Consider also that I did not have to give you this information."

"You just trust me that much," comes out snide, though Logan shuts his mouth after that, swallowing once. Light flashes off gold-plating as he turns the gun to hold it neutral and at his side, and after a moment's hesitation, his eyes go back to glass paleness, which could be a show of trust or the equivelant of a handshake. Instead, he nudges at where serotonin releases into synapses in the tiniest of floods, to make the following words more appealing, voice applying them tentatively, "I'll think about it."

That will have to do. On some level, Sasha recognizes that the tickling sense of satisfaction he's experiencing is a sham. At the same time, it's impossible for him to deny that it's there. Content, at least for the time being, he narrows the distance between himself and the door until his fingers are unfastening the lock, thumb hooked under the handle.

He hesitates before turning it. "Salud," he says. "Did you pick up any Spanish in Mexico?"

Now shifting to sit against the edge of the desk that Sasha's vacated, Logan sets down his gun upon the leather inlay behind him, and lets searching fingers seek out where he'd left his cigarettes last — in his coat, with his knife, most likely — before Sasha is hesitating, and tension makes a straight line out of Logan's shoulders beneath silk-blend and wool. Hesitates, hands setting down on either side of the desk, before responding:

"Mostly hablas English and no comprendo." His pronunciation is awful.

Sasha's is not any better. "Lo siento," he offers. "My favourite: Eres linda. Te necesito. Try it. It never disappoints." The door creaks open, and wordlessly Logan's visitor slips back out into the hall after a brief glance over his shoulder to ensure that none of the club's security personnel are waiting for him on the other side.

He does not close it behind him, allowing Logan to follow the sound of his retreating footsteps with his ears. "Adios!" he calls. Then nothing.

When Logan does shut the door, he locks it too without thinking. Gets out smokes, his knife, something he fidgets with even as he moves, sits, reclines in the same pose of relaxation he'd been in before. A deft flick of his wrist has the weighted blade snapping open, snapping shut. After several idle seconds, he swears, before reaching down to scoop up his phone once he's set his knife clattering against the desk.

"You owe me five hundred dollars, you git," is muttered as Logan selects Robert Caliban's name on his contacts list.

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