Names On Paper In Red Ink


logan_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Names On Paper In Red Ink
Synopsis Logan tells Sasha that his sister is in town.
Date August 27, 2010

Staten Island

Sunshine and clear skies give Staten Island a deceptively bright cast, and if its inhabitants did not already know that New York City's forgotten borough is one of the most dangerous places to be in the entire metropolitan area, there might not be convincing some people; rays of light bleed through verdant green leaves, creating dappled shade where there are trees, and bring out the colour in the wildflowers that grow on the side of gnarled, overgrown roads that haven't been tended to since 2006. Now, four years later, the Greenbelt has grown in size and expanded its reach — the only thing that managed to slow its creeping progress was the previous winter, and even that does not amount to what some suspected it would. Unfortunately, within only a matter of months, the forests will be stripped bare again and the ground covered with snow, icicles in the trees in place of leaves.

Sasha has chosen a hovel on the fringe, an old two-story dwelling covered in ivy vines that provides him with some much needed privacy at times when Howland Hook becomes too smothering. There's no heat or electricity here, and there doesn't have to be. The duration of his stays never last more than a few hours at a time, and are relaxed in nature. A cot on the ground floor, sheltered from the elements, is the perfect place to either sleep or rest his eyes, and right now he's in the process of the latter, one arm draped across his middle, his long legs crossed at the ankle. He'll get bored of this — the house — eventually, but for now he's content to listen to the sound of the breeze in the trees outside, and the distant calls of the sea birds reminding him that the ocean is never very far away.

Logan remembers: midnight (and sometimes daylight) excursions out into the Greenbelt to discard of the Monster's leftovers, this being a predominant kind of association he has with the run-wild rural landscape of Staten Island's greenery. Back then, there'd been the pickup truck, and he reflects he has no idea wherever it went — on the night of the fire, he'd left more than his burning brothel behind when he'd fled for New Jersey. An entire life, even, for all that he didn't know it at the time, only when he found himself curled up on Toru's couch and wondering, approximately, what the fuck.

So he doesn't have a car, when he gets close to Sasha's temporary hideaway. It's warm enough that the hike is suitably exhausting, breathing coming a little reedy by the time the building is in view, which might have more to do with the state of his lungs than his own physical stamina or the hardships of the journey itself, or even the dwindling summer's heat. His boots crush both weeds and wildflowers where they overgrow the semi-beaten path, and he checks his shoulder against a thick trunked tree as he allows himself a few seconds for composure's sake.

There is pragmatism in his choice of wardrobe, today, save for the darkness of the fabric, soaking in the sunlight — navy jeans, sturdy boots, a black T-shirt and a button down of lighter grey drawn over it, sleeves cut above the elbow and left to hang open. Sunglasses perch on his nose and periodically slide down it, and these he pushes back up with a bent finger before approaching the front door.

His hands check the fastenings of the entrance before he raps his knuckles against the surface in warning, attempting to shoulder on inside, looking forward to shade.

There is shade in abundance. An old staircase in the entryway has collapsed under the weight of the roof, which came down at some point during the winter and restricts access to the second floor, but the corner Sasha has claimed for himself is dark and cool, shrouded in the kind of shadows the Englishman can feel rippling over his skin when he passes through them. Creaking bed springs give Logan a rough idea of his location, an open doorway to steer toward, and by the time he's found Sasha, he's sitting up on the cot, legs swung over the side and back hunched, hands loosely clasped between his knees.

He looks healthy. And why shouldn't he? For as dangerous as his line of work is, there's nothing inherent about it that might make him sick except for the stress, and this is something he hides very well with his close-cropped beard and the lazy smile he offers the other man when he comes into view. He rises from the cot in a smooth, fluid motion and rakes fingers through his hair, inhaling the fragrant smells of summer, all hearty soil and sap.

This is a strange place to meet, but maybe he's worried about being followed. Logan might be too if he worked with Melissa Pierce. "Do you have news?" are the first words out of his mouth, mildly hopeful without sounding too eager. He's rehearsed this in front of a mirror, no doubt. Or so the meticulousness with which he asks gives that impression.

The darkness of the building throws his sunglasses into unnecessariness, even hindrance, so Logan is plucking these off as Sasha is getting up to greet him, all silver and black as opposed to flamboyant tortoiseshell or purple tints. He folds these in and tucks the arm of the spectacles to hook into the neck of his shirt, twin reflections of Sasha glinting back at him as Logan meanders a little closer. There's a weird kind of suspicion in the way pale eyes glance over the Russian's face, as if looking for something, such as the minutes spent practicing, but dismissed soon enough by the time he's responding.

"She's in New York City. Sounds like it attracted some attention, but so far so good. Met with the bloke who's taking her in and he's not keen to share the hiding spot, which, between you and me, is for the best." Thumbs hooking into the tightly stitched pockets of his dark jeans, looking black in the shade of the ground level room, Logan twitches a shrug, affording half a smile for the first time since he's arrived. "She's very sweet."

Some caginess enters Sasha's expression at the word sweet, suspicion where he must realize on an intellectual level that he should be experiencing absolutely none on account of this man who has done so much for him, but on an emotional level — a gut level — he can't help but feel the hairs on the back of his neck start to prickle. Realizes, too, that Logan is right: he shouldn't know where his sister is, but there's not been a time in his life where he hasn't. Either checked into one of the hospitals in St. Petersburg or at home with their parents, Tania has always been a pin on his map, firmly pressed and — for the most part — immobile.

"These people you are hiding her with," he says then, caution in his tone as he steps around an ash tray on the floor, empty for the most part except for one or two cigarette butts that have likely been there for awhile. Sasha does not smoke as heavily as Logan, or even most smokers — it's the drinking he struggles with, and although he can't smell it on him this afternoon, his clothes are also recently washed, his hair clean, his nails groomed. He can probably thank Melissa for that, too, for as long as it's going to last. Maybe a day. Two. "Do you trust them as much as you trust me? More?"

"Nah." Well that's not very reassuring, John, and he probably knows it, too, his default set to keeping people on the backfoot regardless as to whether he considers them a friend. Which is why he has so many. Friends. "But I trust they've got much to lose — they don't know half the story or what's at stake for me or them, and even that much should be enough for them to keep their mouths closed and do as they're told. My secret's their secret." He should probably be framing it as our, but there is a certain ownership to this plan that Logan is claiming, and it's only incidental that Sasha and Tania are only componants to it, even if Sasha had been the one to suggest the people-that-hide-people in the first place.

There's a sweeping inspection made with a look up and down upon the Ruskie, Logan's dim eyes adjusting to the darkness enough to notice the differences, curious but (shockingly) not gay enough to comment on it while there's still business to attend to. "Sarisa Kershner's got an ace up her sleeve — she's Evolved. Sees your past with a touch, which is great seeing as I shook her hand and everything. If she does it again to either of us, we're fucked — but not knowing where your sister is will at least keep one thing safe. Understand?"

Add one more bullet point to: Reasons to Cut Sarisa Kershner's Throat and Bury Her Body in a Shallow Grave. Sasha responds with a doggish tilt of his head, blue eyes sharp and scrutinizing, but he must ultimately agree with Logan because the closest he comes to an argument is a long stream of air that leaks from his nostrils and produces a grumble at the back of his throat. "I understand," he concedes. "There are ways this would trouble us less." He's learning — a subtlety. Nicer ways to phrase what he'd suggested in the little Chinatown shop, and speaking of which—

He reaches a hand into his coat, brushes knuckles past the leather holster worn beneath it, and tugs loose the scarf he'd purchased— lifted from the shimmery silk basket. Although it hasn't been washed like his clothes have, he's taken care of it better than he's taken care of his hair or his mustache which is, upon closer inspection, a little uneven. Folded into squares, he offers it to Logan. "Next you see her, will you give her this?" he asks. "She does not have many things. Fewer now that she is in America. What arrangements have you made for her medicine?"

Logan isn't yet dignifying the ~subtle~ suggestion with response. His gaze narrows on the scarf, keeping his hands to himself for the time it takes to come to some kind of decision, expression difficult to read, before he's dancing forward a single step and plucking the accessory out from Sasha's offering hand. He's careful not to crumple it needlessly, or accidentally loosen it into the squarish shape that Sasha's styled it into, and out of the two of them, it is probably Logan that would naturally take better care of frivolous silken items. "I haven't," he admits, glancing up from the scarf only briefly. "But they've got medical types, apparently. She was asking for instruments as much as she was asking for medicine, so I wasn't awfully concerned."

Blue silk is disappeared, then, to ease into the back pocket of his jeans, lacking a jacket or coat or manpurse for this purpose. "She's safe," he concludes, succinctly, eyebrows going up in an expression of emphasis. "Dunno how happy she is to be here. She— " Another decision made, or at least finalised, having already been toyed with on his journey inwards Staten Island. "She didn't say much about you."

"Good." If there's resentment, either for Tania or for Logan, it doesn't show. The word Sasha chooses is carefully neutral, and so is the manner in which he enunciates it. "Her condition" He pauses, uncertain how to phrase what it is he means to say, and the language barrier is only partly to blame in this instance. "There are complications," he explains, "and no cure. I would like it if we could test for the Suresh Linkage Complex. If she contracts the virus the H5N10— I do not think there is anything that could be done to help, and I do not want to have put her in any unnecessary danger by placing her with these people who are like you and I." Evolved.

"I know the kits and can come by my own, but the medicine…" Sasha makes a vague, rolling gesture with his shoulders. "Messiah is a two-headed monster: there is a philanthropist on one neck, a young nothing on the other. It is possible the first man can help Tania if our contacts cannot. Rupert Carmichael. He travels in circles similar to your own, no? Or— adjacent?" The skin between his brows pinches together. He hopes that's the word he was looking for.

"Pen down the medicine, and if she's not already taken care've herself, I'll play delivery boy as necessary," Logan says, with only a thin line of edged resentment running through a level tone of voice. Irrationally, as these tasks are necessary, and the only person that put him in this position is himself. But making a production out of his burdens has never had to do with rationality, so why start now? His hands hook back into pockets, hitching up his shoulders in a shrug that does more to stretch his muscles than it does to make a gesture, sign of body language. "I might know the name, but it's not ringing bells, no. Go with adjacent."

Further talk of philanthropist does bring about a halved sort of smile — isn't it always? It's restlessness rather than motive to leave that has Logan taking a step back, a graceless sort of wheel around on a heel as if taking in the setting of the room, so it's over a shoulder when he asks, more direct, now, not to be thwarted by resentless neutrality; "You don't care? That your sister comes all this way and wants nothing to do with you?"

"She should want nothing to do with me," Sasha says. "I made her a promise once and broke it. It was not little like coming to see her play on strings in good clothes or remembering to write when I was still in Grozny. These I have broken before and she rewards me with some pouting, but this— no. Forgiveness is not coming." He scrubs a hand over his beard, using the natural curve of his callused fingers to hide the rueful smile behind them. "You should ask her what I did the next time you see her. Or my mother. She hates me, too, even for all the money I have sent for Tania's treatment. When I used to call on the phone, her voice— she starts soft always, but then the yelling. It builds very fast. You are alike this way, I think."

His hand drops. "I care that she is safe. And that she has as good a friend in you, John Logan, as I do. If I see her," and the anxiety threaded through his voice suggests that he very much would, "maybe it is best from far away."

Hands migrate to his hips as Sasha talks, not quite defensive in posture, but something like it. Logan listens, finally dropping a look down to where sunlight filters in through a gap between window frame and the wall itself, rotted away, dust making fairy waltzes in the shard of brightness that slices through. When he breathes in through his nose, he can sense the age of the place, not as harsh as the smoke he's currently contemplating, but wherever he might have his cigarette case stashed on his person, his hands remain where they are. Awkward silence settles after Sasha's words, before he notes—

"You're downright wordy today, aren't you? Fuck. I was lying. She does want to talk to you. The timing's bad but if you're keen, we can— " He silently flounders for what they can do, before settling on the vague statement he'd made in the Angry Pelican. "— make arrangements."

"If I am keen," Sasha repeats, unsure of what to make of everything else. "She has not wanted to speak with me for years. Why now?" A rhetorical question, ultimately; his mouth hooks around a scowl that shows plenty of teeth before he turns, showing Logan his shoulder but not yet his back. "What arrangements need arranging have been. Finished." There's uncertainty, also, about why Logan would lie about something like that, but his other revelation plants it firmly in the back seat, at least for right now.

"Do you know," he continues, and maybe he's feeling a little sorry for himself today, because normally this would be the end of the discussion, "that it is different when your sister tells you she never wants to see you again. It is not the same as a woman casting dishes or glasses or small pieces of furniture." His jaw sets. His mouth thins. "Do you still speak with your mother?"

"I was an only child," is Logan's answer on the topic of whether he'd know or not, contribution to the conversation muttered between pearly teeth and shying away from self-pity like a predator sensing a trap. There's confusion in the pulling frown at his mouth, having expected not Sasha's initial reaction, nor this one, reading the signals wrong, or something, and if one person in the world might try to be surprised that Logan is lacking in the department of human relationship literacy, it may as well be him. Directionless foot steps carry him a few feet across the room, sort of angling around so that he's not just in Sasha's periphery, but rather, out of it altogether.

The question gets a sharp, puzzled glance, and short silence before he responds. "No, not really. We've spoken since I left and everything. She never was any good at staying mad. Women are like that, you know. Your sister's not any different. She's fifteen, right? Maybe she grew up or something."

"Fifteen." Sasha reaches out and plucks one of the leaves from the vines creeping in through a shattered window between his fingers. A sharp jerk of his wrist twists it from the stalk, and he tests its texture between the tips of his fingers, then waves it under his nose to sample the smell produced when he crushes it. "If meeting with her will make things easier for you and her keepers," he says, disguising his own desires as concern for other people, which he presumably has very little, "then I will do it."

The leaf flutters to the floor and he covers it with the toe of his boot. Once upon a time, the hardwood had a polished finish and a dark, rich sheen. Years of neglect and exposure have left it pale and peeling, dirt densely packed between the individual boards. In some places, weeds have begun to grow from the gaps, but no flowers. "When she hits me," he adds, an afterthought, "I will hit you harder. Maybe."

Thing with Russians is that whether or not they're joking is difficult to separate from whether or not they're joking. Sort of like Americans with the English, Logan would reflect. He takes it as the latter this time, if not entirely — enough to snort softly in good-humour despite the prickly and pendulous nature of his mood. "I could put money on whether she would or not, unless she thoroughly played me," he notes, injecting a jovial cadence into his tone, removed, as ever, from somewhere particularly genuine. "But like I said — the timing's wrong. Medicine and Evo test kit first, figuring out the rest later. She knows how to contact me if she must."

Which holds the unspoken implication that she can thus get in touch with Sasha, too, but for a gatekeeper, Logan is one of dubious trustworthiness, except that when he says he'll do something, it'll probably happen. There's a glance towards the door that he came in through, but Logan doesn't make steps towards it just yet.

"Stay for awhile," Sasha invites. "Smoke something. I have much to report and not very much time to do it before I am called for." He sinks back down onto the edge of the cot. His stint in the Russian military and then the Vanguard has conditioned him for this; explanations of a tactical nature are much easier to make than trying to elaborate on his feelings or even his sister's disease, which should be strictly clinical. "I have told you about Carmichael," he starts, "and you have brought me Tania, but there is more: Abigail Beauchamp communes with these people. They are friends. The Kershner woman would want to know, I think. I tell you this first and we decide together whether or not to share.

"Catherine Chesterfield, Elisabeth Harrison— these women of fine reputation. It would be very bad if her superiors were to discover their affiliations, no? Good for you, though, to have something you can dangle above their heads."

Hesitation freezes Logan in place, before he takes that invitation. Stands for the time it takes him to slide the thin cigarette case from his pocket, the one he didn't stash scarf in, and then light up — once this is done, he makes for the cot, and comes to sit down on the edge with companionable distance remaining between them as the structure creaks beneath this added weight. An elbow rests on knee, the other hand setting the case and lighter on top of it beside him in absent offer. As Sasha talks, his attention breaks away, reanalysing this place with a small wrinkle of disapproval forming in the bridge of his nose.

"Once we've gotten you broken free of all this terrorist bullshit," he notes, apparently completely unrelated to the debrief he's receiving, and did ask for, when all this began, "we've got to get you a better place to crash. There're some nice places in Red Hook. Though I suppose that'd be a terrible idea, considering the neighbours."

As litters the ground with an artful tap of index finger to bonewhite cylinder, and he draws in another breath. "I knew about Catherine. Sort of. Lizzie's interesting, and I could do with some leverage that's in direct proportion to what she thinks she has on me. Good for me, indeed - ta. Let me know if Kershner's at all gotten her knickers in a twist from Tania's disappearance too, obviously."

Sasha holds out his hand, knuckles bent, imploring Logan for a drag from his cigarette. Just one. "There's more," he says. "The president's brother, Peter Petrelli. The president-elect, Allen Rickham. A local reporter, Wes Rosen. Many of them though are like me. Names on paper in red ink somewhere. Not so useful.

"This terrorist bullshit as you say — it will not last much longer. They are young and with so little experience. The wrong soldiers for this kind of work. What Carmichael is thinking, I do not know. Their numbers— they amount to nothing." He takes the cigarette when it's relinquished to him, rolling it between his fingers. The last time he had one was a few weeks ago in the aftermath of Messiah's assault on the Institute facility here on Staten Island, only a few miles from here. When he pulls from it, the paper makes a soft crackling sound, inaudible to their ears. Smoke streams from his nostrils. "Stay away from Battery Park tonight."

White, briefly, shows around the twin chips of jade that make up Logan's irises, as they names and titles are reeled off. "That's insane," is really all he can say, with a lot more distrust and dislike than intrigue. There are certain kinds of power that burn too brightly for someone like Logan, whose hands would sooner burn and eyes would sooner go blind should he try to wield that kind of blackmail. Good to know, either way, even if it means what not to do. His hand rises, takes back his cigarette, but doesn't pull from it immediately, pensively analysing the crumble of ash, white-burned paper, before tapping it loose onto the ground ahead of them. "Not what I pictured," is mostly what he can summarise, a shrug jolting through his narrow shoulders.

And then skips a narrowed glance to the man beside him, an eyebrow raising up. "Alright. Maybe I'll just stay this side. Wander Rookerywards, come back here. If you do too, I could lick your wounds," is at least accompanied with a thin and facetious smile, before turning his attention back to cigarette, drawing in a deep inhale that released a fairly thick cloud of white through both mouth and nostrils.

"You know nothing of wound-licking," is equally facetious, and in this instance Logan can be sure that Sasha is teasing him — or the closest thing to it. "True, though. You are safer here than on the mainland, tonight. Roads will close, the air will fill with the sound of sirens. To destroy something on the island is different than to destroy something in the heart of the city where the blood still flows through it and there are people. Real people."

"If I do not return tonight, do not worry. I am fine, only preoccupied with the men and women Kershner has chosen for my allies." He rubs his fingers along his nose, marvels silently at the way the tobacco and leaf residue interact, and maybe detects more of Logan under his nails than he imagined he would. Instinct has him wipe off his hand not on his shirt but through his hair, and when he stands he claps it around the Englishman's shoulder. The other ruffles his mane, roughly teasing blond curls into a messy bird's nest sans twigs with pieces of hair sticking out in odd directions.

This must be how he shows affection.

Hands raise, fend off Sasha's too late, cigarette pinned between white teeth so as not to burn anyone — including himself as Logan drags fingers through his hair to get a semblance of order back. "Wanker," is muttered as he rocks back up to sitting straight, but there's the suggestion of a smile in blithe insult, some spark of good mood registering under attention even if it isn't flattery, exactly. "I won't wait up," he grants, delivering another smile along with the words, but it dims along with his attention, moving to flow up onto his feet as well, retrieving the ashtray to grind his cigarette into as its final resting place, a disparaging glance communicating 'his kingdom for more furniture'.

There is thought towards sharing as well, about crooked cops and how— his ex-boyfriend is in town again, or something, but similar to Sasha's comfort in debriefing, Logan doesn't seek to estrange or repel the other man as talk of sisters and their changing minds might do the same to him. "Walk me down from here, then, before you have to go clock in."

A tip of Sasha's head indicates that Logan should follow as he shoulders out the door, booted feet grinding up pieces of debris beneath their heels. It's not a long trek or a particularly difficult one, at least not to him, but it isn't without its hazards — and out here, tripping over a branch, sliding down an embankment and ruining is pants is the least of Logan's worries. Although he hasn't seen any himself, there are still rumours of National Guard trucks patrolling the overgrown streets on the edge of the Greenbelt, and rumours that — out here — identification means very little to the government soldiers scrutinizing it.

Staten Island has become more dangerous than ever. And for entirely different reasons than the ones Logan remembers.

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