Neanderthal Fight Dinosaur


logan_icon.gif sasha_icon.gif sibyl_icon.gif

Scene Title Neanderthal Fight Dinosaur
Synopsis Sasha has problems, Logan could use more, and Sibyl brings a gift that is sure to keep on giving.
Date February 20, 2018

The Vault

The Vault is a densely packed antique parlor, decorated with its own wares, full of recovered furniture, ornaments, candle sticks, tea sets, jewelry, collectors pieces, paintings, picture frames, and most strikingly, a canopy of mismatched chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. A certain level of appraisal in the items being made for sale and accepted for sale stops the Vault short of becoming a run of the mill junk store, but the occasional piece of kitsch occasionally washes up despite the owner's best efforts. It's probably best that you don't ask exactly where certain high end pieces came from.

On seemingly random evenings, the Vault opens its doors to a group of dedicated gamblers, space cleared out to host poker nights that can run until dawn if the going is good. Under hanging chandeliers and surrounded by the left over wealth of an old world, men and women drink gin in crystal tumblers and try to better their position in the world through a hand of cards.

There are some rumours and suspicions about the Vault's ties to other criminal activity, such as money laundering, theft, and general criminal economics, and adamant conviction from certain upstanding members of the community that it certainly has nothing to do with any of that.

In the corner, an old fashioned record player spins out ambient sound along with the occasional insistent spray of rain managing to strike the windows of the storefront. You can tell that the Vault is closed for business because its splendor of hanging chandeliers are all dark, giving the crowded impression of stalactites hanging from the ceiling, and so light comes from the banker's lamp at John Logan's elbow. You really shouldn't smoke in a store dedicated to the sale and requisition of delicate antiques, but Logan can't all the way bring himself to care when he knows exactly where so many of these pieces come from, and where they go next.

And the occasion requires it. It also requires to the two glass tumblers filled with rye whiskey, and it requires the next helping he is pouring into his own glass.

"And then what happened," is the sort of flatly sarcastic thing he can get away with saying in front of Sasha (he thinks), if only to entertain himself. He does, at least, top up the other man's glass with a lazy stretch of his arm, doing little to shift his own seated sprawl, feet up on the edge of a desk, nice shoes polished to a sheen. The rest of his wardrobe shows the marks of someone with not a terrible amount of money but very particular taste, a suit and scarf combination that he would nevertheless define as casual.

From the record player, sounds of a much older world than this one warbles away, chosen expressly to fill out the silence in between and beneath their conversation, and the low ambiance of the city outside of it. Occasionally, the noise warps scratchily, but doesn't earn a glance from Logan.

Russian humour is supposed to be subtle and does not translate easily to English: a dry, acquired taste like the rye whiskey Sasha is holding in his large, callused hand. He should understand sarcasm when he hears it, or maybe he's just become so accustomed to droll note in Logan's tone that his ear treats it like white noise in the background of their conversation.

If you can call it a conversation at all. It has been, for the past ten or so minutes, a one-sided, litany of complaints about Sasha's girlfriend— no, Sasha's ex-girlfriend, assuming this break-up sticks.

Not all of them do.

"I say: We are not having nice conversation, Becky. You love me, okay. But you consider leaving? Because why? I work too much? I flirt with nurses?" He makes a vague gesture with his glass-wielding hand. "What is flirt anyway? I kiss on cheek. One time. Very European."

Really the main reason Logan might care to put up with any of this, beyond some discourse around friendships, is that it's hilarious, and he doesn't mind showing his teeth in a flashed grin. "I've said it before," he says, "and I'll say it again: this is precisely why you need a working girlfriend, if you're buying American. An age appropriate one. You keep after these delicate flowers who live for the drama of it all."

That being said, Logan doesn't imagine this break-up sticking, and he's not sure what Sasha in a committed functional relationship might look like. He's not sure he'd like it quite as much.

"Or find good Russian girl," he adds, after a sip of whiskey, laying on an imitation of an accent.

Sasha sips from his tumbler, giving the taste of the whiskey in his mouth as much consideration as he does Logan's suggestion. That is to say: None whatsoever. "Young is better," he says. "This, you know. But for some reason you keep share your bed with Gitelman. Forty, probably. Tits sagging soon."

He's cupping the area in front of his chest where he imagines Hana's breasts might be, whiskey sloshing over the rim of his glass when the bell above the door jingles cheerlessly and a small, slim girl bundled in black wool and a silk headscarf slips into the shop.

"Not that young," Sasha adds, for a point of reference. He squints across the room at her, trying to place her face, which Logan will immediately recognize. Sibyl pauses on the threshold to remove her headscarf like someone entering a church and not an antique shop stuffed to the ceiling with stolen goods, some of which she helped him to acquire.

Logan is about to opine that younger is not better in the way he means when Gitelman's name is added to the mix, and he shuts his mouth. Any mounting defense of women could too easily get misconstrued, and the nightmare scenario of it somehow coming up in conversation between Sasha and Hana is one by which he refuses to abide.

So he dips his fingers into his whiskey and flicks it at Sasha as the Russian turns his face away.

"Good," he says, at Sasha's point of reference, voice low so that Sibyl doesn't catch the tail end of their exchange as she fusses with her scarf. "Otherwise I'd have your knob removed, stuffed, and sold on a Victorian stick-stand and it'd be for your own good. Hello darling," is louder in invitation, glass raised in greeting. "Come in. Don't mind the neanderthal. Wipe your feet, though."

Logan is making a threat against his penis, Sasha is pretty sure. But there's also precious whiskey dripping down the side of his face and collecting in his beard, so he casually uses his fingertips to transfer as much from his jaw to his nearby mouth as he can before it dries. "What is neanderthal?" he asks.

Sibyl scuffs the soles of her leather boots on the mat, mindful not to track mud into the shop. There's not much she can do about the rainwater sloughing off her clothes, but she's less concerned about that for the same reason Sasha isn't giving Logan shit for splashing him with whiskey.

The Russian is still sucking on his fingers as Sibyl makes her way across the room, weaving between pieces of furniture that are older than the three of them combined. She carries what looks like a sopping gym bag over one shoulder, the fabric bowing at the middle from the weight of whatever is inside.

Sasha might make a salacious comparison between the bag and Logan's paramour if he was clever enough. He isn't.

"Good morning," she greets him, and deposits the bag on the table in front of Logan with a mighty thump.

Likewise licking expensive liquor off his own fingers, Logan does Sibyl the courtesy of sitting up, shoe soles finding the floor, Logan doesn't dignify Sasha's question with an answer save for a quirk of a wicked half-smile before his attention draws to the gym bag. Opening his mouth to protest its placement too late before its done, a puddle beginning to develop beneath it. The whiskey bottle rattles, but stays where it is.

He stands, glass and cigarette in hands. "I hope it's not books," he says. "Given givens." Setting cigarette between teeth, he goes to pick the bag open, using his fingertips in a sort of delicate, fussy way, as if unsure as to the cleanliness of the vessel itself. But sharply curious, all the same, accustomed to prizes only big enough to fit inside one of the girl's coat pockets.

"Sasha, this is Sibyl. Sibyl, Sasha."

Sasha offers Sibyl his hand. This is the polite thing to do, he's learned, and prickles with visible irritation like a dog and its hackles when she doesn't take it. She glances instead at Logan, searching his face for any sign that she shouldn't trust the scruffy-looking stranger leaning his hip against the table at the Englishman's side.

Sensing nothing overly alarming, she places her delicate hand in Sasha's much larger one and allows him to shake it. Logan is correct when he surmises that the contents of Sibyl's bag contain something other than small pieces of jewelry set with precious stones that capture the light inside of them. No diamonds today, only—

"Yob tvoyu mat," Sasha says, and follows it with a low, impressed-sounding whistle as he abandons Sibyl's hand and takes one of seven handguns out of the bag. "PSM pistol." He hefts the weapon, testing its weight, and points it at a statue across the room. "Double action trigger. Detachable box magazine. USSR stuff."

Sasha is very much free to take from the opened bag as Logan's hands hover in surprise, cigarette giving off a ribbon of smoke as it idly burns pain on its own accord. Selective about the sorts of purchases he makes, a lingering instinct for survival as opposed to principle, Logan gives the bag's contents long consideration, then flicks a slightly sharper, pale-eyed look down and across at the littlest thief.

Logan neatly finishes his whiskey, and sets it down.

"How old," is directed at Sasha, even if he keeps her under his sights, before returning his attention to the guns. He reaches in to take one, carefully cracking it open to check whether its empty with fingers that know their way around weapons.

"Mmm," Sasha makes a rough sound at the back of his throat, considering. It's mostly for dramatic effect; for the first time, he's in a position to be an asset to Logan's business, and will milk this for all that it's worth. "Late nineties. Older than this one." He points the gun at Sibyl now, and it takes all her effort and courage not to flinch away even though she knows it isn't loaded. "Not by much. In Syria, the special police— they still use. Is good, light, easy to hide."

Logan's chosen weapon, like the one Sasha waves haphazardly in Sibyl's direction because he likes the way it feels when people are afraid of him, is empty.

"People will pay," she insists.

"People cannot afford," Sasha snaps back. "You need Soviet pistol cartridge. Spitzer-pointed full metal jacket bullet with steel conical core. Stupid girl."

That Logan is turning a blind eye to Sasha's antics is not out of neglect, just as he doesn't ask Sibyl where she comes across her wares. For the first time, he is deeply tempted to, a small warning bell going off at the back of his brain before he switches it off with another inhale of smoke. He's moved a gun or two through his stocks before, some of them of more utility than the average collector's piece, but had avoided getting his fingers too deeply into the arms dealing game.

He closes and then turns the revolver in his hand, a cowboy spin that has the handle smacking back into his palm. Pantomimes blowing smoke off the end.

"Smart girl," he asserts. "Clever girl. Brings me things of a lot more value than stories of romantic squabbles, for that matter. Rarely does she bring me problems, though, and I hope she's not prepared to start."

"Tell her come back with Glock G19," Sasha suggests. "Ruger LCP." He puts the pistol to Sibyl's forehead and barks out a short laugh when she defiantly swats it away with her hand. If his pride is stung by Logan's subtle criticism, he does not allow it to show on his face.

Sibyl is marginally more sensitive. "I'd like my pistol back, please," she tells the Russian, who tucks it into his pants instead and produces a wallet from his jacket pocket.

"I will buy," he announces. "One only, for collector's item." And that leaves six guns to unload somewhere that isn't the Vault.

Sibyl looks discouraged but not defeated as Sasha counts out two hundred and fifty dollars in cash. "Do you know someone else?" she asks Logan. Someone else who might be interested, she means.

"I know everyone."

A sideways glance carries Logan's attention to the impromptu transaction going on, and feels the back of his canines with his tongue. He crushes out his cigarette into the little ceramic tray he put out. "And I don't think I fancy you walking back out there with a small armory carried about on your little stick legs and Mary Janes. Why don't I take them off your hands," he says, voice switching to a more velvety, inviting tone, the kind you'd give a cartoon snake, "and I find the right people who will pay.

"Like this one," he says, flatter, now rolling a look to Sasha. "Neanderthal means 'caveman'."

Sasha tries to imagine a world where this is a compliment. His brows knit. "I see Neanderthal in movies," he says. "When Neanderthal fight dinosaur, Neanderthal wins."

Not a great defense. He's also been drinking. His wallet somehow finds its way back into his pocket.

It hasn't escaped Sibyl's notice that Logan has opted not to ask where the pistols were sourced from, and she feels an obligation to daintily walk that line for him. He's been kind to her. "I wouldn't make an offer to Zain Syan," she says, her tone quiet but pointed, "or Sylvester Sandoval."

It's a kindness, on her end, but a convenience, on Logan's. In this case, it might have been a terrible mistake had she not pushed the issue as gently as possible, but there is still a part of him that regrets knowing this information as he lets out a sigh that tastes of alcohol fumes and smoke, tipping a look up at the ceiling and its dripping crystal.

"Darling," he says, putting the revolver back in the dufflebag, and dragging it closer to himself, "I make a concerted effort not to cross paths with Sandoval when I can best help it, but I do in fact have business with Syan from time to time."

Business means a couple of things, in Logan's mind. Cooperation, and rivalry.

"You're going to go to Staten Island one day and never be seen again. There won't even be an obituary. That place never fucking changes."

No commentary or snark from Sasha's corner this time. He watches Sibyl in an abrupt and uneasy silence as she recounts the cash, folds it, and fastens it together with what looks like a bobby pin. Like Logan, he prefers to give Sandoval a wide berth for reasons that are obvious to anyone who knows him as well as the Englishman does.

Nothing has him backing down faster than alluding to SESA. His fingers itch absently at the inside of his arm.

"Your Crucible turns a tidy profit," Sibyl says. "I've been. Will they forget to write your obituary too?"


Logan keeps a relatively even poker face at mention of his other enterprise, but there is a subtle shift he can't help. A coldness, making sharp the handsome, symmetrical lines of bone structure, and clear, pale eyes. The easy, indulgent manner he's paid the girl has shifted like the wind. It's not the first time. It's easy to cross lines with someone like Logan, particularly when you see them right there and make the decision to do so.

Subliminal aggression is more warning, however. "Girl has a mouth on her," he observes, a lazy conversational lasso to Sasha, who could be anyone for all the mind Logan pays his commentary, attention on Sibyl. "Gets you far on this side of the river, but over there, I don't reckon it'd do her any favours."

"PSM is very distinct," Sasha says in his own sort of warning. He's not confident that Logan will be able to sell the remaining pistols without it getting back to his business rival, but he also doesn't press the issue. There will be time to figure out logistics later, and he'd be lying if he claimed he didn't feel a secret little thrill.

This might be the first real risk they've taken together in a long time.

Rather than grow steelier and fortify her defenses, Sibyl defies the urge to shut Logan out. She's learned that standoffishness doesn't do her any favours either — at least not in situations like this one. "I'm sorry," she says, moving around the desk to place a fleeting hand on Logan's arm. It may be that she senses Sasha's possessiveness of Logan, too, and seeks revenge for his stunt with the unloaded pistol. "Thank you for looking out for me, Mr. Logan. I promise I'll be more careful."

She kisses his cheek, like young ladies who intend nothing except superficial but sincere displays of affection do. Sasha seethes.

Logan accepts this apology with the grace of someone who enjoys performative displays of deference and affection, eyes hooding at the brush of a kiss to his cheek, and the subtlest flushes of serotonin suggest to Sibyl that she made the right decision. If he feels Sasha's animosity stewing away nearby, he certainly isn't about to comment on it.

"Much appreciated that you do," he says, running warm once more. "Now," hands on her shoulders, he steers her towards his own chair, "sit tight — don't touch nothing — and I'll be back with something for you. Sasha, find a place in the back room for the new acquisitions, would you?"

A look, over the top of Sibyl's blonde head, that insists upon no-fuss compliance.

Sasha narrows his eyes at Logan. Fine, the look says. This is fine. He adjusts the cuffs of his coat, stalling for time, and shoots one last glare at the top of that very same head before he retreats and carves his way into the back room. Jealousy has his feet hitting the floorboards just a little harder than they normally might, but Logan don't you dare accuse him of stomping off.

Sibyl settles into the chair without complaint. It's warmer inside the Vault than it is outside. She won't pass up the opportunity to dry off for a few extra minutes while her sometimes employer tends to his business. Her small hands rub together, generating friction and heat.

Perhaps, if Sasha weren't stomping around, and if it wasn't Sasha with whom Logan suddenly needed to talk shop with, Logan might go so far as to put a cup of tea in the girl's hands as if, upon hitting thirty, he'd adopted his mother's manners. That he doesn't, now, is no skin off his nose, and soon enough, he returns before Sasha can — the best favour he can do her — with an envelope in his hand.

It's labeled, in his handwriting, 'Sybil'.

Logan offers it for her to take, leaning his hip against the desk. Without opening it, she can feel the insides are decently padded, the shape of neatly clipped bills. "I don't suppose you'll accept store credit, one of these days," is droll.

Store credit neither soothes the hunger pangs in her belly nor guards her against freezing to death in the winter. Sibyl offers Logan a gloomy smile of gratitude, imagining a world in which she’d be able to accept payment in the form of the antique jewelry he keeps behind glass, or restored furniture still smelling faintly of the oils used burnish it back to life. It is so far beyond her reach that she might as well wish to be able to pluck the moon out of the sky and carry it around with her so she never has to sleep in complete darkness.

“No,” she says, a little sad, but also a little light. Her tone is rarely without some buoyancy beneath its surface, even of difficult days — like today. “I don’t think so.”

The girl slips the envelope, and Sasha’s cash, inside her wool coat for safekeeping and fastens the buttons one at a time with swift, well-practiced motions. She’s never overstayed her welcome here. “I’ll see you next week,” she promises as she rises from the chair and steps past Logan, touching her hand to his chest as a gentle farewell in place of a handshake, or a hug.

There’s something old and unusual about that gesture, but he won’t be able to pin it down with his finger. Only after the bell has rung a second time and Sibyl disappears from view does Sasha emerge from the back room. The gym bag is gone; so are the pistols, and it’s a safe assumption that Sasha has locked them away somewhere they won’t be found if the military police happens to come knocking.

He rejoins Logan at the table. “I do not like your Sibyl,” he says in a voice usually reserved for small children who have just welcomed a younger brother or sister in the world.

Logan sits back down as Sasha enters, considering his ashtray and his empty glass and pushing aside both. Without yet looking up, "Well, she thinks the world of you."

Droll enough for even Sasha Kozlow to catch.

But eye contact is made, and then, "Don't worry about Sibyl," is designed to reassure and dismiss, folding his arms on the table top. "That's my job. I'd like to start feeling around for buyers as soon as possible, and I want to get rid of those guns individually. Neither of us heard the names Zain Syan or Sylvester Sandoval."

A little like his companion, he can't help but feel the thrill of good but risky business, mind latching to the problem at hand as if it were a puzzle.

“No to Arrowood brothers also,” Sasha suggests. “Old boat people, maybe.” Ferrymen goes unsaid. Years later, the word still tastes bitter in his mouth. He washes away the memory of it with a final gulp of whiskey, finishing what’s left in the glass.

Times have changed. He longs for a world in which they wouldn’t even need to have this conversation and a buyer would be lined up before the bag even arrived on their doorstep. “You know who is sneaky sometimes?” he asks. “Redbird, I am bet. Raytech? Richard Ray? PSM— this weapon is perfect for keep in back pocket.”

On the flipside, Logan sees that world around them, beneath the veneer of respectability. He doesn't miss what this city was before the war, not really, even as he resurrects the bits of it he enjoyed. He shakes another cigarette out, raising an eyebrow at these suggestions. Old boat people is a compelling thought, but he doesn't get far along that tangent before—

"Corporate?" he says, out loud, neither question nor refusal. "Maybe. I'll have to check my Rolodex, first — I've still my share of friends, in this city, who might feel disappointed to have missed out."

Which is one way to put it.

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