logan_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Neverland
Synopsis There's only so much character-building and maturity that psychic sledgehammer intervention can induce in a monster. Here, two dubiously rehabilitated sociopaths explore the limitations of this.
Date August 5, 2009

Not Far From Dorchester Towers — A Dive Bar Named Neverland


The bar is due to close soon, which is fine by Logan. That just means another lock, a shut off portal to a world he doesn't care much for at the moment. Currently, his universe is constricted into four walls, grimy grey, a high ceiling with pallid fluorescents, and behind him, now warm against his back, the door he's locked, that occasionally vibrates when someone bangs the side of their fist against it. Not so interested in expanding it any further than that, really. Arms looped around his knees, Logan tightens and loosens the hold he has around on his cellphone, creaks of plastic threatening to break filling the empty bathroom.

It's not bad. The tile is stained with age and who knows what else, the ceiling patchy from cigarette smoke and water damage, but as far as dive bar bathrooms go—

He flinches as someone tries the handle again, with an impatient, demanding rattle of metal; his shoulders curl inwards, but otherwise, gives no reaction that the whoever on the other side of the barrier can detect, and blessedly, the stomp of feet herald the threat going away. Logan is pretty sure he can't stay in here forever, in the same way he can't live forever, but he can give it a go.

"Excuse me." What's a two-hundred and thirty pound Samoan bouncer supposed to make of a runt from Sicily insinuating himself after-hours and requesting that? Besides 'No;' a foot the size of a spaceship crushing down on the roof of his head, fracturing and imploding the bony ridge of his temple, causing brain damage, coma, a surgically implanted metal plate. Really, Teo should know better by now. Fortunately — he does.

Three Jacksons jut from his fist, upraised, waylaying the big man's instinct to snarl. There's a pause, the consideration of small, dark eyes, a glance over his shoulder toward the manager's room. A fourth twenty-dollar bill joins the trio, is summarily snatched up in the blocky grasp of the bouncer's fist. Teo offers a wry ghost of a grin, ducks his head in acknowledgment when he's told fifteen minutes in a voice deep-roughened enough to peel what stubborn residue of paint clings to these walls.

It smells like ass and pussy all the way out here. "Capo," he calls through. His voice is recognizable, thinned this time not from the translation of digital media and dubious electronic reproduction quality but the density of the intervening metal. "Did the stick turn pink, or what? Come on."

It would make logical sense that a voice he'd summoned would be met with the opening of a door. It doesn't. Not a quiver, stubbornly locked in all its peeling paint, rundown glory, Logan's back stubbornly levered against it on the off-chance that the shiny metal lock won't hold itself. Silence, at first, enough of it that it might convince Teo that Logan's managed to sequester himself in the door further down the hallway, the one with the symbol of a skirt on it, until—

"Why are you Teo again?"

The voice doesn't come from anywhere around what Logan's 5'10" of height would suggest, but somewhere lower, as if on his knees or, more accurately, seated curled. There's affront in his voice, confusion and curiousity second, but it all is wheedled thinly out of a tight throat, a whine.

Why is— ? Cold, rust-pocked retal bumps Teo's stubbled chin when he bends his face a little too near, confusion furrowing his brow, fatigue blurring his eyes to disfocus. He's— sitting. On the floor. Satin, leopard print, or no.

This— the magnitude of this departure from memorable norm, leads the Sicilian pause for a moment, a beat of time spent scraping together the recollections of the specter long gone and dividing them from the squalling of unkind opinions that the younger Teo had cast against them: he does remember Huruma's handiwork, his involvement in it. Monstrously arrogant thing that it is, to impose somebody-else's tyrannical sense of propriety, justice, or conscience upon another human soul. Not that Ghost had thought it anything more than that, of course, but self-awareness never exculpated him; it inculpated him.

"I don't know," he answers, finally. It isn't precisely untrue: he could have changed his face. He's thought about changing his face. This one doesn't seem to fit. "Been a weird couple weeks. Thought it might make me feel better, returning to familiar territory. You don't really want to be in here, do you?"

Acceptable half-truth, enough that it doesn't inspire another question, the gentle knock of Logan's skull resting back against the door making a fine reverberation. Nothing bruising, just the definite thud of someone slumping back in leisure, or, perhaps, defeat. There's a fluttery, throaty sound— laughter, a wry chuckle that slithers out from beneath the door, sad-sounding.

"Don't know." Sniff; a shift as he settles his position. "No one else is in 'ere." And so ergo, it can't be all that bad, being in the company of silent, piss-stained urinals, rusty pipes and a no-smoking sign that he's already ignored a couple of times now. "I've had a weird couple of weeks too. Toru said— "

There's a hesitation, as if an attempt to lose the mumble, starting again with; "Toru said you were— that I could still call you."

'Weird couple weeks.' If it was verbally possible to concoct a more droll way of phrasing that, they would've found it between the two of them, no doubt. Teo's head droops slightly on its axis, falling into an angle as weary as the pathetic percussive bump of the erstwhile pimp's back into the door. "Yeah. He— I told him that, didn't I?

"Toru. Your boyf— squ— the half-Nip kid. 'F course," he hastens, running blunt fingers down the hollow at the back of his neck. That's what I told him. "Described your difficulties with the recent liquidation and personnel cuts."

Teo can not be entirely sure whether he's trying to spare them both the embarrassment of acknowledging how very not related to business Logan's obvious distraught is, or this is mockery. Not even he is entirely sure what virtues or vices inspire his rather stilted choice of vocabulary. He manages to stifle a sigh, glances up at the ping-ping-zip of a bottlefly trying to copulate with the lightbulb overhead. Already blinded, two legs burnt off. It's a metaphor. "What's it you want, then, capo?"

Wwwant? What does Logan want. A pony. Tissue paper. A stiff drink. Real bullets in the gun still hidden beneath his fine, black jacket. The answers are indefinite and too facetious to be serious and really leaving Logan with nothing at all. But on the subject of calling in itself—

"They told me to." Call someone. Although the words themselves might be hard to make out, muttered as they are.

There's another sound, soft like laughter, but muffled against a palm, between fingers. Fuck. This is ridiculous. "There was a woman I was going to kill, and— I didn't. I put in blanks. Scared her instead." His voice is unmistakably wet sounding, miserable. "Hurt her, too, and which— fuck." Articulating this inexplicable soul-deep tear is impossible, especially when one's vocab has never been built around such things before. "It was supposed to get better and it hasn't, not since the Dagger. I don't know what the fuck to do anymore. Called you because— you're supposed to know."

It says nothing good about him or the Teo that had come before, that it surprises him, that anything at all good came of the situation at all. A life saved. That might well be good. God knows there are plenty of evil sons of bitches that evil sons of bitches want dead, too. Sons of bitches, or the bitches themselves. One might as well be an equal opportunities misanthropist, honestly. Teo listens to Logan talk.

Teo catches the curses, the staccatoed panic, the loathing, the halted words like so much change and wadded tissue shaken loose out of the pockets of clothing that's already been through the wash, counts it up, separates the rankling metal from the pulpy refuse with fingers made swift from muscle memory, only to find himself uncertain what to do with the piles once segregated. What you want, what you need, what you could use in any practical function of life— aggravating when these things do not coincide.

"That was mercy," he remembers to say, eventually. "Tell me about her."

There is patience in his voice, bleak as winter but not precisely cold. The fly moves on to court a different lightbulb. The longer Logan stays in there, the longer the lights remain on, and the less ammonia Teo's adapting senses can discern.

There's some silence, at this invitation to talk, as if unsure at first what to do with it. Logan's using the backs of his fingers to clean away salty tears, lukewarm, inspecting his hand when he draws it away as if checking for blood before his gaze swims upwards to contemplate the room he's in. This frozen, windowless, secluded place where it could be night and day; could be ten years forward, ten years back; he could be dead, if he simply stopped talking.

Schroedinger's bathroom. Yeah, he could get used to this place. Logan's voice manages to lose some of that fringing panic, though shaky conversational tones are a far cry from his usual silver. "Name's Sanders. She's on some— fucking— warpath at Linderman, over her dead son. I was meant to make it go away."

Breathe in, breathe out. Logan shuts his eyes against the glaring, life-sucking tube lights up above. "Very pretty, Evolved with some sort of strength power— she could probably do it, you know, kill him. I thought once I took care of her, things would be alright, but— " But, obviously not. If things were better, he might be sashaying around his new apartment already, telling Toru or Bebe or whoever was closer aaall about it, not whining through this particular door that doesn't belong to him.

"I used to enjoy it, you know. That sort've thing. Used to be good at it. I thought she'd be fun to break."

Ghost had enjoyed it a little too. He does know. This sort of thing, used to be good at it, and Logan had been fun to break, even if the ghost had been too pathologically bored of affairs peripheral to Pinehearst to get close enough to feel the heat or toast s'mores in it. His lip curls, reflexively, almost a grin, not quite a sneer.

He finally turns away from the door, sets his shoulder against it. Lets it take its weight. By now, Logan has the metal so solidly jammed into its frame with the quivering might of his misery that there's no palpable nudge or rattle when the opposing force comes without real fervor. He's never heard of Sanders. He should have. If he were still to Phoenix what he had been two months ago, he would have.

"Linderman isn't going to like this," he observes, the obvious thing. Detachedly, he realizes that Logan isn't really in here, shriveled at the bottom of the husk of his former glory because he's even particularly afraid of the mob boss's wrath. Detachedly, he realizes, too, that Ghost would be detachedly weighing the dubious pleasure of seeing Logan squirm against the detriment to his longer agenda, the probability that losing his hapless hound to the first hurdle would render the rest of the commitment he'd made, the sacrifices of blood, respect, peace of mind— what he had left of that— moot point.

Detachment is a vice. Strange that its loss doesn't quite remake Logan in the shape and colors of a saint. "Does he already know?"

Logan shakes his head, responds with a belated, "No." It's the most confidence he's summoned since Teo had arrived at the door, definite in the fact he couldn't give a fuck what Linderman wants and doesn't want, what he knows and doesn't know— and also, "It won't matter. The man who put me on this assignment— 'e said he didn't really think it'd go anywhere, didn't state in words that he wanted her dead— that was more Zarek's feeling on the matter. Already going t'give me a business to manage and everything."

Which. Would suggest things are going well, all concerns considered. There's another sniff. "But I did what you wanted, didn't I? Why do I feel like my future is fucked either way?"

Ghost's residual ectoplasmic presence pounces amoeba-like upon this morsel of information: business to manage. That's certainly more or different to what Richard Cardinal's gotten out of liaisoning, even if it doesn't unequivocally validate the various gorey and vicious sacrifices that the specter had made. Teo's jaw twitches; he almost asks aloud, but doesn't. This wouldn't be the time.

That isn't what Logan called him for, for one thing, and for some strange reason— he really is here on John's behest. "I don't know," he answers, eventually. "This should feel like a beginning for you. Not an ending. New business, new island, new prospects, new…" the pause fits awkward in here, weighty from the threat of irony when he says the word: "feelings." Teo manages to sound sincere.

"Yeah. Should." It's rough, having a mood that's a bit like stacking cards. Even attempts at building up could have it crumble and disintegrate, delicate and quivering. Logan tremors, doesn't quite cave, as much as he might want to, as much as he escaped in here to do just that. Over and over again. Self-pity is easy. It's harder when you're not sure you're allowed that much.

His back takes its weight off the door, though doesn't quite get around to sitting up yet, palm used to smear away tears from his face, observe the saline glistening before rubbing his palms together. "Don't. Doesn't. What's the use of a new beginning if you're going to— " A hitch, jaw clenching, voice wheedled out at a tremor upon start up; "If you're going to make the same mistakes over'n over anyway?"

There's a shuffle, the sound of expensive fabric sliding together, and Logan's voice, eventually, comes from some place taller. "Ever hated yourself?" It seems like an honest question, curious in a projectiony kind of way. He rests a hand against the door.

Somewhere in the back of the theater, there is an audience member— or eighteen— tittering at that question. Is hilarious question. Teo mashes a blunt thumb and forefinger into his eyelids, scrubbing them against his corneas wearily. "Yeah.

"Boring story. There's a girl in mine, too. Not to be sexist or anything, but," a shrug scratches metal behind him, the shift of fabric sewn up arond his shape. "There's always a girl." Unless you're reading Tolkien, in which the female sex is not overly or richly elaborated, frankly, but that's literary analysis for another time. "I turned it into something useful," he says, appropos of seemingly nothing, but he thought he heard an incipient question in the air, somewhere below the incessance of the insect at the ceiling. "Commitment to change. Redemptive passions. Appetite for literature, shit like that.

"You don't seem like the reading type."

The creak of boots, not even especially nice ones, quietly indicates pacing, a couple of steps to the left, to the right. Logan has his hands in his pockets, lanky posture somewhat bowed, and he snorts, once, at that last observation. "Yeah. Lost my reading specs somewhere back in 1998." The door shudders, once, under a casual touch of boot toe to metal, a contemplative and lazy kick, pale eyes made paler from the red injected into the whites around them falling to stare at the lock.

"Had dreams telling me that, lately. Don't know. Don't really believe 'em, about change. I've not much to lose, but— enough. I didn't call Toru here for a reason."

Sniff. He scrubs his hands over his face again. Grips the back of his neck. "'ave you got a car with you?"

"No. I have a bike, though. Motorcycle," Teo clarifies, lurching off the door with some vague and quite possibly unrealistic expectation that he might expect to have an erstwhile pimp marching out of it, ready and raring to go some point soon. Yes? No? Maybe? If he plies him with an unmarked (periwinkle) van and handfuls of drugged candy? Logan sounds like he could use a few synthetic substances to ease the passage of time and conscience, honestly. It would probably make Huruma's blade less painful to bear when it ends, too.

Or Cardinal's. "Satoru. 'S he what happened? No offense, but— " and Teo doesn't even fucking know why he thinks the erstwhile psychopath would glean offense from this anyway, but it's said before he thinks to stop himself, this inadvertent, accidental, harmless misstep into treating Logan as if he's an actual human being— "— it didn't sound like Sanders is what shook you. If you went into that spat with blanks preloaded."

It has Logan blinking too, this suggestion that one other human being could, potentially, hurt him this deeply. It would make some kind of mirror sense, when Ghost had found the half-Jap curled up on the floor as if Logan had physically driven a kick into his gut; the yellow-white exoskeleton of bone creeping across his flesh in some mockery of protection from the world's hurts. Logan only has tile and locks at his disposal.

"I couldn't kill her," Logan eventually states. "So I just— showed her I could've. No, not Toru— it's just. He doesn't like me when I'm not…" Himself.

Almost as baffling as feeling bad about dead women, is fretting about how someone else might like you. Then again, when Logan's pickings of friends are this slim, it might have some importance. "I haven't seen 'im in a week. Couldn't stand living off his charity, you know what I mean?" Those last five words come out in the signature Cockney slur, as if perhaps it were one, casual rhetoric. "It's pathetic."

Because this. This isn't pathetic. "I don't know what happened. It just hit me one day. Remembered every other time I'd done it."

Ghost had installed himself in front of a television to watch that trial, some point before he'd become Ghost. Every other time is a lot of times, as he recalls. "Not really," he remarks. "It isn't really pathetic. You could put a spin on it. Sense of entitlement. He owes you, after all you've done for him. Fuckin' him, keeping him after he shat all over professional cool. It doesn't have to be pathetic." But it is, isn't it? Logan makes it so; humiliation, not to be confused with humility, have made it so.

It fascinates him, in a distant sort of way. He wonders what Huruma could have done to the ghost, but it's hard to say, with psychics. "Is that where you want me to take you?" he asks, finally. "Toru's place? Chinatown, he told me. Sorry I didn't visit." Empty platitude, that apology, but it's a token offered when he didn't have to, maybe even because he feels like someone should have to be here to do it. Better than nothing, if not better than no one.

Logan smiles at no one at Teo's observation, at his sense of entitlement. That's what it had been. Practically prowling around Toru's place like an overgrown cat, only tidying up if he was bored enough, sprawling across the whole bed, using up the hot water. Then suddenly the world shifted, or a mirror was held up, or something. Epiphany. He had an epiphany.

It's almost true, if epiphanies could be so by definition if it were imposed on you. The erstwhile pimp skips over these sentiments, not bothering to waste breath on further analysis, on excuses. "No," Logan eventually states instead, almost too quiet to be heard. "Have a place in the— the upper west side. Dorchester Towers."

His hands move efficiently to smooth away wrinkles, shake off dust and dirt if it were there. There's really nothing else he can do for his appearance, save to wait out the amount of time it takes to stop looking distraught, and probably they'll break down the door and toss him on the curb before there's time enough for that. The lock scrapes apart, and Logan knows a sense of panic at the echoing click. Come on, John. Get a grip. Hissing out an exhale through his teeth, he steps back, tugs the door open, expression still drawn in fractured stoicism. Not a scrape of velvet or leopard print in sight, dressed in chic black, if tailored, if silk-lined.

Casts a still damp-eyed look up and down the other man, as if checking to sure he were really real after all and Logan hadn't summoned up some kind of auditory hallucination to make himself better. To be absolutely honest, he wouldn't put it past himself.

Revelation might be the better word. Revelations are, at least in the vocabulary of Teo's mind, flung down lightning-edged and overhand by the hand of God more often than the result of the powers of internal deduction or motivated fulfillment of self-prophesy. Teo knows how it is! He's Catholic, after all. Strange angels are also a concept that he is well-acquainted with, though he wouldn't really allot himself that particular title.

Teodoro Laudani looks like anything but one, outside the door. Dressed in black, too. Black over black, black boots, black— gun, too, coincidentally, both a Glock and a Para-Ordnance stowed around on his person. His expression dark, mostly by choreography: Ghost had generally not been wont to let the glistering effulgence of saints shine out of his face, and even if the psychic hybrid that's resulted of him is capable of that, he knows better than to let the ruse flag any further than it has. Not when Logan's finally gotten in.

With sweet digs, even. "I like Dorchester Towers," he says, an absurd transition into casual residential fare. I know a mutant thief who can spy on your shit there. "Nice place, solid security. Kidnapped a girl who used to live there, before— had to do it on the street. She got me with a knife. Different girl," he adds. To the one who made him hate himself, though Eileen Ruskin hadn't hurt.

There's a woman who lives on Roosevelt Island and also in dreaming that would agree. About revelation. The Tower, anyway, and its structural integrity when it comes to the electrical storm edge of that revelation, printed in dark colours in mid-crumble. Tarot is a step away from Catholicism, although the lightning depicted has to come from somewhere, and why not the hand of God?

"Good to know," Logan states, a hand up to rub just beneath an eye, the movement of which shifts aside his jacket enough that the shoulder rig secured beneath it can be seen at a glance. He pauses at the threshold, with the flicker of unflattering lights angling both front and back, making a black wardrobe seem dusty and lint-ridden than the ninja depth that's generally desired. A look is dealt up and down the hallway, before narrowing back on Teo, in much the sharp, incisive way he'd stared at him when Ghost had set himself up in Logan's office. As if maybe a glare could cut down to the truth.

It doesn't, presently, and if it did, it'd be too late anyway. He sniffs, again, hopefully for the final time and let's go of a sigh, as if he'd been breathing high up in his lungs for the past hour. "Thanks for coming," he finally mutters, rocking his weight onto a foot in suggestion of following the other man out.

"It's why I make the big bucks," Teo responds, the offhand joke— Scroogey bastard— hidden somewhere in the careless rough of his voice. Kindness is withholding it from delivery loud. Speculating that the weight of his gaze might actually turn Logan away again, Teo merely turns away.

There's a clangor of metal and a clap of boot on the stair up ahead, a shout in some African accent hurled down the narrow hallway at them. Your time is up. We gotta bring crowbars? Teo calls out in response. We're fucking coming, a'right? Spits a curse to his left, afterward, sniffs through his nose, loud and damp, like a canine rooting for some lost object on behest of its master.

A fly drops dead behind them, hits the ground with a thok inaudible under the tread of their shoes. "Did Eloni quit?" he asks, without looking.

And so begins the walk of shame. This bit, as petty as it is, had assisted in keeping Logan locked away as he was, although at the looming shadows of scowly employees, they're only rewarded with the most English of chilly insincerity, and otherwise, Logan's gaze falls on Teo's back. "No. Not as such. He worked for the Dagger, you know, and I figure he'll work for this new place too once I get in touch with him."

Up the stairs short amount of stairs, out the smokey hallway, into the main little den of the bar with its sticky floors and low lights. Logan had sat at the very end of the bar, with a mostly untouched glass of two measures of gin, a grin of lime floating atop of cluster of ice cubes. Had taken a sip and tasted bile, left it there to soak a ring of water on the wood grain before finally swiped away.

"Cheers," he tells the bartender with a somewhat abrupt smile, who as good as ignores tonight's thorn in the establishment's side as he falls into step alongside Teo. "Were you looking for a paycheck still?"

Curfew's crowding in on the street outside. Twenty minutes to find shelter, now, before the checkpoints start asking brusque questions and the patrols start careening around with their radios and weary but resilient stern intentions. He closes his eyes briefly, reopens them again without squeezing them hard enough to get the feeling back in his face. It isn't really that cold tonight, but he rode awhile, and Teo used to always be like that.

The Sicilian doesn't look at the bartender as they track across the floor, print their feet on the continents formed by old stains, the seas of worn lacquer. He's never been here before, but the way it's built, the half-blacked neon scrawled across the window, cheap televivions, and the boisterous weapon adverised behind the bar remind him of something so close he almost thinks that he has forgotten something worth remembering. He'd asked after Eloni because he'd thought that might have been the more logical choice of chauffeurs, himself, but he forgets to mention that.

"D'know." He pushes out the door. The bike's there, the Harley: peg kicked down, gunmetal black, crouching aggressive above the gutter, handlebars tilted like the horns of a steer pretending coy seconds before it relieves somebody of their organs. The sky breathes down on them. "Not for this. Only one fuckin' helmet, so," Teo adds without segue, squinting back over his shoulder, one brow raised, as articulate as the question he poses back to the gaunt misery of a man who accompanies him. "You more afraid of death or injury?"

"Didn't mean this," Logan says, stepping out on the street and only sparing a glance towards the bike, a quick flick of judgment, then almost a smile in Teo's direction— wry, and it even reaches his eyes for once, as black in humour as it might be. "What, lately?" Blurry line, both in and out of the context of a ride home. He shakes his head, briskly pushes back the sleeve of his jacket and shirt to eye the clockface of his wristwatch.

Of course, had he only required a ride, and not someone who knew what had once laid ahead of him, Eloni would have been ideal. Could have even pretended to be completely drunk— certainly wouldn't be the first time. That suggests a willingness, however, that needed the variety of fairy dust (no pun intended, Teo) that the Samoan doesn't quite have in his possession to manifest in the form of getting out of the bathroom.

And now that he's here—

"I can walk it from here. I've not been drinking." As if, perhaps, Teo would have a conscience in regard to turning Logan loose on the world with more alcohol than blood in his veins.

There's easy diplomacy in the shrug that Teo dispenses in response. Helmet comes down on his buzzcut head, and there's a clicking shuffle of plastic parts under his chin, even as he squints at the younger— somehow, younger man across the narrow margin of spit-stippled sidewalk that somebody's notion of socially responsible distance had imposed between them. Keys jingle like loose change, lights go out, and a hysterical celebration further down the street blanks out with the sealing clap of a shutting car door.

"Follow Linderman," Teo suggests, finally. "Get close, stay close, don't douche up his business. And some time soon— you should probably figure out what constituent ingredients would make a good day for you." A motion wriggles through a row of five fingers, hocus-pocus theatrics wanding facetious through the gesture of that hand. He swings his leg over the saddle of the bike. "Slip one in there. You'll feel better if you live long enough to do it, amico.

"Promise." His now-armored head lists forward a fraction of a degree, and he looks up into Logan's face, deadpan from something that bears dangerous resemblence to sincerity.

A hand grips his other arm above the elbow, the waist-pinch of his jacket cutting an even slenderer figure than normal in his stance and posture. Logan blinks, once, lazily, at the dispensed advice from the knight astride his steed. No one Logan particularly wants to ride into the sunset with, apparently, but the Disney villains rarely get that opportunity anyway.

"Do you," Logan says, in that flat, not-quite-a-question tone of voice he cultivates, before nodding once. Alright. Message recieved. "I'll be in touch." And that's neither a lie nor a truth, determined only if it ever happens again. Rough boots better designed to trek through the rural terrain of Staten Island make damp sounding impacts against the rain-slicked pavement as he begins to head away.

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