On Respectability


caliban_icon.gif logan_icon.gif

Scene Title On Respectability
Synopsis Logan brings Caliban up to speed on the Rusk situation and finds the tables turned on him in what is probably an unexpected way. Just when he thought he had enough to worry about—
Date February 4, 2010

On the Water

It's ludicrously cold on the body of water between Staten Island and mainland New York City, and the spangling of city lights scattered on the darker horizon are brighter than any beacon that indicates their destination, Red Hook a collection of shapes and suggestion. It's the direction that the grimy little boat is nosed towards, cutting through inky black water that's probably cold enough to force the breath from your lungs at this season. Snow falls in bits and pieces, and what's managed to collect on the decks is already being shoved and sprayed over the side with the scraping sounds of a hard-bristled broom.

Logan could have sworn it wasn't this cold in New Jersey, too, but it wasn't so dark an hour ago either. Dressed more expensively than the hired crew of once river pirates combined, he rests his elbows against an icily chilled railing and hovers his cigarette over the water, the smoking coming off it whipped away as fast as it takes to exhale. A scarf is bundled around his throat, chin dipped into soft wool, and hands protected in fine leather gloves that creak when he makes a fist.

The cigarette falls, flicked away, dying even before it hits the water and Logan leans enough to regard their destination, brow crinkling against the harsh wind coming north. He should probably be nattering happily at Caliban around now, and isn't. He just wants to go home, though whether he wants to sleep is another issue altogether.

Caliban might be more offended by Logan's silence if he was feeling talkative. Instead, he's feeling hungover — and while he hasn't allowed this to overtly influence the business that he and his companion have conducted tonight, there's a sort of languid tiredness about the way he moves across the deck, leaving prints where his leather loafers scuff the metal and compress snow under their soles.

He's wearing a heavy greatcoat over casual dress: beige slacks and a dark sweater that's either dark gray or navy blue and loosely knit, giving him the appearance of a boat captain rather than the publicist that he is. All he needs is a cap with the brim pulled down over his eyes.

His footsteps lead him to the rail where he adopts a position beside Logan, long arms folded on the metal guard rather than dangling over the edge. Wind ruffles through his pale-coloured hair in the absence of a hat and tousles it to the point of making him almost unrecognizable from the back.

That may be the idea, actually.

Cutting a look out the corner of his eye, just enough to recognise who's joined him, Logan relaxes from the frission of tension that had gone up his spine at the sound of foot steps on the icy deck coming up behind him. Unmelted snow crystals catch in the black fabric of his coat, in his hair, though the latter is freed of them as he brings up a gloved hand to ruffle snow free from blonde curls, arms settling back into their casual fold against the railing.

He steers a look up and down Caliban, as if seeing him now for the first time as opposed to the last few hours. "Rough night?" Out of all of the things he could say, he plucks up the smalltalk conversational thread and tugs. Logan had told a terrorist— excuse me, activist— he was never good at smalltalk, and that was a lie — he's good at it when he wants to be.

"Something like that." Caliban's job is to be evasive. It's what Linderman pays him for, though he isn't usually quite this equivocal around Logan unless there's something he's hiding from him. Which, of course, there is — he's not sure how his companion might react if he told him where he ended up or who with.

He reaches into his coat and retrieves a cigar he'd tucked into one of its interior pockets before their departure, and uses an unusually thick match to light it before launching the spent stick overboard just as Logan had his cigarette. "You're in a bad mood this evening," says the pot to the kettle.

Fortunately for Robert, John is in an especially self-absorbed mood, readily dismissing that he'd even asked the man anything at all as his attention is drawn back down towards the play of dark river water. Evasiveness is excused in that he wasn't all that interested to begin with, and he angles his face away to take in a different horizon. So Caliban doesn't see the rueful smirk his younger companion gets at that observation, though he might see the short burst of steam that comes with a quiet chuckle. Explanation comes in the form of a debrief.

"The Nichols girl's got herself in a spot of trouble. She didn't answer the last text I sent, so I'm presuming Rusk has her. She broke into the warehouse by herself, sent me pictures of some of the personnel, the interior— found out they're running some kind of experimentation operation on involuntary subjects. Then she told me to send help."

Logan's hands wrap around the railing, arms straightening and curling his shoulders inwards to alleviate the chilled stiffness in his muscles. "So that's interesting," he adds.

"Interesting," Caliban repeats around his cigar. "Maybe not the word I would have used." Smoke uncurls in thick tendrils from his nose and the corners of his mouth where his lips part. There's a distinct lack of expression on his face, but his eyes are dark, becoming solemn at this piece of news. He doesn't otherwise react to it except to take another drag, causing the tip of the cigar to flare orange and act as a beacon in the fog.

"I take it that you're going to do something about it?" he asks after a short silence that's filled by the distant blare of a horn echoing forlornly across the water. Then; "Unless you want to make an enemy of her sister, it wouldn't do to just leave her there."

"She knows a little too much too, doesn't she?" A light observation, an added justification to tag onto an altruistic and costly task that the Linderman Group is not particularly famous for. For a company run by a philanthropist, that is. "We'll go get her, as long as she's smart enough to move when the place is broken into. I didn't exactly agree to supply what Rusk was lying about, and I'm inclined to take what's mine back. Or destroy it." So no one else can have it. Logan licks his lips, dried from the cold wind, and lets out a sigh.

Here we go. "I'm going to advise we keep the Refrain distribution limited to our local clients. This deal," and he glances past Caliban to indicate the way they'd come, before finally seeking out the older man's eyes with a glance upwards, "is the last one. Only didn't cut it off entirely because it wouldn't do to be offending anyone."

There's something vaguely amusing to Caliban about John Logan offering him advice, and for a moment the wrinkles around his eyes and the corners of his mouth are more visible than they were in the seconds preceding his last statement. "That's a very prudent decision," he agrees, "I think we've offended enough people already, what with the coercive sex and cutting out of tongues." His voice lacks the heat that someone impassioned might possess — he's too tired to even attempt feigning disapproval at this point.

"Whatever course of action you take," Caliban says, "I'll back you, but how do you suggest we go about this? Rusk's got private security, hasn't she? It's one thing to tell Nichols that we're willing to support her. Quite another to put an extraction team together without drawing undue attention to what we're doing."

The look Caliban gets is filthy with resentment, sudden, irritated and overtired, nevermind the lack of fire in the older man's words. "That isn't the offense I met," Logan mutters, returning to his bleak stare out across the river, settling against the railing and allowing his words to get lost in the wind. As quickly as that flare of temper had come, it sputters out again as he brings up his hands to rub his face, warm leather against cold-pecked skin gone pink and white from the chill. "I was thinking we can take Rusk," he says, voice softer but louder, meant for hearing and conversation.

"She's new to all of this, I think — timid when it comes to getting her hands dirty. If we can't win her over with better prospects, we can break her into making the task a little easier, I think. Nichols confirmed she's the woman in charge."

Standing up from his slouch, Logan rests his back against the railing and tucks a hand into his coat, extracting the silver cigarette case James Muldoon had given him once upon a time. He flicks it open, uses his teeth to pull out one of the bone-pale cylinders, and clicks the item closed again.

Caliban's eyes linger on the case for a little longer than is probably polite — it's a very nice make — before his gaze wanders back up to Logan's face, keen on picking out the finer details that might give him more insight into what he's planning than his words alone do. Take Rusk could mean any number of things. He does not ask for elaboration. Doesn't need to. He gets it in the form of what's said next, Logan's voice carried to him on the same breeze that fills is nostrils with the smell of sewage and far away rotting fish.

If there's one thing the Linderman Group doesn't mind, it's getting its hands dirty. "You want to arrange a meeting?"

"She's already said she won't 'ave a drink with me, so I suppose I must," Logan says, this time with a wolfish smile wide enough to show sharper canines, case pocketed away again before he's searching for a lighter. He takes his time, cupping and nursing the flame he flicks out of it against the cigarette until paper and leaves curl up in embers. That done, he breathes steam and smoke out of his nostrils, shutting his eyes against the cold and the feeling of smoke unfurling in his lungs, relaxing him.

Silent as a crewmember lumbers past, teeth set against the cigarette filter, before he squares a look back on Caliban. "You might read about it in the papers soon, though I hope not. Drug runners in Jersey are targetted by some unaffiliated group of vigilantes. If I have it my way, they'll be smart enough not to get anything on us — future relations and all that — but I suppose I'm giving you a heads up, if they do, that you'll have more work on your desk soon."

He blows out a stream of smoke, offers another smile, insincere. "Sorry. But at least we got a profit."

"It's not the paperwork that I'm worried about," Caliban says, wrinkling his nose. His train of thought has begun to stray, although not far. "You ought to consider settling down, John. Starting a family. You've got your pick of women at that little club of yours in Brooklyn." If he's joking, he's doing it with a very straight face. "A wife and child make a man like yourself look more respectable, and you've only got another three years before people start expecting it of you.

"Linderman doesn't plan on letting you run Burlesque forever, you know." He rises from his bent position, straightening his back with an audible pop somewhere near the base of his spine, and rolls the excess tension from his shoulders in a slow shrug. "Appearances are everything in this business. The upper echelons of New York City's high society are a modern day le bon ton, so don't be surprised if your next promotion hinges on it. And between you and I — you do have one coming."

Cigarette firmly clamped between teeth, Logan moves then to sit up on the railing, where an easy slip could have him falling back first into an icy envelope of stinking water that would freeze muscles too cold to swim in any direction. His ankles hook firmly, long legs set and focused, one hand still clinging. "Right," is his doubtful— to all of it— response, green eyes narrowing at the older man to detect any visible indication of a joke in his face. "And since when has it ever been my job to be respectable?"

At this, Caliban lifts both his blond brows at the younger man standing across from him. His ring finger is bare and the few times that Logan has had the displeasure of visiting him at his private apartment, he's never sniffed so much as a whiff of a woman's perfume. Still, his face is stony and serious, mouth pressed into a thin, unimpressed line. He's probably quite good at poker.

"How long do you think it's going to be until Linderman decides that your ability would be useful elsewhere?" he asks. "London, Beijing, Paris — Las Vegas and New York aren't the only two cities in the world that the group has investments in. If he decides that he wants someone smart and polished to manage one of our satellite businesses overseas when an appropriate position opens up, who do you think he's going to choose? The man who handles his paperwork, or the one who is inherently persuasive?"

There's a blink in there, but uncertainty or doubt or anything at all is whisked away when Logan lifts his chin and goes back to watching the approach of Red Hook's harbor. By the time he's lifting a shoulder in a shrug, wind flapping woolen lapels noisily against his chest, Logan has a quirk of a smile for the other man and a quick lift of his eyebrows. "Well, when Danny Linderman says, 'jump', one does tend to say, 'how high'. But I think New York has plenty for me to do, and besides— "

An abrupt, almost coy smile, facetious words following; "Who would keep an eye on you while I'm gallivanting around Beijing?"

"I've been looking after myself longer than you've been alive, pup." It comes out more condescending than Caliban intends, but he doesn't immediately apologize for the harshness of his tone either. He blows out a ring of smoke and makes a vague gesture with his hand, cigar trailing embers. There's that foghorn again, bleating its low, plaintive warning. "Give it some thought," he says. "You don't have to decide now, but I want you to be prepared for the possibility. Same as you're prepared for this deal with Rusk to turn sour."

If Logan can dish it, he should also be able to take it. As it happens, Caliban's response gets a somewhat chilled look, and restlessly, he seeks the deck with his feet again, careful not to slip once he hops that small way off the railing. "Thanks, dad," is sneered out. "Always looking out for me, you are." Shoulder connecting brusquely with Caliban's, Logan passes him by with a haze of cologne and cigarette smoke both stale and fresh when he makes for another corner of the little ship to loiter around.

Men are for challenging, women for fucking, and sometimes there's a Venn diagram-like amount of crossover. If he takes Caliban's advice as anything that isn't a certain amount of posturing, it doesn't show.

The shoulder bump draws a short grunt from Caliban but that is all. He keeps a secure hold on his cigar, removing it from his mouth, and turns to place both his elbows on the rail as he watches Logan go with his back facing the water. Wind tugs at hair and clothes, reddens the tips of noses and ears and generally makes being above deck unpleasant for anyone who isn't dressed for the weather.

Fortunately, they are. Unfortunately, this doesn't make them exempt from discomforts of other kinds. It isn't until Logan is out of earshot that Caliban lets out the breath he'd been holding, shoulders sagging, and tips his gaze to darkened sky above.

No stars visible — only the implicit promise of another dreary gray morning ahead of them.

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