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Scene Title Partnership
Synopsis After a night of drinking, Logan approaches Eileen with a more permanent offer of employment; Eileen proves she doesn't need her ability to make him bleed.
Date June 10, 2009

The Happy Dagger — Basement Tenements

She gave up banging her fists against the door around the time her knuckles began to grow raw, pink, and her voice hoarse. If Teodoro Laudani is anywhere within earshot, then he's either been ignobly ignoring all the accusations she's flung at him through the walls or he's been listening in fastidious silence, brow knit and strong mouth curved into the noncommittal expression Eileen associates with his face whenever she thinks of him.

She may never know. And anyway, that was several hours ago.

For now, she sits waiting with her back to the wall in the corner furthest from the door, legs drawn into her chest and her arms encircling her bare knees. The dress shirt hanging off her wiry frame is the same garment she wore when Eloni summoned her from her quarters to tend to Cardinal the previous night, and while she's tried washing out the blood in the adjacent bathroom, all she's been able to succeed at is lightening the stains several shades from crimson red to carnation pink. This way, at least, they're less befitting of the man they came from, though blood is still blood; every glance she spares down is not only a reminder of what she did, but also of what Teo didn't do.

Betrayal hurts. She'll never wonder again why Gabriel stayed away.

The Dagger is a nocturnal creature, as are the beasts and beauties within it. It's around the time that johns are being ushered out the door, that women are unstrapping their highheels from around their ankles, that lights are beginning to be switched off and glasses are being wiped down and laundry is being gathered, that Eileen will hear foot steps coming down the hallway.

One difference to that familiar sound, along with the scrape of the door handle, is the fact a lock has to turn in between.

He's changed his clothing, dressed down for once, although for Logan such a concept is subjective. The button down shirt, cream coloured and a little unironed, is untucked from the shining leather pants he'd worn when she'd seen him previously. Unlike other times when he'd played the game of pretend privacy, Logan doesn't bother knocking. He looks sleepless as a businessman might at the end of a long day, ready to go home and celebrate dawn by being too asleep to see it.

John's also been drinking, which might explain the impulse to come down here now.

Give her a knife, give her a gun, give her anything she might be able to use against him and she'd be rising from the floor the moment she heard the lock begin to rotate. Unfortunately for Eileen, she has none of these things and settles instead on watching him stonily from where she's seated, too tired to clamber upwards without a good reason. Yesterday, Logan's arrival might have elicited such a response, coy and yielding; these days, if nothing else, Eileen is true to her word, but her word no longer means anything down here. Because just as she'd tersely reminded him last night—

"The deal's off," Eileen says, stiffening visibly as Logan steps into the room. She notes his rumpled state. Correctly attributes it to the powerful scent of alcohol wafting off his hair and clothes. "You've no more right to be here than he did. Get out."

Wine. White wine, there's been enough crimson liquid for them all to stomach, and it doesn't stain teeth. Acting more of a chaser to the expensive gin he'd been sharing with a woman who called herself Kitten, but he doesn't like to be drunk. So he isn't. Merry? That's a good word. He's not, but.


Eileen is curled up on the floor over there, and that's where his cat-bright eyes turn to look towards. His ability drowns her's as effortlessly as lifting a finger, and he takes a few meandering steps inwards in defiance of her order. This is his building. However, it's with agreement that he says, "The deal is off." He comes to stand in the center of the room, and draws his shoulders up in a shrug. There's a hint of gold thread traveling through the cream of his shirt. Maybe dressing down was a poor term. "So let's make a new one."

Eileen's gaze tracks Logan as he moves through the room, studious, silent. From a purely physical perspective, he's an attractive man who is probably used to women undressing him with their eyes — the look she's giving him right now is similar, if a little more predatory. Likely, she's disassembling her keeper instead, wrenching him apart limb by limb, piece by piece like one of those zoo animals you hear about on the evening news every so often. Tiger escapes, mauls man to death. Circus elephant goes on crushing rampage. Chimpanzee bites off owner's face, genitals.

"You'd renege on it, too." That's a no. She shifts slightly, body moving beneath the cotton fabric of her dress shirt with smooth, feline fluidity as one hand comes to rest upon the wall behind her, bracing for an attack that has yet to come… or preparing for one she's about to launch herself. "This is no way to do business, John. I'm surprised you haven't been burned to the ground."

In contrast, his posture is slack and loose, gawkier than his usual feline grace and stance, although the subtle lift of a chin, the narrowing of bright eyes, add back to his usual preferred regal demeanor. "Renege. Fancy word. It implies we had some sort of contractual agreement. Promises. As far as I understand it, we were fucking, that's hardly a partnership written in blood. You used me to get yourself healthier and I— "

The crooked smile, the one that shows teeth, punctuates his trailed off sentence and is too young for him. "Hardly need to spell it out for you." The leather of pants and shoes creak subtly as Logan moves to crouch down in front of her - out of clawing range, maintaining some distance, but sharing levels. "I could offer you something better. Something with choices, money. Freedom."

This time Eileen says nothing, appearing unperturbed by the narrowing distance between them or the glow seeping out from his eyes to illuminate that same space in resplendent green. If Logan looks closely, however, he may also notice the muscles in her neck and shoulders start to tighten and her thighs bunch with unspent energy as if poised to suddenly uncoil and spring.

No, not a partnership written in blood. Sweat, maybe. Tears. Saliva. Her immediate response is to blow out a long sigh through her nostrils in an illicit concession. Choices, money and freedom are three things she'd very much like to have, though she could do without the second one if it came down to it. She has, after all, for a very long time.

Her chin lifts, accentuating the long slope of her neck, and she looks down her nose at him to give herself the illusion of several inches extra height. She's listening.

The bunching of muscles is met only with a glance towards her hands, as if maybe she too had fashioned a weapon out of metal and plastic and he might stagger out of this bleeding from his eye socket again. Or worse. He has a hand braced against the cold floor to steady himself, and allows some silence to fall, long enough for him to know she's doing that.

The listening. "Work for me," Logan says, simply. "Spend the rest of your time as you have been, using me to protect you from yourself. Only do it with a salary, and rather than bargain your soul off to me— do it for men like Richard Cardinal. The ones that fuck up in efforts to ruin me, and maybe even the ones that don't. Use that power you have, because I can't make it go away forever, and neither can you. Just this way…"

Luminescent gaze scales over her, then back up to her paler stare. "This way it won't have to eat you from the inside out. It's ugly work but— you've done it before." Whether he means on Cardinal or himself is up for debate, tone as dry as the gin he's been drinking.

Eileen has spent the past four years of her life surrounded by Kazimir Volken's weapons of war. Ethan Holden. Zhang Wu-Long. Daiyu Feng. Sylar. She doesn't know how she might have reacted then if someone had told her a few months ago that she'd be propositioned with a similar offer of employment. Laugh. Try to look as affronted as possible. Turn away.

She does none of these things. Instead, the corners of her mouth turn upwards into a small but rueful smile. Munin isn't a killing tool — Volken got that much right. Incidentally, neither is Eileen Ruskin. "You trust me not to turn on you and put a bullet in your head as soon as it becomes convenient?" she asks in a soft tone that's surprisingly complacent when compared to the underlying brutality of her words. Then, "How much?"

Her simple, brutal words get a halved-smile from Logan, despite the inherent, predatory nature of the way he's watching her, even steeped into his posture. He gives a light snort, drags a hand through mussed, gold-blonde hair. "A lot. Enough. Whatever you like. A pony," he says, tone caustic, although that might just be the alcohol. "Consider how much it takes to purchase you and we can strike a bargain of some kind."

His eyebrows go up, hand coming down in a loose gesture. "It's not about trust, not down here. Do you think I trust anyone? Do you think I trust Mr. Laudani?" he adds, a smirk curling his mouth. "Don't. Doesn't matter."

Asking Eileen to assign her life a price is as realistic as asking her to capture the moon and all the stars in a little glass jar, and yet she still leans forward in a singular undulating motion that passes from the top of her shoulders all the way through her spine before ending at the very tip of her tailbone. Rigidity melts away, replaced by movements more agreeable and languid, catlike in all the pleasurable ways that have nothing to do with sickle claws or pearly incisors so long you could spear birds and mice on them.

She does not come any closer than that. "You've been drinking," she murmurs, choosing to voice her opinion at a time that might seem slightly stranger if Logan was in a more sober state of being. "Does wine make it easier to think about what you might want to do with me?"

Logan's mouth parts for a moment as if perhaps he might protest this claim of drinking, but he can still feel it warm under his skin and making his limbs loose. His leg is hardly throbbing in this position. He's going to spend sunset with a hangover. So his teeth click a little when he shuts his mouth, and gives another soft snort of dismissive nonchalance.

"Wine makes a lot of things easier," he says, eyes hooding just a little over the glow of green. "Thinking about what I want to do with you is an exception. It does make me a little more forgiving, however. Generous. Do we have a deal?"

Forgiving and generous are two adjectives Logan might be able to apply to Eileen as well, but perhaps not today. She can smell the alcohol on him, as offensive to her nostrils as his presence is to every fiber of her being — she inhales deeply, breathing it in along with the other familiar scents that mix and mingle, coming together into the heady essence that represents the man crouched in front of her.

Wine does make things easier. "I've been thinking about what you might want to do with me, too," she says. Not a lie. "And about the things you've already done." Also not a lie. "Come here, John."

There's only a minor hesitation before Logan does— exactly as requested. It's a ritual, not a new one, and his fingernails scrape against the floor as his hand moves in tandem to slide closer without standing, knee meeting the floor as, just as feline as the woman in front of him, he obeys. Not silently, the shift of fabrics, cotton and leather, working together to create a subtle heralding of his movements. Three feet, two feet, one foot.

Whatever questions he has, he doesn't voice. He expects them to be answered in a language that doesn't require words.

The palms of Eileen's hands are cool and smooth to the touch as she reaches up to cup them around Logan's face and nestle her thumbs in the soft hollow beneath his chin. Her fingertips trace the curve of his jaw, then lift, angling his mouth toward hers until she can feel it brush against his nose and lips. Her breath, at least, is warm; carrying the faintest traces of cheap tobacco, sweet and fragrant, it curls across his skin and joins with his when she speaks.

There are words. They may or may not be required. "Did you make Teodoro the same offer?" she asks, and to punctuate her question, presumably buying him time to respond, she takes his bottom lip between her teeth and pulls it into a brief kiss. "Maybe I want whatever he's getting."

Nudged into closeness, and presumably kisses, Logan is mostly still save for her guiding hands, eyes shutting and cutting out the preternatural light that indicates her ability is nulled. Green means go. His hands move to touch and smooth up her thighs, towards her hips, her waist, over the bunched fabric of the dress shirt she has draped over her body, although he doesn't take control just yet.

Allowing for seduction. A whisper of a chuckle is shared between the soft, brief kiss, Logan's eyes opening for half a moment. "Laudani came to me," he says. "Made the offer himself. Practic'ly wrote the contract." Another kiss, aiming to distract, less gentle and coaxing, his fingers curling to dig into her waist a little stronger.

Rage flares white-hot in Eileen's belly. Laudani came to him. Made the offer himself. Practically wrote the contract. The tips of her fingers press into Logan's face, nails tearing at his skin and branding his cheeks with crescent-shaped marks that nip and sting. Her breathing his heavier now, laborious, weighed down by what sounds like lust growling in her throat but is in reality something much darker and more insidious.

Logan has countless paramours. Very few, Eileen suspects, have ever attempted to poison him. That he's willing to hold her in his arms and allow himself to be held after everything they've done to one another is a testament to something— she isn't sure what. Pride. Arrogance. Stupidity. Somewhere, there's an Aesop's Fable written just for them, but it doesn't matter; if either one of them had read it, they would have known better.

With Logan's lip still poised between her teeth, tongue gliding over the earlier injury she gifted him with the smack of her open palm, Eileen decides she's going to make him regret it and bites down. Hard.

The sting of nails isn't enough to deter him. He's felt it before, and responds only with a hitching groan of approval, a tug at her waist to pull her all the more closer, against him in a tangle in the floor. Then, there's a small, gruff sound of protest from the back of Logan's throat when she locates the aftermath of her slap, and that's almost a warning.

But not quite. Her teeth cut into soft skin and elicits a sharply broken, muffled cry from Logan, tasting blood— too much of it— it overrides the lingering taste of riesling and gin and more metaphorically, cuts through to sobriety. This was a bad idea.

Logan's hand comes up to grip around her throat, nothing unusual there, but the thumb that jabs with harsh, invasive sharpness beneath the soft underside of her jaw is designed to choke and hurt rather than flirt with the power of danger. His body surges in one only slightly panicked movement— to get away, to push against her, a bodily reaction without much thought.

The nerve endings in Eileen's neck and jaw are screaming at her to let go, let go, and eventually she does — but not before twisting her head in a sharp sideways motion designed to rip and tear as much as it is to free her throat of Logan's grasp. Her mouth comes away tasting of flesh and salt, blood pouring down her lips and chin, staining her teeth the same shade of pink as the ugly splotches on her shirt. Most of it is Logan's. Some of it is undoubtedly hers.

What was it he said about the fluids partnerships are written in?

Reeling, sputtering, coughing, Eileen drives her knee up into Logan's gut with all the force as her small body can muster, and it isn't much — she's hoping its enough to make him release her before the hand on her neck can cave in her windpipe any more than it already has.

The tearing twist releases blood, her inevitable freedom as Logan's hand loosens, and also a ragged scream from his throat. The driving shove of her knee into his stomach is barely required as his limbs work near independent of him to get away— he winds up almost sprawling back, a hand up to clap over his fast bleeding mouth. Warm, sticky crimson is quick to smear over his chin and down his throat, staining the overpriced fabric of his shirt and—

With a choking sound of disbelief and pain, he manages to get to his knees, his eyes a dull green, no longer shining brightly. He can't quite think to keep his power running, mind running rampant with internal monologue that cusses all over the place while he can't quite put it to words, even if he wanted it. He can feel his mouth— his hand— pooling with metallic tasting red.

It's probably a bad thing that these rooms down here have seen his blood as often as it has. But such is life.

Green glows bright again in the same moment it takes for him to glance her way once more, hateful hurt and betrayal— whether he has a right to it or not— almost as luminescent as the telltale warning signs of his power. With questionable balance, he starts to his feet— refusing to move the hand from his injury as he'd refused to do so when his eye had been pierced.

Blood and saliva dribble from the corners of Eileen's mouth and gather string-like at the point of her chin. If there's any consolation to be taken from her face, it's that she isn't relishing in this any more than he is. Her expression is pinched, eyes narrowed to drooping slits, and her nostrils are caked in gore; as she watches Logan retreat, they flare wide with the visible effort required to draw in breath and pull it past whatever else has found its way up into her nose.

Her shoulders convulse once in a violent spasm, followed by a racking heave of disgust that's blessedly dry. No vomit joins the blood spattered across the concrete floor or the front of her shirt, but such might not be the case for much longer; Eileen is doing battle with her gag reflex and losing ground at a rapid rate.

She issues the same hoarse warning she did when he first set foot in the room, this time in a sandpaper croak: "Get out."

Come here, get out. He obeys that one too. God, his mouth, the feeling of torn flesh against his teeth and raw, stinging spikes of pain— he didn't drink enough for this. A hand going out to make sure he won't stagger on his way to the door, Logan makes for it, leaving red smears and droplets in his wake.

One shaking hand takes care to turn the lock. He'll deal with her later.

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