People Die in the Snow


logan_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif tania_icon.gif

Scene Title People Die in the Snow
Synopsis Tania winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time — or exactly the right one.
Date November 22, 2010

Staten Island: Reclaimed Zone

New York City is not the place a young, impressionable girl should really be walking alone at night. And while the stronger presence of authority lately might make some people feel safer, for others, it's just another type of attention to avoid. And Tania is trying to avoid just about every type of attention, wrapped as she is in an oversized coat that does nothing to help her slender, delicate self look anything but.

But frankly… she wants to go home. Or at least, to the place she's been calling home lately. She knows it isn't a place that's going to have any news about how her brother fared over the eighth, but at least it's familiar. Comforting, in its own way. So her feet fall in a steady, but slow pace along the side of a dark road, just taking it a step at a time.

She really underestimated how long a walk this would be.

Snow and gravel crunch under Katya— Tania's shoes, and if it was later in the winter it would clump in her socks and gather on the bottom of her coat, weighing her down, but the drifts are not yet that high and the breeze whipping through her red-gold hair is more bothersome than what's on the ground, even if she's at high risk of slipping.

In the distance, a pair of headlights blink into being as something rounds the corner up ahead, accompanied by the low rumble of an engine and tires crackling over the icy pavement. It belongs to an approaching truck, and while she might intend to avoid attracting attention, the beams cut across her silhouette before she has the opportunity to react.

Tania is spending an inordinate amount of time watching her feet, her steps careful. Falling and hurting herself, that would be bad. And while the rumble of the truck makes her lift her head to look up, it's just in time for her to catch that light hitting her. She freezes at first, the proverbial deer in the literal headlights. It's only after a moment or two has passed that she thinks about trying to be less visible, and she takes herself and her careful steps off the road.

In the ditch on the side of the road, the snow is deeper, although not by very much. It comes up to her ankles, making it more difficult for her to lift up her feet again after she puts them down, but not impossible. The barbed wire fence that separates the ditch and the road from the sparse forest on the other side, should she choose to try going under or over it, proves the greater obstacle, and she risks snagging her hair or clothes on its gnarled points.

The approaching truck slows, then grinds to a halt, sending pieces of gravel tinkling harmlessly into the ditch after the girl. "Hey," says a voice, not unkind, "you there."

It seems Tania is not a fan of trying to scale barbed wire, as she just sort of looks at it, her expression bordering on the pitiful, as if she could move it into being less pokey. But she does linger next to it as she tries to make her way along. Much slower now. The good news is that she has been able to keep up with her medicine, but still when that voice calls out to her, there's a bit of a worried whimper before it sinks in that it isn't exactly a cruel voice. So she pauses and turns to look up. "Yes?" She still sounds scared, though. Or perhaps she's just cold.

The door to the vehicle pops open, and in the illumination provided by the headlights, Tania can see that the speaker is dressed in olive-toned fatigues — a soldier, and this close to the island's Reclaimed Zone this is perhaps not surprising.

"I'm not gonna bite. You got any I.D. on you?"

"Ah. This is just what someone with fang would say, yes?" Tania asks, her tone and that little, timid smile probably meaning she's trying to joke. But she nods and starts to come back up out of the ditch to pull out her papers. Of course, these are the ones that ID her as Katya Leshcheva. But she hands them over, a little nervous, since she's never actually had someone official have to look them over before.

The soldier is climbing out of the truck— young man, white, tall— and headed for her, his clear eyes taking in her features with a mild reflection of surprise, but he doesn't speak — just takes her ID to scan it over in a cursory kind of way. "That's quite a name," is the most he can say about it, taking a step back and then offering out a hand to help her fully back onto the road — offering, but more or less taking her by the arm and helping her onto solid ground whether she's interested in being polite or not.

"It's dangerous out this way, lady— Katya. You alone or what? Hey!" That last hey is for whoever's in the truck to come out too, barking louder than his otherwise quiet queries.

"Leshcheva? Is like… Smith," Tania offers with a slightly uneasy smile this time. But she's trying not to appear nervous, she's just not all that good at it. she does take that offer, though, especially seeing as how he gives her very little choice in the matter. "Ah… I am just going to meet… my uncle. He is expecting me."

From the other side of the truck, another soldier emerges, a little taller and leaner than the first but there are similarities in the shapes of their faces, enough that they could be brothers— or cousins. Or maybe it's just a trick of the light. Everything looks the same after dusk. Even the trees are difficult to distinguish from one another.

"You need a ride?" the second soldier says, coming around the front of the vehicle which he has chosen to leave idling even though there's no one left inside it. Cocky or complacent — one of the two.

Americans. They all look alike! Tania looks between the two, but shakes her head at the question. "Thank you, but I can manage. All the snow, it is very beautiful," she says, her smile gentle and reassuring as she lifts a hand to wave and starts stepping away to get back on the trek home.

"People die in the snow. Don't be stupid."

Her path is cut off by 6'3" worth of American military, boots sinking into the stuff he warns her against — it's too mild, this early in winter that it's not even winter, for his point to be very valid. And she's from Russia. Then again, she wasn't here for the snow, the blizzards that consumed half the year and the city, so maybe—

His smile is abruptly, friendly, but the hand at her back is forceful. "Don't be shy, we'll get you where you need to be."

"You'd think she'd show a little more gratitude," his companion remarks, in that tone people sometimes take when they choose to talk about someone else as if they aren't already standing in the room. "Where's this uncle of your live at, honey? It can't be that far of a drive. Not if you're walkin'."

"I think I would like to walk, thank you," Tania tries to say again, a little more forceful. "It is… kind of you both to offer, but I can make it there on my own." She tries to continue to sound polite, regardless of how close this is getting to those cautionary made-for-TV movies. She moves away from the hand at her back and strides away faster. It's still a walk, but it's a power walk.

And that hand goes to grip her arm before she can properly claim her stride, and with a sharp enough yank— too sharp, for authority figures that care about your protection— the soldier pulls her back, near swings her into the chest of his companion. "We're not offering, lady. You're too close to government claimed ground." There's an ironic lilt in his voice, like that's only half the reason for being so insistent.

The other soldier clamps a hand down on Tania's hip when she's swung into him. He's so preoccupied with craning his neck, trying to get a better look at her face in the dark that he does not hear the sound of metal sliding smoothly against leather. If he did, he would associate with the action of a knife being drawn from its sheath and would shift his attention from the girl to the pair of silhouettes visible through the truck's windows, or the feet visible below: one in plain but expensive black boots, slightly pointed toe, ankle zipped, the other in something bulkier, scuffed, but made of a related material.

Tania yelps as she's grabbed and tossed into the other soldier, and her panic shoots from a mild tremor to an out and out quake in that small moment. She tries to pull away from both the hand on her arm and the on her hip as tears start to roll down her cheeks. "Please, let me go!" She's not even trying to make that sound like anything but a shriek just now. Whatever calm she was holding onto before, it's disappeared now.

"Calm down, jeeze. Who do you think we are, huh?" Aggressive, again, the soldier is, too, preoccupied with the woman he and his friend are bracketing between them with height and reach.

A different exchange of metal and leather — less the sliding of a blade, more the jerking out of a gun from its holster. Logan doesn't do close combat very often — or any combat, really, no where near to the same effectiveness as the man he stands by. His back leans against closed door of the truck, mouth twisting at the tearful shriek of the woman on the other side. His eyes gleam palely in low light as he glances towards the other man. The raise of a shaped eyebrow communicates only one thing.

After you.

Sasha's hand connects with the hood of the truck with a bang loud enough to be mistaken for a gunshot at a distance. He launches himself over it in a fluid motion, water hurled from a bucket in slow motion, and connects the lead soldier with enough force to slam them both into the fence post at the bottom of the ditch. Snow drops off the wire, lands in wet clumps, and in the darkness there's a noise that sounds like it shouldn't be human, which Sasha cuts abruptly short with a slice of his wrist.

A moment later, he rises from his crouch, pauses to wipe off his knife on the inside of his pant leg and then turns his head, looking back over his shoulder at the remaining soldier, who has forcibly shoved Tania down to her knees, either to protect her, or to get her out of his way.

There's a sidearm in his hand. He raises it.

Tania is not one who experiences anger very often. Sorrow, yes. Upset, sure. Disappointment? Oh yes. But anger is very rare. And it tends to lead to her saying things she's going to regret quite soon after. And her brother seems to be there whenever it happens.

But this time, it's not directed at him, but at these two soldiers as it's made clear her smaller and far weaker form isn't getting her out of this. When all you have to fight back with is words, well… Then that's what you fight back with. "I think you are bullies and scoundrels and that you are both cowards!" Oh that Russian accent is thick and loud by the end there.

But for all her sound and fury, that bang is enough to get another scream out of her, and she does really argue being shoved down. But she's also not sitting there next to him, but rather tries to slide under their truck. Maybe she thinks that will be better protection.

Logan is turning— twirling, really, for all that he has no audience— to point his weapon past the back end of military truck, squinting to make sure the figure he's aiming at isn't Sasha. That it only takes half a second to decide is either worrisome, or not. His pistol kicks in his hands, muzzle fire flaring, and he sends the second soldier pirouetting too as bullet clips messily along the side of throat and jaw.

Not dead, though, choking sounds from the felled man, although Logan is stepping back uneasily. "Where'd she go?"

Sasha hauls himself out of the ditch. He has a few guesses as to where Tania went, and indicates the underside of the truck to Logan with a sharp jerk of his head as he crosses to the soldier bleeding out on the pavement, grabs a fistful of his hair in his hand and crouches beside him.

The angle of his back shields Tania from the moment of execution, throat slit with the same efficiency that ended his companion back in the ditch, and although he turns his head enough to glimpse his sister's cowering shadow behind the truck's front tire in his peripheral vision, he flicks his gaze away again just as quickly, pushing back to his feet.

It's a good thing, too, because that soldier is just where Tania was staring. But when she view is blocked, she covers her face with dirtied hands. And it seems, although Logan's voice is one she knows, she is not getting out from under that truck just yet. She may need a moment, is all.

Oh. Logan takes a few more steps back, and out the corner of Tania's eye, she'll see the cattish pacing of fine boots along the road alongside the vehicle, before the twist to position him to crouch down. The click of a pistol as it's laid flat on the road— pointing away from her— with his hand splayed over it to balance himself. His right leg doesn't bend as easy as the the left, at an awkward angle. He makes a face at the stink of petrol, and doesn't do much to really try and peer for her. A silver thumb ring glimmers where it wraps around a knuckle.

"You bleeding?"

Sasha makes a noise at the back of his throat that communicates: She'd better not be. Using the toe of his boot to roll the dead soldier onto his side, he glances over at the truck's side mirror, then adjusts it between his fingers to get a look at the road stretching out into the nothing behind them, eyes narrowed and in search of another set of headlights about to round the corner.

There are none. His hand drops to finish cleaning his knife.

"Mister Logan?" Maybe it's the boots. Or the ring. But when that figure crouches down some, Tania lets out a relieved sigh. "I… no, I am not. They were just very… pushy…" It's the polite way she'll put it. But she moves to slide out from under the truck, pulling herself shakily up to her feet. She's quite disheveled by now, between walking in the snow, thrashing around and crawling all over the ground. And the tear streaks down her cheeks.

And she's dizzy, apparently as she stumbles and has to catch herself on the side of the truck, opting then to lean against it. This was, of course, her plan all along. "Thank you… I do not… know how you found me here… but thank you." Her lips press together there, while she tries to fight off the tears starting up again.

She's a little slow to notice the other body there, but when she looks Sasha's way, she goes quiet, and looks a little sheepish on top of — or rather, under the dirt and muss. It's not a reunion with shouting and jumping around, but not for lack of joy at seeing him. But instead, she simply just isn't sure what to say, for all the dwelling she's done on this moment.

"I wouldn't thank me." Opening up his coat, an elegant, woolen thing of black, hem as far as his knees, collar heavy, Logan tucks the pistol within the holster that disguises it from view. Pale eyes take in details in swooping stairs; tear streaked face, sudden silence, unsure if the uneasiness he's seeing is fear or something more complex and outside of his cope. He sniffs, less emotion, more the fact that winter brings about infection and cold, although his nose isn't red, nor does he seem unhealthy.

She's not bleeding, not even bruised, so he turns his back and paces away a little, keeping Sasha in his periphery as a hand delves for his cigarette case. Doesn't get it out let alone light up, but it's a comfort on its own. Cold wind ruffles blonde curls, has him squint.

Tania is quiet. Sasha is quiet. The difference between the two siblings — sex, height and age excepted — hinges on the latter's inability to look directly at the former. He takes in the shape of her hands, her feet, long legs — so much less gangly than he remembers — and then the curve of her back and shoulders. The temptation to look up past her collarbone is palpable, but he resists.

The toe of his boot scuffs against the pavement, and he hammers his knife back into its sheath with the heel of his hand. "We will need a new place for her," he tells Logan, his tone quiet, cautious, maybe even a little timid, as if the sound of his own voice frightened him. "Do you have a room at the Corinthian?"

That silence lingers on, although the girl does try to brush her clothes clean. It's a bit of a hopeless case, though. It's when her brother speaks that she actually moves; unsteady feet taking her over to slide her arms around him in what is unmistakably a hug. And she smiles, too. Just a little, soft expression, but definitely there.

"You have gotten so old," the young girl says lightly. Playfully, even. Her words are an odd choice for an apology, but it is there in her tone all the same.

Clasping his cigarette case in hand, hidden in pocket, Logan turns enough to watch the understated reunion. The slope of his shoulders communicates something uncomfortable, vaguely, pacing around the military truck before redirecting his attention towards the two dead bodies that Sasha cleaned his knife with. "I have a room at the Corinthian for now," Logan states, with a very lazy emphasis on those last two words. His chin tips up. "But I wouldn't count on it for the long term."

Have they had that conversation yet? About the things Logan has, doesn't have? Probably not enough.

"How long's it gonna take for them to dial in and send some boys out to look?"

Sasha's arms are stiff at his sides, at first. He tucks in his chin, looking down at the top of Tania's head and focusing on her hair rather than her face. If he concentrates hard enough, maybe he can determine whether or not it's gotten lighter or darker in the years he's been away—

Her words have him exhaling, a hitch in his breath, and finally, tentatively he places his hands on her shoulders before they ease down and find the small of her back. He does not crush her to him, or even squeeze, for fear that she might break. "Little," he bites out gruffly in response to Logan's question. "The truck— I would take it. The bodies also. Only to get where we are going. It is faster."

When Tania pulls away, she looks toward her feet, standing flat on one while the other tips to balance on the edge of her shoe instead. And hand stays attached to Sasha's sleeve, to steady herself, but possibly for more sentimental reasons, too.

"Where are we going?" The matter of bodies and trucks, that she leaves to them. "I am… to hide away again?"

Something about Logan's silence communicates that he thinks this is a stupid idea. But his silence also communicates that he's inclined to trust Sasha's better instincts. "If I get arrested, there'll be hell to pay, big boy. And I'm not doing heavy lifting." He just got his nails done, maybe, or his coat is too nice to get blood on it — a fair puddle of deep red has already pumped out from both torn throats. Not that that ever stopped Logan before

"You have a better idea?" That's directly to Tania, this time, delivered flat and cold. "I don't dictate your future, sweetheart. Or your present. The game's changed since we all last sat down together." A look to Sasha, a nod. Some sort of shift of custody.

Sasha gently steers Tania toward the truck, popping open the rear side door so she can climb inside where it's warmer, dryer. "John Logan— he is a friend," he tells his sister, helping her into the vehicle. "A good friend." And friend is not a word her brother usually uses unless he's being facetious. Right now, his voice is so sharp she could prick her finger on it.

That is to say: he isn't. His strides carry him to the closest corpse, which he lifts with ease, dragging one limp arm across the back of his neck to haul it upright, then slump it carelessly into the back of the vehicle. "Will you sit with her?" he asks Logan, even if he isn't looking at the other man when he addresses him. He's too busy folding up the body like a dress shirt. "We should not fear arrest."

Execution, instead.

"No, I just… am curious," Tania says quietly, timidly. Not knowing much about the game in the first place, she doesn't have a reply for his later words, just a worried sort of look toward Sasha.

Her eyebrows lift at her brother's words, just a little. But she gives him a nod, seeming to pick up on the meaning. She doesn't even argue about being put in the truck, she just gets in and examines her sneakers, her hands pressing against the seat next to her legs.

For a few seconds too long, Logan watches the loading of the bodies. It was maybe two years ago, that he'd helped Jack Discreetly shoulder the bitten, bruised corpses of a monster's feasting into a truck, shittier than this one, driving it through a wintery Staten Island. It's amazing, how the more things change—

Another sniff, and he's moving. "Not arrest," he agrees, dry as bone, before he's levering himself into the truck and bringing the rear door shut along with him. Any traces of cologne and smoke have been diluted in a hard, snowy journey through Staten Island, but still there, especially within the more cramped confines of the truck's cab.

When Sasha retrieves the second body from the ditch and dumps it into the back of the truck, the vehicle rocks under the sudden addition — easily one hundred and sixty-odd pounds of extra weight. He digs out a wool blanket from a mesh net attached to the roof on the inside, glances almost haphazardly between the corpses to the living, breathing couple in the seats ahead.

The logical thing to do would be to toss it across the soldiers to cover them, but Sasha is a creature of emotion rather than reason, and it isn't long before he's moving around the side of the truck to thrust the blanket inside at Logan and Tania through the open window. That he does not warn Logan against trying anything underneath it while he pops the driver's side door and settles in behind the wheel speaks of the trust he has for the other man.

Or maybe he just doesn't believe him that bold.

Tania doesn't look up until that blanket is thrust at them, and shaky hands reach for enough to tuck over her lap. Which is to say there's a lot left over. There is a glance over toward Logan, because, let's face it, he smells pretty. But her focus shifts back to her lap again pretty quickly. Don't mind the shaking from the girl. It's just the cold. And the sort of stressful night she's just had. And the Addisons. But she must really be used to it, as there isn't even a hint of a complaint from her.

Her profile gets more than just a glance — study, from Logan, as if trying to detect the source of the shivers. He doesn't go for the blanket, anyway, rejecting that comfort like a cat rejects a decent meal not to its liking, and contents himself with his own coat. Compulsion has his hand moving, a casual reaching out like he's going to take her by the nape of her neck and probably apply something warming in her chemical system, judging from the way his eyes begin to go green

And die out again around when he sees Sasha's shadow in the windows, that hand retracting to scritch innocent at the nape of his own neck, chin lifting.

The keys turn in the ignition, and Logan and Tania will feel the engine rumble to life within the truck. Blue eyes reflect in the rear view mirror, but their focus is on the road behind the vehicle rather than the pair in the back seat or where Logan's hand might be tempted to drift. A spark of static fizzes over the radio — no concern of Sasha's, for his fingers pinch the dial and snap it into the off position.

Hand over hand, he brings the wheel around, presses his foot down on the accelerator and guides the truck back onto the road with a shuddering bump when one of the back tires hits a rock, jolting both Logan and Tania in their seats. "What games do the Americans play in the car?" he asks Logan. "Eye-Spy?"

It's only when she's sure Logan isn't taking the rest that Tania pulls the rest of the blanket around herself, drowning in itchy, olive drab, military wool. She doesn't notice the change in his eyes, as it's the bump that brings her attention back up. The jerking around brings a grimace to her face that can be only described as pained, but still, the girl keeps it to herself otherwise.

She might have laughed at Sasha's suggestion otherwise, but tonight, it gets just a little half smile and she comments, "We are all so American, yes?"

"Keep your little eye on the road," is pithy advice from Logan, slouching deeper into his seat and letting his eyes half-close, a boot coming to rest on the back of the seat ahead of him, all lazy sprawl that belies his own tension. Tension still visible at the lines of his eyes and the way he turns his attention from the interior of the car to regard the passing world.

Helpfully, if backwards; "Starts with R."

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