Shot In The Dark


logan_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Shot In The Dark
Synopsis Richard Ray seeks an obscure quest item from the last person he expected.
Date February 21, 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.

There was a time that when Richard walked into a place like this, he'd be coming in at night or after hours, either with a fold of bills to lose at poker or a satchel of stolen goods that would end up on the shelves.

Those times are long gone, but it seems that he can't escape places like this after all.

He's certainly looking more clean cut these days, although there's no tie to go with the suit and those aren't really business shoes under the cuffs of his pants. They're black, at least, that's something. A leopard might be able to change his spots, but they're always spots.

The door swings shut behind him with a low creak, hands clasped at the small of his back as he walks in - craning his neck a bit as he looks over the shelves, searching for any signs of a media technologies section that he could poke through for the unlikely device he's come in search of.

Unaware of just whose den he's been directed to by his receptionist.

Christ but this place is boring is one of those occasional niggles at the back of John's mind on the slower days, as if to look around and not see any half-naked women or human suffering is the very definition of tedious drudgery. But then he might remember that, more frequently than you'd imagine, that shit got boring too sometimes, and between poker games and weekly journeys to a more dangerous Staten Island than before, there's truly no better place than this to dispel the latest hangover.

Worse still, he also happens to enjoy this work. God forbid anyone catch on.

But he's hit a lull by the time the sound of the door opening catches his attention, idly flicking through an age-spotted deck of playing cards and thinking to himself Christ but this place is boring. As hungry for company as he is coaxing whatever stranger into definitely wanting to buy that tea set they're loitering over, Logan eases to his feet from behind his desk. Pinstripe and ironed shirt and pocket watch chain, he is terminally overdressed, but in less peacock colours than he favoured years earlier. (At least today.)

He will regret two things. That he ever didn't appreciate how boring this place could be, and that he's left behind his firearm in the drawer of his desk. But not yet, because recognition will dawn only after he's drawn attention to himself with, "Buying or selling?"

Richard is, after all, dressed a cut above what Logan associated him with. And he's not visibly bleeding, either.

"Buying," is Richard's casual response, his head turning towards the proprietor as he starts to form a sentence explaining what it is he's looking for. It never really gets past the formative stages before the features of the man that's standing behind the desk find a match in an old memory.

It was a similar question that he was being asked, in that particular memory.

"Name. Purpose. Start where you will."

He realizes that he's been staring for about ten seconds at the other man, then, his heart's rate slowly rising as adrenaline drips into his bloodstream. His jaw tenses, and then slowly relaxes as he forces it to, forces his voice into steady calm that he hopes hides the anger and the fear stirring beneath the surface.

"John. Been awhile."

Heart rate goes up. Spike of adrenaline warm in Richard's blood. If Logan had to make a guess, based off the preliminary biochemical readings he is picking up like radar, Richard Cardinal is experiencing something like surprise. At the very least.

Because Logan's feeling something very similar.

In the interim ten seconds, Logan makes the first move, and the first move is silent. Unfelt, Richard's ability is suddenly stifled with Logan's, an instinctive locking on like a lion's jaw clamping to suffocate. There's no tactics in it, but it's the best thing he can think to do, given his current hand, and the only indication the other man will get is the tell-tale (and familiar, even all these years on) green glow in Logan's eyes. In the same way poisonous things in the wild tend to be the most ostentatious.

"Dick," is greeting in return, attempting his own recovery. His focus is too fixed, his posture too ready. "A very long time. Figured the next time we had a run in, it'd be somewhere around the seventh circle."

You know. Of hell.

Those biochemical jaws lock down, but whether or not John Logan can tell, the parts of Richard that used to control his power simply aren't active anymore. There's nothing there for his old enemy to suppress, a maimed limb that no prosthetic from his brother's workshop can replace.

Hazel eyes meet those of poisonous green, holding them for a long moment.

"Still time for that," he observes too casually, muscles tightening in readiness, similarly prepared for sudden movements, "Nobody lives forever, after all."

There's probably a gun on him somewhere, or a knife. If they were on Staten Island, back in the day, he'd probably be going for it right now to prove the point he's just made, for one of them at least. Which one would be a good question. He doesn't reach for his jacket, though, or the back of his pants- he simply looks back at the man for another moment like a man regards a free tiger before making perhaps the most surprising follow-up statement he could.

"I'm looking for a Sony U-Matic VTR."

If there's any indication that Logan realises he's suppressing nothing— well, that strange glow to his eyes doesn't cease, so it's unlikely. At the very least, if he's doing that, he can't be doing much else. Thinking, though, about the firearm in his desk drawer, considering the likelihood that the process of unlocking and opening it would probably require him to—


His head tips at that question, completely not parsing it for a solid few seconds. It won't be long now — hardly a minute longer — and then they'll be at that time in their first conversation when Logan was forcing a blade between Cardinal's ribs. But he's asking him if he carries outmoded videocassette hardware in his antique parlor.

Then, he grins. Knife-quick and ivory, up to the canines. It's not disingenuous. Something of a replacement for laughing. "And are you certain that's what you want to leave with?"

There's a twitch of Richard's lips at one corner that's half-smile, half-sneer at the question as if he's trying to smile and be polite but not quite succeeding. "I think we both know that we don't always get what we want, John," he replies flatly to that, "Don't you agree?"

A curt tip of his head, "What I'll settle for is the particular merchandise I'm looking for, and then quickly forgetting that this entire conversation ever occurred." Probably with vodka.


Logan turns his back, then, even if to do so invites a slight prickle of reflexive wariness down the back of his neck, but he schools out any sign of hesitation from his posture. Behind him, a set of leather-bound accounting ledgers are scanned with his fingertips. "Here I thought we might catch up, you and I, over a mid-morning brandy. Compare how we survived the past decade, and who hasn't." He extracts one of the thicker, less used books, turning back to the desk, and dropping it with a neat thud. His eyes have dimmed down to something more ordinary.

"Bury the hatchet," he adds. Borderline coy. He flips open the cover, and his fastidious rifling through pages doesn't seem entirely like he's just fucking with Cardinal. Maybe 5%.

It's not an entirely unfair wariness, as a good look at Logan's back does stir certain pointed ideas in Richard's head that probably wouldn't be good for the insurance values of the building if put into action. They remain just that, though, ideas, as he brings a hand up to rub between his eyes with thumb and forefinger-knuckle.

"There's only so much blood that brandy can dilute, John," he replies dryly, "Pretty sure we passed that point a long time ago. It'd make for a sorry mid-morning cocktail."

Way too salty. Too much bitterness. It'd never be in a featured buzzfeed article entitled The Ten Best Drinks in the Safe Zone That You've Never Heard Of.

"Namely yours?" Ivory pages flutter by, plastic sheaths with printed inventory in tiny font, pencil marked, pen marked. Everything accounted for, down to the last porcelain cat. "Very well, Richard," because John can do first names too.

Arriving at the relevant page, it takes him a moment to scan what looks from this angle to be a relatively underused section of items, and eventually— "Believe it or not, it might work out to be a good day for the pair of us after all. I thought I remembered it, is how ugly it is. Says it's the latest of its kind — by which that means, late 80s — and is 'backwards compatible with earlier formats'. Tested for powering on.

"$200 asking price." He looks back up at Richard, and, droll, "I think we owe it to ourselves not to fuck around with haggling, don't you?"

"Not only mine." Richard's hand drops back down to his side, his thumb curling into one of his belt-loops as he waits for the other man to finish his careful search through the catalog that he's browsing. He's calmer, now, his heartbeat only slightly elevated, that well of anger held carefully lidded in the depth of his gut.

There's a flicker of surprise when he's told that the shop actually has what he's looking for. It was a long shot, after all.

"Well, I'll be damned," he allows, fingers rubbing at the nape of his neck for a moment. He nods then, chin dipping slightly, "Two hundred it is. I assume you take cash?"

Of course he takes cash.

It doesn't take Logan too long to locate the item — Richard permitted to wait, and maybe think about his life and choices — but long enough that it was clearly stashed away out of sight. When he returns, there's a streak of dust on his sleeve, and in his hands is a weighty piece of equipment — off-white plastic, numerous dials and buttons and switches, as large as two VCR's stacked atop one another. He sets it down with a look of distaste, more or less glad to be rid of it.

"The fuck do you want with it, anyway," he says, which, despite cuss words for emphasis, doesn't sound so much hostile as he does baffled. "Rather certain the porn industry must have seen these phased out."

He places his hand on top of the item, giving it a drum of his fingers. "I can have this delivered, if you'd like to leave an address." It sounds perfectly innocuous an offer, if a little like they're play-acting at civility, a curl of amusement present at the corner of Logan's mouth now that he's not making faces at ugly pieces of outmoded industry equipment.

So many life choices are considered as Richard waits. The foremost of them probably being 'listening to his receptionist's suggestion of coming here'. On the one hand, improbably enough the store actually does seem to have the contraption he's been looking for.

On the other hand, John Logan.

As it's produced, he gives it a rather dubious look. It definitely gives off that 'late 70s home electronics chic' feel, that's for sure. "Old family movies," he deadpans, a hand sliding into his jacket to produce his wallet. Not a gun. In case anyone was worried about that.

The gun's on the other side.

The leather fold's opened up, and he pulls out two crisp hundred dollar bills. There's more in there. He offers them out, a brow raising slightly as he answers, "Pretty sure I can carry it out. Thanks for your concern for an old man's back."

Oh, Logan notices things like money, and his only regret coming out of this one is that he didn't demand double just to see what happens. It's more a look of lingering, borderline amused curiousity rather than hunger, and he takes the two crisp bills with a raised eyebrow. Okay, Mr Moneybags.

"Of course," he says. The hand resting on the VTR angles against it and pushes it along the leather inset of his desk. Enjoy. "No refunds."

Ka-ching. He opens his register by turning its crank, and slips the notes inside. There's a vague glimmer of gold within, shinier than the dull collection of pennies and coins you'd expect, but the tray is slid closed just as fast. By the time Richard is taking the machine for himself, he'll know a warm feeling of— well, it's really a matter of how his mind might interpret the flush of serotonin. Like perhaps he made a good decision. Like he came to the right place.

Like John Logan isn't so bad after all.

It could also sit uncomfortably in his system, like biting into something too sweet for one's taste. It's only an idle winding up as Logan handles the money and writes out a receipt, darting a brighter-eyed look over at the other man. "Wonderful to see you again," he says, flatly, tearing paper, offering it over. "Don't ever come back."

As if there aren't enough conflicting feelings going on right now? Venomous hatred, frustration, relief at finding one of these ancient machines… and now that rush of serotonin, more drops of color in the biochemical alchemy that decides his current mood.

The receipt's accepted, slipped away into a pocket, and then he's reaching out to take the bulky thing into his arms; hauling it up from the counter with a brief grunt of effort. He's been spending too much time at a desk lately.

"And it's been a joy to see you too, John," he replies cheerfully, turning to haul the VTR towards the door, "Not planning on it."

It was a good decision. He got the machine he was after, after all, and much faster than he'd anticipated. He won't have to yell at Sera after all.

As Richard Cardinal — whatever he goes by now — takes his leave, door swinging heavily behind him, Logan sets about pouring a small dose of aforementioned brandy in a nearby glass. Idly thinks about the cameras installed in the corners of his current kingdom, and idly things about what questions remained unanswered.

He picks up his drink, gestures in a bit of a silent cheers, and polishes it off in one swallow. Outside, overactive neurotransmitters in Richard's brain stop fucking around, and the slow rise to giddiness tapers off into chill.

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