Squaring Things


logan_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Squaring Things
Synopsis Sasha inquires about Logan's past history with Toru.
Date September 1, 2010

The Subway

It's the empty hour, the last train ride before they halt for the evening and leave citizens to scatter like roaches to make it home before a police car goes cruising by. The carriage is obnoxiously lit, an eerie effect of light saturation that brings up every one of the plentiful flaws of the New York City public transport system, in contrast to black windows with rushing detail that suggests speed when momentum is otherwise adjusted to. There are very few people here, which is very fortunate. Logan's been spending about five minutes with his shoulder against silver pole, concentrating on not—

Doing this. The gut-deep sounds of a long island ice tea and enough whiskey and cokes to fill a kettle coming up and then promptly down to meet the marked, foot scuffed floor of the train carriage are hitching and sickening over the whir of engine and train tracks. One hand gripping the pole and the other braced on his knee, and a mournful groan is what follows.

There is a sway that suggests the temptation to curl up, maybe die, but his grip on supports holds firm. A voice over the speakers announces the next stop.

There’s a hand at Logan’s back, between the shoulder blades, that thumps intermittently as if to encourage the ejection of offensive material from his gut. Sasha doubts that the train’s rocking movements are helping, but if he’s being honest with himself then he isn’t either. The other man’s hair isn’t long enough to slick it back and hold it out of his face, and he can see that his grip isn’t about to slip and put him in the puddle of vomit that he’s created for himself at his feet.

If he does, the Russian will be there to catch him before he falls. Or laugh. It’s 50/50, these days, and Sasha has had a little too much to drink himself, though he’s in no real danger of emptying the contents of his stomach — or his bladder, which sometimes happens when he gorges himself on cheap alcohol and passes out. This may be why he opts to stand instead of sit in one of the train’s seats, the upholstery reeking and stained, to rest his eyes for a few minutes, as much as he might want to.

“So,” he says, tone deceptively casual, “you said you would explain later. It is later now, yes?”

Another sound, more of a whine than a groan and speaks more of Sasha's query than this recent bout of sickness. Loathe as he might be to do this when sober— though it's not worse than puking on the train— Logan wipes the cuff of his jacket against his mouth, sniffs loudly and pitifully and works on standing straight again. An unsteady step to the left carries him away from the site, hands gripping the supports still and looking starkly pale in the unforgiving lights of the train.

"I'm very popular," he says, voice rough and accent settling firmly from the part of London he comes from, mouth twisting into the attempt of a smile, eyes heavy hooded. "Probably 'cause I'm so charming." Little chuckle, damp sounding, at his own joke.

A hand rises, wavers a little in the air before pale fingers blindly snag on the loop of leather from the ceiling, as if Logan were contemplating journeying further away, although for now he shuts his eyes to eliminate the swaying of the train from his focus.

“Yes,” Sasha agrees, and does not bother to try hiding the dubious note from his voice when he says it, “but this does not tell me anything.” He wrinkles his nose, nostrils flared, at the mess before turning his back to it, his large hands gripping the poles instead of the ceiling loops that Logan is clinging to. He prefers his arms out at his sides rather than up above his head — a matter of personal choice that is either a personality quirk or has something to do with the time he spent in Chechnya, ordering others to put up their hands.

Like many things about him, it’s impossible to be sure. A habitual glance out the train window yields nothing but an endless stretch of darkness. In some places, it’s broken up by streaks of light that fly past, but not here: this section of tunnel is blacker than the worn leather of his jacket or the scuffed combat boots on his feet for reasons that are a mystery to everyone except the people in charge over at the New York City Department of Transportation. “Did you know that he would be there?”

Eyes open, a slitted, lazy glare before closing off again, head rested against the inner of his elbow — Logan takes his time in responding. Mostly to make sure that when he opens his mouth, words will come out and not alcohol and bile both. It takes a little while, but finally, one arm drops down to hook a thumb in his pocket, gaze tracking from blurry black window to Sasha's strong features.

"No," he responds, with a kind of muted dullness. If he's lying, it's buried beneath his own misery, but even that is starting to edge aside with the engagement of conversation. "He's— "


Logan and self-consciousness is an awkward marriage, but does happen rarely, once or twice, brief glimmers like in the way his gaze rolls upwards towards the brightly lit ceiling, back away again. "He worked f'me back on Staten Island, 'round when everything fucked up. He stayed around when it did and I didn't have anything. Doesn't matter, it was just— my power, anyway. But he left.

"Then he came back just in the past week or whatever." Wha'ever.

“Matters.” Sasha’s argument is not particularly brusque or forceful — it’s more observation than complaint. “Or you would not have stopped me from making him into a jelly.” He lifts both his brows at Logan, as if debating whether or not to leave it there and give him another opportunity to respond. In the end, curiosity wins out over compassion — what little he has — and he orbits the Englishman, using the car’s structure to his advantage. As long as he stays close, he doesn’t have to risk freeing either of his hands. He’s sober enough that he isn’t toppling over, but if the train were to come to a stop, he wouldn’t be immune to losing his balance, and any chance of recovery he might have is hindered by the vomit on the floor.

Unless he wants to stumble, squeak his boots through it and go skidding into the seats or, worse, the electric doors, he’s going to keep a hold on something as long as the train is moving. At one point, that something is Logan’s shoulder, then his bicep. “Why is he back?”

Despite the slackness in Logan's posture, the implication that he's only keeping himself upright thanks to his grip above his head, there is tension beneath Sasha's fingertips when he grips at his arm, the beginnings of response shivering up Logan's neck but never getting further. "He says he wants to square things with me," is said between a thin smile, a flash of white teeth. "Don't think he knows what he's on about.

"And maybe I wasn' protecting him. He's the one that cracked open your face you know," is a taunt, a hand fluttering up now with the light touch of fingertips aimed towards one high cheekbone without hope of lingering there.

Logan isn't convinced by that either. "I cared for 'im a bit," he admits, dully. "But he took off so I'm readier to knee cap 'im than sleep with 'im."

Sasha snags that hand out of the air with his and guides it back to the pole, but rather than let go again he keeps it there, perhaps to ensure that Logan won’t squirm out of his grip. He applies even and steady pressure, fingers curled around the Englishman’s with blunt nails biting at the skin in between his knuckles. It’s not an affectionate gesture by any stretch of the imagination. It is, however, Sasha’s way of protecting Logan.

Presumably, he doesn’t want him to do something stupid and fall. “I’m sorry,” he says, without sounding particularly apologetic. What does he have to apologize for, anyway? “What is squaring things?”

Logan's eyes slide closed again, maybe in discomfort of Sasha's clammily bony clasp over his hand, or thinly veiled impatience of this line of questioning, or trying to summon up the barbed comments that would steer this conversation his way. Thin silver chain, a touch of jewelry in the form of thread fineness, shifts against his throat along with a swallow. "Making right," he translates, eyes flashing open only to roll and steer his gaze away. "He wants to come back, 's what he said.

"Do you care?" is more familiar sharpness, now, along with a narrowed look back at Sasha. The lights of carriage bring up most flaws, from Logan's gauntness to the pallor of his skin gone greyer with temporary illness. His eyes are reassuringly dull. "Or are you just picking at me?"

Picking in this context is another one of those verbs that takes Sasha a few additional moments to translate into its Russian equivalent, and even then it’s likely that he doesn’t fully comprehend its meaning, or Logan’s reasons for asking. “It is hard,” he says after a short pause, “to keep friends, but in St. Petersburg while I am working in the hospital— Some. My colleagues, they have wives and children and many complaints. One of the things they say I am good at doing is listening without listening.

“I should care, I think. About your problems. But why not a woman?” It isn’t as though Sasha hasn’t seen Logan around them. The man manages one of Brooklyn’s most successful strip clubs, and he has no shortage to choose from. Before that: a brothel.

The hand beneath Sasha's shifts a little, squirms, like the last movements of a crushed animal. "There've been women," is scoffed with some luxury, sickness forgotten despite the way nausea sours him, the giddiness of drunkenness over for the evening. "Even cared 'bout one after Toru left. I think." Even Logan isn't sure — stands to reason that Wendy Hunter probably wasn't sure either, fight or no fight.

"Not as interesting. Their voices— like nails on. On a chalkboard, sometimes. Unforgiving." Another twitch beneath Sasha's clasp, Logan's blearier stare focusing somewhere approximately around the Russian's collarbone, probably tracking the journey his fingertips and strangely sharp nails might have been picking across. "Why not men?"

“A man does not need another man.” And as if to emphasize this point, Sasha finally removes his hand from Logan’s, shifting it higher up the pole. He does not venture any further than that, however. “A woman needs. Men should have wives, children. Families. Always, my mother and my father, encouraging me. Such disappointment. She leaves, I leave, there is a fight,” or a restraining order, “but eventually. As you say: someday.

“It is nice,” he concludes, “to shelter and hold and whisper into her hair. They melt a little, the women. Like warm butter. This is the difference between wanting to be wanted and wanting to be needed, one better than the other. Superior.” There is some frustration in Sasha’s tone. Easier to communicate the emotions that Logan’s question inspires than to articulate them in a way that makes sense. He isn’t satisfied with the explanation — that much is clear.

Logan can see it, too, like he can see the soldier in the other man, or the older brother, or prodigal son. A husband of a romance novel's war hero's woman. That is not a shape that Logan would fit in comfortably, the husband of anyone, or even the consistent semi-stable boyfriend, and there's a narrowness to his study of Sasha and the line his mouth makes.

The corner of the latter twitches in the beginnings of smile or smirk, and his nose wrinkles. "'cept that— I needed Toru. You— you've need of me."

Let the record clearly state that Logan is very self-aware, of the metallic taste at the back of his tongue and the scent of a train carriage that has seen a full day of crushing commuters. But circumstances feel removed when he puts his weight on the hand gripping leather loop, and with a certain amount of husky luxury, asks, "Why limit yourself?" as long fingers make an attempt at dipping beneath Sasha's belt buckle, hard wryness in green eyes.

“Limitations are important,” Sasha counters. “Authority. Rules.” Now he does move away, although not far, one hand reaching out to close his own fingers around an adjacent pole as he sinks down into one of the empty seats — and he has many to choose from. This one has holes burned into it by the point of a cigarette, and a wad of chewing gum stuck under the arm, but neither the seat’s appearance nor its smell — a pungent mixture of urine, liquor and something musty that his nose isn’t sensitive enough to identify — dissuade him from resting his feet, which he places a shoulder width apart on the floor, knees bent with clasped hands hanging loosely between them.

“To know all about me that you do — your contacts must be very good,” he says, “but not perfect. What do you have on me, John? Militsiya records only? There are things I have done, some on paper, many not: I do not limit myself as much as you think.”

That hand retracts just as Sasha does, and hangs in the air for a few short seconds, aimless before weaving up to hook fingers in another loop of leather. Sting shows in the narrowing of Logan's jaw and the wander of his look away from the other man, and the unflattering glare of the lights above them do much to underscore and highlight these details that Logan is also too drunk to care much about. "'Limited' isn't a word I'd call you," he agrees.

One hand detaches from its grip to the hold above his head; pats himself down for an inevitable need for a smoke despite the aging SMOKEFREE sign stapled to a wall, stickered to both sliding doors. "I know as much about you as I imagine you know about me. What difference is that s'posed to make?"

Sasha’s initial response is silence amplified by the rattling rails and the audible flickering of the fluorescent lights overhead — a crackle and spark that plunges the car into darkness so brief Logan may as well have only blinked. The Russian doesn’t. Blink. He watches the other man with blue eyes, their watery quality more like ice, lacking fluidity or warmth.

It’s a predator’s study. He rubs the edge of his thumb along the inner curve of his hand, grazing cracked and callused skin, then trails it over his knuckles. Fingers flex. Idly, he picks at the dirt under his nails without paying them any real attention at all.

“There is a difference.”

The tension with which Logan clamps cigarette filter between teeth could be enough to scissors through it, but manages to hold back that much. His long body sways a little with the movements of the train, barring where that one hand remains clinging above his head, and it takes a few false starts before flame can be touched to the tip. A breath has it flaring, impatient curls of smoke out from his nostrils.

"Then maybe," he mumbles around cigarette, less adept at talking around it for the same reasons that he's very cautious with replacing lighter into his pocket, "you'll enlighten me. Or make a decision," is a wry and even more muttery addition.

There is a degree of checked outness about his demeanor, likely amplified by how much he's had to drink, a temptation to saunter a few rows down and find his own place to sulk in— but he remains, and manages to level a green-eyed look to Sasha's blue.

“No.” Sasha’s voice is steady. His hands are not. Enlightening him, making a decision — this two things are not mutually exclusive, and in spite of his refusal, he maintains a carnivorous air. His gaze does not make clear the thought process that fuels the movements of his long, rough fingers, but Logan may sense that it isn’t particularly kind or gentle.

Refusing to make a decision is also a decision in itself, however, and it’s with no small amount of reluctance that he finally leans back in his seat, breaks his gaze and tips his head against the window at a sideways angle to observe the emptiness on the other side and the clarity of Logan’s reflection in the glass, keeping him in his periphery.

Something just happened.

Logan's reflection is incidentally a lot like Logan, but in the slight double of the glass's quality, and ghost overlay to the strange sight of black tunnel walls rushing by, trying to snag the eye. Sober or drunk, if Logan has something to say, he tends to say it, whether it's within the privacy of his own office, in the middle of the opening of a restaurant, or the near empty nighttime train. Sobriety, however, does allow for articulation that isn't afforded to him now, words and ideas skimming away from him before he can string something coherent together.

Alcohol will do that, and so can anger, especially in combination. The flare of that is dulled in reflection and a brighter spark in the focus of his stare down at the Russian, for all that it stays pale rather than shining vibrancy.

He has no taste, now, for the fresh smoke coming clean off cigarette embers, and when his gaze drops to the ground, it's in consideration of letting still burning ash fall there, or at Sasha's feet, or somewhere higher and more alarming. "Fine," is roughly stated, fingers savagely flicking at the bonewhite roll of nicotine and leaf, letting dead and live ash both spark and spiral.

As if navigating the deck of a yacht in a petulant ocean as opposed to the consistent rumble and rattle of the train, Logan moves off down the carriage— opposite direction of his own sick up from minutes prior— with one hand out to make sure he doesn't fall. Miraculously, he remains upright, finds somewhere clean enough for his tastes to sit and watch the doors.

Logan will sit and watch the doors. Sasha will sit and watch Logan, or at least he will sit and watch Logan as best he is able without slinking after him, hunched and wolf-like, dogging his footsteps. He touches a hand to his chest, fingers splayed, and feels for the package of cigarettes that isn’t stuffed into his jacket’s interior pocket. The outline of his lighter presses against his open palm, but that is all.

When it drops, it settles on the inside of his thigh, legs coaxed further apart by the gesture as he slides both booted feet forward and slouches in his seat. It doesn’t take a special ability for him to know that Logan is angry, partly because he’s that way too — if for entirely different reasons. Pent up frustration makes a knot of his other hand, and he folds that arm across his midsection, working some of the extra tension from his tendons by clenching his muscles, then relaxing, clenching and then relaxing.

When the train eventually comes to a stop and Logan steps off it, he won’t be very far behind. Whether or not he gives his consent.

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