The Legal Distinction


bella_icon.gif logan_icon.gif

Scene Title The Legal Distinction
Synopsis "Dolores Rusk" reconfirms her arrangement and discovers something about side effects; unbeknown to her, Logan digs a little deeper.
Date January 28, 2009

A Park

You'd think her initial orders were enough, but Dr. Sheridan has been burning through her stockpile of Refrain, either pumping it into her subjects or blasting it through various tests. The molecule is complex - no simple cocktail - and the secret to its synthesis has evaded her thus far. She feels herself drawing closer, her understanding fuller, though much of the real lab work must be left to people with the appropriate education. And once her efforts bear fruit…

Once they bear fruit, she won't have to meet in a ill-lit corner of Central Park after the sun has gone down, like a junkie angling for a titanic fix. She dresses in her most drab suit, pulls her hair into a bun and applies the minimum of makeup, donning the character of Dolores Rusk, pharmaceutical representative. She even practices a crisp, officious affect to herself as the elevator carries her down, at least until the second floor where someone joins her and she's forced to tone down the crazy-seeming. A dark SUV picks her up and ferries her to the edge of the park, and she walks the rest of the way, without her cane this time, leg feeling good as new… except for the odd, inexplicable occasion.

She's early, wanting to establish the territory as more hers than his, and she sits on a park bench, staring past pools of yellow light into the midnight that coats the daytime green.

Logan should be at work. It's that time of evening when Burlesque will see the most activity it does all night, but then, one would also argue that this is being at work. He's certainly dressed for it, layers of expensive wool in the three-piece suit, no tie, mostly obscured by the heavy woolen winter coat that extends down to his knees. A watch peeking out from his cuff and a loop of silver around one thumb make up the rest of his finery, and he's otherwise about as sleepless and nocturnal seeming as the last time "Dolores Rusk" met with him. No bruises, though, more the New York businessman than thug this evening.

No cane, either, and as he approaches, his pale green eyes scope out for sign of it on her person. No dice. Maybe he imagined it the last time, surely. Street lamp light strikes golden against him as he moves past it and towards her park bench, not deigning to sit down just yet as he only angles up a shaven chin in her direction in something like greeting.

Ms. Rusk looks up at Logan with the flat, impassive look Bella's been practicing. It's pretty good, much thanks to the fact that half her expressions are put on as it is. She inclines her own head, though she doesn't look at him. It's like a secret meeting in a movie, the way she's set it up. Maybe that's all she's got to go on.

"Good evening," she says, address pointed towards the night.

"Evening." The Englishman twists a look over his shoulder, as if to scout out for muscle that isn't his that he may have missed, another darting look ahead of him, before Logan steps on over to join her on the bench. The flap of his coat is pulled back enough that an observant person would be able to see a flash of a shoulder rig beneath pinstripe, but more relevantly, the silver of his cigarette case which his bone-white hands spider over, fingernails seeking out the edges to crack it open and extract one.

The motions are gone through efficiently, until he has a burning cigarette between two fingers, a pinprick glowing point of orange in the swallowing dark of the park, and the case is replaced back into a silk-lined pocket. The smoke is thicker than the continual steam of drawn breath, acrid on sharply cold air. "So how's our arrangement looking from your end?"

"Frankly?" Bella says, eyes darting over to the motions Logan makes, then sliding slowly back towards the black she's regarding once she confirms its /himself/ he's intending to harm, not her, at least as long as she remains up wind of him, "The interests I represent are getting uncertain about the continuation of this relationship, about the costs of the project. In the spirit of respectful disclosure, I can't say I know how many more times I will be seeing you before I am reassigned. For the time being, though, we still require what you provide. None of this will be a problem, I hope?"

Best to set up the cessation of this arrangement now. With luck she'll have the Company labs able to produce this stuff at will. She might even finagle a discount from him for the time being if it seems like he's risking losing their business. It takes no chemical manipulation to give Bella a high opinion of her own cleverness, it would seem.

Despite the lines under his eyes, Logan's focus is sharp. Bad luck for him that Bella is fairly talented at school her own expressions to convey exactly what she wants, but he can still sift through her words for signs of hussling bumping shoulders with sincerity. "Well that is unfortunate," he agrees, coyness curling the edges of a pleasant tone, curdling it with his own brand of slightly more naked insincerity. Seriousness bridles his tone as he continues with, "I believe we agreed to a renegotiation after our initial sign off, with a twenty-five percent discount instead of fifteen. If that'll make your penny pushers happier…"

"I'm not authorized to speak for my superiors," Bella says, giving a small shrug, Gallic in its ambiguity, "However…" she turns to catch his eyes with hers, and offers the faintest hint of a smile, "I've a sense that such a gesture can only foster good will. I've every interest in seeing this relationship continue. If it is dissolved, know that it was a decision made higher up than myself."

Now she's back to looking off into the distance again, the lapse in 'official' speech concluded. "Twice what we last requested. If you have the supplies on hand."

"As it happens, I do," Logan says, leaning back enough to hook an arm over the wooden back of the bench, keeping his eyes on her profile as much as she might want to stare off into shadows because that's just how clandestine meetings work. "I can get it to you as early as tomorrow morning — same place as before?"

Bella gives a nod, "Perfect," she says. She turns towards him again, extending her hand to offer in a shake, utterly voiding any sort of discretion that not making consistent eye contact would have provided. Well, it's not like the character she's playing is supposed to be used to clandestine operations. The embarrassing fact is that she really does work for a secret organization, and she's just not used to the actual secret parts. "Should there be any changes in plans, I'll be sure to contact you."

Logan's smile is quick, almost charmed, but he takes her hand after switching cigarette from it to the other. White scars mar the backs of his fingers, but there's no weakness in the brisk clasp he deals her, giving a customary throb of serotonin along with the contact without much in the way of conscious effort. "And if our deal is discontinued, you should allow me to take you out for a drink sometime," he says, offer made almost as thoughtless as that brief shimmer of power use.

Even as his hand clings tighter, brow tensing as if a thought were occurring to him. "Forgive me, because I know you've been working very hard indeed to keep the particulars out of the dialogue, but tell me something, Ms. Rusk — do you much in the way of side effects regarding Refrain? Night terrors, in particular."

He /is/ charming. The thought bubbles up spontaneously, but is quickly filtered through the character of Rusk that Bella has been careful to erect, a person she imagines as much plainer and more socially awkward than herself. She responds by making chin dip down, along with her eyes, which then slide back up to his face. "I… don't know that…" she half stammers. Poor Dolores, Bella reflects, she'd look much better if she took care of herself. And if she didn't have such an ugly name.

Their hands part, and the question provides Dolores a chance to flee from her own embarrassment. "Side effects?" she echoes, "I… wouldn't know. I'm not-" a quick pause, a self-check, "That's not my area of expertise." And while Dolores registers confusion, Bella is cataloguing this question as information of its own. Night terrors and Refrain, a connection she risked hypothesizing not so long ago herself. "Have they been observed in your clientele? Night terrors, that is?"

"Several," Logan confirms, tone blithe, and there's perhaps a twinge of uncertainty that goes with it, visible discomfort that has him hesitating. But no, he's not going to admit that he's experienced them first hand, even if a shift in his glance and a pause in his words might confirm it for him. He shakes his head. "Regular users through to those those who only tested it once before. Sleep walking, self-harm. It's a dangerous little drug, turns out. You should maybe watch for that."

Sleep walking and self harm. Check and check. Damned but if she didn't need a drug dealer to confirm what all her lab work and testing could only gesture vaguely at. "Thank you," she says, "For the warning. I'll relate this information to my superiors." She gets to her feet, slowly, brushing the back of her suit, swishing off the flecks of paint that the inclement weather has rubbed free from the bench. "I wish our communication could be more open. We could learn something from each other. And, really, we're in the same trade, just on different sides of a legal distinction." A cynical attitude that most other psychiatrists would snarl at her for, but she has no illusions. It's not that she's anti-pharmacudical; she's pro-drug!

If only their communication could be more open — he's really only trading her half the story. A drag of his cigarette allows him a moment to contemplate saying any more, but by the time he's breathing out smoke through a smile, he only nods to her in departure. "Well, you do know how to get into contact with me, Dolores," Logan says, remaining seated for the time being, as if intent to finish his smoke before heading out. "You let me know if there's any hassle with tomorrow's trade."

"There won't be hassle on our end," Dolores says, "Tell your boys to play nice." That last line wasn't really particularly Rusky, but Bella's already a step ahead of herself, ready to go. She needs to write a report, to confirm the link between Refrain and these dangerous sleep incidents. She's already curious about what one of these incidents would like on a brain scan… and curious as to how she might induce one. Bella lifts a hand, "Until next time."

Logan allows for a halved smile at that comment, and nods to her once more, watching her depart if only for the enjoyment of it. Or not. By the time she's put some distance between them, he tosses his cigarette down towards the pavement and follows it with a crush of his heel, heading off in the opposite direction as he squirrels out his cellphone from a pocket, flicking it open and hitting a single digit.

He glances over his shoulder as he speaks quietly, a hand up to close his coat against the cold. "Don't fucking lose her," is his greeting into the phone, muttered quietly. "She's headed north. And be prepared to be up bright and early tomorrow, we've a delivery to make." Presumably, that's all the exchange requires, closing his phone with a definite snap, before putting more speed in his stride as he heads away.

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