The Red Room


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Scene Title The Red Room
Synopsis Logan scopes out some of the local competition and encounters a familiar face while Niki finds herself confronted by an individual from her collective past.
Date April 1, 2010

The Red Room

The Red Room probably desired to open in the spring time instead of the dead of winter, but plans change, apparently. Not theirs, but the sky's, even if it hasn't snowed today. It doesn't stop the air outside from being almost suffocating in its chilliness, wind as sharp as razors, unforgiving.

The flashy little Brooklyn strip club has managed to warm its air to an almost sweaty degree, forcing Logan to shed his overcoat over an arm. Despite the fact that the suit he wears is pure, blinding white, he's gone so far unrecognised as any kind of competitor scouting out the new kid on the block. He wears his sunglasses at night, although now at least has the shame to steer them down and off his long nose, fold it up with his hand and tuck it against the collar of his black shirt, and manages to communicate his dismay on the inside of the sight of the place being, somehow, busy.

It won't last. Surely not. Logan turns his back on the runway stage, lit up all reds, appropriately, to head to the bar. Coughs into a curled fist as he goes, a deep kind of cough that wrenches from low in his torso, scrapes up his throat, but he's learned to be quiet about it.

Go bother the nice gentleman in the white suit, The Management whispered into her ear, urging an early end to her break, which consisted of sipping a martini and flirting with a guest. He looks like he's money, or trouble, they said. Either way, that clearly makes Niki the best candidate for the job.

What a world.

Dressed in a pair of black spandex hotpants, a vest held in place by little more than a single strand of gold chain that hangs between the valley of her nearly exposed breasts, and a green visor, Niki struts over in her spindly four-plus inch heels. "Pick a card," she purrs, holding up four playing cards - she's meant to be a raunchy fantasy of a poker dealer, you see — and if you want classy, I'm sorry but you're looking for Burlesque - fanned out with their backs to him. With her head tipped down, the translucent plastic of her visor casts a green sheen over her face, distorted by the lighting for which the club is named.

This is work, and Niki isn't paying attention to little things like the faces of men who're just going to leer at her anyway. She's probably going to change that policy after tonight.

Setting his palms against the edge of the bar, Logan's eyes slide halfway shut as he concentrates on breathing in a way that won't start his lungs up again, considers what cocktail on the menu above him might best serve to wash the taste of sickness out of his mouth. By the time anyone is getting close to him to study — even if they're not — they might deduce that he's more the latter than the former. Bruises have more or less washed away since he was last rammed in the face with the butt of a rifle, but combine the last lingering smudges of damage with the slight sheen of fever sweat on his brow—

His eyes close all the way at the sound of footsteps click-clicking near him, torn between telling the broad to keep walking or actually engaging in conversation. He's here to work, in a sense, not drink, so Logan clears his throat a little and turns to rest an elbow against the edge of the bar, donning a smile.

"I thought what happens in Vegas stays there," he's saying, and hey, guess what — he's not looking at her face either.

"What fun would it be if I stayed in Vegas? I like happening in New York." That accent. A voice in her head - one that doesn't have a name other than sub-conscious - is telling Niki that she should remember it from somewhere. Maybe three or four martinis ago, she may have. For now, she's letting it go. She sets the cards down on the bar and pulls a stool up, straddling it more than just a little suggestively. "But what happens at the Red Room stays there," she muses.

Logan is doing his best impression of a healthy man — and it's not a bad effort, save for the slight slick to his skin which could easily be attributed to coming in from the cold and hitting the tropical contrast of the strip clubs insides. A hand moves to toy with the edge of a card, drrragging his attention up from the glimmer of gold chain towards the eyes beneath the viser. It takes him exactly three seconds, because while Logan might have been a lanky silhouette and a pair of lambent green eyes in the darkness, he had the woman's face in files spread across his coffeetable for as long as it took to find her.

"Like bankruptcy, drug habits and… oh." He usually has better instincts than that, but it's a surprise, when context slides into place, nagging familiarity blossoms open to understanding, and Logan isn't sure how to feel about the recognition that follows. He blinks, mouth going into a small line, and tension setting his shoulders.

"Have I come unlatched again?" Niki asks absently, glancing down and checking the clasp of the chain with her free hand, giving a light tug that perhaps gives Logan a better view if he happens to be looking for it before fabric settles back into place. It wouldn't be the first time she stunned a man who was trying to act oh so suave into silence.

Niki lifts her head marginally, glancing over Logan's face without any outward recognition. A flirtatious smile touches her lips and she procures the card he'd just been fingering the edge of, flipping it 'round so that he can see the Queen of Hearts. All four cards are the Queen of Hearts, of course, but the other three stay hidden against the bar where he'll never know the difference. "Well lookit that," she murmurs.

And then a reflection from a wall of mirrors set up behind the bar, intended to make the area seem larger and brighter, catches her attention. Dressed just like her, Jessica is pointing toward the man in the white suit with an angry purse of lips visible between a bottle of Galliano and one of Belvedere. Even though the voice originates in Niki's head, she can't hear what Jessica's trying to tell her over the din of the music on stage and over their heads. Instead, she just starts paying much closer attention to the Logan, starting with a study of his face.

A glance to the card, a glance to the mirror, a glance to the exit. The nice gentleman in the white suit certainly does seem bothered, all of a sudden, but he's not turning tail just yet — kind of like with growling dogs, you don't run. Niki certainly isn't growling (and she's no dog, to be sure, even if some of her might be a bitch) but Logan stays where he is, all the same, rewarding her card trick with a smile. He might know just enough about her to know that he's an exceptionally lucky individual.

Paperwork said nothing about talking reflections, of course. "Would you look at that," he echoes in agreement, as if he didn't go deer-in-the-headlights a second ago, taking the card from her, a silver ring wrapped around one finger winking in the low lights of the club. "You're not new at this, are you?"

Niki meets Logan's eyes, something she doesn't do with the other patrons. "No," she concedes, "I'm not." Another glance up shows the stern face of her manager. She's not milking Logan for cash quickly enough. He hasn't bought a drink yet, and he isn't slipping anything into her waistband.

This was so much easier on the internet. "We have VIP rooms, if you're interested in just how experienced I am."

On the other side of the mirror, Jessica is just about ready to reach through the glass and smash a bottle over her other half's head. He almost killed us, Niki! Don't go into a private room with him!

Niki remains blissfully unaware as to exactly why Jessica's throwing a hissy fit of Gina proportions. Her smile isn't genuines by any means, but it's a practiced sort that looks the part. The bouncers may not be too nearby in the private rooms, but Niki is her own bouncer - she thinks - and if she needs to use her own ability, well, the cameras always seem to conveniently not work, just in case a customer wants a little something extra.

If you want class, go to Burlesque.

"I don't think so."

Like blood from a stone, some customers can be. Unless they aren't customers, naturally, except— there's money, quite suddenly. Peeling back the white edge of his suit jacket, dipping his scarred fingers into the silk-lined pocket within, and the folded over fifty holds a lot of promise in its inked numbers and paper fold. He smiles at her, and closes in a little, one hand remaining braced against the bar as he brackets her against it where she sits perched on the stool.

He's not handing the bill over, exactly, but he does hover it between them like he might. "What's the rate for a private dance, then?" he asks, voice scratchy, like he's been smoking. Or dying of plague. He's too nicely dressed to be dying of plague. "Some clubs in this city'll go up to two hundred, but I suppose not at this end of town."

Niki's eyes flick downward, a veil of lashes hiding her grey-blue gaze for a moment as it focuses on that fifty. She needs to get that fifty, somehow. "We are in a recession," she grins, lifting her eyes again so as to appear more interested in the man than his money. "I like to think I'm in the business of giving a happiness to those on any budget." The space between her knees, as if giving him some idea of where he can put that fifty.

"You're a saint, is what you are," Logan proposes, with a bright gleam of a smile. He's on a roll now, he knows what he's doing, suddenly, and he lets his gaze prowl down Niki's body as he lets the edges of the fifty brush against her belly, lower down and then edging into black spandex. He's a gentleman, practically, and there's not even a trace of touching her, eeeven as he leans in. "I suppose you can afford to be," he says, as he pushes the fifty in securely. "Last time you took your clothes off for men, you had another mouth to feed, isn't that right? Now you've only got your own to worry about."

When John Logan's ability kicks in, it's visible in an inhuman flash of green eyes. When Niki's does, there's no warning sign. There's no illumination, no twitch. Just a broken woman standing in the mirror, with tears streaming down her cheeks, and a strong one left in her place, taking Logan's money.

"Thank you," Jessica murmurs, tracing her fingers over the trim of her vest and dancing over the bare of her stomach before pushing the fifty down a little further. "Now, you're going to give me another one of those in return for not breaking your arm for what you just did to Niki. That trick you pulled in the alley was cute, but I've learned a few more tricks since then."

"I always did like you more than the other one," Logan says, as if blithely ignoring the very real threat she just pushed to him. "The whole— desperate single mum doing all she can to support her child thing as if she'd never heard of a real job or self-respect thing is very tired, old, and I've heard it before. Boring. I prefer the tale of the cutthroat bitch. I like to think it's what we've got in common. And you don't want to try breaking my arm."

He does, however, back off, letting inches of personal space claim back between them as his hands sink into the silk-lined pockets of his suit jacket. "Not unless you want a repeat of the trick I pulled in the alley," is a bluff, but delivered like truth, his eyes remaining pale as glass. "Good to see you're out of the vendetta'ing business."

Jessica's gaze seems to remain impassive, even as a fire burns behind them. Flames on the side of her face. A heaving breath. "Don't," is all she says in response to his assessment of Niki. Yes, she's the weaker of the two, but she's not that. "Don't you have puppies and orphans you could be kicking somewhere?" He seems the type. Then again, so might she. She doesn't bother to correct him, to say that she's just going about her vendetta'ing in a different way these days. That's not for him to know.

Instead, Jessica rests her elbows flat on the bar behind her and slowly comes up to arch her back, allowing that tiny vest to gap and shift indecently. "I said I want another fifty." If not for not breaking his arm, then for doing her job. It will put food on Niki's table, and keep the boss off their ass.

One hundred dollars is one fifth of how much you can earn for getting someone killed. It's a random synapse thought, as quick and startling and out of nowhere as lightning. It doesn't show on his face save for a glimmer of hesitation and thought, quick math. Maybe, just maybe, it will stop her from stalking out after him, into freezing cold and in those pants, and twisting his head from his neck. Price to pay for playing games. "I'm scouting out the competition," he says, as another note is extracted.

Messenger boy indeed, is what a quick smile might say. Errand runners don't get nice suits and money to throw around. Of this he's reasonably sure. He doesn't tuck the money anywhere this time, just offers it out between them with all the aplomb of brandishing an olive branch. "I don't think I've much to be concerned about, do you?"

Jessica tugs the prop hat off and sets it on the bar, shaking her long, blonde hair out. "Place'll be close in three weeks," she mutters through a false smile before leaning forward and taking the note between her teeth, settling back before extracting it between third and forefingers like one might a cigarette, and adding it to the note at her waist. "Thank you."

Logan lets the money go easy enough, perhaps with just minor, token resistance as if to feel the tug of her teeth, before his hand retracts, and he rocks back an additional step. Any other day, he might push his luck, but the nagging moth-flutter in the back of his throat threatens that he probably couldn't get through the twenty-minutes afford him in a private room. "Be sure to split it between the pair of you," he notes, a sardonic baring of pearly teeth, before he lifts his chin up at her. "Cheers."

One hundred dollars in the kitty, as it were, at least one girl at the Red Room could try to claim it was worth it. The gentleman in the white suit turns on a wingtip heel, leaves Jessica and whoever else might be watching with a wink, before Logan is heading on autopilot for the exit. His smirk dims as soon as he's turned away, a hand drifting up to his chest to soothe the ache coming back up in its cavity.

As soon as Logan's turned away, Jessica's turning to look over her shoulder at the mirror along the back of the bar. "We're taking the rest of the night off," she tells Niki in no uncertain terms. Her reflection simply nods her acquiescence. A full night's wages just aren't important right now.

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