The Stranger You Know


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Scene Title The Stranger You Know
Synopsis …is only vaguely better than the devil you don't. Logan and Bebe encounter each other on the outside. And you know what they say about the more things change.
Date July 18, 2009

Chinatown Market Place

Six hours and nine minutes after midnight. No one ought to be up at this hour; it's almost inhumane. But the vendors that line the walk of the makeshift market in Chinatown are already bustling. The early birds have all flocked to Canal Street so that they might stake their claim on the very best stinky fruit and phallic vegetables and deliciously disgusting animal bits that the various vendors have to offer. It's not nearly as nasty as it sounds. It's colorful, at least, for all senses involved. The grip of the local Triad gangs ensure that the most common spoken language is something other than English while hues of regal red and loyal yellow dominate, followed by blushing pinks and jade greens.

It just might make for the perfect place to hide in plain sight. Or stumble across something special you didn't even know you'd been seeking.

A girl named after all that glitters but more commonly called Bebe weaves her way in and around the local crowd with a relative ease that suggests this might not be the first time she's been here at this hour. She's currently fondling several small fruits that sort of resemble strawberries, bringing them up to her nose for a sniff before tossing one, two, three into a thin plastic bag provided for just such a thing.

Fuck sleep. When all sleep is is twisting around beneath the covers and yearning for something Logan can't actually put a word to. When all sleep is is those stupid dreams that have changed so much since the Dagger burned down, and yes, that is what he attributes this shift, too. A dislocated homesickness. So while it was still dark, the sky touched with post-dawn light, he went for a walk.

This is about when Logan's going to bed anyway, back in the day.

Strange that sleepless moving around, unpredictable hours and avenues, is what brings him a modicum of peace. He almost feels like himself, moving through the morning hours of the marketplace, not the first time its reminded him a little of certain corners of the Rookery. He's not going to buy anything, no, his two thousand dollars is being frittered away through more glamourous means than strange fruits and herbal teas. And to see a white face in this particular street is nothing bizarre. Not in New York. Inevitably, Logan's eyes are drawn to it, however, and inevitably, he recognises her. For a moment, it could well be the Rookery. He could be emerging out of Shooters as the hour it's changing to dawn and he could be seeing her across the way, lit up in neon lights of the Chinese restaurant she made it a habit to go to.

Like a magnetic pull, power she doesn't actually have at the moment, Logan finds himself moving on over. Lots has changed in this setting, from the lack of neon to the sound of traffic Staten Island simply never had, to the fact he's dressed down in jeans and a leather jacket pulled over a plain black cotton shirt. Still, there is a kind of familiarity in his approach as her eyes are turned towards her purchases, the taller man moving around, the slight brush of fabric to her back as he passes by too close and greets with, "Hello, stranger."

Well. That didn't take lon— er, actually, no. That took a hell of a lot longer than she'd hoped anticipated. Imagined. Repeatedly. And, yet, somehow… this wasn't the sort of reunion she'd envisioned. It would have been better, maybe, if he'd announced himself with a knock on some anonymous door, behind which Bebe would be with some other man looming over her shoulder, ready to slam said aforementioned door right back in the lousy Limey's face!

Thankfully, the makeshift marketplace is pretty sparse in the door department… and the only man left looming over Bebe's shoulder is Logan himself. So much for that plan. The tiny (ex)tart recognizes the voice, of course, and lifts her chin in an instant but hesitates before allowing her big brown eyes to verify visually that it is, indeed, John Logan and not some despicable shade.

"Hello," she says, oh so softly, smile subdued but still sweet around the edges. She can't help herself. It's really quite pathetic. Her gaze swiftly tumbles back down to the lumpy lychee fruit before she wonders aloud, "What are you doing here?"

It can be a ready habit, to reach out with psychic hands and take ahold of the other's attention in the way of mood altering chemical based witchery, in the hopes it might— well. Achieve something. Make smiles seem sincere, make words seem golden, all the way down to making a certain set of angles and configuration of expression, body language more attractive than it might have been. But perhaps it's the displacement of the Chinatown street at this god forsaken hour that has Logan pulling back, upon a thought.

Besides, she's already smiling. "Enjoying the scenery," he states, with his own smile right back at her, before breaking eye contact to look over her head, a glance around at the street. "I'm used to Dagger hours, I'm afraid, no chance of sleep." Coming to lean against the fruit stall, gaze now coming to wander over the lumpy configurations of foreign fruit, without really seeing them, he asks, "You? Do you stay around here?"

Lychee. Dragon eyes. Durians. They're all on display. So, too, is Logan, it seems. For once, it's Bebe who remains off-stage as an apathetic member of the audience for this particular performance. In her mind she's already writing a scathing review — classless, tasteless, shameless, unapologetic bastard — but her body betrays a cognitive dissonance and she actually leans in toward the man she never really knew except for in a biblical fashion. She makes a confession: "Me, too."

A thin lower lip gets sucked in between perfect teeth as she contends with whether or not she ought to reveal the nature and location of her current hiding place; her home away from hell. "I…" Lie sometimes. "…no. I'm just here to pick up a few things." Something that smells good and speaks with an English accent, maybe, even if that wasn't on the list. Wait— no.

Or yes, if Logan had any say in it. Overtired despite sleeplessness, without the backdrop of his own business bleeding into the finery of his clothing and the casts of neon light, there's an ordinariness. Like two actors kicked out from the glamour of their particular stages, or even the clutter and chaos of what goes on behind the scenes. "You liked the markets in the Rookery too," Logan finds himself saying, and he's not even sure if it's true, or not, just that this seems familiar in a way. Laying a claim, in some ways, a tenuous connection.

Maybe he's projecting. "Ghost said nothing of where you went after Jersey, too," he states, looking back at her, a sharper if not searching look, as if trying to pin her in place rather than read. "We didn't even get a chance to talk, now did we?"

The underlying accusation is undercut by another smile, and the heel of his boot scrapes against the pavement as he takes a step back. Not away, however. Logan offers out a hand, palm turned upwards and fingers relaxed, an offer and promise made countless times before. "Come, walk with me. We've got loads of catching up to do."

I— but— shopping… aw. She shouldn't. Bebe knows this isn't a good idea and yet— her hand very slowly seems to gravitate of its own accord into Logan's proffered palm. The sweet and sour grape substitutes are forgotten all too easily. The unusual heartache she experienced while standing just outside of Logan's motel room door isn't.

Relent. Pause. Recoil.

However, even if she isn't up for holding hands, she doesn't appear to be all that averse to taking a walk. Her feet have already begun to lead her somewhere away from the fruit stand, hopefully with Logan in tow. But, this little reunion isn't entirely dictated by the wand movements of just one man. Bebe's still retained some of the spine that she dug up over on the Jersey shore and, instead of apologizing for her absence, she says, "You seemed— " Make that sounded. "— preoccupied."

There's no kneejerk reaction of consequence when she pulls back, no snarl or grab, nothing save for Logan's hand floating in the air for one, two more seconds before it drops back down to his side, falling into step with her. A wandering pace, mostly straight sailing through the thin early bird crowd of the market place. At her response, there's a mildly disbelieving back-throated sound from the Brit, glancing down at her with a look like are you being serious before it smooths out again.

"Preoccupied. Bleeding, mainly." Oh, and— after the bleeding was over and done with, and after he'd stopped hiding away in his room or sequestered further within the tiled confines of the bathroom. Logan gives a shrug of creaking leather, a haughtiness in the angle of his shoulders, the tilt of his chin. "You never had a problem in claiming my attention before."

It's a careless observation, backhanded and in many ways oblivious, already moving on with, "I was hoping to ask you what you were doing. At the Dagger, that night. Why you came back. Where you'd come from, even."

There's something so naturally and yet awfully awkward about the two of them strolling down the street together in plain clothes, sharing the same view of the sunrise as it makes the sky blush and brighten behind the skeletal remains of what were once great buildings. There's metaphor in everything.

Bebe keeps her hands clasped together tightly behind her back; just so long as she can keep her fingers locked in white-knuckled bondage, she won't be tempted to reach out after another fifty feet and accept the offer that was previously rejected. She wants to touch him. So badly. It isn't fair. Why should she be made to suffer simply because— because

The remarkable way in which Logan asks questions without actually asking allows Bebe to avoid any acknowledgement of all the verbal pinpricks that came before and focus on a course of conversation that might lead them both toward the truth. "I was waiting for someone." A beat. "Mu-Qian was right," she says, sliding a look over to her new-found companion only after she's said it, though she doesn't dare stare. She then wagers an inquiry of her own. Directly. "Why does it matter?"

The hour and the circumstance might all mean that anything that isn't a straight forward answer isn't as appreciated, that look tilted up to him met with a quicker glance of his own. Shoulders curl inwards, a little, as if cold, a defensive kind of shrug to communicate a profound whatever. Mu-Qian is right about loads of things and Logan isn't going to ask which is it this time. Not when he's being asked a question right back.

"You tell me," Logan states, attention shifted from her to the wider street in front of them. "There was a federal agent knocking on my door ages back, looking for you." He has his pragmatic moments, the information laid out casually, lightyears from awkward uncertainty and tentative pussyfooting around whatever lies broken between them now. "Was wondering what sort've trouble you'd gotten yourself into. I mean, it was obvious he wasn't after the usual, know what I mean?"

He gives a snort, mouth twisting into a brief scowl. "Not that it matters much now, with everything burned to a crisp. No bloody worries."

This is the sort of ill-communication that takes place between two sorry individuals who are absolutely incapable of being brutally honest with one another except for when it serves to inflict injury or accomplish absolutely nothing. They spent so much time previously pretending to be other people that they now no longer have any real idea of who the other is. Bebe, at least, is beginning to open her eyes. She doesn't like what she sees.

Logan's lack of reaction to what could have just as easily been a profound revelation provokes his young escort's expression to go gaunt and then stony gray. Instead of addressing her heart, however, she skips right over to what may just as well be neutral ground. She tries to sound curious but casual. "What did he want?" If not the usual, then. It's not as if she doesn't already have a pretty good idea but she isn't willing to tip her hand just yet and, speaking of which, those knuckles have tightened just a shade whiter.

On the flip side, Logan isn't seeing much at all. Which, if you think about it, has always been his problem. Her tension seems to go unnoticed, too. Either that or ignored, although presumably, he might have done something to ease it has it been the latter. For now, her chemicals go unchanged, unmoved, a neglect Logan isn't certain, if he stopped to think about it, he can afford.

"I don't know. Feds aren't particularly forthcoming with that sort of thing, are they? Nothing good, I figured. He wasn't looking for a girl— just you. To talk, or something. I just said I had no idea."

Which wasn't even a lie. Logan's hands find the pockets of his jacket as they walk along the strip of market stalls, and taking the time of a foot step and a half to glance her way again, up and down. Bemusement pulls at the corners of his mouth in a wry smile, mirthless as ever and far away. "Are you in trouble, Barbara?"

"No," she says succinctly. Not nearly as much as you are, Logan. It's a thought that goes unspoken and yet still remains readable, written in around the corners of her unassuming mouth and lining the lower lashes of her eyes wide shut. If he looks for it, he might even find a few other secrets scrawled over the features of her face, but— he won't. Bebe's oh-so-sacred secrets — whatever they may be — might be safest kept right under Logan's nose.

An odd compulsion to ask a question she knows she won't like the answer to overtakes her and she hears the words rolling off of her tongue before her lips have time to mute her own foolishness. "…would you like me to be?" What on Earth is that supposed to mean?

Secrets can be kept safe with silence, but that question— yet another statement that just doesn't seem to fit in Logan's own transcript of how this conversation is meant to go, a choreographed trail that, if he plays his cards right, winds up in Satoru's bed— isn't exactly silence. A more studious look is cast down, and there are changes there that even he can see. The lack of adoration being one of them.

"If I wanted that, I wouldn't bother telling you about the wolves at your door, now would I?" Logan says, voice a little sharper, flatter, than the lilting conversational tone of voice, and it occurs to him— suddenly, without warning!— that maybe things have changed.

Maybe she's changed. And so there's faint familiarity in the lift of mood. No telltale green gaze, not for this, a subtle shift. Serotonin makes the heart grow fonder, or at least, gives it a good try, even in the face of true emotion standing opposite the superficiality's attempt. "Now what's gotten in to you? What do you mean about Mu-Qian being right?" It's careless, this digging at secrets, like a twig being used to overturn a rock and see what lies beneath - but it's a start.

It's hard for her not to sound skeptical — initially, at least — when she says, "Not unless you wanted to play at being the hero." As if. It's doubtful, of course, that that was ever Logan's intention. He's no white knight. No dark horse. No pale rider. A horse's ass, maybe, but nothing exceptionally noble. Unfortunately, wee Bebe has a bad habit of trying to turn every man who pays her the least bit of attention into the next rescuer. Salvation. Savior. Lover. All in one. The next Jack. The next man to leave her and never look back.

It's a good thing, perhaps, that Logan's sense of timing seems delayed. Bebe could use a bit of artificial affection right about now. The subtle lift in mood is acknowledged verbally as she amends with a sort of sing-song in her voice as she wobbles his way, "I'd let you wear my favor." That's most certainly innuendo for something else.

The serious subject matter ahead of them hits right about the time that they finally break the burgeoning crowd of a weekday morning marketplace on the verge of erupting into something chaotic but tame. "I went back… for you." At last. The terrible truth. "I wanted to make sure you were okay."

A terrible truth that might fill most with shame, or regret, or maybe even relief, gladness, flattery. As it stands, there's only the slightest flaw in the glassy ice plane that Bebe's sentiment encounters, and it shows in the flick of a glance, an assessment, before a nod. "I'm always okay," Logan dismisses. Pride, in some ways, and ignorance in others. She feels a great deal warmer than he does, making the colours seem brighter, the day ahead seem longer, the weight of the world easing back of her shoulders and when she looks at him

There's a twist of a smile waiting for her, his attention gathered from where it had been lazily scoping out the streets, focused on her. "It's good to see you again. We didn't particularly get off on the right foot in Jersey. I thought that perhaps we wouldn't see each other again."

And wouldn't that be a tragedy? "I'm no hero," Logan belatedly agrees. "But I can still look after you."

That's right. Logan is always okay. With or without her. Bebe doesn't particularly consider this to be a bad thing — one survivor can hardly grudge another for simply surviving — but it isn't exactly a good thing, either. Not in Bebe's book, at any rate. But, she doesn't let it get her down, due in large part to the surging serotonin that's perking up her brain and making her feel suddenly not at all ashamed of the easy smile she's wearing.

"I'm sorry about your shoulder," she says, turning her chin and lifting her eyes in order to deliver the apology directly. "I was just trying to help."

For all her careful words this last conversation, it's somehow those, genuine and off-hand, that makes Logan falter. Smile fades, his gaze dips down and away, concentration on what he's doing to her on a chemical level breaks. If there are memories of Jersey to cherish, it's not those ones. All bloodied sheets and not-quite-regal temper tantrums and the blur of a woman moving too fast to be natural, something he's not quite sure wasn't a hallucination.

He says nothing, even if he starts to at one point; mouth opening and closing, a paused breath— before without a physical gesture, the topic is cast aside. The smile is picked back up, although there's a cautiousness about it. "Are you back?" Logan asks, and it doesn't instantly occur to him that it's stated without context.

But it does occur to him there's no physical place to come back to. In explaining, his voice loses some tension once more, words coming easier as he adds, "I mean, I'm not about to blink and have you disappearing again, am I?"

Back to what? Even with some vague concept of context, Bebe still can't help but wonder and what Logan might mean… and what the proper response is supposed to be. "Back," she echoes under her breath, allowing the word to stand on its own as a statement instead of an inquiry.

"No." No?! Really?? Surely, that isn't going to make her British boy-thing happy. That is, until she adds, "I don't plan on disappearing." Heartening. She then borrows a question that he had asked her earlier, "Where are you staying?" Perhaps she'd like to go there.

Wonderful. As if, perhaps, the world will resemble the way it all used to be, if Logan arranges everyone back around him— under him, over him— in their former configurations, like dolls in a doll house. Just because the former burned down doesn't mean much! The bruises he got from Viv slamming a car door into him have long since faded, too. "Staying with a friend," Logan says, spoken easily, casually. A very normal concept in many ways. "Not far from here, actually. Came out here to escape the quiet, at this hour."

And the chaos of crowded dreams, but that's for pillow talk, not for conversation on the morning sidewalk. Not for the first time, Logan offers out a hand. There is pure expectance in his stance, as if being rejected the first time wasn't a learning curve in the slightest. His power is tuned towards chemical reward in his touch, invisibly simmering in that expectation.

"Me, too," she says with a sunny smile. There's something unusually empowering about being able to offer such a seemingly thoughtless reply that somehow implies that, if for the first time in their association, Bebe is actually on equal footing with Logan. Their housing situation is the same.

Unlike the initial overture, this time the young woman strolling by his side isn't interested in either siding with spite or trying to cling to some misguided sense of self-preservation through self-depravation. Why should she? Her small palm presses readily against his, fingers curling in unison with the upturned corners of her mouth, lips parting in their expression in order to allow for an artificially contented sigh to escape.

Everyone's so wrong about this guy. No one knows John Logan like she does. And, you know, that's not even so much of a lie as it is another unfortunate truth.

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