This Little Piggy


logan_icon.gif mu-qian_icon.gif

Scene Title This Little Piggy
Synopsis was sold for a few thousand dollars. And soon, there will be none.
Date June 5, 2009

Staten IslandThe Pancratium

Cover charge. Security guards. Big damn cage with packed-dirt floor, signs of use marring the bars - burn marks, ice marks, dents. Hooks curve wickedly, a few from each cage wall, sometimes bare, sometimes holding rudimentary weapons.

First front row shows sign of similar ruin, often empty of people, crowd pushed back and around the cage. They cheer, they pass money back and forth, they call out requests like CRUSH or KILL or DECAPITATE. A surrounding balcony is filled with those who don't wish to rub elbows with the lower class of gamblers down below, safely away from the danger.

Welcome to the Pancratium. This is a temporary desc. Deal.

Not so long ago, James Muldoon lost a lot of business in this very same booth. This evening, it's occupied by Logan who misses him very much, but his thoughts aren't straying to the absent businessman of their former dynamic duo. Tonight, his mind is limiting itself to small things. The fact he has money riding on telekinetic warrior doing battle in the cage, and the fact he's bleeding more than Logan would like.

Until the opponent of metal skin is thrown bodily against the bars, head just a few inches shy of one of the hooks still dry of blood. Sharply, the pimp brings his palms together twice in a far more dignified show of approval than the cheering crowd beneath them, fists in the air and surging cries as tempestuous as a storming ocean surface. Good show, and all that. Die already or Logan will be out a few hundred quid more than he can afford nowadays.

Not that that he looks it, in his tailored suit and silken tie, red on black, and one polished shoe rests casually against the edge of the box seating. He makes a contrast to his companion, who goes ignored for the time being, the pimp's boyish attention on the violence currently going down. He brings up a hand to gnaw a little on a thumb nail, drawing it away again only to mutter, "Come on, you useless— "

She hates this shit. Honestly. If ladies talked like that, Mu-Qian would say this aloud, but generally she is far too dignified and polite for that sort of thing.

Mu-Qian is John's companion for the evening. She is wearing a white dress, empire-waisted and a siege of sunburst pleats arrayed down over her hips, a glut of ermine fur in vividly velvet accents cowled around her neck for warmth. White on white. Her shoes are white, too. Of course.

Mourning has its fashions; tradition and honor dictate so, and even during business and pleasure, she does not forget. Seated in a similarly privileged vantage point, she gazes down with her unduly prissy disgust barely contained behind the refined arcs and dainty sculpture of her features. Really, she is in the wrong line of work. Or the entirely correct one, depending on how one regards the responsibility of genetically-programmed healers to confer their gift upon others. Masochism is inherent in having a knack for repairing broken things. She has repaired those two barbarians once and thrice before.

It hasn't escaped her, that Logan's enthusiasm has been carrying harsher notes these days than they ever had before. A coincidence of financial misfortune that is advantageous for her case. "Tianxin," she decides to start. Sweetheart. "I would like to make a purchase from you.

"One of your girls. Her contract," Mu-Qian clarifies, kindly. When the telekinetic below slips and stumbles crossing a sticky spatter of blood, that is advantageous for her case as well, but less of a coincidence. His leg is acting up, though he doesn't realize it; not yet. It was only a twitch, to test a theory.

The coaxing of his attention only first gains a glance, dismissal of the female element of companionship; an accessory, for all intents and purposes, although Logan didn't think awfully hard on why she wanted to go with him. Beyond the obvious, being that she likes him, naturally. Her words, though. A wince crosses Logan's face as his fighter goes down, and the other takes the opportunity as only can be expected - not something Logan feels the need to witness, gaze studying Mu-Qian's face for the clues that are rarely ever there.

"Now what would you want with a girl that I wouldn't?" It's a rhetorical question, attention going forward again, watching with desensitised interest as a chain is telekinetically brought whipping around in an attempt to catch the ankle of the silver-skinned warrior. It almost works, close enough that Logan's back straightens in its slouch for just a moment. False alarm. From this distance, Logan could twist the odds into his favour, similarly, but the last thing he needs is a horde of angry gamblers joining the other lynch mobs out there. Too many people want a taste of Logan's blood. For a hunted man, he's rather relaxed, and his next question is casually interested.

"Which one?"

Her husband used to be similarly blase about everything. IEDs, snipers, the Red Army's telepathic assassins, the IRS, and the cat that kept peeing on her hydrangias until she nagged him enough to do something about it. She likes John Logan. Obviously.


Mu-Qian watches the fight too, with thinly veneered aversion that should not be mistaken for sympathy. "Barbara." Not her real name, or even the one that she'd answer to soonest, but the one that is penned in on the contract, both the disposably meaningless bit of paper that bears farcical boast to legitimacy and the small, incidental, life-altering event that had engendered the rechristening. Before Barbara's life belonged to men, she'd had such a fine one in it.

Maybe Mu-Qian can sympathize. Probably. She probably doesn't. There is a distant noise of bone rupturing. Her eyelids shutter a cricket-winged beat. "The ability to walk," she answers belatedly, quirking a smile that is almost wry enough to remind of the other Englishman who once reigned this box. "She does good work for both of us."

He'd picked the name, so he should know it. Logan's forehead creases when he raises an eyebrow. Business, employees, money, these things that have a tenuous connection to the breaking of bones and flesh all those feet away from them; they take priority, wheels turning behind pale green eyes and an expression which, if it would be read of anything, it would real of being unsettled.

Masked, mainly. Logan's hand curl towards his face for absent nail nibbling now rakes fingernails down his mostly shaven jaw. "You've talked to her about this," he concludes, eyes narrowed. There's a scream that pierces over the crowds, heralding Logan's lighter wallet in a few short minutes, but he pays it no mind, for now. "What, does she want to leave?"

Who could possibly! She is fed, sheltered, and certainly watered, and in a sense, his. Cat claws stuck into a favourite toy is less important than finance, but enough to have him hesitate. Stubbornness shows in the angle of his brow.

"I didn't talk to her about this," Mu-Qian contradicts in her familiar accent, with a flickery dismissal of her fingers that somewhat resembles the lash of an offended cat's tail. Not that there's any shame in her discussing business with Bebe, of course; that is all they do, whenever it isn't about— shiitake mushrooms, or color of eyeshadow, this or that brand name, what that bitchy little bartender blonde said, and it's all important, really.

There's a spare beat's thought. "You could be right," she concedes after a moment, as if she hadn't honestly thought about it, and it is only now that this token revelation might seem relevant. "She could want to leave. I do not think so. I want her to." Mu-Qian finally settles on this in a tone of conclusion, leaning back in her seat. Plastic and stuffed velour creak. Her ermine ruffles when she lifts a slender shoulder. Either because of a shortage of fluency or because business has left her lackadaisical with words, she keeps her reciprocal curiosity (suspicion) to a single monosyllable.

"Why?" Money is money.

At this revelation, Logan's head cants a little to the side, suspicion still there but ultimately— ultimately. He relaxes back into his seat, steers his gaze frontwards as the man with steel skin makes his victory rounds. No doubt Mu-Qian will be dragged off to clean up the mess currently being helped out of the cage, and Logan has money to part with, and so the economy of the Rookery continues.

"Just asking," is his snipped off answer, natural accent turning that 'g' into a harder sound, far more foreign than the casual American tendency to drop it all together. "Viv's been saying she hasn't been pulling in any clients, anyway. Made sense, if she came to you, ever since Jack broke her little heart. Doesn't matter. If you can afford her, she's all yours." As is the usual way.

Discarding, rather than being discarded, fits far neater into Logan's world view. He even appears more comfortable. "Got money on the pyro coming up, then maybe you and I can peruse a bit've paperwork," he says, with a smile in her direction, one that remains far, far away from green eyes that are usually far, far away.

She can sew up the armor-skinned man up while he's watching his pyrokinetic hurl bolts of incinerating light at people. Second verse same as the first, and every other fight night that Mu-Qian has ever watched the little lord spectate over since she has come to know him, a pattern solidly hammered out and repeatedly shoved together and welded into something continuous, despite all of the trouble and change that's found the Rookery over the course of the few precious months of their acquaintance.

Muldoon ran, yellow bastard he is. Jack has absconded with his unpaid debt and all. Bebe might follow, given the option. The Happy Dagger and Pancratium still stand, but with the number of predators circling in want of Logan's head served cold on silver, that, too, seems dubious. It is all highly irregular, isn't it? She gestures her acquiescence with a minute movement of her eyes and a pleasant absence of argument. It seems to be the season for the casting off of old things. One might wonder whether body from soul is next for John Logan.

That would be natural, too. Still, Mu-Qian means it when she says, kindly, and not to be mistaken for response to earlier questions: "I will be here." She stands up, flipping a plushy lock of ermine fur over his shoulder with an immaculately china-boned hand. "We should have dinner. You're thin underneath your eyes."

He tracks her movement upwards, puzzled by her departure for only a second but he doesn't give it much thought beyond that. She's a medic, and all. A thin silvery cigarette holder is extracted from the silky black confines of his jacket, one bone-white stick nudged out and captured by his teeth. The thumbnail flicker of a lighter comes next, a flimsy flame compared to the pyrotechnics about to be unleashed in a few moments.

Somewhere on the wall of the Pancratium, there is a square of preserved cleanliness on grimy concrete where a no smoking sign used to be nailed. There's a moment of a smile. "Dinner it is," he says, around the cigarette which comes to be gripped loose between fingers, letting the curls of acrid smoke funnel out along with his words, and seems good to leave it there, at departure.

But then as Mu-Qian goes to step away, impulsion has Logan reaching out and snagging her arm, a hand around her thin wrist, and there's strength there like he's about to pull her back. He doesn't, and seems to notice what he's doing around the time his palm slides up the inner of her arm, fingernails making their presence known only faintly, and serotonin reaches subtle hands to tug and steer Mu-Qian's mood into something warmer.

But whatever it was Logan was going to say— that seems gone, by now, green eyes up to evaluate her face. A request, of some kind, confirmation, but it never gets put to words. "See you in a bit, then," he winds up dismissing, hand loosening.

Discarding, rather than being discarded, because that fits easier into his worldview. Mu-Qian's smile changes slightly, goes rueful, as sociopaths are wont to do when warmed. The loosening of his hand is denied by a touch from her own hand to his forehead, her thumb resting briefly on the smooth and pristinely-moisturized convex of skin where the third eye resides, brushing the subtle seam of skull up to the mingled color of his hairline gently, as if there is a secret there. Maybe even one worth knowing.

"Zaijian," she says, sweetly. "Good luck. Spend wisely." Taking her hand back, she turns in a swing of skirts as daintily ponderous as the spin of stars through the sky that continues somewhere above the exposured plumbing and scarred concrete of the Pancratium's ceiling. There is a cadent click of heels as she leaves, inclining her coiffed head at the non-entity bodyguard posted to the right as she passes by.

He watches her go, as is universally typical for male eyes to track the swish of the woman's skirt as she walks away, along with the movement of curves underneath. It reminds Logan to scrape together some coins to buy her something white, as he hasn't done that in a while. And the thought's gone a moment later as he moves to lean elbows against the edges of the box platform when the screech of the cage doors below opening win back his attention.

The flames aren't hellish yellow and gold, but gas-stove blue, and Logan allows himself to concentrate on the small things once again, although no doubt the shadows back at home will have something to say about other lingering doubts.

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