Upstairs, Two Doors Down


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Scene Title Upstairs, Two Doors Down
Synopsis Logan summons Muldoon to his office to discuss business.
Date Janaury 21, 2009

The Happy Dagger

The Happy Dagger is little-known brothel in the rougher parts of Staten Island. It has a vague Middle Eastern theme, although women of all ethnicities are welcome to seek employment. It's a bright spot on a street with similar venues, lit up with lights of pink, red and orange, with a neon sign in cursive print reading its name.

It's a place of incense, silks and smoke, accessorized women in Hollywood-exotic makeup, with no specific bent towards Evolved or non-Evolved. If there's a hierarchy among the employees, it's kept mysterious save for the woman who runs the front room. Otherwise, Logan is the first and last person they answer to.

You may also notice that the man enjoying a drink in the corner hasn't gotten up in a while, and another prowling around outside hasn't moved from this street. The security is kept discreet and unobtrusive, but it certainly is there. Never mind the police car making rounds every now and then - it's on the pay roll too.

You play the roles you were given.

Their eyes don't meet, in the dark. He's not interested in looking at her and the feeling is mutual. She says sweet things, she touches with tenderness, she acts like she enjoys it and well, in some ways, she doesn't hate it. Light flickers from the candles and incense burns in the air, a cheap scent that smells mostly of smoke than whatever it was meant to masquerade as. There is music from downstairs, footsteps in the hallway, the sounds of voices, wordless and not. She closes her eyes and wishes that maybe she could disappear.

With enough make up, enough men, enough money, she could disappear.

She accepts the fluttery bank notes and and he leaves, shutting the lockless door behind him. She reaches out to turn on the lamp, count out the money earned and shove it into a drawer. A silk bathrobe is pulled on, tying off at the waist, and she buries her head in her hands. She regrets last night, out of all the nights she's been here. Already, in her attempt to be nobody, she's given herself away.

And downstairs, two men enter the building entitled The Happy Dagger.

Logan leads the way, casting a familiar smile to the woman of the front room, who simply waves her hand and lets he and his companion through. Warm lights glow over the richly furnished room, and music of some sort of Westernised ethnic variety beats loudly from the bar-area, where men flirt with women under no pretences whatsoever. He stops a woman on her way there, her makeup freshly painted, all glitter and faux-jewelry, and he whispers something into her ear. Over the din, Muldoon will be able to hear, "She's upstairs, two doors down."

"Come on, then, let's talk first," Logan says over his shoulder, making for the winding staircase, away from all the activity to the quieter, upper echelons of the brothel, the cheap lighting glinting off his leather jacket as they go.

Up on Muldoon's shoulder, Tabaqui the squirrel monkey surveys his surroundings like a Roman emperor upon his throne, head held high, black eyes bright and alert with quiet intelligence. The expression on his master's face is much the same. Muldoon is a familiar sight at the Happy Dagger, though he rarely comes here to visit the women this establishment employs — more often than not, his destination is Logan's office, his reasons for visiting grounded in business rather than pleasure.

"You know I never pay for my company, John," he murmurs as a gentle reminder, falling into step about half a pace behind his companion. A short glance is spared to his surroundings before they approach the stairs, but that is all; Tabaqui serves as his eyes and ears so he can give Logan his full attention. "What is it you want to talk about?"

"Business." Isn't it always? Logan glances over his shoulder at Muldoon. "And not mine, actually. Come along." And up the wooden spiral staircase, the lights growing dimmer, a little more sedated once they reach the hallway. There is a claustraphobic feeling about this place, the opulent design and colour scheme doing nothing to prevent this, and even Logan's office, for all the space is takes up, has its windows closed and curtains drawn.

It's far quieter in this room, at least, and it's absolutely no typical office. Not a desk in sight, it seems more like a lounge, with a small bar set up for himself, colourful rugs covering the scuffed wooden floors, and a couple of comfortable seats pushed into the corner. "Would you like a drink?" Logan peels off his leather jacket, hanging it up and gesturing towards the sofas, indicating that Muldoon is free to make himself comfortable.

Muldoon removes his jacket as well, a woolen greatcoat, and drapes it across the back of the nearest chair while Tabaqui curls up on the seat for a quick nap — he knows this office almost as well as Muldoon does, and associates it with long stretches of time where there is nothing else to do but close his eyes and rest, waiting until his master is finished conducting business and ready to once again brave the blustery weather outside.

"No, thank you," Muldoon says. "I think I've had quite enough for the evening already." Instead, he produces a box of matches and cigarette tin from the inside of his discarded coat. One vice in exchange for another. "Your women are rubbing off on you, you know," he comments idly. "You're turning into quite the cocktease these days."

Logan allows himself an easy chuckle at the comment, pouring himself a drink, a low helping of straight bourbon, before moving to lean against one elaborately wallpapered wall. "Well my women do know how to get what they want at the best of times. Taking a leaf out of their books can't be such a bad idea," he drawls in his partially affected accent, a flicker of a smirk showing, before he nods a little. Get to the point. Even his accent lowers a class as he does so. "One of mine would do better, I think, as one of yours. You know I don't like to get involved too much and the idea of me— giving people to you, well. It's bad for business, innit?"

Muldoon raises both his eyebrows at Logan in response. If he hadn't piqued his curiosity before, then he has now. "You want something from me in exchange," he agrees. "I understand. What are you after, John? Money? A favour? Something else entirely?" He strikes a match against the side of the box, filling the air with heat and a brief flash of sulfur before using the flame to light a cigarette. "I need to know what you're offering me before I can even begin to consider what I might be willing to part with. What's so special about her?"

A bite of bourbon is downed, Logan's features twisting a little as it goes. "Let me put it this way to you," he says, moving to lean against a bit of furniture. "I like money, but I like favours even more. The girls says she's got a healing touch, but…" Logan glances away briefly, a gesture of annoyance. The next two words come out clipped and unabashedly resentful: "She doesn't." A hand goes up, as if to silence an argument. "However, she brought one of mine back from the dead nearly, some prat with— fuck, I don't know. Poisonous touch-kinesis." Who is probably in a ditch somewhere, now. "Sent a girl into a seizure and a coma straight after. How's that sound to you."

Muldoon seems to consider, his face drawn into a neutral mask. Favours can be worth more than money, depending on who's doing the asking — from John Logan, nonspecifics are a steep price. "All right," he says after a short nod, giving the other man a small nod of assent. "That sounds fair, but one caveat. It doesn't work out? You take her back, no questions asked." Blue eyes, half-lidded, watch Logan from the other side of the room. Muldoon takes a long drag from his cigarette then blows the smoke out through his nostrils, awaiting an answer.

A sneer pulls at Logan's mouth, perhaps at the notion of trading people around in such a way, but he doesn't protest. "Fine," he says, with a gesture of his glass, sliding back the bourbon once and for all before setting it down with a sharp clink, wood against crystal. "But you'll owe me if she does. If not, don't worry - we'll get you something better. Considering how fast you go through yours, I figure you'll need it." A pause, then he tilts his head towards the door. "D'you want to meet her, then?"

A slight tremor twitches through Muldoon's fingers, visible as a quiver at the very tip of his burning cigarette. Perhaps he takes exception to Logan's remark about the rate at which he goes through 'his', or maybe he's just getting on in years and developing a nervous tic. "Of course." With any luck, she'll want to meet him as well. If not— he and Logan will have other things they'll need to discuss before they close the deal. "Two doors down from the top of the stairs, is that right?"

"That's right," Logan says, moving to lounge upon one of the sofas by the closed off windows, the spots of light from the outside world making hazy patterns against the silk and chiffon. "She's on the clock, too." He casts Muldoon a fairly brilliant smile, green eyes alight with humour. "If you ever care to live a little, mate, do feel free. This place and everyone in it is in your debt at the end of the day. Either way, try be nice, yeah?"

"Whenever am I not?" Cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, Muldoon gives Logan a wry look and moves toward the office door, leaving his coat and Tabaqui behind. The monkey, half-asleep on the seat of the sofa, cracks one eye open when he hears the door hinges creak but does not so much as lift his head — Muldoon will be back, he always is.

A moment later, the door has shut again and the sound of Muldoon's retreating footsteps echo through the hall outside, eventually fading away into nothing, though the pungent odor of tobacco and something like old leather still lingers.

Logan watches as Muldoon leaves, a short silence within the room not so far after. He then looks towards the dozing monkey on the couch, and gives him a smile. Then, he picks up an unlit candle, one of the many that senseless adorn the lavish room, and with a sudden abruptness, throws it at the animal, the stick of wax pinwheeling through the air and bouncing off the furniture a few inches away from Tabaqui. "Get the fuck off my furniture," he snaps at the creature, before relaxing again, rather quickly shifting from that burst of petulant anger to calm. "'Cocktease'," he mutters, now ignoring the presence of the monkey altogether. "Yeah, well. Never say I don't do anything for you, James."

The sound of footsteps approaching makes the woman look up from where she'd been studying her barefeet against the carpet, and as the door creaks open, she gets to her feet, sweeping a curtain of brown hair back from her face, plastering on a smile.

"Evenin'," she murmurs, gaze darting nervously over the man that had appeared in the doorway unannounced, clutching her robe closed as she prepares herself for an ordeal that won't come.

We all have our roles to play.

January 21st: Hospitality

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…
Like Violent Strippers

January 21st: What The Grapevine Spilled
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