Yours to Lose


logan_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Yours to Lose
Synopsis Sasha meets with Logan for the first time after his informal induction into Messiah.
Date July 28, 2010

Sheung Wan Kitchen

Puddle water from rain of a couple of days back, standing on concrete and undrained from clogged gutters, twinkles the fairy neon lights of Rookery advertising. Scattered and splashed a second later from tires slicing through the peaceful, reflective surface in a brief spray that fails to dampen Logan's pant leg, being astride the Vespa that cruises down the street. Once, the spectacle of his be-suited, be-ascotted self astride the blue vehicle would have been familiar, but now it's relatively strange and irregular. A mainlander now, Logan only visits the Rookery when he has to.

And currently, it's the most convenient location for a meeting, as a late afternoon begins to turn into night, sunglasses a little needless by the time he arrives with the dark purple tint reflecting the signage of the Sheung Wan Kitchen. This place, and others like it, was once more densely packed than it is now, a ghost town vibe slowly creeping in as people chance New Jersey in the wake of the reclamation zone, or jump the river like his pinstripe clad self.

He remains perched once parked, cigarette case already in hand but only contemplatively flicking the catch back and forth, as if debating starting before his nerves can frazzle as opposed to after. The suit is black with veins of gold in mockery of the formal thread of pinstripe, shirt more sedately coal-toned and collar open to the silken red scarf that disappears into it.

One of the benefits of having a metabolism as high as Sasha's is his capability to gorge himself without suffering any long-term consequences, and this is very lucky for him because when Sasha's upset — he eats.

He eats a lot.

The carcass of half a roast goose, its bones stripped of their flaky meat, occupies a large portion of his table on the other side of the restaurant's front windows, easily within Logan's immediate view, but it shares the space with a half-eaten bowl of fried rice, hardboiled eggs cooked in soy sauce and plate of steamed dumplings that he's currently in the process of obliterating one doughy heap at a time.

If Logan was sitting across from him at the table — and if he decides to go through with this, he will be very shortly — he might be embarrassed to be seen in public with the Russian, and not because he's drunk on cheap Chinese beer. No: the pair of chopsticks provided with his meal sit untouched at his side. He's been using his fingers.

This is becoming a habit. Next time: meet Sasha in a martini bar. One can only eat so many olives or pickled baby onion. Vespa parked, Logan moves into the restaurant with a faint smirk towards the person manning the counter, waving away the expectant stare cast his way as he bypasses menu and help and heads for Sasha's table. The air holds unusual scents of spices and things charred and boiled, and being someone with simple tastes in food, this is largely unappealing — the most ethnic food Logan attempts might be pizza, curry at a 24/7 Malaysian stand, or fancy helpings of fusion sushi.

He comes to stand table side, rather than invite himself to sit, glancing over the spread set before the Russian before absently picking up the untouched chopsticks, jimmying them out of the fine paper that covers the splintery wood, and delicately snapping them apart for want of something to do with his hands, having already put away his cigarettes.

"Gluttony's a sin."

"And if I am not Catholic?" asks Sasha. He squeezes a dumpling between his fingers until it bursts, pulverized fish meat with a texture like porridge oozing across the back of his hand, then pushes it into his mouth, puffs out his cheeks and licks the filling off his knuckles. Either he has the courtesy to chew with his mouth closed or it's already so full that the food will come spilling back out if he doesn't.

A swig from the dark green bottle with a frothy lip washes it down. He cleans the front of his teeth with his tongue. "You should eat," he suggests. "Put on fat. You are skinny as matchsticks." And as he speaks, his server is emerging from the kitchen proper with a deep, steaming bowl of soup with pieces of yam and dates floating in its fragrant broth. The Russian gestures for her to set it down in front of the seat opposite him and points to his beer with two fingers. He'll have another, please and thank you. Also: one for his friend.

There is a second that passes, there, where Logan looks about ready to fling chopsticks into the soy-soaked bowl at Sasha's elbow, regardless of (or because of the potential for) splashing and go take his cigarette outside in wait for the other man to be done. But if not the fresh bowl of food set down, maybe it's the offer of beer that has flare of inexplicable temper subsiding. Nudging out his chair with his ankle, Logan sits down heavily, poking chop sticks into the soup to lean against the lip, for now, as he sets about shrugging off his jacket, warm as it is in here, down to the hugging waist-coat beneath it.

Starts unbuttoning his shirt cuffs, too, to delicately roll them up partway his forearms. "I'm choosing the venue next time," he states, "and all this is on you." In a mood, apparently — might have paid to smoke after all, or at least make a start.

If Sasha objects, it doesn't show on his scruffy face, bits of bean paste stuck in the thick bristles of his beard. He scrubs at them with his wrist. At the end of the day, food is food; as long as Logan chooses a venue with a menu, he has few complaints. Whether or not he has the money in his pockets to pay for this feast is another question entirely, but it's one that will have to be answered before he stands up from the table.

If he stands up from the table. Leaning back in his seat, he reaches down to unbutton the top of his jeans and relieve some of the pressure building around his gut. A belch blown through his nostrils has him immediately relaxing as his hand sweeps back his sweaty bangs and shows off a line of thick black stitches where his hair meets his scalp.

"They dropped me off a cliff," is a mild exaggeration, but full of conviction.

"I'm about to drop you off a fucking cliff in a minute."

This, spoken rather neutrally in contrast to curt words, pale eyes regarding the display across from him until that prior attempt at patience snaps. Fuckit. The chair scrapes as Logan reverses out from the table, abandoning his mission with his cuffs— which he'd paused just to watch— as he sweeps back up his jacket. Fortunately, on Staten Island, there's no law about drinking out on the street, and the waitress is already on her way back with two chilled beers. "I know Russia doesn't have much going for it, but I'm sure it has some manners.

"I'll meet you outside." He plucks the bottle up off approaching serving tray, leaving behind his steaming bowl possibly to be tossed out, possibly for Sasha's consumption. Either way, he already has a cigarette clenched between teeth as he makes an exit, only getting rid of it to take a pull of beer once he steps out into the summer evening air. Replaces it to free up a hand for his search for a light.

He can't hear what Sasha is saying from where he stands, but he can see the other man pressing the palms of his hands together, mouth moving around an imploring apology meant for his server as she flicks the dark, startled eyes of a deer between him and Logan's shadowy silhouette outside. Maybe it has to do with the Englishman's behaviour — much more likely, it's about the amount of cash he's carrying, because only a few moments of stilted silence pass on her end before he receives a swift slap for his efforts.

Less than a minute later, she's escorting him to the door by the collar of his jacket and slamming it behind him with enough force to rattle the windows and set nearby windchimes swinging.

She was kind enough, at least, to let him keep his beer. "Budem," he mutters, raising his bottle to Logan. Cheers.

Yeah thought so, is what a raised eyebrow might articulate, and Logan takes another deep swig of beer that he didn't have to pay for. A glance to his scooter, before he settles his back against brickwall despite the red silk that clads it over his black shirt, just visible at the shoulders where it stitches into a seam that connects it with the black and gold pinstripe. He is, quite clearly, considering being vocal about whatever offense he took, versus considering some point made.

It's curiousity that wins out. "So. They dropped you off a cliff. That's a right proper hazing." Olive branch though this conversation prompts could be, his voice is removed from the picking, imploring tone he usually uses, and lifts up his cigarette to inhale smoke, cheekbones pronounced.

"Accident," says Sasha, not necessarily in defense of his new colleagues. He's wearing the same clothes Logan last saw him in, and the likelihood of him having washed them between meetings is about as strong as him passing a breathalyzer test. "Americans. Revolution runs in their blood, but two hundred years— it turns it to water. Dilute."

He tips his head from one side to the other and gives a rolling shrug of his shoulders to release some of the tension he's accumulated in the muscles there, still sore from the punishment his ride down the embankment in an Institute coffin put him through. "It is too bad," he adds. "I was looking forward."

Sympathy is difficult to wring from Logan at the best of times, and a shoulder lifts minutely in reply. "The terrorists have plenty of fun in this city. It'll get interesting soon, I'm sure." Between them, ash is flicked to land and dwindle out its embers near Sasha's shoes, beer bottle held loosely in his other hand. "And if not, then there's always that Frontline ridiculousness she's got lined up for you. That coming along?"

Sasha kicks at the embers with the toe of his boot, demeanor growing darker and dour. All Logan had to say was the word Frontline. Blue eyes downcast, he makes a noncommittal sound at the back of his throat as he clears it, leans a shoulder into the restaurant's brick exterior and turns his head just enough to watch Logan's reflection in the glass.

"Uniforms," he says uneasily, as if one word could sum up how he feels about that half of Sarisa's offer with perfect clarity. "Aleksandr Kozlow is dead and I do not want to be another someone. I do not want my mother to think I would abandon her or Tania. When will you speak with them?"

There's a beat of consideration instead of immediate answer, Logan pausing to blow out a stream of smoke as he considers the near empty, darkening street, before pushing his weight off the building's wall. Sasha can watch him consider the other man, before the fairy light of cigarette end zigzags in the air in gesticulation. "I won't be speaking to them," he notes. "But I've someone in mind who will, once I get Tania's papers sorted out. She'll go on our behalves, although you should give a…"

Another gesture, breaking apart the fine ribbon of smoke that had been steadfastly forming. "A token, or something. A letter, maybe. To go with. I've still to arrange exactly where she goes once she gets here. It's a lot of work, you realise." His voice goes abruptly steely and pointed, an attempted barb directed at the other man, though half-hearted for what it is.

Sasha doesn't flinch, but Logan may detect an abrupt tightening around his jaw and the corners of his eyes just before they close. Remorse is not an emotion that his features contort around, and yet there's something unmistakably rueful and unhappy about the way he continues to avoid meeting Logan's gaze. He takes another swig of beer to bolster is courage, then—

"I do not think a letter will help." His voice sounds hollow in the bottle. Faintly yellowed teeth click against glass and he teases it with his lips to stall. "She refuses to see me."

Possibly, this is something he should have brought up before.

A flick of long fingers has the cigarette spiralling away to land in bilgey puddle nearby, Logan pulling back his shoulders in some visible effort of restraint, although he does not school his expression from that first flash of incredulous through to harder, bridled frustration. "Oh, fantastic," he starts, beer sloshing in its glass container as he gestures with it. "So what is it you suggest I do, then? Get her kidnapped and smuggle her via freight container from Russia to Alaska? See if some rent-a-bride operation is looking to recruit?

"Fuck it. You tell me what should work. Alternatively, you can write a very convincing letter, or otherwise get used to your new uniform."

If Sasha had the ears of his namesake Skoll, they'd be pressed flat against his skull and his hackles bristling. Instead, he has to settle for finally lifting his eyes to Logan's face and fixing him with a stare sharper than he probably intends for it to be. No curl of lip this time, however. The threat of being forced into the clothes Sarisa Kershner would provide him with if she had things entirely her way hangs over his shaggy head, keeping him in line.

"I will write your letter."

Sharp stare is met and equaled — if there's anything Logan is good at, that would be among his talents. It's broken only to glance down at beer to assess how much is left, and take a sip that follows with the back of his hand to press to his mouth, to wipe away gathered dampness. With that, he steps closer, let's his voice ease quieter. "Explain the situation, or something like it. Tell her she's in danger without it being a threat. After that, it's yours to lose, and if you fuck it up, it's on you."

He doesn't state, explicitly, that a tool of the government can only be so useful to him, and Logan wasn't even willing to pay for dinner tonight. Maybe it's not entirely the case, or maybe a useful tool isn't the only attraction, because he closes his mouth against this argument.

If explaining the situation was something that Sasha was good at, chances are he would have made the effort with Logan before turning himself over to Homeland Security. He presses a feeble breath through his front teeth as if starting to an attempt an explanation, but doesn't get any further than that.

"Three months and then November," he says instead. "What will be will be, but if I stay with these messiahs, maybe I know something. Maybe I find my way to keep you and Tania safe from the things the city sees. It does not have to be all for the Kershner woman."

"Let me know what you find before it hits Kershner's desk, would you?" Logan agrees, after a finishing swig of beer is polished off, and he pitches it away much like his cigarette. Not with enough force to shatter — the glass bounces, rolls into clogged gutter to rattle away, lable flashing intermittently with each roll. "When life gives you lemons, make a profit, and all that." Not exactly how it goes, actually, John, but might as well.

There's a glance back at his Vespa, then a calculating eye towards where the Red Lotus glows a corner pinkish in the dwindled evening light. Shooters is over there, too, but he doesn't move from his spot as he looks back at Sasha. "Safe. So glad you care. Where will you get to finish a meal without my credit card."

"Pozhaluysta, John." You're welcome. He watches Logan's bottle bump against the curb and go still, and does not take his eyes off it until it's been that way long enough to convince him it won't start moving again. This is roughly the amount of time it takes him to pull in a slow, shuddery breath through flaring nostrils.

"I will be at the Stage on your Saturday," he says. "If I am well enough and the competition is good there will be money for us both with or without your cat-glow." It's an invitation, albeit a quietly resentful one. Logan's brushed against a sore spot. "I do not need your credit card to eat."

Then what do you need me for? is on the tip of his tongue, but maybe the answer is somewhat lacking, and maybe Logan doesn't want Sasha to think that hard. Instead, he manages a small and still chilled smile at the other man, fleeting amusement at cat-glow that could almost be flattered — hey, the man is ESL, it must take effort to think up descriptions. "Then I suppose I shall see you Saturday," he primly settles on, chin lifting, with a lack of said cat-glow for all that it's so tempting to apply it.

Adverse effects being something of a demotivator, too. "Meantime, I think I'm going to go sleep with something, for all that I remember when it was my competition." Now he steps back, a final retreat, leather shoes scraping concrete in a turn in an effort to make the most of his Rookery venture. "Cheers," he adds as a parting words, headed for where brothels cast the brighter lights.

Sleeping with something sounds really nice. Sasha will have to settle for a cot and the sound of construction at Howland Hook where he's staying until Peter Petrelli has time for a proper audience for him. The temptation Logan felt to exert his power may be similar to what the Russian is experiencing right now, but what he wants is to trot along at his employer's heels and borrow a whore or two for himself.

Doesn't. Can't. And not only because he's unable to afford it. Ultimately, he drains what's left of his beer and pitches the bottle against the wall of the building adjacent to the Kitchen, finding release in the sound it makes on impact, the tinkling shards of glass that rain down onto the pavement and their crunching chorus beneath his boots as he cuts across the alley's mouth.
The glittering heap is someone else's mess to clean up.

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