Bogarting

Participants:

niki_icon.gif ray_icon.gif tuck_icon.gif

Scene Title Bogarting
Synopsis There's no nostalgia for the old days, no matter how simple things were.
Date March 19, 2018

Red Hook Market: Tuck's Office


The more things change, the more they stay the same. Gilbert Tucker might not run a pawn shop anymore, but that doesn't mean he's gotten over his pack-rat pawnie instincts. His office in the rabbit warren that is the Red Hook Market has built-in shelves stacked full of all sorts of bits and bobs. His personal quarters are likewise full of teetering piles of this-or-that. He does not, however, collect junk. All of it is kept with a purpose, and that purpose is need or resale value. He's always had an eye for the diamonds in the rough - the nut to fit just the right bolt.

He's currently evading another teetering pile - paperwork, and has instead ripped apart an old boom box. It's hard to tell if he's trying to fix it or just break it down for parts. Or maybe it started as A and moved to B. There's music playing from another source - an old CD player. Of all things, it's an album of Michael Buble' singing jazz standards. He's always been a fan of the old standards, even if he dresses like a classic rock guy.

The door to Tuck's office opens without a knock. There are only so many people bold or oblivious enough to do that. Niki Zimmerman is the former. "Check this out!" The blonde is excited as she pushes into the room, sliding the strap of a long canvas sack off her shoulder. She sets it carefully down in a chair in front of the desk. "I hit the salvage jackpot today," she explains as she starts to dig through her day's haul. "I found one of those old Lane cedar chests. Those things are built like bomb shelters. Well, this one's not in great shape anymore, but the things inside it were."

From the bag, Niki produces a laptop and charging cable. "The chest was a pain to dig out and crack open, but check this out! I bet it'll even still work if we plug it in." Niki flashes Tuck a grin. Her prize fits both categories, need and resale value.

As the recent discoveries from the cedar chest are revealed, there comes upon the door a knocking - as opposed to when Niki just opened it and walked in, a tripartate rapping of callused knuckles.

"Hey," calls the voice of one Richard Ray, "You in, Tucker?" Outside the door, he's out of the suit and into his street clothes. Nobody glances twice at a jacket and BDUs in the street, not if they don't draw attention to themselves. Sometimes he needs that.

Tuck looks up from his radio-turned-rubble pile as Niki enters. He lets out a low whistle. "Well lookit that. Even if it's busted, there's some market for parts, especially if the battery's any good. You tried to charge 'er up?" He digs around in the pile of things to snag up a can of tomato juice. He shakes it, discovers it empty, then tosses it aside.

He peers up when he hears the voice. "Uh oh. Here comes trouble. C'mon in former Birdman. Mind the gap, mind the gap."

"Not yet, I—" Niki turns to look at the door when it's knocked on. When she hears the familiar voice, she smiles brightly. Tucking the laptop under her arm, she moves back to the door to open it up. "Well, well, well. Look who's here." The computer is set aside on one of the shelves, a hand out and lingering for just a moment to make sure it's steady before she offers a hug to her former employer. "Trouble's always welcome around here."

Ray's head lifts as the door opens, his hand braced on the frame in a casual lean. A broad grin splits his expression at the sight of the blonde, and he steps in to return that hug, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her in warmly for a moment. "Trouble knows trouble, after all," he teases, leaning back a bit and looking to her with a warm smile, "Damn good to see you, Nik. And Tucker!" He reclaims his arm, stepping fully inside, "How goes life as a merchant baron these days, eh?"

"Merchant baron. Hm. That's a new one. Sounds like I should have a nicer damned apartment, don't it?" Tuck steps forward and offers his hand to shake. "Y'know, how the hell am I supposed to not call you Card, huh? I'm too old to learn new tricks. How's it going, big man? Gracing us peons with your presence? Where's your bodyguard?" He peers out the door, eyebrows lifted.

"Damn right," Niki says to Ray's assessment of trouble knowing its kind. Chuckling quietly, she steps back to lean against Tuck's desk while the men exchange greetings. "I'll have to add to your illustrious titles. Merchant baron will go nicely with grandmaster of commerce."

"You're the one who decided to set up in this old factory," Richard observes with a grin, his head shaking as he looks around the room, "Not that it was a bad idea. The market's a grand success, and this place… it's got history." Almost wistful, that, for a moment, "You're lucky that I didn't get to it first, honestly. " He reaches out to clasp the offered hand firmly, "And eh, I'm incognito today, no need for a bodyguard. I needed to get out for a bit, things have been— "

He shrugs, "— weird."

"We'll have to start adding them on a chalk board behind my desk. On second thought," Tuck does a 180 pretty quickly from that idea. "We got too many smartasses around here. Someone might make up an unflattering one that sticks." After the shake, he slaps Richard on the arm. "C'mon in. Find a seat, if ye dare." He picks up an armload of papers, looks around for a spot, sighs, then kind of carefully wedges them into a corner. "It's a grand success when people aren't robbing us and blaming little kids." Then, "When are are our lives not weird?" He motions around, at both of them, arms flapping up, then down.

"Seriously." Niki picks up her bag up off the chair and sets it down on the floor beside the desk. "Not sure you'll fine much normal around the two of us either." She shakes her head and gestures to the chair for Ray to have a seat. She'll maintain her perch against Tuck's desk.

"That's, I mean, that's fair." Richard squints around the room for a moment before the chair's revealed beneath Niki's bag, and as she sweeps her hand at it he drops down in an casual sprawl. One hand comes up, fingers raking back through his hair, "I heard, of course, about the food thefts." It hasn't effected Raytech of course. They have real money. "Some of my people are working on a future solution - hydroponics for the Safe Zone - but that's not going to help much in the short-term, I'm afraid."

Tuck drops bodily into his chair. It's one of those old wooden dealys you'd expect to see a noir detective in. Which is precisely why he, a fan of jazz, picked it off a heap of firewood. He spins around, staring at the ceiling, then stops. "Niki has heard this a million trillion times. SO many times she's probably gonna smack me. But I can't figure out how the hell I ended up in a position to be making decisions that affect more than just…" he points at himself.

"It's probably my fault." Pushing off from the desk, she moves around to the other side of it so she can stand behind Tuck's chair. Niki's hands rest on his shoulders and she dips down to drop a kiss on top of his head. "Sorry. But as I've said a million trillion times, you're not in this alone." Her brows lift as she looks across the desk to where Richard sits. "We have nine other people we can blame bad choices on."

Ray's lips tug up at one corner in a crooked smile. "I know the feeling," he admits, "Let me tell you, whoever thought I should be in charge of a billion-dollar company has to be crazy. Or I'd say they're crazy, but it was probably me, and it's just that nobody stopped me." The couple gets a grin, then, "Do you ever miss the old days? Just fencing shit on Staten Island, spending evenings at clubs…"

"Getting threatened by every two-bit gangster who thought he could make a rep by bullying the local pawnie. Hiding behind bulletproof glass to avoid Linderman's thugs. Struggling for food and potable water because supply chains dried up…oh wait!" Tuck snaps. "And that was before the world went to shit." Which is one of the reasons that he's done so well here. He had a trial run. He pauses to think, looking over at Niki, then back to the artist formally known as Cardinal. "Y'know, I honestly can't think of a period in my life that I feel actual nostalgia for. It's pretty much been a shit in different piles scenario."

Tuck's shoulders get a small squeeze. Silent reassurance. Yeah, shit's fucked, but I'm here with you. "Things are at least trending positive from here. Or they were before someone decided to steal our food." There's a moment where Tuck can feel Niki's hands warm - too warm - against his shoulders, betraying her anger, but it fades as quickly as it begins. "Hydroponics would be a good, sustainable solution. I expect you're going to bring a proposal before the council?"

"I will. Once my sister and the ogre that lives in the basement come up with a solid proposal, anyway," Richard replies with an easy tip of his head towards Niki, "And of course we'll have to be careful not to step on delicate Japanese toes." A part of him will always be irritated at giving away part of New York to Yamagato. He's a New Yorker through and through, in the end. His nose wrinkles a bit, then, and he accuses Tuck, "Killjoy. Hah. At least things were simple, then. I didn't have to wrap my brain around… things constantly. It was honest, in its unpleasant way."

"So's this," says Tuck as he motions around to his teetering mini-kingdom of bits and bobs. "It's a lot easier to get stuff done yourself, believe it or not. You see something that needs doing, you roll up your sleeves and you do." He reaches up to squeeze Niki's hand gently. "I dunno what kinda mess you got yourself in, mister billionaire. But down here in the trenches, things're pretty simple."

"S'how we got ourselves neck deep in this mess," Niki agrees. Maybe they could have gone somewhere else. The Midwest. Mexico or Canada. They could have gone anywhere but here. But here they are, and they're staying. "We do okay for ourselves. We'll do even better when I get my hands on whoever's trying to hurt our people." Grey-blue eyes close as she laces her fingers with Tuck's briefly. It's clear he keeps her centered.

Ray exhales a chuckle. "I'm glad of that. I hope it… stays that way," he says, watching the two with a smile for a moment before shaking his head, "You're lucky you two have each other- ah, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure the complicated stays over in my ballpark. You deserve some simple down here."

"The danger with simple is that it can turn into us versus them. And we see where that led us last time." Tuck sighs, dips his head, pushes plastic frames back up on his nose when they slip. "Didja just come by to say hi? Which is totally fine, by the way. Welcome anytime. But you're an important dude these days. I'm guessing there's some business? Not just possible hydroponics and pardon me if I don't hold my breath on that'un."

There's an apologetic look flashed Richard's way. "Don't mind us. We just prepare for the worst so we can be shocked and cynical when things work out better than we planned." She smirks at that briefly, then asks more seriously, "Did you need to talk business? I can take off if you need."

"Hey." Richard points a finger at Tuck, "Don't doubt my basement of crazy scientists and their ability to produce wonders." His hand drops back down to the arm of the chair, then, and he shakes his head, "No, I— no. I honestly just needed to take a walk, clear my head. Thought I'd come check in and say hello…" A fainter smile, wry, "I might be an 'important dude', but it's still just me, Tuck."

"Oh, didja hear that, Niki? It's still just him. Mr. Bigshot who changed his name. Still just him. But which him, hmm?" Tuck says that without any real malice. It's clear that he's taking the piss. He was, after all, a bigshot too for a short period of time - when five million American dollars meant something, and before large swathes of the country turned into smoking craters. "I remember when you used to come into my shop with a backpack full of batteries to sell. But it didn't take you long before you were telling me you were into shit I shouldn't get involved in."

"Hey now." There's a warning tone to Niki's voice as she narrows her eyes and pokes Tuck in the soft space between neck and shoulder. "I changed my name, too." She can't keep up her charade of offense for long before chuckling softly. "You know you're always welcome here, Richard."

"Yeah." Richard's voice quieter now, one hand coming up to rub against the side of his face, "I remember, Tuck. At the end of the day, I suppose you were smarter than me there. The whole world might be better off if I hadn't…" A faint smile up to Niki, and he nods then before bracing a hand on the chair's edge and pushing himself up to his feet, "I— anyway, you're right there. I should probably get going and leave you two alone."

"And maybe shit would be better if I had gotten involved sooner," says Tuck, before he's really had a time to self-edit those words. "Which sounds arrogant until you remember I spent an awful lotta time not getting involved in things, primarily to save my own skin." He looks from Niki, over to Richard. "We're alone a bunch. Frankly, it's nice to have some company. No 'ffense, Nik."

The blonde shakes her head. "None taken. I'm not company these days. And we do get plenty of time alone. We don't get to see you very often, though." Niki lifts her brows and glances from Richard to the chair he was occupying, then back to him. Sit.

At the pointed glance from Niki - which reminds him an awful lot of some looks he used to get from Jessica - Richard pauses half-way to his feet, bringing a hand up in surrender before dropping himself back to sit. "Okay, okay," he allows, leaning back, "And you did what you needed to, Tuck. Although— oh, shit. You remember— uh. You remember the time I needed to call in that complete lunatic to collect Satoru after he ossified your hand?"

Tuck unconsciously flexes the hand that was turned to bone all those years ago. The memory of that sensation is still relatively fresh, even if it was an age ago. He winces. "Vaguely remember, yeah. Which lunatic was that again? To be fair, there were a lot on Staten."

"That's an understatement," Niki mutters and sets about looking for a can of tomato juice that isn't empty. Nothing on the desk is looking promising. "I'm beginning to wonder if we have any stories that aren't unpleasant."

Ray's hands spread a little to either side. "Mortimer Jack," he offers, "He hunted 'Toru down with a van-mounted harpoon gun, I'm sure you remember." How could someone forget that, after all.

"Iiiiii think that was one of those situations where I decidedly did not want to know the details. I just wanted my hand to not be bone." Tuck shifts, as if working out an imaginary knot. "My shoulder's still kind of fucked up from that incident." A beat, then, "What about him, anyway?"

The quest for a can of V8 is abandoned when it's clear they've exhausted their supply. Again. Whether he was fishing for it or not, Tuck finds Niki's hands on his shoulders again, kneading the muscles with her thumbs. It's not just because he mentioned his shoulder being messed up, but because she wants to distract from the phantom pain in his hand. Another one of those Jessica looks is flashed Richard's way, but she doesn't say anything beyond that. She'll let him explain what he's on about without interruption.

"I remember you yelling at me about him, actually. Something about going to psychopaths for help— anyway, it was a long time ago," Richard admits with a shrug of one shoulder, "Anyway. Crazy motherfucker turned out to be my brother, go figure." he shakes his head, "Just— came to mind thinking about Staten Island. All the people we knew.. fuck, I even ran into John motherfucking Logan a few weeks ago."

"That sounds about right. Honestly I got hit in the head a lot between then and now, so it might've knocked names loose. Also, my hand was bone, so, trauma." Tuck wriggles his fingers. He lets out a low whistle. "Man. What are the odds of that?" His shoulders tense unconsciously under Niki's hands at the mention of that name. "Yeah, I heard he's around. Figures if we made it through the fire, a few of them did, too."

There's almost a stutter to the motions of Niki's hands as John Logan is mentioned. She lets out a soft huff and resumes the massage with the smallest shake of her head. "He's a survivor, I'll give him that."

"Yeah. He's running a, uh, a pawn shop over in Bay Ridge," Richard says with a vague motion of his hand, "Calls it the 'Vault'. So if you don't want a surprise run-in like me, keep aware." He brings that hand up to scratch at his neck, "Kids are, uh, kids are doing okay, I get 'em for a day every week usually." How do normal people social?!

"I heard it was an antique shop, which seems more his deal. Higher end et ceteras. Dealing in what luxuries people feel like they can actually swing and whatnot." Tuck starts digging around in his drawers until he finds an old cigar box. "So I don't know if you partake, but when shit starts feeling awkward, I like to dig out my one remaining vice and indulge in it. Plus, it's medicinal. And talking about the old days is making every ache I ever had resurface."

With a final pat of his shoulders, Niki lifts her hands away again and instead sets about moving a stack of papers off Tuck's desk and onto the floor so she can actually claim a corner to sit on. All she needs is a long red dress and the pair of them might look like characters out of a noir film. The neo noir aesthetic still suits them. "Watch out for this one," Niki teases, flashing a grin in her partner's direction. "He's an enabler."

"I don't like making him sound classy," Richard replies a bit deadpan, hand dropping back to his knee. As the cigar box is drawn out, he breathes out a chuckle, shifting to scoot the chair a bit closer, "Ah, what the hell. Just don't tell my sister, she'd give me that look."

"And I don't like you calling him a pawnie, because that makes us sound too much alike," says Tuck. His previous profession was by no means glamorous, but it was utilitarian. "Besides, I doubt he'd be fond of the money-lending part of pawning. He seems to prefer the money-taking kind of business." He looks up at Niki. "I am not an enabler. I am…a helper. Besides, I even quit smoking. A man has to have some pleasures." He flips open the cigar box. There's a glass pipe, and a baggie with some buds and a couple of joints. "Choose your method, lady and gent."

Niki doesn't hesitate when the box is opened and its contents offered. She reaches in and claims a jay. "I stand corrected. You are a professional helper, after all." She gives him a wink and smiles fondly. "Your secret's safe with us, Rich."

"Fair, fair," Richard holds up a hand in surrender, a chuckle stirring on his breath, "I'll admit, though, he did actually have the obscure fucking thing I was looking for. I'm a rolled paper man myself, call me a traditionalist." He reaches out to claim one, "So the fuck have you two been up to, anyway, aside from business? I know you're not like me, you actually have lives."

"Lives? Life is paperwork. Life is…" Tuck gestures around to the mountains of stuff. "I just try to keep busy to stop the horrible creep of reality. I don't know about you." He digs around in the box until he finds a lighter, which gets tossed to Niki.

The lighter's caught with one hand and flick-flick-flick!'d until the flame sparks and she lights the end of the joint held between her teeth. She holds it out to Richard next while she holds the first lungful in her chest. "Paperwork, council meetings… We do try to work our way through some old movies between brown outs. I'm starting to appreciate Philip Marlowe."

"Heh. I joked with Parkman once that we should retire from the game and open a gumshoe office," Richard admits, reaching out to accept the lighter and flick it to life after a few tries. "Silly thought, though. You don't ever really retire— you're lucky you never got into it, Tuck. Better for you." Flame finally catches, and he lights the joint, taking a drag on it and offering the lighter back around to Tucker.

"Speaking of, if you find a good Sam Spade hat. I'm thinking of trying a new look." Sometimes it's hard to tell when Tuck is being serious. Because even his serious statements are sometimes delivered jokingly. "What is the 'it' I never should have gotten into? The hero business?"

"The hero business is bullshit." Smoke wafts toward the ceiling lazily and Niki watches it start to gather over their heads, one hand braced on the desk behind her to support her lean. She holds in her second drag until her lungs prickle and she finally coughs before blowing the smoke out. "All it does is get people killed. Civil service is much safer." Because offering a distinction means that she and Tuck aren't being heroes, they're just paper pushers.

"Is that what we were being?" It's Richard's question in Niki's direction as he leans back, "Heroes? I never really thought of it like that." Legs stretch out a bit, and he regards the joint in his hand, watching that trickle of smoke drift upwards from its tip, "Heroes are for mythology. We were just a bunch of guys and gals doing what we thought was best at the time." He brings it back to his lips, drawing in a deep lungful of smoke, eyes closing for a moment as he holds it up, then exhales a long, slow plume upwards. "Sometimes we were right. Sometimes we weren't."

"Speaking of noir, you're both bogarting. Someone pass over a joint, will ya?" Tuck makes grabby motions in the direction of both of them. "That's the difference between you'n me, Richy Rich. You were always willing to give things a go, where I tried to avoid giving anything a go."

The embers of burning paper are studied with a distant expression. "It's what Peter and I thought we were." Heroes. She passes the joint over to Tuck, with a murmured apology of "Sorry, babe," as she motions for Richard to keep his. "You were always the smart one, Tuck."

"You were," Richard admits, pointing the joint at Tuck, "All it got us was killed, in the end." Another long drag, eyes closed as smoke drifts from his nostrils, "In the end, you're doing good work here. Nothing to turn up a nose at. Maybe you're more the hero than we ever were." He doesn't comment about Peter, rather pointedly not looking in Niki's direction for a few moments.

Tuck has a lungful of smoke he nearly chokes on when Richard calls him a hero. He ends up coughing out some good weed, eyes watering momentarily. It takes him a moment to recover. "The ghost of every hero that ever was just sort of…" he makes a wavy hand motion, "…popped up from the grave to give you the finger, Ricky." He's trying on different nicknames it seems, seeing as he can't call him Card anymore.

The melancholy mood that Niki was threatening to topple in to is veered away from when Tuck makes that comment. The blonde tips forward slightly and starts to giggle. "That is a lot of flipped birds." In her head, it was meant to be said solemnly. In practice, she can't quite manage it.

"I probably deserve it," Richard chuckles, the sound scattering smoke in tumbling motes that he hadn't quite breathed out yet, hands spread as if to taunt the unseen heroes, "C'mon, Achilles, Hercules, Mark Pierson, bring it."

"You tempt the fate, sir. And that is a deadly game to play in this day and age." Tuck, now that he's recovered, takes a proper pull from the joint and holds it until his scalp starts to tingle. Then he exhales. The airflow in the office isn't great, so they might just end up hot boxing themselves. He passes the joint over to Niki.

The joint is reclaimed and Niki leans back again, back arched and staring at the ceiling as she inhales and holds. She shakes her head at Richard's list of heroes with a smirk on her face. The smoke is blown out the side of her mouth. The joint is held between the vee of her fingers, her arm stretching over her head and back to hand it off to Tuck again. One can imagine it's the sort of maneuver that would have had her palm resting flat and her back bent in a bridge on stage once upon a time. "I can't decide if anybody gets what they deserve, or if nobody actually deserves anything." That only lasts a second before Niki is laughing again. "That sounded way too philosophical. What are you doing to me, Richard?" Tongue firmly in cheek. "Stop."

"I have a great deal of on-the-job work experience murdering fate," Richard quips, though despite the smirk on his lips there's something serious in that absurd statement. He shifts to settle in the chair, elbow hooking over the back of the chair, joint dangling between two fingers. "Sorry, Nik," he teases, "Sorry, Tuck, see? That's what you get when I visit, bad memories and I turn your girl into a philosopher. I'm a plague on mankind." Tongue mostly in cheek.

"She's not my girl. I mean…" Tuck rolls his wrist. "She's my Girl Friday, if we're keepin' noir. Which is mildly offensive so forget I said that." He sucks in a deep breath just in time to receive the joint back from Niki. "I suppose I should feel pretty durned lucky I never showed up in anyone's prophecy." He follows that thought with another hit. He's clearly an old hat at it.

Niki sits up and looks over at Richard, shaking her head a little. "It's not like that. We're…" She glances to Tuck, then back again. "It's not like that," she repeats. If the assumption or the reality - if it is different than the assumption - bother her, she doesn't make any indication. "You're not a plague, Rich. You're just a man."

Ray's brows both leap upwards towards his hairline in surprise. "You're— not? Really? Well— shit." A laugh, then, his head shaking as he looks down at the joint, "Guess it's a good thing I didn't become a detective…and pft, tell that to my security file." He brings it back up, taking another draw, closing his eyes as he holds the smoke in for long moments.

Tuck nearly lets the joint go out. He closes his eyes and hooks one hand behind his head. Then he jerks suddenly and leaaaans forward with effort to pass the joint back. It's decent shit, which is a minor miracle in and of itself given the state of agriculture in general. "I was gonna say we're just friends, but," he exhales a soft note. "Not really the best way to describe it, hey, Nik?" He leans forward on his desk. He's going to enjoy the high. He actually rarely indulges in this, his one remaining vice. Part of him is still afraid it might lead back to harder things.

"No, not really." A breath of laughter accompanies Niki's exhale as she takes the joint back for another hit. "The kids on Facebook would say It's Complicated." Finally, she seems to be relaxing, rolling her head from one side to the other slowly, stretching. "I love him, and I'll beat the snot out of anyone who even looks sideways at him," Niki explains of her relationship with Tuck, "but he doesn't belong to me by any stretch of the imagina—"

This is when a music starts to play from the front pocket of Niki's jeans. "Shit. I didn't even think I got a signal in here. I gotta take this." She puts the joint back in Tuck's custody and drops a kiss on his cheek before fishing the red-cased phone out and answering the call. "Good to see you, Rich. I'll drop by your office next week, okay?" Leaving her things behind in the office, she hurries for the door, speaking into the phone on her way out. "Yeah, Mom. I'm here."

And then she's gone.

A plume of herbal smoke is breathed out in a lazily twisting column upwards, Richard's eyes opening to watch it drift towards the ceiling. "Got it," he replies, "Sorry for assuming, or…" Then there's the music, and he hears the last words of Niki, head turning to shout after her, "SEVEN YEARS WAITING FOR A PHONE CALL FROM THAT WOMAN. SHE HAS MY FUCKING NUMBER, NIKI. DON'T THINK I DON'T KNOW SHE DOES."

A faint 'hmf', as she vanishes, dryly observing to Tuck, "Some people will go to any length to avoid a conversation."

Tuck rubs at his ear like Richard's yelling damaged his healing. "Yow. What's the story there?" He peers after her, but doesn't fling any comments at her back. He sits up and rolls his shoulders back. "Most people assume," he adds, a bit belatedly. "And we don't go out of our way to correct. Usually."

"It's… a long story, and," admits Richard with a gesture towards the office door, "One I probably shouldn't talk about behind Nik's back. It's her mother, after all." A wry smile, a shake of his head, "Doesn't really matter anyway. Ol' Claudia ever wants to talk to me, it'll be on her terms. I don't care enough to go kick in doors."

"Do we have any short stories? Novellas? I think they're all epics by this point," says Tuck. He's getting a little lethargic and dopey as the good weed gives him a pleasant body high. He gives himself one more good hit, then gently twists out the nub on a saucer that works as an ashtray. He flexes his fingers.

"Yeah. You're probably right…" Richard slumps back in the chair, eyes closing as he just relaxes, "Just all epics. Most of them not even worth reading. We can rest when we're done, he always said…" Whoever 'he' was. He turns his head a bit, saying quietly, "You're lucky to have her as— whatever you have her as. She's a good woman. Always has been."

"Platonic life-partner?" Tuck whuffs a mouthful of air and grins a little. "Enforcer? Masseuse?" He scratches his fingers back along his scalp which sticks his salt-and-pepper hair up at all angles. "Where do you hail from originally, anyway?"

"You know…" A quiet chuckle from Richard, head lolling back again to face the ceiling, "…I used to be able to answer that question. Orphanage in Queens. Foster homes all over the city. New Yorker born'n bred. These days…" His words twined with a sigh, "These days I don't even know what's true anymore, or where I came from."

"Your life's fuckin' messed up, man," says Tuck. Leave it to old friends to not mince words. His words are partially muffled by the crook of his arm. "Most people think I'm born and bred here, which I take as a compliment?" He squints a little, then paws around for a bottle of water. It won't be too long until the munchies start to set in.

"You're telling me. M'just a puppet, Tuck, a weapon someone else made and then Niki's mother and the other old biddies decided to put away in a shiny box in case it was needed again." If that makes sense to anyone at all, well, Richard has been smoking, after all. "It's all paradoxes and games and conspiracies. You're lucky. You've just got paperwork." He tilts his head, an eye cracking open to look at Tuck, "Where're you from, then?"

Tuck cracks the seal on the water and swigs a third of it in one go. He offers it out towards Richard. "Toronto. But we moved here when I was a teenager." He definitely didn't understand what that was all about, but he never really tried to figure out the big picture stuff. His has always been a micro world. His pawn shop and Staten more generally. The outskirts of Vegas. And now, the Red Hook Market. There's no string board in his life. "There's only been the one time that I feel like fate was messing with me, and that was when I pulled the handle of that damned slot machine."

Ray leans way over, hand vaguely grasping until he gets a hold of the water bottle before leaning back. "Shit," he chuckles, "My oldest living friend's a fuckin' Canadian. Doesn't that figure?" A swig of the water, and then he waggles it over in Tuck's direction, "That's just luck. Fate is different. Time has weight."

"You should feel deeply privileged. I know the ways of decent chocolate bars and ketchup chips." Yep, Tuck's definitely getting the munchies. He starts to paw through his drawers for snacks. He pauses, arches his brows, peers at Richard. "Mmmmmaybe smoking up on weed wasn't the best idea during a food shortage." And then, he says a bit abstractly, "Time's a lead fucking ball."

"You gotta have a stash, don't you? Fuck, I'll fly out to Kansas City and buy you a few gallons of fritos or something later," Richard offers offhandedly, "Just don't tell me you don't have any snacks laying around." He snorts, then, "Ed always said that time was a mountain. You can move it, but fuck, it's not easy."

"If you're flying out anywhere to get food, we could use canned vegetables. Dried pasta. Tins of meat. Chickpeas…" Tuck rifles around, but he mostly finds pens and parts. "Mmm, hummus." He stands up and starts to search, but so far he's coming up empty. The time conversation is apparently taking a backseat to the Search for Chips.

Ray seems to remember something, and starts patting down his flight jacket, finally digging into an inner pocket and producing a packet of something. He squints at it in the room's light, "…heyyyy, how many years are airplane peanuts good for?"

Tuck finally does come up with something, and it's just a handful of those terrible orange and black toffees that rip out your fillings. He dumps a handful on his desk. A couple are melty and have bits of lint and a couple of screws stuck to them. Most of the others are intact. "So we got some filling extractors and potentially lethal peanuts. Considering they stopped serving nuts on planes sometime around the mid-90s. You sure they aren't those little pretzel bites?"

"I don't think Fedor cared much about peanut allergies," Richard replies with a chuckle, glancing over to the toffee pile on the desk in serious consideration, "Pretty sure if anyone died of a peanut allergy on his plane he'd probably have kicked them off half-way across the Atlantic. He was kind of a ruthless prick. I miss the old sonuvabitch."

"You do realize you always had a much wider circle of acquaintances than me, right? So don't go assuming I know who these folk are. I was a homebody. If they weren't a lowlife, I probably didn't cross paths." Tuck unwraps one of the toffees and extends his tongue to touch the surface experimentally.

"Oh, he was a lowlife, alright. The Staten Island thing, that was all his plan," Richard admits, tearing open the packet of peanuts and shaking them into his palm, "If a few things had gone different, we might have taken the whole place. Man, wouldn't that've been an interesting world…" He considers the peanuts, shrugs, and tosses the handful into his mouth.

"Who was 'we'?" asks Tuck. He tosses the toffee down on his desk, apparently deciding he's not that desperate. The peanuts, though? He holds out a hand and makes a grabby motion.

Ray chews slowly and carefully. They aren't great but he apparently decides that they're acceptable, and he leans over to pour the rest of the packet into Tuck's offered hand. "Chicago Air," he offers once he's swallowed, "Charity drops, feeding people, eliminating the worst of the gangsters. It was a great plan, but there were bigger fish in that sea than anyone ever realized."

"Here there be monsters," murmurs Tuck as he eats one of the peanuts. He chews it a bit like a squirrel, then eats the next one more normally with a shrug. "Shoulda just emblazoned that in the Hudson, huh?" He exhales and shakes his head. "How do you deal with it? People looking to you to make decisions on shit? To fix shit?"

"I'm… what was it that Ed called me…" Richard's brow furrows as he thinks, "A 'man of action' or something like that. You put a problem in front of me that I think needs solving, and I'm not gonna just sit around and wait for someone else to do it, you know? I'm a fucking cynic — I know probably nobody will. So people come and go 'hey, here's a problem' and I just do what needs to be done so I don't get annoyed that nobody else did."

He laughs, "So, spite, I guess."

"Yeah but…" Tuck shakes his head. "I get that. I mean, that's sort of how the market thing got rolling. To have a community, you need commerce. And a place for someone to come together." He motions around. "So I just carved out a spot. And it got bigger. And more people joined in. And then shit got official. All great, right? But now people are looking to me to make decisions and solve problems like thefts and food shortages. I'm all good with the small problems, like Ace and Sarah Jean hate each other so their booths should be on opposite ends of the Sunday market. Or the corner stall by the door gets the most thefts so it's the best place for the furniture seller since no one can easily walk off with a dresser."


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