Botanica Block Party

Participants:

ignacio_icon.gif seren_icon.gif

Scene Title Botanica Block Party
Synopsis After a long week, there's nothing like a little community bonding time.
Date March 16, 2019

Botanica La Romana


Red Hook may not be the same as it once was, but it's still a vibrant community. Hey, you have to get in your fun while you can, right? At least, that is the opinion of those who are congregated on the block in front of the Botanica — as well as some other places — right now.

The first thing one would notice before even getting close enough to see what's happening is the music.

Oye como va

Mi ritmo

Bueno pa' gozar…

Then the smells come, delicious and varied. There's some burgers grilling, as well as other types of meat and chicken, and several long tables pushed together on the sidewalk and covered with a variety of dishes. Beans, rice, pasta, baked things, salads…the list goes on.

Some children are kicking a soccer ball around as their parents look on while they eat, and there's a group over to the side that's dancing. Nacho is one of those. He's grinning as he turns an older woman who looks at least old enough to be his mother, then pulls her back again.

Seren had opted to head out this evening, more tired than usual from the workweek and needing a lift for their spirit. Heading down a certain, semi-familiar path brings music that promises entertainment… yet still they find their eyes widening with wonder when they round the corner and see just what the neighborhood is up to. The vibrant community gathering brings a grin to their face, and they linger on the outside, taking it in.

They laugh quietly to themselves on spotting Nacho doing his part to spread the cheer of music and dance, not creeping forward just yet in a bout of shyness around such a large group. Hands in the pocket of their jacket, they tilt their head as they watch practically from the corner. Seren's attention is slowly directed to the food as well, the scent luring them to inch closer. Little by little.

Nacho doesn't notice Seren immediately, but of course, he's busy at the moment. The kids rush past Seren, the younger ones shrieking for the older ones to slow down and give them a chance, but it's all in good fun for the moment, it seems. No tears yet.

Another older woman, this one quite old indeed, is the first one to approach Seren, with a plate of food in her hand. She says something in a language that sounds Russian or Ukranian, or at least some Slavic language, and offers her the plate. "Eat," she continues in English, the word heavily accented. "You too…худий. Too skinny." Oh, grandmothers.

Nacho spins the woman he's dancing with once more as the song closes, and she laughs before kissing his cheek in a friendly way and saying something to him. He replies, before turning away toward the food table, when he spies Seren. "Hey!" he calls, taking a couple quick steps toward them. "Que lo que, artista? What up?"

And just like that, Seren's dragged in. "Oh!" Eyes on the food, they take hold of the plate with an appreciative dip of their head before grinning affectionately at the woman. They don't know what's been said, or how to respond to it. Not really, so they opt for an English-spoken, "Thank you. I'll do better." before digging in with the little plastic fork stuck into the food.

By the time Nacho comes around, they're digging in and gradually getting comfortable in their own quiet corner, like a cat licking away at buttered paws. When he greets them, they chuckle, hand over mouth to disguise the bite they've just taken. "I'm being mothered!" they exclaim with mock exasperation, dispelling the illusion it bothers them at all with a shake of their head. "It's great. Really." They look up to take in the whole scene, the kids and the families all, to feel the music and the warm ambiance even as the sun dips lower in the sky. "What's the occasion? Do you know?"

The old woman seems satisfied that Seren has taken the plate, because she nods approvingly and pats them on the shoulder as she wanders off to go hand out with all the other grandmothers, who don't look like they could possibly all speak the same language but who have the bond of feeding people who are too skinny to knit them together.

Nacho grins as he grabs an empanada from one of the plates and takes a bite. "Yeah, they do that," he confirms from around the mouthful. "Just hang out here more and they'll have you gaining fifty pounds. I gotta hit the gym at least once a day to keep it off." It's half-joking, though. Not fully joking, but somewhat. "The occasion is that some people decided to do it," he says with a shrug. "We get together every couple months to hang out. Keeps things happy. You know?"

Grey eyes watch the empanada with a curious, almost envious look. They already have a plate! There's no way they could eat all this and try an empanada. But Seren seems to be considering it, with how delicious that deep-fried snack looks. "Yikes, I'll make sure keep an eye out, start traveling only at certain hours. Wouldn't want to be accosted by roaming abuelas too frequently." A grin accompanies the comment, hopefully to better indicate it's all a joke.

"You joke, but just wait until you're on your third plate of chicharron con pollo and begging for death while still trying to shove more into your mouth because it's so fucking delicious." Nacho finishes off the empanada quickly before grabbing another, though this one he takes a little more time with now that the edge is off. "How you been?" he asks, and he might have said more, but just then the soccer ball rolls toward his feet. He kicks it back to one of the younger ones, calling, "Corre, carajo! Metelo ya!" He watches for a second or two before turning back to Seren.

"I've been all right," is said through a sigh. Realizing just how unconvincing they sound, Seren leans to the side to snag one of the remaining empanadas, taking a bite directly from it and abandoning what remains of the rice-based dish they'd been served. You only live once, and that once better be spent having at least one empanada. As a result, they're a little occupied when the ball is being handled, savoring the home-cooked treat before they look back to Nacho with a shrug of their Bairdless shoulder.

"Been a little tiring at work. Trying to wrap my mind around the projects we're getting started on … so on." Nose wrinkling, they confess, "It's all been a little mundane for my tastes. Not too many opportunities to derail the day with something fantastic. And finding that sweet spot between fun and productive…"

Seren tears off another bite of the empanada, holding it over their plate in case of falling bits. "It's a work in progress. I'm going to need plenty of nights out and about if I'm going to keep sane, I think."

"Oh, yeah. Tough." Nacho nods in a commiserating fashion, taking a bite out of his own delicious stuffed pastry. "But if you need a night out, just come on over here. We got something going on more often than not. Take your mind off designing boring buildings." He grins, holding a hand out to Seren then. "You want to dance? Nothing better for getting your mind off shit." The music is still playing loud and clear, and there are still plenty of people doing the same thing, so they certainly wouldn't be the only ones.

Never one to be down for long, Seren lets out an appreciative hum at the invitation to spend more time in Red Hook. "I'll have to take you up on that." Sad around a particularly large bite of empanada, they follow it up with smaller nibbles to finish off most of it before tossing their plate and what remains of their food into a trash bin someone's dragged near the table. Maybe they aren't really in tune with the scarcity of food, and how an open spread like this should be properly appreciated … but maybe they've just had too much to eat!

Their eyes light up at the invitation to dance, still in the process of wiping their hands off. "I should let you know," Seren warns. "I am a terrible dancer." Their imagination flows abundantly — but they've never quite been able to get their body to match. Nevertheless, they offer their hand out to Nacho, brow raising curiously. "What were you thinking?"

"That's okay," Nacho says as he takes their hand to pull them toward where the dancing is happening. "I'm a great dancer. Just follow." He starts to pull Seren a little closer if they will allow it, though not in a gross way, just enough to put a hand on their back. "When I go forward, you go back, and the other way around, yeah?"

Forward, back. Back, forward. Okay, this was simple enough. Seren hums along with the music, trying to match Nacho's steps. Feet do the appropriate sliding of forward and back, though their eyes are down toward the movement of feet, not yet bearing the confidence to look back up. What if toes were stepped on!

Luckily, Nacho is a very good dancer. He really is the kind of dancer who can make someone who has no clue what they're doing look quite good, because he is a strong leader and he doesn't seem to take 'I don't know what I'm doing' for an answer. He lets Seren get used to it for several bars, before he pulls back the hand holding theirs and pushes it firmly to push them into a turn. He doesn't give a warning, perhaps so they don't have time to overthink it, and he's so confident that even if it isn't perfect, Seren probably wouldn't fall over. Or would they! WHO KNOWS WE'LL HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE POSE.

Falling over would be a hell of a first impression on Nacho's neighbors, so luckily, Seren keeps their cool when the unexpected step is introduced. It's far from perfect, but they intuit the movement, trying to keep with the forward and back motion even though the turn is woven in with it. "And…" is emitted with them in a light, airy tone as they complete the twirl, however stiffly, and resume the simple back and forth motion of the dance. "There!" Seren laughs brightly. "Look at us, like we're on Dancing with the Stars."

They might actually be, in Seren's mind. The ground around them begins to glitter with light, like a disco ball hangs in the distance and is casting glimmers down all around them. None actually exists, but hey, as long as one didn't go looking…

Nacho lets out a laugh when she lands the turn, an easy, free thing that stems from clearly having fun. "See?" he says, pulling her back in with a hand on her back again, "All you need to do is let go, and you can do a whole lot of shit. Just like your little monitos." And as well, the disco floor she's making now. He catches sight of it and looks around, another laugh escaping him. "Nice touch," he says.

The kids who have been playing suddenly see the exciting lights, and the younger ones leave off trying to catch up to jump and dance in the light themselves. Little voices call out in excitement about the colors, and a few try to jump up and touch the ball.

"Mmmm, I can let go all I like," Seren snickers, "But I make my art with my hands, not with my everything-else! Can't shake what isn't there to shake, Nacho!" they laugh, but they're having a good time regardless. You can be a novice of a dancer and still have a blast. When they hear the clamour of the children, their smile warms and the edges of their grey irises sliver over with silver. Not knowing the music means they can't create designs in time with the sound, but they try to anticipate changes as best they can, shapes of light and color sliding back and forth swirling across the ground in patterns. "Not to worry," they assure him, finally not looking at their feet even as they keep up the movements. "I've got my calling I can fall back to."

"Hey, it's all about having fun. If you're having a good time, I call that a win." Nacho can dance and watch at the same time, and so he does, his own darker eyes reflecting the light back, though without any sort of supernatural bent to them.

As the song comes to a close, he looks back at Seren with a grin, and inclines his head to them. "Thanks for the dance," he says as he lets go, taking a step back.

One of the kids comes over to tap Seren's leg then. "Excuse me," he says, in a very authoritative way that makes it clear he's been taught to say excuse me but he isn't one to actually wait to be excused. "Did you do all those light things?"

Beaming at Nacho, Seren claps their hands before them, swaying in place. Whatever they were seeking out of the evening, they seem to have gotten it. Their sense of self is more firmly in place than it was before, the earlier sheepishness vanished like a morning mist. In its place comes forth the opportunities of a world of light and color, all just the twinge of a mental muscle away from becoming reality.

When the kids come their way, Seren looks down. Some would crouch, but they remain standing. "Maybe a little," they admit with a hush, "But it mostly does it all on its own."

Like to emphasise that, the lights shift, joining together in a single line that swiftly swims across the ground to ring itself around the boy. Several float up from the ground, taking the form of softly glowing motes of featureless, shadowless light. "These guys might be will-o-wisps. What do you think?"

When the kids take Seren's attention, Nacho steps back onto the curb, grabbing an apple and taking a bite before he says something quietly to another man standing there. He replies, and they proceed to have a semi-conversation, though whatever it's about, it doesn't seem like it's that important.

The kids, meanwhile, are ecstatic, and the little boy jumps up to try and catch one. He has better luck with that one than the ball, and he lets out a loud whoop as his fist closes around it. "That's so cool!" he exclaims as the other kids crowd around to try to look at what he's caught. Of course, it's just light, so it doesn't actually stay caught. "How did you learn how to do that?" he asks as he looks up at Seren again.

Seren grins at the boy's excitement, chuckling as the light passes through the back of his hand as warmth. It flutters away harmlessly on its whimsical path, continuing on its path with nary so much as a flicker to its form. "I never learned, it just sort of happens. The world opens up its secrets for me and lets me pull them out, so long as I hold them in my mind. If I can imagine it, anything's possible." Others might not find as much wonder in that, but Seren is endlessly impressed with the possibilities. "I've been able to do it since … maybe even before your age. Me and my friend Baird have been together for as long as I can remember."

They look up for a moment, seeming to realize Nacho's left for elsewhere. Turning, they lift their hand in a vague wave. An apology for the distraction, and to let him know they've not forgotten about him. When the mote of light floats their way, they cup both hands around it and blow on it with a puff of air, sending it spiraling off.

"Oh," the boy says, nodding as though it all makes sense now. "Are you evolving? You're evolving, right?" The boy is clearly an expert on evolving. "My mom says I might be evolving, but then she says she hopes I wait 'til puberty or something." Gee, we all wonder why. "Who's Baird?"

Nacho catches Seren's look when he glances their way, and he waves back, as though dismissing any sort of concern. He doesn't seem to mind, not looking offended or anything like that. No wonder he isn't as interesting.

"Always evolving," Seren replies knowingly.

At the question of who Baird is, a sharp purple beak peeks over the top of Seren's jacket, a scratch of claws against the jacket's surface heard as the rest of a birdlike head pulls itself up into view, purchase held thanks to broad, green catspaws. The creature's yellowed eyes blink unnaturally, pupil adjusting rapidly.

Baird looks a little scruffier than normal, more like childlike, mismatched parts that have all been stuck together without a single unifying trend, but it exists. It's a far cry from its normal, majestic, well-thought forms — but it exists.

"This is my good friend Baird. We're almost always together." Seren explains, turning to look down at the scrawny creature clinging to their shoulder. "It was a long day at work, though, and we got separated for a while."

The kids gasp when Baird comes into view, because obviously, and the little boy exclaims, "Wow! That's so cool. Can I touch him?" This makes all the kids start clamoring to touch him, too, which might be a little bit like a Lord of the Flies situation, were it not for one of the moms, who calls out sharply, "Kaden!" That's really all it takes for all the kids to back off, though they're still looking longingly at the creature on Seren's shoulder. After all, who wouldn't? Kaden, though, takes it upon himself to repeat, "That's so cool."

"I'm not sure he's up for pets right now," Seren remarks thoughtfully, lifting a hand of theirs to let the creature have a 'sniff', and it stays put where it is, eyeing the humanoid fingers but not letting out so much as a peep of a purr. "But maybe we can come back some other time when he's feeling a bit better." They look past the children to the parent who called out, ducking their head and lifting a hand to acknowledge the intervention thankfully.

The lights that were floating disappear in a scatter, flying off too fast to see where they've all went. "I should get going for now, though. Lovely to meet you all."

Seren turns to head back over to Nacho as quickly as they're able, a small nod afforded for whoever he's speaking with as well. They seem tired, the long day having taken its toll, but they seem genuinely happy as well. Little Baird chirps at Nacho's familiar face, and Seren strokes the side of its head affectionately. "Glad I came out. Feeling a bit better already." With a smile, they add, "Just needed someone to remind me to let it go."

In a fit of amusement, their hand curls open by their side, the artistic flare of a crystalline snowflake materializing from a wisp of blue-white light. Their eyes twinkle for just a moment, grin deepening.

This seems to placate the kids, even the incorrigible Kaden, and with their hands having been sniffed, they all turn and start running away, off to find some other adventure which might not be as cool as this one but will hopefully not be thwarted by annoying parents.

The man he's talking to returns the nod as Nacho lets out a laugh when the kids run off. He shakes his head he looks back to Seren, and another snort escapes him at the little snowflake. "Okay, Elsa. Now you know they're never gonna leave you alone if you come again," he warns, but he's smiling. "You're welcome whenever. I'll see you around, yeah? Go get some rest." Since they're not exactly hiding their exhaustion, considering they wear more things on their sleeve in the form of Baird.

"I'll just have to wear a…" Seren spins in a dramatic circle, hands before them as they pause again. "disguise!" An ill-fitting black hood shrouds their head, thick-rimmed plastic glasses set on their brow — a stereotypical 'disguise' enhanced by a large, false nose of mismatching skintone completed by a bushy clearly-attached-to-the-frames moustache. They snicker, holding the illusion of the disguise for just a moment longer before they lean back with a laugh.

"It was nice seeing you, Nacho!" they say warmly before turning to go.

Nacho lets out another snort at the 'disguise.' "Don't quit your day job," he suggests, though there is amusement there as he lifts a hand to wave. "You, too. See you around."

He turns bad then, grabbing the hand of someone else watching on the sidelines to go dance again.


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