Eyes On The Prize


dumortier_icon.gif weasel_icon.gif

Scene Title Eyes on the Prize
Synopsis Rene and Weasel sell their wares at Red Hook.
Date June 2, 2019

Red Hook Market

Providence has its trading, but Red Hook has more; spring has come and set in, weather warm, air breezy, the doors into the market propped open to catch it and funnel fresh air inside. Amongst the other pop-up stalls are some visitors from down south in the Barrens; Weasel, with furs and the like, and one mister Dumortier, having drug up a trunk of salvage to sell or barter, as well as some plants. It's not a lot, but he was wanting so much to do some gallivanting. For all that he loves nature, his new territory, and places like the Slope, people-watching and mark-skimming can be a great time too.

Rene has shed the layers Weasel had met him in, the sun and his settling in bringing with it a less rugged look. He doesn't have to be prepared for anything all the time anymore, and this isn't exactly the high-rollers club. An old band shirt, cut in a crop, jeans that have seen better days- - but they are thin and only slightly torn up. Once it may have been more artful. Blonde hair is pulled up, blue eyes occupied with delegating a deal for some CB parts.

It has probably been a learning experience, watching Rene work people over for their hard earned money and valuables. Convincing people they need something comes naturally, as does his ability to get more out of them. He keeps coming out on top, it seems like.

Customer dealt with, Rene turns around to the bins of his salvage stock, counting bills once more before sliding them into a pack strapped to waist and thigh. He knows how pickpockets work. He is one.

The merchandise that Clara has brought along with her sells itself a little more readily than trinkets and salvage — she came up with a trunk of rabbit carcasses to sell, and they go relatively quickly. It usually comes with a stern reminder of the winter and those awfully cold nights, which is often enough to sell another rabbit fur blanket. The rabbit’s feet are also a good sale — superstition has never died, and a rabbit’s foot does supposedly bring luck.

Not that Weasel ever really put much stock into that. Superstition never was her cup of tea, really.

She’s watched Rene studiously, not only to watch him work his magic but also to be sure nobody is trying to pull any fast ones on her — the little skunk that sits next to her (and is occasionally the happy recipient of a pet or two from passing children) is a bit of a deterrent to unwanted activity, as well.

“I wish I didn’t hate talking to people so much. I suck at bartering.” It’s probably why her prices are not generally negotiable.

Whatever he finds he tries to find a use for; while Weasel watches him, there's someone else asking into the salvage. Again it seems to come naturally to him. The skunk has been nice to have around. It's gotten more than one look from barterers. Rene turns around this time and gives said skunk a scratch on his way past.

"It's less about liking to talk, more about getting what you want. Eyes on the prize." She gets a flicker of a smile, and then Rene is rifling in his totes for what appear to be parts; whatever he pulls out is unfamiliar, and he pockets them. "If you can tell how much they want something, it's cake after that."

The scratch elicits a happy squeak from the little skunk, which in turn draws a small smile from the girl. She always likes the ones who get on well with Pepe — he’s somewhat of a barometer for who she does and does not get along with. Or rather, how people respond to him is the initial test for whether or not Weasel is going to like a person.

“I’ll give it a try some time,” the girl says, a small smirk on her face. “Fixed prices are a lot less stressful, though.” At least, when you have more unique things like rabbit fur blankets, they are. Clara’s stock is always relatively steady: Rabbit and squirrel meat in raw and jerky forms, fish, furs crafted into cloaks and blankets, rabbit’s feet, the odd rabbit and squirrel skull — mostly things that she kills so other people don’t have to feel bad about killing a bunny for their supper.

“Been meaning to ask,” she adds, pulling out a bit of rabbit jerky; one piece is bitten into, while the other is offered out to Rene. “I think I mighta found the place for me. You do cool shit with plants — think you’d be willing to help me set some stuff up? Steady supply of meat and fish in it for you.”

"What you do is easy to put a price on." Rene pulls up a stool to perch beside her, shoulders shrugging, hair escaping at the nape of his neck. "Mine not so much." Weasel's roundabout question gets a raise of brow, and the offered bit of food is taken.

"'Cool shit', huh?" He chuckles, turning his head to watch some vaguely curious eyes before looking back. "What kind of stuff? I'm no carpenter, but if it's natural constructs you want… They might stay alive, though."

“True,” she agrees with the remark about price. That’s one advantage of going with niche markets on things, really, is being able to have a steady price on things and not worry about negotiations.

Then, when asked of her plans, the girl’s face cracks into a large smile. “Well, I was hoping to build a pig pen,” she starts. “Don’t need much for them. Shelter for night time, a pen big enough for three or four pigs. Hoping to add pork to the menu,” she explains, a grin on her face. “And maybe a chicken coop. Eggs and meat would be good.” She looks thoughtful. “Maybe a smokehouse, at some point, but that’s later on down the line.”

She glances back to Rene, shoulders wiggling in a physical display of her excitement over these prospects. “I would be in your debt if you did decide to help.”

"Thinking big things, hm?" Rene may not be as ambitious as she is with the whole, ah, farming deal, but he can still appreciate that she wants to go ass deep in it. "I'd be down for the eggs. God knows I don't want to have to be responsible for my own chickens. I don't have any guard skunks." Guard weasels? Whatever.

"The pig-pen sounds easy enough to help with. We'll see about the coop. I've made enough shelters, pigs don't need much, right?" The blonde crosses his arms casually and keeps his perch on the stool while he regards Clara more closely. "You'll have to let me know when. Do you have people down here? In the Safe Zone? Or is Providence your first attempt at all of… this?" Rene lifts his arms in a vague, encompassing gesture.

“Nothing big or anything. I just want to be able to eat eggs and bacon, and sell what I don’t eat or share or barter off.” She grins. “And the occasional roast chicken wouldn’t hurt, either.” She grins. “Not just skunks. If I get it the way I hope to get it, I’ll have guard raccoons, too. Have you ever heard a raccoon growl before? It’s kind of terrifying.”

She grins. “Yeah, pigs are pretty easy. Shelter that I can access to clean, food, some nice mud to roll around in.” She smiles. “Soon, hopefully.” The next question prompts a small smile. “Lots of my brothers and sisters are here in the Safe Zone,” she points out. While the number is unspecified, she makes it sound like there’s lots of siblings. “One brother in Providence, he works at the Zheung Farm.”

She pauses briefly to make a nearly wordless exchange, a young girl purchasing a purple rabbit’s foot from her. “I tried making it work out here in the safe, and Park Slope is nice enough. I have some otters I rescued from a fur farm there.” Pepe enjoys another scratch from the girl before she runs off to join her parents. “But I’m kind of an outdoor kid, and even half grown over, the city is too…much.”

"I do my best to not anger raccoons, so no." The question is amusing, rabies aside. "Really? With Reena?" Rene squints. He's only seen one about her age there. They didn't look related. "How many is 'lots'? Should I be concerned about something?" Not that he'd do anything to her.

"I can squeeze in anywhere, it's a talent and a curse." Blue eyes watch the girl scamper off. "There are some great growths on the Slope. I made several cuttings on my first day here. A few good mushrooms, too. I don't have a place for those yet." Weasel gets a sidelong look, Rene's frame lacking in tension - he seems unbothered by… everything, really. It's cultivated. "I took a house up above the sheep-grazing field. In the old growth."

“They sound like a terrifying mix between a cat and a dog. A group of them growling all at once is enough to make most tough guys piss themselves,” Clara explains of the raccoons before taking a bite of the rabbit jerky.

The question about her siblings then prompts a small laugh from the girl; once she’s finished chewing the jerky, she shakes her head. “They’re adopted. We all are. The Ferrymen rescued us, took us in and gave us a home and a family.” She grins. “Just a bunch of orphans and th’like. We all grew up together — they call us the Lighthouse Kids.” Dark gray eyes turn and watch as a few people skirt around her shop, grumbling about the skunk. “They found me up in Canada and took me in, kept me from getting too wild.”

Really, if not for the Brians, Weasel probably would have disappeared into the wilderness a long time ago.

“That’ll be nice. I like it out there, really quiet. The sheep attract lots of little critters for my critters to eat.” She’s become the local expert in getting rid of most pests in Providence, really. “If you ever get those mushrooms growing, let me know. They’re hard to find.”

That makes a lot more sense, the mass adoption; he had a big family only by virtue of being too poor, and she made it sound like she was one of many. Rene just nods along, picking a bit at the dried meat, brows knit.

"So almost raised by skunks or something?" He angles at Clara, a laugh in his voice. Still, "Good to have People." It does sound as if Rene knows this from experience as well.

"I'll probably need to modify a mushroom cellar, or the like." One hand moves to untie his hair, the length of it loosening over his shoulder before he starts to re-tie it in a more comfortable tuck. It keeps his hands busy. "Before anything else, I'm going to look into helping out with putting up crow's nests- - are they called that when it isn't a ship? Tiny lookouts. The militia will need them."

Almost raised by skunks,” is repeated, Weasel giving Pepe’s belly a little scratch to emphasize her point. “Pepe was the first animal I ‘spoke’ to, and he’s been with me since. He’s family just as much as my brothers and sisters,” she murmurs, smiling fondly at the little creature. “Old man’s been with me for almost eight years now, almost as long as I was with the Lighthouse.”

She turns to watch Rene, an admiring gleam in her eye. “If you want help with that, I can probably find some badgers. They’re amazing diggers,” she points out; to keep herself from staring, she turns her attention back down to her supplies, organizing them into neat little rows for display purposes.

“Ooh, that’ll be really helpful. Bird’s eye views are great strategic points, I bet they’ll appreciate it,” she points out with a knowing nod. “I was thinking of seeing if I can join in with the militia. My ability isn’t all that cool, but I was taught how to fight and defend myself and others. If I can use that training to help others…well. I’d think that’d be pretty nice.” She finishes straightening out a row of rabbit’s feet, leaning back to look at her handiwork.

Rene very nearly asks how long skunks live. But, her manner manages to remind him that he is much older than her and ought to know better. If he didn't know Clara, perhaps he'd be that rude.

"Badgers are this far out…?" Busied hands make short work of a braid rather than a tail, his eyes on her and muscle memory doing the rest. "Kara likes things like that. She's very- - practical, when it comes to her job." He is slow to comment on Weasel's apparent enthusiasm towards wanting to officially make a point to defend Providence; his mouth twists at the edge, blue eyes eschewing the light.

"Nn. I would suggest starting out by doing the mundane things they don't want to do. I wouldn't just up and yeet my ass into the fire, Clara."

“They’re hard to find,” Weasel points out. “They’re usually easier to find when you’re inland, but I swear I’ve felt one out there. They’re grumpy assholes, though,” she explains, watching Rene as he braids his hair out.

The suggestion of waiting it out prompts a small shrug to roll over the small girl’s shoulders. “I’m not gonna go in guns blazing,” she counters, watching Rene thoughtfully. “I hate guns,” is added, “I just…want to be useful, you know?” She pokes one of the rabbit’s feet, making sure it’s neatly lined up with the others.

“I know that pest control is great, but…” She fidgets a bit. “I finally feel like I fit in in Providence, after never really feeling that for most’ve my life.” Grey eyes track another person who gives the stall a wide berth on account of skunk. “I want to be part of things, I guess.”

"More ways to be useful than fighting," Rene shrugs right back, letting the loosely set braid rest over his shoulder. It is certainly less messy than before. Idle hands. An older gentleman stops by on Rene's side to exchange for a box of seedlings; the conversation gets put on hold, though finding the man what he wants doesn't take long. Some vegetable starts, herbs. Rene leaves a passive shift of energy with them once they're off to a new 'home'.

"Nobody there is asking you to do risky things. Or want you to 'prove yourself'. I tried that and I fucked a lot of things over. Made some good changes, but your mileage will vary. We're not at all the same people." He gives the impression that it had nothing to do with Providence. Something older than that. "I can't stop you from wanting fulfillment or, whatever," Rene's brows lift up at her as he sits back down. "Not every able hand has to be a fist. I'm more of a knife, myself."

A slightly irritated sound escapes Clara’s throat, though it’s stifled as a young man comes up and purchases one of the fresh rabbits that the girl sells, along with a bag of squirrel jerky. She reaches into her cooler, pulling the paper-wrapped package out; currency is exchanged, and the young man departs, pausing only to pat the friendly skunk tentatively atop the head.

By the time the conversation is able to continue, her irritation has had a chance to fizzle out. “It’s not that I want to fight. I hate guns, and I’m better off as a scout or a spy than anything else. Easier to fight with knives.” She sets about rearranging the cooler into a more orderly stack of meats, before closing it again. “I just want to help people feel safe, and I have the skills to do it.”

“Is there more fighting than I know about?” Busy brows raise slightly. That’s another point of contention for her — she’s starting to feel like people treat her with kid gloves more often than she’d like, including with current affairs.

If Rene notices her mood shifting, he doesn't say anything. Or he doesn't care, which is more likely.

"Then scout. They've got plenty of people with guns and fists, trust me." The blonde lifts his hands in an exaggerated gesture, propping the heel of his foot on one of the stool rungs. "Eileen's got the whole, 'bird…. Thing' going, and she's fine. Of course, she can kick someone's nose in too, but…" Rene notices his track getting off the rail, and adjusts.

"Depends on what you know about." Kid gloves aren't an issue for him. "They do try to keep people from freaking the fuck out, which yes, does mean sometimes keeping shit low-key." It's not written down, but Rene knows what hysteria is. "There are other militias making trouble against peaceful people, and robots lumbering around the countryside. Sometimes they even bump heads too."

Most of that is news to Clara; her brows raise a bit as she closes up her cooler of meat, settling back into the somewhat rickety (but still comfortable) folding chair she brought along with her. “I’d heard rumors about robots, but mostly been in the dark,” she replies. “Good to know.”

It’ll help her when she goes to talk to the aforementioned Eileen — mention of the woman prompts a slightly reverent look to cross her face. “I need to meet her — my siblings know her, but I never got the chance to meet her before —” Well. Before she apparently died and came back to life.

“In any case, I’m not trying to get in on the warfare shit. But I can definitely help with spying. That’s always been my specialty. Guns are too noisy.” She shrugs.

Judging from the response, she must not have known all of that; still, Rene wouldn't have told the truth if he didn't think she could handle it. He watches as her cogs turn behind her eyes, only giving a tight half-smile when she speaks again.

"Your siblings know her?" It's this that has him confused, eyes narrowing. "Oookay, that's weird, but okay." Rene forces a shrug, eyes roaming off to watch passerby, gaze following the plumper purses and back pockets out of ingrained habit. "Kara could use some help on patrols, that might be a good place to start- - she could show you the ropes. She's not as stick-in-the-mud as her reputation suggests." Debatable.

“Yeah. Knew her? I don’t know. I’ve heard mention of her, but I never got the chance to meet her. I’d never even been to the US until October, so I’m not as in things as the rest of them are.” The girl shrugs, before suddenly reaching into her pocket, and pulling out…a tiny weasel, who apparently has awoken. The little creature chirps once, and promptly takes up a spot on her shoulder, glaring around at the world and daring someone to mess with his ‘mom’. Rene gets a sidelong look from Ron.

“I like Kara,” she points out. “She’s cool as hell.” Obviously, the wild girl respects the woman. “She and Finn were the first people I met out in Prov.” The mention of Finn draws a flash of a dreamy-eyed expression, gone just as quickly as it formed on her face. “I’ll see if she’ll mind the company.”

Not one to back down from another tiny rascal, Rene swivels on his seat when he gets the little weasel leer and puts his hands on the edge of his seat to lean over towards Clara. Well, Ron. It puts him in the prime angle to spy that look when she mentions Finn after Kara.

"She is. As long as you listen, she won't, I'm sure…" Even if she's the straight-man of most of them. Weasel earns a more smarmy look soon after Rene says that, which serves as a little bit of a warning. "Finn, huh? That troublemaker…?" It's not serious, of course, he is teasing her- - she's still growing up whether she wants to be or not. "Beau cul, joli sourire, chiot…" The French comes out with a swooning quality. Because of course it does.

Ron has that tiny animal syndrome, where he feels a desperate need to be tough so all of those big fuckers think twice about messing with him. It leads to a rather amusing staredown for a long moment, which ends with Rene looking away to talk to Clara; the weasel feels proud, offering a triumphant chirp before settling down, partly obscured by dark brown hair.

Clara has never really done this whole boys thing. As she told her brother a few weeks ago, she’s fairly sure there’s nobody out there who can handle her enough to be anything more than a friend. All the same, she can’t help the burning in her cheeks under Rene’s scrutiny, immediately turning her attention to very pointedly making sure her table is perfectly organized, even though it already is.

“He looks nice,” she mumbles in low tones. “I’d never — he’d never…” She shakes her head. “It’s nothing.

Ron and Rene are more kindred spirits than the little critter knows. He'll figure it out at some point. Any reaction would have made Rene happy, and the one that he gets has him tickled pink. He always hopes to get the ones he wants, and he's pretty good at it.

"Mmm?" The blonde keeps that smile on his face, even through her fussing with the table wares. "Nothing, okay, sure, I'm buying that." Rene answers with a laugh, and she'll get a wink once she looks his way. "He does, though. That and his luck makes him bold, chere. Still, you could have eyes for worse." If she's going to have crushes on anyone, better people like Finn who will be nice enough not to take advantage.

"If you keep all of that inside you'll never learn what to do with it! Trust me." Both hands lift to thud over his heart, head canted and eyes large. He knows these things.

"If you don't make it a thing, it won't be a thing. If you do, you give assholes like me the chance to jerk you around." Evidently. Rene seems reminded of something, as he tucks a hand into his pouch for a metal tin. "Want a puff?" With the doors open, he's fairly confident of the ventilation.

Ron…well, he thinks he’s won, so Rene is okay in his books, for what it’s worth from a tiny Least Weasel. Which admittedly isn’t much, but the opinion matters to Clara.

The girl’s cheeks remain bright pink as she fights off the embarrassment brought on by her lack of a poker face. “He’s too old for that, I’m probably just some little kid to him,” she explains away, reaching up to rub at one cheek as though she could just wipe away the blush.

She avoids eye contact for a moment longer, before turning to boldly meet Rene’s gaze. “I don’t think I’m the dating type, in any case,” she adds with a shrug. “Don’t know of anyone who could…handle me.” A pause. “I like this guy who is more my age, but…he doesn’t look at me that way. Nobody does. I’m just…that wild kid, you know?”

She shakes her head; eyes widen a little at the metal tin, brows popping up. “Never done any of that before,” she replies, rubbing a hand on the back of her neck. She’s not sure if she wants to try or not.

"I've got both kinds if you'd rather the other, but no pressure, chere, you're fine." Rene answers with a half-grin, mostly for her comments and then the way she reacts to his offer. "It's easy for me to get, so- -" He gives her a wink, sliding out a paper cigarette and the lighter inside. When he lights it, it smells more like clove than the green stuff; a more public-friendly thing, it seems. Even so, there's a skunk here to push blame on.

"Worried about someone who can handle you, then?" There's a laugh, and Rene puffs a take of smoke from his lips, breezy more than cloudy. "So long as you're not letting anyone push you around, hm?" Wild child and everything, he isn't too worried. "If you don't want to be the wild kid, then show'em. You've got feelings too, haven't you? Should go up to this boy and ask him out. Worst he says is No?"

“I think I’m okay for now,” she replies, waving a hand at the offer of plant matter to smoke. “Maybe one of these days. You’ll be the first I’ll come talk to if that’s the case.” One can probably trust a plant manipulator to have good stuff.

The push to ask a guy out prompts the red on Clara’s cheeks to grow bright once more, and she shakes her head rather quickly. “I — no. He’d say no and then it’d be awkward.” She shakes her head again, one hand rubbing at her cheek to make sure this blushing stuff doesn’t wipe off. “I just…never thought of myself as the dating type.” She shrugs, lifting a hand to brush her hair out of her eyes. “I just like looking sometimes,” she adds.

True to his offer, Rene just shrugs at her decision and graciously keeps any smoke from hitting her. "Still think you should…" Ask the guy out.

"Ha, me too. Looking can be half the fun. The worst is when they turn out to be awful. Anyone else you enjoy looking at?" It's too pointed not to be another tease, this time Rene giving Clara a whole Time of it, and the most impish grin. "Anyway, no rush. You've got time to figure it out. One sec…" Unfortunately, he doesn't have time to revel in his ability to make girls flustered- - because someone has stopped by and waved him over.

From the sound of it, something to do with some of the salvaged equipment he's brought. At least the guy looks excited about it, even if Rene only sort of knows what it was used for. It's enough to be able to sell it!

“Hard pass, I don’t want anything to do with how awkward that would be,” she replies. She could answer that next question truthfully with the fact that she also thinks that he’s a looker, but she’ll remain mum there, too. No need for further embarrassment. “Kara and Sophie,” she points out instead.

“One day I might get up some courage,” she replies, grinning sheepishly. “Not today.” She shakes her head, turning to a pair of girls who have paused to fawn over the skunk, who is loving every minute of the attention. “At least you have an easy time with the ladies, Pepe.” She smirks, and waves the girls over. “Lucky rabbit’s foot?”

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