Farmer's Market Meets Dumpster Diving


buddy_icon.gif eugene_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif keira_icon.gif logan_icon.gif ricky_icon.gif sibyl_icon.gif zain_icon.gif

Scene Title Farmer's Market Meets Dumpster Diving
Synopsis Grocery options on Staten Island are either extremely limited or impossibly diverse, depending on how you choose to look at it. Sometimes it's just nice to browse and see what turns up.
Date February 23, 2018

The Rookery

Less than a decade ago, the neighborhood on Staten Island known as the Rookery had a reputation for being a haven for undesirables, and although the world has changed, the facts haven't: It's still the place for people to go if they want to be forgotten. The sprawling slum that's slowly expanded outwards since the start of the Second Civil War reflects the proclivities of those who inhabit it, and is rife with gambling dens and small-time brothels squeezed in between shanties constructed from the ruins and pieces of salvage. Lines of laundry criss-cross primitive electrical wires strung between shelled-out buildings and businesses that are blanketed in ivy in the summer and snow in the winter. Electricity here is spottier than in the Safe Zone, even with its rolling brownouts — but it exists, and that's enough for most.

The open air market aspires to be the famous Red Hook building inside the Safe Zone but does not quite measure up. Trash piles up in the mouths of alleys and in basement stairwells, only reluctantly cleared when the smell becomes too much for adjacent occupants. Vendors pack the streets beginning at dawn and do not close up shop until a few hours before sunrise the next day, leaving only a few precious hours for sleep, just to accommodate the crush of people seeking out a good deal, or their next meal.

Fresh fish on ice and floating in salty brine are always on offer, as well as the fruits and vegetables turned away from Red Hook on account of being on the verge of spoiling. Others advertise cuts of cured meat hanging from hooks to be bundled in stiff brown paper or an unmarked bag. Some make a living by reselling stolen goods, whether electronics, shoes, or even imitation designer handbags. There is a niche for everything and everything here, which makes it a popular destination for visitors from the Safe Zone who might not want to pay a premium price, or who demand the sort of goods that upstanding people might call unsavory.

It's night, and flickering lights wink cheerlessly on strings and in the windows of businesses that can afford to install glass to protect them. Only a few of the vendors have shut down for the evening, but the crowds aren't as dense as they might be during the daylight, allowing enough room for pairs to walk side by side, or those who are alone to have a clear field of view ahead and behind them.

Always smart.

There are very few people who would recognise John Logan as a man who once considered himself one of the many overlords of the Rookery. It's been long years, and, stepping out of one of the buildings marked as a gambling den only if you know what to look for, he's dressed down enough to just fit in with the current rabble of the marketplace. Inasmuch as he is personally capable. A navy blue wool coat is still a nice coat, fitted at the shoulders. A scarf, knotted under his chin, is only shabby as a fashion decision, as are wool gloves with the fingers sliced off at the tips. His boots are sturdy where they sink into the muck, probably nice enough to warrant a mugging alone, but otherwise, he doesn't wear anything that would tempt fate. Even his gun, a small-sized Beretta, is well hidden in deep pockets.

Mixed feelings. That's what John Logan contends with, whenever he visits what they still call the Rookery. Ever since he was run out the first time, he'd come back several times since, but his lasting last impression is that of his petty little kingdom going up in flame and smoke, and the sounds of gunshots, and his consciousness fading to black.

Fortunately, the powerful smells of garbage and rot and fish tend to jolt him out of memory lane.

Outside, now, he fishes cigarettes out from his other pocket, flickering yellow light from the window above warm on his shoulders. Once done, he breathes out a sigh of steam and smoke, and hunts the passing crowd for a familiar face.

Flashy as a rooster and just about as red, Zain Syan is wearing a bright down coat with a fur collar (probably faux). He is milling near the cured meats with a shorter companion and they seem to be discussing something in quiet tones. His eyes are squinted against the dying light and there's an expression of dismay on his face as his friend speaks. He recognizes John though, in whatever he's wearing and he lifts a hand to wave. Immediately, a wide smile pastes itself to his features.

Before turning back to his conversation partner, Zain takes one of his hands in both of his own and gives it a hearty shake before leaving to join Logan. "Mister Logan," he greets as he falls into step beside the Englishman. "How are you this fine evening?" The smell doesn't seem to be getting to the darker man, either that or he's just too polite to let on that it bothers him.

He does, however, wave a hand at any smoke that threatens to curl in his direction.

A stall away, close enough to eavesdrop on the conversation but too engaged in her own to have noticed Logan and Zain nearby, is Sibyl. Her wool coat and leather boots are unremarkable in the same way she is and do not draw focus; the same cannot be said of the stain on the gauze she wears wrapped around her left hand to staunch the slow, creeping flow of blood. It's a common injury among thieves and scavengers, however, and fails to receive more than a passing glance from anyone other than the seller she's speaking with.

There are more edges to cut yourself on in the ruins surrounding the Safe Zone than there are dull corners. It isn't the first time she's sliced open her palm and — barring tetanus or some other life-threatening infection — it won't be the last.

She produces a dusty bottle of scotch from her bag and presents it to the seller, who inspects the label from behind his wire-frame glasses and makes an impatient gesture as if to ask, What else you got?

So Sibyl shows him a mahogany humidor and its contents, which she'd been hoping to trade with someone else for something more valuable to her, and receives an orange bottle of antibiotics in exchange.

There is something to be said on finding the path of least resistance to a destination; Huruma could have simply dropped herself off at the Safe Zone's edge, certainly— but that would not afford her a ground survey of places she hasn't seen in considerable time. Things are just different enough to need a fresh eye, and her habits have not gone away entirely. The best surveys are in person.

The air is crisp in her lunges and it strikes a contrast to what she's grown used to. Her long coat is open, dark and heavy, loose scarf a dark red, cozied up along her chest and pulled over the crown of her head like a hood. For a considerable time, she only walks the streets, and then the ones of the Rookery. For all that they have seen better days, Huruma meanders as if she has never left, senses open and hands tucked in the pockets of dark pants tight around her hips.

Vendors still showing wares draw her curiosity in passing, including Sibyl's brief exchange. When she feels a familiarity that licks at her field Huruma's head angles faintly towards it, pale eyes drawn eventually towards one John Logan.

Tomcats never truly ''leave'', do they? They just move on.

This is the best time of the evening to go shopping when one wants to avoid being too close to other people. Keira Fionn is dressed up rather snugly, with warm black clothing covering every inch of her skin, save for her face. Even then, a hood is draped over her head, drawn as far up as it can be to keep a small barrier between that exposed skin and others.

A lit cigarette dangles almost precariously from the corner of her lips as she meanders along, occasionally stopping to look at this or that — though not buying anything for now. Really, her attention isn't on any of the wares. Blue eyes land first upon Logan. She remembers him — though not enough to greet him just yet. Her azure gaze doesn't linger long, as Huruma comes into view. The tiny gangster raises a brow — that's the woman who was with her Uncle when she first met him.

Slowly, the woman makes her way toward the empath, puffing at her cigarette like a steam locomotive all the while. She occasionally pauses, glancing around, dodging away from anyone who may even come close to brushing against her — even if she is covered from head to toe, the idea of touch is a bit of a nerve-wracking thing to the little shapeshifer.

She doesn't actually approach Huruma just yet. Instead, she just…lingers.

Zain Syan is easily picked out from the crowd, familiar and bright red, and Logan's eyes meet his at the same time. Logan's instinct, in this instance, is not to draw attention, still and thoughtful in the semi-light of the street as he studies Syan across the street, and on a half-beat of delay, that pasted on smile from the other man is met with a more crooked one from Logan. Possibly a more sincere one.

As Huruma's awareness of the emotional landscape of the street has Logan register on her radar, there comes with it a feeling that shifts from smothered startlement to a slightly dangerous edge of anticipation.

But they're friends, everyone is friends here, evidenced by the easy, "How are you, Zain?" from Logan that's as casual as you please. "I'm wonderful. I love when farmer's market meets dumpster diving, personally. Yourself? How's business?" In the array of lights that keep the street illuminated, it's hard to make out the way green eyes start to glow a little brighter, but for what it's worth, nothing is happening save for a casual monitoring of Zain's biochemistry. You never know.

Ineffable instinct has him glance away, attention caught then on the imposing dark-skinned woman who picked him out of a crowd. It's a good thing he has yet to notice Sibyl, because the less problems he has to contend with all at once, the better.

"Oh business," Zain drones easily enough, his gloved hand makes a swirl through the air before getting tucked back into his pocket. It's likely Logan can sense a bit of heat coming from him and Huruma can definitely feel his annoyance. On the outside, though, he is as polished as ever and his amiable smile is directed to a passerby along with a nod of acknowledgement.

"Speaking of~" he says in a lower, a little more conspiratorial tone, "I do have something I wish to talk to you about, in closer quarters." He pulls a small white card out with two fingers and passes it across his body to the other man. "I'll be set up here for a little while, once the pigeons are taken care of it'll be a nice place."

Before Logan has a chance to take the card, it's suddenly yanked out of reach as Zain jumps out of the way of a deep puddle. His eyebrows hood his dark eyes as he takes a glance over his shoulder, "You'd think there would be a neighborhood association or something to take care of things like that. At least fill the thing with rocks or sand."

Sibyl presses down on the cap with the heel of her hand, wincing, and twists it off. She measures two pills into her opposite palm around the same time the familiar cadence of Logan's voice reaches her ears and takes up residence here like a small, velvety snake. A glance over her shoulder in the Englishman's direction reveals the person he's directing the niceties at.


Huruma senses a bright, hot flash of fear flush through the girl's cheeks, but she presses her lips into a thin line to keep any of that heat from creeping into her expression for more than an instant. There's something else there, too, beneath Sibyl's surface that almost seems to pull at the empath's mind. The same sort of draw causes otherwise uninvolved people to slow down at the scene of an accident as they pass. Something is Very Wrong there.

The street is a painting of moving color, and with it Huruma holds a picture in her head far more deep than the visual. If she senses curiosity too close, she does nothing; she isn't searching for someone like Keira, after all. Not searching for anyone, in particular. The shark has been too migratory for that.

Paused near the still open vendors, Huruma catches Logan's eyes as he finds her. The edges of her lips twitch in an expression of amusement visible from afar, the corners of her eyes narrowing alongside. Whatever he is up to, he doesn't seem to gain any particular threat from her presence. Regardless, Huruma's attention is tugged away like a small hand on her hem.

Sibyl's flicker of fear reads plain, but the gravitational orbit of something else lingering there has curiosity winning out. "You should take those." A gentle reminder to the girl as Huruma silently steps up along her blind side, voice low.

The tiny gangster pauses at the edges of everything, watching quietly. That's a new thing that the little gangster does. She people watches a lot more now. Keira draws another long breath of smoke out of her cigarette, letting the plume of smoke lazily roll out of her mouth and up into the air.

For now, she remains at the fringes, getting close enough to hear a few of the various interactions while still appearing to be a lost criminal smoking a cigarette and taking in the view of the market.

Logan goes to take the card — and then keeps his hand hovered as Zain recovers from a puddle-related near miss. He draws to a slightly impatient halt, having not been on any particularly dogged journey to begin with, hand still out and waiting.

"I've said it before, but you could do a lot better than Staten Island," he says, idle. "Being king of shit island is only well and good until you realise what you're standing in."

He sounds a little like he speaks from experience.

Keeping track of Huruma's movements, he notices the slip of a girl that the woman has sidled up to. There's no great panic on that, and in fact, he turns his shoulder a little like he's considering going so far as to drawing Zain's attention. In all the commotion, the eavesdropper goes unnoticed, for now, as Logan adds, "But if you'd fancy a drink, we could find ourselves closer quarters."

"True.. true.." Zain agrees with that same jovial manner, finally pressing the card into Logan's palm. Then his hand is tucked back into his pocket as he pauses for the other man to catch up with a step or two before continuing on. "But the enforcement on the other side. It just doesn't agree with me."

Whether or not he notices anyone but the man he's talking to, that's up for debate. As it stands, it seems like Zain's entire span of attention is focused on the man he's conversing with. "Drinks I can always do," he smiles and lifts his hand to wave over the man he was talking to before. "Is there a particular location you had in mind or would you like to join me in mine?" There are holes in the wall all over the place. Some of them might even have something in a bottle that hasn't been made in a bathtub.

As they pass by, his elbow bumps the tiny gangster and he pauses for a moment. "Please forgive my slight," she's small enough to be mistaken for a child but he doesn't say anything of the sort. What he does do is pat down his own pockets before moving on.

No disagreement from Sibyl on the subject of the pills she holds in her hand. No glass of water, either, but she pops them anyway and forces herself to swallow. The name printed on the side of the bottle belongs to someone else and is too faded to read. Like the scotch and humidor she traded for the medication, it was likely salvaged from the ruins of what used to be the Bronx.

She cants a look up at Huruma and is surprised at how tall the other woman is, even if the low timbre of her voice is well-suited to her statuesque frame. Blue eyes, or maybe they're gray, study her strong jaw and the shape of her mouth with morbid fascination, which would be totally out of place except—

"I've seen you before," she says. "Huruma Dunsimi." Hesitation, then. Abrupt and juddering. Until a second ago, she'd been moving through the world with quiet confidence, but now she seems as painfully unsure of herself as the woman in front of her.

Sibyl pockets the bottle of antibiotics.

Huruma considers Sibyl's features with care when the girl looks up, more closely gauging her age and demeanor. Young enough to be smart and foolish all at once. Badrani's age. There is a low hum in dark throat when she watches herself being studied, lips pressing together and cheeks pursing slightly against her teeth. "Have you?"

"Mmm. That is what the cards say, anyway…" Huruma laughs, interest piqued; she glances down the street once more but allows the tomcat to stray from her thoughts at last. He is replaced by the kitten.

Raspy, forced laughter punches it's way through the thinning crowds like a blast of cold air. There's a chorus of barking dogs, too, and just up the street people are moving out of the way. It doesn't take long for the source of the noise to come into view. There's four rough-looking German Shepards trotting down the street, no leashes or collars to speak of. Noses in the air, some on the ground, and behind them a pair of men walk — so awkwardly — side by side.

One of the two men is short, with a barrel build and a mop of curly, dark hair atop his head. His off-brand track suit is stained with mud on one side and so is his face, right up to where he has a still-bleeding cut on his brow. Ricky Daselles in a two-bit Refrain dealer from down where Tuck's Pawn Shop used to be back in the day. He's what the Rookery interchangeably calls a "barnacle" and "shit out of luck": somebody who never left the Rookery.

His "companion" for the night is a taller and more wiry man with wispy, close cropped hair and a patchy beard. His tank top is stained with sweat and blood and what's probably a little bit of queso by the collar. Camo pants are tucked into work boots that are caked with mud. Eugene Arrowood is a dog lover, makes his own beef jerkey, and loves guns, trucks, and long walks through the Rookery. His date for the night, Ricky, looks dazed.

"Na, Na, Na— I'm tellin' ya Ricky! I ain't mad you snitch on people. Why, I've known me a whole lotta good CI's in my time. So why you gotta run like that and make my girls get all worked up when you see's me comin, naw?" Eugene cracks a broad smile that is missing a bottom tooth. "Ricky, ain't we friends? Ain't we?" Eugene palms Ricky's chest and gives it a pat.

"Buddy!" Eugene calls back over his shoulder. "Buddy! Where the fuck'd you fall off to? Buddy ain't we friends with Ricky here!?"

She was about to alert Huruma to her existence, but instead, her blue eyes are drawn toward the pair of men and their dogs, one brow raising as she takes another pull from her nearly-gone cigarette. She draws a bit further into the thinning crowd, still making sure not to bump into anyone, tossing the cigarette to the ground and grinding it out with the heel of her black combat boot.

This is, after all, the world that Keira is trying to get back into, so it's probably a good idea to watch a bit. See who is who. See who is what.

Buddy's trooping along some ten or twenty paces back, boots sloppy in the mud, right hand out to press a rubbernecker back into his rat-on-a-stick stand. He has a beer bottle slung down loose in the left — better dressed for the weather in a black leather jacket and wranglers, with the balding back of his scalp prickled bare to the cold.

"I dunno Eugene," he calls back ahead.

"I've never been too keen on Tricky Rickies. Personal preference."

Laughter like that, in a cheerless place like this, doesn't often portend good things. Not for everyone involved, anyway. Logan, slipping Zain's card into a pocket without a glance at what it actually says, has enough common sense to look sharp in the direction of commotion, posture upright.

Impossible not to recognise the Arrowoods when you see them, Eugene up front and inevitably the other one somewhere nearby, dogs on parade and some hapless idiot already in their grasp. The spectacle sits neatly on the border of dangerous and entertaining, as these things are wont, and Logan suggests, to Zain, without steering his attention away, "Your place is fine," and pitches aside his spent cigarette. "Once you're done here."

"Of course, of course," Zain replies, obviously distracted by the sight of the Arrowoods, their dogs, and the track suit wearing gentleman with them. He keeps well away from the canines, it's personal preference as not a fan of animals if he's not wearing them. When one ventures too close, he avoids it with more urgency than the puddle before. A twist of his lanky body has him veering out of the way of a wet nose and the entertainment value that the brothers possess is suddenly gone. "I believe, I am now done."

Here's hoping the vermin have been cleared from the warehouse before he entertains.

"Are you familiar with the track suit they are holding?" He's familiar with the Arrowoods, by reputation more than association but not the other one. His usual smile falters and fades as his expression turns to one of neutral disdain as he follows the little parade. "I believe he looks as though he's been through a bit of the dope as people much younger than I call it."

"Not cards," Sibyl clarifies. Smart and foolish all at once. Cautious and eager all at once. That incongruous sensation is back, crowding Huruma's psychic feelers like dark, oppressive clouds crowd the sky during a gathering storm. "A dream, I think. You were—"

Whatever she was about to say next is scissored short by the commotion tromping down the street. Sibyl spots Eugene first, his dogs, then his brother, and shrinks a half step closer to Huruma, who she treats the same way she might treat an abnormally thick concrete pillar. She draws her coat into her body.

A dream. Of course. Huruma's eyes blink once, the quiet contemplation of a cat behind a window. Her senses prickle like a hundred filaments, curious.

When people move out of the way of something, the berth always has a reason. The raucous barks of dogs and laughter have the street peeling like a zipper from the presence of men and canines. People dying to see what's happening here and there, one muscled away by the straggler of the three.

Huruma only gives the lot a passive glance before looking away to keep them in her peripheral vision. Her empathic field contracts slightly, coiling around on itself and offering her a more compact study. Something about the short one is familiar, though she can't place it. Like a forgotten lyric, or a synonym that you can't quite remember. Sibyl's presence finds her shadow, and Huruma, as she is wont to do for stray kittens, remains where she is, a shelter.

"Aw Ricky, Buddy might be an unripe cantaloupe but he'ssa good judge of character. If Buddy don' like you, that says somethin' about who you are down in here." At that assertion, Eugene taps two fingers at Ricky's chest. Ricky's response is a few rapid blinks, a gasping breath, and then a look over at Eugene.

"He— I think he was generalizing?" Ricky tries to disentangle himself from this whole situation, flashing helpless looks to anyone who will so much as make eye contact with him. "If I— "

Eugene tugs his arm around Ricky tighter. "Ricky, Buddy ain't smart enough t'know how t'generalize." Eugene makes an uncomfortable amount of eye contact with Ricky when he says that, lower jaw jutting out at the end of his drawling sentence. "Now," Eugene leans close. "You was about t'say somethin' about them guns before you gone and rabbited on me. Before you gone and made my girls haf'ta catch that rabbit!"

Ricky's eyes meet John Logan twice in the crowd. Eugene follows the sight line, spots the well-dressed man against the sea of vermin, then looks back.

"Whas'sa matter Ricky? You look a little green!" Eugene wheezes out a raspy laugh directly in Ricky's face, then swiftly disentangles his arm from around him and shoves him forward. "Now, see, I thought we was friends. But buddy here don't think so. With you bein' a nice big CI I can see why Ricky. So, who's right?" Eugene is very intentionally making a public scene of this, dragging Ricky around, calling him out as a criminal informant. It's bad. "Are we friends? Or ain't we?"

Ricky swallows, nervously, and makes pointed eye contact at Logan again. Tracking from Eugene to the dapper old barnacle of the Rookery.

"Now why're you lookin' at that Fancy Lad, Ricky? He ain't gonna help you none. I asked you about guns son, not wingtip shoes and whatever nice Scotch her drinks." Eugene looks over at Logan, makes too much eye contact. One of Eugene's dogs lifts a head, sniffs at the air, then looks back down.

There’s an uncomfortable tension everywhere.

Another cigarette is fetched from the pocket of Keira's long black trenchcoat, the tiny blonde remaining close-ish to Huruma. If Uncle Ben was with her, she's got to be at least kind of okay. The woman places the white cylinder in her mouth, casting another glance to the tall woman — then, her attention is back on the scene playing out in front of her, one brow raising as she memorizes faces and names.

Blue eyes go from Ricky to Logan, then to Eugene, that eyebrow canting up even more as she moves to lean against a wall. Don't mind the tiny blonde shapeshifter, she's just having a smoke break and watching the drama unfold.

Unripe as he is, Buddy tags along at the caboose of this procession like an iron flail, shit kickers and swagger keeping the exit clear behind them. Every so often someone gives the drama ahead a funny look, and he tips an apple out of a crate or upends a rack of knock off sunglasses helter-skelter into the mud.

Nothing a washrag won't fix, minus one pair of Louis Fauxtons that goes crunch under his heel.

His eyeline goes low after the snap of plastic, and in doing so, catches on a pair of wide blue eyes in the shadow of — Huruma. And her coat. The more he looks up, the more of her there is to look up at, and he sinks back on his heels, mired in the depths of a holy shit that never quite finds its way through a swig of his beer.

"Hate to be the one to break it to you," he tells the girl under her wing, with a tip and slosh of his bottle, "but you're adopted."

As much as cigarettes are one of Logan's more pervasive habits, he doesn't go through them as if on a chain, particularly not when he's already gone off the taste of his last. However, he now nervously takes out this evening's second without yet lighting up, expressly for something to do with his hands. There are a few flight-instincts going on right now, thinking as fast as he possibly can as he considers the scenario, guarded under the pointed looks he is suddenly being subject to.

Rednecks and their stupid redneck dogs aren't his scene.

But he's not entirely sure that leaving this man in their hands is a good idea, even with Zain at his elbow. So he says, "Yeah," to the Pakistani's question, dragging his attention away from inculpating eye contact for a moment even as he angles himself just a little closer to the commotion, shoulder turned to it. "He's a regular at Zamoyski's. Loses money every Wednesday. You know the type, clawing his way back to even by 3 am. Seems like he'll have his work cut out for him now." This may or may not be true, or true enough.

Stalling, just a little. Enough that halfway through innocuous chatter, something starts to worm its way into Eugene's thickened muscle of a heart. Panic, on a chemical level, begins to make it pitter-patter just so, as fear like copper starts to rise at the back of his throat. It'll be a few more moments until a more full blown panic attack sinks hooks in his chest.

"Are you much of a gambler, Zain?" he asks, prompting attention, all of a sudden. We're having a conversation!! While a man-gorilla knocks over some knockoff designer sunglasses. That subtle gleam in Logan's eyes has increased just a small measure — maybe it's the lighting. "You should come by the Safe Zone and try your luck."

Zain's hand comes up in the air slowly, just short of touching Logan with the back of his hand. A short stop if you will in the conversation. His attention caught on the subject matter and his dark brown eyes nearly bore into Ricky. He follows the track suit's line of sight— Right. To. Logan. whereupon the corners of his lips raise ever so slightly. Almost like a nervous tick.

"I am, actually," he replies as his smile widens a little more, catlike. "It is something that I wished to speak with you about." But the guns. Ah well, he lowers his hand to spread it out in invitation to Logan to continue on their path. "The Safe Zone, though.." He clicks his tongue and his expression turns slightly apologetic. "I'm sure I could find myself there one night, cards?"

Sibyl squints at Buddy, unsure whether he's making a joke or if the very unkind rumours going around the island about him are true. Is it Buddy? She glances past him, at Eugene, and then back at Buddy again. Same height, same build, same peach fuzz cap.

She decides it ultimately doesn't matter. An Arrowood is an Arrowood. "I like your dogs," she tells him. "Can I pet one?"

Eugene seems to have a keener sense of how to work a crowd. Buddy less so. Huruma only turns her eyes when he looks up at her, hands remaining in her pockets and features stark against the sharp shadows cast by her cheekbones. She knows how to handle men like him, but she also knows better than to come stomping in and disrupting delicate ecosystems.

"Nothing wrong with that." Huruma's eyes narrow when she responds, at somewhere near a purr. She doesn't remark on the lesser wisdom of wanting to pet one of the dogs. Do you really want the fleas, Sibyl?

Eugene is halfway into a languid extension of his arm around Ricky's shoulder when a creeping sense of anxiety and dread builds up in his chest. He recoils from Ricky first, the way someone might when they spotted a spider. Ricky flinches too, for entirely different reasons. The dogs look at Eugene with ears perked up as he clicks his tongue amid the gesticulations. He finally sees Huruma's dark silhouette isn't a tent post but a person who seems too tall, too dark, and too angular for his comfort.

"Eug— " is about as far as Ricky gets before Eugene is swatting at the back of his own head, huffing deep breaths and scuffing footsteps backwards. He mutters incoherent things, nonsense noises mixed with boisterous hoots and snorts like a gorilla's last breaths after it realizes it's been shot. He stumbles around, world swimming from his perspective. One of his dogs barks, not threateningly, just— concerned. The noise sets Eugene off and he whips a handgun out from the back of his waistband. The barrel swings right across Sibyl's eye level and then fixes on a dark corner of the street. Ricky freezes, the dogs perk up when they see the gun.

"Fuckers," Eugene splitters, swatting at his own face again. Snot is running out of his nose, tears at the corners of his eyes. He's fighting the effects, as if he's cognizant that it's an outside force affecting him. But biology beats willpower, and Eugene Arrowood is hop-skipping backward and away from Sibyl, gun in hand. "Fuckers!" He shouts, "mother— motherfucking fuckers!"

It’s not all that different from the one time Eugene did coke.

He winds up sprinting into the middle distance, followed by his own dogs this time too. Ricky is left with—

No, nevermind. There's just muddy footprints where Ricky was. He saw an opportunity when one presented itself.

"Who said there was anything wrong with it?"

Imposing as Huruma is, with Eugene and his pack ahead working the crowd, Buddy's bold enough to sink himself down into a crouch in plain sight, closer to Sibyl's level. More primitive by the second. Elbow at his knee, knuckles grazing mud, he considers the proposition of pets with all due seriousness.

"These dogs ain't really much for affection."

His eyes are blue too, chipped sharp as bits of glass in his scruffy tater tot of a head. Maybe a sliver keener than his reputation might imply; if Huruma's scoping in the right direction, she might pick up on a rifle of predatory interest at the base of his beer-addled brain. "Now, I got a pup back home — "

Slap slap slap at the back of Eugene's head, a bark, and Buddy turns to see a gun barrel swinging their way. Quick off the block, ol' Buddy slippy-slides into a heel-twisting lurch to his feet, "EUGENE," barked late after his brother's retreat.

Tink, he fastballs the butt of his beer bottle full force off the middle of Ricky's fleeing back as he takes off.


With a predatory twitch of interest, Logan's focus breaks off Zain to watch Eugene barrel away, and Ricky make his speedy exit. His eyes are slow to return to a normal colour, keeping an awareness switched on for now, but his own readied tension starts to leak out of his posture. His tongue swipes along canines inside his lip, giving one last look to where Sibyl stands in the other Arrowood's sight.

A flicker of concern, before he decides the waif is more capable than poor Ricky when it comes to getting away. If the snitch winds up with his skull crushed in by the end of the night—

Well. So long as he didn't talk, first.

"Poker," Logan says, to Zain. "You might like it. It's not as on the straight and narrow as you'd imagine." Even if military vehicles and corporate trucks roam the street, now and then. He hooks a hand into Zain's elbow. Around them, the commotion's release has the atmosphere sliding back to normal, the chatter of the marketplace rising up from its hushed murmur around their ears. "Come on, let's skip the next sideshow of bullshit. You wanted to talk."


Zain manages to keep a pleasant expression on his face while a shudder forms at the base of his spine, crawls up his back, and then back down again. "It sounds simply— delightful," he says after his moment of silent terror. Pulling his hand out of his pocket, he swipes his fingers across his chin in thought before putting words to the gears in his head. "That is the game they played on the tele, I believe on the sport channel." Once upon a time.

He allows his elbow to be taken without so much as a flinch or an insulted yank of his arm. The moment he has his back turned to where the small parade of redneck, dog, and tracksuit once was, they are put out of mind. Something to be pondered over later. "I've watched the game played once or twice," never experienced it himself though, "I must admit I don't believe I have the face for it."

Tricky Ricky has the right idea, Sibyl thinks. Relief washes over her body as Buddy's attention swings away, and she slips between two plastic crates containing twenty-odd pounds of bruised, unsorted oranges and nectarines. Fruit flies lazily drift through the air around the stall like motes of light or dust.

As a general rule, if she can smell the alcohol on someone's breath, then they're standing too close — and she's still in the process of shaking off Buddy's scent when she disappears into a yawning alley mouth a moment later.

Her desire to stay and speak with Huruma has vanished, too. Like the feral cats she shares the streets with, she's easily startled and does not look back over her shoulder once she's decided to take off at a nimble lope.

There is only time for Huruma's lips to pull back in a sneer over her teeth towards the second Arrowood. Then panic sets into Eugene's body. Huruma can feel it taking over; she looks up, just as he begins to stumble and seems to recognize something is wrong. For once, it wasn't her. She contains a smile, and refrains from searching the street for a culprit.

The gun's path earns an eye, and Huruma's frame shifts again when the man begins to wave it around; her feet plant more firmly, the lines of her coat cast over her thighs, hands still slid casually into pockets.

Huruma's gaze follows as Eugene backs up and swears his way back down the street, four-legged gang in tow. Leaving the other in his wake to catch up. Lovely partner he's got there.

The tall woman's silhouette turns to consider the empty space between crates, her space now void of small teenagers. Her nostrils flare in disquiet, and for a moment she entertains the desire to follow. No. She has other things to take care of.

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