cassandra_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Gumbo
Synopsis As the snowstorm rages on, Cassandra feeds a stray.
Date March 22, 2018

Safe Zone

With the teeth of a nor'easter firmly holding New York's safe zone, it's rare that people manage to make it to where they need to be. Bundled up tight in an overcoat, gloves, boots, and everything one could really put on to keep the heat in, Cassandra is on her way home after a long day of investigating the Red Cross food thefts. Her apartment is in one of the medium blocks around the city - nice, but not too nice, without too much trouble to be found.

Just because there's snow doesn't mean people get the day off from work. Those that can't navigate the snow-blanketed streets and can afford to stay home, have. Which makes things relatively quiet, even in the hush of falling snow. Squeaks hasn't gotten the day off. Not that she has a real job, but she does work daily at surviving. And that's almost the same thing.

Layered in clothes that are definitely too big, a hat that came straight out of a 1970's ski catalog, and mittens that have seen better days, the kid is doing her best to avoid the cold. She's trudging through the snow, on a mission it would appear. But a mission that allows her enough time to pause and examine an abandoned box filled with random goods or poke at a discarded bag found at the entrance to an alley.

The box is full of tin cans - some burst from the contents rotting or botulism, others cracked open, the contents scraped clean, the roaches taking the rest. The bag is full of household trash but, with garbage service not a usual thing in the Safe Zone, it'll probably stay there for weeks before it's ripped open, the contents scattered across the street to be swept up into another bag, the cycle continuing.

The sun is setting as Cassandra makes her way closer, the temperature dropping, wind thankfully coming from a direction opposite the buildings, making the walk home a little less bone-chilling, the wind blowing the snow over the sidewalk instead of on it. It's actually not bad, all things considered. She stops, the snow crunching under her boots, peering at the short kid wrapped in a mismatched collection of clothes. She looks around and then, pulling her scarf down a little, whistles. "Hey." She waves, walking over. "I know you." Not in a bad way, of course. "You were in the bar the other night, weren't you? During St. patrick's day?"

Today has the appearance of being a lean day. Squeaks nudges the box with a foot, as though it might turn up something better. She's not so hungry as to risk the sicknesses that come with rotting food and roaches. Not yet. She moves on with the same purpose, or starts to. Cassandra's appearance has her not moving off, but not quite stopping either. She's somewhere in between.

"Maybe." It's not much of an answer. Squeaks did go into a bar, but what night it was is probably lost on her. "Been in a lot of places."

"No, I think it was you." Cassandra lifts her hands to show she's not got anything on her, coming a little closer to keep from having to shout over the wind. "You were getting all the finger foods and then started taking the limes and the cherries from the bar before the fight broke out…." She's dropping a few more hints.

Nudge as much as you want, the box is fairly picked through. Not much in there at all.

Cassandra actually looks a little concerned. "You okay, cher? Got some gumbo on at home, if you're grangou." She slips into a bit of Cajun at the end.

"Maybe." The kid isn't admitting to anything, but she's not exactly denying it either. As Cassandra comes closer, Squeaks doesn't back away or make an effort to maintain a safe distance. She does, though, keep track of possible escape routes. Her eyes dart from the woman to the alley the cast a glance across the street. "I'm fine." She's not sure what grangou is, or why you'd need to be it for gumbo.

Standing there with her hands stuffed in her pockets, Cassandra frowns a little. "Sorry…sometimes when I'm tired I slip into cajun. Something from growing up down south. Listen….if you're hungry, come with me and I'll give you a bowl of something warm. Just rice and gumbo, but it's better than you'd think. You don't even need to come into the house if you don't want to. Just…y'know…hang out and I'll bring you out a bowl." She starts moving down the street towards a particular brownstone that's in fairly nice condition.

As the woman walks away, Squeaks turns to watch her. Eventually, she starts after Cassandra, but not until she's a good dozen paces away. She's cautious, rightfully so when the destination becomes clear. A nice house. The brownstone gives her pause and she lingers in the snow instead of crossing over to it. "Who are you," she calls out to the woman.

The woman stops, turning to look at Squeaks. "I'm Cassie. I was the one who put Freddy Mercury on stage at the bar the other night. Stopped the fight and cleared the place out mostly." She grins. "Just someone who wants to help. C'mon. I'm in 2b." She motions for Squeaks to come closer, mounting the steps one-at-a-time, opening the door with the twist of an oversized key and starting into the lobby and up the stairs, the door ajar for Squeaks to follow if she likes.

"Fancy place," Squeaks mutters to herself. She watches the building that Cassandra disappears into, trying to place her misgivings and cautions. "Fancy place," she mutters again, giving her head a shake. "She looks fancy, too." Blowing out a breath, the kid slowly trudges across the street, not bothering to look before stepping out. There's not a lot of traffic to worry about.

She's just as slow about taking the stairs up. And when she slips into the building it's done with the ease one accustomed to ghosting through places. Squeaks pauses at the foot of the stairs to the second floor, considering abandoning the woman's offer. But eventually she's climbing the steps, quiet as a cat and ready to turn 'round and run at the first sign of trouble.

There are no signs of trouble. The apartment building is quiet, without any trash in the hallways and a few lights here and there to show the way. Apartments are quiet, the doors locked, the halls narrow, but as Squeaks mounts the stairs, she will see that 2b is open partially and the smell of something good is trickling out, filling the hall. The front door does close when Squeaks is about halfway up the stairs with a click, but there's no buzz of electric locks - or locks of any kind - that can be seen. Just a simple crash bar that will allow exit without any problem.

The sound of the door closing turns the kid around. For a long moment, she stares at the door and considers again abandoning any potential meal she could have. It wouldn't be the first time she's decided against an offer. She even eases down a couple of steps before convincing herself to stop being stupid. Nice, clean houses don't always mean trouble. "Yeah, right," is a sarcastic response to her own musings.

Turning again, Squeaks eases up to the second floor landing. From there, she stares at the open door. Then a foot reaches out to touch the door and push it further open.

The apartment is small - one bedroom with a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Nothing to write home about and barely large enough for a dinner for more than two people, but it's home for Cassandra. Her jacket and bag are hung by the door and she's standing by the stove, stirring a big cast iron pot that smells really good. She looks over at the sound of the door squeaking open and, at the sight of Squeaks, smiles a little. "Come on in. Have a seat and I'll get you a bowl. Do you need tabasco?"

"Why?" The question comes as Squeaks steps into the doorway. She doesn't go further. She's damp from a day in the snow, but more pressing is her desire to not find herself in a trap. That's a difficult feeling to shake, even now. "I can't pay. Could trade." She digs into her coat pocket until she finds that kerchief from Delilah. It's dingy now, after a few days in her pocket. "Not much, but it was fancy."

"Why tabasco?" Cassandra asks, coming out of the kitchen with a large bowl with rice and chicken & sausage gumbo in it. "I suppose to give a little bite to the meal. Let you know you're alive." She sets the bowl and tabasco bottle on the far side of the coffee table closest to the door before straightening up and heading back to the kitchen to get her own bowl.

"Or why am I offering food and a warm place?" Cassandra turns to look at Squeaks, in the door of her apartment, the ladle scraping on the bottom quietly as she makes her bowl. "I don't know, really. Because….because of something at work, I guess. A kid we found in the sewers. William DeLuca was his name." She lowers herself to a chair with an exhale of breath, stirring her bowl idly. "I just….it wasn't nice, the way that he lived. It was hard. And…well….If I can help someone not be in that position, I will."

"What do you do?" That might be the most important question, and it's asked with a sort of deeper wariness. Squeaks is quick to claim that bowl left out for her, even as she poses the question. The kerchief, since it wasn't taken, is put back into her pocket while the bowl is juggled. This frees up her hands so she can eat, which she does with some haste.

Cassandra sits and eats quietly, watching Squeaks. "I'm an investigator for SESA." she says after swallowing a mouthful of the gumbo, wiping her face with a napkin that she had on the table for just such an occasion. "I help find people and things, and I'm pretty good at my job, I guess."

"Oh." Oh. Squeaks keeps an eye on Cassandra, just as much as she's watched. All the while gulping down the bowl of gumbo she'd been given. The caution never leaves her, and her survivalist instinct keeps it managed. She'd never have made it as far in life as she has if she'd not kept her wits about her.

No sense in lying to the girl. Squeaks probably gets lied to daily, which explains the wariness that's going on right now. "Slow down your eating. You'll burn your tongue." she says quietly, getting to her feet to grab a drink. "You want anything? I've got water, tea, and soda. Normally I'd want juice, but that's impossible to get nowadays…" She grumbles softly to herself, realizing exactly what that must sound like.

Spoon pausing half way between bowl and mouth, Squeaks gives Cassandra a look at the warning. She huffs, not loudly, more like just a short exhale. She doesn't quiet slow down, it seems like she has but really the bites are just bigger.
[OOC] Squeaks says, "Sorry. Got pulled away to help with making lunch"

"Speakin' from experience, ti bĂȘte." The eating continues for a few moments, Cassandra scraping her bowl and getting up for seconds. Gumbo on a cold night is always a good thing, warming you body and soul. She dishes up more, adding rice to the bottom for more bulk and ladling the gravy and gumbo over the top of it all, making a thick, rich stew that sticks to one's ribs. For a small woman, she knows how to eat.

Likewise, Squeaks' bowl is scraped clean. As she had before, she leans into the apartment just far enough to put the bowl on the table she'd taken it from. "Thanks." After a pause she motions toward the stairs just behind her then starts to turn that way. "Getting dark."

The bowl is taken to the kitchen and, from the bedroom, a soft meow can be heard. A little black cat with spots of white on its nose peeks it's head out of the bedroom, blinking golden eyes around the apartment. "That's Minou." Cassandra says after a second, glancing out the window before answering the question. "It is getting dark. And cold. If you want seconds, they're yours. If you want, you can hang out here for a while and get dry, fill your belly, and then you can go when you want. Just don't let Minou out."

"Can't this time." Squeaks eases a foot backward, then the other. "Gotta get home before it's too dark." That's only partly true, but she doesn't need to own up to technicalities. She eyes the cat, then starts to draw the door closed to keep it in the apartment and allow herself to retreat down the stairs.

Cassandra nods. "Try to stay warm." She makes no move to stop Squeaks from leaving, giving the younger girl a wave as she retreats.

The door closes with a soft click. It closes the cat, food, and warmth inside. Squeaks stares at the door for a hard second. Fancy places aren't necessarily dangerous, but she'll be sure to tread very carefully. Letting out a measured exhale, Squeaks eases herself backward until she finds the stairs, then turns and retreats down. By the time she's at the first floor and pushing through the crash bar, she's practically jogging through the snow to put distance between herself and the neat brownstone.

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