Issuing In The Year Of The Tiger


bao-wei_icon.gif felix_icon.gif melissa_icon.gif noriko_icon.gif pandora_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Issuing in the Year of the Tiger
Synopsis The denizens of New York City gather in Columbus to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Date February 14, 2010

Chinatown - Columbus park

February 14th, 2010. Valentines Day for many, and for many others, the first day of a new year on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. The Year of the Tiger. Concerns over safety may have led to a ban on fireworks inside of New York City, but the festivities are nonetheless provided in part by the city itself, and so have thousands gathered in Columbus Park to welcome the deities of heaven and earth.

Even before the firecrackers and rockets are lit, it's obvious even beyond the multitude of spectators that today is an important day. The park is decorated with red paper lanterns and streamers. Music from drums here and there, not too close too the firecrackers to be readily seen but not so far away they can't be heard, fills the air along with the smells of food sold by numerous vendors: Noodles, dumplings, and nian gao, Chinese New Year cake.

The excitement of the crowd is palpable as event staff finish final preparations before the first firecrackers are ignited, and although much of Chinatown is present, so too are individuals from elsewhere in New York City, regardless of their ancestry. This is a celebration for all, and it won't be long before it begins.

Though clearly not Chinese, even a little, Melissa has wandered out for the celebration. What better way to settle in to a new city than a bit party? She's wrapped in an ankle length coat to keep her warm, and has a knit cap tugged on as well. Right now she's just wandering around, sipping on a soda as she looks at, well, everything she can.

Towering over many of those of Asian descent is the 5'8" figure of Peyton Whitney. She is wearing a red coat in honor of the holiday, and her cheeks are pink from both the cold and the excitement. She may not be Chinese, but she loves the holiday, having been to every Chinese New Year celebration in Chinatown since she was a child. The carnival of sights and sounds and smells is one not to be missed, even if no one was up to coming with her today. She doesn't mind, as she moves to find a good view of the fireworks, her hands clutching a sweet and creamy Vietnamese coffee purchased from a nearby vendor.

Much like Peyton's coat, Chinatown is flooded with various shades of red, from the lanterns to the clothes on people's backs, and of course the scores of red envelopes that seem to collect in the hands of children. Though the afternoon is young, and only the beginning of the week, Bao-Wei seems to be less enthusiastic than he might have been years previous. One of the few times that everyone seems to literally just forget everything, and he barely got a lick of sleep due to things outside of his control, not to mention waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to sleep out of sheer anger. But, he tries to be civil today, even managing to look somewhat sharp in what seems to be a new casual suit; it's dark, and his tie matches the red of the lanterns, almost eye-blindingly so.

His usual places to idle during festivities have been nearly wiped out thanks to the nigh-inexistence of the Flying Dragons. Usually, it would not be odd to find him with Chang, Liu, or even Song, possibly to watch her when she would wander. The memories come with a measure of bitterness, of course, but there is no longer anything he can do but quell mourning and try to recall even further back when the two children ran around with the rest of them, trying to connive envelopes off of the adults with a mixture of innocent smiles and playful quips.

For lack of a better place to be, Doctor Cong has simply taken to wandering the side of the street. He is given a wide berth by the young men, while the elders out and about seem keen on striking up conversation. Women and children are hit and miss- at least one sprout in a store window sticks out her tongue at him, but there is a conspicuously big bandaid on her arm- so there is probably a good reason.

This is the first time in her life that Pandora Rasmussen has attended the festival to celebrate the lunisolar new year stag. As a child, she would wander around, clutching her parents' hands, excited that she was allowed to stay up past her bedtime. Attending with her parents would continue until her mid-twenties. Once she married, it was her husband's hand that she would hold as she explained the significance of her traditions. A hand over her stomach reminds the woman that she isn't truly here alone.

A bronze-coloured puffa jacket is zipped up over a noticeable baby bump. Pandora stands taller than most women at 5'10", letting her gaze sweep over the crowd and veering once she spots a vendor that actually sells decaffeinated tea.

Melissa doesn't smile or nod or show any other signs of recognition that at least some of the people here are showing. Instead the now empty Coke bottle is chunked in the trash and she finds a semi-out of the way spot to watch the fireworks from, and takes a moment ot light up a cigarette, puffing away while she people-watches.

Melissa will be hard-pressed to find an advantageous spot to watch the show from: People have been showing up for nearly an hour to get good seats. The more daring of them, stuck away from the 'best seats' have given a try at climbing some of the shorter, leaf-bare trees. A few have succeeded in finding good sitting spots.

Peyton finds herself in a similar predicament that Melissa does, and sadly for her, what height advantage she possesses does little to aid her in seeing over the top of the crowd. Her coffee, at least, does well to keep her warm in the chilly air of a New England afternoon.

Bao-wei, the good doctor, is in no place to have a good or even really mediocre view of the pyrotechnics, their start looming not more than mere minutes away. Instead, he is left to contend sporadic pairs and groups of children running and playing, shoes not making so much as a 'crunch' in the thin layer of snow still on the ground, although with the temperature as it is, it won't be there much longer. It may be a sadder day for him than he should care for, but the new year is beginning, and with the departure of the old year will come the departure of the bad spirits and the ill luck they bring with them. It will be better from here.

For Pandora too, here for the first time without a companion that can talk to her, things will be better. Soon, they will be better: If anyone present is, in fact, selling 'baby-safe' tea, they aren't doing a lot to advertise that they have it. Much more prominent besides food and also coffee are vendors with a variety of jade ornaments and jewelry, kites, ceramics, and even one not yet 'opened for business,' it would seem, but that advertises prominently a performance of shadow puppetry.

The clairvoyant stops trying to move to the front and simply leans against a post to peer around and take in the chaos. Her dark eyes narrow when they alight upon Bao-Cong — he's a familiar form, though she isn't entirely sure he is who she thinks he is. She shivers nonetheless, thinking back to an outing with Harlow of all people, and finding people in cages like animals. Waiting for the fireworks, she pulls out her new iPhone to flip through some old messages, and to send a new one, something to pass the time as she sips her sweet coffee.

He could not have said it any better, were he asked. The lunar New Year remains as such- a new year. His aim is not so much to get a view as it is simply to make himself stay outside. Expertly is the only description of how he manages to avoid knocking any wayward children over or getting his toes trodden on. Being both tall and wide his whole life makes for lots of time to practice any fancy footwork, no less. Peyton's awareness of him would not bother him much, if he knew of it. Whatever his plan is today, it is not to look out for faces he may have seen weeks ago.

He pauses a while at one of the smaller storefronts, apparently manned by an old woman that really does not seem much more than bones and wrinkles. A young man is there with her, chances are that he is one of many grandchildren. He, on one hand, avoids looking at Doctor Cong; the old woman, on the other, sees no harm in starting a spirited exchange of words with him in her already frail Cantonese, and she needs to pause a moment before continuing, with Bao-Wei otherwise rapt at attention, hands tucked in his pants pockets.

With a small whoosh of breath, Pandora gives up her pursuit of a warm beverage in favour of leaning against a lamp post. It's one of those days where the fatigue has settled in earlier than usual. The scent of cigarette smoke causes the woman's nose to wrinkle, her sense of smell made more sensitive by pregnancy. She swears she can smell moonbeams at night, or electricity when she sits too close to an outlet. Soldiering on, she sweeps past the source, a woman with blonde and black hair, so she can stand upwind from the smell.

Melissa doesn't seem too very upset over the view she manages to get. Instead she just leans against the side of a building, one hand going into her coat pocket, the other busied with lifting her cigarette to her lips then back down again. Most of the people nearby get glances from her, some longer than others.

Noriko is one of those people who came a couple of hours early to get herself a decent seat. It sounded like something that she might enjoy, and as her eyes look around the place, she wishes that Bella had been able to come with her. Shrugging her shoulders, she looks back to the where it has been designated for various firey things to go off, a smile on her lips as she drinks from a bottle of water.

For anyone present and mobile (or even not), they are clued in that something is happening when the front most rows of the crowd provide applause and cheers, and Peyton's iPhone will confirm what she likely suspected; 12:01 p.m. It's show time, and the first in a series of 'cracks!' likewise says as much. The one, followed by two more in rapid sucession, and then finally a steady staccato of bangs and flashes and growing clouds of grey smoke as bundles of firecrackers start to detonate. Even far back from the display, it's still possible to see what is going if, if not so well. The technicians did their job well, and the show only gets better as a pair of rockets take off from the staging ground. They burst in the air, not the large, flashy and colorful effects as might be expected, but they still make a terrific 'bang!' leading the way for more as they sporadically take flight while the firecrackers, hundreds of them in chained bundles, continue to explode, eliciting cheers and celebrations from the crowd as they frighten and chase of evil spirits.

If there's anything that Peyton Whitney needs chased off, it's evil spirits — though hers are too real and come in the personas of such as Emil Danko and the Nightmare Man. She tilts her head, finding someone closer to the front; she lets their vision take the place of her own so she can see the display in all its glory. Her pupils stretch and widen while the brown rings shrink until it's just a sliver of a ring around the wide black centers. Much better — she can now watch the pyrotechnic effects without looking over thirty feet of heads in front of her. Luckily, most people are too busy watching themselves to notice her strange eyes.

Spirits and worries alike are chased away for Pandora, momentarily forgetting all the ill of the past couple months. She watches the display, a wonderful distraction, a smile coming to her lips. She tips her head to one side and murmurs to the tall woman standing next to her. "It's not nearly as much fun as last year, but it's not bad, huh?" While Pandora doesn't look out of place in Chinatown, her Bronx-Brooklyn accent is slightly amiss. She does a double-take as she glances over to the person she's attempting to strike up conversation with. What is wrong with her eyes? Is she on something?

Melissa goes up to her toes in an attempt to see a little better, but after a moment just gives up. She glances around, and catches Pandora's double-take, but not the reason for it. So, as the cigarette is lifted again, a brow arches curiously.

As the sounds and smoke begin to pop and crackle from the head of the street, almost all of the kids that are waist-high disappear from the sidewalks and squirm into the front of the crowds lining the road. Doctor Cong breathes a small sigh of relief at this, even though he is supposedly listening to the woman talking beside him. Something makes him turn his head to her grandson, who promptly edges away from her other side.

If Peyton is truly feeling safe, she won't need to look through his head; but in the event that she does, for whatever reason, she- and anyone still trailing behind the crowd- will see plain as day the old woman picking up one of hundreds of substandard trinkets and rather bravely lifting her hand and sticking the pin onto the lapel of Bao-Wei's suitcoat. He winces; okay, maybe she was not as careful as she used to be. Approximately one hundred years ago.

It's a little red and gold dragon, by the way- its forepaw clutching at a faux pearl of watery blue. There are some things in Chinatown that you just need to bear with.

Noriko doesn't have any nifty power of looking through other people's eyes, and the young japanese woman has had enough of her memories lost that she can even manage to feel safe usually. Her eyes watch the display with a smile while she cranes her head back, enjoying the show and not worrying about what may or may not be happening behind her.

Strange women who might be on drugs are not the only thing laying siege to pandora's world, although the other thing is noticeably less jarring, only lightly bumping against her leg. Nothing but a house cat, its fur the color of ashes, probably a stray. A brazen stray to be around so many people with so much noise, but just a stray nonetheless. It casually walks off, disappearing into the crowd with no fanfare or excitement, just a cat. Melissa notices it too, although she will also notice a second cat, a grey tabby, some ways further down hopping up onto a bench. Slightly startling the older couple taking a break on it, but otherwise causing no fuss.

The firecracker display has some showmanship to it, it emerges now, with two more bundles starting to make noise while the sporadic rockets suddenly become a coordinated group of twenty or so sailing up rapid fire, the sound something akin to nearby machine gun fire with everything going off. Shortly after, the drums that were merely in the background pick up in volume as more are added, competing much more fairly with the other noise. Further off, a lion dance has started, and although the firecrackers continue popping, the rockets appear to be finished off. Just as well, perhaps, as the smoke from the firecrackers is thick enough without anymore help.

When someone speaks to her, Peyton is startled, closing her eyes for a moment to rein her vision back in to her own surroundings, rather than that of the Chinese man down in front. "It's really neat," she agrees, opening her eyes again and turning them to Pandora with a smile. The irises are normal now — dark brown eyes with properly-sized pupils. Maybe Pandora will think she imagined the spaced-out look of a moment ago. Peyton notices Melissa's glance their way and gives a slight smile. She's used to being stared at in public, after all. She returns her eyes to the festivities, though now she can't see as well, to watch the lion dance. "This is so much more interesting than normal New Year," she adds, to be sociable, to Pandora.

Pandora's brows furrow, startled by the cat that brushes her leg. Brave to be out amongst all these people, and it surprises her that the feline isn't cowering from all the noise. The thought is brushed off, as is the curiosity over what she thought she saw in Peyton's eyes. "Do you think so? Have you ever been to Times Square for the festivities? I've never gone myself, so I suppose I can't really compare. I did used to try to stay up to watch Dick Clark on TV as a kid, though."

Melissa does indeed notice the cats and she smiles a bit, wiggling fingers at the nearest of the two cats, and scratching lightly against the side of her leg, making that scratching sound that always seems to attract kitties for petting.

Noriko eyes turn away from the fireworks as things begin to slow down and come to an end. Her eyes moving to look at the crowd behind her while she sees about making her way through it. Maybe she can find herself something nice to eat.

Perhaps curiously, that cat ignores Melissa entirely, not even pausing to look at her before it's gone. Or perhaps not so curiously. Between the music, the crowd, and above all that, the firecrackers, she might well need a megaphone before that scratching is going to be heard. C'est la vie.

Noriko has plenty of options for food, if she is so inclined. Dumplings, noodles, Chinese New Year cake, tanghulu skewers (although that's more of a kiddie thing), although there does appear to be an absence of anything with meat in it. And cat. Not to eat, mind. Just cat, a flash of orange and white fur that zips between legs and then clambers up a short tree somewhere nearby. If Melissa's eyes happen to turn slightly skyward, she'll spot it as well. Sure are a lot of strays around today.

"I have… I grew up here, so I've pretty much done anything there is to do in New York," Peyton says with a nod and a smile. She glances down at her cell phone and then gives a wave. "I've got to go meet someone. Enjoy the party," she tells the friendly woman, before glancing down at a blur of orange fur. "Weird. You'd think they'd stay away from all the noise. Brave cat." She shrugs, and begins to maneuver out of the crowd, murmuring the polite, "Excuse me — pardon me," as she does so, as it is inevitable she will bump a few shoulders and step on a few toes.

"Nice talking to you," Pandora says politely with a small nod of her head, watching Peyton depart for a moment before the movement of another cat catches her attention and tracks her gaze instead.

"What, are they serving rat stew or something?" Melissa mutters when she sees the third cat, shaking her head before her cigarette is dropped and crushed beneath the heel of her boot. Peyton's exit has her grinning, before she goes back to look around. Perhaps even hunting for more cats!

Cat, what, where? God, crowds are hard, when you have PTSD. Fel's making a really valiant attempt to act like an actual human being, picking his way among those here for the spectacle, dressed in an overcoat and gray scarf. He looks…nervous, as is his habit, but hey, he hasn't pulled his gun or bolted or generally freaked out on some unfortunate civilian. Which counts as progress, doesn't it?

Noriko catches sight of the cat and an eyebrow raises, the asian's eyes following it while she stands there, before she hmmms a little. She's still making her way through the crowds stopping at a stall that has some dumplings and getting some to eat.

It's fortunate that Felix is standing where he is, because the lion dance that had started some time earlier has been migrating from where it began and is now not at all far from where Pandora stands, and consequently, not too far from where Melissa stands either, bringing with it a small crowd of giggling, laughing children who circle around it and dart this way and that, careful all the while not to get too close, lest the 'lion' eat them up. While Felix can certainly see the dance, he's far enough away that it shouldn't cause him much anxiety.

Noriko finds, probably happily, that even in New York City, dumplings are pretty cheap. Comparatively, at least. Pretty tasty, too. The lion dance won't escape her notice either, not only because of the bright colors moving about, but because some children go tearing past her on their way to see it.

Look long, Pandora. This is what you have to look forward to.

Pandora smiles fondly as she watches the children carrying on and enjoying themselves, hand fluttering again to rest on her stomach. That is something she's definitely looking forward to, despite all the gloom surrounding her current circumstances.

Melissa doesn't really pay much attention to the children, but then, she's a single, non-pregnant woman. However, Felix showing up does catch her attention, and she lifts a hand to get his attention.

Man, it's her -again-. Fel looks uncertain, and then offers that tentative smile, heading slowly through the crowd towards Melissa. He even remembers her name this time, because he greets her gently with, "Melissa, hey." His gaze is still darting restlessly around the crowd, trying to take it all in, intercept any possible threats.

Noriko smiles faintly as she watches children run by, remembering the time as a child that her adoptive parents brought her here to watch. They didn't think that she should be completely without any kind of touch to her asian roots, but, they also wanted her to grow up as firmly catholic.

As Felix moves towards Melissa, the lion continues dancing. Maybe not for Pandora, as it were, but for all the children, for everyone in the world, chasing evil away before it has the chance to plague them. It's good for everyone.

For Pandora and her new child.

For Noriko and her new life.

For Melissa and for Felix, for whatever challenges lie on the road ahead.

For everybody the world over, for prosperity in the coming year, and the next, and the next, on tunnel the end of time.

Happy New Year.

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