To Make an Omelette


anne_icon.gif cat_icon.gif grace_icon.gif james_icon.gif

Scene Title To Make an Omelette
Synopsis An impromptu gathering takes four people from two degrees of separation to none all around, courtesy of a market, a quest for eggs, and a uniform.
Date December 18, 2008

Canal Street Market, Chinatown

Day or night, Canal Street is busy in Chinatown. Perfumes, purses, produce, pork, and poultry are all sold side by side in busy open storefronts. One entire portion of the street is dedicated to nothing but jewelry stores catering to various price ranges. Box vendors sell all manner of sizzling foodstuffs to passing pedestrians, some of it identifiable, some of it better left unexplained. The ambiance is one of business and pleasure.

It's early. Very early. Early enough that most people are still tucked away in warm beds — except maybe if they're Asian, the Canal Street vendors already in process of setting up and eagerly calling to the few patrons willing to brave the cold… or Grace, who gets up early anyway and decided the morning was a good time to shop. Fresh produce, or as fresh as NYC gets, that hasn't been picked over by everyone, their brother, and their dog. Dressed in a relatively lightweight brown jacket — something more akin to a windbreaker than a classic winter coat — and a well-broken-in but not worn pair of blue jeans, she studies bins of onions, peppers, and garlic with a critical eye. She is, as usual, discreetly armed, but the jacket and her comfortable familiarity with the handgun's weight conspire to make it unremarkable to the casual observer.

You can also happen to be a James, still in the darkblue uniform and thick winterjacket with shoulderradio that St. Luke's provide for their paramedics, making his way towards a stall to see about picking up something he can make edible before going home to his own bed. Technically, he's off-duty, but a call brought him this way, and seeing as the vendors are already setting up around here, he has made a brief stop, the quiet and probably-white-underneath-the-dust ambulance parked and securely locked at the corner.

Stepping up near the young woman studying the vegetables, he lets his gaze wander across anything likely to fit for breakfast, searching for his own preferences. "…'scuse me, ma'm, you don't happen to see any horseradish on your side, there?"

A sidelong glance is given to the man who comes up on the other side of the stall, mild curiosity and a sort of reflexive assessment. Grace smiles amiably, though the characteristically subtle expression is easy to miss if you aren't actually looking for it. "A little bit, yes. I think there was a better selection about three stalls that way." The vendor promptly squawks outrage, defending his wares against all possible competitors — but the hybrid Chinese-English flood fails to detract from the utter contrast of Grace's voice with her politely pleasant demeanor. The sound more akin to a raven's croak or the rasp of file on stone than human speech, something more properly found in a horribly stereotyped B-rate villain, not… well, her.

Always prepared to see the good side in people, James does catch something he could assume is a smile, and thusly encouraged, he offers a friendly flash of a grin in return. Her voice, unexpectedly rough as it may be, does indeed hold his attention a moment longer than it probably should, before he manages a reply, "Oh, thank you.. Not exactly my regular market this, as I guess you've figured out." The upset vendor and his stream of mixed-language protests earns a glance and an attempt to soothe, even if James barely understands about half of what the man's actually saying. "Now, I'm sure your wares are just as fine here, I'll just have a look, shall I?" and he takes a couple of steps around, to get a better view of the vegetables in question.

"Actually, I wouldn't have known," Grace replies to James, as she turns her attention to the vendor. He gets a lopsided grin from the woman. Sure, she understands about as much as James does — but she's also been around this particular block a few times. He's not really offended — it's the principle of the thing. So the woman with the ruined voice hands over the bills to pay for her purchases and moves on, scrutinizing the next few stalls for anything else she wants to get.

She's out on the streets, making her way into and through the market, this woman of five feet and eight inches height. Brown hair tied back into a ponytail, athletic shoes, dark jeans, a hooded sweatshirt, and a winter coat. Gloves with the fingertips cut away cover her hands. There's a guitar case across one shoulder and a backpack over the other. Cat's eyes show a hint into the state of her emotions, that mix of guilt, grief, and anger. From time to time as she moves along she'll stop and close those eyes to perceive the world around her through sound and scent alone in hopes she'll come across something, anything, that registers as having been on the path from where she was last held to the release point in that parking garage.

James cants his head a little to the side in Grace's direction, but offers her a brief smile as she wanders onwards, he himself returning most of his attention to the vegetables in the stall before him. Picking some onions, a couple of the better horseradish and a red bell pepper that probably has seen better days, he then figures that's all he can be bothered to haggle for, today.

He might stand out of the crowds some in the early morning, dressed in the darkblue winter-season uniform of a paramedic at St. Luke's, but since he's here buying vegetables, one could argue that he's likely off duty. Moving to continue his search for breakfast, he scans the stalls for eggs - luxury, perhaps, but a necessary one for the kind of breakfast he has in mind, one that'll last him through some hours of serious sleeping.

Serious sleeping. That's something that doesn't sound too bad, in Anne's mind, but that might have something to do with her having had a lack of it lately. It's the kind of thing that happens, now and then, but it's no more fun because of it. Trying to work her body a little bit tired, she's out on a long walk today, which has her ending up in Chinatown. Spotting someone she knows, to boot. There's a bit of a smile creeping up on her face as she changes direction and heads over towards that dark blue uniform. "Hey, James!" She calls out, loud enough to be heard over the crowd. "What are you up to?"

Having kept a bit of her attention on James, his search through the stalls causes Grace to look up and over at him. She watches him look for a few moments, then asks. "What're you looking for?" The relative quiet of the early-morning market lets the rasping raven's voice carry farther than it might otherwise, especially as Anne's greeting to James causes the young woman to pause again, regarding the musician's approach with a subtle and very crooked smile. Given that distraction, the lawyer's presence doesn't really register in any meaningful way just yet.

Her efforts are a needle in a haystack sort of thing, really, but there's nothing to lose in trying. At worst Cat won't know what she already doesn't. After a stretch of sampling sounds and scents, none of them matching the journey they're compared with, she moves on. Eyes wander the market, across the people shopping within and the wares offered in the stalls. There's Grace somehwere ahead, she's about to head in her direction, but the female voice calling out distracts her. It leads her attention to the source and from there to the man. He's wearing a paramedic's uniform.

"Figured I'd try to find some eggs." James replies to Grace, making a slight face, knowing full well that fresh eggs might be hoping for too much, but that doesn't dissuade him from looking. His face quickly smoothes out, though, a smile returning to his features. "Figured an omelette would sit well on top of tonight, granted the cats don't steal it from me before I'm finished…" Then he can hear his name being called, by a not entirely unfamiliar voice, and he looks over his shoulder, cracking up a grin as he raises a hand, the one holding the small bag of produce, no less. "Mornin', Anne. Just gettin' some breakfast. What you doing up at the crack of dawn?" Well, the exact 'crack of dawn' might have been here and passed, already, but that seems to worry him none.

Anne walks up to the pair, a warm smile offered for Grace as well now that she's spotted. "Hey, you." When she comes closer she puts a hand on his elbow lightly, "Me? Oh, I'm just out for a walk is all. Early bird, and all that." It's a half truth, at least. "And look what I found?" She turns to the raspy-voiced lady, then. "Grace. It's a pleasure." And unless the lady is dodging, she's going to get a hug too. A little affection hasn't killed anyone, right? "Looks like you guys have been lucky with the shopping today. Must've done something right to find all those things." She runs her fingers through her short hair, messing the black locks up a little bit, but they weren't so tidy in the first place. It hardly matters. "What about you guys? How come you're up early?"

One slim, dark brow arches. "Eggs?" the young woman echoes. "You are ambitious." She taps her fingers against the otherwise-largely-forgotten stall she's standing by, the rhythmic sound cut off abruptly when Grace sidles away from the attempted embrace. Anne receives a mildly exasperated look of the don't touch me variety. Affection might kill someone — but it's really just all bark anyway. "Likewise, Anne," she replies, in the dust-dry tones that ruined voice does so well. "I'm always up early. Old habits, etcetera," the Ferryman answers distractedly, craning her head to look down the street, seeming to seek something — or someone? — in particular. "How many eggs were you thinking, James?"

She watches and records. Names. James the Paramedic, Anne. They know Grace, and Grace knows them. James, Cat realizes, wasn't among those who took part in her extraction but he still is a paramedic. There could be a link. It merits exploration, at the least. She's on the move again, crossing the short distance toward the small group of people while appearing to have her attention on goods offered for sale, to get close enough she'll be spotted and spoken to.

James chuckles softly, and lifts a shoulder slightly. "What can I say..? When it comes to food, I'm -always- ambitious." He won't mind a touch at the elbow, although Grace obviously avoiding any signs of physical contact is noted. In this town, it's best to note these things, before you're on the ground making high-pitched noises, or worse. "And I'd consider myself very lucky to find two, today."

The sort of roundabout way of introductions don't matter much, now he has a name to attatch to Grace's face, rather than just 'ma'm', and that's always something. "I'm supposed to be heading back to base, actually, time to roll off my shift a while ago, but I made a short stop here, seeing as the market was opening and all. Figured there's no time like the present, and so on. And it would seem I'm well off, for going with my gut on this one." That is, if Grace can offer him more help, to tick another item off his internal grocery list. That he attracts attention from other people, dressed like he is, doesn't seem to have struck James just yet. An open face, an open mind, not so much with the paranoia, it seems.

Either that, or he's just really good at hiding it. Or something. As for Anne, she takes the lack of hug in stride. It was worth a shot, and now she knows not to attempt it next time. Good thing her hide is a little thicker than getting bruised for that. "Old habits can indeed be pretty difficult to break, I hear. The earlier you got them, the more stubbornly they stick around. And man. Eggs! I found a couple the other day, which was pretty neat." Lucky woman, she is. Of course, she occationally cheats to get cheaper food, but she's not going to go into those details just now. It's not a good idea. "Made pie. It was wonderful." Not a large pie, but pie none the less, and that's the important thing.

James didn't specify a number. Grace eyes him for a moment — well, then. He'll just get what he gets. "I can't remember the last time I saw eggs out on the street," she observes. "Breakable, and all that." Another searching survey finally catches sight of the approaching Cat. "Well, there's another surprise. 'Morning, Cat!" the young woman calls with a cursory wave. The motion turns into a pointing finger directed at James. "Don't move." Then she slips away from the conversation, making a beeline not for a stall, but for an actual door.

This is odd, that Grace would spot and call her name, then point at James and move away. Cat's head tilts in confusion for a moment, she mulls it over. Maybe the Ferrywoman is simply going to grab something James mentioned looking for, so she shakes it off. Her eyes then turn to James, something calculating in them which mixes with the guilt and grief she hasn't quite hidden away completely. "Morning," she offers with a chuckle to him, and Anne as well, now sighting the woman's face for the first time.

James blinks slowly, as he is ordered to stay, and then shifts a little where he stands. "…alright?" he offers, watching Grace move off, before he glances over to Anne, looking for any clue. "Um, did I do anything wrong, y'think?" he asks of her. However, someone named, or called, 'cat' comes to join them, and he'll let his confusion go for now. After all, he will get answers in time, no doubt. "Good morning." he offers, along with a slight nod and a friendly smile her way, although he can't quite say what to think about the look he's getting. But then again, he's in uniform. People can get wierd about that sort of thing.

Anne turns her palms upwards. "Beats me. But if she'll be coming back soon, it wont be too long until we find out." And that's really all that matters, isn't it. Cat is greeted with a nod and a bit of a smile. "Hey, there. Nice to meet you." But before long Anne is glancing down at her watch. "Unfortunately, I have to get going. Got some work to do today, and if I don't move along, I wont have time to get there before it starts." And it's just awful rude not to show up on time, after all. "You guys have a good one, alright?"

It's a short couple of minutes spent talking through a half-open door before Grace comes back, a small paper bag in her right hand. "Didn't mean to disappear on you," she says to Cat as she draws near to the knot now sans Anne. The rough timbre of her voice isn't anything that could be called apologetic, and there's more humor in the lines of her expression than not. "Here," she says, holding out the bag to James. "That should do," the woman concludes, a hint of a smile curving her lips. Then her attention flicks back to Cat, one eyebrow lifting in silent and nonspecific inquiry.

"I thought I might've seen you before somewhere," Cat offers as explanation to James when her attention on him seems to have caused concern. "But I haven't." Her right hand, in a glove with the fingertips cut off, extends to shake once and release. Then she's turning toward Grace and offering a flash of smile. "Good to see you, Grace." Something about her is off, this is evident still, as contact with the other woman's eyes is possible. That she's been through something and now is on some sort of quest wouldn't be that much of a leap to take.

"Of course. Be safe." James agrees, nodding to Anne as she takes off, and then turns his attention back to Cat, only a slight glance thrown Grace's way making sure that she's not disappearing, at least not unwillingly. Although something about her voice and demeanor makes him wonder if anyone could make her do anything 'unwillingly'. "Oh, I see. Well, it's the uniform, we all look alike, I guess." He grins, and Cat's offered hand is taken in a firm but not pressing grip, shook once, and then Grace returns to them, offering a bag. He blinks, accepting the paperbag, the weight of it causing his eyebrow to rise slightly. "Thank you." he offers, quite sincerely, perhaps a little surprised to see a stranger do this kind of favor. Perhaps there is as much hope for the world as he'd like to think. "What do I owe you?"

Short mental leaps are easily taken, but all that happens is the other eyebrow lifting to join its counterpart. "Likewise," Grace replies in kind — but it may be telling, at least to Cat, that she doesn't pick up what might be the obvious subject of conversation in their current company. Instead, the raven's voice continues with a lighter topic. "Didn't expect to see you out and about this early. You don't have the excuse of keeping up with Scott." It's a good-natured sort of grouching, on the subject of her housemate.

Blue eyes flick to James, and the younger woman snorts, a flick of her hand brushing away the gratitude. "You don't. Just don't lose them. Jiang would be mortally offended and never, ever, ever do business with me again." The hint of a grin pulling at her lips belies the last statement entirely, however harshly serious that ruined voice makes it sound.

She's let it go, at least for now, and her features have shifted to something less concern-causing. Her own grip is neither limp nor crushing, a sign of strength in her hands that perhaps comes from playing the instrument in its case over one shoulder. Cat offers the man a quietly spoken "My regrets for the confusion. I'm Cat."

Grace's unspoken question, delivered through lifting of her other brow, goes unanswered for the moment.

"I will defend them with my life.. until they are cooked, at any rate." James own tone sounds a touch teasing, but never the less, he probably means that. You don't come by this sort of goods every day, and he gently puts the brown bag into the plastic one carrying his other groceries, taking care to get them on top.

"A pleasure to meet you, Cat. I'm James. Jamie, if you pref.." Since proper introductions seems to be the way to go, he'll join in, only to be interrupted by static from the radio on his shoulder, a voice made gender-neutral by the bad quality of the transmission calling for responders to an address only a few blocks away. James makes a slight face, murmurs a soft "Sorry, ladies." as he already reaches for his radio. Off-duty or not, well… he didn't become who he is to not help people, while he still can.

That bodes ill for the eggs. Blue eyes flick to the offending radio, considering the situation described. Dismissing it shortly afterwards as not something she needs to get involved in. "Quite all right." Grace watches James depart, then turns to Cat, gesturing towards the street. "I should head back in the direction of the Hangar myself. You're welcome to tag along," the woman remarks, head tilting slightly.

Her car is parked in a nearby garage, the same one where the trade took place. Cat, therefore, opts not to go with Grace despite wanting to do so. Instead she speaks in a low voice, one meant for her alone to hear, explaining her behavior somewhat. "I had an ordeal not so long ago, it had a terrible cost. The operation was pulled off by persons with access to an ambulance and crew. He wasn't one of them, but… I find myself curious as to whether or not he may know of other paramedics who could be bribed or otherwise involved with a faction."

The other woman nods once at Cat's reply, the set of her jaw conveying that Grace had at least heard about the ordeal in question. Not, however, its details, as the narrowing of those blue eyes suggests. "I wouldn't know. Haven't seen him before this morning." A pause. "Though Anne seemed to know him; her family took a trip out of town not too long ago." Explaining, with that cryptic non-sequitur, how Anne came to be familiar with Grace.

She nods slowly. Cat's next words are spoken in that same hushed tone. "I therefore want to see if that avenue can be pursued, towards identifying which operation the paramedics came from, if any. They had a real ambulance, at the very least, this much I saw. But the crew may have all been fake. Like so many other things, needle and haystack." Her features sharpen. "Ask Hana about the faction. Hopefully she told Bennet too. I should ask to speak with him, add his impressions to the data collected, if he'll share them. This bunch? Genocidal nutjobs led by a Nazi bastard who somehow didn't get hanged at Nuremberg."

Grace considers Cat's words for a few short moments, then nods again. "I'll ask," the woman agrees. There isn't much she can do with regards to Cat's plans — the lawyer's likely far better at research than she, and getting ahold of Bennet takes little more than a message by way of Wireless. "Good luck," she offers. "Let me know what you find out," Grace adds, before she resumes her progress down the street. Extracting her cellphone as she goes, typing a brief message into it with her free hand.

"I will," Cat replies, "see you, Grace." And she too leaves the area, heading in the opposite direction.

December 18th: Fools, Drunkards, and Children
December 18th: Hope Springs...
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