2020-04-01 - Harlem Has Better Radishes


Honey does draw more flies than vinegar, pickpockets avoid Karmic demise, and Ambrose and May finally meet in person at Chinatown's farmer's market.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Apr 1 04:03:30 2020
Location: RP Room 1

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Theme Song



It's a sunny afternoon, though still a bit on the chilly side for just shy of April. May has a rare few hours off, and is taking advantage of the time to purchase produce from a farmer's market deep in Chinatown. She's walked through from the more central streets because she can, and is currently perusing a booth with some passably good selections of bok choy, water chestnuts, and lotus roots. Those last are a rare find, and she's almost for sure going to guy some.

She strikes up a conversation with the produce seller in rapid and comfortable Cantonese, mostly discussing the lotus root, and then after a bit getting into a little haggling.

A few stalls down, a man in a flop-brimmed hat more commonly seen for keeping the shade from one's face while fishing is speaking in a quick smattering of Shanghainese. His hands, in gloves that have seen better days, gesture to accent his point about the incense being offered to him. Beneath the brim of his hat, he can be seen to sport what must be a goatee, this kept well enough in contrast to his longer hair pulled back into a loose ponytail. It's long enough to reach between his shoulders. His coat, its hems brushing at his shin, shifts as he gestures more grandly, his voice briefly vising in raspy irritation.

May will probably catch snippets here and there: he's being price-gouged, how dare the seller — this isn't quality product — where is his license to be selling this material? The seller appears to wince. Yikes.

May hears the Shanghaiese from nearby and that alone piques her curiosity. She completes her purchase and tucks the produce into her shoulder bag (that had been completely empty until just now) and seemingly idly moves to look at some tchotchkies in a vendor stall closer to the man with the ponytail and antiquated vacabulary.

Ugh, she can smell the low quality incense from here. She picks up a little red and gold plastic rat, and asks the vendor in more modern Shanghaiese a few questions about it. Because she can.

"«You should be ashamed! Dishonor on your family! Dishonor on your ancestors! Dishonor on your cow!»"

Now the vendor is looking a touch nervous. Clearly, this particular New Yorker is a little off his rocker. Where's this cow being castigated?

May's sudden lilt of semi-familiar dialect brings the shopper to glance over his shoulder as subtly as he can manage. Carmine winks through his pupil before he returns his attention to the incense seller. "«I will report you to the borough and we will see what good luck this brings you now. Scamming people of their hard-earned money with false luck. You will bring terrible Karma upon yourself,»" the pony-tailed man continues, shaking a finger imperiously nearly in the booth minder's face.

Did that Shanghainese just get MORE archaic in speech and grammar?

Yes. It did.

Setting the little rat figurine back down, May instead purchases a little decorative tassel with knotwork and beading in white and ice blue, paying for it and tucking it into her shopping bag after it's tucked into a small jewelry box. That done, she thanks the vendor then turns and snags a bit of Mr. Castigator's coat sleeve and gives a small tug.

"Xiongdi, perhaps it would be best to move on now before you create more of a scene?" She's still speaking Shanghaiese, though definitely a more modern variant, going so far as to use a slightly formal nickname one might employ to address a younger male sibling.

"«And furthermore!»"

May saves the booth minder from further tirade with her delicate pluck at the man's sleeve. His speech abruptly halted, he glances over at the woman from beneath the brim of his hat, his chin tucked so that his eyes barely show. A moment's hesitation of thought and then the pony-tailed man sighs.

"«I suppose this young whelp has learned his lesson. Do not make me return and find more terrible product at your table!»" A final finger-shake nearly under the seller's nose and then, with a sniff of SUCH disdain, the goatee'd man turns away. It brings him beside May at a polite distance yet. "«You speak for this thief's honor, young lady?»"

It is a nearly Sisyphean task to avoid smiling now.

May is as smiley as a Vulcan. And moreover, she's recognized Ambrose's voice, even if the hat, goatee, and hair were attempts at a disguise. « No. But you have already proven your point, Xiongdi. Enough. »

Still with her only visibly casual grip on Ambrose's sleeve, she starts to tug him away from the incense booth. Don't make her MAKE you move, little jackal. It could prove disastrous on multiple levels, especially as she still has claws even if she's lost the tortoiseshell fur.

"«Goodness me, no appreciation for a man's efforts.»" The rasp remains even as Ambrose follows easily enough, content to play along for now. He continues speaking in his more archaic tongue and makes no effort to hide the inherent crisp of his warped British pronunciations as it stands. "«Truly, he was acting the worst liar. None of those incenses had a touch of truth to their labeling. An aphrodisiac? Please.»"

You can bet there's an eyeroll aimed away from May at an appropriate angle to avoid flashing the supernatural shine of his pupils in the market's night lighting.

«I know perfectly well what they were, Lieutenant Atherton. » May's previously casual tone of voice is gone, replaced by the serious and almost sharp words of the SHIELD agent. «You were starting to draw unnecessary attention to yourself. And while I suspect that you are not one easily taken by pickpockets, they were being handed more and more reason to try.»

She switches to English abruptly. "Do you understand me?" While her words and tone seem sharp, for someone accustomed to looking for subtle non-verbal cues, there's concern in her Vulcan-esque expression.

Like a snake uncurling from a basket, the Jackal sheds the slight stoop of his back and drag of one foot, an old war-wound evaporating into a poise composed and…amused, apparently, by how he smiles until dimples show.

"Oh, of course, Agent May," he replies casually, crisply, sotto-voce as to keep their conversation private. "I was inviting them. I do get bored and it is fun to see which thief dares to attempt it. You see, Karma is a terribly mercurial creature in my experience."

A glance about and he then turns to walk towards a sheltered alcove beneath a closed shop's awning. A subtle tilt of his head invites her to follow him as she likes. "I would rather have a reflective surface to see within to remove the goatee. The glue can be tenacious," he shares, again smiling that cool, confident sliver of teeth.

Following Ambrose after he sheds the affectation part of his disguise, she looks at him flatly and then offers him a small but highly reflective blade that is clearly Japanese in style. "You only need to ask."

She glances around to make sure no one else has noticed the blade, as it's likely not entirely legal to be carrying it about as she clearly has been.

Boy would a pickpocketer have to be DUMB to mess with her.

"So why the elaborate getup? It seems … excessive just to have a bit of fun with the local riffraff."

There is a fleeting moment where Ambrose seems to tightly hold the reins of a reaction to the appearance of the knife, but he then carefully takes it from her hand without brushing skin to skin.

Turning to face the darkened shop window, the Jackal then begins using the knife to peel at the false goatee. As he does, he watches May's refection. His words are moderated to avoid accidental cut by the knife's edge, honed quite keenly in his scrutiny.

"Excessive? Mmm…perhaps, but then again, someone cruel enough to attempt pickpocketing a man such as myself, who appears unsound of mind and attempting to right the small wrongs of the world? I do not mind teaching them their lesson." He moves to the right-hand side of his mouth now and with masterful execution learned through long use of a straight-razor at home to shave, the rest of the goatee comes off. A reach to pluck the hat and wig both from his head and Ambrose sighs. He places the hat and wig on the exterior shelf of the shop's window as he examines his face, turning left and right, before meeting May's eyes again.

"And that lesson is to be more mindful."

May doesn't move except to shift to one side slightly and create a bit more cover while Ambrose peels off the fake goatee. She's fully aware of him watching her via reflections, and she's allowing it. This time.

"And what makes you think that your lessons in mindfulness won't be forgotten as quickly as they're given?" Yes, that's an extremely jaded way of thinking, but she has come by her cynicism honestly. And painfully. And she'd rather not have to deal with it ever again, thankyouverymuch. "There's only one way I know of for a lesson to become permanent, and that is rather strongly frowned upon in this day and age."

"I do not care if my lessons are forgotten. Life has a way of weeding out the forgetful and the inattentive, does it not, Agent May?"

Taking a white handkerchief from inside his coat, Ambrose makes a point of cleaning over the borrowed knife. His motions again have the nuance of practice, sure to be spotted and with extrapolations about proficiency in knife-work to apply. Then, grip out towards her, he offers the woman back her knife.

"I do not kill unless I must," he continues more quietly, still wearing his cool smile.

May accepts her knife back and it disappears back into her jacket. "Likewise. But by the same token, I don't punish unless I must. I am neither judge nor jury. I spend enough time being executioner, I don't need to spend my spare time being punisher as well."

Since he is done shedding the disguise, she steps away from the shop front again. After all, she still has more ingredients to purchase to accompany the lotus root already in her bag. "So, are you going to help me find some decent radishes, or stand there smirking all afternoon?"

Ambrose's grin deepens. "You will find the most decent of radishes not here, Agent May, but in the stalls of Harlem. There is a family there who have managed to grow them for several generations in their backyard. What magic they have is kept secret, but here?" He clicks his tongue. "The radishes here in this market do not compare. Alas, Harlem is quite the distance. You might have to accept the indecent radish selection here instead."

Still, he rolls off of the shop's stoop and into the main walking path of the market with hands in his pockets, still sporting his debonair calm. "Lead on then if you will," he comments with a glance over his shoulder. Still, the wink of red in his pupils is avoided with carefully-cultivated practice of angled chin.

"Harlem, you say. I will have to remember that for my next market trip. What to use instead then. Turnips." Hm. Did she see any of those around here.

"If I may ask, Lieutenant, what prompted you to make an overseas trip on Prince Loki's behalf? Last I remember, you weren't overly fond of him." She pauses to glance through a table's vegetable offerings before moving on but keeping Ambrose in her peripheral vision. She's trying to make sense of the way he carries himself. There's something slightly odd about it.

"I am overly fond of few people, Agent," replies the Jackal offhandedly. He slows in his walking to eye a stall with a spread of seasonal fruit, but dismisses it just as quickly as his glance slides on. Nothing appears worth grabbing. "And my personal business overseas is my own. At risk of sounding trite, you've nothing to be concerned about at this time. I thank you, regardless, for your concern in matters."

He does look over at May again, expression gone mildly curious. "But do tell me of your interest in young Miss Lena if you feel so inclined. I would not ever have wagered pounds upon her involvement with you."

Well then. Fair enough. May nods and doesn't press the issue of Ambrose's overseas visit. Though, if she'd had a similar question put to her, she likely would have answered with 'classified'. She meanders, also slowing to look at various food offerings as she goes, and when he asks about her involvement with Lena she takes a moment to consider her answer. "I think you likely know better than I do how short Lena's temper can be. I suppose I considered it in my best interest to teach her how to more constructively channel her temper rather than letting it dictate her actions. After all, if she were to someday completely lose control and start causing widespread destruction, I would likely be the one sent out as executioner."

"Indeed," Ambrose agrees in amusement under his breath as to May's observation about the young woman's temper. He glances over again at the woman as she explains why she is involved with Lena as it stands.

He then arches a brow. "I highly doubt she would fall to wanton destruction. Remove her weaponry and she is without much recourse to react but for words and fists in my experience," he notes. "Still, your cause is noble. The little chit does have a tendency to speak before logic otherwise dictates less inflammatory words. One would have thought her interactions with Lord Loki would have been educational, but…her pride is her armor and she wears it well enough."

"I'm not asking her to stop wearing her armor. I'm teaching her ways to improve that armor, so that maybe at some point it will be invisible to others." May finally finds a booth with root vegetables and glances through until she finds some adequately chubby turnips.

"You saw how differently he behaved around Loki the other day. I can confirm with a fair degree of accuracy that her temper was no better than on previous visits." She asks the vendor about the turnips, then pays for them before adding them to her bag.

Ambrose scans the selection of vegetables with an eye sans discernment; the mastery of the kitchen belongs yet to Kent. Breakfast? This might be the one realm dabbled in by the Jackal on rare occasions.

"I very much believe you. I observed her inability to pick polite words." Still, the gentleman-thief smirks faintly to himself. "I look forward to seeing what your efforts gain you. No doubt Miss Lena will have tales to tell myself as well."

"She no doubt will." May makes one last stop at a vendor offering a respectable variety of spices, choosing a few mundane ones, and some hot chili oil as well. The SERIOUSLY hot stuff. With those items paid for, she's pretty much done shopping for today.

"Of course you will be unable to refrain from asking. Curiosity kills cats, not jackals." She turns and finally looks up at Ambrose squarely for the first time since pulling him away from the incense vendor. "I got that right, didn't I?"

This time, Ambrose lingers back from the vending stall. His attention diverts from the woman as he glances up and down the marketplace's narrower street dedicated to its stalls and wares. His ennui appears sated for the moment, even if no one attempted to pickpocket him after his attempt to draw in the foolhardy.

May turns and does manage to lock eyes with the Jackal. He allows himself a small Cheshire Cat's grin, this slow to appear on his face as if from behind a cloud. Dimples deepen. "I suppose, observant as you are, Agent May, you will have to simply see if you survive your curiosity as well. I doubt you will be killed, but do be mindful. I walk paths you are not privy to." Deep within his pupils, there's finally the reveal of a dimly-lit glow, like a candleflame under gauze. This comes and goes quickly enough, along with a sensation like the count of one's heartbeat, there and gone again almost like a thought on the tip of the tongue.

"But you were kind in sharing your food the last you dined with Miss Lena in public. The potstickers were of high calibre." There: implicit confirmation of his jackal state. "Perhaps we shall find an opportunity to share again in the future. For now, I bid you be well and good luck in your endeavors with Miss Lena." May gets a courtly nod in manners from another era, though Ambrose never drops her gaze, and then he turns to leave, to disappear into the crowd as if he were never there at all.

"Perhaps we will. And perhaps next time, I'll cook." She responds to his courtly nod with an equally respectful bow, yes, while maintaining eye contact. Then, she watches him leave before turning and going on her way as well.

After all, there's dinner to prepare.

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