Street Food Hustle

July 24, 2014:

Jericho Trent goes for a walk and meets Melinda May, Simon Williams, Sam Wilson

Midtown Central

Street food and crowds, ahhhh New York.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Jericho… had to go clear his head. Between being strong armed into a SHIELD Team, soul rending rituals, his first gardening foray into Limbo and the upcoming raid he needed some time to just go a-walkin'. And that's what he's doing. So here he is, some dozen blocks from his safe house, having just acquired a pretzel. Mmmm. Sharp cheddar spread. Piping hot. Delicious. He's got a vague notion that, there may - hee, puns - be someone he wouldn't mind seeing… just… up… ahead…

*

Of course May's just up ahead. She even already has her own pretzel. For being all paranoid and stuff, May is starting to learn the younger man's habits and quirks. Be afraid. Be very afraid. And save some of that cheddar spread.

*

Simon Williams has been staying at one of those 'rent via your phone' temporary places, and his time is up - the owner is coming home. So, his suitcase is back in the locker at the Superhero Store, and he's wandering around Midtown looking up prospects on said phone. Of course, he's now needing to find a place to sit and recharge that phone, soon. Man, it sucks being vaguely homeless-ish. Not like it's that big a deal for the Man of Ions, he doesn't have to sleep… or eat… even if it would be nice. Pretzel. With cheddar spread. That sounds good.

*

There's something about the way Midtown's lights hold back the darkness that does make it a perfect place for a reflective walk. Sam has been having one of his frequent sleepless nights and, feeling at loose ends, he took off southward into the heart of the city. He knows just fine that it's not the safest way to clear his head, but in a way, he almost hopes someone does try something. At least a mugging would provide him a structured set of mission parameters. God knows his life could use some structure at the moment. If there are familiar figures wandering the streets, he's a little too caught up in his own head at the moment to notice, at least until he gets a bit closer or hears their voices.

*

Jericho's sights the person he's looking for… and a couple people he's not. That makes him slow a bit. Simon Williams he's got a fairly good feel for. He's an… associate of Partisan. Not a bad guy. Sam Wilson he looked up. Ex AFSOC. Para rescue. Certifiable badass and the ex SOAR soldier doesn't say that about many people. Finally he shrugs and moves through the crowd.

"May." He say it quietly enough not to startle if she doesn't know he's… wait… did she know?

*
.
Melinda May turns to look at Trent right as he says her name. Either she's just normally freaky like that or she and Romanoff practice that kind of creepy stuff. Either one is equally likely.

"Trent." She reaches to snag the non-descript man's cheese spread, having already made mental notes about the other two men approaching. She's never met either of them before, so for the moment they're both just civilians.

*

Pretzel vendor sighted, target is locked. Simon acquires a pretzel before he realizes that the person bogarting the sharp cheddar spread is someone he knows - glowy-lines hawk-wolf guy from the hole in the ground caper. And then there's Sam from the other day walking up.

"Hey, is that the last of the sharp cheddar sauce?" he asks.

*

Sam Wilson's head clears enough for him to finally realize that he knows a couple of these guys, making it okay to break New Yorker protocol with something as audacious as eye contact. Certifiable badass, indeed. "Evening," he offers Jericho, along with a curt nod. He can plainly see that the informant from the police station has company, so he flashes May a smile and gets into line behind Simon, hoping not to interrupt what could easily be a date. He's been trying to keep in shape since leaving the Air Force, but surely one little street pretzel couldn't hurt, right?

*

Jericho nods to the two new comers. "I think it might be." He says in the manner of a man who realizes he's gonna have to share.

"Just out and about May? Or…" Or checking in on me… for some odd reason. Not that he'd mind. May's about the one person from SHIELD that he wouldn't mind doing that.

Nearby the shadows seem to crawl a bit out of the corner of the eye but are normal when looked at directly. Also, of note at least to Simon is the fact that Jericho's eyes have gone from flecked with amber - unusual enough to begin with - to banded with it.

*

Melinda May offers Simon and then Sam each a curt nod. Oh, and the cheese spread? It's HERS now. And if she doesn't want to share, that's just too bad for you. She replies to Trent's question with a slight shrug and a "Just out". And apparently hogging the last of the cheese spread.

*

Simon vaguely recalls that the Aspect guy didn't have tiger-eye-stone-striped eyes when he saw him during the annoying fight with the chainsaw-wielding-a-madman, but that's no guarantee of anything. He shrugs, slightly disappointed.

"Nah, I'll make do with mustard," he says, gallantry trumping greed. May deserves the tangy cheese as she was here first. He slides his ruby-quartz sunglasses down his nose, revealing the glowing red eye trick but also making it easier to read the labels on the bottles of condiments, and begins squeezing mustard from a different squeeze-bottle onto his pretzel. Man these are good, it's a good thing being ionic didn't take away the sense of taste.

"Evening, Ma'am," he says to May, wondering if he's interrupting a date. Oh, man, that would be embarrassing.

*

Sam lied to himself. One little pretzel? This thing is freaking enormous and delicious and the sodium content could rent him a legion of Caesar's finest for months. He downs half of the pretzel in three bites and thinks really hard about pull-ups. This dietary transgression leaves him feeling giddily reckless as he turns to the growing group.

"You guys know each other?" he asks, waving one finger between Simon and Jericho. "You didn't strike me as the type to hang out with America's Next Top Superhero."

*

"I'm not." Jericho rolls his eyes. "Generally. I'm more a keep your head down and stay out of the way kind of guy." Which is a lie. He stays out of the way… unless he's concerned. Then he considers crashing networks, safe houses and satellites. Jericho steps back, beside May - which may nor help matters - to eye the two men.

"You two out just getting some street food?" The question is particularly directed at Sam, whom Jericho does wonder about. After all… what's an ex-soldier like him doing just knocking around… especially given what he did. Speaking of…

May's phone beeps. Its’ got mail. A compressed file that turns out to be… Sam's.

*

Melinda May simply let them all talk. Her objective — keep an eye on Trent in case Hydra tries to attack again — is easy enough to maintain. These yobbos can banter all they want. Of course, when she offers the cheese spread back to Trent without so much as is glancing at the condiment, she does NOT help the silent speculation of whether or not they're dating.

*

"America's what?" Simon says, blinking. "Wait, did Murray go ahead with that stupid reality show after I said not to? Or are we talking about this guy?" and he points the pretzel at Jericho. If he didn't need to conserve the charge, he'd be on his phone checking to see whether Murray really did sign him up for that bad-idea-on-a-bus thing.

He narrows his eyes. "Yeah. And what're you guys talking about? I am an actor, not a superhero. I proved that a couple years ago."

*

"Hell, it's not like I've got to be up early tomorrow," Sam replies to Jericho. It's an evasive joke rather than an answer, but he pairs it with a disarming smile and hopes that the dodge will pass unnoticed. More than a few people want to know what he plans on doing with his life — enough that he's started sidestepping the query instinctively.

"This is the guy with the big career moves to make," he adds, shifting the attention to Simon with a sideways thumb. "He's off to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start shooting laser beams out their eyeballs." Yeah: more reality TV jokes. But goading Simon is both irresistible and a surefire distraction.

*

The hacker snickers and shakes his head. "I have no idea what your agent has done, Simon." He accepts the cheese back from May with a nod of things. "Oh, sorry, this is my friend May. She works in my office. Different division though." Minor lie but May probably wouldn't appreciate being outed as a SHIELD agent. Though after that conversation at Starbucks… it may be kind of uncomfortably close to the truth.

"Transportation," May adds tersely as the 'division' she works for. Now that the two men have revealed that they've met Trent before and are chatting, she studies each of them in a manner that seems like she might be sizing them up. One thing's for sure, she doesn't seem as gung ho about her pretzel as the three younger men do.

*

"Seriously, Sam? Laser beams? Do I look Kryptonian to you?" Simon retorts. "Don't answer that."

He devours his pretzel instead of further conversation on that topic, hopefully, maybe. His phone chirps. He glances at it, and sighs in annoyance, and pulls a "booster battery" thing from his belt rocket. Slotted into his phone, it'll bring it to full charge in just a few minutes. People think Simon's just a meathead, but he is an electrical engineer. The problem is that now he has to recharge the booster battery, and he won't be able to use his rocket belt until he does that. Not that he really expects to. Life is never easy, is it? First world problems, Mr. Williams.

*

He mutters at the phone, checking the message. Murray asking him why there was no video of his attack on the gangsters. How the hell did Murray find out about the gangsters? Only people who knew about that were him, Louie, Hawkeye, and that girl with the naked-ray gun. He texts him a note, "How the hell did you know about that? Also, did you say to go ahead with that stupid reality show? Because I said NO to that."

There's no immediate response.

*

Sam shrugs at Simon. "I don't know what you do, man. You've got glowy eyes; what are people supposed to think?" He tosses the man a lopsided smile, then passes his pretzel to his left hand and extends his right toward May. "Nice to meet you, May. Sam Wilson," he introduces himself with a grin. "Transportation, huh? I used to work in transportation myself." He can't help but notice her sizing him up. He recognizes the look, actually, from any number of military trainers and a few commanding officers. It's asking the question, 'can this person be relied upon not to get everyone around him killed?' — and it thinks it already knows the answer. Sam glances curiously over at Jericho, then back to May.

*

Jericho shrugs. He's a lot better at not appearing military. But he is. The level of his physical conditioning alone is probably a fairly good giveaway to Sam that he was black ops something or other.

"You two come by here much?" Cause seriously. If they do he's gonna have to watch out. Sure, his safe house isn't exactly close, but Simon is a celebrity and fairly obvious and he doesn't know Sam. If either are prone to gathering attention it could turn into bullets and ambushes for him real fast. Mentally sighing he jacks into the traffic cam feeds. Again.

*

Melinda May shakes Sam's offered hand, even the handshake seeming like she's evaluating him. For her own part, her hand has callous pattern of someone who really uses their hands for a living. Like a mechanic, or a martial artist. "Mr. Wilson." She takes a moment to answer is sort-of question about transportation.

"Yes. Transportation." Wow. Like talking to a brick wall sometimes.

*

"That's a good question," Simon says to Sam, before he realizes he didn't say anything to May.

"Simon Williams," he says to the woman. "Honor to meet you."

His phone chirps with the reply from Murray. Oh hell no he didn't see it in the papers. The man must think he's an incompetent.

"So. I think my agent is pulling some kind of stupid agent trick. I've been attacked several times out of nowhere, by stupidly incompetent people. This weekend, it was some thugs from Gotham. I went down there, and ran into purple arrow guy, helped him out… turns out the guy who sent the thugs did it as a favor for a buddy in L.A. And nobody knew we were there, Louie is in the special slammer where arrow guy works. So I know Murray didn't find out from the news, because I've been watching the news. I may need to hire your help," he says to Jericho.

*

"Not regularly, no," Sam answers Jericho, still hesitant to take his eyes off of May. Now that it has crossed his mind that she is somehow evaluating him, he can't shake the impression. His own hands get a lot of use, though possibly less than hers. She may notice, however, some pretty incredible strength in his arms, even for someone with his background. Controlling the Exo-7 at speed requires both exacting precision and exceptional strength. "But I've been away from the city for a long time. Guess I felt like getting reacquainted, bit by bit."

He glances over at Simon, cracks a smile, and inquires, "That's the second time you mentioned those stupid agent tricks. Have you ever thought about getting an agent who doesn't trick you all the time? Maybe one who does what you want him to? As though he were acting as, I dunno, some kind of agent of yours?"

*

Jericho chuckles. "It does seem like you might need some kind of… change in representation yes."

And Simon just asked him for help. Oy. "I don't usually hire out, Simon, but it does sound like you've got a problem. What do you need?"

Hopefully it's nothing too major. Phone numbers? Internet records maybe? Financials? He's fairly good at that. Sam gets a knowing smile. For once Jericho is ahead of May in the knowledge department. He knows exactly what Sam did. Is this what it feels like? No wonder May enjoys it so much.

*

Melinda May nods to Williams as he introduces himself, but then quirks an eyebrow as he natters on about a 'purple arrow guy'. That sounds familiar. She just might have to snag Barton by the ear and ask him what that was all about. Speaking of Barton, she can't help but think that throwing him in the same room as this Wilson guy here would end up being the ultimate gun show. It's a bit of a frightening thought, really. Where's the brain bleach? And now Trent's offering to help Simon with something computery. That might have to be something she and Trent and Romanoff discuss at some point.

*

"Sam, three kids were hurt by this last one. If he's trying to set me up to get publicity for whatever stupid reason, then he's crossed the line. He got me going in the business, but I'm not gonna put up with this stuff," Simon growls. "I just need proof. I'm just realizing that I over-trusted the guy. My CPA is someone he recommended, too. So, probably, start with a sweep of my finacials."

He looks over at May. The way these guys are acting, and talking, well, they're clearly connected. And he knows that Trent does the same kind of thing that Partisan does, but more white-ish-than-gray-ish hat.

"Sorry to interrupt you with this stuff, May."

*

"Pretty sure it's late enough that she's off duty," Sam says, quirking an eyebrow at Williams, before pointing at Jericho. "Can't imagine this guy's transportation needs are that extensive, and the subway station's right over there."

He's still smiling, still playful, but there's a knowing edge to his expression that wasn't there before. He may have just found a loose thread to tug on; he already knows that Jericho deals in secrets. That said, May's secrets might be a matter for another time. The idea of a bunch of kids getting hurt in a publicity stunt draws him away from his lead.

"If it's really him doing it, yeah, that's a line you do not cross," he agrees. "Ditch the guy. Maybe sue him. You've got money for that, right?"

*

"It's no bother. May take me a day or three to run it all down for you though. I'm a bit… busy. I'll get it done for you then. I probably shouldn't text or email it to you though. Where are you staying? I can hand deliver if I find anything relevant." The hacker rubs at his temples abit but… provided this agent guy is just a scumbag and not, like, a spy, shouldn't be a hard hack.

*

Melinda May turns to focus on Simon. This is the Teal'c level stare that Trent has seen before. "Are you saying that your agent arranged something that caused innocents to get hurt?" She looks… displeased.

*

"I think I do. I'd better. If he or my accountant disappear with more than they're contractually allowed, they're going to wish they could do a better job of it," Simon answers. "I'll do that thing I promised Detective Pezzini I wouldn't do. And yes, May, I kind of suspect he did. In which case, I'll be introducing him to the organ donor program."

He shrugs elaborately at Sam's intimation that Jericho can use a subway to get where he needs to go. Not… really likely, if he's running in Parti-Girl's circles.

"I'm between crashpads at the moment, but that's no big. I'll keep my phone alive, call or text me when you have something and we can meet somewhere."

*

Sam watches closely as each of the others weighs in, feeling strangely as though the conversation has leapt to a level a bit beyond him. There's clearly a layer to the discussion that he's isn't following — talk of 'innocents' and maintaining secrecy and things people have promised not to do. He tugs a small piece off of his pretzel and tosses it to a wandering pigeon.

"You guys sound like you're one wrong move from going and killing this guy," he finally says, hitting each with a hard look.

*

Jericho's look in reply is mild. The glare. He is not impressed. He's killed… so very many people in the last fifteen months. And that's not even counting what he did in the Service.

"I'm not going to do anything but see if he's been doing Simon dirt. What Simon does with that is up to him." May looks pissed off now, which is good for him. Maybe she won't give him as much flack about taking even more onto his plate.

*

Melinda May turns that displeased glare on Sam and says something entirely honest. "I would only make him WISH I'd killed him." But then she turns that glare on Trent to complete the trifecta. She knows he's putting even more on his plate, and if she has to get Romanoff to help smack him down from the habit of biting off more than he can chew, she won't hesitate to do so.

*

Simon shakes his head to Sam. "Not killing. Guaranteeing justice. Just because I'm fucking bullet-proof and can walk through explosions without getting hurt, doesn't mean I forget what it means to be human. Those kids… burns and bullet holes, and operations in their future to fix the damage. If my agent or my accountant are embezzling, they're going to find out that it's a bad idea, because I know a lot of sharks who don't swim in their usual pool. And if either or both has been setting up these ridiculous attacks… someone hired illegal alien SPACE aliens to attack me at a mobster's secret card game, Sam. I won't have to do anything, just make sure that they get prosecuted," Simon says. "But I'm in no great urgency yet. Do it when you have time. I'll owe you a favor on top of whatever it costs."

*

Sam shakes his head slowly. "It's not the killing, or not killing. I'd kill a guy, to save a kid." His voice is matter-of-fact, if grim. That would actually be among the better reasons he has killed people. "I'm just saying — you sound like soldiers psyching yourselves up before a battle. Justice and punishment and how bad you're gonna fuck the other guy up." He takes a breath. "I'm not saying you're wrong. It's just…weird stuff to be listening to here. I mean, Times Square is two blocks that way." He points. "Shouldn't we be complaining about tourists or something?"

*

Jericho shrugs. "It's an odd kind of world. But it's full of pretzels." Speaking of. He hands over a fiver to the street vendor and secures two more. One's for him. The other… ends up in May's direction.

"I'm gonna continue my walk." The ex-soldier says as he turns and waves to the three, not moving terribly fast - someone could easily catch up with him as he leaves - "It's a nice day, after all."

*

Melinda May accepts the second pretzel only because they're RIGHT HERE by the vendor. She still has more than half of her original one uneaten. Now what? Does she chase after Trent so she can box his ears for this? Stay here and let the already awkward conversation go completely into Squirmville? Damn you, Trent.

*

"I'm psyching myself down Sam. I'm a seething cauldron of ion-powered impulses — I died once because of it. If I remind myself of the parameters that decent people use, then I don't go past them. And I stay away from deliberate hero stuff because I get too enthusiastic. That's why I prefer acting. I can cut loose without endangering anything.

He nods in Jericho and May's direction. "Thanks, J. Have a good evening, May."

*

He pulls the battery boost from the back of his phone and puts the phone away, re-slotting the boost pack next to the jet it feeds to, and then he goes all purple krackly fuzz in human shape and drifts up off the ground, looking for a place he can settle in to search on the phone for a new crash pad.

*

"Yeah. Yeah, 'odd' is definitely the word for it." For a few seconds, Sam looks up into the sky: thoughtful, wistful even. Then, his attention is back at street level. Despite the weird and dangerous scrapes he has gotten into since returning to New York, he hadn't quite thought about his hometown as a battlefield before now. But given all of the superpowers and monsters and magic running amok, he's starting to realize what a blind spot that may have been. He gives the remaining two a rueful smile and says, "Sorry if I brought the mood down, guys. Guess I haven't cleared out my head quite as well as I thought." And with that, he's headed away, in the opposite direction from the one Jericho's taking.

*

Melinda May watches Simon do his version of up, up, and away, then looks after Sam as he walks off, then huffs and turns to chase Trent down. Even if only to give him this stupid pretzel back.

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