2008-02-25: Chopsticks


Jamie_icon.gif McAlister_icon.gif

Summary: in which our heroines discover a little more about their past, and plans are made to go searching for whatever pieces of it remain.

February 25, 2008


The Cherry Blossom - Chinatown

Squeak, goes the door- at least as Ali tugs it open, between rummaging in her bag and babbling a mile a minute.

"So. the boss told me today that they're gettin' more calls for advertising, right?" Yup, this is making her /happy/. Fear. "It's pretty good - the numbers come out next week. It's a good sign, right, kiddo? If I make contract, that's a bonus - I'm thinkin' about going to Coney. It should be open then - so. If it works out, you're goin', right?"

Jamie steps in quickly as the door opens, getting ahead of Ali so not to make it awkward for her as they get in. Once inside she nods quickly and says, "'Course! But… um… what's Coney?"

"You haven't been to Coney Island?" Ali gives her a wide-eyed look. "Oh, see, now we /have/ to go. They have this monster ferris wheel - " She grins, nods to one of the tables, still rummaging. "So how was school, huh?"

Jamie shakes her head, "Nope." Then she gets a wide-eyed expression of her own at the mention of the ferris wheel, "Really? How big? I love those. I always wanted to get one for the circus but dad said it was too expensive. Hardly anybody goes to see circuses anymore." She can manage the talking pretty well herself. She hops into a chair, sitting back and looking around, then back to Ali. She wrinkles her nose at the question, "They're making me take special classes to catch up. Everybody thinks I'm stupid."

"Well I don't." Ali moves to sit across from her - "And you know you're not - so who cares what anybody else thinks?" She smiles, if a bit worriedly, "If you want, we can work on stuff - whatever you want to. If it'll help." She tilts her head. "I used to go all the time with pop - when we had the money, anyway."

The woman sets her bag aside. Finally. "You don't talk much about your folks. Can I ask or is that a bad thing?"

Jamie leans forward, resting her elbows on the table in front of her and her chin on one hand. Under her chair, her feet swing, as she's unable to quite sit still. "Can ask me anything. I just miss 'em, is all."

"Why not just start at the beginning? I mean - if you want. I'd like to know, if you're willin' to talk about it." Ali leans in - "Egg rolls and sesame chicken? It's really good here. Or. We can do the on-fire thing with the appetizer stuff. What'cha think?"

Jamie sits back straight again and says, "Ok." Then she smiles, "Egg rolls, and the chicken, yeah. I love egg rolls. With plum sauce." Then she bites her lip for a moment before saying, "My dad owned the circus. Clancy Carnival. We went everywhere. In the winter we went South, places like Florida and L.A., and came up North again in the summer. Mama," and this is probably the first time Ali's heard her refer to her mother like that, "was the star. I was her partner, once I got old enough. Dad said most people just came to see us, that's why we did the really big stuff last. I did a little show just myself first, rope-climbing tricks, contortion, that kinda stuff. Then mom'd do some stuff by herself, then we'd do stuff together. There was lotsa other stuff in between too."

"That.. actually sounds really neat?" Ali calls over the order - then looks back, offering a hand. "So I really don't have to worry about you doin' handstands on the furniture, I'm guessing?"

Jamie shakes her head, grinning, "Nope. I did high wire with my mom. Well, not handstands on the high wire, but know how to keep my balance. Was just starting trapeze too, when…" She trails off here, looking down at the table again.

Ali prompts, softly - "S'okay - I mean, if you don't want to say. I probably shouldn't have asked." Still, she holds out her hand. "I bet you guys were awesome, though. I mean - seriously just amazing."

Jamie shrugs and smiles a bit again, "It's ok. My mom and me were changing for a show. We heard some people coming, talking 'bout stealing, so mama hid me in our clothes trunk. Came in and told her she'd be fine, if she didn't get in their way. When… when they went to take the trunk I was in, she did."

"I'm.. really sorry, kiddo." And Ali sounds it, too, sighing then - "I can't even begin to imagine. Did.. the cops at least get them?"

Jamie shrugs a bit at that and says, still staring at the table, "I dunno. They… they took the trunk anyway. Didn't even look inside. Felt the truck stop and got out and ran."

Ali reaches out, impulsively, and touches the girl's cheek. "I'll find out. And you're not alone, kiddo - I promise. I'm not your mom, but you're not alone." She offers a somewhat sad smile - it's what she has to offer, but she's certainly aware it's likely not enough.

Jamie looks back up at that gentle touch, and give small smile again. She nods a little and says, "Ok." It might not be enough, but it's what she most needs.

McAlister sighs, and just stands, circling the table to crouch next to the girl's chair - and. Well. Hug her. Fiercely. "S'okay." She adds. "And I want pot stickers, too. Call me crazy." Transparent subject change, ahoy!

Jamie turns so she can hug Ali back, just as tightly. She blinks at the sudden subject change, sitting back with a confused expression, "Pot stickers?" She wipes at her eyes a little, wiping away tears before they get a chance to fall.

The DJ doesn't go anywhere, not yet. "Yup. Pot stickers - 'cause they stick to the pot. You should have seen the first time I tried to make 'em." She makes a face. "It set off the smoke alarm. Twice. The fire department showed up. Absolute mess." She studiously doesn't notice the tears, making a point of it.

Jamie giggles a little, and says, "Wish I was there! Sounds crazy." She seems to be cheering up, at least. She stays facing Ali, though, and says, "What do they taste like?"

"We'll get some, and you can tell me." Ali squeezes her one more time, then stands, drifting back to her chair. "So a friend of mine got himself in trouble." She traces a finger over the table - pausing as water's brought (As well as egg rolls) to offer up a, "Thanks - and can we get some pot stickers, too? Just because." And a grin - but then she's back to the conversation at hand. "I'm probably gonna have to help him out, but I don't know when. It might mean I have to be gone for a day or two - is that okay?"

Jamie hugs back for a moment longer before she lets go, then turns back to sit normally in her seat again. "Uh-huh, I'll be ok. But sure you won't need my help? I can be of help!"

"If you can, then sure.. but. I don't know, you know? I barely know what's going on, I just promised." Ali smiles - "But I promise /you/ that if it's something you can help with, I'll tell you straight off. So what are we doing this weekend? I have to buy a couple of- " She rolls her eyes, "Comic books. Ugh."

Jamie smiles at that promise again and says, "Ok, thanks!" Then she considers, and asks, "Can we rent some movies? Dunno what else. What can we do? How come you gotta buy comics anyway?" She seems to have forgotten about her earlier sadness now they're talking about other things.

Ali reaches out for her water - "'cause, apparently, I lost a bet." She rolls her eyes again. "And sure we can, depending. I mean - which movie?"

Jamie asks, "Wall-E? Or Kung Fu Panda. Those're the ones kids at school are talking about." Then she asks, "What'd you bet? Who'd you bet with?" Just filled with curiosity.

"Maybe both. We'll figure it out." Ali snorts. "There was this guy who basically said I just /had/ to read them - and I think I got tricked into that bet. But - basically I mentioned not knowing anything about 'em, and he basically told me I was stupid for not reading it - and one thing led to another and the next thing I know, I'm promising to read a stupid comic book. It's like gettin' invited to church or something."

Jamie giggles a little at that and says, "Well, comics can be *fun*. Not like church." As if she's even ever been to a church service. "But I only ever read a few."

"Heh. Never was my /thing/, you know? I.. was always sort of music and .. mostly music. Kinda a one-track thing, growin' up." Ali adds - "And climbing stuff. But I bet I fell more often than you have."

Jamie blinks as if reminded of something, "Oh, yeah." She digs into her pocket and produces an envelope which she hands to Ali. "I got in trouble for trying to climb to the school roof today. Dunno why they were so upset, it was an easy climb, and I didn't even make it very far at all before they stopped me. Just was trying to get a ball someone kicked to the roof." Then she grins and says, "I like climbing and acrobatics mostly too. But I like other stuff too. Like cartoons, and some comics like Supergirl, and dancing and music."

The envelope is taken, Ali blinking, turning it over twice before opening it. "You know, that's just going to make people panic." She grins. "Not everybody can do you what you can do, you know? And /they're/ gonna assume that if you fall off, you're going to get hurt."

Jamie blinks at that and says, "Oh, yeah, hadn't thought of that." She shrugs a bit and says, "They just sent that note, and tried to tell me how dangerous it was. Didn't believe me that I made climbs like that lotsa times."

"You're just so grounded.." Ali rolls her eyes.. and reads. "Just try not to scare 'em, you know?" She gets a bit more serious. "If like DFACS shows up" (she says it 'Dee-Faks') "I sort of don't really have room to, you know, cover much, at least right now. I looked into foster care stuff but.." It's.. sheepish. Even rueful. "They sort of said that since I don't have my own place, it'd be hard. I'll keep tryin', though."

Jamie blinks, "Who shows up?" But then she nods a little and says, "Oh.. you mean, I'm not supposed to be staying with you?" She looks a little worried now. "Will you get in trouble, my being there?"

"Nope. No way." Ali shakes her head. "Even if they tried, it wouldn't work - I'm just.. well." She turns the note over. "Kiddo? The cops don't like.. you know. Kids to fall through the cracks. They'd want to take care of you - and they would, probably. But I guess.. I mean. I guess I just want you to choose, you know? To have a chance - I'm probably not a really good .." She shrugs, abruptly /not/ looking up. "I really like you, kiddo. I don't know what you and me are gettin' into, but I don't really care. You deserve better than guys like Joe - that's all I know for sure about any of this stuff."

Jamie nods a little to the explanation, looking a little unsure, still, but she smiles a bit and says, "I wanna stay with you. Forever. Or.. long as you want me to, anyway."

Ali looks up, offering a wry smile. "We'll figure it out, huh, kiddo? But … yeah." She pauses, then asks.. "I know I probably shouldn't ask. But. Uh. What happened to your dad?"

Jamie blinks at that and starts to say something, then stops. She bites her lop, and gives a little shrug, "I dunno. I just… I thought he wouldn't let nobody steal from the camp like that if he was around."

"…. I.." Ali blinks. "Tomorrow, you and me? We gotta hit the library. Think they'll let me steal you early from class? We're gonna need time, I think."

Jamie asks, "You think he's really ok?" Suddenly hopeful, as a rational behind so many years running crumbles at Ali's reaction. Then she shakes her head quickly, "They won't mind! Long as it's you. But..um.. you better give me a note, just in case."

"I'll do that - and I'll pick you up right after lunch. I gotta sleep a little - " She offers a sheepish smile - "I haven't caught up, you know?" Ali drums her fingers on the table. "We can at least find out. No secrets, if it's bad - but it can't hurt to /look/, right? At least know for sure? And you know me and Erin's place is yours - always will be."

Jamie nods quickly to that and says, "Yeah! Wanna know for sure!" She grins and says, "If he is still 'round, know he'll like you lots. Your kinda like him."

".. yeah?" Ali smiles, sheepishly, then - "I guess that's a good thing?" She pauses. "Though I've never been really called a /guy/ before. I'm just saying."

Jamie bursts into giggles again at that, pulling her feet up under her so she's sitting kneeling on her chair now, "Not like *that*! Just, stuff like… he'd'a been real mad at Joe too. And he didn't mind breaking rules for important stuff."

"Okay, so maybe we got some stuff in common." At this point the rest of the food is brought, and Ali reaches for chopsticks. "There is stuff more important than rules - but, just.. " She hmms. "It's gotta be the /right/ stuff, you know? Just because you /can/ do somethin', doesn't mean you should."

Jamie takes the chopsticks and looks them over curiously. She looks to Ali a moment, and starts to immitate her. It's clumsy at first, but she manages the basics fast enough. She then says, "I understand. Like you letting me pick where I wanna stay? But not like helping Joe break into houses."

"Yup. As long as you're not hurting people - well. It's nobody else's business, right?" Ali grins, and points chopsticks at the girl. "'cept school. 'cause school's different." She blinks. "Hey, you're picking that up pretty good - " She shifts sideways, to show her hand. "Try putting your fingers like this? It's a little tricky, at first."

Jamie giggles a little and nods quickly, "Ok." Then she looks to Ali's hand at the demonstration, trying it. She tries picking up a bit of food that way, though she drops it and slops it down her front. She giggles a little, "It is hard, yeah." She picks it off her shirt and manages to get it to her mouth this time. Her next full try works better, and she manages not to drop anything.

"Hmm." Ali approves - but.. well. She rummages in her purse - and an elastic hair band, a bit of paper folded tiny, and a little creativity, and she offers over a pair of infinitely easier to use chopsticks. With a wink. "Just 'till you get used to 'em, huh? My dad gave me these my first couple of times, too. I'll trade ya."

Oddly, abruptly, she reaches up to touch the end of the girl's nose, just once, with a grin. "I got lucky when you wandered up, kiddo. Thank you."

Jamie trades chopsticks with a grin, "Ok, thanks! These look lots easier." She smiles happily up to Ali then and says, "Me too." She tries the new chopsticks, and has a much easier time. She grins.

"So tomorrow, we go see what there is to see - and .." Ali makes a face. "Erin's cooking. Be nice, 'cause she cooks some really strange stuff sometimes. If it's really nasty, we'll sneak out for a pizza afters. I'll come get you after lunch." Nomnomnom. chineese. "And now we got a plan. This is good, right?"

Jamie nods quickly again and grins, "Yep! That'll be great. Hope my dad's ok. I mean, I wanna stay with you, but wanna go home even more." She continues eating as well.

"We'll find out. And if he's okay, we'll find him." Ali's.. a determined cuss. "We got a lot of clues - I mean. People aren't really all that easy to /lose/ these days. Maybe with what you remember.." She pauses. "And you know? I know some people who maybe could help, too. So we'll start, and go from there, right?" She grins - but it's a bit lopsided.

Jamie nods quickly with a grin, "Right!"

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