2007-10-07: Different Breeds of Stalkers

Starring:

Kasey_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif Felix_icon.gif Lee_icon.gif

Summary: Thanks to a wayward dog, Kasey runs into someone he wasn't expecting to meet in person ever; Felix and Niki have to wonder who's stalking whom; Lee gives teacher-y advice outside the classroom.

Date It Happened: October 7th, 2007

Different Breeds of Stalkers


Queens, New York City

This particular little park in Queens is nothing to write home about, as it were, but it does the trick for the neighbourhood kids. There's even some grass that counts as some semblance of a playing field, although it's in a sad state, especially as fall settles in. The main attraction is the little playground. Sunset recently in the past, it's dusky and mostly empty.

A jingling noise and the rustling of four feet on gravel do their best to interrupt the sounds of the city around the park. A medium-sized, patchy dog skitters through, a purple leash dangling free beside it, making a rampant beeline for the tiny door of a plastic playhouse imbedded in the ground.

Why is he in Queens? He'll never know, but fate has a funny way of putting you in places you wouldn't normally be! Kasey is sitting on a swing-set by himself in this little park, brooding. Because he is brooding? He's in a black hoodie, black sneakers, black jeans…a black and white truckers cap, there is a theme here as he sips on his Big Gulp and stares at he watches the dog skitter by, hopping off the swing to follow the dog with his eyes. "…hunh." He quickly heads after the dog. "Errrrr…here boy…girl…dog thingie…puppy."

The dog, which is a currently awkward mixture of Australian Shepherd and Doberman, for those dog geeks watching at home, dives into the kid's playhouse with a spray of sand. It barely fits, jostling around inside after a colourful toy of questionable origin.

The owner of the wayward dog comes onto the scene — although Niki isn't flat-out running, or even jogging, her boot-heeled strides are long and fast as she makes her way across the park, obviously on a mission. High-heeled black boots may not be the best dog-walking option, but those, paired with the haphazard, thrown on way the long, open white sweater-jacket the woman wears over a tanktop and tight-fitting black jeans, suggests she was delegated to dog-duty unplanned. "Hey!" she calls out, indignant — toward the dog, not the stranger who chases it, too. "…come back." Too late. She slows, a few feet from the little playhouse, shoulders drooping.

Kasey had dropped down on the other side of the play-house to peer at the dog. "You'd be an awesome receiver…" Then he hears a voice and his head pops up from behind the play-house like a daisy from the ground, only not as…flowery. It takes him a moment as he blinks those husky like eyes and his mouth drops open and he's just going to stare for a few moments now, eyebrows shooting up. He raises his big-gulp to take a looooooong noisy sip as he continues staring.

Niki stares back, but her blue eyes regard Kasey in a different way — the why are you staring at me way. You know the one. Okay, awkward. It only goes on for a few seconds, on the blonde's end; she breaks it with a small, half-apologetic smile and crouches down by the kids' house-turned-doghouse. "She doesn't usually run away like that," she explains, glancing up once over the plastic roof as she reaches in to try to loop a few fingers around the growing puppy's collar. Gotcha. "C'mere, you, what do you have…"

"Uh…" Kasey mutters around his straw a 'oh it's okay' reply, coughing and toeing the ground before edging around the playhouse to see if Niki is bending over, only trying not to look like he's looking at that! He just coughs again. "She's pretty! The dog that is…not you." A pause. "Not that you're…not pretty, cuz I mean you are aha, very pretty but not being creepy here - WOW, look at the puppy." Slurping of the Big-Gulp goes here.

The dog is intent on flopping down and clamping her jaws around the toy it seemed to sense from down the street.

"Mmh," is Niki's articulate response to the family pet's decision to make walk-time play-in-a-small-enclosed-space-time, jostling her collar with a jingle. She glances up at Kasey, in the meantime, and can't help but raise her brows and quirk a little, amused sort of smile. "…Thank you," she says politely, speaking, of course, about the puppy. "She's— well, actually, I forget what she is. Being bad is what." Instead of playing tug o' war, she tries: "Come. Come. Come on, don't make me take you back to Lachlan…" When that fails, she gets up just far enough to sit on the wooden edging surrounding the sandy area.

"Want a sip of my big gulp?" Kasey is trying to keep from looking like a rabid fanboy, it is very hard though. "You can totally have it if you want, I have a snickers bar too. Sometimes chocolate can make you forget all about stuff like…well okay no, you'd still remember your dog has you on your shapely ass on the edge of a kids sandbox thingie but it is okay! Because like we've already established you're pretty!" It is true. OR…something. He holds out his big gulp and blinks owlishly.

The park is a shortcut back home, honestly - Fel's little flat is only a block or two. He's dragged out his dark gray overcoat, but it's draped over his shoulder, rather than worn - surprisingly warm for the season, this evening. He picks his way through, wearing a somewhat absented expression. All this lying sucks, and he's quite sure he's not fooling his partner one iota. The puppy is a welcome distraction, and he blinks over at the dog, curiously.

Lee is also crossing through the park, but he's got a student with him. He is really haranguing the young guy: "I really think you ought to do something about it, Jeremiah. It's clear from your paper that you've got something to say, and if you just…"

The student kicks a rock: "You gave me the grade, Mr. Jones, what else do you want?"

Lee: "I think you have more to say here, and I think you want to do more than talk. I want you to take responsibility for what's in your own head. I can help you."

Niki rests her arms on her thighs, leaning ahead on her elbows — casual, not the best posture in the world. May as well just wait for the dog to get tired of its game and wander out in a few minutes. She's poised to politely decline the stranger's offer when said stranger just… keeps… talking. "U-uhm— " It's her turn to stare again; her blue eyes are less owlish, her expression frozen awkwardly between gaping in confusion and smiling nervously. The figure of Felix catches her attention, but she turns a hesitant (but friendly!) smile on Kasey. "…no, thank you, I'm good," she gently turns down the numerous offers of sugar after a moment. Niki narrows her eyes in an obvious effort to figure Kasey out.

"Mmph." Kasey takes another sip of his big gulp and then tilts his head t othe side, glancing over to see Lee and Felix and then he looks back to Niki and shifts his weight from one foot to the other. "Would you like me to go get you your own? Because I could! I have a car. A real one, and it looks like bumblebee which is horribly geeky I know but I'm not a geek, I'm just really really nervous because most of the time when I've taken a woman out to dinner or lunch because I ever see their tits and ya know, you uh…I…" He turns bright red. "NEVERMIND. Look at the weather! Oh my, is it going to rain." He squints at the sky now.

There's a dog in that playground. Which may be very fun for the dog, but not so much so for the kids who don't dare go in there for fear of the fluffy murder machine lying in wait like a cartoon wolf. Fel cocks his head, and then steps up, whistling gently to summon the dog's attention. Once he has it, he makes a little beckoning motion with one hand. "Come," he says, voice quiet but very firm. And wonder of wonders, the dog comes nosing out of the playhouse, ears pricked curiously, and goes wandering up to him. As an aside to Kasey, he says, dryly, "Way out of your league, kid." Niki gets a faint glance and a nod, but no real attention - he's busy ruffling the dog's ears. Man, is this jerk stalking you, or what? World's most unsubtle tail, if so.

The student hesitates, then demurs, ashamedly: "I can't. The other…I just can't, Mr. Jones. I'm not going to. Thanks for the grade, but. No."

The argument over, Jeremiah departs from Lee, who looks somewhat dejected. He turns to head back, pausing as Felix rescues the dog from the kids or vice versa. "Huh, did someone just leave him out here, or?"

It takes some considerable effort to sift through Kasey's babbling for the relevant clues, but it doesn't take a genius to figure it out. "…Oh," Niki says, subdued, dawning with realization. "You— recognize me," she urges for clarification, brows lifted high, but it sounds like a statement more than anything. "From the intern— " And suddenly, the dog is wandering out, just like that! Niki watches her zip past with surprise; she's already pushing to her feet before she realizes who made it happen. When she does, her suspicion turns on automatically. "That's … sweet of you," she tells Kasey, while eyeing Felix, "But I'm gonna … get going," she gestures towards the puppy. It's not your fault, Kasey, honest. She even smiles! She jogs toward Felix to grab for the trailing leash. That answers that question.

Kasey glances towards Fel and he frowns for a moment before looking back to Niki and opening and shutting his mouth as he follows the woman with his eyes. "O-Okay! Have a nice day." That just made his day really as he sighs and sips his drink, swaying on his feet.

Fel gives Niki his biggest grin, which happens to utterly fail to reach his eyes. Just coincidence, isn't it? Or…who's tailing whom, here? "Oh, she's yours?" he says, sweetly. "She's cute. How old is she?" he says, lifting the leash and offering to her, rising from the half-crouch he'd assumed to scratch the pup's ears. And then apparent recognition dawns. "You know, I hate to admit it, but I don't remember what you said your name was, last time we met."

Niki winds the end of the leash around her hand, once she takes it; it's an idle, anxious gesture that serves no real purpose. The pet on the other end stands there with ears perked, tongue lolling cheerfully, with her apparent owner not paying much attention to her. "I didn't," she answers evenly. "Thanks, for the…" she lifts the hand with the leash and lets it fall again, slack. The blonde's eyes narrow on Felix, but unlike the study she was giving Kasey, this time she's considerably warier. Taking a look at who's still around, namely Lee, she lowers her voice. "If I didn't know any better," and she doesn't, "I'd think you were following me."

Lee says, blinking, "Me? I don't think we've ever even met!" It's Lee's day for 'no, not talking to you'.

"I live there," Felix says, dryly, pointing a finger at an apartment building a few spaces down and across from the entrance to the point. "You're going to see me in this part of Queens a lot. Listen, when the FBI follows someone, they don't make a point of introducing themselves and offering a business card. I might say the same of you, since you keep turning up. But I know you're not a professional spook, or we'd not be having these face to face run-ins. So either there's a series of rather odd coincidences, or else we're the most inept pair of secret agents since they started that Spy vs. Spy cartoon in MAD." Lee gets a bemused look from behind the glasses. "Speaking of MAD….I thought you ran that comic shop. You're a teacher, as well?"

Lee says, "What? Oh, you must have seen me in the Lair. No, that's my sister's shop. I read books with actual characters, and plots, you know, the worthwhile kind. I teach civics by trade."

"Sorry," Niki says distractedly to Lee, offering a quick, polite smile for his confusion. She follows Felix's pointing to the nearby apartment building, but she doesn't exactly look convinced. "Well, I'm not a spy." As for coincidences, well, that's a whole other story. Clueing in to what the nearby teacher is saying, there's a glimmer of recognition in her eye — not for the man himself, but for the comic shop. "The Secret Lair, in the village? My son loves that place. I can hardly drag him away."

Fel remains unconvinced, as well, but he seems darkly amused by it, rather than particularly threatened. "I know," he says, gently. "Perhaps we'll have to attribute it to the sort of serendipity that seems to happen so often in movies set in New York," He gives Lee a looking-over, but doesn't comment.

Lee says, with a certitude that borders on self-parody, perhaps intentionally: "Well, I highly advise you to do your best, comic books are terrible in general and superhero comics are the absolute worst. How old is he?"

"Serendipity," Niki repeats the rarely used word almost skeptically, as if testing it out on her tongue. Still unconvinced. Lee's demeanour throws her off momentarily, but she gives a curving half-smile to the man. "Eleven. And he likes the superhero ones the best."

The Agent's expression is absolutely guileless, save for the opacity in his gaze. "How else can we explain it?" he wonders, eyeing Lee with something akin to suspicion.

Lee just shakes his head so solemnly that it /has/ to be a joke - okay, he's half-smiling now, it's a joke. "How well does he read? My favorite book when I was eleven was…" He thinks back, remembers, with a full smile of recollection: "To Kill A Mockingbird. And the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, of course."

"I don't know," Niki mumbles quietly, cynically, under her breath in response to Felix, though she doesn't so much as glance at him as she does. She looks down at the dog instead, winding the leash in closer. "Mostly, he reads books about computers and what he gets from school."

"Does he -like- to read?" Fel's expression has suddenly gone….odd. Not quite afraid, but definitely uneasy.

Lee seems genuinely surprised that Niki doesn't know what her child is reading, then chuckles: "I always followed my parents around informing them of what I was reading every minute of the day. It must have driven them absolutely crazy." he says with relish.

"Sure," Niki answers with a smile that shows her fondness for the boy in question, but she gives Felix an odd look in return — and "coincidentally" wanders around him, dog in trailing along beside her, getting some distance between herself and the FBI agent who may or may not be stalking her. She shakes her head to Lee, trying to clarify, "Well, I'm glad he hasn't gotten into that habit, then. He reads better than I do. I wouldn't be able to keep up."

"Sounds like me," Felix notes, dryly. "I read avidly as a kid," He steps aside to let Niki pass - no attempt to restrict her.

Lee says, "Well, start keeping up, because he's going to want to talk about it with you sometime." and he says it in an encouraging tone, not a judgmental one. "If he's a reader, he'll want to converse on that level too. Another good reason to help him avoid the superhero crap - that way you don't have to subject /yourself/ to it." he adds with blithe indifference to irony.

Avoid the superhero crap. Yeah. Got that covered. "With … all due respect, I talk to my son," Niki points out, a touch on the defensive side despite the encouragement in Lee's tone.

Felix checks his watch, and notes, drily, "Speaking of. I'd better get home to my family, or there will be hell to pay." His newly acquired family, shipped fresh from Russia. "Evening to the both of you." And with that, he's heading for the park entrance. He wasn't lying about the apartment building - at least, he vanishes into the one he indicated, and doesn't re-emerge.

Lee says, with reassurance and encouragement: "Then you're on the right track." He offers her his hand. "Anyway, good luck. If I'm around in the Lair, just ask for Lee, I'll try to point you to the very least bad of the place. You may have to ask twice." Imagine that.

Niki watches the FBI man leave. It seems so mundane that an agent would live here in Queens not far from where she shares a house with her family, if he's even telling the truth. Stirred out of her paranoia by Lee's reassurances, she looks down at his hand with mild surprise — then shakes it, flashing him a much warmer smile. "I'll do that," she replies, "He gets in there and he's like … well, a kid in a candy store. Thanks." And with that, she starts to stride out of the park along with the mutt.

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