2008-02-23: Why Did the Chicken Cross The Road?

Starring:

Niki_icon.gif Lee_icon.gifBenjamin_icon.gif Church_icon.gif McAlister_icon.gif Madison_icon.gif

Summary: Two Company men stalk their target only to be foiled by McAlister and a chicken; said target is waylaid by a little girl who seems lost, and Lee is alternately helpful and himself. Another day in Chinatown…?

Date It Happened: February 23rd, 2008

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?


Chinatown, New York City

The streets of Chinatown are bustling with a typically colourful mixture of people: those simply passing through from one area of Manhattan to another, those browsing the many shops, those who live and work here and try to sell their wares to the many passer-bys. It's a nice day in the city, all things — like the fact that it's still not spring — considered. The sun is bright and it's a few degrees warmer than yesterday.

One of the people passing through from point A to point B is Niki Sanders, cutting through from the nearby Soho after leaving Charlotte's flat a few minutes prior. A black duffel bag is slung over her shoulder. The woman's long, fast strides on show no signs of stopping as she passes by a slew of nearly identical trinket and souvenir shops to her right, weaving past people on the sidewalk just to go faster. The black above-the-knee jacket, black fabric with leather trim with just a tied belt to keep it shut, paired with the severe ponytail her hair is pulled back in give her a more severe demeanour than usual — not to mention her constantly vexed expression.

Lee is arguing with a half-Samoan half-Chinese guy built like a fireplug and wearing a tuxedo with the tie untied. "No, see, coincidences are just the death of drama." Lee says. "By their very nature they jump the tracks of decisions and consequences. If decisions don't produce the consequences, then moral agency is completely lost and without it there's no point to any story at all, because nothing anyone does matters."

"But you like Dickens," the Chinese guy points out. "The guy's famous for coincidences."

"Dramatic necessity isn't the same as coincidence." Lee says. "And you can tell in Dickens when he hits a wrong note. The end of Oliver Twist, right? He turns out to be the lost nephew of the family that rescued him. That one's terrible, because A, one family is not the most important family in the world…" They laugh at the very notion. "…and number two, it breaks the legs of their previously selfless generosity to Oliver. That's what I'm talking about. When you just have characters show up somewhere for a highly contrived situation just so they can have some wholly artificial interaction…"

The Samoan-Chinese guy's iPhone buzzes and he glances at it. "Shit. I gotta go, Lee." He backpedals away, snapping his fingers and pointing at Lee triumphantly: "The Thenardiers!"

"Thematic representations!" calls out Lee, satisfied to have the last word.

Lee's arm is in a sling and he's got some healing bruises on his face and neck but he's thankfully out of the painkiller haze and able to argue literature with his hipster pals while he waits for final word to come down on his suspension. Nevertheless he is paying more attention to buying hot tea from a cart than Niki barrelling down the sidewalk.

"Wait.. I .. No. Here. Take t.. I didn't want.. Can you.."

It's hard to be suave, or even coherent, when you have a live chicken hanging by its feet from your fist. And flapping. A lot. With feathers. It's even worse when the guy you're talking to apparently only speaks Chineese, and is bowing, smiling, and has just run off with your twenty dollar bill, leaving you the brand new owner of said chicken.

And a bowl of noodles, but those aren't important right now.

The chicken is apparently trying to fly sideways, Ali's trying to sell it back, and at least one woman with a cart selling buns over there? She's laughing. This isn't helping things - but thankfully it's currently confined to the mouth of that alleyway just off the main passthrough in this part of Chinatown.

Aaah, one of the perks of the job. Seeing new places, going where one normally doesn't go. Even for a native New Yorker who rarely finds it necessary to go near Chinatown, let alone in the area. With the live chickens for sale, the mix of language, this may as well be a trip out of the city! The bruises on Benjamin's face have faded to a sickly yellow, and his right eye is at least open now. That was a pain to walk around with. So as to blend in, he asides to Church as they pass a vendor with clothing and accessories, "Think Meryl'd like some of those hats over there? I can't top the alien hat I gave her." When the business portion of the day is taken care of, then he can do a bit of shopping.

In the same few minutes that Niki has left Charlotte behind and started her way through Chinatown, two have followed her on foot; Benjamin and Church, the former along for the ride in what Church sees as soft reintegration. A little to-do, after the man's unfortunate private session with Spooky #1. Niki Sanders was one of a handful of names on a certain list, and so she is this afternoon's target.

"I'm getting her an octopus." Lawrence puts a finger to the middle of his sunglasses in order to nudge them back up the bridge of his nose. Ben's not the only one still coming back from bruises, but his are at least lighter. "It'll have wires in the tentacles." Church has his eyes up ahead on the swinging end of Niki's blonde ponytail, and his right hand is in his pocket, fingering at something.

Well. This is not right. This can't be — or rather, it shouldn't be. The vaguely oblivious look on the young Madison's face is tell-tale that she has no idea where she's wandered to. She simply walks along slowly, darting her eyes around in confusing.. she manages to completely turn herself around and walk back the way she came, even, once she gets along too far. Woe to those who have no concept of direction or navigation! The little dark hair'd girl almost looks as if she'll try to ask someone directions — but no sooner does she vaguely lift one slender arm to try to get a passer-by's attention than she lowers it back down, a shy expression on her face as she remains silent, aborting her attempt. Try to signal to strangers isn't as easy as just doing it, after all..!

Paranoia runs high these days, but you know what they say. Barelling she may be, but Niki's acutely aware of her surroundings — or she's trying to be, at least. She hasn't glanced behind her for a time. She eyes the man at the tea stand as she gets nearer, but chooses to ignore Lee, veering around him. The strikes of her sharp heels — belonging to tall, dull silver boots — don't falter, on a seemingly stop-for-nothing trek through Chinatown … until she sees a lost little girl and her momentum slowly goes out the window. Niki's unapproachable gaze softens as she comes to a halt by Madison. "Hey," she says gently, concerned, smiling a little as if to say 'I don't bite', contrary to her appearance two seconds ago. "Are you by yourself, sweetheart?"

Lee is also attuned to kids in a way non-teachers aren't, especially kids of this age, and thus espies Madison's halfhearted signal. He is about to approach when Niki draws nearer to the youth. He smiles warmly, recognizing her. "Hey." he says, greeting the two, but he lets Niki take the lead, no need to overwhelm Madison with offers of aid.

The salesman is /gone/, absconded with what amounts to dinner money. The DJ looks helplessly at her fist full of fowl, then up to the heavens. "… why me?"

It's always the important questions.

A bit helplessly, she moves out of that alley - holding the chicken as far from herself as can be managed (she's not exactly the /biggest/ woman - and chickens is heavy), discovering that the only expediently good point about having annoyed bird is that it tends to clear a path when you're trying to get out to the sidewalk. For the moment, Ali's oblivious to young women and those who would have a vested interest in rescuing them - and definitely oblivious to Church and Benji, despite the pair being closer to her. Her attention's a bit occupied.

Benjamin laughs, trying to keep it at a low volume as he walks with Church. "She'll like that, posing the tentacles. You realize we're just giving her more ammunition right?" Not that he cares. He's reponsible for Meryl's current state, and keeping her spirits up is a priority. As for today's target, Niki? He was once on a friendly basis with her. Now? She's a name and a face in a file and Ben is none the wiser. Behind his sunglasses, his blue eyes tail after Niki as well, watching her approach the young girl. His gaze is on the objective, despite the conversation he's making with Church. A frown tugs at his lips, seeing the approach of a third party towards Niki and the child. He's mildly aware of Ali and the chicken, but dismissed for now.

Church slows down a half-step when Niki pauses to talk to the girl, and fully stops beside Ben when party number three files into the picture. Lawrence nearly pushes Benji into a street vendor with a bump. "Hold on a bit, Ben. I know that guy. So does she." And there- there is a woman holding a chicken somewhere in his vision. Only, Church doesn't really notice as quickly as he might were he not hiding behind reflective lenses. When he turns around again to take a step back to the sidewalk so that Niki comes into better view again, his elbow knocks into the DJ passing his blind spot. Whatever you do, don't let go of the chicken.

W-W-Wh..?! Madison's eyebrows lift in surprise when she suddenly hears the voice — with no other persons standing near her that one would refer to as 'sweetheart', she soon turns on her heels to look up at Niki. Her face melds into an innocent, friendly smile.. but her body language says 'terrified'. "Oh-.. I'm a little lost.." She murmurs after a short pause, her voice quiet and a little reluctant — she keeps her dark green eyes turned upward. She nibbles softly on her lower lip a few times, and then turns her head slightly to look toward Lee briefly — adults all over!

So as to be not quite so looming, the high-heeled blonde mom steps out of the main thoroughfare (and its dangers, like people with chickens) and leans down with one hand on her knee, the other holding tight onto the thick strap of the duffle bag. She glances up at Lee, recognition there again, but focuses on Madison. "You shouldn't be wandering around by yourself," Niki tells the girl, her voice pitched as more of a friendly reminder than a scolding. Brows lifted, inquiring, concerned, she goes on to smile and say, "But hey, maybe I can help you. Where're you headed?"

Lee's file probably has 'THIRD PARTY' written in giant letters on the front. It's probably on his drivers license and business cards, stamped on his passport and the box is checked on every credit card application. Despite all the efforts of his parents, genetics, sister, two well-armed conspiracies, and his best friend's stalker, Lee remains firmly and stubbornly a third party. "Are your parents around here?" He snickers as he sees the trouble Ali is having with her chicken, as far as he's concerned it's just a regular day.
Ayup. There it went.

Well. Sort of. See, Ali just got /elbowed/. There's an 'oof', a flare of temper, a "Hey, watch it! Ass." .. and a return swat. This is what New Yorkers /do/. Only thing is, the DJ has apparently managed to, in a fit of sudden temper, forget that she's holding a domesticated, flapping, clucking, pecking engine of Chikeny DESTRUCTION.

In simpler terms? Church's elbow nets him a bird beating. Or at least.. one really good swing before Ali loses hold of the feathery weapon, which means that an unhappy, bewildered as-yet-uncooked dinner has been /unleashed upon the city/.. or at least this corner of Chinatown.

Benjamin narrowly avoids running into the vendor's cart when Church comes to a halt. "That's not good," he mutters. It could throw a wrench into the works, or they could use recognition to their advantage. He'll defer to the senior agent for instruction, as is protocol and simply having sense. He doubletakes, glancing towards Church, Ali, and the chicken when he /was/ watching his target. "Now look what you did. You gotta buy the lady a new chicken now." Or at least a bucket of KFC.

Madison glances back over her shoulder briefly — "I.. well.." She murmurs off, drawing her lips together tightly for a moment. ".. I wasn't really going anywhere in particular, but I forgot which way I came." She explains, looking back to the now kneeling adult. Her lips curl into a little frown, and she looks up toward Lee; she shakes her head a few times. "No.. I'm staying with my uncle." She replies simply, scuffing the heel of her sneaker against the ground a few times.

Next thing Church knows, he is being hit with a chicken. "What the ffff-feathers in my mouth-" At first he swats back at the bird in his face, and comes up spitting at least one white feather out of his mouth. Pbbt. Pbbbbt. "Watch where you're sticking your fowl, lady!" FOUL. Lawrence pulls off his glasses to peer at McAlister, his eyebrows crooked and his mouth in a frown. There's a feather still on his lip, which he promptly reaches up to remove. "I've been cock-a-doodled!" He exclaims, then muttering and trying to refrain from making a further mess by trying to step away from the DJ. He's not going to catch your chicken for you.

"You forgot!" Niki smiles at the girl, reassuring. "Do you know the address at your uncle's?" She looks from Madison to Lee — between the two of them, maybe they can get the girl somewhere safer than a random street in Chinatown. The turmoil over by McAlister draws soon draws attention for a second — and a second after that, once she double-takes. Not at the bird, but at one of— no, make that two of the men over there. Church, Benjamin. Slowly standing up, she just kind of … stares.

Lee steps up when Niki is distracted, "Or a phone number or his name? I've got a cellphone, I can call him for you if you need a ride somewhere. Did you take the bus here, or walk, or…?" Practical stuff. It's a completely solvable situation. We can be positive about this. He even has a teacher voice.
It's a startling reversal, perhaps - Ali's /first/ reaction is to raise her now-free hand up to her mouth, "Oh. Geez. You okay?" And she's already reaching up to brush feathers off the guy.

THEN she remembers the obvious bit - 'there's a loose animal present, and there's traffic nearby' - "… crap! You guys gotta help me catch him. Her. It. It'll get run over!" Yup. That rich voice of hers betrays nothing but worry about the bird. Enough worry to already start after it. "Uh. Here.. chicken? Guy?"

The chicken's having none of it. NONE. It's getting /gone/, yo. Here and now. Right for the street.

Benjamin may be the junior agent, but he's not about to go on chicken catching duty either. "When you're done screwing around and playing with your food.." he says to Church, struggling to keep a straight face. And failing. Miserably. If he weren't on duty, he'd probably be on the ground laughing. Church is so finding a bib with his lunch later. The humor is killed however, when he notices Niki staring. For appearance's sake, he keeps smiling. As for the suggestion of going after the chicken? Sounds like a good idea, the nice thing to do. So he attempts to help. In his own way, even if it is cheating. At least making the chicken sleepy will make it easier to catch.

Address.. phone number.. Madison simply stands there, deeply in thought for several moments. ".. I don't really know." She finally blurts out, frowning again and shaking her head. "I'm really new here, I remember his last name isn't the same as mine, but-.." She explains as best she can. Oh goody! Mother's side. She hangs her head just a little bit, as if she'd done something wrong. ".. Sorry..! I'm Madison." She murmurs. Her eyes dart over slightly, and then she turns her head to look over in the direction Niki is looking. Not that she has any idea what — or who — is actually being specifically looked at.

Usually he has to say more than 'doodle' to the ladies before they just start touching hi- oh wait, I have feathers on me. I see. Church picks a stray from his collar before lifting his head to Ben, then almost absently towards the direction he keeps smiling in. Oh, Hi Niki. We weren't following you. Nope. Just a coupla'guys, defending ourselves from the chicken onslaught. As if to point this out, he takes a slow sidestep away from Ali and her absentee chicken heading for Freedom!(tm), letting his eyes drop to try and look at Madison from afar. Certainly not Niki's, that's for sure.

Niki splits her attention between Church and Benjamin - who she doesn't smile to at all, as a sidenote — and Madison and Lee. A name. It's a start. "Well— maybe he's in the phone book," she suggests, trying to sound hopeful, tearing her gaze away from the men and McAlister and the chicken and all of the craziness over there to look down at the lost little girl. "This is Mr. Jones. He's a teacher." She smiles brightly at Lee, though it's transparently for Madison's sake, not for the man himself. "Maybe he can help you get back to your uncle."

Lee laughs, "That's hilarious, that chicken is really going after them." he joshes with Madison, keeping the tone light and the pressure off. "Hey, I think I know that guy…he works at the school where I teach…" He trails off as Niki passes the baton off to him formally, giving her an acknowledging nod and return smile, genuine on his part, happy to help a kid in need, really happy. "We'll work it out, Madison, now let's see…how did you get down here? Did you ride the subway? Do you have a bus transfer stub? Did you walk?"

Flapflapflap.. bkaw. Staggerstagger.. whump.

The chicken dodges one way, then another - then flaps /right/ out into traffic, just in time to keel over. That'd be the whump.

The passing truck is unkind to dinner.

Ali just stares, goes pale, …"Ohgod. Eww." Thus is the passing of chicken mourned. Of course, it's all Church's fault. "Do you /see/ what you did?" She points. At the few remaining fluttering feathers. j'accuse!

Madison's eyes widen just a little and her body tenses when she catches the look at her — she immediately turns her head back to look toward Niki and Lee, softly nipping at her lower lip. "I walked here." She answers simply, turning herself toward Lee properly. ".. I'll probably find something familiar sooner or later.." She says, scuffing her sneaker again. If she can stop walking in circles, anyway. "It'd be easier if I knew the names of the roads.."

"There m'am. It looks like your chicken is slowing down, go catch it," Benjamin suggests helpfully. Not that he has anything to do with the sudden lethargy of the escaping poultry. Nope. Not him. As for the animal becoming roadkill, he should feel guilty, but it just can't be found at the moment. This has been smooth, and will be fun to explain or simply omit in their report later. "Now what?," he mutters aside at Church. He glances over his shoulder at Ali as she speaks up again, "Your chicken ran in front of a car, it's not our fault."

"…" Though he has seen much worse than chickens being smooshed, Church can't help but wince. "Sorry about your chicken. But, why the hell'd you have a chicken anyway?" Now, he can't help but laugh. At least just a little. Sorry. Even if there are still feathery bits floating around in the air. He looks from the remnants of Cock-a-doodle-Dead, up to Niki again. Now he just seems as if he might be thinking about talking to her without much steam behind it- they weren't following you, but maybe since you're here-. "Now nothing. Just pretend we were never here for a reason." Church leans to mutter in Benji's ear.

As much as Niki would like to help Madison, she knows she's not the best person to take in strays at the moment. Lee earns a more genuine smile, which turns on the girl. "You be careful. It's easy to get lost in New York," she warns good-naturedly, hesitating a moment before turning heel, hitching the dufflebag more securely over her shoulder. Sure, there are familiar faces nearby, but the woman doesn't seem to be geared for small-talk; her pace picks up and she quickly starts to weave into the crowd. Quick, she's getting away!

Lee says, with upbeat sympathy, to Madison, more or less letting Public Enemy #1 make her escape, "I know, right? I grew up in New York City and there are still some neighborhoods I don't know. Okay, right now we're on Canal. You see the bridge sticking up over there? That's the Manhattan Bridge. You probably got turned around because East Broadway is that way but the famous Broadway that everyone calls Broadway is that way about six blocks. The best way to handle things is look for a subway station. See the big blue 'M' sign right there? With the arrow going that way? That's going to the Grand Street Station. They'll have a big map up of the surrounding area there, and a guy in a blue jacket to help you out." New York Orienteering 101, with Lee Jones. Quiz to follow? "Want me to walk with you?"

Ali stalks Church. "I bought it, I think." (I think?) "I'd never have lost it if your buddy hadn't stuck your elbow in my side." Yup. That's very Jersey - and aimed at Benji. Grumbling. Oh, it lacks a little oomph. It may be somewhat obvious that she didn't really, you know, want the chicken. And then, oddly?

Well, Ali breaks out in a very rueful grin. "… uh. Yeah. I can see my roomate now. 'You brought home a /what/?' - but you /still/ killed my chicken."

That Benjamin can do, he nods just enough to Church so that he can see that it's understood. Completely ignoring Ali now, he waits for Church's lead now that Niki seems to be making a getaway. "Huh, what? You're still talking about the chicken?" He's already forgotten about it, or at least tried to put that behind him. "If I pay for the chicken, will you go away?" Not something he would have said, or how he would have phrased it before, but he's not exactly himself these days.

Crap. This is not how this was supposed to go! While their talking with Niki has been postponed, now Ali is distracting them from tracking her period. "I'm sorry, lady, but we're late for a very important date." Lawrence grabs onto Benji's wrist, pulling him along and taking off into the Canal Street crowd. RUN, BITCH. Does he even need to say it? They'll probably bowl right past Madison and Lee(the former getting another momentary examination in-passing from Church) on their way.

Niki's fast track is slowed slightly by the throng of people by the Canal Street Station, but she manuevers this way and that until she can squeeze through, bumping a few people with her bag along the way, but there's not much she can do about that. She heads down the steps herself, blonde ponytail fast disappearing the further down the worn and dirty stairs underground she goes.

Madison's attention is drawn to the sudden quickened passing of Bejamin and Church — she stares, her head turning along to follow as they pass. Her attention finally returns up to Lee, however, and she.. well, resumes staring. Her eyebrows lift faintly as the flurry of information explodes into one ear and straight out the other — she listens attentively to every word, but the expression on her face betrays the fact that she undersood only a cursory amount of it. "I.. I can probably figure it out. It's okay." She says, after a long pause.

Lee says, "Uh uh, I'm a teacher, you have to show me. C'mon, it's all right. I got hurt…" He displays the sling. "…and so they gave me the day off. Remember, we're going to look for the MTA station. Right? I…" Church and Benjamin go blasting past them. "AUGH!!" That was his hurt arm Church just knocked past. Of course Lee was holding it out for sympathy, so probably he's a bit to blame too. "Criminitly, Church, what's the hurry, if you're that eager to talk to her, just wait for third quarter conferences?!…First a chicken and now my arm, what is with that guy?" he calls out, trailing off by the end.

Ali just looks after the two guys - mildly lost - but. Well, Lee just got hit. And, well. Soft heart means checking in. "Oh. Man. You okay? He's an ass." That hand is waved after Meanie Lawrence, the Chicken Slayer. The kid gets a grin. "Hey."

Whups, sorry about the !payment for the now smooshed chicken. Benjamin is literally being dragged to something a little more important. He'll hit you back next time, Ali. When tracking someone, running isn't very subtle, but they aren't left with much of a choice. Wrist grabbed, Ben runs after Church with little choice.

To see what happens to Niki, Benjamin and Church, turn to page 162. To see what happens to Madison, Lee and McAlister, keep reading.

Madison glances up toward McAlister for a moment after Lee is knocked into — she smiles timidly in return to the grin. "A-.. MTA..?" She mumbles out, looking up toward Lee again. She rubs her lips together for a moment, slowly lidding her eyes half-way. "..I can probably find my way." She says, glancing in another direction momentarily.

Lee says, "Okay, point me the way you're going to go then…hey." he greets as McAlister approaches. "Yeah, I'm okay…" A bit sweaty with the shock of the pain but otherwise okay. "I'm Lee, this is Madison, she's a little lost, we're going to get her to a MTA station - that's the subway, remember." he adds to Madison. To Ali: "…are you a chef? Sorry about your chicken, I work with that guy…I can't figure out why he's here and not at the school. He's normally much cooler."

"No - I.." Ali leaves the Chicken Incident behind her. Far, far behind her. With an uncomfortable clearing of the throat. "Hi Lee - Madison - " She gives the kid a sunny grin - "Ali." Back to Lee. "You /sure/ you're okay? I can snag you guys a cab - here," She offers a hand, waving the other at the streetlamp nearby. "You actually work with that guy? I don't envy you - who was that woman? His ex or something?"

Madison turns herself toward the.. well, she just chooses a random direction, to be honest! ".. I'm going to go this way." She decides, murmuring in a quiet voice. She soon begins to walk — even though Lee is caught up in a conversation. She brings her hands together to slowly zip up her jacket as she moves along.

Lee replies, "I don't know, one of the kids in my class was living with her for a while, she came in for a conference…he never struck me as the stalker type, but you never know…hey hey hey…Madison! Madison, where are you going?" He sorta missed her half-sneaking off.

"I don't kn.." Ali breaks off, as Lee calls after Madison, blinking, and then calling over, in nominal support, "Kiddo?" More quietly. "Oh, she's not yours?"

Huh-wha! Madison whirls around on her heels, looking back toward the other two with a confused expression on her face. 'What did I do..?!' is the look she has.. but she soon calms down a little, pointing in the direction she was walking. "It.. isn't this way?" She questions, her head quirking faintly to the left.

Lee says, "No, no, she was just lost…" Then: "No, the M, follow the signs with the M…look, why don't you just come with me and I'll show you the way." Aha, a special ed kid. Or on drugs. Lee's dealt with both before.

Ali just looks at Lee, then Madison, then Lee - and as Lee's on his own two feet, well, the DJ just drifts to the side. "It couldn't hurt, kiddo - better than wandering alone, right?" She tries on a smile. "This is a great town, but it's not exactly /safe/, yaknow?"

Madison nibbles her lower lip tensely for a moment — and then emphatically shakes her head. "I can do it." She decides, with a sudden single nod. ".. Which direction was it again?" She asks, glancing around and searching for signs!

Lee points towards the nearest sign. "Over there. This way. C'mon, seriously, it's not that far."

Ali smiles, then, a bit wryly - and edges away from the pair. "You guys be careful, huh?" And she stuffs hands in jeans pockets, shifting that bag of hers on her shoulder - and drifts away. Lee's got this well in hand, after all.

Madison looks toward the sign that gets pointed at — and then suddenly starts to scurry off in that direction, waving her arm a little. "N-No, It's okay..! I can do it! Nice to meet you..!" She calls back, slipping among the people walking — and doing her best not to ram into anyone as she goes.

Lee is therefore suddenly left without either charge or acquaintance, he searches for Madison for a bit, but she's gone. "What the hell just happened here?" he says to no one in particular, clearly having forgotten the conversation he had not five minutes ago with his friend.

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