15343/Grocery Shopping in Two Bridges

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Grocery Shopping in Two Bridges
Date of Scene: 15 July 2023
Location: Adam 31'st Grocery, Two Bridges
Synopsis: Fighting... over food?
Cast of Characters: Guile, Black Canary

Guile has posed:
Two Bridges has long been considered part of New York's multiple Chinatown's, with Mandarin or Cantonese signs as big, if not bigger, than the English ones. They knew their market. But America was a diverse and free country, and a tall blond man like Major Guile was welcome, if not particularly embraced.

He stuck out like a sore thumb, wearing military boots, camo pants, and a tank top. Okay, the tank top actually fit with the summer weather. But he had an imposing physique, towering over most of the customers of Adam 31's Grocery on Catherine Street.

He walked into the market, ducking under something hanging from the ceiling, as every inch of accessible space was used, with products lining the walls, as well as bins for easy access. There was the sounds of talking in Mandarin, one man asking about how fresh the Star Anise or bajiao was.
Black Canary has posed:
Dinah for her part both sticks out and fails to stick out. Like Major Guile, she's blonde and painfully white. Unlike Major Guile she's in far more a normal height range, not towering over any of the men and only a little taller than the women of the main customer base.

Of course there's the massive bruising on the left side of her face that makeup, fitfully applied, is utterly failing to cover up.

For her part she's bargaining fiercely for a bag of ... loquats? (Wait, what the Hell is a loquat?!) Her bargaining is in the unusual situation of having picture-perfect pronunciation but limited vocabulary, the inverse of what is more usually the case for polyglots. Further, she switches between Cantonese and Mandarin as her vocabulary in one fails, with even an occasional foray into Korean when things get desperate (which just gets blank stares from the owner). Finally the guy holds up his hands and, with a perfect New York (indeed Lower Manhattan) accent says, "Hey, listen, Lady, I'll give you the price you want if you stop it with the Korean, OK?"

There's a pregnant pause, where the puglist stares at him before a grin breaks out on her face, mirrored by the owner, before both break out into chuckles.

"Deal," Dinah says. "I just ... ran out of words."
Guile has posed:
The Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean all went over Guile's head. He had taken Spanish in high school, and really, hadn't had to use it since, except for the kinds of things one might say while on vacation in a tourist friendly area of Central America, like ocupado, por favor, and gracias.

But when he heard the New York accent, even specifically a Lower Manhattan one, he smiled. He couldn't help it. She got the price she wanted just by annoying him. "A man after my own heart," he said quietly to himself, but not so quietly that someone might have heard it. His accent was non-descript American, as befit an airman that had travelled across the country.

He grew up in New Hampshire, went to school in Colorado, spent a lot of time stationed in Florida, now lived in New York, and pretty much everywhere in between.

Approaching the woman and the man who had just finished their exchange, "I'd stay away from the pai gow if I were you."
Black Canary has posed:
"Here?" Dinah looks up at Guile. "Yeah, don't play the tiles with these guys. They'll take your liver as stakes after finessing all your cash!"

Her eyes swivel to the owner who's trying hard to suppress a grin. "I'm on to you Lee Kwok!"

She turns her attention back to Guile. Her own accent is harder to place. West coastish, but ... not Seattle. That's that little 'oo' lilt that suggests perhaps a Canuckistani, but an earthiness to it all that sounds more ... well ... New York. With a hint of the South.

In a word: confused.

"What brings a gweilo to this dump anyway?" she asks, as if she herself wasn't as foreign a ghost as Guile. "There's the Asian megamart up the road where all we white folk hang out."

That breaks Lee Kwok who now guffaws and covers his mouth.

"No risk of a tile game breaking out there either."

The sweet, innocent, heavily bruised face blinks innocently.
Guile has posed:
Guile had not been to this grocery store before. He didn't live in this part of town. But he was in the area, and he liked to see what he could find. Besides, sometimes you can pick up clues in the least likely of places. Every interaction was a chance to do some good, or make contacts that might ultimately lead him to Bison.

"I know some people, taught me where to buy, and where not to, and," he held his hand slightly away from his body, subtly moving his index finger as if to point to her and then back to himself in rapid succession, "if too many," meaning too many white people, "it's probably not the best place to shop."

Then he looked to Lee Kwok, trying to size up the man, and simply asked, "what do you recommend?" It was a test and a challenge, all in one.
Black Canary has posed:
The shopkeeper doesn't even pause to think. "The loquat is tree-ripe and doesn't stay that way long. Get it now or get the crap stuff that was truck-ripened over at the megamart and wonder why anybody would eat a loquat."

He follows this up by coming from behind the counter and bustling over to the fruit selection to pick out what looks like a miniaturized tangerine made mad passionate love to a grape. "You try one of these and compare it to the megamart you see what I mean. More expensive here for sure. But that's because it's quality good."

Dinah holds up her bag of what looks like at least three pounds of loquat. "He's right, you know. These things are ambrosia ... but only when grown to ripeness. Otherwise they taste like citrus peel and salt."

She leans in, adding, "But he's not being fully honest. His bao, steaming over in the back, are actually the best thing he sells. He just wants to have some left over for his lunch."
Guile has posed:
Listening to what the owner had to say, Guile watched for body language, getting a read on him, his tone of voice, his energy, everything he was saying except his actual world choices. Oh, he listened to that as well, but that was the least important part in many cases.

Stepping aside, he nearly knocked over a little Asian American woman, and then emphatically said, "boo how yee see, ma'am", likely butchering it, but his attempt was probably better than most. The fact he even made one, or knew enough to try and say it hopefully got him some credit.

Taking one of the baskets, he would fill up on the loquat, and anything else the owner suggested. Little did they know that Guile was probably going to cook all the flavor out of it. A small nod to Dinah's suggestion, and a moment later, he caught sight of bao steaming over in the back, "that bao sure does smell good. Make sure there's more on Wednesday, will ya?"
Black Canary has posed:
"Meishi meishi," the woman mumbles reflexively before blinking and realizing who (what!) she was responding to. A momentary glance of confused respect before she goes along her way.

"Gotta get the bao early," the relieved shopkeeper says, seeing his lunch not sold out from under him...until that very same small woman that Guile nearly stepped on spots them and adds something in Cantonese. Lee Kwok's face falls momentarily before he recovers and courteously fetches a bag, putting most of the bao in them.

Easy come, easy go. Maybe he can go to the megamart for bland and tasteless bao...

About the only interesting thing Dinah-wise that happens is that when Guile accidentally nearly knocks over the small woman, her hands are out and on their way to catch the woman before there's even a chance for it to register that there's a threat. And when the threat is gone as the woman catches herself the hands are on their way back to where they were as if nothing had happened.

Pretty good reflexes.

"So when you're not warning against the dangers of gambling in small shops, what is it you do?" she asks Guile. She pauses. "I guess for full disclosure, I'm a singer. And guitar player."

No. Really.
Guile has posed:
Guile at least didn't rob the man of his intended lunch. He had enough respect to allude to it, without actually asking. But his allusion may have caught the ear, or she saw it on her own, of the small woman. Go figure.

He did however take note of Dinah's impressive reflexes, barely. It was out of his peripheral vision, the very corner of his eye. But he was trained to spot that sort of thing, and there was a brief nod of respect towards her, an unspoken kinship.

"I'm a Major in the United States Air Force," which fit his attire, except he seemed to be more of a commando. That could place him as a member of the Air Force Special Operations Command, the Air Commando, whose motto was 'Any place. Any time. Anywhere.' Though they were based in Hurlburt Field, Florida. "The name's Guile." Last or first, either way, it was unconventional. He offered a hand to the woman.

"Do you play country?" Okay, that seemed out of place. He didn't seem the type to be into country music.
Black Canary has posed:
Such are the wages of virtue. Someone else gets that which you unselfishly gave up.

Still, to be fair, this is a store, not someone's living room.

"Country?" Dinah laughs at that, mouth in a wide (albeit lopsided from the bruising) smile. "We're about as far from country as you can get. Ashes on Sunday is ... I like to call ourselves post-Nupunk. Which is to say a weird blend of post-punk with Numetal."

She tilts her head and gives Guile an appraising scan.

"Probably I' ... m going to guess here from the clean-cut look not ... your scene. But I could be wrong. I've seen surprising people at my gigs." Like Superman.
Guile has posed:
Guile had a pseudo-clean cut image. He was certainly immaculate, shirt clean, pants clean, boots, surprisingly clean. Spit polish clean, actually. There was a shine to them. And he did have the look of a man who only cared about pretending to be an airman. His boots were cleaned daily. He just hadn't put his foot into anyone's ass for his country today... yet.

Though he did sport two visible tattoos, each of an American flag on his biceps, and both as if he were charging forward. Besides that, there was his hair cut. He had gelled his hair in such a way that it was up, almost like a brush, but flat on the top. Impressive hold to maintain that throughout the day, especially if he engaged in vigorous activity.

"I don't know it, but if you've got a card, I'll certainly look the band up." He was being polite. He probably wasn't going to look them up. Well, not as a fan anyway. You never know who you'll run into. Though she may have noticed his eyes kind of glaze over at 'nupunk', 'post-punk', and 'numetal'. They didn't seem to be terms he was familiar with.
Black Canary has posed:
For her part, despite the bruising, and despite the carefully-unkempt punkette look she sports, something in her face and, more suspiciously, her bearing suggests something far purer and clean than her fronting would have an onlooker believe.

That bearing ... it's definitively the bearing of someone who is the habitual recipient (and possibly disher-out) of discipline, in fact. There's little clues here and there that military service is involved. The feet angled slightly outward. The tendency to pull the arms straight when hanging at the side. But there's more. There's an economy of motion you rarely find in civilian life. Even when making 'extravagant' gestures, like the expansive handwave she made when coining 'post-Nupunk' as a term, there's no wasteful flourishes, nor is there hesitation. While the gesture is expansive, it's economical in its expanse, and there's none of the usual delays or slight course changes that a normal person would subconsciously make.

"I've got a card here somewhere," Dinah continues, starting to root around in her pockets at one point flashing, very briefly, in a 'blink it and you missed it' moment, the strangest-looking set of knuckle dusters Guile has ever seen, before she finally pulls out a weathered, creased, and worn business card.

"Wasn't expecting a fan," she says, ironically stressing the final word. "So didn't carry."
Guile has posed:
He was picking up on her body language. His was similar, but he wasn't trying to hide who or what he is. He was dressed openly, and he admitted to his military background at the first opportunity. She on the other hand, seemed to have a military record, but so far, wasn't forthcoming with its details. Not that it mattered. She wasn't a suspect... yet.

Taking the offered card, he would reach into his back pocket and pull out his wallet, placing the card in there. His wallet was brown leather, nothing out of the ordinary, worn, probably at least four or five years old, with the brief flash of an identification card that read 'Guile, William F.', his height, weight, birthday, hair and eye color, as you would expect.

"I'm not ready to commit to being a fan just yet, but I'll hear your music, and decide for myself."
Black Canary has posed:
"I can give you a taste," Lee Kwok says as he bundles up Guile's purchases. "She's not smart enough to carry a smartphone, but I have ... iPhone XIX!" He holds up the smart phone from behind the counter. In a matter of moments he's got a music app running and is searching... "Here we go. Ashes on Sunday."

Only Guile can know what Guile's reaction to the music is. And the band. With the woman he's talking to, dressed in jeans, a white tee, and a leather jacket in the video dressed in torn fishnets, a black leather-looking bodysuit ... and the same leather jacket. With eye makeup deliberately put on to run and look garish.

And with the look of the lead singer and rhythm guitarist seemingly being an homage to the very real world vigilante of the Justice League (among others): the Black Canary.

All while Dinah buries her face in her hands in embarrassment and peeks out between the fingers at the screen on the phone before cringeing.
Guile has posed:
"A taste, huh?" For a moment, Guile thought he might get to taste some of the steaming bao. But instead, Lee Kwok decided to share some of her music. Guile leaned over, because smartphone speakers were notoriously bad for sharing in a crowded and noisy area, such as the grocery store.

She looked familiar, like the superhero Black Canary. He had never met the woman, never met most superheroes, as far as he knew, but he had heard about her, read some reports. He smiled faintly, he listened, and he even tapped his boot, slightly, but it was there.

A glance back at Dinah, and how she buried her face in her hands, and he paused, "hey, nothing to be embarrassed about, kid." Okay, maybe the cut of the leather-looking bodysuit, but no more than that.
Black Canary has posed:
"Lee Kwok, I'm going to KICK YOUR ASS!" She hisses this at him in Cantonese, but rapidly recovers her equilibrium.

He didn't recognize her.

"That's just one of our cringier videos," she explains. "We didn't know what we wanted so the director just did what he wanted." She glares subtly at Lee Kwok. "He could have picked one of our later videos..."

The shopkeeper laughs, but shakes his head. "No. Only that video shows off the legs so nicely."

And that's when another piece of a puzzle that's slowly being assembled comes into focus. Her legs are unusually muscled for a musician...

"Really, though, that's not our best video. The song's good. Video is ... cringe. All the way. It's the kind of thing that happens when a florist sings for a band and they shoot a video."


"I'm actually a florist," she clarifies. "The band is ... more than a hobby, less than a career."
Guile has posed:
Remaining steadfast, Guile did not want to offend Dinah, nor the shopkeeper. He listened to them argue, sometimes in languages he did not understand, other times in English. Thankfully, the reference to Dinah's legs was made in English, so Guile reacted to that. He was a man. He glanced at her legs. They weren't in fishnets like in the video, but they were still great.

He blinked. A florist. With legs like that. And military training. Yeah, he believed that story. But she was mostly a civilian, and he was in a public place, so he tried not to offend her by calling her out on that. "Okay, well, I'll be sure to check Ashes on Sunday out." A beat. "Oh, and I didn't catch your name?"
Black Canary has posed:
"Oh, right. Sorry. Dinah Drake. I'm from Pennytown." She pronounces it "penny-ton". "Suburb of Starling City. Canada."

She roots around in her pocket again and pulls out another business card, this one in better condition. It says in a large, friendly, romantic font, SHERWOOD FLORIST. "This is me," she says. "See?" She points to the line: Dinah Drake, proprietor.
Guile has posed:
\He didn't know Pennytown, or Pennyton, but when she said Starling, he immediately understood and nodded, "ah, gotcha," he thought about saying welcome to New York, or America, but he had picked up on some New York in her accent, or something else, so she had probably been here a while. She also seemed to know the owner reasonably well.

He'll take the second card, placing it with the first, but not until after he had checked it out. He also pulled out a card. His came out of a metal card holder. It said his full name and rank on it, as long as a phone number, "here you go, in case, well, in case." He hadn't planned to get her life story, but she was forthcoming, and he decided it would be rude not to reciprocate. Okay, sometimes he enjoyed being rude. But not in public.