2014-03-17 In a Pinch Part 1
2014-03-17
Players: Black Widow, Hulk, Loki, Nightcrawler, Phantasm
GMed by NA
Title: In a Pinch

The neighborhood is primarily residential, with a mix of tenements, apartment blocks, city housing projects, townhouses and renovated rowhouses, and its many retail businesses reflect the ethnic and social diversity of the population. The western part of Chelsea has become a center of the New York art world, with many art galleries located in both new buildings and rehabilitated warehouses.

Greenwich Village, often referred to in New York as simply "the Village", is a largely residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan in New York City. A large majority of the district is home to upper middle class families. Greenwich Village, however, was known in the late 19th to mid 20th centuries as an artists' haven, the bohemian capital, and the East Coast birthplace of the Beat movement. What provided the initial attractive character of the community eventually contributed to its gentrification and commercialization.

Good Morning everyone and enjoy your wonderful commute throughout the city! Despite Monday being St. Patty's day, there is no mercy for those who have partied throughout the weekend. For some sitting at the bus stop, they are managing the symptoms of their hangover, while others are tiredly blinking. And then there is the third group of folks, lingering around a table that is set up, holding several stacks of paperback books authored by Irish authors. A rather 'too cheerful for the morning' woman passes them out to those who wander close enough to be reached by her.

One such person, although not quite waiting for a bus, is in this line, sporting his Goodwill duds and newfound goodwill knit cap. Because, well, how is Mike going to refuse a free book?

Then there's Kurt, who with his image inducer watch makes his way through the Village. There have been parties through the weekend and also parties on the day, and Greenwich will be the place where many of them unfold. He could probably walk through the place even without a hologram — and dressed like a pirate captain — and get free drinks even at this time of morning. When he passes by the table he pauses and gives a look along the selection, before smiling and picking up a copy of Ulysses.

Loki has been wandering a bit further and further away from the Avengers Mansion, feeling bolder now that he's been training pretty hard each day. He comes up on a line, a bit puzzled as to why it is there. He rubs his eyes with the back of one hand and gets closer, peering around to see what's happening here.

As Loki comes closer, he manages to come in range of the lady's arm and as a reward, she thrusts over a copy of 'The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe' towards Loki, "Happy reading, sweetie." She chirps out happily before turning to help others, picking books at random to thrust to those who don't pick their own.

Mike emerges from the line, already starting to thumb open his newfound copy of 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. Smiling at the entertaining freebie, he doesn't see Loki immediately but the glance to ensure he doesn't run in to anything does cause for him to take note. "Ah, Good morning!"

"Danke!" Kurt offers, as he's able to pick up the book. He hasn't read it in quite a while, so this will be a delight for later. Maybe much later, if he ends up enjoying the day out as much as he imagines he might. He is in Greenwich Village, after all, and even now it's already proven to be a reliable source of unexpected excitement.

Loki is given the book and backs up a few steps, startled. "ERm…thank you. You do know that I don't know how to read English, yes? " He asks, looking the book over. "I suppose I will read it once I learn. Do you have any more books on hungry caterpillars?"

Mike rests a hand on Loki's shoulder, gently guiding him away from the busy, and starting to look confused woman, "Unfortunately the caterpillars aren't featured in many works by Irish authors so she wouldn't have any of those." He sneaks a glance to the book in Loki's hand and smiles, "Ooh. One of the Chronicles of Narnia books. That should be a good read when you get to that point."

Hearing the German thanks, Mike's head turns, seeing the guy from the coffee shop. He tilts his head in greeting to the other book lover. "Enjoying the St. Patrick's day freebie?"

When Kurt is directly addressed, it takes him a moment to find who is speaking to him. When he does, he breaks into a grin again and waves his hand at the familiar face. "The actor! Hello again! Yes, it seems one can't complain about the price. And old books always have character. Sometimes you find an inscription or a simple item used as a bookmark…sometimes you see little notes scribbled in margins and long forgotten…that is why I always prefer books that have been owned before."

Loki looks at his book and says "Thank You," to the woman again as Mike guides him away. "I shall keep it, then. I hope to get to that point soon." Loki looks to Kurt and listens, then looks to Mike again, just listening to the two converse.

"I usually get my books from the library." Mike reveals, giving a bit of a smile at the discussion of old books, "Plenty of books at the right price when income was hard to come by growing up. Quite the boredom buster." He tilts his head, trying to peek at Kurt's selection, "So what did you get?"

Kurt looks between Loki and Mike, giving Loki a friendly inclination of his head before holding up the well-read copy of Ulysses, by James Joyce. He looks proud to have picked it out. "I would have thought a book like this would be snapped up at once. What a pleasure I could find it just stumbling upon it!"

"Oh yes, the library. I won't be needing to go there anymore, unless it is to pick up more books for learning to read english. I have seen another man with your accent. Are you the same man?" That's an ambiguous question, but he's not really paying attention as he looks through his book.

"I think they have several copies of each book in the selection." Mike mentions, "The Irish Arts Center's got several locations they're running this morning and the foot traffic tends to be reasonably large to some of them. Got to love the Saint Patrick's day festivities. Hmm, speaking of which… " He unbuttons his jacket a bit, exposing a green shirt underneath.

With a light step, Natasha makes her way down the street on foot. She's currently dressed in jeans, boots, a dark red t-shirt with a tan light jacket over it. By all appearances, she's unarmed, her crimson curls left down to grace past her shoulders. There is a bandage wrapped around her right hand against the palm and back of it. At least at first, she doesn't seem to be paying much mind or notice the table and gathering.

Kurt opens his mouth and then closes it again, looking a little unsurely at the distracted Loki. "I don't believe we've met before, have we?" That's all he can think of to politely answer the enquiry. He stows the book away in his coat pleasantly enough, breathing deeply in and slowly out again. "You're taking no chances."

"I do not know, that is why I asked." He asks, looking up at Mike, then Kurt. "I always wear green. What is the significant of wearing green now? Why do you worship Patrick?" He furrows his brow slightly. "What do you mean? If you are not wearing green does something happen?"

"Last thing I need is to give someone a reason to sneak a pinch." Mike replies with a tilt of a head and a bit of a wink. He glances over to Loki, "Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. And on his day we celebrate Irish culture." He glances to the table, "Well some do. Others just use it as an excuse to get drunk or pinch people who aren't wearing green that day."

The familiar voice draws Natasha's green eyes towards the gathering and her course alters. "Loki?" She calls as she nears, smiling politely to the others if they happen to look her way.

Kurt wiggles his fingers at Loki, in joking menace. "Yes…if you were not to wear green, you'd be in danger of being pinched by every passer-by! Pinched or any number of other things…even petted!"

Bruce has hearsd rumor of a free book handout thing :P. He goes exploring, heading in the direction of where the handouts is happening.

"Pinched?" Loki asks, turning to face the familiar voice. "Natasha?" He asks, "These people have indicated that decorum dictates that I pinch you for not wearing green attire." He reaches out toward her, possibly not aware of how much of a death sentence this could be.

Mike looks over to Natasha and then towards Loki who is reaching over to the person he seems to know. Mike reaches into his pocket quickly and pulls out a shamrock sticker, holding it out towards Natasha. "Quick!"

As Loki reaches out to pinch her, the bandaged hand is quick to grab his wrist. Perhaps she doesn't wear green because most aren't dumb enough to try that. She tsks him. Though the hold is brief, considering it was her injured hand. "Americanized holidays. You realize that in the beginning the color of honor for St Patrick's Day was blue. It wasn't until later that it changed to green." She takes the sticker from Mike with a faint tug at the corner of her lips and sticks it against her shoulder. "Better?" The Russian asks of the godling. Of course Bruce is noticed and she lifts a hand in greeting: "Dr. Banner."

"Does it really matter, as long as people can enjoy themselves?" Kurt offers, smile softening at the arrival of someone he doesn't know, but Loki and possibly Mike seem to. His image inducer watch paints him as a sort of modernized Errol Flynn. "After all, we are in the party capital of New York for holidays like this, from what I understand!"

Loki grins at Natasha when she grabs his wrist. He wasn't REALLY going to pinch her. "It is good to see you, Natasha. How have you been? I have been training with other agents, but they have not been very kind." Loki turns and looks to Kurt and looks at him for the first time, narrowing his eyes. "Fandral? Is that you? Why would you disguise your voice but not your face?"

Bruce isn't paying that much attention, navigating his way to the book place. He sees Natasha, starts navigating toward the red head, though she might be on the job still. And, he isn't wearing any green

"That's because Ireland techically has two national colors and the green fell more in favor modern times wise. Blue is the traditional, Green's the popular." Hearing the mention of other ageints, Mike sighs and reaches into his pocket, pulling out a small roll of shamrock stickers, "Lets see…" He unrolls a small length of them and rips them off the roll before passing it over to Natasha, "Uh, just in case he tries that with any of your other friends."

Natasha's in a long-term cover, as it were, for the foreseeable future. Doesn't stop her from interacting as friends, regardless. Taking the torn piece from Mike, she smiles, "Thank you." And as soon as Bruce is close enough, she lifts a hand to pinch his arm for good measure. "Bruce, my dear. So good to see you. They've started a pinching war, fair warning." And she hands over the slip of paper with the stickers on it to the good Doctor- of course after she's employed the pinch. To Loki, she arches a brow: "Well enough. I suppose I should keep a hand in your training." She murmurs under her breath in Russian. Something about complicated matters.

Loki is stealthily reaching for Bruce as Mike hands Natasha more stickers. Stop ruining his fun! But then Natasha does it, so Loki does it as well. *pinch*. Lokis will be Lokis, afterall. He skitters back to the safety of standing near Mike because should Bruce turn huge and green, Mike would be in grabbing range first. "I am doing well enough, thank you. You need not worry yourself. Just because they are not kind does not mean I have not been training."

"Good to see you again, mein freund." Kurt calls out to Mike. He steps back, slipping away in the mingling crowd, to find his pleasure today on this holiday. He may have had some enjoyment over the weekend, but today will be the day…the day to overindulge with green beer and various other seasonal treats! But five is definitely a crowd, and as the dashing swashbuckler knows none of the others, he figures to duck out so as not to complicate their interactions with a complete outsider. He got a free book! And that's a score.

Mike turns his head away from Loki's friends to give Kurt a farewell wave, "See you around! Enjoy the book!"

Bruce got fair warning from Natasha, the red head pinching in a fairly harmless place. He smiles, taking the roll of stickers, hmming before Loki strikes. THIS was unexpected, his eyes widenning, and going green, moments before Mr. Green start making his appearance

As soon as Bruce starts to undergo the change, Natasha plants herself immediately in front of him, her hands lifting to try and take his face to put his focus on her. "Bruce.. listen to me. Its okay…" She shows no fear, and her voice is kept calm. She's hoping the touch and presence will be enough to calm him down before he changes fully.

Loki blinks and frowns, reaching out to take one of Mike's stickers and going over to stick them on Bruce. Stickers will keep him from changing, right? Stick stick stick. Stranger things have happened on Midgard, so he doesn't count this out as one of those bizarre remedies.

Well, it WAS a nice start to the morning with free books and all, but it appears all of that will be threatened due to an illtimed pinch. And yet, they are none the wiser just yet.

Having given his farewell greeting to Kurt, the musician turns to look over to Bruce to see him seeing, well. A bit green in the gills. He gives a slight frown of concern, not quite aware of what's coming because well, yeah. People know what the hulk looks like, but who really remembers what the other guy looks like? God, you need a who's who book complete with pictures just to keep track of all the powers in the city, "Hey man, are you alright?"

Bruce 's eyes are bright green, staring into Natasha's, grimacing as he's growing in size, the transformation rather unpleasant. His hand pushs against Natasha, his strength NOWHERE near the level Mr. Green possesses

Is it strange that a recently attacked and currently hunted doctor is back on the street, in public, after only oh so recently having escaped with her life? Perhaps. But to her, such matters are a moot point. Her personal library was destroyed when a certain SHIELD task force decided to ruin her business, and as such she needs to replenish it. Though, why not simply order her books online and have them delivered at the HAMMER facility? Because they just don't understand, that's why. Paperback is not an acceptable medium, nor are any copies that are after the 5th revised editions as the integrity of the argument of the book was destroyed by horrendous editting. And what book might that be? Why a simple little essay, leather bound in the 4th edition (her own was well worn, but none the less in good conditions), entitled A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick.

Thus it is that she walks to each of the book posts set up on the feast day of the Irish patron saint, browsing for just such a copy. Now, though she may be taking a risk, she certainly isn't foolish about it. Hair drawn tight, wrapped in scarf, long brown coat, gloves, thick, dark, and heavy sunglasses; she's doubtful to be recognized easily in the throngs of people celebrating in the streets.

It might be unpleasant, but Bruce and Hulk both should be fairly aware of her stubborness. Russians. She stumbles back a step, her hands falling away from him, not having truly expected it. She holds up a hand to Loki and tries to wave him and Mike both back, though her green eyes never leave him. She steps close again to Bruce, minding her bandaged hand this time, letting it hand at her side. "Bruce…" She speaks again, trying to hold his attention in some hope that she can calm him still. "Listen to my voice. Focus.. Its alright."

Oh man, Dominique is here and Nat isn't even paying attenion. How is THAT for Irony?

Mr. Green is being forestalled by Natasha. The eyes are still green, yet, he's not putting on more weight, and his breathing seems to be slowing. Maybe Bruce isn't going to become The Hulk

Loki frowns and starts backing away. "I think I should probably leave before things become dangerous. I had better get back to studying or whatever it is I have to do." He holds his hands up to try and placate Bruce, and then starts running. Hopefully he won't turn green and catch him. "Hello, Dominique!" He says on the way past.

Well, if Natasha's hand motion wasn't enough warning, that Bruce is getting bigger and continuing to turn green does add emphasis to the unspoken request. Mike does step back, but continues watching the scene before him. Hearing Loki's spoken thought, Mike gives a slight nod in agreement but doesn't follow. Instead hanging around still, looking to the Christmas combo and then to the number of people around. Oh boy.

With the scene building up, others have begun to noticed and the more self preservational folks have started to give the group a wide berth. The ones more interested in the books however, have yet to notice.

As the transformation seems to be stalled, Natasha smiles. "Hey." Her uninjured hand raises to try and rest on the Doctor's shoulder. "Thats it. Focus on me." For her, at the moment, all the rest of the world is ignored as she puts all her effort and focus into calming down Mr. Green. She continues murmuring to him, something lower that the others can't hear, but that smile remains. Calm, easy demeanor.

Seems Natasha has the magic touch, or was it Beauty that tamed the savage beast. In either event, other than a rather loud growl, Bruce stops growing, actually starting to return to his normal size, eyes starting to darken back to a more normal brown

Her scar? No, that's covered by the glasses and a bit of makeup. Her hair? No, there's so many redheads, real and fake, out today that that couldn't be the tip off. Her clothing? No, she's not wearing some distinct jeweled crown or a military ribbon. Then what? How was she found out? Dominique turns to face the one who called her name, pausing as she spies the deceiver before her, her eyes narrowing darkly behind her glasses. Usually she's quite calm, but this particular annoyance did manage to perturb her so. Without skipping a beat, she begins to cross the street to leave the wretched man in her wake, unwittingly heading straight towards Natasha, Bruce, and Mike. One would swear it was all part of his plan… if one gave the fool that much credit.

Loki has slipped off to watch from the shadows. He Isn't going to get close again unless it becomes necessary, and, with all the high powered people around, it won't.

With Bruce shrinking down, Mike relaxes a little bit. It isn't until he relaxes that he realizes that he had indeed tensed up. He still hasn't quite realized he's staring yet, however.

As he starts to normalize, Natasha's bandaged hand raises to rest on his other shoulder, maintaining that eye contact. She still exhibits no fear. She either has a death wish or they're just good friends. The others are still ignored for a moment- not willing to break that focus and contact until she's sure he won't relapse. "Hey… better now?" She smiles. She doesn't glance at Dominique's name; she doesn't know it. Nor does she realize she's on the approach.

Bruce takes a deep breath, his eyes no longer green, "Thanks, Natasha." He stretches, looking at the people around him, "I'm glad you were able to stop Mr. Green from making an appearance."

There are 8.337 million people in New York City, with a density of 26,403 people per square mile. The math involved to determine the probability of both Dominique and Natasha being in that same square mile, at the same time is long and complicated. The math to determine that they're on the same street even more so, and the math to determine the probability of them being a hair's breadth away from one another would be discounted as such a small possibility as to be insignificant. However, those betting on the long odds at this very moment in this very section of the city would be more joyous than any bettor before them. Skirting the edge of the gathering and paying it no mind (she's not involved with the event, nor does it impact her goal, so why should she mind it?), Dominique walks but mere inches behind Natasha, walking as unnoticed past her as two ships passing in the night.

But this is only factoring in numbers and not the psychological implications of persons of habit and the need to go where there are things happening. Mike looks down to Bruce, figuring it's safe now to speak, "You okay now?"

"Anytime. You still owe me that drink." Natasha tilts a bit of a grin, lowering her hands from the Doctor's shoulders and taking a step back. She nearly steps into Dominique, stopping herself at the last moment and tossing a, "Sorry." over her shoulder. Barely even a glance. Oh the irony. She looks to Mike and nods. "All safe. Got a sticker for my friend here? No more pinching today, I think."

Bruce nods, as the stickers he had in his hand were mashed. He smiles at Mike, then Natasha, "Yeah, I think pinching is a bad idea."

Mike gives a bit of smile at the response and pulls out the remainder of the roll of stickers, passing it over, "Here, that should be enough to last the day." He looks over to Bruce, "Glad you're feeling better."

Yeah, him and probably the rest of the city if they only knew what happened.

Dominique steps to the side with nary a thought as Natasha backs into her path, her own focus being three steps ahead where a small child is dashing about his parents and creating a bit of difficulty in moving for those near, should they wish to not trample the boy underfoot. She pays the sorry no mind, feeling disinclined to respond to it as she passes by. Oh if only they knew…

With the roll of stickers passed, this she gives to Bruce. Though one is taken off and stuck to his coat first. "There you are. People should leave you be now." And yes, she's blissfully unaware of Dominique's proximity. Damn the luck.

"Just to be sure, put some on his back and side as well." Mike adds in, giving a small smile, "Just in case some woman gets cheeky and decides to go for the backside."

Bruce chuckles softly, before turning to look at the people, "I'm gonna get that free book. If they still have them."

As Bruce turns away, Natasha shakes her head. "Take care." A glance is given to Mike with a brief smile. "Sorry for the interruption. Do take care." She steps to wade into the crowd unless someone stops her. If not, she'll just disappear and head on her way.

Mike holds up his acquired copy of 'The Portrait of Dorian Gray'. "They probably still do but if not, you can grab this one." He looks over to Natasha at her apology and nods, "You too."

Bruce heys, "Natasha, you okay? Really okay?" He moves to put a hand on her shoulder, festooned with green shamrock stickers

Feeling the weight of the hand, Natasha pauses, glancing at it and over her shoulder to its owner. "Nothing I can't handle." Her gaze flicks to Mike for a moment before returning to Bruce, lifting her bandaged hand to pat the Doctor's. "Don't worry about me, Bruce."

Bruce smiles a little, nodding to Natasha's comment, "Well, I do worry. However, you're a big girl, and if you can handle it, I won't bother you about it." His hand slips from Natasha's shoulder, before the doctor turns and goes over to see what they have in the way of books

~Fin~

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