Standing Up

Summary:
May 25, 2014: Sara and Slade have some different opinions on bullying…to a point.

Midtown Manhattan - New York City

Situated between 14th and 59th Streets, Midtown Manhattan is *the* tourist
destination in New York City. It is also the largest central business
district in America. Most of the tallest skyscrapers in the city can be found
here, from the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings to Stark Tower and the
Baxter Building. It's also home to Times Square, Broadway, and Fifth Avenue.

In the day, the traffic is non-stop. In the evening, bright neon lights light
up the street such that it looks as if the sun simply doesn't set on the
city. But, then, there's a reason New York is called The City that Never
Sleeps. This, right here, is it.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:


Midtown is a bustle today, because… well because it's Midtown and really it's never very dull. Ever. Slade stands next to a food truck eating some sort of edible and completely unhealthy fair that half a century ago would have caused him an instant reprimand and forced KP for having had the gall to eat. Today he doesn't care. Nothing in the- he checks to see what it is- taco could cause him real harm. He ignores his taste buds, the enhanced senses of his not always a boon, and washes the flavor of the taco away with fresh ground organic coffee… which he does pause to enjoy. His eye is fixed on a point down an alley across the street, watching as a group of four larger children beat the crap out of a smaller one.

He's dressed as a respectable vet who's not let his body to go waste might be. A very nice suit with a t-shirt underneath instead of shirt and tie. The modern look clashed with his face. It's hard to read his age, very hard, the full head of white hair and the white goatee make him seem old, but his face, while carrying the determination and weather of a tough life, isn't greatly lined. Just deeply lined. When people say 'distinguished' this is the sort of man they mean, and only in the best ways. He has aged well. He's really /very/ large, standing head and shoulders taller then most and with shoulders like a football player he tends to stand out in a crowd, enough so that even in NYC people tend to flow around him without jostling him. The eye patch more then the rest of it, makes him stand out even in New York.

Sara Pezzini has had…an interesting day so far. The sort of day to make the detective have to spend some time thinking about things. And rather than think about them in her office, or think about them sitting alone at home, she's hit the streets to walk and think. Hands in her pockets and head ducked, she seems to be paying more attention to the sidewalk than to where she's walking, which is certainly the only possible explanation for how she manages to bump her shoulder into the very large, very hard to miss man on the sidewalk.

"Shit!" she curses, spinning around with a wince. "Watch where-" And then she sees him, and winces again, sheepish. "Yeah, so that one was probably me."

Slade doesn't look down, "It's okay. I didn't see you there either." he reaches up to tap the eye patch covering the eye on the side of him she bumped into. He turns just enough that she can see the pale ice blue eye focus on her with an intensity that's down right uncomfortable. It's not like Jason's eyes, which literally see Sara to her soul, that's a different sort of thing, more invasive but less intimate. This man's gaze is far more intimate but less invasive. He's sizing her up, the way his gaze leaps about her in a rapid fluid way, and then comes to a decision all in less then the span of a heartbeat. A less trained person wouldn't even have noticed what happened, "Think nothing of it officer. I won't report you for excessive force," he pauses to sip at his coffee, "you'll have to hit harder for that." his voice is deep, rumbling, and there's gravel at it's edge. In short, it's exactly what one would expect from him, vaugely intimidating, rather fetching, hard to read.

"Wouldn't be the first time," Sara says ruefully, head tilting slightly when she catches the tail end of that look. "Sorry," she offers after a moment. "Weird day. I'd offer to buy you a coffee to make up for it, but it looks like you've got that covered." Pushing up her sleeves, she steps back, though this time she looks over her shoulder to make sure she doesn't bump into anyone else in the process. "I'll just-" And then she catches sight of the kids in the alley, grimacing. "Excuse me."

Slade raises the hand holding the taco, "Hold." he says softly to her. There are those people in the world who carry authority like a mantle, a coat that when worn fits them so well that people obey without thinking about it, they see the mantle, they respond. This man is not one of those people. He doesn't wear the coat at all. Apparently at some point he ate the damned thing, because it's not the sort of thing he puts on and casts aside, it's like he's made of it as though it were part of his being. Captains in the NYPD would give teeth to have half the command in their entire shouting fits then was conveyed in that single word, "Give in a minute." he says, "The light will turn red in fifteen seconds, that'll allow a break in the traffic for us to cross without being hit by one of the drivers undoubtedly texting and driving." gives and order, and explains it. If his size, bareing, and eye patch weren't enough, everything else just marked him as a vet, the kind who seen real action. "Coffee while we wait? I'm sure Enrico can pour you a cup in twelve seconds." that last part was conversational and light and unlike the rest of his speech.

Sara is not known for taking orders well. In her old precinct, Sara was actually known for being in the Captain's office yelling at him. So while the first word doesn't do much to catch her attention, the explanation is enough to get her to pause, arching a brow at Slade. "No sense in rushing good coffee," she replies, a faint smile touching one corner of her lips. "Coffee'll still be here when I get back."

Slade nods his head, "Agreed." he says, "But if you leave now, I won't be. And won't that be the shame of the day?" he sips from his coffee again and continues to watch the fight in the alley across the street, "What do you see?" he asks, nodding at the knot of children now kicking and hitting the downed child occasionally while yelling insults in their high pitched voices. If that sound doesn't bring back school yard memories, then nothing will.

"Sounds like your loss," Sara says easily, rolling her sleeves up more precisely and tucking her shirt in enough to make sure the badge at her belt is clear. "Bullies," she answers his question. "Kids being kids, who if no one corrects them are going to grow up to learn you get what you want by taking it from people who aren't strong enough to protect themselves." She watches the timer on the crosswalk across the street, glancing back to Slade. "Though you don't look like the sort who had to deal with bullies much."

Slade tosses the taco into the trash can before them, "You're looking at the wrong lesson and making assumptions. I would have though a detective would know better." and then he's gone. He's quick, got to give him that. The taco is still sailing into the trashcan in front of Sara as the traffic itself is /just/ starting to slow as the light changes. He wasn't watching the timer, apparently he had the count in his head. Hessitation also not his thing. He's half way across the street before the cars even come to a real stop, he doesn't even glance at them as he walks, paying them as much mind as he did the pedestrians walking around him on the sidewalk only moments ago, "Coming?" he asks.

"Didn't realize we were having a lesson," Sara snorts in return, but she can't quite help herself from speeding up her steps competitively when he moves out into the traffic first. There might even be a little bit of a challenge in the look she shoots him as she starts moving across the street. "Didn't ask for help, either," might be muttered under her breath. Maybe. Hard to tell over all the engines and car horns, right?

Slade's answer is immediate, "Everything is a lesson, learn them or don't it's up to you, but as one of the 'protectors'," the word almost has quotations audibly placed around it, "I would assume you'd understand your place is not only to learn them, but to teach them to others." he reaches the alley and turns to eye her with a hard look, "Neither did I, but you insinuated yourself into the situation despite that. I'm allowing you to remain in it because I'm curious, it's a failing of mine." and then without taking his eyes from Sara, there's an ear peircing whistle that slips past his lips and puts an instant end to the childlike yammering in the alleyway. He turns back to face the kids who're now staring up at him. "There." he says, pointing towards the wall of the alley. Unlike Sara, they hear the authority and respond, instantly lining up at the wall with wide eyes. Their ages range from prolly 12 to 14, the little girl on the ground must be at the younger end of that spectrum, and Slade moves over to her and takes a knee at her side. She's sobbing, curled up into a little ball, dirt and marks on her, but she doesn't appear to be hurt, not seriously anyway. "Stop." he says to her, his word hard, but his tone soft. The girl manages a peek at him through her defensivly curled arms and sniffles a couple of times, small choking sounds slipping past her suddenly compressed lips. Sobs swallowed down, "Good." he says, offering a smile and his hand.

"You allow-" There's a moment where Slade just might get punched, and it actually has absolutely nothing to do with the Witchblade, which sits quietly at Sara's wrist. But there's nothing to be gained from getting into it with Slade in front of a bunch of kids she's trying to stop from fighting, so while he goes to the girl on the ground, she looks to the kids at the wall, grimacing. Though it's entirely possible that they're just getting a share of what she'd prefer to be giving Slade at the moment. "So who wants to talk first?" she asks, crossing her arms over her chest, jacket shifting enough to show her badge.

The kids eye her, then the badge, one of sniffles and shrinks, two freeze, and one hardens up at the edges, eyes narrowing. "What's it to you?" he asks. He's not the largest, but he's obviously the toughest, his little hands already have scarred knuckles.

Slade pulls the girl up to a sitting possition and talks with her quietly, "I don't care why they were beating you, no one really does. The lady behind me? She'll make a big fuss about the why, it's part of her job, to know and understand the why's of things. But you and me," he points at the girl's chest and then his own, "we both know the truth don't we?" the little girl just stares at him, wide eyed and gnawing her bottom lip, "Why doesn't matter. Not really. It's helpful, sure, maybe it'll tell you what not to do the next time this group comes around, if you know why they did this, then maybe you can keep them from doing it again." the little girl nods sightly in agreement, "But there's always another one just like them, isn't there?" the girl looks away and sniffs, nodding a second time, "So why, while nice, isn't as important. Because the truth is, they're not the problem, are they?" the girl shrinks a little into herself, "What is?" he asks, his tone is soft, but firm. She sobs once, twice, then swallows and offers a small "me." to which Slade nods. "And that's the truth." he says, reaching up to wipe a tear off of her cheek with his thumb, "So now we've identified the problem, do you know what comes next?" he asks. She shakes her head. "We fix it." and he grins at her, "And there's no problem we can't fix if we don't accept failure, is there?" she offers a small tenative smile back. "Atta girl."

Sara smiles at the kid who speaks up, but it isn't a pretty smile. "Kid, who wants to talk first is nothing to me. Who wants to pick on little girls is more of an issue. Come on." She looks down the line, weighing the reactions. "You know better," she says to the one who sniffled. "So you're the first one who should've said something. Not now, when I'm standing here. Ten minutes ago, when someone, probably this jackass-" she points a thumb toward the kid who did speak, "Decided it would be fun to rough up a little girl. You two…" She trails off, giving the other two a good, hard look. "You two know better, too. But you made a worse decision. This one didn't stand up to him because he's afraid. You didn't because you thought you'd get more out of going along. Bad choice, guys. Bad choice."

The Talker grins at her, "Yeah, right. Horrible choice." his sarcasim is thick. "What are you going to do about it?" he asks again, his arms crossing over his chest. "Arrest us? We're minors. Can't do shit pig." brave little bastard ain't he? "And what happens when one of them talks? You think you're going to be here? All the time? In our neighborhood?" he grins wider. "You got it wrong piggy, they all did it because they're afraid. And they should be." he shoots a look down the line and all three of the other kids stiffen as if struck and then seem to find spines and stare back at Sara. Not bravely so much as because they lack other options.

Slade nods to the little girl, "Now, do you want to fix the problem, or do you want someone else to fix it for you? Because she can make it go away… for awhile." he gestures to Sara, "For a time. But then it'll come back and you'll need someone else to fix it again. And again. And again." the girl's eyes go wide and she looks from the four kids against the walls, to Sara, to Slade… and she sets her jaw and shakes her head viciously. Slade smirks, "I didn't think so. So we know the problem is you, they see you as weak, they're wrong but that's how they see you. So we need to change that." he holds up a finger, "You should know that this is not an easy fix, it will take hard work, dedication, strength from here," he pokes her lightly in the chest, "and here," in the forehead, "more then here." he reaches over to wiggle her arm. She grins a little at that. "So, this is a number where you can find someone who will help you fix the problem forever. Tell him I sent you, if he yells or does anything about it, you describe me to him." he reaches up to tap the eye patch, "and he'll help you. But for today…" he leans in and starts to whisper to the girl.

Sara takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Well, kid, I'd deal with you the way I deal with the grown up gang bangers, but I doubt your balls've dropped far enough to get twisted," she drawls, opening her eyes and looking down the line again. "Let me tell you all a secret." She turns to the others, catching and holding a gaze when she can. "Guys like these? They're not as scary as they think they are. They're not as scary as they want to be. That's why they try so hard. And the real secret there? They have exactly as much power as you're willing to give them. Not an ounce more. So you can take orders from Chachi here. That's your choice. You can make yourselves small. You can live in fear. You can take orders from someone whose number one concern is always going to be what gets him off. Or you can stand up and learn to be men. Real men. Because little shits like this?" She points a thumb toward the leader, shaking her head. "No matter how strong he tells you he is, no matter what he has, it's not more than all three of you, together, have. And it's never going to be. Right now you think you're protecting yourselves by doing what he says. But what about when it's your sister? Your mother? Don't settle for being lackeys because you're afraid. Be leaders. Real leaders. The kind who are brave enough to stand up for what they know is right."

The two boys and the girl that make up the trio of hooligans all eye her, then him, then her again. They seem uncertain. A speech in an alleyway is hard pressed to carry the same weight of a thousand cruelties piled upon the balance over weeks and months and years. They fidget a bit, moved, but unsure, "Listen to the piggy, she knows all about it doesn't she? Being a bully. Ain't no one bully better then the police, and how could they? Got the sticks, got the guns, walk around puffed up and preaching, but where they go when shit goes down? She gonna be there to keep you safe from me? From my brother? From the crew? The three of you gonna suddenly grow a pair and be some little pussies? Piggy's little junior cops?" he grins wide at them and they all look away, "Yeah. Brave talk come from a cop who's gonna go home night after night after night and won't be here when shit gets real. Why? Cause she'll be off givin' the same speech to someone else just like you, promising how you can make the street better. Ain't not better 'cept through the Game. You all know th-" his words are interupted by a high pitched scream that's nearly at glass breaking decibles and a small girl in pink comes flying at the Talker in the middle of his sentence. Her knee catches him right in the groin as her shoulder hits him in the chest and bounces his head off of the brick wall he was leaning against. The boy goes down groaning and trying to curl up into a ball while the girl falls upon him with closed fists, her arms hammering at him as she screams like a banshee.

Slade is there, between the two children and the rest of the group, though his eyes are on Sara, "Let it go." he says before her cop instinct to stop a fight kicks in. And he then eyes the remaining three, "Stay. Watch. Learn. But make sure you learn the right lesson, if you want to know what it is…" he looks back as the boy manages to buck the girl off of him and start to climb to his feet, wobbly, but with fight left in him, "ask her. She'll tell you." he then eyes Sara, "We should go. This'll work itself out, either when you're here or when you're not, best it should do so when our advice is still fresh and before someone has a chance to poison it to much." his tone is a suggestion and not an order this time, he's letting her choose the course of action. And his eye is appraising as he stares down at her. He did mention before he was curious and suddenly all his words about everything being a lesson echo softly in the air…

Sara looks like she might, regretfully, have to make a point. There's a moment where a tendril of something bright and metallic curls around her right index finger. But then there's a screaming ball of angry girl, and Sara watches blandly, considering. "Nope," she says after a moment when Slade tries to warn her off. "I figure he had his chance. Take notes," she echoes Slade, tipping her head between the other kids and the pair going back to the fight before turning to start back across the street. "Probably going to be a test later."

Slade's head bobs once in an almost imperceptible nod of approval as he turns to watch the two combatants clash together again, the girl screaming as she does. He smirks and turns to follow Sara, "She's going to lose the fight. She's still hurt, doesn't know how to compensate, she's brave and has fire, but no skill. He's made of iron, seen things boys shouldn't see at his age. It's not courage but stupidity, he doesn't know when to go down, so he'll stay up." he says, judging the entire scene without looking back, "He would have made a good soldier." he grins over at Sara, "She would have made a great one." he nods his approval again, "I'm glade to see I was right about you Detective."

"Depends on if the others see their chance," Sara counters, though she resolutely doesn't look back. "Neighborhoods don't change until the people living there decide they're not going to put up with it anymore. That means taking risks. We can't do everything for them unless they're willing to do a little something for themselves, too." She reaches up to tuck her hair behind her ear, giving him a searching look. "Military, then?"

Slade smiles idely at that, "Neighborhoods don't change anything but places. If you cure this one then the disenfranchised will merely be pushed out by richer, better off folk, they'll move to another, begin the cycle again." he eyes her, "You continue to aim to high. The neighborhood comes and goes as it will. But the girl?" he nods once firmly, "She knows the truth now, and from here on out it's up to her to see it through." then he nods, "United States Army." he says, "Colonel, retired." he pauses back where they started, standing next to the food truck and he looks down at Sara and grins, "You really should have the coffee here Detective, it's organic and Enrico roasts a very nice bean." he gestures to the truck, and when she turns to glance at it and back again again, he's gone. Just… poof. Vanished. Which is an impressive trick for a man of his rather substantial size. Show off.

"You're never going to get rid of the light and the darkness, Colonel," Sara says with a faint, tired smile. "But if you're lucky, you can find a better balance." She looks toward the coffee cart, already shaking her head. "Long day. Things to think about. But thanks for the-" She turns, and Slade is gone. "Story of your life, Sara. Story of your life," she murmurs to herself, sticking her hands in her pockets and starting back down the street.


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