Mrs. Pham Needs a Hand

Summary:
August 4th, 2014: Some teenage punks try to interrupt Steve, Simon, and Sam's stop at a Brooklyn Vietnamese restaurant. Guess how well that goes for them.

Brooklyn

One of the most famous of boroughs, Brooklyn is a cluster of small towns in a big town. When night falls in the good weather, in the more 'city' area, apartment stoops are pulled up and mothers chat with other mothers while the kids play in the streets under the block's watchful eye. Gossip abounds, and there is a spirit that seems to transcend all- when one grows up in Brooklyn, one is never truly far from home.

Traffic on the street is heavy at times, pedestrian traffic even moreso. There is a lot to see when one gets away from the residential areas. Stores of all ethnic variety serve their populations be it Russian or Ukranian, African American, Hispanic, Italian, Polish, or Orthodox or Ultra Orthodox Jew; whatever one wants, it's easily obtainable.


Characters

NPCs

  • Mrs. Pham, proprietor
  • Teenage punks, various
  • Fans, Simon's

Mood Music:


There's a little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant down in Brooklyn, owned by a former schoolmate's parents, that Sam grew up loving and hasn't been to in a while. With the extra long lunch hours allowed by his current idle lifestyle, it's no real trouble to drop in for a bite and to see how the Phams are doing. The food is just as good as he remembered, and he ends up leaving the place a bit late, having to greet every barely-remembered relative of theirs that Mr. and Mrs. Pham managed to snag while he ate.

As he leaves, Sam puts a nondescript backpack over both shoulders and starts adjusting the straps. It's anchored by a pretty complex harness for a cheap Jansport, and this takes his attention for a while, leaving him to be jostled considerably by the foot traffic on the sidewalk.

-

Simon is … back in NYC. He flew in (on a plane!) early this morning, after flying on his own power to LA, finding a police detective, being handed off to a District Attorney, and then handing evidence to the DA, getting his agent and his CPA arrested for embezzling and for conspiracy and for reckless endangerment and then, going on a weekend edition of the Later Than That show because he ran into the producer in the courthouse and they talked and THEN, after he got everything lined up and his accounts safely under lock and key (his) and unfortunately did NOT get to punch either of the two people who have been screwing with his life in his absence, he went to a party at Mickey Baye's place, picked up some swag to hand out at the New York comic stores, and hopped on a plane back.

Currently, Simon is an Actor Without Agent and Without CPA. But he's got a guy there working on it who was recommended by Foggy Nelson, who coincidentally was Simon's counsel of record in getting rid of the charges against him a few years back. So. Now he needs to go out to Long Island to find that bar owner and see if he'll give a deposition against the Blood Brothers so they can get that on the dockets. But the guy seems to have disappeared. Something about some guy named Kingpin? Oh well.

He's now getting off the bus… the BUS, yes, because mass transit is heroic and besides, he wants to lose that 'Hollywood' smell by being with people. In front of Sam Wilson.

"That's kind of a fancy hiking harness, you going to climb the Manhattan Alps?" he says to the guy.

-

There's a white slip of paper in Steve's hand as he checks the address again. Not too far. He's been back among the living, here in the future, for 8 months. For the first few things were such a shock to him it was hard to go out and live. Since, he's been trying to experience new things. Today: Vietnamese food.

"Sam? Been seeing you everywhere," he says as he catches sight of Sam yet again. This is his end of town, Sam. Promise he's not stalking you. "Who's your friend?" he asks with an upward nod.

-

Sam looks up just in time to spot Simon stetting off a bus. He just stares and blinks for a second, as it's not quite the mode of transportation he would have expected from the man.

"Simon. Seriously? You look like you just followed your dream to LA," he says with a lopsided grin. "You have GOT to get away from all these actor clich├ęs. It's getting embarrassing." He tugs at the straps on his pack — they're very secure. "And if you'd had your stuff jacked as often as I have, you'd invest in sturdier straps, too." Yeah, he totally prepared an excuse.

Steve's greeting prompts a broader smile and a casual salute. "Biggest small town in the world, right? Steve, this is Simon. Simon, Steve." Sure, they're both celebrities, sort of, but he's not going to bring that up. Instead, he points to the sheet in Steve's hand. "You looking for something?" he asks.

-

Simon looks at Cap, and breaks out in a big grin. "You survived! Awesome! I thought, that jerkwad Loki dude might've killed you before we got you out of that park. Man, that SHIELD lady can shoot. I'm a major fan. Almost got the part of you in Axis Fighters Four… that's a videogame."

He offers to shake hands with Cap.

-

"Videogame?" Steve shakes hands with Simon and gives him a nod. "It's a pleasure, Simon. If you're a friend of Sam's you're a friend of mine." He turns to Sam, "We keep running into each other. How you been?" He gives a nod towards the restaurant. "Was going to check out this Vietnamese restaurant. I hear it's pretty good. I saw a review for it on the online."

-

"On the internet. Or you just saw a review online," Sam corrects Steve without teasing him. He likes a joke as much as the next guy, but he's not going to pick on a time-displaced war hero for a little slip like that. "The Phams' place? New York keeps getting smaller. I know the owners. C'mon, I can get you the friends and family discount." He beckons both men into the restaurant with a sweep of his arm.

The door open with the jingle of a small bell, and Sam holds it open for the others. "Between you and me," he tells Simon quietly as the man passes, "the guys they get to voice Cap are always way too square-jawed stars-and-stripes anyway. He's not quite the cartoon people seem to think."

A small, wizened Vietnamese woman behind the counter looks a bit surprised to see Sam again so soon, until he explains, "I ran into some hungry friends of mine, Mrs. Pham. Table for three?"

-

Simon spots a five-year-old sitting with his parents, playing quietly with a rather beaten-up Superman doll. The father (apparently) is someone in mid-twenties wearing a Wonder Man Meets Wonder Woman tee-shirt. Simon cannot resist; he opens the zip on the duffel bag he's carrying and pulls out a McToy of Wonder Man, which goes on the table in front of the kid, and a blister-pack of the "Thorminator" character… which he puts on the table between the adults.

"Free stuff," he says, before sitting down with Sam and Steve.

"Really the best part of this job," he says.

-

Steve raises his eyebrows as Simon pulls out some action figures and can't help but chuckle. "Saw the review online, saw it on the internet. Got it." Steve has handled the transition okay, but will still say odd things now and again. He gives the woman behind the counter a smile and a nod. "Hello," Steve says to her. "Thank you."

-

"Don't think you can fool me, Sam," Mrs. Pham teases as leads them to a table and hands out menus, with each dish explained in both English and Vietnamese (recognizable latin letters adorned with a profusion of unfamiliar accent marks). "You just can't stay away from my husband's cooking." Before he can sit, she draws him in for a tight hug, the contrast between her spritely frame and his imposing stature creating a slightly silly image that his embarrassed expression does nothing to help. She releases him, turns, and winks at Simon and Steve. "And if you always bring such handsome friends, you can eat here just as often as you like."

And he thought he was embarrassed before. Once she has bustled away to get them water, Sam coughs and slouches into a seat. "Sorry about that. I went to school with her son." He lifts his eyebrows at Simon and glances over at the delighted kid at the next table. "Yeah, I imagine it's nice having people look up to you like that," he says with a smile. He's sort of teasing and sort of genuinely envious.

-

Simon is completely charmed by Mrs. Pham. He watches the kid play with the two toys, and is glad to see that his first response isn't to have them fight, but instead to join to attack the fearsome hot-sauce monster. Kind of like real life, in a food-related way.

"It's not bad but it's the dark side, man," Simon replies. "The whole 'lure of fame' thing, I've seen it eat a lot of actors. Sometimes they come through it. But when you meet them in person and figure out that there's nobody really there behind the act, that all they have is the drugs and then performing, it's hollow."

He looks through the menu and orders a large bowl of pho with everything and extra tendon, and devil dogs. Because everything is better with devil dogs.

-

Steve looks slightly embarassed at Mrs. Pham's mentioning of handsome friends and takes the menu as she makes her way out. "Did you grow up in this neighborhood Sam?" he says as he watches the epic fight against acid reflux between the Hot Sauce Monster and the Culinary Allies

-

"Nah, up in Harlem," Sam answers Steve. "The restaurant's down here, but they actually live uptown. Something to do with cost of living, I'm sure." Falcon is good with math, sure, but Manhattan's rent differentials are far too arcane for such a casual student. "You're Brooklyn born, though, right?" He almost forgets to add the question mark, but doesn't want to seem like too much of a fanboy.

"That does sound grim, Simon, but I don't know about the dark side," he says with a smile as Mrs. Pham scribbles down the actor's order. "It still seems pretty gray next to Latveria or something. But I guess there's definitely a temptation there." He orders a fizzy lemonade drink, protesting that he just ate, even though the proprietor seems unconvinced that there is any upper bound to the appetite of a man his size.

-

Simon tries to figure out the comparison between Acting and its fundamental unreality, and Latveria
and its allegedly benevolent absolute despot, and just can't make them connect. It's not that they
aren't both dark, it's that they aren't the same planet. Still. It lets him wait for Steve's reply
without being rude and interrupting until the answer comes, or does not.

"Is your friend still around?" he asks Sam. "I mean, did you keep in touch?" He knows a bit too well
about people who join the military and go overseas and don't return.

-

"Tony? Oh, yeah, he got some kind of crazy advanced degree and ran off to work for Bruce Wayne," Sam answers Simon with a grin. "Be sure not to ask that where Mrs. Pham can hear you, or you'll be stuck hearing about it for about a year. We sort of lost touch while I was overseas, but we've been chatting from time to time now that I'm back in the same time zone."

A group of about a half-dozen teenagers come into the restaurant and approach the counter. They're a grab bag from local communities, but one Asian kid with spiky hair makes his way to the front of the group and starts to talk to Mrs. Pham in rapid Vietnamese. The conversation isn't particularly loud, but it does seem a bit heated, judging by their facial expressions.

Sam doesn't seem to notice. "His name isn't actually Tony, though. It's something close, and people were always hearing it wrong, so about sixth grade he just switched instead of trying to explain it all the time."

-

Simon looks up at the teenagers, letting his glasses slip down his nose so he can peek at them with
thermal and that weird edge-sense vision that is probably x-rays but lacks the 'active scan' thing
the Kryptonian guys do. Of course the red-eye thing shows if they look in his direction.

He murmurs, "Is this something special?" as he watches.

-

"Bruce Wayne. He's the Gotham guy, right?" Steve asks as he looks over absently at the conversation.
Heated conversations happen a lot, so it doesn't immediately strike him as ood, but it's definitely
something to keep an eye on.

-

Simon's scanning of the teens' pockets will mostly reveal the usual: cell phones, keys, wallets, optimistic condom stashes. One of the bigger kids has a switchblade, but the rest are armed with nothing more than pepper spray. There are a couple of cans of spraypaint stuffed into hoodie pockets, several packs of cigarettes, and at least two suspicious baggies. The physical threat is minimal, although clearly there's at least some intent to commit petty crime.

"Yeah, Wayne's one of the richest guys in the—" Sam starts to answer, when Mrs. Pham interrupts him.

"Sam Wilson, make these boys leave my restaurant!" she barks angrily. "He's in the army," she tells the assembled teens, who turn to glare at him suspiciously.

"Air Force," he corrects automatically. "You kids really should leave. Mrs. Pham can get pretty scary when she needs to," he warns them, still trying to play this as a joke.

-

"Cellphone cellphone cellphone keys keys wallet wallet wallet wallet condom hah switchblade, spray - either breath or pepper, too small. Cigarettes, cigarettes, cigarettes, baggie of herbs, spraypaint, spraypaint, baggy of weed, … No guns. Probably not full-on gang yet," Simon murmurs, under Sam and Cap's conversation. He slides the glasses back up.

"Want to call the cops, or just talk to them?" He is willing to back Sam up physically; they're not going to hurt him, but this neighborhood, these kids, maybe not a good thing for the kids.

-

"I think we can handle this. No reason to sully these boys' records when a simple lesson will do," Steve reasons as he stands to his full height and begins to saunter over there behind Sam Wilson, doing his best to look imposing. Sam is Mr. Nice Guy, so Steve clearly is not and hopes he gets his message across and that the boys will run.

-

"Yeah, let's just get rid of them," Sam answers Simon quietly. "They're dumb punks, not master criminals."

He stands and heads over, giving them a look that is clearly unimpressed, if not necessarily unfriendly. "Seriously, other than serve the best banh mi in Brooklyn, what's she ever done to you?"

Most of the kids are looking ready to run. They weren't expecting opposition at all, and between Cap's bad cop impression and the sheer size of the group, they're now facing far worse than their worst case scenario. Ironically, the most scared-looking is the big kid with the knife. The Asian kid actually makes a move for the door when suddenly, a lanky black kid wearing a basketball jersey speaks up.

"I know you," he says, pointing an accusing finger at Sam. "You're Snap Wilson. You wanna act superior? Not like you never rolled an old lady."

Good guy Sam vanishes instantly. He grits his teeth and grabs the kid by the front of his jersey, pulling him in close. At this point, the rest of the teens completely lose it and bolt, causing the bell on the door to jangle wildly.

"Word of advice," Sam practically growls at the teenager. "Don't talk about shit you don't know about."

-

Simon moves very quickly. Between one second and the next, he's standing next to the kid who has the knife, one hand resting very lightly on his shoulder.

"You're a smart kid to know when to get running… Is that a comb or a switchblade?" he asks in a quiet, semi-friendly voice. The ruby-quartz sunglasses Simon usually wears are back on the table, so the red-glowing eyes are out in public, and he's put on the whole "hero stance" thing that makes him look imposing and not clumsy.

-

Cap stands behind Sam and folds his arms. He glowers at the young man, but makes no move to attempt to interfere in the interlude, nor chase down the kids. As far as he's concerned, is Mrs. Pham is happy, he'll be happy.

-

At the sudden sight of those glowing red eyes beside him, Simon's target nearly pees his pants. "Take it!" he blurts out. "I knew this was a stupid idea!" He digs in his pocket for the knife, tries to hand it over, and fumbles, letting it clatter to the floor. He doesn't even wait to see how Simon reacts, just turns and flees.

Sam relinquishes his grip on the kid he's holding after a second, knocking him away with a slight bump from the heels of his hands. The teenager gives him a last accusing look and then follows his friends, in less of a hurry than they were. The moment the kid is out of sight, it's as though some sort of ghostly weight has settled on Sam's shoulders. "Sorry about that, guys. Sorry, Mrs. Pham," he mumbles, returning to his seat in a sulk.

The family Simon played Santa for are watching, wide-eyed and clearly impressed. Mrs. Pham fusses over Steve and Simon, insisting that their meals will be on the house. Sam seems to be the only one who isn't happy with the resolution of the situation.

-

Simon accepts the on-the-house but man, the tip is gonna be huge. He's more concerned by Sam's reaction.

"You know why I came back to New York, Sam? I was doing community service. I did it even though I was cleared of the charges, because I needed to work it out of my system. What I did to my employees, my family, I was worse than a street kid acting out of frustration and anger. You can't let the memory of what you were get in the way of who you are now."

-

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. Steve wouldn't appreciate it if Sam delved into his past, and has no desire to do the same to him. In his mind, the past is the past. Steve Rogers is a Christian and believes in forgiveness. "Should we sit back down, guys?"

-

Way ahead of you, Steve. Disconsolate, Sam slouches back in his seat and slurps at his empty drink for several seconds, before finally determining that it's empty and setting it down in annoyance. "Yeah, Simon. I'm working on that," he finally answers, avoiding eye contact and fiddling with his crumpled-up straw wrapper. "Easier to do when there aren't people throwing it in your face, though." He glances up at both of the others. "Especially when I'm trying to make a good impression."

-

Simon sits down and puts his sunglasses in his pocket. "Yeah, you don't need to try to make a good impression with me, man. You're a hero. You saved lives when your own was at extreme risk by doing so. I'm a guy who f..ouled up, got lucky and survived, and got stuck with the easy button. I _have_ to use it to help people, or I have no excuse. You guys, though. You could have died and you went out there anyway, knowing that. I've only met two things since I woke up that I was afraid could really hurt me, and I lucked out dealing with them. Do not think you need to impress me. You already have."

-

Steve takes a seat and pulls up his menu once again, looking over it carefully. Again, he says nothing. He doens't feel he needs to. "What sort of things are good here, Sam?" he asks, trying to change the subject. Kids say stupid crap, that much is clear. Giving it any more credence seems like a waste to him.

-

Sam tries to shrug off the compliment, but does seem a bit mollified by Simon's kind words. When he finally stops compulsively futzing with the straw wrapper, he first addresses Steve's question. "The gateway drugs are banh mi, which is a sort of sub sandwich, and pho, which is a big serving of soup made with noodles and beef." He points out those areas on the menu, which are each full of their own options for different ingredients. "Then there are a bunch of noodle and rice dishes on the back."

He looks upward, thinking for a moment, and then leans forward. "I guess I want to make a good impression because I want to get in on it," he says quietly. "The whole…costumes and superpowers thing. I've fought for my country — maybe now I want to fight for my block, for my neighborhood, for my city." He tilts his head toward Cap. "Steve knows what I've got in the pack; I think it might just qualify me."

-

"Really? I'm not really a superhero, I mean, yeah, I got the codename and stuff. But that was publicity. I'm … I wouldn't mind being part of something real," Simon replies. "I mean, more than just oops, I was here and I can help, derpty doo. I'd like to know that I'm doing something more than just saving money for Mickey Baye and his buddies."

He looks at the menu, pointing out the different plates. "These are usually really good. Devil dogs are actually a sort of fried french bread stick, they go with the soup…"

-

Steve nods, "I think I'll go with the banh mi." He folds his menu and looks towards Sam. "Well, as often as you fly with my girl, I'm sure I'd be willing to fly with you once or twice. To be honest, things are kind of…unfulfilling at my day job. Doing something….more. Doing something more might be right up my alley." What Cap doesn't say is that somedays working at SHIELD is enough to make you want to shower with steel wool.

-

"Hey, thanks, Steve!" Sam says. "You don't owe me a thing for helping Sara out, but I'd be honored to work with you." He glances over at Simon. "At first I was just thinking about dealing with problems in Manhattan as they popped up. I mean, we've got demons, witchcraft, whatever craziness is going on with that flying submarine — but if we could pool our resources, get proactive, maybe we could deal with some of these guys ahead of time rather than just waiting for them to show their faces." As Mrs. Pham comes over to serve the table, Sam is looking really encouraged by the positive response, almost like he's forgotten about the awkward encounter with his past. "We could really make this something worthwhile…"


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