5170/Flashback: Holiday Consumerism

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Flashback: Holiday Consumerism
Date of Scene: 14 February 2021
Location: Union Square Park
Synopsis: Back before the holidays, Cassie and Toni catch up on a shopping trip. Mild crime and even milder crimefighting ensues, and Toni is convinced to swing by Titans Tower for food, friendship, and IT support.
Cast of Characters: Cassie Sandsmark, Toni Monetti

Cassie Sandsmark has posed:
The Union Square Park holiday market is a yearly tradition, bringing hordes of seasonal shoppers to the already popular location in the heart of downtown Manhattan. The bottom half of the park is filled with pop-up stores, their little shacks, tents, and quickly-fabricated huts arranged in concentric rows radiating from a statue at the center of the normally open plaza. Their offerings are unique and eclectic, a mix of crafts fair and flea market vibe with temporary outlets for boutique shops from around the city. Jewelry, clothing, fancy soaps, art and souvenir style knicknacks are plentiful. Brooklyn hipsters are well-represented, selling artisinal snacks.

Surrounding the park, there's a variety of large buildings with bigger stores. Which allows the pair of young women to take a tour through Nordstrom Rack before heading into the park. It's a compromise: a brand name store acceptable to Toni, but their discount outlet means Cassie has the tinniest chance of being able to afford things there! She ends up buying a new puffy winter jacket, before they make their way across the treet toward the maze of little shops.

Toni Monetti has posed:
Earlier: "Oh my GOD look at this, this is so cute," says Toni as she holds up a French-striped crop top she had just fished out of a clearance bin. ("I like to check these even if it's a little nasty since you can get really rare stuff that way? Like they forgot something in the back and plop, it goes in here.")

But that was then, and this is now. And now Toni has a Nordstrom bag slung rakishly over one shoulder as her other hand goes on her hips, gazing forwards, towards the park. Toni has a dark wool beret on, along with a M.M. original checkerboard-patterned coat and black leggings, against the inevitable chill and slush. (Since they're doing a lot of walking, she also went with ankle boots instead of anything with a heel.) As they cross the street, Toni remarks, "Do you have a flyer or somethin', Cassie? This place looks, uh, semi-sketchy."

Cassie Sandsmark has posed:
"A flyer? For what? This place is like super famous. It's here every year." Once they've made it across (in the middle of the block, dodging any cars as necessary, like proper city people), she spreads her arms to indicate the vast sprawl of temporary buildings. Looking down the rows, they are a little claustrophobic and maze-like, and very crowded, which could validate that 'sketchy' feeling somewhat, although Cassie doesn't seem worried. "Sketchy? Its the middle of Manhattan. Its fine. What are the hipsters gonna do, accost us with their well-maintained facial hair?" The blonde is all bright grins, utterly at ease with the bustle of things, and picks a row for them to head down, possibly at random.

"Its a super handy place for finding like, little gifts when you need a lot of those for people?" she explains, walking a bit more. "You don't have to spend too much, but its all still kind of handcrafty and artistic, so it doesn't feel like you're being cheap!" Perhaps none of these are concerns for Toni, anyway.

With her new coat in her bag, her outfit is way less stylish: a front-zip hoodie jacket over one of her branded hero shirts, a black skirt with matching thermal tights worn underneath, and sneakers. She is so not high fashion.

Toni Monetti has posed:
Oh no, Toni thinks. But I'd never really heard of it. (For some people this would be a point to muse in wonder at the incredible diversity of the living city. For Toni 'nineteen years old' Monetti it is a moment to go, oh no: /am I lame?/) Externally, her lips, which have a frost-queen light blue gloss on them right now, purse, and she says: "Well, yeah, obv. They do all kinds of stuff in Brooklyn. If you aren't careful they'll like, microbrew you." But then they're turning down an aisle, and Toni says, "It is pretty... uh... /unique/."

As they pass a rack of custom jewelry, Toni stops and is momentarily entranced by a long purple spike-fang-thing of an earring. "... ok this is good." Forty-six dollars later, it goes into a little bag and into the larger bag and they continue forwards. "At least they have Square."

"So who are you shopping foooooooor," Toni asks, three stalls down, eyes turning slightly upwards as her lips part, expression strongly implying this is a slightly prurient take on the question.

Cassie Sandsmark has posed:
"Isn't it great?" 'Unique' may have some different values, here. "Oh yeah, most of the places take it now now. This isn't like one of those weekend fleamarkets where you're haggling with some old dude with one eye." Whether Cassie has ever actually had such an experience or is merely making something up that sounds appropriately 'sketch' is hard to say, but smart money might bet -against- her vast diversity of life experience. She may only beat Toni by the fact that Toni is from New Jersey.

As for her shopping list, Cassie gives a sigh, as it quickly turns from the excitement of bringing gifts of joy to one's friends and loved ones to an actual mental inventory of the list of people she needs things for. "Well... Di's hard to shop for, I want to get her something really nice but like, how do you impress someone who's centuries old and works in an art museum? Donna at least kinda 'gets' normal stuff a bit more, and the rest of the Amazons I can get modern gadgets and 'trinkets of man's world' and they'll be impressed because it's all new to them." She has moved on to another jewelry store, where they apparently laminate flowers and leaves to make... well, not -living- accessories, but ones that suggest natural beauty.

"And then there's the embassy staff... Ferdinand I'll probably get something food-y. Then there's a couple of my friends from school, all of the Titans, Outsiders..."

This is why she makes it sound like a chore!

Toni Monetti has posed:
Toni is given a challenge, though she does not reveal it such right away. She raises one hand to rest her gloved fingers to cover her mouth for a moment, nodding slightly as Cassie rattles off the list. ("Ferdinand?" she asks, parenthetically.)

"So I'm gonna take one thing off your list," Toni says as she reaches into her coat pocket which seems to be serving purse/card duty and rummages around, coming up dry and asking the leaf-laminator, "Hey, do you have a piece of paper? I'm gonna get something I just need the paper like, right now. - Thanks. Wow, is this recycled? okay and like a pen -"

Toni writes down her first name, with a little heart for the dot on the eye, along with what Cassie knows is her cell number. She then raises the paper up, folds it a little, and presses it to her lips, eyes closing. After two seconds, to let the lip gloss saturate the paper, she brings it out, and then hands it over: "So now you're good for ONE OF EM, right?"

"Also, can she like eat regular food? Because that is /totally/ the pro move there, something you can eat. Unless it'd go to her butt," Toni says, "because then, obv, tea or coffee or something."

Cassie Sandsmark has posed:
"Oh, he's the Embassy chef. He's really amazing." And since they are kind of wandering around in a crowd, she drops into a smaller voice to say the next part: "And uh, a kithotaur, which is like a minotaur but uh, from Kithira not Minos." Its one thing blabbing on about Wonder Woman and the Amazons, who are in the news. Ferdinand isn't exactly a secret, but you don't wanna freak the normies casually blathering on about giant beastmen.

The procedure Toni goes through next looks like it has Cassie a little baffled. She suspects at first that the other young woman is ordering some kind of customized gift, and maybe, technically, that is ultimately what she gets. However, the 'mwah!' that the paper gets leaves her staring and blinking a little, which continues right through the point where she's left holding the paper, number, lipstick and all. "Uh, thanks. I uh-" She is familiar with some of Toni's crushes, thinks about it a moment, and then ultimately gives up any more complicated argument. "I'll make sure he gets it, sure it'll brighten his day."

She ambles to the next nearest shop, which has some various knitted things, and here stocks up a bit because various scarves, socks, hats, and other woolen winter finery can make some good gifts of the more generic variety. "She... yeah she eats regular food. Well, she eats Ferdinand's food. I'm not sure these hipsters can compete."

Toni Monetti has posed:
"Oh that must come up a lot," Toni says as she learns something today, whether she liked it or not. She also winks at Cassie, probably a second hand thing to also pass on, regarding the extremely appropriate note, and after a pause gets a necklace of some kind - looks like laurel leaves? - which also goes into the bag before she has to trot a moment and get briefly separated by someone with a Thor-grade beard from Cassie.

Only briefly. "It's not like the QUALITY, it's the whole, like, sentiment. I don't know if you ever got like Christmas cookies from your nonna or anything? But like, it can't be BAD, because then it's really awkward, BUT," and here Toni claps her hands together, "if it's not BAD, then it's AWESOME, because it was totally a heartfelt gift. -- Is this neon-pink yarn?? OMigod. I think that scarf has the, like, pixel... thing on it, do you know gamers? Get them that one."

Cassie Sandsmark has posed:
"Heh, I kind of have to give the whole spiel every time, because I don't really know a better way of explaining it. Like if I say 'kithotaur' they're just gonna say 'huh, what's that?' And calling him the wrong one, it feels like that would be sort of... tauric racism or whatever?" That may or may not really be a thing, or that big of a concern, given how many bull-headed men there truly are running around the world these days. Then again, the Amazons live some strange lives. And Cassie is a modern progressive person, she's not gonna misidentify her mythic companions!

"But doesn't your nonna," a word Cassie knows, but would not apply in her own life! "Make those herself? Just buying something here kinda feels like it wouldn't be the same. And I'm terrible at baking. Caitlin does all the cooking at the Tower." Ultimately, there's a lot of hemming and hawing and excuse-making when it comes to gifts for Diana, and its likely to continue even as they browse through a collection of shops. Obviously, this is a decision she's agonizing over, and it's no real surprise: Cassie is a huge fangirl, even though the two of them are essentially family now. So she switches to another, easier topic:

"Ooh yeah, gamer stuff is great for Bart, or Gar, Vic- a ton of them play games, honestly. We've got a real killer setup in the tower." And referring to it with such glee and affection may suggest that Cassie is not free of this nerdy hobbydom herself!

Toni Monetti has posed:
"Yeah like I would have figured that meant he was like part kith and I don't know what that is unless it's saying KISS with," Toni says, pausing for half a second to probably amend a really saucy analogy, "a new tongue piercing or something? Like I haven't seen any kind of... Taur-American person, ever...? If it wasn't, you know, Themiscrya I'd be like, yeah sure, but I guess, hey, right? Hey?" That means Toni ran out of words, but didn't want to stop talking!

"Hah! Maybe some time, but my nonna lived in Florida," Toni says, "so I'm prrrretty sure it was always mail order." After this, the question of Gamer Scarves is still on the table... as is the question of gaming itself. "Oh yeah? Did you get the new one? The... five? It's a five, right? Or is it still on four." As she asks this, Toni collects a card and glances at it, before tucking it away.

"I think I'm getting the vibe here now," Toni continues. "This is pretty HEY! HEY, ASSHOLE! HEY! - this is pretty nice, actually. You're right, it's totally not a flea market kinda thing."

Cassie Sandsmark has posed:
"No, he has a nose ring, though." Because of course he does.

"I think he's probably the only one in the US, maybe even further... Well, at least the only one -normally-," she ammends. "Like, living here full time like a normal beast-man-person and not summoned up or transformed out of nowhere to go on a rampage." Cassie never wants to rule out the possibility of some divine shenanigans and there suddenly being beast men rampaging up and down fifth avenue until Diana shows up to rope them home. "Circe likes doing that," Cassie asserts, in a tone that suggests her being quite an expert in such Greek mythology-themed shenanigans.

However, it's when Toni attempts her gamer impersonation that Cassie stops short, and turns around with folded arms, apparently to finally call out some of her (vast assortment of) shit: "Ugh. Tell me you're not gonna turn into one of these pretend nerd girls who does on twitch but just uses it to advertise her cam site, right? Makes it hard for the rest of us!" And then, with a huff, she goes on to explain: "If you must know, we've been playing Witch Slayer 4, Space Event 3, and also a few party games." Cassie is definitely a closet nerd hiding in a generic cheerleader-looking facade!

However, any friction over gaming habbits is quickly forgotten as they drift on toward the next row of shops, Cassie somehow able to tune out most of Toni's clashes with the locals like it wasn't even a thing. "When we're done shopping, there's like a main food area in the middle, not like, gift food but like, hot food to eat now food."

Toni Monetti has posed:
"I thought about getting one of those but I kind of forgot," Toni says, about the nose ring.

Her lips purse back and forth as mythology threatens to come to life in the story of Circe's actions. Does she mean historically? Like, lately? Does she want to know? Then fortunately stuff comes round to the question of /gaming/. "Uh, /no/, I just don't hang out with people who play much so I don't? It's like, you don't hang out with football fans and you don't know who's in the super bowl or something! God." It is not a very forceful invocation of God.

"That sounds good," Toni agrees. ("Do they card you?") As she says this, she reaches into her opposite coat pocket, and seems to be troubled by something which she finds - or does not find. She turns her head around to look behind herself, brow knitting. "... I like, totally blanked, did I take my phone out back there? At the gamer scarf one?"

Cassie Sandsmark has posed:
"Well I think if you start coming by the tower, you won't have that excuse to rely on for much longer," Cassie points out. No hiding from the gaming nerds there. "By the way, I was thinking of swinging by after this. You know, maybe try on some of haul and relax a bit."

While this idea floats, she approaches the sort of food court at the center of the plaza. There are great varieties of offerings, from dressed up classics (burgers with exciting names and toppings, 'loaded' fries with all kinds of stuff on them), to regional cuisines, to avenues more adventurous. The drinks include coffee and espresso in all its usual variations, hot cider, hot chocolate (with artisinal twists like combined chili or tea flavors), and of course a few microbrew brands, although on this topic Cassie's answer is a little more regretable: "They're usually pretty strict, yeah, 'cause like... middle of the city in open view." It is about as far from a discrete venue as possible. "Wanna just get a cider or coffee or something?"

However, this plan halts mid... plan as Toni starts looking for your phone. "Wait, did you lose it?" Her level of concern looks appropriate to the lofty importance of such a device. Then her gaze starts snapping from person to person. "Oh shit- Did that beardy dude bump into you before?"

Toni Monetti has posed:
"Well, I mean, like," Toni dithers. This is dithering that has come up before. Her arms fold for a moment. "I mean sometimes I guess. It's not like you can just get on the train." A pause. "Right? Like did that change? I heard they were building some kinda cable car thing. But..."

FOOD AND DRINK. "Oh," Toni says, on the topic of beverages. Then, "Yeah, uh, but FIRST, because, if I didn't LEAVE it at that place, then THAT means it is either on the floor and I hope you spotted it and I was kIND of hoping that would be like you caught it and you were going to be super slick about it cuz I'm not miss detective but if it's not there, and it's not on the ground, /or/ in my pocket, /that guy probably took it./"

For some reason a guy in a nondescript coat with a big beard starts shoving his way past people on his way to the exit. ("Is that him? Did he hear me? Am I that loud?" asks Toni, all of the questions rhetorical. Then, "Ugh-- /he actually has my phone and my credit card/!")

Cassie Sandsmark has posed:
There are definitely some topics that Cassie wants to put a pin in here: trains? Cable cars? Is she worried about the physical transportation to the Tower? Or are these weird excuses? But at the moment...

"Right." That interjection comes somewhere in the middle of Toni's typically motor-mouthed narration, not even letting her get to the end before she reaches her conclusion. Cassie, while bright and bubbly, is not totally naive, and has enough exposure to the 'mean streets' of New York, Metropolis AND Gotham (those are kinda next level) that she comes to her conclusions about this pretty quick. Phones are important, and most people her age don't just randomly lose track of them while actively shopping and also being bumped into by dudes.

However, Cassie is not really super tall so in the crowds it might be a little hard to see him getting away.

However #2, Cassie works at the embassy with Diana doing, you know, things in front of TV cameras. So she's not really big on the secret identity any more. And thus she rather casually shoots up just high enough to where she can get a view of the crowd around them. From that vantage, the dude moving purposefully away, all hasty and shoving by people, stands out pretty easily.

She skims the crowd, and lands in front of him, prompting some onlookers to immediately pull out their phones for pictures. "Two options, my dude. Numero uno: Hand it over and sit down quietly while someone finds a cop. Or numero 'owwie,' which is punching and emasculation as you get your ass handed to you by a teenage girl." She's doubtlessly a head shorter than him, but has the confidence of one of those small, ferocious dogs as she stands there in his way.

Toni Monetti has posed:
The answer to that question is complex and subtle, except: it isn't. Weird excuses, all the way!

Cassie is moving forwards and Toni briefly dithers for a moment. Her hands clench for an instant but then she glances over at other people standing near her and reconsiders a plan to do the sled trick (as she has come to understand them). After several long seconds, she moves... approximately after Cassie. ("get out of my WAY that guy took my PHONE")

The guy with the bad beard - which involves absolutely nothing other than the goatee (fully developed) and a jaw-rimming fringe, mostly red with a little white, heavily waxed - stares dead on towards the arrival of someone leaping close towards him. "Uh," he says. "Uh. H-hey, uh - uh, I just -" He raises his hands up above his head. "Left pocket, just, uh. Ohgod. Don't hit me, I have, like, an allergy, please."

At this point Toni makes it through the people, coming up behind the guy with one hand raised up. It is obvious she is about to smack him in the back of the head, which would probably be richly deserved, but (perhaps due to Cassie's presence, or some inner consciousness) she hesitates. "Prick," she concludes. "Left pocket, just get it," says Mr. Beard.

Cassie Sandsmark has posed:
Is it bad that Cassie almost certainly wanted him to give her an excuse to hit him? And that said eagerness shows just a little too outwardly in that bulldog demeanor of hers? Yes, probably, it's not the best. But it goes a ways toward selling the intimidation, and in the end, no one has to get punched! Predictably, she looks a little disappointed at THAT as well, rolling her eyes waaaay back at just how outwardly cowardly the guy turns out.

But if Cassie doesn't get to punch anyone, Toni doesn't get to either, and after sharing a selection of truly disgusted looks goes ahead and reaches to fish out the phone, to offer back to Toni a moment later. "He's got more of 'em, too. Must make a little career of this," she declares, sarcastically impressed. "So yeah. Now we're gonna wait and you're gonna go to jail, I guess? Which is a bummer, you know, because we were out enjoying ourselves and now there's probably gonna be a police report and all of that blah blah blah. Well, and also for you, because jail."

The crowds have been more focused on getting good footage for their social media than finding the police. Fortunately, that thing Cassie has kept saying about this being right in the middle of the city and not really shady at all has an upside: between the real stores and temporary ones, the crowds, locals and tourists alike, this is the kind of place where they always have some police on duty, watching out for the inevitable daily crazy... or terrorists, or what have you. So a couple of patrolmen soon make their way over to the obvious crowd and sudden mess of activity.

Many boring minutes later, they have gotten contact information and a statement from the two young ladies. Cassie is happy to inform them of the extra phones, which are probably no surprise to the veterans of this crowded venue. "Wanna just head straight back and get food at the tower?" Which still seems to be THE PLAN despite any weird hestiation earlier.

Toni Monetti has posed:
Toni has a moment of tension once she gets her phone back, but she seems to be content, during the wait, to fiddle with it. The phone thief is eventually corralled and gets the unique privilege of getting a three-block horsie ride (entirely because they don't want to bring in a wagon). Mr. Beard does not say much. Maybe he was doing it for the memes, or he has some other motivation, or someone put it up to it. He doesn't do more than periodically whale-eye at Cassie and Toni and one of the unusually boisterous photo-people.

"I think that'd be a good idea," Toni says, when Cassie speaks to her, having looked increasingly dire at her phone. She looks upwards to meet the blonde woman's eyes. "Uh, can you like, un-hack things there? Because, look at this."

She turns it around and shows the message history, which appear to be a long series of messages varying on the following theme:

Hi! This is Bank of America! We'd like to check on your recent purchase of $2,420.69 at LEXCOINTRADERS.LV. If this is really you, please answer Yes.
> Yes
Got it! Thanks!

Hi! This is Bank of America. We'd like to check on your recent purchase of...

"I am like both /so mad/ and going to be /incredible trouble/," Toni says, darkly.

Cassie Sandsmark has posed:
"What? Lemme see- oh. Ugh. No, I'm crap with these, and you should probably-" The cops have gone off by now, horsie and all, leaving just the pair of them, and Cassie scrunches up her nose a bit. "You'll probably have to go to the station later to finish with the charges and cuz this probably increases it to like grand, grand, extra grand larceny or something, yeah? And call your banks and stuff." She's willing to take the phone and kind of peer at it, scrolling through all the different strange charges that have been added, but ultimately turns to offer it right back with a cheerfully defeated look.

"Sorry, I'm no good at this stuff beyond using my own apps. But I know all kinds of super hacker nerd people. Could give it to t- Red Robin, he's super good with computers, but we'd have to go to Gotham." She makes the typical 'ew, gross' face that Toni also has mastered!

"So yeah, sounds like tower's still the plan. I'm sure Vic could handle it, or Viv might even be able to like, machine mind-meld with it or something? Or would that risk giving HER a virus?!" That one might require further explanation.

Toni Monetti has posed:
"I hope so," Toni says. She seriously considers the question, and says, "My dad says Lexcoin people are /like/ a virus, but that's because like. He's not even /involved/ in it."