1963-10-03 - Trick Or Treat
Summary: Sometimes a man is doing a good deed. Sometimes he's casing the joint to get you assassinated.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: None
jennifer barney 

Harlem slumbers uneasily on a fine morning dawning crisp and clear. Grey mist swirls around the taller buildings and the slate skies promise a bite to the day's beginnings, though it may be unfortunate for New Yorkers schlepping briefcases and backpacks that the thermometers will hit seventy-something anyways. Layers, people, magical layers.

One such figure slouching towards the Cigar Bar stands out for having a knapsack slung over her shoulder. She doesn't look the sort to be headed that way at 7:34 AM, much less interested in whatever that place has on offer. A gym? Booze? Caucasian female, brown hair, she screams 'office girl' and therefore not one of the minorities who live here in abundance. But her running shoes carry her over the pavement without a squeak, and she doesn't seem terribly bothered if anyone gives her a look. Or a longer look, trying to figure out what her deal is. Harlem has its secrets. Jen has hers.


There's no little ruckus coming from a little office, built into the side of a 19th century granite building. The sound of metal pails striking interior walls, and in the next moment, a wiry looking white guy is summarily tossed out the opened (thankfully.. glass costs money!) door and onto the sidewalk by two, three slightly larger non-white guys. "Hey, hey!" the call rises, "I was only askin'! Seriously.. man, come on! We're cool, right?"

It may be missed the way Barney falls, however; he does it in such a way that he can look rather ungraceful, but it puts him into a position where hands are free and he's able to gain footing should he need it. It's the acting, however, that sells the 'bungling, idiot guy', though. Slowly and seemingly painfully the smaller man rolls over, and the early commuters walk past him with nary a look, or maybe a cluck. A groan exits the man as he rises, brushing off his suit. Blue eyes are keen, though, and he's watching the office even as he feigns the cleaning and muttered curses about 'damn negroes'..


Early commuters have reasons not to ask about the clanging of metal or shouting voices. They turn their blind eyes willingly from anything that might interrupt the precarious balance of their lives. Jennifer might be one of those sorts, her gaze narrowed on the doors and recessed lobbies of the buildings she passes. Mentally ticking them off in her head, she has a pretty good idea of the businesses in the area and her landmarks, corresponding to some kind of mental map. It makes her stand out, a bit too alert, and possibly broadcasts this is not the kind of broad to casually mess with. Her step doesn't falter too visibly when she comes upon a man thrown out of a building ahead of her, as a result, while other pedestrians veer around him.

The brunette attorney stops. Her gaze travels up to the men outside the doors. Then she looks away, giving them cover of a blind eye. "Sir, are you all right? You look like you saw the bad side of a contract." One hand anchors her knapsack over her shoulder, but the other is free. Her brow is creased a moment as she watches Barney, the state of his suit, anything to indicate an injury.


As Barney is gaining his footing, he also has his eye on those around him, the amount of traffic on the streets.. nothing is missed. Particularly the young professional that seems to be the only one who stops. Hmm.. and a wan, lopsided, self-deprecating smile reaches his lips as he finishes the process of clearing debris from his suit. He looks unharmed, and he chuckles, shaking his head, a glance tossed back at the office from whence he'd come. "Yeah.. will need to take the suit to the cleaners before the end of the day, though. Damn. And I had another meeting to go to today." He exhales in a huffed breath and inclines his head, "Thank you, ma'am for your concern." There's a pause before he gets louder, "'Cause lord knows no one else cares what goes on around here!"

That, of course, gets a couple of stares, and Barney offers that office door a 1-fingered salute before he turns his back completely on it. "What's a girl like you doing in a neighborhood like this, darlin'?"


Jennifer gives a bit of a thin smile, perfectly polite, and it only reinforces the professional element of this fish out of water. Not many people in the neighbourhood can probably claim to wear a suit to work. She draws in a breath and rests at ease, shaking off whatever might be thought as a challenge. "I suspect it comes from learning to mind their own business, you know? Not everyone around here welcomes questions, even when you're asking nicely and all." Her chin bobbed towards the building across the street, she smiles. "You're welcome though. Sure nothing is torn or ripped up too badly?" Her own questions are precise, timed to allow a good opportunity for Barney to respond without being spoken over. Not the kind of openly interrupt, at least not in this particular forum. The traffic moves on, interrupted rhythms soon smoothed out because two people aren't about to overturn Harlem's tense equilibrium any time soon.

"I thought to take a walk and see the sights, myself." Clearly she isn't serious, given the slight lift of a smile. "Find out what all the fuss is about.'"


"Just my pride," is given smoothly; the sound of a man who is regaining his equilibrium. One, two more brushes of his hand along an arm to get all the sidewalk grit off, and he turns about, "Did I miss anything?" before he's ready to slow walk in whichever direction she may be facing.

"Uh huh." Barney is caught up in that light joke and he straightens, "Anywhere I can escort you to? I mean, there's a lot of jokers around. More than willing to help a young lady in not-so-much distress."


"At least pride can heal after the fall. Bones, not always so quickly." Jen cuts a sharp enough grin, lasting a moment. Then she steps sideways to allow a woman and her toddler to pass, both of them giving her long looks tinged by differing levels of curiosity. Fingers twiddled at the toddler earn her no points from her mother. "Miss anything? I don't think the bus has passed. Or a taxi." Assumptions can be easy to make. She points towards the Cigar Bar, and doesn't seem to veer too much away from it.

She gestures in that vague direction. "Headed up here by the looks of it. Word has it a new gym opened up here, but I don't quite know whether that's the place I was looking for. Only one way to find out. You ever heard of it? Or do you know about a gym around here?"


Barney laughs and nods his agreement, underscoring it with, "Yeah.. had a few of those. Gotta tell you, though.. pride takes about the same length of time. Six weeks to 2 months. At least that's about how long it takes for someone to forget about it and have it not brought up in conversation with a 'Oh hey, remember this time?'." He had meant 'missed any spots on the suit', but no matter. "Ah.." is given as he catches up to her thoughts, shifting tracks in the process.

"A gym? 'Round here?" Barney shakes his head before brows crease, "There's a place down on W 133rd street, by the church. Boxing, though, so you might not wanna go there." He considers as he looks around, shaking his head. "Not something that pops up in this neck of the woods."


The underscore gets a hint of a smile out of the lawyer. "Pride must be faster to heal for a lady. Then we take plenty of bumps and bangs we're not supposed to show. Must be something we get with sugar, spice, and everything nice." Jennifer's hand tucks into her pocket, then sneaks away on the suspicion this may be too casual to adopt. Better to clasp her hands together, and she waits easily enough.

The map supplies an idea of direction. "Over there, that's going to mean back to the train. I heard something about a place up there having a gym, but it was new." Her tone is uncertain for only a moment. "Let's go take a look. Least I can do is be wrong, and leg it over to the other side of the city. Boxing works reasonably well but I wanted more of a punching bag and weights. Girl has to stay trim and all that."


"Sugar and spice and everything nice," Barney agrees. "That's what little girls are made of." Of course, they're just coming out of the 50s, where the women wore pearls.. and the conservative families still do. Flat-top haircuts. Wool coats.

"It's a nice walk. A few blocks. Then, we can walk past all the old hangouts I heard about from the 20s. Maybe find a club you might wanna come back to later." Maybe. Crime IS up in Harlem, after all. "With an escort, that is."

As Barney walks, he seems agreeable, "We can look, but if you want a punching bag and weights? That's your best option.. and honestly, I don't think they're gonna wanna see a little girl walk in." He looks to the side, a brief, appraising glance, "I don't think you've got anything to worry about."


"And some girls are made of moss and steak and everything great," Jen answers. "What that ages into, I haven't the faintest idea. Ladies who lunch?"

Those ladies have to patently loathe little miss working girl, someone who actually takes her job seriously and not as a stepping stone for a fine marriage into an important family. It shows in the way she practically tackles the earth with a longer stride than her sneakers would normally give her. "All the old places sound good. Like the stories they tell about old New York, you know? I feel like between Times Square and Brooklyn, I see a very narrow band of the city. But what can I do, you know?"

Crime is up in Harlem, as it happens. Crime that doesn't get the idea why a man in a road dusted suit would care about a lady in a suit jacket, and they do the math from alleys and windows. Easier marks to pickpocket get held up a few streets down, a block over, divested of a bit of money. Wallets emptied, pictures tossed onto the street, bills and coins plucked out. Wedding ring taken, for one man who got too mouthy.

Jen covers her mouth with her hand rather than laugh aloud, meanwhile. "I could be outright awful and make a bet with them. Most of those places are hard for a girl, it's true. But that's nothing new for me. I get that look everywhere I go but the supermarket. Court room, gym, bank, all the same. Sometimes I wonder if I should just be taller than them so they have to look up at me and say no."


"Moss and steak..?" Barney sounds honestly perplexed by that and chuckles, pulling a cigarette from an inside pocket. "I have no idea. Someone who is better off being left at home while their husband goes to the corner bar and just don't come back?" He offers the back to the lady beside him, and couples it with, "I'm Barney, by the way."

The lighter is pulled out soon after, and whether she takes a cigarette or not, once acknowledged, the pack is replaced into a pocket. "Ah.. a woman's libber? Not many of those 'round." He figures, apparently, that it's a small movement; nothing to worry about. Right? "You think you could beat those guys in there, goin', say a round or two? Be good money. Easy money if you're as good as they say— courtroom?" He looks at her again; he's not pegging her as a lawyer, though. "Reporter?"

It is true; there is something about the way the pair walk that might turn the petty thieves off of those particular targets. Could be the confident air of a New Yorker stride that brands them a 'native', or could be that those down the block have always been an easier target. Over. And over. Not that Barney would interrupt unless there was reason to do so. Not his place, not his job.


As well he should be, of course. It is a perplexing blend, but what woman is ever straightforward? "Barney, is it? I'm Jen." She waves off the cigarette with a polite smile. "Can't, I'm afraid. The bosses get funny when a girl smokes or drinks. They're pretty progressive thinkers but the idea someone in the office other than them keeps a bit of gin in the drawers is unthinkable. Even if they say the Queen's mother does."

Her cheeky grin becomes an undaunted shield of feminism at its finest. Blunt that. She does, however, wave a hand at the notion of a libber. "I'm a bit more keen on fair rights for everyone. This isn't the Gilded Era. Girls can do more than type, have babies, or be a teacher until they're married, you know? That sounds rather dull to me." Small movement, right. Her eyebrows rise but she's otherwise mild about the statements, considering him for a few moments. "Reporter? No, afraid not. Attorney. Not litigation," yet goes the unsaid word, "but close enough."

She's an LA girl, a cop's daughter. Not much about those sorts puts her off and she doesn't broadcast as victim, really. They might give her a look, measuring the price of her clothes or the contents of the bag, but the words might put them off. Maybe. "See, I should take up boxing. Kangaroos do it, right? There's a joke in there." Killer Roo!


Barney takes the first pull on his cigarette, letting the smoke move lazily from his nose before he exhales fully. "Gin, huh?" He looks across to her and grins. "Gotcha. And I bet she does. She's a tough bird."

As they walk, and she sort of shifts, brows rise; he is, however undaunted himself. Male chauvenist right here! "Well, everyone needs teachers, right? Nurses? Can't forget them. Heck, they probably do more than the doctors, what with their bedside manners." He nods his head though as he looses some ash and puts the cigarette back into his mouth to leave it there for a moment, draw some smoke again, and holds it to his side. "Lawyer, huh? Not bad. That ain't easy. Can't say I've ever seen one of you, though. Not that I've ever really found myself in a courtroom that often." He chuckles and flips some more ash with a flick of his thumb. "I understand that being a lawyer for the unions 'round here is big business."

Barney nods in the direction in which they travel while barking a laugh. "Might be good for you after finding that out. Some of those other guys might wanna take a swing at you, forgetting you're a lady, after you beat 'em in some court." In kangaroo court?


Jennifer grins. "It's true! Felicia, my secretary, has this lovely story about the queen mother drinking gin. I think it's fantastic. Imagine sneaking in a nip between all those stodgy diplomatic appearances she has to make, or cutting ribbons at hospitals. I think I'd like that woman, if I knew her." Jen totally would, because the Queen Mum was phenomenal, no nonsense, and liked her Tanqueray or Dubonnet. Mm.

"Everyone does need teachers and nurses and they do a fine job. I'm not critiquing their hard work, though I do wish people stopped looking at me funny simply because I have a license with the state bar. I'm quite proud to see the ladies making their mark up there, because the court does need women too. Not only for our insight and our background, but because clients, juries, and the rest aren't all men, now are they?" She flashes a grin his way, having no trouble with the cigarette smoke. Hardly makes her blink twice. "Not many people get to the courtroom. You might, though, jury duty. It's not all bad, to be sure."

Her easy stride lengthens as they approach the rough address she knows to be about right, and gives the Cigar Bar a once over from a distance. "I'm not a union lawyer, no. I do more on the civil side." Add the word 'rights' and there you go. "Those guys probably wouldn't throw a punch at me for that, they might because I work for Goodman or Lieber. They've taken on a fair share of cases, and the papers know it."


Barney is happy to walk and listen now, the cigarette taken and drawn upon until it reaches a point when he can no longer hold it without the burning end touching his fingers. At that point, he simply flicks it away and leaves it burning behind him. He nods in the right places, and he truly is attentive; particularly at the point where she identifies herself as a civil lawyer. It's not hard to fill in the blanks, and he slows his pace, ducks his head, and smiles. "They've got a pretty girl like you defending them? Good for them." Civil Rights. And right back there, now a block or so behind them?

"Can't read a newspaper these days without seeing those names. They'll help you make a name for yourself, that's for sure." As they reach the area, Barney looks around, shaking his head slowly, "Not seeing it… upstairs, maybe?" Most of these shops have little private, smaller shops on the second floor. "Maybe someone gave you the wrong address?" Or…

Barney looks around again, scanning, looking for anything that might look out of place or just wrong. Passers by, any hint that maybe there was something of a set-up and he's in the middle of a pretty poorly orchestrated hit. (Sloppy, sloppy Barney!) He reaches up to take Jennifer's arm, elbow and is ready to move across the street, through traffic, "It's not here. Let's go.."


Assuming the wait isn't too much, Jennifer slips back to stamp on the cigarette lest it burn some leaves or any paper. A habit on her part; she twists her foot side to side, and her sole crushes out that spark. The same could be said of criminals in a verbal or literary parallel; crushing out their soul. "They have someone who sees it's important, and so much better than going through intellectual property or estates. Trusts are the most boring law you can imagine, no challenge, and not why I bothered spending my adult life cramming in all the laws of New York, you know?"

Her shoulders dance back and when Barney takes her by the elbow, she pauses. The building gets another look over, and then she gives him one of those long, soul-searching looks that from an attorney tends to be a bit… uncomfortable. They're sharks, after all, even the good ones. They know when to scent blood, something they teach them on their way to getting to the bar. No doubt there's a part of the exam that involves chumming the room with a criminal's sock and making them go find the evidence. Her eyebrows lower, and there comes the first part of a frown. "Something's bothering you. Not just the gym address being wrong. Something connected to being thrown out of the building?"

Why is this the moment she unbuttons her coat? A man's mind might reel, even if she's dressed like Miss Manners went and got suggestions from a school marm in 19th century London on what to wear. Minus the slitted knee length skirt.


"We'll go with that.." Barney says hurriedly, letting all the conversational stuff wash over him like water on a duck. He looks deadly serious; a professional glint in those blue eyes. He looks every inch of knowing what he's doing, and more than capable of making a life and death decision in the blink of an eye. Ex-cop? Maybe.. but he's on the move now, and he's more than willing to bring her with him.

A shot rings out, two.. sloppy, sloppy. No silencer, which means the hit, the attempted hit, was mean to send a message to the area as well. Screams lift in the air in the next heartbeat as the bullets impact into the cars as Barney leaps and slides over the hoods to get some cover, more than expecting that she'll go over first and he simply follows to give some extra cover. The echoes of the rifle-shots mix with the next couple as they try and find their mark; each shot attempting that hit on the pretty attorney with the man in a suit.


The pretty attorney is not in the mood. The spark of memory flowers in the back of the brain like the corpse-scented flowers that open their petals only once every century. Memories of pain and the world evaporating in a bloody smear, a desperate race under wailing sirens. Adrenaline bucks like an unbroken colt in the veins, the chambers of her heart coursing to the chemical signatures before her conscious thoughts even catch up. Sick revelations follow several smacked strides on the ground, being tugged along by the whatever he is. Businessman, hit man, con man. Two shots spring to life, showering a spray of fine material down onto a woman planting her hand on the hood of a big old land yacht produced by Detroit's finest. Her skin is streaked jade, blushed like moss over the back of her wrist and up to her forearm when visible. She doesn't even bother with the jacket, her instincts trampling such concerns. In a heartbeat the attorney is more than a foot and a half taller, and her neat chignon tumbling away into a mossy overhang.

If the Statue of Liberty had a granddaughter, and that woman happened to be irritated by being shot at in Harlem, that's a fair comparison. "Get down," she hisses in a low tone, almost rumbling, still the same girl with a very real chord of… anger? Maybe surprise? It better not be delight. Then the killer roo engages, springing off at a run that makes her a much harder target to simply shoot. Especially when she goes at zigzags, and doesn't hesitate to run right up a building towards a shooter if she can measure their whereabouts.


Barney is scanning the area; he's not giving anything behind him a chance to shoot, though thankfully nothing seems to be coming from that direction anyway. As he looks, there's a glint in an open window a couple of buildings down; the lift of a barrel as it's pulled in, and as he considers what he wants to do and how, there is that.. "Jeezus.." Okay, okay.. he'll concede lawyer. Hell, later, he'll even put $5 on her to win at the gym. Should they get there, anyway.

The shooter, well.. while he's pulling in, there is always a spotter to check to see if there's a hit to confirm. A black gentleman on the corner who doesn't quite run with the rest of the crowd; instead, he pulls his pistol and is beginning to pull shots. He is beginning to run, however, so the chances are good that some of those shots go wild.

And they do. A scream rises, and a woman carrying a bag of groceries goes down, the eggs, vegetables running into the street as she grips her side, the blood seeping through fingers. Another grazes a man.. and the others create divots in building, street..


Victims have family to call the police. Police have to get here. Shooters can flee from sight in the intervening time. Jennifer's choices are nothing and none, and screaming adrenaline pouring through her veins to give her greater strength and speed. Heedless of any shots possibly headed at her, she veers straight to the building, the spotter. It's a moment of choice, to pursue or to break through. One can lead to the other, however fast she might climb and bash through a window.

The She-Hulk isn't subtle. Nor is she intended to be. She launches forward, grabbing hold of a lamp pole or launching herself up to run along the wall to avoid getting in direct line of any pedestrians. "Oh, bad boy, to kiss and run!"

She has no compunction against leaping down onto him, taking his gun as a last resort. Fingerprints are handy things to track identity. Though grabbing his arm and holding it at an angle where he can't safely shoot anything is perfectly possible, too, if the man is even still conscious once her dense body collides with his—hopefully. And if that other shooter is still trying to run out the building, it leaves her free to respond to him too.

Poor guy out there, hiding behind a car. And now staring at the green goddess in a tight shirt and skirt. Life ain't fair.


It's called 'not blowing cover'. Right now, Barney has no reason to come out into a fight, guns blazing. All he's got is a concealed carry piece and he's not technically supposed to be carrying it, even if he does have the 'proper' paperwork that could pass even the closest of scrutiny. This isn't his game. Blocks down? Oh.. he'll be back.

But now? Jeez!

Now is not the time for cellphones and it'll be decades before 911 is invented. Now is the era of dialing '0' and getting the operator. Assuming one can get to a phone booth. Or there is the clarity to do so from within one of the buildings. There.. that's what Barney does.. and he backs, moving from car to car, and enters a store.. out of the way.

The pedestrians on the street have scattered. No one is willing to stick around; particularly with something like that bouncing around! The shooter on the ground can't seem to get out of the way fast enough for the bounding green energy, and as she lands and pulls his arm up, she may catch a *snap*, then the gun drops from his hand. Thankfully… nope. No longer conscious.

The guy in the building? Well, this is why they make fire escapes. No way in hell is he going to hit ground level. One fire escape to the next, jumping from building to building. He's working on just getting the hell out of there.


One down, questions possible. The other, moving at speed. She has to choose, and as much as she wants to, Jen stays put.

See? Hanging out with Spider-Man has taught her a few things. She scoops up the unconscious man after wrapping a bit of his jacket around his gun, dropping it into an inner pocket of her jacket. That will keep it from falling free, and then she can bound off with her newly found prize. He has some answers to her questions, like why anyone was firing at her.

At least she's fairly gentle about holding him, trying to keep the spotter from coming to any harm. But springing through the street with him to see at least which way Mr. Fire Escape is headed will give her some kind of guidance on the way to go. And should he get away, she might have enough of a description to make those questions a little more pertinent. With a nightshade smile, the smaller, slightly less frightening member of the Banners Walters clan at least has a hope of some follow up.

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