|The Crime Industry|
|Location||Chinatown - Lower East Side|
|Summary||Danny and Serena have some business to attend to. (And it's against the law.)|
| New York's Chinatown is no tourist attraction, although its many storefronts selling trendy imported goods and authentic Chinese cuisine makes it a hot spot for visitors and locals alike. It is instead a lively district full of businesses that cater to New York's increased Chinese population, from Hong Kong fashions to imported produce. Many of the sidewalks are lined with markets that appear each morning and disappear every evening, and the air often carries the smell of fresh fish.
The signs that decorate nearly every surface bear a mishmash of English and Chinese characters announcing goods and services, while red lanterns strung over the street sway in the slightest breeze. At night, many of the shops close, and the area lights with neon announcing the location of popular bars and clubs.|
| It is a fall night. The weather is cool and clear.|
There's a hole-in-the-wall store in Chinatown that sells second-hand furniture and cheap imported goods. It's hardly upscale, but it doesn't look at all shady. There's a plump cat in the window and a grandmotherly old woman working the register. But the shop's name is bandied around immigrant-heavy areas near the Lower East Side - including Mutant Town - as a place you can go for paper-making services. Fake papers, that is. Danny works Mutant Town not-infrequently, so his name is the sort that gets bandied about by a-guy-who-knows-a-guy types. He's 'working' today. Which, right now, largely consists of lounging on one of the for-sale sofas and playing with his tablet. It's not really encouraging anyone to buy the couch. But, that's not his department.
The bell attached to the handle of the door jingles as Serena steps inside and pauses to survey her new surroundings.
A thin silken scarf is pulled over the young Russian's head and tied loosely beneath her chin. She wears a faux-fur lined denim jacket over a plain tunic dress that comes down to about mid thigh. Black leggings shield her long legs from the autumnal chill in the air before disappearing into a pair of taupe UGG-style boots. Despite the relative modesty in her attire, there is little one can do to downplay the overt sexuality that comes from having breast implants - then again, that could be the point.
Cautiously and with a wide-eyed expression of a lost innocent, Serena takes a few steps further into the shop. She fiddles with her long fake nails.
Danny is dressed the kind of jeans that come fashionably 'distressed' and a hooded sweatshirt with the letters 'NYU' across the front. And a Yankees cap, at a jaunty angle. He doesn't even look up at the bell ringing. He's occupied with his tablet, which has a little holo-emitter attached to it. A couple of clicks and a holographic image appears projected just above it. A picture of a Western-style canon, which he makes little air-cars race through with another tap of the emitter.
The old woman at the counter is more helpful, smiling warmly at Serena. "We just got some lovely perfumes in from Hong Kong, my dear." Though she knows enough about Serena's sort of customer to make some guess of what she's here for, by her appearance. "Or are you here for our artwork? It is very good quality." Those who come for fakes are told to ask for the 'art.'
Serena’s eyes settle on the old woman and she hesitates further. How could such a cute little grandma be in the /crime/ industry? And yet, she is prompted. “Oh, yes!” Serena coos, clasping both hands together in front of her sweetly, “I was told…” Her eyes flick to the side as she searches the shop further, as if seeking out actual art, “About your art?” Her accent is thick, to say the least. She looks back to the woman at the counter expectantly.
The old woman's accent has faded over time, though it's still present. If very different than Serena's. When the girl confirms why she's here, the woman smiles. So sweet. She probably makes an excellent front. She says a few sharp words over her shoulder in Cantonese at Danny. For a beat, he looks vaguely annoyed at being interrupted from his holo-image. He carefully saves his work on his emitter and looks up properly at Serena. He gives her a wave, that ends with a 'Come here' gesture, stretching idly off the sofa into a standing position.
Serena gives a little start at the harsh Cantonese and so, Danny's first glimpse of her is likely to be something resembling a deer in headlights ...y'know, with the huge fake tits. As she is motioned forward, she hop-steps over without too much more delay. Sensing some of Danny's irritation, the blonde doesn't dare speak first.
Danny's irritation fades quickly once he's on his feet to meet Serena properly. He even smiles as he takes her in. It's an almost friendly expression, that doesn't even include too much leering at her fake boobs. "If you're here for the art, my stuff's in the back. Come on," he says without any preamble, turning and strolling off down a hall and to a door. He unlocks it with an old-fashioned metal key and walks into the stock room beyond it, motioning for her to follow. His own accent is pure New York City.
Serena does her best to smile back through obvious apprehension. She presses her glossy lips together tightly in thought before popping them and nodding. "Oh, okay-" Of course, he may have already turned around at that point. She glances over her shoulder towards the elderly store clerk one last time before following.
Danny is as casual as one can be about crime. As if this is as much a part of his routine as anything else. The stock room is yet another entirely mundane place. Crammed with excess inventory and boxes that lots of boxes. Danny leads Serena through it, back to yet another door. This one he does not open with a key, but with a tap of his thumb on a security scanner. With a beep it reads his fingertip, and he bends down so it can scan his iris. It's only after the second beep that the door opens. The room beyond might be disappointing. It's a rather boring repurposed office with bare walls, a chair and a desk topped with an old-fashioned computer and some printing and laminating equipment. "This is where the magic happens," he says, smile quirking in a way that says it's meant as a joke. "Name's Danny. Where'd you hear about us?" After a pause he elaborates. "Marzena in Queens used to send all her girls to us, but we haven't seen anyone from her in awhile."
"Serena," Serena offers before carefully correcting Danny, "I..." She shakes her head, "Am not prostitute. I am florist." Tilting her head, she tugs off the scarf tied over her hair and runs her fingers through it. "My flatmate, Niska, come to you before. And she send me, now." Serena gives a helpless little shrug of her shoulder. She barely knows Niska. For all she knows, she could have been one of the Queens madame's girls.
Danny shrugs, taking the correction about her occupation but not apologizing. The name, he recognizes. There was an a barely-perceptible set of tension in his shoulders, and it makes him relax. "I remember her." His smile warms. "Great cheekbones. You can sit if you want." Not that the chair looks very comfortable. It's one of those cheap folding office ones. He closes the door once she's inside. "I ask because we don't get a lot of Russian business. They tend to use their own people. And my boss is just fine with that. There's too much hassle in taking Bratva money, so this place won't deal with them." It's said like it's both a promise and a warning.
"I am not Russian," Serena protests too quickly. She's super fucking Russian. To compensate for this, the blonde does choose to sit. "I am Serbian," she clears her throat as she crosses her long, long legs. That isn't a /complete/ lie. She's just like, /mostly not/ Serbian. "I will let Niska know that you think this. It will be pleasing to her to have complement."
"Well, then we're cool." Danny does not question her ethnicity too closely. He half-sits, half-leans on the corner of the desk when she sits. "I know Niska wouldn't send Bratva here, anyway. So. What are you looking for? I can do you a driver's license by tomorrow. Physical and digital copies, either local or out-of-state. A green card or a student visa will take a little longer, but I can get you hooked up inside the week." He runs down his pricing after that. Which is not inexpensive for this kind of thing, but in-line with what she was probably told about the rates for papers out of this place.
Serena fidgets before finally forcing her hands down in her lap. She uncrosses her legs, knocking her knees together tightly. "I would like the green card." She looks hopeful ...and deeply concerned. Serena gulps, "If that is at all possible." Instinctively, she rubs at the knuckle of her left ring finger as if searching for something there. She'll come up with the money. She'll have to.
"I'm the Picasso of Chinatown, sweetie. Entirely possible," Danny replies with an impish wink. "Should be done by this weekend. I'll mock up a driver's license to go with it. Package deal." Green cards are on the upper end of his pricing spectrum, so he can afford to 'package'. He fishes a pad of paper out of the desk, and a pen. "Pick a name, a birthday, and where you were born. Whoever you want to be, you get to be it." He chuckles slight. "That's the American dream."
Clearing her throat again, Serena carefully takes the pad and pen. "Okay, I see." She drums the writing utensil in thought for a few moments before carefully scriping out the name, 'Serena Svetlosti.' She pens the name of her mother's home town in Serbia and after counting on her fingers, a birthdate that makes her at least twenty-one. "And if I... work, over the weekend? I can come in later, after that? Or this will upset you?" The teen doesn't have to do much acting to look deeply, deeply helpless. It'll give her time to come up with more money.
"Yeah. Sure. I like to triple-check the federal IDs, anyway. Have to be more careful about not tripping their databases with the digital stuff. It's trickier than mocking up something that'll pass a scanner at a bar or a smoke shop. But don't worry, sweetie. You're in good hands. Take all the time you need." Danny will be holding the papers until she comes for them with money, after all, so he won't sweat it. "How do you pronounce your last name?" Like it's an idle curiosity that just flitted across his mind. "Names are fun. Some clients let me make theirs up, but I'm lousy with Russian ones. Or Serbian."
"Svetlosti?" Serena asks, not realizing that by doing so she is well, pronouncing it for him. "It is... not last name, really. It is just word." She blushes, giving a tentative little smile. "In Serbian." Not Russian. Serena waggles her hand in explanation, "Is meaning the... bright? Light?" She watches him, fidgeting. "You do not need ...photograph?" And then, she glances over her shoulder to the plain wall and back to him. "Or have you already taken?" It's entirely possible, what with Eyes.
Danny shakes his head, gesturing to the wall. "I save the best for last. Stand there. Try to look tired and a little pissed off. Like you've been in a line for awhile. And put your jacket on." Because God forbid your tits look awesome in a 'government' photo. He straightens up, Eyes flashing on.
This is 2046. No jacket is going to make these babies look any less awesome.
Still, Serena zip is up as she stands. She lets the scarf flutter down to the chair as she shifts against the wall. The general anxiousness she feels could easily be translated as irritation if that's what one is looking for. Smacking her lips nervously, she does a few last minute fidgeting with her hair.
Danny does several shots against the drab wall under the unflattering lights, so he'll have some to pick from. "That will work," he says, after reviewing them behind his Eyes with a professional sort of squint. "I'll show you out. And, uh...if you need a couple weeks to pay, don't sweat it. We aren't going anywhere." There might be a /little/ sympathy for the deer-in-the-headlights girl and whatever she's going to be doing to cover their bill. A little.
Serena lets out a staggered breath of relief, nodding sharply. "Okay." She tries to smile as she bends at the knee to retrieve her scarf. "Thank you." Tossing her hair back behind her ears, Serena moves to refix it to her head. "I will try not to be long, I swear it to you," she tries to laugh but it comes out quite breathy. Once outside of the room however, she knows better than to imply anything about their transaction.
Danny chuckles at that, an almost awkward sound, as he closes the door behind them. There's a 'click' of the locking mechanism engaging. "No worries, sweetie." He heads back through the storage room and out into the cluttered little shopping area. Catching the eye of the grandma at the counter and giving her a little nod.
Serena doesn't appear to be able to make eye contact with the old woman, as if out of guilt. Crime! She gives Danny an awkward, flat smile before choosing to purchase some arbitrary cheap item and taking her leave of the shop. She'll be back in a few days.The grandma gives Serena the SWEETEST smile and a good-bye in Cantonese. Before the goes to speak sharply to Danny and make /sure/ he's going to be getting full price for this. She wants to make sure the crime's being done right.