"You should really have /led/ with there's gonna be pho."
<NYC> Washington Square Park - Greenwich Village
Behind a majestic white marble arch, a smaller cousin of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, this beautiful green space is a popular destination for the young, the hip, and the artistic. A huge circular wading fountain is the centerpiece, ringed by benches, playgrounds, dog runs, gaming tables, and lush green lawns. In fair weather, the park is almost always crowded with tourists, students, chess enthusiasts, and local families come to tire out their children and dogs.
It's a busy afternoon. Sunny and warm, bringing people out in numbers despite it being midafternoon on a weekday. There's a constant cacophany of noise -- dogs growling and yapping in the nearby run, a boom box blaring near the fountain as a trio of breakdancers perform, a couple having an increasingly shrill screaming match under a lamppost heedless of onlookers, a young fast-talking magician's banter distracting his crowd from getting steadily swindled out of their money, the everpresent background drone of engines and honking taxis.
Near one park entrance, not so much competing with the clamor as melding itself into the din, a small mop-haired teenager has been collecting a steady stream of bills tossed into the bass guitar case open in front of him. At the moment he's segueing from "Moondance" into "Sympathy for the Devil". Tucked up on the edge of a curb in a faded green plaid shirt unbuttoned over black undershirt, jean shorts frayed at the hems, old Chuck Taylors (one shoelace untied), he doesn't cut a very impressive figure. No matter; the skillful dance of his fingers against the strings is enough to continue luring in passersby.
Sitting on the curb nearby, Harmony looks like they might fit in a little better at Tompkins Square Park than here. Even so early in the summer, they're already very tan, and dressed in a gauzy green linen tank top, black canvas cargo shorts, and sandals with rainbow webbing straps. They have a satchel made from bike tire inner tubes over one shoulder, trailing a line of fine blue ombre yarn which they are steadily crocheting into something circular but not yet identifiable as a garment. They are not watching their work, which seems to happen more or less automatically, but Gaetan's hands.
The busy walkway is suddenly busier by one skinny boy, who appears standing beside the guitar case. He quickly backpedals out of the way even while waving -- first at Gaetan and then Harmony, too. He's wearing a pale blue t-shirt dominated by a graphic of Captain America's iconic shield, charcoal jeans cut off just above the knees, and much-scuffed gray sneakers. There's a frenetic energy in him that bubbles over into restless bouncing and fidgeting, though he makes visible efforts to curb this and at one point succeeds briefly by occupying himself digging in his (pink! Steven Universe!) wallet for scrunched-up bills to add to Gaetan's haul. When the song is over he is the first and loudest to applaud. "Hey, that was /amazing/ you are /so/ good." He sounds entirely sincere, grayish eyes huge as if he hadn't heard his friend play a thousand times before. "Also hey Harm! Whatcha making?" He has gone back to bouncing, just a little.
"Flatterer." Gaetan pushes hair back off his forehead, giving a brief appraising glance over the mess of bills in his case before looking over to Spence. Almost as if the other boy's energy was infectious, his own leg starts bouncing restlessly. "I thought they weren't supposed to serve you extra shots at Evolve anymore."
Harm gasps and scoots back reflexively when Spence appears, but relaxes again quickly, freeing a hand to wave back. They also set down their crocheting to clap along with the more casual audience passing by, as those who had stopped to listen wander off, with or without offering up praise or donations. "I also think that was excellent," they say quietly, not catching the jittery energy from the other two. They look down at the disc of ripply blue yarn as they pick it back up. "Oh, this is...well, it's going to be a cap, eventually. A tam, maybe? It could still become a lot of things, at this point."
"I only had the one!" Spence protests, but there's no hurt behind the words. "Whoa hat of infinite possibilities! Maybe not /infinite/ but like /a lot/. Hat of myriad possibilities..." He frowns suddenly. "I was going to.../oh right!/" He snaps his fingers and drops down into a neat cross-legged sit on the sidewalk near the two older youths. "Hey you ready to take a break? There's a vigil outside the immigrant court on Varick Street right now a hearing. Not a huge crowd but it's like...letting ICE know we're watching, you know?"
"Those are the droopy beret kind of ones?" Gaetan gives a quick smile to a small girl who has darted over to drop in a dollar pilfered from her guardian's wallet. He lowers the guitar to rest flat across his knees, prompting further dispersal of the small knot of his audience when they realize further music isn't immediately forthcoming. "What are we watching? A vigil? Did someone die?"
"Yep, that's the kind," Harmony says, nodding at Gaétan. "Though it /could/ also become a beret. I think I will call it the Hat of Myriad Possibilities, actually, if you don't mind?" They offer Spence a smile, but then sobers to the topic at hand. "Oh no, what is going on there?"
"You keeping it or is that for someone else? With a name like that I /hope/ that hat is destined for adventure." Gaetan leans over, starting to scoop his money into some semblance of a pile. He squints up toward Spencer, forehead starting to wrinkle. "Disappear who? Is this a friend of yours? Why..." His head tips, brows lifting briefly in a small hitch. "You should really have /led/ with there's gonna be pho.”
"I was actually making this to try out the yarn -- I spun it myself -- and didn't have a destiny in mind, yet. I'll try to make sure it ends up on an adventurous head, though." If Harmony is as confused as Gaetan, they're quieter about it, but they are also watching Spencer closely. "It sounds pretty serious," they say, kind of uncertainly. "Where is this happening again? I don't really know the city too well, yet." They are gathering their loose yarn up neatly and tucking the Hat of Myriad Possibilities (in progress) into their bag. "Anyway, I'll check it out if you lead the way."
"Oh cool, you made the yarn, too, that's awesome! I bet there's lots of people who would love a Hat of Myriad Possibilities. Désolé I kinda forgotten about the pho cuz I've been talking to like /everybody./" Spence is bouncing up and down in place, as improbable as this operation seems given his current posture. "So the person is Minh Tran, I'm friends with his little brother, and he came to the US as a kid and was supposed to be protected by refugee status, but ICE grabbed him from his job a few months ago and put him in jail and now they want to deport him for no reason." He scrambles to his feet. "I can tell you more on the way if you want. Oh!" His face lights up as he looks Harmony up and down. "You're not that big, I could blip you there oh but wait probably not both of you at once or I might leave some limbs behind… It’s not that long of a walk, c’mon!"