"Sports crowds. Nothin' like a bunch of over-excited, body-painted fat guys... pickin's should be good... Thank you, Mighty Ducks..."
Christina slipped through the crowd, entirely unnoticed, choosing her victims carefully. Of course, in this jostling, chaotic crowd, there were few people who'd even notice their wallets were missing until they went to buy that hotdog during second half.
"Honestly, they make it easy... Thank you, sir!" A college student with aqua and purple hair turned around at the voice, but there was no one there. Shrugging, he stepped up to the ticket counter and reached for his wallet...
"Aw, man! I don't believe this! Somebody ripped me off!"
Christina just smirked from where she stood in the doorway of a storage room. She quickly thumbed through the wallet, pocketed the cash, then started walking, nonchalantly depositing the wallet behind a trash can. Let someone else deal with the guy's fake ID and little bag of green leaves.
Pulling her black gloves tight, she made her way back into the moving mass of hockey fans. "Man, it is just too easy sometimes!" She grinned as another wallet received the same treatment as the first. By the time the game started, she had settled into a rink-side seat, tremendously pleased with her haul—over $1000 for less than an hour's effort, not counting what she'd spent on the ticket. It was amazing the kind of cash people carried to these games—and how careless they were with it.
"Not a bad night's work, not at all... Go Ducks!"
Draining her $5 bottle of water—what was with stadium food prices, anyway?—Christina again donned her gloves and followed the crowd out of the stadium and into the night. It took nearly a half hour just to get out (and $700 added to her own wallet), but the crowd had hardly dissipated outside. The Ducks had won, again, and the fans were living it up.
She knew she wouldn't do nearly as well as she had before the game: most of the people who had been carrying large amounts of cash had likely already spent it on food and souvenirs. But she had nothing better to do.
Aside from one incident in which her victim felt his wallet being pulled (at which point she bumped into him hard, then pretended to pick up his 'lost' wallet—and got a five dollar reward for her 'act of kindness'), the night went off without a hitch.
Finally, as it was nearing midnight, she decided she'd done enough for one evening and headed home—of course, home was a five-star hotel, but her philosophy had been, for years, that home was where you hung your hat, so to speak.
About half an hour later, she strolled into the hotel lobby and up to the counter, carefully slipping four hundred dollars out of her wallet, she handed it to the man behind the counter.
"Good evening, Miss Christina!"
"Good evenin', Jonathan. Here, this should cover the next few nights."
"You don't have to pay it off now, honey. You can wait till you check out."
"Eh, I don't know how long I'll be staying, and I'd rather pay as I go, y'know? Last thing I want is to end up with some astronomical bill to pay all at once. Oh, and send room service up, will ya? I'm starved."
"You want the same thing as last night?"
"Eh... lemme see the menu a sec. I'm cravin' fish."
After choosing her meal, she bid Jonathan goodnight (and waved a quick hello to his undeniably hot boyfriend, Damon), then took the elevator up to her room. A hot shower and hot meal later, she relaxed in her bed, deciding how she'd spend her remaining 'profit'. Maybe she should finally get an apartment. Anaheim was turning out to be a profitable hunting ground. Smiling, she switched on the TV and watched the late night newscast.
"Ah, life is good. Yep."
The next afternoon, Christina strolled down a walkway at the Anaheim mall, wearing her favorite 'Mighty Ducks of Anaheim' jersey, her roller blades—in Mighty Ducks team colors, naturally—slung over one shoulder. Man, she missed her childhood hockey league—she'd been the best player, and had made captain a year younger than anyone else ever had.
But that had been before the accident. When Christina still had a family. Before she'd started stealing as a means of survival. Before stealing had taken over her life, become who she was. She still had her fantasies of becoming the first female NHL star (well, the first human female anyway), but it wasn't likely she'd ever get there. The big leagues weren't real big on thieving middle-school dropouts. So she tried to content herself with her fantasies, and with going to as many hockey games as she could.
Chris shook her head to clear it and sat on a nearby bench, tugging on her skates. This was one of the best patches of pavement for skating in the area—despite the 'no skates, skateboards, or bicycles' signs. Because, really, it wasn't like the rent-a-cops could keep up with her anyway. On her blades, she was, and always had been, the fastest.
Not that she had an ego or anything.
Breaking into a grin, she tightened the last strap on her skates, snapped on her helmet, and took off. She started off slow, warming up, skating between stores and window-shopping. She really loved this mall; most of it was outdoors, only the actual stores were indoors.
She nearly fell flat on her face when she saw them.
The Mighty Ducks, or at least some of them, were strolling along the sidewalk not far from where she stood. Mallory. Wildwing. Nosedive. Duke. She was actually seeing them, in person, in casual clothes, in their day-to-day lives.
Holy Mother of Ducks. To coin a phrase.
She skated over to Wiener World and got a hot dog, then found a bench and made herself comfortable. This was a good vantage point to watch the Ducks coming and going from the various shops.
It wasn't long after she'd finished her hot dog that she hit on an idea, as she watched Duke L'Orange appear and disappear for the third time.
"Oh, yeah... this could be fun..." Grinning, Chris got up and tossed her trash into the nearest can.
Chris held her breath as she slipped the drake's wallet out of his pocket, then froze when he suddenly spoke.
"You know what the downfall o' most good pickpockets is, kid? They get too good; they can rip off anyone, anytime. Or at least they think they can. So they get cocky. Just like you."
She was too stunned to react when Duke whirled around to face her, grabbing the arm that held his wallet and the collar of her jersey. She struggled to keep her feet under her as the duck propelled her ahead of him and into the narrow alley between two of the stores, then pinned her against a wall. He glared at her, his beak a hair's width from her nose.
He was quiet for a long time, staring her in the eyes, studying her. Chris stared back, wondering what he was going to do, and why he'd moved them out of sight. She hadn't been caught in years, and the prospect of going to jail was not one she looked forward to.
"Who taught you?"
Caught off guard by the sudden question, Chris didn't quite manage the defiance she wanted.
"I-I taught myself."
He raised an eyebrow, looking her up and down with a grudging respect.
"You're good. Not good enough, but good. The gloves are smart, given your species' habit of leavin' fingerprints behind. You're tall, but you're slender, so you can slip through crowds no problem... You're an athlete, you can move fast... Bet you bring in a pretty good haul, eh?"
Chris narrowed her eyes.
"I do all right."
"Those are some of the best skates available. I'd say you do more than 'all right'."
"I have expensive blades because I like to skate."
Duke smirked down at her. "I'm guessin' you like the team, too."
Chris sighed. "Biggest fan," she admitted.
"So, d'ya make a habit o' rippin' off your idols?" She didn't answer at first, instead studying Duke's boots with distracted interest. He shook her slightly. "Hey! I'm talkin' to you." She looked up.
"I just wanted to see if I could do it. Word on the street is you were a helluva thief in your day. Wanted to see if I could jack from the best. Apparently, I can't."
The duck's grim expression changed entirely, and he chuckled. "First of all, my 'day' ain't over yet, sweetheart. Second, I'm usin' my skills for good now. And third, heh, you're right, you can't."
Chris scowled. "So you gonna let me go now, or what?"
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't turn you in."
Christina looked back up at him, meeting his eyes, but saying nothing. Duke raised an eyebrow.
"You got nothin'? No whinin', no excuses? Hell, when I was your age, I'd'a barked like a dog if it'd gotten me loose."
Chris laughed briefly at the mental image he'd conjured, but her face slowly grew serious again as she finally answered.
"You won't turn me in."
"Yeah? What makes you so sure?"
"...Because you know what it's like."
A minute later, Duke made his way down the sidewalk to the comic book store where the rest of the team was congregating.
The girl was nowhere to be found.