If You Insist


nikola_icon.gif remi3_icon.gif

Scene Title If You Insist
Synopsis Two artistic types meet in a cocktail lounge.
Date March 5, 2019

Rochester - Some Fancy Cocktail Lounge

The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind for Soleil Remi Davignon — between finally getting out of quarantine in Kansas City, to finding a place to stay, and the added aspect of running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to organize the building and starting of a business that, at least according to one Richard Ray, should fare well in the Safe Zone, and the telepath with the broken ability is downright exhausted.

She’s in Rochester overnight on business — mostly, she’s been talking to people about obtaining a very large boat for a reasonable price, on Raytech’s dime no less. After a bit of an exasperating back and forth, a price was settled on, hands were shaken, and documents were signed, and the woman now has a chance to get out and enjoy the city for a bit.

She’s dressed well, a Davignon dress (because she might as well support the other her’s family, at least, right?), a knee-length sleeveless black and pink and purple ensemble, complete with a pair of black Jimmy Choos — it’s literally her only nice clothing right now, but she feels great being here, in actual designer clothing, living life like she did so long ago.

Rochester is nice — it doesn’t seem to be as filled with people who recognize her as the Safe Zone. There’s the occasional dawning of recognition, but nothing like what she encounters nearly every day back home.

Currently, she sits at the bar, legs crossed properly at the ankles, sipping a lemon drop martini and simply enjoying the atmosphere.

Places like this are not really Nikola's first choice of venue, but his partner, Spencer, has different tastes. It is said partner's preferences that has led the Serbian man to this particular joint today, where he has arrived somewhat ahead of their arranged meeting time to commence an evening of entertainment. He has opted to start drinking while he waits, and currently holds a lowball glass of some clear spirit on the rocks in one hand. Like Remi, he has a seat at the bar, but up until now the man has been too preoccupied with texting his absent other half to really notice his surroundings. As the cell phone disappears into a pocket of his charcoal dress pants, however, his eyes begin to wander — mostly out of idle curiosity. What he ends up seeing almost results in the normally reserved man very nearly spitting vodka all over the open collar of his white shirt and the front of the designer cobalt V-neck sweater that's served to keep him comfortably warm in the Rochester winter when his coat is absent, as it is right now, checked at the door. The woman on the other side of the bar is a face he never expected to see again — not least because, last he heard, she had died.

It has been rather a long time since Nikola has even so much as spared a thought for the handful of months he spent playing as a visiting musician with the Bolshoi Orchestra, and even longer since the name Remi Davignon has been on his mind, but these subjects immediately pop unbidden into the forefront of his thoughts. He's up on his feet before he even really registers what he's doing, leaving a few bills behind on the bar while he makes a beeline for the person who has unwittingly so fully captured his attention. Once he's close enough he slides right up to the bar beside her in such a way that it's probably obvious that he's made a habit of approaching others like this. He offers a smile. "Hello. Mind if I join you?" Though his accent — Eastern European — is quite pronounced, his command of English seems fluent, at least so far.

Perfectly mascaraed eyelashes flutter slightly as the approach of the stranger pulls Remi away from whatever alcohol-inspired daydream she was lost in, blue eyes that look too much like the ballerina’s turning and landing on Nikola’s face, along with a surprised look coming to rest over her features. Her eyebrows, also well maintained, climb up her forehead a ways as she stops, looking the man over — there isn’t even a hint of recognition in her gaze.

She almost responds with her own accent, polished over the years to simply resemble some sort of European origin, but she stops herself. Instead, she allows a smile to blossom for the man, nodding her head toward the seat next to her; he’s pretty good looking, and she could think of less horrible ways to spend her evening than chatting with a handsome fellow who isn’t from around these parts.

“Feel free,” she replies in a flawless American accent, with regional inflections from California to be precise. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this sudden, unexpected company?” She raises her martini glass, taking a small sip of the citrusy beverage.

It's probably for the best that the man doesn't actually expect any sort of recognition; he was a cello player in the orchestra pit, not really involved with the dance performers at all, but certainly the onstage collapse of a Prima Ballerina is a memorable event in his life. Nikola props an elbow up on a vacant section of the bar and gestures around the place with his glass, shrugging lightly. "You looked more interesting than most of the people here, and I hate to see a woman lonely. I'm Nikola. You can call me Nik, if that is easier." Now that he's closer, though still keeping respectful distance between himself and Remi, he takes the opportunity to give her features a much closer inspection. What he noticed from afar seems all the more confirmed, and he taps the side of his lowball thoughtfully with his fingertips.

"Forgive me for my bluntness, but have you ever been to Russia?" Bluntness is, of course, considered a Serbian national trait — but Nikola is at least aware of that fact, and is not shy about trading on it. No beating around the bush here. "I am a musician by trade. Or, at least, I was for many years. You look very familiar, very like someone I saw perform while I was with the Bolshoi."

To her credit, the woman doesn’t flinch — though quietly, she’s cursing this universe’s version of herself for being famous, but only ballet-famous. How badly did she botch that first audition that, in another life, launched her into a career as a successful A-list actress with a star on Hollywood Boulevard? No matter — that star doesn’t exist here, and it may never exist. Despite this derailing in her train of thought, a smile remains on the woman’s face — which, for the record, is exactly the same as her dancer doppelganger, aside from a small scar on her upper lip that is mostly covered by makeup.

When she does speak, it’s with careful consideration put into keeping the American access as natural and flawless as possible. Anyone who knew the differences in American dialects would likely peg her as a Bay-Area Californian. “Nope,” she replies, laughing softly and shaking her head as though she is familiar with this song and dance. One hand lifts, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “I hear it’s really cold there.”

She smirks, lifting the martini glass filled with cloudy yellow liquid and taking a dainty sip — while she doesn’t have her ability, she still keeps the habit of keeping her alcohol intake low, just in case it decides to suddenly return in the middle of her excursion. “I know who you think I am,” she continues, an amused smirk dancing across her face and twinkling in her eyes.

The woman extends a hand, offering it out, palm down, to Nikola. “My name is Amelie Laurent. I was born and raised in Bodega Bay, California, where my dad was a fisherman.” She definitely doesn’t move with the same cat-like grace that the ballet dancer had, though there’s a different sort of grace to her. “I’m also a celebrity impersonator who looks shockingly like Soleil Remi Davignon, the Prima Ballerina and Fashionista who was murdered last year.” Clearly, she gets this all the time.

Then, she raises her brows a bit. “You were with Bolshoi? That means you must be a pretty talented musician.” She’s at least familiar with the ballet company.

"I am." Talented, that is. When the Serb takes the offered hand he turns it smoothly and gently in his own, bringing Remi's knuckles up to lightly brush with a continental kiss, his smile growing a wee bit wider as he does. Again, likely something Nikola is accustomed to doing. "I am afraid I don't quite believe you. I may not have had much to do with the dance performers, but I was sitting not five meters from the Prima Ballerina in the orchestra pit when she collapsed on the stage. A difficult thing to misremember — very difficult. But if you insist, Ms. Laurent." He seems in no rush to release her hand.

Nikola's memory has never failed him before, especially not regarding an event of such magnitude, and it's utterly transparent that he isn't even treating this denial as a game — he genuinely does not believe it, however willing he might be to go along with the charade in a place like this, or in the presence of the individual in question. No doubt he will have much to share with Spencer in the near future, though.

"Maybe you could tell me, then, what brings a woman from California all the way out to Rochester in the middle of winter. We have a far from welcoming climate."

A delighted smile forms on Remi’s face as Nikola dips down and plants that kiss on the back of her hand — though it is rather quickly replaced with a brief, unsure look as he expresses his disbelief of her cover story. That look disappears rather quickly, however, replaced by a charming, amused smile.

“I’m certainly not implying that you misremember — just pointing out that I’m not who I look like.” There are a few differences between her and the woman that Nikola watched collapse on stage so many years ago — she doesn’t carry herself with the ballerina’s grace that the woman he saw did, and her form is less willowy and more…dense is a good descriptor. At the very least, it backs up her story of being the daughter of a fisherman. Her hands are a bit rougher than expected, too, still not softened after nearly a decade on a sailboat.

The next question seems to set the smile into her features with a bit more ease — she has a good answer that isn’t a lie for that one. “There’s a man with a very large supply ship that I came here to see,” she replies. “I met with him today and bought it from him, with the intent of turning the ship into a floating dinner theater down in the Safe Zone.”

It is only now that the man drops his hand away from Remi's to take up his glass again instead. He smiles over it as he lifts it and presents it forward to offer a toast, after which he plans to drain the remainder of the vodka contained within. "Congratulations are in order, then. Živeli." Nikola is a stubborn man: he has decided that this is the same person, decided it from that first sight and confirmed it with his closer look, and he's often incredibly stubborn about hanging onto his first impressions. Besides, people can change over time — Nikola himself has changed significantly more than once, and he hasn't seen this woman (or at least the woman he's sure she is) in over a decade. There's plenty of room for some variation.

"Having a floating theater will certainly be different; I shall have to come by once you get it operational. What sort of theater do you plan to produce?" This might even be the musician's way of trying to weasel his way into an audition before the ink is even dry on the venue, though he certainly doesn't dress like he's currently on an average professional cellist's wage, which may mean he either isn't in the business any more or he's very good at what he does. Given that he has already indicated past employment with the Bolshoi Orchestra, either is a reasonable guess.

Technically, Nikola is absolutely correct that this is Soleil Davignon. The life and experiences that this woman have had are vastly different, however, and she absolutely is not the woman he saw collapsing onto the stage at the end of a magnificent performance of La Bayadere. But that is all classified information that she is not at liberty to divulge — at least, not yet. She raises her glass, as well — though her drink after the toast is decidedly smaller, much more measured and intended to stretch the single drink out as long as possible.

“I hope to primarily do plays and stage productions — though I hope to also have the options of film and perhaps even dance.” She chuckles softly, swirling the pale yellow liquid around in the glass. For a moment, she simply watches the man, the hint of a smile on her face as she leans against the bar. “With the boat, we’ll also have our own power source, which should make us popular, what with the scheduled blackouts in the Safe Zone.”

Moderation may not be Nikola's thing, judging by the way the rest of that vodka disappears, but maybe he's just had a long day. He sets his glass back down on the bar with a small thunk, sliding it closer to the edge so whoever is on duty who next spots it can whisk it away. "Ah. Variety — good. Sounds like my kind of place. I will excitedly await news of its opening. Do you plan to perform, yourself? Being an… impersonator." His own smile quirks a little lopsided at this, but there seems to be no malice in it, just genuine amusement.

There is about half a beat of pause before another question occurs to the man, which he immediately poses: "How many people will be able to fit on this boat, anyway? Are you anticipating a cozy venue, or one that caters into the hundreds?"

“Variety is the spice of life, after all, and the more frequently the stage is in use, the more money my partners and I make.” The woman chuckles, turning her gaze to the martini glass as she swirls her beverage around. “I’m sure I’ll perform as well — I’m a trained actress, so I may as well get some use out of the training.” She smirks — if only these people knew what she’d accomplished in another life. “I won’t be doing any ballet or anything like that, though — the only dancing I can do is ballroom.”

His next question prompts a bigger smile — at the very least, she’s passionate about this project of hers. “The architects I’ve hired estimate about a 200 head count, max.” So it’ll be a decently large theater. “Three tiers of seating, with a bar on the roof so people can go out and enjoy the water.” She chuckles softly, taking another dainty sip of her drink. “If everything goes as planned, we should open in June.”

She tilts her head toward the man. “You ought to keep an eye out, we may end up auditioning some musicians like yourself for productions.” She doesn’t need her ability to know what he is likely angling for.

A cell phone's notification chime interrupts the conversation; with a muttered apology Nikola fishes the device out of his pocket and swipes his thumb across the screen a few times to access the message. It's from Spencer. Ah.

"I will definitely keep myself informed, it sounds like something I would enjoy. Unfortunately, it seems as though my better half has had a change of heart about our evening plans, and I will have to leave you to the mercies of less interesting people than myself." The Serb flashes a grin. "Hopefully we will meet again. Maybe on your ship."

The French woman who is doing her best to pretend to be a California girl flashes a charming smile Nikola’s way. She pauses, fishing out a business card from the small purse she carries, and offers it out to the man. “Keep an eye out, I’m sure we’ll be posting wanted ads for various jobs needed when it gets closer to our grand opening.”

She reaches out to briefly shake his hand before he departs. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Nikola.”

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