The Socialite and the Cyclist


gigi_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title The Socialite and the Cyclist
Synopsis Gigi tries a new pub, and encounters a mildly eccentric Englishwoman.
Date September 26, 2008

The Surly Wench

A punk rock pub through and through, The Surly Wench is dim, cramped, and incredibly popular. It's a small, rectangular venue with a bar bordering one entire wall. Despite this, ordering a drink on a weekend can be an exercise in line-waiting and rib-elbowing. There are a few small tables ringed with high stools for seating, but these are prime real estate. The majority of the patrons are forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on any given night. Almost half of the cramped interior is devoted to a low stage for live music. There's no dance floor. If you feel the need, you'll have to thrash in place.

It's too early in the evening for the Wench's notorious live music to have started, and soon enough after the end of the working day that most of the patrons present are still stone cold sober. As a result, the venue lacks something of its usual atmosphere — but conversation is easier than is often the case, even with an old Manowar track playing in the background.

Perched atop one of the high stools, and presently with a table all to herself, her pint, and the magazine open before her, Ygraine stands out chiefly as a result of the Union Jack painted across the back of her leather jacket.

Two men in suits look rather out of place in the Surly Wench, to say the least, but they come in and find places to sit.


It's almost on a musical cue that a woman dressed in silver sequins and fringes, clear club garb, with almost impossibly tall stiletto heels, strides into the Wench.

Just let me ask you: Hey, have you heard of my religion? It's called the Church of Hot Addiction. And we believe that God has lust for everything.

Dark-haired with red-painted lips, she approaches the bar and asks for a drink. She then turns to regard the clientele and then points to Ygraine's table, "And have the waitress bring it to that table." She doesn't wait for a response from the bar tender as she strides up to the table and takes a seat across from the girl in the Union Jack. "Hi there. My name's Gigi." If her complexion didn't scream Italian Mafia, the accent sure does. Of course, if Ygraine's reading the right magazines, she might recognize Giovanna Civella.

Ygraine's magazine is about the world of professional cycling, and looks to have been imported from Europe or Quebec, given its French text. Certainly, its reader seemed quite oblivious to Gigi's presence until she was addressed — at which point she starts, blinking in surprise at her new companion for a couple of moments before finding her voice. "Uhh, hi there. Ygraine", she says, her own voice carrying distinctly educated and British tones.

"And here I thought you were just an anarchist wannabe. All about the Sex Pistols and Johnny Rotten, maybe. I'm pleasantly surprised to hear you actually have an accent. And a… Welsh name?" Gigi quirks a brow and beams a quirky, yet charismatic smile. "What're you havin'? I'll buy you another round?"

Ygraine blinks in surprise, then glances at her glass. "This? This is rather flat Coke, I'm afraid. But I'll take a cider, if you're offering. As for the name… unknown provenance, apparently. Doesn't seem to translate into anything in Welsh, but it first appears in early medieval Welsh tales about Arthur, as the name of his mother."

"Arthurian mythology. I like that." Gigi shoots a glance to the waitress when she brings by her Purple Rain. "And a cider for my new friend here. Thanks." The drink is sipped on before the Mafia Princess lets out an appreciative, though subdued, whoop! "They don't water the drinks down in this joint, do they? Nice. Very nice."

Ygraine cracks a grin. "I think that this is one of the places where you'd be more likely to have a riot on your hands if you watered down the alcohol. It's not exactly somewhere that too many teenagers bluff their way into for their first all-nighter. Most of the clientele have a pretty good idea of what they want…"

"This is a real drink. I'm going to have to come here more often." Gigi leans across the table to peer curiously at the magazine. "Hobby of yours?"

Ygraine glances down at the magazine, abruptly looking somewhat self-conscious. "Oh. I am. Was. A professional cyclist. Maybe will be again. Sort of am now, as a courier, but…." She shrugs slightly. "I suppose the short answer to that question would have been "yes", come to think of it."

Gigi chuckles softly. "You're cute when you're flustered." She doesn't dwell on that, however. "Professional cyclist, huh? Must be exciting."

Ygraine blinks, adding a blush to her possible cuteness. "I, ohhh. Sort of. A lot of hard work doing the same thing for hours, like most professional sport. But… the racing's out of this world, when it goes well. I'm addicted to speed on two wheels, but it's more than that… there's all the thrill of getting tactics right, of out-thinking as well as out-working an opponent…." She shrugs self-consciously. "Nowhere near as fashionable as running about with a ball or thwacking one with a bat, of course."

"Maybe not as in vogue, but glamourous in its own way, I'm sure." Gigi's smiles is gentle, and broadens once the cider arrives. "What's holding you back from competing again?"

Ygraine purses her lips… changing drinks from Coke to cider before she answers, voice low. "I went batshit crazy after being caught on the edge of the Bomb. Got put through a storefront… came round two days later in a refugee camp field hospital. I'm not sure I'm fully fit — mentally fit — yet, so I can't ask the coaches to be. And, oddly enough, they were inclined to go with more… reliable people for the Olympics this Summer."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Gigi's tone turns appropriately sympathetic. "We all lost a lot with the bomb. Some more than others." That's an understatement. "What about on a smaller scale? A test of your fitness?"

Ygraine gestures vaguely towards the door. "That's a large part of why I'm here. Facing demons. I work as a courier, for one of the companies that takes commissions for routes through Midtown. I cycle through the ruins several times a week, at least. And in the process I make some small contribution to getting the lifeblood of a city — communication — flowing again. Of course, it's not exactly proving wholly fun, I admit. But… heh. Maybe it'll help me get back to the "glamour" of being around lots of muscly people in skin-tight lycra…."

"That's the spirit." Miss Civella takes another long drink from her glass and taps the table absently. "It takes a lot of guts for any of us to continue living in this city. Especially since you seem to have ties elsewhere. I admire your fortitude."

Ygraine offers a rather lop-sided, awkward smile. "Thank you. I… I don't like hiding. It's very tempting to just go home and try to never think about any of this ever again…. But I'm trying to persuade myself that this is a challenge I can meet, and should overcome." She shrugs self-consciously. "How about you? I'd hazard a guess you're not a professional cyclist…"

"I'm what the gossip rags like to call a socialite. I like to think that my contribution to society is to simply keep making the pages so the general populace can focus on someone other than themselves and their tragedies." Gigi shrugs. At least she's honest. "I don't always get good publicity, but I do always get a kick out of speculation into my life. I'll bet you'll never guess how many times I've been arrested." She smirks, and after a sip, answers her own question. "Six." She laughs heartily. "That is, if you go by the magazines. I, however, have an absolutely spotless record. I just happen to ride with people who like to get pulled over in front of cameras."

Ygraine laughs, shaking her head in mild disbelief. "And what on Earth are you doing in the Wench? I suppose that it might be a good place to hide from the paparazzi, come to think of it…."

Gigi taps her nose. "Exactly. And, as I've discovered, the booze is better. If nothing else, it's a nice place to start the night. I don't look right if I'm entering a club without a buzz, you know? This will help perpetuate the rumour that I drink a bottle of Belvedere at home before going out."

Ygraine giggles, once more shaking her head. "Shouldn't you already have some gorgeous young actor — or rich old sugar-daddy — hanging off your arm, in case any photographers do catch sight of you?"

"I have a wealthy father who is a very respectable businessman." Gigi smiles fondly, apparently very proud of her father. "So I don't need any strapping young man to take care of me. And besides, the ladies are prettier and better dancers. They get me on more pages, too. But if a guy's suitably noteworthy, I'll flash a smile for the snap of the camera. Anything for the attention, really. I like to keep everyone guessing." That being said, she feels the need to add, "I'd never splash my actual lovelife all over the papers."

Ygraine blinks, somewhat surprised by more than one part of that statement. "Oh," is all that she can initially think of to say, taking a sip of cider before adding, "That's good to hear. I've never really felt much sympathy for people who live their lives in the gossip columns."

"Exactly. Nobody does. I don't need sympathy. I do what I do to see how outrageous the story will be. I get a kick out of it." Gigi grins, "It's like acting, on a smaller scale. Less stage fright this way."

Ygraine laughs softly. "Seeing what you can achieve in your chosen field of competition, eh?", she asks with a grin. "I wish you luck with it."

"Yes, that's it. It's all about competing, for me. I know so many of those little girls get so upset about what the papers say about them. But then they shouldn't have made fools of themselves where the cameras could watch." Gigi shrugs and fishes a large bill out of her pocket, setting it on the table. "I'm afraid I must be heading out, but it's been a pleasure sharing time with you, Ygraine. Your company has been most encouraging."

From their respective tables, the men in suits stand up and reconverge by the door.

Ygraine looks a little surprised, but musters another smile for Gigi. "Encouraging? Heh. You're most welcome. Do feel free to drop in again. I'm here at least a couple of times a week…."

"I look forward to it." Gigi stands up and heads for the door, a bounce to her step.

September 26th: It's Your Call
September 27th: I'd Do it Different
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