Chilli and Picks at the Owl


jezebel_icon.gif victor_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Chilli and Picks at the Owl
Synopsis A chance encounter, a fidgety speedster, and an annoyed waitress. Oh, and Prince Valiant, too.
Date December 22, 2008

The Nite Owl

The Nite Owl is a survivor from ages past - one of those ancient diners with huge plate glass windows, checkerboard linoleum floor, and a neon owl over the entrance that blinks at those entering. Inside, there's an L-shaped main counter, complete with vintage soda fountain and worn steel stools. All of the cooking is done on the ranges ranked against the rear wall. The outer wall is lined with booths upholstered in cracked scarlet vinyl, tables trimmed with polished chrome. Despite its age, it's been lovingly maintained. The air is redolent with the scent of fresh coffee, vanilla, and frying food.

Hurrying through the door from the sub-zero hostility of the weather outside, a biker pauses just inside the entrance to set about removing some of the swathing folds of all-weather gear. Beneath, good-quality leathers are revealed, while the all-black helmet is unfastened and hauled off to let Ygraine shake her pony tail loose and enjoy an unhindered breath of warm air.
Jezebel almost collides with Ygraine in the door. She's in no hurry to get out of her nice warm padded ballistic nylon. What she wants to do, apparently, is curse the temperature and get inside fast!

This woman seems to be in her early twenties. She has wavy, short black hair and fair skin, but her best feature is her jade green eyes. Her green eyes are slightly larger than average and bright. Other than that, she's only modestly attractive at best. She's of roughly average height and weight.

Right now she's wearing a jade green nylon, loosely fitted jumpsuit. Practiced eyes can tell that the nylon is ballistic nylon with carbon fiber reinforcement and padding underneath. With this, the woman wears black leather biker boots. Depending on just how foul the weather is, she may also be wearing black leather gloves, a scarf or a ski mask.

Ygraine hastily scurries to the side, letting Jez squeeze in past her. "Sorry!", she exclaims with an apologetic smile - before cocking her head and peering. "Hello there…"

Jezebel exclaims, "Oh, hi, Ygraine! I'm so sorry. It's freezing, isn't it? Want to split a table?"

Ygraine laughs, expression turning relieved as she nods. "Sure. It's hard to believe I used to live further North than this place. Oh, the joys of a truly temperate climate…."

Jezebel says, "You want to move where I grew up. I'll bet all the snow will melt by Christmas Eve."

Ygraine lifts her brows. "That seems unlikely, given how much of it there's been - but I've never been here through a Winter…." Gathering up her belongings, she moves to a booth, dumping her possessions into the corner before scooting in beside them. "So what's got you out and about in this?"

Jezebel settles down in the other side of the booth, but she's not taking her scarf off yet. "Believe it or not, grocery shopping. Every time I turn around, I need to pick up more ingredients It's disgusting. What brings you out here?"

Ygraine winces, offering her companion a sympathetic look. "Work, in my case. Well… mostly, the desire to do a favour for Alley Cat. Of late, we've not had the sort of weather that's conducive to cyclists surviving, let alone reaching their destination. So I've been grabbing some of the more important contracts, and letting a Triumph take me through the wind and snow rather than trusting to my own abilities."

Jezebel says, "Sounds sensible to me. Other than forays for food, I've been trying to stay indoors. I've got snow tires on the Harley right now, but I still get nervous riding in snow. How have you been handling it?"

Ygraine chuckles. "Fortunately, we're mostly dealing with businesses with more money than sense - so generally, I've not had to take too many trips off the main roads. Generally, I've just been forcing myself to go slow, and trusting to my reflexes. I've spent years riding a pedal-cycle around a velodrome at 40, 50, 60 miles an hour - anything short of black ice, I should be able to handle at 20 or 30 on a motorcycle. Or that's the theory. I've come off twice since that first blizzard hit, both times when some SOB thought it'd be a good idea to plough through a half-melted drift next to me. Once in a bus, once in a truck. Getting hit side-on by a tidal wave of polluted slush is something I'd gladly have missed out on…"

Jezebel sympathizes, "I always hate that. At least you seem to have survived it and that's the important thing. I don't know what to tell you, other than to consider padded ballistic nylon in bright colors." When a server arrives, she orders a bowl of chili and hot chocolate.

Ygraine cracks a grin, then matches Jez's order with an identical one of her own. "My "real" riding gear's buffalo hide. I'm wearing older stuff now, after that first drenching, with the fashion horror that is all-weather waterproofs over the top. I feel like I could be seen in space…."

Jezebel shrugs and says, "You could be anyway. Never underestimate the NSA. If it'll keep you from getting mistaken for a snowdrift, it will be worth it. I hope this is as cold as it will get, I really do. I hate wearing a ski mask."

Ygraine giggles and nods. "Mostly, it just seems to be a new form of the general phenomenon of courier-killing drivers. It's only a small minority, but almost every day someone'll do something that seems chiefly intended to result in a vehicular manslaughter charge."

Jezebel says, "I don't know what to tell you, except that New York is famed for the rudeness of its drivers. Bond-style modifications to your bike really aren't legal, I'm afraid."

Ygraine laughs softly, eyes brightening as the idea clearly strikes a chord. "Oh, that is so tempting. Not that I'd really know how to begin. But… heh. The Tiger's big enough to fit a fair bit in, I suppose, if you had the resources…"

Jezebel grins. "Ah, to have MI6's budget and Q, or R these days, I suppose. I haven't been watching the latest Bond movies. Bland, blond Bond is not allowed." She's sitting with Ygraine in one of the booths.

Ygraine chuckles, shaking her head. "I actually quite like him, to be honest. Not got around to seeing Quantum of Solace yet. Though I'm part of that small minority of hopeless nerds who understood the title without it being explained, so I suppose that I should have done." She's wearing half a suit of luridly-coloured all-weather coveralls, with the upper half and her motorcycle helmet tucked into the corner of the booth beside her.

Out of the cold comes a young man with one of those heavy puffy polyester jackets on and a muffler over his face. He strips the muffler off and also the stocking cap that was on his head, working on the mittens, and looks…rather blond and ruddy, which happens when fair people are bitten by cold. "Nnnnnngaaaahhh…" he mutters to himself, allowing a shiver as he stands and looks around, as if waiting to be seated before he cops to the fact that this is one of those places you can just sit down in and everything takes care of itself. So he heads for the bar and sits with his back to the two ladies in a booth, giving them a friendly smile and nod as he glances their way and then leaves them to their business.

The guy sets his disrobed warm weather items on the stool next to him and works on opening his jacket so he can breathe some. And of course while this happens pretty much everything he put on the barstool falls to the floor. He hasn't noticed yet.

Jezebel calls over, "Excuse me, sir, but all your stuff just hit the floor." She then turns back to Ygraine. "Can solace really be quantized? Anyway, if I want solace, I'll phone Pierce Brosnan."

Ygraine nods to Victor as he passes - then peers around when Jez alerts him to his minor mishap. Glancing back to her companion, she laughs merrily. "He does do suave rather well, doesn't he?", she asks with a broad grin.

Vic's head swivels around and he's having a hell of a time with the zipper on this jacket. He half-turns on the bar stool and looks back at Jezebel, then at the floor. "Oh. Thanks."

And then his elbow knocks over a saltshaker and bottle of syrup on the counter. He glances at that and reaches for it, dumping a napkin dispenser off too because of the overly puffed sleeves of the jacket. "Dammit!" And he starts laughing at himself. At least he's not taking it too seriously.

Jezebel grins from ear to ear. "He does indeed. I love it," she says to Ygraine. Then she calls off to the counter, "Life has to get better, right?"

Ygraine laughs at Jez - then can't help but laugh again, shaking her head as she looks around to see Victor's latest accident. "Oh, dear. I hope he'll be safe with anything he orders. At this rate, he might maim himself with a pastry", she murmurs to Jez with a wink.

"I heard that." grouses Vic genially as he stops moving altogether and takes a moment just to look around. "All right…all right…what am I touching?" He cranes his neck to look around and carefully raises his arms from the bar. Then just takes his jacket off carefully, leaning back from the bar slightly to do it. Then he has to get off the stool completely to pick up his things and try to get the napkin dispenser off the floor. He takes a surprising amount of care trying to get everything right like it was before he blew through like a hurricane. "Go ahead. Laugh it up." he says, giving the two ladies a grin.

Jezebel tells Victor, "I wouldn't be quite that cruel, but if you have another accident I'm going to assume you're Inspector Clouseau." Speaking of orders, the chili and hot chocolate arrive safely at the booth.

Ygraine giggles even as she nods her thanks to the waitress, quickly cradling her mug of hot chocolate in her hands. "Ahhh, warmth", she murmurs appreciatively, before looking around to flash a grin of her own at Victor. "Maybe you're safe now…"

Vic stops the waitress with an "Excuse me?" and then asks her for hot tea. When she's gone off to get that order he asides to Jez and Ygraine, "I'm feeling adventurous. Hi. I'm really not this clumsy. It's this jacket. You gotta believe me." He looks to a nearby open booth and throws the jacket on an unused bench there, followed swiftly by his other warm things. "Let's try this again…"

Jezebel says to Victor, "Best of luck," then digs into her chili. "Ah, much better," she agrees. "Maybe I won't freeze solid on the way home."

Ygraine chuckles at Victor, then smirks at Jez. "I hope that chilli doesn't work the same way alcohol does, and just give you a false sense of warmth. I should really find out." For the moment, at least, she seems content to do so through practical experimentation.

Vic sits at the bar, once again trying to be the polite stranger that doesn't impose on the ladies behind him. And he avoids knocking everything over. But now he's not doing anything interesting and sits there rapidly getting bored. This becomes a problem because he's a fidgetter, and slowly reaches for a toothpick dispenser across the bar. Then he begins very deliberately taking toothpicks out one at a time and making little figures and stuff with them on the bar while he waits for tea.

Jezebel tells Ygraine between bites of chili, "They'll both raise your temperature and make you sweat. The problem with ethanol is that it also slows down your circulation, which means you'll get colder in the end."

Ygraine quirks a wry smile. "I know a fair amount about _good_ nutrition, but less about the stuff I shouldn't eat while trying to stay in competitive shape. How to combine things to produce beneficial effects, sure. Quite _why_ booze is bad for your heat-retention, I never needed to learn…"

When the waitress comes with Vic's tea she looks at the scene on the bar.

On the counter top is a little toothpick house (this is all 2-dimensional, it's not a sculpture). It has little stick people around it, with toothpicks appropriately broken here and there to make round heads when needed. There's a stick dog and what was supposed to be a stick cat but looks like another stick dog anyway. And there's a stick car.

"You're not supposed to use up the toothpicks." she chides Vic with kind of an attitude. Because it's New York and people have attitudes here.

"Oh." says Vic, a little deflated. Because he was rather proud of the stick-montage. "Can I have my tea?"

The waitress leaves the tea and shakes her head, going back to what she's supposed to be doing.

Jezebel says, "It's bad for a number of things, really. Chili is much better for you. Even traditional comfort food won't take over your liver."

Ygraine chuckles again,, then glances around once more as she catches the tone in which the waitress speaks to Victor. She frowns a touch, trying to work out quite what passed between them, then looks back to Jez. "I spent a lot of time eating as ordered - what, when, how much, with what drink…. We had to make sure that everything was carefully sourced, lest a drug test be thrown off by something. I certainly couldn't eat a lot of the US meat products while I was here. Now… I'm a bit less careful, but some of the habits stay with me."

Of course Vic overhears everything the ladies are saying. None of it's directed at him, so he tries his tea. And it's too hot to drink, but alas he didn't realize that until some was already burning his tongue. With a little half-gag he sets the tea down and swallows what he sipped, then coughs a lot. Because that hurt. And now his tongue hurts! "Man I'm never coming here again. This place is cursed." he says, talking to himself. Though it is quite audible.

Jezebel keeps eating and talking. "That must have been very strange," she says to Ygraine. "I've heard of training tables, but that sounds absurd. I had no idea that lots of meat has additives that will throw a drug test off. Then again, I've heard that eating poppy seed vinaigrette on a salad the day before a drug test will throw the test off."

Ygraine laughs, then shrugs. "It wasn't considered worth the risk. If I remember right, the use of steroids in cattle-raising is meant to be more heavily regulated now - but the US certainly used to allow things that were viewed with great suspicion on the other side of the Pond. And if you source your meat locally, and can track it from supplier to plate, you can be as sure as possible that it's not been tampered with or suffered an accident." Looking around, she quirks another grin at Victor. "Maybe you're just a nexus of chaos", she calls to him.

Vic turns a little to look at Ygraine, face a picture of frustration. "Yeah. I think I'm having a bad day." he agrees. But noticing her grin he catches one of his own and says, "Thanks."

Jezebel comments as she finishes her food, "I'd rather eat steroids than prions." She leaves the money for her food on the table. "I hate to run, but if I don't get going soon the roads will be solid blocks of ice. Merry Christmas and don't freeze!" On that note, Jezebel bundles up and hurries out.

Ygraine nods to Jez, bidding her a Merry Christmas as well, before settling down to polish off her own chilli, then tuck into her hot chocolate, the other side of her booth now empty…

Well, since her friend left and the one that was talking to him is alone, Vic decides to try being friendly. "You're from England?" he hazards, turning to face her a little more fully, blowing on his tea to cool it.

Ygraine glances around, then chuckles and nods, wobbling one hand in the air. "Yes and no. I've lived and studied in various parts of Britain, but mostly grew up in Edinburgh."

"I'd love to go there. Never been." laments Vic. He pauses a beat and says, "My name's Vic, by the way. It's nice to meet you."

"Ygraine", provides the woman with a grin. "And yes, it's an odd name, even over there."

"It's a Knights of the Round Table name." says Vic with a grin, watching her. "That's really your name?"

Ygraine blinks, then laughs. "You actually recognised it? And yes. In many of the earliest Welsh legends, it's the name of Arthur's mother - but no one knows where it comes from or what it means. Dad's a linguistics professor, and he apparently fancied being a little flamboyant and off-the-wall."

"Well I didn't know all that stuff, I just think I…" Vic pauses, looking a little abashed. He sips his tea and mutters quietly, "…heard it on Prince Valiant once…"

Ygraine giggles, shaking her head. "Well, you're doing better than most, wherever you heard it. And most people don't even know what their own names mean, or where they came from, let alone obscure ones from 1200 year-old legends."

"Well since my name's Victor it's like…Roman Latin for winner, I'm pretty sure. So somebody named you after King Arthur's mom. That's a whole lot more creative than naming your kid Winner." Vic makes a silly face and puts an L on his forehead. "I'm a winner!"

Ygraine laughs merrily. "I suppose it's suitably… positive-thinking to be American, even if it's nearly as old-fashioned as my own name. Still, my surname's FitzRoy - Norman French for "son of the king", which probably influenced Dad to be punny…"

"Oh if we get into last names, mine's Childs." Vic chuckles though. He points at where Jezebel was sitting before and asks, "Do you mind if I…?"

Ygraine shakes her head. "No, no. Feel free. And it might take you away from more opportunities for mayhem at the counter", she teases.

Vic glances over his shoulder for the waitress and says, "I think she'd like that. She doesn't seem to appreciate me using up the toothpicks." He hovers down into the seat opposite Ygraine and asks with a pleasant smile, "So what do you do, Ygraine?"

"Bicycle courier. Though, in this weather, motorcycle courier. I've been picking up some of the contracts the pedal cyclists really don't want to - or can't - tackle at the moment. I work for Alley Cat Couriers. Yourself?" Ygraine watches Victor over the rim of her mug, sipping carefully at her hot chocolate.

"I'm a college student trying to get on at NYU since I left UCLA. I grew up around here but it just wasn't working out for me in California." Explaining all this is just a little shameful to Vic. Like he's disappointed in himself or something. His eyes cut to the table. "I actually need to get work here somehow."

Ygraine cocks her head, offering a slow shrug as she studies her youthful companion. "Normally, I'd suggest checking out Alley Cat - but in this weather, you really need to be sure about tackling it. And confident on a bike."

Something in Vic's eyes read that what Ygraine just said was funny to him. "Oh yeah?" he asks, as if amused. "They pay well?"

Ygraine lifts a brow, then nods. "Yeah. Most of the courier companies do, if you're any good. The city's not the friendliest of places to ride, and particularly at the moment, there's a shortage of good riders willing to cover the whole area. Naturally, if you don't have a bike already, it can cost a fair bit to get kitted out…"

December 22nd: Futures Craved
December 22nd: Info Dump
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