Waffle Palace Swing and a Miss
The long wool tartan skirt swished around her ankles as they spun to lean up against the wall outside of the Palace. Green, blue, and grey from their sweater. They looked a bit brighter than they normally did. Like they were trying to impress someone. But there was something of a dead look in their dark green eyes. A hand shoved roughly into a hidden pocket in the skirt and they pulled out a pack of cigarettes, tapping out one, popping it between their lips.

Other pocket, lighter. Flick, flick, flick. It lit up and gave warm light to the end of the cigarette. Christmas took a long drag and blew it out of the corner of their lips. Another failed interview. Which was fine. They didn't want to work there anyway, but they were fielding home visits from the super, slipping loose 20s in envelopes under his door. Their already meager savings was dwindling and, shamefully, they'd called old mom and stepdad earlier last week for a bit of a loan to keep the water and lights on.

The taste of acrid smoke mixed with lingering orange flavor. At least they'd offered her a drink. Get those all important C vitamins. The door jingled as a customer (or maybe someone that interviewed after them -- they didn't bother to look at the face) strolled out, and Chris finally looked up.


Katya was the type of chick to ask someone why they were staring. It was literally as simple as that. She could probably trace the habit back to being a means to combat straight boys in high school, but like, look. Life wasn’t always that meaningful and philosophical.

Sometimes people just did shit because they did shit.

So after the door jingled, and after the wind swept her hair towards her face, she noticed the stare-er. ”What?” Katya asked openly, blowing her bangs back to where they belonged.
Ok. It didn't matter who it was now, because she just popped off. Alright, Miss Spikey Silhouette.

"Reflex." Chris pursed their lips and popped the cigarette between them. She was cute though. Probably the wind-swept hair. A thin trail of smoke was expelled from the corner of her mouth, away from the both of them, and they crossed their arms across their chest, gently tapping out the cigarette. "Business or pleasure?" Because they really couldn't remember seeing her in there.
Wasn’t she a cool cat. Katya glanced from her face to her arms, watching her body language, before shoving her hands into her pockets with a lighthearted scoff.

Who the fuck did business at Waffle Palace?

”Business. I just sold like... half a bag of coke.” It was total bullshit, obviously, but she emitted deadpan and edgy vibes anyway. Her cream beanie probably didn’t work in her favour though.
Christmas just stared at her for a few seconds after that exquisite delivery. Either way, true or false, it was funny as hell. Their face split into a shit-eating grin.

"Yeah? Where'd the other half go?" Another half-assed drag from the cigarette. "I always wondered about their powdered sugar."
Fuck. Fuck.

Katya broke character just a bit. And, feeling like her words were inviting enough, she joined her in leaning up against the wall.

”The other half’s... on the way.”
Hold it together there, windy.

"If you know when I'd really appreciate it." Chris lifted their eyebrows to really sell the bit.

Tapping the dead ash off the end, they held it up. "Christmas. This bother you?"
She didn't end up breaking character. Not totally, because the following words kinda distracted her.

Katya blinked a few times, allowing about three seconds of silence to pass before, "Uhh. No." Very sure. "Why would Christmas bother me?" Kinda fucking random to be talking about Christmas in January. Though today was, technically, Orthodox Christmas.
Chris looked at the cigarette and then at the woman. Right. Fuck.

"I meant the cigarette. I'm, heh, Christmas. Chris." They pulled from it again anyway, still blowing the smoke away from them both. They pressed the lit end of the stub against the wall.
Chris... like Cris. She let that fact be overshadowed in favour of straightening up against the wall, apologetic.

"Oh, shit. Sorry," a small laugh escaped her. "That was so fucking rude. My bad."
"Nah, you're fine. You're not the first." They pulled an empty pack from their pocket and dropped the dead butt into it. "Just had an interview. Wasn't sure if you'd been next on the list or not."
Katya glanced to the establishment and then back to Chris. No offence, but she looked too fucking fly for Waffle Palace. "At this shithole?" Katya asked. Which was probably insanely rude, but like. "What kinda qualifications have you got?"
She wasn't wrong. Though their waffles were pretty good. And money was money. Chris just smirked and adjusted their shoulder on the wall.

"I've done a bunch of shit. You looking for someone?" Stranger probably wasn't looking for a rocket scientist outside of a Waffle Palace, if she was looking at all.
"Oh, naw. I don't own anything, but I can probs hook you up, at least for an interview." She shrugged, not looking to be forceful. "You into retail? Or... bartending? Or front desk shit?"
They had to think about it for a minute. Retail, nah. Desk work, doable. Christmas bartended before. Casual. Like one of those catering open bar tenders. It was fun though. The drunker fancy people got, the better drinks they asked for.

"Don't ask me to flip shakers, but I can bartend."
Flip shakers was some lingo that went in one ear and out the other. "Cool, well. My friend owns a bar. Two, actually, so... one's called the Terrace and one's called the Cove. Hawknell and Ridgefield. I bet you can like, apply online, and just say you know me or some shit if you want. I bet she pays fair too."
Swaggy. Two bars. Yeah, she'd heard of them. Hadn't really been around, though.

"Shit, thanks." Nice of her. A stranger. Who hadn't even mentioned her name that they were supposed to give said friend. "Your name though? And, uh, your friend's. Didn't mention it."
"Katya. And she's called Asha," she provided with ease. And then her eyes wandered to the skirt Chris had on. It didn't do her any good if the goal was to look younger, but yeah. She definitely had a vibe. Katya could see her bartending at either of those hotspots.
"Think Asha'd be offended if I just walked over there and applied?" Or were they just so swamped with applicants that it was definitely online only? Regardless, Chris would probably just go there in person. Best to just get it out of the way. Hit the pavement. Let them see your face. Smile and nod when they just told you to go apply online without looking up from their computer inventories.
For all the time she'd known Asha, she was a chick that rolled with the punches. They all had to be, given their lifestyle.

"Go for it. You'll probably have better luck finding her at the Cove, though. It's like... bigger, so there's more to take care of."
Mental note: The Cove. Maybe they'd stop by later. After this. Already was dressed for success.

Uh. Or interviews, at least. Christmas adjusted their shoulders on the bricks.

"What do you do?" Katya seemed very good at networking. Most folks didn't walk out of restaurants, engage with strangers, and help them find jobs.
"I've done like, all kinds of crap," she summarised, pressing her hands a little deeper into the pockets of her jacket. "But I've been seamstressing for about half a year now. This pretty fancy place took me in, and it's going. No complaints."
A woman after their own heart, doing a bunch of random jobs until the right one came along. Hooking up a fellow crap-jobber.

"Like pants and wedding dresses?" Hems and bodices and shut. At some point in school, they'd been made to learn some sort of home economic garbage. Maybe they could fix a hole in a shirt, but there was an 80% chance of that hole reappearing.
”Like suits and fancy dresses, yeah. We do like period stuff, and also more... fantasy.” It was weird when spoken out loud. ”I’d never wear any of it but that’s what makes it kinda fucking fun, honestly.”

Katya, in general, wore heels like twice a year. But she did have an eye for things sooo. Yeah.

”You into that stuff? Dressing up.”
"Aw fuck yeah, like renaissance fairs?" Chris had never been into that kinda shit, but it was always fun to admire it when you scrolled past it somewhere in the depths of the internet. One of those "deep thought" moments, too, when you just realized that someone had to make that, and it probably wasn't a machine.

"Oh, no, this is about as fancy as I get." Hands shoved into hidden skirt pockets. "Sounds like delicate work."
She nodded to the first bit. Pretty much.

To the second bit, she laughed. "That's me," Katya admitted. Delicate.
"Delicate?" Christmas scoffed. "With that hair flip and you squared up with a stranger on the street."

They gave the woman a little cock of the head. "That's some BCE."
Her gaze hardened out of curiosity. Her lips pouted to the side, look deadly. ”Some WHAT.”
"Big coochie energy." Christmas laughed and leaned their head back against the brick wall.
WHAT. She’d been prepared to beat her up (not really), but now she was like!!? Flattered.

”What the fuck. You can’t just like- drop that,” Katya chOkeD the words out.
"I just call them like I see them," Christmas looked over at Katya with a small nod and a brief realization. "Were you on your way somewhere?"
Yeah, yeah. Okay. She laughed breezily.

”Home, probably. Why? You up for something?”
Oh, that wasn't what she'd meant at all, mostly just the swish with which she'd left the restaurant. Katya must've been going somewhere.

"Thought I caught you on something. Was probably going to hit the nearest liquor store and start refreshing my mixology skills." Christmas pulled her hands free and wiggled her fingers. When did one stop being a bartender and start becoming a mixologist?
Did someone say... alcohol?

Katya glanced suspiciously to the right, and then to the left. ”Since I’m doing you like, such a huge favour...” she drew out adorably. ”You should gimme a free lesson.”

Her eyes landed on Chris’, chin and brows lifted. Uh-huh.
Christmas scoffs, pushing off of the wall. They look either way down the sidewalk. Which way, which way...

"What's your usual?" They ask, easily giving in to the underhanded sweetness. How could they say no to that face?
Margarita was the answer, except she’d learned how to make that. So. So so so. ”One of those long island iced teas? Or like, a mule.” Nod nod.
The question was what did they already have at home? Vodka, probably, whiskey, duh. Not a lot of mixers. And a mule was...ginger beer and lime? Long Islands were easy.

"Guess I have a lot to stock up on." Hopefully Katya's recommendation would sail them into new employment, cause drinks were pricey. "I might even have a copper mug lying around somewhere."
”Is that like...” She pointed comically down one way of the sidewalk. ”Are you inviting big coochie energy over for drinks?”
"Just cause I owe her one." Christmas gave Katya a sly smile that definitely bordered on a smize. Fuck the Waffle Palace. This was much better.
She grinned, scrunching her nose up with the sweet sense of success. Get invited to a random chick’s place? Check.

”Kay. You gotta car, or we wanna take mine? Hit up the liquor store first and then.” And then all the rest.
"I walked," Chris confirmed and would let Katya lead the way.
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