1964-04-01 - Ninette Meets Sofia
Summary: After doing a set in the nightclub where she works, Ninette meets Sofia at the bar.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
ninette sofia 

It's a smoky club in Manhattan, mid to upper scale. The lights are dim save for the spotlight on a stage, where there stands a blonde in a long dress, all black and sequins twinkling like starlight. Her lips are cherry red, and on her hands are elbow-length white gloves. She's got a voice like a nightingale, singing Peggy Lee's 'Why Don't You Do Right.'

At the bar is an elegant dark haired woman in a black dress of her own. She wears long, lacy black evening gloves that pass her elbow and her lips painted red, wavy tresses framing her shoulders. Right now the woman is sipping on a drink and watching the wage, an eyebrow lofted. She's exotic and thus noticeable- by virtue of her ethnicity, if not her beauty. And alone, which is rare enough. Sofia doesn't seem to mind it , at least. Ninette has her full attention.

Ninette catches Sofia's eye as she sings, and though her gaze drifts on, she almost smiles. Almost. That sweet voice hangs in the air after that last, "Why don't you do right, like some other men do." The last word sung high, of course. She gets a round of applause and her share of wolf-whistles. She casts a velvety look to a few men in the front row as she makes her way offstage. Another performer comes to set up, some man thinking he's Frank Sinatra. Ninette reappears, making her way across the bar, where she settles beside Sofia. "Martini." Her voice carries a French accent.

Sofia might not even have noticed when she switched from English to French. To judge by accent and command of the language she might be a native speaker, in fact, albeit Lyonnaise. "Good evening," the woman murmurs in a smooth, rich mezzo-soprano voice. She takes another sip of her drink and adjusts how she's seated slightly to orient herself on Ninette, however subtly. Another sip of her drink follows. "Do you perform here often?"

Ninette's is pure Parisian. She slips into her mother tongue readily. Finally, someone who speaks a civilized language. "Two days a week and weekends," she replies. She regards Sofia sidelong, toe to tip. "You're got the voice of a singer," she adds. "Do you perform?" She nods to the bartender as he sets a martini before her.

Sofia hesitates for a split second but then she gives her head a faint shake, laughing softly as she does. "No. I used to," she admits as she tilts her head. Brown eyes study Ninette's face intently for a moment and then she moves to fold her hands in her lap. Sofia is, from toe to tip, elegant. She's Filipino, which is remarkable, with a nice figure that is hinted at, rather than shown, by the long dress. She's petite without being tiny, and athletic without being muscular. A lot of judgments can be made. Sofia returns the look before her eyes return to Ninette's. "But that was awhile ago. Now I like to listen."

Ninette tilts her head, causing her hair to cascade over her shoulder, all golden waves. They don't get much whiter. Her smile is slight, and though she's somewhat miserly with it, her attention remains on the woman. If she notices the looks the pair of them get, she doesn't dignify them. "That's a shame. Why did you stop?"

"Just… Out of time. Not sure anyone was listening," Sofia responds in a musing voice. Though her attention is also on her drink Ninette is the only other person in the world right now. Sofia keeps her eyes polite, largely focused on the singer's face. "It feels like it was another life, honestly. Besides- Jazz is out, and I don't think that Hadley was ever a club composer. Mmm." That draws a quiet smile from Sofia, which she douses with a sip of her drink.

"I find it hard to believe," Ninette says. "That they would not listen to you." There's another faint smile, and she considers before he says, "Maybe you're right about jazz. The older men like to hear it still, and they're usually the ones with the most money." She takes up her martini. "To music," she says, then she takes a drink. Then she sets it down and offers her hand. "Ninette," she says. "Ninette Laurent."

"To music. How apropos." Sofia 's smile intimates a laugh without actually sharing it and she lifts the glass to take a sip and conclude the toast. Afterward she is quick to take Ninette's hand and delicately return the greeting. Squeezing handshakes are for American boardrooms. "Sofia Mendoza." Ninette might recognize the name as Spanish, even if Sofia largely isn't. "I never really sang for the older men, though. Not really. What do you liek to sing when you don't have to worry about prying eyes judging you, or a paycheck?" Now the brunette sets her glass aside and folds her hands into her lap once more.

Ninette spares a glance toward the men, the ones with money. Her lips press thin, briefly. She dismisses them with a small shake of her head. "Opera," she says. "But not for anyone else. They can have rehashed contemporary lounge tunes. We must save the good things for ourselves. They'll take that, too." She takes another sip from her drink. "Where are you from, Sofia?" It might be forward to ask, but there's nothing forceful in her voice about it.

"Manila. Quezon City. The Philippines." Sofia answers without a lot of emphasis, pursing her lips slightly as she does. She gives a slow nod at Ninette's words, tilting her head slightly. "People take and take and take… Nice to have something to yourself. I'd like to hear it though. You're from… Paris, I presume? What brought you here?"

Ninette ah quietly. "I've never been," she says. "Is it lovely, the Philippines? Another moment's consideration, her attention fading out vaguely, then she nods slowly and says, "It's all right, as long as one's not giving away what's there's to people who can't appreciate it. And yes, I'm from Paris." She regards Sofia again. "I came here to perform at the clubs in New York."

"The Philippines… Mmm. It's a hot jungle, truth be told." Sofia laughs softly at that, shifting her weight slightly on her stool. "I have fond memories but- you probably wouldn't consider it extraordinarily beautiful, no. The food is excellent." She seems to find this fairly amusing and shrugs her shoulders lightly. "Are you done performing for the night…?"

"I've never done well in hot climes," Ninette admits, "but it sounds exotic, and exotic can be lovely." She takes another drink, small sips but frequent ones. "That's what I miss most from Paris," Ninette says. "The food. These Americans, they eat like pigs." She sniffs a little. Then she nods as she says, "Yes, I'm done for the night." She waves a hand toward the stage, dismissing it.

"The food in the Philippines is- Different. From American foood and French cuisine both." There's a soft laugh from Sofia who has finally relaxed enough to let her hands fall to her sides instead of her lap once she's drained her glass. "Since I moved to the United States I've taken up cooking, actually… Bring home a bit of Milan or Paris whenever the mood suits."

Ninette finishes off her drink, leaving the olive, and she says, "Do you cook like they do in Paris?" she asks, and she gives Sofia another appraising look. "I would die for filet mignon not overcooked, and real wine that pairs with it. Nothing so staid as Merlot." She shudders delicately. "So terrible."

"Well. I think I can manage," Sofia responds, a smile teasing across her lips as she does so. She glances between their glasses and then gives a slow shrug. "I keep some interesting wines. French or… Spanish, often. I can cook nearly anything. Thank goodness for the Joy of Cooking." The appraising look is met as Ninette's gaze is rising toward Sofia's face and the brunette holds it for a second. "You sound as if they've been torutring you here," she teases gently, still smiling.

"There are some acceptable Spanish wines," Ninette says. High praise from the Parisian. Then she gives the lounge a look around, though her gaze dims, goes vague, like it's more than the bar she's considering in her perusal. "It's not Paris," she says eventually. "But Paris is too much Paris. There's no balance in between. I've only been here a year. I'm waiting for culture shock to wear off."

Sofia nods faintly at that statement. "I've been here several months but I've managed to memorize the street maps at least," she notes with a soft laugh. "Before that I was in Los Angeles, and that still feels like home. Every place is pretty different, though. They all have their moments. People talk about a place as if it's the center of the world. If not Paris then New York City. If not New York then Hollywood. Or Milan. Or Rome. I find it interesting just how similar they all are when you get past how different they seem to be." She shrugs very slowly. "I think I might step outside for a moment, however. All of the smoke is starting to make my eyes water." With that Sofia takes a deep breath and slowly comes to her feet.

Ninette says, "Hollywood has always appealed to me, all the movies and glamour, but I don't do so well in the warmer climes." She watches Sofia rise, then says, "Hey," letting her poise slip just a little as she tries to get the other woman's attention. "Thank you. For talking to me. These creeps get on my nerves, and this was pleasant."

Sofia pauses then and takes a slow breath. Her gaze shifts back to Ninette's face and she smiles quietly. "It's always nice to meet someone who understands. Thank you as well…" She exhales carefully, tasting the tobacco tainted air swirling around her. "I can't come to clubs like this too often. The- people… Mostly. But I'm glad I visited tonight…" She glances toward the door then, her expression thoughtful. "If you'd like to talk a little bit longer you could step outside with me? I just need a breath of fresh air. Or as fresh as it gets around here, at least."

Had Sofia been a man, Ninette would've refused outright. It's not a good idea to follow strange men anywhere alone. On the way out, she gets her fur coat from the checker. It's white, and it drapes loosely off her shoulders. "I think I am done here tonight," she say. "So yes, let us go outside."

Sofia clears her throat briefly, frowning. She is watching a particularly virulent cloud of smoke swirl past, courtesy of a man in his middle forties who is waving a cigar about while he chats up a similarly dressed gentlemen to his left. She shrugs then and starts toward the front of the club with careful strides. When they reach the door Sofia opens it and steps aside to allow Ninette past. "To be honest, I don't know how people put up with that much tobacco in one place," she notes mildly as they are departing.

Ninette walks out, ignoring the drunken, "Hey, ladies…" that comes from one of the men with the cigars and loud voices. "One gets used to it," she says. "I barely notice it anymore. The cigarettes, it's the cigars that make me sick, and they all think blowing smoke in your face will make you like them." She wrinkles her nose. But then, outside in the fresh air (or as fresh as it gets in New York), she takes a deep breath and lets it out, the air frosted from her lips. "This is better."

Sofia takes a deep breath as well the moment they clear the bar. She freezes for a second when the catcalls start but does not look back despite the tension in her shoulders. There's a second taken to enjoy the air , with Sofia's weight swaying slightly from left to right. "The cigars are the worst," she agrees in a voice that is just louder than a whisper. "I never get used to it. Not really. I feel like I tried to eat an ashtray. Being with a smoker is one thing. But fifty?" She shrugs her shoulders slowly then. "So why did you come join me at the bar? Colour me curious. You seem like the sort of person who does everything for a reason…"

"I never cared for it," Ninette admits. "Smoking. It's like breathing sandpaper." She nestles into her fur coat, and she watches people coming and going from the club with the alertness of someone who likes to know where everyone in the room is, and yet the casualness of someone who doesn't want everyone in the room to know that. "I didn't want anyone to join me," she says. "I didn't feel like blowing off men who should be home with their wives instead of buying a drink for a woman half their age." She adds with a glance to Sofia, "You seemed nice."

"…Ah." Sofia is good at hiding it but there's a sense of faint trepidation there. She isn't a conversationalist normally and it shows in subtle ways. She lets that sit for a second and takes another breath, looking up toward the sky overhead. "That's as good a reason as any, I guess," she admits in a somewhat thoughtful tone. "You know, looking up here… If the lights weren't as bright. Cassiopeia would be right there. Sitting on her throne after she chained her daughter, Andromeda, to a stone to be sacrificed." She lifts a finger to point. "And Perseus is there, staging a rescue. I, ah. Used to spend a lot f time looking up at the stars." A faintly rueful smile follows that pronouncement.

Ninette looks up, and a faint smile touches her lips, though her eyes remain distant and calculating. Just. Not as much as usual, just now. "They are beautiful," she says. "A pity the city is so bright. It makes me want to take a car out of town and find somewhere quiet, just to know what it's like and maybe see the stars."

"I've actually meant to do that," Sofia notes with a soft laugh. "Somehow I never find the time." This is stated casually while she continues to regard the stars. "But I can picture them. Right now, even. If there were a power outage the whole sky would light up." With that Sofia is shifting her weight slightly form left to right while she continues to study the shiftless night sky.

Ninette lowers her gaze to Sofia. "Yes, I imagine so. What a pity there's no outage. She glances around again, just keeping those around them in her sights, no matter how far away. "What keeps you from doing it?" she asks. "Taking a car and just driving?"

"I don't know," Sofia admits after a few seconds of thought. "Normally I'd say work or practicality, but really…" She shrugs again, if only faintly. "I had the whole night this time. And I can get a car. So in the end… I guess I am." She tilts her head slightly. Ninette might notice Sofia does glance around briefly but she seems to barely even taking note of people before letting her eyes continue on. Ninette and the night sky are both far more interesting.

Ninette does return her attention to Sofia once she's aware of where everyone is. And everything. Places to bolt, places to use for cover. "I don't have a car," Ninette says. "And I would get lost in the countryside. That's why I don't go. I suppose work as well. I have to be back here tomorrow." She considers, then admits, "I get to come back, not have to. It's a good club. I came halfway around the world to sing in it."

"And I came halfway around the world to stop singing," Sofia responds rather quietly. Then she is giving a faint nod, glancing down the street as she does. "There's plenty of time left tonight," she muses quietly. "Your set finished fairly early tonight. Same time tomorrow?"

"More or less," Ninette replies. Another thing she'd never say to a man: where she'll be and when. She tilts her head, studying Sofia. "I don't understand that," she admits. "Giving up singing. It's the only time I feel like I'm part of the world, when I'm up there."

"I guess I just felt like I had other things I had to do. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I'd done what you did and just dropped everything to pursue my music? I don't know." Sofia shakes her head slowly, brunette tresses framing her movements, brushing against her shoulders. "You're right, though. It doesn't always feel… Right." Sofia isn't looking at Ninette for once, gaze affixed to the ground for a few seconds.

"There wasn't very much to drop," Ninette says with a wry twist of her painted lips. "I had sung the clubs in Paris, and I felt it was time for a change." According to her dossier, she inherited her father's business at age sixteen, sold the company, and took care of herself from then on. She's got money. The singer studies Sofia when her eyes are downcast. "Sometimes I think some people aren't suited to the world they're born into."

"I don't know. Maybe not. I manage but it doesn't mean it doesn't feel… Off." A quiet laugh follows, smooth and rich, and then she slowly looks up to once again meet Ninette's gaze. "Playing the cards I was dealt, I suppose. And you… I have a feeling you've got a story behind this. Penny for your thoughts? Or five."

"I suppose that's all we can do," Ninette says softly. She smiles, and the expression comes off more sad than happy. "My story isn't a good one," she says. She casts her gaze to the pavement, and she plucks at a bit of loose fluff on her coat's sleeve. "I've been on my own since I was sixteen. There is no one, so I learned to take care of myself. I found out the hard way that the world is a cold place, and you have to be colder."

"There is warmth hidden in it. But… I understand. You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to." Sofia shakes her head then. It's her turn to study Ninette while the blonde's gaze is turned downward. She exhales slowly, condensed breath curling from her lips. "But I'l listen if you'd rather."

Ninette says with a tic of her lips, "There isn't much else to say. I was a trusting little girl, and now I'm not." She lifts her gaze to Sofia, and she adds, tentatively, "I'm sorry, I'm not good at making friends. It isn't you, you've been lovely."

"I'm not good at talking to people. The fact I'vem anaged so far…" There's another of those soft laughs from Sofia, who nods as her eyes meet Ninette's. Her quiet, robust voice is firm, a rueful smile working its way across her lips as she adds gently, "You've been good enough at it so far. I'm just running out of ways to pretend i havean idea of what to say."

Ninette smiles at that. "It's all right. We don't have to be clever. It's nice to get out of the club early and talk to someone who doesn't treat me like a little girl he could take advantage of." All of her victims have been men, save for one wife in an incident that could be considered self-defense. "I don't have any friends in the city. It's nice to find someone to talk to."

"It really is." Sofia's smile soften at that and she gives a faint nod. Then there's a huff of white breath and she looks upward once more, studying the sky over her head. "So. Do you live far? If you don't mind the company I would be happy to escort you home."

Ninette shakes her head and says, "No, I only live a few blocks that way." She nods up the street. "And it would be nice not to have to walk alone. What about you? Will you get home safely?" She glances toward the men milling outside the club. "I don't hate them all," she mentions. "It's just that all it takes is one to be a problem." The look in her eyes, though, that's not fear. That's ice. One might get the idea she has no trouble getting home safely.

"I'll be safe enough. I had a lot of practice on the streets in the Philippines. Some of them were much worse than New York City tends to be. This side of forty-fifth, at least." Sofia shrugs at that but then she cocks her head and looks over toward the men in question. Then she is burying her hands into her pockets and turning toward the street. "Shall we? I actually live in that direction as well. Just- a bit further."

Ninette makes her way up the street along with Sofia. Her flat isn't in a bad neighborhood, not bad at all. On paper, she's rich, but this is hardly penthouse territory. "I've learned to take care of myself," she says. Then, with a smile, she adds, "If you cultivate the right look, they won't even come over." By demonstration, she shoots the next couple of guys they pass the coldest of the icy looks. Without a word, they avoid the pair with a quickness. The ice melts in a blink as Ninette looks back to Sofia. "Just be colder than they are."

"Mmm." Sofia nods at that and takes a deep breath. She tilts her head then, watching as people are walking past them with her hands buried into the pockets of her coat. The advice is given a nod but the quieter, mild-mannered Sofia doesn't respond otherwise. Not immediately. Instead she seems to be contemplating as she lets Ninette lead her up to the flat in question. Finally she responds with, "I don't know if I could do that. I know a few ways to defend myself, though."

"I don't know how to fight," Ninette admits. "I admire women who do." She walks along, unhurried, her heels clicking on the pavement. "I've had to learn to use what I've got. I suppose we all do." She lives about five blocks up, and she nods the tenement as they get closer. "This is mine. So what do you do if you don't sing?"

"Office work mostly," Sofia responds with a wry laugh. "I'm a translator, among other things. Really, singing wasn't paying the bills. That's a large part of it." She shifts her weight slightly from left to right as they are approaching the building. Once at the doorway Sofia turns to properly face Ninette. "I could teach you if you want to learn. Safer to walk home that way. I've had some experience with- mmm. Sharing my skills, I guess."

"Ah, French and something else, maybe? To English? Spanish, I think." She faces Sofia, bundling in her coat, her breath still frosty. "I'd like that," she says. "To learn. Sometimes the glare doesn't stop them. When shall I see you again?"

"Spanish. Tagalog. French. Mandarin. Cantonese… German. Italian. Ah…" There's a soft laugh and then Sofia blinks a couple times. She tilts her head and continues sheepishly with, "I learn quickly. It's just a talent I have. Anyway. When shall you see me again? I…" A beat follows and Sofia adds slowly, "I was going to be at the club tomorrow night. It might not be practical to train then, of course. Phone number?"

Ninette takes a pen from her clutch and a cocktail napkin she has folded there. There are lipstick marks on it, but it's otherwise clean. She writes a number down on it and says, "Here we are. You can find me at the club on weekends, regardless, and Tuesday and Wednesday. She offers the napkin over with a small smile. "I look forward to learning."

"I look forward to teaching. I'll call in the morning?" That smile has returned. Sofia looks the phone number over briefly and then tucks it into her coat, brows furrowing gently. "Goodnight, Ninette." She's ready to leave, though she waits in case the blonde as anything else to say. Clearly Sofia isn't in a hurry to go.

Ninette nods and says, "Please. I'll be home all morning." She gives Sofia's shoulder a light touch, one that doesn't freeze, though maybe that's what the gloves are for. "I'll talk to you then." She then turns to walk up the stairs leading to the door. She glances back and gives a little wave before she steps inside.

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