Date: May 27, 2010
A trio of brawlers rack up perfect scores.
"Three for Three"
Brawler's Headquarters, The Bronx
The Brawler's Headquarters is somewhere that's formed a bit of a second home for Ophelia. There were quite a few sentimental feelings attached to it, and even though she wasn't the same person she used to be and the people she used to hang around were long gone… the place still had its draws.
The rings were nicely tidied up, some of them occupied with fighters, while others stand around outside of rings, watching. Quite a few people are crowded around what looks like a bar. Ophelia herself, however, lingers near the back of the room, working out with a punching bag.
Meanwhile, in the ring nearest the bar, Stefano… isn't doing too well. Flopping backward, eyes crossing, he presents his opponent with a wide-open target as he leans back into the ropes— until, at the last second, he drops the act and lays the man out with a single right hook. Chalk up yet another win for rope-a-dope.
Afterward, he's quick to duck back out to the floor, mopping up his sweat with a towel that's seen even worse days than his wifebeater has - he appreciates a good fight as much as the next guy, but he's not an addict. Not like Emilio, one of his crew members who needed to get it out of his system bad, and suggested this place as the way to do it after the previous day's job turned out a little too bloodless for his liking. Emilio is in the middle of his fourth fight in a row, and still has that same shit-eating grin plastered across his face; Stefano gives him a thumbs up, then heads for the bar, hoping to finish off a drink or two before anyone else decides to challenge him.
Ophelia catches the win, quietly, out of the corner of her eye, but she goes back to her punching bag. After a minute or two, she notes his presence at the bar and slowly makes her way over. She gestures to the bartender, whom she appears to be quite familiar with, and she proceeds to order a drink for Stefano. She takes a seat, glancing in his direction. "Nice win, there."
Oh, hey, someone else is picking up the check! This day just got that much better. "Thanks, replies Stefano, favoring the hip that got shoved into a turnbuckle early on. "So who ya here with? Not that guy, I hope," he adds, gesturing toward the latest victim of Emilio's enthusiasm. He knows perfectly well that she's here in her own right, but that doesn't rule out the possibility that she's also got a special friend somewhere in the joint. Probably not, seeing as she's buying him a drink, but - especially with people's tempers as high as they are already - it's best to double-check that sort of thing up front.
There's a bit of a smirk as Ophelia glances back towards Emilio, but then she shakes her head. She orders her own drink before looking back to Stefano. "Nah. Haven't been here with someone else for a very, very long time. I'm a bit of a regular, though. Not a serious fighter, but I'm here often enough to be regular."
Stefano nods, reaching for a bottle as it's placed in front of him. "Yeah, I try to pick my battles, at least. Now that guy— he'd stick around till they threw him out, if I didn't haul him out myself first." He starts to take a sip - only to glance down at the beer, then make a face as he shoves it back toward the bartender. "The hell is that, dirt in the bottom? The woman paid good money, don't insult her like that, all right?"
"Thanks." Ophelia murmurs, glancing back at the beer before one last glance towards Emilio. "Somehow I think he really would get thrown out. Unless he kept spending good money on bets or beers.. then I'm sure they'd let him stay so long as he didn't break any of the rules. Your friend's got an attitude that might get him killed, though, one of these days. Y'know, piss off the wrong person and not know when to back down.."
"That's what I've been telling him," replies Stefano. "Boy won't listen." Especially not while everything keeps going his way - the bell rings again, Emilio raises his fists in the air as his erstwhile opponent struggles to pull himself back up by the ropes.
Shaking his head, the man at the bar turns his attention back to Phi. "So— you said you're a regular, what motivates you to want to kick a lot of ass?"
Ophelia chuckles. "Well, just wait til he gets clocked right in the face." She takes a long sip of her drink. "Me? Well, it's stress relief, for one. Helps me keep my mind off of things. It's a good workout and I've got a lot of time on my hands as of late. And I like fighting back.. don't like anyone or anything keeping me down, so I fight. It all works out."
"Smart woman." And hey, that drink she picked out isn't half bad, either - he'll have to figure out what exactly it is, later. "Gotta take care of your own," Stefano continues, "nobody else will. What's with all the free time, you get fired or something?" Nothing like a bad boss for failing to take care of people.
There's a bit of a chuckle. "No, not quite. I guess you could say it was more of a contractual thing that's ended. I am kinda searching for something new, now." Ophelia sips from her drink. "Kinda feeling things out as I go. Not quite sure what I want to do now."
Stefano shrugs, gesturing toward the ring. "Hey, he and I haul stuff around in trucks all day… sometimes you just gotta keep the bills paid." The truth is more complicated, but he's not just going to come right out and say so. At least not yet. "What kind of work they have you doing?"
"Ah, well, that's a bit complicated." Ophelia murmurs, taking a long sip of her drink. "Office work, though, I suppose. A bit of everything." She glances towards the ring. "I can kinda see how you could want to unwind from driving trucks around. If I was stuck in one of those all day, I'd probably get pretty antsy."
Office work? Stefano makes a face— and not just at the thought of sitting in a cubicle and shuffling paperwork around all day, either. "Everything? Guy didn't make you wear short skirts or nothing, did he?" See, he's a nice guy, really! "And the truck's not so bad. Least we're not out fixing roads and trying to dodge trucks all day."
"Nah, he was pretty good about that. He was sorta seeing this younger girl.. not really sure that they were well suited to each other, she seemed like a bit of a party chick to me, not quite the long term relationship type." Ophelia remarks, swirling the alcohol in her glass. "I guess I'm lucky in that aspect."
There's a lot of gray area to fill in there. Stefano shrugs, leaning back and considering. "What, that you're the party chick type or the long term type?" Neither of which is necessarily what she meant in the first place, but hey— it's what he's interested in asking.
Ophelia chuckles as the statement is misinterpreted, but she rolls with it. "I suppose I'm a little of both. Depends on the situations. I kind of roll with things as they come up. I try not to plan too far in advance… tends to get things a bit messy." She rubs her neck a bit with a free hand.
Well, Stefano can appreciate that for what it is. He's a planning kind of guy himself - someone has to be, and God knows Emilio and the other guys like him aren't about to - but only when it comes to certain things. Meeting strange women is not one of those things. "So which one are you tonight?" he continues, his voice deadpan, but the possible implications obvious enough in his expression if she's looking.
There's the slightest hint of an eyebrow raised as Ophelia regards Stefano for a moment. She's silent, before there's a slight smirk on her features and she finishes off her drink. She signals for the bartender to bring another. "I don't think I've quite decided yet. What about you?"
The brush-off doesn't faze Stefano - it's not so much 'no' as 'not yet'. And if it becomes 'no', well, there are plenty of others. "I'm no party chick," he quips, dodging the return volley. "You see me wearing a little black dress?"
Ophelia raises an eyebrow distinctly now. "I don't think black's your color." She smirks, glancing over at his drink for a moment before sipping hers. "So if you aren't a party chick, does that mean you're the long-term-relationship girl?"
…well, crap, he walked right into that one, didn't he? He does his best to roll with it himself - "Hey, you know me, always looking for Mr. Right" - until the guy sitting on the other side of him tries to pipe up. Without missing a beat, Stefano turns and cuts him off before he can really get started. "And don't you say nothing, either, or I'll knock your dumb ass into the turnbuckle next." The wiseacre was watching his fight earlier, but far from being cowed, he stands up - he's a tall guy, about six five - and makes a point of looming over his object of ridicule.
Uh oh. Now this could spell a bit of trouble. Ophelia folds her arms, watching the two of them. "Now, gentlemen.." She comments, lightly, though she really makes no move to do or say anything regarding their slight agression.
By the time she speaks up, Stefano is already on his feet as well - more like five two, or at least it seems that way as he glares up at the would-be loudmouth. After a moment's silence, he glances back toward her. "You excuse us for a few minutes?" as the taller man, nodding agreement, is already on his way toward a ring. At least it'll cause less collateral damage than a typical bar brawl.
Now /this/ will be interesting. Turning back towards the ring, Ophelia folds her arms over her chest and watches the two of them. Her drink is momentarily forgotten as she leans forward on her stool a little, particularly interested to see how the two of them fight.
This time around, there's no bluffing involved in the fight - there's no time for it. The tall man comes out with a quick flurry of punches, then another, while Stefano just blocks as best he can and then backs off to force a delay. For all his speed, though, the punches aren't landing with much force; by the time Stefano starts punching back slower but harder, the guy has fatigue etched into his face, realizing his mistake— a little too late, as he staggers backward and goes down. Two for two it is!
Ah, now that's a good move right there. Clearly Stefano had a little bit more strategy in him than most fighting in the rings, and Ophelia can't help but look amused. "Well, that was a fairly quick match," she murmurs, mostly to herself.
The obligatory shit-eating grin is tempered with a bit of wear and tear of his own as Stefano returns to his seat. "Not quick enough," he replies, reaching for his drink and finishing it off in one go. "Guy could hit harder than me if he put his weight into it. —Hey, Emilio, I'm gonna bail. You're good with a cab, right?" In response, Emilio shoots him a quick thumbs up, right before going back to his own pummeling session still in progress.
With that settled, he returns his attention to Phi once again. No, he's not leaving quite yet. "Now where were we?"
A slight grin crosses Ophelia's features, but she moves to finish off her drink, looking back towards him. "Seems like you really know your stuff. Got some strategy.. that's more than I can say for most of the guys here."
A smirk. "Yeah, I guess," he answers, downplaying it with false modesty. Which she'll probably see through, but so what? "What about you— you decide what you're doing tonight?" A glance toward the exit: he's planning to leave, one way or another, before someone else has a chance to bait him back into the ring.
Ophelia does indeed see right through the false modesty, and a smile spreads across her features. "I think I'm headed home. I think I've had my fill of drinks by now. You're… welcome to join me, if you'd like." She glances towards the door.
Making good on his promise earlier, Stefano tosses some bills onto the bar (note to self, set up a tab here next time), then nods to Ophelia as they exit the building together. See that, Emilio? There's more than one way to pull off a hat trick.
With a small chuckle, Ophelia heads out the door, taking only a brief moment to glance back in towards the bar and the occupants still fighting. She'd likely hear a little bit of mouth back from the few that knew her in there, but that'd just give her another excuse to fight. And really, that wasn't so much of a problem.