I've had a sick day off uni which finally gave me the chance to finish off a fic and post it. I've thought for a long time that Billy and Connie's relationship was quite cute, and Connie is such a contrast to Julie (did I mention she's one of my favourites?) I've been keen to write something from her POV for a while, (and I wish we had actually seen them meet on the show) so this one was quite high up on the priorities list. I was intending to write a longer one from her POV, and I've also in the editing stages for a Jack fic and a Shifty fic, and am partway through an Adrian fic, a Freddie fic and lots of Joetinas, I just haven't had much time at all, what with trying to get through final semester of uni and applying for Masters. So those fics will be finished...when I get round to them. (And when I learn to stop starting new ones instead of finishing the old ones.)
In the meantime, have some fluffy young love.
And also, Bread does not belong to me.
Connie is in a bad mood.
The DSS is crowded. Well, it always is, isn't it? Well, that's just bloody marvellous, that is—Connie's got another hour or two to wait before she can get hold of her giro. Another hour or two stuck in a waiting room with all the charm and pleasantness of a gaol cell is not her cup of tea—not that she drinks tea. All that namby-pamby sitting around with a mug, knitting and chatting to your neighbour like that's all life is—that's not for Connie. She avoids the tea-and-cakes lifestyle at all costs. And she'd avoid this bleeding place if she didn't need the money—she loathes it here, and by the looks of it, she's not the only one. People are beginning to shuffle in their seats, fidget with their handbags or look meaningfully at their wallets.
Those cows behind the desks, they've got nerve, they really have. Sitting there lording it over everyone, deliberately taking their time before they move onto their next client, shuffling and stacking papers, fiddling with pens, looking in folders seemingly for no reason at all, just to hold everyone up and make the entire assembled company angrier and angrier. Connie counts fifteen minutes slipping by in this way, with barely five customers being seen between the three of them in all that time. Oh, if it goes on like this, she'll be old and grey before she gets herself home.
'Why are we waiting?' A middle-aged man begins to sing, and a few others around him pick up the tune. Connie, never one for being shy, is one of the first to join in with the hash song.
'Why-y are we waiii-ting? Whyyyy are we…'
The woman at the window furthest from the door (the one Connie avoids like the plague when she has a choice—she's a sour, uppity mare, that one) bangs her stapler on the desk.
'There's no need fer that!' She barks. 'Next!'
A bloke gets up and goes over to her, and, infinitesimally, the queue begins to move again, the cluster of people with numbers ahead of Connie's dwindling away in its own good time. With the machine finally going again, she lets her brain go, thinks of last night's telly and the fish pie they're going to have for tea. Bloody hell, is that all there is? Her life is about as exciting as a box of milk tea biscuits, and though Connie likes it, she does occasionally dream of more. If it could somehow be a mix of the homey, comforting, everyday stuff, intermingled with something a bit more spicy and just a pinch of daft, it'd be just about right. Yeah, well. No use making a fuss and being wistful. Her lot's okay—or it would be, if they could ever hurry up and give her this giro. She could get back to work on her bike, maybe get the wheels fixed. She could take herself places.
She rolls her eyes, crosses her right leg over her left and swings it. The windows seem to have slowed down back to their glacial pace—the old woman at the middle counter has got to have been there for twenty minutes at least.
The chant begins again.
'Why are we waiting? We are suffocating…'
And about time, too.
Oh, it only took, what, twenty…thirty…forty-five minutes for her turn to come? She stretches her legs out in front of her, earning herself a disapproving glance from the woman in the next chair, slams her hands against the sides and eases herself into a standing position.
'Aw 'ang on a minute, I'm dead late!' A blur of colour rockets through the building so fast it's seated itself in front of the desk before Connie can even register where the voice came from.
'I know I was gonna come earlier and it was me time to sign on, er, earlier, but I've been dead busy and I've been tryin' to work out all these worries and…' the words just tumble out and form a gabbling mess in the air, and all Connie can do is gape at this scruffy, impudent little pillock who's sitting in her spot, taking up her turn.
'Your appointment with us,' says the cow on the other side of the partition, 'was yesterday. Yesterday, at one o'clock. Not today at ten to ten.'
Condescending little…Connie stops herself before she thinks a dirty word. That woman just makes her fume, the way she sneers down at people like she's Princess Di or something. And if she were her, she'd do something about that crappy hairdo—she looks like the secretary from hell, if hell were a cheaply made seventies' film. Connie would lean over and tell her to stick it, only she has got a bit of a point. She's been waiting for nearly an hour, and this idiot's pushed in.
'I've got things to do, you know!' says the yob.
'And I've got other people to see,' the counter clerk snaps. 'In case you 'aven't noticed, there are people queuein' up behind yer, who actually came in at the appropriate time, took their number and waited for it to come up!'
'Er, 'scuse me?' Connie butts in, leaning her hand against the back of the chair. 'Only, er, I seem to 'ave turned invisible, and I was supposed to be gettin' me giro, not listenin' to you two back an' forth like a great pair o'—'
The bloke turns around to have a go at her, then, and the rest of Connie's insult dies on her tongue.
Well, he's hardly a Burt Reynolds or a George Michael (both of her favourites, for different reasons)—in fact, he looks…sort of… daft. He's got a big nose and beady eyes and a bit of a gormless mouth, but there's something kind of wild and childish in there as well. He's ordinary, but he's unique at the same time. He's what Connie likes.
'Now you listen to me,' he says, practically shouting before he's even kicked off his argument, 'I've 'ad a rotten day, okay! I got a Cartier for a fiver that turned out not to be a Cartier after all, so I've wasted a fiver, haven't I, and I'm poor and sad and none of my family could care less, just 'cause they've all got posh cars and success in their lives, haven't they, and…'
He pauses to draw breath, and Connie thinks it might either be her or the clerk's turn to get a word in edgeways, but then he's off on round two.
'And I got pulled over an' all, 'cause me car needs fixing and getting rid o' the smoke, and I haven't got the money to get it fixed, hence why I need this giro to fix it up so that bastard on a motorbike can't keep comin' after me and threatenin' to be on my tail, and…'
'Awwwww, God,' Connie groans, the lad's obnoxiousness speedily putting an end to her budding attraction to him, 'how much more of this is there? Can you talk or wha'?'
'For England, love,' sighs the woman behind the counter. 'Him and 'is entire family. They were born with radios in their gobs, the lot of them.'
'Eh!' Radio-Gob protests. 'I've got important things to discuss, that's all!'
'Well, it's my-turn,' Connie says. An idea pops into her head. She should really turn it down, turn it away. It's a stupid idea, really. Wouldn't accomplish anything except enrage people.
The thought puts a smile on her face. Connie likes to enrage people. Let's do it.
She moves around the chair, her eyes on the DSS lady rather than the pillock who's stealing her valuable meeting-time, stretches her arms above her head and sits down in his lap, putting one foot up on the counter.
'As I was sayin',' she says, wrapping her arms around her knee, ignoring the lad's shouts of protest and downright pathetic attempts to struggle and push her off, 'it's my turn, and I'm askin' about my giro.'
The woman looks not just amused, but impressed, and if Connie didn't despise her she'd almost feel pleased by this reaction.
'Good for you, sweetheart,' she says, showing the barest hint of a sincere smile, 'it's about time someone did that. What can I do for yer, love?'
'Me giro 'asn't come in the post.' Connie says, leaning forward on the counter and accidentally elbowing her makeshift booster seat in the arm in doing so, 'so I've come to get it now.'
'We haven't sent them out yet,' the woman replies, without even a slight variation in her tone. She's like a robot, this one, sometimes, in the way she dismisses people. Maybe she's a tape recorder in a human skin. With the not-so-occasional attitude problem.
'Well, that's great,' Connie slouches further forward, and the lad yelps as her left heel connects with his shin. 'What am I gonna do, then? I've got a life to lead, you know— an' I can't lead it without money, can I?'
'Have you ever considered the other path? The gettin' a job and earning money and leading a life path?'
'Oh, it's all very well for you to say,' Connie sneers. 'You've gorra job, you don't know how hard it is to even get an interview these days, do ya?'
'Oh, don't I?' Oh, she's gone into righteous mode now. Connie sticks a piece of chewing gum in her mouth to help her get through it. 'You think I never went through…'
'Oh, I'm not here to hear about you!' Connie had thought she could be patient enough to sit it out, but she's not. She's made of different stuff—stuff that wants action now. 'Look, when's me giro supposed to get here?'
The woman rolls her eyes. 'Name?'
'Connie,' she says, cocking her head, as she does every time. She's sick of being asked. They could try to remember, couldn't they? 'Connie Bryant.'
'Eh, Connie Bryant,' comes a slightly muffled voice from underneath her. Her armchair has given up on being subservient, it seems. 'Will you get your arse off my person, please? Me legs are going to sleep!'
'You shouldn't have taken me turn,' Connie replies nonchalantly.
'You talk about havin' a life to lead; well I've got a life to lead too, 'aven't I? And I can't do it when I'm being sat on by some menace! Some sarcastic, long-legged, space-invading…' she turns to glare at him and his voice softens all of a sudden, as if he's been knocked on the head with something, 'strawberry-blonde, attracti-er, appalling…' he can't finish any more proper insults though. Connie cranes her head further round to get a good look at his face. He looks like he's been whacked with a golf club, his eyes all starry and faraway, and she feels her brain start to turn to mush again.
She hastens to solidify it. Yes, attraction is returning to her, some sort of kismet beginning to crackle, but she's going to stay in control of it for the time being.
'Well,' she says, smiling and enjoying watching him all but salivate, 'you let me get on with me claim in peace, and I might just free you.'
'Wow…' he says, all sparks of intelligence, or even a sense there is anyone there at all, visibly departing from his head. The simplicity of the kid softens Connie towards him further. He's not particularly harmful, she decides. Not deliberately trying to obstruct her. Just a bit…basic. Uncomplicated. Innocent. For now. She stares back at him, testing out her best minxy smirk and enjoying the effect it has on him, and then slowly stands up, making sure his eyes follow her as she goes.
'You know,' he says, his brain floating back into his head again, 'you're really confident, you are. You know exactly where you're at, don't you? And you know what you want, and you go for it. I like that in a girl. It's better than all these mind-changing, snappy ones in frilly knickers you can do not'in right for, isn't it?'
She thinks that's supposed to be a compliment, though somewhat oddly phrased. She shrugs.
'Yeah. I like bein' direct. Now off you get. That's my chair.'
'Yeah, yeah, of course, right, yeah!' He leaps out as if the seat were on fire. 'All yours. I'll sort my business out when you're finished.'
'You can't just do that!' says the DSS clerk in horror. 'We do 'ave a number system, you know!'
They both ignore her. Connie takes up her rightful position in the chair. The fella remains behind it, one hand on the back.
'So, me giro…' Connie says.
'It'll come when they're sent out. Next!'
'Oh, is that it? I've been waitin' nearly an hour for this!'
'And I've been waitin' me whole life for something even vaguely resembling peace,' the clerk says. 'So we're both gonna be disappointed, aren't we? Now on yer bike.'
'I'm not gonna go without it.' She chomps down viciously on her chewing gum to get her point across—she's not happy about this.
'Oh, well in that case,' that wretched woman replies, 'you might as well get out yer sleepin' bag and bed down for the night, hadn't you? Our camping ground's that way.' She points in the direction of the door. 'NEXT!'
'You're not gonna get anythin' out of her,' Radio-Gob says. 'She's sour, she is, because she's all alone and her dad's a gambler and her brother's a drinker and her ex was our cousin who's in prison.'
The woman is livid. 'That's none of your…'
'You told me, didn't you? When I offered to let you 'ave me van, because you 'ad no car?'
That shuts her up. She goes slightly pink and busies herself in her paperwork. The lad goes up again in Connie's esteem, and her irritation about the giro makes way for her happy amusement at being around him. She gets up, gesturing for him to take her seat, but the clerk shoves up a CLOSED sign before he can sit down.
'No. I've 'ad as much o' this today as I'm gonna take. No more Boswells…' she shoots a look at Connie, 'and no more Bryants either. Don't think I've forgotten yer, or your family. I 'ad your Malandra in 'ere the other day spoutin' the same sort o' drivel about how you've got yer life to lead and how there isn't one single job in the 'ole entire city despite the numerous ones I could point out in the paper… I don't know why or how families like yours manage to spring up and multiply faster than any others, but I do know if I have ter listen to one more of these ridiculous claims an' excuses today me 'ead'll explode. I'm takin' me coffee break now.' And with that, she's clunked the 'CLOSED' sign down again on the counter for emphasis and disappeared in a huff and a billow of skirt.
'Well,' says Connie, shooting the lad a sly grin, 'we pissed her off, didn't we?'
'I think my brother fancies 'er,' he says, which isn't exactly what she was expecting him to say. 'I wouldn't say I fancy 'er. I fancy most people. But she's frightening.'
'Fancy most people, do yer?'
'I fancy you an' all.'
He's so blunt, he takes Connie aback. She can't decide whether he's deliberately chosen being honest as a tactic, or he's just a bit thick.
'Oh, do yer?' She fishes in her pocket for another stick of chuddy, pops it in her mouth.
'Yeh…eh, can I 'ave some o' that?'
Connie rolls her eyes. The nerve of this little bastard, pushing in on her, telling her, bold as brass, that he 'fancies her,' as well as a myriad of others and now, to cap it all off, he's trying to scrounge her chewing gum. She holds out the packet to him, eyes widening as he takes not one but three pieces, tosses the wrapping aside and shoves all of them in his mouth.
'So,' he says, his speech mushy and garbled from the contents of his mouth, 'Connie Bryant.'
He pauses after this, prompting her to fold her arms and wonder whether or not he actually meant to say anything after that.
Connie sighs and then grins. 'Hi yerself, Radio-Gob.'
'Eh, me name's not Radio-Gob! Just 'cause 'er in there thinks I talk too much—and Martina would think everyone talks too much, 'cause she hates people an' all—doesn't mean…'
'Okay, well, what is yer name, then?' He's getting incredibly offended over nothing, as far as she can see.
'It's Billy, actually.' His state of defensiveness actually has Connie laughing now. He amuses her, but at the same time, there's something endearing in a different way about the fact that, unlike a lot of fellas, he doesn't try all the charm and smoothness rubbish to try and attract attention. In fact, she's quite sure that Billy wouldn't be able to be smooth if he tried. But after Steve (pillock) and Alfie (lying bastard) and Andrew (least said, soonest mended) she's gone off smooth.
'Well, okay, then, Billy, actually,' she smiles, thumping him good-naturedly on the arm. 'I was only teasin' yer.'
'Oh.' He looks pleasantly surprised by this news. 'I knew that. Well, then,' he slaps his hands against his knees, 'Connie Bryant.'
'You've said that.'
'Say, would you like to 'ave my telephone number?' Before she has a chance to respond, he's pulled what appears to be a serviette from his pocket and is writing on it.
'Am I gonna get a say?' she laughs as it's waved in front of her face, but she takes it, because yes. She would like to have his telephone number. She would like that quite a lot, actually. It's not often someone managed to infuriate you, push in front of you when you've been waiting for hours, insult you to your , scrounge your chewing gum and then act like an idiot to impress you, and still come out of it looking attractive. Someone like that deserves a second look.
'Aw, 'ey, fantastic!'
Connie smirks at his enthusiasm. 'Mega.'
'Yeah, that an' all! Mega! Great! Could you give me a ring this afternoon? I'm supposed to be helpin' me Mam make jam tarts. I 'ate doin' that. Great! See yer!' And again, Connie doesn't even have chance to open her mouth before he's disappearing out the door, waving over his shoulder at her.
Well, then. That's not what she expected from this visit to the DSS. She came in hoping for a giro and is coming out with…well, with the number of some idiot, who she nonetheless might actually consider ringing later on. That's a turn-up for the books. She stands there for a moment, looking from the serviette (it is a serviette. It also appears to have mayonnaise on it, disgustingly enough) to the door.
'Are you still here?'
Martina has come back to her desk, and is sitting there with her arms crossed, looking very annoyed.
'Yeah, 'fraid so,' Connie says facetiously, leaning over to rest her elbow on the desk. 'You wouldn't have found out, while you were gone on yer sulking-break, if there was anything for me out there, would yer? There's not a giro lyin' around there with my name on that got overlooked before, is there?'
'No, Miss Bryant,' the woman says through her teeth, 'there isn't.'
She hadn't expected there to be, so she isn't disappointed. Besides, it was too much fun to watch the DSS clerk's lips nearly disappear altogether before re-emerging in a pout, too much fun to watch her eyes widen and narrow, too much fun to think of the fact that while this poor cow is stuck here having to bark out the same three sentences over and over again, that she, Connie, is able to come here and meet people, arrange adventures, get out of the rut of telly and fish pies and make life happen.
'Out,' says Martina, pointing in the direction of the door.
Connie goes, deliberately walking slowly to annoy, waving the phone-numbered serviette as though it were a victory flag.
Giro-less she may be, but she leaves the DSS in a good mood.