The grease gets under Gwen's fingernails and works its way so deep into her skin that even a dedicated scrub can’t clean her up completely. She doesn’t much mind, just ties her hair back a little more tightly and makes sure to leave a great big handprint on Vivian’s shirt when Vivian teases her for the black streaks on her face.
It’s more of a closet than a proper bike shop, on a cobbled sidealley of the main street, but it’s hers: she’s carved out the space for it between the alchemist and the grocer with her own two hands and sweat and tears, and it holds a universe for her. She’s never far from it. The room she keeps is above it, and she’s a common sight for the neighbors, who learn to move around her as she walks, hair wound up in a bright red cloth and her mind inevitably absorbed in some intricate gearwork in her hands. Her shirt is only ever half-tucked into high-waisted tan breeches, which are stained at the knees with holes rubbed through at the crotch. Half the time she doesn’t even bother with a corset or any sort of binder, leaving her breasts to hang free in her white shirt, nipples showing through the thin fabric and drawing stares.
Gwen’s grown used to the staring, even here in Camelot, capital of the realm. She collects and classifies the looks she catches -- and sometimes, when she’s lucky, she has a chance to follow up and make good on them, tune a little something more than just an engine and its gears.
Lancelot comes every fall, regular as clockwork. He gets his bike worked over -- a solid, low machine that runs without a hitch for miles -- and then he works Gwen over in turn, leaving her reclined upon her cot, lazily satisfied as he pulls his gloves and goggles on, taking off across the sands for another year. Morgana’s a more frequent visitor. She sweeps in with the best the money of an airship empire can buy, and inevitably pulls Gwen in even as she’s kicking the motor off, sliding the cloth from Gwen’s hair and digging her fingers deep into Gwen’s curls. Her fingers delve deep into other places, too. She comes in smelling of expensive perfume, but when she leaves her gardenias have been exchanged for tire rubber and engine oil. She leaves Gwen herself perfumed with sex, the lingering smell of Morgana’s cunt rubbed deep into her skin.
Merlin brings her his crotchety dragon of a cycle every other week, it seems: the old thing is always puffing and snorting and six inches from the grave. She’s tried to get him to part with it, take her up on the offer of a newer model, but he refuses. Gwen understands. It really is a magnificent creature despite its temperament. It’s an adventure to work on, cogs and wrenches spread around her as she coaxes its old frame into new life -- and Merlin’s an adventure, too, when he finishes stammering and gets his clothes off, gets his knees and ass dirty on the floor of her workshop.
There are others, of course. Gwen’s a prosperous mechanic, enough that she can afford to refuse any dealings with aircycles -- newfangled things that they are, no soul inside them -- though she works now and then with the bigger airships, when they need an expert to get up inside their gears. She’s prosperous enough that she can afford her dalliances, and afford to be choosy with them. She looks for the spark in their eyes, the way Freya’s always do when she sees Gwen in the leather jacket she’d handsewn with charms; the way they moan, as Mithian does when Gwen wears her riding boots to bed and nothing else; the way they unwind her as eagerly as Gwaine when she has his head between her thighs.
She’s prosperous enough to entertain Arthur himself, mayor though he may be. His bike is gorgeous: old and beautifully cared-for, and it roars under her when he lets her drive, just as he roars when she rides him instead.
Arthur would offer himself in marriage in a heartbeat, she knows, if she would let him. It would be tempting, but Gwen takes too much solace in the quiet nights she spends alone in her shop, her hands slipped not into someone else’s but into her own machine -- the one she loves, her first -- the one that loves her back as hard and as completely as any cycle can. She would have to give it up, were she the mayor’s wife: a cycle like this would hardly be dignified. Free as she is, she can ride it to the west of Hell and back, trading her breeches for her best riding skirt, with no one the wiser to the alterations she’s made.
The cycle is her own design, developed to fit her needs exactly. With her skirts spread, there’s no one to see that the gears which turn the wheels also slide a slim rod through the seat inside her, a far more satisfying fuck than any of her talented lovers. Her neighbors waving to her as she zooms by have no idea that as she waves back, a small contraption of her own design is vibrating with the motion of the engine just so between her legs as the cycle fucks her open, shifting with her body until she reaches the long open highway outside of town and she can open the throttle fully, hair and skirts streaming out behind her triumphantly as she yells into the wind.