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Revision as of 11:07, 19 May 2020

Dramatis Personae

Dawson, Polaris


"I have never once been credibly accused of having anything, uh, together, so --"


<NYC> Evolve Cafe - Lower East Side

Spacious and open, this coffeeshop has a somewhat industrial feel to it, grey resin floors below and exposed-beam ceilings that have been painted up in a dancing swirl of abstract whorls and starbursts, a riot of colour splashed against a white background. The walls alternate between brick and cheerfully lime-green painted wood that extends to the paneling beneath the brushed-steel countertops. There's an abundance of light, though rather than windows (which are scarce) it comes from plentiful hanging steel lamps. The walls here are home to artwork available for sale; though the roster of prints and paintings and drawings and photographs changes on a regular basis it has one thing in common -- all the artists displayed are mutants.

The seating spaced around the room is spread out enough to keep the room from feeling cluttered. Black chairs, square black tables that mostly seat two or four though they're frequently pushed around and rearranged to make space for larger parties. In the back corner of the room is more comfortable seating, a few large black-corduroy sofas and armchairs with wide tables between them. There's a shelf of card and board games back here available for customers to sit and play.

The chalkboard menus hanging behind the counter change frequently, always home to a wide variety of drinks (with an impressive roster of fair-trade coffees and teas largely featured) though their sandwiches and wraps and soups and snacks of the day change often. An often-changing variety of baked goods sit behind the display case at the counter halfway back in the room, and the opposite side of the counter holds a small selection of homemade ice creams. A pair of single-user bathrooms flanks the stairway in back of the cafe; at night, the thump of music can be heard from above, coming from the adjoining nightclub of the same name that sits up the stairs above the coffeehouse.

It's a glorious spring day outside, and the front door has been propped open to let in the fresh air. The lunch rush is winding down, and Polaris slips out from behind the counter to find herself a place to sit with her own lunch--a bowl of curry soup and a banh mi. She's wearing a good deal of makeup in metallic purples and grays, though not quite enough to conceal the dark circles around her eyes. Her hair is coiled up into a bun, but messily, leaf green tresses escaping here and there. She's wearing a black t-shirt that reads "Magnets: how do they work?" above a cartoon horseshoe magnet in an unlikely suit and tie, carrying a suitcase, black jeans, and her usual heavy cuffs, belt, and boots rich with polished steel hardware. Dropping into an unoccupied armchair at the back, she stares balefully at her meal. Takes one bite of the sandwich before setting it aside in favor of scrolling through her phone.

Dawson is just coming in off the patio, tucking his dishes neatly in the return trays. He stops at the counter to snag himself a small cup of rhubarb sorbet before he flits off toward the back. He's as blandly dressed as ever -- neatly ironed khakis, a pale green polo, his arm colored today in raspberry red, white, and dark brown feathers. "Did the banh mi do something to you?" He perches himself in a seat catty-corner from Polaris, lightly scraping the top of his small glob of sorbet until he has neatly rounded it off. "Or have you finally gotten sick of the whole menu by now?"

Polaris's eyes snap up, wild and wide for just a fraction of a second before she smiles bright and brittle, lowering her phone. "Oh hey! What?" She looks down at the banh mi, then back up at Dawson. "I mean, it probably killed my real parents when I was just a baby, but--whatever, like all the food here is pretty great." This comes out rapid-fire but curiously flat. "Just...you know, not hungry." Her shrug is quick, jerky. "How goes?"

"This specific sandwich? I wouldn't eat it if I were you. I'm not an expert in food safety but I think it's probably past its prime." Dawson sucks sorbet off the thin paddle, sliding back in his seat to nestle into the couch cushions. "I don't know. Still -- trying to figure out what to do with myself when I have a day off." He trails the wooden spoon lightly over the sorbet again, eyes flicking briefly over Polaris. "I was going to offer to take you for some other food after your shift but I guess that won't help that problem. Still --" He hesitates, eyes dropping to his hands. "Think it'd help to get out, at all?"

"Evil vampire sandwich," Polaris quips, her smile coming a bit more easily now, though still sharp. "S'why it's gotta toothpick stuck through it, see? But I gotta eat it to destroy it for good." The corner of here mouth twitches up. "My dad would tell me shit like that when I was little. Get me to eat." Her fingers flex, the wirework rings unraveling to flow across her knuckles like slim, sinuous metallic snakes. "I mean, that'd be great, but like..." She chews on the inside of her cheek. "I don't think I'm a whole lot of fun to be around right now. Just ask the rest of the staff. Or my housemates." The wires wind back around her fingers again as she clenches her fist. Then relaxes. "Shit. What the hell do people do with themselves on a Monday evening?"

"Best do your duty then. Avenge your parents." Dawson watches the rings snake across Polaris's knuckles. Idly -- far less adroitly -- spins his short slip of spoon from one knuckle to the next. "I wasn't asking because I thought you'd be fun. Sometimes company's nice, though. At least, when I'm feeling pretty flat it is. I don't know how it is for you. No pressure to be entertaining." Though his face just scrunches up at the question. Brows furrowing. One eye squinching up. "Uh -- like -- normal people or --" He looks around the cafe uncertainly.

"For the honor of my family," Polaris declares somewhat perfunctorily, lifting up her sandwich to take another grudging bite that she definitely does not chew thoroughly enough before swallowing. Her eyes flick back up to Dawson, wide again, considering. "Company's always nice," she agrees at last, her gaze dipping again. "I just--it's like there wasn't even any in-between this time, and shit's still just terrible and intense but it...doesn't really reach me? And I just don't wanna subject people to all that." She blows a frizzy lock of hair out of her face, her smile slower this time, thinner, though there's more warmth in it. "I dunno--how about crazy people who kinda have their shit together?"

Dawson's mouth twists down into an exaggerated grimace, his head shaking. "Ooh. I have never once been credibly accused of having anything, uh, together, so --" His mechanical arm hitches up in a quick shrug. "Do you prefer a zone-out-and-don't-have-to-think-about-anything kind of depression or would you rather do something do something? There are a million and one activities where you can hang out together and not actually feel like your inflicting yourself on anyone. Movies? Roller skating? Trust me," now there's a glint of amusement in his smile, "I've become the master of taking people on dates where they don't notice how little time they actually have to spend talking to me. Critical survival skill for years."

"I said 'kinda'," Polaris protests mildly. "You do have one whole medical degree, though, so you might wanna get used to those accusations." She takes another too-large bite of her sandwich and chews thoughtfully, picking at the little red paper flag at the end of the toothpick. "Definitely do something do something. Shit, I haven't been roller skating since like..." She trails off, frowning. "Hell, I haven't been on a date since I can't remember when. Is this a date?"

"Credibly accused," Dawson replies promptly. "Plenty of uninformed casual observers mistake years of insomnia- and anxiety-fueled hyperfocus for stability." He digs out another bite of his sorbet. Bigger, this time. "Sure," comes light and glib enough at first, though after this he checks himself with a faint flush. "I mean, is that presumptuous? Maybe you're not in a date kind of mood. A very no-pressure kind of date. Cheesy 80s pop and trying to remember how to brake without crashing into the wall."

Polaris nods, slow. "Alright, fair enough. Guess you probably got incredibly accused of that plenty even before the MD." She eyes the sandwich speculatively--perhaps decides better of trying to stuff the rest of it in her mouth all at one go and just takes another bite instead. Actually blushes herself, color showing easily on her pale, pale skin. She licks her lips--no challenge, evidently, to whatever chemical ingenuity went into her metallic purple lipstick. "I don't know what kind of mood I'm in, but I think that might be nice." This is quiet, sincere. Then, with only slightly forced bravado, "Bold of you to assume I ever knew how to brake."