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Dramatis Personae

Allison, Flicker


"Someone said this was a safe space for mutants. Can it be a safe space for anyone?"


<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.

Despite the other night, it seems that Allison is a sucker for punishment. The white Tesla is parked out front on the curb down the street with about two hours worth of change in the meter. Heading inside, she's wearing a pair of flexible jeans with some destroy along the knees and hips, as well as a white shirt with pink letters on it that reads: Love Everyone. Sliding her shades off her eyes, she nervously looks about, then heads to the counter to quietly order a piece of pie and a milkshake before tucking herself into the back of the cafe with a notebook as she starts to scribble in it.

On a Friday afternoon the cafe is animated with a usual assortment of its very irregular regulars. A pair of young women are chatting brightly nearby over ice creams (one of them is intermittently slurping at her sundae with a tongue that extends looong from her very upright posture all the way down to her bowl on the table); nearby a pair of teenagers is playing a board game with detailed wooden figurines that shift and fight, animated, every time one of them settles on a move.

A dark-furred teenager nearby gets up shortly after Allison sits, clearing away her empty dishes and heading out. It's not long after that Flicker arrives -- largely plain and unassuming, in bland khaki shorts and blue polo, neatly combed dark hair, no-name black sneakers. The scars etched waxy and deep across his face do stand out, some, as does the obviously mechanical arm he wears; unlike many prostheses it makes no attempt to mimic biology, painted from shoulder to fingertips in intricately shaded browns and greens like a curtain of Spanish Moss.

He has a backpack slung over his more flesh-y shoulder, a lemonade held in his mechanical hand. A polite-apologetic look on his face as he moves to the seat beside Allison in the crowded cafe. "Apologies, is this taken?"

Hunched over her notebook, Allison is doodling the dark furred teenager absently next to a number of lyrics she has put down. Her black pen is tapping along the notebook gently, as if trying to conjure some type of rhythm. Tappy-tap-tap-tap. With a soft sigh, she scribbles a word out, and goes back to fill something else in, but it is Flicker's voice which causes her to snap back to attention. "Huh? Oh. No, it's not taken. Go ahead." She says as she tucks some of her blonde hair back behind an ear, then turns the page in the notebook to a clean one.

Flicker's expression is vastly relieved -- perhaps less at Allison's answer itself and more when he drops his backpack to the floor with a solid -thud-. He drops himself into the seat next, shoulder rolling before he leans forward. Almost to unzip the bag. He stops short, casting an uncertain look sideways at Allison. "Do you come here often?" immediately is followed by a deep blush that only serves to highlight the stark scars carved into his face. "Apologies, I didn't -- that sounds like some kind of cheesy -- I just mean you look familiar and I couldn't remember --" His teeth catch at his lip and, shaking his head again, he /actually/ opens his bag this time, pulling out a laptop nestled among several large textbooks. "Lo siento, I'm interrupting. I'll let you work."

"No es problema. Solo estoy escribiendo." Allison says to him with a small smile tucking against her lips as she gives a shake of her head. "It's my second time here, actually. Was told that the music upstairs is good and someone mentioned the other day about pie." Her pen gives another light tap along the table. "I'm Allison. Um.. I'm on TV? I sing... toured with Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. I was on The Voice last year. I'm starting to get recognized, so .. I figure when people say I'm familiar, it's probably because of the news. Hometown girl .. you know.."

"Oh! Yeah, that's, my little sister is really into --" Flicker cuts himself off with another duck of his head. Fingers scuffing through his hair together with another mumbled apology. "That's -- cool," he finally settles on. "I didn't really figure this for the kind of place that --" And again he stops with a wince. "You know, my brain's a little fried from heat and work. I'm going to just drink my lemonade and pretend I know how to talk, right?" His smile here, at least, is quick and bright. "Anyway someone was steering you right. About the pie."

"The kinda place that a celebrity would hang out, why?" Allison finishes for him as she looks over curiously. Her eyes study his scars for a moment, then trails down to his metal arm. She pokes at her pie with a fork, then pops a bite into her mouth after a moment of thought. "Someone said this was a safe space for mutants. Can it be a safe space for anyone?" She asks as she chews on her bottom lip for a moment.

"I mean, it's risky. You'd need a good cover story, and really good PR. You must have seen what happens to celebrities who come out -- or even ones who just associate with us. It's an understatement to say it's not a popular career move." Flicker does take a long sip of his lemonade here. Studies Allison thoughtfully, nibbling lightly at the straw. "No." This is quiet, but firm. "I don't mean this is an /unsafe/ place. But everyone else has the entire rest of the world to be themselves. This place isn't for them. They're allowed here, if they want to come be respectful and supportive and most of all, quiet. But this is never going to be a place that tries to /accommodate/ humans the way it does us."

"I don't know why I should need a story or any type of PR. Maybe I just like the pie." Allison says as she gives another poke at her pie with her fork. "And I like music. This place has both." Her shoulders drop a bit down with a soft sigh at the revelation, glancing away from him as her pen gives a slow swirl about the page in a tight spiral. She opens her mouth, then closes it slowly, followed by a nod of her head.

"I don't think you should." Flicker's shrug is small. "But the world we live in is a really different place from the one it should be. In a perfect world, it shouldn't matter what's in your genes or where you drink your coffee. In this one, they're still debating if it's actually legal to lock us up and torture us. Most people rank us somewhere between Michael Vick and child molesters in terms of who they trust around their kids. I didn't say it's /right/. Only that it's terrible for album sales." His eyes lower to his still-off computer. "Hence finding a good PR person. Or, I guess," a little ruefully, "a good pair of sunglasses. Maybe a nice wig? Really, you should be able to drink coffee where you like."

"I'm not going to wear a wig, and .. someone already took a picture of me here last night. At this point, I may as well stop freaking out about it and just not care. There's nothing wrong with being a mutant, or being a nerd, or being weird." Allison says as she clinks her fork against her plate. "And if I start hiding who I am when I come here, it'll just come across as insulting to the rest of you, right? I'm not embarrassed to be here, to be seen with you, or someone covered in fur. I sing songs. That's all. I'm not conceited enough to think I matter in this world." She lets out a heavy breath.

"Those things -- aren't really equivalent in any way at all." Flicker blinks just once at this. Slips his laptop back into his bag. His smile has slipped crooked, mechanical fingers twitching once against the table. "As a weird mutant nerd, I'm pretty sure there's no comparison. At least until they start torturing us to death for roleplaying and then introducing bills in Congress arguing that it was totally acceptable." His head shakes. Once, quick. "Look, I apologize, I'm not trying to convince you of anything. It's your life, you live it how you like. I only --" Another shake of his head, as he stands.

"Well, I'm sure they'll figure out a way to make America great again." Allison is heard mumbling under her breath sarcastically as she drops the fork on to her plate, then reaches into her pocket to take out a Kate Spade wallet of a soft green color. She slips out a twenty and puts it on the table to cover the tab and a generous tip. "And they are equivalent. Since the dawn of time, people kick the shit out of those who aren't normal. Whether you're a nerd, or you're mentally disabled, black, jewish, gay, mutant. It's all the same. You're just the current flavor of the month. Soon as we get green aliens with big black eyes coming to live here in the suburbs, these dumb rednecks will forget about you and then start passing laws to ban anal probes." She glances over at him again, then rises upwards. "At least you're brave enough to accept who you are." She says, giving a snap of her fingers, showing a burst of light that flickers about her fingertips. "I'm scared to death. Not because I'm a celebrity, but because my mother already up and left my asshole of a dad and he isn't a liberal." Her voice cracks for a moment as she gives a shake of her hand to hide the light, followed by stuffing it into her pocket.

Flicker rubs his hand briefly across his eyes, looking -- altogether unsurprised, really, by this demonstration. Just a little bit more weary than before as he gathers up his bag. "First of all, it's not the same. Sure, people hate us, but pay a little attention to the world and realize they haven't /stopped/ shooting black people in the street or killing folks with disabilities or trying to ban Muslims from the country or stop trans people from peeing or /any/ of it, and being a mutant doesn't give me even a /tiny/ bit of insight into anyone else's struggles -- struggles that didn't end because we showed up and /won't/ end if aliens land. Second, the liberals are trying to kill us just as much as anyone, so don't think they'd save you. We have to fight to save ourselves."

Reaching for his lemonade, he takes a sip. Voice lowering. "But third and most important, /you matter/ in this world, okay? I'm not -- trying to scare you away from us. I just want you to understand what it's like. /Because/ you matter. And you know, it's probably not fair that you matter, but there's thousands of mutant kids out there that have barely any examples of people like us /succeeding/ in the world. Like, what, Ryan Black? He won /four/ Grammys, came out, and they still tear him apart. And that's it, there's nobody else doing it in show business right now. And you could, you know? But you have to be smart about it or they'll rip you to pieces before you have a chance. And that's --" He shakes his head. "If you like the pie so much, I can hook you up with guy who bakes it. It's not worth what you could be."

Shrugging her shoulders upwards, Allison says, "I just don't know what to do. I'm not registered and I don't plan on it. I just want to .. keep doing what I am doing .. but ... I don't know .. I want to be able to talk to someone also, about me... I don't even know how these powers work outside of me glowing." She bites her lip for a moment, then sighs loudly. "I don't get why people have to be so mean or scared all of the time. It's just stupid."

"Yeah." Flicker sounds a little heavier. "It's awful. But it's not going to get better unless we make it better. And that takes -- a lot of work." He chews briefly at the inside of his cheek, eventually adding: "There are support groups both here and at the Mendel Clinic -- and therapists over at the Clinic. If you need someone to talk to. I don't have any advice for how to balance that with having a public career, though." Apologetic, here. A little helpless, as he finishes the last of his lemonade: "Good luck."

"I don't need a therapist. I just need a friend. Someone that has gone through this as well, someone I can relate with and just .. talk. I don't know.. " Allison says as she sighs softly. Settling her hands against the table as she leans against it, she blows a strand of blonde hair away from her eyes.

Flicker ducks his head. Fingers tightening just a bit around his glass. "I hope you find what you're looking for." Softly, just before he vanishes -- somewhat literally -- across the room, disappearing in a rapid blur of motion to drop off his glass at the bussing station and then flit out the door.

".. Obviously you aren't interested." Allison says with a mutter as she watches him zip away from her and the table. She sighs softly, rubbing at her shoulder with her hand before heading to the door herself, sliding her Ray Bans back over her nose and tucks them up against her face.