ArchivedLogs:Blood Brothers

From X-Men: rEvolution
Blood Brothers
Dramatis Personae

Hive, Iolaus, Jackson, Jim, Lucien, Melinda, Rasheed, Shelby, Ryan


Shelby's musical debut.


<NYC> Montagues - SoHo

Montagues harkens back to the day when SoHo was filled to the brim with artists, with its mismatched furniture, all plush and decorated heavily with carved wood, but remains trendy enough to keep its newer patrons by making sure that furniture is clean, in good repair and inviting. The antique tables all have been reinforced to seem less creaky. The real draw of the cafe is the smell: fresh roasted coffee mingles with perfectly steeped teas. Spices from crisp pastries mingle with the tang of clotted cream but doesn't overwhelm too much the scent of chalk on the menu boards.

It was probably not a good idea to sleep poorly and spend the day imbibing large caffeinated drinks and sugar bombs but that was the route Shelby chose to take after yesterday's big event. Girlfriend is /wired/, a frizzy mess of nerves, post-traumatic stress and hyperactivity. She lurks near the low stage set aside for open mic. The guy ahead of her is finishing up his set--dude rocks with a ukulele and a knee-accordian--and she is trying to keep it together. Decked out in her hipster gutter formal outfit of layered tank tops, black shorts and gold leggings with sneakers, the American flag "inked" in full sleeves down her arms and across her shoulders, she looks the part of aspiring performer--if she could just stop chewing on a hangnail and eyeing the cafe'ing audience with something like trepidation. "I should've thrown up first. I'm gonna ralph on stage, watch me."

Jackson probably looks kind of hipster, too, though he doesn't bear any instrument to mark him performer. Just a wealth of colourful layers, and a wealth of glittery makeup, as he pushes the door open and holds it for the people after him. He has a bouquet of flowers, though they seem not quite /right/; a little hard, a little stiff, a little -- glassy. He carries them carefully nestled in an arm, a dozen roses in rainbow hues with clear glass stems. "Bring a bucket," he advises cheerfully as he trots over to Shelby, offering the flowers out. "Here. They don't smell but they'll last longer."

Jax does not enter alone. Today he rolls deep, for all that his entourage is eclectic. Scruffy grungy Thai man, bright-eyed eager teleporting roommate, chic tall dark-haired youth who /looks/ like an indie rocker, small handful of accompanying people who talk (or whisper, or giggle) to Ryan before he shunts them off to find a /seat/. "You'll be fine," Hive assures Shelby cheerfully. "-- But bring a bucket. You don't want your guitar case smelling like puke forever."

"Oh, god, no, you really don't." Ryan's wince suggests he might know this from experience.

Jim is also part of this crew, or at least he arrived at the same time they did, opining reflexively instead of greeting, "Like you'd be the first musician to chunder on stage, anyway." Because he's helpful. Maybe Jim is the most hipster of all - in that he's wearing a battered old tweed coat and a corduroy brown tie. and has been wearing this kind of shit since the 80's. He also brought flowers - yellow daisies. It's a very small bouquet and still retain the CVS logo on their wrapping.

Rasheed doesn't look like a hipster. Or a rocker. Or an artist. He looks pretty much like a businessman in a crisp suit, tucking a cellphone away from where it's been glued to his ear, his thoughts vague irritation at a scheduling mix-up at work. "Shelby. Good luck." This is all he offers. That and a handshake. Professional. Crisp.

The arrival of People She Knows is greeted with mental static of the gleeful and dreading from Shelby. Fortunately, she's enough of a girl that flowers tip the balance towards glee. "Oh my god!" is her initial comment as flowers, both real and plastic wrapped, and glass, are collected. True, the glass roses are handled with a /little/ more care but she is equally delighted with both. Briefly. "You guys are like..." She trails off before she gets all stupid and breathes out in a huge puff, grateful to have a hand to shake. "Thanks, doc. I'ma need it, this is kind've different from. Y'know. Street shit. I dunno how you do it." That last is for Ryan.

"Oh, please don't puke anywhere but the restroom," Melinda encourages as she comes in from behind the counter, dressed very much not like a hipster, on account of her work uniform - black and white with not a bit of layering. She's got her clipboard and her pen and makes a little scribbling motion on the paper before asking the next performer - Shelby, "Do you need a second in the restroom? Or some ginger? That calms stomaches." There's a small furrow in her brow and a frenetic energy in her step that she keeps under control as she looks up at all the new comers, and more notably, their flowers. "Or even, just water?" Again, that's spoken to Shelby.

"He pukes beforehand," Jackson says with a quick grin, nudging Ryan with an elbow. "I'm pretty sure those butterflies hit everyone. Hi, Mel!" He smiles brightly to the woman, rocking back on a heel. "Oh look! We brought signs." For real. He's reaching into the bag at his hip to pull out small squares of poster paper. "MARRY ME SHELBY!!!" says one, liberally decorated with -- butterflies. Hearts, too. Jax hands this to Hive. His own says KNOCK 'EM DEAD, and is decorated with pink and blue sugar skulls that look quite similar to the ones still on his wall.

"Better than puking on your fans, they some reason don't tend to like that much. Go with the ginger, works like a charm." Ryan's tipping his head down to peer at the signs, mouth curling up into a grin.

"This is /double/ good, really," Hive adds. "We get to support you /and/ we get to be the hispters who say we knew you /first/. You know. When you're way more famous than this loser." Hive jerks his thumb towards Ryan. "Just promise you're still gonna be the Shelby we know and --" Quicker, brighter grin, "-- love when you're plastered all over MTV?"

"/I/ didn't bring a sign," Jim says like he's /proud/ of it, climbing out of his jacket and scanning Rasheed - Who the heck is that? "Nab a table," he instructs, "who wants coffee." He says it with a hand out - he'll go retrieve it, but he's not /buying/.

Rasheed's handshake is firm. Brief. He nods to the others, retreating to the counter to get himself a coffee and soup and then find a table to sit at and enjoy the show. Or maybe also juggle scheduling issues at his office. Little of each. His thoughts are split between these two things as he settles down for the evening.

"Shit," Shelby says as Melinda appears. She's able to grin even as she takes shelter in the other woman's shadow. "Now you're here, I can't sneak out the back. Do you /have/ any ginger?" Hey, if it's good enough for Ryan...holy shit, signs! Now she really is going to get a little choked up, though she does her best to hide it behind her old friend, smartassery. "See, I /knew/ it," she says of the marry me sign, "but I don't think I can marry /all/ of you. Maybe we could just rotate or something. Jesus, guys...I fucking hate you." And by hate, she means they're gonna make her go teary if she doesn't put Business Face on. Head up, shoulders back, guitar gripped firmly. "Someone's gotta take these flowers."

"I'll go get you some ginger!" Melinda latches on to the idea and spins on a heel to go fetch the desired drink. OH noes! Melinda's left Shelby to her fans!

"Why can't you marry us all? They made gay marriage legal you /know/ the next step is marrying seventeen people at once and also your car and also your dog." Jackson says this with a decisive nod of his head. "Though nobody should want to marry Obie he's such a doofus. Who's that dude?" He glances after Rasheed with a brief flicker of curiousity, but then just reaches out to claim -- Jim's flowers. Someone else can take his. "Should we get tables? Should we sit? When do you play? Oh gosh I shouldn't ask questions maybe that's not helpful I should just --" He blushes, glancing towards the counter. "Coffee."

"You could marry these flowers. /I/ could marry a coffee." Hive reaches into his pocket to grope for his wallet. Hopefully peer into it. Disgruntledly put it away. "We hate you too. Except the kind that's not hate." That other thing.

"You could still sneak out the back. Flicker's over holding our tables. He sneaks like a /champ/. But only we came all the way here to see you and can I totally guilt you into playing? It's all that keeps me in half my gigs," Ryan tells Shelby. "Plus. Flowers." He waves a hand towards the two bouquets. He also presses his sign into Jim's hands when Jim says he didn't bring one.

Jim frowns at the lot of them and fills his extended hand - with the colorful Jax flowers. And, resting them under his nose like a colorful floral vail with a desert-dry baleful look above it, he heads for the counter. And gruffly orders three coffees. << How does Jax take his? >>

Her shelter has fled! Shelby tries not to hyperventilate. "'Cause dudes get all jealous and shit, that's why," she informs Jax, with all of the wisdom her seventeen years have given her. With her arms freed of the flower burden, she hefts the guitar, settling the strap over her shoulders. "I'ma play, I don't wanna screw Mel over twice. But the flowers are nice too. It's just a few songs, right? Not even /my/ songs." Which she keeps meaning to write but stuff keeps getting in the way, like seeing the inside of a guy's head on the ground. Gulp.

Melinda returns at length with a small mug of mostly warm liquid. "I cooled it down a little so you can swig it." She actually already had it prepared in the back but didn't want to seem /too/ helpful. She holds the mug in Shelby's direction and looks around the group. "Nice signs, guys." She nods to Jax in lieu of returning his greeting earlier. She also nods to Hive, on account of not needing to actually speak to him. Must be more polite to not have to listen to talking and words, right? Anyway. "Here. It'll help."

"Just a few songs, and it ain't nothing you don't do all the /time/ outside," Jackson says. "You allowed to hold signs, Mel? Or is that like a -- not on duty thing. I have a Kiss Me, Shelby." Which he thought better of giving to Jim. Though maybe he'll give it to Ryan. "It has a big lip-print."

<< Almond or soy milk, heavy on the sugar. Reeeal heavy. >> bludgeons Hive's voice in return. "Jax made the flowers. Just so you know. I don't think he was gonna say. You're right though, dudes are jealous motherfuckers. I might have to throw down with all these guys right /now/." He frowns, slightly. at the thought of last night, biting on the corner of his lip but not saying anything. What he does say is a slightly puzzled, "-- Polite?" It sounds like it's not something he hears a lot. It draws a smile out of him.

"You'd win. No fair. Hey, Jax is right though," Ryan says, "this is nothing you don't do all the time. Except it's much /warmer/ in here."

Oh, right. Vegan. Freak. Jim returns to the group with the same disgruntled frown, shoving a well-sugared and almond-milked coffee at Jax. And one at Hive << You're so poor it's pathetic. Go flip burgers. >> Or, y'know. Build us a clinic. "Just don't worry about the people," he comments to Shelby while slurping his much-needed coffee, "Fuck 'em. You're here to play, right? Just play." He drops his plaid fedora on her head as though /beating/ her with it. Sip. He side-eyes Melinda. Wondering if she got his flowers. There is no non-clumsy way to ask this. Damn.

"You're the best," Shelby tells Melinda as she takes the mug, letting the guitar hang. A cautious sip leads to the intended swig, her eyes closed afterwards. Breathe in, breathe out, and she's able to hand the empty mug back with something approximating outward calm. It only flutters a little with dread to hear that Jax made those damn roses--who can live up to that? Damn. "Yeah, sure. I got this. I mean, I'm fucking /amazing/, you guys don't even know. Stadium amazing," she says, making a face at Jim's return--but straightening the hat on her head instead of hurling it back at him. "Prick. So, am I on, Mel? You guys better get those signs ready, I wanna hear some screaming. Even if I fuck up a chord, 'kay?"

"OH. Um. Don't scream too loudly, the acoustics in here aren't that great and you won't be able to hear her." Melinda shrugs sheepishly and nods to Shelby. "The next half hour is yours." She steps back and fumbles with her clipboard, giving everyone space. She glances at a clock on the clipboard briefly before pursing her lips in Jax's direction. "I... guess I can hold a sign. It's not like it would be a conflict of interest. It's not a competition." She nods, mostly to herself and takes the 'Kiss me, Shelby!' sign and holds it at waist level with one hand. Melinda catches Jim's sideways glance but ignores it. << What? No one else tries to be polite? >> She steps a little further away from the group to attempt to appear like she's working still.

"Woah, hey, you didn't have to --" Jackson blushes, taking the drink with a bob of his head in a nod. "I mean, thank you, sir. I -- thanks." He doesn't protest /too/ much. He is not exactly rolling in excess funds himself. "I didn't /make/ -- I mean I helped make 'em my school has a glass shop. If it helps," he adds cheerfully, "I don't know near enough about anything to even be able to tell if you mess up. I'll be just as enthusiastic no matter what, kay?" He smiles brighter at the sign holding. He holds his own up a little higher.

"Statium amazing." Ryan echoes this with a small quirk of smile. "Cool. I'll cheer. I bet everyone's gonna love you."

"You bet or you /bet/-bet," Hive is grumbling half under his breath with a suspicious glance at Ryan.

"Nah. Just bet. You got good taste in friends." Ryan says this /preening/, duh.

"I'll flip burgers," Hive is answering Jim now, "when you're there frying the fries alongside me. Brokeass motherfucker." He shrugs a shoulder, then. "The Southerners try to be polite." His fingers flick towards Ryan and Jax. "Not any Yankees. What does Ohio count as, I'm not really up on American -- Americaness."

"Foreign bastard," Jim shoots back, picking something out of his teeth and pulling out a chair from a table to sit down, "Ohio's got the fake-nice you get all across the midwest, but I was raised by dirty /hippies/. You're lucky if they're polite enough to close the bathroom door when they're taking a shit. In a strangers house. - I think /most/ people here don't even know what a chord even is. Just look like you did it on purpose. They'll buy it. Knock 'em dead." With the fedora, her hipster-homeless chic look is pretty much perfect. "And don't /sir/ me, jesus." He hits his coffee, for lack of being able to smoke indoors.

The door opens, again, admitting a swirl of cold air and one neatly-dressed Lucien. Plain enough, in jeans and a green button-down, black coat overtop, he heads towards Melinda but then frowns slightly at the crowd accumulated around Shelby. He's got one gloved hand in his coat pocket, fidgeting at something there, and though he removes winter hat and winter scarf he leaves the gloves on. "Melinda. Shelby. Et -- al." The others get an uncertain nod, even as he's pulling a small black zippered case out of his pocket. "I brought you a -- wait. I know you." His eyes are narrowing on Ryan, intently. "My sister adores you. She's dragging me to your show next month at the Bowery." He says this grudgingly. Perhaps the adoration isn't shared. Perhaps it is and he does not wish to admit it. At a delay, he offers the case to Shelby.

Mr. Knee-Accordian has descended from the stage with wheezy notes marking each step. Shelby takes a last steadying breath and gives her gathered fans her trademark grin. It /looks/ all right--until Lucien arrives and she lights up with pure teenage pissiness. Sure, sure, some of it just bleed from the past day or so, but he makes a convenient target. Sneaky backstabbing bastard who brought her something. It is ungracious, the way she snatches it from his hand. "I didn't invite /you/. Where's the doc? You tell him not to come?" Snark, snark, as she pries the case open to glare inside.

"Hey, Lucien," Melinda smiles warmly at the newcomer, hands too full to offer much of a physical greeting. She just smiles and watches him pay attention to the belle de jour. << See? Fake niceness, I guess. The southern half is too close to Kentucky to not be influenced. I could just be the product of a good home. >> "Sorry, Shelby. It was me." She begins to sound confused. "I thought you'd like Lucien to come."

Jackson's eye widens, a little bit of confusion in his expression as his eyes dart between Lucien and Shelby. He gives Melinda a questioning glance. Wut. "Um --" His nose wrinkles, teeth worrying at one lip ring. "Maybe we should sit. You're gonna be on in a minute, yeah?"

"S'cool. Most people are too freaked out to -- woahwhatthefuck?" Hive's eyebrows shoot upwards, and though his next words are, "Thaaat definitely just took a turn for the pissy," he seems more amused than chiding. "-- Either of them are /just/ as likely to be the obnoxious culprit, here." He claps a hand on Shelby's shoulder, retreating to a table. Away from teenage pissiness. "Hey, back home you'd be lucky if there even were bathrooms. With or without doors," he's offering over his shoulder to Jim.

Ryan flushes slightly at the recognition, but his smile is easy-warm. "Hey, cool. You all friends? Maybe I'll see you there. Good luck, Shelby. We'll hold down all the screaming, yeah?" He follows Hive to sitting. Or maybe just in fleeing from sudden swells of snippiness that put a slight crooked twist in the empath's easy smile.

Jim is occupying himself for a moment digging out his camera and getting a few shots of Mr. Knee-Accordion. /He/ has already taken a seat, leaning back and crossing his legs. "Man, what'd he give her a dog turd?"

"I don't generally keep tabs on Iolaus's whereabouts," Lucien says with a slightly puzzled frown. The case contains a new set of guitar picks. Nice ones. Lucien does not seem overly surprised by Shelby's reaction. Not overly charmed, either. He eyes her a long moment, bland, and then shrugs. He leans in to press a light kiss to Melinda's cheek (it comes with a soft pleasant flush of cheer), tips his head in a polite nod to the others. "Good luck," he says, mildly, and turns to head back out, winding his scarf back around his neck as he goes.

Shelby feels a brief and unfair pulse of resentment for Melinda making that call but it's distracted as she studies the contents of the case. She isn't too aware of the slow retreat of the others, being caught up in staring at the picks. Puzzled as well but unwilling to admit it, she tosses her hair back over her shoulder--and looks up to find Lucien retreating. "Nah...nah, Mel, it's okay. Thanks." She pauses to pry one of the picks loose, tossing a louder, "Thanks," after the man's back. Sourness remains, and confusion, and a mucky mix of confusion that makes the ginger drink earlier a Very Good Idea. "Right." The stage has been left bare long enough. She steps up onto it and angles in towards the microphone.

Even as Lucien steps towards the door, Iolaus steps in through it. Dressed in a black dress shirt edged in with a silver with a matching black and silver belt, and a silver-pinstriped pants, Iolaus is fully color-coordinated. His eyes sweep the club, landing on the teenager stepping in towards the microphone, towards Lucien. His smile widens and he gives a little wave to the Quebecois. "Good evening, Lucien." he says, glancing behind the other man towards the microphone. "And how does it find you?"

'Mmmmmkiss' fills Melinda's mind idly as the mutation charged kiss tickles at her cheek. She smiles a little brighter afterward - well, until she spies Iolaus. << oh fuck, that jerk? >> She draws in a deep breath and steadily starts to ignore two people in the room while keeping tabs on where they are at just in case they try to pull anything. She turns her attention to the stage and to Shelby and clasps both the sign and the clipboard under her elbows as she claps and cheers encouragingly (but not too loudly). "Yeah! Shelby!"

"WOO SHELBY!" Jackson is preemptive in his cheering. He's mostly ignoring the Lucien-Shelby interaction, although it does leave him fairly puzzled as to doubleyew tee eff. And also internally kind of thinking, man, she's /such/ a teenager. He sips at his coffee, curling a leg up beneath himself. "Y'all know that dude?" He did pay attention to the brief kiss. "Oh hey, her doctor's here." This makes him not exactly comfortable. Not exactly /un/, either. Hive says he's okay. So he's okay. Right?

"So much hate," Hive says. Even while clapping. Clapclapclap. "You gonna join on the hatewagon, Cilantro? It seems like the Thing To Do. He gave her guitar picks. They weren't made out of turd."

"Nice ones," Ryan adds absently, but he's geting up -- holding his sign high! -- and making his way over to procure Foods. Drink. Stuff.

"Hippy, man," Jim comments magnanimously, setting his coffee down to clap (a rarity!) "We don't hate - hey hey!" He tries to call after Lucian, to gesture him back to their table, but he doesn't raise his voice too loud. It's more a stage whisper. He snaps a few more pictures.

"It finds me well. I hope you, too. Enjoy the show." Lucien's smile is quick and polite to Iolaus. Just as polite to Jim, with a nod to match. But he is heading out the door to return home.

Shelby reaches for the mic and bumps it. There's a thump, the squeal of feedback. Her entire face goes red. "So. Um...I know y'all are here just because they've got the best fucking coffee in the city," she says in spite of the evidence of signs and cheering and such. "But this is a big damn deal for me, so...thank you. For coming out. And shit." Can she say that? She /just did/. Check it out, the pick comes in handy when she launches right into her first song, with somehow manages to combine aggressive repetitive notes and a perky upbeat--Ingrid Michaelson's "Locked Up". Who can resist a song that begins with mention of scars and cherry red bleeding burns? By the first chorus, she's hugging the mic and bopping back and forth, recently destitched hand holding up well.

Melinda will offer conversation to people when Shelby is not playing, eyeing Jackson for a long moment before looking back to Shelby. She is tapping her toes through the entire first song, smiling as she listens, her mind clearing.

Iolaus raises an eyebrow at the other man's swift departure. "Indeed. I hope it continues so." he says, eyes following the other man as he departs. He frowns, slightly, at Lucien's back, and turns to glance around the room once more, giving Shelby A Look With Raised Eyebrow (a new original performance, now in residence at Montagues.) Still, he shakes it off and steps forward, heading towards the stage with an easy pace. << Hello, Hive. Good to see you here. >> he comments, as he sees the other man. << And I see you brought your famous friend. >>

"I think hippies hate," Jackson says with a quick laugh, "they just do it with more pot involved." But he quiets -- sooort of quiets, head bopping, another quiet cheer given. "Hey, I love this song."

"Everyone hates. That should be a kids book. Remind me. You can illustrate," Hive offers magnanimously to Jax. The voice that cuts back to Iolaus is a good deal more stabbity, slicing into the doctor's mind in a harsh knife of: << Yeah, he came for the ride. Wanted to see if the kid's any good. Might get her a Thing, if she doesn't fuck it up. >> "We knda know him. Jim tends his garden." His eyes are fixed on the stage through all this, foot tapping along absently.

"Oh, hey, the doctor," Jim mutters, only now noticing Iolaus in an idle glance away from the stage. He's squinting critically as the song plays, but if he has a thumb tapping against his camera to the beat .. well, he must be enjoying it somewhat.

Either Shelby did not prepare or she /really/ likes Ingrid because the next songs all come from her playbook. "This is For" is followed by "Mountain and the Sea"--dedicated to "someone who couldn't be here tonight" while she carefully does not look at Jax--and then "Are We There Yet". The vocals are sassy-rough-strong, she only flubs a few chords as her hand begins to tire. Then she launches into her final song. This one comes with a return of the nerves, and a flicker-quick glance at Melinda. Shit, I hope this doesn't get her into trouble. "This one's just for everyone," she says before launching into the opening bars of "Blood Brothers". Boy, it's a good thing she has a nice fresh pick. "If you knew me, would you save that seat for me? If you knew me, would you finally let me free? We're all blood, we're all blood, blood brothers..." Cue the fuck up. As she plays, the flag that had been furled over the skin of her arms and skins ripples down over her back to the stage. It flows up the back wall and flaps against it as flags are wont to do. Butterflies begin to escape the signs being waved in the crowd. They tickle down hands, they work their way over the tables, over /people/, on a course to dance a shiny happy circle around the flag. Aww, look, they're holding wings!

Iolaus listens to the music happily in the audience, smiling and clapping, swaying lightly. When the images start swirling around him, his smile widens greatly, and the clapping starts devolving from keeping with the rhythm to a looser, faster clapping of applause. His eyes flash and glimmer happily, laughing. << No one call the police - she'd lose all the money from the performance in the tickets. >>

Melinda's eyes widen in horror, especially after yesterday, and she swallows hard. Her eyes start scanning the crowd, looking for anyone getting up, reaching for a cell phone or even beginning to look uncomfortable with the performance. Her sign is flopped in half against the back of her clipboard as she gives a little wave to Shelby. Stop. stop. << oh god. oh god. oh god we can't make the news for this. we can't lose the cafe. oh god. >>

Jackson's been listening with appropriate hooting and clapping and cheering between songs (maaaybe a little bit moreso for "Mountain and the Sea".) At this finale, though, his eyes widen, too. Not horror, so much. There's a definite smile twitching on his lips, even over the backdrop of disconcerted murmurs in the crowd and his own internal hoping that there aren't any cops present. Only belatedly does he glance over to Melinda, frowning. His hand lifts, rubbing at his eyes, and he gets up to head over towards her. "Ryan can make people be -- chill. If you want chill," he offers, very low to only Mel.

<< -- Teenagers, >> is Hive's snipped back response to Iolaus and Jim both. It's grudgingly pleased with the display but less so with the panic this inspires in Melinda, and even as Jax makes this offer he's reaching out to the empath.

Ryan, on the other hand, has taken up his nearby spot again, with a hummus-and-sprouts wrap this time and a soy chai, and he whistles all the louder for this show. Cheerfully enthusiastic, his thoughts are split: << Shiiiit my agent's gonna kill me, >> twinned with << Definitely have to see if she'll open. >> Even through this, he's focusing on the music, using it to sooth rumpled edges of panic, dismay, nudge people away from overreacting and encourage them to just focus on -- hey! Butterflies!

A very morose grin twitches at the corner of Jim's mouth. << Fuckin' teenagers. What the hell is she thinking. Maybe we'll have gunshots yet tonight. >> But he continues to grimly take pictures, nodding along to the music almost pensively. Hey. Butterflies! Click.

Butterflies--and hearts! More symbols flee the signs to join the show going on behind Shelby. As she spies Iolaus, there's a slur on the strings. Melinda's gesturing brings another and the girl gives up on playing. But not on singing. She swings the guitar behind her and begins the final chorus with only her clapping hands and a thumping heel to keep time. One heart, a particularly rose one, grows larger and larger until it swallows the flag, the butterflies, its compatriots. It thud-thuds in time, swelling and shrinking, /pulsing/. On the last sung/clapped/thumped note, the pair of lips from the Kiss Me Shelby! sign pops up into the center of the heart. The teenager stops, breathing hard, eyeing the audience and expecting a riot--but getting applause instead. << Holyshitcockawesome! >> "Thanksanddon'tforgettotip!" she rattles into the mic before making for the floor proper. The mingled pictures chase her to wrap around her calves.

When Shelby looks at him, Iolaus' grin widens and he gives her a little salute. But when the teenager bows and makes for the floor, Iolaus shakes his head bemusedly and looks around him at the rest of the audience. "Man, had I known it'd be that kind of performance, I would have invited Jane." he murmurs, pushing his way gently through the crowd towards the bar. A moment - and a stiff espresso - later, he is back, heading towards Jax, Hive and the little crowd of people in the larger one. << Hey, don't leave without catching me. I have a check for you. >>

Melinda is panicking and unhappy, stiff and uncomfortable as her small gestures don't seem to do anything. She looks to Jackson when he starts speaking, but his words make little sense to her. She looks down at the ground. << Oh god, did she plan this? Sure, she's got nothing to lose and should really take a stand and have rights and stuff but after yesterday? And without ... fuck I don't know, warning me? It's not about me. It's not about me... oh, it really shouldn't be about me but I'm going to lose my job and I don't know what to do. >> Mel draws in a deep breath and turns away, trying to banish the thoughts with the pursuit of a glass of cool water from the back. << They'll start calling for a manager soon enough. Best take a break now. >>

"Hey --" Jackson is crossing nearer as Shelby gets off stage, and his smile is quick and bright, if a little reserved. "Shelby, that was pretty cool," he says, reaching out to squeeze her shoulder lightly. "I mean, your set was great. I think you got Melinda pretty spooked, though, y'know? If anything happens here it's her neck that's on the line." He's biting at his lip, a little worried as he slants a glance between Shelby and Melinda.

Ryan's chillin'. With his foods. He looks pretty focused on Hummus. He's actually pretty focused on /keeping/ the room not-a-riot. Yay music! Yay -- shit, no more music. The calm in the room breaks up a bit at the end of the song, and his face pales as his attention turns towards grasping at the various voices and threads of conversation to keep the same effect. It's not quite as stable. Some people manage disgruntled, now. He grimaces, standing. "I need your guitar," he says to Shelby bluntly.

"Shit," is all Hive says, to his coffee. "Wellp." He watches Jax. Listening in carefully with an expression that suggests he /might/ be saying the same thing. But harsher. So he lets Jax do the talking. "Hey," he says to Jim, a moment later, "Coffee's on me next time."

Jim isn't moving towards Shelby - he's eyeing the door. "Damn right it is," he comments to Hive bluntly. "So. That was pretty. And /real/ dumb." He doesn't sound angry just... exhausted. "We should scram," he's whisper-murmuring this. << While we still can. >>

Shelby's pictures--or Jax's pictures but they're hers now--work their way up her legs until she's sprinkled liberally with glitter and fabulous. A small heart ends up decorating one cheek and Jim's fedora gets a butterfly on the brim. She's glowing--and then taken aback when Jackson points out Melinda. "What, why? They fucking /loved/ it!" How quickly the euphoria flees, even in the face of ignorance. Ryan is there and she's too confused to refuse him, unslinging the instrument and handing it over. After more puzzled glances at the faces of those who came to cheer her, she proceeds to Melinda--and by the time she reaches the other woman, she's got contrition splashed all over her expression, along with the freckles and hearts. "I'm sorry, Mel."

Iolaus works his way to put a hand on Hive's shoulder. "I think," he says, with a glance at Shelby. "That it would be best if I gave you your check somewhere else. I have a feeling this rather homely looking cafe is going to become very much less friendly in a few moments," he murmurs, sotto voce, glancing at Mel and Jax. "And," he looks pointedly at Jax with a slanting smile. "I think one episode in the news is enough for you this week." he drawls, voice still quiet and low.

"I... Uh." Melinda leans against the counter near the espresso bar, reaching over to accept the glass of water one of her coworkers hands to her. She glances back at Shelby, pale and uncomfortable and looks her over. She takes this moment to attempt to drink the entire glass of water all at once, a finger held up to signal that she needs a moment. Hydration is important.

Jackson winces slightly at Melinda's leaning, watching Shelby pensively throughout the explanation. "S'gonna be okay, I think," he says, softly. "I think we got this." For a given value of We. "Was close, though."

Ryan has claimed Jax's seat with Jax out of it, absently strumming the guitar. He might almost be tuning it. He doesn't seem to have settled on a song yet. But the absent chords do come with another fresh wash of calm. S'all good, folks. Nothing to see here. There was good music. Tasty coffee. Nice evening.

Hive's been getting up to go, though he does this with much less /urgency/ at Ryan's playing. "We should probably all bail," he agrees. His lips are curled up into a wry smile. "How much of that apology you suppose is for real and how much is a show?" he adds, in an undertone to Jim. Not an undertone: "Yo. Shelb. Nice set. Try not to get Mel canned, yeah, she's done right by you." Though this comes with a blunt-hammered reassurance(?) to Melinda: << No getting fired. Keeping 'em calm doesn't work I'll just smash any fucking cameras myself. >>

Jim's urgency mellows as well, pulling on his coat and looking thoughtfully at Ryan. << Weird time to suddenly want a guitar. >> His suspicious nature isn't up to apologizing for itself. << ... Lucky us. >> He gives the front of Shelby's (HIS) hat a yank, pulling it down over her eyes when she moves past and grunts to Hive, Jax (and Iolaus too - since he's /here/ now), "I'm gonna go check the coast is clear outside. /Hurry/ huh?" And he heads for the door, shoving his arms into his jacket sleeves.

Shelby can wait. She can wait so good while Melinda drinks. Her expression doesn't change at all but she does lift a hand, palm up, revealing a butterfly resting on her fingers. It is a clear and woeful offer: would Melinda like a fake butterfly? << They can't fire her 'cause /I/ pulled some shit! Besides, they totally loved it, did you hear them? I... >> Ryan's calm is getting to her and making her thoughtful. << They didn't really, did they? Oh man. I suck. >> /That's/ when the apology turns genuine, and the butterfly is retracted. "Shit, I'm sorry, Mel. I really am. I wasn't sure I'd do it 'til I did it and...fuck. Look, you can hit me with my guitar, okay? One free shot." She pauses. "Two if you really get fired. IgottagoI'llcallyoubye!" True to form, she doesn't stick around--sticking Ryan with the guitar, and leaving her poor supporters in the dust.

Iolaus gives a bemused look at Shelby's rapidly disappearing back. "Looks like we've been left with the bill." He murmurs softly, under his breath. "I'll meet you outside, Hive." he murmurs, glancing around. "It was good to see you again." he says with a little nod, though who this is /to/ is not particularly clear. Hive? Jax? Melinda? The furniture? All are equally possible. Taking a long sip of his drink, he heads for the door, placing the mug down on the counter on his way out.

Melinda jumps when Hive's voice enters her head, eyes blinking rapidly. When her water is finally drained, she slides the glass back to the other woman, her panic starting to ebb away with Ryan's help and Hive's reassurance. She's a bit wide eyed and opened mouthed when Shelby is done with her, but she nods and lets the girl go on her way. She exhales and surveys the damage. "Oh god, what a night."

"Yeah," Jackson says, a trifle apologetically. "Look, I'll stay an' -- s'anything you need help with?" He's watching the others go, with an absent, << Don't wait, >> for Hive. And the others, by extension. He'll linger. In an attempt to be Helpful in whatever way he can.

Ryan's not going anywhere, either. His absent strumming fades into Santana. The calm pervades. He might be here a bit.

Hive's out, though. He heads over to offer Jax a shoulder-thump, Melinda a quick hug. "Sorry. It'll be aright, though. You'll see." And then he's following the others out.

"No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have panicked." Melinda accepts the hug and gnaws on her lip a little, finding a chair and sinking down into a sitting position. "Thank you guys, but... well, actually, I don't know how long you guys have to sit around and babysit." She glances toward Ryan and then back up at Jax.

"Trust me," Jax says a little wryly, "Ryan's gotta chill for a while. S'all good. His playing's nice." Jax sinks down with Melinda, settling in for -- whatever.