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Coffee Tea and Mutants - Whee
Dramatis Personae

Iolaus, Jackson, Melinda, Tag


The difficulties of trying to find a room and live in New York


<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 and but doesn't overwhelm too much the scent of chalk on the menu boards. Behind the counter, a tall woman, mid twenties, with long hair swept back in a midlevel pony tail operates half of the machines in the barista section. She looks a little worse for wear, the hazards of the morning rush hour, but is doing better with a little time between orders. She has a few tea pots filled with hot water behind her and is busily wiping down the espresso/latte machine with a clean rag. When she gets a chance, she gulps down cool water from a large glass.

Tag ambles in, hands stuffed deep in the front pocket of his blue-violet hoodie. He stares at the wall, tilts his head, then realizes he is blocking the entryway and moves hastily toward the counter. Tag rests his fingers on the edge of the counter and smiles at the barista. "Hello! Er...are you the one who placed the ad?"

With rush hour wrapping up, the cash register is not manned at the moment, so Melinda speaks up from her corner of the world, smiling pleasantly as she asks, "Can I get you something?" She extricates herself behind the tall counter, revealing herself to be wearing the basic black and white of the food industry, a navy blue apron covering her front. "Oh. Ad? Oh, You mean for the apartment? Sure. I'm Mel." The barista extents a hand over the counter to greet Tag. "You want anything to drink? My treat."

Tag shakes Melinda's hand. "Nice to meet you, Mel. I'm Tag." He glances up at the chalk board. "Wow, thank you! May I have a latte with no sugar?"

"Sure thing!" Melinda replies cheerfully and punches a couple buttons on the register. She looks up after a moment to say, "Go ahead and find a place to sit. I'll bring it out in a moment." The barista doesn't head directly to the espresso machine, but instead ducks into the back room to find some counter relief. She then moves to her machines and works her magic, serving up two drinks in thick, clear glass mugs. The drinks are layered, showing off their composition, with the espresso on the very bottom.

Nodding, Tag drifts over to a table and takes a seat. He studies his surroundings, one finger tracing the barely-visible scatches in the glossy tabletop in front of him. The short, immobile spikes of his hair bleed from indigo to deep purple. He perks up as Mel brings the coffee. "That smells divine!"

"Thank you," Melinda takes a seat next to Tag and leaves her mug on the small table in front of them, slipping the tray to touch lightly on the ground while leaning against the chair. She takes a moment to herself, expression blank and shoulder set weary, before turning to her companion and brightening a little. "So. Apartments. I have one. You want to live with me. Tell me about yourself?" She leans back into the embrace of the armchair and lets her gaze take his appearance in as she draws her drink toward her lap with her.

Tag wraps his slender hands around the mug and sips. He looks up at the ceiling as if expecting to find the answer written there. "I make art," he says, finally meeting Mel's eyes, "Sometimes I get paid for it, sometimes I get chased for it. I have been living in a punk house, but it is getting crowded and not terribly safe. I saved up enough money for a deposit, maybe, and I'm trying to find a more regular job, but..." He snickers and gazes down into the latte. "Well, that's not going too much better my search for regular housing."

"I uh..." Melinda has the misfortune of sipping when Tag mentions that he is less than employed. She sputters and has to take a moment to compose herself. "Um. Wow. Well, that's not the /most/ ringing self endorsement, but I have heard worse." She pulls a cloth from her apron and wipes some of the streams of hot coffee off the sides of the glass she holds. "Here I thought you were going to tell me about the family or the school you attended or something. Down to brass tacks then. Okay." She leans forward and places the glass on the table once more. "Here's the deal for the financially challenged: If you can pay a month ahead and stay one month ahead, then you're golden. If you ever find yourself unable to pay one month, you have that month to find a new place. How does that sound?"

Tag nods, blushing. "That is more than fair, and more consideration than I have found elsewhere. I'm sure I'll be able to find something, but I didn't want to waste your time if that was a deal-breaker, you know?" He takes another sip and rotates the mug slowly between his hands. "My parents run a bookstore off Canal Street, but we don't talk much these days. My siblings are both in school still. Um...I graduated from Columbia University, but that seems like a long time ago." Tag grins sheepishly. "Most restaurant managers and landlords don't care if you have a BS in Biology. They do care that your hair keeps changing colors and your documentation is a mess. How about you?" He raises his eyebrows--the same purple as his hair--and peers at Melinda over the edge of the mug as he lifts it to drink.

"Documentation? Um. No. I don't really have much, I guess. And my hair is pretty much... always the same." Melinda's eyes narrow on his hair color before shaking her head. "As you wouldn't actually be on the lease, the landlord won't much care. You're subletting from me. Best not really bring up the documentation thing, you know. Plausible deniability and all." She smiles and fetches her drink once more. "Went to NYU myself. Theater major. It didn't exactly work out how I thought it would, but I think I'm in a pretty good place, all things considered. Might I have seen your work before? You know, the art stuff?"

Tag smiles again, his relief evident. "Oh, good! I am not sure I could even find my social security card at this point." He fidgets with the jade beads on his left wrist, then deliberately made himself stop. "Yeah, the bohemian artist thing is...not quite what I had planned either, but it is better this way. It's hard to live on art, but not as hard as living without it. I did some posters and fliers for the Center's Pride Month events--I would say the really colorful ones, but they all were. You may have seen some of my billboard work, too." He leans over the table and drops his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "That would be the stuff that gets me chased." He pulls up his sleeve to expose a skinny right forearm and the cursive letters T-a-g in a bright spectrum from red to violet. "This is my tag."


A lithe, androgynous Chinese man, Tag is frequently mistaken for a teenager. Though only 5'3", he possesses a certain wiry strength. He favors brightly colored clothing and wears his short hair spiked, sometimes in its natural black, but more often in an ever-changing variety of hues.

"I see, I see," Melinda states as she investigates the tag. "I'll have to keep an eye out for that in the future." She smiles and takes a drink. "Well, the house is getting together tonight for dinner, so if you want to take a look at the place and meet your potential roommates, we could get together around seven, if that works for you?"

"I would love to," Tag replies, straightening up and rolling his sleeve back down. "I will swing back around at seven." He glances out the window at the street. "Maybe I will have some luck finding respectable work in the meantime!"

Melinda nods and takes her cup into her hands once more, tipping back the contents and getting to her feet. "Okay. I wish you all the luck with your employment endeavors. Hope you have some good news." She smiles and rolls her shoulders back. "The shop has free wifi, if that helps."

Tag rise and dips his head, a shallow bow. "Thank you. I have to hit up the library for anything involving computers for now, but I will keep it in mind!"

The door to Montagues opens, and a figure half-steps into the door, white coat draped easily over his shoulders, and midway through a conversation with another similarly garbed man standing outside. "No, I understand. It's no problem. I'll run the results as soon as you get them to me and I'm back at Sinai." The other man says something that does not quite reach into the store, and the doctor waves his hand. "Yeah. Give me a ring in a couple hours." He smiles, widely, and then steps further into the room, letting the door swing close behind him. As soon as it has latched, Iolaus pinches his nose and lets out a long sigh, the smile dropping off his face. He steps up towards the counter, eyes turning up towards the chalk menu-boards, as he mutters something incomprehensible but clearly none-too-nice under his breath. The word 'idiot' might be audible as part of the rant.

The door has barely had time to close behind Iolaus when it opens with a rather abrupt push, the young man entering seeming in a bit of a hurry -- though given the easy smile on his face and the way he is hugging his sweatshirt (bright blue, with a rainbow-haired pony cavorting on its back) around himself his rush seems to be more to get out of the autumn chill than anything else. Bright in more than just sweatshirt, his shock of blue hair matches, as does the glittery rainbow streaks across his nails. A boxy black bag is slung across his shoulder, resting at his hip, and his eyes shaded behind large mirrored sunglasses that he does not remove even once inside, instead pausing by the door to look around the shop, seeming at first more interested in the other occupants than in the menu.

Melinda smiles awkwardly at Tag's bow and nods her head again, taking her empty glass and heading back toward the counter herself. Eyes shift to the head bobbing around in the barista corner and then the register, Mel opens the gate to the employee area with a small sigh. She smiles warmly (professionally) at her potential customer and asks, "Hi. What can I get for you today?"


His hair is colored like a forest at sunrise, with smatterings of sun-bleached blonde glistening on the top and darker and darker shades of tree-brown beneath it. A few strands fall over his bronzed forehead, giving him a youthful look and mirroring the deep brown of his thin eyebrows that slice across his face. Underneath them are two crystal blue-grey eyes, shining and filled with curiosity and intellect. His nose reaches out forward, angular, before it dips back. His lips are lush and pink, smooth and soft. A slim curve marks his jawline, coming to a round bump of his chin. His neck is tanned and smooth, hairless, with a small bump of an Adam's apple poking out of the center. When his neck is back, or if looked at from the right downward angle, a bump can be seen further than it should be, the result of a foil getting jammed into his throat in an unfortunate fencing accident.

His shoulders are slim, well proportioned to his rather short body. His clothes are usually skin-tight, showing off his lithe chest and stomach; the most frequent exceptions are well-tailored suits or a white lab coat. The same lithe body is found on his arms, toned muscle built for stamina hiding underneath skin from many years of fencing. His stomach is the same, tight and with just a hinting outline of a six-pack traced onto it. His hips are thin, and his legs are slim but surprisingly powerful, considering their thin looks.


Often-dyed hair falls shaggy-floppy to frame graceful features: eyebrows arch dark against pale skin, lips full, cheekbones set high, thick dark lashes around one startlingly vivid blue eye; there is a sunken empty socket where the other should be, though this is often hidden beneath eyepatches in a variety of colours, or mirrored dark glasses. The clean lines of his face are broke up by a wealth of metal, a number of piercings dotted across his features, and much of his skin neck-down plays host to tattoos in bright colours. He stands average height, with a trim swimmer's body; lithe, lean musculature is carried with a dancer's easy grace.

Tag's eyes skip from one newcomer to the other as he sinks back down to finish his latte. Dusky red and orange starts creeping up ever so gradually from the hem of his hoodie, blending into the violet and blue layers like a live sunrise.

Iolaus does not immediately notice the changes going on along the hem of Tag's hoodie. "Oh, I'm sure that I want something, but I'm not sure quite what, yet." He pauses for a moment, giving the barista a small smile. "Do you have any Assam?" he asks. His shoulders straighten slightly as the distance from the man he was talking to increases, and he glances around the room curiously. His eyes land on Jackson, then on Tag - and there they stop. His eyes widen slightly, curiously, as he watches the colors change on the other man's shirt. He glances back to Melinda and smiles. "Tell you what - why don't you surprise me? Black tea, no sugar or milk." He turns and takes a step towards Tag, extending his hand. "Iolaus." he says, eyes flickering over him in a quick, appraising glance.

Jackson /does/ notice the changes immediately, although by the time they start he doesn't seem to have even been looking towards the colour-changing hoodie, instead focused on the menu board finally. But his head turns back that direction once the colour shift starts, and for a moment he just stands, watching with interest. His lips curl upwards, his eyebrows raise, but he heads up towards the counter, greeting Melinda with a bright smile after Iolaus (sort of) orders, "Hi, miss!" His cheerful tones are coated heavily with a thick Southern drawl. "Do y'all have soymilk?"

"Hey, you usually pay when you order here," Melinda complains quietly, her expression darkening as she casts her eyes to the potential roommate who has drawn so much attention. She takes to biting her lip when she finds him to be suddenly wearing different colors. Her confusion and concern is momentarily broken when Jackson approaches. "Yes, sir, and almond milk." She focuses on her own reflection in the customer's sunglasses and remembers to smile. "Do you have a preference?"

Tag watches idly, only noticing when he sets down his latte that he had fallen prey to 'color creep' again. His cheeks flush bright red--by a perfectly commonplace biological process, this time. He hastily finishes the drink and rises to leave.

Iolaus opens his other hand in a gesture of apology, smiling wider at the other man's blush. "Don't worry about it," he says, waving the other man off and dropping his hand. "I know a 'I'm not interested' when I see it." He winks, then turns back towards the line and looks back towards the counter. "Oh, sorry." he says, reaching into his pocket and tugging out his wallet. "Afternoon," he says, to Jackson. He opens it and pulls out a green card, which he patiently holds in one hand to wait for Jackson's order to finish.

"Almond!" Jackson decides, his smile brightening, "that's way tastier. Uh. Can I get a late with almond milk, then, miss? And double shots of espresso? Thanks!" One Of Those Days, perhaps. He frowns slightly as he notices Tag start to leave, a little distracted as he fishes out cash for the purchase -- a little more than is necessary, though he tells Melinda, "Can you put the change in the tips?" He might be being generous, or might just be in a hurry; he flashes Iolaus a smile as the man greets him, but slips past towards the door. "Hey --" he starts to greet Tag, though noticing the other man's blush makes his initial cheer fade to an awkward duck of his head. "Sorry, I shouldn't -- um. Did you --" He lifts his hand, glittery nails scuffing through his brightly coloured hair. "I like your sweatshirt," he eventually settles on, with a sheepish smile.

"Double espresso with almond milk. Check." Melinda's attention becomes more focused when Tag leaves and Iolaus returns with a form of payment. She rings up Jackson's order then gets half way through quoting him the price when he offers her money and then leaves. She collects the cash. "Oh, sure. I guess I can take your money." She purses her lips in concern and watches him pursue her almost roommate. She deposits it into the register and then turns her attention back to Iolaus. "Did you want a pot or just a cup?"

Tag freezes like a rabbit before a hound. "Thanks," he mutters. " my own clothes." He glances back at Iolaus's lab coat, the dire warnings of his friends echoing in his head. Then, despite his best efforts, the hoodie turns completely flame-colored, and so does his hair. He groans. "Oh../gan/."

Jackson flashes an apologetic glance back towards Melinda, biting down on his lip uncertainly. "Yessir, I can see that," he says, with a slight smile and a dip of his head. "Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't mean t'scare you. I just, um. Have been there," he says, with a faint blush of his own and a flick of his fingers (nails now glittery sky-blue where before they were rainbowy) towards Tag's sweatshirt. "It can make life a little difficult. I thought maybe you could use --" His blush deepens, not quite as flame-coloured as Tag's shirt, though it seems to be attempting so. "Sorry, this is really awkward. I shouldn't have bothered you. Your hair looks really cool, though." With a slight dip of his head, he slips back up towards the counter. "M'sorry, miss," he offers to Melinda, "that was rude. Of me."

Melinda finishes Iolaus' order as he gives it and runs his credit card. She passes the order on to her coworker and stands awkwardly behind the register. When Jackson returns, she shrugs a little and looks at Tag a bit longer. "I, uh. It's okay. I don't think it was all that rude. T'was a good tip. Just... fast." She puts a little more effort into her expression and manages to rise above uncomfortable and settles somewhere in the range of shy. "Your orders will be up shortly."

Tag flashes a shy, nervous smile at Jackson. "Thank you. It means a lot." He follows hesitantly back to the counter. "I'm afraid I am the one who was rude, to this gentleman," Tag said, nodding at Iolaus. "I hate tagging things unintentionally, and I freaked out. I am sorry. To you as well, Mel. I should have told you outright. I understand if you want to reconsider."

Iolaus smiles at Melinda. "Thanks." he says, with a brief flash of neat, white teth. A moment or so later he turns his attention back onto Tag, and he gives a little bit of a chuckle. "It's certainly quite noticable, I give you that. Certainly... eye-catching." He grins and shrugs. "No offense taken." he says, eyes twinkling mischeviously. "Many people have told me that I can be a little bit intimidating."

"Yeah," Jackson ducks his head sheepishly, but his smile to Melinda is warm. "It was abrupt. It's just sometimes, you know, you see someone and they look /awesome/ and then you think, there's about seventeen billion people in this city, if I don't say hi /now/ maybe I never will!" His nails have returned to their previous rainbowy strips as he rubs his fingers against the back of his neck. "Aw, s'understandable. People can be brutal sometimes if they notice, I get freaked out about it too." He shrugs one shoulder, and then looks between the others. "It's probably the lab coat," he tells Iolaus, seriously. "You might break out into unexpected sciencing at any moment."

"Oh blast it all." Melinda frowns again, this time at Tag's apology. "You can hide out back here, if you need to, Tag, unwanted attention and all that." She draws in a deep breath. "It... this... thing... it's not an issue for me, what ever it is. Not sure if telling a person outright is all together necessary either." She continues to frown, glancing sideways at Iolaus. "Oh, look. Your order's up. Did you want it to go or did you want to take a seat?"

"Science is great, but the street people tell horror stories about nicely dressed folks taking mutants away," Tag says, shrugging. "It's paranoia mostly. Then one of them disappears and you figure they burned out, but you always wonder. It sticks with you. Thanks, Mel. I don't think I need to hide out, exactly. I hope. I might need something to help me come down off of the caffeine, though. Do you have...chamomile tea or something like that?" He digs out his wallet and produces a dogeared five dollar bill.

Iolaus' face hardens, and his teeth grit. "Not me." he says, with a look of disgust. "The history of my profession is full of those who have not paid cloe enough attention to their oaths, and they should reap what they sew. It's been years since we executed a physician for violations of it. I think that's far too long; we should hang more." he says, lip curling and eyes flashing angrily.

"Coming, er, out right away definitely has its own host of problems, for sure," Jackson says with a crooked smile towards Melinda -- though warm smile drains from Jackson's face as Tag speaks, a ripple of tension shivering through his posture. Just for a moment, and then it is gone, his lips curling up slightly, though when he speaks again his voice is more subdued. "It ain't -- it's not just horror stories," he says, softer, towards Tag. He does not seem to have Iolaus's flash of anger, the doctor's response earning a furrowed brow and sidelong glance from him. "I -- don't know 'bout executin' nobody, but there's -- definitely folks out there who --" His jaw tightens, and he shrugs.

"Becky, a chammomile, and ring it up for me." Melinda speaks up to her coworker as she loads up the tray with Jackson's and Iolaus' orders. "Okay, you guys, come with me. We're going to get you seated." Nothing like tales of horror to drive away other customers at the register. "The tea is on me, Tag." Mel ducks under the counter and leads the way.

"I don't want to believe it is as bad as all that, but still, I do my best to stay off the street." Tag puts his wallet away and follows Melinda. "I would just as soon stay where I am, but I accidentally turned one of my housemates blood red when he attacked me. Now they are scared of me." He rolls his eyes. "Not like it's permanent or anything..."

Iolaus takes a deep breath, and the anger - slowly - fades from his face. "Thanks," he says to Melinda, as he follows her towards a less disruptive part of the store where they can have their doom-and-despair without hurting business (too much). "From what I have heard, there are doctors out there that are in desperate need of a hanging." he says, though this time his voice is less angry. Or, perhaps, his anger has cooled from hot to ice cold, for steel rings clearly in his tone.

"Sorry, miss," Jackson murmurs to Melinda, "m'blocking your counter." He follows after her, resting a hand on the black case he carries. "I don't want to tell you it's as bad as all that. I mean, most folks ain't gonna give you more than dirty looks and maybe a cuss-word or something. But. There /are/ people out there who'll do you much worse. I don't know if it's good to be paranoid, but it's sure good to be careful." He frowns at Iolaus, uncomfortably. "What /have/ you heard?"

"No problem. Just sit yourselves down and enjoy your agitation increasing beverages. Oh dear. I should maybe make that a pot for all of you to share." Melinda leaves thr group in the back corner in a group of comfy couches with a coffee table between them. "Look, I'll send that over in a while and maybe some pastries. I will talk to you later, Tag, and we'll figure out living situations. Now, I have to work." The barista looks sheepish as she makes sure that Jackson's drink is closest to him and Iolaus', to him before taking the tray away. "Let me know if you'd like to order something more substantial." She gives another sheepish nod and turns back to the counter.

Tag slumps onto the couch. "Thanks, Mel." Turing to Iolaus and Jackson, he says, "There are always going to be terrible people who do terrible things. They can do it in all sorts of clothes and in the name of just about any cause. At least I'm good at running away. I just stay ahead of trouble and make art. It's not a bad life."

"Nothing I can repeat, I'm afraid." Iolaus says, looking up at Jackson and making a brief gesture at his lab coat. "Lest there be someone out there with beliefs even stricter than mine." A small, tight smile. He sits down on the couch and picks up his mug, breathing in the smell of the tea. "What kind of art?" he asks, curiously.

From behind his sunglasses Jackson gives Iolaus a long look, lips pressing thin; his hand curls loosely into a fist, though less in any aggressive way and more because his thumb is almost unconsciously brushing against the scarred stump on his right hand where his little finger should be. "Art?" He looks intrigued, too, but no less discomfited. He picks up his drink, but does not sit, instead sidestepping around the table -- farther away from Iolaus.

Tag smiles brightly. "Painting," he replies, sitting up. "I paint on just about anything I can find. Some of it is technically vandalism, but, you know..." He tugs on the drawstrings of his hoodie and turns the entire garment into a riot of rainbows. "I just want to make the world more colorful."

Iolaus laughs and grins brightly at Tag. "That's beautiful." he says, taking a sip of tea and setting it down on the counter. "You are quite talented. And... colorful." his lips quirk amusedly, and he looks over to Jackson. "You as well. I feel distinctly pale with just this," he says, wiggling the white coat with a hand.

Jackson's eyebrows raise with Tag's display, his mouth opening almost comically into an O before he remembers to close it. "You --" he starts, forgetting discomfort entirely in the face of a huge bright smile. "Oh, wow. Uh. Yeah. I -- can relate." He sips at his drink, carefully, and looks towards Iolaus and his white coat -- a white coat that, a moment later, blooms into a bright storm of rainbow, as well, cheerfully colourful to match the other garments. "There. Enjoy it while it lasts. I've got to get to class," he admits with a trace of regret, turning his attention back to Tag, "but I'd like -- I don't know," he admits, with a slight flush pinking his cheeks. "Maybe get together some time and -- art. The world always needs more colour."

Tag gasps, staring at Iolaus's coat, then Jackson, then back at Iolaus. "Definitely," he says, at last "and I will probably be spending a lot more time around here, if all goes well."

A beeping sounds at Iolaus' waist. He pulls a pager off of his waist and looks at it, then swears under his breath. "Sorry, I have to run." he says, standing up quickly. He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a pair of business cards. "If you guys ever need any help, let me know." he says, putting two of his business cards down on the table - Iolaus Saavedro, M.D., Ph.D, Clinical Geneticist at Mount Sinai Hospital. "Duty calls." he gives them a slanting smile and a quick salute, and then heads quickly out of the room. As the door closes behind him, a shout of 'Taxi!' can be heard from outside.

Jackson bites down against his lower lip, teeth clicking against his lip rings, and watches Iolaus take off -- the labcoat fades back to white as the doctor gets to the door. opening a flap of his bag, he extracts a pen, flipping over one of Iolaus's business cards to write his own name on the back. Jax, it says, above a phone number and email address, written in neat spiky handwriting. He slides the business card to Tag, and glances at the second one, but leaves it where it is. "It was, uh. Nice to meet you," he offers, together with a quick smile before he ducks away, taking his caffeine out into the world.