ArchivedLogs:Of the Mundane and the Magical (Or, a Serendipitous Beginning)

From X-Men: rEvolution
Of the Mundane and the Magical (Or, a Serendipitous Beginning)
Dramatis Personae

Harmony, Kavalam, Lucien, Matt

2017-08-19


"Sometimes the change happens on its own, and sometimes you have to trick it into happening."

Location

<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 bright and glorious Saturday morning, sunny and warm and pleasantly breezy. Evolve isn't particularly busy just yet, immediately after opening; a couple tables full but lots of space and no line at the counter. Well, a very short line at the counter -- Lucien is there, dressed in grey jeans and a light linen mid-length tunic, green embroidered in a subtly shimmery geometric design, both carefully tailored to his form. He has been eying the menu far too long before /finally/ placing an order that seems bigger than necessary for just one person. Lots of tea. Possibly the lack of caffeine as yet was contributing to the Dawdle.

Matt's bone wheelchair is parked at a table by the window, but he himself is nominally on his feet at the moment, making his slow way from the restrooms to slouch against the counter by Lucien's side. His glossy brown hair is impeccable save for one stray lock falling down to the middle of his forehead, and he's looking somewhat less wan and colorless than he has in weeks. He's wearing a green t-shirt with cartoon versions of the Hogwarts mascots, brown cargo shorts and brown athletic sandals. "If there is /any/ ginger /anything/ in that order," he informs his brother solemnly, "I might cry."

The door to the cafe has opened; there's /been/ someone sidling up to the line behind Lucien -- possibly they've been there for a while. Hard to say, really. A mutant, certainly, though even the quiet tug at Matt's awareness seems -- fainter. Ignorable.

It's only when the teenager (because now it becomes clearer that they /are/ a teenager, that they've been there where moments before it seemed like they might well be alone at the counter) /speaks/ that he even seems to warrant looking at at all. Kavalam has moved, when he addresses the brothers, to stand right up between them, head tipped up to catch their eyes -- be good and sure he's directly in their view. "What's wrong with ginger?" His words are crisp and comfortable though his accent is heavy; not-a-native New Yorker, most likely, but a native enough English speaker all the same. "Is there something wrong with the ginger here?"

Outside, another (somewhat more noticeable) teenager is staring appreciatively up at the art that decorates Evolve's storefront. They're wearing a tank top knitted from bright rainbow ombre yarn, loose undyed linen wrap pants, and a black hemp macrame satchel with a majestic evergreen tree applique on its flap. They finally come inside, still staring about at the art even as they come to a stop in line behind the others. They're carrying a half-unfolded paper map of Manhattan in their hands and looking somewhat overwhelmed by the menu. "Oh, wow." Their voice is soft, high-pitched. "This /all/ looks so good." Their eyes flit to Lucien, then Matt, skipping over Kavalam with only a slight hitch, and they manage a slightly nervous smile.

"What sort of monster do you take me for?" Lucien's fingertips touch lightly to his chest, eyes widening in mild affront. "Strawberry-lemon scones and a plate of eggs and hash. And a whole pot of Assam. You know, I do /sometimes/ --" This cuts off in a startled blink, a faint tightening of muscles belying a far more noticeable tensing in his mind as suddenly there is /person/ in front of him where before there -- wasn't? "Ah --" One breath, before he continues smoothly, "-- the ginger muffins are a delight. Scones, as well, when they have them. And the ginger tea is perfectly gingery. My brother may just have lost his taste for them, a bit." His smile comes more easily by the time the newest teenager shows up, and he takes a half-step to the side of the counter. "Pardon, I did not mean to stay -- in the way. {Please}," with a small gesture of invitation toward the counter. "I would advise you as to the menu, but to be honest, it /is/ all quite good."

"Mm...Assam." Matt's eyes dart to the lone barista as if trying to gauge approximate Time Until Tea. "I ought not to have doubted you so." He seems slightly less startled than Lucien at the sudden appearance of Kavalam. His smile comes quickly, his powers feeling around the edges of Kavalam's but not interfering with them directly. "I highly recommend them to anyone who likes ginger. But the strawberry-lemon scones are spectacular, also. Oh!" He shuffles himself out of the way, as well. "Apologies. If you want a recommendation," this last to Harmony, with a thoughtful pause, "try the biscuits with mushroom gravy."

"Assam." Kavalam shifts from one foot to the other, still looking up rather determinedly at the brothers. To Harmony it might well seem as though they're speaking to -- themselves, to nobody, Kavalam entirely less interesting than the menu or the men he is talking to. "Is the Assam good?" Dubious. Maybe a /little/ hopeful. His eyes skip over to Harmony, for a moment. "I like that shirt. You haven't been here before, either?" It's -- probably easy to miss the question, honestly.

Harmony side-steps Kavalam without ever looking directly at him. "Biscuits and gravy," they echo, nodding very slightly. "That /does/ sound very good, thank you ohno!" They slap one hand over their mouth and glance around the room nervously as if expecting zombies to leap out of the woodwork at once. When the undead horde fails to materialize, they relax and let their hand drop. "Sorry I'm -- aagh!" /Both/ hands go to their mouth this time, map flapping sort of awkwardly. "-- new. Around here."

The tension in Lucien's mind coils tighter at the trigger words, though his expression does not change from the small and polite smile. "The Assam is /quite/ good -- at least to my tastes. You may have your own standards, of course." His head tips very slightly to one side, watching Harmony move around Kavalam. For a brief moment his eyes skip to his brother, brows lifting curiously. "You adjust to it, eventually. The actual danger these days, at least, is low enough. Have you just moved, then? Where from?"

"I, too, quite like the Assam here, but if you find it lacking, the proprietor is generally open to constructive feedback." Matt falls quiet for a moment, watching Harmony ignore, or rather fail to even notice Kavalam. Then, meeting his brother's gaze briefly, he looks back down at Kavalam, bright green eyes calm and steady. "I can make this conversation a bit less work for you, if you'd like. At least while you're near me." Harmony's slip-up doesn't make him cringe, as such, but he does offer a small, sympathetic smile. "I had a time getting used to it, too. Easiest if you pick a go-to language that isn't English, at least for the most common no-no words. Spanish, French, and Chinese are the most popular around here, though it can vary."

"I like your shirt --" Kavalam repeats this a little more /determinedly/, tipping up onto his toes as if this will help (it doesn't, though a moment later his careful /focus/ does, his next words easier for Harmony to actually register: "This is your first time here, too?" He frowns at Matt, shoulders tensing and his weight shifting back a touch -- even though his eyes have widened, keen and curious. "You? How could you?" The guarded tone in his voice comes with an unconscious crossing of arms over his chest.

Harmony catches the barista's eye and asks for biscuits and gravy along with a chai, concluding the order with a very careful "{Thank you}" in Mandarin before paying up, though they blush when saying the words. "I think it makes people very uncomfortable even if it isn't dangerous, though," they say to Lucien, shrugging. "I just got here yesterday, from San Francisco. It's /very/ different." Blinking at Kavalam, finally noticing him. "Oh! Sor -- I mean, I didn't..." They blush fiercely, dipping their head. "Um, yes, I...read about it. On the Internet." This sounds just a little uncertain, for some reason.

"It does." Lucien's smile brightens as their food arrives -- he gives a warm thanks (in French) to the barista, taking the heavily laden tray carefully in both hands. "Yesterday! Goodness. I suppose it is too early to ask how you are settling in -- in that case, then, welcome." He is still watching the interaction -- such as it is -- between Kavalam and Harmony with a thoughtful appraisal. "My brother has many handy tricks. But it may be a bit less tiring for you, with his assistance."

"Sconnnnnne." Matt snags a strawberry-lemon scone and nibbles on a corner of it. "I have a sense for these things, and also teach at Xavier's School, where have some experience helping young people wrangle newfound and sometimes uncooperative talents." He pauses briefly, concentrating, then shakes his head. "I can't tell exactly how you're doing that, but I'm reasonably sure you're not doing it /intentionally/. Making it stop is easier for me than figuring out how it works." He gives a small shrug. "As I said--only if you'd like." His smile brightens slightly. "I hope you are liking New York so far. There's certainly a /lot/ of it."

"The -- /mutant/ -- school?" Kavalam's voice is a little more hushed, here. "What do you teach, are there many of us there? Do they really help with -- learning --" Eyes skipping around the cafe a little furtively before returning to Matt. Tentative, cautiously hopeful: "/Could/ you?" His arms have crossed tighter around his chest. He is a bit self-conscious as he confides in Harmony: "I, too. I read it. On the internet. What is San Francisco -- like?"

"Oh! Xavier's." Harmony is not being particularly hush. Kind of matter-of-fact. Then, a little quieter, "I'm going there -- soon! I haven't been just yet, though. Could he...what?" They tilt their head curiously at Kavalam. "Um...San Francisco is cooler, hillier, foggier -- especially where I was staying. Not not as big, and as crowded, most places. It's /very/ pretty. So is New York!" She says quickly, blushing again. "Just in a different way."

"Yes. And yes. Among other things, they help students learn to understand and safely use their abilities." Lucien leans slightly back against the counter, still holding the tray within Matt's easy reach. "/Doubly/ welcome to you, then. If you've not yet been out to the school, it should be perhaps a pleasant change. The grounds are lovely -- and far less hectic than New York, to be certain."

"Well, I shall be seeing you on campus soon enough, then!" Matt tells Harmony. "I teach French literature and pagan history." He puts the scone back on its plate. "But because of /my/ particular talents, I tutor many students on the use of their abilities. Or, sometimes, just giving them a bit of respite. Like so." His powers stretch out and dampen Kavalam's, firmly but gradually, monitoring for any adverse responses.

Kavalam's fingers are scrunching tight at the sides of his shirt, his eyes for a moment focused on Matt before slipping away. Around the cafe, to the faces of the others eating and chatting around them. There doesn't seem to be any negative repercussions forthcoming -- the boy's tight-guarded posture remains approximately the same, brow scrunching up in uncertainty.

It's only when the barista looks down over the counter -- with a bit of surprise, a bit of apology: "-- Oh! Pardon, have you been helped?" -- that Kavalam's eyes widen. Huge, a bit brighter, his breath expelled in the same relieved /release/ that propels him forward in one rush of motion to fling skinny arms tight around Matt.

Then pull back just as quick, head hanging with a touch of chagrin. "Is /everyone/ at that school magic?" Eying Harmony: "Are /you/ magic?"

Harmony looks profoundly confused by the exchange, an uncertain smile written on their lips. "Wait, did something just happen?" They blush /again./ "I shouldn't pry, though, sor -- uh, I...apologize." They seem a little taken aback by Kavalam's question. "I -- I don't think -- most people don't --" They bite down on their lower lip, hard. "It's not magic. I think...magic is something /else./"

"Only a small touch of magic," Lucien answers Harmony's question with a fleeting curl of smile, though his eyes remain, at first, on his brother. He drops his gaze to the teenagers shortly, head tilting slightly at Harmony's proclamation. "What does magic mean to you?" If there is anything less than sincere in this question, it does not come through in his thoughtful expression or quiet tone.

Matt's smile broadens when the barista takes notice of Kavalam, and if he's at all bothered by the teen's abrupt demonstrativeness he gives no indication. "Not /everyone/ there, but most, yes. Sometimes it makes dorm life a bit more exciting than it might otherwise be. The faculty and staff are used to it, though." There's a slight weary droop to his posture that most likely only a familiar eye would detect. "If nothing else can be said for the school, it does give young people space and resources to explore their abilities that they might have trouble finding elsewhere." He considers this for a moment. "That's its own magic, I suppose. If you'd like to order something," he adds to Kavalam, "you're welcome to sit down with us. Or just /near/ us, if you'd rather. I can maintain this so long as you remain within say, 20 or 30 feet of me."

"He fixed me," Kavalam explains brightly to Harmony. "Already! Yesterday only I had looked up this school. Today --" His fingers snap together. "Fixed. If this is how it is there I will go. Put in my application /straightaway/." The quick bounce on his toes makes it seem like he might be considering, in fact, dashing off to do just that. He settles, though, giving his cheerful order (chai, a lentil soup) to the barista and pulling out his wallet with a /flourish/ to pay for it. "Do you know magic?" More curiously, at Harmony. "Do you know what it is?"

"Fixed?" says Harmony, not actually sounding any less mystified. "Um, that's...good! Were you hurt?" They glance furtively at Matt. When their order comes up they fetch it from the counter, but then immediately set the tray down again to add sugar to their tea. They turn and glance up at Lucien. To Kavalam. Frowns, looks down at their food. "I'm not sure," they admit finally. "I think -- this is probably /stupid/." They take a deep breath. "But. Like when something amazing happens to you and it makes something inside you /change/? That's magic. And you can get it to work the other way around. Sometimes the change happens on its own, and sometimes you have to trick it into happening -- with like candles or music or words or --" They shake their head sharply. "Anyway, there's lots of people /way/ smarter than me who say magic is all kinds of other things so, and tons more who say there's /no/ such thing."

"That's a bit of a strong word. It is not permanent," Lucien cautions Kavalam. He steps aside, now, to go set his own tray down on their vacated table, in front of Matt's ornate bone-sculpted wheelchair. Then returns to the counter to offer his brother his arm. "I do not think that sounds stupid at all. There are many and varied -- and quite personal -- ways to conceptualize magic, and yours is as sound as any I have heard. Giving some sort of shape to the ways we affect the world -- the ways it affects us -- that is as magical as anything."

Matt's smile turns just a touch wistful. "I'm actively suppressing that effect of yours, and can only do so while I'm nearby." Gently, his power coils into Lucien's, not doing anything with it but just holding fast. "But given time I may be able to help you learn how to turn it off /yourself/, or at least work around it more easily." He tips his head at Harmony, dropping another lock of hair down across his forehead, "Agreed, not stupid. Though, even if our powers are not magic, what we do with them can be as mundane or as magical as candles and music and words." He takes his brother's arm, resting more of his weight on the other man than is probably obvious to the teens. "You can sit with us, too, if you'd like. I promise I won't get all teachery on you, though if you've questions about the school--either of you--I can probably answer them, or point you toward some alumni."

Kavalam doesn't seem all that put out by this correction. Trotting over to the table, he waves at any other patrons he passes by. Wide-eyed each time when they readily look back at him. Flopping into a seat, he helps himself unbidden to some hash, plucking it with his fingers off the brothers' plate. His head waggles, one side to the other. "What luck running into you. /So/ many questions I have."