From X-Men: rEvolution
Dramatis Personae

Jax, Melinda


"Honestly, Jax, I have no idea why we haven't done this already."


<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 don't overwhelm too much the scent of chalk on the menu boards.

"-- two each of cookies 'n cupcakes fresh each mornin', rotating the flavors each week. Breads can be more standard." Jax is curled up into a large armchair way in a corner, dressed for the pleasantly warm weather today in a pair of black overalls swirled all over with iridescent rainbow, one strap left hanging open to half-reveal the cheerful yellow Little Miss Sunshine tee underneath, and faintly shimmery purple Doc Martens. Large dark glasses, the more common jewel-bright peacock-tone of his hair suggesting he's probably not altering it today. He's nibbling slowly at a pumpkin chocolate chip cupcake, one of a small assortment of very fall-themed pastries that had been neatly boxed between them when this spiel had started.

His pierced brows knit together, a sudden uncertainty crossing his expression now that they've gotten this far. "I hope this ain't presumptuous. Is this presumptuous? It'd just -- things lately been -- there's been so much -- any extra business be a big help right now."

"Honestly, Jax, I have no idea why we haven't done this already. I suppose that I made some assumptions," Melinda sits in a chair opposite her friend, hands wrapped around a mug of coffee as she slouches, enjoying some time off her feet. "First that you were too busy and second that Shane had first dibs. I suppose it would have been smart just to ask." She's dressed in a striped button down over black slacks, comfy flats on her feet. "So, tell me, what do you think about biscuits? I know you said your bagels need work, but no one in their right mind would think your biscuits aren't the best. I'm thinking of a delightfully savory breakfast sandwich with the Just Egg, creamy chao, and smoked tofu?"

"Oh, he totally would," Jax replies with a laugh, "but it's easy to scale up baking, so 'less we hit another nationwide flour shortage, ain't no dibs necessary. Just make my batches bigger an' we're good. I'll start throwin' biscuits in the mix for you."

He exhales heavily as he sets his half-finished cupcake down, shoulders sagging. "I --" he starts. Stops. Sits up straighter, fixing his smile carefully back into place. "Thank you. Hope folks in SoHo like 'em as much as over in Freaktown. Things been picking up here aright? S'it better or worse without Steve's fan club comin' by to heckle now?"

"It's been better now that the pandemic's not breathing down our necks. Whether Steve's... groupies," Mel lets out a little sigh and shakes her head. "I think it's better without them. Yes, there was some business improvements with the foot traffic, but it was also full of drama. I mean, life is kind of better when you don't have West Side Story playing out on the main floor with blackbirds on one side and -- I don't know what do you call Steve's fans?"

She leans heavily on the arm of her chair that's closer to Jax and studies him. "How are you doing? We haven't had the chance to talk in a long time. Heck, I don't think you've even seen my apartment upstairs. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that Guys & Dolls was such a hit, but I feel so out of touch these days with the people who matter most to me."

"I don't know, really. Patriots? Real Americans? Ooh, Red bloods would be a nice counterpoint with Ryan's," Jax says with a brighter grin -- then a small wrinkle of his nose. "Maybe not so great to keep settin' them against each other since the breakup." He just shifts at Mel's question, biting down at his lip, his shoulders tightening momentarily before, instead: "Oh! Guys & Dolls was great! You got anything else on the horizon? I know theatre's been a bit -- slow pickin' back up but you're great too. I'm sure you're shinin' even with competition -- more fierce right now."

"I don't want to pit them against each other at all, break up or not." Mel takes a sip. "They should all just grow up and let people have their own relationships and stuff." Her brows furrow as she stares at her mug of coffee. "Uh, nothing on the horizon yet. There are auditions I've been to and ones coming up, but I don't know how serious things are right now and keeping everyone here moving takes my focus too. Now, stop dodging and tell me what's going on with you?"

Jax plucks a chocolate chip out of his cupcake. Leaves it uneaten on his plate. Reaches for his own overly-sweetened coffee. Sets the mug back down, still barely touched. He shifts again in his seat, weight transferring from one arm of his chair to the other and then back. "Spence has cancer," he finally says, the tightness in his shoulders collapsing into a heavy sag. "I -- ain't been keeping that from you, we only just learned it. I still -- ain't quite sure how to. It's all been a lot to -- figure out. With B in jail and Shane was sposed to be joinin' Ryan and -- it's. I don't know. I don't know."

"Jax," Mel's tone is soft as she rises and crosses the distance between them, looking to wrap him up in a hug if it doesn't seem undesired. "Oh Jax, I'm so sorry. That's just..."

Jax wraps his arms tight around Mel. He's quiet as he leans into the contact, the heat radiating from him as fierce as ever. It takes a while before he pulls back, slumping back in his chair. "Just feels like -- this chaos that's all kind of blurring together. Doctor appointments and lawyer meetings and rallies an' obviously there's still work between it an' I feel like some kinda ghoul cuz I ain't falling apart or nothin'. Like I'm supposed to be, right? My one kid practically died in jail an' they're doin' the same to the other now, they're accusin' her of horrible things, and lymphoma's -- real serious. But it's like -- you can't really stop juggling. Can't none of these balls afford to drop. Long as you just -- keep at it, it all stays running pretty smooth."

"You're not a ghoul, Jax. You're a dad, and a good one. You're holding it together in some really shitty situations and yeah, you could fall apart and if you need to, I'm here for you, but that doesn't mean you're wrong for not." Mel stays close, settling onto a free chair arm to keep one arm wrapped around Jax's shoulder. "This... is also not your first series of really shitty events. It being not your first time gives you some more gumption than some other people might have."

"Thanks, Mel." Jax actually does pick up his coffee, now, taking a very small sip. "I don't always feel like a good one. Feel like if I was a better one maybe everything wouldn't be on fire all the time." His nose crinkles up, head dipping. "Guess that's partways the anxiety speakin'. Like if I ain't takin' care of everyone all the time what good am I, even? But with the world how it is now there ain't no way -- I kinda gotta focus on who to give my energy to an' what fires to put out. Always sorta feel like I'm doin' it wrong." He swallows, looking down at his plate. "Sorry, I ain't tryna be -- um. Thank you. For listenin'."

"What? You ain't trying to be my friend who knows they can lean on me when they need help? You know you are... and you can lean on me." Mel gives his back a little pat as she leans back as well, giving him a little more space. "You're good for things. If you need me to lecture you on your good points so that your anxiety can get a stern talking to, I will, but I figure it's better to try some easy lovin' instead of jumping straight to that tough stuff all the time."

"I don't know." Jax's laugh is abrupt, breathy. "Oh, gosh. All that goin' on an' here I was worryin' 'bout being too depressin', I guess. Came here to talk sugar, after all. That's -- what I do, right?" This time, his smile is kind of wan. "But you get a side of cancer an' existential crisis with your cookies. Happy Friday."

"Jax, I'm in coffee. I feel like my job is to provide something bitter and grounding to go with all of your sweet. Maybe today, I'm bringing the sweet and you're supplying the Joe. We can switch sometimes." Mel smiles and stands so she can grab her coffee. "Cheers to the weekend. I... will say one thing before we move away from the topic, maybe talk to Shane about his plans. Spence is his brother too. He might not be keen on taking off while he's in treatment."

"We're talkin', but it's a tough decision on a lotta fronts. Shane don't hardly earn nothin' normally an' the tour brings in a lotta money -- just on a real hard practical level. An' this is the biggest opportunity he ever had for his own career -- he won't get another like it for years, an' Spence -- he wants his siblings around, for sure, but I think honestly he'd feel worse if Shane gave that up jus' for him. So it's --" Jax shakes his head again. "S'a lot to weigh. We're gonna be having a lot of tough conversations coming up, that's for sure." He cups his mug close, taking a long sip. "But for a little bit, it is nice to jus' have some sweet."