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Dramatis Personae

Ryan, Melinda, Alma


"How you doin'?"


<NYC> Home - East Village

Nestled into the heart of the East Village, Home is an unobtrusive place, with an unobtrusive name to match. A nondescript storefront opens up into an equally nondescript cafe, plain tiled floors, an assortment of veneered tables with plain wooden chairs or booths with cracking vinyl benches. What it does have to recommend it is the food, hearty solid breakfast and brunch served twenty-four hours a day, with a wide variety of menu to cater to specialized diets as well. Well-known to locals and little frequented by tourists, its friendly serving staff tend to remember their regulars, giving the place a warm feel that lives up to its name.

Mid-morning on a weekday isn't the most bustling time for a diner, and today it's relatively quiet in here. The lack of crowds is probably just fine for Ryan, looking not entirely at his most polished -- last night's eyeliner is a little smudged, there are fresh rips in the sleeveless fishnet shirt he has on over his skin-tight red one, the restless energy that has him near vibrating in his seat is a bit too frenetic to be entirely his natural state. He hasn't touched his menu yet, though. Just chugging down a black coffee, clearly he needs a bit more stimulation at this point in his morning. "When's it opening?" he's asking Mel. "I'll totally be there. I'll bring everyone."

"OH, shit. I don't know. What is today?" Melinda is wearing large sunglasses, the plastic frames eclipsing a good portion of her face. She looks curiously at Ryan then chooses to peek over her sunglasses at his body guard. "Anyway. It opens on the tenth... however far away that is. Cast is juuust hitting that phase in the show where we're all flubbing our lines like newbs and missing our cues. I think it's early enough that we should get through it well before final rehearsals."

She hasn't touched her coffee but smells like the freshest of cups, the aroma permeating the white tank top and cut off shorts she has under a light, striped sweater. "And thank you! You don't have to bring *everyone* tho. The fire code is a bitch. What you do have to tell me," she slides her glasses off and folds them up on the table beside her fork, "is what eye cream you use? Because damn, sleep deprived you looks good."

Beside Ryan, Alma has been quiet and, despite probably having kept the same hours, looking considerably more put together. Her blazer is black with a red paisley lining -- mostly but not entirely concealing the two rows of knives she wears on a harness beneath -- over a silver-and-black brocade vest and black trousers. Her thin dreadlocks are coiled up into a crownlike updo with a silver satin kippah adorned with an embroidered pomegranate clipped to its center, and her own makeup is, if not flawless, at least in better shape than her employer's. She is rapidly making her way through her second heavily sweetened latte of the morning, and almost chokes on a sip at Mel's question, though she manages to keep a reasonably straight face as her warm brown eyes flick to Ryan's less-than-pristine eyeliner.

"Uh..." Ryan blinks, takes another large gulp of his coffee. Thus buoyed he feels confident enough to hazard a guess: "October?" He, too, glances to Alma, supplicating. "Oh! I can give you the info for me aesthetician. She's usually booked for facials like forever in advance but you don't need an appointment to go pick up eye cream. Oh man do you think it's a problem I've never seen the original? Is there like a movie version I can watch so I know how much you're outshining it? Have you," he asks Alma, "ever seen Guys and Dolls?" He takes out his phone -- not, mind you, to check the date. Just to tap a moment before, triumphant! "It's playing at the Goodman in Chicago. You free tonight?" He is asking Alma this with a hopeful lift of brows.

"Yes! October. I remember the date well enough, but the fog of too many jobs leaves me adrift in the flow of time." Melinda finally reaches for her menu, staring blankly at the writing. "Oh, the original Guys and Dolls is a delightful romp into static gender roles and heterosexual relationships, where the men are underground gamblers and a strip club owner, and the ladies adhere to either the whore or madonna trope." Mel raises an eyebrow and smiles brightly at Ryan. "It's a classic! Gangsters and flappers! How could you go wrong?"

She then hums a few bars before sing speaking, "Call it sad, call it funny, but it's better than even money that the guy's only doing it for some doll." She shrugs sheepishly. "Hope that doesn't ruin it for you. I've just got my head in the remixed version -- where we turn gamblers to ravers and the Salvation Army to Greenpeace."

"Close!" There's no hint of disparagement in Alma's voice here. "Today is September 26th, which gives us a good solid couple of weeks to opening." She breaks into a smile for Mel's sneak preview. "Can't wait! Though I haven't see the original, either," she admits, gulping down the rest of her latte. "Which is going to make it tough to appreciate how you're subverting the source material." To Ryan, her smile skewing a little crooked. "Obviously I'm not free if we're going to Chicago to see Guys and Dolls: Tired Edition."

"Bam! We're doing it." The alacrity with which Ryan completes this transaction and sets his phone back down suggests he was already 9/10 of the way through ticket purchase before getting confirmation from Alma. "Now we'll be so set to lavish Mel with the proper appreciation. Oh shit," this last comes as their server arrives to take their order. "I don't know, just bring me a vegan... something. Ideally spicy. Maybe like a big orange juice. Thanks. Anyway," back to Mel, brightly, "who loves celebrating gender roles and heterosexual relationships more than us?" He gestures between himself and Alma.

"I'll take the chai french toast," Mel hands her menu to the server after her order. "Oh, and that big oj sounds good." Business concluded. "You know, Ryan, now that you point it out, you two are the picture of the perfect couple. It makes sense that you also love celebrating it." She leans her chin into her cupped hand, the placement of her elbow keeping her upright for now. "And thank you, Alma. I would do math for a count down, but brain no like math either."

"I'll have the sweet potato hash, please," Alma tells the server, "and another latte. Thank you." She glances between Mel and Ryan, brows gathering into a light frown. "Clearly! Now, I have to admit I'm little vague on the details of how heterosexuality works, but I'm the guy and he's the doll, right?" She indicates Ryan with a flourish of her hand. "Just checking."

Ryan breaks into a bright grin. His hands drum restlessly on the table, his head bobbing eagerly in answer to Alma. "{You always look like a million fucking dollars, now I feel like I need to glam it up a bit to keep up.} I'd make a bomb-ass flapper, though. I'm sure I can throw something together." He scoops up his coffee, drums his fingers on the side of the mug, now. "I've read a lot of r/relationships so I feel like I could do a pretty credible hetero cosplay. You," he tips the mug toward Alma, "just need to crash my car while drunk on your way home from having an affair with my best friend, and I'll fret about if I'm being totally unreasonable to ask you to look after our three kids while I take the car to the shop."

Melinda takes a long sip of her coffee and leans back in her seat, a sparkle in her eye at the compliment he pays his body guard. "Oh, and I believe you are paying entirely too much attention to him, when you should be checking out your options right here," Melinda gestures to the rest of the restaurant with a smile. "When you do see the show, I think you should keep your eye on Miss Adelaide. I could totally see you as an natural for that part, should... you know, you feel like dipping your toe in Off-Broadway for one show."

"Way ahead of you, little lady," Alma says breezily. "I don't even need a costume to be a gangster. Hm...wait, does that mean Jax has to get onboard with this heterosexuality business, too? Because I think that might be a hard sell." She shakes her head, slow and sorrowful. "But the show must go on, so I guess he'll have to deal." At Mel's admonition, she gives the other woman a very pointed once-over. "Oh, I will keep my eyes open." She bounces her eyebrows. "How you doin'?"

"Jax can do drag with the best of them. If you give him a good reason." Ryan hides his grin behind his coffee -- at first, anyway, though he bursts into an actual laugh at the waggle of Alma's brows. Sets the coffee back down un-drunk; possibly he's forgotten why he picked it up to begin with. "See?" Bright and triumphant. "Alma's killing the heterosexuality game." His smile doesn't actually fade as he adds: "I'm not sure most theatres could afford the security budget for having me in a show. It's usually important that the stage not get blown up, right?"

"Heeeyy," Melinda responds to Alma's question with appreciation and a bit of an eyebrow waggle. She tops it off with a lifting of her shoulders and breasts, conveniently raised by squeezing her arms. "Buy me a drink and maybe I'll tell ya." Wink. She grins brightly, though the intensity diminishes when Ryan continues about security. She reaches across the table to take his hand. "I was really thinking more of a surprise rather than an advertised occasion -- but honestly, it's probably more fun just to black box it with a limited cast. Lucien can be your Nathan. I'm sure he'd have fun with that."

"You got it, babe." Alma flashes a suave smile at Melinda. "You know, I have been told I'd make a wonderful straight guy, but I always thought that was more about poor straight girls lamenting their shitty boyfriends than about me exactly." She disguises the hitch of her breath with an indignant huff, though there's no real keeping it from Ryan. "This doll doesn't need any encouragement being impulsive."