Logs:In Which Some Memories and Soup Are Both Shared and Some Souls Find a Bit of Cozy

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In Which Some Memories and Soup Are Both Shared and Some Souls Find a Bit of Cozy
Dramatis Personae

Taylor, Winona


"Scared I'd be killed and not even get the dignity of dying."


<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 is getting on to evening, with grey skies, wind and rain conspiring to hide away the little sun that remains of the day. For those who are just now transitioning from early autumn's relative warmth to the chill of the oncoming winter, it is enough of a deterrent for the clientele that the cafe is relatively quiet today. Winona, in her open canvas green jacket, her warm black beanie and a pair of grey, white and black camo style pants, does not seem to have been particularly moved by the cold (possibly an immunity built up from her Minnesota upbringing). Her black t-shirt, with worn white and red print that says, 'Cryptids - Seeking the Unknown' with various images of various creatures (one with tentacles wrapped around the bottom text) advertises her unusual interests.

Her camera rests on her table, the lens cap on, and she seems much more focused on the foam of the pumpkin spice latte that she is watching, a half-eaten cookie on a plate. <<What could make this look cozier?>> she wonders as she brushes her swooped hair aside to view the counter with both of her dark eyes. <<Soup's cozy.>> followed by the admonishing thought, <<I've spent enough today.>> This continues as an internal argumentation that ends with her standing up and approaching the counter that she is already seated near to. "Hey, how's work today?"

Clearly hard at work, Taylor has been slouching against several of his arms, coiled in comfortable loops against the countertop. One limb is still truncated, light bandaging on its foreshortened end and some scarring visible around the edges of the bandage. His phone is in hand, a TikTok video of an English Bulldog on a skateboard playing on the screen, but as Winona approaches he's reaching around with one long limb, pushing a hot bowl of white bean and corn soup towards her. His eyes have lifted from his phone, fixing briefly on the tentacles coiling along the bottom of her shirt with a small lift of brows, a small sharp huff, his own free limbs coiling in around himself, before lifting to her face. "Soup's good," he assures her. "Better than work, that's dull as rocks but rather be here than at home pacing."

There is a slight chill down Winona's spine as Taylor's limb puts down the soup, but whether that's the mind reading or the unusual movement of the tentacle is unclear, and she quickly redirects her attention to the tail end of the bulldog video. <<I'd like to goi skateboarding with a dog.>> She bites her lip and says, "Thanks, yeah... something about soup, warms down to the soul." She puts her hands around the bowl, testing the heat for whether she wants to pick it up that moment, but pauses when she asks, "You worried about pacing a trench back at home? Something weighing on you?"

"Your soul need especial warming today?" Taylor's limbs are twining back around themselves in a sinuous tangle as his weight settles back down, two of them lifting out of the knot to form a hammock for his chin. "-- Did your lab have like. Fuckin'." One slim arm is lifting, rubbing over his head as he considers this question. "I don't fucking know. Uncle-Tom-ass motherfuckers. Try to convince you the Prometheus life is the good life. Things ain't so bad there you just cooperate."

"Nothing worse than a cold soul," says Winona. Some homesickness, worry and sadness creep into the edges of her thought at that, but she stirs the soup some instead of putting them in focus. "Gotta do some regular upkeep when they sky's grey." Her brow scrunches at the latter question, her expression darkens, "Yeah, both at Blackburn and before." A few faces flash through her recollection, with the last being familiar to Taylor. "Convince themselves that it's gonna be the rest of their lives and can't deal with the rest of their lives is gonna be bad. Make up some kind of alternate reality where this is good, actually." Her eyes flick up to Taylor, "My theory, anyways."

"Wait, what?" There's a woman's face surrounded by frizzy brown hair, now seen through different eyes as she returns to view in Winona's mind. Taylor's eyes have grown wider, his severed arm twitching at his back. "You know that psycho?" His broad shoulders hunch tighter, his head shaking. "How you gon' set yourself up in a place locks you in a cage and lops all your limbs off and come talmboutsome, "why are you leaving --" His brows knit hard together. "-- she didn't leave with y'all, either." It's half a question, half just -- glum.

Winona's eyebrows shoot up when she gets the alternate view of Liv. "She didn't want to leave. I don't think... she's ever gonna leave Prometheus, even if every building were demolished brick by brick." An imagined image of the frizzy haired woman staring face up on a pile of ash pops up. "People like that scared the hell out of me when I was there. I don't think I could have survived if I didn't have some hope... but there they were, shambling on, that part of 'em died." She lifts the spoon up to her mouth and focuses on the warmth and flavour. "Scared I'd be killed and not even get the dignity of dying."

"Been keeping me up every night since we gone," Taylor admits. "Like maybe we should have just took her, like maybe -- maybe she wasn't in a mind to make a choice, maybe we should have -- fuck." His arm twitches again, and he slumps further, his bony arms this time folding against the countertop. "Feel like the labs kill a part of all of us. Gotta get out here if you want to nurture it back to life. Can't imagine dying in there," is followed swiftly by, "-- spent a lot of time imagining dying in there lately." His eyes are fixed on Winona's soup, the small disturbances the spoon leaves in its surface. "Feels selfish as hell, but I don't ever want to go back."

"Do you... want to sit down?" says Winona, her eyebrows knitting together as she watches Taylor's slump get slumpier, and she bobs her head towards the table. "I dunno what you should've done. It's an impossible choice, it's not even fair that you have to make it." She blows some of her hair aside, "The person she was before, the person she could be after, they might say something different than the person she is, and you can't ask either of 'em." <<Maybe can ask one of them.>> "It's not selfish to not want to go back. Or if it is, maybe some kind of selfishness is healthy."

Taylor glances past the counter towards the mostly-empty cafe, then nods to Winona. "Feels selfish. A whole lot of people risked a whole fucking lot to give us that hope, you know? Wouldn't have no kinda life at all without that but fuck." He's ducking under the counter, now, slipping across to Winona's table to resume his slump there. "How do you pay back something like that? Or pay -- forward -- shit. Cuz hell if I'm doing that again. But it feels fucking shitty to just -- pretend like all those people we left behind weren't left, you know?"

Winona brings the bowl of soup over, placing it next to her mug. She sits down and then leans forward on her elbows, hands folded together. "Yeah. I know. People have made such sacrifices--" Stories of the raid team being told in the labs, of hard fought battles. Flicker arriving in Blackburn, setting plans to unfold. The sickening crack of a neck being snapped, Aubrey's face frozen in that moment in her memory, unescapable. These memories overlap with a small, sharp but bearable pain as Winona bites her bottom lip and starts to pick at the cookie. "It feels selfish. I want to- I will do anything to help, but- I think I'd really feel like shit if I ended up back there. After the blood paid to get me out." The path of her thoughts seems like a knot that she is struggling to untangle. "It's an impossible position to be in, and yet--" She gestures weakly with a sweeping hand. <<That's the position.>>

"Shit." Taylor whispers this quietly at the memories, his limbs rippling in time with the mental *crack*."I'm sorry, I've gone and made your soup less cozy again." He's twining his limbs back around himself, sinking lower in his seat. "I get the strong feeling if I asked Jax or Ryan'n'em they'd say some annoying-ass shit like having a good long life would be the payback they wanted." There's a small smile on his face despite his profession of annoyance. "I guess," he says slowly, "if we really do it uptown -- if we make Riverdale an actual home for folks coming out, for anyone needs one -- that'd be something. Wouldn't be nothing, anyway."

Winona smiles crookedly, "Yeah, you're right, can't imagine them saying otherwise. 'The best revenge is a life well lived.'" The smile turns small and warm as Taylor continues talking, "Leaving that place, it was nice to have something to come back to, get your bearings. Shelter, food. Community. A home. Breaking out of there was just one part of a whole-- It's a process." She stirs the soup, her spoon clinks against the ceramic, and her thoughts turn warmer as she listens to the familiar ting. "You want to grab a bowl for yourself, join me in a meal? Your soul might benefit from a little cozy, too."

"Community." Taylor echoes this, eyes fixed again on Winona's bowl before he lifts them to glance around the cafe. "A lotta ways to help bring that to life." The revitalization of his posture and small smile on his face look like he's already found some cheer in Winona's words -- still, he nods, limbs unfurling as he gets to his feet. "Yeah. Yeah, thanks. Bit of cozy'd hit the spot."