Logs:In Which There Is A Surprising Deficit Of Coffee And An Unfortunate Surplus Of America

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In Which There Is A Surprising Deficit Of Coffee And An Unfortunate Surplus Of America
Dramatis Personae

Dawson, Mercury, Polaris, Taylor


<< ... oh no maybe I'm underthinking it, >>


<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 sunny-bright afternoon in New York, and Evolve is bustling. Regrettably for their bottom line, most people there seem to be only minimally buying any actual food or drinks, but such is life in these times. On the patio outside there's a signmaking party going on, markers and spraypaints galore as a small crowd works on putting their slogans on posterboard or slabs of plywood or torn-up carboard. "BLACK MUTANT LIVES MATTER", "ABOLISH THE POLICE", "ACAB means MID too!" and more. An elaborate chalk mural is in progress on the sidewalk and wall. Inside the mood is much the same; it's very clear from many of the shirts and posters and rolled-up banners scattered throughout the knots of (tired) (sweaty) (eager) people where a lot of this crowd has been coming in from.

Even in the middle of the bustle Taylor kind of stands out, tall and inkskinned with his writhing mass of tentacles poking through the jagged-torn holes in his tee shirt ("WHITE LIVES MATTER TOO MUCH", it reads in bold white all-caps on the black fabric) as he emerges onto the patio to set down two large cambros (LEMONADE, one is marked, and the other, WATER) condensation already beading on their outsides. There's a large tray in one of his other limbs, tiny cut-up sandwiches laid neatly out on it, though once he has shed himself of the drinks he looks around at the busy scene (nearly all the tables occupied) with some mild consternation.

Ultimately he settles for setting the tray down on top of a pile of DSA leaflets that have been left on the plastic table set up to one side of the patio. Good enough.

Honestly, she was glad she'd moved here in the summer. It was warm day, and just barely enough to trick her brain that it was still back in Australia, the land of sun and freedom. Well, at least relative to America.

But sacrifices have to made in the name of progress, and she was tired of the migraines, so here she was- in the good old US-of-fuckin'-A, about to walk into a mutant coffee shop and gape around like a dumb bitch. She'd never met more than one mutant in Perth, as closed off as she'd been, but there was no time like the present. And it wasn't like she could hide it for long, anyway. Not many folk actively glow.

Yes, her skin glowed. A light yellow that concentrated on her hair, eyes, lips and veins, making any previous colouration impossible to distinguish. Fuck all those bleach treatments she'd gotten- her mutation had decided luminescent was the colour for her. Normally she'd cover up entirely- COVID had been as awesome excuse to wear a mask, but today she was dressed normally. For her, anyway. She wore a long-sleeve black dress that stopped at the lower thigh, with black round toed heels. Just because she let off light didn't mean she had to stop being goth, or had to be modest. The cloth she'd picked mostly covered her glow where it sat, but not entirely. Makeup was worthless to her, but she kept on her cat-eye sunglasses. Her sclera and eyes were difficult to distinguish, and molten yellow tended to set people off. Probably wouldn't have that issue here, but it was better to be safe than sorry. To be frank she was half expecting a full-on redneck to be behind the counter with a shotgun and a net, but according to the reviews this place was legit.

She was slightly put at ease by the signs- her inner mantra of 'ACAB' echoed, but the bustle of people set her on edge. She was an introvert, through and through; some might even suggest a misanthropist. Was there a version of that for mutants too? Probably not. That's how things tended to be. She pushed past the crowd, frowning as she brushed against someone, reaching the counter and pretending to check out the chalkboard, trying not to be hyper-aware, but failing.

In contrast to Taylor -- and the rest of the crowd -- Dawson looks rather bland. If he's here for an uprising it's hard to tell -- plain blue-grey button-down, crisply ironed khakis, hair combed neat. The prosthetic arm he wears at his right side has a brighter splash of color at least -- no real attempts made to disguise the mechanical limb as human, it's been painted elaborately with a rippling of speckled beige and black feathers, a flash of yellow feathering visible in the design on the underside.

"Need a hand?" Somewhere across the rapidfire flutter of his thoughts there's a wisp of humor at this. He doesn't wait for Taylor to answer before he's picking up an old emptied tray, only crumbs left on it, and a near-empty coffee dispenser to carry both back toward the door. (Less humored: a constant undercurrent assessment of just how visible the signmaking patio-party is; how quickly someone could get from the dining room back there if anyone shows up to stir up trouble.)

He pushes the cafe door open with a shoulder, propping it on one heel for Taylor behind him. "Has it been like this all week?" He's racking his brain for the last time he came here in person -- between Too Many Shifts at the hospital and his off-time spent volunteer medicking there's been little enough time for cocoa.

Polaris has just delivered a tray of various caffeinated and iced beverages to a booth full of exhausted punks. She's dressed for the heat in a black corset top trimmed with green satin brocade and black cutoff shorts barely visible behind her half-apron, her heavy boots, wrist cuffs, and belt are all decorated with copious metal hardware. Her makeup is light today, just a dusting of silvery eyeshadow and lip gloss with silvery sheen, her nails naked and her green hair twisted up into an uninspired but serviceably neat bun. She turns around and manages a smile for the new arrival as she tucks the tray under her arm. "Hey there!" she chirps at Mercury as she slips behind the counter to join her coworkers there. "See anything you like? The pay-what-you-like special today is sweet potato hash."

To Taylor her thoughts are muted and slow, colored by flashes of restless anxiety both distant and jarringly intense. << Two months ago no one wanted anything to do with New York, and now everyone wants to be here oh shit are we out of oat milk again I swear to god... >> This worrying (and the vague intention to check) are sidelined by Dawson's arrival. The brightness of her reaction--is it joy? Relief? Something positive, anyway--doesn't altogether make it to her face, though she does straighten up just a touch. "Heeeeeey, cocoa for you, or is it lemonade o'clock?"

"Hell yeah it's been a fucking madhouse." Taylor snags several empty dishes on his way back in, stacking them with the careless ease of long practice. "In a good way, though -- if you ignore the goddamn white people been complaining that we out here feeding folks like it hasn't been damn clear from the jump who we are. But Lord do some people not know when to just get their coffee and shut the entire fuck up." He sets the dishes into a tray in the bussing station, tipping his chin up in greeting to the newcomer together with a smile, bright white and sharply-contrasting his jet black skin. "Yo! New in town, or just haven't been here before?"

She's already on edge and honestly, sort of overwhelmed. But what's new? Weirdly spending several years locked inside doesn't do wonders for social growth.

"New." She replied, refined Australian accent coming through clearly. "And potatoes sound good. What's the coffee situation? Brewed here or...?" She took out a twenty, having absolutely no idea about the expected cost of anything here, but assuming it was equivalent to Australia. The coffee sure hadn't been so far; she'd spat out her first Starbucks. Australia's coffee culture was huge, and she'd expected similar, but so far it hadn't been up to par.

She'd only glanced at him before, but wondering if she'd been too short she turned to address the stranger, but stopped short. Undoubtedly a mutant. At least the website wasn't lying, but she instantly felt awkward and unsure. The only other mutants she'd met had looked like humans, so it was disarmed to meet eyes with another one that was clearly not so. Should they exchange some sort of freak high-five? "From Perth, Western Australia."

Her owns thoughts were sharp and wary, anxious but determined, unwilling to meet people but still persisting in doing so, an internal conflict playing out. She was both put at ease by the clearly inhuman man but also immediately self-conscious of her own oddness, wondering if he often met folks like her, and if he'd think it was weird if she was taken aback.

There's a brief uncertain rattling in Dawson's mind over this (<< when DO you get coffee and shut the heck up? >> << should I not talk? am I supposed to be Not Talking? >> << does he mean OTHER white people? >> -- << I'm overthinking this I'm probably One Of Those White People just by stressing about -- >> << SORRY TAYLOR please disregard -- >>)

Together with a sudden and deep flush, there's a slightly lopsided smile spreading across his face, twisting at the gnarled scarring there. "Uh --" << this isn't a hard question why ARE you here >> "Right, sorry, definitely a lemonade sort of day. The potatoes are good," he adds to Mercury. << Wonder if she can turn that off? >> "Coffee, too. You here for good or just visiting?"

Polaris suddenly remembers the oat milk again, and glances at the industrial beverage refrigerator opposite the espresso machine. Its brushed steel door opens of its own accord even as she reaches in, picks up the carton of oat milk, and rattles it. << Okay still good...how folks out there, Taylor, do we need someone to like--keep watch or something? >> This thought also gets shoved aside promptly at the reply from their new customer. "The coffee situation is amazing, if you ask me--or him!" This with a slightly wider smile at Dawson as she replaces the oat milk and pulls out a pitcher labelled "LEMONADE" instead. The refrigerator door conveniently closes itself as she scoops some ice into a pint glass. "What's your taste in brews?" she asks Mercury while she pours Dawson his drink. "It's all in-house, we got everything from good strong drip to pour-overs to fancy espresso drinks." She hands Dawson the tall glass. << Is he medicking again later would that be weird to ask? >> She starts to tap out the order on the tablet mounted in front of her. "How much you wanna pay for the hash? The recommended default is five dollars, but you're welcome to go higher or lower!"

<< I'm keeping watch. >> Taylor's reply comes casual to Polaris alone. "Roasted here, brewed here." He's leaning several of his serpentine arms up against the counter, leaning his weight on them as he hides a smile behind one loosely-curled hand. There's a distinct amusement in the look he fixes on Dawson, but once he drops his hand his bland statement comes deadpan: "I mean white people."

One of his shoulders rolls; his eye squinches up as he looks over Mercury. "Australia? Damn. I got almost no idea what shit's like for us on that side of the world. You got much community there?"

"Exactly why I'm here. For the most part, anyway." << And to stop eating shit >> she thought, disdainfully, "Until Perth gets hip mutant coffee shops I'll be kicking it here."

She turns to address Polaris, "Five for hash, five for coffee, two for tips. That's how it works?" She drawls, handing over the twenty. "I'm ah," She pauses, "You can call me Mercury. Yellow, blue, hot and totally uninhabitable. Just thought it fit." She smirked. The 'blue' part wasn't apparent, and hopefully nobody here would ever have to see it. "Coffee is a large latte, full milk and no sugar, thanks. Starbucks put so much shit in my drink I choked."

Addressing the group more generally she still seemed to struggle, anxiety evident in her stiff body language. "Do y'all own this joint then? Thought that'd be dangerous." << Which is why I'm here, clearly. >> "With all the... America around."

<< ... oh no maybe I'm underthinking it, >> starts up again in Dawson's head, this time whirling around and butting up against a cacophany of other mingled thoughts -- rather detailed opinion on which coffee here is best (though he's never drunk it), what the latest news he's seen about Mutants In Australia might have been, what it was like the last time Evolve got firebombed --

"-- it's dangerous." His voice is a little bit wry. "The owner is a mutant, and there's a lot of America, around, that's for sure. I doubt a week goes by without hate mail and threats here, but they work hard to keep it safe. People don't always make that an easy job."

Polaris freezes for a fraction of a second, darting an unreadable glance at Taylor. << Oh shit he wasn't just talking about the customers maybe I'm talking too much--sorry! About. This I mean. >> For a moment her anxiety isn't so distant, and the focus of her attention also speeds a quick review of the day. << Damn, this shift feels like it just started but actually--am I talking too much? >>

For all that there's only a brief delay in her response to Mercury, fortunately covered by Dawson. "Only four for the cappuccino, I'll get that started for you right away," she says brightly as she accepts the bill and makes change, the amusement in her voice mild compared to the bubbling humor that feels just out of her mind's reach. "I'm Polaris--astronomy names represent!" And yeah, the threats are pretty much constant."

"Shiiit, show me a trick to keep America outta here and I'd be all over that." Taylor's head shakes, one shoulder lifting and falling a little too-casually. "Yeah, the boss is also a freak. We get hella threats, but it's worth it, I think. Not so many places we can just come and --" One of his smallest arms flexes outward in a vague and encompassing gesture around the cafe. "Not sure I've heard a person described as uninhabitable before. Though I do know plenty of people it's true of."

"Thanks." She dumps the change into the tip jar wordlessly, "Astronomy names not just for YA novel villains anymore." She responded dryly, a small smile grazing her features, revealing glowing teeth.

She glanced at Taylor in amusement. "I'm asexual, so uninhabitable works for me. 'S nice to hear someone say 'freak', honestly. I mean, that's what it is. I glow like a fucking firefly and that's extremely freaky." She shrugs, unbothered. "I can't turn it off, by the way. That's always the first question. And yes, I do have to wear an face mask to sleep. Least your freaky-ness seems helpful. Mine just makes me popular at raves." She folded her arms, a little unsure, "But maybe that's rude to say. I haven't met many other mutants so I wouldn't know, sorry." The apology was remarkably unapologetic. << A freak is a freak is a freak. May as well own it. >>

"If you wouldn't mind, let your boss know I'm looking for a tech gig. Cyber security, IT, all that shit." << And a force field would probably boost security, but that's neither here nor there. >> "Working from home is okay but I came out here to meet folks. And I don't care about the danger... I'm a tough nut." Memories roll through, clear to Taylor; of her purposefully dragging scissors across her hand and watching the molten gold flow, only to then stop and retract, as if attracted to the cut, the wound closing and leaving only a faint blue scar that faded within the day. After that- immediate, visceral pain as she collapsed, head threatening to break in two entirely. Taken a whole week to recover from that headache.

<< ... oh, she's just talking about sex. >> There's a reflexive dismissal in Dawson's mind, somewhere between bored and annoyed, that he pushes aside together with his other thoughts of what uninhabitable might have meant. "Here I thought you meant uninhabitable like. Biologically." (Somewhere in the back of his head, flutters of another brightly-glowing person, tattoos backlit like stained glass -- of a midnight-void with demonic glowing eyes -- of an uncertain smile in a warm tan face.)

He drops his gaze, pulling his lemonade close with a nod of thanks to Polaris. Also reflexively shoving down the knee-jerk prickle that rises at the word helpful -- outwardly, he just crooks a tiny smile, his voice still quiet when he speaks again. "I -- think probably it's been a little more complicated for him than just helpful." He's pulling out his wallet, a five dollar bill and a credit card from inside -- the former goes straight in the tip jar. "You mind getting me a sorbet, too? Do you still have the tangerine?"

"Become the Sovereign Kingdom of Evolve?" Polaris suggests lightly, then winces. << That'd definitely get us firebombed into the ground, officially. >> A steel cup flies to her hand from the drying rack and she starts mixing up Mercury's cappuccino with admirable alacrity. "Anyway, I haven't ruled out YA novel villain as a careers just yet, but it's nice to have options." A mild and distant discomfort stirs in her when Mercury smiles, and she shoves it aside out of sheer learned mental habit--aided by her temporary non-comprehension. << Wait what? >> "Ah, and here I was thinking you meant like--you were immune to the virus even before you came here."

She hands the mug over, a starburst pattern sketched into the foam on top. "One cappuccino for you, and the hash will be coming right out." Her hazel eyes dart somewhat reflexively to Taylor's many, many arms--and average number of hands--an uncertainty welling up at the word "handy", shortly to disappear into the general background of her anxiety. She only nods soberly at Dawson's comment on that. "Yep! It's been going fast, but Shane ordered extra. I'll tell him," she adds earnestly as she swipes Dawson's card and hands it back, flipping the tablet around for him to sign, "but might be worth putting up an ad on our low-tech bulletin board there, too."

Taylor's lips twitch, just slightly. His head tips back towards the ceiling, his actual hands lacing across the flat of his stomach. "Mine makes me popular exactly nowhere," his tone is veeeery light, "but it does come in handy." One of his eyebrows crooks up, and now his smile spreads wider. "How long you think we'd last if we declared independence? I think we could mount a pretty epic standoff before the massacre."

One slender arm snakes up over his shoulder, pointing with a small darting motion towards the bulletin board in question. "People post all kinds of shit up there. Jobs, services they're offering, freak-friendly housing. Can be a useful thing to check out while you're here."

"Oh." She thinks for a moment, "Well I am, actually. Not immune but good enough- I can kill off anything I don't like." Maybe revealing a bit much, but it wasn't like it was able to be taken from her. Anyone hoping to make heal-juice was fresh out of luck. "So I'm not concerned. Not that I have to be- NYC has done well for itself, recently." She observed Polaris using her... telekinesis? << Well I'm officially in a room with more mutants in it then I ever have been. >> She takes the mug, "Thanks." It was pleasantly hot in her hand.

"...arm-wrestling contests. Though." << and weird porn.>> She keeps to herself. "And if there's a massacre going down then I'm bouncing... for as long as a glowbug can bounce- which is to say, not very long." She glances at the board, "I'll make an ad and put it up another time, thanks; and I'd appreciate that, Polaris." It sounded strange to say, but no weirder than her own name. She'd get used to it.

"So beyond cute coffee clubs is there..." She seemed to be considering her words, "Any other places for weird folks? Somewhere with less..." She motions to the small crowd of excitable mostly-humans. Her thoughts would reveal that she was uncomfortable asking, but needed too nonetheless. Images of her trapped in bed, heartbeat monitor beeping away in the background, shot through her mind and strengthened her resolve. "Don't have to be reputable." << Used to be a stripper, what the hell do I care about reputable? >>

<< Less... black people? >> Dawson watches the motion with no comprehension. His brows lift uncertainly, and he glances over towards the patio. "Less -- what?" he asks, cautious. He takes the card back, one finger swiping rapidly against the screen to sign. "I'm pretty sure most of New York would consider this place pretty disreputable already." A flutter of complicated emotions, there, that don't quite resolve. "And if you're going to start a war, can you let me know first? I'd have -- some serious schedule-rearranging to do."

"Oh, don't worry, I wanna keep my job, so no seceding without the boss's say-so. Or Daiki's, probably." Polaris looks around the cafe and out at the crowded patio speculatively. "I'd give us like. A couple of hours? If Dawson cleared his schedule we might last all--" She breaks off, blushing fiercely. "--a lot longer." The ice cream scoop flies to her hand from its warm water bath and she busies herself packing a small bowl of tangerine sorbet, generously. She glances up at Mercury when she trails off, also puzzled. << Less...black people? >> "I'm honestly pretty new here myself, but these guys could probably set you on the right path if we knew what you were looking for."

Taylor looks from Mercury to the signmaking party outside. Very briefly, his eyes flick down towards his shirt before he looks back to Mercury. A small sinuous shift of the limbs that are propped against the counter levers him a bit more upright, posture straightening from his languid slouch. His brows lift, silent and questioning.

She clearly didn't pick up what they were putting down, Australia having issues with racism but not particularly with black people, so it didn't seem to occur to her, "Less... people. I'm an introvert. If coffee and potatoes weren't so fucking good outside my house then I'd never leave. Even my shitty apartment now."

<< Can't even deal with a few new faces? Good luck getting anyone to help you, you weak bitch. >> The thoughts were sharp and acerbic, but actually not particularly self-degrading, more of an aggressively worded-push. "The day a coffee shop can be considered disreputable is the day I grow wings and fly." She shrugs, "I was thinking nightclubs, strip clubs, bars, etc. Not that coffee isn't lovely and much appreciated, but I'd like to see... everything. The big apple has a lot of mutants, so I can only assume this includes a lot of mutants behaving poorly- also known as acting like normal people." She cocks her head, thinking, "Despite my adorable, cutesy glowing, I quite like myself a dingy, shitty bar."

"Oh!" Something eases in Dawson's mind, together with his quick smile returning. "Yeah, it can get busy here. There's a nightclub upstairs, but it's -- even more busy, when it's open. I --" Rapid flutters of imagery flicker through his mind -- a blood-spattered concrete floor in a sweaty, packed basement -- a line of partially-dismantled motorcycles in a well-tended garage -- the smells of sawdust and paint mingling in a partitioned-off stall of a large and bustling warehouse. He chews briefly at the inside of his cheek, shakes his head with a slight flush creeping back into his cheeks. "Can't say I know that much about places more disreputable than this one. Sorry. My expertise lies mostly in the realm of where to get good potatoes, I'm on thin enough ice at church just coming here." There is no real trace of apology in the grin he flashes Polaris. "Sorry. They don't think any of you are, uh, reputable."

He picks up his glass. Sips slowly at the cold lemonade. "I think mutants here probably do run the gamut of behavior." His mind has filled up with gunfire and smoke. A brilliant flash of light caving in an immense thick wall. Cold bare concrete cells, inmates in scrubs looking frightened or resolute. A guard in heavy tactical gear crumpling to the ground in a pool of his own sick. The exhaustion in Leo's eyes sitting by the bedside of an elderly patient with a hacking cough. A spider-like robot half-buried in pavement. "-- I'm not sure what qualifies as poorly, though."

Polaris nods, mouthing a silent and slightly awkward "ohhhhh". << Glad I didn't blurt that one out. Thanks, Depression! >> "No, that's legit! It's not usually this crowded in here, but it's probably going to continue like this as long as the uprising is--rising up." She hands Dawson his sorbet, answering his grin with a smaller one of her own. "That's your church's loss, I guess." << God, how does he put up with that? >>

The smile softens when she glances back at Mercury. "I know several folks who have grown wings and flown. But yeah, most humans do think Evolve is pretty disreputable, and plenty of mutants do, too." She tilts her head, drumming her fingertips on the countertop. << ...just not the same when your nails are short... >> "I know lots of dingy, shitty bars. A lot of the ones in this neighborhood are frequented by mutants, but I don't know any like...specialized freak dives or anything. Pretty much just our bar in the nightclub upstairs." She shrugs. "I promise that's not just me being a loyal employee or whatever. I come here to dance pretty much weekly."

"Mmm." Taylor's shrugging one shoulder, looking over Mercury with a lopsided quirk of smile. "Stick around some and you might learn something. I don't see no wings, but humans warn each other away from this place. Notorious criminal gangs hang out here, after all. Dangerous scum. We've tanked property values. It's pretty great." Several of his longer arms are twisting, wrapping themselves around his torso in a sinuous shift of motion. "'bout ninety-five percent of nightclubs in the city won't let you in looking like that." A tiny flick of one smaller limb towards Mercury. "We keep the club open up here 'cuz there's not many places to go get your, uh, freak on, looking like us."

His eyes dart briefly to Dawson. The arms he's wrapped around himself squeeze in a little tighter. "Don't really know of a single place in the city besides us that's a dedicated freak spot, sorry. 'less you count the Clinic but it's not like anyone's going there for fun. I mean, there's places that won't actively kick us out? But that's not really the same. Sure as hell ain't no mutant strip joints around. The human ones can barely break even these days. Still, you want to give me your email, I can send you -- basically like a Green Book for mutants. Places around we can actually get served. Probably good to know if you're gonna wander around all light-bulb like."

"I'll be sure to stop by one night and check out the upstairs. Introvert or not, nightclubs can be fun, occasionally. Not much of a dancer though, I'm sorry to say." She smiles at Polaris, "And I'll try not to glow too bright. Nobody wants a lamp in a nightclub. That's the reason I get turned away so much... right?" She winks, clearly well aware that that is most certainly not the reason.

"I'm a bit surprised that mutants or mutant-friendlies are allowed to associate with churches. I'm assuming that's quite uncommon?" She asks Dawson before responding to Taylor's offer, "And I'd like that- maybe keep me moderately more out of trouble." She flips open her wallet and takes out a card, extending it to him. It's incredibly plain, just having a phone number and email on it, and no name listed. "'the clinic' has an ominous ring to it, is that one of the friendly or not-so-friendly places?"

Dawson's smile is small and polite, his head tilting just slightly to the side. "Why would it be uncommon? Different churches are going to have their own different attitudes, people always do, but Heavenly Father does not discriminate. I know plenty of mutants of faith." There's a flutter of discomfited memory that starts to rise but he's pushing it down, reflexive and practiced, before it can even properly take shape. He takes the sorbet, skims a thin layer off the top. "Oh! One of the bartenders here is kind of a glowbug, himself. I think there are some places you'd be wanted, at least."

He focuses on the tangy-sweet taste of the sorbet. Holds that in his mind against the shiver of (ominous) (medical) thoughts that want to stir. "Oh, the Clinic's alright. That's the Mendel Clinic -- it's not far from here. As far as I know, the only mutant-specific medical clinic that exists. Like, anywhere. It's -- not perfect, but it's not ominous. I mean, the guy who founded it is a human, so it has its issues, but there are good doctors there. Hopefully I'll be one of them, one day."

"Flatscans just dunno how to party," Polaris says breezily. << I mean I have options, but. There's more than one kind of safety. >> "This isn't the kind of nightclub that's allergic to light, 'specially not with..." She snaps her fingers in Dawson's general direction. "What he said. Best bartender this side of town, even without the special effects." << Doesn't hurt he's a big damn hero and the sweetest guy who's ever lived. Well...damn, there's competition there. >> She nods slowly. "Yeah. Churches, synagogues, temples--I mean faith communities got bigotry problems, too, even the ones that tolerate us, but if religion is your jam you can find places to...eat...it?" She winces. "Metaphor kinda got away from me there."

"Could be it's different in Australia," Taylor remarks lightly, "but 'round here, religious folk been at the forefront of pretty much every freedom struggle we had." His eyes flick towards the group of activists on the patio, then back. "No different with mutants. Gotta do your research -- there's a host of bigoted ones, but a there's great ones too, and everything in between. My church has been rad, anyway. Takes all kinds of community to keep going." He plucks the card from Mercury's hand with a bob of his head. "I'll send you the info. There's trouble aplenty out there but we do what we can to keep each other safe, yeah?" He's already pulling his phone out of his pocket as he starts to head away from the counter, several arms snaking out to start clearing another table of its dishes. "I'm sure I'll see you 'round, Mercury."

She hummed in agreement, amused by Polaris's interesting metaphor, "I've never really 'eaten' it, as it were. Oz is a bit more... secular? I suppose. Just another cultural thing to get used to; I'm sure they'll be tonnes." She perked up at the sound of another 'glowbug', "Well then I'll have to swing 'round. One flashlight in annoying, two is a party." << I wonder if he's the same? Probably not but if so... and if he's a nice guy? That could be it.>>

"Sorry for stealing up your time, you all have work to do and here I am jabbering away. But..." She looks at Dawson, a little embarrassed, "I'm sorry, I never got your name. But if you're looking to be a doctor at this mutant clinic, I should probably get your details, if you'd be so kind. I am 'uninhabitable' but I get very sick sometimes." No real point hiding it. Eventually she'd crash, and having a doctor on her side could maybe make that moderately less painful. "I'll trade you some of my potatoes." She smiled more broadly then, and it was nearly imperceptible, but the glow she seemed to give off brightened ever so slightly, despite the uncomfortable memories digging themselves to the forefront of her mind. Taylor would see her on the ground, unable to move, under the spray of a shower trying not to vomit again; of her connected to a heart monitor, struggling to breathe.

"It's Dawson," he answers with a deeper flush, "and actually working there is -- that's a bit off, sorry, I only --" Through his mind, flickers of patients hooked up to respirators; the hard press of goggles digging into his cheeks, a sharp pain in his ribs from too much coughing. He brushes some invisible speck of dirt off the front of his neat button-down. "-- only just graduated medical school like. Two seconds ago. There are a lot more qualified people there you could talk to than me." He takes another bite of his sorbet, his eyes lowering as he eats. "A lot of cultural differences, no doubt. And you've come at kind of a -- volatile time. I hope it's not too difficult an adjustment."

"I've never been to Australia, but I'm sure it's a big change," Polaris says earnestly. "People aren't gonna make you be religious, you know, if it's--not your jam." This last with a self-deprecating grin. "Anyway, this is my job, so..." One of her coworkers ducks out of the kitchen and sets a plate on the counter. "Oh hey, speaking of potatoes..." She presents the hash with a flourish. "Welcome to America!"