Logs:Limitations of Hope

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Limitations of Hope
Dramatis Personae

Desi, Iolaus, Lucien


A chance meeting at a coffee shop; a discussion of dances, finances, and philosophies


<NYC> Tick-Tock - Greenwich Village

The quiet sound of soft music and softly running water greets the entrants to this tea house, playing from speakers hidden and trickling waterfalls cascading down the rocky fountains by the entryway. The ambiance here is subdued, a quiet escape from the bustle and noise of the city, focused on only one thing: tea. Tea of very good quality. They serve it in over eighty varieties, black and white, green and oolong, rooibos and herbals and mate, flavored and straight up. The seating here comes on cushions or kneeling chairs around low tables, the decorations in earth tones, and the knowledgeable wait staff is always helpful with a recommendation or a snack suggestion to pair with your drink. Behind the long counter along one side is an entire wall of bins of loose-leaf teas, available for purchase by weight.

It's a quiet Wednesday afternoon, the lunch rush beginning to dwindle. Those with offices to get back to are hastening back to them; at a table near the entrance, Lucien, despite the hour, is lingering. He wears a green sweater that looks impossibly soft, a cream button-down beneath, fitted dark jeans. Kneeling, leaned half-back with his weight propped on an arm, there's a languid ease to his posture even as his expression creases itself into a frown -- directed at the phone in his hand and not the young woman opposite him. "{They all really think I have /nothing/ better to do with my days than dance attendance on them.}" Lucien's voice is carefully soft when he speaks, but even just north of a whisper the scorn in his tone is clear. Less immediately noticeable is the quiet hoarser edge in his words. He sets his phone down beside the pot of tea on the table. "{You know, I'm not certain he is even aware I do not live at the Club.}"

The doors to the tea shop open and close, admitting two men in close sequence. One is tall, broad shouldered and looking slightly ill fit in a dark navy dress shirt that is tight at his shoulders but looser on his arms. Despite his dress, though, his eyes are attentive, scanning the interior and only a few steps behind the shorter man leading the way into the store. “No matter how many times you try, Reg, you’re never going to convince me of the superiority of coffee.” Iolaus’ voice lowers in volume as the bustle of the street is sealed behind the doors, blocked out of this oasis of calm. The doctor’s clothes fit him sharply, a slim cut charcoal suit, emerald shirt, and thin black tie that matches the well-polished leather of his shoes. “I mean, I’ll drink it if caffeine calls, that sweet mistress, but it’s no comparison.”

“That’s just because you drink the swill in the cafeteria like a fish and then think that’s real coffee,” Reg insists, voice bright and clearly amused.

"{It plays better to butler/genie/house elf fantasies if they imagine you are always there.}" Desi is sitting cross-legged, the layers of her rich purple skirt pooling artfully around her, a matching corset top cinched tight over a billowy white (not-so-peasant-like) peasant blouse, and her arms are covered up to the elbows with purple opera gloves. Her hair is done up in a complex series of neat braids, and around her neck she wears an amethyst crystal held in an intricate cage of tiny bones. "{You could leave a cardboard cutout of yourself there, perhaps.}" Though, after a beat. "{Mm. Not classy enough. A holographic projection that says, 'With pleasure.'}" She drops her voice low and sultry in a startlingly effective imitation of her brother's customer service voice. Her eyes track toward the two men who've just entered, her expression already shifting from fey amusement to pleasant neutrality as she recognizes the doctor.

Lucien's eyes crinkle with delight at this impression. "{Mmm. You know, there may be something to that suggestion.}" He's sitting up, reaching to pick up the teapot and refill first Desi's cup and then his own. The recalibration of his bearing is a very subtle thing, somewhere in the middle of this process. He sits up just a touch straighter, the muted hint of amusement in his expression rearranging itself into something warmer, more cordial. "Though I dare say I'm a bit too tall to be a proper house elf, and overdressed for a genie. Not that it stops them fantasizing."

Iolaus is halfway towards the counter, laughing, when the sound of Lucien’s voice, or a glimpse out of the corner of his eye, hooks his attention. Turning as if to confirm, when Iolaus sees Lucien, a warm smile blooms on his face. It flickers and then cools a few seconds later, head tilting slightly to one side. He eyes Desi for a moment, attention flicking between the two of them, holding him mid step for several seconds. After coming to some unstated decision, Iolaus murmurs to Reg, “one minute”, and steps over into Lucien and Desi’s sightlines. “Excuse me, ma’am,” the doctor says, giving her an apologetic look and a nod, then turning his focus to Lucien. “Hello, Lucien.”

"A bit overdressed for a /house elf/, too." Desi mirrors the switch to English, though unlike him she has no hint of a French accent. "Unless I have grossly misapprehended your wardrobe strategy there. Good afternoon, Doctor." She offers Io a disarming smile, turning one hand in the air to wave away his begging of her pardon.

Lucien settles back on his cushion, his teacup held delicately in one palm. He holds it slightly beneath his chin, eyes lifting as Iolaus approaches. The smile that touches his lips is soft; his head inclines slightly. "Doctor." His eyes shift away -- past Iolaus to where Reginald stands beyond. Then back to Io. "I've heard so little of you and the Clinic of late -- in your line of work, I suppose I ought to count that a blessing?"

“That depends entirely on how pessimistic you are feeling about the world,” Iolaus replies. “Though, I will confess, probably not an inaccurate view.” The doctor nods once, twice, bobbing along in agreement. “I will confess, despite my fundraising team insisting that any news is good news for getting donors, I have enjoyed a bout of calm to let our focus concentrate inwards.” His smile is wry. “I’m sure it won’t last.”

Iolaus pauses delicately for several seconds, letting the smile naturally fade into something more carefully controlled. “How have you been? It’s been... some time.”

"I'm not sure it must reflect pessimism about the world so much as realism about the media." Desi also picks up her teacup for a sip, her tone light and conversational. "Maybe your fundraising team should talk to your public relations team and come to some sort of mutual understanding."

"Indeed it has, hasn't it?" Lucien takes a small sip from his cup, his eyes slipping half-closed. When he looks up again his eyes flick briefly to Desi, a small tug at the corner of his mouth. "/Have/ you a PR team? They must be enjoying a bit of calm as well."

"It would be hard for them not to talk to each other, considering that they are the same people. Though I suspect they sometimes manage to disagree regardless." Chuckling, Iolaus shakes his head. "We had to aggregate some of our open roles into existing jobs to reduce our overhead." Though his tone is calm and there's a smile on his face, it doesn't quite reach his eyes this time. "So, I'm afraid, when they're having some relaxation on one side, they're frequently busy on the other. Such are the joys of the non-profit world." Iolaus glances over to the counter, back to Reg, and then once more over to Lucien and Desi. "How about the both of you? Of course, I've seen you in Lost, Luci', but, that's not quite the same as knowing how you've been doing."

"Perhaps they will generate some excitement for themselves soon. Hopefully without too much headache for you." Desi sets down her tea and steeples her fingers. "I'm caught in the throes of pre-Spring Break rehearsals, so..." She inclines her head and spreads her hands. "A bit busy."

'A bit.' Lucien mouths this in silent echo, his head shaking slightly. "I'm glad you've had a chance to see it. I feel truly grateful to work with such a capable and imaginative crew." A very faint crease forms between his brows. "I'm sorry to hear about the downsizing. I take it fundraising is not going quite so well as hoped, then?"

"Never having been involved in theatre myself, I can't say that I know the feeling, but I think I can imagine. When does your show open?" Iolaus asks, head tilting to one side and giving Desi a smile. This, perhaps, is as much genuine interest as it is an excuse to avoid Lucien's question for a little bit longer. "We managed to keep all of our staff, but we had to close almost all of our open jobs. If the drought continues, we may have to cut back on the amount of aid that we can offer." Iolaus sighs and leans against one of the chairs across from the off-duty performers. "But the fundraising can never go as well as I can hope. My capacity for hope in that matter is endless."

"I've just got a concert this weekend and a presentation next week. Nothing quite so involved as a full run. Performance art /light./" Desi picks up her tea again, though only to inhale this time and not drink. "It sounds like you might need a bit more than just hope." Not flippant or dismissive, but thoughtful, her smile reserved but not unsympathetic.

"Regrettably, hope only gets you so far without concrete action to buttress it." Lucien tips his cup gently from side to side, eyes lowering to watch the golden liquid swirling within. "Well. I do hope that your fundraising team rallies before the circumstances grow more dire. I know there are --" A muscle twitches small and brief in the side of his jaw. "Quite a few who rely on that aid."

"Cutting back is not cutting off," Iolaus counters, though it's not with much spirit. "Hope is not a strategy, but it is necessary." The doctor gives a faint smile to the two, shrugging his shoulders once. "We'll find our way through. Our team has some good ideas, and backups to those plans, and backups to the backups. I have faith... and if all else fails, I'm not above some begging."

Desi takes a long draught of her tea. Considers what's left, then drains it before setting down the empty cup. "Best of luck to you and your team, Doctor," she says earnestly.

Lucien drinks down the last of his, as well. "Indeed. I hope your faith serves you well." He's rising a bit up on his knees, picking up the teapot again to tip the last of the tea out into Desi's cup and then his own. "Were you here for tea of your own? I do hate to keep you if caffeine awaits."

"And break a leg, Desi." Iolaus replies, winking once playfully and following it up with a playful grin. "Though, that's not medical advice, mind you." Iolaus looks a bit surprised and glances over at the tea counter -- and the boxes of leaves behind it. "Yeees," he says, after a moment of consideration. "I'm afraid I got a bit sidetracked in my continuing mission to convince Reg on the supremacy of Camellia sinensis over Coffea arabica, and I should get back. It's good to see you again, Lucien -- you both again." Iolaus bends his head forward in a not-quite-bow, eyes flickering between the two. "À la prochaine, Lucien, Desi."