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2046-02-27 Philanthropy on a Stick

From X-Factor

Philanthropy on a Stick
Date Posted 2016/02/27
Location Meat Shack - Mutant Town
Participants Ciel, Luka, Rohan
Summary Luka is a really popular and his life is really hard because of that. Rohan implicates himself in some unique sexual proclivities after Ciel gives him her meat stick. (Alright, they're not that unique.)
 
Ciciel.jpg Rorohan.jpg
The Meat Shack is a step up from the fondly remembered Meat Truck, which moved into a claustrophobically small storefront after years of traveling Mutant Town on wheels. There's enough room inside for five people to wait behind the counter, and the grills in the back that provide a variety of meats-on-a-stick keep the place swelteringly hot, even in winter. There's no room to sit; most customers take their order to go, or head across the street to the benches in nearby Tompkins Square Park. Even so, the aroma of roasting meat is hard to resist, and the line often streams out the door and down the street.


It is a winter evening. The weather is cold and clear.


"Luke! Hey! Luke, do you remember me? It's Tim!" The young man behind the counter of Meat Shack bounces excitedly. His face, scarred by acne from his adolescent years, brightens almost immediately. It's almost as if-- Hell! -- It's almost like he doesn't even work in a place called the Meat Shack. He /definitely/ doesn't want to jump off a bridge, which his previous dismissal expression might have implied. Abandoning the small line of customers, the young man wipes his hands off on his bloody apron to walk closer to the door.

An older employee, probably this guy's boss, comes out with a stern expression. He looks at the line and, frown growing, follows the young man's route. His face instantly brightens and opening both hands in a welcoming gesture, he calls, "Luka!" He abandons the line of customers as well.

"Hey," Luka looks up with mild surprise as he closes the door to the Meat Shack behind him. For all the attention he appears to be receiving, his only reaction is a humble and even bashful little dip of his head. "Of course, I remember. How are you? Well, I hope." Coming up with an easy smile, Luka pulls down the worn leather briefcase/messenger bag from over his shoulder. He juggles to maneuver it and the motorcycle helmet, "I was just hoping for to hang something in your window-oh! You have customers! Please, do not make a fuss over me, please, take care of your customers-" Luka blushes, gesturing towards the line.

Both men could give two shits about the line, but the younger one does begrudgingly return to do his job. "Don't leave yet! I want to catch up!" He turns to the first customer in line, blinking fondly, "Sorry! He's the best!"

Ciel is one of those in this line, now brought to a halt. She looks a little impatient, and the pen between her fingers jiggles rapidly back and forth. What this means is that when a fuss is raised, her attention sweeps swiftly forward. She makes a quick gesture to swipe away whatever she was entertaining herself with behind her Eyes to focus instead on Luka. She's not the first in line, but the second, but that doesn't stop her from leaning forward a bit to say, dryly, "Is he?"

Rohan also comes in with a motorcycle helmet under his arm. Unlike Luka, however, he looks noticeably annoyed, his grim absent, and he closes the door to the Meat Shack rather unnecessarily loudly, although, to his credit, as soon as he realizes how loud it was, he looks briefly sheepish, and musters an apologetic smile for the customers as he drifts toward the line. He also smells, quite noticeably, of soy sauce.

Rohan also comes in with a motorcycle helmet under his arm. Unlike Luka, however, he looks noticeably annoyed, his grim absent, and he closes the door to the Meat Shack rather unnecessarily loudly, although, to his credit, as soon as he realizes how loud it was, he looks briefly sheepish, and musters an apologetic smile for the customers as he drifts toward the line. He also smells, quite noticeably, of soy sauce.

"Please-" Luka's eyes wander to the other non-employees currently occupying the closet-like space. This is not what he wants. His popularity is a curse. As the older man refuses to serve his employees, Luka breaks down and just does what he came here to do. He eventually produces a folder from his bag. Licking his thumb, he takes a paper out of that folder but only after a few stick and he well, he only wants one to come out so he shoves them back and tries again. (So slow! This is happening so slowly!) He gets so befuddled during his search that he nearly steps back into Rohan as he enters. He catches himself and bows apologetically to the newcomer even as he speaks to someone else, "I was hoping you would allow me to put up a flyer in your window or wherever you want, if putting in window will hurt business..."

"He is my hero," the Meat Shack cashier makes direct eye contact with Ciel. His tone is flat and confident, "He saves /Lives/." Take it down a notch, dude.

"Of course! You can put any flyer, anywhere! What is it for? Not another meat on a stick place, aye?" The older man laughs and laughs at his joke. Until he hacks.

"That's an impressive claim," Ciel says, and despite her impatience, a flicker of interest crosses her features. She places her order quickly, already half-turned to give Luka a closer study. In doing so, she spots Rohan, and she blinks at him for a brief beat before her lips curve into a slight smile and she leans forward to add another order to hers. She follows it with, "So is he a superhero?"

Rohan bumps right into Luka and bounces right off. He takes a step back, regaining his balance, putting his hands up. "Sorry, mate," he says. His eye goes to the flyers, and he eyes them dubiously. "Please tell me those aren't religious tracts," he says, voice light. "I'd had to have to take back my apology." Distracted, he misses Ciel at first, and then blinks at her; his smile slow to dawn, but it does. "Hey."

The cashier scoffs, "Superheroes ain't real. Before I met him, I was on the street. Pimpin' out my powers for chump change. I owe him /My Life/." ... "That'll be 3.42. Did you want a double stick? Sometimes the pork can be a little heavy. Thank you for shopping at Meat Shack, have a meatlicious day." And then Ciel is next. She gets a sassy look from this guy for her initial skepticism. "Welcome to Meat Shack, can I help you?"

Luka chuckles to Rohan, shaking his head, "No, no. I promise nothing like that." He holds out the flyer to the Meat Shack's manager, who takes it without wiping his hands off first. This makes Luka cringe. "We are having two lawyers come in at the beginning and end of next month to look over paperwork and give legal advice to anyone who needs it. Probono. They're both mutants. One, an experienced criminal attorney, actually. If it goes well-" He leans to peek over at the flyer he handed the man, as if trying to check it for mistakes at the last minute, "-we may try to do this every month."

"Not anymore, they aren't," Ciel agrees. Something dark flickers in her gaze for a moment, but it doesn't linger long. She gives the guy a quick smile, repeating her double order with a lean in. "What's wrong with -- pimping out your powers?" she adds in quick question.

Rohan tilts his head to listen to the cashier's remark. His mouth twists, just a little. He says, "I think there's a difference between using your powers in a way you're all right with--and selling them to the highest bidder because you've no other options." His voice is easy enough, but there's a tinge of darkness underneath, and he holds out a hand for a flyer.

They're all in very close quarters, here. Luka isn't that oblivious. "Every situation is different," he concedes softly, sighing at the cashier's enthusiasm. He hands Rohan a flyer with a nod of respect. The header reads, 'Open Hands: Mutants Helping Mutants.' "Coffee and donuts will be provided," Luka adds with a naive sort of optimism at having someone show interest, "As long as they last, anyway."

"Yeah, every situation is different," the cashier agrees, closing his eyes and nodding hard before taking Ciel's order.

"No truer words," Ciel answers, tipping her head in quick acknowledgement as she transfers over payment. She twists a little, looking back at Rohan at the end of the line that stretches through the small shop. For a moment she simply watches him, silent.

"Is it _good_ coffee?" asks Rohan. "What about tea?" His smile flashes, briefly, sassy, but it fades into a quiet thoughtfulness as he studies the flyer. It seems to take him a lot longer to read the flyer than the quantity of text on it actually justifies. He presses his lips together, tight. Finally, he asks, "What is this, exactly?" His voice is a lot quieter than before.

Bringing up a hand, Luka jabs pointed at the paper he's just handed Rohan. "No," he answers the question, eyebrows lifting into his forehead. His eyes twinkle a little with the joke. "Oh! Well, we're a halfway house. But also, a general resource center for mutants in need. Usually those of us who may have just gotten out of the system. There aren't a lot of options these days. Career training, counseling, mentoring. That sort of thing." Luka looks around hopefully to the good people of the Meat Shack, "We're /always/ looking for volunteers and to get more people involved."

When Ciel finally receives her meat (on a stick), she twists her way back down the line of waiting people to offer up the extra to Rohan in momentary silence before flicking her gaze up to Luka in close study. "You're the Open Hands guy?" she says.

"Been there," says Rohan quietly, tersely. He doesn't quite specify where 'there' was. In need, it seems. He considers the flyer again, reading it very slowly at least twice, before he folds it up precisely and tucks it into the inside pocket of his leather jacket. "Might drop by and see what I can do to help," he says, with the flicker of a smile. "I think I might have just quit my primary job so I've got some times on my hands for a bit." He blinks at the offered (meat on a) stick in mingled surprise and confusion before he raises his gaze to Ciel's face. His smile flickers, brightens, and steadies before he takes it.

"Me as well," Luka responds to Rohan's admission in the same quiet volume, if not the same tone. His eyes form tight, happy half-moons as he turns towards Ciel. "That I am. I daresay there are a few of us, now. But yes, it is my ... what is the saying? Brain-child," he says calmly, flapping closed his bag only after pulling out a roll of scotch tape. "Luka, is my name. Luke is fine, if Luka is too hard. I'm sorry -- I cannot shake hands," he chuckles bashfully, glancing quickly down to the many things he struggles to keep hold of at the moment.

"I didn't realize you guys were so--" Ciel waves a hand in vague gesture, aiming it toward the flier before she glances at Rohan with a quick, tight smile. "Legal advice, huh?" she adds, looking back to Luka. "That's useful."

"It's a good idea," says Rohan, voice still quiet, and uncharacteristically serious. "Lots of people around who don't realize there are _options_, and end up someplace they shouldn't because it seemed the only option." His mouth twists a little. "And get trapped there for decades." He clears his throat. "Rohan," he adds to Luka's introduction.

"There is always more to do," Luka admits, shaking his head as if to deflect Ciel's positive remark. "We started out as something simple, but are starting to try to branch out when funding allows. ...events like this can make a big difference, especially to people who only ever get a few moments with a court appointed representative." He gestures around with the flyer he's about to tape up to the window before getting to work.

"Mutant Town is a pressure cooker of 'more shit to do'," Ciel agrees without argument. She gives Luka a quick, half-curled smile as she works at her meat stick. Yeah. Her meat stick.

Rohan has a meat stick too. Yep. Meat stick. He teases the end bit of meat off the stick with his teeth, chewing and swallowing it before he speaks. "Yeah. Always more shit to do. But, you know, if some people do better, so will other people around them. I think that's the theory."

"Don't I know it," Luka sighs dramatically, eyes momentarily distracted by both Ciel and Rohan's meat-sticks as they disappear partially into either of their mouths. He shows them the back of his head as he tapes up the paper flyer, "But yes. This is the theory. If it doesn't prove to be true, well-" He curses in Serbian. "We really are always looking for new volunteers.”

Ciel glances at Rohan, meeting his gaze for a beat before she looks back to Luka and says, "I'll keep it in mind." She smiles, short and sweet, and then ducks toward the door. "I've got to get going. See you around, Ro."

"Well," says Rohan, taking a short breath between pieces of meat. "If you're fine with taking on an ex-mercenary of dubious past and even more dubious paperwork, I'll see what I can do for you." His gaze follows Ciel's for a moment, his mouth twitching into a smile. "I'll see you around, Sky. Thanks for dinner." He hoists the meat on a stick in farewell.

Luka smiles warmly to Ciel, nodding a farewell to the pretty woman before turning back to Rohan, "The ones with the dubious pasts are the ones these kids listen to, my friend." He sigh-groans as he lowers his arms, looking up at the partially crooked flyer-job. "You aren't talking to a saint." He chuckles, finally able to hold out a hand to the other man.

"Yeah, well, I don't know what to say to people who've never done things they weren't proud of when they didn't think they had choices." Rohan's voice run a bit dry, and he gives Luka's hand a quick, firm shake. "Apparently they do exist. I think."

"Yeah, well, I don't know what to say to people who've never done things they weren't proud of when they didn't think they had choices." Rohan's voice run a bit dry, and he gives Luka's hand a quick, firm shake. "Apparently they do exist. I think."

Luka takes Rohan's hand, giving it a sincere shake before releasing it, "I have little to say to them, as well. Don't show anyone like this the flyer, please." Again, an easy smile spreads over his lips, "Rohan? Was it?" He bounces his bag, re-settling the placement of its strap over his shoulder, "I get a good feeling about you." All sincerity. No ulterior motive. Luka gives the other man a firm, confident /look/ before gesturing to the door, "Many more to put up! Hey- don't eat too many of those!" He points to the meat-stick jokingly.

"Yeah, I don't really talk to anyone like that," says Rohan dryly. "I've limited tolerance to being judged." He considers Luka for a moment, his smile crooked. "Interesting. I'm not really used to people having good feelings about me?" He shrugs and lifts an eyebrow. "It's all right. I can handle so many meat sticks at once."

Luka nearly chokes. Good thing /he/ isn't eating a meat-stick. "To each their own!" He coos, pushing open the door with his helmet. A few moments after the door closes behind him, the gentle rumble of his bike can be heard.

Rohan tosses a wink after Luka, but, after the man leaves, turns a little more sombre himself. He pulls out the flyer, reads it again, and then tucks it away before he slips out of the Meat Shack himself.

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