|Not Quite the Stage|
|Location||Oddball Coffee - Mutant Town, NYC|
|Summary||Coffee, music, and off-off-Broadway talents.|
| Oddball Coffee sits on the edge of Mutant Town, near the northern 14th Street border, which may be why it's managed to keep its windows intact and its varied clientele happy. An eclectic, open-minded place, Oddball regularly showcases mutant artists and performers on its walls and on the tiny stage near the back. Framed photographs covering every spare inch of one brick wall show off wild feats that are only possible with mutation, and a few of their baristas make a show of using mutant powers in the making of their drinks.
It's made Oddball one of the few businesses which manages to appeal to both tourists and locals. The shop is nearly always busy, and it's not unusual for a stranger to request the empty chair at a full table.|
| It is a winter day. The weather is cold and flurrying.|
It's early evening. When the post-9-to-5 work crowd is starting to trickle in. The place is filled with the omnipresent smell of espresso and the sound of acoustic guitar music. Currently being played by a telekinetic who's strumming with her powers while the guitar sits balanced on a stand a few feet away from her. Kade, in his business-casual slacks and sky blue button-up shirt combo, is probably part of the just-getting-off-work set. He's leaning near the front counter, eyeing the espresso machine as he waits for the barista to finish making his coffee.
Mel is just looking like your average Joe in need of a coffee today. Thin, stubble, hair cropped short, droopy eyes, otherwise decently pressed shirt and pants, he waits in line just behind Kade. He seems to have been very interested in the musical number, but now he turns his attention back to the counter. He is waiting for his morning cup of coffee as well, it appears. He lets out a yawn, covering his mouth as he does so.
Kade has already ordered and is just watching the espresso machine go. He doesn't seem in any particular hurry, though. Soon enough his drink is delivered. A caramel mocha wiht an artful flower design in the foam on top. He mutters a quick "Thanks" to the barista and drops a dollar in the tip jar, before moving down the counter some to get some extra sugar. Mel is noted, and Kade offers the other man a little nod of his head in greeting. "Wonder if she takes requests," he says, of the guitarist.
Mel says, "I'm pretty sure asking can't hurt. Played music on stage myself in the past, so I'm familiar with small-time gigs and the folks that take them.", says Mel. He cocks his head sideways, and takes a long, deep look at the guitar player. "She's pretty good, I'd have to say. And the song is relatively obscure. Looks like the kind of person who listens to music for pleasure, listens to and plays all sorts of weird stuff at home after work, and can therefore handle requests." He turns to Kade, sleepily, and yawns (of course, covering his mouth with his hand). "Of course," he says after that, "that's just my assumption based on a cursory observation.""
"You're a stage guy?" Kade grins. "Cool. I had vague ambitious to be an actor when I was younger. Did not quite go that direction, though." He sounds wistful, if not exactly regretful. "I've got an office gig in an off-Broadway joint right now, which is closer to it than I've ever been." When the song ends, he adds some of his own applause to the air in the coffee shop. And calls out a request for a popualr neo-soul number from the 2020s. It's common and the guitarist gives him a nod, though she takes a moment to rest before playing again. Sipping from a cup of cocoa by her not-quite-stage in the shop's corner.
Mel chuckles as he follows Kade and the musician in their exchange. He then turns to face Kade "Been a lot of things in my life, actually. Tended bars, waited tables, did laundry, call center, delivrery... you name it, I probably did it. Jack of all trades, you may say. Never really mastered any." He smirks. "But I can play a mean tuba, if the need arises. I'm sure someone like me would make a killing on Broadway" He sweeps the air with his hand, staring in the distance. "Mel, The Tuba Virtuoso, playing at the Broadway Theatre, tonight!" he stands there, frozen at the end of the sweeping, gazing in the distance. He then looks just below the imaginary billboard in shining lights, "...sorry, sold out!" He shrungs. "I have this effect on audiences."
"I'm not quite sure what I'm a master of, myself," Kade says wry, extending a hand to Mel to shake. "Kade Caruthers. Pleasure to meet a future star of the stage. Want to split a table?" There's an empty one near them. One of the few unoccupied tables in the place. The guitarist, meanwhile, finishes recharging and returns to her cross-legged performance position on the floor. She stares at the guitar intently for a beat, and then, is starts strumming again. Melody light and mellow. It's certainly not the pop version of what Kade requested, but it's a good acoustic approximation.
Mel extends one hand as well, to shake Kade's. "Call me Mr. Blanc", says Mel, offering his fabourite alias. "And, I hope you did not take the 'star of the stage' part seriously. I doubt I'll ever perform. Given my... ah... condition, I think a life of Jack-of-all-tradeness is the best I can aspire to." He looks at the unoccupied table, and then back to Kade. "I would love to. In fact, I'm not exactly in the mood for joining crowds, today. I'd like... ah... some quiet."
Kade chuckles, shaking his head. "Nah, I didn't take it serious. But I can support a flight of fancy like that now and again." He heads over to that table, pulling out a chair and settling in. Taking a couple quick sips of his espresso drink before his attention goes back to Mel. "Condition?" There's a touch of, not exactly confusion, but curiosity about the phrasing. "You talking mutation stuff?" He adds quick, "I'm a pyrokinetic, myself. Fire-starter. Which doesn't exactly go toward a vocation unless you want to be an arsonist." He adds quickly, "And I do not."
Mel takes a long sip of his coffee, then, looking slightly more awake than before, he nods. "Yeah, condition. I mean, I'm around here, aren't I? And my condition is... well..." He taps his chin. "It's easier to show than to explain, actually. Pick a table. Any table. The more themed, the better. Blue collar workers down there in the corner? That basketball team in the other corner? Plenty of tables to pick from..."
Kade does look outright puzzled now, but he nods to Mel. "I try not to assume, especially in here. The Oddball gets its share of tourists." Non-mutants who want to rubber-neck Mutant Town. "You have piqued my curiousity, Mister Blanc." He juts his chin toward the basketball players at the corner table, laughing and joking amongst themselves. One of them keeps making eyes at the guitarist, though she's too absorbed in her playing to pay any attention to him.
Mel stands up and, hands firmly in his pocket, walks up to the table of basketball players. At first he barely reaches to the shoulder of the one he walked close to, but then he disappears behind one of them, standing... and soon after, next to him, instead of Mel's previous figure, a new shape pokes out. Easily 7 feet tall, it seems like Mel is now some tall, athletic black guy in his twenties. He lingers around the group for some time, until one of the other players give him a distracted glance before returning to pay attention to some discussion going on, one eye darting lazily to the guitarist on stage. Having successfully failed to attract attention, Mel walks back to the original table, ready to sit down again at his old place (the paper cup of coffee he's holding is definitely the same as before, what with 'Mel' being written on the zarf and all), while in the distance, at the table of the basketball players, one member of the team asks another one, "I was too embarrassed to ask... is that a new guy?"
Kade watches Mel approach the basketball players, sipping on his coffee and waiting. If not exactly sure what he's waiting for. When the man grows taller, and his face and skin changes, Kade does a double-take. Not one extreme enough to attract much attention. He knew he was in for //some// kind of show. But whatever he was expecting, it's not that. As the song ends, he raises his hands to clap again. It blends with applause for the musician, and certainly is some for her song, but it's for Mel as well.
Mel bows his head slightly as he now (rather uncomfortably) slides back to his seat. "...and if this causes you to applaud," he says with a completely different voice, "you should hear me play the tuba!" A grin is offered. He then shrugs, "Well, yeah, that's pretty much it. See, jack of all trades it has to be, as you may understand. No stable identity, have to keep moving."
"I always respect performance art," Kade replies with a grin. He holds up one hand, extending his right index finger. After a second of concentration, the air around it heats to create a little flame. A //very// small one. They are indoors, afterall. It doesn't draw too many looks in a mutant cafe. "You got a day job? I do some contracting out of this business an old member of the X-Men runs. Called X-Factor Solutions. All mutants, actually using their powers for whatever work will have them. I figure there'd be a lot of call for skills like that, if you were interested in putting them to use."
Mel quirks an eyebrow. "Oh, I've heard of you guys!" he says, applauding back as the second song finishes, to the song, but also to the flame. "If I can be of use, I'd be glad to. Might provide some interesting new experience. And, hey, can't be worse than some of the things I did in the past." he smirks. "Nice flame, by the way.""It's a decent crew, and you actually get to earn some money with your powers. Not a lot of places that offer that to folks like us, nowadays." Kade grins at the appreciation for his flame. He lets the heat on his finger taper off, blowing on the air around it to dismiss the little fireball. "Thanks. I try not to do it around sprinkler systems. Safety first, and such and such."