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Dramatis Personae

Angie, Lucien, Matt, Sarah, Steve


'Here on the wilder side of night, who can really say what's right?'


<NYC> Montagues - Soho

Montagues harkens back to the day when SoHo was filled to the brim with artists, with its mismatched furniture, all plush and decorated heavily with carved wood, but remains trendy enough to keep its newer patrons by making sure that furniture is clean, in good repair and inviting. The antique tables all have been reinforced to seem less creaky. The real draw of the cafe is the smell: fresh roasted coffee mingles with perfectly steeped teas. Spices from crisp pastries mingle with the tang of clotted cream but don't overwhelm too much the scent of chalk on the menu boards.

It's just about quitting time and the streets of Soho are bustling with white collar workers bundled against the chill, though for all that Montagues isn't exceptionally busy. There are a few regulars who've been there for the better part of the day, absorbed in their devices, a small knot of chatty college students have pushed several tables together, and a few weary commuters who haven't even bothered to shuck their coats are sipping coffee at the window counter, perhaps bracing themselves for the rest of their journey.

Matt doesn't look particularly weary as he sweeps through the door, though someone familiar with his comportment might peg his energy as more nervous than excited. He's wearing a fitted light gray knee-length coat open over a green-and-white striped stand-collar shirt and gray trousers with black satin suspenders and black brogues, his green ombre knit scarf worn in a loose french loop. There is a jeweled pomegranate pin on the lapel of his coat, small but striking. He fetches up against the counter with a winning smile. "Hi, there! We're just picking up Steve." Though even as he says this he's shaking the silver thermos in his hand thoughtfully.

One of the college students elbows another and whispers something. They both study the new arrivals carefully and confer for a moment before one of them rises (pushed by the other) and approaches the counter, as well. "Um, hello, Mister Tessier," there's a slight upward intonation to this greeting, which is aimed not at Matt but his companion. "Sorry to bother you but, um, can I get your autograph?" They blush, holding up a Sharpie and a slim but much-tabbed paperback copy of Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.

"We are just picking up Steve, and, perhaps, a spiced chai to accompany him." Beside Matthieu, Lucien is more sedate in energy if more striking in attire: a slim double-breasted black coat and a silver satin vest over a subtle white-on-white striped spread collar shirt and charcoal trousers. His black monk shoes are polished to a shine, his soft gray cashmere scarf is looped much too loosely and artfully for warmth, and the green-on-silver of his floral scroll tie--knotted in an impeccable full Windsor--is the only splash of color in his outfit save the dramatic scarlet of the pomegranate flower pinned to his lapel. He is just plucking his wallet from the inside of his coat when the youth approaches; his posture straightens just so, a warm smile displacing his previously neutral expression. He turns the wallet over to Matt, turns his attention to the student. "Oh! Enchanté, good day, it's no bother. What's your name?" He takes the paperback and marker both, brows lifting and a wisp of amusement in his voice. "Is this a commentary on the show? It wouldn't be the most scathing I've gotten. Once someone asked me to sign Mill's Utilitarianism."

Standing behind the counter in uniform black and white, Sarah smiles a tired but no less happy smile at the two fancy newcomers. "Welcome to Montague's, how--" is out of her mouth automatically in response before she can stop it. She huffs a laugh, briskly shaking her head. "Sorry! Steve is in the back getting changed. I'll let him know you're here." Eyeing the thermos thoughtfully for a second, she nods to herself as some sort of calculations come to an end. "And one thermos full of spiced chai, right after!"

She ducks away to do just that, calling quietly through a door that a certain coworker's fancy friends are here to whisk him away, before starting on the tea. At the front of the café, the door opens again, letting in a slim androgynous figure dressed in baggy black jeans and hoodie, sneakers scuffed and discolored. His hair, scruffy and short, is perhaps the brightest thing about him, a stark towheaded white-blonde. There's some resemblance to Sarah, in the line of the nose and curve of the jaw, but not much. He gives the group at the counter a curious glance when walking past, and with it comes a low, quiet wave of warmth and companionship that quickly fades once he looks away. Bypassing the 'line' completely, the newcomer leans against the end of the counter, dangerously close to passing into employee territory behind it.

"Oh, thank you!" Matt tells Sarah brightly, popping his thermos open and draining what was left in it before unscrewing the top and sliding the empty container across the counter. "No need for you to go fetch him, I can send a text if he's not out in a minute." He accepts the wallet from Lucien and plucks out a fiver, watching him talk to the fan with fond interest while he swipes out a message on his phone.

(Matt --> Steve): No hurry, but we're where!

He starts to put his phone away, but the motion hitches at the wave of warmth. His power stretches out to feel out the new arrival's, and also--almost reflexively--to his brother's, though he does not do anything yet to manipulate either.

The fan looks overjoyed at Lucien's reaction. "Thank you! My name is Kerry. Um, it's like Jerry, but with a K." Kerry's friends are watching them closely, too. "Oh! No, it's kinda just--what I had. I really liked you in Pippin, too." Their blush deepens and they add, hastily. "I mean--I liked your performance!" There's a wave of quiet giggles from the other students waiting at the table.

Lucien's smile freezes -- just slightly fixed in place, though it's likely hard to tell a difference for those who don't know him well. The shift in his tightly regimented mental process is easy enough for Matt to feel, as well; a small subsection of his mind reordering itself to flex around that brief wave of warmth. His eyelids lower slightly, half-shading his eyes in time with a ghosting breath of laughter. "That's kind of you to say. Next time I make it onstage, perhaps, I might aim for someone who --" He's studying the title page of the book for the briefest of moments before he begins to write, "-- Makes less questionable choices, hmm? We shall see." On the title he's added an inscription, in an elegant flowing near-calligraphed hand:

For Kerry --

Here on the wilder side of night, who can really say what's right?

Lucien Tessier

He closes the book, hands it back to Kerry. His thumb traces slowly against the barrel of the marker. "Thank you so much for saying hello. It just would not be the same at all, doing what we do without all of your support." There's a continued shuffling of his neurochemistry, smoothing out the ripples that had been left in the wake of the brief disturbance.

Sarah returns shortly with two to-go cups in compostable sleeves and a teapot, the contents of which are carefully poured into Matt's thermos. "Steve said you were taking him to see a show tonight," she says to Matt, handing his thermos over with a genuine smile instead of her customer service one. "I hope you have a good time!" Once the teapot is put out of the way, she moves to the register at the end of the counter to ring their order up--and also reach out with one hand to lightly push her sister backwards. As much good as it does. "Go sit down, Angie, I still have to close up," is said out of the corner of her mouth more than anything.

He doesn't move, blinking at her with innocent eyes that wouldn't fool a newborn. "But you texted me something about a shortstack to-go?" he asks, voice cigarette rough. That low, warm feeling, now aimed at Sarah, suddenly spikes and focuses --to Angie, nothing more than a familiar, sudden pressure behind his eyes--to more. Aren't I goddamn hilarious. It washes over Sarah harmlessly, like water off a duck's back.

"Ha ha ha ha ha," Sarah answers dryly, unamused and obviously long used to it. "Working. Sit. Go." Putting in Steve's employee discount, since one of the drinks was technically for Steve, Sarah returns to the Tessiers to tell them their total. "Would you like any napkins or anything?" she asks afterward.

Kerry accepts the book back with both hands, starry-eyed. "Thank you! I look forward to your next role!" They blush again. "Even if he makes bad decisions, too." They start to turn away, but then hastily adds, "It was nice to meet you and um, have a good evening!" And then they scurry back to their friends

"Thank you ever so much," Matt says, receiving the thermos and handing over the cash. "We don't need any napkins, but please do keep the change. Pardon me." He skirts around Angie to add sugar and milk to his thermos. "We're going to see Hadestown." He breaks into a grin. "Hopefully, if we don't accidentally end up at the Marquis on autopilot."

Lucien dips his head in acknowledgment, his smile lingering until he turns back to the counter. His expression eases back into a quiet repose -- at least until he looks down at the Sharpie still in his hand. "Mmmph." He re-caps it, lips compressing momentarily. "Steve enjoyed Wicked so well, we thought we ought to expand his theatre experience. There are so many spectacular shows to see and he's barely scratched the surface. Even if we do end up at the Marquis," he brightens -- just the faintest perk of his poster, a brighter effervescence fluttering briefly across his mind, "-- I trust they'll put on an entertaining show. I might even relax and enjoy it, for once."

Angie, perhaps because of Sarah's insistence, does not find a table to sit at. He does move out of Matt's way with an apology and a crooked grin that sound and look true enough, but must not be. Again, the quick ramp of power--Don't mind me, on with your day.--directed at Matt with the second or two they interact, before it drops just as suddenly back to it's low hum when Angie moves to rest against the counter across from Sarah.

Sarah quickly stuffs the (generously given) change into the tip jar on the other side of the register and slides the drawer closed when he does, ignoring the offended look Angie gives her. "I don't think I've heard of Hadestown," she says. "I'm going to hazard a guess that it has something to do with Hades, though." The crooked grin she gives looks identical to Angie's, but comes with far less side effects. "Wherever you end up, I'm sure you'll have a great time. I can't imagine you would pick a bad show to go see." For a moment, she turns to her sister, grin becoming a touch more forced. "Angie, why don't you go sit down and I'll bring you a drink." It's hardly a question. Barely a suggestion.

Blinking slowly in response, Angie raises his eyebrows. "Why?" he asks. "Maybe I want to look at the menu. Besides," here, now, a cast of the gaze toward Lucien, another rise and fall of power, "I'm not bothering anybody." Not bothering you at all. Aren't I a peach?

The corner of Matt's eye twitches at the surge of Angie's power that follows his apology, but he seems to brush it off right after and proceeds with the doctoring of his beverage. "Oh, it's a retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice set in a sort of...speculative Great Depression-era hellscape?" He glances at his brother here and shrugs. "The music is splendid and haunting." He re-caps his thermos and returns to Lucien's side right as Angie's power flares up again. "As a matter of fact, you are," he says quietly, the abrupt spike of his fury only indirectly noticeable to Lucien in the tightening of his control. His own power is less subtle, reaching out and seizing Angie's none too gently--having only the vaguest idea what it is even doing--and suppressing it while bracing Lucien's mind against the beginning of its effect. "And I'll thank you not to tamper with our heads any longer."

"Greek mythology and socialism -- it seemed quite up his alley. There were quite a few promising options, though. I will try not to lead him astray." Lucien is still considering the Sharpie in his hand with a contemplative frown. He seems to have just about made up his mind about it, glancing back to the table of students and straightening, when that glance from Angie catches him. His brows lift, his head tilts slightly to one side. His mind shores itself up, leaning into Matt's touch as he carefully pulls back against the outside influence. "I beg your pardon?" There's a slight edge of affront, here, his bright green eyes slipping to Matthieu for clarification.

Taking a deep breath, Sarah gives Angie a deeply unimpressed stare before turning back to the Tessiers. "Haunting Great Depression-era mixed with socialism does seem in his wheelhouse," she says, trying to pick up the conversation with her previous cheer. What grin she has rapidly fades at both of their changes in mood, the color draining from her face. She shoots an accusing, panicked, questioning look at Angie that only warps more with confusion once Matt's words sink in.

Angie doesn't seem bothered at all by the sudden shift in mood. He winces at the quicksharp pain behind his eyes at Matt cuts him off, but his expression is only similar to Sarah's in that he's also obviously confused at what Matt said. Other than that, the pull of his mouth screams annoyance and immediate defensiveness. "I don't know what the fuck you're talking about. I'm just standing here."

Steve chooses this particular moment to make his entrance, joining Sarah behind the counter. He's also dressed up, if not quite as smartly as the Tessiers, in a pale blue dress shirt, silver tie with a tessellated star pattern, and gray slacks, a navy blue pea coat slung over one arm. "Hey! You fellas ready to..." The question dies on his tonue as he takes in the respective tones and expressions of those present. "What's going on?" Suddenly serious now, his body language shifting as he snaps to alert mode, ice blue eyes skipping between the four others.

Matt lifts one hand to rub at his temple, his expression almost bored. "I'm talking about this." He briefly augments Angie's power as far as it'll go--while still keeping an iron grip to prevent it affecting anyone--and then tamping it roughly back down. "Some kind of projective empathy, I think? I don't typically out people, but you've used it on us three times since we walked in." His bright green eyes hold Angie's steadily. "That's striking out in my book--even if unintentionally--so do kindly check yourself, if you please."

A slight tension creeps into Lucien's jaw, his fingers tightening around the Sharpie he still holds. "Ah." His eyes fix steadily on Angie, and he lets out a slow breath. "If you truly do not have any idea what you are doing, it would behoove you to learn to control your ability before you continue assaulting strangers with it. And if you are aware --" Lucien's eyes lower, his fingers smoothing lightly down against his soft loose scarf. Very mildly, the soft cadence of his accent a touch more pronounced: "I suggest you stop."

Sarah can only look at Steve with wide eyes and hanging open mouth, gesturing helplessly to the other side of the counter. She looks increasingly uncomfortable with the growing tension, crossing her arms and grasping at her elbows until her knuckles go white, eyes darting between Angie, Lucien, and Matt. "Angie's not..." she starts weakly, the sentence quickly dying as Angie visibly winces and raises a hand to his own temple.

The pressure behind his eyes builds, until he feels like they might pop, and he has to grab the counter when it fades to keep from stumbling. Shaking his head in an attempt to rid himself of the lingering pain, Angie finally looks between Matt and Lucien with curiosity when he can open his eyes. Once what they're saying sinks in, it fades with the unfurling of a slow smile. The tension that leaves Angie seems to spill across the counter right into Sarah. "Okay. I hear you. Learn to control it. Sor--" He catches himself, stopping short, smile growing. "Thanks for the heads up," he supplements after a second.

"Angie, go sit down," Sarah hisses from across the counter, face pale.

"Right." Far more cooperative now that he apparently has something to think about and occupy himself with, Angie pushes away from the counter to find a seat.

As soon as he's out of earshot, the apologies start to pour from Sarah's mouth, as mortified as they are sincere. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she says, voice tight. She's not sure which one of them she's talking to.

Steve's mouth also opens, but no words come out while the others speak. When he finally does speak he at first only manages, "What..." He rounds the counter, still shifting his gaze back and forth. It's not clear whether he intentionally puts himself between the Tessiers and Angie, but his brows furrow deep as Sarah starts apologizing. Then gives Matt a searching look. "Are you alright? Did she...hurt you?"

Lucien's gaze tracks Angie to his seat, his expression inscrutable. "We are quite unharmed." Whether this is directed to Sarah or Steve is unclear; he isn't looking at either of them. He brushes an undetectable speck of lint from the front of his coat, and touches his fingertips lightly to the crook of Matt's elbow. "Come," is gentle, "{we have a far more entertaining show to get to.}" He doesn't spare another look for Angie or Sarah either; just turns to sweep his company toward the door. "{Steve, you are in for a treat.}"