Gloom and Doom or Hope and Balance

Cast: date: '6 September 2012'
place: 'Tower Hamlets Cemetery, East End'
participants: 'Mattie, Phoenix'
synopsis: 'The cheery shopkeeper brings tea and sunshine to the dreary break room at the Watch headquarters.'
log: "Any hour's a good hour to be up, really; five in the a.m. is as good a time as any. Maybe Phoenix just naturally rises that early; maybe he couldn't sleep. But either way, the tall dark man is dressed in a rough, hand-spun light colored shirt and some soft pajama pants, and he's found his way to the Watch break room.\n\nTo restock the tea, apparently.\n\nThere's a basket on the counter, filled with all kinds of hand-labeled pouches of loose leaf from his shop. All kinds of variety, from your standard earl grey to more exotic blends of camomile and other flowers and herbs. Most of them seem to revolve around relaxing or soothing sleep, though there are a few that are for nice, clean pick-me-ups. Either way, he's calmly filling the cupboard with them, humming something under his breath.\n\nOne moment, he was alone. The next, he's not. In one chair, curled up with her knees pressed up against her chest and her arms wrapped around them tightly, is the often elusive Mattie Dahl looking like she just woke up, though dressed in her usual — jeans, boots, trench coat. Her green eyes are bleary with sleep, though not enough of it, from the looks of the bluish patches beneath. \n\nShe rubs her eyes and makes a soft waking sort of sound, then lets her feet hit the ground with a thud, pushing herself out of the chair and over to the counter to find the coffee machine. Tea is not strong enough for the Yank, apparently. There's no real greeting, just a brief nod of acknowledgment.\n\nThat thud makes Phoenix jump, and turn around swiftly, before putting a hand on his chest. \"Oh, geez, that scared me,\" he laughs. \"Would you like me to make you some tea, luv?\" He pauses, as she beelines for the coffee instead, and amends, \"…or coffee?\"\n\n\"Sorry, she says, though she doesn't sound particularly sincere about it. \"I should get a bell or something. You know, like a cat.\" \n\nHis offer to make her tea gets a polite smile, as she lifts the pot as if to say 'got this.' \n\nThe slim redhead moves to the sink to fill it, glancing over at him. \"It's, um. William? Or something?\" she asks, a bit awkwardly. She knows most of the Watch by name at least, even if she's only seen them in passing or read their name in the report. And even if she doesn't quite get their names right. \"It's early. You just getting in off a job?\" The pot is filled and carried back to the machine where she sets about putting the grounds in a filter and pushing GO.\"\n\nClose,\" Phoenix chuckles, \"Williams is my last name. Phoenix. And you must be the inimitable Mattie I've heard so much about?\" He lets her get her own stuff and make her own coffee, as he instead leans against the counter, folding his arms. \"Ah, just insomnia. Figured I'd put it to good use and bring some tea down here for the group. And you?\"\n\nThe question earns a moment of consideration. \"I guess I fell asleep,\" she says, with a nod to the table. \"No one reminds you that it's late when they can't see you, apparently.\" \n\nHer brows knit and she tips her head, glancing back at the chair. \"I really hope no one sat on me. I hate that. I can't feel it, but it's very… you don't wanna know.\" Mattie wraps her arms around herself and stares at the coffee pot as if she could will it to brew faster. \"I'm sure they'll like that,\" she adds after a second. \"The tea, I mean.\" Not sitting on her invisible, incorporeal ghost self, that is.\n\n\"Oops,\" Phoenix chuckles. \"I can imagine that would be quite tiring, dealing with people moving through you. Perhaps a bell would be a good solution, yes. Or always be sure to fall asleep on thumb tacks. … Though you seem to be corporeal enough now?\" He hazards a smile.\n\nShe decides it's too tiring to stand and hops up onto the counter, crossing her ankles as she waits for the joe to finish. \"Yes. Mattie Dahl in the flesh,\" she says, offering a hand to him so he can shake it and see she is indeed all there. \"If I wore a bell, it'd disappear along with me. But it might at least be less scary when I decide to come back to the living, so to speak.\" She stifles a yawn, not bothering to cover with her free hand.\n\nPhoenix takes her hand, and gives her a firm, warm handshake. \"Then perhaps sleeping on thumb tacks is a less than optimal solution,\" he laughs. \"Fair enough, fair enough. So, you're from America?\" he inquires, noting the accent as he starts to fix himself a cup of tea. Might as well! He leans over to select one of the more energizing ones from the batch, and starts shaking them into a little cheesecloth bag. \"I've never been, myself. What brings you across the pond?\"\n\n\"Yeah. Los Angeles, more or less,\" Mattie says, hands tucking into her pockets once she has them both to herself again. \"Work.\" She gestures to their illustrious surroundings. \"I sort of moved my way east working on stuff and came over here when they needed someone with my abilities on a case, and I guess I just never left.\" \n\nShe looks out the window at the gray morning that will probably end up a gray day. \"I think it suits me more than California these days.\"\n\n\"Los Angeles! Sunny California.\" Phoenix smiles as he sets about knotting up the little bag and dropping it into a mug. \"Work does have a certain inevitable draw, doesn't it? Pulls you like iron to a magnet. It's why I started my shop. I figure, if I'm going to be pulled along by a string, I might as well be figuring where I go.\" He pauses, to fill his mug with water, then looks back at Mattie. \"I suppose it suits us all fairly well,\" he comments. \"Too much doom and gloom, if you ask me, but alas. That's how it goes.\"\n\n\"The doom and gloom is everywhere. At least here the weather doesn't feel ironic,\" Mattie says, reaching for a cup from the cupboard above her head and then pouring the coffee within before the machine's finished completely. Sugar and creamer get added next, and she finally takes a sip of the coffee. \n\n\"What kind of shop?\" she asks. Apparently she doesn't have his entire history memorized.\n\n\"True enough. I could still do with less of it,\" Phoenix chuckles. As for his vague and hardly explained shop, the man smiles again as he sips at his tea. \"Karma Station,\" he explains. \"I sell… teas, incense, herbs, crystals… Balancing things. It's also just a place to come and relax, and get away. From the doom and the gloom.\"\n\nThere's a skeptical look that says all too plainly that she doesn't believe there's truly a place where one can get away from the doom and gloom. \"Does any of that help or is it just a way to make a buck — a pound? — from the tourists?\" she asks, though it's asked in a way that's genuinely curious. \"I mean, I guess there might be a Touched person with the power to make that kinda thing. But in and of themselves? Do you think they do?\" Another sip of coffee is taken, her hands both wrapped around the mug.\n\nPhoenix sips his tea thoughtfully. \"I think,\" he finally says at length, \"that it's psychological. If you believe it's helpful, then even to some extent, it will be. And I work very hard at keeping my place calm and safe for everyone. Plus,\" he takes another sip, and grins at her, \"there's nothing wrong with a good cup of tea.\"\n\nGreen eyes inspect her mug of coffee for a moment, as if considering if tea might make her happier. \"I guess that's true. The Gloom seems to prey on the people who've hit bottom more often than not. And someone who thinks their energy is being lifted up because they're wearing a crystal or had a bit of balancing tea is not usually your tragic soul, right?\" The coffee mug is lifted again for a sip.\n\n\"It's hope,\" Phoenix says simply. \"Some hope, some laughter. A good story, a little balance. If we can build it brick by brick, perhaps we'll at least have some fortifications when it comes for us. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. Why be miserable when we don't have to be?\" He smiles warmly — he seems to do that a lot; does he ever frown or sulk? — and sets his tea down. \"On that note…\" He pulls open a drawer and fishes out an open foil package to offer it to her. \"Biscuit?\"\n\n\"Mm.\" That's a non-committal sort of answer from the solemn-eyed girl. Apparently she's not swayed by his theory, though she does reach for a biscuit from the wrapper. \"Cheers,\" she offers in a parody of the British term of thanks, then bites into the cookie. \n\nSlipping off the counter, she lifts her mug. \"Nice meeting you properly, Williams. I think I'm going to go try to catch a couple of hours of sleep before I have to hit the grind again.\"\n\nPhoenix seems pleased when she picks out a biscuit, and he sets it on the counter, picking one out himself. He sets it down though, when she slides off to the ground, and reaches for another handshake. \"Well it was a pleasure to finally meet you too, Miss Mattie. Good luck on that sleep!\" It's okay, he's used to his silly theories not exactly holding up to the utter psychological wipe-out that is the Gloom. He just smiles pleasantly, and sips his tea.\n\nShe can't help but smile a little, especially when he calls her Miss Mattie. \"Thanks for the tea. Y'know. On behalf of all the tea drinkers, I mean. Because I doubt they'll even wonder who brought it but will drink it all happily without thanking you themselves. Assholes.\" The last is a joke, punctuated with a smirk. The mug of coffee is apparently a to-go mug now, as it goes with her as she exits the break room. If he's watching, Phoenix will see she goes once more invisible in the hallway. It must make for a better tube ride, anyway.\n"
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