Caduceus is the personification of a nice hot cup of tea on a dark, chilly day. He is also a bit morbid, a bit goofy, and a lot of metaphysical wavy-graviness in one package. He is impressively tall at about seven feet high, but hardly imposing; he's skinny in a slightly underfed way, with a thoughtful manner to his movements. His skin is a pale dove gray color, like milk with a drop of ink. His neutral skin tone is offset by a luxuriously soft, vividly pink mohawk (sides shaved to a pink fuzz) worn loose down his shoulders, the occasional scruff of pink beard, and matching pink eyes. His face and body language are casually expressive in a somewhat disarming way. Although he's often a bit distracted and dreamy in demeanor (not being around people for too long does that to you), he's also good-natured and welcoming, patient and thoughtful, perceptive and wise, optimistic and kind, a practitioner of radical honesty and gentle conviction. His voice is a warm, low rumble, thrumming from deep in his narrow chest and rarely rising above the volume appropriate for an intimate chat. He has a natural aura of sleepy-eyed calm and is often the voice of compassion and reason in a difficult situation.
Caduceus comes off as eccentric, simple and inexperienced with many things, but he isn't at all bothered by being seen as strange. He is strange, and that's okay. He was home-schooled his entire life, and it shows. He was raised in a largely self-sufficient rural church house with a graveyard, and their family business made him deeply familiar with life, death, and the natural world. One might think of someone so close to death as being inherently macabre, and he is frank about the natural order - but Caduceus is very much a Soft Goth rather than maudlin or grim, his skull and insect aesthetic made welcoming with bright colors and small kindnesses. He's clearly content to work with his hands, meditate at length, bask in the quietude of nature and converse about anything at all where he is invited, as he clearly enjoys meeting people. He also speaks aloud to himself and the natural things around him - including plants and animals - regardless of their willingness to speak in reply.
While he is by no means especially intelligent, Caduceus is fantastically perceptive: small details about people and things around him that most would never even notice seem to jump out at him as plainly obvious. He can read the moods and unconscious habits of individual people very well, even if he doesn't know how those apply to a larger situation. This almost eerily perceptive quality combined with his open manner and genuine interest in the well-being of others makes him a natural confidant. He's the kind of guy you just want to tell your secrets to and be hugged by without knowing exactly why. And as it happens, he likes hugs.
Caduceus channels vital life force, the energy that is exchanged in the cycle of life and death, so much so that he is physically in tune with the natural environment of his surroundings and his coloration may vary according to that environment. He can use this life force to heal the injured, and in an extreme case, even to revivify a newly deceased body. The flip side of this ability allows him to encourage decay, such as expediting decomposition. Hypothetically, it stands to reason that his power could be used to physically harm or even kill a living person - but he does not intend to do so. Being so in tune with the dying process, it is also possible for Caduceus to communicate with the echo of a deceased individual's spirit in a very limited capacity if he has part of their body available.
Power Notes: Though they both work with living stuff, Caduceus has not been trained as a doctor or scientist, nor is he a biological detector like Simon. His medical knowledge is limited to a basic familiarity with human parts (mostly learned from his mortuary work) and first aid. Though they both work with dead stuff, Caduceus is not like Dorian, either - he can't repurpose the energy he redistributes as any kind of explosive charge or to animate the dead, and he wouldn't want to try. Caduceus would, in fact, be disgusted by the idea of creating undead.
The greater the use of his power, the greater the stress on his body: Just because Caduceus has the ability to resurrect the freshly dead or commune with their life force doesn't mean that it comes freely. It taxes him physically, mentally, and emotionally to spend himself in this way. He could raise one dead person in a day, perhaps, but it would exhaust him - two would simply be beyond his ability. Attempting to raise the dead on a daily basis would be too grueling a task to sustain.
The conditions under which Caduceus will be able and willing to bring someone back are also rather particular: he won't restore life into a body beyond repair, and the spirit in its entirety only lingers in connection to its dead body for a short time. The longer a person has been dead, the less likely Caduceus can help them. This process can also potentially have terrible ramifications for the person being brought back; returning from death is inherently traumatic.
A self-taught vegetarian/vegan/organic cook and baker, Caduceus makes rustic yet wholly nourishing food. He has a deep love of tea, which he cultivates himself. He's a good gardener and avid naturalist. Fluent in English. Knows a bit about Swedish and Latin. He will cast blessings and curses as the need may arise, though how powerful they are is up for debate.
Caduceus has home-studied health, medicine, nutrition, and herbalism, and is interested in the practices of various religions and much new age lore. He delights in natural wonders such as crystals, insects, fungi, and lichen. Loves a good ghost story. He unreservedly enjoys classic wholesome TV including documentaries and nature shows, the Muppets, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.
As one might gather from a family full of alliterative "C" names, the Clays are an idiosyncratic bunch. They've been called hippies, clerics, druids, priests and pagans, amongst less flattering things. These labels aren't exactly right, but they aren't entirely wrong either. The Clay family has been facilitating burial and funerary rites in Shadycreek Run, Oregon for as far back as anyone can remember. The Blooming Grove Funeral Home and Memorial Garden is a hidden gem nestled deep within the blighted Savalirwood some miles beyond the town. The Blooming Grove was so named for the impressive gardens that occupy the grounds, taking their nourishment from bodies of the deceased. While they have performed rites and rituals for those of varying faiths over the decades, the Clays themselves quietly follow the wisdom of what they refer to as "Melora the Wildmother," or the ancient spirit of nature herself. The Clays built a reputation as a quiet, peaceful family over the generations, contributing to local charity efforts and community projects when they have been able. Today they are mostly dismissed as harmless eccentrics by their neighbors when they are remembered at all.
Caduceus grew up in the Blooming Grove with his mother, father and multiple siblings. For what may strike others as being a dark or depressing family business for children to be exposed to, that was never how the Clays perceived it. Their work was an honoring of life, the matter of laying to rest good people and enriching the lives of others in their passing. Caduceus and his siblings were trained in various mortuary, funerary and ritual practices in keeping with their ages and inclinations. Though the children were home-schooled (a decision likely made partly with Caduceus' coloration in mind), it was a largely positive experience.
Caduceus doesn't have a Tragic Mutant Backstory (sorry). He was born as pale and sensitive to his environment as he is now and looks close enough to tall-human-with-a-dye-job that he has largely been able to fake a pass in society on the rare occasion when he has needed to pass. Though the political fervor over mutants has grown louder in recent years, Caduceus has become more of a recluse on a parallel timeline, and that has allowed him to avoid having much trouble as a result. He discovered his ability to heal quite accidentally, as children are wont to do, and has explored it gradually over the years. Realizing he could bring someone deceased back to life proved a greater revelation, but he took it as a wonderful discovery and had sense enough to keep the knowledge of his ability within the family. There are rumors that the Blooming Grove has mystical healing properties, but it's merely a local legend.
The Blooming Grove itself hasn't been fully operational as a funeral home for the past ten years or so, the odd special request aside, and has fallen into some disrepair. Caduceus himself has handled the Grove as best he could, but he has also been alone on the property for several years. His family has scattered, with their business having dried up, to pursue their own destinies. By and by, all of them have felt the urge to travel and seek their fortunes elsewhere, and being the baby of the family Caduceus was simply the last one standing.
Until Professor Xavier discovered an unusual young man living shuttered away from the wider world and felt his abilities could provide his school and their cause with an invaluable service in case of an emergency...