1965-02-22 - Back in the Bayou
Summary: Elmo and JP take refuge in teh Bayou after the fight in town and JP's ex- kicked a hole in his heart
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: The Doobie Brothers - Black Water
elmo jp 

The fight in town led to bailing out into the Bayou. If there was one universal truth it was that haters' gonna hate, and also that some situations can't just be fixed because you want them to be.

…Okay to be fair that was 2 truths which for Jean-Pierre Marius Bonaventure was two truths too many. It was a busy week.

JP had been playing tour guide. He loved his stomping grounds even though he lived a hike from the city; it was still his by proximity because he said so. The beer was good, the beignets helped, and he wasn't feeling too poorly from the fight because Vitale doesn't let anyone suffer from an overdose of fun.

What was true about the Bonaventure house though: It had been built onto several times, It was super duper crowded with 6-7 siblings still living there, and that it was on stilts because flood plains, and there was woods and water everywhere even though one could navigate it. That said there was a certain point where JP left his car parked where the sheds were to keep sap, sun and rain off the vehicles, more of a lean to really, but it was on higher ground a ways back.

It was very much not the city and JP… was and wasn't a very different person here. He was always JP, but he was almost just more of the skinny Santa Elmo met him as than the rake planning a heist on discriminatory factory foremen. It was a good distraction. The older siblings were out with friends for the festival, the younger ones mostly in bed. Apparently there was a 12 and a 10 year old running around (Louis and Millard). JP though was still half there and lost in his head and Elmo seemed to have honed in on that since moment one.

While they were busy being marveled over by Vitale in the cramped house and so damn excited that Severin was home, JP hit Elmo in the sleeve and told him only, "Grab the beer." He grabbed what looked like a coffee tin and headed out the back door into the darkness lit up by that festival moon to the serenade of the riot that was the bayou at night. Insect trills, tiny waves of symphonic noise, and the frogs croooooping.

Elmo's shyness and anxiety have ramped up significantly, being around so many Bonaventures, in this weird environment that is completely unlike anything he's experienced before. Instead of traffic, there's the sound of water and insects. Instead of street lights, there's the hanging white moon. Instead of his own sharp accent there's the Creole of the bayou, almost incomprehensible even when they're speaking English. And there are so, so very many Bonaventures. He knew JP had siblings in the double digits, but he hadn't really known, until he saw them all, just how many siblings that actually is.

So he's glad when JP pulls him out. He follows him out the back door, beer dangling from one hand, his head full of the South and buzzing like cicadas.

JP let boots hit the damp packed earth as he picked a path at least that Elmo could follow. There was no electricity from a power station out here but there was plenty of ambient life and fireflies. Electrons moved to a different path than they did in a city full of outlets. Here was the land of extension cords, gas lights, and batteries. JP grabbed something in the dark out of the tool box next to the smoker on that back stoop, turned to face Elmo and shoved something heavy, metal, and cylindrical into his back pocket. THAT… was unmistakably 4 D-cell batteries stacked waiting to let loose. JP'd armed him with a mag flashlight? That relaxed drawl simply answered the unspoken question, "Don' get eaten, Sparkplug." Eaten by what?!

There was a couple paddle boats out there for quick transit across high tide and what looked like a home constructed boat but without a propeller below but a big big fan on top. Huh. All the same JP grabbed a long pole and trucked off jabbing at the ground occasionally to test the walking path in the dark as they moved on silently without explanation. The bayou was absolutely quite and startlingly loud in a whole different way, but this might be the most remote from other people one could get. No stores near by at all, neighbours were away a hike and totally not visible from the porch except for the two across the way. That there was nothing but that flashlight was something for Elmo, but there were no mechanical parts where they were walking through. It was almost odd for someone like JP to come from really born so far out of his element.

"This the quietest anythin ever been for you ain't it, Sparkplug?" Eyebrows arched curiously breaking the silence as they walked on and on and on through the damp brush in the down lit darkness. Oh let's not mistake there were things that moved out there. And that? Was that a bat that flew overheat? That was a legit bat!

Everything electrical, except for that heavy stack of batteries, gets fainter as they go along. Elmo keeps wanting to glance over his shoulder and find an artifical light source, but he doesn't. Part of him is afraid there won't be any, if he does. "Ya mean for my power? Yeah." He's stepping cautiously along behind JP. Sidewalks, this ain't. "Everything gone dark." The bat whirrs overhead and he ducks with a hissed curse. "Friggin'… okay, it's a bat. Quiet for you too, isn't it? Not a lotta machinery out here." He hasn't asked JP eaten by what, because he's actually afraid of the answer. Well, if any primeval horrors rise up from the swamp, he's got a nice jolt for them, at least.

Everything was in water or damp from it. Ah ha! Elmo can take the whole swamp on and… shit possibly kill JP in the process for standing on the ground. Right. Damn. Too much of a good thing? They walked further on and glowy bugs zipped by. JP squint and told Elmo, "Eeeh you want a light out here you jes' put a few bugs in a jar but really, give yourself a bit. It'll brighten up."

As night vision settles in. The shrug came plodding through the dirt and roots he knew better than anything else. Off that way was what looked like a flat patch of ground and a bit of a dock, and higher up between a few of the trees was a small shack that was no bigger than maybe an 8'x8' square tree fort a yard off the ground. Some traps for crawfish were out, maybe other things. A place to fish out the the rain all the same. There seemed to be a cooler there and a small shortwave radio too. A thing that went bzzzt!

Elmo actually gives a little sigh of relief when he feels that shortwave. It's too easy to let his imagination run wild and wonder if they've actually gone backwards in time, somehow, walking away from manmade things and into the swamp. An idea out of the science fiction books he's always reading and discussing with Lindon, it doesn't seem that farfetched with the fight today and the roar of the swamp and the dark, dark, darkness. Things are a touch surreal. He's surprised at how well he can see, after fifteen minutes or so have gone by. "Yeah. I can see okay now."

JP pulled up to a stop, boots landing with a quieter thud on the dock. He checked the cooler first and glanced around in it. Empty but he let the water out from the side spout back to the water beyond. So many damn thoughts today. Finally he stopped walking and sat. This was where he was going to go apparently. "We should come out here do some fishin tomorrow." As much a statement as an offer. A hand went out for one of the beers and he went to the door jamb of the shack and lo, there was a bent piece of metal screwed to the timber that sufficed to be a bottle cap opener. The metal bit got thrown into a coffee tin nearby with a clatter of others. On the windowsill several empty coke bottles were lined up in a row. And then, finally, he sat. He stayed quiet for a while just listening to the whole swamp carry on like a woodland wall street. He asked curiously, "Your pa ever take yous fishin?"

"Nah. More libraries and museums. Not so much, fishing." Elmo opens his own beer, sits—carefully, because there's junk around and he doesn't know the place like JP does. He's just close enough that his leg touches JP's. "Guess you've done a lot of it, huh?" He flicks the bottlecap into the tin. "I'm game."

The floor space is mostly clear and JP didn't scoot over or away. It's hard to have personal space issues when you are 1 of 12 kids and 2 parents in a small place and apparently often have a sibling come crash in your bed for lack of space until you were big enough to fight for all the mattress space at once. JP listened drinking his beer and just letting the ennui of the day rest o the water around them. "Well… I' teach you then. I mean you notice we don' got no bodegas here. Is pretty much you want it, go get it up out of the water and don' go losing an arm in the process." He let the conversation fall quiet for a long while before looking across his shoulder to Elmo, "Merci." There was a small nod as if Elmo should know what he's being thanked for.

Elmo chose to sit this close, of course. Even though he tried to play it smooth, like it just happened like that. It didn't and he knows it and JP probably knows it. All part of his 'be there for JP' campaign that he embarked on this morning, when Mozelle appeared without JP's daughter, and JP had looked like two or three vertebrae got smashed. His heart had squeezed in his chest, seeing the wild, fearless Cajun defeated, even if it was temporary. JP hadn't even looked like that when Michael had dragged him out of the party. Hadn't looked like that, expecting to die. Such thoughts whirl around in his head as he sits quietly. The moonlight shivers on the water, and the swamp lives and croaks and gurgles. "What for," he says, eventually.

A mortal blow from an angel crushes a mortal body and that fearless soul would still burn forward. Your first love takes your heart out of your chest? and that takes the fight entirely out of him. It was a startling contrast to see the warrior brought to his knees but, he was still breathing. Survival was what he was about; what other choice was there.

He didn't answer right away and just seemed to watch the wily New Yorker for a moment gauging the nature of his response. No he knew, he was just making JP say it to force him to talk about it. Hell it was in such a way Elmo was shouldering the burden of 'being less than intuitive' as a feint to give any pride JP might have on it over to him to carry. That? That was a hell of a subtle, but awesome thing. Finally there was a nod and he shrugged. "Just really was hopin today goin' different. Five and a half years a' plannin for something that don't pan out? well…" He took a drink and exhaled looking at the water trying to reconcile the loss. "Can't be mad, ya know? She' a good woman. Better'n anyone'll damn well deserve that' for sure." His jaw tightened but in the end he let that go. Looking back over to Elmo he offered, "'Preciate you bein there. You know I didn' mean t' put any a' that on y'all."

Elmo watches JP back. Challenging him, daring him to say some of it out loud. The easy thing was to keep it buried, refuse to deal. It's not like he hasn't enabled JP there before. But not now. This is realer, more important than angels. JP's future is at stake. His little girl's future, too. And Elmo hasn't forgotten that JP gave him that future to guard. It's a live coal in his belly.

"Shoulda tried keeping us away. That woulda been hilarious." He looks away, back over the water. "Sure must've been something. You and her. Wish I coulda seen it."

JP drank his beer and grinned slowly, reaching his eyes. "Oh, I know there some fights I won' win." That being one of them. He seemed to genuinely appreciate that though he didn't say as much, but nudges his leg against Elmo's. He leaned forward, elbows on knees. The smile was somewhat drunk and went wistful. That smile his his eyes lit up, though there was as mealoncholy. "She used to sneak out of her house an' tell me she wanted to climb the city. Ya know," He glanced to Elmo with a grin, "Man, first date we almos' got arrested runnin through the fountain in Jackson Square where we were earlier? I still remember when she firs' told me 'I don' care what they say, You kiss me right now Jean-Pierre Bonaventure'. And that… was that." Those dark eyes closed and he shook his head. "She somethin else. And… she still is." His shoulders slumped a bit and he took a long pull from his beer shaking his head, "God I love that woman." And… it hurt. "An' she's… past that now."

Elmo drinks, and listens, and smiles just a little, picturing it. That beautiful, headstrong lady, demanding what she wanted from JP. He can see it, see the two of them lighting up New Orleans with their love. "Musta been spectacular."

How can he console JP, though? He's not wise. He's not experienced in love. This kind of thing, it's beyond what he's lived, and he's at least smart enough not to offer anything without the weight of experience behind it. He would screw it up. He's pretty sure about that. She left you, but her loss.

No, he definitely shouldn't say that. Shouldn't say that JP's defeated posture wasn't the only thing that made his heart cringe in his chest. JP's plead to Mozelle that she love him again? That had made his stomach ice over. If she'd agreed, JP would have left him, left the team, left New York. Elmo can't even blame him. With all this for the taking, why would JP choose anything else?

Oh, he's got a Gordian knot instead of a heart, under his ribs.

And he still doesn't know what to say. He tries, though. "You got the team now," he says softly. Then, looking away, shoulder hiking up, "You got me."

Their loss. That wasn't a decision she was happy to make, and it wasn't in anger, just necessity. Elmo wasn't wrong though; JP would give up everything to have his kid back in a heartbeat, but that heart wasn't 'beating'. That offer just wasn't even existent.

Who knows? Maybe this is why he's like a shark always staying in motion, or treating everything in life like it's temporary. Maybe because he had all his chips betting on this, or he simply knew this wasn't to be his reality and has been avoiding the truth forever. Either would explain why he was so damn cagey all morning beforehand.

The words finally chosen? Turns out were a superlative choice all in all. There was a moment, a long pause before JP's rough, bruised hand reached out to set atop Elmo's and squeezed it, holding it there. He agreed, "I do, an' that too is a hell of a thing." He didn't remove his hand yet, glancing to Elmo, "Things don' always go how we wan' em to, but it don' mean they turn out bad. They turn out just.. different I guess." He wasn't as educated in a great number of things as Elmo was growing up, but he saw enough of the world in place of the inside of a schoolhouse to know good moments and bad moments were not mutually exclusive and sometimes life was just messy at no one's particular fault.

It would have been more profound had something under the water not splashed going back down. Was that a gator? Oh god they were surrounded by gators everywhere weren't they? Laying in wait waiting for someone to stick a toe or hand in the water?! JP paying it no mind was not helpful as the man blithely tried bantering with an Agent of Heaven there to likely beat the shit out of him. Oh shit- what was up with those people that still had business with JP? Were they still in town? Well shit.

Elmo's hand quivers for a second under JP's. He's still looking away. "Maybe I don't got as much to offer as she does, but—" The splash makes him pick his head up, a little alarmed. "Okay, that's creepy." The bayou is a living organism and he's just a tiny speck of nutrients in it. He's tempted to pull out the flashlight and turn it on, but does he really want to recreate that National Geographic picture of dozens of pairs of reptilian eyes glowing back from the water? Maybe ignorance is bliss.

JP's hand stayed clamped there. Like every decision he make he chose a path and that's the direction he moved in heedless of consequence. He shrugged having run his words together as one thought, "Ain't creepy. You been there for me, Sparkplug… You can speak you' mind all ya wan'." It was after that he noticed the spooked expression and boggled at what one could even be spooked about.

His face warmed into a grin and there was a throaty laugh that welled up from his chest, "Spark, jes' a catfish. They come out at night cause the gators like the sun. Come out durin the day." Those dark eyes drift out to teh water and back with a slow wink to Elmo. "Lost enough t'day. You ain' gettin eaten by nothin but maybe a mosquito."

Elmo sighs and turns his eyes skyward, expressively. "Okay. Catfish. Got it." He grins sidelong at JP. "Can't blame a guy for bein' jumpy." Daring, he turns his hand over so he can hold JP's. Maybe JP won't like it, but he wants to try. He tries to play that cool, too. Before he met him, he probably wouldn't even have tried. "Anyway. Um. Yeah. Sorry things went down like that." Anxiety rising, he takes a pull off his beer. "Listen. Whatever you want to do from here is fine with me. If you n' Sev want to stay here with your family, get outta the cold, whatever. I know New York wasn't in your ten-year plan. I just…I just want you to know, I'm not gonna try'n make you do anything you don't wanna do." Is his voice a little shaky? Pretend not to notice. "This's your home." And this has nothing to do with why he drove down with V, of course. He didn't anticipate maybe they'd be going back without the Cajuns. Not in the least. That totally didn't happen.

JP didn't seem to have fault for people tryin things. There was some preening when he boasted mildly, "Scariest thing in this swamp be me, mon ami." He was trying, to get his pluck up but his heart wasn't entirely in boasting. Moving forward and putting the past behind one were very different things. The hand his was grasping turned over to grasp his back and… he let it. Sure.

Jean-Pierre listened and didn't answer. That wasn't panic inducing at all. Newp. He squint a look in the moonlit patches of the standing water that was overhung with trees and roots than any lake or river the Yankee was used to. His head tilted with a shrug. "Always will be mah home. This place…" Was still and very, very much alive filled with mud, bugs, predators and music, "Thiiiiis place 'always with me. But I stay, who run tha' garage? Who helpin' our people there?" Here he had a strange peace to him. This is what he knew; stepping into the place most familiar to him. He finished that beer and set that one aside. He may grab another but that would require getting up and he was disinclined to do that just yet. "Stayin here? Aaaaah it'd be hidin'. Here my home sure but my life ain' here. "

Elmo's quiet for a bit, too. It's easy to do here, for some reason. Home, he could barely stand idleness, was always reaching for a new project to get absorbed in. Here, there's every good reason to sit quietly by the water, drink, and consider life. He understands better now why JP is different here than he is north of the Mason-Dixon.

"We did find you a good kitchen," he says, and drains his own beer. "Seems a shame to waste it." He doesn't dare say anything like please come back with me. JP is as skittish as he himself has ever been. A cat can't be chased. You can only let it decide to spend time with you. "I was thinkin," he adds, in a good attempt at carelessness. "What we oughta call the garage. Think we oughta call it 'Gearhead's'."

The feral cat stayed still. Elmo wasn't wrong; you chase a cat and it'll flee but if you sit very still or entertain it with something amazingly shiny you can coax it to linger. Here time moved differently; New York lived in a sprint while the swamp strolled taking all the time in the world like savoring a fine wine. Some things just need to be experienced to be understood. Ghost Peppers were like that too.

Both eyebrows arched and there was a slow nod. "We did do 'dat." The suggestion caught him a bit by surprise, though it had merit without any flattery attached even. "Merde, naw yeah? Well it do sound good… You really think that huh?" he chewed on the inside of his cheek thoughtfully considerin that. His hand adjusted but he left it there. "It do sound badass don' it?"

He considered that for a bit and there was a contented humm reminding, "Tomorrow you, Pascal an' I, Sev and V if they wan' go fish. Maybe wrangle up some crawdads. Make a good gumbo. You finally get to eat a proper mean roun' here. You mi' be holdin Vitale's hand tha whole time so you stomach don' kill you but I promise is worth it." He held up a freed finger in emphasis, "Like all great things in life you find you'self ask, Why I agree to that, an' when can we do that again?"

Elmo tips the empty beer bottle and his head. "We gotta call it something, nu? And I like the way it sounds. Gearhead's Garage." Said in his accent, it does roll pleasingly.

He nods, eyes half closed, agreeing to plans. Fishing. Gumbo. Ghost pepper based team building exercises. All just part of what he'd signed on for as JP's partner in crime. It would be rowdy and loud, and he'd regret so many things. He would regret them less when JP laughed at his sputtering Yiddish curses, slapped his face fondly and called him Sparkplug.

All that was for tomorrow. For now, he's mildly drunk, holding JP's hand, sitting in a tiny fishing shack, in the middle of a swamp that sang with ten thousand voices, lit only by fireflies and the moon.

"So," he says, and his voice breaks into silence. He tries again. "So, when can we do that again?" He glances over at JP, his smile shy enough to make clear what he means by that.

JP wasn't one to overthink things before committing to decisions which made his lead easy for many to follow. That he listened to the council of others in making decisions made him a fair leader in many things. That key was surrounding one's self with people they trusted and liked the direction of.

It really was a wondrously enchanting, and insect infused end to a shit day. Something serenely honest about this place away from concrete and manmade structure: alive, water and wood, where inorganic things stayed quiet and buried, or in Elmo's pockets. Heh. The two of them were very, very different worlds meeting in the middle really.

The man-shaped feral cat cracked a wry, amused grin that wasn't without an affection for his partner in crime there. He held up a finger, "Groun' rules. " THere were suddenly rules now?! He thought about it; more clever than people give him credit for which… was that a ploy!? Maybe it was recklessness or he was just that quick on the decision and extrapolating all eventualities. Huh. Still that hand rest under his and he didn't pull it away, not one for being gooey and affectionate, but not one at all uncomfortable or stingy about personal space either. Odd feral was odd. "First, never let emotional shit come between y'self and runnin your business. Now that' hard sometimes, but that' how it gotta be or it' sure t'fail." Cash was king. Always.

"For two? Eh, I like ya Elmo. You on that short list a' people I ain' really interested in leavin' worse off f' runnin into me." The Cajun drawled the words out thoughtfully. "So it get too complicate? Say somethin. I don' like losin friends or messin up m' own house, or what anyone got goin' on. Aside from that?" He snerked, "Whenever we say. We the masters of our own destiny. Not… them. No' noone. Jes' us." Oh yeah, shenanigans came secondary to making sure they were okay first. That wasn't something to jeopardize their friendship over if it ever came down to it; in that he'd pick Elmo and he still being alright first which was… about as sensible as this morning went.

He sighed. The morning still stung but even Mozelle knew how to get through his obstinate skull: Amalie had to come first. That overrode whatever else he wanted just like not losin his pals, or hurting the team. Loose cannon, but one that made sure he didn't hit anything he still cared about because that… was how Gearhead looked after people.

He thought about it and shrugged speaking frank as he ever did, though not without a consideration for the gravity of his decisions, "I mean ya asked me t' trust you, I am. " His brow creased and a faint shrug followed with a side tilt of his head, "Aaaaan' you asked me t'try stayin in New York. I tol' you I would. I don' break my word lightly. You respect' someone you don' do that ya know." It was a big decision but he wasn't renegotiating it just because life just punched him in the teeth. Not carelessly.

"Yeah, you told me that." Elmo's looking out over the water. "Just, I wouldn't blame ya if you changed your mind. Me and Vitko, we'd survive. But, glad you're gonna come back." His long fingers squeeze JP's briefly.

Seeing JP here in his element had made such an impression on Elmo. He admires JP's fortitude even more, knowing now how different New York is. The cold, the concrete, the urgency at all hours of day or night—it's New Orleans' exact opposite in almost every way. Yet there JP is, having agreed to Elmo's plans. Terrifying in its way. He needs to be worthy of that trust, that respect. Which he's done just by being himself, but he second-guesses even that. How can being himself be so compelling to someone like JP?

He'd told Lambert once that his lovers were mysteries to him, and JP is no exception. He is a wild mystery that's chosen to stay by Elmo's side, something so beautiful and rare that Elmo can't properly grapple with it. So he just accepts it. As long as JP wants to be there.

"Yeah," he murmurs. "Okay. Business first. Talk if we got problems. And," he glances over at JP's moonlit profile. "Masters of our destiny. Not them. Just us."

JP sprawled his legs out. With the rain threatening to be on the wind in that sweet scent of ozone completely noticeable in the cleaner air smelling fecund and loamy of earth growing and decomposing all at the same rate he made no effort to sit out beyond the awning. Hearing Elmo though there was a small nod. That's right exactly.

"Hey, Sparkplug?" Yes, he named him and he was stickin by that. "You know what this place teach you?" Presumably the Bayou or rural life in the swamp? Maybe the South? New Orleans as its own biome? "You gotta look after yourself. By lookin after you you gotta be honest wit' who you are. You can't be honest to you you can' be honest t' no man alive. You gotta live with you man. An' what we do wit' that? You look after your own. Kinda like the Lower East Side but I think our gators is smaller." He grinned a bit. The business there could be utterly ruthless. He wasn't in it but he was aware.

"No' so different. But it is. We got' look out for one another, then? We make that circle jes' a bit bigger. This Bayou raise me and I love her man. I do. Mutant Town need that right now." Looking from the water starting to get pocked with texture from the light rain starting that may last no more than 15 to 20 minutes at most he assured Elmo, "Takin care a' our own is important. S' why nothin can come before that business or that team. That mission will someday maybe give them this freedom or lettum know it bein' out there an go find to. Or make it. Everything else we want after that? Psssssh is a sugar ride man."

That grin returned back to his eyes lighting up his face with a snicker, "Maaaan I don' have t' tell you that though. That you know. I jes' gotta keep remindin you. Someday tho? Someday you see what I day and same day go hot damn I am a bad ass."

Elmo laughs under his breath. "I dunno about that." His badassery is in question. He's just some nebbish kid from the Lower East Side. On the other hand, the rest of his team are obviously bad asses, so maybe. Exploding the light bulbs of half of Jackson Square was a pretty good time.

"Yannow," he says, as the rain softly hisses down. "We got something, in Judaism. It's called tikkun olam. Means making the world better. This team, we're a way of doing that. My way of doing that. Taking care of our own, like ya said." He shrugs, suddenly aware that he's saying something deeply important to him and worried about it. "As a Jew and a man, that's a job I got. And this is how I'm gonna do it."

JP let the easy grin hang and moved to prop his back up against the doorway. His attention picked up at the cultural lesson He never got to do a lot of learning and even his reading level wasn't so great to brag about, but he liked learning new things all the same. "Oh yeah? We got somehin like that here. It's called 'Ne prends pas mes affaires', or 'stop takin my shit'." He had to grin at that one and really thought about it. He let the hand hang out in his. The feral cat didn't am-scray yet. He nudged Elmo's knee with his since his leg was right, right there.

"Ya know," He approved, "I think you right. Way you phrase it though's kinda weird. Guess I never though abou' thise two thing bein all separate an stuff. Guess it does ask us to stnad up at differen' times I guess… I dunno. Never thought abou' it much before. Well… not b'fore I got into all this damn trouble."

It was a bad deal JP and ya still took it ya yutz. he sighed and could hear Elmo chiding him in his head, not in criticism, but concern. "We'll see what happen witht hat. But… still… Maybe that was a bad choice but coulda made it worse. Didn'. So if they wanna get me on that? Well I work with' what I had. It goes bad this weekend though you know I'm proud 'you right?" He thought about it and there was a small nod. yeah that math added.

Elmo studies JP, his dark eyes solemn. It's not going to go bad. He's going to do everything in his power to make sure of that, and he's got Sev and Vitale to back him up. He knows better, though, than to tell JP that. Shit is scary and he knows, now, how JP deals with scary shit.

"Proud a' me? Really?" Half a smile tugs his mouth. "I dunno what to say. Thanks, Jeanushka."

JP usually mocks it to his face and finds some cosmic way to dig the hole deeper and fight until he's burger. And really all in all Severin has actually proved to be the violent one. JP? Well he fought for other reasons. He never said what they were but where Severin was more a mountain lion starting fights and tearing faces off over balconies? JP was more of a blue jay: A loud brash asshole flashing colours to keep some sons of bitches away from the fuckin nest. Being a dick about it simply entertained him in this process.

He shrugged and thought about it for the half second he gives to all decisions he makes. "Yup." Thanks. That clearned EVERYTHING up. Not helpful Jean-PIerre!

JP squeezed the hand back and finally offered, "Chere, yooooou literally lit up a fuckin alley when yous heard some people hurtin our folk? OOOOOoh man You might say you were a totally differen' person? Naaaah. You were entirely the person you've always been. That' the Elmo I know. Rainin glass down on thugs and cops. Though it does bring up a point. Vitale' gotta be aware of what gonna start a fight down here so he can adequately prepare for tha' fight." He sat quietly and shook his head. "Don't need none of ours on the tail end of no witch hunt."

Elmo's smile grows, and he looks away, embarrassed. "Yeah. Had to do somethin'. That might have been some my fault, too," he adds, about the fight starting. "But, hey, no regrets." He hadn't been about to let JP stand there alone after getting his heart dropkicked into the next county. The man had needed a hug and Elmo had provided. "Anyway, nobody gets to call my team filthy muties." Slurs were something he's never taken well and has always paid them back when he had any opportunity. Somewhat unfortunately, there's a lot about him that slurs apply to.

The rain whispers down, pattering on leaves and the shack's overhang. Elmo sits for a few minutes, taking it in. Then, he says quietly, "Hey. I understand if you don't wanna. But I'm gonna ask. Can I kiss you?"

JP shook his head slowly and agreed, No regrets. Even Mozelle who had every cotemporary right to hate him didn't because she too agreed: no regrets. JP was disinclined to make anyone regret anything either… until they wanted to call him or any one of them a parade of slurs from being a mutant to economic status, his people, family, his zip code, who he consorted with, and how he decided to brazenly conduct his social interests. He knew Elmo knew that for half the same reasons and some of the others even if the people speaking didn't know about his genetics or proclivities. Words paid was still paint spent even if those fancy folk in New York didn't know they were payin that price to the poor guy who wasn't butch enough, or tall enough, or WASP enough, or wealthy enough… Elmo got these things.

In the end everyone got punched in the heart at some point in their life.

JP held onto that hand in his and thought a lot about Elmo's words in that statement in their awesome totally of all manner of things. He held onto that hand and the small saving grace that his lil girl knew who he was and while there was never any love spared for his name from Monsieur Delacroix, that Mozelle didn't resent him that or her and didn't badmouth him to her. That… that was a lot when he had nothing else left to hold onto from that.

The smell of the swamp came alive in green and damp earth. It was still and thriving at the same time; a peace and screaming out in adventure, and entirely mysterious in her secrets. and Jean-Pierre Bonaventure was very much her son.

The question came though and an eyebrow stretched up thoughtfully and he thought about it; Elmo asking as to not scare the cat away not being certain of what was welcome or wanted or needed. Asking was some scary shit which most people shied from, fell silent, and got nowhere with. Elmo learned the Bonaventure rule of fear: It ain't about having it, it's about what you do with it. "Yeah. I'd like that."

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