1965-02-23 - Coming Out to the Bonaventures
Summary: Elmo tells Mama Bonaventure something important.
Related: None
Theme Song: Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel
elmo jp 

JP Bonaventure was not one to run away from things. Never mind that's exactly how he and Elmo met. Ignore that!

Still when one's friend, partner, and sometimes lover looks at you and tells you with all certainty, 'please tell… someone. Even if it's not me if you can't tell your mama the truth tell mine. which was a strange and interesting prospect. A different short of sharing.

Elmo's only doing this for JP. Because JP looked at him like that, said it to him like that. Because JP could ask damn near anything of him with those eyes and that voice. It's a challenge of sorts, issued by the rules-giver and challenge-maker, and as terrifying as it is? As stomach-chilling, palms-sweating, hyperventilating terrifying?

He doesn't back down from challenges. He'll grab a problem by the throat and shake it like a terrier.

So he wanders into the Bonaventure kitchen like he's just happening by, looking for Mama.

JP paused and took Elmo by both sides of the face- double light slap to the cheek inbound right? Not today, or at least not yet. Those dark brown eyes that could promise and sell someone the world look to Elmo, "Ey, No one gonna hurt you an' ain't no way you walkin' outta here without me, hmm?" Zapped or not he smooched Elmo on the forehead promising, "You got me with you, chere. Breathe." NOW the double slap to the cheek like it punctuated the end of a sentence.

That said he blew out like the breeze he swept in as all smiles as if he were just her favourite for being first and soaked in all that it afforded him in favour. He kissed his mama on both cheeks and easy French ensued. It's amazing how comfortably he dissolved into his environment. He had a place of utter belonging where he had the ability to be unrepentantly self in language and culture and oddities. He was all but happy to shove Elmo waist deep into that to borrow it.

Mama turned to Elmo and waved him in; accent thick but the premise understood. "Aaaah Elmo hmm? Don' you loiter like a bug in a spiderweb. Have yourself a sit down. I make you something."

Elmo's a touch prickly, although he's holding down the lid on his electricity with a will. JP gets a lagniappe with the kiss. "Okay," he whispers. "Sorry," he adds, about the little prick of electricity.

They go in. Mama B. tells him to sit down and he says, "Yes ma'am," with all the genuine respect and meekness in the world. One of the rare class of people who get his respect off the bat: upper middle aged moms. He obeys her, taking a seat at the well-used kitchen table.

Mama Bonaventure was everything one might expect: patient, calm, and ruling her brood with a wooden spoon. They were an unruly bunch but the Bonaventures seemed to be more of a beehive working in accord with one another than total chaos.

She wasn't tall, nor thin, after 10 children, and sported the same dark hair and eyes as her children. Like any good mom there was food almost instantly. She paused and looked to her eldest asking in a way there would be an answer, "Jean-Pierre, You wash up before you drag you behind into la maison?"

JP answered her hopping up to sit on the counter with all of the preening actually having done this brings, "oui, maman, je l'ai fait." It was a strange thing to be pleased about but anyone pulling their nose back from the proverbial page could read that as, 'ah ha! I'm not the one in trouble today. ahahaha'. ahem

Mama set about making those skinny little pancake things stuffed with goodness and whatever. Something that was mostly fruit and not seafood which… was not a breakfast food. She carried on seeming pleased the most basic of requests was followed through,. "Elmo, you lettin my boys get you into all sorts of trouble too?"

Here's where JP looked a bit guilty as hell, unable to grin a bit at that so he stuffed an apple into his face with a crunch.

It's so impossible to avoid shellfish here that Elmo has just given in, anyway. Kosher is more or less a completely foreign thing here. From that time he tried to convince the waitress at the truck stop that he didn't want bacon or sausage OR ham, to crawdad boils on the bayou. He can't deny that it's all pretty damn good, but it's impossible not to feel weird about. Crawdads and shrimp are basically bugs. Are catfish kosher? He doesn't know. They have fins and scales, but creep through the mud. …But the point is, he's glad this is just fruit and dairy.

"I get into plenty of it on my own," he says to Mrs. B., side-eyeing JP with a little smile.

Nimble fingers fished out an apple from the basket on the counter and lobbed it easy over to Elmo. JP knew better than deny it. She glanced up and asked, "You see Mozelle? I know you, Jean-Pierre enough to know you won' leave well alone. You be careful wit' that one." JP's jaw set and he took a sudden idle interest in his half eaten apple. "We talked…" He didn't say how it went. "We workin on some things."

Mama stopped cooking and gave Jean-Pierre that look of don't you DARE lie to me boy. Her hand reached out and took up her son's face on it and promised him quietly, "You see your lil girl again." She looked to Elmo with the same well of compassion and reasoned, "You've got to be so homesick righ' now. Come now, eat."

Elmo neatly catches the apple. Obeying JP's mom like he's long obeyed every Jewish mom in the Lower East Side, he starts in on the crepes. "Some," he admits; pointless to lie about it, especially when he's promised JP he'd tell her something much more serious. "I like it here, though. It's warm, it's beautiful. Food is great, even if it ain't kosher. Company's great too." He adds, looking up, "Amalie's a beautiful kid."

OH she was a proud nana at that. Way to score those brownie points. "Hhhmmm that she is. How she came from this one some days I' never knoow."

JP scoffed and peered suspiciously at his mother, "Eeeey yous said I was a saint."

Mama waved her hand, though still with a fondness in her tone, "I only say this when neighbours or the po'lice is listenin. You f'get I mighta met you once or twice and that child is the real deal." JP couldn't argue that one even.

Sliced fruit, crepes, something lumpy and mealy that they called grits were there more fluffy like thin mashed potatoes when she made them though, and juice! There you have it. She sat with her coffee leaving JP to sit on the counter poking at next crepe from there and fend for himself. "You seem troubled. You sure I don' need t'have a talk with someone?"

Elmo laughs, glancing at JP like, she's got you there, bro. When Mama Bonaventure sits down at the table too, he goes over all shy, ducking his head. As much as he's integrated into the family, he knows who's in charge, and as kind as she's been to him, he still hasn't shaken the shyness off. He's trying. "Not on my account," he says. "The guys are good to me." You know, more or less. "Um, no, just, uh. JP said…he kinda said I should try to talk to you. About. Some things." Oh, how he is trying.

Mama turned to Elmo with the wisdom that 45 years and 10 kids brings. "You been good to my boys, so you been good to me. Anythin you need t'day never has to leave this table."

JP looked to Elmo and wore his usual bullshit lopsided grin that often made people want to punch him, kiss em, or both in no discernible order. He was not saying a word though. Mazel Tov it's a Christmas miracle™.

Elmo can just feel the look JP is giving him. It heats up his face just as much as what he's trying to say, even though he's pointedly ignoring him. "Thanks," he murmurs. "Welluh" The words get stuck in his throat. He looks down at his plate. "I'm, uh." He grimaces. Static is gently fizzing to life around him, and he puts it away with an effort. It's making his hair lift up and he selfconsciously runs his hand over his hair, trying in vain to flatten it, gathering charge up and letting it pop into midair harmlessly. He goes for the easy (easier, at least) one first. "I mean, I'm pretty sure you know I'm a mutant." That got out fine!

Mama tapped the edge of her mug with one finger listening. Her expression wasn't one of reservation but one of curiosity. Surely if there was nothing to worry about would JP have told him to do it? Uhhhh yeah prolly he would. Still, in spite of JP's overconfidence in all things being somehow manageable was there any evidence she's even been anything but a protective mama bear? She assured sipping her coffee, "Well in that, yous good company." Still she didn't prod as Elmo was trying to get somewhere to a point and unlike some of her children, din't see fit to drag him screaming and crying onward to said point.

Elmo smiles down at the table a little. "Yeah." He doesn't ask her if she's a mutant too, although he's sort of dying to know. Where he comes from, you just don't ask your elders questions like that.

He's stopped trying to eat. His stomach has twisted itself up like origami. The apple is available for fiddling, so he picks it up, turning it over in his hands. Running his calloused thumb over the rosy, speckled skin.

"My folks don't know a lot about me," he says. May as well begin somewhere. "They want a lot from me that I'm just not gonna give 'em. Like a well-behaved son, for one thing." His mouth quirks, wry, not without humor. "One who stays outta trouble. One who ain't harin' off to build stuff all the time. Who gets As in school, becomes a rabbi, gets married to a nice Jewish girl and has a lot of nice Jewish kids. I'm not like any a that. They love me anyway. I mean, I know they do." His eyes drift up, meeting Mama Bonaventure's, just long enough to make sure she knows he's serious. "But they're disappointed. They're so disappointed. My one sister, she's a neuroscientist. The other, she builds rockets for NASA. I'm the underachiever, and I'm the only son. They had so much they wanted me to do. And they're proud of my sisters, but I'm the one carryin' on the family name. Which is ridiculous, but they're from the old country, that's kinda how people are there."

Don't get sidetracked, Elmo. He could say a whole lot about that topic. Taking a breath, he goes on.

"So they got this kid who don't do nothin' right. Bad at school, always gettin' into fights. Went to juvie over it. I left home as soon as I could. They never got mad at me, not like you'd think. Just so, so disappointed. Their no-goodnik son, likes buildin' weird stuff more than anything else. Always at the dump, scavenging—not where nice Jewish boys go, lemme tell ya.

"They don't know I'm a mutant. At least, I haven't told 'em. They're gonna find out, because my friend's got this art exhibition he's doing about mutants, and I'm in it. Someone I'm related to is gonna find out, and then my folks will find out. That's just gonna happen. I'm too much of a coward to tell 'em on my own. And being a mutant is bad enough. I can't even tell them that." Elmo drops his head, squeezes his eyes shut. "How am I supposed to tell 'em I'm a queer, too?"

JP sat on that counter silent as a church mouse while his pal let out all of his dirty laundry that they only ever really hit on in part. Mama say listening sipping her as she followed along. Finally JP was translating in a beautiful slurry of French with some English thrown in on occasion. Juvie was a decidedly Northern term and thaaaaaat one had JP scratching behind one ear when he translated it which got such a look from his mother. OH, the look!

Speak of the devil Pascal, trouble #3, turned to step into the kitchen, met with a murmured, "Pascal, pas juste ce moment" from the elder counter-sitting brother. Pascal glanced at the mid-point he walked in on looking at JP like fuck you I want coffee when JP leveled with him, "Vouliez-vous être responsable aujourd'hui?" Whateeeever that was was enough to get Pascal to go "I' come back. Y'all talk." Pascal can thank him that one later.(edited)

Mama extended a hand palm up to Elmo and shook her head with a faint smile, "mon petit, il n'y a rien de mal avec toi. There' nothin wrong wit' bein a lil different. Mutant? Jes ssome way of sayin different than' normal, Elmo. As chil'ren we wait all our lives hopin t'see or be somethin special. Some of us lucky enough, like you, t'do jes that." She put patient thought into this continuing with that warm and thoughtful tone that could narrate fondly for hours and hours. "Heh, when I was a petite girl my papa tells me, "Liza, pity the man who can be surprised by nothing. Nothing wonderful ever happen to em. But eeeeh with smarts like that maybe your sisters not at all aver average. Maybe they ain' tellin you somethin, hmm?"

If taken her coffee gets set down to allow both her hands to wrap around Elmo's and she offered in the gentlest way possible, "Eeeeelmo, some of my kids is fruitier than Sunday brunch at church. Don't mean I don't love em too I wish to God above that's what made them weird but no they gotta go take the boat motor apart and see if it'll slice ham faster."

Standing up at all of 4'12" (because no one let's her be 5' anything), she walked over to Elmo's chair, "Sometimes parents don' always get what they wan' or expect, or think they wan'. Truth is we want our chil'ren to be safe, t'be happy. Sometimes to see our kids have what we didn't to make you' life easier than ours. Now, that ever doesn' happen you come back here and we' set you a place, okay?"

Elmo gives Mama Bonaventure his hand. He twitches a little, suppressing both electricity and the urge to jerk away. There's a crackle somewhere in the kitchen of some metal bit discharging into some other metal bit. It doesn't discharge into Mama, so that's the important part. His big, rough hand shivers in hers.

"My folks left Germany," he tells her, "before the war." Fled Germany, is what he means. "They were rich then, but had to leave it all. They saw….a lot of things. Things they don't talk about. My pop went back to fight, even knowing what was going on there. We lost a lot of family." Gears are turning in his head, making connections. He's talking it out to guide himself through the puzzle, and offering more data to Mama. And offering it to JP, at the same time. Things he might not ever say to JP alone, he can say to his mother. "They wanted us to be safe, more'n anything, I guess. And—and I guess I'm not so good at being safe." A flick of glance at JP, that enabler of nonsafety, that's deeply fond.

Mama Bonaventure makes her offer to take him in and he bends over to rest his forehead on her clasped hands. His shoulders tremble. He's trying so hard not to cry. Out of the things he hates, 'being touched' is actually lower on the list than 'crying'. And even more hated is 'crying in front of JP'. And yet, he's as full of emotion as the bayou is full of frogs, and every emotion is just as jumpy.

Mama leaned over and wrapped an arm around his head and hugged it. She let him talk it out because sometimes that's how one learned anything, one step at a time. Like a baby squirrel fallen out of its nest she didn't care he wasn't hers; he was under her roof now and apparently under her care and protection. It was truly easy to see where JP got that trait from: my roof, my rules, my care.

JP said not a word, but hey, he got emotion. His face was wet as sheet rain the night Mozelle walked out the last time. Elmo's pride was understandable and no one wasn't allergic to their own weakness. He did hiss an intake of a breath through as the toaster discharged its ions at him. How is it that current always found him?

Mama Bonaventure swayed slightly from side to side offering thoughtfully, "That soundin' an unbelievable burden to carry. Is a wonder they got to get out an' find a place to raise a family. You a very lucky young man, Elmo." She had a question for him but paused not even minding the zapping sounds behind her. For now this was what was important: Give the kid someplace to be. Finally she asked, "Lemme ask you a ques'ion, hmm? What you thinkin makes for bein a good man?"

Elmo hiccups, shaking his head minutely. "Dunno," he mumbles. "Torah says righteousness. Doing good deeds, keeping holidays, having a family. Tikkun olam, that means fixing what's wrong with the world. JP and Sev and Vitale and me, we're tryin' to do that." He lifts his head. He's blotchy and bright-eyed with tears, and he wipes at them irritably. "So, uh, I guess that part, I'm working on," he says with a choked little laugh. "Not so much, the rest."

Maybe it's because Elmo's kind of focused on JP a lot that his accidental discharges find him? Maybe not. People are good conductors. Maybe JP's luck is just bad when wattage is looking for a place to land.

JP's luck was bad when wattage was looking for a place to land… or fists were looking for a place to land… bullets… yeeeeeah.

Mama could really just take the world in arms and embrace it, sit it down, and shove food in its face as she would any of her other children. Her hand brushed his hair down and smiled asking with amused curiosity. "Maybe two? Family be a lot of things, Elmo. Family the blood you born with, tha blood you share, an' sometime? Sometime the blood we shed t'gether. Family ain' all who borne you an' makin babies." She looked up to JP with a wry smile adding, "O' makin tu maman a grandmother at young age, but sometime it is, but sometime… sometime it just ain't. Maybe you no so far off on this, oui? As for holidays? Eeeeh I make you king cake. You be fine." There was absolutely NO explanation on how a cake would fix anything but how could cake not?

That gets another laugh from Elmo, as shaky as it is. King cake is about as far from a Jewish high holiday as New Orleans is from New York, but what the hell. Cake does cure many ills. "How can I not be fine, with king cake?"

Pulling out his handkerchief, he mops himself up with it some. He'd managed not to degrade into bawling and it's going to have to do. "Yeah, I guess…I guess that's true. The guys. My boyfriends." Plural. "They're kinda like my family too." He almost asks it, tone swinging up like a question at the end.

"JP wants me to tell my folks," he says quietly. Inevitably he looks over at the culprit. This time his eyes linger a moment. Well, here is the wreck of me, that look says. This is who and what you've hitched your wagon to. "About being a mutant, about likin' guys. I…I dunno if I can, but he wanted me to try telling you first. Kind of a practice run." He looks back at the matriarch Bonaventure, the very corner of his mouth tugging up. "How'd I do?"

Mama was dead certain a king cake was the answer to everything. "It fix everything. You feel better and there you go. Jes no choke on the baby." Baby?! why is there a baby in a- let's move on. JP's mother, who was by proxy presently everyone's mama, kissed Elmo on the forehead. "Eeeehi is not about my opinion. I think you do jes fine. Jes remember tellin someone somethin and expectin them to understan' it is ver' much two differen' things. I think you did jes fine. You define your family though. Jean-Pierre? He have three?" He looked up to JP holding up two fingers wiggling them. "Okay he say two. Better answer because I keep tha' lil girl. She give me fewer problems than he does."

Hell JP even had to snicker at that one "Eeeeh you not wrong, maman."

Elmo accepts the kiss like a benediction, eyes closing. "Thanks, Mama." He even pronounces it right, with the French stress rather than the English. After all this French Creole he's been saturated with, he's picking it up some.

She's hit it on the head: it's his expectation that his parents won't understand that's causing his tsuris. They are daisies and their children are hothouse orchids. Maybe his sisters are mutants, too, better able to hide their powers, or perhaps their powers aren't as uncontrollable and spectacular as his.

Maybe anything. Until he talks to somebody, he won't know.

He squeezes Mama's hand, gently, before he gets up. Approaching where JP sits on the counter, he leans into him, wrapping his arms around him and shoving his face into his chest.

Mama let Elmo go reminding him, "Whatever happen, you still be welcome here. You need them t'give you time, and they might need time too, but you still family. You gotta do your part but they gotta do theirs too, Elmo. Not everythin's on you, mon petite."

Elmo wandered over to JP sittin on the counter soaking this all in and remaining dutifully quiet. It's been a very long trip for all of them: Severin returning to the home he walked away from, JP returning to face the truth, Vitale admitting to being a victim of cruel design, and Elmo coming to terms with facing down his personal demons. Very long trip for all of them with a fleet of angels no less.

JP said nothing but wrapped his arms around Elmo. He listened to him and it paid off, yay! But it was also leaving Elmo's emotional battery entirely depleted and he turned to JP while he regrouped. That factoid wasn't lost on him lightly.

"Tu es plus âgé, Jean-Pierre. Ils se tournent vers vous et vous avez l'occasion d'améliorer les choses. Ne les déçois pas." Said Mama with all the care and warning she could. Heavy words of warning. You're older, Jean-Pierre. They look to you and you have the opportunity to make things better. Do not disappoint them. say she.

"Je connais. I know." JP's wolfish grin returned easy as it ever was. "Heeeey you survive an' everythin."

Elmo doesn't understand quite that much French, but he knows the sound of maternal warning when he hears it. But it's aimed at JP, so he lets JP handle it and indulges himself, arms around JP's waist, cheek against his chest.

"Guess so," he murmurs. He's not bold enough to kiss JP in front of Mama Bonaventure, although he wants to. Instead, he offers a suggestion. "Got anything else that needs fixin' around here?"

It was Mama that answered pulling a checklist down. She had a list! "As a matter of fact? House fulla kids, mutants, an lil boys leave things always in need of fixin. Here the list and if you run t' town there some things on there too I be grateful if yous get hmm?"

She got up and moved to the doorway leaving JP there letting Elmo take from him the support he needed while JP tried to pick his pocket to get at his wallet and try to snag a look at his id. He loved amusing himself like this. He called out, "Pascal, you still dancin roun? Is safe. Go on." She walked out into the joining room and Pascal made a bolt for the coffee maker to Finally get his coffee.

"Aaaaah it's cold now!"

JP snorted, "Pas, you could carry on bout anythin. You soun' like Margeaux. We goin t'town in a bit if y' need t'go." Looking back to Elmo, "Yeah we'll be busy all day. Should head up when you ready t'roll."

Elmo brightens up. Lists of things that need fixing! Oh, Mama Bonaventure knows how to help a guy out. JP's fishing for his wallet and he lets him take it, giving him one of those annoyed/amused looks that define many of their interactions. "What are you doing, ya nudnik?" There's that Yiddish, almost in his normal tones of aggravation. For a few precious minutes he'd bared his prickly, complicated soul. Now he needs to get back to cranky-genius-electrician mode, cover up all the vulnerable parts before anybody else notices.

JP didn't tell him but seemed… well Elmo knew what he wanted. Like a damn squirrel he was going to keep being annoying until he got his nut. He flipped the wallet open and didn't go after the cash. Noooo. "That you middle name? I wouldn't a guess it. Oh, no shit you' birthday close t' mine. Weeeeee are gonna hafta do a pub crawl." He flipped the wallet closed and stuffed it back into Elmo's pocket with a shove. "Pasc, by the time you get aroun' t'drinkin it it'll be cold anyways so why you whinin?"

A pub crawl is more than acceptable, given Elmo's worst fears about what JP might do on his birthday. There's a reason he let it go by without mentioning it to the team.

"No, you wouldn'ta guessed it. Why would you?" he says, bickering getting up to speed. "Quit molestin' my wallet. You could just ASK if you wanted to know." He knows damn well why JP would rather pick his pocket than ask, and he's going to give him a hard time about it.

So he unwinds from JP after a few more minutes, and they and Pascal get on the road into town. It's a trip full of squabbling, coffee, and technical know-how. Also they get into a little bit of a fistfight in front of the hardware store. But that's a story for another day.

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