1965-02-28 - Another Day, Another Dollar
Summary: Another day, another dollar, and now we hired a shop guy
Related: None
Theme Song: None
arlo vitale julie elmo jp 

There's a rumble of a little hopped up V-8, and a rattle of some heavy metal things in the bed as a little '50 Studebaker pickup truck backs up to the bays of the garage, then half-honks twice fairly quietly as that rumble fades. "Looks like the light are on, anyhow," Dizzy says to herself, and makes her way toward the doors.

JP was listening to whatever was on the radio. He didn't even pay half attention to it, but right now it it was playin Millie Small's 'My Boy Lollypop' which was one of the hits du jour that came out this month and the radio was eating it up. The lights were on and the guys were working on trying to get the garage fixed as one of the lifts was in need of some love and it needed some cleaning and re[airs to get ready to treat as a serious business. That's right, Mutants were hellbent on taking business back. The Cajun crooned, "This place won' ever look like no dream, but don' mean she won't hum like one."

Elmo's welding, actually dressed like a mechanic for a change, with a full welding mask instead of just his goggles. Kneeling by the lift, he's working on it with tight focus. He's also trying to ignore that lollipop song without much success. The damn thing is catchy.

Vitale is basically only there to make sure neither of the other two punks in the building set themselves on fire or drop a car on one another. He's pretty relieved that the smallest of their crew is at least wearing a damn mask. He sits behind a register, playing the part of 'shop boy' since Severin's not around to do his part. "We'll make it look as much like a dream as you want it to, JP. A greasy, sweat soaked dream."

Arlo rolls up in a piece of shit VW bug, light blue, with an engine rattling loudly. One day, this car will be vintage and worth some money, but right now it's a pile of scrap on wheels. He pulls up on the street, turns off the engine, gets out of the car, and closes the door with his hip. SLam. Then he steps into the shop and looks around, hands shoved in his coat pockets. "You guys open?"

Dizzy knocks, then slips in a door she finds ajar, at least enough for her… "Ay, boys! Howyadoing?" is called out in a New York Italian accent. "Brought you guys by some stuff I thought might help you get started." She peers around the place, avoiding the light from the welding in progress like it's old habit.

JP had that happy hum bopping around the central support for the right lift. That thick Cajun accent treating consonants like they were entirely options (because they were). "See, V, you talk like that I may just lay awake starin at it. Heeell." Theeeen there was that voice greeting them like the Brooklyn poster gal she was. Turning with a grin to Dizzy he greeted her with a wink and a shameless, and entirely benign flirt, "What up beautiful? Behold our fantastic mess. Soon though, she be all respectable. Once… Elmo makes that door connect again." He squint to Sparkplug working o getting that to actually work. He thought about making the door jostle but opted out of fucking with the fixing process and accidentally burning the place down right after they got it. It wouldn't be the first time, but fool him thrice! yeah no. Looking up to Arlo he shook his head, "No' yet, bu'chu can hang out if ya wan. Diz, you met Sparkplug here. I dunno if you meet Vitale. Maybe though, I dunno. This' Jules. Yeah she a lady but she can swing a wrench like DiMaggio swing a bat. Fuck you up wit' it too." THIS thought amused him to no end. Laying a hand on the lift again he motioned for Julie to fix it. "This might be loud. Don' punch me." He eyed the device and frowned finally askin, "Who tha' hell is you?" Presumably to Arlo, the only one he didn't have an introduction for.

Elmo twists the torch off and flips up the mask, looking annoyed. Can't you see he's trying to work here, people? But, "Hey, Diz," he calls. "Nice to see ya." Arlo, he looks at, eyebrows up. "Nah, not operational yet. Why, what you got?" They're not even open and here is business!

"Wipe the sour off your face, Sparkplug. We've got guests." He looks to Julie and offers his hand to shake. "Vitale." He does the same to Arlo on his way in as well. "Might be able to still fix you up if that's what you need though. Vitale, by the way," He repeats again so that the introduction is had all around.

Arlo shakes Vitale's hand. "Arlo," he says. He's got a bruise over one eye, just a faint one, but up close it can be seen. He pays it no mind. He offers a wave to everyone else. "There's something wrong with my VW," he says. "It's still running, though, so no big deal." He nods to Julie. "Jules, right?" He looks toward Elmo. "Sparkplug?" He didn't get JP's name so he just says, "Hi," to him.

Julie smirks to JP at the compliments, there, and holds out a hand to Vitale and takes it in turn "Eh, it's nothing but a Beetle, probably ain't much to it. Timing's way out," she says, generally. "Bet the distributor clamp's shaken loose or something." Apparently she can tell that by the sound or something, but if she's right, it'd be simple enough to do. Eyes whatever part of the lift JP was indicating to her. "Guess I'll take a look at that in a bit, what is it, seized on the rack or something?"

If anyone's ever seen an adult try to spoon feed a baby and make faces without realizing it they may have flashbacks as JP made frighteningly similar faces trying to move, as the hoist in this case, to lift UP. He may give himself an aneurism this way some day but, as it had a will of it's own, slowly forced its way up up up. God it needed to be cleaned. He grunted, "Jes dirty. Feels…. there we go. Feels functional." He rubbed the side of his head withthe heel of his hand, and wandered over to tag that back to VItale quick so he could keep on working on this thing. "Man I ain't had a headache like tha' since m' lil brother and I got piss drunk and I ate a whole loaf a' bread by myself. Damn." At least the headache was dyin down. To Elmo a hand went up and then… presented the fixed hoist withthe unspoken banter of 'There you curmudgeon, voila, happy now?' As there was fault…with something…somewhere in teh world JP didn't hold his breath for high praise on that one. Back to Arlo and Julie the Cajun sniffed and nodded in a slow agreement with Julie, "We still settin up but if we cna get a light out der can prolly at least do a diagnostic." He paused and looked to Julie. Unless she picked that out from here, but hell she wasn't on no clock.

Elmo glares at Vitale. "I'm gonna go over there," he informs him, "and get your shirt dirty." When Arlo calls him Sparkplug, he looks over in surprise, then shakes his head. "Nah—I mean, yeah, the guys call me Sparkplug, but my name's Elmo." He does not offer his hand, unlike Vitale. He's just incredibly rude, apparently? He's about to tell Dizzy don't listen to JP trying to make her work when JP fixes the thing himself. He eyes the repaired lift, then gives JP a ridiculously irritated look. "I was /working/ on that!" How dare you, JP.

Arlo's eye immediately heals when he shakes Vitale's hand, it briefly settles on Vitale's face before disappearing entirely. That's a neat parlor trick. He release the hand when JP wanders over. "Gimme your hand, next time take it easier, I was sure you were gonna give yourself a hernia with all of that effort and I'm not taking that from you. Absolutely not, JP." He reaches for JP's hand rather demandingly. "Come here, pain in the ass. I'll take it away from you."

"Oh, god, anything but that. Don't mess up my shirt that I can buy another of." Vitale teases at Elmo, sticking his tongue out. Who knew Elmo had inherited so many big annoying brothers.

Arlo touches the skin around his eye. It's no longer puffy and sore, and he grins at Vitale. "Thanks, man. Got in a fight with some guys badmouthing muties." Elmo's lack of handshaking doesn't seem to bug him so much. It's not the hill he wants to die on. "It's all right," he tells him, "some people call me Overload." His hands go back in his coat pockets, and he carries himself with a sort of alert relaxation. Julie and JP each get a slow nod. Here is a youth who knows little enough about cars he could keep these guys in business. "I've got a flashlight," he says, "in the trunk. Or, you know, whenever you've got time."

Julie ahs, and introduces herself. "Dizzy. But, yeah, I guess let's take a look," and she adds, "Maybe see if you guys can use any of the stuff I brought. Got some stuff recovered from scrap or whatever, but it's all pretty good. Good sized bench vise, a shop press, couple other things." She does pause to give the healer-guy a little smile. "Guy's got the right name, seems like."

JP was a grubby mess. Shop courtesy not to do that. Still he was already over there to tag out with Vitaleto get that migraine stole. While ELmo threatened Vitale in the most benign of manners it never even occurred to JP who, with his other grubby hand, slapped Vitale on the back, "Thanks man." Looking up to Elmo working on welding the other pieces back togehter he asked offhandedly, "Hey they got a Yiddish word, means can bitch about anythin?" He held up both hands like surrender, I surrender…but I'm walkin away right. and that shit-eating grin seemed to say as much. It would take him a while to get that clean but at least he had a wire brush to help flake much of the debris off. What a mess. "Scrap for us, Diz? Aaaaah, you a godsend!"

Elmo makes a wordless noise of frustration at JP. He yanks off the welding mask, his hair mussed up and everywhere, and gets up, muttering in Yiddish. Pulling off his gloves, he says to Arlo, "Oh yeah? Good. Overload, huh? What can you do?" Since they're all throwing around their mutations in front of each other. Hey, one of the reasons he and JP decided on Mutant Town was so they wouldn't have to hide. Dizzy's offer makes him light up (metaphorically). "Diz, you're a treasure!"

"No problem, man." He says to Arlo at the lack of a black eye. "That's mine. Call me Medic." He takes JP's migraine off of him with less than a wince. It fades too quickly to even be considered pain. Like a pinch at the center of his forehead before it fades. "You know I always got you, JP."

He then laughs at Elmo's complaining in Yiddish under his breath. He moves over to their littlest member to catch him in a headlock and give him a noisy kiss on the cheek. "Aww, Elmo, you're so cute when you're frustrated." Yes, indeed, Elmo had inherited all the annoying teammates. When Dizzy lists off what she'd brought for them, he releases them. "Wow, Dizzy! You're really helping us out! We appreciate you a lot!"

Arlo regards Elmo thoughtfully, tilting his head. It's Mutant Town, somewhere he doesn't have to hide, damn it, and so he doesn't hesitate answering the question. "I manipulate senses," he says. "Usually my own, but I can make people experience what I experience or piggyback off them to read their senses." He half-smiles and adds, "I have voluntary synesthesia, which I can make someone else experience. If you ever wanted to know what sound looks like." To Dizzy, he says, "That's really cool of you."

Julie smirks, "Hey, you're helping the neighborhood, too, ain't like I'm around so much lately. And, well, helps to have family in the business." She hasn't particularly mentioned what she might do, herself, if anything, tending toward discretion generally, perhaps. Apparently it doesn't involve super-strength since she says, "Anyway, I ain't unloading this stuff alone," she winks. "How bout you take a look at that and, I guess the rest of us see if we can make that Beetle a little happier."

JP snickerd and shook his head muttering, "Oooohsomeone' ass gettin grounded." In the absolute mos literal sense. There was an egg timer that dinged and with a warning finger to the hoist to stay put (which it would) he noted to Vitale and Elmo, "be back. Doin a thing wit'a quiche. My quiche need me man. Like eeeh half hour we ready." He looked to Arlo and the big fucking words thrown around and blinked a couple times. "Jules you need t'borrow anthin yous can fin' feel free." She? She he trusted implicitly. She fixed Jeanne d'Arc. She got all teh gold stars of trust in his book.

"Oh no," Elmo says as Vitale approaches him. "Oh no, no no no no—" As Vitale molests him, he pokes V sharply in the ribs, letting him have a little love-shock, no more than he'd get from touching a doorknob on a dry day. "Fershunkter!" He breaks away, more mussed and way more irritated. He says to Arlo, "You see what I put up with?", then listens to him. "What's that mean? Synth-somethin?"

Vitale laughs hard at Elmo's love shock to him from having slobbered all over his face. He releases him and covers his side. "Whoa, you can see sound? That's really cool! What does it look like? Do different sounds look different? Can you smell sound too?" Vitale is full of questions now, smile not fading at Elmo's lingering irritation.

Arlo coughs a laugh when Elmo calls Vitale a Fershunkter. He nods to him, amusement in his eyes, and he says, "I see, man. It's rough." He sweeps his hand through his hair, then says, "Your brain gets its wires crossed and your senses get all mixed up. Most people who have it can't turn it off, but I can." To Vitale, he says with a crooked smile, "Sure, diffrent sounds look different, and I can smell sound if I want to. I'm better at colors, though. Red smells like cinnamon."

Julie laughs a bit at the clowning around, muttering something in Italian bemusedly, and looks over to Arlo. "Sounds pretty wild, what you can do, there. Anyway, come on, you goofballs, let's see what we can do with this stuff."

Elmo jerks his head towards the doors. "C'mon V, help me with this junk. Arlo, you wanna help? Then we'll look at your bug, yeah?" He tosses his gloves on a nearby workbench and heads out to Julie's truck.

"Yeah, absolutely. I can help you with it." Vitale agrees heading out towards the truck to start unloading it with Elmo. "Synthesia means any of your senses can get crossed. You said you could control it, so can you turn your senses off or redirect them if say you smelled something you didn't want to or the taste of something was terrible? Like, could you make medicine taste better?" Vitale asks as they moved outside to start moving things inside. He's always interested in mutations.

"Sure thing," Arlo says. He helps unload, following Vitale and Elmo's lead on where to put stuff. "I can switch it on and off, that's all," Arlo says. "Man, if I could manipulate the input, that would be a trip." He works while he chats, and he may be on the thin side but he's no weakling. "So what about you guys? I get that you heal," he says with a nod to Vitale.

Elmo investigates the things Julie's brought, poking that impressive nose of his everywhere among the machinery and scraps. He makes his decisions and the three of them get his choices hauled inside. That he's still shy about just outright talking about his mutation is clear when he glances away from Arlo to say, "I, uh, I got electricity. And I can fix stuff pretty good." He's hunching up some, defensively. "Put that there, thanks, guys."

"You might still be able to. You're young. One day you might be able to do just that, practice makes perfect. I used to struggle with healing things as quickly as I do now. All I do is heal." Vitale explains. "Transfer the pain from one person onto myself. And Elmo here is amazing…" He looks at Elmo, with his shoulders hunched up and thinks better of singing his praises as they drag everything inside.

Arlo tells Elmo, "That's cool. I mean, like, hyour brain's all electrical impulses anyway." He nods then to Vitale. "Yeah, I don't think too much about it, but they might grow, expand, whatever." He puts things where Elmo tells him to. Vitale gets a grin, and he glances at Elmo again. "Looks like you got a fan, though."

Elmo tips a hand over, "Eeeh," but grins a little. "I ain't so amazing, don't listen to him." He gets his toolbox. "That's really somethin' that you can do, Arlo. I can't hardly handle my regular senses, shudder to think of 'em all mixed up."

"Shut up, Elmo. You're very cool. You're just downplaying it because you don't know how neat you are." Vitale insists, pushing the smaller man against the shoulder. "Don't listen to him, either. You hang around here long enough, you'll see, he's astounding."

Arlo grins, all white, pearly teeth. "Yeah? I might do that. See if this guy's all you say he is." He winks at Elmo, like he's sharing a joke with him. "And besides, I could pay you for healing sometimes if you were into that. I get in fights." No shame there, either. It's just one of those things, man. Eat, sleep, punch someone in the face.

Elmo gets red from Vitale's compliment and Arlo's wink. He opens the toolbox to pull out calipers and grease pencil, pretending to be deeply interested in it so he doesn't have to look at anyone. "Kai's cool," he grumbles at V. "JP's cool. I am /objectively/ uncool."

"You are cool. You're very cool. All I do is heal people, you can shock them and you can absorb the electricity too! That's pretty damn neat, Elmo. Hush." Vitale praises, clapping a hand on Elmo's back and squeezing his shoulder gently. "You are fantastic. He is. We all know that Severin's my favorite but Elmo's a close second." The praise sounds damn geunine. He thinks Elmo's the bees knees.

Arlo laughs quietly. Sorry, Elmo. The predictment is just too fun to watch. "Okay, he's cool, I'm sold. So, you take pay for healing?" He rubs the back of his neck as he says, "I don't go looking for scraps, but when they find me…" He shrugs. "I'm not going to just let some schmuck badmouth us, yeah? Sometimes the schmuck wins."

Elmo waves V off him, flaily. "With the /touching/!" Crabby electric mutant is crabby. And electric, as he'd reminded Vitale earlier. He looks at Arlo, dark eyes somber, but then his mouth twists up in half a smirk. "Yeah, sometimes they do. It's a schmuck's world, ain't it? But that don't stop us." Glancing at V, he waits to see what he's got to say to that.

"No. I don't take money for healing. I'll heal you, I'm not denying you that. I just don't want your money for it. We help our own." He says catching one of Elmo's flailing hands, squeezing the fingers before he finally lets the sparky mutant go. "I can heal anything, but I won't repeatedly heal the clap or anythin' like that. I'll heal just about everything else. If you're real messed up, I can only take so much on at a time. Black eyes, bruises, that's all stuff I can take from you. Can take some bullets as well. Broken bones are harder to heal but I'll take it all. You can come here for it or…" He digs in his back pocket and pulls out a card with his number on it. "Call here, I'll come to you as well."

Arlo rakes a hand through his hair and laughs a little as he says, "Nah, you won't have to worry about the clap, and if I'm too messed up, don't do anything that's going to hurt you, you know?" He steps forward to take the card. "Thanks, man. I don't get it too bad, but it's nice to know I got a lifeline. Turns out people stop punching you so hard if they feel it like they're the ones getting punched." The card is pocketed, and he tells Elmo, "It sure is, and if you ever stop fighting, they beat you for good."

Elmo shakes his head. "Can you believe how nice this guy is?" he says to Arlo. He takes his calipers to the bench, which is slightly less a workbench and slightly more a slab of wood on cinderblocks. "I tell him he's gotta charge, but he don't listen to me." He snorts, amused. "You can make 'em feel them punching themselves? Now that's useful."

"I don't charge for other mutants, probably wouldn't even charge if you had a friend or family who'd been hurt either. Only time I'm charging is if you brought some mutant hater here that you roughed up enough you feel guilty. Then I'll charge. But you hurt? You come to me, I'll take all of it. No mutant ever has to suffer on my watch." Vitale promises. "Way more useful than mine. You know, every time I punch someone, I take a little bit of the pain back myself, unless I'm wearin' gloves."

"It's just me," Arlo says, "but that's nice of you." He laughs then and shakes his head. "I won't bring any mutant haters around here to get healed." Apparently he doesn't feel a whole lot of guilt in regards to those guys." He clicks his tongue, shaking his head. "You need your heavy hitters in front, man. Or a good pair of gloves. Anyway, if I can do you any favors, I will." He ducks his head and sweeps a lock of hair behind one ear as he says toward Elmo, "Just learning to fight with what I got."

Elmo shrugs, a little more relaxed, at Arlo. "S'what we all gotta do." He's fussing around the workbench, which is strewn with at least a dozen half-built things and parts. "Vitko loves punchin' a guy, too," he adds, teasing Vitale. "He's real good at it, don't let that fancy exterior fool ya. You live here in the M.T., Arlo?"

"I'm not as great as punching them as I am at throwing things at them." Or shooting at them, but that's a lot of scary information to give the newcomer. That's part of the reason he hadn't mentioned his last name upon introduction. 'De Angelis' is something to be afraid of. "Well, we appreciate it. I'll look after ya. What do you do for a livin'? We could always use help here if you think you could work in the garage. We'd have to ask JP about that first though."

"Yeah, I got a little place above that pawn shop kitty-corner from the community center," Arlo says. "So, you know, I'm around." Then to Vitale, he says, "I don't know anything about machines, but I can clean up, and I wouldn't mind gainful employment of the legal kind. Something I can put on paper." He glances at his watch, then says, "Speaking of which, I gotta go meet a guy, but I'll stop in about my car after, okay?"

"Sure." Elmo nods at Arlo, glancing up from whatever he's measuring so assidiously. "I'm workin' on that community center. You seen their wiring? Oy, it's a wreck. Anyway, I'll probably see ya around there." His eyebrows go up when V offers Arlo a job. "We could use someone cleanin' around the shop," he admits. "Vitko's the books guy, so, I guess he knows if we can pay ya or not."

"We can always pay someone new." With his daddy's money that he doesn't have any problem giving back to other mutants. "So I heal you, you work for us and then I even pay you. /If/ JP says it's alright. He's the bossman here." Vitale assures him. "We'll have a talk with him about it."

Arlo nods quickly, and he says, "Sure, sure. I'll check in. If you need to leave a message for me, just tell the guy at the pawn shop and he'll take it down. But I'll check in, I promise." He smiles a little at them both, then gestures toward the door before making his way there. "Thanks, you guys." He leaves the VW here for the moment. His meetup isn't all that far away.

Elmo finishes whatever he was about at the workbench. Now he grabs a rag and starts cleaning the shop press Dizzy kindly donated. "Vitko, what was with gettin' so handsy with me?" he asks, not looking up. "Didn't think you felt like that about me." He's joking, but it falls kinda flat.

"Well, first of all, I could if I wasn't wrapped up hopeleslly in Severin. You're plenty beautiful, Elmo. There's no lack in you there. He was just.. winkin' at you and stuff. I didn't want him coming onto you when we don't even know him." Says the man who offered him a job. "I feel protective of you. You're my friend. You're one of us boys."

Elmo does look up now, with a wry half-grin. "Now you're flattering me. Quit it, I'm gonna get embarrassed." Like he's not always embarrassed. "He wasn't coming on to me. Was he?" Admittedly, he's not always the most observant about such things.

"Well, he winked at you and was giving you all kinds of eyes. I don't know. I thought about kissin' you in front of him just to let him know you were off limits but I didn't want you to shock me senseless. I need my sense." He teases and shakes his head. "Of course he was. I just told you, you're gorgeous, Elmo."

"You were thinkin about what?" Elmo almost laughs, giving V quite the quizzical look. "I woulda felt real weird about that, so, good idea not doin' it." He drapes the rag over the top of the press and comes over. He's concerned. "V, you really are worried. Listen, you don't gotta protect me like that. You know I can take care of myself."

"I think that Severin would have allowed it, to save you from someone coming in here and coming onto you." Vitale teases and then Elmo moves towards him and Vitale stiffens a little. "Only I do. You may not need me to protect you none, I believe you, completely, but you, JP and Severin, you're the only real family I'd ever had. I have to protect you from anything that could possibly hurt you."

Elmo stops when Vitale seems to get unhappy with his proximity. He has a funny expression on, part bewildered and part fond. "If I didn't already have guys I'm seein', that mighta put a real cramp in my dating life," he says, dryly. "V, look, I know I'm small, but c'mon. You know what I can do. Some kid off the street isn't gonna hurt me."

Vitale's stiff demeanor is one of someone who's been hit often enough in life to panic when a conversation gets deep and someone moves closer to him, with a purpose. "I do know what you can do." He says quieter, worrying his lower lip. "I do know that you can protect yourself, Elmo. I do. This has nothing to do with me thinkin' you're not capable of holding your own. I just.. I don't know… I'm supposed to protect you. It comes with the job. I'm supposed to protect you and I'm supposed to never leave you hurting. That's what I'm here for, entirely, that's the whole job. I take care of you. I take care of JP, I take care of Severin. That's my job."

Elmo holds his hands out, showing that he's not going to hurt Vitale. He doesn't come closer. He knows this kind of resistant, panicky body language—he does it himself, all day every day. "You do a great job. Ain't nobody sayin' you don't."

Vitale relaxes a little when Elmo puts his hands up. "I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm sorry, I'm sorry Elmo." He says, sitting down heavily on the floor. He hadn't meant to panic in front of the electric mutant. "I know. I know. I just.. I.. It's my one job. That's what I'm supposed to do. That's the job." He does not at all sound okay as he repeats himself again. Healing had been the job before, once upon a time and Vitale hadn't done as well as he was meant to and something had happened to him, it seems, something was hidden here.

Elmo comes to sit down on the floor, too, next to Vitale. "Tateleh, hey, take it easy," he murmurs, trying to soothe him. He reaches for his hand. "What's wrong, huh?"

Vitale allows his hand to be taken, bringing it up for Elmo anyway. "First of all, you're only like six inches tall, Elmo, so I have to protect you." He teases, trying to diffuse the tension, as if that was entirely the problem here. He takes a deep breath. "I.. I.. Are you sure you want to hear any of it? It's a lot." Like he's still trying to protect Elmo here.

Elmo wraps Vitale's hand up in his own. His hand is oversized for him, callused, scarred by wires and burns. He snorts. "Please, I'm at least eight inches tall. What is it, V? You're worryin' me."

Vitale draws a thumb over Elmo's hand, bumping against the scars he hadn't been able to stop. "Eight inches, you're right. Forgive me." He teases and then looks up at Elmo from his hung head. "My powers manifested when I was fourteen. I've been healing bullets since then. When I used to scream and cry that I didn't want to, my dad would get other men to hold me down, force me to take it. And sometimes he'd torture someone, have me come in and take all of it, then do it all over again. There was no saying 'no' when it comes to my father. This was my job. This is why I didn't get kicked to the street for being a mutant. This was who I was. I was a thing. An object. And if I refuse anything with my father, he finds a way to make a bruise stay awhile. Usually just comes with someone hitting me /a lot/. So, I've just learned to do the job without hesitation, without question."

Elmo closes his eyes briefly, pained by the story. Opening them again, he regards Vitale with sorrow and worry. "That ain't right. You don't deserve that, no kid deserves that. You're not no thing, you know that right?" He squeezes V's hand, watching him closely. "Your father's wrong to do that to you."

"I don't know.. I don't know, El. I want to leave, I want to leave so damn bad." He mentions to Elmo. "I've talked to Severin about it, getting the building right beside the garage here. You know I got money, but I'm afraid that leaving is another bag of shit we can't afford. Leaving could just mean trouble for you or JP or god, forbid, Severin and I can't.. I can't let anything happen to you guys because of me."

Elmo grimaces. "That worries me too," he admits. "I don't wanna fight your family. We'd lose. Pretty sure about that." That he has family on the East side, he doesn't bring up. Vitale can probably extrapolate it, given his accent. "And they ain't who we need to be fightin', and a bunch of stuff like that. But we can't let 'em treat you like that, neither."

"It's my problem, Elmo, buddy, you don't have to worry about it. I'll figure it out. No one is going to fight my family but me and they don't know who I'm working with, not my father, not any of my brothers, not my sister. No one has a damn idea who you are, what any of you mean to me. It will stay that way. The only person who could get hurt here is me. I promise you that." Vitale assures him, pulling Elmo's hand up to squeeze it tight. "I told you, it's my job to protect you."

"It's our job to protect you, too," Elmo says, looking seriously at V. "You're one of us. You're mishepoche—that's family. It goes both ways, right?" Can Vitale actually keep his family away from the team? He isn't so sure. But in a rare attempt not to borrow trouble, he doesn't bring it up. "We're gonna help where we can."

"As long as they haven't any idea why I want to leave, you're safe Elmo. I can swing it like I'm just sick of being used, El and that's completely reasonable, I think. Completely believable. And I can move to the other side of town from here, hire some chick to play my wife, pretend I just meant to make a life for myself alone. And you'd be safe."

Elmo is quiet for a bit, thinking it over. It's a lot to consider at once. "Yeah, I mean, your father can't expect to keep you like that forever, can he? Maybe he can terrorize you when you're fourteen, but now? He must know you'll get sick of it sooner rather than later." He grips Vitale's hand in turn. "I know you're lookin' out for us," he says quietly. "And we gotta look out for you, too. That's why we're a team."

"My father has a lot of men, Elmo. He can terrorize me at any age. Just because I got bigger doesn't mean he can't still make me do as he wishes. Just requires a few more men than usual is all." He says sadly. "You cannot look out for me and protect yourselves at the same time, that's the weakness in it. I just would prefer to be somewhere else where he has to ask /me/ to come and work for him."

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