1965-04-02 - Tools of the Trade
Summary: JP gifts Elmo tools. The two mechanics discuss ethical lawbreaking and JP's way too spicy gumbo.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
jp elmo 

Day 16 - The Garage

JP had been busy.
He'd also been healed by VItale recently which explains how he go so much done but the garage looked… clean when Elmo got in. It wasn't perfect but the clutter had a home. Shelves got installed with bins for things.

In the middle of one wall stood a large rolling tool chest with plastic magnetic letters kids generally stick to the fridge to learn to spell with that read [S P R K P L G] stuck to the large blue rolling beast. The vowels were unable to be found apparently, or JP's spelling was terrible. Either way it was full. The tools were clearly used but taken care of.

A note in terrible penmanship scribbled: courir course. retour en 30(edited)

not entirely helpful.

Elmo gets in, stifling a yawn. He'd recharged his power, but his mutation can't solve the amount of fighting, running, and shaking in the aftermath he'd done. Also the amount of servicing a couple boyfriends he's done. He's brought a dozen bagels and tubs of cream cheese and lox, to feed JP and whoever else is hanging around. When he sees the tool chest, he sets down the bag and goes to investigate it.

His codename's been turned into a vanity license plate, is the first thing he notices. It makes him smile. Then he finds JP's note, which he can't read. "Courir?" he mutters, trying to puzzle it out, then shrugs. '30' is clear enough. Unless JP means 30 of something other than minutes, which, frankly, is always a possibility. Could be lobsters. Could be cars. Whatever, that's life with JP: always entertaining, if not outright harrowing. What this note mostly communicates is that Elmo needs a French-English dictionary.

This tool chest, though. He runs a hand along it, then starts pulling it open. "Oh, wow," he says, eyebrows going up, as row after row of well-cared-for tools come gleaming into the light. Picking one up, he turns it over, rubbing his thumb along the handle. He's enchanted.

JP was out for a while. Apparently about 18 minutes. Jeanne d'Arc rumbled as she pulled up behind the garage and the back door just opened like JP's personal valet. He was whistling something of a jaunty tune not from any radio round here. "Ah! Manufique. Bonjour bonjour mon chere. Bon, oui?" He was pleased with himself. He wasn't speaking English, but he was very pleased. There was a gesture for Elmo to keep going and he, himself, hooked his thumbs in his back pockets.

Elmo glances up at JP with a smile. "Tres bon." That much, he's picked up from the Big Easy. "JP, they're gorgeous." Pulling out the trays of the metal tool chest, getting into everything. "Someone loved 'em," he says, admiring the tools' condition. "You got these for …well, for me?" His name is on it, after all.

"Herschel P. Walters. Retired Army. Passed bout 11 years ago. His wife wouln' let me steal em. So… Had to, um… come by em all legit like. Long story. She' nice ol lady." The toe of his heavy boot poked at the garage floor. "Oui. Is for you. You carry e'rythin around. Is a lot for you t'…wha's that, schlep it all over town?" He was picking it up. Sloooowly. Amazing what he learns when you yell it at him.

"Legit? From an old lady, no less? Wish I coulda been there," Elmo says, greatly amused. The thought of an old lady pulling JP's ear is hilarious. He sets the tool he's admiring down, goes over to JP, and wraps him up in a tight hug. "Jeanushka. Thanks." He presses his face against JP's chest. He's genuinely touched. Tools are the way to this man's heart.

JP slowly unhooked his thumbs from his back pockets and just took the minute to return the hug and kissed the top of Elmo's head since it's what he had to work with, not that he was patronizing him for being shorter than he was. It happened. Usually an everyday occurrence but one never knows. "Yeah well… You been dealin with a lot' my shit for a time. An' others. I ain' ingrateful, plus we need em so… I wanted you t'have it. So… merci."

Elmo stays like that for a minute, wound around JP. "I dunno what to say." He draws back, looking up at JP. "I mean… they're beautiful. I love 'em. Thank you." Maybe he's a little overwhelmed. "Um. I brought you food?" He grins lopsidedly. Letting go of JP, he goes back to the tool chest, investigating every last drawer and slideout. Women like jewelry or flowers when their men piss them off. Elmo likes tools. It's a thing.

JP doesn't seem to mind. He's like an affectionate rattlesnake like that. "Eh start with," He did the voice that was not at all Elmo's but he had the sigh down when he pinched the bridge of his nose, "Jeanushka, HOW you manage to take something with absolutely no trouble in it and somehow FIND a way to get in trouble is beyond me you meshuganah!" It wasn't terrible! The slideouts glided. The previous owner took meticulous care of his tools instead of throwing them in there and had tiny labels and everything. "He uh, he did cabinets and things. Did factory work after th' war turns out. I tol he' old lady you take good care of em and some mushy honest shit that ain' important… we I think owe her a meringue or somethin. I dunno."

Elmo's own cadence coming out of JP makes him bark a laugh and cover his eyes. "Hey! I don't really sound like that." Yes he does. Now he's plucking each tool up as if it was a flower, holding it to the light, turning it like a jewel. He tests the edge of a hand planer against his thumb. Yep, it's sharp. His sigh this time is happy. Then he glances back at JP, one of those sidelong, fond glances of his. "Mushy honest stuff huh? Well, this I gotta hear. C'mon, out with it."

JP arched an eyebrow and shrugged. "Th e ol'…. Abigail…" She had a name and he respected her to use it. "Ms. Abigail ask me why I do this. I said well someone need em. She wanted t'know why I don' buy and I was like lady lookit me. She… had some words but ask about you and I tol her," He shrugged and sat up on the counter trying to figure out if 'schmear' was a real word or someone's name as he looked at the cream cheese. "Anyway I said there a guy trying t'get back on his feet so he can go take care of some folk includin a guy with a brain tumor and a two-bit criminal cause, ya know , ya do, and you never buy anythin for y'self you just fix shit and give it away half the time cause Mutants can' pay much and told me some… stuff and said I can take the tools IF… we don' break no laws with em. Sooo we strip cars we ain' allowed to use those. Oui? oui."

Elmo sets down what he was looking at. He's frowning, as JP lists off things about him. "That ain't true, I…" Trying to think about it, he hesitates. "I paid a guy ten bucks for Daisy at the scrapyard. 'Course, she needed about everything done. …I got my suit?" Okay, it turns out, he really doesn't buy anything for himself. He does give almost everything he fixes away. His labor, too. "Jeez, you're right." Every appliance in the garage, except for those JP liberated from their former lives, he'd rescued from a dumpster or a scrapyard or the dump. Same for everything at his personal workshop. When he gets new stuff, it's getting installed somewhere. There's little he can't fix with a soldering iron and some scrap wire—and little he hasn't.

"Okay," he says, brow furrowed. "I guess you're right." Who knew? JP knew, it seems. JP noticed that. JP gets rewarded with a brilliant flash of a smile. "Hey. How about that. No strippin' cars with anything of Heshie's. Got it." Now the tool chest has a name. "Ms. Abigail sounds like a hell of a lady." He uses JP's southern style of address, since now it has precedent.

"Ms. Abigail," the Southern boy conceded, "Seem t'be jes that so… I think she can lay a trick wit' the best of em so let's not piss her off." Because he was also acutely aware that woman of a particular calibre, also had access to knowledge about rootwork and that was something his superstitious ass was not even about to tangle with.

Very formally JP slurred something in that beautiful mess of almost-French, more Cajun, and entirely JP followed up with formality in English, "Hershel, we promise no' t'get you wrapped up in no… other business that may transpire or so help he who do…or Dizzy." Cause Dizzy's a gal and he respected her wrenchwork.

Looking back to Elmo he gave him another hug. There was no preamble or reason. Likely money could go on the sentiment of admiration. BETTER money would go on JP picking his pockets for the entertainment of it.

Elmo looks very thoughtful, at news that Ms. Abigail can (probably) lay a trick—something else he learned in New Orleans. Really, that trip was more educational than any museum he'd ever been to in his life. He starts selecting tools from Heshie that he wants for today, which is when JP hugs him. Spontaneous hugs from JP are so rare that he both hugs him back enthusiastically and swats any questing hands away from his pockets. "What? You already know my middle name. AND my birthday." There cannot possibly be any other mysteries about Elmo Itzhak Rosencrantz that can be solved by picking his pocket.

JP seemed pleased with himself, as a fair warning to all. "Oui. That I do." He agreed. He blinked at Elmo arching one eyebrow amused. A slow grin formed with that easy, bullshit bayou grin. Be worried.

His hands let go and clapped, rubbing together. With a sudden boost of inspiration he dated upstairs with some glee. Oh shit, check your pockets, Elmo.

Elmo really does sigh, and JP had a dead-on impersonation of him there, complete with rubbing the bridge of his impressive nose. He dips into his pockets, fingertips recognizing all of his usual junk, searching for what his ridiculous partner in crime left behind.

There was a key.

Why did the great opener of all things have a key on him? He had to plan this. Why? To what extent?! Did he even do it? Was this just to drive Elmo up a wall?! Eeeeentirely possible. These things were not beyond him. Overhead boys on floor wee heard.

Elmo pulls the key out and studies it, eyebrows quirked. Okay, out of all the things JP could have dropped in his pocket? He glances up at the ceiling, then pats Heshie. "Be right back, Heshele." And goes upstairs to harass JP. "So what's it for?"

JP's space above was empty save for the chairs he stole from Clint, the crate that was used as an end table, a sprinkling of saw dust. He was digging through the kitchen cabinets though and, oh shoot, most of the framing in was done. He's been productive building walls instead on trolling strangers. It was ready to take electrical which, naturally, he left for Elmo to do. "Hang on….I put out somewhere…"

"You've been busy," Elmo says, taking in all the new work. "Haven't been sleeping, I guess. Place looks really good." It does! They're finally hitting the point where all the long hours they're putting in are starting to visually pay off. He brightens up eagerly when he sees the walls are ready. "Great, I can start fishing!" Which is electrician for putting wire through the walls.

JP was still digging through the couple boxes and shrugged, "Eh. On an off. Ca va, ca va." He waved it off. When he was tired he crashed. When he was startle he worked on what was in front of him. Larger. Repeat. "Yeah. I cut tha holes. I saved the scrap if you need t'move em. Hard with all the brick, but we can route through Tue headers."

Elmo doesn't scold JP for not sleeping. He's not always too big on sleep, himself. Work is more fun. Also, drilling through brick walls is more fun. However, he does try to see what JP is rummaging through. "C'mon, Jean-Pi, you're driving me crazy here. What is it?" This key is burning a hole in his pocket.

Jean pierre snickers murmuring, "Merci, Margeaux." Because that five year old branded him, but he was grinning at the familial affection reminded and shared. "Well, that look like one then metal things people use when they ain't me a while." Smart ass.
Cabinets opened and closed one after the other. "That one… Go to somethin… I think you goin t'like, cherie. How you feel about keepin cops out of our business?"

He ran his hand along the wall and motives for Elmo to follow. JP didn't need a key, closed his eyes and there was a scraping sound then…the sedition of the wall in the kitchen rolled away. The kitchen…was moved over. That's what he's been working on?! Lockable false wall.

Inside had shelves, and also an open floor space, and on the opposite side what looked like a wall safe inside of it.

JP though hung back looking rather cagey like he always does when there's cops also buying a dog from the corner vendor. Yeeeeeah.

"You…sure u you wan' get into business with me Elmo? Was thinking talkin t' Ms. Abigail I dunno I really give people much a choice some times. I don' …" Tye bayou badass choose his words carefully and was finally out with it. A sincerity driving his words. "I don' wasn't you t'go back again. You got a good thing going on an I don' wasn't to mess that up for you." The you're of his bout footed a piece of quarter round base molding over. He was buying Elmo an out even though it was Elmo's idea. This was all technically Elmo's idea, and a good one at that. A great one of one didn't mind also being a career criminal. Looking up her confided, "I want you to be able to get out of this someday."

Elmo's eyes get real wide as JP reveals the hidden room. "Jeanushka," he says, in the same way he'd usually say 'gevalt'—startled, with delight or horror. Delight, in this case. "You're a god blessed genius."

Going in, he investigates everything, checking out all the shelves, the wall safe. It's while he's got a hand on the safe's metal face that JP starts talking. He stops. That tone of sincerity from JP? it's rare. It means he should pay attention. So he does. His eyebrows lift, thoughtful, almost sorrowful.

He lets out a breath. Runs a hand through his hair. Goes back to JP, out of the room. "C'mere. I gotta tell you a story."

JP finished futzing with the bit of excess trim not yet discarded. Really if Ralph Lauren had a cologne names 'temptation and bad life choices' he might very well be the face of their marketing campaign and the gruff gearhead seemed at least somewhat self-aware. Still, in all fairness to Elmo after all that happened he had to at least offer something. He wasn't thrilled about the option of answers. He took a deep breath after holding it for a bit and looked up casual like. "Hmm?"

Elmo shoves his hands in his pockets. "We've done this." He jerks his head towards the secret room. "We, I mean, Jews. There's a famous story about it. A girl whose whole family lived in an attic for years, hiding from the Nazis. People all over Europe did that for us. Not everybody stood by and watched. I figure maybe you don't know that story, so, there it is."

He leans against the counter. "If it was just about money, if it was just about doin' our own thing, maybe I'd have second thoughts. Maybe. I dunno, but, I mean, it's me, when don't I have second thoughts? But it ain't. It never has been. It's about our people." His gaze is drawn to the windows that look over Mutant Town. "A mutant can't hardly make an honest living to start with. How're we supposed to get things done if we don't risk this kinda thing? And the law—pfeh. The law wasn't made for us. Not mutants, not Jews. It was made to keep us in line.

"You told me you won't let us go back." Now he's looking at JP, serious, with a spark of challenge in those dark eyes. "I believed you. I still do, okay? We're not gonna go back. But. If we do. IF we do? They can't hold us."

JP seemed to rally from this and nodded slowly. "Yeah Ummm Anne… Frank? That girl. Maman used to have us listen an' Papa would tell us this' story. Said things move here we gotta look after our own. You met m'sisters. They don' pass well. Ty? Half Mutant Town… and nah. Maybe that true. Laws ain' made for us and sure ain' protectin us. So… someone got to." A wolfish grin formed idly with a sid e tilt of his head, "An' I plan on makin my pockets fat off those that'd use that money agains' us. Soooo, maybe, we jes… walk out."

"Anne Frank," Elmo confirms. "And that's exactly what we're gonna do. Kristallnacht comes again? That's our plan." He and JP have always been on the same page on this. A little validation never hurts, though.

"Someone's gotta look after our people," he agrees. "We gotta. You. Me. The guys. That's what we're doing here. That's why I got no second thoughts. It makes me a criminal? Fine, then I'm a criminal, because the laws, they don't fit me, don't fit us. We're mutants. We're queers. We're criminals just because we're alive. What's choppin' a car or crackin' a safe compared to that? Even the laws of Torah we're allowed to break if we gotta do so to live. And, hey." That long half-smile of his appears. "We feather our nest at the same time, who can blame us? Those schmucks that make laws, they do the same, only they've said it's legal for THEM to do it by preyin' off our kind."

JP murmured pushing his hand along his neatly combed and pomaded hair, "Yeaaaah, assholes like tha' foreman right?" True statement. He looked back with a faint smirk that his his eyes and sharpened them in colour and alertness. Elmo proudly broke the law and brought up excellent points here. "This why I like you, Elmo. Laws more like a dare really. A thing there to make it so they get fed an' we don'. We queer? Eh they arrest us. We wrong skin? They arrest us. We mutant? Well they can' keep arrestin us. Can only build so many doors an ain't like I can't jes open em all. Had a dream 'bout that ya know…" He has those apparently. He shook his head and came down off the amusement. "I like you Elmo, an I respect you. You wanna do this? Ain' no one else outta my blood I'd ask first. I just don' wanna be responsible for bringin ya down. You say you in though aaaand I believe you. Makin sure the reason's fair t'you an all."

"That means a lot to me. Thanks." Elmo's smile is a little crooked, wry. He pushes off the counter, coming over to JP. "You're the bossiest damn guy I ever met in my life, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't wanna be here. You wouldn't let me be here, if I didn't. Right?"

Offering his hand, he quirks an eyebrow. "You're lookin' out for me. But even when I'm yellin' at you for coming home blue, or beat up, or whatever mishegoss you're gettin' into? I wouldn't rather be nowhere else."

JP looked up arching an eyebrow, dark brown eyes following Elmo around. Finally his head tilt to the side, "Eeeeh gotta be winnin at somethin. Ain' father of the year yet." Still he accepted the answer, relieved more than a bit with the way the week was going. "Strength is havin' the bravery to follow. It also, moreso, comes from followin and questionin it and doin it cause you wanna an not cause I jes' said so. Funny enough I immediately kidna become unimpressed with people that try t'impress me."

"I never tried to impress anybody," Elmo says. "I'm not startin' with some guy who sleeps in his car." He grins and thwacks JP on the chest with the back of his hand. "Look. I'm in. You don't gotta worry about that. Worry about a lot of other stuff. Not that. Okay, boss?" Teasing him again. "This Ms. Abigail. She musta had some things to say to you."

JP scoffed! "Is a very nice car, merci beaucoup." Yes he was defensive of the integrity of the car but he was grinning too damn much to be believed that any actual offense was taken in the slightest. Still he nodded and confirmed, "Oui, oui, she do. She do. " He didn't say what but Elmo wasn't wrong. "She a good woman, tha' one. But, good I suppose. You get too easily impressed an' try to kiss e'ryone's ass yous get nothin done."

JP thought about that all a bit more and finally came out with, "Well… it's good that you wan' stick around. A guy only gets so far alone an' then? Well we jes' kinda pray we can trust the people around us at the time so…I dunno. Almost a lil too lucky in this, or maybe them angels is throwin me an easy pitch, I dunno but… good. I'm glad you're in." It meant more than that but that's what he spat out of his face in the form of words. He pointed to the wall by the drippy skylight. "Ya know I was so tired it took me two whole days tryin t'figure out how t'make a cat thing so Sev could get up top if he needed to b'feore I remember he jes' turn into a damn bird and fly up. I swear I need jus' like… a ton of sleep, but I was like holy shit this' funnier than hell, man."

Monday Night: Late o'clock.

JP called Elmo up at his house and left a message to call or come by the garage. Ya know he was there not a few hours ago he likely could have put everything together in a thought then. But no, it was JP and forethought wasn't always in the cards. Still the garage smelled like rubber, dirt, exhaust, and grease - you know, like home. Upstairs smelled… kinda amazing like someone set their tongue on fire and said 'add more red chilies.'

The guy who'd answered the phone was a stranger, and probably drunk. He had complained about people calling Elmo, and hadn't quiiite agreed to actually tell him JP called. Still, something must have got through, because Elmo shows up a little while later. Rumpled and yawning, he lets himself in. He blinks as the vivid chili scent hits him. "Hey JP, whaddaya doin' up here?" he calls up the stairs. "You gonna burn the place down with those chilis."

JP laughed and turned up the radio. "Naw, chere, No burnin nothin's down but what left of the paint. I thought I take a look at latkes buuuuut somethin' else happen. C'mon up. You bring that guy on the phone there enough for like 4 or 5… or maybe jes' Severin."

"That's Rex. He owns the place I'm rentin'. I split the phone line and he didn't used to mind, but now that I got these Cajuns callin' me at all hours, he complains." Elmo grins at JP, coming in to the kitchen. He leans his elbows on the counter, yawning again. "Whatcha got goin on?"

JP Arched an eyebrow and griiiiinned slooooowly. Oh he was now in a mood to rightly fuck with that guy. "Rexy? Mon ami? mon petite tres bien ami?" oh yeah. Rex was about to require condolence cards. "I got us one' them cork boards with the pins. An… tryin' t'fin out who pushin that anti-mutant stuff roun' here. They may need a visit."

Elmo looks to the ceiling for help. "So I'm gonna have to get a second line, is what you're saying here." Which to be fair he should probably do anyway. It was fine when he had no friends! "Whaddaya mean, who," he grouses. "You mean besides everybody?"

JP lifted the spoon from the pot to sample and see how the chili was going. Both eyebrows went up and he crooked a finger to Elmo and then pointed at the pot. "Ha!" There was taht amused grin with that cocky head wobble. "Who indeed. Well we can' fight e'ryone. THey ain' all at fault, but! we fin'some these fuckers that think they get away wit' it an find out what they hidin." The eyebrows waggled. "Enforcement, security, extortion? We so multi-talented they gonna hurt from bein in sheer awe, mon chere. Lemme tell you. They have an old sayin. He who have the capital run tha' capital. jes fin' these fuckers and fin' out what they hidin and make em honest men."

Elmo, never one to turn down a dare, comes over for a sample. He mutters something in Yiddish, then risks a sip. Then turns alarmingly red and starts coughing into his sleeve, turning away with eyes watering. Silently he gives JP a thumbs-up. Yep, that's chili.

JP paused and looked… hell he looked disappointed like pushing a domino only to have it lean tiredly on domino #2. His bottom lip pulled up in a thoughtful frown until, ah HA! Manufique! Success it was and JP was happy again once Elmo turned into a cartoon with a red face and coughing steam like a train whistle. He chuckled and pointed with the spoon. "Milk in tha' fridge. heh yeah Foun' this mutant that can do things with plants a bit like m'soeur. And she said quoi?? Ghost pepper yeah I can do that."

Elmo pulls out his hanky, wipes his streaming eyes and seems incapable of talking until he's got some of that milk to dull the exquisite pain of more capsaicin than any mere mortal should be able to handle. "Just like that gumbo you made," he says, through gasps and swallows of milk. "Oy vey izt mir," he mutters, not without amusement. "I'm gonna need V to grow me a new tongue." It's a hazard of being close with Cajuns.

Settled down a little, he cocks an eyebrow at JP. "Enforcement, security, extortion," he echoes, grinning irresistibly. "That sounds like a helluva good time."

"Hmmm maybe. Though that bein' the case… that… give me ideas." JP paused and turned with a wry grin waggling his eyebrows. Nothing good could be going on in that cranium of his. "C'mon. Put sugar in it and it'll ruin it and cut the heat a bit. Sides. DIdn' wanna do first dinner in the kitchen by m'self. So yooooou get to come and suffer though too-good-cookin with me." He pulled the bottle of milk out and just left it out for Elmo figuring…well he didn't want to die from weeping to death. He'd need to hydrate.

Elmo gives JP one of those sidelong looks, with a tiny curl of a smile. If he accused JP of flirting with him, he'd probably claim he was thinking of cars or something. He takes the milk bottle to the table because he really is going to need it. Trying to eat JP's cooking is a personal journey with a lot of pain along the way. "So tell me more."

JP shrugged and turned like the feral cat he was: all style and sinew, and quite likely leaving one bereft of their wits and possessions. Today though he had sauce and hunks of clam on a spoon. "Eeeeh I'm used to cookin f'a petite army, ne? An' now? Now is me. Sometimes sev. Today? Today you. I mean between home an' prison?? This place really quiet." He might be the first person ever to call NYC quiet. About anything. Ever.

Elmo raises his eyebrows. "I guess it's quiet compared to your house. No kids trying to crawl into bed with you, at least." Notwithstanding the occasional electrician who finds his way to his bed—or car, or beanbag. "It's sure quiet compared to prison. That was hell." The eternal hum and roar of the city goes on outside, as ever, but Elmo doesn't even notice it anymore. It's just part of his life, something he's heard from the moment he was born. The human noise is what he's talking about. "You okay with it being quiet?"

JP snorted pouring gumbo into two bowls. He acquired them from… well someone was likely short two bowls and haven't noticed yet. "Yeaaaah I wake up to getting hit in the balls slightly less here." he held up two fingers an inch apart. "Slightly." He passed a spoon to Elmo too and didn't actually answer that question right away. Hips leaned back against the other counter and he stirred the heat out of his bowl, "I jes' turn 25…" He didn't even say when, "Or woulda. Mmaybe I'm 6 I dunno quite how that works… but I spent the mos' part a' the last 10 years in the pen." He chewed at the inside of his lip thoughtfully coming to teh realization on his own, "Truthfully? I honestly dunno how t' survive in quiet. This' all… kinda way weird. I mean, we do…what we got' do, but it all weird."

Elmo flicks a quick glance up at JP. He didn't know that. JP's never told him. He looks back down, pretending to be interested in stirring sugar into his own bowl. "That's rough, buddy." Ten years, even if some of it is out. Rough indeed. "Bad times."

JP stirred and shrugged. "Lot of quarters and overnighters but if we bein honest? Maaan that three years solid was thoroughly unfun." He ate his gumbo and grinned with that trouble conjuring grin, "I love it that e'ryone thinks I'm the bad one too. Like they don' take me serious jes' cause I carryin a rabbit aroun'. Ain' no one blame the rabbit. Sev gets away with so much shit." He snorted, "Fuckin love it." Truthfully. He wasn't even pissed, he was proud of him for that. Still… woulda preferred bein out. Gettin' t'see Amelie, tho…if we honest? How likely you think that been even if I wasn' in?" Truth time here.

Elmo makes a deeply Jewish sound of doubt through his nose. "Maybe not so much. Not with Mozelle's pop bein' like he is. But I dunno. I like Mozelle. Like her a lot, actually. She's got her head screwed on right." He spoons up gumbo. "She's doin' right by Amelie. I like to think she'd do that no matter what."

JP flinched. It was truth, in its totality which is all Elmo ever promised him. Well, unless he said It's fine. Everything's…fine. Still, the truth fucking hurt, but JP wasn't so juvenile to tell him he was wrong just because he didn't like the truth. He scrutinized his gumbo and pushed himself off the counter lean with a flex of his hips and nodded stirring up another bite, "She is that. Mama always said I may have no common sense, but I always have damn good taste."

Elmo isn't watching JP do that thing with his hips. On purpose. He'd get flustered and he is trying to navigate these tricky conversational waters. He needs to focus. "Mama's right," he says with a half smile. "It's tough that it didn't work out, but… you coulda done worse. A lot worse." This is Yiddish for 'you did a damn fine job'.

JP looked up with that warring expression somewhere between keeping his cool, brushing things off as a joke, and just being really pissed. It hurt. Well… Elmo was right…he really hoped. Can't change how things got to now, only change where one goes. A small nod followed that was part agreement perhaps, but part thanks. He was a hard creature to keep down though even by his own design and offered with the arch of an eyebrow and fingers pointing in emphasis around his spoon, "Hey she know who I is. She don' hate me. Kinda all I can hope for on that one, yeah?"

"She don't hate you. Your baby girl knows who you are. It ain't nothin." Elmo has no way to comfort JP except with the bald truth. And by eating his cooking, which he's doing, pacing himself so he doesn't take too big a hit of heat at once. It may be slightly torturous but he is eating JP's cooking, dammit. "And when Amelie manifests, which seems like it might be sooner than later? She's got somewhere to go."

JP blinked and looked around the place. when she manifests…she will have someplace to go. That… gave him something to rally to , relooking at the loft with new inclusion. "Heard aroun' they got school or something f' mutants, ya know. Like where…some kids get t'learn in spite us being differen' ya know? Maybe she won' have t'fight so damn much. Really though, should teach her how t'throw a solid right." He pointed, "Could hang a heavy bag there." Future forward again. Points to Elmo.

"Teach me, while you're at it," Elmo says with a flicker of a grin. "Teach me to dodge the way you do. Some schmuck pushed me down the sidewalk, knocked me over and ripped up my coat." His treasured coat! "I didn't see it comin' and didn't know what to do when it did." He glances up at where JP indicates. "Yep, could hang one there. Let's do that."

He makes a thoughtful little sound. "Yeah, someone told me there's a school for mutants. Dunno anything more about it. We should check it out for her. So we got everything prepared. Yeah?"

JP tilted his head to the side with that cavalier grin of his melting back into place. "Whaaaaat? Someone pushed you and didn' get zapped? Is like I dunno you no more f'nothin." Really someone pleeeeease teach JP how double negatives work. "Don' worry. I think I can' help you out. Still, gon' have to pull a few more jobs if we gon' cover tuition. Jes sayin." He took another large bite of the heart of a volcano in spice and broth form. How he did this who knows. THat might be his second superpower right after makin rules. Wandering back over he poked around in his bowl for more hunks of clam to scoop up and kicked Elmo's boot with his to get his attention which he had already but did anyways. "Merci, Sparkplug. " He didn't say for what but he knew Elmo knew. "So what happen t'your coat? This the brown one or the grey one?" Yes, he took inventory of these things.

"I was zappin' someone else at the time," Elmo protests. "Tryin' not to let him piss himself. Shows me, huh? A buncha pricks in the M.T. lookin' for muties to hassle. Well, they got me n' Arlo instead. That kid can throw a punch. And I can't." When JP taps him, he looks at him, smiling, silent. Yeah, they both know what JP's thanking him for. He doesn't make him say it, this time. "My long blue one," he answers after a moment. "I gotta repair it. Been too busy."

The machinist nodded and arched an eyebrow and said "A'ight well… we can get the coat fixed weirdly not as easily as we can fix you but, still, make it back at the end of the day. That' still a rule. Whatever you do, be able to get back to the safehouse. Money, coats, all that shit gets replaced. You ain't."

"That's the rule," Elmo agrees. "End a the day, we're back here, we're stayin' in one piece. Everything else, we can deal with." It's the second rule of the X-ternals. "Besides." His gaze lingers on JP, like that smile lingers. "I promised you." He finishes the bowl. "This is great, Jeanushka. I can't feel my mouth, but it's great."

JP amped up that grin both smug, and entirely satisfied by the retort nodding. "You did promise me. " Both eyebrows arched and JP had to laugh at the complaint-but-not-complaint about Elmo losing all feeling in his mouth. "Careful, I'll find ways t'test this theory. Oh! Ohohoh! " And theres the fingers flicking at Elmo like they're levitating on their own trying to wrangle a whole thought. "Opportunity comin up. Short story? People we don' like cause they are assholes, an' got some green is havin a buildin remodeled. They got like day contractors an' stuff. We get in on this an' case tha' place. See what it might have."

Elmo sets the bowl down with a tink. "Sounds good to me. We'll take it. We gotta save up for Amelie's college fund, after all." There, that's the second time JP's flirted with him, and he takes it as a real invitation. He gets up in the bayou badass's business, hooking a finger in his belt loop. "Well, now you gotta test that theory. For science." He grins at him, cocking an eyebrow.

JP arched the second eyebrow to join the first one, chin leading first, curiously. Boooooonjour? Well well… Like someone started up a can opener, the cat…was called. Two thoughts immediately entered radar space: how much DID he trust that pool table? Also, should he warm Elmo about the dangers of ghost peppers and being friendly? Eeeeh naaaaah. Still someone stepped into his space and maybe it was his personality or an environmental affectation he picked up for survival or otherwise, but he stepped back into Elmo's space his head idly weaving a figure eight inspecting the creature reserved for intimate partners and bitter enemies. Unlike Sunspot it was HIGHLY unlikely JP would ever take Elmo to ground just to see if he could.

There'd be no challenge in taking Elmo to the ground. No challenge, but possibly a lot of fun. And electricity. A lot of that, too.

Elmo's grin is challenging. He probably has no idea about the things that can happen when ghost pepper oil gets on sensitive parts—or does he? Is it possible this is a dare? JP steps up to him and he leans into him, pulling that belt loop. "C'mere, tough guy. Kiss me." Hand on the back of JP's neck, he pulls him down.

Jp was nothing if he was not a curious and cocky SoB. No matter where he was he was all into the moment, this one notwithstanding. He was pulled into the kiss like diving into the undertow to see what looked below; lips blocking out light against Elmo's. His belt loop was pulled. He stepped into Elmo's space, and then again. Another kiss stolen, and another keeping up with the thunder cascading in their pulse.

JP stooped sliding his hands down Elmo's side, paused at His hips, squeezing a moment before sliding down to lift Elmo up by his ass and dropped him in a shit in the pool table. He paused and pressed his forehead to Elmo's. Take a deep breath guy. What came out of his mouth was one pea, "Stay… It's…half yours anyways, Sparkplug" As if he felt a need to leverage an excuse for Elmo to use. Hey if it's important you bring all your artillery. Besides good company was a hell of a way to assuage bruised feelings.

A startled little squeak when JP picks Elmo up. He laughs and hooks a leg around JP's hips as he's set on the pool table. "Sure," he murmurs, between kisses. "Sure I will." He's touched. How often does JP ask for something like that? Never. More or less. So his heart beats faster not just from making out. Twined around the Cajun, he sinks into kissing him, into the overwhelming sensations.

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