1965-04-01 - Prettyboy and the Shrimp
Summary: Arlo and Elmo get into a fight with some baddies and bond.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
elmo arlo 

A gorgeous early-early-spring day in New York City, Mutant Town. Big dark clouds pile up in the sky, cut through with clear lances of sunlight. It's a balmy sixty degrees and people are coming out, hungry for some air and light. Elmo and Arlo are among them. It's Sunday, it's Passover, they're both taking a break from work and from their highly charged personal lives. Just hanging out, going along the sidewalk. Elmo's smoking and going on about how electric potential is the thing that makes the world go round. "So that's why, if things are goin' tits up, you can't run away, got it? You gotta hop so your feet hit the ground at the same time. Otherwise you'll form a connection and that, tateleh, you do NOT wanna do."

Just about perfect, a day like this. Elmo being the only Jew he's on speaking terms with (minus his brother sometimes), there's no one he'd rather hang out with on Passover. "Will it explode your heart?" he asks. He's smoking as well. It's what the young people do. "I mean how does it kill you?" So morbid. He's in a good mood, though. All smiles.

"Stops it," Elmo says, patting his chest for emphasis. "Cooks your nerves. Scrambles your brainwaves. It can explode you, even, but that's rarer. There's this film you gotta watch when you're training, shows a guy took an arc flash. Nothin' left of him but vaporized carbon." Grisly, but he sounds so satisfied. Yeah that's right, his element is badass.

As they walk, with Elmo running off at the mouth because Arlo wants to listen to him talk about electricity, a group of young guys their age are coming towards them, clustered up on the sidewalk. There's four of them. They're starting to snicker and elbow each other.

"Jesus," Arlo says. "You're going to get me so I don't even go around electricity again. I might have mine disconnected." There's laughter in his voice as he says it. "And I remember aluminum wire causes fires. I don't remember why, though."

His gaze lifts to the snickering youths, girly lashes in evidence. In a low tone, he says, "This ought to be good." He looks back to Elmo to make it seem like they're conversing about whatever again, but he's got his ears perked, enhancing that sense to hear what they're saying.

"They got way less conductivity than copper, the difference—" Elmo's head goes up, like a deer who just heard a twig crack in the bushes. If he had a tail, it would be flagging white. He looks at the guys, calm for now, eyeing them.

"Mutie faggots," one of the guys is saying, to giggles from the others. They're still several yards off. "Fuckin' disgusting," another one says.

"They're not fans," Arlo tells Elmo, probably unnecessarily. "So far we're just disgusting. Body language suggests they're gonna escalate." He gives Elmo an inquisitive look. He's down for a fight, but he defers to Elmo. Elmo's the electrician, he's just the janitor.

Elmo takes a thoughtful drag off his cigarette, blowing out the smoke with eyes narrowed. "This's our turf," he says to Arlo. No more than that. It's enough. He keeps walking, slowed down, deliberate.

"Hey, mutie!" yells one of the guys, gleeful. "Mutie, I'm talkin to you!" They're all in 'uniform', leather jackets, engineer boots.

Arlo walks with Elmo at an easy pace. He flicks ash from his cigaratte and murmurs, "Bunched fists, forward feinting. Get ready." Those honed senses show him shit, man. He's learned the signs. "Redhead's a leftie, watch for his hook." He lifts his chin and continues walking straight ahead. There's nothing in him that says back down.

Elmo makes an impressed little noise. "That power a yours, huh?" He matches Arlo's pace, shoulders square, everything about his body language suggesting that this is their sidewalk and kindly get the fuck off of it.

The group of young guys get louder, passing remarks to each other, laughing, hanging on each other. They're seething around, eager for confrontation. "Hey mutie, you a faggot too?" the front man is saying. "You dress like a faggot!" This is clearly aimed at Elmo the flamboyant. "You suck a lot of dick, huh?!"

Elmo tips his head a little to the side, flicks the ash from the butt. "Maybe I do, what's it to ya?"

"Yeah, maybe he does," Arlo says, ever helpful. He squares his shoulders, and he keeps walking. "Why don't you shove off before you get your ass kicked by a couple queers?" he says. He has no qualms just walking up til he's close enough to punch one of them. Fuck these guys. Fuck them coming into this neighborhood.

The ripple of disgust and fear that goes through that group! Their faces curling up in horror, their hands cringing. Elmo laughs, a sudden merry sound, and flicks his cigarette away. "C'mon, boys, you ain't never done it to each other on them long winter nights?"

One of the guys, who in the group dynamic is probably their beleaguered voice of reason, slaps the leader's sleeve, urging him to rethink this particular target, they were too confident, not scared nearly enough. The leader flings him off. "Nobody calls me a fairy," he snarls. "Especially not no fuckin muties." He picks up his pace.

"Is that right, fairy?" Arlo says with a too-bright smile. "I think you just want to get your hands on us. Fuckin' normie." That's when something strange happens to the four. As Arlo closes in, their senses shift. They can taste sound, see through touch. Everything is mix-matched. They'll get their bearings soon enough, but it's just wtf enough Arlo is able to walk up and punch Red in the face before he can even get to his left hook. The other three also look distracted, if temporarily.

The redhead staggers, hands flying to his nose with a startled yelp. The other three might perceive his yelp as a weird color, or maybe it tastes like lawn clippings. They're confused as hell.

Elmo whips something out of one of his many coat pockets. It's a metal ruler, with a battery pack soldered to one end of it. There also seems to be the tines of a fork welded to the other end. This he jabs the leader with and lets him have a nice long jolt, enough to make him scream, but Elmo's merciful this time. The voltage isn't enough to make the guy piss himself.

"Oh what the HELL," cries one of the other two guys, coming to his senses just to get to witness that. Then he flings himself at Elmo. "You're KILLING HIM!"

Arlo knees Red in the stomach, but Red does get that left hook in, splitting Arlo's lip. Arlo's got no super strength or anything like that, but he's got combat awareness. He knees Red in the guts, then uses the momentum of that left hook to swivel him in front of his friend as said friend is throwing a punch. He hits Red instead, who cries out, "What the hell, man!" Arlo says, brightly, "Maybe he shouldn'a fucked with us."

Elmo gets knocked down with a yelp of his own. The guy has shoved him with all of his terrified strength, enough to send Elmo some feet down the sidewalk and knock the wind out of him. It turns out that while Elmo may be an electric mutant and engineering genius, he has no idea how to take a hit. "You leave him alone!" the guy yells at him, eyes wide with panic. Elmo's left gasping with shredded palms and torn coat, his toy clanging to the sidewalk.

Arlo shoves Red into his friend. While they untangle that, he looks around, spry on his feet. He sucks at his lip as it bleeds. "You okay?" he calls Elmo. He ducks and lashes out with a foot at one of the creeps' knees, causing it to buckle. Once he's on the ground Arlo kicks him in the stomach. Red and his friend aren't down yet, but Red doesn't look so good.

Elmo's answer comes partially in Yiddish. "Oh you fershlugginer normie," he snarls, still gasping. He lashes out at the guy who'd shoved him, a flicking gesture like he's throwing something. *CRACK!* Lightning leaps into being, throwing everything into its harsh crazy light, shadows dancing as the bolt arcs. There's some startled cries from other people who aren't nearby, but not as many as might be expected. It is Mutant Town.

The guy cowers, screaming as he gets licked by lightning. It's enough to knock him down, but doesn't do him any lasting harm. The bolt walks along the sidewalk and buildings, feeling out things it can ground itself on, dissipating as it goes. "GET OUTTA MY TOWN!" Elmo yells, absolutely furious.

Arlo gives the guy he's kicking another swift one when he tries to get up. "That's my boy!" he laughs when Elmo lights up the street. He hops, not knowing if he's supposed to, but what can it hurt? More to the point, he hops over prone guy and goes to pick on Red again. "You're just a mutie with a dumb talent, Leftie," he tells him as he punches him in the face again. The guy's nose is bloodied. He's got a black eye. This time he goes down. "Got one more for you," he tells Elmo. "I was saving him."

Elmo clambers unsteadily to his feet. He actually might be slightly terrifying, scraped up, torn coat, with sparks dripping from his fingertips and a snarl on his bloodied face. "Ain't you heard me?!" he demands of this last unfortunate guy, who raises his fists. Dude is real worried but he knows Elmo's at least physically vulnerable, now. "Get out of my town!" He flings something at him. This time it's a battery, and all that time he's spent playing darts with JP pays off. It hits and discharges, sending a web of electricity all over the poor guy. He gives out a choked scream and collapses to his knees.

Arlo glances back at Elmo with a broad grin and a glint in his eyes. He's having fun damn it. With blood trickling down his chin and a bruise blossoming around one eye, his t-shirt torn. "You okay?" he asks, standing over the fallen Red, who isn't looking for trouble anymore. Arlo steps over him to rejoin Elmo. To the four on the ground, he spits blood and says, "Go run back to the other normies and tell them we don't want them."

"How stupid you gotta be, come here lookin' for trouble!" Elmo is probably just fine if he can yell like that. "You got the rest a New York to shit in, don't you bring your filth here!"

The young guys are hauling each other to their feet, the big mouthed leader reeling. "We're gonna find you alone, mutie," he promises, heaving for breath. "We're gonna fuck you up." His gang is making him stumble away with them. They've had enough.

Arlo calls after, "Four on one? Better bring some friends." He lifts his chin at their retreating selves. That's right, just keep walking. Then he looks Elmo over, still grinning. "Stupid fuckers," he says. "Did you see that one?" He mimicks being jolted as though by a livewire. "Haha."

That guy is mad with something beyond just humiliation. Something that puts a truly scary light in his eyes. "That's a promise, you mutie faggot." Then he lets the other guys drag him off. They slink off. People who had paused to let the fight go down now shake their heads, or laugh, or roll their eyes (Arlo and Elmo get included in that), and go about what they were doing before certain drama queens had to light the street up like the Fourth of July.

Elmo swears in Yiddish, long sentences full of the worst words Arlo knows, before finally laughing. "Got 'im pretty good," he admits. "Hey, you're bleeding all over. Let's get cleaned up."

"Sure," Arlo says. His shirt's a lost cause, alas. "Let's head to the shop." He glances to Elmo's hamburger hand. "Gonna have fun cleaning that out," he says. He's in such a good mood as they head back. "Did you see those punks? Yeah, Arlo, Elmo was there. "You're good in a fight, man. I wish I could put the zap on people."

Elmo looks at his hand, wincing. Now that the adrenaline's cooking off, he feels that, oh yes he does. "So long as nobody lands a punch on me," he says wryly. "You see what happens when they do." He turns for the garage. "Twisted my damn knee," he complains, limping.

"I'd help you walk, but we might get called faggots." He laughs, then offers Elmo his arm. "Yeah, you're kinda little. That's okay, though. Zap them before they can swing a fist. Can you do the ground so everyone does a jig? I guess only if there's something on the ground that conducts, right?"

Elmo snorts, shaking his head, and takes Arlo's arm, leaning on him. "Wouldn't wanna get called faggots!" As they make their way, somewhat slower, to the garage, he continues. "You're real good in a scrap, huh? You had those guys handled. And hardly a mark on ya."

"Eh, they're a buncha mooks. They had more bluster than skill. You just gotta know what to look for, and you can tell what a guy's gonna do. Like Lefty? He was clenching his left hand, stepping forward on his left foot. My eyes pick up stuff like that, and when the adrenaline gets going, you know how it is."

"Yiddisherkopf," Elmo says, praising Arlo for his clever Jewish brain, flashing him a crooked grin.

They limp Elmo to the garage, where he eyes the metal stairs going to the residental flat. He hauls himself upstairs, beckoning Arlo, who hasn't been there yet. Upstairs it's a half-built chaos in process of being organized with sweat. There's mismatched furniture and a pool table, covered with a slab of plywood to make it into a normal table. There's a pile of blankets and pillows on a beanbag. There's power tools everywhere. Elmo drags himself into the kitchen, which is surprisingly big and high-end.

"I understood that one," Arlo says. He's learning! Once they're upstairs, he strips off his shirt and uses it to dab at blood. He follows after Elmo, looking around. "So I guess tinkering with stuff is a lifestyle with you guys," he says as he takes in all the power tools. "Either that or this guy's into some weird stuff."

"He talks to his car, don't tell him I told ya," Elmo says with a glint of affectionate mischief. "Yeah, we're both mechanics. He's a carpenter, I'm an engineer. S'why we put this garage together. So we can do stuff we're good at, besides gettin' into trouble." He digs out a towel, runs it under cold water. "C'mere so I can wipe that schmutz off your face, Arlushka. You did real good."

"Ha ha, he's such a gear head," Arlo says. He comes over to sit where Elmo can treat him. It's ugly but temporary damage. "Thank God I'm good at pushing a broom," he says with a little laugh. "But I'm smart. I learn stuff fast." He holds still. "Man, I'm not gonna be pretty for whatshisface now."

Elmo delicately sponges off Arlo's bloody face. "Poor whatsisface," he says, mocking. He tips Arlo's face, inspecting the damage. "You'll be pretty again soon enough. S'what you get, startin' fights." He must be in a good mood, despite his crankiness, he's teasing Arlo so much. He goes to wash the towel out and run his road-rashed palm under the water with a hiss. "Oy vey izt mir, that HURTS."

"That's the worst," Arlo says, "when stuff gets ground in there." He leans back to watch. "I think whatshisface will take me a little battered. He's a pretty good guy." Yeah, Arlo gets a sappy look on his face "I think we might be getting serious, you know?"

Elmo pulls a pair of needle-nosed pliers and his lighter out of a pocket. The tips of the pliers, he sterilizes in the flame for thirty seconds, getting the flame into all the grooves. The metal hisses as he runs it under water to cool it. "Yeah? How serious? You gonna get married?" With a muttered curse he plucks out a chunk of gravel from his palm.

Arlo snorts. "Listen to you," he says. "I mean he kinda calls me his boy is what I'm saying." He glances aside. There's something cagey there. He glances down. "So, yeah. I'm his boy. I don't really like a lot of people touching me, so I'm okay with that."

Elmo smiles, an inward, pleased expression. Not smiling at Arlo so much as smiling at something that he's thinking. "I'm glad to hear it, Arlinka. I really am." He means it, even though his smile transforms into a grimace as he pulls more bits of the street out of his hand. "I gotta ask V to help me with this, I'm not gonna be able to hold anything." Taking time from work to let himself heal is clearly out of the question. "Yeah. I don't like people touchin' me neither. Too loud in my head."

"Yeah?" Arlo says. "I wonder how much of that is the elecricity in them." He winces when Elmo does. Yeah, that wound looks nasty. "I just get, like, I dont know. If I don't know you, you got nothing I want. I've been done over enough, I don't need the wrong kind of people getting close. You're my friend, and he's my baby, but that's all I need."

Elmo presses his palm, making it bleed. All over the country today, gentiles are celebrating another Jew who bled out of his hand. "I hear that. You're too pretty, and I'm too small. People, they look at us, they get ideas." Like those schvantzes who they just sent running, for example. "I gotta say," he adds, flinching as he forces the last of the grit out of his tattered skin, "havin' people, the right kind of people, it's pretty good, though."

Arlo grins and says, "Listen to you." He watches the last of the de-gritting, flinching a little. "I say let them come," he says. "You and me? We cleaned house. I bet JP's good in a fight, too. Having V there, that's good but I don't like to see him getting himself beat up over us, you know?"

Elmo sags somewhat, propping himself on the sink edge while he lets the water wash over his hand. "JP's a pro scrapper. He loves nothin' better in this world. We'd still be fighting if he was here. V's real good too, don't judge him by those fancy shirts. Severin, JP's brother, he's a savage. I feel real sorry for anyone stupid enough to take him on. I'm the one can't throw a punch, or take one," he adds with a rueful half-grin.

"Yeah, well, you could train to your size, and you got the zap," Arlo says. "You're not a damsel." He winks. Then he adds, "Don't judge people by their clothes. Maybe he just likes to feel good-looking. Not everyone's naturally handsome as us."

Elmo tips his unhurt hand back and forth. "I dunno if I can. Never been good at that stuff." Even though he's quick as a weasel and strong in his own way, he doesn't seem to think he's actually like that. Someone who grew up too used to being the weak kid. He rolls his eyes humorously at Arlo. "Please, I know I ain't handsome."

"Sure you are," Arlo says. "You got eyes a dame would die for. Sable wishes it was that black. Anyway, you got to go in low, man. Duck under the punches, go for the vitals, kick out a knee. There's no such thing as fair fighting when it's four against two or whatever. They sure as shit ain't gonna go easy on you."

"Feh," Elmo says, waving away these compliments. He gets kinda flustered, though, flushing. But Arlo's got him interested. "You know that stuff," he says, thoughtful. "Anyone ever teach you? Or did you learn it at the school a hard knocks?"

"School of hard knocks," Arlo says. "I got beaten but good, lots of times. Then I started to notice things. Just little things, like hey that guy's favoring that foot, or hey he swings high, I'll go in low. I can see where he's gonna dodge by looking at his feet and how he's tensed up. Little stuff the eye doesn't normally pick up. I started using those advantages. I just figure, watching the way you move, you're not a wimp. You just gotta go low."

Elmo finally shuts off the faucet and gingerly daubs at his palm with a paper towel, which comes away pink-splotched. "Nah, I'm pretty much a wimp." He shrugs. "I can get through fights, because they look at me and then they go after JP first, or Sev. They think I'm no threat. They're wrong, but not because I'm a fighter." Not with his fists, at least.

"You use what you got," Arlo says. "I say when they get in your face, light 'em up. The best way to take a punch is not to be around one." He grimaces, almost dotingly, over the hand as it's dabbed. "I have to go after them first for them to think I'm a fighter. I don't know, maybe because I'm kinda skinny."

"It's because you're as pretty as a doll," Elmo says, almost absently, now rummaging around for antiseptic. He comes up with a bottle of rubbing alcohol, eyes it with trepidation. "Put this on me, would you? I can't face doing it myself."

Arlo wrinkles his nose and says, "Listen to you!" Then he laughs. He takes the alcohol and a cotton ball. "Oh, honey, this is going to hurt." He's quick with the torment though, a swift dabbing, the sooner to get it over with. In an attempt to distract Elmo while his hand is screaming at him, he says, "Sometimes I put on makeup." That ought to jar him out of his anguish.

Elmo makes a really pathetic sound. He's clearly not used to being thrown around like that. One can imagine he's got a lot of practice keeping mooks at bay with his powers. "Told ya I'm a wimp," he says, trying to laugh. "…You put on makeup? What for?"

Arlo winces with sympathy. Yes, it's bad, and he's not going to badmouth Elmo for indulging in a little patheticness. "There we go, all done," he says, capping the rubbing alcohol. Then he glances down and shrugs. "I dunno. Don't tell anyone, though. I just wanted to know what it'd look like. I like it."

Elmo sighs in it-feels-so-good-when-it-stops relief, eyes closing. "Gevalt, that hurt. Thanks, buddy." He quirks a weary smile at Arlo. "Nah, I won't tell anyone. …what's it look like?" He's irresistably curious.

Arlo doesn't meet Elmo's gaze, and he scuffs a foot. "I dunno. Like my eyes really pop, and my lips just look really cool and dark. Felix sometimes calls me his girl. You better not fucking tell anyone or I'll punch you in half."

"You would, too," Elmo says, sincerely. His eyebrows are up, interest piqued. "You know, you kind of got a girl's face—I don't mean it bad," he adds hastily, like Arlo might make good on his threat. "You're just real pretty and got this great face. …Can I see, sometime?"

Arlo scowls at Elmo briefly, but the clarificatio is hastily made. His features soften, though there's a glint of suspiciousness in his eyes. "No camera?" he says. "And I ain't wearing anything lacy for you." Emphasis on the 'you' so it's just the makeup."

"No, God, no," Elmo says, a little startled. "No camera, and no, please don't wear anything lacy for me. I would feel really weird about that. I mean. You're real pretty, but I don't think that'd be a good idea for either of us."

Arlo shakes his head in firm agreement. "It would not, no." His hard features relent somewhat into a small smile as he says, "Besides, I dress up for my baby. No one else gets to see that. Some things you gotta keep special, you know what I mean? Or they lose meaning."

Elmo returns the smile. "Know what you mean. With Lindon—" he cuts himself off, clears his throat. "Nevermind." Embarrassed. "Anyway, it's for your boyfriend, not for your electrician."

Arlo grins broadly. "Go on," he says. "I told you an embarrassing thing. You gotta do the same so we're even. That's how it works." he pokes Elmo in the ribs with a fingertip to goad him. "You know I won't judge."

Elmo ducks, grinning. "You gotta get me drunk first, boychik." Well, at least he was open to negotiations?

Arlo says, "Yeah, okay. But you owe me. We'll go to Eight Ball and you can tell me all about it. Don't let it be said Arlo Avery's not there for his friends."

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