1965-06-07 - Platonic Yelling
Summary: JP gets in a fight with a bunch of jerks trying to steal his car, Vitale yells at him. Julie observes so much dumb boys in dumb boy action, Elmo joins and yells at V, who in turns yells at Elmo for yelling at him and then there's a lot of crying.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
elmo julie vitale jp 


|ROLL| JP +rolls 1d20 for: 4

JP was already in the side alley of Eightball. It was a three on one fight and the Cajun had his hits taken, but was still doing a fantastic job holding ground. Bloody lip and all but he was laughing, "Bbaby, yous can' say what you wan bout me, but don' you say nothin about my car, nes pas?" This is what happens when there's just not enough to go around.

Vitale likely has at this point 'A Bonaventure is Doing Something Stupid' senses that tingle, or perhaps just X-ternal in general senses that tingle. Every time one of them gets hurt, it's like the Italian's ears burn or something. And well, he had been coming out here to meet JP anyway, he should have known that he would likely be walking in on some kind of fist fight, JP's middle name probably translated to 'trouble' in French. So, though Vitale sighs to see his boss in the middle of a three on one fight, he is completely unsurprised.

He pinches the bridge of his nose, pulls his gloves from his pocket and slips them on, heading up to the closest guy who wasn't his Cajun friend, tapping him on the shoulder and if he turns, he gets a fist to the nose, a rather concise clean jab, quite like Vitale. "Which one's sister you kiss, JP?" He asks, because clearly JP had to have gotten himself into this mess with his inability to keep his lips off anyone pretty.

Julie is pulling up in front of the Eight Ball, as it happens, in one of those somewhat hot-rodded little Studebaker shop trucks, and straightenng the collar of a work shirt, hearing the sounds of a scuffle when she shuts down the engine and gets out. Hrms. "Well, isn't that just peachy," she muses, her mind having been on an evening beer, and makes her way over, reaching into a pocket for a machined metal yo-yo, which she absently yo-yos, coming around the corner and peeking around the corner into the alley. "Who woulda guessed," she says, her own accent New York Italian, when she pipes up, "You boys playing nice?"

JP ducked the swing fron the guy with the green skin letting it pass over him going for a gut punch on thug #2 while Vitale started to suit up and help JP defend his car, "Ahhh, that one." He thumbed at swing and a miss he was dodging. This engratiated him to none of these guys. While he got ina scrap with Number two and the guy who met Vitale was now abruptly busy, the green scaled man who missed his target turned to Julie asking with a thick local accent, "Awwww this your sistah, Frenchie?" To that JP stood up and stopped fighting earing him a pop in the face like his head was on a spring. He boggled letting his brain recalibrate. "DO I seriously sound like either of them?! Yous know tha' not how that works, oui?" An elbow to his assailant's jaw and then two to the ribs later je laughed, "Yeah, go say hi an see how far ya get, idjiot."

For the record, Vitale hasn't any idea what he's helping JP defend, just that JP is getting punched and therefore, Vitale needs to punch the punchers. When he learns later that JP got in a three way fight about his car, JP is going to get a thorough scolding. Vitale grabs his man's shoulder and pushes him down hard to meet a knee to the gut, hopefully dropping him. "JP, eyes up!" Vitale fusses at him when he watches JP get a sock to the face for taking a minute to process what his assailant said to him, he cusses softly to himself in Italian. "I'm sorry you've got to bear witness to all this, miss." He says to Julie, pulling his guy's arm back until he hears it crack. "You going to stay down?"

Julietut-tuts, one hand crooked on a hip, the other yo-yo-ing, and fires back in the same language, 'It's almost like it's family, isn't it?' then back in English, "Ay, boys! That ain't what this part of town is for, whoever said what, awright?" Yo-yo goes sleeper, then 'around the world' …rather rapidly, really, it seemign to be something of a long-time idle habit, at least.

JP was giving zero shits about hurting anyone, anyone, trying to hurt or boost his car. Blood in his teeth, and it didn't much phase him. it was kind of a rush. Vitale cracked the guy's arm, and JP found feet enough to meet the next incoming punch at His hairline head butting the fist, then the bridge of the asshole's nose bragging hos short so he couldn't lean away from it.

The green guy yelled back, while giving Julie the eye, "The car ain't worth it. Bail!"

JP yelled at him pointing an angry finger, "Is totally worth it!"

The guys seem intent on running off and the reason why they were all punching each other is finally revealed, JP's car. "Let 'em go, JP, if they wanna run away with their tails between their legs, let 'em." Vitale says, letting the guy on the ground go to try and make his way to JP to push him back against the wall to keep him from running after the two with all their bones untouched in their arms. He smiles at Julie, who is trying to get them to stop fighting as well.

|ROLL| JP +rolls 1d20 for: 15

Julie smirks to Vitale, there, and chides JP a bit, "You and your mouth. You oughtta be happy enough with that ride not to worry about any guff over it, tell em to save it for the strip. Besides, it's bad for business if they could be customers next week." Yo-yo goes from its little orbit to a sideways motion, then back up and down. "So, can I get a beer without a riot starting or what?" She smirks.

JP was walked back to the wall and not without a fight on Vitale and not without trying to pick him up and take him WITH him to chase the fleeing fellas off. He sucked on his teeth and with his back to brick and V's hand in his chest , spat on the pavement and took a deep breath and growled, entirely displeased, "Aat a essaye de voler ma voiture! They try jackin my car? NoNO, No this one, and not here." He yelled down the street, "Je vais trouver ta soeur, et ta m%<232>re, et faire le tour du quartier TROIS FOIS!" Yup. The liklihood of him either running back at them or making the car run them over was now pretty high if they showed back up. However, as it was, it wasn't worththe hastle. "No one… steals my fuckin car."

JP fights him and surely if Vitale didn't heal, he might have worn a bruise or two for it, but as it was, Vitale didn't even flinch, pressing his other hand against JP's shoulder. "Don't spit in front the lady! They're running, JP! They ain't stealin' the car, they're running. Hey! Don't talk about anyone's sister." Vitale says, grabbing JP's arm when he goes to pick him up and take him with him after the cowards running down the street, pinning that back against the wall. "Relax, calm down. No one's got your car, JP. They ran, alright? They ran." Vitale's voice is both stern and soothing, that hand on JP's arm starts leaching the injuries off of JP slowly.

Julie ahs, "Tried to steal it? They's lucky I didn't hear about that, or Big Al, for that matter. I figured you was just locking horns. Maybe I'll just let Big Al in on it after all, you know what I mean, he can take em aside, have a little talk, work something out. Can't have people tearing up this neighborhood over ripping each other awff when people gotta help each other out." She tsks, pockets the yo-yo, takes out a smoke, and tilts her head toward the tavern, "Maybe let's go take a load off, I been on oil and chassis lube all day, feel like I been hanging out of a tree by the arms."

JP was not programmed to deescalate a fight and pretty much always took intervention now didn't it? Hell it's how he met that Lobster Guy. That worked out alright. His bruises faded before his fight reflex did but he stopped fussin and fightin and finally, finally, relented to going in for a beer murmuring, "Yeah, well, some call that the beginnin of a good evenin, Jules." He paused and squint at her, "You sure ou ain't my sister?" The start of that easy grin returned and this time he tagged the car murmuring something to it in his slurred French likely telling Jeanne du Arc it was going to be ok, promise. Promise. Looking to Vitale he offered, Merci."

"Yeah, yeah, getting your teeth knocked out is foreplay to you, the whole world knows it, Jean-Pierre, you demon." Vitale fusses at him, hand still pinning JP to the wall until his pulse slows along with his breathing. His other hand releases JP's arm when he's sure JP isn't going to tackle him to the ground anymore, roughly tipping JP's chin up with a hand around his jaw, checking his smile for any more cracked teeth or busted lip, making sure he got it all. "Yeah, yeah, you're welcome. Owe me a drink though." The Italian says, patting JP's cheek twice, rougher than he needed to, but it's not as if he'll keep the sting long anyway. "You good? I let you go, you going to run or are you going to come in the bar with us?"

Julie laughs, "Hey, I got a couple cousins been known to hot under the collar sometimes. usually ain't good to race mad, or for whoever come up the worse for a fight." She draws on a cigarette, and starts headed for the door, eyeing the vehicle for condition. "Kinda gotta be careful of pricey-looking rides, here, but if you get the kids on your side, they'll keep an eye on things if you give em a ride or let em hang around the things once in a while. Who were those guys, anyway? Don't think I seen em around here before, couple of em, anyway."

JP returned one slap to VItale's cheek. It was the universal gesture of, it's going to be all right. "Yeah, yeah, beer an a burger. Jules yous too. Miss seein you face, soeur. What that you got there? You know you can really punch a guy's clock a guy with a damn yo-yo."

Vitale bumps foreheads with JP lightly before he finally decides that he's safe to release, both because he's not pulling injuries off of him and also because he seems to be calm. "C'mon then, brat. Let's join the pretty lady for a bite. You going to introduce me?" He teases before he already offers his hand to Julie. "Vitale," He offers.

Julie smirks to JP, and winks, mischeviously, as they head in, "Really? It's just a little something I whipped up in the machine shop. I guess I better be careful." She ahs, to Vitale. "Oh, Dizzy, how ya doing, Vitale."

JP held the door and grinned back to his usual rakish self, "Yeah Diz got us a bunch of the stuff we needed on start up. ThIs is Vitale. He helped me get a couple jobs when I firs' got here. Now? Eh, now he family." To Vitale he said only, "We can trust her." Which was a large statement from him but one he was clearly comfortable making. "How's your workshop doin by the by?"

Vitale smiles, taking his hand back when Julie doesn't take it. "Dizzy, alright." He says with a nod. "I'm doin' great, just coming out here because my left ear started burning which usually means a Bonaventure is up to no good." He winks at JP as he passes him into the bar, and though he told JP he owed him a beer, the pair of them know Vitale won't let JP pay for anything. He smiles widely when JP says he's family now, giving JP's shoulder a squeeze, that statement would never fail to make Vitale feel good. "You got a workshop, Dizzy?"

Julie laughs, a bit, answering, "Well, I dunno if you'd call any of em really mine, but mi familia's got bays, and so does this gig I got upstate, that's set up pretty OK for the summer session and all. Been thinking about some kinda project, actually, we got something together for the strip, my cousins and me. Maybe do something with that Woodie I got stashed around here. Real nice body-shell, Ford rear end and stuff, just all slapped together in some kinda hurry and needs a new mill. But, we got a flathead or two would go in there real nice, and some Beach Boys fan'd probably be all into it. Maybe you guys want in?"

JP considered that upnodding to teh bartender with a wink. Nope. He didn't really shut off really, he just was who he was. Points for consistancy. He clinked the botton of his bottle to Vitale's and drank giving Julie a nod, "Could be ver' interested actually. An I remember the workshop upstate." There was that wolfish grin as he shook his head, "Tha's where tht crazy storybook fucker wit' that axe came an attack that Cindy-girl from? Pass' the hell out on Logan's porch an' foun you next mornin. Maaaan Winter was fun!"

Vitale understands some of those words separately that Julie is sayin' but it's hard to follow. Vitale has a car, but he's far too rich to have anything to do with his car when it breaks down, has no idea what any of the parts are. So he doesn't know what on earth they are talking about. He nods at JP, let him do the talking. "Axe?" He asks, even more confused now. No idea what JP is agreeing to, but he might as well sign them both up, V will follow him anywhere.

Julie laughs a bit. "Yeah, I kinda missed out on most of whatever it was with that crazy scene, whatever it was all about. I kinda just walked into it, and whattya gonna do." She smiles as a yellow beer's delivered. Smiles to Vitale. "Not so much a car guy, I'm guessing from the look? Guess we could bore ya with, err, shop talk." As if anyone didn't love cars, really, cars being *life,* but it's New York City, and all.

Elmo shows up, saying hi to the bouncer, spotting his crew and Julie, and coming over to them. "Hey, guys," he says, including Julie, because she's an honorary guy. He hikes his eyebrows at JP and Vitale. "Everythin' ok? Someone came by told me you were fightin'."

JP looked up to Elmo murmuring, "Someone tried t' lay hands on m'girl. Iwasn't havin it." And presently, as Mozelle and Amelie were in Louisiana that left one lady to guess. "Have a seat. Dizzy was jes tellin us about a pretty choice job fixin up a surf wagon. Actually sounin' pretty fun actually."

"JP was fightin', then I helped him fight, then he thought about fightin' me because I wouldn't let him keep fightin' guys that would run away while he was spitting blood and his teeth out and you /all/ will be the death of me." Vitale complains, giving JP a very stern look. He pats Elmo's shoulder once he's close enough. "You want a drink?"

Julie smirks, and raises her beer a bit to Elmo as he arrives, "Hey, Elmo, howya doing?" She smirks to Elmo, "I get the feeling our boy here's got a temper on him, …but I'm still wondering who these guys were. Been starting to hear about some pretty rough guys out there in town, mutants and all."

"What? And I missed it?" Elmo complains, genuinely disappointed. "You guys have all the fun without me." He lets Vitale pat him, hiking his eyebrows at him fondly. But then he grins wryly at Julie. "What gave it away, Diz? Anyway, he's only like that if you touch his car. Or his brother. Or me. Or V…" He trails off, realizing his list of exceptions is now comical.

JP looked to Elmo at Dizzy's description and a slow, wide grin amused his face. He drank his beer with neither confirming nor denying, but damn he was proud. "Or mah shit, or… eyah we can go on. T'day? Les idjiots thinkin they gon' roll me an take off with my car… as for swho they is?" He fished into his coat and dropped a bifold wallet on teh counter in front of DIzzy. "Fin' out."

"It's a good damn thing you missed it because then I'd probably have to hold you down too and I need two hands on JP. All you two ever do is rile each other up. The two who's arm I didn't break would have missing all their teeth." Vitale looks up at the sealing and cusses to himself in Italian about how Elmo and the Bonaventures will be the death of him, once again. "Yeah, he's got a temper, they all got tempers. The other brother is rather fond of turning into a mountain lion too. Do you see what I have to put up with, Diz?" He watches JP drop a wallet on the counter. "Did you lift that off of him while you were punchin' him?" He sounds actually proud of JP that time.

Julie laughs a bit to JP and Vitale. "Unless they stole this earlier, that'll do, I guess." She peers inside for ID, or other clues. Peers at some, then, hrms. "I dunno, coulda been one of them. Could be his and be phoney, too. I guess I could try making a call or two." With a little more rifling through, she checks out a few things, then leaves it as she found it, and takes up her beer to head toward the payphone.

JP just sat there smug as a bug in a rug. Vitale got slid that wry, calm ear to ear grin that read hell yeah I did. There were times he was even proud of himself. "I dunno you got a blue pen on ya, Diz? We can draw bruises on his mug and see if I recognize em." Yes now he was going to have a blast talking some mad shit. From across the bar he heard someone bark, with a hint of North Jersey to their voice, "Geahhead, we still throwin down?" He took up the wallet back from Julie with a wink. "This'll be fun. We can catch up after I get gas money outta this guy." He leaned over to murmur something to his partner in crime and with all of the excitement of a meercat, popped up out of his seat. Vitale got a tap on the head. "We's jes the wors', V. I know. Don' ever change."

JP dropped the lifted wallet into his back pocket and strolled with a idle bop along withthe juke box letting Elmo sit on whatever he imparted to him. Blithly that Bonaventure could go through life without any concept of threat of destruction chouldn't he? The guy he was playing looked to be made out of solid stone. Let's hope he doesn't scalp this guy for too much money or VItale might go back to swearing up a storm and grounding the whole fraking team.

Elmo turns bright red and glares at JP as the Cajun saunters off. "Fershlugginer mamzer," he mutters, totally not looking at JP's ass. He turns back back to the bar and Vitale. "Can you believe that guy?"

Vitale rolls his eyes and rubs the front of his head with all the air of an overworked mother dealing with her consistantly misbehaving child. "Pain in my ass." He grumbles. "How have you been, Sparks? Not getting into trouble too right? Only one of my ears was burning." He taps the bar and nods to Elmo to tell the bartender to put him on V's tab. "I bet yours was burning too, that had to have brought you here."

Elmo slides onto the barstool and asks for a beer. "Great, I got so much stuff to work on." For him, that honestly is great. He shrugs, though, over the trouble, and gives Vitale half a sly grin. "Nothin' that's getting me beat up, anyway. Man, who the hell is stupid enough to mug JP?"

"Someone who ain't know JP enough to know that if he don't kick your ass, his shape shifting brother will and then I'll heal you just so we can kick your ass again." Vitale offers with a smile. "You always have too much to work on, I worry about you, Sparks."

Elmo waves Vitale's concern off. "What else you want I should do with myself, if not work?" He picks up the beer when the bartender provides it. "Bet you yelled at JP," he adds, grinning. "Sorry I missed that, too."

"I did yell at JP, he tried to tackle me because I wouldn't let him chase the guys when they tucked tail and ran. I held him there until he agreed to behave." Vitale says, gesturing wildly with his hand, fingers pinched together, incredibly Italian this one is. "You don't have to work as much as you do, it's okay to you know, not work yourself to death."

Elmo snickers, flicking a glance over at where the big stone mutant is currently being lured into thinking he just might be better than JP. "That's our boy." Shrugging again, he drinks. "Don't worry, V. I got a day off a week, after all." Which he often uses to work on his own machines, but he doesn't mention it. "You look just like your ma when you do that."

"A day off is not enough, that's gotta be cruel and unusual punishment or somethin'." Vitale colors when Elmo says he looks like his mother when he fusses with his hand. "Shut up, Sparks." He huffs pushing the edge of Elmo's chair with his shoe. He pulls out a cigarette, lighting it and taking a deep huff of it before he offers it to Elmo, as if his life is so hard worrying over these x-ternals.

Elmo laughs even though the wobble Vitale gives him makes the beer slop over the sides. "Dammit, you're spillin' my beer, Vitko." He's cheerful, though looks tired, as he always does nowadays. Plucking up a couple of napkins, he mops off the bar and his hand, before accepting the cigarette and taking a drag. "What you been up to, boychik?"

"Don't talk about how I look like my ma doin' anything when I know you have a taste for my ma." Vitale huffs at him, not even apologizing for making Elmo spill his beer. What's it matter? He'll buy Elmo a new one. "Well, I've been looking at some apartments."

Elmo just grins at Vitale, unrepentant. Repentance is for Catholics. "You are?" he says, surprised and pleased. "You're movin' out, then!"

"Well, not just for me, though, I am looking for that reason too. I won't ever be able to escape my family, even if I do leave, they'll still call me back, I'll still be mixed in with the business." He says bitterly, downing the rest of his whisky coke quick, like it might take the bad taste out of his mouth. "I was thinking that I could find you one too, you know?"

"Eh. For now," Elmo says. "You'll get outta it someday. Glad you won't have to be around your pop so much, meanwhile." His eyebrows go up in genuine confusion. "Me, an apartment? What for?"

"Well, so you don't have to share a sleepin' place with your garage, you know it's supposedly bad to sleep where you work, I'll bet that's why you always look exhausted, Sparks. I could find you somewhere nice, or even set you up in Mutant Town so you could be close to JP's garage if you wanted." Vitale offers, tapping the bar for another round, because the alcohol barely burns his throat before it disappears, leaving just the taste to linger.

Elmo offers the cigarette back, but now he's frowning. "I don't have to do that, V, I want to do that. I like it. Take me forever if I had to drive somewhere else every time I wanted to mess with something. And I don't look exhausted! And even if I did, that's not why."

Vitale frowns because Elmo is frowning, taking the cigarette back from Elmo and pulling a drag off of it before he answers. "Lots of people commute to where they work, Elmo, it really wouldn't be that bad and I could find you somewhere not too far from your garage if that's a concern of yours. You do look exhausted. You always look exhausted, constantly. You're always overworking yourself and I can't pull that off of you." Vitale lectures him, even so, gives the cigarette back to Elmo and taps the bar for Elmo to get him another drink. "It wouldn't hurt my pocket any, you know that. I thought you would like this idea."

"Nothing hurts your pocket," Elmo grumbles. "So what?" He was halfway through his (slightly spilled) beer, but now he puts it down so he can look at Vitale, brow furrowed. "That ain't the point, V."

Vitale frowns back at Elmo, aggressively taking his cigarette back to take another drag off of it before he offers it to Elmo again. "What is the point then, Elmo? I thought that this would make you happy? You can keep the garage, Sparks, I just want to set you up somewhere nice." He says, voice raising a little, irritated that Elmo seems to be irritated.

Elmo flushes in sudden shame and anger. Vitale has hit a sensitive point. "So I should be embarrassed?" he snaps. "I don't have a nice place and that should be a problem? I'm not a goddamn charity case, V!"

"No, that's not what I'm saying!" Vitale defends, hands moving up in a surrender, but his voice pitches louder too. "No, I don't think you're a charity case, that's not what I'm saying. I just.. thought.. I wanted to take care of you is all! Why are you so angry? No, you don't need to be embarrassed! I didn't say that. That's not what I meant at all!"

"You take care of me all the time! You take care of the entire team!" Elmo argues. He's raising his voice too, because Vitale needs company in yelling. "Why do you wanna buy stuff all the time? None of us care about that! We care about you!"

"Because it's the only thing I have to offer you besides healing you! Why are you fuckin' angry with me? This could help you! I would set everything up, get you all the shit you need, then you would be safe and well, maybe even be able to sleep better. It doesn't hurt me to spend money on you." He smashes the cigarette in the tray so hard he burns his fingers but barely feels it. "How else am I supposed to take care of you? What else do I have to give you but money? Why the fuck… What.. What do you…? This is all I can give you. What… Why won't you just… I don't. I don't know what I'm doing! I've never fucking cared about anyone before, but you and JP and Severin, I love you. I love you so much so why won't you let me take care of you. Why? Why are you… why.. what am I supposed to do?" Vitale's voice grows in octave and then he won't look at Elmo, facing away as he stands up abruptly, hands trembling. When he speaks again, his voice is watery. "Nothing, Nothing about you is anything to be ashamed of. Your garage is groovy as hell, Elmo. I just want- I just don't know… Why? Why would you give a fuck about me? It's a bad fucking idea, Elmo."

"WE LOVE YOU TOO!" Elmo shouts it so loud that people all over the bar look over at them for a moment. It's just the two most flamboyant members of the X-Ternals having a family disagreement, though, so everybody returns to what they're doing. Except JP, who has to yell "You tell 'im, Sparkplug!" Elmo whips him a New York salute, to his great amusement. "None a that is true, V! Don't you say that about yourself!" Elmo insists, furious. And then he grabs Vitale and hugs him tight. The angriest hug. "And don't you tell me who I can give a fuck about! AND—and, shit, don't cry, you're gonna make me cry too!"

"SHUT UP, ELMO." Vitale shouts back, sure to make everyone in the club continue to give them the eye. What he wouldn't give for a combative mutation right now, he'd blast the whole club for looking at them funny. He lifts his chin to glare at them all, and that's when Elmo will catch the tears shimmering in the young man's eyes. He goes to push Elmo when he comes in for a hug, fighting Elmo's hold for a minute. "Don't fucking tell me what to, you just yelled at me in front of the whole bar for fucking caring about you, you're still fucking yelling at me. I'll cry if I goddamn please, you asshole. I just want to keep you safe, I don't know when.. I don't… I might not always.. be around, I could keep you safe, no one would hurt you if I put you up somewhere. I just wanna fuckin' take care of you and maybe I don't fuckin' know how to do it but with money but it's all I got. It's all I fuckin' got to give you Elmo. It's all I got to give you and Sev and JP, that's it. I'm nothin' else, you hear me? I'm just a wallet and a fuckin' bandaid, I wasn't supposed to be sentient, I wasn't supposed to have a heart, I'm supposed to be a callous! I'm supposed to.. I just…" And then his voice trails off to crack on a sob, in fucking public, into Elmo's shoulder as he stops fighting Elmo's hold and instead pulls the smaller man tight against him. The noise /rips/ out of Vitale, like it's been stuck in there tight for years.

True to his word, Elmo's chest hitches too. "C'mon, it's okay," he says, a little fogged up, and strokes Vitale's hair. "None a that is true," he repeats, quieter. "It just ain't." Someone nearby is asking if they need help. Elmo says, "We're okay, he just needs some air," pulling that off so smooth you'd never know his heart is shaking his entire ribcage. "Hey, V, c'mon, let's go cry outside, whaddayasay?" He joshes him some, urging him outside.

Vitale jerks away from Elmo's hand on his hair, mostly in panic at first, Vitale hasn't exactly had a good history with being touched when he's sobbing. He pulls in another shaky breath, allowing Elmo to half drag him outside. He seems far too nervous to come back to Elmo for another hug once they're outside but Vitale is crying /hard/. Elmo might have never seen anyone cry so hard, almost like years and years and years of tears are shaking out of his chest. All those times they forced him to take someone's broken bones, all those years of torture, all those years of hiding who he was, hiding inside, pours out of Vitale in a flood. He's crying so hard that it shakes his whole body. "I'm…sorry.. Spar.. I can't stop… I can't st..stop.." He stammers, between sobs he can't even try to choke.

Elmo says, urgent but gentle, "Hey, hey, I'm not gonna hit you." He takes the initiative and wraps his arms around Vitale again, rocking him. "I wouldn't hurt you for the world, Vushka. It's okay. Nobody's gonna bother us, you can cry all you want." Nobody is going to bother them after he gives them a megawatt glare, at least. "Hell, I'm sorry, Vitko, okay? I didn't mean to start fightin' with ya."

Vitale grabs Elmo tight when Elmo pulls him back into a hug. He doesn't fight it this time, letting Elmo even rock him. "You.. don't.. need to be sorry.. I'm bad… at all of this.. being your.. friend.. I'm sorry.." He stammers between hard sobs that shake the both of them. "Never meant to make you feel ashamed… I didn't.. I didn't… I just… scared.. what happens.." He takes a long moment to pull in breath between sobs to try and form a complete sentence, just fucking one would be nice. "I'm scared, what will happen when I'm not around any more? Who's going to take care of you and Severin and JP when I'm not there? I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I made you angry, I'm so sorry I throw my wallet at everything. I don't know what I'm doing, I just.. I just love you, no one ever taught me how to do it."

Elmo tries to hush the cruel words. "Stop, V, that ain't true. It ain't true." Holding him tight, he strokes his back, trying to soothe him. "We're never lettin' you go anywhere. Not without us. You know that, right?" Not the kind of 'not around anymore' that Vitale meant, but he's deliberately ignoring it. "You're stuck with us."

The hand on his back makes Vitale flinch hard at first, and can tell Elmo precisely what's happened to Vitale before when he's cried. He pulls in a deep breath, laying his cheek against Elmo's shoulder as he tries to catch his breath. "Not what I meant. You knew that. You can't follow me everywhere, Sparks. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, for yellin' at you. I won't do anythin'.. I won't buy anythin' any more if you don't want me to I just… How do I do it, Elmo? How do I take care of you?"

"Buddy," Elmo says, sounding honestly confused. "You do all the time. Every time you yell at JP 'n' me for doing something stupid. Which is a lot, right? Every time you come steal me from the garage to take me to Coney Island or whatever you got in mind. Remember that time you sicced your ma on me because you knew it'd embarrass me? All that stuff ain't stuff you do because you got money or you can heal. It's all just you." He keeps petting Vitale, through the flinch, proving what he said, that he's not going to hit him. His thin frame is shivery and wound tight, his throat thick with struggling to keep from crying.

Vitale laughs at that, the sound still weak and sad, but it's a laugh. "Well if you'd stop doing literally every stupid thing in the book compiled of stupid things then I wouldn't have to yell at you all the time. I sicced her on you because you were sad and I knew her fussing all over you would make you feel better." Vitale says, pulling back to wipes at his eyes, red rings beneath Vitale's eyes before he just yanks Elmo back into a tight hug, hiding his face back in Elmo's shoulder again. "I don't want to leave you with nothing, Sparks. I want you to be safe without me. I've never… I've had a family before you guys. The one I was born into, it doesn't count."

"You're not gonna leave us with nothing, because you're not gonna leave us. What talk is this?" Elmo scolds gently. "You know anybody's gotta go through us to get to you. We're not gonna let anybody hurt you. Not ever, so forget about it."

"Not all of them, El, not all of them. I won't let anyone do anything to hurt you either, I would take a bullet for any of you. I have for JP." He chuckles at that a little, and then pulls back to wipe his eyes again. "Alright, yes sir. No more of this talk."

Elmo goes still. The puzzle is clicking into place in his overheated brain. What JP said to him about Vitale's father. All this not-so-veiled talk of dying from Vitale. And 'not everybody' needs to face the team to hurt Vitale? There's an answer here and it's one he does not like. "V," he says, letting him pull back, but gripping his upper arms and looking him in the face, serious and intent, "don't go back there. If…if…" he, loved child, can't even say it. "If it's that bad, just…don't. We've got your back."

Vitale allows Elmo to hold him in place but he shakes his head. "I can't just not go home, Elmo, it's not that simple. I sure wish it was, but they… he's my dad. It's my duty as his son to do this for him. He and my mother gave me life." He says, looking down at Elmo's chest, refusing to meet his eyes. "It's not always that bad, but sometimes, I'm… I don't think he understands that I can't always take it all right away."

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