1965-06-21 - Petals and Blackberries
Summary: Carson puts Halgrim to work at his Community Garden and introduces Elmo to his garden.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
halgrim elmo carson 

Carson is putting his final touches on the garden before he turns in for the night. It had been another successful day. He's currently conversing with the tomatoes and potatoes, sitting cross legged and barefoot in the soil between them, a half full bucket of random vegetables. He's wearing some beat up shorts, a dirt smudged shirt that may have been red at some point but has now dulled to a pink, likely from frequent exposure to the sun. There's a smudge of soil on his nose.

The community garden is a rather new addition to Mutant Town but it bore no gates, no locks, nothing to keep people out when Carson wasn't around. There were even buckets sitting out for people who had not brought anything of their own to collect the vegetables and frutis he had to offer. A stack of dirty pillows for anyone who wanted to protect their knees, various pairs of gloves hung up as well.

Halgrim's odd sunburn has just about resolved itself; he's down to peeling and that unfortunate blotchy look that says 'SOMEone took a day at the beach a little too far' but which is otherwise easy to pass off in the summer as an unfortunate lack of sunscreen. Which is precisely what he's been doing, because it works. Who wouldn't believe a man with a Swedish accent when he says he fell asleep on an unshaded hill in the afternoon on one of these long, bright days at the start of summer? They've all done it themselves once or twice.

He's largely stuck to the digging, which doesn't make as much use of Carson's particular skillset and which he's been doing in a professional capacity for over two decades anyways. The gloves are his own, as is the wide-brimmed, canvas hat he's using to keep the sun off himself. Something about him keeps most of the folks who come and go from interacting with him much, but if he's taken notice of it, he says nothing. He's back to his usual jeans, plaid, and shirt aesthetic, all of which are glorously dirty.

Elmo has been meaning to go investigate what this new thing going on in the M.T. was. He's got the chance to knock off work, for a while anyway, and come see what is going on. So here he is, walking up with that brisk New Yorker 'don't talk to me, I'm busy and you're crazy' stride. He stops before the lot becomes dirt, looking at Halgrim and Carson with curiosity and amusement. "You guys doin' some farming?"

Carson looks over at Halgrim after he's done conversing with the plants. "Hey, man, you were so much help today, I'm glad you came out, even if you were healing from some kinda burn. I don't have any healthy facts to supply you with about rolling around in fire other than you maybe shouldn't do it, it's probably not good for your health." Carson teases? It certainly sounds like it might be an attempt at teasing at least. "You should fill a tub with oatmeal, will stop the itching."

When he hears another familiar voice, he looks up. "Ah, Elmo, how are you tonight? We were just finishing up, actually. We're just reducing the use of non-renewable energy and conserving water, really." He winks at Elmo, or he tries, it's more like a prolonged blink.

In between rapid applications of his shovel, Halgrim reminds Carson, "I *slept* in the fire, I didn't roll in it. Never fear, I do not have plans to do so again." He straightens from the trough he's dug and waves a hand at Elmo. There's a canteen sitting in the shade of an obliging tomato plant; he grabs it, takes a long drink from it, and offers it to Carson. "*He's* farming—gardening, if you like. I am doing what could be generously called 'moving dirt', which is fine. I've been doing it in one way or another for years now, so I like to think I'm good at it. Lund University even thinks so." He looks around them at the patch of earth and green in the middle of the city. "I didn't ever expect to putting it to use so far from the field, but every day is a surprise, it seems."

Elmo looks back and forth between Carson and Halgrim, like he's trying to work something out. His eyebrows are tilted up. Whatever it is, he decides not to dwell on it. "And there ain't even any boring Viking artifacts in this dirt," he says to Halgrim. "Whatcha growin' here, Carson? It all looks like plants to me."

"Okay, well, Halgrim, pal, I would highly suggest not sleeping in fire either." Carson teases some more, hitting Halgrim with a smile now. "You're doing gardening too, you are moving the soil to place it in a better place for my plants to find purchase in and grow. Quite helpful, you were today." He insists. He looks back over to Elmo and rises from his place in the dirt. "You are actually incorrect, these are all plastic, this is a public art display." He teases and waves Elmo in. "Come in, come in. Just watch your step, I've taught the tomatoes to bite. This is a community garden, I help supply the mutants here with food, healthy food because sometimes going to the grocery store is more hassle than it should be. I.. I suppose you could say boost the nutritional value of all of the fruits and the vegetables here, so that just having one could sustain you for an entire day."

"I'll be sure not to," Halgrim assures Carson. He takes up a damp towel that's draped on a line supporting strings of beans and sweet peas, and wipes his face and neck with it. "No Viking artifact is boring, Elmo. Not even the toilets. You can learn a great deal from something as simple as a spoon." At Carson's explanation that one could go for a day on a single fruit or vegetable, Halgrim leans in and peers at the heavy clusters of blackberries, still ripening, on a carefully-contained, thorny vine in a large bucket.

Elmo checks the soles of his boots before actually coming in. "Been in the garage all day, wanna be sure I'm not tracking antifreeze on your plants," he tells Carson. "No kiddin', you mean you grow plants like lembas bread?" He joins Halgrim in peering at the blackberries. And grins at him. "Sure, the spoon says 'Sven ate soup here' and you spend two weeks translating it, gonna give yourself a heart attack it's so exciting."

"So take your shoes off, Elmo. Shoes are actually discouraged in the garden." He wiggles his own tanned toes in Elmo's direction, before he beckons him in again. He looks over at "Though I do make all my plants rather resistant to the elements, they're strong." He looks back to Halgrim and notices that Halgrim looking at his blackberries and he walks over to pick one and hold one out to Halgrim, offering it to him. "The little berries are hard to make sustainable for a full day, but I've got them to the point that they can count for one whole meal. The bigger vegetables and fruits I can pack more nutrients into." He explains.

Halgrim gives Elmo a wry, sideways look. "Not about that part, no. But perhaps we find the spoon is made from a specific breed of yew tree, and that breed can be traced to a distant location, and there we find another site which we hadn't yet catalogued. And now we know that, somehow, goods changed hands between the Vikings in these places — or the Vikings themselves moved from one of these places to another." He accepts the berry from Carson, turns it this way and that. He gives it a nibble and grimaces. "Still a bit tart—maybe in another week or so, when they've ripened." He hesitates. "Unless you can also make them ripe? Or is that a different…process?"

Elmo shakes his head at Carson, grinning shyly at him. "Nah, that's great for you rugged outdoors types. Not my best look." He looks unrepentant and cheery back at Halgrim. "Okay, that part sounds pretty interesting. I used to—" He stops, cheer fading. "Well, never mind." Suddenly he's pulling out some little bit of metal from a pocket and fiddling with it, concentrating on it. "Tell us some more about yer garden, huh Carson?"

"Not that one now that you've eaten it but yes, I can accerelate their growth." He does just that, the berries deepening in color right before both of their eyes. He pulls one off again and offers it back to Halgrim and then also pulls another one off. "Hey, pretty eyes up, Elmo, catch." He says to get his attention and once he has it, tries to toss the berry to Elmo. "What would you like to know? I'm an open book."

Halgrim studies Elmo for a moment. Having an Issue one isn't interested in discussing in front of god and everyone with people you barely know is something he can relate to on intimate level, so he gives Elmo a private, sad smile — there and gone in a moment, an acknowledgment meant for him alone — and takes another sip from his canteen. He buries his partially-eaten berry next to the base of its parent plant (who doesn't need more blackberry bushes!) and accepts the fully ripe one from Carson. He nibbles, nods decisively. "Very nearly perfect." He pops it into his mouth and says, "You should see if there's a vitner here. You could produce some of your own wines."

Elmo flicks a glance at Halgrim, meeting his eyes for only a second in gratitute. He looks up, startled, and immediately blushes when he realizes Carson said that thing about his eyes. "Carson!" he protests, red. "Why!" But he catches the berry neatly, with enough care that he doesn't crush it. "We got Lambert, he makes wine. Oh man, imagine the wine he could make with mutant fruit." Rather than enjoy this idea, it seems rather to alarm him. "Maybe that ain't such a good idea." He turns the berry over in his long scarred fingers. "Wow. You could feed most of the M.T. People here can't buy that much, yannow."

"I do know, that's why my garden exists. They come here and take what they need and I grow more by the morning so if they tell others, there is more for me to provide their friends. I would like to keep it strictly mutants but I do know there are homeless that are starving as well and I won't turn a hungry mouth away, especially when they need to take so little from me in order to fill their stomachs." Carson explains, smiling slightly, amused at the chastisement from Elmo about the compliment, amused by the way it had colored his skin. "Well, I could also change the benefits of the fruit so you could make wine from it and it could have healing benefits or I mean, I could just have it get you drunk faster as well. I could change the taste, there's a lot that I could do with the fruits." He pulls a petal from his pocket, one that best matches the color in Elmo's cheeks and blows it towards Elmo, it multiples and Elmo has petals blow past him, ruffling his hair as they go by. He turns back to Halgrim with a smile. "What would you say your favorite fruit was, Handsome?"

"Does he?" Halgrim looks thoughtful. "Well, I suppose that can't be a surprise, can it…" He scratches his beard. "You could do a mix of mutant and non-mutant fruit, if dosage was a concern." He raises his eyebrows at Carson, amused, and thinks over the question. "I can't say I have a specific favorite, to be honest. The seasons come and go and give us a lovely variety. It would be a shame to favor any one over the other." He blinks at the petals dancing through Elmo's hair, and hides a laugh with one hand. No need to embarras him more than he probably is.

Elmo startles a little when the petal coming at him suddenly becomes many, many petals, twirling and breezing around him. He holds still, as if the petals were a flock of butterflies that might be injured, and gives Carson a look that's part aggravated and part reluctant pleasure. "…Okay, that was the queerest thing to happen to me all week," he says, voice pitched low in case of passers-by, but he's clearly decided Carson and Halgrim are safe to say these things to. Especially Carson. With the petals.

"Yes, a pleasant a surprise, you think you'll be getting drunk and instead you eliminate your carpal tunnel. I think that certainly won't lead to any problems or complaint from customers." He teases, leaning against one of the posts by Halgrim, casually close to him. "Well, I aimed to impress you by changing one fruit to taste as your favorite, now what will I do to win you over, Halgrim?" He teases.

When Elmo says that was the queerest thing to happen to him all wekk, Carson laughs, hard. "Just this week?" Elmo has been left with pretty pink petals tangled in his hair. "My, Elmo, what has happened every week before this one?"

Halgrim can't stop himself from outright laughing at Elmo's reaction. His hand does little to smother it, either, but at least he's not drawing unwanted attention. "Oh, there's no need to ask the man to divulge *all* his secrets. A little mystery never hurts." He sobers, saying, "I suppose having the fruits juxtaposed like that could be amusing. Tastiung an apple as an orange, that sort of thing, to have an odd pairing of texture and flavor. But I'm just as happy with them tasting as they do." He lifts his canteen and gives Carson a bland look. "And I've no idea what would be gained from winning me over." He drains the canteen and caps it. There's a certain tension to how he's holding himself, a sense of containment and rigid boundaries that he's working very hard to not broadcast too loudly. It can't be avoided, though; always there's that ever-present notion that despite all appearences he's not the safest person to be around.

Elmo shakes his head, trying to toss his hair free of petals. It doesn't work. He sighs, and gives Carson a sly sideways glance. Carson's flirtation has cheered him up from whatever depressed him, even though he's still blushing the same rosy shade as the petals. "That's right. A gentleman never tells, huh? At least, not while he's sober." Grim is now the one who's suddenly sad, and Elmo not only notices those boundaries being enforced, he actually tries to cover for him. By biting into the blackberry he's still holding, deliberately showing off. His eyebrows go up. "Petals, usually they don't taste like this till August. Nice work."

"Well, that's part of the fun isn't it? Finding out what's to be gained. Though, honestly, I can already tell there's plenty to be gained. You're a bright, strong, handsome man but you've been hurt by something and well, I can tell a soft or… rather hard no when I see one." Carson raises his hands in surrender and looks to Elmo at the compliment and the… nickname and finds a somewhat shy smile on his face. "Well thank you, did you know that blackberries contain copper? It's essential for bone metabolism as well as the production of both white and red blood cells in the body." He offers, stumbling a little over his words.

Between Elmo's cover and Carson's withdrawl, Halgrim looks like he has no idea how to feel. He spends a minute regaining his composure, and of course it helps that their flirting is adorable and provides a distraction from his reaction, which is turmoil personified. As a man who already has more than his fair share of turmoil going on, it's not the best mood to be in, but it's also nothing new. So he rolls with it, waiting until he feels like he's not going to open his mouth and give a truly idiotic excuse for leaving and flee. At that point he's back to trying to hide his smile over Carson's attempts to remain coherent when handing out plant facts.

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