1965-07-12 - Elderflower Vodka
Summary: Adam and Halgrim talk about being old.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
Adam Halgrim 

Halgrim is in his lean-to, looking tired, surly, yet freshly bathed and re-clothed. They're threadbare offerings, baggy and ill-fitting but enough to keep him decent: a long-sleeved, old fashioned, pale gray linen shirt, faded denim jeans, and a pair of old, heavily-mended sandals. It's probably something borrowed from a Metropolis-dweller. There's no hint of what his worse half was up to after Adam slammed the manhole cover down—thankfully, because it no doubt smelled awful.

He's on the futon with his back to the wall formed by the building behind the lean-to. He has a plain, clear, chipped tumbler in one hand and a bottle of vodka with a Polish-language label on the ground next to him; one of those fancy kinds of bottles meant to resemble a cathedral. The bottle's under half full, while the tumbler has a full portion, which he's contemplating with a bitter, thoughtful expression.

Adam taps on the wood of the lean-to. "May I interrupt?" He has a thick parcel wrapped in paper and twine. "Some replacements," he says, offering it over. Inside are soft chambray shirts, slacks, and even socks and underwear.

Halgrim makes a low sound and sits up more properly. "Of course," he says, and gestures at the bottle. "If you care for vodka, I have some fine Polish elderflower and oakwood here, courtesy of the young men who run the cleaners down the street from me." He sets his glass aside to take the package, raising his eyebrows when he opens it and sees the contents. "Oh, Adam, you shouldn't have," he says, sad and fond. Sighing, he sets the box aside and has a drink. For a moment he regards Adam, then looks down into the glass. "It doesn't look like I managed to hurt you. I hope the same goes for Jebediah?"

"The summer stipend of an adjunct professor cannot be enough to cover such expenditures," Adam says, somewhat ironic, like universities should think about how often their employees will be shredding whole sets of clothes. "Jebediah insists on paying me for tutoring. But what use have I for it? Better I am able to pass it on at need." He bends himself inside and arranges all his long limbs. "He is well," he says, but he seems annoyed. "He attempted. To pet. You. I was required to step in."

"It's spare research money, effectivelywhatever the others can afford to have me help them with their work. Which is…not much, as you say. So, thank you. It has begun to eat into my finances, there's no denying." Halgrim has a drink and listens to Adam. His expression goes from nauseated to exasperated to frustrated. He scowls, refilles his glass. "What in hell would possess him to try that," he says, low and angry. "Whatwas it rolling on its back and panting? Lolling its tongue like a friendly shepherd?" He drinks again.

Adam sighs, a gust from enormous lungs. "He tried, for a moment, but he was as violent as ever. Our Jebediah simply found him enchanting." He doesn't go further into detail. Halgrim probably doesn't need to hear about it. "I have met a few other humans like him over the years. There always seem to be one every generation or so, who have no fear, and look at us as if we are gardens."

Halgrim grunts and mutters something under his breath in Swedish, and drains his glass. "Gardens," he says, in English again. "Ridiculous, the way some people throw life and health away for fascination." After a few seconds of being irritated, he shakes his head. "Thank you for protecting him from…it." He pours out more vodka, and glances up at Adam. "You said 'us'," he says, sounding amused.

Adam says, considering, "So I did. Are you not one of us?" He looks at Halgrim, his big ugly face thoughtful. "True, you are not like Morbius or myself. You can maintain the illusion. I know you hope to be free of him, the Fjorskar. We all feel the same, wishing that we could shed our inhumanity."

"I suppose I am," Halgrim says, sounding like the idea hadn't occurred to him. "Though I've given up much hope of…ever getting rid of it. I suspect I will have to count myself lucky to not be murdering people without knowing about it. Which, would be enough of an improvement that I could learn to accept the rest. I suppose we'll see what Mr. Constantine or that Sorcerer can come up with, when I next speak to one of them." He sips his drink and gives Adam as level a look as a man who holds more than his fair share of liquor can when he's three-fourths into a bottle of fine Polish vodka. "But that's not what I really meant. Are you telling me you have…groupies?"

Adam sighs again and this time it's unmistakeably rueful. "Yes. In the past, and now, with Jeb. There is always someone who cannot leave an old monster alone to brood over his fate." He gets out a collapsible tin cup and pours himself a drink. It's a delicate operation with his huge hands. "One or two have wanted more than to admire me. And now Jeb is one of those. I have never known how to manage them, and I'm no wiser now."

For a few seconds Halgrim just blinks. On the long list of possible things he'd expected Adam to say about monster groupies (which is a fascinating topic, and really not all that different than a cult to Fenris or Jormundandr, come to it), 'Jeb' and 'more than admire' was nowhere to be found. He squints into his glass, trying to determine if he's too drunk for this conversation, or, not drunk enough. Deciding it's the later, he downs the rest of his glass and refills it. The bottle is nearly empty now, but he's sure to have more. People with cast-iron livers know what it takes to drink themselves under the table.

Halgrim doesn't dive right into his new serving; he sits, studying Adam with intense scrutiny. "Did I misunderstand, or did you just imply that Jebediah feels more than just…fatherly admiration for you. As in," he gestures with his glass, somehow managing not to spill any, "romantically? Intimately?"

Adam mms. He sips the liquor, and smiles a little. "This tastes like the highlands in summer." He tips the cup back and forth, watching the clear vodka. "Jeb is a romantic. An artist with a lion's heart. I suspect he doesn't know what he wants, but I know. And I know I cannot give it to him."

Halgrim takes a contemplative sip. "Mmm, yes…it's spicy, but, sweet and heady." He taps the tumbler, eyes moving as he thinks. "Well, I can't say I've not found myself in a similar situation. I mean," he indicates Adam with his free hand, "not that anyonewell, that I know ofhas approached my houseguest with such intentions. But I've come across younger people who were *much* younger, and they didn't mean ill by their affections." He's quiet a moment, probably remembering those instances. "But too young is too young, and so inappropriate. As much as it often hurts them to hear that." He clears his throat. "Similarly, unless Jebediah…determines this for himself, you might have to have an awkward conversation with him." Halgrim's expression indicates he thinks this is likely, since 'teenager' and 'boy' equal 'oblivious to literally anything not written in a 50 foot tall neon letters'.

"He is eighteen," Adam says. Which explains it all. "And…there have been times when a man loving a man was acceptable, even en mode. We are not living in those times." He looks wryly at Halgrim. "If I am not a man for most other purposes, for this, it intensifies the crime. No, I'm afraid 'fatherly' is not Jeb's image of me. Nor you, for that matter."

"No," Halgrim says, to his vodka, "indeed we are not in those times." He seems suddenly very morose about something, and washes it away with a drink. Arching a brow, he says, "Are you certain? I clearly seem to recall receiving a gift from him with the express comment that he thought of us as fathers." He looks more amused than anything else. "Regardlesseighteen is entirely out of the question. The current societal mood and my…sitation not withstanding, I've never been comfortable with anyone being significantly younger than myself." He makes a face. "It's seldom any good. Even just for sextheir life experiences are too different, and they approach it from a wholly different perspective. Too much of a risk of either party being hurt." He sighs heavily. "Setting aside how I've no idea if it's even safe for me to do that right now."

"I'm afraid, my friend, you took that gift too literally," Adam says, and drains his cup. "I'm also afraid there's nothing we can do about it. He kissed me, and seemed to think it innocent enough." Doleful, he adds, "I am incapable of the act. As others before Jeb have discovered."

"Of course I took it literally," Halgrim says, his tone droll, "as an eighteen year old hasn't been sexually interesting to me for over two decades and won't be ever again." He coughs some when the topic of kissing comes up. "Did he? Well…perhaps in the south of America they consider it differently?" It's a weak attempt at sidelining Jeb;s intentions, and Halgrim clearly knows it, because he turns to the other topic with obvious interest. "No? They went to the trouble to create you but didn't even give you anything to use for that?"

Embarrassment is an odd emotion on Adam's craggy face, but there it is. "Ah, I am equipped. However, the urge is absent." He holds out the cup to Halgrim for more. "I've never understood Frankenstein's motives for what he did. He wanted a handsome son, virile too no doubt. He was disappointed, like many fathers." He's sardonic about it, rather than actively grieving. At least, today he is. Tomorrow might be different. "You do not have a wife or children," he says, "but you are well-made for it. Why not?"
"His loss, not yours," Halgrim says, and pours out for that state of affairs without hesitation. "Well, thank you, but—I've never had much urge to marry, man or woman. Though of course, only the later is legal in Sweden. I suppose I might not mind raising children with people I was intimate with. The…" He stops, and his gaze goes unfocused and distant. "Rolf was the closest I ever came to that. We'd discussed buying a pair of flats next to each other, or sharing a house, once one of us had a chair or a curatorship." He huffs a breath, intensely angry for a moment, and drinks more vodka. That seems to settle him some. "Maybe it's for the best I never did meet a woman and father children. Odds are they'd all be dead now too, by my own hand."

Adam puts his hand on Halgrim's back. "Perhaps it is cold comfort, but Fjorskar is the agent, not you. After coming to know you both, I can tell you with confidence, he is not you. He is an illness that needs a body to infect." Adam pauses, musing. "I am sorry," he ventures. "Sorry that he has done you so much harm, and those around you."

Halgrim leans back into Adam's hand and mmmms an agreement. "Thank you," he says. "I know it must…well. It must bother you, yes? That I want to be rid of him. To, as you said, cast off the monstrosity, go back to being just human. But if he is an illness, so to speak, I imagine he's one I must learn to live with. Including the things he has done when I'm not awake." He laughs a small, tired laugh. "Even if I were rid of him, none of what's passed changes. And who knows what else would. I can't imagine this," he taps the amulet where it sits beneath the threadbare shirt, "hasn't been doing things to me which I've yet to discover." He raises his glass. "The joys of being cursed," he says, and empties it.
"Lord, no," Adam says, sounding a little startled. "If I could have shed this form, could have put on the flesh of a mortal man, I would have wept for joy. No, you'll find no censure from me. You have the finest luck of us all. You can still live as a man lives, for the most part. Even Constantine cannot, although his monstrosity dwells within him, not without. You are still very human." He glances at the lump of the amulet, hidden beneath the shirt. "I expect you're right, and yet, what of it? We'll manage it when the time comes." He taps his cup to Halgrim's, in salute.

"It's true, I do get to keep my life. For the most part," Halgrim says. He's surprised to hear this about Constantine, and will no doubt be looking at him with new eyes when next they meet. "In fact there's a Sorcerer, I forget if I mentioned him to you. He found one of the beast's feathers, and used it to find me." He leans up and feels around on top of the 'UNICORN' crate, and produces a small business card, which he offers to Adam.

Dr. Stephen Strange
Medical Consulting and Esoteric Items
There's a phone number on the card as well. "I was going to call him and see if it was possible for him to establish some sort of proper communication with it. For, you, or myself…just anything, really. Do you know of him?"

Adam takes the card, which is about the size of a postage stamp in his fingers. "He is the Sorceror Supreme," he says, thick eyebrows rising. "His title means he maintains the magical structure of the universe. More than that I do not know. Magic has never been my expertise. But he can be trusted." He passes it back. "I am not surprised, I suppose, that he takes an interest in you. You are an irresistable puzzle for such men as he and Constantine."

Halgrim nods, setting the card on the crate again. Adam's opinion is, of course, what he was hoping for, and since it's positive, or at least not negative, he allows himself a small grain of hope. "Well then. If nothing else perhaps I can be a curiosity to them and not an affliction, and so hope that one or the other finds an answer for me without much trouble on their part." He leans back against the wall and shuts his eyes. Without realizing it, he slips from English to Swedish. "I think the vodka has won, Adam, and now I'll need to sleep. Thank you for drinking with me, my friend."

Adam looks at Halgrim with a curious expression—fond, intent, and protective. He replies, also in his old-fashioned, funny accented Swedish. "I will watch over you while you do."

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