1965-08-16 - What the Waitress Heard
Summary: Dinner and discussion of who deserves what.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
jebediah halgrim elmo 

A warm August evening in Saganaki's courtyard. The scent of the grapes is rich and sweet, the beehive is droning sleepily, and Elmo is walking into the courtyard backwards. He's talking animatedly, hands moving, to Halgrim. "C'mon, lemme spring for it, Grim. We don't even gotta call it a date." And teasing the older man, apparently.

Halgrim, dressed in a dark blue henley and dark brown khakis and walking a little behind Elmo, frowns, though not without some humor. "I'm pretty sure as the older person at this dinner I'm required to be the one paying for it, date or otherwise." Also, one of them is a (adjunct, underpaid, continuously short on clothes) professor and one of them is a mechanic, which is probably a thing, somehow.

Jebediah frequents Saganaki, not often to buy food but instead to visit one of his favorite people, most of which wound up here one way or another. This is one place that Jeb knew that he could find them. He arrives with a large bag in hand and as always, despite the fact that she no longer needs him, a kitten on his shoulders, much bigger than before. "Halgrim!" He calls excitedly when he sees that the exact man he wanted to see was here after all. Then he notices the other body. "Hello, Elmo."

Perhaps mercifully, Elmo isn't wearing that exceptionally fine suit. Today, it's mechanic clothes—t shirt, jeans, boots, just like every other working-class guy in New York. He's so skinny, thin tendoned arms with big scarred hands at the ends of them. "Jebkha!" he says, chipper, appearing not to notice that Jeb might be less than thrilled to see him. "Buttermilk got big!" He finds a table with the casual ease of someone who's here all the time.

"Jebediah, how are you," Halgrim says. He leans over to scratch the kitten under its chin. "And how is your familiar." He watches Elmo take a seat, and moves to join him in the opposite available chair, stretching out his long legs with a sigh. There's been a lot of sitting in his cramped office, and it's getting hard on his joints. As luck would have it, there's one more chair; he folds his hands and gives Elmo what can only be described as a mild, anticipatory Look.

Jeb is dressed in ripped jeans, a size too large, preowned. His t-shirt names a high school in faded letters, the color also a faded bright blue. He allows Halgrim to pet his kitten and she purrs very loudly to express her pleasure. "She is good, gettin' bigger all the time and turnin' into a real brat but she's my brat." Jebediah, surprisingly, doesn't take that empty seat. Perhaps someone has finally taught him some goddamn manners or he's learned them on his own. He worries his lower lip and looks at Elmo. He's not displeased that Elmo is there, just had wanted to talk to Halgrim and wasn't sure he was allowed if they were already together doing something. "Um… Mister Halgrim, sir, Ah brought you somethin' or a few somethin's. Ah hope they can help. Ah didn't mean'ta interrupt." He hands the bag to Halgrim.

Elmo may not pick up on much, but he picks up on that look Halgrim gives him. He clears his throat. "C'mere, Jeb, siddown. I'm takin' Grim to dinner because he ain't never feed himself. You eat too, okay? You're too thin." Like he should talk. He quiets when Jeb says he has something for Halgrim, looking at the bag curiously.

Halgrim smiles winningly at Elmo, and gestures at the seat. "As he says, Jeb, please join us. Though the matter of who is taking whom out for dinner is still open to debate." He cuts a platfully severe look at Elmo, maybe for calling him thin (ha), or maybe for attempting to claim he'll win the mad scramble for the check. "You're not interrupting in the least, and incredibly gracious for bringing me anything." Another glance at Elmo. "So I think it *will* have to be me."

Jeb gives Elmo a look, something like mistrust. Why does Elmo care how thin he is? Or why is he inviting him to sit down and join him in his dinner with Halgrim? "Well, alright, but it's you who is too damn thin." Though, Jeb is thinning, has been since he had fallen hard into his art and maybe even more so now, that Sam is gone. He reaches behind his shoulder to bring his cat down, setting her on his lap as he sits down. "Ah might have made them a little too big, but Ah figured better bigger than smaller." He gestures at the bag to Halgrim.

Inside he would find a few sweaters, a few plaid shirts, all handmade, and also, a handmade quilt though this one looks older, pre owned, pre loved.

Elmo says, "Eh," and tips over a hand, like, Jeb ain't lying. "We'll both eat and make Jay happy, how's that?" He grins cheerfully at Halgrim. Something has changed between them, but it's subtle. "What'd he get for ya, Grim?" Elmo sits forward to peek into the bag.

A waitress shuffles by to take a drink and appetizer order (dolmades, hummus, and water, and for himself Halgrim sticks with a simple ginger ale, in case he doesn't manage to grab the check before Elmo does), after which Halgrim peers into the bag. "Oh, Jebediah, you don't need to…" He sighs, rubs the back of his neck, and pulls out one of the plaid shirts so Elmo can see. Handmade or not, it's a perfectly good shirt in red, black, and white. Maybe fall in New York will even be cold enough for Halgrim to wear it. Of course, the reason he *needs* clothes won't be clear to Elmo, but Halgrim tells Jeb, "Thank you," and takes one of his hands, giving it a little shake.

Jeb still seems to be hesitant about this Elmo but he doesn't argue. "Alright, alright, anything to make Jay stop.. um.. what's that word you use? Kah-vestin'?" Indicating he does indeed listen to Elmo when he speaks, picking up on his vernacular. He orders a water, not wanting to charge anyone any more money than he has to to a dinner he wasn't originally invited to. He loves dolmades though, so he orders some of them. They do make the best here.

"You're welcome. My mama taught me how to make them, needed help keepin' us all clothed." When Halgrim takes his hand, Jeb seems to be confused. He leans close to Halgrim. "Are we not allowed to hug in front of Elmo?" He tries to whisper.

"Kvetchin'," Elmo says, helpfully. "Hey, those'll be good when autumn kicks in." No, he has no idea whatsoever why Halgrim needs a lot of extra clothes. He blinks at, uh, that question from Jeb. "Wh—why wouldn't ya be? I'm not datin' him. And even if I was!" The dolmades arrive (they're very popular and Lambert always has plenty) and he plucks one up to bite into it with a happy sigh.

Carefully, trying not to start laughing (a lot), Halgrim says, "You may take the opportunity to hug me, or not, at your discretion." He manages to keep a straight face, and takes a bite of dolmades and a sip of ginger ale. He blows out a breath at Elmo. "Your brother of significantly advanced years, should you have one, *maybe*," he says.

"Ah dunno, he didn't hug me. He shook my hand, that's like a serious gentleman thing to do. Ah hug him sometimes, so Ah dunno. AH wouldn't think you would have a problem with it given you.. uh.. you know." He doesn't want to say anything convicting Elmo of being queer in public. "You're a good guy. Ah just don't know, Ah don't know… Ah'm gonna shut up now and hug you." He gets up out of his seat, picking up his cat and setting her in Elmo's lap instead, knowing Elmo adores her. He wraps his arms around Halgrim's neck, giving him a tight hug.

Elmo is sympathetic; Jeb's trying to do right by him. "I've kissed guys out here in the courtyard, Jeb, and I ain't the only one. Bert keeps it so we don't hafta hide here." He grins at Halgrim. "Well, I do got a couple older sisters. Both smarter'n me, by the way. Naomi's an academic type like you, too. Rachel builds engines. For rockets." Buttermilk arrives in his lap and he coos at her, "Hey bubbeleh."

Halgrim returns the hug unflinchingly. "I do appreciate your concern," he says once he's released Jeb, "but as Elmo says, this is one of the safer public places for us. Not, maybe, as safe as parts of Mutant Town would be, but it's better than many." The waitress returns returns to take a proper order, and departs again, discrete as always. Halgrim gestures at Jeb. "Now, how have you been doing. With your studies, and your art, and the rest."

"You kissed guys in here?" Jeb asks, shocked. He presses a kiss to Halgrim's temple before he sits back down. He doesn't take his kitten away from Elmo, allows her to stay purring loudly in Elmo's lap. "There's a blanket in there too, it's one 'a mine but Ah thought that maybe that would bring you comfort, make your place, wherever the heck it is, feel more like home to you."

"Ah'm doin'. Got plenty of time to study now that Sam ain't in the house botherin' me." Jeb tries to play it off like he isn't badly missing and worrying about his older brother. "Ah remember you tellin' me about your sisters, real smart just like you. Ah bet they're much prettier than you though."

Elmo takes the initiative and orders wine along with dinner. Because HE'S paying, after all. He strokes Buttermilk's cheek fluff, fond as anything. "They are," he agrees with Jeb, totally amused. "Smarter'n me, prettier'n me, and maybe most importantly, a lot older'n me."

"I could use a good blanket," Halgrim agrees. "I'm sure Freyja wouldn't mind one to cover in her fur either. That's what always happens to them, sooner or later. It's good that you're studying, but make time to relax as well." He gives Jeb a brief, concerned look. "Don't work and study yourself to exhaustion." He holds that expression, for a moment, sits back with his ginger ale. "How *much* older," he asks Elmo. "You're, what, half my age?" He scratches his chin. "Still — a rocket egineer, you say?" Is he joking? Probably. Maybe. It's hard to tell.

"Well, cain't be too much prettier than you that's probably illegal." Jeb says, innocently, like he doesn't even think about how that might be considered flirting. "Well, yeah, she has to make sure everyone knows she owns it and you, of course." He smiles at Halgrim, even wider when he seems to be considering dating one of Elmo's sisters. He takes a dolmade, sticking it in his mouth before he can say something else stupid and barely contains a moan at how delicious it is.

"Rocket engineer! She works for NASA, buildin' them real big ones to get into space." Elmo gets excited about it, sitting up and grabbing the air. "Maybe we already got Asgardians and Kree and all showin' up, and maybe they got better ways of going through space, but we're gonna do it OUR way. With explosives." There's that mad-scientist grin. Desperately unstable rocket fuel, engines as big as houses—this is stuff Elmo's into. And, apparently, his sister's into it too. "Rachel's, uh, thirty-three," he adds, thinking about it. "Naomi's thirty seven. They were born in Germany. I was born here, after the war." Which can really only mean one thing: his parents fled Germany when things were bad.

He's taking a sip of wine when Jeb says that he's so pretty it's almost illegal, and coughs. Says, "Jebkha!" in a complaining tone.

Halgrim listens intently — the waitress comes and goes with their dinners — interested not just in the sisters but the rest as well. Though, as he considers the age gap, something sad flits through his eyes, there and gone in a second. "Thirty-three is," he waves his hand. "If someone is in their early thirties and expressing interest in me I wonder that there aren't other people their own age for them to consider. Thirty-seven, that's about right." Then Jeb is calling Elmo pretty and Elmo is losing his mind about it, and Halgrim laughs into his drink, almost spilling it in the process.

"What?! You are pretty! Don't act like you ain't know it. You does." Jeb huffs back at Elmo when he's complained at and then he huffs at Halgrim. "Hey, there's plenty of reasons why people would want you, Halgrim. Y'all gettin' on my last nerve with all this talk. Elmo, yer prettier than the stars. Halgrim, you hotter than the sun, which is also a big fat star, so you both as gorgeous as constellations and worthy of all the love and affection in the world. You should take all of it, okay? Every bit that's handed to y'all because you /deserve/ it."

Elmo's got his hand over his eyes, red as the wine. "Jeb. For God's sake. Your brother is pretty. JP is pretty. You're pretty. I'm a short Jew with a big nose." This despite him having multiple guys and at least one girl interested in him. He just can't see it.

Halgrim struggles to contain himself at Jeb's outburst. He clears his throat, trying to remain stoic in the face of Elmo's prevarications. It's a good thing he stuck to the ginger ale. "You're a wonderful young man, Jebediah, but, when you're not twenty years old anymore, you…" He gestures with his ginger ale glass. "You can't just say yes to everyone, particularly when they're so much younger than you. The difference in life experience, and what it does to you—" He stops abruptly, considers his ginger ale, and drinks some. It helps him recover his mood. "It's not a good idea," he finishes. Looks askance at Elmo. "But Elmo's probably fine to say yes to whomever."

"Ah ain't /pretty/, Elmo. You is pretty and you shut up about it. Don't you tell me ever again that you ain't pretty. You can be short and Jewish and have a big nose and be pretty. Ah have had it. Ah'm gonna tell Jay that you say you ain't pretty and he'll get on your case for real and you'll listen to him." Jeb sternly chastises him. "And you can date who you like, you can have who you want. If you want someone and they want you then you let them have you and you don't try to reason yourself out of it. We young, now, right? So take the love. Take all of it. Live your life to the fullest. And, you need to take a gol'damn break. Yer workin' yerself to the bone. Go on vacation with Jay. Let him take you fishin' or campin' or something. Let him show you how to slow the hell down."

"Alright, fine, Halgrim, you can't date every single person that likes you, that's fine. Ah'll give you that but it ain't mean that the people that are old enough are people you ain't worthy of. You're worthy of bein' loved." He grabs Halgrim's hand. "Yer. Worthy. Of. Bein'. Loved. Halgrim."

Elmo sets the wineglass down and then just buries his face in his hands. "You been talkin' to JP," he mumbles, "that's exactly what he tells me, too." He's red all the way down into the collar of his shirt. "Grim, you ain't helping."

Halgrim squeezes Jeb's hand in response. "Thank you, Jebediah," he says with sincerity, but also regret, because as they both know quite well, there is a particular part of him for whom that statement doesn't — or at least, from Halgrim's own perspective, can't — hold.

Absently, Halgrim adds, "JP sounds like an astute person," with a sideways look at Elmo that indicates he's happy to be of service.

"No, Ah ain't been talkin' to JP but if you want me to, Ah wouldn't mind. You want my number? You can give it to him, we can do all kinds of talkin'. Some about you, some not about you. Ah'm more than willin' to take him off your hands for a couple days if he's really botherin' you. He's hotter than sin and sinnin' is precisely what Ah would like to do with him." Jeb hadn't even been drinking, that was quite bold of him, perhaps he was getting braver.

"He's my partner," Elmo says to Halgrim, sighing. 'Partner' means something very different than it will in future decades; he doesn't mean 'gay lover', but rather business partner. "One of the guys I'm seein'." …But that too. And then, the LOOK he gives Jeb, eyes getting wider and wider as Jeb keeps talking. "Are you fukkin' JOKING me? No! I am not giving you JP's—he doesn't even have a number, our payphone got exploded, but NO! I am not gonna hear about it from Jay when he breaks your heart!"

It's a near thing, but Halgrim doesn't choke on his ginger ale. The waitress shows up, thankfully *after* Elmo has defended the honor of Jeb's heart from the scoundrel ways of JP, to take any empty plates and refill the waters. She's gone in a handful of seconds, and by then Halgrim has managed to stop laughing silently at Elmo and Jeb.

"So, a heartbreaker, is he?" Halgrim shakes his head at Jeb. "Careful with those sorts, Jebediah — the sex is wonderful but the rest…" He winces, has some hummus and pita and washes it down with water.

"Everybody around me in relationships, my damn brothers could have all of New York and Kentucky and probably the whole damn planet. Everybody keep tellin' me that Ah could do the same, but clearly Ah cain't and Ah mean, what you think if Ah wanna sin with him all night Ah'm gonna fall in love with him? Ah didn't fall in love with the other guy. It's stupid for me to fall in love with anybody. All the people Ah want already got better people." Jeb sighs leaning back in the chair and then deciding to push away from the table. "And it's… it's fine.. was a joke. JP is hot, that part was true, the rest was a joke. Buttermilk, c'mere."

"I couldn't keep from falling in love with him," Elmo mutters, abashed when Jeb scolds him. He scoops up Buttermilk to pass her over to Jeb. "Maybe it was stupid, but I couldn't help it." Meaning, so Jeb won't have better luck trying to manage JP's particular blend of drop-dead sex appeal and New Orleans romance. Probably. "Sorry. Look, if you wanna show up at the garage and make a pass, I won't stand in your way."

Halgrim glances between Jeb and Elmo. He rubs Buttermilk behind her ears as she's handed over, observing, "There's not exactly anything wrong with *not* being in one, Jebediah." Of course, his perspective on that is more than a little skewed. "You can, in fact, sleep with people and leave it at that."

"No, Ah don't wanna make a pass at him. Ah don't wanna make a pass at anybody, Elmo, Ah don't know what Ah want but Ah was makin' a joke. It's fine, you ain't gotta apologize because Ah'm upset because Ah'm an idio.." He casts a side eye to Halgrim and stops himself. "Because Ah'm foolish. Just.. my brother leavin' and everythin' got me on edge Ah guess and Ah wish Ah had someone to lean on the way Jay does. Someone who could distract me. Art and studyin' when Ah'm really bad at studyin', it don't always help."

"Ah do, Mister Halgrim. Ah do just sleep with people and leave it at that. Ain't no one want more from me right now and that's fine." Jeb picks his kitten up and transfers her back to his shoulders.

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