1965-08-23 - How Does One Do the "Romance"
Summary: Carson meets Jay at the community center while dropping off a delivery, Elmo runs away from another grandmother trying to set him up with a life. Shenanigans ensue.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
halgrim carson 


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The community center and Carson's garden went hand in hand with each other and Carson didn't quite frequent the community center per se, but he did occasionally deliver cartons of fresh vegetables (with their chemical make up bumped so that they were more filling and could feed someone for an entire day who couldn't find much more to eat) over on his own. Sometimes, he also coerces someone else to come by to pick it up, mostly because the community center has people in it and Carson is bad at people.

Carson is attempting to pick up the last of the wooden crates he's left outside the door, this one full of various vegetables, heavy potatos being the culprits of difficulty here. His curly hair, all askew, a few petals and various leaves sticking out of it and always, the smudge of dirt on his forehead, as if he had wiped his hand there. "You know, weight lifting is said to boost dopamine and serotonin, making it a natural antidepressant but you're just frustrating me." He grumbles at the box, as if it can hear how inconvenient it is being.


"It's probably only a natual antidepressant if you can actually lift what yer liftin'," Jay's voice comes out of left field as the red-head appears in the doorway from somewhere on the other side. his serene smile in place and eyes dancing with easy warmth, the young man is barefoot currently and has his long hair shoved into a half ponytail to stay out of his eyes. He has an aura of 'I've been working' about him from the faint dampness around his temples and sheen on his skin from the heat. No air conditioning in the center, that's for sure. Wings behaving themselves behind him, held high and broadly relaxed, he's dressed in a worn out pair of blue jeans and a pale green tanktop tucked unto them, arms and back bare, though the thin glint of a silver chain is clear around his neck, tucked under his shirt.

"Need a hand, there, pal?" Jay offers before taking over, hanging in the doorway comfortably.


Carson forgets for a minute how to speak English, speak at all or breathe as the young man meets him in the door way. Mostly because plants don't do a lot of talking and they aren't that gorgeous. "Sweet potatoes belong in the same family as morning glories, you know, while regular potatoes, they belong to the same family as tomatoes." He looks down but not quite in embarassment but instead at the frustrating box. "They are also meant to be eighty percent water and twenty percent solids but this batch appears to be solidly solid. That is to say, yes. I could use a hand. Could you take the other side, please?"


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This new information about sweet potatoes is somewhat…earth shaking to Jay, who is very familiar with both of those things. His expression shifts to curiosity, head tilting in a vaguely birdlike motion. "so, wait, Ah thought morning glories were poisonous? Or is that jus' their seeds? Dang." Jay thinks on it, then shakes it all away with a smile returning when Carson accepts his help. Rolling off the door jam with his shoulder, the winged young man chortles and bends down to grip the crate by the sides. "T'be fair, water is /heavy/. Y'all ever try t'move a water bed what ain't drained?" Picking the crate up as if it were full of cotton candy, Jay whistles low as he straightens up to his full height beside Carson, smiling. "It's a chore. C'mon. Miss Ethel gon' be real happy to see these."


"As far as morning glories go my fine feathered friend, its only the seeds that are poisonous. You can actually eat the flowers." Carson explains, a little relieved that the fact doesn't seem to drive the red head off. "I cannot say that I have.. I.." Carson watches as the other man lifts the box as if it were filled with air, with one finger up in pause as he had been about to tell the other man that the box was heavier than it looked. "Water beds were originally called pleasure pits and were also invented solely to combat bed sores."

He follows after Jay into the community center, shoulders going a little stiffer. "I do hope she does. I boosted their nutrient content. Each vegetable in here is enough to feed the average young adult for a day."


"Well, that's a relief," Jay says with levity of morning glories as he totes the box inside and back toward the currently empty kitchen, though there is a very large silver pot on the boil, simmering with its lid on. "Pleasure pits? Fer bed sores? Ah feel like…those things mighta come at different times? Also, sorta gross. Mah parents had one fer years. Never gonn' think about /that/ the same way." Exhaling a soft puff of breath initially born to be a laugh, green eyes flash with humor as he looks back at Carson.

Jay sets the crate down on the counter and immediately starts unpacking veggies near the enormous basin sink that belongs in a laundry more than it does a kitchen. They make due. "Oh yeah? These are all yers?" He pauses, picking up a potato and turning it over in his hands curiously. Then something occurs to him, putting the veggie down quickly and turning to Carson. "Wait! Are you Mister Flores?"


"I believe that was just the first official name they gave it. It was just a bed for patients with bed sores at first, and then they, as they often do decided that this thing needs a shorter name and well, that is what they decided on." Carson explains and then laughs a little when Jay says that his parents had one. "Well, how many siblings do you have, Mister.. uhm, darn. We haven't formally introduced ourselves have we? Mister Gorgeous? Is that a good placeholder for now? Mister Bird. No, I don't like that one. Not descriptive enough, Mister Very Beautiful Bird. I like that one better but it's a lot of words. Mister Beautiful Bird, and then the very part can be unspoken but understood." Carson rambles for a minute, holding his chin in his hand while he thinks of a proper name to call Jay, as everything that leaves Carson's lips, it's almost as if he's just stating facts rather than flirting. "Oh, sorry, I've gotten a bit carried away. The question was if you had many siblings, because if you do then I would say that 'pleasure pit' probably wasn't a far off name."

Carson nods when Jay asks if these are all his. And then startles a little when Jay knows his name. "Well, I would say that Mister Flores is my father but Flores is my surname. You can just call me Carson. Or.. Ah, there was a little handsome guy who came by my garden who told me of 'code names' and I believe I've been assigned Petals. Either one I will answer to. Did you like Mister Beautiful Bird or do you happen to have a name already?" This though, Carson smiles at Jay about. This time, that's flirtation, really awkward flirtation. Clearly, Carson doesn't do this much.


Jay is about to answer Carson's question on his name, honest to his sweet, unforgiving, petty, abrahamic god. But before he has the opportunity to do so, Carson goes on his odd naming ramble, which leaves Jay rather confounded at first. Mister Gorgeous? Well. I /do declare/. Jay's blushes in Southern, just around his ears. Shock turns to gentle bemusement eventually while Carson spirals. Jay pivots against the counter, laying his hand flat on it right beside the crate, the other plants itself on his hip while he watches Carson just…go. A gentle ruffle of his feathers shiver behind him, whispering their own private chuckles. "Well, Ah mean, Ah see what you mean with the lotta words. Lahke the water bed. If it helps, y'all could call me 'BB' fer short, though Ah ain't a bird, feathers aside." He's not making fun of the guy. At least not in any cruel fashion. Just some good-natured humor as he fully enables this frame of thought, then offers his hand out to Carson. "Or you could jus' call me 'Jay'."

Kindly giving him the alternative, Jay's eyes dance with warm amusement. "Ah got ten siblin's, like every good southern man oughta. Yer pretty sharp, ain'tcha Carson? Or do ya like Petals more? Ah know some folks are more fond of their mutant name."


Elmo's instantly-recognizable voice can be heard outside the kitchen, telling someone something. "Yeah I got" they interrupt him. "Okay, y" Interrupted again. "That'sOKAY! I'm trying to" Nope, still interrupted. "Uh, I'll be right back." Then he's fleeing into the kitchen, a little wild-eyed. Carson and Jay are there! "Guys, oh thank God, hi." He does not notice either of them seeming a little flustered. Elmo doesn't notice things, come on. He ducks behind the counter.


"BB. Well, of course you're not a bird but you do have wings and you are beautiful and those two descriptors can describe birds, so ergo.. I mean, I could think of many other wonderful names for you but I might lose the wings and really… the wings… so amazing." Carson says, spreading his hands apart to gesture at Jay's fingers. He does notice the faint blush on Jay's ears and it makes him smile, slightly, shyly. "Jay works too, I do like that and um… well, I think that I might like Petals when you're the one saying it, your accent is lovely. Where down south do you hail from, Jay? North Carolina?"

He takes the hand offered to him but a beat later than he means to. Shaking it firmly. "How did you know me? You pegged my surname right away and I don't think my potato there told you the answer. Unless you are also a potato whisperer on top of being a gorgeous man with equally as gorgeous wings. That's a rather odd secondary mutation."


Who the hell is this guy?

Jay whispers a hard exhale of a laugh shocked straight out of his chest, ripples of motion whispering through his feathers as they're complimented. "Good Lord, man. You always this bold? Dang." his words sound complimentary as Carson takes his hand. That ridiculously soft, warm hand. Jay grips it firmly, without muscling him around. "Kentucky. Cumb'rland mountains, actually. An' Ethel's always talkin' about you an' yer gar…den?"

The hesitation because Elmo appears and Jay's attention goes right to him, lous and clear. "El? You hidin' from someone?"


An older lady, grandmother to a couple of mutant kids, pokes her head into the kitchen. She looks around, not seeing Elmo. Hmfs, tells Carson and Jay, "You boys be good, now," and leaves.

Elmo whispers, "Is she gone?" not daring to peek over the counter yet.


"Bold? I was just speaking the truth. Are you not honestly aware that you are the most gorgeous person in this room and that your wings are beautiful as well as your voice? You must know, right?" And Carson looks generally confused. How can Jay not know these things? Carson holds onto Jay's hand a little longer and then takes it with his other, turning Jay's hand over so that it's palm up if Jay does not resist. "I would have expected your hands to be rough but they are very soft." Carson's are the opposite, rough and calloused from working in the dirt all day, picking and shelling vegetables, hoeing and rowing and cutting and all of that.

Carson cants his head to the side when Jay draws attention to Elmo. "Oh! Sparkplug! This is the small handsome guy I told you about. He named me Petals." He nods to the question. "Yes, you are very safe."


Someone's granny comes in, answering the question for Jay as his head whips up. Nope! Wasn't looking down under the counter at anything! He smiles, just a little forced. All feathers puffing up slightly behind him, startled and trying to play it cool while Carson investigates his palm, and Jay lets him turn it over like a palm-reader. A thin tendril of bright hair falls out of his small ponytail, arcing across Jay's brow. "Always, ma'am."

In lieu of answering Carson's inquisitive questions, Jay too tilts his head toward Elmo, then arches a brow to Carson. "This is the guy? Well. That makes sense." Jay looks back at Elmo and queries


Jay says, "Petals? Really? Also, why're you hidin' from Ol' Miss Bessie?""


Elmo raises up a little, peering over the counter. Coast is clear. He stands up cautiously. "Uh. She's kinda decided I'd make one of her daughters a great husband." He's red all the way from his hairline down his neck. "Got a trade 'n all, yannow. Hi, Jayl. Hi, Petals." He grins sheepishly at the two of them. Then, "Hey! Jay, you met Carson. He grows these gevaldik plants." And then he finally notices Carson's got one of Jay's hands. His eyebrows go up. "Am, I, uh, interrupting?"


"You are only interrupting my fascination with Jay here's palms as they are quite soft, shockingly so." Carson just realizes now that he's still got Jay's hand, pointer finger gliding along Jay's palm in fascination. "So, in essence, no you aren't interrupting anything of importance at all, Sparkplug." Carson finally gives Jay his hand back, politely folding up Jay's fingers, patting the top of his hand and then guiding it back to his side as if he were putting something back in its rightful place.

"Ah, Petals. I can show you why he picked that." Carson fishes in his pocket, pulling out three different petals, he holds up the purple one to Jay, closing one eye before holding up the white one instead. He places the other's back in his pocket, clearly unable to make a decision between the two, he folds his fingers over them, holding up one finger from his other hand, he steps a couple steps away from Jay, opens his palm and blows on his hand.

The petals multiply before their eyes and wrap Jay in a gentle swirling breeze of purple and white.


Smile gentling in understanding, Jay nods to Elmo. "Yer a good lookin', unmarried man in Manhattan with a good job an' a trade. It's a wonder y'ain't always dodgin' mommas tryin' t'give ya their daughters' numbers." He looks down at his hand in Carson's, his wings fwip but are generally pretty subtle about it. He doesn't blush or anything to make him look guilty, and as his hand is given back, he claps Carson on the shoulder heartily. "Yeah, Ah was jus' helpin' him get his load in here. Ethel's gonn' be real happy to see it came. She can't stop talkin' about these sweet potatoes. Which!" Jay grabs one and uses it to point at Elmo, smiling. "Are related t'morning glories." He winks at Elmo and puts the root veggie down with the rest on the counter to be scrubbed.

Still unpacking the delivery while he watches Carson decide between his … flower petals? Huh, okay. Like watching a magic trick closely, he isn't paying much attention any more to the veggies while he unloads them, attention raptly set on those colorful bits. And with a breath, there's suddenly hundreds!

Shocked by the stream of color that comes at him, Jay's wings start and cock out to either side, as wide as they dare in the cramped kitchen space in a soft hush of feather friction, challenging the path those petals are on, whorling around him. "Whoa!" His eyes wide and hands lifted loosely in mild defense. He relaxes quickly, however, when they don't cut him apart. Jay reached out to try to grab one out of the air, still bewildered and awed by the power.


"Eehhh it happens," Elmo admits, blush cooling now that Miss Bess isn't here to talk up her daughter's charms. He gives Jay a sideways little smile when he calls him good-looking. "Morning glories, ya don't say." Carson does his trick with the petals, and Elmo grins outright, watching color bloom and swirl around Jay. "Yep. That's why. It was either that or Facts. I thought Petals was prettier. Looks great on him, don't it, Petals? Not that he needs it, he's gorgeous enough already."


Carson transfers the two original petals between his fingers, not unlike someone rolling dice across them while he watches Jay's reaction to the move. "It's not exactly very useful in a combat role, but, it's distracting and makes gorgeous men like the pair of you more gorgeous. He holds his hand up at Elmo, the purple and white petals caught on his fingers and with a flick of his wrist, they seemingly change to a light blue and yellow. He holds them out on his pointer and middle finger, like a princess in a cartoon might do for a butterfly to perch there and he blows them towards Elmo, giving Elmo a dose of the same attack, swirling him in blue and yellow instead.

The petals settle among Jay's feathers, making quite the mess, Carson will need to sweep up later. "I feel as though anything on Jay looks great." Carson says matter-of-factly. "Do you know, that it is said, if you look a red head in the eye for more than ten seconds you'll fall in love?"


The stream of petals ceases—or rather, redirects while they settle in Jay's feathers and all over the kitchen in a scattered mess. Jay holds on to the bunch of petals he was able to grab onto, laughing under his breath while Elmo is subjected to the very same. Green eyes aglow, he shakes his head at Carson. "Hey man, it ain't about useful. You got a gift. An' /this/?" He holds up a potato from its nest of bright petals. "This is more 'n makin' up fer it. The petals are /fun/. Don't you tell me that fun ain't important. Morale is important. Makin' people happy is important."

Finally, finally, Carson gets a loud flush of color from Jay, and a laugh as well, the guy looks away while he finishes unpacking the crate. "Is that so? Ah ain't heard it before, but Ah like it. Guess Ah gotta be more careful who Ah look in the eyes."


"Oy!" Elmo complains, as he gets his own storm of petals. "Ethel's gonna plotz, all these petals in her kitchen." But he's still grinning. It's just good-natured kvetching. "My favorite colors, how'd ya know, Carson?" A joke; he only wears bright blue and yellow all the damn time. He turns a hand palm-up to catch a drift of vivid, silky petals, then lets them slide off in a miniature stream. "Yeah, well, did you know lightning can be red? Caused by upper atmosphere ionization." He goes to help Jay. "We choppin' these?"


"I suppose you are right, BB, I am also not a combat mutant. I grow my garden and talk to trees and make handsome men more beautiful by surrounding them in petals. I do not fight, unless you step on my tomato plants, then I make them bite you back." Carson admits and smiles. "Well, I was going to offer to sweep them up but look how much more beautiful they make the place. Or that might just be the pair of you." He pockets the petals in his hand. "You definitely should be careful as that's probably why red heads were painted as such sinful creatures in the olden times, but you can't help that you're as beautiful as you are, especially with those green eyes! Such a rarity, you are a diamond among common rocks, Jay."

"You may chop them up, though each one contains enough nutrients to feed the average young adult for an entire day, so anything she happens to make with them will feed more people with fewer servings. I was hoping too that perhaps, she could cut down on the meat consumption here as well, with these boosted nutrients but I guess we shall see." Carson admits, worrying his lower lip, this is clearly a topic of concern to him. "Ah, and separate the brocolli out for her, I promised to bring buy some that tasted like candy to hook some of the pickier eaters on it."

Carson looks over at Elmo with his broad eyebrows raised, Elmo had taught Carson something. "I did not! Thank you! I did however know that lightning is about 54,000 degrees, which means that you and Jay here are just /slightly/ hotter than lightning."

Jesus H Christ, Carson Flores.


Jay shakes his head while Elmo kvetches about the mess, setting the heavy wood crate aside easily and leaving the pile of veggies on the counter, separated by type. "Ah ain't even gonn' worry about the mess, El. It's beyond hope raght now, so might as well enjoy it." His advice practical and low-stress, as can be expected from a southern fellow. "Good lord, you two are full'a fun facts, an' /you/," Jay points at Carson with a stalk of broccoli. "Sound more an' more lahke mah boss. He's always puttin' facts about art in conversation.—Ah was jus' gonna scrub these puppies up an' Ethel can use 'em how she likes. Nobody touches that woman's stewin' pot unless you want yer fingers smacked by a wooden spoon. Ah guess some people could be int' that." Jay flashes a smile to each of them, cheeky.

"Carson Flores, yer mutant name shoulda been 'Rascal', the way you talk. You always divyin' out compliments like this? It's a wonder you ain't got pounded into the ground by half a dozen men." He shakes his head, trying to cast it off, but there is still a ripple of worry in his tone. Until Carson whips out the comment about temperature relation between he and Elmo and lightning and Jay can't help himself any longer. He just /stares/ at Carson, his expression a mix of wonder, befuddled humor and delight that he could even exist. "Where the hell are you from, man? Yer somethin' else. You gotta melt hearts an' pants left an' raght."


Elmo can't take that cheeky smile from Jay and the compliments from Carson, and covers his face, blushing again. "And, uh, and lightning's way hotter than the surface of the sun. Only fifty-five hundred Celsius there, practically balmy." Cracks the hell up when Jay says Carson must melt hearts and pants, and leans on the counter, laughing into his hand. "Ain't he great, Jayl? Can we keep 'im?"


"Well no, not al-" Now it's Carson's turn to blush, tan cheeks tinting bright red, curls bouncing when he ducks his head down to hide his face when he talks about Carson being pounded into the ground and then Jay gives him that stare and god, is it pretty. His breath catches in his throat and he stammers something that sounds like it tried hard to be a sentence but fell short, "I.. an.. well, you.." before he gives up, flushing even brighter. "Well, you see, this.. fact spewing tends to turn them off before we can get that far, I believe, I'm not very good at talking to people as I generally practice at socialization with plants and I'm, blessedly, not attracted to them. I was merely stating facts that you are very beautiful, Jay and that Elmo is very handsome." He looks down at his shoes, scuffing one lightly on the floor. "That last line was a bit less than innocent though, wasn't it? No less true, though, the pair of you are certainly a fire hazard."

"Though, on the matter of melting hearts, Jay, you have definitely just proven that fact true. You should definitely be far more careful who you fixed that brilliant gaze on." That's another less than innocent line, Carson and you know it. "Lightning contains a million volts of electricity, Elmo, which is exactly what happens to my chest any time I look at either of you." The delivery falters a little that time, with Carson's cheeks so red and his voice stammering.


"Keep him?" Jay smiles back at Elmo when he asks if they can keep the shy guy. Jay turns the water on in the basin bin and starts scrubbing potatoes with a stiff brush with all the idle familiarity of someone who has done this a fair amount. Steam rising from the water. "Keep him like a house plant? Lahke a peach tree, cept instead of peaches it doles out juicy compliments?" playing along with Elmo's joyful amusement.

His attention falls back on Carson, eyes shining with warmth over how /red/ he's gotten. "Maybe shrinkin' violet is a better name. You ain't so used to takin' it, huh?" damnit Jay, that's phrasing /again/! twice now has he done that, entirely unaware. The dumps a potato onto the other side of the deep sink and grins at Carson, that single dimple flashing briefly. "Lord. Now he's a poet. He's dangerous, El. The only /factual/ thing Ah know about lightnin' is when it hits sand, it makes glass tubes that look wild. An' what it looks like after it strikes a tree down. Ah ain't a lot of use on the trivial pursuit team like y'all are."


"And facts," Elmo says to Jay, grinning in delight. He grabs a potato to wash it off, too. The big sink is convenient for that. "Compliments and facts. We'll put him in a sunny window, he'll make lots a both. Dangerous—ain't he, though." And then, oh, the sly look he gives Carson, his dark eyes narrowing with mischief. "I contain a million volts of electricity, boychik. Tell me a fact better than that."


Carson hides his face in his hands when Jay says he 'ain't so used to taking it' trying to take a deep breath like it might hide his blush but when he pulls his hands away, it's still there, making /his/ green eyes even greener as he smiles shyly at Jay. "No, I suppose I'm not. Truly, all of this hasn't won me anyone's affection." He says gesturing to himself. The two of them talk about keeping him and that blush is never fading now, unused to the attention of attractive men or even people in general. "Jay, that's a fantastic fact, have you seen these glass tubes? I am sure that you know more about things that Elmo and I have no knowledge of. Makes you no less astounding than either of us."

"Now, that is simply not fair, Elmo, for I do not know any more facts about you. I have told you what I know. That you are beautiful and brilliant." He teasingly complains at Elmo for not playing fair in their game of trivia. "Though, given opportunity, I would rather enjoy becoming an expert in the fields of both Elmo and Jay. Do you know of any master degree programs I could apply to?"


Jay gives Elmo such a look! A look of amusement which is clearly none the less playfully exasperated when Elmo pours it on thick as well. Jay can only whisper a chuckle as he scrubs up. Elmo helping him make short work of the delivery. "Very dangerous. You two. Good lord, Ah could just sit back an' watch you two go back an' forth. This is great. An' Ah /have/ seen one. Cousin of mine had one though Ah can't remember fer the life of me what they're called."

His addition to the conversation about lightning comes to a halt, and Jay glances between Elmo and Carson. Falling quiet, he can only shake his head a few times while his hands work quickly. "Masters, huh? Might wanna start with just the starter program first. Luckily, Ah think Ah might know a couple of experts in the fields. Don't know if you'd find at least one of 'em a whole lot of interesting, though." Jay casts a quick smile in Carson's direction. Amused, but flirtation isn't as hot and heavy on his end.


.~{:--------------:}~.


The garden was a very aesthetically pleasing, calming environment if you needed to wind down, needed busy work that wasn't too physically exhausting and also wanted to get some fresh air. Now, Carson may not know much about Halgrim's personal life (read: nothing at all) but he can get a vibe that the other man might need a little more of that in his life. Though, most of the time, Carson is rather quiet in his garden, today doesn't seem to be the same kind of serene silence that Halgrim might be used to. A couple of times Carson has thought to say something to Halgrim and either lost his encourage or inwardly talked himself out of it.

Finally, after agonizing on it awhile, he throws in the towel, so to speak of course, the towel on his neck stays right where it is, and finally voices what he's been trying to for the past hour. "Halgrim, I don't suppose you would mind very much if I pick your mind for some advice?" He finally asks, giving the other man nothing to go off as far as advice for /what/.


Halgrim is no stranger to the 'awkward conversation' dance, and has been biding his time with trimming and securing sweet peas, beans, and tomato plants to trellises. His canteen, hat, boots, and gloves are old field gear repurposed to his new life, and he's wearing a plain, linen shirt and some lighweight khakis, to keep the heat from getting to him. Now he looks back over his shoulder, pausing in the act of knotting a bit of twine far more intricately than necessary. "Of course. Though, I feel I should warn you, I'm probably not the best advisor." He finishes with the twine and kneels down to take a drink from his canteen, offers it to Carson. "What's on your mind?"


"I highly doubt that, as you do have years of experience that I do not and you have very wise eyes, Halgrim." Carson says matter-of-factly as he comes to kneel closer to Halgrim, perhaps to keep his voice a little quieter on this subject matter. "Do you know how to prepare for a date? I may have invited someone on one and well, I've never exactly hosted a date before on my own. I have been set up on a few by my well meaning parents, more specifically my father, who is very concerned that he will never in his life time see me marry, but he laid out a schedule for me prior. This is spontaneous."


"Years of experience," Halgrim says around a laugh. He pulls off his hat and wipes his brow. "I think you mean years of making ridiculous mistakes and trying to fix them." He considers Carson's question, rests his wrists on his knees. Despite what he's said, this is at least something he can help with. "Is this a date you're having at your home? Or, are you taking them somewhere?" He raises an eyebrow. "Or is that yet to be decided?"


"I believe you are being too technical and also hard on yourself, mistakes still count as experience, do they not? We all make them, there is not a person alive who hasn't erred in anyway." Carson says, patting Halgrim's shoulder lightly. At the next question, Carson smiles almost nervously which isn't really an emotion that Halgrim may have seen before on Carson's face. "I was thinking of bringing them here, to my garden. Also, I don't… imagine.. you would have any experience on what you do on a date with more than /one/ person?"


Halgrim mmms, toying with his hat. "Being a professor is all about technicalities, Carson," he says. He looks around them, nodding. "I think the garden would be a fine setting." Then he blinks, tilts his head, and laughs again. "More than one? Are you saying you have a date with—two, people? Or more than that?"


"Well, regardless, you are being too hard on yourself and I will not have it in my garden. Being rude to yourself upsets the tomatoes, you know?" Carson tries to say as sternly as he can muster. When Halgrim laughs at the next question, it makes Carson blush a little and look down at the soil with a little nod. "Yes, just two. I believe the pair of them are already seeing one another, you see and I am rather fond of one of them and well, hi- /their/ partner is… ah.. there's a phrase for it? Easy on the eyes? And very kind, so I thought, why not just ask them both? And they agreed. I think that monogamy is probably a social construct that can be ignored."


Normally Halgrim might be a little chagrinned to be the one getting the 'stop being hard on yourself' talk, since he's handed it out quite a bit of late, but he's having to put too much effort into not laughing about the delightful situation Carson has just described. He clears his throat. "So, you figured, why not jump into the deepest end of the pool available?" He does laugh then, but quietly. "Ah, well, I can't judge you too harshly, I've done similar. Though I wouldn't callt he propositions I made back then a 'date', per se."

"It's probably a safe bet that neither of them cares about that either, since they seem to have agreed." Halgrim considers the garden again, reaches out to toy with a sweet pea. "This is probably an ideal setting for something like that. It's not tolerated, by society, for men to be romantically involved with one another. The last thing you want is for the date to be ruined by others' ugliness."


Carson smiles at Halgrim then, looking up at the older man when he laughs about Carson jumping into the deepest end of the pool. "They are both attractive! And when I speak to them, Halgrim, when I tell them a random bit of trivia about potatoes they don't look at me like my head isn't attached correctly. It doesn't feel like… an effort to speak with them, it isn't exhausting whereas it truly is with most people. Trying to find out what today's new definition of normal is and attempting to force myself to fit it." He explains. "So, yes, I figured, why not ask them both, we already know that they like each other, so now I just need to find away that they might both like me, yes?"

"Ah, you caught that. Well, see, I figured that I would bring them to the garden and make them a picnic of sorts. That's rather safe and.. romantic right?" He says, running his hand over a patch of soil and a plant blossoms from the soil. He looks up then abruptly. "You have.. uh… taken more than one person home before?" As if he just realized what Halgrim had said.


Halgrim sigh dramatically in response to the question. He has, after all, left himself open to it. "When I was your age I was…" He searches for a word that will encapsulate his twenties. He settles on, "Rambunctious." He huffs a breath. "It was a memorable way to go about things, but I can't recommend it." He raises an eyebrow. "That's not cesure, please don't think it is. It's just a recommendation that you…consider, any entanglements, very carefully, before you undertake them. It's easy to fool yourself into thinking everyone is as carefree as you are, right until you, and they, aren't."

He watches the plant spring up; he'll never not be fascianted by that. "Oh, yes, definitely romantic. And," he indicates the flowers that are in bloom now (hydrangea, dahlia, late summer irises), "calming. Private. If you, or they, are prone to nervousness, a spot like this makes it easier to," he nods at Carson, "as you've said, be yourself. Discover one another. The *real* one another, not the faces you wear for public consumption."


"Rambunctious." Carson says and laughs a little himself. "I don't know why you aren't any longer. You're certainly handsome enough to be." And that, at least, doesn't sound like flirtation, Halgrim had set his boundaries and Carson respected them, this is just fact. Halgrim /must/ know he's attractive enough to agree on this matter. "I am not the rambunctious type, I don't believe. I think I would prefer to take them out a few times before I just.. proposition them otherwise." For someone so technical, Carson has a hard time eluding to taking two men home for nefarious things.

Carson spots the fascination in Halgrim's eyes and reaches over in the soil closer to the other man and springs another plant up for him. "I think one of them might be, El- or well, the other one seems to have ease of conversation with me at least."


Halgrim's easy mood falters; his jaw works for a second, and he studies his hat. "A variety of reasons," he says, in the manner of someone who is thinking of only one. He shrugs it off, though, sets his hat aside and has more water. "That's probably a good idea, particularly if these aren't peoeple you've known for very long. Not," he holds up a hand, "of course, that just jumping into things is always bad. But, there's satisfaction to be had, in taking your time." He gets up and surveys the immediate area. "Over here, might be good," he says, gesturing at a flat chunk of rock and concrete they've not gotten around to moving. "You could put up a table with an umbrella, for shade, maybe," he indicates a circle, "surround it with some potted arrangements."


Carson senses the way that the mood has soured and frowns. "I am sorry that I mentioned it, truly it isn't any of my business why you do or don't do anything, Halgrim." Carson apologizes sincerely. He smiles when Halgrim reassures him that jumping into things and taking his time are equally okay to do. "I do want to take my time, to get to know each of them and find out if I am a piece that could fit into their lives and enrich them in some way."

"Oh a table! That's the perfect idea, though, there won't be much need for shade as I asked them to come by as the sun was going down. Oh, and my prettiest flowers, I could tell some of them to bloom in their favorite colors. That would be nice, like a scene right out of a book." Carson says looking over where Halgrim gestures to.


"It's alright, it's…not unexpected, that you'd ask," Halgrim says. He moves to stand next to a large ceramic pot in brilliant red and orange, running a hand around the rim; it's a fine piece, a donation from a university artist who makes them in her spare time. "It's just a rather ugly thing that I don't…like to discuss. No need to apologize, though. You can't be expected to know." He frowns, considering the date in this new twilight setting. "In that case, you might want to get some lights—maybe, a string or two, just in white, to put among the pots? Or," he points at the fence, "on the fence. And the lighting would help you move around in the dark anyways. It might be a nice effect, overall, for the summer."


"I hadn't ever thought of that, lighting the fence. I'm not usually out here after dark, I finally get tired at that point and have to turn in for the night but it seems the one man is a bit of a night owl so I may have to change my ways, at least to go and see him at work if that is something he would want." Carson says, getting up and running his hand along the fence as he thinks on something. He looks over to Halgrim again. "Halgrim? Do you think two people are capable of wanting me while wanting each other? I am.. rather… eccentric, I think is the polite way to say it."


Halgrim tilts his head at Carson, his expression sympathetic. "I think people should be capable of that sort of desire, but it's true that many aren't." His mouth twitches in a wry smile. "Which is of course, the reason for the date. To find that out." He scratches at his beard, folds his arms. "But more specifically, if you mean to ask, can someoneor more than one someonebe interested in you, despite your eccentricities, I think you should reconsider how to approach it. Don't look for people who want you *in spite* of who you are. Look for people who wants you *because* of who you are." He smiles, genuinely this time. "And I definitely think that people capable of that are out there. Maybe even these two."


Carson smiles shyly at that, clearly he doesn't hear very often that he was dating material, and it was obviously something that not even his father had much faith in if he set him up on dates. So hearing it from Halgrim makes him feel better, more at ease. "Then really, all you're saying I need to do is be precisely who I am. That shouldn't be very hard. I have been doing this my whole life, being me, I have a lot of experience with it, I would hazard a guess that I am the only professional in that field." He walks over to one of the buckets full of harvested vegetables and hands it to Halgrim. "Thank you, Halgrim, that makes me feel better."


"That is precisely what I'm saying," Halgrim says. "If anything, trying to put on a, best face, if you will, just leads to problems later." He grimaces; this is an area where he has copious personal experience. "You'll get to a point where you feel comfortable enough to really be you, and discover that you're not as compatible as you thought." Accepting the bucket, he says, "You're welcome. And, thank you, for…feeling like you could ask me this sort of thing."


"I have never quite felt uncomfortable being myself, just that it wasn't the right thing to be a lot of the time but I don't quite know how to be anyone other than me, putting on a mask as you say, isn't something I know how to do." He admits. "Well of course, Halgrim. I don't keep many friends, you'll see and I don't often feel comfortable asking my father things. He would never tell me anything that would lead me to believe he isn't proud of me but I feel that asking him about how to wine and dine two other males would greatly disappoint him. I trust you, Halgrim."


Halgrim sighs, sadly but also with some fondness. "It's a shame your relationship with your father's in a place like that. But it, itmeans a great deal to me, that you feel you can trust me. That part I can't regret." He seems like he might say more, then doesn't, just examines the container of vegetables. "So. What do you plan to cook for these gentlemen? Do they have diet restrictions?"


"He means well, he does. He brought me all the way here away from my mother's reach and probably saved me from a life time of wearing masks, like you said was bad for me. I just think that there are limitations to his love, to how much he can put up with, and queer? Might be the final straw, not that I'm sure that I am entirely queer. I just, I just really like these two guys. I like one for maybe shallow reason, he's quite beautiful but again, he doesn't think that I am strange when I speak and that is something rare for me, he is also very kind. The other one, I'm interested in for a list of reasons as well, but a longer one."

"Oh they do not, but I do. Self inflicted." Carson explains. "I am a vegetarian. I know that I was going to bake a pie for the more Southern one and come up with a vegetarian version of a Kentucky popular dish."


"That's good of him, to spare you from someone hurtful, but love shouldn't have that kind of a limitation," Halgrim says, gently, and leaves that part of the conversation at that. He knows he's rare in being raised by parents who understand and accept him for who he is. "Hm, well that does mean everything you'll needexcept, perhaps for spices and butter, or eggs, or the likeis right here. A pie, as you said? Perhaps an alfredo, some steamed vegetables with a sauce?" He looks out at the fruits, in particular the apple trees. "An apple dish for dessert?"


"An alfredo could be perfect! A brocolli one, perhaps? I was going to do an apple pie, in fact, you read my mind, Halgrim. I know that casseroles are a popular dish in the south, is there such a thing as an alfredo type casserole that you know of? You're incredibly helpful! I am so lucky to have a friend like you in my life." He says so sincerely. "I think… the other one needs to keep to Kosher but most vegetarian dishes abide by Kosher laws, I think." If Carson had been trying not to give away who exactly he was taking on a date on Saturday, he certainly had now.


Halgrim balances the basket of vegetables on one hip. "Mmmm, not necessarily, kosher cooking often doesn't involve dairy, if I recall. You might just want to ask him, directly, if you expect to see him before this date. Not all Jewish people keep kosher, after all." He gives Carson an amused look. "I'll confess I wouldn't know the first thing about regional food in the States. I mostly cook for myself, or eat at restaurants run by other immigrants. So you'll have to research that, I think. It seems reasonable, though, that you could combine ideas into a dish like that."


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