1965-08-23 - Ticked Its Last Tock
Summary: Ambrose comes into Elmo's shop looking to get an heirloom fixed. An agreement is brokered. Hopefully all's well that ends well in the morning.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
elmo ambrose 

Yet again, the Jackal outlives something in his life. This time, a genuine golden pocket watch from the late 1800s, complete with watch chain and hunter-case, has ticked its last tock. In the shade of an awning just down the street from a certain housewares and repair shop, Ambrose holds the watch to his ear and squints as he listens. No sounds from within the face and neither hand is moving despite multiple windings. He shakes it once in impatient frustration and sighs sharply. He doesn't want to hand over the precious item to anyone without experience and word of mouth is that this place here has a knowledgeable watchmaker.

The brunet with cerulean-blue eyes has got a good glower on as he enters the shop and immediately makes his way towards the main counter. In a light khaki jacket and jeans, military boots the odd thing out, he looks nothing more than a man annoyed with having to go out of his way for a task.

It's a dingy little housewares shop in the Lower East Side. Not the usual kind of place for a watchmaker, but this place has a curious reputation. There's a guy here who can fix anything, and when things come out of his hands, sometimes they work better than they ever have.

A hot August afternoon and the repair guy in question is slumped over the counter, head on his folded arms. He had a very, very long night. When the door bell jingles he looks up, blearily, big dark circles around his eyes. "Yeah, pal, what can I do for ya?" A New York accent strong enough to degrease an engine, this kid has. His tie is loose and the top button of his collar is undone.

Ambrose gives the man a tight smile as he comes to a halt before the counter. From in the pocket of his jacket, he produces the watch in question. Gently, he places it down upon the surface and slides it carefully towards Elmo before bringing his hand away again.

"I've heard tell that you have a…knack for fixing delicate mechanisms, especially watches. It's a family heirloom," he explains, his British accent both crisp and rounded through certain vowels to betray many years spent in the Fertile Crescent. "I cannot seem to get it to wind further and don't wish to risk damaging it. Could you take a look at it?"

Elmo waits for Ambrose to take his hand away before picking up the watch. He does it thoughtlessly, like it's an everyday thing that he doesn't risk accidentally touching hands with some stranger. Then, when he really sees what it is, his eyes get wide. "Buddy," he says, tone reverent. "You got a work of art, here." He handles it as delicately as if it was a new-hatched chick, turning it over in long calloused fingers. "I ain't seen one of these since I was a kid." Just like Ambrose had, he tips his head to hold the watch to his ear; of course, it's silent.

The brunet nods, taking a moment to brush his longish hair from his face. It looks like a military cut allowed to grow back in, long enough to brush at his jawline.

"I've had it since I was a child, given to me by my father. It'd be a shame to hear that the thing has bought it…come to its end," he clarifies, uncertain if the British idiom is known here in America. "What can you do for it?"

Elmo pokes around in one of the several tool bins on the repair counter. "Well…probably it's got some wear on the gears, s'my guess. These guys stay in operation this long, they're gonna get some fatigue eventually. We're talkin' about a hundred years, ain't no metal this small that holds up that long. Except maybe vibranium or adamantium, but if this thing's made of vibranium you got the wrong repair shop." He finds what he's looking for—tools that are almost impossibly small. Plies them with great delicacy to the watch's case and eases it off. When the inner workings are exposed, he actually sighs over them as if he's lovesick. "Ohhhh. Wow. Would you look at that."

Ambrose leans in a little in order to see the organized collection of mechanisms within the watch itself. Delicately stenciled into the flat sheet-metal above the gears is the name of the maker, location, year of its creation, as well as a small dedication to one Robert Atherton, Esq.

"Yes, it's a fine piece of work." He says this with some grudging love, almost as if the thing were an old dog who still manages to chew up a shoe from time to time. "The thing has survived many an escapade with me. It's not made of any of the metals you listed, however, simply gold, I believe — fatigue I can believe as well. It has crossed many continents…" He shifts his weight to his other foot even as he continues looking at the pocket watch, his ghost of a smile almost wistful.

Elmo reaches to pull over a lighted magnifying glass on an articulated arm. The light is strong and bright white, and he shoves it directly over the watch so the magnifying glass can show every tiny detail in crisp clarity. "Okay, looks like she's a little gunky." With the almost-microscopic tip of his jeweler's screwdriver, he nudges a bit of grime from the teeth of a wheel. "No problem. I'll take her apart, shine her up. And…aaahh, look at this. Looks like her hairspring's worn down. Looks…kinda like it's original, too." How the hell can he tell that? "Yep. Never been replaced. God damn, she's beautiful. What'd you say your name was?" Elmo glances up, getting a better look at Ambrose since now he's someone with a really interesting problem.

Ambrose leans in more yet, squinting at what the incredibly bright light reveals. He can barely see the efforts of the fine-tipped tool used by the watchmaker and when addressed directly, he meets and holds Elmo's eyes. Leaning away again, he takes a more neutral stance and gives the man another tight smile.

"I didn't say anything in regards to my name, but you may call me Traceur. A pleasure to meet you, Mister…?" He pauses in conversational cajoling to entice a name from Elmo in turn.

"Traceur," Elmo echoes, pronouncing it pretty damn well, and untroubled by Ambrose's stiffness. Like he doesn't even notice, actually. He's about to say something more when he's caught by a yawn, stifling it against the back of his hand. "Mmf, 'scuse me, been real busy." He wipes his eyes on his sleeve. "This is only one a my jobs. Anyway, name's Elmo. Nicetameetcha. What brings ya to New York?" He's nosy in more than one way, this guy. Peering back into the watch, he reads, "Robert Atheron," off the inscription. "S'your great grandpa or something?"

"Nice to meet you as well, Elmo. Robert Atherton was my father," replies Ambrose firstly with complete lack of guile before continuing on, " - and business brings me to this…fine city." By his tone, he's not terribly impressed with New York City but can apparently tolerate it nonetheless. "I hope to make what I can of my stay despite its ephemeral nature. I may need to leave at any time, hence my wish that you have a quick fix for my issue. I would hate to take this elsewhere. You came highly recommended." The man pulls his mouth to one side as he considers Elmo with mild cynicism, all the better to see if he can get the sleepy watchmaker to work double-time.

Elmo frowns, expressive eyebrows tilting. He considers Ambrose much more closely, now. Clearly debating whether he misheard, or misunderstood, or Ambrose is implying something that he's not catching. He decides whatever the communication hangup is, it must be his fault. It usually is. Ambrose's cynicism, that he catches, and it makes Elmo smirk with a twist of his mouth. "Yeah, well, this ain't no coffee maker or transister radio, pal. Your baby here needs time and all the tender care I can give 'er. You want me to put this at the head of the queue? Happy to. Gonna cost ya."

"Cost is of no issue to me," Ambrose replies back evenly. "What would you charge? I can have it here by tomorrow morning in whatever capacity you require. Check, bills, bullions — it is of no matter." Yes, the guy in the khaki jacket with the worn elbows and scuffed military boots is telling Elmo this and by the set of his jaw, he is in earnest indeed. Dark brows lift high and he then shifts his weight to rest hands on the edge of the counter. "Honestly. No matter."

Elmo narrows his eyes. Curious. Sharp. A lot less drowsy than he was a couple of minutes ago. Still kind of exhausted, but there's a mind behind those eyes like a supercell storm. "Bullions, huh. Tell ya what." He shifts, leaning his weight on his elbows, regarding Ambrose with a real air of disrepute. "You got one that's as interestin' as this watch? Somethin' old and real cool? Gimme that. I'll have her done tomorrow morning and you won't have to maintain her for another hundred years." Much like Ambrose's outrageous claim, Elmo makes this one with utter confidence. He has no doubt that he'll get this job done like he says he will.

Recognizing someone content to play on his terms, Ambrose's lips part to flash a sliver of white teeth, cold and knowing.

"I have access to a good number of things that fit your description, watchmaker. You'll need to be more precise with your terms. Bullion or…? And I expect your claim to hold water, Elmo," he reminds the man, keeping his hands spread on the edge of the counter. "I'd hate to have to hunt you out yet again." It's not too unlike the dealings he had with the various Shanghainese mafia factions back in the Roaring Twenties.

Elmo smiles, sly and arrogant, black eyes full of mischief. "The only guy in town better'n me is Tony Stark, and you won't find him repairin' watches." He looks back down at the wheels and springs of the watch, through the magnification. "Gold coin. Somethin' old. With somethin' boss on it. I'll be right here at 8 AM. Come back, we'll do the trade." All business, but he quirks an eyebrow at Ambrose. "This little girl means a lot to you, huh? You don't gotta worry. I'm an expert."

"You appear to be knowledgeable in your trade thus far." Ambrose tilts his head to look down at the innards of the watch once more. "A gold coin. Hmm. What say you to…a Spanish Cob?" His eyes rise to Elmo's face and linger, his smile still present and thin as a slivered moon. "I have one struck in 1622 in Seville. Mint condition, of course, and a potential buyer, but for you…watchmaker. For your promise of one hundred years of perfect time kept by the beautiful old girl and perhaps for future usefulness on your part, a doubloon. Here, 8 AM on the 'morrow. That is my offer."

Elmo blinks, but immediately tries to pretend he didn't. JP would scold him for being too obvious. "…I say, buddy, you got yourself a deal." He adds, self-mocking, "I don't do the shakin' hands thing, so hope that don't insult your honor or whatevah. One hundred years, and she won't drop a single second." That level of precision and he's completely confident about it. There's self-mockery, but no self-doubt.

Ambrose leans away once more and returns his hands to the pockets of his jacket. He caught the minute flinch and in a dark little way, it pleases him. Wealth is still such a display of power, even after all these years.

"I'm not offended, Elmo. If anything, it is honorable that we do not shake hands. I have no wish to further complicate our transaction. Good to hear that you are confident in your skills. I expect to see them tomorrow morning. Should I be aware of anything before I leave? I hate surprises." He watches Elmo closely again for any other little tells. In the shift of his head, the ambient light flashes in and out of his pupils in blood-red, like nightshine seen in an animal.

Elmo lofts his eyebrows. He's really not sure what to make of that. It's obvious. The guy doesn't have a bluff in him; he's composed entirely of tells. That eyeshine catches his notice. It inspires all the wrong conclusions. "I, uh, already got all the, uh, everything, I can handle." Because that's why touching Ambrose would 'complicate' things. "Yeah. Gotta tell you one thing."

Turning his left hand palm-up, Elmo causes a tiny lightning bolt to crackle between his long fingers. …He thinks Ambrose is a mutant. He's telling him that he's a mutant, too. "So, yannow." With a half shrug, Elmo closes his hand, the electricity discharging with a pop.

Ambrose blinks in blatant surprise at the discharge that dances between the watchmaker's fingers. He even takes half a step back before closing his open mouth and then frowning.

"You…are…blessed with that? Cursed? Born with it? I appreciate the forewarning." Caution takes over him entirely now and his eyes drop from the watch and to Elmo, as if he were considering snatching the timepiece away from the man.

Well, that lets Elmo know he was wrong about at least one of those things. "You…you ain't a mutant?" His voice cracks a little and he clears his throat. "Shit, okay." So he's not merely a Stark-level genius, he's actually genetically predisposed to it. "Look, you don't want a filthy mutie touchin' your lady, okay. But I can do what I told ya I can do. Ain't nothin' changed."

The British man frowns. "A filthy mutie? A mutant? I don't care that you've got an ability to - to - control sparks between your fingers. I care that you were honest with me. Forthcoming. It's a rare trait — and an honorable one," Ambrose adds with mild emphasis despite the scowl. He reaches up to scratch at his jaw in passing before continuing. "I am no mutant, no. You have nothing to be concerned about in your dealings with me thus far, watchmaker. Have no fear. I mean to hold up my half of our agreement."

Elmo has a puzzle more compelling than the pocket watch now. What the hell does Ambrose have going on? It's none of his business, which just makes him even more eager to stick that big nose of his into it. "Yeah. Same here, pal. She's gonna run like new." He raises his eyebrows at him again—he seems to do a lot of communicating with those. "Eight AM, sharp. I'll be here."

"8am it will be, Elmo. Thank you for your professionalism. You have a pleasant night. Don't…stay up too late working on her, hmm?" Ambrose smiles, still no more warmly than as at the beginning of the this encounter within the housegoods repair shop.

"You seemed tired when I arrived. Perhaps an early night and then an early morning? If you're not a night owl, that is. I've found it equally as productive as being an early bird over the decades." A small slip of the tongue there, but then again, perhaps those malleable eyebrows have given away the amount of interest in him.

Elmo can't help it; he flashes a cocky grin at Ambrose. "Buddy, you better believe it." He waves the suggestion off. "Feh. I just got way too much stuff to do and there ain't enough hours in the day." Doesn't seem to catch the slip. Ambrose is one of those men who could easily be almost any age. Elmo just doesn't know how literal that is. "You have a good night, too. Don't get into too much trouble, yeah?"

"Me? Trouble? Perish the thought." With that, Ambrose turns and begins to stalk away out of the store. He gives Elmo one last look over his shoulder and again, the lights flash through his pupils in red. "On the 'morrow, watchmaker." He leaves the store and the bells twinkle a final time to announce this exit. The man has a golden doubloon to find within his collection now. It might take him a while, but he has all night and the Bane won't allow sleep. Might as well spend the darkest hours reviewing his lists.

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