1965-08-25 - Chain Reaction
Summary: Two much more difficult conversations over scattered papers and broken glass.
Related: Debridement, Blood of the Covenant, Silver Bullet
Theme Song: None
halgrim elmo jebediah 

Halgirm's office is a small, cramped room at the end of a long hall of similar offices, though his is the only light on. Not hard to find, in the overall, as everyone's name and room numbers are listed on the board at the building entrance, and anyways he almost lives on the campus; the facilities and security people who handle the libraries or the archaeology and ancient history buildings can point anyone to him.

The approach of evening finds him sitting at his desk, working as long as he can manage to keep his eyes focused on pen and paper. He's had a late night with not very much sleep, yet there are things to be done and not much time to get them done in. He has the air of a man running on fumes, physically and emotionally.

Jeb remembered the University, and had rushed there as soon as he knew he had passed. The first person he wanted to tell besides Jay was of course Halgrim. He rushes into the university, hunting out the older man, figuring he would want to get away for the night as well.

When he finds Halgrim's name, he knocks on the door once before he just bursts in, more warning than waiting for invitation. "Halgrim! Halgrim! Ah passed! Ah passed my exam!" Jeb says excitedly but still tries to control his volume. "Ah passed it on the first try, Halgrim!"

The office is a little more tame that it has been in the past few days; the chairs available for visitors are not longer secondary filing space, and the books have been more neatly arranged on the (still double- and sometimes triple-stacked) bookcases. So when Jeb bursts into the room, the damage is minimal, and Halgrim only has to grab for one fat folder to prevent it from disgorging its contents all over the floor. He's not upset about that in the least, because the news is positive, and the visitor is welcome.

"Ah, that's wonderful," Halgrim says. He's preoccupied for several seconds with the negotiation of the folder's return to its place, then gets up from his desk. His smile seems like something he's badly needed. "So all your hard work has paid off."

"Oops. Ah'm sorry. You were the first one Ah wanted to tell. Well and Adam and Jay but you first because you a teacher and Ah wanted you to know that you was right. Ah am smart after all!" Jeb looks at the folder Halgrim puts back and does notice like Halgrim had been waiting for that smile for a long time. "Come to the club with me? We can get a drink. Ah got you. Ah can even make you one." He reaches for Halgrim's hand to tug him away from the desk prison.

The best poker face needs adequate rest and internal stability to be convincing, and Halgrim has neither of those at his disposal. His expression falters. "I'd—what do you say to Saganaki? I could treat you to a dinner, with alcohol, even…" He raises his eyebrows in an attempt to be coy and distracting. "Lambert has the finest Greek wine you can get your hands on." He stays just out of Jeb's reach, his eyes flicking to the hallway warily.

Hurt registers on Jeb's features when Halgrim pulls away, he has an easy face to read. The boy wears his heart on his sleeve after all. Then he catches Halgrim looking to the hallway and it goes away. "Why cain't we go to the club? We always go to Saganaki, Halgrim. Let's mix it up. Ah wanna take *you* somewhere." Jeb asks, none the wiser for now that there is an underlying meaning to Halgrim saying no to Club Atomic. "You ain't seen the club yet. Please? Ah promise that it won't be too loud tonight."

"I suppose we do," Halgrim admits. He looks down at his desk, fiddles with his pen. "Perhaps I could finish up here while you go to the club, and then you could meet me somewhere?" He rubs at his eyes. "I just don't think I'm going to be very good company tonight, is all, I haven't been getting enough sleep. Something," he holds up a hand to forestall any lectures, "I plan to rectify this weekend. But for you I'll absolutely make an exception."

Jeb sits down slowly and looks over at Halgrim curiously, catching wind of something here. "You could meet me at the little cafe near the club. Its mutant run, we would be helpin' the community out that way. Or you could come to the club after you're done here anyway. It'll definitely be wound down by then." Jeb asks experimentally. "You do need to take better care 'a yourself and Ah will get on you for it. But not tonight. Tonight we celebrate. Come to Mutant Town with me tonight."

Halgrim struggles with how to reply to that, not wanting to lie and not wanting to explain the situation. There's not even an available middle ground; it's land mines on one side and a shooting gallery on the other. "I appreciate, that you want me to come with you, to Mutant Town. But, I probably…shouldn't, right now." He winces the second he's said that, and adds, "I'm trying to work on," he gestures with his pen, "my situation, with the houseguest, and it's not fair to everyone there to have to be at risk, considering."

It's the stunted way that Halgrim tries to explain his reasoning that makes Jeb's chest warm. "Someone told you to stay away, didn't they?" He says low and quite dangerous for someone so small and young. "Ah have never felt unsafe around you, Halgrim. Especially we are out havin' fun. Who told you to stay away? If you ain't afraid to go to Saganaki but you is afraid to come to Mutant Town with me then someone *told* you to stay away."

Jaw set, Halgrim says, "No one told me any such thing." That part, at least, is true. Unfortunately… "You know that you and, others, have been perfectly alright with vouching for me so there's, no reason I *can't* go." As lies go, it's not the least convincing one told all year, but it probably makes the top ten, and he clearly knows it, because takes a deep breath and presses on. "It's just not a good idea, tonight. Right now." There's a fragility to him that's impossible to miss, something he's not saying. "But I don't want to ruin the evening for you." Another truth, to bookend things.

"Someone did because you said you'll come with me elsewhere just not Mutant Town. That's very specific, Halgrim." Jeb points out, voice still low and cool, hearing that there is something unsaid. "You ain't telling me something. Who made you feel unwelcome in Mutant Town, Halgrim? Ah know someone did. Ah want to celebrate with you, not without you and you are *welcome* everywhere. Who told you not to come to Mutant Town?"

Halgrim looks away, unable to hold Jeb's gaze. "No one," he repeats, and it is, at least for the most part, the truth. "I just shouldn't, right now. I—" He stops, laughs. "I'm grateful, that you do welcome me there and, elsewhere, but the reality of my, problem, means that I have to be careful where I allow myself to be." He drops the pen on his desk and runs his hands through his hair. "And right now Mutant Town isn't somewhere I should go. Just…for a little while." He wants that last part to be true, at any rate.

Jeb smacks the front of Halgrim's desk. More to get his attention than anything, after all he is not angry with *Halgrim*. "*Someone* did. You're lyin' to me. Someone made you feel like you cain't go to Mutant Town. Who was it, Halgrim? Who made you feel unwanted? Who?" Jeb growls. "Tell me who made you feel like this. Ah get it. They didn't fuckin' say it in so many words but they made you feel unwanted. Who?"

Jeb sits back and something like a light goes on behind his eyes. "Ah think Ah know who." Who protects Mutant Town?

The conversation is unraveling faster than Halgrim can make excuses, and he's intensely aware of that. He flinches when Jeb hits his desk. "No one *made* me feel that way," he repeats, clinging to his calm demeanor by his fingernails. "Don't go blaming someone randomly because there's no one to blame." He blows out a breath and shakes his head. "No one but a forty year old idiot who stuck his hand in a stone chest in a burial mound, anyways."

"You have told me again and again and *again* that there are no idiots, Halgrim. Foolish choices, yes. That rule does not apply only to me. And as you have also told me time and time again, Ah ain't an idiot, Halgrim. Maybe you ain't lyin' but you ain't tellin' me everythin'. One thing you have never done is insult my intelligence until now. " Jeb growls at Halgrim. "If it were just protection then you wouldn't limit it to Mutant Town, would you? And Ah ain't saying you should hide, don't twist my fuckin' words. You know that Ah want you everywhere all the time. Ah fuckin' adore you. Ah love you so fuckin' much Halgrim so you shut the hell up before you even think that that's what Ah'm saying. Ah am just makin' a *point*." There are wild hand gestures as Jeb's voice rises in anger, more forceful when he is demanding that Halgrim knows he is loved and wanted.

"The X-ternals protect Mutant town, if anyone made you feel uninvited, it was them. But Ah know it wasn't the whole unit. How could it be? You ain't know them all but you do business with Elmo, don't you? Short, skinny, long haired, smart mouth *jerk*. It *had* to be him. He must be him. Ah'm gonna kick his *ass*." Jeb pushes up from his chair so fast that he knocks the chair backwards.

Halgrim winces at the brutal reminder that sooner or later all children wield parenting skills against their parents. His accent gradually slides from carefully attenuated to strong (if understandable) "That's *not* what I *meant*. I meant the situation that I'm in, makes me dangerous to be around, and it's reasonable to—"

But then Jeb says Elmo's name, and Halgrim train of thought derails on the instant; the surest sign that Jeb's fishing expedition has struck gold. "The hell you are," he says, his voice soft. "Don't you dare go taking this to him."

"Then it would *apply* to everywhere, even Saganaki. Even this university, but yet yer here ain't you?!" Jeb says jabbing his finger against Halgrim's desk, trying to talk over his excuses. Then Halgrim's voice goes soft and he cuts himself off and Jeb *knows* he is right. Jeb leans back and cocks his head slightly. "Ah fuckin' knew it was him. First of all, he is full of shit just… to the brim with it. His eyes and his hair are brown so *more than full*, overfuckin'flowing. Second of all, Ah will take this to him, punch him right in his smart mouth. You gonna stop me?"

There's no point in arguing against Jeb's logic, because it's reasonably sound. It would also take a better rested person than Halgrim to come up with some creative explanations of what is owed to whom in terms of societal responsibility when you're a walking land mine. So he focuses on staying calm. "I know you don't believe those things. And even if you did, he's a friend, something I think you know I don't have many of, so don't say them in front of me." He only just keeps real anger out of his voice. "And yes—I *will* stop you." Or, he would, if he could, but unfortunately, he probably can't. Not without putting what remains of his career on the line.

"*Ah'm your friend*." Jeb snarls but his voice breaks. "Your friends don't *make you feel unwanted*. They don't make you feel like yer a fuckin' time bomb because you *ain't*. Ah'm your friend. Your friends defend you. What you have too fucking much of in your life is voices tellin' you that you're dangerous, that you're unwelcome, unlovable and Ah won't have them exist on *the outside*."

Jeb sweeps his arm along Halgrim's desk when he says he plans on stopping him, his eyes sparking slightly, dangerously as he backs towards the door. "Don't. Please don't." Jeb says, voice still cracking and there are unmistakable tears in his eyes. "Ah'm your friend. He *isn't* not if he makes you feel like this."

"Of course you are," Halgrim says, pleading almost. One of his hands forms into a fist. "But he didn't *make* me feel this way—that's not what's going on."

The papers and books on his desk go flying, and Halgrim is shocked into utter silence for several seconds. His mounting anger and anxiety dissipate in the face of Jeb's outburst. Thankfully, there's no sound in the hall. No one seems to have heard. "Jebediah," he whispers. "Please don't do this."

Tears track their way down Jeb's cheeks. The boy isn't made of stone and yelling at Halgrim isn't something Jeb likes doing. He doesn't have many friends either. And Halgrim means something far more than a friend to Jebediah. "He did. He did or you wouldn't have put a limit on just Mutant Town. He did or you wouldn't have let speak over you. You wouldn't have cut yourself off. He made you feel unwanted. Ah want you. Adam wants you. Morbius wants you and if he made you feel otherwise he isn't your friend. He isn't!" Jeb matches Halgrim's tone, dropping his voice to an angry and shattering whisper. "You want me to let that slide? You want me to leave it alone? Ah gotta make him regret it. Ah have to make him *take it back*." He inches towards the door again.

Halgrim clears his throat. He keeps talking, carefully and gently. "He didn't make me feel unwanted. Not in any way. So there's nothing to make right, nothing for him to take back. Alright?" He rubs at his eyes. "Think of how this will hurt your brother. He cares about both of you, so it has to be painful for him, seeing the two of you at odds."

"He *did*. And you still call him *friend*." Jeb hisses, tears still making kamikaze leaps from Jeb's eyelashes. "My broth- how *dare* you use him against me? Jay… Jay.. supposed to love *me* more anyway. He's supposed to." Jeb's heart shatters right in front of Halgrim as some knife twists hard in Jeb's chest. He pushes himself against the doorframe. "He did.. come all the way here because Ah fucked everything up though didn't he? He hated his life because Ah messed it up for him. And if Ah go kick Elmo's ass that's just gonna be me fucking everything up again, isn't it? He would choose Elmo."

Jeb swallows hard and then looks up at Halgrim with a broken expression. "And so are you. You would rather Ah leave him alone. Let him keep you from seein' me. Ah live in Mutant Town. Ah work there. My life, it's there. And you would let him *keep you away*. Instead of letting me make him fuckin' apologize and you say fuck him and come with me."

Halgrim shuts his eyes for a second. There's only a few times he's felt more helpless than this. "I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to use him against you. I just want you to think about how doing this will hurt several people. Including yourself." He opens his eyes again. By some miracle, he's not on the verge of tears.

"I'm not letting him, do anything, I'm not letting him keep me away from you. This won't be—" He stops short of making a promise he can't keep. "There are of places outside Mutant Town, plenty of them, and we go there all the time."

Jeb looks down at his feet and a small sob escapes Jeb before he can stop it. "Ah want you to come with me everywhere, Halgrim. Ah w-want to show you the club. Ah want to show you *the world*. Ah want to show you everythin'. Ah want to make you a bad mixed drink. Ah want you to feel wanted everywhere. Ah don't want some st-" he stops himself, bringing his face up and something hard settles behind his eyes. "Right. Don't talk bad about your *friends*. Your friends who put you in a prison. Your friend who lined mutant town with an invisible electric fence and a salt circle. Your friend you won't let me knock their teeth out for it."

"You can pick him if you want. That's fine, but Ah… Ah cain't let him get away with makin' you feel like this. Everybody can choose Elmo. That's okay." Jeb's voice quivers and shakes but he tries to make it stern. "But Ah don't have to."

"I'm not choosing between either of you. I refuse to do that. And, I don't have to, because you're not mututally exclusive." Halgrim swallows, tries taking a step around the disaster which is the floor of his office. "There's nothing, blocking me from — you, Jeb. There's not. Certainly not any*one*." He holds out a hand. "Please, let's—it's late, let's get dinner, something to drink. We both need a chance to calm down."

"There is and he is *three* feet tall, smells like static electricity and math and has a whole family in his garage *and* Jay *and* you and he hurt you and he *still* has you. It ain't fair for you to feel this way." Jeb recoils from Halgrim's outstretched hand. He bends slightly and his eyes flash in warning before he shocks Halgrim's leg, just enough to immobilize him for a minute, to buy him time so he can escape and get a good punch in before Halgrim catches him. And that's when a true sob escapes Jeb, rips right out the young man's chest. "Ah'm sorry. Ah'm sorry." And *then* Jeb takes off down the hallway.

It's the absolute last thing Halgrim is expecting, and either because he's too tired, or Strange's suggestion has been working, or he's just that caught off guard, or some combination of all three, he collapses back onto his chair, rather than succumbing to a much deadlier and more disastrous reaction. He's just able to keep himself from falling to the floor, between the chair and his desk, but he gasps in surprise at the pain and doubles over gripping his leg. He can't even spare a moment to watch Jeb go, because the beast is lingering there, waiting, ever hopeful, and he's whispering to himself in Swedish in an endless plea to wait, wait, just wait. Not now, not right now, but soon. Not right now, though—not here, not now. Please not now.


Jeb runs the entire way to the garage and he's still sobbing when he makes it there, banging on the door hard enough to hurt himself. "ROSENCRANTZ." He yells trying to be louder than the sobs in his voice as he punches the bay door repeatedly until he gets a reaction.

It takes a minute. Elmo's not even in the garage proper, but rather upstairs, playing cards with Vitale. "…the hell?" he says, when the ruckus starts. "Is that Jeb?"

"I don't know what the squirt sounds like. Sounded country to me though, not as pretty as Jay so I would place money on Jeb, yeah. If you're going down to get him to hush, does that mean you fold?" Vitale teases.

The scream of Elmo's last name repeats along with the banging of Jeb's hand against the door.

Elmo's eyebrows are way up. "He, uh, he don't sound so good. I'm gonna check on him. No I *don't* fold, don't you peek at my cards neither." He pokes Vitale in the non-chewed-up leg and gets up, tossing his hand of cards face down on the table.

He jogs downstairs and opens the door. "Jeb?"

Jeb doesn't even *allow* Elmo to get another word out, tears *streaming* down his cheeks, eyes swollen, cheeks red from crying, Jeb nearly blindly takes a swing at Elmo but it doesn't have the power he wanted it to and if it lands, it's likely into his shoulder. Not his face *on purpose*. Jay likes Elmo's stupidly handsome face. "Ah… Ah.. h-h.. Ah *really dislike you* right now!" Jeb tries to snarl at him.

Elmo jerks, startled by getting batted. His eyes are big, taking in what an absolute mess Jeb is. "Buddy, you don't look so good. What's wrong? You want I should call the guys and we'll go rough somebody up?" Barely even registering, to be honest, that Jeb is not happy with him, specifically.

Jeb leans his head back, takes a deep breath and wipes at his eyes then, angry that Elmo isn't hitting back, isn't realizing he's angry at Elmo, Jeb rears back and punches Elmo hard, this time, aiming for his damn face. Bloody that damn nose that helps make him so unusually beautiful. "*You* are! *You're wrong*! You're wrong about Halgrim." Jeb snarls and then for good measure, if Elmo did fall, Jeb shoves him and then follows him down, in a very little brother in a scrap way, Jeb sits on Elmo's waist, going for his wrists to try and pin them.

Vitale from upstairs starts to wheel closer to the stairs. "Sparks?! You okay?"

Elmo yelps and falls, exactly like the last time Jeb punched him. Jeb bloodied that handsome nose of his all right—blood sprays. But that's not all. *POW! POP! POPOPOPOPOP!* An entire circuit's worth of the overhanging fluorescent lights explode. Glass shards shower everywhere. "Jeb what the FUCK," Elmo cries, hands over his nose. Then Jeb's sitting on him and he just flat out panics, squirming frantically to get away. Electricity crackles.

As before, when Jeb hears glass breaking, he abandons his quest for Elmo's hands, throws his weight onto his forearms which he places beside Elmo's head as he hauls himself forward, creating a shield between his body and Elmo's from the glass. When he senses the panic in Elmo's body he growls in frustration, he wanted to hurt him, not send him into a panic attack. He swipes his arm across the ground next to them, clearing it of glass shards and then gets off of Elmo and bodily shoves him to 'safety'.


"You're *wrong* about Halgrim. And you're wrong to make him feel like he can't come here and you're *wrong* to build a barrier here for him. He is a *good * man. He *deserves* to be here. You're wrong f-for tryin' t-t-to take him too. You *have* Jay." Jeb stammers, backing up and tripping over something, falling on his ass during his lecture.

There's glass and blood *everywhere*. Elmo's thrashing like a wounded snake, desperate to get out from under Jeb. He doesn't seem to notice or care that there's glass showering down from what used to be his shop lights. When Jeb shoves him, he scrabbles upright, plastering himself against the side of Jeanne d'Arc. He's covered in blood and his nose is actively bleeding. He stares at Jeb, thin chest heaving.

Jeb's arms are cut up too, because of course they are. He shielded Elmo. Jeb apparently decides that the floor is home now as he lays where he fell, heaving big sobs.

Vitale calls down the stairs. "Elmo? Say something to me *now* or I'm calling the cops. Last chance."

"I-i-it's OKAY, V!" Elmo does not sound okay. He sounds like he just got his nose pushed in. "Everything's….FINE!" Spoiler: it's not fine. He slides down Jeanne's door panel, landing on the floor too. And doesn't say anything else, continuing to stare at Jeb.

"You sound like you took a Bless Your Heart to the face, Elmo. You sure you don't want me to call the cops? Kentucky Jr can sit in jail overnight if you didn't deserve that." Vitale calls down.

Jeb tries to get ahold of himself. Starting to pick himself up off the floor. Placing himself on a work bench and hiding his face in his hands for a minute.

Elmo coughs, almost choking on the blood flowing down his throat when Vitale says that. "Mamzer," he mutters. "Be up in a minute," he yells back at him. Recovering enough of his wits to dig his handkerchief out of his back pocket, he gingerly grabs his nose. Pulling his knees up, he slumps against Jeanne and closes his eyes.

"I sense you said a Yiddish cuss at me. My ears started burning and everything smelled like matzoh. I love you too, pal. Did you kill Jay's squeak of a brother? Do we gotta bury the body? I know a guy." Vitale continues to call down.

Jeb starts to get up finally to make his way to the door.

It is to this collossal mess that Halgrim arrives, a little winded and favoring one of his legs. He pauses at the open door and takes in the massacre. "*Fan*," he growls under his breath, and hesitates, unsure if there's anything he can do now. The damage is done; the battle's been fought, and Jeb's leaving. Now it's just sorting the wreckage, which neither party is likely to want him involved in.

"Don't you fucking walk away from me, Jeb." Elmo sounds pretty funny, holding his nose like that. "You owe me one hell of an explanation." He hasn't even opened his eyes, he just knows Jeb is preparing to slink off. "V, I'm not in the mood!" Like that will help his situation at *all*.

Jeb whirls around on Elmo. "Don't you fucking tell me what to do. Don't talk to me *anymore*. *Ever*. Ah thought we was becomin' friends. Ah did. And then you went and made Halgrim feel like he ain't allowed in Mutant Town but *he* still thinks you're a fantastic friend and he ain't want me to hit him. So Ah yelled at him and Ah shocked him because 'a you. And *now* he probably ain't never gonna speak to me because he didn't want me to punch his short, mean, math and ozone smellin' asshole friend in the face!" Jeb yells at Elmo. Not knowing Halgrim has joined them. "Maybe Ah will just come hit you again. Might be fuckin' worth it with all Ah lose to you."
"How you gonna not be in the mood, Sparks? I'm hilarious and you love me. I brighten every situation." V continues to make a bad situation probably worse and guaranteeing Elmo is gonna hit *him* later for the trouble. "Just crack your belt at him, Elmo. He will run all the way back to Kentucky."

Or perhaps it was just a lull in the proceedings. Halgrim dispels one of Jeb's concerns on the spot, saying, "Jebediah," and taking a few steps towards him. "Please—enough. Come with me. We'll," he glances at Elmo, grimaces, says, "we'll sort this out after you've had time to calm down."

"V, I swear ta God, I'm gonna loosen the lugnuts on that wheelchair!" Elmo staggers to his feet, using JP's GTO as a crutch. He hits Jeb with his most vicious glare, which is even more impressive now that both his eyes are blackening. "What the everloving FUCK is WRONG with you, Guthrie! You gonna hang this on Grim? You love him so fucking much, why you blaming him? It ain't HIS fist in my GOD DAMN NOSE! I ain't never fuckin said he can't come here! I fuckin told him we had to fuckin figure it out, WHICH HE PROBABLY FUCKIN TOLD YA!" Elmo is breaking every record he has for the most times he says 'fuck' in a sentence. His eyes flick to Halgrim. "Hi, Grim. You maybe wanna tell me why Jeb now owes me a new set of shop lights?"

"Ah ain't blaming anything on Grim. Ah'm blaming it on you and your stupid mouth. And Ah ain't sorry and Ah am tired of always, *always* losin' to you." Jeb hisses and reaches in his pocket, pulling out his wallet, grabbing all the money he had in there and putting it on the bench. "Ah am sorry about your lights. Ah didn't think you would do that if Ah didn't zap you." He admits quieter, wiping at his red rimmed eyes. He goes to the door and tries to duck under Halgrim's arm tomorrow move past him.

"Elmo *please*," Halgrim says, weary and close to the end of his rope. He is in no way above begging, because the entire situation has gone wrong in every way it can but one, and that's only a matter of time if things continue to escalate. "If that's not enough for the lights tell me, and I'll take care of it."

He makes no move to stop Jeb; he simply watches him walk past, miserable at his inability to stop things from happening.

"Lose to me? LOSE TO ME? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?" Elmo shoves himself off Jeanne, lips curled back from his bloody teeth. "You get your country ass back here and you fuckin TELL ME WHAT THAT'S SUPPOSED TO MEAN!" He's shaking, tears of fury starting in his eyes. "I ain't coverin' for you to Jay for this one! You fuckin TELL ME, JEB!"

Screaming at Jeb takes up all Elmo's attention. He doesn't even look at Halgrim now.

"Fuck you mean you ain't coverin' for me?! Ah covered for you last time. Ah didn't tell Doug who Ah got in a tousle with at the bar so he wouldn't kick you out forever. Fuckin' tell Jay. Ah don't care any more. He will pick you." Jeb snarls and turns back around, gently ducking under Halgrim's arm again. "Jay will pick you. And Halgrim picks you. And Sam picks his fucking mission. And my dad he picked the mines. And Paige picked fame. And my mama she picked everyone else. And no one chose me! Tell Jay. He'll choose you. Ah'm.. ah'm done talkin'. Ah… shit.. fine Ah'm sorry for fuckin hit you. But still fuck you."

Halgrim grimaces, almost looking nauseated as the conversation moves back and forth between them, with him briefly in the middle of it. He puts a hand to his head. "Stop right now, both of you." His voice takes on a strange depth, almost like it's being felt as much as heard. "This, is *not*, what I *want*." For a half a second, his eyes gleam yellow. It's there and gone, impossible to miss. He sags against the doorframe. "I can't…separate you. It's not safe right now. So I'm begging, you both, to listen to me. Just stop talking. Stop saying anything, at all."

That takes the wind out of Elmo's sails—he stops in his tracks, his eyes flying open wide. Oh yeah. There's that reason he asked Halgrim not to come around until the team had discussed how safe it was. He swallows. Coughs. And doesn't. Fucking. Move.

Jeb, fortunately doesn't have anything left to say but Halgrim's voice terrifies Jeb enough into looking at him instead of at Elmo. Halgrim has his undivided attention.

Of course, *this* isn't what Halgrim wanted either. He sighs, out of everything needed to cope with the situation, including ideas. "Jeb. Please come with me. We'll find Adam. We'll talk to him." Or, more likely, Jeb will talk to Adam, and Halgrim will go find somewhere to let his house guest have its way without killing anyone. "This will be fine, but, right now, we," he includes Elmo with a glance; he can't bear to see him afraid for longer than that, "all, need to rest, and recover, and think. Alright?"

The fear. The pain. The panicked adrenaline. The fury at this betrayal from Jeb. Elmo stares at Halgrim and Jeb with it all simmering in his eyes. He backs towards the stairs, glass crunching under his boots. "Youse get the fuck outta my garage."

Jeb looks like he wants to say something else to Elmo but he really can't bring himself to. He just walks over to Halgrim obediently but decidedly doesn't look at him or speak.

Halgrim nods at Elmo, not able to meet his eyes; he's defeated, in pain, and treading on the thinnest emotional ice he has in months, and all of it is writ clear on his face. He guides Jeb out through the door without touching him, and shuts it behind them. They have a bit of a walk ahead of them, and it passes in brittle silence.

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