1965-09-06 - Falling Down
Summary: Halgrim visits Jeb to see about the previously promised badly mixed drink.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
halgrim jebediah 


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


The first three days of school have come and gone, and miraculously Halgrim has survived them. His courses on the MFAA, ancient Scandinavia, and Illuminated Manuscripts (co-taught with the department expert on the subject; he's more of an assistant for that one) all began without a hitch, and the study sections he's assigned to are a welcome change from lecturing.

This is a non-teaching day for him, and though a good chunk of it has been consumed by office hours and grant writing, he's now free to spend what remains of the afternoon decompressing in the manner of his choice. As Jeb's offer of a badly mixed drink still stands, he walks to Mutant Town, still in his 'professor' clothes (a fine shirt, tie, and slacks courtesy of Adam), and makes his way to Club Atomic. It's a new venue for him, and quiet as they're not properly open, but he knocks on the door, hoping he can catch Jeb there.


Jeb is there, a book on Ancient Art History is open on the bar top while Jeb shines a few glasses. There are mile long dark shadows beneath his eyes and Jeb is definitely looking a little thinner, but it might not be noticeable to anyone who has been around him a lot, but then again, Halgrim does have dad senses. Regardless, Jeb doesn't look great, like he's had a rough night and he doesn't look ready for the bar to open any time soon because when he comes to answer the door, book beneath his arm, he's not dressed the part of boss. He's not even wearing shoes, barefoot and dressed in a faded red t-shirt and ripped jeans. "Hey!" He perks up though when he sees Halgrim, as if he's been waiting all day for him, he greets Halgrim almost every time like it's been a year and a half since they last seen each other, except this time. There is a lack of that smile brighter than the sun that tells Halgrim Jeb adores him and is incredibly excited to see him. His voice is even groggy, distant in a way that has nothing to do with Halgrim but something was definitely eating at the young man. "Come by for that terrible drink?"


Halgrim greets Jeb with a smile that fades as he takes in the current state of Jeb's affairs. He doesn't need dad senses to know something is horribly amiss, and visibly hesitates. "I was," he says, carefully, "though you look like what you need is a good night's sleep. Are you sure you want to be indulging me with a drink rather than taking a nap?" His face is a study in concern.


"Cain't take no nap right now, Halgrim. Ah gotta finish my homework and get the club ready for tonight. Ah'm not gonna drink, you're gonna drink and Ah'm going to make you bad drinks." Jeb insists, holding the door open for Halgrim and waving him inside. "Ah'm alright, Grim. Come on in. Ah missed you, Ah'm real glad to see you here."


Halgrim manages a small smile at Jeb's insistence that bad drinks be had, and permits himself to be ushered inside. "I've missed you as well. And it's true I've never been one to turn down a drink, even one which is questionably made." He has an ulterior motive, of course: he plans to talk Jeb into something sensible like taking the night off and getting someone else to run things so he can rest. "It sounds like you need at least three more people helping you with this place," he observes, taking in the club as he follows Jeb in. He's not one for club going these days, though his coworkers and the graduate students have talked him into it now and then. The fact that he can drink most of them under a table makes it amusing.


Jeb sets his book back down on the bar, flipping back to the page he had book marked with a piece of wood with a feather design burned into it. He props it up for later reading. "Well, Ah hired a few new servers and someone to sing on the nights that Jay cain't. We got a house band so Ah didn't have to worry about that. So Ah did hire some help. Ah can't do it all, Ah realized. Ah was thinkin' if Ah just hire a bunch of pretty women then maybe Doug will come to his gol'damn senses on his own and Ah won't have to punch his teeth directly through his head." Jeb says, but the words are just *exhausted* instead of angry. He turns around then before making his way around the bar and gives Halgrim a tight hug because that's how you *properly* greet your not-dad. "It's *real* good to see you, Halgrim."


Halgrim accepts the hug without hesitation, his hold as firm and it is gentle. "I meant you need to hire someone to help you *manage* things," he says, in a 'nice try convincing my you're not overworked' tone of voice. "So that you can take days off when you need them — which is clearly more than you're allowing." He steps back, eyes Jeb critically. "You also need to eat far more than you are. If you're not careful, I'll start inflicting my cooking on you. It's not for the faint of heart." He leans against the bar, expression still serious. "It sounds like you and 'Doug' have been at odds? Is he the," he gestures around them at the Club, "the owner?"


"Doug was the owner all by himself, so Ah gotta be the owner all by myself. Ah gotta do this for Doug." Even if he's a big bastard right now, Jeb doesn't say and rubs at his eyes when Halgrim pulls away with a sniff. He groans a little at Halgrim's chastising that he needs to be eating more. "Ah'm fine, Halgrim. You don't have to worry about me when you worry about everythin' else too much. Ah always been thin, Ah'm the same size Ah was when you last saw me. Only he very much isn't. This shirt doesn't look like it was owned by a much bigger brother before him, but it still hangs off his frame.

"He is the owner, yeah, he was here last night. But he wasn't himself. He was this evil jackass version of himself, came here and said a lot of nasty shit to my brother, about my brother, was just all over a nightmare. So Ah hit him because he needed to be hit. Cog… Cog… Cognitive Recaliber… Recalbrashion or whatever the *fuck*, he needed to be punched in the fuckin' face real hard." Jeb sits a glass down harder than he means to and his hands are shaking while he speaks.


"Just because Doug was running it alone doesn't mean you should be — was he also in college?" Halgrim raises an eyebrow. "And was he the same age as you?" He means 'as young as' but has the grace not to say it. He leans forward on the bar, folds his hands. "I probably do worry about too many other things, but I'm happy to make room to worry about you. You're a thing worth worrying about." He gives Jeb another obvious once over. "And I *am* worried."

The conversation takes a turn Halgrim wasn't expecting, the glass comes down with a loud clank, and Halgrim starts. He stares at Jeb, surprised. "You — I'm sorry, he was acting strange? Abusive? So you…hit him?" Is he thinking of the situation with Elmo? …maybe.


"He's barely any older than Ah am, if that's what you're askin'. He's 22 or somethin'. Think he's turnin' 23 soon. And no, he wasn't in college but Ah don't think there's a thing college can teach him but Ah can handle the club and my schoolin', Halgrim. Ah got it handled. Ah'm okay." Jeb insists to Halgrim, not wanting Halgrim to worry himself sick over Jeb not eating enough or sleeping enough and burning himself out despite the fact that it was very obviously a thing that was already happening. Jeb looks down at himself when he catches Halgrim giving him a worried once over. "Ah swear, Grim, Ah always been this thin, Ah'm okay. Ah already told you, that Ah'm just little."

He looks over at Halgrim apologetically when he startles him. "Sorry, sorry, Ah didn't mean to set it down so hard." He says quietly but he's still trembling. "He just.. He wasn't actin' like himself. Somethin' like, he gave himself a brain virus and it turned him into his future self? And he was saying stuff to Jay, awful stuff about how Jay never really loved him because of this or that thing and then bringing up his past… the past that was all my fuckin' fault… saying… saying that.. that.. that… *that* Jay tried to k-kill himself.. b-be-because.. of.. and… Ah just hit him because maybe if you knock his teeth out his mouth he'll start actin' right." The trembling just increases more as Jeb starts to stammer, using all of his willpower not to cry in front of Halgrim. He's been doing too much of that lately and it's certainly not going to make Halgrim worry any less.


Halgrim's concern redoubles, becomes resolve, and without a word he comes around the bar to pull Jeb into a hug. "Det är okej, jag är ledsen," he says, softly. "Det kommer att bli okej." He either doesn't realize he's not speaking English, or feels like it's more soothing this way. Maybe both. He continues in English, "I'm so sorry, Jeb, no one should have to experience anything like that. But it's going to be alright. We," he pauses, makes a face, because 'brain viruses' and 'future evil selves' could not be further from his ability to help with, "*someone*, will help straighten him out." Someone not likely to be him, and not just because it's outside his area of expertise. He's not likely to be able to keep Fjorskar at bay if that's the sort of thing 'Doug' is saying to people.


Jeb melts against Halgrim's chest, wrapping his arms around Halgrim's back and the fabric of his shirt into his fists, holding onto Halgrim like he might fall off the face of the planet if he releasing him a little and Jeb shakes. Jeb trembles so badly, he might move Halgrim along with him. "He s-s-said that he killed Sammy too.. in another life, that we were lucky Sammy wasn't here. Why would he wanna kill Sam? Why would he wanna hurt my brother? That's not Doug. What if he hurts Jay? I know Jay can heal but how much? There might be a limit. What if Doug can figure it out? If he wants to hurt Sam… if he *did* hurt me and he said all this awful shit to Jay… what if he kills Jay while Jay is out there tryin' to fix him?"

And then Jebediah says something that Halgrim might have never expected to hear from the fearless little Guthrie, the Guthrie who frequently spends time with vampires, men who spontaneously turn into chimeras and men nine feet tall made of pieces of other men, the little Guthrie who calls each of them beautiful and loves them unconditionally, the little Guthrie who will likely die young because he tried to pet something that wanted to eat him or thought a villain was just misunderstood and needed a hug.

He nearly whimpers against Halgrim's chest….

"*Ah'm scared.*"


Halgrim listens to Jeb, strokes his hair. Some of what Jeb says makes Halgrim's heart hammer in a transference of fear — fear for what this is putting Jeb and Jay, and no doubt others, through — and that in turn calls forth a much different and vastly more dangerous response. He swallows, wills himself and the spirit to calm. The threat isn't here, isn't his to deal with. Here, now, with Jeb, is what needs to be addressed. The spirit withdraws, for the moment.

When he knows he can speak in a steady voice, he says, "It's alright to be scared, especially in a case like this. But don't doubt your own strength — in your position I wouldn't be able to do school," he huffs a short laugh, "let alone run a club. I'd be useless to everyone. You're remarkable, to still be standing." He sighs, shuts his eyes. What can he hope to say about the horrific actions of a supposedly future self? "Jay should absolutely not undertake this alone. If Doug is saying these sorts of things, and claiming to have done that, then you're all in danger. You must protect one another, even as you look for a way to save him." He manages, somehow, to say all of that with equanimity, despite the overwhelming urge to say something angrier and less useful.


Halgrim's fingers meet Jeb's hair and the dam doesn't just break, it shatters and Jeb starts to cry and cry *hard* against Halgrim's chest. It's hard to tell if it's because Jeb is afraid or if it's because he's burnt out or if it's because all this new information about his brother and the hardships he dealt with that Jeb hadn't any idea of or if it was the stress of trying to keep the club in tip top shape for someone who threatened to lay a pummeling down on him that he wouldn't forget and school and everything else, or maybe it's a combination of everything that shakes Jebediah right apart in Halgrim's arms but he can barely breathe, let alone respond to Halgrim as Halgrim tells him that it's okay to be scared and it's hard to feel strong when he is soaking the front of Halgrim's shirt in tears.

"J-Jay w-w-won't l-listen t-t-to no one… ju-just wants to s-s-save Doug and I n-n-*need* Jay. Ah l-love Jay more-n anyone e-else in the wh-whole world… Ah cain't lose Jay but Ah… alre-alr-already almost did.. Ah wanna save Doug but Ah don't want Jay to be hurt no more." He stammers out between hard sobs.


If the impending need to have his shirt dry cleaned bothers Halgrim, there's no indication. He's quiet while Jeb sobs, careful not to dwell to closely on the specifics of what Jeb has said. That's going to have a bad result. He just murmurs encouragement and soothing words by turns, most of it not in English.

He leans back a little so he can look Jeb in the eye. "He may listen to you if you tell him that. I don't mean you should tell him to not try to save Doug," he grimaces, because a part of him does think that, but he also knows that's unfair, and quashes the reaction, "I mean make it clear to him, this isn't something to undertake alone. Insist he have help, that he accept it, *and* seek it. Be sure he understands, that losing him as well isn't something you can bear."


Jeb's brown eyes are red rimmed and teary and this is certainly worse than Halgrim has ever seen Jeb cry, he pulls one hand away from Halgrim's shirt, to wipe at his eyes and nods. "Ah'm r-r-really sorry about y-your shirt, Da.. *Halgrim*." He tries to quickly correct himself from what he was about to say, but the other *d* can be probably caught. "Ah will. Ah'll talk to Jay. Ah'll tell him that Ah cain't lose him because Ah really cain't." He tries to catch his breath, rubbing hard at his eyes but that other hand is still wrapped desperately in Halgrim's shirt still. "Doug threatened to really hurt me if Ah ever lifted a hand to him again but Ah don't fuckin' care.. if he does… Ah won't let him hurt my brother no more."


Halgrim smiles, sadly and fondly, for the fact that he isn't, in fact, a father, much less Jeb's. Of course, as he's told Adam, it's still probably a good thing; he could have easily killed his own family before he understood what the amulet was doing to him.

He puts his hands on Jeb's shoulders. "The shirt will clean up fine. Don't worry about it one bit." He looks aside as he thinks a moment. "You should consider asking Elmo to help you with this. Between the two of you, you ought to be able to get through to Jay." His jaw works and he visibly tenses at the mention of Doug threatening Jeb, though this doesn't translate into any pressure on Jeb's shoulders. He takes a slow breath and lets it out, walks himself back from wondering what would, in fact happen if he was there when someone tried to hurt Jeb. He's reasonably sure he already knows.

"And," now he does grip Jeb's shoulders, gently, "promise me, that you won't attempt to take on Doug by yourself. If Jay is in danger from him, so are you."


"Why do you have to make me promise things that Ah ain't want to promise you?" Jeb complains softly, pulling in a deep breath, shaking hand still caught in Halgrim's shirt, clearly still unwilling to let go, Jeb is more than just a little shaken. "Okay. Ah promise that Ah won't take him on by myself. What Ah will do instead is Ah'll take Elmo with me and pump Elmo full of fuckin' electricity and then *he* can fix Doug real good. Ain't shock therapy a real thing? Elmo and Ah will make a great team." He tries to sound more stern than he is but the emotion that had worked his voice raw prevents that from happening. He rubs at his head, aching from crying as much as he had and looks over to the glasses that still needed shining at the bar and he nearly starts to cry again at the idea of there being more work he needs to do. "Do you think real Doug would be mad at me if Ah didn't open the club tonight?"


"I wouldn't need to ask you to make such a promise if I thought you wouldn't do it," Halgrim points out with a glint in his eye. The humor is short-lived; the idea of Jeb and Elmo combining their powers in such a manner gives him pause. "That sounds incredibly dangerous, for both of you and for Doug. I advise against it. You'll probably need to consult someone with abilities of the mind to heal him." He can't help a wry smile. "And, as much as I can sympathize with wanting to hurt him for hurting you," and can he ever, "it's likely to hurt Jay as well. I know you don't want that." He sighs. "Of course you must protect yourselves and Jay, but…as hard as it is, keep that in mind."

"'Real' Doug isn't in a position to expect anything of you," Halgrim says, not unkindly. "But no, lacking anyone to help you ensure it can be opened, I don't think he would." His eyebrows go up. "And if you do intend to keep the club running while dealing with this, and school, you need to find people to help you manage it. Don't expect to handle all of this alone, Jedediah."


"Ah won't actually take Elmo with me to go hurt Doug, Ah don't wanna hurt him, even if he told me he would beat the hell out of me and he hurt me back, Ah don't want to hurt Not-Doug because Real-Doug is in there somewhere and Ah don't want to hurt him." There's no telling what this does to Jeb's view of Doug though, if Jeb is going to be afraid of Doug forever, knowing what he does, wary of him. "Ah also don't want Elmo to get hurt, just because Ah want to keep Doug from hurtin' my brother anymore."

"Ah can get it open by myself, D-Halgrim. Ah have before. Ah can do this just fine without another manager. Ah just needed more employees is all. Ah can't run the club and tend the bar and clean the tables and make sure the band doesn't get wasted while they're playing. Ah can do this. Ah can do this and Ah can do school. Ah'm okay. Ah'm doing okay." Jebediah Guthrie, is not, in fact doing okay at all. He isn't sleeping, he isn't eating. He is doing the opposite of okay. "Ah can handle it. Ah am handling it." *Not Well*


Molified by the reassurances Jeb has no intention of actually hurting Doug (or getting anyone else hurt), Halgrim returns his attentions to the other issue at havd. He lifts one hand and doesn't quite lay it along Jeb's cheek. "You're not, though. Perhaps you can't see it, but I can." He ducks his head a moment, sighs. "Ask Elmo. Or Jay." He narrows his eyes as a thought occurs to him. "Or JP. Ask them if you seem overburdened, if you seem like you're handling things fine." One brow goes up. "You can even tell them I told you to ask them. But if you won't trust me on this, perhaps you'll trust them. I know they all care for you, and will be truthful to you." He looks out at the club. "I'd be happy to help, except my duties to the University and my situation have me at the most I can handle already. Hire more employees, of course, especially if you need them. But consider another manager as well." He looks Jeb in the eyes now. "You don't have to do this alone."


"It's not that Ah don't trust you, Halgrim." Jeb insists, hurt a little by the idea that Halgrim might think such a thing and when Halgrim's hand hovers just before touching Jeb's cheek, Jeb reaches up to take it and put it there. "It's okay." Whether he means for Halgrim to touch him or the situation, who knows. "Ah am overburdened, Halgrim. Ah know that Ah am but Ah also know that Ah can do this or that Ah have to. Ah would never ask you to help, Halgrim. Ah know that being here in Mutant Town makes you nervous and that you have plenty of other work you gotta do."

Jeb looks back at the bar and sighs, a little defeated. "Ah just.. Ah just won't open tonight. Ah'll open it tomorrow." He insists. He looks over at Halgrim, rubbing his thumb against Halgrim's hand as he gently pulls it away from his cheek. "Can we go see Adam instead of me opening the club? Ah'll bet that he'll tell me that you're right and Ah gotta do better at takin' care of myself too."


"I know you wouldn't, that's why I'd offer," Halgrim says. "And I'd refuse to take no for an answer." Ah, to be twenty years younger, when he would have laughed at Jeb and told him he was going to start randomly doing things until Jeb consented to tell him the right way to do it and thus accept Halgrim's help. Now he can only hope that between himself and Adam they will talk Jeb into sharing the workload of running the Club. And maybe Halgrim will take it upon himself to speak to Jay, once this situation with Doug is settled.

This is maybe the best he can hope for, so he nods, steps away from Jeb (taking his hand from Jeb's cheek). He surveys the situation with regard to his shirt. "I'll need to get another shirt, I think. We can stop by my apartment, then we'll go find Adam. Alright?"


Jeb swallows and his cheeks turn a little pinker with embarrassment when he looks at the state of Halgrim's shirt and nods, looking quite apologetic. "Ah'm really sorry that Ah did all of that. Ah'm sorry. Ah'm supposed to be stronger, Ah know, it was just a lot… All of it was a lot and Ah had it all bottled in here. Ah'm still sorry, that you had to be the person Ah exploded on… again." He says with a sigh. "Ah never got to make you a bad drink. You're gonna have to come back again."


Dismissing the drink with a wave, Halgrim says, "There will be plenty of opportunities for you to make me bad drinks. I'll make sure of that." His expression grows more intent. "And please don't feel you need to apologize for this. You're never required to be strong, not the extent that you hold these things inside. I'm more than happy to listen when you need someone to talk to, even if you're feeling bad and it's going to be difficult." He thinks of the complete emotional wreck he was for an entire evening in the mountains, and smiles a little; thankfully only Adam and the trees and sky and a deer skeleton witnessed that. "Especially then. That's when I want to be there for you the most." He plucks at his shirt. "And don't worry about this. The Mazurciewicz brothers will make short work of this. Fear not."


Jeb brightens up a lot more when Halgrim says he'll make sure that there are plenty of opportunities for Jeb to make him terrible drinks, which means Halgrim intends to come around more often. There's really no mistaking how much Jeb truly adores Halgrim, especially when his face brightens nearly every time he sees the older man. "Ah'm glad there will be plenty of time for me to make you drinks that are either too goddamn strong or too sweet or just terrible in general."Jeb says, wiping at his eyes, the flow of tears finally stopping. "Ah could pay for your shirt to be taken care of but Ah ain't gonna even try to say that name you just did. Ah will lean on you when Ah need you, before it gets this bad again."


"Mah-zur-keh-vich," Halgrim repeats carefully. "It's Polish, they fled the war." Which, in all likelihood, also means they're Jewish. "I've been tutoring their youngest daughter in English, so they do my dry cleaning at a significantly reduced cost. There's no need for you to pay for this, not in the least." He pats Jeb on the back companionably. "I'm glad to hear you say that. If you hold things in too long, they'll hurt you." He smiles a little. "Someone I was very close to once told me they poison you; slowly at first, so you don't notice, until your every interaction with life is painful. Don't let that happen to you, Jebediah. It's an awful thing to suffer alone in silence." Of that, he speaks with unequivocal authority. He gestures at the door. "Come. Let's get me some different clothes, and find Adam."

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