1965-11-08 - Questions of Why
Summary: Elmo and Amber work on the future Danger Room.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
elmo amber 

It's a chilly, misty November night on the grounds of the Institute. Elmo is working at his fourth…no, fifth? maybe? …job, building a kind of obstacle course that can change itself to challenge all levels of ability. Seems pretty useful to him. He's on his knees, surrounded by mysterious parts and things, consulting a blueprint held flat with his toolbox. Goggles on, hair all afrizz with the moisture, muttering savagely to himself in a mixture of Yiddish and English.

Amber finds hard at work. Julie had warned her that he'd be working on some manner of Secret Squirrel project for the Professor, so she's ambled out to inspect the goings-on. The young cowgirl's wearing her trademark jeans and Stetson, but tonight, she's added a new element. A long brown duster coat that doesn't look like it's within the budget of a humble groundskeeper, not to mention some pretty decent leather gloves.
"So, this is what yer up to?", Amber calls, hoping to startle the young man.

Elmo startles all right! A yelp jerks out of him and a crackle of electricity pops off as he scrambles around. Static raises his long hair and he looks like a frightened cat, eyes big behind his goggles. "…Jesus!" he complains, sagging when he realizes it's Amber. "Gotta scare a guy like that. Uh, hi," he adds, sheepishly, pulling off his goggles.

Amber giggles and blushes. "Sorry, sorry, really, I am, Elmo!", she says. "I just couldn't resist.", she grins, doffing her hat. "So, this is the Professor's Super Secret Plan?", she inquires, looking over Elmo's workings. "Heh, yeah, seems 'bout right for hereabouts. Half jungle gym, half death trap.", she winks.

"Hmf," Elmo tries to grumble, but Amber's giggling makes him smile back, shy. He eyes her duster, maybe a little enviously. "That's a great coat. Does it come in blue?" Standing up, he shrugs, going bashful. "Yeah, Kaleb, you know him, Echo? He got me 'n Diz to work on this. It's pretty cool, though! Uh…I'm not sure I can talk about it too much." He tilts his head, looking around at all the half-assembled equipment. "Anyway, hi." Looking back at Amber, he raises his eyebrows at her interrogatively. "How ya doing?"

"I am well, thankee kindly.", Amber replies with a smile. "Looks like Fall has fallen 'round here. Not so harsh as I thought it might be.", she muses, looking around her. "Likin' the way the trees turn all colorful.", she notes. "Never knew there was so many shades of red an' brown in leaves. It's fascinatin'.", she sighs happily.
"Kaleb…Seen him here an' yon' a time or two, but never met the feller.", Amber notes. "Been too busy playin' cards an' rakin' leaves.", she winks. "Hence the get up.", she adds. "You can thank a gentleman who back the weakest ace /ever/ for the coat.", she grins.

"You look fantastic," Elmo offers, still shy, not looking Amber in the eye. "Stuff really works on you. I ever meet that guy you won the coat from, I really do gotta thank him." …That was a line more appropriate for JP, and Elmo flushes, clearing his throat. "Uh. Yeah, I mean…pretty mild fall we're having so far. It'll get worse, don't worry. I guess you don't get the turning leaf show where you come from?"

"Heh, not so much. Not a lotta trees where I come from.", Amber chuckles softly. "Leastways, not them as leaf out like here.", she adds. "Ain't ever seen so much leaves in once place in my /life/. Oaks an' Elms and…hell, I dunno, damn leaves just keep falling.", she sighs. "Them trees are apt t' be bare as a baby's ass come winter, I reckon'.", she notes, looking around at the offending foliage.
"Thankee, kindly, Elmo. I appreciate that.", she says. "Word of advice, if you flop a pair of tens, and you got an ace in the pocket, you /fold/. No substitions, exchanges or refunds. Get the hell /out/ of that hand.", she says gravely.

"Yeah. Trees just look like sticks, in winter. They sleep, yannow." Elmo watches Amber as she talks, charmed that she's never seen a real fall before. He laughs, at her poker advice, and runs a hand over his hair. Completely futile, it's still frizz. "I, uh, I'll do that. My buddy Jay's right, I don't got a bluff in me." Awkward, he just stands there for a minute, fiddling with something in a pocket.

"So I'm told, trees sleepin' an' all. Be damn glad when they get 'round to it.", Amber says, giving them a reproving glance. "Reckon it looks 'bout like a horror movie, all them sleepin' trees with their fingers pokin into the night.", she muses, then chuckles. "'Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.'", she recites toughtfully.

Elmo admits, "It does look like a horror." Why lie about it? Amber's quote raises his eyebrows again. "I've read that somewhere. What was it…" he tugs his hand out of his pocket, snapping trying to jog his memory. "Uhh, Jackson! Shirley Jackson. We hadda read it in English."

"Yeah, liked that book.", Amber nods. "Scared the hell outta me,

"Heh, yeah, liked that book.", Amber nods. "Scared the hell outta me, but took it's meanin'.", she nods somberly. "'Bout how ghosts ain't gotta be all about the supernatural, sometimes, they're what you're runnin' from.".

Elmo stuffs his hand back in his pocket, as if to hide it. "Yeah," he says, quietly, eyes on the ground. "S'only ghosts I know." There's a lot he's not saying, one gets the impression. "Hey, uh, so, what brought you to New York?" He valiantly tries to shake the mood. "You know, they say nobody's really from New York. Everybody's from someplace else."

"Heh, thought that was California.", Amber replies with a chuckle. "Ah, ain't much of a tale. Got in some trouble out in New Mexico. Went to the bank to cash a paycheck for a job I did for a rancher, shorin' up some fencin' and the like.", she says. "Lovely spring mornin' in the mountains out there. And, whaddya know, two of the dumbest sumbitches I ever met picked /that very moment/ to decide to rob the place.", she grumps, pursing her lips. "Weren't hardly nobody there, just me an' a couple of teller ladies, the manager and one other feller.", she explains. "But one of 'em's got this…/look/…He's clearly on the hop, ya know? Apt to start shootin. So I…did my thing.", she shrugs. "Heard tell he spent a prodigous amount of time in the burn ward.", she smirks.

Elmo listens with interest, rocking back and forth lightly on his heels. He's enjoying listening to her accent, much more melodious than his own. At the end of the tale, he flashes a full grin, rare and brilliant. "I dunno, that sounds like a pretty good story to me. Nice job, roastin' the son of a bitch. That how you knew you were a mutant?" Which is a question he couldn't ask almost anywhere else in the world, except right here, on the grounds of Xavier's.

"Heh, son, I knew I was a mutant when I was…..jeez, maybe ten, eleven years old? First time I got my….", she pauses, clearing her throat suggestively. "Shit started catchin' on fire every time I got upset or scared or just…y'know.", she winks. "Folks dealt with it best they could. Never blamed or shamed me for it, but, hell, I'm a /pyro/.", she chuckles. "They did every damn thing but install a sprinkler system.", she sighs.
"So now we're swappin' truths, what's your story?", she asks, cocking her head curiously. "How'd you land here?"

Elmo turns red again, winked at. It's so easy to embarrass the guy. "Got your…?" He doesn't understand, then realizes and turns deeper red. "Right, okay, yeah, right. Kinda went through something similar, with electricity. Actually, I still lose it, like…all the time." Said in a mutter, and he kicks the ground. "Don't make JP happy when I blow out all the lights at the garage, believe me."

He glances back up at her, smiling a little, wry. "Me? I was actually born here, believe it or not. Lower East Side, born and raised." It's believable; he has a classic New Yorker accent, with a hilly Yiddish cadence. "But my folks came over from Germany, so, you know. Hardly counts."

"Heh, yeah, takes a spell to get any control, don't it?", Amber replies, nudging the young man in a friendly way. "Yeah, yeah, you mentioned that. You are a New Yorker, ain'y ya?", she smiles. "Germany?", she asks, "Hah, shit son, my family's prolly as German as yours. Last name a' 'Mueller' and all.", she giggles. "But it's good you're in familiar territory.", she notes. "You know this place. Me, still learnin'.", she shrugs. "Don't think it's comprehensible, tell the truth.", she notes. "Too many people."

Elmo lets himself be nudged, grinning sheepishly, blush not abating in the least. Last time Amber gave him a friendly nudge, he slightly fell all over himself. This time he's got it, he's cool, he's got this. "Yeah, seems likely, huh? My family's Rosencrantz. My folks came over…you know. Before the war." Delicate topic; he shrugs uncomfortably. "Eh, nah, you're doing great. Even people live here all their lives don't know all there is to know. New York's a tough town to learn. Complicated, you know?"

"Yeah, that's an understatement.", Amber chuckles, nodding. "Can I tell you a secret?", she asks in a whisper.

Elmo's eyebrows pop up and he leans in a little. "Uh. Yeah, sure."

Amber whispers. "I kinda like it. I mean, I don't really /get/ it, but I kinda /understand/ it, if that makes any sense."

That brilliant grin is back, as Elmo nods. "S'good. Lotta people hate it. Like…every other Southerner I know, which is more than you'd think." He ventures a nudge of his own, elbowing Amber friendly-like. "You got the vibes."

Amber returns the nudge playfully. "It has it's deficiences, to be sure.", she says with mock pomposity. "There is a horrible lack of chicken fried steak.", she begins. "Only one true chili dawg place in the whole danm city,", she sniffs, then grins. "I shall take you there son, it's an /oasis/ of simple, good things.", she sighs for dramatic effect. "Otherwise, yeah. I get it. Dunno if I want a lot of it, but..", she smiles diffidently and shrugs.

"Been to New Orleans, with my team. I really liked it there, too. It's…" Elmo pauses, thinking of the word he wants. "Slow," he concludes. "Seems like every good reason in the world to sit by the river and not do nothin'. Man, you can't eat kosher there, though. Never knew how much I took delis for granted. All they eat there is pork and shellfish."

Amber chuckles. "Never made it down t' New Orleens.", Amber replies, perking up. "Is it as crazy as they say? Hear tell they party damn near twenty four seven."

"And what is this 'kosher'?", she adds. "I mean, I know what it /is/, like some kinda guidelines for what y'all eat.", she says, then, blushes faintly. "No offence meant."

"In the city, during Mardi Gras, yeah, it's crazy," Elmo says, shaking his head over the memory. "We were in the bayou mostly, so it was okay. JP and Sev, they're Cajun, their family lives out there." He laughs very quietly, over the question. "It's okay, I've had to explain it, no big deal. It just means stuff's fit for eating. There's a bunch of rules. Some of 'em are dumber than others. Some we just do because somebody decided one day it should be like that, like having two sets of plate for meat and dairy. No reason you have to do that, just people do. There's more serious stuff like no eating pigs, no eating shellfish, on account of they live in the mud. Just a ton of stuff. Bein' Jewish is mostly about knowing a billion rules."

"Why?", Amber asks sincerely. "I mean, I tried religion once or twice, never seemed to stick.",she sighs. "Ain't a prayer I've ever uttered been answered. Figured out I gotta do them for my self."

Elmo's puzzled by the question. He has to think about it, studying Amber's face curiously. "Why?" he echoes. "You know, nobody has ever asked me that before? Well, I just am. It's not about religion, yannow? I don't think there's no God, and if there was, He'd be a real prick to let Jews suffer like we do. Prayer, schmayer," he waves a hand sharply, "I'll take a good power drill any day. It's just…sorta what we do. How we live."

Amber nods somberly. "I meant no offense.", she repllies gently. "My way of life'd probl'y confound you, too.", she notes. "Again, no offense meant."

"No, no," Elmo shakes his head. "Not mad. You don't know, you just wanna learn stuff. It ain't your fault. I'm not gonna be mad because you wanna know stuff." He smiles at her, crookedly. "People don't know a lot about us. Or, they think they do, but they don't."

"I'd like to learn.", Amber replies. "If you're willin'?"

Elmo shrugs, lighthearted. "Sure. There ain't no one answer to bein' a Jew, though. We say, ask two Jews, get three answers. Maybe you wanna meet up for coffee somewhere?"

:grins and nods. "Sounds good t' me. You pick the spot.", she replies. "Maybe, if'n you're willin', I can make a cownoy outta you.", she smiles. "Ain't so hard as you think."

Elmo really blushes at that and covers his face suddenly, hiding his eyes. "Oy gevalt, you Southerners. Okay. I'll pick. Can I call ya in a couple days, get it worked out?" He parts his fingers to peek at her.

"You do that.", Amber winks. "I'll work on th' other thing. You're gonna /love/ it, I promise!"

"Ahh, can't wait to see it." Elmo makes himself drop his hand. He's still got that lopsided smile. "I, uh, I guess I oughta get back to work. This stuff ain't gonna build itself."

"How can I help?", Amber replies, looking things over. "We gotta make it /scary/, 'less'un, there's no point, she winks, ready to help.

Elmo brightens up. Engineering stuff! "Okay, you see this part here?" He kneels to point to a section of the blueprint…

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