1964-12-12 - Gettin To Know Ya
Summary: Elmo, Lamont, and Lindon get coffee at a local diner.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
lamont lindon elmo 

See, Lindon has a theory. His theory is that coffee with Elmo is just coffee. He also has a theory that, because Elmo is interesting and great, he should meet Lamont. And so he's invited them both to the diner not far from his apartment. There's no double-blind here, no bluffs. Elmo, come eat lunch with me and my dear, dear friend Lamont. Lamont, let's have lunch with my friend Elmo.

Blissfully unaware of any undertones, he sits in a booth with a menu, hrming over the club sandwich or maybe a burger. Since the last time Elmo's seen him, he's gotten his suits tailored, and now there's no more bared wrists or highwaters.

Elmo on the other hand is excruciatingly aware of any potential undertones and his jitters make him both wham open the door noisily and then fail at getting it to shut against the brisk wind. He has to lean all of his slight weight against it, cussing it out under his breath. A waitress helps, reassuring him that it happens all the time. He doesn't seem reassured. After that disaster is handled he finds Lindon and slides into the booth across from him. "Uh, hey."

And there's Lamont, sauntering in. Taking off his hat as he passes the door, all cool poise, dressed in a suit clearly tailored to him. There's a little smile on his lips as he makes his way to the booth, hanging hat and overcoat on the hooks at the booth's entry. "Gentlemen," he says, pleasantly.

Lindon rises to his feet, fumbling with the menu before getting it down on the table where it belongs. Then he says, "Elmo! Lamont! Hey." He smiles, that clueless, happy smile of his that is every bit as awkward as it is cheerful. "Elmo, this is Lamont. Lamont, this is Elmo. We met in a bookstore and argued over Heinlein. Well, discussed intensely, I'd say. And Lamont is my housemate, Elmo. He's, ah. The guy I live with." Yep. Smooth.

Elmo doesn't get up, because he was born in a barn. "Hi, how ya doin," he says to Lamont—then stops. Rewinds over what Lindon just said. Compares it to certain other conversations he's had lately. Then tugs his coat tightly closed around him and says, "Great to meet ya," with a lack of enthusiasm.

There's something that might be sympathy in his face, as he holds out his hand to Elmo. "Pleased to meet you," Lamont's voice is gentle.

Lindon takes his seat again and says, "I was just thinking about you," he says to Elmo, "and was wondering how you were doing. Lamont here reads, too, and I thought you two might hit it off." So clueless. He just wants to motherhen all his people together under one wing. "What've you been diving into lately?"

Elmo shakes with Lamont, quite politely and correctly and somewhat miserably. Touching, not touching, who cares? Not him. However he can't stop himself from stuffing his shaken hand under his coat and rubbing it on his shirt. "What?" he says to Lindon, before realizing what he'd said. "Oh, yeah. Asimov. _The Caves of Steel_."

Lamont settles in the booth, right next to Lindon. Not so close it's betraying, but…. "I enjoy Asimov. More than Heinlein," he says, with a little smile. Then he's reaching out to Lindon, mentally. «The poor man. He thought he had a chance with you.»

Lindon's mental noise turns the contact into static. Such a pain in the arse when it comes to trying to carry on a conversation. Enough of the words get through that Lindon regards Lamont oddly. Then he considers Elmo anew. To be fair, doesn't everyone have a chance with Lindon at one point or another? Now Lindon's considering this. "Good pick," he says. "I prefer Asimov to Heinlein, too. He's got a cleaner, more intellectual feel to him."

"Feel?" Elmo says, a little surprised. "Whaddaya mean, feel?" He considers it, morosely. "Yeah, I guess you're right. _Stranger in a Strange Land_ felt …kinda gross. Kinda like warm Jello." He grimaces and flicks a hand like a cat shaking a paw.

Lamont laughs at that, suddenly. "Exactly. He has a ….a sort of smarmy attitude towards human sexuality. Well put."

"Exactly," Lindon tells Elmo, then grins at Lamont when they say the same word. "Smarmy's a good way to put it," he agrees. "Asimov is more factual in his presentation, I think, and he doesn't, um, he doesn't talk down to readers, not that I've seen yet. It's like he invites you to step up with him."

Elmo latches on to that eagerly. "His robot stories, they're so great! The logic puzzles he makes with the Three LawsI read all the Susan Calvin stories, she's a real tough chick, wrangling robots like" He gets so excited he brings both hands out to start gesturing in the classic New York fashion. "Yeah take that, out-logicked!" He stops himself, wincing, and tags on limply, "So how you been?"

Lamont nods at that, genuine enthusiasm lighting his face. Not merely humoring poo Elmo. "I agree. Heinlein does tend to come off like he's preaching to idiots. Asimov respects his readers."

Lindon grins at Elmo broadly. Though the smile fades when Elmo stops himself. But.. but.. the enthusiasm! "Exactly, Asimov respects his readers," Lindon says. He tilts his head as he watches Elmo, and he says, "It's actually been nice and quiet lately. I wish they'd get something nice and rare in at work for me to get my hands on, but the archiving business picks up after the holidays."

"I like _Starship Troopers_," Elmo says to Lamont, picking up just a tiny bit. "But he doesn't do none of that stuff with, the, uh, the three girls just waiting on an old guy. The girls are /pilots/." Even though he was only kind of actually asking how Lindon has been, he leans forward, eyes on Lindon, taking in every expression of the other man's face. "Yeah? What, yanno, do ya do to stuff?"

He's still watching the byplay with curiosity, only looking over as the waitress comes to tend to them. He orders a lemon Coke and a chicken sandwich.

"Exactly. I don't think I want my sister reading stories where the only thing women get to do is hang on some skeezy old man." Like Josie would tolerate that nonsense anyway. At the question, he taps his upper lip, then says, "I catalog it, and I take a known history of the book, which I write up, and I take inventory of the book's condition, marking down any repairs and restoration that might be necessary." He speaks so fondly of the task. "Then we store the book away for safekeeping."

Elmo listens as if finding this intensely interesting. He doesn't interrupt and doesn't protest and doesn't even needle Lindon. He barely tolerates the waitress long enough to ask her for coffee before he's back hanging on Lindon's words. "I never thought of repairing a book," he says. "But yeah, of course you gotta, right? They get all banged up. I bet I could repair a book /real good/."

His expression softens as he gazes at Lindon. "He's been helping me with my collection," he asides to Elmo. "And bookbinding is quite the skill."

"Why don't you come to the house sometime and see what we've got?" Lindon asks Elmo. "I have a few that are beyond my help, but of course I've kept them just in case. You'll love the library. The one in my apartment is piffling in comparison." Yeah, he talks like that. On purpose, even. "I'd love to discuss methods with you. Wouldn't that be great, Lamont?"

"Yeah!" Elmo says, then looks like he wants to take it back. "I mean. I dunno nothin' about repairing paper. Unless you got a book that's got wires, I dunno if I could."

Lamont smiles at that, pleasantly. "It would be great," he agrees. "You're more than welcome. We don't get visitors terribly often."

Lindon smiles softly at Elmo. "We really don't. Don't worry about the books. You'd really do us a favor by looking at some of the old wiring. I don't think any of it has been updated since the 19th Century." He glances sidelong at Lamont at this. To whom he says, "Elmo does things with electronics that would blow your mind. You know that dead coffee pot I used to have? Did you notice it looks exactly like the working coffee pot I now have?"

Elmo is being smiled softly at and then complimented and it makes him slowly turn red, from scalp all the way down his throat. "Yeah I can come have a look at the wiring," he says, attempting to act like he is not the shade of a fire engine. "Pretty easy to replace it, I bet." He grins a little. "When I fix somethin', it stays fixed."

His smile vanishes, into real interest. "Please, please do," he says, and he's not merely humoring Lindon. "It is an old house, and it does need updating and inspecting. Badly."

"Thank you," Lindon says, so sincere. "Here, let me write down our address." He takes a pen out of his coat pocket and does just that, scribbling their address on a napkin, which he then gives to Elmo. It's in a nice neighborhood. Rich people live there. "You'd be a lifesaver. I can't figure out electronics for anything, and you'd think I could."

Elmo accepts the address, eyeing it. A nice neighborhood. A rich neighborhood. A Gentile neighborhood. With a resigned expression, he tucks it into a pocket along with all his other junk. "I ain't licensed to do inspections, but I'll get someone to go do it." Then, with an attempt to sound casual, "Lindon, anybody ever…come up and talk to you at work?"

All of the above, though at least Lamont is not a WASP. Catholic and then Buddhist. "It'd be welcome, but no, I don't expect you to claim credentials you haven't legally. Advice….that's good, though"

Lindon shakes his head and says, "No, not lately. Sometimes friends drop by." Thinking that's what Elmo is alluding to, he says, "You should! When things are slow like they have been, I can have people in my office for awhile. My boss rarely comes to check on me unless there's something important he's waiting on." He bites his lip, ducking his head. "I shouldn't do that too often, but it breaks up the monotony of the day."

"Me?" Elmo says, surprised again. "No, I meant…well, okay. If it's okay." Lindon's head-ducking lip-biting action stuns him out of words entirely. He stares, then with an effort of will, looks away. To Lamont. He swallows and drops his gaze to his coffee. "Sure, that sounds fun. You sure it wouldn't…that nobody bothers you?"

"What do you mean?" Lamont asks, tone utterly bland. Genuinely not sure what Elmo means.

Lindon shakes his head and says, "They don't bother me, no. Not unless something important happens, but if I say I'm speaking to someone, they generally leave me alone." He looks down, awkward and a little ashamed. "I lead them to believe I'm discussing people with books to barter."

Elmo can't handle this weapons-grade adorable Lindon is putting out. He shakes his head, focusing at an oblique angle on the floor. "Just, if someone does bother you, tell 'em to go to hell. Yanno. Don't let anybody bother him," he tells Lamont, seriously. "He's too nice. He'll let 'em."

All solemnity now, Lamont. But there's that spark in his eyes that Lindon knows all too well. Not quite mischief. "I do know," he agrees, with a nod.

Lindon glances between the two of them, and he says with a tentative smile, "I can hold my own. No one bothers me. I'm just a librarian." He looks between them again, puzzled. How often is Lindon harassed and not even aware that's what's happening? Who can tell.

"Just a really /nice/ librarian who never notices when some jerks are mean to him," Elmo says, somewhat waspishly, like being nice is a minor but irritating flaw.

Lindon says his good-byes to Lamont, and he gets a root beer float when the waitress comes by again. Then he settles into the booth and tells Elmo, "I don't run into that many jerks. I rarely talk to people anyway."

Elmo watches Lamont go with thinly-veiled jealousy, but it's short lived. When he turns back to Lindon he's just kind of melancholy. "He's a great guy. Great suit, too." The melancholy clears out for sharp amusement. "You came right up and talked to me, whaddaya mean, you rarely talk to people?"

"Yes, but you were looking for a book," Lindon says. "That's different. Connecting people with knowledge is pretty much my raison d'etre." He smiles a little. "I'm glad I did, too. I like you."

Elmo had faded out the blush. Now it comes back with a vengeance. Without looking up at Lindon, he mumbles, "I like you too." He pulls a bit of metal that looks a lot like a section of bicycle chain out of a pocket and starts fiddling with it. "I, uh, didn't know you had a. Guy. That lives with you."

Lindon watches Elmo with an innocent curiosity, and he toys idly with his spoon when the root beer float arrives. He tucks in, though he's more interested in Elmo's busy hands than the float. "Yeah," he says quietly. Then he says, "It's an odd arrangement."

Elmo's eyes flick back up to Lindon's face, away from the shiny toy, although he doesn't stop playing with it: rolling it over and over against his fingers. "Odd how?" He hurries to add, "You don't gotta tell me. Just…I don't know a lot of stuff. About that."

"He's very open to the idea of me having other friends," Lindon explains. He rubs the back of his neck, and his cheeks color a little. "That must sound really bad."

"No?" Elmo says, cautiously. There's something going on here and he isn't sure what it is. "What's wrong with having friends—" It clicks. He blinks at Lindon. "Oh. …./Oh/."

Lindon's cheeks color darker. "Yeah," he says. He spoons some icecream into his mouth and licks the spoon clean, then licks his lips. "But, I mean, if that's weird. It's weird, isn't it."

Elmo watches the spoon action. His fingers slow, and he drops the bit of metal, which hits the table with a solid clank. Snatching it up again, he closes it in his hand. "I—I dunno that it's that weird," he says, feeling his way through the words. "I mean. Heinlein, right? He had to get it from somewhere. Maybe it's kinda weird. But not in a bad way."

"Oh goodness, may I never take a lesson from Heinlein," Lindon says with a laugh. He eats another spoon of ice cream. Mmm, creamy. "But, yeah. I. uh. This is all really new to me." He toys with his spoon, and he glances at the bit of chain. "But yeah, maybe not bad. He's a really good guy."

"Definitely not bad." Elmo deliberately stops looking at Lindon's mouth before he gets creepy. Instead he studies his toy, rapidly rolling it back and forth. "You're a really good guy too," he ventures, shyly.

"You're nice to say so," Lindon says. "I mean I try. I just, um, you know. It's just the way I am, I guess? Gosh, that didn't come out the way I meant it." Slowly, he works his way through the float. "I think you're great. Just what you can do with electronics alone, you know? And you read Asimov."

Elmo laughs a little, in a bitter, self-deprecating way. "That don't count for much. I can tell you plenty of real schmucks are good with a soldering iron. Asimov's pretty okay, though. I like reading about robots." He looks up. "You really think I'm great?"

Lindon nods quickly, taking no time to think about it. "I do. You're smart, man, and you've been so nice to me." He ducks his head and looks down, then adds, "And you've got nice eyes. They're kind." He chews his lip. "I don't mean that in any creepy way."

Elmo snorts. "You couldn't be creepy if you tried." He doesn't know what to say to compliments about his eyes, and it shows in the way he suddenly gets completely absorbed in fiddling with his toy: turning it over, polishing away imaginary flecks of dust, rolling it between his fingertips. "I tried to be mean to you," he says eventually. "Couldn't do it. You hadda be all…I dunno. Like you didn't care how nasty I was to you."

"It wasn't in you," Lindon says gently. "I've run into some nasty sorts. I mean really nasty. There are people out there who really want to hurt you. Not your feelings, but you, all of you." He shrugs and shakes his head. "It wasn't in you, so there was no reason to get too put out."

Elmo murmurs, almost unconsciously, "I know." His eyes unfocus, watching something replaying in his mind, before he shakes it off. "See, there you go, being all nice again. Well, sorry I was a jerk to you, anyway. It was the suit," he adds, teasing, a little shakily. "Glad you got a better one."

"All's forgiven," Lindon says. He wrinkles his nose as he gets ice cream on it, and he dabs it away with a napkin. "Lamont finally said just go to a tailor. It seems weird, spending so much on clothes, but nothing fits me off the rack. Too tall." Well, too tall to be that skinny, anyway.

"Me neither," Elmo says, with feeling. "Too short. The only stuff that fits me is for thirteen year old girls. I taught myself to sew some, kind of helped. Listen, it's worth it," he tells Lindon firmly. "People take you more seriously if you got ginchy threads."

"My boss seems to," Lindon says, as though he's only just now realizing that. "I just don't want to rely too much on Lamont." He leans in, lowers his voice, and says, "He's rich though. It's pretty nuts."

"He kinda seems like it," Elmo says, lofting his eyebrows in the direction Lamont has left. "Hey, if he wants to help, let 'im. About a suit, anyway, that's important." Rubbing the bit of chain with his thumb, he asks, with a big effort at sounding casual that utterly fails, "You an' him…how long you been. Roommates."

Then there's guileless Lindon who doesn't notice any flaws in the casual attempt. "Oh, for a few months now. I must have moved in… hmm. Summer? July or August. Wow, the time has just flown right by. It seems like yesterday." He pauses, then admits, "We got kittens together. Three."

Elmo mutters, "Adorable," in mock disgust, to hide that his heart is slightly breaking a little bit. "You really like him, huh."

"They really are," Lindon says, so sincerely. He glances after the direction Lamont left, and he says, "Yeah. We're well-suited." He hesitates, then says, "That doesn't mean that we're not allowed to visit other houses, though." He doesn't look entirely sure of the metaphor, so he gives Elmo a tentative look.

Elmo thinks about that, rolling the toy rapidly between his fingertips. It doesn't come clear, and after a moment he shakes his head. "Let's get outta here. I can't do this talking in code."

Lindon relaxes suddenly as he says, "Me either. I'd do better speaking Yiddish than obliquely." He puts enough money on the table to cover the bill and scoots out of the booth. "My place isn't very far away."

"We can do that if you want," Elmo says, flashing a rare grin at Lindon. He slides out, drops the toy into a pocket, and straightens himself up: brushing his coat's lines down, checking the knot on his tie. He tosses some change on the table too, to contribute, and follows Lindon out.

Lindon's Yiddish is… strange. He looks at the air, skimming his eyes from side to side like he's reading, and he says with a butchering accent, «My Yiddish is — what is word — new? Please to speak slow.» He offers Elmo an accomplished smile.

Elmo actually laughs in delight. "Not bad," he says, grin still going. "Not good, but hey—we'll take it slow." He walks beside Lindon with the brisk, no-nonsense pace of a New Yorker who needs people not to mess with him.

Lindon shoves his hands in his pockets and leads the way, or at least starts walking in a direction. "I study a lot of things," he says with a grin. "I know a few words of this and that. Do you want some coffee to go with your coffee? My place has a coffee maker that works like a charm. I keep an apartment of my own here in Queens."

"I hear it got repaired real good," Elmo says with a mischevious glance up at Lindon. Way up. Out in the cold air, in sharp winter sunlight, with people streaming along on the sidewalk, it's a lot easier to forget the emotional gordian knot hanging around under his sternum.

"By the best in the business," Lindon says. He smiles down at Elmo, all gormless and friendly. Like a lab. "I swear the coffee has even tasted better since I got it fixed. The trip isn't too far. Just up a couple blocks, down another, and there's a blockish bank of apartments. His is 3C. It's not terribly big, but for one person it would be comfortable. There's books, of course. So many books. The only clutter there is is books, but there are a lot of them. "Sorry for the mess," he says.

Elmo is absolutely not worsening his crush on Lindon all the time and Lindon is being /super helpful/ with all of his cuteness and compliments. He's distracted from it for a minute by all the books. "Yanno," he says, taking in the bookscape, "you might not have this problem if you didn't buy the same book four times."

"Gosh, this isn't even a fraction of what I've got," Lindon admits. "Most of them are at Lamont's place." He pushes his hand through his hair. "You're right, but…" But look at those big eyes. Give up his first editions? And second and thirds? Why not tell him to pick a favorite kitten!

Elmo gives in, making a little tossing gesture. "Ah, forget it," he says. "You wouldn't be you without 'em." He takes off his coat, hanging it up, then grabs his toy out of one of its many pockets. Clearly he anticipates needing it.

Lindon heads into the kitchen and puts on a pot of coffee. "So this is where I stay sometimes, though I'm usually at our house uptown. I just kind of wanted to have a space, you know? I'm so used to having complete control over my environment, and having a space that's my space. I can't quite let the place go."

"I get that. Even if someone offered to put me up in a penthouse with him, wouldn't do it." Elmo says this with a certain amount of irony, given who the man was who made the offer. He drifts after Lindon into the kitchen.

Lindon sets the pot to percolating, and he leans against the counter, grinning at Elmo. "Depends on who it is, I guess," he says. "I never thought I would, but. Circumstances got a little weird, and I kind of needed someone to watch my back, and so it was easier to just be close to him. Then we got closer than was maybe strictly necessary."

Elmo frowns at the news that Lindon needed, maybe still needs, protection. "I can help," he says. "Watch your back, I mean. If ya want. I can do more than repairing coffee makers."

Lindon considers, then he says, "It's pretty big stuff, though, and I'd never forgive myself if anything happened to you. It's…" He purses his lips, then says, "You're going to think I'm crazy."

Elmo hitches one shoulder and one eyebrow in a fine display of Jewish insouciance. "Who isn't crazy, these days? You don't gotta tell me. But you can if you want." He half-smiles at Lindon, wry and fond. "Ain't gonna put me off."

Lindon says dubiously, "Do you believe in magic? As in spellcasters and wizards and magic?" He takes down two mugs from cupboard and pours, doctoring Elmo's the way he had it at the diner. He offers Elmo his mug, then goes to the kitchen table to sit. He smiles weakly at Elmo. "It's really weird."

Elmo sits, too, and leans his head on his hand, considering Lindon with an unserious gravity. "My best friend is sleeping with Loki. Tell me."

Lindon's brows lift. "As in Loki-Loki? Wow. Okay. It's not Norse-gods weird, at least." He takes a deep breath, then says, "So a few years ago, I was just a librarian, nothing weird about me. Then I got hit with a spell that wasn't meant for me. It did something to me, and because of what it did, there are occasionally wizards who try to kidnap me. Lamont is able to protect me most of the time, so living with him in his warded house is safe."

"Wow," Elmo says, startled despite his claim to familiarity with Loki. "Okay, yeah, that's weird. But I don't think you're crazy. I mean, Thor's on TV, why shouldn't there be wizards? Are /you/ a wizard? Is that why you like Tolkien?" He's letting his mouth run on.

Lindon shakes his head and laughs a little as he says, "No, I'm… no. No mystic abilities whatsoever. I'm just, like, ah. I'm a… The spell that was cast was meant to be cast on a thing to make a relic out of it, a repository for knowledge. So I'm kind of a living relic. Very attractive to mystics who crave knowledge."

"Oh," Elmo says, like this makes perfect sense. "So, you're like Torah. A living book. Torah can be a living person, too, yanno. So that's you. Kinda." He grins lopsidedly. "Don't let any rabbis catch me sayin' that." When Lindon says that part about being very attractive, Elmo starts turning red again, but this time, takes a chance. "Yeah, I can see that. Attractive. Cuz you are. Um, attractive."

Lindon doesn't see it coming, because he's Lindon. When the compliment comes, his eyes widen with such simple delight, and then his cheeks color because he's bashful. Then he grins, ducks his head, and says, "Thank you. I think that, um, that you are, too. Attractive, I mean. Not to wizards. Just, like, the good kind."

"The good kind," Elmo repeats in an agreeing tone. He puts a hand to his face and laughs helplessly into it. "I'm /terrible/ at this." Loki was prophetic in saying he and Lindon would not get anything done. Elmo scrubs his face and takes a breath, trying again, catching Lindon's eyes with his own. "Maybe that wasn't…okay, listen, I'm tryin' to say, I wanna help protect you if you need it. And…I want to take you on a date." He can barely get it out, but he does. "I dunno if you want either of those."

"I'm always happy to be protected," Lindon says, "and I would love to go out on a date with you. I mean, if it's okay that there are others, then yeah, that would be great." He grins, and he relaxes. He was so ready to be judged on this whole 'open relationship' thing.

"If that's what you were trying to tell me," Elmo says, still with that wry half grin, "then, hey. I've never done that before, but I ain't done…a whole lotta things. How'm I gonna know I don't like it if I haven't tried it?"

"I guess a date is one way to find out," Lindon says. "If nothing else, it's a date, and those are nice, right?" He blushes, and he toys with his coffee cup, coming over all awkward. "As for the protection, if you overhear anyone talking about kidnapping the Archive, just give me a head's up."

Elmo watches Lindon with something dangerously close to adoration. "I dunno if they're nice. Never been on one. Gotta be nice, though, with you. You like Jewish food?"

Lindon's gaze skims the air again, and then he turns circumspect, thinking perhaps a little longer than he has to before he says, "I'm iffy on gefilte fish, but yeah, I think I'll like it. I look forward to trying it out."

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