1965-08-27 - Blood of the Covenant
Summary: Jeb comes to Saganaki to apologize formally to Halgrim about his behavior with Elmo and then reassure Halgrim that he's needed.
Related: Debridement, Chain Reaction, Silver Bullet
Theme Song: None
jebediah halgrim 


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


It's a lovely Monday afternoon, and Halgrim is relaxing with a late lunch and coursework preparations at Saganaki. His weekend seems to have been restful and restorative in some way or another; he doesn't seem nearly as weighed down as he has the last week or so (especially Friday). His meal's already been cleared, and he's halfway into a glass of wine, with a small plate of pita slices and baba ghanoush to one side which he nibbles from in between marking up a syllabus with changes.


Jeb hasn't wanted to go and see Halgrim, mostly embarassed by all of the everything that went down but he knows he needs to see him, he needs to man the hell up and apologize. So he heads to Saganaki where he knows he can usually find one of the three 'monsters' if not all of them there. He does come with apology supplies too, a box of homemade herbal teas to help Halgrim sleep. He enters the restaurant quietly and spots Halgrim. He takes a deep breath and approaches the table. "Mr. Lind…" He starts and trails off before he can fuck up Halgrim's name any further. "Can Ah sit with you?"


Halgrim glances up as soon as he hears Jeb speak, straightens, and sits back. He raises an eyebrow. "Are we really all the way back to honorifics and last names?" There's a ghost of a smile playing about his eyes; he doesn't want Jeb to think he's mocking him, but he desperately needs to lighten the mood. "It's said, 'Lind-kuhvist', I think English doesn't have this sort of phonetic arrangement so many will treat it like q and u, kwuh, but it's not the same." He gestures at a spare chair that's going unused. "And yes, Jebediah, please. I have some eggplant dip, if you like that."


Jeb breathes out a small laugh. "Well, Ah figured if Ah'm gonna come give you the formal apology you deserve after Ah acted like a child, Ah should use your formal name, but my hick tongue cain't say all that." He teases, and that sentence seems to do the trick to lighten Jeb's mood right away, he doesn't feel mocked at all. He sits down and places the box on a spot of table that isn't otherwise occupied. "And Ah did, come to say that. Ah'm really sorry and Ah know that it ain't excuse nothin' Ah did but Ah acted out like that because Ah was goin' through stuff that was way bigger'n you and Elmo. You didn't deserve the strife Ah caused and Elmo didn't deserve me breakin' his nose. Ah'm going to go apologize to him too, Ah promise. Ah am really, really sorry and Ah'm gonna start workin' on not being a jackass, Ah promise."


Lightened mood or not, the reminder of how that all came about does make Halgrim sigh. He studies the syllabus in front of him while Jeb speaks, nods, and looks him in the eye. "I accept your apology. And I hope you understand, the only thing I would even be upset about is the risk at which you put yourself." He winces, shakes his head. "It's getting better, but, Jebediah I don't have a good handle on her. She could have easily killed you. Please, promise me, that you'll never do something like that again."


"Ah promise Ah won't. Ah ain't going to have any time to wreck anymore havoc anyway but Ah promise not to get into anymore fights in front of you and Ah promise Ah won't ever use my power against you again." Jeb assures him, looking properly ashamed of himself. At a glance, Jeb does look like hell, rings beneath his eyes, hair disheveled.


Halgrim dips his head, accepting Jeb's apology, and blows out a breath. "Don't be so quick to promise that last part, you might need to deter her some day." He toys with his pen. "And, don't think I'm unaware of why you were upset. Or, part of why you were. I appreciate it, actually, that you want me to feel…accepted. Included." He shuts his eyes briefly and rubs at them. "But, even if they're alright with me going back to Mutant Town, it might be best if I don't. The looks on your faces, when I almost lost her…" He clears his throat, considers Jeb once more. "I know you're not afraid of her. But Elmo clearly is. Others are too. So perhaps it's best, for everyone, if I limit my time there."


"Okay, Ah ammend my statement. Ah promise that Ah won't start any unnecessary fights in front of her. Occasionally Ah might have to be in a fight in front of you because the whole world hate mutants and queers and two men cain't be near each other without being queer. Ah promise Ah won't go instigate somethin' that ain't need to be instigated." Jeb says, scratching at his knee nervously. "It wasn't just that but it was mostly that. Ah desperately want you to feel like you belong wherever the hell you want to be but it was… Ah think that Ah get real scared that everybody goin' leave me eventually and Ah think that's why Ah exploded. It's.. it's no real secret what you mean to me, Halgrim. And unfortunately that place in my life, that role is one where Ah am frequently abandoned, so Ah think Ah just panicked thinkin' you were gearin' up to let me go again."

Jeb nods when Halgrim says he's going to limit his time in Mutant Town. "Okay, Ah don't agree with it but okay. Ah respect that this is your choice. Ah'm sorry that Ah didn't before."


Halgrim leans forward across the table and sets one of his hands out, palm up, for the taking. "I am not, going to abandon you, nor do I have any intention of doing so," he says, quietly and firmly. "Not even for this. If they didn't want me to ever come back there, it won't change that. There are plenty of other places," he gestures around them with his free hand, meaning of course Saganaki, but elsewhere as well, "where you and I can still interact, which aren't Mutant Town. That's not something they can control, even if they wanted to — but, in their defense, I don't think they do. They just have a right to be safe and not scared. And if I'm a risk to either of those," his resolve to not get overly emotional about this entire thing (again) wavers, holds, "it's reasonable for them to want me to stay away — from them, or a place that they are." He looks down at the table. "There is no one who knows better than I what she's capable of, Jebediah. When I see how afraid they are…I know what it is they're afraid of. And I can't argue with a desire to avoid that. No one can." He smiles at Jeb, sadly. "Even you, though I appreciate that you have the courage to do it anyway. So thank you, for respecting this, even if it's not…what either of us, would wish for."


Jeb's eyes nearly water when Halgrim offers Jeb his hand and he takes it. "Not even because Ah messed up?" This seems to be a big fear for Jebediah, being thrown away. He pulls in a deep breath as he works on not getting emotional again. He nods. "They do got a right to be safe and you do have a right to control their safety whichever way you see fit, Ah don't like it. Ah don't like that you feel like you gotta make a salt line and barb wire it for yourself but Ah /have/ to respect your decision when you make it. Ah just kinda want to fight the world whenever it feels like someone has made you or Adam or Morbius feel like they ain't belong somewhere but Ah can't fight you over your own decision. And Ah certainly ain't gonna stop comin' and botherin' you."

Jeb's hand is still wrapped around Halgrim's. He heaves a small shaky sigh. "Would it be alright for me to hug you now? Ah think Ah have shown great resolve in not doin' it as soon as Ah walked in here." He says, trying to light the mood.


"It's different for me, than for Adam and the doctor—I don't have much control to speak of. But, regardless, it means a lot to me," Halgrim grips Jeb's hand tightly for a moment, "that you feel this way, because many people don't, and wouldn't even if I did have things…" His voice fades as he finds he can't keep thinking of it as control, not after his conversation in the forest with Adam. "…stabilized," he concludes. "It means I'm not alone, nor will I be even when it's bad, which is when it's most important." Rubbing the back of his neck with his other hand, he adds, "And it's been quite bad lately, so. Thank you, for wanting to hold on so tight." He welcomes the request for a hug with a nod, and scoots his chair back to allow for it.


Jeb gets up and comes over to Halgrim, wrapping the older man in a tight hug. "Ah love you, Halgrim, with or without your furry, feathery problem, Ah still love you. So no, Ah won't ever leave you alone, never ever. Not you, not Adam, not Mister Morbius, neither. You all deserve all the love in the world but Ah only got one little heart. Ah wish Ah could make the world love you too. Ah wish, Halgrim, that Ah could make /you/ love you." Jeb says quietly, a hand moving to the back of Halgrim's head, gentle. "But for right now, Ah will just have to love all of you twice as hard to make up for it. You, me, Adam and Mister Morbius? We a weird little family and families take care of each other."


If anyone notices the affection, it's not obvious; there are no jeering calls or sideways looks or ugly whispers. The benefits of the Saganaki Courtyard. Halgrim hugs Jeb, warm and close. "Not so small," he says. He makes no comment about loving himself; what's there to say, really, apart from what he and Adam have already said to one another in the darkness of the woods. Nothing he wants Jeb to hear, certainly. He addresses the less morose part of what Jeb's said. "I suppose we are," he says, "but there's nothing weird about random people finding family with one another. That's how it is for many of us. The blood of the covenant, if you will."


Jeb gives Halgrim one last squeeze, petting a hand over the back of his head and then gives the older man a kiss on the temple before he pulls away. "Ah'm really glad that Ah came to New York and found you, Halgrim. Ah know you never feel like it, but you have changed my life for the better just by being here." Jeb says as he sits back down.


"Oh, Jeb," Halgrim says, and sighs, fondly. "I'm glad I did as well." He sits back, takes his wine glass and empties it. "You know, it was pure luck that I came here. I didn't specifically choose New York, Columbia was simply the first University to respond with a start date that amounted to 'immediately'. That's the only reason I wound up here with you, and Adam, and Dr. Morbius, and John, and Strange…" He pauses, clears his throat. "With people who have helped me at a time when it seemed like I was certain to die from this, in one way or another." He taps the table, manages to regain his composure. "Your life isn't the only one being changed for the better, is what I mean to say. You've all saved mine. So please don't think this is one-sided."


"Ah came here followin' my brother, left the day Ah turned eighteen. Wanted to come make everythin' right and still ended up in everyone's way. It's really hard, for me, coming from a huge family and used to sharin' a bed with at least two other bodies, to be all alone. So Ah can't tell you how badly Ah needed you when you came into my life too." Jeb assures him, smiling widely over at Halgrim. "You're so important to me and Adam and Ah'm sure Morbius too. We will take care of you, work our hardest to make you see that you're needed and wanted around."


Halgrim ducks his head, looking like he wants to, in some way, contradict some part of that, but can't bring himself to do it. Which is, maybe, a sign of progress, at least of some sort. He nods, scratches at his beard. "So. To return, to a topic, from before," he waves a hand, "all of this. Your entrance exam." He raises his eyebrows, waiting.


"Oh! Right! Thought that Ah kinda messed up the excitement about that but yes, Ah passed my entrance exam on the /first try/, Halgrim! No one in my family ever gone to college before." He says, eyes bright as he talks about the achievement. "Ah ain't never done anythin' right before. This is the first time."


Dryly, Halgrim says, "I'm reasonably certain, that that's not true," and follows it up with one of his patented 'we've talked about deriding yourself and how you don't do it around me' looks. He leaves off that, though, because smiling about Jeb's success is much better. "You didn't ruin the excitement in the least. You're still going to college, after all. Now," he takes a slice of pita and points at Jeb with it, "if you need help, or tutoring, please tell me. If it's not something I can help you with I can find someone who can." He has a bite of pita and dip.


"Ah'm really excited to learn different forms of art and get formal trainin' in it but any of the readin' stuff, Ah might still need help with, and Ah might make you a lot more gifts to wear. Gonna try out every form of art Ah can until Ah find what absolutely sticks." Jeb says, practically bouncing in his excitement. "Ah still can't fuckin' believe Ah did it on the first try, Halgrim."


Pointing at Jeb with the rest of his pita slice, Halgrim says, "That's how you know that your studies paid off and were worth the effort," and eats the last of it. "There'll be plenty of reading, and I'll be happy to show you ways to get through it without wanting to set fire to all your class syllabi. Let me reassure you right now, that's a common way to feel, and no sign that you're not a good student." He gestures towards the university and waves his hand dismissively. "Not every professor knows how to teach. Arguably many of them don't."


"Ah can complain to you about my bad professors and you'll agree with me. That's good to have and it's good to be reassured that if Ah wanna set my book on fire then Ah'm normal." Jeb smiles. "You got this whole rule about how Ah can't say Ah'm stupid so it's good you told me ahead of time that Ah'm not."


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