1965-08-29 - Yiddish Under The Stars
Summary: Elmo takes Jay out to a concert. There's flirting, Yiddish punk, kosher food trucks, and people throwing beer bottles at muties.
Related: None
Theme Song: https://youtu.be/9h03I0cO3kw Golem - Vodka Is Poison
jay elmo 


The next time Elmo knocks on the door of Jay's-but-actually-Kaleb's apartment, it's to pick him up for their date. The evening is clear and warm, cooling from a hot August day. Elmo, remembering Jay liking him casual, is wearing dark jeans with a brilliant magenta button-down, sleeves rolled to the elbow. No tie, no waistcoat. The top two buttons of his shirt are undone. Both jeans and shirt are slim-cut, showing him off without making him look too obviously skinny. If you asked him if he put a lot of thought into this look, he'd deny it - and he'd be lying.


Effortless is a look that Jay is familiar with. His is always genuine, however. His hair finger-combed and a little wild in waves around his face, tucked behind one ear, Jay has put a little effort in that he isn't wearing basketball shorts and a tank top. Instead, he's got a snug-fitting earthy forest green tee shirt that clearly isn't meant to house someone with an upper body built like his, so it's snug around the chest and shoulders, but hangs more loose over his stomach. it's actually tucked in to his dark blue jeans that haven't been worn enough to fade properly. His beltbuckle is small enough to make his grandaddy roll over in his grave. Flip flops. Of course.

"Hey, Sunshine," Jay smiles at Elmo, eyes dancing with warmth. They flicker down Elmo, wings shivering deliciously behind him. "No tie? You look nice. Ah like that color on ya."


Elmo smiles right back, looking Jay over, particularly his chest in the tight t-shirt. "You look great, Jayl. Real great." Distractingly great. "Thanks," he says, trying hard to take it in stride and not get shy, but he glances away anyway, smile turning bashful. "No tie. I'm livin' dangerously. Hey, you wanna fly to the park? I thought maybe you'd rather do that than cram yourself on the subway."


Jay nods, his eyes squint around the corners. "Yeah…Ah don't mind the subway but it's definitely a lil tight there." Poking his head out and looking both ways down to hall, there is only an impish smile before he reaches forward and snags Elmo around the waist. Yanking the brightly-colored man forward to kiss the hell out of Elmo.

Just after, all his feathers tremble, and Jay smiles. "Sorry. had t'do that before Ah couldn't any more."


Elmo laughs, arms around Jay's neck, and sinks into kissing him. Giving as good as he gets. He bites delicately at his lip before he pulls away. "Mmm, sweetheart. We're never gonna get anywhere, we keep that up." He hooks a finger through one of Jay's belt loops and tugs.


Jay groans into a low purr of sound over that tug on his belt loops. That smile is all tooth for a moment as he looms over Elmo a little bit, pawing at the slender man's lower back. "Yer a sin, Elmo." But spoken like a compliment, Jay sighs and finally lets his fingers slide away, dragging against Elmo's ribs as he goes. "Sorry. You looked so good, Ah almost tried to skip dinner an' go straight fer dessert."


Elmo tips his head back, grinning wickedly, loomed over but holding his ground. The undone buttons allow the base of his throat to show. "That's the best compliment you ever given me." He gives Jay another looking over, this one rather more flirtatious, the expression of a man who likes what he sees. "C'mon, let's go impress everybody who don't know what's about to hit 'em."


"Impress who now?" Jay chortles as he steps fully into the hall, shutting the door behind him, then pauses, thumbing toward the door. "Or…do you wanna jus' leave out the back?" The back?


"The back? The balcony? Sure!" Elmo lights up, eager. "Whatever works for ya, really. What do I gotta do?" He can't wait to see what Jay's going to do.


The exuberance has Jay smiling again, shaking his head as he pivots back inside, waving Elmo in behind him. "Ah just figgered that if ya wanted to fly, it might be faster. Take off is usually smoother from on high." Yep, all the way to his bedroom and out onto the balcony. The noise from the traffic below so distant way up here. Jay takes his sandals off and shoves them in his back pocket when something occurs to him. "Wait. You didn't drive here? Is yer truck okay?"


The question makes Elmo go "Aww!" and look at Jay with hearts in his eyes. Jay asked about Daisy. Jay is swell. "She's fine, yeah. I just got her a little bit taken apart right now so I can install some new stuff. It always takes longer than I think it will." He peers over the balcony edge, excited. "Soon I'm gonna be able to test my wings! Nate said he'd help and catch me if they, you know, explode or anything. When I get 'em working, maybe you can show me how to fly."


"Ah feel real funny sayin' this, considerin'," Jay arches one eyebrow above the other, smiling at Elmo. "But be careful tryin' out wings, okay? Mah body is built t'fall an' be okay, but if somethin' happened to you because of me, Ah'd be bee-side mahself." Deeply concerned.

Okay Icarus. Whatever you say.

He then pauses, and tilts his head. "Who's Nate?"


Elmo waves dismissively - feh! "Eh, it wouldn't be because a you. It'd be because of me!" He winces, realizing how that sounds. "Don't worry. That's why I got Nate to help me. He's got these mind talents, he picks up stuff with his mind and he can talk to you in your head. He reads minds but he says he can't read my mind, it's too complicated. I think he's fibbin' and he just don't wanna look at schematics. Anyway, he joined our team, nice guy. Helped JP talk to his little girl when some punks smashed our phone." He bounces on his toes and holds his arms out to Jay. So excited to fly with him.


"Except that you got the idea cause of me. He's a telepath and kinetic?" Jay's brows pop up, surprised. "Wow. That's wild." he holds his arms out to Elmo and chortles. "How do you wanna do it? Mah experience, folks got all kinds of stuff they do an' don't wanna do when they flyin'."


"Yeah, he's strong. You see a guy with muscles like Superman and he ain't wearin' no shirt, and he got a big X tattoo, that's him." Elmo raises his eyebrows at Jay, grinning. "Stuff? What, like, doin' stunts or whatevah? Hell, do whatever comes natural! I ain't scared." Little adrenaline junkie.


"An X tattoo?" Jay repeats, intrigued enough to pique easy insecurity, but he doesn't linger on it long. "Well, Ah don't come by yer work too much, heh. Don't wanna get in the way. How's V doin'?"

elmo's excitement about flying has Jay grinning. "No, Ah jus' meant that lots of fellahs don't wanna be bridal carried cause they think it's undignified, but it is the most secure. How you wanna be held?"


Elmo snickers. "Dignity? I ain't got none of that. Bridal carry away. Hey, you can come by whenever you want! It was great seein' you at the garage the other day." He steps up to Jay, flirtatious. Slides his arms around his neck. "Hey, good-lookin'. Ready when you are."


The slide of those arms around his neck, Jay smiles and his eyelids relax dreamily, leaning in to slip his arms around Elmo's back and kiss the man again. Slow and sweet this time. Lingering on that final moment before he pulls away. "Now who's bein' distractin'?" Teasing gingerly, Jay grins and stoops down to swiftly pluck Elmo up off his feet and tip him into Jay's chest. An audible flourish of his wings as they stretch out, Icarus is all smiles as he casually steps up onto the railing of his balcony with stomach-dropping ease. Wings stretch apart further, then relax a hint but Jay is focused on Elmo rather than the height. "You didn't mind me droppin' in? Ah try to not bug you there." Not that he ever showed restraint coming to the shop…


Elmo sighs into the kiss. Lips parted, nuzzling into it with sweet warmth. "Mmm. I'm not distracting, I dunno what you're talking about." Teasing back. "Jayl, I loved you comin' by, and you're friends with V, and JP likes ya." Then - Whoa! There goes everything right out from under Elmo's feet. He clings with a delighted, startled little yip. Bites his lip, eyes wide, looking down at a very long drop. He really isn't scared, though, or scared in the best way, about to experience something thrilling.


It's disorienting, without a doubt, looking down. They're on the 15th floor, and everything below them is straight down the flat face of the building. Traffic looks mighty small from here. The wind is intense as well - something rarely felt to city dwellers who spend all their time smothered between buildings. They make a lovely building statue, though. Not a gargoyle as per tradition.

Jay smiles while he watches Elmo look over, letting him take in the sights for a moment. "Yeah, V an' Ah are pals. He's a good guy. Biggest flirt in the world, though." Icarus smiles. "Ah brought this girl Ah was seein' to him after a date went sideways. He wasn't satisfied until Ah thought she was gonna crawl into his lap an' pull me along fer the ride.". A short convulsion of laughter in his chest.

The world begins to sloooowly tilt, then as Jay leans forward, making the moment last and linger until he springs off the rail with his toes, launching into…nothing. There's nothing.

Gravity grabs them like a child in the middle of a tantrum, yanking them back to earth. Stomach wrenching, they fall. Legitimately, they're falling. Gravity twists and turns and a sensation Elmo's only felt in the fever dream of wild magic he was thrown into, he suddenly becomes weightless. Utterly and mystifyingly weightless as Jay's frame and wings take the strain of force and physics lift them upward into the air.


Elmo cranes to see everything he can, arms tight around Jay's neck. The wind lashes his long hair, picking it up and tossing it around his face. Skyscrapers cutting into the twilight, traffic only a metallic river at the bottom of steel canyons - a view of New York City he's never had. "He's terrible, ain't he? He'd totally do it, too, if you were into it." They're leaning over further and further, and he's getting tenser. And then, they're falling.

"GeVALT!" Elmo yelps in terror and glee, teeth bared in a wild grin. He plasters himself to Jay as they fall, every muscle going hard with adrenaline. When Jay's wings catch lift, he laughs, almost as crazy as the maenad, and pulls himself up to start kissing him all over the side of his face. "Yer amazing!"


The dramatics were absolutely unnecessary, but Jay couldn't help himself. Giving Elmo a little thrill and watching him shriek and grin like a maniac while Jay squints against being whipped by Elmo's hair. when they pull upward again, they climb high and steep, coasting on a sudden updraft while Jay chortles silently to himself. His grip on Elmo is secure, holding the small ball of tension against his chest, his instincts take over with a thrilling shiver all over his skin and deep into those feathers.

Getting covered in kisses, Jay grins at Elmo, then pumps his wings hard, filling the roaring sound of wind around them with the low, powerful 'whush!' of beating wings around them. Chest flexing hard as he pumps his wings, Jay leans into the air subtly and sends the pair in a lazy rotation spiral in the air before righting once more and leveling out. "Even pigeons can fly, baby. Ain't amazin'. But you keep kissin' on me like that an' Ah'll give ya a lesson 'bout red-tailed hawks that'd make V greener than a river toad."


"You ain't no pigeon!" Elmo laughs. "Oy vey, I left my stomach back on the balcony-yyy!" His voice goes way up as Jay beats his wings and they go soaring. Elmo's heart is hammering in his thin chest, shaking his entire torso. He goes right back to kissing on Jay. "Yeah? You know I love learnin' things," he teases, his grin mad.


The kisses all over one side of his face has Jay smiling broadly. This is his element. This is where he feels most at home - here and on stage. His heart beating quicker and harder than usual as he physically wills them into the sky and over the buildings, still somewhat following the roadways because some of the buildings form canyon like walls. Still, his apartment is near the park, so soon, they're flying over lush greenery in the center of the concrete jungle.

Bowing his head, Jay comes close enough to rumble in Elmo's ear over the noise. "They mate mid-air." Flexing his arms in a taut squeeze against Elmo's slender frame. "So watch yerself unless you wanna lose those jeans."


"Mm. These jeans were expensive. I guess I better behave." Elmo purrs it against Jay's throat, not sounding at all like he actually intends to behave. He's vibrating in Jay's arms, adrenaline spiked up high. "Okay, I'll be good. We're going to the Summer Stage."


"Ah dont know if Ah'm insulted or relieved," Jay teases back. His arms constricting around the vibrating electrician, squeezing El against Jay's chest while they fly. He makes all the effort of making it a nice flight. Smooth and easy, avoiding turbulence as best he can and the like. And though the wind is constant and threatens to burn after a while, Jay is happy to let Elmo hide against his neck. "Not far, that's good. What're we seein?" He projects over the wind somehow, his voice cutting through it as they smoothly shift toward the summer stage in the park.


"Be anticipating taking 'em off me." Elmo has a helpful alternate suggestion, voice vibrating against Jay's neck. "'Cause you're gonna. You just gotta wait for it." Smug little jerk. "We're seein' Yiddish Under The Stars." As the stage comes into view, there's a big banner that says just that, and a crowd gathered on the grass.


"Yeah, cause that's helpin' how tight my pants feel," Jay manages back with a smile. The people below get larger as they come in for a landing on the outskirts so they do not cause a spectacle. Jay veers in between the trees easily in an unpopulated spot, carefully coming in until gravity yanks on Elmo again as they turn verticle again, wind swirling violently upon backwing and kicking up. jay's gotten a lot more practice though, and lands rather smoothly, setting Elmo down on his feet shortly after. "Yiddish under the stars? Am Ah gonna understand anything?"


Elmo regains his feet, knees trembling. "Whew! Jayl, that was gevaldik. I kinda feel like we're still swoopin' around." He grabs Jay's arm, swaying a little. "Fantastic." Unable to resist, he glances at where in particular Jay's pants would be tight, and flashes him a smile, cocking an eyebrow. Then laughs, coming over self-conscious, and rakes his windblown hair back. "These kindsa things are for everybody, so yeah, there'll be English. It's to show off how cool Jews are, yannow? We're a huge part of New York, but a lot of people, they don't know anything about us, or they think about us like we're victims, we're jokes." It must be said, 'cool' and 'Jews' aren't often heard in the same sentence. "Anyway, you liked the klezmer band at Purim so much, I figured, you'd understand the music at least." Elmo's eyes are bright, his face ruddy from the wind, and he's talking with his hands, looking up at Jay.


Practically luminous with an afterglow that should seem a little familiar to Elmo, Jay hums with cooling contentment; his cheeks flushed as well and wings fwipping as they try to settle against his back. Excited. Pushing both hands through his hair when he sees Elmo flattening his out, Jay's remains wild and wavy around his face. The glance down to his pants earns Elmo a mild shove on the shoulder and a discrete readjustment from Jay.

"Yeah, it sounds like a good time. There ain't no reason for folks not t'take y'all seriously. Y'all got yer own neighborhood an' everythin'. You got jus' as much a right to be here as anyone else." jay logics out casually, looking in the direction of the main stage with interest. "Yeah." More certain now, he smiles back at Elmo. "This is gonna be fun."


Elmo takes the gentle shove with the best of humor, pleased as punch. "I gotta take you flying more often," he murmurs, admiring the luminous glow. Mischief glitters in those dark eyes. He bumps Jay back with a shoulder. "Jews, mutants. We all got a right to be here." He tucks his hands in his pockets and dips his head towards the stage. "You want we should get closer?" Rhetorical, mostly; he's assuming Jay wants to be as close to the music as he can.


Wavering good naturedly, Jay lets the shove push him slightly and comes back with a smile. "Why'sat?" Clueless as to what he means by taking him flying more. Another glance to the stage, he shrugs a shoulder. "Do /you/ wanna get closer? Yer in charge t'night."


Elmo hesitates, eyeing the crowd. It's a family type of crowd, a lot of little kids roaming around, parents hanging out, groups of teenagers giggling. "Let's stay here. For now." His way of saying that he's not up to plunging into a bunch of people, many of whom are probably related to him. It's easier for him to cope with the noise and stimulation of the stage from a little distance, too.

But he would have done it for Jay.

"Why? Because you love it, that's why, an' I'm always makin' you ride in my truck." Elmo bumps Jay again, playful. "And, fun as hell." Lowering his voice, although it'd be difficult to overhear them, he adds, "I'm in charge, huh? I like the sound a that," with a rogueish glance.

The first band is hitting the stage. Almost entirely brass - trumpet, trombone, even a tuba for God's sake - and a pair of clarinets, they swing into a fast klezmer song. No percussion, they're just that good, creating the beat organically as they race along.


Jay, you just have a way of collecting people who are physically incapable of managing the things you love. But he gets it, and doesn't seem the least pit put out when Elmo suggests that they stick to the outskirts, away from the masses. The flier smiles and nods back to Elmo, slipping his hands into his front pockets while he rocks back on his heels. Still barefoot, he doesn't bother to put his sandals on, digging his toes into the grass and dirt. "Sure thing. We can hear things jus' fine from back here, anyway. An' don't gotta yell at each other t'talk." Jay grins and winks at Elmo.

Mention over his flying has his shrugging once more, casually as he looks up toward the crowd again, toward the stage. "Course Ah love flyin'. You ever see a pigeon on the subway?" He tosses a sidelong smile to Elmo, warm and filled with humor. "It's instinctual t'me. But, Ah know that it ain't somethin' most people can do, so if the option is get somewhere on mah own or go with someone, it's not a hard choice." Bowing his head when Elmo lowers his voice, the corners of Jay's mouth lift a little higher and a ripple of motion pulls through his wings. Chuckling silently, Jay gives Elmo a playful mock-glare. "Ah'm sure you do."

The first band strikes up and Jay's attention swings that way, curiously listening, trying to get the jist of this new sound. Soon he's nodding along slightly, fingers keeping beat by tapping on the fronts of his pickets where his thumbs are stuck inside.


The trumpet player is the leader, jumping in place, beckoning for solos (ever heard a tuba solo? you have now), stuffing his trumpet between his knees to encourage the crowd to clap along with him.

Elmo laughs, watching him. "That guy's having a great time." He's bouncing along, too, hands in his pockets, grinning. "Nu, I wanna talk. There's so much I don't know about you, yannow?"


A ripple of amusement flows through Jay, starting at the wrists of his wings and creating a visual ripple of feathers downward until he whispers a chuckle in his chest while he watches the leader jump and direct. "He's really good. You can tell they practice, but he alters the set depending on how the moment feels, and they follow him real good. They got a solid, uh, like…symbiosis to 'em. " damn country! Where you learn that word?

Jay doesn't quiet bounce, but his wings are out away from his shoulders in classic 'begging' flutters while he nods and taps along. When clapping is called for, he joins in, regardless of the fact that they are clearly separate from the crowd. It's a great distraction! "Talk? What about? Somethin' buggin' ya?"


"Symbiosis! Good word." Elmo's watching Jay now, the way his wings flutter and beg. He doesn't clap - at first, until the hyperactive front man sticks two fingers in his mouth and starts whistling sharp and loud in time, as if the guy could see him. Then Elmo gives in, amused, and joins Jay in clapping to the frenetic beat.

The song whips to an end, the front man taking a big showy bow and introducing his players.

"Buggin' me? Nah, just, I wanna hear stuff about you." Elmo looks back at Jay. "Like, okay, you told me Doug told you you were into guys. Which took guts on both your parts, by the way. I'm not askin' for details on that, but like," he flips a hand palm-up, presenting the thought, "what'd you think about it? How'd you feel? I know you're part of the school. How do you feel about that? Is that why you're in New York in the first place, for the school?" He blushes suddenly, looking away. "I haven't asked you a bunch of stuff like that because, I didn't wanna scare you off. I've been a jerk to you. I didn't wanna be a jerk again and, yannow, assume I had a right to stuff that I didn't."


"Thanks," Jay takes the compliment in stride. "Kale an' Ah were talkin' about music theory one night listenin' to records, which turned into talkin' about band relationships. Ah was tryin' to explain to him what it felt like when you got chemistry with the band an' why it's so rare an' worth it. He gave me the word."

Jay whistles back, sharp and enthusiastic, when the song wraps up.

He's still trying to hear what the front man is saying when he starts to hear a deeper theme to Elmo's questions, and Jay turns his attention back around to Elmo, curiously. a touch hesitant, but definitely more curious and surprised. "Assume you had the right t'stuff? El. We're friends. Friends talk about stuff. It ain't like, everything aside, we ain't friends first. You were really holdin' back on it cause of all that?"


Elmo makes a helpless little gesture, shrugging with eyebrows and shoulders, twist of his hand. "I - I just didn't wanna mess up nothin' more. I thought I understood stuff, I didn't, I messed it up. So. Yeah. I just wanted to be careful." He quirks a tiny smile. "We're friends."


Jay tilts his head to the side to Elmo, an eyebrow slowly starting to eke upward as he starts slowly, hesitates, then continue. "Ah - the problems we had, from where Ah was sittin', were all because'a lack of takin'. Not from over talkin'. Was Ah wrong?"


Elmo shakes his head, hands going back in his pockets. "Well, when ya put it like that. No. You were right. Are right." He winces. There he goes, fucking up again. Lindon really has done him no favors whatsoever in being his first relationship.

On stage, the band is tackling another fast, rollicking klezmer tune. The trumpet leads the others like a pack of dogs bounding through a field. That guy is happy to be here and he pulls his players along with him, and the audience.


the music starts and Jay's head turns around on a pivot in that directions. Like a divining rod to water, his brows lift mildly, listening to the peppy trumpet lead his way through with a bounce. wings react and shiver, lifting upwards slightly before he turns his attention toward Elmo once again.

"Jus' makin' sure Ah wasn't wrong. Yer allowed t'disagree with me. Y'know that, don'tcha?"


"Yeah." Elmo glances up at Jay, turning his wince into a wry smile. "I know. You're still right." He bumps him with a shoulder, affectionate. "You do that a lot."


Jay is bumped and moves just a fragment of a second too late to be completely natural, smiling at Elmo. "Ah don't need t'be raght so long as yer happy."


Elmo's expression softens; shoulders, too, body language going warm as the summer evening. His smile turns enamored. "Well. I am. Except that I'm a klutz about this stuff. Happy with you, not so happy with me." Quieter, he adds, "Wish I could kiss you."


Jay shrugs one shoulder, arm connected to his pocket. "It ain't a big deal. Yer brilliant with plenty, an' Ah'm a klutz with stuff, mahself." The lower murmurs has his smile warming slightly, corners of his eyes crinkling before he turns his head to look at Elmo. "Me, too. But probably good thing we can't; we don't got a good track record fer stoppin', and Ah'd rather not get arrested fer public indecency."


Elmo's leaning his weight on one leg, his own hands in his pockets, smiling up at Jay like he's thinking that exact thing. They don't have a great record for stopping, once they get started. Too into each other. "Mm. Later, then. Gonna kiss the daylights outta ya. Think we could get away with dancing?"


That smile broadens, teeth flashing briefly back down at Elmo and his serruptitious question. "Well, that's more a question you'd know the answer to best. Are fellahs allowed t'dance with you folks?"


Elmo considers the question. Really, really considers it, rocking his weight back and forth a couple times, looking at the cheerful crowd. People are dancing there, men with women, parents with small children, teenagers with anyone who gets close enough. "Ah, hell. If Chasidic guys can dance with each other, I can dance with you."

Neither of them are Chasidic, the famous Jewish sect who wear the curly payot sidelocks and wide-brimmed black hats. Only one of them is even Jewish. And neither of them are plain stock human. Elmo's got that defiant gleam in his eyes, though, and he holds his hand out to Jay. "Dance with me, teibeleh."


The unfamiliar word gets a weird look from Jay. "Haw-sid-ick?" Though the outcome is in his favor, so Jay smiles fondly at Elmo and reaches out to grab the hand back and give Elmo a tug. "You sure?"


"You've seen 'em, the guys in black coats and hats and they got," Elmo twirls a finger by his ear, descriptively. "Those guys don't even LET girls dance with 'em. Makes ya wonder." He flashes a grin at Jay, closing in with him and getting his other hand on his waist. "I'm as sure as anything I ever been sure of in my damn life. C'mere." And pulls him into a dance that's a lot more zydeco than Jewish, something like a Texas two-step infused with lively Cajun style.


"Oh, the curly cues," Jay mimes the same twirling gesture. "Yeah. They hang out at the place me an' V meet up every week." Guthrie, you live a weird life.

Elmo pulls at him and into a dance, and Jay exhales a quick laugh in response. He's accustomed to any number of quick southern dances, and has a bunch of family everywhere - the Louisiana chapter he's mentioned several times. Jay follows along, but it takes him a second to figure out where Elmo's going with this. Jay squints, speculative as they dance together. His wings pull in tight and close to create a more agile package.


Elmo's good at guiding Jay through this particular dance, like when he taught him the hora. Elmo's touch on Jay's hand and waist is light and somehow intuitive; he can communicate weirdly clearly through little changes of pressure. He'd probably make a good rider, gentle on the reins. His eyes are bright, his whole demeanor happy and alert, dancing with Jay. Leaning his weight back, he pulls them into a twirl with a delighted grin.


Jay is used to leading, and he does jumble up a bit while he figures out how the hell to follow. Apologizing all over the place, he gets into it and the simpler moves eventually. Spinning around, his hands linked with Elmo's, Jay's wings hold in tight rather that catching the air and slowing them down.


Elmo just laughs as Jay apologizes. "You got nothin' to apologize for, green eyes." The band wraps up in a cacophonous crescendo and the crowd cheers them. Elmo applauds them enthusiastically this time. The front man shouts something in Yiddish, then translates, "Elijah should wish for such a good audience!", which makes Elmo cough in surprise and laugh harder.

"Meshuggener," he says, with a familial kind of fondness, as the band makes their way offstage. He wipes his forehead - it's humid - and looks up at Jay, fizzing with happy energy. "Hey there, handsome."


The song wraps and Jay whistles shrilly for them, clapping in tandem with the sharp sound. There's a confused look tossed to Elmo when he coughs and laughs, Jay caught in a silent, but broad smile. he dips his head and has to ask, "Is something funny?" Caught quickly after by Elmo's bubbling happiness, Jay's smile warms affectionately. "Hey there, yerself."


"Stupid Jew jokes," Elmo says, waving it off as nonsense. But he's grinning. He got to dance with Jay, in public, and they're getting away with it. So far.

The show goes on. There's singers, more bands. Dancers who demonstrate more folk dances than the hora. ("Wish I knew that one," Elmo says, low key jealous of one of them.) One woman who sings in Ladino, which she explains is like Yiddish, but instead of a blend of German and Hebrew is a blend of Spanish and Hebrew. Elmo gets teary at that one, although he denies it. Every time there's lively music, he asks Jay to dance.


"Like jokes about stupid Jews, or jokes that're Jewish an' stupid?" jay asks for clarification, innocently. Because it could honestly go either way with cultural jokes!

He's happy to dance. He's happy to listen. Hearing the different dialects, the song structures, the way people move to it and everything is richly fantastic compared to what he's used to. There is no mention of Elmo getting teary, though he will smile privately to himself about it the whole time. There are thoughtful questions about how the hell Yiddish came from German and Hebrew of all things, and if there are more dialects. More dances. More… /everything/! he happily accepts every dance he's asked to participate in, and even stops Elmo a few times to ask him to slow it down and show him more carefully how he's doing something.


Jewish and stupid, Elmo explains with a roll of the eyes that's nonetheless amused.

He's actually stumped trying to explain the dancing to Jay, which is probably why he didn't try in the first place. Ridiculous little spaz that he is. Lots of hand waving and demonstrating and totally failing at explaining later, they get it figured out. Elmo seems to enjoy it, though, he doesn't even get embarrassed. Totally focused on Jay.

He's also happy to answer all Jay's questions, and that's what he's doing between dancing and watching the stage and relaxing and everything else. "See, Jews didn't got no homeland for thousands of years. We just kinda wandered around and settled down where people weren't tryin' to kill us. So we soak up the local culture. There's lots a dialects, every country where Jews live has its own. Same with dances. There's even American Yiddish, that's what I grew up talkin' with my sisters and cousins, but my parents speak German Yiddish, I talk that with them."


"Jus' had t'made sure! You got no idea how many stupid redneck jokes Ah know," Jay assures with a quick lean and wink at Elmo.

He's fascinated by all the nuances he learns about Elmo. His culture. His people. His family. "Wait, you speak three languages? Jus' at home?" This boggles him straight up, squinting at Elmo, then brows arch in surprised delight. "Yer incredible."


Okay, that gets Elmo embarrassed. "Well, it ain't like American and German Yiddish are that different. My grandmother taught me Ladino, too. Just, she's been dead a while now." But he didn't tear up hearing a woman singing in Ladino and you can't prove that he did. "She was Sephardic, that's Jews who settled in Spain. Rest of my family's Ashkenazim, we're the northern European type." He shrugs at Jay, grinning bashfully. "It's kinda complicated."


Somewhere around the second syllable in 'sephardic', Jay's gaze gets a little unfocused and clearly begins missing things, but his smile couldn't be any more full of wonder. He is the definition of the difference between stupidity and plain ol' ignorancve. A lack of experience and education doesn't make someone an idiot after all. "None of those words sound like anythin' Ah've ever heard before. Ah mean, mah great aunt maybeth said she had a neighbor who had some sapphic inclinations, but Ah'm pretty sure she jus' had a gay neighbor, not a Jewish one."


Elmo doesn't really expect Jay, or any gentile for that matter, to follow the intricacies of Jewish history. To follow, or to care - but Jay cared. Jay asked. And Jay, although he lacks that experience and education, has a wonder that more than makes up for it. Elmo smiles back at him with wonder, too. Startled into laughing, he says, "Sephardic, not sapphic, very important difference."

That's when someone behind them bellows, over the music, "Hey, mutie!"

A glass bottle comes twirling through the air. SMASH! It blows apart when it hits the ground, spraying Jay and Elmo with stale beer.

Elmo flinches, cursing. He whips around, already yelling, "I'm gonna kick your ass!"


Jay smiles broadly, leaning back with one hand shoved in his pocket when Elmo starts laughing from - was it a joke? It had to be right? Jay didn't seem confused at all, he looked like he was just enjoying Elmo's reaction, his eyes glowing with warmth and amusement.

The very same look is cast backward as Jay turns around languidly upon hearing 'mutie'. Which, is probably ridiculous that he answers to that, but eh. What're you gonna do?

It's not until he just barely sees the bottle flying to the ground just before it shatters that his defensive posture clicks into place and both wings stretch out wide; one to cover most of Elmo and one pulled close around Jay's face and arms. His wings get spattered with beer. Ugh. That's going to take forever to come out. Jay grunts and twitches his nose. "That ain't comin' out any tahm soon. Whoa!" He shakes his wings out and turns to set a hand tightly on Elmo's shoulder. "Hey, cool down, El." Cautious, Jay looks toward the source of the shout. "Yeah? What can Ah do fer ya?"


Elmo snarls, lip curling. His shoulder twitches hard under Jay's hand, his entire skinny body going tense as a wire. He stays put, though. For now. There's a hiss of rising static electricity.

There's a couple guys and a few girls, all the same age as the mutants, all laughing. The guys are pretty obviously showing off for the girls. One of them still has his beer bottle.

"What can you do for me?" says the thrower, in a ridiculous wavery voice, mocking. "You can get the fuck outta New York, that's what you can do! Take your faggoty friend with you, we don't like neither a your kind!"

"Hick mutie," one of the girls sneers.

The other guy hurls his bottle. Right at the two of them.


Jay's hand tightens on Elmo's shoulder, applying firm pressure to try to diffuse some of his tension. Otherwise, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of wavering from Jay. His expression shifts from cautious to a disappointed one that seems to say 'Now, you know better than this…' but remarkably calm. But when the bottle goes flying, he seems nearly detached from his wing when there's a brilliant flash of vermillion feathers to smack the thing into the ground ten feet to the right. "You got somethin' stuck in yer throat, son? Ya sounded a little under the weather there," mocking his mock as classy as he can.

Southern.

"Well, you can not like me all ya want. Somethin' tells me Ah wouldn't much like ya either, but luckily fer both of us, we don't make the rules. We jus' gotta deal with each other and move on. So Ah suggest you do just that. tryin' to enjoy the music here." Jay advises calmly, then shifts his attention to the girl who spoke up. He smiles and tilts his head at her. "Oh, now yer too pretty t'be spewin' all that ugly, Miss. Ah can't believe yer heart means any of that."

Doesn't even fucking matter what she looks like.


If it was anyone else with Elmo. Anyone at all. The president could be standing next to Elmo and he'd let these guys have a nice long jolt before laying into them with those steel-toed boots. Let alone his team; the X-Ternals would be mixing it up already, causing mayhem with their signature aplomb.

It's not. It's Jay. For him alone, Elmo doesn't leap into a fight. Yet he still says, "Jay," in a low, longing tone. Almost begging for permission to launch.

The girl looks honestly shocked when Jay talks to her so sweet. She's pretty in a usual sort of way, no great beauty. Glancing around, as if not sure he meant her, she bites her finger, turning red. One of the other girls blinks at Jay, and the third one smirks, looking at Jay as if she knows what he's up to.

The guys, young idiots that they are, aren't impressed. "Don't talk to our women!" One of them makes a threatening lunge.


"Hold on, El. We're all okay here. Jus't here t'share an' share alike, raght?" Jay's nice to everyone. Until he's not. So what if he's laying it on a little thick for a girl? If it helps their situation, he'll do it every time. And who doesn't like compliments and affirmations that they're good people!? With some subtle guilt tripping…

Calm and cool, his smile remains in place, quiet and serenely present, stretching just a little with gratification over the blush. He might have even drawn attention to it to really try to hit it home, but the guys butt in again and rather than addressing the shadowrulers of the relationship again, his attention flicks back toward the guy who spoke up, darting to the guy who lunges toward them. He pushes Elmo backward slowly, but otherwise seems entirely confident he could take the guy.

His brows perk upward. "Our? Oh, sorry. Ah didn't realize they were yer property. Ah been readin' a lot about how ladies are their own people, an' down in Hickville, Ah don't know a fellah who'd be bold enough t'lay claim t'a lady an' not come 'way with a black eye. You ever caught a ring in the corner of yer eye, friend?" Jay winces and whistles low. "One with a nice big stone on it? Tell ya what, it smarts fierce. Ah got a healthy respect for a woman's ability t'handle herself an' talk t' anyone she pleases. Didn't realize it was off limits up here.". And then, to exasperate the problem, Jay looks right at the blushing girl, smiling warmly and gently says, " Ah'm sorry, Darlin'. Ah didn't mean t'embarrass you, or talk atcha if that's not what you want."


Elmo makes a wordless, fierce sound of complaint as Jay pushes him back. No, he doesn't want to be protected, he wants to wreck those guys' day! Yet, when Jay keeps talking, the words sink in. Elmo looks up at Jay, sudden light of understanding in his black eyes. He stops struggling, stands back. Reaches up to - oh, no tie to straighten. Okay he just straightens out his collar, tugging it back into place. Which he manages to do at the guys with a certain menacing flair. Bantam rooster that he is.

"Uh," the girl says, her eyes wide. The mutie - the beautiful mutie with wings like an angel's and a face to match - is flirting with her? And calling her out for letting a man tell her what to do? She doesn't know which way is up.

Her friend, the girl hanging at the back giving Jay a knowing look, now puts her arm around her shoulders. "Come on, let the dumb boys fight if they want to. I'm hungry and there's food trucks I want to check out." There really are, part of the event. She steers her away. The third girl follows them out of peer pressure, leaving the guys without anybody to impress. It takes the wind out of their sails, as they look after the girls.


When the spitfire beside him stops struggling, Jay glances back with an encouraging smile and quick wink conspiratorially to Elmo before he straightens back around, dropping his hand with a pat to the incognito-mutie's shoulder.

Really, he's just trying to shame the guys for being dicks and encouraging the ladies to speak up, but it certainly might come off like he's lecturing the girls. That's a risk he runs! But when the second girl leans in to take the first away, Jay's attention falls fully on her and there's a conspiratorial exchange in a glance where Jay nods to her, discreetly and appreciatively.

Jays thumbs hook into his pockets and broad shoulders straighten, letting silence hang uncomfortably between him and the other men. Mm hmm. Staring them down, his wings slowly rise up behind him to give him a larger silhouette in contrast to his even smile. What are you gonna do, asshole?

After several uncomfortable moments, Jay mentions, helpfully and amazingly benign, "Ah hear the chilli dog truck's amazin'."


Elmo, taken totally off guard by that, covers his face and laughs hard. Being laughed at by a guy half their size (and wearing magenta, to add insult to injury) makes one of the jerks slink off to follow the girls. The other, the instigator, glares, wavering. "I better not see you around here, mutie, or your girlfriend." Completely empty threat, and he stalks off, furious.

Elmo turns to Jay with that delighted, brilliant grin of his. "You're the incredible one here, Jayl." He's vibrating some with adrenaline that he didn't get to put to any use.


Jay, ever the friendly neighbor, waves at the man's back while he leaves. "Enjoy the chili dog. Ah lahke mine with onion." Trolling isnt a word yet but damn, Jay.

waiting until theyre a safe distance away to turn his back on the group and face Elmo again, Jay folds his arms comfortably over his chest. Still smiling as he murmurs, "An' that's how ya make a dumbass northerner feel lahke a fart in a fan factory."


Elmo's only got eyes for Jay, watching him - admiring him, really, with affectionate ferocity as he sends the men off with cheerful disdain. Now it's Elmo who has to discreetly adjust himself, when Jay turns to him. "Watchin' you do that was hot as hell." And kind of a total mystery to him, but that just makes it hotter.


Jay laughs. Out loud. Whatever nervous energy he had pent up added to that effort, he rocks backward on his bare feet (sandals still in his back pocket) and grins at Elmo sheepishly. "Well. Much obliged. Helps if ya play to yer strengths, raght? Didn't realize talkin' our way /out/ of a faght would get yer engine goin'." He unfolds his arms and shoves a hand through his hair. "Plus, if we got into a scrap, it ain't lahke it'd be hard t'find the red-headed mutant with giant red feather wings, huh?" His eyes squint at the corners in humor. "Ah'd be in handcuffs before the afternoon was over. So. It was a little selfish."


"Was you bein' you. Damn, Jayl." Elmo is honestly impressed. "And the way you looked at 'em after the girls left," he admits. That long, unyielding look, that look that said 'you and what army, normie?' - he doesn't have words to explain it, but he has a rapidly growing hard-on to say it for him. He grins back. "Yeah, okay, fair point." As a mutant who looks completely human (if a little funny) that's just not something he has to think about.

The last band is hitting the stage. They're fronted by a handsome woman whose nose rivals Elmo's. She's the accordion player (lots of women accordion players tonight). In just a few years, her band's style will be called punk: rowdy, loud, and attitudinous. They put her at the end for a reason. She's shouting at the microphone, "They say, why learn Yiddish anymore, it's the twentieth century! THEY say, Yiddish, so old fashioned, so old-country, feh!" Her band choruses, "Feh!" "Well you know what we say to that? We say Gai kakn ofn yahm!" And they fling themselves into rock'n'roll klezmer.

Elmo laughs, bright and wild. "Means 'go shit on the ocean." He holds a hand out to Jay, eyes on his. "Even though we both smell like old beer….last dance?"


Happy as a clam after that display of non-violent confrontation, Jay whispers a chuckle and re-folds his arms over his chest, openly adoring. "Nah, Ah jus' showed him Ah weren't afraid, an' Ah had nothin' t'prove to him. Tip fer ya: that look works on anyone who might be a little uncertain 'bout what they're playin' at. Trick is you can't be afraid t'let the silence jus' hang out there an' look completely comfortable. If yer relaxed, they either gonn' be relaxed, or start second guessin why you ain't uncomfortable." He winks at Elmo and lowers his voice. "Don't tell Sprout. Ah used t'use it on him /all the time/."

Family secrets coming out!

"Ah'm proud of y'though, El," Jay leans in and pushes Elmo with his shoulder/arm. "Y'kept yer lid on. Ah'm impressed." He stays close and drops his chin to murmur low, fondly, "Down, boy…" playfully.

The last band is /fascinating/. Jay's brows arch upward in surprise. The new sound - or at least new in that language and with an accordion - has all his feathers raising up on end, as do the hairs on his arms. His eyes glued to the stage until he notices Elmo's hand held out to him, Jay blinks owlishly and smiles, taking the hand. "Shit, Ah spent most of mah teens smellin' like old beer. Let's do it."


Elmo, let's be honest, always has something to prove. That Jay doesn't just makes him fall more in love. He pulls himself to Jay - he's not stepped on his bare toes once, though, even through fumbling dancing with him. Elmo's just nimble like that. "You like that music!" He's noticed all Jay's feathers rising up. Hard to miss.

The band is raucous, using distorted guitar and wailing accordion solos to amp up the impact. Their three songs are about grandmas yelling and cabbage soup and needing to speak three languages and other, very homely Jewish things that they turn into music as powerful as rocket fuel. When they wrap up, it's with a cacophonous crescendo, all their instruments at once. The handsome lady yells into the microphone, "Thank you and Shalom Aleichem!" and what's left of the crowd yells back, "ALEICHEM SHALOM!", Elmo included.


Jay watches how Elmo moves and learns. He's not as nimble as Elmo while they're on the ground, but he can make due, and the fun is worth the missteps. He laughs softly when Elmo observes that he's liking the music. "It's diff'rent! Ah been tellin' Kale that it feels lahke music's on this - this cusp! It's about t'take a turn, an' Ah've been waitin' fer it. It's lahke a glimpse int' the future! Which, Ah mean, Ah got, but the mem'ry's real foggy. Lahke a dream Ah can't catch. S'pose that happens on purpose heh." He smiles brightly while they finish out the dance.

Parting to clap and whistle up to the band, Jay looks around at the repeated phrase, then shouts back after the return greeting. "Yeah, what they said!"


Elmo applauds too, laughing up at Jay. "Shalom aleichem, means peace be with you." The 'ch' gets that back-of-the-throat rasp that makes Yiddish such a distinctive language. "That was gevaldik as hell!" He's all lit up, energetic and enthusiastic. Then looks startled. "You hadda future vision, Jayl?"


Jay laughs lightly, incredulous. "after all that an' they yell 'peace be with you'?" He smiles and shakes his head as he looks back toward the far off stage in a sense of wonder. "Wild, wild Jewish folk."

A sidelong glance to Elmo again, Jay's brows arch up slightly, innocently. "Huh? Not so much a vision. We traveled. Couple times. Was somethin' needed t'get done."


"It's traditional," Elmo says, grinning. "You know you're the only gentile I know who thinks Jews are wild? I like it. Usually everybody thinks we're all like Fiddler on the Roof." He stuffs his hands in his pockets, eyebrows thoughtful. "Huh. Didn't know. But there's all kindsa stuff I don't know about you." Tipping his head invitingly towards the row of food trucks, he offers, "Lemme feed ya?"


"Well most /gentiles/ don't know /you/," Jay points out fondly, eyes sparkling with humor as he leans in to nudge Elmo's shoulder. "Yer a like a sparkler on the fourth of july; fiery an' glorious." he winks and sticks his hands into his pockets fully. a look to the food truck, he nods. "Yeah. You Jewish folk love yerselves some food. Show me what you got."


Elmo blushes. Of course. "Aww, Jayl." For once, it's not a complaint; he's looking up at Jay with adoration in those bright black eyes. His voice lowers. "You're sweet to me, baby." Almost a purr. He lets his gaze wander down Jay's beautiful form and bites his lip. "Mmf. Okay. C'mon. Before I climb ya right here."


Jay's smile only grows warmer and softer when Elmo's gaze gives him a sweep, his tone softening into a velvety duskiness. "Y'say that like Ah'd take exception to it. Yer welcome t'climb mah tree any day, Stud." Followed up with a brazen wink, Jay's chin lifts slightly, the epitome of confidence. "Lead the way."


Elmo shivers minutely, once. "God I love it when you call me that." He swears under his breath, good natured frustration, eyeing Jay as if he could see right through his clothes. There must be a plan he's got in mind because he tugs the crotch of his very well-fitted jeans into place, wheels around and strides off.

Not only is there the traditional Jewish American food like pastrami, brisket, and kugel, there's Middle Eastern food and (all beef, kosher) hot dogs. No cheese on those chili dogs, though. Everything's kosher. Elmo gets a falafel shwarma, and refuses to hear any of Jay's offers to pay. ("You said last time I could get it next time, and it's next time!") There's people laughing and talking a mile a minute, sharp New York accents everywhere. Not all of them are Jewish, there's plenty of gentiles who were brought by their Jewish friends to get some culture.

The group that bothered Jay and Elmo are there, at the other end of the picnic benches. One of the guys notices them, and gives them an ugly look.


"Ah know," Jay smiles knowingly at Elmo. He damned well knows that the skinny little twink loves being called 'Stud'. Who could blame him?

Jay looks pleased with himself as he quickly follows Elmo, long strides catching up beside him in the distance of a meter or two.

He looks at the myriad food carts and trucks with muted delight, taking notes on the differences and of course he has to eventually ask what the fuck Kosher actually is. The dairy and beef thing just confuses the daylights out of him as well. But he's got an appetite for…let's say learning, and it happily turns into appetite for food.

When he notices the other group - he almost doesnt at all - Jay smiles mildly and gives the mad-eye-fellah a friendly upnod.


"Means stuff's fit for eatin'. So it's gotta meet certain requirements, like, an animal with four legs gotta split the hoof and chew the cud. That's why we can't eat pork, pigs don't chew no cud. And we can't eat nothin' that creeps through the mud, so that's why no shellfish, they all live in mud. Pigs too. There's a law that if you gotta break kosher or any other rule to survive, you can do it, God understands. Not that I keep kosher real strict or anything, but that's what I hadda do in New Orleans. They only eat pork and catfish and shellfish down there." Elmo chats about it while they eat; he's always happy when Jay is interested in nuances of Jewish culture.

He doesn't notice the others either until Jay does, and then he looks over. Two of the girls are already tugging at the guy, making him knock it off. Jay won them over entirely, it seems. The third girl, the one who took the chance to break the fight up, nods back at Jay. Then she looks at Elmo and winks. He turns bright red and hastily looks away. She laughs.


Jay nods slowly while he follows along with those rules as Elmo outlines. His brows crinkle slightly. He chuckles over the food in Louisiana while he chews on a beef hot dog with chili on it. Even without the cheese he has to admit it's pretty good. "Yeah. Whenever we had family visitin' from Nola or we went t'them, they live off the water. So explain this hoof thing t'me again? What's that gotta do with stuff? There's a lotta different kinds of hooves." Farm boy.

Jay laughs and reaches over to shove Elmo's shoulder a little when he blushes. Grinning at the bold girl, he turns his head back to Elmo and bows it enough to help obscure his words. "She's sharp, that one. Think she's sweet on ya, or just wants t'make the pretty fellah blush?"


"Jaayyyyy," Elmo says, definitely complaining this time, but half-laughing too. "How should I know? I never went out with a girl in my life." He's covering his eyes the way he does. The girl, dark haired and pretty, done up in rockabilly style, keeps looking at him until he dares to glance back at her again, and smiles at him. "Oh my God," Elmo says and buries his entire face in his hands. "I can't explain the hoof thing to you like this!" Definitely laughing, though. He's taking teasing with a lot more grace than he used to, seems like, even if he's still embarrassed.


In complete juxtaposition, Jay remains unflustered and entirely amused, laughing softly as he leans back again, grinning at Elmo while he tries to hide behind his hands.

Damn those hands.

"Lahke what? What do ya mean? Oh. You mean with a pretty girl lookin' atcha?" Jay rubs it in helpfully. "Well, here then, should Ah help you with that?" Looking around, the lawn, Jay spots a group of kids running around, playing tag or whatever it is fuckin' kids do at these things. The musician hands his chili dog off to Elmo and licks his thumb clean before trying to walk a short way off. This /cannot/ be a good thing.


Elmo, still beet red, says, "What?" and watches Jay walk off. The girl watches Jay, too, obviously intrigued. Elmo's a little worried, to be honest!

The kids are just rampaging around like kids do, playing and squabbling.


Jay walks up to the group of kids - which is oddly less worrisome now for whatever reason, waving a couple of them over, he kneels down to a couple who actually listen and don't hesitate after one look at him. There's whispering, gesturing, and eventually, nodding and conspiratorial giggling as they disburse again and resume horsing around. Nothing seemingly happens. Jay stands back up, clapping his hands off on his jeans, and strolls back to Elmo, looking very smug. Reaching for his chili dog again. "Thanks fer holding that, El."

What?

That can't be it, right?


"Jay Guthrie, what did you do?" Elmo narrows his eyes at Jay, giving him back his damn chili dog. "You look way too happy with yourself."

The girl smiles at Jay, having fun with her long-distance flirtation. The other guy grumps something at her, and she gives him a very long. Cool. Look. He gets up and storms off. She turns back to her friends and lights up a cigarette, giving the guy her shapely back.


"Me?" With astounding innocence, Jay responds around a bite, tucking it into his cheek to smile at Elmo. "Ah haven't done a thing. Ah'm a guest, remember? Ah wouldn't do a thang t'put t'risk mah welcome.".

Uh huh.

He settles in next to Elmo again, watching discretely while the group down the way chats on and boys get pissy. "So what's all this about hooves?"

Not long after, maybe a couple minutes, the group of playing kids is making their running ribbon path back around, heard a mile away. They loop around and round about of the group of ladies and the remaining guys. One of the braver children runs up and virtually /throws/ something at the bold brunette girl's feet, then giggles wildly, running away in a mad gaggle of insane children. As they do.

Jay facepalms and winces. "Ah hell - " he groans through his teeth. "Ah told em t'give it over /nicely/. Lord!"

What did they throw? A big ol' loopy dandelion chain necklace with tiny violets tucked in the seams of each loop. It's made by kids so of course the loops are all different sizes and whatnot, but, eh, it's something goofy and sweet in an old fashioned way.


"It's….not really about hooves, it's about cleanliness," Elmo says, not believing Jay in the slightest, but going back to talking about kosher law anyway. "I don't know why in Biblical times people decided, say, horses are unclean, and cattle are clean. They seem kinda the same to me. But like, pigs aren't clean, they're gross, right? Lobsters ain't clean, clams, oysters, all that kinda animal, just hanging out in the mud. It gets funny, though, 'cause like, a giraffe is kosher to eat by the laws."

When the kids run up to the girl and fling the daisy necklace at her, she's startled, then charmed. Her girlfriends are, too, going 'ooooh!' in delight. She picks it up and puts it on, playfully posing for them, then blows a kiss Jay and Elmo's way. Elmo promptly blushes again, but grins back just as bashful as can be. The guy who remained with the girls stands up and hurls his soda into the trash in a gesture of impotent fury. He scowls at the mutants, who have thoroughly ruined his chances, and leaves, storming off with shoulders hunched.

"You're real good at this people stuff," Elmo says, admiring, and still deep red.


Jay chuckles a little, shaking his head mildly. "Pigs get dirty, sure, but they ain't a whole lot worse than some mules or dogs Ah seen. An' they're /smart/. Had a friend fer a while was a pig farmer." He shrugs. "sounds more like they jus' didn't wanna be eatin' their beasts of burden. Horse is mighty more helpful than cows are. Cows are /dumb/." He whistles lowly.

Stopping to watch the scene unfold, Jay reaches up to seemingly 'catch' the kiss, then grab his friend by his jeans pocket and 'shove' the kiss in Elmo's front pocket. For safe keeping. And not at all an excuse to manhandle and grope the man.

"Aw, sometimes." Jay agrees, affable, and shrugs to Elmo as he finishes the dog off. "Really it's about makin' connections. Makin' folks feel heard or special, like you see 'em. Everyone jus' wants some of that, you know? Some respect. Be treated like a person."

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