Burgers with a Side Order of Advice

West Dallas

West Dallas is a largely blighted area of poverty. Several geared-to-income housing projects are in the beginning stages of springing up along the streets in these neighborhoods. For the most part, the area is classified as 'industrial' and plays home to quite a few warehouses, bars and salvage yards.

Oddly enough, it is also home to the historic Belmont Hotel which rests on a beautifully landscaped bluff overlooking Oak Cliff.

It's been a long few days. And things have not been kosher at the Logan house. But between work, and not wanting to find out if she can not only piss off complete strangers, but one of the only friends, real friends she has left in the city, Paige has not ventured down the few blocks to the tattoo parlor. But with the days getting longer, and with no one to talk to, the voices having conversations in her head are just getting a bit too much to take. Even the X isn't helping, not like usual. It's keeping her up, but not numbing her out. Finally, there's just no help for it, and Paige gets in the shower, actually bothers to comb her hair after, and after getting dressed, heads out and away from the house, navigating the blocks down to the only place left in the city where the person inside might actually be around. A hand rises, knocking at the front door, just about a half hour after closing. A knock, and a call up towards the windows of the apartment above, "Jed. Jed, it's Paige, you home?"

The store front is closed, the interior dark, and the sign on the door says ~Not Here~. But the call up toward the windows gets a response, but not from the apartment. After a minute a familiar grizzly face peers down from up on the roof, eyes squinting against the sunlight as the man there raises his right hand for shade and yells down, "Paige? Heck, girl, whatcha doin' all the way down there? Git her sweet cheeks up 'ere. Got a venison burger w'your name onit!" Too lazy to go all the way down to let her in, Jed thumbs over to the side noting, "Y'know the way up!" before his head vanishes once again. The 'way up' that he's referring to is the metal fire escape in the alleyway next to the tattoo parlor.

Paige leans back, which on the one hand, gives her a view of Jed over the edge of the roof, but on the other puts the sun right in her eyes. Jed gets haloed by the sun shining from sort of behind his head, which would be completely ironical, to anyone looking at him. he certainly doesn't look terribly angelic. But to Paige, well, she knows different. Grizzled he may be, but if there's a man in the city with a kinder heart, at least to little Alaskan strays, well, she hasn't met them yet. "Yeah, alright. Be right up." And around the corner to the back of the parlor she goes, jumping up to catch the tag of canvas sewn onto the last rung of the fire escape. A hard tug to convince the slightly rusty metal to unfold. Okay…maybe two tugs, and she's climbing up and threading her way up towards the roof.

The closer she gets to the top, the more she can smell the barbeque. Jed is a simple man, with honest means, one of which is the fact that he goes hunting a few times a year and keeps a freezer in the stockroom filled with all sorts of game that he catches. Venison burgers are a common treat come summertime. The grill flickers and hisses, smoke rising up into the air. Worn, faded, but comfortable chairs and lawn furniture are scattered about the roof which is dominated mostly by two separate garden beds - one full of all kinds of random flowers, the other filled with herbs and vegetables. At the top of the ladder stands Jed, hands on his hips wearing his usual jaded jeans and black tank top, a wide smile about to split the man's face in two. "Well whoooo-eeee! Lookit you. C'mere girl and give an old man a hug. Damn, haven't seen you fer too long now. Where y'been? Find yerself a nice beau to play house wit?"

"You keep forgetting to remind me to come over and get the rust off that fire escape." Paige holds up her hands, which are now stained with red iron oxide. "But you know I can't say no to your grille." Paige hops the top of the roof, brushing her hands off on her jeans, getting them mostly clean, while she crosses the distance to the man waiting over by the barbeque. "You're not old, Jed, you'll never be old." Geez, he's only just her brother Isaac's age. Past the plant beds, past the furniture, and finally close enough to slips her arms around the older man's waist, tucking herself in against his chest, face pressed to his neck. Very much like she used to hug her Dad, when she was much younger than she is now. If there was anything that could be like a little bit of home in Texas, this would be it. "Working." The words are muffled, but still intelligible, even the snort that comes at the end, "The day that happens is the day the world implodes on itself."

"Ahhhh, little rust never hurt no one," Jed scoffs with a waves of his hand. But he gives Paige a one-armed bear hug, patting her back as he chuckles and corrects, "Paigie, I was born old." He holds her close, his scarred cheek resting against the crown of her head before he gives her another squeeze and lets her go. Turning about to make his way back over to the grill he chastises, "Workin'? You workin' so much yeh can't even be bothered to visit yer Uncle Jed? I swears, you kids these days. Y've fergotten the whole point of livin'. Yeh gotta slow down, darlin'. Life t'aint about rushin' ever which way like a chicken done gotten its head cut off. Slow down 'n smell some flowers." His left arm hangs loosely at his side as he picks up the spatula resting on a thick cutting board beside the grill with his right hand, slipping it beneath one burger and flipping it over to an enthusiastic sizzle of the grill, and then flips over the second one. Sizzle! "Iffin' y'be wantin' tomaters, there's a few ripe ones jest ready fer the pickin'," he calls over his shoulder.

Paige holds onto the hug as long as she can. Sometimes it's just nice to have someone to bear hug, you know? But as soon as he lets go, she does too, spinning around to heads back over to the vegetable garden, with a stop to wash hands at the spigot on her way. Gotta love old buildings. Easy to reroute the water supplies, "You know I've got deadlines coming up." But then no, that's not the whole truth, and you just don't lie to Jed, "I should have come by to see you, but I was afraid I might just set myself on fire, or get struck by lightning. Which, considering the way things have been going, would have been a distinct possibility. And I wouldn't have wanted you to have to clean that up." Paige kneels, taking care with the tomatoes, plucking off two, to be carried back and washed off, "And you're one to talk about working too much. When was the last time you took a day off from the shop?"

He turns, eyes narrowing as he watches Paige make her way carefully into the garden to find two ripe tomatoes, asking quietly, "Yeh havin' trouble wi'yer magic or wi'yer emotions?" Jed knows from first hand experience what it's like when you're an Elemental witch with less than perfect control over your emotions. Course, in his case his Paw didn't care none if he got drunk and angry and lit his son on fire for forgetting to take out the trash or getting a bad grade in school. "Yer as pretty as a sunset on a cloudy day, girl. T'ain't no reason fer yeh not t'ave a beau, lessin you don't want none." At her question, Jed snorts and notes, "I took off t'day, if y'must know. Been just sunnin' m'self all day long." He holds out his right hand for the tomatoes and adds, "What you be wantin' on yer burgers, girl? Onion? Lettuce? Brought up the ketchup and mustard. And the buns of course."

"The second one." Which, Jed knows well enough to know, means both, and is usually the way it works with Paige. When she's got herself under control, which is most of the time, she can handle her magic just fine. But when she gets to that place, with or without the X to goad things along, that's when things start to get wonky. She'll start blinking in and out of sight, or rain with sprout up in the middle of the house, or wind'll knock the windows around. Thankfully, her control over earth and fire are so tenuous she never actually sets herself or anything else on fire or gets swallowed up by the earth but, heck, there'll be a first time for everything eventually. "No reason, except there's nobody around that'd have me, and you know that." Coming up on five years he's known Paige, and there's not been a man around she hasn't been able to drive off sooner rather than later. "I thought you looked a little bit like that beef jerky we made last month." With the tomatoes safely handed off, Paige turns to prep the rest of the fixings for the burgers, "Everything, of course. Want me to make up one or two for you?"

Chuckling softly, Jed shakes his head and muses, "Y'know, I've done a lot of tattoos fer a lot o'people, but I t'ain't never made one to protect a person from them ownselves. But its better yeh figure it out fer yerself. Y'need a ritual, girl. Somethin' to focus yerself, find yer center. Like a warm spot of sunshine in yer belly." Snorting as he takes the tomatoes and turns around, laying them on the cutting board, Jed counters, "Nobody good enough fer yeh, y'mean. Yer a prickly one, Paigie. Like them hedgehogs they have in them fancy pet stores. Yer prickly on the outside, but yer soft and tender on the inside. Is hard to find a man who likes his women with sharp edges when they're expectin' soft curves. Easy to think there ain't nobody out there for ya. But it t'ain't true. Hell, I'm livin' proof of that!" Raising his left hand slowly, Jed places it on one of the tomatoes, holding it while he starts to cut slices with the left. But it isn't more than a few seconds before that hand starts shaking. "I pulled out an onion already …. and the lettuce. Oh, and cheese. Put some of that cheese on the burgers right quick, darlin', before they char." The shaking gets worse and with a muttered oath Jed pulls it away, shaking it a few times, flexing the gnarled fingers a few time before resuming. But it just starts shaking again, worse than before. He stares down hard, as if he could will his hand to hold steady, glancing up to ask, "Make me up one of wha… ahhh! Fuck!" He drops the knife, blood on the blade from where his finger got in the way. It's not a bad cut, but it's a painful reminder. Cursing he sticks his bleeding finger in his mouth and mutters around it, "Paige, you mind cuttin' fer me. Is bad today." Reaching into the pocket of his jeans, Jed pulls out a prescription bottle and opens it one-handed with way more ease than a body should. He pops two pills, swallowing them dry before eyeing the cut on his hand venomously. Well, that explains why he wasn't working today.

"Maybe you should look into it, cause I think I might need one." Not that Paige has ever let anyone, not even Jed near her with a needle and ink. She's just the way God made her. "I can't help being the way I am, Jed. But it hurts when." Paige takes a moment, watching the man prep the tomatoes. It takes everything in her not to take the knife out of his hands. But she cares too much to baby him. And she knows, from experience it doesn't end well. He's torn her up one side and down the other enough that she knows better, "When you think you might be getting to know someone and then all of a sudden they just. I dunno. They just explode on you. Think you're being mean when you're not, and won't even accept your apology, not for real. Sure, I've got it." Paige turns, unwrapping the cheese and setting it out on the burgers, doubling up on the slices, just at the same time that Jed gets to work with the knife. "You went and got yourself someone while I wasn't looking? Well, better that way. I doubt she'd live up to my standards." Nope, there's nobody in the world good enough for Jed. Just sayin'. Paige's at the grille, and doesn't see the cut until it's too late. "Jed. Sweet Lord, of course I will. Go get your hand under the water, and I'll take care of this and be over to fix you up."

"It's nothin, don't you fret none," retorts Jed irritably, but Paige knows from experience that he's angry with himself, not her. Pulling a rag from the table he wraps the cloth about his finger and holds it loosely in his crippled hand. While Paige takes care of the cutting, Jed takes care of the grilling. He only needs one hand for that. Buns are put on the grill to toast while he waits for the cheese to melt. "Nah, t'ain't no woman gonna take me now," Jed mutters without any real bitterness. "I was thinking when I was a youngin', younger than you was when y'got here. Still not much to look at then, but a damn sight better than I is now. Hooked up with the prettiest girl in twelve counties, I tell you what. Just goes to prove there's someone out there fer everyone." Being a tattoo artist is rather like being a bartender with a regular customer. You hear a lot of stories and you learn to listen. "So. Y'met someone after all then. And it all went south before it was even fall?" His head turns to study Paige as he asks, "So? What happened? Spill it, girl."

"It's my job. Who's going to look out for you if not me?" Paige shoots back, even as she keeps on slicing tomatoes, after washing them off, you know, just to make sure there's no blood anywhere. Ew. they're neither of them vampires, you know. Onions next, and then she turns on the lettuce, tearing it into bun sized pieces. "And you know that's not true. You're smart, and funny, and I think you're quite handsome. You don't give yourself any credit at all." Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black? "Not much to tell, really. Met him through a girl I know. They're dating, I think, or sleeping together, whatever. I only got the story from her anyway. Ran into them at the country club, and he seemed pretty nice. Didn't seem to mind my sense of humor. Then I ran into him again at the IHOP, and we were talking, joking, I thought, and I was like, 'Hey, I might actually have made a friend.' Then the next thing you know, he was acting like I wasn't even at the table anymore. So I got up to go. I mean, I'm not going to sit at a table with someone else, but talking to myself. Then he got up, all mad as hell at me, and I had no idea what I did wrong, only he was going on about how he didn't know what my problem was, but clearly it was him, and I tried to apologize, cause that's what Mama taught me, apologize cause it gives you time to think of what you did wrong. But I don't think he really thought I meant it, then he left. Then I rode my bike back home and didn't leave the house till today."

"I can look out fer myself," Jed notes archly and with pride. "Been doin' it since I was sixteen years and I done hied myself out here in the first place." Putting the buns on plates and then the burgers on buns, Jed brings one over and then the other. He practically goggles at Paige's claim though, his already buggy eyes bugging out further. "Daaaaaamn, girl. If yer callin' me pretty, then you be needin' some glasses pronto. I owns a mirror. I knows what I got sittin' on my two shoulders. You best be butterin' up those buns than me." As he listens to her story, Jed adorns his burger with the freshly cut up toppings, layering on some BBQ sauce instead of ketchup. "Datin' or sleepin' t'gether? What, y'do one wi'out the other these days?" Shaking his head, either at the marvels of current morals or the depravity of them, Jed pushes over a tub with a spoon in it, noting, "P'tata salad. Made it fresh t'day." He scoops himself out two spoonfuls before carrying his food over to a small wooden table and taking a seat there. "Y'want a cold one?" he asks as he pulls out a bottle of beer from a cooler of ice. He ponders her words a moment before stating, "Paige. Y'know I love you like the daughter I never had. And as such I love you just the way you is, prickles and all. Now, I wasna there, so I can't say how this all went down, but a fella don't just shift from laughing and joking t'ignoring ya without a reason. So I guess the question's this. Were you bein' real with the fella? Or were you bein' sardonic? Cause I know you got a wit that's sharper than a skinin' knife and dryer than a tumbleweed in the desert. Cause sometimes when you like that, it's hard t'know if yer jossin' or pissin'." He pauses before noting, "Course he could just be a fuckin' bastard, in which case you just tell me where t'find him and I'll give 'im whatfor…"

"I know you can, but you're family, Jed. Not blood family, but heart family. And I was raised to take care of my family." Which is the biggest part of the reason Paige makes good money and still lives in a dump. Most of her money ends up back home, helping to do what she can't, being half a continent away from her kin. "I never said you were pretty. But I was telling the truth." Paige lets Jed get his lunch first, before she turns to fixing her own, "Yeah, I guess that's the popular thing these days. Or maybe it's just easier for some people, disconnecting your body from your heart. Yeah, she's got a boyfriend, a dead one, but she's got him on the side. I guess sleeping with a vampire's not all it's cracked up to be." OMG, OMG. Ew! "Best potato salad in the state. Just some water, if you've got it. I had to take some stuff this morning, I don't want to mix it with alcohol." And Jed would know about the X. Paige doesn't have any secrets from the man. And once her lunch's ready, she too heads over to settle across from him at the table, "I was just joking. I'd never say something mean to someone for real, unless they really deserved it, and he didn't. Especially someone I didn't know. And he was laughing, you know, and then he wasn't, like someone flipped a switch." The shake of her head is vehement, "No, you don't have to do that. He's a nice guy, you know? And I liked him, but I guess he didn't like me. Hell, I'm probably better off. I've got you, right? You're all the friend I need."

"Handsome, pretty, different words, same diff." Gesturing to the tap she was using earlier, he notes, "Help yerself. Should be some glasses by the grill." He listens again, an expression of mild disgust coming over his features as he confirms, "Wait, she's fuckin' a vampire. Ohhhh-hhh. That t'ain't natural." Clucking his tongue and shakin' his head, he asks, "And this fella, the one you kinda sorta maybe like… he know about this vampire… lover?" Oh. So. Wrong. "Sweetheart, you'll always have me, but y'really need to be with other people, people yer own age. You and me, we's family. You'll always have family. But friends? Lovers? They're important too. Don't cut yerself off from life like y'do. Like this X business. I don't like it. If you don't have the energy t'do yer job natural like, then you need a new job. Y'work too hard, play too little, and y'go day after day bein' all by yerself. T'ain't good for yeh, darlin'. I don't know about that there fella. Sounds like maybe he ain't the right one. But that don't mean you just chuck it all in and give up. Ante up, pick up yer hand, and play yer cards. Sometimes yeh gotta take a chance, gamble a little. Cause I guarantee yeh, if all you do is fold, you'll never win nothin'."

Paige pushes back from the table, grabbing a glass and stealing some ice from the cooler, before she's off to the tap. "That's what I said. I was like, you know you're sleeping with a corpse, and all I got out of her was, 'Yeah, I know all that.' Lord, it gives me the willies just thinking about it. And the last time I talked to her, he didn't. But she said he was going to tell her. I dunno, I guess that part's not really my business. Guess he isn't either. It just hurt me, you know?" The glass fills easily enough, and she's on her way back to the table, "You know I can't stop doing my job, Jed, anymore than you can stop doing yours. I wasn't put on this earth to just let my powers rot, die off inside me or build up inside me with no release until they explode out of control. And I'm tired of playing, Jed. It doesn't even pay off. It doesn't ever pay off. And you know I tried." Which she did, when she first came. She even went out on dates and everything. Sometimes even two in a row, with the same person, before they took off running, "Besides, it's not like the family needs me to carry on the bloodline. Isaac and Paul made sure their wives popped out enough that the bloodline's covered. Jed, I'd rather be alone that always hurting." And with that, and a stab of a fork into her potato salad, she tucks into her lunch. No, she's not removing herself from the conversation at all. But come on…it's venison…in a burger. With extra cheese.

Jed picks up the burger using both hands. The left one still has a tremor, but with the support of the right, he can hold his food relatively still so he can bite into it. Ahhhhhh, damn but that's good. He lets out a soft sigh of pleasure and takes another bite as he listens to his 'niece' shaking his head again. "Ugh. Stop already, you'll put me off m'food!" But when she switches to defending her job, Jed counters, "Bullsheeit. I do what I do because I love it, because it means somethin' to me and because I'm good at it. It makes me a livin' and I like what I do. Not t'many people can say that. This job of yers, if you do it just to bleed off her powers, well hell, there's plenty o'jobs that'll do that. But this job runs you into the dirt, Paige. Makes you take drugs you oughten' need, burns you out. Now me? I can take a day off whenevers I need to, and I do." Sighing, Jed shifts forward and reaches out, laying his good hand on Paige's arm and noting, "I just don't like seein' yeh like this. T'ain't natural and you and I both knows there's gots to be a better way." Shaking his head, Jed mutters, "And damnit girl, it ain't about carrying on no bloodline. Hells, this branch of the Coulton family dies with me and I sure as hell don't give a damn. This is about you havin' somethin' fer yerself. Yer young, yer smart, yer funny, yer beautiful, and yeh deserve a man who loves yeh, hell, you just deserve better. Ahhhh, dangnabit girl, you is even more stubborn and bullheaded than me." Sighing, Jed shakes his head and waves his hand. "Well, you'll do as you please, no doubt, even if it does run yeh into an early grave. T'ain't nuthin' I can do about it if you don't bother to heed yer elders…"

"Thankfully, nothing could put me off of your cooking." Which is the truth. But she's just as happy to set aside the thought of vampire anything. Ew. And she's happy to tuck in, for a few minutes at least. "I don't love my job, I'll admit that. But it has to be done. Lord, Jed, you know what's out there. What's waiting for people when they go poking their noses around where they shouldn't. If I can keep people safe, that's what I have to do. That's what I was raised to do, I can't do anything else. Yeah, I could probably go back to being a medium, working that circuit, it's not like between you and Michael you couldn't help put me in touch with the right people, but I've gotta do something useful with my life. And that's not it." Paige sighs, reaching out to mirror the gesture of a moment before, her hand settling on Jed's arm, "You think I want to be alone, really? You think I like not having anyone to talk to, to sit out on the porch with, to go to sleep with and wake up to in the morning? But I can want that with everything inside of me, but it won't make someone magically appear." Beat. "No pun intended." Another pause, "I know you love me, Jed. And I know you only want what's best for me, but I can't make someone want me no matter how much I might want them. And I can't dwell on lacking it. I have to just live my life the best I can, not spend my life looking at other people wishing I had what they have."

Hmmmming softly, Jed takes up his burger again and starts to eat, talking in between bites. "Tell you what. Go find that boy, the one you was talkin' about. Get him to explain what went haywire. You owe that t'yerself. Y'can't fix somethin' if yeh don't know why it's broken. And if he's an ass, well, y'can always make it rain on his head or somethin'." Chuckling, Jed takes another bite, the juice and BBQ sauce dribbling down his chin. Not that he cares two whits, of course. "I understand. Y'got a callin'. But maybe yeh don't have to shoulder the whole burden, eh? Just try to take things a tad slower, okay? Give yer body and yer magic the rest and support it needs, don't string it out on drugs and no sleep." Finishing the burger, Jed licks his fingers unrepentantly before digging into the potato salad. "Those are good things to want, darlin. And no, you can't make someone love yeh. But just don't shut the door in their face either. Give people a chance." He shrugs and grins, noting, "Cause sometimes they're stupid and you gotta let 'em bumble about like a bee trapped in a house before they find their way out an open window or, in your case, the way in."

The command to go and find the source of her current problem gets a frowny face from Paige, which would be much more impressive if she hadn't just taken a bite from her burger. But she knows well enough to do what Jed tells her. He's always got the knack for knowing just the right thing to do. Even if you might feel like you're sticking a poker in your eye to do it, "I'll see if I can find him. I don't know where he lives or anything, but I could probably find him through the gallery showing his work." With the majority of her lunch finished, Paige settles for her water, mulling over it like someone else might muse over something with a bit more kick, "I'll try. I just…maybe I can find something else that won't hit me so hard." A final bite of her salad, before she continues, "I guess I'm all shut doors and no windows, aren't I?" The instinct for self-preservation is a terrible thing, sometimes, "Now you finish up your lunch, and let me see that arm, yeah? You know I've got magic hands." Not to mention a heat spell from her Uncle Jacob that he taught her to use on people and animals who got a little too cold in the wintertime. Just the sort of thing one needs, when you live in the middle of ass-nowhere Alaska. Works pretty well for achy muscles too. Better than hot stones.

"Atta girl," he replies with a satisfied nod. Using his thighs to keep the bottle still, he pops the top on his beer before plucking it free and taking a long and lengthy swallow. "You is like a summer house closed up for winter sometimes, ayep. But I think you'll find that you can weather those winter storms just fine without needin' all the extra armor." Reaching over Jed clinks his bottle of beer against Paige's glass of water before taking another long swallow, a trickle of beer escaping the corner of his mouth to trail down his throat. Wiping his lips against his arm, he dutifully tucks into his potato salad noting, "There's plenty more t'eat if yer still hungry. I'm gonna throw another burger on the grill m'self." He chuckles at her mention of magic hands, noting, "That you do, darlin, that you do. You should put them to better use on some young hot stud, but I t'ain't gonna say know if you're offerin' them t'me."

Paige finishes the last of her burger, leaving only a bite or two of her potato salad, which she finishes off after the toast, humble or otherwise, "I don't know how to be any other way. I'm not the giggling, flirting, throwing myself out there sort of person. I guess I'm all prickles and stings, like my Oma D. How do you do it, Jed? You're not all prickly all of the time." Paige rises, heading back over to the grill to clean it up a bit, after taking a minute to tuck her hair up into a bun and out of her face. Pulling them out of the cooler, she puts another burger on, and then a second, happy to tend to the cooking while Jed enjoys his lunch at his usual easy pace, "Well, if I find one, I'll let you know that they're rented out. But for the time being, you're it."

"How do I do what, sunshine? Not be a complete bear?" Stretching out in his old lawn chair, the metal of it creaking in protest, Jed shrugs and notes, "I never was much one fer quarreling, and I don't have no need to keep people neither in nor out. I don't fear them none cause I knows there ain't nuthin' they can do to be what hasn't already been done. I guess I'm a surviver. And when y'live with pain on a daily basis, you can't fear it none. It's like yer shadow. Just best get used to it rather than spookin' every time you see it creepin' up on ya'll." Tilting his head, he watches as Paige starts another burger for him, the drugs kicking in now, making him more willing to just let someone do for him for a change. "Yeh can't be afraid of pain. Life is sufferin'. Buddhists got that one right. Iffin' you hide fer fear of gittin' hurt, y'miss out on all the good stuff as well." He chuckles and closes his eyes, tilting his grizzled and scarred face up to the sun as he mumbles, "Well, I'll take what I can git, but I think yer gettin' a bum deal, darlin…."

"Yes. Cause I know you have it in you." Paige has both seen it as an outsider, and a recipient in her own time, of Jed's formidable temper. The burgers are set out on a low fire, to cook them slowly, really the best way to keep the lean venison juicy and to prevent it from getting too burned on the outside. It'll be a little while, before she has to go and flip them. Thankfully, Jed's as good a supervisor as he is a chef, and he'll let her know when it's time. For now, Paige makes a trip to wash her hands, running the spell through her head as she does, before she heads over to where he's sitting, settling down indian style on the roof beside him, leaving him with his good arm for drinking, while she gets to work on the bad one. The heat from her hands, as she pushes the spell out of her skin and into his is hot but not too hot, seeping heat into his skin and down into his muscles like a warm bath, as she starts at the shoulder and works her way down, "I guess I'm not all that good at dealing with pain, physical or otherwise." Which, is likely one of the reasons why she's never let Jed put the needles to her. "I am afraid of it, even if I don't want to be, and wish I wasn't. Oma says people can't make her happy and they can't make her sad, but they can do both." A sniff, towards the end, "There's no one I'd rather be taking care of than you, Jed."

"Everybody got something deep and dark and angry in 'em, Paige. I got lots to be angry about. I also got lots to be grateful fer. When the pain allows, I find it's better to be grateful and happy than angry and hurtful. The latter don't help me feel no better and it sure as hell don't help nobody else neither." He sighs softly as Paige takes up his battered arm and starts touching it. Hell, just being touched by something other than a needle feels good. But Paige's hands are something special. Turning his head, his eyes slowly open as he watches her work. "Yer just gonna have to take a deep breath and jump in the deep end feet first, Paige. T'ain't no other way 'round it. But I'll be close by, casin' you find youse can't swim." But at her final words, Jed blinks and then turns his head away, taking a long pull on his bottle before wiping at his mouth and, surreptitiously, his eyes.

There's very little in the world Paige hasn't seen, not when it comes to being hurt. Part and parcel of growing up in a place no sane human should ever have any cause to live. Water might drown you, but cold and ice and wind can tear you apart better than anything. And so, as she works her way along Jed's arm, knowing from long practice how to apply the heat to do the best she can for the damaged tissue and flesh, there's nothing but tenderness and love in her touch. Horrific it might be, but not to her, "That's what I'm afraid of too, Jed. You know how my magic gets when I can't control myself. What if something happens…and I hurt someone?" But there's a smile there, and the sparkle of her own tears as she leans down, pressing a kiss to the top of his shoulder, "I know you will. That's the only reason I'm not scared out of my mind most times. Cause I always have you to look out for me."

Hmmmming softly, Jed rumbles, "You gotta find somethin' to focus on, bring yer emotions under control. Otherwise, mark my words girl, you will hurt someone." Turning his head back to Paige, Jed ponders quietly before musing, "Maybe one of those fancy Eastern martial arty type thangs? I hears those are good for disciplinin' yer mind and body. Or mebbe yoga. Or what they call it now… pillatees? Whatever. You need an outlet and you need a ritual. Y'never hear of no protection magic runnin' roughshod over everybody and youse knows why?" Well, other than the fact that it's protection magic. "Cause we's gots rituals. We gotta craft the spell with our hands, with tools, with things. We ain't no fire hose, spraying our magic this way and that. The ritual controls the mind and the emotions and the magic. Now I know youse don't need no rituals for yer magic, but youse needs some sort of rituals for yer mind and emotions, girl. Find somethin that works for yeh." Laying his head back, Jed hums contentedly and posits, "Maybes you should become one of those fancy massewers types…"

"I don't think martial arts would work out too well for me. I think I was born with two left feet. At least, I can't dance worth anything, and what I see in movies and on TV looks a lot like that. But I met someone. Blacksmith over at the Village, owns his own place. Name's Skylar. He offered to give me smithing lessons, and even some lessons on sword fighting. That's something I've never done before, I don't know, it maybe could work. But I haven't seen him in a while. We're still sort of rocky too." Paige does not exaggerate her ability to rub people the wrong way, no she does not. "Your protection magic doesn't do that to anyone, but you also have better control than anyone I've ever met. Ever." Paige pauses, unfolding herself from the roof to go and turn the burgers, keeping them still on a low heat, before she comes back, settling back to work on Jed's elbow, twisting and concentrating the spell to work the heat into the damaged joint and tendons, "Only if you'd be my only customer. I'm not sure how I'd feel about touching complete strangers. You, you're okay though."

"Hmmmm, never heard of no emotional discipline in takin' up a sword, but I suppose it certainly can't hurt to try. Well, lessin' you do something stupid like chop off a toe or somethin'. Maybe you jest need a hobby. Somethin' to focus your mind and that makes you calm." His eyes open again, staring up into the brilliant blue sky as Jed notes, "Y'know, I've told this before, but I'm gonna say it again. I could probably help with that. Do you up a nice pretty tattoo with some eastern type meditatin person and some symbols to help you stay calm, protect you against yer own emotions some. T'ain't a bad idea fer a tattoo, reallys. Biggest problem folks have when they git in a jam is they panic. Bein' calm in a crisis, now that would be some good protection." He turns and looks at his arm, wiggling his fingers experimentally before shrugging and noting, "The world's loss is my gain, I'm suspectin'."

"Well, if I do, that would be the strangest transplant ever, if I could get a replacement. Did you know they use toes sometimes to replace missing fingers? Well, the thumb. I saw it on the Discovery Health channel, one of those show they have all the time. They take your big toe and shape it up, and then stick it on where your thumb used to be. Cause apparently, you can still walk without a big toe, or they put a fill in your sock or something, but having an opposable thumb is sort of the whole package of being human." Paige continues working, making her way down from elbow to forearm, taking her time as she gets to the areas of greatest damage. This is certainly not something to be rushed. "Well, maybe it's more samurai style I was thinking of, with the emotions, I mean. But he's more European. Even the sword he gave me is too. But the Japanese are all about controlling themselves, right?" Paige quiets the, considering, and she is giving it serious thought, especially considering how much her emotional control has been fracturing lately, especially now that Chance moved out of the house. Whether it has anything to do with the psychic teaching her to mask her thoughts, well, who knows, "Could you do it all in white? I remember that girl you had come in, Michelle, I think…and you did those roses for her all in white ink?" It really was beautiful, barely visible against her pale skin. Elegant, in its way, "You want the whole package, when we're done lunch?"

Wrinkling up his brow, Jed gives Paige one of those disbelieving looks. The man is more like a throwback to another century sometimes. No television, no computer, no cell phone, hell the phone he does use is an old rotary! It's only because of Paige that he even knows what a computer is, let alone how to use the ones at the libraries, which have certainly made his researching much easier these past few years. But this? "T'ain't natural," he replies with a shake of his head before settling it back down again. His eyes drop down to his bare feet, wiggling his toes dubiously before shaking his head. "Yep, I guessin' the Japanese, bein' oriental an' all, got talent fer emotional restraints. Different kind of martial arts, I'm guessing, just wit swords?" Turning back to Paige, Jed's mouth splits open in a huge toothy uneven grin. "Darlin, I'll make you whatevers you wants. Color ain't no nevermind fer the most part. It's the symbols what count."

And like any good niece trying to help out the old codger in the family, Paige her been infinitely patient in her attempts to get Jed into the new millennium. Hell, if she could get him into the old millennium, that would be a step up, "It's amazing the things they can do with medicine these days, isn't it?" She doesn't say it, of course, but she thinks it. That perhaps they could even help to restore some more functionality to Jed's arm, "Well, I don't know anything about the symbols, so I would have to leave that up to you. Just as long as you don't put it on the small of my back." And at that, she does make a face. She's not getting a tramp stamp, even if it would be a Coulton original. Finally, her hands find his, the pace slowing, the heat increasing, as she works at the source of the most damage and the greatest part of his pain.

"I reckon that's true," Jed rumbles peaceably, either not catching the subtle hint or simply knowing better. Chuckling softly at her comment Jed notes, "Ideally? I'd place the thing right between yer eyebrows. Some chakra doohickey thingy havin' t'do with a third eye, but I'm thinking rightly you'd not care fer that so much." His head bobs up and down, eyes closed, his breathing slow and easy. "Well, iffin' you be serious, I'll start workin' up the spell fer yeh." And then one might think that the old codger had dozed off. Except for the fact that after a few minutes he sniffs and reminds, "Flip the burgers, sunshine."

Paige works her way over Jed's hand, wrist, palm, back, fingers, taking her time to stretch and work the joints and muscles as well as she can. And it is a bit of therapy, at that, which, along with the drugs, will hopefully ease the man that must have been intense, to get Jed to close up the shop for the day. When he gives the comment, well, "Then I'd have to wear a bandanna all the time, like a pirate. Or a redneck. But then, I do already have a truck." Paige places a kiss on the back of Jed's hand, setting it on his stomach, as she rises to see to the burgers, and commanded, and to get them ready for lunch, the second course.

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