What, was "Rudy" on cable last night?

. . . Yes.

Eliot Spencer vdistinctive
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The Loft above Luke's, Sunday
Eliot had managed to get Hardison's wound stitched up without much incident -- it was pretty small, all told, only took five stitches -- and even talked him into an orange juice/soda compromise last night. Things had been going pretty much steadily downhill from there. Which considering it started at "girlfriend missing, boyfriend stabbed in the stomach by an alien" was pretty impressive.

For one thing, Eliot had completely failed to find Parker. She'd turned her phone off, which meant Hardison couldn't track her, and she had too many hidey-holes for them to keep track of. Eliot had considered trying to get Val to track her by scent, but it turned out you needed to train dogs how to do that. Val had just sniffed Parker's shirt, looked wildly around, and then started whining.

She was still whining. Only now at Hardison. Which wasn't helping the tensions continuing to rise in the apartment. Especially after Eliot heard the radio broadcast. And Hardison started outright refusing to go to the clinic and get it taken care of.

"You heard Kitty, man!" Eliot paced in front of the couch where Hardison was refusing to get up. He'd just grab the man and carry him out, but that was pretty much guaranteed to pull his stitches, and Eliot had done enough hurting of Hardison for -- forever. "That thing put something inside you, and we don't know how to get it out. The people at the clinic do!"

[ooc: for the boyfriend, and the girlfriend is welcome when her mun is back online! CONTENT NOTE: violence herein!]

"Nah, it didn't," Hardison argued. "I'm fine. I ain't goin' to the clinic over this. You stitched me up an' I'm good. Who you should be worried about is Parker. I can't believe you ain't find her yet. How you s'posed to be a retrieval specialist if you can't even find what you're supposed to be retrievin'?"

Guess who'd gotten a fast-acting embryo. With the hivemind loud in his ears, Hardison was clinging on to the person he'd been only enough to fool this male into releasing him. Under his bandage, his scales itched.

Oh sure, Hardison. Poke the bear. "Because she's Parker. You've met Parker, right? Woman who had a cosplay shop listed as her home address in Boston? You got any ideas where she's hiding out this time, I'd love to hear 'em."

He knew. He knew where all of his kin were slumbering. But that didn't seem like a good thing to point out right now. "I'm just sayin', that would be a better use of your time than fussin' over me. I'm fine."

Remarkably fine for someone who'd been gut-stabbed yesterday. This was Hardison new and improved!

"You are not fine," Eliot growled. "Know how I know? Ya ain't complaining every five seconds and orderin' me to bring you snacks." Hardison would totally be that sitcom cliche patient with a bell asking for every. single. little. thing. "And frankly, I ain't lookin' to take chances with an alien stinger wound. We're goin' to the clinic. And once I know you're safe there, I'll go lookin' for Parker again."

Look what he'd saved you from! An afternoon of pointless labor to satisfy the demands of a puling man-child. You're welcome.

"You are free to go to the clinic all you want," Hardison said, gesturing to the door. "I'm stayin' right here."

"I ain't gotta go the clinic, Hardison, I wasn't stung! How are you not freaking out about this?! There's an alien in your stomach. You haven't even started fussing about needing antihistamines!"

"Cause there ain't no alien baby in my stomach!" Hardison argued. "You killed it too fast! You see any kinda gross, Geiger-esque xenomorphs poppin' up outta me? No!"

"Great," Eliot said, getting tired of arguing. "So let's go down to the clinic and they can confirm that for us."

Yeah, but see, Hardison really wasn't feeling that. Not with incubating an embryo and all that. So it was time to switch tactics, the Hivemind ruthlessly plumbing his brain for what they could use.

"Man, can't we just stop playin' for a moment an' talk about what this is really about?" he asked, idly scratching his bandages. The scales were a necessary part of the process, of course, but they itched. "You're still grievin' for Kathy, feelin' useless since you couldn't save her or protect her or even train her up good enough to help her survive. So alla this is just an overreaction to that."

Eliot stopped pacing and stared. "What."

It was all absolutely true. And Hardison was the one who noticed things like that and made them all deal with them. But he wasn't usually nasty about it.

And now Hardison was pressing his advantage. He wasn't the only one with a gut wound that needed to be examined, Eliot's was just a lot less literal. "Look, I ain't sayin' alla this guilt ain't got a place. I mean, you did train up a girl an' made her think that she could handle that kinda thing. Who puts weapons into the hands of an eighteen-year-old an' sends 'em off to fight? I mean, besides Uncle Sam, of course. Bet Vance would have loved to know about your little trainin' program here. But this needs to be examined an' handled properly, not projected onto me."

Eliot stared more, the directness of that hit showing plain on his face for several seconds before he managed to shut it down.

He came in close then, leaning in and peering into Hardison's eyes.

"This is the alien, ain't it. It's doin' something to you."

It had to be. Hardison didn't stick his thumb into an open wound and twist. Hardison would never.

But wouldn't it be fun if he did? Had Eliot ever had an idea of how devastating Hardison could be if he tried?

"There ain't no alien, man," Hardison said, voice gentle. Understanding. Forgiving. "I keep tryna tell you that. You just want there to be one, so you can play hero an' hope that it somehow makes up for me gettin' injured downstairs because you were so focused on makin' somethin' hurt because of how hurt you were that you didn't protect me. Hopin' maybe this makes up for not preparin' Kathy right. Hell, maybe even this'll cancel out last year, when you punched me so hard I had internal injuries. But it won't though. Cause ain't nothin' here."

Mentioning last year was a mistake. Because Eliot was almost buying it until Hardison reminded him just how fucked up his headspace had been under Gaunt's influence. "You might even believe that," he said back, just as softly. "That's alright, I know this ain't you, now. I'll drag your ass to the clinic and get this thing outta you if I have to." He gave the thing currently running Hardison his creepy grin. "Just like you and Parker tased me and tied me to a chair to protect me from myself."

He was bluffing, of course. Not about the dragging, he would do that if it came right down to it. But about the creepiness. That feral grin was all for show.


He'd been hoping to avoid this, but if Eliot was going to be stubborn about this--

"No," he said, drawing the gun he'd pulled out from the safe the night before and pointing it at Eliot. "We ain't."

Hardison had less than no idea how to hold a gun. But the Hivemind? Oh, the Hivemind had plenty of training.

"An' before you say anythin'," Hardison said softly, "I know the safety's off."

Eliot looked from the gun to Hardison and narrowed his eyes. "Where the hell did you get that?"

Hivemind seemed to have missed the limited range of efficacy with guns, though. Eliot was much too close to worry too much about this one. He snapped up his forearm, redirecting the barrel clear past his shoulder before Hardison -- or the thing running him -- could pull the trigger. He could have made Hardison drop it, but that ran the risk of hurting the other man too much. He'd have to play this extremely carefully.

"Shouldn't play with dangerous things."

Hey, he'd only been threatening Eliot--for now. He still had the potential to be a useful host later. Though he would have to kill him if he persisted with the 'going to the clinic' idea.

"This? I've had this for awhile, all locked away where you an' Parker didn't know about it," Hardison said. "In a little safe in a box labeled 'Computer Parts' where neither of you'd think to look." Way to just tell all of Hardison's secrets there, embryo, good job. "So before you start thinkin' that I'm an alien, why don't you take another look at that gun an' ask yourself just how well you really do know me?"

And then he tried to slam the barrel into the side of Eliot's head.

Eliot was too rattled by that last bit to properly dodge the pistol whipping. The barrel caught him across the temple, splitting the skin and staggering him.

When the hell did Hardison get so strong?

One of the things that made Eliot the best, though, was his ability to take punishment and keep getting up for more. He straightened, blood pouring down the side of his face, and glared.

"You do not want to make me angry."

When he'd gotten infected by an alien embryo and learned how to properly use all of his strength, most likely.

"Or what?" Hardison taunted, swinging the gun again. "Or you'll hurt me? Punch me? Kick me? Take me down with extreme prejudice?"

Eliot blocked the second swing, but didn't follow up with a strike of his own. Hardison's arms were already going to be bruised just from his blocks, and he didn't like to think what all this activity was doing to those stitches. "You think I can't?"

'Can't' wasn't the word, of course. 'Won't.'

"Nah," Hardison said, bringing his knee up towards Eliot's guts. "Know you can. Think you won't."

Eliot grunted, absorbing the hit, then backed up. He'd never been one for chatting while fighting. "Yeah, well. Fightin' the injured ain't my niche."

Maybe he could goad Hardison into following him to the clinic?

"Fortunately," Hardison said, slamming the pistol back into Eliot's temple, "it's always been mine."

Eliot's instinct should have been to block that. But blocking again might break Hardison's wrist. He couldn't bring himself to do that anymore than he could hit back. He tried to roll with the hit, but he was still underestimating Hardison's strength. Still expecting him not to land his hits with his full force.

Expecting some part of Hardison to hold back.

The gun struck dead center where it had before, smashing open even more of the skin and cracking the bone. Eliot's vision went a blinding green-red-black and he staggered into a rack of computer equipment, bringing the delicate tech down with him.

He tried to get back up, but couldn't get his feet coordinated fast enough. His vision refused to clear. He made one more attempt to get through to the man who should still be lurking somewhere underneath the alien.

"D-dam't. Hard'son."

"You get your wish, Eliot," Hardison said, swinging the gun back up one last time. "You get to go to the clinic. I'm just not going with. Nighty-night."

And then the gun came down again. And Hardison didn't hold back at all.

And Eliot couldn't even see it coming to dodge. Though considering his last conscious thought was I deserve this, he might not have tried very hard.

Hardison looked down at Eliot's unconscious body, then stepped over it to grab an Orange Squeeze soda. "Be back for you later, babe, don't you worry about that," he said.

And then turned and walked out. He had siblings to find.

Too too much later...

The Brood inside Parker was confused. Or the Parker inside the Brood was confused. One of them, or both of them, were having an off day.

They/she/it knew they weren't okay, but weren't too worried about it. Mostly they wanted to figure out how the invasion and infestation were going. They weren't really clear on what they'd do then.

But she also wanted to know how her boys were, and if they were already infected. So, heading home and sneaking in it was.

"Hardison?" A pause. "Eliot?"

Re: Too too much later...

A pause, then a scrape of plastic across the floor when Eliot twitched under the pile of busted electronics. He wasn't quite conscious enough yet to do more than that, just yet.

Re: Too too much later...

Sneaking over to the sound, BroodParker looked down, and ParkerBrood frowned. Then lifted up the electronics to reveal Eliot.

A flicker of-- something, burned inside Parker. She reached out and patted his face. "Eliot?"

Re: Too too much later...

Eliot flinched violently. The entire side of his face was slowly turning blue-black underneath the blood from his temple, and the last thing he remembered was being hit by something heavy and -- trusted?

What was. . . ?

"P'rker?" He squinted, but his eyes wouldn't focus. There were at least three blonde blurs hovering over him.

Re: Too too much later...

Some of those blurs may have had scales along her neck, and the underside of her arms. Parker settled into a tailor position next to Eliot, studying him. "That looks painful." She paused and tilted her head, the Brood coming forward. "Somebody hurt you?"

Re: Too too much later...

Yeah, Eliot couldn't make out that much detail yet. He had one hell of a concussion. "Were lookin' for you," he mumbled, trying to get his hands under himself so he could get upright.

Oh. No. That hurt a lot. Was Parker going to mind if he threw up now?

"Hard'son," he tried. "Hard'son, w'foun' Parker."

Re: Too too much later...

"Is Hardison on comms?" The Brood asked. Then Parker said, "I found you first. I don't like that you're hurt." She reached out a steadying hand to him. How could they make him Brood if he was this hurt?!

The Brood inside her tried to inform her that being Brood would fix that right up for him. Parker retaliated by telling it its priorities needed examining. Or she thought she did; the mental conversation was confusing.

Parker took her hand back and then said, "Things are weird."

Re: Too too much later...

Yeah, Eliot wasn't much in a position to help with that. They were all lucky he had some practice trying to be functional with a severe concussion. "He was here," he said, managing with some effort not to slur his words. "He was -- we gotta get 'im to th'clinic." Word clarity went right back out the window when the room started spinning. "W'gotta --" He froze, eyes going wide as he remembered the other thing he'd been worried about. "Y'were stung too."

This was just perfect. He definitely wasn't in any kind of shape to beat Parker up.

Re: Too too much later...

"Yup. I'm an alien now. Or something." Parker watched him with detachment that was giving way to overwhelming worry. "We're here to take over and be dicks."

The Brood agreed with that so said nothing inside her head.

"You look like a doctor would be good too." A pause. "Except a big part of me thinks killing you would be nicer for everyone, including you."

Re: Too too much later...

Eliot had finally managed to make it to being upright. He eyed Parker suspiciously.

"Y'gonna try it?"

Honestly he'd probably let her, right now.

Re: Too too much later...

Parker furrowed her brow and said, "I wouldn't try. I would succeed." ParkerBrood was good at plans! If she wanted him dead, he'd be dead!

What was with this if? Hello, kill him.

Hello, NO. He was Eliot. He would be an asset.

Okay, so get him to a Queen.... In a bit. He wouldn't survive to get to a Queen if he didn't get fixed up now.

Okay, that made sense.

The Brood inside Parker didn't realize it was being conned. Or defied. Mostly because Parker was pushing aside the question of later in favor of NOW and getting Eliot okay and fixed up and fine and no more bleeding, that was disturbing.

She pushed her shoulder under his and said, "Slowly. We want you to survive." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "Also I have to keep my alien busy with worst-case scenarios, so try to act really weak, okay?"

RE: Re: Too too much later...

Eliot couldn't help a small smile at that. "Act it," he said, wincing as he got moving. He thought he was moving. Maybe the rest of the world was moving instead. "Got it."


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