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vdistinctive


What, was "Rudy" on cable last night?

. . . Yes.


cooking-face, chef-face
Eliot Spencer vdistinctive
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Outside Oklahoma City, Sunday morning
The house had been quiet all night. The family spent about another hour at the hospice with Emerson's body before Trudy finally let them take him away, then everyone had gone back home. It was too late to call most people with the news, so there wasn't much to do that night but try -- and fail -- to sleep.

Morning broke to a large breakfast, what Eliot had managed to accomplish with his sleepless hours. Ellie and Cassie both picked at their food, Ellie barely managing to eat anything, but Johnny happily cleaned their plates for them. Trudy's eating was more dutiful than enthusiastic, though she managed to look up and nod at Eliot and give him a small smile of thanks.



Trudy

"Jake, hon, you got Daddy's address book last week when you went over to his house, right?" she asked, after setting the kids to clearing the table. Jake nodded and went to fetch it. "We need to call his people." She picked up the landline and came back over to the table to sit. Ellie plopped down next to her and leaned her head on her shoulder, while Cassie and Johnny hunched on the other end, looking deeply uncomfortable. "And a funeral home, I guess. And -- the paper? For an obituary?"


Eliot

"I'll take care of those," Eliot said. "You get the friends, I'll handle the arrangements."


Trudy

Trudy frowned. ". . . Alright. I guess. If you're sure."


Eliot

"I am good for somethin' other than cookin', Tru."


Cassie

"We won't even have to do that, soon," Cassie said, then shrugged when everyone stared at her. "What? Don't people bring, like, mountains of food when people die? We're going to live on casseroles for weeks."


Ellie

"Oh my god shut up," Ellie said. "Can't you be a person for a minute?"


Johnny

Johnny muttered something about homework and fled the room.


Hardison

Hardison was being very quiet, feeling like he was intruding on their grief. He'd sent Parker a text the night before letting her know what had happened, and otherwise had tried to stay out from underfoot.

Now he was quietly making the rounds of the table, clearing it and bringing them over to the sink to begin washing them. It was something helpful he could do in this time when everyone was struggling to find something.

Passing Eliot, he reached out to clasp him shoulder, silently asking how he was doing.


Eliot

Eliot reached up and squeezed his hand for a moment before shrugging him off. So . . . not great, but he could be worse.

At least he wasn't imploding like the Thomases were.


Jake

"Cassie, nobody needs your morbid humor right now," Jake said, handing his wife the address book.


Cassie

"Someone just died," Cassie grumbled, ducking her head. "It's exactly the time to be morbid."


Ellie

"Shut up!"


Cassie

"Don't tell me what to do!"


Eliot

Eliot looked from the bickering twins to his sister's shaking hands on the phone and slapped his hand down on the table. "Hey!"

Everyone froze, staring at him.

"This is the last thing your mom needs right now. You two wanna tear each other apart, do it outside."

The twins exchanged looks and bolted. Jake frowned at Eliot, then followed after. Eliot let the air lay heavy and silent for a moment, then cleared his throat.

"The hospice gave me some info about funeral homes --"


Trudy

"Don't yell at my kids." Trudy didn't look up from the phone. Eliot backed up a step from the table.


Eliot

"Sorry. I just --"


Trudy

"You don't get to do that." Trudy set the phone down and looked up at him. "They don't know you." She shook her head slightly. "None of us do."


Hardison

"Hey, hey," Hardison said, raising his hands up. "That's fair. Ain't no one needs to raise their voice right now. But let's just...not do this? Right now? All y'all are hurtin' already, no reason to hurt each other more. Please."


Trudy

"I know you didn't just try to tell me to keep my voice down in my own house," Trudy snapped, then rubbed her forehead. "I'm sorry. You're a guest here, and I don't make a habit of snapping at guests. Just -- let me get through these phone calls, then I'll go find Daddy's life insurance policy. See how much funeral we can even afford."


Eliot

Eliot lowered himself carefully into a chair. "We can afford whatever he wanted, Tru. Money ain't gonna be a problem."


Hardison

Hardison thought about pointing out he'd been agreeing with her about Eliot not needing to yell at the girls, but decided to wait for a better time to clarify that, no, he hadn't been telling her to keep it down. "Ain't no reason to apologize," he said instead. "Not takin' it personal."


Trudy

Honestly, right now she'd probably snap at him for that too. She took another breath and forced a smile. "Thank you, hon. Could you do me a favor? Jake's gonna have his hands full with the girls for at least another hour or so. Can you go into my office? There's a big folder full of my dad's papers. His policy should be in there."


Eliot

Eliot frowned. "Tru, I just said you ain't got to worry about that. I'll cover all the funeral expenses."


Trudy

Trudy's smile went even more brittle at the edges. "It's a life insurance policy, Eliot. Dad didn't pay into it all those years for us not to collect it."


Hardison

Hardison looked from Trudy and Eliot and back. "In your office you said? Yeah, I could definitely go look for that." And, in a last ditch effort to stem off the fight that was brewing he said, "Eliot, you wanna help me look? You'll probably recognize it before I will."

With his...superior grasp of...his dad's name?


Eliot

"Yeah," Eliot said, grasping at that transparent attempt to defuse the situation with all his might. "Good idea."

He led the way out of the kitchen, only to find himself turning into the wrong room on the first try, and having to make a beeline across the hall instead.

When he got into the little room, not much more than a closet with windows, he leaned against the wall and shut his eyes.

"Shit."


Hardison

Look, everyone knew that Hardison was the worst at conning people. He always tried to sell it too hard.

"Yeah," Hardison agreed with a sigh. He reached over and brushed his hand over Eliot's arm, a wordless check to see if Eliot wanted more physical comfort or to avoid it. "This is rough." He thought about suggesting they leave, but knew Eliot would immediately veto that suggestion. Still, they were only making things more difficult by being here. "I'm sorry, man."


Eliot

Eliot's arm twitched at the touch, and his whole body leaned ever so slightly towards it, which was the closest Eliot was going to come right now to asking for more. When he opened his eyes again, they were wet.

"I don't even know what I'm doing here," he said. "All I want's to take care of her, but -- she doesn't need me. My little sister hasn't needed me for years."


Hardison

That was enough. Hardison had been an expert in reading Eliot's body language for years. He opened his arms and pulled Eliot into a full-body embrace. "I know," he murmured. "It's hard to let go. Especially right now when all you wanna do is hang on tight to everyone you love."


Eliot

Eliot took a few moments to just cling back before wrestling himself back under control. "She's right, ain't she," he said. "This whole thing's too little, too late. Last thing this family needs right now is a coupla strangers getting underfoot."


Hardison

Hardison would have given a lot to be able to tell Eliot he was wrong.

"...Yeah," he said softly, not letting go. He rested his head on Eliot's shoulder. "I mean, how would you feel if somethin' happened to me an' my dad came in to try an' have a say in what happened next?"


Eliot

Eliot sucked in a breath, flinching from being compared to Hardison's completely absent father. But it was true. Two visits and a handful of phone calls wasn't enough to make up for 20 years of silence.

"I really fucked this all up, didn't I." He gave Hardison one more squeeze before pulling back. Trudy was going to be wanting that paperwork, even if she had used it just to get rid of them for a bit. "I shoulda come back here years ago or -- not at all." At the moment he was leaning hard towards that second one, though the idea of never getting to know his sister's kids at all hurt. "I'll ask, see if she wants me to stick around for any reason, but -- maybe you should find us a portal."


Hardison

"Not 'not at all'," Hardison said firmly. "Yeah, it was too late for you an' your dad, but he was--he was a hard man. Not a lot of bend in him, not a lot of time to learn to bend."

He decided he'd tell Eliot about his visit a little later. Not now, not when Eliot was still so raw. "But there's still time to mend stuff with Trudy, be a real uncle to the kids. They really like you, specially Cassie. Bet she'd get along great on the island."


Eliot

Eliot huffed a soft laugh. "She didn't mind tellin' me off," he said. "You're probably right." He found the folder and flipped it open with a sigh. "Thank you. For comin' with me. I know communities like this ain't easy for you, but I'd be going nuts right now if you hadn't." More nuts than he already was, rather.


Hardison

"Like I'd be anywhere else," Hardison said, one hand lazily stroking Eliot's back. Just a small, comforting gesture, a physical reminder that he was there, no matter what. "Bein' called 'boy' ain't never gonna be my favorite experience, but I been called worse without havin' you around to make up for it."


Eliot

Eliot frowned. "Who the hell was callin' you 'boy'?"


Hardison

Hardison's hand froze on Eliot's back. He'd spoken without thinking and now look what happened. There'd been a reason he'd planned on not bringing this up until later!

"Don't matter none," he said quickly. "I didn't say it to get you riled. Now let's get this folder back to Trudy so she can start workin' on those calls..."


Eliot

"Did Jake say something to you?" Eliot almost hoped that was the case. He could hit Jake. It wouldn't be a good idea, but it'd be physically possible.


Hardison

"Man, I don't think I exchanged more'n three words with Jake an' ain't none of them were boy," Hardison said, rolling his eyes. He reached for the folder, trying to snatch it so they could go back to Trudy. Eliot would drop the conversation in front of Trudy, right? "C'mon, she needs this paperwork."


Eliot

"Nuh uh." Eliot jerked the folder away. "I'm not havin' you refusing to set foot on Oklahoma again because of some racist idiot."


Hardison

"Hey man, don't sell Oklahoma short," Hardison protested. "I bet there are lots of racist idiots!"


Eliot

It almost worked. Eliot very nearly went for the same usual argument about the concentration of racist idiots in various parts of the United States.

Almost.

"Who?"


Hardison

Dammit, Eliot! Hardison had watched his brain start down that familiar path and had breathed an internal sigh of relief when it had. To do an about-face like that was just rude.

"C'mon, man," Hardison said, scrubbing at his face. "I don't really wanna do this right now. It ain't gonna fix nothin'."


Eliot

Eliot tilted his head and looked down at the folder in his hands, then back up at Hardison. "That son of a bitch. You talked to him?"


Hardison

Hardison hung his head and sighed. "I did," he said quietly. "I thought I could...I dunno. Break through to him. I knew you weren't gonna tell him about all the good you've done, but maybe if I did, he'd come 'round. Not even 'bout me, just who you are. You went to the bar an' I went back to talk to him. Even had a beer in my pocket I was gonna offer."

Which had originally been for Eliot himself, but...


Eliot

Eliot dropped his head forward and rubbed the back of his neck. "Thank you," he said. "For tryin'. Was never gonna work, but thanks."


Hardison

"You ain't mad?" Hardison asked, surprised. "I kinda felt like I was sneakin' behind your back, though I didn't mean it that way."


Eliot

"Mad at him," Eliot said. "If you'd asked, I coulda tried warnin' you off, but. . . ." But they both knew Hardison had his own stubborn streak. "He work out who you were? I kinda . . . threw that at him. Ain't real proud of that."


Hardison

"Ain't a whole lotta black guys comin' to visit him," Hardison said, jaw tensing. "I mean, once I explained that, no, I wasn't the janitor."


Eliot

"That goddamn son of a --" Well, at least this gave Eliot a new reason to wish his dad wasn't dead: so he could kill the man himself for being such a piece of shit. "It ain't like this state is even that goddamn white." He rubbed his hand over his face and sighed. "Alright. I guess . . . at least I don't have to wonder anymore. What he woulda thought of. . . . Anyway, we should get this stuff out to Trudy."


Hardison

"I'm sorry," Hardison said, because he was. About Eliot's loss, about his failure to make it better, even about Emerson's death because now there was no way to fix. "I just--I'm sorry, man. You deserve better an' shut up, cause I know you're about to argue with me about that an' I ain't havin' none of that right now."


Eliot

Eliot snapped his mouth shut, because yeah, he was going to argue.

But -- fuck. At least he'd had parents.

Instead of talking, he tucked the folder under his arm and tugged Hardison in for a quick, firm kiss.


Trudy

There was a knock on the door. "Guys?" Trudy said softly. "You okay in there? I'm sorry I yelled." Then, after a moment: "Please don't have sex on my desk?"


Hardison

Hardison broke the kiss to give a dry chuckle. "All our clothes are on, Trudy," he called through the door. "Even found your folder. I'm just givin' this guy pointers on not drivin' you nuts."


Trudy

"You do dream big, don't you, Hardison." Trudy cracked the door open, looking relieved when they were, in fact, fully clothed. "Listen, I don't want to kick y'all out, but some folks are gonna start arriving soon and they, uh. Might not be real thrilled to, um --"


Eliot

Eliot held up a hand. "It's okay, Tru. We were just saying we should get back to the island soon." He held out the folder for her. "Is there anything you want me to take care of before we head out? Or after? I can make phone calls from anywhere."


Hardison

"We should let Parker know what's goin' on here, too," Hardison agreed. "Even if we can't help, keep us in the loop? Just so we know when everythin' is planned and finalized."

They might not be there for the funeral proper. But they'd still want to know.


Trudy

"Oh thank god." Trudy wilted ever so slightly. "I love you, El, but I was not lookin' forward to explaining to Aunt April that you were back and dating a man."


Eliot

Eliot blanched faintly. "No, I wouldn't either." He reached out and rubbed her arm. "And hey. I meant it about the money, darlin'. I don't mind coverin' the funeral expenses."


Trudy

"Yeah -- but he would've." Trudy gave a small, helpless shrug. "You know we don't take charity in this family."


Eliot

"Ain't charity, Tru. It's family. Keep it in mind, at least? For emergencies?"


Trudy

"Fine. For emergencies."


Hardison

Hardison caught Eliot's eye and gave him a slight nod. He'd find a way for some money to come to them, all clear and legal and completely untraceable back to the crew.

"You do whatever you need to that'll be best for you an' your family," he told her, meaning it. "An' we'll figure out how we can fit in around the edges. Don't worry about it none, okay?"


Trudy

Trudy took a hard breath and wiped her fingers under her eyes. "Yeah. Thank you. Both of you." She took another breath, slower this time, heaving her shoulders up and down, and smiled sadly. "Now get out of my house."


Eliot

"We're goin'." Eliot held out his arm. "But I hear we hug in this family, so. . . ."


Trudy

Trudy wrapped her arms around him and pressed her face into his shoulder. "You're an idiot."


Eliot

"Yep." Eliot rubbed her back and kissed her hair. "I know."


[ooc: NFI, OOC welcome. Preplayed with the marvelous age_of_the_geek. Almost done!]

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