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vdistinctive


What, was "Rudy" on cable last night?

. . . Yes.


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Eliot Spencer vdistinctive
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75 Godiva, Sunday afternoon
The house was dark when they got back, and eerily silent. Val was still off being dog-sat by Kanan, and the place hadn't been empty this long since before Hardison and Parker moved in.

Which was fine, and normally not even something Eliot would notice. But all his nerves felt scraped raw just now, and the house didn't feel right dark and quiet anymore.

Funny. There was a time when dark and quiet was all he'd ever wanted out of the world.

"Parker and Sparkle are supposed to be gettin' in soon too, right?" Eliot asked Hardison. "Maybe I should make something for everyone for lunch."



Hardison

"They should, yeah," Hardison said, checking their portal schedule again. "Just a few more minutes." He took in Eliot's emotional state in a glance and nodded. "Yeah, lunch would be good. You thinkin' somethin' easy like sandwiches?"


Eliot

"Sandwiches." Eliot nodded. "Sure. Could slice some beef up fresh for steak and cheese. . . . See if we got any tomatoes, or onions. . . ." Anything he could slice or chop. He really wanted to handle a knife right now.


Hardison

"You want me to check the pantry?" Hardison asked. "Or just kinda hang out in the kitchen...?" Where he could be close by where Eliot could see him and know he was right there.


Eliot

"If you don't mind," Eliot said, casual as can be -- to someone who hadn't been working with him for as long as Hardison had. He would much rather have Hardison close by just now, yes. "It's a bit early for garden-fresh, but I think there should still be some hothouse roma tomatoes I can make do with, if they're not too bruised." He could also call the diner and make them bring him some from their dry storage, but he wasn't much looking to have to interact with those yahoos again, just yet.


Hardison

"Sure, I got some things I gotta check on anyway," Hardison said, making up several tasks right there on the spot. "I'll just chill here in the kitchen an' try to steal some ingredients to snack on while you ain't lookin'."

Which was something he tried and failed to do on a regular basis anyway.


Eliot

"Great. Then you can find out Trudy ain't the only one willin' to smack a body upside the head when it's called for." Eliot rolled his eyes.

And didn't smack Hardison once.


Parker

The back door opened, and someone called, "We're back!... be nice to Sparkle."

Yeah, that didn't sound like Sparkle himself, so, no guesses.


Sparkle

The next voice, on the other hand, did sound like Sparkle. Sparkle if a bit mumbly, anyway.

"Nobody needs to be nice to Sparkle. Sparkle's fine. Sparkle's a dumbass, but he's fine."

Spoiler: He wasn't really fine.


Hardison

Hardison had his own ideas about just how 'fine' Sparkle sounded. Just about as 'fine' as Eliot, unless he missed his guess.

"In here!" he called. "Eliot's makin' lunch an' castin' aspersions on my ability to steal things!"


Eliot

"Are they aspersions if they're true?" Eliot asked, then made extremely rapid -- and rather loud -- work of chopping an onion.

Or maybe dicing it.

Possibly mincing it.


Sparkle

Well.

That was some very loud chopping. And a lot of it.

"Maybe this is a bad time," he said, glancing at Parker. "I think maybe this is a bad time?"

Eliot had been going home because of a dying family member, and all.


Parker

Parker gave him an unimpressed look. And started tugging on his sleeve again. "You need to be fed. Eliot needs to feed people. This is perfect," she insisted, dragging him toward the kitchen door and shoving it open with one hand. "Did you guys get the photo I sent you?"


Hardison

"Yeah, I was wonderin' about that?" Hardison said, coming over to drape an arm over Parker and give her a welcome home kiss. "You get my text?" he asked softly in her ear. "'Bout Eliot's dad?"


Parker

"Yeah," she whispered, responding to the kiss with good bit of relief and warmth. She was so so glad right now, that she had her two guys (and Nate and Sophie by extension) but no other family to be on bad terms with. "How is he?"


Eliot

Eliot just managed to stop chopping before the thing was liquified, and spun the knife so he could scrape the resulting onion mass onto the skillet. "Steak and cheese sound good to you two?" he asked. "Hope so. I, uh. Seem to be making several."

That was at least two large yellow onions in that mass, there. If that answered Parker's question.


Sparkle

"I could probably help eat several," Sparkle admitted, after a moment's pause. Steak wasn't generally his thing these days, but, shit, maybe today he did want to just rend something red and bloody with his teeth. It'd make up for how awkward he felt standing there in the kitchen, anyway. "Big fan of cheese."

This much was true.


Hardison

Hardison just nodded to the slivers of onion that remained, figuring that said enough. "So, how'd your trip go?" he asked Sparkle. He was a little dubious considering the photo they'd gotten, but Parker could be a little explosion happy sometimes. The two might not be related.


Sparkle

Sparkle was not going to fidget, or bolt, or do anything... Really. Anything. He was going to just stand there and sigh and hike his shoulders up a bit.

"We had pizza with the group home kids," he offered. "On, like, Friday. That was okay."

Yeah, he knew that wasn't what Hardison had meant.


Parker

Parker knew better than to get in Eliot's way while he had knives at hand. Also, those onions would make a perfect reason for any tears that might be in the offing. So she was stuck with watching Eliot's hands, trying to see if they shook. (So far as she could tell, they didn't.)

"It was fun. They've got murals on the walls there now, and a lot of kids." Parker was actually kind of proud of how well that place was going without any of them overseeing it. "Saturday though was kinda-- disappointing." She sighed. "Carla's a citizen." She gave the word Sophie's inflection, if not her accent; that kind of disbelieving, resigned quality that said I don't get it, but I guess it makes them happy?


Eliot

Eliot looked up from the skillet, glancing from her to Sparkle, then set about grilling up the steak. "Shit, kid. Was kinda hopin' one of us at least would get a happy ending outta this. I'm sorry."


Sparkle

Sparkle shrugged a little, eyes mostly on the floor.

"It happens," he said, a little too dismissively. "I mean, it's been like a decade and a half. She's got kids, and I've got a warrant for my arrest. She doesn't even really know me."

It was pretty easy to sound casual about it after a full day of just repeating it to himself on loop. That on top of how well he lied in general? Sure. He almost sounded like he believed it.


Hardison

Too bad he was up against a group of professional con artists. Sparkle was good, but he was no Sophie Deveraux.

""Aww, hell, I'm sorry to hear that," Hardison said with a shake of his head. "Guess we all had a rough time of it. Any chance she might come 'round after she has a chance to think about stuff? Stop reactin' an' start thinkin'?""


Parker

"She took our card. And she didn't call the cops?" Parker offered, torn between being clear about how it went and about not making Sparkle feel worse. "She called him Sparky." She gave Sparkle a half-sad, half-amused look. "So, yeah. Maybe just... with phone calls or email, at first. Instead of showing up without warning." She winced, because that still felt like her fault.


Eliot

". . . Yeah, that part we probably coulda helped you plan better," Eliot said, with a small wince of his own. "Could be worse though, right?" he tried. "At least now you don't have to wonder about her. What mighta been." These were things he'd been repeating to himself since Friday night. Not that they'd helped him out much. ". . . Fuck. It too early for beers?"


Sparkle

"Never too early for beers when everything sucks," Sparkle offered. Because, seriously, he had been wanting to get really stupidly absofuckinglutely drunk off his chair since yesterday, himself. "We deserve beer."


Eliot

"And here I probably won't even get arrested for disturbing the peace," Eliot said. "Crap, we got rolls?"

The fact that he didn't confirm this before he'd started grilling was a sign of just how messed up this weekend had been. You know, in case the comment about getting arrested wasn't enough of one.


Hardison

"They're a little stale," Hardison said, ducking back out of their giant fridge with a bag of rolls in one hand and two beers in the other. One, he passed to Sparkle, the other to Eliot. "But we toast 'em, they'll be okay, right? That's what my Nana used to do to make the bread last longer."


Parker

"How did you even get arrested?" Parker asked in bewilderment. It was Eliot. Was he trying to get into jail? And if so, why? She paused and added, "We didn't get arrested either. Just so you know."


Eliot

"Got drunk and started a bar fight in a town where everyone knows who I am," Eliot said. "Hardison already yelled at me. Toasting 'em should work."


Sparkle

"Mmm, toast," Sparkle agreed, giving a little nod as he accepted the beer from Hardison and took a swig. Yes. Yes that was good. "Bar fight kind of actually sounds like good catharsis, though. You were winning until you got arrested, right?"

Priorities.


Hardison

"If I remember correctly, I ain't so much as yelled at you as started to, before you got cranky an' threatened to walk home," Hardison said, grabbing an orange soda for himself and a chocolate milk for Parker. "Pretty sure it was Cassie that yelled at you."


Parker

"Who's Cassie?" Parker asked with interest, opening the milk bottle and slurping down a mouthful of chocolate. She was still watching Eliot probably a little too closely. "And I want to visit there, sometime. And meet Trudi."


Eliot

"I always win, kid. Just -- not the part where the cops chased us down after." Which admittedly was the more important part to win, generally. "Cassie's my niece. One of 'em. And she didn't yell, she just told me off for -- it ain't important."


Hardison

"Eliot can stand up against anythin' but a teenage girl with a propensity to lecture," Hardison teased.


Sparkle

"I mean, I have known a lot of teenage girls," Sparkle noted, pointing at Hardison with his bottle. "They can be terrifying."


Parker

"He's not scared of them. He just can't stand disappointing them." Or younger guys like Corey, either, but young men didn't try so hard to get Eliot to do stuff for them. Parker took another long slurp of her milk, contemplated getting out her twisty straw, then said, "Cassie should meet Kathy so we can watch them gang up on him."


Eliot

"She made some good points," Eliot muttered. He loaded up one of the toasted rolls with mayo, steak, cheese, carmelized onions, and chopped tomato, dropped it on a plate, and offered it to Sparkle. "Anyway, she's studying goddamn medieval weaponry. I'd like to see any of you all say 'no' to her."


Hardison

"Not that she had any weapons on her," Hardison muttered, sotto voce to Sparkle and Parker, "but we'll let him pretend like that's what happened."


Sparkle

"Big difference between studying weapons and wielding them," Sparkle agreed, giving a solemn nod as he accepted the offered plate. "I mean, I'm saying this as a guy who's like always armed these days."

Which he felt okay sharing with this crew, at least.

"Because... Fandom."

And because like everyone he'd ever gotten really close to on Fandom.


Parker

"He did okay with the C-4, too," Parker told them, then poked Sparkle's shoulder. "Eat the sandwich. It'll be very very good." She smiled at Eliot. "And Sparkle's an uncle too. We didn't get to meet his niblings though."


Eliot

Eliot dished up two more sandwiches and passed them to Parker and Hardison. "Niblings are nice," he said, looking at Sparkle. "Maybe sometime you'll even get to meet 'em. In the meantime. . . . Blood's overrated. You got students, you got friends? You got family right here on this island."


Hardison

Hardison took the sandwich from Eliot, then grabbed his hand and squeezed for a moment. "If sometimes bad guys are the only good guys folks get, maybe sometimes found family is the only real family folks need."


Sparkle

"I guess you're right," Sparkle agreed, though he wasn't really looking up from his sandwich, now. He wasn't exactly eating it yet, either.

It was just that, around here, even found family almost never stayed. Just once, he wanted family who would.

"Blood's overrated. But Carla used to be more than just blood."

She was the kind of family that had earned the name. Apparently, he hadn't been.


Parker

"She might come back. Or ask you to come back." Parker took her sandwich, and started nibbling at the edges. Swallowing, she said, "The last time she saw you, you were six. You both know the other one's okay now, and safe. In another few years... who knows?" She took a huuuuge bite of her sandwich and said, "I will eat yours if you don't want to eat it. I really will."

This is Parker's version of nagging. Get used to it, Sparkle. She's not going anywhere.


Eliot

Eliot gave her a fond look and took a long sip from his beer. "I know there ain't nothing's gonna take the sting outta Carla." He knew that really well. "But it looks like Parker's pretty much adopted you. So you got that, anyway."

And hey, at least no one on Sparkle's end had died.


Hardison

Or been not-entirely-unexpectedly racist?

"Give her some time," Hardison advised gently. Between bites of a sandwich because no matter how terrible everything went, there was still room for one of Eliot's sandwiches. "You know how much you had to work yourself up to see her. She ain't even had that much. Sometimes the past is like a wound that scabbed over an' ain't healed up. You pulled off the scab. She's probably bleedin' a little. Hopefully soon, she'll realize just how much that helped."


Sparkle

Yeah, on the grand scale of things, Sparkle was doing pretty well, here. Everyone was alive and mostly not racist. He sighed, and then finally started eating, if only because not doing so would be kinda rude. His appetite was doing weird things, right about then.

"Bleeding... helps?"

He sounded a bit dubious.

But at least he was sounding dubious between bites of sandwich.


Eliot

"Depends on the wound. This ain't an ancient medicine thing. If it's infected, sometimes you wanna open things up and clean 'em out, get the nasty stuff out before it spreads." Eliot shrugged and started cleaning up the kitchen. Without making a sandwich of his own. "Gather there's a similar theory in psychology, but I ain't a professional or anything."


Parker

"We could ask Sophie." Parker is watching you, Eliot. "Especially if you don't eat something."

Threats! Threats because she loooves you, Eliot.


Eliot

"I was talkin' about Carla," Eliot pointed out. "And I ain't hungry."


Sparkle

Sparkle, meanwhile, wasn't so much taking bites of his sandwich now as he was picking pieces off of it to kind of nibble at, instead. Apparently he'd overestimated his appetite on the way in.

"Should probably try to get something into you anyway," he ventured. "It can be hard to eat after tough shit goes down, but that doesn't mean it's not important, right?"

Which was why he wasn't just apologizing and setting down the sandwich. Though he was pretty sure Parker wouldn't let him if he tried.


Hardison

Hardison eyed Eliot sharply. "If you think we're gonna let you get away with that when you wouldn't do the same with any of us, you crazy man." He shook his head. "Don't make me get the TAs to come nag you into eatin'."


Eliot

"I ain't Not Eating," Eliot said. "I'm just --" Not eating. "I'm cleanin' right now. One of you all wanna scrub this place down instead?"


Parker

"I can do it!" Parker offered, then grabbed a bite off Sparkle's plate and put it in her mouth. "I'll get the paper towels."


Sparkle

So fucking help him, Sparkle actually perked up at that.

"Can I help? Because I will."

Sparkle's escapism was cleaning.

It probably made Atton worry every time he headed into the bathroom with bleach.


Eliot

"Do not clean my kitchen with paper towels!" Eliot stopped mid-rant and blinked at Sparkle. "Uh. Okay."

Far be it for him to get in the way of Sparkle's coping mechanism.


Hardison

"Oh look," Hardison said helpfully. "Folks are cleanin'. Looks like you got plenty of to eat an' no excuses not to!"


Parker

Parker blinked solemnly next to him, and ate her sandwich. And enjoyed it. Clearly.

She had an idea why Sparkle was so eager to clean, so she wasn't going to interfere in that. "Point us to the cleaning supplies, then."


Sparkle

"What she said. Don't make us rummage." Sparkle called over his shoulder. He was already rummaging. This was going to be a very thorough cleaning job. There was going to be scrubbing.

A lot of very therapeutic scrubbing.

"And have a sandwich."


Eliot

"Cabinet under the sink," Eliot sighed. "Y'all know I've seen more death than the three of you combined, right?" he asked.

While putting together a fourth sandwich.


Sparkle

"Didn't know it was a contest," Sparkle countered, only half visible as he got down on his hands and knees and started pulling out... basically everything under the sink that could reasonably be used to clean a kitchen. He was making a commitment, here. "Wanna tell me how that applies to family tragedy? I'm a bit hazy on that stuff."


Hardison

Hardison cocked a thumb Sparkle's way. "I knew I liked him for a reason," he said to no one in particular. "I mean, we could all sit around an' talk about our feelin's...?"

Any takers? Anyone?


Parker

Parker reared back with a dismayed look on her face. "What? Why? No. We know what we have to do. Be nice to everybody because this weekend sucked in a normal, non-Fandom way. Talking, why?" Why, Hardison, why?


Eliot

Eliot pointed at Parker and raised an eyebrow, his mouth full of sandwich.


Hardison

"That's what I thought," Hardison said.


Sparkle

"I do not do feelings," Sparkle intoned, already getting to work on the dishes, because having those out of the way first would probably make the deep clean this kitchen was about to get into a much easier task. "I do not have feelings. I am a robot, devoid of emotion."

And this little robot was filling the sink. Lookit him go.


Parker

"Does not compute," Parker intoned in a robotic voice. Don't get her started, Sparkle. "This unit will dry the dishes." After she finishes her sandwich in a second, because you can rush numminess.


Eliot

"Oh sure, he gets to be a robot," Eliot grumbled. He had not forgotten his conversations with Parker during the Week of Being Tied To a Chair, no. "You don't finish your sandwich, kid, Parker's gonna eat it all for ya."


Hardison

"An' if you don't finish your sandwich, I'mma keep naggin' you 'bout it," Hardison told Eliot.


Sparkle

"Faster you finish your sandwich, the faster you can get back to cleaning," Sparkle added, shooting a slightly manic grin over his shoulder as he scrubbed the hell out of the cutting board. "So as to not deny a sad kid his sandwich."

See, at least Sparkle had every intention of returning to his food. Once he was done compulsively cleaning everything in sight and his hands smelled disturbingly like cleaning solvents.


Eliot

Eliot shook his head. "You volunteered to clean, kid. You ain't usin' that to blackmail me into eating my damn sandwich." Which he was doing. Calmly and with dignity, thank you very much. "I'm just warnin' you your new big sis type is a food thief. . . . Y'know, as well as bein' the regular kind."


Sparkle

Sparkle paused for a moment to consider that.

"... Okay, but who isn't?"

Food thieves were kind of the usual, in Sparkle's life. Hell, half the reason he carried his backpack around was because random food happened so often on the island that he wasn't going to risk not being able to stockpile it.

If he was too worried about his sandwich, he would've finished eating it before leaping over to the cleaning supplies anyway.


Hardison

"Which kind of thief are you askin' about?" Hardison needed to check. "An' you mean in this house or in general?"

This is what happens when you consorted with criminals, Sparkle. Well, consorted with fairly open criminals.


Sparkle

Sparkle paused to consider all of that. And then he just kind of shrugged and settled on, "Yes."

All of the above, Hardison. Look at the world. Look at it.


Parker

Parker picked up one of the scrubbed-so-clean-it-was-a-mirror dishes, and started to wipe it off. "There's citizens out there." And you probably remember her using that word for Carla, right? "People who really just... don't. Like Maggie, Nate's ex." She paused and said proudly, "But we kinda corrupted her and now she helps out when it's really appropriate for a con. Also, don't steal Eliot's sandwiches that he makes for himself. That way lies badness."

You remember that, right, Hardison?


Eliot

"You don't steal from crew," Eliot grumbled, giving Hardison a side-eye. "It's just rude."

See? And his dad thought he didn't have any morals.


Hardison

"As is bein' accused of stealin' sandwiches when there ain't no proof you did," Hardison said piously.

Taking a big bite of his sandwich.


[ooc: NFI, OOC welcome. Preplayed with the inimitable age_of_the_geek, whoisalicewhite, and myownface. Our baby little family plot is done.]

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