Eliot Spencer (vdistinctive) wrote,
Eliot Spencer

A quiet corner of the park, Wednesday afternoon

Eliot had Val out for their daily run, cutting through the park, when Val suddenly broke into a fit of barking and bolted towards some trees.

"Val!" Eliot caught a flash of green scales in the underbrush and sighed. "Stop fussin' at that thing and get back here!"

Too late. Val was having a glorious time doing battle with a small mob of gremlins. Like owner, like puppy. Eliot rested his hands on his hips and settled in to catch his breath and wait for her to be done.


It was the barking that had grabbed Sparkle's attention, meanwhile. He'd been out walking, mostly just because if he didn't get out of the apartment he was going to scream, so an epic dog-against-gremlin battle was basically a godsend.

"... Are dogs immune to gremlin venom?"

What? It seemed like as good a way to start a conversation as any.


"Damned if I know," Eliot said. "Ain't the first time she's tangled with one of the suckers, though, and I don't think she's been bit yet." He looked over at Sparkle, clearly unconcerned with his dog's fate, and smiled. "How's it going?"


Sparkle gave Eliot a crooked little smile and a shrug of his shoulders in reply.

"I mean, I probably can't complain. I haven't managed to light the brains of my students on fire yet, so that's a win, right?"

Generally. Probably. He wasn't sure. Sparkle was not sure of a lot of things since things had gone to hell on him a couple of years ago. He was getting better at faking otherwise.

"How 'bout you?"


"None of my students' brains have caught fire either," Eliot said. "Not that I can tell, anyway. One of them is a sentient alien gem stone, so who knows?"


"That... must be interesting," Sparkle replied, squinting a bit as he processed that one. Okay, no, sometimes Fandom was still weirder than he expected even after living here for so long. Okay then. "You're on home ec this semester, right?"

He huffed out a wry little laugh.

"It's probably too late in the semester to trade, huh?"


Eliot chuckled. "Only a couple weeks left of it, so yeah, probably. Mighta taken you up on it earlier in the semester, though. I actually came close to failin' Home Ec in high school."


"Yeah, but this is Fandom," Sparkle pointed out. "I mean, I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for this place, I would've failed, like, high school."

In its entirety, sure.

His parole officer would've loved that.


"You're teachin' a class on homeless kids," Eliot observed. "Would you have gone to high school, it weren't for Fandom?"

There was no judgement in his tone, just curiosity.


"Yeah," Sparkle sighed. "It was one of the conditions of my parole, living in the group home. Finish my education. Stay out of trouble. I managed one of those things, at least."

Which, honestly, was more than he'd figured he'd manage. So.


Eliot nodded. "Shit, man. And you must've been, what, fifteen maybe? You mind if I ask how you ended up with a parole deal at fifteen?"


"It's easy when you're stupid and desperate," Sparkle replied, shrugging his shoulders a little. He didn't tend to talk about this with... basically anybody. But Eliot and his crew at least had some idea of what he'd left behind in Toronto. And hell, maybe not talking about it was part of his problem, these days. "Live on the streets, develop a bad habit or two. Break into the wrong house, steal the wrong shit in order to feed that habit... Kind of just snowballs, you know?"


Eliot nodded. "Yeah. I seen it a time or two myself, though mostly overseas. You grew up in the system, right? Like Hardison and Parker."


"In and out of it," Sparkle replied, shrugging a bit. "Since I was, like, six. More out than in, for a lot of it, at least if I had any say in the matter."


"That's about how Parker approached it too, I think," Eliot said. "I tell ya, it was always kinda weird bein' the meanest guy in a criminal crew but havin' the most normal childhood outta the five of us."


"Okay, but, like, what's normal?" Sparkle raised an eyebrow at Eliot. "Because where I'm standing, the whole nuclear family thing is anything but, you know? I mean, I had family, but it isn't like I've seen any of them since I was a kid. Don't even really miss most of 'em. There's my normal. There's the normal for most of the people I knew growing up."


"Fair 'nough," Eliot said, shrugging. "'Culturally accepted', maybe. My life growin' up coulda been a Rockwell painting. Two parents, a little sister, hell, I even had a dog." He shook his head. "Not really the kinda life you expect to lead to a professional killer, 'swhat I'm sayin'."


Sparkle thought of all the 'professional killer' types that he knew these days, and what little he knew about most of their childhoods.

"... Nah, still kind of checks out," he decided. "I mean, the whole 'formative years' thing is a factor, sure, but it isn't like where you end up after you leave home doesn't count just because it all looked like sunshine at the start."

Anyway, he didn't much care for the other implication of that, whether Eliot meant it or not. The one that said that it was meant to be the people with Sparkle's upbringing who ended up being contract killers and shit.


Eliot nodded. "Hell, the homes that look the 'happiest' on the outside can be pretty shitty on the inside, too." A fact he'd seen play out dozens of times.

Val finished up her battle with the gremlins and came trotting back over, tongue out and tail wagging. Eliot crouched down to give her a firm rub between the ears, then looked back up at Sparkle. "I notice you said you didn't miss most of your old family," he said. "Which parts do you miss?"


Sparkle chewed the inside of his cheek for a moment, and then crouched down a little, too, holding out his hand for Val to sniff at if she wanted to.

This was definitely 'needs a dog right now' talk, here.

"My siblings," he replied, and then hesitated and whittled that down even more. "My older sister. She was the closest thing to 'normal family' as it got, I think. It almost killed her, but she was always just... there. At least when she could be. They try to keep siblings together in the system when they can, but sometimes that isn't really in the cards."


Val was more than happy to provide dog time. She sniffed Sparkle's hand then went in for some licking, her tail wagging away.

Please ignore the bits of gremlin scale in her claws.

"Gather it's usually stretched too thin for that, yeah," Eliot said. "You know what ended up happenin' to her?"


Val was an adorable terror. Sparkle could appreciate that.

"No clue," he admitted, shaking his head as he reached his hands forward to playfully moosh at those adorably doggy cheeks. "Don't really know what happened to any of them. Places I kept ending up didn't, like, lend themselves well to keeping pen pals or anything, you know? I figure... I dunno. It's Carla. She's got to be doing okay for herself. She had her shit more together than any of the rest of us."

She had been the oldest. She'd sort of needed to.


Eliot nodded.

"You know, Hardison can find just about anybody with a first and last name. Even if she's changed it."


Sparkle paused in his super important dogface-mooshing to look up at Eliot, chewing on his lip.

Oh. Well.

"I mean... is that you volunteering him to try?"

Or just a completely unrelated statement of fact, kind of like randomly observing that the sun was round and gremlins were green? Because that would probably be easier.


Eliot gave Sparkle a steady look. "It is if you want it to be."


"I..." Sparkle paused for a moment. His mouth had gone dry and words were difficult to scrape together. Which was pretty impressive, all things considered. Eliot was offering him some family back. And that was terrifying.

And amazing.

"I... think maybe I could want it to be," he said, carefully. Not wanting to sound too eager at the prospect. There were a million reasons why this was probably a terrible idea.

But maybe he could have his sister back.


"Tell ya what," Eliot said. "Pass along the info, and I'll see if Hardison can get anything out of it. Just 'cause we find her doesn't need you have to talk to her if you decide you don't want to. But . . . I didn't talk to my little sister for a couple of decades, and I gotta tell you, it's a lot nicer to get to call her from time to time when the mood strikes. Just knowin' the option's there, you know?"


"That... does kind of sound great," Sparkle admitted, then gave Val a quick scratch behind the ears before turning his attention to shrugging off his backpack and digging through it for a pencil and a scrap of paper. It was a receipt for a single donut. He'd gotten a kick out of it for all of twenty minutes, but writing Carla's name, complete with that last name, on the back of it to Eliot seemed way more important than old Mitch Hedburg jokes. "It's... this. Here."

He was kind of shoving it at Eliot before he could change his mind.


Eliot folded it up and tucked it into his shirt pocket. "Great. We'll give you a call when Hardison's got somethin'." He offered Sparkle a small smile. "Hey. You get up and talk to a bunch of kids every week about one of the toughest ways to live there is. You can take talkin' to your sister, too."


"I mean, she was always pretty easy to talk to when I was six," Sparkle replied, trying a little return smile on for size. "I just never really figured it was going to happen again."

He zipped his bag up again, slung it back over his shoulder, and then proceeded to try not to look too nervous.

"So... thanks."


"No problem, kid." Eliot reached over to pat him on the shoulder. "It's what we do."

[ooc: NFI. Preplayed with the incomparable myownface.]
Tags: ic, puppy!, team = family
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