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What, was "Rudy" on cable last night?

. . . Yes.


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Eliot Spencer vdistinctive
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Outside Oklahoma City, Saturday afternoon
Eliot wasn't sulking. He was laying low. He didn't feel right leaving Trudy to clean up after their father's mess, but until Emerson Spencer had the grace to actually die and stop cluttering up the damn world, there wasn't a whole lot he knew of that he could do, other than stay out of the way.

So he was laying low.


Cassie

Cassie plopped down next to him on the back porch, offering Eliot a soda. "You're really bad at hiding."


Eliot

Eliot took the soda. "Ain't you supposed to be, I dunno, doin' homework or something?"


Cassie

"Wrong twin." Cassie shrugged. "The overachieving sporty one is babysitting Grandpa. Again. I'm the misanthropic slacker who's going to convince her school to let her major in medieval weaponry design."


Eliot

"So that'd make you. . . ." Shit. If she'd just name dropped her school instead of her hobbies, he'd have this one. "Um."


Cassie

"And you're even worse at niece identification. Noted." Cassie tilted her head, tempted to let him sweat it out. "Cassie. Don't feel too bad, no one else who's only met us twice can tell us apart, either."


Eliot

Eliot winced. "Right. I'm just battin' a thousand when it comes to family this weekend."


Cassie

"I dunno, you're the best long-lost uncle I've ever had," Cassie said. "Can I ask you some stuff? Impertinent niece stuff? You don't have to say yes."


Eliot

"I'm not telling you about spending a night in jail," Eliot said. "But -- otherwise, sure."


Cassie

"Did Grandpa kick you out because you're gay?"


Eliot

Aw, kid. Eliot took a sip of his soda and shook his head. "No. It had nothing to do with that. And I'm not. . . ."


Cassie

"Right, sorry, I shouldn't assume. You're bi? Or pan? I mean, clearly there's some homoromanticism, which -- I cannot blame you. If I were into guys. . . ." She shook her head and whistled.


Eliot

"Darlin', I'm over forty and avoid the internet like the plague. Let's go with I'm involved with a man and a woman and you can work out the labels for that for me all you want." He titled his head. "Not into guys, huh?"


Cassie

"Bi and poly," Cassie said. "Aaaand nope. Grandpa doesn't know. Which you maybe guessed."


Eliot

"You thinkin' of telling him now?" Eliot asked. "He didn't react real well when I told him about Hardison, but hey, you haven't spent your whole life disappointing him, so maybe it'll go okay for you."


Cassie

"Wow." Cassie leaned back, giving Eliot a look he knew well from the last few years of teaching. Teenage disapproval had an amazing ability to transcend time periods, galaxies, and even species. "I mean, I was kind of trying for commiseration, but you're a little busy having a giant pity party, aren't you."


Eliot

Eliot scowled, taking a few seconds too long before responding "It ain't a pity party."


Cassie

"Okay," Cassie said, holding up her hands. "It is, though. I mean, I get it, if Mom and Dad kicked me out when I turned 18 I'd probably still hate them when I'm old and creaky too." She nodded slowly. "Yeah. Yeah, you know, a twenty year snit actually sounds about right."


Eliot

"It wasn't a snit!"


Cassie

"Then what was it?" Cassie tucked her hands between her knees. "It wasn't the gay thing and it wasn't a snit so. . . . Ellie and I always thought she was named after our dead uncle."


Eliot

Eliot sighed. "Y'all mighta been better off if it'd stayed that way," he said. Spending a night in jail wasn't the best example he could be setting for Trudy's kids. "You ever get to spend much time in Dad's store? Little hardware shop down on 14th?"


Cassie

Cassie shrugged. "Some? When we were little. They closed it up around when Johnny was born, though."


Eliot

Eliot refused to feel guilty about his dad's store going under.

Sometimes, that even worked.

"He loved that place," he said. "Sometimes I think more'n he loved me or your mom. All he wanted outta life was to pass it along. It was supposed to be his legacy."


Cassie

"But it didn't go under until after you . . ." Cassie trailed off, then looked out across the backyard and sipped her soda. "Oh."


Eliot

"Yeah." Eliot followed her gaze, matched her sip for sip, and tried not to wish he was drinking something stronger than soda. "I was 18. All full up on bein' the local football star, Homecoming king. . . . I'd'a told you I wanted to 'see the world', but mostly, I just didn't want to stay here. I definitely didn't want my life all planned out for me."


Cassie

"Couldn't you have just . . . gone to school?"


Eliot

Eliot shook his head. "No money for it. And even as the quarterback, I ain't never had the focus to be the kinda great you need to be to get a scholarship. Not 'til boot camp beat some sense into me. Then -- well. It turns out there's plenty I can be really great at. But the old man wouldn't've liked any of those things, either."


Cassie

Cassie nodded slowly. "Okay," she said. "I get why you left. I'd go crazy if I still had to live here all the time, too. But -- why'd it take you so long to come back?"


Eliot

Eliot looked down at his soda. "Honestly?" he said, a small laugh in his voice. "He scares the hell out of me." He shook his head. "I was a career soldier. I volunteered to go into other people's war zones. Hell, I been shot more times than I can count. The entire country of Myanmar is afraid of me, and the one thing I'm afraid of is your grandpa."


Cassie

"That's dumb," Cassie said. "You know, he's the one who said Ellie should be named Ellie. Mom and Dad couldn't agree on names, so they let him be the tie breaker. She was either going to be Olivia or Eleanor, and Grandpa said Eleanor. So she could be El. Like you."


Eliot

Eliot looked over at her, trying to read the truth in her face. She was only 19 -- either she had the potential to rival Sophie as a grifter someday, or she was telling the truth. "I never knew that. Your mom never said."


Cassie

"You never really gave her a chance. Grandpa neither."


Eliot

"No," Eliot agreed. "I guess I didn't." He finished his soda and crumpled the can against his knee. "You know, you're pretty damn chatty for a misanthrope."


Cassie

"I'm a work in progress," Cassie said. "Myanmar?"


Eliot

Eliot smiled. "It's a long story. I'd tell ya about it, but your momma'd probably kill me."


Cassie

"I guess that's fair," Cassie allowed. ". . . Don't suppose in that long story you found out what kind of historical weaponry they used?" She gave him her best bright-eyed, hopeful look. "It's for school."


[NFI, OOC welcome. Preplayed with . . . myself.]