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What, was "Rudy" on cable last night?

. . . Yes.

Eliot Spencer vdistinctive
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Luke's, Monday
The kitchen staff was being weird again. This time they were huddled together, staring at him from around the head cook, who looked like he wanted to bolt at any second.

"What?" Eliot asked.

"We don't want you in the kitchen today," the cook said, managing to keep his voice from wobbling. "We can't concentrate when you're being terrifying."

Eliot set his jaw. His brows drew together into a remarkable angry V and his nostrils flared. The kitchen staff all took a collective step back.

"Get back," Eliot said very carefully. "To work."

They bolted for the kitchen door. Eliot rolled his eyes and leaned against the lunch counter.

Too terrifying to work in the kitchen. What a load of crap.

No, they totally had a point. The alien robot who'd replaced Eliot was clearly going rogue with its programming, and something had to be done. Luckily for the kitchen staff, this was not their job.

Parker clumped down the stairs first, Hardison behind her, giving Not Eliot plenty of warning so he wouldn't fire laser eyes at them, and stood next to the counter with crossed arms and a frown.

"You thought we wouldn't find out, didn't you?"

Eliot went rigid against the counter, even as he feigned nonchalance. No need to panic. There was no telling what Parker thought she knew. "Find out what?"

If he had to, he'd take them both down. He wasn't even certain he'd feel bad about doing it, anymore.

"That you've been lying to us." Hardison wasn't as convinced as Parker that Eliot was some kind of pod person, but the theory was enticing. Especially considering what he thought the problem was. "Don't even try to front, Eliot. We just talked to Quinn."

Mr. What-are-you-talking-about-I-haven't-spoken-to-Eliot-in-months-he-still-totally-owes-me-a-favor Quinn.

"What the hell, man?"

Usually when Hardison asked that, he sounded indignant. Today, he just sounded defeated.


Eliot probably should have given Quinn a heads up on his lie. Gotten him to back up his cover story. But that would have required owing two favors to the guy, and anyway, he really hadn't thought the whole thing through that thoroughly.

"Really?" he asked, going for the classic last minute grifting move of deny everything. "You're gonna take Quinn's word over mine?"

Of course they would. They couldn't be trusted. This was why he'd always worked alone.

"Yeah, Eliot, I think we are."

Hardison's shoulders slumped and he scrubbed his face with a hand, emotionally exhausted. "I don't know why he'd bother lying. Hell, I don't know why you're lying, but I haven't been able to explain a lot of why you've been doing the things you're doing recently. So it's not like finding out that you've been running a con on your crew is somehow shocking."

"And since you lied about that and we never even guessed, we have to wonder what other secrets you're keeping and lies you're telling. Or worse."

Like taking Eliot and not letting him come back. Parker was furious with herself that she hadn't realized how messed up this all was even sooner. Nate would've figured it out so much faster, she'd bet. But now that they knew, it was time to stop this.

"I don't have to stand here and listen to this." Except they had him cornered -- he kind of did. He grabbed onto the reassuring shape of the claw and stepped forward, into Hardison's space. "Move."

"No." Hardison had done dumber things in his life than try to stare down Eliot when he was obviously spoiling for a fight but he couldn't think of what any of them were. "I ain't movin'."

Hardison had exactly a tenth of a second of Eliot's eyebrow twitching to reconsider that choice. Then Eliot's fist was aimed right at Hardison's solar plexus.

Yup. That had been a terrible idea.

Hardison hit the floor, hand clapped over his mouth to keep from throwing up.

Parker had one second of wanting to run to Hardison and hug him, pat him down, comfort him; but that could wait -- for the two seconds it took her to pull the trigger on the taser she'd pulled from the back of her jeans and aimed at Eliot the second he went for Hardison.

BZZZZZZZZZZZZTTT!! Eat mega-volts, Robot Eliot!

Honestly, Eliot absolutely should have seen this coming. That taser was quite possibly Parker's first love. After Bunny. And money.

Instead he was caught entirely by surprise, and very quickly followed Hardison to the floor, convulsing.

Hardison was in there too! Somewhere! As was evidenced by Parker rushing to him and patting him down. "Are you mostly okay? Are you bleeding? Is anything broken?"

"My pride and dignity ain't doin' so hot. You got any--" Hardison coughed and was pathetically grateful that his insides stayed where they were. "--any liniment? It's good for a sprained dignity. Oil of cloves mixed with garlic?"

Look, he was suffering from some severe trauma. It wasn't any surprise he was retreating to old story favorites from his childhood, right?

He coughed again and let Parker help pick him up. "I'm okay, babe. Feelin' kinda bruised in my abdomen." Glancing down at Eliot, he shook his head. "We should...probably do something about him. He ain't gonna wake up happy."

"I don't know what any of that means." But Hardison was babbling in his GeekSpeak, so after one serious near-bone-crushing hug around the shoulders, Parker let him go. There would be ice and good drugs and more hugs and snuggling later. "But next time, you have to dodge."

"And yes we should deal with him." She gave the Fake Eliot a grim little smile, and fished out some plastic ties from one of her pockets.

One of the kitchen staff made a whimpering noise, and her eyes snapped up to see them crowded into the corner, watching them like a bunch of stunned bunnies. (Awwww.) "It's okay! We know what we're doing! And he's not really Eliot anyway!"

"Babe, he's not a robot," Hardison said, tiredly. They'd been having this discussion for a few days now. "But, yeah, folks, trust us. It's better this way. Why dontcha all...take the rest of the day? Go on, have some fun, take the cash outta the register, I don't even care. But y'all don't wanna be here when he wakes up, trust us."

Hell, Hardison didn't wanna be there when Eliot woke up.

"See! We're not hurting him!" Parker continued, zip-tying Eliot's hands behind his back. Then deciding to do his ankles, too. Then... "Hmmm. Um. You, big dishwasher person? We're gonna need your help with getting him upstairs."

Dishwasher Guy did not look thrilled, but he probably decided not to argue with the crazy taser-bearing woman, and came forward to help her get Eliot off the floor.

"The rest of you heard Hardison! Free day!"

Eliot groaned faintly as he was shifted, and twitched against the plastic ties.

"Let go for a second," Parker ordered the Dishwasher.

BZZZZTTTT! And there went another 30,000 volts to Eliot's neck.

Well, that showed him.

Eliot would not be twitching again now for rather awhile.

Hardison's Nana would be disappointed in the expression on his face as Hardison watched Eliot get tased again. But, dammit, his guts still hurt and sometimes he was a simple man of simple pleasures.

"That's it-- whoa, careful, don't hit his head on the doorway--" Parker helped carry Eliot and directed the Dishwasher, holding open the door to the loft, then worked with him to get Eliot onto a chair. "Okay! You probably don't want to see the rest of this. So, go join your friends."

Really, see, it's not a Murder Dungeon! Just a high-tech dungeon. With some weird bungee cords and stuff.

The Dishwasher was not even going to comment on that, just take the opportunity to escape as soon as he could.

Parker zip-tied Eliot to the chair, then frowned. "We're gonna need bigger restraints. Like. A lot of them. And maybe an iron chair, hunh."

Hardison stopped the Dishwasher Guy on the way out to pass him a wad of bills. A long-standing habit when it came to dealing with Eliot, honestly.

"So, our plan is to keep him unconscious and tied up until the mothership comes for him?" he asked. And then sighed. "...I can't come up with anything better."

What kind of restraints could they get overnighted? Too bad they needed them for Eliot. Because Eliot was the person they'd normally go to for this information!

"We're gonna need to get Megabyte, too. And her special, fancy food. Let's get him tied up proper and then figure out what we need until his batteries run out or whatever."

"If the Mothership comes..." Parker pressed the button on the taser to an ominous crackling. "There is going to be some negotiations for an exchange of hostages."

She picked up a length of bungee cord and tested it. "Yeah, okay, point. And maybe he'll behave better with the puppy here. You go get Megabyte, and I'll secure the prisoner." TWANG!

Let's see you eel out of these restraints, Robot Man.

Luke's was not open, today.

[ooc: preplayed with the tremendous whoisalicewhite and age_of_the_geek, who've been remarkably patient with me driving my character crazy and having him take it out on theirs.]