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What, was "Rudy" on cable last night?

. . . Yes.

daddy issues-face
Eliot Spencer vdistinctive
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Outside Oklahoma City, Sunday morning
So it was Mother's Day. The day didn't usually sneak up on Eliot the way it had this year, but he'd been, well, distracted. What with Fandom and his crew and all the wonderful and terrifying things that came with Fandom and his crew. So when he woke up Sunday morning and realized it was Mother's Day and he hadn't set up his usual flower delivery, he immediately scheduled a portal and picked up a bouquet of lilies on the way out. He remembered at the last moment to leave Hardison a quick message ("Going out of town for the day, will be out of contact. I'm not crazy and I'm not running away. Also, call your Nana."), then very shortly found himself walking through a cemetery outside Oklahoma City that he hadn't physically visited in more than a decade.

The place looked nice. Well cared for. It was still early, not so much that he'd had to jump the gates to get in, but enough that there wasn't anyone else to be seen among the stones, and it didn't take him long to find the one he was looking for. He'd had the map of the place memorized for years; it made it easier to give directions to the messenger company he usually had deliver the flowers for him. And pick up the photos that were usually left there waiting.

There weren't any this time, and Eliot bit his lip and looked around the cemetery again, wondering if he should have waited until later -- nearly closing instead of nearly opening -- to come out. He hadn't even thought about it, just grabbed the first portal available.

Or maybe he hadn't thought about it the way he hadn't scheduled a messenger like he usually did. The way he 'hadn't thought' about getting a converted commercial space for his house, so the vents were large enough for Parker to fit through.

"Son of a bitch."

Eliot felt a smile pulling at his mouth. "That any way to greet your brother, Gertie?"

Trudy punched him hard in the arm. "No one's called me that since I was six, jackass. Though I suppose it's been about that long since I seen you."

Eliot's smile faded. "You know why I haven't -- why I don't --"

"I know you prefer to ghost in and out. Like when you left Dad that beer a few years ago."

"He didn't want to see me."

"You didn't try."

Eliot bit his lip, not really certain he could argue with that. He looked down at his mother's gravestone, the wrapper around the bouquet he brought crinkling as he shifted his grip, careful not to crush them. He felt Trudy come in closer and forced himself not to tense. There weren't many people he liked to have that close, and it was a little strange to realize his sister didn't make the cut. Still he didn't say anything, and he didn't back off. He deserved whatever she wanted to throw at him, showing up like this after twenty years.

"You need a haircut," Trudy said.

Eliot snorted. "Tried that," he said. "My partners prefer it long."

"Partners?" He could feel her eyes on him, but didn't turn to look. "I thought you worked alone."

He shook his head. "That's old news. Been with the same crew for a good six, seven years now."

"You still --"

"No." Eliot was quick to cut her off, then shrugged. "A little," he admitted. "But not -- I'm doin' good work, now." He nodded down to the stone. "Think she'd be proud."

"Well." Trudy held out a small framed photo, a framed picture of a family of five, her and her husband, their twin teenage daughters, and a son of about thirteen. "Nice to know for sure these don't get stolen by perverts every year."

"Just the even numbered ones," Eliot teased, taking the picture and shifting the bouquet in his grip so he could run his fingers over the glass. "They're beautiful, Tru."

"Cassie and Ell are off to college, next year. On opposite sides of the damn country, if you can believe it. Johnny's going into the eighth grade. He's captain of the school robotics team."

Eliot had to laugh at that one. "Must take after his dad."

Trudy punched him in the arm again. Hard. She'd always had a bit of the brawler in her, as well. "You could try meeting 'em sometime, you know."

"Maybe," Eliot said. "I got a new way of getting around. Harder for folks to track. Could maybe swing a few days between workshops, if Parker doesn't have a job lined up for us."


Eliot smiled. "I'm a teacher." He shifted out of the way when Trudy made to punch him again. "I'm serious. Parker -- she's one of my partners -- she roped me into it. It's this boarding school out east."

Trudy studied him, her arms crossed, and Eliot held her gaze.

"Huh," she said. "Is it a school for the mentally ill? Because they must've been crazy to hire you."

"No," Eliot said. "But I ain't disagreeing with the second part."

They stood there in silence again for a few moments, and Eliot was pleased to notice he'd started to relax. He wasn't sure how he'd managed it, but he seemed to be getting out of this reunion without tears, screaming, or a punch in the face, though he deserved all three.

"This Parker," Trudy said at length. "Your 'partners' --"

Eliot bristled. "Don't say it like that."

"Like what?"

"They're family, Tru."

"Family." Trudy's voice was ice cold. "Well. Nice to know you finally found yourself one of those."

Eliot groaned and shoved the bouquet at her. "Happy Mother's Day."

"Dammit, El --"

Eliot didn't wait for the lecture (he'd been hoping to avoid that along with screaming, crying, and face-punching); he just spun on his heel and started away, tucking the photo into his pocket as he went. He heard the crinkle of cellophane as Trudy set the bouquet down, then the sound of her boots as she came stomping after him.

"Eliot Byron Spencer!"

Holy mother of god, his sister had mom-voice. "Dammit, Trudy --"

"Don't you 'dammit, Trudy' me, you jackass, you show up here after twenty years without even letting us see your damn face and you start throwing 'round talk of 'partners' and calling 'em 'family' like you didn't do your damned best to ruin the one you were goddamn born into --"

"I ain't gettin' into this with you, Tru."

"No." Her footsteps stopped, and Eliot almost turned to look. "You're just running away again. Same goddamn Eliot as always. Wouldn't Momma be proud."

Eliot froze. "That's low."

"It got you to stop, didn't it?"

"I'm not running away. I don't do that anymore."

"It's all you've ever done. Things get hard, you bolt."

"You have no idea what I've done."

"'Course I don't. You never told me." She walked around him, getting in his face. A place most people would be far too terrified to go. "But I know where you came from."

Eliot stared out into the distance over her head. He could get around her, but she wouldn't make it easy, and he didn't want to hurt her. Not physically. Apparently he'd been really good at hurting her for years. "I'm not running away," he said again, then met her eye. "Hardison and Parker are my partners."

"Yeah, you said that," Trudy said.

"But you didn't hear it." Eliot raised his eyebrows and stared at her. "They're family, Tru."

He watched as comprehension slowly washed over her. "What're you. . . . Eliot. . . ." He waited, biting his lip. "Are you -- coming out to me?"

He really wished she'd put that another way. "I know it ain't -- traditional. But, uh, yeah, Hardison's a guy, so --"

He cut off when Trudy's arms were suddenly wrapped around his waist. "You complete moron!"

"Tru --"

"Is that why you haven't been home in so long?" She pulled back and whacked him in the chest with the back of her hand, hard enough to leave a mark. "You really are a jackass," she said, though the venom had gone from her words. "Well, I mean, you wouldn't want to go tellin' Dad, but Jake and me?"

"Tru." Eliot grabbed her wrists to keep her from hitting him again. "That's not why I didn't come home all those years." He took a breath and looked away. "It, uh. Might be why I came back now, though."

Why he'd 'forgotten' to schedule the usual delivery. Why he'd shown up in the early morning, when Trudy had always been at her brightest and most energetic.

He looked back down to find his sister searching his face. "Oh El," she said softly, then pulled him back into a hug, her hand coming up this time to cup the back of his head, like a mother comforting a child. "You really are an idiot."

Eliot sighed. "Yeah. Thanks, Tru."

[ooc: idek, this was one of those shower inspirations that ran away with me. NFI, natch. OOC always welcome.]

[*hugs Eliot and this head-canon now*]

[*Reads this and d'awwwws before falling over!*]