geniuswithasmartphone: (Hacking: Quarrelsome)
[personal profile] geniuswithasmartphone
After Hardison got home from the diner, Eliot had summarized the conversation he'd had with Sparkle about his sister, mostly going over the points that were relevant to find her. He hadn't even gotten halfway through the it before Hardison had pulled out his laptop and started the searches, narrowing down options with every detail Eliot provided.

Still, of those details, there weren't many and most were years out of date, which meant the search had taken a long time--by which Hardison meant more than a few hours. But even with the extended timeframe, the end result was the same: he had a hit. (Technically, he had several, but this one wasn't just the most promising, it was straight-up promising.)

"Eliot!" he called. "You wanna grab Sparkle? I'm pretty sure I found his sister."


Eliot

Eliot had his phone out. He'd had his phone out for a couple hours, fully confident Hardison would find the woman sooner rather than later. He shot off a quick text to Sparkle and finally let himself hover came over to lean over Hardison's shoulder. "Thanks for this. I mean -- I know you'd probably do it anyway, but the kid needs a good break, you know?"


Hardison

"I know," Hardison said, sending his laptop results to the wall screen so Sparkle would see all the relevant data at once. Front and center was a picture of a woman just a few years younger than Hardison, the name Carla LeGate directly below it. "I think most foster kids go through this. Sparkle at least had a name to go on, knew she existed. Made it easier. For me, anyway."

Nothing could really make this easier for Sparkle. In fact, by finding her, Hardison had made it exponentially harder.


Sparkle

Sparkle would be lying if he said that his reaction to Eliot's text was anything more calm than a bit of repeated cursing under his breath and a few moments spent pacing around his room trying to swallow down his panic. Fortunately, Sparkle was an excellent liar.

He was also remarkably composed by the time he made it over there, breathing heavily enough to give away that he'd run the whole way. Which was good. That made it easier still to hide how nervous he was.

Family was terrifying. Something he wanted, desperately. But terrifying.

Either way, he was knocking. Knocking and bouncing from foot-to-foot anxiously.


Parker

Parker got the door, and smiled at Sparkle as she let him in. "You ready for this?" She could sympathize. She'd never gone looking for her own mom, and didn't know what she'd do if she suddenly found the woman.


Sparkle

"I... am terrified," Sparkle said, blinking at Parker and then shooting her a wide smile that was appropriately strained. "Which I wasn't going to admit to, but here I am, admitting to being terrified. Uh."

And now he was fidgeting. Good, he was doing a great job, here.

"You guys found her?"


Eliot

"Hardison found her," Eliot confirmed. "And ain't nothin' wrong with bein' terrified. You get points for doin' it anyway."


Hardison

"Come in," Hardison said, waving Sparkle into the living room where one wall had been taken up with pictures and documentation and all sorts of stuff his cybersearch had uncovered. He nodded at the woman in the center picture. "That her?"

His voice was soft, understanding. Unlike Parker, he had gone looking. He knew a little bit about how Sparkle was feeling right now.

"Remember, I just found her. This don't mean you gotta do anythin' you're not ready for."


Sparkle

Sparkle made his way in, kind of lingering back for a few moments before he pulled in a breath, leaned forward, and looked at the picture.

It took him a moment. Carla was in there. That was definitely her face. But after fifteen years, the difference was... He bit his lip, hiked his shoulders up a little. Tried to process everything that he would have missed after fifteen years of being apart. What could have happened in fifteen years while she grew from the big sister that he remembered into the woman he was looking at now.

He had nothing.

"It's her," he managed, because that seemed important, anyway. "That's definitely her."

He didn't have words for the rest of it just then, so he kind of settled on standing there awkwardly, staring at the sort-of-familiar face in the picture.


Parker

Parker stepped forward, not quite leaning into Sparkle. Not wanting to crowd him, but. Maybe he wanted the reassurance?

"How old was she, the last time you saw her?"


Sparkle

Sparkle's mouth had gone dry. It took him a few tries before he managed to make more than incoherent mouth-sounds, but eventually he managed.

"Eleven? Twelve? I was six when..." He licked his lips and shrugged. "I mean, six, the last time I saw her. It's been a while. But she has mom's chin and..."

Okay, nope, he wasn't even touching on his father. Ever.

"This is weird. Like... like recognizing a face on the milk carton weird, you know? Like that's her, but it shouldn't be her, but it is."


Eliot

Eliot nodded. "You both got a lot of living in, these last several years," he said. "Guessin' she might have a similar reaction, finally seein' you."

He didn't mean to act like Sparkle contacting her was a definite thing, and he wouldn't blame Sparkle in the least if he decided against it. He was pretty damn sure the kid would do it, though. Had been since the moment he offered the team to help.


Sparkle

"She's probably at least seen me on the news," Sparkle noted, then chewed his lip for a moment.

There was a pretty good chance that the cops had plastered Toronto with 'keep an eye out for this guy' warnings, what with everything that had gone on and then his disappearing act. Burning that bridge behind him, just like Eliot had told him not to do.

Well. It had been less a bridge and more a house.

"But yeah, I would guess it'd be weird to see me again, too."


Hardison

"Weird, yeah," Hardison said from his spot on the couch. "But maybe she's been lookin' for you too, all these years. I still keep tabs on the kids taken in by Nana after I was. Bein' a big siblin' doesn't just go away after you separate."


Eliot

"Never did for me," Eliot agreed. "Hell, I used to send a messenger out to pick up photos my sister left of her family just to keep tabs on her."


Parker

Parker thought of Nick, and bit her lip. Because the guys were completely right about this, from her experience. Then she bumped her shoulder sharply against Sparkle's. "At least you'll know. And she'll know. And anything else, you can negotiate.


Sparkle

"For the record," Sparkle muttered, "I suck at negotiation."

He was much better at bold-faced lying.

"But... I mean... maybe she has been trying to reach out, too. Hell, maybe she even knows how to contact our little siblings too." Which he obviously cared about, but Carla was... well, she was his big sister. She'd been the one to keep them safe from the worst of it when things got ugly. Carla had to be first. Full stop.

That, and the younger siblings were still young enough that they would either be in group homes or foster families. That complicated things.

"Okay," he said, blowing out a breath. "Yeah. Yeah, I can do this."

He was screaming internally. A lot.


Hardison

"It's okay to spend some time breathin' into a paperbag," Hardison said, passing a beer over to Sparkle. The kid looked like he could use one. "That's what I did when I first found my dad. An', uhh, hacked the Pentagon. Again. Just to blow off some steam."


Eliot

"Family ain't even easy when you already know 'em real well," Eliot observed. "You wanna do this, I suggest gettin' it over with quick. Otherwise you might drive yourself insane with the wonderin'."


Sparkle

"I mean, I've been doing that for fifteen years," Sparkle pointed out, smiling wryly. "It's made for some pretty spectacular breakdowns, actually."

He once tried drunkenly breaking into Hannibal's house through the window because his boyfriend's sister had been bullying him at work, and his boyfriend-- now very much his ex-- had said that Sparkle just didn't know what it was like to have a protective big sister.

Sparkle had never told Alec exactly how fucked up that statement was on so many levels. He didn't figure he owed anybody who could say shit like that the explanation.

"But if you figure doing this the 'ripping off the band-aid' way is the way to go about it..."


Hardison

Hardison was offended that someone was out there besmirching the good name of Alec by being a jackass.

"Yeah," Hardison said nodding. "There ain't no real way to ease into this. Either you do it fast before you have a chance to psych yourself out about it, or you end up regrettin' that you wasted more time...or regrettin' that you never did it at all."


Sparkle

"Okay..." Sparkle fidgeted some more, because he was pretty sure he was way out of his depth, here, but then he squared his shoulders and nodded. "Okay. Let's do this, then."


Eliot

Eliot's cell phone rang. He checked the screen, planning on sending it to voicemail to give Sparkle the full attention the kid deserved, but when he saw the name on the screen he frowned.

"I, uh. Should get this." He flashed the group a quick, awkward smile. "It's my sister."

He went over into the kitchen, far enough away to give the illusion of privacy, but close enough that he could keep an eye on things happening in the living room, just in case someone melted down.

"Hey Tru. I ain't forgot a birthday or somethin', have I?"

He hadn't. He was very good at birthdays, even before he'd actually started talking to her and her family again.


Trudy

Tru would normally love a bit of back and forth with her prodigal brother.

"You need to come home, El."

Today was not a normal day.


Eliot

Eliot sighed, rubbing his forehead. "I can't right now, Trudy. We got some stuff goin' on up here. I can see about gettin' down there for Mother's Day, or. . . ."


Trudy

"You've got some stuff going on down here, Eliot. I'm not calling you just to fuss, you need to come home."


Eliot

Eliot frowned. "What's wrong? The kids alright? Cassie's still in California, right?"


Trudy

"They're fine. Ellie just got home, and Cassie's flying in tonight."


Eliot

"Then what --"


Trudy

"It's Dad, El." Trudy took a deep breath. "He's in hospice. You need to come home. Now."


Eliot

Eliot went very, very still, then turned his back on the living room. "How long?"


Trudy

"A week? If he's lucky." Trudy was doing her best to put on a brave face for her big brother, but the tears were creeping into her voice now. "It should've been longer, but you know Dad. He didn't tell anyone he was sick until -- you have to come home."


Eliot

Eliot leaned his weight carefully back on the kitchen island. He hadn't heard Trudy's voice do that since they were kids.

Since their mom died.

"His heart?"


Trudy

"Pancreatic cancer. You know I wouldn't ask if it weren't -- this is your last chance, El. It's our last chance to be a family again."


Eliot

Eliot glanced back over his shoulder, where his team was trying to help a kid get his own family back together. "I can be there by tomorrow morning. Just, uh. Let me get things put together here."


Trudy

Trudy let out a single sob. "Thank you El. Thank you."


Hardison

There had been something in Eliot's voice during his call that had caught Hardison's attention. Something off about the cadence or the tone or something.

So by the time Eliot had hung up and come back out of the kitchen, Hardison was already watching him. "What's up?" he asked softly.


Eliot

Eliot tapped his phone on his palm a few times, looking around the room, then tucked it in his pocket.

"I, uh. Can't come on this job. I gotta catch a portal to Oklahoma."


Parker

"What did she say?" Parker asked. 'Tru' was his sister, so... what was so bad that he was going back to Oklahoma?


Eliot

Eliot looked down and away a moment, his sister's sob still in his ears. "My dad's dying." He looked over at Sparkle. "I'm sorry, kid. Pop's timing's never been great."


Sparkle

Sparkle gave his shoulders a little shrug, looking a little bit out of his depth. He had never been good at this sort of thing, really, but he was trying to not at least get all weird, now.

"Shit, no, it's fine. I mean, I get it." Well. As much as he possibly could, anyway. "You do what you need to do, you know? Carla's not going anywhere."


Hardison

"Portal or plane tickets?" Hardison asked, immediately reaching for his laptop. "You know you ain't goin' alone, right?"

And argument in three...two...


Eliot

"Portal. Tomorrow morning? I want to make sure y'all are good to go on Toronto."

Was it an argument if Eliot just pretended Hardison hadn't said it?


Parker

Parker glared at Eliot, then looked at Sparkle. Then at Hardison. "You're not going alone. Nobody is going alone."


Eliot

"I don't --" Eliot closed his eyes and sighed. "Y'all don't have to come. We planned this out for Sparkle, you should focus on him."


Sparkle

"Oh, come on," Sparkle said, and now he was kind of glowering at Eliot. "Don't you dare martyr yourself for me when you've got actual family going through shit somewhere. Don't even fucking think about it. Like I said, Carla isn't going anywhere.."

It was impressive just how much one kid could bristle at the thought of someone putting themselves through that much hell alone, on his account. Sparkle wasn't going to let you use him as an out, Eliot. Not by a long shot.

"You aren't going alone. Not if I'm your excuse."


Hardison

"My man," Hardison said, holding up a fist for Sparkle to bump. "Now, Eliot, you gonna give in with dignity or we gonna keep doin' this?"


Eliot

"I ain't spoken to the man in 23 years," Eliot pointed out, then gave in with a sigh. "Fine. But we ain't sendin' you to find your sister by yourself. Not in a city where you're still an active fugitive."


Sparkle

Sparkle went in for the fistbump, because even in the middle of a conversation like this, he wasn't about to leave Hardison hanging.

"So I wait," he said easily. "I'm not in any hurry to get my ass arrested anyway. And it's not just about him, right? I mean, you've got other family, too?"

They probably wanted him there. That seemed like a family thing. And it would give Sparkle plenty of time to... chicken out, probably.


Eliot

"Sister," Eliot confirmed. "Coupla nieces and a nephew. And -- I mean, I got a brother-in-law, but I barely know him. I barely know any of 'em, 'cept Tru."


Sparkle

"So be there for your sister," Sparkle said, reasonably, "and let the people who love you be there for you. This stuff isn't easy. When people you care about are hurting, I mean, even if you aren't close to your dad. So don't do it alone."

His own experience in this area was second-hand, mostly. But he'd grown up surrounded by orphans. You tended to get a good idea of how grieving worked, that way.


Parker

"You are so smart," Parker marveled. Then she pointed at Hardison. "You go with Eliot. I go with Sparkle, so he does this. Yes?"

Because if he was going to be mature, Parker was going to have his back while he did that.


Eliot

"You sure?" Eliot asked. Not that he didn't think Parker and Sparkle could handle anything that went down up there, but -- well. Parker didn't have the best track record with family.

And she would be the easier partner for him to bring home to Oklahoma.

"Y'all can call if anything goes wrong. Hardison can portal on up there easy as pie."

He'd argue harder, but he really didn't want to have to do this alone.


Hardison

"This is the configuration that makes the most sense," Hardison pointed out. Going into a highly emotional and turbulent time was definitely more his area of expertise than Parker's. Still, he was also thinking about where Eliot lived and the statement he'd be making, showing up with a handsome black guy instead of a pretty blonde woman.

"Unless..." he trailed off, looking at Eliot to let him know that he got it, if Eliot wanted to take the easy route. He'd gone that way with Nana at the beginning and it hadn't even been the last time he was going to see her.


Eliot

Eliot sighed. "Tru already knows about you. Ain't promisin' to introduce you to Pop -- though watchin' him die of the heart attack'd probably be more entertainin' than watchin' him die of cancer."

Gallows humor was a fine family tragedy tradition.


Parker

Parker made a face, then said, "I'd make it worse. You know I would." And she was unhappy about that. But either she went in pretending it was a con, and tried to con Eliot's dad, which her instincts said was -- not good. Or she went in as herself, and everyone asked Eliot why he hooked up with a crazy person. Better she wasn't there. "Unless you really really want me there. But I think it would be a mistake."


Eliot

Eliot shook his head. "You two are right. Go with Sparkle. Keep the kid out of jail."


Sparkle

Sparkle kept mostly quiet at that, not wanting to intrude on... all of this, now. Eliot wasn't going alone, that was the important part, and if both of his partners had decided to go with him, that would have been fine with him, too.

He wanted to see Carla again so much it hurt, but he never would have done it at the expense of someone having somebody with them while their own family was going through shit like this.

"Thanks," he said, keeping it simple in an effort to not stir up anything else. Sometimes even Sparkle could leave well enough alone. "And... good luck?"

Okay, still bad at this.


Hardison

"You too, Sparkle," Hardison said, once more behind the laptop as he ordered multiple sets of Portalocity tickets. "When you wanna leave?"

First-class, obviously. There were perks to being a Mythril Circle Member. Even if those perks hadn't included 'opening a forbidden portal onto a quarantined world.'


Sparkle

"Soon?" He glanced at Parker in question. "I'll need time to... I don't know. Feed the fish or something, first. But soon?"

He didn't tend to pack much. His backpack could carry basically everything he needed for a day trip, after all.


Parker

"Soonest flight we can catch," Parker confirmed. "Open-ended return." Because hopefully, this would go well enough that they'd want to stay more than a few days.


Hardison

Hardison winced at her. "Portal, mama," he said. "We ain't never flyin' on a plane again unless it's part of a con. Man, last time I had to land the damn plane an' I wasn't even ON it!"

Portals. Portals forever.

"I can get one for you tomorrow mornin'? Direct, no layovers. Any of the ones goin' today either have fixed return portals or won't get you there till it's too late to see her anyway."


Sparkle

"Tomorrow," Sparkle echoed, slipping back into slightly dazed mode. "Tomorrow's good. I can go tomorrow, tomorrow's great."

He bit the inside of his cheek when he realized he was dangerously close to just babbling forever.


[Preplayed with the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] vdistinctive, [livejournal.com profile] whoisalicewhite, and [livejournal.com profile] myownface. Broadcast fine, NFI, OOC is love]
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