geniuswithasmartphone: (Hacking: Not Best Pleased)
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Hardison had accompanied Eliot to the hospice, but had elected to wait in the waiting area before the receptionist desk. Eliot and his father had a lot of catching up to do and it was the kind of catching up that didn't need a stranger present. Hardison was easing the way with Eliot and Trudy's family and even a bit with Eliot and just being here, but facing his dad was the one thing that Eliot had to do alone.

At least the first time. Hopefully only the first time.

But he figured that Eliot would need some company after the visit ended--he probably wouldn't want company, but that was a different thing--and so he was just killing time, giving the wi-fi of the coffee shop next door a much-needed upgrade and idly skimming through the FBI files on their investigation into the Russian election hacking. Just to keep his hand in.


Eliot

Eliot stormed into the waiting area -- a quiet storm, but one that Hardison, being used to his natural ninjaing, could probably still hear coming -- and blew right past him with only a wave of his hand to indicate that he noticed and appreciated that Hardison was there.

"We're going," he said shortly. "This was a mistake."


Hardison

Hardison scrambled up to his feet and quickly fell into step with Eliot. "You, uhh, wanna explain that a bit more?" he asked. "You know, at least as much as would be included in a note signed hairy anger man."


Eliot

"Not really." Eliot shoved his way through the door and made it halfway across the parking lot before he slowed down. "Dyin' hasn't made my dad any less of an ass. That enough detail for ya?"


Hardison

"Not really no," Hardison said, his long legs barely a match for Eliot's ground-eating pace. If he hadn't spent so much time running around the island after Pokemon, he probably never would have been able to keep up. "What'd he say? What'd you say? C'mon man, talk to me."


Eliot

"He's got a full beard," Eliot said, stopping and pointing back at the hospice. "Man's dying of cancer with a full beard."


Hardison

"You want me to look at his insurance?" Hardison asked, immediately putting the pieces together. "See what it covers, maybe make some adjustments?"


Eliot

Eliot shook his head. "He ain't -- he won't take it. I tried, I said I could pay, but --" But his dad didn't want an assassin's money. "It's too late anyway. Stubborn old bastard's determined to die."


Hardison

"He won't take your money, but if it comes from the insurance company..." Hardison shrugged. "Don't hurt to look, you know?"


Eliot

"Yeah, fine. Do whatever you want." Eliot started for the car again. "I'm gettin' a drink."


Hardison

"Yo, you sure that's the best idea?" Hardison asked. "Why dontcha come back to the house, spend some time messin' around in the kitchen or the garden, talk to me a bit...Pretty much anythin' that ain't go out to a bar an' have a drink."


Eliot

"Back off, Hardison," Eliot snarled. "I ain't in the mood."

To be redirected? Or cared for? Whatever it was, he didn't want it. Not right now.


Hardison

"A'ight then," Hardison said mildly. "You in the mood for company while you drink?"

Not to keep an eye on him, really!


Eliot

Eliot had just enough grace to look slightly guilty. Because the answer was 'no', but it was a nasty thing to ditch his partner in an unfamiliar town.

"Not particularly," he grumbled. He dug the keys to the rental from his pocket and tossed them to Hardison. "Bar's just down the road. I'll walk. You can . . . go explorin' or something."


Hardison

Hardison gave Eliot a look. He was all here to be supportive, which included giving Eliot space if he needed it, but 'go explore' was some bullshit and he knew it.

"Yeah," he said dryly, taking the keys. "I'll get right on that. Meanwhile, you don't go do nothin' stupid, like get arrested or liberate a small country. Hear me?"


Eliot

"Yeah yeah." Eliot shrugged off the warning and started stalking off. "Any small countries 'round here are too dumb to get liberated anyway."


Hardison

Hardison sighed, pinching his bridge of his nose. If Eliot wasn't so goddamn good at what he did, Hardison would have given some thought to tailing him.

Except they all knew how that would end: poorly, at least for Hardison.

Besides, he had a different idea of how to spend his free time. One that had him wheeling around and heading back into the hospice once Eliot had turned a corner and was out of sight.

Not the most orthodox 'Meet the Parent' moment ever, but then, when had they ever done orthodox?


Nurse Eli

The nurse working the front desk looked up and smiled. "You're with Mr. Spencer's family, right?" he asked. "Head right on back. He's always happier when he's got visitors."


Hardison

"Bet he's just gon' be overjoyed to see me then," Hardison deadpanned as he walked down the hall. He paused when he got to Emerson's door, then tapped gently on the wood. Part of him hoped that the old man was asleep, tired out after his row with Eliot. Suddenly, this idea wasn't sounding all that great.

But, no, he got a response and that response was definitely not snoring or even, 'Go away, I'm sleeping.' So, with a deep breath and a quick tug on his clothes, Hardison opened the door and let himself in.


Emerson

Emerson looked up from the TV he'd been more staring at than watching and frowned. "You a new janitor or somethin'?"


Hardison

Hardison gave some serious thought to just turning around and leaving right then. But--this was Eliot's father. A little bit of casual racism was nothing.

Not with the possibility of directed racism on the table, woo! No, wait, not going to think about that.

"Or something," Hardison replied, dropping his easy drawl for something crisper and more professional sounding. Something more articulate, one might say. "My name is Alec Hardison and I'd like to talk to you for a few minutes, if I may." He flashed an easy, practiced grin. His con grin. "No need to worry, I'm not here to try to convince you into any deathbed conversions, changes to your will, or charitable donations."


Emerson

Come now! Emerson's had black friends over the years, he can't be racist! Right?

He pushed himself up a little straighter in the bed and frowned at Hardison. "Ain't looking to buy anything, neither, Mr. Hardison. So why don't you just get to your point."


Hardison

"Good, cause I'm not here to sell you anything," Hardison said, not yet moving to take a seat. "I'm here to talk to you about your son."

He was tempted to add, Cause I'm the guy who's gonna marry him but decided that much would be pushing it. Possibly also with Eliot as well.

"Figured you might wanna get a chance to learn about him from someone that doesn't have all the history between you."


Emerson

Emerson gave Hardison a long, measured look.

"Ah," he said. "You're the one he mentioned. Alright." He sighed. "Get it all out. Tell off the dyin' man for being mean to his estranged son."


Hardison

Well, he hadn't gotten kicked out. Hardison took that as an invitation to sit. "He mentioned me? I wasn't sure he would."

You know. For reasons.

"And naw. I ain't here to lecture you about nothing. Family's too complicated for that. I figured you might just wanna hear 'bout some of the stuff he's been doing the last ten years or so. He's not gonna tell you, of course. Too proud and stubborn for that." Hardison gave Emerson a look because he knew damn well where Eliot had gotten that little trait from. "But however things lie between you two, I just thought you might wanna know more about him."


Emerson

"Right. You gonna tell me that boy made enough money to pay for cancer treatments out of pocket by rescuin' orphans and deliverin' humanitarian aid?"


Hardison

"Not at all," Hardison said. "Though that ain't where it came from, that's where a lot of it went over the years. I don't know how much he made as a merc, that was before we met up. But the money he's got now--the money enough to pay for cancer treatments--that's cause I invested it and I know what I'm about. And the bulk of that money came from us ruining a very wealthy, very nasty man that used us and tried to kill us to cover up what he was doing, which was stealin' airplane plans from other people to pass 'em off as his own to the government for additional funding."


Emerson

"A 'merc'. That you tryin' to be cute about my son being a goddamn mercenary? And the hell are you, talkin' about 'investing'? For all I know you got him into insider tradin' alongside being a 'merc'." Emerson shook his head. "Runnin' a business is perfectly good for plenty of people, but no. Eliot's gotta go runnin' off to be a 'merc'."


Hardison

"Interesting," Hardison said, propping his chin on his fist and regarding Emerson with a steady stare. "You assuming that I'm involved with insider trading because I'm involved with Eliot or just because I'm black? Tryna get a bead on just how offended I should be."

Hardison was absolutely a thief and a criminal. But, please, his crimes involved skill and hard work.


Emerson

"Oh don't make this a race thing." Emerson rolled his eyes. "Boy's been tellin' stories, I s'pose, makin' me out to be every kind of monster in the book. You come in here, puttin' on airs, talkin' about all the money you two made off some corrupt billionaire or whatever. Son, I've met my boy. He ain't done anything without a short cut in his life. Now I know 'straight' ain't something you folks are real good at, but let's not pretend: you two are crooks. I raised a damn criminal."


Hardison

Hardison was going to add the 'you folks' to his growing list of comments. When he hit ten? he'd leave? Maybe fifteen? Enh, he'd play it by ear.

"And you think that's why he didn't want your store?" Hardison said, not bothering to deny the allegation. He hadn't come here to lie to a dying man. His Nana had always told him that was a sin. "Because it was too much work to run?" He laughed once and shook his head. "Is that really what you think of him?"


Emerson

"I think it's a damn sight harder to make a living honestly than to steal one, yeah."


Hardison

Hardison laughed again. "I'm sorry, I'm just pretty sure you're picturin' us livin' in some giant mansion again, spendin' our days rollin' around our ill-gotten gains or somethin'," he said, losing his careful diction. "The day Eliot Spencer is afraid of hard work is the day the sun starts to rise in the west."

This man knew nothing of his son. Nothing.

"Eliot makes his livin' as the owner of our local diner," he said, digging out his phone again to look for pictures of Eliot at Luke's. "He is a small business owner. He juggles that an' teachin' high school. This semester he's teachin' Home Ec an' comes home complainin' about how outdated the curriculum is."

He held the phone up for Emerson to take if he wanted. There he'd find hundreds of pictures of Eliot if he'd care to look. Eliot at Luke's, Eliot at school, Eliot surrounded by students, Eliot training Kathy, Eliot teaching cooking at the Fandom Community Center...


Emerson

Emerson didn't lay one finger on that phone. "Home Ec," he said. "Boy, you nearly had me goin' there a moment, but ain't no way a school hired Eliot Spencer to teach a course he damn near failed in high school 'cause he was too busy starin' at the girls to get any work done. Don't think I ain't noticed you dancin' around the whole 'criminal' thing, neither. You two wanna get up to whatever it is you're doin', I can't stop you. Ain't gonna be breathing long enough to even try. But don't you dare think you're gonna walk in here and make me okay with that boy being a crook."


Hardison

"See, you know your problem?" Hardison said. "It's been twenty years and you can't stop seeing Eliot as that eighteen year old that left. You don't think that in twenty years, Eliot hasn't learned to cook or sew or balance a checkbook? The man owns a diner, I think he can tell a bunch of high school students how to do a load of laundry."

He wasn't holding back his sarcasm now. He could see how Eliot would have walked out of here needing a drink.

"Nah, I'm not denying that we're thieves. An' for the last ten years, we were part of the best damn crew on this side of the Atlantic. An' you know what we did? We helped people. We stole from politicians an' corporations an' rich assholes who saw people like you an' people like your friend Willie as fair game to screw over to make a buck. You don't gotta like what we did or how we did it. You don't gotta think that it makes up for what Eliot did when he was a mercenary--I know Eliot surely doesn't. But the fact is that you have one foot in the grave an' the other on a banana peel an' this is your last chance to get over your hurt feelin's an' stubborn pride to see the man your son is, insteada focusin' on what it was that you didn't get."

Hardison was surprised to realize he was standing now, his finger jabbed at Emerson's face. "Your son saved lives. He saved a girl from gettin' kidnapped. Saved a young woman from getting killed. Saved people's homes an' farms an' livelihoods. He ain't the man he was in his twenties anymore'n you are! But you're so firmly rooted in the damn past you can't see what's in front of you right now. An' you're about to lose it all an' this time it will be your own damn fault."


Emerson

Emerson's breath was starting to get harder to come by. He'd already gotten riled up tonight, and his body wasn't doing well with doing it all over again. "Don't you lecture me, boy," he growled, giving a clear view of just where Eliot got that particular tone of voice. "You may've been taken in by Eliot's Robin Hood fantasies, but I been on this earth a damn sight longer'n you have and I know a crook is a goddamn crook. I ain't never trucked with thievery in my life and I sure as hell ain't lookin' to start now. Get out of my room before I call someone to have you arrested for harrassment."


Hardison

Four. Hardison's tolerance apparently capped at four low-key racist comments before it was time to go.

He shook his head as he pushed the chair away, reaching for his phone. "I came in here tryna see if there was any way that the two of y'all could reconcile before you go," he said. "Now I'm thinkin' that he's better off without you. I don't think he coulda become the man he is--the man I respect--if you'd been involved with his life more. A least he learned to acknowledge his mistakes. I pity you an' it ain't got nothin' to do with the cancer in your body."

And with that he stalked out of the room, shutting the door behind him softly but with finality. He was never coming back, he didn't care how long this man held on.


Emerson

"I don't give a crap what the hell you think!" Emerson hollered after him, then folded back into his bed again.

Jesus, his son and that man had done their best to do him in before it was even his time. Emerson was just thankful none of his girls had been around to see it all.


[NFI, NFB, OOC is love. Preplayed with the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] vdistinctive. Immediately follows this.]

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