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The problem with being where everybody knows your name? Getting arrested. Hardison couldn't use any of his computer magic to convince the system they had the wrong guy, or run a quick con to get Eliot out. No, when everyone knew your name, they also tended to know what you were up to, like when you got arrested for brawling in a bar because you weren't still emotionally stunted sometimes when it came to family and--

Hardison handed over a cashier's check for the amount of bail and sighed. It just felt so dishonest, a pair of proper thieves actually paying bail.

"Just a moment," the clerk behind the desk said, slowly hunting-and-pecking her way into getting the information on her computer. With two fingers! Now there was the real crime. "You just sit tight now...Alec," she said, adjusting her glasses as she peered at the name on the ID he'd provided. Because, again, no using aliases when everyone knew who he was. "We'll get Eliot out just as soon as I'm done here."

...So sometime between now and when the sun burned out. A'ight.

"Sho thing," he said with a charming smile. "I'll just wait here then."


Trudy

"Does he do this a lot?" Trudy asked. She looked around the station, jittery and anxious. "He used to do this a lot. I mean, not jail, he was underage, and -- you know, the football stuff. But picking fights and getting in trouble, he did that a lot. Does he do this a lot?"

Cops made her nervous. Not for the same reason they made the Leverage crew nervous, but still. And when she was nervous she babbled.


Hardison

"Not so much anymore," Hardison said, leaving off the part where Eliot needed to maintain complete control in order not to accidentally kill someone. "Bein' back here is bringin' up a lotta memories an' a lotta old behaviors, I think. It's easy to fall into the same patterns again when everythin' here is reinforcin' 'em."

He sighed. "I wish Sophie were here. She'd know just what to say to talk some sense into 'em. Or how to fix it with just a cup of tea."

And a little NLP, but eh. Details.


Trudy

Trudy leaned in, lowering her voice. "I thought your other partner's name was Parker?"


Hardison

Hardison blinked at her for a moment, then laughed. "It is," he assured her, hopefully before she decided that Eliot just had a harem back on the island. "Sophie was an old business partner of ours. We just went to her wedding a few months ago."

Went to. Hosted. Stole. Same difference.

"She's just real good at talkin' to folks, gettin' 'em to see eye to eye." Usually eye to eye with her and what she wanted, but, eh. Details.

"Parker's less the 'talk sense' type an' more the 'poke Eliot until he does what she says' type."


Trudy

"Oh noooo, he hates that," Trudy said. "I mean. He used to hate that. It's one of those sister things, you know, poking?" She looked around the room again, fidgeting in place, then roared "How long does it take to get a guy out of jail around here?!"

She had a lot going on right now. She was a little stressed.


Hardison

"Parker...relates to people a little differently than most," Hardison said, glad Trudy was yelling and he didn't have to. She was the local, after all. "None of my sisters ever poked me, but one sure did like to thump a lot. 'Specially the ears."

Speaking of, his were ringing a bit. Guess the lungs were an inherited Spencer trait.


Trudy

They definitely shared a certain intensity of personality. The desk sergeant wasn't much impressed, but there were a couple rookies who looked like they were about ready to crap their pants.

"Keep your shirt on, ma'am," the desk sergeant said. "They're just finishing up the discharge now."

"It's about damn time."


Eliot

True to word, Eliot appeared at the door leading deeper into the station, his belt in one hand, wallet in the other. He looked over the two people waiting for him and sighed.

"Great. Y'all can lecture me in stereo."


Hardison

"Oh, I'm sorry, is that not how you wanted to spend the ride home?" Hardison said, looking not best pleased with this situation. You had two things not to do, Eliot! Two things! "Sure will be a terrible inconvenience, I'm sure."


Eliot

And he'd totally did a great job of not doing one of them! Even though he had and knew how to use the Portalocity app on his phone!

Eliot made a beeline for the front door, not making eye contact with any of the cops (at least half of whom he'd gone to high school with). "C'n we do this in the car?"


Trudy

"Hang on." Trudy planted herself in front of him and grabbed his chin, angling it back and forth as she checked him over. "You bruise anything other than your pride?"


Eliot

"No'm." Eliot let her fuss just long enough to confirm a lack of black eyes or split lips, then shrugged out of her grip. "You didn't tell me Ivan's on the squad."


Trudy

"Yeah, well, I didn't expect you to have to get run down by him, either." Trudy glanced at Hardison. "Ivan went All-State cross-country three out of four years in school. Ain't no one in this town faster."


Eliot

"This is exactly why I didn't come home for twenty years."


Hardison

"Cause you knew you were gonna get run down by a classmate of yours?" Hardison asked, still vastly unimpressed. "Shoulda clued me into your plans. We coulda made it a couples thing. You know how much I love runnin'. 'Specially from cops."


Eliot

"You think I planned any of this?!" Eliot reined himself in with visible effort and steered his sister towards the door. "Can we just go, please? You can yell at me more when I ain't in the middle of a weirdly cop-heavy high school reunion."


Trudy

"Not a single one of whom is surprised," Trudy noted. Hardison seemed to have the disapproving covered for the time being, so she was going to keep up the taunting a bit longer. "'Cept maybe the ones who thought you were dead."


Hardison

Hardison wasn't mad, he was just disappointed.

"Not at all," Hardison said, stalking out of the police station. "Plannin' requires thinkin' an I can guess just how much of that you were doin'."


Eliot

"Out," Eliot said. "Side."

And then hopefully never.

He shoved his way through the door, then made it to the edge of the parking lot before he remembered he didn't know where they parked.


Trudy

"I suppose I should be happy," Trudy noted. "If you'd stuck around I mighta had to bail you out more often."


Hardison

"You feel better?" Hardison asked, making no move towards where the car was parked. Eliot could just keep looking around for it. "This give you some much-needed clarity of mind an' purpose?"

Two jobs, Eliot! Two jobs!


Eliot

"I look like I found any goddamn clarity?!" Eliot stalked off again. He could walk back to Trudy's if he had to. This town wasn't that big.


Trudy

"Oh. Hardison. Hardison, I know that look. That's the same look he got before he beat up the captain of the wrestling team." Trudy whacked Hardison on the arm and then jogged after him. "Eliot Byron Spencer, don't you dare go and be even more stupid!"


Hardison

"Dammit Eliot!" Hardison wasn't yelling but he pitched his voice to carry. "This really how you want it to go? Your sister an' boyfriend chasin' you down the goddamn street an' yellin' after you while you walk away?"


Eliot

"What I want?" Eliot stopped and spun on them both, his voice low and dangerous. Trudy took a step back, her eyes wide. "What I want is to go home. I want a dad who doesn't look at me like I'm the goddamn devil. And I really want not to feel like when he does it's 'cause I am. But I don't get what I want, do I. So are you gonna take me back to Trudy's or am I gonna walk there?"


Hardison

Hardison stepped forward, going toe to toe with Eliot. "An' now you wanna spare a thought to what Trudy wants? Or Jake? Or the kids? You're pissed off an' lashin' out at the people who love you best. And they?" He jabbed a finger back in Trudy's direction. "They're hurtin' just as much as you and don't deserve to deal with this right now."


Eliot

"No, I lashed out at the guy at the bar last night. Right now, I'm just trying to get out of here."


Trudy

"You know what?" Trudy said, shrugging off her shaken moment with clear effort. "We're hungry. El's always gotten ornery when he's hungry. And I'm guessing he ain't half hung over. So let's go home. And Eliot, you can show how sorry you are for scaring us by making everyone omelettes."


Hardison

Hardison turned to head to the car, tossing the keys to Eliot as he went. Because driving was still one of the things that Eliot enjoyed doing and that might help, even a little bit.

"Don't suppose you have orange soda in the house?" he asked Trudy.


Trudy

"You like Faygo?" Trudy asked.


Eliot

"If it's orange, he'll like it," Eliot said, hitting the lock button on the keys until the car honked at them. "He's a man of simple pleasures."


Trudy

"He's the one who had the cash liquid to bail you out, hon. Say thank you."


Eliot

Eliot growled under his breath, then glanced over at Hardison. "Thanks."


Hardison

"You're welcome," Hardison said. "Ordinarily, I would've tried to call in a few favors with my cop friends online--" Eliot knew what he meant "--but this bein' your hometown, I didn't think anyone would play ball."

DAMMIT ELIOT.


Eliot

Eliot let out a heavy sigh. "Shit, man, why d'ya think I ended up in there in the first place?" He glanced over at Trudy. "Not that, you know, I spend a lot of time dodging cops on a regular, uh, basis. . . ."


Trudy

"Don't want to know. Not even listening. I'm just going to spend the ride home staring at my phone like a teenager, don't you worry about me."


Hardison

Hardison gave her the first smile of the morning. "We can talk about him over text. Use emojis an' everythin'."


Trudy

"Monkey monkey unicorn cat face," said Trudy.


Eliot

"Great," said Eliot. "Now my little sister's had a stroke."


Trudy

Trudy whacked him upside the head. "No eggplants, though," she said. "I do not need that kind of information about my big brother."


Eliot

Eliot frowned. "Wait. What's the eggplant mean?"


Hardison

"He is such an old man," Hardison told Trudy. Then, to Eliot. "Think like you're thirteen again. If you can remember anythin' besides the bowl cut from back then."


Eliot

"That was the fashion then," Eliot grumbled. It'd been super fashionable to have a head that looked like a mushroom. For some reason. "Shut up."

Grump grump grump.


Trudy

Trudy smiled softly. "You two are adorable."


Hardison

"Well, one of us is," Hardison said. "But it's okay. Eliot has his good points, too. Somewhere."

And now was sending Trudy an eggplant. Because it was required.


Trudy

"Oh my god." Trudy quickly locked her phone and shoved it into her pocket. "I just said no eggplants."


Eliot

Eliot gave Hardison a raised eyebrow. "You corruptin' my little sister?"


Hardison

Hardison contrived to look innocent. "I was just sendin' her a shoppin' list. We ain't stoppin' at the farmer's market on the way home?"


Trudy

Trudy gave Hardison a whack upside the head this time, but otherwise didn't respond.


Eliot

"Farmer's market sounds good to me," Eliot said, smirking at his sister's discomfort, though he still hadn't quite worked out the joke. "Dunno that eggplants are in season, though."


Trudy

Trudy let out a strangled snorting noise and buried her face in her hands.


Hardison

"Hey!" Hardison protested, ostentatiously rubbing the side of his head. "I was just talkin' 'bout a nutritional an' delicious vegetable! Not my fault you got a dirty mind, Tru!"

And then caught her eye in the rearview mirror and grinned.


[Preplayed with the amazing [livejournal.com profile] vdistinctive, and NFB/NFI applies]

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