geniuswithasmartphone: (Orange Soda 01 (Small))
"This sucks," Hardison grumbled from his couch where the bank of TVs against the wall were turned to something that was very specifically not the Oscars. "You know I've been to every single one of these since I was fifteen, right? Fifteen! Had to steal a damn tuxedo my first year just to be allowed in. All that tradition down the damn drain because some folks can't remember that it ain't 1956 no more."

He had been ranting about this for over an hour now and showed no signs of stopping.

"Bad enough they ignored Selma last year," he continued. "I mean, any movie about Dr. King is, like, instant Oscar bait. But to ignore Straight Outta Compton? That movie was amazing! Yo, that dude who played MC Ren was on point in every damn scene he was in. This is a damn travesty!"

The couch could no longer contain his frustration. Hardison flung himself up and started to pace, furiously downing bottles of Squeeze Orange soda, which wasn't helping his energy levels any. "You know, I can fix this. I can hack the hell outta those Oscars. We'll see how good their damn ceremony is with Hardison in control of the lights an' music an' the damn teleprompter!"

This would...probably not end well.

[Establishy, but open to the crew if they want in! Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] whoisalicewhite for reminding me of Hardison's canonical Oscar attendance. Which, combined with Aldis Hodge's role in the unfairly-snubbed Straight Outta Compton made this post a must]
geniuswithasmartphone: (Phone)
Hardison pressed the End Call button on his phone and then flung it onto the couch. It landed so hard it bounced back up and crashed to the floor. Whatever. He had like a million others and, honestly, the sound of something breaking was welcome. He followed that up with a sharp punch to the wall, trying to vent his fury out through violence.

Ouch. Nope. Okay, bad idea. The sound of something breaking was only okay if it wasn't his fingers.

On the bright side, the pain took sharp the edge off his anger, leaving him clear-headed enough to think. Okay, Nana and a bunch of her friends had gotten swindled out of their pensions. She was still financially secure, of course, not that she knew it. Hardison had long ago set up various accounts and trusts for her. But the same couldn't be said for her friends--and she didn't know she wasn't in any financial trouble yet, because he couldn't explain to her about all her money without answering some uncomfortable questions about where it all came from.

Step one: let the crew know they had a new job. Stat. Sorry, vacation, but Nana took priority. Step two: dig up all the information about Deon Walker and his shady operation and make up an info briefing. Step three: use that information in Chicago to nail Walker's ass to the ground. Step four--

Actually, wait. Step one was going to be 'get some ice for his hand.' Everything else came after that.

The Pensioner Pyramid Scheme )

***

The taxi from the airport dropped them off in front of an unassuming white house on Luella Avenue, not far from Trinity Hospital. Hardison had his own place in Chicago, of course, and his own car, both under a pseudonym stolen from Mister What, and neither of which would do him any good for awhile. His car was in longterm storage across the city and he had no reasonable explanation for the existence of an apartment that was still furnished and rented and yet had sat empty for years, without even a sublet. In the end, it had been easier to agree to stay with his Nana in her place than try to argue with her about where they were staying.

He could con a bunch of thieving Russians so well that they'd kidnapped him, but put him on the phone with the woman who'd raised him and he was barely able to fib about the weather.

"We'll be able to get the car in a few hours," he said, hoisting his duffel bag full of electronics over his shoulder. That was all his bag contained; his clothes had been split between Parker and Eliot's bags to make room for more gadgets. "Someone at the storage place is gonna drive it over. Had to tell Nana that I was borrowin' it from an old friend. Otherwise she'd've insisted we drive hers an' she needs that for her shift at Trinity's." He was babbling, he didn't need to tell his crew why using Nana's car for their work was a terrible idea. It was just nerves. Not about the job--please, they could take down scum like Walker in their sleep--but bringing two of people he loved most in this world to his childhood home to meet the third. Nothing much had changed in the few years since he'd been gone. He tried to see it with strangers' eyes.

The same blue station wagon Nana'd bought the year before he'd graduated high school sat in the driveway that could use a good resurfacing. The house had a two-car garage, but it had been converted into a playroom back in the 90s, a few years before Hardison had come to live here. The lawn was a little shaggy, more clover and weeds than grass, but still green. Hardison wondered whose job it was now to mow it. The outside of the house was in good condition; Nana had 'won a contest' for discounted siding a few years back and the contractor had 'known a guy' who did roofing was was willing to shingle the roof for a fraction of the usual cost. It had still run Nana a few thousand dollars to get all the work done, but there was no cover story in the world that could make her believe she could get it done for less. Hardison knew that for a fact--he'd asked Sophie to help him come up with one and even she'd been stumped.

Which made Nana getting conned all the more surprising.

"So, uhh, yeah," he said, swinging open the gate to lead them up to the front door. "This is the place. Home sweet home."

In the (Calumet) Heights! )

[Phone call and resulting discussion available for broadcast, everything in Chicago is obviously NFB. Preplayed with the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] vdistinctive and [livejournal.com profile] whoisalicewhite]
geniuswithasmartphone: (Planning Around Table (All Three))
Hardison always loved his partners. But sometimes he loved them extra. Like right now, when they were indulging him in one of his favorite non-computer and non-bedroom pastimes: good, old-fashioned, pen-and-paper style D&D. 5th Edition had come out awhile ago, but Hardison had been so soured by 4th Ed that he'd refused to even acknowledge it. But some time on an old forum he'd started hanging out on during high school had convinced him to give it a try--and he'd managed to convince Parker and Eliot to try it along with him.

Okay, for Parker, he'd just used one of his 'Hardison Gets To Choose The Date' coupons. Eliot had required the real convincing.

But here they were, sitting around the dining room table, paper, pencils, and many-sided dice around them. Hardison was behind his DM screen as was right and proper, with the various NPCs he'd lovingly crafted over the last week in a neat pile to his side. Sure, he could have used his computer, but it just felt right to do this all by hand. He also had several bottles of Squeeze Orange soda and bags of gummy frogs handy to keep him going, but in deference to Eliot's delicate sensibilities (and as a subtle thank you for agreeing to play), most of the other snacks were things diced fruit and a veggie platter.

And a giant bowl of Doritos, because some things were just tradition, okay?

"A'ight," he said, beaming at them. "I took the liberty of pre-gennin' some characters for y'all to choose from so you ain't gotta worry about makin' characters tonight. Just tell me what you wanna be an' I'll hook you up."

[For the excited players!]
geniuswithasmartphone: (Facepalm/scrub)
He was trapped. There was no where to move, nowhere to go, and he could feel the air getting thinner. Each breath was harder to draw than the last and his lungs burned with the effort of extracting what little air was left. The phone glowed blue in his hand, Parker's voice telling him he could do it, he could make it, that she needed him, and Hardison wanted to hold on for her, to prove he could do it, hell, just to see her again and make sure that there wasn't new pain in her eyes, but he knew that they weren't going to arrive in time. He strained his ears to hear the sound of the ambulance, the sound he knew he should make out by now, but they weren't close enough, he couldn't hear anything, not even Parker's voice anymore and the phone's glow died, leaving him trapped in darkness, the scent of the rose he'd been buried with and the varnish they used on the casker mixing in his nostrils and making him ill.

Or maybe that was just knowing he was going to die, all alone, in this tiny box he could never get out of by himself...


Deeply asleep and still trapped inside his nightmare, Hardison thrashed about, whimpering in fear, hot tears sliding down his cheeks.

Coffin nightmares were the worst.

[For the two there with him. Obviously]
geniuswithasmartphone: (So Done With This)
Well, there was no more denying it. Their most recent ill-advised Plan E attempt had left Hardison with a nasty cold. Possibly pneumonia. Possibly consumption. He wasn't sure. It all got mixed together in a haze of coughing and sneezing and general misery. He alternated between sweating and shivering, along with that weird light-headed feeling that you got with a high fever.

Or maybe with extra-strength cold meds. One of those.

Look, the important thing was that he was dying here. Probably literally. Dying. In his prime.

He was huddled on the couch, wrapping under blankets, with mountains of Squeeze Orange Soda bottles next to him. That was practically orange juice, right? A smaller mountain (in height, if not in volume) of used tissues were next to that, because Hardison hadn't thought to bring over a garbage can before he'd sunk onto the couch and now the idea of getting up to fetch it made him whimper. His head weighed roughly fifty pounds and was throbbing in time to his heartbeat--sitting up was an impossibility, never mind actually standing. And walking? HA!

He's known the outdoors were a horrible idea. It always ended with his life in danger.

Dammit, Eliot!
geniuswithasmartphone: (Playing With Phone)
Once again, Hardison was in trouble. His back against a wall, surrounded by enemies intent on taking him down, for a few seconds Hardison let himself wonder if this was really the way he was going to be taken down.

Aww, hell naw. He was not about to lose to a buncha chumps, even if he was drastically outnumbered.

"Look, Eliot, watch this!" And several seconds of furious button-mashing later, he'd managed to take out all of his opponents, using impressive combos, bright flares of magic, and a few badass items in his inventory. "Bet you was nervous, huh. Not like me. I was cool as a cucumber the whole time." Ignore the way he was sagging against the back of the couch, Eliot, he'd been totally fine.

This was the way Hardison had imagined it going once he moved to the island: no creepy zombie-horror fog outside, the three of them sharing space again, together even while they did their own things, happy and content.

"Oooh, I'm gettin' hungry. Eliot, you seen my bag of gummy frogs? Or maybe we should order more pizza after I finish up this level."

Well, he was happy and content anyway.

[For the crew & expecting one more, but open if anyone else should have a reason to drop by!]
geniuswithasmartphone: (Chin on Fist Side-Eye)
Eliot was looking pretty terrible. Despite Hardison's insistence that he wasn't going to feed Eliot again after the never-to-be-discussed Pork Rind Incident (c'mon man! There were just some things you didn't do to pork rinds! Or your friends! Even friends that tased you and tied you to a chair!), that insistence didn't mean much when your best friend looked like he was gonna keel over at any minute.

"Yo," he said, standing a safe distance back. "Eliot. You feelin' okay, man? You thirsty? I ain't gonna feed you--" such lies. If Eliot said he was hungry, Hardison was a soft enough touch that he'd try to feed him anyway. "--but I can get you something you drink?"

But that drink would possibly be orange soda, because soft touch or not, Hardison was also spiteful.

"You know, dude, this could all be over if you just told us what the heck was going on."

It was possible that Hardison and Parker didn't really have an endgame here, beyond keeping him tied up for...indefinitely?

[Open!]
geniuswithasmartphone: (Facepalm)
After everything that went down at the docks, Hardison was more than happy to come back to the apartment and just relax. Which, for him, meant a shower, a two-liter of orange soda, and a little bit of light hacking, just to stay on top of things. Sure, surfing the Dark Net was nothing compared to hacking all of reality, hacking reality hadn't come with phat stacks of cash, either.

Hardison settled in at his work station and set his various programs to running. Some were web crawlers, keeping him abreast of current events that might prove useful, others were security programs to wipe away any traces of his online presence. Still others were just tiny things he did to amuse himself; that was one naked celebrity picture leak that he ended before it even began, deleting the pictures from the web and sending a virus back to the machine that had uploaded them to destroy that, too. There was some obnoxious GamerGater on Reddit holding forth; Hardison sent a troll-bot running an algorithm of feminist arguments guaranteed to make the idiot on the other side of the screen froth at the mouth. This program unleashed a new meme into the world to propagate, chosen from the vast library of memes that Hardison had invented and saved to bring forward at a later date.

Sure, he might not have super-powers or a fancy metal suit, but the internet was his playground and there he was king.

Hardison's sense of satisfaction was not fated to last very long, however. Not more than seventy-two seconds after he finished his circuitous path to his little corner of the Dark Net and saw the blinking notice that said--once you broke all the layers of encryption over it--that the Black Book files had successfully been updated on March 12th at 7:22pm. Normally, that would be a good thing, except--

Except Hardison was sitting at his workstation and was not seeing the hard drive. Anywhere. He remembered initiating the backup; it was the last thing he'd done before he and Parker had left to go cliff jumping like the insane adrenaline-junkies he most certainly was not. But he hadn't ejected the drive when he'd gotten home--they'd had more important things to do, thank you--and when he'd gotten up on Friday, he hadn't seen the drive out on his work station to remind him to put it away.

So the last time he could consciously remember seeing the hard drive was two days ago. That was...that was very not good. Because it wasn't here now.

"Parker!" he bellowed. "Parker, I need you!"
geniuswithasmartphone: (Age of the Geek)
So, after their discussion in the diner, Hardison had grudgingly agreed to go off to the cliffs with Parker. In case there was ever any doubt how much he loved that girl, let this be the evidence against. That and volunteering to go slug Eliot; he wasn't entirely sure which of those ideas was more stupid, truth be told. Or more dangerous to his soft, squishy manly bits.

Before he left, he got out the hard drive that had the Black Book on it and hooked it up to the Dark Web. Tonight was his night for making super-secure backups, just in case anything happened to the original hard drive. The Black Book was Interpol's most secret file: the name of every person who'd contributed to the global financial crisis and a summary of their criminal activity. It was like a Who's Who of the rich and powerful from almost every country someone could name. Individuals, banking institutions, hedge fund groups--every single person that had helped bring the world's economy to a screeching halt had their name and information in that file.

Interpol and various international agencies had all agreed that they couldn't pursue any of these people, even though their crimes were staggering enough to make what the Leverage crew did look like kids playing pretend. But the combined wisdom of the officials was that it was better to hide the information and try to rebuild trust than to make sure any of their cronies saw the consequences of their actions. Leverage, Inc didn't necessarily agree, which was why they'd stolen the Book. But since that put them directly opposite, oh, damn near every government in the world, Hardison made sure to make semi-regular backups and hid them all over the darker edges of cyberspace.

Couldn't ever be too careful.

Which was why he was leaving the hard drive out on his desk, attached to his computer while he went cliff-jumping with his girlfriend. No, it's not something he'd ever think of doing in any of their other bases, but this was a tiny town spied on by squirrels. What were the odds that anything could go wrong here?

[For two, at least at first! All details of the break-in is NFB, please!]

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