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 vdistinctive and whoisalicewhite]