|Next to the Stupid Lion: The Condolences Job
Author: poestheblackcat PM
Eliot is killed during a job, and the rest of the team is left to break the news to his family and try to decipher his will: "Just plant me in the damn garden, next to the 2 old geezers & the stupid lion." Not really a death!fic.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family - Eliot S. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 11,815 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 56 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 07-14-11 - Published: 07-12-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7174773
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I've fallen off of the writing horse lately and my composition skills seem to have deteriorated, as evidenced by that terrible pun at the beginning of this sentence. Still, here I go, plodding along, blazing a trail in a new territory, i.e. Leverage/Secondhand Lions crossover fic.
How in the world has no one thought of writing such a thing? So many things to cross! Christian Kane! Sword fighting! Grumpy (old) men! And, in the deleted scenes of the film, a sequence about how the two old uncles were rumored to be two bandits from the twenties and thirties who robbed banks in Santa Claus outfits. Yeah, that's right. Eliot in "The Ho Ho Ho Job" anyone?
Anyway, I said something about the multitude of crossover opportunities between the show and the movie to VolceVoice, who had a reference to Secondhand Lions in one of her stories (and another to Timothy Hutton as Archie Goodwin in the Nero Wolfe series, but that's another - wonderful - story), and she told me to go for it. So…here goes!
Summary: Eliot is killed during a job, and the rest of the team is left to break the news to his family and try to decipher his will: "Just plant me in the damn garden, next to the 2 old geezers & the stupid lion." Not really a death!fic.
Next to the Stupid Lion: The Condolences Job
Never had they thought that it would ever happen. Sure, they'd feared that it might (in fact, it was even logical to know that it would someday), but that's different from thinking that it ever would, or to consider it as a possibility.
Except did happen. The unthinkable, the unfathomable. They'd all had nightmares about it at one point or another, although none of them would ever own up to it. Losing a member of their team was the worst thing they could imagine, now that they were…a family. It had hurt when Sophie and Nate had left them, but they'd muddled through, knowing that their grifter and mastermind were still alive and safe and would eventually make their way back to the small, oddball family.
They had never considered what would happen if they lost one of their group for good.
They'd thought that the man was indestructible, despite all the evidence to the contrary, when he'd come off of a job bleeding and bruised, or even had to spend a day or two at the hospital. To them, he was invincible, simply because he always got back up.
He was…Eliot. Always there, always having their back, always the winner in any fistfight because he was just that good.
But one day the job went south, so far down south you could hear the mating calls of Emperor Penguins on your way to the South Pole.
That was the day their world skidded to a halt and went up in an inferno of flames.
They tried to contact him for a long while, after Eliot's shout for them all to "Get the hell out of here! Nate, get them out!" and the grunts and sounds of flesh smacking flesh had stopped transmitting through his earpiece (he always hated it when they talked to him while he was fighting), but there was nothing. They shouted themselves hoarse, first sure that he was just catching his breath after an easy fight, then worried that he was unconscious and too far gone to be roused by the four scared voices screaming in his ear. Or maybe the com had been knocked from his ear by a blow. That was always a plausible explanation for why Eliot would suddenly go offline.
Nate controlled his panic first; he silenced them and ordered Hardison to "find him." For exactly twenty-seven seconds, the only sound they could hear though the coms was the tapping of nervous fingers on the keyboard.
Then a bang rocked their world, a seismic explosion that made their eardrums flare in pain from the feedback of their mikes. They all simultaneously flinched and clutched at their abused ears, hunching over in pain. Pain from the realization that one of their number was still in the warehouse that had just fireballed into flaming rubble.
After a horror-filled moment, Sophie gave a ragged gasp that sounded more like a sob than anything, "Hardison? Please tell me he wasn't still in there," she begged, "Please. He couldn't have been."
The strangled plea went unheard, as did those of the others, clamoring into ears that could not hear through the ringing from the assault, until the earpieces were inserted into the other, less damaged ear, one by one.
"Hardison? Was he in there?" Nate asked urgently.
"Eliot's Batman," Parker said resolutely. "He can take it. He can take anything."
"Parker…" Sophie started, but was interrupted by Hardison's shaking voice.
"I'm sorry, guys. He was still in there. The GPS in his com transmitted his last location as inside that warehouse." The hacker's brain finally caught up to what he had just said. "Oh, Lord, no. No, no, no, no, no. This is not happening. This can not be happening. This is Eliot, man. He had to've…He…I'm gonna check the security tapes again. He's got to be somewhere not there…" He trailed off, his voice replaced by frantic typing.
"Everybody back to the van. Now," Nate eventually said, the slight wobble in his voice detectable only by a careful listener. "We have to get out of here while we still can."
"We can't leave Eliot," Parker exclaimed.
"Parker, van, now."
"But we can't leave him behind. He wouldn't leave us."
"He's gone, Parker," Sophie said wearily for the fifty-seventh time in the week since the rest of the shaken team had left the warehouse complex behind them, burning like Atlanta during Sherman's March to the Sea.
She'd surprised herself with her reaction to Eliot's death. First of all, she had never before allowed anyone to get as close to her heart as this team had. She had always thought (in the very rare moments that she allowed the dramatic thought to cross her mind at all) that if any one of them died, she would react in one of two ways: with dramatic hysterics, or the complete opposite, with dry-eyed, practical stoicism.
She had never thought that she would simply allow the tears to fall quietly, without trying to attract attention to them, or to hide them; they merely were. It wouldn't have done the hitter justice for her to carry on like Lady Capulet over the slain Tybalt's corpse, nor could she suppress the tears of grief caused by deep maw in her soul such that she had never felt before, or cared to ever feel again. It wasn't as if she was in love with him, but she did care deeply for him, like she cared for Hardison and Parker…but not quite like she loved Nate. She and Nate…they were complicated.
They were family, and with Eliot gone, they were all out of sync, a broken machine that needed that single crucial piece to make it work smoothly again.
"Where?" asked the blonde thief from her seat perched on the arm of Nate's sofa. Her swinging legs thumped rhythmically against the leather side of the couch.
Hardison stopped typing, and turned to squint at her. "What?"
"Where'd he go?" Parker repeated, tilting her head like a little blonde bird.
"It's just a phrase, Parker," Nate answered, staring into his glass of amber liquid. "It means he's dead."
"Oh." Parker pursed her lips, contemplating this new piece of information, a thoughtful expression on her face.
"I'd like to think he's in Heaven, watching over us, protecting us like he always has. Wouldn't that be nice?" said Sophie with a falsely bright smile made all the more painful by red-rimmed eyes.
"Actually," Hardison said, "as much as my Nana says good people go to Heaven - and I really want us all to be the good guys - I wouldn't want him looking over my shoulder while I'm diggin' into his past, know what I mean? Man was fierce about his privacy. I don't wanna do this, Nate," he added, his actions belying his words, as he continued tapping and clicking on his laptop, hiding behind his screen in his own way of coping with the sudden death of his best friend.
"We have to find out if there's anyone we should notify," Nate said morosely, tossing the whiskey back in one fluid movement. This ache in his heart was familiar; he hadn't realized that he had come to see Eliot as sort of a cross between a son and a brother until the dread had torn into his gut at the sound of the explosion through the hitter's com. This feeling of utmost guilt and grief - he was about to deliver it to Eliot's own family, possibly a father and a mother who loved their son the way Nate had loved his. He hoped they loved him, for Eliot's sake. "Keep going."
"Alright," Hardison sighed. "I'm ready."
He set up the briefing, hoping he would be able to keep it businesslike, professional, impersonal, like Eliot was just another mark or vic - no, he couldn't think of Eliot as a victim when he had been anything but.
"Here we go. I had to go waaaay back, I mean, whew! He's been in the business a long time." He pointed the remote clicker at the six plasma wide-screens on the wall and the team (minus one) settled in. "Okay. Eliot Spencer, also known as Abraham Wheeler, aka Wick Lobo, 'Wolf' or 'High Wolf' - like the man wasn't scary enough all by his lonesome without all the 'wolf' names - Jack Chase, Peter Prentiss - know what? He had a lotta aliases, aiight? And each one's got a scarier rep than the last." He clicked again.
The snapshot of Eliot glowering through his bangs at the photographer (most likely Hardison) transitioned into a much older one of two young boys standing with two ancient men in front of what looked like an old farmhouse. One of the blue-jeaned men had placed a wrinkled, work-hardened hand affectionately on the shoulder of the tousled-haired boy who was obviously Eliot from thirty years ago, and they were all grinning happily at the camera, a stark contrast from the scowl of the previous picture.
Hardison pointed the laser beam on his clicker at the older boy. "Meet Hubbard Coleman, called 'Hub' by friends and family - "
Parker interrupted with a snort. "Hub? No wonder he never told us his real name." She giggled. "It's weird."
Hardison glared at her and started again. "Like I was sayin' before Parker interrupted, this is Hub Coleman, oldest of three, parents Walter and Celia, born in New Braunfels, Texas on December 7, 1974. Look at that goofy smile and those little overalls. Ain't that cute. He was about eleven or twelve here. That's his brother Garth with him, and the two old guys are his uncles or great-uncles or something. These guys. There's all these crazy rumors about them in their day, man."
Hardison would have continued on that line of thought, but Nate cleared his throat, motioning for him to move on, while Parker alternated between giggling and bouncing on the couch, singing, "Hub-Hub-Hub-bub-bub-a-bub" under her breath the whole time. Sophie put a hand on her knee to settle her down.
"I'm just doin' my job, bein' all thorough and stuff," the hacker mumbled as he clicked, and several windows of forms, type-written pages, and school photos popped up on the screens. "Hub's...Eliot's...whatever. His school records. Football, wrestling team, dated all the cheerleaders - and I mean all - coulda gone to his choice of a buncha colleges on sports scholarships but didn't even apply. He decided to join the Army instead for some reason I cannot imagine."
A uniformed and still teenaged Eliot gazed seriously out at the team. "His records from then on are closed, locked, and sealed, but o' course, I'm awesome, so I unsealed, unlocked, and opened them back up so y'all can take a look at 'em if y'all're curious. And there ya go. CIA, Special Forces, Black Ops, Lebanese army, Japanese security, buncha private armies all over the world, mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia - you name it, he's done it. I didn't know he freelanced for IYS, too," Hardison said, looking askance at Nate, who shrugged.
"Worked together a few times. Worked against him more."
"Oh." Hardison digested that morsel of information and went on, "And here's when he started working for Moreau."
The team furrowed their brows at the mention of their former nemesis. Parker glared at the pictures on the screen and thumped her heels even harder against Nate's sofa, making a sizeable dent in it.
Another series of official-looking documents and grainy photographs filed onto the screens in rapid succession, too fast for them to register anything aside from the fact that it amounted to a lifetime of violent secrets. "There's a trail of bodies, dead ones, so I ain't gonna dig nomore because the man was scary alive, lot scarier than I thought, and I really don't need him haunting my black ass. But the dead bodies mostly stopped after '02 when he left San Lorenzo."
"And Moreau," the team silently added. "Good for him."
Nate took a small sip from his refilled glass. Some of this, he'd already known, but the rest wasn't too much of a stretch for him to believe. "His family," he said, "Are they still alive?"
"Oh yeah," Hardison replied, tapping a few buttons on his phone, "they're still around. Except for his momma." A black-and-white newspaper quality photograph of a seated blonde woman appeared on the screen, eyes closed and a gentle smile on her lips, caught forever in a moment of serenity, plucking out a song on the guitar in her hands.
"Ooh, she's preeeeettttty," Parker cooed. "Her hair looks so soft! You think he learned how to play from her?"
"Probably," Hardison said. "She was a music teacher. Died 'bout ten years back, cancer. This photo's from her obit. Eliot's daddy Walter still lives in a small town just outside of New Braunfels. He's a cartoon artist."
"A music teacher and a cartoon artist?" Sophie exclaimed. "That's so bloody normal. How the hell do you get an Eliot out of that equation?"
"There's those two crazy uncles I was tellin' y'all about, but the rest of the family's just as normal as apple pie. Look." The hacker clicked again. "Garth Coleman is two years younger than Hub, is an accountant, and married Savannah White, a Baptist minister's daughter, in '03 (Eliot was the best man, by the way, look at him, all happy and proud and stuff). They've got two little kids. Eliot's sister Jasmine is a schoolteacher. Second grade. That's her. Man, I wish my teachers were this hot." He paused to gaze in approval at the smiling young woman with long, honey-brown hair standing amidst a group of small children.
"Hardison," Sophie and Nate said together, disapproval evident in their voices. "You're drooling," the grifter added.
"Ooh," Parker squealed, "Eliot's gonna kill you." She grinned. "Maybe he'll let me watch!"
Hardison twitched and gave a quick glance behind him and around the room, as if making sure that the hitter really wasn't there. "Anyway," he said, "Here's Walter Coleman's address and phone number. So how we gonna tell him we got his son killed? We callin' or goin'?"
"I'm telling him," Nate said. "You're all staying here," he added firmly.
The immediate exclamations of "But I wanna go, too," "You can't go alone, you simply can't," and "You got another think comin' if you thinkin' o' leavin' us here!" told him exactly what the rest of the team thought of his plan.
AN: I killed Eliot, oh, yes I did! Evil me.