Finding a place, in the back end of the town that time forgot, to find a beer was always a tricky proposition. Dragging Hardison's ass away from the limited wi-fi access at the motel was even more difficult. Halfway through his first beer Eliot wondered if it was worth the effort because Hardison had not stopped complaining from the moment he sat down. Maybe Parker would've been a better choice.
"Don't you ever shut up?" Eliot asked wearily.
Hardison rolled his eyes and started to launch into a monologue about freedom of speech, but at least it was a new topic. Eliot scanned the bar from their place at a back table. It was relatively quiet for a Tuesday night, and the crowd didn't seem like it was inclined to be rowdy. Eliot approved, he didn't like to have to be a bouncer on his nights off.
Some movement at the front of the bar got Eliot's attention. Two new patrons had arrived; Eliot couldn't help from grinning when he recognized the shorter of the two tall men. "No way."
Hardison stopped in mid-sentence and leaned forward to get a better look. "Friends of yours?" Not recognizing either of the men, Alex sat back into his chair behind the post that obstructed his view.
"Something like that," Eliot replied noncommittally. He shook his head as he watched Dean and his friend stop at the bar. Dean ordered two beers and waited for the drinks while the taller man headed toward the rest room. Eliot didn't get up from the table knowing that Dean would seek out an out of the way place to sit and would spot Eliot in the process.
As Dean made his way closer to the table he shared with Hardison, Eliot was absolutely not thinking of some cheese-tastic thing to say like, "Fancy meeting you here." Eliot watched as Dean scanned the room, and was ready with a 100-watt smile when Dean finally laid eyes on him.
Dean's surprised and welcoming grin was everything Eliot hoped it would be which was why he was caught off guard when Dean's expression immediately changed. Eliot was rising from his chair with a hand outstretched to greet Dean when Dean literally tossed the beers aside and growled "Jake".
Dean did grab Eliot's proffered hand, but only long enough to yank him out of the way so he could have a clear shot at Hardison. Moving with a swiftness Eliot had never attributed to him, Dean kicked the table clear and attacked. Hardison was lucky that in his rage Dean hadn't reached for a weapon; the one thing working in Eliot's favor was Dean's determination to inflict pain instead of going for the kill.
Hardison, unprepared for the wholly unanticipated and unprovoked attack, did the smartest thing he could – he made himself as small a target as possible. He had the advantage of having his back to the wall, so he did his best to protect his head and groin. Nevertheless, Dean got in a few solid kicks and punches before Eliot was able to intervene.
"Jesus, Dean!" Eliot grabbed Dean's right arm as he drew it back to strike again and was dismayed when Dean shook him off like he was no more trouble than a flea. One well aimed kick to Eliot's midsection sent the smaller man flying. Eliot rebounded instantly, and instead of trying to stop Dean's motion, he used his momentum against him.
Sprinting across the open space, Eliot threw himself on top of Dean while wrapping his arms around the larger man. The two of them crashed into Hardison – between the close quarters and Eliot's vice-like grip, Dean didn't have the ability to pound on Hardison. But that didn't stop him from using his legs.
A well placed knee had Hardison groaning in pain. Eliot did his best to tangle Dean's legs with his own, throwing their combined weight to the left, sending them crashing to the floor. Eliot made a split second decision, releasing Dean and jumping to a defensive position in front of Hardison. Dean regained his feet almost as quickly.
Eliot knew that by the way Dean reacted, but the way he was still reacting, that he wasn't thinking clearly. Only a few seconds had passed, and the patrons of the bar didn't seem to be inclined to get involved, but it wouldn't be long before Dean's companion came back. Eliot needed to get Dean to think, he only hoped he could talk him down quickly enough and get through.
"Get outta my way." Dean demanded, looking past Eliot to Hardison.
"Dean…" Eliot seized on the name Dean had uttered when this whole scene started. "This is not who you think it is."
Dean advanced; Eliot's concern grew. He really didn't want to have to break Dean's neck. "You killed my brother you son of a bitch!"
Eliot threw a right hook that rocked Dean back on his heels. Now he had all of Dean's attention. Eliot moved right into Dean's space keeping his hands out, never losing eye-contact, willing Dean to hear him. "His name ain't Jake, I swear to God."
At this proximity, Eliot could feel the coiled tension Dean was straining to contain; he could feel the heat of the rage that had Dean in its grip. Eliot could see the battle Dean was waging in his eyes – every fiber of his being told him this was the man who killed his brother, but Eliot told him it was not. He didn't know whether to trust his senses or to trust Eliot.
Dean's gaze flicked away for half a second, and when he looked back Eliot could see that the tide of the battle had turned in his favor. He repeated low and steady, pouring every ounce of sincerity that he had into his voice. "His name ain't Jake."
That would've been the end of it, but Dean's friend chose that moment to come out of the bathroom and Hardison had to chime in, "I am not the droid you are looking for."
Yep, asking Parker for a beer would've been the better way to go.