Title: The You're Welcome Job (Part 11)
Word Count: 943
Summary: At the eleventh hour, Eliot and Lindsey come to an understanding. Two simple words wind up saying all that needs to be said.
Lindsey didn't turn around – he knew better than to turn his back on Eliot. But he raised his voice and spoke, "Mr. Ford. Have I taken up too much of your time?"
"You're getting there," said Nate evenly, standing a few feet behind Lindsey. "Eliot."
"Yeah." Lindsey saw Eliot all but forcing himself to relax, to calm down.
"I'll live." With an almighty effort, Eliot forced himself to walk past Lindsey without throwing a punch and rejoin Nate. "Sorry."
Lindsey turned just in time to see Nate smile in sympathy, clap Eliot companionably on the shoulder. That was all it took for the fight to go out of Eliot. Just like that, the beast was back on the chain, and he was looking at his brother.
"Go on," said Nate, subtly nudging Eliot back towards the van. "Hardison's already made hotel reservations. We all need sleep."
Eliot nodded, and looked back at Lindsey. "See you around, Linds. Since you don't have the decency to stay dead, after all."
Lindsey smiled and shook his head. Oh, Eliot, he thought, almost pitying his twin.
"I have one more thing to say," was what he said out loud, as Nate and Eliot turned to leave again. "Before you go."
"Is it gonna make me want to hit you again?" growled Eliot, without turning around.
"Probably not, but you always were short tempered."
"Heh." Eliot almost sounded amused. He still did not turn around, although Nate was watching Lindsey curiously now. "So, what is it?"
"I lied to you."
"One last time." Lindsey closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and said the words that would change everything. "Wolfram and Hart never sent me."
There was a pause. A long, drawn out, tense pause before Eliot looked back.
"What? What are you talking about? Of course they sent you. Who else could have done this to you?"
Lindsey did not reply. Despite his frequent claims to the contrary, Eliot was a smart man. He'd figure it out.
When he finally did, his eyes went wide with disbelief. "Are you actually going to try and tell me that the PTB…"
"The what?" asked Nate helplessly.
"Powers that Be." Which wasn't much of an explanation, but anything further would take too long. Eliot silently promised to explain later, but right now there were bigger issues standing in front of him, wearing his face. "Why would the Powers that Be bring you back? Of all the good people who have ever died, why would they…"
"I had the necessary skill set to get the job done," said Lindsey simply.
"They wanted your boss out of jail." Lindsey jerked a thumb at Nate. "They wanted you guys back in the game." He shrugged airily. "When push comes to shove, sometimes the PTB take care of their champions."
"We're not champions," said Eliot flatly, and at that Lindsey laughed bitterly.
"What? You think that just because you don't save the world from fiery destruction once a week, you're not champions?"
Eliot could not think of a way to reply to that, and Lindsey smiled. "Trust me on this. They don't spring for a temporary resurrection for anyone but the best."
"…temporary?" asked Eliot quietly.
Ah, damn it. Lindsey hadn't quite meant to say it like that. He hadn't quite meant to say it at all. He knew Eliot had suspected. Judging by the way that Nate was suddenly staring at him, they'd all suspected. He still hadn't meant to bring it up. Nothing to do about it, now.
I'm almost out of time, anyway.
"In other words, I'm afraid I won't be able to indulge in Parker's very generous invitation to join your little band of vigilantes," was what he finally said out loud.
"That's too bad," said Eliot.
Impossibly enough, he sounded as though he meant it.
"Yes," said Nate, watching his hitter carefully. "That really is too bad."
"I'll see you, then," said Eliot bitterly.
"Let's hope not." Lindsey smiled, trying to be reassuring about it. "Even though I can never help pushing your buttons, it was good to see you."
And his twin sounded as though he meant that, too. Times really have changed, Lindsey thought wonderingly. He glanced pointedly at Nate, who took the hint and laid a hand on Eliot's shoulder, making to guide him away.
Eliot resisted for just a moment, just long enough to take one last look at Lindsey and speak to his twin one last time.
"Thank you," he whispered.
Lindsey hadn't realized until those two small words were spoken that he'd been waiting to hear them all day. It wasn't just gratitude. It was forgiveness. At the eleventh hour, forgiveness.
"You're welcome," he said simply.
Here and now, that was all that needed to be said.
Eliot allowed Nate to lead him back to the truck, back to his team, back to his friends. He kept his head bowed, his shoulders were shaking, and Lindsey knew that his brother was trying desperately to hold himself back, keep himself together.
Lindsey watched them until they reached the truck, watched the team as it was finally, honestly reunited. More than a team, he finally decided, remembering what he'd seen in the restaurant and watching them now. No questions were asked. No details were needed. Nate, Parker, Hardison, and Sophie simply did their best to quietly comfort Eliot over the death of a man five years ago.
A family, he realized. The ties that bind will get you far in life.
His brother was in good hands.
That was his last thought before he faded.