Title: The Carnahan Gene for Luck
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: "Now, Uncle Rick," Sophie said. "You know very well you're not in a position to cast stones." 2400 words.
Spoilers: Leverage post-S3; Mummy Returns with a dash of TODE.
Notes: 24 Days of Ficmas 2011, Day 3: for ldydragon7. Prompt: "More of Seeking That Which Is Lost 'verse. Strange Happens, shenanigans and the rest of the team learning more about what it means to be part of the O'Connell /Carnahan family tree."
"There," Eliot's great-grandfather said, pointing toward a tall, carved wood cabinet standing along one wall of the mansion's library. "I know how you feel about guns these days, so, take your pick."
The library. Of the mansion. With acres of green lawn visible out the windows, stained glass panels in the internal doors, and shelves upon shelves of leather-bound books interspersed with antiquities from all over the world. Hardison might not be much for paper and ink himself, and the loft above the bar in Boston held all the earthly luxuries he could possibly need, but he still felt dwarfed in the presence of so much conspicuous consumption. He'd long suspected Sophie came from some monied name or another across the pond, but even she seemed kinda awed by the place.
Eliot followed the older man's gesture- older, not old, 'cause despite the cane, white hair, and the fact he had to be like a hundred and thirty by the calendar, he acted more energetic than Nate did most days- and strode up to the cabinet, turning the latch and carefully opening its doors.
Nate looked like he'd bitten into something sour as Eliot made reverent noises and lightly ran his fingers over the hilt of a long, curvy looking blade. "Didn't you bring your Hanzo?" he asked.
"'Course I did," Eliot said absently. "It's an awesome sword. But these are something else. Granddad, is this...?"
Rick nodded. "Ardeth Bey's. He willed it to me; his son Ammar brought it a few years back."
"And this one; I remember this from the time we came to visit." Eliot shifted his attention to a straighter sword made from an almost greenish-looking metal, with a narrow guard, a leather-wrapped grip and a fuller running most of the way up the blade. The symbols on the guard almost looked Chinese, but Hardison couldn't place it any further than that; most of his sword terminology came from MMORPGs, and there were some things the gaming manuals and NPCs behind pixelated counters just didn't cover.
"Uh-huh. The Dragon Emperor's," Rick said, raising a slightly knobby hand to press the knuckles against a spot low in his abdomen. "Alex told every one of his grandsons that story, I expect."
"Story?" Hardison's ears perked up at that, and he took a few steps closer to the scary cabinet of sharp and shiny. Before Eliot had introduced Rock O'Connell to the team, getting him to talk about his past had been like pulling teeth. "What story are we talking about?"
Eliot turned to him with a smirk. "One right out of those sci-fi shows you love so much. There's yeti in it, and terracotta emperors, and the whole reason Granddad lived to celebrate his second turn of the century. I know you been driving yourself crazy over that."
"Yeti?" Hardison spluttered. That was fantasy, not sci-fi; didn't Eliot know he was mixing his genres? "Dude, you don't want to tell me, you just gotta say so."
Rick chuckled, a low, rich sound that really did have no business coming from a guy a hundred plus. "He isn't lying. Though seriously, Eliot; we don't know that. It could just be clean living."
"Clean living?" Eliot snorted. "You forget who you're talking to? Besides, how the hell would that explain Uncle Jon?"
Rick made a complicated face at that, then nodded. "Okay. You got me there."
"Now, Uncle Rick," Sophie said, pulling herself away from the Chinese-looking statue she'd been examining with a highly interested eye. "You know very well you're not in a position to cast stones."
Rick shook his head with an amused smile. "I never did understand what your grandmother saw in Jon, you know. She managed to help him keep a grip on his money, and gave him entrée to all the best parties back home, which was a problem after the way he'd left Egypt, China, and Peru... and then she taught his kids to be a bunch of straight-laced, high-instep society ornaments? I'm just glad some of your generation were salvageable. I wouldn't trust anything your mom says about me or your granddad, sweetheart- or Jonathan's behavior when she's in the same room. He knows which side his bread is buttered on. It's not like he can cut ties and go back on the con anymore- he's even older than I am, and showing it, too."
His expression sobered a little, the lines around his mouth softening as he looked at her. "He's only half-kidding about being on his deathbed again, this time."
Sophie gave him a soft smile. "I know," she said. "I still think half your stories must be exaggeration, though. I know I'm good; but no one's that good. Even if all that nonsense about mummies and magic has any truth to it, that sort of luck simply isn't possible."
"I don't know about that," Hardison broke in. "Not that I'm saying I believe in mummies and all. Unless you've got a Youtube video or something for proof. But what else do you call some of the things we've done the last few years, except crazy luck?" He sketched a circle with a pointing finger to include him, Eliot, Sophie, Nate, and Parker where she stood lightly fingering a sparkly-gold Egyptian bust-thing halfway across the room. "C'mon, Sophie. We stole us a whole damn country."
Sophie opened her mouth to object again, then paused and smiled distantly, probably reliving the elaborate death scene she'd pulled off in San Lorenzo. "Point, I suppose."
"Wait, wait," Rick said, raising his eyebrows and turning to Eliot. "Now this is a story I haven't heard."
Eliot winced, pulling away from the sword cabinet with the sheath for one of the swords in his hand. "Remember how you said you didn't want to know anything about my dealings with Damien Moreau?"
Rick paused, then scowled, face darkening dramatically. "I thought you were done with that poisonous little toerag, Eliot."
"Careful, Granddad, your Grandma Evelyn is showing," Eliot snorted. "And, yeah. This time for fucking good. I'm done with that life."
Rick stared at him a long moment, then glanced around at the rest of them, finally meeting Nate's gaze. Nate nodded; and Rick relaxed again, leaning forward a little more obviously on his cane. "Well. Good, then." There was clearly a lot more argument built up there, one he wasn't airing for non-family's sake.
Hardison resolved to ask Sophie about it later, when Eliot wasn't around to growl them quiet. He was sure she'd get the story out of her uncle; she was looking pretty damn curious at the idea of all the family gossip she'd obviously missed out on. He knew how she loved a good drama.
Speaking of dramas. Instinct pricked at the back of his mind; if he'd been running a con on these folks, he'd have waited for just such a scene to make his move in the background. He glanced toward Parker- and caught her giving the same glance around, a tiny, shiny something clasped between his fingers. He widened his eyes and furrowed his brows in her direction, shaking his head as obviously as he dared.
She gave him a tiny pout back, then heaved a dramatic sigh and laid the object back on a shelf, patting it mournfully before taking a deliberate step away and lacing her fingers behind her back.
Damn. Not that he thought she'd deliberately steal from Eliot and Sophie's family- Parker mostly lifted things by force of habit these days, randomly redistributing tiny valuables around the team's apartments when she had nothing better to do- but if she forgot to put something back, here? Yeah, he wasn't going to risk her pissing Eliot off. Or his granddad. Between the two, Hardison wasn't sure which was scarier.
As he broke gazes with her, he noticed a dude with white hair in formal attire opening the doorway from the hall- the butler guy who'd opened the front door an hour ago when they'd arrived. "Hey, guys. We were expecting some more guests?"
Everyone turned to face the door. The butler pursed his lips at Hardison at the preemption, one eyebrow raised disdainfully, then switched his attention to Rick. "The party of Medjai have arrived, sir. Shall I show them to the guest suites?"
"Nah," Rick waved his free hand dismissively. "Tell them we're in the library; they can come right on back. They'll have to leave for Cairo tonight, so there's no time to waste."
"Very good, sir," the butler said, his expression even prissier, if possible. Then he withdrew, closing the door again behind him.
Rick heaved a sigh. "Never could get those guys to stop calling me sir. At least they've dropped the title, these days. If Evie hadn't insisted on such a big house, or if our daughter didn't like the place so much..."
"Is your daughter...?" Nate prompted him, carefully, reintroducing himself to the conversation. He still looked a little put out, whether from the atmosphere reminding him of the bad old times with IYS or the fact that he wasn't the focus of the team's attention, Hardison couldn't guess.
"Yeah," Rick nodded, easily picking up what Nate meant. "She was a late baby; kind of a thank god we're still alive after Shanghai, you know? Alex was twenty-three when she was born, and she's kind of ruled the roost here ever since." He chuckled. "Pity you won't be staying long enough to meet her family this trip; they're on vacation. Maybe on the way back."
"If we make it back," Eliot interrupted darkly as he buckled the sheath of the sword he'd picked into a shoulder harness on his back. "You might think I'm supposed to be the next Medjai in the family, but I'm still not so sure that it's a good idea."
Nate frowned at that. "I keep hearing the word 'Medjai' thrown around as though it was a title, in your case and your grandfather's... but it's also the name of the desert tribes who were supposed to be guarding the dagger we're on our way to Egypt to steal back?"
"It's this whole 'destined Warrior for God' thing," Eliot said, rolling his eyes. "There's this whole challenge and response thing the Bey from Granddad's time did when he saw Granddad's tattoo. Bunch of horseshit, in my opinion. Even if it applied to him, I'm hardly holy guardian material."
"Tattoo?" Parker perked up, trailing fingers down the spines of the books on the nearest shelves as she drifted back toward the group.
"Yeah; here." Rick propped his cane against the nearest table for a moment, then leaned his hip against it as well and carefully worked free the ties on the leather bracer wrapped around one of his forearms. "It's a little faded, now, but see- two kings, the pyramid, the eye? I've had it since I was a kid."
The library door opened again while they were all crowding close for a look, admitting two guys with long dark hair, tattooed cheeks, and the kind of statures that made the robe look a lot less ridiculous than Hardison would have expected given the setting.
"O'Connell," the older one said, with a kind of half-bow of respect, his eyes lingering on the exposed tattoo. Then he glanced around at the rest of them, finally pausing on Eliot. "This is the heir of whom you spoke?"
Rick dropped the bracer on the table and grabbed his cane again, wincing a little as he shifted his weight back to his feet, and took the few steps necessary to drop his hand on Eliot's shoulder. "Yeah. Ammar, this is my great-grandson, Eliot Spencer. Eliot, Ammar Bey."
Eliot looked distinctly uncomfortable at the presentation, to Hardison's practiced eye, but since it was Eliot, that came out more as belligerent than anything else. "Pleasure," he gritted out.
"On my part as well," the Medjai said, politely. Then the other warrior stepped up behind him- a girl warrior, Hardison suddenly noticed- and murmured something in what sounded like Arabic.
Hardison didn't speak the language, but he knew Eliot did, and the man suddenly went pale as Ammar turned to face the girl, both eyebrows arched high. "It is true, then," Ammar replied in English. Then he gestured her forward.
She was pretty, though about as opposite of Eliot's old girlfriend Aimee as possible in the looks department, dark eyed, dark haired, and several shades darker in skin tone. She was smirking a little as she met Eliot's gaze, though, as though she knew how irritated he was. Then she reached out and laid a hand on both Rick's tattoo and Eliot's corresponding bare wrist and closed her eyes, switching languages yet again as she said something sonorous and ominous-sounding.
Eliot made like he was going to yank his arm away, swearing under his breath- then froze, staring down at his wrist in disbelief as light flared between her fingers. Rick swore, too, the moment she let go- then rubbed at the suddenly bare skin there with a snort.
"Now do you believe me?" Rick said to his grandson, quirking an amused smile.
"You didn't have to go to all this production to convince me," Eliot said dryly, rubbing at the mystically inked skin with a disturbed expression. "Really, you shouldn't have." There was something almost relieved in the set of his shoulders, though, which... yeah. Hardison would normally scoff at the thought of Eliot being insecure about anything, but he could see how it might get a little stifling in the shadow of a man like Richard 'Ricochet' O'Connell. Alarming 'magic' shows like that aside.
"Neat. So you got marks like that for all the rest of us?" Hardison teased, slipping easily into the role of diversion. "And hey, what's your name? Only fair everyone else get introduced."
The woman turned toward him, eyeing him up and down with a sly, uncomfortably knowing smile. "Only if you prove worthy of them," she said in lightly accented English. "I am Faiza."
"Call me Alec," he said, smiling warmly back.
A clearing throat reminded him of Parker's presence, and he winced. "Ah, yeah. And this here's Parker, and Sophie, and Nate. And, uh, I guess y'all know Rick?"
She glanced around at the others, amused, then inclined her head. "I look forward to working with you all."