Summary: Written for comment-fic at LJ. Prompt: Leverage/Into the West, Eliot Spencer & Abe High Wolf, he inherited the wandering spirit from his great-grandfather.

I may have taken the "spirit" part of this prompt much too literally…Also, why is it that every one out of three times that I fill a comment fic prompt, it runs over six pages? This one? Ten pages on Word. *facepalm*

Title from a Kane song of the same name about being Native American (Cherokee in the song, but Abe Wheeler is half Lakota) and having to deal with racism from his girlfriend's father (recommended solution: shoot him and elope with the girl [What? That's what the song says]).


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Spirit Boy

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"I found us a client!"

It's their last day in the small, sleepy town in Nevada and Parker's exclamation isn't exactly what they want to hear.

"Who is it?" Hardison asks, although he doesn't really want to know. The job they've just finished hadn't exactly gone off without a hitch, and they (Eliot especially) are nursing quite a few bruises as a result.

"It's Ghost Eliot!"

The grin on Parker's face is unnervingly…unnerving.

Sophie recovers first. "Huh?" (Or not.)

"Parker," Nate begins, but trails off, turning to their hitter instead. "Eliot, are you alive?" he asks, rubbing his forehead.

Eliot looks at Nate. An eyebrow goes up. "Yes," he replies evenly.

"See, Parker?" Nate says, "Eliot's alive. That means he can't be a ghost. Now explain."

"You know how there aren't any really tall buildings in town?" the blonde thief begins with barely suppressed excitement, "I wanted to rappel, so I went exploring. I found a nice high cliffy cliff, but then," she pauses dramatically, "just as I was about to jump off of the edge, I saw a ghost."

"Ghost Eliot," Nate says wearily.

"Yeah," Parker says in a carrying whisper.

"So this ghost," Hardison says with budding excitement, "he just stood there? He do anything? Like try to kill you? 'Cause ghosts, they usually try to do that."

"He yanked on my line before I could jump. And then he glared at me!" Parker tells them indignantly, leveling a glare of her own at Eliot, who throws his hands up in a silent defense. Wasn't me. I'd let you jump.

"He yanked on your line," Sophie repeats, clearly unbelieving, "like he was trying to pull you down?"

"No," Parker says, "like he didn't want me to jump off! But that's stupid, because that's what I was doing up there in the first place."

"Guys," Hardison says from behind his laptop, "There are reports of a ghost who appears on that cliff - about two and a half miles east of town, right?"

Parker nods.

"Yeah," Hardison continues, "The spirit of a man haunts the cliff and appears whenever someone gets too close to the edge. Accidents, attempted suicides, he just shows up and saves them. They say he started appearing sometime in the last century. Here's an account: 'I slid off of the edge, but at the last minute, someone grabbed my hand and pulled me up. He was really strong. It was this guy with long hair, and he was wearing these really old-fashioned clothes. He smiled at me. And then he just kinda disappeared.' So yeah, real live ghost haunting here in this town. But we know it ain't Eliot because he don't smile."

Eliot scowls in reply.

"You guys have to come," Parker says. "I think he needs our help."

"Hold on a minute," Nate says, raising a finger. "Now, this is a ghost, Parker. We don't help ghosts. Ghosts don't exist."

Parker makes the face she uses when she's confused. "They don't? Oh. Oookay." That makes sense, too. It must be a normal people thing to not believe in ghosts.

"Wait a minute, Parker," Hardison says, "Now you agreeing with him? You didn't know about the Eliot-ghost before going out to the cliff, right?"

Parker shakes her head and Eliot scowls again at the misuse of his name, but otherwise keeps quiet.

"So that means the ghost is real!" Hardison exclaims, excited. "We gotta go check it out!"

"Hardison," Nate says reprovingly, "we are not going ghost hunting."

"We can be like the Ghostfacers!" Hardison continues, completely ignoring Nate. "You have no idea how cool this is!"

He starts pulling things out of one bag and stuffing them into another; gizmos, wires, batteries - a variety of electronic gadgets make their way into what Hardison immediately dubs his Ghost Hunting Duffel. He mutters something about a salt'n'burn, and sends Parker out to steal salt.

Nate, Sophie, and Eliot watch him "prepare" in characteristically different ways. Nate sips from his glass and snorts once in a while, Sophie purses her lips and looks thoughtful, and Eliot leans back in the motel armchair, with his customary glower firmly set on his face and his arms tightly crossed.

Parker flounces back in with an immense restaurant-size canister of salt. It disappears into the Ghost Hunting Duffel.

And now they're set to go.

Hardison's grinning, nearly bouncing off of the walls, and Parker's just glad that someone normal believes in her normal. Just as they're reaching for the door to the accompaniment of the ice clinking in Nate's glass, there's a grunt and Eliot's making his way to them, saying, "If there's gonna be any huntin' goin' on, the two of you need a babysitter. I don't trust ya ta come home alive."

"Hmm," Sophie says, and stands up, brushing invisible dust off of her pants. "I'd better come along, too. You might need someone with a touch of the Sight, if you're dealing with a ghost."

Nate chuckles into his whiskey.

Eliot arches a brow at her. "You're a psychic."

She smiles mysteriously. "I could be," she says as she brushes by him. Parker's grin widens into manic territory and Hardison's isn't that much saner.

Eliot shakes his head at their expressions and looks at Nate expectantly.

"Oh, don't bother," Sophie sniffs, "He's not coming. Skeptic."

Nate's face twists into a smirk. "On the contrary, I'm curious. Lead the way, Parker."

"Mm-mm," says Sophie, giving the glass in his hand a pointed look, "That stays here."

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"You believe in ghosts, don't you, Eliot?" asks Hardison from his seat wedged between Parker and the door of their rented sedan, "That's the real reason why you wanted to come with us. Huh? Isn't it?"

Eliot looks at him from the other side of Parker. "Well, you don't go too long in my line of work without running into one every now and then," he replies evenly after a long pause. "People I've killed, people who tried to kill me."

Hardison's eyes bug out. "Seriously?"

Eliot tilts his head at him. "No."

Parker snorts.

"What?"

"Nothing," she says. "Turn left here, Nate."

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They stand at the edge of the cliff, looking down into the ravine.

"Think he died here?" asks Hardison.

"If he did, it probably sucked," Parker replies brightly. "That pile of rocks down there is approximately 125 feet down, so if he didn't hit his head and die instantly, it probably took him a couple of days to die, depending on how injured he was. And he probably had one broken leg at least."

The others look at her oddly before shrugging and returning their gazes to the rocks below them. Typical Parker.

All except for Eliot, who feels a familiar tingling sensation on the back of his neck. He turns, slowly, so as not to alert the others, until he's face to face with Parker's ghost.

"Hey Eliot," Hardison begins, then shrieks when he sees the apparition in front of Eliot, making the others turn around quickly to see what the matter is. And then he shrieks again for the heck of it.

"Guys," Eliot says quietly, "I want you to meet my great-grandfather, Abe Wheeler."

The ghost does look like Eliot, but there are differences. When side by side with his descendant, certain facial characteristics, mostly around his eyes and nose, belie his stronger Native American blood, and although physically less substantial than his living counterpart, his tanned skin has a darker olive tone to it. Abe had been a couple of decades older than Eliot when he'd died, as evidenced by the silver in his hair and the lines on his face, but the ghost's body is built as solidly as his descendant's. The long hair is plaited into two braids under the battered hat, which shades the brown eyes that look into Eliot's blue.

Abe nods, and looks at Parker. An eyebrow goes up, an eerily familiar gesture.

"I'm not that crazy," she insists, "I had a rope."

Sophie finds her voice. "Your great-grandfather?" she asks. "H-how do you know? I mean, obviously, there's the well," she gestures at the two of them, "family resemblance, but how do you know it's him and not some distant uncle or cousin?"

Eliot shrugs. "We never knew what happened to him. He never came home. My Gramma always said he would've if he'd been alive, so when he didn't turn up for more than five years, she knew he was dead. Guess we know for sure now," he says, looking out across the edge of the cliff. "Hell of a way to go."

"Your grandmother?" Nate asks, staring at the ghost, who shouldn't exist, yet is quite obviously almost-there.

"Abe's daughter, Rebecca," Eliot says.

That gets a reaction out of the ghost. He steps forward, hands out. "Rebecca," he mouths, "Wacahpi-Ile."

Eliot stares for a moment, at a loss for what to say to the spirit. "She's dead now," he starts, but at the flash of grief on Abe's face, quickly adds, "She lived to see a hundred, had eight kids, and so many grandkids and great-grandkids I don't know all their names."

Abe frowns at him, perplexed.

"It's been a long time," Eliot says gently. "You've been here a long time. They've been waitin' for you for over a hundred years."

Abe looks down at his feet, for the first time seeing the ground through his worn leather boots. He looks around at the trees, the rocks around him, changed so much, yet so little since he had died here. He looks at his great-grandson, seeing himself in the man, seeing (hoping to see) his wife and daughter in him, looking deeper and recognizing the wandering spirit of the Wheelers strong in him.

"You've been here a long time," Eliot repeats. "It's time you went home, Abe."

Abe nods. He walks over to the edge of the ledge he'd slipped off of one dark, rainy night, when he had been finding his way to a new town to spend the night. He points down, then points to himself.

"You're still down there?" Eliot walks up next to him, yet steps respectfully back when the older man waves him away from the edge. "We'll get you back up, get you where you belong."

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They learn more about Eliot's family that day than they have in all the years they've worked with him.

As they work to find Abe Wheeler's remains and bring them up to level ground (with Abe hovering worriedly beside them in the beginning before Parker forcibly assures him that they're completely safe by abruptly jumping off the edge of the cliff, her line zipping along behind her), Eliot starts telling Abe all the memories he has of his Gramma. He begins with how she had taught all her children and grandchildren to never forget where they had come from, that they are part Lakota and part Virginia, just as she had always been told by her father.

He tells the family stories about Jacob Wheeler and his wife Thunder Heart Woman, and their children, Margaret, Abe, Jacob Jr., (and also their half-sister, Corn Flower), where they had gone, what they had done, where they had ended up. Abe understands that this part of the narrative is for the benefit of Eliot's friends, since he already knows it. He listens with a small smile on his face as his great-grandson paints him as a great American hero, with tales of adventures as a rider for the Pony Express, a worker on the Transcontinental Railroad, and how Great-Grandfather Abe had ridden for Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows, with all the enthusiasm of the small boy he must have been when the stories had first been told to him.

Then the tales turn back to those Abe doesn't know, as Eliot tells his great-grandfather about the man he'd been named after, the man Rebecca Star Light Wheeler had married. He tells him that he'd been a good man who had treated his wife with respect and given his children everything he had in him. He tells of how Rebecca had loved Eliot Campbell until the day she'd died, decades after his death.

Eliot talks about how his Gramma had singled him out one day, looked deep into his eyes and told him that of all his brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and uncles, he, the youngest of his generation, had the wandering spirit the strongest in him. The way she'd said it, it was as if she didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but even then, he'd known that she'd be proud of him no matter where the spirit took him.

He tells Abe that she had given him the wooden medicine wheel necklace that day. He says that he doesn't carry it because it's so old and fragile that he's afraid of breaking it, but he assures his ancestor that it's his most prized possession, and that he intends to pass it on to the next wanderer in his family to keep them safe and bring them home to their loved ones.

As he tells the stories, the pile of yellowed, cracked bones on the blanket at their feet grows bigger, gradually, until Abe nods, satisfied that enough of him is there. He knows that only the larger, less-gnawed upon bones have been discovered, dug out of rodents' nests and tiny nooks and crannies. He knows that not every single piece of him may ever be found, but it's enough to allow him to rest.

He manages to relay to Rebecca's grandson that he wants his ashes scattered. The book of matches is about to be thrown onto the bones (drenched in the lighter fluid that Hardison quite conveniently had in his duffel bag), when Parker steps forward, a brown object nestled in her hands.

"I found this," she says quietly, "It's yours, isn't it? It was in a hole behind a bunch of rocks."

The spirit of Abe Wheeler reaches out to take the old leather bag, hardened by time yet miraculously intact after so long, but stills an inch away from it. He knows without touching it that his hand will only go through the bag, so he looks at his descendant, his heir.

"Yours."

Exchanging a long look with Abe, Eliot steps forward and respectfully takes the surprisingly heavy pouch out of Parker's hands. The stiff, moldy leather cracks and flakes away as he opens it as carefully as he can. The team gasps around him as he pulls out something hard and knobby that glints yellow in the afternoon sun.

There, in his palm, is a solid gold nugget only slightly smaller than a golf ball.

Abe mouths something, but Eliot can't quite catch what it is, except for the first word, his grandmother's name.

"What?"

Sophie steps in. "'Rebecca's dowry,'" she translates. "He meant it to be his daughter's dowry, but she never got it," she says sadly. "She never knew. That nugget has got to be worth at least ten thousand now."

Eliot ghosts his thumb over the cold yellow metal. "It woulda been a real nice dowry," he tells Abe softly, "Though to tell the truth, I think she'd rather've had you back than all the gold in the world."

Abe gives him a sad, crooked smile.

When Eliot moves his hand again, something rattles inside the old leather pouch. He pulls the drawstring open once more with a frown, taking care not to tear it. He feels inside the bag for whatever it was that had made the sound and grasps the long, thin something between his fingers.

Hardison draws back squeamishly with a squeak when Eliot shows them what looks to him like a piece of bone, darkened by time. Parker makes a disappointed sound because it's obviously just a stick (wood, not bone, silly). Sophie watches Eliot's expression, while Nate keeps a curious eye on Abe.

Thus, it's Sophie who sees the moment when Eliot realizes the significance of this tiny sliver of wood, and Nate who sees the pride blossom across the spirit's face.

"This," Eliot says with barely-suppressed excitement, picking the two-inch long splinter up carefully, "Is this…?" he asks the ghost, getting a pleased, crinkle-eyed nod in reply. "No way!"

"What is it?" Parker asks, extending a long, slender finger to poke at it, intrigued despite its lack of shininess. Hardison inches closer, having gotten over his initial "Holy shit! That's bone! That friggin' nasty!" reaction.

The last time Sophie had seen such a look of awe on Eliot's face was when she and Nate had given him the Hanzo sword for Christmas. "It's a piece from the last railroad tie put down on the Transcontinental Railroad," he exclaims, eyes blown wide open with wonder. "I can't believe he still had it!"

"Seriously?" Nate says, coming closer to examine the splinter of ordinary-looking wood.

"Yeah!" Eliot replies, a grin on his face. "Remember I told you guys he worked on the railroad? He took a piece of it the day they put in the last spike, as proof that he was there and how they can't ever take that away from him."

He looks at Abe, then back down at the objects in his hand. He slips the gold nugget into the leather pouch, then nestles the fragile piece of wood next to it so that it won't get crushed by the heavy metal.

"Hey," he starts tentatively, and clears his throat, "I got a niece who's gettin' married soon. She studied American History in college, and I know she'd love this, especially this piece from the railroad tie. Do you mind if I give it to her? I mean, you meant the gold as sort of a wedding present for your daughter, right? And my niece, her name's Rebecca, too."

Abe nods his silent consent, brown eyes shining their approval of this blue-eyed, mostly wasicu descendant.

Eliot smiles back. "Okay," he says, "So. Ready now?"

Hardison is wholly unprepared for the lack of resistance from the not-evil spirit. Because you know, in stories and things, ghosts usually don't want to get put to rest. Right? So when Abe Wheeler simply watches the matches fall onto his remains with just a touch of (morbid) fascination, he's surprised. Not screaming, no telekinesis, nothing.

Abe High Wolf just fades away. But right before he completely disappears, they see flash of pure bliss pass over his face.

Once he's gone, Hardison clears his throat, hands in the pockets of his jeans. "Turns out I was racist," he starts, prompting the team to stare at him, flabbergasted. "Against ghosts," he clarifies. "I thought they were all evil an' all and needed to be put down. Like y'know, monsters." Eliot stares at him and an eyebrow slowly rises up onto his forehead. "But your great-granddaddy was actually pretty awesome."

"Ooh," Parker warns in a loud whisper, "That's Eliot's 'somethin' wrong with you' face," the preeminent expert in that particular expression chirps.

Sophie chuckles and walks over to Eliot to give him a soft one-armed hug and a peck on his cheek. "I think he's with his family now," she says. "He looked happy. Thank you for sharing this day with us, Eliot."

Nate claps the hitter's shoulder twice and turns wordlessly away to walk to the car, parked just off the dirt road, Sophie falling into place beside him. Hardison follows, as does Parker after a quick shoulder bump. "I still like the gold better," she tells him seriously, making him snort.

Now alone, Eliot watches the embers die down with a pensive expression.

"Pilayamaye Mitunkasila Wakatu-Ya-Sumanitu-Taka," he says softly. "Asnikiye."

Then he turns to follow his teammates, the leather pouch with its hidden treasures safe in his hand.

When Eliot returns early the next morning to scatter the ashes, he finds a circle with four spokes in it scratched into the dirt beside the remains of the fire.

After Eliot Gray Wolf Spencer does his funereal duty and departs, the medicine wheel slowly disappears, as the wind scatters the dust out into the canyon.

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Translations (literally, from a Lakota translation site):

Wacahpi-Ile = Star Light (didn't italicize because it's a name)

Wasicu = White person

Pilayamaye Mitunkasila Wakatu-Ya-Sumanitu-Taka = Thank you, Grandfather High Wolf

Asnikiye = Rest

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AN: Abe's age: Here's what I could figure out from the dates of actual events and the order of the scenes (and Wikipedia. I love Wikipedia). I started with the Pony Express because it was in operation only from 1860-61, and they didn't want riders over 18 years of age. With Abe at 18 at the oldest in 1860, that makes his birth year sometime around 1842. That is, if he didn't lie about his age (because Chris Kane from 2005 does not look 18). Abe worked on the Transcontinental Railroad (1863-69) (and here I giggle, because part of the Central Pacific railroad [the RR that he worked on] went through the Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevadas, and Kane was in a movie called The Donner Party [with his buddy Clayne Crawford, who plays Quinn on Leverage]). That makes him about 21-27 during that time. That's where Into the West ends for Abe.

This is the part I made up: He had a bunch of adventures, including happening to be in Tombstone, AZ during the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1881) (in-joke [Tombstone was quoted in Leverage] because it amuses me, m'kay?), until he settled down in the early 1880s (~40 years old) with some random woman (okay, not random - he loved her very much - but she will remain nameless for our current purposes). Baby Rebecca Star Light (Lakota name: Wicahpi-Ile) (made her up) was born in 1884, but Mrs. Wheeler died from childbed fever (puerperal fever). A grieving Abe tried raising the baby on his own for a while, but his maternal skills were apparently a bit lacking (okay, okay, how about…he couldn't bring himself to get married again, and a little girl needs a mother [and besides, Rebecca was starting to look too much like his late wife for it to not hurt every time he looked at her]), so his half-sister Corn Flower (recap: canon half-sister, and the family was living in California the last time we saw her, but the rest is made up) talked him into letting Rebecca stay with her and her family in California, where she was married to a Mexican-American ranchero and already had two children of her own (at the time - she later had five more, and lost three of them before they were a year old). The wandering spirit didn't let Abe stay in one place for long, so off he went to perform in Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows for a while. Then he tried his hand at landowning in the Land Run of 1889 (Oklahoma) and participated in the Klondike gold rush, among other things. He passed through California once in a while to see his little girl grow up until he just stopped coming back around the turn of the century. And then that was the end of it as far as Eliot's Gramma (that would be baby Rebecca) was concerned, until Parker met Abe Wheeler's ghost in this story.

And why did I bother with all that backstory and age-calculating? Because I'm anal like that and have no life, so therefore, I can indulge my anal retentiveness. And then I wanted to share it with you because I did it!

Also: Ghostfacers. Hehe. What? If I say something about ghosts, how can I not also mention Supernatural? And the Campbell bit was intentional. Just in case I want to follow up on that later…

Also #2, AKA more proof of my anal retentiveness: Tyler Christopher, who played Jacob Wheeler, Jr., was on an episode of Angel with his TV miniseries brother Christian Kane as (get this!) a WR&H lawyer. That makes me giggle so much. Is that bad?

Also #3: The blue eyes/brown eyes thing was based on my opinion that Chris Kane was wearing brown contacts for the miniseries. His eyes really looked brown to me.

AN#4 1/31/13: I found out after I wrote this that the Lakota do not practice cremation, although there are Native American tribes that do. Just a FYI.