They had arrived at Elise's house fairly early in the day, not like they had anything better to do, and intended to pay some last respects on behalf of their loyalty to her and maybe reminisce in a few memories. Some good, some bad, and others they just couldn't pin one emotion to. It seemed like a good idea at the time, not only to honor such a selfless woman who was practically a mother to them but also to get some closure.
But when Specs and Tucker stepped inside Elise's house it felt different. It was a cold realization that she was no longer here and that they couldn't do anything to change that. It was the equivalent to someone pouring an ice cold bucket of water right over their heads. They were so used to walking in here with Elise and now... now the whole place just felt empty.
It was times like these when Specs wished he could "feel" things like Elise did, but he can't feel anything but regret. Regret for not being by Elise's side. Regret for not being stronger. Sometimes Specs wondered if Tucker felt anything like that. He must. He knew Tucker respected her but to what extent? Was it enough to draw out any other emotion that wasn't crass or sarcastic?
Tucker spied a picture on a little end table near the hall and picked it up with steady hands, eyeing it with a clenched jaw. It was a picture of him and Elise, not recent but not too old either, taken perhaps sometime before the whole Lambert fiasco. They were both smilng but Elise's seemed to be much brighter than his own and Tucker had an arm wrapped around her shoulders in a warm embrace. They looked so happy.
Tucker's hands gripped the frame a little tighter than he meant to and set the picture back down before he lost it entirely. Luckily, Specs was too caught up in his own memories of this place, looking around solemnly at all the things Elise would never touch again. Tucker wondered if he looked just as miserable as Specs did.
Neither of them said anything for the longest time. What could they say? Losing Elise was like losing their mother and it stung. They couldn't talk to each other about their feelings anyway... Well Specs could, just not Tucker. Tucker isn't very "hands on" when it comes to the touchy-feely aspect of their friendship (if you could call it that). But somehow the silence was better. Besides, it felt more appropriate in respect for the dead.
There was a moment when Specs and Tucker accidentally locked gazes. It was a little awkward but not entirely uncomfortable and there were no snide remarks thrown between them. It was almost like they were hoping for the other to say something profound, something philosophical that would tie up all loose ends, but there were no words.
Specs decided it would have to be him who said the magic words and made everything bad go away with one sentence. Tucker didn't have the capacity for anything remotely profound but it didn't mean he understood it any less. But just as he opened his mouth something else decided to make itself known.
The lone door down the hall slowly creaked open on it's old hinges and it broke the heavy silence surrounding the once delightful home. Tucker and Specs turned their heads toward the sound to eye the door opening on it's own precariously. Tucker and Specs looked back at each other skeptically. They've seen many things while working with Elise but they never could get used to it. That split second of pure shock was soon replaced by some kind of relief. Some hope that maybe it was Elise leading them on to a clue of some sort but then again...
"Elise always kept the reading room locked..." Specs informs Tucker. He's aware that Tucker knows this rule but Specs somehow feels the need to make sure he wasn't crazy.
There's cold panic and hope as they both walk down the hall carefully. Things can sometimes backfire and entities that are seemingly innocent enough can turn malevolent at the drop of a hat, so neither of them were very optimistic. They could just as easily turn around and walk away from Elise's house forever, but something was pulling them further.
Specs was already kicking himself for following Tucker (or was Tucker following him?) as the scene played out before him. The curious half-wits hear a noise and just HAVE to investigate and before you know it they're stumbling out of the basement, or wherever they happen to be, trying to put their entrails back where they belong. And personally, Specs doesn't think coughing up blood is a very sexy look for him.
When they finally "Scooby Doo" themselves to the stairs leading down to the basement, both men stop in their wake. It's dark downstairs (of course it's dark, it's always fucking dark when the hapless morons get it in the movies) and neither Tucker nor Specs wants to go down but the curiosity is far too insidious to turn back now.
"You go down first," Tucker says nervously, shoving Specs with an elbow to try and get him down the stairs. It's childish, yes, but when isn't Tucker childish?
"No way I'm going down first!" Specs resists. He pushes Tucker back with all his might but is unable to move the other man significantly. "You go first!"
Tucker grumbles something under his breath, like he always does, but it's not so passive-aggressive this time. It sort've almost sounds like he's losing his edge and surrendering but that's what Tucker wants him to think, doesn't it? So either Tucker has had an epiphany after their loss and gone soft or he's planning to do something once Specs has his back turned. Not wanting to take any chances, Specs stares Tucker down instead.
"Hunter, bear, ninja," Specs declares flatly and he doesn't break eye contact with Tucker.
Tucker's face twitches into a scowl but he complies nonetheless because he knows he can't back out of a challenge, especially one he can easily win. Tucker faces his four-eyed challenger and he just absolutely hates the way Specs seems so sure of himself. He'll be damned if Specs gets him this time.
"Hunter, bear, ninja!"
They both say this in unison as they take their presumed stances against one another. Tucker makes a pose with his hands out in front of him, as if he were going to chop someone, and all Specs could think was how typical the oaf was as he took on a powerful stance with bear claws extended above his head. He may be short but in this small moment of victory Specs felt taller than Tucker.
"No way, man!" Tucker begins to complain but Specs is just grinning like an idiot and shaking his head.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Get down there!" Specs teases as he laughs to himself, enjoying Tucker's loss more than what was necessary for a normal person. But they weren't normal, were they?
Tucker huffs and grumbles to himself the whole way down in their descent into the dark unknown. Specs trails behind Tucker, feeling his heart thundering in his ribcage because he half expects something to jump out from the darkness that just seems to bend around the small basement. After a few inappropriate touches and fumbles for a light switch, the room illuminates.
Specs blinks past the glare on his glasses, like he's been in the dark long enough for his eyes to adjust, and looks around the half remembered basement Elise had dubbed the "Reading Room". It hasn't been long since they've last been here but it all seems far away in a sense. It feels like their old and it's been years since they last saw Elise.
The shorter of the two looks over at the mannequin that wears Elise's modified gas mask used for contacting the dead and shudders subtly to himself. That thing has always creeped him out. Just the way it sits there motionlessly, pretending it's resemblance to a human being gives Specs the heebie-jeebies. Specs has never trusted mannequins. Not since Silent Hill 3.
"Maybe we shouldn't be down here," Specs thinks out loud with worry.
"Why? Are you scared?" Tucker inquires with a teasing tone and heavy sarcasm.
Specs gazes back at Tucker, hoping that his face is pleading enough for Tucker to take it easy on him for once, but it flies clear over the other man's head. Maybe he's a little... anxious but wouldn't anybody be? He feels like he's intruding in on Elise's private room without permission and that the mannequin is breathing down his neck.
"No..." Specs lies weakly. "Doesn't it just seem a little rude to be in here? Without Elise?"
Tucker sighs, "Look, we've been down here plenty of times. With and without Elise. We're just doing it without her this time, okay?"
Somehow that answer was good enough for Specs and maybe, just perhaps, those were the magical profound words that needed to be said in order for both of them to move on. The fact that Elise was dead was not only completely unfair, but it was also a part of life that no one could escape... Then again, Tucker probably only said that because he's an asshole and doesn't want to hear Specs whine.
"What are we looking for anyway?" Specs inquires after a beat, looking over at Tucker expectantly like it was his idea to come down here.
"Clues, Van Gogh," Tucker mocks. "We're looking for clues."
"Whatever, Sherlock..." Specs breaths under his breath, but obviously not low enough because Tucker hears it.
"I don't see how calling me a genius detective is a good insult," Tucker observes thickly.
"Van Gogh was a genius too," Specs points out with narrow eyes.
"A guy who cuts his own ear off is not a genius."
"That's a cover up Van Gogh came up with to protect his friend Gauguin," Specs argues, "Gauguin is the guy who really cut it off."
"Sounds like a bunch of malarkey..." Tucker mumbles as he turns away from Specs, pretending to look through something.
Specs gets irritated by this and decides he will not let Tucker turning his back win the argument. "Yeah, well, Sherlock Holmes isn't even real!"
This seems to end one argument for now but there's always a chance that something as equally pointless to fight over will arise. Surprisingly enough Tucker doesn't retort back with an idiotic comment and instead continues to look through a stack of old papers. Specs is left standing there awkwardly because he was more than expecting Tucker to respond but when he didn't Specs felt a little put off.
There's no way Specs can actually like fighting with Tucker, is there? No, absolutely not! That's just ridiculous. Specs' cheeks always seem to burn whenever he argues with Tucker but that's only because he feels adrenaline when being challenged. It's not like there's a sexual thrill he gets out of it or anything...
Specs just needs to move on, so he does. He shuffles past the creepy looking mannequin and starts to tinker with different relics from past cases, both before and during their time with Elise. Most of it looks ancient like it was brought back from the past by Doctor Who and very little of it looks newer. It makes Specs muse at the fact that Elise was around for a very long time to build up this collection of knick knacks. She had obviously done a lot of good over the years long before Tucker and Specs joined up with her.
Tucker knocks something over and it makes Specs turn slightly to see what he's broken this time but the object is still intact. It looks like a crystal ball but Specs is sure that he's seen Elise use it as a paper weight before. Specs watches Tucker bend down to actually pick up what he's knocked over and he catches himself staring a little too long at the gruff man. He quickly turns his admiration back to far less complicated things, like music boxes and trinkets.
"Are you changing the rules?" Tucker questions, turning to Specs after it's been silent for a few minutes.
Specs is taken out of his thoughts as he spins around and assesses Tucker's outburst. "What are you talking about?" Specs asks confused, finding himself a part of a conversation he doesn't remember being a part of.
"Hunter, bear, ninja," Tucker tells him with a conviction that makes it seem like they've been on this topic for hours. "I could've swore ninja killed bear. Unless I'm mistaken, which I'm not."
"Then you must be mistaken because bear kills ninja," Specs replies a little annoyed, watching Tucker not buy into it one bit.
Tucker shifts his weight from one foot to the other, shaking his head. "Nuh-uh... Since when?"
"Since forever. You were there when we came up with the rules, remember?" Specs condescends to him like they've been over this a thousand times already. "Hunter shoots bear, bear mauls ninja, and ninja kills hunter."
"I think you're cheating," Tucker accuses in a childish manner, simply because he strives on conflict. And he likes rattling Specs' cage.
"And why would I do that?"
"Because you're a poor sport and can't stand losing to a real man."
"Oh, give me strength!" Specs scoffs at the other man across the table in the center of the room. "Having a beard hardly makes you a man... and I'm not just saying that because of my inability to grow facial hair, so shut up!"
"There's no way a bear could kill a ninja," Tucker says plainly, defying Specs further. "Ninjas can kill anything and they can't be killed."
"Well, what about another ninja? Can ninjas kill other ninjas?" Specs poses in a final summation and Tucker is finally at a loss for words.
Gotta love their useless logic.
They stand there with only the table separating them but it feels like they're in each other's faces, butting heads and at their throats like they constantly are. There is something unreadable in Tucker's eyes, something Specs has never seen before, and Specs swallows unconsciously at what it might be. To be honest, it kind of freaks him out a little, even more than mannequins or ghosts.
Tucker's face goes from being kind of friendly back to his usual emotionless stare and Specs feels like he's missed something important, like he was supposed to say or do something crucial. But he missed it and now Tucker is turning away and walking towards the only private area Elise had forbidden them from entering.
"H-Hey! You can't go in there!" Specs says flustered, sounding like Elise's little lap dog. Sometimes Specs wishes he wasn't such a stickler for following rules. "Elise said-"
There's a crash like something was knocked over and a strained noise from Tucker. Now Specs could assume one of two things: either Tucker was just about the clumsiest person he's ever seen or something horrible attacked him. Despite strongly leaning towards the clumsy theory, Specs reacted in a way he thought he never would. He panicked, suddenly afraid that Tucker was attacked.
"Tucker!" He yelled out with fright and worry as he rushed over to the tiny room connecting to the Reading Room. "Tucker!"
When Specs got inside the room he fumbled nervously for a light switch and when it clicked on he couldn't believe his eyes. It was Tucker on the ground, clutching at his groin as he wallowed around in a fit and next to him were a stack of VHS tapes that had toppled over when the bumbling moron knocked them over.
"What the hell?" Specs asks for an explanation.
"My nuts!" Tucker groans miserably.
While this is a very good time for Specs to point and laugh at Tucker's misfortune, he can't bring himself to do it. Mostly because he was genuinely worried about the other man for once. Specs was glad he was alright but he felt oddly lied to, like Tucker had purposely cried wolf. Then again, being cautious was never a bad thing. If anything this just proved to Tucker that if something went down Specs would be there. Whether or not Specs was an ideal knight in shining armor was another story entirely.
Tucker gets up on his feet to walk off the pain, still holding himself and after he's done his I've-just-got-hit-in-the-balls dance he grins widely at Specs.
"What? Don't look at me like that!" Specs begins to complain but it's too late. Tucker has finally learned his weakness and he plans to thoroughly exploit it.
"Were you worried about me?" Tucker asks inquisitively, all teeth and beard.
"No! I was just worried that you might've broke something important," Specs covers coolly but Tucker isn't entirely stupid which Specs forgets sometimes.
"No, no, no... You had that tone!" Tucker points a finger at Specs like he's saying 'Aha! I've found you out!' and he's unconsciously moving closer. "That tone you get when you're worried or scared. You care about me!"
Specs can see the scene playing out before him in slow motion. Tucker is moving closer still, making Specs back up slightly, as he becomes right on course for another stack of tapes. Specs can see it happening fast now, from the moment Tucker trips to when he stumbles directly into Specs, sending them both crashing to the ground.
Tucker falls completely over Specs and settles heavily on the smaller man. To make matters ten times worse, somehow during the descent to the hard ground, Specs and Tucker's lips had joined in an awkward and completely accidental kiss (or that's what they tell themselves). Specs' eyes are blown wide and he doesn't even try to push Tucker off because he's too petrified with shock and satisfaction.
Tucker makes no effort to pull away either. He simply stays exactly where his is, letting his lips stay firmly glued to Specs'. Neither man remembers who decided to open their mouths and frankly, they don't care. It's the most Awkward kiss to say the least, but they figured it was inevitable. Perhaps this is why they were lead down into the basement. To finally come to terms with their mutual feelings...
Or it could've just been an accident.