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Five times Eliot couldn't fight his way out of trouble

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  1. The Spencer kids all started learning to ride on a cantankerous mule named Molly. The secret to making her sweet was to give her a banana every time you approached. Eliot turned six this one year there was a giant banana blight in South America, and it turned out that Molly hated apples. Eliot learned to ride on a horse named Firecracker.

  2. His third grade teacher, Miz Jones, she hated him. (Well, it was more like she hated his family ever since his cousin Billy had egged her car twenty years ago, and Eliot had the misfortune to be the latest Spencer to go through Black Mill Elementary.) Eliot's stepmom, not inured to twenty years of Spencer/Jones war, got the principal to switch him to Miz Freeman's class. That was the day Eliot decided he loved Missy.

  3. Eliot figured out he was a cocksucker when he was sixteen in the showers after JV basketball practice. The only solution for that was to close his eyes and think of Miz Jones naked.

  4. When Eliot finally got back Stateside after the thing he couldn't talk about with the people he wasn't supposed to know existed, Aimee wouldn't talk to him, Missy wouldn't talk to him, hell, his brother Jerry wouldn't talk to him. Daddy just looked at him real sad and said, "You lost the best opportunity of your life to settle down and make something of yourself." The next week was the first time he took a job from somebody who wasn't an agent of the United States government; if he was destined for a bad end, he might as well go all the way.

  5. Eliot woke up naked and hungover, with Parker tucked under his chin and Hardison snuggled up to his back, snoring like a buzzsaw. "Hey, baby," he said. (Whined, really, he could hear himself.)

    Neither of them twitched so much as an inch.

    The problem was, if you made a sudden movement in bed with Parker, she was likely to shiv you. You could only talk her awake, and both she and Hardison slept through all kinds of noise. "Honey," he said louder, and winced from the volume of his own voice. Still no movement on either side. "Fuck it," he said, and rolled to his left, taking Hardison with him, so Parker didn't knife their boyfriend by mistake. (Also, for what little padding the skinny fuck could provide when they hit the floor.)

    He and Hardison were both still moaning a little when Parker leaned over the bed, climbing hook in one hand. "I thought we gave you water and aspirin before you went to bed?"

    "Apparently, not enough," muttered Hardison. "Seriously, man, you're kneeing my pancreas. Get up. Get back in bed. We'll take care of you."