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Light Up the Sky Like a Flame

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Eliot Spencer always knows what his name is when he wakes up. It isn't the same, is never the same, but it's his name, from the very first second he opens his eyes, or her eyes.

The name is all he gets, though, the name and, this time, documents that confirm it. The universe may have its jokes and Eliot knows that he's one of them, but at least it looks after its own to that extent.

Eliot gets a name, and he has his skills, but they don't do him much good at all when he doesn't recognize anything around him. It's been eight hundred years this time, from what he can tell, and nothing is the same. It's all loud and fast and he doesn't know why he's awake this time, so he goes to ground and grits his teeth and finds out what he cane.

The first time someone shoots him, Eliot takes the weapon and shoves it under the man's nose. “What do you call this, huh?”

“It's a gun, what the fuck do you think?”

Eliot knocks him out and looks at it. “I don't like guns,” he says, but he learns how to use it anyway, learns how to take perfect aim, and then throws it away.


Eliot doesn't know why he's in this life, but he can fight, so he does. He fights for those in charge in the place where he landed, and when they don't satisfy him he fights for himself. He won't die, not that anyone he finds could kill him, until he's done whatever it is he woke up for this time.

The job, the Dubenich job, it's supposed to be just something else to fill the time.

That's not how it turns out.


“Man, I don't know anyone as clueless with technology as you. I know you're smart, you can work a damn smart phone and use comms, I don't know why you pretend you can't!”

Eliot goes home every night and practices, henpecks at a keyboard until he finds a video that will teach him how, something aimed at people who want to talk to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren long-distance, but he isn't going to tell Hardison that, so he just snarls instead. It usually makes Hardison back off.

Parker, though, she doesn't back off. Eliot has wondered a couple times if she's like him (he doesn't know any others, but that doesn't mean there aren't any), but she doesn't mention it if she is. She just squints at him sometimes like maybe she gets it. “Probably pressing red buttons isn't a good idea,” she says after a little too long, and goes back to watching Sophie practice her accent for a grift.


Cooking may be his favorite thing about this new world. He can guess the uses of things there, and there's a variety of things like he's never tasted, spices and kinds of meat and fruit and vegetables he couldn't have dreamed of in other lives. Eliot learned how to do it all to get the smell of gunmetal off his hands, and he likes it.

What he doesn't like, however, is whatever the hell the new gadget is that Hardison put in his damn kitchen.

“It's a smoothie maker!” says Hardison when Eliot asks him what the hell it's supposed to be. “You know, to make smoothies, delicious concoctions of blended fruit for the ladies you bring home or whatever. You like fruit, you'll like smoothies.”

“I can make my own damn smoothies, Hardison.”

“I know you've got your weird technology things, Eliot, but this is taking it a little too far. The government isn't tracking you through your smoothie machine.” Hardison looks at him seriously. “Tell me straight, man. Did you grow up Amish?”

Eliot throws up his hands and storms out of the kitchen.


“You have to turn it the other way,” says Parker from behind him.

Eliot glares at the wheel on the golf cart, which should be simpler to use than a car but isn't. “Yes, thank you, Parker, I figured out that I was sending us in the wrong direction.”

She waits for a minute while he gets it figured out, sitting there in that quiet way she has, like she sees through everything that's going wrong. Eliot has never worried that Nate would figure out his secret, but he wonders about Parker. “You can ask. When you need to know stuff. I ask Hardison or you or Sophie or sometimes Nate. Hardison asks sometimes. You can ask. You can ask me.”

He wants to snap at her, but she's on his team, and that means something, these days. “Thanks, Parker. I'll keep it in mind.”


It takes him longer than it should to realize that if there's a mission, it's them.


“You were shot, Eliot! You could have died! That is what I call unnecessary risk.”

Eliot rolls his eyes and keeps inspecting his stitches. “I didn't die, Hardison, and this is my job. I take the hits so you get the job done.” It's not an elegant summation, but Eliot isn't elegant. He never has been.

“Yeah, but this time you didn't have to take the hit!” Hardison grabs his sleeve before he can turn away. “You aren't immortal, Eliot. And we need you.”

“I'm not going anywhere,” says Eliot.

Parker is sitting in the corner, and she's pale and watching them both like she's afraid they're going to disappear. She needs Hardison's brand of comfort more than Eliot does, even if Eliot is selfishly glad to have Hardison there, in his face, giving him something to concentrate on.

And maybe Hardison knows that both of them need him, or at least want him, right now, because he looks over at Parker and says “Would you hold him still for me? Because I do not trust this man to care for his own bullet wounds.”

Parker's up on her feet immediately, steady holding Eliot, and Eliot stays still for them, not sure what else to do when his instincts, for once, don't tell him to shrug them off.


There isn't a particular thread that ties Eliot from life to life. He doesn't always fight great evil, or fight at all. He isn't searching for something.

He may have found something, though.