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Like most of Eliot’s stories, it starts with a date. Specifically, a LA fashion model named Miranda who manages to teach him a lot about clothes in between private fashion shows. While lying in bed after the third–or was it fourth–round, she looks at him and says, “Damn. Your eyes are fucking gorgeous.”

Before Eliot can formulate a response to that, Miranda follows it up with “You know what would really make ‘em pop? Little bit of eyeliner.”

So instead of sleeping after their pretty damn fantastic night, he lets her show him what she means, raiding her makeup bag. She’s right. It does make his eyes pop.

Well, he doesn’t have much time to examine the effect, because it turns out that Miranda really does like it too and wants to show him exactly how much. But even so, even after waking up to find his eyeliner a smudged mess, Eliot still likes the effect, still thinks about it sometimes.

So two months later, he buys an eyeliner pen while he has some downtime. He has no job lined up, no one looking for him, which means he can do whatever he wants. It’s not that he’s embarrassed, not really. It’s just that he knows full well that continuing to get jobs means keeping his reputation, and, well, people are useless, prejudiced assholes.

It’s not as easy as she made it look that night. He misdraws, smudges, and even manages to poke himself in the eye. But Eliot Spencer doesn’t give up easily, so he keeps practicing. Everything worthwhile is worth practice.

It starts coming easier, even if it’s never quite as effortless as it appeared to be that night. Still, he figures that he’s no model, and he’s doing pretty well, considering. When he wants to wear it, he can do the job, that’s all he needs.

Then he meets this Hardison kid, who’s always pushing the wonders of the internet, and Eliot does get a little curious. Turns out, there are videos teaching how to do eyeliner on there. All sorts of nice looking, fancy ways, and Eliot doesn’t exactly think he’s going to be pulling off a cat eye anytime soon, but it’s cool to see all this information for the taking. At any rate, there are lots of videos for beginners, and Eliot learns a few new techniques and tricks that make the whole thing easier.

So, when he wants to wear eyeliner, he knows what he’s doing. He’s pretty good at it, actually. And it’s true. It makes his eyes pop, looks damned good on him.

His fingers shake a bit more than he’ll ever admit when putting on his eyeliner for the con, but it comes out as fine as always, regardless. He checks just to be sure, puts the pencil away, then goes to see what’s next in the con.