Yeah Im Cute
Alec Hardison age_of_the_geek
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The Best Tent Ever, Indiana Dunes, Friday Evening
To say that Hardison hadn't been looking forward to the camping trip was the biggest understatement since declaring that AOL's network was a little 'shoddy.' But Eliot had insisted and Hardison and Parker loved Eliot wanted Eliot to be happy figured it was just easier to go along with it than to keep arguing. Even though it was a fact that Hardison, at least, would have a much better time in the apartment, ignoring nature and the elements as man had intended ever since he crawled down from the damn trees and into a nice, warm, waterproof cave.

But you could take the man out of civilization (dammit), but you couldn't take the civilization out of the man. Or, rather, the man (especially if he was the man) could bring the civilization along with him. At least when he's got the internet, SkyMall, and overnight shipping on his side.

And so once they'd gotten to their camping spot he'd made Eliot set up the tent, and when that was done, he disappeared inside to make it amazing!

Now this was camping.

"I thought camping was about suffering," Parker said, looking amazed. "Hunh. I love the roomba."

Please excuse Eliot, he was busy FACEPALMING INTO ETERNITY.

"Are you -- is that -- and where -- dammit, Hardison!"

And sputtering incoherently. That, too.

"Ain't DJ Roomba great?" he asked, beaming. "We even got us some tunes, man! You know for a late night camping dance party or whatever."

After their camping X-Box tournament (assuming he could get these ancient hookups to work) and before their camping softserve.

"Is this an ice-cream machine?" Parker was continuing to investigate. "Cool. You have something to keep bugs from finding us, right?"

Like some kind of spy-secret radar screen?

"It's too early for bugs," Eliot said. It was either that or a long string of obscenities. "You don't play video games while camping, man! You go for hikes and roast marshmallows!"

"An' exactly one of those things sounds like fun," Hardison replied. "We're already without electricity! Why deprive us further?" He was going to have to futz with the hookups in the morning, when it was light out.

"Roasted marshmallows?" Parker perked up again. "Fire is good. No bugs is good." This was turning out waaay better than she'd thought. She gave the interior of the tent a speculative look. "Where's Eliot sleeping?"

Say, right on that big puffy thing with them?

Eliot said. "I have a sleeping bag, Parker, I could sleep anywhere."

"Whoa, hey, it could rain or get, like, really cold out there!" Hardison protested, exchanging looks with Parker. "You're stayin' in here, man, where you ain't gonna get mauled by bears or mountain lions or cougars or pumas or whatever."

Hardison, three of those were exactly the same thing.

"Especially bears," Parker said firmly. And shuddered at her recent huggy-bear encounters. "There's lots of room in here! ... Maybe we'll go on a walk. If you promise not to fight wildlife."

"Hey, as long as you don't disturb the wildlife, it doesn't disturb you," Eliot said. "Probably should avoid gettin' attacked by horny older women, though."

"Or racist, wingnut militias planning on murdering the first black dude they see cause he's impersonating a government official," Hardison mumbled, reaching into his backpack for something.

Most of his gear had been overnighted from Skymall. One thing had not.

"Hey, before we go out countin' leaves and memorizin' bark patterns an' whatever other boy-scoutin' Eliot has planned for us, I go somethin' for y'all."

"Ooo?" Parker perked up. "A fun something?"

"Okay, you understand that racist militias are the exception --" Eliot cut himself off. "If it's another gadget, Hardison, I swear to god. . . ."

"Man, shut up," Hardison said, tossing something shiny at him underhand and then another at Parker. The third, he kept for himself.

"So, rather than run the risk of you going all crazy over a necklace again," he said, slipping the sterling silver chain over his head, "I decided to get you one that we know ain't cursed or evil or whatever."

It had been meant to be two pieces, not three, but Hardison had separated the wolf's head from the second piece and strung it onto another chain. "So I bought that, turned it into three pieces, so there's one for each of us." He looked at Parker and gave her a wink. "I bought two pieces and ended up with three. Which is kinda like stealin' an extra one, right, babe?"

"It's made out of money!" That had been her first guess for a present, because it was her favorite, but he'd actually gotten her and Eliot the same necklace from money! "I LOVE THIS. You stole me and Eliot friendship necklaces!"

Eliot caught the shiny thing easily and proceeded to stand there staring down at it through Hardison's explanation and Parker's cheery chirping.

He had no idea what to say.

He squeezed it in his fist, feeling the metal start to warm with his body temperature, and looked up.

And still didn't know what to say.

Hopefully, the gobsmacked look slowly fading into a pleased blush would do the talking for him.

Eliot got the wolf's head not because it was the obvious choice for him (although it was the obvious choice). But because he filled the hole that still existed in between Hardison and Parker.

"Now, don't think you get a present for every time you go crazy an' make us taze you," he chided. "This is a one time only deal. Oh and flip 'em over."

Engraved on the back of each was a single word and when all three were put together they read Family. You. Choose.

Parker was running her thumb over her semi-circle, and flipped the chain over her head so it would fall just below her throat.

She smiled at Eliot, and had to give him a shoulder-bump. And a second one. Because he looked so happy and so sorta sad at the same time. Or maybe that was just... Eliot.

"We choose you. You know?"

Eliot rocked easily with the shoulder bumps, attempting to drag his tough guy exterior back over himself.

"Man -- you --"

Yeah, it wasn't working.

"Thanks." That wasn't enough, but there wasn't such thing as 'enough', so it'd have to do. "Seriously. Thank you guys."

"I'm serious, though," Hardison said, giving Eliot a lazy smile. "No more goin' crazy, y'hear? Now c'mere an' gimme some sugar." However Eliot wanted to interpret that was okay by him.

He'd done good. He knew it.

"I didn't do it on purpose," Eliot grumbled, and pulled Hardison into a hug.

Parker got closer, and then hugged them both. "Yes but it was scary. We were scared for you." Not scared of him. "You don't get to do it again soon. Too many close calls this year."

At some point, Hardison would point out to Parker that the chains were real silver, which should be a deterrent for werewolves, at least, and possibly vampires, too, depending on the mythology. Look, he was their Eliot and they weren't going to lose him to ghoulies or ghosties or long-legged beasties, dammit.

Also, was anyone else noticing how great this threeway hug felt? Because it felt great. Just putting that out there.

"So, whaddaya say? Want me to have DJ Roomba spin us some tunes to get this campin' trip started off right?"

No, seriously, camping trips had dance parties, right?

Eliot answered "I hate you," and didn't let go.

[Preplayed with whoisalicewhite and vdistinctive due to holiday weekend travel availability.]