Chatting on Couch (All 3)
Alec Hardison age_of_the_geek
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The New Headquarters of Leverage, Inc, (The Apartment Above Lukes), Tuesday Night
Once Parker returned and they'd trooped upstairs, Hardison picked up his remote and started running the information gathering session.

"Ben's Chili Bowl," he explained, as an old picture of a black couple came over the monitors, standing in front of a restaurant that looked brand new. "Seen here on its opening day, August 22, 1958, with owners Ben and Virginia Ali. This little restaurant has had a huge cultural impact on DC. It opened on U Street, back when DC was still segregated, and was one of the most popular restaurants in the city. Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Nat King Cole used to eat there after performing at black jazz clubs on U Street."

He eyed Eliot. "Those names would be familiar if you know anything about music with soul," he jibed. "Anyway, moving on, the Chili Bowl also managed to stay open during the riots of '68 after Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated. Most other places had to shut down and obey the curfew, but Ben got permission to stay open and fed cops and firefighters as they tried to combat the mess."

He rattled off some more of the more interesting historical facts about the restaurant before turning to their clients. "So, Eliot's friend Vance called us on behalf of the current owners of Ben's Chili Bowl, Kamal and Nizam Ali, sons of Ben and Virginia. After almost sixty years of history, one Congressman Jessup from the Norman district of Oklahoma has come forward stating he has evidence that the young Ali's have been using their company to launder money for various criminals around DC. He's facing a lot of heat for it, as Ben's Chili Bowl is pretty famous and popular, but he's not backing down which means he's either got something iron-clad or there's more on the line for him than his political career. He's calling for the original location of Ben's Chili Bowl to close down for the duration of the investigation. Now, our boy Vance thinks that there's something fishy going on and wants us to help the Ali's out so the restaurant can stay open. This is about more than just a restaurant or even a legacy, you know? This is a restaurant that the people of the community have looked to and taken pride in for years. It's practically a damn landmark."

[For the fellow thieves, please!]


2015-02-25 04:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Eliot wasn't even touching the whole music argument right now. "Vance ain't gonna call us in on just anything. Far as he's concerned, we're aces in the hole. He's thinkin' this is something big." He shrugged. "Or he's really into their chili."


2015-02-25 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)

"This doesn't sound like the last job we agreed to do for him." Parker frowned and studied the photos on the screen, absently eating Cheetos. "It's not an election year, but maybe Jessup is getting ready for 2016 early. Do we know what kind of evidence he claims to have?"


2015-02-25 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)

"Not at all, he keeps waving a sheaf of so-called evidence around, but he hasn't been keen to share it with anybody," Hardison said, zooming in on the folder Jessup was holding during a quick press conference. "But for somebody who is disappointed enough in some money laundering to close down a historical restaurant, he has an awful lot of ties with organized crime."

He switched over to Jessup's financials and circled a few names. "These are his campaign contributors," he said, gesturing. "You'll notice that a couple of these are corporations, all of which donate the maximum possible. It all seems very proper and above board, unless you happen to be an amazing hacker who puts extra time and effort into things..."

It seemed like Hardison was about to get distracted by telling them how awesome he was at his job again. Oops.


2015-02-25 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)

"Yeah, you're amazing," Eliot said dryly. "Just get to the intel, Hardison. We ain't got all night."


2015-02-25 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)

"I think it's cute. He loves his work." She grinned at Hardison and said, "But mostly I want to be sure Eliot gets to make chili this week."


2015-02-25 04:53 am (UTC) (Link)

It wasn't cereal, Hardison was thrilled that Parker was going to eat it.

"So, if you dig deep enough into the financials of the companies, it turns out that they're actually shell accounts for one of the major crime syndicates in DC. Like so many other shady people before them, they went out and bought themselves a congressman. I can't see any dealings they have that Ben's Chili Bowl would affect, however. They're not buying up property around the restaurant, no one's approached the Ali's to sell, there's no hint of anything useful with the mineral or water rights. If I had to guess, I'd say that Jessup is probably right. The boys made a couple of friends they shouldn't have, and now one family's taking a chance to swing at another."


2015-02-25 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)

"So it's a gang war thing?" Of course it was. Vance probably liked seeing Eliot grump around about getting shot. "What's our angle?"


2015-02-25 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)

"Location location location." Parker leaned forward, thinking hard, little pieces slotting in place sideways. "We know who- mostly- we know where, we know when, we know how; we just don't know why. So Eliot goes in as a chef, to find out what exactly Jessup wants with Chili Bowl." Parker turned her head nearly upside down, staring at the screens. "Hmm. FBI agents again?"


2015-02-25 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)

"Probably tricky to pull off right next to the FBI headquarters," Hardison pointed out. "We might end up getting pulled to do something else, like that time we had to transport a prisoner."

Not a damn word, Eliot. They'd gotten to drive a cop car, shut up.

"And if this is the play, then it probably won't devolve into open gang warfare," he continued. "I mean, they're using congresspeople and injunctions and stuff like that, they're probably trying to keep it all nice and quasi-legal. Hell, man, you might not even have to throw a punch this con."


2015-02-25 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Eliot scowled faintly. "What, not even one?"



2015-02-25 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)

"We'll find you a mugger to beat up on the way home if you don't get to, swear." The Team needed to stay positive! Thinking thinking... "Congressional aide for me, so I can get into Jessup's office, and go to the Chili Bowl for food? And--" She wasn't sure, but the thought occurred: "We should have surveillance on the Chili Bowl if it is a place where the mob's hanging out. That's part of why Vance wants us, isn't it. We're the best."


2015-02-25 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)

"Already spent some time building us some equipment," he said, holding out one of the bugs he'd spent the day building. "So, I made some improvements on the last model of these I made. Waterproof, for one. Then I..."

His explanation was long and technical and boiled down to, 'these will work better, for longer, and from further away.'


2015-02-25 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)

"So they'll work?" Eliot asked, cutting to the only part he actually cared about. "Even if I get thrown into the tidal basin?"

It wasn't like he was planning to get thrown into the tidal basin, but in his line of work things happened.


2015-02-25 05:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Yeah, well, Hardison hadn't planned on rolling his eyes, but sometimes that just happened, too.

"Yes, Eliot," he said in the tone of one who had suffered much. "Even if you get thrown in the tidal basin. Any one of these bugs should continue to work submerged up to a hundred and fifty feet under water. After that, the pressure gets to be to much."


2015-02-25 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)

"So we're running a Kansas City Cruller," Parker said, humming to herself. "... I think."


2015-02-25 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)

"What?" Eliot shook his head. "Nah, this sounds way more like a Chi-Town Luau. You know, only with chili."


2015-02-25 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)

"Seriously? That little display downstairs has me swearing off all things luau for awhile. How about the Queen's Bastard?"

Yeah, okay, maybe there were some ulterior motives for suggesting that one. But it would also work!


2015-02-25 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)

"We can't do the Queen's Bastard, we don't have any midgets."


2015-02-25 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)

"I thought that was with clowns?" Parker frowned. "... no clowns. No."

Don't ask.


2015-02-25 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)

It had just been a guy in a suit! Like the horse! And neither of them had died!

"No no," Hardison said. "That's the Bastard's Queendom. And there aren't any midgets, okay? A) the Queen's Bastard is like the King's Orphan, but set in a bar--or, this case, a restaurant, and B), they're little people, Eliot. Little people. C'mon, man, be PC."


2015-02-25 06:08 am (UTC) (Link)

"We still don't have any," Eliot noted. ". . . Which one's the one with the midgets, then?"


2015-02-25 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)

"Where would we even find the little people for that one?" A pause. "Disneyland?"


2015-02-25 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)

"We are not importing midgets for a con, Parker!" And then Hardison facepalmed. "I mean little people!"


"Why Disneyland?" Was this a seven dwarfs reference?