Summary: Lindsey McDonald is studying for his bar exam when his phone rings. Care to guess who's at the other end? Preseries of both shows, mention of "The Two Horse Job." Drunk, heartbroken Eliot. Just because I like to mess with him. First story in the "McDonald Boys" verse.
Disclaimer: I hereby disclaim all credit for all recognizable characters/situations/ideas/etc mentioned in my fanfictional stories. Fandoms: Leverage
Studying is hard, especially when you've been at it for two days straight and plan on keeping at it for another on the strength of coffee and microwavable burritos alone.
Lindsey rubs his face, paying special attention to his eyes and temples. He gives a full-hearted groan at the ache pulsing behind his eye sockets. One more day. One more day until the bar exam. His whole future on an engraved silver plate, if he does it right.
He's just picked up the yellow highlighter to go over his notes again, when the phone rings. The shrill sound bounces around his skull, but he welcomes the distraction with more joy than a mere phone call warrants.
There is a brief silence before a familiar voice comes on the line. "Heeeey, Preppy. Howssit goin'? Studyin' hard? Betcha you ain't even looked atda girls. Betcha you ain't even dated all year."
Lindsey sighs. The momentary happiness he'd felt at hearing his brother's voice had been dampened by the realization that it was very slurred, and Eliot never sounds like that sober (or uninjured,
his treacherous mind provides with a flare of concern). "Eliot. Are you drunk?" he asks, hoping that the answer would be "No shit, College Boy."
No such luck."Mebbe."
Lindsey sighs. So it's going to be that
kind of a phone conversation. "You only quote chick flicks when you're drunk."
A rude snort blasts into Lindsey's ear. "Yeah, okay, I'm drunk. Whass your esscuse for knowin' I quoted a chick flick?"
He pointedly ignores the brotherly poke and gets to the matter at hand. "Where are you?""Guess."
Irritating, annoying, asinine, drunk
Lindsey sends a sidelong glance at the pile of books and papers covering his desk and the carpet around it and decides that maybe he loves his brother after all. Just a little bit. He's got damn good timing, anyhow.
"No," he says, flopping down on his bed, which he hasn't slept in since he'd started his studying binge, "I'm not playin' guessin' games with ya, El. Tell me where you are. Ya better not be plannin' on drivin' anywhere in your condition."
Eliot hums vaguely on the other end. "No drivin'. Already drove."
He says it like it's something to be proud of.
Lindsey shakes his head. Crazy. "That's great," he applauds sarcastically. "So where are you?""Mmm, stateside. I think,"
Eliot says slowly, like he's looking around at his surroundings. "Lass time I checked."
Lindsey pinches the bridge of his nose. "That's a good start. Could ya maybe narrow that down? We have fifty of 'em, ya know."
There's a sniffing at the other end. "Wess coas'."
That's narrower than Lindsey had been thinking. It's an improvement, at least. "Okay. Are you in California?" he asks, thinking that maybe Eliot had been on his way to see him at UC Hastings when he'd taken a detour and had uncharacteristically gotten inebriated enough to drunk dial
Eliot makes an indistinct noise that sounds vaguely like agreement. "Hey, Linny?"
And here we go, the main point of the phone call. Hopefully. "Yeah, El?" He fiddles with the cord on the phone."Ya ever had yer heart broken?"
Eliot says abruptly, "Like literally, pulled outta your chest an', an' stomped on all over by a- by a stampede? O'- o' race horses?"
Race horses. Ah. That's
the problem, or rather, she
is the problem. "Is this about Aimee?" Again?
Eliot heaves an immense sigh that whooshes into Lindsey's ear. He is suddenly glad that this is a phone call, and not an actual face-to-face, because he is so not in the mood for whiskey breath heaved at him at the moment. And then he feels guilty for thinking that. Nobody can guilt trip him like Eliot, even when he doesn't even mean to do it. "Mebbe. Iss hypo- whaddevah."
Might as well pull the band-aid off. "What happened?""She's married."
Eliot's voice sounds dead as he says it.
Lindsey winces. Ouch.
"Married. Aimee Martin is married." Bitch.
Nobody dumps his brother, not even well, Aimee. Even though she already has, like five times since high school."Yeah."
"And not to you, I'm guessin'." It couldn't hurt to ask. Just to make sure.
Eliot makes a rude raspberry sound at him. "'Member that baseball pitcher on that team from the school in Winton?"
Lindsey frowns, his memory flicking back to remember junior year in the hick town he'd grown up in. "What, the tall, skinny guy? Him?""Yeah."
Lindsey makes a face again, sharing his twin's pain. "Man. I'm sorry, El." He knows how much in love with Aimee Eliot had been, still is, it sounds like. High school sweethearts, promise rings, the whole shebang. It was kind of sickening, in a sweet way."She got married,"
Eliot repeats, his drunken mind dwelling on the fact. "Y'know? She threw the ring back in my face. Said she got tired a' waitin' on me. I tried ta get back home, ya know? I tried."
He sounds as close to tears as he'd ever been since that scraped knee back in second grade. "I really tried. Stupid monkey."
"Yeah, I know, El," Lindsey says, trying to placate him. "Hey, where are ya?"
There's a wet, snuffling sound, like someone rubbing their face after crying. "Outside."
Okay, specific. "Outside where?""Y'r dorm."
Lindsey sits up. "Lemme get this straight. You've been standin' outside my dorm this whole time, and ya didn't tell me?" he growls into the phone, his carefully hidden accent rearing its head in light of his fatigue and frustration. "Eliot, ya shoulda just come in, man. It's freezin' out.""Issit? Thought tha' wass jus' me."
Idiot brothers. Too bad Lindsey wouldn't be Lindsey without Eliot, or else he'd strangle him himself.
He picks up the phone cradle and takes it to the window so he can search up and down the street for the familiar figure of his brother. "You at the pay phone right outside? On the corner?" The street corner just outside his sight range."Mm-hm."
"Alright," he says, walking back to the table so he can put the phone down. Maybe once he passes the bar exam and gets a real job, with a real salary, he'd invest in one of those new cellular phones. Would be mighty convenient, being able to keep an ear on his drunken brother and making sure he doesn't wander off while running downstairs to get him. "Just, just stay there, okay? Don't move. I'm gonna hang up, and I'm gonna come getcha. Alright?""Yeah, yeah."
"Don't move.""Yeah, I already said,"
growls Eliot, more lucid than he'd been for the rest of the conversation.
"Okay. Um, see ya in a minute then. And stay put, Eliot." He puts down the receiver and runs out of the room.
"'Kay," Eliot replies. He stands there, listening to the silence on the other end. Not many people know it, but Lindsey can shut up and listen like the best of them when you need him to. Best brother ever.
"Hey, Linny?" he asks the sympathetic silence emanating through the phone, "Think she loves him? Mebbe she never loved me, thass the problem. Mebbe guys like me don't evah get loved, know whaddimean? An', Linny? I tried, I really tried damn hard ta get back ta her. But ev'ry time I tried ta escape, they just dragged me back in, ya know? And I still kept tryin' 'cause I had ta get back ta her. What'd I do wrong? Linny? What'd I do wrong?" he asks his brother. Linny always knows what to do.
"You didn't do anything wrong, alright?" comes his brother's voice from behind him.
He whirls around and stumbles back against the phone booth. "Wow, that wass fast! I wass jus' talkin' to ya!" The phone slips out of his hand and dangles from the stall.
Lindsey rolls his eyes, grabs his arm, and throws it over his shoulder in one experienced motion. "Come on, El. Come on, let's getcha warmed up, huh?"
Eliot frowns, suddenly feeling the chill in the wind. He shivers and instinctively moves closer to the warmth of his twin. "'S c-cold."
"Yeah," Lindsey says gently, pulling him along, through the building's side door and through the lobby. "I got some hot coffee upstairs with your name on it."
"Irish?" Eliot asks hopefully. He isn't nearly drunk enough. Not hardly.
This time, Lindsey chuckles. It's nice. He'd really
missed his brother. "No, dumbass. No more booze for you tonight."
Eliot hates Lindsey sometimes. This is one of those times.
"But it makessit stop hurtin'," he protests. "Sorta."
Lindsey dumps him down on a bed. A bed in a hallway? No, a bed in Linny's spinning dorm room. "You need coffee and sleep, El," he says sternly, and pulls his boots off. While Eliot is still processing that, the bedcovers swamp over him. Warm.
"Y're a good brother, Linny," he says, thinking that he really, really ought to tell Linny that. Just in case he dies from a broken heart or something overnight. "I evah tell ya? Good twin. Notta no-good hunka nuthin' like me. Gonna be sumbuddy, Linny, a lawyah. So smart. Not stupid like me."
The bed dips down at the side. Maybe. The world is spinning so much that it's hard to tell. "Are ya done with the self-hate already?" Lindsey says, sounding exasperated. "Don't be an idiot, El. You're just as smart as me, and you know it."
Eliot shakes his head. Ooh, bad idea. "Did sumthin' stupid," he mutters.
Lindsey sighs and puts his hand on Eliot's chest, grounding him, grounding himself. "We all do stupid things. What'd you do?"
"Let her go 'n marry that pitcher." Aimee, pretty Aimee, sweet Aimee, can-ride-a-horse-like-the-wind Aimee, hot, fiery Aimee with a temper like, like Aimee. He drifts off, thinking of her, how beautiful she'd looked, standing at the doorway of her new home, her new life, with her new husband.
Oh, brother. Here we go again,
thinks Lindsey. "El…" he starts, but can't think of anything to say.
"Why'd she marry him?"
Lindsey sighs and rubs his forehead, the throbbing pain back in full force. "Probably 'cause he was there, and she was mad atcha. You know how you and her used ta fight, huh? She was just pissed atcha." He pats Eliot's chest, trying to make light of things, trying to be supportive.
"Never got married to someone else before," Eliot points out drowsily.
Lindsey's mind scrambles to think of a good argument. This is unexpected training for his chosen career. "Yeah, well you were never away for more than few months before. Hey, I betcha fifty bucks it won't last." Please be drunk enough to take the bait.
"What if she loves him?"Crap.
"Hey," Lindsey says, clearing his throat, "I know a little bit about human nature, especially when it's the two of you. You'll make up someday. Maybe not tomorrow, or next month, but someday, alright? Just let her cool off a bit. 'Cause I know for a fact that she loves you as much as you love her. Alright?"
Eliot's breathing has evened out, and the lines between his eyebrows have smoothed, too. "El? You asleep? Right."
Ungrateful bastard, disrupting his precious studying time with stupid girl talk and stupid…
"More 'n I deserve, anyway."Aw, El.
"No, she's not," Lindsey says, hoping his brother can hear him through the drunken haze. "You deserve a helluva lot more than what you're gettin', El. And you'll find it someday, I promise."
The frown on Eliot's face returns, and he rolls over onto his side, right up to where Lindsey is sitting, so that he's curled around him. Lindsey pats his arm and pulls the covers up so he won't catch a cold. Then, he stands briefly to grab his notes and sits back down on the bed where Eliot has left a space for him between his chest and his knees.
Back to studying. And suddenly, the words on the page don't seem quite so complicated. At least, not as complicated as his brother's love life, he thinks with a snort."A contract is an agreement,"
he reads, "entered into by two or more parties with the serious intention of creating a legal obligation or obligations, which may or may not have elements in writing…