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Leave Your Troubles at the Door

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This story is No. 9 in the series "The McDonald Boys". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Eliot and Lindsey sing for Lorne. “McDonald Boys" verse, but may stand alone. Pre-series for both shows.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > LeveragepoestheblackcatFR1313,0962266329 May 1229 May 12Yes
Summary: Eliot and Lindsey sing for Lorne. “McDonald Boys verse,” but may stand alone. Pre-series for both shows.

The long-awaited Caritas fic. This story is another from the “McDonald Boys” verse, and takes place before Angel. Lindsey and Eliot are working for Wolfram and Hart and Damien Moreau, respectively.

Title from the song “The House Rules” by Christian Kane.

(Yay! Long one-shot! Did you miss having to scroll down? I missed big!Eliot, too. Wee!Eliot’s fun and all, but so is grumpy big!Eliot.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Leave Your Troubles at the Door

“Linny, no. Come on, man. I ain’t gonna sing with ya.” The words sound like they should be said in a whine, but the frustrated growl is anything but.

Lorne watches as his favorite crooner, Lindsey McDonald, saunters down the stairs and through the entrance to his humble establishment, holding his daddy’s old guitar in one hand and towing his reluctant brother after him with the other. There’s an easygoing smirk on his face which Lorne suspects doesn’t appear very often outside of the company of the brother mentioned above.

The lawyer grins. “Stop your bitchin’, El. You ain’t gettin’ outta this one,” he cackles with a heavier accent than he normally has. He catches sight of Lorne. It isn’t hard to do, since he’s a green demon with horns and as bright and sparkling a wardrobe as possible, while still being in the realm of good taste, of course.

“Lorne!” Lindsey calls, and makes his way to him, dragging his brother behind him.

“Lindseycakes,” Lorne replies with a genial smile, handing him his drink of choice. He turns to the twin brother. “And you, pumpkin pie, what’ll you have?”

The man’s eyes light up with a manic fire as he surges forward, “Don’t call me- ” he begins, but is stopped by his brother’s arm across his ribs.

“He’ll have a beer, thanks,” Lindsey says, as if this is an everyday occurrence. “This is my brother Eliot. Eliot, Lorne.”

“Very nice to meet you,” Lorne says to Grumpyducks and gives the bartender the order.

“Behave, or they’ll kick us out,” he hears Lindsey whisper furiously to Eliot, “An’ I happen ta like this bar.”

“He called me ‘pumpkin pie,’ Lindsey,”
Eliot hisses at his brother. “Ain’t no one gettin’ away with that.”

Lindsey snorts. “Suck it up…pumpkin pie.”

Eliot huffs. “Is he gay? Can demons be gay? I swear, he was hittin’ on us.”

Lindsey cuffs him across the back of the head. “That ain’t behavin’, El.”

Lorne really hates to break up the adorable brotherly bickering, but Duni hands him the beer just then. He turns back to the twins and gives Eliot his drink. “So boys,” he says, taking care to lighten up on the endearments, “What can I do for you? Are you gonna sing me a little something to brighten up my night?”

Lindsey smiles. “Yeah, we’re only here to sing. We’re not looking for anything else. Just a good time.”

“I ain’t singing,” Eliot says, arms crossed. “Just him.”

Lorne chuckles. “I’m not going to force you, huneybunch, but I’ve got a hunch the two of you’ll be a hit. Double the love, you might say, and Orpheus here is already a crowd favorite.”

“Yeah, come on, El,” Lindsey wheedles, “you know you want to.”

Eliot laughs sarcastically. “Yeah, nice try. No.”

“I’ll be up there with ya,” says Lindsey, oily-slick.

“No.”

“Please?” Lindsey asks, with something that looks like it might have evolved from a childhood pout.

“No.”

Then, Lindsey smirks. “Why not? Are ya scared?”

Eliot’s eyes narrow, and he stands, grabbing the guitar out of his brother’s hands. “Fine,” he growls, “Come on. Let’s go do it.” Then he stalks off through the crowd, which parts before the scowling cloud of seething anger.

Lindsey chuckles and takes another sip of his drink. “He’s so easy.”

“You know he knows you just played him, don’t you?” Lorne says. Those boys really are adorable.

“‘Course he does,” Lindsey replies, “But that doesn’t mean he can keep sayin’ no to me. He’s never been able to. I’m manipulative like that,” he says with a charming grin before rushing off after his brother.

“Of course you are,” Lorne nods, drinks from his own glass.

“Of course,” he says to himself, thinking of the flashes of the man’s past and future gleaned from his aura when he has sung for him before. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t be manipulated. But that’s a story for another day.”

Then he sighs, shakes his head, and does his job; introducing the next performer, poor fella. No one wants to sing before Lindsey McDonald, and certainly not after him either. And if he’s with his brother…

Lorne’s felt it; these boys together, these twins, they’re a poem, they’re a legend, they’re one whole, they’re a masterpiece. If ever they decide to go professional, they’d make it. They’ve got it. But they won’t. They’re too invested, too tangled up and up the creek in their nows.

“Wow, now how about that? That’s great,” he says, leading the half-hearted applause when the off-key rendition of “I Will Always Love You” ends. “Now you all know one half of our next duo pretty well. He’s sung here a couple of times, once or twice or just about every Friday night. Well, folks, Lindsey’s here with his brother, who’s a little shy. How about we give him a warm welcome from LA? Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands, paws, claws, and tentacles together for the McDonald Boys!”

And the crowd goes wild.

Lindsey grins, eating it up, while the brother stands there behind him with the guitar, stoic as a hunk of mighty fine-looking granite. “Thank you,” the younger boy says into the mike, “Now, uh, this is a song we wrote together about the good things in life - alcohol, music, dancin’, and women. But mostly, having a good time.”

He looks back at Eliot, who rolls his eyes and starts playing the opening chord. It sounds like rock, a bit of country, and then Lindsey grabs the mike stand and starts singing.

So you’re tired and you’re beat
And you’ve worked all week
And you need a place you can let it go
Where the girls go wild
And the boys play hard
And you need a little more than just the radio.

Sweet golly gee,
thinks Lorne, admiring the bright pulsing aura around Lindsey, that boy really loves his brother. Thinks he’s the only truly good thing in his life. He’s seen it before, the crimson line binding the two of them with blood, but tonight, with the both of them here, together, oh, he can really see it now. Gonna get them into trouble some day. Big trouble.

Lindsey looks at Eliot again with a smirk, trying to get him to sing, daring him. Eliot shakes his head and keeps his fingers flying on that guitar.

It takes a few more lines and coaxing looks for Eliot to join in a half-hearted backup with a scowl on his face.

Welcome to my house
Buckle up tight
Everybody sings and drinks and laughs and gets high
It’s a country music
A little soul,
It’s a rock ‘n roll rodeo.


Well that’s different. Oh yes, very different. Both brothers had started on their paths to greatness through darkness at the same time, from the same point, yes, he can see it, all those years ago.

But Eliot had reached his line first, his limit, but surprisingly not his peak, and now, yes…Lorne can see them, the diverging paths in front of the young man, meandering, with two main roads carved the deepest into the man’s aura. One is a dark, black highway to purple destruction and crimson chaos, the other starts out in shadows, yet leads to a rosy new dawn, shining gold and silver. But Lorne can see how the shadowy road beckons, temptation playing its alluring part…

“And no matter what your story,” croons Lindsey, not knowing what Lorne can see in their song, “A good time is mandatory.”

“Well, rule number seven says don’t touch the women, but they can grab whatever they want to,”
cackles Eliot with a wicked smirk, getting into the mood of things, but more to make his brother shake his head in fond exasperation.

The crowd’s on its feet now, demon and human alike. There’s nothing like music with a good beat to bring everyone together. They’re all stomping in time, clapping their hands, and some of them are even trying to sing along to a song that their minds don’t know but that their souls recognize.

Lorne loves people to have a good time, but tonight, he isn’t having any of his own.

He’s no Bogie, but of all the karaoke joints in all the world, that man had to walk into his. And boy, does he wish he hadn’t. Because now, he has to tell him, and he hates (no, “dislikes” - “hate” is such an ugly word) telling people bad news. But perhaps, if he doesn’t ask, if he doesn’t want to know…

The song’s over all too soon, and he has to face the brothers.

They’re in the middle of a crowd of fawning women, but manage to extricate themselves (a bit unwillingly on Eliot’s part) to make their way over to Lorne. He hopes his expression doesn’t show anything of what he’d seen, but the minute they see him, he knows they can read it in his face. Oh, for the ability to lie. But it’s not in him; that is the very reason why Lindsey has chosen Caritas to be his sanctuary from the rest of the cruel world - somewhere deep in his cynical heart, the lawyer needs to know that not everyone in the world is a lying, cheating whore to money and power.

“Something up, Lorne?” Lindsey asks, concerned, not for himself, but for his friend. “See something?”

Eliot shoots a look at his brother. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know about what Lorne can do. Of course he doesn’t. He would never have even walked into the room if he’d known what hearing a few notes could show Lorne.

“Ah, well, uh…” Lorne stammers.

“Lorne?”

“Yes?” He laughs nervously.

Lindsey frowns at him. “Is it bad?” Even though he’s not singing, Lorne can feel his worry kick up a notch. It’s not the gift that tells him this, but his friendship with the man. And they are friends, although his stomach knots inexplicably tight as the thought passes through his mind. “Come on, you can tell me.”

“You didn’t come here for that. Just to have a good time,” Lorne says, trying to avoid the inevitable. Inevitable, because Lindsey McDonald, despite being one of the youngest employees at Wolfram and Hart, is one damn good lawyer, and he didn’t get where he is now just by being pretty.

“Is it about me?” he asks. Then his eyes slide over to his brother. “Or him?”

Lorne makes a noncommittal sound and looks down into his drink.

Eliot nudges Lindsey’s shoulder and frowns at him, questioning.

Lindsey sighs. “Lorne’s an anagoge,” he explains reluctantly, “He can read your aura if you sing for him.”

Eliot’s lips tighten into a thin line. “And you brought me here. To sing for him.” It’s not a question. It’s a reproach, telling Lindsey that he might just have crossed the line.

Lindsey makes a weak attempt at an apologetic expression. “I just wanted to have fun tonight.” He shrugs. “You don’t have to hear what it is.”

Eliot’s gaze bores into the Pylean, as if he can read him as well as any anagoge. “No, I want to know.” He pauses, eyes flickering to his brother before returning to Lorne. “Especially if it’s bad.”

Lorne heaves a heavy sigh and signals the bartender. “Alright, then.”

Eliot exchanges a look with his brother, who frowns and shakes his head subtly. Eliot tilts his head slightly towards the crowd while keeping his eyes on Lindsey. The younger twin sighs and says to the both of them, “I’ll leave you to it, then,” and departs, taking his drink.

“Do I die?”

The soft-spoken, yet blunt question blindsides Lorne. “Everybody dies, cupcake.”

Eliot smiles grimly and looks across at his brother, who’s watching them worriedly. Lorne doesn’t quite see what passes between them this time, but Lindsey turns away with a scowl and makes a very obvious show of not watching his brother and Lorne’s discussion.

Turning back to Lorne, “How does it happen?” Eliot asks with a deadly stillness. Serious blue eyes watch him with a critical gaze, not unlike his brother’s when consulting Lorne. However, the expression behind them is cooler and more suspicious than the lawyer’s, which is hilarious because Lindsey McDonald is as paranoid as they get.

“I don’t know,” Lorne replies truthfully. “I didn’t see that.”

Eliot digests this information without a blink. “What did you see, then?”

“A choice.”

“A choice?” Eliot repeats, with a raising of his eyebrows. “What choice?”

“Not to be cliché about it, a choice that will change the course of the rest of your life,” Lorne says, “Making this choice, it’ll be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do.”

Eliot frowns. Lorne can see him mulling over a certain phrase.

“It’ll be harder than… well, what you’re thinking of,” Lorne says, finally getting a reaction out of the man. The mercenary’s eyes sharpen, darken with the memory, and his hands twitch, as if reenacting their most terrible deed to date.

“Making that move, making that choice,” Lorne continues quickly, not wanting the man to dwell on that memory, “It’ll be hard. But you’ve already been thinking of making it, haven’t you?”

Eliot doesn’t answer. Taking a deep breath, he runs a hand through his hair. It’s cropped short like Lindsey’s, but like everything about the man, it’s got a harder edge to it. Military cut, so short that the natural curl in it is barely visible.

The flash that Lorne had seen of one of Eliot’s possible futures had been full of sharp edges, pain (both dealt and felt), and death, yes, a cloud of death, a veritable whirlwind of hate and anger and violence and death, all culminating in complete devastation. The other had been softer, no less pain, but pain of a different sort, less death, less…darkness. There had been love, not of the kind Lorne often gets consulted about, but the warm, pure kind, similar to the bond between the McDonald brothers.

And Lorne hopes, he hopes that Eliot chooses the harder road. Because the more difficult path will get him there. To the place where he needs to be. Redemption.

But the demon can’t give anything more than advice. He doesn’t tell people what to do. He merely guides them. They have to make their own choices, their own decisions. That, ironically, is what destiny and fate are all about. They’re all pawns, but the choices have to be their own.

But…

“You know what will happen,” he adds carefully, “how many enemies you’ll make if you take that step. But if you don’t…I hope you make the right choice, Eliot. For your sake. For his,” Lorne says, looking at Lindsey, who’s silently and emphatically sulking in a way that Lorne has never witnessed in the lawyer.

The expression in the soldier’s eyes softens as his gaze settles on his brother. Yes, those boys do love each other. And it will get them in trouble some day, but then again, it’s their bond that makes them stronger than anything that may come their way.

Beside him, Eliot pulls himself (and his thoughts) together and gives him a nod. “Thanks for the talk, Lorne. What do I owe you?”

Lorne waves the question away. “Nothing, pudding. Just make the right choice.”

Eliot drops his gaze and nods. He starts to say something, but stops. “See you around, then.”

Lorne pastes on a big smile. “You’re welcome anytime- ”

“Finish that sentence with some kinda dessert and I might hafta take offense,” Eliot interrupts, returning the smile (albeit on a much smaller scale, but it’s a lot friendlier at any rate).

Lorne chuckles. “‘Sugar’ alright? It’s not a dessert all by itself.”

“I can live with that,” Eliot says, shaking his head, amused.

Lindsey makes his way back to them, having felt the mood lift.

“So?” he asks anxiously.

“Yeah, got a lotta beautiful women in my future, is all,” Eliot says, throwing Lorne a wink. “He didn’t want you to feel bad about yourself ‘cause you won’t be getting any.”

Lindsey rolls his eyes. “Yeah, sure, sure, ya man-whore.”

“Now, now, boys,” Lorne cuts in, “You know the policy.”

“Alright,” Lindsey says amicably, shouldering his brother. “I guess we better take the argument outside then.”

“Be back soon,” Lorne says, “And Eliot, remember what I said. Let your hair down.” He pauses. “You’ll get that one later.”

Eliot briefly presses his lips into a thin line, then nods.

“What was that about?” Lorne hears Lindsey asking Eliot as they make their way out of his bar. “He tell you to stop bein’ so uptight?”

“Yeah, and he gave me some really great advice for gettin’ rid of conniving little brothers,” Eliot snarks back.

Lindsey sighs. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, El.”

Eliot throws an arm around his brother and draws him in close, so their heads bump together. “I know, Linny. It’s okay,” he says softly, “You just wanted to have fun.”

Lindsey nods, grateful that his apology had been accepted. “Guess that plan didn’t pan out,” he says, shrugging.

Eliot pulls away and slaps the back of his hand against Lindsey’s chest with a short laugh. “I did have fun. Just remind me not to come here again anytime soon. Can’t be good for his health to be diggin’ around in my head.”

“One show only?” snorts Lindsey.

“No encores,” Eliot agrees.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

AN: And that was my version of Eliot meeting Lorne at Caritas. In case you didn’t get it, it takes place right before Eliot made the choice to leave Moreau (worst thing he ever did, etc).

“Of all the gin joints in all the world…” - Dude. Humphrey Bogart. Casablanca.

“Let your hair down.” - *giggles* Get it? Get it?

“One show only, no encores.” - Eliotism from the pilot.

The song verses were from “The House Rules.”

Okay, I’m not really sure how Lorne’s anagogic thing works, so this is my take on it. Correct me if I got anything wrong.

The End

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