Don't want shelter,
Nothing to keep me from the storm,
And you can't hold me down,
'Cause I belong to the hurricane.
It's gonna blow this all away.
—Florence + The Machine, "Hurricane Drunk."
Their powers come in when they're children. It starts off small, in almost unnoticeable ways. Jacob makes the water in the bathtub slosh around even when he's not moving. Lamps flicker when Eliot touches them. It grows, though, and quickly. Jacob gets whipped, and no water comes out of any of the faucets. Eliot gets his toys taken away, and the lights short out.
Soon it's impossible not to notice that anyone who touches Eliot gets shocked. It's just a little jolt, but it's still jarring and painful. Soon, hugs stop. So does hand-holding, goodnight kisses, and all the thousand and one other little touches that are needed for healthy childhood development. By the time they're six, the only person who does touch Eliot is his brother. Jacob never gets shocked—water and electricity, they go together, even if it is dangerous for everyone else.
Eliot learns to control it in slow degrees, but it's not easy. Just like Jacob, his power is tied to his emotions, and those are notoriously fickle things. Any strong emotion, and he starts sparking at the fingertips like a live wire; if it's strong enough, little tongues of lightning will snake over his arms and the back of his neck. And even when he is perfectly calm or just content, he gives of an ambient charge, humming all over.
When their mother dies, there's a three-day blackout all over the entire town.
After that, it gets so much worse. Their father's never been an easy man to live with, but without their mother to keep his temper in check, it becomes another creature entirely. He blames the brothers, says if they weren't a pair of freaks, it never would have happened. Their abnormality was what killed her.
He has to. He is not like Jacob, whose slow-steady tides can take anything and not be broken by it. They're drowning here, but Jacob can breathe underwater. Eliot cannot. The year before they graduate, he packs up only a few clothes and runs away to a recruiting office.
He never does tell Moreau exactly what he can do. He's not sure why, since it would put him a class above. He doesn't use his lightning to kill anyone, either. Not on purpose anyways. Sometimes it acts out of its own free will, particularly when he's being tortured in an Armenian bunker. You can hardly stick a knife into an electrical outlet and expect for nothing to happen, after all.
He supposes he wants to keep it to himself because it's one of the few things he has left from his childhood. Memories of finding old lightbulbs with Jacob and making them light up in his hands. Running outside during storm season when any other kid would be inside, because they never had to be afraid of catching a cold from the rain or being struck by lightning. Hanging strings of fairy lights in their treehouse and making them light up with a touch. The lightning is something pure and clean, and he has no desire to taint it by using it to carry out Moreau's dirty work. He can do that well enough with his bare hands.
He never tells his team, either. He's not sure about that one, either. Even when he knows that they wouldn't ask him to hurt anyone with his lightning, he doesn't tell them. Maybe because he doesn't want them to go the same route as everyone else he gets close to. Jacob insists that he's wrong; the crew isn't afraid of him, so why would they care? Eliot doesn't agree. They might not be afraid of him now, but that's sure to change if they knew.
So he keeps it to himself and takes what he can get.
"I hate this weather," Sophie mutters, standing at the window with her arms folded, looking out at the city. "It's all so dreary."
Eliot peers out the window at the heavy grey overcast, the colour of a hammered steel sheet. "I like it," he replies.
"Ugh, I don't know how."
He shrugs one shoulder but knows exactly why. He loves this weather because he can feel the charge in the air, taste the lightning that's just building up in the clouds. He knows that his brother will be psyched, too. The rain is like an instant upper for Jacob.
"I got a delivery here for a Mr. Johan Fleming?"
Eliot raises his glass. "Right here," he calls. The courier walks over and hands him a box. He signs the form and slips the courier a tenner.
"Johan Fleming?" Sophie echoes with an arch of her eyebrows.
"Old alias," he replies, taking out his pocketknife and carefully cutting open the box. "Only one person knows it anymore, so I know it's from him." He pulls out the airpacs, hands them over to Parker, and unwraps the tissue paper. Inside is a finely carved wooden box, excellent workmanship, something Tibetan, perhaps. He lifts the lid. The inside is lined with fabric and it's full of pinkish stones; there's a note attached to the lid—Happy storm season –J.
"What's that?" Parker asks, leaning over his shoulder.
"It's a gift from someone I've known for a very long time." He picks up a piece of it and puts it in his mouth.
"It's candy?" Parker's voice brightens.
"Nope. It's salt."
She narrows her eyes at him and reaches over his shoulder to pluck a small crystal out of the box, popping it in her mouth. The smile vanishes off her face, and without a word, she opens her mouth and sticks out her tongue, letting the crystal fall out of her mouth to the floor. "It's salt."
"That's what I just said," Eliot chortles.
Parker looks at him in betrayal. "You're eating salt."
The others all stare at him with mixed looks of shock and disgust, and he just laughs, closing the box and crushing up the packaging it'd come in. Jacob's sent him the good stuff, too. Himalayan pink rock salt, probably straight from a mine. Having a magic door surely came in handy.
"Eliot, that…that cannot be healthy," Sophie says, shaking her head in disbelief, staring at the box.
Eliot only smiles and shrugs. He isn't quite sure how he can explain to them that having high sodium is actually very good for him since it makes him a better conductor; Jacob had looked it up for him when they were nine, after Eliot started feeling the compulsion to add spoonfuls of salt to literally everything he ate and drank. And he really likes the taste of it, too. Sue him.
He pulls the note off the lid and notices that there's something written on the back; he flips the card over. You know that I'm right.
"Right about what?" Parker asks, still leaning over his shoulder and poking at the rock salt curiously.
"Nothing." Eliot slips the note up his sleeve. "Nothing at all."
Of course, life doesn't exactly care about what kind of personal vows a person takes. Eliot gets his proof of that when Parker and Hardison are taken by Ephraim Langdon, an old business associate of Moreau. He's always hated Langdon; it'd been his biggest test of control not to light the bastard up like a Christmas tree whenever they had to meet. When they took down Moreau, it'd also brought down most of Langdon's business as well.
Eliot knows that Parker and Hardison are both trapped. Even if no cuffs could ever hold the thief, Langdon's personal method of containment would—if she escaped, then he would start cutting pieces off of Hardison for every minute she was gone. People could take pain—the pain of others was harder to stomach.
It's the first time he's ever wanted to hurt someone with his lightning, and the first time he ever gives in. He goes into Langdon's little fortress bare-handed. The cameras on the door explode when he gets close to them, and the locking mechanism begins showering sparks. He shoves the doors open no problem.
The guards don't have guns. It's not a surprise. Langdon wouldn't want to risk Eliot taking a gun off one of them, and he'd want Eliot alive to suffer. Instead, they're armed with Tasers. It almost makes him laugh. When one of them shoots the Taser at him, the barbs hurt when they sink into his skin, but the electricity pouring across the wires doesn't. It almost tickles, the energy dancing across his skin and merging with his own powers, like taking a shot of expresso. The guard is the colour of cottage cheese when Eliot walks right up to him and yanks the Taser out of his hand and knocks his lights out with a blow across the face.
The rest of the guards go easy. One touch and they're down for the count, shaking and twitching on the floor. He doesn't kill them. Maybe they'd be a little more careful about who they worked for after this. When he climbs the stairwell, he wraps both hands around the railing and sends his power racing up the metal bar, all the way up to the top floor, and hears the faint cries above him as anyone who had the misfortune of touching the railing at that moment received several thousand volts.
He gets Hardison first. The hacker is unhurt, save for a few little bumps where he'd tried to fight off the kidnapping. Good. Parker hadn't tried to call Langdon's bluff. He'd taught her about that.
Eliot's almost humming with power as he fries the locks on the door and lets himself in. The guards go down almost in unison; they lunge for him at the same time, trying to rush him, and as soon as they touch him, they're done.
"How'd you do that?" Hardison asks, staring at Eliot in amazement.
"I'll tell you when we're safe," Eliot replies tersely, already mentally planning his escape. They're going to hate him for this, he just knows. If not for lying to them, then for being a freak of nature.
Before they even reach the stairs, Parker's dropping out of the ceiling to hug him tightly. Eliot nearly panics at the sudden touch, but the moment she throws her arms around him, his power mellows out, retreating back so he doesn't give her even a little static shock.
"Your hair's braided," she remarks when she lowers her arms. "You've never braided all of it before."
Eliot manages a smile. Tying his hair back is a necessity, otherwise it'd all stand up everywhere when he uses his power. As it is, a few strands of blonde hair are standing out at strange angles. "C'mon, let's go home."
Langdon gets to live this time. Eliot hopes the man is smart enough to know he's used his one and only free pass.
He has to tell them when they're home. There's no way to cover up what he did, to explain away what happened with lies. Eliot explains how he's had his powers since he was a kid, how he's always been able to do what he does, just like Jacob with water. He holds his hands out and conjures lightning between his palms, tongues of blue-white lightning darting to and fro around his hands, coiling between his fingers and up his wrists. It feels good, using it after so long keeping it under wraps, like a bandage wound too tight finally being cut away. It doesn't take nearly as long to explain everything as he'd expected, and when he finishes, Eliot sits quietly, waiting for the shoe to drop, for the gentle letdown.
What he gets is Hardison exclaiming, "Yo, so that's why my tech acts up around you, man! Damn! No wonder you kept breaking the damn earbud!"
And then Parker leaps on him with no hesitation, making delighted sounds as she climbs over him. "You're a Taser!" she exclaims in glee. "You're a human Taser!"
They both scold him for not telling sooner, pin-balling between questioning him and making plans for new gear for him. Eliot sits in the middle of them, stunned, until he remembers how to speak.
"You aren't…afraid or…?"
Hardison snorts. "Man, you fold your socks. Excuse me for not tremblin' before you, okay?"
"You've never zapped us before. You're not going to do it now. What's there to be afraid of, Sparky?" Parker adds, looking absolutely ecstatic to use her little nickname for him.
Eliot blinks at them in disbelief. A single thought forms in his head—Jacob's never going to let me live this down—and then he's laughing, laughing until he cries.
Four Months Later
He opens his eyes and blinks a few times. Parker's standing in front of him holding out a hanbō staff that's made out of smooth wood that was nearly black, like ebony; the entire length of the hanbō is coiled with gleaming copper wire, and both ends are capped with copper as well. He takes it in hand, a little awed. Taking a few steps back from them, he spins it in hand experimentally, liking the balance of it. "What is this made out of?" he asks, inspecting the hanbō. It feels solid, something that could break bone without much effort, but it handles more like a bamboo or rattan. When he tests it, it's quite flexible, too.
"Cloud pine," Parker replies.
Hardison shrugs at Eliot's arched eyebrows. "Your brother gave us a piece of it when we were asking about your birthday. He said that we should get it made out of that stuff. Said it was from a magic tree."
That sounds about right. Speaking of, he still has to open Jacob's present. When he lifts the lid of the box, he finds a matching bō, similarly bound in copper wires. There's a note attached. I told you so –J.
Parker climbs up onto his back like a monkey, peering over his shoulder. "What he'd tell you?" she asks, her pointy chin digging into his shoulder with her words.
He reaches up and clasps his hands over her, wrapped around his chest. "Nothing," Eliot replies with a smile. "Nothing at all."
A/N: Eliot's "old alias" Johan Fleming is the human alias for the male half of the Wonder Twins. "Johan's" real name was Zan. And he could become any form of water.