AN: Many thanks to Honestbee. The stuffed wolf toy in this chapter is taken directly, and with permission from Honestbee's wonderful story 'The Sparky Job'. I loved this story! If you want to know the whole story on this cute and much loved toy please read 'The Sparky Job'!
There is a brief mention of a girl in a bloody yellow dress. This is a reference to a nightmare that Eliot has in my story 'Wolf Moon'.
Phishing for Families
The drive back to Ms. Teo's felt easier. Eliot drove, Hardison had called shotgun, and Parker was rummaging through the bags in the back.
"Parker what are you doin' back there?" Eliot called over his shoulder.
"You think you're gonna find somethin' new back there?" Eliot saw the little French restaurant just around the corner from Ms. Teo's and decided that they would park a little farther up the street since the restaurant looked busy today.
"Maybe." She stuck her tongue out at him and went back to the bag she was looking through.
"Mama you and I went over the list twice before I shipped everything here. If it wasn't on the list it's not here." Hardison pulled up the list on his phone just in case she wanted to see it. "Are you missing something? Cause hopefully we'll be home soon."
Eliot parked Lucille a block from the restaurant near a little boutique. Getting out of the van Hardison looked around at the neighborhood. It was a pretty neighborhood with the old Victorian style houses that had been converted into businesses and painted bright colors like purple or orange. "How come you always park so far from the house?"
"It's one block Hardison." Eliot's standard growly tone was back.
"No. What I mean is you don't park in front of the house. Why not?"
"It's safer. You're not advertising where you're staying at, and it makes it easier to see if someone has followed you." The three of them started walking down Amelia St. About half way down there was a narrow overgrown alley. Eliot didn't know why but it appealed to him so he turned down the alley and decided to come to Ms. Teo's house through the back yard.
"You got something against sidewalks man?" Hardison slapped at a palm frond that was hanging over the back of a fence. "Let me guess 'this is another safety measure.'" Hardison lowered his voice in impersonation of Eliot.
"You should never use the same route more than twice in a row." Parker spoke from behind Hardison.
Hardison rolled his eyes heavenward and threw his hands in the air for a moment in utter defeat.
Eliot suddenly stopped and Hardison nearly ran into him. "What now?" Hardison stood on his toes and peered past Eliot. Parker grabbed the front of Hardison's shirt and pulled until his head was below the fence.
"Kamee." Eliot whispered. "I can hear her."
"So?" Hardison whispered back, not sure at all why they were whispering.
"She's hurt. I think she's hiding." Eliot glanced behind them and crouched a little lower to make it past the next fence without being seen.
"Wait. What makes you think she's hiding? How do you know she's hurt?" Hardison pulled out his phone.
"She's crying but she's trying to be quiet. And I can smell blood. Just a little."
"Maybe she just fell and skinned her knee." Hardison felt ridiculous bent almost in half, whispering, and following Eliot down an unused alley.
"No. Something is wrong. It's very…" For a moment the sight of a little girl in a bloody yellow dress flashed in Eliot's mind. "Something is wrong."
They continued down the alley until they were at the corner of Ms. Teo's yard. "You two wait here." Eliot looked up at the top of the six foot privacy fence. The tops of the decorative cane plants that Ms. Teo had planted stuck up above the top of the fence by at least another four feet. Eliot decided it would provide enough cover to not risk using the gate. Eliot hopped the fence landing lightly in the canes on the other side. The swish and sway of the canes was the only thing to indicate he'd gone that way.
When Eliot landed on the other side of the fence he paused. The sound of sniffling was clearer and very close by. "Kamee?" Eliot whispered and carefully started moving toward her. There was rustling from the undergrowth, and the leaves near Eliot parted around Kamee's tear streaked face. "Come here baby girl." Eliot whispered as he picked her up. He held her close against his chest for a moment and rocked her gently. She started to sniffle a little louder and Eliot was afraid she would start crying in earnest soon, and that would attract the wrong kind of attention. "Hardison, give Parker a boost. I'm going to hand Kamee over the fence to you guys. Then I need you to get back to Lucille. Yellott's guys are here."
"Yellott's guys? Really? Let me guess you smelled them?" Hardison couldn't help the chatter. He knew he talked too much when he was stressed but he'd always been that way and he had come to embrace it.
"It's a very distinctive scent." Eliot growled as he held Kamee up at the top of the fence. Parker smiled at Kamee and gave her a little wave before she reached for her. As soon as Parker had Kamee safely on their side of the fence, Hardison, who had been holding Parker up by her hips, lowered them back to the ground.
Parker turned to Hardison and settled Kamee against his chest. As soon as he had a hold on the baby, Parker kissed him briefly on the lips. "See you soon." She stepped away from him, grasped the top of the closest fence post with her left hand, and with a little hop she vaulted sideways over the top of the fence like a gymnast.
Parker landed right next to Eliot. "So what's the plan Sparky?"
"The plan was for you to go back to the van with Hardison."
"Nope. I'm sure that they sent more than one guy and you've got too many people in there that they could use against you."
Hardison shoved his phone back in his pocket and glanced up and down the alley. If he went back the way they had come he would have to move doubled over again to accommodate the uneven fence line like they had before but that would be even more awkward while he carried Kamee. Ms. Teo's privacy fence ran all the way to the end of the alley and from there it was only a half a block back to the busier public street.
"Okay baby girl. You gonna help Uncle Alec get back to Lucille right? No fussin'. No hollerin'. Right?"
Kamee sniffled and snuggled under his chin.
Hardison cradled Kamee against his chest, rubbing soothing circles on her back. He walked carefully and as quietly as he could to the end of the privacy fence and took a quick look up and down the street. Nothing stood out to him, and while he was certain that Eliot or even Parker would have spotted something that meant, either, everything was clear or that someone was watching him, he decided he would just have to chance it. He walked as fast as he could without running until he made it past a low growing palm that would obscure them from anyone at the front of Ms. Teo's house.
Hardison slowed slightly as he turned the corner in front of the restaurant on Magazine St., he needed to get down the block as quickly as possible but he didn't want to draw attention by running down the street. If anyone looked too closely at Kamee he would have a hard time explaining things. He had looked her over briefly in the alley, and saw the bloody smears on her knees, a small cut on her cheek, and a handprint bruise on her left arm. He could easily explain away everything but the bruise. He just hoped he could get back to Lucille without anyone taking notice of them.
"Fine Parker. What are you thinking then?" Eliot shifted his weight slightly from foot-to-foot. The swaying motion allowed him to view more of the back yard from between the leaves of the cane plants.
"Is there any way for you to tell where anyone is, in there?" Parker mimicked Eliot's motion to get a better view for herself.
Eliot turned his head slightly, closed his eyes and concentrated for a moment. He could hear the clomp of boots in the hallway that ran through the center of the house, and the squeak of the boards on the front porch. He could also hear muffled voices and quiet sobbing coming from the back corner of the house on the side nearest the street. "I think they might be holding everyone in Ms. Teo's bedroom." Eliot opened his eyes to one of Parker's scarier smiles.
"Okay. You go through the back door. I'm sure that you can keep them busy and I'll see who I can get out."
"I'll get you in. You try to free Toby and Ms. Teo first."
"Not the kids?" Parker's brow furrowed in confusion.
"Toby is a police officer and ex-military, he'll be a lot of help and Ms. Teo… Well she's got a few surprises. They'll be able to help you with the others." A wicked grin came to Eliot and he started to make his way to the side of the cane plants in preparation for crossing the small open space of the yard.
Hardison made it to Lucille with little, if any, notice at all. As soon as he was in Lucille with her doors locked he tried to set Kamee down in the middle of the duffle bags that Parker had been playing with earlier. She clung to him like a limpet. "Come on sweety you gotta let Uncle Alec go so that he can help rescue the others." The more he tried to set her down the louder her fussing got. Hardison was immediately struck with the fear of someone hearing her crying in the van. Hardison pulled her against his chest and patted her back until she calmed again. Holding her with one arm he started logging into his programs with his free hand. Gently rocking her he logged into the program he had created to monitor the cell phones for Yellott and his guys.
"Hardison? Parker and I are about to make our presence here known. Can you squelch the calls to the police from this neighborhood?" Eliot hoped that Hardison had made it back to Lucille by now.
"I'll try but I'm not set up for that yet. Besides little miss won't let me put her down so I'm not running at top speed here. Can you give me a minute?"
"Find Eliot's go-bag. Look in the big outside zipper pocket. That should help." Parker said with a grin in her voice.
Eliot gave Parker an odd look but turned his focus back to the task at hand.
Hardison found the bag and noticed a lump, on the side that Parker had described. Unzipping the pocket Hardison saw something furry. Reaching in he could tell it was a stuffed animal. Pulling it out, he could see that it was a wolf much loved and worn with age. He danced it in the air in front of Kamee. She immediately released the death grip she had on his shirt and held her little arms out for the toy. While she was distracted with the toy Hardison set her down amongst the duffle bags and turned back to his computers.
"Okay guys. I'm back with you. I don't know why Eliot's traveling with kids toys, but whatever. It worked and I thank you for that!" Hardison accessed the backdoor he'd installed in the Police Department's servers. "Okay guys. I can't stop radio traffic, but I can scramble anything that goes through their main system. So that should give you some extra time."
"Okay. Parker, I'm going to rush the back door and that should give you a couple of seconds to get into Ms. Teo's room."
Parker patted his shoulder. "I'm going to come in through the window. If they don't see me come in the house that will give me extra time."
"Okay. I'll do my best to keep them busy."
For just a second, they stared at each other. On Eliot's nod they both ran from the concealing bushes toward the house. Eliot didn't bother with keeping a normal human speed as he raced toward the house. Parker, sprinting at her fastest, couldn't begin to keep up with Eliot, but she didn't need to. She just needed to make it to the side of the house without being spotted.
Parker had noticed the window into Ms. Teo's bedroom was an old fashioned tilt window. It had a peg in the center of the frame on either side that allowed the window to tilt and it was secured with a simple thumb latch. She should be able to trip the latch and shimmy through the narrow opening. Parker looked up at the window that was at least twelve feet above the ground. Taking a few steps back she took a running leap. Gaining purchase with the toes of her shoes on the rough wall, she was able to reach the windowsill. Pulling herself up and bracing her weight on her left arm Parker pulled a slim and flexible lock pick, out of the pouch on her shoulder. This 'pick' wasn't meant for standard lock picking. It was exactly what you needed to trip a thumb latch.
The latch slid to the side and Parker shoved at the top of the window, causing the bottom of the window to swing forward toward her face. She lowered herself away from the windowsill so that she wasn't blocking the motion of the window as it tilted out. Pulling herself back up, she slid under the window and into the room. Dropping down into a handstand she walked forward a few paces on her hands before flipping gracefully to her feet.
Toby and Ms. Teo had noticed Parker's entrance before she had made it all the way into the room but everyone else was focused on the loud fight taking place not too far away in the house.
"Bout time." Toby looked up at Parker. Parker took a look at everyone in the room. Toby was handcuffed through the slats of one of the ladder back chairs from the kitchen, with his legs zip tied to the legs of the chair. Tami's hands were zip tied behind her back but she hadn't been secured to anything. She had Trenton in her lap and the two of them had been leaning against Toby. Both of them turned tear streaked faces toward Parker at Toby's words. Thankfully no one had thought it necessary to zip tie the five year old. Ms. Teo had been secured to one of her kitchen chairs in a similar fashion to Toby. The younger Miss Teo had also been zip tied to a chair.
Parker took out a new pick and released Toby from the cuffs. He rubbed his wrists a moment and took the small knife Parker offered him. Toby started in on the zip tie around Tami's wrists. Parker took out another small knife and set to work on Ms. Teo's bindings.
Before she could finish cutting through Ms. Teo's bindings, the sound of the fight drew closer and a man burst through the door. The momentary look of surprise on his face said that no one had realized that Parker had made it into the house. Eliot's very loud distraction had done its job. Toby got in the first punch just as Parker cut through the last of Ms. Teo's bindings. Ms. Teo jumped up and staggered for a second as she hurried to her closet. Parker turned to the younger Teo and started cutting her free.
Ms. Teo emerged from her closet with a crossbow. Parker did a double take but there was no denying that Ms. Teo was hefting a rather large crossbow to her shoulder.
"Down!" Ms. Teo yelled a fraction of a second before she pulled the trigger. Toby reacted on instinct honed by years in the military and dropped facedown to the floor. The bolt from the crossbow flew through the air faster than the human eye can track and lodged itself in the throat of the man Toby had been fighting with. The man stood a moment, brought a hand up toward his throat and collapsed back into the hallway.
The younger Teo and Tami had started screaming just about the time that the fight had started and were now being aided in the cacophony buy the loud crying of Trenton.
"Hush!" Ms. Teo yelled over the racket. "Hush your caterwaulin' this instant! Aint no need for such fussing. It's more than any ol' woman should hav'ta take." She wiped an arm across her brow and leaned against the crossbow, she had propped on the floor, like a cane.
"You killed him Gran!" Miss Teo was staring in horror at the man that was still laying half way into the room.
"Can't kill a werewolf that easy chil'. I just slowed him down for a bit is all." Ms. Teo leaned the crossbow against her dresser and walked past a stunned looking Toby to pick up the handcuffs that Parker had dropped to the floor when she'd freed him. "Won't stop 'im but maybe it' give us a bit o' warning eh." She took the cuffs and secured the wrists of the man still laying in her doorway.
The sound of footsteps coming in their direction had Parker and Toby moving toward the door as Ms. Teo turned and slipped past them. "Alright you babies step yourselves into my closet. There's a drop bar just left of the door." Ms. Teo hustled Tami and the children into the closet before she retrieved her crossbow. She had just finished loading another bolt when Eliot came through the door.
"Everyone okay in here?" Eliot looked around the room and relaxed just a fraction at the smirk on Parker's face.
"Yep. Everyone's okay Sparky."
"Chil' I am just so glad to see you." Ms. Teo set her crossbow down again and went back to the closet to bring out the others.
"Hey somebody want to fill me in?" Hardison's voice came over the earbuds.
"We're all okay. Ms. Teo shot a guy in the throat and Eliot did his thing so we're all okay." Parker told him.
"Not all." Toby looked at his wife and tears came to his eyes as she brought Trenton to him. "They took Kamee. They said they…" He couldn't continue and had to look away.
"She's okay! We have her!" Parker turned to face the Youngs. She had been so busy trying to free them that she forgot to tell them about Kamee.
"We found her hiding in the back yard. She's a little scraped up but she'll be fine. She's the reason we knew yall were in trouble." Eliot looked at the family.
Toby turned and reaching past his wife and son he pulled Parker and Eliot into a hug. They both patted at his back for a moment until he let them go. "Thank you! Thank you so much." The tears were running down his face in contrast to his huge smile.
"Guys! You got ten minutes maybe less until the police are there." Hardison had done what he could to stop the calls to the police from the neighboring houses but someone had managed to get past Hardison's counter measures.
"Ten minutes till the police are here." Eliot announced to the room.
"You break any of my window's cher?" Ms. Teo asked Eliot as she stepped over the man laying in her doorway.
"No ma'am. Why?" Eliot took a closer look at the man Ms. Teo had stepped over. He recognized him as James Alvarado. The werewolf from the meet at the veterinary clinic.
"Cause if we get all the bodies into my basement and straighten up a bit no one from the police'll be any the wiser." Eliot nodded and started to lift Alvarado so that he could drag the still unconscious werewolf to the basement.
"What did you shoot this guy with?" Eliot looked at the bolt protruding from Alvarado's neck and thought that the bolt alone shouldn't have been enough to keep a werewolf down for this long.
"Tincture of hellebore." Ms. Teo called from the foot of the stairs.
Toby picked up Alvarado by the legs and started to help Eliot move the body down the stairs. "I don't like this, man. We oughta be tellin' the cops what happened when they get here." Toby grunted as they managed the turn at the top of the stairs.
Eliot glanced at Toby's hands that were clenching Alvarado's ankles, and then back up at Toby's face in silent question.
"I'm going along with this cause we owe you but I don't like it. What's the problem with telling the cops what's going on? It looks like we could use the help." Toby followed along and let Alvarado's legs drop a second after Eliot dropped the upper half of Alvarado to the floor in front of Ms. Teo's work bench.
"Step aside cher. You don' want no part o' this." Ms. Teo stepped forward and secured Alvarado's wrists with an old fashioned looking pair of manacles. Eliot could immediately smell Alvarado's skin start to burn.
"Silver lined?" Eliot looked at Ms. Teo.
"Most wolves aint as accommodatin' as you cher." Ms. Teo patted his cheek as she made her way back to the stairs.
"That's why we don't want the local cops involved." Eliot looked at Toby.
"You're tellin' me she aint jokin'?!" Toby looked back and forth between the top of the stairs, where Ms. Teo had disappeared, and Eliot's pensive face.
"This is not something you can tell anyone about. I wouldn't have told you any of this but Ms. Teo is of a different mindset. Now that you know; you are responsible for keeping this secret." Eliot pinched the bridge of his nose. He knew that Ms. Teo believed it was better to know than it was to wonder, and risk getting into trouble through ignorance, but Eliot wished she had kept this to herself just this once.
"She was serious? You're some kinda monster?" Toby's face was showing everything he was thinking.
"He's not a monster! He's ours." Parker gave Toby a look that promised violence. Eliot was glad that she had her hands full helping Ms. Teo move another unconscious thug.
"If you tell anyone what you've learned today it could mean your life." Eliot looked Toby squarely in the eye.
"Is that a threat?" Toby felt like he was on some kind of amusement park ride, or no, more accurately, the middle of a car wreck.
"Not from me. If you tell people what you know it would probably mean my life as well." Eliot needed to help get things ready. He knew time was against them but he really needed Toby to willingly keep his mouth shut when the cops got there.
"You really are serious aren't you?" Toby sounded like he'd gotten past the biggest part of his disbelief.
Eliot purposely flashed yellow eyes at Toby. "Yes. We are. Now come on. Cops'll be here any minute." Eliot turned for the stairs. "Hardison? ETA?"
"Four minutes. Do you want me to bring Kamee back to the house?"
"Yes." Parker answered over the earbuds.
"No." Eliot answered at the same time.
"Which is it people?" Hardison was circling the block in Lucille.
"No. We don't want the cops to see the bruise on her arm. No need to make them anymore suspicious." Eliot took Ms. Teo's place and helped Parker haul the third guy to the basement.
Parker started securing the unconscious thugs with large black zip ties. Eliot thought about asking Parker where she had gotten them and then decided that he probably didn't want to know. Heading upstairs to see what else they needed to help with Eliot found Ms. Teo in the kitchen, trying to right the kitchen table, when it clearly had two broken legs. "You go on cher. I got this." Ms. Teo shoved on the table until it was leaning a little drunkenly in the corner but remained upright. Moving to the dining room where he knew the worst of the fight had happened he found Tami sweeping up broken glass.
"Here let me help." Eliot bent to hold the dustpan. "Where are the kids?"
"Teo took Trenton to the back yard while we clean up the glass." Tami was still visibly upset and Eliot was trying to think of what to do with her when the cops came. "Where's Kamee? When can I see her?"
"Hardison has her and as soon as the cops leave he'll bring her to you." Eliot gently squeezed her shoulder before he turned to take the dustpan full of broken glass to the kitchen trash.
"Cops just drove past me. You got thirty seconds." Hardison warned.
"Thirty seconds!" Eliot called. Ms. Teo shooed Tami into the kitchen.
"Eliot cher?" Ms. Teo looked around. "Toby." Ms. Teo waved him over. "You boys keep cleaning up even when the cops get here and just follow my lead." With a twinkle in her eye she moved to the living room and started to make a show of righting the couch that had been flipped over. She was partway through flipping the couch when the doorbell rang. Ms. Teo dropped the couch with a loud thump.
"I'm comin'. Just a minute." Ms. Teo opened the front door to two police officers. "Oh my!"
"Ma'am. Someone reported a disturbance. Seems there was a lot of yelling and the sound of a fight coming from your house. May we come in?" While the first cop spoke with Ms. Teo the second one looked past her into the house. Eliot and Toby finished righting the couch and turned to the door.
"Everything okay momma?" Toby asked and set a hand on her shoulder.
"Well you boys horsin' around has caused the cops to come." She swatted gently at Toby's arm.
"I am so sorry." Eliot did his best to look chagrined.
"Are you sure everything's okay here?" The second officer asked.
"College buddy of mine stopped by and we got to playin' around and things got a little outa hand." Toby looked between the obvious mess in the living room and the officers at the door. "I'm so sorry for the trouble."
After a few more questions the officers left and Toby let out a sigh of relief. He didn't know what they would have done if the cops had found out about the men in the basement.
"Hardison, wait two minutes and then come to the house." Eliot watched the cops drive away.
"We need to find out how they found us." Parker closed the door to the basement and joined the others in the living room.
"Tami told them where we are." Hardison turned the corner two blocks away and started making his way to Ms. Teo's house.
"What?" Eliot and Parker both asked loudly at the same time. The others turned concerned looks on them.
Eliot looked at Toby. "Tami told them where to find you." The question in Eliot's statement was clear.
"I didn't! I don't know any of these people." Tami started to cry again and leaned into Toby's side.
"Believe me. My wife wouldn't have talked to these guys. She doesn't know them." Toby's expression was dark.
"Does she know someone named Jennifer Rael?" Hardison prompted.
"Do you know someone named Jennifer Rael?" Eliot repeated Hardison's .
"Jenny? Oh no! Is she okay?" Tami looked up at Toby.
"Hardison where are you? This'll be easier with you here to explain." Eliot growled.
"I'm pullin' up in front of the house now." Hardison glanced back over his shoulder. Kamee was asleep on the duffle bags sucking her thumb with Eliot's wolf cuddled in her arms. Hardison couldn't help the soft smile on his face at the sweet picture. He put Lucille in park and unlocked the doors. Just as he reached for the handle on the sliding door the door slid open.
Toby took a quick look around the inside of the van and spotting Kamee, swept her up into his arms. "Oh baby girl. I was so scared." He pressed several gentle kisses across the top of her head as he rocked her against his chest. Turning he placed Kamee into her mother's arms.
"Let's get everyone back inside. We need to talk." Eliot was keeping a suspicious eye on the street.
Eliot sent Parker and Hardison to a nearby restaurant to pick up pizza. While they were gone Toby and Eliot finished cleaning up as much of the mess in the house as they could.
When Parker and Hardison got back with the food everyone gathered in Ms. Teo's living room, since the dining room table didn't look like it could hold up so much as a paper plate.
"So you said that Tami told Yellott's guys where we are?" Eliot looked at Hardison while he grabbed another slice of pizza.
Hardison glanced at Tami but looked at Eliot while he answered. "She was texting Jennifer Rael. I've got text messages starting the night we were at their house. Looks like sometime that night, Jennifer's cousin Jarrod got a hold of her phone. Jarrod is one of Yellott's corner boys. When Yellott's guys on the force couldn't figure out where we'd taken them that's when Jarrod must have taken Jennifer's phone. The next day Jarrod started texting on Jennifer's phone." Hardison handed his tablet to Eliot so that he could see the text messages. "He mentioned stopping by the house and being worried that no one was home but the front door was open."
"And I said not to worry about it because we were in town." Tami's sounded confused.
"So he did a little more phishing and eventually you told him what hotel you were at." Hardison looked at Tami.
"I thought it was strange that they found us so fast. Usually a search like that takes a lot longer unless we get a reliable tip." Toby shook his head and set his empty plate on the coffee table.
"After we got away from the hotel, I guess they waited so that we wouldn't be moving when they started phishing again. Jarrod tried to get Tami to tell him where we are but …"
"But I kept things pretty vague. I didn't want to get Jen involved in whatever this is." Tami wanted to defend herself but the truth was pretty damning.
"So Jarrod, still posing as Jen, said that she was worried because a dangerous criminal had been spotted near the hotel they had been in." Hardison held up the tablet with a picture of a very angry Eliot.
"Where did they get that picture?" Parker tilted her head a little to the side as though that would make things clearer.
"Body cam on one of the officers at the hotel." Hardison set the tablet to the side. "After that Jarrod asked Tami to share her location with the location feature on her phone and that led them right to us."
"I'm so sorry. I had no idea."
"Why didn't you show me that picture? Did you really think this man" Toby waved a hand in Eliot's direction. "was a dangerous criminal?"
Parker's laughed popped out and turned into a snort. Hardison cleared his throat and elbowed Parker in the ribs. Eliot rubbed a hand over his face and grabbed another beer.
"I'm sorry but I don't know these people. Jen said she wanted me to share my location as a safety measure. I didn't know any of this would happen." Tami sounded like she was balanced precariously between tears and raging.
"Past is past chil' nothin' for it now but move ahead." Ms. Teo handed Tami a napkin to wipe her eyes with.
"Ms. Teo this is just as much my fault. I'm so sorry we brought this trouble to your house." Eliot leaned toward her. Ms. Teo reached out and grasped Eliot's hand shaking it just a little.
"Cher I aint had that much fun in quite a while." She grinned at him before letting go of his hand.
"So if they were tracking us through Tami's phone why didn't they just kill us when they got here?" Toby's question caused Tami to gasp.
"Looks like that picture of Eliot got sent to Yellott" Hardison switched his gaze from Toby to Eliot. "and he thinks you were planning to sell him to the Feds." Hardison looked at the rest of them. "So he decided to use you guys as bait."
"I can't believe you guys! Why hasn't anyone told the cops? Isn't that what you're supposed to do when something bad happens?" The younger Teo threw her paper plate at the coffee table and stormed from the room.
"Oh to be young an' sure a ya self." Ms. Teo sighed dramatically and made to get up.
"Let me have a word with her. It's my fault." Eliot stood and dusted his hands across his pants as he headed for the back door.
"Teo. Can I talk to you?" Eliot sat on the stoop next to Teo.
"Can't you just go away?" She sniffled and turned her face away.
"I'm sorry about what happened today. It's my fault for bringing the Youngs here when I knew that people were looking for them." Eliot stared across the yard and gave her a moment to collect herself.
"So why didn't we tell the police what happened when they came here? We could have told them and they would have arrested those guys."
"I know. But there are other reasons that we can't give those guys to the cops. I promise that they won't bother you or your grandmother again."
"And how come we haven't taken that guy to the hospital? The one that gran shot." Teo wiped her eyes on her arm.
"He's not just a regular guy. He's probably feeling a lot better by now and by tomorrow it will be like it never happened." Eliot could hardly believe what he had just said even though it was the truth. But he wanted to make things right between Teo and her grandmother.
"Gran called him a werewolf but there is no such thing." Teo sounded angry.
"Your grandmother isn't lying to you. She just sees the world differently."
"She called you a werewolf too." Eliot was trying to remember where the younger Teo was at when Ms. Teo had said that but he couldn't be sure. Maybe she had been at the top of the stair, or one of the basement windows had been open? It didn't really matter though.
"She did. Like I said your grandmother sees things differently and that's okay." Eliot was about to stand up when Teo grabbed his hand. He couldn't help the flinch as her silver ring burned into the back of his hand. When he pulled his hand away the burn was evident.
"Oh my god! You really are one!" Teo ran back into the house screaming "Gran! Gran!"
"Well that really fixed things there Spencer." Eliot muttered to himself as he sucked at the burn on the back of his hand trying to sooth the fading pain of it.
"Didn't go so well?" Hardison commented as Eliot sat back down on the couch.
"Well it certainly could have gone better." Eliot grumped and reached for his beer.
Parker spotted the burn on the back of his hand and grabbed his wrist before he reached his beer. "What happened there Sparky?"
"Just an accident. Leave it be Parker." Eliot pulled his hand away and grabbed his beer leaning back against the couch.
"Sparky? Is this yours then?" Toby mused aloud as he flicked the tag on the stuffed wolf that Kamee was sleeping with. When the tag settled back, the name Sparky was clearly printed there on the tag in a child's handwriting. Toby was privately a little incredulous that a man of Eliot's age and demeanor would have one of his childhood toys with him. Toby looked from the tag on the toy, to his child's sleeping face. He didn't care why Eliot had brought the toy with him he was just grateful to see his daughter so peaceful and content.
"It is." Eliot growled the words in a clear challenge. Hardison looked confused but wasn't going to ask about the toy in front of people that were virtual strangers. Eliot reached up to Parker's hand that was resting on his shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. He wouldn't bring up Parker's brother or what the gift of that toy, from Parker to him, meant to him.
Toby heard the defensive tone and realized his misstep. Looking up at Eliot and his team Toby wanted to make things right. He hadn't meant to insinuate anything about Eliot or his having had the toy on hand. He had put the nickname together with the name on the tag and was intrigued to see the puzzle pieces fit together. "It's not,… I didn't mean…" Toby was having trouble finding the right words.
Tami didn't understand exactly what was going on but she could clearly see the three people across from her closing ranks. She placed a hand on Toby's arm to stop his stammering. "Thank you. Thank you for letting her play with it for a little while. It must be something special so I really appreciate you letting her sleep with it." At her thanks the building tension seemed to recede.
Eliot realized that he had overreacted and taken offence where clearly none was meant. He was tired and the day had been stressful, but that was no excuse. He knew he could do better. He sighed and rubbed his face, leaning back between Parker and Hardison. "You're welcome. I'd offer to let her keep it but you're right, my little sister gave it to me, so it's not something I can part with." A soft expression tugged on the corner of Eliot's mouth.