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Un-beta'ed. No profit, no infringement of copyright intended.
Family Reunion 2/?
"So what you got to tell me that's so important you gotta take time off work?" asked Chris when they were back at Elliot's place in Glen Oaks.
He glanced around at the living room, hoping whatever Elliot had in mind didn't include him helping to paint the place for when Kathy came home. It looked as if it needed a coat of paint. He decided not to mention this to Elliot, just in case.
"Not tell, show," he said.
He walked over to the computer desk and pulled a file of notes and documents out of a drawer. Chris had a suspicion that he knew what it was. He narrowed his eyes. Elliot waved the file at Chris.
"I've got a lead," he said.
"Fabulous," said Chris as if he didn't mean it. He didn't.
Elliot sat down on the couch and opened the file on the coffee table. He started unpacking a seemingly endless succession of handwritten notes, photographs and official documents, while speaking rapidly about them to Chris.
"I'm getting a soda," Chris mumbled, heading back to the kitchen.
"Sure," said Elliot. "Grab me one too."
Rummaging through the fridge Chris noticed a six-pack of beer amongst the milk, leftover roast vegetables, eggs, yoghurt and soft drinks. Elliot was still going on in the background. He felt grateful that his hearing wasn't so hot sometimes. He came back to the living room with two beer cans. He tossed one to Elliot who caught it expertly. Chris cracked his own open before flopping into Elliot's armchair and putting his feet on the coffee table.
"Couldn't you have told me this over dinner last night?" Chris demanded.
Elliot looked at him with that special look. Chris hated it when he did that. It always made him feel bad and that made him feel angry.
"Chris, we are this close -" Elliot held his thumb and forefinger half an inch apart, "- to finding them. I can feel it. I've been doing this for a long time."
He sure had. Obsessive fuck. Couldn't he leave well alone? Chris clutched at straws.
"You said something about some PI finding this stuff for you. How trustworthy is he? I know these guys. Charge you an arm and a leg to get information you coulda got off the internet. Half the time it's a scam. How much did you pay this ... sucker?"
Chris was trying to alter his vocabulary a bit as he was spending a lot of time around Toby's and Elliot's kids. He had a few insights into a certain aspect of the private investigator trade. He had actually been a PI for short while in the late eighties when Elliot had been in the Marines, but he hadn't told Elliot that. A lot of "these guys" had been his colleagues. Elliot waved away his concerns.
"Jim Danner is an ex-Marine buddy of mine. We go back a long way and he's legit. `Sides he didn't charge me for this. He did it as a favor because of the circumstances. Look."
Elliot held out some papers to him and some photos. Chris leaned over and took them. He'd left his glasses at home.
"The guy in the bottom left of the top picture is a strong lead."
Most of the photos were old. They looked as if they dated back to the sixties at least, but some were recent. The guy was blurry and mainly had his back to the camera in all the shots that Chris flipped through, but he wasn't concentrating. Before he had felt bored and irritated, but now he was starting to get a bad feeling. It was a nebulous ache in his gut, as elusive as a shadow, but one thing he was sure about, with growing clarity, was that he didn't want to continue this investigation.
"Jim thinks the guy had something to do with it, but it's hard to be sure after so long and that's why he's been collecting information on him. If we can track him down and talk to him, I'm sure he'll be able to tell us something."
"Elliot, if he hasn't come forward before now or tried to find us and if he's been so fucking hard to locate, why'd you think he'd talk to us now? It's obvious he doesn't want to be found."
That look again. But Chris was adamant. He took his feet off the table, sat forward, put the stuff down in front of Elliot. Reached over and took Elliot's hand as Elliot reached over to gather up his precious file. He made his voice as soothing as possible.
"Think it through, Elliot. Think through what you're doing. Do you really think finding our parents is going to make any difference now? Do you think it's going to change anything for us? We needed them when we were growing up, not now. Finding them now can't change that. Obviously they didn't want us. That's why they gave us away. Either that or they're dead and no one else wanted us. We don't need them. We got each other. That's what counts."
"Chris, don't you want to know who you are?" Elliot asked.
"I know who I am," Chris muttered, slouching back in his chair and folding his arms. "Nothing'll change that."
They stared stubbornly at each other. Then Elliot got off the couch and came and sat on the coffee table next to where Chris had put his boots up again.
"Chris, I need to find them. I need to know their names at least and if possible I'd like to know why they gave us up. And I need you to help me. I don't want to do this on my own any longer. Finding you this year has been the best thing that's ever happened to me. It's changed my life. We're together now."
Chris scowled and looked down. Elliot's finding him had turned his whole life on its head and he wasn't sure he was ready for more surprises on that scale. Most of all he wasn't sure if he was ready to find any more of his real family.
All the time he had spent with Elliot this past year had made huge dents and holes in his defense mechanisms and that made him feel constantly vulnerable. Every time he saw him he felt as if his soul had been stripped bare and exposed. He felt as if there was an thick invisible cord running directly from his heart to Elliot's and that no matter where Elliot was, no matter how far apart they were, that goddamned cord would stretch and keep them connected. He wasn't sure what was worse, being with him or being apart. It all hurt too much. It made him want to go and work out all day to take his mind off it. But nothing, not even that, worked. He'd tried.
He'd told nobody about the cord, not Elizabeth (his shrink), not Toby, definitely not Elliot. His only consolation was that Elliot probably felt the same. That's why he hated That Look. He was getting it again now, full force, only feet away from his face. How'd Elliot manage to make his eyes look so dark and bruised? He should try to emulate it. It might work on Beecher if he was anywhere close enough to see it. Thinking about missing Toby distracted him a bit.
"Well, if it means that much to you, Elliot," he said in as casual a tone as he could produce, "I ain't gonna get in your way. Let me know if I can help."
Fuck! How had that last sentence slipped out? Elliot brightened visibly and patted his denim-clad leg.
"That's great, Chris! I knew I could count on you!"
Chris hadn't known that. What was worse than Elliot's surprises was that Chris kept surprising himself too.
"So what do we do now?" he asked.
"Get the phone book and a pen. We got some work to do."
Chris went off cursing mentally to fetch the phone book from by the phone. Right now the only person he wanted to call was Toby.
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