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Unbeta'ed. Not mine, no money made from them.

Family Reunion 3/?

by Rosybug


Toby hadn't called. Chris checked his phone again to make sure. He hadn't sent a text message either. Probably too busy. Chris's fingers itched to speed-dial his number. But he put the phone away. It was better that way. Better for everybody.

"Wanna shoot some hoops?" he called to Elliot who was still following up on some of the numbers they had found in the phone book.

Elliot had checked every angle of Jim Danner's lead and had planned a stake out for tomorrow. They were going to go and watch some places. Elliot was master of operations. As far as he was concerned everything was perfect. Chris was clearly the younger brother here.

Chris had actually had about as much experience as Elliot in staking out places. Of course in his line of business this was known as casing the joint or loitering with intent. He had a nasty suspicion that Elliot-style stake-outs were likely to last a long time, much longer than when he'd played at being a PI. Then he was either conning would-be divorcees out of their money (in which case he'd demanded a deposit upfront and would run with the cash) or he had watched their soon-to-be exes' houses, waiting until everyone had left and then had paid a little call of his own and done some shopping. In the latter event all he'd needed to know was how many people lived in the house, what their movements were roughly (all gleaned from their mistrustful partners) and when they were all safely away. Elliot of course wanted more. He wanted to know who the people were that they were going to watch and where they were going so he could follow them.

Everything was perfect for tomorrow. Kathy had arranged to spend a few days before Christmas and Christmas day itself with her mother at the time she and Elliot were still having problems. That's where she was now, with the kids. Elliot had said he "might" join them if work allowed. But he kept putting it off. As much as he wanted to spend time with his family and as much as he appreciated his mother-in-law's kindness towards him despite his past few rocky years with her daughter, he wanted nothing more than to spend some quality time with Chris and to pursue the lead. Elliot had Chris all to himself for a change. Toby was at Martha's Vineyard with Holly, Harry, his mother and old family friends. Old, rich family friends who were used to polite society.

There was only one problem. The lead would take some time to explore and Elliot had only officially put in for one day's leave when Cragen had told him to take some time off.

"We're short-staffed," said Elliot. "Cragen can't let me take any more leave right now."

"Let me worry about that," said Chris.

"I hope whatever you're gonna do works fast," said Elliot. "I want to get onto this as soon as possible."

Chris grinned.

"Trust me," he said.

So they went out to the drive to shoot some hoops with the Dickie and Elizabeth's old hoop above the garage. The kids weren't playing as much as they used to. Getting too old for it, Elliot said ruefully as he and his own twin blocked each other and scored. They usually tied because they'd decided to play the best of four instead of the best of three. They hadn't got past the stage of showing how alike they were, so they liked to get even scores. Elliot's twins thought that lame. They were at the stage where difference was very important to them.

Sometimes Elliot and Chris would team up against other guys in the park near where Elliot lived in Glen Oaks. Some of them were cops Elliot knew. Chris preferred the firefighters. One time one of the cops had got into it with him about his record. Must've heard about it at the precinct or read about it in the papers. It was at the height of the trial so the papers were a better bet. Elliot had introduced Chris and was wearing his NYPD sleeveless sweatshirt so Chris guessed that's how the cops managed to tell them apart as well as they did.

Chris had picked up a bad vibe from the guy from the beginning. Something about his body language. He had a really aggressive play as well. There had been a couple of accidental bumps, then a shove that almost knocked Chris over. Elliot had intervened there, played peacemaker, but Chris knew. Had he been on his own he'd've clocked the guy, cop or no cop. But of course, had he been on his own he would never have been playing with a bunch of cops. But he wasn't on his own. He had Elliot to think of. These guys were his colleagues. So he said nothing, smiled with his teeth, carried on with the game. Got in his own subtle shoves and some particularly annoying blocks that were barely legal.

Then the guy had got in Chris's face about being an ex-con. Said stuff about his not having paid his debt to society. He was going to respond then, Elliot or no Elliot, but Elliot stepped in before he could say or do anything, stood between the cop and Chris, faced the cop down, told him to back off. Then it came.

"Your fag brother can't stand up for himself?" the guy asked.

Chris stepped forward to crowd his space at the exact moment Elliot did. It would'd've been great, but they spoiled the effect by speaking at the same time.

Elliot said, "You got some sort of problem, O'Toole?"

Chris said, ""You wanna make something of it, fuckwad?"

They spoiled the effect further by surprising themselves and glancing at each other instead of keeping their eyes on O'Toole.

Another cop intervened at that point suggested they all take a break. O'Toole wouldn't drop it though.

"You guys are so much alike, maybe you're the fag," he shouted after Elliot as Chris and Elliot went off to their stuff on the bench.

That was when Chris hit him. That was also the last time they played against the cops. Afterwards Chris had admitted to Elizabeth (his shrink) that he hadn't at first been sure that Elliot would take his side. He'd thought Elliot would have sided with his cop buddies.

But Elliot was always on his side. Even when there wasn't a fight. He even scrutinized Beecher for any clues of misbehavior and wasn't shy to call him on any apparent short-comings or omissions. It really pissed Toby off. Chris stuck up for him, but Elliot interpreted this as blindness on Chris's part. That kind of pissed Chris off too. Toby and his relationship with Chris was the one thing they fought about.

At the moment the bone of contention was Christmas. Toby had gone to Martha's Vineyard without Chris. Chris wasn't joining them for Christmas. Elliot had a problem with that.

"You not good enough for his family friends?" Elliot asked.

"He said that I could come next time," Chris told him.

Actually Toby had said Chris "might come next time", Chris didn't tell Elliot that. He figured he might not be invited next year either. Had to do something about that. He'd think of something in the next year. Right now he had to get Elliot a sick note for Cragen.

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