Title: The Sandwich
Author: bella8876 (on LJ & Tumblr)/Isabel5 on FF.net
Characters/Pairings: Hardison/Elliot friendship
Summary: Eliot makes a sandwich. Hardison eats it.
Disclaimer: Don’t own much, certainly not Leverage.
A/N: I offered up this story months ago in exchange for a gif of Hardison eating the sandwich at the end of The Office Job. Two people were kind enough to make the gif for me so this is for them!
Eliot heard the beep of the lock disengaging right before the door opened behind him. He didn’t even to lift his head from the papers Nate had given him to know it was Hardison shuffling across the hardwood floor toward the bar. It was a very distinctive shuffle. Eliot could hear his right foot dragging just slightly behind his left in that lazy sort of way it always did when he’d been awake for more than 32 hours. By Eliot’s count they were coming up on 37 hours and 28 minutes.
Hardison grunted a barely audible greeting as he tossed his bag heavily on the counter before dropping his head down on top of it. “Owww.” He groaned as his forehead slammed against his laptop.
Eliot smirked softly to himself as Hardison rubbed his forehead. “How’d it go?”
“Fine,” Hardison sighed pulling his head up as he opened his bag. “We’re all set. You’re up in about an hour.” Hardison pulled his computer out of his bag and set it up on the bar, his movements tired and sluggish.
They sat in a sort of comfortable silence, Hardison typing away as Eliot tried to concentrate on the papers but he couldn’t.
“Dude, what is that smell?” Eliot wrinkled his nose and sniffed the air then leaned closer to Hardison and sniffed him. “Is that …is that you?” he sniffed the other man again.
“What?” Hardison jerked back. “No.” He frowned, lifting up his arm and sniffing himself. “No,” he said more firmly.
“Well something smells,” Eliot sniffed the air. “Seriously, did you step in dog crap or something?”
“No,” Hardison said annoyed. He didn’t smell anything.
“Are you sure? Check your shoes. Sometimes it gets stuck on your shoes and you drag it inside.” Eliot said.
“I didn’t step in dog crap,” Hardison said more firmly, opening his bag again to pull out a cord.
“Oh god,” Eliot recoiled and glared at Hardison’s bag. “It’s in there,” he said reaching for the bag and pulling it away from Hardison.
“Hey that’s mine,” Hardison stood up as Eliot started digging through it. “That’s my own personal private property you can’t just…” Hardison huffed. “What are you even looking for? Do you honestly think there’s dog crap in my bag and I don’t know about it?”
“No,” Eliot smirked as he pulled something out. “But there is this,” he looked down at the small wax paper wrapped bundle in his hands and took a cautious sniff, his nose wrinkling with disgust. “What the hell is this?”
“That is my dinner,” Hardison frowned snatching the bundle away from Eliot annoyed. “Or is it breakfast?” He checked his watch. “Possibly lunch.” He pealed open the wax paper to reveal what probably at some point might have been a sandwich but was now a sort of congealed mush of meat and bread and sauce.
“That is not lunch,” Eliot said firmly. “That’s not even food.”
“It’s food.” Hardison protested. “It’s really good food.” Hardison leaned down and inhaled deeply. “This sandwich is a local delicacy. It’s famous. People drive for hours just for this sandwich.” He picked up the sandwich and took a huge bite, chewing exaggeratedly as Eliot looked on in disgust. “Delicious.” He mumbled, his mouth full of food.
“That’s disgusting. Do you even know what’s in that? You’ve got processed cheese, a sauce so full of preservatives it more chemical than anything and the vegetables are dripping with pesticides.”
“You can’t possibly know that,” Hardison countered.
“Oh trust me, there are pesticides,” Eliot said.
“How do you know?” Hardison asked.
“I can smell them,” Eliot said straight faced.
“You can’t—“ Hardison shook his head. “Eliot you can’t smell pesticides.”
“I can. It’s a very distinctive smell,” Eliot growled. “And what kind of meat is this? Cause it’s not beef and it’s not pork.” Eliot looked at it again. “It’s not turkey or chicken either. So what it is Hardison?”
“It’s not beef?” Hardison asked with a whisper.
Eliot laughed. “That did not come from a cow. It looks like—no you know what? Never mind.”
“What?” Hardison asked. “What does it look like?”
Eliot stared at Hardison as if debating whether or not to say it. “Goat.”
“Goat?” Hardison asked, lowering the sandwich to the table and swallowing roughly. “You mean to tell me that I just ate a Goat sandwich?”
“That is not a sandwich,” Eliot shook his head. “I’ll show you a sandwich.”
Eliot hopped off the barstool and started digging around the small hotel kitchen. He pulled an onion, a tomato, and bag of bagels from one of the cabinets then dug around in the fridge emerging with a block of cheese, what looked like sliced turkey and a small Tupperware container.
“Did you go shopping?” Hardison asked as Eliot pulled a set of knives out of his bag and started to expertly chop the onions on the cutting board. “When did you have time to go shopping?”
“I brought this stuff with me,” Eliot snorted, as he turned on the stove and waited for the skillet to heat up. “OK, the key is to use fresh ingredients. I grow my own.” Eliot said.
“You grew the tomato and the onion yourself? What did you raise and slaughter the turkey too?” Hardison joked and Eliot shot him a glare that suggested maybe he did just that.
“No,” Eliot said finally. “But I did make the cheese.”
“You make your own cheese?” Hardison asked in disbelief.
“You don’t?” Eliot asked and Hardison was once again reminded just how different the two of them really were. “Ok. Get the pan hot. Never put oil in a cold pan.” Eliot said letting his hand hover over the skillet to test the temperature. Satisfied he grabbed a bottle of olive oil and poured a small amount into the pan. “Sauté the onions first,” Eliot dumped the onion slices into the olive oil. “You want to let them cook down, get ‘em nice and caramelized.”
Hardison nodded, the smell of sautéed onions filling the room and making his mouth water. “Caramelized. Got it.”
“When they start to get a little brown around the edges, you throw in the turkey slices.” Eliot said tossing a few very thin slices of turkey breast in with the onions. “Then just let it sit, don’t mess with it. Turn down the heat and let the flavors marry.”
“Right,” Hardison coughed as the turkey smell mixed with the onion smell.
“Now we can start to put it together,” Eliot turned back to the cutting board and pulled one of the bagels out of the bag, deftly splitting it down the middle with a swipe of his knife before setting it aside and grabbing the Tupperware. “This is a simple garlic, green onion, and cream cheese spread. It’s good on just about everything. You just need a thin schmear though cause the cheese is really rich.” Eliot spread the mixture over the bagel and then wiped off the knife and grabbed the cheese. “You want one good, relatively thick, slice of the cheese. Same for the tomato.” He cut both, placing them carefully onto the bagel and adding a dash of salt and pepper.
“And now the meat,” Eliot said with a smile, grabbing the skillet off the stove top and dumping the slices of turkey and the caramelized onions right on top of the cheese, finishing the whole thing with the top to the bagel. “And that is a sandwich.” Eliot said admiring his handy work.
“Yeah,” Hardison swallowed. “That’s a sandwich alright.”
Eliot smiled as he wrapped the sandwich up in wax paper.
“You’re not…you’re not gonna eat it?” Hardison asked, his voice slightly shaky as Eliot put the sandwich in the refrigerator and closed the door.
“Of course I’m not gonna eat it,” Eliot scoffed and looked at Hardison as if he were an idiot. “It’s ten o’clock in the morning, who eats a sandwich at ten o’clock in the morning?” He looked from Hardison to his sandwich then back again with a smirk. “I gotta go.”
Hardison sat on his barstool in a confused daze as Eliot gathered his things and walked out of the hotel room. He looked down at his sandwich, turned in his seat to look at the door, turned back around and looked at the fridge, and then looked at his sandwich again.
He picked it up dejected and dumped the whole thing in the trash before shuffling over to the fridge. Opening the door as quietly as he could, he looked at the perfectly wrapped sandwich lying on the middle shelf and reached out slowly. He checked over his shoulder one last time to make sure Eliot wasn’t going to jump out at him before he grabbed the sandwich and slammed the fridge closed.
Slowly he pealed back the wax paper and took a tentative bite, closing his eyes in ecstasy as he chew, collapsing against the edge of the counter. “Oh hell,” Hardison mumbled to himself before swallowing. “This is not a sandwich a man eats in public.”
He wrapped it back up and grabbed his computer off the counter; stopped, turned back to the fridge, and grabbed a bottle of orange soda before disappearing into the bedroom.