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Do you need me to hide a body?

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“I wanna kill him. Can we make that happen?”

“Yeah, I can.”

At the time, everyone hadn’t said anything in response to that, unanimously deciding to dismiss it as a joke. But they all also knew that if any of them wanted someone to disappear and not just in the way they make the rich and powerful disappear, Eliot could make it happen in a heartbeat.

Which is why Hardison was currently glancing at Eliot as he read his book instead of actually rewatching Firefly.

Don’t get him wrong. Hardison trusted Eliot. The man was terrifying and Hardison never wanted to really be on his bad side, but they knew each other well enough for him to know that Eliot cared about all of them deeply and would lay his life down for them, if he must. He knew Eliot would never try and hurt any of them, which is why all of them trusted him with their lives and never flinched when he snapped or raised his voice. What Hardison had questions on was the details of Eliot’s offer.

“If you have something to say, say it already.”

Hardison jumped, arms flailing about as he tried to calm himself down. Eliot glanced up with an amused smirk as Hardison tried to look casual and focused on the screen, but the episode had already wrapped up. He then frowned, pretending to look nonchalant while staring at the black screen before him.

“Hm? Did you say something?”

He slowly turned to look at Eliot who rolled his eyes.

“Just ask the damn question, Hardison. I know you got something to say.”

Hardison sighed and turned to fully face Eliot. “Okay, so...earlier, when you said the thing about,” he gestured, pretending to be someone dying by crossing his arms and sticking his tongue out, “was that, like, serious or was it…” He trailed off and waved his hands around for Eliot to continue.

Eliot hummed and nodded, brow furrowed as he sorted through his answer. He removed his glasses and set his book down on the table before leaning back in his chair.

“Yeah.”

Hardison stared. “Yeah, you were serious? Or yeah, you were joking?”

Eliot shrugged. “Both, I guess.”

“B-both?” he stuttered. His voice went up an octave. “What do you mean both?”

“I mean that I know we don’t want people to actually die, but if any of y’all did really happen to want someone to,” he waved his hand, “I’ll do it for you.” He shrugged again as he said that as if he were just commenting on the weather. “Friendship.”

“F-friendship?!”

This time, Hardison stood up from where he was sitting and began pacing the room, shaking his head as he did so. “Uh, no, that is not how friendship works,” he said standing before Eliot. “You do not go around offering to, like, assassinate people for your friends. Like, that may work for you, Mr. “I’m super buff and punchy,” but I can’t do that shit.” He threw his hands up. “And on that note, why is murdering someone the pinnacle of friendship? Like, why isn’t it something else?” 

Hardison took a deep breath and tried to calm himself down. He moved to sit in the chair next to Eliot, failing to notice the amused look on his face.

“Eliot, I’ll lie to the cops for you and Parker and Sophie and Nate,” he finally said. “Hiding evidence, faking it, all good. Hell, I’m willing to use dial-up to try and hack into the Pentagon for you, if you’re that desperate. But a body?” He wagged a finger in front of Eliot’s face, shaking his head at the same time. “Nope. Can’t do that. Cause then I gotta get rid of that body too and do you think this body,” he gestured to himself, “is built for digging?

“Uh-”

“Well, it’s not!” Hardison snapped. “You may have giant beefy arms, sir, but I cannot be digging a six-foot hole for the corpse you just made.”

Hardison poked at Eliot’s chest as he said this. Eliot was silent as he glanced down and then back up at Hardison’s face, but suddenly, he let out a bark of raucous laughter that caused Hardison to pull back, eyes wide. Eliot continued to laugh, clutching his stomach with one arm while one hand pounded on the table. Hardison’s brow furrowed in confusion, wondering what he had said that was so funny. Eventually, Eliot’s laughter died down enough for him to be able to speak.

“You think I’d want you to bury a body?” he wheezed. He shook his head. “Hardison, there are much better ways to hide a body and burying them is not exactly high on my list, so don’t worry,” He reached over to pat his arm. “I won’t make you dig a six-foot hole.”

Eliot grinned, still mumbling to himself about what Hardison had said, and picked up his book. He was ready to start reading again, when it was ripped away from him and he was face to face with Hardison shaking his head once more.

“Nah. No. Nope. Hold on. Hold on!”

Eliot waited for him to continue.

Hardison took a deep breath. “What do you mean there are better ways to hide a body?”

“I mean there are better ways. Burying it is not a great idea, to be honest.”

Hardison continued to stare at him and Eliot sighed.

“Alright, so everyone thinks burying a body is a good idea, but it really isn’t,” he began. “It can be found too easily and I mean, in the woods, you may get lucky and get an animal that will scavenge it and get rid of any DNA from you, but there's always the possibility of someone finding it before that happens. I’ve heard of some people trying to be smart and burying it in a cemetery because hey, there are already bodies there. But a lot of cemeteries actually have cameras set up to catch grave robbers. I actually had a friend who would go and run at cemeteries for that reason. She said it was a little unsettling cause it was a cemetery, but I mean, there were cameras, so it wasn’t too bad.”

“Wait, cemeteries have cameras? Why did no one tell me this?”

Eliot waved a hand. “We’ll get back to that,” he said casually. “In my opinion, the best way to get rid of a body is to really get rid of it. Trying to burn it is smart, but people don’t realize how much heat is needed to cremate a body. I mean, think about when you’re cooking. When you burn meat, it doesn’t just disintegrate. It gets all charred and burnt on the outside, and by then, the smoke alarms are already going off or you’ve realized it’s unsalvageable. So imagine how much heat and how long you’ll need to get anywhere close with an entire human body. Not only that, the smell can be a struggle to deal with too.”

“Uh huh.”

“But then, there’s the pig method!”

Eliot smiled as he said this and Hardison wasn’t sure if he should feel unsettled or not.

“You learn a lot when you grow up in the country and on farms, and one of those things is that pigs can and will eat anything. So-”

“Anything?” Hardison squeaked.

“Anything,” nodded Eliot. “Like I was saying, if you wanted, you could feed the body to pigs and they’d do all the work for you. The problem with that, however, is that, obviously, you would need access to pigs and unless you own a pig farm yourself, or for some reason, have a nice pig farmer friend, or you can sneak onto a pig farm, I’d avoid it. Also, you really gotta make sure the pigs are hungry to make sure it really works.”

Hardison gulped.

“Dumping the body into a large body of water can work, but bodies float, so you run the risk of someone finding it too. You would have to weigh it down, but since you said you don’t wanna dig, carrying the things you need to weigh down the body along with the body is something you’d want to avoid.”

“Oh, wow. Thank you for your consideration.”

Eliot shot Hardison a look upon hearing his sarcasm. He decided not to comment though and carried on with the rest of his lecture.

“So now, we come to my preferred method and that is a combination. First, cut up the body.”

“But-”

“Yes, I know that’s hard to do,” Eliot interrupted, “but if you’ve gone through the trouble of killing someone, you can put in a little effort not to get caught.”

Hardison sighed and then nodded, gesturing for him to continue.

“Then, try to burn some of the parts to get rid of identifying marks and DNA, and because it’ll be easier than one giant body. You then need to dispose of the parts in multiple ways instead of one. A few can go into the water. Just tie it to a brick or a rock and throw. Maybe toss a few into the woods. If you wanna bury them, bring along some meat or bones. When you bury the parts, add some dirt and then place the meat and bones on top, so if anyone finds it, they’ll think it was just an animal or something. Some can even go in the trash, but people make the mistake of not using smell to their advantage. Animals may check, but obviously, most people don’t want to go digging around in something that smells like it’s dying. Mix in the parts with other garbage and also, don’t just throw it out in your own trash. There are plenty of places where you can throw out garbage without people noticing.

“But if for some reason, you really really want to bury a whole body, just make sure to bury it vertically and not lying down. Looks less suspicious from above. Make sure you still do the meat and bones on top thing too.” Eliot tapped the table and leaned back with his arms crossed and chest puffed out. “And that’s how you hide a body.”

“But what about lye? Can’t you use that to melt people and stuff?”

Eliot’s gaze immediately snapped up at the sound of the new voice, but he didn’t seem too surprised. Hardison, on the other hand, had jumped up, hand clutching his chest as he tried to calm his heart down.

“Parker! Jesus! What are you-?” He shook his head. “Actually no, I don’t wanna know. Just how long have you been up there?”

Parker shrugged from her position in the vent. “Doesn’t matter. Tell me about the lye.”

Hardison whipped around to face Eliot, giving him a look that tried to convey the ridiculousness of the situation, but either Eliot didn’t notice or chose to ignore it because he leaned forward again, ready to speak.

“Oh yeah, lye and other chemicals are smart, but you need more than you'd expect and that's suspicious unless you're a chemist or soap maker or something,” he explained calmly. “So maybe for breaking down smaller parts, but once again, not the whole body. You could also use the lye to get rid of fingerprints and other identifiers too, so that’s a positive. It’s not a bad idea. Just be careful with how you need to buy up.”

“Oh. Cool. That makes sense,” Parker nodded. “Thanks.”

Hardison sputtered, rapidly looking between the two of them as he tried to wrap his mind around this entire conversation. This newfound information was already overwhelming enough, but how casually both Eliot and Parker were acting made this whole ordeal feel like he was trapped in some kind of fever dream.

“Wh- What is wrong with y’all?!” he exclaimed. “You realize this is not normal, right?!”

Eliot and Parker shared a look before shrugging.

Hardison walked over to his things and gathered them up. “Y’know what? I can’t take this,” he muttered to himself. “You two can stay here and continue whatever this is, but I’m gone. I’m out. Good bye. Don’t call me.”

Eliot and Parker silently watched as Hardison stomped out of the room, leaving them alone, still muttering to himself. There was silence between them as they eyed each other curiously before Parker spoke up first.

“What’s up with Hardison?”

“No idea.”