Exhaustion was washing over him by the time Eliot found what he was looking for.

It was another shed, behind another vacated home. Though, this shed was much smaller than the previous one. As Eliot neared it, he could see that there was a sizable hole in the roof of it, probably worn away by animals or mold or both.

Eliot peered inside.

The moonlight provided plenty of light through the hole in the roof. It was rectangular shaped, maybe just big enough for him and the girl to sit, with a few feet of space still between them. It wasn't ideal, but at this point, he was too tired to find somewhere else. And he'd have to hope it didn't rain.

But it was plenty well-lit for what he had to do, which he'd been worried about.

Stitches in pitch black never went well.

"All right, darlin," he said, stepping inside the little space. "It's just for tonight. I know it's small."

She didn't say anything.

He carefully let her down, and she sat in one of the corners of the room. "I'll fix you up, first." He told her. He knelt down, pulling the supplies out of his pockets. Two rolls of gauze and bandages, a small bottle of rubbing alcohol, antibiotics and two water bottles from the waistband of his jeans.

"All right," he told her. "I'm going to need you to turn around for me," he said carefully.

She blinked at him a little, and just when he thought she wouldn't, she moved. She turned so she was sideways; still able to see him. "That's great." He lifted the water bottle. "I'm just going to clean your cut with a little water first, okay?"

She swallowed, but didn't say anything.

He shifted so he was behind her, and watched her muscles tighten. "I'm just going to move your hair a little," he told her matter-of-factly, so she didn't have to wonder what was going on where she couldn't see. He moved it to the side, then said, "You'll feel a little water. Okay?"
"Okay."

He poured a little of the water over the cut, and took some gauze, telling her what to expect to feel. He started cleaning it, hearing her only elicit a tiny gasp as he touched a tender spot. Once he was done, he winced to himself as he picked up the alcohol. "All right, I'm going to be honest with you; this is going to hurt a bit. It's just alcohol, so that your cut doesn't get infected."

She stiffened even more.

He poured a good amount onto some gauze, holding it a few inches away from her wound. "Ready?" he asked her.

She didn't respond, but tensed in apprehension.

Slowly, Eliot pressed it to the wound. She jerked away, and Eliot gently held her shoulder to keep her in place. She didn't fight it, however, and allowed him to clean it. The cut was small enough it wouldn't need stitches, which was good; stitches always hurt, but head stitches were something else entirely. It wasn't long before he had the wound bandaged with the antibiotic cream, all good as new.

Eliot shifted himself backward, facing her. "All better," he told her with a genuine smile.

The girl blinked at him.

"Last thing," said Eliot, pulling a good amount of the bandaging off the roll. "We can use this as a makeshift pressure bandage for your knee; it makes it so that you don't move it as easily so it can heal quicker." He handed it to her, and she simply stared at it. "You can do it yourself. Just wrap it around your knee pretty tightly."

She didn't take it, and instead looked up at him. Furrowed her brows. She stared at him for a long moment, then said, "Why are you helping me?"

Eliot blinked.

Because I needed to prove that I can do more than hurt people.

"Because…" He hesitated. "Because you needed help."

She just blinked back at him.

"And…" He shifted, the guilt returning. "I feel bad about ruinin' your job."

"Job?" she repeated. Brows furrowed more. "I wasn't on a job."

Eliot's guilt halted. "What?" His own brows creased. "Then what were you doin' on the side of a ten story building?"

She shrugged. "Testing a rig."

Eliot's brow shifted higher. "On a… shouldn't you test it on somethin' less dangerous?"

She snorted. "Where's the fun in that?"

Eliot just stared.

There might be something wrong with her.

She then set to work wrapping her knee, and when she was done, Eliot sighed. "My turn. The fun part," he muttered. Without the use of the knife, Eliot simply grabbed the edges of the tear in his pants over the wound, and ripped it a little bigger so he could get a look at the wound. Then, he proceeded to clean it the same way he cleaned the girl's wound. She watched him closely, almost hawk-like.

Once clean, he reached into his pocket for the one supply he didn't take out yet; the sewing box. He pulled it out and opened it, then stared at it, puzzled.

The needle was missing.

He stared at it with a raised brow, knowing he saw a needle inside when he took it. Specifically making sure there was a needle in it.

How…?

But as he reached back into his pocket in case it fell out somehow, the girl extended her hand.

And between two fingers, was the needle.

Eliot looked from it, to her face.

And her eyes that only stared at the floor.

It took him a moment to realize what happened.

She'd stolen it.

But that wasn't what absolutely stunned him.

Somewhere along the walk from the pharmacy to here, she somehow managed to reach in his pocket, take out the box, take out the needle, and return the box to his pocket.

Without him feeling a thing.

He simply stared at her in shock, trying to wrap his mind around how that was even possible.

When the silence extended, her eyes slowly flicked to his, then back to the ground, almost fearfully.

Eliot couldn't help himself.

He laughed.

That made her look up in surprise, almost as if she was expecting him to be angry. Eliot took the needle from her fingers, pulling out some thread from the box, shaking his head to himself.

He hated stitches, especially when he was tired. But it had to be done. So, he sighed heavily, and reached for the alcohol.

"Can you teach me?"
Her voice once again startled him, having gotten so used to silence with her around, and he poked the sharp tip of the needle into his skin as he jerked, making him wince. He looked up, however, to see her watching him, her good knee pulled up to her chest. "What?" he asked her.

She shifted her gaze to the needle and back. "That. Can you teach me that?"

Eliot's brows lifted. The request took him by surprise, and he stumbled through a response. "Uh, yeah-sure, darlin." His brows kneaded. "You get cuts often?"

She shrugged a little. "Sometimes."

That thought made him frown. "Tell ya what, darlin. I'll teach ya how to do stitches if you teach me how you took the needle."

And there it was - for the first time.

She smiled.

And damn was it brighter than the moonlight outside.

Eliot smiled to himself, lifting the needle again.

"Parker."

He looked up.

She was looking at him.

"What's that, darlin?" he said.

"Parker," she repeated. "That's my name."

Eliot froze a little, stunned once again. He stared right back, feeling himself smile. For the first time in so damn long, that warm feeling was spreading through him. A feeling other than guilt and hate and anger.

It took him a moment to compose himself.

"Well, then," he said softly, his Southern drawl carrying the warmth of home. "It's nice to meet ya, Parker."

But she didn't quite share the same warmth in her gesture that he did, for her brows were still kneaded in confusion. "Why did you think my name was 'Darlin'?"

Eliot held back a laugh. "I didn't," he said simply. "It was just a... well…" He thought for a moment how to explain it. "It's like a nickname."

Her brows kneaded like dough.

She doesn't know what the word 'nickname' means.

Eliot was given a little pause, wondering just how messed up her life had been. "A nickname is like a name you give someone," said Eliot awkwardly, trying his best to play a dictionary. "Even to people you already know the name of. You can make up a second name for them sometimes, and 'darlin' is a real common nickname. Nicknames are also called pet names."

Her brow lifted a little. She recognized that word. "You give people names of doggies?" Her brows furrowed even more. "I met a doggie named Sparky once. Can that be a nickname?"

He laughed again, the innocence radiating from her feeling like a breath of fresh air. Like a cold compress on a burning injury. "Sure it can. Nicknames can also be good placeholders for when you don't know someone's name," he added, giving a little understanding to her expression. "But sometimes they're just names you give to people who are more… special. You give it to people who mean somethin' to you."

She frowned in thought.

He lifted the needle back up, and grabbed the rubbing alcohol. "Well," he said, regaining her attention. "The first thing you want to do with stitches is make sure you sterilize the needle. You can use any kind of alcohol, but straight rubbin' alcohol is your best choice."

Eliot continued his stitches, narrating what he was doing and why as the girl—Parker—watched him intently. Afterward, Parker showed him how she stole the needle, but did so in a way that looked utterly like magic. One moment the needle was in the box, the next it wasn't. The way she moved her fingers, however, taught Eliot that he's been pick-pocketing with the wrong ones all this time. So, regardless, he still managed to learn something.

He fell asleep not long after that, and when he woke to daylight shining through the roof, he was alone.

A quick sweep of the fairly-empty surroundings outside the shed showed no sign of Parker. Nothing except a knife, stabbed in the ground outside the door of the shed. The same knife he'd been injured with, the one that she'd stolen from him earlier.

Eliot picked it up.

She gave it back.

One of the best thieves he's ever seen, and one of the most cautious people he's ever met.

And she returned his weapon.

Maybe it was her way of thanking him.

Maybe it was her way of saying goodbye.

But, miraculously, somehow, he managed to gain the trust of someone who trusted no one.

Eliot stared at the weapon. The pain in his leg had been what allowed the thugs to gain on him, and what had made him choose to run through the building Parker was on.

Strange how something meant to hurt him led him to the most good for him he's had in years.

Eliot had figured Parker would feel well enough to at least limp by today, but it felt strangely… disappointing that she left. And without a goodbye. But wasn't that the life of a loner? Wasn't that what he wanted?

Something small, quiet and very deep down inside told him it wasn't.

But a smile crept in nonetheless as he stared at the horizon where the sun climbed higher over the trees, welcoming a new day.

Because meeting her didn't just teach him a few tricks in thievery and sleight of hand.

He learned that beneath the dirt, grime, blood of the past few years, there was still something shining underneath. Something good.

And, at least he hoped, Parker learned something, too. In a lifetime of bad, there was still good. People could still be good. It's just...

Sometimes bad guys are the only good guys you get.

Eliot started walking, leaving the shed behind, facing his life with a new perspective. A brighter one. The pain in his leg was still almost as sharp as it had been the day before, but somehow today it was easier to bear. Better.

And maybe, just maybe, his and Parker's physical wounds weren't the only ones that had begun to heal.


a/n: I know the story wasn't very long, but I wanted it to be like the beginning of a friendship between Parker and Eliot, and we can't get too deep just yet. ;) Thanks so much for reading! :)

~cosette141