"Get out of the way Lizzie, Mommy's trying to watch TV," my mother slurred drunkenly as I stood before her at only four years old, holding "The Cow That Went Oink" in my tiny hands, wanting her to just read me a bedtime story.
The slap came out of no where and she backhanded me across the livingroom floor, sending me sprawling into the carpet and making me hit the plant that stood by the armchair, knocking it over. I started to cry, the pain splitting through my head like a dagger.
"Now look what you made me do!" Mother said, getting up angrily as she saw the remnants of the spilled soil from the plant that she knocked me into all over her nice beige carpet.
"This is why your father left!" She bellowed, and I cried more, not understanding why she was so angry with me all the time. "You're always breaking things!"
"Mommy!" I wailed, holding the back of my head.
"Don't mommy me! I wish I never even had you, you brat!" She spat at me.
"You know you have to water it if you expect it to live," Hardison said from the doorway of my office.
I snapped out of my memory and realized I had been staring at that plant in my office. Why did I even buy that thing? Something about team spirit, right. It seems to be torturing me more than helping me with any kind of positive spiriting.
"I don't want it to live," I said, finally looking at Hardison.
"Then why did you buy it?"
"Team spirit," I said, feeling as though I was repeating myself.
"Right... Well, Nate's going to be here in about an hour with a new job, so be in the briefing room when he get's here," Hardison replied.
"Alright," I said as I watched him leave the room, either confused or amused by me, maybe both, I wasn't sure.
"Elizabeth, are you alright?"
I stared out the window in the child services van as I watched the police arrest my mother for child abuse and possession of illegal substances. The social worker was talking to me, trying to make me say something, anything.
"Parker," I said, deciding something right then at the age of six.
"Elizabeth Parker, that's your name," The social worker said to me, like I was some stupid child, that I didn't grow up in a home full or horror and know far worse things than she could even imagine even at my young age.
"It's just Parker," I replied, still watching my mother, Elizabeth senior, as she spat at a cop and tried to run.
"Parker," Nate said in the middle of the briefing, and I looked at him expectantly, trying not to let on that my mind had been wandering, "Have you been listening?"
"Yeah," I replied.
Nate looked at me skeptically and Hardison said, "Well then what was I just talkin' about then?"
I made a slight 'eek' face, I knew how annoyed Hardison got when no one was paying attention to the big presentations he puts together.
"Something about somebody doing bad things to someone else and we have to go steal something," I said, as completely vague as I could get it.
Eliot snorted back a laugh, Sophie tried to hide her smirk, and Nate sighed and put his head in his hands as he rubbed his temples.
"Brilliant Parker, great deduction," Hardison said sarcastically.
I ignored the old woman's hollering from down the stairs. If she didn't respect what I wanted to be called, then I wasn't going to come to her. Besides, with her bad hip it's not like she could climb up here to come whoop me anyway.
I continued to ignore her and wrote in my diary about that stupid boy at school that I stole's lunch money. He knew it was me, everyone always knew it was me. I hadn't gotten good enough to not get caught yet. But the fool came up to me and tried to push me in the playground, so I hit him. You don't push girls, ever. He deserved to get beat up by me.
"Elizabeth if you don't come down here right now I'm going to send Jason up to come drag you down by your hair!"
My eyes went wide, I didn't want Jason up here. He was always trying to do stuff to me.
"I'm pulling the plug, this is getting too close," I heard Nate say through my ear piece.
"That bastard touches children and you just want to let it go?!" I heard Eliot yell, and I winced as it made my ear piece make some shrill noise from the volume.
"Nate we have to finish this," I heard Sophie say quietly.
There was silence for a minute before Nate relented, "Fine, Parker distract him for a minute, Hardison can you tap into his car's electrical circuits and overload them so it won't start? It'll buy us some time."
"Yeah but I don't think having Parker distract him is the best idea," Hardison replied, trying to make Nate remember the time I stabbed a guy with a fork before because of his insensitive comments about children.
I could hear Nate getting frustrated that he had to make this clear but said, "Parker, don't stab him."
"How are you today, Elizabeth?"
"Parker," I corrected, getting annoyed as I picked at my fingernails.
"Parker," the therapist corrected himself, trying to get on my good side.
"I'm peachy," I replied dryly, wishing the cops didn't feel the need to send me to a shrink because of what happened. I was fifteen, aren't all teenagers a little crazy with all their hormones and stuff?
"Do you know why you're here?"
I didn't answer, I refused to speak to anyone who thought me stupid.
"You're here because you stabbed your last foster father in the leg with a butter knife, do you remember?"
I raised an eyebrow at him and said, "Of course I fucking remember."
"Will you tell me why you did it?"
And get myself killed when I go back to that crack house to get the rest of my stuff before I move to the next hell hole? I was still in transition, I wasn't stupid. I say anything, and the cops show up with me and I become a massive target unless I get moved somewhere very VERY far away this time.
"No," I said and crossed my arms over my chest.
"Did he abuse you?" He asked me. I just stared at him. "Did he touch you in any way that could be— "
"I'm outta here," I said as I picked up my bag, interrupting him, and stormed out of the office only to be greeted by an officer on the other side of the door. Shit. New plan, out the window.
"You put up a poster of money?" Eliot asked me, staring at me like I was insane.
"I like money," I clarified.
Everyone else had decorated their office, and all I had was a dead plant, so I decided to put something else in there. Problem is, I didn't like much of anything. Except money of course.
"I think it's kind of nice, a motivational piece," Hardison said, amused.
"Thank you," I said, smiling. Hardison always got me at least.
Six wallets, not bad for only two hours out tonight. I gathered up all the cash I stole and checked myself into the cheapest motel room I could find, my dinner, McDonalds, in my hand.
I had started to grow a love for money. It's what kept me alive. After I jumped out of the window in the shrink's office that day, I had been on the run ever since. I wasn't going to go back to another foster home. Money made that happen.
I had only been on the streets for about a year now, and while I used to hear about how bad it was, and how I was lucky to have a roof over my head even if I got abused under it, I found I loved the freedom of it. I loved not having to be terrified every night that I went to sleep, which sounds retarded seeing as I am basically homeless now, and so many bad things go on in these kinds of areas at night.
I had started taking self defense classes with any extra money I stole, and I surprised myself to find out that I really had a knack for it. Some guy tried to steal from me the other day, and he got an ass whopping he didn't see coming from a mile away. I smiled to myself, I was finally living, no matter how strange it was to call this existence living.
"Parker, you get the room?" Heather asked me as I walked out of the office.
"That's why I went in there," I said, confused as to why she would ask that question.
Heather was the first person I met when I ran. She was the one that taught me how to pickpocket without actually getting caught, something I didn't ever master when I was younger.
As Heather closed the door behind us afetr we entered the room, she threw her day's haul in to the middle of the bed as I did the same. I picked up a watch from her's and said, "Rolex? Nice. How did you get this off of him without him knowing?"
She just laughed, "I'll teach you tomorrow. Though first, Frank says he has a job offer for us, if you're interested."
"What is it?"
"Just breaking into a music supply store, he needs new amps," she said, laughing. "Though he said all the money in the register is ours, all he cares about are his amps."
"What if we get caught?"
"Parker, do you see it?" Nate asked me through the ear piece.
"Yeah, there's some motion detection lasers all around the room though," I said as I looked at the diamond through the air vent I lay in.
"Shouldn't be a problem for you."
"Didn't say it was, just make sure Eliot takes care of the guards outside," I replied.
"He's already on it, you should be clear right about..." I heard a bang outside the room, and Nate finished, "Now."
I dropped down from the vent, and took a deep breath before cartwheeling over the first laser, and back flipping over two more before sliding on the ground under the last one. "Too easy," I said, disappointed as I grabbed the diamond in my hand, triggering an alarm system I wasn't expecting.
"Or not," I said before saying to Nate, "I thought you said Hardison disabled it!"
"There must have been a back up one, everyone get out of there now!"
"I'll give you a minute and a half," Heather said to me as we eyed the bank.
"Please, fifty five seconds, max."
"Wanna bet on that?" she asked me, smirking.
"Your on," I replied, before taking off to the bank chute, Heather behind me. She threw me the manager's access card and I caught it in one hand before climbing into the chute. "I'll get it back to you in thirty seconds so you can make sure he never knew it was missing," I said before disappearing.
I dropped down from the chute and quietly slipped the card into the reader by the door, and when it opened I stuck my foot in it so it wouldn't close on me before throwing it back up the chute to her with incredibly ease and accuracy.
I opened the door and ran into the main offices. We weren't stealing from the vault, that would be stupid as they were all on timer's now a days. Also, it was broad daylight, this just needed to be a quick in and out.
I grabbed all of the money in the safe that was supposed to be transferred to the vault at the end of the day and slipped out the door before anyone even could suspect I was there.
But then I froze.
I could hear the commotion near the entrance, "How did you get my card?! Someone check the safe, call the police!"
How did she get herself just putting his card back? She was better than that, and I knew it. But I didn't have time to debate, I was up the chute and gone from the bank in another thirty seconds, knowing I couldn't stay and wait to see if Heather would make it too.
I was perched on the roof of a building nearby, looking down at the bank to see where this would lead. But no cops showed up, and nothing seemed to be happening.
Finally I saw Heather walk out with the manager, shook his hand and said something looking apologetic.
That skank tried to set me up, I realized.
"Parker I know you've never worked with anyone before, but you have to start checking in before you just go running off on your own, Nate's furious," Hardison said to me as I lay on the couch near the front of our offices.
"I've worked with someone before," I said as I twirled a pencil in between my slender, pale fingers.
"Doesn't seem like it," Hardison said observantly.
"If you guys know where I am all the time, it's easier for you to set me up," I said pointedly.
Hardison furrowed his brow and said slowly, "Parker.. We're not going to set you up. Don't you trust us?"
"It's foolish for any of us to trust each other," I said, finally looking up at the pencil to him. "I'm watching my own back."
"We're like a family, we're not going to do that to each other."
I sighed and said a little sadly, "Even family betrays, Hardison."