A/N: Yes, uploads have been few and far between. Inspiration just hasn't been there for me. Please enjoy what I have and I'll strive to push out more.
He was going soft. He was definitely going soft.
Letting her sit in his chair and tap seemingly randomly at the buttons of the video game controller was a sure sign of the chink she created in his armor. As he sat at his computer, he rationalized with himself that giving her some sort of a distraction that didn't involve talking to him about how numbers weren't adding up and other random shit that seemed designed to pick at his nerves, would keep her from out his hair. Or so went his theory. There was real work to be done on his end. The Paladin he'd stalked and brought back to the lair might've been tight lipped, but the computer disks he had in the inside of his overcoat sung with information.
Information, that happened to be vague and cryptic.
Information that demanded his utmost attention.
If he ever wanted things to go back to the way they were, him not having to keep an eye on a trouble prone girl and not having to see his lair slowly become invaded by all things that represented Parker, then he needed to focus on what was in front of him and not whether or not Parker was going to figure out a way to screw up his high score on Need For Speed. Hiding a disgruntled sigh, he focused bleary eyes back towards one of the computer screens. Sifting through documents and reports had never been anything close to enjoyable for him, even if it had meant taking down some serious Paladin ass in the end. It was simply a chore, something to do on his path of revenge so to speak.
So he concentrated on the task he'd given himself. He wouldn't let the girl only a few paces away stop or put off what needed to be done. Blue eyes scanned through the text with a new sense of forced enthusiasm and his hand grabbed at a pen and poised it to take notes should he need to. For a minute or so it was only him. Him, a disk of information and the sound of multiple engines rearing in the video game being played. It was quiet until Parker decided to open her mouth, throwing him off his reading.
"I feel guilty."
Griffin broke away from the computer screen and shot Parker a calculated look before giving into nagging curiosity. He could've simply ignored her, and continued with what he'd been doing, but ignoring her seemed to be something he just couldn't really do any more. At this point Parker was now very hard not to pay attention to.
"I shouldn't be sitting here playing some game. I should be trying to figure out that letter." Parker slammed her thumb in rapid secession on the controller's button and shook her head.
"Well then, figure it out," Griffin waved a hand in her general direction, not really seeing her plight.
Parker didn't take her eyes away from the game in front of her for a second and jammed on the buttons harder than she had been.
"You're the one who I suggested that I do something other than glue my eyes to 'bloody dots' as you so elegantly put it."
"That was only because I was sick and tired of hearing you hmmm, and ummm and oh that's not right, this doesn't make any sense. God, I just wanted you to shut it already."
Parker paused in playing the game; her thumb froze in guiding the small joystick so that she could look over at Griffin's back. She was beginning to doubt him. The things he said sometimes didn't match up with his actions. Like saying he didn't care about her for instance and then going and making sure that she ate, or quite literally throwing blankets her way at night, even when she wasn't ready to sleep. Now was another little occurrence she was going to file away in her memory; he'd wanted for her to take a break from all that was tugging at her brain for attention, his annoyance towards her was only an excuse.
Parker smiled both sweetly and secretly at Griffin's unaware figure before letting herself settle back into the pits she'd cast herself into. Her eyes wandered their way to the television screen once more and any enthusiasm she had for playing the driving game diminished the instant her thoughts floated back towards the coded letter that sat only a small distance away. The game continued on, her opponents passing her by, but her brain being a million miles away didn't care.
"Anyway, if you want to dive back into your own bottomless frustrations by all means go right ahead, just don't let me hear about it, will ya?" Griffin had already settled himself back into the text presented on the monitor in front of him.
For seconds, Parker didn't say anything. She just watched her own virtual car sit idle on screen. The gears in her head were turning, trying desperately to connect the things plaguing her together. Nothing was making sense to her, not the dotted letter, or the chip her father had embedded in her shoulder. Parker continued to stare at her car. It hadn't been anything special by the game's standards, just one of the few that was made available and she hadn't even sooped it, just made it a shiny bright yellow with stripes across the sides.
As it sat there waiting for her to control it, she could see the small details the creator had put into the car. The shine of the headlights, the paint job, the glint off the metal fender, it was all too real appearing for a video game. Even as her chosen car appeared to vibrate there was exhaust emitting from its tail pipe.
The tail pipe.
Her eyes zeroed in on them both.
Now Parker didn't have a mind for science. Never had, but it didn't mean she was completely lost when it came to the subject. Her father had been a scientist after all. He taught her a few things to grasp onto. For some reason, some odd, very peculiar reason the exhaust brought up the memory of gas. The gray almost clear foggy substance coming from the virtual car had her brain twirling with thought. Why were her thoughts delving deeper into something that didn't matter?
Griffin had said something else to her, but not by choice she'd tuned him out. Eyes seemingly in a daze as they focused on the screen, something popped into her head that for the split second she thought about it, made no sense.
Noble Gases. Argon, Xenon, Helium, Neon, Krypton, Radon, they all had been drilled into her by Richard and seeing virtual exhaust coming from her car triggered all the little facts that came along with gas. The six gases found on the periodic table had an oxidation number of zero and because of this prevented noble gasses from forming compounds at the ready. Helium-He, Argon-Ar, Xenon-Xe, Neon-Ne, Krypton-Kr, Radon-Rn. All of the information tied to gas was slamming before her, but she had no idea why.
When he heard no mousy response being offered forth, Griffin swiveled around in his chair. "Did you not hear me, sweetheart? In the probable case that you didn't I said you can't keep- What the hell?"
Griffin's eyes widened as Parker's small form came blubbering towards him at a speed that he hadn't expected. By the time he tried to throw his hands up to stop her from advancing too close to him, it was way too late. Her arms had found themselves around him and much much to his exasperation she was squealing.
She. Was. Squealing.
This time Griffin wasn't as shocked as before when she'd pulled him into an uncontrolled hug and made quick work of peeling her arms from around him.
"What is wrong with you? You off your rocker are you? You can't make that a habit!"
Parker was grinning from ear to ear, more pleased looking than Griffin had ever seen her. He was too miffed with her actions though, to ask why she was in such a chipper mood all of a sudden. He needn't ask because Parker, ignoring his fiery look of irritation, announced to him her reasons for becoming so excited.
"I've got it!"
The giddiness in her made her look past Griffin's glare and bounce on the balls of her feet. Her hands were clasped together and her hazel colored eyes sparkled with her renewal of energy. Griffin ruffled his hair with a hand before crossing his arms against his chest, a sort of bracing gesture for what Parker was going to lay out for him. She turned away from him and made her way towards the mess of papers she'd laid out.
"I can't believe I didn't remember this sooner," she exclaimed as she shifted through the papers to pull out the letter that'd been giving everyone so much of a headache. Like a flag she waved it in the air and then trotted back over to Griffin, holding it out to him.
"What're you giving me this for?"
"Just take it," Parker pressed the dotted code to his chest and didn't wait for him to grasp onto it before bounding towards her opened suitcase. In her search for what she was looking for, she tossed various articles of clothing over her shoulder. Griffin, witnessing his lair become Parker's own personal closet, felt more than inclined to stand to his feet and voice his outrage and did just that. Griffin gripped the paper Parker had forced into his possession, mostly forgetting about it as he drove out words to her.
"Can you slam the anchors on for just a minute, because I don't think you realize that you've fuckin' lost your mind."
"Why didn't I remember," Parker mumbled out her question. She continued digging through her suitcase.
"Bloody look at what you're doing! Throwin' your shit everywhere." Griffin looked at all of Parker's clothes now scattered about.
"When I was younger my dad used to play this game with me." Parker still continued her search as she spoke. "Whenever I wanted something, a cookie, a movie to watch, or a game to play my dad would sometimes make me solve a code to get it; usually having something to do with whatever I wanted."
"Get to your poi-"
"Point being," Parker interrupted his rudeness, shrugging it off like a jacket on a hot day. "I think this letter could be sorta like the same thing."
A couple more seconds of rummaging around and she pulled out what she had been in search of. A black t-shirt with the periodic table of elements plastered to the back was held in her hands quite fondly. It'd been another nerdy gift her father had brought her when he hoped she'd follow in his scientist footsteps. It hadn't been too much of an appreciated gift, she only wore it when helping her mother plant the spring petunias in the front yard, but now she wished she prized the gesture more.
Griffin still had no clue as to what she was on about. He watched her hold up the t-shirt like it was the answer to all her problems. Griffin couldn't help but note that there was a noticeable sparkle in her eyes that had before been absent. The jumper pushed away from his computer and went to Parker. The notion of her getting a break in what seemed to be an unsolve-able case, got the best of his curiosity.
"Tell me, how is your shirt supposed to solve those dots?"
Parker thought if his voice had an expression it'd be sneering right then. She decided on not giving him a verbal answer but one he could see. She just prayed that this was it, that this was the answer. Parker walked around Griffin, towards her paper mess. Pulling the original letter to her eyes as she clutched her shirt, she quickly tried to calculate things out.
Griffin could do nothing more than look on as Parker's eyes darted over the paper. The whole situation surrounding them was tiring him out and as he watched her he felt its effects. Though he was relieved that they might be finally getting somewhere with the troublesome letter, seeing her so enthused was both making him sick and exhausted at the same time.
After scanning the paper she then turned it to Griffin and then pointed at one cluster of dots. "Five dots!"
"Multiplied by the twenty one dots next to it." She pointed to the multiplication sign then the small dots next to it.
"Soooooo," Griffin looked at her dumbly.
Parker rolled her eyes, sorry that he wasn't catching on as quickly as she had. "Sooooo, it equals one hundred and five."
"Parker, you're going to have to do a little better than that."
"One hundred and five equates to…" She paused and then fumbled a bit, switching from her view of the paper to looking at the back of the chart on her well worn t-shirt. "Dubnium."
Griffin flopped back down into his seat and with a tone purely sarcastic in nature said, "Ahhh Dubnium, that explains everything, now doesn't it?"
"Dubnium subtracted by five which is Boron and that just gives us D minus the B."
"Make sense, now," said Griffin.
"Whatever," Parker paused to sigh. "Number I equate will equal out an element on the periodic table and if I follow the equations carefully, they should spell out whatever this coded message is trying to say."
Griffin screwed his face up in a moments worth of confusion. "Wait, wait, wait are you saying that those stupid dots amount to a number on your periodic table?"
Parker nodded, "More or less, yeah."
"And whatever you come up with on the chart will give you letters to spell out something."
"By golly, I think you got it!"
"If you think you've really got it all figured out then quit talking and-and make with the figuring out. Need I remind you that time is a factor on my short list." Griffin swiveled around to face his computer once more, leaving Parker to unravel the dots.
Parker glared at the back of Griffin's head. "If you help things will go a lot faster."
No response came forth. Griffin only sat slouched in his chair as he scrolled through the information presented to him.
"How about I add a please?"
"How's about a no?" Griffin snarked. "I've got crap I'm looking into which means you're on your own."
Parker's glare intensified. Gathering her shirt to her chest, she marched back towards her makeshift study and sat cross legged on the floor, her body pulled up close to the trunk covered with papers. There was a renewed vigor as she dove back into the puzzle, having new pieces to factor in. Parker, sending one more glare Griffin's way, set off calculating and checking her t-shirt along the way. She actually didn't need his help at all. She did not need his help period when it came to figuring it all out.
What good would he be anyway with having to configure messages from the periodic table of elements? She'd probably end up spending most of her time explaining how to go about doing things for the second time anyway. Parker didn't understand why everything had to be like pulling teeth with him. It was like most of the time he tried to make things difficult. Somewhat harshly she snatched up her pencil and arranged papers in front of her before finally settling down.
That was how the next few agonizing hours went by, with her burying her head in elemental codes and factoring out sectioned off dots and Griffin muttering unintelligent curses every now and then as he stared almost unblinkingly at multiple computer screens. Every now and then Parker would rake a hand through her hair and pause just long enough to send a glare in Griffin's direction. All the frustrations she had, she sent to the back burner. Nothing mind bending or gut busting happened in that time. Not one visit from Jack, not one lull in the work they'd been doing, nothing at all spectacular happened except for as Parker got further into unraveling her periodic table theory; the more it seemed to be coming together.