Title: The Apple Orchard
Author: Sapphire Smoke
Fandom: Leverage
Rating: PG
Pairing: Parker/Hardison
Setting: Right after 2.01 "The Beantown Bailout Job"
Prompt: "Wicker Basket"
Summary: Parker has a different way of apple picking then most people.
A/N: This is for serenelystrange, who always runs off and writes me Parker/Sophie when I want her too, so I figured it was time I wrote her some Parker/Hardison. Fluff/Humor fic :)

"What is that?" Hardison asks as he looks up from his computer to see Parker walk down the spiral staircase in Nate's apartment, holding a wicker basket in her hands in front of her with one hand and using the other to hold on to the railing so as to keep her balance on the narrow staircase.

"A basket," Parker tells him like it's obvious as she reaches the bottom of the stairs. Hardison blinks at her.

"Yeah I get that, but why do you have it?"

"Oh," Parker says, like she's finally possibly getting what's so odd about having a wicker basket in her hands out of nowhere. "Well, we're in Massachusetts."

Another blink. "So?" Hardison asks, not seeing the connection at all. Was that like the state… object? Wait, no state has officiated a state object. But then again it was Massachusetts, and they think they're better than every other state because they came first, so you never know.

"So I'm going apple picking," Parker tells him, like he should have connected the dots by himself. But who would ever connect those dots together?

"Why?" Hardison asks, because he has to. Parker was an adrenaline junkie, picking apples seemed so… tame. Boring. Hell, it was boring for him, and he liked to sit around all day on his computer at home. Or at Nate's, seeing as he was here. Nate still isn't too happy about that.

"Because I like them, and I never have. So come on," she tells him, and goes to grab her coat.

"Whoa, wait. What?" Hardison asks, putting up his hands to stop her mid stride. He stands up. "When did I get included in this plan?"

But Parker doesn't answer, just puts on her coat before taking one of his hands that's raised in the air in protest, and drags him out the door. "Don't you like fruit?" she asks as he feebly calls out for help as he's dragged down the hall, but none of the team hears him.

* * * *

Peabody, Massachusetts. A small little city about thirty to forty minutes away. That's where they found Brooksby Farm, or should he say where Parker found the farm. He still wasn't sure why he was here. He sure as hell didn't want to be here, but at the same time, he also got to spend more time with Parker, which he wasn't going to complain about. But a movie? Maybe some dinner? That would have been better than… this. Whatever this was supposed to be.

"Come on!" she told him after they had parked and got out of the car, and then takes off speeding through the orchard between the trees like a child in a candy store. Except she was an adult in a freaking apple orchard. Hardison still couldn't wrap his mind around this one. Not yet, anyway.

"Parker!" he calls out, and speeds after her. The last thing he needed to do was lose her, and knowing Parker, she could get herself into trouble almost anywhere.

But then he finds her, in a midst of a couple old folks and their grandchildren, and a couple who are looking snuggly as they pick apples off of the tree branches. Parker already has four apples in her basket, and Hardison catches his breath as he stops next to her. He waves his finger at her. "You, and the whole running thing? Not working out for the computer nerd," he tells her between breaths of air. She smirks at him and hands him an apple.

"Eat it," she tells him.

"What?" he asks, taking his hands off his knees and standing straight up to look at her.

"Eat the apple," Parker tells him, and motions at him with it. He takes it though, no questions, and takes a bite.

"Is it rotten anywhere?" she asks him, and he spits it out on the ground.

"Parker! I am not your rotten apple taste tester… or whatever you think it is that I am," Hardison tells her, looking at her like he couldn't believe she did that. She just shrugs.

"It was just a question, I gave it to you because you were all huffy and puffy, and eating makes people feel better," she tells him, and Hardison feels like an ass. Okay, so maybe he jumped to a conclusion he shouldn't have. But it's Parker, you never know what her real intention is.

"Well… no, it wasn't. I don't think," Hardison says kind of awkwardly, but it makes Parker smile and turn to start walking through the trees… and other people around.

Hardison was weary about the whole people part of this equation.

"Where did you look?" Parker asks him finally as she weaves her way through the people and the trees.

Hardison knows she's talking about where he looked for her. He shrugged. "Had a crawler on the web for any news of you, but it only came up once in Germany and by the time I got there you were gone. You're a hard person to track; you don't use credit cards or any other form of human's advancement in technology. Which come to think of it, is something I need to introduce you to. The power of plastic," he smirks.

"Money is better," Parker says, then gets this little smile on her face. It's the same creepy one she gets when she's talking about money, the one that makes you wonder if she loves it just a little too much. "Money is real."

"Plastic's real," Hardison tells her. "It's solid and… real," he finishes lamely. He couldn't think of anything else to defend plastic.

"Dogs can't smell plastic," Parker tells him.

"Dogs can't smell money either, they smell the cocaine traces on money," Hardison tells her pointedly. "More than ninety percent of U.S. bills have traces of cocaine on them."

"If that were true, wouldn't the dogs smell the cocaine on the credit cards people use to set up lines?" Parker asks as she continues to weave through people, yet still not picking any apples.

"I don't want to know how you know that, do I?"

"I watch TV," she replies, a bit defensive, and continues walking. Hardison just follows her. He thought it had to do with her childhood, but the way she just defended it, it might have.

"Besides," Hardison says, "Money is circulated, so even people who don't use drugs can end up with cocaine tinted money, not everyone has cocaine tinted credit cards."

"Yeah but money is pretty," Parker tells him, like that should end the conversation and mean she's right. Hardison just relents, there's no use in arguing with her over this.

Then he notices that her basket of apples has gotten quite a bit fuller since the last time he looked. "Wait, where did you get all those apples? You haven't been picking any."

"Yes I have," Parker tells him, and stops to turn and look at him. "But not from the trees."

Hardison does a face palm. "Parker, are you seriously stealing other people's apples out of their baskets?" he asks in a whisper, so no one around can hear the most ludicrous thing he thinks he's ever possibly witnessed.

"It's funner that way, you try," Parker tells him with a grin.

"Uh, no thanks. I think I'm good," Hardison says, and sighs. But he's amused, so a little hint of a smirk plays at him lips. That was Parker for you.

"Suit yourself," she says with a shrug, and then continues to walk through the crowd. Now that he's looking for it, he can see her discreetly lift apples out of the unsuspecting apple picker's baskets, and he cant help but laugh a bit. It was all so absurd, but all so Parker's idea of apple picking that he couldn't believe he didn't think of it before.

They walk for a little bit more in silence, Parker happily lifting apples from other people before she says, "So you went all the way to Germany to find me?"

"Well yeah, I said I would, didn't I?" Hardison tells her, hoping that maybe they might finally have the conversation he's been hoping to have with her for months now. The whole… possibly feelings conversation.

"Yeah but a lot of people say stuff," Parker tells him. Then she stops, turns around, and hands him the basket. "Hold this."

"Why?" he asked.

"I want to climb one of the trees," she tells him, which make's Hardison's eyes go wide as she grabs onto a branch.

"No! Parker, they're apple trees, they're not sturdy!" Hardison tells her.

"I'm not fat," she tells him, like it should mean like it'll hold her, which he still doesn't think it will. Besides…

"You're not allowed to climb the trees! No… no, Parker. No, get down," he tells her as she starts to climb onto it. "Parker!"

She ignores him, so he puts the basket down on the ground and wraps his arms around her waist before pulling her off the tree, much to the confused amusement of the other fellow apple pickers. Parker protests.

"Hey! Why'd you do that?"

"Do you want us to get kicked out?" he asks her. He didn't really want to be kicked out of an apple orchard. That's just… over the line of lame. And ridiculous.

"Well I already have enough apples, so it's okay," she tells him. Hardison sighs.

"Well if you're bored we can go somewhere else," he tries, but Parker shakes her head.

"No, I like it here. Wanna play hide and go seek?" she asks, though apparently rhetorically because in an instant she's gone, speeding off in the other direction with the order of, "Close your eyes and count to ten!"

"Parker!" Hardison yells, and picks back up the basket of apples and speeds off after her. This woman might be the death of him. She really might.

But he loses her, and he's forced to play her little game. He mutters, "Damnit," as he walks through the trees, back towards the main area with all the displays on how to make your own apple butter, apple cider, and all these other apple things. She's no where in sight, and he starts looking behind barrels, hay stacks, and all those other weird things Massachusetts feels the need to decorate themselves with to look older and more authentic, or whatever.

After about twenty minutes he's starting to get worried, and even a bit annoyed. Walking through a display with a bunch of bees in display cases as they make honey, and past a booth where they teach you how to make beeswax candles (who really wants a candle made out of beeswax, really though?) he finally spots her, crouched behind another bee case and tapping at the glass.

"There you are," Hardison says, but she doesn't stand up, she's still tapping on the glass.

"I like them better when they're in here," she tells him, watching the bees crawl all over each other.

"Yeah, they don't sting in there," Hardison tells her, then holds out his hand for her to get up. She takes it and stands up.

"You think they'll let me buy one?" she asks him.

"What? A container of bees? Why?" Hardison asks, not seeing why she would want those awful creatures anywhere near her.

"They're fun to look at," she tells him. "We can put it in Nate's living room."

"Yeah, I really don't think Nate would appreciate that. I also think Sophie might scream or something," Hardison tells her with a smirk. "Come on, let's go back to Boston."

"No, I want to buy it," she tells him seriously, and takes off to find the owner. Hardison just sighs. He's not involved in this plan, at all.

* * * *

To Hardison's amusement, it wasn't Sophie that freaked out, it was Eliot.

"What the hell did you bring those in here for, man?!" he yelled, pointing at them like they were the devil.

"No, no Parker, not in my house!" Nate told her as she set it up under the picture of Old Nate.

"Are you scared of bees?" Hardison asks with a smirk.

"No!" Eliot defends… a little too quickly. "But what if it breaks? Then what? Then we have a bunch of little evil tiny winged creatures swarming around the apartment. Hell no!"

"Evil?" Hardison replies, his smirk growing larger.

"Shut up, Hardison," Eliot says with a glare, and stomps off into another room loudly proclaiming he's not setting foot back in there until they're gone. That makes Nate have second thoughts about getting rid of it. Now if only he could own one of everything that freaks each team member out so much that they would just leave his apartment forever.

"Ew," is all Sophie comments on the matter of the bees, and looks at Nate like he needs to get rid of it immediately. Nate sighs.

"Parker, I don't want—"

"You need friends, Nate," she tells him seriously. "And see now you have hundreds. Would you like me to help you name them?"

"No, Parker, I'm not naming them," Nate tells her, rubbing his temples. Then he walks away into the kitchen, muttering something that sounded like he was reminding himself that he had quit drinking.

Parker just smiles, and skips over to Hardison. "Today was fun," she tells him.

"Yeah, it wasn't too bad," he says with a smile of his own, but he always got one of those when Parker smiled at him.

Then she leaned forward and pressed her lips lightly against his, making his eyes widen in shock. And as she breaks she says, "That was a good first date, but next time you can pick the place, okay?"

Then she's gone, leaving Hardison only to stutter, "D-Date? Really? What?"