Title: Mother Knows Best
Author: Devereauxx
Fandom: Leverage
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Even after everything, there is still one person Parker loves more than anything else in this world.
A/N: This is a Parker-oriented gen fic... goes back into the past while the story continues in the present. Will include non graphic child abuse and rape, so... there's your warning. Also, my gen has decided to morph into slight Parker/Hardison, but I'm still calling it gen cause the pairings not the point... it's all about Parker. But somehow it's starting to fall into place and uh... I don't know, I feel corrupted. My Parker/Sophie fics are crying somewhere, I'm sure.

CHAPTER ONE
The Chicken Pox

Parker remembers the day she got the chicken pox. She was four. She was really tiny at that age, so tiny that she was actually at least ten pounds underweight for what a girl at her age should be. But not like her mother noticed, she never really noticed anything. No one else noticed either; otherwise she maybe would have been taken away from her earlier than eight years old. Even the school she attended didn't notice, and she was pretty sure they were supposed to notice those kinds of things. But outside of that, Parker was never allowed outside, and no one was allowed inside the house. Not usually, and never again after the last time. Games were only fun inside the house, after all.

Parker remembers the day she got chicken pox because that was the day her aunt and cousin came over, and the last time anyone was ever allowed to come over. Parker didn't know she had a cousin, or even an aunt, or any kind of family outside of her mother. She had no idea where her father was, and her mother used to tell her she was like the Virgin Mary and conceived her through the power of God's love. At the age of four, Parker wasn't entirely sure what that meant, but she was pretty sure that if God loved her so much that He gave her as a gift to her mother, maybe her mother would remember to feed her. She always remembered to play, but her mother was never hungry so she would always forget to feed Parker as well.

Her cousin was five, and her name was Katherine. Parker was so excited to finally have someone her own age to play with that she took her hand and ran up the stairs to show her her room, which then only consisted of a bed and one tiny stuffed bunny. She didn't know kids usually got more than that. Parker grabbed a hold of Bunny and gave it to her, so they could both play with it. That was the funnest day of Parker's life.

Parker vaguely remembers her aunt yelling at her mother about the state of the house, and the drugs, and how she couldn't believe her mother had a child and never told her, because Parker was under-cared for, and that someone with her mental disabilities isn't fit to care for a child. But what she remembers most about that day is that after that, Katherine never came back to play, and her mother made them move the day after. But her mother said it was because she loved her, and her aunt wanted her to take her away from her. Parker didn't want that, she loved her mother. She was… she was her mother.

The next day, Parker itched everywhere. Little red spots started to pop up everywhere and she itched, she itched so much she cried. Her mother wrapped her hands in duck tape, told her not to scratch and threw her in a tub of ice cold water to bring down her fever. She left her there for hours, alone, because Parker wasn't fun to play with when she was sick.

Parker cried a lot in that tub. She remembers hearing the TV in the other room, and the smell of that smoke her mother always made when she played with a little glass toy, a game she could only play alone, and she remembers watching the cockroaches scutter across the floor as she sat in the water. She remembers naming them; one was Bob and the other was Sally. Sally always won the little races they didn't know Parker was pretending they were having in her head as she tried to be a strong little girl and stop crying because she knew how much her mother hated it.

Children of God don't cry because they are a blessing, and if they do then they are spoiled and selfish and don't deserve to be on this earth. And Parker wasn't spoiled or selfish, and she liked being on this earth. So she stopped crying.

When the water got lukewarm, tiny Parker climbed out of the tub, almost slipping. She was still itchy, and still hot, and her stomach felt gross. She went to go tell her mother, but when she got into the living room her stomach started bubbling faster and then she threw up all over the 'new carpet', which was only new to them and not new in general, because it was still pretty nasty looking.

Her mother looked down at her, upset that she had done that. But she gave her a little smile anyway, and threw her a rag. "Clean it up, Princess. Otherwise the garden will die," she told her softly, and little Parker did. Then she lay down on the carpet, or the garden as it was in her mothers mind at the moment, and closed her eyes, still not feeling good, and went to sleep. She thinks Bob and Sally played on her that day, and she's pretty sure her mother didn't notice, or maybe thought they were tiny cats prancing on her amidst the flowers. Her mother always had the best imagination.

"I'm in hell," Hardison groaned as he lay on Nate's couch. Sophie had put mittens on his hands so he wouldn't scratch, and gave him a blanket to put over him. He threw it off of him though, complaining it was too hot for a damn blanket, which made Sophie calmly explain that he needed to sweat the fever out.

"Can I play connect the dots on your skin?" Parker asked, looking at all the tiny dots all over him. She couldn't see them as well as she could see them on herself when she was younger, but that was because Hardison's skin was a lot darker than hers. But that didn't stop her from having a pen in her hand, looking at them like they could be a fun game at the hacker's expense.

"No," Both Hardison and Sophie said at the same time, and Parker slouched a bit, disappointed. She didn't see the point of being here if she couldn't at least draw on Hardison. She put the pen down, squished her face in distaste at being told the word she hates the most, and folded her arms into herself.

"Hardison, put the blanket back on," Sophie told him in a tone that Parker thinks almost sounded like what a mother should sound like, except hers never did. Hers was too interested in playing with her glass toy, playing dress up, and pretending that her and Parker were two holy people chosen for great things. Thinking back on it, Parker is pretty sure her mother's brain didn't work the right way. But then again, neither did hers. But she at least knew the difference between a carpet and a garden.

"Sophie, I already have these damn mittens on, which in case you're wondering makes my hands feel like they're two hundred and ten freaking degrees. I'm fine," Hardison protested, and held up his hands to further enhance his point. Parker looked from them to Sophie, because she enjoyed watching the interaction between people. It was interesting to her; it was how she tried to learn. And she wanted to know if having mittens on was a suitable substitute for a blanket, in case the situation ever arises that she might need to know that.

Eliot chucked over in the armchair as he flipped the channels on the television set from one sports channel to another. Parker didn't know what the difference was with most of them except the changing colors of outfits. "I can't believe you're getting the chicken pox again," he said with a smirk, but didn't look at him.

"This is my first time!" Hardison retorts, and then swats at Sophie with his gloved hands as she tries to put the blanket back on him. That makes Eliot laugh more, though Parker wasn't quite sure if it was because of what Hardison said or because he was trying to fend off Sophie with little to no success. Eliot was still staring at the TV, so Parker was pretty sure it had to be what he said, unless he had eyes in the back of his head. But with all that hair, he might. They would be easy to hide, peeking out between the strands. Parker makes a mental note to check for hidden eyes later.

"Hardison, stop it," Sophie said with a dangerous 'I mean it' tone, and pushed him back down on the couch with one hand and threw a blanket over him with another. Hardison's eyes went wide that she just overpowered him even though he was sick, but relents and decides to just glare at her instead. Parker giggles because she's never seen Hardison act like such a brat before, but she guesses that's just what happens when people get sick.

"Just so we're all clear, since apparently Sophie needs to use my house as a damn hospice… everyone else here has had the chicken pox, right? Rather not have this go on longer than needed," Nate said, still looking annoyed. He sipped at his coffee at the island bar and was tapping his foot against the bar stool like he was impatient about something.

"Yes," both Sophie and Eliot say, and Parker just nods. She's discretely picking up the pen again, deciding that maybe she can just have some fun if nobody knows. But within a second it's being slapped out of her hand gently by Sophie, who gives her a look like she was being naughty or something. Parker wonders if maybe she has eyes in the back of her head too, or maybe somewhere else, because that was kind of creepy how she just knew Parker had picked up the pen again.

"We said no," she tells her, and Parker just narrows her eyes at her. Deciding this corner of the room wasn't very much fun, she gets up and decides to go sit on the arm of Eliot's chair and see if she can figure out what's so fascinating to him about big muscled men in tight pants running around a field. It sounds kind of homosexual to her, but she knows a lot of guys like it and if it was sign of being gay than the world would have stopped reproducing and everyone would die off. Maybe. Unless they're all bisexual.

"Parker, there's this concept called personal space," Eliot tells her without looking at her; he's still staring at the screen. Parker tries to follow his eyesight, and she's pretty sure he's looking at one of the player's butts. But maybe she was wrong. Everyone always tells her she's wrong about a lot of stuff.

"People say that a lot," Parker replies, because they do. To her, anyway. She's not quite sure why people tell her that, because she can't seem to make heads or tails from that statement.

"Yes, it means you should go away," Eliot tells her, and Parker glares. Well, at least someone told her what it means, even if it was… mean. She takes his hair and brushes it to the side, which makes Eliot jump halfway out his skin and it looked like he was restraining himself from hitting her.

"What are you doing?!" he asks, and gets up, moving away from her. Parker shrugs and slumps into the chair he was once sitting it. It was warm from his butt. He's still looking at her like she did something wrong.

"I was checking for extra eyes," she tells him, and he looks at her like she's gone insane. Parker looks at Sophie, knowing that if it were an insane thing to do she would at least let her know.

"Eliot, be nice to Parker and Parker, don't touch Eliot's hair," Sophie says, like she's dictating some sort of children's play date. Parker's seen them on TV, and Sophie was starting to act like how television mothers do. But Parker and Eliot weren't children, so she didn't get it.

"Yeah, it's like his sacred vessel," Hardison snorts as he laughs, but then groans in pain and Sophie jumps up off of the couch just as Hardison rolls over and pukes onto the floor.

"Great," Nate mutters, and gets up off of the barstool he was sitting on and decides to go upstairs, away from sick Hardison and maybe-children Eliot and Parker. As he climbs the stairs, Parker does what she thinks is the right thing and gets up, getting a dish towel and throws it to Hardison.

"Clean it up," she tells him, because that's what her mother told her. Sophie looks at her like that was the completely wrong thing to do, so Parker feels bad at that look she's giving her and sits back in the chair that was once Eliot's. She feels herself start to pout; she thought that was the right thing to do. She didn't like it when she found out what she thought was okay really wasn't.

"Parker, he's sick," Sophie tells her in that tone Parker hates, because it makes her feel bad about herself. Sophie picks up the towel and cleans up Hardison's mess, which Eliot had taken one look at and decided to retreat back to his apartment down the hall to watch the game without being interrupted. Hardison groans a bit and swears, and Parker doesn't know what to do. She doesn't like seeing Hardison look all icky, and feeling just as bad.

Sophie brings the towel into the kitchen and washes it, which Parker thinks is really gross, and then after washing her hands comes back with a small wastebasket to put near the couch. Parker turns around, still feeling upset about being chided, and grabs the remote and starts flipping through the channels. Finding Dora the Explorer, she leaves it on. Hardison groans and starts complaining about the TV then.

"I'm trying to learn Spanish," Parker tells him, like it should be obvious why she put the channel on there. It might be a kid's show, but she's already started to learn things. But of course, since Hardison's sick, he gets his way. She doesn't understand that, she never got her way when she was sick.

"Parker, come on, turn off the TV," Sophie tells her, and Parker turns it off and slams the remote down on the table. She wanted Sophie to stop using that tone with her, she didn't like it. "Let's leave Hardison to rest, okay?"

"But this is the living room," Parker protests, because that means it's everyone's area. But Sophie gives her that look and Parker storms past her and out the door, walking down the hallway to go into her own apartment. She thought they were all going to stay together and have some fun tonight, but no one seemed to want to do that.

Even though Hardison had bought the apartment building they all lived in right now, down the hall from each other, they still didn't hang out. Not really, anyway. And Parker wanted to hang out, she wanted to have fun with the only people she knows, but no one ever wanted to have fun with her. Sometimes she doesn't know why she stays with these people, but if she was to be honest with herself, they were the only thing she knew now. They were her new family, and it didn't matter if she always liked them or they always liked her. After all, she had been in a lot of different families, and if there was one thing she knew, not all families loved each other.

TBC…