The Queen, Princess, and her Prince

Parker and Hardison stood outside of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, just looking at the building. They both didn't say anything; there really wasn't anything that needed to be said because Hardison already knew why they were there, or at least part of it. Parker is taking deep breaths as she stares at the sign above the door, holding Hardison's hand in a near death grip so much that her knuckles were starting to turn white. But Hardison doesn't complain, he barely even flinched. He did wince a bit at first, but Parker loosened her grip a little and took another deep breath.

Her eyes scan the windows as her heart is beating a thousand miles an hour. Her mother is in there somewhere. Her mother. Her real honest to god mother that she hasn't seen since she was so small. So tiny, so young, so innocent. She terrified to step in there, scared to see her again because she didn't know what to expect. Would her mother hate her for never coming to see her sooner? Would she even remember her? The butterflies in her stomach are going haywire again, and she's pretty sure she's about to vomit on the sidewalk, in the snow, in front of all these people.

At least she's near a hospital.

"You alright?" Hardison asks, looking at her.

"I don't know," she tells him honestly. She's watching the snow fall as she looks at the windows near the top of the building, and she wonders if her mother has ever been allowed outside to play in it. She used to love playing in the snow.

"Come on," Hardison tells her gently, and starts walking towards the door. He has to softly tug on her a little so she'll start moving, but once she starts walking she found that she couldn't stop. In through the sliding glass doors, up to the desk, and then she froze. What is she even supposed to tell these people?

"Can I help you?" the woman at the desk asks. Parker doesn't answer though, just stares at her. She can't figure out what she's supposed to say.

"Uh," Hardison starts, looking over at Parker who seems to be a bit mute for the time being. "We're here to see Roma Phillips."

"Relation?" the woman asks, looking at her computer.

Hardison nudges Parker forward a little, "This is her daughter." Parker continues to stare, and the woman looks back at her.


Parker blinks and her eyes shift to Hardison. She has never said her birth name out loud in almost ten years. But then she has another thought, if they're asking her name, then that probably means that only certain people are allowed to see her, if their name is on the list. What if her name isn't on the list? What if her mother doesn't want to see her?

"Miss… your name?" the woman at the desk asks again, looking at Parker a little oddly.

"Oh," Parker says, shaking herself out of her own thoughts. She glances over at Hardison one more time before looking back at the woman. "Annie…" she starts to say, but comes out almost a whisper because her throat is so dry. She clears it and tries again, "Uh, m-my name is Annie Phillips." Parker shuffles her feet a bit, feeling awkward about that admission.

Hardison's staring at her, she can feel it, but she doesn't want to look at him. She doesn't know if she ever wanted him to know 'Annie'. It's not a part of her that she really likes to look back on.

"Annie Phillips…" the woman says as she checks her computer database for a moment. "Alright, you're on the visitors list. And this is your husband?" She looks at Hardison.

"Yes," Parker says automatically, instinct taking over since she's sure he wouldn't be allowed to see her if he wasn't. She holds onto his hand tighter and takes another deep breath. It's going to be okay; she's on the list, which means her mother didn't forget her. But what if she's still mad that she never came earlier?

"Alright, your mother is on floor seven, I'll call the front desk there to let them know of your arrival."

Parker nods, tries to force a smile at her and then turns towards the elevators, her turn to tug Hardison along. He was still staring at her in this way she couldn't describe, and she wasn't sure if she liked it.

When they get in the elevator, they're the only ones in there. Hardison is the one who presses the button for floor seven, and they sit there in silence for a whole three floors until Parker bursts out, "I can't do this!" and presses the emergency stop button on the elevator.

"Parker!" Hardison exclaims. "You can't just…" he sighs, knowing that's not the way to approach this. "Hey, girl, come here… look at me, okay?" Parker slowly turns her head towards him, probably looking more terrified than she ever has been in her life. He takes both of her hands in hers and says, "She's your mother… you love her, and I'm sure she loves you more than anything else in this world and misses you, okay? And you know… Parker, you know that if you don't do this then you're going to be mad at yourself for the rest of your life, and wondering 'what if.' Am I right?"

Parker lets out a breath she didn't even know she was holding, but nods feebly. He's right; she knows he's right. Hardison's always right about stuff like this. But it doesn't make her any less scared. Why can she do all these crazy things so many people wouldn't do in a million years, and yet she can't do something simple as this? What's wrong with her?

Sometimes she wonders if her brain is backwards. Put in her head the wrong way.

Hardison watches her for a minute, seeing her nod, and he says, "Okay then… come on, I'll be right here with you." She nods again, trying to control her own breathing so she doesn't end up having a panic attack or something equally as horrid, and watches him press the button. They start going up again, and when the 'ding' to signify the stop of the seventh floor comes, she tenses.

The doors open and Hardison has to nudge her forward again, but finally she's walking towards the check in area. "Are you here to see Ms. Phillips?" the older woman asks her with a smile and a little adjustment of her glasses. Parker always wanted to wear glasses, just because of how they look. Though in the long run she doubts it would be good when she was rappelling.

"Yes," Parker tells her, and her voice almost sounds like a little girls because she's so frightened by what's on the other side of those double doors, but also filled with so much curiosity and so much excitement that she wasn't sure exactly which emotion was more dominating.

"Alright, come with me please," the woman tells her with a kind voice and another smile as she comes out from behind the desk and moves towards the double doors, swiping her key card.

Parker is sure she might faint.

"You're alright," Hardison whispers in her ear and gives her hand another squeeze, and Parker nods. Sure, she's great. Fabulous. Totally hovering near the realm of alright, only not. She's so miles away from alright. Like across the galaxy from alright in a little blue police box.

Damnit, Doctor Who again. She tries to remember to blame Hardison for that later, but right now all she can focus on is trying to walk through those doors without looking like a complete and utter nervous wreck. They're passing bedrooms now, one after another, and Parker can feel her heart beginning to get louder, faster.

Yeah, she's so going to throw up in half a minute.

"Here we are," the chipper old woman says and comes over to a blonde woman who's sitting in a chair, looking out at the snow through the window. "Roma, dear, you have a visitor."

Parker can't breathe, and she's sure she's about the start crying. Everything is happening too fast for her system to process it. All these feelings, all these thoughts, all these questions, all these answers. Too fast, all of it too fast. She grips Hardison's hand like it's the end of the world as the woman, her mother… as she turns around and looks at the two of them.

Parker puts a hand up over her mouth, just a reaction that she thought she would ever have. She's seen in it in movies and had no idea why people did it… until now. A tear fell down her cheek, but she didn't care. It really didn't matter anymore. Crying was nothing compared to all of this. "Alec…" she whispers, choking up a bit, "That's my momma…"

Her mother looks at her for a moment, until recognition washes over her face like a tidal wave. "Minnie?" she asks, blinking for a moment, just like Parker does herself now, like she couldn't believe she was real, like she was trying to process it. "Is that you, Princess?" her voice was still airy, still light, like nothing mattered, but it was written all over her face how much it mattered.

Parker lets go of Hardison's hand in a flash and then she's running the short way towards her, wrapping her arms around her mother. She's still crying, and for once she doesn't care that so many people can see her while she does it.

"Annie is it really you? Annie, baby…" Parker sniffs as her mother keeps saying her name as she touches every part of Parker that she can find, especially her face, touching her face while she looks in her eyes and sees her daughter for the first time in twenty years. "Oh baby, you're so beautiful…" her mother tells her, and Parker just holds her, she holds onto her mother that she's missed for so long, her mother that taught her how to see the world in a different light.

Her mother, perfect in her flaws.

It takes the two women awhile to gather themselves, get a hold of their emotions, and Parker looks back, tears in her eyes, and she smiles at Hardison. Her mother was different, she could tell that. She wasn't as much in her own world as she once was, but being doped up on meds for the last twenty years is bound to suppress that after awhile. But she still was her, still in her beliefs, because she turns and looks at Hardison before whispering in Parker's ear, "Did you finally bring me your prince, baby?"

Parker nods and sniffs a little as she leans in and whispers back. "He's perfect, momma. He's pink. I saw it."

Her mother smiles and holds her daughter tight, "You have your palace yet, Minnie? With a garden of roses that the kittens can play in?" Parker smiles, the biggest smile she thinks she's ever had in her life, just from hearing her mother talk of fairy tales again.

"One day," she tells her, and steals a glance back at him. She knows he can't hear what they're whispering to each other, but she knows he can tell it's about him. He smiles a little. "You want to meet him?" she asks, and her mother nods.

She waves Hardison over, and he walks up to the two of them. "It's nice to finally meet you, Queen Roma," he says to her, taking her hand. She watches her mother smile, and it makes her smile. She didn't even think he would remember what she told him about their games. The very little she told him until she made herself stop. She wishes she didn't now because he was… he was so perfect. He accepted everything about her, about her family, about her life, and she loved it.

"Good Sir," her mother says, nodding a bit at him. She tries to contain her smile for that part, but it sneaks out. "The prince for my princess, her knight in shining armor. I didn't know if I'd every be able to lay eyes on you…"

"I made a promise, Momma," Parker tells her seriously. She would never break a promise to her mother, not ever.

"I know… but that's not what I was worried about. Pink… pink is hard to find, darling," her mother tells her patiently, just like she always has, and strokes her hair a little bit. She looks at her daughter and says, "You're every bit as perfect as I knew you would be." And then she looks at Hardison, "And so is your prince. Beautiful together, both of you. So… so beautiful…"

They stayed until visiting hours were over, and Parker promised she would come back as soon as she could. They talked about everything, mostly about Parker's life and what she's doing. They continued to play their little game of royalty, and her mother even took a pen and dubbed "Sir Alec Hardison" with it in the middle of the visiting room, him down on one knee. Parker loved it; she loved every minute of it. It was the most perfect experience she has ever had in her entire life. It was her family, so much her family with her mother and Hardison. He fit right in, no cracks in the design; he just fit perfectly like a piece of her life's puzzle.

She kissed him when they left the building, just wrapped her arms around his neck and planted one on him, in front of everyone, something she was terrified to do for a long time. "Thank you…" she whispers against his lips.

"I didn't do anything," Hardison tries to tell her, but she clamps a hand over his mouth.

"Shh," she orders, then smirks. "Listening?" she asks, and he nods, her hand still over his mouth. "Good," she says, and grins. Then she gets serious. "I wouldn't have gone up there if it wasn't for you. And I… I um…" Parker starts to feel a bit awkward at all this mushy stuff and shuffles her feet a bit before mumbling, "And I liked playing games with you and my mom… it was fun." She still doesn't look at him, she's sure she's blushing.

Hardison mumbles something behind her hand and she snaps her head up. "Oh," she says, and takes her hand off of his mouth. "Sorry I—"

But she's swept up in a kiss that cuts her off, and she decides talking isn't the best route to go now anyway. "I liked it too," Hardison tells her softly, and she smiles. "Come on," he tells her, lacing his fingers in hers as he takes her hand. "Our flight leaves soon, lets go back to the hotel, Princess."

Ever since Parker was little she always thought that good things were just something that happened to other people. Almost like a story, some kind of fairytale in itself. It was something that was never truly real for her until this moment. Perfection, that's what she'll call it, even though she knows true perfection doesn't ever exist. She knows they're going to fight one day, she knows she's still going to cry sometimes at night, but this, right here, was as close as she ever was going to get, and it was all she needed.

Sir Alec Hardison, her prince and knight in shining armor. The only person in the entire universe that has ever really understood her, cared for her, and made her feel how a princess should feel.

Because being with him is like being royalty.


A/N: The story is continued in "Cinderella's Castle", the sequel to this.