Disclaimer: All characters are property of Dean Devlin.
Author's Note: The timeline of these one-shots jumps around a lot, but they are all connected. So effectively, they make one big story, it's just broken down into different stages.
Moments Like This: Chapter One
Eliot wasn't used to playing this role. He was the stoic one. The one that expressed himself through violence and cooking. He wasn't good with emotional scenes, especially when women were involved. And yet, now he was in a situation that he was always careful to avoid.
Parker was sitting on the couch, clearly upset about something, and he had no choice but to talk to her. It wasn't that he didn't like her, because he did, he was just never sure of what to say and usually ended up making things worse. But this time there was no out because Nate was out meeting with a client, Hardison was somewhere in the city trying to find the latest edition of some nerdy game, and Sophie…realization hit Eliot full force.
They all missed the grifter in their own way, particularly Nate, but Sophie and Parker had gotten close in the time they had worked together and Eliot knew that Sophie was the first real best friend Parker had ever had. Now she was gone and none of them knew if they would ever see her again.
"You okay, darlin'?" he asked as he made his way over to the couch.
She shook her head and laid her head on his shoulder, wrapping her arms around one of his. "I miss Sophie."
Her actions took him surprise since they were still in the beginning stages of a committed relationship, but he relaxed after a few seconds and let her lean into him a little more. "We all miss her."
"It's different for me. She was the first real friend I ever had."
He already knew this but he also knew that Parker didn't open up about her life before becoming part of a team very often and shutting her down would be one of the stupidest things he had ever done.
"She didn't look at me like everyone else does when I do something crazy. She made me feel normal. She helped me learn how to be normal. I'm not sure if I can do that without her here."
"You don't need Sophie for that, Parker."
"I think a lot of people would disagree with that."
He sighed deeply and rested his cheek against her hair. "Sophie taught you the basics, you did the rest. You've changed and I'm not the only one who's noticed it. You're still fundamentally you, you've just learned to think before you do something outrageous."
She smiled and turned her face into his neck, breathing in the cologne that he always wore. "I think that's one of the nicest things you've ever said to me."
"Don't tell Hardison or Nate."
"Your reputation as the bad-ass of the team is safe."
He laughed, glad that the mood in the room was a little lighter and pressed a kiss into her hair. "Feel better now?"
"A little. I'm never going to stop missing her."
"None of us will, sweetheart. We're a family and when a family member leaves you don't just forget about them."
"I've never had a family before. All of this is new to me and sometimes it's a little scary."
He pulled away from her and cupped her chin, forcing her to look up at him. "I want you to listen to me, okay? I want you to listen and never forget this."
She nodded, her eyes wide as they connected with his. She'd never heard that particular tone of voice from him before and she couldn't place it, but she wasn't so sure she liked it. "Okay."
"I'll always be here for you. I don't care what happens or what crazy thing you do, I'll never leave. I need you to know that, Parker."
She nodded again as she laid her head back on his shoulder, overwhelmed by his promise. She'd never had anyone say them to her before and she knew that Eliot meant them but she wasn't sure what to do with them or what to say.
This was one of those situations that Sophie was an expert at handling and suddenly Parker missed her just a little bit more. This whole relationship thing with Eliot was confusing enough but everything he had just said made her feel completely out of comfortable territory.
As arms once again wound around his arm, his free hand came up and began stroking her hair, lulling her back into a comfortable as she contemplated the change in direction her life had taken over the last few months. All of their lives had changed really, but for Parker it was probably the most dramatic. Because now she had what she'd never had before. A family, a home that she stayed in for more than a few days at a time and a steady job. She had stability. And while it was still somewhat of an adjustment, she liked the way things were going. Especially this newest development with Eliot.
From the beginning their relationship had been the most volatile but now they were settling into a rhythm but things between them were never dull, especially when romance was thrown into the mix. Maybe they wouldn't make it as a couple, but they were friends first so they would be okay. No matter what happened, Eliot and Parker as friends would make it through and that was what led her to her latest revelation.
"I believe you."
Eliot smiled and pressed another kiss to into her hair. "Good. That's real good, darlin'."