Eliot woke up two days later, grumpy as a bear. He didn't seem to remember much about his time at the condo or anything that came after. By prior agreement, the team glossed over the details of his rescue and Parker's role in it – which, since she was trying to forget her various missteps, she was happy to do.
Nate never asked about the missing gun, and Parker hadn't offered any information, either.
Sometimes, she thought she caught Eliot frowning at her thoughtfully, but she chose to believe she had said something weird (and sometimes she had). Once, he asked her if she had fully recovered from her injuries in the river; she nodded wordlessly and offered a big, fake smile. He grunted in acknowledgement and limped slowly away.
He healed slowly despite his organic vegetables; Parker thought he should try marshmallow cereal (it worked for her).
Then one evening after a planning session for their latest con, Parker was heading out of the conference room when Eliot blocked her with an arm across the hallway. Parker swallowed. The arm was the size of a ham-hock.
"Why were you there?" he asked. "At the condo."
"I remember stuff. About you," he said bluntly.
Well, Parker could handle blunt. She was great at blunt. "I don't know what you mean. And I don't want to talk about it, anyway. Ever." She scowled. "And anyhow, you weren't even awake for most of it."
Eliot's lips twitched. "You're talking about it," he pointed out.
Parker scrunched up her face at him, ugly.
"They won't tell me what you did, but I remember – pieces. You were there – " he squinted, obviously frustrated.– "I saw you, you had a g-"
"No I didn't," interjected Parker at once, cutting him off. "You're wrong. You don't remember any of it. You were out of your mind the whole time, muttering nonsense, having nightmares, screaming –" Eliot flinched. "Now, excuse me, I have to go somewhere – else. To do things. That are important." Nodding decisively, she made to move by him, but was unexpectedly blocked by the ham-hock.
"You think I'm stupid? They're still pissed at you, I can tell, and you were there. You did something. But why would you do that? Why?" He grabbed her arm and shook her, but not hard. "Tell me," he demanded, in a grunt.
She wasn't going to get out of this one: Eliot had just become the immovable object.
Parker crossed her arms and studied her shoelaces. "I don't have – anything," she said. Her voice was low, flat. People are like locks. "Except, like, 7 million in cash, maybe half that again in uncut stones." Eliot rolled his eyes. "And a couple properties. In case I need a getaway. And a plane."
"Practically nothing then," said Eliot.
"You know those old friends who remember what you were like as a kid?"
Eliot blinked at this unexpected line of reasoning.
"Or like, Aunts and Uncles, grade-school teachers? Just anybody who knew you – before?"
Eliot shrugged, nodded. "Sure."
"Not me." Parker shook her head. "There was no before. If nobody remembers you, you don't exist."
"That's stupid," said Eliot, who was not known for tact. "People saw you. People remember you – " but Parker was shaking her head.
"Nobody I know. Nobody would recognize me – " she smiled, vaguely. "There was a fire, after I left."
"How'd that happen?"
"Faulty wiring," was the honest answer.
Eliot sucked on his tongue and didn't comment. "What does this have to do with me?"
"I don't have a past. I don't have a family." Parker licked her lips. "This team, you guys – you're everything I have."
"That and about ten million dollars," Eliot pointed out. Maybe he was a little bitter about that.
"Right," Parker agreed. "And a plane. But you were in trouble and I just didn't want to lose any of what I've got left, that's all."
"Alright." Eliot let her go. "So it's nothing personal. That's all I needed to know."
"Of course it's personal," said Parker, puzzled. "I risked my life for you. I ki - uh, was willing to die for you. I carried you on my back. I slept with you for two nights . . ."
"Woah, there," interjected Eliot hastily. "Be quiet before Hardison hears you say crazy junk like that."
Parker blinked, cocked her head. "Why would Hardison care?"
"Uh, never mind – the point is, I guess what I should say," he exhaled noisily out through his nose, "is, uh. I should – I'm trying to say, you know, that I appreciate –ah . . . "
"Are you trying to thank me?" asked Parker, with interest. "This is almost as bad as when Sophie tried to apologize."
Eliot's face clouded over, then he sighed, and clapped her on the shoulder. "Thanks, man."
"Right back at ya," Parker cocked her index finger at him and clicked her tongue, then thought about it and quickly dropped her hands. "Just, uh, don't mention it. Like, ever."
"Don't think you have to worry about that." Now that his gratitude was behind him he was back to being brusque and irritable, she was relieved to note. "It's not like I even remember it, anyway." He pushed past her and headed down the hall way, although she noticed he was careful not to knock her bad leg. Which had long since healed.
Parker touched her face and realized she was smiling. Sophie couldn't apologize. Eliot couldn't say thank you. Hardison was bad at lying (he always oversold it). And she, Parker – well, she was bad at a lot of things. Empathy. Self-control. Small talk. Actually, pretty much the only thing she was good at was being a thief.
"Hey, girl, get in here, we're watching a movie. There's popcorn."
She skipped down the hallway to Nate's living room, where they were waiting for her.
Maybe there were a couple of other things she could do alright.
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