Eliot isn't gay, but he's thought about it.

The thing is, women are a lot of trouble, and Eliot doesn't really like trouble. Men, though – or the men that Eliot has opportunity to meet – are just as much trouble, but in more manageable ways. Like Nate – Eliot's never in his life met a more complex individual, someone so resistant to manipulation that he'll commit felonies to turn the tables, yet Eliot can predict his reactions so well he might as well write out a manual.

He tried it out, once, with an Arab he met in London. It was an unmitigated disaster, but he thinks about it every once in awhile. It's not a sexual memory, although they did have sex – but rather it's important for a different, more complicated reason.

It isn't very relevant to his daily life, at any rate, even if he'd like to bring it up whenever Hardison starts bitching about what a hick he is. But honestly, it really isn't worth it.

--

"We need a back story," Parker says, in bed. "Don't you think?"

"We have a back story," he replies in his best Parker you're ridiculous voice. "Did you not get Hardison's dossier?"

"I meant a good one," she whines. "Mr. and Mrs. Reed, construction worker and receptionist. Met at their college reunion. Dated for a year, got married at their parents' church." She turned her head and blew a raspberry dangerously close to his ear, and he makes a vaguely un-manly-like noise and pulls away in disgust. "Borr-ing."

"You're disturbed. Go to sleep."

"Maybe one of us should be a – "

"No."

"But you didn't – "

"I know."

"You're a fucking – "

"Probably."

She huffs and he can practically hear her pouting. For a few minutes, he can delude himself into thinking she'll fall asleep, but then she shifts position again, rolling over to face him.

"I can't sleep." He sighs and doesn't reply. "Eliot. Eliot. Eliot." She pokes him. "Eliot. Eliot. Eli – "

"Shut. Up."

"I was just gonna ask you to do some tai chung with me."

Eliot's head snaps up. "Chi. Tai chi. For God's sake – "

"Whatever, whatever. I can't sleep. C'mon." She pushes at his arm roughly, then does a double take, laying her hand back on his bicep and squeezing hard. "Holy crap crackers, you're buff. Like not even normal buff, but like on-the-verge-of-being-a-douchebag buff."

"Oh yeah, and I'm so hot for your string bean thighs, sweetheart." He shakes her off his arm, annoyed.

"Oh, don't be a girl," she replies. "You're a total stud. Okay?"

"Parker," he grits out, "shut up."

It comes out sharper than he'd intended and she falls abruptly silent. He can't see her face but he feels her lay back down next to him on her back, breaths coming just a little bit more quickly than before.

He stares at the ceiling balefully for a full minute, feeling hot and itchy and guilty and annoyed, and realizes with a healthy surge of exasperation that he also has an erection. "Fine," he says, and nudges Parker with his elbow, the least sexual gesture he can think of. "You can…turn the TV on or something."

She turns her head and inches a little bit closer. "You can pick the channel," she says softly. It's a concession.

He grunts, feeling a little awkward about the last ten minutes of his life in general, and only winces a little when she clambers across his legs to grab the remote. Settling back against the mattress, she starts flipping through channels, and inconspicuously, she moves her leg until it's pressing up against his own, and. Well.

(Something embarrassing: he's not…entirely sure what's happening.)

--

They go to an art museum in the morning. Their recently reunited earpieces are unusually quiet and calm.

Eliot is content to follow Parker around; as if he could do anything else with her in an art museum. It's surprisingly pleasant, in a way, to watch her methodically sizing up every square inch of the building in her unsettling Parker way.

She stops short in front of a rather odd-looking landscape, the figures in it rounded and oblong, like 3D cartoons or toys carved from wood. The bottom corner of the painting shows a farm, the top corner, a sea. Parker stares at it with a strange concentration, brow furrowed.

"Pieter Bruegel the Elder," she murmurs. "I stole this painting once."

The information isn't exactly surprising. "How'd it get back here?"

She shrugs. "I…" she trails off, distracted by her intense study of the paint. "I dunno." Then she shakes her head and seems to come back to reality, turning her gaze on him. "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. Do you know the story?"

You grimace, sort of. More like a grin. "Missed that one."

"He was imprisoned," she says, and there's something in her voice that's telling him to pay attention. "By a king. He used a pair of wings built out of feathers and wax so he could escape, but he flew too close to the sun and the wax melted, so he fell into the sea and drowned." She points at a dark, inconspicuous spot towards the edge of the painting. "See? There's his legs." She pauses, tilting her head. "He just fell from the sky and drowned, and nobody notices."

Eliot lets out a slow breath and lays a hand on her shoulder. She leans into the touch hungrily, shivering slightly in the air conditioning. "Hmm."

"That's not even the worst part, though," she says after a minute. Turning her head, she looks up at him from beneath her eyelashes, mouth twisting into a bitter smirk. "His father made him the wings."

--

In hindsight, he should've seen this coming.

--

They're waiting in line to take a ferry ride through the waterfall when things get complicated (even more so than they already are, anyway).

"Bingo."

To her credit, Parker doesn't twitch, doesn't even react, beyond saying, "What?"

"Don't turn around." Eliot slides his arm around her shoulders, steering her discreetly towards the water's edge. "We've got a tail."

"How many?" Nate asks in his ear. "Can you tell?"

"Two," he says. "Seven o'clock. They were at the restaurant earlier. Leather jackets."

"Hang on." Hardison grunts, muttering to himself. "I've got video. We see them."

"This is good!" Sophie exclaims. "Right?"

"Depends on your definition of good," Parker grumbles.

"I got a hit on one of them in the facial recognition program," Hardison comments. "Say hello to Daniel Koran of the mile-long rap sheet. Assault, assault, assault and battery, assault, and oh hey, just to mix things up, assault with a deadly weapon. Nice guy."

"Did you say Koran?" Eliot asks, a twinge of recognition flitting across the surface of his memory.

"Oh yeah. Of course you know him," Hardison replies.

Eliot rolls his eyes. "He was with Vaughn's outfit in Boston, a few years back. I never met him, but I've heard of him. Nasty son of a bitch."

"Vaughn?" Parker frowns. "Isn't that the guy who did all those carjackings?"

"Yup." Nate sounds slightly distracted, a rattled sigh echoing across the microphone. "The police chased him for over a year. They couldn't pin him down. They didn't even know what he looked like."

"And now he's graduated to kidnapping?" Sophie asks. "Makes sense."

"Koran could be working for someone else," Eliot points out. "Though from what I heard, he and Vaughn were pretty tight."

"We don't know enough, either way," Nate says decisively. "Just keep it up. If they're tailing you then they're probably planning on making their move soon. Tonight, maybe."

"Fun," Parker comments. "Almost as fun as a boat ride through a thousand-foot waterfall – as in, not fun at all."

"Hang in there," Nate says cheerily. It isn't very comforting. "When you get back you should get some Dippin' Dots. I hear the mint chocolate chip is superb."

"I hate mint," comments Parker.

--

There's a bar on the list, a pseudo-trendy dive packed full of yuppie couples and a smattering of college-age kids. Loud pop music is pumping through the speakers and the tables are illuminated by neon lights. All in all, a nauseating place, but ten minutes after they walk in Eliot catches sight of Koran and his partner across the dance floor, watching them way too obviously. That's a bit reassuring, anyway.

Parker leads him to a booth against the back wall, suitably out of the way but still fairly visible to their watchdogs. She orders tequila and plops her legs in his lap, absently surveying her surroundings with her customary peculiar, detached curiosity.

"This place sucks," she announces after a few moments, and grabs at the collar of his shirt. "Kiss me."

Eliot rears back instinctively. "What?"

"We're on our honeymoon, remember?" She rolls her eyes and captures his neck, pulling him into a sloppy, open-mouthed affair that reminds him vaguely of high school.

He endures it for half a second and breaks it off. "Seriously?"

"What?" she says. "I was kissing you."

"No, you were trying to eat my face." He eyes her warily, wondering if Sophie had taught her to do that, too.

Any other woman would've been offended, but Parker just shrugs. "Well, that's how men usually kiss me."

"Just who have you been kissing?" he asks incredulously, and instantly regrets it.

Parker crunches up her face in such a classically female expression of irritation that it's almost a little…comforting. "What, do you want a list?"

"No." He pauses as the waitress delivers their drinks, watching as she pours herself a shot. "Just calm it down a little. We're honeymooners, not porn stars."

"Fine." She downs the liquor in one smooth motion, a flush rising to the tops of her cheekbones and he's suddenly very thankful that Hardison isn't listening in on this conversation. "Why don't you just stop me again if it gets to be too much for you."

He bristles slightly at the implied challenge and it's the only reason he allows her to kiss him again, winding her wrists together at the back of his head. Her thighs flex slightly, pressed up against his stomach, and Eliot sighs inwardly and stops thinking.

Some kind of noise pulls them apart eventually, and it takes him a few seconds to regain the ability for higher thought. She's breathing heavily, looking up at him with something like expectation. "Sylvia?"

"Not even close," she says, and kisses him again.

--

Later, they don't have sex but they do make out in the hot tub.

"Earth…"

"Nourished by fire," Parker replies. "Metal created by earth and dissolves to feed water, which nourishes wood, which feeds fire, which tempers metal, which cuts wood, which restrains earth, which holds back water, which quenches fire." Then she hooks one leg over the other and smirks. "Suck on that, bitch."

"You should really stop listening when Hardison talks."

"Eh." She reaches up behind her head and starts working her ponytail out of its holder, the chlorine and steam tangling it up into a messy glob of blonde on the back of her head. She kind of looks like a drowned rat with smeared mascara. "So when did you learn the Won Shong?"

"Wu Sheng."

"That's what I said."

She's been full of questions tonight, asking him about everything from his childhood to his favorite food. He's willing to indulge her. "China," he says. "Yangshao, from a teacher named Yang Zhao Duo. I met him in Bosnia."

Parker was quiet for a moment, then said, "you were in Bosnia? During the war there?"

"Yeah." He sighs, hoping she doesn't push it. She doesn't. "Actually the poem I taught you was something Master Yang used; I don't know if he wrote it himself or if it's something passed down in his tradition." Parker tilts her chin up slightly and leans back against the wall of the hot tub, eyes sparkling at him curiously. "I studied the I Ching with him, too. And he sent me to a school in Japan where I learned Aikido and karate."

"Just how many forms of fighting do you know?" She sounds a little incredulous.

"A few." He is suddenly embarrassed and a little defensive, for some reason, and then immediately irritated about the fact. "How many ways are there to break into that art museum we went to?"

"Eight," she says immediately, almost absent-mindedly, then ducks her chin slightly. "Okay, I see your point."

She kind of sighs a little, and looks away, and he has this weird urge to tell her more, to tell her about Master Yang and his weird little robes that made him look like a doll, and what a sweet and gentle person he was mostly but for the times when he was kicking Eliot's ass all over the practice room. And about how thin the air was way up in the mountains, and the sticky tofu he ate each morning that was a little like eating papier-mâché. And how it was almost like waking up from a nightmare, breathing in all that air and light and cleanness, especially after Bosnia with its smoke-filled skies and muddy-red streets, and how he still misses it sometimes, how he maybe wants to die there. If he even has a choice in where he dies, which he probably won't. But he wants to, all the same.

He wants to tell her all that, but he doesn't. Because it's just an urge.

A few minutes later, another couple joins them in the hot tub, and if Eliot and Parker really were Mr. and Mrs. Reed of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, construction worker and receptionist, respectively, they would stay and chat, about normal things like normal people do. Like, mortgages and the economy and the weather, or whatever it is normal people talk about; it's been so long since Eliot has even known a normal person that he's forgotten. He wonders briefly if the rules have changed – it's not like he's keeping up.

But they're not Mr. and Mrs. Reed, anyway. They're not married; they're not even dating, really. Or maybe they are, and Eliot's just now starting to notice, which considering that his longest relationship in the last decade and a half was with his motorcycle, it's not like he's not capable of missing the warning signs.

But it's beside the point, because as soon as the other couple saunters into the hot tub room, Parker grabs his hand and pulls him out, not bothering to dry off or even grab a towel as she pulls him with single-minded tenacity to the elevators. They're dripping hot water all over the place and when they step outside into the hallway, the rush of cold air immediately sends them both into shivers, which makes Parker…come to attention.

"Stop staring at my tits," she says a second later, as they wait for the elevator. Eliot doesn't bother denying it.

"Is there a reason you pulled me out of there like your ass was on fire?"

"How could my ass be on fire when I was sitting in a tub of water?" she asks, frowning.

He almost laughs. Almost. "It's an expression."

"Oh." She shakes her head, as if marveling to herself about his bizarre language patterns. "I wanted to be alone with you."

"Oh," he echoes. He knew that, but hearing her say it, he's taken aback.

"Is Eliot Spencer your real name?" she asks out of the blue.

"No," he says, a little nonplussed at the change of subject. "You know that. Parker isn't yours."

"Yes it is," she says. "My real last name. I never really had much of a reason to go by an alias."

No, he supposes she wouldn't have. He remembers hearing rumors about her before he met her, about how she could escape any situation relatively unscathed, with an almost destructive sense of fearlessness. She's bold, maybe, or a little stupid. Or both. "Well, I did."

"So what's your real name?" He frowns. "Come on. At least your last name. You know my last name."

He debates the pros and cons of letting her in on this information for a few minutes before thinking, fuck it. "Ryan," he says. "My last name is Ryan." It feels strange to speak it aloud after so many years. Somewhere in the back of his head, he feels the urge to speak his parents' names aloud too, and quickly ignores it.

"Ryan," she repeats, and he shivers a little. "That suits you."

"So are you gonna let me in on your name, now?" He raises an eyebrow. "I think giving you mine should count for something."

"Now," she replies. "Where's the fun in that?"

--

They get back up to the room and Parker plops down on the couch, instantly soaking the cushions.

"So," she says. "Are we gonna have sex now or later?"

At this point, it's not even all that shocking, which is a little worrying in and of itself. But still. "Who says we're going to at all?" he asks, just on principle. Then she just looks at him and he sighs. "I don't care, I guess."

"Are you gonna be this lame about everything?"

"Probably."

Parker rolls her eyes. "C'mon. Let's take a shower."

She leads him into the bathroom and turns on the hot water, stepping beneath the spray with her bikini still on. "That's a strange way to have sex," he comments, and she turns around, spraying water on the rug.

"I don't see you furthering the situation at all," she replies, but doesn't wait for him to react before pulling the bikini off and throwing it at him petulantly. It's annoying, but Eliot doesn't really have the capacity to react. "Come on." She waves at him impatiently.

His pulse is beating double time, but he still makes an effort to roll his eyes and look grudging as he pulls his clothes off. Parker just giggles at him. "You're crazy."

Parker hums distractedly. "Whatever," she replies, and pulls him under the water.

"Wait, I'm not so sure this is a good – " Eliot says, but Parker reaches down between them and he loses his train of thought.

"Good what?" she asks innocently.

"I hate you," he replies, and on impulse, pushes her back against the wall. "I really mean that."

"I uh," she says, and falls quiet as he starts to touch her. "Um."

"Get that a lot?"

"Yeah."

She closes her eyes and hums under her breath, some tune he doesn't recognize.

"What is that?" he asks, before he can stop himself.

"Hm?" Her eyes flutter open and she grins evilly. "Star Trek theme song."

"You – " he narrows his eyes and drops to his knees. "Oh now it's on."

He eats her out almost viciously, until she's clawing at the shower wall, making these strange, choking gasp sounds that clatter in the small space like marbles. When he pulls away she's almost hyperventilating.

"Shh, stop that," he scolds. "Breathe even. Like I taught you."

She bites her lip and obeys, inhaling and exhaling slow and evenly. He moves into her, waiting for her to regain equilibrium. After a minute, her head falls forward lazily, forehead nudging into his chin. "Kay," she mumbles.

"Good girl," he says, and hitches her up, legs locking around his waist.

"'m not a girl," she murmurs, and knocks her head back against the wall as he pushes inside of her.

Then she frowns, and leans forward to kiss him. He allows it. (She's still not that great of a kisser, but that's okay, because he is.) She pulls away after a second with a contented sigh and leans back against the wall, pushing her body out to meet his, brow furrowed as if in deep thought. Her breaths are still even, for the most part, although punctured by funny little sounds coming from the back of her throat. She looks beautiful, and strange, and Eliot is suddenly struck by the absolute bizarre nature of the situation. It's like he's in a moment that no one has ever been in before, and no one ever will be again. It's a moment in which, if they were Mr. and Mrs. Reed, he'd probably kiss her again, or make googly eyes at her and not talk.

But because Eliot's a bastard, he doesn't. "Hey, I finally found a way to get you to shut up."

Parker snaps her eyes open and glares at him venomously. "Ass – " She breaks off as he adjusts the angle slightly, her eyes snapping shut and breath hitching. " – hole."

He grins and after a second she grins back, and then the world narrows to a sharp point and all there is is her hair clinging to the sides of her face, and her fingernails digging into his neck, and her skin, her mouth, her legs, her breasts. He can hear the shower water roaring in his ears and beneath that, some other rhythm that he can feel mimicked in his own body. Then he narrows, and narrows, and then explodes, and when he comes back down to earth, Parker's there.

"That was awesome," she says dreamily, and Eliot starts to laugh. "Shut up!"

"What?" He smiles, and slides down to the floor with her, realizing as she starts to shiver that the water's running cold. "I was just agreeing with you."

They lay on the floor lethargically until the fear of hypothermia starts to appear, and Parker, in a truly stunning display, reaches up and shuts the water off with her ankle.

"Goddamn," he says after a second.

"Yeah, I know," she replies.

--

If there's anything worse than getting kidnapped, in Eliot's opinion, it's allowing himself to get kidnapped. Also the fact that he's naked isn't helping anything.

He awakes with a start and has to force himself not to move as two distinct figures approach the bed, moving clumsily through the room. One of them moves over to Parker's side and Eliot has to force himself not to react, especially when they lay a handkerchief over her face.

Fuck, he thinks. There goes plan A.

They're sloppy, which is something, at least. He feigns sleep as they handcuff his hands together, and rolls his eyes when they cuff him upside the head.

"Get up," comes the rough voice.

He feigns disorientation, then surprise as he is dragged to his feet. "What the – "

"Shut up," comes the gruff reply. A bag is pulled over his head roughly and two pairs of hands pull him towards the door.

"Christ's sake." The second voice is Cockney, roughened by cigarette smoke, and Eliot files that piece of information away. "Get some clothes on 'im."

"Sonuvabitch." A laugh from his right. The hands fall away and he can think of at least four ways to get out of this. It's almost painful. "Horny bastard."

"Not hard to imagine why," comes the reply, and Eliot hears what is unmistakably the comforter on the bed being pulled away, then a low whistle, and his reaction is only half-feigned.

"What the fuck is going on?" he spits. "Who the hell are you people?"

"Shut up and put these on." Something hits him in the chest, and an encouraging blow on the back of his head has him on the floor, struggling to get into the pair of pants with his hands cuffed and his head still covered. Slow anger begins to roil in his chest but he tamps it down viciously. There'll be time for that later.

He barely gets them on before they pull him to his feet again, pushing him towards the door roughly. The cold muzzle of a gun lodges itself between his shoulder blades and the Englishman hisses, "make a noise and die." Eliot nods, and they pull him out through the door, roughly pulling him down stairs. He follows their lead blindly, trying not to think too much, and almost breathes a sigh of relief when the cool outside air hits his face in a rush.

"Awright," says the American voice. Midwestern, probably Missouri, he thinks, and imagines the likely face that would match up to the blunt inflection. "Prick 'im."

A jolt of alarm makes him tense up, and he thinks son of a – and passes out.

--

He regains consciousness slowly and painfully, his head pounding so hard he can practically hear the blood pumping in his own ears.

"Ah," comes the expected voice. If he could roll his eyes, he would. They always have to be around to flap their mouth as he wakes up. "Finally. Thought you were going to miss all the fun."

He blinks a few times, then opens his eyes fully to confirm what it is he's hearing. He's in the back of a truck, his hands are cuffed, and there's a really, really hot woman staring down at him.

"Eliot Spencer," she says, a thick Boston accent coating her words. "Lord, the things I've heard about you."

Well, this is unexpected.

"You're Vaughn," he replies. "Jesus Christ."

Vaughn laughs, reaching up to casually palm at her breasts. "Ah yes, surprised, are you? God, everyone's the same in this business; one gender-neutral name and a tiny bit of success and you assume it's a man. Though I wouldn't expect much better from the infamous Eliot Spencer. Or is it David Kempsted?" She waves a hand. "Whatever. I guess I shouldn't trust the rumors. Not only did you get yourself kidnapped, but you got married, too." She shakes her head, a simpering expression of regret plastered on her immaculately made-up face. "And aren't you like, starting a revolution nowadays, too? Stealing from the rich, giving to the poor – how droll. None of it sounds anything like the man I've heard so much about."

Eliot takes a moment to absorb all that, and tries to decide whether he and Parker really are that good of actors, or this newly-discovered female Vaughn character really is that stupid. Either way it's an advantage though, so whatever.

"Where's Parker?" he growls, deciding on what he likes to call his 'pissed off pirate with a migraine' approach.

"Around," replies Vaughn vaguely. "If you cooperate I might not kill her."

Eliot sees her left eyelid twitch and inwardly gives a sigh of relief. They don't have her. "If you touch her, I'll rip your throat out."

"Romantic," comes the dry reply.

Eliot tests his restraints subtly and then quickly rules that option out. "What do you want from us?"

Vaughn examines her fingernails. "Money. Duh."

"Money I have," says Eliot. "Let me out of these things and I'll just write you a check."

"Funny," acknowledges Vaughn. "But also pretty stu – " the rest of her sentence is swallowed by metal as the truck they're in swerves violently, sending her sailing into the floor.

Eliot's not in any better of a situation, but he has to laugh at her sprawled in the corner. "Graceful."

"Shut up. Bitch," says Vaughn, and scrambles to the other side of the truck, pounding on the cab window. "What the fuck is happening?"

Any reply she may have received is lost as the truck swerves again. This time, Eliot's ready for it, and moves with the swerve, gaining momentum to aim a solid hit to her shins, sending her sprawling to the ground again. Her chin hits the metal with a wet smack. Eliot moves for a second blow but the truck swerves back again and they both go rolling, slamming into the wall with all the force of a high-speed car chase.

"Motherfucker," grunts Vaughn, and knees him in the abdomen. Eliot winces and rolls her over, wedging a knee beneath her back and flipping her into the floor on her stomach. She struggles, attempting to free herself from his grip, but he leans his weight on his knee, keeping her pinned, and she gives a cry of unmistakable pain.

Fuck, he takes a moment to think. Even handcuffed I'm damn good at this.

"So," he says. "Are we having fun yet?"

"Son of a bitch," spits Vaughn, and then the truck crashes.

--

"Parker's the man!" Hardison holds up a hand for a high five and is subsequently ignored. "That's cool. You're still the man. The man don't have to high five."

"Would you be quiet?" Sophie hisses. "Eliot's still asleep."

"Not anymore he's not," is Eliot's contribution. He opens his eyes and sees Sophie first, then Hardison and Parker sitting on the hotel desk, staring at him expectantly. "What?"

"Parker saved your ass," Hardison says. He must make an expression because Sophie starts to giggle. "No lie."

"What the fuck happened?" He tries to sit up but Sophie pushes him back down.

"Parker fucking went Die Hard on the bad guys' asses, that's what the fuck happened," exclaims Hardison. "She ran the fucking truck off the road in a fucking Prius. A stolen Prius. Fuck yeah." Hardison holds his hand up for another high five, and Parker rolls her eyes and ignores him again.

"You – " Eliot shakes his head and sits up, pushing away Sophie's hands. "Back up. When'd you guys get here?"

"A couple of hours ago – for God's sake, Eliot, cut that out." Sophie brushes his hands away from his head. "You've got seven stitches on your head. It was a miracle they could get the needle into your hard head once, let's not tempt fate."

Eliot sighs, gives up, lays back down. "Okay. Vaughn?"

"Jail," says Parker cheerfully. "Nate's off tying up loose ends at the station."

"Translation," announces Hardison. "Nate is off pretending to be a doctor to make sure Vaughn doesn't escape from the fucking hospital that Parker put her in."

"You know," Sophie says. "I think he gets it."

Eliot definitely feels the effects from whatever it was that happened to his head, and blinks rapidly, trying to hold onto consciousness. "What about Koran and…the other one. The fucking English one."

Sophie looks vaguely insulted, but ignores the slur against her heritage. "They skipped town. But Vaughn's in jail, so it's not like they can keep going with their scam. And we got the Gellars' money back."

"That's it?"

"That part's pretty anti-climactic," Parker adds. "But the car chase, that was very climactic. Is that a word?"

"Very possibly," Hardison reassures her.

Eliot may or may not fall asleep at that point, because he sort of blinks and when he opens his eyes again, it's dark outside and Sophie and Hardison are gone.

"So then I woke up," Parker's saying, as if they're already halfway through a conversation. He grunts and turns his head with effort; she's sitting beside him with an ice pack and a grin. "Welcome back."

"…oh," he says lamely, and her grin widens.

"So like I said," she starts again, "I woke up and you were gone. And I realized what happened, and I started picturing this big rescue, where I'd swoop in and save you from certain death." She lays the pack against his forehead surprisingly gently. "And that's sorta what happened. But I missed out on my dramatic tag line."

"You had a tag line?" he murmurs groggily, not quite awake.

"Yup." She pops the 'p' sound with her lips and Eliot's mind goes immediately to a dirty place. Then she leans in closer, eyes sparkling, and that doesn't help matters. "My name," she whispers. "It's Dylan."

"Dylan," he repeats, thinking about it for a second. "That's not a poet."

"Thomas Dylan," she says triumphantly. "Never said it was a female poet name."

"Trick," he accuses.

"Treat," she replies, and kisses him.

--

(Here's a secret: he thinks it suits her.)

--

"So," says Parker. "I saved your ass."

They're on the plane back to Portland, and he gets headaches on planes so he could be annoyed about this, but he's not. (And honestly, what's the point of pretending anymore – he'll tell you – there isn't one.)

"I'm going to hear about this for a long time," he muses.

"Probably," she replies. "Cuz I did. Save your ass. Big time. So in return you should definitely go down on me again. Like in the shower."

The woman sitting in the seat next to them blushes bright red and buries her face in the safety manual. Eliot sighs with a unique sort of resignation and ignores it. "Whatever."

"Awesome," she says, and steals his peanuts. "I'm tired of being the wife anyway."

--

fin.

You know when you're around a little kid or a really annoying person and they say the same word over and over again so much that it loses all meaning and turns into white noise? Only the kind of white noise that makes you want to give up on the sanity thing and go apeshit on the nearest flower shop? That's sort of what this part of the fic was like.