CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT

The Domestication

"I changed my mind."

"No, Parker. No. We're here, and you're going to do this," Eliot tells her firmly, giving her a little encouraging nudge – okay maybe a push – forwards, towards Sophie's door. Parker fidgets uncomfortably.

"What if I hit her?"

"Hardison will stop you."

"What? Me? Why me?!" Hardison exclaims, looking at Eliot like he must be crazy for ever suggesting such nonsense. Eliot just gives him a look and points to Parker, demanding. Hardison flips him off then points to him. Eliot slaps his hand away.

Parker's just standing there though, at the door, not doing anything. Eliot sighs and rings the doorbell for her, since she seems incapable. Parker fidgets some more, then when she hears the door click as it's unlocked, she slips back behind Hardison and Eliot, deciding to… hide.

Great. He can feel her try to slip away, and he grabs her wrist. She ain't going anywhere.

Sophie opens the door, looking at the two men, since she can't see Parker behind them. "Oh… hi," she says, surprised.

"Parker needed to see you," Eliot says, and quite literally pulls Parker out from behind him and places her in front of Sophie. Parker grumbles under her breath, forcing her grip away from Eliot's grasp. She doesn't look at Sophie.

"Oh… Parker," Sophie says, like she's surprised that she'd ever see her again. "I didn't think you'd… Um, come… come on in," she says, and Eliot can hear the worry in her voice. When Sophie moves though, Parker doesn't, so Eliot has to give her a push forward. Again. Damn. He follows her in there, but then realizes Hardison's not behind him.

"HARDISON!" he growls. He didn't want to have to deal with this with two people. Hardison scurries in as if his Nana just called him. There, that's better. Least for once they're kind of listening to him.

Sophie closes the door behind them, and when she turns, she's staring at Parker. "So, you—"

"Eliot says I need to let you apologize," she states flatly, arms across her chest. "So tell me you're sorry for being a stupid bitch so I can go."

"Parker!" Both Eliot and Hardison exclaim.

"No, I deserved that," Sophie says softly, but she's still looking at Parker. She approaches Parker carefully, as if she's some kind of bomb. "I am sorry, Parker. I know you don't believe me, but I am. I thought I was protecting you, but I went about it the wrong way and I violated your privacy, and for that I am really, really sorry." She pauses, turning to Hardison. "And the same goes to you, I am truly sorry to all of you."

Parker eyes her cautiously, like she doesn't know if she can trust her. "Say you were a bitch."

"Parker!" Eliot protests. She is not being helpful in any way shape or—

"I was a bitch, okay? A huge bitch. I'm sorry," Sophie says. Eliot looks at Sophie weird, then at Parker. How did Parker have this magical little ability to make anyone do whatever she wanted? It's not cool.

Parker narrows her eyes, studying her. Finally she says, "Fine. You're sort of forgiven. But if you do it again I will scratch your eyes out."

"Fair enough," Sophie says, and tries to give her a little smile. Parker just huffs a little.

"Parker…" Eliot prods. It was her turn now.

Parker puffs out her cheeks a little, crosses her eyes, and then rolls them before saying monotonically, "I'm sorry I tried to attack you. And for swearing at you and… all of that."

"It's fine."

Good. See? That wasn't so hard.

"Now hug," Eliot dictates. Both of them look at him like he had gone insane. "Hey, I'm just trying to help, here."

"Group hug!" Hardison exclaims, obviously excited by the prospect. But then again, this is the man that always wanted to 'hug it out.' Jeez. He is not participating in a—

But then he's shoved in between him and Sophie as he pulls Parker in and dictates this little squeezing fest that absolutely everyone was uncomfortable with besides him. He's gonna smack him in the back of the head later for this.

"Okay, enough, I can't breathe!" Parker says in a strangled voice, swatting at Hardison. When they release, Parker lets out an overdramatic gasp of air.

Things were more or less good with the team after that. Nate decided he would like to pretend that three of his thieves aren't fucking each other though, and everytime any one of them would be all over another, he'd clear his throat loudly and ask about the weather. Apparently that was his code for "No PDA in front of me." But those terms were acceptable, slightly. Only cause the private displays of affection trumped the public ones any damn day.

The grocery store trip was a nightmare, but they got through it… somehow. Hardison tried to slip off, slightly embarrassed by Parker's erratic skipping in her fluffy dress (Eliot had no idea why she even owned the thing in the first place, and probably didn't want to know), so Eliot decided to hold his hand in a death grip to keep him close and embarrass him further by calling him sweetie and acting flamboyant. It wasn't in a store that anyone was gonna recognize him anyway, and the look on Hardison's face? Priceless.

After they're little sleepover was over, they maybe slept separately for one day out of the week. They seemed to always end up over each other's houses one way or another, and while Eliot is usually keen on space, he enjoyed being with both of them so much that he found space was kind of overrated.

Sex seemed to take over their lives for a good month. Which, Eliot wasn't complaining, but it did kind of interfere with work. They maybe might have screwed up running a background check on that mark properly, leaving them in a disastrous mess when they realized that he was part of the Albanian mob at the very worst moment, all because when Hardison has been trying to research, Eliot's mouth had been wrapped around his dick.

He blames Parker though. Just cause she's easy to blame.

But the sex did end up becoming a normal thing rather than an all-the-freaking-time thing after awhile, once the new, fresh aspect of their relationship had passed. They has all settled into something comfortable, and it was… nice.

Fuckin' weird still. Being with two people. But nice none the less.

The problem with this little relationship was that they all kind of rubbed off on each other. Eliot was teaching them both how to fight, which was kind of a disaster in Hardison's case but a win in Parker's. They all know how to pick a whole variety of locks because of Parker. And Hardison? Well, you would think he would teach them how to hack. Instead…

"Give me some gold," Parker tells Hardison as she stares at her computer screen. "My gear is shit. Completely impractical too. In reality no one would be able to move well enough to dodge in this. I should have been a warlock or something, they at least get cloth. I could move better. And have superpowers." A pause. "Gimme gold."

"What are you gonna give me for it?" Hardison asks, this dirty little smirk on his face.

"Hardison, you are not gonna fuckin' use Parker like hooker. Especially for WoW gold. And are you gonna run me through the Stockades or do I gotta kick your ass? Seriously. It's been like a fuckin' hour," Eliot complains, looking up from his own computer to his boyfriend.

"Like your level 26 Warrior could even begin to comprehend kicking my level 80 Druid's ass. Puh-lease," Hardison mocks, laughing a bit. Eliot just narrows his eyes.

"Ain't talkin' about in-game, geek boy."

That makes Hardison stop laughing and his eyes flicker up to Eliot. He makes a face. "I'm busy, dude. Use the dungeon finder."

"Last time I did that I got kicked out of the fuckin' group! Bunch of assholes. Not my fuckin' fault they were making stupid tactical moves. This is why I should always be the damn leader. When other people do it they make half-assed decisions and wind up getting our healer maimed."

Hardison snorts. "As a tank, aren't you the one who's supposed to not get the healer killed?"

"You know what? Shut up, Hardison. If people fuckin' listened to me, we would have taken that mob from the side instead of head on cause that just attracted a second one. Stupid ass move. If any of these geeks knew anything about—"

"I'll play with you, Eliot," Parker interrupts, looking up at him. But Eliot doesn't like that idea.

"You don't listen to direction either."

"So? I'm a high enough level that I can get you through it and you can just follow."

"Yeah, about that, do you not sleep? How the hell have you gotten to level 42 already?" Eliot asks, looking at her like she must be insane. Well, okay, that part was already known, but seriously.

Parker blinks. "By killing things," she states. Then a smile creeps across her face. "It's fun."

"Yeah, yeah. Fine, you can run me through, I just need the damn achievement," Eliot grumbles as he turns back to his computer. There's silence a little while as they all played, until Hardison yells out:

"WHAT THE FUCK!"

"What?" Parker asks, looking up.

"Eliot, why the hell did you leave the guild?!"

Eliot doesn't look up at him; he just continues kicking the shit out of a Defias Captive. "Think I'll make my own."

"Pfft, what? Eliot, you need nine other people to start a guild, and you know only me and Parker. You piss off every other player. And I ain't leaving my own guild. And Parker isn't leaving mine either. Right, Parker?"

Parker doesn't answer.

"Parker!"

"What?" she says, annoyed. "I don't want to get in the middle, I'm busy. And Eliot, keep up."

"I'm like half your fuckin' level, slow the hell down," Eliot complains as he loots another corpse. "And I can start a guild if I fuckin' feel like it."

"Eliot, what's your problem?"

"You're a lying sack, that's my problem," Eliot grumbles, then yells. "PARKER! Will you let me fuckin' loot for shits sake?! You might not need this crap but I do. Just wait a fucking second."

Parker sighs in annoyance and taps her laptop impatiently.

"You're mad cause I promised to run you through an instance and didn't? Seriously?" Hardison asks, looking at Eliot like he's sprouted an extra freaking head.

"No."

Yes.

"Eliot, I was just trying to—"

"Don't care."

"Eliot…"

"Eliot, I killed Bazil. Come get his head," Parker interrupts. But Eliot doesn't come over in the game; instead he stops and looks up at Hardison, annoyance written all over his face.

"You're the one who wanted us to play with you so badly, and you don't even fuckin' play with us. What the hell is that?"

"Baby…" Hardison starts, closing his laptop, clearly not wanting to fight over World of Warcraft and comes over to him. "I'm sorry, I thought I'd just wait till you guys got to 80. I mean my alts are still higher level than ya'lls…"

"Don't call me baby," Eliot snarls. He was not going to be domesticated in that way. Even though he may like being called baby. Only a little.

"Boo boo kitty fuck?" Hardison revises, coming over to sit next to Eliot on the bed. Boo boo... what now?

"You've got to have brain damage," Eliot mutters, still annoyed. But Hardison is giving him puppy dog eyes and rubbing on his leg and… yup, okay now kissing his neck. God damnit. He sighs in defeat.

"I hope they all rez and you die," Parker snaps at Eliot, annoyed at waiting for him any longer. Damnit. This game…

"Sorry," Eliot says, pushing Hardison off him gently, but not before crashing his lips to his just cause… hell, just cause. Parker clicks her tongue in annoyance. "Alright, alright, damn." Eliot turns back to his game and finishes the dungeon, but he can tell Parker's still annoyed at him a bit. After they were done, be closes his laptop and looks at her. "Come here."

"Nope."

"Parker."

"I was trying to help you."

"I know you were."

"And you just ignored me."

"I'm sorry."

Parker makes a face, narrowing her eyes at him. Studying. "Say you're an asshole."

Jeez.

Hardison chuckles from over in his little corner, laptop back on. Eliot flips him off, but isn't sure if he's even paying attention. But he sighs and says, "I'm an asshole. Okay?" Damn her, why can she make everyone do this? But it makes her smile, it lights up her whole damn face and Eliot forgets about it cause she just looks so beautiful when she smiles.

She bounds up to him, pouncing on him. He lets out an "Oof!" as she connects with him, making the two fall back against the bed. She giggles and her face is nuzzled into his heck and he has the fleeting theory that she might be a bit bipolar.

Whatever.

"We should get a dog," Parker tells him as she wraps and arm around his torso and snuggles into him. He runs his fingers through her hair.

"Dunno about us," he replies. "You can get a dog."

"No, I want all of us to get a dog. Together."

"And what? Keep moving it between all three of our houses?" Eliot asks, like that's a stupid idea. Cause it is.

"No," Parker says, like he's the one being stupid. "We'd all live together with the dog."

That makes Eliot freeze. Apparently Hardison too because he could no longer hear the clicking of the keyboard anymore. He looks over at him, a bit helplessly. What was he supposed to say to that? But Hardison apparently didn't have an answer to that either because he's silent.

Parker looks back and forth at the two men. "Yes? No? …Why are we quiet?"

"We, uh…" Hardison starts, blinking a little.

"We've only been dating three months, Parker," Eliot says, just to say, hell, something.

"Uh huh," Parker says, clearly not getting it.

"So we should probably wait a little bit until we all live together," Eliot tells her, just trying to make her get it in the nicest way possible without having her throw a fit.

But she did throw a fit.

Eliot blames that for now sharing his house with two other people. Parker yelled and said that they were always together anyway and that they were just evil dog and happiness haters and somehow two days later there were moving boxes littered all over his house. He might blame Hardison a little for not backing him up too. But. Fuck. Hell. Whatever. They were here now. Living with him. And…

Basically it was all the same. So he really didn't have much reason to bitch.

They did get a dog. A little yappy thing that Parker picked out and named "Ruffles McRuffster". Eliot calls it "Ruff" for short. Hardison calls it "Mickey." Parker disapproves of anything but the dog's full name, and corrects them each time they try to call it anything else.

It was all so screwed up. Domestic but so unorthodox. Insane but so content. Eliot was never one for commitment; it never ended well because of his job. But they all knew his job, his lifestyle, they all had it too and somehow it just made it easier. It made it work.

And for the first time in ten years, Eliot was really happy.

THE END