Title: In Dreams

Genre: Television

Series: Leverage

Characters: Parker, Eliot Spencer

Spoilers: Season Two

Rating: PG

Summary: Parker and Eliot share a moment.

She doesn't sleep well, not since the fifth foster home and the foster 'brother' with roaming hands. Night heralded worse things than a girl with sticky fingers who learned that locks couldn't keep everything or everyone out.

She's made a point not to fall asleep around the team, they may be quickly becoming her family but the term 'family' has never been one she trusted. It's a word made of rough fingers and bruising strength, of aching hunger in the pit of her stomach and blankets too thin to keep out the night's cold.

That's why it surprises her when she finds herself nodding off on Nathan's couch, the low droning voices of him and Sophie in the background luring her into a false sense of comfort. The job had been exhausting, crawling in vents was nowhere near as easy as she made it seem and required a large amount of concentration and muscle manipulation. At the end of the day there was nothing more she wanted than a hot shower and the safety of her bed (three uncrackable deadbolts on the door, a chair under the knob, and a knife under her pillow).

There was something for it, though, sitting Indian-style on the couch between Hardison and Eliot, both silent as they battled it out on Hardison's new game system, with Nate and Sophie in the kitchen working out their sexual frustration with barbed conversation full of innuendo. It was soothing to be back in their company. She'd spent those long six months alone, the same way she'd spent most of her adult life, but for the first time it hadn't been a comfortable alone. It'd been a lonely alone.

The fateful meeting in the lobby of Sophie's play had brought them all back into each other's orbit and they'd yet to spin wildly apart again; something for which Parker was grateful. She needed the presence of these four, they made her feel normal when she was just being herself. She didn't have to pretend with them, not most of the time. She had shadows though, ones she hid behind reckless and dangerous acts. With their eyes wide with disbelief and awe they didn't see the panic that fluttered at the corners of her eyes even as she laughed. It was a clenching in her stomach, though, a hitch in her breath; she couldn't let them see it.

There, that night, among friends, and dangerously (recklessly) comfortable, Parker let her eyes drift closed and her mind wander.

She was curled up tightly, her long thin body knotted together so that despite being between Hardison and Eliot no part of her touched either. Her hair was pulled back, her mouth pouting in dreams, as her eyes moved behind the lids too frantically to be peaceful. Neither of the guys on the couch with her noticed, too caught up in their game.

She wasn't entirely asleep, still awake enough to hear the sounds of the others but not enough to comprehend them. Nate and Sophie continued to argue, this time centering around whether to order in dinner or to prod the rest of the team into going out (which inevitably led to the argument over which nationality of food they should imbibe, Chinese vs. Thai). Eliot and Hardison resolved their battle of wills, with Hardison's technical prowess winning out as usual.

Eliot cut short Hardison's yell of glee with a sharp word, though, and gestured to Parker's prone body. "Go get a blanket from the closet."

"Why do I have to go-"

"Now, Hardison." That was one of the fantastic things about Eliot, he didn't need to raise his voice to force people to do things. Hardison sputtered but still went and got the blanket, handing it to Eliot before joining Nate and Sophie's conversation about dinner.

Eliot wasn't naturally a caring man, he wasn't used to showing his affection in a physical way. He didn't hold hands, didn't casually fix a woman's hair; he narrowed his physical contact to violence and sex. If he was the poorer character-wise for it, well, no one had told him.

He shook the blanket open and draped it across her with an ease of movement that he didn't really feel. As he smoothed the blanket, making sure she was completely covered, he missed the telltale slick slid of metal on leather.

Parker pressed the small dagger, expertly hidden in a wrist sheath beneath the long sleeves she favored most of the time (a waist or thigh holder when long sleeves weren't allowed), against one of the spaces between Eliot's ribs and fought off the haze of sleep. For too many precious seconds she wasn't there, in Nate's living room, with her friends around her. She wasn't there, but somehow Eliot knew.

His fingers of his hand were completely steady as they landed featherlight on her shoulder. Even through the thin cloth of her shirt he was alarmingly warm. Slowly, so as not to alarm her, his fingers moved down her arm, burning a path of calm that went deeper into her body than just her arm. She was small enough that his larger hand wrapped around her upper arm easily, but he didn't squeeze or even exert enough pressure to be more than a ghost of a touch.

By the time his fingers wrapped gently around her wrist (thin and alarmingly fragile feeling), Parker was completely awake and very aware of just what had occurred. Eliot's eyes were understanding as he studied her face, watching for any movement to signal her intentions as he moved the sharp blade away from sensitive flesh.

With a twist of her fingers the blade slid back into its home and the moment was over.

It was an insight that Eliot wouldn't forget, however.

"I'm feeling like Italian," Eliot volunteered to the argument that had continued unabated in the kitchen. He eased away from Parker a few inches, enough for her to unfold her body without risking touching him. She pulled the blanket tighter around her and refused to look at him.

"I want cereal," Parker stated. It was clear that she didn't want to talk about it, didn't want to explain the hidden weapons on her body or the ease with which she used them. It was just as well, he was the one person she didn't have to explain it to.

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