Infiltrating the school sponsored Bingo night in order to get close to the mark was a great idea. Putting Parker in charge of the money was not.
It wasn't that Parker couldn't handle the money; on the contrary, she was meticulous about taking care of the money. But she didn't like to make change, she didn't want anyone to disrupt her carefully constructed stacks of bills and she wouldn't let anyone else touch her cashbox. That would've been fine if she worked for the church and everything, but there was a job to do.
Nate got pushy, Parker got angry and the end of the evening was a little more explosive than the parishioners at St. Francis were used to. Sophie and Eliot had taken Nate off to soothe his ruffled feathers and Hardison was left with a fuming Parker.
"C'mon, Parker…I'm sure this will cheer you up," Hardison cajoled.
Parker was determined to pout, which Hardison though was unfair because he wasn't the one who pissed her off and he was practically standing on his head trying to improve her mood.
"Here…sit right here…" Hardison pointed to the third step from the bottom of the spiral stairs that led up to Nate's loft. He kept talking as he jogged up the stairs wanting to fill the silence and hoping that Parker stayed put instead of doing one of those startling "turn around and I'm in your face" things that she liked to do.
"You remember that time we needed cash and we were all scrambling around the place looking for money?" Hardison raised his voice as he dove head first into one of Nate's storage closets. "Well, I've been stashing money around the place ever since. A few thousand here…a few thousand there…"
Hardison thought the silence from below sounded more attentive. His hand finally landed on the box he was searching for; he gave it an experimental shake and was satisfied with the sound from inside.
"So I figured if I was keeping money around the place, I'd put a special box aside for you." Hardison was glad that Parker remained downstairs and couldn't see the embarrassed grin on his face. He never imagined the moment playing out like this; in his dreams there had been much more nakedness, but he was willing to sacrifice the dream to improve reality.
Returning to the top of the stairs, Hardison walked down the first few steps while folding back the flaps of the cardboard box in his arm. Gently he tipped the box forward and gave it a shake. Parker's upturned face was no longer petulant, but expectant. And the expression of delight that lit her face when he started showering her with loose dollar bills was better than anything he'd dreamed.
Parker stayed seated on the step, but turned toward Hardison and lifted her hands like a child in a snowstorm trying to catch a flake. Her eyes were wide with enchantment as money drifted all around her. Hardison wished he had a bottomless box, but all too soon it was empty. However, the expression on Parker's face didn't change; she was enraptured by the money all around her.
For the first time since they'd left St. Francis' gym Parker spoke. "I was wondering what that box in the closet was for."
"You knew about it?" Hardison asked, disappointed. He began to walk down the steps toward her.
"You were planning to shower me with money?" It was more of a statement than a question, and it certainly sounded like Parker approved. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me!" In her disconcertingly Parker way, she was completely sincere.
Jumping up and flinging money everywhere, Parker rushed up the stairs to meet Hardison more than halfway. She enthusiastically demonstrated her gratitude with a kiss which was much more satisfying than anything Hardison had ever dreamed up. Satisfying until she disengaged herself and lightly skipped back down the stairs.
"Now I get to COUNT it!"
Hardison sighed and took a seat on the stairs. It was going to be a long night.