A/N: Good lord there's something wrong with me. No one should be posting this many fics, this often, about one character in any one fandom. lol. I seriously need help or my own copy of the S1 and 2 dvds...lol. Okay. so here's my newest venture. I'm going to try very hard to keep updates coming with my usual frequency since I have the story outlined, but it's not completely written yet so...yeah, we'll see. I may need lots of prompting (hitn hint, lol!) So, here it is, Enjoy. -pj


The forest was calm and quiet as the morning sun broke the horizon. Small birds sang melodious in the trees and ground animals scurried about in the soft earth, enjoying the few hours of coolness until the sun warmed up the air and burned off the dew.

Somewhere below, however, the peace was about to be disturbed.

"Ugh, Eliot," Parker called out, sounding suspiciously close to whining, "why do we have to start so early." She kicked at a fallen log to the right of the trail out of spite and glared at the birds chirping happily in the trees.

Eliot snorted, readjusting his backpack full of supplies slightly, never breaking his stride, "it's not early Parker. It's almost eight."

"Whoa, what?"

He heard her footsteps stop and turned to face her. She had a backpack similar to his own, holding food and water and whatever he saw fit to pack for her. Her hair was up in a haphazard ponytail and her face sans makeup, but somehow still glowing. She wore a hooded sweatshirt to keep off the morning chill, though the sentiment was negated by her cargo short shorts, ankle socks and hiking boots.

"You woke me up before eight am?" She asked incredulously, clearly contemplating doing him harm.

Eliot tilted his head with a teasing grin, "what? you've gotten up earlier."

"Yeah for a job!" she exclaimed, closing the distance between them with a huff, "not for a day-long hike through the woods with bugs and animals and dirt."

"Or for me," he said, disarming her anger with a single look and bringing his mouth to within a breath of hers.

Parker remained stubborn, "but not for a hike," she repeated, though with a bit less ferver than before. "Ever heard of beauty sleep?"

Eliot grinned, dropping a kiss onto her stubbornly pouted lips, "ya' don't need it."

Parker rolled her eyes, but couldn't hide a small, flattered smile.

Eliot turned to continue on the way but this time grasped her hand so he was walking beside her instead of out in front. This seemed to lift Parker's spirits a bit and she started jabbering on about her favorite lift, a rare Degas from the home of a private collector in Rome.

Eliot nodded and 'hum'ed when the conversation called for it, but didn't mind just letting her talk. He wasn't big on conversation and Parker could keep one up for the both of them, which suited him just fine.

They were opposites in many ways. He quiet, she loud. He calm, she frenetic. He liked to plan ahead, she lived to be spontaneous. He liked both feet planted firmly on the ground thankyouverymuch and she was happiest flying through the air on a wire.

But in other ways, perhaps the most important ways, they were the same. Both had their own warped sense of honor, a code they did not break. Both were protective and loyal and gave their trust slowly.

They both craved human contact, though for reasons neither of them were willing to explore just yet. And had both spent their lives finding it through sex with nameless, faceless partners. And it had started out that way between them too, with Parker asking with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer after one of their training sessions if Eliot wanted to share the shower this time. Eliot had sputtered, stared, regained his footing and followed her wordlessly. They went on hot and heavy like that for a few weeks before things started to change and grow into something more which was, ironically, less. Their fingers brushed when they walked alongside, an almost hidden smile when Eliot teased Hardison, a look from across the room when he wanted to assure her he was alright.

Suddenly it wasn't about he sex anymore. It was about them.

They were eachother's counter balance.

Eliot smiled to himself. It had taken him a long time to get to a place where he was okay with being so intertwined with another person.

And no one was more surprised than he that that person ended up being Parker.

"And then my line snagged and I couldn't believe it because these dogs were just-"

"Parker stop."

Parker, who had been bouncing with the exuberance of telling her story and twisting her head this way and that to take in the scenery frowned up at him and his interruption.


Eliot didn't answer, but released her hand, took her shoulders, and pointed her in the direction he was looking.

"Oh my-" she whispered.

The scene before them was taken straight from a painting.

A clear, glassy lake stretched out in front of them framed by low hanging trees that swayed lazily in the spring breeze. Birds sang a chorus over head, every now and then diving from the branches to chase one another, skimming across the water and shooting back up into the air in a dazzling gymnastics routine that Parker envied. On the opposite shore a doe and her baby cautiously broke the treeline to approaching to the water for a drink.

Parker felt Eliot rest his chin on her shoulder and moved her hands to his where he'd clasped them around her, squeezing them tightly in expression of her excitement, not wanting to disturb the serene scene by shouting.

She glanced over to find Eliot smiling and it made her smile too. It was his real smile. Not his teasing smile, or his 'you're an idiot' smile or even his 'this is actually gonna work!' smile. It was the one that said he was relaxed and content.

The smile he reserved especially for her.

She squeezed his hand again and looked around.

"Oh, El look," she managed to whisper but only barely and he turned to see her pointing up into the Birch tree beside them.

"A birds' nest," she murmured. Before he knew what was happening she had removed her backpack and dropped it into the dirt beside him with a thud, which startled the deer who took off into the woods.

"What are you doing, Parker?"

"I wanna see."

"Parker don't," he stepped toward her but she'd already pulled up far enough into the tree to be out of his reach, "that nest is like 30 feet in the air and if you touch 'em their mama won't come back."

"I'm not gonna touch 'em," she said, sounding as if it were even a ridiculous idea for him to express, "I like birds."

"Yeah, I know you do Darlin'," he muttered. She'd told him once, whispered it across darkness and wrinkled bed sheets, about how she used to wish she was a bird so she could just up and fly away whenever she wanted. The sound of wistful childhood yearning and the undertone of darkness in her words had set his stomach in knots that night, just like her monkey-like tree climbing was doing to him right now.

"If you slip and fall into the lake I'm not comin' in after ya'. It's cold."

Parker paused and looked down at him, nearly twenty feet below, and raised an eyebrow, "and if I fall toward the ground?"

He didn't hesitate, "I'll catch you."

He was smiling, almost teasing, but she had no doubt he would keep his word.

Not that it mattered. She didn't fall. Ever.

Parker had almost reached the nest and was shimmying out onto one of the outer lying branches when Eliot suddenly got a cold chill. He dropped his gaze immediately and frowned, flicking his eyes to the surrounding trees. He would have dismissed it as simple paranoia, which he'd been known to suffer from, from time to time, except he then saw a bunch of birds suddenly escape a treetop about ten meters behind them and his hackles rose, his senses going to full alert.

Shrugging off his pack and slipping a knife from his boot, Eliot looked up into the tree. Parker had made it to the nest and was talking quietly, he assumed to the unhatched eggs.

"Parker," he hissed. She looked down, hearing the seriousness in his tone, "stay put."

She frowned, about to ask him where he was going, but he'd already disappeared into the trees off to the right from where they'd entered the small clearing. She saw he'd pushed both his backpack and hers behind a bush so as not to be seen and found her heart rate speeding up at his strange behavior.

Only not strange behavior.

She had seen him like this many times before, usually right before a job went South. Way South.


END - ::smiling:: Oh yeah. I went there. ::still smiling::