Title: Two for the Road

Summary: Eliot thinks it would be safer if they split up, but he can't bring himself to say it out loud. Eliot/Parker

Rating: R

Disclaimer: I don't own "Leverage." Clearly.

It only takes minutes for everything to fall apart.

Nate and Sophie are working the mark, offering an irresistible bribe in a deserted warehouse with Hardison across the street in his van, ready to back them up as needed.

Eliot and Parker are in the mark's office across town, swiping evidence of the other numerous bribes he'd taken to cover up all manner of crimes. Dustin Sullivan is known as a fixer, but this time he'd fixed the wrong case.

A young girl had been killed in a hit-and-run, and the wife of an up-and-coming politician had been behind the wheel. The girl was a nobody, her family solidly middle class, and Sullivan made the whole thing go away.

Fortunately, like all paranoid criminals, Sullivan was known to keep detailed records of who he had helped, and how, squirreled away in his expensive wall safe. Eliot is watching Parker fondle the safe and half-listening as Sophie brilliantly reels Sullivan in.

"He's about to take the bait, Parker, hurry up," he snaps.

"Do you want to do this?" she asks crankily. "Then be quiet and let me —"

Her frown changes to a brilliant smile, and she turns the handle on the safe with a small flourish. She pulls out a stack of cash, holding it lovingly to her chest, before unearthing something small from the safe's depths.

"Flash drive," she says. "Hardison can —"

She freezes as, over the comms, Sophie lets out a horrified gasp. A moment later, there's a strangled "No!" from Nate, then nothing.

Just silence, until the deafening sound of an explosion.

He drives as fast as his truck and the traffic will allow, but by the time they get to the warehouse, it's engulfed in flame and swarming with firefighters who won't let them near the building.

Parker leaves his side almost immediately, running for the van. Eliot trails more slowly. Hardison hasn't been answering on comms or his cell phone, and Eliot is afraid of what they might find in the van.

"Parker, hold up," he calls, but she's at the van, yanking the door open before he can stop her.

The van is empty, the computer still spinning up data on Sullivan, a bottle of that orange crap Hardison loves spilled on the floor.

"He must have gone in after them," Eliot says, finally.

Parker doesn't answer.

They collect Hardison's laptop and stand outside for over an hour, watching the firefighters' hopeless battle. Eliot hears one of them say they could stop the fire from spreading, and that's the best they can hope for.

He has to hold himself back when, a half-hour in, Sullivan himself shows up. The businessman gives a statement to the press, looking unruffled yet suitably concerned, before hopping into the back of a Mercedes and taking off.

Eliot wonders if he just imagined a slight smirk on the man's face when he glanced their way. He considers leaving, but the slim possibility of finding survivors keeps him still.

At an hour and a half, the uneasiness he feels blooms into full-blown paranoia, and he can damn well feel someone watching them.

"Come on, Parker," he says. She doesn't speak but follows along like a child.

It's a gamble to go back to the office, but he does it anyway. They both keep "go bags" there in case of emergency, and all of Hardison's computer equipment is there. The evidence against Sullivan was going to get out, despite the murders he'd committed to keep it hidden.

Sullivan may have killed his crew, but Eliot would be damned if he'd get away clean.

And, truth be told, he is looking for a fight. He wouldn't mind at all if Sullivan sent a few guys after them, especially if he's fighting on home turf.

But the office is empty when they get there.

As Parker wanders aimlessly, he gets to work, copying the flash drive. Using one of Hardison's dummy accounts — James T. Kirk — he e-mails the contents to every law enforcement agency and media outlet he can find. As he works, he almost hears Hardison's voice in his head, not-so-patiently explaining how a computer really works.

That task done, he looks around for Parker. She's running her fingers over another one of Hardison's computers and staring into space, so he's pretty sure she hasn't even considered their options yet. As he watches, she picks up a small replica of the Enterprise that Hardison had been playing around with the night before.

Eliot thinks it would be safer if they split up, but he can't bring himself to say it out loud.

He feels responsible for her, a feeling that might have pissed him off in the past but just seems natural now. The team was his family, and now she's all that's left.

"Get your stuff," he says gruffly. "We gotta go. Now."

She stares at him for a moment before nodding. Five minutes later, she meets him at the front door with one bag stuffed full of God-knows-what.

Neither one of them looks back.

He drives with no particular destination in mind. After about an hour of driving aimlessly, he feels pretty certain that they're not being followed. He decides to stay in Boston for now; if Sullivan gets busted, he wants to know it.

If not … Eliot glances at Parker, who's leaning against the passenger-side window. If the cops don't go after Sullivan, Eliot will.

They stay the night at a crappy motel. He thinks he hears Parker crying in the next room but can't make himself go over there. He sheds a few tears of his own when he takes a shower, the evidence of his emotion washing down the drain with the water.

Two days and two more crappy motels later, the news of businessman Dustin Sullivan's arrest is all over the news. Eliot leans against the headboard of the bed and takes a sip of beer, watching as they show Sullivan's perp walk on a loop, the reporter talking about a multi-agency investigation triggered by an anonymous source. Questions are also being raised, she says, about an explosion this week at a warehouse police have tied to Sullivan.

He wants to feel satisfaction but finds himself disappointed that he didn't have to handle this in a more personal way.

"It's not enough," Parker says, and he barely manages to not spill his beer at the sound of her voice. She's stretched out on the other bed, glaring at the TV.

He doesn't even ask how she got into his room. It is Parker, after all.

"You shouldn't have sent them the files," she says. "We should have killed him instead."

He sighs. The truth is, he feels the same. But he feels a responsibility to his mentor to try and steer Parker in the right direction. "That's not what Nate would have done," he points out.

"Yeah, well," she says grimly, "Nate's dead, isn't he?"

Eliot doesn't even try to argue.