Five Familial Cliches

Or, four times Nate unconsciously spoke out of the Dad Handbook and one time that turnabout was fair play.

Rating: PG

Spoilers: None to speak of

Beta: auroradream

Disclaimer: I don't own this show. If it were mine...well, it'd be pretty much the same, actually.

Notes: I discovered this show all of a week ago, and I've been marathoning it. Any comments would be welcomed and gloated over!

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"Oh, I see how it is. I'm s'posed to just do y'all's bidding and keep my mouth shut."

"Yes," Eliot snarled quietly. "When we're invading a damn citadel, you bet your ass."

"Okay, you know what that is, that's indentured servitude, right, it's archaic and discriminatory and it's frelling un-American." He paused a moment to cram several gummy frogs in his mouth and continued indignantly, "Ish no' coo', cauth you-"

Nate paused in setting the shaped charges long enough to tap his earbud, and as they all winced at the burst of static he said firmly, "Don't speak with your mouth full."

"...oh." Hardison swallowed his mouthful audibly. "Uh, my bad."

For several minutes at least they had blessed silence.

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"Okay, Parker, you get those documents; Hardison, keep digging until she's in then back her up."

"You got it."

Nathan waited until Parker was off then turned to the only team member yet unassigned. "Eliot."

"Yeah," the hitter said gruffly.

"Go get some sleep."

"What the hell?" He started indignantly out of the couch, losing the first part of the argument by stumbling a very little as he gained his feet. He had to realize that he'd given away his weariness, but with characteristic stubbornness he carried on. "Parker could use some backup, Nate, or at least I could start in on the fourth location. The last thing we need-"

"-is for you to pass out in the middle of the finale," Nate said pointedly. "You need sleep, you need more than ninety minutes, and now is as good a time as any."

Eliot scowled intimidatingly. "I'm not tired."

Nate blinked placidly back at him, unintimidated. "I don't care if you don't feel tired, you need to sleep, and you will do it now."

There was one of those brief confrontations where Eliot tried to stare their mastermind down while he smiled blandly back; then, muttering dark curses in what was either a foreign language or his most impenetrable southern accent, the shorter man stalked off to one of the guest rooms to get the ordered rest. When Nate turned around, it was to an unashamedly impressed stare from Hardison. "What?" he asked easily.

"Man, I am glad you're not interested in world domination, 'cause, damn."

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"No, Parker."

She made one of her little frustrated noises, and the end of her ponytail brushed across his face. "Why not?"

"Because you don't need it. We're the good guys, remember?" His typing wasn't up to Hardison's level or even Sophie's, but he was making good progress.

"But I really want it. Why shouldn't I?" She shifted her grip on the beam, lowering herself a little closer to where he sat in the chair. He frowned a little as he brushed her hair aside, but declined to allow himself to be provoked.

"Because it's too risky. You might give us away, and we're running this close to the wire as it is."

"But-" she started, and he turned sideways and reached up to grab her shoulders and rotate them so that they were face-to-upside-down-face.

"Because I said so," he finished in tones of rapidly evaporating patience. "That's why."

Muttering at the unfairness of it all, she pulled herself up to sulk in the ceiling.

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Nate had admittedly been in worse holding cells, and with worse cell mates. That being said...

"If Hardison had been paying attention," Parker said hotly, and both boys bristled and looked about ready to start up again when Nate's patience ended.

"All right, that's enough! You all need to stop bickering and settle down."

"Parker started it," Eliot said, with a dark glance at the thief; she opened her mouth to protest, but the team leader cut her off.

"I don't care who started it, I'm damn well finishing it!" They all subsided at his glare, looking unhappy, and Nate pressed his palms against his eyes and wished for something alcoholic. "Any time now, Soph."

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They were all looking at him. Uneasily, Nate settled into the chair so they at least weren't looking UP at him, but their eyes just followed him.

Damn, even Eliot looked pleading, in typically glowering fashion.

"Pleeeeease?" Parker started.

"You would have our undying gratitude," Hardison assured him. "Forever. Eternal. Unchanging."

"Pleeeeeease?" Parker repeated.

"Sophie said it was okay," Eliot pointed out.

"Pleeeee-" the boys apparently realized that her tone wasn't helping The Cause, so they simultaneously clapped a hand over her mouth. Parker, undaunted, worked on pouring even more liquid pleading into her puppy eyes.

Nathan Ford is a stubborn man, but he knows when he's beat. "Fine!" There was a flurry of mutual congratulations. "But just this once," he attempted.

"Oh, absolutely," Hardison assured him in a totally unconvincing tone as there was a scramble for coats and lock-picks and duct tape and fishing line. Sophie, entering the room just in time to miss the whole 'discussion' (likely on purpose, dammit) stepped smoothly away from the stampede for the door.

"Is there a fire?"

Nate sighed, and much as he would like to look aggrieved he felt a smile tug up the corner of his mouth. "Apparently we're gonna go steal a circus train."

Sophie tsk'd him teasingly. "Big bad criminal mastermind. You know they've all got you wrapped-"

"Shut up," he said. It would have been more convincing if he wasn't gathering up Hardison's forgotten laptop and carefully packing it away.