Disclaimer: I own nothing.:)
Started as a One Shot-let me know what you think and I may continue? :)
"Whatcha doing." Parker appeared behind his shoulder like a blonde Jack in the Box and Eliot clenched his teeth as he turned, muscles taut beneath his shirt.
"Parker, what is it that I do?"
"Read, cook, fish, drink, sing-" She counted the list off on her fingers and it took him a second to quash his surprise at her reply.
"For the team Parker. What I do for the team."
"Oh. Well mostly hit people. Hard." She demonstrated like she was Rocky, celebrating enthusiastically over an imaginary knock-out. Eliot simply watched her as she let it all out. The girl was overflowing with enough energy to power a small country. Hardison could probably prove it with some hi-tec programme too.
"Just like that, that's right." He smiled his most genial smile at her, noting the suspicion it prompted and leant in, voice low. She bent her head in response, eager to hear something secretive. Because she was Parker and curious was her middle name. "Despite this understanding Parker, you still insist on creeping up on me like a stealth bomber at every opportunity, and it is only because I am so very good at what I do Parker, that I do not-" he copied her boxing moves as her eyes followed his hands, mesmerised-"and hurt you. So for the three thousandth time, don't sneak up on me."
She nodded, but her expression showed no sign whatsoever of listening. She looked up at him through her fringe, and he slipped his now closed cell into his pocket.
"So whatcha doing?" She grinned at him, utterly unfazed by his avoidance technique. He remembered he could walk away, and promptly turned to do so.
"None of your business Parker. Have a great weekend." He almost added, with Hardison, but didn't. The late night visits had stopped between them, as Eliot had wanted, but Parker remained attentive during office hours and on jobs. Nothing inappropriate by Parker standards, which honestly was a wide net, but still, he found himself censoring his own behaviour whenever H was around, and the act was tiring. The team was the team. Of-course nothing had been said to make Eliot think he should do those things, but as a guy, and as H's friend, he did it anyway. It had shocked him to realise that his protective instincts ran beyond physical hurts for the team. His instincts told him to ease off on the teasing and the tactile with Parker, and it worried him that it was proving quite so difficult. Who knew?
"Won't you be around?" Her disappointment was flattering, but a huge red flag too.
"Whatever job you got going," he lowered his tone in case Nate or Sophie heard from the breakfast bar,"if you need a hitter, reschedule. I'm gone fishin' this weekend." Plus he was pretty certain Hardison had other plans for the thief that did not include theft.
She pouted and then narrowed her eyes at him as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"Fishin' is not tragic, it's spiritually soothing, so back off."
"Not the fishing part. The "if I'm wanted then it must be for work" part."
Eliot blinked, genuinely speechless for a second. He puzzled over her words and she looked quizzically back. For a minute that seemed slower than others, they cocked their heads and examined each other, weighing up the relative oddness in the other like they always did.
"Seriously, y'all look like Alien V Predator when you do that weird head tilt at each-other. Freaks me the frog out." Hardison broke the moment as he strolled by, throwing an arm about Parker's shoulder as he did so. Eliot hid his grin at the gesture, feeling bad for laughing, it was just that Hardison was a text book case when it came to women, and by extension, dealing with other men around women. His chest could have been pumped full of helium it had been so puffed out the last few days. It did confirm to Eliot that his distancing from Parker had been the right call though, and that made him feel less of a dick. Parker may not understand it, but he was still protecting her in his own way.
"And on that note, I'm outta here." Raising a hand to his head in mock salute, he span on his heel and called a see ya later to Nate and Sophie who were having yet another pointless row when they could have been upstairs working their issues out privately. Honestly, Eliot was starting to feel like he, Parker and Hardison were enduring a bizarre pseudo-parental divorce. Hardison caught up to him before he reached the door.
"Wait up dude what's the hurry?" Eliot bit back the reply that flittered through his head and sighed.
"What Hardison?" He barked, impatient to get going. It was a twelve hour drive give or take, and he wanted on the road as soon as possible. The hacker glanced around and Eliot resisted rolling his eyes. What was with the covert shit?
"Parker said you're going fishin'?" Eliot nodded, with a shrug."Yeah, I'm'a need you to nix that and keep an eye on Parker."
Hardison gave him the look he gave marks when he was using his I'm in charge here spiel. Frankly there was so much wrong with the hackers statement on so many levels that Eliot barely managed to suppress his laughter.
"Well good luck with that," Eliot patted his team mate on the arm, threw a what were you thinking grin at him, and carried on, only for the hacker to stop him. Again. He growled in frustration, and wondered, not for the first time, if any of the team had any clue just how much he reigned his temper in on their behalf. Looking at Hardison, he knew the answer.
"No." He hissed it, conscious of eyes and little blonde ears listening in, not wishing to seem over cruel. "I got plans H, so you and Parker enjoy your weekend without a babysitter OK? You're a big boy now, you'll do fine."
"But I won't be here. I'm flying across country for a gathering."
"A gathering?" Is that what they called it Eliot thought, and wasn't even sure he wanted to know more, but asked anyway. "Of what? So take her with you."
"It's a thing," uncomfortable Hardison always amused him usually but now, he was just plain irritating, "I have to go to, which is not suitable for a lady such as Parker, and you know, it's a real underground thing I shouldn't even be discussing but security is macked out and I can't leave her in a room all by herself for a weekend that's not cool and-"
"You don't want Parker seeing you dress up in your Warcraft gear do you?"
Hardison's face was comical as his eyes widened in denial but his mouth just formed repeated ohs like a goldfish. Eliot raised the cell he had sneaked from his back pocket, showing H the screen. It was his confirmation email for the convention.
"How d'you do-"
"I like to know where y'all are. It's my job to know. Two cells in that city at present but both inactive and a heavy Fed presence because they don't know that. Oh and a Russian gang trafficking guns an a small scale, so avoid any Red Square restaurants. As safe as anywhere and nowhere. You'll both be fine."
"You and Parker really need to re evaluate what y'all do with your free time is all I'm sayin'."
"Whatever bro' just take her with you and let me leave would you?"
"Uh-uh, I just got me an in, and I am not risking an out because of my geekhood. Help a brother out man."
"I am going fishing. What is it with my plans anyhow? Like I can't have any?"
Hardison looked at him strangely.
"Right Eliot, cos you gonna get a call from the fishes askin' where you at when you don't show. C'mon man."
"She'll be fine here, with these guys." Who chose that moment to switch up the volume on their bickering. "Or alone. Parker can cope."
"Yeah, yeah she can." Now Hardison leant down to tell him something and Eliot just knew, his weekend was totalled. "'Cept that particular piece of jewellery she once possessed then gave back for the hell of it?"
Eliot nodded, grinning, because well, it was typical Parker. Doing shit because she could, or was bored. Or happened to be passing.
"Well it's on show in towen this weekend and my girl's eyes are getting way too big when watching the news reports dude. And I have already ran the security and that place is lock down lock tight locked up. If it were possible, which I doubt, it is not a one woman job."
"Even if that woman is Parker?" Eliot trusted the hacker on his business, but Parker really was a natural born thief, half cat half magpie.
"Yuppity yup. And you know she'll try. Left to her own devices, she will try."
Sighing, Eliot glanced over at the slim blonde, who sat on the counter eating cereal from the box, riveted by the back and forth between Nate and Sophie, like she was watching live action Pay Per View. He weighed up his options. Crap.
"Fine I won't go."
Hardison hugged him, and offered a dozen different payments, none of which Eliot wanted, and called out to Parker who swivelled her head as if to say shush to a loud talker in a theatre. Then she seemed to recall where she was and slipped off the counter to come over.
"Hey, turns out Eliot isn't going fishing after all."
"He said he was." Accusing eyes turned on him and Eliot bit his lip and clenched his fist partially before throwing himself on the couch.
"I'll go another time."
"Can't I go with you?" A confused question intoned so innocently that Eliot opened an eye to spy on her. Paranoia was crawling in his veins as she stared back, wide eyed.
"Fishin'?" Hardison looked at her strangely."You can stay here, watch some DVDs, hang out-"
"I like fishing. It's an excellent centreing exercise." Now both Eliot and Hardison looked at her askance. Eliot shifted uncomfortably, wishing he never mentioned damn fishing in the first place. Hello totalled weekend. Not that it was Parker's fault exactly. More like her pansy assed boyfriend too scared to be honest. Sometimes it occurred to Eliot, that broken as he undoubtedly was, he was more whole than any of his team mates by a country mile. So now what? He could just front with Parker, but then if she didn't want to make the trip and stayed behind, he was stuck. Deciding he may actually salvage some of his plans he shrugged easily and lay his arms on the back of the sofa.
"Sure why not. We'll go fishin'. Go pack a bag."
Hardison switched his gaze between hitter and thief, suddenly not happy with the whole idea at all if his frown was any indication.
"How many tents you got again Eliot?"
"Okay seriously, you are pissin' me off now man. You make me babysit your girlfriend so you can dress up in leather and shit, ruining my plans, then you get shitty about it? Whatever bro'."
"Ready." Parker appeared at his shoulder again, and Eliot stared at the small pack in her hand.
"What the hell d'you pack?"
"Harness, toothbrush and pants." Parker listed it, and grimaced at the tooth brush part. "That's why it took me so long. I didn't have a new one."
Eliot raised an eyebrow at her, so long? She was gone like a minute tops. "Where d'you get a new toothbrush then?"
She glanced at Hardison, who swallowed nervously.
"Not my bag?" His voice squeaked a little. "You didn't just look inside my bag and invade my privacy like that I know you didn't-"
"Happy Hordeing Hardison." She smiled at him, then looked at Eliot expectantly, and he rose from his seat, feeling like the last sane man alive. "So what we waiting for?"
"Ahem." Hardison coughed and she turned, puzzled. Hardison did the head nod but as it wasn't in a job context as in get over there or get here now, she couldn't translate it and Eliot almost screamed in sheer bloody frustration.
"I think," he told her, through gritted teeth," that he wants a proper goodbye."
Enlightenment dawned in her eyes and she nodded sagely like she had known all along. Give him strength. Looking away, because of good manners and a sudden violent urge to do, well, violence, he couldn't help see their reflection, on the wall monitor and saw the goodbye hug coupled with dual cheek kisses. He despaired of them all, he decided as the awkwardness finally stopped. Thank God.
Nate and Sophie paused long enough to wave off the kids, to Eliot's morbid amusement, and finally, he was at his truck, up a passenger, but with hope he could talk her into keeping quiet about his trip.
"Get in Parker and don't, under any circumstances mess with my radio."
"Sure." She climbed in the passenger side and sat there so meek that he almost did a double take.
Suspicious as hell, he climbed in and began to start the engine, when she turned and pinned him with big eyes and a secret smile.
"So where are we really going?"
"Excuse me?" Caught off guard, he stalled, trying to work out what she knew and how. It was an unnerving experience.
"Please Eliot." she rolled her eyes as she shifted to face him fully. "You are wearing a dress shirt not a work shirt, you scrubbed your nails raw,"she ticked each off on her fingers," you have the cologne Sophie bought for you last Christmas on, you aren't wearing a hat on and your hair smells all coconuty and there is no fishing gear in your trunk."
"How d'you know what's in my trunk?" Eliot dealt with the safest first, looking for outrage and finding grudging admiration instead. she shrugged, looking a bit too clever and pretty in the dwindling sunlight through the truck window.
"I put my bag in there." Oh. She was lightning she really was since he hadn't even seen it happen. He couldn't help be impressed.
"Right." Well, screw it then he figured, putting the truck in gear. "We, Parker, are going to a wedding. I guess you are my plus one. Cool with that?"
"I love weddings!" She squealed and clapped excitedly, before noting his expression and piping down, turning in her seat to buckle up.
Eliot pulled into traffic and glanced at the girl beside him warily. How his weekend had turned into this he wasn't quite sure and honestly, as she smiled into the sunshine outside, rolling down the window to let the air in, he wasn't altogether sure he minded. Which spelt trouble. He knew that.