PART III

"Miss me yet?"

Sophie pursed her lips and leaned back in her armchair, cradling the phone to her ear. "I always miss you, Tara."

It was such a conflicting feeling; talking to the woman she was in love with while she was dating someone else. It was a week after her and Parker's first date; and yes, she ended up getting her that Monet. It was currently hanging over her mantle. Afterwards, Parker told her that she would get her anything she wanted. While Sophie didn't want her to have think she had to buy her affections, just hearing her say that was… really, really sweet. So she allotted a second date, then a third. All in one week. She had never moved so fast with someone in her life, but it actually felt… natural.

It was strange.

Tara started to say something, but Sophie interrupted her. "I'm dating Parker," she told her, all in one breath. That was why she called; she needed Tara to understand that things were changing. They had to change; otherwise she was sure she would be go insane. She figured if she could just spit it out it would be easier.

There was a very pregnant pause that followed that revelation.

And then Tara laughed. "No, seriously."

Sophie sighed, closing her eyes for a moment. "I am being serious," she told her. She knew it sounded ridiculous; if someone would have told her a year ago that she would be, she would have laughed. But… it was what had happened. Sophie wasn't even sure how anymore.

Tara fell silent again, probably shocked mute. Finally she asked, "Are you drunk? That's practically statutory rape, Fi."

Sophie's mouth dropped open. "She's an adult, Tara!"

"She thinks like a child," Tara countered. "Well, a child with a very extensive knowledge of thievery. I'll give her that."

"Just because she sees the world a little differently, doesn't mean she sees it through a child's eyes!" Sophie defended, becoming increasingly offended as this conversation went on. Tara was acting like what she was doing was wrong; dirty, somehow. "Trust me, she can handle adult situations just fine."

"I bet," Tara responded dryly. Sophie heard her take a breath before she asked, "Is this some kind of kinky thing? Do you get off by teaching her how to go down on you or something? Cause that's fucking weird."

"I'm not—!" Sophie started angrily, but stopped halfway through as her anger clouded her thoughts and she lost her train of thoughts. "Christ, Tara. We're not even having sex. But I'm sure she'll preform more than adequately when that time comes, thank you. Why are you trying to make me feel horrible?"

"You're not even having sex?" Tara asked, like the concept was foreign to her. "Then how can you tell me you're dating?"

"Because she's taken me out on dates, Tara," Sophie replied, in disbelief that Tara really thought that the only way one could date someone was to be shagging them. "That's what dating is."

"Yeah, well, have fun with that," Tara replied sarcastically. "Why are you even telling me this? Are you trying to rub it in my face or something?"

"No, of course not," Sophie replied, sighing a little. She rubbed her temples as she explained to her, "I just… needed you to be aware of what was going on. I want us to be friends, but I can't find myself naked and in your bed the next time I see you. That wouldn't be fair to Parker."

Silence fell over the line for a moment. "So you called to tell me that we can't fuck anymore." It was a statement, not a question.

"You already knew I couldn't handle it before, so this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise," Sophie explained to her quietly. "But… yes. I just… well, honestly I thought you deserved to know that circumstances had changed. I didn't want you to feel blindsided by it when we do finally see each other again."

Silence.

Then, "Fine. Thanks for the head's up." It was immediately followed by the line going dead; Tara had hung up on her.

Sophie sighed heavily. Great.


Nate was in the middle of another spiel, when Parker raised her hand.

"Can me and Sophie be excused from this job?"

Everyone looked at her strangely; including Sophie. She didn't know why Parker would be requesting a leave of absence for the both of them – their jobs were important, after all. Besides, nothing was going on; at least that's what she thought.

Nate looked annoyed by this request. "What? Why?"

"Because I need to take her on our sixth date. I think she'll have sex with me this time."

Sophie groaned, putting her head in her hands.

Nate stared at her in disbelief. Hardison looked torn between being embarrassed and being pissed off. And Eliot… well, he started laughing. Hard.

"This just gets better and better. Holy shit. Fuckin' priceless."

Sophie moved her hands away from her face, but only to shoot Eliot a glare.

"No one is excused for sex," Nate told her, though his glare was aimed at Sophie. Why is it that she gets blamed for bloody everything around here? "Ever. Any of you," he went on, now looking at Eliot who held out his hands like 'what the fuck did I do?'

"Nate, this is a serious problem," Parker told him evenly, like having this conversation was the most natural thing in the world. "I need to have sex with her. Bad things happen when you don't have sex with your girlfriend; I saw it on TV." She crossed her arms over her chest and looked at him like her problem has now become his problem.

"Parker!" Sophie protested, mouth agape. "Please, stop. This is not how you're going to achieve that, believe me." Christ, she couldn't believe this conversation was really happening. She was sure she was turning so red her head was about to pop off.

"But I don't understand why you won't have sex with me," Parker replied. She actually looked hurt by it. Shit. "Is it because my boobs aren't as big as Tara's?"

"What? No," Sophie assured her. "Look, we'll talk about this later okay? Please." She was trying to hide her embarrassment, but it wasn't really working. Sophie hated not looking put together.

Nate was staring at her, looking less than pleased. "Sophie, a word. Now," he demanded, moving towards the backroom. Sophie sighed, getting up to follow him. This wasn't going to be pleasant.

Eliot was still chuckling in the corner. "See? This is why I don't need no damn TV, Hardison: life is way more entertaining."

Hardison responded to him by giving him the finger.

When Sophie closed the door behind them, Nate rounded on her. "What are you doing?" he demanded.

Sophie set her jaw, not appreciating his tone. "My personal life is none of your business, Nate."

"Well it becomes my business when shit like that happens," he told her angrily, pointing out the door. "This is going to end badly and you know it. You can't use Parker as a rebound. For fuck's sake, what do you think is going to happen when you realize you're making a mistake? You're going to end up tearing up the team if you hurt her like that." He started gesturing erratically as he exclaimed, "Jesus Christ. This is why we never dated, Sophie. It wasn't because I was a drunk or whatever else you thought it was – it was because relationships are going to fuck with the team. We can't afford that. After everything we've done, it's safer for all of us if we stay together."

"First of all, don't you dare presume to know how I feel about anyone," Sophie started, furious because he assumed she was making a mistake. "Secondly, just because you like to deprive yourself of happiness, doesn't mean I do. I didn't plan for this, all right? Never in a million years did I think that Parker would be the one to make me happy. But she does. Okay? She does."

"Nothing lasts forever, Sophie," Nate told her seriously. "So tell me, what's going to happen when this little 'thing' you have ends? We all bore witness to how well that worked out with Tara."

"Tara was different!" Sophie exclaimed. "Tara was emotionally unavailable."

Nate laughed. "What the hell do you think Parker is?"

"Parker has shown me more emotion, more affection, than Tara ever did," Sophie replied evenly. "Maybe she doesn't show a lot of it normally, but you'd be surprised how much she's actually capable of."

"And what the hell do you plan to do about Hardison?" Nate asked, apparently deciding to ignore practically everything Sophie was saying just so he could lecture her some more.

"I.." Sophie started, really hating this topic whenever it came up. "I've already spoke to him about it. I know he's not happy, but he's given his consent. Sort of."

"Sort of," Nate deadpanned.

"He threatened to make every single one of my identities disappear if I hurt her."

Nate actually smirked at that. "Good. I'll let him. Don't fuck up the team, Sophie. I'm serious." He moved to walk away, signaling the end of the conversation, but he stopped before he got to the door. "And tell Parker to stop talking about stuff like that while we're in a meeting – no one wants to know. Seriously."

"Trust me, I'm not thrilled about you all knowing that stuff either," Sophie replied, looking out at Parker once Nate opened the door.

She wasn't really looking forward to this conversation.


"Are you going to yell?" Parker asked apprehensively as they sat in Sophie's living room later that day.

Sophie sighed softly. "No, Parker. I'm not going to yell." She knew it wasn't her fault that she didn't understand what was appropriate. She moved to sit next to her on the couch, placing her hand on the thief's thigh. "But you need to understand something," she told her, making sure she had eye contact before she continued. "I'm not comfortable with the whole team knowing what is or isn't going on in our… relationship." Sophie had hesitated calling it that, but she supposed that's what they had… on some level. She had told Tara that they couldn't have sex anymore because of her, after all. Being ready to be exclusive had to mean something. "I know my last relationship turned into a mess that everyone ended up knowing about, but that actually lasted for five years. How long did you know about it?"

Parker scrunched up her face, thinking about that. "Six months," she answered.

"Exactly. I'm a really private person, Parker. At least I try to be, anyway. I know that can be difficult when one spends all their time with the same people. But… I would appreciate if you would respect that. What happens with us… that's between us, alright?"

"Sorry," Parker mumbled, picking invisible lint off her jeans. "I just don't understand why you won't have sex with me. Do you think I'm ugly? Because I'm not."

Sophie smirked a little at Parker informing her that she would be very wrong if she thought that. "I definitely don't think you're ugly, Parker. You're beautiful." She tucked a piece of hair behind the thief's ear, prompting Parker to look up at her. She looked so innocent. Sophie gave her a half smile before she explained, "It's not something you're doing wrong, okay? You're doing everything right. But I just got out of relationship where all we did was shag. I'm just… enjoying the other side of things right now, okay?"

Parker sighed, disappointed. "Okay," she relented; sounding like a kid that just got told they couldn't have ice cream. "I just really wanted to see you naked."

Sophie smirked. "We don't need to have sex for you to see me naked, sweetie."

That got Parker's attention. She perked up immediately. "Really?"

"Really," Sophie told her, enjoying the air of mystery she currently held. "Let me take you out tonight, alright? I promise nudity will be involved, if that's what you want."

"I want that," Parker told her quickly. "I very much want that. I dream about that." She scrunched up her nose as she admitted, "Every night, actually. You're very kinky in my dreams, Sophie. Are you kinky in the real world too?"

Sophie just laughed.


"Naked time!" Parker announced excitedly before stripping off her clothes in a very impressive amount of time. She took off running down the bank without even waiting for Sophie before she practically flung herself in the water.

Sophie chuckled, watching Parker come up spluttering. "Holy shit, it's cold!" she exclaimed, apparently not expecting that. But it was September; of course the water wouldn't be very warm. The lake they were at was secluded and the moon shown in the water almost ethereally. It was very beautiful. It was even better when the scene included a naked Parker; that was definitely the most beautiful thing about it.

Maybe Sophie underestimated how much the girl's nudity would affect her. She had thought they could just swim naked together to sate Parker's need of seeing her nude, but seeing her nipples get as hard as rocks because of the temperature of the water was doing something to Sophie. She bit her bottom lip, taking in every curve of the thief's body.

"Are you coming or not?" Parker asked impatiently.

"I'm coming," Sophie replied. She had the stray thought of how she might really be coming soon if she doesn't control herself, but she quickly suppressed that thought before her brain started to toy with the idea in graphic detail.

As she undressed, she did it slowly. Partly out of hesitation, but partly because she knew she would be holding Parker's undivided attention if she did it that way. She wasn't wrong. Parker stared at her unashamedly, making no effort to hide the fact that she was checking out everything she had to offer.

As Sophie stepped out of her knickers – the last of her clothing – she found herself coloring a little. It was odd; she wasn't particularly embarrassed about being nude, but the intensity of Parker's gaze made her flush. But she held her head high as she walked down the bank.

"I want to eat you," Parker breathed, obviously without much thought to what she was saying, because she revised quickly with, "Not in the cannibal way. But you look like you taste like caramel."

Sophie smirked a little as she started wading into the water. It was cold, but not unbearable. "I'm pretty sure I don't taste like caramel."

"I don't care," Parker told her honestly, still staring intently at Sophie's body as she got in the water. "I want to eat you anyway."

Sophie tried to hide her smile; she was pleased that she got that kind of reaction from Parker. "Patience," she reminded her as she found herself submerged up to her waist, only a foot away from the thief. She shivered a little, but it wasn't bad; she knew she'd get used to the temperature.

"I don't think I have any of that."

Sophie could see the hungry look in Parker's eyes. And Parker, being the epitome of impulsiveness, probably wasn't going to be able to hold herself back much longer unless she really, really tried to. "Well, you're going to learn some," Sophie told her softly, but pointedly.

"I don't think I want to."

Parker got a little closer to her, prompting Sophie to swim away. "Parker…" she warned softly.

"I've never done this," Parker told her honestly, sounding a little pained. She was wringing her hands together in an attempt to not go against what Sophie wanted. "I just… take things, when I want them. This is making me twitchy, Sophie. I want to touch you. I want to lick you. I want to fuck you. I want to make you come. I want to make you scream."

Jesus Christ.

Sophie never expected anything so blatantly sexual coming from Parker and it stole the breath from her. She felt her insides heat up as her inner walls contracted almost violently. She was probably fighting a losing battle, as that one statement made Sophie completely and utterly wet and needy, but this wasn't what she wanted.

"I want that too," she admitted in a breathy whisper, knowing she sounded like a hormonal wreck. But there wasn't anything she could really do about that. "But… I think waiting will be good for us."

"Waiting is stupid," Parker told her, continuing to inch towards her. "I want to know what you feel like on the inside. I want to know what you taste like if it isn't caramel."

Suddenly Sophie felt herself stop short, Parker having backed her up against a large rock; successfully trapping her. Her heart rate had increased significantly, her breathing shallowing so much that her chest was heaving. She knew her pupils were dilated and that Parker could see that; she knew she was turning her on.

She also knew she was winning.

"Let me?" Parker requested softly, closing the distance between them to press her body flush against hers. Sophie was pretty sure she was going to come on the spot. Parker kept her hands to herself, but her lips were only a fraction of an inch away from Sophie's; her breath was tickling her oversensitive lips and she swore she could feel it all the way down to her clit. "Please, Sophie?"

"I'm going to be so mad at you tomorrow," Sophie warned her, her voice barely audible; she swore Parker stole the breath from her. Her eyes fluttered closed as Parker's lips brushed lightly against hers. She knew in about two seconds Parker was going to have all of her.

"That's okay," Parker breathed against her lips. "I'll steal you another painting." She allowed herself to grab hold of Sophie's hip then, pressing her body so firmly against hers that their breasts ended up squished against each other. Sophie heard herself whimper, but it sounded so far away. Her head was swimming. Parker's nipples were unbelievably hard.

"Jesus Christ, Parker," she begged softly, feeling like she was hanging on the edge of a cliff. She was going to lose it in three… two…"Just fuck me." One.

Parker grinned wickedly – a sign of her triumph – before her mouth covered hers. Sophie grabbed for her desperately, feeling the thief's silken skin and deliciously addictive curves. Parker was a tiny girl, but her frame was deceiving to the power she held inside of her. Sophie could feel her abdominal muscles twitch in excitement beneath her touch; allowing the grifter to feel the erotic combination of both strength and vulnerability. Her nails raked over the curve of her ribs as Parker's tongue slipped wantonly against hers, milking a quiet whimper from Sophie's lips as she lifted her leg slightly, pressing her burning center against Parker's thigh.

Feeling Sophie's heat ignited something deep within Parker and her lips fell to her neck, biting down on the junction between her neck and shoulders possessively as she grabbed her breast roughly. Sophie moaned, sliding her hands down the thief's back to cup her ass, pulling her unbelievably closer, using the friction from Parker's thigh to stimulate her already oversensitive clitoris. Parker pressed her lips to her ear, emitting a possessive growl that made a shiver run down Sophie's spine, prompting her hips twitch and her hairs stand on end in both arousal and excitement. "Shit," she breathed, closing her eyes as her head fell back against the rock face. "Parker…"

Parker's hands were mapping every inch of her skin with the same purposeful concentration she had when she studied a bank's blue prints. She was looking for both her strengths and weaknesses; memorizing them, studying them. Her lips ghosted across Sophie's throat, tongue sneaking out for a quick taste before her body slid down hers, coming to rest on her haunches before her. The thief was submerged in water up to her neck as she pressed her lips against the base of Sophie's navel, teeth raking across sensitive skin that jumped beneath her lips. Sophie gasped softly as she felt Parker's strong hands slide up her thighs, fingers digging in just enough to massage her taut muscles that were begging to be squeezed around Parker's slender body.

A solitary finger slipped through her folds and Sophie bit her bottom lip hard, squeezing her eyes tightly shut as her clit jumped in excitement. But the lower half of her body was still submerged under water and Sophie desperately wanted to feel Parker's mouth against her. She opened her eyes momentarily, searching frantically to find a way to rectify this situation. Finding that there was a rock submerged under the water beneath her, she moved her leg to prop it up on top of it, trying to elongate her spine as she stood on her tip toes with her other foot, successfully lifting her hips high enough to be a half an inch above the water. The coolness of the air against her sensitive flesh nearly made her cry out, but when the heat of Parker's mouth covered her sex she shuddered in pleasure, gasping the thief's name into the stillness of the night.

As far as Sophie was aware, Parker had never been with a woman before. But she couldn't tell by the way she placed hot, open mouth kisses against her wanton core, allowing her tongue to slip through her folds with absolutely no hesitation. Sophie whimpered pathetically, her fingers curling in blonde hair as she pushed her hips against Parker's face. "Fuck," she breathed, eyes closed as she turned her face to side, allowing the rock face to cool her flushed cheeks. "You're good at that. Jesus…"

Parker responded to her praise by nipping at her clit softly, making Sophie cry out and her hips twitch involuntarily. Her grip tightened on the thief's hair almost violently, her breath coming out in short bursts as the thief's lips wrapped around her clit, sucking on her in a way that made her head spin and her toes curl. The moan she released was guttural; needy, pulling Parker closer to her by her hair as she begged between gasps, "Please… oh please…"

When two of Parker's fingers slipped inside of her, Sophie came undone. She cried out loudly, her head pitching forward and then back again to slam against the rock face as she thrust her hips against her hand. It probably would have hurt – her head, that was – if only she could feel anything other than complete and utter ecstasy as Parker's fingers slid in and out of her, taking what she wanted in the way you would expect any thief would; with persistent, carefully controlled movements, and absolutely no hesitation.

As Sophie's insides clenched and her head swam, Parker's lips left her clit to be placed on her hip, biting down hard enough to make Sophie scream; the pain mixing deliciously with the pleasure. "Fuck, Parker… fuck, fuck…" Sophie gasped, holding onto to thief's shoulder so hard that her fingernails dug in, leaving crescent shaped marks upon her skin. Then finally Parker's fingers curled inside of her, her thumb pressing against her clit, and Sophie was done.

She screamed, her mind clouding in a haze of glorious abandonment as she forgot her own bloody name, let alone where she was. Sophie's hand shot out as she felt herself coming, unfortunately slamming against the jagged side of one of the rocks. It sliced open the palm of her hand, but she barely felt it as her knees buckled. But before she fell into the water, Parker caught her, holding her up as she rode out her high.

When Sophie finally became aware of herself and her body, she winced. "Bollocks," she swore, looking at her bleeding hand. She really should have been more aware of what she was trying to grab hold of. But then again, it wasn't like Parker left her any brain cells to think after that performance.

"Here," Parker offered, taking her hand in hers before she dipped it under the water, trying to wash away her pain. She let it stay under there for awhile until she was sure the water had slowed the blood flow, then she brought Sophie's palm up to her lips and kissed it. Sophie was sure she was going to melt on the spot; she never expected something to tender to come from Parker. She smiled at her softly.

"You're wonderful," she told her softly. "Do you know that?"

"You taste better than caramel," Parker told her with a smirk before she stood up, coming up to be even with Sophie's height. "Did you know that?" Sophie laughed quietly.

"No, I didn't."


Sophie wished, more than anything, that she had the chance to return the favor to Parker. However, Nate (because he has the worst timing in the bloody world) interrupted them with a phone call. It was an 'emergency job' that required them to get to work straight away because of the time constraints and so for the next forty eight hours, Sophie and Parker found themselves too involved with work to get much alone time.

But finally they found it early Monday morning, lying together in Parker's bed, completely exhausted after being awake for nearly two days. They had pulled off the con, but it was one of the toughest jobs they had ever done. Sophie's head was on Parker's breast, her eyes closed as she listened to the thief's slow, even breathing as she hovered between the place of awareness and sleep. Their legs were tangled together, Parker's fingers idly playing with her hair. It was the most content Sophie had found herself feeling in years.

"Can I ask you something?" Sophie inquired softly.

"Mmm."

Sophie's fingers toyed with the hem of Parker's shirt absentmindedly. "Where did you learn to do that? I assumed you had never been with a woman but you were…" she smirked a little in remembrance, the images flooding her mind behind her closed eyes, "bloody fucking fantastic, honestly."

Parker yawned, nuzzling her face in Sophie's hair as she tried to stay awake a little longer to answer her. "Porn," she mumbled. "And a hooker named… Kandy Kane? Or something; I forget."

Sophie's eyes opened after that piece of information. She turned her head quickly to look up at her, prompting Parker to emit a grumpy sound of disapproval as her pillow moved. "You've slept with a prostitute?" she asked disbelievingly.

Parker, having given up on Sophie being a proper pillow, rolled over and hugged her bunny instead. "Mmm," she affirmed sleepily. "Needed to practice. Porn only taught me theory; it didn't provide hands on learning." She yawned again, snuggling into her pillow. "Didn't wanna be bad for you," she murmured. Sophie's eyes went wide and she smacked Parker's arm hard, trying to get her attention.

"Ow, what?" Parker exclaimed angrily as she turned back around to face her, mad she was getting abused when she was trying to sleep.

"Are you telling me you slept with a prostitute while we were dating?" Sophie asked, her voice going up at least three octaves.

"I didn't want to have sex with you wrong," Parker exclaimed, looking at her in both confusion and grumpiness. "Why are you getting mad? You said I gave you fantastic sex, so it worked."

"Why am I getting mad?" Sophie repeated, in utter disbelief she seriously just asked that question. "You're honestly asking me that?"

"Yes?" Parker asked, growing more confused as this conversation went on. "And I'm tired; can we not fight right now? Explain it to me later." Now she was whining. As far as attractive things went, that was pretty far down on the list.

"Oh, you're tired, are you?" Sophie replied scathingly, finding herself immensely upset over the fact that Parker cheated on her. What was worse is that she didn't even know that she did, so what was going to stop her from shagging the next tart that came around? "Well I'll leave you to sleep by your bloody self then," she told her, getting up off of Parker's bed in a huff. "You can call me when you finally wrap your head around why I'm so fucking upset with you."

"Sophie!"

But Sophie didn't care about her protests, she didn't care that Parker was confused and didn't know any better; she just left, slamming the door behind her.


"I need your advice."

Eliot's eyebrows rose; he obviously wasn't expecting that. Hell, Sophie wasn't really expecting to ask either. But she found herself outside of Eliot's apartment anyway, figuring that out of anyone, he might be the best person to talk to about something like this. After a moment's pause, Eliot wordlessly opened his door a little wider, inviting her in.

When Sophie closed the door behind her, she pressed her back against it. Her lips pursed together in hesitation as Eliot looked at her expectantly. "Before I say anything, can we please keep whatever's said here between us? I don't… exactly like the whole world knowing my business."

"Just say what you came here to say," Eliot responded, not caring much about formalities such a 'secrets'. Eliot wasn't much of a gossip though, so Sophie nodded, knowing it was unlikely he would share what she was about to say to the rest of the team.

"Fine," she relented, sighing a little. She bit her bottom lip for a moment, hesitating, before she asked, "What do you do when you find out someone you're dating slept with someone else?"

Eliot's eyebrows got lost in his hairline. "Sophie, I haven't dated anyone in a long time. At least not seriously. You'd think I'd know?"

"Honestly, I didn't really, it's just… I know that out of everyone, you've had the most experience when it came to women. And you…" she shrugged lightly, "well, you're the only one that hasn't judged my relationship with Parker harshly."

"S'cause I don't give enough of a fuck to. Ya'll do what you do; I don't care." Eliot flopped down onto his couch, grabbing his half drunken beer off of the coffee table, taking a sip. "Who'd she fuck?" he asked when he put his beer back down.

"A prostitute."

Eliot laughed, "Are you serious? That's hilarious."

"It's not funny, Eliot!" Sophie exclaimed, offended that he was sitting there laughing over something that's been screwing with her head for the past couple days.

"Sorry," he apologized, his laughter dying down. "I know this is gonna sound shitty, but darlin', you gotta be doin' something wrong if she's looking to get off somewhere else."

Sophie glared at him. Obviously coming here was a bad idea. "She didn't do it because of that, you bloody prat; she did it to… well, she said it was so she could practice… you know, before she slept with me." She flushed a little from admitting to Eliot that they were sleeping together, even though he probably already assumed they were. "So she wouldn't 'do it wrong'."

"Ah," Eliot responded before taking another sip of his beer. He sounded like he all of a sudden understood something that had perplexed Sophie for days. "Makes sense."

"How?"

Eliot looked at her pointedly. "Sophie, look at it from her perspective: you think the first time she ever thought about stealin' something, she up and robbed the first bank she saw? No, she started out by pickpocketing, boostin' cars, and whatever other shit. Girl ain't about to jump into the deep end without knowing if she can swim. She's smarter than that."

Oh. Well, that actually did make a lot of sense. But regardless… "She still did it when we were dating though."

"Well why the heck would she fuck a hooker before then?" Eliot countered, looking at her like she was being stupid. "Ain't no point preparing for shit you can't see happening." He shrugged. "Look, if you wanna do the typical girl shit and throw a tantrum over it, then break up with her. Ain't bothering me any."

Sophie sighed, running her fingers through her hair. She didn't want to do that and she thinks he knows that. Silence washed between the two of them for a moment before she asked quietly, "Eliot… are you now, or have you ever been so in love with someone that you forget to breathe, to eat, to live?"

Eliot cocked an eyebrow at her. "You tellin' me that's how you feel about Parker?"

"No," Sophie answered softly. "That's how I feel about Tara." She took a breath, pushing herself off the door to walk over to him as she explains, "But Parker makes me remember to live. She makes me remember to breathe, to eat, to stop bloody killing myself over something that's supposed to be good; something that's supposed to make me feel alive. But my love for Tara doesn't make me feel alive; Parker's the one that does that."

"You tell her that?"

"No."

"Then what the fuck are you doing standin' around my house for then?" He asked, like she was being an idiot. She probably was being one. "You already knew what you were gonna do about Parker before you stepped foot in here; now you're just wasting both our time."

Sophie raised her eyebrows at the way he worded that, but he was right. She already had her answer.


"What are you doing here?"

Sophie walked into the living room to see Tara sitting on her couch; something she definitely wasn't expecting considering since the last time she talked to her, Tara had hung up on her. Sophie put her purse down on the small table by the door, looking at her expectantly.

"I think I'm in love with you."

Sophie felt like she was going to fall down. Her hand connected with the wall to make sure this didn't happen as she stared at her, hoping to Christ that she just heard her wrong. "I'm sorry, you what?" she asked in disbelief.

There couldn't have been a worse time for this to happen; Sophie had just called Parker, telling her to meet her at her apartment so they could talk. This was definitely the last conversation she wanted her to walk in on. Honestly, this was probably the last conversation she wanted to have herself right now. And knowing Parker, she wouldn't give them the courtesy of a warning. She didn't knock; Sophie would be lucky if she even used to front door.

"I think I'm in love with you," Tara told her, looking like she couldn't believe the words coming out of her mouth either. "And it sucks, Fi."

"I think I need to sit down," Sophie replied, feeling a little lightheaded as she headed over to the armchair. She wasn't about to sit next to Tara on the couch; they definitely needed space for this conversation. She put her head in her hands, letting out a long breath as she tried, for two seconds, to wrap her mind around what was going on. "You can't do this to me right now, Tara. You just can't."

"Do you think I want to?" Tara countered, frustrated. "How the fuck do you think I feel right now? This was the last thing I thought would happen."

"Thanks," Sophie responded dryly.

"You know what I mean," Tara huffed, getting to her feet as she started pacing, ranting. "I don't do this, Fi. I don't fucking care about shit. But you told me you were with Parker and I… realized I hated that. I was so fucking mad I couldn't think. I couldn't breathe."

"That just means you're jealous, Tara… not that you're in love with me," Sophie told her quietly. "There's quite a big difference."

"Not when I know that I can't live without you. I need you, Sophie."

They were the words Sophie desperately longed to hear for so long. But now they just seemed bittersweet. She pursed her lips, trying so hard not to get emotional. She looked away from her, shaking her head a little. "It's too late, Tara," she whispered regrettably.

"Who says?" Tara replied, coming over to her quickly. She knelt in front of her, forcing Sophie to look at her. A tear slipped down her cheek; she hated this. "Fi, who the fuck says? Why can't you just leave her? You know you don't love her like you love me." Her hand rose to wipe away her tears, but it stopped midair once a voice said:

"If you touch her, I'll break your wrist."

Tara put her hand down quickly and stood, looking at Parker who was standing in the doorway. She looked pissed. She took a step towards her and Tara immediately took a step back; she knew what Parker was capable of. After all, she nearly got thrown off a roof by her once before.

"I don't steal from you," Parker told her dangerously, advancing on her. "I don't take what's yours, so don't take what's mine. Nobody takes from me."

"Parker, please calm down," Sophie requested all in one breath, standing to take Parker's hand in hers and pull her over to her and away from Tara. "She's not taking me away from you, okay? Breathe for a moment, sweetie." She wasn't stupid; she knew how dangerous Parker was if she allowed herself to be. But she also knew she had enough control over Parker to make sure it didn't happen.

"You already took from me," Tara told her boldly. But she also knew Sophie could stop her from attacking her, which was probably why she said it without fear.

"She wasn't yours when I took her!" Parker exclaimed. "But she's mine now. If she ever becomes not mine then you can take her, but you can't have her now. Go away."

Tara set her jaw and looked at the woman caught in the middle. "Sophie?" she asked purposefully.

Sophie sighed, looking at her regrettably. "I'm with Parker now, Tara. I'm sorry. I do still love you, I won't deny that, but we're…" she sighed as she admitted the truth it took her so long to accept, "we're toxic for each other. We've never really been happy together, you know that. I don't want to lose you in my life, but we can't ever be what we were. We both need to find happiness elsewhere, for our own sanities."

"So go away now."

"Parker," Sophie chided. She knew this was a really shitty thing for Tara to go through; she didn't need anything added to it. She looked up at Tara, feeling really awful about all of this. But it was the truth; they weren't ever any good for each other.

Tara stared at her for a moment. "She's your happiness then?" she asked evenly.

Sophie looked at her sympathetically, her hand tightening in Parker's. "Yes," she told her softly. "She is."

"Fine," Tara said shortly, brushing past them to get to the door without another word. She looked like she was going to cry. In all of their years together, Sophie had never seen her cry. It was heartbreaking.

Sophie wanted to call out to her, try to somehow make it better, but she knew nothing would help. So she watched her leave with a heavy heart, feeling horrible about how that went. She never would have thought in a million years that Tara would have found herself in love with her, and now that she did… it was far, far too late. But no matter how shitty it was, that was the way life was sometimes. Sophie knew more than anyone how cruel love could be.

Sophie tried to suck back her tears as she pressed the heel of her palm underneath her eye, dabbing at the few that had fallen. Her hand holding Parker's tightened as she moved, encouraging her softly, "Come on…" She felt like she got hit with a two by four emotionally and she just wanted to lie down; be held, be reminded that she was, honestly, happier now.

Parker followed without a word, allowing Sophie to lead her into her bedroom. She climbed into bed when encouraged by another tug of her hand, letting Sophie curl up against her. Parker seemed confused, but Sophie didn't know why until she asked suddenly. "Why did you stay?" Sophie blinked, turning her face to look up at her. "Outside of knowing I'd push her stupid ass out a window," Parker went on, "you've been mad at me for days. And you don't love me. I also probably don't sex you as good. I'm not as pretty, either."

"Parker…" Sophie started, feeling a little bad that Parker really thought herself as less next to Tara. She brushed a piece of blonde hair away from the thief's eyes with a half-smile before telling her, "I'm not angry with you anymore. I understand why you did it, okay? Just don't ever do it again. I'm the one you're having sex with now."

Parker nodded slowly yet silently, understanding.

"And I do love you," Sophie went on, looking her in the eyes. "Maybe I'm not in love with you, but those kinds of feelings take time." She smiled at her softly, cupping her cheek in her hand. "Besides, I can very much see that happening at some point. You're wonderful, Parker. I want you to know that. I may be in love with Tara, but my love for her suffocates me. You're the one that makes me feel alive, sweetie. Not her."

Parker smiled. "Really?"

"Really." Sophie bit her bottom lip before leaning up, kissing the thief softly on the lips. "Besides," she whispered. "I actually do think you're prettier." Parker raised an eyebrow, looking at her like she went insane and Sophie giggled. "I do."

"You're lying."

"I'm not."

"Yeah huh."

"Nah ah," Sophie replied, chuckling before she kissed her again, this time a little firmer, a little more with purpose. She could feel Parker smile against her lips and it made her fill with warmth. This was where she wanted to be; there wasn't a doubt in the world about that.

"I am worse at sex than her though," Parker told her when they parted, apparently still set on proving to Sophie that she may have been the wrong choice. But she wasn't. She was so far from it.

Sophie looked at her patiently. "Tara's had much more practice than you. But I'll tell you my first time with you was way better than my first time with her." She brushed the hair out of Parker's eyes as she continued, "But… if you want to surpass her with flying colors, practicing wouldn't hurt." She smirked, already knowing her answer but asking anyway, "If you're up for it?"

Parker's eyes lit up. "We're going to have sex now?"

Sophie chuckled softly, kissing her softly once again before whispering against her lips, "Yeah, babe. We're going to have sex now."

As they fell into each other, Sophie couldn't help but remember the first time Parker told her about love. She didn't know if she could ever feel that way; completely open and honest about the way she felt, without borders or reservations about what things meant or didn't mean. Sophie supposed she'd always compartmentalize her feelings to better understand them, but though she did that with everyone else, Sophie found that she didn't have to fit Parker in a box anymore. Friendship, family, romantic, sexual love; she felt them all when she thought of the girl in bed with her.

For the first time in her life, she loved someone like everything. And it was, honestly, the best feeling in the world, and much more than she could have ever asked for.

THE END