Aww. I liked the ending. :D I hope everyone enjoyed this story. I certainly had fun writting it! Let me know what you thought of it and thank you all for your wonderful reviews along the way!
Sophie shivered and the movement shook her awake. She groggily reached for a sheet or blanket, anything she could cover her arms with.
"What are you doing?"
Sophie opened her eyes and discovered the sheet she was tugging on was actually Nate's dress shirt. She blinked slowly as she tried to recall why she was curled up beside him on top of the hotel bed.
Nate smiled, something he hadn't done a lot of in the past few years, and rubbed her arm with the palm of his hand.
"Oh." His touch had jogged her memory. "You said…oh dear." She cut herself off and frowned. "This isn't good, Nate."
He was unperturbed. "I disagree."
"It won't work." She insisted, sitting up abruptly to avoid his comforting touch. "The team…they won't like it. And…and…and Rebecca…"
"You don't like seeing her with me." It wasn't a question and he still didn't seem upset; he was just stating a fact.
How could she explain that it was just the opposite; that the sight of Rebecca sitting on the floor beside Nate had made her heart ache with longing for something she was convinced could never be?
The front door opened, interrupting their dysfunctional discussion.
"Help me up?" Nate requested of her as he extended his arm. Sophie moved to his side of the bed and pulled the battered man to his feet.
"What time is it?" she glanced around the room until she located Nate's watch on the nightstand. "Oh! It's almost two." She looked at him worriedly. "Our plane?"
"Don't worry. It doesn't leave until past eight. We'll be home today." He grabbed her hand and she didn't pull away.
"Home?" a fleeting look of depression crossed her face until she looked into Nate's eyes. She smiled. "It'll be good to be home."
They walked hand in hand into the following room, discovering quite an odd scene. Rebecca was sitting in the middle of the couch, flanked by Parker who was still in her nightshirt (an oversized baseball tee) and Hardison who was only wearing a pair of jeans and an undershirt. Eliot was asleep in a chair while the other three watched a cartoon. They evidently had ordered every possible thing off of the room service menu; plates, cups, and silverware were scattered all around the floor.
"Cheesecake?" Rebecca offered. Eliot woke up at the sound of her voice but Parker and Hardison didn't take their eyes off of the television.
"Coffee?" Nate asked hopefully. The child made a disgusted and slightly disappointed look, pointing to a decanter on the corner of the coffee table. Nate poured two cups and handed one to Sophie who was looking extremely uncomfortable.
"Parker showed me how to order." Rebecca offered up for conversation. "She told me to order everything they had but one thing at a time." She giggled and Parker looked mischievous.
"So is she coming to Boston or what?" Parker asked without taking her eyes off the screen.
"We're going to have clear guidelines on what electronics are off limits, correct?" Hardison looked wary.
"I refuse to be a babysitter." Eliot growled, his head still resting on the back of the chair.
"I don't mind." Parker offered. "But I expect adequate compensation in unmarked, non-sequential bills."
"Stop it!" Sophie interrupted, looking frazzled from the sudden onslaught.
"I am going home with you, right?" Rebecca asked before Sophie could gather her thoughts (the six hours of sleep she just got was not nearly enough to compensate for three days without rest). Rebecca looked unsure of herself for the first time.
"Y-yes." Sophie replied hesitantly.
"Cool." Parker chimed in, giving a triumphant-looking Rebecca a high five.
"It looks like everything is going to work out in spite of all your worrying." Nate whispered in Sophie's ear as he shuffled past her to the last empty armchair.
"Home…ascloseasitcomesanyway.Thankgod." Sophie dropped her luggage at the door and moved directly to Nate's couch, stretching her body across the entire sofa.
"It's kind of ugly here." Rebecca observed, following her mother inside.
"It's our office." Nate defended. "It's not supposed to look like The Ritz."
"A place full of people with tons of cash and lots of jewels." Parker smiled at the memory and headed straight for the fridge, sniffing an old container of milk before tossing it in the sink.
"It's a hotel." Eliot explained. "Nate, have you seen my keys? I'm heading back to my place."
"Well if you left the tracker on them you could figure out where they are a lot quicker but nooooo…" Hardison trailed off, grumbling to himself as he joined Parker by the fridge (standing considerably closer to her than necessary).
"Unnecessary." Eliot scooped up the keys off the kitchen counter and headed back out the door. "If anyone calls me within the next 24 hours there had better be someone dying."
"Someone might be if everyone doesn't get out of here soon." Nate mumbled under his breath.
"Nate?" Rebecca joined him by the window that overlooked the busy Boston street.
"Where's my room?"
"Uh, no." He stuttered. "This is my place."
"I'm not staying with you?"
"Uh, Sophie? Are you about ready to leave?" He was looking nervous.
"Nate, you're not seriously going to make me drive all the way back to my apartment now?" Sophie complained without raising her head off the pillow. "It's rush hour! It'll take at least an hour!"
"No, no, no, no." He left Rebecca at the window and moved towards the couch. "And where am I supposed to go?" He whined like a child. "You'll take over my apartment, she'll get the couch and where will I sleep? The kitchen counter?"
"Oh, Nate." She groaned as she sat up. "You're so dramatic." She motioned for the little girl. "Come on, Rebecca. I'll get some sheets and you can sleep on the couch tonight."
"I don't have any spare sheets." Nate growled.
"Yes you do." Sophie replied curtly, moving towards the coat closet by the front door. "I bought some a few months ago. 1500 thread count." She smiled as she pulled them down from the shelf and stroked the soft fabric. "Two sets. You can be so barbaric at times. One pathetic set of 200 thread count in that ugly beige color; you act like a college student."
"What's wrong with beige?" Hardison complained from the kitchen. The group ignored his protest.
"And I'm sleeping where?" he grabbed her wrist to stop her as she walked by.
Her eyes sparked as they met his. "With me, of course." Her gaze was a mixture of teasing and daring.
Nate grew very, very quiet as he watched her march about the apartment gathering a bundle of blankets and pillows.
"Are you planning on leaving anytime soon, Hardison?" he asked suddenly, turning towards the two still in the kitchen. Parker was leaning against the counter and Hardison was leaning against her; both were looking rather sheepish.
"Uh, yeah. On our way out."
"Our?" Nate asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh please, Nathan." Parker scoffed as she scooped her backpack off the floor. "You don't have much room to talk." She gave a pointed glance towards Sophie who was halfway up the stairs.
"Kettles, pots…goose, gander." Hardison grinned as he walked out the front door.
Parker glanced around the room looking for Rebecca who had suddenly disappeared. "Huh." She followed Hardison out the door. "Say goodnight to your kid for me." She called to Nate as she pulled the door shut behind her.
"Parker! She's not…" Nate didn't bother finishing the sentence; the door had already closed and he didn't feel much conviction in the statement anyway.
"So you're my real dad?" Rebecca popped her head from around the back of the couch; her tone was very matter-of-fact.
Nate jumped back as if she had just kicked his shins. "Huh?" He hurriedly glanced at the stairs, monitoring for Sophie who was thankfully still absent. "Hmm." He grunted in response, hoping she would drop the subject. His chest was starting to hurt again.
"You don't know, do you?" She curled up in the nest of blankets Sophie had arranged on the couch. "That's dumb."
"HowthehellamIsupposedtoknow?" he asked himself angrily. "It'snotlikeshetellsmeanything.Sevendamnyearsandshedoesn'tsay…Idon'tknowwhatmakesherthinkshecangetawaywith…justbecauseshethoughtIcouldn'thandle…sowhatifIcouldn'thandleit?Istillhadarighttoknow?Right?Right!Paris…" Nate's thoughts began to drift towards the City of Lights and memories of the beautiful thief who had occupied so much of his time. "ParisinMay,sobeautiful.Shewasbeautiful.God,shewassobeautiful." It had been a difficult time for him; Maggie had just moved out of the house and taken Sam with her. She had told him he was spending too much time in Europe; so much time chasing Sophie. "I'mstillchasingher." Nate noted the irony. "Thisispathetic." He had never considered what he would do if he caught Sophie Devereaux, he had been too focused on the chase. He could never be sure if he had finally caught up or she just stopped running but once he held her they never parted until he got a call from Maggie one week later; the call, Sam was in the hospital.
"It is dumb." Nate finally agreed, sounding rather depressed.
"I guess it doesn't really matter." Rebecca dismissed the subject with a yawn.
"Whatabizarrekid." Nate watched for a moment as she burrowed into the sheets. "She'srightthough." He finally decided. "She'sapartofSophieandI…I...IloveSophie,Ido.Damn,whathaveIgottenmyselfinto?"
Nate turned the main light out, leaving a small hall light on in case Rebecca woke up in the middle of the night, and he slowly ascended the spiral staircase, his mind whirling with every step. . "Issheasleeporisshewaitingforme?" Nate knew Sophie would never volunteer the information her daughter had just asked and he vowed then and there to never ask. He found himself unusually content even in this extraordinary change of events. "Friend,Uncle…evenFather?That'sokaywithme." He walked through the doorway into his bedroom to find Sophie sitting in the middle of his bed, her knees pulled up to her chest, wearing leggings and one of his cotton t shirts. This Sophie pulled at his heart even more than the Sophie he knew all those years ago in Paris, covered in lace and diamonds. "Familiar,soft,warm…loving." He joined her silently.
Her eyes sought out his, wondering how long she had before he started asking questions that could only bring up painful memories. She saw what she desperately wanted to see but had never dared to hope for; satisfaction. He was happy; happy with where he was and who he was…and what he would become with her.