Disclaimer: I do not own Leverage, Eliot, Parker or any of the characters or plot lines you see her. Much of this is what came of my thinking of what kind of situation would have occurred if Eliot and Parker had dated before the Leverage team got together...and this spawned.


The last person Eliot Spencer expected to run into when he agreed to the Dubenich job was his ex-wife.

But there she was, sitting at the table next to Nate Ford like the guy hadn't tried to put in her jail half a dozen times. Mind you, Eliot was sitting across from the guy doing the same thing.

They'd met up at a busy restaurant where you could just barely hear the people at your table, let alone anyone else. They wouldn't be overheard.

He agreed to the job because it was a quick and easy grab with a six figure payout. So he'd showed up at the restaurant and plunked down across from Ford, a little wary that the former IYS agent was playing Eliot's side of the game for once. Five minutes later, a young black guy dropped into the seat next to him and pulled out a laptop, typing away at speeds that made Eliot kind of dizzy.

He'd barely registered the movement next to him when he turned and his jaw fell open. Sitting next to him was his ex-wife.


God, she looked good. Her hair was a little longer and she'd lost a little weight since he hadn't been feeding her regularly (and he knew that meant she was living on a diet of cereal, fortune cookies, ice cream and take out). But her smile when the hacker startled at her sudden appearance made him nearly bite his tongue to hold back from yelling at her and he settled for a small glare.

The meeting flew by pretty quick. They both seemed to have reached the unspoken agreement not to tell Ford or Hardison that they knew each other, let alone how well they knew each other.

A day later and he's standing on top of the Pierson building with his ex wife and a guy he'd known for 24 hours. He watched her throw herself off the roof with a practiced ease and found himself muttering "That's twenty pounds of crazy in a five pound bag" as though it was the first time. She still ran around acting like a crazy idiot, it would seem.

Parker was anxious. She'd never worked with a team or anyone besides Archie before and seeing Eliot again made her kind of nervous. So she ignored Nate and jumped off the building early.

It had been roughly a year and a half since they'd seen each other, three since they split. He'd been glad that he didn't have to work right next to her because he'd still been a little shocked that she was there too, because what the hell were the odds of that happening? He'd probably get totally distracted and end up in a screaming match, which is pretty much what happened the last time they'd met. So he'd focused, ignored her and did his damn job.

While they were riding in the elevator on the way down, Eliot was fixing his tie when she came running into the elevator, her shirt half off before she'd even passed him. He looked away because a) she wasn't his wife any more so he didn't get to see her naked anymore (though he was damn tempted – they may not be together anymore and he may still be really pissed at her but that didn't mean he wasn't curious to see if she was still as hot as she had been) and b) how would it look if a guy who had just met this girl was staring at her like that? Parker in a skirt was a very rare treat that he'd almost never got to indulge in when they were married. But he did really want to turn around, not only to see her, but to double check to see if he had to beat Hardison's face in for looking at his wife. Err...ex-wife. Ex-wife.

She finished changing and he turned to put the leg brace on for her while Hardison applied the fake burned skin to her face. As he was fastening it, he took the time to rake his gaze over her legs. Yup, same legs, the ones that felt damn good squeezing around his waist, the ones that he really loved to throw over his shoulders and...He swallowed back the lustful memories, forced the angry and painful ones to the front and finished up with the brace so he could grab the crutch out of the bag. They limped out the door and into Nate's car, nice and easy.

They split up at the end of the night and he'd been damned serious when he said "one show only". Working with Parker was way too nerve wracking. It was something they'd never done before – they'd agreed that it was way too messy and distracting on a job so they kept working solo gigs during their marriage and they'd come home to each other (and whatever safe house they were living out of at the time). But when she shrugged and casually responded with "I've already forgotten your names", he was tempted to call her on it. No way in hell she was forgetting him any time soon. He'd tried damn hard to forget about her and proven that it couldn't be done.

'Course, he just shrugs and walks away, letting it roll off his shoulders like he isn't torn between choking her to death and ripping all of her clothes off. It's not a sensation he's completely unfamiliar with.

Parker walked away from the job, forcing herself not to think about her ex-husband and the fact that she loved the long hair he'd grown out over the past few years and instead bit back retorts about how he clearly had been keeping busy.

Then the next morning it all went to hell and suddenly Eliot's handcuffed to a chair in a hospital room with Nate and Parker and Hardison in the room next to him. He tried not to wonder if she took any damage during the explosion.

When he suggested taking out the security, he was a little stung when she calls out "Don't you dare! You kill anyone, you screw up my getaway." Eliot bit back a groan when he realized she missed his point. He meant take out as in knock out, not kill. It's just another reminder of the reasons they're not together anymore, a reminder of the chasm between him and her.

His offer to take out the guards really bristled her. Seemed like he was still doing the same crap that he'd been doing back when their marriage ended. It wasn't the killing people she was mad about, it was the way he acted about it.

But Nate's plan worked and they got back to Hardison's apartment quickly enough. Parker's comment that she was more upset that Dubenich didn't pay them made him shake his head and grumble "there's something wrong with you". She grinned like she used to at their little inside joke, and it pulled at the strings in his stomach but he pushed it down.

Nate talked them all into staying and then dragged them to get a Sophie – the worst actress in the world. Eliot was honestly horrified by this woman's acting and couldn't believe it when Nate said she was a grifter. Parker was extremely confused – was Sophie supposed to distract the mark with the really scary poetry stuff?

Back at Hardison's, Eliot had made the stupid mistake of making popcorn to munch on and when he got back the only seat was squashed between worst-actress-ever and Parker. So he sat down and acted like it was no big deal (because it wasn't. Really.)

He put a little extra into it when he was flirting with the mark's assistant, though he was pretty sure it wouldn't make a difference to Parker. They were on the job and he was dressed up like a nerd, glasses and all and for god's sake talking about being a Klingon.

The rest of the job went pretty smooth to his surprise. Sophie kind of evened things out. It wasn't 'til they were carrying the boxes out of the office that he realized that it meant splitting up again and that he wouldn't see Parker for god knows how long.

So when he sees Parker and Hardison follow Nate, he cut across the lawn and made some stupid poke about how Nate would fall off the wagon without the chase. Sophie again, tilted the scale in their favour and apparently they would get a phone call in a couple weeks.

He packed his stuff and took off for a little while. He did a job in New Zealand, then was just finishing the job in Berlin when he got the call to head back in.


Parker walked down the street to the address Hardison had given her over the phone and found Eliot leaning next to the door, arms crossed and watching people go by. She stopped in front of him, not really sure what to say to her ex-husband.

"I was hoping we could talk," he grumbled, then gestured to a bench in front of the building. She hopped over the back and perched on the riser instead of the seat. He sighed and sat down. "How's this going to work?"

She tugged at her beret. "What do you mean?" She didn't look right at him because looking at him made her feel funny.

"I mean us Parker. Are we gonna do this? Work here, with the team and never tell them?"

"I don't want to tell them," she argued. "they'll treat us different. And it's over," she added, quieter than the rest of her statement.

He growled a little, but in the way she'd recognized as the growl that meant he didn't like the situation, not the one that meant he was frustrated with her. She was pleased that she could still tell them apart even after the last few years.

"I want to do this, Eliot." She told him, actually looking him in the eye this time. "I want to be around people for once."

She saw the moment he softened, first in his eyes and then in his shoulders. He nodded and stood up, then moved back to the wall he'd been leaning on before. Eliot didn't hate the idea. He was still mad at the way things ended, sure, but he knew that either way she was gonna act all crazy and go flyin' off buildings and god knows what else, so at least this way he could make sure she was safe. The hitter didn't want her dead after all.

Parker assumed he was still mad, though not as much as he was the last time they ran into each other in Detroit. She knew he blamed her for their marriage ending, even if it was really his fault. And yeah, she was kinda still pissed at him too. It was the reason she'd set the ranch in Texas on fire. The thief wondered how long it had taken for him to find out about that.

He looked good, though. Eliot always looked good. She knew she wanted to try working with a team but wasn't sure she wanted to be around Eliot. Their marriage ended for a reason and she'd had to stay with Archie for two months until she felt okay to be on her own again. She was mad that he'd taken that away from her the first time and was scared that he'd take her independence away again. But she was different and he was different and they were over, so it would be okay. Plus, they had other people to keep them apart now.

The truth was that she wasn't sure which Eliot this was. She'd known lots of Eliots over the years. There was annoyed Eliot, who she met first. He was grumpy and lots of people met him. Then there was flirty Eliot, and loving Eliot who she married and would always be her favourite Eliot because he was smart and sexy and made her feel all warm and squishy inside and he showed her cool things and he just...she sighed and realized she was dwelling.

Slowly though, loving Eliot became scary Eliot which was the Eliot she left because she didn't like that Eliot and she was mad that loving Eliot had left her. And this...Parker decided to call this working Eliot, and she wasn't sure what that meant yet. But she figured she'd be okay, because working Eliot wasn't husband Eliot, and she wasn't in love with working Eliot.

Sophie showed up and started talking, but Parker didn't take interest until Eliot asked what she did with her money that she started paying attention. She knew that he had asked in general to both her and Sophie, but she's a little annoyed that he would think she bought something.

Parker asked the hitter what he did with his payout out of sheer curiosity. Did he fix the ranch she burned up? It was his. Did he buy a new one? Or did he buy a new bike, a new truck, a new wife, a new anything? Unlike her, her ex did balance spending and saving his money. Which was dumb. You couldn't take stuff with you, but money goes everywhere. Though she didn't think she'd like his new wife.

The office was pretty neat. Parker had never had an office before. She didn't love the air vents but it was nice to have a place to actually work. Hardison talked a lot, but she liked it because most people didn't talk to her much and sometimes he was funny. He showed them the really big computer thingy with all the screens. She didn't understand everything he said, but she figured out that it was pretty impressive and then there were sports and then Nate was showing them the army video.

She was surprised when Eliot identified the guns just by the sound. She knew he was good at his job, knew he was an amazing fighter, but she'd never realized the little details – like that'd he'd be able to do something like that.

The rest of the job flew by pretty quick. She was very happily distracted by all the pretty money and then Nate was mean and he wanted to make her give away the pretty money but then the soldiers were really happy so she felt pretty good for helping. And hey, she got to blow some stuff up and explosions were her second favourite thing after money.

She and Eliot seemed to be in agreement that they would stay with Nate and keep trying to be good guys. They also seemed to agree not to talk much, and that was working pretty well for them.

Until Willie called. Suddenly Hardison was debriefing them and Parker had decided this was officially the worst job ever. Horses were terrifying enough, but Eliot had told her a little about his relationship with Aimee Martin and there Parker was, staring at the paperwork in front of her instead of stupidly pretty normal-girl Aimee.

Then, they were all in Kentucky and Parker was trying not to freak out because there were potential murdering horses everywhere. She was really glad she didn't have to spend a lot of time with Eliot during that job because she wasn't sure if she wanted to scream at him or just be sick all over him when he was making eyes at Aimee.

Parker knew that Eliot and Aimee had sex. She'd heard Nate and Sophie talking about it and she had passed Eliot when he was pulling hay out of his hair and it wasn't like she had forgotten what Eliot's after sex-smile looked like. She just...wasn't sure how it was supposed to make her feel. Mostly she was mad because he'd always said that Aimee was a part of his past and here she was right now which was so clearly not in the past. It was extremely confusing.

And then they'd had to go steal a horse and they wanted Parker to go in through the air ducts which she wasn't going to do until Eliot made it all personal and she wanted to answer him by saying "Oh sure, now you need me. Maybe you should've thought of that before you had sex with Aimee!" but remembered that they're not married anymore and she wasn't supposed to be upset. So she ranted a little when she crawled through the air duct until Eliot stopped her, which was good cause she probably would've said something about how stupid her ex husband was.

Sex didn't really mean much to Parker cause it was sex and it was fun and there was that, but Eliot had always said that sometimes sex means something and that when they were together it meant stuff especially when they had slow sex and he said that was about loving the other person so what if he had slow sex with Aimee and it meant something?

Eliot didn't try to say anything to her when they got back to LA and she was glad. She continued being not mad at him and he pretended like he didn't know. So that was good. Sure, we'll stick with that.

They saved the Santa Claus Church and Parker had a lot of fun being an FBI agent and robbing a bank that was being robbed. She loved that about working with the team – she got the chance to steal things that she'd never to get steal on her own.

She and Eliot were a little grumpy with each other, talking as little as possible, and sometimes tossing each other things they needed to exchange a little harder than necessary but they were working so it was okay.

Eliot was a little worried when Nate decided to take on Irena's adoption scam as their next case. When Parker pointed out all of the details she noticed about the boy that proved Luka was an orphan, he had to swallow a lump in his throat thinking about Parker as a kid. She'd never told him a lot about it, and he never pressed her, but he knew she grew up in a lot of crappy foster homes and it really pissed him off to think about that. People hitting kids is wrong. You don't hit kids and you don't hit women unless they're trying to kill you and those were two rules that Eliot lived by, no exceptions.

Parker snuck into the party as a member of the wait staff and found Eliot having a great time flirting with the locals. She tried not to glare at him as she passed him by.

Nate asked her about Irena. "Yes and she's with someone," she hissed back.

"Never stopped me before," Eliot smirked at her. As if she didn't know exactly how much that had 'not stopped him before'. She pursed her lips, Eliot made a face back at her and she walked away, glad to be rid of the tray.

She headed for the outside, needing fresh air and open sky to breathe because she was not in the mood to listen to Eliot flirt with that horrible woman who was mean to children. She was frustrated that she couldn't find the guy Nate wanted her to pickpocket and this was quickly turning into one of those not-so-fun jobs.

And then Irena's scary partner, Nicolas approached her and started talking and Nate was in her ear telling her what to say and she could hear Eliot flirting with Irena on the comms and Sophie coaching him through it and Nicolas was really creepy and he didn't care about the children and it was all too much and she needed to get out. She backed up and grabbed the nearest thing she could. Parker stabbed Nicolas with the fork and jumped out the window, needing to get away.

Eliot nearly panicked when the screaming started and Parker was gone. He figured Nicolas had freaked her out or put a move on her and scared her and Eliot was pissed that he hadn't been there to protect her. Stupid, he thought. I was trying to get a rise out of her and do my job at the same time and I leave her to get grabbed at by some goon.

Somehow he managed to still hook Irena before getting out of there, silently trying to figure out how he was going to find Parker and make sure she was safe. Eliot met up with the team and was discussing what to do now that they were missing a thief when Parker turned up next to them. He wasn't sure how good a job he did of hiding his relief, but at least she was okay.

He got a little swept up in the con and he had fun on the movie set, though if Hardison tested one more special effect while he was around he would've hit somebody. And they grabbed Luka and got him back to his parents, which made Eliot feel really good. He may not have been able to save Parker from the crappy foster homes she lived in, but he'd been able to help save Luka.

Of course, Parker disappeared again and tried to save the rest of the orphanage. Damn woman was going to get herself (and probably him too) killed one of these days. So Eliot drove like a madman to get to the orphanage and help her out.

He and Nate switched the guns and then he went looking for the guards they had posted. It felt really good to beat up the arms dealers. Serves 'em right for abusing kids like that. And when Hardison blew up their warehouse, that was pretty kick ass.

They stop in Paris after they drop the kids off with the World Health Organization, because heaven forbid Sophie be mad at Nate for more than a day without him jumping through hoops to make it better. He'd never been a big fan of Paris. They're a little too liberal for his taste, with the near nudity in their ads, the way they seem to encourage public displays of affection (he's fine with handholding, it's the groping each other in public and not even trying to be discreet that he thinks is rude) and the fact that half the city smelled like urine in the summer. And who in their right mind puts a taxidermy store next to a nice restaurant? Dead rats should never hang in a window.

Nate said they'd only be there for one night, with a late afternoon flight the next day. So Eliot took a long steam shower and figured he'd sample some of the local colour. He threw on a button-up over his wife beater and opened the door to find Parker standing there, bouncing on her toes.

"What?" he growled.

"Are you mad at me?" She asked sheepishly. His growl got a little louder; he hated when Parker tip-toed around shit.

"Shit, Parker, hell yes I'm mad at you. You can't just stab people and run around without a plan and not tell anybody anything!"

She pushed past him and sat down on his bed. "I had to," she said and shrugged.

He looked back at her and leaned against the doorframe. "You're on a team now, Parker. You gotta stop and tell people what's going on," he told her.

"I've never been on a team before," she whispers. He closes the door and sits down next to her.

"Look," he felt his anger ebb and hated it; it's hard to stay mad at Parker because of something she doesn't understand. "Just, next time, just tell me, okay? And I'll come with you. Or tell Nate and we can all help." She bites her lip and nods and he stands and opens the door.

"I'm gonna go steal stuff, wanna come?" She asked.

"Where you thinking about robbin'?" He replied, crossing his arms over his chest. Parker had been thievin' way before he knew her and she'd keep going whenever they split, so there really was no stoppin' her.

"The Orsay. I haven't been there for a long time," she said, hopping up off the bed and skips through the door.

"I'll pass. Have fun, don't get caught."

"Bye Eliot."

He changed in his mind and went out in search of cookware. Knives were always fun to shop for in Paris and you never know what else you'll find. He found a really neat mango slicer that he liked as well some frying pans that looked like they'd do sufficient damage if they hit somebody.

When he woke up in the morning, he found a small stack of French cookbooks on the bedside table. Eliot smirked; he knew a Parker-apology when he saw one.


Sophie's friend Theresa became their next client and they were getting ready to 'steal' the Mosconi wedding. Hardison found him in the kitchen eating an apple and started talking about how marriage didn't really make sense to him.

When the hacker asked him if he'd ever been married, Eliot paused for a minute, thankful that chewing the apple gave him a second to think. He considered saying yes, but then Hardison would ask what happened and he couldn't just say 'oh, you've met my wife, she's down the hall' because that would go to hell fast.

So he told him he'd never been married – easier that way, even if he did feel a little bad for pretending he and Parker had never happened. Hardison gave him that knowing look and said "What was her name?" so Eliot shrugged and went with a generalized version of the Aimee story. He was a little tempted to tell the younger guy that there was some really awesome parts of being married, but mostly he only remembered the coming home to find his wife left him part.

The day of the wedding left them all running around trying to find the money and pull the con off. Eliot was already grumpy because the bitchy wife had spat out his stuff mushrooms and called it 'food court' and Parker ran around in that ridiculous bridesmaid's dress. She walked up the stairs and he had to stop and get a good look at her. She looked kind of silly. Not because it was a dress but because it was probably the last dress on earth Parker would pick out for herself.

The little glare she gave him when he refused to go search the screening room because he was too busy poaching peaches made him want to stick his tongue out at her. She always did bring out the childish in him.

"I'll show you 'BAM!'", he muttered under his breath.

"Uh-huh" she answered back over the comms. He smirked, and was about to make a comment about how she'd never had a problem with it before, but one of the caterers stopped to ask him something – which he was grateful for later.

Eliot was pretty tired after the Butcher of Kiev had nearly killed him, but thought that cooking for the team and for Theresa would be nice enough, so he got to the restaurant early enough to cook up some serious spaghetti.

Parker was the next one to show up, surprisingly. She turns up behind him in the kitchen and he hums, not bothered by her presence that much.

The thief sat in the kitchen and watched him cook. She'd always loved watching him cook and fight – he did both of them so naturally and there was an odd peacefulness to him when he was doing both, in a way. It was the rhythm of them, she figured. After he had finished with all the chopping and was just stirring and waiting, she moved up next to him.

"So, are most weddings like that?"

"Yeah, I guess. I mean, not the getting robbed and the crazy mob stuff, but all the people and the food and the music, yeah."

"Hmm." She thought for a minute. "I like our wedding better," she answered.

"Me too," he said, smiling softly.

Nate and Hardison showed up then and they started setting tables, so he shooed Parker out of the kitchen to go bug them instead.


To be honest, Eliot was worried when Parker went inside the rehab center with Nate. He knew they'd probably throw around pills like candy in there and he wasn't sure what effect it was going to have on her. He was worried cause not only is Parker crazy enough without someone tryin' to rearrange her brain, but what if she was really out of it and told Nate or Sophie they were married?

Just general badness. So he forced himself to clamp down and focus on the job in front of him. And hey, bonus, strippers.

And then there were bombs and Mexicans and Koreans and Chileans and he found sufficient things to keep worrying about Parker pushed to the back of his mind. As a hitter, he was good at multitasking like that.

Parker kind of liked therapy. Nobody had bothered to really ask her why she stole stuff before or why she did anything, really. She started picking pockets when she was younger because she needed money for food and clothes when she had run away from one of her foster homes. But the therapists asked all kinds of questions that made her think about things she never thought about before.

But the drugs made her feel funny. A little like being fuzzy. Parker liked fuzzy things but she wasn't sure she wanted to be a fuzzy thing. Sometimes it was hard to concentrate and sometimes she concentrated so hard that she forgot to pay attention to anything else.

When Dr. Sophie gave Jack a notepad and suggested that he make a list of people he needed to apologize to, it seemed like a really good idea. So Parker asked for a pencil and a pad too.

She sat down and stared at the paper and thought really hard. But the only thing she could really think about was Eliot.

Parker missed Eliot. She had gotten used to him being around again, and that safe feeling she got when he was nearby – like nothing could ever hurt her because Eliot wouldn't let it. Being around him made her miss all the other things being around Eliot used to make her feel and that made her think about how their marriage ended.

Those pills made her think a lot.

She didn't really want to apologize to any of her foster parents; most of them sucked anyway. She did feel a little bad about you know, blowing up her second foster mother's house, but her husband was a drunken abusive meanie who took Bunny away, so Parker blew up their house. It seemed like a fair trade in her opinion, even now.

That left the people that she'd stolen from, which was just funny, and she wasn't sorry she did it. Other than that there was just Eliot.

Parker stopped for a minute to think if she was supposed to be writing Rose's list instead of hers, but she was confused as to where Rose stopped and she started and she didn't know who Rose would want to apologize to anyway, so she decided to go ahead with the apology to Eliot.

So she tried really hard to write a letter, but it kept coming out all wrong and she wasn't sure how much she wanted to apologize for anyway.

I'm sorry for the way things ended. I just didn't like you anymore.

That wasn't right. She scribbled it out and tried again.
I'm sorry that I didn't leave a note when I left because I know that used to make you really really angry when you didn't know where I was.

I'm sorry. I left because you were scaring me and you weren't you anymore. I wasn't mad about what you were doing, but you were so angry when you came home all the time and you didn't want me around, so I left.

I'm sorry the end of our marriage sucked. It's not that I didn't love you anymore, I just was mad because you wouldn't tell me what you were doing and why you were upset all the time and you didn't want to have sex anymore and I just couldn't take it so I left and I'm sorry I didn't tell you.

She got frustrated trying to write the letter so she crumpled it up and put it away in her pocket, thinking she would try again later.

When Nate asked her to break out of the rehab center, Parker refused. "I feel like I'm making real progress here!" She was getting a chance to actually talk about things with people who didn't judge her and she was hoping to get a chance to talk to somebody about Eliot and how being around him again made her all kinds of confused because working Eliot was more like the Eliot she had known before they got married and it made her feel funny because she wasn't as mad at working Eliot as she was at scary Eliot.

So Nate left without her and a new doctor took over for group now that Sophie was gone. But Nate and Sophie were only gone for a day before she wasn't sure she liked the clinic anymore. The new doctor didn't make her feel as comfortable as Sophie did, and how did nobody know what the layout of the Cairo Museum Antiquities wing look like?

So she got checked out and she was really excited to see the whole team waiting for her. She tossed her stuff at Nate and jump-hugged Eliot because she missed him the most. The thief had really missed the way he made her feel like she was safe and she had thought a lot about him when she was inside, so she couldn't help but throw herself at him. He caught her easily enough – he always did – and she whispered "I missed you so much," into his ear and nuzzled into his shoulder. She loved how good Eliot smelled.

Eliot didn't say anything back to her, just looked at the team and asked "When do the happy pills wear off?" She heard Nate say something about a few hours or whatever and Eliot nudged her a little so she hopped off and hugged Hardison because she missed all of them so everybody should get hugs.

They loaded into the car and Parker was between Hardison and Eliot, and she firmly attached herself to Eliot's arm, nuzzling up against him. Nate drove them back to the office and she got Eliot to hold her hand on the way up the stairs as she bounced along beside him. By the time they got upstairs he grumbled "enough, Parker, you're gonna blow it," and she remembered that their marriage was a secret. Which was silly. She didn't think they'd be mad.

Slowly the drugs wore off and as she thought about it more, she remembered that things were still weird between her and Eliot and they had sensible reasons for not telling the rest of the crew.

She was so confused in fact, that she went back to ignoring Eliot so she could try and sort things out in her head. Parker found the list scrunched up in her things and wasn't sure what to do – she hadn't finished it yet, so she couldn't give it to Eliot yet, but she didn't know how to finish it, either. So she shoved it in the closet with some of her older harnesses and ignored it.


Eliot was livid. He couldn't believe that Parker had just put a bomb on the elevator cables like that, while he and Nate were inside the damn elevator.

Nate, he and Sophie were all yelling at her about it when they came back into the office and her only defence was that they hadn't been decapitated so it clearly couldn't have been that big of a deal. Eliot tried to get Sophie to talk to Parker and get her to see reasonably because it wasn't something he'd ever been good at it, he was way too pissed to be calm right now and it would look suspicious if he did it anyway.

So when Nate suggested that Parker actually go to jury duty, Eliot thought it was a terrible idea. Not only for the poor normal people who wouldn't be able to handle Parker, but for Parker who wouldn't know how to deal with the normal people and make small talk, because he knew those things made her extremely uncomfortable, anxious and sometimes it made her feel very insecure about herself.

But Nate was determined that it's a good idea and so "Alice White" was actually reporting for jury duty. Eliot shrugged and hoped everyone made it out alive.

Hardison called him up and invited him to come watch the Cowboys game at the office on the HD big screens. He grabbed a case of beer and whistled on his way into the office. He got there to find he had missed most of the first quarter and sat down between Nate and Hardison. They'd already ordered pizza and wings and it turns out football on six screens was totally awesome.

Nate nudged Eliot and asked him to go check something out with Parker. He wasn't thinking a lot about it when he said sure, eyes flicking from screen to screen – and maybe back to the one with the cheerleaders a couple extra times. 'Til Nate said "now."

"Right now?" And then Nate tried to steal his beer, and no way in hell was that happening. So he locked his beer in his office and grabbed Parker.

Parker and he drove over and then tailed William Quint to the warehouse district where they found Ernshaw's whole set-up. On the drive back, she was curled up in the passenger seat and tapping her hands on her knees, so he knew she felt pretty pleased with herself.

"Thank you," she said when they were about five minutes from the office.

He shrugged. "Nate asked me to."

"You hate when people interrupt you when you're watching football," she countered.

"Whatever, Parker." He grumbled. "You doin' okay with the rest of the jury?"

"It's hard," she answered softly. "You're the only person I was ever good at talking to. It's not like I have any friends," her voice went down at the last part and he sighed.

"That's just cause I accepted that you're bat-shit crazy from the get go," he answered – which was mostly the truth. After her total insanity had stopped confusing him, it had become entertaining. "You'll get better at it," he tried to sound assuring. He honestly had no idea, but Parker was a pretty good learner.

"Mm," she nodded but didn't seem convinced.

"Hey, you've got friends. You've got the team." He added. Sad and thoughtful Parker had always kind of freaked him out. It took all of her natural bouncing away.

"Is that what we are now? Friends?" She asked, looking up. She looked almost hopeful and he swallowed the lump in his throat.

"We're...getting there." She licked her lips and seemed disappointed, looking down at her feet. "It's still really tough, Parker. Moving past it all."

"Mmmhm," she answered again, nodding like she understood but still not looking up from her feet. Eliot pulled into his parking space and she bounced out of the car and up to the office for the briefing. He followed suit.

When Sophie asked him if he'd help her out with teaching Parker some new techniques for befriending the rest of the jury, he was hesitant, but Sophie started talking about how Parker was really uncomfortable and they couldn't risk giving her a com and she half-guilted him into saying yes.

Which is how he found himself holding a green apple and talking at about half his normal speed. "I love apples. Apples are my favourite fruit."

"Good for you, Sparky." Parker was grumpy and frustrated with Sophie trying to teach her all these persuasion techniques. It made her feel totally incompetent and all she wanted to do was jump off a building.

Eliot muttered to Sophie about how he didn't have to do this, but he realized why Parker was snapping at him, so he let it go. "Now convince me that I want the orange, not the apple. I'm gonna take a bite," he told her and slowly bit into it as she watched him carefully.

"I put a razor blade in that apple!" She said in a vicious tone, mere seconds after he took a bite. He spat out the apple and started pulling it apart, looking for said razor blades.

Sophie gave him the eye and said "you fell for that?" before walking after Parker. Clearly she had never lived with the thief before. The woman managed to completely rearrange his fridge, hide all of his clothing except for a pair of boxer briefs that were way too small and way too tight for him to actually wear and let loose four ferrets in one of his safe houses for an April Fool's Day prank, all while he was asleep for only two hours. Hell yes he fell for that.

He sighed and looked back at his apple, deciding to eat it. After all, he did still like apples.

He had some time off while Hardison posed as the new lawyer and Sophie ran game on the mark. He went to the gym, the grocery store and changed the oil in his truck. He read a good portion of his book and most importantly did not think about how his ex-wife was holding up on the jury panel. Nate called him in to help out with Sophie's 'long distance conference call', which worked because Eliot was acquaintances with an actor of Indian heritage who was actually Irish. Eliot promised to buy the guy a round of beer soon and went back to his book.

It looked like they were getting ready to wrap up when Nate called them all into the office. Parker was talking about how she'd miss Alice White and how comfortable her shoes were. Eliot tried to explain that it was just a name, the rest of it was actually Parker, but it didn't seem to click. He was really grateful she never tried to grift on her own.

'Course, then he had to get hit by a freaking car, which he was not thrilled about so Nate could stall and help them win the case – which they did.

When the team gathered to watch pizza and a new football game (partly to make up for the one Eliot lost), Parker had insisted he buy her a burger and fries on the way home. She nudged him when her phone went off. "Look, Alice made a friend!" She was excited and smiling at him and he smirked a little at her.

"I'll tell you one last time, you made a friend." He answered. In truth, he was pretty proud of her – he knew that this had been one of the hardest jobs she'd ever worked, one that had nothing to do with her usual talents.

And he guessed that this 'friends' thing with his ex-wife wasn't terrible. It was complicated and he had by no means forgiven her, but maybe they were on the right track.


One night after one a particularly harsh one of Nate's drunken tangents where he ended up yelling that they only worked because of him and that they should all just shut up and deal with the drunkness, all four of them had fled the office. Parker had been the first gone and Eliot was worried about the way she nearly ran out of the office.

He tried not to think about how upset she probably was considering her history with alcoholic foster parents and tried to stay focus on how he was pissed that Nate was gonna get them all killed. But that blended in with being pissed that he'd scared Parker and before he fully realized it, he was heading towards where he assumed she would be.

It took him fifteen minutes to back-track to the Leverage offices, and five to climb up to the roof by the fire escape stairs. Eliot found her dangling her feet off the edge of the building, kicking her feet up and down. He sighed and ambled over, standing half a foot back from her.

"I think he's getting worse," she suggested softly. The hitter sighed and squatted down, sitting on his toes.

"He lost his kid, Parker. You never get over that," he explained slowly. "It haunts him, I guess."

"I thought you were haunting me for a while," she tilted her head to the side, but didn't look back at him. "Thought you were dead and haunting me and I freaked out so I called John cause if anybody would know if you were dead it would be John and he said you were fine but then he kept bugging me about why I didn't know if you were dead or not and then I didn't want to talk to him anymore. So then I thought that if you weren't dead you couldn't haunt me so maybe you were following me and I tried to catch you but I never did." She swallowed and sighed. "And then you weren't there anymore."

He didn't really say anything, hewasn't sure what to say to that, though the thought that when they had first split he thought he could smell and feel her when he woke up to the point where most mornings he reached for her and that he missed her when he went to bed popped into his head, but never made it past his lips.

"We should help Nate," Parker declared suddenly, jumping to her feet.


"I like Nate. He always finds really cool stuff for me steal that I'd never find by myself. And he finds you people to hit. And we help people now, so why can't we help Nate?"

"Make Nate our next client?" Eliot clarified, thinking harder when she nodded and smiled. "Not a bad idea. Why don't we go find Sophie and see what we can come up with?"

She bounced ahead of him to the roof-stairs access door and opened it, turning to wait for him to walk over. Together they went to come up with a plan.

The intervention that the four of them came up with was mostly Sophie's plan and Eliot didn't like it and Parker really hated it. Eliot thought the cue-card thing was stupid – he'd rather just mull it over in his head and then say what he came to say. Parker didn't really know anything about what an intervention was supposed to be like, and Sophie wrote her cue-card for her five minutes before Nate showed up, so she mostly just read off of it, but Nate didn't seem to get it and she didn't know how to really tell him that she wanted him to drink less and be more Natey.

But after Eliot explained that they wanted to help Nate get revenge, not try to force him into rehab, he came around to the idea...though he was still really drunk and very irritable. Sophie did her presentation on the two Davids, most of which Eliot knew and all of which Parker knew, but Hardison learned some things so that was good.

Eliot and Sophie formed their covers and laid the ground work with Blackpool, and Hardison and Parker would run surveillance from the van. Eliot was actually having a really good time at the party, chatting up this really attractive blonde who had a real brain in her head which was a nice change for once. Parker seemed to hum over the ear buds every so often, but it was easy enough to block out, especially when he got into a playful argument over restaurants in LA.

He did crack a smile though when he heard Parker tell the fake David that Blackpool's vault was going to be his new home, but he covered it by being interested in what Maggie said.

Then Nate called him over to ruin his fun and possibly his chance at going home with a hot blonde for the night, and Blackpool introduces her as Nate's ex-wife and suddenly Eliot felt like a total ass for hitting on his boss' ex-wife. If the roles were reversed and he was hitting on Parker...Eliot would not be particularly happy, or kind. There would most likely be a lot of punching involved. Besides, Nate was way too old for Parker and he'd never get her. So he felt appropriately guilty, and he heard Parker gasp with shock in his ear.

Blackpool decided he wanted Maggie to be in on the authentication of the second David, which forced them all to change tactics a little. Parker was over the moon when Nate told her she got to rob Blackpool's vault, more or less on the fly.

Eliot spun when he heard Parker say that she was in over the comms and nearly bit his tongue in half when she came into his field of vision. He noticed a handful of other people following her with their eyes too. Good God that woman had legs.

Thankfully Parker moved quick and was out of his field of vision long enough for him to bring his focus back to Sophie and Blackpool. Parker called Sophie to meet her with some dark eye shadow so that left Eliot to play host to Blackpool. Nate and Maggie came over to meet them after a few minutes with Maggie saying that she needed Blackpool to talk to some guy with her. Eliot and Nate nodded, focusing on what they could hear through the ear buds.

And what a surprise that was when Parker suddenly whispered "we should pretend to make out". Eliot tried and more or less failed to swallow his grin – she'd pulled that trick on him before and the image of Parker and Sophie making out danced before him. A brief flash of the thief kissing Hardison hit him but he pushed it away, not being too fond of the image.

Parker and Hardison went through into the vault and Sophie came back up to meet with Eliot and Nate. Then Maggie came back and asked to talk to Nate, which left the grifter and the hitter alone with each other. Eliot couldn't resist asking, "Which one of you did she kiss?"

He had a stupid smirk on his face and he knew it but damn he wished he could've seen Parker and Sophie making out. So hot.

Sophie sighed in that aggravated way and looked away from him. A moment later she put a hand on her hip and asked "Do you really think that if Parker and I made out that the security guards would have interrupted us?" with raised eyebrows.

That pretty much shot Eliot's good mood to hell. Not only was his fantasy of the two women on his team making out ruined, but he was stuck with the image of his wife kissing Hardison. He begrudgingly accepted that she had a right to move on, but that didn't mean he wanted to be anywhere near it. It was way too weird.

Sophie was hanging on to every word of Nate and Maggie's conversation and Eliot was damn impatient to get out of there already, which had him growling into the comms to hurry this up already.

They were finally headed out of the party that Eliot was totally sick of by now when Maggie called him back to give him her phone number. She said she wanted to co-ordinate when and where they were going to meet for the authentication the next day, but she had kind of a flirty look in her eye when she said it. Even if he hadn't totally sworn her off when he found out she was Nate's ex, having someone make out with his own ex-wife nearby was enough to make him walk away. But he was polite and he caught up with the others.

Parker was bouncing all over the place, thrilled with her theft of the statue. Hardison was in a pretty good mood because it had been a fun lift. Sophie was a little edgy about the Maggie thing and Nate was drunk and pensive. Eliot was nursing a beer and trying to apologize about the number thing, but Nate wasn't really having it.

Sophie pitched the change in the plan and Eliot didn't hate the idea of screwing Blackpool over even further. Bastard like that deserved to go down hard. Something about it freaked Nate out though, and he pulled Sophie aside. Eliot whistled. Mom and Pop were gonna fight, it seemed.

Parker had a worried look on her face. She didn't like it when Nate and Sophie fought. Granted, they argued all the time because of their past Nate and Sophie-ness but they weren't always really angry with each other. Now they were shouting and half the yelling could be heard through the glass into the conference room. She looked down at her hands and picked at her nails.

The three of them waited out the fight, mostly in silence and taking solace in the companionship of the other two. Eliot sipped his beer and picked at the label, Parker swung her feet around and Hardison was on his laptop as always. After a little bit, Nate and Sophie came out and agreed to go with the new plan, get the money, have Parker steal the real David in transit and swap it with another fake.

After they convinced Maggie it was real ('cause this one actually was), they sealed the deal. Hardison left with the money, Parker took off to get ready to jump the secured vehicle the David would be in. Eliot walked with Blackpool behind Nate and Maggie and he kept an eye on them as they talked. He knew what they were doing – it was the same thing he and Parker did all the time now, that weird trying to find a comfortable space when together thing. So he just raised his eyebrows at Nate as Maggie was leaving, then turned around to go use the bathroom before he left.

When he crossed back through the hangar to head to his car, he found Sterling's spy taking pictures. He was surprised at how well the guy fought, he hadn't been prepared for someone so thoroughly trained, and cost him a lot of damage – couple broken ribs and a concussion. Of course, the guy was still just a flunkie fighting Eliot Spencer, and Eliot Spencer does not lose.

Parker jumped gracefully onto the top of the United Confidence truck and flipped down onto the back bumper easily. She loved stealing things from moving trucks – instead of dealing with security systems, she had the added danger of falling off the car, and getting back out without being noticed could be really tricky.

But when she turned around after closing herself inside the truck, sitting there was Sterling, Evil Nate himself. Sterling strong armed her and had her held by a bunch of goons she wasn't strong enough to overpower, and she felt incredibly helpless. He even took her earpiece from her so she couldn't contact the team.

She was pretty sure they'd come and get her but all she really wanted was for Eliot to show up and kick the crap out of all these guys and hug her and tell her it was gonna be okay. She hugged herself and glared at the men around her, focusing on being patient.

Eliot nearly freaked out when Sterling said he had Parker and Hardison. There were certain things he took personally, and kidnapping or hurting any member of his team meant you had a death wish. But kidnap his wife? Ex-wife or not, that sent Eliot into a whole 'nother range of being pissed off. Unfortunately, he was in no shape to pull of his standard beat up anyone who got in his way 'til he got to his target plan, considering he had a handful of broken ribs, a serious concussion, and his face hurt like hell from the bruises.

He had a first aid kit in the car and he pulling his shirt off and wrapped his ribs quickly, which was about all he could do for now. He hopped in the car and drove over to meet Nate, who texted him an address. The hitter prayed like hell that the mastermind had a plan.

Fortunately, he did have a plan, and though Eliot didn't like that it was Sophie who was going to get Parker, but the plan was pretty sound and he'd get to them as soon as possible in case something went wrong. Not to mention, Nate was gonna need him a lot more to help with rescuing Hardison, who was surrounded by goons.

Thankfully, both plans were successful and the team met up to confirm that they were all going to have to split. No one really said anything; it was something they all knew. They were totally blown. The mark knew all of their faces and they didn't have a plan. Each one agreed to scatter for at least six months and then see what happened, but none of them were particularly hopeful.

Eliot was beyond furious at Sophie. He trusted her, he worked with her and then she conned her own crew. Not only did she con her own crew but she got Parker in serious danger and that was a whole other set of rules you didn't break. And he liked the team, he did. He got to do what he was good at, and he got to help people – which was surprisingly nice. He even had a gig so good he got to make sure his reckless wife didn't get herself killed. And now he was walking away, job unfinished and put to shame by Sterling, of all people.

Parker was quiet, not having much of anything to contribute. She was good at disappearing, better than almost anyone else in the world at hiding and not being found, or else she'd be in a prison in Yemen. But she had friends now, which was something she had never had before and she was slowly making things less-sucky with Eliot because she didn't want him to hate her. She couldn't do that anymore since she had to leave. Stupid Sterling. And she really, really hated leaving a job unfinished.

Eliot headed out and spent some time fixing up the ranch outside of Austin. He was damn pissed that Parker'd lit the thing on fire and since he was in and out so much, he didn't know many construction guys in the area. There was Lou, who had been working away at the damn thing for the past year and a half and his son Carter and Eliot payed them both pretty well, but seeing as how half the damn house had burned before anybody'd gotten to it, it was a slow job. The entire second floor had to be redone, as well as the kitchen, living room, main floor bathroom and the guest room.

He'd met Lou when he first bought the ranch, and his wife Hilary acted as a make-shift housekeeper/groundskeeper for him. She grabbed the mail (which was essentially flyers, since Eliot wasn't registered as anything and had the house under a different name, as usual), looked after his particularly well cultivated garden, and kept everything in working order for when he did come to stay. He told Lou that he wasn't worried about a deadline but that if he wanted to bring in extra guys to help out that if they were good with him, Eliot'd give them a shot. Lou would just laugh and shrug, saying that it was steady work and he enjoyed the regular pay check that he didn't have to think about.

He fell into seam working next to Carter and Lou easily enough and the three had a pretty good working rhythm. He'd been staying in the guest bedroom on the main floor that had been more or less finished when he'd arrived in Texas, and the main floor was finished except for some of the wiring that the hitter wasn't too fussy about. His next goal was to finish the stairs before he started taking jobs again, figuring he'd head out East for a while.

Lou, Carter and he were sitting down to grab a beer after a long day's work when Lou subtly got Carter to leave so he could talk to Eliot.

"Carter, go pick up your sister from dance for me. And help your Ma' with dinner." The twenty one year old kid scratched his head and mumbled, leaving his half-finished beer on the table but not really questioning his father.

"So you gonna tell me, son, or'm'I gonna have to drag it outta ya?" Lou said, his accent a little thicker after a beer or two than it would be normally.

Eliot flixed a glare at the older guy. "Tell you what?" Unfortunately, Lou had known him long enough not flinch or take him seriously when he knew damn well Eliot wouldn't hurt him.

"Where the hell is Parker and how long do you plan to sit here and sulk?"

He growled and took a sip of his beer, licking over his teeth as he set the bottle back down. "You already know all that. She's gone, burned the house down 'cause she was pissed at me, and I aint sulkin'."

"You didn't chase her down yet?"

"I've seen her. We're done, moving on." Eliot glared at the old man's chuckle.

"You're stupid, son." He growled and the carpenter just grinned some more.

"You do realize I pay you, right?"

"I seen people move on, and you aint done it."

He shook his head and picked up his beer. "I'm doing just fine with the ladies, Lou." Hell, he'd gone home with what's-her-name from one of the bars in the city just last week.

"Yeah, cause that's always been so hard for ya'," he shrugged. "'M just saying what I see. Hilary's said so too. Like you're lost and ya don't know what ta do with ya'self."

Eliot rolled his eyes and reached across the table, "And that's enough for you," he said, snatching away the beer bottle.

"Ha ha. All 'm saying is that sometimes marriage sucks. I been married to Hilary for near forty years and I know that better'n most. And in my humble opinion, you and Parker aint done yet."

Eliot groaned and rubbed his eyes with his fingers, slumping back into his chair. "We sorta...been workin' together for a while, her, me and a couple of friends for most of a year and being around her again is...weird."

"Weird, confusing and makes you debate whether you hate her, miss her or are just damn ready to move the hell on, right?"

Eliot raised an eyebrow at the man's insight. "B'fore Carter and Sarah were born, Hilary and I went through a rough patch of fightin' all the time and I thought one of us for sure was gonna walk out and trying to work through it again was hard as hell. Felt like I loved her, hated her and was left wondrin' where the hell the woman I married went all the time, on a damn loop." Lou explained.

He grunted his agreement and slid Lou's beer back over to him. The older man nodded his thanks and drained the rest of the bottle, then set it back down on the table.

"I just...while we were workin' together...I thought I was over it, you know? Before we met up again. I thought I was doing great, playin' the field and workin' and enjoyin' myself, and then she walked back into my life and wham," the hitter admitted, hanging is head a little. "And now...it just feels so unfinished. We didn't even finish our last job," he added.

Lou grinned. "So start there. Maybe you just feel like too much is left open and you gotta close some more doors b'fore ya can open new ones. Maybe it's not all about Parker and you are doin' better than you been thinkin'."

Eliot rolled that over in his head for about another month before realizing it was damn sound advice and with the stairs fixed up, Carter and Lou would keep on trucking without him. So he packed up and caught a flight back to LA to finish what he'd started.


Parker kept busy by finding new things to steal, but they weren't as exciting as the werid things Nate found her to steal. No one else wanted her to rob a bank that was being held up, or asked her to hang from a ski lift, or eight million dollar statues with only two hours of surveillance for prep. Everything else was the same ol' here's somethin' shiny, go steal it. She did get a chance to steal three Fabrege stone-carved animals, and she decided to keep the little rabbit for herself, partly because she liked him and partly because it was a fake (though the idiot museum curator had apparently missed that) so it wasn't worth much. She'd originally only been hired to steal the pig, but she stole all three and sold the horse to her buyer for an increased price.

But it bothered her. She couldn't remember leaving a job unfinished where she'd been forced out. Jobs had failed back in the early days before she'd finished her training but it'd been near fifteen years since she'd been forced to walk away from a job.

And walk away from her friends. For the first time, she'd had friends and she had to leave them and be alone again and she was almost done being mad at Eliot and convinced that he was good-Eliot and not scary-Eliot anymore and that maybe they could be friends when Sterling screwed it all up.

Sterling! He was the worst part because he'd scared her and trapped her and ruined not only the job and the team but she was a little scared of doing truck heists now and she loved truck heists. Stupid Sterling.

So she made up her mind; Sterling was not getting away with this. Blackpoole was a mean man and so was Sterling so she was going to hurt them and do what she'd meant do; steal both Davids.

Parker went to the museum with her notepad to start getting the information she needed and was about two hours into it, measuring the distances from the walls to the various paintings when the woman standing in front of the painting she was running calculations for spun around – Sophie! She started whisper-fighting about how she was here first and Sophie should leave when she heard the noise from above her and looked up to see – Eliot!

"Hey!" she shouted, mostly shocked to see him. It made sense that Sophie was there because she and Nate had their weird past and so Sophie would want to fix this and Sophie was kind of the woman who wanted the Davids in the first place.

But Eliot...something in her was glad that Eliot came back. Did that mean that he felt it too? How right they were? They the team them, not they the couple them, because obviously they weren't right anymore but she wanted the team to be right and maybe that's why they all came back – because they were supposed to.

She turned her head and more guards were coming so she ducked around the corner and then flipped over the balcony down onto the first floor in front of Sophie. She shushed Sophie's questions and they started running. When they had to double back to get away from yet another set of guards, Eliot and Hardison joined them. And Nate was there and it was just perfectly like old times and how it should be.
Nate drove them to Hardison's empty-ass safe house, which Eliot couldn't decide if it was a brilliant or an idiotic place to call 'safe'. He glared at Sophie and walked away from her and Nate, mulling over in his head what it meant that all five of them were back when he only came to finish the job so he could clear his head.

Sophie got all mad when he asked Nate if she was in on it, and that started him yelling at her about how you don't con your crew and you don't put your people in the line of fire – bottom line. Nate managed to distract them all back to thinking about the job which now was damn near impossible since he freaking told Sterling that they were coming, though Eliot had to admire the guy's guts.

So they got down to discussing the problems, each one shooting the other's ideas down until Nate pointed out the restoration room. Parker mentioned Maggie twice, which Eliot didn't understand until Hardison caught on. He was damn rusty at de-coding Parker-ese, it would seem. And Sophie was ragging on Nate for forgetting the 'ex' part of 'ex-wife', which made Eliot shrug 'cause he forgot that part all the time. He didn't like the idea of calling her up and using her though, because as much as he liked Maggie, ex-wives were off limits. He also thought maybe he should tell Hardison that...with a few extra punches for emphasis.

Parker didn't really like the idea of sending Eliot on a date with Maggie. That wasn't what she wanted at all when she brought up Nate's ex-wife but the rest of them took off with that plan and left her to silently pout. She didn't care who Eliot slept with cause sex was sex but she didn't want him to date and actually like someone like Maggie who was pretty and smart and normal and totally unfair. Not only did she now have to deal with the knowledge that Eliot was on a date but she had to watch the damn thing too.

Eliot was pretty nervous for his date with Maggie as he waited at the table for her to arrive. Going out on a date, while not something he did very often, was pretty damn easy for him (he had a southern drawl for God's sake), but going on a date with your boss' ex-wife while your ex-wife and said boss and the rest of your team watch through your button-cam in a van less than forty feet away...gives a guy nerves. Especially since he was on comms so he could hear everything they were saying too.

So he sat there trying to figure out something to say while Maggie bashed on Nate, even hitting a little below the belt on the prom night bit before she abruptly stood up and walked over to the van, leaving him trailing behind her pouting.

Nate and Maggie fought in Hardison's empty living room (if that was supposed to be a living room, anyway) while Eliot sat next to Hardison on the stairs with Parker leaning against the stair railing. "I feel used," he muttered, still pouting. Since when did a woman not want to be on a date with Eliot Spencer?

Parker rolled her eyes, huffed, and went over to Sophie. Eliot shot his ex-wife a look that clearly said "what the hell are you pissed about?" but she just glared back and then Nate chased Maggie outside. Parker turned on her heel and flounced away and Eliot got up and took the opposite route, hoping to catch up with her. He found her in Hardison's mostly empty kitchen which was stalked with nothing but junk food. Parker was munching on fortune cookies and sitting on the island.

"What, Parker, I can't date now, is that it?" He asked, being a bit harsher than he needed to be, on reflection.

"You can date all you want, Sparky, doesn't mean I want to watch it," she added. He paused and ran a hand through his hair. Yeah, okay, knowing your ex was dating or making-out, in Parker's case, with other people kind of sucked but watching it probably had to be extremely hard. Even if it was fake dating or fake making-out.

He mumbled something about backing off and walked away to try and find something to either hit or fix, she figured. Parker went back to munching on fortune cookies and not thinking about whether or not Eliot wanted to date Maggie.

When Nate finally talked Maggie into listening to the plan he gathered up the group to brief. It was a little old school, with boards and maps instead of computers. Maggie thought the plan was insane, which Parker thought was odd because clearly the plan was totally awesome and she was going to get to have so much fun. But she kept an eye on Maggie, trying to figure out what Eliot liked about her. She smelled her when she got the chance, she smelled like some fancy perfume that Parker would never wear. Maybe that was why Eliot liked her, because she was all classy and normal.

And then Maggie thought that they couldn't make the professor guy move the sarcophagus and she had to giggle, because she was all so naive and unknowing like a little child, it was totally cute, in Parker's opinion. But she decided to help them, so Parker figured she was okay, but she didn't think she wanted Eliot to date her.

Eliot and Hardison watched and monitored comms and cameras while Parker switched Professor Lloyd's allergy medication and slipped Maggie the cell phone and Eliot was really entertained by the way Nate and Maggie more or less distracted each other.

He was calibrating the pulley for Nate's harness and was really glad Parker'd taught him how to do all that stuff years ago and that he used to help her with her equipment, because it made this go a lot faster. Sophie came over him and started into her lame-ass half apology that he didn't really buy; though he slipped up a little when he mumbled "I was just getting used to it."

"What, having an office?" She asked.

He swallowed. He had kind of been thinking he had just been getting used to having Parker around again, but he answered "being part of a team" because that was pretty much true as well. She looked appropriately chastised so he figured he'd lay off of the guilt trip for a minute but he hated that she apologized to him last when clearly he was the most pissed off (that tended to happen when you took a generally grumpy guy and put his wife in danger). But they posted the Harland Leverage III painting up and it felt kind of like they were all good again.

They all snuck in under their various guises to get ready for the lockdown. Predictably, the building was evacuated and Hardison locked everybody outside. Parker was so proud when Nate jumped from the roof, even if his landing was pretty shaky, she figured she'd taught him well enough. She'd showed Eliot how to rig the pulley system to release the rope after landing so the guards couldn't follow them down. As a group, the four snatched up and moved everything into the basement except the two Davids and waited for Nate to come and get them while they sat in the room behind the restoration room. Parker studied the Vermeer, wondering for the millionth time why "Girl with a Pearl Earring" was so damn popular. She caught Eliot's eye, grinning, and he smirked back at her, nodding his head a little. They did a great job.

The five gathered in the airport hanger after they had finished placing the artwork into the shipping crate in the loading dock, all packed and ready to go. Eliot's bike was parked in the corner, and the rest had arranged private planes to head wherever they were going.

"We had a good run," Eliot said, nodding. Splitting up was the best thing for everyone, so he was going to ignore the weird grumble in his stomach that was shouting for him to stay.

Hardison added, "It's a good time to move on," but looked at the floor when he was saying it.

"I'm going somewhere..." Parker started and realized that she wasn't sure where she was going. She wasn't sure she wanted to go anywhere else. "Else," she finished vaguely.

"A fresh start," Sophie chimed in, smiley sadly but unable to look anywhere but at Nate. Funny, Eliot thought, since he could look at any of them but Parker in the eye, more or less.

Nate tried to comfort them by telling them that they'd done good work and to remember that. Hardison asked Parker where she was going and she just shrugged and said "Let's see how hard you look." Eliot smirked at that – nobody found Parker unless Parker wanted them to find her. He knew that from damn well enough experience.

So they turned and each walked in their five distinct directions with heavy steps. Parker forced herself not to cry. She had just gotten her family back and she was losing them all over again. And Eliot...she wanted to fix things with Eliot. They were supposed to be in each other's lives, she knew that now, maybe not married, maybe not even together but everything inside of her heart was screaming for her that she should be getting on the back of a motorcycle, not into that plane. Eliot would keep her safe and she would have someone to understand her and to talk to her and to help her if she needed it. But he didn't want her that way, so her heart wasn't winning this time.

Eliot walked away slowly, heading towards his bike. Being part of a team was nice, but being part of this team was right. In so many ways. He'd found a family here – Aimee was right about that – and he could feel a hole ripping its way open and he knew, just knew that hole was where Parker belonged. He shook his head and mounted the bike, pulling his helmet on all the while reminding himself that he's not supposed to love her anymore.