Nate, letting himself fall onto the couch, clicked on the tv before responding. "You could have knocked."

"Thought you'd be working out how to get that slumlord," Eliot replied as he walked toward the kitchen. Opening the second drawer from the right, he pulled out a bottle opener and then headed for the living room.

"It's percolating," Nate said, swirling the Scotch in his glass.

Joining him on the couch, Eliot snapped open his beer and glued his eyes to the last few minutes of the pregame, asking "Where's Hardison?"

"He took Parker to the Met," Nate said.

"The Met?" Eliot asked. "As in New York?"

Nate shrugged. "Hardison thinks they're going to look at art, but Parker heard the museum has a new security system."

As the game started, Eliot's gaze kept bouncing back and forth between Nate and the tv until, about fifteen minutes in, Nate shouted, "What?"

"What do you mean, what?"

"You've been looking at me like I killed your puppy," Nate said. "What is bothering you?"

Eliot took a swig of his beer. "What do you think Hardison's intentions are?"


"You know," Eliot said, gesturing vaguely with his hands. "Hardison. Parker."

"Oh, intention intentions." With a shrug Nate said, "You know the old adage, where there's smoke."

"Yeah, there's fire," Eliot replied, setting his beer on the table and punching one fist into his other hand.

"I was going to say 'there's a smoke bomb,' but whatever floats your boat." With a jolt he sat up. "Smoke bombs." Racing across the room, he grabbed pen and paper off the kitchen counter and started writing furiously.

Eliot settled himself back onto the couch. "How come no one else is ever normal?"