A/N: New Fandom for me. I don't know why but I love Parker and Eliot as a couple. They just... click for me I guess. I see Hardison as her big brother. But anyways, here's my shot at Leverage. I hope I didn't destroy it too badly...
Hardison watched with a raised brow as Parker danced into the room, bounced past Nate and Sophie, slid a circle around Eliot, and skipped merrily down the hallway. Eliot blinked then suddenly took off after the blonde.
"Give me back my wallet!"
Parker squealed somewhere in the depths of the offices. Breathless laughter and the sound of something breaking followed, then the ceiling creaking as Parker crawled away inside it, Eliot following her on the floor, running nimbly through the office without looking where he was going.
Nate shook his head. "Just another day at the office."
Eliot was amused, and slightly mystified, at the sight of Parker's tattoo. She had stood after a mission rundown and stretched, her arms high above her head, shirt hiking up and pants drooping ever so slightly so that the smooth skin of her stomach and the jut of her hips was visible. And words in black ink standing out against her pale skin.
"What's that say?" he could help but ask, flushing slightly when he realized he'd spoken and therefore been caught staring.
Parker shimmied her pants lower so he could see.
"Dance through life," she told him before she did just that out into the hallway.
Hardison's tight voice came through their comms slightly higher than normal. He was safely parked in a van two blocks away from their mark's building but he had access to the cameras and could therefore see everything they did. So he had seen Parker run into the men hiding in the construction equipment. Men with guns. Men that had tried to shoot her, then managed to grab her and push her off the building.
"Parker? Parker you alright? Parker!"
Eliot's hand was firm around her wrist, his arm winding around her waist and pulling her up and back onto solid ground where her feet touched concrete. He held her steady and she answered slightly breathlessly but firmly.
"I'm safe. Eliot's here."
No one was sure where Parker had gotten the cotton candy but it had been promptly devoured by her. Now she was hyper, literally bouncing off the walls. And the furniture. And the ceiling. And once off Hardison, who nearly dropped his orange soda and swore violently. Nate had locked himself in his office but he knew it wasn't long before she appeared from nowhere and destroyed the place.
Sophie was laughing (Eliot suspected she had given the sugar coated sugar to the thief) and avoiding the hyper blonde in her own office.
They got suspicious when it got quiet and carefully ventured out, exchanging glances when they realized the silence was natural, not the Parker's-sneaking-around-again kind of quiet. Nate and Hardison rock paper scissor-ed who would peek into Parker's office to check, Nate grumbling when his rock was covered by Alec's paper.
He opened the door and stopped dead in his tracks.
Parker had crashed, as one often did when one consumed nothing but sugar, but she had crashed on Eliot, the hitter pinned on her couch, lightly dozing himself. But that wasn't what had stopped Nate. It was the way Eliot's arm was wrapped around Parker, keeping her still against his chest. It was the way Parker, the never ending ball of motion Parker, was perfectly still against him.
He shut the door and shooed the others back to their offices.
Sophie was a master at noticing things. Everyone had tells, as Eliot called them, and Sophie had honed her skills to notice the smallest of them. Some people had twitches, some tucked their hair behind their ear, some smiled crookedly, some kept eye contact. There was a wide variety and, unless you knew where to look, you could miss them very easily. Sophie hardly missed any tells no matter how small, whether it be a slide of a finger, the shifting of eyes-
"Darlin' if you don't get off that table you're gonna hurt yourself."
"I never fall."
"Honey you're gonna jump and I ain't gonna catch you."
-or affectionate terms given to crazy thieves.
"Nate! Nate Eliot's hit, there's so much blood, he's bleeding everywhere-"
"We saw, we're on our way now. Stay calm Parker. Put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding."
"Easy darlin'... just a few holes..."
"Why did you do that?"
"It was my bullet. He was aiming for me. I saw it."
"You're not supposed to get shot! You beat up the bad guys and sometimes get scratched but you're not supposed to get shot. Not ever!"
"You jump... off buildings... I'll worry... about... bullets..."
"Pressure on it Parker. We're almost there."
"Hurry. He's stroking my hair. That means he's delusional right?"
Parker was off. Eliot wasn't sure how he knew it, but he knew it. No one else had seemed to notice, but she was definitely different. Quieter. Still in her seat. She was holding herself rigid, spine as straight as a board. Eliot stole glances out of the corner of his eye, quiet until Hardison finished his information rundown. Nate would start on everyone's parts soon and he had to act fast before Parker was assigned something.
"Parker's hurt," he announced to the room at large.
Three heads turned as one to pin Parker to her seat with their eyes. She squirmed in her seat, not looking at any of them, minus a glare thrown his way. Eliot wished he hadn't been right.
"You can't lift your arms above your head," Eliot began, "you didn't slump in your chair like normal, and you've been sitting stiff like that since the meeting started." He spun her chair so she was facing him and he could look her in the eye. "You've broken your ribs."
Parker opened her mouth to deny it but Eliot's steady gaze told her he wouldn't buy anything other than the truth and she caved, admitting yesterday's round with the butt of a gun in the gut might have cracked a few bones.
"Okay, Parker will stay here with Eliot-"
"Because he can get her to sit still, and if he can't he can take her punches. Now this is what we're going to do. Sophie how's your French?"
"Why do people do that?"
Eliot and Hardison glanced up as one, following Parker's gaze to a young couple sitting on the bench a few feet from them. At first Eliot didn't know what she was talking about, but he then realized the couple's hands were tangled together, fingers idly stroking the other's palm or hand.
"Hold hands?" Eliot asked.
Parker nodded, ponytail bobbing as she continued to watch the couple with undisguised fascination. She glanced at her own hands, then at them, clearly waiting for an answer.
"Well," Elliot started, glancing at Hardison who raised his hands and began backing away. "It's a sign of affection. When two people like each other they hold hands sometimes."
"But why?" Parker demanded. "Are they afraid the other person will leave?"
Eliot considered that for a minute, marveling at the childish question with a deeper meaning.
"I guess they might be darlin'." He stood, slinging his bag over his shoulder. "Sometimes they do it just so the other person knows they care."
Parker accepted that and took his hand, then Hardison's, as they made their way past the couple and into a locked building to steal some evidence.
Eliot always kept his calm when fighting. Once you got angry you got stupid and that's when you made mistakes. It was a rule all fighters knew. It was a rule Eliot lived by. Anger often simmered just under the surface, his control pushed to the limit as he tried to keep his composure, but fighting was a different story. He was a different person when he fought, all cold calculation and lightning reflexes. Their jobs couldn't afford mistakes so Eliot couldn't afford to be angry.
So Eliot did not get angry at the site of Parker backing away from a knife. He did not get angry when he saw the blood dripping down her arms. He didn't allow his feet to make noise as he ran, catching the knife that surely would have killed her before it could so much as touch her again. He kept calm right until he saw the bastard's smug face, his stupid grin. He'd liked hurting Parker. He'd enjoyed making her bleed.
But Eliot still did not get angry.
He got furious.
Eliot caught a snowball in the back of the head as he started into the Leverage building. Turning to try and catch sight of the kid made him catch the next one in the face. Yet another pelted him in the shoulder before he heard a giggle that could only be one person.
"Parker!" he bellowed but couldn't stop the grin.
He scooped up snow and tossed it at her before he thought about it. She shrieked, ducking to avoid his rapid fire before she could get off another shot. Eliot snuck up behind her and stuffed snow down her shirt, laughing at the dance she did. He turned tail when he saw all the premade snowballs in her arms.
Nate found them in the parking lot twenty minutes after the meeting was supposed to start, laughing at the top of their lungs, and found he didn't have the heart to stop them.
"Security coming around the corner," Hardison warned them. "You guys changed yet?"
Parker shimmied out of her black jumpsuit and into the black skirt, hastily buttoning the red shirt and tucking it forcefully into the waistband of the skirt as she stepped into the heels. Her mind was spinning trying to come up with a plan. She, Nate, and Eliot had just run down fifteen flights of stairs with guards right on their tail. Nate had managed to duck off a side exit with the files they needed under his arm but Parker and Eliot had kept running as bait.
Now they were changing clothes in hopes of throwing the guards off enough for them to breeze past. Parker let her hair down and shook it, handing the rubber band to Eliot who had shed his own black garb in record time. Eliot gathered his hair at the nape of his neck and haistily tied it. Parker pulled out two sets of glasses, shoving one pair on herself and the other pair onto Eliot's nose.
"Guys they're gonna know it's you. Do something quick."
Parker kicked their shed clothes out of sight and turned to Eliot, expression betraying concern. If they were caught now it was all over, files or not.
"Sorry 'bout this," Eliot murmured quietly.
It was her only warning before she was in his arms, his mouth gently sealing over hers. Parker was still for a split second, then her arms were around his shoulders, angling their heads better so their noses and glasses weren't bumping.
"Uh guys? The guards have passed," Hardison informed them. "... guys?"
"What the hell were you thinking?" Eliot growled, fury breaking the surface even as he ran forward and gently gathered her in his arms. His hands were already stained with her blood. God there was so much blood. "Don't you ever do that again, you hear me?"
"My turn," Parker wheezed.
Momentarily thrown, Eliot could only blink. "What?"
"To protect you," she said with a cough. "My turn."
It rocked him to his very core but couldn't staunch the fear the coursed freely through his veins.
He held her closer and whispered into her hair. "Parker, Darlin', when it comes to protecting it's always my turn, hear me?"
Nate had thought it was a good idea to teach Parker and Hardison and Sophie to fight. He knew enough but Eliot knew more and now there were twice weekly sparring sessions for everyone. There was a little groaning and complaining but they all went and seemed to enjoy it for the most part. Parker especially.
Parker was quick and she was nimble and very good at getting out of holds. Eliot had rolled her, tossed her, and pinned her. Parker pouted and tried to wiggle out of it but his grip was strong- not enough to hurt her but she definitely wasn't going anywhere. Eventually she stopped struggling, silently admitting defeat.
Eliot grinned down at her. "I gotcha now."
Nate wondered if they knew how true that was.
Hardison was aware. He saw things, knew things, looked up and pieced together what he wasn't sure on. Despite the grumbling and threats from the others, Hardison kept tabs on everyone, which lead to his awareness of two things. One: Eliot ate way too much Chinese food. In the past week he'd been to Wong Fu's, a little organic place on the outskirts of the city, five times for dinner and twice for lunch.
Two: Eliot was hiding something. And Hardison was pretty sure it was a girl. The hitter had visited several nice restuarants in the past few weeks, the movie theater, and even a jewlrey store. Probably more but his credit receipts stopped there.
Now Hardison loved snooping but he knew there were limits. He didn't often pay attention to them, but he knew the limits were there. He also knew if Eliot was serious about the girl he'd bring her around eventually. Until then, Hardison decided a bit of light teasing wouldn't go amiss, though he'd have to be careful not to tip Eliot off.
"I'm hungry," Parker declared suddenly, appearing from her office.
Eliot had his keys in his hand and paused by the door. "Need a lift?"
Hardison narrowed his eyes, studying them carefully and noticing the sparkling object around the blonde's neck. "New necklace Parker?" he asked casually, grabbing his soda and taking a swig.
Parker nodded happily. "Gift," she chirped. "Wong Fu's!"
Eliot shook his head. "No way. You've been there every day this week."
Sophie came in later to find Hardison sitting with his mouth hanging, his eyes wide, and drink lifted halfway to his lips, stiff from what could be nothing other than utter shock.
"No," Parker decided, marching down the hall and into the meeting room. An amused looking Eliot followed, stopping a few feet from the pacing thief. He shoved his hands in his pockets, watching with a smile as Parker gathered her thoughts.
Sophie blinked at them. "No?" she asked. "No what?"
Eliot's grin nearly split his face. "Oh, she doesn't believe me."
Parker shook her head. "No way. Just not how it works. There are rules Eliot Spencer," she jabbed a finger at him, "and you follow rules."
"Since when?" Hardison muttered.
"Yeah but you don't," Eliot shrugged. "Figured I'd try it your way for a bit."
Nate watched his hitter and his thief, hiding a smile by taking a swig of beer and pretending to watch the game on the only screen fully visible.
Parker shook her head again. "Nope," she said cheerfully. "Nu-uh."
"Yup," Eliot counted. "Parker, Darlin', it's true."
Parker threw her hands in the air. "But why?"
Eliot shrugged again. "Dunno. But the fact remains that I love you. It's not gonna change anytime soon."
"But," Parker blinked. She looked lost. "Just... no... can't be..." she turned and walked out of the room, Eliot casually following her out, whistling under his breath.
Sophie took a sip of her wine. "Twenty dollars says they're married by next year."
"Fifty on September," Hardison countered.
Nate sighed and reached for another beer.