A/N: I have no idea where this came from. Apparently my hands have a mind of their own.
"You have big hands," Parker announces one day. They're lounging on the couch, waiting for Hardison to finish whatever computer thing he's doing and Parker is draped over the armrest, her arm brushing his shoulder, head bent as she examines his hands.
Eliot isn't quite sure how to take that.
He glances at his hands, one slung over the back of the couch near Parker, the other wrapped around his beer. He notices in that second that it's nothing for his fingers to wrap around the entire bottle without trouble, overlapping on each other. He flexes the digits experimentally, suddenly self-conscious and trying not to show it.
"Guess I do," he drawls. He watches her take his hand in her own, holding them together to compare size. "Maybe you just have small hands."
Parker sniffs and sticks her nose in the air. "My hands are the exact size they need to be." She wiggles her fingers against his. "It's my fingers that count. They're light. And swift."
"And long," Eliot notices, tilting his head to get a better look. Her hands themselves were small, almost danity, but her fingers looked like they had an extra knuckle or something. "Musicians fingers." She could play piano or guitar no problem if she could pay attention long enough.
Parker smiles at him. "Pretty fingers for a pretty thief," she says, waggling her free hand at him.
Eliot chuckles and takes a swig of beer. But he doesn't argue.
Eliot's hands were good for death.
He'd been trained by many people, his whole body toned into one dangerous weapon, each muscle a threat. He'd once joked he could kill a man with his thumb in two simple moves. No one knew he was speaking from expirence. Some things they were better off not knowing. Life was better if they weren't watching him from the corner of their eyes, that dark corner of their minds wondering if they'd ever find his hands at their necks.
His mind built a scenario out of that. If someone was choking him what would he do? Easy, wrap his hands around the crook of their elbows and queeze the nerves there. The hands would slack on reflex and he could smash their face in. Two hits and the nose was in the brain and there would be a body on the floor and it wouldn't be his.
Eliot curled his hands into fists, wondering if they were the only reason the team kept him around.
Eliot could use his hands to inflict pain.
And only pain.
He didn't like torturing people, he'd worry about his soul something awful if he did, but sometimes torture was the only option. Information was crucial and sometimes it was deadly. And sometimes, with his hands, it could be painful if it wasn't given truthfully and quickly.
People had begged for death to get away from his hands. Grown men twice his width and three times his height sobbing, pleading for his hands to stop the pain. He'd always gotten the information he'd needed, but his hands never felt clean afterwards, smelling strongly of blood, bleeding themselves as he scrubbed them raw.
Eliot plucked the strings of his guitar with his fingers, humming idly under his breath.
It had been a long time since he'd stretched his hands this way, reaching and twisting them to get that G chord just right, his callouses pleasantly sore when he lost himself in the feel of the harsh metal so long absent from his hands. Eliot paused in his strumming, stunned that his hands had automatically gone where they were supposed to be after nearly (he stopped to count) two years of musical absense.
Parker saw him picking and demanded to be played something, gleefully bounding into the room to plant herself at his feet, eyes wide and sparkling.
His fingers moved without his mind's consent.
"Well I know they say all good things must come to some kind of ending..."
Eliot snapped the latex over his hands, pushing Sophie's bloody ones out of the way to see the wound.
Playfully commenting about him being a wuss, the hitter sorted the needle and thread and prepared to piece their hacker back together. Usually Hardison stayed safe in a command center but a stray bullet had crashed through the window of the office Parker had broken him into. The bullet had just grazed him, but the wound was large enough to need a few stitches.
Steady hands safely closed the skin once more and Hardison was good as new. "With a few new pieces," Eliot amended, peeling off the gloves to wash his hands. Nate joked he was part of the 'Got Shot' club. Hardison demanded they get that new system he'd had his eye on, eyeing Eliot's clean hands as they shot him up with morphine.
His hands may take people apart, but they can put them back together just as well.
Eliot formed his hand into a tight fist, dropping into a fighting stance, watching with eagle eyes as Parker mimicked him.
"No, curl your fingers tighter into your palm." He took her hand in his, arranging her fingers so they weren't digging into her skin but resting comfortably. "Your fingers are so damn long," he muttered. "Okay like that. Now when you swing you want to extend your arm," he ran his hand to her shoulder, the other resting at her hip to urge her to pivot correctly. "Yeah, just like that. Keep your wrist straight." His hand engulfed her wrist without trouble- his thumb could probably wrap around the joint by itself.
They went through a few basic moves, pausing every once in a while so he could correct her stance or balance. His hands went to her hips, her legs, her arms, her shoulders. He wondered what the others would think should they happen to walk in as his hands ran over her tiny frame. Would they believe they were only practicing or would he have to put his hands to work doing what they did best?
"Good Parker," he murmured softly. "Why'd you wanna learn this anyhow?"
Parker shrugged, slugging him lightly in the shoulder. "Just did. More tomorrow?"
His hands twitched in excitement.
Sometimes he wondered if it would be considered odd to be able to handle a knife in so many different ways. Blades were comfortable in his hands. He'd been taught to think of them like extensions of his arms. Sharp extensions that could cut through people as easily at steak.
He passed a few of his teachings on to Parker after she tried sawing through her steak using her fork, giving up and settling on gnawing on it like a starving animal.
"Don't go at it like you're tryin' to stab someone."
"But that's the fun way," Parker whined.
Eliot cut her steak himself, half afraid she'd cut her finger off.
He can't stop the grimace of pain, the hiss of air sucked through his teeth. It wasn't the first time he'd been stabbed and it sure wouldn't be the last, but that didn't stop it from hurting.
The disinfectant burned a fresh hole through his hand and Parker froze. "Did I put too much?" she asks softly, like her voice alone could hurt him. He was so beaten up this time. Holes and blood everywhere. His hands were busted across the knuckles, stabbed and bloody. It was her job to clean them. Nate had protested but she didn't let anyone else close enough to even try.
"Ain't your fault," he said roughly. He hopes she knows he means the con too, but she doesn't smile.
"Yes it is," she whispers. If she'd cracked the safe faster...
She taped the gauze securly across the split skin, running her fingers carefully down his to check for anything he might have tried to hide. Eliot caught her fingers with his other hand, capturing her hand between his and waiting until she met his eyes, guilty blue meeting forgiving grey. Blue looked away, dropping back to the bruises.
"Your hands... you won't be able to cook or play-"
"I'll live," he assured her.
He couldn't bring herself to release her hand even as Sophie stared knowingly and failed to hide her grin.
Eliot's hands were shaking.
Parker'd had something to prove on this con. Last time a new safe had thrown her off by five seconds and Eliot had been forced to handle seven guys. He had a scar on the back of his hand now, so Parker was sneakier than normal (Hardison couldn't even find her with the GPS tracker she was so sneaky), faster than normal, and more nimble than normal. She been in and out of the safe so fast they found themselves with time to spare.
But Sophie and Eliot had slipped up.
It was the slightest of slips. It was so small Nate hadn't caught it until the deal went sideways fast. One wrong word in a story and the mark Sophie was playing was paranoid enough to catch it. Paker had dropped from the ceiling like some kind of black clad angel, right onto the man pointing a knife at Sophie and catching the blade in the gut.
Parker was doped up, patched up, and left under the watchful eyes of the hitter. He'd done what he could. He'd put her back together and sealed her up tight. But now she was laying still on the bed and he couldn't keep his hands steady any longer.
So he let them shake.
Eliot's grip on his guitar slips so suddenly he very nearly drops it. He scrambles to catch it knowing full well that the unsightly sound of strings twanging (and probably the frame breaking) would make Parker stop.
Hardison's hand shoots out at the last second and the guitar halts in it's decent to the concrete floor.
"Blue lips, blue veins, blue the color of our planet from far far away," Parker sang softly.
"Where on Earth did that come from?" Nate asked when she was done.
Parker smiled. "I like Eliot's singing. I wanted to try." She glanced nervously at the hitter frozen in his seat. "Was that okay?"
Eliot's grip nearly broke the neck of his guitar.
"Yeah," he managed through his heart pounding in his ears. "Yeah that was... that was perfect darlin'."
Eliot kept his hands busy and his eyes away from Parker.
She'd come to him. Out of everyone on the team, Parker had shown up at his door to ask for help. He understood why she hadn't gone to Nate, but surely she could have gone to Sophie for this. Hardison even. Hardison loved Parker like an annoying little sister.
So why him? Eliot was no good with tears.
He didn't even know why she was crying. All he knew was she wasn't stopping and she hadn't touched the sweets he'd laid out before her. Not even the cereal. If she didn't start on the Cocoa Puffs soon he was calling it an emergency and dialing his mother.
He was beside her in a second. "What is it darlin'?"
She didn't answer verbally, merely curled into his side like a kitten. She was shaking in his arms and he'd never been more lost. But she'd come to him for whatever reason and he was going to be there for her no matter what. They were a team. They were a family. And it was Parker.
He wiped her tears with his thumb.
He was no good at this, but he rubs her back and pretends not to notice the fresh tears when she hides her face in his chest.
Eliot used his hands to destroy his apartment. Every inch of it. Every shelf was torn down, every breakable thing smashed into pieces, even the walls were dotted with fist sized holes every few feet. He grabbed his couch and flipped it, yelling so loud in his rage the traffic outside very nearly stops. Eliot rips the ceiling fan from the fixture and smashes it repeatedly on the floor.
Damn it all.
His past was supposed to be behind him, dead, buried, and gone. But it had caught up. And it had nearly killed them all. Nate had a nice scar across his chest. Hardison had gotten shot again. Sophie had been followed for three days and very nearly kidnapped and taken god knows where for god knows what. And Parker...
Eliot tore his bedroom door right off the hinges and threw it down the hall, bellowing like some kind of beast free from its cage.
Parker had been taken. She'd been taken and beaten until blood bubbled past her lips and her teeth stained pink and it was hard to breathe. But she'd smiled at him when they'd come for her. She'd looked right at him and smiled like nothing was wrong, like she wasn't scared at all.
Eliot buried his entire hand in the drywall, pretending his tears were from his throbbing knuckles.
Eliot knew he should push her away but his hands betrayed him and pulled her closer instead.
"I like it in your arms," Parker whispered. "It means I'm safe."
Eliot buried his face in her hair and prayed she'd stay that way.
"Parker," he whispered brokenly. "Parker."
Then she was kissing him like he'd imagined thousands of times over the past year but none of them could compare to lips that were warm and firm and real and his hands where in her hair and he couldn't stop kissing her and god why did she feel so right against him?
And for the first time in a long time, his hands brought pleasure instead of pain.
Eliot's hands were weapons. They could kill, hurt, stab, and maim. But they could also cook and make music and hold and comfort and please. His scars were hard to find among the wrinkles and his hands sometimes shook for no reason now, but they could still hold another hand, a much smaller hand with long fingers that fit perfectly against his. And if you looked, you could see two matching rings glinting in the sunlight.