A/N: This be it folks. Last chapter right here. Thank you for everyone who's favorited, alerted, and reviewed and just generally made me feel like I was writing something worthwhile. Special thank yous to those who sent me messages- you kept me writing really fast! I still can't believe I wrote this in a week and a half. Hopefully there will be more Leverage fics and Eliot/Parker goodness soon. I have to hunt my plot bunnies down again. But here's the wrap-up chapter! Enjoy!
Eliot liked the new way a job ended. Before the world had changed they used to all get together for a drink, survey wounds (usually his), razz each other about something that had or hadn't happened, and go their separate ways for a good night's rest before the next con- whether it be something Nate had planned or something that just fell into their laps.
Ella had fallen into their laps and quite firmly into Parker's heart. After Hardison got Mark's chip and Eliot had delivered his two promised punches to Lester's face and left him for Detective Bananno to find, Ella found herself parked in her mothers lap in McRory's, one hand gripping her father, the other signing to Parker. He caught his name sign- an E in a punching motion- and wondered just how perceptive she could possibly be. Perceptive enough, apparently. Parker looked at him, a shy glance with a hint of mischief and pride, then smiled and nodded.
Nate caught the exchange and gave him a long stare but said nothing. Eliot stared right back, making sure his gaze was hard. He knew what Nate was trying to say. He was just glad the 'you'd better not hurt her or they'll find your body in itty bitty pieces at the bottom of the river' speech could be given with one look. And his answer, 'don't even think about giving me that speech' ran into the 'I already know, don't insult me by thinking I don't'. Nate looked satisfied and turned back to his drink.
Sophie rolled her eyes. "Boys, behave."
So. They knew.
He had to wonder if they'd seen this coming and had sat back to watch or knew enough to stay out of it. Eliot didn't doubt either but Sophie severely lacked the ability to stay out of people's business. The Grifter caught his eye and sighed, setting her drink down with a dainty tap. She laced her fingers together in front of her, zeroed in on Nate with her lazer vision.
"I'm going to get a refill," Nate abruptly decided, scrambling out of the booth.
"You do that." Sophie turned her stare to Eliot.
"Wimp," Eliot muttered loud enough for the other man to hear. Nate raised his glass in a salute, continuing his hasty retreat.
Eliot rolled his eyes, counted to ten, and met Sophie's now suspiciously blank gaze. Oh he knew that look. Nate had been on the receiving end of That Look many times, each time proving to be amusing to him. But now That Look was turned to him and he was either in trouble or about to be. This was not going to go well.
"Alright," he sighed, leaning over the table. "Say it."
Sophie tilted her head. "Say what?" she asked innocently.
"The speech you're dyin' to give me about me and Parker."
A small smile, a smile reserved for cons where she was playing a hardass graced her lips. The smile he suspected man lesser men suddenly have to go to the bathroom. Eliot lounged against the booth, the picture of ease, and studied her.
She studied right back, her finger tracing the rim of her glass. "So there is a you and Parker," she said, asking without asking.
That really wasn't fair because a few kisses (he'd lost count at some point) didn't really qualify as a relationship. Eliot wasn't sure what exactly he and Parker were, but it certainly wasn't just teammates or just friends. They weren't really just anything. They were what they were. They could label it later. But Eliot couldn't deny that he wanted it to be something more and hoped with everything he was that she did too.
God help him Tank was going to laugh so hard at him when he found out...
"I can't answer that yet," he replied, fighting to keep his eyes on Sophie and not let them stray to Parker. "Do I want something more? Yes. I'm not gonna use Parker like I used to use other women- I won't insult either of us like that." He downed the last of his beer. "And you wouldn't insult either of us by thinking like that, so I can only assume you just wanted to hear it from me to satisfy your curiosity." He spread his hands wide. "So there you go. Sure, Parker and I have a thing going. No we haven't discussed it. And I'd never, ever hurt her."
Sophie smiled for real then, sipping her fruity drink. "We all know you'd never hurt her. After that little show with Hardison in the hallway how could we not?"
Eliot snorted, the last of the weight gone from his shoulders. "I half think he left his comm in on purpose."
"Probably." The Grifter set her empty glass at the end of the table. "We all care for Parker. This isn't going to be easy and you know it. Hardison isn't hurting as much as he thought he would and I'm okay with it but it's not going to be smooth sailing. It could be," she pointed her toothpick at him, "as long as you don't hurt her," she finished, the most dangerous warning he'd ever heard in her voice.
Sophie actually laughed. "Oh, he saw this coming long ago. He made his peace then." She stood, straightening the hem of her dress. "Don't mess up any cons and he won't even say anything to you."
Eliot watched her go, his gaze slipping from her to Parker. She was waving goodbye to the Lane's, her posture drooped a bit. Eliot stood and made his way to her side, hands in his beltloops, unsure of what to do. Ella apparently knew exactly because she wiggled down from her mother and charged at him. She took his hand, then Parker's in both of hers, her smile so wide everything around them dimmed. She regarded them with the kind of innocence and understanding only a six year old could. And then she covered Parker's hand with Eliot's and stepped back.
"That's how it should be," Parker said as Ella signed.
Ella nodded once, firm, and ran back to her parents.
"How do you say goodbye?" Sophie asked from Parker's other side.
Parker moved her fingers so that they were intertwined with his. "Wave," she said, looking at him. "Just wave."
They all did, standing in a line, a wall of family. Nate and Sophie standing arm in arm, wiggling their fingers. Hardison waving his arm wildly, his grin less pained than he thought it would be. And Eliot ran his thumb across the back of Parker's hand, waving calmly to the family they'd just helped, the little girl who'd seen the truth before he'd been able to admit it.
Now after jobs they still got a drink, but Parker went home with Eliot, her things quickly transferring from her warehouse to his apartment. He'd lost a good portion of his closet to her climbing equipment, a small fire proof safe on the floor beside his boots filled with her most precious things. He liked that safe. Parker had money stashed in it of course, but also a picture of the team, and another picture, this one of just them that he'd never seen before and promptly copied and framed. Parker had even let him stash a few of his things in there. (The code to her warehouse might have been Sophie's real name, but the combo to the safe was his birthday.)
(The pin to his bank account was hers.)
They got hand drawn pictures in the mail from Ella every once in a while. Parker pinned them up on the fridge until a new one arrived, the old one lovingly packed into a shoebox next to the safe. She liked to go past the park Ella played at after school. Eliot often drove her without asking, sometimes making the trip on his own. He liked to know she was okay too. It wasn't often they got to keep tabs on people they'd helped and Ella was special to them all. They'd even spotted Hardison at the park once, helping Ella with a handheld game system. The last time they'd swung by she'd been wearing an outfit that could only have come from Sophie as she hung from the monkey bars.
Ella's family now not only had a mother and a father, but a Hitter, a Thief, a Hacker, a Grifter, and a Mastermind. She didn't seem to mind. Parker was teaching them all Sign Language between jobs. (Eliot was learning the fastest.) She complained sometimes that her ring was too shiny and would distract her from whatever she'd been showing them, but she never took it off. After all, she really did love shiny things. Gold was the best but silver was just as good and she cleaned it every other day to make sure the shine never faded.
He hoped to eventually put a nice diamond on her left hand, but for now the small ring he'd given her for Valentine's Day last year, pure silver that she never took off, served her just fine. It wasn't a promise ring in the typical sense- because nothing was ever typical with Parker- but it was a promise all the same. Parker didn't have to break into his- now their -apartment but often did just because she could, and she'd sparred with Tank the other day (who had laughed himself nearly to tears when Eliot told him they were together) and had thrown him clear across the room in under a minute. Eliot made good on the deal himself and had started avoiding what hits he could. He wasn't sure when he'd started doing it, just was one day aware he came home injured less and less.
Eliot glanced at the little black box sitting in the passenger's seat and wondered how soon it would be before he could rope Parker into another deal, one a bit more permanent.
Life is far from easy, but with a clear head and hands to hold anyone can manage. And when the heart stops beating solely for the purpose of blood and starts pumping for someone else, life became the easiest and the most wonderful and the most complicated it would ever be.