Summary: Valentine's fic for Parker and Eliot. Comment fic prompt: Parker & Eliot, if she pickpockets him one more time...
AN: Why is it that when it says, "Parker/Eliot" or "Eliot/Hardison" in the prompt, I write a Parker & Eliot or Eliot & Hardison story, but when it says, "Parker & Eliot," I write a Parker/Eliot? Strange…
Parker/Eliot, and briefly-mentioned Nate/Sophie and Hardison/OFC
Schmoopy? Oh, yes. Very much so.
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The Unrepentant Pickpocket
"Pickpocket me one more time, Parker. See if you like what you find," Eliot growls.
Frankly, if she was someone else, she'd be shaking in her lime-green Converse, but she's not anybody else - she's Parker - so she grins at the hitter and flounces away, Eliot's billfold safely tucked away down the front of her shirt.
Still, that scowl makes her think. Was he really mad at her, or was he just growling because he likes her (Sophie told her once that that's what Eliot's scary growl really means, and Parker is inclined to agree). She ponders, and thinks, and when she can't come up with a good answer, she swings on over to Hardison's to see what he thinks. (Sophie would be the best choice, but she's having a sleepover at Nate's, and Eliot had told her not to bother them when they're sleeping together. Only, most of the time, they're not really sleeping, but just making funny noises and jumping on the bed.)
"Do you think Eliot would booby trap his pockets?" she asks, startling the hacker and making him swallow his orange soda down the wrong pipe. She waits patiently while Hardison sputters and coughs and pounds at his chest to dislodge the carbonated beverage.
"What?" he says when he can speak again, "Why? Did you pick his pocket again?"
This has long been an ongoing bone of contention among the Leverage team members; Parker has sticky fingers, and no amount of shouting, whining, conning, or hypnotizing could make her stop pulling things out of their pockets.
"Yeah," Parker replies, "and he growled at me. Do you think it was a 'something's wrong with you' growl, or a 'stop it right now this instant or I'm gonna kill you' kinda growl?"
"He wouldn't really kill me, though, right? Sophie says he likes me," she muses. "Yeah, he likes me. Thanks, Hardison! You really helped."
With that, she jumps back out of the window she'd come in through, leaving a very confused hacker in her wake.
. . . . . . . . . . .
Hardison would have forgotten all about that late-night visit, if Parker hadn't decided to pick Eliot's pocket again a whole two days later.
They're having a meeting, and Parker's sitting next to Eliot, his arm draped around her. The fact that Eliot and Parker are together, and have been for about two years, doesn't bother Hardison as much as you'd think; he's got his own boo now, and she can talk "technobabble" (as Eliot calls it) as well as any hacker. He's good. Only, if Eliot hurts Parker in any way, he's got a world full of hurt comin' his way, in the form of annoying telemarketer calls 24/7, five minute-long red lights at intersections, and not being able to withdraw his money from the bank, ever. And a few other tricks, but he ain't tellin' what they are.
Hardison's going over the case, telling them about the client and the mark, when all of a sudden, there's a tinny sort of music that doesn't sound like it comes from a cell phone. The way Parker gasps gives away who had caused it. Then, there's a snapping sound, as whatever it was is closed, and Parker gapes at Eliot, who looks…amused.
"What was that?" Hardison asks, not being able to stand it any longer. "Did you booby trap your pocket? With music? That's actually kinda smart."
"Well," Eliot says quietly to the thief, "like what you found?"
"Why?" Parker asks, sounding…scared, which makes Hardison's hackles rise; no one's allowed to scare Parker like that, not even Eliot. Especially not Eliot.
There's a small smile fluttering around the hitter's mouth, which doesn't make a lot of sense. "Why d'you think, Parker?" he asks softly.
Parker looks down at whatever's in her hand (Hardison can't see from where he's standing, which truthfully, is driving him nuts), and does something, which makes the music start up again.
Sophie scoots closer to the pair. "Is that a music box?" she asks.
Parker opens her hand fully, showing them the tiny, intricately carved silver box sitting there with its lid open. Hardison can't quite place the tune, but the music is definitely Parker-esque, if there is such a thing.
"Ohh!" Sophie looks in and gasps happily, "That is so sweet! Parker, you know what this means, don't you?"
"Yes," Parker says stiffly, her long bangs barely covering up the small frown on her forehead. "What do I do, Sophie?"
Eliot's expression has gradually been getting grimmer, and now, he stands up and clears his throat. "You don't have to, Parker. I just wanted…" he runs a hand through his hair. "Hell, just keep it. It's shiny. Thought you'd like it, s'all." With that, he stalks to the kitchen, back and shoulders tense.
"What in the hell is goin' on?" Hardison wonders out loud.
"What, you didn't notice the warning signs?" Nate says, bemused.
"What warning signs?"
Parker stands up and walks over to him, hand outstretched. He takes a peek into the little silver box that's got everyone all upset. There, nestled in a tiny fold of green velvet, is a sparkling golden ring, with a few tasteful diamonds worked into it.
"Ohhhhhhh, I get it now," he says, grinning, happy for her, for his homeboy, for them. "So, are you gonna?"
Parker frowns. "I- I- " she stammers. "I don't know."
She looks lost and close to tears, which triggers a tiny flicker of anger towards Eliot in Hardison's chest for putting her in this position. He knows that such a feeling is unreasonable because the hitter has obviously been nothing but a gentleman with Parker (or rather, like a man dealing with an unpredictable, slightly skittish horse who likes to jump off of tall buildings), but she's like a sista to Hardison, so there's gonna be a problem if just one tear falls, mmhm. Just one tear. See what happens.
"Parker," Sophie says softly, "do you love him?"
Big brown eyes look up at the grifter. Hardison finds himself holding his breath.
"Yes," she finally whispers, hands cupping the box close to her chest, like a treasure, "yes, I do. It scares me. I don't know how to- " she stops and turns her face away, aware and ashamed of her shortcomings.
"It's just something you know, Parker." Sophie goes on, "And if he didn't know how you feel about him, and felt the same himself, he wouldn't have asked you. He's a cautious man who's already had his heart broken once before. He wouldn't be eager to have that happen again. This means that he's sure that he loves you and wants to spend the rest of his life with you. Are you?"
Parker looks down at the tiny silver box in her hand, with its delicate gold and diamond ring inside, and snaps it closed with an expression of determination on her face. The tinkling music stops. She whirls around, whipping blond hair behind her, and shoots away in the direction of the kitchen.
. . . . . . . . . . .
Eliot has a split second of warning before he's got an armful of blonde, curvy, clingy thief wrapped around his waist and neck.
"Me too," she says into the back of his neck. "I'm sure. I promise I won't break it."
"Hmm?" He's confused, but he thinks he might know. He hopes he's right. "Yeah?" he asks softly, setting her down on the counter, but staying close, so she doesn't have to let go. He brushes the hair out of her face, so he can get a good look at her.
"Yeah," she repeats, then blows his mind away with a kiss.
. . . . . . . . . . .
They emerge from the kitchen half an hour later, slightly disheveled and looking…sated. (The rest of the team had coughed politely when the [ahem] noises had begun, and Hardison had put on some [loud] music to give them a bit of privacy [but more as an alternative to mind bleach].) The ring sparkles on Parker's left hand, and Eliot's arm is slung around her, holding her close, as if unwilling to ever let her go.
Sophie is the first with her congratulations. "Oohhh!" she squeals, and rushes up to the newly engaged pair, showering them with effusive felicitations. "You have to let me help plan the wedding!" she cries happily. "Parker, I have the perfect dress in mind!"
Parker freezes, like a rabbit in a hawk's sightline. Eliot rescues her by saying, "Nate, Parker wants you to give her away."
She punches his arm. "No!" she says impatiently, and leans over to whisper furiously in his ear.
The corner of Eliot's mouth twitches with repressed humor and affection. "I'm sorry. I said that wrong. She wants me to steal her from you." That gets him another arm whack. "What is your problem? Is this gonna be like the poking thing? Huh?"
Parker scowls disapprovingly. "You weren't supposed to tell him. Now he knows. You don't tell people you're going to steal from them unless it's a double con." Then she gasps, eyes brightening with a manic light. "We can make the wedding into a heist!" She slips out from under Eliot's arm, gives him a quick peck on the cheek, and climbs out the window, muttering something about needing a new rig for the job.
Eliot watches her go with a fond expression on his face. He shakes his head and runs a hand through his hair. "That girl is crazier'n a June bug in May, but I love her just the way she is. God knows why."
Ooh, ooh! Hardison knows the answer to this one. "'Cause you as insane as she is, that's why." He gets a glare for his trouble. Then he's engulfed in a massive, hairy embrace-slash-chokehold and it's kinda nice because it's as close to hugging as Eliot ever gets.
"I'd kill you for that," Eliot says gruffly in a low growl, "but I need a best man to stand up there with me. You game?"
For the first time in his life, Hardison is completely, absotively speechless. "Uhghnuh?" he says.
Nate chuckles and pats Eliot on the shoulder. "Tell Parker that I'll let you steal her from me," he says, "but," he holds up a hand before Eliot can prematurely thank him, "I'm gonna make it a challenge for you."
Eliot sighs. "Okay, that's fair." He exchanges a long look with the older man, and nods.
He turns to Sophie. "Thanks," he says simply.
She reaches up to hug him. "You're welcome. But," she says severely, "if you ever, ever hurt her, you'll regret it very much."
Eliot gulps. He looks around at the stern expressions on his three team members' faces, and bursts out, "Now why the hell would I hurt her? I'll take care of her the same's I've always done. I promised her I'd always be there to catch her, and I will. Always." He crosses his arms and glares back at Nate, Sophie, and Hardison.
The three of them look at each other and shrug. Eh, he'll do. The only guy who would ever be good enough for their Parker is someone who would love her for the rest of their lives and would die for her, too (in that order, but preferably, the latter wouldn't have to happen because they're pretty fond of their hitter, too).
Then Eliot pulls up short with a strange expression on his face. "Hold it. Does this mean I hafta ask for Archie's permission, too? Dammit! I hate getting tasered."
AN: This story has been nominated for the Second Annual Leverage Fanfiction Awards in the "Best Drabble/One-shot" and "Most Humorous" categories. If you liked it, please vote! May 30, 2012 is the last day to send in votes. Thank you!