A/N: Dear god, I'm so sorry for putting this up the way it was before! The document manager isn't saving my edits for some reason… no idea why. Anyway, I should get a new chapter up for my other Eliot/Parker story soon, but I needed to get this out of my system. Apologies! Hope you like it.
Everybody knew about Nate and Sophie's history together. But then again, everybody knew an awful lot about Nate's history in it of itself. It confused Parker a little. On some level they all recognized that the entire team had crossed paths at one point, so she didn't really understand why nobody else seemed to acknowledge their shared history. Or at least the possibility.
She and Eliot were both private people of course, but considering their line of work it seemed silly to assume they had never met before. Granted, Parker was fairly certain nobody had reason to suspect that she and Eliot had crossed paths when they did. Boy, Hardison didn't know Eliot had been in foster care, and while the whole team knew that Parker had been, they didn't even know her full name, so she was impossible to track.
Well, Eliot knew her name, not that he'd ever use it in front of the team. He knew her anonymity was important to her after all, but he had known her before she was Parker. He had known her when she was just Gracie, the quiet one with a bunny.
"Eliot! Andrew!" A large man had shouted up the stairs, and two young boys, no more than ten had come barreling down, nearly tripping over their own feet in hate. "This is Grace, she's your new sister, don't hurt her." The man instructed. He had a heavy hand on the small blond girl, no more than five. He pushed her towards them, and she stumbled forward, looking frightened.
"I'm Eliot," the older of the two boys stuck out his hand. He wasn't allowed to see his Momma anymore, but he hadn't forgotten his manners.
"Gracie," she shook his hand, wide eyed and terrified, but Eliot just smiled at her gently and led her up the stairs to show her the new room she'd be staying in.
They took to each other like a fish to water. Andrew couldn't care less for the "girl." He spoke the word like it was some sort of curse, but Eliot didn't seem to mind that she was a girl. He brought home his school work for her to see, and she waited at the window expectantly every day for him to get off the school bus, waiting for the day he'd be allowed to go to school too.
He brought home books from the library and taught her how to read, and how to do math. Gracie didn't stop missing her mother, and Eliot still waited for the call from his social worker which would say he could go back home, but being with each other helped.
Eliot had never seen Mr. Nichols drunk, but Gracie seemed to know what to expect all too well, and when their foster father reached for the little girl's arm, ready to punish her for breaking a plate, Eliot had immediately stepped in, earning a black eye and a trip to the hospital.
It was four years later when Eliot saw Gracie again. He had barely recognized her behind the wheel of the car as it speed by him and his foster sister Cecilia. Somehow, and to this very day, he's still not sure, Gracie ended up in the same foster home as him, again.
She remembered him immediately, to Eliot's pleasure.
"El?" the blond girl had Bunny tucked under her arm, the rest of her stuff in a duffel bag, and everyone else in the room, new foster parents, Cecilia, Mrs. Grant the social worker, they all wore similar looks of surprise when Gracie dropped her bag and launched herself at Eliot.
He had no trouble catching her, she was still as light as a feather and he had been preparing to try out for the football team anyway. Neither seemed to care about the reactions as Eliot carried her up the stairs, both talking in excited whispers.
She divulged little of her exploits, afraid of what Eliot would think of her less than legal behavior. He was, after all, a model human being in her eyes. He could do no wrong.
He told her everything, about getting bounced in and out of his Momma's house, how he missed the farm and his horses. She couldn't quite relate, and told him all about how the horse killed the clown. He laughed and told her all about his favorite horse. She didn't agree, but she could listen.
Kids made fun of her at the park, teased about how she didn't have nice clothes, and how she had no real parents. Eliot knocked out Bobby's front teeth and they left her alone. He sat for hours on the bench talking to her as she hung from the monkey bars.
He was torn when he got the call again, the one that told him he could go home. Eliot missed his Momma, but didn't want to leave Gracie. Not in that house, not alone, not at all. She promised him she'd be okay and he gave her his St. Anthony medal. The one, he explained, that helped bring back lost things. He hoped it would help bring her back.
It did, but it was ten years later. He didn't have the same memory for faces that Grace did, but he could never forget hers. It was a museum in Russia; his target had been a man attending the Gala, hers was something different entirely. All memory of his target flew out of his head when he spotted her, and he couldn't help but call out, "Gracie?"
She had frozen in place, like a deer in the headlights, blinking at him with those wide eyes he knew so well.
She finally responded. "Parker, I'm not Gracie anymore," before she slipped away. It had stung, as much as the hitter didn't want to admit. He had almost expected her to fling herself at him again. But she had changed and so had he. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew when he saw her that Gracie was no more.
The next time he saw her he had met her as Parker, for the first con they pulled with Hardison and Nate and eventually Sophie. He didn't acknowledge her as a friend, Eliot and Parker weren't friends after all, El and Gracie had been.
And when Parker half dove into the elevator, tearing off her shirt, Eliot had swallowed hard, because she certainly wasn't scared little Gracie anymore.
He wasn't entirely surprised when she showed up in his hotel room. Not at the door, but in.
"El," she was sitting on the bed looking up at him wide eyed and terrified and Eliot knew that Gracie was still there, somewhere.
"I can't remember the last time someone called me that," Eliot murmured, sitting down next to her on the bed.
"You were the last person to call me Gracie," Parker replied, leaning towards him to rest her head on his shoulder.
"I missed you." Eliot didn't know what else to say.
Parker had no response, just untucked the St. Anthony medal she had on a chain around her neck. "It keeps bringing you back to me." She finally commented.
"It started before the medal, Darlin'," he replied, and when she turned to look at him, he caught her lips in a kiss.
"What do you want for dinner, Grace?" Eliot called from the kitchen of his house. It was mostly theirs, but Parker still insisted on keeping her hidey hole warehouse, though it functioned more like a gym than a residence.
"Just cereal," she responded, not moving her eyes off the blueprints she had sprawled out on the floor in front of her as she sat cross-legged on the hard wood of the living room.
"Gracie," he popped his head into the room, "you had cereal for breakfast and lunch at Nate's, I'm cooking real food for dinner, what do you want?"
She groaned dramatically, finally looking up from the vault schematics. "Chicken stir-fry?" He smiled and nodded, immediately setting to work. "Can you leave out the vegetables?" she requested, padding into the kitchen and parking her butt on the counter just out of his way.
"Then it's not stir-fry," he laughed. They went through the same sort of thing every day.
"I like eating at Nate's better," she pouted.
"No you don't," he didn't look up from chopping vegetables.
Her phone rang, "Hardison?" she guessed correctly without bothering with the caller ID.
"Nate's got another job, you ought to get over here, this one's important or somethin'," Hardison explained over the phone.
"Yeah sure," she snapped the phone shut before he could say more. There was no point in carrying on a long conversation; Parker hated talking on the phone. It was easier just to go and sneak into a person's house if she wanted to talk to them.
"Job?" Eliot scowled, tossing his dish rag on the counter, already packing away the food he had intended to prepare for dinner. He didn't miss the triumphant gaze on Parker's face as he put the vegetables back in the fridge.
"Do you think we should tell them soon?" Parker asked.
Eliot's cellphone rang, and he carried on a similar conversation with their hacker. When he hung up the phone, he shot her a dubious look.
"We would avoid that," she meant the unnecessary second phone call.
"Would you like to tell them how we met, Gracie?" He asked, lifting her off the counter and setting her on the ground so he could wipe down the granite surface.
"Nah, I wouldn't want anyone but you to call me Gracie," she smiled at him before dashing out of the room. "Race you there!" She jumped out the window. Eliot just laughed; when he saw her next, he'd see Parker. But here, their house, just the two of them? He could be El, the perfect human who could do no wrong, and she could be Gracie, with her Bunny and wide eyes and nobody could take that away from them this time.