SUMMARY: It’s all because of the damned tinnitus. Or that’s what he tells himself, anyway.
RATING: PG-13 (for language)
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written for comment_fic. lmx_v3point3 prompted "Leverage, Eliot and Parker, Eliot is slightly out of it after a fight and when Parker pokes something painful he just *reacts*." Big props to trappercreekd for the artwork!
It’s all because of the damned tinnitus. Or that’s what he tells himself, anyway.
He’s sitting on the couch at Nate’s place in a sort of pain haze because of the blow he took to the head a couple of hours ago. He’s probably got a mild concussion and he’s definitely got this persistent and seriously annoying ringing in his ears which is the only reason Parker is even able to sneak up on him in the first place. She ghosts up behind him and punches him playfully in his bad shoulder, the one that’s still throbbing like a sonofabitch because he dislocated it yet again and he had to pop it back into joint himself.
And it’s not so much that it hurts as that it startles him, which shouldn’t happen. Ever.
He’s not thinking; he just reacts. Before he’s even fully aware of what he’s doing he’s grabbed hold of her wrist—hard. Parker doesn’t cry out but he can tell from her sharp intake of of breath that it hurts and when he lets go she snatches her hand away, cradling her arm against her chest.
“Dammit, Parker!” The words erupt from him before he can stop them. He doesn’t even remember getting to his feet and his heart is pounding and there’s a bitter taste in the back of his throat from the adrenaline coursing through his system.
It terrifies him to think how close he came to snapping the tiny, fragile bones in her wrist. He was right on the verge of savagely twisting when he realized what he was doing and who he was doing it to. It makes him feel sick to his stomach.
The rest of the team has fallen silent. They’re all staring at him. They all saw it.
Hardison is the first to speak, and his voice sounds choked, like he’s in shock. Maybe he is. “Parker—”
She bolts before he can finish the sentence.
Eliot just stands there, frozen. There’s undisguised fear in Sophie’s eyes and he can’t even bear to look at Hardison because he knows that’s something he’ll never be able to unsee. Nate takes a step towards him and actually looks sympathetic but Eliot doesn’t give him a chance to say anything.
He runs after Parker, slamming the heel of his hand against the wall on his way out the door. There’s no sign of her in the hallway and he races down the stairs but even before he gets down to the bar and out onto the street he knows he’s too late. She’s gone.
He goes to her apartment, and to her other apartment. To every single one of the hideouts, safe houses, and haunts that he knows about. She’s not at any of them. She’s nowhere. After two hours of searching he finally gives up. He’ll just have to find her tomorrow. Or the day after. Or whenever she decides she wants to be found. However long that takes.
Only when he gets home she’s there, sitting on his front doorstep. Not inside, which is what he might have expected, if he’d expected her to be here at all, but just sitting on his front stoop in plain sight. Waiting for him.
She watches him approach but doesn’t say anything when he stops a few feet away from her.
“I was looking all over for you,” he says.
“You didn’t do a very good job, then, because I was right here.” Her expression is guarded and unreadable. It reminds him of the way she always used to look when they first started working together, before she’d learned to trust them.
There’s a bruise purpling the skin around her wrist where he grabbed her and he can’t stop staring at it. “Parker, I—”
She shakes her head. “Don’t.”
“But I just—”
“Are you gonna—”
She rolls her eyes. “No.”
“I never meant—”
“Whatever.” She shrugs.
He gives up. Maybe they don’t need to talk about it. What good did talking ever do anyone anyway? He shoves his hands into his pockets and shifts his weight from foot to foot, wondering where they’re supposed to go from here.
“You wanna go get some ice cream?” he finally asks.
She arches an eyebrow and her mouth twists into the hint of a smile. “Can we steal it?”
“Yeah, okay,” he says. “Just this once.”