SUMMARY: Five times Eliot and Parker don't kiss and one time they do.
RATING: R (for language)(mostly)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Eliot comes across kind of like a teenage girl in this fic. I hope he can forgive me.
It’s Tuesday. Or maybe Wednesday; he sort of can’t be bothered to keep track this week. The job’s still in the early planning stages and Nate and Sophie have been arguing about wine for twenty minutes now. Whether it was a Côtes du Rhône or a Côte-Rôtie they shared once over a stolen Manet. Or maybe it was a Monet. Eliot hasn’t really been listening. They do this all the time now that they’re sleeping together and he’s beyond over it. At least Hardison’s got his computers to distract him when they start doing this. Eliot’s just stuck here waiting for them to get it out of their systems, because it’s not about Syrah as much as it’s about this thing that’s going on between them.
Parker climbs over the back of the couch—because God forbid she do anything normal like sit on it from the front like everyone else—and plops down next to him. Like right next to him. Up against him, practically.
He shifts to the side, trying to maintain an invisible cushion of air between them. Somehow her leg still manages to come to rest lightly against his, invading his space like it’s nothing.
It is nothing, he reminds himself, even though the feeling in the pit of his stomach is probably (definitely) trying to tell him it’s something.
Parker’s always had boundary issues, that’s nothing new. But it never used to get to him the way it does now. It’s the way it makes him feel—uncomfortable, agitated, flustered, edgy—that’s changed. He’s not sure when it started, exactly. He wants to say it was sometime after the thing between her and Hardison ended, but if he’s being honest it was probably (definitely) before that.
A minute later she’s got her fingers in his hair. He flinches. “What are you doing?”
“I wanted to see what you’d look like with short hair.” She reaches up again, threading her fingers through his hair and brushing it away from his face.
“Don’t.” He reaches up and captures her wrist, moves it firmly away, back into her own airspace.
The problem, he realizes, is that he’s actually starting to like this—whatever this is that they do.
Her nose wrinkles and she sticks her tongue out at him.
It’s totally not his fault. It’s just that Parker has these boundary issues.
He has good intentions. That should count for something. He’s all about the good intentions.
It wasn’t his idea for Parker to dress up in a slinky black evening gown. And it definitely wasn’t his idea for her to change into it in when he’s standing right there. As soon as she starts pulling her t-shirt over her head he turns away, because—fuck. Because it's Parker. And because he knows she isn’t wearing a bra, which is all kinds of wrong all by itself.
It’s not even like it’s the first time she’s done this. He probably ought to be used to it by now. And really, none of this should be a problem because she’s not even his type. He keeps telling himself that. Which is stupid because if she’s really not his type he then why does he need reminding?
“Zip me up.”
He dares a look and she’s got the dress on and her back to him. But the zipper is hanging wide open, exposing smooth, creamy skin all the way down her back to—yeah.
He can do this. It’s part of the job. No big deal. He grasps the zipper, being careful not to let his fingers brush against her bare skin. But the damn thing sticks so he’s got to put his hand on her waist to hold the dress in place while he tugs at the zipper and somehow it feels so intimate.
When he’s done she twirls around in front of him and says, “How do I look?”
“Good,” he mutters, and his voice tries to break which makes him feel like he’s fifteen again. But she’s smiling at him and she looks fucking amazing so for a second all he can think about is pushing her up against the wall and kissing her.
Which is all kinds of wrong. There’s a code about this sort of thing. Two codes, in fact. One about not fooling around with your best buddy’s ex-girlfriend and a whole other one about not fooling around with the women you have to work with (see also: Nate and Sophie). Two extremely good reasons why he should absolutely, positively under no circumstances whatsoever be having these kind of thoughts about Parker.
“Ready to go?” she asks.
He nods, rather than risk speaking again. There’s a taser strapped to one of her thighs and a lockpick set strapped to the other one and he shouldn’t find that hot but he does.
He really, really does.
“What are you doing?”
He glances over his shoulder and tries not to react because there’s Parker, standing just a little too close, leaning into his space with an expression that’s half curiosity and half impatience.
“Making an explosive,” he answers, trying not to think about the way her hair is falling across his shoulder. It’s nothing, it’s fine, it’s ... whatever, he can deal with it. But he wishes like hell he hadn’t taken his shirt off, that he wasn’t sitting here in a wife beater trying not to get goosebumps because her hair is brushing against his bare shoulder.
“Cool.” She leans even closer and now her hand is resting on his bicep, skin against skin. The pads of her fingers are warm and soft and they curl into his arm, exerting light pressure. It’s just not fair, the way she’s always got to be touching him. It takes most of his willpower to resist the urge to flex.
It’s nothing, remember? Nothing. Except apparently he’s gripping the utility knife a little too tightly and he ends up cutting through the wire completely instead of stripping it. He curses under his breath and tosses the knife aside because this is not the sort of task you can afford to give only half your attention to.
“What’s wrong?” she asks.
“Nothing,” he mumbles.
“Something’s wrong. You’re doing that lip thing.”
“What lip thing?”
“You know, the thing where your upper lip twitches like you’re trying not to sneer. You always do it when you’re mad. Or frustrated. Or impatient.”
He clamps his lips together and turns his head to look at her. They’re so close he can smell her lip balm, which is sweet like candy. Her lips are all dewy-looking and slightly parted and he can’t do this so he grits his teeth and says, “Do you need something?”
There’s a weird moment then, or a weird-er moment. She looks at him for a little too long and her expression is just a little too ... knowing. It’s enough to make him wonder if she’s actually aware of what she’s doing to him, if maybe she’s doing it on purpose. Especially when her mouth quirks into a smile and she says, “You like me.”
He doesn't say anything; he can’t. There’s a chance his vocal cords are actually paralyzed and he may never speak again, and part of him thinks that wouldn’t really be such a bad thing.
She pats him on the arm and drifts away, leaving him to worry that he’s the one that’s going crazy.
Their original exit strategy is a no-go and Plan B’s a bust, too. Nate and Hardison are barking conflicting orders in his ear and Parker’s looking at him, her expression taut and slightly frantic. There’s a darkness around her eyes, and Eliot recognizes it for what it is. Fear. He makes a decision, grabs her by the hand, and pulls her towards the stairwell. He’ll make up his own Plan C if he has to.
He takes one guy out on the way there without even pausing. Then two more in the stairwell while Parker watches impassively. They make it all the way down to the first floor, panting and pulling each other along by turns, but that’s when things get messy. They’re in a long gallery overlooking the lobby and there’s four guys coming up the broad staircase that happens to be the only way down to the front door and out of this damn place.
If he was by himself it’d be one thing but he’s got Parker to worry about and he’s not sure he’ll be able to keep all of their attention focused on him. But then she tugs on his arm and points at a vertical banner suspended from the ceiling high above the atrium. He knows instantly what she’s thinking and he also knows that she’s fucking nuts.
“It’ll never hold us both,” he says.
“Sure it will,” she says.
“How do you know?”
“I just do. Trust me.”
He does, which is crazy, because she’s crazy. But the next thing he knows they’re climbing up onto the railing and Parker’s got her chest pressed against his and her arms wrapped tightly around him and he’s reaching out to give the banner an experimental tug. It seems maybe secure enough? And the four guys are almost on top of them so he figures what the hell and jumps.
It holds them both. He’s clinging to the nylon and Parker’s clinging to him and she screams “Geronimo!” as they slide down the banner like something out of a fucking movie. Ten feet above the floor they run out of nylon and have to free fall the rest of the way down. Eliot makes sure he’s on the bottom when they land on the marble tile in a tangle of arms and legs. Parker’s chest is in his face and her hands are in his hair and (fortunately) before he has time to think about that they’re up and running out the door and into the street.
They don’t stop running until they get around the corner. Eliot sags against the wall, his heart pounding with the rush of it all. Parker leans against him, her hip bumping up against his, and she’s positively glowing, so beautiful it makes his chest ache. It’s a few seconds before he realizes Nate and Hardison have been yelling at them, demanding to know what’s going on and if they’re okay.
“We’re fine,” he says. “We’re out.”
“Good,” Nate says. “Blow the truck.”
Eliot stiffens as Parker’s hand plunges into his pocket. She slips out the detonator and holds it up, looking at him hopefully.
“Go ahead,” he says, and he can’t quite decide if her eagerness to blow shit up is adorable or terrifying.
She’s grinning at him as she pushes the button.
A truck packed with cocaine-filled Jenna Baby dolls explodes behind them. He grabs her and pushes her to the ground, shielding her body with his own. His eyes and nose burn with the scent of ozone and gasoline as flaming doll parts rain down around them.
Parker throws her arms around his neck and laughs in childlike delight. “That was fun!”
For once, he kind of agrees with her. Not that he’d ever admit it.
At the end of the job he cooks dinner for everyone at Nate’s place because that’s what he always does if he’s not too exhausted or beat to shit. There’s braised chicken in a white wine sauce and haricots verts and thick slices of crusty French bread. Hardison’s riding Nate about the mix-up with the sandwiches that nearly blew the whole con and Sophie’s having a good time egging him on. Eliot reaches for the last piece of bread to mop up the sauce on his plate but Parker’s hand shoots out at the exact same moment and her fingertips graze his as she snatches it away.
She waves the bread at him mockingly from across the table, her mouth curling into a impish smile. “I’ll flip you for it.”
He snorts. “You’re not strong enough to flip me.”
It makes her laugh, and he loves it that he can make her laugh. Then her head tilts to one side and it’s like he can see the wheels turning inside.
“Isn’t it just a trick or something?” she asks. “Like when I flipped Hardison that time?”
He pushes his plate away and leans back in his chair. “Hardison’s an amateur. You wanna flip me you have to be better than I am.”
Her foot slides forward under the table and bumps against the toe of his boot. Bump. “Teach me.” Bump. Bump.
“Why?” There are a lot of scenarios running through his head and almost all of them are bad. Very, very bad.
She shrugs lightly. “It could be important. What if one day you’re not there?”
He leans forward and lays his palms flat on the table. His voice is pitched low and very, very serious. “I’ll always be there,” he tells her.
She smiles at him. “I know that.” Bump.
His heart tries to leap into his throat.
They actually have a couple of weeks off between jobs this time. Long enough that Eliot starts to wish he’d made plans to go somewhere. Do something. He and Hardison have gotten together a couple of times to grab a beer but he hasn’t seen Parker in days. He tells himself that it’s a relief not to have to deal with her and he almost believes it.
He’s half asleep one night, lying on top of the sheets because it’s July and ninety fucking degrees, when he hears a sound outside his window. He surges out of bed and his hand has already found the Maglite he keeps on his nightstand when he sees Parker’s face peering through the glass.
His bedroom’s on the second floor and there’s no balcony so it should probably be a lot more of a surprise than it is. On the other hand, it’s Parker, so ... yeah. He sets down the Maglite and flips on the bedside lamp.
“Jesus, Parker, what the fuck?” he says when he gets the window open. “You know that’s a great way to get shot, right?”
“You don’t like guns,” she says as she slips into the room.
“Seriously, I have a front door.”
“I know that. I just thought I’d save you the trouble of walking all the way downstairs to open it. This way you only had to go a few feet to let me in.”
“That’s ...” He stops, because he really doesn’t know what that is. And frankly he’s got more pressing problems, like the fact that he’s not wearing anything except boxer-briefs. Not that he hasn’t had to change in front of her on jobs, but this is different. This is him mostly naked in his bedroom with her just standing there looking at him. “What are you doing here?” he asks, grabbing the t-shirt he discarded earlier and pulling it over his head.
“I want you to teach me some more of that Judo or Ju-ju or whatever it is you do.”
“Are you busy now?”
“I was sleeping.”
She rolls her eyes. “You’re not sleeping anymore, though, right?”
She’s got a point. He’s pretty much never getting back to sleep now. And what’s he going to do? Throw her out? He probably should, but he won’t.
He sighs. “Fine. Whatever.”
“Yay!” Parker’s eyes light up and she bounces on the balls of feet. “What do we do first?”
“First, I put some pants on,” he mutters, scooping a pair of jeans off the floor.
“Okay.” Parker sits on the edge of the bed and waits. She’s bouncing and jiggling her foot and she’s got so much kinetic energy he wonders if she’s going to explode when he touches her. She’s also watching him kind of intently, so he turns his back to her while he buttons his fly. Yeah, there’s nothing about this that isn’t absolutely fucking absurd.
“All right,” he says. “Come over here. Square up like I showed you.” She complies, but she’s still bouncing so he puts his hands on top of her shoulders and presses down gently to get her to stand still. “Now, say an attacker comes at you from the front. You’re gonna step forward with your right foot and rotate your body, like this.” He drops his hands to her hips and moves her into position, determined not to think about the way their bodies are pressed together. It’s not as hard it ought to be, because this is what he does. He’s in his element now, and he’s never more confident and focused than when he’s doing this.
She’s concentrating so hard she’s biting her lip, taking in everything he says and does. It’s one of the things he’s always appreciated about her. She can be crazy, sure, but when she needs to be she can also be rigorous and methodical and as dedicated to perfection as anyone on the team.
“All right. Reach your right arm around like this,” he says, drawing her arm across his body. “And grab my right arm with your left. Good. Now, for the takedown, pull me down and to the right, while thrusting your hip up into me.”
She does it exactly like he said and sends him sailing over her hip and onto his back at her feet. “Like that?” she asks uncertainly.
“Exactly like that.” She’s a good student, and he can’t help but feel a little proud.
She grins and cocks her head to the side. And then she pounces on him.
She’s got him pinned to the floor—or she would, if she didn’t weigh next to nothing—and she’s straddling his hips and he starts to hate himself a little bit. He pictures himself trying to explain this Hardison. So we were just practicing some Jiujitsu moves in my bedroom in the middle of the night... Yeah. He’s going to hell.
“That’s enough for tonight,” he says.
Her lips thrust out in a pout and she shakes her head. “Teach me something else.”
He grabs behind her elbow, trapping her arm to his chest, then uses his foot to hook her leg, lifting his hips and pivoting both of them so that he’s the one on top.
She looks surprised and then delighted. “That was cool!”
He tries to look stern. “Time for you to go home, Parker.”
“I don’t want to go home,” she says, and then she mimics his move perfectly, flipping them both so that she’s straddling him again. She’s a really, really good student. She’s also looking at him in a way that makes him feel good and bad all at the same time.
“What are you doing?” He’s trying to be rational, because if he doesn’t he’s pretty sure no one will.
She doesn’t answer. Her face dips lower and he can feel her breath on his lips and suddenly all he wants to do is kiss her.
Which is a terrible, terrible idea. It’s pretty much the epitome of terrible ideas that are so bad they don’t even bear thinking about. And yet. He’s thinking about it. He can’t stop thinking about it, in fact. Which is not his fault. It’s totally Parker’s. Parker and her boundary issues.
She shifts her hips a little and he starts to feel lightheaded because the blood is rushing somewhere that’s nowhere near his brain. “Seriously, Parker,” he says, and then groans, because there’s definitely some grinding happening now and oh shit oh shit oh shit.
Her mouth quirks and she starts laughing, which is really just too much. She laughs and snorts and giggles and then all of a sudden she’s not laughing anymore because her mouth is on his and she’s kissing him. Her hands are curled around his neck and her tongue is hot and slick in his mouth and it feels so right he wants to drown himself in her.
He doesn’t, though. Instead he cups her face in his hands and pulls her away, just enough that he can look in her eyes. “Are you sure you want to do this?” he asks, because it’s not really about him anymore. He’s given up all pretense of being rational and reasonable.
She rolls her eyes. And then she smiles. “You can be really dense sometimes, you know that?”
That’s all he needs. He pulls her mouth down onto his and flips them over again so that he’s on top. She laughs against his mouth and nips at his bottom lip with her teeth. Her hands slide under his shirt and she wraps her legs around his hips as he kisses his way down to her collarbone.
So what if it makes things awkward for the rest of the team? Fuck them. He’s put up with enough of their shit, it’s about time they had to put up with some of his. Fair’s fair, after all.
“Hey, Eliot,” Parker breathes in his ear. “I liked it better when you were mostly naked.”
He is nothing if not obliging.