SUMMARY: It was important to get this New Year’s thing right, after all.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written for leverageland's Grab Bag Challenge. The prompt was "The celebrations started as he fell into the pool."
The countdown had begun.
The voices of the crowd at the swank rooftop bar carried over to where Hardison and Parker stood by the edge of the pool, enveloped in a pocket of relative solitude.
His gaze slid over to her and lingered there. She was so beautiful it made his breath hitch in his chest a little.
Sophie had dressed Parker up for the con tonight and she looked stunning, standing there in a silver sequined gown, bathed in moonlight. Slim tendrils of golden curls cascaded around her face, framing impossibly pale, creamy skin and lush red lips.
She caught him looking at her and smiled in a way that sent a shiver up and down his spine.
They were finished with this stage of the con. Done for the night. Unofficially off the clock.
The others would be making their way downstairs to the lobby by now, but there was no rush, really.
They had a moment.
And hell, it was New Year’s, right?
Hardison leaned in for a kiss.
Parker tensed. And then she shoved him. Hard.
The celebrations started as he fell into the pool. December in Miami was still December and it was too cold to be swimming outdoors in an unheated pool. The water was so cold it felt like his testicles were crawling up into his lungs.
He sputtered to the surface and shook the water out of his eyes. “What the hell, Parker?”
She stared down at him, wide-eyed. “I’m sorry! I wasn’t expecting it, I reacted on instinct.”
“It’s New Year’s, woman! It’s a damn tradition!”
“I said I’m sorry,” she said, biting back a grin.
He threw his hands up. “Are you gonna stand there laughing at me all night or are you gonna gimme a hand out of this pool before I freeze to death?”
She leaned down and stuck out her hand to help him up. Hardison grasped it, grinned up at her evilly, and pulled.
Parker squealed as she tumbled headfirst into the water in her sparkly dress and high-heeled shoes. A moment later she popped to the surface beside him, red-faced, and proceeded to start hitting him with her tiny, yet surprisingly effectual fists.
“Ow! Ow! Ow!” Hardison yelped. “Get off me, woman!”
“That was mean!” she said, but she quit beating on him, for the time being, anyway.
He smirked at her. “Turnabout’s fair play, my friend.”
The revelers at the bar had begun singing Auld Lang Syne, their drunken chorus punctuated by the occasional peal of laughter. Somehow, even though it was freezing, neither Hardison nor Parker made a move to get out of the pool.
“I never saw the point of celebrating New Year’s,” she said. “What’s the big deal about another stupid year anyway?”
He rolled his eyes. “The point is that the way you spend New Year’s Eve is supposed to set the tone for the rest of the year. So at midnight you kiss the person you care the most about in the hopes that you’ll get to spend the whole year with them.”
“Oh,” she said, wrinkling her brow. “That’s sort of nice.”
“Yeah, it is.”
He maneuvered a little closer. When that seemed to go over okay he reached out, tentatively, and brushed a strand of wet hair out of her face. She didn’t flinch and she didn’t tense up. In fact, he was pretty sure he felt her turn her cheek into his touch.
“So,” he ventured. “If I try to kiss you again are you gonna go all Swimfan on me this time?”
She shrugged. “Guess you’ll have to try it to find out.”
He decided to take his chances. This time when he leaned in she wrapped her arms around his neck and met him halfway. Her lips were cold but oh so sweet. Sweet enough to make him forget about the fact that he was freezing damn near to death.
Sweet enough that he also forgot they were both still wearing their earbuds until he heard Nate politely clear his throat.
“Err, Hardison, you think maybe you guys could wrap it up soon?” Nate suggested.
“What he means to say,” Sophie interjected gently, “is that the rest of us might like to get out of here and start our own New Year’s celebrations. If you don’t mind.”
“And all that kissing sounds really gross over comms,” Eliot added. “In case you were wondering.”
Parker giggled. Hardison gazed down at her and decided it wouldn’t kill them to wait just a few minutes more. It was important to get this New Year’s thing right, after all.