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Title: crying
Ficverse: Leverage
Series: five times Eliot caught Parker and one time he didn't
Rating: Gen, PG13
Length: 1650 ish / 6100 ish
Characters: Eliot, Parker
Teaser: The fifth time Eliot caught Parker, she was crying.
Notes: Hey, look, I haven't forgotten to finish this series! And there's only one to go! Yay! Provided RL behaves itself, the last one should be coming along soonish.
Warnings/Spoiler: set about a year/year-an-a-half after current events on the show (being the S4 hiatus). Definite H/P dynamic in this one, fair warning.
Disclaimer: Stuff that's not mine is not mine.
Feedback: let's hear it. The good, the bad, the ugly....

Moscow. Ten years ago.
Miami. Four years ago.
Los Angelos. Four years ago.
Boston. Two years ago.

Boston. One month ago.

The fifth time Eliot caught Parker, she was crying. Which meant someone was in for a world of pain. It wasn't as though it was hard to make certain things look like an accident.

He'd noticed something off in her about a week ago, around the time the first snowfall hit the city. Not even scraps were left on the ground now, not really surprisingly, but it had been a good heavy one and he had secretly hoped it boded well for a white Christmas in another week. A hope which he'd still deny until he was blue, if anyone accused him of it, but he'd at least given up pretending to himself that he didn't love the look on Parker's face when it happened. Which may or may not be why he had been paying enough attention to her to notice the tension, when no one else had.

He'd first suspected Hardison as the culprit, since he'd been expecting some kind of meltdown ever since the two had made their odd, slow-growing relationship "official," but the last few months had shown the hacker to be unexpectedly good at navigating the unique challenges of dating Parker. The last week had only confirmed Eliot's suspicions that something was wrong, but nothing Hardison seemed to be aware of, and by now Eliot trusted Hardison's instincts enough that he'd at least know when he'd screwed up with her.

Which left Eliot to just bide his time and keep closer tabs than usual; she was spending unusual amounts of time at Nate's perched in hiding places that were high or cramped or both, while forcing a care-free appearance around the team. He had to hand it to her, she was getting better. If he hadn't been watching for it, he wasn't 100% sure he would have noticed. He probably would, but maybe not.

So when he got to Nate's that afternoon, eyeing the heavy clouds in the frigid sky and willing them to break open, he wasn't completely surprised to find he wasn't as alone as he'd expected to be. Even before he hung up his jacket, his ears picked up the sound of muffled girl misery which, no matter how it was disguised, was a very distinctive sound. His stomach dropped while his eyes scanned the unlit apartment, quickly finding the tiny crack of light streaming from the bathroom door.

The flash of temptation to run away, go find Sophie or something, was quickly squelched and he very sternly put his mental processes on alert; he had to be on the job for this one. It would demand nothing less of him than total commitment. He took a controlled breath, and slowly pushed the door open.

No squeals of feminine indignation met him, and that was a relief, but it didn't last long when he spotted her balled up in the empty bathtub, fully clothed, curtain tangled around her, sobbing as though her heart was broken. A world of pain, he silently promised himself.

Eliot didn't bother announcing his presence; she hadn't looked up but he knew she knew he was there. He just climbed into the tub with her – there was plenty of room, she could make the tightest ball with her body of any adult he'd ever known – put a hand on her foot, and waited. He didn't have to wait long, although he didn't expect her to uncurl from the curtain and fling herself into his arms. Still, his body had long since figured out the correct reflex for that action, and he just hugged her close while attempting to arrange limbs into a slightly less uncomfortable configuration.

"What?" he asked quietly, once he was pretty sure he could sustain their position for the duration of a conversation. Her sobs had failed to subside, and he rubbed her back, keeping his voice as comforting as he could. "Parker, what is it?"

The question only made her cry harder into his chest, and he had to fight down panic before he realized her hand had unclenched and was showing him something in what appeared to be an answer. He tilted his head to try and make it out, and it took a few seconds for his brain to register the significance of two pink lines on a little white stick.

"Uhh ..." was all that came out of him before his whole body froze, which was a good thing because his entire brain had simultaneously exploded, and he didn't want to know what he would have said if he could have. "Okay," he said, once he regained the use of his mouth and wrestled his reaction under control, "uh – okay. Um." He shook his head a little, trying to clear out all the superfluous or unhelpful questions all yelling at once, like those horrible crowds of reporters at movie premiers or sensational press conferences. "So. It. Um. – Hardison?"

Her tiny nod was felt rather than seen, and the tremble that ran through her helped him focus. "Okay. It's okay," he murmured, and after a few minutes of rubbing her back and repeating variations of "it's okay," she began to calm down enough to actually speak.

"Eliot, what am I going to do?" she wailed weakly.

He slammed a lid on the fresh wave of questions. "Well, what's the problem?" he asked neutrally, so as not to indicate how many were suggesting themselves to him right now.

"I can't do this!" For the first time, she raised her head from his damp shirt and looked at him, and his stomach fell all over again at the real terror in her eyes. "I can't – I can't be a mom! I don't know ... I can't ... everything's wrong with me, Eliot, I'm crazy, you know that, I can't be a mom!"

She was clutching him hard enough to bruise, fingers made for climbing digging into his muscles, and shaking him to boot, but he barely felt it. "You are not –"

He broke off, stopping himself in the middle of that angry, well-meaning lie, and her face fell. He caught it in his hand, and forced her to look at him, all the heat of his anger channeled into utter certainty. "Okay. Maybe there are a few things wrong with you, and maybe you are crazy. But there is nothing – nothing – about you that would make you a bad mom, Parker. And you know that's true because I would be the first one to tell you if it wasn't."

He saw hope dawn, and then dim again. "But what if...."

He stroked his thumb on her cheek gently, chasing that hope to retrieve it back. "What if what?"

She looked down. "What if Hardison doesn't think so?" she whispered.

Ah. He tucked her head back against his chest, and dropped a kiss on the top of it. "Well, then, you'll have plenty of help from the rest of us," he said with unmistakeable sincerity, leaning back more comfortably and drawing her with him.

She burrowed further into his cuddle, arms relaxing against him for the first time. She drew in a breath that went all the way down to her belly, already trusting him even as she asked, "You promise?"

"Are you kidding?" He grinned. "Good luck keeping us away." He felt her little snort, which made him frown and stretch over to the toilet roll which was, luckily, in reach. "Here," he put a wad of tissue in her hands. "Stop using my shirt as a kleenex."

Parker stuck her tongue out at him, but obediently scrubbed at her face, blowing several times before tossing it into the waste basket.

"Ooph!" Eliot exclaimed as her exertion squashed his diaphragm.

Her body froze and she gave him an uncertain look, as the fullness of their position suddenly struck her. She bit her lip, clearly wondering if he was going to be annoyed. He rolled his eyes, just to make sure she knew this was not something that was going to be tolerated on a regular basis, before shrugging slightly and pulling her back down against him. After all, he couldn't deny that this was a pretty special occasion. Besides, the job wasn't done yet.

She snuggled happily as he settled his arms securely around her, and he smiled, although only because he knew she wouldn't see it. He thought for a minute, then opened his mouth again.

"Parker, I can't say I know what Hardison will think about all of ... this," he said carefully; he didn't want to raise expectations too much. "But did it occur to you that he might be happy?"

She went quiet. "He never – we never talked about.... You think so?" she asked after a painful pause.

"I can't say for sure," Eliot admitted honestly, although he had a pretty good idea. "I know sometimes it's easier to just assume the worst, but ... I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Don't you?"

After another long pause, she nodded. "Will you help me? Figure out how to tell him?"

He cocked his head, resolutely ignoring what a hopeless softie he had become. "Well, Christmas is coming up," he said thoughtfully, and she bounced up excitedly – to another of his oophs – as she caught his meaning. He couldn't stop his grin at the sparkle in her eyes, and it was some time and a lot of scheming before they left that bathtub.

A week later, Eliot discovered the wondrous expression on Parker's face when it began snowing for Christmas was absolutely nothing to the expression on Hardison's face when he learned he was going to be a father. Even though it was a surprisingly competitive list, there was no comparison: this was, without doubt, Eliot's favorite job he'd ever done.

Cairo. Now.


( 8 speakses — have a speak )
Oct. 16th, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)
I totally like...sweet fic and Eliot being the perfect big brother to Parker - it's perfect. Although I would love it if you decide to write the scene where Parker gives Hardison the news (with Eliot nearby:)
Oct. 17th, 2011 12:04 am (UTC)
Co-sign *chinhands*
Oct. 17th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I absolutely adore big brother Eliot. He's so gruff and sweet.

It's really up to you how you think they decided to tell Hardison; I figured everyone would imagine what was perfect to them :) To me, they wrapped something up as a present to give him the clue, but I think if I wrote it it would come out wrong. Rather leave it to your imagination than ruin it!
Oct. 17th, 2011 12:03 am (UTC)
*flailimplodeSQUUUUUUUUUUUUEEEEE!*Even my random icon picker thinks it's beautiful. ELIOT AND PARKER AND FEEEEEEEEEEEEELINGS & FAMILY & what's NOT to love abt this fic? Absolutely nothing.
Oct. 17th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)
Thankee, ma'm! *doffs hat*

I'm so glad you like it. I wanted to do a really sweet cuddly one, since all the others have been rather more cranky or action-y. We deserve some family time!

As to the scene with Hardison, see above comment :)

Btw, I love Scott Caan but don't know that much of his work. What show is the icon from?
Oct. 18th, 2011 12:20 am (UTC)
Co-sign on family time. :) That was from Hawaii Five-0 which has been a TON of fun & snarkiness so far, so feel free to check it out. *off to check out other comment*
Oct. 18th, 2011 12:30 pm (UTC)
grrr... in a public place working and thought I'd just read this fic over food. Had to go run and hide to fix makeup from the happy-shiny tear!

That was beautiful - thank you!
Oct. 18th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
Hee! I know it's wrong, but I do love when I learn a fic of mine has made someone laugh or cry in an inappropriate way/time/place. :D So thank you!
( 8 speakses — have a speak )

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